30 Before ’15: Records Not to Miss Before the New Year Hits

Posted in Features on July 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I made this. (Etching by Jacob Strutt 1824)

Before I even start, let’s get one thing out of the way. I want a new Sleep album too. My not including them on this list isn’t due to the fact that I don’t think a new Sleep album is a good idea, but just because I haven’t seen anything about it being recorded or released in the next five-plus months. If it hits on Jan. 1, 2015, I’ll be the happiest Baby New Year you ever saw, but that’s a different list altogether.

Ditto that Om and High on Fire. The latter were writing as of May, and I know Om did some recording way back in January, but I’ve yet to see solid word of new records at all, let alone before the end of the year. Either or both or all three may happen, but until I see some hint of it, all I can go on is the info I can find.

Seriously though, how badass would it be if all three put out albums before the New Year? That excitement is kind of what this list is about. Some of these records I’ve heard, but most I haven’t, so it’s just basic speculation about what I think could be some of the best releases in the next couple months. You’ll note that while there are plenty of dates TBA, nothing listed arrives in November, so as 2014 winds down, there’s bound to be even more quality stuff than appears here.

In fact, I struggled to take things out to get it down to 30. And it still goes to 31! I figured no one would mind. They’re numbered, but the list is in alphabetical order.

If I left something out you’re dying to hear, please let me know in the comments.

Thanks in advance for reading:

 

1. Alunah, TBA (Sept.)

Thee band Alunah. I've used this picture A LOT.
Birmingham’s Alunah, like several others below, are a holdover from the Most Anticipated Albums list back at the start of the year. The difference between now and then is that, while its title still hasn’t been revealed so far as I know, their Napalm Records debut has been recorded, mixed and mastered, the latter by Tony Reed, the former by Greg Chandler of Esoteric, and given a September release date. Two years after Alunah made riffy doom sound easy on their sophomore outing, White Hoarhound (review here), I look forward to hearing how they’ve grown and shifted in their approach to warm-sounding tones and memorable hooks. They’ve set a pretty high standard for themselves. Alunah on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

2. Apostle of Solitude, Of Woe and Wounds (Oct.)

Dudes.
These guys. I don’t mind telling you it was a thrill when Indianapolis doomers Apostle of Solitude were announced as having signed to Cruz del Sur to release their third album, Of Woe and Wounds, this fall. Their second outing, 2010′s Last Sunrise (review here), didn’t get the attention it deserved, but the handful of songs they’ve made public since have shown much promise, and as the first Apostle of Solitude full-length to feature guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also Devil to Pay) in harmony with guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown — the band is completed by bassist Dan Davidson and drummer Corey Webb — this is definitely going to make for a doomly autumn. Apostle of Solitude on Thee Facebooks, Cruz del Sur Music.

3. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance (Aug. 26)

Cartoon Darryl coming soon to Adult Swim. (Art by Alexander von Wieding).
Recorded late last year at Amps vs. Ohms in Boston, the third album from Maple Forum alum Blackwolfgoat — the prog-drone alter ego of guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, Roadsaw, etc.) — is the project’s most expansive outing yet, and it seems Shepard is moving more in a song-based direction, rather than some of the building loops of the past two offerings. Of course, there will be plenty of those as well, but watch out for some acoustic guitar, and deep-in-the-mix vocals, as they could easily hint of things to come. Or Darryl could turn it on its head and do a calypso record. Either way, I’m on board with no pretense of impartiality. Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp, Small Stone’s Bandcamp.

4. Blues Pills, Blues Pills (Aug. 5)

Lot of this lately.
The much-heralded Swedish/French/American psych-blues conglomeration Blues Pills will make their self-titled debut (short review here) next month, and while it’s probably going to be a bigger deal in Europe than in the States — at least until Nuclear Blast brings them over here for a tour, then the country is going to go apeshit for them — the songwriting and soulful execution of their tracks justifies the hype. There’s a bit of retro posturing to what they do, some Graveyard shuffle (it feels inevitable at this point with a ’70s-influenced band), but the grooves are easy to dig into and the potential is basically limitless for where they want to go. It’s scary to keep in mind, but this is just the beginning. Blues Pills on Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast.

5. Bongripper, Miserable (July 7)

Frickin' Bongripper.
You may notice something strange about the date above for a list of upcoming albums in that July 7 was yesterday. Well, Chicago’s Bongripper posted their new three-track full-length monster Miserable on their Bandcamp for stream and download ahead of the vinyl’s arrival, and it was just too righteous to leave out. Those seeking landmark riffing need look no further than the 19-minute centerpiece “Descent,” which meters out stomp enough that future “scientists” will study its footprint, and closer “Into Ruin” (28:25) is guaranteed to be the heaviest half-hour you’ll spend today. Miserable feels like a no-brainer, but maybe that’s just because Bongripper have such a propensity for pounding skulls into mush. Bongripper on Thee Facebooks, Miserable on Bandcamp.

6. Botanist, VI: Flora (Aug. 11)

Neato.
I feel like I missed a couple numbers from San Francisco-based environmentalist black metal unit Botanist along the way, but they’ll nonetheless issue VI: Flora on The Flenser next month, furthering their marriage of destruction and beauty and insistent percussive expression. The spaces Botanist — a one-man project from Robert Martinelli — create feel ritualistic without the dramatic posturing that pervades much of the genre, and sound, somewhere between raging and mournful, is hypnotic. Whatever your expectation might be, Martinelli seems pleased to use it to their advantage, and ultimately, defy it. Post-human, hammered dulcimer-laden black metal. It would be harder for Botanist to not be unique. Botanist on Thee Facebooks, The Flenser.

7. Brant Bjork, TBA (TBA)

Mr. Bjork, recording.
When Brant Bjork‘s next album might show up, I don’t know. I know he’s signed to Napalm, and I know the photo above was snapped as he finished some vocals before going on tour with his Low Desert Punk band that includes guitarist Bubba DuPree, bassist Dave Dinsmore and drummer Tony Tornay, but whether or not the album they made is the funk-inspired Jakoozi that’s been in the offing for a while, or another collection of songs, and if Napalm will get it out before the end of the year remain a mystery. I do find it interesting that for his first “solo” outing post-Vista Chino (that band being on hiatus), Bjork has assembled a new band to work with rather than record multiple instruments himself, but no matter who’s involved, when it’s Brant Bjork writing the songs, it’s gonna be high rock from the low desert. Can’t wait to dig into whatever comes. Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

8. Earth, Primitive and Deadly (Sept.)

Erf.
The headline for Earth‘s new album is it’s the one where they experimented with vocalists. And hey, if you’re going to toy around with the idea, you might as well get Mark Lanegan involved. The former Screaming Trees frontman is one of several singers appearing on Primitive and Deadly, due in September on Southern Lord, and it would appear that Earth‘s sound — always evolving, always somehow changing — is about to take another considerable turn. Fortunately, the Seattle band, led by guitarist Dylan Carlson and now approaching their 25th year, have long since proven worthy of trusting with their own direction. Earth will never be huge, by the simple nature of what they do, but their influence resounds and the quality of their output is unmatched. Earth on Thee Facebooks, Southern Lord Recordings.

9. Electric Wizard, Time to Die (Sept.)

Art by Jus Oborn.
“Wake up baby/It’s time to die.” So goes the title-track hook of Electric Wizard‘s new album and Spinefarm Records debut, Time to Die. As ever, it’s simple, hateful, drenched-in-fuzz misanthropy, and Electric Wizard revel in it accordingly. Their witchcult continues to grow in their native UK and abroad, and while their last two records have divided some listeners, they’ve invariably gained more ground than they’ve lost. A legal dispute with Rise Above finds them on the new label, and if there’s even the slightest chance that change will bring them to the US for a tour, I’ll take it. Expect 66 minutes of glorious filth. Electric Wizard on Thee Facebooks, Spinefarm Records.

10. Fever Dog, Second Wind (TBA)

I cropped it.
Palm Desert youngsters Fever Dog have been kicking around the last few years finding their sound in varying elements of heavy rock and psychedelic experimentation. Most recently, they impressed with the single “Iroquois” (review here) taken from their new album Second Wind, and in looking forward to the full-length, I’m eager to learn how their style has solidified and what sort of vibes they conjure over its course. They’ve shown plenty of propensity for jamming in their prior work, so hopefully there’s a bit of that on hand as well. I’ve said before they’re a trio of marked potential, and nothing I’ve yet heard has dissuaded me from that impression. Fever Dog on Thee Facebooks, Fever Dog on Bandcamp.

11. Goat, Commune (Sept. 23)

Okey dokey.
Somehow, a band from Sweden who dress up in tribal costumes (problematic) and play Afrobeat psychedelia became a very, very big deal. I couldn’t explain it if I wanted to, and I won’t try, but I know that when Sub Pop releases Goat‘s second album, Commune, it’s going to be to a flurry of hype and heaps of critical fawning. It would be tempting to call Goat a novelty act, but their 2012 debut, World Music (discussed here), showcased a legitimately creative musical approach to go with the visual aspects of their presentation, and I find the fact that I have no idea what to expect from Commune to be refreshing. Goat on Thee Facebooks, Sub Pop Records.

12. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren (Aug. 11)

I guess the bearded brethren forgot their shirts.
UK heavy rockers Grifter will make a welcome resurgence on Ripple Music with The Return of the Bearded Brethren, an album that builds on the straightforward, catchy sounds of their 2011 self-titled label debut (review here) and takes their infectiousness to new places lyrically, such as exploring issues of aging via an ode to Princess Leia from Star Wars. That particular brand of humor and is writ large on Grifter‘s second Ripple outing, and the trio set to work refining their take without losing the engaging feel of their self-titled. It feels like a long three years since that record hit, and I’ll be glad to have a follow-up in-hand. Grifter on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.

13. Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz, New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future (TBA)

Aaaaaaaart.
Unclear at this point whether Boston outfits Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz collaborated on New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future, or if it’s a split. Either way, the prolific acts make a sound pairing. Both are vehemently creative and exploratory, psychedelic and progressive each in their way, and if what’s presumably a single finds them working together, all the better, but even if not, new material from either is nothing to balk at, particularly when topped off by such gorgeous artwork. Neither act is ever long from putting something out, so to have them come together one way or another makes a weird brand of sense, which I’m relatively sure the songs will as well. Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks, Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks.

14. Ides of Gemini, Old World New Wave (Sept. 16)

Will make a good tape.
Ides of Gemini‘s 2012 Neurot Recordings debut, Constantinople (discussed here), established the three-piece as freely inhabiting either side of the imaginary line between ambience and heaviness, J. Bennett and Kelly Johnston providing sometimes minimal, sometimes consuming foundations for vocalist Sera Timms (ex-Black Math Horseman, also Black Mare) to cast ethereal melodies. What Old World New Wave will hold sound-wise, I don’t yet know, but Ides of Gemini‘s otherworldly resonance and ultra-patient approach makes it well worth finding out. Ides of Gemini on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.

15. John Gallow, Violet Dreams (Aug. 4)

Art by Costin Chioreanu.
Frontman of Blizaro and Orodruin guitarist John James Gallo adds a ‘w’ to his last name and steps out solo on the I, Voidhanger Records release, Violet Dreams, the title hinting at some of his on-his-sleeve affinity for Italian psych-doom master Paul Chain and Swedish legends Candlemass. Gallo‘s work in Blizaro has a tendency to lean toward the progressive and cinematic, but as John Gallow, the focus is more on classic doom riffing and darkened metallurgy. As one would expect, he’s well in his element on the hour-long album, and I hope he decides to call the next one Ancient Theatre. Also note the incredible artwork of Costin Chioreanu. John Gallo on Thee Facebooks, I, Voidhanger Records.

16. John Garcia, John Garcia (Aug. 5)

Are there rams in the desert?
A long-discussed solo debut for the former Kyuss frontman following a stint alongside Brant Bjork in Vista Chino, John Garcia‘s John Garcia (review here) finds the singer right in his comfort zone, topping desert rock riffs with his trademark guttural vocals. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’d trade a second Vista Chino outing for it if given the choice — that band seemed to be on course for a sound of its own, separate from Kyuss‘ legacy, and that struck me as worth pursuing — but these songs have a similar enough production style that it’s easy to think of the one as an offshoot of the other, and of course Garcia calls his shots well throughout. John Garcia on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

17. King Buffalo, TBA (TBA)

Pretty sure this is a t-shirt design.
Including King Buffalo here was pretty speculative on my part, but I dig the Rochester, NY, outfit and didn’t want to leave the prospect of their STB Records debut long-player out. It probably won’t land until 2015 — the future! — but their demo (review here) still gets regular plays around these parts, and I’m very much looking forward to catching them with similarly-minded Nashville blues rockers All Them Witches when they tour together next month. Whatever King Buffalo‘s recording/release plans might be, they’re definitely one to keep an eye on in the back half of this year. King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks, STB Records.

18. Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy (TBA)

Kangs Deestroy.
Love these guys, love this band. I make no bones about it. Their third record, self-titled and produced as the last two were by Sanford Parker, is as close as they’ve yet come to capturing their live sound, and while they’ve yet to nail down an exact release date, they have a couple very cool tours in the works for this fall, including dates next month with Eric Wagner‘s Blackfinger, that will make a fitting lead-in to their best outing yet. I’ve heard this and had the chance to see some of the material live, and they’ve outdone themselves again, which, considering the esteem in which I continue to hold their 2013 sophomore full-length, A Time of Hunting, is really saying something. Kings Destroy on Thee Facebooks, War Crime Recordings.

19. The Kings of Frog Island, V (Fall)

Thee ol KOFI.
Easily one of the LPs I’m most eager to hear over the next few months, and specifically on vinyl. The Kings of Frog Island have shown themselves to be so dedicated to the format that their early-2013 album, IV (review here), was presented as two bundled sides even digitally. They recently gave a taste of what their fifth album will in-part hold via a video for “Sunburn” and I’m told more jamminess ensues elsewhere to complement that track’s easygoing flow and platter-ready hook. All the better. The Kings of Frog Island on Thee Facebooks, The Kings of Frog Island on YouTube.

20. Lonely Kamel, Shit City (Sept. 9)

But that's not the way it happened.
I’d be lying if I said part of my immediate interest in Oslo heavy rockers Lonely Kamel‘s fourth record wasn’t due to the cheeky title, but it’s been three years since the Napalm Records four-piece released their last album, Dust (track stream here), and as they’ve put in plenty of road-time, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to go into this time around with elevated anticipation. I’m not sure you could get away with calling an album Shit City unless you meant business. Got my fingers crossed that’s precisely the case with Lonely Kamel. Lonely Kamel on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

21. Lo-Pan, Colossus (Oct. 7)

Nice. (Art by Jason Alexander Byers) (Oct. 7)
Fucking a. Doing the research for this list was the first I’d seen the Jason Alexander Byers cover art for Lo-Pan‘s fourth album, Colossus, or its Oct. 7 Small Stone release date. I haven’t heard the tracks yet — they recorded in Brooklyn back in March, and while I got 2012′s Salvador (review here) pretty early, the Columbus four-piece seem to be keeping a tighter lid on the follow-up — and I can’t help but feel like that’s my loss. Judging by what I’ve heard of the material live, Lo-Pan have dug further into their individual brand of riff-led soulful heavy, and I’ve got a high wager that a few months from now, Lo-Pan‘s latest will make an appearance on another list. More to come. Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.

22. Novembers Doom, Bled White (July 15)

Pretty dark for something so white.
One of doom’s most fascinating and largely ignored progressions is that of Chicago melancholists Novembers Doom, who, when they started out 25 years ago, did so largely as a death metal band, and then moved on to pioneer an American interpretation of what’s commonly thought of as European doom, until, over their last several records, as they’ve started to move back to a more extreme, double-kick-drummed style. Bled White, on The End Records, continues along this path, but especially in the cleaner vocals of frontman Paul Kuhr there remain shades of the morose emotionality that typified what’s now become their mid-period doom idolatry. Unheralded, Novembers Doom keep exploring deeper, darker terrain. Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks, The End Records.

23. Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden (Aug. 19)

I requested a copy of this yesterday. A download. The email was ignored. Nice to be put in your place every now and again.
Foundations of Burden is unquestionably among the second half of 2014′s most anticipated albums. Arkansas-based doom four-piece Pallbearer will mark its release with extensive European and North American tours, and where their 2012 Profound Lore debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), came out and caught listeners off-guard with its unabashed emotional core, their sophomore outing finds them positioned at the forefront of American doom. Already the hype machine is rolling out the red carpet for the Billy Anderson-produced Foundations of Burden, but no one can say these guys haven’t put their work in, and the record is indeed one to look forward to. Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.

24. The Skull, TBA (TBA)

Thee Skulle.  (Photo by Ty Klingsick)
For The Skull to put out an album of original material is a unique challenge. Their earlier-2014 first single (stream/review here) found them standing up to it on the new song “Sometime Yesterday Mourning,” but at least half the point of the band since its inception has been to pay homage to legendary doomers Trouble, from whence vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson come. For their Tee Pee Records debut full-length — yet untitled and hopefully out before 2015 — it’ll be most interesting to see how guitarists Matt Goldsborough (ex-Pentagram) and Lothar Keller (Sacred Dawn) rise to the occasion of building off some of doom metal’s most celebrated tones. Fingers crossed on this one. The Skull on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.

25. Snail, Feral (TBA)

Also not the album cover.
Nothing has been formally announced yet, but on Small Stone Records‘ website, they list Snail‘s Feral among their upcoming releases. It would make a suitable pairing, the West Coast riffers having previously worked with MeteorCity on their 2009 post-reunion outing, Blood (review here), prior to independently releasing 2012′s Terminus (review here), and Small Stone seems like a good home for their fourth overall record and return to form as a trio, which was their original incarnation before their original dissolution circa 1994. How they expand on the heavier crunch of Terminus remains even more a point of fascination, and surely their cult following will be glad to find out. I know I will. Snail on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.

26. Steak, Slab City (Sept. 9)

Comics and such.
After two strong EPs in 2012′s Disastronaught (review here) and 2013′s best-title-ever-boasting Corned Beef Colossus (review here), it’s time for London stoner rockers Steak to step up their game for their Napalm Records debut full-length. The four-piece headed to the Californian desert to record Slab City, and so it’s fair to think some of that atmosphere may have worked its way into the material. Would be an awfully long way to go, otherwise. In either case, Steak have showcased considerable songwriting chops already, now it’s just a matter of sustaining it for a full album’s runtime and keeping enough variety in their approach. I have no doubt they’re ready for this next step. Steak on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

27. Stubb, Cry of the Ocean (TBA)

Obviously not the cover, this is Tony Reed's mastering sheet.
It is with simple, unabashed warm feelings that I look forward to hearing Cry of the Ocean, the second long-player and Ripple Music debut from UK riffers Stubb. They’ve traded out drummers since 2012′s self-titled (review here), bringing aboard Tom Fyfe with guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson and bassist/vocalist Peter Holland, but I’m excited to hear what changes and shifts in sound Cry of the Ocean might have in store to match its provocative title. Goes without saying the photo above isn’t the final artwork, but instead Tony Reed‘s mastering sheet from back in May when he worked on the tracks. No solid release date yet, but hopefully soon. Stubb on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.

28. Torche, TBA (TBA)

Rock. (Photo by Janette Valentine)
Torche‘s new album and Relapse Records debut was originally slated for the end of the summer. Given that no official word has come out about a title or anything like that and the members of the band have been busy with other projects, it seems unlikely as of now that they’ll hit that target, but after something of a break so frontman Steve Brooks could focus on the resurgent trio Floor, Torche are in fact getting going again, beginning with their first tour of Australia this fall. Maybe their LP will be out by the time they go and maybe it won’t, but word on the street is that whenever the thing arrives, it’s gonna be heavy, which I have no problem believing. Torche on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.

29. The Well, Monomyth (Late Summer)

Not the final art. At least I don't think it is. I guess it could be.
I’ve been waiting since the March announcement that Austin trio The Well signed with RidingEasy Records for further word of their debut full-length, Monomyth (pretty sure that’s not the cover above), but thus far to no avail. Their 2012 single, Seven (review here), was a repeat-listen thriller, and anticipation abounds for what sort of psychedelic garage riffing they’ll conjure up for the album itself. It’s been a couple months at this point, and maybe it’ll be 2015 before Monomyth gets out, but screw it, a boy can hope. The Well on Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.

30. Witch Mountain, Mobile of Angels (Sept.)

Not final cover art replaced with band photo.

Please note: The original cover art with this post was not final and has been replaced with the above band photo.

Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain have spent much of the two years following their 2012 third LP, Cauldron of the Wild (review here) on tour in the US and abroad, playing fests, headlining, supporting, but generally putting in a lot of time. As such, Mobile of Angels, which will be out on Svart in Europe and Profound Lore in North America, comes as the end product of a considerable touring cycle. Has all that gigging worn Witch Mountain into the ground, or will they rise above it with metal-loving doom-blues supremacy? They’ve got a vinyl-ready 38 minutes on tap for September and if they’ve ever been in a position to make their case, it’s now. Watch out for the killer sway in “Can’t Settle,” the title of which seems a fitting theme for the band. Witch Mountain on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.

31. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend (Sept. 2)

Well yeah. Duh. (Art by Orion Landau)
Yet again — as was the case back in January — alphabetical order forces me to end with YOB, whose seventh full-length and Neurot debut might just be my most anticipated of all on this list. The recently-unveiled Orion Landau cover speaks to a brooding sentiment, and from the one time I was fortunate enough to hear it to-date, the four-track album from the Eugene, Oregon, natives corresponds to its visual side in being a more aggressive push than was 2012′s Atma (review here), but also more exploratory and contemplative in its approach. Now statesmen in American doom and the forebears of a cosmic-minded sound, YOB stand ready to showcase a creative progression that has yet to find its end point. YOB on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.

Other Notable Mentions

Just a couple of these I’d be remiss if I didn’t note. Some were carried over from earlier this year, others just come up along the way. Not sure on all the release dates, but these are worth keeping an ear out for:

Acid King — Were listed in January, but their record has a Feb. 2015 release date.

Bright Curse — Second album recorded at Skyhammer Studios.

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth — My understanding is the album is done and they’re waiting to secure a label. Seems like a good occasion for Southern Lord to step forward, if not Profound Lore or Neurot.

Eggnogg — Not sure if it’s their full-length, You’re all Invited, or something else that’s coming, but whatever. More stoner-funk riffing needs to be had.

40 Watt Sun — There was some word of this early in the year, but nothing since.

Godflesh — Their first in 15 years, A World Lit Only by Fire, will be out Oct. 7. A fuckup not including them on the list proper.

It’s Not Night: It’s Space — Eagerly awaiting the Small Stone debut from this instrumental outfit, but it might be next year.

Karma to Burn — New album, Arch Stanton, out in August. I emailed for a review promo and never heard back. Always a great feeling.

Larman Clamor — Solo-project from Alexander von Wieding has a new one in the can, but I’m not sure on the release schedule.

Lowrider — They’re working on it, but don’t hold your breath to have it out by December.

The Machine — Kind of a slow year for Elektrohasch, but the new one from these Dutch fuzzers would be a nice way end up.

NachtmystiumCentury Media releases their final album, The World We Left Behind, on Aug. 5.

Orange Goblin — Seriously debated putting them on the list, since I know they’ve recorded, but they seem to be promoting a recent reissue of 2007′s Healing through Fire and their upcoming European tour with Saint Vitus rather than their new album, so unless news comes out about it like this week from Candlelight, I wouldn’t expect it until early in 2015.

Pink Floyd – Believe it when I see it, but I honestly couldn’t care less either way if I tried.

Ruby the Hatchet — Their full-length Tee Pee debut is due sometime in the next couple months.

Sun Voyager — Upstate NY youngsters had hinted at new recordings.

Again, if I forgot anything — and I’m sure I did — please let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

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The Top 15 of the First Half of 2014

Posted in Features on June 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

top 15 of the first half of 2014

It’s custom around here to do a Top 10 of the First Half of the Year, in advance of doing a Top 20 of the Year in December. The idea is that the later list will basically build on the earlier one. That’s never really how it works out — albums always drop off or appear unexpectedly depending on what gets listened to most, what gets reviewed late, etc. — but it always works out to be a good time anyway, and that’s really what it’s all about.

The difference this year is that instead of doing a Top 20 in December, I’m planning on expanding to a full Top 30, so to do a Top 10 of the stuff from January until now makes less sense. So here we are with a Top 15. A slightly longer list, but still the same basic idea as years past otherwise. These are albums I’m expecting will turn up again at the end of the year on the final Top 30, and though some will and some won’t and almost all of them will move around, there are more than a handful — particularly if we’re counting by fingers — of essential records released over the last six months recounted here.

If you missed something, I hope it’s something cool you get to check out, and if I missed something (as I inevitably did), I hope you’ll let me know in the comments. Please note that this is full albums only, no EPs, splits, singles or demos.

Enjoy:

 

15. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes

Mr. Von Wieding outdoes himself yet again with the art.

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed April 25.

I’ll freely admit I was more than a little thrown off by the change in approach on Greenleaf‘s fifth album. Where prior outings like 2012′s Nest of Vipers (review here) and 2007′s megatriumph Agents of Ahriman had been lush heavy rock affairs helmed by Dozer guitarist Tommi Holappa with a slew of guests on vocals, organ, etc., Trails and Passes dialed back the “extras” in favor of a more stripped down, stage-ready approach. Holappa‘s songwriting alone would likely be enough to have Greenleaf on this list one way or another, and Trails and Passes is one of the year’s best. The turn was just unexpected and I feel like I’m not caught up to it yet.

 

14. Druglord, Enter Venus

Awesome.

Released by STB Records. Reviewed Feb. 14.

Initially put out in a limited tape run in late 2013 (review here), the Enter Venus full-length from Richmond-based sludgers Druglord codified the noisy murk of their prior outings into one devastating wave of lurching riffage and echoing shouts. The Virginian three-piece recorded with Garrett Morris of Windhand and the STB vinyl topped off with artwork by W. Ralph Walters, making for a package both visually and sonically devastating, and though it’s short for an album at under a half-hour, the 12″ still earns the nod for the unmitigated heft its four songs carry. It’s one you can either dig or miss out, but Druglord show there’s more room for invention in sludge.

 

13. Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate

Patches.

Released by Deathwish Inc. Reviewed May 15.

There really isn’t much left to say when it comes to Wovenhand and their driving force, frontman David Eugene Edwards. Their first for Deathwish Inc., Refractory Obdurate is the latest document of one of this generation’s most accomplished songwriting progressions. It follows a brilliant record in 2012′s The Laughing Stalk (review here) and likely precedes one in whatever they decide to do next, and the enduring fascination on Edwards‘ part with tonal weight and groove continues to push Wovenhand into a creative territory that is without genre. Nobody else comes close.

 

12. Papir, IIII

Lines.

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Quick-working Danish jammers Papir made a strong impression with IIII early in the year, offering a progressive take on the style of heavy instrumental jamming that has flourished throughout Europe over the last half-decade or so. Immediately individualized, the Copenhagen three-piece carried across four intricately constructed pieces, most open with the 21-minute “III” but never lacking for twists and turns that were an utter joy to follow. A band that has already collaborated with the even-jammier Electric Moon and who’ve aligned themselves with Causa Sui‘s El Paraiso Records, they seem like a safe bet to continue to grow into reliable purveyors of high-quality instrumental heavy psychedelia.

 

11. Ogre, The Last Neanderthal

Lots of awesome cover art this year.

Released by Minotauro Records. Reviewed March 10.

Its arrival was heralded by the righteousness of a Lego video for “Nine Princes in Amber,” though even that was little preparation for the classic doomery that would take place on the return long-player from Portland, Maine’s Ogre. The trio of guitarist Ross Markonish, bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham and drummer Will Broadbent broke up in 2009, got back together in 2012, and with their fourth album, they made it clear they still had plenty to offer those who worship trad-style riffing, Sabbathy grooves and the kind of hooks that stay with you for days. The Last Neanderthal had plenty of those, and “Warpath,” the aforementioned “Nine Princes in Amber,” “Bad Trip” and “Son of Sisyphus” tapped into what makes the best of doom so ready for repeat listens.

 

10. Floor, Oblation

Pointed.

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed April 22.

Another reunited trio, Floor had it tough coming into their first album in a decade, Oblation. The legacy of their 2002 self-titled would loom large over anything they put out, and guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks had since gained a huge following as the spearhead of Torche, but four years after they started playing shows again, Floor met the challenge head-on with Oblation‘s 14 tracks, showing a natural progression from where they left off so long ago without seeming like they were trying to recapture a past that inevitably would prove irretrievable. Instead, they’ve set themselves on a course for continuing to develop as a band, and though Torche have a new album expected out this summer on Relapse and doubtless that will take some time and focus away from Floor, hopefully they keep pursuing that growth.

 

9. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty

Skully.

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed March 14.

I’ll claim no impartiality when it comes to Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rock purveyors Mos Generator or the craftsmanship of guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed, but if half the point of a list like this is to nerd out over albums you dig (and I’ll gladly argue that it is), then Electric Mountain Majesty is right where it should be. Reed, bassist Scooter Haslip and drummer Shawn Johnson are clockwork-reliable when it comes to putting out high-grade material, and their second record since getting going again after Reed‘s few years in Stone Axe pushed beyond the considerable accomplishments of 2012′s Nomads (review here) and brought their sound to new and at times surprisingly doomed places while still keeping their core in a love of classic heavy rock songwriting. From where I sit, new Mos Gen is never one to pass up.

 

8. Blood Farmers, Headless Eyes

These guys sent me the album.

Self-released. Reviewed March 24.

Not that I didn’t expect a new Blood Farmers release to be cool, but Headless Eyes was still a surprise when it arrived earlier in 2014. Who was to say what the New York trio would concoct after a 19-year studio absence? Of course, what they came out with was dead-on horror-loving doomly plod, cuts like the instrumental “Night of the Sorcerers” and the deceptively catchy “Headless Eyes” not only worthy of Blood Farmers‘ substantial legacy but building on it. Void of pretense, Headless Eyes resonated with a brooding atmosphere capped by the surprising closer, “The Road Leads to Nowhere,” a cover of the theme from The Last House on the Left and positioned the three-piece of vocalist Eli Brown, guitarist/bassist David Szulkin and drummer Tad Léger among the fore of traditional doom’s practitioners.

 

7. The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass

They didn't.

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 25.

After seeing them live late last year (review here), digging their 456th Div. tape (review here) and putting their debut single on the best short releases of 2013 list, I had little doubt that their self-titled debut full-length would deliver a satisfying listen. Sure enough, the five-tracks of the quality-over-quantity release did precisely that, the Brooklyn three-piece harnessing unashamed positive vibes to mesh with a burgeoning psychedelic feel, catchy hooks and classic-style road songs serving as a reminder of the good times that rock and roll both provides and complements. Now that summer is here, I expect to revisit The Golden Grass plenty of time over these sunny, hot months, since it would seem the year has finally caught up with the band’s warmth and day-long spirit. The Golden Grass are reportedly headed to Europe later this year, so more to come on them for sure.

 

6. Ararat, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz

Still don't actually own this one either.

Released by Oui Oui Records. Reviewed April 4.

Every time I think I’m out, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz pulls me back in. The third full-length from Argentina trio Ararat seems to hit me with a different song each week. This week, it’s the six-minute “El Hijo de Ignacio,” with the insistent, punkish drums from Alfredo Felitte, backing noise and later keyboard eeriness from Tito Fargo and the low bass rumble of Sergio Chotsourian (ex-Los Natas), whose vocals seem to hover over the rest of the mix as though piped in from someplace else entirely. The whole album had a hypnotic effect that pulled the listener away from how diverse it actually was, moving into and out of heavy psych atmospherics with expert smoothness, but the more attention you paid, the more rewarding the experience became, as Ararat defied any expectations that might have come from their 2012 sophomore outing, II (review here), and boldly pushed toward new avenues of progression.

 

5. Conan, Blood Eagle

This either.

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Jan. 22.

Who’s heavier than Conan? The superlative UK trio have spent the two years since the release of their full-length debut, Monnos (review here), solidifying their dominance, and their first album for Napalm Records plays out like a victory lap over the skulls of lesser riffs. Opening with the near-10-minute lumber of “Crown of Talons,” Blood Eagle solidified the two-sidedness of Monnos into a back-breaking doom assault, and their pummel remains unparalleled as they continue to grow as players and songwriters. This year has also seen producer Chris Fielding join the band on bass, and as badass as Blood Eagle is — one would rarely think of a song called “Gravity Chasm” as being so aptly-named — I can’t help but look forward to hearing what Conan do from here and how they continue to refine one of doom’s most bludgeoning approaches.

 

4. Dwellers, Pagan Fruit

Nope.

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed May 22.

It’s the songs. I really, really dug Dwellers‘ 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (review here) as well, and I won’t say a bad word about that album, but Pagan Fruit is in a different class altogether. And you know, it’s not just the songs. It’s how the songs play next to each other, the mood they create, and the hooks that Dwellers bring to the table with so much stylistic poise, calling the bluffs of any number of heavy psych blues rockers on “Totem Crawler,” or “Creature Comfort,” or “Son of Raven” or “Spirit of the Staircase.” The Salt Lake City-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano, bassist Dave Jones and drummer Zach Hatsis brought new levels of cohesion to their sound throughout Pagan Fruit and it remains an album that I have yet to get enough of hearing, one that seems to offer more each time I put it on and let my mind drift to its patient, open spaces.

 

3. Fu Manchu, Gigantoid

This one I bought.

Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed May 14.

From here on out, on any given day, any one of these is my album of the year. What a thrill it was to put on Fu Manchu‘s first album in five years, Gigantoid, and have it roll out such a tight-knit collection of heavy rolling excellence. The West Coast stoner riff gods of gnarl stripped down their production inspired in part by a reissue campaign of their earlier work on their own At the Dojo Records label, and the punkish feel suited them better than even they likely could’ve expected. With its opening four-song punch, the no-frills shot of “No Warning” and the closeout jam at the end of “The Last Question,” Gigantoid felt like more than one could’ve reasonably asked from a Fu Manchu long-player 20 years on from their debut, but the vitality they showed in its tracks, paired with the efficiency with which the songs were executed, showcased a timeless, perpetual appeal. They know what they’re doing and how they want to do it, and just because there was no doubt going into Gigantoid doesn’t make the end product any less of a payoff.

 

2. Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia

Especially this one is number one. Didn't get a CD of it either though.

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed on March 11.

I’ve gone on at some length about what I find so appealing in the second full-length from Bordeaux trio Mars Red Sky, so even putting aside the deft hand with which they incorporated further heavy psych soundscapes into their songwriting, let me just focus on how memorable Stranded in Arcadia actually is. That was true as well of Mars Red Sky‘s 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but these songs are more ambitious, from the eight-minute opener “The Light Beyond” to the gorgeous melody-wash in the chorus of “Join the Race” and the stomp in the de facto closer “Seen a Ghost” before the leadout/refrain “Beyond the Light” calls all the way back to the first track. The development of Mars Red Sky‘s take isn’t necessarily such a surprise — the debut had its psychedelic, jammy feel as well — but the fact that the trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz managed to elicit such development while remaining true to the warm tones and humble, unpretentious vibe of the debut only makes Stranded in Arcadia more remarkable. I wouldn’t stop listening to it if I could.

 

1. Wo Fat, The Conjuring

Yeah, this neither.

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed June 18.

It wasn’t easy to hold off on reviewing the fifth album from the Texas power trio for as long as I did, but I thought the record was too good to jump the gun on, and so yeah, it’s a pretty recent writeup, but I feel comfortable putting The Conjuring at number one here because I’ve actually had a while to live with these songs. Or maybe “live in” them would be a better way to say it, since the dense wall of fuzz and jammed-out distortion Wo Fat create across this record is basically thick enough to take up residence. Recently back from a European tour, Wo Fat hit the road supporting their finest work to date, and as the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter are more or less self-sustaining in their own Crystal Clear Sound studio in Dallas, there’s no reason they can’t just keep developing along the path they are. The Conjuring boasts their best jams yet but also holds firm to the already-planted-in-your-consciousness hooks that Wo Fat have long since established a penchant for, and one could just as easily put the band at the fore of traditional heavy rock riffing as of American heavy psych jammers. Any way you look at them, they’re at the top of their class.

Quick honorable mention goes to Radio Moscow, The Wounded Kings, 1000mods (review forthcoming), Eyehategod, Abramis Brama, Truckfighters, Valley of the Sun, the live Causa Sui record and Alcest. Been a hell of a year so far, and I’m already putting together a list of anticipated records for the next six months, so there’s much more to follow.

Thanks as always for reading.

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On Wax: Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man

Posted in On Wax on June 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Quite a pair.

I don’t want to come off like I’m tooting my own horn, but I feel like Gozu‘s The Fury of a Patient Man is a record I know pretty well by now. The Boston-based outfit’s 2013 sophomore outing was reviewed early last year, wound up on my Top 20 for the year, and was an album that I never strayed too far from as the months passed. As I got to see the band live more often, the material was fresh stayed fresh in my head and even more than their 2010 debut, Locust Season (review here), I considered The Fury of a Patient Man one I more or less had a handle of in terms of its perspective and where the band was coming from.

Thee back cover.Listening back now to the Small Stone vinyl version of it — 500 copies pressed to 180g platters in a thick-stock sleeve with one transparent green LP and one solid purple LP — my impression of the songs themselves hasn’t changed all that much. It’s still a very, very good album, whether you listen to it linear on a CD or mp3s, or whether you get up after a couple songs to turn over between “Salty Thumb” and “Disco Related Injury.” When I first heard it, I remember thinking how much heavier it was than Locust Season, which already lacked nothing for sonic beef. Now, after seeing the band as much as I have since I first heard it (live reviews here, here, here, here, here, here and here), I’m likewise astounded by how much heavier they’ve become live.

Part of that has to be the lineup. In the time since The Fury of a Patient Man was recorded, Gozu guitarists Marc Gaffney and Doug Sherman have solidified their rhythm section with bassist Joe Grotto and drummer Mike Hubbard, but on the 2LP, Grotto is one of three bassists who appears – Jay Canava and Paul Dellaire are the other two — and he’s only on the three bonus tracks included on side D. Hubbard is an even more recent addition than that, and even on those bonus cuts, Barry Spillberg handles drums. The new players have had a significant impact on Gozu‘s sound, so although it’s only a little over a year old, The Fury of a Patient Man already marks a point in the band’s progression which they’ve already moved past.

“Moved past” is the wrong phrase. It’s not like Gozu have outgrown these songs — they still make up the majority of what they play live, and cuts like “Bald Bull,” “Ghost Wipe,” “Irish Dart Fight” and “Signed, Epstein’s Mom” are perennial highlights — but the circumstances have changed. They’re not the same band they were when this album was recorded. Nonetheless, The Fury of a Patient Man remains an unmistakable hallmark of the quality in what Gozu do, and they’ve always been a different act live anyway, putting aside some of the vocal harmonies and layering fromgozu-the-fury-of-a-patient-man-lineup Gaffney and opting for a more straightforward, at times pummeling, approach, blended with the thick grooves and a relentlessly forward thrust.

Both offer a rich listening experience, and I find in revisiting The Fury of a Patient Man that my appreciation for it hasn’t diminished. What was a driving opening salvo of “Bald Bull,” “Signed, Epstein’s Mom,” “Charles Bronson Pinchot” and “Irish Dart Fight” now makes up the majority of side A with “Salty Thumb” hinting at some of the sonic branching out side B will hold, and the unabashed pop catchiness of “Ghost Wipe” and “Traci Lords” stand out well with “Snake Plissken”‘s shuffle on the back half of the green record. I was curious prior to listening what they might do with the 23-minute “The Ceaseless Thunder of Surf,” but it appears here uninterrupted as the entirety of side C and preserves its claim as the album’s most get-lost-in-it moment.

The aforementioned bonus tracks, particularly “Break You,” which is the middle of the three, are of particular note for being the band’s most recent recordings. Teaming with Lo-Pan vocalist Jeff MartinGozu open side D with a cover of the title-track to D’Angelo‘s 1995 debut, Brown Sugar that incorporates parts of “Shit, Damn, Motherfucker” as well. If it’s a goof, it’s far from Gozu‘s first — see also almost all of their song titles — but they’ve always had a touch of soul in their approach anyway, so “Brown Sugar (Shit Damn Motherfucker)” speaks to that, offers a thick groove from Grotto‘s bass and takes on a classic funk-jam kind of feel, Gaffney and Martin working well enough alongside each other so that I hope it’s not their last collaboration.

Arriving prior to a Simply Red cover “Holding back the Years,” “Break You” is the only one of the bonus tracks that’s a Gozu original, and it starts with Gaffney‘s voice with the guitars, bass and drums swelling up behind before moving into a dreamier verse in a linear kind of structure that’s still not devoid of a hook, the chorus, “I don’t want to break you/I only want to shake you,” etc., standing up to any of its counterparts on the album proper and still leaving roomSide D. for Sherman to rip into a solo marking out the apex prior to a final slowdown and some well falsetto’ed last-minute crooning . Their take on “Holding back the Years” is decidedly more open, reinterpreting the cut from Simply Red‘s 1985 debut, Picture Book, with an airy, psychedelic sprawl, guitar and voice echoing alike over a solid but languid rhythmic foundation that spreads the four-minute original to nearly twice its original length.

It’s a more adventurous cover if less of a party than the D’Angelo track, but frankly, both have their appeal and show more than a little effort on Gozu‘s part to make them their own. Together with “Break You” and the rest of The Fury of a Patient Man itself, the 2LP edition of the album becomes not only a reminder of one of last year’s best outings, but a celebration of it as well and a look for fans at a band who continue to get more and more vibrant as they continually defy their comfort zone. As familiar as I’ve felt with these tracks, I’ve yet to make my way through them without hearing something new.

Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man (2013)

Gozu on Thee Facebooks

The Fury of a Patient Man on Bandcamp

Small Stone Records

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Wo Fat, The Conjuring: It was No Dream

Posted in Reviews on June 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

To those already familiar with Dallas riff forerunners Wo Fat, their fifth album, The Conjuring, will likely hold few surprises. It is foremost the next stage in the Texas heavy rock trio’s ongoing progression, captured at the band’s own Crystal Clear Sound studio by guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, it runs a sonically consistent thread forward from their last several records even unto its Alexander von Wieding artwork, the German artist having contributed the last two covers as well, to 2012′s The Black Code (vinyl review here, CD review here), which was their debut on Small Stone, as well as 2011′s Noche del Chupacabra (review here), released by Nasoni. But as that collaboration has yet to yield a piece of such impact as that which adorns The Conjuring, so too do the album’s five songs/47 minutes find Wo Fat at their most developed yet, be it the smooth tempo shifts in “Read the Omens,” the hooks in the opening title-track or the boogie-strong “Beggar’s Bargain,” the bluesy humor of “Pale Rider from the Ice,” or the extended jam in the 17-minute closer “Dreamwalker,” which looms large over the rest of the tracklisting. Wo Fat have only become more spacious and jammed-out over time, so these things are natural progressions, and they very much remain a heavy rock band, but to trace their development since their 2006 debut, The Gathering Dark, and its follow-up, 2008′s Psychedelonaut (review here), is to understand the roots of the utter mastery of their sound they show in these tracks, the power trio dynamic between Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter shining through the dense wall of fuzz and riffed excellence they’ve crafted. I consider myself a fan, but I think even the most impartial of ears would have to admit they’ve outdone themselves again.

Listening to “Dreamwalker,” one can only wonder how long it will be before Wo Fat jam out a single-track LP, one vital piece that brings their voodoo tales and rolling grooves to bear across a massive, 40-minute exploration, but as much as that cut is bound to be a focal point for anyone who takes on The Conjuring, that’s not to underplay the quality of songwriting that precedes (or, really, that contained within it; as stretched out as that song is, it’s also got a hook). The album opens with a sample culled from 1957′s Curse of the Demon, the quote, “I know the value of the cold light of reason, but I also know the deep shadows that light can cast,” topping a mounting swell of feedback that least to the first riffs of “The Conjuring,” which unfolds patiently but clearly announces its verse riff upon arrival. Immediately Wo Fat are in their element: Vital, natural-sounding, not forcing the song but enjoying the trip they’re taking with it. Between songs like “Shard of Leng” and “Lost Highway” from The Black Code, “Bayou Juju” and “Descent into the Maelstrom” from Noche del Chupacabra and “El Culto de la Avaricia” and “Analog Man” from Psychedelonaut, there’s no question Wo Fat have a history of mixing a few choice hooks into each record, the kinds of choruses you hear immediately in your head upon seeing the name of the song, but The Conjuring balances this impulse best of all with their predilection for jamming, extended tracks bookending the album while “Read the Omens,” “Pale Rider from the Ice” and “Beggar’s Bargain” hold true and further the methods they’ve established as their own over the course of their decade-plus tenure. I don’t know how many layers of guitar there are by the time “The Conjuring” wraps its near-10-minute run, but I know they’re all put to good use, and I know “Read the Omens,” which follows, continues the momentum with no letup and a raucous wash of cymbals to accompany.

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Deville Announce First-Ever US Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Deville are in for a slog. The Malmö, Sweden, native heavy rocking four-piece have announced the first US tour dates in their decade-long existence, and they’re not exactly taking it easy on themselves. To take it easy would be the West Coast, go out, do 15 shows in the Northwest and down the coastline into California, maybe cap with a few in the desert somewhere or in Texas or the like. Deville are going the other way — starting in the Midwest and coming east to play venues in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. They’ve given themselves one day off and are playing four shows to cap the run in Ohio. It’s not going to be easy, but I guarantee whatever tour they do next time in the States is going to seem that way by comparison.

Kudos to the band for the undertaking. I’ll look forward to seeing them at the Worcester gig and hope they get to have some good times along the way. The US needs more European bands touring here, and the better stories Deville go home to tell, the more likely someone else is to come over too. So show up and buy merch.

Here are the tour dates:

The dates are up for the US tour! Check it out! Starting next week!

Jun 5, 2014 Madison, WI – Wisco
Jun 6, 2014 Detroit, MI – Trumbullplex
Jun 7, 2014 Altoona, PA – Pellegrin’s
Jun 8, 2014 Buffalo, NY – TBA
Jun 9, 2014 Burlington, VT – Nectars (Metal Mondays)
Jun 10, 2014 Boston, MA – O’ Brien’s
Jun 12, 2014 Worcester, MA – Ralph’s Rock Diner
Jun 13, 2014 New Haven, CT – Three Sheets
Jun 14, 2014 New York, NY – Northside Festival
Jun 15, 2014 Atlantic City, NJ – The Boneyard
Jun 16, 2014 Philadelphia, PA – J.R.’s
Jun 17, 2014 Columbus, OH – Cafe Bourbon St.
Jun 18, 2014 Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class
Jun 19, 2014 Dayton, OH – Blind Bob’s
Jun 20, 2014 Cincinnati, OH – Mainstay Rock Bar
Jun 21, 2014 Chicago, IL – Grand Bar

https://www.facebook.com/devilleband
https://www.deville.nu
https://www.reverbnation/devilleband
https://www.youtube.com/devilleband
http://smallstone.com/

Deville, “The Knife” official video

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Dwellers, Pagan Fruit: The Arms of Delirium

Posted in Reviews on May 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

A guitar line echoes, swells, is met with a quick wash of cymbal, and almost before you realize it, Dwellers have eased you into the pulsing “Creature Comfort,” the opener of their second album for Small Stone, Pagan Fruit. The Salt Lake City, Utah, three-piece have refined the stylistic ideas put forth on their 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (CD review here, vinyl review here), and the result is a molten nine tracks/48 minutes of graceful, patient, heavy psychedelic blues. Front to back, it is neither haphazard nor overly constructed feeling, guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano (ex-Iota) leading the sway with the rhythm section of bassist Dave Jones and drummer Zach Hatsis (both also of SubRosa) helping to steer the material as much as ground it. Songs like the cello-infused “Spirit of the Staircase” drive into exploratory vibes, spaced out and ethereal, but there’s a melancholy at work underneath that, in combination with a more confident vocal and instrumental approach, gives Pagan Fruit a genuine sense of consciousness. It holds to these even in its most swaggering moments, say “Rare Eagle” on side A, “Devoured by Lions” or the penultimate “Waiting on Winter,” and finds its most vivid emotional ground in its moments of pleading, as on the rolling second cut, “Totem Crawler,” with its chorus, “Oh, my queen/To whom I crawl,” or the CD centerpiece “Son of Raven,” which begs, “Come home,” in repeated fashion. These songs are a far cry from any sort of toughguy mentality or dudely let’s-get-drunk-on-beer-and-write-songs-about-whiskey posturing, and ultimately it’s that sincere vibe paired with the memorable songwriting itself that makes Pagan Fruit such a satisfying, engaging experience.

It has its raucous stretches, and a steady flourish of organ from Jones and synth, vibraphone and Rhodes from Hatsis adds depth to the arrangements, and while its songs hit with no shortage of impact – recorded by Toscano‘s former Iota bandmate Andy Patterson, Hatsis‘ kick feels like it’s coming from inside your brain — Pagan Fruit is not a bombastic album. In pacing and execution it is patient and carefully done, a song like “Return to the Sky” finding its soul as much in the raindrop melody of its keys as in Toscano‘s lyrics. Guitar and bass tones are warm, perhaps most of all on the two longer cuts, “Rare Eagle” (7:10) and the closer “Call of the Hallowed Horn” (8:33). The first of the two, fourth of the total nine songs and likely the side A/B split, departs in its midsection to a psychedelic jam with subdued vocals over top, but picks up into insistent riffing, a space-rocking push emerging as organ, soloing and effects are layered in. They jam “Rare Eagle” to its finish, leading fluidly into the album-highlight “Son of Raven,” but “Call of the Hallowed Horn,” which brings in goth-rock singer-songwriter Raven Quinn for a guest vocal spot, reinterprets its chorus over its own sprawling, slow-rolling psych jam, bookending the song and album alike and showing Dwellers‘ care toward varying structures. Of course, by then, the band has done that for 40 minutes, so maybe the point is made, but they underline it well anyhow with the finale, further variety arriving earlier through elements like Toscano‘s harmonica on the swing-heavy “Devoured by Lions,” the steadily shifting key sounds or even just the changes of mood from song to song, all of which remains impeccably arranged and executed with a natural, organic feel, making non-traditional vibes and approaches sound immediately familiar.

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Wo Fat to Release The Conjuring on June 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you’ve got a calendar, you might want to mark June 17 for the release of Wo Fat‘s new album, The Conjuring, or failing that, get your preorder ready to roll. However you go about it, the point is the fifth record from the Dallas fuzz explorers is one you don’t want to let slide. The artwork, release date and bio I wrote were already premiered here a little while back, but a reminder from the PR wire never hurt anybody, and in addition to the preorder link, this one also comes with confirmation of Wo Fat‘s European tour alongside Mothership, whose new album was just recorded with Wo Fat‘s Kent Stump at the band’s own Crystal Clear Sound in Dallas.

That tour includes a stop at the Freak Valley festival, which looks awesome:

WO FAT: Dallas Psychedelic Haze-Bringers To Unveil The Conjuring Next Month Via Small Stone; European Takeover Announced

You can wade through as many WO FAT press quotes about being “Texas-sized” as you want or see how many top-whatever lists the band has made since the Dallas trio began raging in 2003, but none of that is going to be the same as staring down their swampadelic fuzz groove for yourself. If you want to know the monster, shake its hand.

Next month, WO FAT will release The Conjuring, their fifth full-length and second via the volume perpetrators at Small Stone. Much like their last two works — 2012′s The Black Code and 2011′s Noche del Chupacabra – The Conjuring is a heavy-riff/heavy-jam blast of a time, the sort of record that turns the vaguely interested into converts and makes the corners on squares look even sharper.

Guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter are jazz-combo tight and their roll is easy and natural, much like Fu Manchu, but far bigger and in the case of The Conjuring, far darker. There’s been a creature lurking in the woods since WO FAT’s 2006 debut, The Gathering Dark. Their second album, 2009′s Psychedelonaut, pulled back on the threat some to lighten the mood, but whether it’s the motor-driven rush of “Read The Omens” or the you’re-already-lost-in-it riff-exploration of seventeen-minute closer “Dreamwalker,” The Conjuring is indeed a backwoods ritual. Bluesmen have sold their souls for less.

Veterans of Roadburn, slated for Freak Valley 2014 and self-sufficient with Stump handling the recording at his own Crystal Clear Sound on their home turf, WO FAT pushes their jams farther than they’ve ever gone before on these five tracks. Topped off with a mastering job from Nolan Brett at Stump’s studio and an otherworldly cover courtesy of Alexander Von Wieding, the beast that WO FAT’s tectonic riffage calls to earth has never seemed more real or more alive than it does on The Conjuring.

The Conjuring Track Listing:
1. The Conjuring
2. Read The Omens
3. Pale Rider From The Ice
4. Beggar’s Bargain
5. Dreamwalker

The Conjuring will drop via Small Stone on June 17th, 2014 on CD, vinyl, and digitally. Preceding the release, WO FAT will take their smoky stoner rituals overseas on a twelve-date trek. The games begin on May 27th in London. From there, the band will spread their jams through France, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Sweden, and Spain, including an appearance at the illustrious Freak Valley Festival sharing the stage with Truckfighters, Blues Pill, Solstafir, Mothership and more!

Preorder The Conjuring today at THIS LOCATION where you can also sample fourth track, “Beggar’s Bargain.”

WO-FAT Live 2014:
5/27/2014 The Black Heart – London, UK
5/28/2014 Le Glazart – Paris, FR
5/29/2014 Little Devil – Tilburg, NL
5/30/2014 Freak Valley Festival 2014 – Netphen, DE
5/31/2014 Jagerklause – Berlin, DE
6/01/2014 Fonobar – Waraw, POL
6/02/2014 Chemiefabrik – Dresden, DE
6/03/2014 Chemiefabrik – Munich, DE
6/04/2014 Kinski – Zurich, SW
6/05/2014 Le Volume – Nice, FR
6/06/2014 Rocksound – Barcelona, ESP
6/07/2014 Peyote Fest – Madrid, ESP

http://www.facebook.com/wofatriffage
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords

Wo Fat, “Beggar’s Bargain” from The Conjuring (2014)

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Six Records Released Yesterday You’re Going to Want to Pick Up

Posted in Features on April 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This kind of thing happens every now and again throughout the course of a year, where there just happens to be one day filled with killer releases. It’s convenient if periodically overwhelming, and even in this age of preorders and stuff just showing up in the mail — a somewhat disconnected process compared to going to a shop and asking at the counter if something is in yet, but again, convenient — a day like that can be special. I remember days like that going back a longer time than I care to admit, and yesterday was definitely one of them as well.

If you felt the North American continent rumble just a little bit, that was probably just the combined weight — applied one on the West Coast, one on the East — of Fu Manchu and Floor putting out records at the same time. What will no doubt be two of 2014′s best releases when the year is done both arrived on April 29, but they were hardly the end of the story. In case you missed any of it, here’s a convenient (there’s that word again), alphabetically-organized assemblage from which to organize yourself before payday:

1. Floor, Oblation

Released by Season of Mist. File picking up the first Floor record since 2004′s Dove as a no-brainer. The Miami trio of guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks, guitarist Anthony Vialon (interview here) and drummer Henry Wilson have been kicking around doing stuff live since a little while after they released their 8CD Below and Beyond box set in 2009, but Oblation (review here) is the new album and spiritual successor to 2002′s landmark self-titled outing. Following that one up is no easy task and they know it, but I think history will serve Oblation well in the long run, songs like “Love Comes Crushing” and the eight-minute “Sign of Aeth” expanding the sludge-pop formula that made Floor‘s early work so vital without sacrificing the hooks that at this point have spanned more than a decade en route towards timelessness. Floor on Thee Facebooks.

Floor, Oblation (2014)

2. Fu Manchu, Gigantoid


Released by At the Dojo. The first new Fu Manchu self-release after two full-lengths on Century Media and a handful of reissues through their own imprint, Gigantoid brings a rawer sound from the widely influential SoCal fuzz stalwarts. They recorded with Moab guitarist Andrew Giacumakis, and while the album boasts some quintessential examples of what’s always made the Fu‘s songwriting so infectious — looking at you, “Anxiety Reducer” and “Radio Source Sagittarius” — their hardcore punk roots come through on “No Warning” and Gigantoid rounds out with an extended jam led by bassist Brad Davis on “Last Question” and filled out through a barrage of effects from guitarist Bob Balch. If I can get to it today I’ll have an interview up with guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill (otherwise tomorrow), and a review is forthcoming, but the short version is Gigantoid is one of the year’s best, no doubt. Fu Manchu on Thee Facebooks.

Fu Manchu, Selections from Gigantoid (2014)

3. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, Spirit Knife


Released by Small Stone. Swedish upstarts Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus offer engaging touches of heavy psychedelic blues and expanded-definition stoner rock on their third long-player and Small Stone debut, Spirit Knife (stream/video premiere here), working naturally in a classic heavy context without pretending the last 40 years never happened. The album is immersive and atmospheric, offering standout moments of righteousness in 10-minute opener “Fog by the Steep,” “Clang,” “Point Growth” and elsewhere, and provides a look at a unit with the potential to continue to expand their sound going forward. Seems like JIRM have thus far flown under North American radars for the most part, but Spirit Knife is worth the effort of tracking down, and by that I mean clicking “play” on the Bandcamp stream below to hear it for yourself. Give it some time to unfold and you won’t regret it. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus on Thee Facebooks.

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, Spirit Knife (2014)

4. Revelation, Salvation’s Answer


Released by Shadow Kingdom. Perennially underappreciated Maryland doomers Revelation and Pittsburgh’s Shadow Kingdom Records are no strangers. The label has handled reissues of 1992′s Never Comes Silence, 1995′s …Yet So Far, and 2008′s Release, in addition to having the first release of 2009′s For the Sake of No One and 2012′s Inner Harbor. This time, the band and imprint partner up for a revisit of Revelation‘s 1991 debut, Salvation’s Answer, and while the look is overdue, it’s no less welcome for its late coming. Salvation’s Answer might sound raw 23 years after the fact, but its elemental sound remains deceptively atmospheric, and like much of Revelation‘s earlier output, it wears a deep-running melancholy on its sleeve and blends progressive guitar work with a strong foundation of metallic groove. Revelation on Thee Facebooks.

Revelation, Salvation’s Answer (1991/2014)

5. Salem’s Pot, …Lurar ut dig på prärien


Released by EasyRider Records. Mired in drug-derived riffing and classic horror/exploitation ambience, Swedish four-piece Salem’s Pot have plenty of scummer groove in common with Electric Wizard on their debut, …Lurar ut dig på prärien, but if worshiping at the altar of Sabbath and drawn-out fuzz was a crime, we’d all have been put to death years ago. Their reverential depravity comes through in the three extended tracks, “Creep Purple” (14:28), “Dr. Death” (9:52) and “Nothing Hill” (9:12), and the album unfolds in a haze of degenerate psychedelia. It’s crafted with vinyl in mind, but give me a CD to get lost in front-t0-back without having to worry about changing sides, because Salem’s Pot isn’t the kind of listen where you want to have anything whatsoever to do with consciousness. You could tag it derivative, but what isn’t? Familiar though it might be, it’s still worth a nod. Salem’s Pot on Thee Facebooks.

Salem’s Pot, “Nothing Hill” from …Lurar ut dig på prärien (2014)

6. Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate


Released by Deathwish Inc. History has taught time and again not to be surprised when it comes to the David Eugene Edwards-led outfit Wovenhand, and their seventh offering and first for Deathwish Inc., Refractory Obdurate continues to expand beyond genre bounds, incorporating tonal weight into their signature brilliant arrangements so that songs like “Masonic Youth” (get it?) and “Hiss” pummel their payoffs as much as they enhance the atmospheres of “Salome,” “King David” and the joyously rumbling “Good Shepherd.” Wovenhand are a singular entity on stylistic terms, and Edwards‘ commanding presence burns through this material even at moments when he seems consumed by the full-breadth chaotic churning surrounding him in the mix. Refractory Obdurate – culling influences no less a patchwork than its cover art — is the work of genius, driven by faith and in perpetual development. Wovenhand on Thee Facebooks.

Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate (2014)

That’s a pretty good day. If I left anything out or if you’ve already picked any of these up, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments. Thanks as always for reading.

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Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus Debut “Wind Seized” Video & Stream New Album in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk, Bootleg Theater on April 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, “Wind Seized” official video

If you’re not yet friendly with the early-onset heavy psych sprawl of Swedish youngins Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, chances are that by the time you make your way through their video for the song “Wind Seized,” you will be. Tomorrow marks the release of the Stockholm four-piece’s Small Stone label debut (third album overall), Spirit Knife, which follows the 2011 Transubstans release and recent Small Stone reissue, Bloom, in setting a dynamic, flowing course throughout its 59-minute run and across eight tracks that run a gamut of updated classic influences. Cuts like “Point Growth” delve into sweet, wide-open, Cream-style psychedelic blues, distinguished immediately through the use of organ, while elsewhere, “Sworn Collision” takes “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” head-on to a place no less endearing for its relative minimalism.

The key to the album, though, is immersion. Much as one might look at the moniker Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus and feel lost within it before getting to the last syllable, so too does 10:37 opener “Fog by the Steep” prove encompassing, a languid, rolling groove demonstrating an underlying core of heavy rock that consistently works its way into and through the ensuing full-length as guitarist/vocalist Karl Apelmo, guitarist Micke Pettersson, bassist Viktor Källgren and drummer Henke Persson — as well as guest organist Patrik Kolar, whose contributions aren’t to be forgotten — weave smoothly through atmospheres alternately rambunctious and serene, drawing rounded lines between so that Spirit Knife eases the listener along their path. A catchy shorter cut like “Wind Seized” (for which you can see the video above) retains its airy vibes, and likewise, the space-rocking finale title-track keeps its songwriting in focus even as its swirl seems to consume the album whole, and this balance between gives Spirit Knife not just a sense of consciousness, but of accomplishment as well, the band offering old Zeppelin-style soul in “Clang” and carving their identity in passages in the dream-echoes of “Deep Hardened Woods.”

I won’t lie: Spirit Knife surprised the living hell out of me the first time I heard it. Not just because the band is relatively few in years, but because it’s an hour long and they seem to have no trouble holding it together for that stretch. The closing duo of “Point Growth” and “Spirit Knife” provide both apex and post-script, and in the fullness of their sound, the scope of their influences and the edge of individuality they bring to them, Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus are every bit worth the investment of time and attention. You might notice Small Stone has the record up on its Bandcamp page, but given the opportunity ahead of the release date — which is tomorrow, April 29 — the chance to feature it here in full alongside the premiere of the “Wind Seized” video wasn’t something I was going to pass up. Please feel free to dig in below, and enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus release Spirit Knife April 29 on Small Stone Records. The album was recorded and mixed by Viktor Källgren at Puch Studios in Stockholm and mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio in Ann Arbor, MI. The band have the following live dates booked:

08.05.2014 Insikten, Jönköping (S)
09.05.2014 Hagenbusch, Marl (D)
10.05.2014 Alte Molkerei, Bocholt (D)
07.06.2014 Pustervik, Göteborg (S)

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus on Thee Facebooks

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus’ website

Spirit Knife at Small Stone’s Bandcamp

Small Stone Records

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Greenleaf, Trails and Passes: To be Always Climbing

Posted in Reviews on April 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

With their fifth album, Trails and Passes, Swedish heavy rockers Greenleaf hit reset — and not for the first time. After the grandiose feel of 2012′s Nest of Vipers (review here), the one-time side-project of Borlänge-based Dozer guitarist Tommi Holappa parted ways with the bulk of its lineup, including vocalist Oskar Cedermalm (also Truckfighters), guitarist Johan Rockner (also Dozer) and drummer Olle Mårthans (also Dozer). That would be enough change for any band to go through in two years’ time, but Trails and Passes (released by Small Stone) also marks a considerable turn in methodology, and where Greenleaf formerly played host to numerous guest appearances from countrymen luminaries like Lowrider vocalist Peder Bergstrand (who also sang on the initial Greenleaf EP back in 2000; someday it will be mine), Dozer guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin (who also sang on the first two Greenleaf full-lengths, 2001′s Revolution Rock and 2003′s Secret Alphabets), organist Per Wiberg (formerly of Opeth and now in Spiritual Beggars) and others, this time around, it’s a four-piece band and that’s it. You get guitar, bass, vocals and drums. Simple, and more to the point, tour-able. For Greenleaf to hit the road before would’ve required a family band, but with the inclusion of new vocalist Arvid Jonsson and drummer Sebastian Olsson, the band sounds ready to bring this material to a live setting and capture its rawer appeal in full force. Whether or not the album was produced with the intent of Greenleaf shifting into being a harder-touring act, I don’t know – Dozer‘s hiatus seems to be ongoing, so it’s easy to imagine Holappa getting the itch — but it works out that way anyhow. There are some more complex vocal arrangements on songs like “Depth of the Sun” and the title-track, but on the whole, Trails and Passes feels more stage-primed than anything Greenleaf has produced in over a decade.

Of course, while there are no shortage of changes at hand with the nine-track/42-minute run of Trails and Passes, there’s plenty of continuity as well. As with Nest of Vipers, instrumental recording for Trails and Passes was helmed by former Greenleaf, former Demon Cleaner and current The Old Wind drummer Karl Daniel Lidén, and the partnership between Holappa and bassist/co-founder Bengt Bäcke remains central to the course of this material. One need hear only the interplay of guitar and bass on the later cut “The Drum” to get a sense of the pervasive chemistry between them. Some of Jonsson‘s vocals come in a style not so dissimilar from Cedermalm‘s, particularly on tracks like “Ocean Deep” and “Equators,” and Holappa‘s songwriting also makes for a consistent factor tying Trails and Passes to Greenleaf‘s prior work. The guitarist is one of heavy rock’s finest craftsmen — period — and cuts like those already mentioned as well as the hook-minded opener “Our Mother Ash,” the funk-via-Clutch‘s-”Profits-of-Doom” of “Humans” and the eight-minute exploratory build of “With Eyes Wide Open” serve all the more as a showcase for songwriting with the relative lack of frills surrounding. Trails and Passes emerges as an album that’s exceedingly easy to listen to on repeat. “Our Mother Ash” and “Ocean Deep” set up a series of tradeoffs between straight-ahead rockers and more contemplative material that continues until “Trails and Passes” caps with a blend of the airier elements at work on “Depth of the Sun,” “With Eyes Wide Open” and “Bound to be Machines” and the irresistible push of the cowbell-infused “Equators” (on which both Lidén‘s production and Olsson‘s creative fills are distinguished) and the have-chorus-will-travel “The Drum,” Bäcke serving as the foundation for a finale worthy both of Greenleaf‘s past efforts and the considerable achievements of their current incarnation.

Read more »

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Deville Run the Edge in “The Knife” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Following up on a Heavy Psych Sounds reissue of their 2007 Come Heavy Sleep debut, Swedish heavy rockers Deville have a new video for the song “The Knife.” The track comes from the Malmö four-piece’s 2013 full-length, Hydra (review here), which was also their first release on Small Stone Records. As timing would have it, Deville head out on a European tour this week, having finalized the dates at the start of April, and “The Knife” makes a solid argument for showing up to see them if you happen to be in that part of the world. One doubts they’ll be playing on top of a giant guitar or that there will be huge spinning blades — probably for the best — but as Deville stand in a fine tradition of their country’s heavy rock without bowing to the retro pressures of the current scene, they only make themselves more individualized for their efforts.

Between that conceptual appeal and the actual fruit of Deville‘s songwriting, it doesn’t seem like a way to lose out. “The Knife” was among the most memorable cuts on Hydra, so whether you caught wind of the album or not last year, it’ll be worth either the refresher or the initial exposure to check it out. Rock and roll:

Deville, “The Knife” official video

Music video by Deville performing The Knife.
Taken from the album “Hydra” Small Stone Records 2013.
Directed by: Henrik Christoffersson
Filmed by: Henrik Christoffersson & Peter Tarpgaard
Edited by: Henrik Christoffersson

Europe spring tour is up! New dates added!

25/4 GER Duesseldorf-Pitcher
26/04 CH Lugano TI/STREET/ART Festival
27/04 IT Pescara-Orange Rock Cafè
28/04 IT Roma-Sinister Noise
29/04 IT Santa Croce Sull’ Arno-Rock City
30/04 IT Montecchio Maggiore-E20
01/05 IT Piacenza-Cuncertass Festival
01/05 IT Seregno-Sala Malasangre
02/05 CH St Gallen-Rumpeltum
03/05 IT Torino-Cafè Liber
04/05 FRA Lyon-Le Moko
05/05 FRA Draguignan-Bucephale
06/05 IT Padova-Sotterranei
07/05 FRA Besanqon-Les passagers du Zinc
08/05 BEL Hasselt-Carpe Diem
09/05 GER Munster-Rare Guitar
10/05 GER Berlin-Jaegerklause

Deville on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records

Heavy Psych Sounds’ Bandcamp

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Dwellers Premiere “Son of Raven” from New Album Pagan Fruit

Posted in audiObelisk on April 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Given the chance to pick a track for streaming ahead of the May 6 official release date for Dwellers‘ second album, Pagan Fruit, my mind immediately gravitated to “Son of Raven.” It’s not a raging rocker by any means, and Pagan Fruit – which follows the Salt Lake City trio’s 2011 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (review here) — has a few of those, but it’s among the record’s most memorable anyway, with guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano (ex-Iota) howling out a psych-blues chorus that sticks relentlessly in the listener’s head, all the while he, bassist Dave Jones and drummer Zach Hatsis (both culled from SubRosa) elicit a smooth progression, dynamic and flowing naturally between open, spacious verses and the return to the infectiously moving hook, subtle keys throughout leaving a mark almost unconsciously. “Son of Raven” is the centerpiece of Pagan Fruit, and for good reason.

Setting aside the quality of the songwriting itself, which is consistent throughout the nine-track/48-minute outing, what “Son of Raven” shows even more than opener “Creature Comfort” or a cut like the later, cello-infused “Spirit of the Staircase” is the level of growth between Dwellers‘ first time out and where they are now. Having recently revisited Good Morning Harakiri on vinyl, it sets up much of the soul one finds refined on Pagan Fruit, but just in terms of the sheer confidence of the three-piece in their approach, the newer album allows them to push further into their sound and come up with something that’s more their own. “Son of Raven” is a showcase of patience. Unhurried but not still, it’s the kind of song that would be all but impossible to find on a band’s first album and even on Dwellers‘ second, it makes an impressive accomplishment and is a landmark in the tracklist, among other highlights like the hard-driving “Devoured by Lions,” which follows, and the extended finale “Call of the Hollowed Horn,” which revels in the unpretentious atmospherics the entirety of Pagan Fruit has managed to maintain.

In part, it’s the balance between that atmosphere and the sonic forcefulness of Dwellers that makes the long-player such a special, engaging listen. The band pushes the traditional boundaries of rock, psychedelia and blues, and in so doing, finds an individual place within them.

Give it a couple seconds to start, and please enjoy “Son of Raven” on the player below:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Pagan Fruit was recorded by Andy Patterson at The Boars Nest in Salt Lake City, mixed by Eric Hoegemeyer in Brooklyn and mastered by Chris Gooseman in Michigan. Cover art is by Adrian Brouchy of Coven Illustración, and the album will be released on May 6 through Small Stone. More info at the links.

Dwellers on Thee Facebooks

Pagan Fruit at Small Stone’s Bandcamp

Small Stone Records

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Mike Cummings of Backwoods Payback

Posted in Questionnaire on April 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

My understanding is that if you’re in a heavy band and you’ve made your way through West Chester, Pennsylvania, on an East Coast tour, you’ve probably either stayed at Mike Cummings‘ house or played with his band, Backwoods Payback. As the frontman of the underappreciated and hard-driving foursome, Cummings presents an indomitable personality on stage and off, but is given to backing that up with a thoughtful approach in his lyrics as well as in writings apart from the band. A book of poetry, Confessions of a Lackluster Performer, was published in 2009, and aside from the self-deprecating title, it showed Cummings able to work in textures beyond those of his songcraft, though it seems to be that side of his creativity that most exerts itself. Backwoods Payback made their debut on Small Stone with 2011′s Momantha (review here) and subsequently issued a live EP in 2012 and a studio EP, In the Ditch (streamed here), earlier in 2014.

In addition, Cummings embarked on his first solo acoustic tour last fall (review here), and the release of his full-length solo debut, Get Low, is expected April 19.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Michael Rudolph Cummings

How did you come to do what you do?

I’ve always written in some form or another, since as early as I can remember. Music just seemed to be the next extension of that. It just happened.

Describe your first musical memory.

I had a little portable record player in a blue canvas-colored suitcase. I’m sure there was one in most households with a kid my age (or maybe not, the more I think about it). The movie E.T. had just come out and my mom gave me the Neil Diamond “Heartlight” single. I played that for hours at a time, over and over.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

It changes all the time. Whenever I finish a recording or write a new song, that’s the high I’m always chasing. I just finished my first solo record. Listening back to the tape in the room and forgetting how we even made this thing that was being played back to me…that’s my best memory at the moment.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Every day something I believe in is tested.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

I can’t even begin to try and imagine where it leads. I just follow it wherever it wants to take me.

How do you define success?

Doing the best I can at whatever it is that I am doing and knowing that I gave it all I had.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Everything I have seen makes me who I am today. Nothing… Some things are just harder to handle than others.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I have so much to do still, books to write, songs to sing, pictures to draw. It’s such a strange trip when it happens. I can’t sit and force it. It’s like a wave, and I have to ride it out when it comes.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Waking up tomorrow.

Michael Rudolph Cummings, “Ranch Song” from Get Low (2014)

Mike Cummings on Thee Facebooks

Mike Cummings on Bandcamp

Backwoods Payback on Thee Facebooks

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Gozu Head to Europe; Tour Starts this Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This week, Boston’s own Gozu fly to Europe to begin a tour that will carry them for the next two weeks from Roadburn to the Desertfest in Berlin. It’s an enviable trip with what’s sure to be extra-righteous beginning and endpoints, and though it will have only been about half a month since I last watched them play, I consider Gozu among my gotta-see Roadburn bands. Why? Because everybody brings it toRoadburn. Tired? Jetlegged? Whatever the circumstances are, if you’re ever gonna kill, you’re gonna kill there. I’m looking forward to it.

Dates and whatnots follow, as dictated by the PR wire:

GOZU: Massachusetts Riff Rockers To Embark Upon First-Ever European Tour; The Fury Of A Patient Man Limited Edition Vinyl Out Now

Massachusetts hellions, GOZU, will take their riffs overseas next week for their first-ever European takeover! Set to begin at the legendary Roadburn Festival, the band will wage a full-on volume ambush through ten select locales in the Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia and Italy, concluding with a performance at Desertfest in Berlin.

GOZU will be touting the fruit of their The Fury Of A Patient Man full-length released last Spring via Small Stone. The self-produced ten track monster earned widespread praise for its Chris Cornellian vocal swells and robust, heavy rock swagger.

A special deluxe edition of The Fury Of A Patient Man was recently released via Small Stone in celebration of the upcoming European journey. Limited to 500 copies, the 2XLP set comes on 180-gram wax with a wide spine jacket, poly-lined sleeve, and two colors – LP one is “clear green” while LP two is “solid purple.” Sides one, two and three feature tracks from the original album, while side four offers up exclusive vinyl-only numbers with one original tune (“Break You”) and GOZUed renditions of Simply Red’s “Holding Back The Years” and D’Angelo’s “Shit, Damn, Motherfucker.”

GOZU Spring Tour 2014:
4/12/2014 Roadburn – Tilburg, NL
4/13/2014 Hafenklang – Hamburg, DE
4/15/2014 Feierwerk – Munich, DE
4/16/2014 Channel Zero – Ljubiljana, SI
4/17/2014 Magnolia – Milano, IT
4/18/2014 E20 Underground – Montecchio, IT
4/19/2014 TBA
4/20/2014 TBA
4/22/2014 Das Bette – Frankfurt, DE
4/23/2014 Musicon – Den Haag, NL
4/24/2014 The Underground – Cologne, DE
4/25/2014 Astra Kulturhaus Desertfest – Berlin, DE

Order the vinyl edition of The Fury Of A Patient Man at THIS LOCATION.

http://www.facebook.com/GOZU666
http://www.smallstone.com

Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man (2013)

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Deville Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

After a gig-heavy 2013, hard-rocking Swedish crowdpleasers Deville are getting set to head out on another European tour in support of 2013′s Hydra (review here). The four-piece also reportedly have a video in the works for “The Knife” from that album — it’ll be their second behind “Lava,” which you can see below — and in December, they issued a re-recorded version of their 2007 Buzzville Records debut, Come Heavy Sleep, through Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds.

Good to stay busy, I’m told. The PR wire has tour dates:

Deville, European Spring Tour

Deville will hit the road again and these are the spring dates for Europe!

April25 2014 Dusseldorf,Germany-Pitcher
April26 2014 Lugano,Switzerland-TI/STREET/ART Festival
April27 2014 Pescara,Italy-Orange Rock Cafè
April28 2014 Roma,Italy-Sinister Noise funeral mantra
April29 2014 Santa Croce Sull’ Arno,Italy-Rock City
April30 2014 Montecchio Maggiore,Italy-E20
May12014 Piacenza,Italy-Cuncertass Festival
May2 2014 St Gallen,Switzerland-Rumpeltum
May3 2014 Torino,Italy-Cafè Liber
May5 2014 Draguignan,France-Bucephale
May6 2014 Padova,Italy-Sotterranei
May7 2014 Besanqon,France-Les passagers du Zinc
May8 2014 Hasselt,Belgium-Carpe Diem
May9 2014 Munster;Germany-Rare Guitar
May10 2014 Berlin,Germany-Jaegerklause

http://www.facebook.com/devilleband
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Deville, “Lava” official video

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