Posted in Whathaveyou on May 30th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ohio heavy rockers Lo-Pan have announced the departure of guitarist Adrian Zambrano from their lineup. Zambrano joined the Columbus-based four-piece late in 2014 to fill the role initially occupied by Brian Fristoe, and accompanied the band on their inaugural European tour last year as well as US dates earlier in 2016 with Black Cobra, Bongzilla and Kings Destroy (review here).
His leaving is a genuine surprise. Lo-Pan have most if not all of a new album recorded as a follow-up to their fourth outing, 2014’s Colossus (review here), and Zambrano‘s departure, which the band notes is amicable, leaves it to question what’s to become of those songs and those recordings of them in particular. Of course, the bigger and more immediate issue is who’s going to take over that spot in the band — riffs aren’t exactly a small part of what they do — but the future is yet uncertain or at least unannounced for what would have been and may still be his studio debut with Lo-Pan, now also a swansong for this incarnation of their lineup.
Zambrano, who also plays in Brujas del Sol, excelled in the guitarist position while he had it. I was fortunate enough to see Lo-Pan with him twice and both times he added a presence and energy alongside drummer Jesse Bartz, bassist Scott Thompson and vocalist Jeff Martin that only added to the force of their stage delivery. Should probably go without saying, but good luck to him and good luck to the band in finding somebody to handle guitar. When and if I hear more about their next release, I’ll let you know.
Lo-Pan are currently slated to play Psycho Las Vegas in August. Here’s the statement from the band:
Our guitarist Adrian Zambrano has decided he needs to walk away from Lo-Pan at this time to focus on some other important parts of life. We would like to emphasize that this is an amicable split and we wish him all the best. We are currently on the hunt for a new guitarist and we hope to see you all again as soon as possible. Stay tuned for announcements and new music.
[Throttlerod release Turncoat on June 24 via Small Stone. Click play above for an exclusive track premiere.]
After a certain point, a band’s new album becomes a believe-it-when-you-see-it prospect. Throttlerod, seven years and one social media revolution removed from the release of their last full-length, 2009’s Pig Charmer (review here), were past that point. Still, they haven’t been completely inactive over that span, playing periodic shows near founding guitarist/vocalist Matt Whitehead‘s home-base in Richmond, Virginia, and apparently crafting enough material so that their fourth outing, Turncoat, clocks in at a considerable 55 minutes with 12 tracks. It’s long. CD long, in a vinyl time, but as ever for these cats, the songwriting holds up. Small Stone Records — which was also behind Pig Charmer, 2006’s Nail, the 2004 Starve the Dead EP and 2003’s Hell and High Water (their 2000 debut, Eastbound and Down, was on Underdogma) — is once again handling the release.
While that’s business as usual for Throttlerod, Turncoat still makes for a departure from their past methods in that instead of working with Andrew Schneider, who helmed all the outings listed above, the three-piece of Whitehead, bassist Jeremy Plaugher (who makes his first appearance here; Schneider also played on Pig Charmer) and drummer Kevin White enlisted J. Robbins to act as producer/engineer at his Magpie Cage Studio. Like a lot of bands, Throttlerod have been through lineup changes and this and that, but swapping producers after 15 years is huge, and Robbins — known for his work with Clutch, The Sword, Murder by Death, among many others, as well as for playing in Jawbox and other projects — makes a mark on this material in a way distinct from anything Throttlerod have done before.
Distinct, but not outlandishly removed from Pig Charmer. That in itself is something of a change as compared to, say, the sonic jump they made between Hell and High Water and Nail, which, with less than half the time between Pig Charmer and Turncoat, found Throttlerod revamping their sound from Southern heavy rock to angular noise drawing on influence from early and mid-’90s dissonance. Pig Charmer continued that thread, and Turncoat follows suit to an extent, but as opener “Bait Shop” shows in its chorus, the push comes with a heightened sense of melody as well. Whitehead‘s vocals, layered, are less shouted than sung, and as the two in the one-two punch, “Lazy Susan” answers in kind to “Bait Shop,” Throttlerod seem at least on some level to be reconciling their latter day approach with their beginnings, either consciously or not.
Granted, that melody comes off more post-grunge than Southern-inflected, but as they slow the roll on the early parts of the more brooding “Never was a Farmer,” those elements are easy enough to read into the proceedings, even if the context is different these years later. Rhythmic insistence comes back to the fore on “Lima,” with White propelling a middle-paced push as Whitehead squibbles out on guitar late, his vocals buried under the wall of his and Plaugher‘s tones. The title-track follows accompanied by “You Kicked My Ass at Losing,” and both songs tap into the more grunge-laden approach, the latter more raucously and of course with the best title on the record, which the chorus well earns, capping the first half of the record with a sudden stop and quick-fade cymbal ring-out. They have a long way to go, but Throttlerod are working efficiently and effectively, and for a band who’s been more or less absent for the last seven years, there’s little rust to be heard in this material.
Guitar scorches at the beginning of “Gainer,” an angular beginning opening to a more manageable verse and chorus en route to a finish that recalls once-labelmates Puny Human and that band’s frontman, Jim Starace, in whose memory Turncoat is dedicated and presumably not titled after. The subsequent “Every Giant,” “Cops and Robbers” and “Breadwinner” mostly tap into moods that the record showed earlier, but each has something about it to make one understand how it wound up in the final tracklisting, whether it’s the handclaps in “Breadwinner,” the what-if-Weezer-got-really-pissed-off aggro build in “Every Giant” or the frantic, jazzy bassline in the verse of “Cops and Robbers,” which brings to mind the melodic take on classic noise rock of Black Black Black without sounding directly akin.
Crashing and full-sounding, “I Know a Ship” offers one last landmark hook before closer and longest cut (at 6:29) “The Guard” finishes out with what starts as a more atmospheric take and then moves into chugging starts and stops — I’m tempted to call them Tool-esque, but to be fair, let’s make it pre-up-their-own-ass-Tool — that nonetheless drive as White does laps around his toms toward the finish of the record. Ultimately it’s hard to know how much of an effect Robbins‘ production might’ve had in bringing forward the melodic side of Throttlerod‘s approach — it’s not like there’s a version of the record tracked by someone else to do a side-by-side — but one way or another, the band have come back after seven years and made a record that is a definitive step forward from where they were their last time out. It might take a listen or two to sink in, but Throttlerod‘s Turncoat is one that only grows richer from there.
[It’s Not Night: It’s Space release Our Birth is but a Sleep and a Forgetting on June 24 via Small Stone. Click play above to stream an exclusive premiere from the album.]
Cumbersome in its title and awaited in its arrival, Our Birth is but a Sleep and a Forgetting is the second full-length and Small Stone Records label debut from New Paltz, New York, heavy psych instrumentalists It’s Not Night: It’s Space. The guitar-bass-drums trio issued their first full-length, Bowing Not Knowing to What (review here), in 2012, and were picked up by Small Stone the next year, and since then it seems to have been a process of letting the band’s slow-motion space rock congeal to a point where it’s able to be processed by human minds, which is apparently where we are now. Beaming in from cosmic depths with six tracks — an intro and five cuts between seven and nine minutes a pop — Our Birth is but a Sleep and a Forgetting offers sonic immersion and atmospheric scope in kind with a patient, hypnotic front-to-back flow that adds rich tonality to what guitarist Kevin Halcott, bassist Tommy Guerrero and drummer Michael Lutomski accomplished their first time out.
Parts may have been born of improvisations, but the finished product doesn’t feel like a collection of jams. Rather, a series of interconnected pieces correctly positioned to guide the listener through this aural expanse. Spiritualism, contemplation, philosophy, space itself — all of this seems to be in play for It’s Not Night: It’s Space, as the samples in three-minute opener “Nada Brahma” demonstrate and cuts like “Across the Luster of the Desert into the Polychrome Hills” and “Starry Wisdom” answer back. The material is dynamic, particularly so the build in “Pillars of the Void,” but the key is in the motion of the record as a whole, and It’s Not Night: It’s Space succeed in holding their course while showing varied sides of their approach.
They have some help in that regard from Rick Birmingham, who recorded and mixed and who adds fiddle to “The Beard of Macroprosopus” and closer “The Black Iron Prison and the Palm Tree Garden,” but though the expanse they conjure throughout feels wider than something a trio might be able to craft, mostly it’s Halcott, Guerrero and Lutomski here. Should probably go without saying that effects have a considerable role to play in Halcott‘s approach, but ultimately the album is as rhythmically hypnotic as it is otherworldly of vibe. “Nada Brahma” fades in on voices that sound like chanting mantras to ease the way into the expanded consciousness that follows. An acoustic guitar line, bass, percussion and swirl give an immediate impression like the kind of ritual Om might enact, but the samples and emergent lead electric guitar assure It’s Not Night: It’s Space maintain their own direction from the outset. They’ll continue to do so as “The Beard of Macroprosopus” takes hold with a kosmiche push that grows more and more resonant before it pays off in echoing, winding guitar the tension its early moments have built.
Much to their credit, It’s Not Night: It’s Space avoid the trap of loud/quiet trades for the most part that seem to be so core in a lot of heavy psychedelia, and instead offer linear fluidity with movement of tempo and mood, and a depth of mix through layers of rhythm and lead guitar, effects and spacious drumming. Ending with more sampled chanting, “The Beard of Macroprosopus” echoes into the start of “Across the Luster of the Desert into Polychrome Hills,” for which it doesn’t seem like an accident that “desert” made it into the title. A patient fuzz unfolds in the bass beneath manipulated drone and a subtle build of guitar and drums. The central line that arrives past two minutes in seems born of a surf tradition — as is desert rock — and if the “Polychrome Hills” are being represented in Halcott‘s lead in the second half and the deeply satisfying roll that follows, I’d say they’re being done justice.
A cold end brings the guitar intro to “Starry Wisdom” — I’ll assume that’s where the A/B vinyl split is as well, but it’s the digital version I’m reviewing — which spends its first couple minutes in a post-rock stoner nod before opening to more driving territory, locked in in a fashion that a low of Our Birth is but a Sleep and a Forgetting has shown little interest in being, but still atmospheric on the whole. A big slowdown and blissout awaits in the second half, but the swing never departs entirely as Lutomski plays between crash and snare to ensure the rhythm holds together until the guitar is left to fade on its own into the start of the penultimate “Pillars in the Void,” the subdued opening of which is perhaps all the more effective for how little It’s Not Night: It’s Space have toyed with minimalism throughout.
True there’s still plenty going on as the track gets underway, but the central guitar figure and drum and basslines are more sparse than, for example, “Starry Wisdom” preceding, and the effect is to enact a linear payoff, then drop back to quiet before unfurling the highlight progression of the album as it moves toward and past the six-minute mark. No less immersive than anything before it, “Pillars in the Void”‘s concluding movement showcases a feel for songwriting and linguistic expression (still without lyrics or samples, mind you) that stands it out from its surroundings. One might think that would leave “Between the Black Iron Prison and the Palm Tree Garden” as an afterthought, but that winds up not at all the case, as It’s Not Night: It’s Space close out with a darker mood and straightforward but still trance-inducing groove, bass and echoing guitar giving an impression like Yawning Man by night early before moving into the Spaghetti West in the midsection and reintroducing Birmingham‘s fiddle as they gracefully build their way into the song and the record’s final push, ending noisy and sudden.
As the material comprises it feels worked over, hammered out, and shaped into what the band wants it to be, it makes sense that Our Birth is but a Sleep and a Forgetting might show up four years after It’s Not Night: It’s Space‘s debut, but as a front-to-back listen will attest, time comes to matter little once you dig into that wash and find yourself consumed by it. Fuller in its sound and more clearheaded in its purpose, the album shows definitive growth on the part of Halcott, Guerrero and Lutomski, but manages to do so without sacrificing the exploratory feel that helps make it so engaging and meditative. Similar to the chanting that starts off, the record itself seems to be a mantra. Perhaps It’s Not Night: It’s Space have found wisdom in the stars.
I don’t think Texas heavy rock is what it is today without the groundwork that Austin’s Dixie Witch laid. I remember seeing them at Small Stone showcases at SXSW in the mid-’00s, and it was so clear whose town it was. When drummer/vocalist Trinidad Leal walked into Room 710, he owned the place. Nothing’s universal, of course, and Texas is huge, but do you get Mothership or Wo Fat without Dixie Witch paving the way? I don’t know. The trio of Leal, guitarist Clayton Mills and bassist Curt “CC” Christenson made their debut on John Perez of Solitude Aeturnus‘ vastly underrated Brainticket Records imprint, and would go on to sign to the aforementioned Small Stone by the time the follow-up, One Bird, Two Stones, arrived in 2003, reissuing Into the Sun that same year. Their songs of perservering through hard times and being on the road, blistering solos, thick grooves and Southern-without-caricature brand of rock would make them one of the quintessential Small Stone bands of their generation, kicking ass in the pre-social media age on songs that would become staples like the extended megagroover “Freewheel Rollin’,” “Into the Sun” itself and “Throwin’ Shapes.”
Like the best of their contemporaries, DixieWitch recalled classic heavy rock and roll without sounding anything other than modern. A full 15 years later, if you sent me Into the Sun to review, I’d in no way call it dated. I’d call it awesome, from the title-track at the outset down to the cover of Joe Walsh‘s “The Bomber,” which closes. The soul and the force they put into these tracks — doubly impressive on a debut — would serve as a defining moment for everything they did after, whether it was One Bird, Two Stones, 2006’s Smoke and Mirrors or their 2011 last-LP-to-date (one never knows), Let it Roll (review here), and “Thunderfoot”‘s whiskey-drinking ways, trippy solo and fervent crash makes a great model to follow. That’s not to say the band didn’t grow during their tenure — Smoke and Mirrors was expansive and Let it Roll showed just how tightly honed their songwriting was, even though Mills had left the band — just that Into the Sun set the tone that Dixie Witch would build on as they moved through the decade that followed.
They were underrated at the time, but as a new generation of heavy rockers have come up in the last five or six years, Dixie Witch have been off the touring circuit. Guitarist Joshua “JT” Todd Smith, who replaced Mills for Let it Roll, seems to have relinquished his position to its former holder, and through 2015 and up to this March, Dixie Witch have done sparse live shows. Seems like an act ripe for a triumphant comeback, but of course Leal is touring and playing with Honky now as well, so what if anything might be in the cards for Dixie Witch is anyone’s best guess. But man, they were incredible on stage, and Into the Sun continues to hold up, as I expect it will into perpetuity.
Hope you enjoy.
The Patient Mrs. has been in London since last Sunday. She took a group of some of her students over on a study tour — my wife is a college professor — and will return next Wednesday. It probably would’ve been worse being home alone this week if I hadn’t spent so much time in traffic. 90 minutes to work every morning, except yesterday when it was 100, and at least another hour and a half to get home afterwards. Punishing. By the time I’ve gotten home, I’ve been too exhausted to be lonely. And well, being at work is what it is anyway. It’s not like that’s time otherwise spent hanging out. Not to say I don’t miss her, because I do very much. Fortunately, this trip is nowhere near as long as when she went to Greece for a month two years ago.
But yeah, just kind of a slog to get through the days this week. I knew I was tired when that Radio Moscow giveaway went up yesterday with the wrong venue address. I corrected it, and those things happen, but for me it’s usually a sign I’m on my ass. Get exhausted, get sloppy. I don’t think I’m the only one in the universe.
Good news is I’ve got a friend coming north to chill this weekend and I’ve got a day or two to get some errands done — air conditioners need to go in windows, dog food needs purchasing, some laundry, etc. — and the weather isn’t supposed to be shit here in the Commonwealth, so I should be vaguely restored by the time Monday comes back around and the bullshit parade begins anew. To offset that, I’ve got a pretty busy week in store.
Monday, I might have a Black Moon Circle track premiere from their new EP? Not sure yet, but I’m trying to work it out. Also a King Buffalo track stream. Tuesday a full stream of the new Farflung. Also going to try to fit in reviews for Electric Citizen, Earthless/Harsh Toke and Hijo de la Tormenta, and there’s already a ton of news I’m behind on and a couple new videos to get up as well, so yeah, I expect a barrage. Anyone notice yesterday was seven posts? Today wound up being seven too. Wednesday was six. Not complaining, it’s just a lot to keep up with.
Sometimes as a result a venue that’s in Long Beach gets mixed up with the same venue in North Hollywood. It happens. Pretty sure no one notices but me anyway. Oh, and Albatross Overdrive. They noticed.
I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’m going to try to do the same and not throw out my back dealing with that AC. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Seven years after releasing their third LP, Pig Charmer (review here), vaguely-Chesapeake three-piece Throttlerod return with Turncoat on June 24 via Small Stone Records. In some ways, the new record picks up where the last one left off, bringing thick tones and noise-style heavy rock to bear across an aggressive but still atmospheric span, but there’s a noteworthy departure as well in that the band worked with producer J. Robbins (Clutch, among many others), and I think you can hear that shift even on opening cut “Bait Shop,” which just happens to be streaming now.
While we’re talking odd coincidences, it also just happens that I wrote the bio included with the album info below. Funny how that works out. Kudos to Throttlerod for dedicating Turncoat to the enduring memory of Puny Human vocalist Jim Starace, who is much missed.
From the PR wire:
THROTTLEROD: Long-Running Rock Trio To Release Fourth Full-Length; Record Dedicated To Puny Human Vocalist Jim Starace + New Track Posted
THROTTLEROD has always had a knack for surprising, and their fourth album, Turncoat, is no exception. After making the transition from four-piece to trio, the outfit offered up their third full-length, Pig Charmer, in 2009, and took a left turn from their earlier, riffier vibes to blistering and aggressive noise rock. Like all their prior work, it was produced by Andrew Schneider, and had a sharpness in its chug that, while it still grooved, was clearly looking to accomplish something apart from the band’s earlier three LPs: 2000’s Eastbound And Down, 2003’s Hell And High Water, and 2006’s Nail, as well their quiet, semi-unplugged 2004 EP, Starve The Dead.
While the biggest change that Pig Charmer brought about was in lineup, Turncoat goes even further. Instead of going back to record as they always had, the band hooked up with J. Robbins (Clutch, Coliseum, Against Me!) to lay down Turncoat’s twelve tracks, and the result of the new collaboration is that the album not only follows-up on the aggro promise of Pig Charmer, but builds it outward, in a way that’s more melodically resonant and as much about emotional expression as sonic impact.
Dedicated to the memory of Puny Human vocalist Jim Starace, who passed away in 2012, and who had guested on Nail, Turncoat is an important step forward for the band, but much more, it’s a killer rock album, and whatever THROTTLEROD go through from one record to the next, and whoever happens to be sitting at the helm, that’s the underlying thread. It just wouldn’t be THROTTLEROD if it didn’t kick ass… and offer a surprise or two along the way.
Turncoat was engineered and mixed by J. Robbins at Magpie Cage in Baltimore, Maryland, mastered by Dan Coutant at Sun Room Audio in Cornwall, New York and will see release on CD and digitally June 24th, 2016 through Small Stone Recordings.
Turncoat Track Listing: 1. Bait Shop 2. Lazy Susan 3. Never Was A Farmer 4. Lima 5. Turncoat 6. You Kicked My Ass At Losing 7. Gainer 8. Every Giant 9. Cops And Robbers 10. Breadwinner 1 13. I Know A Ship 12. The Guard
THROTTLEROD is: Matt Whitehead – guitar, vocals Kevin White – drums Jeremy Plaugher – bass
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been a minute or two waiting on news of It’s Not Night: It’s Space‘s debut on Small Stone. Given the lengthy title Our Birth is but a Sleep and a Forgetting, the instrumental New York State trio’s second album is due June 24 and will feature six tracks, the first of which, “Nada Brahma,” is available now for streaming. At four minutes, it’s not exactly insubstantial, but it’s still more of an intro to the record than anything else, with samples and a psychedelic swirl that continues to be a defining thread as the rest of the sprawl plays out across tracks hovering on either side of eight minutes apiece of driving, heavy and thoroughly-spaced rock and roll.
I didn’t write the bio below, but I definitely gave it an edit. Here it is off the PR wire, followed by that track:
IT’S NOT NIGHT: IT’S SPACE: Psychedelic Drone Merchants To Release Our Birth Is But A Sleep And A Forgetting June 24th Via Small Stone Recordings
Guitarist Kevin Halcott and drummer Michael Lutomski founded IT’S NOT NIGHT: IT’S SPACE early in 2010. Crammed in a small, smoky bedroom, they tapped in and jammed, compelled by chemistry to push forward. By that Fall, Tommy Guerrero had joined on bass and the band dropped two self-releases by 2012. The first EP arrived in October 2011. East Of The Sun & West Of The Moon featured three epic instrumental pieces that set the tone for what to expect from INN:IS. Positive response came in virtual and physical realities, and the band set about honing their craft, averaging about fifty-to-sixty shows a year.
Momentum carried them straight into their first LP, 2012’s Bowing Not Knowing To What, self-released with the help of successful crowdfunding raising $5,000 to press CDs and vinyl. It was this album that caught the attention of Small Stone Records. A series of roadblocks and personal setbacks fowlloing that release album set the tone for their second album, the soon-to-be issued Our Birth Is But A Sleep And A Forgetting, set for official unveiling worldwide on June 24th, 2016.
In moldy warehouses, grimy basements, and the dusty backrooms of pizza shops, the psychedelic drone trio channeled new material and worked tirelessly to craft the songs that would become a definitive offering. It became a full-time task. Our Birth Is But A Sleep And A Forgetting rings both familiar and fresh. Longtime fans should have no trouble getting down with the heavy grooves and climaxes of these sonic journeys, but the band has pushed into dreamier territories as well. The long wait to share this very personal and powerful album is finally over, and IT’S NOT NIGHT: IT’S SPACE is ready to get back on the wave and ride it forward.
IT’S NOT NIGHT: IT’S SPACE’s Our Birth Is But A Sleep And A Forgetting was recorded, produced and mixed by Rick Birmingham at Castle Alamut and The Tin Roof Studios and mastered by Chris Goosman (Acid King, La Chinga, solace, Lo Pan, Freedom Hawk etc. ) with artwork by Travis Lawrence. The record will be released worldwide on CD, digitally and limited edition, 180-gram vinyl.
Our Birth Is But A Sleep And A Forgetting Track Listing: 1. Nada Brahma 2. The Beard Of Macroprosopus 3. Across The Luster Of The Desert Into The Polychrome Hills 4. Starry Wisdom 5. Pillars In The Void 6. The Black Iron Prison And The Palm Tree Garden
It’s Not Night: It’s Space are: Kevin Halcott: guitar Michael Lutomski: drums Tommy Guerrero: bass
(((SPRING SHOWS))) 5.19 – Manchester, NH Fuzz Hut – w/ Black Norse & Big Mess 5.20 – Lowell, MA UnchARTed Gallery – w/ Black Norse, Big Mess, & Inspector 34 5.21 – Dover, NH The Dover Brickhouse – w/ Black Norse, Big Mess, & Green Bastard 5.28 – New Paltz, NY LUDWIG DAY CELEBRATION 6.16 – Kingston, NY The Anchor – w/ Moon Tooth & ROZAMOV 6.17 – Worldwide Live on Music With Space 6.18 – Newburgh, NY 2016 Newburgh Illuminated Festival 6.24 New Paltz, NY Snug Harbor Bar and Grill – RECORD RELEASE EXTRAVAGANZA
Posted in Reviews on May 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a pretty easy argument to make that Lisbon’s Miss Lava are Portugal’s biggest heavy rock band. Aside from commercial success in their home country, they’ve toured Europe multiple times over and while the national scene in Portugal is still growing compared to, say, Germany or Italy, it could do far worse than to have Miss Lava acting as spearhead. The four-piece made their debut in 2010 with Blues for the Dangerous Miles (review here) and premiered on respected purveyor Small Stone Records with 2013’s Red Supergiant, which they now follow-up with Sonic Debris, their third long-player, comprising 10 cleanly-recorded tracks for a 51-minute stretch that neither lets its variety stop it from rocking nor its rocking from offering varied modes of expression.
At its strongest, Sonic Debris is as much about atmosphere as its hooks, and the balance Miss Lava strike in songs like “The Silent Ghost of Doom,” “I’m the Asteroid” and the later, airier “Fangs of Venom” demonstrates patience and songwriting acumen in kind. Riffs, somewhat unsurprisingly, still lead the way, but Miss Lava have enough room here to really let their material branch out, and while “Symptomatic” and “In the Arms of the Freaks” are big on their choruses and “Fangs of Venom” winds up that way as well, there isn’t necessarily anything unipolar about Miss Lava‘s overarching approach, and taken front to back, their third album offers peaks and valleys of tempo, mood, etc., that make it that much richer on the whole. Still very much a rock record, but using that more as opportunity than limitation.
So what it comes down to is the lineup of vocalist Johnny Lee, guitarist K. Raffah, bassist Ricardo Ferreira and drummer J. Garcia (no relation) have constructed an outing that’s nowhere near as haphazard as the title Sonic Debris might lead one to believe. Produced by the band with Fernando Matias and engineered by Matias, José Pedro Ataíde and Ricardo Bravo, it also benefits from a Benny Grotto mix at Mad Oak Studios and a mastering job by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio Labs, resulting in a clear, worked-on, big sound, whether that’s in the slower-paced spaciousness of opener “Another Beast is Born” or the post-rant rush of “The Silent Ghost of Doom,” which, when taken in combination with the subsequent “I’m the Asteroid,” make for an initial salvo that says a lot about the ground that what follows will cover.
“I’m the Asteroid” is the longest track on Sonic Debris at 7:25, and it uses that time well to blend catchiness and atmosphere fluidly in a manner that — and I know I’ve said this before — reminds of Miss Lava‘s French labelmates in Abrahma, but they continue to change things up with the quick acoustic-strum-and-effects-swirl of “In a Sonic Fire We Shall Burn,” the vocals far back and echoing as they ease their way through toward the drum start to the nodding “At the End of the Light,” which would seem to be a complement to the opener in its riff, but offers an even more satisfying melody. Either way, it’s a departure point from which side B takes off toward its own purposes, so as marking the end of a movement on the record, it fits in multiple roles effectively.
From its beginning, it seems like “In the Arms of the Freaks” is going to be a moment of pure Fu Manchuism, but Miss Lava wind up on their own riffy trip, with a Euro-festival-ready hook that, if it doesn’t wind up in a video at some point during this album cycle, it’ll be a genuine surprise. Both it and the following “Symptomatic” bear out the side of the band that “The Silent Ghost of Doom” put forth — more straightforward in structure but of crisp and largely undeniable execution. Particularly in the stomp of the latter, Miss Lava dig into classic-style stoner rock that they’ll again tip toward with the desert-hued closer “Planet Darkness.”
Between, “Fangs of Venom” and “Pilgrims of Decay” once again move into more studied, atmospheric fare, the former working a subtle build as it moves through headed toward solid ground that emerges in the second half as a fitting payoff, and the latter effectively bringing together its hook, vocal melody and guitar-led crunch for a late-album highlight. That these songs find common ground with “In the Arms of the Freaks” and “Symptomatic” as well as “Planet Darkness” at the record’s finish should say something about how Miss Lava came to earn their rather considerable reputation, but three LPs in, it isn’t really a surprise to find them having long since hammered out the rough edges of their style. Built on a foundation of diverse songwriting, Sonic Debris may be culled together from a variety of influences, but the result of that process is anything but a throwaway.
I’m not entirely sure what Miss Lava are railing against in the start of their new single — the general state of culture, maybe; people staring at their tvs and phones instead of rocking out — but I won’t question the Lisbon outfit’s conviction. They’re gearing up to issue their new album, Sonic Debris, as the follow-up to 2013’s Red Supergiant, via ultra-respected purveyor Small Stone Records, and if nothing else, “The Silent Ghost of Doom” is definitely working against any sense of apathy the band might perceive in this age of bought-and-sold wonders. Clocking in at an efficient 4:20, it’s a kick in the ass run from front to back, its initial rant building into a careening heavy rock riff met with a catchy hook that only pushes the momentum further forward.
Sonic Debris is out May 20, and “The Silent Ghost of Doom” is the second track to be featured from it behind the grander opening salvo “Another Beast is Born” (posted here), and as it’s also the second track on the record itself, it shows the kind of one-two punch with which Miss Lava are starting their latest outing, shifting from a larger-sounding roll and melody into the rush of “The Silent Ghost of Doom.” One doubts that’s the entirety of the scope of the album, but as the already-noted intro of “The Silent Ghost of Doom” (performed in a guest spot by Rui Guerra) demonstrates, the band are clearly given to offering a surprise or two along the way. For what it’s worth, neither of the two cuts that have made their way to the public so far has stopped me from wanting to hear more of the album.
Hopefully you feel the same. PR wire info follows “The Silent Ghost of Doom” below.
Miss Lava, “The Silent Ghost of Doom” official video
Portugal’s volume merchants, MISS LAVA, will drop the deliciously riff raging sounds of their Sonic Debris full-length via Small Stone Recordings next month.
As a precursor to its release comes the visual accompaniment to “The Silent Ghost Of Doom.” The second single from Sonic Debris, “The Silent Ghost Of Doom” clip was directed by Bruno Simões with direction of photography by Mr. Ivo Cordeiro (the team behind MISS LAVA’s “Black Rainbow” video). “To shoot this video, we went to Lisbon’s old athenaeum — the Ateneu Comercial de Lisboa,” elaborates drummer, J. Garcia. “The historic scenery set the right vibe for the song.”
“This is a loud one that shouts about freeing yourself from tedium, apathy and past time glories,” adds vocalist Johnny Lee. “The broken mirror sights the silent ghost of doom.”
Sonic Debris will be released May 20th and come available on CD and 180-gram light blue vinyl limited to 500 units. For preorders go toTHIS LOCATIONwhere you’ll also hear a stream of opening track “Another Beast Is Born.”