Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I gotta say, of the several band bios I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to write over the last couple years — for Neurosis, for Conan, for Wo Fat, etc. — the one below for Lo-Pan‘s upcoming fourth album, Colossus, was among the easiest. It required little flourish, as the band’s accomplishments since the release of 2011′s Salvador (review here) speak for themselves, and the record itself is so direct and driving, that to pepper the piece with a bunch of extra descriptors or grandiose language would immediately be overdoing it. And one doesn’t want to overdo it.
Last Friday evening, Lo-Pan announced they’d be supporting Black Cobra for a month on the road ahead of Colossus‘ Oct. 7 release on Small Stone, and you’ll find those dates under the bio below, which I’ll keep in PR wire blue even though it’s my byline, just for form’s sake:
Lo-Pan, Colossus bio:
Lo-Pan’s fourth album, Colossus, is named for the Colossus of Rhodes – a 96-foot statue constructed in 280 BC to mark a failed siege and the indomitable nature of the city of Rhodes itself. No surprise it’s the Columbus, Ohio, four-piece’s most personal album yet and a testament to their growth and survival, as a band and as human beings.
Three years on from their third record, Salvador, Lo-Pan have logged countless miles, crossing the country multiple times over on headlining tours and supporting the likes of Torche, High on Fire, KENmode, Whores, Fu Manchu and Weedeater. They’ve become one of the most ferocious live acts in American heavy rock, and Colossus stands tall to reap the rewards of their experience.
For the first time in nearly a decade together, Lo-Pan knew exactly what they wanted when they hit the studio. They’d road-tested songs like “Eastern Seas” and “Colossus” for over a year, and partnering with producer/engineer Andrew Schneider at his Translator Audio studio in Brooklyn just days after headlining Small Stone showcases in that city and Boston this March, they belted out songs that show just how much they’ve moved beyond their influences and arrived at their own sound – a style built on aggression without caricature, fuzz without cliché, melody without redundancy and their meanest groove to date.
Completed with a cover courtesy of Jason Alexander Byers (ex-Disengage, Black Black Black), Colossus will be supported by numerous tours including a full US stint this fall alongside fellow road dogs Black Cobra and much more to come. Like its namesake, Colossus was built in defiance of gods and men, and while Lo-Pan’s loudest statement has always been made on stage, the material they craft and the power with which they execute it on this album is bound to stand for years to come.
BLACK COBRA US Tour w/ Lo Pan: 8/28/2014 Club Red – Phoenix, AZ 8/29/2014 Sister – Albuquerque, NM 8/30/2014 Conservatory – Oklahoma City, OK 8/31/2014 Doublewide – Dallas, TX 9/02/2014 Red 7 – Austin, TX 9/03/2014 Fitzgeralds – Houston, TX 9/04/2014 Siberia – New Orleans, LA 9/05/2014 Handlebar – Pensacola, FL 9/06/2014 Orpheum – Tampa, FL 9/07/2014 Gramps – Miami, FL 9/08/2014 Back Booth – Orlando, FL 9/09/2014 529 – Atlanta, GA 9/10/2014 The Mothlight – Asheville, NC 9/11/2014 Chop Shop – Charlotte, NC 9/12/2014 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA 9/13/2014 The Pinch – Washington, DC 9/14/2014 Dusk – Providence, RI 9/15/2014 Nectars – Burlington, VT 9/16/2014 TT The Bears – Boston, MA 9/17/2014 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA 9/18/2014 Saint Vitus – New York, NY 9/19/2014 Lost Horizon – Syracuse, NY 9/20/2014 Bug Jar – Rochester, NY 9/22/2014 Howlers – Pittsburgh, PA 9/23/2014 Reggie’s – Chicago, IL 9/24/2014 7th St Entry – Minneapolis, MN 9/26/2014 Replay – Lawrence, KS 9/27/2014 Lost Lake Lounge – Denver, CO 9/28/2014 Burt’s Tiki Bar – Salt Lake City, UT 9/29/2014 Dive Bar – Las Vegas, NV 10/01/2014 The Garage – Ventura, CA 10/02/2014 New Parish – Oakland, CA
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Boldly declaring they won’t be defeated, Italian heavy rock four-piece Isaak have begun efforts to recover after a recent rehearsal space robbery reportedly stripped them of a good amount of their amps and other equipment. And by “good amount,” I mean all of it. Amps, computers, instruments, cables, mics. Name it and it’s gone.
For any band unfortunate enough to have it happen to them, it’s positively devastating, but even more so for a group like Isaak, who released their The Longer the Beard the Harder the Soundalbum on Small Stone this summer and aren’t millionaire rockstars who can just go out and replace all their shit. I’ve said it many, many times: Only assholes steal from bands. Steal from corporations instead. They’ve got computers too, and no matter what anyone tells you, they’re not actually people.
If you’ve got a couple extra bucks, Isaak have a crowdfunding-type fundraiser going on now to help them raise money for new gear, including some nifty thank-you gifts for those who donate. Info and links follow:
NO ONE DEFEATS ISAAK
Try to imagine going to rehearsals, thinking about the riffs, building the songs of your new record…. but feeling something bad in the air, getting there and discovering nothing more has left…Doors damaged, locks broken. It’s something you won’t wish to anybody… like your whole life suddenly disappears.
Now we are here, asking you for some help… participating to our fundraising will support us to keep on with our adventure!
We want to thank you in advance for every kind of help you give us..
THANKS by heart..
Andre, Giacomo, Francesco, Maso
And don’t forget to check out what you can get in our crowdfunding!
Posted in audiObelisk on September 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a gloomy Monday morning here on the South Shore, but I’m combating the greys with coffee, mini-muffins and upbeat heavy rock, the organ-laced, thickened Thin Lizzy-isms of Boston’s Mellow Bravo suiting me just fine as I make my way through their brand new EP, Ripper. I’ve caught these cats live a couple times at this point and they’re killer, and from where I sit, the EP does an even better job of capturing the experience of seeing them than did their self-titled debut (review here), which came out on Mad Oak Records/Small Stone. Solid rock band, and as I listen to the tradeoffs between keys and guitar leads on “Party,” I’ve got no regrets in starting the week with it. Was up late last night and Ripper‘s exactly the kind of kick in the ass I didn’t know I needed until I got it.
…And yes, I know an EP can’t technically be a “long-player.” Just go with me on it, I beg you.
Last night, I drove all the way into Boston. Down past Fenway Park and into Cambridge, over to the Middle East, where Anathema and Alcest were playing. It was early, but I got there. There was a whole line of people around the building, and parking was blocks away. I was all set to go to that show — I was right there — and I left. I looked at the line of people and I just couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car. I was exhausted from a fantastic but busy weekend, and I just didn’t have it in me to go stand on that line, go to the club, take pictures, be in the way up front at the venue, get home late, etc. I just couldn’t do it. I called The Patient Mrs. and said I was going to come home, and I did. That was it. I got there and didn’t go to the show.
Chelsea Wolfe and True Widow were also in town last night, and I guess I was hoping everyone would be at that. Maybe they were. I don’t know. I came back home and put on pajamas. It would’ve been an existential fucking crisis for me had the issue not been so cut and dry: I wasn’t going to enjoy myself and if I’m not having fun then what the fuck am I doing? I wasn’t getting paid to be there. It’s not my job. It’s something I do because I want to, and if I don’t want to, well, there you go. Anathema‘s not going to fucking cry if I don’t show up. And hell, if they do, then fine — they make really good music when they’re sad, so it’s a win either way. But I was there. I just couldn’t get out of the car.
Burnt out on working hard and being broke and a lot of other shit, and to be honest, I still feel like I’m drained from the move north six weeks ago. But music still sounds good and if that’s what I’ve got going then at least it’s something. Right now I’m gonna grab another cup of coffee and dig into the start of the week. In a little bit I’m going to have a track premiere from Second Grave, then hopefully later today a review of the new Sasquatch album. Tomorrow I’m supposed to be interviewing Dave Wyndorf about the new Monster Magnet (review here), so that’ll get up at some point, plus I’m sending some questions out to Ufomammut about their new tour today, and trying to sort a stream of the new Gonga, and I’ve got reviews slated for I are Droid and Don Juan Matus. I also picked up some awesome buried treasure-type stuff this weekend (on the cheap, considering) that I’ll have something about in the next couple days. So, much to come this week and I hope you’ll stay tuned and check out the forum and the radio stream as well.
Either next week — or more likely the week after, with the pace I’m working at these days — I’m going to do a full review of IV, the voluminous and aptly-titled fourth album from L.A. power trio Sasquatch, so I guess I’ll save whatever deep analysis I might make about it for that, but suffice it to say that if you were looking forward to this one, you were right. It’s the songs. Sasquatch toss of rock classics like they were empty bottles — downed another one, on to the next — and IV is silly with them, and also pushes the duly heralded outfit into new sonic territory with the psychedelic sprawl of “Smoke Signal” (more a suggestion to begin than a linguistic communication; though maybe it winds up the same), which features a guest appearance by Marc Gaffney of cross-country labelmates Gozu.
So not only is it Sasquatch doing what they do best, but also taking steps forward with their sound. I’ve been through it a couple times, but I’m looking forward to getting to know it better for a review. Not sure when the CD is due, but a stream/download in the meantime isn’t exactly a hardship, my general disdain for non-physical media notwithstanding. And by that I mean I can’t stand it.
There were two or three other posts I wanted to get up today, but I just ran out of day to do it. I ran into town (which, yes, is what I now call driving to Boston; it’s friggin’ awesome to not have to take 70 minutes to get to an urban center) in the afternoon and then had to play catchup with work for what’s now my only job. Yup, got completely shitcanned from the other job at NECA this week; won’t even be getting the it-was-a-quarter-of-my-former-salary freelance rate. One email and poof. I worked there longer than both my supervisors. Put together. It doesn’t matter.
I’m here with The Patient Mrs. and the little dog Dio, we had a good dinner, watched the ball game, had a good night. All told, the week ended on an up. Job shit, work drama. I don’t want any part of it. I’ve got only the vaguest of prospects and everyone I’ve hit up for potential writing work has blown me off. The other day I was looking up $10 an hour night security work for the fucking Pinkertons — hey, it’s a job — but it doesn’t matter. That will all get sorted. I’m going to keep plugging away, keep doing my best, try to laugh, remember to smile.
I didn’t get out this week to that Nightstick show — to either of them — and that was a bummer. Sunday though I’m going to do an in-studio with Darryl Shepard as he records the new Blackwolfgoat, so expect pics and a writeup on that on Monday, and next week I’ll also have reviews of Windhand and maybe the new Monster Magnet. I’ve got an interview with Red Fang in the can that I’d like to get posted as well, but maybe closer to the album release. Depends on time, basically.
Until then, I’m looking forward to the weekend, to a bit of running around tomorrow morning and chores followed by a quiet evening. Saturday stuff. Maybe I’ll take a nap.
Whatever you’ve got going, I hope you have a great and safe couple days. I might post some stuff tomorrow, but if I do or don’t I’ll see you back here Monday either way as well. All the best from me and mine to you and yours.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hot damn! Nothing like starting off the week with good news, and the announcement below that Gozu will play Roadburn 2014 certainly qualifies as that. The Boston natives will travel to the Netherlands to play the 013 venue on April 12 as part of the four-day fest from April 10-13. Earlier this year, Gozu released The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) on Small Stone and most recently, they demolished the stage at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 in Brooklyn (review here). Kudos to the band, who are going to kill it in Tilburg.
Here’s the latest:
Gozu to Play Roadburn Festival 2014
Following the instant critical success of their sophomore recording, Locust Season in 2010, Boston’s Gozu continues to go deep into stoner chug territory on their latest album, The Fury of A Patient Man. Dropping colossal bombs of pure rock fury, Gozu thrive on fuzzed-up guitars, tight motorik drumming, sharp melodies that a lot of bands would die for, and the magic ingredient – pure downright soul!
From the swaggering glory of ‘Bald Bull’ to the 12 bar buzzing boogie of ‘Salty Thumb’ and the upright yet dark guitar crunch of ‘Disco Related Injury’, Gozu will totally raze Roadburn Festival 2014 when they take the stage on Saturday, April 12th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
On their first ever European tour, Gozu will take no prisoners and leave no room to breathe, cuz the band’s stripped down highly infectious riff rock is as mountainous as it is undulating — Gozu will throw us a rocking bone and fight it out to the end! Hell, we didn’t even mention the band’s ability to bust out a loose yet structured jam like on ‘The Ceaseless Thunder Of Surf’, which sees Gozu invoking the spirit of Neurosis.
Roadburn‘s ready, bring it all on!
Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th, 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
Posted in audiObelisk on August 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Los Angeles trio Sasquatch have been proffering high-grade fuzz boogie for over a decade now. Having made their recorded debut in 2004 with the immediately-to-be-reckoned-with riffery of Sasquatch, the trio went on to refine a more classic heavy rock approach over the course of their subsequent two outings, 2006′s IIand 2010′s III(review here), finding a niche for themselves somewhere between the present and the past while at the same time continuing to distinguish themselves from their peers and furthering the chemistry between founders Keith Gibbs (guitar/vocals) and Rick Ferrante (drums) and bassist Jason Casanova, who joined in 2007 following the departure of Clayton Charles.
On Sept. 24, Sasquatch will issue IV through Small Stone as the latest step in these ongoing processes. What’s remained consistent throughout Sasquatch‘s work since the start is the band’s unhindered ability to craft a chorus that’s crisp, anthemic and forward-thinking all at once, and in that regard, IVis no different. Progress is evident in the band’s maturity of approach and the clarity with which they present their ideas — they know what they’re doing in other words — but even as they seem to have their sound nailed down, splitting the recording between Detroit and Massachusetts (both very far away from Los Angeles) and bringing in guest work from Gozu‘s Marc Gaffney and Small Stone honcho Scott Hamilton on vocals and guitar, respectively, Sasquatch are clearly making some effort to branch out beyond the reaches of their comfort zone.
Even the striking and futuristic cover artwork, courtesy of Casanova, speaks to the band looking forward more than ever before. Nonetheless, whether it’s the psychedelic explorations of “Smoke Signal,” on which Gaffney and Hamilton appear, the fervent Soundgarden-style stomp of “Sweet Lady,” the check-out-what-I-can-make-this-do lead work on “Me and You” or the rush of opener “The Message” that’s bound to carry you along with it, you’d be hard pressed to say Sasquatch aren’t in full command.
Today I have the extreme pleasure of premiering “The Message” from IV as a precursor to the album’s release next month. Please find it on the player below and enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Sasquatch‘s IV is due out Sept. 24, 2013 on Small Stone Records. More to come.
Posted in audiObelisk on June 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Lord Fowl, Moon Queen (2012)
At some point this weekend, I heard the opening title-track of Lord Fowl‘s Moon Queenand that was it — it’s been stuck in my head ever since. Doesn’t take much to do it from that record (review here), since the whole thing more or less is hooks, and as I’m planning sometime in the next couple days to take another look at my Best of 2012 list as I’m wont to do each year six months after the fact, it seemed only appropriate to give Moon Queena revisit to start of what was an exhausting week even before it started.
For what it’s worth, I only flipped off one other motorist on the drive back from Cudahy, Wisconsin, where Days of the Doomed III was held. Not bad for 15 hours in the car. I made it all the way to the Delaware Water Gap, but when I came up behind a guy doing 60 in the left lane (it’s a 65mph zone), waited for him to move to let me pass and then whipped around him when he didn’t and had him flash his brights from behind me, that was pretty much it. Sorry, but it was Sunday night at one in the morning. Move the fuck over or get passed. I wouldn’t have been on the road at all if I didn’t have somewhere to be.
I made it back to my humble river valley otherwise without incident and crashed out hard sometime after 3AM to get up in time for work this morning and refresh that overwhelmed feeling I know so well and can’t fucking stand. Over 750 emails later, I’m not quite caught up and, as usual, questioning my life decisions and whether or not I should quit every job I have, cut my hair, take up jogging and go find something where the compensation is remotely commensurate with the effort put in — or, wow — become an actual writer. I won’t. But I should. Also, fuck everything.
Reviews this week of Steak – would like to do it today, but it’s already almost 2 and I probably won’t have time, so tomorrow — and Goatess, plus a Buried Treasure on Sleaze and maybe another on the haul from the Midwest this year, which is staggering. There doesn’t seem to be any way in hell I’ll get to it, but I’ll plug that forthcoming Dust interview just in case, and tomorrow I’ve got tracks going up for streaming from The Flying Eyes‘ new split with Golden Animals. Thursday night, The Atomic Bitchwax are playing a Rocks Off Concert Cruise around Manhattan with Mirror Queen (more info to follow shortly) and you can bet your ass I’m going to that.Will have a review up on Friday.
This weekend was my grandmother’s 98th birthday. It was also the largest full moon in something like 800 years. I wanted to mention both of those things in my Days of the Doomed III conclusion but was too tired to remember at the time. We always think of the best stuff after the fact.
So while I sit here and debate the finer points of tweeting “YOU FUCKING PEOPLE ARE DISGUSTING. EAT SHIT AND DIE.” to the Heritage Foundation 100 times in a row (take ‘em down a peg!) and also try to actually accomplish, well, anything, today, I’ll just take a second to say I hope you have a fantastic, truly wonderful week and that just because I’m out of my head doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate you checking in on the site. Thanks again to everyone who took a gander at the updates from the fest this weekend. This site was what got me out of bed this morning.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
At this point, I don’t even know what I’d do if a week went by and I didn’t have some news to post about Ohio four-piece Lo-Pan, who just wrapped a tour alongside Torche and KENmode and will head out over the course of July and August with the likes of Borracho, Devil toPay, Gozuand Weedeater. Their second album, 2009′s Sasquanaut, is about to receive the vinyl treatment for the first time, so along with that and an excuse to put all their upcoming gigs in one place at the same time — at least those that have been to this point announced — there was no way I could resist.
Plus, all the whatnot about pre-orders and that gives me an excuse to post the stream of the album, which is an automatic win:
Lo-Pan Sasquanaut Vinyl + Tour Info
Small Stone Records is proud to announce the release of Lo-Pan’s highly acclaimed album “Sasquanaut” for the first time on limited edition 180g vinyl. Remastered for vinyl release, this limited edition LP will be available for pre-order July 2, 2013. The release will be available in five distinct color variations (silver, solid light green, translucent red, translucent green, and classic black). Additionally, each copy of the LP release will come with a download card, redeemable for a digital copy of the album.
Priced at $30, the first 100 deluxe pre-order packages will receive: – choice of color variation – 12” x 18.7” full color poster signed by the band – limited edition patch – lo-pan sticker
The tracklist for the “Sasquanaut” LP is:
Side Alpha Dragline Savage Henry Kurtz Callahan
Side Beta Kramer Vega Wade Garrett
Catch Lo-Pan live at the following upcoming tour stops:
Jul 4, 2013 Dayton, OH Blind Bob’s w/ Devil To Pay, Neon Warship Jul 5, 2013 Chicago, IL Cobra Lounge w/ Devil To Pay Jul 6, 2013. Madison, WI Mr. Roberts w/ Devil To Pay, The Garza Jul 7, 2013 Indianapolis, IN Indy’s Jukebox w/ Devil To Pay Jul 11, 2013 Detroit, MI PJ’s Lager House w/ Devil To Pay Jul 12, 2013 Cleveland, OH The Temple w/ Devil To Pay, Venomin James Jul 13, 2013. Columbus, OH Kobo w/ Devil To Pay, Barely Eagle, the Girls! Jul 18, 2013 Pittsburgh, PA Howler’s w/ Borracho, Sistered, Supervoid Jul 19, 2013 Washington DC Rock N Roll Hotel w/ Borracho, Kingsnake, King Giant Jul 20, 2013 Stroudsburgh, PA The Sherman Theater w/ Borracho, Kingsnake Jul 21, 2013 York, PA The Depot w/ Borracho Jul 24, 2013 Worcester, MA Ralph’s Rock Diner w/ Gozu, Birch Hill Dam Jul 25, 2013 Manchester, NH The Shaskeen Pub w/Gozu, Birch Hill Dam Jul 26, 2013 Boston, MA O’Brien’s w/Gozu, Black Thai Jul 27, 2013 Brooklyn, NY The Acheron *The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 w/Gozu, Supermachine, Black Black Black, Borracho, Wizard Eye, Lord Fowl, Geezer, Wasted Theory Aug 01 2013 Chicago, IL Ultra Lounge w/Weedeater Aug 03 2013 Nashville, TN Exit/In w/Weedeater Aug 04 2013 Johnson City, TN Hideaway w/Weedeater Aug 06 2013 Asheville, NC Broadways w/Weedeater Aug 07 2013 Charlotte, NC Chop Shop w/Weedeater Aug 08 2013 Richmond, VA Strange Matter w/Weedeater Aug 09 2013 Raleigh, NC The Maywood w/Weedeater Aug 10 2013 Wilmington, NC Soapbox w/Weedeater Aug 24 2013 Kent, OH The Outpost w/Rebreather, Mockingbird, The Unclean, The Ravenna Arsenal, Vulture, Deathcrawl, Fully Consumed, Venomin James, Super Predator, Showboy
Posted in Features on June 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This is always fun, and because the year’s only (just about) half over, you always know there’s more to come. The last six months have brought a host of really stellar releases, and the whole time, it’s felt like just when you’ve dug your heels into something and really feel content to rest with it for a while, there’s something else to grab your ears. So it’s been for the last six months, bouncing from one record to the next.
Even now, I’ve got a list of albums, singles, EPs, tapes, demos, whatever, waiting for attention — some of which I’m viciously behind on — but it’s time to stop and take a look back at some of what the best of the first half of 2013 has been. Please note, I’m only counting full-lengths here. While I’ve heard a few killer EPs this year — looking at you, Mars Red Sky — it doesn’t seem fair to rate everything all together like that. Maybe a separate list.
If you’ve got a list of your own or some quibbling on the numbers, please leave a comment and be heard. From where I sit, that’s always the best part of this kind of thing.
The third Endless Boogie album on No Quarter was basically the soundtrack to the end of my winter, with smooth grooving cuts like “The Artemus Ward” and the classic rock shake of “On Cryology” providing a soundtrack as cool as the air in my lungs. It was my first experience with the longform-jamming improv-heavy foursome, and a CD I’m still stoked to put on and get lost in, having found that it works just as well in summer’s humidity as winter’s freeze, the off-the-cuff narrations of Paul Major (interview here) carrying a vibe unmistakably belonging to the rock history of the band’s native New York City. Was a sleeper, but not one to miss for its organic and exploratory feel.
Proffering righteous traditional doom and misery-drenched atmospherics, the debut full-length from Massachusetts-based Magic Circle hit hard and showed there’s life yet to the old ways. It never quite veered into the cultish posturing that comprises so much of the trad doom aesthetic these days, and from the grandiose riffing of guitarists Dan Ducas and Chris Corry and the blown-out vocals of frontman Brendan Radigan, it found the band carving a memorable identity for themselves with clear sonic ideas of what they wanted to accomplish. Out of all the bands on this list, I’m most interested to hear what Magic Circle do next to build on their debut.
Berlin trio Kadavar had a tough task ahead of them in releasing a sophomore answer to their self-titled, which I thought was the best first album of 2012, but when Abra Kadavar surfaced as their debut on Nuclear Blast, it was quickly apparent that the retro heavy rockers had put together a worthy follow-up. Cuts like “Come Back Life” and “Doomsday Machine” underscored the straightforward triumphs of the prior outing, while late-album arrivals “Liquid Dream,” “Rhythm for Endless Minds” and “Abra Kadabra” gave a sense that Kadavar were beginning a journey into psychedelia the results of which could be just as rewarding as even the most potent of their choruses. Their potential remains one of their biggest appeals.
It wasn’t without its rough edges, but at the core of Indianapolis heavy rockers Devil to Pay‘s fourth record was an unflinching songwriting quality that quickly established it among my go-to regulars, whether it was the quirky doom hook of “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife,” the darkly progressive riffing of “Black Black Heart” or the suitably propulsive rush of “This Train Won’t Stop.” The double-guitar four-piece didn’t have much time for frills in terms of arrangement or structure, but by building on the developments over the course of their three prior releases, Devil to Pay delivered a slab of deceptively intricate standouts that made hard turns sound easy and demanded the attention it deserved.
6. Beast in the Field, The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below
Unfuckwithable tone set to destructive purpose. Immediately upon hearing the unsung Michigan drum/guitar duo’s fourth album, the impact of The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below — overwhelming though it is at times throughout the album; hello, “Oncoming Avalanche” — refused to be denied. Beast in the Field haven’t gotten anything remotely close to the attention they should for this devastating collection, but it’s one I absolutely can’t put down, cohesive in theme and full of skull-caving riffs as dynamic as they are brutally delivered by the instrumental twosome. If it’s one you missed on CD when Saw Her Ghost put it out in March (as I did), keep your eyes open for a vinyl release coming on Emetic in the next couple months. Really. Do it.
Massachusetts trio Black Pyramid quickly dispatched any doubts of their ability to continue on after the departure of their previous guitarist/vocalist, bassist Dave Gein and drummer Clay Neely joined forces with Darryl Shepard (Hackman, Blackwolfgoat, Roadsaw, etc.) to reinvigorate their battle-ready doom, and whether it was the extended jamming on “Swing the Scimitar” or the surprisingly smooth riffing on “Aphelion,” the results did not disappoint. Regardless of personnel, I’ve yet to hear a Black Pyramid album I didn’t want to hear again, and though I’ll freely admit they’re a sentimental favorite for me at this point, Adversarial is a suitable dawn for their next era. Long may they reign.
True, I will argue tooth and nail that Boston four-piece Gozu should get rid of their goofball, sitcom-referential song titles, but that’s only because I believe the band’s lack of pretense speaks for itself through the music and their tracks are too good to give listeners a chance not to take them seriously. When it comes to The Fury of a Patient Man — their second full-length behind the impressive 2010 debut, Locust Season (review here) — I knew the first time I heard it toward the end of last year that it was going to be one of 2013′s best, and while I’ve heard quibbles in favor of the debut, nothing has dissuaded me from thinking the sophomore installment outclasses it on almost every level. Expect a return appearance when the year-end list hits in December.
There’s a big part of me that feels like a sucker for digging …Like Clockwork, the first Queens of the Stone Age full-length since 2007′s relatively lackluster Era Vulgaris, but when it comes right down to it, I hit the point in listening to the album that I came around to its sheen, its up-and-down moodiness and its unabashed self-importance. I hit the point where I was able to separate …Like Clockwork from its “viral marketing” and just enjoy Josh Homme‘s all-growed-up songwriting for what it is. Would I have loved a second self-titled album? Probably, but it wasn’t realistic to think that’s what …Like Clockwork would be, and as much as I’ve tried out other spots for it, I’d be lying if I put this record anywhere else on this list but here. So there you go. I understand the arguments against it, but reason doesn’t always apply when it comes to what gets repeat spins.
I was late to the party on the second Uncle Acid offering, 2011′s Blood Lust, as I often am on records where the hype gets to din levels, but by the time the subsequent Mind Control was announced, I knew it was going to be one to watch out for. Aligned to Rise Above/Metal Blade, the UK outfit began to unravel till-then mystery of itself, playing live and developing the brazen psychedelic pop influences hinted at in the horrors of Blood Lust so that the swing of “Mt. Abraxas” and the acid-coated psych of “Valley of the Dolls” could exist within the same cohesive sphere. Between the death-boogie of “Mind Crawler” and mid-period Beatlesian exploration of “Follow the Leader,” Mind Control continues to be an album I hear as much on the mental jukebox rotation as one I actually put on to listen to again. Either way, there’s no getting away from it — the eerie melodies of guitarist/vocalists Kevin “Uncle Acid” Starrs and Yotam Rubinger are hauntingly ever-present.
Obvious? Probably, but that doesn’t make it any less genuine. To set the scene, here’s me on the Masspike a couple weeks ago in the Volvo of Doom™ with the little dog Dio, 90 miles an hour shouting along to “Crucial Velocity” at the top of my never-on-key lungs. I couldn’t and wouldn’t endeavor to tell you how many times I’ve listened to Earth Rocker since I first got a taste, but from the title-track on through the surging groove at the end of “The Wolfman Kindly Requests…,” front to back, the 10th Clutch album still does not fail to roil the blood with not a dud in the bunch. The Maryland road dogs of course shine best on a stage, and Earth Rocker‘s polished, layered production is a studio affair in the truest sense, but all that does is make me hopeful they’ll complement it with a live record soon. Clutch could easily have phoned in a follow-up to 2009′s Strange Cousins from the West and their fanbase probably would’ve still salivated over it, myself included, but by boldly pushing themselves to write faster, more concise material, they’ve reenergized one of heavy rock’s best sounds. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a brand new listener, Earth Rocker is utterly essential.
Two more records I have to mention: Kings Destroy‘s A Time of Hunting and Clamfight‘s I vs. the Glacier. I wasn’t involved in releasing the Kings Destroy, but felt close to it nonetheless, and since the Clamfight came out on The Maple Forum, it wouldn’t be appropriate to include it in the list proper, but hands down, these are my two favorite records of the year so far and made by some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure to know over the course of my years nerding out to heavy music.
Some other honorable mentions go to Toner Low, Cathedral, Church of Misery, Serpent Throne, Naam, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and All Them Witches. Like I said, it’s been a hell of a year so far.
You may note some glaring absences in the list above — Black Sabbath, ASG, Orchid, Ghost, Kvelertak and Voivod come to mind immediately. Some of that is a result of my disdain for digital promos, and some of that is just a matter of what I listened to most. Please understand that although release profile is not something discounted, at the heart of what’s included here is one individual’s personal preferences and listening habits.
Thanks for reading. Here’s to your own lists and to the next six months to come!
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
German purveyor of swamp-psych-blues Larman Clamor – aka Alexander von Wieding – has announced a Sept. 10 release for its fourth full-length, Alligator Heart. Like last year’s Frogs (review here), it’ll be released by Small Stone, and today the tracklisting and cover art were officially unveiled, and I was lucky enough to get an advanced listen to write the bio to go with the album.
Here’s that bio — in blue even though I wrote it — plus the cover, of course by von Wieding himself, and the tracklisting:
Larman Clamor, Alligator Heart bio
Larman Clamor is throwing a carnival. More of a street fair, really. You’ll find the sky is tinted a greenish yellow watercolor, the air is tepid and wet with humidity, bugs come in swarms, and later, a parade of children on the backs of reptiles will come out of the swamp and march down the crossroad.
Welcome to Alligator Heart.
The third Larman Clamor full-length, Alligator Heart follows on the heels of 2012’s Frogs, 2011’s Altars to Turn Blood and that same year’s debut self-titled EP. It is the most accomplished release to date from the solo-project of Alexander von Wieding – also illustrator for Karma to Burn, Wo Fat, Monster Magnet, Freedom Hawk, Infernal Overdrive and countless others – and like its predecessors, it masterfully captures a swamp-boogie atmosphere, updating blues and rock traditions with a down-home psychedelia that’s alternately creeping and malevolent and raising its hands in upbeat testimony. Based in Hamburg and begun in 2008, Larman Clamor pays a heavy debt to Delta blues (John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, Mississippi Fred MacDowell), but has never sounded so much like itself as on Alligator Heart.
Where Frogs reveled in its post-Tom Waits weirdness and von Wieding’s gravelly vocals, Alligator Heart strips away some of the extras to get at Larman Clamor’s muddy, folkish heart. Short ditties like “Banshee w’Me,” “Done No Good” and “I’m Buildin’ Ruins” stomp and clang as ever, but with surprisingly ripe hooks, and atmospheric pieces like “Sambucus Nigra” and the 16 Horsepower-style banjo echo of “Crow on a Wagon Wheel” show a side of Larman Clamor that’s able to make a case as much with minimalism as with an onslaught of varied elements. Rounding out with “Aether Bound I – Scorched Earth” and “Aether Bound II – Dust & Ghost,” Alligator Heart ultimately shows von Wieding’s most accomplished songwriting to date, and that as he pushes further away from the shore to get swept up in that river’s current, the results are all the more rewarding.
Blending acoustic and electric guitar, simple drums and throaty vocals, Larman Clamor presents an alternate view of tradition and a new take on its own approach. More and more, there’s nothing else that sounds quite like it.
So while you wait on the corner of that crossroad for the parade to go by, just make sure you keep a count of all your fingers. Alligator Heart has a bite with some mean teeth.
Tracklisting: 1. Alligator Heart 2. Banshee W’Me 3. Perdition At Dawn 4. Done No Good 5. Vines Of Yggdrasil 6. Been Cookin’ 7. Sambucus Nigra 8. She Sent Her Hounds 9. I’m Buildin’ Ruins 10. Crow On A Wagon Wheel 11. Aether Bound I – Scorched Earth 12. Aether Bound II – Dust & Ghost
Under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn’t do two Visual Evidence posts on consecutive days, but this is obviously an exceptional case. As Lo-Pan continue to unveil their summer roadwork, more dates alongside Indianapolis’ Devil to Pay have emerged, and the poster for said trek is… well, it’s something special.
In fact, I haven’t seen a poster that hits quite so close to home in some time. First of all, it’s Spock — and not this newfangled reboot Spock either — we’re talking the real deal, Nimoy Spock. Second, it’s an octopus. Third, they’re combined. The portmanteau ‘Spocktopus’ pretty much writes itself.
Kudos to artist Trevor Patton for the Spocktopus itself and Devil to Pay‘s Steve Janiak for the layout. This thing is great:
Oh yeah, and the bands rule as well. I don’t think I could go a week at this point without posting Lo-Pan tour news even if I wanted to, and as they wrap up their run with Torche and KENmode, it’s cool to see they’ll shortly be reunited with their longtime buds in Devil to Pay, with whom I’ll be running an interview in the coming weeks.
Lo-Pan & Devil to Pay tour dates: Jul 4, 2013 Dayton, OH Blind Bob’s w/ Neon Warship Jul 5, 2013 Chicago, IL Cobra Lounge Jul 6, 2013. Madison, WI Mr. Roberts w/ The Garza Jul 7, 2013 Indianapolis, IN Indy’s Jukebox w/ Stealing Volume & Death Trap Jul 11, 2013 Detroit, MI PJ’s Lager House Jul 12, 2013 Cleveland, OH The Foundry w/ Venomin James Jul 13, 2013. Columbus, OH Kobo w/ Barely Eagle, the Girls!
In semi-related news, Small Stone (Lo-Pan‘s label) is having a 25 percent off sale at its online store, and I figured that’s worthy of a plug for anyone looking to pick up some quality rock on the cheap. Link in banner below:
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I assume the drummer position in Weedeater will once again be filled by Travis Owen (Whores), who took on the role for the trio’s short tour around Maryland Deathfest a couple weeks ago replacing founding member Keith “Keko” Kirkum, as well of course as for the fest itself, though I guess you never know. Maybe they found a permanent replacement. Maybe it’s him. One way to find out would be to show up at the gig, I suppose.
So it goes. As volatile as their on-stage persona can be, Weedeater had a better run with their original lineup than most. Joining them throughout the summer dates below are ASG, whose new record Blood Drive has apparently been met with a welcome reception, and Lo-Pan, who are currently on the road with Torche.
Here’s the latest from the PR wire:
WEEDEATER AND ASG ANNOUNCE U.S. TOUR
ASG’S BLOOD DRIVE MARKS N.C. BAND’S HIGHEST DEBUT
Weedeater and ASG have announced a four-week tour across the United States, kicking off on June 27 in Savannah, Ga. at The Jinx.
The tour comes as ASG celebrate their highest charting and most critically acclaimed album to date, the breakthrough release Blood Drive. The twelve-song collection landed at #15 on Billboard’s Heat Seeker chart and also had impressive debuts on the trade magazine’s Hard Music (#32) and Indie (#67) charts. The album is streaming via Bandcamp at asgnation.bandcamp.com.
Weedeater & ASG presented by Brooklyn Vegan and Invisible Oranges June 27 Savannah, GA The Jinx June 28 Atlanta, GA The Earl June 30 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jacks July 1 Houston, TX Fitzgeralds July 2 San Antonio, TX Korova July 3 Austin, TX Red 7 July 4 Denton, TX Rubber Gloves (Free Show) July 5 Norman, OK The Opolis July 7 Tempe, AZ Pub Rock July 9 San Diego, CA Soda Bar July 10 Los Angeles, CA The Whiskey July 11 Santa Cruz, CA Catalyst July 12 Oakland, CA Oakland Opera House July 13 Portland, OR Ash St. Saloon July 14 Seattle, WA The Highline
ASG only July 16 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge July 17 Lawrence, KS The Replay Lounge July 18 Oklahoma City, OK The Conservatory July 19 Nashville, TN Springwater July 20 Asheville, NC Broadway
Weedeater July 16 Vancouver, BC Electric Owl July 18 Calgary, AB The Palamino July 20 Edmonton, AB The Pawn Shop July 23 Winnipeg, MB Windsor Hotel July 24 Fargo, NC The Aquarium July 25 Great Falls, MT Machinery Row July 27 Missoula, MT Farmageddon Festival July 30 Denver, CO Marquis Theater
Weedeater & Lo Pan August 1 Chicago, IL Ultra Lounge August 3 Nashville, TN Exit/In August 4 Johnson City, TN Hideaway August 6 Asheville, NC Broadways August 7 Charlotte, NC Chop Shop August 8 Richmond, VA Strange Matter August 9 Raleigh, NC The Maywood August 10 Wilmington, NC Soapbox
The only thing I don’t get about the new video for the title-track of Dead Rock Commandos — the 2012 Small Stone debut from long-running Greek rockers Nightstalker — is the kidnapping. Okay, so Nightstalker are getting chased through the woods by mysterious gasmasked paramilitary forces. I got that. But then they get kidnapped, the hoods over their heads and the whole bit, and marched single-file to an also-mysterious white room with instruments… and they start rocking out.
So the part I don’t get is, weren’t Nightstalker going to rock out anyway? Why would these commandos need to bring them into this room? And what is the room? Could it be that the volume from their heavy riffing output is being harvested to power some kind of sinister death ray? Or worse, that Nightstalker are being set up as some kind of exhibit in a terrible post-apocalyptic rock and roll zoo? Truly, there are many questions still to be answered.
What’s way clearer in watching “Dead Rock Commandos” is that Nightstalker have the stoner thing on lockdown. The video premiered today, and Nightstalker will bring the rock directly to the people starting May 31 with Ape Machine supporting. Dates follow the clip below:
Nightstalker, “Dead Rock Commandos” official video
Including an appearance at the 2013 Freak Valley Festival, Nightstalker will be heading out on a European tour in support of 2012′s Dead Rock Commandos. The ultra-catchy riff-fest was released by Small Stone last year and found the long-running Athens outfit right at home in classic heavy fuzz ‘n’ roll.
Nightstalker tour dates: May 31 Munster, DE Rare Guitar Jun 1 Netphen, DE Freak Valley Festival Jun 2 Antwerpen, BE Antwerpen Music City Jun 4 Paris, FR Les Combustibles Jun 5 Leuven, BE Rockbar Jun 6 Wild Rover Aachen, DE Jun 7 Hasselt, BE Carpe Diem Jun 8 Wurzburg, DE Immerhin Jun 9 Salzburg, AT Rockhouse Jun 11 St. Gallen, CH Rumpeltum Jun 12 Feldkirch, AT Graf Hugo Jun 13 Erfurt, DE Stadtgarten Jun 14 Berlin, DE White Trash
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I was wondering the other day what Ohio-based fuzz rockers Lo-Pan might have up their always-busy sleeves to follow their tour with High on Fire, and then all of a sudden, here’s an announcement that they’re hitting the road for two weeks in June with Torche and KENmode. That’s a pretty badass bill, three distinctly different takes on heavy that should make for a decent complement to each other as Lo-Pan continues to refine new material like the song “Colossus,” which you can check out footage of below.
JUST ANNOUNCED! Lo-Pan will be hitting the road with our buddies Torche and KEN mode for a couple of weeks in June. All current dates listed below.
Sat/06-01 Milwaukee – The Cactus Club Sun/06-02 St. Louis, MO – The Firebird Mon/06-03 Cincinnati, OH – The Taft Tue/06-04 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups Wed/06-05 Cleveland, OH – The Grog Shop Thu/06-06 Detroit, MI – The Magic Stick Fri/06-07 Grand Rapids, MI – The Pyramid Scheme Sat/06-08 Toronto, Canada – Lee’s Palace Sun/06-09 Syracuse, NY – Lost Horizon Mon/06-10 Boston, MA – Sinclair Wed/06-12 Providence, RI – AS220 Thu/06-13 West Chester, PA – The Note Fri/06-14 – TBA Sat/06-15 Washington, DC – Rock and Roll
Posted in audiObelisk on April 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a proposition that has beguiled scientists for decades now, but Italian stoner metallers Isaak have finally aligned the proportion data and determined that The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound. So proud was the Genoa foursome of this discovery that they took their central theorem as the title of their 2012 record. The band, who went by the name Gandhi’s Gunn at the time, released their debut full-length, Thirtyyeahs(semi-review here), in 2010.
Needless to say, the reverberations through the scientific community since Isaak‘s discovery have been rippling outward ever since. Word reached the ears of Small Stone Records, who added the band — vocalist Giacomo H Boeddu, guitarist Francesco Raimondi, bassist Massimo Perasso and drummer Andrea Tabbì De Bernardi — to its ever-increasing roster of European heavy rockers, so that their riffy, burly jams might enlighten others to the complex mathematics within the driving grooves of “Breaking Balance,” the moody ’90s stomp of “Flood,” or the final resonant psychedelic proof of the 10-minute closer “Hypothesis,” on which Isaak add further distinction via balancing sitar lines and massive, modern riffery.
This new version of The Longer the Beard the Harder the Soundis set for a June release and includes four bonus tracks: The Pink Floyd cover “Fearless,” the Iron Maiden cover “Wrathchild,” and two more originals, “The Right Time” and “Isolation 2.0.” You’ll find those as well as the rest of the original album ready for consumption on the player following. Please enjoy.
Full stream ahead:
Isaak, The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Small Stone will release Isaak‘s The Longer the Beard the Harder the Soundthis summer. More info at the links below.