Tomorrow’s Dream: 42 of 2014′s Most Anticipated Albums

Posted in Features on January 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Getting ready to type this list is like standing on the precipice of a canyon. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you get the idea. Last year was an all-out assault of music. I couldn’t have heard it all even if I’d wanted to, and while it’ll probably be June before I feel like I’m sufficiently caught up on 2013, the new-car-smelling rush of 2014 is already underway.

And the only thing to do is press on — though I’ve tried on several occasions, I can’t seem to stop time and review everything that I’m fortunate enough to encounter — and that means glancing ahead to what’s coming in 2014. I know I said so before, but once again, Happy New Year.

One of my favorite things to do is to look forward to a new album. I consider it a sign of the endurance of the human spirit not only that new creative works are being completed and distributed at such a constant rate, but that we can still anticipate the resonance of those works upon their arrival. I don’t mind telling you this is the largest of any such list I’ve ever written for this site. Even as I start it, I’m finding more to add, and I’m sure when it’s done it won’t be complete. So it goes.

There’s more to say, but I’ve delayed enough. We’ll go alphabetically, which is only unfortunate because it puts YOB last. Thanks in advance for reading.

 

1. Acid King, TBA

We start the same place we started in 2013, with Acid King. The San Francisco giants have sworn up and down they’ll have a new record out this year, and while I’ve yet to see any solid word of its coming manifest, I remain hopeful that it happens. Of course, that was also pretty much the case going into 2013, but they toured Europe last fall and even came out to the East Coast for a show and played some new material (review here), so if it’s to be that III finally gets a follow-up some nine years later, it’s worth keeping an eye out ahead of time. Acid King on Thee Facebooks.

 

2. Alcest, Shelter

To be released this coming week on Prophecy Productions, the fourth Alcest full-length, Shelter (review here), is billed as a major sonic turn away from the France-based outfit’s black metal influences toward brighter sonic fare. It is that, but the nostalgic melodies and crucial emotionality that has always been the root of Alcest’s sound remains intact. It will be interesting to see what the response is upon its release, but Shelter is an early point of fascination for 2014. Alcest on Thee Facebooks.

 

3. All Them Witches, TBA


I’m not sure what they’re doing in the studio, if it’s a single, an EP or a full-length album, but this past weekend, on Jan. 11, Nashville heavy psych rockers All Them Witches posted the above picture with the simple tagline “Recording.” Fair enough. It seems soon for them to have another LP after 2013′s excellent Lightning at the Door (discussed here), but that album seemed to arrive soon after 2012′s Our Mother Electricity (reissued by Elektrohasch in 2013; review here), so who knows? It’ll be fun to find out either way. All Them Witches on Bandcamp.

 

4. Alunah, TBA

UK doomers Alunah will make their debut on Napalm Records with yet-untitled third album. With wider distribution at their disposal than that received by their 2012 outing, White Hoarhound (review here), I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alunah really leave a mark on 2014, but more fascinating to me than how many people get to hear it is how the band — who’ve swapped out bassists since their last outing — will follow-up the tremendously memorable songs on White Hoarhound. No doubt they can do it, it’s just hard not to be impatient. Alunah on Thee Facebooks.

 

5. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance

I was fortunate enough to be invited down to Amps vs. Ohms in Boston when Blackwolfgoat (aka Darryl Shepard, also of Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, ex-Hackman, Roadsaw, etc. and a new project I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about yet) was tracking the follow-up to 2011′s Dronolith, which was released on this site’s in-house label, The Maple Forum. Raw tracks can sometimes prove to tell little about the finished product of an album, but each piece on Drone Maintenance that I heard had a distinct atmosphere, and “Cyclopean Utopia” was heavy enough on its own to warrant inclusion here. Rumor also has it that Black Pyramid offshoot The Scimitar will release a studio debut this year. Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp.

 

6. Causa Sui, Live at Freak Valley

Holding the promise of over 90 minutes of live-recorded material from the 2013 Freak Valley festival in Germany, Causa Sui‘s Live at Freak Valley will see release through the band’s own El Paraiso Records and should provide further insight as a companion piece to their 2013 studio full-length, Euporie Tide. As that album boasted such an engaging live and progressive feel, successfully meshing desert and krautrock influences, I’d expect no less from the live outing, which though they’ve put out studio jams before — their three-volume 2008-2009 Summer Sessions is a joy worthy of the season — is their first official concert recording. El Paraiso Records website.

 

7. Conan, Blood Eagle

Six devastating tracks that both continue Conan‘s sonic dominance and usher in a new era for the band. Not only is their second full-length, Blood Eagle, their debut on Napalm Records, but it’s also the first Conan LP to be recorded at Skyhammer Studios, which was built and is owned by guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis. Producer Chris Fielding worked with the band previously on 2012′s Monnos (review here) and 2010′s Horseback Battle Hammer EP (review here), and Blood Eagle benefits from that now familiar collaboration, bridging the gap between the faster, catchy sides of Monnos and the complementing ultra-plod of its longer tracks. Album opener “Crown of Talons” also ranks among the heaviest things they’ve ever done, and “Foehammer” takes it’s name from Gandalf’s sword, Glamdring, so I don’t know what more you could ever ask of a full-length than that. Conan on Thee Facebooks.

 

8. Eggnogg, You’re all Invited

With the addition of bassist Corey Dozier to the rhythm section with drummer Jason Prushko, Brooklynite doom-funk stompers Eggnogg have been able to move vocalist Bill O’Sullivan to guitar from bass, giving Justin Karol a chance to act all the more as a lead player. How this new four-piece dynamic might play out on You’re all Invited — or even if Dozier played on it — remains to be seen, but from what I’ve caught live, it’s turned them into a thicker, fuller-sounding band, and on new material and old, Eggnogg are coming into their own. They’re still a better band than they know, and one hopes they can get some road time in as well as release the LP to continue to refine their approach. Eggnogg on Thee Facebooks.

 

9. Elder, Live at Roadburn 2013

Granted it’s been available through Burning World Records digitally since last November, but Elder‘s Live at Roadburn 2013 is set for physical issue early this year through the label, and having stood in front of the stage to witness the set myself at Het Patronaat in Tilburg and then seen the line running outside the venue and down the block, I can tell you it’s a beast. Put it on vinyl with cover art by Adrian Dexter and maybe a photo or two by yours truly and you’ve got a good way to get a preview for what their sets at the two Desertfests might hold this year. Elder on Thee Facebooks.

 

10. 40 Watt Sun, TBA

Speaking of Roadburn, emotive UK doomers 40 Watt Sun are set to make a return appearance at the fabled fest in the Netherlands, and the word was they’d do so with material from the follow-up to their 2011 Metal Blade debut, The Inside Room (review here), which established the band, led by guitarist/vocalist Patrick Walker (Warning), as a deeply affecting act with a rich sonic texture. No word of an exact release date for the sophomore effort yet, but one expects it will receive no shortage of fanfare prior to and upon its arrival. 40 Watt Sun on Thee Facebooks.

 

11. The Golden Grass, TBA

Brooklyn trio The Golden GrassOne More Time b/w Tornado debut single was one of the best short releases of 2013, and the sunshiny classic heavy rockers will look to follow it with a first long-player this year. Recording is completed — the tracking was helmed by Andréa Zavareei, who also did the 7″ — and so is mixing, done by Jeff Berner (Naam, etc.), so with mastering in progress, hopefully it’s not too long before The Golden Grass can offer a right-on cure for wintry blues. It will be interesting to hear how they sustain and work within their positive vibes over the course of a complete LP. The Golden Grass on Thee Facebooks.

 

12. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes

Trails and Passes will be Greenleaf‘s first outing since 2003′s Secret Alphabets not to be fronted by Oskar Cedermalm (also of Truckfighters) and also finds the Swedish unit both with a new drummer (hello, Sebastian Olsson) and down from two guitars to one. It was five years between their third album, 2007′s Agents of Ahriman and 2012′s Nest of Vipers (review here), so with a quicker turnaround and a stripped-down songwriting approach that seems geared more toward a live-sounding heavy rock presentation, Greenleaf could easily be positioning themselves as a full(er)-time touring act. The more the merrier. Greenleaf on Thee Facebooks.

 

13. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren

UK power trio Grifter surprised some with the quality of songwriting on their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), the lacking pretense of which was in proportion to its classic heavy rock influence, but The Return of the Bearded Brethren, which is set to release on Ripple Music, won’t have the advantage of sneaking up. If they’re throwing down a gauntlet, the confrontational pose of the shirtless tattooed beardo on their LP cover would seem to indicate it’s a considerable one indeed, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Grifter made following up on their self-titled sound as easy as they made infectious hooks sound the last time out. Grifter on Thee Facebooks.

 

14. Hull, TBA

Down from a five-piece to a foursome after having lost one of their three guitars since the release of 2011′s stellar second LP, Beyond the Lightless Sky (review here), 2014 marks an interesting point for singular Brooklyn post-thrashers Hull. With a Roadburn appearance slated and a limited vinyl reissue of their 2007 Viking Funeral debut EP in hand, they’ll look to bring their conceptual songwriting into a new presentational arc, and while that’s a fascinating prospect, I’m also looking forward to their new album because it promises to be heavy as fuck whenever it happens to arrive, hopefully by the end of the year. Hull on Thee Facebooks.

 

15. Lowrider, TBA

Were this list numbered in anticipatory rather than alphabetical order, Lowrider would be much closer to the top than lucky number 13. The Swedish four-piece will be recording their first outing since 2000′s genre-landmark Ode to Io this year after reuniting on stage at Desertfest 2013 — they’ll return to London next month with Dozer — and while I don’t know if it’ll be out by the time 2014 is done, I do know that the sheer prospect of a new Lowrider makes this year much better than it would be otherwise. I already invited myself to Sweden for an in-studio. More to come. Lowrider on Thee Facebooks.

 

16. The Machine, TBA

A couple weeks back, Dutch heavy psych rockers The Machine — whose split with now-defunct countrymen Sungrazer (review here) was my favorite short release last year — held a poll on their Thee Facebooks page to name their upcoming fifth album, which will follow 2012′s Calmer than You Are (review here) on Elektrohasch. My suggestion? Come to Light. It has the advantage of sounding psychedelic with an undertone of enlightenment to speak to the band’s continuing progression and it keeps with the prior album in being a reference to The Big Lebowski. No word on whether or not they’ll use it, but I’ve got my fingers crossed. The Machine’s website.

 

17. Mars Red Sky, TBA

Currently in the mixing stage, the second Mars Red Sky long-player will arrive on the heels of 2013′s Be My Guide EP (review here) and the Bordeaux fuzz trio’s self-titled 2011 debut (review here) and a host of tours and festival appearances. While their plans to record in the California desert reportedly didn’t pan out, the trio put much of the album to tape over the course of a week in Brazil following dates in South America, so it should boast plenty of sunshine either way. The album is due for release in April — a pro-shot live video of the new song “Satellites” was recently unveiled — and Mars Red Sky will also play at Hellfest in their native France in June. Mars Red Sky on Bandcamp.

 

18. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty

The Washington trio’s first album for Listenable Records and their second since picking back up after several years of inactivity while guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed concentrated on Stone Axe, Electric Mountain Majesty is done and mastered as of Jan. 5. Recorded by Reed himself, it will follow a pair of live outings in 2013 (reviews here and here) and 2012′s infectious return, Nomads (review here). I am fully prepared to have these songs stuck in my head for most of 2014, so bring it on. A March release has been floated, which would come ahead of an appearance at Freak Valley in late May. Mos Generator on Thee Facebooks.

 

19. Mr. Peter Hayden, Archdimension Now

Triumphantly creative Finnish cosmic doomers Mr. Peter Hayden will complete a trilogy with Archdimension Now that began with 2010′s Faster than Speed (review here) and 2012′s single-song 68-minute LP, Born a Trip (review here). Crushing tones and a formidable scope don’t seem like unreasonable expectations, though what really interests me is how the Satakunta five-piece will expand on the sound of their last album, which still seems to reveal something new each time I put it on. Their new single “We Fly High,” was streamed here recently and bodes well. Mr. Peter Hayden on Bandcamp.

 

20. Pallbearer, TBA

Pallbearer have toured hard since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), hit a nerve with doomers across the globe, and the four-piece from Arkansas are set to begin recording their next LP (presumably) for Profound Lore in February. If that puts a release for sometime in late Spring/early Summer, I would imagine it will come coupled with no shortage of live dates, since the band seems most at home on tour. Should be intriguing to have a document of how all that stage time has manifested in solidifying and adding confidence to their approach, and this is another one preceded by much anticipation. Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks.

 

21. Papir, IIII

It would seem I have some purchases to make in order to catch up with Danish heavy psych jammers Papir. Aside from their recent collaboration with Electric Moon, the upcoming IIII will sure enough be their fourth album. Available now to preorder through El Paraiso Records, it is a vinyl-ready 47 minutes of smoothly shifting transitions between lush atmospherics and driving fuzz-heavy rock, ready to stand in line with progressive European instrumentalists like 35007, My Sleeping Karma and indeed their label honchos, Causa Sui. I had caught wind of 2013′s III previously, but deeper back catalog investigation is definitely warranted. Papir on Thee Facebooks.

 

22. Pilgrim, TBA

Just before they left to tour Europe with Windhand, Providence, Rhode Island, doomers Pilgrim recorded their sophomore full-length at Moonlight Mile Recording in scenic Jersey City, NJ. After the huge response garnered — and, I should say, earned — by their 2012 debut, Misery Wizard, the band jumped from Alan Averill of Primordial‘s Metal Blade imprint, Poison Tongue Records, to Metal Blade proper for the new one, which along with Pallbearer, 40 Watt Sun, Serpent Venom and The Wounded Kings (and no doubt others) makes a prospect for a thoroughly doomed 2014. So be it. Pilgrim on Thee Facebooks.

 

23. Radio Moscow, TBA

As I type these words, heavy rockers Radio Moscow are mixing their yet-untitled fourth album (fifth if you count 2012′s 3 & 3 Quarters, which was comprised of early unreleased material) at Big Fish Recording in Encinitas, CA. Details on the release are sketchy at best at this point, and by that I mean nil, but at least there’s progress being made, and since it’s still January, it seems entirely likely the album will surface one way or another in the next 11 months, barring disaster. The bombastic blues jammers led by Parker Griggs toured Europe last fall and rumor is there’s a run in the works for the US at the end of February into March. Radio Moscow on Thee Facebooks.

 

24. Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today

What’s not to like about a new Sigiriya album? The UK four-piece premiered “Tribe of the Old Oak” from Darkness Died Today here last month, and in addition to the considerable pipes of new vocalist Matt Williams, the track showcased a somewhat moodier psychedelic vibe from the band, who continue to distance themselves from Acrimony, of which bassist Paul Bidmead, guitarist Stuart O’Hara and drummer Darren Ivey were members, while also exploring new avenues from those of Sigiriya‘s debut, 2011′s Return to Earth (review here). I haven’t heard the whole thing yet, but they set a high standard last time. Sigiriya on Thee Facebooks.

 

25. Sixty Watt Shaman, TBA

Reason to Live, was released by Spitfire Records (remember them?) in… wait for it… 2002. Some 12 years ago. Now, these dudes have been kicking around in other bands since Sixty Watt Shaman sort of melted away in the manner that underrated bands often unfortunately do, but with the announcement of their appearances this year at Desertfest (info here) in April and The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 in May (info here) came word of a new studio release. EP or LP unknown at present. As killer as Reason to Live was, it just doesn’t seem fair to expect Sixty Watt Shaman to be the same band they were more than a decade ago. As such, I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m keen to find out. Sixty Watt Shaman on Thee Facebooks.

 

26. Skraeckoedlan, Gigantos

The 2011 debut from upstart Swedish heavy-hitters Skraeckoedlan, titled Äppelträdet (review here), was recorded by Oskar Cedermalm of Truckfighters and had much of that band’s fuzzy compression in blend with their own Mastodon-ic plod. It was a combination that worked so well I thought for sure the young outfit would return to Studio Bombshelter for their next outing, but no dice. As a result, I’m not sure what to expect from Gigantos, but I dug what I heard in a recent live video from them, so we’ll see how it turns out when the LP is done and I’m not about to judge either way until then. Skraeckoedlan on Thee Facebooks.

 

27. The Skull, TBA

I have no interest in downplaying any of the original members of Trouble‘s contributions to that legendary Chicago doom band (nor the work they’re doing now or those contributing to it), but there can be no question that Eric Wagner‘s voice is a signature element, and right now, that’s something The Skull has over the outfit from whence they sprang. Add to that Ron Holzner‘s bass and Jeff “Oly” Olson‘s drums and you’re well on your way to some foundational heavy. Among the best signs is that The Skull were recording with Billy Anderson (Sleep, the Melvins, Acid King, etc.), who obviously knows his shit and is likely to capture their sound as it should be: Completely doomed. Also keep an eye out for Wagner‘s side-project, Blackfinger, who have an LP coming. The Skull on Thee Facebooks.

 

28. Sleep, TBA

This would be the mother of them all, I guess. A new Sleep album. In addition to hinting at new studio outings by his own three-piece Om and Matt Pike‘s High on Fire, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros let it slip casual-style in an interview somewhere that Sleep were working on new material, thus snapping my Thee Facebooks feed in half. Fair enough. Working on material doesn’t mean we’ll see a record this year, or at all, but obviously if there’s a chance a new album might happen (I’ve been nerding out about the idea for a while; see here and here), it would be proof of justice in the universe. Seems an obvious thing that Billy Anderson would record this as well, and all the better. Can the Sons of Sabbath prove there’s life after Dopesmoker? For now, only the Antarcticans know. Sleep’s website.

 

29. Slough Feg, Digital Resistance

Slated for release through Metal Blade — they’re taking preorders — what if I’m not mistaken is the 32nd Slough Feg LP is due on Feb. 18. As much as I’m looking forward to the release of the record itself, having very, very much enjoyed 2010′s The Animal Spirits (review here), I’m even more interested to see if I finally get up the gumption to interview guitarist/vocalist Mike Scalzi. Something about a dude who doubles as a philosophy professor and who’s been putting out records in his band since I was nine and long before anyone gave a shit I’ve always found intimidating. We’ll see if I’m up to it this year. @Slough_Feg.

 

30. Snail, Feral

Last summer, West Coast riffers Snail announced the departure of guitarist Eric Clausen, which means that their fourth outing, Feral, will be their first as the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson, bassist Matt Lynch and drummer Marty Dodson since their 1993 self-titled debut full-length (reissue review here). Should be interesting to see how the shift to their original lineup changes the tenor of Feral as opposed to their two albums with Clausen, 2009′s comebacker Blood (review here) and 2012′s Terminus (review here), but as the first audio from the record begins to surface, Snail‘s sound seems to still very much have its core intact. Terminus brought in something of a rawer heavy metal influence coming off the languid, dreamy Blood, but as they’ve been back together now for going on half a decade, no doubt a few more twists are in store. Snail on Thee Facebooks.

 

31. Steak, TBA

Quickly emerging at the fore of London’s enviable up and coming heavy rock scene — and, in the case of guitarist Reece Tee, helping shape it as one of the architects of DesertfestSteak are set to debut this year on Napalm Records with what will be their first full-length following two EPs, 2012′s Disastronaught (review here) and 2013′s Corned Beef Colossus (review here). They’ve put in time on tour — they’ll play in Spain with Monster Magnet and in London with Lowrider and Dozer in February — and seem to be ready to take the next step in releasing an album, and after the conceptual elements of both EPs, I’m eager to see where the next chapter of their story goes. Steak on Bandcamp.

 

32. Stubb, TBA

Tracking is to begin a few weeks from now for Stubb‘s second album at Jon Davis of Conan‘s Skyhammer Studios. After the release of their 2013 single, Under a Spell (review here), and the departure of drummer Chris West, guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson and bassist/vocalist Peter Holland acquired Tom Fyfe to fill the position, and subsequently found a label home on Ripple Music. It’ll be a different Stubb than they were on their 2012 self-titled debut (review here), but the fuzz runs strong in them however the changes might manifest in the finished product from the studio, and I can’t even think of “Under a Spell” without hearing the chorus in my head, so yeah, I’m on board. Stubb on Thee Facebooks.

 

33. SunnO))) & Ulver,Terrestrials

A collaboration between drone lords SunnO))) and Norwegian post-black metal progenitors Ulver probably isn’t the kind of thing that’s going to make you crush a beer can on your forehead and call your bros to come over and check it out (actually, I don’t know what kind of music does that, but it probably sucks), but Terrestrials has the potential to be one of 2014′s most unique releases all the same. After Ulver‘s delving into orchestral minimalism on 2013′s Messe I-IX, it’s really anyone’s best guess what this will sound like when it comes out on Feb. 4. SunnO))) explored some cinematic ground with 2009′s Monoliths and Dimensions (review here), but still, to speculate seems like setting myself up to be a fool later. Southern Lord Recordings website.

 

34. Tombs, Savage Gold

For their third album for Relapse, Brooklyn three-turned-four-piece Tombs headed south to Florida to record with Hate Eternal‘s Erik Rutan. If vague Thee Facebook posts are anything to go by, the resulting LP is 57:18 and titled Savage Gold. I’m not sure when it’ll be out, but as the follow-up to 2011′s widely and loudly lauded Path of Totality, whatever it’s called and whenever the new Tombs shows up, chances are it’s going to receive as much extremity as it doles out. Tombs on Thee Facebooks.

 

35. Triptykon, Melana Chasmata

Heirs to the black, shiny and probably spiky throne of Celtic Frost, ultra-dark metallers Triptykon will answer 2010′s Eparistera Daimones (review here) with Melana Chasmata, which though it’s somewhat easier to type is no doubt even more gleefully excruciating a listen. As with the debut, they’ll mark the release with an appearance at Roadburn (info here). No audio has surfaced yet, but with a release date set for April 24, that can’t be too far off. Will Tom G. Warrior push Triptykon further away from their Celtic Frost lineage? I don’t know, but if there’s beauty in darkness, he’s the one to find it. Triptykon on Thee Facebooks.

 

36. Truckfighters, Universe

Feb. 4 is the stated release date for Universe (review here), the fourth album from Örebro fuzzdudes Truckfighters. The Swedish three-piece explore ground that at the same time is more emotionally complex than their last outing, 2009′s Mania (review here), and also more straightforward in the songwriting, resulting in a collection of tracks not necessarily as upbeat as some of what they’ve done in the past, but ultimately working toward a different kind of realization. No doubt hard touring will follow throughout the rest of this year, so if you want to catch Truckfighters, you’re likely to get your chance. Truckfighters on Thee Facebooks.

 

37. Valley of the Sun, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk

Like Truckfighters, Midwestern heavy rockers Valley of the Sun will issue their new album, the somewhat cumbersomely-titled Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk on Fuzzorama Records, and the two acts are slated to tour together in Europe from Feb. 8 through March 14 ahead of Valley of the Sun‘s April 1 release date. If you contributed to their crowdfunding campaign, you might already have a copy of Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk on vinyl, but either way, the official release is worthy of note, particularly for as much growth as the full-length (their debut) shows from 2011′s already-impressive The Sayings of the Seers (review here). Valley of the Sun on Thee Facebooks.

 

38. Weedeater, TBA

Not certain how to tell you this, but I’m not sure we’re going to see a new Weedeater album this year. Between the North Carolina sludgers’ busy tour schedule and Season of Mist reissuing their other four albums, it seems like an awful lot for Weedeater to then also write and record a follow-up to 2011′s Jason… the Dragon (review here). I’m not saying it can’t be done — hell, for all I know they’ve finished writing and the studio is booked — but if a new Weedeater arrives, although it was mentioned with their West Coast tour dates that start this week, right now it seems like it would be later in 2014 or maybe early 2015 by the time it gets here. Hey, I could be wrong. I’d prefer it that way. Weedeater on Thee Facebooks.

 

39. Wolves in the Throne Room, TBA

They put out BBC Session 2011 Anno Domini last year as a kind of holdover release, but last month brought news of new songs for 2014, which would be Wolves in the Throne Room‘s first since Celestial Lineage in 2011. They toured their heaviest yet that record, so a bit of a break wasn’t necessarily out of order, but for an act who inspire the kind of loyalty that Wolves in the Throne Room do, three years can be a long time. Not much by way of specifics on the new release, whether it’s a full-length or not, when they might record, where, or when it might surface, but we know they’ve got new material, and that’s a step. Wolves in the Throne Room’s website.

 

40. The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum

Due Feb. 24 on Candlelight, Consolamentum is the fourth long-player in the tumultuous career of British progressive doomers The Wounded Kings, who despite a seemingly endless series of lineup shifts have managed to release their four albums in a span of six years. With guitarist/founder Steve Mills at the core and the eerie but powerful vocals of Sharie Neyland over top, The Wounded Kings have tapped into a doom quick to separate itself from the pack, and Consolamentum conjures some of their most oppressive atmospherics yet, with expansive cuts like “Gnosis” and “The Silence” fed into by ambient passages and interludes. The Wounded Kings on Thee Facebooks.

 

41. Yawning Man, Gravity is Good for You

Desert legends Yawning Man released a split with Fatso Jetson in 2013 — only appropriate, since the two acts share Mario Lalli — but Gravity is Good for You, like whatever Acid King might have in store, is a holdover from last year’s list. Guitarist Gary Arce of the long-running and hugely influential instrumental jammers has reportedly been in the studio with Lalli and Third Ear Experience drummer Erik Mouness (video surfaced), but there’s yet to be concrete word on when Gravity is Good for You, reportedly a double album and the band’s follow-up to 2010′s Nomadic Pursuits (review here), might be finished. Got my fingers crossed it’s this year. Yawning Man on Thee Facebooks.

 

42. YOB, TBA

Feels like a terribly long way to go only to get to one of the albums I’m most looking forward to hearing, but the alphabet works in mysterious ways sometimes. On Jan. 7, Eugene, Oregon, überdoomers YOB posted the following on their Thee Facebooks: “Had an amazing YOB practice. The new songs are fully in focus. 2 mega DOOM bludgeoners, one “faster” song, and the most beautiful arrangement we’ve ever written to close. 4 songs, 55 minutes.” Last I heard, they were to begin recording for their seventh (man, time flies) LP this week with a release in the months to follow, and since YOB haven’t put out an album since 2004 that I didn’t pick it as my Album of the Year, you can bet your ass I’m looking forward to what they do next. Particularly that part about “the most beautiful arrangement we’ve ever written.” Sold. YOB on Thee Facebooks.

Others to keep an eye on, some mentioned above, some not:

Ararat, III (Another 2013 holdover)
The Atlas Moth, The Old Believer (Out in June)
Brant Bjork, Jakoozi
Blackfinger, Blackfinger
Godhunter, City of Dust
Ice Dragon (Some older releases are being physically pressed and new stuff is never far off)
King Buffalo (Their demo ruled)
King Dead (First audio just surfacing, but holds promise)
Lo-Pan (Been a while in the making at this point, hopefully 2014)
Pet the Preacher, The Cave and the Sunlight
The Proselyte (EP coming on Gypsyblood Records)
Rainbows are Free, Waves ahead of the Ocean
Saint Vitus (Began writing last Fall)
Salem’s Pot, Lurar ut dig på prärien
The Scimitar (Debut from Black Pyramid offshoot)
Seedy Jeezus (Recording in Australia now with Tony Reed)
Serpent Venom, Of Things Seen and Unseen
Spirit Caravan (Nothing announced but you never know)
Various Artists, Songs of Townes Van Zandt Pt. II
Wino & Conny Ochs (Maybe, maybe not)
The Wisdoom, Hypothalamus
Wo Fat (New album recorded)

I’m quite positive that the first thing to happen after this is posted is that someone will chime in with something I forgot. At least I hope that’s what happens. As large as this list has turned out to be (much, much larger than I thought it would be when I started taking notes for it), there’s no way it could cover everything, and I hope if there’s an upcoming release in particular that you’re looking forward to, you’ll please let me know in the comments.

Thank you so much for reading and for all of your support. Here’s to an amazing 2014.

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Friday Full-Length: Snail, All Channels are Open EP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Snail, All Channels are Open EP (1994)

Snail released the All Channels are Open EP in 1994 on Big Deal Records to serve as the follow-up to their 1993 self-titled debut full-length (reissue review here). It would be the last outing the former and once again West Coast trio would have prior to calling it quits after demoing songs for an album that wouldn’t greet the riff-worshiping public for another 16 years. That record was 2009′s Blood (review here), and Snail have been going strong since. Their 2012 self-released Terminus CD (review here) was a winner all the way, they played Doom in June this year and are reportedly working on another new long-player perhaps even as I type this. Right on.

I make no bones about being a fan of the band, so when I saw on their Thee Facebooks that they made All Channels are Open a for-cheap download ($3) on the Snail Bandcamp, I took it as an excuse to revisit the druggy five-track outing, which I picked up on CD a while ago but haven’t given nearly as many spins as either of the two recent albums or even the self-titled. Basically, I wanted to end the week with something I knew I liked and saw from them this was up. Here’s what they had to say about it:

Some of you were asking where to get this. We don’t have physical copies but here’s a high-quality download if you’re into it. Otherwise, there are old copies floating around out there, just starting to get expensive due to being out of print. Buy digital and support us instead!

http://snailhq.bandcamp.com/album/all-channels-are-open-ep

Good stuff. I continue to dig Snail, their unassuming vibe, their fascinating story, their excellent, laid back grooves and even their more aggressive moments, which never quite lose sight of the melody underneath. Looking forward to their new one.

Holy fucking shit. I don’t at all mind saying this was the worst week I’ve had in four years. Even worse than when we didn’t get that house up here because of the fucking gas leak about a month ago — and that was plenty terrible for my tastes. Started out pretty strong with that Truckfighters show on Monday. Then Tuesday I got a note from The Aquarian that they were cutting my already embarrassingly low salary in half because it’s print media and they don’t make any money. I managed to keep most of my income from them, and then on Wednesday, my other job — the website-management thing I’ve been doing for four-plus years that’s been the only job I’ve ever had where I’ve felt the compensation is remotely commensurate for the work put in — pulled the rug out from under me out of the blue. Shitcanned for absolutely no reason. “Blah blah blah corporate buzzwords.” I’ve been “streamlined” more times than I care to fucking count. “Nothing to do with your performance, your work is excellent, but, well, we’ve fucked over everyone else on our staff and it’s your turn. By the way, how about you keep working for us for less than a quarter of what we were paying you before?”

Bottom line is I’m 31 years old. I have made several truly, truly terrible life choices. I’ve made one good one, and that’s The Patient Mrs., but just about everything else, ever, has been shit. And it continues to be shit. I have no idea what I’m going to do for work — because The Aquarian salary isn’t enough to live on in this place that I just signed a lease on three fucking weeks ago – no idea how it’s going to affect this site, no idea of anything. I’m at a complete fucking loss. Tonight I throw my hands up in the air, shake my head and say I simply don’t fucking know. I don’t know.

So yes, this is a week I’m very glad to see come to an end. Whatever happens from here, it can’t possibly get much worse. The only way to go is up. And telling myself that is how I’ll get through without having my skull collapse on itself like a neutron fucking star.

Next week: I wanna review Argus. I don’t know yet what else, but definitely that. Renate/Cordate have waited like five months for a review too, so look for something on them. And there’s a Swedish band called Signo Rojo who I wanted to write about today but ran out of time (I have family in from out of town this weekend and had to get the place ready this afternoon), so look for that Monday. As to the rest, I’ll gladly refer you to the part above where I said I had no idea. I interviewed Brant Bjork the other day. Maybe I’ll put that up. Guess I’m going to have some time to transcribe shit now at least.

Ugh.

Wishing you a great and safe weekend.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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15 Before ’14: Records Not to Miss Before the New Year Hits

Posted in Features on August 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you’re anything like me — and let’s just hope for your sake you’re not — then you’re sitting in front of your laptop staring at a calendar telling you it’s August wondering what the hell happened to June and July. Last time I turned around, it was barely summer, and now it’s starting to get cold at night.

We’re well past the halfway mark on 2013, and I know for some the year’s best picks are already set in mind, but there’s a ton of cool releases still to come before 2014 hits, and I figured now’s as good a time as any for a rundown of a few picks that seem to be sure to arrive prior to December 31. As much as anything’s ever “sure,” anyway. Subject to change, and all that.

With the gracious suggestions/assistance of those checking in on the forum (see that thread for many more picks) taken into consideration, here are 15 suggestions to be on a lookout for starting in September. Some of these I’ve heard, some I haven’t, but take it as a sampling of what I’m looking forward to, if nothing else.

And because I know nothing says “I know how to have a good time” like a list in order of release date, here goes nothing:

Vista Chino, Peace (Sept. 3)

It took me a couple listens to come around to Vista Chino‘s Peace (review here), but once I got to that point, there was no turning back. The much-anticipated Napalm Records debut from the four-piece birthed out of Kyuss Lives!, Peace ultimately moves forward as much as it looks back, and though much of the lyrics center around the lawsuit that forced Kyuss Lives! to change their name, the songs themselves do arrive at a certain place of acceptance by the end of the record, so that in the end it lives up to its title. Some won’t be able to make the leap over their expectations for what an album with Brant Bjork, John Garcia and Nick Oliveri on it should sound like, but most importantly, Vista Chino are pressing on and I hope this isn’t the last record they make together, even if Oliveri is already out of the band’s touring lineup.

Larman Clamor, Alligator Heart (Sept. 10)

The solo-outfit of graphic artist Alexander von Wieding, Larman Clamor has been pumping out quality swamp boogie for the last two years at a more than prolific clip. Last year, von Wieding made his debut on Small Stone with Frogs (review here), and while the forthcoming Alligator Heart (out through the same label) strips the approach down somewhat — as you can hear on the single “Banshee w’Me” — the murkedelic blues spirit remains supreme at the center of the project’s approach. Larman Clamor has flown relatively under the radar so far into its run, but showing a little bit of a poppier side on Alligator Heart‘s tracks might gain it some more attention. Von Wieding‘s songwriting continues to be worth the price of admission to the bizarre carnival he creates.

Windhand, Soma (Sept. 17)

Richmond-based cult sludgers Windhand made their debut on Relapse earlier this year on a split release with Cough — with whom they share a bassist and a hometown — and will follow that next month with Soma, their second LP behind their 2012 self-titled debut full-length. The band have only gotten darker and meaner since adding Cough‘s Parker Chandler on bass, and with that split heralding its coming, Soma should arrive with a fittingly devastating impact. Windhand have also put in no shortage of time on the road, and even as the new one comes out, they’ll be embroiled in a coast-to-coast US tour, so keep an eye out — and that goes for Europe too. I wouldn’t be surprised if a full tour with Inter Arma got announced around their joint Roadburn appearances next spring.

Sasquatch, IV (Sept. 24)

Sasquatch bloody Sasquatch. If you’ve got a face, these dudes’ll rock it right off. With IV (Small Stone) their first full-length since 2010′s III (review here), L.A. trio Sasquatch very casually offer a reminder that those who talk about how rock and roll needs to be “saved” don’t have a clue what’s really up, that rock and roll never went anywhere and that its awesomeness continues unabated. Need testimony? Check out the track stream for “The Message.” Classic grooves, class-y showoff solos, catchy tunes and later in the album even a foray into psychedelic jamming — let there be no doubt that Sasquatch have nailed down right where they want to be sound-wise and are ready to make the most of the good times they’re rolling out as they continue to lay their own railroad, grand and funky as it is. Soundgarden wishes they had this kind of edge.

Iron Man, South of the Earth (Sept. 30)

You’d pretty much have to be a jerk not to feel good about the fact that long-running, long-underappreciated Maryland doom stalwarts Iron Man are getting their due in the form of a Rise Above Records release for their new album, South of the Earth. I know that’s not the most impartial statement in the world, but seriously, who deserves Lee Dorrian-endorsed doom cred more than Iron Man? The names are few and far between. South of the Earth already had me on the hook for being their first full-length with frontman Dee Calhoun on board alongside guitarist “Iron” Al Morris III, bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann, but with the hopefully increased profile of issue on Rise Above, who knows what could be in store for them once it’s out?

Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Underground EP (Sept.)

Trippy Wicked caught me off guard last year with the heavier and more metal side that showed up on their Going Home long-player (review here), but this time I’m ready. I’ve readjusted my expectations for what the UK trio might unleash on the new Underground EP — set phasers to who-the-hell-knows — and after the quick mastery of the metallurgical arts they showed the last time out, I’m happy to follow wherever their creative whims might take them. I know this is a list of albums and technically an EP isn’t a full album, but screw it, I dig these guys and am fascinated enough by their progression that it’s worth including even the smaller release here. If the art for Underground (due out through Superhot Records) is anything to go by — and I don’t yet know that it is — we could be in for a pretty wild ride.

Earthless, From the Ages (Oct. 8)

San Diego instrumentalists Earthless are looking to make an epic return on From the Ages (Tee Pee Records), which is their first studio full-length in six years. Though they’ve had a steady stream of live releases, limited splits and the like, and guitarist Isaiah Mitchell released a debut album with the heavy psych outfit Golden Void last year, nothing’s quite the same as Earthless‘ righteous jams and extended progressions. Look out for the 31-minute title-track (one of four on the album; more info here) as Earthless step into the limelight and reap the momentum they’ve built through steady years of touring and critical acclaim. From the Ages might just prove one for the ages.

Monster Magnet, Last Patrol (Oct. 15)

My only question when it comes to Monster Magnet‘s second album for Napalm Records — touted by frontman Dave Wyndorf as a return to their psychedelic beginnings — is how literally we’re supposed to take the title Last Patrol and if indeed this is going to be the final go for the long-running and hugely influential New Jersey outfit. If so, they draw their circle as complete as they possibly could, and whether it’s “The Duke (of Supernature),” which has received nearly 23,000 plays since being premiered here on July 23, or the driving churn of “End of Time,” Monster Magnet tap into the spirit that propelled 1995′s Dopes to Infinity and readjust the balance of their influence in a way fans have been clamoring for for years now. The more I hear it, the more I need to hear it.

Pelican, Forever Becoming (Oct. 15)

A new Pelican album is an interesting enough proposition at this point — it’s been four years since the Chicago instrumental outfit released What We all Come to Need (review here) — but Forever Becoming (Southern Lord) has an added level of intrigue for being Pelican‘s first album without guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec. Stepping in to fill the second guitar spot is Dallas Thomas of The Swan King, and it should be interesting to hear how the band’s approach has shifted after almost half a decade and what Thomas brings to the well-established chemistry between bassist Bryan Herweg, drummer Larry Herweg and guitarist Trevor de Brauw. If the first track is anything to go by, Pelican still sounds like Pelican, and I’m not going to complain about that.

Corrections House, Last City Zero (Oct. 29)

Probably the bigger surprise would’ve been if the super-type group Corrections House didn’t make their full-length debut on Neurot, but still, word was welcome when it came down a couple weeks back that the conjoined efforts of Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Mike IX Williams (EyeHateGod), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) and Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea, Minsk and the guy you want to record your album) were resulting in an actual album to follow up on their initial single and tour earlier this year. Whether the entirety of the record works in the kind of industrial, post-Godflesh noise crunch they brought to the stage on that tour (review here), we’ll just have to wait and see. But I’m damn interested to find out.

Red Fang, Whales and Leeches (Oct.)

Those who heard Red Fang‘s 2011 boot-to-the-ass second album, Murder the Mountains (review here), will probably find Whales and Leeches (named for a track off their 2008 self-titled debut) a reasonable follow-up. The Portland forerunners’ second offering through Relapse finds bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam even more front and center with clean vocals, and ultra-catchy songs like “Blood Like Cream” and “No Hope” seem to pick up right where Red Fang left off last time, offsetting Beam‘s poppier style with guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles‘ throaty grit . Watch out for much more to come on this one. Between the record itself and their formidable road ethic, you’re probably going to be hearing a lot about it.

The Melvins, Tres Cabrones (Nov. 5)

If you were to ask me how many records the Melvins have out in 2013, I’d go, “Uh… I dunno… six?” and the mere fact that that doesn’t seem like a ridiculous answer should be indicative of the frankly absurd pace at which the long-enduring Washington outfit add to their already insurmountable catalog. What makes Tres Cabrones (Ipecac) different? Reportedly, it’s a semi-reunion of the band’s 1983 lineup — as close as they were willing to get, was how Buzz Osbourne put it in the press release — that finds Dale Crover playing bass to make room for drummer Mike Dillard. The Melvins released the collection Mangled Demos from 1983 in 2005, but Tres Cabrones will be entirely new material. You never know quite where the Melvins are headed next, and if anyone could find a way to go forward even as they go backward, it’d be them.

Sandrider, Godhead (Date TBA)


So in case you couldn’t tell by the “TBA” above, this one’s a bit of wishful thinking on my part. I don’t actually know that Sandrider (members of Akimbo and The Ruby Doe) will issue a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled Good to Die Records debut (review here) before the end of 2013, but golly, I hope they do. The band said on July 11 via their Thee Facebooks that they’d finished mastering the album, titled Godhead, for a Fall release, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see once it’s pressed and ready to go. The sooner the better, since that first record was a smoker and nothing says “autumn” like some noise crunch bombast. At least that’s what I have embroidered on my doilies…

Snail, Feral (TBA)

Not sure on the release date for West Coast riffers Snail‘s fourth album and third since reactivating in 2009 with Blood, but the recording’s reportedly done, so hopefully it’s not too long before they get it out. The band recently announced the departure of guitarist Eric Clausen, so they’re down to the original trio of guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson, bassist Matt Lynch and drummer Marty Dodson, and how that will affect their sound on the follow-up to last year’s metallized self-release, Terminus (review here), remains to be seen, but if there’s any chance Snail might be able to get more road time in support of Feral, whenever it arrives, than no doubt it will have been worth the tumult in the meantime. And even if not, the album’s still one to watch for.

The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum (TBA)

Another one with no exact date, but according to producer Chris Fielding, it’ll be out before 2013′s over. Either way, when it lands, Consolamentum will serve as the Candlelight Records debut. It’s their fourth outing overall, and the second to be produced by Fielding and to feature frontwoman Sharie Neyland, whose work on 2011′s In the Chapel of the Black Hand (review here) made that album one of the year’s most satisfyingly bizarre and dreary doom offerings. Along with founding guitarist Steve Mills, Neyland returns for Consolamentum and whether it hits in 2013 or 2014, look for the band to progress from the last time out. Mills (interview here) is a relentlessly forward-thinking songwriter and his penchant for creating atmospheric and crushingly dark sonic spaces is not to be underestimated.

Whew. These things always take so much longer than I think they’re going to when I start writing names on Post-It notes.

Of course, this is just a sampling of what’s to come over the next few months. Borracho‘s new one is supposed to get a vinyl release, and A Storm of Light have a new record, plus I heard rumors of new Slough Feg (they have a new single that would seem to back that up) and a much-awaited Brothers of the Sonic Cloth full-length coming before the end of the year — I also, right now, quite literally this second, just got news of a new Diesto on Eolian Empire — so please don’t assume that if it’s not here it’s never coming or whatever. There’s so much out there, I always feel like I’m leaving out something big and/or awesome.

Thanks for reading.

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Snail Part Ways with Lead Guitarist Eric Clausen

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

And then there were three… again. Lead guitarist Eric Clausen joined up with Snail founders Mark Johnson (guitar/vocals), bassist Matt Lynch (bass) and Marty Dodson (drums) when they reformed in 2008 to release the stellar sophomore outing, Blood (review here), the next year on MeteorCity. A fully reformed four-piece, if one spread somewhat geographically between California and Seattle on the West Coast, Snail issued their worthy follow-up in the form of third album, Terminus (review here), and today, even as their fourth is in progress — more on that below — the band announced that Clausen has left to focus on his own projects, one of which, Division Process, has a new record of its own in the can.

I’m not sure where in the process of making that fourth offering, titled Feral, Snail actually are, but having been fortunate enough to see them with Clausen in the lineup, I know he added a considerable amount to the band. Nonetheless, there’s a certain amount of enjoyable symmetry to them winding up a trio after starting out that way with the release of their self-titled debut (review here) back in the early ’90s.

Here’s how it is:

It is with heavy hearts that we must announce that our friend and bandmate Eric Clausen will be leaving Snail. We will continue to support him in his many musical endeavors and wish him the success that he deserves.

Says Eric – “I’ve decided to devote my time to my own projects. I loved my time with my bros and wish Snail all the best and will continue to show my support of them.”

You’ll be able to hear more from Eric soon as he will be releasing a new CD under the name Division Process.

In other news, Snail have revealed the songs that will appear on Feral when it is released:

Snail, Feral tracklisting
Smoke the deathless
Derail
Born in captivity
Thou art that
Fast woman
A mustard seed
Psilocybe
Building a haunted house
Come home

Snail, The ’93-’94 Blood Demos (2012)

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Doom in June III Tickets Now Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The lineup is admirably varied and unflinchingly heavy, and Doom in June III is set to take place June 1, 2013, at the Cheyenne Saloon in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tickets for the day-long get-down are now available via the link embedded below in the info sent down the PR wire:

DOOM IN JUNE III MUSIC FESTIVAL

Saturday, June 1st, 2013
The Cheyenne Saloon in Las Vegas

April 2, 2013 – Las Vegas, NV — The celebrated DOOM IN JUNE MUSIC FESTIVAL returns for the third time on Saturday, June 1st, 2013 with some of the coolest names in Doom, Stoner Rock and Metal. The event provides a full day of immersion into some of the greatest music of the genres, drawing people from around the world to Las Vegas to get down and get rockin’. Prepare for another wicked dose of the heaviest of the heavy.

Remaining true to the original format, Doom In June III kicks off the summer on the first weekend in June. Thirteen bands are confirmed – including many established acts — as well as providing an opportunity for guests to catch some of the brightest young talents. The venue offers a carefree, good time environment which is why bands and guests alike look forward to returning to The Cheyenne Saloon (3103 N. Rancho Blvd.).

Performances include THE SKULL featuring former TROUBLE vocalist Eric Wagner and bass player Ron Holzner offering the best of Trouble; legendary ‘80s cult favorites MANILLA ROAD; instrumental power trio KARMA TO BURN, ANCESTORS, New Mexico’s LAS CRUCES, CASTLE, SNAIL; Monster Magnet guitarist’s Ed Mundell’s new band ULTRA ELECTRIC MEGA GALACTIC; Las Vegas’ female-fronted doom four-piece DEMON LUNG — who will celebrate the event as a record release show for their highly anticipated debut album on Candlelight Records; a couple San Diego area bands DALI’S LLAMA and ALBATROSS OVERDRIVE and two promising locals opening the day – MEGATON and SPIRITUAL SHEPHERD.

Doors are at 1:00 pm and event features thirteen bands performing for twelve hours on one stage. Tickets now on sale at www.brownpapertickets.com for only $16 advance. Rooms are available at The Fiesta Rancho Hotel/Casino which is located very close to the Cheyenne Saloon and offers affordable accommodations.

For more information email salemrosemusic@aol.com or visit Doom In June III on Facebook at www.facebook.com/doominjune. Event sponsors include Fly PR, Heavy Planet, Planet Fuzz, Doom Metal Alliance, All That Is Heavy Shop and Hellride Music.

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Snail Guitarist Eric Clausen Launches New Side-Project Division Process

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Currently in the recording studio with bandmate Matt Lynch, Snail guitarist Eric Clausen has announced a new project featuring Collyn McCoy of The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and London-based drummer Darby Todd of The Darkness. L.A.’s a weird town, man. But the band sounds cool and Lynch‘s studio, Mysterious Mammal, can be relied on for a full, thick sound, so I’ll be interested to hear how Division Process‘ debut, The Jesus Horses, turns out when the time comes.

Lynch sent the announcement down the PR wire:

Members of Snail Embark On New Project — DIVISION PROCESS

Eric Clausen, lead guitar player for Snail, has entered the studio with Snail bass player and producer Matt Lynch to begin recording his solo project the Division Process. The album, entitled The Jesus Horses, is being recorded at Lynch’s Mysterious Mammal studio in Los Angeles and features some heavy players, notably Darby Todd (The Darkness, Hot Leg) on drums and Collyn McCoy (Otep, Trash Titan, The Ultra Electric Mega Gallactic) on bass.

Division Process is the sole vision and songwriting of Clausen, who plays all guitars and performs all vocals. The Jesus Horses will fuse many styles of heavy music and rock — slow and heavy with melancholy and beauty, sludge and butt rock with experience and searching. Heavy down-tuned instrumental beds with gritty, melodic metal vocals and intensely personal lyric imagery. The songs sound like they emerge from a heavy haze of nicotine and crank.

Some band signposts for reference: Snail, early Metallica, DIO, Motorhead, Tool, Kiss, Alice in Chains, Melvins, Nirvana.

The current track list:

The Acts Of The Apostles
Annex Mecitrocity
Night Of The Sleestak
Pills For Breakfast
Paper Covers Stone
Something With Protien
The Daze Of Lines And Doses
The Jesus Horses (Dear Mother Interlude)
Dope Hope mp3
Stone (BHT)
The Sweet Goodbye

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Snail Post Official Video for “Ritual”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “But wait a second… Didn’t Snail already make a video for the song ‘Ritual’ from their most excellent 2012 album, Terminus, and didn’t The Obelisk premiere it?” Well, okay, maybe you weren’t thinking in those exact terms, or thinking that at all, but either way the answer is the same: Kinda.

Back before Terminus was released, I put up an interview with guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson and bassist Matt Lynch about the making of the album, and indeed, there was a video premiere along with that Q&A, and indeed, that video was for the song “Ritual.” The difference is that this new clip wasn’t made by the band and it’s an original project by an outsider rather than compiled with found footage by the band themselves. I liked the other video, but you know, I like this one too, and they’re both (mostly) black and white, so there’s even a bit of continuity between them.

Actually, to be perfectly honest, my first thought when I was watching the “Ritual” clip below directed by Maxime Weber was  to wonder if the office park that appears at around the two-minute mark and again later in some of the color section wasn’t the same one that was used for filming Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, but no, it turns out it was all filmed in Luxembourg, and I’m a jerk. Glad I got that one settled.

Enjoy “Ritual,” and if you’ve enjoyed it before, take it as a cue to break out Terminus for another listen. I did:

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Snail, Terminus: The Boundary Stone

Posted in Reviews on May 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Even if the record contained nothing but audio of the members of Snail making and subsequently eating a sandwich (yes, they’d share), the mere fact that Terminus follows just three years behind their 2009 outing, Blood, is something of a miracle in terms of pace. It had been 16 years between the All Channels are Open EP and the band’s self-titled debut were released in the early ‘90s and when Blood came out to wide underground acclaim on MeteorCity, so before one even presses play on Terminus, there’s a more than 500 percent improvement in timing that’s at least worth a nod. As a fan of Blood’s blend of grunge, stoner and psychedelic rock (review here), I’m glad it didn’t take the band another 16 years to follow it up. Snail’s self-released third album, then, is even more intriguing a prospect because it’s all new. Where Blood was crafted at least in part from demos left over from the band’s original run – to be clear: they’d broken up, it didn’t just take them 16 years to put out their second record – Terminus is 46 minutes of material riffed out since the last album was put to tape, and for that alone, perhaps even more than its predecessor, Terminus marks a new beginning for the band. That’s somewhat ironic given the album’s title, but more importantly, the 10 tracks are a reasonable extension of the ideas that Snail presented last time. Recorded by bassist/backing vocalist Matt Lynch at his Mysterious Mammal Studios in Los Angeles and by vocalist/guitarist Mark Johnson at his home in Seattle, Washington, Terminus has a deceptive smoothness that matches well the songwriting and semi-psych feel of some of the tracks, pointing to a more natural sound than the process that actually birthed it might generally convey. Credit for that has to go to Lynch, who also mixed, mastered and wrote a couple tracks, but the songcraft of Johnson and fellow guitarist Eric Clausen has a major role as well. Snail are straightforward without being dull, psychedelic without being indulgent and – here – metal without being metal.

In the recently-posted interview, Johnson cites early ‘80s metal as a driving influence behind his riffing on Terminus, and perhaps slowed down and backed by Lynch’s formidable bass and drummer Marty Dodson’s stomping groove, one can hear shades of Ozzy Osbourne’s first couple records in the creepy beginning of opener “Recursion.” More importantly than pinpointing derivations, Snail’s capacity for songwriting has taken a considerable leap since Blood, and where those songs were catchy and well-composed, Terminus has a more conscious feel structurally. The album is split into sides A and B, and between “Recursion” and “Galaxies’ Lament,” it wastes no time in displaying foundational choruses that carry through the entirety of the first half. Whatever sonic elements they might draw from metal’s golden age, Snail are still transposing them onto heavy riff rock, and that comes through both in Johnson’s work and in the Clausen-penned “Matchbook,” which has a kind of nursery rhyme rhythm in its verse that opens to an equally driving chorus. The contributions of Clausen and Lynch to the songwriting (I’d credit Dodson creatively as well across the board, since I don’t think anyone was coming up with his drum parts for him) provide diversity alongside Johnson’s tracks, but one of the strongest factors maintained between Blood and its follow-up is the overall flow from one song to the next. Terminus doesn’t veer from its forward momentum until it wants to, Johnson’s “Hippy Crack” building from a quiet bridge to an apex over which the six-stringer can’t help but alternate between screams and growls – the only such abrasive vocals to appear on the album – before Lynch’s “Burn the Flesh” comes on to revel in its dirty rock groove to end side A of the album. Topped with just a touch of countrified twang and an underlying ring-out that only makes it seem larger, the central riff of “Burn the Flesh” is one of the album’s most nod-inducing, but the song is even more effective as it quiets down for the verse, Johnson’s vocals cooing over Lynch’s fuzz bass before righteous guitar leads transition between the verses.

Read more »

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Snail Interview with Mark Johnson and Matt Lynch: Death Denied at the Hands of Ritual (Plus Video Premiere!)

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on March 23rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Three years after marking their return with 2009′s Blood (review here), their first outing since their 1993 self-titled debut, Snail return May 1 with Terminus, an album as severely heavy as the name might imply. It’s a logical extension of the tones found on Blood, but as guitarist, vocalist and principle songwriter Mark Johnson explains in the interview that follows, it’s also a departure in its base of influence, taking cues from early-’80s metal instead of mid-’90s stoner rock.

Snail aren’t covering Venom or anything like that (yet), but Johnson makes a sound point when he argues for early thrash and bands like Voivod‘s position as the proto-stoner metal. Terminus grooves as heavily as the album that preceded it, but driven by both these musical ideas and by personal tribulations, especially the earlier songs are more directly crushing, and — in part because of the geographically-spread recording process overseen by bassist Matt Lynch at Mysterious Mammal Studios — more exacting than was Blood or certainly Snail before that.

And while they say that they’re going to look to do the opposite next time out and record live rather than send parts in individually, the recording process for Terminus serves the material well. Songs like “Galaxy’s Lament” and the ultra-grooving “Burn the Flesh” benefit from the crisp execution, as do later, more psychedelic excursions like “Circles” and “Try to Make It,” and thanks in large part to Lynch‘s careful mix, the album doesn’t come out sounding unnatural or cold. As the lines between genres continue to blur, Snail stand ready to add to the eternal debate about what is or isn’t “metal” by its nature.

Whatever your position on that, you might find fodder for consideration in Snail‘s brand new video for the song “Ritual” from Terminus, which you can see immediately following the jump to the interview itself — I left it up top because it’s a premiere, rather than stick it at the bottom — as it seems to filter its stonerly ways through a denim and leather, smoking-on-the-loading-dock early metal sensibility. In the discussion that follows the clip, Johnson and Lynch talk about the process of making Terminus after doing Blood, the themes behind the song and the video, and much, much more.

The band is completed by drummer Marty Dodson and guitarist Eric Clausen. “Ritual” video premiere and full Q&A are after the jump. Please enjoy.

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What to Look Forward to in 2012, Pt. 1: The Sure Bets

Posted in Features on January 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’m a sucker for consistency, so I’m going to keep this to the same kind of format as last year’s 2011 preview — real low key, real stuff I’m actually looking forward to being released. It’s not about what band is the biggest, or who has the most hype, but about who’s kicking what ass and how much it’s happening. Pretty simple parameters we’re working with here.

If you don’t recall last year and didn’t already click that link in the paragraph above out of curiosity, here’s how it works: I take five records I”ve heard and five I haven’t, and over the course of two days, we get a list of 10 albums reportedly to come in 2012 (these things don’t always work out, as we’ll get into more tomorrow with Colour Haze) that hopefully most people can agree with or at least be only mildly outraged at.

Today, it’s the sure bets. These are records that’ll see release early this year that I’ve already heard and can vouch for. I haven’t reviewed all of them yet, but I will, so consider this a precursor to that if you want. They’re not in any order but that in which they occurred to me to write down. In any case, here goes:

Snail, Terminus: Their 2009 reunion album, Blood, has stood the test of the going-on-three years since its release on MeteorCity, and the four-piece are set to follow it up this year with Terminus, an album that hopefully doesn’t live up to its name in being their last. The songwriting, which made for ultra-memorable tracks on Blood, is just as epic here, and each cut seems to have a personality of its own while still flowing together as a whole. What you really need to know about it — it’s heavy as hell. I wouldn’t be surprised to see myself typing about it again come list time this December.

Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Damned: Another foreboding album title, this seventh full-length from the London doomers (review here) finds them embracing the anthemic on “The Filthy and the Few” and going full-on spooky for “The Fog.” It’s a mature album, and maybe a little too clean in terms of production, but these guys never fail to deliver, and A Eulogy for the Damned can only add to the increase in profile the last couple years has seen for Orange Goblin. When it comes down to it, they’re one of the best live acts in doom, so they can’t lose in bringing this material to the stage.

Dwellers, Good Morning Harakiri: Iota, the prior outfit of Dwellers guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano, found a small but loyal cult when they released Tales on Small Stone in 2008. I’d expect no different for Dwellers, which teams Toscano with the rhythm section of SubRosa‘s last album, bassist Dave Jones and drummer Zach Hatsis. The album balances bluesy riffs and spacey ambience with terrifying ease, saving expansive jamming for its two side-closers while bolstering a classic songwriting feel elsewhere. A great mix and a welcome return from Toscano. Full review here.

Corrosion of Conformity, Corrosion of Conformity: I’ve got this slated to be reviewed tomorrow, and next week I’ll have my Q&A with bassist/vocalist Mike Dean posted, so between that, the live review Monday, and the announcement of their headlining tour, it’s an awful lot of C.O.C. around here lately. Can’t say they didn’t earn it. Their upcoming self-titled seems to distill about 30 years of growth into 11 high-quality tracks that not only recall the trio’s Animosity-era glory days, but push them further into places they’ve never gone before. It’s a fascinating and surprising album on a lot of levels, and I think once people have a chance to hear it, they’re going to really embrace what the band is doing.

Black Pyramid, II: A song from this went up just yesterday, so I admit, it’s on my mind lately, but the second LP from Massachusetts trio Black Pyramid is one of early 2012′s highlights for sure. If you don’t believe me, you can get it yourself ahead of its release date from MeteorCity at All That is Heavy, and when you do, I think you’ll find that it’s the melodies making the songs as epic as the riffs and the tales of battles and conquests. As the final statement from this incarnation of the band, it’s also the strongest work they’ve done yet.

There’s more, obviously. No matter how much you do, there’s always more. Records from The Devil’s Blood (which had its Euro release last year but will be out in North America this month), Infernal Overdrive (review here) and Sun Gods in Exile come to mind as being particularly killer, and in the “heard some already” category, the field expands to include the likes of Blood of the Sun, Pagan Altar, Stubb, Crippled Black Phoenix and others as well, so it already looks like it’s going to be a busy year.

The real challenge though is going to be narrowing tomorrow’s speculation picks down to just five. Not sure I’m going to be able to do it, but I’ll try my best.

Stick around — more tomorrow!

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Snail Post First Single From Terminus

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 21st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s not long, but heavy riffing four-piece Snail does a lot of work in the 2:42 that comprises “Galaxies’ Lament.” The track is the first audio the band has released from their new album, Terminus, which follows two years after the excellent Blood, released by MeteorCity. Terminus is pretty high on my list of most-anticipated 2012 releases (still under construction), and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

But Snail have an innate and well-honed ability to write memorable songs, and that comes through on “Galaxies’ Lament.” Make it through the song a couple times and you’ll find yourself returning to it more and more. In that way, it’s a perfect lead-in for Terminus, since that’s pretty much the case the band across the board. Of course I’ll have more on the record as the release plans firm up. As of now, the latest is: 2012.

Until next year rolls around, then, enjoy “Galaxies’ Lament,” and thanks to Snail for continuing to kick ass:

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Where to Start: MeteorCity

Posted in Where to Start on July 8th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Founded in the sun-bleached desert lands of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1998 by Jadd Shickler (also of the band Spiritu) and Aaron Emmel, the imprint MeteorCity had its humble beginnings supporting a genre of underground rock that, to date, finds kinship among relatively few listeners. The two were new to underground rock. I recall interviewing Shickler years back and he told me that people would ask him if his online store, All That’s Heavy, would be stocking the new Orange Goblin album, and he said, “Yeah, of course!” and promptly set about to discover who the band was. 1998 was, if nothing else, a long time ago.

Along the way, though, MeteorCity became inextricably linked with All That’s Heavy and eventually with the much-missed StonerRock.com, becoming one of the most important heavy rock imprints of the post-Man’s Ruin era. Starting with the first Welcome to MeteorCity compilation in 1998, Shickler and Emmel helped establish what stoner rock became in the wake of Kyuss‘ demise, and albums released from Nebula, Solace, The Atomic Bitchwax, Blind Dog and Eternal Elysium provided a model for bands and other labels alike.

In 2007, Shickler and Emmel said goodbye to the label they started and the scene they helped found, selling the site to Dan and Melanie Beland, who had previously taken over All That is Heavy (now with the full “is”) in addition to hosting StonerRock.com. Their farewell came in the form of another comp, this time the three-disc …And Back to Earth Again — for which I was fortunate enough to have contributed to the liner notes, and which was less an inflation of an ego and a “look what we did, how important we are” than a “I can’t believe how lucky we were to put out so much good music.”

Shickler and Emmel, who were admittedly burned out on the genre, went on to other work, and Dan and Melanie embarked on a string of incredibly strong releases, effectively revitalizing MeteorCity and declaring in no uncertain terms that a new generation of the heavy underground was rising to the fore. Full-lengths by Black Pyramid, ElderSnail and Freedom Hawk (among others) demonstrated that not only was there life in the style, but that the label had its ear to the ground when it came to finding bands and choosing which acts to highlight.

Adopting the ethic of taking on acts with strong self-releases and bringing them under the MeteorCity fold, the imprint released CDs from SardoniS, Egypt, Valkyrie and Dead Man (again, among others), and though StonerRock.com met its demise at the end of last year, the enterprises of MeteorCity and All That is Heavy have continued on into 2011, with the label re-releasing the self-titled debut from Boston duo Olde Growth, the second album from New Keepers of the Water Towers, and most recently, a compilation of vinyl-only and previously-unreleased tracks from Black Pyramid called Stormbringer, with more expected before 2011 is through.

The inevitable question, then, is where to start. If you’re new to the label or maybe have a couple of the discs you picked up along the line, which in their catalog are the most essential releases? Well, here are my picks…

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Snail to Begin Recording New Album This Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 11th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Snail‘s 2009 reunion album, Blood, was among the best of that year’s surprises, and out of all the killer albums released that year, it’s one of the few that still keeps me coming back for more listens. In fact, today being sunny, warm and generally gorgeous, I think I’ll put it on now.

Good news came on the band update forum that the four-piece are set to hit the studio this week and record the follow-up to Blood, tentatively-titled Terminus. More to come on this one, but since the announcement made my Friday night (as you can see in the link), I thought it was worth sharing here in case anyone hadn’t seen it yet. Dig:

Snail will begin recording drum tracks at Mysterious Mammal Recording, Los Angeles for our third full-length beginning April 13. We will be recording all month and expect a release sometime mid-summer. The working title for the record is Terminus. The tone of this one is a bit more old-school metal, but the fuzz will be in full effect as well.

Here is the current track list:

Recursion
Galaxies Lament
Matchbook
Fast Woman
Hippy Crack
Try To Make It
Perilous Dandelion
Love Theme from Snail
Terminus
Ritual
Heavy Trait
Burn the Flesh

We’ll keep everyone posted via Facebook and this site. We’re very excited to get these new tunes out there. Thanks for all the support you’ve given us!

Mark, Matt, Eric, Marty

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Frydee Snail

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 3rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

I thought we’d end this week with something from MeteorCity in honor of the fallen StonerRock.com. I chose “Underwater” by Snail, because it rules and because it’s a little sad.

I put some feelers out about it and I’ve got a buddy coming over tomorrow to see if we can feasibly add community forums to The Obelisk and make it viable and reasonable to maintain. I’m not saying it’s going to launch tomorrow with a General Discussion board just like StonerRock.com used to have — because let’s not forget SR took 10 years to get where it was — but let’s start with that and see where it takes us. That’s kind of been my policy all along with this site. Please check in, because I’ll have updates over the weekend.

New podcast coming this weekend as well. That’s Sunday, I hope. So if you don’t normally check The Obelisk because there aren’t posts Saturdays and Sundays, this weekend is an exception. Plenty to do, lot of strands in the ol’ duder’s head.

In addition, I’ll be at Crowbar tomorrow night in Trenton and Black Thai on Sunday in Brooklyn. Tonight I’ll be doing homework for class Monday. Maybe having a drink or two to toast Dan and Melanie from StonerRock as well.

More soon.

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Buried Treasure: “Only A-Holes Buy from Huge Corporate Distro Sites” Edition

Posted in Buried Treasure on June 7th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

…I was going to call it the “Gleaming the Tubes” Edition, but figured no one would get the reference and it would sound more like I was the hippest plumber ever than just buying albums online. Don’t want to overdo it, you know.

I recently got a check for $90 for a column I write in New Jersey‘s longest-running alt weekly, The Aquarian. I get one every month for roughly the same amount, and true to form, I lost this one almost immediately. I’ve begged for a direct deposit and been roundly (and squarely) rejected. This — namely the fact that I didn’t actually have the money anymore — wasn’t going to stop me from spending it. I hit up Amazon and here’s a quick rundown of the subsequent wish list haul, the last of which just arrived in the mail today:

The Obsessed, The Church Within: I have no excuse for not already owning this album and I feel no small amount of shame for having only purchased it now. It was an oversight on my part and it’s been corrected. I’d prefer to just move on.

Church of Misery, The Second Coming: This one I have an excuse for not already owning. Two actually. First, it’s hard as fuck to find. Second, when you do find it, it’s similarly (and apparently copulatingly) expensive. Worth every penny for the frenetic, blasted-out doom that ensues though.

Dutch Oven, Electric Last Minute: I’m not even sure why I originally wanted this, but it was on my wish list for years and at this point it was a battle of will to see how long I could wait out buying it. It’s meh, but I know a long time ago when I put it on the list I must have wanted it very badly, so future me (which is now me) was basically just trusting past me’s instincts on this one. Turns out that guy’s kind of a jerk.

Trouble, Run to the Light: It’s the 1994 reissue of the 1987 album, but it’s also the last Trouble full-length I didn’t own, and I’m pretty sure I get a cookie for completing the catalog, so if you weigh it in terms of cookie/dollar value, Run to the Light just paid for itself. Suck a fat one, economy!

Pappo’s Blues, Volume 1: Early ’70s Argentinian psychedelic bluesy biker rock? Are you fucking kidding me? More please.

Color Humano, Color Humano: More Argentinian ’70s goodness. My only complaint with this is that it came in a sleeve, which is bullshit. I guess “limited edition import” means, “I’m a dick and I’m going to mail you my promo of this Sony reissue ha ha ha fuck you fuck you.” Always something lost in translation.

Beaver, Lodge: Because apparently every single time I order CDs from anywhere, ever, it has to include at least one item released on Man’s Ruin. This is cool though because it’s the promo, and because it’s not in a sleeve, I’m okay with that.

Snail, Snail: I know they just reissued it and it’s available for download through the band’s website, but I wanted the original deal and it was like four bucks, so I grabbed it and I’m not looking back. If you’ve never heard it and you’re not a complete asshole like me, buy it from the band and give them some small measure of support, since they’re good people.

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