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 TerminusCD (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!
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.
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, Somashould 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 Earthalready 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 Agesmight 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 Patroland 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 Cabroneswill 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 ofthe 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.
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 Feralwhen 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
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 atwww.brownpapertickets.comfor 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Doom In June III on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/doominjune. Event sponsors include Fly PR, Heavy Planet, Planet Fuzz, Doom Metal Alliance, All That Is Heavy Shop and Hellride Music.
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
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 Terminusfor another listen. I did:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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, Elder, Snail 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…
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:
Try To Make It
Love Theme from Snail
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!
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.
…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.
Posted in Reviews on April 8th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was my absolute last night in town, and there’s no place I’d have rather been than Kimo’s Lounge to see Snail. The coincidence of being there while their tour, bound next for San Diego, then Los Angeles, stopped in was too much. I’ve been going back more and more lately to their album, Blood, for repeat listens, and it’s beginning to seem that, as good as I thought the record was when I first heard it last year, that was really just scratching the surface of character in these songs. So what do you do? You go to the show.
My flight was at seven the next morning, and that was definitely in the back of my mind the whole time at Kimo’s, but it’s astounding to me how universal a doom/stoner scene can be. Sure, the venue was above the regular bar area instead of in the basement, but man, the red walls, red floor, black ceiling, layout and overall vibe reminded me so much of The Delancey in NYC it was uncanny. Same type of crowd too, basically. Unreal.
The difference is, of course, New York rarely has shows like this anymore, even on a Tuesday. It was the kind that, four years ago, I would have gone to with a couple buddies, gotten loaded and probably still talk about today. As it was, I stayed mostly sober, owing to the impending travel, and won’t really be able to talk to anyone about the show (present company excluded), since although The Patient Mrs. was there for the opening act, she didn’t stick around long enough to catch the highlight of the evening.
So it goes. Said opening act was Razorhoof, an everyman doom trio from Monterey who, like me, had to be up early the next day. Their stuff wasn’t groundbreaking by any stretch, but it was earnest, and loud, and those two make up for a lot of the other. Both bassist Nic and guitarist Rick handled vocals, which gave the set a little variety, and when it was done, I bought a CD (in a nifty handmade package) from drummer James, who seemed appreciative. Review to come, I’m sure.
I think Snail surprised a lot of people with Blood last year. I’m not going to claim I was into the band when they were originally together in the early ’90s, but I have at this point heard the material from back then, and even in the context of that, the record was an unexpected sonic turn. Likewise, their show had a surprising amount of power behind it. Guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson‘s Laney sounded huge in the room, and even better than guitarist Eric Clausen‘s Peavey was at cutting through that thickness of tone for leads was his voice at harmonizing with Johnson throughout songs like “Underwater,” “Mental Models,” “Blood,” and older cuts like “Deep Sea Fishing” and “Confessions.”
Talking tech has never been my forte and I’m not about to start now, but a special point of interest was bassist Matt Lynch‘s Fender 400 PS amp, which gave off some of the warmest low end I’ve ever heard without sacrificing any real punch. Through the heavier/faster moments of “Committed” and “Sleep,” it was a joy to hear Lynch and drummer Marty Dodson be so much in the pocket. It was also a joy to hear these songs I’ve grown to dig so much in a live setting, which I genuinely didn’t think I’d ever do, and to sing along to them in person the way I’ve been doing in my car — loudly and out of key. Good times for sure.
Flood, also on MeteorCity, headlined, but with The Patient Mrs. waiting in the rental car, I couldn’t really stay. I caught about a song and a half, and their modern, Sunn-amped doom seemed right in line with the newer school — and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing — but it was clear I wasn’t about to dig it more than Snail, and it was even clearer that if I didn’t get some sleep before my flight, I wasn’t going to make it back to Jersey, so I split. I don’t get out to the West Coast often (last time was ’08 and this trip really was a crime of opportunity), but maybe next time. You never really know how these things will come together until you’re there.