Steve Von Till, If I Should Fall to the Field (2002)
As we eagerly anticipate the arrival of Neurosis‘ new album, Fires Within Fires, later this month, it seems worthwhile to go back 14 years and revisit one of the best and most underrated Neurot releases. Steve Von Till‘s If I Should Fall to the Field was his second solo outing behind 2000’s As the Crow Flies, and found the Neurosis guitarist/vocalist boldly and honestly exploring textures within and without of what might commonly be thought of — particularly at the time — as his main outfit’s reach. With its roots in neofolk, dark country and experimental singer-songwriterism, If I Should Fall to the Field‘s tracks retained a sense of depth in no small part thanks to Von Till‘s gravely vocals and the varied, sometimes sparse arrangements that surrounded them. A song like “To the Field” definitely showed some of the sway one finds in Neurosis in its second half, but from the quiet “Breathe” onward, Von Till is by no means beholden to those ideas, and when the album does feature drums or electric guitars, it’s more of an accent role, as on the Germanic-themed “The Wild Hunt,” a cornerstone example of the intensity Von Till is able to bring to bear even in this relatively subdued context. From the minimalist take on the traditional “My Work is Done” to the brighter flourish in the guitar of “Hallowed Ground” — met head-on by a particularly grim chorus — and down through “Dawn” and the cover of Neil Young‘s “Am I Born to Die,” there isn’t a letup in mood, and so while not at all abrasive, If I Should Fall to the Field should still rightly be considered a challenging listen, but what Von Till channels in these songs is something really special, and I can’t think of another way to put it beyond that.
The year before, Neurosis had released A Sun that Never Sets, which while less a defining moment for the band itself after pivotal stylistic accomplishments in 1996’s Through Silver in Blood and 1999’s Times of Grace, was nonetheless a solidification of their processes and became the record that launched a thousand post-metal ships. Scott Kelly, also guitar/vocals for Neurosis, put out his solo debut, Spirit Bound Flesh, also in 2001, so this was a particularly vibrant creative period for the band, and it would lead to Neurosis‘ 2003 collaboration with former Swans vocalist Jarboe and their 2004 album, The Eye of Every Storm, which to my ears remains one of its kind within their catalog for its patience and atmospheric breadth. Their subsequent offerings, 2007’s Given to the Rising and 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here), would continue to expand outward even as they reignited a more furious churn. Likewise, Von Till‘s solo follow-ups, 2008’s A Grave is a Grim Horse and last year’s A Life unto Itself (review here), as well as his work with the dark, space-infused Harvestman project, seemed to build on a foundation that If I Should Fall to the Field dug by hand.
I don’t mind telling you this record and I have been through some shit together. It has yet to let me down on any level, and it is a work to which I continue to feel a strong emotional connection — to the point that I’ll rarely put it on these days for the vivid and sometimes exhausting feelings it stirs. Nonetheless, I’m happy to have put it on today as I continue to prepare the ground (and by “the ground” I mean “my skull”) for the arrival of Fires Within Fires on Sept. 23, and of course I hope you enjoy as well.
Heck of a week, Brownie. I told off two out of the three medical professionals I saw this week, ho-hummed my way through some of the slowest-moving work days since I took my new job and committed myself to driving to New Jersey this weekend to see family, which, since there’s the extra day with the Labor Day holiday, should actually be something of a pleasure to do in not-rushed fashion. Doesn’t make the traffic less draining, but at least I don’t have to hurry to get back in it and head north to go to work on Monday.
I’ve also got posts slated through Tuesday already, so look out for stuff like an Asteroid interview, an Akris video premiere, a review of the new Yawning Man, a new Kadavar video, a stream of the full Thermic Boogie record, which is being reissued, and a stream and review for the Hifiklub vs. Fatso Jetson & Gary Arce collaboration who had a video premiere earlier today. Kind of a quick follow-up on that, but whatever. It’s gonna be awesome.
Also, really starting to wonder if anything’s going to beat the SubRosa for album of the year. We’ve got a few good months ahead — Sept. 30 is the craziest release day I can remember — but yeah, that record is fucking fantastic. If I can find time this week, I’ll post their set from Psycho Las Vegas as well. I feel like it’s the kind of thing that should be shown in schools.
Today kind of wound up being a day where I never even checked in mentally to check out. Exhausted, mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. Just exhausted. Got home from work a bit ago and though I was going to head south immediately, I decided I didn’t have it in me. I’ll be curled up on the couch watching tv for the rest of the day/night. Cook something stupid for dinner. Don’t even care.
I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Back here next week for much more, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.
We were done with the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch folding ritual early this afternoon. Third time’s the charm. The issue was finished and printed and put online (you can read it here) by a little bit before one o’clock, so I decided to head back to the hotel to have a drink of water, get my head around the day, dick around on my phone, etc.
En route, something caught my ear wafting out of the Cul de Sac. It was Rotterdam natives Dool soundchecking, and from outside, they sounded pretty damn good. Their name had come up in the office since they’re this year’s “Roadburn Introduces” pick, and I decided pretty quickly that I’d have to check them out even just going by what I heard on my way by, so I got back in time to get a spot up front and attended their arrival. They’ve got members of The Devil’s Blood in bassist Job van de Zande and drummer Micha Haring and Gold‘s Nick Polak on guitar along with Reinier Vermeulen, and guitarist/vocalist Ryanne van Dorst, and maybe since they’re not brand new players out of the gate it shouldn’t be a surprise they were in such command of their sound, but for a band who doesn’t have more than a single out, they were impressive in their presence on stage and in the cohesion of their aesthetic, copping elements of goth rock to darken up heavy grooves for an early crowd.
When they got to “Words on Paper,” van Dorst switched out her electric guitar for an acoustic one, and the effect of the added resonance to Polak‘s and Vermeulen‘s guitars was palpable. Every Roadburn brings a pleasant surprise. Dool were definitely mine this year. This morning, I knew nothing about them. Now I’ll be keeping an eye out for news about their debut album. They’d wrap up in time for Skepticism to start on the Main Stage. The Finnish funeral doomers hit the quarter-century mark in 2016, and they marked the occasion with a special fan-selected set that focused heavily on their 1995 debut LP, Stormcrowfleet, with “Sign of a Storm,” “By Silent Wings” and “The Everdarkgreen,” as well as their 2003 third outing, Farmakon, with “Farmakon Process,” “The Raven and the Backward Funeral” and “Shred of Light, Pinch of Endless.” They had “The March and the Stream” from 1998’s Lead and Aether in there as well, but whatever they were playing, it all crawled, gruelingly, further into a deep, black abyss of church-organ-laced doom, heavy on drama and impassable in tone.
Frontman Matti Tilaeus added to the drama, the bowtie of his formalwear undone — as apparently it will be — and the white roses he carried out with him when he came on stage laid on the tops of the monitors for extra funereal effect. They played mostly in the dark, and were a reminder of just how much what we think of today as death-doom owes its crux to what Finland conjured in the mid-’90s. It was a surprise to walk out of the Main Stage room when they were done and find the sun was still up. How could daylight still even exist after such a thing? I’d ponder the question during an initial loop through the merch area while waiting as I have been for months, years, to see Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, also playing the Main Stage. The Tad Doyle-fronted outfit released their also-awaited self-titled debut (review here) on Neurot Recordings, and though they toured to support it — with Neurosis, no less — I didn’t get to go to that show and my soul has had a dent in it ever since.
Well, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s sheer tectonic heaviness took that dent, bumped it out and polished it up real nice. And by that I mean that, while the video screen behind them showed suitably-themed images like the earth as a ball of fire, volcanoes, arcane rituals and so on, they played so furiously loud and with such heft of low end that the floor of the big room actually shook. They had a second guitarist on stage right with bassist Peggy Doyle, and drummer Dave French was in the back, but as a whole unit, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth came together to hone pure aural destruction for the duration of their set, Tad‘s seething rasp and screams placing him at the center of the churn, not nearly as morose as Skepticism had been, but viscerally angry and geared for maximum impact. When the asteroid hits planet earth in whatever year that is — could be tomorrow for all I care; I’m at fucking Roadburn — it will sound like Brothers of the Sonic Cloth. I own two of their t-shirts. When they were done I felt like maybe that’s not enough.
Aside from the fact that Astrosoniq drummer/producer Marcel van de Vondervoort is deeply involved with recording and mixing the audio streams of each Roadburn that so often become groups’ live albums, and aside from the fact that after I first dug into their last studio LP, 2010’s Quadrant (review here), I decided I needed to hear every record they’d ever put out — 2006’s Speeder People (review here), 2005’s Made in Oss EP (review here), 2002’s Soundgrenade (review here) and 2000’s Son of A.P. Lady (review here) — I have been waiting years to see Astrosoniq play Roadburn, and their set was made all the more special by the fact that fest organizer Walter was doing live visuals as he did for The Heads last year. The band hasn’t had much if any live activity over the last few years. It’s now been seven since Quadrant was first issued in Europe. I knew it was going to be something special. I knew I was lucky to see them. I don’t think I knew just how much that would be the case.
On record, they hop genres with attention-deficit regularity, but in the Green Room, the band were much more fluid. They jammed out with the best of anything I’ve seen at Roadburn 2016, and I’ve seen a few jams. Guitarist Ron van Herpen had guested the other night with Death Alley, but really stood out during “As Soon as They Got Airborne,” an extended take that was only part of the larger highlight that was the set as a whole. “You Lose” from Son of A.P. Lady was another standout, that album having just received a limited vinyl reissue that’s caught my eye in the merch area downstairs at the Patronaat. May or may not get to pick its deluxeness up to take home, but Astrosoniq made an easy case with what I’ll hope is a return to activity that results — eventually; doesn’t have to be this week; next week is fine — in a new full-length. Their native Oss is about 35 minutes from Tilburg by car, just on the other side of den Bosch, and they got the hometown greeting from a strong Dutch contingent represented in the crowd. I knew they would be a hard act to follow.
I watched a bit of Tau Cross — with Away from Voivod on drums and Rob Miller from Amebix on vocals — on the Main Stage before heading over to Het Patronaat to catch the start of Beastmaker, as Lee Dorrian‘s curation was continuing over there. I miss-timed it and didn’t actually get to see them apart from their soundcheck, blowing my chance at Carousel in Extase at the same time, and routed back to the 013 proper to watch Converge do their special ‘Blood Moon’ set comprised of their slower and more experimental material. After their Jane Doe set the other night, which I caught the tail end of, the vibe was almost completely different. Yeah, Jacob Bannon still writhed and paced back and forth and whatnot, but there were more clean vocals — giving Stephen Brodsky (Cave In) another chance to shine, which he did — and they brought out Steve Von Till of Neurosis and Chelsea Wolfe to add their voices to the mix, and Ben Chisholm fleshed out textures on keys, resulting in a rich sound that pushed away from hard/metalcore in favor of something less stylistically hinged. Even for being selections from past records, ‘Blood Moon’ set its own context, and even in the parts that didn’t feature Von Till, one could hear a strong sense of influence from Neurosis in what they were doing.
At that point, I decided to do something I hadn’t done since I got to Tilburg: I stopped and had a meal. I left Massachusetts on Tuesday evening. Today was Saturday. Since then, I hadn’t had time to actually sit down to a dinner, lunch, breakfast, anything. I bumped into Weirdo Canyon Dispatch photog extraordinaire Paul Verhagen and we grabbed a bite, with Exile on Mainstream‘s Andreas Kohl joining later, before Amenra went on the Main Stage. I had mixed veggies — broccoli, brussels sprouts, string beans, some other green thing chopped up — a boneless chicken thigh, a spicy chicken wing and a considerable amount of green salad, dry. It might as well have been birthday cake.
Amenra are something of a fixture around Roadburn. The Belgian atmospheric sludgers played in 2007, they played when Neurosis curated in 2009, they played in 2013 and they’ll play again at the Afterburner. That’s nothing to complain about, I’m just noting it because perhaps it was part of what drove them to do something different this time around, performing mostly acoustic with seven players seated arranged in a circle on the stage to stark lighting and deeply melancholic reinterpretations of their songs. Of course, they also have a new LP out, Alive, on Consouling Sounds working in similar forms — it features a faithful cover of Tool‘s “Parabol,” which they also played — but even in this different incarnation, it was plain to hear the impact of Neurosis on their methods and of Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till‘s solo works on their dark-folk and minimalist (if you can call something with seven people on stage minimalist) brooding.
Vocalist Colin H. van Eeckhout said from the stage they were nervous and doing their best, possibly after someone shouted “Slayer!” in the crowd. If they were uncomfortable, it was hard to tell from the harmonies. When they were done, they left one at a time until only a single guitarist remained, his back to the crowd. Then he got up and walked away and the part he was playing kept going. It was a loop, obviously — that’s not exactly a magic trick at this point — but it made for a striking visual all the same and said something about the resonance of their material, being brought down on a slow fade as the crowd erupted again. There would be a 40-minute break before Neurosis came on, which, to be completely honest, felt like an eternity.
From Brothers of the Sonic Cloth onward, everything on the Main Stage at Roadburn 2016 today was building toward the Neurosis 30th anniversary set. From Tad Doyle‘s grunge roots to Tau Cross‘ own in crust and progressive thrash, to Converge and Amenra having both — in very different ways, granted — found inspiration in their work, Neurosis was at the core of what the whole day was about, and the push forward was leading inextricably to their set as the culmination. Not to say it was seven-plus hours of setup and nothing more, just that the clearly purposeful flow of the day was designed with its direction in mind. It was not an accident.
They opened with “Lost” from 1993’s Enemy of the Sun, and among the you-were-never-gonna-see-Neurosis-play-this highlights were “Pain of Mind” and “Self-Taught Infection” from 1988’s Pain of Mind debut, “To What End?” from 1990’s The Word as Law, a cover of Joy Division‘s “Day of the Lords,” and, gloriously, “Takeahnase” from 1992’s Souls at Zero, arguably the point at which they really started to branch beyond their beginnings in crust and hardcore punk and move into the various forms of aggression that they continue to develop now — the easy word for it is post-metal, but it’s post-metal because Neurosis made it that way. With more recent inclusions like “At the Well” from 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) and “Water is Not Enough” from 2007’s Given to the Rising, along with “Times of Grace” from the 1999 album of the same name, “Left to Wander” from 2004’s The Eye of Every Storm, as well as the closing pair of “Through Silver in Blood,” from the 1996 LP of the same name, and “Stones from the Sky” from 2001’s A Sun that Never Sets.
Between all of that and “An Offering” from the Sovereign EP, there was not one record in their discography unrepresented. That made the event even more special — they’ll follow-up with a second installment for the Afterburner tomorrow — but the truth of the matter is that anytime Neurosis shows up, it’s special. I know they’ve done more touring in the last year than in the decade prior, but still, I don’t think there’s a band on the planet that captures the same measure of intensity, of raw passion, of volume-assault-as-spiritual-refuge that Neurosis does, and whether it’s Noah Landis using the entire universe for source material for samples and manipulated transitional drones for between songs, Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly complementing each other on guitar and vocals as one might expect for two guys who’ve been fronting a band together for 30 years, Dave Edwardson‘s continued ferocity on bass or Jason Roeder‘s cyclical drum patterning, everything they do is a lesson in the ethic of putting creativity first. They have a new record coming out at some point. I don’t know what it sounds like or what it’s called, but I feel comfortable in the knowledge that it will step forward from where they were with Honor Found in Decay, because they’re Neurosis, and that means no compromising.
I kind of lost my shit during that especially blistering rendition of “Takeahnase,” and I expect tomorrow and Monday I’ll be good and sore. Who cares? Not me. I’m back at it in the morning for the last issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch and more bands for the Afterburner, which basically is just another day of Roadburn at this point. Fine by me. It’s gone quickly in 2016 — how do you pack a year’s worth of living into four days? — so I’ll take everything I can get.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
What is this, the third, maybe fourth, announcement for the lineup of Roadburn 2016? As of this week we’re still half a year out from the launch of the festival next April in the Netherlands and I’m already starting to get that gosh-I-hope-I-get-to-go ache. Seems early for such things, but here we are, barely ankle-deep into the lineup and it’s only becoming a more and more severe issue. Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly from Neurosis added for solo sets? At the church, no less? That’s not even fair.
Never mind righteous space heavy of Black Moon Circle or the saw-it-coming-from-a-mile-away-but-it’s-still-right-on addition of Ecstatic Vision to the bill, the raw fuckery of Midnight? I feel like Roadburn 2016 could probably call it a day, maybe let Lee Dorrian add another couple of acts to his curated stage, and anyone who went would call the fest a win. As I say, it’s getting severe.
And it’s still just the beginning.
From the PR wire:
New additions to Roadburn 2016 including Scott Kelly, Steve Von Till, Midnight, and Jakob
SCOTT KELLY & STEVE VON TILL to play individual solo shows
Ambient post-rockers, JAKOB will perform
Heavy metal outlaws, MIDNIGHT, make their Roadburn debut
Plus more acts including Kenn Nardi and Ecstatic Vision
SCOTT KELLY & STEVE VON TILL
Neurosis are so much more than a band. At times, they seem to be at the heart of a sentient organism, fully functioning all by itself, with the activities of their members and of the entire Neurot family constituting the remaining organs and limbs of this fascinating creature. None of those activities are more deeply connected and enwrapped around that ever-beating heart than the solo careers of guitarists/vocalists SCOTT KELLY and STEVE VON TILL themselves. Therefore, it is but natural that the Neurosis 30th anniversary celebrations that will take place at Roadburn will also include a typically intimate and profoundly touching solo performance by each of the two musicians.
SCOTT KELLY and STEVE VON TILL will therefore complete the weekend-long Neurosis anniversary experience with both performances taking place at the Het Patronaat on Friday, April 15th. Each of them will be a life unto itself that must not be missed.
To find out more about Scott Kelly & Steve Von Till at Roadburn, clickHERE
JAKOB will travel from far, far away to provide you with a moment of introversion – an hour of a special kind of beauty filtering through the weekend haze – all the way from their beautiful coastal hometown of Napier, New Zealand, but it will surely be as worthy for them as it will for us, when the connection is established between band and audience. JAKOB’s is a sharp beauty, good-natured but with a lingering, riff-ridden menace to it; soothing, but able to stay in your memory for a long time after you experience it. JAKOB will play Roadburn on Sunday April 17th.
The twisted, bastard offspring of a Venom, Motörhead and Sodom threesome of debauchery, complete with a devil-may-care attitude which GG Allin himself would surely have been proud of, Cleveland’s MIDNIGHT might just provide the most reckless amount of fun you can have at a concert without breaking the law, or at least too many of them. Pack your leather jackets, bulletbelts and facemasks, because you’ll surely need them when MIDNIGHT take you to hell (…on the wings of Satan!) on Friday, April 15th, at the 013 venue. Steel won’t be stopped!
To find out more about MIDNIGHT at Roadburn, clickHERE
Former Anacrusis guitarist/vocalist KENN NARDI brings his forward-thinking metal to the stages of Roadburn on Saturday April 16th. Between 1988 and 1993, in an era when thrash was anything but dark or progressive, Anacrusis produced four critically-acclaimed albums that were heralded as cornerstones of dark, angular, progressive thrash. The band dissolved shortly after releasing their fourth and final album, Screams And Whisper and this performance will mark NARDI’s first show in Holland since Anacrusis’ final original-era performance in 1993. A singer/songwriter at heart, but with a background in metal, hardcore/punk and early gothic rock, Nardi is an innovator whose works still resonate to this day. He will be performing a wealth of material from the Anacrusis catalog along with selected solo tracks.
Icelandic ambient post-metallers, KONTINUUM – read moreHERE Philadelphia heavy psych trio, ECSTATIC VISION – read moreHERE Norwegian Psychedelic space rockers, BLACK MOON CIRCLE – read moreHERE
FURTHER TICKETING INFORMATION
Tickets to Roadburn Festival 2016 are now on sale! Ticket sales got off to an incredible start with many of the available weekend tickets being snapped up within the first few days. There are still 3-day, 4-day, and Sunday tickets on sale. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday day tickets will be released at a a later date. It is also possible to book camping tickets via Ticketmaster.
Roadburn Festival takes place at the recently upgraded, state of the art 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands, between 14 – 17 April 2016. The line up this year includes Neurosis (30th anniversary), Paradise Lost (performing Gothic in full), curation by Lee Dorrian, Amenra, The Skull, La Muerte, Of The Wand And The Moon, and Green Carnation.
Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Truth be told, I’ve been looking forward to this Quarterly Review since the last one ended. Not necessarily since it clears the deck on reviews to be done — it doesn’t — but just because I feel like in any given week there’s so much more that I want to get to than I’m usually able to fit into posting that it’s been good to be able to say, “Well I’ll do another Quarterly Review and include it there.” Accordingly, there are some sizable releases here, today and over the next four days as well.
If you’re unfamiliar with the project, the idea is over the course of this week, I’ll be reviewing 50 different releases — full albums, EPs, demos, comps, splits, vinyl, tape, CD, digital, etc. Most of them have come out since the last Quarterly Review, which went up early in July, but some are still slated for Oct. or Nov. issue dates. Best to mix it up. My hope is that within this barrage of info, art and music, you’re able to find something that stands out to you and that you enjoy deeply. I know I’ll find a few by the time we’re done on Friday.
Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #1-10:
Steve Von Till, A Life unto Itself
A new Steve Von Till solo outing isn’t a minor happening in any circumstances, but A Life unto Itself reads more like a life event than an album. As ever, the Neurosis guitarist/vocalist puts a full emotional breadth into his material, and as it’s his first record in seven years since 2008’s A Grave is a Grim Horse, there’s plenty to say. Sometimes minimal, sometimes arranged, sometimes both, the seven tracks feature little of the psychedelic influence Von Till brought to his Harvestman project, but use lap steel, strings, electrics, acoustics, keys and of course his meditative, gravelly voice to convey a broad spectrum nonetheless, and cuts like “Chasing Ghosts,” “In Your Wings” and the centerpiece “Night of the Moon” (which actually does veer into the ethereal, in its way) are all the more memorable for it. The richness of “A Language of Blood” and the spaciousness of the drone-meets-sea-shanty closer “Known but Not Named” only underscore how far Von Till is able to range, and how satisfying the results can be when he does.
Bizarro vibes pervade Devil Worshipper’s debut LP, Devil Worshipper, what may or may not be a one-man project from Jeff Kahn (ex-Hideous Corpse, Skeleton of God; spelled here as Jevf Kon), mixed by Tad Doyle and released on Holy Mountain. Based in Seattle (that we do know), the project wields molten tones and slow groove to classic underground metal, heavy psych and bleary moods to hit into oddly cinematic moodiness on “Ash Brume” and even nod at Celtic Frost from a long ways away on closer “Lurker (Death).” Most of the drums are programmed, save for “New Spirit World Order,” “Ash Brume” and “Lurker,” but either way, they only add to the weirdness of the chanting layered vocals of “New Spirit World Order,” and just when it seems like eight-minute second track “Chemrails” will have been as far out as Devil Worshipper gets, side B’s “Desert Grave” takes hold for a five-minute dirge that turns out to be one of the record’s most satisfying rolls, reminiscent of something Rob Crow might’ve done with Goblin Cock on downers. Unexpected and living well in its own space, the album manages to be anchored by its lead guitar work without seeming anchored at all.
So, how many guitars on London trio Dr. Crazy’s 13-minute/four-song EP, 1,000 Guitars? Two, I think. The side-project of Groan vocalist Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen and Chris West, formerly the drummer of Trippy Wicked and Stubb who here plays guitar and bass while Groan’s former guitarist Mike Pilat handles drums, make a bid for the possibility of playing live in bringing in Pilat to fill the role formerly occupied remotely by Tony Reed of Mos Generator on their 2014 debut EP, Demon Lady. Whether that happens will remain to be seen, but they affirm their ‘80s glam leanings on “Bikini Woman” and keep the message simple on opener “Hands off My Rock and Roll” while “1,000 Guitars” makes the most of guest lead work from Stubb’s Jack Dickinson – he’s the second guitar, alongside West – and yet another infectious Mazzereth-led hook, and well, “Mistress of Business” starts out by asking the titular lady to pull down her pants, so, you know, genius-level satire ensues.
An aggressive core lies beneath the progressivism of German five-piece Linie (actually written as ?inie) on their debut full-length, What We Make Our Demons Do, but the material holds a sense of atmosphere as well. Vocalist/guitarist Jörn is very much at the fore of post-intro opener “Blood on Your Arms,” but as the crux of the album plays out on the chug-happy “Lake of Fire” and “No Ideal,” Linie showcase a wider breadth and bring together elements of post-hardcore à la Fugazi, darker heavy rock and purposefully brooding metal. Comprised of Jörn, guitarist/vocalist Alex, bassist/vocalist Ralph, drummer/vocalist Alex and keyboardist Iggi, the band impress on their first offering with not only how assured they seem of their aesthetic, but the expansive manner in which they present it. Their songwriting is varied in approach but unified in mood and while I don’t know what has them so pissed off on a cut like “Inability,” there’s no question whether they’re putting that anger to good use.
Austrian trio The Heavy Minds make their full-length debut on Stone Free with Treasure Coast, a seven-cut LP that fuzzes up ‘70s swing without going the full-Graveyard in retro vibe. “You’ve Seen it Coming” seems to nod at Radio Moscow, but a more overarching vibe seems to share ideology with Baltimore three-piece The Flying Eyes, the classic rock sensibilities given natural presentation through a nonetheless modern feel in the tracks. The bass tone of Tobias (who also plays guitar at points) alone makes Treasure Coast worth hunting down, but doesn’t prove to be the limit of what the young outfit have to offer, drummer Christoph swinging fluidly throughout “Diamonds of Love” in a manner that foreshadows the emergent roll of “Seven Remains.” That song is part of a closing duo with “Fire in My Veins,” which boasts a satisfying bluesy howl from guitarist Lukas, rounding out Treasure Coast with an organic openness that suits the band well.
Momentum is key when it comes to Road Warriors, the new full-length from Detroit four-piece Against the Grain. They amass plenty of it as they thrust into the 12-track/38-minute rager of an outing, but there are changes to be had in tempo if not necessarily intent. Comprised of bassist/vocalist Chris Nowak, guitarist/vocalist Kyle Davis, guitarist Nick Bellomo and drummer Rob Nowak, the band actually seems more comfortable on fifth-gear cuts like “’Til We Die,” “What Happened,” the first half of “Afraid of Nothing” or the furious “Run for Your Life” than they do in the middle-ground of “Guillotine” and “Night Time,” but slowing down on “Sirens” and “Eyes” allows them to flex a more melodic muscle, and that winds up enriching the album in subtle and interesting ways. If you want a clue as to the perspective from which they’re working, they start with “Here to Stay” and end with “Nothing Left to Lose.” Everything between feels suitably driven by that mission statement.
Angel Eyes, Things Have Learnt to Walk that Ought to Crawl
With the ‘t’ and the ‘ought’ in its title, Angel Eyes’ posthumous third full-length, Things Have Learnt to Walk that Ought to Crawl, brims with oddly rural threat. Like the things are people. The Chicago outfit unfold two gargantuan cascades of atmosludge on “Part I” (15:54) and “Part II” (19:18), pushing their final recording to toward and beyond recommended minimums and maximums as regards intensity. They called it quits in 2011, so to have the record surface four years later and be as blindsidingly cohesive as it is actually makes it kind of a bummer, since it won’t have a follow-up, but the work Angel Eyes are doing across these two tracks – “Part I” getting fully blown-out before shifting into the quiet opening of “Part II” – justifies the time it’s taken for it to be released. They were signed to The Mylene Sheath, but Things is an independent, digital-only outing for the time being, though its structure and cover feel ripe for vinyl. Who knows what the future might bring.
Textured, hypnotic and downright gorgeous in its psychedelic melancholy, Baron’s Torpor is a record that a select few will treasure deeply and fail to understand the problem as to why the rest of the planet isn’t just as hooked. A thoroughly British eight-track full-length – their second, I believe, but first for Svart – Torpor creates and captures spaces simultaneously on organ-infused pieces like “Mark Maker,” executing complex transitions fluidly and feeding into an overarching ambience that, by the time they get around to the eight-minute “Stry,” is genuinely affecting in mood and beautifully engrossing. The Brighton/Nottingham four-piece fuzz out a bit on “Deeper Align,” but the truth is that Torpor has much more to offer than a single genre encapsulates and those that miss it do so to their own detriment. I mean that. Its patience, its poise and its scope make Torpor an utter joy of progressive flourish and atmosphere with a feel that is entirely its own. I could go on.
So get this. For their first EP, Swedish trio Creedsmen Arise – guitarist Emil, drummer Simon and bassist Gustaf (since replaced by Jonte) – have taken it upon themselves to pen a sequel to Sleep’s Dopesmoker that, “tells the story about what happened centuries after the Dopesmoker Caravan and it’s [sic] Weedians reached their destination.” Admirably ballsy terrain for the three-piece to tread their first time out. It’s like, “Oh hey, here’s my first novel – it’s Moby Dick from the whale’s perspective.” The three tracks of the Temple EP are fittingly schooled in Iommic studies, but the band almost undercuts itself because they don’t just sound like Sleep. They have their own style. Yeah, it’s riffy stoner metal, but it’s not like they’re doing an Al Cisneros impression on vocals, so while the concept is derived directly, the sound doesn’t necessarily completely follow suit. Between the 10-minute opening title- and longest-track (immediate points), “Herbal Burial” and “Circle of Clergymen,” Creedsmen Arise make perhaps a more individualized statement than they intended, but it’s one that bodes well.
Nola’s cool and all, but when it comes to the nastiest, most misanthropic, fucked-up sludge, choosy moms choose Ohio, and Deadly Sin (Sloth) are a potent example of why. Their Demo Discography tape revels in its disconcerting extremity and seems to grind regardless of whether the Xenia, OH, trio are actually playing fast. Comprised of Jay Snyder, Wilhelm Princeton and Kyle Hughes, Deadly Sin (Sloth) cake themselves in mud that will be familiar to anyone who’s witnessed Fistula on a bender or Sloth at their most pill-popping, but do so with sub-lo-fi threat on the tape and are so clearly intentional in their effort to put the listener off that one could hardly call their demos anything but a victory. Will not be for everyone, but of course that’s the idea. This kind of viciousness is a litmus test that would do justice to any basement show, maddening in its nod and mean well beyond the point of reason.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Steve Von Till, best known as guitarist/vocalist in Neurosis, has announced a European run that will start June 29 in support of his new album, A Life unto Itself (review forthcoming), which is out now on Neurot Recordings. It is the Idaho-based Von Till‘s fourth solo full-length, and like 2008’s A Grave is a Grim Horse, A Life unto Itself explores a variety of textures and arrangements while keeping a central, if-not-acoustic-at-least-intimate spirit at its core, though it’s worth noting that the seven years between records has resulted in prevalent growth as well, Von Till becoming an even more patient, exploratory songwriter while reveling in tradition as much as experimentation.
Tour dates and album info follow, fresh off the PR wire:
STEVE VON TILL Announces European Live Dates In Support Of His New Solo Album, A Life Unto Itself, Out Now On Neurot Recordings
Neurosis guitarist/vocalist and Neurot Recordings founder, STEVE VON TILL, reveals a string of European live dates in support of his latest solo album, the immense and celestial, A Life Unto Itself. From June 29th through July 5th, SVT will trek through the UK, Germany and France.
STEVE VON TILL Solo Shows: 6/29/2015 St Pancras Old Church – London, UK 7/01/2015 Jägerklause – Berlin, DE 7/02/2015 UT Connewitz – Leipzig, DE 7/03/2015 Jubez – Karlsruhe, DE 7/04/2015 La Peniche – Lille, FR 7/05/2015 Espace B – Paris, FR
A Life Unto Itself ventures into compelling uncharted territory for its maker. STEVE VON TILL’s weathered, distinctive voice and sparse acoustic guitar provides a foundation, but a much wider variety of sonic textures are presented here. Bold and ambitious arrangements weave vintage synth, sublime strings, percussion, and electric guitars throughout these unique and expansive songs, as VON TILL’s raspy whisper dives deeply inward, and speaks genuinely of visions, memories, and self-reflection in a way that feels both seasoned and exposed.
The majority of A Life Unto Itself was captured at Avast! Recording Co. in Seattle under the direction of producer Randall Dunn (Earth, Sunn O))), Wolves In The Throne Room, Marissa Nadler and Rose Windows), with additional recordings handled at STEVE VON TILL’s own The Crow’s Nest, and the final product was mastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service. With guest viola contributions from Eyvind Kang, pedal steel from J. Kardong, and percussion courtesy of Pat Schowe, the album is enshrouded in artwork bearing the recognizable style of Aaron Turner (Sumac, Isis, Old Man Gloom, Hydra Head). All of these factors culminate into a twelve-passage voyage with over forty-five minutes of stirring textures which drill their way immediately to the core of your bones, gnaw your heart’s defense mechanisms to their foundations, and invoke a wellspring of emotions.
A Life Unto Itself LP is out now via Neurot Recordings. Packages for the digital download, CD, and 12″ LP on both black and red vinyl, including t-shirt bundles, areAVAILABLE HERE.
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
The second hour starts a little early this time around, and what I mean by that is when you’re like five minutes into hour two and trying to figure out on the tracklisting below what improv-sounding brilliant cut you’re hearing, pay careful attention to when hour one ended. Just 11 seconds from the start of the second half of the podcast. So yeah, that 18-minute wonder gets filed under hour one instead, but it comes with a wink and a nod. I just couldn’t bring myself to file something under hour two without a one at the front of the time stamp, which shows you how sad and compulsive I am because I’ve only been time-stamping these podcasts for two months now. What a dork.
It’s good stuff this. Always is, I suppose, but starting out with Goatsnake into The Machine and then on from there, it builds a flow that makes some sense one into the next in a way that, listening back to it after I put it together, was especially satisfying. Hopefully you agree as you make your way though.
As always, hope you enjoy:
0:00:00 Goatsnake, “Grandpa Jones” from Black Age Blues
0:04:36 The Machine, “Coda Sun” from Offblast!
0:09:55 Galley Beggar, “Pay My Body Home” from Silence and Tears
0:18:51 Steve Von Till, “Night of the Moon” from A Life Unto Itself
0:25:48 Venomous Maximus, “Through the Black” from Firewalker
0:29:42 Black Pyramid, “Open the Gates” from Dead Star 7”
0:34:59 Ape Skull, “A is for Ape” from Fly Camel Fly
0:39:54 Sunder, “Deadly Flower” from Demo
0:43:53 Eternal Fuzz, “Sea Change” from Nostalgia
0:47:37 Geezer, “Long Dull Knife” from Long Dull Knife
0:53:31 Fogg, “Joy of Home” from High Testament
0:59:49 Shiggajon, “Sela” from Sela
1:18:07 Blown Out, “Thousand Years in the Sunshine” from Planetary Engineering
1:34:01 Les Lekin, “Loom” from All Black Rainbow Moon
1:47:14 Undersmile, “Knucklesucker” from Anhedonia
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Been a quick seven years since Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till released his last solo album, A Grave is a Grim Horse. Or maybe it’s been a long seven years. I don’t know. It’s been seven friggin’ years, either way, which is long enough. In May, Von Till will issue the Randall Dunn-recorded A Life unto Itself on Neurot as his fourth solo outing. There hasn’t been any audio yet, but I’m interested to hear how the thread from A Grave is a Grim Horse plays out. The last Von Till record had more of an arranged sense, less of a guy-plus-guitar folkishness than the preceding 2002 long-player, If I Should Fall to the Field. Hard to believe that album is 13 years old now. Wow.
While I go attempt to process those numbers, dig into the PR wire info below on A Life unto Itself:
Steve Von Till reveals details of an astonishing new solo album, A Life Unto Itself, upcoming on Neurot Recordings in May
The title doesn’t quite say it all, but it says some of it: A Life Unto Itself is as much the name of Steve Von Till’s fourth solo album as it is the perfect description for the 25-plus years he’s spent forging, with his brothers, the incomparable musical force that is Neurosis—not to mention the numerous sonic tapestries he’s woven with Tribes Of Neurot and under his alter ego Harvestman. You can hear that rich musical history, and all the life experience that goes with it, on his new solo album A Life Unto Itself – and this album goes deeper still.
Where Steve Von Till’s previous solo recordings took on a more traditional approach with a respectful nod toward American and European folk music, A Life Unto Itself expands and ventures into compelling uncharted territory for its maker. Steve Von Till’s weathered, distinctive voice and sparse acoustic guitar provides a foundation, but a much wider variety of sonic textures are presented here. Bold and ambitious arrangements weave vintage synth, sublime strings, percussion, and electric guitars in and out of these unique and expansive songs as Steve Von Till’s raspy whisper dives deeply inward and speaks genuinely of visions, memories, and self-reflection in a way that feels both seasoned and exposed.
A Life Unto Itself is a powerful and evocative collection of beautiful Celtic balladry, haunting folk songs, dark psychedelia and expansive Americana, transporting one to the very heart and soul of its creator. If you allow yourself to fully submit to it, abandoning all preconceptions, the rewards can be magnificent.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 5th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last night on Thee Facebooks, producer Randall Dunn (Master Musicians of Bukkake) confirmed that he’d heard the mastered version of a new solo album by Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till. No release date has been set for the yet-untitled offering, and things like artwork and Neurot Recordings‘ scheduling will no doubt factor into when it’s made public, but even that a new outing has been recorded with Dunn at the helm is news enough for me, particularly considering Neurosis are also slated to begin writing a new album in February according to guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly.
Whenever it arrives, the next Von Till full-length will be his first since 2008’s A Grave is a Grim Horse, which was his third and presented something of a shift from the folk of his first two, 2000’s As the Crow Flies and 2002’s If I Should Fall to the Field, to a fuller sound, which was further developed on 2009’s In a Dark Tongue (review here), the second LP from Von Till‘s psychedelic, exploratory rock project Harvestman. Seven years between solo albums seems like a long time, but between Harvestman, Neurosis‘ 2012 LP Honor Found in Decay (review here), that band’s increasingly busy live schedule — they just did three New Year’s shows in San Francisco to kick off what promises to be a busier 2015, even apart from the writing sessions — his participation in the first Songs of Townes Van Zandt tribute with Wino and Kelly, and Neurot‘sreissue of As the Crow Flies last year, marking its first release on vinyl, there hasn’t been any deficit of output.
More to come as I hear it, but until then, here’s Von Till to stare you down and the post from Dunn:
Listening to the master of the new Steve Von Till solo record I produced and recorded. It sounds amazing! cannot wait for you all to hear this very psyched out and heavy. Thanks to J.b. Kardong , Eyvind Kang and Pat Schowe for your great contributions. Thanks to Steve Von Till for asking me to do it!