Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The 2013 self-titled debut (review here) from Swedish stoner doomers Goatess — who are fronted by the considerable riff-riding pipes of Chritus Linderson (Lord Vicar, ex-Saint Vitus, ex-Count Raven) — left little room for argument, and while it’s a bummer that Berlin outfit The Oath won’t be able to make it out to Roadburn 2014, Goatess make a more than substantial replacement in the lineup. No clue on when on the opening day of the festival they’ll be playing or which stage in 013 they’ll grace, but cool that they’re involved either way. The countdown to April continues.
Goatess To Replace The Oath at Roadburn Festival 2014
We at Roadburn are very sorry to announce that The Oath have sadly had to cancel their appearance at Roadburn Festial 2014 due to personal circumstances. Hopefully, we’ll be able to welcome the band at Roadburn 2015.
Luckily, we’re able to report that Sweden’s Goatess will replace The Oath on Thursday, April 10th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
Featuring the vocal talents of one Christian ‘Chritus’ Linderson, formerly of Count Raven, Saint Vitus, Terra Firma, and currently of Lord Vicar, Goatess have taken a different tack and managed to take the previously almost-completely stripmined sound of Kyuss, circa Blues For The Red Sun, and make it sound fresh again!
Sure, there’s more than a tinge of Sabbath on Goatess‘ S/T album (released on the ever prolific Svart Records), but the band hews closer to the fuzzed-up tone of California’s favourite desert-fried sons than to the average bunch of Iommi-worshippers.
Goatess axeman Niklas knocks out a woozy-edged guitar that moves from psych-edged subtlety to great big fuck-off ballsy rifforama, with a sprinkling of eastern-sounding melody woven through, more-than-ably backed up by a bravura drum performance from skinsman Kenta and Findus‘ deeply impressive, fluid, nuanced bass, leaving Chritus to work his magic safe in the knowledge that the heavy lifting is well and truly taken care of.
Make sure to indulge yourself in Goatess‘ primordial, hypno fuzz at Roadburn Festival 2014.
Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
Tickets for the traditional Afterburner event on Sunday, April 13th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands are still available. Get in on the actionHERE!
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
You might not know it yet, but you’re going to want to pay attention to the cumbersome name Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus. The Swedish four-piece are celebrating their 10-year anniversary as a band in 2014, and following a late-2013 reissue of their sophomore outing, Bloom (originally on Transubstans), they’ll make a proper debut on Small Stone this spring with Spirit Knife. I missed the boat on Bloomwhen it came out — not to mention their Elefantafull-length debut — but it’s something of a gem, and Spirit Knifepushes psych atmospheres and confident, commanding heavy rock further.
It’s not about how many beers you can drink so much as how far you can make the sound go. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus can push out bluesy fuzz or, like on “Sworn Collision,” delve into wistful indie spaciousness, but they always do so with an imaginative ear toward classic pop rock and psychedelia, and they seem a safe bet to turn heads into converts here in the US as well once the new album arrives. One to watch, to put it more efficiently.
They’ll tour Europe to herald Spirit Knife‘s arrival. Dates and bio info on the band follow, courtesy of the PR wire:
Imagine, if you will, Jeff Buckley jamming with Can, and you’ll have a fair gist of the fantastic voyage that awaits the armies of the Spirit Knife: an album that finds Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus rekindling their time-traveling communion with vintage psychedelia and Krautrock, while expanding on the sonic palette revealed by the ensemble’s past full-lengths, Elefanta and Bloom.
Once again, but more powerfully than ever before, JIRM, deliver imposing passages of torrential guitars that rattle and roll, shimmy and soar with oceanic reverb and sweaty rock and roll, partnering with thrumming keys and mesmerizing Motorik drums to incite cyclical hypnosis for protracted song-suites, ever teetering between tight instrumental control and loose vibes to achieve optimal tantric tension and release through music.
All this from a group founded in 2004, in the town of Eskilstuna, Sweden, before relocating to Stockholm three years later, where and whence vocalist/guitarist Karl Apelmo, guitarist Micke Pettersson, bassist Viktor Källgren and drummer Henke Persson have since produced the aforementioned two albums and, now, the impending Spirit Knife.
JEREMY IRONS & THE RATGANG MALIBUS “Spirit Knife Tour April 2014″
1 abril – COLOGNE (MTC Club) 2 abril – PARIS (Giburs Café) 3 abril – BARCELONA (Rocksound) 4 abril – MADRID (Siroco) 5 abril – SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (Club Moon) 6 abril – LEÓN (Gran Café) 8 abril – BERLIN (Cortina Bob)
Posted in Reviews on September 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Sonic diversity within the confines of genre is rare enough, but when one encounters a band like I are Droid, it’s a fitting reminder that those who actually cross boundaries after acknowledging them are in much scarcer supply. I are Droid‘s second album for Razzia Records, The Winter Ward — their first outing was 2008′s cleverly-titled I are Debut– is such a release, culling together elements of modern alternative and classic heavy rock and marrying them with a vast array of sonic textures in the form of synth and programming. To give some basic idea of how that works, one might look at a song like “Kill it Good,” fourth on the album and among its most infectious tracks. On the surface, you have the trio of guitarist/vocalist Peder Bergstrand (once and again of Lowrider), bassist/backing vocalist Jens Lagergren and drummer Fredrik Okazaki Bergström, who proffer excellently composed and performed, driving rock and roll, but under that and running along with it there are layers of synth worked in and midi that comes courtesy of Bergstrand and producer/mixer Daniel Bergstrand. Not only do these electronic elements become essential to the overall listening experience of The Winter Ward, providing a bed for the strong hooks of “22:22,” “Feathers and Dust,” “Constrict/Contract” and “Kill it Good,” among others on the 11-track/46-minute offering, but they create an immersive depth in the mix that puts the audience in a different headspace while hearing the album almost without realizing it. They’re the world in which the songs happen, but they’re also part of the songs themselves, and it’s not necessarily appropriate to think of them as separate — the builds in “Feathers and Dust” and “22:22″ can attest to that, as the synth not only matches the forward motion of the other instruments, but is another, essential piece of the whole. Shades of Bergstrand‘s desert guitar tonality and fuzz show up in cuts like “Leaving Ground” (the longest on the album at 6:26) and the particularly Queens of the Stone Age-esque guitar progression in the verse of “Given is Given,” but even this is shifted and directed to suit I are Droid‘s more complex, more nuanced purposes. The real triumph of the record is that it’s pop.
It would be fascinating enough for I are Droid to put together a collection of songs using these methods and have it be a fucking mess, unstructured and dense with self-indulgence, but that’s not how The Winter Wardplays out. These songs have hooks of nearly unbearable potency, and at the heart of all this stylistic breadth there resides an adherence to classic, immediately familiar verse/chorus construction that makes a cut like the percussion-centric “Odes” as accomplished in terms of basic songwriting as it is aesthetically. Couple that with crisp production — Daniel Bergstrand‘s name might be familiar from his recording/mixing work for Meshuggah, In Flames, Behemoth, Devin Townsend, and so many others; the drum sounds here is a sure tell of metal roots, whatever context surrounds — intricate, headphone-worthy mixing and Peder‘s dynamic vocal sensibilities and The Winter Wardbecomes even more accessible, the lyrics of opener “Then, at 15″ setting a wistful, reflective tone for the rest to follow that stays general enough to be universally relatable. This mood perfectly suits Peder‘s voice, which arrives melodic over an initial salvo of synth tings before the chugging guitar/bass and deceptively weighted drum thud begins and “Then, at 15″ starts both its hurried push and lyrical coming of age narrative. For as long as there’s been popular music, that’s been a theme of it, but I are Droid use the opener effectively as a point from which to expand — the subsequent “With Lowered Arms” and “Given is Given (Part I)” both drawing on some of the same sweet melancholy while broadening the palette overall, the second track maximizing an open, airy feel while “Given is Given (Part I)” grounds the overarching flow with an encompassing melody in the vocals and guitar, which dominates accompanied by Lagergren‘s bass. The methodology holds for the next couple tracks, as “Given is Given (Part I)” feeds into the ultra-catchy “Kill it Good” and “Feathers and Dust,” each of which efficiently toys with the balance of rock and electronic progressivism, pushing to one side or the other for any given verse or chorus, a double-edged hook emerging in “Kill it Good” that stands as one of The Winter Ward‘s strongest, though certainly there’s no shortage of competition.
Posted in Reviews on August 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Excluding a limited split 7″ with NYMF that heralded its coming, Vultures is the first outing from Swedish rockers Dozer in five years since they released 2008′s Beyond Colossal. That album, their fifth and second for Small Stone, became the capstone on Dozer‘s career when an indefinite hiatus was announced Fall 2009. After guitarist Tommi Holappa and drummer Olle Mårthans and bassist Johan Rockner played together (the latter on guitar) as part of the Greenleaf lineup for 2012′s triumphant Nest of Vipers album (review here), with Truckfighters‘ Oskar Cedermalm on vocals and bassist Bengt Bäcke, who engineered Dozer‘s first two albums and worked with other formative Swedish heavy rockers like Demon Cleaner — not to mention a guest appearance from Dozer guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin on that record’s closing track — it was announced Dozer would return to the stage at Desertfest 2013. This was a welcome surprise even after Greenleaf played there in 2012 — Dozer‘s set was preceded by a Lowrider reunion in London and it has been one of the high points of my year so far — and while the immediate next question was when Dozer‘s next studio release would surface, Vulturesarrives as a semi-complete answer to the question. Recorded in 2004-2005 at Rockhouse Studios in Borlänge, these six tracks were used as pre-production demos for what would later become the fourth Dozer album, 2005′s Through the Eyes of Heathens. They arrive here with a mastering job from Karl Daniel Lidén (who may or may not also play drums on them) and cover art by William Ede as a digital-only-for-now 26-minute EP that at very least shows Dozer have a continued interest in being Dozer. And if Vulturesis a stopgap issued in order to keep their name in the minds of their fans while Holappa continues to write and record with a partially-revamped Greenleaf lineup, being one of those fans, I’m more than happy to take it. The Through the Eyes of Heathens era was a pivotal one in Dozer‘s progression, continuing the shift from the desert-style heavy of their first two albums — 2000′s In the Tail of a Comet and 2001′s Madre de Dios — that began to show itself on 2002′s Call it Conspiracy and pushing Dozer‘s style to individualized territory not yet heard from the band.
In any case, after five years, it was high time Dozer got something out, and Vulturesprovides a fascinating look at their creative process. For one thing, the songs are remarkably put together despite their “demo” tag. I don’t know for sure if Bäcke engineered this recording — he helmed their first two records and prior demos at Rockhouse — but from the sound of the tracks, I’d believe it. Nordin‘s vocals are layered, the drums have a crisp pop to them, Rockner‘s bass rumbles with fuzzy conviction and the guitars layered and driving in that style that was so quickly becoming Dozer‘s own at this point in their career. Dozer would ultimately take to Seawolf Studios on an island off the coast of Finland to record the final album, and it’s perhaps most curious of all that not one track from Vultureswas used in full. There are pieces here in songs like “The Imposter” and closer “To the Fallen” that one familiar with the finished record might be able to recognize, at least in spirit if not note-for-note, but nothing on Vultures was directly ported to Through the Eyes of Heathens. The effect this has is two-fold. First, it makes the new EP that much more of a new release — it is genuinely unheard material. Second, it makes Vultures even more intriguing as a look into Dozer‘s creative process. Was this something that had never happened before, that the songs took such drastically different forms by the time they were finished? Was the original intent to get these tracks on tape so as to write new material using them as a base to work from? What was it about a song like opener Vultures “The Blood is Cold” that didn’t make the final cut, or was it not even an issue of that, and rather, the band knew all along these tracks wouldn’t be on the record but wanted to have them documented anyway for just this future purpose? These questions abound, but what’s most pivotal about Vultures as a standalone release is that it captures Through the Eyes of Heathens-style songwriting with production more akin to Madre de Dios and In the Tail of a Comet, making it a wholly unique entity within Dozer‘s catalog, which if it needs to be said, is one of the finest and most essential the Swedish heavy underground has ever produced.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
In the two years since, Candlemass‘ Epicus Doomicus Metallicus performance live at Roadburn 2011 has become my go-to example of the kind of thing one finds at the Tilburg-based fest and pretty much nowhere else on earth. To date, the Swedish doom legends’ reunion with vocalist Johan Längqvist is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen at a show, so my question is this: Is it possible to resist the proposition of Candlemass, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus Live at Roadburn 2011because I don’t want to have to buy it on LP, or is it time to get over the self-imposed embargo, cope with The Patient Mrs.‘s rolled eyes and just get the damn thing? I guess we’ll just have to see where I end up.
Epicus Doomicus Metallicus Live at Roadburn 2011is due out June 14 on Svart. The PR wire offers considerable temptations:
Today, SVART RECORDS announces June 14th as the international release date for CANDLEMASS’ vinyl-only Epicus Doomicus Metallicus – Live at Roadburn 2011 album. CANDLEMASS’ debut album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus is a genre-defining classic if there ever was one – the starting point of modern epic doom metal, even. In 2010 and 2011 CANDLEMASS invited the original Epicus vocalist Johan Längqvist back into the fold for a few select shows celebrating the album’s 25th birthday. This vinyl-only release captures the band performing Epicus Doomicus Metallicus album live at the sold-out Roadburn Festival in Holland, April 2011. Mixed from a professional 32-track recording and mastered vinyl under the supervision of band founder/mainman Leif Edling, this is the ultimate live version of the classic.
The SVART release has the album spread over three sides of vinyl and an etching on side D. The two LPs are wrapped in a gatefold jacket, and the set is available on black or white vinyl. Both versions are limited to 400. Comments Leif Edling: “No volcano could stop us this time to perform the Epicus album at the Roadburn festival in Holland. It was a very special day, filled with great music, incredible fans, and a band that had a lot of fun doing this! After 25 years original, Epicus singer Johan Längqvist is onstage with us to perform something that people say is one of the doom metal classics. And I think we did a pretty good job there at Roadburn. We played well, and the show was a total success! So here it is, CANDLEMASS live at the Roadburn festival…as it was, no overdubs…recorded on 32 channels…a fine slice of legendary doom released on big, fat, double-packed vinyl!”
To date, they’re not revolutionaries or anything like that, but I like Swedish four-piece Mamont. I dug their EP well enough, but with the cumbersomely-titled 2012 debut full-length, Passing through the Mastery Door(review here), it was easy to hear they were beginning a process of coming into their own, and that sensibility I almost always find exciting in an album. The band, based in Nyköping and Stockholm and previously interviewed here, seem bent on doing the work of a genuine creative progression — both in their songwriting and in terms of putting in time on the road — and in their new video for the track “Stonehill Universe,” they show that even a simple performance clip of a group in a room (or two) still has space to show a bit of individuality. I’m not the betting type, but I’m looking forward to hearing what Mamont do next, and this is fun in the meantime.
Posted in Reviews on January 29th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been two years since Stockholm heavyweights New Keepers of the Water Towers released their sophomore full-length, The Calydonian Hunt, through MeteorCity, and that span of time has found them making a jump in more than just their label. Issued via Listenable Records, their third album, The Cosmic Child, finds New Keepers of the Water Towers a much more mature, more patient band, embarking on progressive psychedelic sprawl and incorporating acoustics alongside periods of the more expected weighted distortion. Tracks are by and large longer than either the second album (review here) or their Chronicles debut (review here), which compiled two self-released EPs into a 60-minute long-player rife with formative Mastodonic crush, and the three-turned-four-piece don’t shy away from including atmospheric interludes both within the songs and in the form of the closing title-track. All told, The Cosmic Child runs through six tracks in just under 47 minutes, and while there are times where it seems like New Keepers of the Water Towers have wandered beyond their capacity to restore structured order, there’s never actually a moment throughout where the songs get away from them, and the record winds up being as much of a success as it is a surprise, though those diametrically opposed to progressive indulgences will want to stay wary, as The Cosmic Child is full of them right from the beginning of opener “The Great Leveller,” which swirls to a march led by drummer Tor Sjödén and complemented by the guitars of Rasmus Booberg and Victor Berg (Björn Andersson has since joined on bass, but in this liner-noteless digital age, there’s no word on whether or not he’s actually playing on the album). “The Great Leveller” swells to a slow verse plod topped with melodic vocals and open, big-sounding guitar, gradually giving way to the chorus and a chugging rhythm playing out under a grandiose echoing, winding solo. The Mastodon feel isn’t completely gone from New Keepers’ sound – let’s not forget that they too “went prog” – but The Cosmic Child feels less outwardly concerned with showy technicality than it does with mood and atmosphere, “Visions of Death” setting a side-to-side sway in its guitar line that rests on a strong rhythmic foundation between the bassline and the drums.
There’s a current of excellent guitar leads throughout The Cosmic Child, and “Visions of Death” certainly has one in its midsection, but even these are never so over-the-top as to distract from the overall balance of the material, which rests between modern prog metal and heavy psychedelia. At nearly nine and a half minutes, “Visions of Death” presages much of what’s to come thematically from 12-plus-minute cuts like “Pyre for the Red Sage” (12:05) and “Lapse” (12:32), but each piece of the album has an identity of its own that simultaneously works to the benefit of the whole work. This is the best case scenario for a thematic, semi-narrative album, which The Cosmic Child purports to be (no lyric sheet with that download). Piano drives a transition between “Visions of Death” and the subsequent “Pyre for the Red Sage,” which opens with the same line and adds acoustic guitar for its introductory base. By the end of the first full minute, the song has unfolded its grandeur, but as big as it gets – it gets plenty big – there remains a grounding element in a catchy chorus and driving kick bass. Booberg, Berg and Sjödén all handle vocals reportedly, and on “Pyre for the Red Sage,” layers assure that as much largesse is carried across musically, it’s duly met with the singing. Before its halfway point, the track breaks to synth ambience and moves gradually, patiently, over its next couple minutes to post-Floydian prog metal, a thrashy riff running rhythm for a semi-shred solo that works because of the time spent getting to it. The guitar line that follows is one of the more memorable aspects of the song and indeed the album, and it’s met by far-off echoing vocals before a slowdown introduces the acoustics that will carry into “Cosmosis,” typified by a sweet vocal melody and rounding out with a darker electric guitar line that serves as a foreshadow to “Lapse,” the culmination of The Cosmic Child and New Keepers’ most ambitious single work to date.
Few rules in life I’d be willing to call absolute, but I think it’s safe to say that if you’re walking through the woods and you run into a dude in a creepy clown mask, your day just got a whole lot worse. It’s a lesson we should be teaching our children, really.
We last heard from heavy rocking Swedish foursome Ponamero Sundown in 2011 with the album, Radio Eléctrica (review here), a straightforward bit of Euro heavy brought to light by Transubstans Records. The clip you’ll find below, which splices the aforementioned PSA about forest clowns (also dudes in pig masks, we can’t forget them) with performance footage of the band, is for the song “The Dice” from that album, which Ponamero Sundown are due to follow up this year if they want to keep the two-year pace they established between their ’09 debut, Stonerized(review here) and the sophomore outing.
Those suffering coulrophobia may want to avoid, but everyone else, feel free to enjoy:
Posted in On the Radar on January 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Like many in the current crop of Swedish heavy bands, Stockholm-based Amaxa owe much of what they do directly to post-Sabbath early ’70s riffing, bands less given to outwardly stonerized lyrics or a focus on what would become doom. Organ shows up on their self-titled, self-released debut LP, but even when it picks up, “Shooting Star” is more psychedelic and thicker toned than you’d call what Deep Purple were doing at the time. They cite Mountain specifically and Swede-prog progenitors Kebnekajse, and I’m no one to argue, but it’s impossible to ignore the trailblazing bands like Graveyard, Witchcrat and Burning Saviours have done over the course of the last decade as well. Either way you look at it, Amaxa are playing off ideas that will be readily familiar to experienced listeners within the genre.
The band is comprised of guitarist Peter Pedersen, bassist Anders Broström, vocalist/organist Erik Broström and drummer Jimmy Halvarsson, and much of what might distinguish them among their peers in Sweden’s crowded retro set lies in the organ and how it’s used to play up prevailing psychedelics that come through alongside blues rock riffing and palpable tonal warmth while the production balances modern techniques and the already-stated retro aesthetic. Longest cut “Welcome in Sanity” meters out darker stomp, but even so keeps the pace moving centered around an undulating bassline from Anders and Jimmy‘s tense ride cymbal, both of which open wide in the chorus to the 6:19 track, which in turn has room in its second half for a sort of mini-freakout shuffle. At very least, Amaxa are schooled in the tenets of the sound they’re presenting on their first album.
Killer low-end is a regular feature throughout Amaxa‘s Amaxa, but “The Heartache of Philip Marlowe” belongs to Peter‘s guitar and to Jimmy‘s cowbell. Tonally, it’s some of the best fuzz Amaxa have on offer, and put to a start-stop groove in the verse that Erik matches in his vocals. The album ends with fitting swirl and some heretofore unheard melodic complexity, hinting of things to come maybe on future releases, and if nothing else, the fact that they self-released it and pressed to vinyl bodes well for a sense of professionalism to grow. Because apparently I have a Soundcloud account now and because Amaxa (also on Thee Facebooks here) posted the tracks there, here’s the full record:
Posted in Reviews on December 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Undeterred by the departure of bassist/vocalist Anders Steen after the release of their fifth album in 2009, Stockholm-based drone metallers Switchblade have pressed on as the duo of guitarist Johan Folkesson and drummer Tim Bertilsson, adopting the motto “less is more” and using the lack of a permanent third party to their advantage on the follow-up sixth outing — self-titled as all their releases have been since starting out — by inviting a slew of guests to join them on these recordings. For the ease of telling them apart, presumably so you don’t go, “Hey, did you hear Switchbladeby Switchblade?” and the other party answers, “Which one?” the band has subtitled their full-lengths with the year of release, and so with Switchblade  (released on Trust No One/Denovali), they mark a new era for the band.
To find a Switchblade song with a title other than its runtime or a number indicating its place in the tracklist, you’d have to go back all the way to Switchblade , released some three years after they got together, and Switchblade follows suit aesthetically with many of the sort of branded tenets the band has developed over the course of their decade and a half together, arriving in three extended movements each with its own defining progression and standout elements. The liner to the digipak CD breaks “Movement I” (14:34) down into “Grave I/Dissonance I/Coda I,” “Movement II” (10:48) into “Nocturne/Mezzo/Coda II” and “Movement III” (11:33) into “Grave II/Dissonance II/Elegy/Finale,” so the impression is of one larger, mostly instrumental work tied together by various musical themes. That turns out to be the case, but each of the three tracks still has something of its own to offer.
As regards the guest appearances, though it would seem to contradict the “less is more” ethic –actually being more than less — appearances from Katatonia vocalist Jonas Renkse, Kongh vocalist David Johansson, Terra Tenebrosa vocalist The Cuckoo and SpiritualBeggars keymaster Per Wiberg wind up shaping the atmosphere of Switchblade in a huge way, stacked though the vocals are into the second half of the 37-minute album. So too does a major contribution come from the engineering job of Karl Daniel Lidén (Vaka, ex-Greenleaf/DemonCleaner), whose open-air mic placement on Bertilsson‘s drums adds a dimension of space to the recording that’s utterly his own. Longstanding Katatonia aficionados will be interested to know that Renkse growls here rather than relies on the emotional clean approach he’s used in his band for over a decade now, leaving Johansson to a cleaner, semi-spoken incantation that comes on in layers in the back end of “Movement II” and The Cuckoo to return in “Movement III” after a bizarre appearance in the grooving second half of “Movement I.”
Perhaps even more than the vocals, though, Wiberg‘s contributions on organ — both when they’re there and when they’re not — set the tone and atmosphere of Switchblade . Folkesson and Bertilsson (who also runs Trust No One Recordings) affect doomed minimalism at its finest during the opening stretches of “Movement III,” but it’s the contrast and lack of Wiberg‘s presence where he had done so much to fill out the fast and slow components of “Movement II,” that really brings the starkness to bear. At 10:48, “Movement II” is also the shortest song Switchblade have had on an album since 2003, so it’s a change working on multiple levels. As “Movement III” picks up in its second half and the album sloths in the general direction of its apex, both vocals and organ join in to accompany, first from Renkse again — his throat sounding raw, inflamed and dry – then in a serious of gurgles and screams from The Cuckoo, who tops a final(e) slowdown in excruciating fashion as “Movement III” deteriorates. All the while, though, working alongside Folkesson‘s guitar, Wiberg is filling out the track in the low-end space a bassist might otherwise occupy.
Ultimately, it seems to be Switchblade‘s encompassing sense of musical adventure that has kept them from being hindered by Steen‘s absence. By bringing in outsiders to take part, they’ve made sure not to delve further into minimalism than intended, while still allowing for a feeling of space to be carried across during droning guitar section that precedes the bell-of-the-ride swing of “Movement I,” arguably as active instrumentally as they get here — and another instance in which Wiberg makes his impact felt — so that whatever sacrifice they’ve had to make, the sound of Switchblade winds up broader, not at all contracted. To put it on their terms, though I’d argue that they got there with more, not less as they posit, the end result is still more, not less. If it’s more is more or less is more, whatever. It’s more in the end, and if Switchblade are bent on making complex ideas and logistics seem simple, that can only help them as they commence refining the nascent duo approach they present here. 15 years on, a new beginning.
My motivations for posting this video for the song “Given is Given (Part 1)” from Swedish trio I are Droid‘s upcoming sophomore album, The Winter Wardare twofold. First, it’s fuzzy and Swedish, so it’s kind of a no-brainer that I’d put up a post about it anyway. That’s kind of my thing. Second, that dude in the middle up there reluctantly removing his hood is none other than guitarist/vocalist Peder Bergstrand, former and apparently once again frontman for Lowrider.
And with the announcement a couple weeks back that those seminal Swedish stoner mavens have reunited for a one-off at next year’s London Desertfest, yeah, you could say there’s an added level of interest there. In I are Droid, Bergstrand is joined by drummer Fredrik Okazaki Bergström and bassist Jens Lagergren. The Winter Ward is due out early in 2013 on Razzia Records, and sometime in the next couple weeks, I’ll be running an interview with Bergstrand about the Lowrider reunion, how it all came about, how it plays into working with I are Droid, and so on.
As it’s nice to have a little context for that kind of thing, here’s “Given is Given (Part 1).” Please enjoy:
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Word just came down the PR wire of Graveyard 2013 US tour dates. The band are not to be missed live, and I for one am looking forward to hearing how they bring their new album, Lights Out(review here), to life on stage.
See you in Philly:
GRAVEYARD: U.S. TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED!
FINALLY: People in the States can stop complaining about not having some real goddamned rock ‘n’ roll shows to go to. Plus, our neighbors to the north & south have good reason to grab their passports and head for their borders.
Rejoice Faithful Disciples of the Scuzz and Fuzz of Analog Sound for I say unto you that Sweden’s finest, GRAVEYARD, are coming back to headline in the U.S. to support their new album, Lights Out, due out in North America on November 6th!
Launching on January 23rd in Boston, Massachusetts, the tour will feature special appearances in Seattle, Washington and Houston, Texas from The Devil’s Blood and Royal Thunder.
Confirmed tour dates are:
01/23/13 Royal Boston – Boston, MA 01/24/13 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA 01/25/13 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY 01/26/13 Black Cat – Washington, D.C. 01/27/13 Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY 01/29/13 The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC 01/30/13 Exit/In – Nashville, TN 01/31/13 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA 02/01/13 The Hi-Tone Café – Memphis, TN 02/02/13 The Firebird – St. Louis, MO 02/04/13 The Shelter – Detroit, MI 02/05/13 Lincoln Hall – Chicago, IL 02/06/13 7th Street Entry – Minneapolis, MN 02/08/13 Larimer Lounge – Denver, CO 02/09/13 Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT 02/11/13 The A Club – Spokane, WA 02/12/13 Wonder Ballroom – Portland, OR 02/13/13 Neumos – Seattle, WA *featuring The Devil’s Blood and Royal Thunder* 02/15/13 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA 02/16/13 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA 02/17/13 El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles, CA 02/18/13 The Casbah – San Diego, CA 02/19/13 The Crescent Ballroom – Phoenix, AZ 02/21/13 Emo’s East – Austin, TX 02/22/13 Granada Theater – Dallas, TX 02/23/13 Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX *featuring The Devil’s Blood and Royal Thunder*
Additional shows will be announced soon.
With legions of devoted fans, you’d best buy your tickets ASAP ‘cause these dates WILL sell out.
Posted in On the Radar on October 22nd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Dually-fronted Swedish six-piece Mud Walk recorded their latest EP, The Drifter’s Forgotten Lore, in San Francisco earlier this year. Released by Ella Music Nation, it’s a five-track collection of unpretentious retro heavy rock, fervent in its groove and varied between the warm low-end vibing of “I’m Good When I Hear the Guns” and the unmitigated shuffle of “On the Loose,” which has enough early ’70s swagger in its execution to live up to its title. Put to tape at the US Women’s Audio Mission, it’s a thickened garage stomper with bluesy thrust and soulful vocals vying for prominence in a way that only adds to the excitement of the listen.
The Drifter’s Forgotten Loreis Mud Walk‘s second EP behind 2011′s Barefoot Band, and is more than cohesive enough to make me wonder what the band might be able to do with a full-length release. Much of the focus inevitably is going to be on vocalists Johanna Bayard (also harmonica) and Anna-Stina Jungerstam — one can almost see the line forming to make mostly inaccurate comparisons to Heart circa Dreamboat Annie — but on opener “Alaska” (also the longest track at 4:47; points), guitarists Stina Årman-Assargård and Liv Platzer lack nothing for presence or prominence, and throughout the release, the double-Jonna rhythm section of bassist/backing vocalist Jonna Wikblad and drummer Jonna Karlsson consistently provide the foundation that keeps it all together.
To wit, “Sole Times” seems to be a moodier waltz at first, with vocals further back in their analog echo, adding to the psychedelic vibing, but in the final third, Wikblad underscores a start-stop riff with some classic funk and the sense of movement so prevalent throughout The Drifter’s Forgotten Loreis revived. Likewise, though Bayard‘s harmonica features heavily in the 2:50 closer, “Hounded,” it’s the rolling groove that emerges near the halfway point that makes the track such a landmark to end the EP. It’s a strong release from a young band with a firm handle on their aesthetic, more fully produced than the first, but still natural-sounding, and however much bell-bottomed worship seems to emerge from Sweden, acts like Mud Walk seem to be able to maintain their own spin on the style even as they affirm the tropes of the burgeoning subgenre.
The EP is available now from Ella Music Nation — I don’t have Spotify, but apparently Mud Walk is on Spotify — and they’re on Thee Facebooks and Twitter as well. The EP isn’t streaming publicly anywhere to the best of my knowledge, so here’s the video for the title-track to Barefoot Band, which should still give some idea of what Mud Walk are all about.
Swedish fuzz merchants Mamont know what they like. Their debut Ozium Records full-length, Passing through the Mastery Door(review here) is a collection of thickened stonerly grooves and heavy rocking jams, casting off the retro feel of the EP they recorded last year (review here) to take on a more modern style. It’s a time-tested formula, but the band use it to their advantage throughout the album’s eight tracks, chopping up familiar elements to recombine them into the massive stomp of “Mammuten” or the classic psychedelic quirk of “Stonehill Universe.”
The “new” recording aesthetic suits them well. The guitars of Karl Adolfsson and Jonathan Wårdsäter lead throughout with heavily Muff’ed distortion, bassist Victor Wårdsäter and drummer Jimmy Karlsson holding together the fuzzy expanses the music seems to be describing. They’re not quite through the mastery door yet in terms of settling the issue of their approach for once and all and thus halting creative growth — though the album is remarkably cohesive — but if the second-half jam of “The Secret of the Owl” is anything to go by, they’re enjoying the process of getting there up to this point.
With birdsong scattered throughout Passing through the Mastery Door, in the intro to the album at the beginning of “Mammuten” or before the penultimate interlude “Woods” takes hold with its sweet-sounding, acoustic-based serenity, Mamont offer a natural feel and never veer from that course throughout the record’s 42 minutes. Because this laid back vibe is pervasive, it’s easy to see them as aligned somewhat to the jammed-out sphere of modern European heavy psych, but Mamont are more straightforward in their songwriting and more traditionally stoner in their scope to really make that the case. In concept and execution, they stand out.
And in part, it was because of that that I hit up Karlsson with Six Dumb Questions, which he was kind enough to field with the answers below:
1. Tell me about the writing process for Passing through the Mastery Door. Was there something specific you wanted to do differently after the EP? It seems like the album came together pretty quickly. When were the songs written?
The plan was to first do a new EP with some songs that we had written last year. We liked the retro feeling on the old one, but we had started to experiment more with fuzz and wanted the next recording to have a more tone of stoner.
Then Ozium Records contacted us and wanted to sign the band. We said “fuck yeah” and started directly to discuss a full album. We didn’t have so much time to rehearse because I am studying in Stockholm (one hour from our hometown Nyköping), and we also had a lot of shows in the weekends.
Everyone seems to think that our old EP was released this year, but we recorded it 2011. It just got known to people outside Sweden earlier this year.
I came to live in Nyköping again in June and we had less than two weeks to prepare the album before we hit the studio. Three of the songs (“Creatures,” “Stonehill Universe” and “The Secret of the Owl”) were older ones that we have played a lot. The rest of the album was in fact done under these two weeks.
We then had one very intense week in Deep Blue Studios in Nyköping, the same studio where the EP was recorded. The song “Woods” is actually just the result of a jam in the studio. We wanted the album to land for a while, to then give you a punch in the face with “Satans Fasoner” (directly translated to Satan’s manners and means damn manners).
It was a bit of surreal feeling when the Swedish Armed Force had exercises in the area around the studio that week. Armed soldiers and tanks everywhere, and it was a hell of a job to record the beautiful birdsong we have on the album, because of the fucking helicopters.
2. One of the most striking differences between the EP and the full-length to me is the tone and how much thicker the album sounds. Was this done on purpose? What do you feel like a thicker tone gives to the band?
Yes, it was really on purpose. The three songs on the EP don’t have the heavy weight we want. And they’re much more stoner and heavy live. When we started the band the idea was to raise a creature that would become a big fucking runaway mammoth. The tone of the new album was set seconds after the song “Mammuten” (the mammoth) was written.
But we also really wanted to have the retro feeling and some psychedelic elements left. I think we have a good balance between the 70’s retro rock and the 90’s heavy stoner. A mix of everything we love.
3. I know the line is taken from the track “Stonehill Universe,” but what was behind choosing Passing through the Mastery Door for the album’s title? Was there something particular about that line or that song that stuck out in your minds?
That’s right. When we sat in the rehearse room Karl suddenly wrote the line on the over scribbled whiteboard. We looked at it and loved it. The album is a story and a journey, when you listen to it you choose to pass through the door. What then happens no one can know for sure. “Stonehill Universe” is the oldest song on the album and its lyrics and message reflect the entire album, the mastery door.
4. Sweden has a long history of so many great bands. Are there any Swedish artists who inspire what you do in Mamont? What is the heavy rock culture or scene like in Stockholm for a band like Mamont, releasing your first album? How has the response been to the band live?
A hell of a lot good Swedish bands inspire Mamont. Sometimes we feel very lucky to live in this small country that’s overfilled with really great bands. They’re everywhere and it’s awesome to get the privilege to play and get to know them.
Our influences come from both Swedish ‘70s prog rock and more modern stoner rock. Mamont is like a mix of the legendary band November and today’s Truckfighters. It’s a good description I think, if you want it on paper.
The heavy rock scene is really boiling right know in Sweden. In just a couple of years the stoner scene has grown as hell and a lot of underground bands have started to build up a wonderful family feeling with each other. The first album couldn’t come out in a better time. There’s a large wave of sand washing over right know and we’re on it. And yes, it’s sand. We played in a huge sandpit this summer. KrökbackenFestival was arranged by some dudes from Mushroom Caravan Overdrive. That place had a magical feeling and so much great underground bands. It really showed the face and future of the great Swedish heavy rock scene.
We have played the songs on the album live this summer and fall and the response has been fantastic. We’re from the small town Nyköping but we hope that we have built up a good reputation in Stockholm. The release party showed proof on that when it was packed full with a long queue outside the entire night.
5. There are a few shows coming up this month and in November/December, but will Mamont tour outside of Sweden to support the album? Are there any other gigs in the works maybe for 2013?
We have played really much recently and are now working on getting more gigs. Unfortunately we don’t have any shows planned for 2013, yet. We want to play as much as possible but right now we only can support the album live in Scandinavia.
But a discussion about touring Europe is going on right now. That’s our goal and we hope it will be true next summer or fall.
6. Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?
For the people that hate the CD format, we have some good news coming up.
Posted in Features on June 8th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
One faces the prospect of a “final” Candlemass album as one might face a gallows, and yet, it’s hard to imagine bassist, founder and principle songwriter Leif Edling would have it any other way. For nigh on 30 frickin’ years, Candlemass has produced some of the genre’s most essential doom, whether it was helping to pave the way for Sabbathian traditionalism on their 1986 debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, infusing a sense of majesty onto 1989′s Tales of Creation, or returning to reclaim their thorned throne with 2005′s Candlemass reunion outing.
That’s a pretty long gap, 1989 to 2005, and that goes to show that if time has been anything to Candlemass, it’s been turbulent. They changed frontmen after Epicus, bringing Messiah Marcolin in to replace session vocalist Johan Längquist — with whom they’d later reunite for a special 25th anniversary set at Roadburn in 2011 delayed a year by, what else, a volcano — and ’90s era offerings like Chapter VI (1992), Dactylis Glomerata (1998) and From the 13th Sun (1999) never managed to capture quite the same spirit as their counterparts of the 1980s. Candlemass broke up in the mid-’90s while Edling pursued his Abstrakt Algebra project, and despite a few live releases and compilations that followed From the 13th Sun, it wouldn’t be until 2005 that the band really got its footing back.
Even when they did, the tumult continued. Marcolin — thought by many to be an essential component in the band’s sound — was unceremoniously removed from the picture as the band made ready to follow-up the self-titled, and Texas native Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus was brought in as his replacement. The resulting King of the Grey Islands (2007) was a triumph, and 2009′s Death Magic Doom found Candlemass touring the US for the first time in more than two decades, but it was also their last album for Nuclear Blast. Shortly after it was announced they’d signed to Napalm Records, word followed that Psalms for the Dead (released today, June 8, and reviewed here) would be the last Candlemass record.
And even that wasn’t the end of the drama. Last Saturday, June 2, the band broke the news that Lowe, in turn, was out of Candlemass, would be replaced for all subsequent tours by Mats Levén — who nearly took the spot in the wake of the fallout with Marcolin and who also sings for Edling‘s ongoing second band, Krux — and that Hammond organist Per Wiberg (ex-Opeth, Spiritual Beggars) would also be joining for live shows. So, if nothing else, Candlemass earns plenty of points for consistency.
The interview that follows took place May 17, on what was announced as the only press day Edling would be doing for the album, so the Lowe situation had yet to unfold, but the discussion did turn to the band’s development with the singer over the course of his three LPs with them, what went into the decision to have Psalms for the Dead be their last record, who’s doing the voiceover on closer “Black as Time,” just what inspired “Dancing in the Temple (Of the Mad Queen Bee),” their Roadburn set with Längquist, his plans for when the band is done, a recent run-in with counterfeit Sabbath memorabilia, and more.
You’ll find the complete Q&A here after the jump. Please enjoy.