Friday Full-Length: Demon Cleaner, The Freeflight

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Demon Cleaner, The Freeflight (2000)

Something of a lost classic of its era now, Demon Cleaner‘s 2000 debut, The Freeflight isn’t actually all that lost. Molten Universe, the label that put it out 16 years ago along with early releases by related Swedish acts Dozer and Greenleaf, still has copies available. So maybe not lost, but in the pantheon of the beginnings of Europe’s stoner rock boom of the late ’90s and early ’00s, Demon Cleaner deserve consideration alongside Dozer and Lowrider, among others, and their name is often left off that list. Part of that I think is owed to timing. If the early-Fu Manchu fuzz of “Head Honcho” or “Megawheel” dropped today, it would come accompanied by a video of somebody skateboarding in slow motion and would be hailed for its post-grunge authenticity of tone and live feel. Because it was 2000 — a time when discovering music on the internet was something done largely through surfing somebody’s Napster offerings or the odd message board — the process was different and not nearly so widespread, and unlike Lowrider, who had US distribution through MeteorCity, or Dozer, who kept putting out records, Demon Cleaner called it quits after 2002’s self-titled follow-up (also on Molten Universe), with members moving onto Stonewall Noise Orchestra and drummer Karl Daniel Lidén joining Dozer and Greenleaf before embarking on solo material and a successful career as an engineer — he did the latest Katatonia, for example — so there hasn’t been the same kind of sustained legacy for Demon Cleaner as some of their peers.

That, of course, does nothing to diminish the “Spit blood and gasoline/Chrome and steel/Megawheel” appeal of that track or the nodding roll of “Up in Smoke,” or the push of a song like “Mothertrucker,” in which one can hear the roots of a brand of fuzz rock that countrymen acts like Truckfighters would continue to progress years later. Tone is a huge part of the appeal, as closer “Heading Home” successfully emphasizes, but there’s a rawness in the vocals, a dryness, where so much of what came afterwards was and has been drenched in reverb. It gives the delivery of guitarist Daniel Söderholm — joined at this point by Lidén, guitarist Kimmo Holappa and bassist/vocalist Martin Stangefelt — a punkish feel that’s ultimately much truer to the bulk of what came out of the Californian desert scene, whether it was Kyuss or heavy rock compatriots like the aforementioned Fu Manchu. Listening back to The Freeflight now, one can hear the aesthetic of pre-retro European heavy rock taking shape, and while Demon Cleaner may always be noted for having issued a trio of early splits alongside Dozer before their records dropped, linking those two acts and that scene, their albums deliver something from which even Dozer was operating on a different wavelength, and while of their time, I think these tracks still hold up all these years later.

If you’re worried about investing the time in checking it out, The Freeflight has a long break after “Heading Home” before a hidden cut, so it’s not actually 55 minutes long. I guess it was the Lowrider news earlier today got me thinking about these guys, but either way, I hope you enjoy.

If you’re at Desertfest this weekend in either Berlin or London, I hope you have an absolute blast. I’ll admit to being more than a little jealous. Maybe next year I’ll get to Berlin finally or make a triumphant return to Camden Town. I’ll go anywhere that’ll have me, basically.

Rough week at work but who cares? Dragged down by bullshit. Hate letting it get to me. Hate that it does at all. The list goes on. Screw it. Got a couple days not to think about it, so I’m gonna hold tight to that.

Next week: Monday, track stream from Bright Curse and an in-studio report about the new Scissorfight being tracked at the new Mad Oak. Tuesday (right now), Crypt Sermon interview. Wednesday, track stream from Wo Fat. Thursday and Friday I don’t know yet, but probably something will come along, and there are also videos for Kadavar, Limestone Whale, Spiritual Beggars and Drive by Wire that have all dropped in like the last day, so a bit of a backlog there, but I’ll do my best to get on top of that as well. We’re getting into May already. Amazing how quick this year is going.

Before I go — much as I’m ever “gone,” what with writing on the weekends and all — I want to say thanks for the tremendous amount of support I’ve gotten for the book release, for the All-Dayer in August, and for this year’s Roadburn coverage. It’s all hugely appreciated. Because I work full-time in addition to doing this, I don’t always have the chance to be as communicative as I should, because quite literally the choice I make every day is to write or to do everything else and if it’s one or the other I’m writing every time, but please know that if you’ve reached out to me over the last few weeks, thank you. And if you haven’t and you’re reading this, thank you anyway.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Blues Pills Announce New Album Lady in Gold

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Few and far between are the debut albums that make the kind of impact that did the 2014 self-titled offering from Blues Pills (review here), which seemed to inspire followers as soon as it arrived. The band has toured heavily in Europe since that release, even headlining at Freak Valley last year, and have announced they’ll issue their second long-player this summer via Nuclear Blast. It’s been dubbed Lady in Gold, and while the artwork and obviously audio and an exact release date remain forthcoming, the mere news that such a thing exists and will exist is enough to make note of. I wouldn’t be surprised to find Blues Pills make their US live debut for Lady in Gold sometime over the next year, though of course a lot depends on the response to the record. Which I guess is true all around.

So the pressure’s on Blues Pills. Guess we’ll see how it all works out when the album arrives. Until then, the PR wire:

blues pills (photo by John McMurtrie)

BLUES PILLS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM!

Multi-national newcomer sensation BLUES PILLS have announced the title of their eagerly awaited second album. Lady In Gold is expected to be released during the summer of 2016 and will contain 10 brand new tracks (see full track list below).

Commented singer Elin Larsson on the choice of the album’s title: “Lady gold is a character who symbolizes death. We wanted a twist on the typical stereotype of death being the grim reaper. So instead we made her a lady in gold.”

Lady In Gold track list:
01. Lady In Gold
02. Little Boy Preacher
03. Burned Out
04. I Felt A Change
05. Gone So Long
06. Bad Talkers
07. You Gotta Try
08. Won’t Go Back
09. Rejection
10. Elements And Things

Just as it’s highly successful predecessor Lady In Gold was once again produced by Don Alsterberg (GRAVEYARD, DIVISION OF LAURA LEE, JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ, JERRY WILLIAMS). More info to be revealed soon!

www.BLUESPILLS.com
www.facebook.com/BLUESPILLS
http://twitter.com/BLUESPILLS
www.youtube.com/BLUESPILLS
http://smarturl.it/BLUES-PILLS-NB

Blues Pills, “High Class Woman” official video

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Truckfighters Live in London Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Who’s gonna argue with a Truckfighters live album? Probably not anyone who’s actually seen the band perform. The Swedish fuzz ambassadors have been kicking fuzz rock in the ass with their special brand of calisthenics for 15 years now, and Live in London will be their first live LP in all that time. They reportedly have a new full-length in the works as well to follow-up on 2014’s Universe, but before we get there, Live in London is available now to preorder through the band’s own Fuzzorama Records and offers a full 77-minute set of their high-impact heavy riffs and energetic delivery.

They’ll be at Desertfest London and Berlin this month as well, among others I’m sure. These guys are always headed somewhere. They’ve got a video for “Get Lifted” as well that you can see below that’s as good an advertisement for Live in London as you could ask.

Here’s the release info:

truckfighters live in london

Truckfighters LIVE IN LONDON album!

The Truckfighters releases their first live album 15 years since the band formed back in 2001 and with nearly 1000 gigs performed. Live in London was recorded at Islington Academy, London in Nov 2014 and is here presented in a deluxe package containing two splatter LP’s and a CD, with Mp3 download code included and access to free bonus video material! Yeah that is what we at Fuzzorama records call a deluxe release! The album manages to capture the raw amazing energy of the bands unique live show. The songs are indeed ‘alive’ with many variations from the studio versions of the songs – jammy imporvisational musicianship at it’s best. Do you wish you could go see a crazy live gig whenever you wanted? Now you can! (almost). This album is as close to the real feeling you can possibly get. Truckfighters are probably the best live band in the world and this is probably the best live album in the world. A must for the fan as well as the collector! This album is ”Super phat” according to mr.Dango himself!

Two colored splatter LP’s and a CD in the same item! WOW WOW WOW. Download included and access to free live video material!

This release features a super deluxe packaging. Trifold with printed inner sleeves and cut out of the front logo. And yes the album is great! 77 minutes total playtime – the whole gig!

http://www.truckfighters.com/
http://www.fuzzoramastore.com/en/lp-s/truckfighters-the-chairman-10-signed.html

Truckfighters, “Get Lifted” live in London

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Cities of Mars, Celestial Mistress: Forging Temples (Plus Full EP Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

cities of mars celestial mistress

[Click play above to stream Cities of Mars’ Celestial Mistress EP in full. It’s out Friday, April 8, via Suicide Records.]

Swedish trio Cities of Mars impressed last year with their debut two-songer, Cyclopean Ritual / The Third Eye (streamed here). That release found them not only basking in plus-sized riffing and thick, rolling grooves, but also introduced the lead character, Nadia, whose story continues on the follow-up three-track EP, Celestial Mistress, issued via Suicide Records with intentions toward a 10″ pressing later in 2016. Together, the two offerings seem geared toward establishing a foundation for a first Cities of Mars full-length still to come, but it’s important to note that while the story picking up with Celestial Mistress opener “Gaze of Leviathan” and continuing through “Beneath a Burning Sun” and the sprawl of the 11-minute closing title-track is in progress already at the start of this release, it doesn’t necessarily require one to have heard the prior single to understand what Cities of Mars are going for in terms of sound or overall theme.

We enter with Nadia on Mars. Or, more accurately, beneath it. As the start-stop nod of “Gaze of Leviathan” takes hold, a current of bass rumble from Danne Palm underlying the guitar of Christoffer Norén and the forward cymbal crash of drummer Johan Küchler, the lyrics set the stage for the sci-fi saga playing out. The inclusion of drones or keys in the second verse gives more of a feel that strange things are playing out, and the story follows through there as well, with Nadia making her way underground toward the ancient lost Martian city Bahb-Elon, where she’ll eventually meet the EP’s titular mistress.

Of course, you can engage these songs on that level or not. Out of context, “Gaze of Leviathan” (8:50) offers massive riffs and an infectious, shouted hook that demonstrates clear progression from Cities of Mars‘ initial single while feeling built outward along similar lines, and the subsequent “Beneath a Burning Sun” follows suit structurally and in its push through to its chorus, repeating the title-line as a distinct moment of arrival within it. These songs and “Celestial Mistress” all work just fine on their own, but the narrative deepens the listening experience. “Beneath a Burning Sun” introduces a secondary character — not sure on the name — who was an ancient Martian fighter pilot shot down, and backs up the fluid motion of “Gaze of Leviathan”‘s verses, chorus, solo, ending with an efficient, relatively straightforward take of its own that still opens wide during its initial verse and builds toward its harmonized-shout hook.

cities of mars

As a centerpiece — only three tracks, but still 27 minutes — it provides a landmark that, especially when positioned next to “Celestial Mistress” bodes well for Cities of Mars‘ full-length debut, since it shows not only an ability to vary songwriting around common ideas, but a sense of relating one track to those around it to create an overarching flow, which is something that even a two-song single can’t really accomplish. In its second half, “Beneath a Burning Sun” kicks into faster riffing without losing its central density of swing, and when they turn it back around for a return to the chorus, the effect is unrepentantly righteous. Doesn’t matter if you relate it to Sabbath, or Sleep, or whoever. Done so well, it still sounds heavy as anything.

And as “Beneath a Burning Sun” — presumably that pilot’s aircraft crashed in a Martian desert — winds down its finish in amp noise, the course of Celestial Mistress feels set. The expectation for the title-track is another big hook, more rolling riffs and big tones. Well, it’s still pretty large, all told, but as Nadia confronts the leader of Martian civilization underground, the vibe shifts significantly, and “Celestial Mistress” is much more about spaciousness than impact. Guitars spread wide over an initial movement as rich basslines and ride cymbal provide a sense of motion, and the full-boar riff that takes hold does so after three minutes of build. Dual-vocals from Palm and Norén round out the first verse — all the more spacious — and a moodier sensibility emerges as a more melodic, almost neo-prog metal break arrives at the halfway point, but the course of “Celestial Mistress” is deceptive in that a build is underway already.

Cities of Mars make their way through a few subdued lines before the consuming wall of fuzz kicks back in before the nine-minute mark, Norén topping it with a final lead that, much to the band’s credit, isn’t layered over a line of rhythm guitar, and then rounding out with a last chorus and instrumental roll to end the track cold in a way that suggests “to be continued…” without actually saying it. Whatever it does for the plotline that has run throughout their two releases to-date, Celestial Mistress broadens the scope of Cities of Mars‘ work overall, and finds them as able to conjure an atmosphere as they are to slam their audience with tonal heft. To be blunt, they use both to excellent effect, and as like the single before it, Celestial Mistress was recorded by Esben Willems (also of Monolord), there’s even more a continuity of sound tying their work together. Writing songs that tell a story over multiple releases can be tricky as a band progresses in their style, but like Nadia deep in an underground Martian tunnel, Cities of Mars seem to have no trouble with navigation.

Cities of Mars on Thee Facebooks

Cities of Mars on Bandcamp

Cities of Mars on Instagram

Cities of Mars website

Suicide Records

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Quarterly Review: Eight Bells, Öken, Brimstone Coven, Pants Exploder, Shallows, Monumentum, Famyne, Ethereal Riffian, Wet Cactus, Forming the Void

Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

I thought yesterday went pretty well, by which I mean I didn’t receive any complaints that somebody’s name was spelled wrong (yet), so I feel alright going into the second batch of releases for the Quarterly Review. Today mixes it up a bit, which is something I always enjoy doing with these, and while I’ll take pains to emphasize that the list of releases today, as with every day, isn’t in order, there was no way I wasn’t going to start with the first record below. Some albums just demand top placement.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Eight Bells, Landless

eight bells landless

However you define the word “heavy” as it relates to music, Eight Bells are it. The Portland, Oregon, trio release their second album and first for Battleground Records in the form of the five-track Landless, and from the opening sprawl and lumber of “Hating” through the crawling-plus-blasting chaos of “Touch Me,” a strong progressive current underscores the material – most notably the 13-minute title-track, but really the rest as well, which flows gracefully even in its harshest moments, the blackened rush in the second half of “Landless,” for example, which follows psychedelic drones and harmonies just minutes before, or the similar thrust of centerpiece “Hold My Breath,” which works in tighter quarters but manages to span genres all the same. “The Mortal’s Suite” provides some respite in airy guitar and airier vocals, giving new drummer Rae Amitay a break while showcasing the harmonies of guitarist Melynda Jackson (ex-SubArachnoid Space) and bassist Haley Westeiner. As open atmospherically as the band is in their creative scope, there just isn’t a level on which Landless isn’t superb.

Eight Bells on Thee Facebooks

Battleground Records

 

Öken, Öken

oken oken

Swedish four-piece Öken do themselves huge favors by refusing to be easily categorized on their 2015 self-titled Ozium Records debut full-length, which runs an immersive 62 minutes and blends doom, classic heavy/desert rock and forest psych with subtle grace throughout its eight tracks, each of which is fleshed out in an overarching naturalist atmosphere. “Väktaren” dives headfirst into boogie only after initial minimalist teasing, and “Crimson Moon” bursts to life after a hypnotic psychedelic opening to find its crux in later runs of dueling guitars. The two closing cuts, “Under Vår Sol” and “Cuauhtémoc” are an album unto themselves, the former nodding initially at Sungrazer’s serene vibes before pushing into even more open psychedelic territory, and the latter proffering riffy largesse en route to a striking classic prog finish. That Öken make these elements work side-by-side and transition from one to the other fluidly is emblematic of the confidence at work in the band, and they carry their scope with organic-sounding ease.

Öken on Thee Facebooks

Ozium Records

 

Brimstone Coven, Black Magic

brimstone coven black magic

West Virginian roots doomers Brimstone Coven made their debut on Metal Blade in 2015 with a self-titled EP compilation (track stream here), and Black Magic is their first full-length. Its 10 tracks/54 minutes take cues varyingly from classic heavy rock, doom and the less majestic side of the NWOBHM, but Brimstone Coven’s approach is marked out by the extensive use of vocal harmonies on cuts like the prog-tinged “Beyond the Astral,” the later moments of raw-roller “Upon the Mountain” and “The Plague.” Black Magic’s production is barebones enough that this singing – credited solely to “Big John” Williams, while Corey Roth handles guitar, Andrew D’Cagna bass and Justin Wood drums – doesn’t really soar so much as nestle in and enhance the begging-for-vinyl analog-worship of the instruments surrounding, a proliferation of cultish themes distinguishing Brimstone Coven even as a song like “The Seers” finds them inheriting a trad-doom soulfulness from The Gates of Slumber.

Brimstone Coven on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records

 

Pants Exploder, Pants Exploder

pants exploder pants exploder

Between its vicious aggression, inhumane chug and have-fun-enduring-this stomp, the self-titled, self-released debut LP from Pants Exploder could just as easily be definitive New York noise, but the low-end heft of their assault right from opener “It’s Ok, I’m Wiccan.” (punctuation included in title) has an element of early-Mastodonic lumber, and that’s a thread that continues throughout “End of the World” and “You Don’t Strike Me as a Reader,” which offsets its slab-of-concrete-on-your-chest push with moments of respite, but remains driving in its intensity. As in, driving your head into the ground. Also the ground is pavement. It’s fucking heavy, is the point. To wit, the mega-plod of “Um, I Curated an Art Show in College, So…” and thrust of “God Has a Plan for Me.” Capping with the seven-minute “You Smug Bastard,” Pants Exploder pays off the tension they build in a noise-wash fury that is as impressive as it is scathing.

Pants Exploder on Thee Facebooks

Pants Exploder on Bandcamp

 

Shallows, The Moon Rises

shallows the moon rises

The rather ominous The Moon Rises EP is the first non-demo offering from Asheville, North Carolina, four-piece Shallows, who blend heavy psychedelic and grunge influences across its five tracks, opener “Shimmering” and closer “Distance” mirroring each other’s spacious push while between, “Zero,” “A Mile Beneath” and the Earth-influenced “The Barn Burning” enact gorgeous vocal harmonies between Cameron Zarrabzadeh and HannahLynn Cruey atop atmospheric heavy rock, hitting into Alice in Chains-meets-Kylesa territory on the centerpiece, “A Mile Beneath,” which is a fair bit of ground to cover. That cut is the high point in showcasing Shallows’ potential, but the Western take with “The Barn Burning” and meandering post-rock echoes and organ of “Distance” only add to the breadth of this impressive, too-short collection. With a focus consistently kept on ambience throughout, The Moon Rises flows like a full-length album, and so bodes that much better for what Shallows will be able to accomplish when they get there. I’ll look forward to it.

Shallows on Thee Facebooks

Shallows on Bandcamp

 

Monumentum, The Killer is Me

monumentum the killer is me

Even before they get to the all the aggro fuzz riffing, there’s a distinct threat of violence in Monumentum’s The Killer is Me. Its four songs, “Noose,” “Whore,” “Fiend and Foe” and “Killer Me,” each seem to find the Norwegian band doling out noise-influenced heavy rock, driven by some underlying dissatisfaction on this, their first EP. Released on vinyl through Blues for the Red Sun Records, it offsets being so outwardly pissed off through groove, the starts and stops of “Killer Me” and the rolling seven minutes of opener and longest track “Noose” (immediate points) both marked out for both their tonal weight and the force with which Monumentum push their material forward – not speedy, though “Whore” is by no means slow, but dense and emitting a residual tension all the same. Somewhat unipolar in its mood, The Killer is Me still manages to give an initial impression of what Monumentum are about sound-wise, and provides them with a solid start to work from.

Monumentum on Thee Facebooks

Blues for the Red Sun Records

 

Famyne, Famyne

famyne famyne

While the UK isn’t at all short on doom or sludge at this point, Canterbury five-piece Famyne distinguish themselves on their self-titled first EP with a traditional take and the at-times theatric harmonies of vocalist Tom Vane. Along with guitarists Alex Tolson and Alex Williams, bassist Chris Travers and drummer Jake Cook, Vane nods at Alice in Chains on lumbering opener “Enter the Sloth” without going full-on “hey whoa momma yeah” and provides a considerable frontman presence, particularly for a debut recording. Comprising three songs with the speedier bonus track “Long Lost Winter” as an add-on download with the CD version, Famyne’s Famyne EP finds its crux in the nod and push of the 10-minute “The Forgotten,” which takes a cue atmospherically from The Wounded Kings but finds its own, less-cultish niche in bringing new energy to classic doom and setting in motion a progression that already puts an individual stamp on established tenets.

Famyne on Thee Facebooks

Famyne on Bandcamp

 

Ethereal Riffian, Youniversal Voice

ethereal riffian youniversal voice

There’s patient, and then there’s Ethereal Riffian, whose riffy ritualizing and exploration nonetheless brims with some intangible energetic sensibility on their new live outing, Youniversal Voice. Heavy psychedelic wash, thick riffs, theatric vocals and guitar effects, stoner roll and the occasional fit of shredding, one might hear any of it at a given point in over-12-minute cuts like “Wakan Tanka” and “Anatman,” the latter which arrives as the penultimate of the eight-song/56-minute set. The clarity, for being a live album, is remarkable, and Ethereal Riffian add to the experience with a CD version that includes a candle, elaborate packaging and artwork, and tea, so the multi-sensory impression is obviously important, and where many live outings are throwaways or a means of bowing to contractual obligation, Youniversal Voice adds to Ethereal Riffian’s studio work a substantial ambassasorial feel, conveying an onstage vibe with a fullness of sound and clarity of mind not often heard.

Ethereal Riffian on Thee Facebooks

Ethereal Riffian on Bandcamp

 

Wet Cactus, Wet Cactus

wet cactus wet cactus

Desert rock trio Wet Cactus don’t make any bones about where they’re getting their influence from on their late-2015 self-titled second EP. By the time they get around to the penultimate “The Road” on the five-track/24-minute outing, they’ve dug themselves in deep into the worship of crunchy Kyuss-style riffing, and you can throw in looks for Unida, Queens of the Stone Age, Slo Burn and whoever else of that milieu, but Kyuss is at the root of it all anyway. Less grand in their production than UK outfit Steak, who operated in similar territory on their 2014 debut LP, Slab City, Wet Cactus keep it natural in the tradition of their forebears, and while there’s room for them to grow into a more individual approach, the hazy fuckall in closer “World’s Law” has a stoner charm before and after it kicks into a punkish push to close out. Cool vibe either way, and the tone is dead on. If these cats go jammier, watch out.

Wet Cactus on Thee Facebooks

Odio Sonoro

 

Forming the Void, Skyward

forming the void skyward

I won’t say a bad word about the artwork of David Paul Seymour in the context of this review or any other, but ultimately, Louisiana doomers Forming the Void are coming from someplace much more in line with progressive metal than the three-eyed goat and robed figures on the cover of their second album, Skyward, might represent. Again, that’s not a knock on Seymour, or for that matter, the band, just that the look of the record is deceptive, dogwhistling stonerisms even as moody cuts like the opening title-track and “Three Eyed Gazelle” – while thoroughly doomed in their vibe – prove more lucidly constructed. That holds true through the chugging centerpiece “Saber” as well, marked out by vocal harmonizing, and “Return Again,” which rolls through atmospheric metal and an ambient interlude to enact the record’s most memorable payoff and set up the linear course of the more patient closer “Sleepwalker.” Cohesive in mood and clearly plotted, Skyward is ultimately darker and more driven than it might at first appear.

Forming the Void on Thee Facebooks

Forming the Void on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Wheel in the Sky, Sun Dial, LSD & the Search for God, Duel, The Canadian Sweetmen, Wren, Transient, Desert Storm & Suns of Thunder, Telstar Sound Drone, Fantasy Arcade

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

So it begins. I’d say this one snuck up on me, but the terrible truth of these things is that there are months of planning involved. You know the drill by now: Between today and Friday, I’ll be posting 50 record reviews in batches of 10 per day, and that’s the Quarterly Review. They’re not really in any order. Some have been out for a while, some aren’t out yet. I have tried to mark 2015 stuff where possible, if only to keep my own organizational modus straight. We’ll see how that goes as the week plays out. In any case, I hope you find something here that you dig. I know I have.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Wheel in the Sky, Heading for the Night

wheel in the sky heading for the night

Although Wheel in the Sky’s presentation is modern enough on their The Sign Records debut album, Heading for the Night, to steer them clear of Sweden’s boogie-mad masses, they’re still very clearly taking influence from classic rock, most notably The Who on cuts like opener “Fire, Death to All” (also the longest track; immediate points), “Total Eclipse of the Brain” and “Thrust in the Night.” The clarity of sound and approach puts them more in line with bands like The Golden Grass and, for a countrymen example, Troubled Horse, than Graveyard, and the Uppsala/Stockholm four-piece distinguish themselves further through the dual-lead interplay of “A Turn for the Wicked,” which hints just a bit toward Thin Lizzy bounce to feed into closer “God on High,” which coats its vocals in echo to add a sense of grandeur before the last instrumental push, which picks up the pace at the end to cap a first album from a band clearly looking to find their own niche within a classic heavy rock feel.

Wheel in the Sky on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records

 

Sun Dial, Mind Control

sun dial mind control

Offered first by the band in 2012 and reissued through Sulatron Records with two bonus tracks from the same recording session, Sun Dial’s Mind Control puts the long-running UK psych/space rockers in their element in a kosmiche expanse quickly on “Mountain of Fire and Miracles,” and while electronic experimentation is a factor throughout “Radiation” and “Burned In,” there’s always a human spirit underneath and sometimes out front in what Sun Dial do, and the newly-included “Seven Pointed Star” and “World Within You” fit in with the sense of acid ritual that the original album tracks convey, the title cut transposing Hawkwindian warp drive on a more relaxed atmosphere, each measure seemingly a mantra in a longer meditation. Even with its wah-soaked ending, “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” has a more straightforward tack, proving that even when you think you know what a group like Sun Dial are up to, you’re probably wrong.

Sun Dial on Thee Facebooks

Mind Control at Sulatron Records

 

LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place

lsd and the search for god heaven is a place

The second EP from San Francisco-based shoegazing psychedelic rockers LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place, arrives a whopping nine years after its self-titled predecessor. Granted, it might be the wash of effects and the almost-whispered vocal melodies that seem to barely break the surface of the waves of airy distortion, but if any of this material goes back that far, it doesn’t show its age. The five-piece – guitarist/vocalist Andy Liszt, vocalist Sophia Cambell, guitarist Chris Fifield, bassist Ryan Lescure and drummer Ricky Maymi – offer five tracks of blissed-out, dripping wet vibe, with “Outer Space (Long Way Home)” at the center of a post-grunge swirl following the cosmic push of “(I Don’t Think that We Should) Take it Slow” and before the serenity of “Elizabeth” takes hold as a lead-in for seven-minute finale “Without You,” simultaneously the most lucid and dreamy of the cuts included. Nine years is a long time. Heaven is a Place begs for a quicker follow-up.

LSD and the Search for God on Thee Facebooks

LSD and the Search for God on Bandcamp

 

Duel, Fears of the Dead

duel fears of the dead

Austin purveyors Duel make a striking impression from the cover onward with their Heavy Psych Sounds full-length debut, Fears of the Dead. The four-piece, which by all reports features two former members of Scorpion Child, get down with classic swing on the opening title-track and thereby broadcast the intent of the album as a whole, bringing ‘70s-style grooves and boogie forward in time with modern fullness and a crisp production that highlights the gruff vocals of guitarist Tom Frank, who alongside bassist/vocalist Shaun Avants, guitarist Derek Halfmann and drummer JD Shadowz, swaggers through the record’s eight included slabs as one might through a crowded venue for the next in a long series of an evening’s beers. Later cuts like “When the Pigs are Fed” and 7:52 closer “Locked Outside” bring some more variety to the approach, but the heart of Fears of the Dead remains brash and unbridled, and one doubts if Duel would have it any other way.

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Heavy Psych Sounds

 

The Canadian Sweetmen, Intro b/w New Cigarettes

the canadian sweetmen intro new cigarettes

One might blink and miss the debut single from somewhat mysterious psychedelic rockers The Canadian Sweetmen, which totals its A and B sides together for a runtime of about four and a half minutes, but the fact that the 90-second “Intro” (the A side) manages to marry The Velvet Underground and The Beach Boys in that span is definitely something worth taking the time to note. There’s just about no information on the band as to who they are, where they come from, where they’re going, etc., but the three-minute “New Cigarettes” makes an impression on style and substance alike and offers an encouraging glimpse at what seems to be a psychedelia bolstered by organ and Rhodes and unbound by a need to adhere to genre tenets. “Intro” doesn’t even stick around long enough to do so, but “New Cigarettes” careens into a rhythmic push for its chorus that offers an earthy undertone to the heady, spaced-out vibe. More please.

The Canadian Sweetmen Tumblr

The Canadian Sweetmen on Soundcloud

 

Wren, Host

wren host

Absolutely devastating. UK post-sludgers Wren dole out a punishment that won’t be soon forgotten on their second EP, Host (on Holy Roar), following up the blackened post-rock of their 2014 self-titled EP (review here) and their 2015 split with Irk (review here) with four pummeling but still richly atmospheric cuts. Working now as the lineup of Owen Jones, Chris Pickering, Robert Letts and John McCormick, Wren have had three different vocalists on their three releases, but not a one of them has failed to add to the ambience and crushing impression of their riffs, and the hook of “No Séance” particularly on Host signifies that despite whatever lineup shifts they may have had, Wren continue to progress and refine their attack. “Stray,” “No Séance,” “The Ossuary” and “Loom” are unshakable, deeply weighted and righteously spaced. They may have flown somewhat under the radar up to this point, but Wren are too loud to be a well kept secret for much longer.

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Wren on Bandcamp

 

Transient, Transient

transient transient

Some 12 years after their initial demo surfaced in 2003, Massachusetts’ Transient present an atmospheric take on alt-metal with their self-titled debut full-length, self-released last fall. Bringing together nine tracks/46 minutes with a patient but tense pacing and underlying currents of progressive metal in cuts like “Ditch of Doubt” and “Wrong Time,” it unfolds gracefully with the intro “Voyager One” and finds an aggressive burst in “Wrong Time” and the Tool-gone-psych build of the penultimate “Slightest Scare.” That song is part of an extended two-cut closing suite with “Hold this Grudge,” which highlights Scott McCooe’s bass tone as it provides a surprising but satisfying laid back finish. McCooe, joined here by guitarist/vocalist Tim Hayes and drummer John Harris, splits his time with metalcore progenitors Overcast, and as Transient was recorded over a year’s stretch and then mixed and mastered a year after that – living up to the band’s name – it may be a while before a follow-up, but after so long from their demo, it’s still a welcome debut.

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Transient on Bandcamp

 

Desert Storm & Suns of Thunder, Split

desert storm suns of thunder split

Issued by H42 Records in a limited edition for this year’s Desertfest, the new split 7” from UK heavy platoons Desert Storm and Suns of Thunder is so dudely they could sell it as vitamin supplements on late-night tv. A complex critique of gender it is not, heavy it is. One track from each band. Desert Storm bring the burl of “Signals from Beyond,” which with its strong hook and gravely vocals brings to mind Orange Goblin nestled into a nodding riff. For Swansea’s Suns of Thunder, it’s “Earn Your Stripes,” with its complex vocal arrangements for lyrics about small men and big men, paying your dues and other whathaveyou that dominant culture tells those with testicles will make them more complete people. Fine. Masculinity and femininity are scams to sell pants, but “Earn Your Stripes” is catchy as all anything and “Signals from Beyond” is even catchier than however catchy that is, so a testosterone overdose seems a small price to pay.

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Suns of Thunder on Thee Facebooks

 

Telstar Sound Drone, Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles

telstar sound drone magical solutions to everyday problems

Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles is the second album from Copenhagen-based auralnauts Telstar Sound Drone, and like much of what Bad Afro releases, it presents a strong temptation to drop out, tune in and turn on. Little surprise the band is something of an offshoot from Baby Woodrose, sharing guitarist Mads Saaby and drummer Hans Beck with the seminal garage rockers, but the lush impression made on “Something I Can’t Place” with the watery vocals of Sean Jardenbæk comes from an even more lysergic place, and the experimental side that comes through on “Closer Again,” “Dark Kashmir” and the languid “Dead Spaces” is a multi-tiered dreamscape that closer “Lean down on White” seems sad to leave. Reasonably so. With guest spots from members of Spids Nøgenhat, Bite the Bullet and Baby Woodrose (Kåre Joensen on bass/synth), Telstar Sound Drone’s sophomore outing is an otherworldly psychedelic vision that, as promised, does seem to cure what ails, exciting even in its most subdued moments.

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Bad Afro Records

 

Fantasy Arcade, Fantasy Arcade

fantasy arcade fantasy arcade

Initially offered by the band in 2012 and subsequently pressed to a six-song 7” and jewel case CD, the self-titled debut EP from San Diego trio Fantasy Arcade only runs about 11 minutes, but that’s all it needs to bring together punk, thrash, sludge and heavy rock across fuckall-heavy cuts like “The Dwarves are Missing” – the longest song here at 3:38 – and the rumbling finale “Die Before You Suck,” which gallops and shouts and seems to crash into walls on its way out, though drummer/vocalist Adam, bassist/vocalist Chris and guitarist Mike actually do well in deciding when to keep control and when to let it go. More nuanced than it lets on, Fantasy Arcade is an aggressive pulse given to moments of frustration boiling over, but being rooted in metal as much as punk, its dwelling in two worlds gives heft to the freneticism at play, as shown in “Poison Arrow,” the first half of which runs at a sprint right into the brick wall slowdown of its second, and final, minute.

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Fantasy Arcade on Bandcamp

 

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Dozer: More 20th Anniversary Video Posted

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

dozer centerline video

Swedish heavy rockers Dozer continue the video series started earlier this year to mark their 20th anniversary as a band. The latest two clips on offer both come from 2002, one from Berlin, Germany, one from who-knows-where in Europe, and find the band playing cuts from their second album, 2001’s Madre de Dios and a 1998 Molten Universe split with fellow Swedes Demon Cleaner that preceded the release of their first full-length, In the Tail of a Comet, in 2000. “Centerline,” the track from that split, represents an era of the band that I continue to feel like has been tragically overlooked.

Dozer, in addition to their 1998 demo, Universe 75 (discussed here), and their 1998 Coming Down the Mountain EP that wound up as a split with Unida the next year, had a trilogy of split releases with Demon Cleaner in ’98 and ’99. All issued via Molten Universe, Demon Cleaner vs. Dozer, Hawaiian Cottage and Domestic Dudes featured two songs each from each band, and to the best of my knowledge that material has never been reissued. Granted, the earliest post-Kyuss desert rock style they showed on those offerings was a long way from what they’d become by the time a decade had passed and they released 2008’s Beyond Colossal — their final outing to-date — but hell, not even a reissue?

I’ve been campaigning the last few years in my quiet way for an early works compilation from Dozer similar to that which Church of Misery first released in 2004, and I think this version of “Centerline” makes another solid argument in favor thereof. Whether or not that will ever happen — hasn’t yet — I don’t know, but for all that Dozer accomplished in the decade between 1999 and 2009, it seems like it’s a stage of the band worth not leaving out of the conversation.

Enjoy “Centerline” and “Full Circle” below:

Dozer, “Centerline” Live in Europe, 2002

Dozer, “Full Circle” Live in Berlin, 2002

20 years is a long time but it sometimes feels as yesterday when we started the band back in 1995. In the following weeks we´ll be putting up some live footage from these past 20 years, recorded with a simple camcorder, so bear with us that the audio and video is not top notch. We enjoyed watching these old vids anyway and hope you do too.

Centerline live in 2002 somewhere in Europe.

Full Circle live in Berlin, Germany 2002.

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Dozer on YouTube

Dozer website

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Katatonia Release The Fall of Hearts May 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

katatonia

After announcing back in November that they were in the studio, Swedish masters of melancholy Katatonia have confirmed a May 20 release for their upcoming 10th long-player, The Fall of Hearts, through Peaceville Records. The album was tracked by the band itself with mixing and engineering done by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Devin Townsend, etc.) and Karl Daniel Lidén (GreenleafDozerDemon Cleaner, etc.), and they’ll support it by playing a slew of European festivals this summer, including Summer Breeze — is it my imagination or is this the first Summer Breeze fest in a long time? — in Germany and Hellfest in France.

Live dates, the striking cover art and more album background follow, all off the PR wire:

katatonia the fall of hearts

KATATONIA ANNOUNCES DETAILS OF HIGHLY ANTICIPATED NEW STUDIO ALBUM, REVEALS NEW LINE-UP

10th studio album “The Fall of Hearts” out May 20 on Peaceville

Katatonia, the Swedish purveyor of dark progressive rock/metal, has revealed details of its eagerly awaited 10th studio album, The Fall of Hearts, set for release on the May 20, 2016 through the band’s long-time home of Peaceville Records.

The band commented: “This album is probably everything we unknowingly ever dreamed of to release. It’s a bleak but adventurous journey through our elements, we haven’t held back, we have pushed to get forward and backward in the ever spiraling night of our musical legacy.”

The official follow-up to 2012’s acclaimed Dead End Kings was recorded at Stockholm’s Studio Gröndahl & Tri-lamb Studio, and was self-produced by Anders Nyström and Jonas Renkse. Mixing and mastering duties were carried out by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Ihsahn, Devin Townsend) at Fascination Street Studios, with Karl Daniel Lidén (Switchblade, The Ocean, Greenleaf) brought in as engineer.

The dramatic yet desolate artwork was created by long time Katatonia designer and illustrator Travis Smith.

Katatonia has spent the past four years since the release of Dead End Kings touring the world, as well as expanding its fan base through two special albums on Kscope, the sister label of Peaceville. 2013 saw the release of Dethroned & Uncrowned which exploded the core of the songs on Dead End Kings creating new moods and textures. In 2015, the band released the live acoustic album and concert film, Sanctitude. Both releases illustrate the band’s journey toward this, its current more progressive sound.

The Fall of Hearts is the first record to feature new drummer Daniel ‘Mojjo’ Moilanen along with the addition of recently recruited guitarist Roger Öjersson (Tiamat), who came in just in time to sprinkle some blistering solos on the album. With its new lineup, Katatonia will continue to push its musical boundaries beyond its roots in the metal scene while drawing in new fans from across the musical spectrum like peers such as Opeth and Anathema have also done, cementing Katatonia’s place as one of the most revered and cherished of all bands in the world of modern heavy music.

Katatonia live:
3/12 – Gothenburg, Sweden @ Metal Town Festival
4/29 – Kopervik, Norway @ Karmoygeddon Festival
6/19 – Clisson, France @ Hellfest
7/03 – Helsinki, Finland @ Tuska Festival
7/09 – Bouckenborgh, Belgium @ Anterwerp Metal Festival
7/10 – Bouckenborgh, Belgium @ Anterwerp Metal Festival
8/05 – Corroios, Portugal @ Vagos Open Air Festival
8/17 – Dinkelsbühl, Germany @ Summer Breeze Festival
8/18 – Dinkelsbühl, Germany @ Summer Breeze Festival
8/19 – Dinkelsbühl, Germany @ Summer Breeze Festival
8/20 – Dinkelsbühl, Germany @ Summer Breeze Festival

Katatonia is:
Jonas Renkse – Vocals
Anders Nyström – Guitar
Roger Öjersson – Guitar
Niklas Sandin – Bass
Daniel Moilanen – Drums

www.katatonia.com
www.facebook.com/katatonia
https://twitter.com/KatatoniaBand

Katatonia, The Fall of Hearts teaser

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