Posted in Whathaveyou on July 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Congratulations to Australian riffers Aver on signing to Ripple Music, and I promise I didn’t know that was happening earlier this week when I included their Nadiralbum in the Quarterly Review. Fair enough. Ripple will have a pressing of Nadir out sometime later in 2015 — or maybe 2016, considering the year’s already more than half over — so that those who got stoked on the digital release will be able to have one to take home and put on the shelf. Maybe vinyl-size will be big enough to figure out just what the hell is going on with that cover art.
The announcement follows, courtesy of the PR wire:
Ripple Music is pleased to announce the signing of Australian band AVER and with it, the official international release of their sophomore album Nadir.
Originally self-released earlier in the year to an online fanfare from a dedicated few amid the stoner/psych community, the album has already proven itself to be one of the most exciting and distinctive alternative records of 2015. Fearlessly taking their music exactly where it needs to go, and packing enough technical nous and talent to power an exploratory vessel of sound and substance, at over an hour in length Nadir exposes listeners to soaring instrumentals, heavy psychedelia and spine-crushing progressive cadences. Weighted somewhere between the worlds, galaxies and supernovae of stoner metal and space rock, for the quartet – who originally formed on the Northern shores of Sydney back in 2008 – their signing to the Californian label heralds yet another stellar addition to the ever growing Ripple Music Family, and the beginning of a journey out of the underground and into the void.
While an official release date for the album will follow soon, in the meantime, sit back, strap yourselves in and take a trip and experience AVER’s magnificent ‘Rising Sun’.
Posted in Reviews on June 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I said back in March that I was going to try to make the Quarterly Review a regular feature around here, and once it was put out there, the only thing to do was to live up to it. Over the last several — like, five — weeks, I’ve been compiling lists of albums to be included, and throughout the next five days, we’re going to make our way through that list. From bigger names to first demos and across a wide swath of heavy styles, there’s a lot of stuff to come, and I hope within all of it you’re able to find something that hits home or speaks to you in a special way.
No sense in delaying. Hold nose, dive in.
Quarterly Review #1-10:
Relatively newcomer trio Foehammer specialize in grueling, slow-motion punishment. Their self-titled debut EP follows a well-received 2014 demo and is three tracks/34 minutes released by Grimoire and Australopithecus Records of doomed extremity, the Virginian three-piece of guitarist Joe Cox (ex-Gradius), bassist/vocalist Jay Cardinell (ex-Gradius, ex-Durga Temple) and drummer Ben “Vang” Blanton (ex-Vog, also of The Oracle) not new to the Doom Capitol-area underground by any stretch and seeming to pool all their experience to maximize the impact of this extended material. Neither “Final Grail,” “Stormcrow” nor 14-minute closer “Jotnar” is without a sense of looming atmosphere, but Foehammer at this point are light only on drama, and the lower, sludgier and more crushing they go, the more righteous the EP is for it. Stunningly heavy and landing with a suitable shockwave, it is hopefully the beginning of a long, feedback-drenched tenure in death-doom, and if the EP is over half an hour, the prospect of a follow-up debut full-length seems overwhelming. Easily one of the year’s best short releases.
It’s not like they were lying when they decided to call a song “Shroom Doom.” Melbourne double-guitar four-piece made their self-titled debut as Holy Serpent last year, and the five-track full-length was picked up for release on RidingEasy Records no doubt for its two-front worship of Uncle Acid’s slither and jangle – especially prevalent on the eponymous opener and closer “The Wind” – and the now-classic stonerism of Sleep. That blend comes together best of all on the aforementioned finale, but neither will I take away from the north-of-10-minute righteousness of “The Plague” preceding, with its slow roll and malevolent vibe that, somehow, still sounds like a party. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Scott Penberthy, guitarist Nick Donoughue, bassist Michael Macfie and drummer Keith Ratnan, the real test for Holy Serpent will be their second or third album – i.e., how they develop the psychedelic nodes of centerpiece “Fools Gold” along with the rest of their sound – but listening to these tracks, it’s easy to let the future worry about itself.
There are a variety of influences at work across Wicked Inquisition’s self-titled debut long-player, from the Sabbath references of its eponymous closer to the earlier thrashery of “In Shackles” and “Sun Flight,” but the core of the Minneapolis four-piece resides in a guitar-led brand of metal, whatever else they decide to build around it. Guitarist/vocalist Nate Towle, guitarist Ben Stevens, bassist Jordan Anderson and drummer Jack McKoskey align tightly around the riffs of “M.A.D.” in all-business fashion. Shades of Candlemass show up in some of the slower material, “M.A.D.” included as well as with “Crimson Odyssey,” but the start-stops of “Tomorrow Always Knows” ensure the audience is clued in that there’s more going on than just classic doom, though a Trouble influence seems to hover over the proceedings as well, waiting to be more fully explored as the band moves forward.
Clocking in at an hour flat, Sydney all-caps riffers AVER construct their second album, Nadir, largely out of familiar elements, but wind up with a blend of their own. Fuzz is prevalent in the extended nod of opener “The Devil’s Medicine” (9:46) which bookends with the longest track, finisher “Waves” (9:48), though it’s not exactly like the four-piece are shy about writing longer songs in between. The production, while clear enough, lends its focus more toward the low end, which could be pulling in another direction from the impact of some of Nadir’s psychedelia on “Rising Sun” second half solo, but neither will I take anything away from Jed’s bass tone, which could carry this hour of material were it asked. The vocals of guitarist Burdt have a distinct Acid Bathian feel, post-grunge, and that contrasts a more laid back vibe even on the acoustic-centered “Promised Lands,” but neither he, Jed, guitarist Luke or drummer Chris feel out of place here, and I’m not inclined to complain.
Sweet, classic and very, very British folk pervades the gorgeously melodic and meticulously arranged Silence and Tears by London six-piece Galley Beggar, released on Rise Above. The eight-track/40-minute album packs neatly onto a vinyl release and has near-immediate psychedelic underpinnings in the wah of opener “Adam and Eve,” and side B’s “Geordie” has some heavier-derived groove, but it’s the beauty and lushness of the harmonies throughout (finding satisfying culmination in closer “Deliver Him”) that stand Galley Beggar’s third offering out from worshipers of a ‘60s and ‘70s era aesthetic. The highlight of Silence and Tears arrives early in nine-minute second cut “Pay My Body,” a wonderfully swaying, patient excursion that gives equal time to instrumental exploration and vocal accomplishment, but to a select few who let themselves be truly hypnotized and carried along its winding course, the album’s entire span will prove a treasure to be revisited for years to come and whose sunshiny imprint will remain vivid.
With inspiration reportedly from the 1977 demon-possession horror flick Alucarda, Las Vegas doomers Demon Lung return with A Dracula, their second offering via Candlelight Records after 2013’s The Hundredth Name, and as the movie begins with a birth, so too do we get “Behold, the Daughter” following the intro “Rursumque Alucarda,” later mirrored by a penultimate interlude of the same name. Billy Anderson produced, so it’s not exactly a surprise that the slow, undulating riffs and the periodic bouts of more upbeat chug, as on “Gypsy Curse,” come through nice and viscous, but vocalist Shanda brings an ethereal melodic sensibility, not quite cult rock, but on “Mark of Jubilee” presenting momentarily some similarly bleak atmospherics to those of the UK’s Undersmile, her voice seeming to command the guitars to solidify from their initial airiness and churn out an eerie apex, which closer “Raped by the Serpent” pushes further for a raging finale.
Spirit Division’s self-titled debut full-length follows a 2014 demo that also hosted three of the tracks – opener “Spirit Division,” “Through the Rounds” and “Mountain of Lies” – but is fuller-sounding in its post-grunge tonality and doomly chug than the earlier offering, guitarist/vocalist Stephen Hoffman, bassist/vocalist Chris Latta and drummer/vocalist David Glass finding a straightforward route through moody metallurgy and weighted riffage. Some Wino-style swing shows up on “Bloodletting,” and “Cloud of Souls” has a decidedly militaristic march to its progression, while the later “Red Sky” revels in classic doom that seems to want to be just a touch slower than it is, but what ultimately unites the material is the strong sense of purpose across the album’s span and Spirit Division’s care in the vocal arrangements. The production is somewhat dry, but Spirit Division walk the line between sludge rock and doom and seem comfortable in that sphere while also sparking a creative progression that seems well worth further pursuit.
I was all set to include a different Space Mushroom Fuzz album in this roundup, but then I saw that the project was coming to an end and Until Next Time was issued as the band’s final release. The deal all along with the band headed by guitarist/vocalist Adam Abrams (also Blue Aside) has been that you never really know what he’s going to do next. Fair enough. Abrams brings it down in suitably bizarre fashion, a keyboard and guitar line backing “Class Onion” in direct mockery of Beatlesian bounce, where “The DeLorean Takes Off!” before compiles five-plus minutes of experimental noise and “Follow that DeLorean” answers with another round after. Elsewhere, opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Here Comes Trouble” resonates with its central guitar line and unfolds to further oddity with a quiet but gruff vocal, while “The Rescue” vibes like something Ween would’ve conjured after huffing roach spray (or whatever was handy) and closer “Back in ‘55” moves from progressive soloing to froggy singing and weirdo jangle. All in all a strange and fitting end to the band.
Santa Cruz trio Mountain Tamer have been kicking around the West Coast for the last several years, and since they released a full-length, Liquid Metal, in 2013, and a prior EP in 2012’s The Glad, it’s tempting to try to read some larger shift sonically into their MTN TMR Demo, as though having completely revamped their sound, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Andru, bassist/vocalist Dave Teget and drummer/vocalist Casey Garcia trying out new ideas as they redirect their approach. That may well be the case, with “Satan’s Waitin’,” “Sum People” and “Dunes of the Mind” each standing at over five-minutes of neo-stoner roll, more psychedelic than some in the growing fuck-it-let’s-skate oeuvre, but still plainly born after, or at least during, grunge. The finisher comes to a thrilling, noisy head as it rounds out the short release, and if Mountain Tamer are taking on a new path, it’s one well set to meander and I hope they continue to follow those impulses.
Like their late-2014 debut, Bloom, OHHMS’ sophomore outing, Cold, is comprised of two extended tracks. Here the Canterbury five-piece bring “The Anchor” (18:30) and “Dawn of the Swarm” (14:27), blending modern prog, sludge and post-metallic vibes to suit a melodic, ambitious purpose. Atmosphere is central from the quiet drone starting “The Anchor” and remains so as they lumber through a linear build and into an apex at about 13 minutes in, dropping out to quiet only to build back up to a striking melodic push that ends on a long fade. Side B, “Dawn of the Swarm” is more immediately post-rock in the guitar, the lineup of vocalist Paul Waller, guitarists Daniel Sargent and Marc George, bassist Chainy Chainy and drummer Max Newton moving through hypnotic sprawl into angular Isis-ism before finding their own way, the second cut pushing structurally against the first with loud/quiet tradeoffs in a well-timed back half. Clearly a band who arrived knowing their purpose, but not so cerebral as to detract from the heavy landing of the material itself.
In one of the last shows they’ll play under the Kyuss Lives! moniker, Vista Chino joined forces with Orange Goblin and Red Fang (god damn that’s a good show) at the Metro in Sydney, Australia on Feb. 27. All three bands and many others are down that way for the massive Soundwave festival, and Vista Chino closed their pre-encore set with — wait for it — a new song. The title is either “Dragona” or “Gakona,” but likely it’ll be something else entirely by the time their new album streets, so it probably doesn’t matter yet anyway. Joining drummer Brant Bjork, guitarist Bruno Fevery and vocalist John Garcia was C.O.C.‘s Mike Dean on bass.
Here’s their full setlist:
One Inch Man
Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop
I know I already closed out the week, and I hope if this isn’t actually the first video of new Vista Chino someone will correct me, but seeing this, it was too cool not to post. The video’s a little rough (shot on an iPhone), but it should still be enough to give a general idea until something a little cleaner surfaces, which it’s bound to do. Till then, dig you some of this:
Vista Chino, “Dragona” Live in Sydney, Feb. 27, 2013
Posted in On the Radar on July 27th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Priding themselves on their genre-blending approach, all-caps double-guitar Aussie four-piece AVER start off psychedelic on their self-titled, self-released full-length. Don’t be fooled, though: it’s not long before they’re kicking into some riff-driven grunge, vocalist/guitarist Burdt digging in deep and coming out with Nirvana-style vocals and the occasional well-placed scream. The sound resulting is vaguely stoner — if the first Snail album was, anyway — and cuts like “Real Eyes” set the varying elements of their sound directly against each other without coming off like an indiscernible mash.
The moody “Retreat to Space” is underscored by far-back drumming and ambient guitar lines before picking up into one of AVER‘s more potent grooves, and the payoff in the later “Stoneage Wasteland” proves to be worth the wait of the build prior. Their ’90s feel might be the most cohesive element in AVER‘s sound — right down to the mostly-unplugged closer “Phantom Limb” — since everything else they do comes across as building off that, but the blend is most definitely their own, and as a fan of rock from corners of the planet far from my own, it was a thrill to have them reach out and ask me to take a listen.
Wow. I guess if you don’t read this site regularly, that headline makes no fucking sense whatsoever. So be it. Mysterious headlines are totally tr00 kvlt.
Aussie rockers Buffalo issued one of the great underground classics of the heavy ’70s in the form of 1973’s Volcanic Rock. They were never huge in their day, they put out a couple records and lost members, put out a couple more records, and then broke up. Pretty much the story of every band ever. But if you’re a fan of early BlackSabbath and you don’t check out Volcanic Rock, you’re missing out.
It’s another one of those records that I’d had my eye on for what feels like an eternity before I finally gave in and picked it up from eBay. The version I got — a silver-disc in a full jewel case with professionally printed artwork — is nonetheless almost certainly a bootleg. There’s no label information on any of the art, but the disc says “SM The CD Label” and lists its country of origin as West Germany. Cold War boots. Awesome.
Whatever. Unlike every other edition of Volcanic Rock I could find in the wide intertubular expanse, this one was reasonably priced, so no regrets. It’s hard to pick a favorite track among the five killer bluesy, heavy riffing cuts, but I think “Freedom” might just be it. The bassline is too awesome to go ignored, and though opener “Sunrise (Come My Way)” is catchy, the preaching in “The Prophet” is top notch and the riff from “Shylock” is so “Symptom of the Universe” it makes my head want to explode that I didn’t buy this record sooner, there’s a doomed groove to “Freedom” that trumps all.
In the long run, Buffalo‘s second album is probably more known for its artwork — the skull-faced androgyne on top of a lava-menstruating volcano holding aloft a penis-shaped rock — than the music itself, but these songs flat-out rule. I’m glad as hell that I didn’t make a heavy ’70s podcast before picking this one up. Good shit, highly recommended for riff historians and those who, like me, weren’t there the first time around.
Posted in On the Radar on October 6th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
My fascination with Aussie stoner and doom continues with the discovery of Adrift for Days, an unsigned doom/psychedelic blues five-piece from Sydney, whose debut album, The Lunar Maria, was released in August. The album is reportedly seven tracks/71 minutes long, and if the couple of songs the band has posted on their MySpace are any indication, it’s no small wonder. “Bury all That’s Chosen” alone is over 15 minutes, and it hardly feels like the band are stretching it on purpose to hit that mark. Seems like business as usual, in other words.
Going by “Bury all That’s Chosen” and the much shorter “The Leech” (a meager 4:59), what Adrift for Days excel at are the quiet, creepy moments of doom, the lone guitar ba-domp, ba-domps. They get a lot of their bluesy feel from that, Ron Prince and the aptly-monikered Lachlan R. Doomsdale handling riffs and solos throughout while the well-balanced bass of Matt Williams — I always feel like the bass never makes it through MySpace‘s audio compression, so to actually hear it is nice — and drums of Steve Kachoyan provide solid rhythmic foundation.
Mick Kaslik‘s vocals have some of that Anselmo/Down “hey whoa momma yeah” inflection that an entire generation of heavy singers seems to have adopted, but he changes it up on “Bury all That’s Chosen” with some Al Cisneros-style monotone that offsets the rest of the song well, and on “The Leech” there’s even a couple screams layered in, so he’s by no means limited to one approach.
Adrift for Days could just as easily be from Maryland as Australia, and with lumbering grooves and a capable showing of melody, they’ve managed to make a good case with these two tracks for keeping them on the radar. I’m sure they also made a few friends this past weekend when they played with Acid King, Pod People and others at the Doomsday Festival in their hometown, and I can only say I wish I’d been there to see it. Doom on, gentlemen.
Posted in Reviews on March 23rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
If 1964 was 1968, if Sydney, Australia, was San Francisco, CA and if life was half scored by Strawberry Alarm Clock and half scored by Ennio Morricone, Aussie five-piece outfit The Dolly Rocker Movement would fit right in. However, since none of those conditions are met by existence as we know it (the former being impossible according to the laws of physics), the band’s unique blend of pop rock, bright-hued psychedelia and occasional flourishes of spaghetti western atmospherics is individual enough to make their third album, Our Days Mind the Tyme (Bad Afro), memorable beyond its songs.
I say “if 1964 was 1968” because tunes like “Our Brave New World” and the acoustic-led waltz “A Sound for Two” have an innocent sweetness to them prevalent in A Hard Days Night-era British invasion rock that was lost by the time the sultry lysergisms of late-‘60s hippie rock took over, despite the fact that the keys of Martin Walters inevitably aligns The Dolly Rocker Movement with the latter musically. And although Our Days Mind the Tyme is unquestionably a work of psychedelic rock, its pop sensibility and lack of outward heaviness make it an accessible, friendly album that capitalizes on a retro ideology without overdoing any single aspect of the era it’s emulating. Guitarist Dandy Lyon’s vocals, in sometime trade-off with a female vocalist, as on “Coffin Love,” only enhance the retro atmosphere, calling to mind visions of orange bellbottoms and paisley bandannas the likes of which simply aren’t found in the world as we know it in the 21st Century.
Posted in Reviews on February 18th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
I like newbie bands. I like bands who come out of nowhere, release their own stuff and play music because they love to do it. That’s how the genre grows. I don’t get nearly as psyched about some band putting out their eighth record in 12 years, who haven’t done anything to change their sound for half their career and are just pumping out formulaic songs, as I do about getting a hold of a new demo from a group I’ve never heard before, whose approach is still growing, who maybe haven’t even figured out how they want to sound yet. That’s exciting, because you don’t know what’s going to happen. A song could go anywhere, and even if it doesn’t most of the time, giving it a shot is usually worth the gamble.
In the case of Sydney, Australia’s Arrowhead, who are a novelty right off the bat because of their locale, a self-titled, self-released demo EP is their first excursion into recording. The band formed in 2008, and the four tracks on the CD are over in just under 16 minutes (and all streaming on the ArrowheadMySpace), with few extra frills or niceties. To cap their sound in a word, I’d probably choose “Dozer,” but it’s clear from listening to “Mayflower,” “Edge of the Earth,” “Sorceress” and “Liquid in Motion” that the trio are still finding their way. The closer takes Kyuss’ “One Inch Man” guitar rhythm to a spacier, semi-psych space, while “Mayflower” and “Sorceress” provide straight-ahead riff and roll for those who can’t get enough of it. On “Edge of the Earth,” they get a little heavier (a little more newDozer than oldDozer, if you catch my meaning), and that track proves to be the highlight of Arrowhead, even if the vocals are a bit high in the mix and cut through probably more than they should.