Quarterly Review: Horsehunter, Church, Corpse Light, Sunder, T-Tops, The Space Merchants, Etiolated, Blown Out, Les Discrets, Beast Modulus

Posted in Reviews on June 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk summer quarterly review

Day one down and feeling good so far. Day two continues the thread of mixing more known quantities with bands either self-releasing or putting out demos, etc., and I like that. More than last time around — last quarter, if you want to use the business-y sounding language for it — I tried to really get a balance across this batch of reviews, posted yesterday and coming up over the next couple days. We’ll see how it works out when it’s over. It remains a ton of stuff, and I hope you dig it. Day two starts right now.

Quarterly review #11-20:

Horsehunter, Caged in Flesh

horsehunter caged in flesh

Pushing their way to the fore of Melbourne’s heavy surge, double-guitar four-piece Horsehunter proffer oppressive tonal crush on the four tracks of their 2LP Magnetic Eye Records debut, Caged in Flesh. The story goes that, unsatisfied the initial recordings weren’t heavy enough, the band – guitarists Michael Harutyanyan (also vocals) and Dan McDonald, bassist/vocalist Himi Stringer and drummer Nick Cron – went back into the studio and redid the entire thing. Mission accomplished. By the time 16-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Stoned to Death” is done, lungs are suitably deflated, spines are cracked, skulls cleaved, and so on. They’re hardly the only ones in the world to conjure formidable tonal heft, but it’s the deft changes in vocals – clean here, shouts there, more abrasive at the start of the title-track – and the sense of atmosphere in the three-minute penultimate interlude that really distinguish Horsehunter, as well as how smoothly that atmosphere integrates with the pummel in the second half of closer “Witchery,” attention to detail and awareness of the need for more than just sonic weight boding well for future progression.

Horsehunter on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

Church, Unanswered Hymns

church unanswered hymns

A staggeringly heavy debut full-length from Sacramento, CA, five-piece Church, Unanswered Hymns was initially released digitally by the band and quickly picked up for a cassette issue by Transylvanian Tapes and forthcoming LP through Battleground Records. One gets the sense listening to the three extended tracks – 19-minute opener “Dawning” being the longest of the bunch (immediate points) – that those won’t be the last versions to come. Psychedelic doom blends seamlessly with vicious sludge extremity, creating a morass engulfing in its tones, spacious in its breadth and unrepentantly heavy, making it one of 2015’s best debut releases, hands down, and a glorious revelry in bleak tectonics that challenges the listener to match its level of melancholy without giving into an impulse for post-Pallbearer emotive theatrics. As thrilling as they are plodding, expect the echoes of “Dawning,” “Stargazer” and “Offering” to resonate for some time to come, and should Church show any predilection for touring in the next couple years, they have the potential to make a genuine impact on American doom. Yes, I mean it.

Church on Thee Facebooks

Transylvanian Tapes

Battleground Records

Corpse Light, Without Form

corpse light without form

Recorded in a day and released by Grimoire Records, the four-track Without Form is slated as the debut from Baltimore atmospheric doomers Corpse Light, but the band have had tracks come out in drips and drabs since getting their start as Ophidian in mid-2012, even if this is their first proper release. Either way, “The Fool” sets up an immediate and grim ambience, the churning lurch from guitarists Keiran Holmes and Don Selner and bassist Aurora Raiten set to roll by Lawrence Grimes (The Osedax) and given earthy aggression by the vocals of Jim Webb. “Lying in State” fleshes out these morose aggro vibes, but it’s with the drop-everything-and-kill peak of the subsequent “R Complex” that Corpse Light hit their angriest mark. If Without Form was just about that, it would be the highlight, but the album’s 29 minutes have more to offer than pissed off tonally-weighted post-hardcore, as closer “Kenophobia”’s clever turns and deceptive forward momentum demonstrate, though a touch of that kind of thing never hurts either.

Corpse Light on Thee Facebooks

Grimoire Records on Bandcamp

Sunder, Demo

sunder demo

Heavy psych four-piece Sunder will make their debut this summer through Tee Pee and Crusher Records with a 7” for “Cursed Wolf,” so consider this notice of the tracks on their not-for-public-consumption demo a heads up on things to come. Their “Deadly Flower” was streamed here this past April, and the band’s previous incarnation, The Socks, released their self-titled debut (review here) on Small Stone in 2014, but with songs like the key-laced stomper “Bleeding Trees,” the ‘70s rusher “Against the Grain,” and the Uncle Acid-style swinging “Daughter of the Snows,” the Lyon, France, outfit continue to refine a style drawing together different vibes of the psychedelic era. “Deadly Flower” was also distinguished by its key work, and as for “Cursed Wolf” itself, the melody reminds of proto-psych Beatles singles (thinking “Rain” specifically), but the groove still holds firm to a sense of weight that’s thoroughly modern, and by that I mean it sounds like 1972. Keep an eye out.

Sunder on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records

T-Tops, T-Tops

t-tops t-tops

Granted not everyone is going to make this immediate association, but when I first saw the moniker T-Tops, I couldn’t help think of like C-grade generic stonerisms, songs about beer and pretending to be from the South and all that. If you experienced something similar in seeing the name, rest easy. The Pittsburgh trio of guitarist/vocalist Pat Waters (ex-The Fitt, Wormrigg), bassist Jason Orr (Wormrigg) and drummer Jason Jouver (ex-Don Caballero) are down with far more sinister punk and noise on their self-titled, self-released debut full-length, riding, shooting straight and speaking truth on cuts like “Wipe Down” and the catchy “Pretty on a Girl” after the tense sampling of “A Certain Cordial Exhilaration” turns over the power-push to “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’.” “Ralphie” is probably an inside-joke if not a Christmas Story reference, but point is these guys are way less about-to-sing-about-muscle-cars than the name implies and their tight, crisp rhythmic turns come accompanied by vicious tonal force and an utter lack of bullshit, which is a scenario far preferable to that which one might otherwise expect.

T-Tops on Thee Facebooks

T-Tops on Bandcamp

The Space Merchants, The Space Merchants

the space merchants the space merchants

Issued by Aqulamb in the imprint’s standard 100-page art book/download format, the self-titled debut from fellow Brooklynites The Space Merchants seeks to draw a line between psychedelic rock and country. And not pretend country like people with a Johnny Cash fetish because he covered that Nine Inch Nails song one time – actual, bright, pastoral, classic country. Call the results psychtwang and applaud the effort, which works oddly well in a thoroughly vintage context to come across on “Mainline the Sun” like something from a lost ‘60s variety show. Parts of “One Cut Like the Moon” and the later fuzz of “One Thousand Years of Boredom” give away their modernity, but The Space Merchants’ push toward a stylistic niche suits them well, and the intertwined vocal arrangements from guitarist Michael Guggino, bassist Aileen Brophy and keyboardist Ani MonteleoneCarter Logan drums to round out the four-piece – add to the rich, welcoming feel that remains prevalent even as the eight-minute “Where’s the Rest of Life” slips into wah-soaked noise to finish out.

The Space Merchants on Thee Facebooks

Aqualamb on Bandcamp

Etiolated, Grey Limbs, Grey Skies

etoliated grey limbs grey skies

The undercurrent of black metal coursing beneath the surface of Etiolated’s debut full-length, Grey Limbs, Grey Skies, eventually comes to the surface in 10-minute opener “Internal Abyss” and 16-minute eponymous closer, which bookends, but in part it’s the tension of waiting for those rampaging surges that keeps one hooked to the Armus Productions release. Guttural death growls echo up from dense tonal reaches, and tempo shifts, whether in those longer tracks or three-minute lumbering slice “Futility” are fluid, the North Carolina five-piece executing a slow-grinding chug in centerpiece “Exsanguinate,” which seems like a murk without end until the 1:47 “For Your Hell” kicks into a speedier, more blackened rush, guest vocalist Ryan McCarthy joining guitarist/vocalists James Storelli and Walls, bassist Cody Rogers and drummer Elliot Thompson in furthering the already prevalent sense of extremism before “Etiolated,” after a surprisingly peaceful if brooding midsection, plods the album to a close. To say “not for the faint of heart” would be putting it lightly, but if I had a vest and if Etiolated had patches, the two parties would definitely meet up at some point in the near future.

Etiolated on Thee Facebooks

Armus Productions on Bandcamp

Blown Out, Planetary Engineering

blown out planetary engineering

It has not taken long for the discography of UK psych jammers Blown Out to become a populated murky cosmos of its own. Planetary Engineering is released on Oaken Palace Records and finds the three-piece of guitarist Mike Vest (also Bong, etc.), bassist John-Michael Hedley (also Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs) and drummer Matt Baty (also the head of Box Records) exploring two mesmeric and sprawling instrumentals – one per side – that bend and flourish and hypnotize in organically-concocted swirl. Side A’s “Transcending Deep Infinity” tops 20 minutes and shifts from its spacey build to a low key groove at about 7:30 in, pulsing forward once more amid head-turning repetition, deep echoes and longform nod, culminating in a two-minute fadeout that brings forward “Thousand Years in the Sunshine,” an immediate bass groove and interstellar swirl no less trance-inducing than its predecessor. Cyclical drum fills morph over time behind the guitar and bass, and Planetary Engineering seems to push continually further out until, of course, it disintegrates, presumably as it crosses the galactic barrier.

Blown Out on Thee Facebooks

Oaken Palace Records on Bandcamp

Les Discrets, Live at Roadburn

les discrets live at roadburn

I was fortunate enough to have been in attendance at Het Patronaat in Tilburg when French post-black metallers Les Discrets took the stage at Roadburn 2013. As such, it’s with some trepidation I approach their Live at Roadburn recording on Prophecy Productions – the impression they made live wasn’t something I’d want potentially spoiled or brought to earth by a document proving it was just another set. With Neige of Alcest on bass with guitarist/vocalist Fursy Teyssier, Les Discrets proved to be something really special to those who, like me, were there to catch them, and the eight-track Live at Roadburn – fortunately – captures both the majestic lushness they brought with them and the underlying weight that seemed to add impact to the material. What might sound like post-production mixing on “L’Echappée” or the wash of “Chanson D’Automne” isn’t – it really was that beautiful and that perfectly balanced coming from the stage. A vastly underrated act and a document that reminds of how stellar they were without sullying the memory in the slightest.

Les Discrets on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions

Beast Modulus, Beast Modulus

beast-modulus-beast-modulus

Brooklynite foursome Beast Modulus seem to care less about meshing with ideas of genre than sticking them in a meatgrinder and seeing what comes out. To wit the riotous chugging of “Cowboy Caligula,” and the blackened thrust of “WaSaBi!” on their self-released, self-titled outing, which leads to dueling growls and screams on the tonally weighted post-hardcore “Fabulous,” and the appropriately mathy turns of the thrashing “Tyranny of Numbers.” Inventive in their stylizations and in where the six songs included on the release actually go – hint: they go to “heavy” – the lineup of vocalist Kurt Applegate, guitarist Owen Burley, bassist Jesse Adelson and drummer Jody Smith have some post-Dillinger Escape Plan vibe in the calculated chaos of “Kalashnikov,” but closer “Killing Champion” is too impatient to even be held by that, the prevailing manic angularity of Beast Modulus ultimately crafting its own identity from the physical assault the music seems intent on perpetrating upon the listener.

Beast Modulus on Thee Facebooks

Beast Modulus on Bandcamp

 

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Carousel Announce New LP 2113 Due Aug. 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

carousel

A wiser person than myself once opined that there are two kinds of people in this world, Rush fans and everyone else. Pittsburgh heavy rockers Carousel obviously know their target demographic lies within the former contingent. Their second album for Tee Pee Records2113 — as in, one more than 2112 — will be released on Aug. 28. The Scion Rock Fest veterans will have released their debut on the label almost exactly two years prior in the form of Jeweler’s Daughter (reviewed/streamed here), a record no less leggy than its cover art and which has stood up to any good times its been asked to complement since.

2113 is nothing if not an ambitious title, but with the arrival of Pentagram/The Skull guitarist Matt Goldsborough to the lineup — he’s not the only one with connections to a classic band; drummer Jake Leger doubles in Bang — Carousel look to step out beyond their debut, or at very least troll some Rush fans by covering Joe Walsh, which is no less entertaining.

The PR wire speaks:

carousel 2113

CAROUSEL to Release New Album, 2113, August 28

Hard-Rocking PA Group Set to Unleash Follow-Up to Celebrated Debut, Jeweler’s Daughter

Pittsburgh hard rock heroes CAROUSEL will release their sophomore LP 2113 on August 28 via Tee Pee Records. The eagerly-anticipated follow up to CAROUSEL’s revered debut, Jeweler’s Daughter, 2113 is a midnight binge-blur of muscular, dynamic R’N’R, filled with timeless hooks and killer, scorching solos. On the new album, CAROUSEL welcomes new guitarist Matt Goldsborough — also of Pentagram and The Skull — into the band, joining the formidable lineup of Dave Wheeler (guitar, vocals), Jake Leger (drums) and Jim Wilson (bass).

CAROUSEL is a band that knows how to capture your attention; the group has the unique ability to filter the music of their childhood heroes through a contemporary lens. On 2113, the four-piece unleashes charged-up rhythms and wicked dual-guitar harmonies that lay a strong foundation for the shining voice and catchy choruses of front man Dave Wheeler. 2113 is the ultimate nighttime driving music; a head-turning blend of Casablanca-era KISS and prime time Thin Lizzy with one foot in the past and the other firmly secured in the future. 2113 also contains a “hidden” bonus cover of the Joe Walsh classic, “Turn to Stone”.

2113 Track listing:
1.) Trouble
2.) Photograph
3.) Buried Alive in Your Arms
4.) Jim’s Song
5.) Highway Strut
6.) Strange Revelation
7.) Man Like Me
8.) 2113
9.) Turn to Stone (Joe Walsh cover)

https://instagram.com/carouselpgh/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carousel/220084014687656
http://teepeerecords.com/

Carousel, Live at 31st St. Pub, Pittsburgh, PA, 02.12.15

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Fogg Stream High Testament in Full; Album out Today on Tee Pee

Posted in audiObelisk on June 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

fogg (Photo by Melanie Letendre)

“Let’s get into something heavy,” croons Fogg bassist/vocalist Brandon Hoffman to begin “Mountain,” though by the time they get around to that organ-infused cut at the start of side B to their sophomore outing and Tee Pee Records (tape and LP also through Under the Gun Records) debut, High Testament, the chilled-out Fort Worth, Texas, power trio — Hoffman, guitarist Chase Jowell and drummer Ethan Lyons — have long since covered that ground. The follow-up to their late-2013 debut, Death, the new LP stands strong at 40 solid minutes of trippy neo-fuzz, all air push on the low end in Hoffman‘s tonal glory, the Geez running strong in his fills, and righteously swinging in Lyons‘ jam-propelling cymbal work while Jowell tears into solos with that young-dude-about-to-embarrass-a-bunch-of-old-dudes-by-playing-old-dude-music-the-way-young-dudes-play-it vitality. Opening duo “Joy of Home” and “You are Welcome” on side A live up to their names, preaching clear to the converted with just enough acid in their pH that when they shift into acoustic/Mellotron vibing with “The Garden” it’s still easy to follow along.

The album’s longer stretches prove particularly sure-footed despite a ranging breadth of boogie, “Joy of Home,” “Seasons,” “Mountain” and closer “Grass in Mind” all cruising at over six minutes and the latter approaching 10. “Seasons” serves as the centerpiece of the tracklisting and finds the three-piece rooted deep in Witch-y rolling and Fuzzy turns, but Hoffman‘s vocals keep a keep a shoegazing echo to them that ensures the laid back feel holds together no matter how active the material actually gets, “Seasons” getting plenty fogg-high-testamentactive in its name-brand Sabbath-worship tightness of swing in the second half, that momentum carrying over to the calmer start of “Mountain,” which has a build of its own and stands out all the more thanks to the organ guest spot from Ryan Lee, not that High Testament was hurting for a classic feel as it was. I’m not sure it’s fair to call this stuff ’70s-style or retro anymore since it’s also so much the sound of right now, and Fogg are warm-toned but not especially “vintage”-sounding, but whatever tag you might want to lay on them, the tracks hold up in performance and construction, and the flow across each side of the record is seamless.

With “Hand of the Lord” serving as a companion piece to the acoustics of “The Garden,” that leaves “Grass in Mind” with the task of drawing the various sides and elements at work throughout High Testament together, and apart from a second organ appearance, the song does precisely that, with a rolling groove given a sense of chaos through Lyons‘ drums and an especially blown-out fuzz from Hoffman and Lee. Quick-turning rhythms betray some of the band’s youth, but it’s worth noting how crisp Fogg are while sounding so loose. “Grass in Mind” rumbles through three stages, opening with a verse and chorus feel like the bulk of its predecessors before moving into a less-structured but still plenty swinging proto-prog jam and finally turning around the seven-minute mark to sweeter acoustic minimalism to end a mostly raucous outing on a fairly contemplative note. Maybe they’re hinting at further complexity to develop in their sound, or maybe that’s just the only place that part fit. I wouldn’t want to speculate. Either way, as a first outing for Tee Pee and thus a first exposure to many who’ll take them on, myself included, High Testament boasts striking cohesion in its purpose and the methods by which that purpose is executed. Harder to believe than how together these cats are is that they’re not from San Diego or Santa Cruz, as their sound seems primed for California’s current psych revival.

One can only assume they’ll get there eventually and find welcome when they do. Regardless of geography, however, Fogg‘s vibe and immediate chemistry remains palpable. The album is out today on Tee Pee and can be heard in full on the player below.

Hope you dig it:

Fort Worth, Texas power trio FOGG will release its new album, High Testament, June 23 via Tee Pee Records. The record is the follow-up to the group’s 2014 debut, Death. High Testament will drop on cassette via Under the Gun Records, who will co-release the LP version of the album in conjunction with Tee Pee.

FOGG worship at the altar of the almighty riff, conjuring leaden tombs of amp-destroying sound. The warped riff-riders — who have been burning up the southern heavy music scene — crank howling psychedelic? metal and 70’s biker doom topped with gnarly shredding and strangely unique vocals that hover distantly over landslides of chest-rattling bass and drum tumble. High Testament deals heavy quantities of hazy hooks and woozy timbres, which combine to paint a dreamy aesthetic; a hazy, neon form that sounds like metal chords trapped in a never-ending film dissolve.

Fogg on Thee Facebooks

Fogg on Instagram

Fogg at Tee Pee Records

Under the Gun Records

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The Atomic Bitchwax Announce Full US Tour with Mos Generator and Against the Grain

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the atomic bitchwax

Some shows are a no-brainer, and if NJ riff-winders The Atomic Bitchwax are coming through your town with Mos Generator and/or Against the Grain on the bill, that’s pretty much a night you can mark off on your calendar. They’re out supporting their 2015 LP, Gravitron (review here), on Tee Pee Records, and this will be their most extensive run through the US in some time, after celebrating the new album’s release overseas in Europe.

Mos Generator will be on the tour from Sept. 1-18, and Against the Grain seem to be on the whole run. Dates follow as hoisted from the Bitchwax‘s Thee Facebooks page:

the atomic bitchwax us tour

ITS ON!!!!!!
THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX
w/ MOS GENERATOR
AGAINST THE GRAIN
NORTH AMERICAN SUMMER TOUR 2015

New Jersey’s legendary, riff-centric power trio THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX (aka TAB) returns with gargantuan riffs and jaw-dropping psych sonics on its sixth full length LP,Gravitron. Now featuring TWO members of MONSTER MAGNET – bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella – alongside shred-tastic gunslinger Finn Ryan, the band has perfected its unique style of NYC hard rock that High Times appropriately tabbed, “thunder-boogie.”

On Gravitron, THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX’s Rush-like riff mazes and carpal-tunnel-inducing riffs are on full display; every note bleeds with urgency. There’s far too much exuberant energy on the record to lazily tag this as “Stoner Rock”; this is high-octane, ’70s-based hard rock infused with stabs of psychedelia and landslides of Tommy Bolin-inspired guitar heroics ! Gravitron is an A-level masterclass in bad ass Rock’N’ Roll and cements the THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX as an undeniable force in today’s heavy music landscape.

8/13/2015 Brooklyn NY The Shop
8/14/2015 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie
8/15/2015 Cambridge MA Middle East
8/16/2015 Montreal QC Foufounes Electriques
8/17/2015 Ottawa ON Mavericks
8/18/2015 Sudbury ON Townhouse
8/19/2015 Toronto ON Bovine
8/20/2015 Rochester NY Montage
8/21/2015 Pittsburgh PA 31st St pub
8/22/2015 Dayton OH Rock Star Arena
8/23/2015 Detroit MI Smalls
8/24/2015 Chicago IL Double Door
8/25/2015 Milwaukee WI Metal Grill
8/26/2015 Kansas City MO Riot Room
8/27/2015 Denver CO Larimer Lounge
8/29/2015 Boise ID Neurolux
9/1/2015 Seattle WA Studio Seven
9/2/2015 Vancouver BC Rickshaw
9/3/2015 Portland OR Panic Room
9/4/2015 Oakland CA Leos
9/5/2015 Los Angeles CA Loaded
9/6/2015 Phoenix AZ Club Red
9/8/2015 Albuquerque NM Launchpad
9/9/2015 Dallas TX Three Links
9/10/2015 Austin TX Red 7
9/11/2015 Houston TX Rudyards
9/12/2015 New Orleans LA Siberia
9/13/2015 Atlanta GA Masquerade
9/16/2015 Richmond VA Strange Matter
9/17/2015 Baltimore MD Metro Gallery
9/18/2015 New York NY Bowery Electric

http://teepeerecords.com/collections/frontpage/products/atomic-bitchwax-gravitron
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Atomic-Bitchwax/86002001659
https://www.facebook.com/teepeerecords

The Atomic Bitchwax, “War Claw” Live at Desertfest Berlin 2015

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Death Alley, Black Magick Boogieland: Study in Kinetics

Posted in Reviews on June 8th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

death-alley-black-magick-boogieland

By its nature, you can’t have an alley without something on one side and something else on another, so if we apply the same logic to Amsterdam four-piece Death Alley and their Tee Pee Records debut full-length, Black Magick Boogieland, they’re running right down the middle somewhere between classic, Motörhead-style boozy heavy rock and roll groove — “Dead Man’s Bones,” “Bewildered Eyes,” and the early going of “The Fever” — and grander stylistic aspirations of psychedelia, (relatively) lush arrangements and spacey flourish — “Golden Fields of Love,” the back half of opener “Over Under,” 12-minute closer “Supernatural Predator” — ultimately refusing to give into one over the other and not so much balancing between them as working to convince the square peg and the round hole they’re made for each other. It turns out to be a more satisfying fit than one might initially think, in no small part because the four-piece of vocalist Douwe Truijens, guitarist Oeds Beydals, bassist Dennis Duijnhouwer and drummer Ming Boyer (all four interviewed here) are able to make such a fluid case by means of their songwriting. Part of that can be attributed to their experience. TruijensBoyer and Beydals played together in the hardcore punk band Gewapend Beton — the latter also handled guitar in The Devil’s Blood alongside vocalist Farida Lemouchi, who makes an appearance here on the aforementioned “Supernatural Predator” — while Duijnhouwer toiled in cosmic doomers Mühr, so they’re not new to their craft and they’ve come by their stylistic blend honestly. Their first 7″, Over Under/Dead Man’s Bones (review here), was released early in 2014, and already one can hear the progress underway in their sound on Black Magick Boogieland in both the raw and the expansive moments on hand.

And by the way, as righteous a title as Black Magick Boogieland is, it also fits. Beydals‘ time in The Devil’s Blood notwithstanding — and the elephant in the room is the 2014 suicide of that band’s founder, Selim Lemouchi, whose influence can be felt in some of the swirl of the closer — Death Alley aren’t really gearing themselves toward cultistry, unless one counts a cult of alcohol and the manner in which distortion, when thrust at driving speeds at an audience’s eardrums, might compel one to pump their fist. There’s no shortage of that kind of “magick,” and one isn’t past the shuffling and stomping of “Over Under” before it’s clear any quota of “boogie” is going to be duly met and exceeded. The record lives up to that promise, with Truijens‘ command of the hooks as a grounding force running at a fair clip in songs that get in, leave an impression, and get out in punkish tradition, and as for the “black” speaking to something darker atmospherically or a sense of threat, there’s an element of that as well. Two songs mention eyes — “Bewildered Eyes,” on side A, and “Stalk Eyed,” on side B — so there’s a feeling of confrontation underscoring at least some of the proceedings, but both tracks are more of party than malevolence, with Beydals‘ lead work a key factor in conveying that ideology. His work throughout is stellar, and somewhat unsurprisingly is best met by Duijnhouwer‘s bass in the later reaches of “Supernatural Predator,” with Farida Lemouchi‘s vocals deep in the mix as Boyer holds a tension in rolls in his snare for a space rock exploration that’s dynamic and engrossing in kind, cleverly moving back toward a resurgent verse to end out in a manner that only underscores the victory at hand. That’s not the band’s first impressive turn of craftsmanship, but it says something about their mindset that they’re not willing to let you go without one last kick in the ass.

death-alley

If the 41-minute entirety of Black Magick Boogieland relies on any singular element to make its case, however, it’s motion. Whether it’s the quick turns of “Over Under,” the strut of the title-track, the drive of “Bewildered Eyes” that seems to crash through the windshield and into classically heavy soloing within its brief 2:26 span, or the more winding course taken by “The Fever,” with suitably frenetic falsetto backing vocals, Death Alley make these songs move. The only place one might accuse them of coming up for air is on “Golden Fields of Love,” which downshifts in tempo and takes an atmospheric break as it heads into its second half, but even that has a last-minute surge of NWOBHM chug-riffing and some over-the-top vocal harmonies, Truijens developing a melodic sensibility to go with his gruff approach that will only make the band a stronger unit as they continue to progress. From that momentary inhale, “Stalk Eyed” bursts out with more swing and push, “Dead Man’s Bones” fully revives the hook-and-thrust of earlier cuts, and even in its most cosmic stretching, “Supernatural Predator” holds firm to its kinetic side, and if Death Alley are exploring, they’re doing it at light speed. With the already noted core of songwriting as their foundation — that is, writing songs that are both catchy when they need to be and varying in their construction — the four-piece meet their ambitious aesthetic target head on. I had some fairly high anticipation for their first full-length after the 7″, and with the added complexities in pieces like “Golden Fields of Love” and that finish in “Supernatural Predator,” any expectation I had has been easily blown out of the water. No doubt Black Magick Boogieland will stand as one of the best heavy rock debuts of 2015, and in keeping with that, it ignites the imagination as to what Death Alley might go on to accomplish in its wake.

Death Alley, “Black Magick Boogieland”

Death Alley on Thee Facebooks

Death Alley on Bandcamp

Death Alley at Tee Pee Records

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Sacri Monti to Release Self-Titled Debut on Tee Pee Records in July

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

SACRI MONTI (Photo by Dana Trippe)

This one’s kind of a no-brainer. West Coast heavy psych on Tee Pee Records with Radio Moscow‘s bassist and Joy‘s drummer. Duh. I feel like the challenge for Sacri Monti isn’t going so much to be kicking ass — their Demo 2014, from which you can hear “Sitting Around in a Restless Dream” below, showed them as ready and willing to do that — but distinguishing themselves from the surrounding hordes from the San Diego area who also dip into some trippy, weighted sonics. Or, you know, if they wanted to not worry about it and just jam out, I’d probably take that too. If you feel like you wanna go space trucking, these guys sound like they do it every day.

To the PR wire:

sacri monti sacri monti

SACRI MONTI to Release Self-Titled Debut LP July 24

Smoking San Diego Quintet Signs to Tee Pee Records

Encinitas, CA psychedelic heavy rock champions SACRI MONTI have signed to NYC’s Tee Pee Records. The five-piece, which features drummer Thomas Dibenedetto of JOY and Radio Moscow bassist Anthony Meier in its ranks, will drop its self-titled debut on July 24. Boasting a sound best described as “a mix of early 70’s underground hard rock, with psychedelic and krautrock elements”, SACRI MONTI joins a blooming Tee Pee roster that includes fellow San Diego associates Harsh Toke, JOY and the genre’s founding fathers, Earthless.

Roughly translated as “Sacred Mountains”, SACRI MONTI blazes a scorching trail of superb shredding and smoldering riff-o-rama on their impending debut. The record is a searing smorgasbord of muscular rock that boils ’70s guitar rock down to its purest essence while simultaneously skyrocketing a pathway towards the future of molten heavy psych. Fingers bleed, eardrums implode and craniums collapse when SACRI MONTI cranks up its bitchin’, blistering buzz. Tune in, turn it up and BURN!!

Track listing:

1.) Staggered in Lies
2.) Glowing Grey
3.) Slipping from the Day
4.) Sitting Around in a Restless Dream
5.) Ancient Seas and Majesties
6.) Sacri Monti

SACRI MONTI is Brenden Dellar (Guitar), Dylan Donavon (Guitar), Anthony Meier (Bass), Evan Wenskay (Organ, Synth, Echoplex) and Thomas Dibenedetto (Drums).

https://www.facebook.com/sacrimontiband
https://instagram.com/Sacri_Monti_Band/
http://teepeerecords.com/

Sacri Monti, “Sitting around in a Restless Dream” from Demo 2014

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Death Alley Interview & Track Premiere: Into the Heart of Black Magick Boogieland

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on April 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

death alley

[Please note: Click play above to hear “Black Magick Boogieland.” Death Alley release Black Magick Boogieland May 19 on Tee Pee Records. Preorders are available through Tee Pee, on iTunes or on Amazon.]

It’s had many names, but ultimately, Black Magick Boogieland is a familiar idea. For Sleep, it was their Holy Mountain. For George Clinton, his Mothership. For Motörhead, a certain card out of the deck. It’s that thing or that place that represents who a band is or where they feel they’re coming from, existentially as much as sonically. For Amsterdam four-piece Death Alley, the last year and a half has found them locked in recording dungeons, finding birth and rebirth onstage and in the studio, hitting the road hard, reveling in good times and pulling together through the strange moments that seem tiny at the time but ultimately help us all discover who we are.

Death Alley‘s Black Magick Boogieland — almost impossibly — lives up to the righteousness of its title. Yes, it’s over the top at times and it knows that and sees the value in it, but most importantly, it’s a work that finds cohesion in the black, the magic(k) and the boogie. Of the various times I’ve written about the band on this site, almost each one finds them with a different genre tag, from protothrash to retro heavy punk to heavy rock and roll. Truth is, they’re all of those things, and the multi-faceted sound of their debut, from the reworked versions of “Over Under” and “Dead Man’s Bones” which were also the A and B sides to their first single (review here), to the 12-minute space-rocking closer death alley black magick boogieland“Supernatural Predator,” is tied together by the energy with which the material is delivered and the won-over knowledge of what they want to accomplish stylistically and in terms of their songwriting.

Born out of the demise of three acts — punkers Gewapend BetonThe Devil’s Blood and Mühr — Death Alley brings elements together from each into a served-raw blend of fist-pumping, sonically-weighted classic-styled heavy. The album is neither metal nor punk but has elements crucial to both, and when it pushes beyond the roughneck shuffle of “Bewildered Eyes” and “The Fever” into the groovier roll of “Golden Fields of Love,” somehow it not only makes sense, but becomes utterly necessary. The elements at root in its creation might be primitive, and Black Magick Boogieland might seem that way at first listen as well, but there isn’t a level on which one might approach the work as a whole that it doesn’t fulfill, pulling you back to when rock and roll was irony-free, guns blazing, ass shaking and seemed able to hit you directly on a skeletal level.

To herald their debut’s May 19 release through Tee Pee Records, I spoke to all four members of Death Alley — vocalist Douwe Truijens, guitarist Oeds Beydals, bassist Dennis Duijnhouwer and drummer Ming Boyer — about some of the moments that have shaped the band to this point, among them playing Roadburn in 2014, touring hard alongside their soon-to-be labelmates in The Shrine, recording the first single with Guy Tavares (Orange Sunshine) at his Motorwolf studio in Den Haag, bringing in Beydals‘ former bandmate, ex-The Devil’s Blood vocalist Farida Lemouchi, to sing on “Supernatural Predator,” and more, and the result is one of the best conversations I’ve had the pleasure to host here in a long time.

All told, it wound up coming awfully close to 6,900 words, so there’s plenty to dig into, but I think the story (and stories) these guys have to tell is well worth the time. The complete Q&A is after the jump. I sincerely hope you enjoy.

Read more »

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Sunder Premiere Video for “Deadly Flower”; Sign to Tee Pee Records

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

sunder

French four-piece Sunder have announced a newly-inked deal with Tee Pee Records and Crusher Records covering multiple continents for the release of their impending debut full-length. Well, kind of a debut full-length. The Lyon outfit released a self-titled debut (review here) early in 2014 under the moniker The Socks via Small Stone. Apparently the year subsequent has brought a few changes with it, among them the name. As Sunder, the band will release their first album this Fall, and as the new demo “Deadly Flower” shows, it’s a new beginning on multiple levels.

The Socks were indebted heavily to the swing and swagger of ’70s-style blues rock that has gained a foothold throughout Europe in the wake of Graveyard and Kadavar. With the classic Mellotron of “Deadly Flower” and the organic vocal, guitar, bass and drum sounds that accompany, Sunder still have some of that going on, but the new track finds guitarist/vocalist Julien Méret, drummer Jessy Ensenat, bassist Vincent Melay and sunder logokey-specialist/backing vocalist Nicolas Baud digging deeper into the roots of psychedelic rock — more ’67 than ’72, if that makes any sense. Of course, it’s one track, and it’s a demo, so how indicative of the overall direction of the album it may or may not be remains to be seen over the next couple months, but it’s an immersive starting point, Sunder clearly benefiting from the lessons from their time as The Socks as they move forward in this new stage of their career.

To mark the occasion of their Tee Pee signing, I’m happy to be able to host the premiere of the “Deadly Flower” video. The clip itself is basically their logo with some tripped-out vocals, but I think you’ll find the jam worth losing yourself in anyway as an introduction to where they’re at now. More to come as we get closer to the album’s completion and subsequent release.

Official announcement follows the video below. Hope you enjoy:

Sunder, “Deadly Flower”

SUNDER Signs to Tee Pee Records

Forceful French Four-Piece (formerly The Socks) Fortifying First Full Length LP

French heavy psychedelic rock band SUNDER has signed to Tee Pee Records. Formerly known as The Socks, the group is known for its edgy, electric sound that draws from the heavier side of 1960’s / 70’s rock and swings with acid grooves. The group’s as-yet untitled debut will see a fall, 2015 release in North / South America and Australia via Tee Pee and in Europe and Japan via Crusher Records.

“It’s with great pleasure and pride to be part of two of the most amazing heavy/psych labels in the world,” said the band in a statement. “The Socks were of Lyon, France. Sunder is of the world and it is with the sounds of Sunder that the shores of the world will be plundered.”

In celebration, the band has released a tripped visual video for its new track, “Deadly Flower”.

SUNDER features Julien Méret (guitar / vocals) Jessy Ensenat (drums), Vincent Melay (bass) and Nicolas Baud (Farfisa, Mellotron, backing vocals).

Sunder on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records

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