Worshipper, Shadow Hymns: Sowing and Reaping

Posted in Reviews on October 19th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


The simple fact of the matter is that bands like Worshipper don’t just happen every day. Granted, I don’t think this is any of the members’ first project, but just because a player is experienced does not necessarily mean a given endeavor is going to click when other players become involved. Worshipper have not only clicked, but they’ve clicked on their first record, and they’ve clicked in such a way that the Tee Pee-delivered Shadow Hymns has felt destined to be on the best debuts of 2016 list since before it actually came out.

An anticipated debut? Not that it never happens, but like I said, it’s certainly not every day. Listening to the spacious crashes of opener “High Above the Clouds” or the NWOBHM-derived chug of “Step Behind,” which follows and fosters a momentum that continues across Shadow Hymns‘ eight-track/38-minute span, it reminds one of buying some tech product, opening the box, and having it ready to run immediately. Worshipper don’t need to charge up; there’s no assembly required. Guitarist/vocalist John Brookhouse, guitarist Alejandro Necochea, bassist/backing vocalist Bob Maloney and drummer Dave Jarvis have taken care of everything.

Working at three studios — Mad Oak, Q Division and Converse Rubber Tracks — they’ve meticulously constructed songs that thread together impulses from heavy rock and classic metal. Their native scene has already taken notice and embraced them heartily, handing them a Boston Music Award last year on the strength of their two 2015 singles, Place Beyond the Light b/w Step Behind (discussed here) and the earlier Black Corridor b/w High Above the Clouds (review here).

That’s an action I don’t disagree with — it seemed perhaps a bit premature in the way Barack Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, when he’d been president for a matter of weeks — but Worshipper have been nominated for three more such awards in 2016, so clearly the Boston music scene agrees with itself, which it can be relied upon to do generally. As regards Worshipper, it’s right.


Four of Shadow Hymns‘ eight songs appeared on those prior singles, and while “Step Behind” and “Place Beyond the Light” and “High Above the Clouds” and “Black Corridor,” which closes, are standouts for having been issued before, the level of songwriting on “Ghosts and Breath,” “Darkness,” “Another Yesterday” and “Wolf Song” is not only consistent, but broadens an atmospheric scope that may or may not still be in development, but already sounds accomplished. “Ghosts and Breath” taps into Slayer-esque dual-leads at its outset even as it moves into one of the record’s plethora of hooks, while “Darkness” and the penultimate “Wolf Song” bring in layers of acoustic guitar (a specialty of producer Benny Grotto) for a feel bordering on gothic.

These moments of flourish come together fluidly with the gallop that emerges in “Place Beyond the Light,” united by stellar lead work from Necochea, Brookhouse‘s soulful vocals and the steady, forward drive of Jarvis and Maloney, which might be the most metallic aspect of what Worshipper do, ultimately. In its tone, Shadow Hymns is crisp without being unnatural or overproduced-sounding, but even as “Darkness” hits into its nodding chorus, the rhythm section holds to the tension of the verse before, setting up the transition to the solo section that follows. With a strong sense of structure throughout, it works. Worshipper manage their transitions within and between songs gracefully, and on a sheer level of execution, Shadow Hymns is miles ahead of what one generally expects going into a debut album.

“Having their shit together” might be Worshipper‘s most defining sonic feature at this stage. I would not guess their stylistic development is complete as of their first long-player — at least one hopes not — but for how firmly they nail down the airy spookiness of the slower “Another Yesterday” and the dynamic turns of “Step Behind,” they sound remarkably in command and sure of what they want to be doing. With an even side A/B split between “Darkness” and “Place Beyond the Light,” Shadow Hymns‘ personality is made even richer, but it remains drawn together through performance and songcraft, as well as a depth of mix that finds Brookhouse as much at home at the forefront of “Darkness” as buried under “Ghosts and Breath.”

There is room to expand the overall palette of mood — Shadow Hymns tends toward the dark in its themes and ambience — but Worshipper also put themselves in a solid position from which to enact that growth, structurally and in terms of how deftly they move between their rock-meets-metal influences, and with memorable cuts like “Step Behind,” “Ghosts and Breath,” “Place Beyond the Light,” “Another Yesterday,” “Black Corridor,” and so on, they’re working from a foundation solid enough to sustain any number of future directions. Like the best of debuts, the potential of the band in question is part of the appeal, but as noted, if this is just the start, Worshipper have already delivered.

Worshipper, Shadow Hymns (2016)

Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Worshipper on Twitter

Worshipper on Bandcamp

Worshipper at Tee Pee Records

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Joy European Tour with Black Wizard Starts Tonight

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Tonight’s the night. Or at least it’s a night. One of 26 on the current European tour of San Diego heavy psych rockers Joy and Vancouver strutters Black Wizard, but it also happens to be the first one, so, you know, that’s not nothing. Joy head overseas supporting their sophomore full-length for Tee PeeRide Along! (review here), while Black Wizard made their debut back in February on Listenable Records with their third offering overall, New Waste (review here). I would not at all be surprised if these two wound up jamming onstage together at some point on this trip — if not at all points on this trip — and not that you’d really need another reason to show up, but surely that would be one.

They’ll hit Desertfest Belgium 2016 along the way. Tee Pee posted the dates thusly:


JOY is touring Europe with Black Wizard – mark the dates!

Joy & Black Wizard on tour:
27.09 DE / Oldenburg, MTS Citysound
28.09 DE / Berlin, Urban Spree
29.09 NL / Tilburg, Little Devil
30.09 FR / Caen, Portobello Club
01.10 FR / Tours, TBA
02.10 FR / Bordeaux, TBA
03.10 SP /Oviedo,TBA
04.10 SP / Madrid, Maravillas Club
05.10 SP / Bercelona, Incivic Zone
06.10 FR / St. Etienne, Thunderbird
07.10 CH / Olten, Le Coq D Or
08.10 CH / Kreuzlingen, Horst Klub
09.10 IT / Treviso, Punky Raggae Pub
10.10 SLO / Ilirska Bistrica, Mknž
11.10 SLO / Lubiana, beltinci
12.10 DE / Wurzburg, Immerhim
13.10 DE / Köln, Sonic Ballroom
14.10 BE / Antwerp DESERTFEST
15.10 NL/ Den Haag, Bazart
16.10 DE / Freiburg, White Rabbit
17.10 DE / Karlsruhe, AKK
19.10 AT/ Innsburck, Decentral
20.10 DE / Leipzig, LIWI
21.10 DE / Dresden, Chemiefabrik
22.10 AT /Linz, Kapu
23.10 DE / Halle, Hünermanhattan

Award-winning California psych rock band JOY released its new album, Ride Along!, Friday, April 29 via Tee Pee Records. Produced by vocalist / guitarist Zachary Oakley and recorded at San Diego’s Audio Design Studios (Earthless, Rocket From the Crypt), the album contains nine new JOY compositions and a searing cover of ZZ Top’s “Certified Blues”. Ride Along! features guest contributions from an all-star lineup of Cali psych rock heroes, including Earthless drummer Mario Rubalcaba, Radio Moscow guitarist Parker Griggs and guitarist Brenden Dellar, of Tee Pee labelmates, Sacri Monti.


Joy, “Peyote Blues”

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Earthless Confirm US Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


Dates have been floating around the social medias for the last month or so, but the PR wire has now confirmed that San Diego heavy psych forerunners Earthless will head out on a round of headlining US tour dates this December, looping across the Midwest and hitting the Eastern Seaboard in support of their earlier-2016 split with Harsh Toke (review here) on Tee Pee Records. They go heralding that release, but the truth is they could just as easily head out supporting, “duh, we’re Earthless,” and it would be reason enough to show up and watch them melt ears and the brains between them, so you know, if they’re coming near you, go to the gig.

They’ll have Philly outfit and Tee Pee labelmates Ruby the Hatchet along for the ride, which is also awesome. Info and dates:


EARTHLESS Announces U.S. Headlining Tour

Instrumental heavy rock kings EARTHLESS have announced a fall U.S. headlining tour. The San Diego band will launch the thirteen town trek on December 2 in Chicago, IL. Dates will run through December 17 in Detroit, MI. The award-winning group, currently hard at work on its fourth studio LP, continues to tour in support of its celebrated album, From the Ages. Support on the EARTHLESS tour will come from Philadelphia witch rockers Ruby the Hatchet.

EARTHLESS tour dates:
* = Ruby the Hatchet as support
December 2 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle *
December 3 St Louis, MO The Firebird*
December 4 Norman, OK OPOLIS*
December 6 Dallas, TX Club Dada*
December 7 Austin, TX Barracuda*
December 8 Houston, TX Rudyard’s Pub
December 9 Baton Rouge, LA Spanish Moon
December 10 Atlanta, GA The EARL*
December 11 Raleigh, NC Barcade
December 12 Richmond, VA Strange Matter
December 13 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
December 15 Pittsburgh, PA Club Cafe*
December 16 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop*
December 17 Detroit, MI El Club*

EARTHLESS features guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, drummer Mario Rubalcaba and bassist Mike Eginton.


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Carousel Call it Quits

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Whatever else you can say about Pittsburgh heavy rockers Carousel, they certainly had their adventures. The classically-styled outfit were brash, and their material brazenly took on ’70s stylization without going full-on vintage loyalist across their two albums, 2013’s Jeweler’s Daughter (review here) and last year’s 2113 (review here) — both on Tee Pee Records — and they came to represent a vision of classic heavy rock from the eastern half of the country that didn’t necessarily rely on the aggro approach of so many of the bands from the coast. Carousel were coming from their own place, soaked in booze and just a bit unhinged, but never veering from a quality songwriting that ultimately became their defining feature.

They call it quits after a somewhat tumultuous year. Last winter, they flipped their van in Wyoming on a West Coast stint. This Spring, they toured Europe alongside Elder with guitarist Alejandro Necochea (also of labelmates Worshipper) filling in for Matt Goldsborough (sometimes of Pentagram), playing Roadburn and Desertfest and many others besides. By that time, they’d already parted ways with drummer Jake Leger, who contributed to both albums, leaving just guitarist/vocalist Dave Wheeler and bassist Jim Wilson as original members as Justin Sherrell (ex-Blackout, Bezoar) took on the drums and John Dziuban (Sistered; who had initially joined on drums) became the guitarist. Like I said, tumultuous. Earlier this summer, Carousel canceled their scheduled appearance at Psycho Las Vegas for August, and a general lack of communication from the band ended with the announcement of their disbanding as Wheeler and Wilson plan to move forward in another band.

I was fortunate enough to see Carousel a year ago in Maryland (review here) and was struck by the vitality they brought to the classic rock form and the unabashed love they showed for the power of what a hook could do to an audience. Bottom line: Good band. They probably had more to offer than they got to.

Their announcement:


Hello fans and friends… It’s difficult to make this post but the time has come for carousel to call it quits. It’s been a hell of a ride but frequent lineup changes and other unfortunate events have necessitated this decision. Thanks to anyone who supported us over the years. We’re still humbled by the fact that anyone gave a crap about us or our music and we’re truly grateful to our label Tee Pee Records for taking a chance on us. Jim and Dave will carry on with their other band Outsideinside. We leave you with a clip of Jeweler’s Daughter live in Bilbao, Spain from our last tour. Again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It’s been a dream come true.


Carousel, “Jeweler’s Daughter” live in Spain, May 14, 2016

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Friday Full-Length: Kalas, Kalas

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Kalas, Kalas (2006)

Kalas was a short-lived five-piece fronted by Matt Pike of High on Fire and Sleep. During their time together, which reportedly started in 2003, they released one full-length, self-titled, on Tee Pee Records. They did not tour extensively. I remember seeing them at SXSW 2006 in Austin, Texas, at a day party sponsored by Vice — at the time I had no idea what Vice was, but Witch were also playing, so I wasn’t missing it either way — and watching as Pike rushed through the crowd to get on stage because the band’s set was about to start. It was that kind of thing. Someone would tell me later that Kalas essentially came out of his desire to practice his vocals and expand his range for High on Fire — which the album Kalas most definitely does on songs like “Frozen Sun” and “Mother’s Tears” — but I think the appeal of the record goes further than that.

Consider that in 2006, Sleep were still broken up, seemingly permanently. With High on Fire, Pike released Blessed Black Wings in 2005 and would follow it up with Death is this Communion in 2007, indeed having greatly expanded his vocal range. Kalas‘ self-titled is not only a bridge between those two albums, but also a tie to the more purely stonerized riffing of Sleep — or at very least is less maniacally metal than High on Fire were at the time and have only grown to be more so. By stepping back and not playing guitar, Pike gave crucial ground to six-stringers Andy Christ (ex-Eldopa) and Paul Kott (ex-High Tone Son of a Bitch) and led the band, which also included bassist Brad Reynolds and drummer Scott Plumb, in a different way than he ever had before or than he has since. He only played guitar in Sleep, but in Kalas, he only sang (minus a solo on “Frozen Sun”), and that became a defining feature of the group and the album.

Honestly, that would probably be enough to pique interest, but the album continues to deliver quality in the performance of the entire band and the songwriting. It’s not as rampage-prone as High on Fire, but Kalas grooves fluidly across its nine tracks, and the lyrics tackle issues of addiction and the resulting effects on life in a more direct way than Pike ever had before. It became a vibe that, on subsequent releases, might’ve come to develop along a path separate from anything else Pike was involved in, but instead it kind of languished behind the booming popularity of High on Fire — who were in the midst of doing some of their best work to-date — and the reunion of Sleep, which began in 2009. The self-titled would be the only thing they ever put out. Copies still float around, and if you’re lucky you might be able to find one in a used rack somewhere, but it continues to surprise me how little mention Kalas get in the Matt Pike discography, since they were unlike anything he’d done before or would do again. And, again, the songs hold up even a decade later.

More pre-social media heavy seemingly given up to the ages, awaiting reissue. Hope you enjoy.

I lost a little weight recently and so have been digging out some old t-shirts from boxes in the basement in hopes that they might fit. I chose the Kalas record because apparently at some point I purchased a Kalas t-shirt with the album cover on it. Must have been at that SXSW show, though I couldn’t say for sure — it was a long decade ago and I never went to Austin that I didn’t spend the entire half-week bordering on blackout drunk. Or my 20s. Ha.

Anyway, I think I might wear that Kalas shirt to The Obelisk All-Dayer, which is only eight days away. It’s pretty new looking. I might’ve never worn it before.

If you don’t have your tickets yet for The Obelisk All-Dayer, which is Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar, get them here: https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1067269

Next week the countdown to that show will continue. Look for exclusive and awesome stuff from Funeral HorseKing Buffalo and Heavy Temple, and maybe a special writeup for the afterparty as well, because I’m really stoked on bringing Walter Roadburn and Adam from The Golden Grass on board to DJ after Mars Red Sky plays. It’s going to be such an awesome day. Please come. Please show up.

Also next week, look out for a review and some kind of audio premiere for the new Second Grave album, Blacken the Sky. To be followed Tuesday (I think) by Wretch and Wednesday by Blues Funeral. There’s more for later in the week, I’m just not sure what it is yet. Doing the All-Dayer countdown has put me way behind on videos as well. Might take a day to get caught up. We’ll see how it goes.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please get your The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk All-Dayer

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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The Obelisk All-Dayer Countdown: Death Alley Debut “Supernatural Predator” Live Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features, The Obelisk Presents on August 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk all-dayer

The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets

True, it hasn’t been all that long since Amsterdam full-charge rockers Death Alley posted up a new clip for the title-track of their most excellent 2015 Tee Pee Records debut, Black Magick Boogieland (review here). Their doing so prompted something of a rant on my part — well fucking justified, from where I sit — about how god damn awesome they are live and how anyone in the US lucky enough to see them for the first time doesn’t even know the kind of right-past-the-next-level-and-onto-the-level-after-that-one show they’re in for.

Naturally, in bringing them aboard for The Obelisk All-Dayer, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn (tickets), it’s a sentiment by which I wholeheartedly stand.

All the better that as part of our countdown to The Obelisk All-Dayer, which is a mere 11 days away now, they should check in with a live video, as if to give any unsuspecting parties all the more reason to show up in-person. The clip is for “Supernatural Predator,” the epic and hypnotic space-infused closer from Black Magick Boogieland, and it was filmed this past June at Hellfest 2016 in Clisson, France.

Death Alley shared the Valley stage that day with Kadavar, Lecherous Gaze, Unsane and Puscifer, among others, and watching “Supernatural Predator,” it’s abundantly clear what a force they’ve become on stage. They come to The Obelisk All-Dayer to join forces with Mars Red Sky, Snail, Kings Destroy, Eye, Funeral Horse, King Buffalo and Heavy Temple as part of a short US tour that no doubt will spread their name farther than the cities they happen to be hitting along the way.

Thanks to the band for letting me host this premiere, and for playing in Brooklyn on the 20th as well. I can’t wait.


Death Alley, “Supernatural Predator” live at Hellfest 2016

The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets

Death Alley on Thee Facebooks

Saint Vitus Bar website

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Death Alley Post Video for “Black Magick Boogieland”

Posted in Bootleg Theater, The Obelisk Presents on July 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

death alley

I feel like you don’t even know. Unless you’ve already seen Death Alley, I’m not sure it’s possible to fully appreciate the momentous occasion that their arrival in the US for their first shows on the North American continent represents. They come supporting their 2015 Tee Pee Records debut album, Black Magick Boogieland (review here), and having seen them twice at Roadburn, I can tell their live show is a righteous next step for classic heavy rock, as punk as it is metal and delivered with nigh-on-unmatched vitality that proves so completely essential to the good time the material winds up conveying. Also every now and then they get weird, and that’s awesome too.

That’s what “Black Magick Boogieland” is all about — bringing these pieces together. I could not, could not, could not be more thrilled to have Death Alley in the lineup as part of The Obelisk All-Dayer, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn (JUST BUY YOUR FUCKING TICKETS ALREADY), and if the fact that they’re doing more dates besides — including Psycho Las Vegas — means more heads will catch on, then all the better. I cannot imagine being in the same building while they play and not being swallowed up by their energy. It’s going to be completely over the top in completely the best way possible. I fucking mean it.

They’ve got a new video for the aforementioned “Black Magick Boogieland” that you can dig into below. Clip info and tour itinerary follow:

Death Alley, “Black Magick Boogieland” official video

Video by: Boitelle & Grygierczyk Audio Visual Rock Productions

Title track from debut album Black Magick Boogieland. Out on Tee Pee records.

See you punks at one of these!
8/19 – Philadelphia – Kung Fu Necktie
8/20 – New York City – Saint Vitus (Obelisk Alldayer)
8/21 – New York City – Cake Shop
8/27 – Las Vegas – Hard Rock Hotel (Psycho Las Vegas festival)
8/31 – San Francisco – Elbow Room
9/01 – Los Angeles – Viper Room
9/02 – San Diego – Til Two Club
9/03 – San Diego – Til Two Club

The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets

Death Alley on Thee Facebooks

Death Alley BigCartel Store

Tee Pee Records website

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The Atomic Bitchwax, Lo-Pan & The Dirty Streets Announce Coast-to-Coast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

A couple months ago, while out on a run with The Obsessed and Karma to BurnTone Deaf is killing it with the package tours this year — bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik of The Atomic Bitchwax sustained an injury to his arm that forced the band to cancel about half the dates. Sierra filled in, but still kind of a bummer for the stalwart NJ trio, whose 2015 Tee Pee Records album, Gravitron (review here), was among the year’s finest.

No doubt they’d get back out, and this time they’ll be headlining a coast-to-coast stint with Ohio’s Lo-Pan and Memphis blues rockers The Dirty Streets. For Lo-Pan, it will mark the four-piece’s first tour with new guitarist Chris Thompson, who was just announced as having joined the band earlier this week. They’re on the tour from Aug. 19 through Aug. 27 only, it looks like, so presumably the next night will serve as their stop at Psycho Las Vegas. The Dirty Streets, on the other hand, have an off-night as the Bitchwax and Lo-Pan roll into Tucson on Aug. 27, so I guess that’s when they’ll be playing the Vegas megafestival.

In any case, glad to see The Atomic Bitchwax heading off again and continuing to keep excellent company. Dates were posted by the band:

the atomic bitchwax lo pan dirty streets tour-700

Arm is healed up so let’s try this again!!

W/ LO PAN (8/19-9/27) and THE DIRTY STREETS (8/19-9/10 excluding 8/27)
08/19/2016 Charlotte NC The Milestone w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/20/2016 Hattiesburg MS The Tavern w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/21/2016 New Orleans LA Siberia w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/22/2016 San Antonio TX Limelight w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/23/2016 Houston TX White Oak Music Hall w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/24/2016 Austin TX Grizzly Hall w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/25/2016 Ft Worth TX Rail Club w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/26/2016 Albuquerque NM Ned’s Bar w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/27/2016 Tucson AZ Flycatcher w/ Lo-Pan
08/28/2016 San Diego CA Soda Bar w/ The Dirty Streets
08/29/2016 Los Angeles CA Viper Room w/ The Dirty Streets
08/30/2016 San Francisco CA Elbo Room w/ The Dirty Streets
08/31/2016 Portland OR Dante’s w/ The Dirty Streets
09/01/2016 Vancouver BC Biltmore w/ The Dirty Streets
09/02/2016 Seattle WA El Corazon w/ The Dirty Streets
09/03/2016 Bellingham WA Shakedown w/ The Dirty Streets
09/06/2016 Minneapolis MN Grumpy’s w/ The Dirty Streets
09/07/2016 Chicago IL Double Door w/ The Dirty Streets
09/08/2016 Cleveland OH Grog Shop w/ The Dirty Streets
09/09/2016 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie w/ The Dirty Streets
09/10/2016 Brooklyn NY Black Bear w/ The Dirty Streets


The Atomic Bitchwax, Live in Toulouse, France

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