All fucking week. All week I was behind. On everything. Behind on work. Behind on work for my second job. Certainly behind on this shit. I never got caught up, either. It hit 4:30 this afternoon and I just had to say fuck it and leave the office. If I’m not going to get anything done, I might as well not be there. Been a while since I split out of work at rush hour. Did you know there’s traffic at 5 o’clock?
So in looking for something to end this miserable, frustrating, son of a bitch week, I went with The Atomic Bitchwax, not only because they’re from New Jersey like me, but because they’re pretty much the opposite. Not miserable or frustrated. Even the “Shit Kicker” is alright according to these guys. Probably I’d have gone with something more recent by them — 2005′s 3 was what I was going for — but their 1999 self-titled was the only full studio album I could find. Not at all a hardship. The trio of Chris Kosnik, Ed Mundell and Keith Ackerman had a good thing going right from the start, and Kosnik has always kept a piece of that original spirit in everything the band does, even with the lineup and aesthetic changes that the years since the debut have brought.
I’m a sucker for the Bitchwax, always, and since I was thinking just the other day about how it had been too long since I’d seen them live, here we are.
Because I have been so behind, my plan is to have a couple posts up this weekend. Some news about the new Windhand and Across Tundras records being done and coming out, maybe some other stuff. It might be Sunday before I get anything up though, as The Patient Mrs. is graduating and there are inevitable celebrations stemming from that. She’ll have her Ph.D. in hand, which since it’s seven years in the making strikes me as something worth celebrating. She’s brilliant. I’m a lucky dolt.
But anyway, when I can find a couple minutes I’ll get those posts up, if only because I don’t want to start next week as deep in the red as I’ve spent the last several days. And next week, the Kylesa and Cathedral reviews, an interview with Black Black Black, a look at a new tape by Purple Knights that just came in today’s mail, probably something about that new Queens of the Stone Age album if I can nail down who’s in the lineup on any given track, and so on and so forth. Rest assured, there will be posts, and probably more words than you’d ever have interest in reading.
Also, if you’ve emailed me in the last, well, month and I haven’t responded, I’ll be working on that this weekend as well. I’ve been in email transfer hell all week going from Thunderbird to Outlook. I don’t want to say it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, because one time I cut my leg open and had to have 140 stitches, but it has certainly made the fucking list.
Until Monday then, if you’ve got a question you should ask it, from the cradle to the casket. Womb to the tomb. Birth to the earth.
Have a great and safe weekend. Check out these things that are also on this site and formatted like the links at the ends of reviews:
Posted in Reviews on April 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Since the release of their 2010 self-titled debut, Blaak Heat Shujaa have moved from Paris to Los Angeles — with a stop in New York City as well for a time — have honed their desert rocking chops on tours with Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man, have signed with Tee Pee Records, completed a documentary series about their recording sessions with the venerable Scott Reeder and have taken those sessions and split them into two releases: the late-2012 The Storm GenerationEP and their sophomore full-length, The Edge of an Era — shooting videos and playing gigs all the while as well. With that much going on, it’s not much of a surprise that The Edge of an Erais a different beast than was the self-titled, but what is striking about the album is how cohesive it is. On first listen, it makes sense as to why the trio — guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier, bassist Antoine Morel-Vulliez and drummer Mike Amster – divided the output from the Reeder sessions. The Edge of an Era focuses is on a singular atmosphere that’s served well by its six component tracks; the material on The Storm Generation(review here) wasn’t lacking for quality, it just didn’t fit. And where the band probably could’ve forced the issue and included most of those songs here — a move that might’ve put the album’s runtime more in line with the 63-minute self-titled (review here) instead of the vinyl-friendly 41:27 the finished product clocks — The Edge of an Erais unquestionably a stronger whole for the structure of its parts, running social/political lyrical themes through organic tones with a marked flow from piece to piece that nonetheless shows development in the experimental side that showed itself on the prior outing. Fatso Jetson‘s Mario Lalli donates vocals and lyrics to the penultimate “Pelham Blue,” making that track an automatic standout and highlighting just how much influence Blaak Heat Shujaa has culled from the desert in which it now rests its collective head, and poet/tourmate Ron Whitehead, who contributed to The Storm Generation as well, launches the album with “Closing Time, Last Exit,” a rising-toward-clarity free-association spoken word in which gonzo, Jesus, Buddha, Hunter S. Thompson and other mythological figureheads are namechecked before we arrive at the starting point just under a minute later: “America is an illusion.”
A fun bit of knowledge to drop, rife with Baby Boomer shock value and wake-you-up-to-challenge-what-exactly exclamation (it seems a fruitless endeavor to rag on the gonzo types; that cat’s been out of the bag since well before I came along to call it self-indulgent), but more importantly, it sets up a good amount of the perspective from which The Edge of an Erais executed. The point of view, like the band, is young, but coherent, and met with fuzz not driven so much by a heavy psych wash of effects in Bellier‘s guitar, but by a dry-sand clarity that finds root in Morel-Vulliez‘s basslines while Amster‘s drumming holds the songs together allowing the other two players to wander over the course of longer jams like that emerging from “The Obscurantist Fiend (The Beast Pt. I),” the initial rush of which takes hold immediately following Whitehead‘s last pronouncement. Time and again throughout the record, Blaak Heat Shujaa prove adept at balancing stillness with movement instrumentally — Bellier‘s post-Cisneros vocal approach is suited to either, frankly, though in the faster parts he seems more inclined to let the guitar do the talking — and that begins with “The Obscurantist Fiend (The Beast Pt. I)” as a slowdown brings hypnotic repeating of a start-stop progression soon to serve as the foundation not just for Bellier’s verse, but the long instrumental stretch that follows. Amster and Morel-Vulliez make it work, the former with a kind of descending progression that winds up on the crash with each cycle as the latter works to gradually expand the base from which the guitars take flight. It is one of the record’s most melodically satisfying instrumental stretches that ensues, rising and cascading in tempo with a solo taking hold before arriving at starts and stops almost frenetic in their tension thanks to Amster‘s fills, double-kick and so on. At seven minutes, they launch into the next stage, bringing the groove to a head as Bellier and Morel-Vulliez align to ignite the melodic apex before sleepily jamming the way out of the song and directly into “Shadows (The Beast Pt. II)” via a sweet bassline worthy of the quieter moments of any Brant Bjork record you might want to name, the actual progression keeping the same starts and stops from the prior cut, but changing the context to something altogether more comforting.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A couple weeks ago, I plugged a weekender starting April 17 in California with The Freeks, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and Blaak Heat Shujaa. Turns out that’s only part of the story, as Blaak Heat Shujaa are hitting the road for another stretch a few days after that one ends, the two sets of shows comprising a West Coast tour in support of their new album and full-length Tee Pee Records debut, The Edge of an Era.
That album is out April 9. Here are the dates:
Blaak Heat Shujaa on Tour
04.17 The Slidebar – Fullerton, CA 04.18 Level 2 Bar – Cathedral City, CA 04.19 The Tin Can – San Diego, CA 04.20 Favorites – Las Vegas, NV 04.21 The Satellite – Los Angeles, CA 04.25 Luigi’s Fungarden – Sacramento, CA 04.26 Whiskey Dick’s – South Lake Tahoe, CA 04.27 Bender’s Bar & Grill – San Francisco, CA 04.28 The Night Light – Oakland, CA 04.29 The Blue Lagoon – Santa Cruz, CA
Posted in Features on March 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
…Yeah, I know, 24 is a buttload of records to buy in the span of about a month and a half. To do the division, it would mean buying a new album every 2.04 days. Probably not feasible in terms of time, let alone budget, but hell, it’s a nice thought and seeing the onslaught of new stuff coming between now and the end of April, I thought maybe a list would help keep it all straight. Even if I’m only helping myself, I could probably spend my time in worse ways.
Worth noting that even with 24 albums, presented below in order of release, I feel like there’s stuff I’m forgetting. Frankly, it’s an overwhelming amount of material, so if I’ve missed something or there’s something you’d like to see added to the list, as always, that’s why there’s a comments feature.
Okay. These are numbered just for fun, but listed by date:
1. Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Fans (March 12)
My understanding is that London’s foremost doom scoundrels, none other than Orange Goblin, have been selling copies of A Eulogy for the Fans since starting their US tour with Clutch on March 8 in Cincinnati, Ohio, but today is the official release date, and I can think of no better place to start than with the four-piece’s ferocious performance at the 2012 Bloodstock festival, captured audio and video in all its bloodsoaked glory. Not to be missed or taken lightly because it’s a live record. Album review here.
2. Borracho, Mob Gathering 7″ (March 13)
Even though it’s comprised of older tracks, the new Mob Gathering 7″ from Borracho is welcome by me for two reasons: I’ve never heard the songs before and Borracho rocks. The Washington D.C.-based riffers recorded “Mob Gathering” and “Short Ride (When it’s Over)” in 2009 and are set to release the cuts on a limited platter in black and orange swirl through Spain’s Ghost Highway Recordings and Germany’s No Balls Records. They’ve been playing live as a mostly-instrumental outfit while guitarist/vocalist Noah is out of the country on what I can only assume is an awesome spy mission, so if you need a Borracho fix — and it’s obvious from the way your hands are shaking that you do — this might be the way to go. More info here.
3. Inter Arma, Sky Burial (March 15)
Like Windhand below, Inter Arma are recent Relapse Records signees from Richmond, Virginia, and Sky Burial will serve as their first release for the label. Literally and figuratively, the album is expansive, topping 69 minutes and pummeling the whole way through with a genre-transcending concoction of bleakness that’s not so much aligned to any particular heavy aesthetic so much as it is set to its own atmospheric purposes. Through this, Inter Arma emerge terrifyingly cohesive where many others would falter, and their second LP behind 2010′s Sundown (review here) leaves a progressive impression despite an almost complete lack of sonic pretense. Mostly, it’s fucking heavy. Track stream and info here.
4. Clutch, Earth Rocker (March 19)
If 2013 ended tomorrow, Clutch‘s Earth Rocker would be my album of the year. That’s not saying the situation will be the same nine months from now when I actually start putting that list together (already dreading it), but as of March 12, it’s the cat’s pajamas and no foolin’. The long-running Marylanders outdid themselves and put together a surprisingly fast, energetic collection of songs that don’t forsake the bluesy tendencies of their last album, 2009′s Strange Cousins from the West, so much as they put some of the jamming on lockdown in favor of all-out pro-grade heavy rock and roll. The velocity is crucial and the wolfman is out, but it feels like the party’s just starting. Look for them on tour sometime between now and forever. Album review here.
5. Black Mare, Field of the Host (March 20)
Black Math Horseman and Ides of Gemini frontwoman Sera Timms (who’s also recently collaborated with Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce in the new outfit Zun) steps further out on her own with the solo-project Black Mare, from whom Field of the Host is the first album. Due March 20 on LP through The Crossing and on cassette through Breathe Plastic, limited in both cases and sure to be gone shortly after release if they’re not already taken through pre-orders. Fans of Timms‘ past works will be glad to hear the misty wash of melody and dreamy, somehow sad, languid roll of “Blind One,” for starters. Audio and info on the forum.
6. Kvelertak, Meir (March 26)
Short of setting themselves on fire, Norwegian triple-guitar six-piece Kvelertak did just about everything they could to get noticed in support of their 2010 self-titled debut LP (review here), and sure enough, their work paid off in getting signed to Roadrunner Records for all territories outside their native Scandinavia (where Indie Recordings holds sway) and trumpeting up a wave of anticipation for their second full-length, Meir. Their energetic, genre-crossing approach might not be for everybody, but the band have turned a lot of heads and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to find them on bigger tours this year with Roadrunner behind them. More info on the forum.
7. Black Pyramid, Adversarial (April 2)
This is actually the first time the Eli Wood cover art for Black Pyramid‘s Adversarial has been seen in full, so you know. The Hydro-Phonic Records release of the third Black Pyramid album and first to be fronted by guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard along with bassist David Gein and drummer Clay Neely punctuates the beginning of a new era for the Massachusetts trio. If the advance listen to closing track “Onyx and Obsidian” is anything to go by, they could very well be at their most potent yet, and though I’d hardly consider myself an impartial observer, as a fan of the band, this is one I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. More to come. Track stream here.
8. Moss, Horrible Night (April 2)
I’ve yet to hear the complete album, but UK trio Moss seem poised to surprise with a cleaner vocal approach on Horrible Night, their first offering since 2008′s impressive Sub Templum LP and two EPs in 2009, so in addition to wondering how they’ll pull it off, the level of the shift remains to be seen. That is, how big a deal is it? Should I call my mom? Is this something grandma needs to know about? Time will tell, but for it having been five years since the last time a Moss record reared its doomly head, it seems only fair to give the band a little breathing room on their evolution. More info and video here.
9. Mars Red Sky, Be My Guide EP (April 8)
How glad am I that French fuzz rockers Mars Red Sky have a new EP coming? Well, I’m not as happy that it’s coming as I am that it’s frickin’ awesome. The trio keep the weighted bass tones that gave so much depth to their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but they’ve also clearly set to work expanding the formula as well, adding stomp to second track “Seen a Ghost” and an eerie repetitive sense to side B closer “Stranger,” while also broadening their melodic reach and taking claim of whichever side of the line they want between fuzz rock and heavy psychedelia while remaining so much more to the ears than either genre descriptor can offer to the eyes. At half an hour, my only complaint with it is it’s not a full-length album. Video trailer and info here.
10. Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era (April 9)
A sample of the poet Ron Whitehead — who also featured on Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s late-2012 debut EP for Tee Pee Records, The Storm Generation (review here) — comes to clarity just in time for the gonzo Boomer poet to let us all know that, “America is an illusion” (that may be, but it’s an illusion with an army of flying killer robots), and from there, the youngin’ desert transplants embark on a low-end-heavy freakout topped with sweet surf rock guitars and set to use in intricate, sometimes surprisingly jagged, rhythmic dances. Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson guests, Scott Reeder produced. Review is forthcoming, but till then, there’s more info here.
11. Devil to Pay, Fate is Your Muse (April 9)
Fate is Your Muse serves not only as Indianapolis rockers Devil to Pay‘s Ripple Music debut, but also as the double-guitar foursome’s first outing since 2009′s Heavily Ever After. With tales of lizardmen attacks and the alleged end of the world, it’s got its fair share of personality, and set to the chugging riffs, melodic vocals and straightforward heavy grooves, that personality still goes a long way. I’ll have a review up before this week is out (I hope), but still, I wanted to make sure to include Devil to Pay here too, since their songs command both attention and respect. To wit, I just can’t seem to get “This Train Won’t Stop” out of my head. Video and info here.
12. Cough & Windhand, Reflection of the Negative Split (April 15)
Virginian doomers Cough and Windhand share a hometown in Richmond, a love of volume, a bassist in Parker Chandler and now a label in Relapse Records, so yeah, a split makes sense. Reflection of the Negative will be Windhand‘s first release through Relapse ahead of their sophomore full-length, scheduled for later this year (info here). For Cough, this split marks their first outing since 2010′s An Introduction to the Black Arts split with UK masters The Wounded Kings (review here), and they’ll present the 18-minute “Athame,” while Windhand bring forth “Amaranth” and “Shepherd’s Crook.” More info here.
13. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Mind Control (April 15)
What the last Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats album, 2011′s Blood Lust (semi-review here), did so well was capture the atmosphere and the grainy imagery of late ’60s/early ’70s psychedelic horror and put it into audio form. For that, Blood Lust earned massive praise, but I still think that without the central core of songwriting underneath the genre trappings, it would’ve fallen flat. When it comes to Mind Control, the question waiting to be answered is if the band wants to stick to the blueprint they’ve established or go brazenly into uncharted weirdness. I’m not really sure they can lose, either way. Info and music here.
14. Kadavar, Abra Kadavar (April 16)
Their debut on new label Nuclear Blast and the quick-arriving answer to my pick for 2012 debut of the year, Abra Kadavar arrives with plenty of anticipation leading the way. The retro-rocking German trio have their work cut out for them in following that self-titled, but however it turns out in the comparison, it will be fascinating to learn how Kadavar develops the band’s sound and whether or not they prove able to push the boundaries of their aesthetic while simultaneously setting a new standard for promo photos. New video here.
15. Spiritual Beggars, Earth Blues (April 16)
I guess when it comes to these long-running Swedes, everybody’s got their favorite lineup, their favorite tunes, etc., but for me, I’m just impressed that Michael Amott — now more than 20 years on from starting Spiritual Beggars as a side-project while still in grindcore pioneers Carcass — still has any interest in keeping the classic rock Hammond-loving outfit grooving. Their last outing, 2010′s Return to Zero (review here), was the first to feature vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, formerly of Firewind, and though those songs were solid, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re more settled in on Earth Blues when it drops via InsideOut Music on April 16. More info on the forum.
16. Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire (April 19)
Alternating between periods of brooding intensity and all-out crushing heaviness, the second full-length from New Zealand’s Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire, is nasty, nasty, nasty. It’s nasty when it’s quiet and it’s nasty when it’s loud. It’s the kind of record you put on and you’re like, “Damn that’s nasty.” And you’re not wrong. The four-piece — touring shortly with Unida — upped their game even from 2011′s self-titled debut (review here), and for anyone who heard that record, you know that’s saying something. I’m still in the “getting to know it” phase, but so far all that nasty feels pretty right on. More info here.
17. Ghost, Infestissumam (April 19)
Man, this one just kind of happened, huh? I suck — and I mean S-U-C-K suck — at keeping up with band hype. I’m the dude who hears the record three months later and goes, “Yeah, I guess that’s cool,” as countless reviews here can attest, including the one for Ghost‘s 2010 debut, Opus Eponymous, but with the Swedish cult heavyweights, all of a sudden I turned around and blamo, major label deal, semi-name change to Ghost B.C., and enough slathering over the impending Infestissumam to make the first album seem like less than the hyperbole it was treated to initially. Funny how that happens. Out in April? I’m sure I’ll review in June and go, “Yeah, I guess that’s cool.” More info on the forum.
18. One Inch Giant, The Great White Beyond (April 19)
Now signed to Soulseller Records, Swedish heavy rockers One Inch Giant will unveil their debut full-length on April 19 and as three of my favorite words in the English language are “Swedish heavy rockers,” I’m excited to find out how this Gothenburg four-piece follow-up their Malva EP, and if they can capture some of the extreme dynamic they brought to their live show when they toured the US last summer — a run of shows that included a stop at SHoD. Hard not to pull for a band after they come over to play club dates. More info and music here.
19. The Heavy Co., Midwest Electric (April 20)
It was actually the other day writing about The Heavy Co.‘s Midwest Electric that I had the idea for this feature, so however high the profile might be for some of these albums — Ghost walks by on their way to cash a check — it was these unpretentious Hoosier rockers and their new outing, Midwest Electric, that started me off. From what I’ve heard so far, the new collection sounds a little more confident in exploring psychedelia than did the trio’s 2011 debut EP, The Heavy (Please Tune In…) (review here), so I’m looking forward to hearing if and how that plays out over the course of the whole thing. Video trailer here.
20. Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man (April 23)
I have an interview slated for later this week with Gozu guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, and I’m even more excited for this time than I was when we last spoke, around their 2009 Small Stone debut, Locust Season (review here), since in everything but its goofball song titles, the sophomore outing marks a huge developmental step in the band’s melodic reach and songwriting chemistry. Stay tuned for that interview and check out the Bandcamp stream included with the album review here.
21. Yawning Man & Fatso Jetson, European Tour Split 7″ (April 26)
Note: I don’t actually know that April 26 is the day that what’s sure to be 2013′s most desert-rocking split is due to arrive, I just know that it’s Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man‘s European tour split, and that’s the day the Euro dates start — with performances at Desertfests London and Berlin, to be more specific. Given both the greatness of Fatso Jetson‘s last record, 2010′s Archaic Volumes (review here), and of Yawning Man‘s own 2010 outing, Nomadic Pursuits (review here), the bands’ shared lineage and the relative infrequency of their touring, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to hope that, even for a single, they pull out all the stops. And starts. And riffs. More info on the forum.
22. Serpent Throne, Brother Lucifer (April 29)
Philly-based instrumental heavy rockers Serpent Throne will follow-up 2010′s White Summer/Black Winter (review here) with Brother Lucifer, and while no one can ever really know what to expect, it’s a safe bet that the dual-guitar outfit will have the solos front and center once again. Having seen them do a couple new songs back in December, I can’t blame them in the slightest. Looking forward to letting these songs sink in for a while and having those solos stuck in my head. Track stream here.
23. Melvins, Everybody Loves Sausages (April 30)
Hey wow, a Melvins covers album. Finally, an opportunity for the band to let their hair down and go wild a bit, right? I mean, at long last, they can really feel free to indulge a little and explore their musical roots in a free and creative way. Okay, you get the point. In all seriousness, it’s a pretty cool idea and anything that teams the Melvins with Scott Kelly to do a Venom song is probably going to be a worthy cause. The most amazing part of it is they haven’t already done a version of “Black Betty.” More info on the forum.
24. Revelation, Inner Harbor (April 30)
Their most progressive outing yet and their first album since 2009, Revelation‘s Inner Harbor (review here) is bound to surprise some who thought they knew what to expect from the Maryland doom stalwarts who double as the classically rocking Against Nature. Good thing Inner Harbor had a digital release last year through the band’s Bland Hand Records to act as a precursor to this Shadow Kingdom CD issue. Rumor has it vinyl’s on the way as well, so keep an eye out, since John Brenner‘s guitar tone should be heard on as natural-sounding an apparatus as possible. More info here.
Okay, so you’re saying to yourself, “Golly, that’s a lot of stuff.” You’re absolutely right. But even as I was typing up this feature, I got word of a new Queen Elephantine full-length coming in April, so even as much as this is, it’s not everything. And that’s not even to mention May, which will bring a new Shroud Eater EP, a new Kylesa record and a new Mark Lanegan collaboration, among however much else. Tons of stuff to keep your ears out for, and like I said way back at the top of this thing, if you have something to add, a comment’s always appreciated.
I thought we’d start the week off with something upbeat, and since German retro rockers Kadavar posted this video the other day for “All Our Thoughts” from their self-titled 2012 debut, the fit was too good to ignore. So too is the track itself, which was the most memorable from the album, setting the tone for much of it with a distinct snare sound and ultra-natural tonality.
The video follows stylized suit, filmed on what looks like Super 8 but was actually an iPhone on cliffs in Sardinia, presumably while Kadavar was there last year playing Duna Jam. As you can see with the cliffs and the beach, the setting is gorgeous. A distinct lack of mics would seem to indicate this clip wasn’t actually filmed during their set, but the audio from Kadavar‘s performance at Duna Jam is also available for streaming if you want to check it out:
Lots of stuff coming up this week. I’m about to post some Deville tour news in a bit, and then it’s time to dig in on a review of the Enslaved/Pallbearer/Royal Thunder/Ancient VVisdom show last Friday. Tomorrow I’ll have a writeup and pics from Acid King/Kings Destroy/Blackout in Brooklyn, and before this week is over, I’ll have a review of the new Clutch album, so much to keep an eye open for. I’m also slated to interview Paul Major from Endless Boogie tomorrow about their new album, Long Island (review here), so that should hopefully be up this week or next.
Also hoping to get a Buried Treasure post about up about Serpentine Path and talk about Rabbits‘ innovative package for their latest single, so yeah, lots and lots to come. If my head doesn’t explode before then, I’m also going to Samothrace on Friday in Brooklyn, so yeah, one thing leads to the next to the next. You know how it is.
I hope your week is off to an excellent start and that the kickassery remains for the duration. If you’re bored at work, I might suggest the Mystery Science Theater 3000 thread on the forum as a way to destroy productivity, and I don’t know if you’ve checked in, but The Obelisk Radio is up and running smoothly since we switched hosts. Think of it like Pandora that doesn’t just play the same 10 songs. Awesome.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Following up on the recent unveiling the cover art for their forthcoming full-length label debut on Tee Pee Records, L.A. heavy psych rockers Blaak Heat Shujaa have announced even more details about The Edge of an Era. The PR wire a moment ago sent over the tracklisting and confirmed the album for an April 9 release.
Los Angeles Space Psych Trio BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA to Release New Album “The Edge of an Era” April 9
“Heavy Mental” psych rock band BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA will release their sophomore LP The Edge of an Era, on April 9. The follow up to the Los Angeles trio’s critically acclaimed Tee Pee debut, The Storm Generation, The Edge of an Era sees the über-talented group’s enticing blend of genres combine to shape a sound unlike anything you’ve likely heard before; one that has been called “a dissonant symphony unveiling visions of great natural expanses”. Produced by desert session legend Scott Reeder (Sunn O))), The Obsessed) and mastered at Ventura, CA’s Golden Mastering (Primus, Sonic Youth, Calexico),The Edge of an Era boasts guest appearances by both Nobel Prize-nominated gonzo poet Ron Whitehead and desert rock pioneer Mario Lalli (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson) adding even more color to BLAAK HEAT’s signature psych.
BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA’s transcendental tension between its heavy rock roots and an organic inclination to drift towards psychedelia pays homage to the vast collection of mind-expanding sounds the trio grew up on: neo-psychedelia, surf rock, spaghetti westerns, Middle Eastern scales and even Far Eastern melodies! Striking, imaginative cover art courtesy of Paris-based Arrache toi un oeil! collective (Brian Jonestown Massacre, TV on the Radio, Acid Mothers Temple) and inspired by the album title adds to the kaleidoscopic lean of the record from the band who boasts a cinematic sound that has been called “Heavy Spaghedelia” and “Kyussian”, featuring “psychedelic, meditative, trance-inducing” and “spacey atmospheres”. Prepare to take a windswept magic carpet ride over vast plains of astral soundtrack psychedelia!!
1.) Closing Time, Last Exit (0:57) 2.) The Obscurantist Fiend (The Beast Part I) (10:21) 3.) Shadows (The Beast Part II) (8:11) 4.) Society of Barricades (8:20) 5.) Pelham Blue (5:19) 6.) Land of the Freaks, Home of the Brave (8:22)
Currently based in L.A., psychedelic desert rockers Blaak Heat Shujaa will make their full-length debut on Tee Pee Records with The Edge of an Eraon April 9. Today I have the pleasure of hosting for your check-it-outs the cover art by the Paris-based Arrache toi un oeil! collective. Below, artist Emy Rojas give some background on the inspiration for the pieces. The Edge of an Erawas produced by none other than Scott “Yes that Scott Reeder” Reeder and follows on the heels of BHS‘ Tee Pee debut EP, The Storm Generation(review here).
According to guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier, The Edge of an Erawill have two separate covers — one for the digipak CD release and one for the vinyl, both courtesy of Rojas, who offered the following:
“Arrache toi un oeil! made many silk screened gig posters in Paris, that’s how Thomas from Blaak Heat Shujaa discovered my work and then asked me to work on the cover of the album. The title “The edge of an era” inspired me a lot, something psychedelic, mystical, cosmic that flies away…and, at some point, ends but then announces something new. So I tried to have an image of this idea which also matched the style of the band. When I draw a cover, I always listen to the band to get closer to its universe, that’s very important for me.”
Here is the artwork in hi-resolution. Please click either image to enlarge.
The Edge of an Era is due out April 9. Stay tuned for more on the album ahead of the release.
…And they do it in grand style, with a short teaser clip of spaced-out sonics set to a red-skied open field. The Brooklyn-based psychonauts have never exactly wanted for atmosphere, but if you had the chance to hear last year’s The Ballad of the Starchild EP, then you know that much weirdness is afoot and that it’s working for them. Very much looking forward to hearing what Naam get down to on Vow when the album drops on June 4. I have the feeling they could surprise a lot of people.
Here’s the teaser, with assurances of more to come:
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Put this one in your “Oh, What Could’ve Been” file. According to a post on their Thee Facebooks page, Toronto-based psychedelic dreamers Quest for Fire have decided to abandon the search. We told them that it’s winter and all our caveman asses will freeze if they don’t keep going, but then they reminded us that it’s the future and to go adjust the thermostat. Still a bummer.
If you never heard it, Quest for Fire‘s last album, 2010′s Lights from Paradise(review here), was frickin’ brilliant, all hazed out and shoegazing but thick in the low end and memorably hypnotic. It’s a shame they won’t get to follow it up, though I suppose if Chad Ross decides to dedicate more of his time to his Nordic Nomadic side-project — he released Worldwide Skylinein 2011 (review here) — that’s not exactly a tragic fate either.
Whatever happens, Quest for Fire was a good band and too bad they didn’t get to do more in their time. Please find the announcement in full below, its lack of capitalization maintained for posterity:
after 6 amazing years we have officially decided to call it quits. sorry to all the kind folks out there that were expecting a new record in 2013…. but we promise you, a few new bands are already in the works. good things on the horizon!
lots of great tours, good friends (old and new), good jams, heavy parties, and long roads, will be filed away, forever foggy and shining in our collective memories.
thanks for the love! QFF.
our last show will be at the horseshoe tavern in toronto, on february 15, 2013. some special guests will be announced shortly.
Posted in Reviews on December 10th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
A precursor release to introduce Blaak Heat Shujaa to the Tee Pee Records roster before the trio make their first full-length impression on the label in 2013, The Storm Generation reunites the uprooted psychedelic outfit with producer Scott Reeder. Reeder helmed Blaak Heat Shujaa’s 2010 self-titled debut (review here) and makes his presence felt likewise throughout The Storm Generation’s six tracks/32 minutes in the tones and drum sounds captured with a live feel from guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier, bassist Antoine Morel-Vulliez and drummer Mike Amster, whose sense of adventure extends not only to the open jams present here in instrumental cuts like “Incident at Stinson Beach” – on which they unleash their inner Yawning Man – and the later ‘The Storm/We are the Fucking Storm,” but also to the mere fact that in the last two years, Blaak Heat Shujaa have moved from Paris to New York (from whence Bellier unveiled his Ehécatl side-project; review here) and on to Los Angeles, where they now reside. Morel-Vulliez’s bass is once again of particular note throughout the material on The Storm Generation, and a spoken word guest appearance from tourmate/poet Ron Whitehead on “The Manifesto” helps expand the lysergic palate. Whitehead goes on a fireside mini-rant about quantum physics and gonzo journalism – as one will – and though I might disagree about the correlation between the two, he nonetheless feeds into Blaak Heat Shujaa’s overarching desert-as-spiritual-center sensibility. Two extended tracks, side A opener “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” (11:04) and side B counterpart “Helios” (8:50) provide a base from which each half of the EP expands, and particularly with “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant,” the three-piece begin to show a growth in scope that will hopefully continue to typify their work on the subsequent sophomore long-player, fading in backwards to a point before turning quickly and darting off on a quick bass and drum-led progression that seems to meet at the intersection where desert rock once emerged from surf.
Though obviously not on the instrumental tracks, Bellier’s vocals feature throughout The Storm Generation and show progression in their post-Al Cisneros approach. Likewise, his guitar has no trouble keeping up with Morel-Vulliez’s bass runs, and he answers himself in layers of drawn out echoes and precise lead notes. Tying “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” together is Amster’s creative drumming. As Bellier’s verses become incantations and Morel-Vulliez races alongside, it’s Amster marking the path they’re taking, and when the pace cuts after the three-minute mark to a slower plod, it’s Amster’s cymbals acting as the foundation from which Bellier’s solo soars. Performance-wise, there’s little more to ask of the young outfit than they deliver on the EP’s opener – so it’s a good place to start, I guess – but the crux of the track really shows itself in the bass-led stillness of the midsection, where, Om-style, they pull into a minimalist movement of quiet contemplation, somehow still maintaining the tension of the song’s earlier moments in sudden cymbal mutes and guitar stops, but nonetheless setting a build in motion that they skillfully bring to bear in the ensuing fuzz and crashes that hit past the 7:40 mark. As intense as they can be at times, they’re patient in this build and before nine minutes in, break to let Morel-Vulliez lead the way into the final movement, which once more plays deft tempo changes off each other and finds Bellier tapping into minor-key Eastern scales to add to the mystical vibe. With about 45 seconds left, they return to the opening progression and bring “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” full-circle. I thought they might throw a last verse in there – very subtly did the opener become instrumental for its last eight minutes – but no dice. “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” gives way to the guitar intro of “Incident at Stinson Beach,” compressed and complemented by a simple drum line that sounds like some ancient 45 is spinning for the first half-minute. After that, wah swirl takes hold and they move into strongly percussive high desert bounce – sort of a verse to the wah’s soon-returning chorus. They jam a bit while Bellier takes a solo and then provide quick culmination before Amster ends on drums and completes The Storm Generation’s gamut from its most grandiose track to arguably its least.
Posted in Features on December 10th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Think of it as proof that sometimes self-indulgence pays dividends. Clocking in at a grandiose 19:20, the closing track of L.A. progressive heavy rockers Ancestors‘ third full-length, In Dreams and Time, accomplished a complete album flow unto itself, marrying efficient songwriting to wide-open atmospheres, structured verses to droning ambience, and instrumental build to impeccably arranged vocals. But “First Light” was more than just conceptually brilliant — more than the sum of its parts or the scope with which they were laid out. It was a landmark for the album (review here) and for the band’s ongoing stylistic development.
Guitarist/vocalist Justin Maranga gave insight into how it came together in an interview earlier this year:
We often start at the end – not intentionally, it just happens to work out that way – but I think it started with that guitar riff, which I had been fucking around with for an hour before everybody got to practice one day. I just kind of stumbled into it… It took on a color of its own when everybody else started playing, and then I think it started there and Jason [Watkins, organ/vocals] brought in the end of the song, that chord progression. He brought that in on organ, and I thought it was beautiful, and once I understood it – it’s kind of long – before it repeats, it’s long – and once Nick [Long, bass] and I understood it, I think we jammed on that organ part for two or three hours before we found where we liked to sit in it…
He came in with his beautiful bassline, which accents what Jason’s playing in just the right way, that I can’t help but just want to solo over it. Sometimes I feel super-self-indulgent with the solos like that, but I don’t want to write a part over it, I just want to play. Jason wrote [the string] arrangement; it’s incredible, and it’s only a cello and a violin, but they recorded like six parts each and it ended up sounding like an orchestra and it blew my mind… When we strung it all together, it worked as a song, and you don’t fight that. Jason wrote I think by far the best lyrics he’s ever written… where the solo dies out and the vocals come back in, those are my favorite lyrics that we’ve ever had – “A city stands in dreams and time/In which reside a thousand lies/You can see the lights from waking life/And hear the cries in sacred night…”
The track was not only a high point of the album, but I’ll gladly argue it’s the best single piece Ancestors have ever constructed. To properly examine it, you almost have to look at the individual movements — that opening riff that Maranga talked about and how you’re swept up by it before you even realize it’s begun, the immediacy of the early verses and the smoothness of the transition into the extended sprawling midsection in which Matt Barks‘ synth drones serve as the bed for the slow psychedelic soundscaping — Long‘s bass providing movement with Jamie Miller‘s drumming while Watkins‘ organ overwhelms with lush melody — the arrival of the album’s titular line (noted above) and the gradual creeping in of Maranga‘s guitar, which slowly, patiently, comes to consume “First Light” with what has to be the most emotive guitar solo I’ve heard in the last four years.
Seriously. I’m not a guitar guy. I don’t play, and when it comes to solos, I can appreciate the technicality involved, but ultimately I’m left cold by most. Maranga‘s work on “First Light,” on the other hand, pulls you in so many different directions — and the rest of the band follows it so wonderfully — that it’s impossible not to be taken. By then you’re more than 10 minutes in and there’s still so much to travel through, but how could that not be the apex of the song and of the album? What else could it possibly be?
After 15 minutes in, they quiet down only to revive with what seems like an epilogue progression until the vocals’ triumphant harmonies provide clue that the real peak is still to come. Strings arrive and cap the swirl of “First Light”‘s build and as quickly as it came, as quickly as it brought you into its world and carried you along with it through highs and lows even more vast than the runtime of the song itself, it ends. The last remnant following a final pulsing build is string echo and it passes like life itself, a final reminder that at the heart of everything is mortality, even for that which seems to move outside of time.
The only real competition Ancestors‘ “First Light” had this year as a singular work came from Colour Haze‘s “Grace” or Om‘s “Gethsemane,” and it’s not lost on me that all three feature string accompaniment. I’m not sure what that says about the scope of the genre or the general willingness of acts to step into “outside” elements, but I do think “First Light” stands up as a defining moment in their career and a bold push into sonic territory that few would be able to claim as their own. The word is often overused, and I’m guilty of it as well, but to call it anything less than epic is to do it a disservice.
Posted in Features on December 6th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
There was a point over this past summer at which it seemed like every single day brought another exclamation of Kadavar‘s righteousness. A relatively recent trio from Berlin, their self-titled debut full-length epitomized vinyl-revival ethics front to back, brought to public conscious by Tee Pee Records in the US and This Charming Man in Europe. In a straightforward 34 minutes, the six-track outing made almost every moment a highlight — with vehement allegiance to vintage tones (and looks) and well-crafted heavy grooves, Kadavar honed probably the best retro stylization to come since Witchcraft made their opening statement eight years ago.
Engaging, burning-tube guitar tones and semi-blown out vocals that in a different context wouldn’t be so different from what Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats brought to their landmark Blood Lustlast year made a cut like side B opener “Goddess of Dawn” as vital musically as it was accessible for the niche audience to whom it was speaking. Songs throughout Kadavar‘s Kadavarwere catchy and rife with hooks, and the response they got was suitably massive, but from the launch of “All Our Thoughts” (streaming here) to the bizarre psychedelia of eight-minute finale “Purple Sage,” the album earned the hyperbole to which it was treated and made a strong entry for Kadavar into the crowded European retro market.
And for a debut to be so cohesive stylistically and have such a clear sense of purpose only makes it more impressive. Kadavarwould have thrilled as a band’s third album, never mind their first, but for guitarist/vocalist Wolf Lindemann, bassist Mammut and drummer Tiger, the LP and the huge success of their aesthetic and songcraft seemed as natural as the recording itself. Without a doubt, there was huge potential to be heard throughout songs like “Black Sun,” the swaying “Forgotten Past” or the bass-driven penultimate “Creature of the Demon,” but already Kadavar have hit the mark their first time out, and Kadavaris not only 2012′s most essential debut release, but also one of the best albums of the year.
Watching Blaak Heat Shujaa in the desert with a bunch of tripped-out effects is like watching a nature special with some kind of sun-drenched lizard in its natural habitat. They just fit. Same applies to the poet Ron Whitehead, who features in the Paris-then-New-York-then-Los-Angeles trio’s new video for the song “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” — an 11-plus minute track taken from their upcoming Tee Pee Records debut EP, The Storm Generation, due out Dec. 11.
Whitehead plays a kind of desert guru — so basically himself — in the clip, which was directed by Cole Jenkins and Andrew Baxter, who you might recall from having helmed Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s docu-series of the recording of their next full-length and West Coast tour with Whitehead and other luminaries from out that way. The video was filmed at Vista Point, which by all accounts (including Yawning Man‘s, who named a record after it) is the place to be.
Blaak Heat Shujaa, “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant”
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
More big things to come from desert-by-way-of-Paris (which is the way to go if you’re gonna go) rockers Blaak Heat Shujaa. The band have announced that their Tee Pee label debut full-length will be preceded by an EP titled The Storm Generation that’s due out early next month. Waste no time. No doubt their youthful impatience will prove to the benefit of all parties involved.
The PR wire sounds the alert:
Heavy Psychedelic Rock Band BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA to Release New EP “The Storm Generation” on December 11
Los Angeles Trio Completes Work on “Mind Expanding” Sophomore LP
“Heavy Mental” psych rockers BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA will release The Storm Generation, their debut EP for Tee Pee Records on December 11. On The Storm Generation, thick, colorful bass lines coexist with flying reverb guitars, ethereal chants and loud, tribal drums. Produced by Scott Reeder (Kyuss, The Obsessed) in the Mojave desert, the EP features a guest appearance by Nobel Prize-nominated gonzo poet Ron Whitehead, adding even more color to BLAAK HEAT’s signature psychedelia. The EP is a precursor to the band’s new full length The Edge of an Era, which is set for a March 26, 2013 release.
BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA’s enticing blend of genres has been called “a dissonant symphony unveiling visions of great natural expanses” and is unlike anything you’ve likely heard before. The band’s transcendental tension between its heavy rock roots and an organic inclination to drift towards psychedelia pays homage to the vast collection of mind-expanding sounds the trio grew up on: neo-psychedelia, surf rock, spaghetti westerns, Middle Eastern scales and Far Eastern melodies!
“We spent all summer at our LA studio working on the new record,” comments BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA guitarist / vocalist Thomas Bellier. “The creative vibe was unbelievable, and the music just kept flowing. Soon we had way more than needed for a full-length record, so we talked to Tee Pee Records about doing an EP before the album, which they agreed to. The EP has something for everyone: hints of surf rock, massive basses, psych solos, shades of metal…it unleashes the uniqueness of the Blaak Heat sound.”
The Storm Generation track listing:
1.) The Revenge Of The Feathered Pheasant 2.) Incident At Stinson Beach 3.) Helios 4.) The Manifesto 5.) The Storm / We Are The Fucking Storm 6.) Fusil Contra Fusil
Kudos to SoCal stoner/trad skater punks The Shrine for continuing to largely ignore the musical progression of the last 30 years in rock. Their 2012 Tee Pee debut, Primitive Blast(review here), was nothing if not aptly named, and the trio has continued to cut its collective teeth touring with Fu Manchu and apparently everyone else who will have them. Here’s to living the dream, go get ‘em, and so forth.
Today The Shrine premiered their video for “Whistlings of Death” from the album, and sure enough, skateboards, beer and youthful arrogance ensue. Ah, to be young and of a semi-normal shoe-size.
Clip and PR wire info follow. Make sure you watch it in HD for extra grain:
Venice, CA “Destroyers of Rock ‘n’ Roll” THE SHRINE released their new album Primitive Blast This summer and just returned from their first European tour (alongside stoner rock veterans Fu Manchu). Today, VICE’s Noisey premieres THE SHRINE’s new music video “Whistlings of Death”, a true-to-life mashup of everything the band lives for: skating pools, having fun and hammering home heavy, psychedelic, riff based rock. “Whistlings of Death” was shot and edited by Amanda Siegel (on super 8 and 16mm film) with extra footage contributed by Coan Buddy Nichols.