Wo Fat Premiere “Nightcomer” from Midnight Cometh

Posted in audiObelisk on May 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

wo fat

Texas fuzz forerunners Wo Fat are inching closer to the May 20 release date of their sixth album, Midnight Cometh (review here), on Ripple Music. The Dallas trio are newly returned from a second round through Europe alongside heavy rock chaosbringers Mothership that included stops at Desertfest in Berlin and London, as well as a host of packed-out club shows that only seemed to put an exclamation point on how much Wo Fat have grown over the last several years, in prestige as much as sound. They find themselves now among the foremost in the American heavy underground, legitimate ambassadors of US heavy with a sound of their own they’ve meticulously developed over the course of records like 2014’s The Conjuring (review here), 2012’s The Black Code (reviews here and here) — the two comprising an inescapable duo of LPs issued through Small Stone — and so on back through their catalog, each grown out of the accomplishments of the album before it. Crucially, while dealing familiar elements to their audience — heavy riffs, sprawling jams, bluesy vibes, an undercurrent of Southern grit and what guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump once referred to as “bayou juju” — they’ve never failed to move forward with each new release.

Midnight Cometh is no exception to that. I’ve already reviewed it — hence the link in the first sentence above — so I won’t dive too deep here, but the progression that Wo Fat have undertaken Wo-Fat-Midnight-Comethover their records, from one to the next, is as evident in the listening experience as it is clear in its intent. With an increased drive toward improvisation matched with a penchant for straightforward, landmark hooks like those in “Of Smoke and Fog” and “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind” and “Nightcomer” on the new album, Stump and drummer/vocalist Michael Walter (who played with bassist Ryan Lee of Crypt Trip on the Euro tour) still sound most of all like themselves, but increase their grasp on their aesthetic in a way that speaks not only to pushing themselves in their writing process, but to the chemistry they’ve developed on stage. They stand at the top of a crowded Dallas scene and have rightly garnered an international reputation for quality output, and as they ease into a more statesman-style role, their refusal to rest on past laurels becomes even more admirable. They are, to be blunt, the very best kind of heavy rock band.

With the record release looming like a devil at the crossroads of blues and fuzz, I’m thrilled to be able to premiere “Nightcomer,” the 10-minute closing track from Midnight Cometh. Don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say much about it other than it sums up a lot of what’s working best throughout the album preceding, and that if you know Wo Fat — and by now, you probably should — you’re going to be glad you took the time to dig in.

Please find the track on the player below, followed by some comment from Stump, and enjoy:

Kent Stump on “Nightcomer”

“’Nightcomer’ is a heavy voodoo blues doom jam. The name is a reference to the midnight rider at the crossroads of blues lore and it’s essentially about corporate greed, dealings with the devil and consequences.”

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Stone Machine Electric Premiere “I am Fire” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

stone machine electric

Wade patiently into the murky depths of Stone Machine Electric‘s first single from their new album, Sollicitus es Veritatem, and imagine that the Texas two-piece are setting the stage on which, as the title indicates, nightmares might become reality. Of course, the nightmare they’re talking about — at least if the album artwork is anything to go by — is 30-plus years of Republican anti-government rhetoric coming home to roost, but that otherworldly sense of darkness is evident in the opening of “I am Fire” as well. And as much as Stone Machine Electric — the duo of guitarist/vocalist William “Dub” Irvin and drummer/vocalist/Thereminist Mark Kitchensstone-machine-electric-posterteased jammy vibes with their late 2015 EP, The Amazing Terror (review here), “I am Fire” does wind up with a hook to go with its rolling groove, centering the nightmare in a real-world structure.

As much as this is the real world, anyway.

As previously announced, The Obelisk is presenting Stone Machine Electric‘s release show for Sollicitus es Veritatem, which takes place at The Grotto in Fort Worth on May 27 and finds Dub and Kitchens joined by FoggThinman Conspiracy and The FTW. My reasoning for climbing on board for said event was pretty simple: I dig Stone Machine Electric a lot. Their material has always kind of a weirdo underpinning, whether they’re working in open structured jams or more grounded songcraft, and in combination with a richness of tone often captured by Wo Fat‘s Kent Stump, the appeal is that you never quite know what Stone Machine Electric are going to do next. You’ll know what I mean as “I am Fire” jumps from its intro into the nod of the first verse. They’re still able to catch their audience off guard. I like that.

Sollicitus es Veritatem is out May 17 — though if you’re in Europe, you can apparently buy copies from Wo Fat‘s merch table now — and you can find the premiere of the “I am Fire” video below.

Please enjoy:

Stone Machine Electric, “I am Fire” official video

The Obelisk presents “I Am Fire” – the first track off Stone Machine Electric’s anticipated album “Sollicitus Es Veritatem”. The new album is set to be released May 17th, 2016.

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Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh: Sinister Wind Blowing

Posted in Reviews on April 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Wo Fat Midnight Cometh

There are few if any US heavy rock acts going who can match the consistent quality of Wo Fat‘s output over the last half-decade. The Dallas fuzz riffers have grown into a distinct and distinguished outfit that is always identifiable from release to release, but never fails to grow. This is true as well of their sixth studio LP, Midnight Cometh — also their first for Ripple Music after issuing 2014’s The Conjuring (review here) and 2012’s The Black Code (reviews here and here) on Small Stone — in that its six songs/49 minutes bring the band’s sound another step forward, as shown in adding percussion elements to opener “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind,” in the vocal confidence of guitarist Kent Stump and in the overarching fluidity of the trio’s jams, of which there are many, and the poise with which they blend the catchy hooks of “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind,” “Riffborn,” “Of Smoke and Fog,” “Le Dilemme de Detenu,” “Three Minutes to Midnight” and “Nightcomer” — yes, all six tracks — with the more open and improvised-feeling stretches.

In some ways, Wo Fat aren’t doing much different than they did on earlier outings like 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here) or 2008’s Psychedelonaut (review here), in that they blend a swamp boogie atmosphere with memorable songcraft, a jam-ready sensibility and strong chemistry between Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter, but they leave little room as to the question of whether or not that basic pattern has been refined, and while The Conjuring felt like a landmark in their ascent to the fore of the American heavy underground — it was the record that took them to Europe, for example — Midnight Cometh once again reaffirms that their position is well earned.

It does not fix what wasn’t broken in their sound, but neither is it stagnant. In much the same way Wo Fat‘s sound has become more identifiable over the last decade since their 2006 debut, The Gathering Dark, so too has it progressed. They begin at a tumult with “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind” but soon hammer out an upbeat groove over which Stump slides in a solo before a percussion-laden verse and are into the chorus before the two-minute mark, wasting no time in setting the table for much of what will follow and build on the Southern voodoo blues atmosphere represented in David Paul Seymour‘s cover art and which “Of Smoke and Fog,” “Three Minutes to Midnight” and “Nightcomer” would seem to address directly while second track “Riffborn” and side B opener “Le Dilemme de Detenu” take their focus elsewhere.

wo fat

The split between the two halves of Midnight Cometh is of particular note, since it’s something of a departure from The Conjuring, which wrapped with its 17-minute jam-minded title-track. Here, Wo Fat give each portion of the record a grand finale, in “Of Smoke and Fog” and “Nightcomer,” respectively, and the effect is to make the listening experience focused less on any individual piece than on the affect and the flow of the album as a whole. I wouldn’t argue with either methodology, particularly since while there are commonalities between songs mostly in the structuring of choruses, the band takes care to shift here and there in vibe, whether it’s the more stripped down “Riffborn,” which is faster and jams its way through its second half and out having long since left its hook behind, or the mega-swinging “Le Dilemme de Detenu” (“the dilemma of the detained”), with swagger enough for a full-length on its own, never mind the ultra-fluid hypnosis they’ve just enacted across “Of Smoke and Fog.”

That track — “Of Smoke and Fog” — emphasizes a lot of what Wo Fat have come to accomplish at this stage in their progression. It moves easily through hooks and jams and even trips out psychedelic around eight minutes in, but never lets go of its sense of purpose, and while it’s also the longest cut on Midnight Cometh at 10:47, it puts that time to use summarizing the album’s course. At the end of side B, “Nightcomer” works in a similar vein, but with a darker feel and bigger chorus, with Stump and Walter offering some vocal harmonies before the final jam. Prior to that, the penultimate “Three Minutes to Midnight” showcases the comfort level the trio feel in pushing out a faster hook and more straightforward songcraft — yet another stuck-in-your-head hook — while also bringing back some of the percussive elements of the opener, and the fact that their structures are no less molten than their jams, able to be manipulated to suit the purposes of a given track, is among Midnight Cometh‘s most engaging aspects.

Whatever the pace or trajectory, Wo Fat play like a band six albums deep. They know what they want their sound to do, they know how to make it happen, and they know that to keep it interesting for themselves and their audience, they need to continue to challenge beyond what they’ve done before. Stump has emerged as a frontman and sounds in command of the material here, and together with Walter and Wilson, they’re more of a power trio able to bring their live dynamic to a studio recording without sacrificing fidelity to the cause of a superficially organic sound. Midnight Cometh comes across as full and natural, and continues Wo Fat‘s streak of highlight outings, making it all the more apparent just how much they need to be in the conversation of the best currently active fuzz purveyors, within Texas or without. They’ve long since come into their own, but they’re reshaping what “their own” is, and it’s a joy to watch for those lucky enough to be paying attention. One of the year’s best in heavy.

Wo Fat, “Three Minutes to Midnight”

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Quarterly Review: Chron Goblin, Slabdragger, Jupiter, Izo, Cultist, Haoma, Spaceslug, Slush, Menimals, The Linus Pauling Quartet

Posted in Reviews on April 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

Thus ends another successful Quarterly Review. And by successful I mean I survived. There were a few minutes there when I actually thought about spreading this out to six days, doing another batch of 10 on Monday, but then what happens? Then it’s seven days, then eight, then nine, and before I know it I’m just doing 10 reviews every day and it’s more of a daily review than a quarterly one. Next week we’ll get back to whatever passes for normality around this place, and at the end of June, I’ll have another batch to roll with. Maybe the beginning of July, depending on time. In any case, thank you for reading this week. I hope you’ve found something in all this that you’ve dug, and that this final round offers something else that resonates.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Chron Goblin, Backwater

chron goblin backwater

Calgary party rockers Chron Goblin pay homage to Seattle with a song named after the city on their third album, Backwater (on Ripple Music), but they continue to have way more in common with Portland, Oregon. The follow-up to 2013’s Life for the Living (review here) pushes into psychedelic groove early in its title-track and gets bluesy for most of the subsequent “The Wailing Sound,” but it seems even that song can’t resist the urge to throw down and have a good time by the end, and cuts like “Give Way,” the galloping opener “Fuller” and the requisite “Hard Living” reaffirm the band’s commitment to heavy riffs and positive vibes. The stylistic elephant in the room continues to be Red Fang, but as they’ve done all along, Chron Goblin work in shades of other influences in heavy rock – if they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d call it Roadsaw – and put a stamp of their own on the style.

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Ripple Music

 

Slabdragger, Rise of the Dawncrusher

slabdragger rise of the dawncrusher

“Mercenary Blues” is near-immediate in telegraphing the level of heft Slabdragger will emit across their second album, Rise of the Dawncrusher, which tops an hour in five tracks (one of them four minutes long) and shifts between clean vocals, screams and growls from bassist/vocalist Yusuf Tary and guitarist/vocalist Sam Thredder as drummer Jack Newham holds together tempo shifts no less drastic. The shorter cut, “Evacuate!,” is an extreme take on heavy rock, but as Slabdragger move through the extended “Shrine of Debauchery” (12:23), “Dawncrusher Rising” (15:16) and “Implosion Rites” (17:20), their methods prove varied enough so that their material is more than just an onslaught of thickened distortion. I wouldn’t call it progressive exactly, but neither is it lunkheaded in its intention or execution, as the chanted melodies buried deep in “Shrine of Debauchery”’s lumber, derived perhaps in part from Conan and Sleep but beholden to neither so much as its own righteous purposes.

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Holy Roar Records

 

Jupiter, Interstellar Chronodive

jupiter interstellar chronodive

Finnish heavy psychedelic rockers Jupiter take a decidedly naturalist position when it comes to their style. Yeah, there are some effects on the guitars throughout Interstellar Chronidive, the trio’s second album behind 2014’s Your Eccentric State of Mind, but it’s more about what the three players can accomplish with dynamic tempo and mood changes than it is creating a wash, and that gives songs like “Stonetrooper” and “Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal” a classic feel despite a decidedly modern production. “Premonitions” provides raucous fuzz worthy of any next-gen stoners you want to name, and the 14-minute “In Flux” answers its own initial thrust with and expansive, liquefied jam that’s all the more emblematic of the organic core to their approach, Hendrix-derived but not Hendrix-emulating. Bright guitar tone, rich bass and swinging drums aren’t necessarily unfamiliar elements, but the touches of space rock narration on “Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal” and the consuming nod of closer “Vantage Point” assure there’s no shortage of personality to go around.

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Jupiter on Bandcamp

 

Izo, Izo

izo izo

Also stylized as IZ? with a long accent over the ‘o,’ Izo is the self-titled debut from Italian double-guitar instrumental four-piece Izo, who bookend four flowing and densely weighted progressions with an intro and outro to add to the atmospheric breadth. Rather than choose between heaviness or ambience, Izo – guitarists Paolo Barone and Maurizio Calò, bassist Francesco de Pascali and drummer Luca Greco – play both into each other so that a song like “Hikkomori” is as engaging in its heft as it is hypnotic. That might be easier to do without vocals, but it’s essential to Izo’s approach, and something that, for their debut, sets up future expansion of post-metal and psychedelic elements. I’m not sure if there’s a theme or narrative for the album, but consistent use of Japanese language and imagery ties the material together all the same, and Izo emerge from their first album having shown a clearheadedness of purpose that can only continue to serve them well.

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Acid Cosmonaut Records

 

Cultist, Three Candles

cultist three candles

Cultist made their introductory statement in the early hours of 2016 with Three Candles, a five-song EP from the social media-averse Cleveland, Ohio, trio featuring members of Skeletonwitch, Mockingbird and Howl. In the wall of fuzz they construct, the swing injected into their rhythms and the use of multiple vocalists, there’s a strong undercurrent of Uncle Acid to “Path of the Old One,” but “Consuming Damnation” distinguishes itself with a more aggressive take, rawer in its melodies, and the creeping closer “Eternal Dark” is up to something entirely more doomed. How this balance will play out with the more familiar riff-patterning in “Follow Me” is the central question, but for their first tracks to be made public, Cultist’s Three Candles offers fullness of sound and the realization of an aesthetic purpose. Yes, there’s room to grow, but they already have a better handle on what they want to do than a lot of bands, so it should be interesting to keep up.

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Cultist on Bandcamp

 

Haoma, Eternal Stash

haoma eternal stash

Ultra-thick, ultra-dank, Haoma is the work of Swedish duo R (bass/vocals) and S (drums), and the three-tracker Eternal Stash is their second self-released EP. The offering takes its title from the opener and longest track (immediate points), and wastes no time with subtlety in getting down on molten Cisneros-style stoner-doom grooves. Sleep meets Om isn’t a huge divide to cross, but there’s a blown-out sensibility to the vocals as well that speaks to some element of Electric Wizard at play, and the overarching roughness suits Haoma’s tonal crunch well. Even when they break to wah bass in the second half of “Eternal Stash” to set up the ensuing jam, this underlying harshness remains, and “Unearthly Creatures” and “Orbital Flight” build on that, the latter with a march that feels more decidedly individual even if constructed on familiar ground. Heavy, raw, unpretentious celebration of groove is almost always welcome by me, and so Haoma’s Eternal Stash is likewise.

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Haoma on Bandcamp

 

Spaceslug, Lemanis

spaceslug lemanis

Another boon to Poland’s emerging heavy rock scene, Wroclaw’s Spaceslug slime their way out of the ground with their debut long-player, Lemanis, a seven-cut paean to weighted tone and laid back roll. Vocally, the trio seem to take a cue from the Netherlands’ Sungrazer, but their riffs are far more dense and while the penultimate interlude “Quintessence” and the earlier “Galectelion” demonstrate a sense of spaciousness, the context in which that arrives is much more weighted and, particularly in the second half of “Supermassive,” feels culled from the Sleep school of Iommic idolatry. No complaints. The record clocks in at 43 minutes all told and in no way overstays its welcome, rounding out with the nine-minute title-track, an instrumental that’s probably not improvised but comes across as exploratory all the same. The CD version is out through BSFD Records, but don’t be surprised when someone picks it up for a vinyl issue, as both the front-to-back flow and the artwork seem to be made for it.

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Spaceslug on Bandcamp

 

Slush, American Demons

slushies american demons

An element of twang that seems present even in the most uproarious moments of SlushAmerican Demons tape comes to the fore with the brief “Leshy,” a quick, fleetly-strummed bit of slide guitar the follows highlight cut “Bathysphere” and precedes “Death Valley,” both of which bask full-on in the garage shake, proto-punk vibe and anything goes swagger the Brooklynite trio have on offer throughout their third EP. That countrified twist plays well alongside the drawling skate rock of “In the Flesh,” which seems to take on some of The Shrine’s West Coast skate vibes with a twist of New York fuckall, and the quick crotchal thrust off “Silk Road,” which serves as Slush’ most purely punkish moment. “Death Valley” closes out with a tale of drugs and the desert, the vocals somewhere between Misfits and early Nick Cave, drenched in attitude and accompanied by fuzz that seems to be likewise. Bonus points for the silver tape and copious included art and info.

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Lean on Bandcamp

 

Menimals, Menimals

menimals menimals

Strange spirits are afoot throughout MenimalsMenimals, the maybe-debut from the Italian troupe who engage wantonly in the proliferation of post-Mike Patton creepy darkjazz across five cuts of sparse, spacious weirdness. Issued through Phonosphera/Riot Season, it’s a work of high atmospheric density but ultimately more about mood than sonic impact, evoking complex shapes – dodecahedrons, tetrahedrons, octahedrons – as a mirror for its own quizzical mission. The kind of record that those who don’t spend time trying to figure it out are going to have more fun with, it makes its most effective impression on “Transitioning from a Cube to the Octahedron” on side B, evoking minimalist drone rock atmospheres as whispered vocals tie it to the rest of Menimals’ bizarre vibe. That’s not to take away from the noisy finish of closer “Bird on the Wind as a Hinge,” which follows, just to note that Menimals manage to somehow find balance in all the subdued seething and resonant experimentalism.

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Riot Season Records

Phonosphera Records

 

The Linus Pauling Quartet, Ampalanche

the-linus-pauling-quartet-ampalanche

By way of a confession, I wanted to end this batch of 50 reviews with something I knew I dug, and that distinction goes to Houston rockers Linus Pauling Quartet, whose latest full-length, Ampalanche, is released via the label wing of Italian ‘zine Vincebus Eruptum. An album that offers some of the most pretense-free rock flute I’ve ever heard on “Slave to the Die,” it’s a down-home weirdo rocker that might, at a moment’s notice, plunge full-on into psychedelia in “Sometimes” or, say, include a 49-minute echoing space-drone “Vi, de Druknede (We, the Drowned)” as a download-only bonus track, and the fact that Linus Pauling Quartet can always be relied on for something different but consistent in charm and the quality of songwriting is not to be taken for granted, whether it’s the Midwestern noise rock of “Brisket” or the fuzzy roll of dreamy album-closer “Alive.” Yeah, I was doing myself a favor by finishing with Ampalanche. I have absolutely zero regrets. Linus Pauling Quartet continue to be woefully underappreciated.

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Vincebus Eruptum webstore

 

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The Obelisk Presents: Stone Machine Electric Album Release Show in Fort Worth, TX, 05.27.16

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on March 31st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

stone machine electric poster

Texas two-piece Stone Machine Electric are getting ready to release their new full-length album, Sollicitus es Veritatem, in May. The release show is set for May 27 at The Grotto in Fort Worth, where Stone Machine Electric will be joined by Texas outfits FTW, Thinman Conspiracy and Fogg.

If the album artwork (posted here) and the translated title “nightmares are reality” are anything to go by, it seems more and more like Stone Machine Electric are commenting on the times in which we live. If that’s so, then all the better have their jam-prone bizarro rock as the soundtrack, since if our ultra-self-aware-yet-utterly-blind post-post-modernism has taught anyone anything at all, it’s that it’s not like we’re going to turn a corner and have existence suddenly make sense. We, as a species, might as well get down with some heavy exploratory grooves and vibe out while we wait for that comet to hit.

Guitarist William “Dub” Irvin and drummer/thereminist Mark Kitchens offered a glimpse at the record to come in late-2015’s The Awesome Terror (review here), and they’ll release Sollicitus es Veritatem officially on May 17 as nearly an hour of forward-thinking output captured by Kent Stump of Texas fuzz forerunners Wo FatFogg, who offered up their self-titled debut (review here) last year on Tee Pee Records, have a new improv jam EP out called Pinko, and between that and the burly rock of FTW and Thinman Conspiracy‘s progressive methods, it should be a night worthy of ringing in the arrival of Stone Machine Electric‘s latest opus. I’m proud to be involved and thank the band for letting me be a part of it in the small way I am.

Show particulars and links follow:

Live at The Grotto: The Obelisk Presents – Stone Machine Electric Album Release Party featuring FTW, FOGG & Thinman Conspiracy

The Grotto
517 University Dr.
Fort Worth, TX 76107

Doors 9 • Cover $7

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The Grotto website

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

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

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

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

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Wheel in the Sky, Heading for the Night

wheel in the sky heading for the night

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

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The Sign Records

 

Sun Dial, Mind Control

sun dial mind control

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

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Mind Control at Sulatron Records

 

LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place

lsd and the search for god heaven is a place

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

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LSD and the Search for God on Bandcamp

 

Duel, Fears of the Dead

duel fears of the dead

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

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Heavy Psych Sounds

 

The Canadian Sweetmen, Intro b/w New Cigarettes

the canadian sweetmen intro new cigarettes

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

The Canadian Sweetmen Tumblr

The Canadian Sweetmen on Soundcloud

 

Wren, Host

wren host

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

Wren on Thee Facebooks

Wren on Bandcamp

 

Transient, Transient

transient transient

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

Transient on Thee Facebooks

Transient on Bandcamp

 

Desert Storm & Suns of Thunder, Split

desert storm suns of thunder split

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

Desert Storm on Thee Facebooks

Suns of Thunder on Thee Facebooks

 

Telstar Sound Drone, Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles

telstar sound drone magical solutions to everyday problems

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

Telstar Sound Drone on Thee Facebooks

Bad Afro Records

 

Fantasy Arcade, Fantasy Arcade

fantasy arcade fantasy arcade

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

Fantasy Arcade on Thee Facebooks

Fantasy Arcade on Bandcamp

 

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Wo Fat Announce Midnight Cometh Release Date; Stream “Three Minutes to Midnight”

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

wo fat

Texas fuzz forerunners Wo Fat announce a May 20 release date for their upcoming album, Midnight Cometh, through Ripple Music and stream the new track “Three Minutes to Midnight.” The band announced the “Texas Takeover II” with Mothership back in November, but the unveiling of the new song should be of particular note to longer-term followers of the band. The penultimate of six included tracks, it’s a swirling, fuzzed out Wo Fat jam playing off one of heavy metal’s best-known hooks with an identity all its own. As representation for the album, it speaks to the chemistry in the trio and their growth intuitively knowing where each member is going to be at any given moment within the song. I could go on. I’ll save it for the review. Point is you should check out the track.

The following just came in from the PR wire:

wo fat midnight cometh

WO FAT confirm EU tour and release date for new album Midnight Cometh | Share brand new song ‘Three Minutes To Midnight’

Midnight Cometh by Wo Fat will be released on 20th May 2016 through Ripple Music

After slinging their Texas-sized psychedelic blues doom for over a decade, Dallas legends Wo Fat are thrilled to announce that this May will see the official release of their brand new studio album, Midnight Cometh on Ripple Music.

Throughout their sonic odyssey spanning five studio albums, a live album, and two splits, beginning in 2006 with The Gathering Dark, they have stayed true to the deep, dark blues that wails from within and have continually forged their riffs with a primal groove. Going stronger and rocking harder than ever before, the band are currently readying their next chapter – and first with Ripple – with the release of Midnight Cometh. Looming on the horizon and due for release on 20th May 2016, this newest slab of riffage is easily their most daring and psychotropic exploration of heaviness to date.

“We are thrilled to be working with our brothers in the riff at Ripple for this new record!” says vocalist Kent Stump. “We’ve been friends with Todd and Pope for a while and have always had a lot of respect for them personally, as well as the label itself, and we just kinda realised, that, hey, we should be working together. They are passionate about the music they release, they make really good choices when it comes to signing bands, they’re all about treating artists fairly and trying to help this scene grow, and they’re also a label on the rise.”

“We’ve been huge fans of Wo Fat and their maniacal brand of riff-heavy psychedelic grooves,” explains Ripple Music’s Todd Severin. “And they never fail to be one of the most mesmerizing bands we’ve ever seen on stage. We’re beyond thrilled to welcome them into the Ripple family.”

The critical success of their albums, most notably 2009’s Psychedelonaut, which truly solidified the Wo Fat name in the Stoner Rock community and secured them world wide recognition, helped land the band appearances at the legendary Roadburn Festival, Desertfest, Freak Valley Festival, Psycho California Festival and Sylak Open Air Festival as parts of a number of successful international tours.

Midnight Cometh will be released on 20th May 2016 and will be supported by a European tour (see dates below), which will also include appearances at Desertfest in Berlin and London and Hellfest, France.

Live Dates – Texas Takeover Tour II Europe 2016
18 April – Mephisto – Hannover, Germany
19 April – Schaubude – Kiel, Germany
20 April – TBA
21 April – Pokalen Pub – Oslo, Norway
22 April – Loppen – Copenhagen, Denmark
23 April – 1000FRYD – Aalborg, Denmark
24 April – Rock Café – Hamburg, Germany
25 April – The Vortex – Siegen, Germany
26 April – Feierwerk – Munich, Germany
27 April – Arena – Vienna, Austria
28 April – Desertfest – Berlin, Germany
29 April – Doornroosje – Nijmegen, Netherlands
30 April – Pre-Roadkill Festival Party – Waarschoot, Belgium
1 May – Desertfest – London, UK

https://www.facebook.com/wofatriffage/
https://wofat.bandcamp.com/
RIPPLE-music.com

Wo Fat, “Three Minutes to Midnight”

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Honky and Desert Storm Announce Summer UK Tour

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

Austin heavy rockers Honky released their last album, 421, in 2012, but they’ve linked up with Housecore Records for the follow-up, Corduroy, which is due out this spring, and to herald the new release, they’ll be heading over to the UK to tour with Desert Storm, who as previously announced have a new 7″ split out in April with Suns of Thunder via H42 Records. Last I saw Honky was with Fu Manchu in New York nearly half a decade ago (review here), but they certainly kicked ass then, and having also seen him play before, I have severe doubts the addition of Dixie Witch drummer Trinidad Leal to the lineup will have done anything to diminish that.

Leal is one of a number of guests joining founder JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers) and bassist Bobby Ed Landgraf (Down) on the record, as the info below details:

honky desert storm tour

Honky proudly carries the torch held by the likes of Bloodrock, Pantera, ZZ Top and the red-headed stranger himself, Mr. Willie Nelson.

This Austin Superboogie trio was founded in 1996 by long time Butthole Surfer, part time MELVINS bassist JD Pinkus, Bobby Ed Landgraf (DOWN, Skrew) on guitar, and rounded out by Trinidad Leal (Dixie Witch) on them skins.

Honky dishes out an appetite pleasin’ Superboogie servin’ that’ll keep ya’ comin’ back for more. Austin’s favorite sons have released some of the best stripped down, butt shakin’, rock ever cut to Wax, Tape, or CD, and have toured with the likes of Nashville Pussy, the Reverend Horton Heat, Fu Manchu, Melvins, Peter Pan Speedrock, Down, and David Allan Coe.

Honky’s newest release, Corduroy, is another feast of down and dirty rock, rollin’ across the finish line late this Spring on Philip Anselmo’s Housecore Records. Thick enough to eat with a fork but you’ll wanna keep a spoon handy so ya don’t miss out on that gravy… Drum duties are handled by a more then qualified group of drummers, Trinidad Leal (Dixie Witch), Michael ‘Night Train’ Brueggen (Blackula, Syrup, Supagroup), Dale Crover (Melvins), and even Original Honky drummer, Lance Farley, makin’ the grooves proper… Guest appearances by Mark ‘Speedy’ Gonzales and the Fantasma Horns, as well as, our favorite Honkette, Rae Comeau, add to the tastees thrown y’alls’ way.

Honky/Desert Storm UK Tour July/Aug 2016:
07.26 Cambridge Portland Arms
07.27 Exeter The Cavern
07.28 London The Underworld
07.29 Oxford The Bullingdon
07.30 Cardiff Red Sun Festival
07.31 Milton Keynes Craufurd Arms
08.01 Bristol Exchange
08.02 Evesham The Iron Road
08.03 Coventry The Arches
08.04 Bournemouth The Anvil

http://www.honky.net/
https://www.facebook.com/TeamHonky
http://www.desertstormband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/desertstormuk/
https://www.facebook.com/Buried-In-Smoke-Promotions-152851731433057/

Honky, “WFO” official video

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