Switchblade Jesus Sign to Bilocation Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Texas rockers Switchblade Jesus have inked a deal with Bilocation Records to release their self-titled debut on vinyl later in 2013. Sound nifty? It is.

The PR wire sends over foreboding word(s) of the impending vinyl issue of Switchblade JesusSwitchblade Jesus, and for that we thank it as ever, but the proof is in the black gold of the music itself. Broiled in native burl and groove imported no doubt under the radar of local law enforcement from Southern heavy mainstays like Down and the funky start-stops of Clutch, it’s a ride just as likely to shake the record on the turntable as the booty of one in earshot.

Boogie:

Bilocation Records is proud to announce the signing of Texas based stonerheads SWITCHBLADE JESUS. The earthshaking debut will be released on heavy vinyl in 2013.

Hailing from the land of oil and tar Switchblade Jesus is a 5 piece equivalent of a heard of elephants slamming into a brick wall.

Jamming together since 2010 they had a killer ride so far – playing live nearly every week they were forged to a unbreakable live unit. They played a shitload of shows with great bands – just to name a few: Kylesa, Orange Goblin, The Sword, Wo Fat, Egypt, Baroness.

Asked what the fans can expect of the band, the guys state: Loud alcohol fueled heaviness laced with fuzz and slight hallucinations of tube amps piercing your mind. …that is a word!

Switchblade Jesus, Switchblade Jesus (2013)

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Wo Fat / Egypt, Cyclopean Riffs Split LP: Hellhound in the Temple

Posted in Reviews on July 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Texas fuzz mavens Wo Fat and resurgent North Dakota riff rockers Egypt join forces on a new limited-to-500 split LP released via Totem Cat Records. Dubbed Cyclopean Riffs perhaps because the two bands see through one eye or as a play on the fact that the parts work in cycles, the 12″ smoke-colored splatter vinyl features two cuts from each trio. So, to go by the numbers it’s one eye, one release, two bands, two songs each, three members in each band. If you want to keep it going, there’s four songs total and each band has five letters in its name. To draw further correlation, each three-piece also recorded and mixed their own material, with Wo Fat guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump playing the role of engineer for the extended “Nameless Cults,” which starts off their side, and “Electric Hellhound,” while Egypt‘s own six-stringer, Neal Stein, helmed “Blood Temple Hymn” and “Ancient Enemy.” Both have done their own recordings before — Stump has grown into his own as a producer over the course of Wo Fat‘s four albums and Stein proved himself up to the task earlier this year on Egypt‘s comeback LP, Become the Sun (review here) — and with a little over 18 minutes apiece, both bands give a firm sense of where they’re coming from sonically while making a surprisingly good pairing for each other. It’s not necessarily a shock that two fuzzy, heavy rock bands would go together well — that happens all the time — but front to back, Cyclopean Riffs makes the most of a palpable stylistic kinship between Wo Fat and Egypt, its songs based around top quality riffing and classic jamming swagger.

There aren’t sides, per se, but Wo Fat are given top billing, and they launch Cyclopean Riffs with “Nameless Cults,” a song that plays into a similar kind of swamp-mystic thematic that has presented itself across their last two full-lengths, 2012′s The Black Code (review here) and 2011′s Noche del Chupacabra (review here), while remaining consistent on a musical level as well. One thinks of 10-minute-plus jamming excursions like “The Shard of Leng” from last year’s outing or the title-track of the record before it and it seems Wo Fat‘s penchant for improv-style fuzz wandering has remained strong in the time since they put The Black Code to tape. They continue to hone a blend between that side of their approach and a knack for memorable choruses, as both “Nameless Cults” and the considerably less open-structured “Electric Hellhound” offer a hook worthy of their reputation, the former using a straightforward verse/chorus beginning as a springboard for an instrumental jam that holds sway for the entirety of the second half of the track — Stump taking leads here and there while bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter (also backing vocals) keep a sense of motion and build rolling along — while the latter works largely the same, only without the departure from its initial base structure. An increase in stomp from Walter and build throughout the song itself would make an extended jam almost redundant, not to mention the fact that they just did one and would run out of room on the side of an LP.

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Mothership Summer Tour with Communion Starts June 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

After marauding this Spring with like-minded booze rockers Gypsyhawk, Texan trio Mothership are taking to the streets once again this month for a week of shows alongside Communion. The tour will include a stop, as noted below, at the pre-party for Show Class magazine’s Born Free 5 fest.

No word yet on a follow-up to the band’s self-titled debut, self-released by the band last year and reissued by Ripple Music earlier in 2013, but I can only imagine they’re hammering out new songs on the road, which for what Mothership does, is where they belong.

The PR wire takes it from here:

MOTHERSHIP Gearing Up For Summer Tour With COMMUNION

The Dallas, Texas-based trio of heavy rock bad asses known as MOTHERSHIP is about to make a return the road for a brief run with psychedelic doomsters COMMUNION.

Those who missed out on the band’s Spring run with GYPSYHAWK now have a second chance to experience some no-frills rock n’ roll magic when MOTHERSHIP kicks off their Summer tour on June 24th at Hotel Vegas in Austin, TX. This run will include a June 28th stop in Trabuco Canyon, CA for Show Class Magazine’s Born Free 5 Festival People’s Champ Party. Details for Born Free 5 and the pre-party can be found at the following links:

bornfreeshow.blogspot.com
www.showclassmag.com
www.heavy-clothing.com

In other news, the song “Lunar Master,” off of MOTHERSHIP’s self-titled debut, has been ranked #3 on The Paranoid Hitsophrenic ‘Regular Old Doom Charts.’ Check out the rankings, which includes a link to a stream of the track, at this location.

MOTHERSHIP Summer 2013 Tour Dates w/ COMMUNION
June 24 Austin, TX @ Hotel Vegas
June 25 El Paso, TX @ The Lowbrow Palace
June 26 Tucson, AZ @ Surly Wench Pub w/ Thorncaster
June 27 San Diego, CA @ The Void w/ Harsh Toke
June 28 Trabuco Canyon, CA @ Cook’s Corner – Born Free 5 Pre-Party w/ O Zorn
June 30 Los Angeles, CA @ TBA
July 1 Phoenix, AZ @ Yucca Tap Room w/ Flying Scorpion
July 2 Albuquerque, NM @ TBA
July 3 Midland, TX @ Blue Max

Mothership, Mothership (2013, Ripple)

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Ancient VVisdom Announce Summer Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Truth be told, I go back and forth on Austin acoustic metallers Ancient VVisdom. They’re very good at what they do, and when I saw them earlier this year in NYC out supporting their new album, Deathlike, they surprised me in how effectively they were able to carry across a sense of atmosphere and maintain a presence on stage, not being wholly lost to ambience or making their unplugged, semi-pagan aesthetic seem entirely like schtick.

On the other hand, they’ve never managed to grab with the same kind of authority as a band like Anathema could in what’s now their mid-period. But I’m not sure that’s a fair standard or comparison. Like I said, I go back and forth. Maybe I’ll go hit up their show on this freshly-announced headlining tour and make up my damn mind.

Here they are, lookin’ spooky:

ANCIENT VVISDOM ANNOUNCE HEADLINING TOUR DATES

Austin-based heavy occult rock group ANCIENT VVISDOM have just revealed plans for a upcoming U.S. headlining trek, the “Pagan Summer Tour,” which will also feature psychedelic rockers The Saint James Society with select appearances from fellow occult rockers Bloody Hammers. A trailer for the tour can be viewed below.

“PAGAN SUMMER TOUR” rituals:
8/4 Houston, TX – Fitzgeralds #
8/5 New Orleans,LA – Siberia #
8/6 Atlanta, GA – Purgatory ^
8/7 Nashville, TN – Exit In ^
8/8 Richmond, VA – Strange Matter ^
8/9 Baltimore, MD – Side Bar ^
8/10 New York, NY – Saint Vitus ^
8/12 Burlington, VT – Metal Mondays @ Nectar’s #
8/13 Montreal, QC – Divan Orange #
8/14 Boston, MA – Great Scott #
8/15 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie #
8/16 Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class #
8/17 Columbus, OH – Double Happiness #
# with The Saint James Society
^ with The Saint James Society & Bloody Hammer

For tickets & more information, please visit: www.facebook.com/AVVFB

Ancient VVisdom, 2013 Summer Tour Promo

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Venomous Maximus Announce Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

In my ongoing and inevitably-doomed-to-failure quest to be somewhat less than 100 percent behind on absolutely everything, this news about Venomous Maximus touring that I now present to you came down the PR wire yesterday. The Texas metallers, signed as of March to Napalm Records, have announced a round of dates to herald a July 2 reissue of their 2012 full-length, Beg upon the Light (review here), and included is a stop at Days of the Doomed III on June 21 in Wisconsin, where they’ll join the likes of Dream Death and In~Graved in riffly demolition at The Blue Pig outside Milwaukee. Good fun.

So sayeth the PR wire:

VENOMOUS MAXIMUS Announce North American Tour Dates

Debut Album Beg Upon the Light Out July 2nd on Napalm Records

The Texan Dark Occult Metal outfit VENOMOUS MAXIMUS has already risen to the status of a heavy hitter in the depths of the underground. Now, the band is ready to finally unleash their album debut Beg Upon The Light. The album will be released in North America on July 2nd via Napalm Records. Today the band has unveiled the tracklisting, which includes three bonus tracks.

In support of the new release, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS will be hitting the road this May and June. The tour sees the band playing select shows with Royal Thunder, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Valient Thorr amongst others. A complete list of dates can be found below.

Singer Gregg Higgins has a message for fans coming out to the shows: “Hide your daughters and bring a crucifix!”

Beg Upon the Light is full of heavy riffs and driving drums, which create the perfect foundation for the musical and lyrical direction of the songs, which bring the enthralled listener into the realm of the Occult! The Texans turn the mix of Stoner and Doom Metal into a deadly blend that goes right into your blood. Pounding and powerful songs filled with energy set the stage for the glorious vocals of frontman Gregg Higgins, the grand marshal who leads through these occult hymns Beg Upon the Light combines occultism, heavy riffs and the perfect Stoner attitude to create a pitch-black and irresistible album.

Tracklisting:
1.Funeral Queen
2 Path of Doom
3. Give Up The Witch
4. Father Time
5. Dream Again
6. Moon Child
7. Battle for the Cross
8. Venomous Maximus
9. Mother Milk
10. Hell’s Heroes
11. The Mission (Bonus Track)
12. The Rider (Bonus Track)
13. The Gift (Bonus Track)

Venomous Maximus Live:
5/18 – College Station – Stanford Center – Loudfest!
5/24 – Austin, TX – Mohawk – w/ Dillinger Escape Plan, Royal Thunder, Ancient VVisdom
5/25 – San Antonio, TX – Fitzgeralds w/ deadhorse
6/18 – Little Rock, AR – Downtown Music
6/19 – Nashville, TN – The End w/ Windhand
6/20 – Indianapolis, IN – Indy Jukebox w/ Devil To Pay
6/21 – Milwaukee, WI – Blue Pig Bar – Days of Doomed Fest
6/22 – Chicago, IL – Reggies w/ Valient Thorr
6/24 – Cincinnati, OH – The Comet
6/25 – Johnson City, TN – The Mecca
6/26 – Atlanta, GA – Purgatory
6/27 – Birmingham, AL – The Bottle Tree w/ Stoned Cobra
6/28 – New Orleans, LA – Siberia w/ Holy Grail

For More Info Visit:
https://www.facebook.com/VenomousMaximus
http://www.napalmrecords.com

Venomous Maximus, “Path of Doom” from Beg upon the Light

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Hawk vs. Dove, Hawk vs. Dove: An Unexpected Landing

Posted in Reviews on May 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

A fun game to play for first-time listeners of the four-piece Hawk vs. Dove‘s self-titled, self-released debut might be to give the songs a runthrough and try to guess where on earth the band might be from. On my initial hearing, I ran a geographical gamut from Georgia to London to Brooklyn to California, going by the various influences I heard in their sound, from angular riffing to sweet multiple-participant vocal arrangements, languid rhythms and periods of thick, crunching stomp that give way to classic rocking guitar and organ interplay, subdued moody crescendos and drawn-out melodies. Finally I settled on Portland, if only because it seemed to me the region where such a melting pot of elements might thrive, given the variety of the scene there.

Spoiler alert: Hawk vs. Dove are from Dallas, Texas. They recorded the eight songs of Hawk vs. Dove at The Echo Lab in Denton, following a series of digital singles, and have put it out both on CD and vinyl with detailed artwork from Larry Carey. The foursome — guitarist/vocalist Johnny Hardy, guitarist/vocalist Sean Butler, bassist/vocalist James Losoya and drummer/vocalist Joe Hardy – have little of the Southern metal burl to their tones, but what they offer instead makes the 39 minutes of their debut a much more enjoyable listening experience; a genuine sense of assured aesthetic while also keeping a diverse approach to their songs and shifting the mood along with the tempo. Even on CD, Hawk vs. Dove is broken into sides, and rightly so, beginning with the winding Skynyrd-via-Mastodon riff of “Between the Headlines,” the shortest cut on the record at 2:31 and a motor-ready mover to build immediate momentum as they go forward.

Right away, the vocals make an impression. “Between the Headlines” is brief, but it establishes the singing as one of Hawk vs. Dove‘s standout factors, and the band continue to prove their ability in this regard throughout the tracks, whether it’s in the actual performances of the members or the skillful hand with which those performances are arranged. “The Sabbath” might just as easily be named for its bassline, but half-time drumming gives the track an open feel to go with its initial stomp and the slow-rolling verse, the alternately Queens of the Stone Age and Radiohead vibes of which reminded me of some of Crystal Head‘s well-honed dynamics, but Joe‘s drumming keeps a sense of motion underlying even the stillest parts of Hawk vs. Dove, so that when the Losoya-thickened Helmet-style groove of “Only Words” — its pacing fluid and undulating — takes hold, it’s no more out of place than “The Sabbath” was coming off of “Between the Headlines.”

Johnny and Sean work mostly in tandem on “Only Words,” but still find room for lead/rhythm interplay, enhancing the noisy feel that (East Coast boy that I am) I always relate to Unsane but could just as easily be culled from The Jesus Lizard or any number of other acts, and though the first three tracks are relatively short — all under four minutes — compared to what follows, Side A of Hawk vs. Dove finds its arrival point in the drumroll and brazen classic heavy riffing of “(Run the) Rockwaltz,” organ joining the guitar while the vocals weave into and out of falsetto and a sense of bluesy chaos pervades a desert booziness. There’s the inevitable jam, and Hawk vs. Dove let it ride to the end, gradually deconstructing “(Run the) Rockwaltz” (the initial minutes of which are, indeed, a waltz) as they play out its 8:35 so that by the finish, there’s nothing left but a wash of amp noise and some fed-up sounding cymbal crashes.

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First-Ever Bayou Doom Fest Set for Next Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

We’re just 10 days out from the fist-ever Bayou Doom Fest, set to take place May 11 in Houston, Texas, with a killer lineup of native and regional acts who run a gamut of heaviness from the thrashing Warbeast all the way to the heavy rock of Orthodox Fuzz with no shortage of doom in between. I know Las Cruces have been working on new material — they’ll also play Doom in June 3 in a couple weeks — so maybe they’ll have something on tap for the setlist, and with Wo Fat just back from Europe and Mothership just off the road with Gypsyhawk, you know these guys are going to deliver an awesome night.

Details came down the PR wire:

Warbeast and Venomous Maximus to Headline Inaugural Bayou Doom Fest

Presented by the Houston Doom Brigade, the inaugural Bayou Doom Fest, to be held at Fitzgerald’s in Houston, TX on May 11, 2013, will be headlined by DFW thrash-masters Warbeast and Houston’s occult metal kings, Venomous Maximus.  The show marks the first time that Warbeast and Venomous Maximus have shared the stage since a run of shows in January supporting the legendary Down.  The show will also be Warbeast’s first since returning from a successful tour supporting GWAR and Venomous Maximus’ first hometown appearance since signing to Napalm Records.  Making the festival even more special is the fact that it will be a free event for those 21 and up ($10 under 21).

Joining Warbeast and Venomous Maximus on the bill are psychedelic fuzz rockers Wo Fat (fresh off appearances at Roadburn and Desertfest), Maligno (Mexico), Sanctus Bellum (Houston), Mothership (DFW), Las Cruces (San Antonio), Project Armageddon (Houston), Orthodox Fuzz (DFW), and Serpent Sun (Houston).

Houston Doom Brigade Presents:  Bayou Doom Fest I
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Fitzgerald’s
2706 White Oak, Houston, TX
Doors, 5:00 – Show 5:15
Free for 21+ (under 21: $10)

Warbeast (Housecore Records)
Venomous Maximus (Napalm Records)
Wo Fat (Small Stone Records)
Mothership (Ripple Music)
Las Cruces (Brainticket Records)
Maligno
Sanctus Bellum
Project Armageddon
Orthodox Fuzz
Serpent Sun

Las Cruces, “Cocaine Wizard Woman”

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Elliott’s Keep Recording New Album for Fall Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Good news from Texas today in that Dallas trio Elliott’s Keep have a batch of new material they’re getting ready to record next month. According to the update below, which the band sent down the PR wire, they’ll be working again with engineer J.T. Longoria, who also manned their 2010 sophomore outing, Sine Qua Non (review here). A sampling of his credits, which are considerable, is listed below.

Look for more on the album, dubbed Nascentes Morimur in Elliott’s Keep‘s tradition of Latin titles, as we get closer to the Fall 2013 release, but for now here’s the announcement and the front cover of what’s to come:

As we did three years ago, we will begin recording the next Elliott’s Keep record over Memorial Day weekend. This one is entitled Nascentes Morimur, which translates to “From the moment we are born, we begin to die.” The cover art is attached. We will be working again with J.T. Longoria (Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, Concept of God, Absu, King Diamond).

Nine tracks this time. The record should be released in the fall.

Elliott’s Keep, “Fearless” from Sine Qua Non

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: The Unmothered, The Unmothered

Posted in Radio on March 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

A few years back, Prosthetic Records seemed to get an itch for extreme metal that took some of the tropes of black metal and added elements of hardcore, doom and thrash. The result was a slew of albums from the likes of Book of Black Earth, Withered and The Funeral Pyre, each of which seemed bent on taking on black metal from a different angle. Austin trio The Unmothered appear to be on a similar kind of trip with their 2012 self-titled debut EP, but the conviction and thickness with which they carry across their ideas puts them in line as well with the newer class of post-His Hero is Gone “dark hardcore” — the main difference being The Unmothered come off as better at actually bridging the gap between that sound and doom than most others, who like to pretend they’re bridging it while playing redundant metalcore riffs in a Venom t-shirt.

It’s not in every song, but take a listen to “Leviathan,” which is tense to the point of breaking open even as it rolls out the groove of its verse. Unmothered drummer Matt Moulis sat in with The Hidden Hand on their last tour, and there’s some swing in the earlier “The Awakening” to show for it, but together with Matt Walker and Joseph Barnes, the three-piece draws more on later, rocking Carcass than anything so definitively fuzzed. Even the later post-black metal soloing of “Spectre” takes a vehement position rather than give itself up to psychedelic posturing for the sake of including one more genre in the mix, and with the Godflesh-y tone of “Solstice” and the gallop late into opener and longest cut “Gravitons,” it’s not exactly like The Unmothered have skimped on the variety anyhow.

Having just shared the stage with the likes of Venomous Maximus and Mala Suerte at SXSW in their native burg, and caught a fair amount of attention there, The Unmothered have a solid first showing to fall back on in their self-titled and a foundation to expand on in any number of directions. You can listen to the self-titled now as part of the playlist on The Obelisk Radio, and check it out via the stream below, hoisted from the Unmothered Bandcamp:

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Venomous Maximus Sign to Napalm Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The band let the news out earlier, but the PR wire makes it official: Texas metallers Venomous Maximus have joined forces with Napalm Records, who will reissue the band’s previously self-released Beg upon the Light (review here) come this summer ahead of a new studio album for 2014. Congratulations to the band, who will also put in an appearance at Days of the Doomed III this June, perhaps right around the time Beg upon the Light gets its second look.

That release date is still to come, so stay tuned for more on that and on Venomous Maximus‘ next effort. Until then, the news is good:

VENOMOUS MAXIMUS signs with NAPALM RECORDS, prepare summer release

Today, NAPALM RECORDS announces the signing of Texan doom occultists VENOMOUS MAXIMUS. The label will be releasing the band’s debut album, Beg Upon the Light, worldwide this summer, with their first new album for NAPALM slated for 2014. Says vocalist/guitarist Greg Higgins, “We are pleased to announce that we’ve signed with NAPALM RECORDS. They are going to release Beg Upon the Light this summer and another new full-length we are working on in 2014. All of this comes to a surprise, because this project was meant to be something that no one would ever hear about. So as time went on and we started to be successful, we always agreed to do everything ourselves, to keep it our way. The only way we were ever going to work with anyone was if we knew they were dedicated to worship the past as we were. Now that we are here with NAPALM, we will continue to create this hidden message. But with their help, they will be revealing this to the masses, and we are okay with that now. Because of the records we first created only for ourselves will be released with everything we dreamed from the beginning, destiny has come for us to work with NAPALM RECORDS. Our hearts are in Texas but our souls come from Europe. Now having a family in Europe that takes care of the land where we arose, our spirits fly, where we are able to focus on the beautiful.”

Adds Sebastian Muench, A&R for NAPALM RECORDS, “Sometimes, very seldom, you get the chance to discover a band that brings back the same feelings you first had when you listened as a teenager for the first time to Metallica’s Ride the Lightning or Black Sabbath’s Paranoid – you just know you’ve found something very magical and you are hooked for life. VENOMOUS MAXIMUS is such a band, and and we are thrilled, excited, and tremendously honored to call them part of the NAPALM family.”

Venomous Maximus, “Path of Doom” Official Video

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Another Look at Mothership’s Mothership

Posted in Reviews on March 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Straightforward, heavy and almost making a billboard of their Texan-ness, the trio Mothership gleefully meld AC/DC stomp with ZZ Top boogie on their self-titled debut. Brothers Kyle (bass/vocals) and Kelley (guitar/vocals) Juett beat out a boozy but melodic rock classicism, taking a familiar approach in a familiar format and updating it with a crisp, engaging mark of their own, and following its initial release (short review here), Ripple Music stepped up to give Mothership‘s Mothership its due in the form of a full release. As Mothership — the lineup completed by drummer Judge Smith – are currently embroiled in a tour with Gypsyhawk (dates in the flyer below), I thought I’d take an opportunity to give the record another look for anyone who may not have had the chance to catch it the first time out.

At eight tracks and 45 minutes, Mothership give their material plenty of time to flesh out. What are essentially classically-structured heavy rock tunes, that more than half of them should reach over five minutes long can come across as somewhat surprising, but I wouldn’t call Mothership‘s time misspent. Kelley‘s shredding solos are bluesy and rife with the kind of unscripted energy of someone who’s honed a natural talent, and when both brothers come together around a central riff with Smith behind, as on the side A closer “Angel of Death” — even the Ripple CD is broken into sides, as was the initial self-release — the groove is undeniable. They’re prone to swagger, but no more than is appropriate or called for by the songs, and with touches of classic metal and a crisp production by Wo Fat guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, who also makes a guest appearance in the former capacity on the eight-minute finale “Lunar Master,” Mothership was basically an album waiting to be picked up.

In my original review, I said that the album grew redundant after a while. I remember listening to it for the first time, in the car en route to Michigan ahead of hitting up the Days of the Doomed II fest last year, and thinking that the formula got stale as side B started to wind down. Revisiting the Ripple Music version now, I don’t necessarily disagree (lot of good it would do), though I think the issue might actually stem more from the initial impression made by opening instrumental “Hallucination,” which does little to pave the way for the intensity to come even with the relatively staid (again, relative to some of the shenanigans that ensue) beginning of second track “Cosmic Rain,” and which, by the time it picks up its tempo, has spent three of its five minutes undercutting a momentum and sense of immediacy Mothership do so well otherwise to present.

And if that seems like nitpicking, yeah, it probably is. Take the minute nature of that critique as a sign of how otherwise solid Mothership‘s Mothership is, both in terms of the tightness of the performances of the Juetts and Smith and in the trio’s ready-to-roll grip on their aesthetic — all the more impressive when you consider this is their debut album. There remains room to grow in their sound, in terms of vocal arrangements and the overall dynamics there, but doubtless Mothership are undertaking the work of that growth on stage every night on their current tour — even if they are getting loaded in the process — and they’ll hopefully emerge even more of a force than they were when they hit the studio with Stump to put these songs to tape. It’s an easy bunch of songs to get excited about, and the potential Mothership show here is outshined only their obvious love of what they’re doing.

In the interview posted last summer with the band, the Juett brothers credited their father (who also plays drums on some of these songs) for instilling them with a love of classic heavy rock. That love is all over the self-titledMothership, and if they’re looking for something to build on for their next time out, that’s a better starting point than most.

Mothership, “City Nights” Official Video

Mothership on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music

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Six Dumb Questions with Stone Machine Electric

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on January 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Now a trio with bassist Mark Cook on board, Arlington-based heavy fuzz rockers Stone Machine Electric nonetheless recorded their self-titled, self-released debut as the core duo of Mark Kitchens and William “Dub” Irvin. The album (review here) was recorded by Kent Stump of Dallas heavyweights Wo Fat, and shares some of that band’s tonal thickness as a result, but Dub and Kitchens take tracks like “Carve” and “Mushroom Cloud” in a direction more their own, jamming out organic fuzz with psychedelic flourish, sounding raw live and studio lush all at once.

Stone Machine Electric, who are aligned to the fertile Dallas scene that also includes Orthodox Fuzz, Kin of Ettins and the rip-rocking Mothership as well as the aforementioned Wo Fat, made their debut in 2010 with the live demo Awash in Feedback (review here), on which the audio was rough but still gave some idea of where they were coming from. Emphasis on “some” only because the self-titled  feels so much more fleshed out and shows them as having a clear idea of what they want Stone Machine Electric to be as a band and where they want to go with their music. It’s a big jump from one to the other, and as they’ve since undergone the pivotal change of bringing Cook in on bass, there’s potential for another such leap next time around.

Given that, it seemed time to hit up Dub and Kitchens for Six Dumb Questions about the self-titled, recording with Stump, having Darryl Bell from Dub’s prior band play bass on the track “Hypocrite Christ,” their striking album art, and so on. They were much quicker in obliging than I actually was in sending out the questions, and you’ll find the results below. Please enjoy:

1. Tell me about the time between the live demo and recording the full-length. Was there anything specific you learned from the demo that you tried to being to the studio?

Dub: The demo was just a live recording that we were ok with releasing. Something for people to hear until we could get in the studio. We did try to bring that “liveness” of the demo to the studio by playing together as much as possible.

2. How long were you in the studio with Kent from Wo Fat? What was the atmosphere like and how did the recording process go? Did Dub record bass parts first or after the guitar?

Kitchens: We were in the studio with Kent for about two and a half days. The first day and a half was spent recording, and the rest was just getting the mixes done. We’re friends with Kent, so that made it feel like we were just hanging out, but recording at the same time. We recorded the drum and guitar tracks together (other than the additional guitar tracks) to get a more live and rawer sound. “Hypocrite Christ” was the only exception. Daryl played the bass with us on that track.

Dub: Yeah, since Kent is a brother it was real laid back. He already knew what we sounded like, so it was all gravy. Like Kitchens said, all the basic guitar and drum tracks (and bass on “Hypocrite Christ”) were recorded with us in the same room together. After that I laid down the remaining bass tracks. Followed by vocals, then guitar overdubs last.

3. How did you wind up including “Hypocrite Christ” from Dub’s Dead Rustic Dog days, and how was it having Daryl Bell in the studio on bass for that?

Dub: Man, having Daryl in there was great. We don’t get to hang out or jam together much at all anymore, so I’m really glad he was able to do it. Not to mention that no one can play that tune quite like him.

That tune just seems to fit into what we do. It’s almost like it was written for SME before there was SME. Actually, Kitchens was also in the band at the time this song was written, so it seemed almost natural to bring it into SME. We played this tune early on and then dropped it for a while. We’ve been wanting to resurrect it again, and what better way than to put it on the album.

4. How has bringing in Mark Cook on bass changed the band’s sound? Have you started to write new material yet? If so, how much of a role does he play?

Kitchens: Mark is helping fill out our sound. We’ve had people tell us we sound great as a two- piece live, and that we pull it off well. You just can’t beat having that low end though. We are working on new material now, so I’m looking forward to what he’ll bring.

Dub: Cook not only helps fill out our sound but also opens it up. He brings in a whole other dimension. We are just now beginning work on new material, and hearing what Cook has brought to the existing tunes I’m excited to see how the new stuff will turn out.

5. Where did the idea for the collage cover art come from? Is there a message being conveyed there, and if so, what is it?

Kitchens: Terry Horn, who was our bassist for a while, did the artwork. I had given him some ideas that I had, but he came back with the collage. I’d never thought of that, and I loved it. We ended up not have any logo or text on the cover because it didn’t look right, and I like that idea as well. Terry is an exceptional artist.

Dub: Yeah, I dig Terry‘s work.

Terry Horn: It was spontaneous. I just put the CD on and listened to it and started flipping through magazines and sketchbooks. Ultimately, I wanted to do something for the cover that was different than most artwork you see on stoner rock/doom stuff today.

Not to sound too cliché, but sometimes art is just art.

6. Any other plans, gigs or closing words you want to mention?

Kitchens: It would be great if we could do a few weekend tours this year hitting some places around Texas or the adjoining states. I’d love to play one of the festivals that happen here in the states. Hoping in a year or so we are back in the studio with Kent. I’ll end with a big thanks to our friends and fans for digging our stuff!

Dub: I think he just summed it up right there. Don’t just keep your finger on the pulse, become part of the pulse!

Stone Machine Electric’s website

Stone Machine Electric on Bandcamp

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Scorpion Child Sign to Nuclear Blast; Self-Titled Debut Due in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Interested to get some thoughts on this one, if you’ve got a minute. Austin, Texas, natives Scorpion Child have signed to Nuclear Blast for the release of their first album, about which you can find the details below. Record’s due in May, like the headline says.

Below that, you can see a lyric/performance video of the cut “Polygon of Eyes,” from the record. The band certainly seems to fit with Nuclear Blast‘s recent splurge of ’70s-worship worship, with a vintage metal sound, rightly compared to Rainbow, Zeppelin, etc. I guess I’m on the fence after just hearing the one track and will have to hear the full LP to make up my mind, but if you’ve got an opinion, please feel free to share.

Here’s the info and clip:

SCORPION CHILD SIGNS TO NUCLEAR BLAST ENTERTAINMENT; ANNOUNCES DEBUT ALBUM DETAILS

Attributes in music are known to be cyclical. Every few years, a band comes along who borrows just enough from the revered past to bring a new infusion of vitality to the musical present. SCORPION CHILD’s sound invokes a time when guitar-driven rock ruled radio’s airwaves, when being hypnotized by a frontman and his bandmates in a concert arena was one of life’s ultimate main events. A five-piece from Austin, Texas, SCORPION CHILD have spent the last few years perfecting both their songwriting and stage show. Guitarists Chris Cowart and David Finner deliver their finessed twin guitar attack with experience older than their years; bassist Shaun Avants and drummer Shawn Alvear are steadfast sentinels of their driving rhythm section; and lead singer Aryn Jonathan Black fronts the psychedelic rock cavalry with a passion & voice reminiscent of the early eras of Robert Plant and Ronnie James Dio.

“I’ve always wanted to hear new musical ingredients within a classic heavy sound,” states vocalist AJB. “It’s great to witness captivating performances where both the live show and the band’s recorded material can complement one another. The heavy-prog sounds of Uriah Heep, Hairy Chapter, and the epic delivery of early Rainbow showcases these crossovers brilliantly and gave us all honest – yet relentless – sonics to aspire to.  That’s why it’s important for us as a band to maintain spontaneity while putting a special emphasis into integral hooks.”

This May, Nuclear Blast Entertainment will release SCORPION CHILD’s self-titled, full-length debut. Produced and arranged by Chris “Frenchie” Smith (The Answer, Jet, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, The Toadies, Dax Riggs), the album uses analog recording technology to organically capture a hybrid of nine, hook-filled chapters of heavy psych rock.  The goal?  To breathe new life into a neglected yet still important musical heritage.

Dangerous guitar riffs, soul-ridden bass lines, and thunderous drums with powerful rock vocals as lead conductor convey the on-stage swagger of SCORPION CHILD and will prepare you for the live experience awaiting you when the band tours the U.S. and Europe throughout 2013.

To watch the lyric video for “Polygon Of Eyes” or to stream the song, visit SCORPION CHILD at www.facebook.com/scorpionchild

Scorpion Child track listing is:

1. Kings Highway
2. Polygon Of Eyes
3. The Secret Spot
4. Salvation Slave
5. Liquor
6. Antioch
7. In The Arms Of Ecstasy
8. Lover’s Leap
9. Red Blood (The River Flows)

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Small Stone Finalizes SXSW Showcase Lineup; Poster Revealed

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Truth be told, they’ve been putting on shows during SXSW since 1997, but 2013 makes it a full decade that Small Stone has been doing an official SXSW showcase, and the venerable Detroit imprint are celebrating in style. I always get a little wistful thinking about my days in Austin at these parties — I went four years from 2003-’07 — and from seeing Suplecs touring on the strength of a post-Man’s Ruin demo to watching Sasquatch and The Brought Low lay waste to the room. Good friends, cheap beer, occasionally Mexican food. Some of the best times I’ve had at shows were at those things, and not just for the refried beans.

I won’t be making the trip this year, but consider it highly recommended nonetheless if you can get down that way. Brian Mercer has once again provided the poster for the shindig, which is below, followed by the lineup and set times:

Also available in purple.

Marking 10 years of official SXSW showcases, Detroit’s Small Stone Records returns to Headhunters (720 Red River) on March 14 with some of the finest in heavy rock. This year’s Small Stone showcase is headlined by New Orleans veterans Suplecs and Connecticut upstarts Lord Fowl, and features Virginia’s Freedom Hawk and Texan natives Wo Fat along with Luder, Supermachine and Mellow Bravo. For lovers of classic guitar and motor-ready grooves, it gets no better than Small Stone, and with a decade under their belts, they still throw a party like none other. Expect the epic.

Date: Thursday March, 14th, 2013
Venue: Headhunters – 720 Red River – Austin, TX – 78701
1 am: Suplecs (New Orleans, LA)
12 mid: Lord Fowl (New Haven, CT)
11pm: Freedom Hawk (Virginia Beach, VA)
10pm: Wo Fat (Dallas, TX)
9pm: Luder (Ferndale, MI)
8pm: Supermachine (Dover, NH)
7pm: Mellow Bravo (Boston, MA)

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Las Cruces at Work on Fourth Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Last heard from with 2010′s underrated slab of rockin’ doom, Dusk (review here), Texan burl-bringers Las Cruces are on the move as regards their fourth album. According to a comment left yesterday, the four-piece are currently writing tracks set to be recorded later this year and released on John Perez of Solitude Aeturnus‘ label, the venerable Brainticket Records. Obviously this is good news for lovers of trad or biker doom, and I can only hope they top Dusk by having the word “wizard” in the titles of three songs this time out.

Stoked:

Texas Doom-Metal Veterans LAS CRUCES To Enter Studio For New Album In 2013

Viva Las Cruces

Texas doom-metal veterans Las Cruces are currently writing new material and preparing to enter the studio for their 2013 as-yet-untitled fourth full-length album. The album will be a follow-up to 2010?s “Dusk” released worldwide via Brainticket Records. The band will also re-release their entire catalogue to include a vinyl edition of 1998?s “Ringmaster”, initially released via Brainticket Records.

In other news, Las Cruces will now be managed by Leigh Olson Management and Media Relations who is the wife and personal manager of Jeff “Oly” Olson, original drummer of doom-metal legends Trouble. Moreover, Las Cruces is currently entertaining new record labels as well as scheduling a summer 2013 U.S. tour. Tour dates will be announced soon.

Guitarist George Trevino founded Las Cruces back in 1994 in San Antonio, Texas and has since made his mark across The Lone Star State and the American doom-metal scene. It’s no wonder why Daniel Bukszpan, author of “The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal,” acknowledges Las Cruces as “one of the genre’s leading proponents.”

Las Cruces‘ current lineup is as follows:
George Trevino – Guitar
Mando Tovar – Guitar
Jimmy Bell – Bass
Paul DeLeon – Drums/Vocals

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