Posted in audiObelisk on June 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A couple things you’ll want to note as you make your way through the latest batch of audio streams from Roadburn 2013. First, the Satan’s Satyrs set is a Blue Cheer tribute, and that’s frickin’ awesome, and second, I’m pretty sure that Pilgrim photo below (from the same set as the one above) is one of mine. So, you know, it’s nice to be included.
Thanks as always to Walter and the Roadburn crew for letting me host these streams, and to Marcel van de Vondervoort for continuing to boldly helm the recordings year after year. Posterity owes you a gratitude.
The Pretty Things – Live at Roadburn 2013
Goat – Live at Roadburn 2013
Amenra – Live at Roadburn 2013
Cough – Live at Roadburn 2013
The Atlas Moth – Live at Roadburn 2013
My Brother The Wind – Live at Roadburn 2013
Satan’s Satyrs Tribute To Blue Cheer – Live at Roadburn 2013
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Time marches on and the Roadburn 2013 lineup becomes increasingly unfuckwithable. In this latest update we learn that High on Fire will play The Art of Self-Defense in its entirety (as well as do a regular set), and that among others, The Midnight Ghost Train have joined the lineup! Those dudes kill live and have just toured Europe again, so it’s awesome to see their hard work paying off with a gig at a fest like this. Congrats to the band. Also included is info about Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard‘s curated event, and announcements of Penance, Dream Death (their first Euro show!), Maserati, Ash Borer, Intronaut, The Atlas Moth, and more.
Massive as ever:
HIGH ON FIRE TO PLAY TWO EXCLUSIVE SHOWS AT ROADBURN 2013, DREAM DEATH & PSYCHIC TV/PTV3 CONFIRMED FOR JUS OBORN’S CURATED ROADBURN EVENT, DOOM PIONEERS PENANCE AND MORE CONFIRMED
Here are the latest updates from Roadburn headquarters:
We’re elated to announce that Oakland, CA heavy metal juggernaut High on Fire will bring their enormous sonic assault to Roadburn Festival 2013 for two exclusive shows.
On Thursday, April 18th, High on Fire will play their landmark debut, The Art of Self Defense, in its entirety. Initially released in 2000 by Man’s Ruin Records (and now reissued by Southern Lord), The Art of Self Defense displayed a new, intensely primal attitude for stoner rock / metal that broke away from the laid back desert bands.
On Saturday, April 20th, Matt Pike, Des Kensel and Jeff Matz will bring their brute force musicianship and thundering roar, anchored in an endlessly captivating, punkishly frantic sound to Roadburn 2013. This set will showcasing High on Fire’s obsession with Motörheadish thrash, stunningly renderd on instant classics like De Vermis Mysteriis, and Snakes for the Divine. More info on High on Fire here:http://wp.me/p1m0FP-6zY
Electric Wizard is proud to present two more mindblowing freakouts for The Electric Acid Orgy: “Cult (and we mean really fuckin kkvvuullttttt!!???) Pittsburgh Doom pioneers Dream Death are back from the dead!!, says Jus Oborn. “1987’s Journey into Mystery LP was a blueprint for a ‘chosen few ‘doom freaks… evil churning riffs, proto 70s influences, HP lovecraft / weird tales inspired lyrics and tortured ‘real’ vocals.”
“Everyone else was ‘thrashing’ but this was it… ominous, foreboding, twisted and evil and it definitley pointed us in the right direction. We are unbelievably excited to witness them live at last and hope you will join us in screaming every word from Back From The Dead: “I hope you enjoyed the living me cos the dead one never ends.” More info on Dream Death’s first ever European performance here:http://wp.me/p1m0FP-6yU
“And from even further into the abyss we present legendary aural terrorists and brain agitators Psychic TV / PTV3!!! Formed in the early 80’s after the disbanding of Throbbing Gristle, this legendary outfit was always a dark subliminal influence. Their live performances would still haunt various festivals when we were teenagers and they were always scary… their fans , their image. Back then it meant something to shock people, to wake them up from their government imposed comas.
“I also remember their fake (?) cult Temple Ov Psychic Youth”, says Jus, “which had a huge influence on us and the early black metal scene, they even got satanic ritual footage on the BBC. Its all been done before kids and it started here.” More info on Psychic TV / PTV3 here:http://wp.me/p1m0FP-6zS
Their name has perennially appeared on Roadburn Festival wish lists. Like many of you, we have been dreaming of finally getting a chance to see them live. And now, for the first time since touring with Cathedral and Sleep in 1993, doom pioneers Penance (the Parallel Corners lineup) will return to Europe for an exclusive appearance at Roadburn 2013! More info on Penance here:http://wp.me/p1m0FP-6yO
Ash Borer, Fell Voices, The Atlas Moth, Intronaut, Maserati, The Midnight Ghost Train and Raketkanon are also confirmed for Roadburn Festival 2013.
Roadburn Festival 2013, including Electric Wizard, Godflesh playing Pure in its entirety for the first time ever, Neige (Alcest) as Artist-in-Residence , Spiritual Beggars, Ihsahn and Die Kreuzen reunion among others, will run for four days from Thursday, April 18th to Sunday, April 21st, 2013 (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Chicago blackened metallers Chrome Waves have announced a run of shows that’ll take them up and through the Northeast next month. The trio features Stavros Giannopolous (The Atlas Moth), “Iron” Bob Fouts (Apostle of Solitude) and Jeff Wilson (Wolvhammer) and their debut EP is out now on Gravedancer Records, so if nothing else, you can rest assured they’ll have some pretty killer merch along for the ride. This from the PR wire:
Chrome Waves Announce US Tour Dates for August
Chrome Waves has quickly made an impact on the metal community with the release of their self-titled EP earlier this month on Gravedancer Records. Now, the band has finalized plans for a tour through the US in August that will see them join forces with bands like Skeletonwitch, Mares of Thrace, Morne, Bloodiest and more!
08/10 – Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge (w/ Mares of Thrace) 08/11 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Jukebox (w/ Skeletonwitch) 08/12 – Columbus, OH @ Carabar 08/13 – Baltimore, MD @ TBA 08/14 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie 08/15 – Providence, RI @ TBA 08/16 – Somerville, MA @ Radio (w/ Morne & VattnetViskar) 08/17 – Brooklyn, NY @ SaintVitus (w/ Bloodiest) 08/18 – Pittsburgh, PA @ SummerSeanceFestival (w/Derketa, Bloodiest + more)
Chrome Waves‘ self-titled debut is available in-stores and online now!
Posted in Features on December 9th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Please note: This list is made up of my personal picks, not the results of the Readers Poll, which is ongoing — if you haven’t added your top 11 to that yet, please do.
It was an impossible task to keep up with everything that came out this year. I’ll say flat out that I didn’t. There are records that I just didn’t get to hear, and I should note at the outset that this list is mine. It’s based on my personal opinions, what I listened to the most this year and what I think 2011′s most crucial releases have been.
I’ve spent the better part of this week (and last, if brain-time counts) constructing this list, and I finally got it to a point where I feel comfortable sharing. Since last December, I’ve kept a Post-It of names, and all year, I’ve logged bands I’d want to consider for the final top 20. In the end, there were 78 bands and more that I didn’t get to write down for whatever reason. 2011 was nothing if it wasn’t overwhelming.
But here we are, anyway, and it’s done. Let’s get to it:
This is nothing if not a sentimental pick. Last year, I put Electric Wizard in the #20 spot because the record wasn’t out yet, and this year, I’m putting Suplecs (interview with bassist Danny Nick here) in just because I couldn’t imagine this list without them. Until literally a few minutes before I clicked “Publish” on this post, there was someone else in this spot, but ultimately, it had to be them. The New Orleans trio’s first record in half a decade wasn’t what I listened to most in 2011, it wasn’t the best album, or the most important, or career-defining, but when it came right down to it, god damn, I was just happy to have Suplecs back. It had been too long.
After a while, I was kind of shocked to find myself continuing to listen to Favourite State of Mind, the second album by Polish rockers Elvis Deluxe. The record’s dynamics didn’t immediately open up to me, but once I dug into the songs, I was wowed by their balance of catchy hooks and substantial-sounding riffs. The album was genre-relevant without being genre-minded, with vocal changes, organ, atmospheric shifts and a whole host of moods and turns. After hearing their 2007 debut, Lazy, I wasn’t expecting much out of the norm from Favourite State of Mind, and I’m still thrilled by just how wrong I was, and “Take it Slow” is among my favorite single songs of the year.
The gloomy opening statement from former Warning guitarist/vocalist Patrick Walker turned heads around the world with its unabashed emotional conviction, which was so much the central focus of the record as to be made a novelty by those who don’t usually consider doom an emotionally relevant genre (the widespread arguments against that notion I’ll leave for another time). What most stood out to me about The Inside Room was how the sentimentality translated into a gorgeous melodic sensibility and resulted in a lonely mood that was engrossing. On that level, it was easily among 2011′s most effective releases. It made you feel what it seemed to be feeling.
It was an album that lived up to its name. Return to Earth marked the remaking of one of heavy rocks most stoned outfits: Acrimony. But, as Sigiriya (interview with drummer Darren Ivey here), the four-piece (down from five) would show that the years since the demise of their former band had found them progressing as musicians, resulting in a sound less directly stoner, more modern, more earthy. The songs, however, were what made it. It’s still a rare day that goes by that I don’t hum at least part of the chorus of “Mountain Goat” to myself, and if Return to Earth was a new beginning for these players, I can’t wait to see where they go next.
In addition to being Totimoshi‘s first album for At a Loss following the end of their deal with Volcom, Avenger was the first Totimoshi record since 2003′s ¿Mysterioso? not to be produced by Page Hamilton, and where 2006′s Ladrón and 2008′s Milagrosa moved away from some of the noisy crunch in the guitar of Tony Aguilar (interview here), Avenger managed to be both a return to form and a progression of the band’s melodicism. It seems, as ever, to have flown under most radars, but Totimoshi continue to refine their songwriting and have become one of the heavy underground’s most formidable and least classifiable bands.
With their 2010 EP release, upstart British trio Grifter informed us that The Simplicity of the Riff is Key, and on their self-titled Ripple Music debut, they put that ethic to excellent use, resulting in straightforward, catchy songs that were as high-octane as they were low-bullshit. The ultra-catchy “Good Day for Bad News” showed Grifter at the top of their form, and with a dose of humor thrown in, Grifter was the drunken stoner rock party you always wanted to be invited to and, of course, finally were. Now if only I could get Skype to work and get that interview with Ollie Stygall moving, I’d be happy to tell him personally he put out one of 2011′s most kickass rock records.
I don’t know what’s most impressive about The Book of Knots‘ Garden of Fainting Stars — the songs themselves or that they were able to make any songs at all. With upwards of 20 guest spots around the core four-piece, the third in a purported trilogy of records from the avant rock originalists was an epic in every listen. Songs like “Microgravity” and the Mike Watt spoken word “Yeager’s Approach” pushed the limits of both genre and expectation, and miraculously, Garden of Fainting Stars was cohesive and enthralling in its narrative aspect. If it really was their last album, it was triumphant in a manner befitting its expanding-universe thematics.
Had it been a full-length, Invisible White would be higher on this list. Many out there who were enamored of Ancestors‘ 2008 Neptune with Fire debut have gone on to bemoan the Californian collective’s shift away from extended sections of heavy riffing and tales of sea monsters and other things that go “doom” in the night. I’m not one of them. The Invisible White EP was a brave step along a fascinating progression, and as Crippled Black Phoenix didn’t release a new album in 2011, I was glad to have Ancestors there to fill that morose, contemplative void, and I look forward to seeing how they expand on the ideas presented on Invisible White (if they decide to stick to this direction) for their next full-length.
Speaking of shifting approaches, still-young Massachusetts trio Elder also moved away from the Sleep-centric methods of their 2008 self-titled debut on the follow-up, Dead Roots Stirring. Still based very much around the guitar work of Nick DiSalvo (interview here), Elder songs like “Gemini” and the über-soloed “The End” pushed an influence of European heavy psych into the band’s aesthetic, and the result was both grippingly heavy and blown of mind. As an album long delayed by mixing and business concerns, when Dead Roots Stirring finally arrived, it was a relief to hear that Elder, though they’d varied the path, were still headed in the right direction.
Hands down the year’s best traditional doom release. The Wretch so gleefully and so earnestly employed the conventions of ’80s-style doom — most especially those of Saint Vitus and Trouble — that even though the lyrical and musical content was miserable, I couldn’t help but smile as I listened. Songs like “Bastards Born” and “The Scovrge ov Drvnkenness” pushed The Gates of Slumber away from the barbarism the Indianapolis outfit had been touting on their last couple albums, including 2008′s Conqueror breakthrough, in favor of a more purely Chandlerian plod. “To the Rack with Them” remains a standout favorite and a line often referenced in my workplace dealings.
I don’t know what you say to someone at this point who doesn’t like Weedeater. It just seems like a terrible way to go through life, without the madman ranting of “Dixie” Dave Collins (interview here) echoing perpetually in your ears, or never having witnessed their ultra-viscous fuzz in person. Jason… the Dragon was one of the earliest landmark releases of 2011, and practically the whole year later, it retains its hold, whether it’s the stomping fury of “Mancoon,” the lumbering groove of “Long Gone” or the surprisingly melodic “Homecoming.” The hard-touring, hard-hitting band did right in recording with Steve Albini to capture their live sound, and Jason… the Dragon was their strongest outing yet in terms of both songwriting and that unmistakable quality that makes Weedeater records Weedeater records.
I was surprised to see Rwake crack the top 10. Not because their first album in four years, the Sanford Parker-produced Rest, wasn’t superb, but because of how much the songs on the album stayed with me after listening. The Arkansas band’s last outing, Voices of Omens, was heavy and dark and had a lot going for it, but Rest upped the songwriting on every level and together with frontman CT (interview here) adopting a more decipherable shout over most of the record’s four main extended tracks, Rwake felt like a band reborn, and theirs was a highlight among several 2011 albums that showed there’s still room for individual growth and stylistic nuance within the sphere of post-metal.
It was back and forth, nine and eight, between Rwake and Hull for a while, but when all was said and done, the fantastic scope of Beyond the Lightless Sky gave the Brooklyn triple-guitar masters the edge. With a narrative structure behind it and a breadth of ambience and crushing, post-doomly riffing, Beyond the Lightless Sky was the defining moment that those who’ve followed Hull since their Viking Funeral demo have been waiting for. In concept, in performance, in sound and structure and heft, it absolutely floored me, and of all the heavy records I’ve heard with the tag applied to them in 2011, Hull‘s second full-length seems most to earn the tag “progressive.” A stunning and groundbreaking achievement.
One of 2011′s most fascinating developments has been the boom in European heavy psychedelia, and the self-titled debut from French band Mars Red Sky was among the best releases to blend a jam-based sensibility with thick, warm fuzz and memorable riffs. Together with the sweet-hued vocals of Julien Pras (interview here), those riffs made for some of the most infectious hooks I heard all year on songs like “Strong Reflection” and “Way to Rome,” and where other bands jammed their way into psychedelic oblivion, Mars Red Sky were able to balance their focus on crafting quality songs, so that although they sounded spontaneous, the material was never self-indulgent or lacking accessibility. One just hopes they don’t lose sight of that musical humility their next time out.
There was a point earlier this year at which I had forgotten about All We Destroy. After reviewing it in March, I simply moved on to the next thing on my list, and the thing after, and the thing after. But before I knew it, in my head was the voice of Jackie Perez Gratz, singing the line “As I live and breathe” over her own cello, the guitar of Max Doyle and Max Doyle‘s drums. It got so persistent that, eventually, I went out and bought the record, because the mp3s I’d been given to review simply weren’t enough. That was probably July, and I don’t think I’ve gone a week since without listening to Grayceon. So although I classify it in the same league as Rwake and Hull in terms of what it accomplishes in and for its genre, All We Destroy gets the extra nod for the fact that I simply haven’t been able to let it go. And though I’ve come to further appreciate “Shellmounds,” “Once a Shadow” and “A Road Less Traveled,” the 17-minute “We Can” — from which the above-noted lyric is taken — remains the best single song I heard in 2011.
On paper, this one should’ve flopped: Band with minor buzz and a cool video hooks up with indie rock dude to record an album of dopey riffs and beardo bombast. Instead, Red Fang‘s second album and Relapse debut became the 2011 vanguard release for the Portland heavy underground, which is arguably the most fertile scene in the US right now. They toured the record widely, and made another killer video for the mega-single “Wires,” but the reason Murder the Mountains is top five material is because it’s lasted. It was February that I reviewed this record, and March that I interviewed guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles, and I still can’t get “Into the Eye” and “Hank is Dead” and “Number Thirteen” (especially the latter) out of my head. When it came down to it, the songs on Murder the Mountains lived up to any hype the album received, and I’m a sucker for quality songwriting. I mean, seriously. That key change late into “Number Thirteen?” It’s the stuff of the gods.
I wasn’t particularly a fan of Swedish rockers Graveyard‘s 2008 self-titled debut. Even watching them at Roadburn in 2010, I was underwhelmed. But when I heard Hisingen Blues and was able to get a feel for what the retro-minded foursome were getting at stylistically — and most of all, that they were acknowledging that they were doing it without being glib or ironic about it — I found the material irresistible. We’re getting into seriously indispensable records now; ones that I’ve been unwilling to leave home without since they came, in, and Graveyard‘s Hisingen Blues has been a constant feature in heavy rotation. Everything from the devilish testimony of the title-track to the wiry guitars of the chorus to “Ungrateful are the Dead,” to the Skynyrd-ified solo capping “Uncomfortably Numb”: It’s been a year of revelry in all of it, and since they overcame my prejudice to impress on such a level, Graveyard (interview with drummer Axel Sjöberg here) are all the more deserving of their spot on this list.
What I hear in the second album from Dutch trio Sungrazer is the heralding of a new generation of fuzz rock. Taking influence from their forebears in Colour Haze and Kyuss, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Rutger Smeets (interview here), bassist/vocalist Sander Haagmans and drummer Hans Mulders followed and surpassed their stellar 2010 debut on every level, playing heavy riffs on expansive psychedelic jams and still finding room for some of 2011′s most memorable choruses in songs like “Sea” and “Goldstrike.” In so doing, Sungrazer affirmed the character of next-gen European fuzz and placed themselves at the fore of their scene, with touring and festival appearances to support. For their warmth of tone and for the fact that I spent the better part of the summer streaming the record through the Dutch website 3voor12, there was no way they were going to be left out of the top 20. It wasn’t until I sat down and actually put the numbers together, though, that I realized how vital Mirador actually was.
I was lucky enough to be sent some rough listening mixes of Ohio outfit Lo-Pan‘s Small Stone Records debut (following a reworked reissue of their Sasquanaut sophomore full-length), and in my email back to label head Scott Hamilton, I told him I thought he had a genuine classic on his hands. A year, I don’t even know how many Lo-Pan gigs and listens through Salvador later, I still feel that way 100 percent. If you were from another planet, and we got to talking at a bar, and you asked me what rock and roll should sound like in the place where I’m from, I’d hand you Salvador. I still think they should’ve started the album with “Generations,” but if that’s my biggest gripe, they’re clearly doing alright. “Bird of Prey” was the best live song I saw all year, and I saw it plenty, and cuts like “Bleeding Out” and “Struck Match” set the standard by which I’ll judge American heavy rock for a long time to come. Like the best of any class, Salvador is bigger than just the year in which it was released, and at this point, I don’t know what else to say about it.
This is as good as it gets, and by “it,” I mean life. YOB‘s last album, 2009′s The Great Cessation, was my album of the year that year as well, and I knew from the second I heard the self-produced Atma that nothing to come this year would top it. Like Ufomammut‘s Eve in 2010, Atma brings the entire genre of doom along with it on the new ground it breaks, refining what’s fast becoming YOB‘s signature approach even as it pushes ever forward. I still have to stop whatever I’m doing (not exactly good for productivity) whenever “Prepare the Ground” comes on, and songs like “Adrift in the Ocean” and “Before We Dreamed of Two” were humbling. Seriously. Humbling. Listening to them was like looking at those photographs from the Hubble that cover trillions of miles that we’ll never know and reveal gorgeous colors where our naked eyes only see black. If that sounds hyperbolic, thanks for getting it. YOB guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt (interview here) is, almost in spite of himself, one of American doom’s most crucial contributors, and with Atma, he and the rhythm section of bassist Aaron Reiseberg and drummer Travis Foster released what is without a doubt the best album of 2011.
A few quick housekeeping items and we’ll call it quits. First, honorable mentions. If this list went to 25, also included would be The Wounded Kings, Earth, Larman Clamor, Olde Growth and The Atlas Moth. Roadsaw were also in heavy consideration, so they’re worth noting, as are many others.
Obviously, I couldn’t include them, but two of my favorite releases in 2011 also came from Blackwolfgoat and HeavyPink, and I’m thrilled and honored to have helped put them out in the small way I did.
And as I said above, there are records I didn’t hear. I haven’t heard the new Black Pyramid yet. Or Orchid. Or a bunch more that I could go on listing. I’m only one man and this is only my list, for better or worse. Again, I really do hope you’ll contribute yours to the group poll, the results of which will be out Jan. 1.
I’ll probably have some more to wrap up 2011 as the month winds down, but until then, thank you so much for reading this and the rest of the wordy nonsense I’ve put up the whole year long. Your support and encouragement means more than I’m able to tell. Here’s to 2012 to come.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
…Sort of. They’re not exactly sharing a van — or, if they are, it has escape pods out the sides or something (which would rule). What seems to be the case for this run of shows is that The Atlas Moth have two-weeks booked across the US and Kowloon Walled City and Batillus are meeting up with them along the way. It’s a killer package if you have to live somewhere where you can catch all three, but even if not, any of the above makes for some pretty solid destruction.
This came in on the PR wire:
The Atlas Moth have released the album of their careers with An Ache for the Distance, their Profound Lore debut, and Batillus kicked off the year in rare form with their visceral effort Furnace. These bands are undoubtedly some of the most ferocious in today’s metal scene and now they have joined forces for a tour that is sure to leave your city devastated this fall. Joined by Kowloon Walled City, the trek will be one of the most impressive live attacks of the year and you will not want to miss the epic performances of this trio.
The Atlas Moth, Batillus & Kowloon Walled City: 11/09 Minneapolis, MN 7th Street Entry NO KWC 11/10 Fargo, ND The New Direction NO KWC 11/12 Portland, OR East End No Batillus 11/13 Seattle, WA Highline No Batillus 11/14 Boise, ID The Shredder No Batillus 11/15 LasVegas, NV Yayo Tacos No Batillus 11/16 Phoenix, AZ Yucca Tap Room No Batillus 11/17 Capistrano Beach, CA Coconuts 11/18 Los Angeles, CA Bow & Sparrow 11/19 San Francisco, CA Hemlock Tavern No Batillus 11/20 Salt Lake City, UT Burt’s Tiki Lounge NO KWC 11/21 Denver, CO Moe’s NO KWC 11/22 Kansas City, MO Riot Room NO KWC 11/23 Chicago, IL Subterranean NO KWC
Batillus Off Dates: 10/26 Brooklyn, NY Acheron w/ InterArma, Belus 11/07 Indianapolis, IN The Vollrath w/ LateAugust, Chinaski 11/08 Madison, WI Wisco 11/12 Seattle, WAHighline w/ Natür 11/13 Portland, ORTheKnow w/ Diesto, Natür 11/15 Eugene, OR or Chico, CA TBA 11/16 San Francisco, CA Elbo Room w/ Prizehog 11/19 Las Vegas, NV Yayo Taco
Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t remember the last time I looked forward to a tour the way I looked forward to the Irving Plaza, NYC, stop of Metalliance. Usually, I’ll get down with a couple bands on a bill, maybe even three or four on a great night, but this lineup was insane. Helmet playing Meantime, Crowbar, Saint Vitus, Kylesa, Red Fang, Howl and The Atlas Moth. Even the bands I was ambivalent about seeing I wanted to see. It’s been a while since that was the case for a single show.
The difference, I suppose, is that Metalliance is essentially a traveling festival. That means shorter sets — 20 minutes each for The Atlas Moth, Howl and Red Fang, then gradually more for Kylesa, Vitus, Crowbar and Helmet — but still, the thought of seeing this many bands on one bill made the show an absolute must. It’s been on my calendar for months. Whatever else happens, Metalliance.
There was a meet and greet before doors and I was invited for that, so I went and chatted awkwardly for a couple minutes with the bands, mostly the dudes in Red Fang about bassist/vocalist Bryan Giles‘ recent interview, but also got my picture taken with Wino, which was cool despite the lengths at which I’ll protest about hating that kind of thing (both having my picture taken and my picture taken with dudes in bands). The conversation steadily fizzled and everyone, myself included, went about their business. I grabbed the first of the evening’s several $8 Guinnesses, made my way upstairs to stake out a spot. It’s Irving Plaza instinct. I’ve seen more shows from that balcony than I can remember to count.
It was early, though. The Atlas Moth didn’t go on for maybe another 20 minutes, and the place was still basically empty, so the beer went fast. When they took the stage, I went downstairs to take the first of the evening’s many, many photos, and check out their set. I had been served a digital promo of their Candlelight Records debut, A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky, when it came out, but it must have slipped through the cracks. They were post-metal, and apparently down one of their three guitarists, but not terrible. They said from the stage that they’ll have a new album out in the fall. Maybe I won’t have my head up my ass about it this time. No promises, but it could happen.
If I’m not much familiar with The Atlas Moth, I’m a little more directly “take it or leave it” on Howl. The Rhode Islanders don’t really do it for me musically, but even they put on a good show, and I heard from several showgoers over the course of the night how much they enjoyed their set. They were heavier than I recalled them being, but just tipped to the far side of the doom/metal equation, and watching them made me feel old. Think I’d be used to that by now.
Part of my “meh” factor for Howl‘s set might also have stemmed from anticipation for Red Fang. Having never seen them before and so thoroughly dorked out over their forthcoming Murder the MountainsRelapse debut (second full-length overall), I was more or less dying to see their set. They opened with a couple tracks from their self-titled, and hit the new single “Wires” before closing with “Prehistoric Dog.” I felt justified in my excitement by their performance, as they more or less ripped through the material — not in the sense of rushing it — just making it all sound meatier and meaner. They were the first of the night’s several killer acts.
As I mentioned, with Kylesa, the set-times began to lengthen, but even a half-hour of stuff from them seemed short. Bathed half in darkness by the projected art of their Spiral Shadow album, the dually-drummed five-piece were also much heavier than the production on their record might lead you to believe. “Running Red,” from 2009′s Static Tensions, was a particularly welcome inclusion, and though the vocals were high in the mix, everything still came through well enough.
With the double-guitar/double-vocals of Laura Pleasants and Philip Cope, it’s probably really easy for some of Kylesa‘s complexity to become a wash in a live setting (I’ve seen them before but not yet on this touring cycle owing to January’s ridiculous snowfall) depending on who’s working the sound. I think they got a decent treatment at Irving Plaza and was glad to get the chance to have “Don’t Look Back” from Spiral Shadow injected straight into my head from the amps as opposed to the CD. I also got a new appreciation for bassist Corey Barhorst, who I think is a much bigger part of what makes Kylesa so damn heavy than anyone gives him credit for, myself included. I know they tour like bastards, but I was glad to see them this time around, especially after enjoying the album so much.
What can I possibly say about Saint Vitus? I felt like life was doing me a personal favor by their reuniting at Roadburn 2009, and I’ve seen them twice now since then, and I feel the same way. “Dying Inside,” “Born too Late,” “Clear Windowpane” — they were all fucking fantastic. The only challenge I had was trying to decide which I was most into (I finally settled on “Dying Inside”), but the whole set was earth-shakingly heavy. I don’t know how Crowbar felt about having to follow them, let alone Helmet, but I know I certainly wouldn’t want to. They also played the new song “Blessed Night” from the impending whatever-they’ll-put-out, and it was even better in-person than on the YouberTubes clips of it I’ve seen.
I’ve done plenty of worshiping at the altar of Saint Vitus before, but it’s worth noting that even just in terms of the chemistry between the members of the band, they’ve got it down. Even since I saw this lineup — Scott “Wino” Weinrich, vocals; Dave Chandler, guitar; Mark Adams, bass; Henry Vasquez, drums — in Brooklyn late in 2009, their time on the road has made them tighter as a group, and the songs sounded all the more killer for it. Vasquez, who came aboard as a replacement for founding drummer Armando Acosta owing to the latter’s failing health (Acosta died last Thanksgiving), does an excellent job driving the material, and watching Adams, Chandler and Weinrich on stage is like calculating a geometrical proof to discover why the word “legendary” so often appears directly before the band’s name.
If they’d been the only band of the night, I still would have made the trip into the city for the show, but to then have Crowbar follow them was when things really got surreal at Metalliance. It’s like one of those “But wait — there’s more!” infomercials, except that instead of useless, easily-broken shit you get high-grade metal. Crowbar were in sludgy fashion, and the guitar sound, which I bemoaned after their set at the Championship Bar and Grill in Trenton this past December, was much improved coming through the Irving Plaza P.A. They ran through a smattering of the highlight cuts from their career, offering a post-”Planets Collide” mini-encore in the form of latest single “The Cemetery Angels,” from their first album in six years, Sever the Wicked Hand.
It was interesting to compare the Saint Vitus and Crowbar sets in that the two long-running (admittedly Vitus longer running than Crowbar) acts have very different stage presences. Crowbar guitarist Kirk Windstein is clearly the star of the show. It’s his band all the way through, he’s the last of the founding members, the only songwriter and not to disparage the contributions of his band, because they sounded good, but you could probably have any number of musicians up there filling those roles. In terms of presence, Chandler is one of two very strong focal points in Saint Vitus, the other being Wino. Bassist Mark Adams, while a founding member of the band, is overshadowed personality-wise by the guitarist, and from the look of it this past Friday, that suits him just fine, but still, Saint Vitus — even apart from the aura their decades of influence carries with it — are more of a total band experience, where with Crowbar, it’s Windstein‘s gig and everyone knows it.
What that rounds out to, at least as regards Metalliance, is two unmistakable, diverging roads leading to a killer set. The place cleared out a lot after Crowbar with Helmet still to go, but those who stayed were ultimately rewarded for their effort. The truly unfortunate thing about Helmet is how their dissonance got bastardized in the later part of the ’90s by the nü-metal movement. That’s not to say their own burgeoning commerciality didn’t have a role to play, but the sound they became known for fostering wasn’t necessarily the way they actually played. As Meantime nears its 20th anniversary (originally released June 23, 1992) and Helmet has become a more melodically-centered band — the staccato riffing of guitarist/vocalist Page Hamilton taking a back seat — the songs themselves remains eerily relevant.
Hamilton is without a doubt the central figure, though, even more so than Windstein is to Crowbar. Though he’s had roughly the same band with him since 2006, Helmet is his band. All the same, their rendition of the Meantime album was welcomed by those who stuck around to see it, and an appropriate salvo to the evening’s unbelievable gait. When I left, it wasn’t yet 11PM, but I was already dead tired. Six hours of show will do that to you.
Feels redundant to even say it, but if Metalliance hasn’t hit where you are yet, you need to cancel whatever it is on your plate and go. As I noted previously, I took over 2,100 photos at the show, and most of them were crap. About 280 weren’t, and if you want a small sampling of that batch, click the “Read More” link below. Special thanks to Steve Seabury for making the night happen.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
And some support they provide. Kylesa, Red Fang, Howl and The Atlas Moth supporting Crowbar, Saint Vitus and Helmet playing Meantime. I guess the mystery’s solved on what the year’s best American tour is going to be.
Check out the latest from the PR wire and the badass tour poster from Brian Mercer:
The 2011 Metalliance Tour has just announced the complete lineup for their already impressive and highly anticipated tour. The run of dates are now complete and will be supported by metal heavyweights Kylesa, Red Fang, Howl and The Atlas Moth. The tour organizers had the honor of having Brian Mercer also provide all of the visuals and artwork for The MetallianceTour. He is best known for creating artwork for such bands as Eyehategod, Zoroaster, Black Tusk, Lamb of God and countless others.
Dates have officially been announced:
03/17 Dallas, TX Southside Music Hall
03/18 Austin, TX Dirty Dog / SXSW
03/19 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jacks
03/20 St. Petersburg, FL State Theater
03/21 Orlando, FL Firestone Live
03/22 Greensboro, NC Greene Street
03/23 Springfield, VA Jaxx
03/24 Worcester, MA Palladium
03/25 New York, NY Irving Plaza
03/26 Cleveland, OH Peabody’s
03/27 Joliet, IL Mojoe’s
03/29 Denver, CO The Summit
03/31 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
04/01 Seattle, WA El Corazon
04/03 San Francisco, CA Mezzanine
04/05 Hollywood, CA House Of Blues
$50 VIP tickets will be available courtesy of Artist Arena. This very special package will include:
- A General Admission Ticket
- Access to a Meet & Greet with Metalliance lineup
- A Metalliance hot sauce bottle
- A Commemorative VIP Show Laminate
- An Autographed poster
- 1 Issue of Revolver magazine
One grand prize winner will be randomly selected for a Dinner With The Bands, an autographed Mosh Potatoes cookbook and one t-shirt from each of the bands.
One second-place winner will randomly be selected for a one-on-one guitar lesson with Kirk Windstein from Crowbar and an autographed Mosh Potatoes cookbook.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
It suddenly occurs to me that I never reviewed The Atlas Moth‘s Candlelight debut, A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky. What a dick. While it’s a little late, I may or may not rectify the situation sometime soon (that vague enough?). While I’m weighing out the pros and cons, check out these tour dates from the PR wire:
Cerebrally pulverizing Chicagoan quintet The Atlas Moth will be blazing a good chunk of the East Coast and Midwest on the road this March with Coalesce and Harvey Milk. The low-end triple-guitar thunder the band are well-known for creating on stage is as massive as it is mesmerizing, as witnessed on their 2009 live with Dark Castle, Wetnurse, Black Cobra, Nachtmystium, Pentagram, Javelina and countless more.
The Atlas Mothw/ Coalesce, Harvey Milk:
3/05/2010 Rex Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA
3/06/2010 Kung-Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA 3/07/2010 The Ottobar – Baltimore, MD
3/08/2010 Le Poisson Rouge – New York, NY
3/09/2010 Middle East [Downstairs] – Boston, MA
3/10/2010 Il Motore – Montreal, QC
3/11/2010 Wreckroom – Toronto, ON
3/12/2010 Smalls Bar – Hamtramck, MI
3/13/2010 Subterranean – Chicago, IL
The Atlas Mothat SXSW 2010:
3/18/2010 East End Tattoo – Austin, TX @ Chronicyouth.com showcase
3/20/2010 The Metropolis – Austin, TX – early show
3/20/2010 21st CO OP – Austin, TX – late show
3/21/2010 Red 7 – Austin, TX – Goodbye Southby
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 4th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
Yes, that title is sarcastic. Touring is hard, grueling work. Yes, you get to play music, but unless you’re rich, pretty much everything else about it blows. I still don’t know how I feel about Chicago wunderkinds The Atlas Moth, or their Candlelight debut, A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky, but if a band’s going to get out there and sell their wares one person at a time on the road, you have to at least respect that no matter what you think of the music. The PR wire sent these updated tour dates in and I thought I’d pass them along for your perusal.
WithA Glorified Piece of Blue Sky out now on Candlelight Records, the band is currently on tour promoting the release, with a long list of killer shows alongside Dark Castle, Wetnurse and more along the way:
11/03/2009 The Kickstand – Gainesville, FL w/ Dark Castle 11/04/2009 Brass Mug – Tampa, FL w/ Dark Castle 11/05/2009 Will’s Pub – Orlando, FL 11/06/2009 The Warehouse – Jacksonville, FL w/ Dark Castle 11/07/2009 Lenny’s? – Atlanta, GA w/ Across Tundras, Dark Castle 11/08/2009 The Hangar – Greenville, SC w/ Dark Castle 11/09/2009 The Reservoir – Carrboro, NC 11/10/2009 The Triple – Richmond, VA 11/11/2009 Starlight Ballroom – Philadelphia, PA w/ Wetnurse 11/12/2009 Sidebar – Baltimore, MD w/ Wetnurse 11/13/2009 Court Tavern – New Jersey w/ Wetnurse 11/14/2009 The Sweatshop – Providence, RI w/ Wetnurse 11/15/2009 Unit 11 – Allston, MA w/ Wetnurse 11/17/2009 Union Pool – Brooklyn, NY w/ Dark Castle, Wetnurse 11/18/2009 The Spot – Akron, OH w/ Dark Castle, Sofa King Killer, Rue 11/20/2009 Elbow Room – Ypsilanti, MI w/ Dark Castle, Ganon 11/21/2009 Mac’s Bar – Lansing, MI w/ Dark Castle, Ganon 11/22/2009 Carabar – Columbus, OH w/ Dark Castle, Struck by Lightning 11/23/2009 Belvederes – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Dark Castle, U.S. Christmas 11/24/2009 The Vollrath – Indianapolis, IN w/ Dark Castle 11/25/2009 Cobra Lounge – Chicago, IL w/ Dark Castle, Black Tusk, Black Cobra, Plague Bringer
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 30th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
…And that’s only news because they’re from Chicago, which means the burger is at Kuma’s Corner, and it’s a unique and artery-clogging concoction named for the band. The Atlas Moth‘s Candlelight/Battle Kommand debut, A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky, is out Oct. 20. In the meantime, dig this recipe (and other info) as told by the PR wire:
The Atlas Moth have announced a record listening party on October 4th at Chicago‘s Kuma’s Corner (MySpace here), the restaurant known for naming its burgers after international and hometown favorite metal bands. Here they’ll unveil the mammoth “Atlas Moth Burger“… a 10 oz. slab of beef on waffles, topped with collared greens, fried chicken, chicken fried bacon and a bacon infused maple syrup. Amazing!
My chest hurts just thinking about it. Fortunately the band will get a good workout touring the US for about two months to support the album after a record release show at Reggie‘s in Chicago with Kylesa, Saviours and Red Fang. Other dates follow after the jump.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 5th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
In case you were wondering whether opening for Pentagram in your hometown might ever have some positive benefits, witness Chicago‘s recently reviewed The Atlas Moth, who are the latest act from Christopher Nolan‘s Gotham City to find themselves hooking up with a killer label. This time it’s Candlelight, which will be releasing A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky in October.
As per the PR wire:
Candlelight Records confirms the worldwide signing of Chicago?s The Atlas Moth. Popular throughout the Midwest region, the quintet joins theUK-based label?s growing American roster having already shared the stage with Pentagram, Saviours, Intronaut, Nachtmystium, Wolves in the Throne Room, Coalesce and many others. Recently completing tracking at Chicago?s Phase Recordings, the doom warriors expect to hit the road in the next month performing tracks from their forthcoming label debut.
A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky, featuring artwork by Ryan Kasparian, is scheduled for American release on October 6. Produced by the band with post-production work handled by Michael Kandel (Tranquility Bass), the album showcases the band?s triple-guitar wall of sound that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Clocking in at just under an hour, the album?s eight metal epics are dynamic, expressive, and heavier than sin. Looking back on the album?s creation, guitarist/vocalist Stavros reveals, “A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky became something none of us could have expected. It is a completely collaborative record, from start to finish. It really is a true representation of our band.”
Track listing for A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky: 1. A Night In Venus’ Arms… 2. A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky 3. Grey Wolves 4. Our Sun, Our Saviour 5. Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence 6. One Amongst the Wheat Fields 7. Jump Room to Orion 8. …Leads to a Lifetime on Mercury
Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
Nearly everything about The Atlas Moth screams new school doom, from their Chicago origins to their triply-guitared lineup (which is excessive until you consider how often the third guitar is used more as a noisemaker than an instrument and how often recordings feature multiple tracks anyway) to their silhouetted promo photos to their oceanic references to their screams to their pace. They couldn’t be more Windy City if they took up residence at Sanford Parker‘s VolumeStudio and started serving deep-dish pizza to the tens of thousands of bands who seem to record there every week.
You could easily call it a wall of sound The Atlas Moth create with their debut EP, Pray for Tides (Witch Trial Records). They go from the tasteful lead that opens “Hope for Atlantis” immediately into visceral screaming and riff out underneath tapped lines and crashing mid-paced drums. The tempo stays up for the most part — they never really get slow, which I take as a demonstration of their age, but in the new school of doom speed doesn’t seem to matter so long as the atmosphere is crushing, which it undeniably is on these five tracks.