Posted in Reviews on December 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
With heavy nods along the way to Pink Floyd, early Alice Cooper and The Beatles, young Peruvian psychedelic rockers The Dead-End Alley Band conjure a classic moodiness throughout their full-length debut, Whispers of the Night, beginning with the immediately meditative vibing of opener “Mirrors and Seagulls.” More or less an introduction, the song still manages to set up a good deal of the spirit of the Lima-based act’s first outing, released on CD by Ice Label Records in Peru with vinyl through Nasoni. A spare, peaceful guitar sets out in minimalist exploration, slow, patient, but still moving, and toward the very end, a brief spoken word takes hold to smooth the transition into the rest of the 52-minute album, which is engaging and varied in approach but consistent in overall mood and the feel that the group’s core duo of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Javier Kou and vocalist/key-specialist (organ, piano, synth, etc.) Sebastian Sanchez-Botta are able to elicit throughout the total 10 tracks.
Structurally, the material is pretty straightforward, but there’s a wandering sensibility all the same, and in the compression of the bass tone and snare drum (it sounds like a real drummer, but might be programmed), the textures of the organ and synth, the layering of the vocals, The Dead-End Alley Band immediately conjure a ’70s LP vibe. Fifty-two minutes is long for that kind of feel — usually one encounters a more vinyl-ready 35-45 minutes — but they make the time work well, adding Eastern flair to “Lizards and Snakes” in following the traditional psych-folk of the title-track, into which “Mirrors and Seagulls” almost directly bleeds. Tradeoffs between the two singers in the lead role adds to the diversity as “Lizards and Snakes” gives way to the organ-and-bass-led creepiness of “Centuries,” which includes a somewhat surprising mash of news samples that, perhaps contrary to the band’s mission of psychedelic traditionalism, pull the listener into a more modern sphere with references to Japan’s Fukushima disaster and Today Show host Matt Lauer. The results are sonically fluid, but somewhat incongruous in theory, the late ’60s Floydian modus crashing into modern realities. Maybe that blend is what brought about the title “Centuries” in the first place, but it’s striking either way.
Posted in Radio on November 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you ever want to know the fastest way into my heart, name a song “Black Sabbath Forever in Space” and see how long it takes for me to nerd out on it. Rest assured it’ll be some record time. That most righteous of titles closes the new live set from instrumental Danish outfit Øresund Space Collective, Live at Loppen 2013-11-19, which was captured just over a week ago at the Loppen club in Christiania, Denmark, as the band was opening for Siena Root (who have a new 7″ out; man I’d like to see that band play). There are four songs, the shortest one of them is 11 minutes long, and true to Øresund Space Collective‘s jam-based ethic, there isn’t a moment of the thing that doesn’t feel like it was made up on the spot. The lineup for the evening was Nicklas and Rune on guitar, Jiri on bass, Birk on drums, and Rasmus and sometimes-Obelisk-contributor Scott “Dr. Space” Heller on synth.
The band also have a new studio album out called Organic Earthly Flotation. They’ll be playing the 2014 Freak Valley festival on May 29-31 alongside Mos Generator, Stubb, Wo Fat, Samsara Blues Experiment and many others, and Live at Loppen 2013-11-19is one of several gigs recently uploaded for free acquisition through Archive.org (check them out here). They (rightly) encourage audience taping, and as you can hear following the second of the four cuts here, “Galaxy X74W32,” even they’re surprised sometimes where their songs end up. Dr. Space introduces the lineup and gives the crowd the skinny on their approach, and in a brief moment, Øresund Space Collective are under way again. The set is half over at that point — they opened with the rich textures of “Star Search,” which is a fitting title for what’s essentially an exploration of space rock — and it’s abundantly clear that any warming up or settling in they needed to do is long since past. Though their roster of contributors changes regularly, what remains constant in Øresund Space Collective is the absolute liquidity of their jamming.
I don’t know if the Miles mentioned in “Miles, Where are You?” is in fact Miles Davis, but I’d have to believe it if you told me it was. At a meager 11:32, it’s the shortest of the jams here, but features a highlight bassline in the early going from Jiri and some impressive jazzy guitar interplay as well. Of course, the synth is more or less a constant, filling out the open spaces with brazenly psychedelic swirling and effects, making the whole sound fuller and more immersive. Things start to unravel a bit after eight minutes in, but Jiri and Birk hold the piece together until finally the drums stop and the song ends with a laugh from Heller. Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Black Sabbath Forever in Space” is the most riff-led of the inclusions from the show. Guitars start and stay at the fore for an initial stretch as the texture swells up around, soloing and riffing gradually being absorbed, leaving just the bass and drums to remind of the initial progression. Doubtless if that was the “Black Sabbath,” then what ensues is the “Forever in Space,” but the transition between the two is raw, natural and molten. At their best, Øresund Space Collective present the organic product of a creative process, and that’s just what you get with Live at Loppen 2013-11-19.
Archive.org allows for embedding players, so you can check out the release below. All told it’s a full hour of deep psychedelic hypnosis, but even in its component pieces, Øresund Space Collective manage to put the listener in a trance, and that’s precisely why I wanted to include Live at Loppenin the playlist for The Obelisk Radio. However you dig into it, either there or on the player that follows, please enjoy and space on.
Øresund Space Collective, Live at Loppen 2013-11-19
Posted in Radio on November 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
As heavy ’70s loyal as the sound of Mountain Witch (not to be confused with Witch Mountain) is, one would almost expect the band to make their home in Sweden, but the three-piece hail from Germany and release their second LP, Cold River, on This Charming Man Records. Shades of earliest Witchcraft show up on “Ancient Light” and “School of Night” pays off with Electric Wizard levels of fuzzy lumber, and while the chugging swing of “The Covey” is easily traced to “Children of the Grave” — something I view as a definite positive — where Mountain Witch really win favor is in their tones and in the album’s overall presentation. A vinyl-ready 39 minutes, with an evenly split eight tracks, one could argue its style is retro, but really it seems like the trio of guitarist/vocalist RenéSitte, bassist Tobert Knopp and drummer/vocalist René Roggmann are focused on cave echo more than on trying to seem like they walked into the studio right after Sir Lord Baltimore left.
That serves them well across Cold River, which feels unpretentious and even lighthearted as the rolling groove of second cut “Shrubbery the Warlock” unfurls, though the mood throughout remains set to perma-doom. It’s easy to imagine that the warm distortion in Sitte‘s guitar is all the more prevalent on the vinyl version of the album, but even digitally, the record sounds natural and not at all short on charm, delving into the occasional fit of noise to offset some of the other vaguely minimal aspects of its style. “Ancient Light” starts at a crawl and seems at first like it’s going to stay that way, but while there’s more of a focus on flow and riffs and low end depth than on-a-dime changes, Mountain Witch remain conscious of putting a build into their tracks, and “Ancient Light” shifts smoothly into a payoff section of faster chugging before returning to its lurch, Roggmann keeping the momentum going over “War Pigs” holdouts in understated but appropriate fills.
Most of the moves the Hamburg outfit make throughout Cold Rivershould be familiar enough to experienced listeners that there will be little problem accessing their methods, right down to the air-pushing bass that rests under the layered guitar solo in “School of Night” and the vocals that reach up from the recesses of the mix on the closing title-track, giving a sweet, hungover sensibility to its first stretch, from which it launches into a standout riff and ends the album on a resoundingly smooth back and forth that in itself is a summation of what Mountain Witch do so well with their sophomore outing — creating an atmosphere that draws you in and carries you on the waves of its tones. Whatever aspects of its sound might be recognizable, Cold River makes use of these elements in a way that distinguishes Mountain Witch as bending their influences to their own purposes, and it’s a take on doom that warrants hearing.
You can check out Mountain Witch‘s Cold Rivernow as part of the regular playlist on The Obelisk Radio and get a sample from the Bandcamp player below. Enjoy:
Posted in Radio on October 31st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Judging an album by its cover, I expected the self-titled debut full-length from Argentinian trio Los Asteroide to explore a heavy psych subtlety à la the post-Colour Haze European sphere. Indeed, there are parts of the instrumental, self-released, nine-track outing that do precisely that — songs like “Rockamuchacha” and the peaceful “El Traición” are at least in part peacefully, serenely noodled and echoing with that particular brand of tonal warmth — but Los Asteroide‘s Los Asteroideisn’t solely indebted to the influence of European heavy psych, and some of the album’s most memorable stretches arrive when the three piece of guitarist Lucas Veccio, bassist Mariano Cerbasi and drummer Alan Mikkelsen lock into a particularly driving groove, like that which emerges in the midsection of 13-minute opener “Houston Tenemos un Problema” (following a long sample of NASA radio chatter) or the later early Queens of the Stone Age-style bounce of “B-612.”
And though it has its quieter moments, it’s more in those starts and stops and takeoff grooves that Los Asteroide establish their sound on their first record, which follows an EP released in 2012. The extended opening track is the longest included (immediate points), but “Lazer” and the wah buildup of “Noveno Mandamiento” showcase no less character on the part of the band, and while a lot of what they do will be familiar or at least accessible to heavy psych heads, has Mikkelsen announces the arrival of the next rolling push with a quick snare fill in “Noveno Mandamiento,” that familiarity doesn’t detract from the appeal. If anything, in context, it makes Los Asteroide all the more a varied act, since they’re no less fluid on the denser riffing of closer “Diez Vikingos” than the earlier, more loosely-packed “Chiva Cosmica,” which has the sizable task of bringing listeners back to reality after the enduring hypnosis of “Houston Tenemos un Problema.”
True, that hypnosis might be all the more prevalent if Los Asteroide (not to be confused with the Swedish trio Asteroid) were to settle some in their sound and dial back some of the rush of “Lazer” or the quick changes in the cowbell-inclusive “Vuelos Espaciales,” but I’m not about to criticize them for what it is that ultimately gives their debut its personality just because the record was something other than what I anticipated when I first checked it out, particularly when a cut like “El Traición” still offers plenty of sunshine in which to bask. Wherever they take their sound — or, depending on how much their approach relies on jamming, wherever their sound takes them — Los Asteroide have a burgeoning stylistic blend at work and I’m glad to have been able to add their first album to The Obelisk Radio.
You can check out Los Asteroidethere in regular rotation as part of the 24/7 stream, or get a taste on the Bandcamp player below. Either way, enjoy:
Posted in Radio on October 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
They may or may not have pared down to a trio since, but it appears that for the bulk of their short tenure, Richmond, Virginia’s Sinister Haze were fronted by Brandon Malone, also of Fire Faithful. He’s not listed as being in the band now — the current lineup given is guitarist/vocalist Brandon Marcey (Cough), bassist Sam Marsh (Dry Spell) and drummer Joe Dillon (Balaclava) — but Malone‘s low, Southern metal soul delivery definitely has left a mark on Sinister Haze‘s aptly-titled 2013 Demo, whether it’s the bluesy Church of Misery-style swagger of “Changin’ Ways” or the loose Electric Wizard affiliation shown through the nine-minute “Black Shapeless Demon.” Marcey‘s own vocals are mostly screams that come forward more on the shorter “Betrayed by Time,” which closes out the three-song affair, but there are times especially on the first two tracks when it’s pretty clear there are two voices working in tandem, and presumably that’s a result of Malone and Marcey both contributing, not just different layers on the Griffin IV-recorded CD and tape, which is set for release through Unholy Anarchy Records in time for the band’s headlining gig at the first night of this year’s Autumn Screams Doom at The Ottobar in Baltimore, Oct. 25.
If it seems strange that a band just putting out their first demo of whom there seems to be no record going back any further than the start of 2013 would be playing last for the night at a fest that also features Negative Reaction, Weed is Weed, Iron Man, Wizard Eye and Serpent Throne — all of whom have been around considerably longer and are not without pedigree of their own in varying degrees — one might chalk it up to the immediately recognizable and acknowledged Saint Vitus influence in Marcey‘s guitar, delivered in kind with Dillon‘s bombastic crash. Or hell, maybe they know someone. Point is it’s a fucking quality demo, full of Southern grit without the post-Down dudely posturing, and raw and fucked-up sounding without making a lo-fi caricature of garage doom. “Black Shapeless Demon” is probably my pick of the three cuts here, but “Betrayed by Time” has a creeper catchiness to it that begs for repeat listens and even “Changin’ Ways” makes a hook out of its chorus, as oddly dismantled as it might seem. If nothing else, they make it apparent that their interest in fucking around is slim to none.
And with the prospect of what could be a different configuration that’ll either position Marcey as the frontman or bring someone else into the band to replace Malone, there’s even more intrigue for Sinister Haze as they move past their Demo, but most importantly for their first time out, these songs are heavy as hell and show Sinister Haze as being more than able to take the reins on a drunken sludge lurch. Always a welcome find, and bonus if it leads to further distorted misanthropy down the road.
You can hear Sinister Haze‘s Demonow streaming as part of the 24/seven The Obelisk Radio playlist, or check it out on the Bandcamp player below:
Posted in Radio on October 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
By no means do I want to imply that a straightedge post-metal band from Central Mexico is the thing you’re least likely to encounter in a given day, but Akûma are the first I’ve come across. The Morelia four-piece made their debut on Magnetic Eye Records last year with their Fearless JohnEP, and they follow it up with their sophomore full-length, For the Beloved Bones, tapping into atmospheric influences from an array of sources, pulling elements from Neurosis, Cult of Luna, Mastodon, some black metal, some post-hardcore destructiveness, and set it to inhumane tonality weighted enough to turn those beloved bones into beloved powder. That they don’t drink or do drugs, whoopie, I don’t really care. They’re heavy as fuck and that’s the part that matters.
Shades of High on Fire-style thrashing show up on “Peach” and the bonus track “MM/Mx,” but on the whole, Akûma seem to be more concerned with apocalyptic aural oppression and atmospheric densities. In the realm of post-metal, there are bands who sound like Isis and there are bands who don’t. Akûma don’t, and as a comparison point, the lonely echoing guitar on “Avalon” reminds me more of the latest Beast in the Field than anything else, setting an open-sky ambience that comes crashing down with the subsequent “Exiled Sons of Eve,” a gang-shouted paean to aggressive songcraft that finds surprising resolution in post-rock melodic soloing. Doomed more in mood than method, For the Beloved Bones puts just enough of an individualized twist on familiar elements to emerge sounding fresh, and whether it’s the acoustic centerpiece “Amongst the Vessels” or the tense build of “Tombs” into album-proper closer “Koyaanisqatsi,” Akûma‘s double-guitar blasts do well in leaving a metallic taste that comes with little sense of posturing.
Songs vary in approach and six out of the 11 on the 36-minute offering are instrumental, so as much as Akûma seem geared toward endtime tales, their priority remains the music itself. Their first album was 2010′s Invocations on theStorm, which was instrumental to an even higher ratio, so one is led to think that maybe they’re adapting themselves over time to a vocalized approach. If that’s what they’re working toward on For the Beloved Bones, the album isn’t any weaker for being a step in an ongoing progression, and if anything, it’s a sign of further heaviness to come. Cuts like the raging “Olas de Sangre” and maddening intro “According to the Currents” probably aren’t going to change your opinion one way or another on post-metal, but as Akûma continue to hammer out their sound, it’s clear they’re working from a strong base of varied influences.
Posted in Radio on August 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The story goes that Buenos Aires-based desert rockers Picaporters recorded their apparently-self-released, apparently-debut full-length, Elefantes, live over the course of two days in March 2013, and I’ll admit that I don’t know much more about them than that. Their sound is heavy, full of swing and ultimately geared toward a brilliantly effective laid back atmosphere, but as to their origins, how the trio of Juan Pablo Herrera (bass), Lucas Barrué (guitar) and Juan Pablo Vázquez (drums) got together (they seem to have lost a member or two along the way), if in fact Elefantesis their debut album, or even if it’s been or will be pressed physically, it’s as yet a mystery. All that leaves, then, is the music.
And to that, I’ll say I broke one of my own rules when it comes to Elefantes. An email came in from the band with little more than, “Hey, listen to our record here’s the Bandcamp link,” and where nine times out of 10, that note gets little more effort in a response than that which was put into the initial contact — i.e., next to none — I checked out Picaporters on a whim and was immediately consumed by the slow unfurling of 11:40 album opener “Hijo de Gaia,” which captures an in-the-studio vibe that still manages to be so relaxed that I couldn’t help but go with it. Some stuff just grabs you. Moments of burst early on do little justice to the flow the band creates, and though they’ll soon enough get up to some grunge-type riffing in the first half of “Idea RAM,” throughout “Hijo de Gaia” and “Emergiendo en Ondas,” a heavy psych groove pervades and sets a calming, engaging tone for the rest of Elefantes to come. “Idea RAM” winds up blending its early-’90s rush with effective jamming explorations, with sets up cool ’70s feel of “Lluvia de Metal,” the beginning of what seems to be a trilogy with “Sol de Metal” and “Eclipse de Metal” to follow. The bass emerges here with standout fills amid airier guitar lines and bouts of reinterpreted Sabbath-meets-Graveyard groove, vocals staying collected throughout en route to an echoing blues solo. The “de Metal” portion might be some of Elefantes‘ most effective material, but really it’s just one portion of the record’s diverse and universally switched-on course.
“Lluvia de Metal” finishes out with a touch of boogie built around quick rhythmic turns, and “Sol de Metal” picks up from silence to spend its first two minutes or so in humble desert guitar exploration before a heavier rock riff breaks down the door and pushes forth with significant thrust. A change in the vocal approach finds Picaporters tapping into echo that reminds of earliest Jesu – could be coincidence, could be on purpose — even as they hit on a relatively straightforward progression. That contrast makes the Elefantes centerpiece all the more intriguing, but as it becomes increasingly clear throughout, the real highlight moments are to be found in the instrumental interplay between the band members and the overall mood of the songs themselves — not dark, not pretentious, not trying too hard to fit with genre. The solo on “Sol de Metal” is almost too active to pair with the longer-held vocals that precede it, but it’s a minor gripe and the band soon breaks to bass and drums to reset the jam for what seems like a more fitting, improvised build before they fade back into the soft guitar line that opened the song for an unexpected show of symmetry. Though it’s less than half the length of its predecessor at 3:10, “Eclipse de Metal” ends the sequence fading up to find Picaporters in medias res on another warm instrumental excursion, the guitar wandering around lead lines while the bass and drums hold together a straightforward, classically heavy groove that seems to be in direct conversation with that of “Lluvia de Metal.” Seems only fitting.
Gradually, they fade “Eclipse de Metal” back to the silence from whence it came — another show of symmetry that gives a “slice of life” touch to the song — and shift course to the sweetly Hendrixian “Alternative Girl.” Also instrumental, it feels like the beginning process of what might’ve come out on the other end as a complete, structured song, but here winds up being an unabashedly pretty stretch that of course finds contrast to its brief two-minute pulse with the brash heavy rock return of “Amantes Instantes.” With Elefantes‘ most insistent heavy groove, the penultimate track stretches over eight minutes and meets early verse/chorus tradeoffs with a solo-led jam that, among other things, also accounts for the best basswork on the album. A sudden break after three minutes in is a surprise, but the bass leads the rebuilding process and just past minute four, they surge to life again, dynamic and with multiple layers of vocals where everything else seemed to be singularly delivered. Crashes and stops add a sense of chaos, and they break again, with soft vocals over quietly plucked guitars. This time, when they return with just about two minutes left, it’s with a slower, more low-end-driven part, pushed along, it would seem in its own miniature ebbs and flows.
How else to end such a thing but with a raging thrash breakdown in the last 30 seconds? “Amantes Instantes” is one of those songs that has more twists to it than some other bands’ whole albums, and it was clearly intended to be the culmination of Elefantes since what follows is a cover of Led Zeppelin‘s “Rock and Roll” that presents the Led Zeppelin IVsingle as a handclap-inclusive blues stomper, complete with jangly shuffle, soulful solo, drum breaks and repurposed “ooh yeah”s that groove the record out with a lighthearted sense that’s not quite a return to the unassuming start that “Hijo de Gaia” provided, but is nowhere near as severe as it would’ve been had they closed with “Amantes Instantes.” The whole album is available for free download through Picaporters‘ Bandcamp, and though they’re not exactly forthcoming on their backstory, sometimes the music does all the speaking that really needs to be done. However long they’ve been around, whether it’s two years or 10, Elefantesimpresses with its cohesiveness, natural vibe and shifts in tone.
You can hear it now as part of the regular playist for The Obelisk Radio and stream it on the player below:
Posted in Radio on August 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The crux of Nonsun‘s Sun Blind Me is set early on, as the Ukrainian duo of Goatooth (vocals/guitar/bass) and Alpha (drums) unfold the first of their latest release’s four massive tracks with an ultra-patient, ultra-dark droning atmosphere. That song, “Rain Have Mercy,” is the longest at 11:57 (immediate points), but consistent in its sprawl and intent with the rest of Sun Blind Me, having been extended from a prior version included on the Lviv twosome’s last outing, 2012′s Good Old Evil, which was dubbed an EP though it ranged close to 50 minutes. Sun Blind Mefollows this ethic as well, and between “Rain Have Mercy” and the subsequent “Forgotten is What Never Was” (11:22) is comprised half of older material and half of newer — the latter two cuts, “Alphomega (Part I: Sunlit Darkness)” and “Alphomega (Part II: Upward Blindness)” taking the drone and the darkly metallic plod that offsets it to even more inhuman-sounding aesthetic cohesion.
Nearly everything I’ve seen from Nonsun in terms of press quotes marks them out as a sludge band, and indeed they do themselves as well, but I disagree, at least if you’re looking at sludge in the sense of acts like EyeHateGod or Iron Monkey. Where chaos is part of the appeal in the work of those outfits, Nonsun come across as much more complex, the “Alphomega” two-parter taking its time even more than the first two songs on Sun Blind Mein moving between a mounting static noise of the first part to the emergence of an overlaying guitar part over the more minimalist second. At first, it seemed strange to me that Nonsun would open with older songs before moving into newer ones, but with the last half of Sun Blind Mebeing instrumental and even more broiled in its droning morass, it ultimately makes sense. That’s not to say “Rain Have Mercy” or “Forgotten is What Never Was” are particularly accessible, but at least there are vocals, and it shows that whatever Goatooth and Alpha might bring to their newest outing, they’re not willing yet to give up completely the methodologies they proffered on their debut.
As for those, I’d mark them more in league with a droned-out take on Euro-doom than sludge, though that influence may well be at work as well. There’s a sense of a plan at work throughout Sun Blind Me, though, and that remains so even as “Alphomega (Part II: Upward Blindess)” moves into the Earth-style sparseness of its second half, sounding mechanical while even for being plenty brutal in their own right, “Rain Have Mercy” and “Forgotten is What Never Was” eventually come around to the human element of vocals, growled and lurching though those vocals may be. Whatever sphere they’re working in and however drone-heavy that sphere might wind up being, Nonsun present a caustic but hypnotic take on tonal weight and a vague industrial influence without coming off as trying to reside in one genre or another. Their sound is clearly still in development, as indicated by the progress in approach from the first offering to the next, but they seem to be heading in a fascinating direction and I’ll look forward to finding out where it might go from here when and if they embark on an official full-length debut or subsequent EP or single.
Listen to Sun Blind Meas part of the playlist in regular rotation on The Obelisk Radio now. Already distributed digitally by Drowning, Nonsun will issue a tape of Sun Blind Me throughBreathe Plastic that’s due out soon. You can also listen to it on the Bandcamp player below:
Posted in The Numbers on July 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This one kind of crept up on me. I saw a couple weeks ago we were getting closer to 4,000 posts, but then I guess I forgot to pay attention and looked two days ago and we were there. Time flies when, uh, time is flying.
It’s been a lot of upheaval the last couple weeks for me on a personal level. Buying a house, then not buying it, having to scramble to find a place to live in a state I don’t really know (yet), then finally finding it, maybe not, maybe yes. Yes? I guess so. Seems like it, but that’s hardly the first time. If nothing falls apart and no secret chemical spills come to light, The Patient Mrs. and I will move next Thursday. A week from today.
The point is it’s stressful, and as has become my habit over the last four-plus years, I’ve been using this site as a means for finding some kind of stability in what’s been a teeth-grindingly unstable time. Thank you for continuing to read, to show your support, to be patient in my not answering emails in a timely fashion, to spread links, retweet, like posts, leave comments, whatever it is. Just yesterday, that Monster Magnet stream topped 1,000 Thee Facebooks likes. I try not to define my self-worth by such things, and I know for a fact that the link spreading around has nothing to do with my writing and everything to do with the fact that the song is good and it’s their first US tour in a decade, but this is the internet and I take validation wherever I can get it. So again, thank you.
I never have so I won’t start now to claim to have any idea what the future holds, for me, for this site, for anything. But as we pass 4,000 posts on this site, I’m glad for the things it has been able to accomplish and I have enjoyed watching it become the time-consuming beast it has become. If you’re reading this, then you’re keeping me going, so one more time before I move to the next thing, thank you.
Posted in Radio on May 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
In the Gozu interview that went up yesterday, there was a discussion of that feeling when a song fits together almost instantaneously in the rehearsal space — no real back and forth, no drama over parts, nothing like that. It just happens and then is done. New York heavy bluesers Geezer seem to have recently experienced such a phenomenon, and their new self-released EP, Gage, is what they have to show for it.
It’s only been a couple months since Geezer released their debut full-length, Handmade Heavy Blues — not enough time for me to review it, apparently — an album rife with slide guitar and gravely vocals, easy grooves and even an early-featured cover of The Beatles‘ “Why Don’t We Do it in the Road,” which sums up a good deal of the attitude present throughout. Gagecame together as a quick follow-up when the trio — guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, bassist Freddy Villano and drummer Chris Turco — entered the studio to record a track, presumably the fuzz-dreaming opener “Ancient Song,” for an upcoming Grip of Delusion Radio compilation. One became three, the live cut “Dude, it’s Molecular” was added, and an EP was made. Sometimes it’s just that simple. Rarely, but sometimes.
The EP itself reflects the relative smoothness of the process that bore it into the world. Harrington‘s guitar leads the way through “Ancient Song,” but the laid back groove that Villano and Turco throw down is not to be understated, the band departing from some ofHandmade Heavy Blues‘ insistence in favor of a languid pace and jammy feel, the vocals tapping into American stoner rock burl while staying deep in the mix and giving the riff the primary space it deserves. Second cut “Thorny” is shorter and bluesier, but also quiet, and the shift to a more subdued atmosphere is at once unexpected and naturally done. The three-piece prove more dynamic throughout than one simple meter or vibe, and “Thorny” feels quick at just over four minutes of airy electric strum, warm bass and minimalist timekeeping, like the psychedelic Americana that Scott H. Biram forgot he always wanted to make, or like Larman Clamor at its most reserved.
With a rhythm and inflection similar to a less bombastic take on Halfway to Gone‘s “Great American Scumbag,” “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” is the highlight of Gage for its open verses turning Sunday school into a bad trip and extended its solo break, which Geezer skillfully bring back to the chorus at the end, never letting the jam get the best of them. Reportedly played only the one time, “Dude, it’s Molecular” fades up with a clearer live guitar swell and snare rattle to gradually morph into an organic, improv-sounding instrumental that sounds as close to the jam room as we’re likely to get with the band, ending as unassumingly as it started. Geezer — who will play The Acheron in Brooklyn on July 27 as part of The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 (more info here) — are a relatively new band, but comprised of veterans who obviously know the value that chemistry between players can bring to a lineup. I’m thrilled to get Gage added to The Obelisk Radio this week.
You can hear it there now as part of the regular playlist, or check it out on the player below from the Geezer Bandcamp, where it’s also available for a pay-what-you-will download:
Posted in Radio on May 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m all for bands recording as much as possible and releasing it themselves, and I’m all for warts-and-all live bootlegs, so it’s no big surprise that when it comes to Beaverton, Oregon’s Doomsower and their first official bootleg, Upon an Obsidian Throne, I’m right on board with the proceedings. The doomly rocking three-piece manage to sneak four songs into the half-hour set, which was recorded earlier this year at the second annual Ceremony of Sludge, put on by the folks at Captain Couch Records at The Alleyway in Portland, and yeah, it’s pretty raw-sounding, but so was Doomsower‘s 1974full-length (review here), so even for being bare-bones, Upon an Obsidian Throneis at very least consistent.
More importantly, it’s also comprised completely of what I assume is new material written since the release of 1974– well, maybe not completely, since it starts out with a nod to “War Pigs” and that’s definitely older — and the songs feel suitably developed from the analog-minded lurch-and-groove of the album, whether it’s the bizarre, droning course of “Astoria,” which might actually be more than one song, or the riffed-out chorus to “Shrine of the Timber Gods.” I’ll give “Troll Hunter” best title, and though like a lot of bootlegs you kind of have to adjust your ear to the sound of it, Upon an Obsidian Thronewinds up well worth the effort, sounding on the proto-metal shuffle of “Magic Bullet” like it’s just begging for a tape release. Or, for that matter, a tape trade.
Obviously I don’t know whether these four songs will appear on Doomsower‘s next studio offering or not, but taken on its own level, Upon an Obsidian Thronegives a decent showing of where the three-piece might be headed, blending brash heavy rock and crunchier doomed passages to something engagingly heavy and a little dangerous at the same time. In hopes of getting to know it better and maybe spreading the word a bit, I’ve made it the Add of the Week for The Obelisk Radio, so you can hear it in rotation as part of that playlist, as well as download it from the player below, which comes directly courtesy of the Doomsower Bandcamp. Either way, please enjoy.
Posted in Radio on April 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The young lady sharing a high-five with what appears to be a Parisian owlsquatch in the picture above is vocalist Shannon-Allie Murphy of Colorado-based heavy Americana rockers Brightstar. Last year, Murphy released Brightstar‘s debut album, All theWay, and though one might take whimsy away from the above, the record’s actually way more geared toward a dark, sparse prairie sound, fostered by Murphy‘s collaboration with guitarist/vocalist T.G. Olson of Across Tundras.
Now, Olson‘s droning soundtrack to Cormac McCarthy‘s Blood Meridianwas featured here last week, but though it shares some of the same innate harvest doom tonality with Brightstar, I think you’ll agree the two are working in a much different vein, as perhaps signaled by the Hans Büscher artwork above. All the Wayhinges on country rock with brooding songs like “No Kiss Goodbye” or the acoustic-treated traditionalism of “The Blackest Crow,” elsewhere giving itself to echoing ethereality on the Murphy-penned and recorded “Trapped in a Song” or tapping into effective attitude-laden Westernism on “Tide Pool,” Olson backing on vocals and even taking lead for part of the chorus while also contributing a large portion of the instrumentation throughout.
Elsewhere, other contributors make their presences felt, whether it’s Brandon Freeman‘s rumbling bass on the more-uptempo-than-it-seems opening title-track or Matt Johnson‘s synth on the later “No Georgia Moonshine,” which blends strikingly well with the acoustic guitar arrangement where one might otherwise think it’d be at odds, giving an underlying sense of psychedelia even as it adds dimension to the already wide landscape the song casts. Both “Trapped in a Song” and the more textured “Down by the Hollow” remind some of Sera Timms‘ work in Ides of Gemini or her own Black Mare solo project, but the collaboration between Murphy and Olson in Brightstar gives it its own dynamic, not necessarily hinged to one genre or another but still definitively American in its sound and scope.
You can hear All the Wayas part of The Obelisk Radio playlist as of about five minutes ago when I uploaded the files to the server, and also check it out and grab a free download courtesy of the Brightstar Bandcamp page. Either way, please enjoy:
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:
Posted in Radio on March 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Northern Ireland-based trio Slomatics get down with some vicious tone worship, but I have the feeling that if you took this stuff and played it on an acoustic guitar, it would still sound heavy. Their latest single, The Future Past, follows last year’s A Hochtfull-length and sees the Belfast three-piece returning to the very beginnings of the band circa 2004 and refining some of their earliest material.
With two songs — “Running Battle” and “Son of Ampbreaker” — The Future Past doesn’t bring about quite the same kind of lurch that “Beyond Acid Canyon” from the most recent LP had, but even for being just slightly faster than that or Slomatics‘ contributions to their 2011 split with Conan (review here), neither cut lacks for weight or crater-honing force of impact. “Running Battle” launches an onslaught of low end and then cuts through it with blown-out vocals and buzzsaw leads, the drums holding steady on a still-plenty-slow stomp that “Son of Ampbreaker” varies from without fully departing.
The second track has a more open feel in the guitar and bass — as much as something so pummeling could be called “open” — but even here, the trio attack on all fronts, drummer Marty providing the shouts that seem to puncture the thick, thick, thick wall of tone, echoing with a destructive psychedelia made visceral through added noise and the let-me-just-point-it-out-again-because-it’s-so-fucking-heavy plod.
No word on a physical release, and the vibe I got was that going back and taking on these previously unrecorded songs from their early days was just something Slomatics did for fun or perhaps to exorcise at last the nagging demons of these riffs, but either way, if they’re just blowing off steam, that’s some viciously heavy steam to blow off. If you haven’t yet caught on to Slomatics‘ bludgeonry, The Future Pastmight be a great way to get introduced, and it’s for that reason that I made it The Obelisk Radio‘s Add of the Week, and swiped the stream from the Slomatics Bandcamp that you can check out below:
Posted in Radio on February 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
There’s not much known about Spanish sludge rockers Llord. The Barcelona-based trio recorded their debut demo last October and put it up for free download on Jan. 31, its three-tracks given a sense of extremity through guitarist David‘s vocals even as the band shows a commitment to a classic heavy approach, recording live and completely without the use of effects pedals. The former is nothing new — recording live is cheap and makes sense for a first demo by which to give listeners a general idea of what you’re going for sonically — but the lack of effects, Llord‘s attaining such tonality without a fuzz box or wah, that intrigues, whether it’s on the lead lines of “Iron Pescatore” or the larger stretch of riffing contained in 10-minute closer “Verro.”
Also noteworthy is the richness of the tones Llord are able to dial in. Bassist Aris complements David‘s guitar with clean, full-sounding runs, and even though the vocals have a more extreme metal bent — they remind especially on the slower Slayerisms of “Ordell” of Lair of the Minotaur — with drummer Mike serving as the anchor for their riffy wanderings, the material wouldn’t sound out of place with classic heavy rock wails put over them. This balance immediately gives Llord an individual sensibility in their take, and though I’m sure the demo’s primitive assault will be used as the first step in a progression that it is, it still provides a fascinating listen here and now.