Kyle Shutt of The Sword Announces First Solo Album Due in 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

As always when a band calls it quits, there’s some question as to what’s next for its component members. Some do nothing. Some form other groups with other former members of other former bands. Every now and again, someone goes solo, and that would seem to be the intent — or at least one of the intents — of The Sword guitarist Kyle Shutt, who in the wake of his main outfit going on hiatus is both taking his heavied-up Pink Floyd tribute project Doom Side of the Moon on the road for select dates this Fall and embarking on a first-ever, he-plays-everything solo album set to release in May 2019. He’s got a crowdfunding campaign set up for the album now wherein, among other assorted rewards, he offers for $3,000 to cover any song you want, and in the video he dares someone to raise the money on GoFundMe and make him do “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Fair.

The PR wire brings word of these sundry doings and more:

kyle shutt (Photo by Mateo Leyba)

The Sword Guitarist Kyle Shutt Announces Plans to Release Solo LP

Acclaimed Musician Launches Incentive-Driven Kickstarter Campaign to Fund Solo Debut; Album Slated for May 2019 Release

Celebrated guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Kyle Shutt has announced plans to release his first-ever solo album in the spring of 2019. Shutt, who has spent the last 12 years touring the world as guitarist for the award-winning hard rock band The Sword, and just last year launched Doom Side of the Moon: a Heavy Metal Tribute to Pink Floyd, plans to play all of the instrumentation on the solo release and handle vocals, as well. The musician has launched a fan-friendly Kickstarter campaign to fund the project, which is slated for a May, 2019 release date. For full details on the campaign, which runs through October 31, visit this location.

“I love producing albums and rolling up my sleeves to tackle big challenges,” says Shutt. “While wondering what to do with a mountain of material not necessarily fit for any band that I am in, I heard a tiny, very loud voice telling me to make a solo album in that very sense, solo! I’ll be hitting those drums, slapping that bass, singing those lyrics, and absolutely shredding that guitar. If there’s something that makes a noise I like, I’m playing it. Now, while making albums is a load of fun, it’s also a load of work that, in 2018 doesn’t come cheap. That’s why I thought I’d ask you all be a part of the launching of this wacky solo career, which isn’t just stopping with this initial album. I’m starting with this record and will go wherever my inspiration takes me.”

“It‘s not easy being an artist these days, and I truly couldn’t do this without your support,” Shutt continues. “So if you have the faith in me to do my part in saving rock ’n’ roll, pick up a record and a shirt and LET’S DO THIS THING!

Shutt’s Austin-based Doom Side of the Moon project will perform its first-ever national live shows this December with just-announced gigs in Dallas, Denver and Brooklyn in addition to an encore performance in ATX. The autumn itinerary is as follows:

Doom Side of the Moon tour dates:

November 30 Austin, TX Emo’s
December 1 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Live!
December 3 Denver, CO Bluebird Theater
December 4 Brooklyn, NY Warsaw

“Taking Doom Side of the Moon on the road, and to the sky for that matter for these fly in dates, is certainly the biggest project I’ve ever attempted, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous,” Shutt states. “I can only imagine what Pink Floyd felt like taking a show like ‘The Wall’ on the road. Those guys had such astounding ambition, I hope I do them justice by putting on the best tribute I can to their timeless catalog.”

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kyleshutt/kyle-shutt
https://www.facebook.com/DoomSideoftheMoon/

Doom Side of the Moon album visualizer

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Quarterly Review: The Sword, Mountain Tamer, Demon Head, Bushfire, Motherslug, Dove, Treedeon, Falun Gong, Spider Kitten, Greynbownes

Posted in Reviews on April 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Okay then. We got past the first day and I thought it went reasonably well. No casualties. Nobody’s brain melted from trying to find another word for “riffs” for the 19th time, so yeah, mark it a win. There’s a good spread of stuff in today’s batch — a little of this, a little of that — so hopefully somewhere in the mix you’re able to run into something you dig. Hell, I’ll say the same for myself as well. Come on, let’s go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

The Sword, Used Future

the sword used future

Now-veteran Austin heavy rockers The Sword have gotten a mixed response to the more progressive approach their recent work has taken, and I doubt Used Future (on Razor & Tie) is going to be any less polarizing, but its crisp 13 tracks/43 minutes are pulled off with professionalism. Yes, it has its self-indulgent aspects in “Sea of Green” or the earlier instrumental “The Wild Sky,” but The Sword have never done anything other than deliver accessible heavy rock and tour like hell, so while I get the mixed response, at this point I think the band has at very least earned a measure of respect for what they’ve accomplished as ambassadors of underground heavy. They wanna throw a little John Carpenter influence into “Nocturne?” Fine. They’re not hurting anybody. The unfortunate truth about The Sword is that neither polarized side is right. They’re not the end of heavy metal as we know it; some crude ironic take on what metal should be. And they’re not the greatest band of their generation. They have a good record deal. They write decent songs. Where’s the problem with that? I don’t hear it on Used Future.

The Sword on Thee Facebooks

Razor & Tie website

 

Mountain Tamer, Living in Vain Demo

mountain tamer Demo 2017

If it was Mountain Tamer’s intention to get listeners excited about the prospect of a second full-length from the Santa Cruz, CA three-piece, then the Living in Vain demo serves this purpose well. Their 2016 Argonauta Records self-titled debut (review here) expounded on the potential they originally showed with 2015’s Mtn Tmr demo (review here), and though it’s only two songs, Living in Vain would seem to do the same in building on the accomplishments of the album before it. The opening title-track is labeled “Living in Vain Pt. 1” and nestles easily into a mid-paced shuffle before shifting into psychedelic lead layering and a more jammed-out spirit, from which it returns in the last 30 seconds to hit into a more solidified ending riff, leading to the immediately slower “Wretched.” More spacious, more of a march, it plays into an instrumental hook and holds to its structure for its entire 5:40, ending with guitar on a quick fade. Obviously the intention with a release like this is to entice the listener with the prospect of the band’s next album. Living in Vain does that and more.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

 

Demon Head, The Resistance

demon head the resistance

Returning just about a year after issuing their second album, Thunder on the Fields (review here), Copenhagen-based proto-metallers Demon Head offer a new two-songer single titled The Resistance that at least to my ears speaks to the current political moment of populism opposing liberalism – as much at play in Europe as in the US, if not more so – and the fight for an open society. They present it as a six-plus-minute languid groove with flashes of militaristic snare; something of a turn from the cult rock of their two-to-date long-players. One could say the same of the sci-fi themed “Rivers of Mars,” though like its predecessor, it remains sonically on-point with the band’s vintage aesthetic, fostered through naturalist guitar and bass tones, bluesy, commanding vocals and classy, creative drumming. Actually, apply that “classy” all around. As Demon Head continue to come into their own sound, they do so with poise that’s all the more striking for how raw their presentation remains.

Demon Head on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records

 

Bushfire, When Darkness Comes

bushfire when darkness comes

When Darkness Comes is German heavy rocking five-piece Bushfire’s follow-up to late-2013’s Heal Thy Self (review here), and it retains the Darmstadt-based outfit’s penchant for quality riffcraft and a showcase for the vocals of frontman Bill Brown, which hit in bottom-of-the-mouth melodies and gruff shouts fitting to cuts like “The Conflict” and the swinging “Shelter.” Bushfire are no strangers to a semi-Southern element in their sound, and that remains true on When Darkness Comes from the opening title-track through the later “Another Man Down” and closer “Liberation.” Somewhat curiously, that closer is instrumental, and where the vocals play such a role in the overarching impression the record makes, it’s an interesting twist to have them absent from the final statement, leaving guitarists Marcus Bischoff and Miguel Pereira, bassist Vince and drummer Sascha to finish out on their own. If groove is the measure, they’re certainly up to the task, but then, that was never really in doubt.

Bushfire on Thee Facebooks

Bushfire on Bandcamp

 

Motherslug, The Electric Dunes of Titan

motherslug the electric dunes of titan

I’m sorry. I don’t see how you could dig anything calling itself “stoner” and not be down with what Motherslug are doing with their second long-player, The Electric Dunes of Titan. Plus-sized riffing all over the place, languid rollouts, excursions into psychedelic splendor (see “Followers of the Sun,” etc.), explosions into massive groove (see “Staring at the Sun”), a nod to High on Fire in “Tied to the Mast” and a Sleep-style march on closer “Cave of the Last God” that’s probably the best I’ve heard since the Creedsmen Arise demo in 2015. Really, if Motherslug doesn’t do it for you, nothing will. Five years after they initially released their self-titled EP (review here), which was later expanded into their debut album for NoSlip Records (review here), the Melbourne outfit charge back with what should be a litmus test for riff-heads. In all seriousness, from tone to structure to songwriting to production to the cover art, there’s just nothing here that doesn’t deliver the message. Should’ve been on my best of 2017 list.

Motherslug on Thee Facebooks

Motherslug on Bandcamp

 

Dove, Dove Discography

dove discography

In the wake of Floor’s disbanding, drummer Henry Wilson formed Dove. They were around for about five years, did some touring (one remembers picking up their self-titled in a Manhattan basement with $2 Rolling Rocks calling itself The Pyramid), and disbanded to a cult status not so different from that which Floor enjoyed prior to their own reunion, if to something of a lesser degree. As the title indicates, Dove Discography compiles “every listenable track” the band ever put out, including their self-titled, Wilson’s original demo for the project, compilation and 7” material. All told, it’s 20 tracks and just under an hour of documentation for who Dove were and the kind of punk metal they were about, never quite stoner, but heavy rock to be sure, and definitely of the Floridian ilk that produced both Floor and Cavity and a style Wilson has progressed with House of Lightning. Dove could be blazingly intense or they could plod out a huge riff, holding a deceptively wide purview that was only part of the reason they were so underrated at the time.

Dove on Bandcamp

House of Lightning on Thee Facebooks

 

Treedeon, Under the Manchineel

treedeon under the manchineel

To anyone who might complain that all sludge sounds the same, I humbly submit Treedeon, whose second album for Exile on Mainstream, Under the Manchineel, is a work both noise-laden and righteously avant garde. Perhaps even more ferocious than its 2015 predecessor, Lowest Level Reincarnation (review here), the seven-track/44-minute outing offers a touch of melody in “Breathing a Vein” and buried deep in the midsection of 16-minute closer “Wasicu,” and arguably in guitarist Arne Heesch’s delivery in opener “Cheetoh” as well, but he and bassist Yvonne Ducksworth mostly keep to harsh shouts as they create consuming washes of noise over the madcap drumwork of newcomer Andy Schuenemann, who punctuates every punch of Ducksworth’s gotta-hear-it bass tone on album centerpiece “No Hell” as Heesch goes lands the chorus with the line “No hell can hold me” as its standout line. Bringing a sense of themselves to an established style to a degree that’s rare, rarer, rarest, Treedeon are no less aggressively weird than they are aggressive, period.

Treedeon on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream website

 

Falun Gong, Figure 1

Falun Gong Figure 1

There are some post-Electric Wizard shades that emerge in the debut single from London’s Falun Gong by the time it reaches its feedback-soaked finale, but really, “Figure 1” is much more about digging into its own cultistry than that of the Obornian sort. Still, the overarching impression is somewhat familiar, and will be particularly to those who were fans of The Wounded Kings, but the duo who remain anonymous present themselves with a clearheaded intent toward maximum sonic murk, and with the lumbering misery they trod out in “Figure 1,” they seem to achieve what they’re going for. I don’t know who they are, but I’d guess this isn’t their first band, and as crowded as London’s heavy underground has become over the course of this decade, acts like Falun Gong are fewer and farther between than some others, and during these 10 minutes, they make a striking first impression. One hopes for “Figure 2” sooner rather than later.

Falun Gong on Bandcamp

 

Spider Kitten, Concise and Sinister

http://theobelisk.net/obelisk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/spider-kitten-concise-and-sinister.jpg

Intended as a thematic continuation to some degree of 2016’s Ark of Oktofelis, the four-song Concise and Sinister finds long-running multi-genre UK outfit Spider Kitten bookending two extended crushers around two shorter pieces, one of which is a cover of Hank Williams’ “Alone and Forsaken” (also memorably done by 16 Horsepower) and the other of which is a noise-punk assault that lasts 46 seconds and is called “I’m Feeling So Much Better.” Whether fast or slow, loud or quiet, the intention of Spider Kitten doesn’t seem even at its most abrasive to be to punish so much as to challenge, and whether it’s the cinematic elements dug into the march of opener and longest track (immediate points) “A Glorious Retreat” (11:33) or the harmonies that accompany especially-doomed 10-minute closer “Martyr’s Breath,” Spider Kitten and founder Chi Lameo demonstrate a creativity acknowledging that bounds exist and then simply refusing to accept them, making even the familiar seem unfamiliar in the process.

Spider Kitten on Thee Facebooks

Spider Kitten on Bandcamp

 

Greynbownes, Grey Rainbow from Bones

greynbownes grey rainbow from bones

Comprised of guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Lukas, bassist Martin and drummer Jakub, Greynbownes hail from Moravia in the Czech Republic and the moniker-explaining Grey Rainbow from Bones is their self-issued debut full-length. It is comprised of nine tracks of inventive heavy rock, pulling elements from grunge and ‘90s-era stoner noise on cuts like “Across the Bones” while veering into fare more aggressive, or psychedelic or jammy in the trio of six-minute tracks “Seasons,” “Death of Autumn Leaves” and “B 612” that precedes the closing duo of the funky “Sitting at the Top” and the mellow-but-still-heavy finisher “Weight of Sky,” which feels far removed from the opening salvo of “Boat of Fools,” the fuzz-punker “Madness” and the fuckall-chug of “What is at Stake.” Yes, it’s all over the place, and one might expect Greynbownes’ sound to solidify over time, but to the trio’s credit, Grey Rainbow from Bones never flies apart in the way that it seems at multiple points it might, and that’s an encouraging sign.

Greynbownes on Thee Facebooks

Greynbownes on Bandcamp

 

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King Buffalo Announce West Coast Tour with The Sword

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Rochester trio King Buffalo recently sold through the test pressings of their latest EP, Repeater (review here), at their BigCartel store — I mean, they were there and then they were gone, just like that — and I assumed it was because the psych rockers were looking to get together funds ahead of an impending return trip to Europe to once again tour alongside Massachusetts heavy prog forerunners Elder on a stint that includes stops at Desertfest Berlin and Desertfest London, but it seems that was only part of the story.

Newly announced today is the fact that King Buffalo will hit the road on the West Coast to tour with Austin, Texas, riff veterans The Sword. Not to take anything away from the stints King Buffalo have done in the US with All Them Witches or anyone else, but I think this qualifies for sure as the highest-profile US touring they’ve done to-date, and of course one wishes them all the best as they continue to turn heads everywhere they go. Dudes are killing it.

Dig the specifics:

King Buffalo on their upcoming tours:

KB from the outset was always determined be a touring band. In the four years since our creation we’ve never been to the west coast. Something for whatever reason always seemed to elude us. We’re excited to be making our maiden voyage with some absolute legends in The Sword.

King Buffalo w/ The Sword west coast tour:
3/21 Austin, TX – Mohawk
3/23 El Paso, TX – Tricky Falls
3/24 Phoenix, AZ – Rebel Lounge
3/25 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey
3/26 San Francisco, CA – Fillmore
3/27 Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
3/29 Seattle, WA – Neumos
3/30 Spokane, WA – The Pin
3/31 Boise, ID – Neurolux
4/2 Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall
4/3 Grand Junction, CO – The Mesa Theater
4/4 Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre (Englewood)
4/6 Lincoln, NE – Bourbon Theatre
4/7 Minneapolis, MN – Skyway Theatre
4/8 Milwaukee, WI – The Rave II
4/9 Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom
4/10 Memphis, TN – 1884 Lounge
4/11 Baton Rouge, LA – Varsity Theatre

King Buffalo w/ Elder European tour:
24.04.2018 DK – Copenhagen, VEGA
25.04.2018 SWE – Stockholm, Undergången
26.04.2018 NOR – Oslo, Parkteatret
27.04.2018 NOR – Bergen, Landmark Bergen
28.04.2018 NOR – Stavanger, Folken
30.04.2018 SWE – Gothenburg, Sticky Fingers // Göteborg
01.05.2018 GER – Hamburg, Hafenklang
03.05.2018 PL – Kracow, TBA
04.05.2018 PL – Warsaw, Klub Hydrozagadka
05.05.2018 DE – Berlin, Desertfest Berlin
06.05.2018 UK – London, Desertfest London
07.05.2018 B – Brussels, Ancienne Belgique – AB
08.05.2018 NL – Haarlem, Patronaat Haarlem
09.05.2018 CH – Winterthur, Gaswerk
10.05.2018 F – Gueret, Festival Metal Culture(s) VIII
12.05.2018 ES – Madrid, Kristonfest
18.05.2018 IS – Reykjavik, Gaukurinn

http://kingbuffalo.bigcartel.com
https://www.facebook.com/kingbuffalolives/
http://www.twitter.com/_kingbuffalo
http://www.instagram.com/_kingbuffalo
http://kingbuffalo.com/
https://www.stickman-records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940/

King Buffalo, Repeater (2018)

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Extolling Ignorance: The Top Five Albums I Didn’t Hear in 2012

Posted in Features on January 10th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Just yesterday I was reading a news story about how scientists are regrowing hair cells (pictured above) in mice to restore hearing damage caused by loud noises. Nifty stuff and certainly something that would come in handy if and when they can actually make it work for people, but it still wouldn’t do me any good, because I’m not just talking about records I didn’t hear because I saw SunnO))) that one time without earplugs — I’m talking about albums that I didn’t hear because, for one reason or another, our paths didn’t cross at all. If you want to talk about the other kind of not hearing, ask The Patient Mrs. how loud I keep the tv at night.

But as regards those reasons: In the past when I’ve done this list, it’s usually been with some measure of shame. Last year, I had to admit I hadn’t heard Argus‘ album because I knew I’d like it and wind up buying a copy (which I finally did), and had to admit that I slept on Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. This year it’s a little different. Most of the records on this list I could’ve easily heard — if I’d wanted to hear them. In 2012, it wasn’t just that I missed stuff (though I did, I’m quite sure), but also that some stuff I just couldn’t be bothered to download the promo mp3s. You’d be amazed how often that happens.

So with that in mind, I humbly and ignorantly present my Top Five Albums I Didn’t Hear in 2012. I hope if I missed anything essential, you’ll let me know.

1. Soundgarden, King Animal

It’s a pretty rare thing for me to get a request for a review from someone neither in nor representing a band (i.e. PR or a label, etc.), and I got more than one for Soundgarden‘s reunion full-length, King Animal. I heard the record was great, but seriously, whatever. I was never a huge Soundgarden fan, and the whole tone of their getting back together left me cold — people calling them brave for putting out a rock album that everyone knows is gonna sell like mad and talking about playing arena shows in front of thousands of fans like it’s a bold decision. Sorry, but the bold decision would be for Soundgarden to have stayed broken up and for Chris Cornell to work with Timbaland again. King Animal could’ve been the best rock record of 2012 for all I know, but I’m pretty sure all I’d hear would be tuned vocals and sampled drums. Pass.

2. Baroness, Yellow and Green

I give Georgia natives Baroness the utmost respect for the heap of shit they ate as regards their luck last year, but even their tenacity in recovering from a bus accident — along with the vehement recommendations of, well, the universe — wasn’t enough to get me on board for their third album, Yellow and Green. Here’s a fun fact: Up to this point in the band’s career, I’ve owned just about everything they’ve put out, because I figured that sooner or later, I’d come around. I saw them at Emissions from the Monolith years back and picked up the First and Second EPs because I was like, “Yeah, I’ll probably start digging this band and when I do, I’ll be glad to have these.” I keep waiting for that switch to flip and it just hasn’t yet. Loves me some Valkyrie though, for what that’s worth.

3. The Sword, Apocryphon

While I’m talking about old shows, I caught Austin’s The Sword opening a Relapse Records showcase at SXSW when all they had out was a demo and thought they were bloody brilliant. I even dug Age of Winters when it came out, but my interest level diminished on the quick. I didn’t bother with 2010’s Warp Riders either, and as they made their Razor and Tie Records debut with Apocryphon in October, I barely blinked. These guys get consistent support, and I’ll give it to them that they put in their work on the road supporting what they do and always have, but in terms of what I’m going to listen to for a week straight before I review it, there’s gonna be no shortage of other Sword reviews out there and I doubt very much mine’s going to have anything revolutionary to say, so yeah, there are better ways to spend my time.

4. Rival Sons, Head Down

Maybe I could’ve climbed on board for what SoCal-based Rival Sons had to offer, but frankly the whole thing seemed a little too reality show. Like the headline says, I didn’t hear the record, but with their major label hair, purported classic rock sound and press hype, it just seemed like they were a band I was supposed to like, as if you took what makes kickass heavy rock and broke it down to Lego parts, adding a standalone moustache. I’ve heard from some reliable sources that they are indeed the shit, but the contrarian in me just wasn’t having any of Head Down. Maybe I’m wrong and next time they put out an album I’ll take a listen and have to eat my words. Wouldn’t be the first time.

5. Mark Lanegan Band, Blues Funeral

This one I legitimately regret not hearing. Former Screaming Trees vocalist and frequent Queens of the Stone Age collaborateur, Mark Lanegan has one of those voices that he probably won’t have grown into until he’s 65 years old. You know how Johnny Cash was finally old enough for his voice when he started putting out the American series, or how Tom Waits hit that line in 2011 and everyone was like “holy crap Tom Waits is the best thing ever?” I’m pretty well convinced Mark Lanegan will get there sooner or later. I got a promo of Blues Funeral, but it was a download so I didn’t bother. Too late to review it now, but maybe I’ll pick it up somewhere along the line. Maybe not. Doesn’t seem like Mr. Lanegan‘s hurting either way, unless, you know, you count the existential agonies present in his vocal delivery.

Okay, that’s it. Everything else I heard in 2012 so there you go. No, of course that’s not true. As always, there were tons of albums I missed out on — one of these days I’m gonna sit with Heavy Eyes and give them a real chance — because I’m only one man, I only have two ears, and those ears are only so willing to listen to stuff that’s not Neurosis.

Anything essential you think I missed, or anything essential that you missed that you want to add? Leave a comment below.

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Readers Poll Results: The Top 20 of 2012

Posted in Features on January 1st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Happy New Year to everyone around the world. It’s January 1, 2013, and to celebrate the New Year the best way I know how, I got right to work on tabulating the results of the 2012 Readers Poll. I’ve been tracking the results as they’ve come in over the course of December, and as you can see in the list below, it was a tight race for the top spot right up to the end.

Before we run down the finished list, I want to extend gratitude to each and every one of the 296 people who contributed their top 12 so this list could be put together. It’s an amazing response and I was super stoked that so many of you were able to take part. Thank you for that. Right from the first day the form went up, I knew this was going to be awesome, and it wound up exceeding my every expectation. It was a great sendoff to the year. Much appreciated.

Here are the results of the Top 20 of 2012 Readers Poll:

1. Om, Advaitic Songs – 108 votes

2. High on Fire, De Vermis Mysteriis – 106

3. Graveyard, Lights Out – 86

4. Neurosis, Honor Found in Decay – 65

5. Ufomammut, Oro – 63

5. Witchcraft, Legend – 63

6. Colour Haze, She Said – 56

6. Saint Vitus, Lillie: F-65 – 56

7. Kadavar, Kadavar – 49

7. Pallbearer, Sorrow and Extinction – 49

8. Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Damned – 46

9. Baroness, Yellow and Green – 39

10. Conan, Monnos – 38

11. Swans, The Seer – 35

12. Astra, The Black Chord – 31

13. Greenleaf, Nest of Vipers – 31

13. The Sword, Apocryphon – 31

14. Royal Thunder, CVI – 26

14. Wo Fat, The Black Code – 26

15. Ancestors, In Dreams and Time – 25

16. Torche, Harmonicraft – 23

17. Corrosion of Conformity, Corrosion of Conformity – 22

18. Enslaved, Riitiir – 19

19. Goat, World Music – 18

19. Melvins Lite, Freak Puke – 18

19. Soundgarden, King Animal – 18

20. Amenra, Mass V – 17

20. Samothrace, Reverence to Stone – 17

16 Votes

Witch Mountain, Cauldron of the Wild
Rush, Clockwork Angels
Stoned Jesus, Seven Thunders Roar
Troubled Horse, Step Inside

15 Votes

Converge, All We Love We Leave Behind – 15
Mighty High, Legalize Tre Bags – 15
My Sleeping Karma, Soma – 15

Pretty wild to have Om and High on Fire so close, and they were tied for a long, long time, but Om retained an early lead and managed to pull it out in the end. As you can see, there were a number of releases that tied with others for their position. Seemed only fair to me to include all of them, and I also threw in those with 16 and 15 votes as well, just because it was close. In total, there were an astounding 1,200+ albums entered into consideration.

Once again, thanks to everyone for making this Readers Poll happen and for taking the time to be a part of it. Already looking forward to some fantastic things to come in 2013, so please stay tuned and keep your lists handy.

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Live Review: Kyuss Lives!, The Sword, Black Cobra and The Atomic Bitchwax in New Jersey, 12.10.11

Posted in Reviews on December 13th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Earlier in the day, while waiting for a table at the Alexis Diner on Rt. 10 in Denville, I asked The Patient Mrs. to buy a ticket for the Powerball. I don’t usually play the lottery, but we’d been there for a bit waiting for the rest of my family to show up (lunch following my nephew’s Xmas pageant was one of the day’s several social obligations), and still tired from seeing Mighty High and Cortez the night before, I thought how great it would be to both win the Powerball and see Kyuss Lives! in the same day. My reasoning was that one was great enough, but imagine both!

It’s a wonder I’m not divorced.

The early part of that same evening found The Patient Mrs. and I (she was driving; I’d already had a few and I’d have a few more before the night was out) racing northbound on the Parkway to get to the Wellmont Theatre in scenic Montclair, NJ, in time to catch The Atomic Bitchwax open the show for Black Cobra, The Sword and Kyuss Lives!, who were on the last night of their tour and under whose banner the whole show took place. The Bitchwax being Jersey locals, the appeal was plain, and with the added interest of Dave Witte (Human Remains, Burnt by the Sun, Exit-13, Birds of Prey, Municipal Waste, etc.) filling in on drums, I didn’t want to miss it. You know that hurried feeling when you get all anxious that you’re not going to make it in time? It was like at, and as per usual, completely without reason. We arrived well in time for the start of their set.

Last time I saw The Atomic Bitchwax was at the Saint in Asbury Park with Karma to Burn, and it was high on the list of the best shows I’ve ever seen them play. With Witte‘s taking Bob Pantella‘s spot on drums while the latter is on a European run with Monster Magnet, intrigue was high. Sure enough, Witte more than held his own, but as you’d expect, the chemistry that’s developed between Pantella and bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan just wasn’t there. Still, they did Jersey proud, and I spent the whole time trying to figure out how Kosnik would know Witte (Human Remains was a Jersey band; that’s the best I could come up with), taking minor mental detours to enjoy “Destroyer,” “Gettin’ Old,” “So Come On,” “Shitkicker,” “Hope You Die,” the Core cover, “Kiss the Sun” and the curious instrumental choice of closer, “Force Field.”

Witte is a master drummer. The reason he’s involved in so many projects is he’s so adaptable, and in The Atomic Bitchwax, he nestled in well alongside the fast-winding riffs of Kosnik and Ryan, though there was part of him that looked ready to bust out a grindcore blastbeat at any moment, and his snare seemed to pop with that kind of expectation. By contrast, Rafa Martinez of Black Cobra did unleash a few blasts, most notably during “Obliteration” from the band’s most recent Invernal album, but hit with a different technique altogether. This was the first I’d seen Black Cobra since Invernal came out, and I was glad to find them focusing on the new material, since I think it’s their best yet.

That Martinez and guitarist/vocalist Jason Landrian were unbelievably tight should almost go without saying at this point, since that’s pretty much been the case with the duo since their inception as a touring act seven or eight years ago at this point. They opened with “Avalanche” from the new album, though, and it occurred to me how much they’ve grown in terms of stagecraft. Landrian, quiet and subdued off stage, is more confident than ever while on, and more apt to engage the audience as a frontman. He held his guitar over his head, headbanged, yelled off-mic at the crowd and generally worked to bring people into the show. It wasn’t yet crowded at the Wellmont, but the people who showed up early knew why they were there, and I think Landrian‘s efforts were appreciated.

“Avalanche” and “Obliteration” were highlights, but the irresistible riffing of “Corrosion Fields” made their set, and it would do so again the next night in Brooklyn. That kind of chugging groove is unmistakably righteous, and I didn’t in the least envy Austin, Texas, riffers The Sword for having to follow it. Still, they did, and as The Sword are more or less the commercial vanguard at this point for heavy rock, I felt in watching them like they were unavoidable. Bound to happen. I didn’t hear their last record, 2010’s Warp Riders, and I don’t remember the one before that, but I immediately recognized “Freya” from Age of Winters for its epic riffing and battle tales, and that was fine.

Look. At this point, The Sword aren’t going anywhere. They have a more than solid fanbase, have worked hard enough on the road to give their now-former drummer a nervous breakdown, and as guitarist/vocalist J.D. Cronise was out front watching The Atomic Bitchwax during their set, I’m inclined to think their hearts are in the right place, whatever the hype or promotional push around them might be. Hipster metal isn’t all The Sword‘s fault, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even like the band. They did their thing and the crowd responded well to it, and if I wasn’t into it, then at least I got a few minutes once I was done taking pictures to grab another beer and sit down before Kyuss came on, which I appreciated thoroughly.

And you’ll notice in that last sentence I dropped the “Lives!” from Kyuss Lives!, which seems only fair at this point. The looming prospect of a new album next year, plus the time the foursome of vocalist John Garcia, bassist Nick Oliveri, guitarist Bruno Fevery and drummer Brant Bjork have put in on the road playing those old tunes, they’ve earned it. It’s Kyuss. You know it, I know it. This was my second time seeing them, and yeah, Josh Homme wasn’t in the building, but seriously, bands have toured with fewer founding members, and I defy you to watch Brant Bjork during “Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop” and call it anything other than Kyuss.

It was pretty clear they were tired from being on the road, the show wasn’t exactly sold out even at its most crowded point, and the cavernous high ceiling of the Wellmont that so well suited Black Cobra didn’t do them any favors sound-wise, but how could I possibly think of a Kyuss set as anything other than a positive? What else would I have been doing that night that would’ve been better than drunkenly belting out the parts to “El Rodeo” along with Oliveri and Garcia, or watching the jam that developed out of “50 Million Year Trip (downside up)?” Nothing. Watching the current incarnation of Kyuss tear through their set with the level of poise and professionalism they did was a blast. Garcia didn’t talk much, but sounded killer singing, and Fevery seemed even more comfortable on the songs than he had in Philly, making “Hurricane,” “Freedom Run” and “One Inch Man” high points of a night mostly comprised of high points.

Whatever becomes of the Kyuss Lives! lineup, with Oliveri facing jail-time following a SWAT standoff earlier this year and Scott Reeder waiting in the wings to take up the bassist position as he did prior to the release of 1994’s genre-defining Welcome to Sky Valley, they’ve done well by themselves and most importantly, by the material on these American and European tours. After absolutely nailing “Demon Cleaner,” they came out to do a quickie encore that included “Green Machine” and (I think; someone please correct me if I’m wrong) “Odyssey,” and then were done. I’d expected “Thumb,” but the Wellmont house lights came back up and the audience was quickly escorted out the door and into the cold.

Jersey doesn’t get shit for heavy rock shows. Generally speaking, if it’s coming anywhere these days, it’s coming to Brooklyn or maybe Manhattan if it’s a big enough deal to get into one of the corporate venues, but something like seeing Kyuss on my home turf in North Jersey, I felt like it was a really special opportunity and one I think I made the most of. It was night two of three shows in a row for me, but definitely will standout as more than just the middle in a series. I got everything I could’ve asked for except cheaper beer, and as I woke up the next day sans hangover, I felt like even the $7 Shiner Bock was a favor directed in my way (well, maybe not). I didn’t win the Powerball, but I’d hardly call it a loss for that.

Extra pics after the jump.

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