Posted in Reviews on August 30th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
The Wounded Kings began their career in 2004. They ended it in 2016. By the time they got around to releasing their first album, 2008’s Embrace of the Narrow House, their lineup consisted of guitarist Steve Mills and vocalist George Birch. The UK outfit’s fifth and last long-player, Visions in Bone (released by Candlelight/Spinefarm), was recorded in part by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio and also features those two founders, but to call the route they took to get to that point circuitous would probably be underselling it. They’d appear together again on 2010’s The Shadow over Atlantis (review here), but by the time the band got around to releasing their split with Cough, An Introduction to the Black Arts (review here), that same year, the lineup had begun to shift from a duo to a four-piece, and the changes would continue for the next half-decade-plus.
By the time 2011’s In the Chapel of the Black Hand (review here) arrived, Birch was out and Mills had already revamped the rhythm section, as he’d continue to do for the next several years. Vocalist Sharie Neyland took the reins and worked fluidly enough with the band’s cultish themes that 2014’s Consolamentum (review here) found them swapping labels from I Hate to Candlelight, taking advantage of wider distribution despite continued lineup shifts. They were a double-guitar five-piece at that point, but Visions in Bone brings their number back down to four, with Mills and Birch joined by drummer Mike Heath (on board since 2011) and bassist Alex Kearney (who also joined in 2011, but on guitar).
In some ways, it feels like a miracle The Wounded Kings pushed ahead as long as they did, and I’d call it a miracle but for all of the obvious hard human effort put into their songwriting and presentation, which have always provided stability despite whatever tumult surrounded. The Wounded Kings never had a “down” album. Well, unless you count in mood, in which case they’re all pretty “down,” but whoever happened to be in the band at any given time, they never failed to deliver quality output and as they wrap their tenure after a respectable 12-year run with these five tracks, they remain a forward-thinking, progressive outfit working in defiance of expectation for what one might commonly think of as “traditional doom,” turning convention on its head with a sound it nonetheless seems fair to think of as classic in its roots.
Birch‘s vibrato makes itself welcome almost immediately as he takes command of 14-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Beast,” and while his reunion with Mills — whose guitar, as ever, conjures the kind of darkened swirl that worshipers of Electric Wizard would envy if they knew what was good for them — is a bit part of the narrative of Visions in Bone, as is the ending of the band, neither should be considered without due thought to the level of execution across the album’s 48 minutes, “Beast” webbing its way into a creeper solo section around the halfway mark and building to a Candlemass-worthy crescendo before Birch returns and a final slowdown brings on “Vultures.”
Visions in Bone‘s structure is such that it works from longest to shortest in terms of track runtimes, but on two different wavelengths. Three longer tracks — “Beast” (14:03), “Kingdom” (11:14) and “Vanishing Sea” (10:12) — appear as the opener, centerpiece and closer, while two shorter ones — “Vultures” (8:40) and “Bleeding Sky” (4:21) — split them. Probably still fair to call “Vultures” extended, but particularly coming right after “Beast,” it feels like a marked shift in approach, is speedier and more raucous in its crash early on and the hypnotic wash of bleak psychedelia in its second half, to which Birch adds far-back chants even as Mills‘ last solo rounds out, bringing on the big-rock opening of “Kingdom,” soon giving way to a more swinging doom boogie that the band have rarely embraced.
It swings in the first half, but the song essentially breaks in two, a long sample setting up the foundation for another dark-psych build to start, but Heath‘s drums signal a change and a slower rumble begins as the vocals return and the band rides out the slower groove for the remaining two minutes, fading on feedback as the penultimate “Bleeding Sky” takes hold with a simple hi-hat march soon joined by guitar, bass and vocals.
One might expect “Bleeding Sky” to be more straightforward with its relatively abbreviated runtime, and that’s more or less how it works out, though The Wounded Kings never really depart from the dreary lurching mood regardless of tempo or structure. They end with “Vanishing Sea,” which announces the arrival of its first verse with a quick sample and a righteous roll, Birch once more obscure in the mix but unmistakably present. Layers of guitar surround, the bass and drums provide effective anchor and movement, and the band once more follow the construction of breaking around halfway through to set up a larger build, this time going deeper and closer to absolute silence before working their way back to that pivotal explosive moment of resurgence.
The last two-plus minutes of Visions in Bone are dedicated to an instrumental apex of multi-tiered soloing, rolling crash and rumbling low end. It’s as fitting an end to The Wounded Kings‘ swansong — if it is (never say never in rock and roll) — as anything one might script, since it underlines just how much they went from “project” to “band” during their time together and what a force they ultimately were by the end. In a crowded UK market for doom and other forms of underground heavy, The Wounded Kings never failed to distinguish themselves in their atmospherics, their tone and their craftsmanship, and it’s easy to imagine their records will continue to be discovered for years to come.
As a final edition to their catalog, Visions in Bone answers their earlier work in summarizing some of what’s always been best in their sound, but even more appropriately, it represents the band’s ethic never ceasing to progress from one release to another. 12 years seems like too few.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ll admit to being somewhat taken aback by this one, not the least because it seemed reasonable to think that if something was going to kill The Wounded Kings, it would’ve happened by now. The UK progressive doom outfit led by founding guitarist Steve Mills has been through multiple lineups at this point, so I can’t help but wonder just what the hell happened this time that was so different. They’re just weeks from the release of their fifth album, Visions in Bone, so even the timing on their disbanding feels odd. Needless to say, they’ll be missed.
During their time together, from the release of their 2008 debut, Embrace of the Narrow House, The Wounded Kings were a persistently, relentlessly creative force in doom. They toyed with cult rock convention and post-Electric Wizard psychedelic swirl, but always brought their influences into an individualized context. In that and in the atmospheric breadth of their records, they were thoroughly underappreciated. Each of their outings offered something distinct from the others — part of that is because of the lineup changes around Mills at the core — but while there were personnel shifts, there was never any dip in quality, and that extends to Visions in Bone as well, which will apparently be the capstone on their tenure.
Have to wonder what the future holds for Mills, vocalist George Birch, bassist Alex Kearney and drummer Myke Heath. When/if I hear of anything, I’ll let you know. Until then, here’s the announcement from the band:
R.I.P The Wounded Kings 2004 – 2016
By now you will have seen the earlier posts and in response to one comment sorry buddy…. no this is not a publicity stunt!
12 years is a pretty good innings for a band these days and there has been well documented instances when the journey could well have ended years ago. Sadly that day has finally arrived. We’ve had a wild ride with some truly amazing shows and met many awesome people along the way. Many of you have become great friends. For that we are truly grateful!
I’m sure many of you are thinking this is all rather sudden but to be honest it’s probably been 6 months in the making. We’ve tried to cling onto the sinking ship for as long as possible…too long if truth be told!. Little did we know that when we recorded ‘Visions in Bone’ a year ago (yes that fuckin’ long!!) it would end up being our Swan Song!
A massive thank you to everyone who has supported us, came to the shows, bought our merch, shared beers, gave us a place to sleep, made us food, did our posters…the list is endless. Most of all thank you to those who believed in us…without you none of this would ever have been possible.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
An official release date for The Wounded Kings‘ fifth album, Visions in Bone, has been long in the coming. The UK progressive doomers’ last offering was 2014’s Consolamentum (review here), and though two years is hardly a long stretch between a band’s fourth and fifth long-players, for The Wounded Kings, as ever, it’s brought some significant changes in the group. Rejoining founding guitarist Steve Mills is original vocalist George Birch, who was part of the initial duo lineup when the band got started. It’s been a wide circle to complete, but go figure they got there in the end.
Visions in Bonewill be a joint operation between Candlelight and Spinefarm, which bodes well in terms of it being heavy enough to require two labels to lift. Mills is always a great interview, so I think I might try to chase him down again and talk about the record sometime closer to the release on Aug. 26.
Till then, the PR wire:
THE WOUNDED KINGS To Release New Album Visions In Bone, August 26th Via Candlelight / Spinefarm Records
THE WOUNDED KINGS, doom metal warriors from the South West of England, are due to release their fifth full-length album, Visions In Bone, on August 26th via Candlelight / Spinefarm Records.
Visions In Bone was jointly produced and engineered by Chris Fielding and the band at Mwnci Studios in Wales and Skyhammer Studios in Cheshire, UK. The album swirls and flows with vintage tones and smoky vibes, with the themes of death, despair and redemption very much to the fore.
Formed in 2004, THE WOUNDED KINGS proudly uphold Britain’s occult heritage via a unique blend of spectral doom and psychedelic horror, creating a desolate, end-of-the-world vibe filled with suffocating heaviness.
The two-time Roadburn alumni are cherished by attendees and popular festival promoters alike, the latter citing them as, “British doom of staggering power”.
To date the quartet has released four full-length studio albums, plus a well received ‘split LP’ with American band, Cough.
Visions In Bone is a journey to the void… and beyond!
Posted in Features on January 25th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
If 135-plus releases sounds like a lot, you’re right, it is. I must be out of my god damn mind. To put it to scale though, last year, I did a feature every couple of months called the Quarterly Review that throughout the course of 2015 resulted in no fewer than 200 separate album writeups. 135 is a lot, but it’s not everything. It’s still January. It couldn’t possibly be everything.
The basic fact of the matter is there’s so much out there right now that anyone claiming to even hint at totality of coverage is either clueless or lying. I don’t come close to catching it all. I do the best I can to do as much as I can. I know you’ve heard this all before.
Over the last seven or eight months, I’ve been keeping track of albums, EPs, singles, etc., slated for 2016 release. Some of these are independent, some through labels, some names familiar, some names new. I’ve tried to mix it up as much as possible, and I reserve the right to add to the list over the next couple days anything anyone might suggest in the comments. Last year’s list turned out to be a resource I used throughout the entire time, so, fingers crossed, I’ll be doing the same this go around. Thanks in advance for your participation in making it more complete by leaving a comment.
Ordered Alphabetically by Artist
1. Alunah, TBA
The Birmingham doom-rollers seem to be on this list every year, but I have it on good authority — namely, Alunah posted about it on the social medias — that they’re writing and entering the studio with an eye toward a late-2016 release for the follow-up to their 2014’s excellent Awakening the Forest (review here), their third full-length and debut on Napalm Records. Alunah on Thee Facebooks, at Napalm Records.
Since their late-2015 reunion (announced here), Swedish trio Asteroid have been added to the lineup for Desertfest in Berlin and just this past week re-signed to Fuzzorama Records — which also released their last full-length, 2010’s II (review here) — for an upcoming release they’ve appropriately-enough dubbed III. Much more to come. Asteroid on Thee Facebooks, Fuzzorama Records.
4. Atavismo, TBA
Not much more to go on here than the band alluding to a forthcoming LP being put together, but frankly, I was so enthralled with the Spanish group’s late-2014 debut, Desintegración (review here), that that’s enough to make me excited at the prospect of a next installment from them. Keeping my hopes up it gets here before December. Atavismo on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
5. Banquet, Jupiter Rose
Picked up last fall by Heavy Psych Sounds as part of a torrent of signings from the label, San Francisco’s Banquet make their debut next month with Jupiter Rose, following their 2015 single, Run to You / Mother Road, which was released by Who Can You Trust? Records and boasts soulful West Coast heavy ’10s thrust. Banquet on Thee Facebooks, Heavy Psych Sounds.
6. Beelzefuzz, Beelzefuzz II: The Righteous Bloom
When I starting keeping notes for this list, this album was pegged as the debut from Beelzefuzz-offshoot Righteous Bloom, but word came down in December that band had reassumed its former moniker and that Beelzefuzz II: The Righteous Bloom would be issued in the early part of 2016 via The Church Within as the follow-up their 2013 self-titled debut (review here). Whatever name the progressive doomers release it under, I can’t wait to hear it. Beelzefuzz on Thee Facebooks, The Church Within Records.
7. Bellringer, TBA
There hasn’t been any sort of official announcement of a debut LP from the Mark Deutrom-led Bellringer, but over the course of the last year, the Austin-based former Melvins/Clown Alley bassist has unveiled a number of singles (posted here), and if he keeps it up long enough, he’ll get to an album one way or another. As a fan of creative weirdo heavy rock, I’m looking forward. Bellringer on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
8. Blaak Heat Shujaa, TBA
As of this past April, L.A. desert psych rockers Blaak Heat Shujaa (aka Blaak Heat) were in pre-production for their third full-length and second for Tee Pee Records behind 2013’s expansive The Edge of an Era (review here). The album may or may not be done, but whenever it arrives, it’ll do so with extra interest due to the inclusion of Tom Davis (ex-Nebula) on bass. Blaak Heat Shujaa on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.
9. Black Black Black, TBA
I feel like Brooklyn post-hardcore heavy rockers Black Black Black caught a bum rap because of their name, but the band’s blend of melody and intensity was not to be ignored on account of moniker or anything else. No solid release date yet, but last I heard, Aqualamb Records, which issued the artbook version of their 2012 self-titled debut (review here) would have a sophomore album released in similar style in the first half of this year. Black Black Black on Thee Facebooks, Aqualamb Records.
10. Black Cobra, Imperium Simulacra
You’ll note several records on this list have a release date of Feb. 26, and it would seem only fair to put Black Cobra‘s fifth outing and first for Season of Mist, Imperium Simulacra (review here), at the head of the bunch even if it didn’t wind up there by alphabetical happenstance. Not by any means the San Francisco duo’s rawest outing, but definitely their most stylistically expansive, and with plenty of their trademark destructive gallop to boot. One you probably don’t need me to tell you that you should hear. Black Cobra on Thee Facebooks, Season of Mist.
11. Black Cowgirl, TBA
Last time Pennsylvania heavy rockers Black Cowgirl were heard from, they said one simple thing: “2016.” That was October. Well, it’s 2016 now, and if we’re talking new releases, an LP from them would just about be their debut. Their 2012 self-titled (discussed here) on Kozmik Artifactz paired newer songs with material from their 2010 demo (discussed here), so a straight-up album feels due. Maybe this is the year. Black Cowgirl on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
12. Black Rainbows, Stellar Prophecy
If this one’s fresh in mind, that’s because it was just announced last week that Rome trio Black Rainbows would release their new album, Stellar Prophecy in April on Heavy Psych Sounds. It’s a quick turnaround for them from 2015’s Hawkdope (review here), but as that album was a marked step forward in their sound, I’m even more eager to hear where they go next. Black Rainbows on Thee Facebooks, Heavy Psych Sounds.
13. Black Shape of Nexus, Carrier
It’s an establish Spring release date for the new Black Shape of Nexus, whose brand of sludge crosses a threshold of thoughtfulness without falling into post-metal cliche. The German outfit’s last record, 2012’s Negative Black (streamed here), was plenty punishing, and I’d expect only creative progression on Carrier, though wouldn’t dare guess at the form in will take. Black Shape of Nexus on Thee Facebooks, Exile on Mainstream.
14. Blood Ceremony, Lord of Misrule
Toronto’s Blood Ceremony enter into their recently-announced fourth full-length, Lord of Misrule in something of a stately position. Since 2013’s The Eldritch Dark, their influence has only spread further across North America and beyond, so the question as the new LP makes its way out via Rise Above on March 25 is how they can stand out from the crowd formed at least partly in their wake. Blood Ceremony on Thee Facebooks, Rise Above Records.
15. Boris with Merzbow, Gensho
So you get your Boris record, then you get your Merzbow record, then you play both at the same time, and that’s your collaborative release. The intermittent pairings from Boris with Merzbow have always been unflinchingly creative and bold in their experimentalism, and going by the teaser posted last week, Gensho will be no different when it arrives March 18 on Relapse. Expect who the hell knows what. Boris on Thee Facebooks, Merzbow website, at Relapse Records.
16. Borracho, TBA
In mid-2015, Washington D.C.’s Borracho took part in a Ripple Music split with Geezer called The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter One (review here). A bolt title, but it found them continuing to refine their sound as a power trio following 2013’s sophomore LP, Oculus (review here). No solid word of something due as yet, but a recent update from the band said they’d be hitting the studio next month. Borracho on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
17. Brimstone Coven, Black Magic
Out this week on Metal Blade, Brimstone Coven‘s debut album follows a well-received self-titled EP compilation (track stream here) that came out last year, and should prove interesting to see how the West Virginian doomers have grown since that material was recorded in 2013, just a year after they formed. I can’t claim to have heard it yet, but it seems like one that the doom converted should be all over. Brimstone Coven on Thee Facebooks, at Metal Blade Records.
18. Causa Sui, Return to Sky
Danish heavy psych instrumentalists Causa Sui posted an album teaser late last week for Return to Sky, and though it only showcased two tracks, it showed their tonal warmth intact and their will to explore as vibrant as ever. To be released through their own El Paraiso Records, my only hope is they don’t get saddled with pressing delays in the Spring, because really, the sooner it gets here, the better off we’ll all be. Causa Sui on Thee Facebooks, El Paraiso Records.
19. La Chinga, Freewheelin’
An awaited follow-up and Small Stone debut brings Freewheelin’ (review here) from Vancouver heavy rockers La Chinga on March 20. The new album reignites the hard-driving, classic-minded methods of their 2013 self-titled (discussed here), but refines the songwriting as well to affect a more memorable impression. The beginning of a big return year for Small Stone. La Chinga on Thee Faceboks, Small Stone on Bandcamp.
20. Church of Misery, …And Then There Were None
Unquestionably one of the most anticipated albums of the year. And Then There Were None brings Church of Misery founder Tatsu Mikami to the US from his native Japan and finds him teamed up with members of Blood Farmers, Earthride and Repulsion in a completely revamped lineup from that which appeared on 2013’s Thy Kingdom Scum (review here). Rise Aboverecently announced a March 4 release. Church of Misery on Thee Facebooks, Rise Above Records.
21. Cities of Mars, TBA
Swedish trio Cities of Mars caught attention with the big riffs and steady swing of their debut single (review here), and announced back in October that they’d have a new EP out in March via Suicide Records. Still somewhat in their formative stages, they’ve presented a sci-fi thematic and it will be interesting to see if they stick with it or move toward something else. Cities of Mars on Thee Facebooks, Suicide Records.
22. Cloud Catcher, TBA
The progressive Denver newcomers are set to hit the studio in Spring to record their sophomore LP and the follow-up to 2015’s Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), so it might be summer or even fall by the time it gets issued, depending on timing of the recording, what label picks them up, etc., but it’s one to keep an eye out for anyway. They’ve shown a willingness to hit the road as well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did so again sometime after their Spring tour in Feb./March. Cloud Catcher on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
23. Comacozer, Astra Planeta
When Sydney trio Comacozer signed with HeadSpin Records last July, it was announced they’d be recording in October for a debut full-length to be titled Astra Planeta that would be due this Spring on the label. That process has been delayed somewhat, but there’s still no reason to think they can’t get the record out this year. Their 2015 EP, Deloun Sessions, found them pushing more into tense, moody atmospherics, and it was a shift that suited them well. Comacozer on Thee Facebooks, HeadSpin Records.
24. Conan, Revengeance
Out this week on Napalm Records, the third album from UK destroyers Conan, Revengeance (review here), finds the trio revamped around founding guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis, with longtime producer Chris Fielding adding a striking, effective counterpoint on bass and vocals and drummer Rich Lewis adding to the tectonic roll on drums. Happy to report, it still sounds like Conan, only perhaps even deadlier. Conan on Thee Facebooks, at Napalm Records.
25. Conclave, TBA
I don’t think Massachusetts four-piece Conclave — whose members trace their pedigree back to outfits like Warhorse and Grief — are ready to make the name of their full-length debut public yet, so I’m not going to say it, but I’ve heard the album and it’s full-on death-doom punishment that should bring a satisfied grin to even the most discerning of purists. Their debut EP, Breaking Ground (review here), was grim and brutal in kind, and the album only pushes further into the dark. Conclave on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
26. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA
Since the North Carolinian legends first announced they were reuniting with guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, the question has been whether or not a new album would surface. Last October, they signed to Nuclear Blast while on tour with Clutch and The Shrine (review here), and followed that tour with a headlining run in December. I expect we’ll hear from them a lot in 2016 as they record the first outing with this full four-piece since 2000, and that’s just fine by me. Corrosion of Conformity on Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast.
27. Cough, TBA
Richmond doomers Cough entered the studio last August to begin tracking their first full-length since 2010’s Ritual Abuse (review here). I haven’t seen any announcement as to when it will be released, but it was finished in September, and we’ll see if it winds up coming out through Relapse, which would be expected, or if part of the delay has been in finding it a new home. That’s sub-speculation, mind you. I’m figuring on release news any minute now. Will let you know how that goes.Cough on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.
28. Curse the Son, Isolator
I was very glad I got to see Connecticut’s Curse the Son this past fall (review here), both because I dig what they do and because it gave me a sneak peak at the songs that will show up on their new album, Isolator, when it surfaces in March via Snake Charmer Coalition. Expect big, tone-led vibes a la 2012’s Psychache (review here), but with some new edge thanks to the addition of bassist/backing vocalist Brendan Keefe alongside guitarist/vocalist Ron Vanacore and drummer Michael Petrucci. Curse the Son on Thee Facebooks, Snake Charmer Coalition.
29. Dali’s Llama, Dying in the Sun
Perpetually underrated CA desert rockers Dali’s Llama will release their new album, Dying in the Sun, early this year. I’m not precisely sure when, but sooner or later it will come out, and when it does, I have full faith it will be a stirring reminder of just how overlooked the band continues to be as they’re now well past their 20th anniversary. The upcoming full-length was mastered as of December, so look out for an update hopefully sooner than later. Dali’s Llama on Thee Facebooks, Dali’s Llama Records.
30. Darsombra, TBA
Drone/noise/visual two-piece Darsombra toured across the US in 2015 across 109 different cities. That is no easy feat, and I can’t even imagine how an experience like that might play into the writing from Brian Daniloski and Ann Everton on the band’s next full-length, which, when they finished the last leg of that massive and ambitious run, they said was in the works. I’d like to find out, though, as Darsombra continue to aspire to inner peace through cosmic noisemaking. Darsombra on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
31. Dead Feathers, Dead Feathers 10″
Expected out Feb. 19 via HeviSike Records, the self-titled debut EP from Chicago heavy psych rockers Dead Feathers has been subject to some considerable pressing delays. The band was signed last Spring initially for an Aug. 2015 release that has continued to be pushed back, presumably as a result of so much interest in pressing vinyl at the moment. Still, the tracks have been streaming for a while now, so anyone looking to quench their thirst can do so readily on their Bandcamp. Dead Feathers on Thee Facebooks, HeviSike Records.
32. Deadsmoke, Deadsmoke
As announced a couple weeks ago, Duna Jam veterans Deadsmoke will issue their self-titled debut via Heavy Psych Sounds on March 25. The Italian sludgers have plans to tour Europe in May as well, and should they happen to pop on a late-spring or summer festival or two along the way, I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised. Heavy Psych Sounds‘ spree continues. Deadsmoke on Thee Facebooks, Heavy Psych Sounds.
33. Deamon’s Child, Scherben Müssen Sein
The German title of Deamon’s Child‘s second album, Scherben Müssen Sein, translates to “shards must be.” I’m not sure what it means, but I am sure that the trio’s 2014 self-titled debut (review here) was an intriguing and offbeat brand of noise rock-plus, so I’ve no problem getting down with the idea of another outing from them, though given their breadth I wouldn’t necessarily expect the second LP to be a carbon copy of the first. Deamon’s Child on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
34. Deathkings, All that is Beautiful
Hailing from what I’ll assume is the darkest underbelly of Los Angeles, Deathkings issue their sophomore LP, All that is Beautiful, on March 18 as the follow-up to a 2015 split with Boston’s Rozamov (review here). I’ve got a track stream slated for this week from these guys, so I’ll save more for that, but suffice it to say that it’s surprising music so grueling can come from a place where it never rains. Deathkings on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
35. Devil to Pay, A Bend Through Space and Time
Indianapolis heavy rockers Devil to Pay and their label, Ripple Music, have set a tentative “Summer” release date for the band’s fifth album, A Bend Through Space and Time, but as the recently unveiled “Your Inner Lemmy” showcased, the songwriting that has long served as their chief appeal is ready to roll on the new collection. That song surfaced early as a timely tribute to Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, so it might be a while before more solid details come down the wire, but whenever it shows, it’ll be welcome. Devil to Pay on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.
36. Dream Death, Dissemination
A second post-reunion album is always a tricky prospect. A band wants to continue to acknowledge what they were when they started out, progress from their last outing, and get over that hump of songs that may or may not have been written years prior and onto something fresh. How will Pennsylvania’s Dream Death tackle this issue on their forthcoming Dissemination, due out March 4 via Rise Above? Probably by being heavy as hell and sounding completely fucking miserable. Just a guess. More info here. Dream Death on Thee Facebooks, Rise Above Records.
37. Droids Attack, Sci-Fi or Die
Another Feb. 26 release, Sci-Fi or Die, the fourth long-player from Madison, Wisconsin’s Droids Attack, has been in the works for at least the last three years. I’ll be hosting a full-stream of it sometime between now and the release (which I’m stoked for), so keep an eye out for that, but these guys have deserved more attention for a while now one way or another, and the follow-up to 2010’s Must Destroy! (review here) might be the record that gets it for them. Droids Attack on Thee Facebooks, Droids Attack website.
38. Drug Honkey, TBA
Various announcements have floated around over the last year and a half or more from Chicago death-churners Drug Honkey, and I’m not sure at this point whether their next release will be an EP of or a complete album or what. Their last full-length was 2012’s Ghost in the Fire (review here), which was inhumane in its onslaught, abrasive in loud or quiet parts, and swirled out an otherworldly sense of terror. So yeah, something to look forward to in a new one. Drug Honkey on Thee Facebooks, Transcending Obscurity on Bandcamp.
39. Duel, Fears of the Dead
In addition to boasting a cover that has immediately made my list of the year’s best, look for hard-driving heavy rock swing on Duel‘s debut LP, Fears of the Dead, due out Feb. 12 on Heavy Psych Sounds. The Austin, Texas, four-piece have newly announced European tour dates that will start March 9 and run through April 2, and I’ve little doubt their brash ways will find favor among the beer-soaked good-timers abroad. Over here, I’m just looking forward to hearing the album. Duel on Thee Facebooks, Heavy Psych Sounds.
40. Egypt, Endless Flight
We know it’s awesome. It was streamed here last month in its entirety. The real question with Egypt‘s sophomore outing is whether it’s a 2015 or a 2016 release. Vinyl’s still forthcoming last I heard, but the CD hit in December. What counts? For what it’s worth, I’m clearly thinking of it as a 2016 outing, but whatever format you might prefer, think of this as a note to remind you that you should check out. Because it’s awesome. We knew that. Egypt on Thee Facebooks, Egypt on Bandcamp.
41. Eight Bells, Landless
Out Feb. 12 on respected purveyor Battleground Records with tapes through Tartarus, Landless casts a severe and progressive glance at the scope of atmospheric heavy and offers an individualized take developed even from what the Portland, Oregon, trio brought to their 2013 debut, The Captain’s Daughter. Doom, black metal and a stately sort of psychedelia intertwine over the album’s span, and it seems all the more likely the band will turn heads with their approach on tour with Voivod (dates here) starting Feb. 6. Eight Bells on Thee Facebooks, Battleground Records.
42. Electric Citizen, Higher Time
Before Electric Citizen posted the new track “Evil” in a RidingEasy Records sampler last month, word on the street was the Ohio heavy ’10s rockers were looking to add a full-time keyboardist. That search doesn’t seem to have panned out, but their Higher Time is hotly anticipated anyway as the answer to their 2014 debut, Sateen (review here), which showed the Sabbath worshipers how Sabbath worship is done. Electric Citizen on Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.
43. Elephant Tree, TBA
Full disclosure: I know way more about Elephant Tree‘s upcoming Magnetic Eye Records debut LP than I’m putting in this post. Like that it rules. And why! Stick around. Later this week, I’ll have a track premiere from the album up with a review, but the follow-up to their 2014 debut EP, Theia (review here), has already made it into my best-of-2016 consideration and my best-debuts-of-2016 consideration, and I know it’s only January, but right now it’s the one to beat in the latter category. More to come. Elephant Tree on Thee Facebooks, Magnetic Eye Records.
44. Elevators to the Grateful Sky, Cape Yawn
Sicilian four-piece Elevators to the Grateful Sky signed to HeviSike Recordslast month, and while a March 11 release date for the band’s second album, Cape Yawn seems like a quick turnaround, until I hear otherwise it’s what I’m going with. The band released their debut, Cloud Eye, on Transubstans in 2013, but should fit well with HeviSike‘s growing and diverse roster, being growing and sonically diverse themselves. Elevators to the Grateful Sky on Thee Facebooks, HeviSike Records.
45. Faith in Jane, TBA
I have it on zero authority that Maryland heavy rockers Faith in Jane are working on a new release — I know they jammed with Wino earlier this month, and that’s cool — but having had the chance to see the trio play last September at Vultures of Volume II (review here), I’m including them on this list anyway just because they’re one to watch out for. Deep blues vibes roughing up some of the West Coast’s ’70s fetishizing; way heavy and way swinging. Not technical, but intricate, and thoroughly grooved. Lots of potential there.Faith in Jane on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
46. Fatso Jetson, TBA
They’re due, right? Sure, the last couple years have brought splits with Farflung (review here), Herba Mate (review here) and Yawning Man, but we’re coming up on six years since Archaic Volumes (review here) was released in 2010, and I’m dying to hear what a new Fatso Jetson album would sound like with Mario Lalli and son Dino, who’s joined the band in the interim, going head-to-head on guitar. Whenever it’s ready, so am I. Fatso Jetson on Thee Facebooks, Fatso Jetson website.
47. Fever Dog, TBA
Could be later in the hear, could be in 2017 that it shows up, but the next offering from Californian desert psych rockers Fever Dog is reportedly now in the writing stage, and given the effectiveness with which 2014’s Second Wind (review here) demonstrated their willingness to mess around with structure and sound alike, their third outing should find them at an important stage in their development. Still young and significantly underrated. Fever Dog on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
48. The Flying Eyes, Poison the Well / 1969 7″
It’s another year for me and you. Another year with nothin’ to do. Baltimore’s The Flying Eyes are covering The Stooges‘ “1969” (baby) on their new single from H42 Records, mashing it up with “Poison the Well” from their 2011 second album, Done so Wrong (review here). Might be a stopgap on the way to whatever’s next, but should be an interesting listen anyway. The Flying Eyes on Thee Facebooks, H42 Records.
49. Foehammer, TBA
Virginia soul-bashers Foehammer released my favorite EP of 2015 in the form of their Grimoire/Australopithecus self-titled (review here), and I’m eager to know how they’ll expand on the outright brutality of that offering over the course of a full-length, or if they will at all. Entirely possible they’ll just kill, kill, kill the whole way through, and that’s also something I’d like to see them pull off. Either way they go, count me in. Foehammer on Thee Facebooks, Grimoire Records, Australopithecus Records.
50. Fog Cult, The Dying Sun
Initially self-released by the band last year, The Dying Sun is the second full-length by Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, weedian rockers Fog Cult, and it’s set for a vinyl issue via Black Farm Records sometime this year. Not much fixing what isn’t broken about large-scale nod riffs and sludge vibing, but a track like “Altars of the Night” manages to evoke early Alice in Chains-type harmonies without falling into post-Creed cliche, and that in itself is something remarkable. Streaming in full now on their Bandcamp. Fog Cult on Thee Facebooks, Black Farm Records.
51. Foghound, The World Unseen
Might be May before it shows up, but The World Unseen will serve as Maryland heavy rockers Foghound‘s debut on Ripple Music. It’s their second offering behind 2013’s Quick, Dirty and High (review here) and a meaner, leaner take on their sound. The turns are tighter and the groove is more aggressive, but they still sound like they’re having a complete blast. More to come this Spring. Foghound on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.
52. Fuzz Evil, TBA
They’ll be playing the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta next month, which I’m proud to say I’ll be attending, and I hope to have a better picture of the debut album by Fuzz Evil‘s arrival date by the end of that if not before. The Arizona band, which shares brothers Wayne and Joseph Rudell with Powered Wig Machine, offered up a split with Chiefs in late 2014 (streamed here) and has piecemealed a track or two since, but the full-length was sent off to mastering in November, so it seems like it’s just a matter of time before it shows up. Fuzz Evil on Thee Facebooks, Fuzz Evil on Bandcamp.
53. John Garcia, TBA
Among the several Garcia-related releases that 2016 might have on offer — he appears no fewer than in three separate entries on this list — the former Kyuss, Slo Born, Unida, Vista Chino, Hermano, etc., vocalist has announced intentions toward a follow-up for his 2014 Napalm Records self-titled solo debut (review here) and an acoustic record, the second of which he reportedly began recording this month. The more the merrier, quite frankly. John Garcia on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
54. Geezer, TBA
According to The Obelisk’s deep-running investigative team — by which I mean I looked at their Thee Facebooks page — New York heavy blues trio Geezer are heading into the studio in a couple weeks to record their next full-length. In 2015, the band offered up the already-noted split with Borracho, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter One (review here), via Ripple Music, and they’ve set about refining their chemistry on-stage as they hone their fluid mix of languid vibes and smoked-out shuffle. Looking forward to this one. Geezer on Thee Facebooks, STB Records.
55. Goatess, Purgatory Under New Management
First announced here with a track stream in November, the second album from Chritus Linderson-fronted doomers Goatess, titled Purgatory Under New Management, is due out this March of Svart, which also released the Swedish outfit’s 2013 self-titled debut (review here). I haven’t heard much about it since that track stream, so it may or may not be pushed back, but whatever, I’m just glad they did a second record either way. It’ll be out when it’s out. Goatess on Thee Facebooks, Svart Records.
56. The Golden Grass, TBA
Bring on the good vibes. The sophomore LP from sweet ’70s-style rockers The Golden Grass will be the band’s first for Listenable Records after releasing their self-titled debut (review here) via Svart in 2014. They finished mixing earlier this month, so once it’s mastered it seems like it’s really up to the label’s schedule as to when it will be out. Spring or summer would be my guess, which suits the warmth of their harmonies just fine. The Golden Grass on Thee Facebooks, Listenable Records.
57. Gozu, Revival
After issuing two albums through Small Stone in 2010’s Locust Season (review here) and 2013’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here), Boston four-piece Gozu have aligned themselves to Ripple Music for the release of Revival, their LP overall. Recorded this past fall, it is easily the band’s tightest and most aggressive outing to-date, but their soulful, melodic core remains, and it is all the more identifiable as their own for that. More to come. Gozu on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.
58. Graves at Sea, TBA
I know I’ve used the phrase “More to come” several times already in this post — like right now, in the last entry — but while the full-length debut from reactivated West Coast sludge-doomers Graves at Sea was announced as being completed and ready for release by Relapseback in October, legitimately, more info on that prospect is coming up, so keep an eye out. That’s all I’m at liberty to say at the moment. I may have already said too much. Graves at Sea on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.
59. Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow
Oh fuck yes. How good is the new Greenleaf? So good. You know how 2014’s Trails and Passes (review here) kind of reset the band and gave a more stripped-down, stage-ready take? Rise Above the Meadow takes that, pushes it forward exponentially, adds some Dozer-style edge to the mix and presents it all with ferocious energy more common to bands on their second album rather than their sixth. Out Feb. 26. Will be a top 10 record in December, no question. Greenleaf on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
60. Heavy Temple, TBA
There have been many changes in Philadelphia trio Heavy Temple since they offered up their self-titled debut EP (review here), or at least a couple involving the lineup of the band. Either way, it’s a revamped trio that last summer discussed a second extended-player for 2016. So far as I know, record label is still to be determined so far as I know — the first EP came out on Ván, which is an immediate endorsement — but they’ve been gaining traction in Philly and they seem to have ambitions beyond that city’s limits, so I can’t imagine someone won’t get on board with it, if they haven’t yet. Heavy Temple on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
61. Hermano, TBA
In addition to taking part in Hellfest 2016 in Clisson, France, this June, Hermano have put out word of an impending full-length to be released at some point this year. The John Garcia-fronted outfit also featuring bassist Dandy Brown (who will also play the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta solo) last released an album in 2007, which was Into the Exam Room, a striking, mature, engaging heavy rocker that not only showcased Garcia‘s vocals in creative arrangements, but them memorable songs to top and a variety of moods in which to work. Even nine years later, that record was enough to make me look forward to a follow-up. John Garcia on Thee Facebooks, Borderland Fuzz Fiesta.
62. Hexvessel, When We are Death
Out this week as their first release for Century Media, Hexvessel‘s When We are Death pushes beyond the confines of psychedelic folk rock (not that there were so many, particularly as regards their prior output) and into more solidified rock territory, an edge of gothic theatricality making itself felt alongside a stylistically amorphous late-’60s cultistry that doesn’t want to be defined nearly so much as to enthrall. I’ll have a review up one of these days soon, but I feel like I’m still getting to know the record, and that may be a permanent condition. Hexvessel on Thee Facebooks, Century Media.
63. High Priest of Saturn, Son of Earth and Sky
Here is yet another of Feb. 26’s many releases. I haven’t heard it yet, but given the traditionalism of the Norwegian outfit’s first LP and the fact that there are only five tracks on Son of Earth and Sky, it seems fair to expect High Priest of Saturn are letting their material flesh out a bit on their sophomore offering through Svart. Announced just a couple weeks ago, it’s been in the can since 2014, so it may not be all that long before a follow-up makes an appearance as well. High Priest of Saturn on Thee Facebooks, Svart Records.
64. Hijo de la Tormenta, El Manto de la Especie
I dug Argentinian heavy psych trio Hijo de la Tormenta‘s 2014 self-titled debut (review here), and last year, they followed it up with a quick live two-songer called En Vivo en Buenos Aires that found their sound no less engaging on stage than on record. The upcoming El Manto de la Especie was recently announced here, and should hopefully be together and out sometime in the first half of this year. Hijo de la Tormenta on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
There’s been a buzz around the Pacific Northwest’s fertile ground over the last couple years for Portland, Oregon’s Holy Grove, and on March 18, the soul-rock four-piece will make their full-length debut via Heavy Psych Sounds. The only other release from them I know about to-date is 2014’s Live at Joonior’s (review here), a two-track sampler, so for a lot of listeners outside the band’s regional homebase, this will really be their first experience hearing them. Holy Grove on Thee Facebooks, Heavy Psych Sounds.
67. Holy Serpent, TBA
The hot tip is look for it in August on RidingEasy. Melbourne, Australia’s Holy Serpent shroom-doomed their self-titled debut (review here) last year, and they’ll be going for a fast turnaround on the follow-up in 2016. No audio, info or art or anything like that yet, but I’m told it’ll be late summer, so that’s what I’m going on. Holy Serpent on Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.
68. Inter Arma, TBA
So far, both Inter Arma and Relapse Records have been pretty tight-lipped on specifics when it comes to the Virginian genre-melders’ second LP for the label (third overall), but we know it was recorded by Mikey Allred, that it’s done and due out this summer, and that they’re starting their touring cycle for it even before it comes out. That’s not nothing. Given the laudatory response to 2014’s single-song EP The Cavern, I’d expect this one to get considerable attention both in the pre-release hype and the post-release exclamatory stages. Inter Arma on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.
69. Joy, Ride Along!
Announced just last week, Ride Along! will be West Coast jammers Joy‘s second album out through Tee Pee, following the psych spellcasting of 2014’s Under the Spell of… (review here). A few notable guests show up, but I’m looking for the band to distinguish themselves further this time around, find their niche within the post-Earthless sphere of instrumental Cali heavy. They showed some genuine personality on the last one, hope they keep it up. Out April 29. Joy on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.
70. King Dead, Woe and Judgment
Brooding atmospheres, a kind of post-metallic anxiety and moments of outright physical exertion are spread across Woe and Judgment (review here), the first LP from Pennsylvanian trio King Dead. The band released the album digitally last year on the sly in order to self-finance a vinyl pressing, and after succeeding in that endeavor, they’ll have the record out officially in April or thereabouts. King Dead on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
71. Lightsabres, TBA
Swedish one-man outfit Lightsabres began its association with HeviSike Records with a tape release for 2014’s sophomore album Spitting Blood (review here). The genre-spanning garage psych project linked up with STB for 2015’s Beheaded, but returns to HeviSike for the follow-up fourth long-player, which is due out March 4 with preorders starting this week. Lightsabres on Thee Facebooks, HeviSike Records.
72. The Linus Pauling Quartet, Ampalanche
Unlike most offerings on this list, Ampalanche by Texas noise rock weirdos the Linus Pauling Quartet is actually out now. Vincebus Eruptum released the vinyl on Jan. 15. It’ll be out digitally in April as well though, and there’s a big ol’ zip file on my desktop waiting to be reviewed — several, actually but bear with me — so sometime between now and then expect to hear more about the album, which is the band’s first full-length since 2012’s Bag of Hammers (review here), despite a slew of singles between. Linus Pauling Quartet on Thee Facebooks, Vincebus Eruptum Recordings.
73. Lo-Pan, TBA
I don’t know what Lo-Pan‘s secret plan is, but I know they were in the studio last week, so whether it’s a new album, a single, an EP, split or whatever, they’ve got something going. It would be a relatively quick turnaround from 2014’s Colossus (review here), but they’ve since added guitarist Adrian Zambrano (also Brujas del Sol) to the lineup, so a burst of creativity isn’t necessarily out of the question. Whatever they’re up to, they’ll be on the road as ever this year, touring with Black Cobra and Bongzilla this spring. Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
74. Lord, Awake
As of last September, chaotic Virginian five-piece Lord were mastering their Awake album with an eye on a 2016 release. I’ve been keeping a relatively close eye, and I haven’t heard anything about a meteor crashing into the final tapes (or hard drive) or anything, so I’m just going to assume and hope that it gets out this year. Lord‘s last full-length, Chief (review here), came out in 2011 and they also issued the Alive in Golgotha EP (review here) in 2014. Lord on Thee Faceboks, Heavy Hound Records.
75. Lord Fowl, TBA
More wishful thinking than nailed-down guarantee, perhaps, but Connecticut’s Lord Fowl are due to give an answer to their 2012 Small Stone debut and second album overall, Moon Queen (review here). Last I spoke to the band was the middle of last year and they were writing, but in October, they entered the studio to begin the recording process, so hopefully that means it’ll be out sooner than later. Lord Fowl on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
76. Low Flying Hawks, Kofuku
Not exactly out of nowhere — apparently out of Los Angeles, or somewhere thereabouts — but Low Flying Hawks‘ forthcoming Magnetic Eye debut, Kofuku, did seem to show up as a sudden blip on the radar. Notable for working with such Melvins-related characters as producer Toshi Kasai, drummer Dale Crover, and bassist Trevor Dunn, the band effectively blends moody post-rock atmospheres with weighted, hypnotic grunge, keeping things dark as seen in their recent video for “Ruins.” Low Flying Hawks on Thee Facebooks, Magnetic Eye Records.
77. Mantar, Ode to the Flame
I’ll admit to being somewhat surprised when Germany’s Mantar signed to Nuclear Blast late last year. Their sound is so raw, so unabashedly extreme in its intent on their 2014 debut, Death by Burning (review here) — which was released by Brutal Panda and Svart both — and something tells me that with a title like Ode to the Flame, their second LP won’t offer much letup in intensity, but having seen the band live (review here), they are unmistakably a force. Mantar on Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast Records.
78. Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul)
The third album from Bordeaux-based heavy psych rockers Mars Red Sky feels like a logical step forward from 2014’s Stranded in Arcadia (review here), but it is very definitely a step forward, in its atmospheric complexity, in the depths of its arrangements and the breadth of its tones. Songs like “Mindreader” and “Under the Hood” exemplify how much the band has progressed since their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), and though it comes preceded by the newly-released Providence EP (review here), that’s really just the beginning of the story about to be told. Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks, Listenable Records.
79. Merchant, Suzerain
Finished recording as of Jan. 11, Suzerain will serve as the debut full-length from aggro tone-bearers Merchant, who announced their coming with a 10-minute single called Seismic (review here). Their principal task will be to distinguish themselves from the pack of Melbourne’s crowded heavy underground, but I’m looking forward to finding out how they go about it and where their apparent potential will take them. Merchant on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
80. Merlin, Electric Children
Kansas City doom rockers Merlin gave a taste of Electric Children back in November with a track premiere for “Bad Trip” and the album itself will see release on March 11 through 4One8 Records on CD. Vinyl will be through Poisoned Mind, who also issued the band’s Christkiller LP (review here) in 2014. To say they have a flair for the dramatic might be understating it, but Merlin do well to keep a reliable core of songwriting underneath. Merlin on Thee Facebooks, 4One8 Records, Poisoned Mind Records.
81. Mondo Drag, The Occultation of Light
Ready for release on — you guessed it — Feb. 26, The Occultation of Light is the third full-length from psych-prog traditionalists Mondo Drag, second via RidingEasy, and it gives a more updated take on their sound than did last year’s self-titled (review here), which was recorded in 2012 with a different lineup. They seem poised to really establish themselves with this record, which was announced in November, and from where I sit, the record is strong enough to do it. Mondo Drag on Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.
82. Mondo Generator, TBA
Nick Oliveri oversaw some lineup changes last fall for Mondo Generator, but to go with that and their European tour, it was announced that the band was working — as a trio now — on their fifth full-length for an eventual 2016 release. That’s not to say it’s showing up tomorrow, but if they were writing in the fall, it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility that they could have something out before the year is done. Oliveri‘s last release was the 2014 solo album, Leave Me Alone (streamed here). Mondo Generator on Thee Facebooks, Mondo Generator webstore.
83. Monkey3, TBA
For Swiss instrumentalists Monkey3‘s Nov. 2015 European tour, the band specifically noted they would be playing out new material as a “preview.” I don’t know if that means their next album is recorded or if they were trying stuff out on stage before they went into the studio, but, now signed to Napalm, the band will hopefully in 2016 have a follow-up out for 2013’s The 5th Sun, which was their fourth long-player. Monkey3 on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
84. Monobrow, TBA
Last time Ottawa’s Monobrow mentioned their new LP was Nov. 24. They said, “new album slowly coming together.” So there you go. They reportedly took more time after a Dec. 5 show with Public Animal to work on it, but there’s been no solid word of a release date or even recording date as yet. It’s in progress. Their 2015 single, A Handwritten Letter from the Moon (review here), presented a less bombastic feel than, say, 2014’s Big Sky, Black Horse (review here). We’ll see which impulse ultimately wins out in their sound. Monobrow on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
85. Mos Generator, TBA
Among the safest bets one might place this year is that Washington’s Mos Generator will release something, but the band, led of course by workaholic guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed, premiered an acoustic take on Easy Evil” back in September that was to be included on an unplugged release through H42 Records, and their last album, Electric Mountain Majesty (review here), came out in 2014, so I wouldn’t be surprised if in addition to continuing to road-dog across the US and likely beyond, they didn’t also find time to punch out a new studio LP. Mos Generator on Thee Facebooks, Listenable Records.
86. Mothership, Live over Freak Valley
True, Mothership released Live over Freak Valley on Jan. 15. You got me. The reason I’ve still got them on this list, however, is because I’m wondering if the Texas heavy rockers might keep the momentum they’ve got on their side after their recent tour with C.O.C., Saviours and Brant Bjork going by jumping back in the studio and belting out a follow-up to 2014’s Mothership II (review here). Even if it’s later in the year, crazier things have happened. Mothership on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.
87. Mountain God, TBA
Early last year, bleak Brooklyn atmosludge extremists Mountain God offered their single-song EP, Forest of the Lost (review here), which followed their prior 2013 demo tape, Experimentation on the Unwilling (review here). They’ve been writing all the while, and it seems likely they’ll manage a release of some sort this year as well. Whether that’s their debut full-length, which I’m hoping creeps as much as it shrieks — or at least a little — or something else, I don’t know. Mountain God on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Sold out in numerous CD and cassette editions following its release in April, the live-recorded self-titled debut from Greek heavy psych rockers Naxatras continued to earn praise throughout the rest of last year. The Thessaloniki-based trio will reportedly release a single as a 10″ before their second long-player surfaces, but both have been recorded and seem like they’re ready to roll out as soon as they’re pressed. I wouldn’t mind if they did a CD re-press of the first album either, but no word on that as of yet. Naxatras on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
90. Neurosis, TBA
It’s done, it’s in the can, it’s mastered, and it pains me that a new Neurosis album exists somewhere on this planet and I haven’t heard it yet. It’s a downright tragedy. The post-metal progenitors also recently announced a deluxe anniversary boxed set of all their albums to-date (not including the new one) called Strength and Vision, but as ever, their eyes are forward even as they’re celebrating their 30 years as a band. But seriously, if I don’t hear that record soon, I’m gonna cry. Actual tears. Neurosis on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.
91. Om, TBA
The Al Cisneros-led trio Om were recently in the studio, and while I can’t say for certain it was for a new album to follow-up 2012’s brilliant Advaitic Songs (review here), I sure as hell hope so. Om are another band who were on last year’s list too, so take this for what it is, but I think it’s safe to say Advaitic Songs is one of the strongest albums of the decade so far, and a subsequent outing feels due. Om on Thee Facebooks, Drag City.
92. Oranssi Pazuzu, Värähtelijä
Effective, trance-inducing psychedelic black metal isn’t easily done, and when someone does it as well as Oranssi Pazuzu on Värähtelijä or as Deathspell Omega on Fas – Ite Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum, it tends to get noticed by a very specific subset of the heavy metal literati. No doubt the same has been and will continue to be the case for the Finnish blackened hypnotists leading up to the Feb. 26 Svart/20 Buck Spin release of Värähtelijä, their fourth album, but the hype is legitimate, and the record crosses vast expanses over the course of an encompassing 69 minutes. Sometimes it’s hard to argue with consensus. Oranssi Pazuzu on Thee Facebooks, 20 Buck Spin, Svart Records.
93. Pale Divine, TBA
Pennsylvanian doomers Pale Divine take their time. Nothing wrong with that, and anyway, it’s only been four years since their last album, Painted Windows Black (review here), came out a full five after 2007’s Cemetery Earth, so, you know, no rush. In 2016, however, they’re coming closer to marking 20 years since the release of their first demo, 1997’s Crimson Tears, which in many ways established the course of their sound, so if a new full-length were to happen this or next year, it would seem only appropriate. Would also be their first since adding Ron McGinnis (Admiral Browning, Bailjack, etc.) on bass several years ago now. Pale Divine on Thee Facebooks, Shadow Kingdom Records.
94. Picaporters, TBA
Buenos Aires-based trio Picaporters posted a new track called “War is Over” on their Bandcamp a while back that will feature on their upcoming album, which is listed on that page as being released on Aug. 1, 2016. Last I heard it was due to be ready in January, so I’m not actually sure when the follow-up to their 2013 debut, Elefantes (review here), will actually be out, but the doomers have leaked a couple songs from it at this point and it sounds right on. Best I can say is keep an eye out. Picaporters on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
95. Iggy Pop, Post Pop Depression
The immortal badassery of Iggy Pop notwithstanding, his Post Pop Depression probably wouldn’t be in this site’s field of vision were it not for the involvement of Queens of the Stone Age frontman Joshua Homme as guitarist and songwriting collaborator. Announced to much fanfare on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as being released March 18, the record is intended as a sequel to the Pop/David Bowie collaboration Lust for Life, and since Homme does a pretty mean Bowie I’m sure it’ll be just fine. I thought it was hilarious that the first song released from the album was called “Gardenia.” Iggy Pop website, Queens of the Stone Age on Thee Facebooks.
96. Psychedelic Witchcraft, The Vision
Though they’re still in the process as well of overseeing reissues of their 2015 Black Magic Man EP (review here) — the latest is vinyl through Taxi Driver Records with a bonus Sam Gopal cover that follows a CD through Twin Earth Records — Italian cult rockers Psychedelic Witchcraft have signed to Soulseller Records for the release of their debut long-player, The Vision. It’s due in Spring and can be reasonably expected to generate much fanfare, at least if the response to the prior EP is anything to go by. Psychedelic Witchcraft on Thee Facebooks, Soulseller Records.
97. Radio Moscow, TBA Live Album
Freshly returned from a South American tour, Radio Moscow will head to Australia for a run next month with Kings Destroy and Holy Serpent before they get around to issuing the double-live album they recorded last month in Los Angeles. And then after that, they’ll probably go tour somewhere else, because that’s how they do. The live record arrives at a particularly choice moment, though, since the material from their fourth LP, 2014’s Magical Dirt (review here) translates particularly well to the stage. Also they’re one of the best live bands in the world. That helps too. Radio Moscow on Thee Facebooks, Alive Naturalsound.
98. Red Fang, TBA
I’m twofold intrigued at the recently-announced prospect of Red Fang‘s fourth full-length. Maybe even threefold. First, automatic interest on the basis of their prior work. They’ve certainly earned that. Second, though it would be a mistake to call 2013’s Whales and Leeches (review here) anything other than a marked success, it was put together in a hurry and it sounded like it, so I’m wondering if they’ll be able to stretch out this process more. Third, it’s Ross Robinson producing, and given the commercial breadth of his work across genres, I’m eager to hear what he brings to a genuine heavy rock band. Could be a whole new take on the sound, one way or another. Red Fang on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.
99. Rozamov, TBA
Now veterans of Psycho California and tours across the US, having opened for Slayer in their hometown and spread their darkened gospel along the Eastern Seaboard, don’t you think it’s time Boston’s Rozamov put out an album? I know I do. I was in the studio with them for a check-in last August, and what I heard in progress sounded utterly punishing as a follow-up to their split with Deathkings (review here), and that holds true on the five tracks of the finished product as well, but it’s high time it came out. Side note, they recently announced the arrival of new drummer Tranxidis. Pretty sure that’s more recent than the recording though. Rozamov on Thee Facebooks, Rozamov on Bandcamp.
100. Salem’s Pot, TBA
Bizarro riff worshipers Salem’s Pot will have a new full-length out, reportedly, in June 2016. It will be their sophomore LP behind 2014’s …Lurar ut dig på prärien (discussed here), which garnered praise for its atmosphere and riff-rolling methods alike, stoner for stoners and all that. I was fortunate enough to catch the band’s set last year at Roadburn (review here), and they offered thrills in bulk, unabashedly basking in pill-popper groove but keeping a spirit of underlying violence in the material as well, as much drug as droog. A new 7″ titled The Vampire Strikes Back is also due Feb. 15. Salem’s Pot on Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.
101. Samavayo, TBA
Not certain of the timing on the new full-length from Samavayo, who will also play Desertfest Berlin this April, but their 2015 Setalight Records split 10″ with The Grand Astoria (review here) was much-dug around these parts and efficiently presented a diverse take from the Berlin natives, between instrumental stretch-out and more traditional hooks and structure. Their last full-length, Soul Invictus, came out in 2012 as the third in a series of three albums each year (it was their fourth overall), so maybe they needed to catch their breath. Samavayo on Thee Facebooks, Setalight Records.
102. Serpents of Secrecy, TBA
This West Virginia/Virginia/Maryland collaboration between former members of Sixty Watt Shaman — drummer Chuck Dukehart and bassist Rev. Jim Forrester (both also of Foghound) — and King Giant guitarist Todd Ingram did right last summer in picking Ontario-based vocalist Al “Yeti” Bones as the singer for their debut record. Maybe not so much geographically, but no question Bones (formerly of Mister Bones and The Mighty Nimbus) has all the burl their riffs could ask for, and I haven’t heard the album yet, but I’m sure they’re asking for plenty. Serpents of Secrecy on Thee Facebooks, their website.
103. Sinister Haze, Laid Low in the Dust of Death
After issuing their Betrayed by Time EP (review here) via Heavy Slab Records last year, Virginian doombringers Sinister Haze have signed on with STB to issue their debut full-length, Laid Low in the Dust of Death. The trio played Psycho California this May, touring out and back, and also had a two-song self-titled cassette out in 2015 that they took with them on the road, but no word as to whether any of that material will make it onto the album. In fact, no word on if the album is an album. I’m just kind of going by what STB says they have coming up in the next few months. Presumably more info will surface before the release arrives. Sinister Haze on Thee Facebooks, STB Records.
104. -(16)-, TBA
Blunt as ever, Los Angeles/San Diego sludge metallers -(16)- pulled no punches on Dec. 31 when they rang in the New Year by saying, “We will be releasing a new album in 2016.” They finished recording in December, and I’m relatively sure that whatever the new album is called, it’ll be released by Relapse — using the logic of, if you were the label, why wouldn’t you want to put out a new -(16)- album? — but other than that, there’s no info. They said it’s coming this year. Seems like they’d be the ones to know. -(16)- on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.
105. Skuggsjá, A Piece for Mind and Mirror
If you know, then you know. I was pleasantly surprised that the Skuggsjá collaboration between Enslaved‘s Ivar Bjørnson and Wardruna‘s Einar Selvik was doing anything at all, let alone putting out a studio release of their commissioned work for the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution. A Piece for Mind and Mirror was recently given a March 11 release date through Season of Mist, and while it may be a few who latch on to the combined vision of Bjørnson and Selvik, that’s going to be a lucky few indeed. Skuggsjá on Thee Facebooks, Season of Mist.
106. Slabdragger, Rise of the Dawncrusher
If I’m not mistaken — and to be sure, I probably am — this is the last release on this list coming out on Feb. 26. Slabdragger‘s sophomore LP, Rise of the Dawncrusher is being delivered via Holy Roar, and it comes some six years after their debut, Regress. I remember being at Desertfest in London circa 2012-2013 and hearing people talk up Slabdragger as having significant boot-to-ass potential. Listening to Rise of the Dawncrusher, it’s pretty easy to hear what might’ve given them that impression. Slabdragger on Thee Facebooks, Holy Roar Records.
107. Slomatics, TBA
Yes. Bring on new Slomatics. The sooner the better, the louder the better. The riff-bashing Belfast trio signed to Jon Davis of Conan‘s Black Bow Recordslast November, and quickly set about reissuing their first two albums, 2005’s Flooding the Weir and 2007’s Kalceanna, and that’s super, but as someone who caught on relatively late to the glories of the band’s 2014 album, Estron (review here), there’s no way I’m letting the next one get by me. Slomatics on Thee Facebooks, Black Bow Records.
108. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
Stockholm heavy rockers Snowy Dunes left a resonant impression with their 2015 self-titled debut, and on Jan. 13, they unveiled a completely improvised 19-minute track called “Atlantis, Part I” digitally as a precursor to their second LP, Atlantis, which is reportedly set to release next month as they head out on tour with countrymen riffers Skraeckoedlan. The extended piece is impressive in building on the boogie rock of the debut, but how much its atmosphere will ultimately play into the record itself remains to be seen. In any case, a good band who don’t seem like they’ll be under the radar of Europe’s heavy rock scene for much longer. Snowy Dunes on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
109. Soon, Vol. I
I’ll readily admit my ignorance when it comes to indie rock, so I haven’t heard of The Love Language, Bitter Resolve or Grohg, which are the bands from whose lineups the ungooglable Soon draw, but after checking out a couple demos when the March 4 release of Vol. Iwas announced, I dug the sound anyway. Someone else might have a completely different context for hearing it, but to me it just sounds like interesting, wide-ranging excursions into sonic heft. It’s pretty rare something like that isn’t going to find welcome, as far as I’m concerned. Soon on Thee Facebooks, Temple of Torturous.
110. Spidergawd, III
For the last two years, Norwegian four-piece Spidergawd have been churning out high-grade heavy rock and roll with a vitality that few could come close to matching. 2015’s Spidergawd II (review here) fleshed out elements of psychedelia from their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), and with Spidergawd III, the approach continues to be refined and honed to an even finer point on hooks like “El Corason del Sol” and “The Funeral.” Reportedly out now, so go get it. Spidergawd on Thee Facebooks, Stickman Records, Crispin Glover Records.
111. Spirit Caravan, TBA
By now I’m sure they’ve played “Be the Night” (live video here) at more than just the Vultures of Volume II fest, which was where I saw it, but either way, the first new material from a reunited Spirit Caravan — also kind of a The Obsessed hybrid with Ed Gulli on drums — reignites the collaboration between bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman and guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, who since they got back together in 2014 have been reminding audiences of just how vital that one-two punch of tone is to what heavy rock has become over the last decade and a half, in Maryland and beyond. Hope they get a record together, hope it gets out in 2016. Spirit Caravan on Thee Facebooks, Tone Deaf Touring.
112. Spiritual Beggars, Sunrise to Sundown
Back to business for Swedish heavy rockers Spiritual Beggars. The Michael Amott-led troupe recently revealed that they will offer their ninth long-player, Sunrise to Sundown on March 18 (March 25 North America) through InsideOut Music. Turns out they’ll also have a 7″ out concurrently via H42 Records, and they’re set to tour in Europe beginning the week after the album comes out, hitting Desertfest Berlin and more. This will be their third album with vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, but for me, the band is even more about the blend of Amott‘s guitar and the keys of Per Wiberg (ex-Opeth, Candlemass). Doesn’t get much more classic than that. Spiritual Beggars on Thee Facebooks, InsideOut Music.
113. Stone Machine Electric, TBA
The recently-released jammer EP, The Amazing Terror (review here), was intended as a precursor to the next full-length from Stone Machine Electric, which is reportedly now in the process of being recorded. On Jan. 11, they also asked their audience if they’d get behind a crowdfunding campaign to support a vinyl release, so it might be a while before the album actually shows up, but given the response they received, it seems fair to expect a pressing on wax. Stone Machine Electric on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
114. Suma, The Order of Things
2016 makes it 15 years since Swedish aural devastators Suma got their start, and it’s been six years since their last album, Ashes, was released, but that album continues to gain a following, having been snagged for a re-release on Argonauta Records just a couple weeks ago. The Malmö four-piece were on the US West Coast this month to record The Order of Things with the venerable Billy Anderson — who also helmed Ashes and 2006’s Let the Churches Burn — and they managed to sneak in a couple shows playing with, among others, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth. Now that is a fucking bill. Suma on Thee Facebooks, Suma on Bandcamp.
115. Summoner, TBA
Been a quick three years since Boston neo-prog heavy riffers Summoner released their second album, Atlantian (discussed here), and pushed ahead of the already sprawling, richly arranged approach of their 2012 debut, Phoenix. Well, I saw the band last month, and I’m happy to report they haven’t fallen apart or anything in the interim. I have it on good authority — by which I mean they told me — that they’ll be recording later this year, and while that may or may not mean a 2017 release, I thought it better to serve early notice of their impending third LP. So heads up on that. Summoner on Thee Facebooks, Magnetic Eye Records.
116. Sunnata, Zorya
Announced just after the New Year for an April arrival, Zorya will serve as the second album from Warsaw-based Sunnata, who delivered their debut in 2014 with Climbing the Colossus. I haven’t heard it yet, but the band effectively blended heavy rock groove with progressive ideals on the first outing, and I see no reason to expect anything but a step forward along the same lines this time around. I’ll take it. Sunnata on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Sometimes it’s too easy to be greedy. Since getting back together at the start of the decade, Swans have released three albums — 2010’s My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky (review here), 2012’s The Seer and 2014’s To be Kind (review here) — as well as older LP reissues, limited-edition live recording, and so on. They’ve toured the world over and have a fourth post-reunion album due out this year, but even so, when Michael Gira said last summer that the next Swans would be the last Swans for the time being — he didn’t even say forever — it was hard not to feel sad. Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think. Swans on Thee Facebooks, Young God Records.
119. Teacher, TBA
It took Seattle duo Teacher about 49 seconds to get me interested in hearing their forthcoming debut LP. Really less than that, because by the time the vocals kicked in on the recently-posted teaser clip, I was already on board. Whenever it comes out, the album will be released by Devil’s Child Records, which is quickly making a name for itself in the Pacific Northwest with offerings by Mos Generator/Sower and Year of the Cobra. No release date yet, but it sounds like the band are sneaking into a niche of natural, unpretentious swing, and I hope that’s exactly how the record goes. Teacher on Thee Facebooks, Devil’s Child Records.
120. Ulver, ATGCLVLSSCAP
Ulver‘s good-luck-making-a-word-of-this-acronym new album ATGCLVLSSCAP came out last week. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t one of 2016’s most anticipated. Really, anytime this Norwegian post-genre leviathan breathes, it’s an event, and as ATGCLVLSSCAP draws on live-recorded improvisations and explorations, but I’m not sure it’s proper to call it a live record in the is-everybody-having-a-good-time-tonight sense of the phrase. Info is plentiful and descriptive, but vague on the actual nuts and bolts of the makings, and that’s likely not an accident. Mystery is part of the fun. Is everybody having a good time tonight? Ulver on Thee Facebooks, House of Mythology Records.
121. Uzala, TBA
I know, I know. Uzala just put out Live at Roadburn MMXV (review here). Hell, I know that. And that vinyl is reportedly coming soon, but I’ve got the Boise trio on this list because I’m holding out for a studio follow-up to 2013’s Tales of Blood and Fire. I’m not saying it has to happen immediately, or really at all. I’m just saying I’d greatly prefer it if it did. That last album still gets fairly regular plays around here, so it only seems reasonable to call it haunting, and the live record had two new songs on it, so maybe there’s more in progress. Uzala on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
122. VA, Brown Acid: The Second Trip
How could RidingEasy Records not do a second Brown Acid compilation of lost heavy ’70s freakout and heavy singles, how could they not call it Brown Acid: The Second Trip, and how could they not release it on April 20? The whole thing seems so inevitable it’s astounding. Look for forgotten cuts by Sonny Hugg, Buck, Glass Sun, Ash, the awesomely-monikered Iron Knowledge and a whole host of others you can pretend you knew about beforehand. RidingEasy Records website, on Thee Facebooks.
123. Venomous Maximus, TBA
Like several others on this list, Texas’ Venomous Maximus will take part in the Obelisk-presented Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 at SXSW (info here). They’re no strangers to awesome bills, having toured this past fall alongside High on Fire to support the release of their second album, Firewalker (review here), which was released on Shadow Kingdom. Looking back on my notes, I’m not sure where I heard they had a new release in the offing, but it would be awesome to see them recapture the momentum they had coming out of their first album, 2012’s raging Beg upon the Light (review here), and a quick turnaround certainly wouldn’t hurt that. Venomous Maximus on Thee Facebooks, Shadow Kingdom Records.
124. Vista Chino, TBA
Maybe most of all the entries posted today, this one is wishful thinking. I saw a couple months back that Vista Chino — the John Garcia and Brant Bjork post-Kyuss Lives! incarnation that wound up with Mike Dean of C.O.C. on bass in a lineup rounded out by guitarist Bruno Fevery — were confirmed for Hellfest in France this summer, and couldn’t help but think about the possibility of a follow-up to their 2013 debut, Peace (review here). Doesn’t seem likely with everyone working on their respective projects, but I’m still hoping those guys get back in the studio someday. Cool they’re playing out at all, if nothing else. Vista Chino on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
125. Vodun, Possession
Preorders are up now for the debut album from London ritual-psych purveyors Vodun, and the Possession vinyl will also mark the first physical offering from Riff Rock Records, the new label spearheaded by Groan bassist Leigh Jones. Clearly someone who knows how to make an entry, Jones brought Vodun on board and issued a digital single last year for “Minos Army” (video here), the band tearing through influences in the metallic, heavy, Afrobeat, psychedelic and beyond. I haven’t heard the full-length yet, but it’s out March 25 and I feel safe guaranteeing that nothing else in 2016 will sound quite like it. Vodun on Thee Facebooks, Riff Rock Records.
German trio-turned-foursome Wight make a bold shift with their upcoming third full-length, Love is Not Only What You Know, digging deep into full-on psychedelic funk on tracks like “Kelele,” “The Love for Life Leads to Reincarnation,” and the opener “Helicopter Mama,” which came out last year as a 7″ single (review here) to herald the change in direction from their jammy 2012 LP, Through the Woods into Deep Water (review here). It’s a fine line to walk, but Wight do right by dancing all over it instead. They’ve also got a limited tape, Live in Athens, due March 7, on which a good portion of the new album is played. Wight on Thee Facebooks, Wight on Bandcamp.
128. Witchskull, The Vast Electric Dark
Word came out last month that Canberra three-piece Witchskull had inked a deal with STB Records. The Aussie band check in with a particularly classically metallic take on heavy rock and doom, as evidenced by their 2015 debut full-length, The Vast Electric Dark, which will serve as their debut vinyl on the NJ-based imprint. Haven’t heard a solid release date for it yet, but “early 2016” was the ballpark figure given, so I guess anytime between now and summer would be a possibility. Witchskull on Thee Facebooks, STB Records.
129. Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh
If Wo Fat‘s Midnight Cometh is not near the top of your most wanted list, you are fucking up. Unless you’re going alphabetically with your list, as I am with mine, in which case their position at #129 makes sense. In whatever organizational method, the coming sixth long-player from these Texan fuzz forerunners deserves the utmost consideration. Their first for Ripple Music after two on Small Stone (info here), Midnight Cometh boasts all the riffy jamming and heavy grooves we’ve come to love from the three-piece, but refines the vocal approach markedly, giving the band even more of a sense of command of the material. Sure to be a highlight of the year. Expect it this summer. Wo Fat on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.
130. Worm Ouroboros, TBA
Sorry to say I missed out completely on Worm Ouroboros‘ second album, Come the Thaw, when it was released by Profound Lore in 2012. I’d dug their 2010 self-titled debut (review here), but the next one, yeah, just kind of got by me. Never too late, you might say, and I’d have to agree. Maybe I can sneak in a purchase before the band are finished in the studio for their third record, which they were set to begin recording this month. In any case, will do my best to see that the same doesn’t happen with the new LP as happened with the last one. Hence putting them on this list. What, you thought it was for you? Worm Ouroboros on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.
131. The Wounded Kings, Visions in Bone
Always fascinating, always changing, UK progressive doomers The Wounded Kings have managed to deliver high-quality material seemingly no matter who is in the lineup. For the forthcoming Visions in Bone, founding guitarist Steve Mills reunites with former/founding vocalist George Birch, who hasn’t been in the band since their 2010 second album, The Shadow over Atlantis (review here). Haven’t seen an official release date yet, but they’re touring in March to support the record, so one might reason a Spring arrival. Not saying I’ve heard it, but the record kills. The Wounded Kings on Thee Facebooks, Candlelight Records.
132. Wretch, TBA
By the last update, The Gates of Slumber offshoot Wretch were starting to record their debut album in December. I don’t know whether that was a long-term process or a couple days in and out of the studio, but I’m betting that at some point in 2016 we’ll find out. Having had the opportunity to see the Indianapolis trio last fall at Vultures of Volume II (review here), I’m glad to report that the ultra-downer vibes that pervaded The Gates of Slumber’s final album, 2011’s The Wretch (review here), have found a new home and that frontman Karl Simon seemed as soulfully, Sabbathly miserable as ever. Wretch on Thee Facebooks.
133. Yawning Man, Live at Maximum Fest
The last couple years of these lists have featured Yawning Man, more specifically the perpetually-in-the-making next studio offering, Gravity is Good for You, but as that may or may not get out this year, it seemed fair to include them for the Go Down Records live outing, Live at Maximum Fest anyway. Put up for preorder in Nov., it was recorded back in 2013 and features the founding lineup of guitarist Gary Arce, bassist Mario Lalli and drummer Alfredo Hernandez; an allstar roster of desert rockers if ever there was one. Yawning Man on Thee Facebooks, Go Down Records.
134. Year of the Cobra, TBA
Somehow, I think it probably won’t be out until later in the year, but if you caught onto Seattle duo Year of the Cobra‘s 2015 EP, The Black Sun (review here) when it was released by Devil’s Child or DHU Records, then you’re probably already hip to the fact that the follow-up LP will be released by STB Records and is set to be recorded by a certain legendary West Coast producer of heavy who used to be based in the Bay Area but has since set up shop in Portland, Oregon. Not naming names or anything, but as you already know, it should rule. Year of the Cobra on Thee Facebooks, STB Records.
135. Young Hunter, TBA
I have been dying to hear the next full-length from Portland-by-way-of-Arizona mood rockers Young Hunter since long before I hosted the premiere of the track “Nothing Shakes the Void” (posted here) back in Oct., and I’m going to continue to be dying to hear it until I actually do, so there. Very, very much looking forward to it, hoping the stars align and whatever else needs to happen happens so it can get out in the early part of the year. We’ll see how it pans out, but last I heard they beat their crowdfunding goal to press it, so something should show up from that. Not soon enough, in any case. Young Hunter on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
136. Zaum, TBA
The mystical, Eastern-influenced doom trafficked longform by Canadian outfit Zaum has offered immersive vibes across the band’s debut LP, 2014’s Oracles (review here), and their 2015 split with Shooting Guns (review here) and that’s enough to make me look forward to their second album without reservations. The New Brunswick duo started out with a firm idea of what they wanted their sound to do, and I’m hoping they continue to follow that vision where it takes them on the next offering. Summer release expected. Zaum on Thee Facebooks, I Hate Records.
137. Zun, Burial Sunrise
First made public three years ago via the track “Come Through the Water” (posted here), which will also appear on the album, Zun began as a collaboration between guitarist Gary Arce of Yawning Man and vocalist Sera Timms of Ides of Gemini, the album Burial Sunrise also brings in John Garcia as a lead vocal contributor, Mario Lalli, Harper Hug and a host of others (detailed here) for an atmosphere of subdued desert rock that’s unmatched in recent memory, in the desert or out of it. I mean that. This one is essential. Out March 25. Zun on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
What’s that you say, 137 releases isn’t enough? You want more? Okay.
Well, I’m pretty sure I just put up news about a new album from Iron Man vocalist Dee Calhoun due in Spring. That’s one. And fucking King Buffalo. Their record will be out not at all soon enough.
And while you’re hawkishly keeping an eye out for the stuff listed above, why not also watch for word from Bongzilla, whose reunion is now well underway, as well as The Body, who have a new collaborative release with Full of Hell coming out, Ice Dragon, who spent the better part of last year curiously silent, and All Them Witches, who probably won’t have a new LP out but are always putting together singles, jams and so on for those aching for a digital fix?
There is a “slim but real” chance of a new Clamfight record in the fall. I’ve heard murmurings indicating Elder are working on a follow-up to 2015’s glorious Lore, and since Baby Woodrose are playing Freak Valley, is it possible they could blow our minds with a new album as well? Conny Ochs has a new one on Exile on Mainstream, Mount Desert could easily follow-up their 2015 two-songer that made such a splash, and EYE — oh EYE! — I’ve been waiting for their new one since last year, so hopes are high it’s out soon. And I didn’t include them because the album already came out in Europe, but The Shrine make their Century Media debut with Rare Breed this week in North America.
Other names to watch for in no particular order or likelihood: Argus, Serpent Throne, Them Bulls, War Drum, Black Lung, Worshipper, The Exploding Eyes Orchestra, 3rd Eye Experience, Switchblade Jesus, Seedy Jeezus, Horsehunter, Bright Curse, It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Black Moon Circle, Bison Machine, Fogg, Electric Moon, Arc of Ascent, Beastwars, Thera Roya, Svartanatt (late Spring), Red Wizard (on STB), and Ripple Music‘s second chapter of The Second Coming of Heavy split series with Supervoid and Red Desert.
Still not enough? Check back soon. Just in the time I was putting this list together, I got emails about new releases from Nicklas Sørensen of Papir, Mr. Bison, Instant Boner, Duckhunters, Lord Summerisle and Sonic Mass — and others. Point is there’s always more to come.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The prospect of a new full-length from Devon doomers The Wounded Kings lurks on the horizon like a dark spot at sunset, just reminding ever so slightly of the horrors to come. This will be the persistently-nebulous outfit’s fifth full-length overall and their second for Candlelight Records behind last year’s chills-up-the-spine creeper Consolamentum (review here), which was as much the end of an era as it was the beginning of one, as it turns out. Always pretty fluid in their lineup around founding guitarist Steve Mills, The Wounded Kings welcomed original vocalist George Birch back into the band, and the forthcoming Visions in Bone will serve as Birch‘s first record with them since 2010’s The Shadow over Atlantis (review here).
They’re a much different band than they were when they and Birch first parted ways. For one thing, they play live. For another thing, they’re a whole band. But Birch has had some time to get adjusted over the course of this year, playing Hellfest in France this summer, preparing the new album, and so on. The Wounded Kings will be at Damnation Festival this weekend with 40 Watt Sun, Witchsorrow, Ohhms and an imperial fuckton of others, but they’ve also just announced a European tour for March 2016 that presumably will coincide one way or another with the Visions in Bone release. They had unveiled a song from the album, along with the cover art (it’s similar to the tour poster below) and some other details, but it would seem it was for a limited time only. More to come, I’m sure.
Tour poster and dates and whatnot follow. Have at it:
We will be touring Europe in 2016 and we will being playing ‘Visions In Bone’ in its full entirety. Check out dates below:
March 4th – London, UK* March 5th – Leeuwarden, Holland* March 6th – Leipzig, Germany* March 7th – Nuremberg, Germany* March 8th – Olten, Switzerland* March 9th – Parma, Italy* March 10th – Milan, Italy* March 11th – Freiburg, Germany* March 12th – Liege, Belgium*
Posted in Features on December 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Please note: These are not the results of the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t added your list yet, please do.
This was a hard list to put together. The top three have been set in my mind for probably the last month, but trying to work my way backwards from there was a real challenge — what’s a top 10 record, a top 20 record, a top 30, honorable mentions and all the rest. I’ve never done a full top 30 before, always 20, but the truth is there was just too much this year to not expand.
I’m still juggling numbers even as I put together this post, and I’m sure that by the time I’m done several records will have switched places. That’s always how it seems to go. What I’m confident that I have is a list accurately representing critique and my own habits, both what I gravitated toward in listening throughout the year and what I feel is noteworthy on a critical level. This site has always been a blend of those two impulses. It’s only fair this list should be as well.
Before we dig in, you should note this is full-length albums only. I’ll have a list of short releases (EPs, singles, demos) to come, as well as a special list of debut releases, since it seemed to be a particularly good year for them. And since I’m only one person, I couldn’t hear everything, much as I tried.
The kings of London’s heavy scene offered more powerhouse heavy rock with their eighth album and second for Candlelight, and their rabid and ever-growing fanbase ate it up. Back from the Abyss proved yet again that few can attain the kind of vicious force that seems to come so natural to Orange Goblin, and made it clear their domination shows no signs of losing momentum.
A darker affair from Port Orchard, Washington’s Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty still found its core in the songwriting led by guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed. They’re a band with some changes on the horizon, and I’ll be interested to hear what hindsight does to these songs. As it was, the hooks and downer vibes may have been in conceptual conflict, but the execution was inarguable.
Richer in the listening than 2012’s Misery Wizard debut, Pilgrim‘s II: Void Worship nonetheless held firm to the doomly spirit that’s made the Rhode Island outfit such a sensation these last couple years. Its longer songs, “Master’s Chamber,” “Void Worship” and the emotionally weighted “Away from Here,” were particularly immersive, and they remain a bright spot in doom’s future.
His long-awaited solo debut, John Garcia‘s John Garcia offered memorable tracks culled from years of songwriting from the former Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida and Hermano frontman, performed in the classic desert rock style he helped define. I’m not sure it was worth trading a second Vista Chino record for, but it was hard to argue with “The Blvd” and “All These Walls.”
An overwhelming two-disc barrage from a relentless creativity that, more than 30 years on from its first public incarnation, is still to be considered avant garde. I’m not sure planet earth realizes how lucky it is to have Swans running around unleashing all this chaos, but I hope they don’t stop anytime soon. To be Kind was brutal and beautiful in like measure.
I initially made this list without Alunah‘s excellent third album and Napalm Records, but when it came down to it, not having the UK four-piece on here haunted me to the point where I had to come back in and swap them out with somebody else. Just couldn’t live with myself for not giving this record its due, which, to be frank, I’m still not since it should be higher on the list than it is. At least it’s here though, so the mistake is somewhat corrected.
The follow-up to Greenleaf‘s stellar 2012 outing Nest of Vipers (review here) brought lineup changes and stripped away many of the textural elements of the band’s sound — guest appearances, arrangement flourishes — in order to get back to a classic heavy rock sound and translate better to the stage. With guitarist Tommi Holappa‘s songwriting ever at the core, it would be unfair to call the process anything but a success.
Most of the headlines went to the fact that Primitive and Deadly had vocals, where the generally-instrumental Earth had avoided singers for 18 years prior, but even putting aside Mark Lanegan and Rabi Shabeen Qazi, whose performance on “From the Zodiacal Light” was the high point of the record, presented Earth‘s always progressive tensions in a rawer, heavier production, and was a joy for longtime fans.
Six years and one breakup later, Portland, Maine, doom trio Ogre returned with The Last Neanderthal, neither afraid to revel in Sabbathian traditionalism or rock out a more upbeat cut like opener “Nine Princes in Amber.” For bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham, guitarist Ross Markonish and drummer Will Broadbent, it was a welcome resurgence of pretense-free heavy riffs and grooves.
Of course, at the time we didn’t know it would be the final outing from this lineup of UK doomers The Wounded Kings, whose guitarist/founder Steve Mills has now reunited with original vocalist George Birch, but Consolamentum was a hell of a closing statement anyway for this era of the band, showcasing their murky, increasingly progressive style still waiting for wider appreciation.
Wasn’t sure where to put Floor‘s reunion offering, Oblation, on this list at first, since I kind of fell off listening to it as the year went on, but I’ve gone back to it over the last couple weeks and it has held up to the revisit, whether it’s songs like the extended “Sign of Aeth” or shorter, catchy pummelers like “Rocinante” or “War Party.” Floor‘s 2002 self-titled holds an untouchable legacy in heavy rock, but I think the years will prove Oblation a worthy successor. Nobody knew what they had with Floor at the time either.
Little on 2011’s Motherfucker Rising (review here) or their 2010 demo (review here) prepared for the kind of assault that Druglord‘s Enter Venus brought to bear. Four stomp-laden slabs of tectonic crash and distortion, vocals buried under and calling up from the amp-bred fog. The Virginian trio were in and out on the 27-minute 12″ release, but had enough heavy for a record twice as long, and the tinges of darkened psychedelia made their songs like a lurking presence just on the edge of consciousness, a threat waiting to be unleashed.
For the sheer variety of Ararat‘s third album in rockers like “Nicotina y Destrucción,” “El Hijo de Ignacio,” the experimentalism of “El Arca” and the piano-driven “Los Viajes” and the acoustic closer “Atalayah,” and the assured, flowing manner in which the Argentina trio pulled it all off, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz should be higher on this list than it is. Part of that might be my frustration at my apparent inability to buy a copy, but don’t let that take away from the quality of the material here, which is wonderfully chaotic, memorable and engaging, rushing in some places and stopping to weep in others.
You won’t hear me deny that Radio Moscow‘s primary impact is as a live band, but their fifth album, Magical Dirt, managed to bring forth much of their psychedelic blues presence in “Death of a Queen,” “Before it Burns” and “Gypsy Fast Woman,” the blinding rhythmic turns and wah-soaked guitar supremacy of Parker Griggs front and center throughout. Together with bassist Anthony Meier (also Sacri Monti) and drummer Paul Marrone (also Astra and Psicomagia), Radio Moscow are hitting their stride as one of heavy rock’s most powerful power trios. One never knows what to expect, but hopefully they keep going the way they are.
Four years isn’t the longest time I’ve ever waited for a record to come out, but in the case of Indianapolis’ Apostle of Solitude, it felt like an especially long stretch. Their third full-length and first for Cruz del Sur, Of Woe and Wounds followed the anticipation-building Demo 2012 (review here) and a couple splits and brought aboard bassist Dan Dividson and guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also Devil to Pay), who fit well with drummer Corey Webb and guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown to result in a payoff worthy and indicative of the time that went into its making. Hands down one of the finest acts in American doom.
Stubb‘s second long-player, also their debut on Ripple, gets a nod for the sense of progression it brought in answering the potential of the trio’s 2012 self-titled debut (review here), guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist Peter Holland and new drummer Tom Fyfe expanding the scope to include more heavy psych influence and soul along with the fuzz riffs and steady rolling while giving no ground in terms of the level of craft at work. Cry of the Ocean has become one of those albums where all I have to do is look at a title, be it “Cry of the Ocean Pt. I” or “Sail Forever” or “Heartbreaker,” and the song is immediately stuck in my head. With these tracks, that’s not at all a complaint.
14. Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Black Power Flower
Brant Bjork has worn many hats, literal and figurative, over the years, whether it’s drummer in Kyuss or Fu Manchu, producer, solo artist or bandleader. With Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, he steps once again into the latter role, and with guitarist Bubba DuPree, bassist Dave Dinsmore and drummer Tony Tornay, presents not only on his heaviest record to date, but what could easily begin a sustainable full-band progression that can go just about anywhere his songwriting wants to take it. “Stokely up Now,” “That’s a Fact Jack,” “Controllers Denied” and “Boogie Woogie on Your Brain” made for some of 2014’s best in desert rock, and Black Power Flower was an stellar return for Bjork to his “solo” work.
An earlier version of this list had Pagan Fruit at a lower number, but I couldn’t live with it not being closer to the top 10. Salt Lake City’s Dwellers pushed deeper into laid back psych and blues on their second album, and in doing so, crafted an atmosphere entirely their own. From “Creature Comfort” down to “Call of the Hollowed Horn,” with triumphs along the way like “Rare Eagle,” “Totem Crawler” (“Ohh, my queen… To whom, I crawl…) and “Son of Raven,” Pagan Fruit became a staple of my 2014, building off their 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (review here), but presenting their stylistic growth with a confidence and poise that can only come from a band who’ve figured out what they want to be doing and how they want to do it. Front to back, Pagan Fruit sounds like an arrival.
What made Brooklyn trio The Golden Grass‘ self-titled debut such a special released wasn’t just that it was heavy, or that the tracks were catchy, or that guitarist Michael Rafalowich and drummer Adam Kriney could harmonize over Joe Noval‘s warm-toned basslines. That was all great, don’t get me wrong, but what really stood out about The Golden Grass was its irony-free positivity, the way it was able to capture an upbeat, sunshiny feel without having to smirk about it on the other side of its mouth. It was self-aware, to be sure — knew what it was doing — but the way I see it, consciousness only makes the stylistic choices more impressive. Add to that the nuance they brought to ’70s revivalism, and all that stuff about catchiness and the harmonies, and there just wasn’t a level on which the album didn’t work.
My appreciation continues to grow for The Well‘s Samsara, which successfully pulled together influences from garage doom and heavy psychedelia while crafting an identity for the Austin, Texas, three-piece at once raw and melodically accomplished, guitarist Ian Graham and bassist Lisa Alley sharing vocals to classic effect on “Refuge” while otherwise trading off lead position to bolster variety in the material. The high point might’ve been the eight-minute “Eternal Well,” on which Graham, Alley and drummer Jason Sullivvan conjured some of their grooviest demons, but the hooks of “Mortal Bones,” “Trespass” and the attitude-laced “Dragon Snort” were no less engaging. One of many strong releases from their label this year — Slow Season, The Picturebooks, etc. — they seemed to come ready to serve notice of a stylistic movement underway.
10. Montibus Communitas, The Pilgrim to the Absolute
Peruvian psych adventurers Montibus Communitas more or less blew my mind when I heard their late-2013 offering, Harvest Times earlier this year, and the narrative, conceptual 2014 release, The Pilgrim to the Absolute, is even more of an achievement in its portrayal of improvised exploration, sonic ritualism and open creativity. The weaving of longer pieces against shorter ones with the various steps along the path as presented in the titles, some journeying, some arriving, some descriptive, almost all accompanied by nature in one form or another, gives The Pilgrim to the Absolute an almost impressionistic quality, so that even as you listen to it, you engage it as much as it carries you along its vibrant, breathtaking progression en route to the closing title-track, which is a destination every bit worthy of the journey. This is the most recently reviewed inclusion on this list, but Montibus Communitas‘ latest readily earns its place in the top 10. It is unique in its surroundings.
Looking back at the last two Fu Manchu records, 2007’s We Must Obey and 2009’s Signs of Infinite Power, it seemed reasonable to expect the groundbreaking SoCal fuzz foursome to put out another collection of big-sounding riffs in a big-sounding production. Nothing to complain about, but probably not a landmark. By going the other way completely — stripping their buzzed-out riffing down to its punkish core thanks in no small part to recording with Moab‘s Andrew Giacumakis — Fu Manchu served up a raw reminder both of where they came from and how top notch their songwriting remains. Reissuing their earliest work and being on their own label might’ve had something to do with it, but whatever it was, the 35 minutes of Gigantoid was as efficient a heavy rock outing as one could hope from an already legendary band, whether it was the hook-prone opening salvo of “Dimension Shifter,” “Invaders on My Back,” “Anxiety Reducer” and “Radio Source Sagittarius” or the righteous ending jam “The Last Question.”
Given the origins of The Skull — ex-Trouble members Eric Wagner, Jeff “Oly” Olson and Ron Holzner joining with Lothar Keller and a series of other guitarists, finally Matt Goldsborough, working essentially as a tribute band to their former outfit — I think not only did the quality of the material and performance on For Those Which are Asleep surprise, as well as the classically doomed feel that resonates throughout the album, but the sheer heartfelt nature of songs like “Sick of it All,” “Send Judas Down” and the title-track itself. This wasn’t a cynical attempt to make a go of an already set legacy. It was an expression of appreciation both for what they accomplished as Trouble and a desire to continue that work. The Skull‘s whole thing has been that they’re “more Trouble than Trouble,” and in their lineup that’s been true since they brought Olson on board. For Those Which are Asleep demonstrated that the classic spirit of that band is alive and well, its address has just changed. Moreover, it’s the beginning of a new progression for that spirit, and I hope it continues.
Nineteen years after releasing their self-titled debut, New York’s Blood Farmers contended for 2014’s comeback of the year with their sophomore outing, Headless Eyes — a morose, horror-obsessed six-track collection that on “Night of the Sorcerers” owed as much to Goblin as to Sabbath. The closing cover of David Hess‘ theme from The Last House on the Left, “The Road Leads to Nowhere,” was a late bit of melodic flourish to add depth, but how could the highlight be anything other than the 10-minute title-track itself, with its samples from the 1971 horror flick The Headless Eyes, bassist Eli Brown in a call and response with lyrics comprised of lines directly taken from the movie? That after playing shows the last several years, Blood Farmers managed to get a record out was impressive enough. That Headless Eyes turned out to be the year’s best traditional doom release was an entirely different level of surprise. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for their third, but Brown, guitarist David Szulkin and drummer Tad Leger gave plenty to chew on with Blood Farmers‘ second. It was better than would’ve been fair to expect.
A lot of what you need to know about Lo-Pan‘s fourth album you learn in the first five seconds of opener “Regulus.” There’s no fancy intro, no time wasted, nothing to take away from the directness of the song itself. Tones are crisp — the verse is already underway — and guitar, bass and drums are laser-focused in their forward movement. Even when vocalist Jeff Martin enters the song, roughly six seconds later, his arrival comes with no indulgence, no pomp. Colossus is easily Lo-Pan‘s most immediate work to date, and throughout, Martin, guitarist Brian Fristoe (since replaced by Adrian Zambrano), bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz retain that focus no matter where the material takes them, delivering a clinic in how to kick as much ass as possible at any given moment on cuts like “Marathon Man” and “Eastern Seas,” or even bringing in guest vocalist Jason Alexander Byers, who also designed the album cover, for a spot on “Vox.” They had a hard task in following up 2011’s Salvador (review here), but the Columbus, Ohio, unit stood up to the challenge and met it and everyone else head-on.
What to do with All Them Witches‘ Lightning at the Door? The Nashville four-piece released the album last fall digitally, but it wasn’t until this September that it saw a physical manifestation. In fact, if you go back, it was included on the Top 20 of 2013 as well. Which is the release date? I don’t know. What I know is that in terms of the sheer amount of time spent listening, I put on Lightning at the Door more than any other record this year. From where I sit, that alone gets it a place in the top five. Yeah, it might be a cop-out to do a “5a,” but sometimes exceptions have to be made, and All Them Witches have proved to be nothing if not exceptional in their still relatively brief, jam-laden history, the psych-blues dynamic between bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Fender Rhodes specialist Allan van Cleave and drummer Robby Staebler pushing them quickly to the fore of American heavy rock’s innovators, their natural, improv-sounding material feeling brazen and exploratory while reshaping the elements of genre to suit their needs. One can only see this dynamic developing further as they continue to grow as a live band, so Lightning at the Door may just be the start, and that’s perhaps most exciting of all.
A beautiful, stunning work made even more powerful by the honesty driving it. Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain completed a trilogy with the Billy Anderson-produced Mobile of Angelsthat brought about some of the best doom of this young decade, their 2011 return from a years-long hiatus, South of Salem (review here) serving as the foundation for a stylistic progression that continued on the following year’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and onto Mobile of Angels itself as the four-piece’s most accomplished album to date. The reason it feels like such a concluding chapter is because of the departure of vocalist Uta Plotkin, whose voice helped establish Witch Mountain both on stage and in the studio, leaving founders Rob Wrong (guitar) and Nathan Carson (drums) with the sizable task of finding a replacement. That situation will be what it will be, but Mobile of Angels remains a gorgeous, lonely testament. Plotkin gives a landmark performance on “Can’t Settle” and “The Shape Truth Takes,” which in the context of what was happening in Witch Mountain at the time ring with a truth that’s rare in or out of doom, and she seems to have left the band just as they were hitting their finest hour. So it goes.
In all of heavy, there is no assault so severe as Conan‘s. With their second full-length and debut on Napalm Records, the UK trio solidified the two sides of the preceding 2012 outing, Monnos (review here), in constructing material that, fast or slow, short or long, retained an epic feel melded with their ungodly tonality and memorable songwriting. Their first recording at guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis‘ Skyhammer Studio, it affirmed Conan‘s will to conquer in its two massive bookends, “Crown of Talons” and “Altar of Grief,” and in the High on Fire-worthy gallop of “Foehammer” — a bludgeon commandingly wielded by Davis, bassist/vocalist Phil Coumbe and drummer Paul O’Neil, the latter to of whom have since left the band to be replaced by longtime-producer Chris Fielding and Rich Lewis, respectively. What effect the changes might have on the band — except apparently more touring, which isn’t a bad thing — have yet to be seen, but Conan are already in the process of writing a follow-up to Blood Eagle, so it doesn’t seem like it’ll be all that long until we find out. With Davis still steering the band in songwriting and overall direction, one severely doubts they’ll be fixing what obviously isn’t broken anytime soon. None heavier.
Dallas riff-rockers Wo Fat have grown steadily over the course of their five albums, from the nascent heavy roll of 2006’s The Gathering Dark, to the hooks of 2008’s Psychedelonaut (review here), the jamming that started to surface on 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here) and was pushed further on 2012’s The Black Code (review here). And their approach has been as steady as the frequency of their releases. In making The Conjuring, the three-piece were simply engaging the next step in their progression, but the material on the five-track/48-minute outing goes further than just that. Putting aside (momentarily) the 17-minute closer “Dreamwalker,” the other cuts, “The Conjuring,” “Read the Omens,” “Pale Rider from the Ice” and “Beggar’s Bargain” each found a place for themselves in pulling together jammed-sounding elements with a memorable construction, and when guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter did kick into “Dreamwalker,” they hit on not only their longest piece yet, but their most accomplished showcase of the chemistry that has developed between them. That song is a beast unto itself, but as has been the case with Wo Fat each time out so far in their career, there’s nothing on The Conjuring to give the impression the band can’t or won’t continue to keep going on the path that’s worked so well for them on this point. They’ve spent the last eight years on the right track and have yet to waiver. The Conjuring should be played at top volume for anyone who contends there’s no life left in heavy rock and roll.
Mars Red Sky‘s second LP and first for Listenable, Stranded in Arcadia was originally supposed to be recorded in the California desert, but visa problems kept the French trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz in Brazil, where they’d previously been touring. Thus, “stranded in Arcadia,” which is basically another way of saying “lost in paradise.” Can’t say the Bordeaux three-piece didn’t make the most of it, though. Songs like “The Light Beyond” and “Hovering Satellites” — not to mention the utter melodic bliss of “Join the Race” — took cues from their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) in terms of memorable songwriting and melodic craft, but added to that heft and tonal richness more of a psychedelic vibe, so that not only was there fuzz and wah, but a spacious world in which the songs took place. With Kinast on lead vocals, the sneaky boogie of “Holy Mondays” became a highlight, and the one-two swing ‘n’ stomp of “Circles” and “Seen a Ghost” were a perfect demonstration by the band of the various sides of their sound, particularly following after the dreamy instrumental “Arcadia,” an echoing jam distinguished by Pras‘ wistful guitar lead and coming before the closing “Beyond the Light,” which reprises the opener’s resonant unfolding. It probably wasn’t the record they intended to make, but Stranded in Arcadia became one of my go-to albums for 2014, and like the best of any given year’s output, I’ve no doubt it will transcend the passage of time and continue to deliver for years to come. Hell, I was barely done with the debut when this one came out.
Can’t imagine this is any great surprise. Not only did Clearing the Path to Ascend — YOB‘s seventh album and first for Neurot — produce my pick for song of the year in its sprawling, emotionally weighted 18-minute closer, “Marrow,” but in the three full-lengths the Eugene, Oregon, trio of drummer Travis Foster, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt have released since the latter reformed the band after breaking it up following 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived, all three have been my album of the year. The Great Cessation was in 2009, and Atma was in 2011. Consistency aside, I’ll point out specifically that each of the same three records has earned that position, perhaps Clearing the Path to Ascend most of all for its progressive feel, moving past genre even at its most raging moment, second cut “Nothing to Win,” the chorus of which proved that among everything else YOB could be, they could be anthemic. The cosmic, spiritual questing that has always been present in their songs, that feeling of searching, showed up in opener “In Our Blood,” but even there, it was evident YOB were pushing themselves beyond what they’ve done before, rewriting their own formulas incorporating lessons from their past in among their other points of inspiration. “Unmask the Spectre” could have easily been an album closer itself, with its patient exploration and feverishly intense payoff, but with the melodic progressivism of “Marrow” and the soul poured into every second of that track, every verse and chorus, solo and build — including the Hammond added to the last of them by producer Billy Barnett — YOB created a landmark both for themselves and the increasing many working under their influence. I’ve said on several occasions (bordering on “many” at this point) that YOB are a once-in-a-generation band, and it feels truer in thinking of Clearing the Path to Ascend than it ever has. Without a doubt, album of the year and then some.
First, special note to Colour Haze‘s To the Highest Gods We Know. I’ve decided to count it as a 2015 release since the vinyl will be out in Spring, but otherwise surely it would earn a place on this list. Blackwolfgoat‘s Drone Maintenance also deserves note.
A few other honorable mentions:
Mothership, Mothership II — It’s hard to argue with a classic heavy rock power trio kicking ass. I won’t try.
Sólstafir, Ótta — They were originally on the list proper but had to be moved to make room for Alunah. I didn’t really get to know this record in 2014 anyway.
Ice Dragon, Seeds from a Dying Garden — Boston experimental psych/garage doomers continue to defy expectation. May their weirdness last forever and continue to produce material so satisfying.
Truckfighters, Universe — I thought at some point I’d go back to Universe again, but never really did. A problem with me more than the album.
Steak, Slab City — An impressive debut following two strong EPs.
Godflesh, A World Lit Only by Fire — I never got a review copy, so I never reviewed it. Its name is here because I’m a fan of the band and glad they’re back.
Thou, Heathen — Just recently purchased this and am only getting to know it, but a ridiculously strong album.
Corrosion of Conformity, IX — Everybody who gets a boner whenever Pepper Keenan is mentioned in connection with this band has missed out. This record and the self-titled kick ass.
Spidergawd, Spidergawd — Holy shit they’re over here! No they’re over there! No wait over here again! Oh my god I’ve just gone blind!
Monster Magnet, Milking the Stars — I wasn’t sure what to do with this since technically it’s not a new album, mostly reworked songs from the last one. I still listened to it a ton though, whatever it is.
Slomatics, Estron — Another one I’m just getting to know, but am very much digging.
Electric Wizard, Time to Die — People seem to do this thing where Electric Wizard puts out a record, everyone slathers over it for a few months and then spends the next two years talking about how it sucked. I guess I’ll be on the ground floor with not having been that into Time to Die.
Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden — Had to put their name somewhere on this list or someone would burn my house down. Album of the year for many.
The list goes on: Monolord, Comet Control, Mammatus, Triptykon, Eyehategod, Fever Dog, Moab, Karma to Burn, Atavismo, Grifter, 1000mods, Megaton Leviathan, Wovenhand, Mr. Peter Hayden, Primordial, and many more.
Before I check out and go sit in a corner somewhere to try and rebuild brain power after this massive dump of a purge, I want to sincerely thank you for reading. If you check in regularly, or if you’ve never been to the site before, if you don’t give a crap about lists or if you’re gonna go listen to even one band on here, it’s fantastic to me. Thank you so much for all the support this site receives, for your comments, for sharing links, retweeting, whatever it is. I am a real person — I’m sitting on my couch at this very moment — and being able to do this and have people see it and be a part of it with me is unbelievable. I realize how fortunate I am. So thank you. Thank you.
More to come as we close out 2014. I’ll have a list of short/split/demo releases, a year-end podcast, a list of the best debuts, a round up of the best live shows I saw, as much more as time allows. Please stay tuned.
And again, thank you. If I left anyone off the list, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments and contribute your own top albums, however many there are, to the Readers Poll.
At best, this stuff is a crapshoot. Until something’s just about in your hand, you never really know when or if it’s going to come out. But they’re fun, and it’s exciting to think of good music being released, so you do it anyway. On the whole, I don’t think I did that badly between the two lists. Of course there was stuff that wasn’t anticipated — Colour Haze‘s new album, To the Highest Gods We Know, walks by and waves en route to its Dec. 15 release date — but for what we got, it worked out well.
That’s the general overview, but because I hold myself to a standard of accountability more rigorous than, say, my nation’s torture-happy secret police, here’s a full rundown of the list as it was, now (as then), presented alphabetically and with the titles listed as they were at the time:
42 of 2014’s Most Anticipated Albums — REVISITED!
1. Acid King, TBA: Word is Acid King‘s first in 10 years was mastered last month and will be out in Feb. 2015 on Svart.
2. Alcest, Shelter: Was way less post-black metal than their prior stuff, and I think it threw a lot of people off. Not a bad record (review here), but worked against lofty expectations.
3. All Them Witches, TBA: I remember including this because they said they were going back into the studio. Turned out they were recording the Effervescent EP/jam (review here). No regrets.
4. Alunah, TBA: Their new one was their Napalm Records debut, Awakening the Forest (review here). It was awesome. Score one for the list.
5. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance: Yeah, it was cheating to include this since I was there when it was recorded. Still a killer record though.
7. Conan, Blood Eagle: What does complete dominance sound like? Sounds like Conan to me.
8. Eggnogg, You’re all Invited: Was dying to hear what the Brooklyn trio came up with. No word on it yet.
9. Elder, Live at Roadburn 2013: Still don’t have a copy of this. Maybe I can pick one up when I get their forthcoming third studio album, Lore, out early next year.
10. 40 Watt Sun, TBA: More like “MIA” than TBA. Anyone heard from these guys?
11. The Golden Grass, TBA: Their self-titled debut (review here) was one of the finest first-albums I heard all year.
12. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes: Any Greenleaf is a treat. Trails and Passes (review here) was no exception.
13. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren: Solid follow-up (review here). Grifter‘s humor and lack of pretense serves them well.
14. Hull, TBA: Well, they had the Legend of the Swamp Goat single (review here) to coincide with their Euro tour. Waiting on the album.
15. Lowrider, TBA: I wouldn’t mind if this materialized right now. Or now. Or now. Or 2015. Or 2016.
16. The Machine, TBA: Might’ve jumped the gun on this. Hopefully in 2015.
17. Mars Red Sky, TBA: Easily one of the year’s best records. Stranded in Arcadia (review here) continues to get regular spins.
18. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty: A highlight of early 2014. Darker record (review here), but inarguable songwriting.
19. Mr. Peter Hayden, Archdimension Now: Fitting end to their trilogy and hopefully not their last outing.
20. Pallbearer, TBA: Their Foundations of Burden has topped year-end lists already. It’s still on my desktop. I’ve barely listened to it.
21. Papir, IIII: Very, very good. They seem to be developing, but IIII (review here) was a satisfying chronicle.
22. Pilgrim, TBA: Can’t say II: Void Worship (review here) wasn’t a win for the band since they did a month on the road with Spirit Caravan. Maybe overshadowed by more recent stuff, but a quality record.
23. Radio Moscow, Magical Dirt: Their incendiary heavy blues was in top form on Magical Dirt (review here). Glad I got to see them live once or twice (or 18 times) as well this year.
24. Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today: Also residing on my desktop. A vocalist switch caught me off guard and I feel like I still haven’t given it a fair shot.
25. Sixty Watt Shaman, TBA: Really? I had Sixty Watt on the list? That seems ambitious. No doubt they’ll have something new eventually, but that was a pretty high expectation it would be out this year.
26. Skraeckoedlan, Gigantos: If this came out, no one told me. Seems like not yet.
27. The Skull, TBA: A stunner. As much as I looked forward to it, For Those Which are Asleep (review here) exceeded the excitement.
28. Sleep, TBA: Included as wishful thinking. Their The Clarity single (review here) was something to celebrate.
29. Slough Feg, Digital Resistance: I was really looking forward to this one. Kind of fell off with Digital Resistance (review here) after a while. Hard to argue with Slough Feg though.
30. Snail, Feral: Waiting on it for 2015.
31. Steak, TBA: The London four-piece followed two strong EPs with Slab City(review here), as heartfelt a showing of desert rock loyalty as I’ve heard.
Damn, this was a long list.
32. Stubb, TBA: I had my doubts it would arrive, but Stubb‘s Ripple Music debut, Cry of the Ocean (review here), found welcome when it did.
33. SunnO))) & Ulver, Terrestrials: One of two collaborations SunnO))) would have out in 2014. Heard a lot about it at the beginning of the year. Less now.
34. Tombs, Savage Gold: Good band, doing interesting stuff. I have a hard time transitioning from appreciating it to actually being a fan.
35. Triptykon, Melana Chasmata: Sorry, but when Tom G. Warrior puts out a record, you hop to. I didn’t review it to save myself having to buy a copy, but dug it anyway.
36. Truckfighters, Universe: I feel like this one picked up steam as the year went on. I didn’t go back to it as much as its predecessor, but Universe (review here) was a logical next step for them.
37. Valley of the Sun, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk: Nothing to complain about with the Ohio three-piece’s debut (review here) or the effort they put into supporting it throughout the year.
38. Weedeater, TBA: Nope. At least I knew it at the time.
39. Wolves in the Throne Room, TBA: Surprised a lot of people when Celestite (review here) was a companion piece for their last record instead of a new album proper, myself included.
40. The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum: 2014 was quite a year for doom, and The Wounded Kings were right there at the start. This lineup may be gone, but Consolamentum (review here) holds up.
41. Yawning Man, Gravity is Good for You: Rumor is guitarist Gary Arce has a few projects in the works for next year. Not sure if this is one of them or not.
42. YOB, TBA: We certainly know how this worked out, don’t we? If the votes in the Readers Poll are anything to go by, yes. Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here) was a landmark, and this won’t be the last year-end list around here on which YOB make a showing.
The list from July had a few winners on it as well — Apostle of Solitude, Blues Pills, Bongripper, Brant Bjork, Earth, Lo-Pan, The Well, Witch Mountain, etc. — but I think we’ve probably got enough as it is.
With the year starting to wind down, I’ll be putting together my Top 30 Albums of 2014 in the next week or so. Please keep an eye out for that, and thanks for reading.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Desertfest London 2015 was due for a big round of adds, and if they had a quota, you can pretty much consider it met. Eight bands were confirmed for the bill of the Camden Town festival today, among them Lo-Pan and Black Pyramid, who’ll also be at Desertfest Berlin together, UK natives The Wounded Kings (who’ll be there with original singer George Birch in the lineup), Desert Storm, Amulet, reunited pummelers Floor, Jersey’s finest power trio The Atomic Bitchwax and instrumentalists Karma to Burn, for whom this will be a return appearance. With Sleep, Red Fang and Orange Goblin already on the bill, at very least we can surmise Desertfest knows what it likes.
I don’t know how much more there is to come from Desertfest London 2015 — April is still months away, so one assumes plenty — but to look at this lineup already, it’s an enviable assemblage and shows in its variety how far the festival has progressed in its few short years. Minsk and Lo-Pan sharing a bill? Noothgrush and My Sleeping Karma? Seems like whatever poison you want to pick, they can accommodate.
From the PR wire:
FLOOR, KARMA TO BURN, BLACK PYRAMID, LO-PAN, THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX and more added to the DESERTFEST LONDON 2015 lineup
Once again, DESERTFEST LONDON fired a crushing salvo of heaviness by adding eight more kickass bands to their 2015 lineup. FLOOR, KARMA TO BURN, BLACK PYRAMID, LO-PAN, THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX, AMULET, DESERT STORM and THE WOUNDED KINGS are consequently joining the party, which will take place on April 24-26th in Camden.
SLEEP RED FANG ORANGE GOBLIN MY SLEEPING KARMA NOOTHGRUSH MINSK BLACK COBRA DOPETHRONE AGRIMONIA WALK THROUGH FIRE FLOOR KARMA TO BURN BLACK PYRAMID LO-PAN THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX AMULET DESERT STORM THE WOUNDED KINGS
DESERTFEST LONDON April 24-26th 2015 in Camden Town Koko – Electric Ballroom – The Underworld – The Black Heart