30 Before ’15: Records Not to Miss Before the New Year Hits

Posted in Features on July 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I made this. (Etching by Jacob Strutt 1824)

Before I even start, let’s get one thing out of the way. I want a new Sleep album too. My not including them on this list isn’t due to the fact that I don’t think a new Sleep album is a good idea, but just because I haven’t seen anything about it being recorded or released in the next five-plus months. If it hits on Jan. 1, 2015, I’ll be the happiest Baby New Year you ever saw, but that’s a different list altogether.

Ditto that Om and High on Fire. The latter were writing as of May, and I know Om did some recording way back in January, but I’ve yet to see solid word of new records at all, let alone before the end of the year. Either or both or all three may happen, but until I see some hint of it, all I can go on is the info I can find.

Seriously though, how badass would it be if all three put out albums before the New Year? That excitement is kind of what this list is about. Some of these records I’ve heard, but most I haven’t, so it’s just basic speculation about what I think could be some of the best releases in the next couple months. You’ll note that while there are plenty of dates TBA, nothing listed arrives in November, so as 2014 winds down, there’s bound to be even more quality stuff than appears here.

In fact, I struggled to take things out to get it down to 30. And it still goes to 31! I figured no one would mind. They’re numbered, but the list is in alphabetical order.

If I left something out you’re dying to hear, please let me know in the comments.

Thanks in advance for reading:

 

1. Alunah, TBA (Sept.)

Thee band Alunah. I've used this picture A LOT.
Birmingham’s Alunah, like several others below, are a holdover from the Most Anticipated Albums list back at the start of the year. The difference between now and then is that, while its title still hasn’t been revealed so far as I know, their Napalm Records debut has been recorded, mixed and mastered, the latter by Tony Reed, the former by Greg Chandler of Esoteric, and given a September release date. Two years after Alunah made riffy doom sound easy on their sophomore outing, White Hoarhound (review here), I look forward to hearing how they’ve grown and shifted in their approach to warm-sounding tones and memorable hooks. They’ve set a pretty high standard for themselves. Alunah on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

2. Apostle of Solitude, Of Woe and Wounds (Oct.)

Dudes.
These guys. I don’t mind telling you it was a thrill when Indianapolis doomers Apostle of Solitude were announced as having signed to Cruz del Sur to release their third album, Of Woe and Wounds, this fall. Their second outing, 2010′s Last Sunrise (review here), didn’t get the attention it deserved, but the handful of songs they’ve made public since have shown much promise, and as the first Apostle of Solitude full-length to feature guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also Devil to Pay) in harmony with guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown — the band is completed by bassist Dan Davidson and drummer Corey Webb — this is definitely going to make for a doomly autumn. Apostle of Solitude on Thee Facebooks, Cruz del Sur Music.

3. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance (Aug. 26)

Cartoon Darryl coming soon to Adult Swim. (Art by Alexander von Wieding).
Recorded late last year at Amps vs. Ohms in Boston, the third album from Maple Forum alum Blackwolfgoat — the prog-drone alter ego of guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, Roadsaw, etc.) — is the project’s most expansive outing yet, and it seems Shepard is moving more in a song-based direction, rather than some of the building loops of the past two offerings. Of course, there will be plenty of those as well, but watch out for some acoustic guitar, and deep-in-the-mix vocals, as they could easily hint of things to come. Or Darryl could turn it on its head and do a calypso record. Either way, I’m on board with no pretense of impartiality. Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp, Small Stone’s Bandcamp.

4. Blues Pills, Blues Pills (Aug. 5)

Lot of this lately.
The much-heralded Swedish/French/American psych-blues conglomeration Blues Pills will make their self-titled debut (short review here) next month, and while it’s probably going to be a bigger deal in Europe than in the States — at least until Nuclear Blast brings them over here for a tour, then the country is going to go apeshit for them — the songwriting and soulful execution of their tracks justifies the hype. There’s a bit of retro posturing to what they do, some Graveyard shuffle (it feels inevitable at this point with a ’70s-influenced band), but the grooves are easy to dig into and the potential is basically limitless for where they want to go. It’s scary to keep in mind, but this is just the beginning. Blues Pills on Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast.

5. Bongripper, Miserable (July 7)

Frickin' Bongripper.
You may notice something strange about the date above for a list of upcoming albums in that July 7 was yesterday. Well, Chicago’s Bongripper posted their new three-track full-length monster Miserable on their Bandcamp for stream and download ahead of the vinyl’s arrival, and it was just too righteous to leave out. Those seeking landmark riffing need look no further than the 19-minute centerpiece “Descent,” which meters out stomp enough that future “scientists” will study its footprint, and closer “Into Ruin” (28:25) is guaranteed to be the heaviest half-hour you’ll spend today. Miserable feels like a no-brainer, but maybe that’s just because Bongripper have such a propensity for pounding skulls into mush. Bongripper on Thee Facebooks, Miserable on Bandcamp.

6. Botanist, VI: Flora (Aug. 11)

Neato.
I feel like I missed a couple numbers from San Francisco-based environmentalist black metal unit Botanist along the way, but they’ll nonetheless issue VI: Flora on The Flenser next month, furthering their marriage of destruction and beauty and insistent percussive expression. The spaces Botanist — a one-man project from Robert Martinelli — create feel ritualistic without the dramatic posturing that pervades much of the genre, and sound, somewhere between raging and mournful, is hypnotic. Whatever your expectation might be, Martinelli seems pleased to use it to their advantage, and ultimately, defy it. Post-human, hammered dulcimer-laden black metal. It would be harder for Botanist to not be unique. Botanist on Thee Facebooks, The Flenser.

7. Brant Bjork, TBA (TBA)

Mr. Bjork, recording.
When Brant Bjork‘s next album might show up, I don’t know. I know he’s signed to Napalm, and I know the photo above was snapped as he finished some vocals before going on tour with his Low Desert Punk band that includes guitarist Bubba DuPree, bassist Dave Dinsmore and drummer Tony Tornay, but whether or not the album they made is the funk-inspired Jakoozi that’s been in the offing for a while, or another collection of songs, and if Napalm will get it out before the end of the year remain a mystery. I do find it interesting that for his first “solo” outing post-Vista Chino (that band being on hiatus), Bjork has assembled a new band to work with rather than record multiple instruments himself, but no matter who’s involved, when it’s Brant Bjork writing the songs, it’s gonna be high rock from the low desert. Can’t wait to dig into whatever comes. Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

8. Earth, Primitive and Deadly (Sept.)

Erf.
The headline for Earth‘s new album is it’s the one where they experimented with vocalists. And hey, if you’re going to toy around with the idea, you might as well get Mark Lanegan involved. The former Screaming Trees frontman is one of several singers appearing on Primitive and Deadly, due in September on Southern Lord, and it would appear that Earth‘s sound — always evolving, always somehow changing — is about to take another considerable turn. Fortunately, the Seattle band, led by guitarist Dylan Carlson and now approaching their 25th year, have long since proven worthy of trusting with their own direction. Earth will never be huge, by the simple nature of what they do, but their influence resounds and the quality of their output is unmatched. Earth on Thee Facebooks, Southern Lord Recordings.

9. Electric Wizard, Time to Die (Sept.)

Art by Jus Oborn.
“Wake up baby/It’s time to die.” So goes the title-track hook of Electric Wizard‘s new album and Spinefarm Records debut, Time to Die. As ever, it’s simple, hateful, drenched-in-fuzz misanthropy, and Electric Wizard revel in it accordingly. Their witchcult continues to grow in their native UK and abroad, and while their last two records have divided some listeners, they’ve invariably gained more ground than they’ve lost. A legal dispute with Rise Above finds them on the new label, and if there’s even the slightest chance that change will bring them to the US for a tour, I’ll take it. Expect 66 minutes of glorious filth. Electric Wizard on Thee Facebooks, Spinefarm Records.

10. Fever Dog, Second Wind (TBA)

I cropped it.
Palm Desert youngsters Fever Dog have been kicking around the last few years finding their sound in varying elements of heavy rock and psychedelic experimentation. Most recently, they impressed with the single “Iroquois” (review here) taken from their new album Second Wind, and in looking forward to the full-length, I’m eager to learn how their style has solidified and what sort of vibes they conjure over its course. They’ve shown plenty of propensity for jamming in their prior work, so hopefully there’s a bit of that on hand as well. I’ve said before they’re a trio of marked potential, and nothing I’ve yet heard has dissuaded me from that impression. Fever Dog on Thee Facebooks, Fever Dog on Bandcamp.

11. Goat, Commune (Sept. 23)

Okey dokey.
Somehow, a band from Sweden who dress up in tribal costumes (problematic) and play Afrobeat psychedelia became a very, very big deal. I couldn’t explain it if I wanted to, and I won’t try, but I know that when Sub Pop releases Goat‘s second album, Commune, it’s going to be to a flurry of hype and heaps of critical fawning. It would be tempting to call Goat a novelty act, but their 2012 debut, World Music (discussed here), showcased a legitimately creative musical approach to go with the visual aspects of their presentation, and I find the fact that I have no idea what to expect from Commune to be refreshing. Goat on Thee Facebooks, Sub Pop Records.

12. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren (Aug. 11)

I guess the bearded brethren forgot their shirts.
UK heavy rockers Grifter will make a welcome resurgence on Ripple Music with The Return of the Bearded Brethren, an album that builds on the straightforward, catchy sounds of their 2011 self-titled label debut (review here) and takes their infectiousness to new places lyrically, such as exploring issues of aging via an ode to Princess Leia from Star Wars. That particular brand of humor and is writ large on Grifter‘s second Ripple outing, and the trio set to work refining their take without losing the engaging feel of their self-titled. It feels like a long three years since that record hit, and I’ll be glad to have a follow-up in-hand. Grifter on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.

13. Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz, New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future (TBA)

Aaaaaaaart.
Unclear at this point whether Boston outfits Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz collaborated on New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future, or if it’s a split. Either way, the prolific acts make a sound pairing. Both are vehemently creative and exploratory, psychedelic and progressive each in their way, and if what’s presumably a single finds them working together, all the better, but even if not, new material from either is nothing to balk at, particularly when topped off by such gorgeous artwork. Neither act is ever long from putting something out, so to have them come together one way or another makes a weird brand of sense, which I’m relatively sure the songs will as well. Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks, Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks.

14. Ides of Gemini, Old World New Wave (Sept. 16)

Will make a good tape.
Ides of Gemini‘s 2012 Neurot Recordings debut, Constantinople (discussed here), established the three-piece as freely inhabiting either side of the imaginary line between ambience and heaviness, J. Bennett and Kelly Johnston providing sometimes minimal, sometimes consuming foundations for vocalist Sera Timms (ex-Black Math Horseman, also Black Mare) to cast ethereal melodies. What Old World New Wave will hold sound-wise, I don’t yet know, but Ides of Gemini‘s otherworldly resonance and ultra-patient approach makes it well worth finding out. Ides of Gemini on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.

15. John Gallow, Violet Dreams (Aug. 4)

Art by Costin Chioreanu.
Frontman of Blizaro and Orodruin guitarist John James Gallo adds a ‘w’ to his last name and steps out solo on the I, Voidhanger Records release, Violet Dreams, the title hinting at some of his on-his-sleeve affinity for Italian psych-doom master Paul Chain and Swedish legends Candlemass. Gallo‘s work in Blizaro has a tendency to lean toward the progressive and cinematic, but as John Gallow, the focus is more on classic doom riffing and darkened metallurgy. As one would expect, he’s well in his element on the hour-long album, and I hope he decides to call the next one Ancient Theatre. Also note the incredible artwork of Costin Chioreanu. John Gallo on Thee Facebooks, I, Voidhanger Records.

16. John Garcia, John Garcia (Aug. 5)

Are there rams in the desert?
A long-discussed solo debut for the former Kyuss frontman following a stint alongside Brant Bjork in Vista Chino, John Garcia‘s John Garcia (review here) finds the singer right in his comfort zone, topping desert rock riffs with his trademark guttural vocals. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’d trade a second Vista Chino outing for it if given the choice — that band seemed to be on course for a sound of its own, separate from Kyuss‘ legacy, and that struck me as worth pursuing — but these songs have a similar enough production style that it’s easy to think of the one as an offshoot of the other, and of course Garcia calls his shots well throughout. John Garcia on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

17. King Buffalo, TBA (TBA)

Pretty sure this is a t-shirt design.
Including King Buffalo here was pretty speculative on my part, but I dig the Rochester, NY, outfit and didn’t want to leave the prospect of their STB Records debut long-player out. It probably won’t land until 2015 — the future! — but their demo (review here) still gets regular plays around these parts, and I’m very much looking forward to catching them with similarly-minded Nashville blues rockers All Them Witches when they tour together next month. Whatever King Buffalo‘s recording/release plans might be, they’re definitely one to keep an eye on in the back half of this year. King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks, STB Records.

18. Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy (TBA)

Kangs Deestroy.
Love these guys, love this band. I make no bones about it. Their third record, self-titled and produced as the last two were by Sanford Parker, is as close as they’ve yet come to capturing their live sound, and while they’ve yet to nail down an exact release date, they have a couple very cool tours in the works for this fall, including dates next month with Eric Wagner‘s Blackfinger, that will make a fitting lead-in to their best outing yet. I’ve heard this and had the chance to see some of the material live, and they’ve outdone themselves again, which, considering the esteem in which I continue to hold their 2013 sophomore full-length, A Time of Hunting, is really saying something. Kings Destroy on Thee Facebooks, War Crime Recordings.

19. The Kings of Frog Island, V (Fall)

Thee ol KOFI.
Easily one of the LPs I’m most eager to hear over the next few months, and specifically on vinyl. The Kings of Frog Island have shown themselves to be so dedicated to the format that their early-2013 album, IV (review here), was presented as two bundled sides even digitally. They recently gave a taste of what their fifth album will in-part hold via a video for “Sunburn” and I’m told more jamminess ensues elsewhere to complement that track’s easygoing flow and platter-ready hook. All the better. The Kings of Frog Island on Thee Facebooks, The Kings of Frog Island on YouTube.

20. Lonely Kamel, Shit City (Sept. 9)

But that's not the way it happened.
I’d be lying if I said part of my immediate interest in Oslo heavy rockers Lonely Kamel‘s fourth record wasn’t due to the cheeky title, but it’s been three years since the Napalm Records four-piece released their last album, Dust (track stream here), and as they’ve put in plenty of road-time, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to go into this time around with elevated anticipation. I’m not sure you could get away with calling an album Shit City unless you meant business. Got my fingers crossed that’s precisely the case with Lonely Kamel. Lonely Kamel on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

21. Lo-Pan, Colossus (Oct. 7)

Nice. (Art by Jason Alexander Byers) (Oct. 7)
Fucking a. Doing the research for this list was the first I’d seen the Jason Alexander Byers cover art for Lo-Pan‘s fourth album, Colossus, or its Oct. 7 Small Stone release date. I haven’t heard the tracks yet — they recorded in Brooklyn back in March, and while I got 2012′s Salvador (review here) pretty early, the Columbus four-piece seem to be keeping a tighter lid on the follow-up — and I can’t help but feel like that’s my loss. Judging by what I’ve heard of the material live, Lo-Pan have dug further into their individual brand of riff-led soulful heavy, and I’ve got a high wager that a few months from now, Lo-Pan‘s latest will make an appearance on another list. More to come. Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.

22. Novembers Doom, Bled White (July 15)

Pretty dark for something so white.
One of doom’s most fascinating and largely ignored progressions is that of Chicago melancholists Novembers Doom, who, when they started out 25 years ago, did so largely as a death metal band, and then moved on to pioneer an American interpretation of what’s commonly thought of as European doom, until, over their last several records, as they’ve started to move back to a more extreme, double-kick-drummed style. Bled White, on The End Records, continues along this path, but especially in the cleaner vocals of frontman Paul Kuhr there remain shades of the morose emotionality that typified what’s now become their mid-period doom idolatry. Unheralded, Novembers Doom keep exploring deeper, darker terrain. Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks, The End Records.

23. Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden (Aug. 19)

I requested a copy of this yesterday. A download. The email was ignored. Nice to be put in your place every now and again.
Foundations of Burden is unquestionably among the second half of 2014′s most anticipated albums. Arkansas-based doom four-piece Pallbearer will mark its release with extensive European and North American tours, and where their 2012 Profound Lore debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), came out and caught listeners off-guard with its unabashed emotional core, their sophomore outing finds them positioned at the forefront of American doom. Already the hype machine is rolling out the red carpet for the Billy Anderson-produced Foundations of Burden, but no one can say these guys haven’t put their work in, and the record is indeed one to look forward to. Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.

24. The Skull, TBA (TBA)

Thee Skulle.  (Photo by Ty Klingsick)
For The Skull to put out an album of original material is a unique challenge. Their earlier-2014 first single (stream/review here) found them standing up to it on the new song “Sometime Yesterday Mourning,” but at least half the point of the band since its inception has been to pay homage to legendary doomers Trouble, from whence vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson come. For their Tee Pee Records debut full-length — yet untitled and hopefully out before 2015 — it’ll be most interesting to see how guitarists Matt Goldsborough (ex-Pentagram) and Lothar Keller (Sacred Dawn) rise to the occasion of building off some of doom metal’s most celebrated tones. Fingers crossed on this one. The Skull on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.

25. Snail, Feral (TBA)

Also not the album cover.
Nothing has been formally announced yet, but on Small Stone Records‘ website, they list Snail‘s Feral among their upcoming releases. It would make a suitable pairing, the West Coast riffers having previously worked with MeteorCity on their 2009 post-reunion outing, Blood (review here), prior to independently releasing 2012′s Terminus (review here), and Small Stone seems like a good home for their fourth overall record and return to form as a trio, which was their original incarnation before their original dissolution circa 1994. How they expand on the heavier crunch of Terminus remains even more a point of fascination, and surely their cult following will be glad to find out. I know I will. Snail on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.

26. Steak, Slab City (Sept. 9)

Comics and such.
After two strong EPs in 2012′s Disastronaught (review here) and 2013′s best-title-ever-boasting Corned Beef Colossus (review here), it’s time for London stoner rockers Steak to step up their game for their Napalm Records debut full-length. The four-piece headed to the Californian desert to record Slab City, and so it’s fair to think some of that atmosphere may have worked its way into the material. Would be an awfully long way to go, otherwise. In either case, Steak have showcased considerable songwriting chops already, now it’s just a matter of sustaining it for a full album’s runtime and keeping enough variety in their approach. I have no doubt they’re ready for this next step. Steak on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

27. Stubb, Cry of the Ocean (TBA)

Obviously not the cover, this is Tony Reed's mastering sheet.
It is with simple, unabashed warm feelings that I look forward to hearing Cry of the Ocean, the second long-player and Ripple Music debut from UK riffers Stubb. They’ve traded out drummers since 2012′s self-titled (review here), bringing aboard Tom Fyfe with guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson and bassist/vocalist Peter Holland, but I’m excited to hear what changes and shifts in sound Cry of the Ocean might have in store to match its provocative title. Goes without saying the photo above isn’t the final artwork, but instead Tony Reed‘s mastering sheet from back in May when he worked on the tracks. No solid release date yet, but hopefully soon. Stubb on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.

28. Torche, TBA (TBA)

Rock. (Photo by Janette Valentine)
Torche‘s new album and Relapse Records debut was originally slated for the end of the summer. Given that no official word has come out about a title or anything like that and the members of the band have been busy with other projects, it seems unlikely as of now that they’ll hit that target, but after something of a break so frontman Steve Brooks could focus on the resurgent trio Floor, Torche are in fact getting going again, beginning with their first tour of Australia this fall. Maybe their LP will be out by the time they go and maybe it won’t, but word on the street is that whenever the thing arrives, it’s gonna be heavy, which I have no problem believing. Torche on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.

29. The Well, Monomyth (Late Summer)

Not the final art. At least I don't think it is. I guess it could be.
I’ve been waiting since the March announcement that Austin trio The Well signed with RidingEasy Records for further word of their debut full-length, Monomyth (pretty sure that’s not the cover above), but thus far to no avail. Their 2012 single, Seven (review here), was a repeat-listen thriller, and anticipation abounds for what sort of psychedelic garage riffing they’ll conjure up for the album itself. It’s been a couple months at this point, and maybe it’ll be 2015 before Monomyth gets out, but screw it, a boy can hope. The Well on Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.

30. Witch Mountain, Mobile of Angels (Sept.)

Not final cover art replaced with band photo.

Please note: The original cover art with this post was not final and has been replaced with the above band photo.

Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain have spent much of the two years following their 2012 third LP, Cauldron of the Wild (review here) on tour in the US and abroad, playing fests, headlining, supporting, but generally putting in a lot of time. As such, Mobile of Angels, which will be out on Svart in Europe and Profound Lore in North America, comes as the end product of a considerable touring cycle. Has all that gigging worn Witch Mountain into the ground, or will they rise above it with metal-loving doom-blues supremacy? They’ve got a vinyl-ready 38 minutes on tap for September and if they’ve ever been in a position to make their case, it’s now. Watch out for the killer sway in “Can’t Settle,” the title of which seems a fitting theme for the band. Witch Mountain on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.

31. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend (Sept. 2)

Well yeah. Duh. (Art by Orion Landau)
Yet again — as was the case back in January — alphabetical order forces me to end with YOB, whose seventh full-length and Neurot debut might just be my most anticipated of all on this list. The recently-unveiled Orion Landau cover speaks to a brooding sentiment, and from the one time I was fortunate enough to hear it to-date, the four-track album from the Eugene, Oregon, natives corresponds to its visual side in being a more aggressive push than was 2012′s Atma (review here), but also more exploratory and contemplative in its approach. Now statesmen in American doom and the forebears of a cosmic-minded sound, YOB stand ready to showcase a creative progression that has yet to find its end point. YOB on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.

Other Notable Mentions

Just a couple of these I’d be remiss if I didn’t note. Some were carried over from earlier this year, others just come up along the way. Not sure on all the release dates, but these are worth keeping an ear out for:

Acid King — Were listed in January, but their record has a Feb. 2015 release date.

Bright Curse — Second album recorded at Skyhammer Studios.

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth — My understanding is the album is done and they’re waiting to secure a label. Seems like a good occasion for Southern Lord to step forward, if not Profound Lore or Neurot.

Eggnogg — Not sure if it’s their full-length, You’re all Invited, or something else that’s coming, but whatever. More stoner-funk riffing needs to be had.

40 Watt Sun — There was some word of this early in the year, but nothing since.

Godflesh — Their first in 15 years, A World Lit Only by Fire, will be out Oct. 7. A fuckup not including them on the list proper.

It’s Not Night: It’s Space — Eagerly awaiting the Small Stone debut from this instrumental outfit, but it might be next year.

Karma to Burn — New album, Arch Stanton, out in August. I emailed for a review promo and never heard back. Always a great feeling.

Larman Clamor — Solo-project from Alexander von Wieding has a new one in the can, but I’m not sure on the release schedule.

Lowrider — They’re working on it, but don’t hold your breath to have it out by December.

The Machine — Kind of a slow year for Elektrohasch, but the new one from these Dutch fuzzers would be a nice way end up.

NachtmystiumCentury Media releases their final album, The World We Left Behind, on Aug. 5.

Orange Goblin — Seriously debated putting them on the list, since I know they’ve recorded, but they seem to be promoting a recent reissue of 2007′s Healing through Fire and their upcoming European tour with Saint Vitus rather than their new album, so unless news comes out about it like this week from Candlelight, I wouldn’t expect it until early in 2015.

Pink Floyd – Believe it when I see it, but I honestly couldn’t care less either way if I tried.

Ruby the Hatchet — Their full-length Tee Pee debut is due sometime in the next couple months.

Sun Voyager — Upstate NY youngsters had hinted at new recordings.

Again, if I forgot anything — and I’m sure I did — please let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

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Torche Announce Australian Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Presumably by the time Torche get on the plane to Australia in October, their new album and debut on Relapse Records will be out. Guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks has been working with the reunited Floor for much of the year so far, while drummer Rick Smith and bassist Jonathan Nuñez have recorded with their other band Shitstorm and guitarist/vocalist Andrew Elstner has an LP coming out with his other band, Tilts, so everybody’s been busy, but I guess the new Torche LP is going to squeeze in there somewhere before they go to Oz. Or not. I’m sure people would still show up for Torche‘s first Aussie tour if they don’t have a record out that week.

Life is Noise, which is presenting the run, sent the following particulars down the PR wire:

This is a good band pic. (Photo by Janette Valentine)

life is noise presents for the first time in our fair land: TORCHE (USA)

Australian Tour October 2014

From their blistering melodies to their bulldozer guitar riffs, the Miami four-piece are one of the most innovative bands in metal today, eschewing the genres’s clichés and standards for an entrancing mix of melody, sludge and jubilant doom…

No one else sounds quite like Torche.

Formed after the demise of stoner metal band Floor, Torche’s influences come from far and wide. The usual suspects are there – Melvins, Helmet, Sabbath – but the subtleties of their sound come from all over the canon: Guided by Voices, Jawbox, Superchunk and even Cheap Trick, all of it punctuated by Steve Brooks’ bellowing roar. The result is a dense and distinct wall of noise, one that’s as heavy as it is irresistibly catchy. How many other bands can you say that about?

Torche deal in anthems: every song brims with contagious hooks, rabid riffs and thunderous major-key progressions. Maybe that’s owing to the aesthetic of their beachside hometown – album number three, 2012’s Harmonicraft, was labelled “summer record of the year” by just about everyone who talked about it. But the quartet have no interest in wallowing. Every second of every song is an opportunity for high octane, unapologetic rocking-the-fuck-out.

Better yet, Torche promise their fourth album – slated for later this year on their new label Relapse Records – is heavier than ever.

We can’t wait.

Catch Torche on the following dates:

Thursday October 16 – Crowbar, Brisbane – tickets from lifeisnoise.com, oztix and the venue
Friday October 17 – Rosemount Hotel, Perth – tickets from lifeisnoise.com, oztix and the venue
Saturday October 18 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne – tickets from lifeisnoise.com, oztix and the venue
Sunday October 19 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney – tickets from lifeisnoise.com, moshtix, oztix and the venue

https://www.facebook.com/events/882736731742037/
http://www.relapse.com/label/artist/torche.html
http://tickets.lifeisnoise.com/

Torche, “Harmonslaught”

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Lo-Pan to Tour with Torche and KENmode

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

I was wondering the other day what Ohio-based fuzz rockers Lo-Pan might have up their always-busy sleeves to follow their tour with High on Fire, and then all of a sudden, here’s an announcement that they’re hitting the road for two weeks in June with Torche and KENmode. That’s a pretty badass bill, three distinctly different takes on heavy that should make for a decent complement to each other as Lo-Pan continues to refine new material like the song “Colossus,” which you can check out footage of below.

But first, the dates. Remember, this will still be before Lo-Pan‘s previously announced short stint with Gozu that caps with both bands hitting Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 in Brooklyn. Behold:

JUST ANNOUNCED! Lo-Pan will be hitting the road with our buddies Torche and KEN mode for a couple of weeks in June. All current dates listed below.

Sat/06-01 Milwaukee – The Cactus Club
Sun/06-02 St. Louis, MO – The Firebird
Mon/06-03 Cincinnati, OH – The Taft
Tue/06-04 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
Wed/06-05 Cleveland, OH – The Grog Shop
Thu/06-06 Detroit, MI – The Magic Stick
Fri/06-07 Grand Rapids, MI – The Pyramid Scheme
Sat/06-08 Toronto, Canada – Lee’s Palace
Sun/06-09 Syracuse, NY – Lost Horizon
Mon/06-10 Boston, MA – Sinclair
Wed/06-12 Providence, RI – AS220
Thu/06-13 West Chester, PA – The Note
Fri/06-14 – TBA
Sat/06-15 Washington, DC – Rock and Roll

Lo-Pan, “Colossus” live in Portland, OR 12.15.12

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Torche, Harmonicraft: Inverting the Reverse, and Vice Versa

Posted in Reviews on May 8th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Miami-based rockers Torche don’t do anything so well as they seem to delight in contradiction. Even on their third full-length album, Harmonicraft, there’s a palpable joy that comes through in the band’s defiance of the expectations placed on them. On the most superficial level, Harmonicraft is released by Volcom, where the bulk of the band’s various splits, singles and EPs have arrived via Hydra Head, and in terms of function, though the 13 songs here seem to go punch for punch with the 13 songs on 2008’s Meanderthal and wind up just a minute longer in total – 37 as opposed to 36 on the prior outing – they do so with the pivotal inclusion of a new guitarist/vocalist. Torche, who recorded 2010’s Songs for Singles EP as the three-piece of bassist Jon Nuñez, drummer Rick Smith and vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks, are joined here for the first time by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Elstner, who came aboard to fill the spot formerly occupied by Juan Montoya, currently of MonstrO. As Montoya had previously played with Brooks in seminal Floridian doomers Floor, who reunited for several shows in 2010 to celebrate a 10LP box set, his absence from Torche was significant despite the common perception that it’s Brooks doing the bulk of the writing, but Elstner fits smoothly into that role (especially vocally), and Harmonicraft shows no backward movement on the part of the band either in performance or creative scope. As ever for Torche, songwriting is paramount, and they continue to refine their blend of weighted underground metal tonality with classic pop structures, upbeat, catchy choruses and melodies. They’re a band known for offering a lot of substance in a short amount of time – indeed, several of Harmonicraft’s tracks hover below or around the two-minute mark, and that novelty has always been part of Torche’s contrarian nature as regards the tropes of doom – and these songs keep that pattern going, with a memorability factor that at points mirrors the strength of the hooks.

Sandwiched by near-manically upbeat opener “Letting Go” and the five-and-a-half-minute relative downer closer “Looking On,” the bulk of Harmonicraft settles into Torche’s creative sphere comfortably, with the band sounding confident in their presentation. The album was recorded by Nuñez and mixed by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou (High on Fire, Black Cobra, etc.), and sounds crisp and clean, and cuts like “Kicking,” which follows the opener, and the playful later arrival “Kiss Me Dudely” offer landmarks of a quality no less forceful than prior Torche high points like “Grenades” from Meanderthal, “Tarpit Carnivore” from 2007’s In Return EP (though for my money, they’ve never been that heavy before or since) or “Mentor” from 2005’s self-titled debut. These tracks are Torche at their best, and on an album like Harmonicraft, which doesn’t follow a plotted narrative – at least to my knowledge – are essential in the overall effect on the listener. Other songs seem to serve to bolster their position, like the skater-punkish 86-second blast “Walk it Off” that ups the energy following “Kicking,” leading to the more mid-paced groove of “Reverse Inverted,” or likewise, the slower, more openly-riffed “Solitary Traveler,” on which Brooks’ vocals arrive from deeper in the mix and coated in sub-psychedelic echo. One hears shades of U2 sentimentality in the lead notes of mid-album cuts like “Snakes are Charmed,” but Torche’s tonal heft is maintained through Nuñez’ bass and underscored by Smith’s tom work. Particularly without Montoya’s involvement, it’s easy to read Torche at this point as being Brooks’ band – and maybe it is, I don’t know the realities of their songwriting process – but even if that’s the case, everyone here contributes. Following the more foreboding Melvins-style chug of “In Pieces,” “Snakes are Charmed” is one more shift Torche skillfully pull off on Harmonicraft, Smith’s frantic snare on the 1:18 “Sky Trials” acting as a palate cleanser before “Roaming”’s nod-worthy groove exemplifies the mixture of influence that has come to typify the band.

Read more »

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First Impressions: Torche, Songs for Singles

Posted in Reviews, Whathaveyou on August 27th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

In the spirit of the release, I’m going to try to keep this short:

Torche songs are so easy to get excited about, because they’re actually exciting. They’re upbeat, energetic, accessible, friendly-sounding even at their heaviest. I just popped their new offering, Songs for Singles in my player for the first time, and already, I want to hang out with it. I want to sit with it and have a beer and watch the bug zapper. Eight songs in under 22 minutes isn’t the kind of numbers I usually get down with, but man, Torche kick ass with twice the efficiency of most bands.

What I like most immediately about Songs for Singles is that the first six tracks comprise half the listening time, and the last two make up the final 10-plus minutes. You’re through “U.F.O.” before you know it, and “Lay Low” is only 51 seconds long, so that’s barely started before it’s done, but “Shine on My Old Ways” seems to change the pace, and by the time “Face the Wall” comes on, you feel like you just hit it. The wall, that is.

If you dug the dreamy pop aspects of Meanderthal, you’re probably also going to drool over Songs for Singles, as even on the slower “Face the Wall” and six-minute capper “Out Again,” that element of their sound is a constant. There aren’t any über-heavy guitar bombs, and as “Out Again” stretches the instrumental section that gradually fades to close the record, it’s apparent that what Torche like playing with in their sound is the sometimes massive, sometimes sweet contrast. Right now, they’re doing it better than anyone else.

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Torche to Explore Singularity this September; Classy Album Art Revealed

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 2nd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

This site seems awfully Torche-centric lately, with the Floor coverage (lackluster though it was — the coverage, that is) and the Meanderthal Demos writeup, but there’s word through the PR wire that they’ve got a new album out on Hydra Head September 21, so it’s only right to post said news in this space, which I think I’ll do right now:

Songs for Singles, Torche‘s upcoming addition to a six year stretch of well deserved lionization within the world of progressive metal, is basically a super solid collection of singles (though I’m pretty sure the title actually refers to one’s legal interpersonal status) written by, and therefore in, the instantly appealing songwriting style developed by the band…

You, just like me, have probably been waiting patiently for some new material since Meanderthal! If so, I’m honored to be the one to publicly confirm that new material is on its way! If you are one of those in need of an education on the subject, Songs for Singles will still find a way into your day to day… reason being… everyone’s Summer needs a jam (debate it) and Songs for Singles will be hitting shelves just in the nick of time!

Torche, Songs for Singles:
01 “U.F.O.”
02 “Lay Low”
03 “Hideaway”
04 “Arrowhead”
05 “Shine on My Old Ways”
06 “Cast into Unknown”
07 “Face the Wall”
08 “Out Again”

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Buried Treasure and the Six Dollar Pink Cassette

Posted in Buried Treasure on June 17th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

On my most recent trip there, the dude behind the counter of Wallingford, Connecticut‘s Red Scroll Records pretty much had me pegged. I don’t know if it was the shirt I was wearing (I don’t remember which it was, but all I wear are band shirts, so it could have been anyone) or what, but shortly after I walked into the store, the strains of the aforementioned Dopesmoker by Sleep started coming through the stereo system. I guess I’m an easy mark.

As most of my previous excursions to Red Scroll have been, this one was successful, yielding used records from The Gates of Slumber, Quitter, Slough Feg, reissues of the first two Enslaved albums (also used), recent comedy records by David Cross and Eugene Mirman and, as I stood at the register, like a candy bar at a grocery store checkout, a six dollar pink cassette of Torche‘s Meanderthal Demos.

Of course, I was psyched at the CD haul, but the Torche went in first. I buy cassettes because I have a tape player in my car and I feel like if I don’t use it, I’m somehow missing out on an opportunity. The Patient Mrs. thinks this is ridiculous, and she’s a little right. I enjoy the absurdity, and in the case of Torche‘s Meanderthal Demos, I was stoked to hear the band’s material in a rawer form, since, though the finished album was enjoyable, it was also incredibly polished, production-wise.

Getting to hear the roots of songs like “Grenades” and “Across the Shields” was both interesting and exciting, since it sounded good and was a cool experiment for the ears in this new context. The songs are different, obviously less developed, but enjoyable anyway, and though Torche‘s capable grasp of melody is present, there’s more edge to the demos that makes them sound a little rougher than Meanderthal itself. In other words: right fucking on.

A pink cassette is a little more hip irony than I usually allow myself to engage in, but whatever, it sounds good and it only cost six dollars, so I’d be a bigger asshole for not hearing it. And it was worth every penny, since the tracks still show off Torche‘s high-quality songwriting in their rudimentary form. I didn’t expect to come out of Red Scroll having just paid six dollars for a pink cassette, but it wound up being the highlight of the trip and something I’ve gone back to for multiple listens already. All hail the impulse buy.

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Torche Got Robbed by Assholes

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 18th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

I know I’m taking a pretty strong stand here, and that my opinion might be controversial, but I have to say it: I am AGAINST robbing bands on tour. I don’t think it’s right, and I don’t think it’s the way nature intends mankind to behave.

There, I said it. I feel better. Really.

In all seriousness, you’ve got to be one serious fuckhead to rob a band on tour. Especially a band like Torche. I mean, go ahead, steal Saliva‘s shit. They didn’t pay for it, half those cabinets are empty, and they suck anyway. But to rob Torche while they’re sleeping after a show? That’s a special brand of asshole.

Here’s a note from the band via the PR wire:

After our Chicago show at the Congress Theater on May 14 between 1:30AM and 4:00AM our van was broken into while parked in front of Goethe Elementary and a bunch of equipment was stolen. Items taken include music equipment, personal items/luggage, band/personal checkbook, cameras, laptop, and passports.

The following items were taken:
* Custom Electrical Guitar Company bass w/hardcase #220
* First Act custom bass w/hardcase serial number # JN-0901002
* Black Gibson Custom Les Paul w/SKB hardcase
(has chip on the top L side of headstock, visible neck repair on top side of the neck,
may have missing paint opposite vol and tone knobs if sticker was removed).
* Custom woodfinish guitar w/hardcase
* Acoustic 370 Bass Head
* 2 x SKB PS25 pedal boards
* 2 x Boss tuning pedals
* MXR Phase 90
* Boss DD5 pedal
* Boss guitar EQ pedal
* Custom 3 way amp selector (metallic blue)
* Fulltone OCD pedal
* Aguilar Tone Hammer pedal
* Boss Bass EQ pedal
* Shure Beta 57
* Misc Mogami, Monster, and George L’s cable
* Suitcase style 7 space guitar stand
* Black iPod Touch
* Black Compaq Presario laptop
* Nikon Blue Coolpix camera
* Sony CyberShot camera
* Garmin 205W GPS
* Black Luggage containing: tubes, guitar strings, instrument cables, speaker cables, tuning pegs, surge protectors.

If you know anyone in the Chicago area we’d appreciate any help in spreading the word.

Thanks,
Torche

Since the band had their passports stolen and are unable to join Coheed and Cambria and Circa Survive in Canada, Torche have assembled some last-minute house shows until they’re able to meet back up with the tour. Please go out and support the band, and if you’re feeling extra generous, you can make a donation here.

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Torche Continue Their Never-Ending Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 23rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Yeah, sure, Torche have just launched on a month-long US tour — nothing really new there — and I guess Hydra Head is going to issue the split they did with Boris, but the below info from the PR wire (oh, PR wire, how I missed you) also subtly drops the news that the band just finished a new recording. Doesn’t say of what sort, EP, LP or other, but whatever Torche has got that’s new is fine by me. Check it out:

Kicking off this week, Miami‘s Torche will head out on a month-long US tour supporting Coheed and Cambria and Circa Survive. The tour will span both coasts, travel throughout the Midwest, and head to select cities in the Great White North.

In addition, Torche and Hydra Head have announced the band’s new split release with Boris, Chapter Ahead Being Fake, which will see the light of day on June 29th on 10″ vinyl.

And since teasing is our sort of our thing, the band just finished self-recording their next batch of hits for release late August 2010… but we’ll tell you more about that later…

Torche live w/ Coheed and Cambria and Circa Survive:
04/22/10 Charlotte, NC. @ The Fillmore Charlotte

04/23/10 Atlanta, GA. @ Tabernacle

04/24/10 Lake Buena Vista, FL. @ House of Blues (Orlando)
04/25/10 Lauderdale, FL. @ Revolution

04/27/10 Houston, TX. @ Warehouse Live

04/28/10 Austin, TX. @ Stubb’s BBQ
04/29/10 Dallas, TX. @ Palladium Ballroom
04/30/10 Tulsa, OK. @ Cain’s Ballroom
05/01/10 Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom

05/03/10 Tempe, AZ. @ Marquee Theatre

05/04/10 Pomona, CA. @ The Fox Theatre
05/05/10 San Francisco, CA. @ The Warfield

05/07/10 Portland, OR. @ Roseland Theater

05/08/10 Seattle, WA. @ Showbox SoDo
05/10/10 Murray, UT. @ Murray Theater
05/11/10 Denver, CO. @ Ogden Theatre
05/13/10 Minneapolis, MN. @ First Avenue
05/14/10 Chicago, IL. @ Congress Theatre
05/15/10 Royal Oak, MI. @ Royal Oak Music Theatre
05/17/10 Boston, MA. @ House of Blues
05/18/10 Montreal, QC. @ Metropolis
05/19/10 Toronto, ON. @ The Sound Academy
05/22/10 Philadelphia, PA. @ The Electric Factory
05/26/10 New York, NY. @ Rumsey Playfield
05/27/10 Washington, DC. @ 9:30 Club
05/28/10 Washington, DC. @ 9:30 Club
07/31/10 Chicago, IL. @ Subterranean * no Coheed or Circa Survive

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Floor Interview with Anthony Vialon: The Band Gets Their 10LP Exclamation Point

Posted in Features on February 11th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

You know the old saying: “If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing across eight CDs.”

Long-since defunct Floridian doomers Floor, from whose cranium sprang forth the mighty Torche the kids love so well, have taken the above maxim to heart with their new box set, Below and Beyond. Available through Robotic Empire either as 10LPs (and one 7″) or eight CDs, plus digital downloads, it is as huge a project as a band could take on. As bassist Anthony Vialon informs in his first interview since parting with the band in 2003, it was quite an undertaking.

Vialon was a founding member of Floor, alongside guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks, and there is palpable emotion in his voice when he talks both about being kicked out of the band and about putting together Below and Beyond and the prospect of playing Floor‘s several upcoming reunion shows in Miami and Gainsville, Florida, and Atlanta, Georgia. He remarked at several points during our discussion that he was nervous and, having removed himself completely from the music industry over the better part of the last decade, out of practice. Nonetheless, he was remarkably open about his experiences both positive and negative with Floor and genuine in his appreciation of the growing interest in his former outfit.

Floor‘s Below and Beyond is due out next month, and the live shows are set to encompass material with multiple drummers, including Henry Wilson (who was instrumental in putting the box set together and in the band from 1997 till their breakup in 2004), Jeff Sousa (1994-1996) and Betty Monteavaro (1992-1993). Vialon explains it all in his Q&A after the jump.

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Fact: Torche Love Making Videos

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 24th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’d have to go back and check the archives, but I’m relatively certain it was only like three weeks ago that Floorida (get it? Because Steve Brooks used to be in Floor? Ah, screw you guys) doom poppers Torche put out a video for “Across the Shields.” Fine, it was May. Even so, May to July is awfully damn quick for a band to be doing another. Maybe it’s because their songs are short so it doesn’t take much time to shoot them. Probably not.

In any case, here’s Torche‘s new video for “Healer” from the 12″ of the same name and last year’s Meanderthal, directed by David Kleiler, from MTV.com. Enjoy.

Fuck that shit.

NOTE: As I was getting ready to finalize this post, I clicked play on the embedded video and found an ad for some fucking skin cream or something. Simply put, fuck that shit. No way I’m putting a video on my site with a god damn commercial in it that I’m not getting paid for. That’s called being a sucker. Bad enough MTV would put an ad in front of a video for a two-minute song, but then to expect other people to host it too? Get fucking real. Soon as “Healer” hits YouTube or somewhere that isn’t going to try and sell me something to get rid of pubescent acne, I’ll host it. Meantime, the video’s on the MTV site if you want to go find it. You’ll get no link from me.

Here’s a live version of the song instead:

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Are Torche Doom?

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Whathaveyou on May 6th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster

I know I dig them well enough, and they’re way, way heavier on stage than they are on plastic, but are Floridian Hydra Head rockers Torche a doom band? They certainly fit into the realm of underground, semi-stoner metal, but I keep reading about them being doom pop or whatever and I’m not sure if I consider them doom at all, but something else entirely. Just something to think about while you enjoy the new video for “Across the Shields” from last year’s Meanderthal above. Any thoughts, please weigh in with a comment.

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