Irata Premiere “Tower” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

irata

The other day as I made my usual rounds of social media perusal and dicking around not getting anything done, I came across a post — don’t even remember who it was, so don’t ask — griping about how awesome Helmet used to be and why don’t they make bands like that anymore and so on. Well, okay. That’s one way to look at the universe. Yeah, they were cool in their day. On the other hand, fucking Irata. The North Carolinian four-piece made their debut on Small Stone in April with Tower, their second album overall, and if what you’re looking for is to hear a band belting out full-tilt riffs with an emphasis on rhythmic groovemaking, they’ve got you covered — plus melody. Tower is eight songs/39 minutes, and the title-track, with lead vocals from drummer Jason Ward, go-crush guitar work from Cheryl Manner and Owen Burd and low-end force from Jon Case is just the very beginning of what’s on offer on the album that shares its name. And not just because it’s the first track, either. Whether it’s the proggy winding of “Waking Eye” or the wistful guitar melody in “Innocent Murmur,” the Jane’s Addiction-meets-Torche vibe of “Weightless” or the spacier nuance in the early going of “Crawl to Corners,” there’s more dynamic on display throughout Tower than, frankly, anyone bitching about how “they don’t make bands like Band X anymore” probably deserves. Who gives a shit? They make bands like Irata.

Shades of prog metal work their way into side B leadoff “Leviathan” and the harmonies find their most righteous manifestation in closer “Constellations,” but somehow Irata‘s prevailing atmosphereirata tower still seems to be in straight-up heavy rock. They’re grounded in structure, but Manner and Burd have a fluid and often subtle interplay on guitar — the second half of the finale is a fitting example, but the if-you’re-going-to-have-two-guitars-then-use-them-both ethos applies just as well to “Innocent Murmur” and other tracks surrounding — and with the variety in the arrangements of vocals and periodic bouts of thrust like that at the outset of “Waking Eye,” Tower is able to keep its audience guessing in terms of just where the band are headed, something which wouldn’t be possible without Ward‘s drums as an anchor for the material structurally. In the turns of “Waking Eye” and the jabs of the penultimate “Golden Tongue,” the drums provide the flow over which the guitars and bass are able to so effectively careen, giving the vocals an all-the-more solid foundation even as that foundation seems so intent on movement throughout. Dynamic is the word, and chemistry is for sure a factor as well, but whether it’s the fuzzed airiness of “Weightless” or the insistent and deep-weighted apex of Ward‘s synth at the beginning of “Leviathan,” there’s a sense of control in Irata‘s material that only lends consciousness to the creativity of their songwriting — the choices they make in terms of transitions, vocals, etc.

All of this comes together to make Irata‘s sound something of a modern amalgam, definitely drawing from ’90s alternative rock but filtering that through heavy impulses born of the current generation of riffy practitioners of various stripes. It’s a combination that works and still sets Irata up for further growth down the line. I’m not saying it’s revolutionary, but I am saying it knows exactly what it’s doing, and that’s rare enough in itself.

And to the original point, this is a thing that’s happening right now. Wouldn’t you rather make future nostalgia than lament the past?

While you’re thinking about it, here’s a video premiere for “Tower” to smack you upside the head.

Enjoy:

Irata, “Tower” official video premiere

“Tower” is the title track from Irata’s 2019 LP of the same name. Shot in 2018 on location in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

IRATA
Jon Case – bass, vocals
Jason Ward – drums, vocals, synth
Cheryl Manner – guitar
Owen Burd – guitar

Irata on Thee Facebooks

Irata on Bandcamp

Irata website

Small Stone Records website

Small Stone Records on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

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Live Review: Desertfest NYC Night Two, 04.27.19

Posted in Reviews on April 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Windhand (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Well — not to be confused with the Austin, Texas, band of the same name — is around the corner from where The Acheron used to be in Brooklyn and there still stands The Anchored Inn as a congregation point. I was there for not the day’s first cup of coffee before day two of the inaugural Desertfest NYC kicked off back at the venue. It was cloudy and the air was chilled — April in New York — but by the time Electric Citizen were done, the sun was out and would remain so for the bulk of the day. That helped all the more since the main stage was outside.

A large tent was erected on an expansive enclave of a patio space. In back was the merch area, seating at picnic tables and along the other side there was a bar, taco stand, and the raised shipping container up some stairs that had been converted to a backstage lounge, complete with deck. The vibe was immediately relaxed and cool, with another bar inside and the second stage, in a smaller room off to the side of The Well‘s main corridor. My first time in the space, and it seemed ready for the event from its basic structure to the tent outside, though if Desertfest NYC is going to be an annual event, they’ll need a bigger one.

The afternoon kicked off soon enough, but though the venue switched from the Saint Vitus Bar the evening prior, the mood around was much the same. It was something Ron Holzner of The Skull would effectively summarize in saying, “About damn time we had a European festival come to the States. A sign of good things to come.” One hopes he’s correct in the foresight.

It was a packed nine-band day, mostly alternating back and forth between the stages, and it went vaguely like this:

Electric Citizen

Electric Citizen (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It had been a few years since I last caught Ohio heavy rockers Electric Citizen, but their 2018 album, Helltown (review here), was a stripped down and switched on groover that at the same time offered the band’s most developed sense of melody yet, so yes, it was something to look forward to. I don’t think they were helped by the early slot, but with the bill as stacked as it was, there wasn’t really anywhere else to put them. There was, fortunately, a good crowd to start the day off, and that only grew in number as the RidingEasy Records five-piece went on, their sound pulling elements from cult rock, glam, doom and proto-metal in order to create a brew that’s readily familiar and nuanced at the same time. They played as a five-piece, with keys alongside the guitar, bass, drums and vocals, and frontwoman Laura Dolan noted from the stage that this was their sendoff for a European tour. They’ll spend the month of May in the UK and EU, playing Desertfest in London and Berlin as well as other dates before and after. They sounded ready to go, to say the least.

Tower

Tower (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Immediately after Electric Citizen wrapped on the main stage, the second stage launched with the classic metal stylings of Tower, who continue a tradition of gritty NY homage to the NWOBHM and early thrash that goes back pretty much to when that sound was current. There’s always been a place for that stuff in New York, and Tower represented well what Brooklyn has done in the wake of bands like Early Man in the last decade and Natur and others in this one, two guitars blazing to coincide with the first off-stage frontperson of the weekend — presumably not the last, though one never knows — and a riotous stage presence that all the more justified that spillover onto the floor. They were probably the most metal act of the day, but still well accessible to the Desertfest NYC crowd. I’ve made the argument a thousand times at this point that classic metal is the domain of the heavy underground. Tower were another notch in favor of that position, and they effectively captured the spirit of the metal to which they were paying homage via their material. Not unfamiliar, but that’s the point.

Danava

Danava (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Back on the main stage, Portland, Oregon, stalwarts Danava answered such metallurgy with a bit of boogie, a bit of NWOBHM dual-guitar action, and a lot of soul. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Danava a couple times over the years, and though my initial impression of them wasn’t positive, they’ve proven consistent in terms of the high-quality of their work on stage and off — my initial impression, in other words, was wrong. The simple fact that they haven’t put a record out in eight years and continue to get booked on shows like Desertfest NYC and Psycho Las Vegas, where they’ll play the pool party in August, should speak volumes to their continued relevance, and though they had the At Midnight You Die single (review here) out through Tee Pee in 2016, you would have to say they’re due for a record. Overdue. But they killed. Founding guitarist/vocalist Gregory Meleney warned the crowd before they played what was presumably a new song, “Nothing but Nothing,” that they might screw it up, but by all appearances they nailed it, which was basically the case for their entire set.

The Skull

The Skull (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Yeah, I know The Skull is Ron Holzner and Eric Wagner from Trouble, and I know they’ve got Rob Wrong from Witch Mountain on guitar alongside Lothar Keller and they’ve got Brian Dixon from Cathedral on drums (though it was Chad Walls for this show). They’ve got all that, and I won’t take away from anyone’s pedigree whatsoever. But you know what else The Skull have? Songs. Songs. Songs. They’ve got songs that are memorable. Songs that stay with you after you put the album down and move onto the next thing. Songs that, when they play them on stage, you go, “Oh shit yeah, this song!” as I did when they launched into “When the Sun Turns Black” from their 2014 debut, For Those Which are Asleep (review here) and the title-track of last year’s follow-up, The Endless Road Tuns Dark (review here). Stage presence is a factor, of course, and if you’re going to call anyone in American doom a supergroup, it’s probably fair to do so for The Skull, but whatever they do, their foundation is there in the songs, and it’s the songs that carry them most of all. They were and are the best example I can think of for a band building something new out of a storied legacy.

Worshipper

Worshipper (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Boston’s Worshipper packed the second stage room beyond capacity — there was a line out the door to get in — and played like a band who are about to release one of the best records of the year, which they are in the form of their second album, Light in the Wire (review here). They opened with “Visions from Beyond” and “Coming Through” from that offering and gave a preview of what they’re soon to take on the road in Europe with their Tee Pee labelmates in The Skull — they too will be at Desertfest‘s London and Berlin editions — as guitarist John Brookhouse and bassist Bob Maloney proffered dead-on vocal harmonies on material new and old, guitarist Alejandro Necochea tore into leads and offered more harmony alongside Brookhouse‘s guitar, and drummer Dave Jarvis pushed the entire thing forward, grounding the psychedelic stretches and keeping momentum on their side, which it was for the duration. They were the band I was most looking forward to in the lineup for the day, particularly in light of their new album, and they very clearly played to the momentousness of the occasion at the first American Desertfest. It was the kind of thing I’ll be glad to have seen.

Weedeater

Weedeater (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Some technical trouble with the bass amp before Weedeater went on, but plenty of shenanigans to fill the time and bassist/vocalist “Dixie” Dave Colins spat out auctioneer’s chatter and lines like “crack rocks” and “wow, wow, mom” in checking the mic. The North Carolinian trio — Collins, guitarist Dave “Shep” Shepherd, drummer Ramsey Ateyeh (I think; someone please correct me if I’m wrong) — are on a forever-tour, their last record, Goliathan (review here), having come out in 2015, but they absolutely packed that tent and people went apeshit for them to the point that, when I went into the photo pit later for Windhand, the barricade had moved up in front of the stage to the point that there was no more access to the other side. Weedeater do nothing but deliver, and I know Dixie is kind of playing to character, but dude is working from the moment he hits stage to the moment he leaves. He’s the James Brown of sludge, and Weedeater‘s legend has grown all the more over their nearly-25-years because of that. They played the songs they always play, they kicked ass like they always do, and they proved once more that there’s only ever been and there only ever will be one Weedeater. Accept no substitutes.

Mirror Queen

Mirror Queen (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Let’s face it: you’re never going to beat Weedeater at their own game. Luckily for all involved, Mirror Queen were on a different wavelength entirely. Their progressive-tinged classic heavy rock is a staple of New York’s underground, and with guitarist/vocalist Kenny Sehgal‘s dual-role as the head of Tee Pee Records, their inclusion was all the more fitting. The four-piece, with Morgan McDaniel on guitar, James Corallo on bass and Jeremy O’Brien on drums, bounced and careened through a set that acquitted them well with the Desertfest crowd — doubly fortunate since they’ll be in Berlin soon enough — and asked nothing by way of indulgence while bringing to bear material of melody and weight that wanted neither in perspective or delivery. Mirror Queen have been around, and have had their share of lineup turnover, but the band as they are now was only engaging, and to those familiar with them and not in the crowd, they were a return to consciousness after the bash over the head that the main stage had just delivered. Heavy rock and roll is always welcome, and Mirror Queen were a fitting reminder why.

Windhand

Windhand (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Like Weedeater before them, like Black Cobra the night prior and like Monolord and Elder to follow the next day, Windhand were not an unknown quantity, but for a festival brand feeling its way out in a hard city, they made perfect sense for the bill, and their doom was absolutely massive in the tent that held the main stage. I had been thinking after The Skull played that there was no doom left for anyone else — and certainly Windhand‘s 2018 album, Eternal Return (review here), had more going on than just that — but the Richmond, Virginia, four-piece managed to scrape enough together in order to feel like they were burying the crowd alive in low end. I will gladly argue for Windhand as being among the most important bands of their generation, particularly for those who’ve come up since and have taken influence from the sense of atmosphere they bring to their material in the studio and on stage, and though they had a hard act to follow on the main stage, they lived up to even the mighty expectations that are placed on them at this point wherever they go. They are a headlining band, full stop. They’ve worked hard to become one, and they deserve every bit of significant acclaim they’ve garnered over the years, while still sounding like they want nothing more than to move forward.

Steak

Steak (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Ambassadors from London’s populous heavy underground, Steak were nothing short of a refreshing way to close out the night. They’ve been a staple act of Desertfest London, which guitarist Reece Tee is also involved in organizing via Desertscene, as he was with Desertfest New York, so like Mirror Queen, they also had a family connection to the proceedings, but even their soundcheck drew a crowd keyed in to the fuzz tone and heavy roll they let loose. They were not halfway through the first song before frontman Chris “Kippa” Haley was standing on the front-of-stage riser, and he’d spend a goodly portion of the set up there, toasting the crowd and personifying the entire band’s really-glad-to-be-here mood, which was infectious. They too packed out the second stage room and held the crowd for the duration, begging a revisit for 2017’s No God to Save (review here) and showing off the development in their dynamic since which is set to manifest on their next record, due out before they play Keep it Low in Munich this October. Seeing them live for the first time in I don’t even want to count how many years only made me look forward to that more, whenever and however it might actually show up, and for the first Desertfest New York, they hit stage like a mission statement of what the festival brand is all about, from top to bottom. It was right on and then some.

It was not a small amount of day. As of now, it’s about two hours until it’s time to get back on the road from New Jersey to Brooklyn for the third and final round with Desertfest New York. The weather thus far seems to be uncooperative, but we’ll see how it all pans out this afternoon. Shower first. Shower first.

That’ll be good.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Irata Announce Tower out May 24 on Small Stone; Title-Track Streaming; Touring in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

IRATA
As Irata stream the title-track of their upcoming album, Tower, they don’t seem to give away an awful lot about the record itself. After all, it’s only 2:45, but in context of the full LP, maybe they are sending a few signals after all. That runtime, for example, is already shorter than anything that appeared on 2015’s second album, Sweet Loris, and it introduces the fullness of tone with which they’re working as well as some of the basic influences driving them. It’s also the opener, so “Tower” is what Irata wanted to put forward on Tower, as well as what they thought they should name the album after. So it’s quick, but it does offer some information about the record.

Subsequent tracks — not that I’ve heard it or anything — are longer and touch on a variety of progressive elements classic and modern, metal and rock, but as an introduction to what’s coming, “Tower” ends up doing just fine. I’m saying I don’t think you’re gonna hear it and complain. Unless you stub your toe in that two-plus minutes or something. Or the egg salad has gone bad. Whatever.

Irata, to go with the news that Tower exists, has a song streaming, and will be released May 24 on Small Stone, also have a bundle of tour dates for March including a stop by SXSW for Small Stone‘s showcase — legendary fuzz and shenanigans — as well as the Stoner Jam that all the cool kids will be at. You should go to both. You’re awesome. They’ll let you in.

From the PR wire:

irata tower

IRATA: North Carolina Heavy Rock Unit Joins Small Stone Records For The Release Of Tower; Band To Play Small Stone SXSW Showcase + Additional Tour Dates Announced

Small Stone Records is pleased to welcome Greensboro, North Carolina-based heavy rock unit IRATA to their expanding roster of riff-heavy eminence. The band will release their Tower full length this May.

Issues the band of the union, “We are thrilled to be teaming up with a label that supports so many talented bands. We are happy to be a part of the Small Stone family.”

Since its 2007 genesis at the hands of founding members Jon Case (bass, vocals) and Jason Ward (drums, vocals), this Greensboro, North Carolina outfit has mutated restlessly, moving from its initial morphine-infused heavy fusion through math-y metal and finally to the soaring, technical heavy rock of its current approach. Over those dozen years, IRATA has made its presence known in metal and hard rock circles throughout the Southeast and beyond. Thanks to its growth from a trio with guitarist Cheryl Manner to a four-piece with the addition of guitarist Owen Burd, IRATA is evolving yet again.

With Burd’s talents on guitar, vocals, and trumpet added to what had already felt like a complete equation, IRATA is pushing itself to new vocal and instrumental heights. Accordingly, its upcoming LP Tower applies impressive musicianship and complex textures to increasingly approachable tunes that teeter between hard rock and prog-metal. It’s like the sports car version of Don Caballero.

Tower was recorded in vaunted hometown studio Legitimate Business and produced by All Them Witches guitarist Ben McLeod, with co-production by Legit Biz engineer and heavy metal mastermind Kris Hilbert. Flavors of Mastodon, Kylesa, Helms Alee and Sandrider mix with Smashing Pumpkins-reminiscent textures and clarion Perry Farrell-style vocals, creating a heavy palette that is both innovative and familiar.

Additional info on IRATA’s Tower, including preorders and teaser tracks, will be available in the coming weeks. In the meantime, IRATA will kick off a short stretch of live dates next month. Set to commence March 8th in Asheville, North Carolina and run through March 16th in New Orleans, Louisiana, The Rising Sun Tour includes a performance at Small Stone’s special SXSW showcase March 13th alongside their new labelmates Tia Carrera, Irata, La Chinga, Sundrifter, Dwellers, and The Cold Stares. See all confirmed dates below.

IRATA – Rising Sun Tour:
3/08/2019 Odditorium – Asheville, NC
3/09/2019 Maggie Meyers Irish Pub – Huntsville, AL
3/10/2019 Growlers – Memphis, TN
3/11/2019 Double Wide – Dallas, TX
3/12/2019 Over Flow Festival @ Super Happy Fun Land – Houston, TX
3/13/2019 Small Stone SXSW Showcase @ Lamberts – Austin, TX
3/14/2019 Spider House Stoner Jam – Austin, TX
3/15/2019 The Mix – San Antonio, TX
3/16/2019 Santos – New Orleans, LA

IRATA
Jon Case – bass, vocals
Jason Ward – drums, vocals, synth
Cheryl Manner – guitar
Owen Burd – guitar

http://www.facebook.com/iratabandofficial
https://iratalive.bandcamp.com/
https://www.iratalive.com/
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.smallstone.bandcamp.com

Irata, Tower (2019)

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Desertfest New York 2019 Makes Final Lineup Announcement; Here Lies Man, Fatso Jetson, Black Cobra, Heavy Temple, Steak & More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest new york 2019 banner

Desertfest New York 2019, the first one ever, has completed its lineup for this April. Taking place at The Well and Saint Vitus Bar, the three-night event will be headlined by Black CobraWindhand and Elder and will boast newly-announced performances from SteakHigh Tone Son of a BitchHeavy TempleTowerGreen Milk from the Planet OrangeDuelSun VoyagerFatso Jetson and others. It was always going to be a stacked bill, and well, it’s worked out to be a stacked bill. Obviously the Desertfest brand, with history in London, Berlin, Athens and Antwerp, are no strangers to putting on an event, and as Desertscene and Sound of Liberation partner with NY-based Tee Pee Records, there was really no way this was going to be a flop, and it looks like it won’t be.

Calendar’s marked.

Here’s the final lineup:

desertfest new york 2019 poster

THE 1ST DESERTFEST NEW YORK

FULL LINE-UP + DAY SPLITS ANNOUNCED FOR DF NYC – BLACK COBRA, WEEDEATER, HERE LIES MAN, ASG + MORE

Taking place at Saint Vitus Bar on Friday 26th April and The Well on Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th April, please welcome to the bill:

• black cobra
• Weedeater
• Here Lies Man
• ASG
• Ruby the Hatchet
• FATSO JETSON
• Electric Citizen
• HTSOB
• Steak
• Mick’s Jaguar
• DUEL
• Heavy Temple
• TOWER
• Green Milk From The Planet Orange
• Sun Voyager

Unfortunately, we also have to announce that The Atomic Bitchwax can no longer play due to touring conflicts, along with Cali rockers Dommengang. Both band conflicts were out of our control, but we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

2-day weekend passes for ‘The Well’ shows only (Sat + Sun) are still available via www.desertfest.nyc

3-day passes which include access to Saint Vitus on Friday are SOLD OUT

Desertfest NYC will take place at Saint Vitus Bar on Fri 26th April & The Well on Sat 27th April + Sun 28th April

https://www.facebook.com/events/339417893540336/
https://facebook.com/Desertfestnyc/
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_nyc/
http://www.desertfest.nyc/

Green Milk from the Planet Orange, “Phoenix”

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Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3: Two-Day SXSW Event Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

The formidable likes of PentagramWeedeaterBongzillaBlack CobraKings DestroyLo-Pan, Mondo DragVenomous MaximusToday is the Day and many more will take part in Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 this March in Austin, Texas, as part of SXSW. A two-day event clustered in the madness that is the Texan capitol that week, Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 is set for March 18 and 19 at The Lost Well, just north of 7th St., and far enough off 6th that if you happen to be in town for SXSW, it’s an easily-enough justified walk (stumble) by the righteousness of those on the bill. You might as well just camp outside the venue to be sure you get back there on the second day.

Or, you know, fall asleep in the gutter, because that’s kind of how it goes at SXSW, or at least it was the last time I was there. Though you can’t deny the wide reach of Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 in bringing in its headliners from around the Midwest and East and West Coasts, it’s worth pointing out the particular attention paid to supporting local acts, among them Texan outfits like Venomous Maximus — who reportedly have a new album coming this year — as well as BanquetSweat LodgeDestroyer of LightFrom Beyond and so on. Cheers to American Icon Presents for making sure all sides are represented.

Lineup follows here, in case you’d like to drool or book a flight or book me a flight, you know, whatever:

heavy metal parking lot 3 poster

HEAVY METAL PARKING LOT 3

Day 1 -Fri Mar 18
WEEDEATER ( Exclusive Performance )
BONGZILLA
Kings Destroy
Black Cobra
Author and Punisher
Today is the Day
Lord Dying
Lo Pan
Against the Grain
Widower
Slurr
Thunderkief

Day 2 – Sat Mar 19
PENTAGRAM ( Exclusive Performance)
Mondo Drag
Venomous Maximus
Sweat Lodge
The Blood Royale
Tower
Sabbath Crow

SPECIAL GUESTS
Destroyer of Light
Banquet
From Beyond
Greenbeard

Day 1 and Day 2 tickets Purchased Separately
Sponsored by American Icon Records (A.I.R)

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/heavy-metal-parking-lot-3-day-1-weedeater-bongzilla-tickets-20491750377
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/heavy-metal-parking-lot-3-day-2-pentagram-tickets-19813562900
https://www.facebook.com/events/430113890521968/
https://www.facebook.com/AmericanIconpresents/
https://www.facebook.com/AmericanIconRecords/

Pentagram, “When the Screams Come” live at A.I.R. Expo

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