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Quarterly Review: Crippled Black Phoenix, Zed, Mark Deutrom & Dead, Ol’ Time Moonshine, Ufosonic Generator, Mother Mooch, The Asound, Book of Wyrms, Oxblood Forge, The Heavy Crawls

Posted in Reviews on January 2nd, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk winter quarterly review

Now having spanned multiple years since starting way back in 2016, this Quarterly Review ends today with writeups 51-60 of the total 60. I’ve said I don’t know how many times that I could go longer, but the fact of the matter is it would hit a point where it stopped being a pleasant experience on my end and I’d rather keep things fun as much as possible rather than just try to cram in every single release that ever came my way. Make sense? It might or it might not. I can’t really decide either. From the bottom of my heart though, as I stare down the final batch of records for this edition of the Quarterly Review, I thank you for reading. Let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Crippled Black Phoenix, Bronze

crippled black phoenix bronze

Nine albums and just about 10 years on from their 2007 debut, A Love of Shared Disasters, the UK’s Crippled Black Phoenix arrive on Season of Mist with the full-length Bronze and remain as complex, moody and sonically resolute as ever. If we’re lucky, they’ll be the band that teaches a generation of heavy tone purveyors how to express emotion in songwriting without giving up the impact of their material, but the truth is that “Champions of Disturbance (Pt. 1 & 2),” “Deviant Burials,” “Scared and Alone” and take-your-pick-from-the-others are about so much more depth than even the blend of “heavy and moody” conveys. To wit, the spacious post-rock gaze of “Goodbye Then” gives a glimpse of what Radiohead might’ve turned into had they managed to keep their collective head out of their collective ass, and the penultimate “Winning a Losing Battle” pushes through initial melancholia into gurgling, obtuse-but-hypnotic drone before making a miraculous return in its finish – then closer “We are the Darkeners” gets heavy. Multi-instrumentalist, founder and chief songwriter Justin Greaves is nothing shy of a visionary, and Bronze is the latest manifestation of that vision. One doubts it will be the last.

Crippled Black Phoenix on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Zed, Trouble in Eden

zed trouble in eden

Nothing shy about Trouble in Eden, the third full-length from San Jose heavy rockers Zed and second for Ripple Music. From its hey-look-guys-it’s-a-naked-chick cover to the raw vocal push from Pete Sattari –which delves into more melodic fare early on “The Only True Thing” and in rolling closer “The Mountain,” but keeps mostly to gruff grown-up-punker delivery throughout – the 10-tracker makes its bones in cuts like “Blood of the Fallen” and the resonant hook of “Save You from Yourself,” which are straightforward in intent, brash in execution and which thrive on a purported “rock the way it should be” mentality. Well, I don’t know how rock should be, but ZedSattari, guitarist Greg Lopez, bassist Mark Aceves and drummer Rich Harris – play to classic structures and seem to bring innate groove with them wherever they go on the album, be it the one-two punch of “High Indeed” and “So Low” or the Clutch-style bounce in the first half of “Today Not Tomorrow,” which leaves one of Trouble in Eden’s most memorable impressions both as a song and as a summary of their apparent general point of view.

Zed on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Mark Deutrom & Dead, Collective Fictions Split LP

mark deutrom dead collective fictions

Limited to just 200 copies on We Empty Rooms and Gotta Groove Records, the Collective Fictions split 180g LP between Melbourne noise duo Dead and Mark Deutrom (Bellringer, Clown Alley, ex-Melvins) is a genuine vinyl-only release. No digital version. That in itself gives it something of a brazen experimentalism, never mind the fact that one can barely tell where one track ends and the next track starts. Purposeful obscurity? Maybe. It’s reportedly one of a series of four LPs Dead are working on for the next year-plus, and they present two cuts in “Masonry” and “In the Car,” moving through percussion and mid-range drone to build a tense jazz on the former as drummer Jem and bassist Jace make room for the keys and noise of BJ Morriszonkle, which continue to play a prominent role in “In the Car” as well, which is also the only inclusion on Collective Fictions to feature vocals, shortly before it rumbles and long-fades snare hits to close out Dead’s side of the LP, leaving Deutrom – working here completely solo – thoroughly dared to get as weird as he’d like. An opportunity of which he takes full advantage. Over the course of four tracks, he unfurls instrumentalist drone of various stripes, from the nighttime soundscaping of “The Gargoyle Protocol,” which seems to answer the percussive beginning of Dead, through the spacier reverb loneliness of “Presence of an Absence,” like a most pastoral, less obtuse Earth, dreamy but sad in a way that denotes self-awareness on the part of the title, or at very least effective evocation thereof. Likewise, “Bring the Fatted Calf,” with its gong hits, Master Musicians of Bukkake-style jingling and minimalist volume swells, is duly ritualistic, which makes one wonder what the prog-style keys at the open of “View from the Threshold” are looking at. Deutrom moves through that side-closer patiently but fluidly and ends at a drone, tying up Collective Fictions as something of a curio in intent and execution. By that I mean what seems to have brought the two parties together was a “Hey, wanna get weird?” impulse, but each act makes their own level and then works on it, so hell yes, by all means, get weird.

Mark Deutrom website

Dead website

 

Ol’ Time Moonshine, The Apocalypse Trilogies

ol time moonshine the apocalypse trilogies

Any record that starts with a narration beginning, “In the not too distant future…” is going to find favor with my MST3K-loving heart. So begins The Apocalypse Trilogies: Spacewolf and Other Dark Tales, the cumbersomely-named but nonetheless engaging Salt of the Earth Records debut full-length from Toronto’s Ol’ Time Moonshine, whose 2013 The Demon Haunted World EP (review here) also found favor. The burl-coated outing is presented across three chapters, each beginning with its own narration and comprising three subsequent tracks – trilogies – tying into its theme as represented in the cover art by vocalist/guitarist Bill Kole, joined in the band by guitarist Chris Coleiro, bassist John Kendrick and drummer Brett Savory. They shift into some more complex fare on the instrumental “Lady of Light” before the final chapter, but at its core The Apocalypse Trilogies remains a (very) heavy rock album with an undercurrent of metal, and whatever else Ol’ Time Moonshine bring to it in plotline, they hold fast to songwriting as the most crucial element of their approach.

Ol’ Time Moonshine on Thee Facebooks

Salt of the Earth Records webstore

 

Ufosonic Generator, The Evil Smoke Possession

ufosonic generator the evil smoke possession

Italian four-piece Ufosonic Generator (also stylized as one word: UfosonicGenerator) make themselves at home straddling the line between doom and classic boogie rock on what seems to be their debut album, the eight-track The Evil Smoke Possession, released through Minotauro Records. Marked out by the soaring and adaptable vocals of Gojira – yup – the band offer proto-metal shuffle on shorter early cuts “A Sinful Portrait” and the rolling nod of “At Witches’ Bell,” but it’s the longer pairing of “Meridian Daemon” (7:47) and “Silver Bell Meadows” (6:53) on which one finds their brew at highest potency, sending an evil eye Cathedral’s way without forgetting the Sabbathian riffery that started it all or the Iron Maiden-gallop it inspired. They cap with the suitable lumber of their title-track and pick up toward the finish as if to underscore the dueling vibes with which they’ve been working all along. Ultimately, the meld isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but it does pay homage fluidly across The Evil Smoke Possession’s span, and as a debut, it sets Ufosonic Generator forward with a solid foundation on which to progress.

Ufosonic Generator on Thee Facebooks

Minotauro Records on Bandcamp

 

Mother Mooch, Nocturnes

mother mooch nocturnes

Issued digitally in late-2015 and subsequently snagged for a 2016 vinyl issue through Krauted Mind, Nocturnes is the debut full-length from Dublin five-piece Mother Mooch, and in its eight tracks, they set their footing in a genre-spanning aesthetic, pulling from slow-motion grunge, weighted heavy rock, psychedelic flourish and even a bit of punk on the shorter, upbeat “My Song 21” and “L.H.O.O.Q.” Those two tracks prove crucial departures in breaking up the proceedings and speak well of a penchant on the part of vocalist Chloë Ní Dhúada, guitarists Sid Daly (also backing vocals) and Farl, bassist Barry Hayden and drummer Danni Nolan toward sonic diversity. They bring a similar sensibility to the closing Lead Belly cover “Out on the Western Plain” as well, whereas cuts like opener “This Tempest,” “Into the Water” and “Misery Hill” work effectively to find a middle ground between the stylistic range at play. That impulse, seemingly innate to their songraft, is what will allow them to continue to develop their personality as a band and is not to be understated in how pivotal it is to this first LP.

Mother Mooch on Thee Facebooks

Krauted Mind Records website

 

The Asound, The Asound

the asound self titled

To my knowledge, this only-70-pressed five-song tape release is the second self-titled EP from off-kilter North Carolina heavy rockers The Asound following a three-songer back in 2011 (review here). Offered by Tsuguri Records, the new The Asound starts with its longest track (immediate points) in the 6:54 “Moss Man” and touches on earliest, most righteous High on Fire-style brash, but holds to its own notions about what that that blend of groove and gallop should do. Through splits with Flat Tires (review here), Magma Rise (review here), Lenoir Swingers Club (review here) and Mark Deutrom (review here), the trio of Guitarist/vocalist Chad Wyrick, bassist Jon Cox and drummer Michael Crump have always had an element of the unpredictable to their sound, and that’s true as centerpiece “Human for Human” revives the thrust of the opener coming off “Controller”’s less marauding rhythm, but the sludgy rollout and later airy lead-work of “Pseudo Vain” and chugging nod of closer “Throne of Compulsion” speaks to the consciousness at play beneath the unhinged vibes that’s been there all along. They’ve sounded ready for a while to make a full-length debut. They still sound that way.

The Asound on Thee Facebooks

Tsuguri Records website

 

Book of Wyrms, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

book of wyrms sci-fi fantasy

Immediate bonus points to Richmond, Virginia’s Book of Wyrms for titling a track on their full-length debut “Infinite Walrus,” but with the Garrett Morris-recorded tones they proffer with the seven-song/53-minute Sci-Fi/Fantasy (on Twin Earth Records), they don’t really need bonus points. The five-piece of vocalist Sarah Moore Lindsey, six-stringers Kyle Lewis and Ben Coudriet, bassist Jay Lindsey and drummer Chris DeHaven mostly avoid the sounding-like-Windhand trap through stretches of upbeat tempo, theremin and other noise flourish, and harmonies on guitar, but they’re never far from an undercurrent of doom, as opener “Leatherwing Bat” establishes and the long ambient midsection and subsequent nod of centerpiece “Nightbong” is only too happy to reinforce. “All Hallows Eve” gets a little cliché with its samples, but the dueling leads on 11-minute closer “Sourwolf” and included keyboard noise ensure proper distinction and mark Book of Wyrms as having come into their first long-player with a definite plan of action, which finds them doing well as a showcase of potential and plenty immersive in the here and now.

Book of Wyrms on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Oxblood Forge, Oxblood Forge

oxblood forge self-titled

Despite the sort of cross-cultural ritualism of its cover art, Oxblood Forge’s self-titled debut EP has only the firmest of ideas where it’s coming from. The Whitman, Massachusetts-based five-piece boasts former Ichabod vocalist Ken MacKay as well as bassist Greg Dellaria from that band, and guitarist Robb Lioy (also in Four Speed Fury with MacKay) alongside guitarist Josh Howard and drummer Chris Capen, and in a coherent, vigilantly straightforward five-tracker they touch on aggressive fare in “Lashed to the Mast” as their Northeastern regionalism would warrant – we’re all very angry here; it’s the weather – and demonstrate a knack for hooks in “Inferno” and “Sister Midnight,” the latter blending screams and almost Torche-style melodies over clam chowder riffing before closer “Storm of Crows” opens foreboding with Dellaria’s bass and moves into the short release’s nastiest fare, MacKay sticking to harsher vocals as on the earlier “Night Crawler,” but in a darker instrumental context. They set a range here, and might be feeling things out in terms of working together as this band, but given the personnel involved and their prior familiarity with each other, it’s hard to imagine that if a follow-up is in the offing it’ll be all that long before it arrives. Consider notice served.

Oxblood Forge on Thee Facebooks

Oxblood Forge on Bandcamp

 

The Heavy Crawls, The Heavy Crawls

the heavy crawls self-titled

Ukrainian trio The Heavy Crawls set out as a duo called just The Crawls and released a self-titled debut in 2013 that was picked up in 2015 by ultra-respected German imprint Nasoni Records. Under the new moniker, they get another stab at a first album with the 10-track/42-minute classic rocker The Heavy Crawls, the three-piece of founding guitarist/bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Max Tovstyi, drummer Inessa Joger and keyboardist/vocalist/percussionist Iryna Malyshevska evoking spirited boogie and comfortable groove on “She Said I Had to Wait” and the handclap-stomping “Girl from America.” Elements of garage rock show up on “Too Much Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the soul-swinging “I Had to Get Away,” but The Heavy Crawls are more interested in establishing a flow than being showy or brash, and the payoff for that comes in eight-minute closer “Burns Me from Inside,” which stretches out the jamming sensibility that earlier pieces like the organ-laced “One of a Kind” and the staccato “Friday, 13th” seem to be driving toward. Some growing to undertake, but the pop aspect in The Heavy Crawls’ songcraft provides intrigue, and their (second) debut shows a righteous commitment to form without losing its identity to it.

The Heavy Crawls website

The Heavy Crawls on Bandcamp

 

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On Wax: Mark Deutrom & The Asound, Mini-Skirt/The Chief of Thieves Split 7″

Posted in On Wax on December 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

mark-deutrom-the-asound-split-a-cover-vinyl

Austin-based Mark Deutrom and North Carolinians The Asound team up for a split 7″ released through Tsuguri Records, the imprint helmed by Asound bassist Jon Cox. One track from each outfit is included, Deutrom — who has a new band going called Bellringer (more on them to come) and has collaborated with no shortage of others but is probably best known for playing bass in the Melvins during their Stoner Witch era — tossing in a quick, punkish burst of an A-side in “Mini-Skirt,” while The Asound let their riffs breathe a little more on side B with “The Chief of Thieves,” a steady roll captured raw and suited to the 7″ form. Sound-wise, it’s not so different from their recent live split with Lenoir Swingers Club (review here), but the output is clear enough to indicate a studio recording, even if it’s one still punk enough to warrant the black and while cover art on the 7″ sleeve — a traditionalism well suited to both inclusions.

mark-deutrom-the-asound-split-b-cover-vinylDeutrom reportedly recorded “Mini-Skirt” at the same time he tracked the jazzy solo offering Brief Sensuality and Western Violence (review here), and with Aaron Lack on drums, what might’ve been left off the record on account of not fitting sonically earns a distinctive place here via thickened shuffle and unceasing forward motion. Easy enough to be reminded of Butthole Surfers and the Melvins both, but “Mini-Skirt” makes its point in the unflinching, almost garage-sounding nature and in its quick-turning solo culmination. Where the record from whence it doesn’t come was a headier affair, “Mini-Skirt” is simple and decidedly anti-progressive, a sprint put to tape. It contrasts effectively with The Asound‘s “The Chief of Thieves,” which keeps to a slower pace, but the two find common ground in their rougher-edged production an in the density of their tones, the fervency of their crash and the efficiency with which they deal out their riffing.

Guitarist/vocalist Chad Wyrick leads the proceedings for The Asound, with Cox and drummer Michael Crump following the lurching groove set by the guitars more or less for the duration. It’s a riff worth basing a song around, and even the solo section in the second half seems to base its rhythm around that same movement, the vocals by then having dropped out to let the band get to the heart of the matter. No question the B-side is longer than the A, but in the context of what they’re doing, Wyrick‘s singing over the wailing distortion recalling some of Floor‘s appeal in combining doom and more accessible sonic forms, I don’t think I’d call “The Chief of Thieves” less productive than its companion, only going for — mark deutrom the asound split coversand, I’d argue, hitting the mark — on a different side of the same style. The Asound end after all that rolling on a quick-fading feedback that calls to mind the constraints of the format. That is, there’s nothing sonically to make me think that riff couldn’t have gone on another seven minutes or so.

But then it would be an entirely different kind of release — and Deutrom would probably need more than one song — so I’ll instead take the tight-packed grooves on the platter itself to stand as a visual metaphor for what “The Chief of Thieves” has to offer during playback. The 7″ is limited to 200 copies in green or black vinyl, and while it might be a stopgap for both parties concerned, it also asks next to no indulgence on the part of its audience and easily proves worth the time it takes to listen.

Mark Deutrom & The Asound, Split 7″ (2014)

Mark Deutrom website

Mark Deutrom on Bandcamp

The Asound on Thee Facebooks

The Asound on Bandcamp

Tsuguri Records website

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Patheticism, Patheticism: Go Forth and Wreck up the Place

Posted in Reviews on January 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The only one to surface of the six tracks included on the Tsuguri Records sort-of-reissue of Patheticism’s demo in any official way is the opener, “Go Get Jaguar,” which was included on the 2003 Destroysall: A Tribute to Godzilla compilation alongside heavy hitters like Rwake, Solace and Negative Reaction. Beyond that, the North Carolina four-piece never put out a record and reportedly sold this material at gigs, but never got it distributed or attached to a label for a genuine release. Had these tracks been recorded today instead of a decade ago, Patheticism would probably throw them up on Bandcamp and count whenever the upload finished as the release date, but in 2003, that was less of an option, so 10 years after the fact, Patheticism frontman Jon Cox has issued the abrasive and obscure sludge outfit’s only material a second look on his Tsuguri imprint. Cox, who handles the vicious screams heard throughout the EP/demo’s 20 minutes, is something of a figure in North Carolina’s sludge lineage – not just with the mining operation he runs in reissuing stuff through Tsuguri – but also for spending the mid-to-late ‘90s fronting Seven Foot Spleen (their Reptilicus post-script was issued through the label in 2010; review here), to which Patheticism bassist Scott Cline can also be traced (the two also played in Stone of Abel). Cline, now in Flat Tires who also shared a 2010 split with Cox’s more straightforwardly rocking unit The Asound, served a tenure in Mountain of Judgment with Patheticism drummer Dave Easter, and though the only member of Patheticism I haven’t been able to track more info on is guitarist Cory, chances are he was or is in one or more of these bands too, since that’s just kind of how it goes. Similar to what’s played out over the last couple years as Ohio’s sludge scene has settled into one of the country’s most seething, North Carolina had a similar period in the wake of Buzzov*en, whose nihilistic viscosity shows up in some of Patheticism’s angrier stretches, as on the second track, “Shit Ritual.” It’s also worth noting that the six songs included on the original demo that has become Patheticism’s self-titled EP were recorded in a basement in late 2002 and that the quality of sound reflects that. Personally, I enjoy sludge more with a harsh production value, but I also know that not everyone feels that way. Fair warning.

And that’s really how Patheticism’s lone recording should arrive: With a warning. Because of the lo-fi factor, they’re not as thick as they could be or probably were live in terms of prevalent low-end from Cline, so Patheticism winds up more biting than lumbering at times, a sharp feel permeating the songs even as the tempo varies from the faster thrust of “Go Get Jaguar” to the plodding opening section of “’77 Told the Truth,” which could just as easily have served as a model for Dopefight with its initial stonerly groove and more upbeat, punkish second-half, topped with Cox’s sore-throatery. Most of the time, they’re somewhere between, as Cline opens “Go Get Jaguar” and “Shit Ritual” both with a bassline that Cory soon joins on guitar and the nastiness gets underway with little ceremony and much furor. Their roots prove more toward the punk side than metal, their fuckall in the Eyehategod tradition but still caustic a decade after the fact. They don’t make the 20 minutes easy on the listener, but the grooves that Easter punctuates on his snare in “Shit Ritual” could qualify as a hook, provided the band had any interest whatsoever in accessibility. If “’77 Told the Truth” is anything to go by, they don’t, and the ensuing “Eat Shit Pie,” however familiar the lumber might prove to some who hear it, isn’t much friendlier, coated in buzzsaw fuzz and full-on tonal mud. At 4:07, “Eat Shit Pie” is one of the longer songs on Patheticism – only the opener surpasses it (immediate points) – and the feel is somewhat less raw than that of a song like “Shit Ritual,” but to anyone outside the immediate crust-loving sludge base who might hear it, noise is going to be noise. The fact that after they meander into a long-seeming instrumental break, Patheticism bring the verse of “Eat Shit Pie” back around for one last go – a genuine display of traditional songwriting – is outshined by the trough of vomit they’ve already dug on the three tracks prior. That said, if there was potential in Patheticism to climb out of their primordial sonic ooze, it’s “Eat Shit Pie” that shows it.

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audiObelisk EXCLUSIVE: Magma Rise/The Asound Split 7″ Available for Streaming

Posted in audiObelisk on July 28th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Traditional doom heathens will recognize the names Gábor Holdampf and Kolos Hegyi, or at least the formidable Hungarian outfits from which they come — Wall of Sleep and Mood. Re-teamed in the four-piece Magma Rise, they follow last year’s Lazy Stream of Steel full-length with the track “Five” on a multi-continental split 7″ with North Carolinian rockers The Asound.

And while we’re talking familiarity, The Asound should ring bells with anyone who stops by this site regularly, since they’ve been reviewed twice now (here and here). It’s seems like a curious pairing at first — a Hungarian doom outfit and American heavy rockers — but both bands make off with some righteous riffery, and The Asound even slow their tempos a bit from their past offerings and match Magma Rise for doomly stomp. Seriously, “The Baron” pretty much marches.

The split is a joint release between Tsuguri and PsycheDOOMelic, and since I have reviewed The Asound twice in the span of 13 months, I thought hosting the tracks for streaming might be time well spent for anyone who hasn’t yet checked them out. If you’ve missed Magma Rise too up till now, you’ll definitely want to hit up “Five” on the player below, as it also rules. Dig it:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

The Asound/Magma Rise split is out now in a limited edition of 500 7″ vinyl. Special thanks to Tsuguri Records (website here) and PsycheDOOMelic (website here) for letting me stream the tracks.

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Looks Like the Transcendental Maggot’s Kid Has a Chip on His Shoulder

Posted in Reviews on June 1st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Many moons ago, there was a compilation called Transcendental Maggot. It was released on Meconium Records and boasted, among a slew of grinding noise acts, contributions from Sourvein and Benümb. That was 2001. Fitting enough, then, that 10 years later, on Tsuguri Records – the new name of the label helmed by Jon Cox of Seven Foot Spleen – there should appear the 20-track, 67-minute slaughterfest Son of the Transcendental Maggot with songs from the likes of Russian stoner punkers The Grand Astoria, North Carolinian psychedelic mavens U.S. Christmas and Atlanta sludge dwellers Sons of Tonatiuh. There are a total of 13 bands for 20 songs, and along with the familiar names – the aforementioned, plus The Wayward, who once proliferated their tech-punk mayhem in the form of a 2006 self-titled via Black Box Recordings, the label founded by Mike Hill, now of Tombs – there are a host of lesser-known acts, among them Oakland chuggers Pigs, the remarkably under-produced Ahleuchatistas, Akris, Enoch, Yellowthief, Yuugen Syndrome and Shit and Shine.

It is, if nothing else, a diverse gathering, but what draws the bands on Son of the Transcendental Maggot together is a consistency of rough production – even the U.S. Christmas track is a demo – and basic element of amplifier worship. More exploratory acts like the tech-jazz Yellowthief (who submit six tracks for a total 6:12 run time, more than half of which is dedicated to the last one, dubbed “Gzilimpur Gbgda?a”) and Ahleuchatistas, whose guitarist Shane Perlowin also contributes the subdued opening cut, “Buried Histories,” are offset by some of the more straightforward material. The Grand Astoria submit an Ash Ra Tempel cover of “Light: Look at Your Sun,” and U.S. Christmas’ 2009 demo of “Fonta Flora,” which later showed up on the much-heralded Run Thick in the Night full-length, provides a moment of subtle psychedelic build. Theirs is the longest cut on Son of the Transcendental Maggot by nearly two full minutes. On the other hand, the later-arriving spastic grind of Yuugen Syndrome’s “JAAJAN” is unsettling nestled between Enoch’s “Robbie’s Song” and Sons of Tonatiuh’s two donations, “Consumed” and “Chain Up the Masses.” It’s just two minutes, but it’s not an easy two minutes by any stretch.

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The Asound Are up Here on Another Wave, Covered in Hair

Posted in Reviews on January 24th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

When last heard from, North Carolinian rock trio The Asound were splitting their time with the more punk-fueled Flat Tires on a Tsugiri Records 7”. The label, run by The Asound bassist Jon Cox, now presents his band on a three-song self-titled CD EP. Their riff-led material is still rough sounding as it was last time, but taken on its own context, i.e. without another band on the release, it’s no harsher than any number of underground bands, the guitars of Chad Wyrick managing to come through just fine.

The first two tracks of The Asound’s The Asound will be familiar to anyone who heard the Flat Tires split… because they’re the same. Both “Joan” and “Snow White” appeared on the prior release, the change they’re getting here being mostly as regards format. The louder I play it, the less I care about the production quality of “Joan” (funny how that works), the low-end groove taking hold for the 4:50 duration and drummer Michael Crump’s kit bearing a no-doubt-coincidental sonic likeness to that on the last Goblin Cock record, or at least sounding no worse. Vocals are handled by Wyrick, who shows a Josh Homme influence in his clean delivery (not a complaint) and isn’t shy either about adding the occasional scream to the mix. As “Joan” plays out, Cox’s progression reminds some of Sleep, but if there’s a direct comparison to be made to another band, it’s got to be likening “Snow White” – the shortest track on The Asound at just 2:17 – to “Monsters in the Parasol” from Queens of the Stone Age’s classic Rated R. At least in its opening section, The Asound’s track is an almost direct port, if sped up, of the Homme-penned LSD paean, though to be fair, the trio don’t persist in the likeness, taking the structure to someplace else entirely.

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Seven Foot Spleen, Reptilicus: Sludge in the Blood

Posted in Reviews on December 6th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

The 19-track collection Reptilicus on Tsuguri Records serves not only as an overdue closing note from grinding North Carolinian sludgers Seven Foot Spleen, but also a reintroduction as well. The crusty five-piece, which featured in their ranks guitarist Chad Davis, who would go on to form Hour of 13 and play in US Christmas (as well as others), broke up after the release of their 1999 Tee Pee Records debut, Enter Therapy, which means it’s been at least a decade since they were last heard from, and in that time, the bands with whom they shared the stage – acts like Buzzov*en and Grief, for whom show fliers appear in the Reptilicus liner notes also featuring the Seven Foot Spleen logo – have been elevated to godlike influential status. Seven Foot Spleen don’t go back that far. They started in 1994, long enough to have heard Eyehategod and Grief 7” releases, but what separates Seven Foot Spleen is that their songs are (mostly) shorter, grippingly aggressive, and as much owed to crusty hardcore as to sludge, standing closer to that side of the line than that of doom or the other riffly metals.

Frontman Jon Cox has a throaty, consistent shout throughout these songs, recorded in various stages of the band between 1995 and 1998, and though Seven Foot Spleen seems to operate in different modes, either fast or slow – anger is a constant – Davis and fellow guitarist Chad Wyrick mostly lead the way. The production throughout most of Reptilicus is rough, the cymbals on “Power” (recorded in 1997) sound like a drum machine, though they’re credited to drummer Josh Martin, and there are times where bassists Scott Cline and Keith Bollck (who were in the band at separate times) are all but inaudible. But the raw sound is part of the charm of a release like this. If you heard Seven Foot Spleen before Reptilicus, then it’s a collection you’ll enjoy for the memories it brings up and for the wealth of previously unreleased material. If you’re a stranger to the band and a sludge-head, you’ll dig it for the now-vintage sound.

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Flat Tires vs. The Asound: Easy Money for the Betting Man

Posted in Reviews on June 25th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Having never encountered either Flat Tires or The Asound (which I assume is like the sound, but opposite), I reveled in the chance to check out this Flat Tires vs. The Asound split 7” single on Tsuguri Records, and all the more so once I saw the Jeff Clayton (The Antiseen) cover art, which has Sasquatch fighting a giant eagle on it. If there’s a more perfect metaphor for the current state of affairs in our nation, folks, I don’t know what it is.

Both bands call North Carolina home, Flat Tires in Hickory and The Asound in Connelly’s Springs, so they have that in common. The Asound have a more straightforward riff rock approach and are the younger of the two bands, having formed in 2009, whereas Flat Tires, for all four and a half minutes (two songs) of material they present here, affect a well-established aesthetic combining outlaw country and hardcore punkabilly that’s quick, to the point, and on Flat Tires vs. The Asound, really, really misogynist. Take that, ladies.

Flat Tires opens with “G D Woman,” on which vocalist Clint Harrison, sounding like a combination Hank III, Unknown Hinson and drunken uncle, threatens in the direction of some female, “Get out of my face or I’ll have to punch you in your face,” which I found neither charming nor humorous. The band behind Harrison (Bryon Smallwood on guitar, Jeremy Godfrey on drums and Scott Cline on bass) rocks furious and fast in a heavy honky tonk ZZ Top kind of way on “Crybaby,” which is topped with more lyrical ladybashing, the chorus being, “Cry baby, cry baby, whine, whine, whine.” Uh huh. Okay.

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