Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
London heavy rockers Oak have issued Oak II, their aptly-titled follow-up to their self-titled debut EP (review here), which came out late last year. Like that release, the new four-tracker is available now as a name-your-price download via the band’s Bandcamp page. I haven’t seen anything about a physical release for either EP, or both together for that matter, or anything else, but Oak seem to be making their way toward these things one step at a time, and I look forward to digging into these new tracks to hear what they’ve been up to for the last seven months.
Art and release info follow, courtesy of the PR wire, Bandcamp, and the social medias:
We’re proud to announce that we’ve just released another batch of 4 tunes for you to enjoy. Several sets of strings, a few drumsticks and a studio loudspeaker have given their lives during the making process of this EP. So we’re hoping you’ll have as much of a blast listening to it, as us making it.
Recorded over a weekend in London’s Kore Studios back in May, Oak II sees the band take on a heavier, more focused sound with the new addition of Clinton Richie on drums.
Formed in the summer of 2015, London stoner rockers Oak have just released Oak II, the follow up to November 2015’s debut EP Oak.
The band combine desert rock grooves with fuzzed out 70s inspired hard rock and have spent 2016 gigging – sharing the stage with bands such as Elephant Tree, Welsh uber-dudes Sigiriya and Black Lung from the USA.
Oak II tracklisting: 1. Mirage 05:36 2. Against The Rain 05:41 3. A Bridge Too Far 06:30 4. Smoke 05:48
Andy Valiant: Lead Vocals Kevin Germain: Guitars, Backing Vocals (tr. 1 & 2), Talk Box Voice Scott Masson: Bass, Backing Vocals (tr.3), Talk Box Guitar Clinton Ritchie: Drums
All songs by Oak Engineered, mixed and mastered by Kevin Germain Artwork by Unexpected Specter
[Click play above to stream a premiere of ‘Supernothing’ from Slomatics’ new album, Future Echo Returns, out Sept. 2 on Black Bow Records.]
One can only wonder if it felt like going home when Belfast’s Slomatics showed up at Skyhammer Studio to record their fifth album, Future Echo Returns, with producer Chris Fielding. The fit between engineer and band is remarkable, and in addition, it furthers an alliance between the Northern Irish sans-bass double-guitar trio and Fielding‘s own outfit, Conan, with whom Slomatics released a split in 2011 (prior to Fielding joining; review here), and whose Jon Davis co-owns Skyhammer and runs Black Bow Records, through which Future Echo Returns is released. The two acts share a decent amount of common intent, both geared toward consuming tones and lumbering rhythm, and Conan has acknowledged at several points that Slomatics — who made their debut in 2005 — were an influence.
That’s audible throughout Future Echo Returns as it was through its predecessor, 2014’sEstron (review here), but brought out even more through the Skyhammer recording, though Slomatics continue their own sonic development throughout the included seven tracks/40 minutes as well, bringing a spacious feel to go with all that crushing guitar via keyboard and synth flourish and by pushing forward with a melodic range that so much stood the last record out from its surroundings, as one can hear on the harmonized album-apex “Supernothing,” as well as in the key work on the earlier “Electric Breath,” which follows the rolling instrumental opener “Estronomicon” to begin a flow that continues all the way through 10-minute closer “Into the Eternal.”
The link between “Estronomicon” and the title of the prior outing is no accident either. Rather, after Estron and the record before it, 2012’s A Hocht, Future Echo Returns is the third in something of a narrative trilogy, recently described by guitarist Chris Couzens — joined in the band by guitarist David Marjury and drummer/vocalist Marty Harvey — as a kind of moment of resignation or acceptance of one’s fate. Clearly the end of a story, but still vague enough to be left open to interpretation. That actually suits the vibe of Future Echo Returns, which only seems to offer more to dig into on repeat listens, and which weaves into and out of songs with the fluidity of book chapters so that “Estronomicon” builds into the start of “Electric Breath,” which cuts off so the chugging opening riff of “In the Grip of Fausto” can pick up on the beat, and so on.
Having an instrumental opener nearly five minutes long also has a hypnotic effect on the listener, so that when the vocals kick in on “Electric Breath,” it’s a readjustment of head space, and that feels purposeful as well. Slomatics are toying with their audience somewhat, and at this point they have the command to do it. “Electric Breath” and “In the Grip of Fausto” both offer choice hooks, and the ease with which the band shifts into different methods of expression becomes a big part of Future Echo Returns‘ personality, as shown already with the key-laden ending to “Electric Breath,” and in the move from “In the Grip of Fausto” to the quiet atmospheric guitar and synth of “Ritual Beginnings,” a six-minute instrumental that develops some movement within its ambient context but departs boldly from the heft that surrounds it on all sides.
Still brooding and foreboding as it starts to thud into its last minute, “Ritual Beginnings” is the presumed closer of side A (also the CD/digital centerpiece), and leads into the crashing “Rat Chariot,” which may or may not feature guest vocal spots from both Fielding and Jon Davis in its second half, introduced by a break from the roll soon enough to resume and hit a particularly memorable peak that keeps going even as it fades out into the sudden jolt at the start of “Supernothing.” Again, the penultimate track on Future Echo Returns is also the apex, while “Into the Eternal” comes across as something of a denouement for this series of three albums, and it’s also the most melodically resonant chorus they offer, Harvey‘s voice harmonized in post-Floor form, as opposed to some of the Black Cobra-ish style on “In the Grip of Fausto” or “Rat Chariot.”
It’s a moment of arrival, and very much sounds like it. A slower progression only enhances the sense of grandeur, and though it’s only four minutes long, “Supernothing” leaves one of the album’s most lasting impressions, complemented by “Into the Eternal” after it, which picks up (again, on the beat) with an initial stretch of choral keys leading to a mostly instrumental lumber that moves through its runtime with similar tonal entrancement as “Estronomicon” but is airier in its midsection guitar lead and in some swaying non-lyric vocals (also harmonized) that reinforce the feeling of resignation the song is intended to convey. It’s not a riotous, unhinged finish at all, and neither is it intended to be. It’s the graceful conclusion of a longer arc that has covered the last four-plus years, and if Future Echo Returns is really the final installment of that story, “Into the Eternal” makes for a gorgeous finish. The sense of continuity it brings is all the more appropriate considering the breadth it shows and how it ties the whole album together, completing a triumph writ large over the entire span.
Posted in Reviews on June 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
This one’s for all the marbles. Or at very least tiddlywinks. The last day of The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review begins. I’ll admit that when I was planning this out — started soon after the last Quarterly Review was finished in early April; that one ran late, this one has run early — I decided to take it easy on myself the last day. Still 10 reviews, so not that easy, but in terms of what’s included today, a lot of is stuff I feel pretty comfortable talking about, whether it’s bands I’ve covered before (which a lot of it is, now that I look at the list) or whatever. If you’ve been keeping up this week, thanks. I hope you found some cool music.
Quarterly Review #41-50:
From the Finnish hotbed of Tampere, Atomikylä made a striking impression with their 2014 Svart Records debut, Erkale (review here), giving a take on psychedelic black metal that was immediately and truly their own in its balance of elements. The band, featuring members of Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu, return with doom-jazz fervor on sophomore full-length, Keräily, with three songs covering yet-unnamed stylistic reaches and offering a get-to-the-studio-and-see-what-happens experimentalism to go with their plotted course on 18-minute opener and longest track (bonus points) “Katkos,” which is followed by the building horn freakout “Risteily” (9:15), from which a space rock push takes hold on drums, resulting in maddening guitar swirl – because of course – and closer “Pakoputki” (6:55), which consumes with a darker thrust and more up-front blackened vibe that still holds onto some of the psychedelia in its layers of guitar. Keräily progresses effectively from Atomikylä’s debut and highlights just how individualized they are as a group. They continue to have the potential to do really special work, and the argument is easy to make they’re already doing it.
As opener and longest track (bonus points) “Beasts of Prey” careens toward its apex finish near the 12-minute mark and the title-track begins is crashing, harmonized intro before moving into an Alice in Chains-via-stoner verse, the distance Poland’s Sunnata cover on their second full-length, Zorya, begins to really unveil itself. There doesn’t seem to be a genre within the heavy sphere that’s off limits. They never get into death metal, but heavy rock, doom, psychedelia, prog, sludge – it’s all in play at one point or another in Zorya’s five-track/50-minute run. The reason the album works and isn’t just a haphazard mash of styles is because Sunnata, who’ve been active in Warsaw since the last decade, make each one their own and thus bend genre to suit their purposes and not the other way around. They continue to impress through the rush of “Long Gone,” the airy expanse of “New Horizon” and the more brooding closer “Again and Against,” conjuring effective flow from what in less capable hands would be disparate components.
I have kind of a hard time with White Dynomite. Not musically – the Boston five-piece’s new EP, Action O’Clock (on Ripple) typifies their accessible punk rock; a reminder of a time when the style used guitars – but conceptually. Their lineup features bassist Tim Catz and vocalist Craig Riggs (on drums) of Roadsaw, as well as guitarist Pete Knipfing (also Hey Zeus, Lamont), vocalist Dave Unger and guitarist John Darga, and while I can’t argue with the charm of a track like “Werewolf Underwear” or “Evil Ballerina” — the lyric “Tutu woman, too too much for me” alone makes Action O’Clock worth the price of admission, let alone “I got fangs in my pants” from “Werewolf Underwear” – but I haven’t yet been able to listen to the band in the context of it having been six years since the last time Roadsaw released an album, and thinking about years passing, priorities and whatnot. They sound they’re having a blast all the way through, and I won’t begrudge them exploring other influences, I guess I just miss that band.
Pittsburgh newcomers Horehound formed just last year, so one might go into their self-titled debut full-length thinking it’s an early arrival, but in an unpretentious seven-track/33-minute collection of straightforward but engaging doom rockers, the five-piece demonstrate a clear idea of what they want to do sonically. While it may not represent where they’ll ultimately end up as a band, its songs sound fleshed out in terms of direction and the resultant feel on the release is much more album than demo. So be it. A particular highlight is “The Waters of Lethe,” on which a sweeter melody emerges in the guitar and vocals, but neither will I discount the low-end crunch and vocal call-and-response in closer “Waking Time” or the more uptempo thrust of second cut “Sangreal.” Not that Horehound don’t have room to grow, but their initial offering preaches well to the converted and should give them a solid foundation to work from in that process.
Beyond the Hollow Mountain is the first full-length from Portuguese mostly-instrumentalists Sulfur Giant, who bring together influences from classic progressive rock, psychedelia and heavy rock so that when they dip into Iommic riffing on “Vertigo,” it’s no stranger than the peaceful jamming of “Whisper at Dawn,” which follows. Friendly if not exactly innovative, Sulfur Giant’s debut makes its chief impression with the four-piece’s instrumental chemistry, which brings about an easy flow within and between the eight tracks, which having already been issued digitally will see vinyl release later this year on Pink Tank Records. It’s hard to ignore what organ adds to “Evermore,” but “Sea of Stone” sneaks in some vocals amid its thicker-riffing and Sungrazer-style exploration, and “Magnolia” and the galloping “Unleash Fears” follow suit, so Sulfur Giant have a few tricks up their collective sleeve they hold back from the initial roll and gallop of the opening title-track. All the better.
New Planet Trampoline, Dark Rides and Grim Visions
Never say never in rock and roll. From Cleveland, Ohio, the psych-rocking four-piece New Planet Trampoline called it quits in 2008, leaving behind an unfinished album. After coming back together for 2014’s The Wisconsin Witch House EP, the ‘60s-stylized outfit set themselves to the task of finishing what became Dark Rides and Grim Visions, basking in the glow of early Floyd, Beatles and others of the ilk while keeping a harder edge to songs like “Grim Visions” and a healthy cynicism to “We’ll Get What We Deserve” and the tongue-in-cheek keyboard-laced closer “Haunted as Fuck.” Of the several more extended tracks, the nine-minute “Acts of Mania” is the longest, and provides suitable patience and atmospherics to stand up to its scope. All told, Dark Rides and Grim Visions is a formidable journey at 13 songs/68 minutes, but after more than half a decade away, it’s hard to hold New Planet Trampoline having their say against them, particularly when that say is as lush and dreamy as “This is the Morning.”
With their second LP, Cold Winds (on Crusher Records), Gothenburg’s Hypnos seem to be betting that the next step in the retro game is NWOBHM. They make a convincing argument; it’s kind of how it went the first time around, and their songwriting offers a top-notch look at the moment where Thin Lizzy bounce became Iron Maiden gallop, as on second cut “I’m on the Run,” just minutes after opener “Start the Hunt” featured a flute solo. Broken into two sides, each one works its way toward a longer finale – “Det Kommer en Dag” (7:23) on side A and “1800” (8:32) on side B – but sonic diversity and changes in song structure throughout do much to keep Cold Winds from feeling overly plotted, and like their countrymen in Horisont, Hypnos offer a seamless melding of classic heavy rock and metal, soaring and scorching on “Descending Sun (Unrootables White)” and swinging and swaggering immediately thereafter on “Cold September,” both accomplished with unwavering command.
Texas boogie rockers Honky were last heard from with 2012’s 421 – which I’ll assume is the “going to 11” equivalent for getting high – and their eighth outing, Corduroy, finds bassist JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers, Melvins) and guitarist Bobby Ed Landgraf (Down) hooked up with drummer Trinidad Leal of Dixie Witch and Housecore Records for the release. To call is business as usual for the underrated outfit in the classic swing and grit they hone would only be a compliment, songs like “Baby Don’t Slow Down,” “Bad Stones” and the harmonized “Double Fine” offering soul as much as push, ‘70s influences given a modern kick in the ass throughout as a swath of guests, including Melvins drummer Dale Crover, come and go, perhaps none making their presence felt as much as Rae Comeau, whose work on “Bad Stones” makes that song a highlight – not to take away from the a capella cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” here retitled as “Mopey Dick,” that closes. Chicanery ensues, booze flows, good times are had for those who’ll have them.
Distinguished as on centerpiece “The Rambler” by their use of organ amid a semi-retro heavy boogie style, French five-piece Cheap Wine recorded Sad Queen – as the cover art says – live for Celebration Days Records. It’s somewhere between an EP and album, and strips away some of the individual track length of their 2013 debut, Mystic Crow, in favor of maximizing the energy put into each piece, the subdued “Intro” and “Opening” that start sides A and B, respectively, aside, though as “Opening” feeds cleanly into the quiet, airy and soulful beginning of the title-track, even that seems to have a tension that builds toward its eventual release, different from the shuffling raucousness of the post-“Intro” opener “Cyclothymic” maybe, but palpable nonetheless. They close somewhat melancholy on “Yesterday’s Dream,” but the complementary guitar of Valentin Constestin and keys of Ahn Tuan aren’t to be missed, nor how well work in concert with vocalist Mathieu Devillers, bassist Valentin Lallart and drummer Louis Morati.
Gurt & Trippy Wicked and teh Cosmic Children of the Knight, Guppy
The UK heavy scene excels at not taking itself too seriously. To wit, Gurt and Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight get together for a split (on When Planets Collide for CD and HeviSike cassette) and, they call it Guppy and the first two songs are “Owlmegeddon” and “Super Fun Happy Slide.” It kind of goes from there. Recorded together, sharing a drummer and collaborating on the centerpiece, “Revolting Child,” it’s basically two outfits who are close friends coming together to have a good time, but that doesn’t take away from Gurt’s sludgy intensity on “I Regret Nothing” or the nodding heavy rock Trippy Wicked hold forth on closer “Reign.” Taking its title from the two band names put together, one can only wonder if this will be the last conjoined offering Gurt and Trippy Wicked will make, or if there might be a whole school of guppies in the future. Frankly, this sounds like too good a party to only throw it once.
Posted in Reviews on June 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
We continue today to make our way through The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review. Yesterday we passed the halfway point, always pivotal, and today brings another batch of 10 albums from the realms of doom, heavy rock, heavy psych, boogie rock, and beyond that I’m looking forward to digging into. I’ve been waking up early mornings all week to put these together — in bed circa 10PM, out of bed at 6AM — but it’s been worth it to see the response the posts have gotten so far and, I’ll say it once again, I hope you’ve found something you dig in what’s already out there, or if not, that by the time we wrap tomorrow something piques your interest. Let’s do it.
Quarterly Review #31-40:
The Order of Israfel, Red Robes
Swedish double-guitar four-piece The Order of Israfel make their second offering in Red Robes. Issued, like its 2014 predecessor, Wisdom, by Napalm Records, the new collection tops out at 59 minute/eight tracks of classically rolling doom. Guitarist/vocalist Tom Sutton (also Horisont, ex-Church of Misery) leads the charge for the Gothenburg-based unit, and along with guitarist Staffan Björck, bassist Patrik Andersson Winberg and drummer Hans Lilja, he brings to light a trad doom not so far removed in some of its impulses from some others throughout Northern Europe in the post-Reverend Bizarre sphere, but showing a personality of its own in the layered vocals of “Von Sturmer” and the acoustic “Fallen Children,” which follows, the choral arrangement in the earlier “The Red Robes” and the speedier “A Shadow in the Hills,” which precedes the crawling 16-minute closer “The Thirst,” its slow-nodding finish underscoring what The Order of Israfel bring of themselves to the classic form in songwriting and overall cohesion of purpose.
It’s a little bit of everything. Landskap’s aptly-titled third album, III, brings out ‘70s vibe with the organ and underlying shuffle of opener “Wayfarer’s Sacrifice,” but offers a doomier feel in the vocals and guitar, and the band go on to execute Doors-gone-prog moodiness on centerpiece “The Trick to Letting Go” and more psychedelic fuzz on the subsequent “The Hand that Takes Away.” So yeah, the London five-piece of vocalist Jake Harding, guitarist George Pan, bassist Christopher West (ex-Trippy Wicked, Groan), drummer Paul Westwood and keyboardist Kostas Panagiotou cover a good bit if ground in just five tracks, tying it all together via Harding’s vocals and a comfortable pace across the board, even on the more insistent “Awakening the Divide,” though that consistency gets toyed with some as nine-minute closer “Mask of Apathy” moves from its dreamy, spacious initial stretch into more uptempo push as payoff for the album as a whole. All the better to have Landskap shift their own methods as fluidly as they meld different styles across III’s engaging span.
If I have a speed at this point, Pooty Owldom is pretty much it. The Virginia-based duo of Matt “Big Jim” Shively and Walter Barry – also two-thirds of the trio Olson/Shively/Barry, which released their debut, Teirra del Fuego Blues (review here), in 2014 – cross the lines between psychedelia, krautrock, folk, weirdo prog and funk with the carefree fluidity of pre-jam-band Ween on their self-titled first outing under their new moniker, and hopefully it’s not the last one, because whether it’s the soap-opera daydream keys of “The Owlet” or any number of the other owl-themed cuts here – “Fuzzy Pellet” is a personal favorite, but who could argue with the bassline/piano tap of “Owls with Big Donuts?” – there’s a considerable creative breadth at work in kind with what sounds like a really good time in progress. Not one for everybody, but for me, I’d love to hear Shively and Barry flesh these ideas out further over longer pieces – “Torus Landing” goes furthest here at 4:53 – and bring the jazzy rhythmic sunbathing of “Target: Mouse” to even greater experimental realization. However it comes, more please.
A guitar/drum duo based in Cherkasy, Ukraine, Celophys issued their third album, Ammonite, last year through Robust Fellow Records. The CD arrives as yet another example of the Ukraine’s burgeoning heavy scene, along with Kiev acts like Stoned Jesus, Bomg, Soom, Mozergush, Ethereal Riffian and others, and brings a noteworthy sense of lumbering across its mostly-extended seven tracks, beginning with 12-minute opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Baron,” which melds slow-grind sludge riffing with deathly growls and rasp, which the charmingly-named “Spaceburger” and the later drumless drone-feast “Caveman Ritual” continue to build out in atmosphere and snail’s-pace intensity. Feedback, massive tonality, plodding groove – these are hardly unfamiliar elements, but drummer/vocalist Alexander Beregovoy and guitarist Miroslav Kopeyka bring about a fervent bludgeoning across Ammonite that should have even the jaded among those who approach it nodding approval. Also noteworthy is the limited-to-53 “Nautilus Pack” which comes in a hand-carved, custom-designed oversized wood case with special graffiti art, a sticker and a pin, as well as the digipak version of the album.
Dunbarrow’s self-titled debut hits at a curious moment. They might be a few years ahead of their time in returning to the roots of vintage-style heavy rock, but in so doing, they basically take up the mantle that groups like Witchcraft, Graveyard, Kadavar and Blues Pills have left behind in favor of more modern production styles. Specifically, the Norwegian four-piece, who had a handful of shorter digital releases out before, come across in direct conversation with the self-titled Witchcraft debut from 2004. Strange to think that a record with an aesthetic so bent on looking backward could actually be forward-thinking — portrait of what goes around, coming around — but Dunbarrow offer persuasive argument in favor of retro orthodoxy in the swaying “You Knew I was a Snake” and the subdued brooding of “Guillotine.” Whether their bet pays off will be something to find out over the next couple years and as their sound continues to develop, but for their first full-length, they show clever songcraft, a clear idea of what they want to do, and the potential to move that forward in intriguing ways.
I’ll rarely hone in on one instrument throughout an album, but the bass tone on Brutus’ third LP, Wandering Blind (on Svart), has to be heard to be believed. With a goodtime take on ‘70s shuffle, there’s plenty of room for the low end to wind its way around the guitar, and it does. Of course, that’s not all the Swedish/Norwegian five-piece have going for them in these nine live-sounding tracks, as shown in the swaying solo section of “Whirwind of Madness” or the stomp of “Blind Village.” They’re not through the opening title-track before multiple Sabbath references are dropped in the lyrics, and indeed they’re a touchstone, but the more upbeat feel of “The Killer” and the back and forth of closer “Living in a Daze” play to deeper influences from classic heavy rock and its modern incarnations, culminating in a multi-layer guitar solo backed by tambourine, bass, and drums that really seems to sum up the friendly and unpretentious vibe Brutus elicit.
Finnish trio Vallihauta make their self-titled debut on Future Lunch with eight raw tracks that span between the hardcore punk/death ‘n’ roll of “Puoliverinen” and the doomed churn in the early going of “Reviiri.” One can basically tell looking at the runtimes of the cuts where Vallihauta are headed with each song, and they adjust their songwriting capably to coincide with the given tempo shifts, resulting in a back and forth as playful as it is aggressive in its sound and harsh low-end buzz, but to their credit, they bring the two approaches together effectively on closer “Ote,” shifting from the record’s most gurgling rumble and tortured plod to increasingly intense punkishness that hits headfirst into a final slowdown to end the album. A multi-faceted approach is rarely something to complain about, and it certainly isn’t here, but the challenge going forward for Vallihauta will be to build on that bridging of gaps in “Ote” without losing either the ferocity of their faster material or the weight of the slower.
The third Pater Nembrot album, Nusun (on Go Down Records), follows five years behind 2011’s Sequoia Seeds (review here), and for Italian heavy rock, it’s been a hell of a half-decade. Now recognized as one of the strongest scenes in Europe, Italy has become a hotbed and Pater Nembrot’s return couldn’t be better timed. The nine-track outing brings some genuinely expansive moments, as with the 10-minute “Architeuthis” for which Christian Peters (Samsara Blues Experiment) guests on synth, or the wah-soaked second half of “The Rich Kids of Teheran,” but even shorter pieces like “Young Rite” effectively bring together grunge and heavy psych influences. The piano-laced opener “Lostman” and acoustic-strummed closer “Dead Polygon” seem to be speaking right to each other and are somewhat at remove with the rest of the record, perhaps the minute-long bass interlude “Uknap” aside (perhaps not), but the four-piece know their game by this point and just when a song like “Overwhelmed” seems like it’s going to lose its course, they bring it around to Nusun’s most satisfying instrumental build.
Almost immediately upon the band starting “Device,” the sense of ambition in Floodlore’s debut album, When it was Written, is palpable. A psych-infused trio from Northern Virginia, they range freely between the classic-minded “Justice” and fuzzy push of “Bars” before heading back to jammier fare for “Release,” which calls to mind All Them Witches for its meandering blues, and into harder-edged winding riffs for “Evening.” Both “Peace” and “Glow” continue to flesh out one side or the other, but an obvious focal point is the three-part/28-minute closer “Sun/When the Floodlore was Written/In Praise of Alan Watts,” which starts out nodding at surf rock before space-progging out for about 20 minutes, working into an out of extended solos and culminating in swirl and thrust that lives up to the band’s clear will for exploration. Some smoothing out to do in terms of balancing the mix (vocals came through high, though I’ll allow that could be my speakers), but When it was Written impresses in concept and execution and as Floodlore’s first full-length, it’s remarkably encouraging.
When it starts to feel like maybe you’ve got a given track figured out, that seems to be the moment when Eugene, Oregon, five-piece Red Cloud turn something around on their full-length debut, Ursa Minor, and though their foundation is still very much in heavy rock, they build on that shifting into and out of desert stylizations and psychedelic swirl. The band – here guitarist/vocalist/bassist Aaron Williams, guitarist Dennis Medina, drummer/engineer Lauren Roberts and bassist/guitarist Sean Loos, though Loos seems to have left the band and bassist Mike Nemeth and keyboardist Garrett Davis come aboard – keep the material consistent by going back to that heavy rock foundation and through a clear focus on songwriting. Even in the somewhat lumbering starts and stops of “Smoke Screen,” these tracks feel worked on and carefully arranged, and though they go different places – “Ghost Dance” with its manic shuffle, closer “Sick Eagle” with its Songs for the Deaf-style drive – they universally take an efficient route to get there.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
UK garage doom forerunners Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats will use Psycho Las Vegas as the launch point for a coast-to-coast US tour joined by Danava and The Shrine. The band, who were also announced as headliners for North West Hesh Fest, which caps the run on Sept. 23 at Dante’s in Portland, Oregon, seem to be hitting some places beyond the major markets this time around — granted they’re still in Brooklyn, Dallas, L.A., Chicago, etc., but they’ll be at The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina, and The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey, too, which finds them digging deeper into the US circuit than they have in the past. Of course, they’ll likely draw just about anywhere, so all the better as they continue to support last year’s fourth outing, The Night Creeper (review here), on Rise Above Records.
Just off the PR wire:
UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS Announce Details of North American Tour
The UK’s greatest cult band, UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS, have announced details of a run of North American dates beginning at the end of August and running through September.
The dates are as follows:
UNCLE ACID With Danava and The Shrine: 8/27: Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Fest* 8/28: Los Angeles, CA @ Fuck Yeah Fest* 8/29: Phoenix, AZ @ Club Crescent 8/31: Dallas, TX @ Trees 9/2: Birmingham, AL @ The Saturn 9/3: Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West 9/4: Tampa, FL @ State Theater 9/6: Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel 9/7: Richmond, VA @ Broadberry 9/8: Washington, DC @ The Howard Theater 9/9: Asbury Park, NJ @ Stone Pony 9/10: Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg 9/12: Detroit, MI @ The Majestic 9/13: Chicago, IL @ Metro 9/15: Denver, CO @ Gothic Theater 9/16: Colorado Springs, CO @ Rawkus 9/17: Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex 9/19: Boise, ID @ Neurolux 9/20: Missoula, MT @ The Wilmna 9/22: Seattle, WA @ El Corazon 9/23: Portland, OR @ Dante’s*
They released their breakthrough album Blood Lust in 2011, a homage to British Hammer and folk horror films of the 1970s, a candle-lit head-trip of withered hands, ritual knives and gallows ropes. Mind Control (2013), their third album, looked further afield, to the post-Charles Manson US for inspiration: Jim Jones dosing the Kool-Aid. Blue Cheer, Blue Oyster Cult and B-movie biker movies. War, Watergate, serial killers and suicidal TV evangelists.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 15th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s only been two years since the last Opeth record came out — seems like much longer — but they’ve got a new one coming. It’s called Sorceress. I’m not even going to speculate what it might sound like, but as I was getting ready to post the news that Paradise Lost signed to Nuclear Blast, word came down that Opeth had as well, so it seemed only fair to combine them. Monte Conner killing it once again, as he will.
After four full-length albums, numerous compilations, reissues, live albums and so on, UK doom mainstays Paradise Lost have left Century Media to sign with Nuclear Blast. Entirely possible that whatever the terms of Paradise Lost‘s contract with Century Media were, those terms have been fulfilled — like I said, there have been a lot of releases since 2007’s In Requiem, their debut on the label — but though Century Media and Nuclear Blast at one time shared a building (their US offices), it’s a considerable jump anyway and is a name of considerable import to add to the Nuclear Blast roster, which continues to flourish.
Paradise Lost‘s most recent full-length is 2015’s The Plague Within (review here). They seem to drop hints below of a new release coming in 2017.
From the PR wire:
OPETH sign to Nuclear Blast Entertainment; “Sorceress” to be released in late 2016
PARADISE LOST sign to Nuclear Blast
Nuclear Blast Entertainment is very pleased to announce the signing of Swedish progressive legends, OPETH. Always an unstoppable force for uniqueness amid a sea of generic swill, OPETH has been setting the rulebook ablaze, and ploughing a uniquely progressive and exploratory furrow for over 25 years now. Neither conforming nor exhibiting any desire to be restricted to a single genre, OPETH, quite simply, has a time honored tradition of blowing our minds with both class and forward thinking. All these years later, nothing and everything has changed once again with their forthcoming album Sorceress.
“We’re happy to confirm that we have indeed signed a deal with Nuclear Blast Entertainment and will be putting out our 12th studio album Sorceress via our own imprint, Moderbolaget Records,” states Mikael Åkerfeldt. “The decision was made in Markus Staiger’s (Nuclear Blast kingpin) ridiculously potent Porsche going at 150 mph somewhere in the south of Germany. We’re happy to be part of the NB team and look forward to a fruitful relationship.”
Nuclear Blast owner, Markus Staiger, continues: “I am honored that OPETH has joined the Nuclear Blast family. Mikael Åkerfeldt and his fellow bandmates have demonstrated time and time again that OPETH are a band that never releases an album that sounds the same. You never know what their new music will sound like! Nuclear Blast has been following the musical journey of OPETH from the beginning with Orchid to landmark albums like Still Life, Deliverance, Damnation and Blackwater Park, right up to 2014’s Pale Communion. The band has become one of the most challenging artists in rock music today. It is not often that we get to work with musicians of their caliber and I am thrilled to have such a unique genre-leader on the label. The future for OPETH and Nuclear Blast looks very bright.”
Monte Conner, Nuclear Blast Entertainment president adds: “OPETH are a band that has continually evolved and moved forward at every stage. Always innovating and always continuing to challenge themselves as players and writers. They are simply fearless. I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next! It’s an amazing feeling to be reunited with one of my favorite bands and I look forward to my colleagues here at Nuclear Blast being able to have their own OPETH experience and role in the band’s continuing journey. I want to thank Mikael Åkerfeldt and OPETH for putting their faith and trust in everyone here at Nuclear Blast.”
OPETH are currently in the studio with Tom Dalgety putting the finishing touches on Sorceress. A release for the album is tentatively scheduled for the fall via Moderbolaget Records / Nuclear Blast Entertainment.
Iconic UK metallers, PARADISE LOST, have signed a worldwide deal with German-based metal powerhouse Nuclear Blast! Formed in Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1988 and still boasting 4 of its 5 original members, the band are widely-credited with co-founding the gothic metal genre with their sophomore album, Gothic (1991). Through the years, PARADISE LOST have changed their style effectively and reinvented themselves again and again. They elbowed their way from their original doom/death metal on their debut, Lost Paradise (1990) to the classic Icon (1993) and more experimental One Second (1997). Finally they went back to the roots with their current release, The Plague Within (2015) and some of the best reviews of their career.
Vocalist Nick Holmes commented: “PARADISE LOST’s career has run alongside Nuclear Blast Records since the label began in the late 80’s. And as huge fans of original death metal, we still have the majority of the label’s first releases from those very early days. It’s pretty incredible to see how the label has become a real force in metal music over the years, both in Europe and America and now, nearly 30 years later, in a new chapter for the band, it’s exciting for PARADISE LOST to be a part of Nuclear Blast in 2017!”
Nuclear Blast owner Markus Staiger adds: “As a fan from day one I’ve been following PARADISE LOST ever since their death metal era but also enjoyed watching them grow into something even bigger and so unique. They defined and later on re-defined the gothic genre and always delivered the most dark and memorable songs. It’s with great pleasure to finally welcome the band to the ever-growing Nuclear Blast family! Needless to say that we’re very much looking forward to this cooperation!”
PARADISE LOST live: 18.06. B Dessel – Graspop Metal Meeting 19.06. F Clisson – Hellfest *SOLD OUT* 03.07. D Roitzschjora – With Full Force 09.07. SRB Novi Sad – Exit Festival 17.07. FIN Joensuu – Ilosaarirock 11.08. D Schlotheim – Party.San Open Air 13.08. UK Walton On Trent – Bloodstock Open Air 20.08. D Hamburg – Elb-Riot 27.08. TR Istanbul – %100 Metal Fest Headbangers’ Weekend 15.10. BR Sao Paulo – Epic Metal Fest Brazil
PARADISE LOST are: Nick Holmes | vocals Greg Mackintosh | lead guitars Aaron Aedy | rhythm guitars Steve Edmondson | bass Waltteri Väyrynen | drums
Belfast five-piece Elder Druid released their The Attic Sessions four-tracker in the early going of 2016. Presumably that’s a change of venue for the heavy grooving outfit, as their two prior 2015 singles, “Otherworld” and “The Ides of March,” were tracked under the banner of “Live Loft Sessions,” though I suppose they could’ve just renamed the loft an attic and rolled with it. Rolling is a theme of the EP, as it happens. Shades of early Clutch and Orange Goblin show up in opener “Sellsword,” and the later “Red Priestess” — both titles commonly appearing in the George R.R. Martin pantheon — has a thickness to its double-guitar approach that lends an already heavy progression even more heft.
The band’s first outing, they obviously believe enough in The Attic Sessions enough to give it away as a means to entice listeners to check it out, and it doesn’t take me much more than that, frankly. To further spread the word, they’ve got a new clip for “The Warlock,” which is the longest cut on the EP at 6:31 — “Reigning Hell” rounds out with a sludgier take — that features some basic performance footage outside of the attic, the band spread around in the woods and some burnt out looking spaces as they dig into the track. It’s a kind of basic and encouragingly unpretentious beginning for the group, who got together early in 2015, but working from a place of clear motivation and with an intent toward making themselves heard.
So be it. Find the clip for “The Warlock” below, followed by more info from the band:
Elder Druid, “The Warlock” official video
ANNOUNCEMENT & VIDEO: To celebrate the fact that Elder Druid’s ‘The Attic Sessions’ is now available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music amongst other online music outlets and streaming services, we’ve released the whole EP on Youtube! Now you can have the Druid with you wherever you are and it’s a pretty damn awesome feeling! Big cheers to everyone for the support. Keep enjoying this Live EP for the moment and keep an eye out for NEW music on the horizons!
The official music video for ‘The Warlock’ from The Attic Sessions Live EP.
UK classic psychedelic rockers Purson — and I mean ‘UK’ both in terms of where they’re from and the particular classic psychedelia from which they draw — just recently finished up a US tour supporting their new album, Desire’s Magic Theatre, which came out at the end of April via Spinefarm Records. Their new video for “The Window Cleaner” from that album takes performance footage, presumably from earlier or otherwise recorded for the purpose of the clip itself, and psychs it up with ’60s-looking cartoon mermaids and lighting effects, in case the mellotrons, gorgeous harmonies and maddeningly efficient songwriting weren’t enough to get the vintage point across.
Whatever, it all works. Purson made their debut in 2013 with The Circle and the Blue Door via Rise Above/Metal Blade and received due praise for their stylistic loyalty and otherworldly vibe. What I think “The Window Cleaner” emphasizes well is the songcraft that backs up the aesthetic accomplishment. Not a second of the track’s crisp three-and-a-half-minute runtime is misspent, and yet it in no way feels rigid or overly wrought. It flows easily and fluidly, and keeps a sense of motion without coming across as rushed. It’s in finding that balance that Purson outdo many of their backwards-through-time-looking peers, but of course a mellotron never hurts either.
Rosalie Cunningham (vocals/guitar) offers some comment on the track and the album as a whole under the video below.
Purson, “The Window Cleaner” official video
Vocalist/guitarist Rosalie Cunningham said, “The songs on Desire’s Magic Theatre are very personal, like a diary. They tend to be about the psychedelic experience, something that’s been important to me since my teenage years, figuring out my own sense of spirituality, and ‘The Window Cleaner’ is a prime example.”
She continued, “I’d been up all night at a party, and I wasn’t really enjoying myself. It was all quite seedy. So in the morning, I went to the park with a friend to do some mushrooms. Afterwards, everything had become so beautiful that I went home and demo’d up the song in a couple of hours, and the album version is pretty much the same as that first demo. I think the video is a good representation of where the song sprang from.”
Desire’s Magic Theatre draws inspiration from the rock operas of the late ’60s and early ’70s. This 10-track outing sees the UK group touching on a variety of realms, including folk, prog, psychedelic, gothic, and classic rock, making telling use of classical instruments and complex arrangements along the way.