Mountains Sign to Rock Freaks Records; Dust in the Glare Vinyl out this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mountains

Though it starts off showcasing some thickened All Them Witches-style psych-blues influence in its opening cut, what unfurls from there on Mountains‘ debut album, Dust in the Glare, digs into a crisp and progressive take on heavy rock by the time its gone from “Everglades” to “Towards the Woods.” An efficient delivery throughout veers toward the aggressive on “Fortess” and the closing title-track — also the only cut to cross the other side of the four-minute mark — but there’s a steady sense of atmosphere as a complement, and Dust in the Glare thereby avoids the chestbeating that so much of London’s underground can’t seem to escape.

The short full-length was originally released in March as a digital offering direct from the band — you can stream it via their Bandcamp on the player at the bottom of this post — and has been newly picked up by the Freak Valley fest-associated Rock Freaks Records for a vinyl pressing this Fall, which will also find Mountains playing shows around town with Green Lung and Wychhound.

As the PR wire confirms:

mountains dust in the glare

From the ale-swamps of the South come London based heavy-trio Mountains. Comprising of David Jupp (guitar/vocals), Chris Randall (bass) and Josh Hussey (drums), the band finalised their line-up in 2015 and began work on their debut album. In the summer of 2016 Mountains entered Rogue Studios in London to record the eight songs that would make up ‘Dust in the Glare.’

Mastered by Ed Woods (The Who, Ghost of a Thousand, Reuben) and released digitally on March 24th 2017, the record garnered great reviews from some of the big names in the scene. This momentum culminated in August 2017 with Mountains signing to German label Rock Freaks Records (Freak Valley Festival) for a run of heavyweight vinyl across white, marble and splatter variants. The release will be issued in the autumn to coincide with Mountains fall tour with Wychhound and Green Lung.

Tracklisting:
1. Everglades 03:13
2. Lonely Cities 03:59
3. Towards the Woods 02:57
4. Ten Paces 03:42
5. Keep Watch 03:04
6. Fortress 02:43
7. Ithaca 02:03
8. Dust In The Glare 04:24

Mountains live:
Sat Sept 30th – The Devonshire Arms – Camden / London
Sat Nov 11th – The Big Red – Holloway / London
Sat Nov 18th – Scream Lounge – Croydon / London
Thu Dec 14th – The Black Heart – Camden / London

Mountains are:
David Jupp – Guitar/Vocals
Chris Randall – Bass
Josh Hussey – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/mountainsuk/
https://mountains-uk.bandcamp.com
http://mountainsofficial.uk/
https://twitter.com/Mountains___
https://www.facebook.com/rockfreaksrecords/
http://www.rockfreaks.de/

Mountains, Dust in the Glare (2017)

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Iron Monkey to Release 9-13 Oct. 20; Stream New Song “OmegaMangler”

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

iron-monkey-photo-ralph-barklam

Hey there sludge heads. Here’s the first new Iron Monkey song in 18 years. Kind of a big deal.

Today, the reformed trio from Nottingham — who aren’t quite singularly responsible for the proliferation of sludge in the UK but definitely have played a major and continuing role in that despite breaking up following the death of vocalist Johnny Morrow in 1999 — have unveiled their new single “OmegaMangler,” as well as the tracklisting and oh-so-familiar cover art for their upcoming album, 9-13, which will be released on Oct. 20 via Relapse Records. Mark your calendar, get your preorder. Do whatever you gotta do. Whatever side of the argument you’re on as regards this reunion, you at very least know you’re curious to hear that song.

So I won’t delay. It’s down there at the bottom of the post under the PR wire info. Hit it:

iron monkey 9-13

Cult UK doom/sludge outfit IRON MONKEY return with 9-13, their first new full-length in almost two decades. After disbanding in 1999 due to the death of their original singer J.P. Morrow, the group has reformed for phase two of their mission. Recorded in their hometown of Nottingham in Spring 2017 A.D. with producer Johnny A. Carter, 9-13 is 9 songs and 48 minutes of total nihilism. Now older, more cynical and more isolationist, IRON MONKEY are back to usurp the scene, then crush its skull. Without question, their most focused, aggressive and direct material to date, 9-13 is an all-out assault of violent hatred and nightmarish negativity. Recommended listening for fans of pain, suffering, and misanthropy.

9-13 is set for release on October 20th on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records. Physical packages and digital orders are available via Relapse.com HERE and all retail outlets HERE.

9-13 Tracklisting:
1. Crown of Electrodes
2. OmegaMangler
3. 9-13
4. Toadcrucifier – R.I.P.P.E.R.
5. Destroyer
6. Mortarhex
7. The Rope
8. Doomsday Impulse Multiplier
9. Moreland St. Hammervortex

IRON MONKEY was destroyed sometime in nineteen ninety nine.

Vocal terror J. P. Morrow died of a heart attack in June of Two Thousand and Two. Rest in noise.

The band reformed for no reason in the winter of Two Thousand and Sixteen with original members J. Rushby and S. Watson, with the addition of current Chaos UK drummer Brigga, forming the shape of an inverted black triangle of vitriol and phase two of operations.

IRON MONKEY do not care about your scene, bands or opinions… ELECTROCUTION, DOOM, OMEGA OMEGA OMEGA.

https://ironmonkey.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/IRONMONKEYBAND/
http://bit.ly/IronMonkey
http://www.relapse.com/
http://www.facebook.com/relapserecords

Iron Monkey, “OmegaMangler”

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Review & Video Premiere: Steak, No God to Save

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on August 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

steak-no-god-to-save

[Click play above to watch Steak’s new video for ‘Living Like a Rat.’ No God to Save is available now via Ripple Music.]

In the nearly three years that have passed since the London four-piece made their full-length debut, Steak‘s desert rock loyalism has taken them back and forth across the UK and continental Europe for tours and appearances at festivals like Keep it Low, Reverence Valada in Portugal, Desertfest Athens, Stoned from the Underground, of course Desertfest London — of which guitarist Reece Tee is a founder/organizer — and, most recently, Bloodstock. Even prior to the arrival of Slab City (review here) via Napalm Records, their 2012 Disastronaught (review here) and 2013 Corned Beef Colossus (review here) EPs were earning them a reputation for raucous fuzz, comic-style storytelling and a formidable, growing presence in London’s crowded heavy rock underground.

The inevitable follow-up, No God to Save, finds Steak signed to respected purveyor Ripple Music out of California, and while the foursome made a point to travel to that most golden of states’ desert to record their debut — a once-in-a-lifetime chance of which any band would be foolish not to take advantage for the memory and life experience alone, never mind the actual fuzz captured at Thunder Underground — this time they’ve stuck closer to home, putting together the 10-track/48-minute offering at Titan Studios in Watford, northwest of London, with producer Steve Sears (KrokodilGallowsDiesel King, etc.). That’s a significant change of approach in itself — not to mention geography — but with the vocals of Chris “Kippa” Haley at the forefront of forward-driving cuts like “Coke Dick” and “Living Like a Rat,” Steak reemerge on their second full-length with a deeply recognizable sound in tone and structure. They sound, in other words, like themselves.

And it comes through clearly in the songwriting that their time on stage over the last few years has helped them refine the definition of what “themselves” means. While it cut its teeth in tonal buzz and a generally straightforward build of momentum, Slab City was almost inextricably tethered to the post-Kyuss vibe it actively sought. No God to Save still showcases this influence in some of Tee‘s riffing on seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Overthrow” or the later “Creeper,” but when one examines the tracklisting as a whole, that becomes only one element at work across a much broader and ultimately richer presentation. Atop the solid foundation in the rhythm section of bassist James “Cam” Cameron and drummer Sammy ForwaySteak explore more spacious vibes beginning in “Overthrow” and throughout ensuing pieces like the bass-led “Clones,” “Mountain” and the penultimate “Wickerman.”

steak photo sam mellish

“Rough House” provides some rolling middle-ground in side B, as “King Lizard” does on side A, and instrumental closer “The Ebb” brings in acoustic atmospherics complemented by a sparse landscape of electric lead flourish and dramatic piano, cymbal hits and tom thud, and with the aforementioned thrust of “Coke Dick” and “Living Like a Rat,” there’s a firm sense of dynamics at work. But it’s the shift into this more multifaceted style that most distinguishes No God to Save from Slab City and Steak‘s prior short releases, and listening to the fluidity brought to bear as “Overthrow” shifts into “Coke Dick” and “Clones” moves through “King Lizard” en route to “Living Like a Rat,” No God to Save feels built with the intention to emphasize the variety between one piece and the next, even as the flow goes uninterrupted for the duration. If one takes “Mountain” as the leadoff for side B (also the longest track there; secondary points), Steak envision even wider expanses as “Rough House,” “Creeper,” “Wickerman” and “The Ebb” push further outward from what the first half of No God to Save already proves — namely that, while still earthy in their heft and tone, Steak are interested in expressing more than played-to-style desert rock.

That becomes the prevailing impression of No God to Save as the band groove and careen along their increasingly diverse path, and while one wonders how far they’d be willing to push that impulse before snapping back to dead-ahead riff-rocking à la “Living Like a Rat” as a focal point — they’ve jammed before, to be sure, but how psychedelic can Steak get? — the fact that they’re demonstrating multiple sides of their sonic personality establishes them as a more mature and complete unit. Add to that the sharp performances of TeeCameron and Forway, the commanding frontman-ism of Haley and the depth of mix given to the material by Sears‘ studio work, and No God to Save becomes more than just a check-in from a band who had an impressive debut a couple years back and positions them all the more as a group to be taken seriously when it comes to making an impact within and beyond their regional scene. All along, Steak have been a band with marked potential. Front to back, in its individual moments of detail and its increased range, No God to Save sees that begin to pay off.

Burgeoning maturity suits Steak well, and it’s worth pointing out that even as they learn the value of offsetting balls-out drive with more patient fare, they still deliver the material on No God to Save with a markedly energetic spirit. That too can be read as derived from their experience on various stages throughout the last couple years, but it’s certainly not something that was lacking before, and of the various aspects of their approach they’re carrying forward as they grow, no question it’s a helpful one to bring along for the ride. I will not claim to know where Steak are headed when it comes to their ongoing progression, but there’s an underlying sense of craft in No God to Save that bodes remarkably well for that journey, and as they reach new terrain in sound and substance, the core of who they are as songwriters becomes even stronger in its purposes. At this point, it’s hard to see them letting that go, and nor should they.

Steak, No God to Save (2017)

Steak on Bandcamp

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Paradise Lost, Medusa: Deathly Passages

Posted in Reviews on August 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

paradise lost medusa

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of England’s Paradise Lost, who in that time have crafted a storied, varied and massively influential career in doom. Whether as part of the original ‘Peaceville three’ alongside UK countrymen My Dying Bride and Anathema in the ’90s as they helped shape the decade’s course with records like 1991’s Gothic, which followed their 1990 debut, Lost Paradise, or 1992’s Shades of God, 1993’s Icon and 1995’s Draconian Times or the veering away from what had been the innovative downtrodden aggression of death-doom and gothic-doom in their sound — if not the dramatic sensibility — that came later in 1997’s One Second, 1999’s Host, 2001’s Believe in Nothing and 2002’s Symbol of Life, their evolution has divided fans and critics as only a band truly committed to following their own path can. With the release of their self-titled in 2005, Paradise Lost began to reemphasize the lead guitar of Gregor Mackintosh in their sound, and gradually since, the five-piece have pushed back into heavier and darker territory.

It’s been a decade-long process, with 2007’s In Requiem, 2009’s Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us (review here), 2012’s Tragic Idol and 2015’s The Plague Within (review here), and with 2017’s Medusa — also their first offering through Nuclear Blast after releasing the prior four LPs and other numerous collections through Century Media — that progression toward darkened heft would seem to have hit a new zenith. From the Branca Studio artwork through the ultra-thick chug from Mackintosh and rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy, the thudding drums of newcomer Waltteri Väyrynen (ex-Moonsorrow, among others), the heft of Stephen Edmonson‘s bass and the shifts between cleaner singing and harsh growls from vocalist Nick HolmesMedusa is Paradise Lost unabashed in their approach to doom — a sound they’ve made their own over time and one that tracks like the deeply metallic “From the Gallows” and the slogging “No Passage for the Dead” show they’re willing to reshape to their purposes on any given track.

Vital in their delivery and given added impact through the biting production of Jaime Gómez Arellano at Orgone Studios in London (see also: CathedralWith the DeadSólstafir and many others), Paradise Lost can come across as absolutely vicious throughout Medusa‘s eight tracks and 42 minutes, so that by the time they get around to the last push and rasps of closer “Until the Grave,” the organ introduction of 8:31 opener and longest inclusion (immediate points) “Fearless Sky” is a distant, mournful memory. Yet their work here is informed by an accessibility of structure as well. “Fearless Sky” is clearly intended to send a message to their audience with its overbearing crash, grueling tempo, drawn-out leads and Holmes‘ initial growls, but it also shifts into a melodic hook in its midsection — the crafters of Gothic playing very much to the gothic metal they helped craft — and once established, that dynamic becomes essential to the atmosphere and, in the end, the success of Medusa.

paradise lost

With Paradise Lost circa 2017, it’s not just about drawing solely on their early albums, or their middle period, or even the last decade’s clear-headed pummel — it’s about taking all of that and creating something with it that continues to move their progression forward. Second track “Gods of Ancient” follows the willful body-drag of “Fearless Sky” with an extremity of darkness worth of the band’s legacy that picks up its pace in the second half around a particularly punishing riff, setting up a thrust further into darkness on the shorter “From the Gallows,” which offsets a chugging verse with transitional lead lines and a more open-feeling chorus. This opening salvo consumes most of side A along with whatever else happens to step in front of it, and as “The Longest Winter” offers a breather in its atmospheric, birdsong-laden introduction, it also marks a turn toward cleaner-singing from Holmes that was foreshadowed in “Fearless Sky” but that, brought more forward and only offset by a couple guttural complementary lines, emphasize just how deeply bleak Paradise Lost get over the first three tracks. I’m not sure I’d call it a moment of hope in terms of ambience — it’s still plenty dark, plenty gray — but it’s nonetheless a departure from the rest of side A before it.

So does that mean the final four cuts on Medusa find Paradise Lost further expanding the context of the album overall? Somewhat, but they also reaffirm the emotional and tonal mire of the first half. The title-track, at 6:20, mirrors “Fearless Sky” in being the longest piece on its side (secondary points), and it begins with a quiet piano line that will reemerge throughout the entirety of the song as a focal point, a theme around which the weighted guitars and bass churn, vocals going from clean to rough in a flipped-script manner that was initiated by “The Longest Winter” before reverting to the deathly on the very-much-guitar-led “No Passage for the Dead” and “Blood and Chaos” — the latter arguably the most metallic of Medusa‘s tracks in quickness of pace and the straightforward swapping of growled verses and a harmonized chorus, Mackintosh‘s leads still a hallmark of Paradise Lost‘s sound as ever in the efficient, tightly-executed 3:51 that seems to answer “From the Gallows” in ferocity of purpose while surpassing it in catchiness level.

One might expect, given the traditional shape of the tracklist and the way Medusa unfolds across its span, that “Until the Grave” would task itself with summarizing the entirety of what comes before it, but it instead draws on the bitter mournfulness of “No Passage for the Dead” and “Blood and Chaos” and pushes them outward with keyboard flourish and steady rhythmic roll. It is a grim and thoroughly doomed finale, but I suppose in that it does actually do a fair bit of summary for what Medusa has on offer — a lack of pretense in its intention and a sharp-edged lucidity underlying the murk created throughout. A mission statement unto itself, “Until the Grave” ends simply, perhaps even in understated fashion, and leaves the listener wanting more, which for a band about to hit their 30th year and releasing their 15th full-length is no minor accomplishment in itself. Nonetheless, that Paradise Lost have never settled in terms of aesthetic, songwriting or performance has become a key facet of their longevity, and monstrous as it is, it’s only right that Medusa should stand as another richly satisfying next-step in their seemingly perpetual growth.

Paradise Lost, “Blood and Chaos” official video

Paradise Lost website

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Paradise Lost at Nuclear Blast website

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Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats to Reissue Vol. 1 Oct. 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I’ve never heard Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ first album. 2010’s Vol. 1 has been in my YouTube recommendations for years now, but I’ve blatantly refused to take it on — my position being that if I’m going to hear the super-limited, one-time-only release that started off one of the most landmark UK acts of this decade, I was going to do it right. The physical pressing. I didn’t even let it play when I grabbed the embed code to put it at the bottom of this post just now. And, well, as you can see in the PR wire info below, there were CD-Rs 30 made, and when I interviewed founding guitarist/vocalist Kevin R. Starrs back in 2015, I failed to ask him for one, so that was pretty much out. There you go. To this day, I’ve never heard Vol. 1, thinking maybe I’d run into it properly at some point or another.

Rise Above Records is about to make that much easier to do. The label that has stood behind the band since it stepped up in 2012 to issue their 2011 breakthrough, Blood Lust (discussed here), along with the subsequent offerings, 2013’s Mind Control (review here) and 2015’s The Night Creeper (review here), will oversee a first official pressing of Vol. 1 on Friday, Oct. 13, with a new mix and master by Starrs himself. It’s been kind of a quiet year for Uncle Acid so far, at least relative to the amount of touring they did in 2015/2016, and as such a perfect opportunity for the band to recount their beginnings to what’s now a vast and global audience. Myself included.

From the PR wire:

uncle-acid-and-the-deadbeats-vol-1

Rise Above Records To Release Uncle Acid The Deadbeats’ “Vol 1” Friday October 13th

First released on Friday February 13th, (40 years to the day after Black Sabbath’s debut LP), “Vol 1” was the first efforts of unknown songwriter, Kevin Starrs. Pressed in small numbers for a non existing fan base, the album took several months to shift all 30 CD-R copies and provided a small platform to fund its follow up, “Blood Lust” (2011).

Recorded on a tight budget of stashed dole money and with little knowledge or regard for conventional recording techniques, the chaotic results speak for themselves;

Distorted vocals, out of tune harmonies, ragged musicianship and everything pushed to the red. The clatter of mic stands falling over mid performance, the rustling of lyric papers, the missed key changes and flubbed lines. Everything you would want to avoid is here. Self-funded, self-recorded and self released to a fanfare of silence, “Vol 1” was a true D.I.Y. effort from start to finish. No great ambition, no target audience, no press support. Just a collection of songs for anyone who would listen. With it’s mix of budget horror lyrics, Everly Brothers obsessed harmonies, downer rock riffs, overly long guitar solos and bizarre high pitched vocals, “Vol 1” had very limited appeal outside a small group of underground fanatics.

In the years following, the album became something of a cult curiosity. Despite the shoddy work of bootleggers and impatient collectors, Starrs refused to re release the album until he could work on its remix and oversee the mastering. “It was a D.I.Y project from the beginning so I wasn’t going to give it up and let someone else mess with it. I also wasn’t going to cash in on something for the sake of it. I wanted it to sound the best that it possibly could. The record deserves my full attention, so with no new album to distract anyone in 2017, it was the perfect time to work on it and release it on CD and Vinyl. It can stand on its own… flaws included.”

So here it is, “Vol 1” in all its ragged glory… finally mastered and mixed for this release.

Enjoy.

“Vol 1” Track Listing:
1. Crystal Spiders
2. Witches Garden
3. Dead Eyes of London
4. Lonely and Strange
5. Vampire Circus
6. Do What Your Love Tells You
7. I Don’t Know
8. Wind Up Toys

https://www.uncleacidband.com
https://www.facebook.com/uncleacid/
https://www.facebook.com/riseaboverecords/
http://www.riseaboverecords.com/

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Vol. 1 (2010)

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Review & Track Premiere: Pagan Altar, The Room of Shadows

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

pagan-altar-the-room-of-shadows

[Click play above to stream the premiere of the title-track from Pagan Altar’s The Room of Shadows, out Aug. 24 via Temple of Mystery Records.]

Thirty-five years after recording their debut album and nearly 20 after Volume I finally saw its release, Pagan Altar put the capstone on their career with The Room of Shadows. What has been floated as the NWOBHM-era cult outfit’s final long-player is their fourth/fifth overall and arrives 11 years after its predecessor, 2006’s Mythical and Magical, via Temple of Mystery Records even more dripping in context and narrative than the simple span of time and retirement of the band. Founding frontman Terry Jones — who along with son/guitarist Alan Jones oversaw the original run of the band from 1978 through 1985 before coming back in 2004 to offer up second album, Lords of Hypocrisy (discussed here), and the EP of earlier recordings, The Time Lord (review here), before moving onto revisit Volume I in 2005’s Judgement of the Dead, and the aforementioned Mythical and Magical — passed away in May 2015 following a fight with cancer.

Pagan Altar had issued splits with Jex Thoth and Mirror of Deception in 2007 and 2011, respectively, as well as a single, Walking in the Dark, in 2013, and 2014 was supposed to see the realization of their next full-length, Never Quite Dead. It was recorded and tabled in light of the illness, and with the elder Jones‘ death, it was unclear whether or not it would ever come out. The Room of Shadows is that album. Alan, along with bassist Diccon Harper and drummer Andy Green, went back into the studio and re-recorded the instruments behind his father’s vocals, and the seven-song/46-minute The Room of Shadows stands not only as a fitting final installment to Pagan Altar‘s career and homage to the unsung legacy of Terry Jones and the band’s contributions to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and traditional doom, but also years of work making what could be argued as the most accomplished outing of their tenure.

That’s not to take anything away from Mythical and Magical, which was comprised of material written during Pagan Altar‘s first run, or Lords of Hypocrisy or Volume I, The Time Lord or anything else the Joneses have brought to bear intermittently over the last 35 years, only to say that The Room of Shadows has a nearly impossible charge before it in living up to its narrative and it does so with cohesive songwriting and without getting lost in either its doomly ambient mire or the weight of its conceptual task.

From opener “Rising of the Dead” through the landmark hook of “The Portrait of Dorian Gray,” the playful horror thematic of “Danse Macabre,” the Sabbathian centerpiece “Dance of the Vampires,” the proto-metal thrust of the title-track, the 10:36 grandeur of “The Ripper” and its accompanying minute-long epilogue “After Forever” — it does not seem like coincidence that one title comes from Judas Priest and the other from Black Sabbath, though neither is a cover — The Room of Shadows unfolds classic-sounding underground metal with rare clarity and poise that highlights Jones‘ vocals and presents them as part of a complete picture of what Pagan Altar still very much have to offer listeners; not just a voice from the past, so to speak, but an enduring take on heaviness that’s relevant in atmosphere as much as craft.

pagan altar

In the fluidity of “The Ripper” alone, JonesJonesDiccon and Green engage distinctly NWOBHM dynamic through multiple patient movements, loud, quiet and dramatic, with a turn to a more storytelling lyric, where earlier, the pair of “Danse Macabre” and “Dance of the Vampires” finds Terry descriptive. That there should be so much focus on death throughout The Room of Shadows — “Rising of the Dead,” “Danse Macabre,” Dance of the Vampires,” “The Ripper,” etc. — is somewhat eerie when one considers it as a posthumous release, but again, it’s the songs themselves that allow Pagan Altar to get through this material without being consumed entirely by the “last album” factor. Whatever else it may be for the band, it is a considerable achievement.

And one apparently some time in the making. “The Portrait of Dorian Gray,” with its uptempo, standout chorus, dates back to the 2011 split with Mirror of Deception and late that same year was posted as representing Pagan Altar‘s next album, then due in 2012. How far back the other material on The Room of Shadows might go in terms of composition or specific recording date, I don’t know, but Alan‘s taking charge of the instrumental elements behind his father’s vocals ostensibly to give the band the best representation possible serves the dual purpose of lending a freshness and energy to the tracks. One can hear it clearly in his soloing on “The Ripper” or in the gallop of Green‘s double-kick in the second half of “Dance of the Vampires” as much as the effective atmospherics of the slower parts in “Rising of the Dead” and the initial minutes of “The Room of Shadows” itself, which also finds father and son harmonizing a tale of a scared child before taking off at a briskly punctuated, lead-topped clip; the tinge of UK/Celtic folk in Terry‘s voice not at all lost in either the subdued or the raucous moments.

Complemented by gracefully strummed guitar shimmer, that will come into play again on the 1:33 “After Forever,” which closes The Room of Shadows with a duly poetic last verse and resonant emotional finish that succeeds despite the thematic turn between the title-track and “The Ripper” before it. Pagan Altar spent three and a half decades as an underrated band, and The Room of Shadows may in fact be their final offering — though of course one never knows and there are always opportunities for live albums, lost tracks collections, etc. — but as its eponymous cut, as “The Portrait of Dorian Gray,” as “Danse Macabre” and the rest of its inclusions show, they’re an act capable of finding vibrant delivery in the realms of darkness and death, and if there’s a chance these songs might carry their story forward to a new generation in terms of audience, that’s a chance well worth taking. Born of tragedy and defeat, The Room of Shadows brims with timeless victory.

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Pagan Altar website

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Friday Full-Length: Judas Priest, Sad Wings of Destiny

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Judas Priest, Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)

I’m reasonably certain that in the 41 years since its release enough has been said about Judas Priest‘s Sad Wings of Destiny — positive, negative and in between — to make anything I have to offer on the subject entirely redundant. Still, looking at the Birmingham outfit’s ultra-classic 1976 second album, its status as a landmark only seems to further emphasize how much classic metal is rightly stewarded by modern heavy rock. I had much the same feeling last time I saw Priest live in 2011 (review here), but it comes through even more on the studio recordings of songs like “The Ripper,” “Deceiver,” “Tyrant” and “Island of Domination” just how closely linked to heavy ’70s the roots of metal actually are. It wasn’t a change that happened overnight. Neither Black Sabbath, nor Deep Purple, nor Led Zeppelin, nor Priest or anyone else flipped a switch and said, “now metal exists,” but as they flew in the face of popular culture on any number of levels and reacted to the rise of arena rock and punk (and one could argue as well punk was a reaction to the grandiosity of arena rock and glam), metal gradually solidified from the molten heavy rock that preceded and Sad Wings of Destiny‘s nine-track/39-minute stretch captures an essential step in that process. Decades later, it’s easy to put a bow on an insular narrative and call it history, but there can be no question that the accomplishments of Judas Priest — comprised then of vocalist Rob Halford, guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, bassist Ian Hill and drummer Alan Moore — in this era were imperative in setting the stage for what heavy metal became in their wake, in the NWOBHM, the US and German thrash movements, and beyond.

Priest made their debut with 1974’s Rocka Rolla, an often — and, I’ll gladly argue, wrongly — maligned collection of heavy rock tunes indicative of the era in which they were released. Maybe a year or two too late to be really innovative, there was nonetheless a tightness in their execution that foreshadowed the drive that would emerge in the band’s sound on subsequent outings. Though it leans decisively harder in its impact, Sad Wings of Destiny still holds to many of these rocker elements. Extended opener “Victim of Changes,” the sharply-produced balladry of “Dreamer Deceiver” and side B’s piano-led, semi-Queen-derived “Epitaph” might pull back on the throttle as opposed to the soaring tension of “The Ripper,” which serves as a formative moment for Priest‘s core approach to songwriting, but there’s still rock to be found at their foundation. Likewise, “Genocide” leads with its riff and an almost deceptive amount of rhythmic swing giv en its ultimately forward heading, and while Halford‘s trademark growls and screech put “Deceiver” squarely in headbang territory, if one listens to the guitars and bassline backing him, it’s a classic-rocking shuffle if ever there was one.

This is barely an insight, but it’s worth pointing out in terms of finding the moment and moments when heavy metal grew out of the harder end of rock and roll and became its own genre. Is that “The Ripper?” Or even “Victim of Changes” at the outset? It’s hard to know — and even harder when one steps back and looks at the overall context of what was happening in the UK and elsewhere musically at the time — to say, “Yes, this is when it happened,” but if one wanted to hold Sad Wings of Destiny forward as a case for how it happened, the album makes a strong argument for itself as pivotal in that movement from one side of the line to the other. Because ultimately it’s both and neither. All the more, then, does it seem to be the domain of modern heavy rock and doom, which largely eschew the aggression of metal — though there’s plenty of dudely chest-thumping, depending on the style of a given act, and plenty of that in Priest as well; underground rock’s perpetual reaffirmation of insecure masculinity is a subject for a different time — in favor of a style of groove that seems to play directly off the same influences as Sad Wings of Destiny-era Priest. Taking the heavy rock that came before and trying to make something new from it. What’s that if it’s not a genre-based approach?

Any band with the stature of Judas Priest is going to foster divided opinions: Lovers, haters, fans, the indifferent, etc. What’s undeniable is the multifaceted nature of their influence, and as the metal of our age has become a showcase for self-indulgent mathematicians and splintered along an ever-increasing swath of border-fenced subgenres, it seems all the more the task of doom and underground heavy in general to embrace the classicism of records like Sad Wings of Destiny and their continued relevance to the shaping of modern aesthetic. It may be one of many, but it’s a touchstone nonetheless, and time has only added to its fortification as such.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Some ups and downs this week, I guess, but on the whole I suppose I’m less inclined to complain than I might otherwise be. I got to see my son’s face in a 3D ultrasound and he looked pissed about not being born yet, so I take that as an encouraging sign of The Pecan being imbued from the start with a strong personality. My hope at this point is he has inherited his mother’s capacity for sleep. Really, anything he could get off her in terms of inheriting traits would be a boon. It’s those fatherly learned behaviors — “this is how you make an ass out of yourself in a social situation, boy; pay attention” — he might want to avoid.

But anyway, that was good. My laptop kind of sort of shit the bed. Less good. The fancy blender I had to make protein shakes also shit the bed. Less good. My plan for today and the early part of the weekend likewise. Some you win, some you lose, as Orange Goblin tells us. Big picture shit — positive. Little annoyances that cost money — negative.

I have some work to do on a project the Borracho guys are putting together this weekend, so I expect that will take a decent portion of my time, but should be an interesting if time-consuming venture. I got to interview all three of them together and it was great to hear how they interacted with each other in that we’re-really-close-so-we-only-need-to-speak-in-half-sentences-to-get-our-point-across kind of way. That sort of conversationalism and musical chemistry go hand-in-hand in my opinion. Each is a symptom of the other and I think you can hear that in how tight they’ve become over their three albums.

Digression. Sorry. The Patient Mrs., the impending Pecan, the Little Dog Dio and I — the whole fam — came down to hazy Connecticut yesterday to take care of some administrative stuff, donating an old car to National Public Radio, etc., and we’re heading back north this morning. Meh. I don’t know about hers or the dog’s, but my tail is tucked thoroughly between my legs. I got a grilled salmon caesar salad from the diner down the way for dinner last night though (they deliver; it took longer than usual, but still, they deliver) and that was glorious.

I had a whole other paragraph here about dinner preparations, cooking, and so on, but I guess the bottom line is I’m still enjoying being unemployed. Money has indeed gotten tighter the last couple weeks — we’re already charging things like gas and groceries — but we’ll make it through. Baby preparations continue. I did a very large amount of very tiny laundry earlier this week that will need folding this weekend, and we’ve moved some furniture to allow for a nursery and we’ve begun hoarding baby wipes from Costco, so there you go. October will be here soon, but progress takes many forms.

Speaking of — next week is crammed as ever. Here are my notes as they stand; subject to change as always:

Mon.: Radio Adds (delayed from this week), plus a slew of news I’m already behind on.
Tue.: Review/lyric video premiere for the Eternal Black record, which I think a lot of people will dig once they hear it.
Wed.: Review/track premiere for the new Papir; Six Dumb Questions with Beastmaker.
Thu.: Review/track premiere for the new Howling Giant.
Fri.: Review of the new Zone Six live album.

If you’ve emailed me and not heard back this past week, it’s because (1:) I suck and (2:) my busted laptop has my Outlook account on it and I don’t have access to webmail outside of that. Just my phone, which is a pain in the ass and, frankly, no way for humans to communicate with each other save for the most urgent of circumstances. I’ll do my best to get back to as many people as possible, but in the meantime, hit me up on Thee Facebooks if you haven’t yet. Keep in mind though I’m behind on messages there as well. As noted, I suck.

But hey, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’m gonna head back up to Massachusetts in a little bit, dig last night’s baseball game this afternoon and try and have a couple quiet hours leading into a couple solid days of chores and varying degrees of whatnottery. Enjoy the Priest above and please check out the Forum and the Radio stream and we’ll be back here on Monday for more good times.

The Obelisk Forum

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Motörhead Announce Under Cöver Collection Due Sept. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Motörhead were a band for more than 40 years, and one imagines that between collections like this one, live records, best-ofs, remasters, anniversary editions, definitive editions, original restorations and so on, there will be at least another 40 years’ worth of material coming from them, despite the fact that 2015’s Bad Magic (review here) remains their swansong as regards proper studio albums owing to the death some months later of bassist/vocalist/legend Lemmy Kilmister. Under Cöver combs a 20-year-plus span to find Motörhead‘s takes on the likes of David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Judas Priest, The Ramones, etc., and it’s available to preorder now ahead of a Sept. 1 release.

The PR wire brings details and the tracklisting:

motorhead under cover

MOTÖRHEAD to Release “Under Cöver” Album on September 1, 2017

One thing Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee liked to do throughout their years together in MOTÖRHEAD was grab a favorite song by another artist and give it a good old fashioned ‘Motörheading’. To run them through the Motörizer, if you will. To rock them, roll them and even give them an extra twist and edge.

In celebration of some of those finest moments, the band will release Under Cöver, a collection of some of their best covers, and a collection which will include the previously unreleased version of David Bowie’s timeless classic “Heroes”. Recorded during the Bad Magic sessions in 2015 by Cameron Webb, and was one of the last songs the band recorded together.

Under Cöver will be available in 1CD (Digipak), 1x 180 grams Black Vinyl in gatefold, Super Deluxe Boxset (1CD digipack, 1x 180 grams black vinyl and VIP guest pass), Digital Audio and MFiT Audio.

Pre-order links as follows:
CD: http://hyperurl.co/MHUnderCoverCD
Vinyl: http://hyperurl.co/MHUnderCoverLP
Boxset: http://hyperurl.co/MHUnderCoverBS
iTunes: http://hyperurl.co/MHUnderCoverIT

“It’s such a great Bowie song, one of his best, and I could only see great things coming out of it from us, and so it proved to be,” says Phil Campbell, “and Lemmy ended up loving our version.”

“He was very, very proud of it,” says Mikkey Dee, “not only because it turned out so well but because it was fun! Which is what projects like this should be – fun!”

To that ethic, the rest of the album contains loud and proud, raucous and raging rock ‘n’ roll takes on the likes of “God Save The Queen” (Sex Pistols), “Cat Scratch Fever” (Ted Nugent), “Rockaway Beach,” (The Ramones), Breaking The Law” (Judas Priest) and “Whiplash” (Metallica) which earned the band a Grammy in 2005 for Best Metal Performance.

“We were happy with them at the time and we’re happy with them now!” affirms Campbell, whilst Dee says, “We should remember that it’s about having some fun with songs that we all loved.”

If that doesn’t have you scrambling for your music delivery device, then check your pulse pronto. Or just start scrambling for a copy of Under Cöver immediately. You won’t be sorry.

Under Cöver Track listing
1. Breaking the Law (Produced by Cameron Webb) 2008
2. God Save the Queen (Produced by Bob Kulick and Bruce Bouillet) 2000
3. Heroes (Produced by Cameron Webb) 2015
4. Starstruck (Produced by Cameron Webb) 2014
5. Cat Scratch Fever (Produced by Peter Solley) 1992
6. Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Produced by Bob Kulick and Bruce Bouillet) 2001
7. Sympathy for the Devil (Produced by Cameron Webb) 2015
8. Hellraiser (Produced by Billy Sherwood) 1992
9. Rockaway Beach (Mixed by Cameron Webb) 2002
10.Shoot ‘Em Down (Produced by Bob Kulick and Bruce Bouillet) 2001
11. Whiplash (Produced by Bruce Bouillet and Bob Kulick) 2005

All songs performed by MOTÖRHEAD.

MOTÖRHEAD is:
Lemmy Kilmister – Bass/Vocals
Phil Campbell – Guitar
Mikkey Dee – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialMotorhead/
https://twitter.com/myMotorhead
https://www.instagram.com/officialmotorhead/
http://imotorhead.com/

Motörhead, “Breaking the Law”

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