Posted in Whathaveyou on April 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hard to tell if I’m happier to see this news because it means Electric Wizard will be able to take advantage of Spinefarm‘s worldwide distribution network, or just because it’s solid proof of a forthcoming album, but either way, the Dorset doom legends aligning themselves to Spinefarm via their own Witchfinder Records imprint isn’t a bad thing if it allows them to keep more control over what they do. The title of their next album hasn’t been unveiled yet, but the four-piece have a number of festival appearances coming up, including headlining slots at Hellfest in France and Reverence in Portugal.
Here’s the update, fresh off the PR wire:
ELECTRIC WIZARD FORGE WORLDWIDE ALLIANCE WITH SPINEFARM RECORDS
NEW LP SET FOR RELEASE VIA SPINEFARM, IN LEAGUE WITH THE BAND’S ‘WITCHFINDER RECORDS’ IMPRINT
Visually intoxicating, uncompromisingly heavy and revered for making music and lifestyle one, Electric Wizard have completed work on their new studio album, title to be confirmed; the album will be the band’s first release through Spinefarm Records.
Formed by vocalist / guitarist Jus Oborn in 1993, Electric Wizard (based in the UK’s South-West) have thus far released seven studio albums – an increasingly influential body of work recorded on vintage analogue gear with as little technology as possible intruding on the signal (“Protools is for pussies!”).
Result: some of the heaviest, dirtiest, most evil-sounding audio ever put to tape, and more importantly to vinyl, with both Come My Fanatics (1997) and Dopethrone (2000) being lauded as landmark releases.
A cultural as well as a musical force, Electric Wizard have left an indelible mark on a host of different genres, the likes of doom, stoner and sludge; at heart, however, they stand as an iconic British metal band, cast in the great tradition, with lyrics and artwork reflecting the hypnotic weight of the music, and subject to the same intelligence and detail.
Wreathed in occult ritual and drug-culture references, with classic ’70s horror an inspirational seam, Electric Wizard are poised to turn a page; there’s the new deal with Spinefarm Records, plus – after a nine-year hiatus – the return of Mark Greening (the drummer on Dopethrone), who completes the line-up of Oborn, US guitarist Liz Buckingham, a key member since 2003, and new bassist Clayton Burgess (Satan’s Satyrs).
Fueled by strong emotion and the harder sounds of late-’60s Detroit, the remodeled line-up – isolated by choice, giant stacks glowing red – set about crafting an eighth studio album to both rival and exceed the milestone recordings of the past, with Buckingham keeping things suitably monolithic and the band generally looking back to some of their earliest influences.
Toerag Studios in London was once again charged with capturing ‘The Sound’, and (encouragingly) words like “raw”, “hateful” and “sickeningly heavy” are being traded.
Says Oborn: “Our master plan is this. Real metal!! We stand for rebellion, we are with the kids; we fight, puke, smoke weed, etc… Electric Wizard is an entity, with its own history, its own symbols, its own iconography, and with this new album, we wanted to return to basic values. It’s primitive. We needed to claw it back down to the evil core – sex, drugs, violence, revolution… to go back to being a band that hung out and jammed hard. No teaching songs, just feeling them out. If you jam enough and you are on the same level – artistically, musically, whatever, you gotta be committed – then good music will happen. I totally believe that…”
Electric Wizard will make the following festival appearances in 2014, with more shows to be added:
May 2 Temples Festival, Bristol, UK (headline) June 20 Hellfest, Clisson, France (Valley Stage headline) July 3 Roskilde Festival, Roskilde, Denmark (Arena Stage) July 4 Sonisphere, Knebworth Park, UK (stage headline) August 16 Jabberwocky, The Excel Centre, London, UK September 12 Reverence Valada, Portugal (headline with Hawkwind)
ELECTRIC WIZARD are: Jus Oborn – lead vocals, guitars | Liz Buckingham – guitars | Mark Greening – drums, percussion | Clayton Burgess – bass
Established in 1990, Spinefarm Records is an international rock and metal label with dedicated offices around the globe. Working with Caroline under the Universal banner, Spinefarm marries the ethos of the independent to the clout of the major, developing signature artists worldwide.
You wouldn’t know it to look at either my pajamas or my plans for the evening, which include experimenting with a parmesan cheese crisp recipe and watching baseball, but I must feel like partying on some level if I’m breaking out Orange Goblin‘s Time Travelling Blues. Yeah, the UK stoner doom forerunners vibe out Kyuss-style on “Shine” and bring things down a little bit on the title cut, but basically, that’s what this album is to me: A party. And not one of those parties you wind up at where you don’t know anybody and it’s all awkward and terrible. I’m talking about good friends, beers, the yard — all that nonsense. I don’t think I’ve ever actually done that with this record on, but I’d be down to try.
Time Travelling Blues is the second Orange Goblin album, released in 1998 on Rise Above. Because the band has remained so vital — if anything, becoming more so; they’re certainly bigger now than they’ve ever been — it’s strange to think of the record as being 16 years old, but Orange Goblin have kicked a lot of ass for a long time, so there you go. This one I consider the middle part of an essential trilogy of Orange Goblin full-lengths, with their 1997 debut, Frequencies from Planet 10, on one side and 2000′s third offering, The Big Black, on the other, though really none of their stuff is to be fucked with, and live they destroy. No wonder the London scene is currently flush with bands working under their influence.
Orange Goblin‘s last album came out in 2012, but with how hard they’ve toured to support A Eulogy for the Damned, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think it might get a follow-up sooner rather than later. Maybe 2015? After the half-decade between 2007′s Healing through Fireand Eulogy, I certainly wouldn’t argue.
Next week is Roadburn, if you can friggin’ believe that. Snuck up on me this year, it did, though I’ve been doing enough work in preparation. The process is going to be a little different this year than in years past, I think. Sorry to be vague. I’ll explain it all next week. I fly out Tuesday night, get to Tilburg on Wednesday and probably start typing immediately. As ever, you know I’ll cover as much as I can and update as much as I can. Before I even start, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to the fest and the 013 venue. It’s through the generous grace of both that I’m able to go at all.
When I get back, I have some serious thinking to do. Need to find a job, and in the meantime, need to adjust the balance of my day to better facilitate that — which means maybe I don’t spend a nine-to-five’s worth on blogging about doom for no money. Maybe it’s time to put ads on the site and see if I can bring in some cash that way. I don’t know. I’d only like to do ads if they have nothing to do with music. Like if I could get banners for Palmolive and shit like that, I’d be down. Otherwise it’s like throwing your editorial integrity right out the window, though that’s essentially how it’s been since the first newspaper opened and did a story about the restaurant next door. I don’t know when unemployment monies start coming in, but my student loans are in deferment, which helps. Need to talk to The Patient Mrs. and see what my options are and how long we can hold out, because if you’re an out of work editor, nobody gives a fuck. I knew it before but didn’t have to care. Now I have to care and it’s fucking killing me. Need to find something that’s not just a resumé shot into a LinkedIn abyss.
I’ll admit to carrying more than a bit of jealousy in my heart for those who’ll be in either London or Berlin at the end of the month when Desertfest gets underway in both towns. Either city is a trek I’d gladly make if I had cash for the flight, and I suppose if being broke has any upside, it’s saving me from having to choose one over the other. Poor consolation for not getting over there, but frankly I’ll take what I can get at this point.
A video trailer back Stubb‘s Jack Dickinson surfaced for the London fest about a week ago, and today Berlin followed suit in posting a trailer for the fest there. Again, either way you go, you can’t really lose. Whether you’re seeing Causa Sui and Stoned Jesus in Berlin or Pombagira and Borracho in London, you’re in for an amazing weekend you won’t soon forget and an experience of a community coming into its own even as it continues to discover what that means. This is a very cool year for Desertfest. So was last year. The one before that wasn’t half bad either.
You get the point though, and the point is me, unemployed and sulking. I’m sure I’ll have more about Desertfest before it actually launches, but I wanted to post these clips together just to give a sample of the vibe of both festivals and what they have to offer the discerning gormandizers who might hit them up. Desertfest Berlin runs April 24-26 at Astra Kulturhaus in Berlin, Germany, and Desertfest London picks up April 25-27 at various venues in Camden Town. Info in the clips and at the links.
Desertfest Berlin 2014 trailer
24th, 25th, 26th April 2014 : DESERTFEST BERLIN
THURSDAY 24th – Spirit Caravan Official – Sleepy Sun – Siena Root – ASG – Sixty Watt Shaman – Pet The Preacher – ANCIIENTS – The Midnight Ghost Train – Cojones —– FRIDAY 25th — Kvelertak – Causa Sui – Church of Misery Official – Elder – Huata – HULL – GOZU – BLACK RAINBOWS – Prisma Circus – The Moth – Red Stoner Sun – MANTAR —– SATURDAY 26th — Clutch – Radio Moscow – The Machine – The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic – Stoned Jesus – THE GRAVIATORS – Sasquatch – Radar Men from the Moon – SardoniS – Castle – Metal Band – Powder for Pigeons – DoctoR DooM
Desertfest 2014 is heavier than before & Taking over Camden, London during the 25-27th April.With over 60 bands from the underground stoner / doom and sludge scene peforminng this years fesitval is not to be missed, Headliners are Spirit Caravan / Kvlertak & Boris, plus weedeater, church of misery, ASG, blues Pills and many more…for the full line up please click below.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Continuing to proffer mastery of the melancholic arts, UK-based Antimatter have released a new single this week called “Too Late” that, instead of following up on the full-band feel of 2012′s Fear of a Unique Identity long-player (review here), turns back to the intimate and contemplative folk experimentalism of past outings like 2007′s Leaving Eden, finding a midpoint between the two of lush textures and resonant, subdued melodies. Its six minutes are a showcase for arrangement nearly as much as songcraft.
That’s fitting enough, since Antimatter will begin a European tour next week supported by Leafblade on which Moss and Company will play Leaving Eden in its entirety. Aside from shared branch-occupation on the well-populated Anathema family tree, the two acts make for a suitable pair, each having a distinct but deeply atmospheric approach to progressive folk and moodier alternative rock. Leaving Edenhas become one of Antimatter‘s signature works, striking a balance between melody and ambience that Moss continues to develop on “Too Late,” which you can hear below courtesy of the Antimatter Bandcamp.
The song harks back to the ‘Planetary Confinement’ & ‘Leaving Eden’ days.
Also, in other news …
Antimatter will be touring Europe performing the ‘Leaving Eden’ album in its entirety with a full electric band.
Dates are - March 28th – ‘Vakaris’, Vilnius, Lithuania March 29th – ‘Boerderij’, Zoetermeer, Netherlands March 30th – ‘Rock Café St Pauli’, Hamburg, Germany April 1st – ‘Alchemia’. Krakow, Poland April 2nd – ‘Escape’, Vienna, Austria April 3rd – ‘RudeBoy’, Bielsko-Biala, Poland April 5th – ‘Potva’, Prague, Czech Republic April 6th – ‘Thearter’, Berlin, Germany April 8th – ‘Ucho’, Gdynia, Poland April 9th – ‘Progresja’, Warsaw, Poland April 10th – ‘Od Zmierzchu Do Switu’, Wroclaw, Poland April 11th – ‘Geyserhaus’, Leipzig, Germany April 12th – ‘Decadance!’, ‘Gent’, Belgium
It’s a pretty rare phenomenon, but every now and again somebody gets in touch who feels strongly enough about a release to send it to me even though they’re not affiliated with the band in question, not part of any record label or promotional effort or anything like that. Just a fan of a work who thinks I’d be better off hearing it enough that they’re willing to put their postage where their mouth is and actually send it. To that end, I offer thanks and kudos to Anthony Brown of Guildford in the UK who saw fit to shoot a copy of Enos‘ 2010 debut, Chapter1,across an ocean on my behalf. Even before I went to the post office and picked it and the XII Boar demo he also sent up, it was an effort I appreciated.
I’ve had some past experience with Enos, and pleasant experience at that. The band played the pre-show at London’s Desertfest last year (review here) supporting 1000mods that I was fortunate enough to attend, and while there, I picked up a copy of their 2012 self-released outing, All too Human. The band, who are named for the first chimpanzee launched into orbit, also work with space-program themes on the five tracks of what would essentially be a demo if it didn’t sound so cohesive over the course of its 34 minutes. It’s not hard to pin a narrative arc to the five tracks, “Launch,” “In Space,” “Floating,” “Transform” and “Back to Earth,” so to coincide with the professionally crisp production, they seem to have started out with a firm grip on the concepts driving their creativity. All the better across the songs, really, since “Launch” embarks with a countdown of cymbal wash and explodes with a vibrant pulse into the riffing of Chris P. Rizzanski and Sean Cox, which emerges as the dominant force in a nonetheless well-balanced mix thickened by George “Bungle” Cobbold‘s bass.
Rizzanski also handles vocals in semi-melodic, echoing shouts that sit smoothly alongside a psychedelic impulse, though when “In Space” is at its most chaotic, following a brief acoustic stop when Sparky Rogers kicks back in on the drums and the guitars are going full-force, he seems to shift more into a throatier approach that in another context I’d probably attribute to a Neurosis influence. Even looking back after All too Human, Chapter 1finds Enos refreshingly individual. Yeah, there are the post-Kyuss riffs and some of Rizzanski‘s delivery reminds of Orange Goblin‘s Ben Ward — an impression I got less from the subsequent outing — but if Enos are making anything clear on these tracks it”s that what they’re in the process of developing is theirs specifically, and as “Floating” lives up to its name with the transition into the more raucous “Transform,” the shortest song on Chapter 1but a barn-burner at 4:26, the work they’re doing seems well worth undertaking, the two guitars showing some lead interplay in the bridge over the solid rhythmic foundation of the bass and drums.
As it was no doubt intended to do, the nine-minute closer “Back to Earth” provides a neat summary of the 2010 outing — which, if you’re looking for a marker of its era, you might find in the MySpace link included on the back liner of the jewel case — gradually building a psychedelic opening progression to an airy mid-paced push and forward to a grander, louder, larger apex that consciously answers the call of the first four cuts for resolution prior to its long fadeout. Knowing they’d put out All too Humantwo years later and build on the accomplishments here feels a bit like cheating, but does nothing to diminish enjoyment of Chapter 1as it is. The band’s latest release is the 2013 live album The East Slope, which is sold-out on CD, but still available digitally through the Enos Bandcamp, and there are still a couple copies of Chapter 1out there as well. I feel fortunate to have been given one and having sat with the album and gotten to know it better, am all the more able to understand why Brown felt so strongly about it in the first place. Thank you, sir.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Exploratory cosmic doomers Pombagira embarked on new sonic terrain with 2013′s Maleficia Lamiah(discussed here), which at this point is a title I can’t even read without hearing the echo of its delivery swirling through the psychedelic morass of the song itself. The British duo — who’ve also been confirmed for an appearance at Desertfest in London — will release their next album, Flesh Throne Press, through Svart Records, as they’ve joined that Finnish imprints richly varied and relentlessly creative lineup. As much as a band like Pombagira could belong anywhere, Svart makes sense.
The PR wire sends over word of the deal and more info on Flesh Throne Press, which is due in the Fall:
POMBAGIRA signs with SVART RECORDS – new album later this year
Magical and psychedelic UK group POMBAGIRA will be returning this fall with a new album to be released by SVART RECORDS. Titled Flesh Throne Press, the work will be available on CD, double-vinyl LP, and digital.
POMBAGIRA was formed in 2008 by Peter Hamilton-Giles and Carolyn Hamilton-Giles out of a desire to reset the controls for the heart of the heavy. Having set out as a more typical doom/sludge band, across the course of their previous five albums, they’ve turned their attention to exploring the psychedelic in musical composition. This was realized the most in their most recent release, Maleficia Lamiah, which received across-the-board praise for its innovative approach. This moved them away for just being notorious for their sheer volume, using a backline not dissimilar in stature to Sunn o))). Although this may not necessary be the complete emphasis for the band, they continue to be one of the loudest and most oppressive bands to witness live. However, this has been colored by incorporating a psych-o-delic light show.
Commenting on the imminent Flesh Throne Press, Peter Hamilton-Giles states, “In many ways, this album solidifies a connection between the written word composed within the Grimoire of the Baron Citadel to be published by later this year by Three Hands Press, which I am currently writing, and the ongoing ritual work to serve the forgotten and fallen. The Flesh Throne Press is therefore a reference to the visceral experience of the grave dirt that presses in on the flesh during the initiatory procedure for approaching the crossroads.”
The band feels this new album encompasses everything it has done before. But in true POMBAGIRA style, they have found new ways on how to push at the very limits of innovative music. In an attempt to bind the sorcerer to the spirit entourage that follows from taking every deviation, Flesh Throne Press explores the “nightside” like no other band.
POMBAGIRA continue to grow in stature and prowess by continuing to develop a unique sound that has as much to do with the innovation of ’60s psychedelic pioneers as it does with contemporary forms of presentation. This combined with their ongoing professional phenomenological interests in Vodou, witchcraft, and other forms of traditional religious practices, the band have managed to transcend the simple “occult rock” tag and have appeared on the other side of any clear label-making device.
It was The Sleeping Shaman who premiered the dreary Chris Purdie-directed video for the even-drearier Coma Wall track “Summer,” and rightly so, since Wood and Wire, the split with Undersmile from whence “Summer” comes, was released on Shaman Recordings. The brilliance of that split was in the fact that Coma Wall and Undersmile are the same people, the acoustic project is an alter-ego of Undersmile, so they essentially released a split with themselves. I’ll give you a second to pick up the pieces of your shattered psyche.
Now then. Check out the clip for “Summer” below and prepare for maximum atmospherics and Sap-style harmonies. Also watch out for the bear about two minutes in.
Coma Wall, “Summer” official video
The band are now looking forward to returning to the stage in 2014 and are taking bookings. They’ve recently been confirmed for ‘Kin Hell Fest in May 2014, and have already announced gigs supporting Beehoover in Oxford in March, Dopethrone at the Underworld in June and The Rigger, Stoke with Space Witch, full dates below. They are also in the process of planning their first trip to France so if you would like to help with a date, please contact the band.
In COMA WALL news, the band recently enlisted doom-cinematic director Chris Purdie (of MERRIN) to produce an atmospheric video for Wood & Wire’s opening track ‘Summer.’
Director Chris Purdie had this to say about the video: “I just tried to capture the essence of both Wood & Wire’s sleeve imagery and the recorded sounds using a combination of stock footage mixed with bits I shot myself. The aim was to create a film that looked warm, but felt cold. Inviting, yet dangerous. In a way, it’s a continuation for the video I put together for Thine which was also comprised of stock. The process is more involving because when you begin putting a video like this together, you really don’t have any idea of where to start or what footage you can use. The process of finding the perfect combination of imagery for the sounds can take time, but you earn a greater understanding for both mediums through the process. I try to take this approach with all my film/music work, that’s just how my brain works, I guess.”
Posted in Features on February 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Every now and again I get asked to write a band bio. I’m happy to do it when I’m able, but it always takes me an absurdly long time to get it completed. Still, when Conan comes calling, it’s either step up or face some kind of doomly ceremonial beheading, so I figured I’d better get on it. If nothing else, I was happy to have an excuse to put on their new album, Blood Eagle(review here), which will be out late this month/early next month on Napalm Records.
After a few rounds back and forth correcting my many uses of the literary device known as the “typo,” here’s how it came out:
CONAN, BloodEagle bio
With monolithic tones and barbarian tales, Conan were born to destroy. The Northwestern UK trio of guitarist/vocalist Jon Paul Davis, bassist/vocalist Phil Coumbe and drummer Paul O’Neil began in 2006 with the Battle in the Swamp EP as their first outing in 2007, but it was 2010’s Horseback Battle Hammer EP that first caught the attention of the international underground, and the impression of Conan’s “caveman battle doom” was immediate. Songs like “Satsumo” and “Krull” showed that just because the band sounded big didn’t mean they couldn’t also write a song, and when their debut long-player, Monnos, followed in 2012 preceded by a 2011 split with Slomatics, the response was duly huge.
A slot at the Netherlands’ prestigious Roadburn festival in 2012 resulted in 2013’s Mount Wrath live album, and Conan continued to shake venue floors and cave in chest cavities wherever they played. Touring Europe, they shared the stage with Sleep in Norway and in 2013, Conan featured at Desertfest in London, laying waste to Camden’s famed Underworld club alongside Chicago’s Bongripper, with whom they also released a split EP, Conan’s contribution coming in the form of the sprawling, droned-out “Beheaded,” their longest song to date at over 17 minutes.
After tracking them using forensic experts and analysis of the footprints the band left stomping across the UK and Europe to support Monnos, including at the 2013 Damnation Festival, Napalm Records signed Conan for the release of their second album. Davis, in turn, set about building a temple. Working with the band’s longtime producer Chris Fielding, he constructed Skyhammer Studio, where, as the house engineer, Fielding would helm 2014’s Blood Eagle for Napalm as both Conan’s and the studio’s reputation continued to grow.
To celebrate their return with their most accomplished blend yet of riff-largesse and memorable hooks, topped off as always by Tony Roberts artwork featuring their mascot “The Sentinel,” Conan set forth a full European tour for Spring 2014, including a return to Roadburn and appearances at Doom Over Leipzig, Droneburg Festival, Temples Festival, the St. Helena Doom Fest and France’s famed Hellfest. Their shows already the stuff of legend and the Blood Eagle songs being their most bludgeoning material, Conan’s conquering days have just begun.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
This coming May, Future Noise will bring together a pairing of abrasive UK sludgers for a split 12″ of considerable nastiosity. The Sleeping Shaman streamed two tracks from it today, and the combination of Bastard of the Skies and Grimpen Mire works out to be basically like asking the audience whether they’d prefer to the punched in the left side of the face or the right. I don’t know if there’s any letup over the course of the 12″, but there certainly doesn’t seem to be much in “Yarn” or “The Hollow Wreck,” as you can hear via the link below.
BASTARD OF THE SKIES & GRIMPEN MIRE To Release 12” Via Future Noise; Track Stream From Both Bands Now Available!
Future Noise is ecstatic to announce the coming together of 2 of the UK’s rising heavyweights in the form of Blackburn’s Noise Rock deviants BASTARD OF THE SKIES and Birmingham’s filth mongers GRIMPEN MIRE for a limited Split 12” which will see the light of day in early May 2014.
Both sides for this behemoth of a release were recorded by BASTARD OF THE SKIES guitarist/vocalist Matt Richardson at his own Full Stack Studio, mastering was handled by the ever faithful James Plotkin while artwork was realised by illustrator Michael Cowell.
And today, The Sleeping Shaman is honoured to bestreaming a track from both bands, ‘Yarn’ by BASTARD OF THE SKIES & ‘The Hollow Wreck’ by GRIMPEN MIRE, now press play below to be devastated by the aural assault you are about to hear…
Tracklisting for the split is as follows:
BASTARD OF THE SKIES side: A1. Yarn A2. Bao Fu A3. Wounder A4. Old Vessels
GRIMPEN MIRE side: B1. The Hollow Wreck B2. Vermin Hive B3. Fragments of Forgotten Craft
More news on Pre-Orders and release date will be announced soon!
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Look at that fucking lineup. God damn. I mean, Desertfest London killed it last year with Unida and Dozer and Lowrider and Pentagram, etc., but man, with Spirit Caravan and Boris and The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and everyone else on this bill, it might be even bigger. From Pombagira and The Cosmic Dead to Weedeater and Samsara Blues Experiment, it’s the kind of thing that no doubt will make you want to be three places in once. Monkey 3, Sasquatch and Graves at Sea. Come on. That’s not even fair.
Two more added to the pile today in the form of native UK acts Baron Greenback and Dead Existence. Announcements follow courtesy of the Desertfest website:
Baron Greenback See Red at DesertFest 2014
Despite Baron Greenback’s decision to avoid labelling themselves as any particular genre, the culmination of their talents and styles lands them smack in the middle of what a good DesertFest band should be: riff-laden, thick as mud and full of heavy grooves.
With a mission to “create music which shifts through different textures and soundscapes whilst remaining interesting, captivating and challenging”, the ‘Greenback acknowledge they still need to retain a groove that people can appreciate. However, the major thing that sets them apart from the pack is a slight edge of funk to keep your mosh pit-ready toes dancing.
Since forming in South-West England in 2009, this heavy quartet have been very busy; they’ve shared stages with the likes of Serpent Venom, Alunah, Karma to Burn, Slab, Honky, Desert Storm, and more recently the mighty EYEHATEGOD, Orange Goblin, Kylesa and Graveyard. Above all, the band pride themselves on simply playing whatever style of music thunders out of their instruments naturally, and we’re certainly lucky that their musical second nature has landed them alongside the heavyweights to give them all a funky kick in the pants.
Kind Words: Cat Jones
It’s a Dead Existence Once Again at DesertFest 2014
Veteran sludge warlords Dead Existence cite “Misery” and “Hatred” as the main influences for their brand of savage metallic brutality.
Boasting tracks that push the 15 minute mark, a Dead Existence show is a safe place for those phobic of ballads, tambourines or a sense of wellbeing. The band’s experience is evident as they expertly blend elements of Doom, Sludge and Hardcore into their cauldron of hatred, concocting a potion of formidable potency. Dark, brooding and atmospheric interludes whisper reassurances in your ear, but dare to trust this feral beast and you’ll be the victim of the unrelenting and merciless fury that waits around the corner.
Brave Dead Existence at DesertFest 2014, I urge you. One thing is for sure: the only moment a lighter will be held aloft is in search of an escape route after these London-dwelling Leviathans challenge the foundations of the venue to a duel, and rise victorious.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
As you can see in the banner above, the lineup for Desertfest 2014 in London wasn’t exactly hurting as it was, but to have Weedeater get added yesterday and top off the week today with announcing that Boris had signed on to headline alongside Spirit Caravan and Kvelertak, and well, I guess we can call 2014 the year Desertfest “went for it.” Goodness gracious, that’s a solid bill. Makes me want to take out a loan to get there to see it.
While my broke, overworked and underpaid ass hangs its head in an all-too-familiar shame, here are the announcements, snagged off the Desertfest website, with compliments to Tom Geddes, who wrote them:
TOKYO EXPERIMENTALISTS BORIS TO HEADLINE DESERTFEST 2014!
And so we announce our final headliner for DesertFest 2014 – Japanese experimental legends Boris!
How on Earth can you capture Boris’ sound in words? It’s beyond impossible; from drone, to sludge, to doom, to psyche, to ambient, to noise rock, to pop, here is a band that you can’t pigeonhole. But it’s in that unpredictable, ever-marching progression that the excitement lies.
Boris formed in 1992 on the extreme fringes of the Japanese hardcore punk scene before flying in every musical direction you can think of. Spending most of their life as a multi-instrumentalist three piece – consisting of Atsuo on drums, Wata on guitar and keyboards and Takeshi on bass, with all three sharing vocal duties – Boris have released just shy of a couple of dozen full lengths in their time on this mortal plane, with no two sounding too alike. Notable influences on Boris are Sleep and The Melvins – which might explain their high yield of records – as well as Nick Cave and even Venom.
The best starting points for a Boris exploration are 2005’s ‘Pink’ –which is perhaps one of their more accessible albums for the casual listener, yet still full of their signature leaps and bounds – and both 2002’s ‘Heavy Rocks’ and 2011’s ‘Heavy Rocks II’ which sit on a more laid back, straight-up stoner rock scale. If you’re more into drone, why not start with the first few releases; or even better, ‘Alter’, a phenomenal collaborative double album with SunnO))). Or you may want to try something completely different, in which case enter the batshit crazy world of 2010’s ‘New Album’ – a blend of J-Pop, shoegaze, psyche and industrial metal. The point is, these guys can do anything, and do it bloody well!
So if you want your mind blown by a band who don’t only surprise you with what’s around the corner, but change the shape of the corner itself, then you must get yourself down to the Electric Ballroom on Sunday night and stand both slack-jawed and in awe. Oh, and if you’re still not convinced, they also incorporate a massive gong into their shows, which is reason enough to be there.
Kana: Tom Geddes
Weedeater Chomping at the Herbal Bit for DesertFest 2014
DesertFest is beyond pleased to announce Saturday night’s sub-headliners, North Carolina’s southern metal bad asses, Weedeater!
An uncompromising power-trio full of sludge, groove and straight-up metal, Weedeater’s aggressive, bone-crunching madness is quite a sight to behold on stage. Fronted by the manic, growling bassist, “Dixie” Dave Collins (also of Buzzov*en and Bongzilla fame), alongside fret-master Dave “Shep” Shepherd and former sticksman Keith “Keko” Kirkum, Weedeater introduced themselves to the world at large with 2001’s ‘…And Justice for Y’all’. What we got in that record was down-tuned, crashing ferocity; and boy did it feel good. The energy that pulsed through that LP was a jolt to the heart and a kick to the face and it’s a trend that followed right through 2002’s ‘Sixteen Tons’ and 2007’s ‘God Luck and Good Speed’ – the latter of which could find itself easily on many an album of the decade list.
Right around the time of the recording of the fourth LP, Weedeater shot themselves in the foot a little bit in the form of Dixie actually shooting himself in the foot. Gladly, a few months down the line – armed with one hell of an anecdote they gave us ‘Jason…The Dragon’, a slightly more experimental take on Weedeater. The brief appearance of banjo and organ appeared without the loss of any of their earthquaking noise to which we had become accustomed.
As clichéd as it might sound, whilst sublime on record, you just can’t capture the feel of Weedeater until you’ve seen them live; only when you’ve stared into Dixie’s “I’ve seen things” crazy eyes and been showered in the splintered remnants of drumsticks can you really get a grip on them. Must see is an understatement.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
They don’t really go too much into it in the list of tour dates, but the Doomed Gatherings fest that Gonga are playing on April 20 in Paris is actually pretty badass. Running three days, April 18-20, it’s got Windhand, Inter Arma, Elder, Pombagira, Year of No Light, Hull, Necro Deathmort, The Socks and The Body on the bill, so you know, no small shakes should you happen to find yourself in Paris this spring. Gonga‘s latest outing, Concresence, was streamed here back in October, and this is reportedly only the first leg of their European tour in support of the album.
Dates and details in blue:
GONGA (UK) – EURO TOUR 2o14 ~1st leg
Clawing their way out of the dank blackness of their riff research laboratory and hungry for the flesh of new twisted listeners, Gonga bring forth a new offering – a Concrescence.
In the five years since their last outpouring of un-anchored HeavyRock, Transmigration, Gonga managed to lose/fire/upset every bass player in the region. Brothers Thomas (dramatic battery) and George (riff philosophy) having survived war and mental abuse from the outside world found a new phenomenon walking the golden triangle right in front of their (third) eyes; a specialist in detail – you could say a time-stretch professional. And so, Latch self-sacrificed himself to the group before he even joined; the perfect combination of Geezer Butler and Cliff Burton muttering arcane wisdom.
A trinity of Earth forms was instantly created; bull, goat, ram. The strength of the triangle allowed the 3 to set about HeavyRock construction. Without singer the aim became to create aural landscapes for band and listener to use as a launchpad for remote viewing, for mental and spiritual enlightenment and for emotional therapy. One could refer to it as instrumental HeavyRock for the philosophical connoisseur.
Riff research and late night experimentations led the trio into unexplored territories of voiceless riff/rhythm. Years passed and the brew grew strong, as did the urge to commit the aural paintings to vinyl. Six tracks, two sides – Concrescence, a region of complexity in comparison to its surroundings.
Gonga hail from Bristol, UK. This is their third album. They have toured with Mondo Generator and High On Fire and have performed at DunaJam in Sardinia, Glastonbury and Download Festivals as well as recording a Maida Vale session for Zane Lowe (Radio 1). Their favourite colour is black or green or something probably.
DATES: 17-4 B,Brussels – L’os Moelle w/ Cojones 18-4 NL, Leiden – Cab 03 w/ Tank86 & Bone Man 19-4 B, Liege – La Zone w/ Wardhill & Six Months Of Sun 20-4 FR, Paris – Glazart *Doomed Gatherings w/ The Socks 21-4 LU, Luxembourg City – Rocas 22-4 D, Solingen – Waldmeister w/ Cojones 23-4 D, Nürnberg – K4 w/ Tempel 24-4 CZ, Prague – tba 25-4 D, Berlin – Urban Spree *unofficial Desertfest Aftershow 26-4 NL, Schoonhoven – DeBastille w/ The Socks
His hood up, his mouth stretched wide in a guttural shout that seems to shake his whole body, Conan guitarist/vocalist Jon Paul Davis gives the impression that there’s little of his being not being hurled from the stage at his audience. As the trio of Davis, bassist/vocalist Phil Coumbe and drummer Paul O’Neil, Conan make their debut on Napalm Records in 2014 with their second full-length, Blood Eagle(review here), an album that arrives as the payoff of a creative and popular ascent that began with 2010′s Horseback Battle HammerEP (review here). Through that release, the subsequent 2011 split with Slomatics (review here), their 2012 debut long-player, Monnos(review here), and 2013′s Mount Wrath: Live at Roadburn 2012 and split with Bongripper, Conan have established a base of rumbling low end tone that few seem to be able to match. With thematics drawn from the fantasy conquests of Robert E. Howard, J. R. R. Tolkien and others, Conan‘s aesthetic has become focused on the big, the brutal and the badass. It is a near-perfect amalgam of theory and practice.
Before recording Blood Eagle, Davis built Skyhammer Studio, a professional, live-in facility adjacent to his home in Cheshire, UK, and hired engineer Chris Fielding — with whom he’d previously worked at Foel Studios in Wales — to take up residency. Already, Skyhammer has become a hub of the UK scene, with the likes of Serpent Venom, Coltsblood, Stubb and Greenhorn tracking there, and to complement, Davis has started a record label, Black Bow Records, putting out Conan‘s Horseback Battle Hammer and Monnos on tape as well as releases byBast and a split between Fister and Norska.
The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jon Paul Davis
How did you come to do what you do?
I was 15 or 16 and had just started playing guitar (a cheap Spanish acoustic). I begged my parents for a guitar after they tried to get me into playing keyboard. I remember having a couple of lessons, a year or two later, and I wasn’t very good but one lunch time I told a friend of mine that I was going to play guitar on stage when I was older. Since then I have stopped and started being in various nondescript bands and then Conan happened and I get to do what my 16-year-old self promised himself back in 1992. I’ve just been been really driven to do this.
Describe your first musical memory.
Two early ones, not sure which is the first. Dancing to Shakin’ Stevens when I was three or four years old in a cafe and people were clapping, I was able to go up onto my tip toes the way he did. Another memory is of my Great Grandmother, who was brought up in Tipperary but brought up her side of our family in Kirkby (North of Liverpool), who used to sing a song like “Irish Eyes are Smiling” or “If You’re Irish Come into the Parlour” or something like that. We always used to have sing-alongs in our house whenever we had that half of my family over. It was awesome and I remember a real sense of belonging and “family” at that young age.
Describe your best musical memory to date.
A tough one. But I would say there was a few weeks when Horseback Battle Hammer was released when it suddenly became apparent that we had unknowingly created something that people we’re into. When Uge from Throne Records emailed me to say that he would put it out in vinyl it made me think, “Wow, we’re actually going to release something on a proper record label.” This sticks out for me because up until that point I had just played in bands as a hobby, and always wished I could get “signed” to a label… Those first stages of becoming aware of people noticing us was very intense, I’ll never forget it. There have been many since that I have already discussed before so I’ll leave them for another time.
When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?
I always believe that losing loved ones should be an “occasion,” something you build up to and kind of prepare for. The world wouldn’t just take people away without warning. This has been challenged twice so far with the death of my Grandmother Harriet Fitzsimmons, and my oldest friend Ted Evans. My Grandmother died suddenly on her way to a friend’s house back in 1998 and I still miss her now. Last year, at the end of March I was watching my children playing on a trampoline in Spain when I got a phone call to say that my mate Ted had died. I couldn’t believe it. Ted was the same age as me and died suddenly of a heart attack. He was a great old friend and has left a huge hole in my heart. My Grandfather John Fitzsimmons (someone who I will always look up to as a great example of a hard working honest Liverpool man) died after a long illness and his passing was almost bearable because it had seemed that his time had come and we had all been able to prepare for it. I will always remember sleeping over in my Grandparents house in Norris Green, waking up the next day and being taken by my Nan on the bus to meet my Grandad. When I got a bit older I started going the game with my friends (Ted and a few others) but I would always meet my Grandad in the pub (The Top House in Walton) and I never thought those times would go so fast. Those moments that you never feel as they slip through your fingers. These losses have always made me realise that things aren’t going to last forever and you should enjoy everything you have. I never used to bother with this, I used to take things for granted, but not anymore.
Where do you feel artistic progression leads?
I feel that progression leads to sharpness and you can never stop sharpening your blade. It can always be “sharper” no matter what you think of yourself. Progression often means diversification to some people. Take certain bands, as they progress they sometimes change from what made them them in the first place. I guess it is a process of taking what you have and making the most of it.
How do you define success?
I think bring successful is gaining what you want from a given situation. For me, being happy by doing something I enjoy makes me feel successful. It makes me feel like I am spending my time wisely. I once had a well paid job as HR Manager in a profitable business but I swapped that nine-to-five stuff for a recording studio, a record label and a touring band. I earn less in a monetary sense from these things than I did from the day job but I feel “successful” every day because I get to be at home with the kids at home time and I get to cook their meals every day, I can also tour much more easily. That is real success in my opinion, enjoying life while doing things you want and keeping those around you happy. If you apply this to being in a band some will say that successful bands are those on the biggest label doing the coolest tours. However, that situation might be beneficial financially but it does not necessarily make you happy — it might not keep your soul warm.
What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?
I saw my Grandmother Harriet Fitzsimmons lying in hospital in the final minutes of life following a fatal heart attack. I was a young boy but I sat at her bedside with the rest of my family as she slipped away, talking to her, asking her not to go. She was a lovely woman and I was very attached to her, her memory brings a tear to my eye every single time without fail and I still remember chatting to her earlier that day and wished I had done so for longer. But after we heard of her heart attack I was taken to hospital by an Uncle and he wouldn’t talk to me or confirm what had happened and the first I saw of her was in bed, obviously slipping away. I held her hand and talked to her but seeing her die this way led to many years of anxiety attacks and mild depression. I decided to develop my own coping mechanisms rather than take medication, and now I am no longer affected in the same way but seeing my Nanna pass away in the manner that I did was obviously something my young mind couldn’t cope with.
Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.
My wife and I are currently in the early stages of having an office built in the cellar of our house. I wish to create in this space a solid base for Skyhammer Studio and Black Bow Records. With this set up I hope to progress both of these businesses so I can help bands who are under the radar to get a great quality recording and, hopefully, they can get the same feelings I got back when Horseback Battle Hammer was released, should the recording be picked up by my own label or a different one. Additionally the studio is of such a high quality, and with the very talented Chris Fielding as resident producer, I hope it will continue to attract the high calibre of established bands that we have booked in so far. Chris and I can hopefully create a go-to studio for music recording in the UK.
Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?
1. I’m getting the stop lights fixed on the band’s tour bus tomorrow. I’ve been driving round for a month with no brake lights!!!!
2. On Saturday it is my daughter’s fourth birthday and I am really looking forward to seeing her at the centre of attention.
3. Conan touring starts in March and I just cannot express how much I want to get back playing live again.
Conan, “Gravity Chasm” Live at Desertfest London 2013
Posted in Reviews on January 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Consolamentum is the fourth full-length from increasingly progressive UK-based doomers The Wounded Kings and also their debut on Candlelight Records. It’s also their most consistent album-to-album lineup in the band since 2010′s The Shadow over Atlantis (review here) followed 2008′s Embrace of the Narrow Housedebut with just the founding duo of guitarist/keyboardist Steve Mills and bassist/vocalist George Birch, who was out following The Wounded Kings‘ 2010 split with Cough, An Introduction to the Black Arts(review here), as Mills constructed a more complete lineup of the band that would be able to play live. The third album, 2011′s In the Chapel of the Black Hand(review here), arrived with a markedly quick turnaround considering that apart from Mills it was entirely new players involved — vocalist Sharie Neyland, drummer Myke Heath, bassist Jim Willumsen and guitarist Alex Kearney – and particularly with Neyland‘s haunting vocal resonance, tapped into dark elements of cult metal to coincide with three extended pieces the doom of which was complete and encompassing. On Consolamentum, all parties but Willumsen return, and though it’s somewhat ironic that with largely the same group they’d also have their longest break between records to date (three years), with Al Eliadis on bass and Chris Fielding producing, The Wounded Kings have created an album that feels like their most band-oriented work yet, recorded live and brimming with atmospheric density.
Like In the Chapel of the Black Hand, Consolamentum finds The Wounded Kings working with and around an extended trinity of songs. Opener “Gnosis” is the longest of the bunch (immediate points) at 13:20, and its complemented by the centerpiece title-track at 9:08 and the penultimate “The Silence” at 12:14. All three work at the hypnotic crawl one might expect from The Wounded Kings‘ past work — though “Gnosis” picks up toward the end and each seems to offer a payoff of its own — but there’s development evident not just in how well the five-piece work together over the course of Consolamentum‘s 47 minutes, but also in where they go. Each of the longer works is complemented by a shorter one, and as “Elige Magistrum” starts with a pickslide that such a perfect port of that from the beginning of Black Sabbath‘s “Into the Void” that I wondered at first if it might be a sample (it isn’t), it becomes clear that not only are The Wounded Kings reveling in the bleak, deep-running murk of their own tones and the ritual elements that Mills brings to tracks like “Lost Bride” with long-held Hammond notes, they’re also having fun doing it. Completely instrumental, “Elige Magistrum” (1:29) is essentially the band jamming on a riff. It just so happens that when The Wounded Kings do it, it sounds like the end of the world. The subdued “Space Conqueror” (2:23) follows “Consolamentum” and while the actual sound of it is minimalist and arguably the most brooding stretch on the record, it’s also called “Space Conqueror,” so, you know, it’s not without a sense of levity.
Posted in Reviews on January 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’re ever looking to win an award for understatement, call Peter French‘s resumé “enviable.” In 1971, the same year Leaf Hound put out their seminal Growers of Mushroom debut LP, French was fronting Atomic Rooster for the In Hearing Of…album, and 1972 found him taking over for Rusty Day in Cactus for ‘Ot ‘n’ Sweaty. It was a short period of time, but a few landmark contributions. Though Growers of Mushroomwas widely bootlegged and officially reissued along the way, Leaf Hound wouldn’t put out another record until 2007′s Unleashed. With French up front, guitarist Luke Rayner, bassist Ed Pearson and drummer Jimmy Rowland, they’d begun playing out again circa 2004, released a live single through Rise Above in 2006 as a precursor to the album, continuing to tour and do periodic shows. They appeared at Roadburn in 2006 and 2012 both — at the latter playing Growers of Mushroomin full — and at Desertfest in 2012, and in July of that year did two nights in Tokyo that are now presented through Ripple Music as the Live in Japan 2012 CD/DVD (or LP/DVD) package. It’s noteworthy for a few reasons, among them that although they switched out Pearson for Peter Herbert on bass, this incarnation of Leaf Hound had already been active more than five years, over twice as long as the band’s original run.
Of course, Leaf Hound continues in large part to be defined by Growers of Mushroom and the swagger of that era, something that French‘s voice is able to convey some 40 years later on Live inJapan, but on the CD, cuts from Unleashedfeature pretty heavily as well. And where the studio version of that album didn’t quite convey the same kind of spontaneous edge, on stage in Tokyo the newer material meshes well with the old, so that original cuts like “Freelance Fiend” — as signature a riff as the band has — “Work My Body” and “With a Minute to Go” fit easily alongside “Barricades,” “Stop, Look and Listen,” and “One Hundred and Five Degrees.” A vinyl-ready 38 minutes for the audio portion concludes with the Howlin’ Wolf cover “Evil,” which Cactus also covered prior to French joining. There are a few bold exclusions from the CD, including “Sad Road to the Sea” and “Growers of Mushroom,” but the former seems not to have been played at all and the latter appears on the DVD with an extended jam featuring a bass solo from Herbert and subsequent guitar spaceout from Rayner that presumably would’ve put the audio over a vinyl runtime. Add to that the jam in “Work My Body” and maybe Leaf Hound were concerned about upsetting the flow of the audio or repeating themselves too much. Still, as omissions go, those are noteworthy ones for fans of the band.