This past weekend, in Portland, the fourth Ceremony of Sludge was held at the Tonic Lounge. The likes of Holy Grove, Disenchanter, Diestoand many others played, but notably absent was the trio Lamprey, who headlined the first night of the festival in 2014. The dual-bass three-piece of Justin Brown, Blaine Burnham and Spencer Norman are on a sort of mini-hiatus leading up to the release of their next album, what you might call a “break” rather than a “break-up,” while Brown takes up the bassist role in Witch Mountain and embarks on that band’s rather considerable touring schedule. Also a principal organizer of Ceremony of Sludge, Brown was in NYC this past Saturday opening for YOB and Enslavedwhen the fest was going on. Hey, if you gotta be somewhere.
I asked him about missing his fest at that show and he was bummed (I’ve always had a reverse-knack for conversation) not to be there, but said he’d spend the next however many months editing clips of the bands playing, so he’d get to experience it one way or another. As Lamprey begin to move past their 2012 EP, The Burden of Beasts (review here) and into their new record preceded by the recently-revealed video for “Iron Awake,” they make a fitting conclusion to this series of videos that it’s been my complete pleasure to host. They’re the sixth band — a total of eight played over the two nights last March — but the final clip is their “Lord Fire Giant,” which also closed The Burden of Beasts. In it, we can hear Burnham‘s shouts in all their rawness and hear the interplay of his and Brown‘s basses on the Club 21 stage while Norman keeps the groove in fluid motion, almost a calming presence behind the kit.
The other videos are here if you’d like to catch up, but having dug Lamprey for a few years now and been to-date unable to see them live, the quality footage is appreciated. As we move out of one series of Ceremony of Sludge videos and look forward to hopefully starting another, I’m glad to bring forth “Lord Fire Giant” in all its frothing, molten fury.
Audio is by Tim Burke at Penumbra Sound Arts. Video is by Cole Boggess and Justin Anderson. Please enjoy:
Lamprey, “Lord Fire Giant” Live at Ceremony of Sludge 2014
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Danish heavy psych rockers Gas Giant haven’t been heard from much in the last decade. In 2004, their participation in the High Volume compilation put together by Bobby Black of High Times magazine introduced them to a wider American audience, but by then, the band was already winding down. With two records under their collective belt — 2000’s Pleasant Journey in Heavy Tunes and 2003’s Mana – plus the unfinished Portals of Nothingness from 1999, they faded out just as heavy rock was beginning a resurgence, and had they come along either four years earlier or four years later, I’ve no doubt they would’ve garnered more attention around the world. Better late than never.
The axiom applies because the Copenhagen-based four-piece have reactivated. They’ll play a weekender in Germany this week, and in June, return for the Freak Valley festival. Pleasant Journey in Heavy Tunes is set for reissue via Space Rock Productions, and other releases might follow as well if the response warrants.
Below, Scott “Dr. Space” Heller offers the story of Gas Giant and a video of their new lineup rehearsing the song “Never Leave this Way” from their 2001 split with WE from Norway:
GAS GIANT is back!
Gas Giant formed in 1996 under the name Blind Man Buff with Pete Hell on Drums, Thomas Carstensen on bass, Stefan Krey on guitars and Jesper Valentin on vocals. In April 1997, the Blind Man Buff EP was recorded and released the next year. In 1999, they changed the name to Gas Giant and recorded a record called Portals of Nothingness which showed a more melodic and spacey direction but this was not released as the band was not really happy with the sound production, despite the amazing songs, several of which the band would rerecord on later albums. We sold this on CD-R at the shows between 2001-2004 so about 50 copies exist on CD-R.
In late 1999 and early 2000, their now classic record, Pleasant Journey in Heavy Tunes (Burnt Hippie Recordings) was recorded. This was released in 2000 and the band rerecorded their track, Too Stoned, in a slower version than what appeared on the Blind Man Buff EP, which was a real hit on the stoner rock underground and even the lead track on a High Times Magazine compilation CD that came out in 2004.
I first met the guys in November 1998 and started hanging out with them a lot and recording their shows and rehearsals and running a primitive web site (before Kim took over), and managing the band. In 2000, Pete Hell left the band and they had Kjeld on drums for about a year before he split in April 2001. I started playing with the band in November 2001, when they recorded the tracks for the split LP with the Norwegian band WE. I played on the track Firetripper. Tommy replaced Kjeld in August 2001. From Nov 2001 to 2004 I played at most of the bands live concerts and recorded every show, which you can hear at the link below for the archive.org web site. There are 45 shows that have been downloaded 65,000 times! In 2002, the band recorded and released the Mana record on the Elektrohasch label on CD and the Nasoni record label on vinyl in an abbreviated version. The band played quite a few shows in support of the record in Finland, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and Germany.
The band was really amazing live and changed the set every night and did amazing jamming at each show, which I hope they will continue to do with the new lineup. The underground German press called them the Grateful Dead of stoner rock and we did a lot of amazing improvisation and jamming on tracks like Never leave this Way, Back on the Headless Track, Ride the Red Horse and Storm of my Enemies. These were the real jam tracks that were very different every night. The live show reviews were always great. If the band had really had the time to play more shows at this time, I really think they would have been as big or bigger than bands like Nebula, Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet, at least in Germany, but they were all having children and it was harder and harder to live this life and tour. In 2004, they decided to take a different turn in the music and lose the synthesizers (and me) and try with a more mainstream sound. The next two years they struggled and eventually the band broke up with Jesper leaving. Although the band would play the occasional party or reunion show for special events like Ralph Rjeily’s Tribute show, they did not really exist as a band.
Come 2015 and Gas Giant is back! The band has a new energy with the addition of a new bass player, Kasper (Bleeder Group, Dyreforsøg, Megafon, Gyserfilm, and Marte) and drummer, Martin (Psyched up Janis, The Univerzals, Fri Galaxe, The Saints) replacing original member Thomas (bass) and Tommy (who drummed with the band since 2001). Here is a short video of the band rehearsing from march 21st, 2015. Just sneak preview of the new line up!
The band is out on the road in 2015 with the following confirmed dates:
Thu, Mar 26 Schaubude, Kiel, Germany Fri, Mar 27 Cafe Tiko, Erfurt, Germany Sat Mar 28th Zukunft :: Ranch am Ostkreuz, Berlin, DE Thurs April 30th HDDT, Loppen, Christiania, DK Thurs June 4th Freak Valley Festival, DE
In June this year, the Pleasant Journey in Heavy Tunes will be released as a single vinyl lp on the Space Rock Productions label with additional sales and distribution via Kozmik Artifactz in Germany. If this does well, other old Gas Giant material may be released as well on vinyl.
Posted in audiObelisk on March 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
London heavy psych rockers Bright Curse will release their new single, Shaman, on March 20. The two-songer arrives two years and two bassists on from Bright Curse‘s 2013 self-titled debut (review here), and while there was discussion of a new EP before their next album as a showcase for where the new lineup are headed sonically, I’m pretty sure the single will be serving that purpose instead. For what it’s worth, it does so readily, finding guitarist/vocalist Romain Daut, drummer Zacharie Mizzi and new bassist Max Ternebring melding raw psychedelia and fuzz with heavier push and grunge elements. Of course, in terms of getting to know the band again, the fact that “Shaman” and “Fear the Lord” top 15 minutes when played back to back helps, but even more telling is the atmospheric focus the band displays in that time.
“Fear the Lord” is the shorter of the two cuts at 6:30 and has some satisfying chug to it, but “Shaman” nears nine minutes in length and is more open sonically, early punch and angularity moving into smoothed-out nod and not taking long before shifting into a consuming exploratory jam, Ternebring leading the way, his bass soon joined by ebow-ish guitar and a pervasive classic-prog feel that only increases as the build mounts, giving way eventually to another verse and the apex of the song. Where “Fear the Lord” is more about its hook, “Shaman” itself indicates at a breadth of songwriting expanding since the debut’s release and brought to life with clarity and passion by this latest incarnation of Bright Curse. The differences in structure alone make it harder to guess where Bright Curse might be headed following Shaman, but both tracks portray the band as coming into their own, and that’s always an excellent place to start.
Bright Curse will embark on a round of Ephel Duath-presented tour dates next month with Elephant Tree to herald the single’s arrival, and you’ll find the shows along with some PR wire info under the player below, on which you can hear the streaming premiere of “Shaman,” which it is my pleasure to host. Hope you enjoy:
New single “Shaman” comes along another song entitled “Fear The Lord”, both being available on the band’s Bandcamp as well as all digital platforms on March 20th. The tracks were recorded in London, and mastered by Tony Reed (Mos Generator, Stone Axe) at HeavyHead Recording studios.
BRIGHT CURSE’s frontman Romain Daut comments on this new material: “We wanted to record a single with our new bass mästare Max to show the evolution in our sound, so we wrote “Shaman” in January and recorded it in February. With this song, we tried to find a way between old school riffs and lumberjack heaviness. Max brings more energy and feeling to the band, and I think it’s all over those two songs. It’s a brand new alchemy for Bright Curse.”
BRIGHT CURSE will head back to the studio later in 2015 to record their second album to date. The trio will hit the road on March 16th for a short Euro tour.
“Shaman” will be available March 20th on all digital platforms. Artwork by Elvisdead.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Albuquerque’s favorite sons Leeches of Lore have completed recording their new album, Motel of Infinity, with the venerable Toshi Kasai (Melvins, etc.) at the helm. A joyous occasion, to be sure. All that remains is to actually have the thing come out, and to that end, them Leeches boys have set up a Kickstarter in order to cover mastering and pressing costs for Motel of Infinity and do it right. If you’ve got a spare five or 10 grand laying around, they’ll apparently travel to wherever you are and play your house — my living room would never be the same, and neither would yours; think of the blown fuses! — but they’re also including stuff like advance downloads, their vinyl catalog and exclusive artwork as incentives.
They’ve also posted an unmastered and edited version of the song “Jeep Marmalade” as a sampler of the kind of chicanery you’d be supporting with your contribution. Word came down the PR wire and it looked a little something like this:
Leeches of Lore New Album Recorded by Toshi Kasai! Kickstarter up now!
Recently we had the pleasure to record our new album with the one and only Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Big Business, Robert Fripp, Tool, The Ventures, Foo Fighters, Willie Nelson, Helmet, Bette Midler, etc., etc.) at his Sound of Sirens studio in Los Angeles.
The mixes sound great and we don’t want to cut any corners on this album, so we need your help to finish it in the best way possible.
We need to raise money to have it mastered for both vinyl and digital release by Golden Mastering (from Heart to Black Flag to Sonic Youth to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, John Golden and Co. have over 40 years of mastering experience), and to have the best vinyl pressing and packaging we can get. We are also doing a limited run of cassettes.
Here’s the cost breakdown: $1000 for the vinyl mastering $1000 for the digital mastering $3000 for vinyl pressing and packaging
Asking for donations has never been our thing and we have taken a DIY approach to all our recordings since the beginning, but we think this album deserves to sound the best we can make it.
To sweeten the deal, we are recording a 5 song EP of all new music that will only be available to those who pledge $25 or more.
Please check out our pledge levels for more exclusive goodies! Including: limited edition t-shirts, one of a kind album covers, a Kickstarter only live and rare compilation, our entire discography, a song written and recorded just for you, and the band playing at your house anywhere in the world!
We really appreciate all the support we’ve had throughout the earth in our almost 8 years of existence, and we want to give you the best sounding album that we can.
Hampshire, UK, riff mongers XII Boar will release their debut album, Pitworthy, next Monday, March 9. The full-length follows two EPs and a single and is rife with burl-boogie and dudely, carnivorous groove. When it comes to “Rock City,” the penultimate track on the record before the 11-minute “Quint” closes out, XII Boar are less distinct in their geography than, say, KISS, who were practically selling maps with a logo on them, but with a fervent sludge-blues shuffle, they seem more than content to lead the way there and let their audience follow along. Pied Pipers of Heavytown.
That’s a stretch perhaps — something tells me XII Boar can take a bit of ball-busting — but the song is maddeningly catchy, and where a cut like preceding “Battle Boar” is all metallic tension and build, “Rock City” is more of a standalone in emphasizing the post-Orange Goblin gruffness to which XII Boar bring a Southern metal flair. They’ve got something in the works for this summer — one imagines a UK or European tour — but they’ll play a release show for Pitworthy this Saturday in the meantime, joined by Mother Corona and Steak at the West End Centre in Aldershot. Details on their Thee Facebooks.
Rock City – Taken from the début full-length album ‘Pitworthy’ by UK metal n’ rollers XII Boar (pronounced – Twelve Boar).
XII Boar unleash their first full-length LP, featuring 10 blistering tracks of razor sharp rock and roll for the heavier generation. ‘Pitworthy’ serves up a smorgasbord of groove-laden riffage, irresistibly catchy hooks, straight-to-the-face thrash outs and a bucket-load of hip swaying, booty shakin’ metal.
Recorded at the legendary Parlour Studios by Neil Haynes. Album Artwork by Beak – Six of One. Video shot and produced by Adam Thomas.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 25th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Never heard of Cities of Mars? Don’t sweat it. I hadn’t either until bassist/vocalist/spacetime-transmissionist Danne Palm (formerly of Monolord) reached out yesterday to inform of his intentions to lead the newcomer trio into the studio this Spring to record their debut album. No audio yet, but the band’s concept sold me on it anyway, inventing a tale of a successful Soviet expedition to Mars in the 1970s and chronicling the experience there of a female cosmonaut who arrives to discover an ancient civilization.
Sounds pretty awesome, right? I’d read that short story, and when the time comes, I’ll check out the record. Until they go in to track the beast, with Monolord‘s Esben Willems no less, there’s just the basic announcement to go by, so here’s that in case you’d like an early glimpse at what they’ll be going for in the studio:
The Cities of Mars revealed via Monolord producer in 2015
Vocalist/bassist and Cities of Mars’ main songwriter Danne Palm co-formed and wrote material with Swedish doom titans Monolord in early 2013, formed from the ashes of Sweden’s hardest working boogie rock band Marulk. Wanting to pursue another musical direction, Cities of Mars emerged in 2014 with guitarist/vocalist Christoffer Norén (also in Benevolent) and drummer Anders Runesson. Keeping a close friendship with the guys in Monolord, drummer/engineer/producer Esben Willems was happy to offer his massive-sound producing skills for a two track single scheduled for recording in late spring 2015.
Not only a power trio with experienced musicians, Cities of Mars also features an extensive background story dating back to 9000 BC, closely knit into the lyrics and artwork – an extra treat for those sci-fi, fantasy and comic aficionados out there.
In the early 1970’s, the Soviet Union made several attempts to land on Mars. Officially, they failed.
What if the opposite was true, that a highly trained female operative succeeded in landing on the red planet and found a dark ancient civilization buried beneath the surface?
Cities of Mars has risen to tell this tale, with an asteroid-sized hulk of spaced out, fuzz-drenched, high gravity riffage. With three experienced rock musicians cranking the best out of their songcraft and high wattage amps, a dramatic interplanetary mythology dating back thousands of years is revealed, piece by piece, song by song.
While Philadelphia-based Randall Coon has a few prior digital releases under his belt for the solo-project Skunk Hawk, as I understand it, the six-song self-titled/self-released tape is the first to receive a physical pressing. The cassette is limited to 100 copies with a pro-printed tape and two-panel j-card, and finds the multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Coon — who appeared with King Buffalo on their 2013 demo (review here) and was in Velvet Elvis at the time of their 2012 release, In Deep Time (review here); both obviously based in Upstate NY — employing a variety of gleefully strange pop textures in a meld of psychedelic folk and bedroom stoner fuzz. Interestingly, the tracklist on the j-card lists the song “Frigidaire,” which closes side two, twice. The download version (not included with the tape, but available on Bandcamp) has it listed with side one comprised of “Water Born Devil,” “High School Ball” and “All My Heart,” and side two “There Will be Another Day, Love” (listed on the tape as “Another Day”), “Lovers of Pompeii” and “Frigidaire,” though in the download version, “Lovers of Pompeii” and “Frigidaire” are the same song. The tape also lists “Stone Embrace” on side two, so maybe there are still some kinks to work out.
My working theory is that “Stone Embrace” and “Lovers of Pompeii” are the same track with a changed title, and that that song is the middle one on side two of the tape, also the most intense of the collection, and that the actual closer of the tape is “Frigidaire,” which has a pulsing bassline and howled hook, which is accidentally listed twice on the tape but doesn’t come in the download. Nonetheless, it’s kind of hard to know what’s where, but however one chooses to listen, there’s plenty to dig into. A rawer form of “There Will be Another Day, Love” appeared on Skunk Hawk‘s 2011 EP, I Fell into the Sea and into the Earth, but other than that, the material here is new, and from the Angelo Badalamenti-style pop drama of “High School Ball” to the church organ-laced rhythmic drive of “Stone Embrace/Lovers of Pompeii,” Coon never relinquishes the experimental edge in the sound. “There Will be Another Day, Love” winds up a highlight for its insistent play of fuzz guitar and keys and Neil Young-via-Arbouretum vocal performance, but the jangly oddity and blown-out singing of “All My Heart” and the subtly-drummed vulnerability of “Water Born Devil” offer likewise satisfying results even if they take different routes to get there. If it’s confusing in a practical way, Skunk Hawk is as proportionally an engaging listen, toying with the balance between fuzzy rock and off-kilter less-frenetic Man Man-style indie songwriting in a manner that few would attempt, and pulling it off while crafting a personality of its own.
One can see easily why after several other releases, Coon might see fit to make Skunk Hawk‘s Skunk Hawk the first physical pressing from the project. I hope it’s not the last. It may be tough to figure out where one is at any given moment, but somehow that makes the listener more receptive to turns like the sneering apex of “Another Day,” “High School Ball”‘s abrasive midsection feedback or the low-mixed currents of effects noise, drones and other flourish sounds that crop up throughout. It’s not a release looking to be fully understood, and that’s one of the most exciting aspects of it.
Posted in Reviews on February 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
As the guitar and bass duo of S.M. (also drums and vocals) and N.B. (also synth and vocals), Blut began a reign of terror in the Dorset, UK, underground with 2010’s Ritual and Ceremony (review here). Their concoctions were immediately an absinthe of ill-intended noise, a wash of murderous disaffection. Grief and Incurable Pain (review here) followed in 2011, and Drop out and Kill (review here) after that in 2012, each one more demented than the last, the coherence of Blut‘s chaos, the precision behind it, serving as one of its most vicious aspects. They owed a minor debt to Dorset’s doom lords, Electric Wizard, but their strain was more virulent and just plain meaner than that bandever showed interest in being. When 2013 came and went without word, it seemed safe to assume S.M. and N.B. had inadvertently conjured a Lovecraftian hellbeast of one sort or another that swifted them off to a darkened plane of existence littered with intestines and other sundry viscera. Turns out that’s not the case. They got a drummer. Bringing on board Shaun Rutter (should he be S.R. from here on out?), who bashed the rolling grooves of Electric Wizard‘s landmark 2007 return, Witchcult Today, and its 2010 follow-up, Black Masses (review here), probably won’t do much to lessen the comparisons between the two groups, but it has made Blut‘s grooves all the more lethal, and the three-song Demo 2014 makes that plain over the course of 44 grueling minutes of slow churn, nasty screams, dense low end and, of course, the psychedelic violence to which Blut has become so prone.
For S.M. and N.B., working with Rutter is a major change, not only in the lineup of Blut, but also the configuration. A trio’s dynamic is much different than that of a duo, and so it makes sense that they might want to feel out the shift with a demo before embarking on a fourth full-length, but to be honest, if Demo 2014 had arrived tagged as a long-player, given its own fuck-off-and-die-esque title, I probably wouldn’t have blinked. Blut‘s recordings have always been tape-worthy rough, and the rawer they go, the meaner they sound, so in the past they’ve reveled in it. Demo 2014, at least in the basic sound of it, isn’t much different. The change is more stylistic than sonic. Three cuts, “Child Killer on Cloven Hoof” (13:28), “Abuse” (7:05) and “Murder before Larceny” (23:35), find Blut still caked in noise, but somewhat less excruciating than they have been. Drop out and Kill showed evidence of a move away from pure noise and drone, so I won’t put it all on Rutter‘s joining, but that S.M. and N.B. would bring in anyone else at all speaks to their wanting to make Blut more readily able to translate to a live setting, and to make it more of a band. The songs show that as well, and while “Child Killer on Cloven Hoof” — which may or may not be a sequel to “Alcoholic on Cloven Hoof” from the last album — is still a thick morass, it also has movement to it that continues through most of its span until abrasive feedback takes hold in the last two minutes or so. Before that, however, the sludge-style roll is a genuine nod, cut through periodically with rhythmic screaming, but making its most resonant impression in the depths of its rumble and the swing that carries it across.
And taking Demo 2014 as a demo release, that is, as a demonstration, it showed Blut‘s development not only in personnel, but in developing a more varied attack. The instrumental “Abuse” is seven minutes of hypnotic drone, but the smoke-wisps of psych-fuzz lead guitar put the listener in a different mindset entirely from the opener. “Murder before Larceny” resumes more of the sludgy roll that “Child Killer on Cloven Hoof” worked with, but seems also to bring the two sides together, leads peppered into the initial movement as verses make way until, shortly before 10 minutes in, the drums cut out and an echoing feedback takes hold. A hard-edged drone takes hold and develops into a consuming wash over the next six minutes, and though by then it seems there’s no escape, Rutter kicks back in on drums at 15:55 and “Murder before Larceny” resumes a march, such as it is. More of a slog, perhaps. The tempo is down like it’s been shot in the leg, the screams that arrive soon after are depraved, and the atmosphere takes on an almost Godfleshian sense of inhumanity. What devolves from there is the final stretch of “Murder before Larceny,” as S.M., N.B. and Rutter proceed to end the march with toxic rumble and feedback that nonetheless has a sort of trance-inducing effect. Their malevolence has always been what’s distinguished them, but as they return from their year-plus in the ether, Blut show there’s method to their madness beyond the creation of searing bite and volume. That they’d turn back and make a demo is reasonable as they explore the new dynamic with Rutter on board, but if these three songs prove anything, it’s that they’re ready to continue moving forward.