It becomes clear pretty quickly that Spain’s VidaGuerrilla have no interest in compromising on their self-released debut tape, Música, No Moda. The cover of said cassette, is a copy of a hand-drawn cartoon, presumably by and of Gaspar Hache Eme, who may or may not be the only person in the band, whose mouth is open to say “Estoy muy cansado de tu opinion,” which translates to: “I am very tired of your review.” Fair enough. I’d take it personally but for the fact that the drawing doesn’t seem to be original — the label on the tape is, handwritten in permanent marker — and the Bandcamp stream has the same art. I don’t know how many copies of Música, No Modaare being pressed, or for how long they’ll be available, but a DIY ethic runs strong in the release, which takes blown out garage punk and thickens the tonality to a point of fuzz overload.
What I like best about Música, No Moda is that there are points — the closer, “El Punk Original,” comes to mind first — at which what VidaGuerrilla does is almost entirely indistinguishable sonically from lo-fi black metal. That track and the tumultuous “Porno” and “Apoya Mi Escena” seem bent on reminding listeners that Venom was a punk band before they were anything else, and the lesson comes well complemented by the classic heavy rock swing of “Draggin’” and the unhinged guitar wankery of leadoff cut “Kaoskosmos.” Distortion is all the more distorted thanks to a rough-edged production value, and Eme‘s snarled vocals only add furor to the already cantankerous aesthetic. It is fairly fashionable, in a particularly anti-fashion kind of way, but fuckall is fuckall, and that of VidaGuerrilla is recognizably genuine.
Most of the songs are short, two minutes or under — “So Gross” is just a belch — and VidaGuerrilla‘s sound is suited to the quicker bursts and fits. Exceptions to the rule arrive with “Zombis del Más Acá” and the penultimate “Caras Bronceadas/Dragged,” both of which top four minutes, and while the former manages to support its weight, the latter meanders somewhat and seems to get caught up in distraction. Fortunately it has “El Punk Original” afterward to provide one last jolt to Música, No Moda, leaving the listeners burnt by what they’ve heard but not burnt out on it. The tape plays out on one side only. All nine tracks fit easily on side A of the home-dubbed copy I got — it had been a while since I last saw a blank tape with the “UR” markings — and there was apparently no need to repeat it on side B. I suppose that plays into the general malaise one gleans from the release overall, but if it’s apathy VidaGuerrilla are looking to portray, he/they show a resonant passion for it as various genre lines are blurred.
Posted in audiObelisk on August 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
“The Mountain Man,” the rhythmically-centered, viciously lumbering finale of Sorxe‘s self-released debut album, Surrounded by Shadows, is led directly into by the title-track, a five-minute alteration of consciousness via ambience, some touches of brooding Neurosis drone emerging amid the Phoenix-based four-piece’s own exploratory sensibility. The pummel that emerges from the drum intro is all the more devastating for the extended break beforehand. As such, before you click play below, take a deep breath.
Sorxe‘s Surrounded by Shadowsdraws on the best elements left from the largely washed out post-metal movement. They tradeoff atmospherics and churning, crushing riffs, vary their approach widely, and toy with structures and builds to create a full-album sensibility that each individual song feeds into. The lineup of bassists Christopher Coons and Roger Williams (the latter a founding member of Graves at Sea), guitarist/vocalist/recording engineer Tanner Crace (also synth) and drummer Shane Ocell made their debut in 2013 with an EP called Realms, and all three of those tracks reappear on Surrounded by Shadows, including the 10-minute “Make it So,” which on the full-length functions as the centerpiece around which the rest of the album swirls, darkly hued and rife with multi-directional aggression.
For having two bassists, the guitar isn’t lost in the mix — one always imagines a consuming wave of low end, as if the extra four strings preclude being able to hear anything else — but when Sorxe lock into a full-brunt weighted stretch, you can feel the impact of that extra heft. Even their quieter reflections seem to have a moody feel, and as Crace layers and alternates his vocals between cleaner singing, growls and screams, the band fluidly transcends the bounds of post-hardcore, doom, sludge and post-metal, while effectively maintaining an identity of their own that never seems content to commit to one or the other. No doubt that’s a big part of what makes Surrounded by Shadowssuch a satisfying front-to-back listen.
But that closer. “The Mountain Man” has its stomp and plod in rounding out the nine-track/55-minute offering, and its initial explosion in chaotic, crushing noise is high among Surrounded by Shadows‘ most satisfying moments, but there’s consciousness at work behind all that bludgeoning. It would be hard for any individual piece to completely sum up everything Sorxe have on offer with their debut, but in providing the album with its apex, “The Mountain Man” also provides a showcase for Sorxe‘s burgeoning dynamic. It is encompassing in its heaviness.
Hope you enjoy:
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Sorxe will release Surrounded by Shadowson Sept. 9 with Bandcamp streams beginning one week before. They’re also slated to appear at this year’s Southwest Terror Fest on Oct. 18 in Tucson, AZ, where they’ll share the stage with Neurosis and The Body. More info at the links below:
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’re saying to yourself, “Golly, didn’t this album already come out, like 10 months ago?,” yeah, it pretty much did. Nashville heavy psych blues four-piece All Them Witches issued Lightning at the Door last November, just kind of tossed it up on Bandcamp and let their burgeoning (that’s not to say “booming,” though that might be more accurate) fanbase have its way with it. CDs were printed up, twice, since then, but basically what makes this new, Sept. 16 date different is that it’s the official release for the vinyl. If you follow them on Thee Facebooks, you may recall they pulled the Bandcamp stream of the album down a couple weeks ago. This was why.
Also hitting the road alongside King Buffalo this week — my plan is to drive to PA to catch the Sherman Theater show; King Dead are also playing — they’ll be on tour with Windhand when the album releases. This weekend, All Them Witches also put out word that their debut European appearances at Keep it Low and Desertfest Belgium and the touring surrounding them are canceled for this fall, presumably to be rescheduled for some point next year.
The PR wire has tour dates and other info:
ALL THEM WITCHES RELEASE LIGHTNING AT THE DOOR ON SEPT. 16
JOIN WINDHAND FOR U.S. TOUR; PLAY NASHVILLE’S LIVE ON THE GREEN
SINGLE “CHARLES WILLIAM” STREAMING NOW VIA SOUNDCLOUD
All Them Witches, the Nashville-based quartet who made waves in underground psych circles when their 2012 debut album Our Mother Electricity received praise from Roadburn and a rerelease via Stefan Koglek’s Electrohasch Records, return with Lightning At The Door, on Sept. 16.
The album’s first single, “Charles Williams,” is already enjoying airplay at WRLT and was featured in the band’s recent Daytrotter session. All Them Witches have made the song available for streaming/embeds via Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/allthemwitchesband/charles-william).
The eight-song album finds the young band’s sound much more evolved, merging their psych-background with the rustic inspiration their stomping grounds afford. A sweaty, Southern rock outing, the band was so inspired during the demo process they recorded Lightning At The Door in mere days. “We tracked everything live in the same room,” explains singer/bass player Michael Parks, Jr. “We got a lot of bleed form the mics and the amps being together. Everything felt organic.”
The album comes as the band is in the midst of an extensive North American tour, with stops at Nashville’s Live on the Green (Aug. 28), the Midpoint Music Festival (Sept. 26 in Cincinnati), Day of the Shred (Nov. 1 in Santa Ana) and also includes a two-week span with Windhand (Sept. 4 to 21).
All Them Witches tour dates:
August 21 New York, NY Mercury Lounge August 22 Philadelphia, PA Milkboy Philly August 23 Stroudsberg, PA Sherman Theater August 24 Richmond, VA Strange Matter August 28 Nashville, TN Live on the Green September 4 Baltimore, MD Ottobar September 5 Pittsburgh, PA 31st Pub September 6 Akron, OH Musica September 7 Columbus, OH The Basement September 9 Iowa City, IA Gabe’s September 10 Chicago, IL Cobra Lounge September 11 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock Social club September 12 Cudahy, WI Metal Grill September 13 Ferndale, MI The Loving Touch September 14 Toronto, ON Coda September 16 Ottawa, ON Café Dekcuf September 17 Montreal, QC Petit Campus September 18 Cambridge, MA The Middle East Upstairs September 19 Providence, RI AS220 September 20 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus September 21 Ithaca, NY The Dock September 26 Cincinnati, OH Midpoint Music Festival November 1 Santa Ana, CA Day of the Shred
All Them Witches is Ben McLeod (guitar), Michael Parks, Jr. (vocals/bass), Robby Staebler (drums) and Allan Van Cleave (Fender Rhodes).
Posted in Reviews on August 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m not sure if I’m going to make “Should’ve Been Sooner” reviews a series or not, but I’m backed up enough on records that I probably could. Either way, after Demon Eye yesterday, it seemed only fitting to follow-up with another long-standing pile dweller, so here goes:
Arizona heavy rock four-piece Powered Wig Machine have the fuzz, they have the riffs, they have the groove, and yet there’s something about them that still seems to be working against expectation. At least the expected expectation. I’ll explain. The Sierra Vista natives make a self-recorded, self-released debut with Supa-Collider, and while its methods are familiar enough — a Clutch-style sway in closing nod-maker “Brain of Hank Pym” and a classic stoner rock toss-off lyric in “Wizard of Orgy” — for actually being near desert if not in it (Sierra Vista seems to be dry, but a mountain town), their sound is much more derived from barroom blues than laid-back Yawning Man-style jams. Supa-Collideris a quick listen at a thoroughly unpretentious seven tracks/33 minutes, the band — guitarist/vocalist Wayne Rudell, guitarist/organist/engineer Brian Gold, guitarist Dusty Hinkle, bassist/backing vocalist Joseph Rudell and drummer Daniel Graves – starting off with a showing of classic heavy rock influence in “At the Helm of Hades,” which reminds of some of the grooves Deep Purple was apt to nestle into at their peak, with Gold‘s organ moving alongside his and Wayne‘s guitars and the bluesy vocals overtop. While it’s among the most resonant of them, “At the Helm of Hades” is hardly all Supa-Colliderhas to offer in terms of hooks, and both the shorter, bouncing “Led Masquerade” and subsequent “Here Come the Freaks” find their moments of distinction, the latter with a shuffle in its midsection that opens up to bigger grooving toward the finish as Graves gives his crash cymbals what for before stepping back into the start-stop progression of the verse.
I’d call the straightforward, un-Kyuss-ness of Supa-Colliderjarring if Powered Wig Machine weren’t so solid in their performance and if the grooves weren’t so inviting. These aren’t dudes looking to change the world, or even to fix what isn’t broken about their genre, but neither should the quality of their output be written off nor should they be considered entirely unoriginal. Wayne comes across as an able frontman and vocalist, and the interplay throughout of guitar and organ — the latter appearing here and there in a flourish, then gone to make way for a solo or some other part — gives a sense of character and arrangement to these songs beyond what would seem to be the standard, “Led Masquerade” jamming itself to a finish as a lead-in for the starts and stops of “Here Come the Freaks,” the fuzz of which is all the beefier for the complement of keys. “Wizard of Orgy” follows, its “time-traveling pervert” chorus serving notice to anyone who might’ve through Powered Wig Machine were in danger of taking themselves too seriously, and “Mother Rocker” and the title-track deliver a one-two punch of heaviness — the latter is probably the band’s most singularly Clutch-derived groove — before the 6:18 “Brain of Hank Pym” rides in like a bluesy cavalry, putting the guitars even more in the lead as the vocals follow along, and encouraging the listener to fall in and do likewise. It’s the brain of Hank Pym — aka Ant-Man — as opposed to the body of John Wilkes Booth, at least going by the construction of the chorus, but as they’ve done throughout, Powered Wig Machine bring a spin of their own to established stylistic parameters. Keeping in mind that Supa-Collideris their debut even though they’ve been around since 2005/2006, it’s hard to ask more of the album than it delivers.
And Supa-Collideris all the more encouraging since not only is it a capable execution, but it’s self-made. Tony Reed mastered, but Gold recorded and mixed, the latter with Joey Rudell, who also designed cover and did the layout for the four-panel digipak pressing. Being self-contained on multiple levels has its ups and downs — see also: booking shows — but according to the liner, Gold built the studio in which Supa-Colliderwas tracked, so to think of them becoming more comfortable in a recording space as they continue to progress in terms of their writing and aesthetic only adds to the potential they show here. What matters most, however, are the songs themselves, and Powered Wig Machine already have the songs working in their favor on their debut.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If we lived in a universe where justice and righteousness reigned, Bloodcow wouldn’t have to come a-knockin’ with a Kickstarter campaign to finish mixing and press their forthcoming fourth album, Crystals and Lasers, because they’d already be millionaires. The riotous, hook-laden, perma-sarcastic DIY outfit began the recording process early in 2012 — the song “Little Chromosome” was streamed here in October of that year — and though I don’t usually like to post crowdfunding-type stuff, my motivation here is the thinking that the sooner they reach their goal, the sooner I can get to hear the album, which is the follow-up to their logic-defying 2007 outing, Bloodcow III: Hail Xenu. Selfish reasons rule the day.
They’ve got some legitimately cool rewards as well, including original art and, if you live close enough to Council Bluffs, Iowa, a house show they’ll come play for you. Lock up the fancy silver and soundproof the living room if that’s the one you go for, but either way, if you giving them money means Crystals and Lasersgets done, then yeah, do that.
Here’s the info and their campaign video:
New Bloodcow Record – “Crystals and Lasers”
The fourth full length release from Bloodcow, ‘Crystals and Lasers’ is their most ambitious to date. One word description? Epic.
How it started.
When we started writing songs for this new album, we talked a lot about how rock music was consumed in the past, how you might sit in a poorly lit room full of smoke with your headphones on and trip out on the music while staring at some cool artwork. That’s how we wanted people to be able to enjoy this record…not only a collection of songs, but our contribution to an experience.
What’s the plan?
To fund the release of Bloodcow’s 4th full length entitled ‘Crystals & Lasers’ on multiple formats including vinyl, cd, and digital download.
Where we are right now.
We were fortunate enough to record at ARC in Omaha, NE with uber engineer Jim Homan and also in the science lair of uber producer Aaron Gum. All the music is in the can (that’s music business lingo) and we have since mixed 3 songs. We have album and CD artwork finished and are coming up with the sticker and T-shirt art as you read this.
What are you funding?
Remainder of mixing with Jim Homan. Mastering at TurtleTone Studio with Mike Fossenkemper. 180 gram Vinyl Records. CD Digipaks. Digital download cards. Stickers Kickstarter only T-shirts. The Kickstarter/Amazon fees that have to be paid in order to run this campaign.
What if the goal is surpassed?
We have ideas in place to record a music video with Aaron Gum involving drag queens in an awesome club setting…and yes that was totally serious.
Posted in On the Radar on August 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Riffs abound on The Monkey’s Paw, the debut from Las Vegas instrumental trio Spiritual Shepherd. Lots of riffs. The young self-releasing trio seem to be working their way into their sound even as the songs play out, and the album — a full-length at 44 minutes — has an exploratory, demo feel while still keeping an overarching flow from track to track. It’s worth noting that Spiritual Shepherd, nascent though they may be for having been around just over two years, are twice-over veterans of Vegas’ Doom in June fest, have shared the stage with Pentagram (review here) and Eyehategod, and will take part in this year’s Southwest Terror Fest in October. So while they may be and sound formative, no one can say they didn’t dive in head-first. The Monkey’s Pawworks similarly, with a moment of psychedelic post-rock flourish in the centerpiece “The Mountain Told Me So” and a surrounding barrage of riff-grooving progressions that put the three-piece square in the realm of modern stoner rock.
Self-produced and pressed, the album varies some in tempo and approach within tracks, moving from big-stomp riffing to more upbeat fare in songs like “The Monkey’s Paw” and “Milky Way,” but the bulk of the material balances influence from Sleep and the Melvins while searching out its own identity. The recording is raw, but clear enough to show the band’s potential for establishing themselves at the beginning point of their progression, a cut like opener “64″ getting its footing in fuzzy stoner sway before guitarist Sean van Haitsma takes forward position in the mix for a howling, distortion-caked solo. Thickened by the hefty tone of bassist Omar Alvarado and propelled by drummer Ian Henneforth – whose active hi-hat would seem to indicate he hasn’t quite let go of his metal roots, despite a prevalent swing to coincide with an emphasis on precision – van Haitsma‘s riffs have a fitting complement, and if the fluid transitions in boogie-minded closer “Interstellar Superhighway” prove anything, it’s that they’re well on their way to figuring out how to make the most of a trio dynamic, Henneforth‘s tom runs and Alvarado‘s punchy basslines filling out the last couple minutes of the song while van Haitsma quietly spaces out on guitar.
An unnamed bonus track follows the end of “Interstellar Superhighway” and further proves the theorem, Alvarado going full-funk on the bass while Henneforth keeps the beat and van Haitsma stomps his wah like it was any number of desert-dwelling insectoids. For personality, the bonus cut might be the three-piece’s best showing, since it demonstrates their willingness to toy with genre conventions and shape heaviness to suit their own ends, even when those ends are basically just screwing around and having a good time. Great records are made that way. Spiritual Shepherd have a ways to go before they get there, but they’ve already got plenty to offer for riff hounds and they’ve given themselves a foundation on which to build their next time out. With the experience they’ve already set about gathering and the blueprint they’re working from here, I wouldn’t be surprised if they solidified into a powerful and progressive unit.
Posted in Reviews on July 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Beginning with the foreboding organ intro of “Overture,” there’s a lot more to Merlin‘s Christ Killer than it immediately seems. The self-releasing Kansas City, Missouri, double-guitar five-piece preceded their sophomore full-length by making a single out of second cut “Execution” (review here), but even that on its own doesn’t provide a context for what the album as a whole seems to be trying to accomplish, blending various genre elements together in a psychedelic brew that’s admirably individualized. A cinematic ramble of Western-style acoustics threads its way across the severely-titled CD’s five-track/39-minute run, guitarists Carter Lewis (also piano) and Benjamin Cornett leading a vinyl-ready march through the sundry peaks and valleys within the songs, building up in length shortest to longest until the final duo of “Lucifer’s Revenge” and the instrumental closer “The Christkiller” top 10 and 11 minutes, respectively. Comprised of Lewis, Cornett, bassist Evan Warren, drummer Caleb Wyels and standalone vocalist Jordan Knorr, Merlin reportedly based Christ Killeraround an unmade screenplay by Nick Cave for a sequel to the film Gladiator, and Knorr shows something of a Cave influence singing as well, a low-register sneer à la The Birthday Party working its way into the eight-minute centerpiece “Deal with the Devil,” topping a cresting wash of noise, building, consuming, and finally, receding.
As the single for “Execution” hinted, Merlin are a much different band on Christ Killerthan they were when they issued their self-titled debut digitally last year or any of the sundry other live outings, or demos that have popped up since their start in 2012. It could be that they’ve found their style with this album and will continue to work to refine it, or that from here, they’ll explore a completely new direction their next time out. Frankly, based on the audio here, I wouldn’t put myself on the hook for betting either way. Though the material — even on “Deal with the Devil” and “The Christkiller” — always has direction if not a distinct verse/chorus structure, Merlin conjure an abidingly open feel in the songs, and while the production is crisp and their performances nodding at the Melvins and Clutch and other heavyweights of that ilk, there’s a darkness at the sonic heart of what they do that matches the album’s theme. Cave‘s screenplay follows the tale of Russell Crowe‘s character, dead in the first movie, as he’s sent by the gods to kill Jesus and his followers on their behalf in order to live again with his wife, but is ultimately tricked into killing his own son and then becomes war through all time. Not a movie that would ever get made — certainly a far cry from Crowe playing Noah in a Biblical epic earlier this year — but decent fodder for the likes of Merlin to go exploring, the opening guitar/bass-drum sally of “Execution” reminding again of Clutch‘s “The Regulator” but unfolding with Knorr channeling his inner King Buzzo over the album’s most resonant hook. Liberal use of slide and wah ensues, but Merlin never lose control of the song, and that remains true of “Deal with the Devil” as well, as far out as that piece goes and as unwilling as it seems to step back from its atmospheric distances.
No doubt “Execution” is Christ Killer‘s catchiest moment and “Deal with the Devil” the most experimental, but “Lucifer’s Revenge” seems to be where they find the balance between the two impulses and even blend in some of their earlier (speaking relatively, we’re still talking about a band that’s been around for about two years) heavy psychedelic impulses in both guitar and keys. A classic doom feel emerges, presented with the same rich production but a garage-style simplicity, and as one part meshes into the next, Merlin make their way toward a post-jam apex that harkens directly back to “Execution”‘s chorus vocal patterning and simultaneously channels elder Pentagram in its deranged bluesy sway. It is Merlin‘s ability to make these things fluid and their sheer command of their own direction that makes Christ Killerso hard to pull your ears away from. I’m not sure they’re doing anything that’s never been done, even as “The Christkiller” begins its mournful roll with percussion and twanging acoustic and howling wind, gradually building over its 11 minutes to what might’ve been the end credit chaos — the film was said to cap with an extended montage of wars over the centuries — but their clearheaded execution is undeniable, and that Merlin would prove not only so ambitious, but so able to meet their ambition head on, makes Christ Killerimpressive beyond its titular silliness and forceful in ways more subtle even than the smoothness of its instrumental flow. Merlin are still growing, but they’ve constructed a work of relentless creativity here, and while it may prove a stepping stone along one or another path as they continue to progress, it’s worthy of attention in its own right as well.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
A heads up from my beloved Garden State in that Jersey City atmospheric black metallers Hercyn are about to issue a limited split CD with Brooklyn post-metallers Thera Roya. You might recall Hercyn released a 24-minute single-track EP last fall called Magda (review here), which they’ve since followed up with an acoustic version, and the allegiance between the two acts gets even more traction with the fact that Thera Roya used to be known as The Badeda Ladies, whom I was fortunate enough to see late in 2012 at The Grand Victory in Brooklyn (review here).
I’ll be interested to hear what kind of growth the moniker swap has brought that trio, and Hercyn have already proved themselves to be stylistically adventurous, so their inclusion on All this Suffering is Not Enoughis one to look forward to as well. It’s out Aug. 5 and they’re playing a release show in Jersey on Aug. 2, should you happen to be in that part of the world:
Hercyn and Thera Roya releasing split CD
This spring, Jersey City’s epic black metal band Hercyn joined together with Brooklyn’s own gloomy doom band Thera Roya to record a a CD split entitled “All This Suffering Is Not Enough” on the DIY outfit Ouro Preto Productions.
The release finds both American bands contrasting Hercyn’s epic atmosphere and weaving black metal with Thera Roya’s gloomy and sorrowful doom / post-metal. Hercyn deliver Dusk and Dawn, a 14 minute sprawling black metal piece with sub-layers of synth and acoustic strings. Thera Roya’s side of the split features Gluttony, a 9 minute slowly thundering song drenched in emotion. Both bands have worked in private on the creation of the split. All production and recording was handled’s by Hercyn’s Tony Stanziano (ex-Annunaki, ex-Blood Feast). “All This Suffering Is Not Enough” follow’s Hercyn’s 2013 self-released 24 minute epic Magda (listen here) and Thera Roya’s self-titled (listen here).
The split will see an official summer release of August 5th in hand numbered CDs and will be highly limited to 333 total copies. Pre-orders will be announced shortlyhere.
In celebration of the split, both bands will share the same stage August 2nd at the Lamp Post in Hercyn’s hometown (382, 2nd street, Jersey City). The release showis free, music starts at 10pm. Opening the show is special guest, Bible Gun – a dramatic piano and saxophone duo from Montclair, New Jersey (listen here). Early copies of the split CD will be available for purchase at the show.
Posted in On the Radar on July 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If nothing else, Kiev one-man outfit Stonefromthesky has the most honest moniker I’ve ever encountered having anything to do with post-metal, the Ukrainian project taking its name from “Stones from the Sky,” the closer of Neurosis‘ 2001 A Sun that Never Setsalbum, which — to simplify it — is a founding moment for the genre as a whole. Fortunately, it’s also just a beginning point for what Alex Zinchenko, the self-recording, self-releasing human at the root of Stonefromthesky, has to offer on his debut EP, Orbital.
A five-track collection that’s in and out in a sneaky 22 minutes, Orbitalblends post-metallic ideology — undulating, massive riffs, harsh vocals, a generally sludgy feel — with electronic music, dance beats underscoring huge guitars for a blend that’s immediately marching on largely uncharted territory. There are acts out there tapping into industrial retroism, but that’s not quite where Stonefromthesky is coming from on a song like the EP centerpiece “Weightless,” which steps into open air ambience and obscure sampling while permeating a synthesized drum beat behind. That’s a breather compared to opener “Interstellar” and viciously heavy highlight “Irreversible” before it, both of which plunder claustrophobic riffs, clever stutters, and somehow defiantly human growling to concoct a feel both familiar and foreign. It’s not until “Altered” that any of it resembles Godflesh in the slightest, and that in itself is an achievement.
Even then, Stonefromthesky holds to an identity of its own, a swinging beat and low rumble meeting with Zinchenko‘s rhythmic growling and a post-rock guitar as a dysfunctional feel results from mixing beats, the rhythm at the fore while the melody acts as the bed behind — a direct reversal of what one generally expects from heavy music. A guitar solo is a grounding force compared to what’s going on alongside it, and a quick breath teases a larger payoff that never comes as an experimental vibe persists through the end of “Altered,” leaving the three-minute closer, “Forlorn” the heady task of rounding out, which is does with progressive synth melody and a building wash of rhythmic noise, slow moving but ready to be played at unspeakable volumes, keeping the tension as much as releasing it, frenetic, kinetic, but obviously controlled as well.
Zinchenko, who handles guitar, programming, and vocals himself, has quickly established a mastermind sensibility, and it seems coming into his first outing as Stonefromthesky that he knows exactly where he wants the band to go. All the better for a self-contained project like this, since if Orbitalis anything to go by, he’s more than capable of acting as the driving force of his own exploration. Here’s one for the “heard it all” crowd to prove them wrong once again.
Posted in Reviews on July 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
According to the liner panel of the digipak, Morbid Beauty, the debut full-length from Berlin-based DIY heavy rockers Rodeo Drive, was recorded in “October 2014.” Certainly anything’s possible, and if the album does indeed hail from the near-future, it’s got a modern take on fuzz and flourishes of heavy psychedelia to match what one might expect. Featuring Samsara Blues Experiment‘s Hans Eiselt on bass and vocals and recorded by Richard Behrens, formerly of the same outfit and currently handling low end in Heat, Rodeo Drive hit on classic power trio methods and present them with a newcomer act’s intensity of purpose. Joined in the band by guitarist Friedrich Stemmer and René Schulze on drums/synth, Eiselt takes some cues in patterning vocals from his main outfit — one might recognize throaty, echoing shouts from Samsara Blues Experiment‘s earlier days — but on the whole is more stylistically geared toward straightforward, traditional stonerisms. Stemmer leads the charge throughout most of Morbid Beauty‘s eight tracks/41 minutes, but moments of adventurousness shine through and Rodeo Drive show a bit of boldness in their choices throughout, like opening with “Stoner of Mass Destruction,” a six-minute instrumental that, until closer “Snuff Eater,” also proves to be their jammiest stretch. Even there, however, what Rodeo Drive most specialize in their first time out is establishing a riff, working around it, and then returning to it in bigger, sometimes slower form. “Stoner of Mass Destruction” does this effectively, as do “All in Vain,” “Poultry Bro,” “Vlansch” and “Snuff Eater,” though the moods of these tracks vary around a consistent, jazzy chemistry between Eiselt and Schulze and the varyingly psychedelic and dense tonality in Stemmer‘s guitar.
Particularly with Eiselt‘s vocal delivery, the recording captures a live feel, and that proves all the better for the deft rhythmic changes that begin to show up on “Stoner of Mass Destruction” and continue into the shorter “All in Vein” (tied with “Poultry Bro” for the briefest here at 2:38) and well beyond. The second cut has less space for jamming out, but serves to demonstrate early the diversity in Rodeo Drive‘s approach, which continues to shift as Morbid Beautyprogresses, whether it’s to the extended drum solo intro to “The Void,” which unfolds with a Songs for the Deaf-style thrust, or “Poultry Bro,” with its circular vibe and intricate boogie feel, Schulze running back and forth on toms to build a tension that opens to a wide-strummed chorus. If one was to divide Morbid Beautyinto sides, “Vlansch” would likely end the first (the back cover of the CD supports this), and it does so playing slow psychedelic blues off bigger-riffed nod, keeping the tempo down, especially in relation to “Poultry Bro,” out of which it emerges, and the mood wistful even as Stemmer‘s winding lead opens to jammier wah-shuffle. It’s not long before they’re back to the turned-on downer vibe, Eiselt‘s voice raw without sounding like a put-on, and the lumbering riff from whence they came, building it to a finish that fades its rumble out before the grunge guitar opening of “Earth Dark Diseases” begins the album’s second half, which isn’t necessarily more stylistically adventurous than the first, but differently arranged, with three tracks instead of five, “Earth Dark Diseases” (7:35) and “Snuff Eater” (7:55) being the longest songs with the instrumental “Aggrestic” (4:37) between.
As noted, “Snuff Eater” is where Rodeo Drive are at their jammiest, and though it reaches similar lengths, “Earth Dark Diseases” has a different personality. Eiselt‘s vocals are almost a growl over Stemmer‘s plus-sized riff, and while it opens up in the middle, there’s a moody sensibility maintained even during the instrumental build, coming to a head just before the five-minute mark when the guitar and drums drop out and the bass leads back into the progression that will serve as the foundation for the next two minutes’ groove. The bass also starts “Aggrestic,” though Eiselt‘s soon joined by Stemmer and Schulze, and what seems like another jangly sort of rush is offset temporarily by noodling and subsequent forward motion. It ultimately adds little the album hasn’t already put in Rodeo Drive‘s wheelhouse, but as a precedent and a break between the two longer cuts, an entirely instrumental track isn’t a bad thing to have. And though it reaches nearly eight minutes long, “Snuff Eater” doesn’t lose track of where it’s headed, and the immersive jam pulls back to the verse/chorus structure before the song is over, as if to remind listeners that Rodeo Drive haven’t forgotten. As the first public offering of their songwriting, that’s good to know, and like the bulk of Morbid Beauty, “Snuff Eater” sets the trio on a path from which to progress from here on out. They’ve reportedly been a band for eight years, so I don’t know what kind of pace they’re working with in terms of releases, but Morbid Beautyestablishes a chemistry worth a follow-up and provides a strong front-to-back level of quality in the meantime. I’ll take it on its own if that’s how it’s coming, but I’d much rather see Morbid Beautyas a sign of things to come when Rodeo Drive get to the actual near future.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Nashville psych-blues rockers All Them Witches have announced that in September they’ll embark on a round of dates in the Midwest, Northeast and into Canada supporting Richmond, Virginia, ethereal doom outfit Windhand. For the four-piece, the tour comes situated between two other runs. The first is in late August with King Buffalo, and the second will take the band to Europe in October for appearances at Desertfest Belgium and Germany’s Keep it Low festival, presumably with at least a week of dates in between still to be announced.
All Them Witches and Windhand also shared the stage in May at the Scion Rock Fest in Pomona, California. Since then, they’ve released the free-download Effervescent EP (review here), a single-track, 25-minute jam that serves as the follow-up to 2013′s self-released second full-length, Lightning at the Door (discussed here). That album is set for a vinyl issue sometime as the summer winds down, as LPs are expected to be in hand by the time All Them Witches and Windhand hit the Sidebar in Baltimore on Sept. 4 to launch the tour.
This round of shows is especially notable for both bands as well for the size of the venues. I know Windhand has topped bills at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar before, but with this tour they clearly move further into genuine headliner status, which, if you’ve ever seen them, you know is right where they belong.
TOURING WITH WINDHAND IN SEPTEMBER!
9/4 Baltimore, MD – Ottobar 9/5 Pittsburgh, PA – 31st St Pub 9/6 Akron, OH – Musica 9/7 Columbus, OH – The Basement 9/9 Iowa City, IA – Gabe’s 9/10 Chicago, IL – Cobra Lounge 9/11 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock 9/12 Milwaukee, WI – Metal Grill 9/13 Ferndale, MI – Loving Touch 9/14 Toronto, ON – Coda 9/16 Ottawa, ON – Cafe Dekcuf 9/17 Montreal, QC – Petit Campus 9/18 Cambridge, MA – Middle East (upstairs) 9/19 Providence, RI – AS220 9/20 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus Bar
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz have more than a few things in common: They share geography in being based out of Boston. They’re both committed to self-releasing albums without charging for them, and they both do so at a prolific clip. Both bands have a varied and open sound, and while Ice Dragon lean more toward a doomed-out psychedelic nod, recorded raw with physical pressing a matter left to the ages — their Dream Dragon(tape review here) has a CD issue coming — and Space Mushroom Fuzz tend toward the progressive and space rocking side of the heavy spectrum while periodically gathering single tracks and other output for collected release — their 2013 double-tape, Back from the Past(review here), brought together four outings — I don’t think there’s anyone who’d argue they don’t make a solid pair.
To be perfectly honest, I was kind of hoping that Crystal Futurewould be a collaborative release from Ice Dragon. As Space Mushroom Fuzz is a one-man project — helmed by Adam Abrams, also known for Blue Aside – it would be easy enough to bring him into an Ice Dragon session, but the four-song release is a proper split, each act on their own. I’m not about to complain. Each band contributes a longer work and a shorter ambient piece, and as ever from both, the resulting EP is available as a free download.
Links, info, Samantha Allen‘s gorgeous cover art and Ice Dragon‘s announcement follow:
We have a new split out with Space Mushroom Fuzz. Their track is most excellent, and definitely gets stuck in your head. Little interlude action in there too, ours is from an old 4-track tape we did on the porch while recording a few Tome tracks.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last year, UK space metallers Enos released a live EP called The East Slope. It came out in April 2013 and was captured — live, obviously — about a month earlier. Here we are, more than a year later, and the Brighton two-guitar foursome have sent word down the PR wire that Live at the East Slopewill now be put out as a DVD on Aug. 2, an occasion they’ll celebrate by playing a release show alongside Bright Curse and Wizard Fight.
What’s the lesson? It takes much longer to make a live video release than a live audio one.
Kudos to Enos, and to Rapture Films as well I guess, for making it happen at all. In this age of instant YouTubely gratification, it’ll make a fine inclusion at the merch table for anyone who wants to delve deeper than an album might allow for, and while one awaits their next studio outing following late-2012′s All too Human, it should provide enough of a fix to hold even the most ardent of followers.
Details and whatnots:
Live Enos DVD released 2nd of August 2014!
Well, it’s been a while but we’ve not been dragging our heels. After a lot of work (and swearing) by Rapture Films and ourselves the Live at The East Slope DVD is set for release on the 2nd of August 2014! The film captures our Sussex University show from the 22nd of March 2013 (the release show for the vinyl version of All Too Human) and features over an hour of psychedelic noise. The set is made up of tracks from both All Too Human and Chapter One and a couple of tracks from this show were released on The East Slope live EP last year. Filmed live at The East Slope Bar on the Sussex University campus Live at The East Slope features the show as it was on the night from start to finish (with a few additional animations here and there) and we fell it perfectly captured the atmosphere of the night. On the night we had the full light-show from Innerstrings Psychedelic Lightshow as well as a guest appearance from Sigrid Jakobson for a rendition of Collisions. The full track list is…
1. All Too Human 2. In Space 3. Floating 4. Left For Dead 5. Collisions 6. Another Solution 7. Launch 8. Devil Makes Work 9. Transform 10. Who Knew? 11. Back To Earth
And just to whet your appetite here’s the live version of Left For Dead.
To celebrate the release we’ll be performing live at The Unicorn in Camden on the 2nd of August, this will be your first chance to pick up a copy for yourself. Support comes in the form of Wizard Fight and Bright Curse, doors are at 7.30pm so get there early!! As well as that we have another Brighton show at The Hope on the 8th of August with support from The Ingrates, Deaf From Behind and The Tricks. Doors are at 8pm,tickets available here.
There doesn’t seem to ever be a break with this stuff. 16 records joined The Obelisk Radio playlist today, and that’s still got me behind on checking out more to add. I don’t know what the state of that hard drive is, but I might not be far off from needing to add a second one. It’s become an archive for me.
Diligent and admirable bastard that he is, Slevin is working on an automatically refreshing script that will allow listeners to see what was played over the last 24 hours, which will be a big help if a file is missing its ID3 tags — that being how the player identifies the songs — as I know things sometimes are. I get asked regularly what was played at a specific time, so hopefully this will be able to answer that question.
So things are in the works, but of course there’s a ton of music to talk about in the meantime, and that’s the fun part anyway.
The Obelisk Radio Adds for July 11, 2014:
All Them Witches, Effervescent EP
There are at least two distinct jams at work in the 25-minute single track that makes up Effervescent, the 2014 EP from Nashville psych-blues rockers All Them Witches. The Fender Rhodes of Allan Van Cleave and airy guitar of Ben McLeod feature heavily in both, as bassist Michael Parks, Jr., and drummer Robby Staebler (interview here) provide a foundation on which to space out, and the two pieces find a bridge in hypnotic, psychedelic stretching and backwards noise beginning at around 13 minutes in before building back up. All throughout, the vibe is central, there is movement, and the four-piece demonstrate that the chemistry they showed burgeoning on last year’s brilliant Lightning at the Door(discussed here) was no fluke, but the beginning of a grand and creative exploration that finds its next installment here. It may be a stopgap — formerly their primary means of release, they’ve recently pulled their full-lengths down from Bandcamp; one expects big, got-signed-type news from them at any moment — but Effervescentis fluid and rich, and as deep as you want to go in listening to it, it’s willing to take you there and further. All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Nyarlathotep, The Shadow over Innsmouth
Some six years after releasing their initial The End is Always Near demo, New Jersey black metal outfit (whom, in the interest of full disclosure, I know personally) Nyarlathotep follow-up with the Lovecraftian full-length, The Shadow over Innsmouth. Based around the short story of the same name, the album breaks down into five extended tracks plus an intro of rage-fueled atmospherics. Using programmed drums to their advantage on “Old Zadok Allen” — the only proper song here under 10 minutes — they add an industrial feel with a keyboard-led midsection backed by vague, ambient screams. The density in the material is striking, but even at their most unbridled — as on the blasting, solo-topped early moments in the title-track – Nyarlathotep hold their commitment to setting a mood firm, and the blown-out, distorted soundscape they create across the release is grim and otherworldly enough to be worthy of its subject matter. It is a complex, biting execution that won’t be for everyone, but that seethes in its quiet parts and gnashes its pointed teeth with monstrous force. Nyarlathotep on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Oklahoma City trio Idre specialize in ambient fluidity and deeply-weighted tonal crush. Their self-released, self-titled debut long-player is comprised of two extended cuts — “Factorie” (26:41) and “Witch Trial” (13:17) — that each impress with their patience, their impact and their ability to contrast the generally claustrophobic feel of post-metal with an open-spaced, salt-of-the-earth pulse. Within its first 10 minutes, “Factorie” has moved from undulating waves of riffing to vast, strumming, Across Tundras-esque roll, and never does it seem to be meandering without purpose in the noisy stages to come. It builds and collapses, and when they seem the most gone, the clean, twanging vocals return to finish out, leading to the parabolically constructed “Witch Trial,” which marries Earth-style drone and galloping drums effectively to create a decidedly Western feel while still building toward, and eventually moving through a sonically pummeling apex. Once again, vocals are sparse, but perfectly placed almost as if to remind the listener of how small a human being can be in so wide a space as the Midwest. Like that landlocked region, Idre‘s Idreis expansive and lets you see for miles. Idre on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Rainbows are Free, Waves ahead of the Ocean
Led by the substantial pipes of vocalist B. Fain Kistler, Norman, Oklahoma, four-piece Rainbows are Free seem keen on finding the place where classic doom and heavy rock meet, and on their second full-length, Waves ahead of the Ocean (released by Guestroom Records), they just about get there. Kistler is a singer worthy of comparison to Grand Magus‘ JB Christoffersson, but Rainbows are Free are less grandiose overall, early songs like “The Botanist,” the title-track and the cumbersomely-titled opener “Speed God and the Rise of the Motherfuckers from a Place beyond Hell” nestling into heavy, engaging grooves marked out by the choice riffing of Richie Tarver, the bass work of Chad Hogue and drums of Bobby Onspaugh. Unpretentious and professional in their presentation, they doom up an otherwise Clutch-style boogie in “Cadillac” before going full-on trad metal in “Snake Bitten by Love,” and ably making their way through a Dio Sabbath push on “Burn and Die,” which works well despite feeling a long way from the upbeat rockin’ of earlier highlight “Sonic Demon” and leads smoothly into closer “Comet,” the six-and-a-half-minute spacier thrust of which seems to be seems to be where Rainbows are Free most choose to harken to the psychedelia one might expect from their moniker. They most drive toward the epic in their finale, and the payoff there is churning and insistent in a way that more than justifies the song’s position on the 37-minute record, but even then have a keen eye for structure and holding the attention of their audience. An impeccably put together album from a band more than ready to turn heads. Rainbows are Free on Thee Facebooks, Guestroom Records on Bandcamp.
Panopticon, Roads to the North
Despite the bluegrass influence and liberal inclusion of banjo amidst its blackened onslaught, Panopticon‘s Roads to the North (released on Bindrune) is perhaps most American of all for its pulling together seemingly disparate elements in defiance of European traditionalism. Billed as and creating the standard for American folk metal, it nonetheless is in conversation with European black metal — a conversation that in my head looks something like it’s being chased à la Benny Hill for its heresies — while purposefully working against its tenets. Roads to the Northis the fifth full-length from the one-man project of Kentucky’s Austin Lunn, and made in collaboration with Krallice‘s Colin Marston (among others), it elicits a sprawl through both its metallic extremity and its devotion to the aesthetic it pioneers. It makes for a heady 74-minute listen, but Panopticon are cohesive throughout — five records deep, they should be — and one doesn’t embark on an album like Roads to the Northlightly or without wanting full immersion into an evocative and blistering landscape. That’s just what you get. Panopticon on Thee Facebooks, Bindrune Recordings.
For the full list of albums added to The Obelisk Radio this week and to see the latest updates, click here.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I like this idea. Texas duo Stone Machine Electric have shown plenty of adventurous spirit over the last couple years, be it in their Kent Stump-recorded 2013 self-titled (review here), or bringing in a Warr guitarist (only to shortly dismiss him), or their prior 2010 live demo, Awash in Feedback(review here), so it seems to me they’ll be right in their element when it comes to wheeling in a portable recording setup and just seeing what happens.
The results — whatever they might turn out to be — will be pressed to a cassette and released sometime in the coming months. They’re calling it the Garage Tapein advance, which already speaks to a raw, jam-room feel. Stone Machine Electric is guitarist/vocalist William “Dub” Irvin and drummer/vocalist/thereminist Mark Kitchens, and while they don’t have an exact release date for the tape yet (the art below is also not necessarily the cover, just a logo I grabbed), it’s one I’ll look forward to hearing in the months to come.
Dig, Lazarus, dig:
Stone Machine Electric – Garage Tape
Texas heavy duo, Stone Machine Electric, is planning to have the studio come to them in the next month to record what is being called the “Garage Tape”.
Good friend and owner of Tin Can Records, Erik Carson, will be dragging his equipment into the practice space of the band. He’ll set up and record whatever Stone Machine Electric plans to do, which is unknown at this point.
The agenda for this outing is to provide a raw account of what goes on in their confines, which usually ends up on the stage. This could turn into an all out improvised jam, some new tracks the duo has been working on, or all of the above.
No release date is set. The outcome will be put out on cassette to provide that garage demo feel.