All Them Witches Release Live Recordings and New Video; 2015 Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

all them witches

Since Nashville’s All Them Witches hit the road back over the summer, I’ve heard a couple times they were recording the shows, and those recordings have now come to fruition in a series of bootleg-style releases. Each of the 12 currently out shares the same cover, and the live shows have taken over the four-piece’s Bandcamp, which previously housed their two albums, this/last year’s Lightning at the Door (review here) and 2012’s Our Mother Electricity (review here), as well as several other one-off singles, jams, etc. They’re on tour now, having just played at Day of the Shred out in California — dates below — and one can’t help but wonder if they’ll continue to record and release gigs in this manner. Two bucks per show isn’t awful. I seem to recall when Primus first did it, they wanted $10 a pop, but that was 2007 and downloads had only existed for like six months or something.

All Them Witches also have a new video out for “Charles William” from Lightning at the Door, which seems to have become the de facto single of the album, reasonably so for its burrowing hook, and they’ve just announced their first round of tour dates for the New Year. More to follow, I’m sure.

Info and links:

We are now using our bandcamp page exclusivly for live show recordings. We will be uploading a shit ton of shows on a regular basis. $1.99 for a whole show ain’t a bad deal! There are some sick jams too.

All Them Witches tour dates:
November 4 San Francisco, CA Hemlock Tavern
November 6 Eugene, OR Cozmic Pizza
November 7 Portland, OR Bunk Bar
November 8 Seattle, WA Sunset Tavern
November 9 Vancouver, BC The Cobalt
November 11 Salt Lake City, UT The Shred Shed
November 12 Denver, CO Lost Lake Lounge
November 13 Omaha, NE Reverb Lounge
November 14 Kansas City, MO The Riot Room 
November 15 St. Louis, MO The Demo
November 30 Nashville, TN 3rd & Lindsley

February 4 Columbus, OH Ace of Cups
February 5 New York, NY Mercury Lounge
February 6 Cambridge, MA Middle East (Upstairs)
February 7 Toronto, ON Horseshoe
February 8 Rochester, NY Bug Jar
February 10 Pontiac, MI Pike Room
February 11 Indianapolis, IN Hi-Fi
February 12 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
February 13 Minneapolis, MN 7th St. Entry
February 14 Milwaukee, WI Cactus Club
February 15 Rock Island, IL Rozz-Tox

All Them Witches is Ben McLeod (guitar), Michael Parks, Jr. (vocals/bass), Robby Staebler (drums) and Allan Van Cleave (Fender Rhodes).

allthemwitches.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/allthemwitches
twitter.com/allthemwitches
allthemwitches.org

All Them Witches, “Charles William” official video

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Video Premiere: Disenchanter, “Green Queen” Live at Ceremony of Sludge 2014

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

disenchanter

If you want a little extra thrill, plug in some headphones and turn the bass up as Disenchanter run through the below rendition of the song “Green Queen.” The track, which of course shares its name with a strain of weed — wasn’t that just a given? — makes a fantastic showcase for the low tone of four-stringer Joey DeMartini, and with Sabine Stangenberg‘s riffs and vocals leading the charge and Jay Erbe playing one tom against the other on drums, it’s halfway between boogie rock and all out heavy rager, and seems content to find a place somewhere not quite one or the other. This version was recorded earlier this year in Disenchanter‘s hometown of Portland, Oregon, at the Ceremony of Sludge festival, and is part of a series of clips I’ve been fortunate enough to premiere recorded over the course of that fest’s two days.

Disenchanter opened the second day of Ceremony of Sludge, which was held at Club 21, and while ceremony of sludge posterthey’ve showcased a penchant for epic metallurgy or at least an appreciation for the grandiose on their two three-song releases to date, 2013’s Back to Earth and this year’s On through Portals (review here), “Green Queen” hones in a more straight-ahead heavy rock sound built around a strong hook, a still driving riff and the melody in Stangenberg‘s voice. I don’t know if that’s meant to be emblematic of some shift in direction or if Disenchanter were pulling a one off or if the song might even be a cover — go Google “Green Queen” and you’re only gonna find pot info — but it’s a cool groove one way or another and the band carries it just as well as some of their more epic material.

You can click here to see the other clips thus far released in the Ceremony of Sludge 2014 video series, and check out Disenchanter‘s “Green Queen” on the player followed by video info below. Please enjoy:

Disenchanter, “Green Queen” Live at Ceremony of Sludge

Disenchanter perform “Green Queen” live at the third annual Ceremony of Sludge (Club 21, Portland, Oregon, 3/8/14).

Edited by Cole Boggess.
Cameras: Cole Boggess, Justin Anderson, Justin Brown, Eli Duke.
Audio: Tim Burke

Ceremony of Sludge on Thee Facebooks

Disenchanter on Thee Facebooks

Disenchanter on Bandcamp

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John Wilkes Booth, Useless Lucy: Soaking the Perimeter

Posted in Reviews on October 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

john wilkes booth useless lucy

Long Island heavy rockers John Wilkes Booth will mark their first decade together next year. 10 years. The band — who, if you’re wondering, took on what I think even they’d tell you (perhaps while smirking) is a lousy name in order to capture something universally hated — made their full-length debut in 2008 with Sic Semper Tyrannis (review here) following a split with 12 Eyes and my former band, Maegashira, and a 2006 self-titled EP, and five years later, they answer their long-player with the eight-track/34-minute sophomore outing, Useless Lucy, which both beefs up the production overall and delves into darker noise rock terrain on cuts like “From the North” and “Masturbation Song” while tapping various veins of ’90s alt rock in “Six One” and the later “Ladder and Vacuum,” at least before the latter switches to its crunching hook, Tool-style bleaker prog riffing from guitarist Jason Beickert winding out a resonant chorus that consumes much of the three-minute song’s second half, vocalist Kerry Merkle recounting an everyman tale of woe overtop, somewhat ironically (and again, perhaps smirkingly) following the parental love-letter “Soaking the Perimeter.” The Booth have always had something of a progressive drive, musically and vocally, and Merkle does well in changing his approach here from gutting out the start-stop chorus in “Masturbation Song” and the verses in “13 Years” to more cleanly riding the funk-rock push of “Ladder and Vacuum,” bassist Harry Vrooman and drummer Christian Horstmann stepping up the bounce there where in the midsection of closer “Family Crest” they smoothly hold together a post-bridge jam as Beickert embellishes an exploratory-sounding lead.

To make a prior allusion explicit, I’ve known the John Wilkes Booth guys for years, played shows with them, collaborated on releases, and so on, so I’m not about to claim a measure of impartiality when it comes to appreciating what they do. They are one of those bands. Nestled into their geography out on Long Island, separate from the entirety of the country with the morass of New York traffic between, they rarely get out, have never toured for any length of time, but have continued to hone their craft at familiar local spots, have kept a consistent lineup because they must genuinely enjoy each other’s company, and have put together a solid album of new material written not with the rush of an impending touring cycle, but with time taken to fully embrace the process of hammering out parts and making the songs sound the way they want them too. Would they be a bigger, more solidified unit if they’d hit the road six years ago and never looked back? Probably. Or they might’ve broken up. Who the hell knows? The point is that when it comes to Useless Lucy and the Booth in general, what you see is what you get. They might cop an experimental vibe here and there — with its slower progression and foreboding vibe, opener “From the North” is probably the farthest they veer from their more straightforward norm — but by and large they traffic in unpretentious heavy rock and roll, vibed out with various echoes in the guitar and vocals and made stronger by the chemistry of the rhythm section. They’re not looking to be a huge band or to “get a buzz going” in any other than the beery sense of the phrase. As I’ve always seen them, their motives are pure. They create because they feel joy in the expression. That’s kept them going for a decade so far.

john wilkes booth

And somewhat more astoundingly, they do so without really ever pushing into self-indulgence. Even the penultimate “Intro 2 (Lick My Spacesuit),” which is essentially 90 seconds of an effects buildup leading the way into “Family Crest,” serves a purpose in adding to the atmosphere of the album overall and giving the listener a breather after “Ladder and Vacuum” and before the finale. Earlier, “Six One” showcases an airier sensibility than either of the opening duo in front of it, but neither that nor the rolling fuzz of “13 Years” which follows, fail to convey a well-developed songwriting process, and everywhere John Wilkes Booth go on Useless Lucy, that’s what remains most consistent. They’ll never be a big band — even the phrase “I like John Wilkes Booth” pushes the boundaries of taste; they prefer “F the Booth” as a slogan — and they’ll probably never quit their jobs and go on perma-tour, get big press and whatever else, but frankly, the fact that they’re going to do what they do regardless makes them all the more admirable in my eyes. There’s nothing insincere about Useless Lucy, or that feels cynical or like it’s just there because it’s what’s popular. It’s not what’s popular. If it was they’d sound like Graveyard or Uncle Acid. Instead, they sound like the Booth. It won’t turn heads, and the album’s not perfect by any stretch — Merkle‘s voice comes across high in the mix in places, and the recording is clean more à la modern rock than heavy rock — but it’s honest, and going into a band’s new record with the expectation of honesty is a rare and not-to-be-understated delight.

John Wilkes Booth, Useless Lucy (2014)

John Wilkes Booth on Thee Facebooks

John Wilkes Booth on Bandcamp

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Heavy Glow on Tour Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

heavy glow

San Diego three-piece Heavy Glow have been on tour for the better part of a week now, supporting their new album, Pearls and Swine and Everything Fine. That is, of course, unless you count their previous tour, which ended just three days before this one began. How that even splits up tours, I have no idea. Pretty much, when it’s all over, Heavy Glow will have been on the road for a stretch running from September into mid-November. The current run ends Nov. 14. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point they announced a tour starting Nov. 17 and going into December.

Because touring!

Here are the remaining dates and some whathaveyou off the PR wire:

heavy glow tour

HEAVY GLOW Announces North American Headlining Tour

San Diego Rock Trio Heading Out to the Highway in Support of Celebrated New LP

Electric San Diego rock band HEAVY GLOW has announced a North American headlining tour in support of its new LP Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine. Set to kick off on September 18 in Fort Worth, Texas, the 18 city jaunt will showcase the trio’s unhinged explosiveness, which blends post-millennial blues-rock and haunting, Mowtown-esque hard soul, calling for comparison to The Dead Weather, The Black Keys, Afghan Whigs and Cream.

Led by guitarist / vocalist Jared Mullins, HEAVY GLOW has been called “a bluesy slice of Free-meets-Grand Funk” and “an impressive Hendrix / ZZ Top hybrid that pays homage to other blues masters (Clapton, Cray) and modern-day fuzz tone titans.” Recorded with producers Michael Patterson (Nine Inch Nails, Puscifer) and Nic Jodoin (Spindrift, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club), Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine has been hailed as “blistering” and has yielded the crunching cuts “Headhunter” and “Look What You’re Doing to Me”; the latter track’s music video starring actress Mayra Leal of the Robert Rodriguez film “Machete.”

HEAVY GLOW on tour:
Oct. 20 Underbelly Jacksonville, FL
Oct. 24 Pegasus Lounge Tampa FL
Oct. 30 The Hi-Tone Memphis, TN
Oct. 31 Daisy Duke’s Nashville, TN
Nov. 1 Hangar Bar, Greenville, TX
Nov. 6 Tiki Bar Shreveport, LA
Nov. 7 Dan Electro’s Houston, TX
Nov. 10 Plush, St. Louis, MO
Nov. 13 Silver Dollar, Texarkana, AR
Nov. 14 Vino’s Brewpub Little Rock, AR

https://www.facebook.com/heavyglowband/
http://instagram.com/heavyglowmusic
https://twitter.com/heavyglowmusic
http://www.heavyglowmusic.com/

Heavy Glow, “Look What You’re Doing to Me” official video

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Leeches of Lore to Record New Album with Toshi Kasai

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

leeches of lore

I felt incredibly fortunate earlier this year when I got to see Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Leeches of Lore in their native habitat, opening for the Pentagram/Radio Moscow/Kings Destroy tour. They killed it that night, and my appreciation for their set has only grown in the months since. The news that they’ll record their next album with Toshi Kasai – see also the MelvinsTool, and so on — is intriguing because that dude knows how to make a weird band sound weird, and it’s another one I’ll look forward to in 2015 without daring to speculate on what to expect from Leeches of Lore, who could break out a horn section or a second drummer at a moment’s notice.

In another show I’d very much like to catch, Leeches of Lore will play this Halloween at the Sister Bar in Albuquerque covering Alice Cooper‘s Love it to Death album in full. They also recorded a live set this week — with the time difference, I fell asleep before it came on — at KUNM 89.9, which if my degree in Communications has taught me anything about call letters is the radio station of the University of New Mexico, or was once affiliated with the school. That set, which also features a take on “Second Coming/The Ballad of Dwight Fry” as a preview for the Halloween gig, has been made available for stream and download from the band’s Bandcamp. Very cool stuff.

They sent along the following update:

leeches of lore logo

Leeches of Lore News!

We are pleased to announce that our next album will be recorded by Toshi Kasai of (the) Melvins, Big Business, Prizehog, Tool, Shrinebuilder, etc, etc fame. Tracking begins in November.

We will also be recording an EP of completely different music soon after.

Last but not least, we will be playing Halloween night at Sister here in Albuquerque. We will be performing Alice Cooper’s “Love it to Death” in it’s entirety.

For a taste of the new album and the Alice Cooper show, here is a link to a live radio performance we just did on Albuquerque’s KUNM 98.9.

https://leechesoflore.bandcamp.com/album/live-on-kunm-899

Mike Day (Tenderizor, Fando, our favorite guitar player in New Mexico) will be playing second guitar on Halloween!

https://www.facebook.com/leechesoflore
http://flyingmidgetrecords.com/
http://leechesoflore.bandcamp.com/
http://flyingmidgetrecords.bandcamp.com/

Leeches of Lore, Live on KUNM 89.9

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Godflesh, Early Man, Temple of Void, Mage and Lamperjaw

Posted in Radio on October 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

I wanted to make sure I did a round of radio adds for this week. Not just because they’re fun to do and it’s a bit like submerging my head in heaviness for an afternoon, but because I’ve already got one or two records in mind to join the playlist next week (or the week after, depending on time) and I don’t want to get too far behind. As always, these five are just picks out of the bunch. Over 20 records went up to the server today, so there’s much more than this to dig into. As well as all the rest of everything up there. I don’t even know how much stuff that is at this point. Last I heard from Slevin, it was “a lot.” Nothing like more, then.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Oct. 16, 2014:

Godflesh, A World Lit only by Fire

Godflesh A World Lit Only By Fire cover

It seems that after a decade-plus of moving further away from Godflesh‘s sound in Jesu, guitarist/vocalist Justin K. Broadrick has had no problem whatsoever slipping back into songwriting for the ultra-influential early-industrial outfit. Preceded by an EP called Decline and Fall (review here) that was also released through Broadrick‘s Avalanche Recordings imprint, the 10-track A World Lit Only by Fire harnesses a lot of the churn that was so prevalent in prime-era Godflesh and, more impressively, successfully channels the same aggression and frustration without sounding like a put-on. The chug in “Carrion” is visceral, and while “Life Giver Life Taker” recalls some of the melody that began to show itself on Godflesh‘s last album, 2001’s Hymns, and subsequently became the core of Jesu, songs like “Shut Me Down” and the gruelingly slow “Towers of Emptiness” find Broadrick and bassist G.C. Green enacting a familiar pummel that — and this is a compliment — sounds just like Godflesh. No doubt some of that is because so much of the duo’s elements are electronic, and while they might sound dated after a while, electronics don’t actually age in the same way people do, but even in the human core of the band, Godflesh are back in full, earth-shattering force. A World Lit Only by Fire is a triumphant return. I don’t know if it necessarily adds much to the Godflesh legacy that wasn’t already there, but as a new beginning point, a sort of second debut, its arrival is more than welcome. Godflesh on Bandcamp, Justin Broadrick on Thee Facebooks.

Early Man, Thank God You’ve Got the Answers for us All

early man thank got you've got the answers for us all

After starting out in Ohio and making their way to New York around the middle of the last decade, the duo of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mike Conte and guitarist Pete Macy – better known as Early Man – recorded their new album, Thank God You’ve Got the Answers for us All, as they put, “inside various closets, attics and basements within the greater Los Angeles area over the past year.” I recall seeing them in Manhattan and getting their demo in 2004/2005 and Early Man was the shit. They were gonna be huge. A contract with Matador Records brought their debut and then they went five years before their next album came out, and by then, retro metal and heavy rock has passed them by. Thank God You’ve Got the Answers for us All taps some of the same younger-Metallica vibing of their earliest work on “Black Rains are Falling” and closer “The Longer the Life,” but the current of Sabbathian heavy that was always there remains strong and “Always Had a Place in Hell to Call My Own” ups the ante with a more punkish take. The recording is raw in the new digital sense, but the tracks get their point across well enough, and Conte‘s songwriting has always produced some memorable results — the keyboard-soaked “Hold on to Nothing” stands out here — but it seems like the story of Early Man is still waiting to be told. Early Man on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Temple of Void, Of Terror and the Supernatural

Temple Of Void - of Terror and the Supernatural - cover

Any given song, it can be hard to tell where Detroit’s Temple of Void come down on the spectrum of doom/death and death/doom, but whatever genre tag you want to stick on it, their debut long-player, Of Terror and the Supernatural, is fucking grim. A roaring morass of thuds, low growls, bouts of extreme violence and bludgeonry, and horror — oh, the horror. Last year’s Demo MMXIII (review here) was fair enough warning, but what the double-guitar five-piece do across these eight tracks is a cruelty of atmosphere and lurch. Squibbles perpetrate “Invocation of Demise,” which also has some surprise key work that sounds like a flute, and a moment of respite arrives with the subsequent “To Carry this Corpse Evermore” in Opethian acoustics, but as the title would indicate, “Rot in Solitude” throws the listener right back into the filth and it’s there Temple of Void seem most in their element. Buried deep in “Exanimate Gaze” is a melodic undertone and 10-minute finale “Bargain in Death” shows a fairly dynamic approach, but the core of what they do is rooted in toying with a balance between death and doom metals, and already on their first outing they show significant stylistic command. If they tour, it’s hard to imagine one of the bigger metal labels –RelapseMetal Blade – wouldn’t want them somewhere down the line. Temple of Void on Thee Facebooks, Saw Her Ghost Records, Rain without End Records.

Mage, Last Orders

Print

UK fivesome Mage debuted in 2012 with Black Sands (review here) and showcased a burly blend of heavy rock and metal, and tonally and in the drums, their sophomore outing, Last Orders, follows suit in copping elements of thrash, Voivod-style otherwordliness and a penchant for shifting tempos effectively while keeping a seemingly downward path. Vocalist Tom has pulled back on the ultra-dudely vocals and it makes a big difference in the band’s sound for the better. He’s much better mixed and exploring some new ground on “The Fallen,” but he boldly takes on the task with the slower “Beyond” — the longest song here at six minutes flat — and comes out stronger for it. Guitarists Ben and Woody, bassist Mark and drummer Andy showcase some Electric Wizard influence in that song, but I wouldn’t tie Mage‘s sound to any one band, as “Lux Mentis” before offers huge-sounding stomp and “Violent Skies” after feeds an adrenaline surge of chugging and turns before opening to Last Orders‘ satisfying payoff, Tom tapping into mid-range Halford along the way and closer “One for the Road” reminding that there’s still a riffy side to the band as well. Mage on Thee Facebooks, Witch Hunter Records.

Lamperjaw, Demo EP 2014

LAMPERJAW - Demo EP 2014

Formed in 2011, Virginian trio Lamperjaw make their three-track debut with the descriptive Demo EP 2014, drunken-stomping the line between sludge and Southern heavy. One can’t help but be reminded of Alabama Thunderpussy‘s glory days listening to “Throw Me a Stone,” but with guitarist Dedrian, bassist Lane and drummer Codi all contributing vocals, Lamperjaw bring something immediately distinguishing to their approach. “Blood Dreams” aligns them with the burl-bringing Southern set, some screams and a metallic chug surprising after the opener’s booze-rocking vibe, but their real potential comes out on the seven-minute “Menace of a Cruel Earth,” which moves from low-in-the-mouth whoa-yeah-style grit across a successful linear build to a harmonized, well-arranged apex. It’s always hard to judge a band’s intent by their first release, and there’s a lot about their sound Lamperjaw are still figuring out, but they’ve given themselves some directional liquidity on their first demo, and it will be interesting to hear how they proceed from this point. Lamperjaw on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Like I said, this is just a fraction of the stuff that went up to the server this afternoon, so if you get a second, I hope you’ll peruse the The Obelisk Radio Updates and Playlist page, or whatever it is I’m calling it in my head this week. It’s the same page as always either way.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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Family Announce Tour Dates with Beak, Order of the Owl and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Family Tree FINAL

Haven’t heard much from Brooklyn crunch specialists Family since their 2012 release, Portrait (discussed here), but they’ve obviously spent the two years since it came out making good friends. From Moon Tooth and Weedeater to Lunglust, The Cloth, Beak, Hosoi Bros., Laser Flames on the Great Big News, Order of the Owl and Horseskull, their upcoming tour is rife with badass accompaniment. They’ll alternate between sharing the road time with Order of the Owl and Beak, and that’s already some pretty nifty shakes, but this is one of those lists of tour dates where you go back and check out the acts listed as being played with in each town, since it’s obvious some effort was put into curating each of these bills. Very cool stuff.

The tour starts Nov. 5 out on Long Island and takes off from there around the East Coast and Midwest, with the routing as such:

family tour flyer

FAMILY FALL 2014 TOUR DATES

Wed 11/5 – Long Island, NY – Amityville Music Hall w/Meek is Murder, Bangladeafy, Moon Tooth
Thurs 11/6 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie w/Sunburster, Bardus, The Cloth
Fri 11/7 – Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus Bar w/Weedeater, Full of Hell, Lazur/Wulf, Tiger Flowers
Sat 11/8 – Cambridge – TT the Bear’s w/Tiger Flowers, Lunglust, Jack Burton vs. David Lo Pan
Wed 11/12 – Pittsburgh, PA – Gooski’s w/Slaves BC, Edhochuli
Thurs 11/13 – Columbus, OH – Ruby Tuesday w/Denounce Your Martyr, All My Friends Are Dead, Silence the Ocean, Asylum Effect
Fri 11/14 – Chicago, IL – Township w/Beak, TBD
Sat 11/15 – St. Louis, MO – Fubar w/Beak, Quaere Verum, Ashes and Iron, Fumer
Sun 11/16 – Memphis, TN – Hi-Tone Cafe w/Beak, Hosoi Bros, Hombres
Mon 11/17 – Nashville, TN – Springwater w/Beak, Sheep Shifter, Laser Flames on the Great Big News
Wed 11/19 – Atlanta, GA – 529 w/Beak, Order of the Owl, Dead Register
Thurs 11/20 – Charlotte, NC – The Milestone w/Beak, Order of the Owl, Viajando
Fri 11/21 – Wilmington, NC – Reggie’s w/Beak, Order of the Owl, Mountain Thrower
Sat 11/22 –Raleigh, NC – The Maywood w/Beak, Order of the Owl, Horseskull

www.familyslays.com
www.familyslays.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/family.slays
www.twitter.com/familyslays
www.soundcloud.com/familyslays/sets/family-portrait

Family, Portrait (2012)

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Romero Go 8-Bit in “Take the Potion” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

romero take the potion video

This one hit me like a punch directly in the demographic. I remember well playing Zelda II: The Adventure of Link for NES, and having no idea of what was actually happening in the game. Back in the day, an RPG would just basically tell you “go here and get this thing and try not to die on the way” and that was the game. Turn-based battle was the shit, and Final Fantasy always had that over Zelda in my book, but no question the Zelda series has some of the best games ever made in it, between A Link to the Past for SNES and The Ocarina of Time for N64. Classic stuff.

Much to the credit of Wisconsin heavy rockers Romero, who released their debut LP, Take the Potion (review here), last year, the plotline of their 8-bit-style video for the title-track actually makes more sense than did the actual plotline of Zelda II. Drummer/vocalist Ben Brooks goes on an adventure with zombies and a stash of reefer and gradually builds an army of the undead — whose sole purpose, by the look of it, is to party — and eventually saves the Princess with a magic potion made of the last of his stash and whatever else, thus becoming “a real hero.” All the while we cut periodically back to the band — Brooks, guitarist/vocalist Jeffrey Mundt, bassist Patrick Hotlen and guitarist/organist Tim Consequence — who are rocking out “Take the Potion” in, what else?, a dungeon.

As videos go, “Take the Potion” is a lot more fun and a lot more creative than four dudes rocking out in a room, and it goes a long way in conveying Romero‘s unpretentious vibe, the band not taking themselves too seriously as they bust out what’s still a killer track from the album that shares its name. The clip comes with a promise of new music soon, so that’ll definitely be one to watch for. In the meantime, enjoy:

Romero, “Take the Potion” video

Romero on Thee Facebooks

Romero on Bandcamp

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Vodun Stream New Single “Loa’s Kingdom”

Posted in audiObelisk on October 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

vodun (Photo by Juliette de Momigny)

After releasing their debut EP, Eat up the Sun, last year on Superhot Records, London trio Vodun – also seen as Vôdûn — issue their new single “Loa’s Kingdom” today as a free download in order to provide advance warning of their first full-length, which is due out next year. The three-piece take their cues from psychedelic rock, churning metallic tones and Afrobeat rhythmic complexity, and donning costumes and makeup for their stage show, they give a visual impression of a rawer form of Goat. The two acts actually share very little in common sonically, so don’t be fooled going into “Loa’s Kingdom,” which seems to subliminally implant its hook as it rushes past for a quick, under-three-minute listen.

vodun loa's kingdomAside from the aesthetic vigilance, it’s that ability to blend memorable songcraft and a feeling of chaos that impresses most about Vodun, who never lose control of the material even when it seems most like it’s about to fly off the rails. Beginning with heavy rocks starts and stops and a forward percussive presence, “Loa’s Kingdom” unfolds with preaching vocals and a manic build of tension that lets loose in its chorus, the bass-less trio of singer Chantal Brown, drummer Zel Kaute (also of Groan) and guitarist Oliver Martinez enacting dizzying turns before a steady nod emerges. It’s a ferocious rush, and if it takes you two or three times through before you get your head around the song, my hope is you’ll consider it worth the effort.

Vodun head out on a round of UK dates Oct. 24. Find that list and some more info on “Loa’s Kingdom” under the player below, and enjoy:

Loa’s Kingdom is about the desire to transcend into the realm of the Gods – your highest self. A kingdom only fit for supreme beings, who must first pay penance to Papa Legba, as all the spirits do. He is the first and last, the beginning and end. He is the one who will let you into their world, and the one to let you out, so be generous with your offerings…

Rising from the ashes of London’s female-fronted metal band Invasion, VODUN blends a unique concoction of heavy metal and psychedelism, while embracing the African/Caribbean culture in the fullest possible way ever. Successfully reborn as voodoo Loa spirits Oya, Ogoun and Ghede, VODUN unleashed their first EP « Eat Up The Sun » in 2013, a perfect introduction to the trio’s singular and thrilling blend of shredding guitars, blazing rhythms and soulful vocals. After completing a short UK tour, the band revealed a vibrant new single entitled “Possession” (released in 2014 via the “New Heavy Sounds Vol. 3″ compilation), thus paving the way for their debut full-length, due out later in 2015. Second excerpt off VODUN’s forthcoming record, « Loa’s Kingdom » is a highly energetic ode to spiritual elevation marked by pounding riffage and incredibly catchy hooks. Get ready to unleash your inner Loa…

TOUR DATES
24.10 CAMBRIDGE – Portland Arms
25.10 COLCHESTER – The Old Bus Station
26.10 NOTTINGHAM – Stuck On A Name
27.10 WAKEFIELD – The Unity
28.10 MANCHESTER – Kraak Gallery
29.10 LIVERPOOL – Maguires Pizza Bar
30.10 BRISTOL – Mothers Ruin
01.11 LONDON – The Victoria

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Duuude, Tapes! Entierro, Entierro EP

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on September 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

entierro-tape-and-case

A five-track release of pro-produced, deeply aggressive beer metal, Entierro‘s Entierro EP has been pressed to tape in a limited edition of 50 copies. The tape itself is white, the J-card professionally printed as a one-side foldout, and the five songs included repeat on both sides. Download included. Both the material and its presentation are straightforward — the Connecticut outfit would much rather steamroll than impress with nuance — and as their first release under the moniker after forming as Treebeard in 2010, I’d expect no less from the Waterbury/New Haven double-guitar four-piece. Bassist/vocalist Christopher Taylor Baudette doubles in Nightbitch, but Entierro are a far more down-to-earth project, proffering dudely, metallic chugging and beer-raising groove with more than an edge of East Coast intensity.entierro-j-card-unfolded Baudette, guitarist/vocalist Javier Canales, guitarist Christopher Begnal and drummer John Rowold all feed into a burl that stays consistent throughout and only gets more prevalent as they push toward the thrashy closer “Fire in the Sky.”

Opening with the longest inclusion in the 5:11 “Cross to Bear” (immediate points), Entierro‘s Entierro starts out slow with a rolling, crisply produced riff around which the vocals work in a clean, metallic melody, the pace quickening in the second half to a chugging shuffle. As it should, “Cross to Bear” sets the tone. Guitars trade and combine leads, the tempo builds from slow to raucously fast, and Entierro cap with a big round of riffing, drawing back to the chorus and reinforcing a structure that — while not in doubt — shows they’re coming out of the gate with a good handle on their songwriting. The subsequent “Time Rider” provides the most memorable hook of the tape, and centerpiece “The Mist” opens up the groove and stomps out its rhythm with a sense of foreboding befitting its lyric. Again, Canales and Begnal impress on guitar, as they did in the early going of “Time Rider” as well, and though it seems like “Entierro/More Dead than Alive” is going to be somewhat calmer — the eponymous part of the song seems to be a bass solo from Baudette — it winds up a rager to set up the further aggro-ism entierro-tapeof “Fire in the Sky,” which rounds out as if to remind the listener Entierro were a metal band the whole time.

There was no doubt, whatever other heavy elements they worked in, but “Fire in the Sky” is sufficient payoff for the tension of the tracks preceding either way, its lyrics not bothering to look to tales of monsters or horror but focusing on the everyday terrors that exist on the current world stage. What they have to say about it is basically that the situation is grim and we’re all screwed, and it’s hard to fault them the perspective. Four years on from getting together, Entierro have a handle on their sound well enough, but I’d be interested to hear how it sounds live in comparison to the tape, since the clarity of production is such a big part of what makes it sound so particularly metal. I don’t take metal as a negative necessarily, I’m just curious if the band’s next outing will continue down that path or expand soundwise into more of a rock feel in kind with some of the earlier riffing on “Time Rider” or “The Mist.” I wouldn’t speculate, and more importantly for the time being, Entierro‘s Entierro intrigues enough that seems worth waiting to find out.

Entierro, Entierro (2014)

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Fever Dog, Second Wind: In Front of the Beyond

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

fever dog second wind

Californian desert rockers Fever Dog like to keep things nebulous. Their self-released (for now) sophomore full-length, Second Wind, brings together songs that were issued over the last two years since their 2012 debut, Volume One, as singles and in various other forms and unites them as a complete long-player. The album isn’t solely made up of these tracks, but with “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds,” “Hats off to Andrew Bowen” (review here) and “The Great Tree” (review here) having previously appeared, almost half the 10-track outing’s runtime is material already aired. How is it then that Second Wind manages to sound so fresh? I chalk it up to the jammy nature of the material itself, the variety the three-piece delivers across the board and the energy of their presentation. While generally a phrase like “Californian desert rockers” serves as little more than a dogwhistle for a Kyuss or Queens of the Stone Age influence, Fever Dog dive much deeper than that, incorporating synthy space rock and drone to immediately distinguish their still-growing sound, winding up closer to Zoroaster than Sky Valley on the quick single “Iroquois” and blending acoustic guitar and swirling keyboard progressions on “Rukma Vimana” to give Second Wind a go-anywhere-at-anytime vibe that serves the band and their songs well. There are moments that feel disjointed — hazards of the trade — but whether it’s the moody grunge-gaze of “The Back of Beyond” or the huge solo that emerges from synth grandiosity in the back half of the nine-minute “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds,” the trio of Danny Graham (guitar/vocals/theremin), Nathan Wood (bass/noise) and Joshua Adams (drums/organ/backing vocals) never fail to bring the listener into the fold of their complex, rich and spacious sound, giving a Floydian progressive vision of what the genre can be while proffering jazzy rhythmic turns and an unwavering sense of creativity. Yes, it’s desert rock, but it’s also working toward a broader definition of what that means.

This alone makes the immersive 48-minute release admirable, and it proves only more so with an openness of structure. Well-named acoustic/electric guitar intro track “Obelisk” eases the listener into what proves to be a course rife with twists and turns, the title-track taking hold with a drum fill and fuzzy blend of lead and rhythm, Graham‘s verse arriving blown out and bluesy but not overdrone atop insistent riffy push. A shuffling jam emerges, the band never quite departing from and never quite returning to the verse as effects swell in a guitar solo toward the finish of the three-minute “Second Wind,” winding toward “The Back of Beyond” and a cymbal wash and slow strum that announces a different take, more Masters of Reality than perhaps it knows in its wah, but foreshadowing the rhythm that will surface heavier in “Iroquois,” vocals deep in the mix and given an echo that mirrors the guitar. A more solidified structure, but still pretty open, “The Back of Beyond” jams to its end and the six-minute “The Great Tree” swirls an intro to a more extended mostly-instrumental jam, some classic heavy rock edge working its way in early as more virtuoso leadwork gives over to the second half’s drum stomp from Adams and momentum-building push, Wood marking each measure turn with a punchy bassline that plays well alongside the lead guitar. “Iroquois” starts innocently enough but soon shifts into heavy psych chug with a vocal changeup to match, space rock pulse underlying the memorable riffing en route to trades between solo and riff, “One Thousand Centuries” coming on quick with a build-up from Adams that opens to fluid jamming not unlike that of “The Great Tree,” a verse nestling into a quieter section that gets by without coming right out and emphasizing the rush of Second Wind up to this point but making its point via subtlety anyway. Effects signal a transition in the second half of “One Thousand Centuries” — the title-line delivered discernibly through a wash of melody and echo — and the album’s most fervent freakout ensues, double-time drums, guitar soloing and bass runs coming to a head and capping with feedback that ends cold.

fever dog (Photo by Jay Skowronek)

“Rukma Vimana” comes without a direct transition from “One Thousand Centuries,” which makes me think that if Fever Dog had vinyl in mind, that would be the point of the side A/B split. The three-minute raga-style cut, with its tanpura-style drone behind, acoustic strum, hand-claps mixed low and keyboard surge makes a fitting intro, though with “Hats off to Andrew Bowen” and “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds” behind it — both over nine minutes long — and 5:33 closer “Nexus” after that, I’m not sure it would all actually fit. Either way, this second half of Second Wind is where the three-piece really unfold their breadth, the longer-form material allowing for further exploration of their jammy ethos, heavy psych, desert rock, nighttime jazz and spaced-out vibing coming together across “Hats off to Andrew Bowen” in warm tones and momentum-driving drums, though it’s the guitar that ultimately leads the way out, solos layered on top of each other atop drone noise, the quiet first seconds of “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds” doing little to portray the song’s actual scope, vocals going a long way to ground it where “Hats off to Andrew Bowen” seemed to float out its run, exciting loud/quiet shifts leading to a cinematic synthesizer movement, hypnotic before Fever Dog snap back to their heavy build, Graham once again leading the way out as backwards guitar marks the change into closer “Nexus,” which is the record’s proggiest stretch, a last-minute change in vibe bringing a bluesy solo and quiet, key-laden verses to a head to a driving apex in the middle third before transitioning to the noisy, droning finish that provides the space rock preceding with a moment of landing before cutting off at the very end. It’s an impressive range that Fever Dog showcase throughout their second outing, revising and putting that previously-released material to its best use, but they also leave themselves room to grow as they continue forward in their songwriting and toying with structure. California’s desert has needed a next generation band to come to the fore stylistically and build on what groups like Fatso Jetson and earliest Queens of the Stone Age accomplished. There are already a few out there, but with Second WindFever Dog position themselves to be right in the discussion in terms of potential torch-carriers for the years to come.

Fever Dog, Second Wind (2014)

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All Them Witches, Lightning at the Door: Birth of Coyotes

Posted in Reviews on September 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

all them witches lightning at the door

Nashville four-piece All Them Witches released their second album, Lightning at the Door, last November via Bandcamp. No promotion to speak of other than a posted link, no real advance warning, just there it was. The record’s 45 minutes became something of an underground sensation, word of mouth and type of finger alike singing the praises of All Them Witches‘ original take on psychedelic blues, heavy riffing and stylized soul. Myself included. Lightning at the Door, which followed an earlier-2013 issue of their debut offering, Our Mother Electricity (review here), that made them the first American band to have their music released via Elektrohasch Schallplatten, was easily among last year’s highlight releases, and it warrants and deserves the physical pressing and proper “official” release the band has now given it. It is a stunning work in its clarity of aesthetic and in its songcraft, resulting in eight memorable tracks each distinguished by one part or another but all feeding into a complete, overarching whole that’s immersive, sprawling and the influence of which has already begun to be felt and, one suspects, will continue to be felt for some time. Reveling in both the individual contributions of guitarist Ben McLeod, bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., drummer Robby Staebler and Fender Rhodes specialist Allan Van Cleave and the chemistry between all of them, Lightning at the Door satisfies in its progressive sensibility and its atmosphere even as it sounds humble, raw and working directly in opposition to self-indulgent impulses. This sounds like hyperbole, but let it stand that whatever they do next — a 25-minute single-song jam called “Effervescent” (review here) has been issued since — to call it a landmark does not at this point feel like an overstatement.

A brooding feel pervades, and some of Lightning at the Door‘s most effective moments are in its quieter, ambient reaches, beginning with the walk-into-water intro to opener “Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird,” volume swells of guitar feedback shifting smoothly into warm, natural-sounding fuzz given melodic breadth by Van Cleave‘s keys — it feels like cheating to review the album after seeing the band live and witnessing first-hand how utterly essential he is to what All Them Witches do — and boogie by Staebler‘s ever-ready snare shuffle. “Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird” unfolds smoothly, patiently, Parks‘ vocals arriving in the second half to introduce a surreal lyrical quirk that will serve as a uniting theme in the material throughout. “When God Comes Back” ignites heavier boogie while still saving the thickest tones for “Swallowed by the Sea,” the album’s longest cut at 8:23 and the end of side A after “When God Comes Back”‘s bluesy thrust shifts into airy psychedelic rock, twisting rhythms remaining surefooted amid memorable howls of guitar and voice and further bizarre proclamations, Songs for the Deaf-worthy lead compression standing out in the final reach en route to the moodier, harmonica-inclusive “The Marriage of Coyote Woman,” bass and Rhodes coming to the fore as the repeated lines, “I never met a salesman like you before/Lions of the world just ripping us apart,” serving as the spoken frame for a fluid, laid-back jam that molds its way into and out of dynamic apexes, finishing quiet as through-a-can twang vocals and lightly-plucked guitar start “Swallowed by the Sea.” For its scope more than its length, “Swallowed by the Sea” is a remarkable singular accomplishment, building from its minimal beginning to a swaying, riff-led progression, McLeod‘s molasses tone arriving at 1:57 to jar the listener out of sweet hypnosis and into righteous heavy groove that morphs for the next minute or so before receding into another graceful jam, the exploratory feel of which is no less engaging than was the hook of “The Marriage of Coyote Woman” or “Charles William,” which follows as the opener of side B.

all them witches (Photo by Giles Clement)

The album makes a certain kind of sense with the vinyl sides split, and seems to have been structured with that in mind, but I won’t discount its linear value either. As someone who became a fan of it by streaming and who purchased one of the sleeve CD copies the band pressed before this digipak/LP re-release, I’ve spent far more time considering Lightning at the Door as a whole front-to-back work than as component parts either in the two halves of a vinyl or in its eight individual songs, and enjoy the process of getting lost in it that listening experience provides. Still, there’s a definite shift as the second portion branches out All Them Witches‘ approach, “Charles William” mirroring the subdued launch of “Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird” and its lyrical modus but solidifying around one of the record’s most memorable progressions, resounding with a triumph — once again, Parks‘ vocals and Van Cleave‘s keys offer melodic flourish to the propulsive rhythm in McLeod‘s guitar, Parks‘ bass and Staebler‘s drums — that serves as a high point of efficiency in their execution. Well then, time to jam out. “The Death of Coyote Woman” — you’ll recall she got married on side A — works around a start stop riff initially and emphasizes how much the band is the more than the sum of its players’ contributions, all four of them in their own space as they move forward into the jam, stopping after a minute in to brazenly cut the momentum short and begin a verse progression from the ground up that’s bound to disorient those hearing Lightning at the Door for the first time on vinyl (the old which-song-is-this-again factor) and which leads back into jamming not quite as motoring as the “intro” to “The Death of Coyote Woman” but which makes a steady home for itself in the feel-it-out space between the low and the high where most acts aren’t nearly so comfortable lingering and few manage to inhabit as well as All Them Witches without either losing themselves to boring repetition or moving on for the sake of an easier payoff. This is a band breaking the rules of the building progressions that so much of heavy psych is based around, and doing it with command and tones natural enough to carry listeners along paths of complex structure and range.

“Romany Dagger” is more or less an interlude at an instrumental 2:46, but it also serves to push stylistic boundaries, tapping into Wovenhand-style Eastern European minor-key-isms and rhythms while holding firm to the album’s mood, a quick fade bringing about the languid but still swinging drum intro to closer “Mountain,” a sort of spiritual successor in the vein of “Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird” and “Charles William” but longer than either of them at 6:17 and more patient than either, working to rather than against a linear build, McLeod peppering in lead layers atop Parks‘ steady bassline, the tense drumming of Staebler and Van Cleave‘s intermittent tones, used more for emphasis here but still very much a part of the track’s overall affect, even in the chorus, at which the song seems to arrive with a sense of reverence befitting the repeated line, “God bless our mother the mountain.” Just before the five-minute mark, a heavier riff emerges to bring “Mountain” to its peak and Lightning at the Door to its somewhat abbreviated but crashing finale, ending with a ringout that feels understated considering the journey preceding. That lack of pretense is one of Lightning at the Door‘s defining characteristics and one of its great strengths. The album has already met with success in raising All Them Witches‘ profile — they’re beginning to make a statement as a touring act as well, having just finished a round of dates with Windhand — but more crucially, it signifies the individualized approach coming to the fore from these players and serves notice of their potential to continue to build on it, much as it builds on Our Mother Electricity. Again, whatever they do next, whatever changes are bound to take place, wherever they go and wherever they take their sound along the way, Lightning at the Door will remain a special moment, the urgency in the creation of which bleeds through its every measure.

All Them Witches, Lightning at the Door (2013/2014)

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Larman Clamor Stream “Bleak Heart’s Night Waltz” from Beetle Crown and Steel Wand

Posted in audiObelisk on September 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

alexander von wieding

Next Monday, Sept. 29, marks the release of the fifth Larman Clamor album, Beetle Crown and Steel Wand. The one-man outfit of Hamburg-based artist Alexander von Wieding has been something of a fixture around these parts the last few years, and over that time, the project’s progression has only become more evident, von Wieding taking Larman Clamor from swampy surrealism to an intricate potion of blues, psychedelia, heavy rock and gritty Southern-style twang. It’s been a satisfying and primarily weird journey, and I doubt very much if von Wieding would have it any other way.

The last couple Larman Clamor outings have come out courtesy of Small Stone Records — von Wieding has also provided art to numerous Small Stone artists from Wo Fat to Lo-Pan and so on — but Beetle Crown and Steel Wand sidesteps the collaboration for a limited self-release, 500 CDs available direct. larman clamor beetle crown and steel wandOne doubts it’s the last the two entities will join forces, as von Wieding is reportedly already at work on the sixth Larman Clamor album, but his one-year-one-record clip has been rolling for the last three or four years at this point, and there’s no slowing down now.

What that rate has given those who’ve followed him for that stretch is basically a blow-by-blow account of the creative evolution at play, and Beetle Crown and Steel Wand is the latest step in that clearly ongoing process, branching further out from the project’s bluesed-out roots and into an earthy psychedelia that belongs solely to von Wieding. He’s still got an edge of Delta blues to the sound — as the banjo-plucking and slide guitar on “Bleak Heart’s Night Waltz” will attest — but his depth of arrangement, rhythmic stomp and melodic scope continue to flourish.

Check out “Bleak Heart’s Night Waltz” on the player below, followed by the bio I wrote for the album, and enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Tales of brown-leafed mystery. Unseen threats lurking in high weeds. Something not quite human, not quite there, out of some other place. Feet stomping on wood porches. This is all familiar terrain for Larman Clamor’s blues, but with Beetle Crown and Steel Wand, it’s just another piece in an increasingly complicated puzzle of psychedelic experimentation.

It is the fourth Larman Clamor full-length in three years, the prolific heart of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/artist Alexander Von Wieding proving relentless in its creativity, and while Beetle Crown and Steel Wand fits in line with 2013’s Alligator Heart, 2012’s Frogs, 2011’s Altars to Turn Blood and the preceding 2011 self-titled debut EP, no question it’s also the next step in an ongoing evolution of Von Wieding’s songwriting. Each Larman Clamor outing has developed from the last, and Beetle Crown and Steel Wand is no exception. It is Von Wieding’s most rhythmic, most expansive statement to date.

One can hear it in the familiar dirt boogie of “My Lil’ Ghost,” sure – how comfortable Von Wieding sounds in this form compared to just two years ago (he’s had plenty of practice) – but where Beetle Crown and Steel Wand really distinguishes itself is in the arrangements. In short movements like “Eggs in the Sand” and “Tangerine Nightfall” and the album’s apex, “Her Majesty, the Mountain,” Von Wieding pushes Larman Clamor into psychedelic spaces more than he ever has, and particularly in the case of the latter, into heavier tonal weight than he’s ever conjured before. Larman Clamor doesn’t just sound like a solo-project here, but a full band.

At the same time, the opening title-track offers layers of percussive sway, “We Shine Alright” ticks away on pots and pans jangling chains, and “Bleak Heart’s Night Waltz” taps into forgotten woodsman tribalisms. Von Wieding takes us far away from past minimalism on “Caravan of Ghouls,” with a full, ritualized sound, and could it be that he’s presenting us with a companion for Larman in “Aurora Snarling?” It seems too early to speculate, but if Aurora is another character in Larman’s dizzying tale, she’s bound to show up again.

What’s certain is that Beetle Crown and Steel Wand is Larman Clamor’s farthest-ranging album yet. Von Wieding is still loyal to the muddy waters from which the project first emerged, but in no way is he restrained by them, and if the last couple years have proved anything, it’s that this development is only going to keep moving forward. Now that Larman Clamor is out of the swamps, it seems more and more like it can go just about anywhere.

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On the Radar: Hijo de la Tormenta, Hijo de la Tormenta

Posted in On the Radar on September 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

hijo de la tormenta

With their self-released, self-titled full-length debut, Argentinian three-piece Hijo de la Tormenta embark on what they like to call “forest psychedelia,” or “psicodelia del monte” (“mountain psychedelia”). I think the latter might be a more apt desciptor for the Córdoba unit’s sound itself, which balances gracefully wandering passages with dense tonal largesse — big riffs and open spaces brought to bear with a patient sensibility that impresses all the more considering Hijo del la Tormenta‘s Hijo de la Tormenta arrives preceded only by a 2012 EP, Simple 5/12. There isn’t as much a feeling either of foreboding or nature worship that “forest” brings to mind in a musical context, but frankly, wherever Hijo de la Tormenta are spending their time outside, in the forest, the mountains, both or neither, it’s clearly working for them. Their first full-length is engaging and immersive, creating a rich flow early on and running a wide scope in their largely-instrumental material that one gets the sense is only going to get wider as time goes on. Nor do they forget to kick a bit of ass, as songs like “Alienación” and second cut “Dilusiva” showcase.

The latter is about as straightforward and immediate as the trio of guitarist/vocalist Juan Cruz Ledesma, bassist Guido di Carlo and drummer Santi Ludueña get, but even their jammiest and most meandering stretches — a song like nine-minute opener “Viaje de Ida/Viaje de Vuelta” (reportedly based on a poem by Roberto Bolaño) or the two-parter hijo de la tormenta self-titled“Desde la Espesura,” which sandwiches “Dilusiva” on the other side — retain a feeling of motion. A big part of that stems from the fervency of their grooving in a song like “Alienación,” the opening sample of which jars a bit but not enough to really be a misstep, each successive track on Hijo de la Tormenta drawing the listener further into the linear course of the album as a whole. “Desde la Espesura (Lado A)” and “Desde la Espesura (Lado B)” both do an excellent job of that, departing from some of “Viaje de Ida/Viaje de Vuelta”‘s bigger sound to a more hypnotic vibe, and though it has a build, “Sierras del Paiman” continues in this fashion en route to the return to longer-form songwriting on “Alienación,” lead guitar dominating the mix in the second half for an extended, bluesy solo that pushes the song into highlight territory, a rumbling fuzz remaining after the rest of the elements seem to recede.

“Alienación” is paired with “Desalienación,” which opens with Hijo de la Tormenta‘s most forceful riffing since “Dilusiva” and shifts fluidly into a slower, more subdued bass-led groove. That, in turn, progresses smoothly into jazzy snare work, airy guitar strums — offset, of course, by dense fuzz — and late-arriving vocals providing the album’s most singularly Los Natasian moment. That band’s Gonzalo Villagra mastered, and the bulk of Hijo de la Tormenta‘s sound is less Natas-derived than many I’ve encountered in Argentina’s well-populated heavy scene, but it’s also worth noting that the band’s moniker was used as the opening line of the title-track lyrics to Los Natas‘ 2006 album, El Hombre Montaña. Still, the simple fact that Hijo de la Tormenta would position themselves in a heavy rock landscape other than the desert speaks to a burgeoning drive toward individualism, and as they finish out with the psychedelic “Postales del Fin del Mundo” with a heady jam topped by ethereal layers of guest vocals from Laura Dalmasso it seems less like they’ve shown their complete range on what’s nonetheless a cohesive and engaging first long-player. As they continue to refine their sound, expect the geography likewise to come more into focus.

Hijo de la Tormenta, Hijo de la Tormenta (2014)

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Northern Crown Debut “A Perfectly Realized Torment” from Debut EP In the Hands of the Betrayer

Posted in audiObelisk on September 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

northern-crown

Floridian trad doom metallers Northern Crown will issue their debut EP, In the Hands of the Betrayer, on Oct. 14. The self-releasing group is comprised of a core duo, guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter Zachary Randall and vocalist/lead guitarist Frank Serafine, and to flesh out the short release, they brought in a variety of guest players from guitarist Sally Gates and bassist Randy Piro of Orbweaver to drummer Josh Brown and keyboardist Roberto Celentano, whose contributions to the overall melody greatly enhance Serafine‘s traditional metal vocal style. They wear their influences on their sleeve — as one might expect for a new band out of the gate either in the process of solidifying a lineup or deciding if that’s how they want to go at all — to the point of making the Candlemass cover “Crystal Ball” the centerpiece of In the Hands of the Betrayer, but even to that well-established classic of the genre they bring an innate edge of their own.

Elsewhere on the release, the opening title-track launches with a galloping groove, and the ambient interlude “Approaching, Encroaching Storm” sets the table for the 11-minute closer “To Thee I Give an Orchid” to plunge into organ-laced doomed expanse. Next to that track, the longest piece on In the Hands of the Betrayer is “A Perfectly Realized Torment” at 7:27, the second cut which northern crown in the hands of the betrayertames the back-and-forth pacing of the opener to a consistent riff-led chug, casually influenced by Trouble but interested in a lushness and fullness of sound, and working with an overarching echo that brings to mind some of Solitude Aeturnus‘ classic drama and emotionally weighted push. The song starts heavy and ends heavy, but there’s a building sense to it as the verse appears and then recedes into the dismal ether of riffing and intermittent keys. In the end, “A Perfectly Realized Torment” relies almost as much on keys as guitar to portray the apex, but however they get there, “A Perfectly Realized Torment” displays a lot of the character of the release as a whole and makes a fitting summary of Northern Crown‘s doom in its early going.

Because of that, I’m happy to be able to host the premiere of “A Perfectly Realized Torment” for your streaming pleasure. Please find it on the player below, and doom on:

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Northern Crown‘s In the Hands of the Betrayer was recorded by Zachary Randall and Frank Serafine and mixed by Randall. The EP is out Oct. 14. More info at the links.

Northern Crown on Thee Facebooks

Northern Crown’s website

Northern Crown on Bandcamp

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