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:
Posted in audiObelisk on October 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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.
Aside 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
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.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 of “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.
Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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 Ageinfluence, 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.
“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 Wind, Fever Dog position themselves to be right in the discussion in terms of potential torch-carriers for the years to come.
Posted in Reviews on September 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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.
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)
Posted in audiObelisk on September 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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. One 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:
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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.
Posted in On the Radar on September 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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 “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.
Posted in audiObelisk on September 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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 tames 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 guitarto 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.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’re looking for a reference point for San Fran heavy trio Disastroid, think of a thicker-toned, more metallized Fatso Jetson and you might get something of a picture for what they do on their third album, Missiles. The record lobs eight such slabs of projectile rock, taking influence from the deserts to the band’s south but adding a but of noise crunch as well, like the Melvins but less showy in their weirdness, and guitarist Enver Koneya comes straight out of the Mario Lalli vocal school (which I very much wish was an actual school, like, one that I could go to). To wit, the husky soul of “Unsound Mind,” on which Koneya soothes over prog metal chugging and desert rock push. That’s one example and Missiles goes elsewhere on other tracks, but a standout all the same if you’re looking for a place to start.
Details on the album and some background on Disastroid follow, courtesy of the PR wire:
Disastroid is a heavy music trio from the San Francisco Bay Area who has carved a name for themselves in the Bay Area heavy music scene with their sporadic releases and intense/atmospheric live shows and complete DIY ethic and approach. Formed in 2007 by Enver Koneya, Travis Williams and Braden McGaw through their shared interest in Kyuss, fuzz pedals and Godzilla movies, the collective interests were then forged into a band that created a sound that one fan has described as: “It sounds like an armada of spaceships blasting across the galaxy in preparation for intergalactic war.” With two full lengths under their belt and a handful of E.P. releases, they guys keep pretty active and have already played alongside the likes of Fu Manchu, Yawning Man, Eagles of Death Metal Church of Misery, Jucifer, Black Cobra and Helmet since their inception.
The latest release from the San Francisco riffers is entitled Missiles and is follow up to their last 7” release Karoshi. Recorded and mixed in the Bay Area with mastering done in Los Angeles by Mike Wells, artwork/illustrations created by bass player Travis Williams. Eight songs of conceptual tone and carefully crafted riffs, it’s a break from what Karoshi brought with its slow sludgy tempo and feel. A faster/frantic pace and melodic sense is prevalent in most of the tracks, without sacrificing any of the characteristics that made them known for the sound they’ve forged for themselves and their audiences. Enver’s playing is much more upbeat with a good mix of clean tone harmonies and sludge infused grooves, Travis’s bass playing never wavering along with Braden’s drumming patterns. These guys musicianship and songwriting capabilities improve and excel with each new release they put out and it shows with Missiles.
Like all their other releases, this was a complete DIY effort in terms of the recordings, mastering and production. Other releases that Disastroid have done include:
Life or Death – 2009 Iris Failure E.P. – 2011 Money & Guilt – 2012 Karoshi E.P. – 2013
Posted in On Wax on September 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
There’s little I’m inclined to argue with less than a new The Kings of Frog Island record. Their 2013 outing, IV (review here), began a new era for the amorphous UK band, self-releasing LPs after a three-album stint on Elektrohasch, and they follow that LP quickly with the heady two-sides of V, which furthers their blend of classic psych, garage rock and heavy/desert rock impulses. I don’t think it really matters who shows up on a given day for the studio, just so long as they can jam, and V unquestionably benefits from that mentality, and this time around, steady partakers Mark Buteaux (vocals/guitar), Roger “Dodge” Watson (drums) and Gavin Searle are joined by Gavin Wright and Tony Heslop, who came aboard last time out, and Lee Madel-Toner, with Scarlett Searle guesting. Change and fluidity have been running themes for The Kings of Frog Island since their 2005 self-titled debut, and V is no exception.
Like IV, there’s no number anywhere on the 12″ sleeve that would tip you off if you didn’t already know it was the fifth album, but even side-by-side with its predecessor, V shows off a heady growth in sound and confidence from last year’s offering, Buteaux comfortable topping side A’s tripped-out closer “Raised in a Lion’s Den” with a single line of vocals (“I was born in a desert, raised in a lion’s den”) to add mystique to an already molten atmosphere. In particular, the blend of ambience and more grounded songwriting — something The Kings of Frog Island have never lacked — is readily on display throughout the new LP, an early highlight arriving with the psychedelic desertisms of “Sunburn,” the opener that billows out of the introductory “Tangerine.” For the first half, divisions between songs are otherwise pretty clear. “Tangerine” hypnotizes early and gives way directly to “Sunburn,” but that song, “Temporal Riff,” which follows, “Born on the Fourth” and “Raised in a Lion’s Den” have definitive starts and finishes, which by the time side B rounds out won’t be the case. “Temporal Riff” is another early high point, departing from “Sunburn”‘s distortion waves and into ’60s-style acoustic psych pop that subtly builds around a wash of cymbals that continues a theme from last time out of patient, impeccably captured drumming from Watson, fluid in the speakers and in the ears and a key element in the band’s approach. The song itself isn’t limited to that or to a jam — it has one of the album’s best hooks, right up there with “Sunburn” — but it makes the transition easier into the classic garage rock swagger of “Born on the Fourth,” a quicker jaunt distinguished by call and response vocals and the lyric “Put your hand in the palm of mine,” which mirrors the rhythmic insistence well.
“Raised in a Lion’s Den” is likewise well placed at the end of side A, since it foreshadows some of what side B gets up to with its lull-your-consciousness rollout and sense of lysergic space rock meandering. “Novocaine” is earthbound compared to some of what follows, with a lightly Beatles-style verse-into-chorus transition, but still plenty groovy, starting out soft and getting into volume-swell guitar antics and subdued airiness before the more purely desert-tinged “Five O Grind” reminds of the expanses a Kyuss influence can cover when put to best use. The swirl and heavier vibe is immediate, echoing vocals deep under the riff, the title repeated as the lyrical center of the song, the fuzz consuming. It’s the most forceful of the riffers on V, but not out of place either with “Novocaine” before it or “Destroy all Monsters” after, which references Godzilla in its title and is pretty clearly named for its largesse of riff, similarly to how “Temporal Riff” may have been titled for its backward-in-time vibing. “Five O Grind” is the last bit of earthly grooving The Kings of Frog Island do here, if you can call it that, since even when their material is structured it’s blissed out, and the last three cuts, “Destroy all Monsters,” “Make it Last” and “On” bleed together to finish the album in flowing fashion, the clear ending of “Five O Grind” with its lead guitar, buried vocals and steady nod giving way to the stomp of “Destroy all Monsters” — how else would one do that but with giant lizard feet and maybe a bit of laser breath? — which flows nebulously into “Make it Last” and “On.” Where the point of separation is between the last three tracks, I don’t know exactly, but “Destroy all Monsters” seems to separate after several turns of standalone drone riffing into feedback from which a more fuzzed riff emerges (the drums rejoin), and if you told me that was the switch into “Make it Last,” I’d believe you.
From there, one might point out any number of points at which “On” takes hold to round out V, but in doing so I think a crucial intent of the album would be sacrificed. As with IV, it’s pretty clear that a big part of The Kings of Frog Island‘s intent in only releasing an LP edition of V is that the record should be experienced as a whole, in one complete sitting split only between sides A and B. Ultimately, where “Make it Last” becomes “On” doesn’t matter. It’s the fades in and out, the feedback, drum-propelled, the steady bassline and the ground the material covers that’s all the more important than if the quick stop is where one ends and another begins. Either way, V is finished with its fading, synth-topped jam, a foundational guitar, bass, drum rhythm topped by a wash that continues even as ambient vocals make a surprise return as if to remind that there are still humans somewhere behind all this liquefied noise. Tambourine punctuates for a while and what must be “On” devolves into one last hypnotic wash of psychedelic melody, organ sounds being the last element present before the needle returns. I’ve been a nerd for The Kings of Frog Island since their 2008 fuzz-landmark, II, and in the years since, they’ve showed an unrelenting pursuit of expanded-mind exploration. What’s perhaps most encouraging about V is how amiable a companion it is for IV while maintaining a personality of its own. Clearly grown out of the preceding full-length, V seems to establish the band’s progression as one set to continue with no end in sight. Again, you won’t hear me argue.
The Kings of Frog Island, “Sunburn” official video
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Later this month, UK heavy psych trio Formes will take part in the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia alongside an impressive cast of colorfuls that includes Gnod and Spindrift and many, many more. Reverb is sure to ensue. That’s a pretty hip happening, and I’d be inclined to post about their upcoming album, Dysphoria, either way, but what really got me hooked was the track “Tumult” from the record, with its off-kilter blend of shoegaze and growling aggression. You’ll note the artwork is in direct conversation with Hawkwind, but there’s an extremity to go with Formes‘ spacey side that comes through in “Tumult” that one rarely hears from those inclined to jam and our bliss out. “Psychedelic metal” isn’t a new phrase by any stretch, but Formes have a take on it that makes the swirl seem all the more engulfing.
Fascinating times we live in.
Art, news, links and audio, in that order:
Drawing inspiration from Hawkwind, Sleep, Ufomammut on to Deftones and Tool, Formes trade in heavy doom laden psychedelia with a distinctly metallic edge. The band’s self-recorded debut album ‘Dysphoria’ released later this year will take you to the farthest reaches of your mind, propelled by otherworldly sounds, obscure psychedelia, doom and sludge grooves as evident on album taster ‘Tumult’. The 7 minute slab of ungodly doom laden psych sees the band finally forging their personality after two years of experimentation and progression to a heavier sound since formation in 2012.
Winning support from BBC Introducing, BBC 6 Music and a wealth of positive blog notices, live the band have shared stages with many of psychedelias biggest artists including Cosmic Dead, The Cult of Dom Keller, Plank and Mugstar. They play a coveted appearance at Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia in September which is sure to raise the bands profile.
UPCOMING GIGS 26th September – Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia 11th October – Satans Hollow, Manchester 16th Ocotber – Oxjam Leeds Takeover 20th November – Hope and Anchor, London
Posted in On Wax on September 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Six tracks of instrumental dronier-than-thou guitar-based exploration pressed in limited numbers (the first 100 in lime green wax), Storm Ross‘ The Green Realm definitely requires an adventurous ear. Though the project takes its name from Michigan-based guitarist Storm Ross, also of Skeleton Birds, The Green Realm nonetheless intermittently invokes a full-band feel, as on side A closer “Through the Canopy,” which backs a post-rock solo with cyclical tom runs and a steady rhythm line of synth. Oh yeah, and trombone. Because duh.
The horn is contributed by Ryan Patrick O’Reilly (he also did the stare-at-it-for-as-long-as-you-can-and-you-still-won’t-see-it-all cover art), and the percussion by Jeremy Edwards, but in terms of the synth and guitar, effects and sundry programmed elements, it’s Ross himself driving the album. There are three tracks on each side of the LP, opener “By Lantern’s Light” and side B’s “Winterskill” mirroring each other with some abrasively high-pitched noise, but a steady drone emerges and provides a uniting theme around which the surprisingly diverse washes swirl, be it the big-guitar spaciousness and clear riffing of “By Lantern’s Light” or the manipulated-feedback-int0-synth of “Frost’s Howl,” the complexity of which is by no means limited to that transition, which is seamless, or the guitar lead that emerges in the second half, which seems to make a bed out of what was already a palpable build.
It’s interesting to note the blend of natural and electronic/computerized elements, both because Ross makes them work together well across The Green Realm and because even as they delve into noise wash and seem to move farther away from organic sounds, titles like “Frost’s Howl,” “Through the Canopy,” “The River” and “Alpenglow” offer direct references to nature. “Winterskill”‘s background drone is gorgeous and brightly toned, indeed evocative of an icy landscape. It seems to strive to portray these ideas even as it shifts later with more prominent synthesizer, less guitar, as though asking the listener to hold onto a picture even as that picture is being contorted, its proportions and perspective changed. It’s a closed-eye album, and the side split helps in processing each half — though ultimately the split itself doesn’t seem to signify any jump from one modus to another; it’s all experimental, so it’s not like Storm Ross is saving the freakout for the second part — but immersive if you’ll let it be, and by the middle of side B, “Winterskill” giving way to “The River” en route to “Alpenglow” closing out, its flow is well established and uninterrupted, even as “The River” squibbles out guitar noise and jars with avant-style cymbals and tom percussion.
“The River” seems to find its direction as it progresses toward its feedback finish, and “Alpenglow” continues along a similar vein, if with a more straightforward drum progression, and though that pairing gives a sense of solidarity to the back end of The Green Realm, the record as a whole still covers a vast amount of atmospheric territory, demanding more attention than an entirely ambient release but still coming across as the result of raw explorations. Again, it won’t be for everyone, nor is it intended to be, but Ross has developed these ideas to a point of skirting the line between “pieces” and “songs” and it’s a barrier he seems content to cross at will. As his first solo outing in five years (third overall), one wonders if it didn’t come together over a longer stretch of time, as opposed to a single writing session, but either way, Ross draws a unifying thread through the two sides with a feeling of reverence for the natural, and successfully challenges the audience to widen their perception of what that might mean.
Posted in Reviews on September 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It hasn’t yet been a full month since Boston’s Ice Dragon issued their Seeds from a Dying Garden (review here) album, more or less dropping it on the heads of listeners in their customary Bandcamp/YouTube fashion, and this weekend the admirably prolific foursome followed it up with Loaf of Head. The new release starts off like the aural equivalent of showing up at a fancy dinner party, pulling down your pants and slapping your balls on the coffee table. It swaggers and swings and drunkenly pushes you out of the way with opener “Yes I Am,” working quick to proffer shouted-across-the-room dudely burl while the subsequent “Walking Tall” stomps its feelings away in a stupor of slide guitar and blown-out proclamations. Maybe after Seeds from a Dying Garden was out Ice Dragon decided they had to let loose a little — though one imagines the two were written concurrently — and Loaf of Head certainly follows suit with that. It is raucous and mean, and even when the guitar gets a little psychedelic at the end of “Walking Tall,” one would hardly call it a peaceful moment.
Yet there’s more to it than the initial boasting and riffbeating as well — not that I have a problem with either, particularly in the context of Ice Dragon‘s multifaceted sound — and Loaf of Head shifts with “The Question Unanswered” into a more style more psychedelic in its garage doom roll. The lead guitar is still over-the-top grandiose, and it’s still plenty heavy, but it’s a more languid unfurling, less immediately aggressive, and more of a nod. The band, comprised of vocalist Ron Rochondo (some drums), guitarist Carter (some bass), bassist Joe (some guitar) and drummer Brad, continue down this path with “A Song by Hildegarde Hawthorne,” a slower garage rocker more peaceful than either in the opening duo, but still with movement underscoring its warm distortion, layers of lead and rhythm guitar, rounding out with “aah” sweetness in a way that almost telegraphs how much it’s setting you up how-about-a-Hawaiian-punch-style for “I’m Sorry to all the Girls,” which returns to the knuckleheaded butt rock thrust of “Yes I Am” and “Walking Tall.” And just so there’s no mistaking, indeed, “knuckleheaded” is a compliment.
They said at some point over the last couple weeks that their next one was gonna be a rocker, and they were right. Continually, Ice Dragon show an awareness of what they’re bringing to each release sonically. Even down to Loaf of Head‘s artwork, which is manic and psychedelic but rawer than the Beach Boys-style sunshine of Seeds from a Dying Garden, the album reaffirms their consciousness of the scope they’re creating. They can come across as nihilistic, particularly on songs like “Yes I Am” or “I’m Sorry to all the Girls,” which delights in its scuzzy blues, but Ice Dragon know what they’re doing here, and every song, every album they make is a result of thought-out decisions, even if the decision involved is, “Okay, we’re gonna get loaded and hit record.” If you’re wondering why they might be sorry to all the girls, it’s because they need “a savory older lady.” That song sort of disintegrates behind Rochondo‘s vocals, and the sleaze continues on “Living in the Goddamn City,” though with a more socially-conscious turn in lines like, “There’s a rich woman yellin’ on her telephone/She’s never had a job she’s got a beautiful home.”
A punk ethic and accordingly a punk riff, though slowed down in a stonerly tradition. After a bridge and tripped-out solo, they repeat the chorus in what feels like surprisingly traditional fashion, and Loaf of Head rounds out with “The Rising Moon, the Setting Sun.” I thought they might try to tie the two sides of the offering together, or maybe begin a turn to the easy psych flow of “The Question Unanswered” and “A Song by Hidegarde Hawthorne” and just cut it short, and they seem to lean more to the former idea. A highlight bassline and swinging drum march meet with airy guitar and a chorus that satisfies in the tradition of big ’70s rockers — when Ice Dragon decides to do “their ELO record,” shit is going to hit the fan — and whatever it may be doing to tie the leave-‘em-loose ends of Loaf of Head together, “The Rising Moon, the Setting Sun” is the album’s best track, crafted fluidly and engagingly around a simple, central chug but opening in that chorus part to a glorious wash that’s as accomplished as anything I’ve yet heard from Ice Dragon on one of their many outings. A signature moment, and a fitting close.
Their progression, walking down several different avenues at the same time, continues unabated. I wouldn’t hazard a guess at what they might break out next — a metallic single? a drone-folk collection of peaceful resonance? — but whatever it might be, the underlying processes by which Ice Dragon are able to concoct all this diverse material move forward. They’re a lot to keep up with, but the catalog they’ve created — now upwards of 10 albums deep, plus other singles, splits, etc., all DIY — is unlike anything else out there. And in the case of Loaf of Head, I mean way out there.
Posted in Radio on September 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been a couple weeks since the last time I was able to get together a proper round of adds to The Obelisk Radio, and the list as a result is accordingly huge. I’d have to go back and compare the last 18-plus months to be sure, but I think 40 albums is up there with what I might have uploaded during the initial buildup of the playlist, just basically getting everything I could think of and a bunch of stuff I couldn’t to expand on what was on the hard drive when I got it. We’ll be at two years since the Radio stream went live before I know it. Time goes quick, and seems to all the more when each post has a timestamp.
I say this every time, but there’s a lot of killer stuff included this week, so I hope you find something you enjoy.
The Obelisk Radio Adds for Sept. 13, 2014:
Bong, Bong Presents Haikai No Ku Ultra High Dimensionality LP
I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to try to ascertain what plane of being Bong are residing on these days, but suffice it to say, they’ve evolved beyond corporeal form and merged with the all-consuming distortion of the universe. At least that’s how it sounds. The maddeningly prolific UK drone-doomers present this release but aren’t actually on it, save for guitarist Mike Vest, who leads the side-project Haikai No Ku through five tracks of blissful psychout on Ultra High Dimensionality. If you’re looking for differences between the two outfits, Haikai No Ku lean less toward grim droning than Bong, and songs like “Dead in the Temple” and “Blue at Noon” roll out huge psychedelic grooves — the band is completed by bassist Jerome Smith and drummer Sam Booth – but there’s consistency to be found in the wash of noise and the complete hypnosis of their repetitions anyway, and as high as the dimensionality might be, the volume should be higher. One to get lost in for sure, and there’s enough space for everyone. Bong on Twitter, on Bandcamp.
Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds, The Shining One
The pun in the moniker of Moscow double-guitar four-piece Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds probably doesn’t need to be pointed out. Featuring The Grand Astoria collaborator Igor Suvorov, Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds pull together touches of psychedelic impulsiveness and classic heavy rock structures with the production clarity and catchy songwriting of mid-era Queens of the Stone Age. There’s a danger underscoring the boogie of “How to Fix Things” from the band’s self-released debut LP, The Shining One, that seems to find payoff later in the big-groove hook of “Highlow World,” which provides one of the album’s most satisfying listens before shifting into an airier dreamspace and fading into the noisier “Lords of the Damned,” reviving the largesse of riff prior to the closing title-track. An intriguing debut for an outfit loaded with potential, the fullness of their sound boding particularly well for their confidence in their sound and the precision of their execution. One not to be missed. Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Desert Lord, To the Unknown
Finnish stoner-doom foursome Desert Lord get into some Sabbath-worship on their debut long-player, To the Unknown, but manage to avoid both the trap of retro ’70s-ism that has much of Europe so firmly in its grasp and the trap of sounding like Reverend Bizarre, whose legacy in their native land isn’t to be understated. Of particular note is that Desert Lord cite The Cult as an influence. One can hear shades of that in the guitars on opener “Forlorn Caravan,” but Desert Lord quickly move into doomier fare on the subsequent nine-minute “Wonderland,” which distinguished by weeded-out wah on Roni‘s bass. Middle-ground is sought and found on “New Dimensions,” with vocalist Sampo Riihimäki reminding of Earthride‘s Dave Sherman in his movement between rougher delivery, spoken word, and accentuated screaming, also hinting at roots in more traditional metal, though “Manic Survivor’s Song” gives way to more stoner territory in the guitar, reminding of some of Eggnogg‘s stylistic turns, though with less of a mind toward tonal thickness. They’re still figuring out where they want to be, but Desert Lord‘s To the Unknown has more than a few moments worth the effort of a listen. Desert Lord on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Space Mushroom Fuzz, Onward, to the Future
Perpetually progressive and perpetually prolific bizarro psych rockers Space Mushroom Fuzz return with another new release, dubbed Onward, to the Future. The Boston outfit, led by Adam Abrams of Blue Aside, include two tracks this time out, “Onward, to the Future,” a laid back space rocker made strange in its midsection with some theremin-style keys, and the waltzing “Half the Way Down,” which shows off some classical guitar work over a subtly oompah backing rhythm with soft, brooding vocals. Is it possible to have a shoegazing waltz? Space Mushroom Fuzz never lack character in they do, Abrams periodically leading the way through jams that could and sometimes do run into indulgent (if satisfying) noodlefests, but particularly with “Half the Way Down,” there’s something more grounded and sadder at the root. “Onward, to the Future” tells a tale of alien invasion — short version: they win — and showcases the band’s exploratory side, but even that ends contemplative and relatively minimal, sort of dropping instruments one at a time by its finish on a long fade. A lesson in taming expectation, perhaps, and a fascinating, quick journey from this inventive outfit. Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Plunger, Space Plumber
All seems to be on a course for weirdo noise punk as Los Angeles bass/drum duo Plunger get underway on their debut Space Plumber EP, some Melvins influence making itself felt on “Toxic Wrap,” and then they rumble and thump their way into the eight-minute centerpiece title-track, and it becomes apparent that there’s much more going on with twin brothers Mark (bass/vocals) and Kris Calabio (drums/vocals, also of Old Man Wizard) than it might at first seem. They quickly put their own minimalism to work for them on the faster opener “Blerg Rush,” but “Space Plumber” moves far off into sparseness, the drums barely there when they are and then gone ahead of the transition into “Sleep,” on which both Mark and Kris contribute vocals over a fuller rumble and steady roll, clearly enjoying the contrast. “Plunger” rounds out the release with a fuller take on some of the faster movement of the opener, starts and stops in the unpretentious 1;53 finale. One gets the feeling the (Super) Calabio Bros. are only going to get stranger from here, and that suits them well. Plunger on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Once again, these are five cool releases, but there were 35 other records that join the playlist today, including full-lengths from Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard, Apostle of Solitude and on and on. A couple of these will be on the year-end list, so if you get the chance to check out The Obelisk Radio playlist and updates page, I think it’s worth a look.
Last month, Indianapolis heavy blues trio The Heavy Company released a three-song show recording, Live at the Vogue, which as you might expect was taped at The Vogue in the band’s hometown. The set — and at three jammed-out tracks, I’m pretty sure it was their full set — was made available as a $2 download with the proceeds going to Small Stone Records, which in August suffered a flood that destroyed its office (you may have seen something about it around here, like at the top of the page for the last month), and while it’s definitely a live show recording, it still shows off the continually progressing chemistry of the three-piece, guitarist/vocalist Ian Gerber, bassist Michael Naish and drummer Jeff Kaleth tearing into classic psych blues jams across “Groove a Mile Wide,” “One Big Drag” and “Smokey Little Number,” none of which check in at under seven minutes long.
I can get down with that. Kaleth recorded and edited the performance, and it is an engaging bit of wandering they get up to throughout. Their new live video for the track “Smokey Little Number,” which closed out at over eight minutes, switches back and forth between a couple cameras to show The Heavy Company on a big stage in languid form, effects tripping out an easy groove that lives up to the song’s name. Unlike “Groove a Mile Wide” and “One Big Drag,” both of which come from The Heavy Company‘s 2013 Midwest Electric full-length (review here), “Smokey Little Number” has yet to appear on a studio outing — it seems also to be newer than the 2014 Uno Dose EP — so if it’s a peak at where the band is headed, it would seem they’re just gonna keep on jamming and find out where it takes them. Again, I can get down with that.