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.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The 2012 outing from Swedish trio, Pike, To Cross the Great Divide, was a varied and atmospheric work of post-metal, successfully avoiding the we’re-gonna-lie-about-what-we-do-in-order-to-trick-you-into-thinking-it’s-not-a-boring-Isis-ripoff methodology of countrymen Cult of Luna by virtue of working in faster tempo shifts and being generally unpretentious about a metallized influence across the album’s five mostly-extended tracks. Call it a High on Fire influence on the grammatically intriguing opener “Rituale Romanum” (is that a ritual of the Romans or to them?) if you want — the band is called Pike, for crying out loud — but there turned out to be much more to the band than one side or the other, and much to the album’s benefit.
They released To Cross the Great Divide as a gatefold digipak CD, nodding at vinyl without taking on the debatably needless expense of actually putting out the record on that format, and while they, like all post-metallers, had their requisite “Stones from the Sky” moment in the aforementioned opening cut, they at least used it as a fleshing out point for further expansion of their sound. Brothers Alex and Alvin Risberg recently welcomed new guitarist Ludwig Lovén to the fold and sent along the following announcement, which also hints at new material in progress:
We would like to officially welcome Ludvig Lovén as our new guitarist!
We are very excited about the future of Pike and where we are heading with this new line-up.
We are currently in the process of rehearsing some of our old material, as well as writing new stuff that will undoubtedly rip your face off.
We have also extended our reach to include the social media platform Instagram. So if you’re into that type of thing, follow us at @pikemusic
Pike: Ludvig Lovén – Guitar Alex Risberg – Bass/Vocals Alvin Risberg – Drums
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Apparently deciding not to heed their own advice to “Keep on Skroggin’,” the Troy, New Hampshire trio announced over the weekend that they were done. Skrogg first got together in 2010, so while their run wasn’t all that long, it was productive, resulting in regional shows, 2011’s Raw Heatdemo (review here), and last year’s debut full-length, Blooze (review here), as well as biker-rally appearances and slots at Stoner Hands of Doom (review here) and, earlier this year, Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 (review here) in Worcester, MA, of which they opened the second day.
The breakup comes as Skrogg were preparing their second full-length, Done a Bad, Bad Thing, which presumably will be shelved, wherever they may have been in progress with it. In February, they released a single called “Wheels, Women and Whiskey” that — in addition to serving as a mission statement for their band ethic overall — furthered the catchy blend of rolling stoner rock grooves and heavy blues that Bloozemade sound so natural and fluid. They played that song at Eye of the Stoned Goat, and jammed out the skeletal riffs of another, and it seemed to me in watching them that they were moving to a more open direction, building on the chemistry between guitarist/vocalist Jeff Maxfield, bassist Jason Lawrence and drummer Felix Starr, who played together smoothly but with more than an air of punkish fuckall while still keeping a mind for hooks and catchier rhythmic bounce.
Foremost, they were a good band, so it’s a bummer to see them go. I don’t know where they were in the process of putting together Done a Bad, Bad Thing, whether they were still writing or had begun or perhaps even finished the recording, but maybe something more than “Wheels, Women and Whiskey” will surface from that album at some point. Skrogg announced their demise thusly:
The end time has come apon us. Skrogg has come to an end. It was a beautiful ride and I wouldnt want it any other way. That is just the way it goes when ya take a trip to outter space with only a few milky ways and a marrs bar. Thanks to those who enjoyed what we did as a band. You all got what you got when you got Skrogged.
And Maxfield further commented:
This breaks my heart. It really does. I love my bandmates and I guess, in the end, all we’re really seeking is our own little niche. Our happiness. Skrogg will go down in the annals of my personal history as the best band I’ve ever had the privilege of being a part of. Enjoy the music. We poured our hearts into it, for you.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I have no argument with Heavy Glow. Dudes clearly have their shit together, believe in what they’re doing and are working hard to get their music in as many ears as possible. Their 2014 album, Pearls and Swine and Everything Fine, is a more than solid slab of well crafted, straightforward songs. The production is a little smoothed out in the QOTSA tradition, but beyond that, there’s really nothing I can think of to ask that they don’t deliver either in terms of catchiness, melody or personality.
But, as any number of bands can tell you, sometimes these things take a while to catch on in a bigger way, so all the better Heavy Glow are getting out to hand-deliver their fuzz to those clued in enough to show up and receive it. They’ll head east and north from Texas starting on Sept. 18, and the PR wire checks in with dates and whathaveyou:
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, Motown-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 North American Tour Dates: September 18 Ft. Worth, TX Lola’s Saloon. September 19 Oklahoma City, OK The Blue Note September 20 Kansas City, MO Mike’s Tavern September 21 Lincoln, NE Duffy’s Tavern September 23 Iowa City, IA Gabe’s Iowa City September 25 Burlington, IA The Washington September 26 Grand Rapids, MI Billy’s Lounge September 27 Cleveland, OH 5 O’ Clock Lounge September 30 Buffalo, NY Mohawk Place October 1 Rochester, NY The Bug Jar October 2 Hamilton, ONT This Ain’t Hollywood October 3 Toronto, ONT The Cavern Bar October 4 Toronto, ONT Duffy’s Tavern October 5 Windsor, ONT The Phog Lounge October 8 Pittsburgh, PA Thunderbird Cafe October 9 Long Branch, NJ The Brighton Bar October 10 New York, NY Piano’s (as part of 2014 CBGB’s Festival) October 11 Philadelphia, PA North Star Bar October 12 Boston, MA The Spot Underground
Live and on stage is where HEAVY GLOW makes its heaviest impression and on the upcoming headlining tour, the group is set to show that its stellar reputation precedes it for a reason. Seeing is believing!
Posted in audiObelisk on September 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I always wanted to be in Lord. Since the days of their 2006 demo, Under the Sign of the Maker’s Mark, the Fredericksburg, Virginia, outfit has been a raging tumult of sludge extremity. Born of the same scene that gave us Valkyrie, VOG, Durga Temple, Ol’ Scratch, Ancient Astronaught and any number of other underrated acts outside the sphere of Richmond’s varied metals and Maryland’s doom yet somehow in line with both, Lord have proved over the years to be the most chaotic, the most turbulent of the pack. On the rare occasion one might see them live, they’re staggering in their intensity, and the sheer fact that they manage to hold it together somehow makes the experience all the more visceral.
The volatility has a price, however. Lord released a full-length debut in 2006’s Built Lord Tough(a play on Ford’s logo appeared on the cover), and that was it until 2011’s riotous Chief(review here), which brought a new lineup and a take more indebted to Southern metal than they had been five years earlier, but was still plenty maddening, vocalist Steven Kerchner adding experimental abrasion by manipulating his screams through a range of effects. Three years after Chief, Lord return with yet another new lineup — you can see why I thought I might’ve had a shot at being in the band — and a brand new four-song EP, Alive in Golgotha, recorded by Vince Burke (Beaten back to Pure/Hail!Hornet) at his own Sniper Studios.
Comprised here of Kerchner, guitarist/vocalist Will Rivera and drummer/bassist Stephen Sullivan — the lineup has already changed again to the four-piece pictured above; Rivera, Kerchner, bassist Chris Dugay (Reticle) and drummer Kevin “Skip” Marrimow (Ol’ Scratch, Palkoski) — Lord are no less a beast than they’ve ever been, the opening cut “We Own the Storms” setting a quick reaffirmation that time has not dulled the band’s edge or tamed their ferocity. Fast, aggressive, almost punk in its rawness, “We Own the Storms” leads to the more decidedly Southern “What You May Call the Devil is Amongst Us,” reminiscent of the last album’s grooving take. “With Reaching Hooves” jumps back and forth between grinding verses and a sludgy chorus, giving a tension/release vibe before moving into a heavy rock shuffle masterfully balanced in Burke‘s mix, and the closing semi-title-track, “Golgotha,” offers the EP’s most lethal groove of the bunch and speaks to the realization of the potential that’s been in Lord‘s chemical imbalance all along.
Lord will reportedly be hitting the studio again next month to record for a split EP with Black Blizzard, so maybe Alive in Golgothawill mark a turning point for the band in terms of activity. If history has shown anything with these guys, though, it’s that you never really know what’s coming next. I’ll never get to be in the band — Kerchner‘s a better screamer than I ever was anyway — but I’m thrilled to host a full stream of Alive in Golgothaahead of the release on Heavy Hound Records. Please find it below, and enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
To keep up with Lord and get more info on Alive in Golgotha, as well as to score a copy, check the links.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was late Friday night when, in their usual fashion, Boston doom experimentalists Ice Dragon posted a link to their new album, Seeds from a Dying Garden, available to stream and download on their Bandcamp. This was surprising at first — not because it’s a new Ice Dragon; they’d said they were working on material and they’ve been almost maddeningly prolific over the last several years — but because it wasn’t free. A $7 download. Quite a jump from their usual “here, take it” name-your-price methodology.
I assumed at first there was something they were raising money to buy. Some piece of ancient and obscure recording or synth equipment, a Moog that George Harrison once looked at in a store or something like that, but nope, apparently they just ran out of free download credits on Bandcamp, which is apparently a thing. I’d never heard of it, but I don’t have a Bandcamp, so there you go. They’ve since lowered the price to a measly buck, and I think once you check out Seeds from a Dying Garden itself, you’ll find it worth the investment.
For their latest and umpteenth outing, Ice Dragon dive deep into classic psychedelic pop rock — as their Beach Boys-esque cover indicates — and emerge with Beatlesian characters like “Mr. Merry Melan Man” and the winking weed puns of “Mary Wants a Sunset” to craft a sound still characteristically their own, shades of doomed march working their way into languid progressions, an abidingly stoned sensibility arriving with the eight-minute dream-out “Your Beauty Measures More.” Front to back, it is a consuming journey into psych-ic expansion, but as ever, Ice Dragon maintain the penchant for songwriting that has made them forerunners among garage doom and the unflinching creative will that sees them so constantly broadening their style.
And while they often toy with biting metal tones and lunkheadedly badass riffing, Seeds from a Dying Gardenfeels more like it’s working to push the boundaries of last year’s Born a Heavy Morning(review here), and it does so even unto its ambient interludes “To Everything that Was” and “To Everything that Might Have Been,” which appear three tracks in and three tracks from the end to draw a linear thread through the album’s widely varied course. No doubt Ice Dragon will tackle their metal side again at some point, but for the boldness with which they approach psychedelia when they choose to do so — their sound also isn’t necessarily limited to one or the other — I tend to find this path even more engaging. The title may hint at some sense of loss or foreboding, but the general mood is more suited to the bright nostalgic wash of the cover photo, though of course if Ice Dragon only did one thing all the time, it just wouldn’t be them.
Seeds from a Dying Gardenis available now for download and follows Ice Dragon‘s July 2014 split with Space Mushroom Fuzz (info here). Check it out on the player below.
It becomes clear pretty quickly that Spain’s VidaGuerrilla have no interest in compromising on their self-released debut tape, Música, No Moda. The cover of said cassette, is a copy of a hand-drawn cartoon, presumably by and of Gaspar Hache Eme, who may or may not be the only person in the band, whose mouth is open to say “Estoy muy cansado de tu opinion,” which translates to: “I am very tired of your review.” Fair enough. I’d take it personally but for the fact that the drawing doesn’t seem to be original — the label on the tape is, handwritten in permanent marker — and the Bandcamp stream has the same art. I don’t know how many copies of Música, No Modaare being pressed, or for how long they’ll be available, but a DIY ethic runs strong in the release, which takes blown out garage punk and thickens the tonality to a point of fuzz overload.
What I like best about Música, No Moda is that there are points — the closer, “El Punk Original,” comes to mind first — at which what VidaGuerrilla does is almost entirely indistinguishable sonically from lo-fi black metal. That track and the tumultuous “Porno” and “Apoya Mi Escena” seem bent on reminding listeners that Venom was a punk band before they were anything else, and the lesson comes well complemented by the classic heavy rock swing of “Draggin'” and the unhinged guitar wankery of leadoff cut “Kaoskosmos.” Distortion is all the more distorted thanks to a rough-edged production value, and Eme‘s snarled vocals only add furor to the already cantankerous aesthetic. It is fairly fashionable, in a particularly anti-fashion kind of way, but fuckall is fuckall, and that of VidaGuerrilla is recognizably genuine.
Most of the songs are short, two minutes or under — “So Gross” is just a belch — and VidaGuerrilla‘s sound is suited to the quicker bursts and fits. Exceptions to the rule arrive with “Zombis del Más Acá” and the penultimate “Caras Bronceadas/Dragged,” both of which top four minutes, and while the former manages to support its weight, the latter meanders somewhat and seems to get caught up in distraction. Fortunately it has “El Punk Original” afterward to provide one last jolt to Música, No Moda, leaving the listeners burnt by what they’ve heard but not burnt out on it. The tape plays out on one side only. All nine tracks fit easily on side A of the home-dubbed copy I got — it had been a while since I last saw a blank tape with the “UR” markings — and there was apparently no need to repeat it on side B. I suppose that plays into the general malaise one gleans from the release overall, but if it’s apathy VidaGuerrilla are looking to portray, he/they show a resonant passion for it as various genre lines are blurred.
Posted in audiObelisk on August 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
“The Mountain Man,” the rhythmically-centered, viciously lumbering finale of Sorxe‘s self-released debut album, Surrounded by Shadows, is led directly into by the title-track, a five-minute alteration of consciousness via ambience, some touches of brooding Neurosis drone emerging amid the Phoenix-based four-piece’s own exploratory sensibility. The pummel that emerges from the drum intro is all the more devastating for the extended break beforehand. As such, before you click play below, take a deep breath.
Sorxe‘s Surrounded by Shadowsdraws on the best elements left from the largely washed out post-metal movement. They tradeoff atmospherics and churning, crushing riffs, vary their approach widely, and toy with structures and builds to create a full-album sensibility that each individual song feeds into. The lineup of bassists Christopher Coons and Roger Williams (the latter a founding member of Graves at Sea), guitarist/vocalist/recording engineer Tanner Crace (also synth) and drummer Shane Ocell made their debut in 2013 with an EP called Realms, and all three of those tracks reappear on Surrounded by Shadows, including the 10-minute “Make it So,” which on the full-length functions as the centerpiece around which the rest of the album swirls, darkly hued and rife with multi-directional aggression.
For having two bassists, the guitar isn’t lost in the mix — one always imagines a consuming wave of low end, as if the extra four strings preclude being able to hear anything else — but when Sorxe lock into a full-brunt weighted stretch, you can feel the impact of that extra heft. Even their quieter reflections seem to have a moody feel, and as Crace layers and alternates his vocals between cleaner singing, growls and screams, the band fluidly transcends the bounds of post-hardcore, doom, sludge and post-metal, while effectively maintaining an identity of their own that never seems content to commit to one or the other. No doubt that’s a big part of what makes Surrounded by Shadowssuch a satisfying front-to-back listen.
But that closer. “The Mountain Man” has its stomp and plod in rounding out the nine-track/55-minute offering, and its initial explosion in chaotic, crushing noise is high among Surrounded by Shadows‘ most satisfying moments, but there’s consciousness at work behind all that bludgeoning. It would be hard for any individual piece to completely sum up everything Sorxe have on offer with their debut, but in providing the album with its apex, “The Mountain Man” also provides a showcase for Sorxe‘s burgeoning dynamic. It is encompassing in its heaviness.
Hope you enjoy:
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Sorxe will release Surrounded by Shadowson Sept. 9 with Bandcamp streams beginning one week before. They’re also slated to appear at this year’s Southwest Terror Fest on Oct. 18 in Tucson, AZ, where they’ll share the stage with Neurosis and The Body. More info at the links below:
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’re saying to yourself, “Golly, didn’t this album already come out, like 10 months ago?,” yeah, it pretty much did. Nashville heavy psych blues four-piece All Them Witches issued Lightning at the Door last November, just kind of tossed it up on Bandcamp and let their burgeoning (that’s not to say “booming,” though that might be more accurate) fanbase have its way with it. CDs were printed up, twice, since then, but basically what makes this new, Sept. 16 date different is that it’s the official release for the vinyl. If you follow them on Thee Facebooks, you may recall they pulled the Bandcamp stream of the album down a couple weeks ago. This was why.
Also hitting the road alongside King Buffalo this week — my plan is to drive to PA to catch the Sherman Theater show; King Dead are also playing — they’ll be on tour with Windhand when the album releases. This weekend, All Them Witches also put out word that their debut European appearances at Keep it Low and Desertfest Belgium and the touring surrounding them are canceled for this fall, presumably to be rescheduled for some point next year.
The PR wire has tour dates and other info:
ALL THEM WITCHES RELEASE LIGHTNING AT THE DOOR ON SEPT. 16
JOIN WINDHAND FOR U.S. TOUR; PLAY NASHVILLE’S LIVE ON THE GREEN
SINGLE “CHARLES WILLIAM” STREAMING NOW VIA SOUNDCLOUD
All Them Witches, the Nashville-based quartet who made waves in underground psych circles when their 2012 debut album Our Mother Electricity received praise from Roadburn and a rerelease via Stefan Koglek’s Electrohasch Records, return with Lightning At The Door, on Sept. 16.
The album’s first single, “Charles Williams,” is already enjoying airplay at WRLT and was featured in the band’s recent Daytrotter session. All Them Witches have made the song available for streaming/embeds via Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/allthemwitchesband/charles-william).
The eight-song album finds the young band’s sound much more evolved, merging their psych-background with the rustic inspiration their stomping grounds afford. A sweaty, Southern rock outing, the band was so inspired during the demo process they recorded Lightning At The Door in mere days. “We tracked everything live in the same room,” explains singer/bass player Michael Parks, Jr. “We got a lot of bleed form the mics and the amps being together. Everything felt organic.”
The album comes as the band is in the midst of an extensive North American tour, with stops at Nashville’s Live on the Green (Aug. 28), the Midpoint Music Festival (Sept. 26 in Cincinnati), Day of the Shred (Nov. 1 in Santa Ana) and also includes a two-week span with Windhand (Sept. 4 to 21).
All Them Witches tour dates:
August 21 New York, NY Mercury Lounge August 22 Philadelphia, PA Milkboy Philly August 23 Stroudsberg, PA Sherman Theater August 24 Richmond, VA Strange Matter August 28 Nashville, TN Live on the Green September 4 Baltimore, MD Ottobar September 5 Pittsburgh, PA 31st Pub September 6 Akron, OH Musica September 7 Columbus, OH The Basement September 9 Iowa City, IA Gabe’s September 10 Chicago, IL Cobra Lounge September 11 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock Social club September 12 Cudahy, WI Metal Grill September 13 Ferndale, MI The Loving Touch September 14 Toronto, ON Coda September 16 Ottawa, ON Café Dekcuf September 17 Montreal, QC Petit Campus September 18 Cambridge, MA The Middle East Upstairs September 19 Providence, RI AS220 September 20 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus September 21 Ithaca, NY The Dock September 26 Cincinnati, OH Midpoint Music Festival November 1 Santa Ana, CA Day of the Shred
All Them Witches is Ben McLeod (guitar), Michael Parks, Jr. (vocals/bass), Robby Staebler (drums) and Allan Van Cleave (Fender Rhodes).
Posted in Reviews on August 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m not sure if I’m going to make “Should’ve Been Sooner” reviews a series or not, but I’m backed up enough on records that I probably could. Either way, after Demon Eye yesterday, it seemed only fitting to follow-up with another long-standing pile dweller, so here goes:
Arizona heavy rock four-piece Powered Wig Machine have the fuzz, they have the riffs, they have the groove, and yet there’s something about them that still seems to be working against expectation. At least the expected expectation. I’ll explain. The Sierra Vista natives make a self-recorded, self-released debut with Supa-Collider, and while its methods are familiar enough — a Clutch-style sway in closing nod-maker “Brain of Hank Pym” and a classic stoner rock toss-off lyric in “Wizard of Orgy” — for actually being near desert if not in it (Sierra Vista seems to be dry, but a mountain town), their sound is much more derived from barroom blues than laid-back Yawning Man-style jams. Supa-Collideris a quick listen at a thoroughly unpretentious seven tracks/33 minutes, the band — guitarist/vocalist Wayne Rudell, guitarist/organist/engineer Brian Gold, guitarist Dusty Hinkle, bassist/backing vocalist Joseph Rudell and drummer Daniel Graves – starting off with a showing of classic heavy rock influence in “At the Helm of Hades,” which reminds of some of the grooves Deep Purple was apt to nestle into at their peak, with Gold‘s organ moving alongside his and Wayne‘s guitars and the bluesy vocals overtop. While it’s among the most resonant of them, “At the Helm of Hades” is hardly all Supa-Colliderhas to offer in terms of hooks, and both the shorter, bouncing “Led Masquerade” and subsequent “Here Come the Freaks” find their moments of distinction, the latter with a shuffle in its midsection that opens up to bigger grooving toward the finish as Graves gives his crash cymbals what for before stepping back into the start-stop progression of the verse.
I’d call the straightforward, un-Kyuss-ness of Supa-Colliderjarring if Powered Wig Machine weren’t so solid in their performance and if the grooves weren’t so inviting. These aren’t dudes looking to change the world, or even to fix what isn’t broken about their genre, but neither should the quality of their output be written off nor should they be considered entirely unoriginal. Wayne comes across as an able frontman and vocalist, and the interplay throughout of guitar and organ — the latter appearing here and there in a flourish, then gone to make way for a solo or some other part — gives a sense of character and arrangement to these songs beyond what would seem to be the standard, “Led Masquerade” jamming itself to a finish as a lead-in for the starts and stops of “Here Come the Freaks,” the fuzz of which is all the beefier for the complement of keys. “Wizard of Orgy” follows, its “time-traveling pervert” chorus serving notice to anyone who might’ve through Powered Wig Machine were in danger of taking themselves too seriously, and “Mother Rocker” and the title-track deliver a one-two punch of heaviness — the latter is probably the band’s most singularly Clutch-derived groove — before the 6:18 “Brain of Hank Pym” rides in like a bluesy cavalry, putting the guitars even more in the lead as the vocals follow along, and encouraging the listener to fall in and do likewise. It’s the brain of Hank Pym — aka Ant-Man — as opposed to the body of John Wilkes Booth, at least going by the construction of the chorus, but as they’ve done throughout, Powered Wig Machine bring a spin of their own to established stylistic parameters. Keeping in mind that Supa-Collideris their debut even though they’ve been around since 2005/2006, it’s hard to ask more of the album than it delivers.
And Supa-Collideris all the more encouraging since not only is it a capable execution, but it’s self-made. Tony Reed mastered, but Gold recorded and mixed, the latter with Joey Rudell, who also designed cover and did the layout for the four-panel digipak pressing. Being self-contained on multiple levels has its ups and downs — see also: booking shows — but according to the liner, Gold built the studio in which Supa-Colliderwas tracked, so to think of them becoming more comfortable in a recording space as they continue to progress in terms of their writing and aesthetic only adds to the potential they show here. What matters most, however, are the songs themselves, and Powered Wig Machine already have the songs working in their favor on their debut.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If we lived in a universe where justice and righteousness reigned, Bloodcow wouldn’t have to come a-knockin’ with a Kickstarter campaign to finish mixing and press their forthcoming fourth album, Crystals and Lasers, because they’d already be millionaires. The riotous, hook-laden, perma-sarcastic DIY outfit began the recording process early in 2012 — the song “Little Chromosome” was streamed here in October of that year — and though I don’t usually like to post crowdfunding-type stuff, my motivation here is the thinking that the sooner they reach their goal, the sooner I can get to hear the album, which is the follow-up to their logic-defying 2007 outing, Bloodcow III: Hail Xenu. Selfish reasons rule the day.
They’ve got some legitimately cool rewards as well, including original art and, if you live close enough to Council Bluffs, Iowa, a house show they’ll come play for you. Lock up the fancy silver and soundproof the living room if that’s the one you go for, but either way, if you giving them money means Crystals and Lasersgets done, then yeah, do that.
Here’s the info and their campaign video:
New Bloodcow Record – “Crystals and Lasers”
The fourth full length release from Bloodcow, ‘Crystals and Lasers’ is their most ambitious to date. One word description? Epic.
How it started.
When we started writing songs for this new album, we talked a lot about how rock music was consumed in the past, how you might sit in a poorly lit room full of smoke with your headphones on and trip out on the music while staring at some cool artwork. That’s how we wanted people to be able to enjoy this record…not only a collection of songs, but our contribution to an experience.
What’s the plan?
To fund the release of Bloodcow’s 4th full length entitled ‘Crystals & Lasers’ on multiple formats including vinyl, cd, and digital download.
Where we are right now.
We were fortunate enough to record at ARC in Omaha, NE with uber engineer Jim Homan and also in the science lair of uber producer Aaron Gum. All the music is in the can (that’s music business lingo) and we have since mixed 3 songs. We have album and CD artwork finished and are coming up with the sticker and T-shirt art as you read this.
What are you funding?
Remainder of mixing with Jim Homan. Mastering at TurtleTone Studio with Mike Fossenkemper. 180 gram Vinyl Records. CD Digipaks. Digital download cards. Stickers Kickstarter only T-shirts. The Kickstarter/Amazon fees that have to be paid in order to run this campaign.
What if the goal is surpassed?
We have ideas in place to record a music video with Aaron Gum involving drag queens in an awesome club setting…and yes that was totally serious.