Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Recently pared down from a four-piece to a trio following the departure guitarist/vocalist Liz Walshak, Boston heavy thrashers Rozamov will set out on an East Coast tour next month, beginning with a show Feb. 15 at Brooklyn’s The Acheron, where they’ll match wits with the mammoth plod of Eggnogg in what I can only imagine is a show that will test the structural integrity not only of that building, but of the sundry warehouse spaces sharing the block with it. Good bill, in other words.
Speaking of, Rozamov will be back up in MA and closer to home in May for Eye of the Stoned Goat 4. Details on that and more follow below, delivered with care down the PR wire:
Rozamov Announces February East Coast Tour Dates, Playing New Material
One of Boston’s most crushing doom exports, Rozamov have announced a run of East Coast tour dates beginning February 15th at The Acheron in Brooklyn, NY. Recently reborn as a more aggressive and pummeling three piece, the band has been hard at work on their most genre-pushing and crushing music yet and will unveil some of the fruits of their labor on this run.
In addition, Rozamov is offering their most recent EP Of Gods and Flesh for free download for a limited time on Bandcamp. Of Gods and Flesh was recorded at Q Division studios in Somerville, MA by AJ Peters (Summoner, Batillus) and self-released this past summer.
FEBRUARY EAST COAST TOUR 2/15- Brooklyn, NY @ The Acheron w/ Godmaker, Eggnog, Crushed 2/16- Washington, DC @ Velvet Lounge w/ The Osedax, Gholas 2/18- Columbia, SC @ Foxfield Bar w/ Darkentries & TBA 2/19- Atlanta, GA @ The Drunken Unicorn w/ Wolves and Jackals, Crawl 2/20- Savannah, GA @ Graveface Records 2/21- Raleigh, NC @ The Maywood w/ Corpse Mountain, Heron, Dreaded 2/22- Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter w/ The Osedax, Thrones of Deceit, Vorator 2/27 – Manchester, NH @ The Shaskeen w/ Vaporizer
5/3-5/4/14- Worcester, MA @ Ralph’s – Eye of The Stoned Goat w/ Order of The Owl, Sixty Watt Shaman, Summoner, Cortez, Phantom Glue + others
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Death might sound angry, but you can’t really say the same for Deaf Proof‘s forthcoming CD EP, which is due out March 1. Death Sounds Angry basks in heavy psych tones, catchy vocal lines and hypnotic repetition, all of which play out to fascinating effect on the 18-minute centerpiece of the three-track release, “Origin of Pain.” The German trio have had a couple demos out to this point, and Death Sounds Angry will be their first offering as a three-piece. They’ve made the whole thing available to stream via Bandcamp (player below), and as you can hear for yourself, the configuration seems to be working for them.
See and hear:
Deaf Proof “Death Sounds Angry” EP to be released in March
“Good things come to those who wait. We finally hold the (digital) end result in our hands: The Death Sounds Angry EP is finally done and will be available in march as download and hard copy (digipak).
We finished recording, mix and mastering a few weeks ago. It took Johannes (Kopfüber) some time to finish the the cover artwork, because he was very busy. But take a look at that piece of work! It’s great, isn’t it? We are completely stoked! We recorded three different songs with three different vibes.
Look out for the EP and our new merch in march! Prelisten at Bandcamp in its entirety!”
Deaf Proof is J. Fredo (v/g), JP (b) and Pedro (d). Deaf Proof plays psychedelic fuzz.
The Band was formed in late 2006 by Pedro (d), Holger (b) and Fredo (v/g), later reinforced by Til (g).
From that point of time they started jamming and working out their ideas. In autumn 2007 the band split up with guitar-player Til who was replaced by Phil. In early 2008 the band decided to substitute Holger and to search for a new bassplayer. But nevertheless Deaf Proof recorded their first demo that was released in April 2008. The bass on the demo was played by Phil. Deaf Proof found the new four stringer Angus in june 2008. In december the band unfortunately had to search for a new bassplayer again and in march 2009 JP joined the gang. Together they recorded a 2-track live-demo in july. The combo recorded the “Beyond the Orange Door Demo” from autumn 2009 till winter 2012 and released it in april 2013. In april Phil also left band, but Deaf Proof continue as three-piece.
Since 2010 the band did some local shows with amongst others Stonewall Noise Orchestra (Swe), Snarf, Basel (Ch) and the Small Stone Artists Abrahma (Fr) and Mother of God (Swe). In 2013 Deaf Proof will expand their live radius over whole germany and further.
Posted in Reviews on January 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Heavy stuff from all over the world. These have all been available for a little bit, and I’ve included audio and links as much as possible. Hope you dig:
The Devil Rides Out, Ugly Creatures EP
Checking in at just the other side of a half-hour, Perth four-piece The Devil Rides Out‘s self-released Ugly Creatures launches with its title-track, which, like the closer “Blood River,” tops seven minutes. There are five-songs total, and they get shorter as you approach the middle from either side, second cut “Empty Sky” and the penultimate “The Righteous Walk” being 5:59 and 5:44, respectively, and centerpiece “Burn Again” running just 4:05. It’s a kind of parabolic listening effect and an interesting structural note on the band’s part, but whatever progressive ideals they may proffer in terms of how the EP is put together, Ugly Creaturesis a rock record and doesn’t attempt to be anything else sonically. The guitars of Andrew Ewing lead the way with Joey K.‘s bluesy, gravelly vocals with some airy flourish in the solos, but the vibe is consistently earthy, and the heft and inventiveness of play in Scott Paterson‘s bass and the consuming wash of Royce Uyen‘s drums keep the proceedings grounded stylistically. It’s a loose, swinging heavy rock that emerges by the time they get to “Burn Again,” if deceptively atmospheric, but The Devil Rides Out in their midpoint introduce a thicker lurch and though Ewing‘s vocals seem to be high in the mix, they offer a commanding presence up front. “Blood River” strikes a better balance in having a somewhat bigger guitar sound and allowing the throaty delivery to cut through, decidedly un-reverbed as it is, and the ending tone of the EP winds up stronger for it. There are more than a few interesting explorations here, and if The Devil Rides Out were looking to delve into new stylistic ground, they’ve set themselves up well in doing so for their next full-length.
It’s somewhat jarring when Italian mostly-instrumental heavy psychedelic four-piece Manthra Dei launch from the languid beginnings of “Stone Face” at the open of their self-titled full-length Acid Cosmonaut Records (vinyl through Nasoni) debut and into more driving space rock, propelled by the keyboard work of Paolo Tognazzi, but it comes to make sense in the progressive sprawl and mounted swirl of the 51-minute album overall. Paolo Vacchelli handles the sole guitar in the foursome, with Branislav Ruzicic on bass and Michele Crepaldi on drums, but throughout, each player gets an opportunity to shine, whether it’s the bass in “Stone Face,” the guitars pushing heavier riffage at the apex of “Xolotl,” the keys adding jazzy melody to a King Crimson-style run in the 17-minute “Blue Phantom” or taking an organ solo on “Urjammer” or the hard-tapping snare punctuating the fervent groove of “Legendary Lamb.” Vocals show up in that last cut, handled by Crepaldi, and with as natural as he sounds amid the instrumental complexity surrounding, I’m not sure what would keep Manthra Dei from employing them more often, but this is a first release, and the band are making pretty clear efforts to hammer out their style, so with as much as is going on and as many parts as a given track has, there’s not a lot of room as they flow from one to the next for verses and choruses. Still, Manthra Dei‘s Manthra Deiis engaging, holding attention even through the aforementioned 17-minute monster and on through the acoustic epilogue that reprises “Stone Face” in a much humbler form. They’re feeling their way, but the push they’ve concocted on their first outing is both exciting and impressively held together, melding progressive flow, space rock rhythms and a psychedelic tendency toward open structures.
Gruff four-piece Ol’ Time Moonshine hail from the humid backwoods Southern bogs of… Toronto? Okay, so maybe the “Southern” we’re talking about is Southern Ontario, the Down-style chug-and-stomp these dudes get up to on their self-released The Demon Haunted World EP is whiskey by any other name. The seven-tracker finds the two, sometimes-three guitar outfit with a distinctly riffy push, not afraid to get big and angry in the second half of “March of the Trees” or turn things on their head with a little High on Fire gallop on the subsequent “Jazz Cigarettes.” They make little bones about their predilections or tastes in “There be Dragons,” “Jazz Cigarettes” or “This Black Hole is a Demon Rift,” but the ride is enjoyably varied nonetheless, with vocalist Bill Kole showing a range beyond that of the typical post-Anselmo “whoa yeah momma” drawl, getting into sludgier fare when called upon by his own and Chris Coleiro‘s riffing. On instrumental opener “There be Dragons,” “Seven Deadly Suns” and the swayingly grooved “She Dances in Graveyards,” Ol’ Time Moonshine brings in Chris Kendrick of Galaxies in the River for distinct solos, but even elsewhere, Ol’ Time Moonshine show no trouble in offering sonic variety across these tracks. Kole, who also did the jewel-case layout and recorded the guitars and vocals while Ronald Roy of Threshold Sound did Kyle Marnoch‘s bass and Brett Savory‘s drums, seems to be in the lead role, but the band offer a full, active presence throughout, and show themselves to be more than capable songwriters in making something of their own out of familiar genre elements. At just under half an hour, The Demon Haunted Worldpacks enough dirt and grit to be called a full-length, and particularly for being the band’s debut, hits hard enough to leave a mark.
With their artwork in homage to KISS‘ Love Gun, Ohio-based Robot Lords of Tokyo proffer pro-rocking burl of the sort that Brand New Sin pounded out over a decade ago on their self-released third full-length, Virtue and Vice, and while that doesn’t necessarily say much about the originality of the influences under which they’re working on the follow-up to 2008′s Whiskey, Blood and Napalm(review here), the songwriting at the heart of cuts like “Great Escape,” the swaggering “Hate’s Eternal Spring” and the dudely stomp of “Chicken Little” distinguish the metal-infused core of Rick Ritzler (drums, backing vocals) and Paul Jones (vocals), collaborating bassist Joe Viers (who also recorded and mixed, played some guitar and did backing vocals) and Beau Vanbibber (rhythm and acoustic guitar, lead and backing vocals) as they bring in a host of guest guitarists, from Tracy G. to Chris Poland to Terry Adams and Wayne Findlay. One might think that an album with no fewer than 12 players appearing throughout would sound uneven, but Robot Lords of Tokyo actually hold it together pretty well — doing themselves a service by keeping the songs straightforward and mostly upbeat — even finding room to cover Cinderella‘s “Night Songs” in the second half. Rounding out with the nine-minute build of “Through Perdition’s Flames,” their testosterone-powered motor rock seems to delight in how over the top it gets, but still represents a kind of lost commercial viability for heavy rock in general, as though beamed in from an alternate time and space in which Robot Lords of Tokyo are the rockstars they sound like, instead of self-releasing quality albums so dickhead reviewers like me can me months behind on reviewing them. There are times where Virtue and Vicecomes on strong, but at its core it’s professional work.
Taking their moniker from the lead character in the cult-classic action movie The Final Sacrifice (also one of the best Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes of the Mike Nelson era), St. Louis heavy blues rockers Rowsdower emerge in making their Dead Grooves Records debut on a split full-length with fellow Missourians Send the Mistress. The latter act appear second and have a much more metalcore-derived sound — i.e. there are breakdowns and mixed screaming and clean vocals — but the five-piece Rowsdower bring together blues-swinging heavy riffs and Facelift-style vocals, hitting on a sonic niche that Salt Lake City’s Dwellers made their own on their first album. “Monday Morning Space Invaders” is bar-ready, even if the hook isn’t as strong as the opening “Acid Healer,” but the tone is set quickly, and with considerable bounce in their step, Rowsdower show promise throughout their four included tracks, notable for their comfort at a middle pace and for the easy mesh of classic heavy rock and distinct ’90s stylization, which shows up not only in the vocals, but in the snare drum sound as well. It’s an enticing affair ultimately, and as much as it’s Rowsdower‘s name that got my attention, the boozy debauchery of “Redemption Denied” and the Mastodon-style riffing that hits in the second half of “Victor’s Waltz” make it plain that there’s more to Rowsdower than there might at first seem. Not sure how they got paired with Send the Mistress, but I imagine there was alcohol involved one way or another. The second act’s three cuts, “Tired Limbs Energetic,” “A Magnificent Feast” and “Medusa’s New Do” are crunchier-toned all around, but there are heavy rock roots in there, even if they take them someplace else, genre-wise. Sometimes geography makes for strange bedfellows.
Posted in Radio on January 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s entirely possible that UK four-piece Grey Widow‘s fucked-up barrage of monstrous tones and vicious screams will make you feel right at home. Seems like every time I post about a band who make a point of being abusively heavy, someone has to step up and say, “Well I don’t think they’re that abusively heavy.” If that’s you, then congratulations ahead of time on working on a different standard than the rest of the universe, because the way I see it, Grey Widow are maddeningly extreme in their approach, and whether it’s the slow oozing riffs of “I” — which I’d call the title-track of their self-released full-length debut, I, but for the fact that all the other songs follow suit in Roman numeral fashion — or unbridled snare-count-in black metal pummel of “IV,” they’re bound to be a test of sonic endurance which many listeners won’t pass. No doubt that’s the point. Weed ‘em out quick and then kick the living shit out of the rest. Grey Widow seem to have a pretty solid idea of what they’re doing on these eight songs.
But for a few cleaner shouts on “II” or in the punkish second half of “VII,” vocals stick to growls and screams. Those aware that Grey Widow boasts former Dopefight guitarist Owen Carty (also members of The Ergon Carousel, Thread and Parole) won’t have to strain to hear some of that band’s sludgy take, but Grey Widow are a different entity almost entirely, darker in there atmospheres and more metallic in their brutality. There’s plenty of groove in “III,” in the chaos-build of “V,” and in the consuming end section that begins with “VI” and runs through “VIII” — comprising about 25 of the album’s total 56 minutes — but nothing so stoner on display here, nor does Iwant for it, its tidal tonality captured by Slabdragger guitarist Sam Thredder late in 2013 at The Cro’s Nest Studio. Rather, Grey Widow commence and carry through an assault of their own, easing the listener into their sundry terrors the way one imagines being tossed off a cliff as “easing.” The Roman numeral titles only make the album more obscure and hard to get a bearing on, but this also seems to be on purpose, the band’s focus not at all on meeting halfway or making overtures toward accessibility.
In the fertile UK heavy underground, Grey Widow‘s debut positions them well on the more extreme end of the scene, and while that will invariably alienate some who might attempt to take on I‘s violent cycle, no doubt just as many other heads will turn in their direction precisely because they’re so unyielding. Particularly as I approaches its finish in the last three tracks, coming to a grisly, excruciating culmination on “VIII,” Grey Widow‘s approach feels terrifyingly solid for being the band’s first time out, and they’ve set themselves up to affect any number of atrocities they might choose in the wake of the genre-spanning cruelties unleashed here. You wanna have the heaviest, most extreme taste in the room? Okay. Meet Grey Widow and prepare to be outclassed.
Listen to Inow as part of the 24/7 streaming rotation on The Obelisk Radio and grab a sample of Grey Widow‘s disturbing wares via the player below, snagged from their Bandcamp page.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Having started their career under the dubious-if-memorable moniker Satellite Beaver – their 2012 EP, The Last Bow(review here), followed 2009′s full-length debut, Trip Outside Your Mind(review here) — the Warsaw four-piece recently announced a change of banner in order to more closely match their sonic evolution. Thus, Sunnata emerge, with a self-released LP called Climbing the Colossus ready for release in March 2014. Same band, much less silly name, and with a sound that continues to grow.
As evidence of that, Sunnata offer up the darkly-fuzzed “Asteroid” as the first audio to be heard from Climbing the Colossus. Find it courtesy of Sunnata’s Bandcamp page following the PR wire info below:
SUNNATA premiere brandnew track + reveal album release date — New record coming out March 2014!
Founded in 2008 as formerly Satellite Beaver, Warsaw doomsters Sunnata have just revealed a brandnew track from their upcoming full length album “Climbing The Colossus”, which will be finally coming out on March 24th 2014!
As Satellite Beaver, the band released three EPs and played some of the biggest central and eastern-european stoner festivals, including Desertfest Berlin, Days Of The Ceremony (PL) or Robustfest (UA), and shared the stages with acts such as Sungrazer, Karma To Burn or Suma.
After changing their bandname in the beginning of 2014 and moving into a heavier direction, Sunnata have just premiered a first single called “Asteroid”, which you can check out for free on their Bandcamp now and get an exclusive first taste of their upcoming, hotly anticipated album:
“Many things have changed since our start in 2008. After three short-length releases and numerous shows we all (finally) agreed to make a step closer to become premium pop-stars. However, the new band name doesn’t imply any line-up or make-up changes. It simply suits our approach to the music, which has become way heavier and trippy in comparison to what we played back in 2008. So here it is. SUNNATA is a soundscape, where noise crossfades clearness –where walls of fuzz, delay and reverb confront the monolith of absolute silence.” explains the band. “We´re excited to finally unveil a first taste of our new sound!”
“Climbing The Colossus” – The new album by Sunnata will be coming out March 24th 2014 - For fans of finest doom, sludge, stoner rock, fuzz trips & heavy riffs!
Newcomer Houston trio Funeral Horse only pressed 100 copies of their debut tape, Savage Audio Demon — its title seeking to describe a deceptively wide stylistic range in classic demo fashion — but from what I understand, at the time of this post a few still remain for sale. The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Paul Bearer, bassist Jayson Adams, and drummer Kevan Harrison (apparently since replaced by Chris Larmour) formed in 2013, and sure enough, Savage Audio Demon has a feeling-it-out kind of vibe across its six songs presented three-each on two sides, but both within the tracks and in the presentation of the cassette, which is professionally dubbed clear red plastic and packed with a six-panel (the inside is blank) glossy J-card containing the art, tracklisting, thanks list and links (not that you can click a piece of paper, but it’s good to know anyway), they make it clear that they have some idea of what they want to do as a band, whether it’s the Om-style drone-infused meditation of opener “The Fedayeen” or the stripped-down punk ragers “Crushed under Shame and Misery” and “Invisible Hand of Revenge.”
The Melvins come up as an influence at several points throughout Savage Audio Demon, most notably on side two’s “Wings Ripped Apart,” but though the recording is raw and the vocals on the punkier songs coming across somewhat dry — obviously not on the megaphoned verses of “Funeral Horse” — what stands out most about Funeral Horse‘s debut is that they seem not only aware of the influences under which they’re working, aural and perhaps chemical, but actively striving to craft something of their own from them. At the start of side two, “Scatter My Ashes along the Mississippi” provides a steady Southern heavy bounce that serves as the bed for the highlight of the tape, gradually fading in over the course of a vaguely cultish first verse before speeding up to a more aggressive second half. A chop in the guitar line toward the end of that song feeds the warts-and-all feel of the recording, but they tie it up nicely with a return to the initial riff, leaving the leadoff cut as the real mystery of the release. Probably it could’ve closed just as easily as it opens (immediate points for starting off with the longest song; always a bold move), but it’s the background drone, the Cisneros-style vocals and the meditative spirit — though actually the breaks in the central progression remind most of Orange Goblin‘s “Cities of Frost” — that ultimately distinguish it from everything else on the tape.
Particularly because it arrives first, it throws the listener off guard when they shoot into the faster, more garage-sounding “Crushed under Shame and Misery,” but it’s easy to figure that was the idea in the first place. And while “The Fedayeen” is somewhat incongruous with the rest of what follows, it serves its purpose as as the opener in establishing an expectation that Funeral Horse can immediately and effectively work against. Call it trickery if you want, it’s hard to argue with the results, and in the end, it’s “The Fedayeen” that makes me the most curious about where Funeral Horse might go stylistically after Savage Audio Demon and in what direction their sound might continue to develop, or if the sides of their personality will cohere into something else entirely. It’s a common-enough experience in listening to bands getting their feet wet, but nonetheless true about what the trio accomplish on their first tape that it’s an enticing prospect to see how the progression might play out across their blend of punk, heavy rock and doomed riffing.
Posted in Reviews on January 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
There are touches of heavy psychedelia here and there in the interplay of guitarists Piotr Wyroslaw “Wyro” Dobry and Bartek “Bando” Dobry, and pieces throughout offer flourish of varying ambiences, but in the end, I don’t think you call your band Weedpecker unless you’re existentially prepared to have someone call you stoner rock, so let’s go with that. Weedpecker play stoner rock. It’s an accurate if somewhat simplified take on what the Warsaw-based foursome proffer on their 2013 self-titled debut, self-released in a pro-pressed jewel case by the band and featuring six tracks set in a fascinating back and forth of instrumental and vocalized material. The album checks in at just under forty minutes, and whether they’re basking wholeheartedly in latter-day Electric Wizardry, as on the penultimate “Sativa Landscapes” or marching with marked complexity past the nine-minute mark on the sans-vocal “Don’t Trust Your Elephant,” the Dobrys, bassist Jeso Ansolo (ex-Antigama) and drummer Pan Falon manage to hone a distinct character in their sound that, despite the pot leaf iconography of the disc’s artwork, relies surprisingly little on its riffs to carry it.
Not to say the riffs aren’t an essential factor, just that they’re not the be-all-end-all of Weedpecker‘s songwriting process. “Don’t Trust Your Elephant” unfolds following opener “Berenjena Pipe” and “Mindbreath,” which show off a propensity for vocal harmonies from Wyro and Bando, and while I’m not sure if I could do such a thing I’d ever write a song in which I didn’t, ultimately, Weedpeckeris a stronger album for their propensity not to rely solely on this either. It plays vocal songs and instrumentals off each other as follows: Two with vocals, two without, one with, one without. In this way, “Berenjena Pipe,” “Mindbreath,” “Don’t Trust Your Elephant,” “Kraken,” “Sativa Landscapes” and “Weedfields (Ft. Cheesy Dude)” wind up leading the listener through atmospheres alternately dense and sprawling, capping with dreamy effects echoes that build to crunching riffage only after what feels like a palpably exploratory outing. ”Mindbreath” offers some winding lines that seem to nod at Elder while keeping a distinctly European flair, made all the more distinguished by the vocal harmonies, which though presented somewhat raw in the mix are nonetheless well done, seeming to build on what the opener set as the tone for the record.
Posted in On Wax on January 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
With the acknowledgement that not everyone who reads this post is going to immediately hit up The Ravenna Arsenal‘s Bandcamp page and plunk down $14 for a copy of I — which they present in limited-to-300 transparent red 180g vinyl with art by Chris Smith — let me kindly suggest that if you’re at all interested in getting a feel for what the Ohio four-piece do on their 2013 debut full-length, the thing to do is start by tossing them a couple bucks, grabbing one of the downloads of the album, and arranging the tracklisting in the order which they have it on the LP version. That’s not to discount the value of “Ammunation,” “Knights,” “The Pregnant Void” or “The Sun,” but it’s a completely different record with or without them, and that’s true both in the substance of its runtime (57 minutes with, 31 without) and in the flow from song to song. On wax, The Ravenna Arsenal‘s I is a crisp execution of progressive heavy rock that leaves the listener wanting more. In its nine-track digital entirety, it’s more complex and working with a broader sonic range, but also less efficient in establishing its emotional and sonic course.
From there, if you hear the neo-stoner metal crush of “Ultra Heavy” and how well “The Water that Covers the Sky” beefs up its Rush influence en route to the album’s apex and decide you want to hear more from the band, well, the other tracks are right there waiting for you. Seems unlikely that a single LP was The Ravenna Arsenal‘s preferred method of releasing — production costs can be a killer — but if they’d presented Iwith all nine cuts, it’s entirely likely that a double 12″ would’ve had trouble building a flow, because basically you’d be changing a side or record after every second song. The compromise pays dividends on the Ivinyl as it is. Side A gives you a sense of the dynamic in the lineup of Ken Royer, Aaron Shay, Mike Shea, and Bill Govan and a breadth that runs from post-Mastodon lumber to a more modern alt-rock vocal style, combining them to a chugging degree in the rolling groove of “Fire Moth.” An album highlight arrives at the start of side B with the 10-minute “The Desert Shows No Mercy,” which actually arrives third in the digital version but is more effectively placed fourth on the vinyl, letting the listener more directly focus on not only I‘s longest inclusion, but also its greatest sonic achievement and most engaging sprawl, growls and slow, sludgy crush giving way to post-rock psychedelics that in turn move fluidly through a proggy build as patient as it is hypnotic.
And granted, when they get heavy again, there’s no doubt what’s coming, but the destination satisfies as much as the journey. The awaited, albeit temporary, return of vocals marks arrival at I‘s summit, and gradually The Ravenna Arsenal push downward from it, noisy, feeding back, but clearly in the finishing throes, afterthought guitar reminding of some of the heft of what preceded and what closer “The Water that Covers the Sky” must then emerge from. Placed last on the digital version as on the vinyl — though there are five tracks between “The Desert Shows No Mercy” and it digitally — “The Water that Covers the Sky” is less interested in reviving the crushing tonality of the song before than broadening the emotional range, which ultimately serves not only Ias it appears on record, but the other songs as well, giving them a wider context in which to fit among the five appearing on the platter. Its subdued course is deceptively quick at over seven minutes, and ultimately manifests as a different vision of the patience The Ravenna Arsenal display on “The Desert Shows No Mercy,” their ethic allowing them to take the time to make their point properly without overdoing it on the indulgent end.
On vinyl, the limits of the production come out somewhat. The band sounds full and clear and loud, but there’s a tinny flourish on the snare in “Fire Moth” that, while I’ll take it over whatever digital sample might have replaced it, cuts through the surrounding tones perhaps more than was intended in the mixing. Minor issue in the grand scheme of the album — and the album indeed is a grand scheme — and far more prevalent is the sense that The Ravenna Arsenal will take the lessons of crafting their first outing and be able to progress with their next. A band who starts with this kind of scope rarely has any interest in repeating themselves, so I’d expect a subsequent offering to come with a personality and context of its own whatever elements present here might remain and be refined, but I makes a resounding introduction and a record I have the feeling I’m going to be even gladder to have down the line.
Posted in Reviews on January 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m not entirely sure what Baltimore riff-rocking four-piece Foghound are referring to with the title Quick, Dirty and Highfor their late-2013 self-released debut. If it’s meant as a reference to the songs themselves, it’s not entirely accurate. They’re plenty dirty, and stoned enough to earn a Fu Manchu comparison in their fuzz, but the newcomer outfit don’t seem to be in any particular rush. “Get in My Van” builds to a fairly raucous conclusion with some double-time snare hits and there are other parts throughout that speed things up as well, but all told Quick, Dirty and Highclocks in at nine tracks/46 minutes and most of it resides at a comfortable-seeming mid-paced roll, straightforward both in its intent and presentation, captured by producer Frank “The Punisher” Marchand. Variety comes into play throughout the grower hooks of “Resurrect the Throwaways,” “Long after I Die,” “Slip Away” and “Get in My Van” (which, one assumes, is a boogie van) through the vocal arrangements, which find guitarist Bob Sipes mostly in the lead role, but readily backed by fellow six-stringer Dee Settar, who also comes to the fore on “Dragon Tooth,” bassist Geoffrey Freeman IV and drummer Chuckrock Dukehart III, all four contributing throughout the songs at various points. The effect that has is to change things up, and though the underlying structures of some of the material might be similar, each cut manages to showcase a personality of its own, which is harder than it sounds and all the more so on what remains a mostly straightforward album.
Chalk that up to the strength of the songwriting, which is really what Foghound have most working in their favor. The riffs are choice across opener “Easy Come, Easy Go” — the ride cymbal start of which had me flashing immediately to Clutch‘s “Earth Rocker” — and down through moodier, doomier closer “Buried at Sea,” if familiar in their purpose, and what brings the best results on Quick, Dirty and Highis when all four players are headed to the same place. “Easy Come, Easy Go” would seem to be of the Orange Goblin, “Some You Win, Some You Lose,” school of stoner rock fuck-it attitude, but the riff is pure late ’90s Fu Manchu. That comes up again on “Gotta Go” (not a Roadsaw cover), but “Resurrect the Throwaways” leaves a more individual impression, if somewhat vaguer in its lyric. There’s a swaggering sensibility in the riffing of Sipes and Settar, and both Freeman and Dukehart prove essential to carrying the groove beneath the wah leads that bridge the verse hook, percussion and backing vocals resting low in the mix but present enough to be felt. Somewhat morbid in its immediate, “Long after I Die” follows “Resurrect the Throwaways” with likewise infectiousness and guest vocals from Dan Soren of Sixty Watt Shaman fame that veer into rougher, almost growling territory. It’s unexpected, but it works in the song, which is the longest on the Quick, Dirty and High at 7:42 and further distinguished by a mostly-instrumental jam that fluidly executes loud/quiet changes and hits its stride around the 5:30 mark with a sense of unhinged Sabbath-ness that does quick justice to Church of Misery. Yes, that’s a compliment.
Indiana-based riffers The Heavy Co. have a new live EP in the works. Cleverly-titled The Uno Dose, it’ll be the trio’s second live outing behind their 2012 digital release, Live at Lafayette Brewing Company. To mark the occasion of the coming release, the wheres and whens of the recording for which are still something of a mystery, not to mention who’s playing bass on it, they’ve put together a video for the song “What’s Eating Harry Lee?” as the first glimpse at the set.
Near as I can tell from the clip, The Heavy Co.‘s approach to semi-psych laid back grooving is well intact from their 2013 debut full-length, Midwest Electric(review here). The song continues their unassuming sensibility in a restrained but still moving nod, guitarist/vocalist Ian Gerber‘s voice hinting at classic heavy rock swagger over the mid-paced push. They’re an easy band to listen to for heavy rock heads, but as the album had a deceptive stylistic breadth to it, I’d be surprised if “What’s Eating Harry Lee?” tells the full story of The Uno Dose upon the EP’s March 1 arrival.
Until then, here’s the video and some info about it, the EP and where it was recorded:
The Heavy Co., “What’s Eating Harry Lee?” video
Here’s the first look at our video project that we’ve been working on. On top of that, it’s a completely new song.
Here’s the first glimpse of our upcoming live EP, entitled “The Uno Dose EP”, due out March 1, 2014.
You know that line from ‘The Humboldt County Waltz’ that says ‘The one thing in life that I really need is a stash like Willie’s and some room to breath”?
Yeah? Well, Hooker Corner is one of those places and we are VERY thankful to Mark and Autumn for putting us up and helping us do this.
Recorded live at Hooker Corner by Mark McGregor Mixed by Jeff Kaleth Video editing by Ian Gerber
Not to be confused with British pop-hardcore act We are the Ocean, the Massachusetts-based instrumental four-piece We are Oceans make their debut with the lush post-rock of their self-titled cassette. Released by Staring at the Ceiling and comprised of two tracks on each side — “Roots Grow Down” and “Step” on side one, “Mmmyellow” and “Leaves Like Stained Glass” on side two — the tape more or less represents the beginnings of the band. A demo, in other words, but a well-put-together one, if that. The recording is natural and exploratory feeling, particularly on some of the quicker, jazzier stretches of “Step,” and the presentation of the artwork on the j-card, the tape itself and the extra artwork card included — a contrasting color scheme, the back reads, “Breath Like Woodsmoke” — and for a first studio adventure from a younger group, the material sounds well balanced, immersive front to back and rife with movement throughout.
We are Oceans – the foursome of guitarists Justin Richner and Derek Gilbert, bassist Nick Pagan and drummer Bryan Counter — had released We are Oceanswithin a week of putting it to tape at The Piano Mill with Jared Mann over the course of July 18 and 19, 2012, and some of the parts that come together to make up the four extended cuts show similar anxiousness. “Roots Grow Down” might be their most psychedelic and patient soundscape here, and though “Mmmyellow” is clearly going for a different vibe and particularly in Pagan‘s tone provides a listen no less satisfying, the feeling persists that as they continue to grow as a band, what sounds jagged now in the side two opener will smooth out. That’s not to say quiet down. With a 10-minute sprawl and break to silence halfway through to start the build from scratch, We are Oceans would have plenty of time for raucousness either way. The impression that “Mmmyellow” leaves is that over time, how they get from point A to point B sonically may well become more fluid.
That feeling stays consistent in “Leaves Like Stained Glass,” which hypnotizes on a steady melodic flow initially only to jump back and forth between louder and quieter parts over its 12 minutes. The closer bodes exceptionally well for future growth for its use of repetition and if We are Oceans‘ strength is to be in longer-form songwriting, then so be it. Ebbs and flows satisfy as the song marches its way toward its and the tape’s end, and they cap with slow-fading feedback that recalls some of the dreamy lushness of “Roots Grow Down,” giving a bit of symmetry before the flip back to side one. However they might evolve in terms of their creative processes, We are Oceanshas enough substance as it is to evoke a range of moods, and as their first outing, establishes a worthy pursuit.
Posted in Radio on December 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
One thing about Wisconsin progressive doomers Sleestak: You never quite know what they’re going to do next. This minute, they’re putting out a pro-studio EP like earlier 2013′s Book of Hours(review here) and the next they’re giving a behind-the-scenes insight into their processes with something like last year’s Altrusian Mooncollection of rehearsal recordings that followed their 2011 full-length, The Fall of Altrusia(review here). To their credit, they’re both prolific in their output and varied in what they issue, sonically and methodologically, and their latest outing, Live at the Cactus Club, is no different. Released just yesterday as a post-Xmas holiday special and made available for a pay-what-you-want download through the Milwaukee outfit’s Bandcamp, the four-track offering checks in at well over two hours of material.
Included in the download — in addition to the cover, of course — are two complete shows from the titular venue in the Bay View section of Milwaukee. The first took place Oct. 4, 2013, and the second Nov. 15. There are two audio sources for the Oct. 4 show, which makes the release even more fascinating, and the whole thing is rounded out with a 33-minute rehearsal-space recording from early in September. Four tracks, all over half an hour long. While one might think that’d put Live at the Cactus Clubright into not-for-the-faint-of-heart territory, the psychedelic explorations they get up to in the Oct. 4 show and the natural vibe that persists throughout make it such that Sleestak even at their heaviest are hypnotic in their psychedelia. Guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Matt Schmitz gets into some growling after the ultra-patient build that starts the set, but even then, it’s easy to get lost in the track, and the whole thing unfolds so naturally that before you know it, they’ve heavy-jammed their way past the 30-minute mark, ebbing and flowing, staying mostly instrumental, but never losing a sense of progression.
The second audio source of the Oct. 4 show has crowd noise, which probably means it’s an audience recording and not the direct feed from the soundboard, but it’s interesting to hear the differences between them anyway, and though the Nov. 15 show at the Cactus Club was nearly five minutes shorter, it follows a similar instrumental flow. I don’t know if the difference in timing means the parts are improvised on or at least stretched out and random, but the jam is no less immersive a month later as it’s presented here. In its heavier parts, the rehearsal room version of the same material comes across as a little blown out, but that’s bound to happen with that kind of thing, and in any case, it’s up there with the soundboard source of the Oct. 4 show in being the best presentation of the work itself, whether it’s all intended to be one song or smaller individual pieces just put together here for the ease of being released as a whole. If you told me it was one 30-plus-minute song, I wouldn’t argue there was anything to stop it from being one, since the smoothness of the transitions and the ease with which Sleestak execute it are such that it works well on that level. I might, however, ask what it’s called.
Presumably these things will be revealed in due time, and until then, to have four probably-formative versions here on Live at the Cactus Clubfollows suit with Altrusian Moonin giving some transparency to the creativity at work within the band’s songwriting. I won’t dare predict where Sleestak might be headed after this, but it seems likely we haven’t heard the last of this jam.
Check out Sleestak‘s Live at the Cactus Club now as part of the 24/7 streaming rotation of The Obelisk Radio and get a sampling from the Bandcamp player below:
Posted in Reviews on December 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The peaceful character that permeates Virginian folk/alt. country outfit The Loomis Fargo Gang‘s second self-released album is immediate in the unassuming digipak of the CD itself. No plastic tray houses the disc, just a nub to perch it, and soft photos credited to Iva Nash appear on the front and back cover and with the lyric notes. Names are given — the band is listed as Michael Bosler, Winky Nash, Michael Pilapil, Matthew Michels and Brad Martin — and the band as a whole is credited with writing, recording, mixing and mastering The Prettiest Shade of Blue, but no individual roles are noted; i.e., who plays the loosely-strummed acoustic guitar on “She Will be Mine” or adds pedal steel to the lightly rambling “Hazy, Lazy, Blue.” If The Prettiest Shade of Blue, which follows The Loomis Fargo Gang‘s 2008 debut, Humans, Nature and Human Nature, is meant to be taken as a whole, with focus not on the specifics of where each element is coming from, but rather the overarching effect those elements have when used in combination, the eight songs themselves are certainly amenable to that. Totaling just under half an hour, The Prettiest Shade of Blueis as friendly a listen as one could ask, and while its sense of twang will probably put off some listeners, particularly in longer songs like opener “Seventeen White Azaleas” and the aforementioned “She Will be Mine” (tied for the longest at 5:20; partial points), which acts as an opener for what would be side B of an evenly-split vinyl, have room for greater depth of mood, and variety in vocal styles if not vocalists and instrumental arrangements makes The Prettiest Shade of Bluea quick but endearing listen that straddles several genre lines.
In terms of folk, pick a Guthrie and you’ll probably be able to pinpoint somewhere on the album the influence appears, but of course The Loomis Fargo Gang have a much richer sound overall than a solo singer-songwriter would, and that shows itself in the variety throughout. “Seventeen White Azaleas” sets the tone in being based around acoustic guitar, but its far-back, echoing shoegaze vocals are a standout, and the flourish of piano gives another component to the space created. To contrast, the rest of the first half of The Prettiest Shade of Blueis comparatively lighthearted. It’s entirely possible that “Trampoline”‘s chorus and title were inspired by the bounce of the music itself, and the key work, plucked strings, later electric guitar solo and loose vocal harmonies further its natural warmth, “Hazy, Lazy, Blue” following suit with multiple voices and a fuller arrangement still very much in a traditional style. Quiet drums and a light bass rhythm give it a toe-tap readiness, and while “Birds” has a more distinct solo feel to start, as its quick 90 seconds unfold it comes to play no worse with others. The divide between sides is clear particularly looking at the runtimes of the songs, with “She Will be Mine” matching “Seventeen White Azaleas,” but the feel of the songs follows suit as well, though where “Trampoline” and “Hazy, Lazy, Blue” meandered into a kind of pastoral traditionalism, “Tootsie in the Breeze” and “Sugar Cane” veer more toward quiet indie; the former of the two particularly sounds like it’s waiting for Wes Anderson to transpose its wistful nostalgia onto a closeup of some determined adolescent. As a group, The Loomis Fargo Gang are just as able to work in one sonic feel as the other.
Posted in Reviews on December 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s with a dark, brooding and at times extreme take on (e)visceral sludge that Australian five-piece Clagg return on their fourth full-length, Gather Your Beasts. The two-guitar/standalone-vocal outfit were last heard from with 2009′s Lord of the Deep (review here), which saw reissue in 2011 on Obsidian Records. Gather Your Beasts is self-released, but that’s not to say a similar fate doesn’t await it, because if anything, it’s Clagg‘s most realized outing yet, casting off some (not all) of the heavy rock sway in their riffs in favor of focusing on bleaker and tighter-feeling material. Guitarists Anthony Viccars and Dav Byrne lead the charge, with bassist Dase Beard and drummer Tim Byrne marking the progress of their lurching plod with some sizable footprints. Dase and Dav are new as of this collection, but if there’s an even bigger difference to be heard between Gather Your Beasts and Clagg‘s prior output, it’s in Scott Williams‘ vocals.
Tonally, the five mostly-extended tracks of Gather Your Beasts– the longest is opener “Five Curses” (immediate points) at 11:22 and the shortest is closer “Pathways to Oblivion” at 6:30 — are rife with cavernous echo, and where the last time out, Williams was charged with cutting through and dominating the rumble, right from the start of “Five Curses” he comes on buried, overwhelmed by the tidal riffs, carried out with them on undulating groove. The effect is to give the impression of even greater tonal largesse, and it works well, somewhere along the lines of an unritualistic Ramesses, less candlelit-ceremony and more burn-the-fucking-house-down. Neither feedback nor eardrums are spared throughout, “Five Curses” (the title maybe a reference to the five band members or to the album’s five tracks or both) unfolding to a rolling riff not without a sense of bounce punctuated by Tim‘s snare, as Williams unfurls tradeoffs of lower growling and high-pitched screams. Over the course of the title-track and “The Great Mortality,” they vary the level of extremity somewhat, even getting into a stoner shuffle for a stretch in the latter and giving Williams space for spoken word over ambient guitar in the former, but the brutality is never far off and always seems to make a return at just the right time.
That is to say, the crux and the resounding impression of the album is its heft and that already-noted brutality. Clagg use it well. As a centerpiece to the CD/digital version of Gather Your Beasts — which nonetheless is a vinyl-ready 44 minutes long — “The Great Mortality” takes the buried-vocals and crushing riffs and speeds them up for at least half of the song’s 7:51, starting out with a tense build on drums and guitar before the full rush is let loose. And when it slows down, it’s no less massive than anything else here, though the vocals are more forward than in some places preceding a mournful dirge of a solo that gradually rises from the agonized progression that marches into a fade, leaving the bass as a transition into the more definitively Sleep-via-Weedeater-style boogie that begins “The Dream is Dead.” If Clagg are stoner rock anywhere on the album, it’s here, but the classic heavy swagger is shortlived here as well — maybe that’s the dream dying — and in any case the vocals give it an entirely sludgier edge. So where does it hit the wall? Just about at the four-minute mark it seems like Clagg might be full-on ready to roll, and that’s when “The Dream is Dead” slams headfirst into feedback and excruciating tempo shift. Like someone hit the vibe in the face with a shovel.
Obviously that’s what Clagg are shooting for, so I wouldn’t call “The Dream is Dead” anything other than a success. It might be even more of one than “The Great Mortality,” which is similar in both title and construction, since there’s a more projected sense of build in the later, penultimate track. Eventually, though, the 10-minute “The Dream is Dead” stomps to a noisy, feedback-drenched finish and bleeds directly into “Pathways to Oblivion” as the final cut on Gather Your Beasts, which given the melee surrounding and the sprawl of “The Dream is Dead” seems short at 6:30 but winds up as more than an afterthought, keeping consistently to a pace that finds the middle ground between the duality in “The Great Mortality” and “The Dream is Dead” and rides it to a raucous, solo-topped finish before descending into a minute-plus of effects noise to close out. Clagg remain somewhat undervalued coming into Gather Your Beasts, and while one is hesitant to make “they’re gonna be huge” predictions because frankly that kind of thing depends on more than just the quality of a release and to say otherwise is needless hyperbole, their fourth album is at least worthy of the attention it seems to be demanding, and with the depth of its production, stylistic cohesion and the effort of presentation, Clagg‘s latest lurks like devastation waiting to be found.
Following their 2013 double-EP, Papa Zen and Meet the Creature, and 2012′s The Banjofull-length debut, Danish heavy rock trio Pet the Preacher will release their second album, The Cave and the Sunlightin 2014, getting dirty in a mound of distortion-fueled riffs and grooves bordering on morbidly obese. Their past releases, save for Meet the Creaturewhen it was initially released in 2011, came out on Bilocation Records, and in the new video for the song “Let Your Dragon Fly,” Pet the Preacher continue to root into well-tempered stoner rock burl, not giving up a catchy hook in favor of a burly sound, but striking a balance that seems to make the most of both.
Where they end up sonically is in a similar next-gen stoner heavy mindset not unlike that of UK troublemakers Steak, though obviously the dynamic is different in Pet the Preacher with Christian Hede Madsen handling both vocals and guitar. Joined in the band by bassist/backing vocalist Torben Wæver Pedersen and drummer Christian Von Larsen, Madsen shows a push toward even weightier fare near the end of “Let Your Dragon Fly” — it’s a dragon as opposed to a freak flag, one assumes — and the production of former Hatesphere vocalist Jacob Bredahl only brings that more forward. The video, which is their first and which Madsen also helmed, follows suit with a strikingly dark thematic and gritty look.
It’s a DIY job, as the guitarist explains below, but comes out with a professional look all the same. em>The Cave and the Sunlight was recorded live and will be out next year. Enjoy “Let Your Dragon Fly” below:
Pet the Preacher, “Let Your Dragon Fly” official video
Christian Hede Madsen on “Let Your Dragon Fly”
The film is a tribute to old, avant garde films. The black/white shots, the blurred images and classic symbolism are inspired by the likes of Man Ray and Bunuel. I shot the film on an iPhone, and then asked a good friend and my uncle to shoot something for the project as well. Everything is shot on either phones or small, cheap cameras. Editing was done on an iPad.
My main goal with the music-video, was making something that felt real. Something that had layers, and didn’t just please the viewers, but challenged them a little bit. That is how we make our music in Pet The Preacher, and how our new album, The Cave & The Sunlight, is; an ideal of making something that matters. We are a rock ‘n’ roll trio, no doubt, but I am not ashamed to say that we aim for art.