Posted in Whathaveyou on September 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
An Oct. 30 release for a Satan’s Satyrs record seems only fitting. The newly announced Don’t Deliver Us will be the Virginian trio’s third, and it arrives bolstered by bassist/vocalist Clayton Burgess‘ double-tenure in Electric Wizard, for whom Satan’s Satyrs opened on their Spring 2015 US tour (review here). Speaking of touring, that seems to be precisely what the still-youngin’ three-piece have in mind to support the new album, as they’ll be out in the coming months with Pentagram and Electric Citizen in the US and with Kadavar in Europe, continuing to keep good company and spread the word of their biker-infused proto-doom. Maize, you call it heavy rock and roll.
The PR wire brings album details and copious calendar fodder:
SATAN’S SATYRS to Unleash New Album Don’t Deliver Us October 30
DC-area Psych / Doom Gang Unveils Electrifying New LP, Announces U.S. Tour with Pentagram
Bloodcurdling Virginia rock & roll creepers SATAN’S SATYRS will release their highly-anticipated new album Don’t Deliver Us on October 30 via Bad Omen Records. The underground trio, featuring bassist / vocalist Clayton Burgess (also of Electric Wizard), guitarist Jarrett Nettnin and drummer Stephen Fairfield, whose sound has been hailed as, “positively seething with a frenzied, untamed energy that takes everything you love about doom metal and punk rock and smashes them together in a glorious, technicolour explosion,” recorded the album in Nashville, TN and calls it, “more stripped down, more raw, and definitely heavier.”
“We wanted to recapture the primitive thrust of rock ‘n’ roll with our sound,” asserts Burgess, who recently achieved the considerable feat of completing a sold-out U.S. tour performing double-duty in both SATAN’S SATYRS and Electric Wizard. “I’ve watched Tony Iommi rip into the opening chords of ‘War Pigs’ from 30 feet away. I’ve had Bobby Liebling look me straight in the eyes as he sang ‘All Your Sins’. I’ve had my hair stand on end and felt strange frissons from the music which means so much to me. My ultimate desire is to reach people in the same way with our music. That’s what I strive for”
Track listing: 1.) Full Moon and Empty Veins 2.) Two Hands 3.) (Won’t You Be My) Gravedancer 4.) Spooky Nuisance 5.) Germanium Bomb 6.) Creepy Teens 7.) Crimes and Blood 8.) You-Know-Who 9.) ‘Round the Bend
Prior to the Halloween-ish release of Don’t Deliver Us, SATAN’S SATYRS will hit the road as hand-picked guests of the aforementioned Liebling and Pentagram for a slew of east coast U.S. tour dates. The terrifying trek will kick off on September 30 in Philadelphia, PA. The just-announced dates are as follows:
SATAN’S SATYRS U.S. tour dates: (All shows with Pentagram) September 30 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts October 1 Providence, RI The Met October 2 Amityville, NY Revolution October 3 Washington, DC Rock N Roll Hotel October 6 New York, NY Saint Vitus October 7 Pittsburgh, PA Mr. Smalls October 9 Chicago, IL The Abbey October 10 Grand Rapids, MI Pyramid Scheme October 11 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
SATAN’S SATYRS European tour with Kadavar: 05.11. F Strasbourg – La Laiterie 06.11. D Cologne – Kantine 07.11. NL Nijmegen – Doornroosje 08.11. UK Manchester – Sound Control 09.11. UK Glasgow – Audio 10.11. UK Leeds – The Brudenell Social Club 11.11. UK Wolverhampton – Slade Rooms 12.11. UK Bristol – Marble Factory 13.11. UK Cardiff – The Globe 14.11. UK London – The Dome 15.11. FR Tourcoing – Le Grand Mix 17.11. F Paris – La Trabendo 18.11. F Nantes – Stereolux 19.11. F La Rochelle – La Sirene 20.11. E Madrid – Penelope 21.11. E Barcelona – Razzmatazz II 22.11. F Bordeaux – Le Krakatoa 23.11. F Lyon – Ninkasi Kao 25.11. CH Zurich – Dynamo 26.11. CH Geneva – L’Usine 27.11. D Stuttgart – Wizemann 28.11. D Munich – Backstage 30.11. D Frankfurt – Batchkapp 01.12. D Hamburg – Markthalle 02.12. DK Copenhagen – Pumpehuset 03.12. N Oslo – Vulkan 04.12. S Gothenburg – Brewhouse 05.12. S Stockholm – Debaser Medis 07.12. FIN Jyväskylä – Lutakko 08.12. FIN Helsinki – Nosturi 09.12. EST Tallinn – Club Tapper 10.12. LT Vilnius – Propaganda 11.12. PL Gdansk – B90 12.12. PL Warsaw – Progresja 13.12. PL Krakow – Fabryka 15.12. A Vienna – Arena 16.12. D Nuremberg – Hirsch 17.12. B Brussels – Vk* 18.12. D Berlin – Astra 19.12. D Oberhausen – Turbinenhalle II 20.12. NL Amsterdam – Melkweg
Posted in Reviews on September 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
More and more, the leadup to each new album release from Virginian doomers Windhand feels like an event. The five-piece have wanted little for vehemence of response going back to their 2012 self-titled debut (streamed here), which in combination with the considerable amount of road time they put in was enough so that Relapse Records came calling for the follow-up, 2013’s Soma (review here). Their touring has only helped expand their reach, and they arrive at their third album (second for Relapse), Grief’s Infernal Flower, ready to take the next step, not only as headliners, but as one of current doom’s most prevalent acts.
A comparison one might make — not sonically — is to where High on Fire were after Blessed Black Wings. A couple killer records under their belt, an underground reputation for volume and badassery, a rising profile, and a swath cut into the US and Europe through consistent touring. High on Fire‘s 2007 outing, Death is this Communion, could easily be argued as their breakout moment, and positioning Windhand‘s Grief’s Infernal Flower next to that album seems all the more appropriate when one notes that both LPs were recorded and mixed by Jack Endino (both also have cover art by Arik Roper). So we see Windhand enter into this album cycle as a band ready for the next level — and whatever that next level turns out to be will unfold over the next couple months and years as Grief’s Infernal Flower is released and received by critics and the public at large; I’m not interested in speculating how “big” it or they will be — and Endino as the producer to help them get there.
For what it’s worth, I do not think this album is as far as Windhand — the five-piece of vocalist/acoustic guitarist Dorthia Cottrell guitarists Garrett Morris and Asechiah Bogdan, bassist Parker Chandler (also Cough) and drummer Ryan Wolfe — are able to go with their sound. The nine tracks/71 minutes of Grief’s Infernal Flower are, however, easily the farthest they’ve gone with it yet. Whether it’s the consuming mire of “Hesperus” and the penultimate “Kingfisher,” both of which top 14 engrossing minutes of aired-out plod, or the acoustic tracks “Sparrow” and “Aition,” both positioned to close a second side of a 2LP release (the latter, thus, finishing the album), Windhand are the most realized and individualized they’ve yet been across Grief’s Infernal Flower‘s considerable span.
Of course, one can still hear shades of Jus Oborn‘s creeping influence in the leads of the one-two opening salvo of “Two Urns” and “Forest Clouds,” but the surrounding context in which that influence plays out has shifted to be more identifiable as Windhand‘s own, and while Soma boasted plenty of atmosphere, the reaches Windhand take the crawling “Tanngrisnir” and “Hyperion” come across as a natural extension and step forward from that. In particular, the performance of Cottrell on “Hyperion,” while layered, stands as an easy showcase for her growth as a singer and the confidence in general with which these songs are executed. She carries the acoustic tracks fluidly, as one might expect given her similarly-minded solo work, but even “Kingfisher,” which by the time it hits is not just the apex of the album but the deepest plummet of its hypnotic dive, is made richer for her delivery, which feels mirrored in the echoing guitars as only hinted prior.
And while doom is still very much at the heart of what Windhand have to offer, they continue to expand the definition of what that doom means in terms of their own sound. The early-arriving “Crypt Key” is as tonally cumbersome as “Hesperus” or “Kingfisher” once it gets past its acoustic intro and suddenly lurches forward, heavy-swaying and dreamy in kind, Chandler adding organ for even more flourish, but it’s also among the catchier tracks the band has ever written and especially in its chorus has a distinctive grunge vibe, which “Tanngrisnir” complements gorgeously. Not sure I need to note that Endino also helmed records for Soundgarden, L7 and Nirvana, but I will anyway, though the nuance feels more naturally brought to bear and less calculated than the band writing a song to suit the style of their producer.
Still, it’s hard not to listen to Grief’s Infernal Flower with that collaboration in mind, which no doubt was part of the intent in working with Endino in the first place, and pivotally, it’s the band who makes the lasting impression when the album is done, Cottrell‘s resonant self-harmonies on “Aition” backed with the sound of wind to fill out the mix and remind of the foreboding ambience the band has conjured all along. Wherever Grief’s Infernal Flower takes them, and whatever its impact on the band over the long-ish term until their next outing (and beyond, I suppose), it remains Windhand‘s defining work to-date and a fresh take on ideas that, while superficially familiar, are given new life in the hands of a band reshaping their genre to suit their purposes. I’m not convinced it’s their masterpiece or their creative peak, but it’s a definite step in that direction and one that feels integral to the work Windhand want to do.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 14th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been about a year since Fredericksburg, Virginia, chaosbringers Lord streamed their latest EP, Alive in Golgotha, in this space, and while they’ve continued to have some lineup shifts and whatnot since, that’s nothing new. The band marks a decade of existence this year, and they’ve recorded a new LP called Awake with Vince Burke that as of their latest update is in the mastering stage and nearing completion (they have a new split in the works as well).
A release through the band-associated Heavy Hound Records seems likely, though one never knows exactly who or what to expect from Lord, or how to expect it, or when, but the progress is encouraging. Easy to imagine they could have Awake out before the end of the year, but if it winds up being 2016 by the time it’s pressed, that doesn’t seem unreasonable either.
Whenever it shows, new Lord is always welcome by me. I’ll keep an eye and when I hear of a definite release date, will let you know.
Some words from the band and live dates:
Just checkin in to let ya know what the LORD camp is gonna be up to for the next few months: We’re currently waiting for the final mix/master of our latest full length, Awake, from Vince Burke to see if we can move forward with the printing process.
The artwork will be handled by James Hanley this time around whose vision and visual aesthetic will help us move into the next phase of this band.We were originally planning to record a covers ep at our home studio but we decided to scrap that idea and instead focus our efforts into writing new material. The “new” line-up has truly developed some great chemistry and that’s bled into the writing process. We’re aiming to capitalize on the momentum we’ve been creating and the creativity we’ve tapped into with our latest release. We’re looking to focus on material for proposed split ep w/our buds in Dead Hand from Georgia and then moving onto to a new ep with a lyrical concept that Kerch has been working on since we left the studio.
We have a few shows lined up w/some great bands over the next few months that will bring us to the climax of the Brew & Fire Fest that will be taking place in the place where our history began, Fredericksburg, VA, back in 2005. That show will feature a bunch of great bands,many of them are vets from F’Burg’s old school scene who’ve gone on to make a name for themselves regionally.
We’re stoked to be a part of it and couldn’t be happier to be this busy after years of turbulence and strife. Cheers to all of you who’ve stayed loyal and supportive, we’ll never take that for granted…
09/19 Fat Tuesday’s, Fairfax, VA W/ Aurelian 10/09 The Sidebar, Baltimore, MD w/ Fistula, Fortress, Foehammer and Musket Hawk 11/14 Brew and Fire, KC’s Music Alley, Fredericksburg, VA w/ Foehammer, The Osedax and more
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I caught onto Inter Arma‘s 2014 single-song outing, The Cavern, pretty late. Waited until I bought it to dig in, essentially, but had no regrets once I did, and so it’s that much easier to look forward to their next album’s arrival in 2016. Once again, they’ll be recording with Mikey Allred (Across Tundras, All Them Witches) when they enter the studio on Sept. 19, and they also have tour dates with Kylesa upcoming next month. Seems likely the record will be done by then, unless they’re planning to finish it over the winter after they tour, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they took some of the new material on the road.
They offer some comment on what to expect (hint: the unexpected), and the PR wire brings those tour dates as follows:
INTER ARMA: Prepare New Album; Announce Tour Dates With Kylesa
Richmond, VA’s INTER ARMA have announced their plans for their highly-anticipated third full-length record. The as-yet-to-be-titled album follow-up to 2013’s Sky Burial will again be recorded and produced at Dark Art Audio with Mikey Allred (Yautja, Hivelords), where the band has produced its last two releases. The record is due out early next year via Relapse.
The band commented on the new album, “On September 19th we’ll return to Dark Art Audio in Madison, TN to begin recording our third full length record. The sonic alchemist Mikey Allred will once again sit in the captain’s seat for this journey. Album title, etc. are TBA. As always, expect the unexpected.”
After having completed a US tour this past May with pessimistic Nashville sludge crew Yautja that also included an appearance at Maryland Deathfest, INTER ARMA have also announced new touring plans. The band will be embarking on a series of US shows this October directly supporting Kylesa. Further support will come from Indian Handcrafts and Irata. INTER ARMA are still touring in support of their two latest releases, 2014’s The Cavern and 2013’s Sky Burial, both of which can be streamed via INTER ARMA’s official Bandcamp. See below for a full list of dates:
INTER ARMA Tour Dates: ***All dates with Kylesa, Indian Handcrafts and Irata*** Oct 06 St. Petersburg, FL State Theatre Oct 07 Miami, FL Churchills Pub Oct 08 Orlando, FL The Social Oct 09 Savannah, GA Jinx Oct 10 Asheville, NC New Mountain Oct 11 Nashville, TN The Basement East Oct 13 Columbus, OH The Basement Oct 14 Grand Rapids, MI Pyramid Scheme Oct 15 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle Oct 16 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop Oct 17 Pittsburgh, PA Altar Bar Oct 19 Boston, MA Brighton Music Hall Oct 20 Philadelphia, PA Black Box at Underground Arts Oct 21 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus Oct 22 Jersey City, NJ Monty Hall Oct 23 Richmond, VA The Broadberry Oct 24 Washington, DC Rock & Roll Hotel
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
As Richmond doomers Windhand gears up for the Sept. 18 release of their third album, the Jack Endino-produced Grief’s Infernal Flower, vocalist Dorthia Cottrell will be stepping out solo to perform at Vultures of Volume II in Hagerstown, Maryland, which runs on Sept. 4 and 5. Cottrell, who released her self-titled solo debut on Forcefield Records earlier this year, will fill the slot vacated by Philadelphia psych rockers Ruby the Hatchet, who will instead be on the road alongside Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, playing between Wretch and Elder among the evening’s headliners.
Cottrell has a number of appearances coming up in addition to Vultures of Volume II, appearing in Richmond on Aug. 22 with Demon Eye and others, playing the Hopscotch Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Sept. 10, and appearing in Richmond again on Oct. 10 with King Dude. Add to that Windhand‘s upcoming coast-to-coast headlining run with Swedish devastators Monolord (info here) and it’s a pretty packed few months, even before you include the actual Windhand album release and everything that goes along with it.
The festival announced her addition and revised the timetable thusly:
We have DORTHIA COTTRELL!!! The voice of Windhand will be bringing her haunting solo material front and center at this years VULTURES OF VOLUME!! We couldn’t ask for a better addition to the fest, we’re super excited!!
As stated before Sadly Ruby the Hatchet will not be playing the show this year. We wish them luck and success on their upcoming tour with Uncle Acid!
Posted in Reviews on July 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The final day of the Quarterly Review is upon us. It has been one hell of a week, I don’t mind saying, but good and productive overall, if in a kind of cruel way. I hope that you’ve been able to find something in sifting through all these releases that you really dig. I have, for whatever that’s worth. Before we dig into the last batch, I just want to thank you for checking in and reading this week. If you’ve seen all five of these or if this is the first bunch you’ve come across, that you’re here at all is appreciated immensely.
Quarterly Review #41-50:
Lucifer, Lucifer I
Vocalist Johanna Sadonis, who burst into the international underground consciousness last year with The Oath, resurfaces following that band’s quick dissolution alongside former Cathedral guitarist and riffer-of-legend Gary “Gaz” Jennings in Lucifer, whose Lucifer I eight-song debut LP is released on Rise Above Records. Joined by bassist Dino Gollnick and drummer Andrew Prestidge, Sadonis and Jennings wind through varied but thoroughly doomed atmospheres across songs like opener “Abracadabra” – the outright silliness of the “magic word” kind of undercutting the cultish impression for which Lucifer are shooting – or early highlights “Purple Pyramid” and “Izrael.” A strong side A rounding out with “Sabbath,” Lucifer I can feel somewhat frontloaded, but on repeat listens, the layered chorus of “White Mountain,” “Morning Star”’s late-arriving chug, the classically echoing “Total Eclipse” and the atmospheric finish of “A Grave for Each One of Us” hold their own. After a strong showing from Lucifer’s debut single, the album doesn’t seem like it will do anything to stop the band’s already-in-progress ascent. Their real test will be in the live arena, but they sustain a thematic ambience across Lucifer I’s 44 minutes, and stand ready to follow Rise Above labelmates Ghost and Uncle Acid toward the forefront of modern doom.
Drone-prone Philadelphia post-metallers Rosetta return with Quintessential Ephemera, the follow-up to 2013’s The Anaesthete and their fifth LP overall, which resounds in its ambience as a reinforcement of how little the band – now a five-piece with the inclusion of guitarist Eric Jernigan – need any hype or genre-push to sustain them. Through a titled intro, “After the Funeral,” through seven untitled tracks of varying oppressiveness and rounding out with the unabashedly pretty instrumental “Nothing in the Guise of Something,” they continue to plug away at their heady approach, relentless in their progression and answering the darker turns of their prior outing with a shift toward a more colorful atmosphere. At 52 minutes, Quintessential Ephemera isn’t a slight undertaking, but if you were expecting one you probably haven’t been paying attention to the last decade of Rosetta’s output. As ever, they are cerebral and contemplative while staying loyal to the need for an emotional crux behind what they do, and the album is both dutiful and forward-looking.
Pressed up by Brutal Panda Records for Stateside issue following a 2014 release in Europe on Svart, Death by Burning is the debut full-length from sans-bass Hamburg duo Mantar – vocalist/guitarist Hanno, drummer/vocalist Erinc – and as much as it pummels and writhes across its thrash-prone 10 tracks, opener “Spit” setting a tone for the delivery throughout, there are flourishes of both character and groove to go with all the bludgeoning throughout standout cuts like “Cult Witness,” “The Huntsmen,” the explosive “White Nights,” “The Stoning” and the more lumbering instrumental closer “March of the Crows,” the two-piece seamlessly drawing together elements of doom, thrash and blackened rock and roll into a seething, tense concoction that’s tonally weighted enough to make one’s ears think they’re hearing bass strings alongside the guitar, but still overarchingly raw in a manner denoting some punk influence. Bonus points for the Tom G. Warrior-style “ough!” grunts that make their way into “The Stoning” and the rolling nod of “Astral Kannibal.” Nasty as hell, but more subtle than one might expect.
Though it seems King Giant’s fate to be persistently underrated, the Virginian dual-guitar five-piece offer their most stylistically complex material to date on their third full-length, Black Ocean Waves (released on The Path Less Traveled Records and Graveyard Hill), recorded by J. Robbins (Clutch, Murder by Death, etc.) as the follow-up to 2012’s Dismal Hollow (streamed here). Still commanded by the vocal presence of frontman Dave Hammerly, the album also finds moments of flourish in the guitars of David Kowalski and Todd “T.I.” Ingram on opener “Mal de Mer,” the leads on “Requiem for a Drunkard” or the intro to extended finishing move “There Were Bells,” bassist Floyd Lee Walters III and drummer Keith Brooks holding down solid rhythms beneath the steady chug of “The One that God Forgot to Save” and “Blood of the Lamb.” Side A closer “Red Skies” might be where it all ties together most, but the full course of Black Ocean Waves’ eight tracks provides a satisfying reminder of the strength in King Giant’s craftsmanship.
The 14 single-word-title tracks of Si Ombrellone’s Horns on the Same Goat were originally recorded in 2006, but for a 2015 release, Connecticut-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli (Vestal Claret, King of Salem) took them back into his own UP Recording Studio for touch-ups and remastering. The endeavor is a solo outing for Tuozzoli, styled in a kind of post-grunge rock with Frank Picarazzi playing drums to give a full-band feel, and finds catchy, poppy songwriting coming forward in the layered vocals of “Innocence,” while later, “Forgiveness” and “Darkness” offset each other more in theme than sound, as “Love” and “Hate” had done earlier, the album sticking to its straightforward structures through to six-minute closer “Undone,” which boasts a more atmospheric take. It’s an ambitious project to collect 14 sometimes disparate emotional themes onto a single outing, never mind to do it (mostly) alone – one might write an entire record about “Trust,” say, or “Rage,” which opens – but Tuozzoli matches his craftsmanship with a sincerity that carries through each of these tracks.
Boasting a close relationship to Duster69 and Mother Misery and featuring in their ranks Daredevil Records owner Jochen Böllath, who plays guitar, German heavy rockers Grand Massive revel in commercial-grade Euro-style tonal heft bordering on metallic aggression. 2 is their aptly-titled second EP (on Daredevil) and it finds Böllath, lead guitarist Peter Wisenbacher, vocalist Alex Andronikos, bassist Toby Brandl and drummer Holger Stich running through six crisply-executed tracks of catchy, fist-pumping riffy drive, slowing a bit for the creepy ambience of the interlude “Woods” or the more lurching tension of “I am Atlas,” but most at home in the push of “Backseat Devil” and closer “My Own Sickness,” a mid-paced groove adding to the festival-ready weight Grand Massive conjure. Word is they’re already at work on a follow-up. Fair enough, but 2 has plenty to offer in the meantime in its tight presentation and darker vibes, Grand Massive having been through a wringer of lineup changes and emerged with their songwriting well intact.
Carlton Melton Meets Dr. Space, Live from Roadburn 2014
If you guessed “spacey as hell” as regards this meeting between NorCal psych explorers Carlton Melton and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Danish jammers Øresund Space Collective, go ahead and give yourself the prize. Limited to 300 copies worldwide courtesy of Lay Bare Recordings and Space Rock Productions, Carlton Melton Meets Dr. Space’s Live from Roadburn 2014 is a consuming, near-100-minute unfolding, Heller joining Carlton Melton on stage for four of the total seven inclusions, adding his synthesized swirl to the swirling wash, already by then 26 minutes deep after the opening “Country Ways > Spiderwebs” establishes a heady sprawl that only continues to spread farther and farther as pieces unfold, making “Out to Sea” seem an even more appropriate title. It will simply be too much for some, but as somebody who stood and heard the sounds oozing from the stage at Cul de Sac in Tilburg, the Netherlands, as part of the Roadburn 2014 Afterburner event, I can say it was a special trip to behold. It remains so here.
According to El Paraiso Records, Sela was held up as so many releases have been owing to plant production having been overwhelmed by Record Store Day and will be out circa August. Fair enough. Consider this advance warning of Danish improve collective Shiggajon’s first outing for the Causa Sui-helmed imprint, then, and don’t be intimidated as we get closer to the release and people start talking about things like “free jazz” and dropping references to this or that Coltrane. The real deal with Shiggajon – central figures Mikkel Reher-Lanberg (percussion, drums, clarinet) and Nikolai Brix Vartenberg (sax) here joined by Emil Rothenborg (violin, double bass), Martin Aagaard Jensen (drums), Mikkel Elzer (drums, percussion, guitar), Sarah Lorraine Hepburn (vocals, flute, electronics, tingshaws) – is immersive and tipped over into music as the ritual itself. One might take on the two 18-minute halves of Sela with a similarly open mind as when approaching Montibus Communitas and be thrilled at the places the album carries you. I hope to have more to come, but again, heads up – this one is something special.
“The Spell” proves right away that Alps-based heavy rockers Mount Hush (I love that they don’t specify a country) have the post-Queens of the Stone Age fuzz-thrust down pat on their debut EP Low and Behold, but the band also bring an element of heavy psychedelia to their guitar work and the vocals – forward in the mix – have a bluesier but not caricature-dudely edge, so even as they bounce through the “Come on pretty baby” hook of “The Spell,” they’re crafting their own sound. The subsequent “King Beyond” showcases how to have a Graveyard influence without simply pretending to sound like Graveyard, even going so far as to repurpose a classic rock reference – “Strange Days” by The Doors – in its pursuit, and the seven-minute “The Day She Stole the Sun” stretches out for a more psychedelic build. Most exciting of all on a conceptual level is closer “Levitations.” Drumless, it sets ethereal vocals and samples over a tonal swirl and airy, quieter strumming. Hardly adrenaline-soaked and not intended to be, but it shows Mount Hush have a genuine will to experiment, and it’s one I hope they continue to develop.
Joined for the first time by drummer Bas Snabilie (apparently since replaced by Aletta Verwoerd) Amsterdam heavy art rockers Labasheeda mark four full-length releases with Changing Lights on Presto Chango, the violin/viola of vocalist/guitarist Saskia van der Giessen and guitar/bass/keyboard of Arne Wolfswinkel carrying across an open but humble atmosphere, touching here on Sonic Youth’s dare-to-have-a-verse moments in “My Instincts” and pushing into more blown-out jarring with the slide-happy “Tightrope.” They bring indie edge to a cover of The Who’s “Circles,” and round out with a closing duo of the album’s only two tracks over five minutes, “Cold Water” and “Into the Wide,” van der Giessen’s croon carrying a sweetness into the second half of the former as the latter finishes Changing Lights with a rolling contrast of distortion and strings as engrossing as it is strange. Labasheeda will go right over a lot of heads, but approached with an open mind it can just as easily prove a treasure for its blatant refusal to be pinned to one style or another.
Posted in Reviews on June 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I said back in March that I was going to try to make the Quarterly Review a regular feature around here, and once it was put out there, the only thing to do was to live up to it. Over the last several — like, five — weeks, I’ve been compiling lists of albums to be included, and throughout the next five days, we’re going to make our way through that list. From bigger names to first demos and across a wide swath of heavy styles, there’s a lot of stuff to come, and I hope within all of it you’re able to find something that hits home or speaks to you in a special way.
No sense in delaying. Hold nose, dive in.
Quarterly Review #1-10:
Relatively newcomer trio Foehammer specialize in grueling, slow-motion punishment. Their self-titled debut EP follows a well-received 2014 demo and is three tracks/34 minutes released by Grimoire and Australopithecus Records of doomed extremity, the Virginian three-piece of guitarist Joe Cox (ex-Gradius), bassist/vocalist Jay Cardinell (ex-Gradius, ex-Durga Temple) and drummer Ben “Vang” Blanton (ex-Vog, also of The Oracle) not new to the Doom Capitol-area underground by any stretch and seeming to pool all their experience to maximize the impact of this extended material. Neither “Final Grail,” “Stormcrow” nor 14-minute closer “Jotnar” is without a sense of looming atmosphere, but Foehammer at this point are light only on drama, and the lower, sludgier and more crushing they go, the more righteous the EP is for it. Stunningly heavy and landing with a suitable shockwave, it is hopefully the beginning of a long, feedback-drenched tenure in death-doom, and if the EP is over half an hour, the prospect of a follow-up debut full-length seems overwhelming. Easily one of the year’s best short releases.
It’s not like they were lying when they decided to call a song “Shroom Doom.” Melbourne double-guitar four-piece made their self-titled debut as Holy Serpent last year, and the five-track full-length was picked up for release on RidingEasy Records no doubt for its two-front worship of Uncle Acid’s slither and jangle – especially prevalent on the eponymous opener and closer “The Wind” – and the now-classic stonerism of Sleep. That blend comes together best of all on the aforementioned finale, but neither will I take away from the north-of-10-minute righteousness of “The Plague” preceding, with its slow roll and malevolent vibe that, somehow, still sounds like a party. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Scott Penberthy, guitarist Nick Donoughue, bassist Michael Macfie and drummer Keith Ratnan, the real test for Holy Serpent will be their second or third album – i.e., how they develop the psychedelic nodes of centerpiece “Fools Gold” along with the rest of their sound – but listening to these tracks, it’s easy to let the future worry about itself.
There are a variety of influences at work across Wicked Inquisition’s self-titled debut long-player, from the Sabbath references of its eponymous closer to the earlier thrashery of “In Shackles” and “Sun Flight,” but the core of the Minneapolis four-piece resides in a guitar-led brand of metal, whatever else they decide to build around it. Guitarist/vocalist Nate Towle, guitarist Ben Stevens, bassist Jordan Anderson and drummer Jack McKoskey align tightly around the riffs of “M.A.D.” in all-business fashion. Shades of Candlemass show up in some of the slower material, “M.A.D.” included as well as with “Crimson Odyssey,” but the start-stops of “Tomorrow Always Knows” ensure the audience is clued in that there’s more going on than just classic doom, though a Trouble influence seems to hover over the proceedings as well, waiting to be more fully explored as the band moves forward.
Clocking in at an hour flat, Sydney all-caps riffers AVER construct their second album, Nadir, largely out of familiar elements, but wind up with a blend of their own. Fuzz is prevalent in the extended nod of opener “The Devil’s Medicine” (9:46) which bookends with the longest track, finisher “Waves” (9:48), though it’s not exactly like the four-piece are shy about writing longer songs in between. The production, while clear enough, lends its focus more toward the low end, which could be pulling in another direction from the impact of some of Nadir’s psychedelia on “Rising Sun” second half solo, but neither will I take anything away from Jed’s bass tone, which could carry this hour of material were it asked. The vocals of guitarist Burdt have a distinct Acid Bathian feel, post-grunge, and that contrasts a more laid back vibe even on the acoustic-centered “Promised Lands,” but neither he, Jed, guitarist Luke or drummer Chris feel out of place here, and I’m not inclined to complain.
Sweet, classic and very, very British folk pervades the gorgeously melodic and meticulously arranged Silence and Tears by London six-piece Galley Beggar, released on Rise Above. The eight-track/40-minute album packs neatly onto a vinyl release and has near-immediate psychedelic underpinnings in the wah of opener “Adam and Eve,” and side B’s “Geordie” has some heavier-derived groove, but it’s the beauty and lushness of the harmonies throughout (finding satisfying culmination in closer “Deliver Him”) that stand Galley Beggar’s third offering out from worshipers of a ‘60s and ‘70s era aesthetic. The highlight of Silence and Tears arrives early in nine-minute second cut “Pay My Body,” a wonderfully swaying, patient excursion that gives equal time to instrumental exploration and vocal accomplishment, but to a select few who let themselves be truly hypnotized and carried along its winding course, the album’s entire span will prove a treasure to be revisited for years to come and whose sunshiny imprint will remain vivid.
With inspiration reportedly from the 1977 demon-possession horror flick Alucarda, Las Vegas doomers Demon Lung return with A Dracula, their second offering via Candlelight Records after 2013’s The Hundredth Name, and as the movie begins with a birth, so too do we get “Behold, the Daughter” following the intro “Rursumque Alucarda,” later mirrored by a penultimate interlude of the same name. Billy Anderson produced, so it’s not exactly a surprise that the slow, undulating riffs and the periodic bouts of more upbeat chug, as on “Gypsy Curse,” come through nice and viscous, but vocalist Shanda brings an ethereal melodic sensibility, not quite cult rock, but on “Mark of Jubilee” presenting momentarily some similarly bleak atmospherics to those of the UK’s Undersmile, her voice seeming to command the guitars to solidify from their initial airiness and churn out an eerie apex, which closer “Raped by the Serpent” pushes further for a raging finale.
Spirit Division’s self-titled debut full-length follows a 2014 demo that also hosted three of the tracks – opener “Spirit Division,” “Through the Rounds” and “Mountain of Lies” – but is fuller-sounding in its post-grunge tonality and doomly chug than the earlier offering, guitarist/vocalist Stephen Hoffman, bassist/vocalist Chris Latta and drummer/vocalist David Glass finding a straightforward route through moody metallurgy and weighted riffage. Some Wino-style swing shows up on “Bloodletting,” and “Cloud of Souls” has a decidedly militaristic march to its progression, while the later “Red Sky” revels in classic doom that seems to want to be just a touch slower than it is, but what ultimately unites the material is the strong sense of purpose across the album’s span and Spirit Division’s care in the vocal arrangements. The production is somewhat dry, but Spirit Division walk the line between sludge rock and doom and seem comfortable in that sphere while also sparking a creative progression that seems well worth further pursuit.
I was all set to include a different Space Mushroom Fuzz album in this roundup, but then I saw that the project was coming to an end and Until Next Time was issued as the band’s final release. The deal all along with the band headed by guitarist/vocalist Adam Abrams (also Blue Aside) has been that you never really know what he’s going to do next. Fair enough. Abrams brings it down in suitably bizarre fashion, a keyboard and guitar line backing “Class Onion” in direct mockery of Beatlesian bounce, where “The DeLorean Takes Off!” before compiles five-plus minutes of experimental noise and “Follow that DeLorean” answers with another round after. Elsewhere, opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Here Comes Trouble” resonates with its central guitar line and unfolds to further oddity with a quiet but gruff vocal, while “The Rescue” vibes like something Ween would’ve conjured after huffing roach spray (or whatever was handy) and closer “Back in ‘55” moves from progressive soloing to froggy singing and weirdo jangle. All in all a strange and fitting end to the band.
Santa Cruz trio Mountain Tamer have been kicking around the West Coast for the last several years, and since they released a full-length, Liquid Metal, in 2013, and a prior EP in 2012’s The Glad, it’s tempting to try to read some larger shift sonically into their MTN TMR Demo, as though having completely revamped their sound, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Andru, bassist/vocalist Dave Teget and drummer/vocalist Casey Garcia trying out new ideas as they redirect their approach. That may well be the case, with “Satan’s Waitin’,” “Sum People” and “Dunes of the Mind” each standing at over five-minutes of neo-stoner roll, more psychedelic than some in the growing fuck-it-let’s-skate oeuvre, but still plainly born after, or at least during, grunge. The finisher comes to a thrilling, noisy head as it rounds out the short release, and if Mountain Tamer are taking on a new path, it’s one well set to meander and I hope they continue to follow those impulses.
Like their late-2014 debut, Bloom, OHHMS’ sophomore outing, Cold, is comprised of two extended tracks. Here the Canterbury five-piece bring “The Anchor” (18:30) and “Dawn of the Swarm” (14:27), blending modern prog, sludge and post-metallic vibes to suit a melodic, ambitious purpose. Atmosphere is central from the quiet drone starting “The Anchor” and remains so as they lumber through a linear build and into an apex at about 13 minutes in, dropping out to quiet only to build back up to a striking melodic push that ends on a long fade. Side B, “Dawn of the Swarm” is more immediately post-rock in the guitar, the lineup of vocalist Paul Waller, guitarists Daniel Sargent and Marc George, bassist Chainy Chainy and drummer Max Newton moving through hypnotic sprawl into angular Isis-ism before finding their own way, the second cut pushing structurally against the first with loud/quiet tradeoffs in a well-timed back half. Clearly a band who arrived knowing their purpose, but not so cerebral as to detract from the heavy landing of the material itself.
Posted in Reviews on June 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
No question that Into Your Mind is, in its songwriting and construction and in the stylistic breadth it covers, a step forward for Virginia Beach heavy rockers Freedom Hawk. Named perhaps for being where the songs go, it’s their fourth outing overall and second for Small Stone behind 2011’s Moving On (review here), its 10-track/52-minute run reinforces the classic metal and heavy rock influences under which they’ve been working all along (Ozzy, Fu Manchu, etc.) while also pushing ahead into new ground, subtly psychedelic but still woven around earthy and traditional structures. Perhaps the biggest change of all is that the band are now a trio, having parted ways with guitarist Matt Cave since their last time out and continued to operate as the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist T.R. Morton, bassist Mark Cave and drummer Lenny Hines.
Where the band might have been in the writing for Into Your Mind when that split occurred, I don’t know, but Matt is given a writing credit on opener “Blood Red Sky,” “Journey Home,” “Waterfall” and side B’s “Beyond Our Reach” — the tracklisting broken into sides even on back of the CD and very much operating in that kind of structure despite the format — though he doesn’t seem to have participated in the actual recording, the trio tracking the instrumental portion of the LP live with producer/engineer/mixer Jim Woodling with Morton handling the vocals afterward. Their chemistry comes through what’s still a crisp production across the board, though, and while there still sounds like a layer of rhythm guitar under the solo in “Blood Red Sky,” their operation with their new lineup configuration is fluid and the momentum they build over the course of the first two tracks, that opener and “Journey Home,” carries through to some of the more stylistically expansive material that follows.
One thing to get straight, we’re not talking about leaps and bounds here, but natural, incremental stylistic progression. Reasonable. It begins on side A, though the let’s-get-to-it-ness of “Blood Red Sky” and “Journey Home”‘s hooks signals business as usual from Freedom Hawk, “Lost in Space,” with its more patient intro from all three and keys from Morton, brings a turn that presages some of side B’s more adventurous moments. At its heart, it’s still catchy and largely straightforward, but the shift in atmosphere is palpable from the first two cuts and it begins a broadening process that continues later. The lead on “On Your Knees” is a standout, though more so the turn in approach of the vocals, which will later get a fuller exploration on the title-track, and Hines‘ drumming proves able to push the material along at whatever pace is set or direction it might be headed.
He holds a tension in “Lost in Space” and the later “The Line” and is forward-minded, but definitely not without a sense of swing to coincide. “Journey Home” showcases that and he begins side A closer “Waterfall” with snare work that sets up the song’s more laid-back vibe, the verse arriving later, a few lines tossed out as a precursor to a relatively stripped down chorus compared to that of “Lost in Space” or “Blood Red Sky,” the trio ready and willing to let their chemistry do the talking when it suits them. Side B’s launch, “Radar,” is more of a riff-rocker, but it picks up in its midsection to find more of a rush in which the band seems utterly at home for the bridge before they turn back to the chorus, chugging central nod and surprisingly airy finish. With the shifts that the second half of Into Your Mind brings about, the beginning of that half is still pretty much in line with the cuts preceding. It’s not really until “Beyond Our Reach” kicks in that they fully show their hand.
A jazzy start like something Fatso Jetson might conjure begins “Beyond Our Reach,” and that rhythm holds after the riff and a NWOBHM-style lead progression commence to give an alternate vision of Freedom Hawk‘s brand of heavy rock. Layered vocals seem to mirror guitar harmonies and while the effect is still heavy and a shuffle is present, once again the context has changed. The previously-alluded-to vocal turn on “Into Your Mind” pushes further against expectation — Morton‘s compression-on higher-register vocals are as much a signature as the band has — and they’re not completely gone, but even changing into and out of the chorus establishes a dynamic in an unanticipated way, and “Into Your Mind” also proves to be Cave‘s best performance on bass, his presence in the pocket just behind the guitar only helps in setting that righteous tone.
At 6:51, the penultimate “The Line” is the longest inclusion by nearly a full minute, and they use that extra time for an instrumental drive, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “jam,” since though it finds Hines on his ride, there always seems to be a plotted course being followed. Keys or layered-in background leads pepper the pre-chorus and return later during the extended instrumental part, which is also how they finish before bringing things back to earth for “All Because of You,” a more hook-based start-stopper that seems to be geared toward bookending with “Blood Red Sky,” but honestly, by the time they get there, the opener’s straight-ahead thrust feels like a long time ago and a long ways away. That feeling itself is evidence of the growth Freedom Hawk have undertaken despite losing a player, and though Into Your Mind finds them branching out, it also serves to reinforce the aspects of their sonic personality that have been their hallmarks up to this point in their career. They’re still Freedom Hawk, they’re just working to expand the definition of what that means.