Posted in Whathaveyou on December 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Now a trio after parting ways this year with guitarist Matt Cave – his brother, Mark, still handles bass — Virginia Beach heavy rockers Freedom Hawk have been announced as the latest addition to the 2015 Freak Valley festival in Germany. Their appearance at Freak Valley 2015 follows a quick run through parts of Europe this past spring that included a stop at the Roadburn festival in the Netherlands. Freedom Hawk also recently were in the studio recording for the follow-up to their 2011 Small Stone label debut, Holding On (review here). No word on a release date yet or whether the Freak Valley gig will be part of another round of European tour dates, but there’s time yet for such things to align and be revealed. In any case, if you’re keeping a running list of stuff to look forward to in 2015, Freedom Hawk isn’t a name to be left out.
Freak Valley put it thusly:
We are stoked to announce that Virginia Riff-Wranglers FREEDOM HAWK will play Freak Valley Festival 2015 !!
Hailing from the barrier dunes of Virginia, this quartet blends heavy riffs, a rolling groove, and soulful guitar melodies to produce the sound that is Freedom Hawk. Their brand of heavy rock coupled with a high energy live show, leaves many wondering if they’ve stepped through a time warp that has taken them to rock’s heyday of the 70’s by the power of their dark music fueled by the sun.
FREEDOM HAWK’s sound is large, like trying to force an elephant to fit in a closet. It’s also melodic for such heavy-handed playing. Walls of guitar riffs were pushed out heavy, soaring and moving like swells and waves at the same time.
Mindblowing cover art by Antoine Defarges // Headbang Design
FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL – 4th-5th-6th June 2015
FVF tickets are selling like Blues Pills vinyls already – get yours in time – the first 3 editions have been sold out early!! We are selling tix to all parts of this planet!!
Goatsnake – Earthless – Crippled Black Phoenix – The Vintage Caravan – Electric Moon – Gas Giant – Monkey3 – Danava – Egypt – Siena Root – Bröselmaschine – Sigiryia – Kamchatka – Purson – Dead Man – Freedom Hawk – Mountain Witch – Tuber – Valley of the Sun – Tombstones – more tba soon!!
Posted in Radio on October 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I wanted to make sure I did a round of radio adds for this week. Not just because they’re fun to do and it’s a bit like submerging my head in heaviness for an afternoon, but because I’ve already got one or two records in mind to join the playlist next week (or the week after, depending on time) and I don’t want to get too far behind. As always, these five are just picks out of the bunch. Over 20 records went up to the server today, so there’s much more than this to dig into. As well as all the rest of everything up there. I don’t even know how much stuff that is at this point. Last I heard from Slevin, it was “a lot.” Nothing like more, then.
The Obelisk Radio adds for Oct. 16, 2014:
Godflesh, A World Lit only by Fire
It seems that after a decade-plus of moving further away from Godflesh‘s sound in Jesu, guitarist/vocalist Justin K. Broadrick has had no problem whatsoever slipping back into songwriting for the ultra-influential early-industrial outfit. Preceded by an EP called Decline and Fall (review here) that was also released through Broadrick‘s Avalanche Recordings imprint, the 10-track A World Lit Only by Fire harnesses a lot of the churn that was so prevalent in prime-era Godflesh and, more impressively, successfully channels the same aggression and frustration without sounding like a put-on. The chug in “Carrion” is visceral, and while “Life Giver Life Taker” recalls some of the melody that began to show itself on Godflesh‘s last album, 2001’s Hymns, and subsequently became the core of Jesu, songs like “Shut Me Down” and the gruelingly slow “Towers of Emptiness” find Broadrick and bassist G.C. Green enacting a familiar pummel that — and this is a compliment — sounds just like Godflesh. No doubt some of that is because so much of the duo’s elements are electronic, and while they might sound dated after a while, electronics don’t actually age in the same way people do, but even in the human core of the band, Godflesh are back in full, earth-shattering force. A World Lit Only by Fire is a triumphant return. I don’t know if it necessarily adds much to the Godflesh legacy that wasn’t already there, but as a new beginning point, a sort of second debut, its arrival is more than welcome. Godflesh on Bandcamp, Justin Broadrick on Thee Facebooks.
Early Man, Thank God You’ve Got the Answers for us All
After starting out in Ohio and making their way to New York around the middle of the last decade, the duo of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mike Conte and guitarist Pete Macy – better known as Early Man – recorded their new album, Thank God You’ve Got the Answers for us All, as they put, “inside various closets, attics and basements within the greater Los Angeles area over the past year.” I recall seeing them in Manhattan and getting their demo in 2004/2005 and Early Man was the shit. They were gonna be huge. A contract with Matador Records brought their debut and then they went five years before their next album came out, and by then, retro metal and heavy rock has passed them by. Thank God You’ve Got the Answers for us All taps some of the same younger-Metallica vibing of their earliest work on “Black Rains are Falling” and closer “The Longer the Life,” but the current of Sabbathian heavy that was always there remains strong and “Always Had a Place in Hell to Call My Own” ups the ante with a more punkish take. The recording is raw in the new digital sense, but the tracks get their point across well enough, and Conte‘s songwriting has always produced some memorable results — the keyboard-soaked “Hold on to Nothing” stands out here — but it seems like the story of Early Man is still waiting to be told. Early Man on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Temple of Void, Of Terror and the Supernatural
Any given song, it can be hard to tell where Detroit’s Temple of Void come down on the spectrum of doom/death and death/doom, but whatever genre tag you want to stick on it, their debut long-player, Of Terror and the Supernatural, is fucking grim. A roaring morass of thuds, low growls, bouts of extreme violence and bludgeonry, and horror — oh, the horror. Last year’s Demo MMXIII (review here) was fair enough warning, but what the double-guitar five-piece do across these eight tracks is a cruelty of atmosphere and lurch. Squibbles perpetrate “Invocation of Demise,” which also has some surprise key work that sounds like a flute, and a moment of respite arrives with the subsequent “To Carry this Corpse Evermore” in Opethian acoustics, but as the title would indicate, “Rot in Solitude” throws the listener right back into the filth and it’s there Temple of Void seem most in their element. Buried deep in “Exanimate Gaze” is a melodic undertone and 10-minute finale “Bargain in Death” shows a fairly dynamic approach, but the core of what they do is rooted in toying with a balance between death and doom metals, and already on their first outing they show significant stylistic command. If they tour, it’s hard to imagine one of the bigger metal labels –Relapse, Metal Blade – wouldn’t want them somewhere down the line. Temple of Void on Thee Facebooks, Saw Her Ghost Records, Rain without End Records.
Mage, Last Orders
UK fivesome Mage debuted in 2012 with Black Sands (review here) and showcased a burly blend of heavy rock and metal, and tonally and in the drums, their sophomore outing, Last Orders, follows suit in copping elements of thrash, Voivod-style otherwordliness and a penchant for shifting tempos effectively while keeping a seemingly downward path. Vocalist Tom has pulled back on the ultra-dudely vocals and it makes a big difference in the band’s sound for the better. He’s much better mixed and exploring some new ground on “The Fallen,” but he boldly takes on the task with the slower “Beyond” — the longest song here at six minutes flat — and comes out stronger for it. Guitarists Ben and Woody, bassist Mark and drummer Andy showcase some Electric Wizard influence in that song, but I wouldn’t tie Mage‘s sound to any one band, as “Lux Mentis” before offers huge-sounding stomp and “Violent Skies” after feeds an adrenaline surge of chugging and turns before opening to Last Orders‘ satisfying payoff, Tom tapping into mid-range Halford along the way and closer “One for the Road” reminding that there’s still a riffy side to the band as well. Mage on Thee Facebooks, Witch Hunter Records.
Lamperjaw, Demo EP 2014
Formed in 2011, Virginian trio Lamperjaw make their three-track debut with the descriptive Demo EP 2014, drunken-stomping the line between sludge and Southern heavy. One can’t help but be reminded of Alabama Thunderpussy‘s glory days listening to “Throw Me a Stone,” but with guitarist Dedrian, bassist Lane and drummer Codi all contributing vocals, Lamperjaw bring something immediately distinguishing to their approach. “Blood Dreams” aligns them with the burl-bringing Southern set, some screams and a metallic chug surprising after the opener’s booze-rocking vibe, but their real potential comes out on the seven-minute “Menace of a Cruel Earth,” which moves from low-in-the-mouth whoa-yeah-style grit across a successful linear build to a harmonized, well-arranged apex. It’s always hard to judge a band’s intent by their first release, and there’s a lot about their sound Lamperjaw are still figuring out, but they’ve given themselves some directional liquidity on their first demo, and it will be interesting to hear how they proceed from this point. Lamperjaw on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Like I said, this is just a fraction of the stuff that went up to the server this afternoon, so if you get a second, I hope you’ll peruse the The Obelisk Radio Updates and Playlist page, or whatever it is I’m calling it in my head this week. It’s the same page as always either way.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Virginian progressive heavy rockers Corsair will release their second full-length for Shadow Kingdom Records, One Eyed Horse, in January 2015. The double-guitar four-piece toured Europe earlier this year and recorded the follow-up to 2012’s Corsair (review here) last winter in their native VA, which is where we find them in the new video teaser they’ve posted ahead of the album.
Presumably, the farmscape we’re seeing is that surrounding White Star Sound in Louisa, Virginia, where basic tracks for One Eyed Horse were done live with engineers Adam Wolcott Smith and Andy Gems over the course of last December/January, with vocals, solos and other additional recording added at Mulberry Inn in Charlottesville by bassist/vocalist Jordan Brunk and guitarist/vocalist Marie Landragin. The band is completed by guitarist/vocalist Paul Sebring and drummer Wade Warfield. What we see in the clip seems to be the live tracks being laid down, though there could be some solo stuff mixed in there as well — Corsair use a lot of lead guitar — but it’s pretty obviously a laid back atmosphere in the studio, lots of laughs, funny faces, goofy voices, early drinking, the occasional pillow positioned as a phallus, and so on. All the usual shenanigans, in other words, which is as it should be.
There aren’t any vocals shown, but we still seem to get enough to get an idea of what Corsair are up to this time around, and it’s cool to get a glimpse of how it came together as it was happening:
Corsair, One Eyed Horse video teaser
Corsair have also released three tracks from the album for streaming on their Bandcamp page, “Ghostlands,” “One Eyed Horse” and “Brothers,” and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include them as well. Once again, One Eyed Horse is out in January 2015 through Shadow Kingdom Records. More to come, I’m sure:
Posted in audiObelisk on September 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I always wanted to be in Lord. Since the days of their 2006 demo, Under the Sign of the Maker’s Mark, the Fredericksburg, Virginia, outfit has been a raging tumult of sludge extremity. Born of the same scene that gave us Valkyrie, VOG, Durga Temple, Ol’ Scratch, Ancient Astronaught and any number of other underrated acts outside the sphere of Richmond’s varied metals and Maryland’s doom yet somehow in line with both, Lord have proved over the years to be the most chaotic, the most turbulent of the pack. On the rare occasion one might see them live, they’re staggering in their intensity, and the sheer fact that they manage to hold it together somehow makes the experience all the more visceral.
The volatility has a price, however. Lord released a full-length debut in 2006’s Built Lord Tough(a play on Ford’s logo appeared on the cover), and that was it until 2011’s riotous Chief(review here), which brought a new lineup and a take more indebted to Southern metal than they had been five years earlier, but was still plenty maddening, vocalist Steven Kerchner adding experimental abrasion by manipulating his screams through a range of effects. Three years after Chief, Lord return with yet another new lineup — you can see why I thought I might’ve had a shot at being in the band — and a brand new four-song EP, Alive in Golgotha, recorded by Vince Burke (Beaten back to Pure/Hail!Hornet) at his own Sniper Studios.
Comprised here of Kerchner, guitarist/vocalist Will Rivera and drummer/bassist Stephen Sullivan — the lineup has already changed again to the four-piece pictured above; Rivera, Kerchner, bassist Chris Dugay (Reticle) and drummer Kevin “Skip” Marrimow (Ol’ Scratch, Palkoski) — Lord are no less a beast than they’ve ever been, the opening cut “We Own the Storms” setting a quick reaffirmation that time has not dulled the band’s edge or tamed their ferocity. Fast, aggressive, almost punk in its rawness, “We Own the Storms” leads to the more decidedly Southern “What You May Call the Devil is Amongst Us,” reminiscent of the last album’s grooving take. “With Reaching Hooves” jumps back and forth between grinding verses and a sludgy chorus, giving a tension/release vibe before moving into a heavy rock shuffle masterfully balanced in Burke‘s mix, and the closing semi-title-track, “Golgotha,” offers the EP’s most lethal groove of the bunch and speaks to the realization of the potential that’s been in Lord‘s chemical imbalance all along.
Lord will reportedly be hitting the studio again next month to record for a split EP with Black Blizzard, so maybe Alive in Golgothawill mark a turning point for the band in terms of activity. If history has shown anything with these guys, though, it’s that you never really know what’s coming next. I’ll never get to be in the band — Kerchner‘s a better screamer than I ever was anyway — but I’m thrilled to host a full stream of Alive in Golgothaahead of the release on Heavy Hound Records. Please find it below, and enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
To keep up with Lord and get more info on Alive in Golgotha, as well as to score a copy, check the links.
Posted in audiObelisk on August 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Among the many Main Stage acts on the Roadburn lineup this year, few bands left the kind of impression Richmond, Virginia’s Windhand seemed to leave. After their set, which was on the third day of the fest proper, Saturday, April 12, you could hear their name being talked about for the rest of the evening outside the 013 in Tilburg: “Dude, did you see Windhand?” The five-piece had obviously made an impression with their 2013 Relapse label debut, Soma(review here), and they followed that up with a blistering live set that, come the fall, will be available as an exclusive vinyl release on Burning World Records and Outer Battery Records.
The opener from that set, recorded and mixed by Marcel van de Vondervoort and mastered by James Plotkin, was “Orchard,” but that’s only if you want to be technical about it. Really, the opener for the set was about a solid minute of gut-wrenching feedback from which the initial riff eventually oozed. Soon enough, Windhand are underway with the track’s doomly lurch, but they’re barely there at all before you can hear the audience get into it on the recording. Roadburn may have been a stop for Windhand on a longer tour, one that seems nearly endless with the road-time the band puts in — they’re out again in the States next month (dates below) — but after listening to the captured results, there can be little question it was a landmark both for them and for those who got to see them play.
If you were there, Live at Roadburn 2014is a chance to relive that moment. If you weren’t there, it’s still about as quality a live recording of Windhand as you’re going to get, so I don’t really see how you could lose. The LP is available now to preorder, and you can hear “Orchard” on the player below. Please enjoy:
Windhand will release the vinyl-only Live at Roadburn 2014 late September/October on Burning World Records (EU preorder here) and Outer Battery Records (US preorder here). The pressing is limited to 400 copies in the US. Windhand also head out on tour starting Sept. 4 with All Them Witches. Dates follow:
Windhand tour with All Them Witches: 9/4 Baltimore, MD – Ottobar 9/5 Pittsburgh, PA – 31st St Pub 9/6 Akron, OH – Musica 9/7 Columbus, OH – The Basement 9/9 Iowa City, IA – Gabe’s 9/10 Chicago, IL – Cobra Lounge 9/11 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock 9/12 Milwaukee, WI – Metal Grill 9/13 Ferndale, MI – Loving Touch 9/14 Toronto, ON – Coda 9/16 Ottawa, ON – Cafe Dekcuf 9/17 Montreal, QC – Petit Campus 9/18 Cambridge, MA – Middle East (upstairs) 9/19 Providence, RI – AS220 9/20 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus Bar
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
As a general stance, I’m way down with single-song releases. I feel like a lot of the time they’re what a band is building toward and then afterwards they have to be even more creative because, well, they’ve already done that, so what next? They show ambition and a will to challenge a progression to come to its fullest point. Richmond, Virginia’s Inter Arma have a sound more than varied enough to pull off a single-song release, and while I’d question calling their upcoming The Cavernouting an EP at 40 minutes long, when one considers the fact that their 2013 Relapse debut, Sky Burial(track stream here), was over the hour mark, it probably makes more sense.
This is one I’ll hope to hear. The PR wire has details, preorder links and an audio sample featuring Windhand vocalist Dorthia Cottrell:
INTER ARMA: Announce The Cavern EP, Release Album Trailer
40-Minute Single-Song EP to See October 14th Release
Richmond, VA genre-destroying metallers INTER ARMA are set to release a brand new, 40+ minute, single song EP entitled The Cavern this Fall. Originally written during the summer of 2009, but reworked and perfected over the last few years, The Cavern was recorded last year during breaks from the relentless touring the band did with the likes of Baroness, Russian Circles, Ulcerate and numerous others. The recording was captured with producer Mikey Allred at Dark Art Studios in Madison, TN, the same surroundings and setup that captured last year’s monolithic Sky Burial LP.
Shifting from Americana laced extreme metal to doom to stoner rock to prog all within a single song, INTER ARMA’s The Cavern is an opus that will surely be heralded for years to come as a work of true artistic vision and endurance. A sample of The Cavern which also features guest vocals from Windhand’s Dorthia Cottrell can be heard HERE.
The EP will see its official release in North America on October 14th, in the UK/World on October 13th and in Germany/Benelux/Finland on October 10th. Physical pre-orders are currently availablevia this locationwith digital pre-orders availableHERE.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been seven long years since Virginian rockers Valkyrie issued their second album, Man of Two Visions, and wow that’s a long time. MeteorCity did a reissue in 2010, and they’ve continued to play shows every now and again, brotherly guitar duo Jake and Pete Adams (the latter of Baroness and now also guesting with the Samhain reunion) coordinating around family lives, member flux, Pete‘s tour schedule, etc., more or less gigging when able, but yeah, the years have gone quick. Valkyrie were always a killer band, and I frickin’ loved Man of Two Visions when that came out, so I’ll be interested to hear what they’ve got in store for their third long-player, which Relapse has picked up for an early 2015 release following a recording session with Sanford Parker.
The PR wire puts it like this:
VALKYRIE Sign to Relapse Records; Complete Recording New Album
Relapse Records is proud to announce the signing of Virginia hard rock riff worshippers VALKYRIE. Formed in 2002, VALKYRIE consists of brothers Jake and Pete Adams (Baroness, Samhain) on guitar and vocals, Alan Fary (Earthling) on bass and Warren Hawkins on drums. Drawing heavily from the classic eras of hard rock and heavy metal, VALKYRIE play guitar driven rock n’ roll replete with infectious solos and catchy, powerful vocals. The band has drawn numerous comparisons to greats like Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, early Iron Maiden, and Deep Purple.
The quartet has released two full-lengths along with a series of EPs and singles. VALKYRIE recently recorded their first full-length in over 7 years at Earth Analog Studios in Champaign, IL with producer Sanford Parker (Nachtmystium, Pelican) earlier this month. The eight song album will see an early 2015 release via Relapse.
Guitarist / vocalist Jake Adams commented on the signing and new material:
“We are really excited about this new record. Some of these songs we have been working on for many years and we are glad to see them have a proper release on an excellent label. This new record will be a step up in terms of song dynamics and musicianship from the previous albums. We think our fans will dig the fresh approach to the classic Valkyrie sound.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Available as of today through Trash King Productions in North America and Bad Omen Records in Europe, the new Black Souls b/w There’s No Escapin’ (The Power of Satan) 7″ from Virginian scum rockers Satan’s Satyrs is that trio’s first release since the arrival of their 2012 debut, Wild Beyond Belief!, a record that — true to the band’s biker-cult aesthetic — earned fervent underground appreciation. Their catchy, blown-out, raw doom punk is well intact on “Black Souls,” and the three-piece hit the road this week to start a tour mostly on the East Coast to mark the single’s release, with clear orange vinyl and art from Adam Burke that fits almost too well.
Dates, info and the track “Black Souls” follow, courtesy of the PR wire:
TRASH KING PRODUCTIONS #009
Satan’s Satyrs return with their first studio release since 2012’s “Wild Beyond Belief” and it is nothing short of electrifying. “Black Souls” the lead-off single from their upcoming “Die Screaming” LP is a wild ride out of the dungeon that spawned them into a three-dimensional orgy of forbidden delights. Swirling guitars, grinding bass, and thundering drums propel their sound to new heights of rock and roll abandon. Never has their potent blend of psychedelic-hard-blooze-rock-a-punk-a-rolla sounded so crystal clear, and yet so earthshakingly heavy. This release marks their first recordings as a full band, with none other than Don Zientara (Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Fugazi) of Inner Ear Studios at the board. Recorded 100% analog, with real instruments- this young power trio lays waste to bands twice their age. Backed with a USA exclusive instrumental b-side that brings to mind the classic soundtracks of yore, this record is released in an extremely limited edition. Don’t delay, order today, and whet your appetite for the rock and roll experience of 2014: “DIE SCREAMING”- THE LP!
We’ve got a batch of US tour dates this April to coincide with the release of our new 7″ single “Black Souls.”
4/3 Philadelphia, PA @ Millcreek Tavern 4/4 Brooklyn, NY @ The Acheron 4/5 Wallingford, CT @ Knuckleheads 4/6 Providence, RI @ Dusk 4/7 Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar 4/8 Buffalo, NY @ The Lair 4/9 Lakewood, OH @ The Foundry 4/10 Indianapolis, IN @ Satellite Distribution & Wholesale 4/18 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter w/ MIDNIGHT 4/19 Washington, D.C. @ Mary Graydon Center w/ PENTAGRAM
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Centered around their slot at Roadburn on April 10, Virginian dual-guitar fuzz rockers Freedom Hawk will embark April 5 on a stint that will also take them through Germany, Belgium and France over the course of a week of shows. The four-piece have been working on a follow-up to 2011’s Small Stone debut, Holding On (review here), and with new material expected in their set, their next full-length is due to be recorded over the summer for an early-2015 release.
The PR wire has the particulars:
Small Stone Records and Eclipse Productions Presents: Freedom Hawk (USA) European Tour including Roadburn Festival appearance
In April of 2014, the band known as Freedom Hawk will swoop into Europe complete with their shredding heavy riffs, rolling groove and soulful guitar melodies wrapped in metal packaging. They will be performing at a short run of club shows in Germany, Belgium, France, and Netherlands including an appearance at Roadburn in Tilburg, Netherlands. After tearing up SXSW last year, many showcase events and club shows in the U.S., this unsuspecting and highly underrated group is honored to be invited to the highly coveted Roadburn festival and will be ready to embrace European fans of heavy rock with open talons.
Hailing from the barrier dunes of Virginia, this quartet’s brand of heavy, dark stoner rock fueled by the sun coupled with a high energy live show, leaves many scratching their heads wondering if they’ve stepped through a time warp that has taken them to rock’s heyday of the 70’s. With their latest release ‘Holding On’ coursing through the night air for several years now , the album has had time to embed in the minds of many and grow on others to be regarded as a must have in any music collection.
You surely will not want to miss their live show that will be sure to include one or two unreleased new tunes feathered into the set list to test out on the European audience much like the one titled “Blood Red Sky” that has been exposed to the US audiences. Unfortunately for Europe, Freedom Hawk will need to get back to their creative home nest to continue working on their new full-length album set with the band to record in late summer. The new album is anticipated to be released to the masses via Small Stone Records in late 2014/early 2015 in hopes to please the need of the faithful and newcomers alike.
From the casual rock’n’roller to the rebellious riff-rastler, none of which will be put out to past, it’s guaranteed these new tunes will want to be heard on full blast. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and go get their latest album, Holding On, on CD or your usual digital providers like iTunes, Amazon, etc. and if you’re lucky 180g Vinyl on the bands merch table or at your local record store as they are sold out via Small Stone Records. Regardless, their latest album is sure to please in any format! Let’s Rawk!
Freedom Hawk Tour Dates:
April 5 Siegen, Germany VORTEX April 6 Antwerp, Belgium AMC April 7 Paris, France Le Glazart April 8 Dusseldorf, Germany The Pitcher April 9 Berlin, Germany Jagerklause April 10 Tilburg, Netherlands **Roadburn Festival April 11 Wurzburg, Germany Immerhin April 12 Munster, Germany RARE Guitar
New Merch available on-line now and on the merch table.
The STB Records vinyl for Virginian psychedelic doomers Druglord‘s Enter Venuscomes in three editions. The “diehard” is limited to 48 copies, has custom art from W. Ralph Walters, and comes with foil stamp, hand-numbered, clear vinyl with “dopesmoke” green splatter. An “OBI” version is what it sounds like — it comes with an OBI strip in Japanese and English. The vinyl is green with a white swirl and it’s limited to 90 copies. Given the quality of the presentation and its still-limited pressing of 115 copies, I hesitate to call third version “standard,” but I suppose of you think of it as a “high standard,” it makes more sense.
As ever, my photos don’t do the package justice. W.Ralph Walters‘ cover is part-glossy and part-matte on the front and back, the platter is the same milky-clear/green splatter as the diehard version, and both the cover and the liner sleeve are of a stock thick enough to do justice to the four cuts on Enter Venusitself, which hurls forth an otherworldly swirl of low end rumble and psychedelic echo. The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist/organist Tommy Hamilton, bassist Greta Brinkman and drummer Hufknell have reveled in righteous-order aural fuckery since (probably before) their 2010 self-titled demo (review here), and while 2011’s Motherfucker Rising(review here) expanded that form, Enter Venusis in a different class of sonic fullness. A recording job by Windhand‘s Garrett Morris positions the guitar and bass at the fore with Hufknell‘s cymbal wash behind and the vocals calling out as through trapped within the barrage of languid, drawling riffs.
On headphones, Enter Venusis all the more consuming, through the opening “Grievous Heaving” — still the best description I’ve encountered for Druglord‘s sound — and “Feast on the Eye” on side A, but particularly into the depths of side B’s “Enter Venus” and the closing “Let us Bleed.” This is something that was true of STB‘s limited tape version (review here), but while the tape benefited from the claustrophobic compression of the format, the LP — set for 45RPM presumably so that if you want to play it even more inhumanely slow than it already is, you can — likewise capitalizes on the expansive breadth and clarity. It’s like staring at a really clear blur. Hamilton, Brinkman and Hufknell shift into ambience here and there, as on the title-track, but the sense of plod is never completely gone, and at atmosphere of horror emerges not just because the lyrics (presented in the inner sleeve) throw in lines like “Rest in pieces/Ripped up and thrown in the grave” in “Let us Bleed” and “Haunt me forever/Demons underneath my skin” in “Grievous Heaving.” Vocals are often indecipherable without the lyric sheet. It’s the overarching dreadful impression of the vocals along with the morass of distortion, all of it taken together, that results in the brutal sensibility.
All told, the LP checks in at 27 minutes, so one could hardly accuse it of overstaying its welcome, but even just with two songs on each side and both sides clocking in under 15 minutes, there’s no lack of substance. An opening sample gives darkly religious overtones and from there it’s a slow-motion slaughter. Still, the vivid colors of the packaging in which Enter Venusarrives suit it well, playing to the psychedelic elements brought through in the recording, which even if they’re brought forth in a grueling, wretched manner hold strong to an otherworldly feel. It just so happens that the other world is populated by monsters.
Today I have the extreme pleasure in addition to checking out the vinyl itself of hosting a full stream of the album. Find it on the player below and please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
The Enter VenusLP is available now for preorder through STB Records and will be released Feb. 22. More info at the following links:
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 Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Virginia fuzzdudes Freedom Hawk have been confirmed for Roadburn 2014. The four-piece are a lock. Now it’s just a matter of paying for it. They could’ve probably done a Kickstarter or something, but everybody’s got one of those, and frankly, “Hey pay for my flight and here’s the vague promise of some future reward,” doesn’t inspire much confidence. Freedom Hawk are a classically-styled band, so they’re taking a classic approach. They’re selling music and merch.
The full story of how the recording of Live at the Jewish Mothercame to be you can see below — essentially it’s a bootleg; soundboard recording, I’d grade it an A for quality — but I wanted to feature the tracks here because for a $5 download, you’re getting something pretty killer and Freedom Hawk are a good band who are going to kill it on the continent. Music and info are below, merch and such is at their Bandcamp.
Freedom Hawk, Live at the Jewish Mother (2013)
Please donate to our European Tour fund raiser to ensure we get there! This a Live Bootleg Recording @ The Jewish Mother, November 23, 2011/The night before Thanksgiving (which happens to be our 8yr anniversary) unknown to the band by Matthew Archerson (sp?) who gave the tracks to Chris Kendrick in the Influence band on the bill that night before he disappeared to LA. Club sound guy got a hold of em and mixed it and gave it to us 2 months ago. Matthew wherever you are – thank you!
Also added are some very limited merch items that include downloads and a limited (50) edition of of our 2008 Sunlight CD in Digipack packaging that includes immediate download.
The live tracks includes tracks off Sunlight and tracks off the S/T release — mixed but unmastered. “Bad Man” and “Stand Back” are very different than the recordings. This live recording is kind of a bootleg really… A dude who was with another band that played that night recorded us on his MacBook Pro hooked into the soundboard (we can’t even confirm if he had the sound engineer’s permission/or if the sound guy knew?). Well long story short the tracks surfaced via the other band’s guitarist (Chris Kendrick) giving it to the sound engineer who also mixed it (Jim Woodling of Phunk Junkies bass player/Highland Studios, Phoenix, AZ).
Jim mixed it for us and gave it to us a month or so ago. We thought it was ok enough to offer to the public to help fund our European tour expenses while not having to stoop to Indiegogo or some other “give me money” scheme. We also put up merch there too that is very limited. The tracks will be combined for inclusion on a European only CD for sale on our Euro Tour/Roadburn performance only. Several of the unreleased live tracks may also show up on a bonus CD included with our new SS album (if it is determined SS worthy quality) we are putting together for a 2014 release (exact date TBD). All donations go directly to our Euro flight purchases!!!
It’s a rather formidable group of bands playing Stoner Hands of Doom XIII, and I won’t lie, part of the reason I wanted to do this “10 Days of SHoD XIII” series was because of the drama that surrounds this year’s fest. Early last month, founder and promoter Rob Levey bowed out of Stoner Hands of Doom XIII, saying simply that his heart wasn’t in it anymore. Understandable. Levey‘s work at the head of SHoD has gone unnoticed and underappreciated for more than a decade; some measure of burnout is not only expected but damn near mandatory. It was the timing of it, with bands and venue booked, tours in place and all systems go about a month before the event itself, that created such a stir. If Levey had said in May he didn’t want to do it anymore, I don’t think anyone would have been able to argue he should keep going in what for years has been a passion-driven endeavor.
Neither is this the first time Stoner Hands of Doom has called it quits. Between 2010 and 2012, it looked like the festival — which over the years has taken place in Ohio, Arizona, Germany, Oregon, Maryland, and so on — was done for. Last year’s fest in New London, Connecticut, was killer but poorly attended. Richmond, Virginia, where SHoD XIII will take place at Strange Matter from Nov. 7-10, is home to a slew of creative heavy acts, from Valkyrie to Lord and many more on the bill, and I assume it was Levey‘s hope that by delving into the local scene, the festival would be able to capitalize on a grassroots, word-of-mouth kind of promotion from the bands. Whether or not that happened, I don’t know. I don’t have numbers on ticket sales, but the fact of the matter is I think SHoD, both with its history and its impending lineup for this coming weekend, is a cause worth supporting in any way I can. Obviously Brendan Burns of The Eye of the StonedGoat,who stepped in to take Levey‘s place as the promoter, felt similarly. However things turn out, his efforts are to be commended.
I won’t be traveling to Virginia this weekend, contrary to my initial plans, and we close out the series tomorrow with an interview with Beelzefuzz guitarist/vocalist Dana Ortt, but I just wanted to get one more plug in for what I feel is a perfect example of some of the best in doom’s motivations. If this is or isn’t the final installment of Stoner Hands of Doom, it will have lived and died as a festival put on out of love for music and the community of people making it. Long live SHoD.
Posted in Features on November 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Richmond natives Gritter have been banging around abrasive sludge metal since they started out as Rube with the Angry at the Missus EP in 2009 (review here). That record worked within some engaging-if-familiar sludge methods, but it was clear Gritter had outgrown even a year later when they switched monikers and put out the Vince Burke-recorded Sour Mash and Spanish MossLP (review here). Likewise, it seems their 2013 six-song EP, Welcome to the Sinkhole, put to tape by Kevin Willoughby, is another jump in approach, if not in the band’s actual name, taking cues less from underground sludge and more in the modern Southern metal of Lamb of God on songs like “Black Teeth” and “Welcome to the Sinkhole” itself. If it seems like a fine line, there are times where it is, but because most of Welcome to the Sinkholekeeps an upbeat push to its chugging riffs and because vocalist Ryan Kent has dialed back some of his Phil Anselmo-isms, Gritter emerge from their latest outing sounding their most individualized yet. Also metal. Very, very metal.
I have yet to post something about this band — Kent on vocals, Adam Kravitz on guitar, Justin Wolz on bass and Kevin White on drums — and not have someone they’ve rubbed the wrong way chime in about it (you can check the comments on past reviews for proof if you’d like), but I think there’s something to be said for an act who elicit a strong response one way or another, and it’s hard not to have an opinion listening to Welcome to the Sinkhole. Superficially, the elements at work are familiar, but to dig below the surface of a song like “Sayonara” is to reveal something not only ably structured in terms of its verse and chorus progression, but a thick, professionally-presented groove. Kent‘s balance of screams and cleaner singing adds drive to the arrangements throughout, whether it’s propelling the adrenaline of “Bowie” or adding just a touch of melody to the early verses in “Sayonara,” and the music behind him is no less thoughtfully constructed. I’m not sure where the animosity comes from, but there are a whole lot of bands out there working from a similar base of influence as Gritter on Welcome to the Sinkholewho don’t put as much of themselves into their songs as these guys seem to do.
The penultimate instrumental “Sea of Trees” makes a well-placed change of pace after four pummelers in a row, and a linear build not only showcases the foursome’s ability to work in more than verse/chorus songwriting, but provides a lead-in to the resurgent aggression of closer “Drunk Tank,” also the longest song on Welcome to the Sinkhole at 5:51, the extra time dedicated to a stretch of this-is-the-mosh-part riffing and a final slowdown that only makes the chugging more vicious and which Kent can’t seem to help himself from topping with like-minded screams and venomous spitting. Can’t say I blame him. Gritter‘s sound is less burly than some, but lacks nothing for chestbeating, and with the crisp production and clear intent toward Southern metal brutality, they’re just about asking for every scream they get. After three years since their last release, they’re almost frighteningly mature on Welcome to the Sinkhole, and whatever attention they’re able to glean from it is attention earned more or less by a punch in the face. Something tells me these guys are alright with pissing people off.
Gritter play Stoner Hands of Doom XIII on Thursday, Nov. 7, at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia, sharing the bill that night with Clamfight, Druglord, Compel, Pillbuster and more. Welcome to the Sinkholewas released in July in a variety of vinyl editions — black and red swirl, white with black swirl, lavender with black swirl — as well as on CD and download, all of which (except for some of the vinyl, which is sold out) are available from the band via Bandcamp, from whence I also nabbed the player with the album below:
Posted in Features on November 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
After making their Relapse debut earlier this year with the Reflection of the Negative split with fellow Richmond, Virginia, natives Cough, ultra-doomed five-piece Windhand unleashed Soma (review here), their sophomore full-length behind a 2012 self-titled (streamed here). At 75 minutes long, it’s a formidable undertaking before you even get to the dark sensibilities the band proffers throughout in songs like “Woodbine,” the sprawling “Cassock” or half-hour-long closer “Boleskine,” varying in intensity and tension while toying with a grueling pace throughout, expanding beyond the relatively straightforward riff-led approach of the first album and into atmospherics that make Somaall the more individualized.
Windhand toured heavily for the first LP, which was released on ForcefieldRecords,and seem already to be keeping the ethic intact in support of Soma. Already they spent September into early October going coast-to-coast on a full US tour. Tonight, Nov. 1, they begin a run of dates in Europe alongside Pilgrim that will go for more than three weeks, and upon their return to the States, they’ll pick up five days later and do the West Coast and Canada along with Kvelertak and High on Fire. Both runs are a continuation of the momentum Windhand has established through consistent road-time, and the new album seems certain to receive its due as well. Here are the tour dates:
01/11 BE Ghent Charlatan
02/11 NL Venlo Mudfest
03/11 FR Paris t.b.a.
04/11 UK Birmingham Asylum
05/11 UK Manchester Star & Garter
06/11 UK London Our Black Heart
08/11 ES Barcelona Rocksound
09/11 ES Madrid Rock & Pop
10/11 ES Bilbao Sentinel Rock Bar
11/11 FR Bordeaux Heretic Club
12/11 FR Paris Le Club
14/11 NL Tilburg Little Devil
15/11 DK Aalborg 1000 Fryd
16/11 SE Gothenburg Truckstop Alaska
17/11 DK Copenhagen KB18
18/11 DE Hamburg Rote Flora
19/11 DE Berlin Cassiopeia
20/11 DE Leipzig Zoro
21/11 AT Wien Vrena
22/11 DE Günzburg Donaustüble
23/11 DE Köln MTC
24/11 NL Amsterdam Occii
with High on Fire and Kvelertak
11/29 Lawrence, KS Granada Theatre
11/30 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
12/02 Winnipeg, MB West End Cultural Center
12/04 Edmonton, AB Starlite Room
12/05 Calgary, AB Republik
12/07 Vancouver, BC Venue Vancouver
12/08 Seattle, WA El Corazon
12/09 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theater
12/11 San Francisco, CA Regency Center Grand Ballroom
12/12 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre
As they’ve already been confirmed for Roadburn 2014 and the next installment of Heavy Days in Doomtown, you can expect much more to come on Windhand. The band is comprised of vocalist Dorthia Cottrell, guitarist/recording engineer Garrett Morris, guitarist Asechaiah Bogdan, bassist Parker Chandler (also of Cough) and drummer Ryan Wolfe. Cottrell recently took some time out to talk about the making of Soma and how their road ethic came into play in terms of putting the album together, plus the European dates — it’s their first time out of the country — prospects for 2014 and much more.