Druglord to Release New Day Dying Sept. 14

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Been a minute since we last heard from Druglord, but the Richmond dirge-doomers are back with a new album, titled New Day Dying following up on their 2015 EP, Deepest Regrets (review here), and despite a shift in lineup, they sound as miserable and misanthropic as ever. Proof, you ask? Well, you can check out the track “Walk with God” now via the Bandcamp player below courtesy of the trio’s new label, Sludgelord Records, and hear the special kind of madness for yourself. Their new allegiance with Sludgelord follows putting out Deepest Regrets and their prior full-length, Enter Venus (review here), on STB Records, after their 2011’s debut Motherfucker Rising (review here), which was self-released.

Other art and info follow here, courtesy of the social medias:

druglord new day dying

Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Druglord were formed in 2010 and during June 2011, the band recorded 6 songs at Etching Tin Studios, which were intended for demo purposes but ended up being released as the “Motherfucker Rising” LP on Last Anthem Records in October 2012.

This activity resulted in STB Records offering to release the next LP. In July 2013, the band began recording with Garrett Morris of Windhand in his former recording space known as The Darkroom, and the result was the “Enter Venus” LP, which was released in Feb. 2014. The band would also release the “Deepest Regrets” EP on STB Records in December 2015.

in Feb 2017 the band started recording 6 new songs (their first with new bassist Julian Cook) with Garrett Morris in his current space, Phantom Sound Recording And Reproduction. Fast forward to 2018 and these recordings will be released as “New Day Dying”, their first album in 4 years set for release via Sludgelord Records on 14th September 2018.

Sludgelord Records 2018 (SLR012) preorder is live.

Tracklisting:
1. Blood And Body
2. Walk With God
3. Rot Of This Earth
4. Buried Demons
5. The Flesh Is Weak
6. New Day Dying

Recorded by: Garrett Morris @ Phantom Sound Recording & Reproduction
Mastered by: Bill McElroy @ Slipped Disc Audio
Artwork by: Maxime Taccardi

Druglord is:
Julian Cook | Bass
Tommy Hamilton | Guitars & Vocals
Hufknell | Drums

www.facebook.com/DruglordVA/
https://www.instagram.com/druglordva/
https://druglord.bandcamp.com/
https://druglord.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SludgelordRecords/
http://instagram.com/sludgelordrecords
https://thesludgelord.bandcamp.com/album/new-day-dying

Druglord, New Day Dying (2018)

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Friday Full-Length: RPG, Full Time

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Some records are born and bred for shenanigans. Based out of Richmond, Virginia, the four-piece Southern heavy punkers RPG made their debut with 2004’s Full Time on Arclight Records, and with it they collected 13 tracks of straight-ahead anti-bullshit rowdiness, careening through boozy riffs and pub-fare vibes on their way to a seemingly inevitable crashout. Influences like The Stooges and MC5 go without saying, but their punk roots ran deeper than that. One imagines them at some point taking a stage alongside Zeke and absolutely leveling everything in their path, but RPG‘s Full Time isn’t just about speed, or a brash attitude. In two-minute cuts like “Clockin’ In” and the strutting “Crash Bam Boom” there are hooks that speak to a rock classicism that one finds manifest in bands like Roadsaw and The Brought Low. Come to think of it, how these guys didn’t wind up on Small Stone Records at the time is something of a mystery. Nothing against Arclight — they had some killer releases, including Amplified HeatCardinale and the first The Book of Knots record — but RPG would’ve been a more-than-decent fit as labelmates alongside the likes of Dixie Witch and The Glasspack, and it just never happened for whatever reason. Still, Full Time holds up remarkably well for the 14 years that have passed since its release, and whether it’s the opening shove of “Nazi Mindreader” or the unhinged workaday garage rock of “Untuck It,” the whole outing brims with an energy that’s almost too easy to read as a Friday-night tension blowoff; beers downed, riffs unleashed.

It’s the kind of party where, one way or another, somebody is losing their keys. Maybe they show up again, maybe they don’t. But screw it, that car was junk anyway, and when RPG kick into the start-stop tension of “Standstill Blues,” who’d want to go anywhere anyhow? Like all of the cuts surrounding on the 29-minute full-length — half-hour set put to tape; maybe a minute left to tune between songs if that’s your thing — “Standstill Blues” is short and sharp at about two and a half minutes. As it should, the shortest of the bunch, “Lose It” (1:27) — for which they also made a video — arrives as a burst of electroshock therapy next to the relative sprawl of the longest cut, “Paralyzed” (3:07), which takes a full 37 seconds before starting its first verse; an anomaly given much of what’s around it. Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Matt Conner, guitarist John Partin, drummer Mike Marunde and bassist Tony Brown (since replaced by Bunny Wells), the band hit the brakes a little bit on “Early ’72,” but “You Gotta Know” before it and “Ghetto Rose” after are ragers, the latter with a motor-ready tear-ass winding riff that’s here and gone before it even has time to show up on the radar gun. The rest of the record continues basically in form, somewhat malleable in tempo, but never veering from its rpg full timecentral purpose in the drunkard punkard, “Crash Bam Boom” capping with a blown-out insistence that’s a punch to the face even among its compatriot cuts, and “Can’t Get Any Sleep,” which boasts the line, “I cannot have the American dream/If I can’t get any sleep,” seems to say more than it even intends in terms of working class blues.

They cap with “20 Year Old Idiot,” which seems to compare whoever it’s about to an idiot 10 years their senior and judge them to be pretty much the same, and one last urge to motion in “Song of Evil,” as Conner‘s bullhorn-esque vocals and his scorching guitar lead seem to both be delivering the identical message — last call, folks. So be it. RPG have, by then, left the room with its ass thoroughly kicked — I imagine a basement venue somewhere in deep downtown Manhattan or, just maybe, The Continental with its shot specials and Bingo working the front door — and have made their point. Their rhythm and forward drive are straight out of classic punk, but their tones come from more of a heavy rock kind of place, like they grew up and decided to buy some better gear. Also to write songs. And whatever else Full Time does in leaving tire tracks across its listeners’ heads, it does have songs. The quality of RPG‘s material, of the guitar interplay between Conner and Partin, of not just the speed but the character of groove from Brown and Marunde, helps to keep it as relevant now as when it was released, if not more so, given the fact that, though a new audience generation has come up in the interim, that generation is now established in much the same way the prior one was by 2004 when RPG came along. I remember when Full Time first came out thinking it was a little more punk than I really wanted. I guess maybe I grew into it since then.

RPG put out long-players in 2008’s Worth the Weight and 2012’s High Loathsome, both of which had some longer songs — the opening track on the latter was over five minutes! — and a bit more of a stylistically dynamic approach, but that wasn’t really what Full Time was about. Full Time was and still is about getting in, smashing up the place, and getting back out again. There’s no pretense otherwise and there doesn’t need to be. It’s an exceptionally efficient delivery and for as much beer as the album seems to down, it’s remarkably clearheaded along its path. At least mostly. By their once-every-four-years pace, RPG are two years overdue for a fourth album and I’m not actually sure what their status is as their social medias hasn’t been updated since they celebrated their 15th anniversary with a Hardywood Park beer release in 2015 — the RPG IPA was a dark ale with 7 percent ABV that did pretty well in Beer Advocate — playing a show at the brewery in Richmond. If you were forcing me to guess what they’ve been up to since, I’d probably say, I don’t know, life? The kind of life that doesn’t require an update on Thee Facebooks?

Good for them, I suppose. Or hope. Either way, Full Time still holds up, and as always, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Rough week. Most of it was a blur, but a rough blur. The Patient Mrs., The Pecan, The Little Dog Dio and I left New Jersey yesterday afternoon to sit in traffic en route to Connecticut, and we won’t be back until at least probably Aug. 21. This coming week is Psycho Las Vegas and because the flight was booked super-early and I didn’t know we’d be staying in NJ basically the whole summer, I’m flying out of Boston. So we came here to stay for a couple days and then will head north in time for me to fly out on Thursday at like 6:40AM or whatever it is. Early. Not like I won’t be up, but still. That’s early for taking your shoes off at security and all that rigmarole.

Whatever. At the end of that process is Psycho Las Vegas, though I’ve no idea how to get from the airport to the hotel. I suck at that kind of thing. Planes land right on the strip now, right? “Uh, pilot? Please stop at the Hard Rock. Thanks.” Or maybe they have one of those buttons you push on the bus to request a stop. “Roll out the inflatable slide; this is where I get off.” I’ll sort it out. Or maybe I’ll get lost and wander off into the desert, never to be heard from again. If that happens, it’s been real.

Of course, with that massive festival ahead, that will dominate next week’s schedule, but there are news and videos and premieres and stuffs besides that need to get posted, so here’s a look at the subject-to-change-duh notes:

Mon.: Tour dates for Earth Ship & Rising presented by The Obelisk; Sons of Alpha Centauri video.
Tue.: Some review; Fuzz Forward video.
Wed.: Backwoods Payback video premiere/review; Son of the Morning video.
Thu: Spacetrucker album stream/review; Vision Éternel video.
Fri.: Psycho Las Vegas review
Sat.: Psycho Las Vegas review
Sun.: Psycho Las Vegas review
Mon.: Psycho Las Vegas review

Since I travel Monday, I’ll probably take Tuesday off if I can or use it to finish whatever I don’t of the review of Psycho Sunday. We’ll see. I’ll sort it all out. It’s my first time at Psycho, but hardly my first time covering a festival. I have no doubt it’ll be a good time and I’ll have plenty to say about it. Things like, “Vegas is a capitalist cesspool but golly I sure do like riffs and air conditioning!” Review over.

Well, it’s after six and the sun’s up, which means the baby will be soon as well, so I better punch out. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. If you’re going to Psycho, I’ll see you there — I’m the guy with the hippie pants and the cosmic backpack because I’m pushing 40 and just don’t care anymore about anything other than max comfort at any given time — and otherwise, I hope you enjoy the coverage if you get to check any of it out.

Thanks again for reading and please don’t forget the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Windhand Post “Grey Garden” Video; Eternal Return out Oct. 5

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Windhand_ photo by Sally Patti

It seemed doubtful that Virginia’s Windhand would’ve been lying when they said their upcoming album, Eternal Return, was taking them in a different direction, mostly because, why would they? Still, it’s awfully nice to have an example to go from as we head closer to the record’s Oct. 5 release through Relapse Records. And so, with the creepy-image-barrage of the “Grey Garden” video that some site way cooler than this one premiered last week, we get that example. Immediately, it’s the best vocal performance I’ve heard from Dorthia Cottrell. Hands down. She sounds amazing. And behind her, guitarist Garrett Morris, bassist Parker Chandler and drummer Ryan Wolfe unfurl a vision of psychedelic grunge-doom, putting new meaning to the words “produced by Jack Endino” even than those that applied to their last full-length, 2015’s Grief’s Infernal Flower (review here), which the venerable producer also helmed.

The doom-via-grungegaze suits the Richmond four-piece. And “Grey Garden” seems to hold onto the thick low end tonality that’s been crucial to Windhand‘s approach since their first record. But this doesn’t sound like Electric Wizard. Really at all. And that’s a big difference, since even though Windhand had come into their own, they still had that nod at their foundation, and while I wouldn’t necessarily expect “Grey Garden” to represent the entirety of Eternal Return given past variety in their songwriting, it’s telling that it’s the first track they’re breaking out from the album and letting the public hear. They very obviously are trying something new here, and they very obviously want their audience to be prepared for it. Listening to the drift in the midsection and the reemergence of the more weighted tone that follows beneath the scorching, swirling lead, the potential seems to be there for the band to really make a stylistic mark on the greater sphere of doom itself.

I’d recommend you listen twice to really let the hook sink in, to hear the depth in Wolfe‘s snare, to get a handle on the arrival in murk, the departure from it, and the return. I was looking forward to Eternal Return already. My expectations are even higher now.

PR wire info and tour dates follow the video below.

Please enjoy:

Windhand, “Grey Garden” official video

Eternal Return is a complete life-to-death journey. As unplanned things go, it’s an observation of as well as a reflection on life’s ups and downs, joys and sorrows, beginnings and ends. Between the band’s 2015, highly acclaimed Grief’s Infernal Flower, and 2018’s Eternal Return, WINDHAND welcomed new life, survived lineup changes, and mourned unexpected death. The songs and song ordering are the direct result of those experiences. Where “Halcyon” is assured in its opening, the closing track “Feather” is its funeral march.

WINDHAND wrote Eternal Return all throughout the winter. Out of the sessions, “Halcyon,” “Grey Garden,” “Red Cloud,” and the monstrous “Eyeshine” emerged as the heaviest tracks, while “Pilgrim’s Rest,” “Diablerie,” and “Feather” embodied the more reflective side of WINDHAND. The juxtaposition of heavy, psychedelic and pensive is less like Black Sabbath or Sleep and more like Soundgarden or Veruca Salt. But the name-drops aren’t absolute so much as signals of WINDHAND’s ability to stretch beyond genre confines.

Eternal Return represents a new era for the group, a chrysalis moment that takes them to new and unforeseen heights. Boosted by Garrett Morris’ consistently cool riffs-forged at the crossroads of Iommi’s otherworldly import and Kurt Cobain’s spontaneous precocity-powered by Ryan Wolfe and Parker Chandler’s groove-laden rhythms, and propelled by Dorthia Cottrell’s smoky yet wistful vocals, WINDHAND’s new album is a two-step jump for Richmond’s finest purveyors of the psycho-actively heavy. Adorned by Arik Roper’s (Sleep, High on Fire) impressive cover art, Eternal Return not only looks the part of WINDHAND’s artistic growth but sounds the part.

WINDHAND brought Jack Endino back into the fold. Together, they spent two weeks recording at Soundhouse Recording in Seattle. Described as “smooth” and “intense,” the sessions with the famed producer were just what WINDHAND wanted. Endino also understood the group’s artistic progression, chiefly the admiration of and blending in late ’80s/early ’90s grunge. Out of it all, WINDHAND continued to refactor and refine their vision of heavy. A new era of psychedelic heaviness is upon us with WINDHAND’s genre-blurring Eternal Return. Sweet, fuzzed-out oblivion has never been closer…

WINDHAND LIVE DATES:
10/08: Atlanta, GA – The Earl #
10/09: New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa #
10/10: Houston TX – White Oak Music Hall #
10/11: Dallas, TX – Club Dada #
10/12: Austin, TX – Barracuda #
10/14: Albuquerque, NM – Sister #
10/15: Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar #
10/16: Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre #
10/17: Oakland, CA – Starline Social Club #
10/19: Portland, OR – Aladdin Theatre #
10/20: Vancouver, BC – Venue #
10/21: Seattle, WA – Neumos #
10/23: Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge #
10/24: Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room #
11/01: Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts #
11/02: Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere #
11/03: Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall #
11/04: Montreal, QC – Le Belmont #
11/05: Toronto, ON – The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern #
11/07: Chicago, IL – Subterranean #
11/08: Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Cafe #
11/09: Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club #
11/10: Indianapolis, IN – The Hi-Fi #
11/11: Nashville, TN – The Basement East #
11/12: Louisville, KY – Zanzabar #
11/13: Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups #
11/15: Richmond, VA – The Broadberry #
# – w/ Satan’s Satyrs

Windhand on Thee Facebooks

Windhand on Instagram

Windhand on Bandcamp

Relapse Records website

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Lord Post Two New Videos; Still Breaking Up

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

lord

Yup, Lord are still breaking up. As they announced earlier in July, their last show is this coming Saturday in Baltimore. I’ve been a fan for a while, and I’ll be honest, their impending demise kind of has me down. Makes me feel old, and not in that “I found another gray beard hair and am slowly becoming Gandalf the White” kind way. In the exhausted kind of way, where every exhale seems to be a sigh. I know it has nothing to do with me, their calling it a day, but I’ve been a fan for a long time and I always thought they were something special. They’ve never really gotten their due. And unless they have one of those band-breaks-up-and-gets-huge things happening, that due probably won’t ever come. It’s a bummer.

As I said before, Lord go out on their high-watermark achievement in their new album, Desperation Finds Hunger in All Men (review here), which is officially released Aug. 24. Strange to think of a record that’s so vital as being posthumous, but there it is. True to their word, they’re continuing to support the collection despite intentions to disband, and they have two new videos up. The first is a regular-style performance clip, well shot, for “Whispering Snakes,” and the second is live footage for “La Fleur du Cobalt.” Both songs are, of course, from Desperation Finds Hunger in All Men, and I think each one showcases a different side of the energy that made Lord have such an impact on the listener.

I don’t for one second imagine this will be the last time I post about them, but it’ll probably be the last time before this Saturday, so I’ll just note one more time that indeed, Lord will be missed.

Videos follow here, as well as some comment from the band via the PR wire about the live track.

Please enjoy:

Lord, “Whispering Snakes” official video

Lord, “La Fleur du Cobalt” Live in Falls Church, VA

The band commented “La Fleur Du Cobalt” is one my favorite songs from the album to play live. In our recent sets I’ve explained the meaning behind the song and I have sensed the atmosphere in the room change as a result. At this specific performance, particularly the drum altro made it a crowd favorite and a few people wept. This song is about child enslavement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), about the unbelievable conditions they are forced to work in at constant risk of permanent injury and fatality.

The children are often stolen from their families and are forced to mine the minerals we use in our smart cars, our cell phones, our laptops, our jewelry, and so on and so on. Companies that source minerals from this region have little to no accountability for their actions and often mask their origination. My hope lyrically is to bring awareness to these atrocious business practices and with enough awareness effect a change in accountability and the lives of the children and families in this region. One life changed would make it all worthwhile. Footage shot at our final show with the album line-up, VFW Hall, Falls Church, VA.”

Lord on Thee Facebooks

Lord on Bandcamp

Heavy Hound Records on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Hound Records website

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Quarterly Review: Worshipper, Dopethrone, The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, Omen Stones, Capra, Universo Rojo, Sergeant Thunderhoof, Fire Down Below, Stone Deaf, Cracked Machine

Posted in Reviews on July 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

Well, we made it to the end of another Quarterly Review. One more batch and then it’s off to planning the next one for late September/early October. I hope you have found something this week that you’ve really dug. I have. A few, to be honest. Not everything is going to stick with every listener, of course, and that includes me, but for as much as putting this one together has been, there’s been some really good, year-end-list-type stuff included. At least as far as my own list goes. I sincerely hope you agree.

So let’s do this last one, then go sleep for a couple hours. Alright? Here we go:

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Worshipper, Mirage Daze

worshipper mirage daze

I don’t know if Worshipper knew they’d be embarking on their first West Coast tour in Summer 2018 when they hit Mad Oak Studios in Oct. 2016 to record the four cover tracks for their Mirage Daze EP on Tee Pee Records, but it certainly worked out in the Boston four-piece’s favor. Following-up their 2016 debut, Shadow Hymns (review here), Worshipper present four cover tracks in Uriah Heep’s “Easy Livin’,” The Oath’s “Night Child,” Pink Floyd’s “Julia Dream” and The Who’s “Heaven and Hell,” and while I’m a little sad that “Heaven and Hell” isn’t the Black Sabbath song, which I think they’d nail if they tried it, and I’m glad to have a studio version of their take on Floyd’s “Julia Dream,” which from the first time I saw them live was always a pleasure to watch live, I think the highlight of Mirage Daze might be “Night Child.” I never bought that The Oath record, and Worshipper’s take on its lead single is about the best argument I’ve seen for doing so. It may or may not be a stopgap issued to coincide with the tour, but Mirage Daze is a welcome arrival anyway. It’s a fan piece? Well, I’m a fan, so right on.

Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

Dopethrone, Transcanadian Anger

dopethrone transcanadian anger

Montreal scumsludgers Dopethrone return with Transcanadian Anger, an eight-track blister-fest of crunch riffing and misanthropic vibes. Delivered through Totem Cat Records, the 36-minute Weedeater-gone-bad-drugs sludge assault seems to invite superlatives front to back, even in the slamming instrumental “Killdozer” – a tribute to the band? – and the swinging penultimate cut “Kingbilly Kush.” Elsewhere, opener “Planet Meth,” “Snort Dagger,” “Tweak Jabber” and “Scuzzgasm” celebrate addiction and violence unto oneself and others, making a spectacle of decay set to voluminous sludge riffs and abrasive vocals. This is Dopethrone’s aesthetic territory, and they’ve done well over the last decade to make it their own. As they answer 2015’s full-length, Hochelaga (review here), and the next year’s 1312 EP with yet another filth-caked collection, they seem all the more in their own league of aural and narcotic self-punishment. They could be straightedge vegans for all I know, but they sure sound high as fuck, and I guess that’s the point. So, well done.

Dopethrone on Thee Facebooks

Totem Cat Records webstore

 

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, BooCheeMish

the mystery of the bulgarian voices boocheemish

Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance would seem to be trying to solve The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, a choral group from Bulgaria who, seemingly until teaming with Gerrard for the Prophecy Productions release BooCheeMish was known by the French name Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. Whatever you call them, their history dates back nearly seven decades and their harmonies are utterly timeless. BooCheeMish is comprised of gorgeous folk renditions for 45 minutes of world-building perfection. Percussion of various sorts provides backing and on pieces like “Rano Ranila” they speed through at a pace and arrangement that’s head-spinning, while the later “Zableyalo Agne” finds them joined by flute for a nigh-religious experience and the subsequent “Tropanitsa” has a bounce worthy of any good times one might to envision from its evocative pulse. One can’t help but feel a bit of the cultural voyeur in taking it on – as well as feeling totally outclassed in reviewing it – but these songs were clearly meant to be enjoyed, and as their ambassadors, The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices genuinely serve a public best interest.

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Omen Stones, Omen Stones

omen stones omen stones

Virginia duo Omen Stones have no online presence as yet. No songs streaming. No cheeky logos-on-photos social media posts that new bands do when they’re sitting on their hands waiting to get material out there. What they – and by “they,” I mean guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hamilton of Druglord and drummer Erik Larson of Backwoods Payback, The Might Could, Alabama Thunderpussy, etc. – have is a four-song self-titled EP collecting about 13 minutes of material in demo fashion, bringing forth the Southern-shuffle-gets-weird-then-explodes opener “Secrete” as a first impression of a deceptive approach. You think it’s all good and then you get punched. Go figure. “Secrete” is also the longest track (immediate points) at 4:06, and the forward charge and harsher vocal of “Fertile Blight” follows, catchy as it is mean, and more indicative of what’s to follow in the maddening tension of “Sympathy Scars” and the fuckall sludgepunk of “Purity Tones.” Immediately against-trend, Omen StonesOmen Stones is a bird of prey unto itself. Hopefully at some point soon they make it publicly available.

Druglord on Bandcamp

Erik Larson on Bandcamp

 

Capra, Unholy Gallows

Capra Unholy Gallows

Taking influence from hardcore punk, post-hardcore and sludge, Lafayette, Louisiana’s Capra seem to fit in a Midwestern style of semi-metallic aggression that has flourished in the wake of the likes of The National Acrobat and Coliseum. The foursome’s Unholy Gallows single follows their also-two-song self-titled 2016 EP, and finds Tyler Harper (also of the recently-defunct The Midnight Ghost Train), Jeremy Randazzo, Ben Paramore and Lee Hooper aligned in their purposes of riff-led bludgeoning. Unholy Gallows is two songs/six minutes long – not by any means an afternoon commitment in terms of listening – but its furies are unveiled in far less time than that, and both “Red Guillotine” and “Hot Lips” waste no time in doling out their beatings. A sense of heft stems from tonal thickness, but they make it move to a propulsive degree, and aside from a quick feedback intro to “Red Guillotine,” there’s no letup; even as “Hot Lips” slows the pace some initially, it maintains geared toward foreshadowing the next fist to fly.

Capra on Thee Facebooks

Capra on Bandcamp

 

Universo Rojo, Impermanencia

Universo Rojo Impermanencia

Sprawl, sprawl, sprawl. Into space. Universo Rojo’s excellent four-track debut album, Impermanencia, makes you want to speak slowly enough to feel the words vibrate out of your mouth. The Chilean four-piece offer lengthy, jam-based excursions that echo out their feel across vast reaches of effects, progressive rhythm and melody-making unfurling all the while beneath an overarching swirl of effects, guitars and synth running atop the mix like competing currents of water. Opener “¿A Dónde Ir?” (8:13) gives way to the flute-laden krautrockism of “Visión Planetaria de los Tiempos” (8:40) as vocalist/guitarist/clarinetist Ferro Vargas-Larraguibel, drummer Naim Chamás, bassist Cristóbal Montenegro and synthesis Francisco Arellano conjure such molten possibilities. Though it’s just 34 minutes, Impermanencia is nonetheless expansive, with the 9:36 “Cinco (La Quinta Dimensión)” finding a place between drift and psych-jazz undulations while closer “Inmaterialización del Sentimiento Cósmico” (7:32) lets out a full-impulse burst of energy that’s blinding if you know just where to look. Not to be missed.

Universo Rojo on Thee Facebooks

Universo Rojo on Bandcamp

 

Sergeant Thunderhoof, Terra Solus

sergeant thunderhoof terra solus

Kudos to Bath, UK, four-piece Sergeant Thunderhoof on starting off their sophomore long-player, Terra Solus, with the album’s longest track in “Another Plane.” And likewise for the blend of psychedelia and burl that unfolds. In taking on the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Ride of the Hoof, they offer eight cuts and 51 minutes of spacious riffing charged with just an undercurrent of English boozer burl, Elephant Tree and Steak meeting head on for a raucous session of who knows what. “B Oscillation” taps nod and particularly satisfying fuzzy warmth in its lead section, while even a would-be bruiser like the subsequent “Diesel Breath” has a trip-out included. There is time for such things as every track but the penultimate and relatively minimalist soundscaper “Half a Man” tops six minutes, but Sergeant Thunderhoof make a much richer impression overall than their moniker might lead one to believe, and close out in particularly resonant fashion with “Om Shaantih,” emphasizing the breadth and post-rock elements that help make Terra Solus so engaging from the outset.

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Thee Facebooks

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Bandcamp

 

Fire Down Below, Hymn of the Cosmic Man

fire down below hymn of the cosmic man

The adaptation of Kyuss’ “Thumb” riff for Fire Down Below’s “Ignition/Space Cruiser” after the “Red Giant” intro on their second album, Hymn of the Cosmic Man (on Ripple), is nothing short of a clarion to the converted. The Belgian unit’s mission would seem to be to find that place on the horizon where the desert ground and space itself seem to meet and become one, and as side A closer “The Cosmic Pilgrim” turns from its initial crunch into more patient and drifting psych, they’d seem to get there. Atsmophere is certainly central to the record, as the aforementioned “Red Giant” and its side B counterpart “Nebula” demonstrate, never mind the other five tracks, and even as “Saviour of Man” runs through its janga-janga stoner-riffed hook there’s a flourish of effects to create a balance between the earthbound and the interstellar. Side B’s “Ascension” and especially 11-minute album-closer/highlight “Adrift in a Sea of Stars” seem to find the balance the four-piece is shooting for all along, and just before the nine-minute mark when the thick, fuzzed-out riff emerges from the jammy lead, the entire impetus for their journey seems to be laid bare. Well done.

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Stone Deaf, Royal Burnout

stone deaf royal burnout

Denver, Colorado’s Stone Deaf present a sans-frills desert rock vibe across the eight tightly structured tracks of their sophomore album, Royal Burnout (on Black Bow Records). Specifically, the compressed crunch in the guitar tone and some of the start-stop bounce riffing in cuts like “Room #240” and “Monochrome” seem to be drawn from the Songs for the Deaf methodology, and some of the vocals on opener “Spitshine” (video premiere here) remind of Queens of the Stone Age as well, but Stone Deaf – whose moniker, then, would be well sourced – have a deeper root in punk rock that underscores the “Go with the Flow” thrust of “Deathwish 62” as well as the chugging verses of “Boozy Spool” immediately preceding. It’s a sound that benefits greatly from the sharpness of its delivery and the craft Stone Deaf bring to it, and even when they seem to loosen up a bit on the midpaced pre-finale “That Lefty Request,” there’s a fervent sense of a plan unfolding. That plan would seem to be a success.

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Cracked Machine, I, Cosmonaut

cracked machine i cosmonaut

Originally released last year, Cracked Machine’s debut, I, Cosmonaut, finds vinyl issue through PsyKA Records and earns it well with six tracks/45 minutes of mostly-instrumentalist and progressive space-psych. One assumes there’s a narrative thread at work across the span, as guitarist Bill Denton, bassist Chris Sutton, keyboardist/vocalist Clive Noyes and drummer Blazej Gradziel weave their way through “Twin Sons Rising” and “New Vostok” at the outset into the easy flow of “Baikonur Cosmodrome,” the harder-hitting title-track, the fuzzy declaration of “Svetlana” and the patiently executed 10-minute closer “Transorbital,” Denton’s guitar singing all the while. These places and, maybe, characters would seem to weave together to tell the story in impressions largely open to interpretation and correspondingly open in terms of their creativity, sounding spontaneous and maybe live-recorded if not entirely improvised, instead working to a plan for where each inclusion should go or end up. As Cracked Machine’s first album, it’s an ambitious work that does far more than get the band’s feet wet. It takes them out of the atmosphere and embarks on a journey beyond that one hopes is just beginning.

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Lord Announce Breakup and Confirm Final Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Well that’s a fucking bummer. And kind of unexpected, to be perfectly honest. Long-ish running Virginian sludge-thrash chaosbringers Lord have announced they’re calling it a day. Their breakup, effective Aug. 4 when they play their final show in Baltimore, comes just weeks ahead of the slated Aug. 24 release for their new album, Desperation Finds Hunger in All Men (review here), which for my money is their best record to-date — a sprawling 66-minutes of carbonized riffing and intense emotional and sonic weight, it seemed if nothing else to be the work of a band who still had a lot to say. Apparently it was their way of laying it all out on the table one last time.

Over the course of their 11 years, Lord went through copious lineup changes. Watching a changing scene around them that went from producing the likes of VOG and Ol’ Scratch to the likes of Foehammer, I wouldn’t exactly call Lord a steady presence — it could be years between releases, and each one seemed to feature different players around guitarist Will Rivera — but they were nonetheless reliable when it came to producing work of individualized assault, sometimes an extreme vision of Southern metal, other times a visceral grind, other times still a style unto themselves.

It’s been more than half a decade since I saw them live, and I won’t get to catch either of their last shows — July 28 in West Virginia, Aug. 4 in Baltimore, Maryland — so I’ll just say I’m sorry to see them go. No matter who was involved with a given outing, Lord never failed to put everything they had — mind, body, soul — into what they did, and for that alone, never mind the actual quality of their output, they’ll be deeply missed.

Rivera talks about the breakup in the thee-social-medias post below, and says no reunion, but you never really know, especially with a band who made a habit of being so unpredictable. In the meantime, he’s got a new album coming with his solo-project Absent Sky reportedly this Fall on Heavy Hound Records, so one will keep an eye out for that.

But yeah, thanks Lord. You guys were a way, way better band than people knew.

Here’s that post:

lord

After 13 years,LORD will be playing its final show on Aug. 4th in Baltimore. We have decided to disband in the wake of my decision to leave the band and the others not feeling comfortable with the idea on continuing under the same name without the sole remaining original member and co-founder.

My decision to leave is something that I’ve been wrestling with for at least 6 months now and it finally became clear to me when a series of transitional events happened in my life that have refocused my priorities and made me wanna take advantage of the time and opportunities that have come my way. I feel that what we’ve accomplished on our final release, Desperation Finds Hunger In All Men, is the culmination of years of hard work and an excellent way to cap off LORD’s legacy.

I’ve never been one to go through the motions and always give a 100% into anything I’m involved in but I feel that my heart is no longer in it and that this creative collaboration has run its course. I know there will be some who will be disappointed and may not understand why I’d choose to leave now but I have to do what is right for me and what brings me joy.

I wanna take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support, it means the world to me that anyone would care. I also wanna thank all members of LORD, former and current, for their time and effort: Steven Kerchner, Todd Wuehrmann, Chris Dugay, Tommy Emanuel, Tony Petrocelly, Stephen Sullivan, Rob Gouldman, Andy Murray, Mike Meeks, Jesse Hottle and Helena Goldberg. The other members will be moving on to other projects and I will be focusing on Absent Sky, Hopekiller and a few other projects that are currently in the works.

Make sure to come out to our final shows on July 28th in Martinsburg, WVa and Aug. 4th in Baltimore. There won’t be any reunion shows so if you have had any intention in catching this band, it’s your last chance! Keep an eye out for Desperation Finds Hunger In All Men on Aug 24th as we’ll continue promoting the album on Facebook, Instagram and Bandcamp. Cheers and love to you all, thanks for your time… Will

Lord final lineup:
Steven F. Kerchner II – Vocals, Noise, Percussion
Will Rivera – Guitar
Todd Wuehrmann – Guitar
Chris Dugay – Bass
Tony Petrocelly – Drums

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Freedom Hawk Post “Brutal Winds” Video; Playing Descendants of Crom 2018 & More

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

freedom hawk

Earlier this Spring, Virginia Beach riff aficionados (ariffionados?) Freedom Hawk toured Europe to celebrate the release of their fifth album, Beast Remains (review here), on Ripple Music. The photo above was taken at The Underworld in Camden Town, right after the four-piece’s set at Desertfest London 2018. They toured from April into May and it was by no means their first time abroad. At this point, Freedom Hawk are veterans whose contributions to underground heavy rock are significant, largely avoiding the trap of East Coast aggression, but still bringing a clear-headed intent to a vibe somewhere between classic metal and fuzzy good times.

The question going forward will be just how much Beast Remains is an anomaly. The album was recorded as the first for the band with the four-piece lineup of guitarist/vocalist T.R. Morton, bassist Mark Cave, drummer Lenny Hines and guitarist Brendan O’Neill. This comes off having done 2015’s more psychedelic Into Your Mind (review here) playing as a trio for the first time. Accordingly, whatever they do next, one expects a certain shift will be apparent even just for the continued development of chemistry among the personnel. At the same time, Freedom Hawk have developed one of the most recognizable sounds in US underground heavy. Like few others, if you hear someone put on a Freedom Hawk song, there’s never any doubt about who you’re listening to. They’ve managed over their years to develop their sound without losing sight of that aspect of who they are. Morton‘s vocals are a big part of it, but by no means the only element at play. The track “Brutal Winds” for which they have a new video playing below, is quintessential to where their sound is at on Beast Remains.

Freedom Hawk will hit the Descendants of Crom fest in Pittsburgh at the end of September and they have a handful of other live shows leading up to it that you can find listed under the “Brutal Winds” clip, along with a link to the full-album playlist on YouTube. It’s also of course on Ripple‘s Bandcamp, linked at the bottom of this post.

Please enjoy:

Freedom Hawk, “Brutal Winds” official video

“Brutal Winds” by Freedom Hawk
Producer: Bradford Davis
Director: Jarrod Russell
Steadicam Operator: Maxwel Fisher

After completing a successful European Tour, We are releasing an official music video for our song “Brutal Winds” from Beast Remains. The video is on our YouTube channel at: https://youtu.be/76wcS9Y-9EI

We also loaded up videos that were sent to us from Fans and other videos and made a Beast Remains playlist of the album at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1bKVPqA878pvz-yIoIP59Ep38xBh8DYR

Currently plotting, planning and working on more US dates and tour(s) in support of Beast Remains..for later this year/early next year. We revamped our Bandcamp site and now have Beast Remains Vinyl, CDs and fresh merch available at www.freedomhawk.bandcamp.com too in support of our Gas Tank/Touring Fund.

Here are a few scattered up and coming US show dates in the meantime with more dates/tour(s) to come:

17 Aug – Norfolk VA @ Charlies w/ Backwoods Payback
8 Sep – Kill Devil Hills, NC @ The Brew Station w/ Snake Mountain Revival
27 Sep – Washington, DC @ Slash Run w/ Electropathic (Gary Isom’s new band)
28 Sep – Philadelphia, PA @ Ortliebs
29 Sep – Pittsburgh, PA @ Descendants of Crom

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Foehammer, Second Sight: Deep Reaches

Posted in Reviews on July 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

foehammer second sight

Fires glowing in the distance as a lone ship sails troubled waters by moonlight, a single figure visible in the glow — you might say the Luciana Nedelea cover art of Foehammer‘s Australopithecus Records-delivered debut full-length, Second Sight, is appropriate for the album itself. The Virginian outfit might’ve also gone with someone peeling their face off or a fire burning away an ancient forest, but if the idea is conveying a sense of warning or foreboding, they got there anyhow. And fair enough. Foehammer‘s 2015 self-titled EP (review here) was unbridled in its rumbling devastation, and Second Sight — which is actually their third release, if you count a prior 2014 demo — either builds on the accomplishments of its predecessor or slow-motion-wrecking-ball smashes them to pieces, depending on how you want to look at it.

Their violence is wrought in the traditional death-doom heightened language: in opener “Black Númenórean,” the sailor with the tattered sails is “in Carn Dûm [let’s assume that’s pronounced “Doom” — ed.] amongst his kinsmen and his thralls” as he tells of a coming war, and the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Jay Cardinell (ex-Durga Temple/Gradius), guitarist Joe Cox (ex-Gradius) and drummer Ben “Vang” Blanton (ex-VOG) — who seems since to be out of the band since the album was made and replaced by Ben Price (also At the Graves) — don’t limit the dark prophecy just to the opener. Likewise, 16-minute closer “The Seer” gives itself to bleak visions of things to come. And the accompanying guitar, bass and drums could hardly be more evocative of that sentiment either. Anyone who heard the self-titled and lived to tell the tale can indeed speak to the level of tonal onslaught Foehammer hurled forth like they were loading bricks to hand-build an endtime temple, and Second Sight keeps the lurk ‘n’ lurch vision of überdoom central to the proceedings. In four songs and 46 minutes, they cast a pall over the spirit that extends even beyond the maddeningly thick tones and slow rumbling to a tension that seems to cry out for release all the while and is flatly denied.

Basically, they just let the pressure build in your bones until you want to send them an email begging mercy. “Dear sirs; Please. I only have one skull and I need it to keep my brain from falling out of my ear,” and so on. I’m sure they’d get back and be really polite about it, but that certainly doesn’t stop Second Sight‘s visceral bludgeoning, and if all of this sounds like hyperbole, so do the tracks themselves. Hyperbolic doom. Extreme extremity. They offer no letup when it comes to the excruciating pace of “Black Númenórean” (10:15) or “Recurring Grave” (7:54), “Axis Mundi” (11:17) and “The Seer” (16:41) which follow, and though it doesn’t necessarily seem to be a concept record in the sense of telling a single story — that is, there’s no wizard journeying across a barren tundra in search of craft beer or whatever it is people write concept albums about these days — there’s no question the songs tie together in flow and are united in their focus on brutality. Moments like the quiet intro to “Axis Mundi” after the blunt force of “Recurring Grave” bolster the darkened atmosphere overall, and as Foehammer roll out the overwhelming back-to-back lumber of the album’s two longest tracks in “Axis Mundi” and “The Seer,” one can almost feel the sound waves vibrating in their stomach, regardless of the actual volume.

Foehammer (Photo Ben Price)

Cox takes an echoing solo at the end of the former, but even that feels viscous in its tone, and by the time Foehammer get that far, the die is well cast as regards overarching ambience. As much as Cardinell and Cox both deserve praise for bringing such consuming low-end to bear, likewise the job of engineer/mixer Kevin Bernsten at Developing Nations in Baltimore, and the mastering of James Plotkin deserve to be highlighted, because for as much of Second Sight feels willfully given over to noise, feedback, and sustained low-tone wash, there’s no actual lack of clarity either in sound or in purpose. Foehammer capture every bit of their specific kind of aural cruelty in its full bloom, and while even in its post-midpoint stretch of minimalism, one wouldn’t necessarily call “The Seer” clean, its sound 100 percent matches the band’s intention toward the outermost reaches of the imagination’s nightmarish manifestations.

That means conjuring a breadth that might seem contradictory to some of the more claustrophobic effects of such tonal thickness or the unremitting gurgles from Cardinell on vocals that render the lyrics largely decipherable without a cheat sheet, but it’s not. If Foehammer are world-building, they’re just creating a space to tear down. But that doesn’t mean the space never existed. To wit, from the ultra-slow unfolding of “Black Númenórean” onward through the throat-singing chants in “The Seer,” Second Sight seems to carry the listener ever downward. Its movement varies some in tempo, but the ambience is central to the mission, and that is never compromised regardless of the cosmic moments of flourish that at times remind of YOB at their heaviest. In hearing it, I have to remind myself it’s the band’s first long-player. They’ve been around five years, and even the EP seemed to arrive with a sense that Foehammer knew what they were doing, but Second Sight is on another level entirely. It’s not just that CoxCardinell and Blanton manage to stay within such grueling tempos or that they bring such a sense of max-volume execution to what’s still a headphone-worthy offering, but that every step they take, even unto the last noisy fade of the closer, holds meaning.

As they seem to dig deeper and deeper into “Axis Mundi” after “Recurring Grave” — which if I’m not mistaken is actually the speediest inclusion at a pace of “really quite slow” — Foehammer are in complete control of the churn they wield. I know that no matter how big or menacing it sounds it’s still just guitar, bass and drums, but for something where the aesthetic is so much a part of the statement being made, there’s an underlying current of songwriting that provides the assurance Second Sight won’t simply deconstruct itself along with whatever else should happen to be in its plodding path. No doubt in my mind it’s one of the best debut albums of 2018, but even such a designation would seem to minimize the achievements in these tracks. Among the best albums of the year, period, and still hopefully only the beginning of the horrors Foehammer will ultimately realize.

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