Negative Reaction Execute “Order 66”; New Album in Progress

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on October 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

It’s been a couple years now since Negative Reaction frontman Kenny ‘Ken-E’ Bones moved himself and therefore the band from Long Island, New York, to Central West Virginia. In that time, he’s partnered with bassist Trey Crane and drummer Kevin King in a new incarnation of the band, embarked on a solo career playing outlaw country, and taken the helm at Steer Run Studios, his own recording facility. Not too shabby, and a rebuilding of band and life alike go a long way to explaining the years it’s been since Frequencies from Montauk (review here) came out in 2011. These things take time.

But the next record — the title of which is decided but not yet revealed — is being recorded with Bones himself as producer/engineer, and in order to demonstrate progress toward its completion, Negative Reaction are premiering the new single “Order 66.” The title is a Star Wars reference, as Order 66 was that which then-Senator Palpatine gave to the Stormtroopers to start executing the Jedi. I think that was Episode III? Samuel L. Jackson, Obi-Wan and Yoda got away, so yeah. Bones is a big fan, which is an understatement, what with the tattoos and all.

The song bridges the two sides of Negative Reaction‘s long-established approach in its sludgy aggression and spacey jamming. No coincidence that in the note below, Bones refers to “captain of the spaceship.” HawkwindMonster Magnet — this is the stuff of life, and “Order 66” serves those impulses well in its second-half cosmojam. Whatever it’ll be called, the album is still in progress, so keep an eye out, but you can hear the song at the bottom of this post. Ken-E‘s always up to something.

Dig it:

negative reaction

A word from the Captain of the Spaceship Negative Reaction………

Hello my fellow Sludgenaughts. I hope this transmission finds you well.

NR has finished mixing and mastering the single to our next release. The single is a song called Order 66. We have sent it out to multiple parties but one in particular that, We, NR are most attracted to has sent very positive feedback to it. We hope to release this next album Of SLUDGE with this said group of great people.

The title of this album has been established but it will remain unknown until an agreement has been reached between NR and said record label to agree on the release. This song and the new album are recorded and mastered at Steer Run Studios, engineered and produced by Ken-E Bones. We are currently recording new songs for the album.

A NR bandcamp page will also be up in a few days as well. It will have ALL of our releases up including some rare tracks from the past!

Thank you all for the love and support. I love each and every one of you. I mean it when I say NR has the greatest fans and family a band could hope for. All the best to you and thanx again for believing in us. Cheers to YOU!!!!”

End Of Line…….
-Capt’N KB

Negative Reaction is:
Ken-E Bones: guitar, vocals
Trey Crane: bass guitar
Kevin King: Drums

https://www.facebook.com/NegativeReaction

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R.I.P. Rev. Jim Forrester, 1974-2017

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

rev jim forrester photo shane gardner

UPDATE 1:00PM: According to the Baltimore Sun, Jim Forrester was shot outside Baltimore Tattoo Museum, where he worked. Tina Giles Forrester also elaborated on the situation:

I know that there are many questions. I will not keep this private. I want everyone to know that Jim was murdered. He was shot to death by a gutless coward. This may seem harsh to put out there, but this piece of fucking shit is still out there. I will continue to tell each and every person until this waste of a fucking life is caught and has to look me in my eyes. I want justice. I will not stop until I have justice.

6:00AM Details are few and far between at the time of this writing, and it seems likely that one way or another some sort of memorial fund or benefit will be set up in his honor, so this post may be updated in the near future, but word has been made public about the passing of Rev. Jim Forrester, current bassist for Foghound and Serpents of Secrecy and a co-founder of Maryland-based heavy rockers Sixty Watt Shaman.

Born Dec. 5, 1974, Forrester, with his body covered in tattoos all the way up to the top of his shaved head — bandanna-clad, of course — his piercings and his wide smile, cut a figure that was both larger than life and deeply human. His wife, Tina Giles Forrester, made the announcement on social media:

Tina Giles Forrester:

I cannot convey the amount of sadness in my heart as I type this post. Tonight.. my husband was tragically ripped from my life, from all of our lives. I cannot express the amount of love he had for the music, his fellow artists, and fans. I am left with tragic sadness and a searing rage. I will use my last breath to make sure the animal who did this will be caught and held accountable for this senseless atrocity. I love you Jim Forrester my sweet dark prince.

While the exact circumstances of his death remain unknown — and from the statement above, it would seem some outside party was involved one way or another — the veteran heavy rocker had suffered numerous health problems over the course of this past year stemming from a blood clot in his liver, which he detailed here in an interview just over a week ago:

Jim Forrester on health issues:

Over Memorial Day weekend, the Sunday to be exact, I awoke from a dead sleep to the most abhorrent abdominal pain I’ve ever experienced… I had a blood clot in my portal vein (liver) that was cutting off blood flow to my liver, pancreas, intestines, and various extremities… Blood thinners saved my ass, but also caused esophageal varices to burst, resulting in me puking up half my blood supply, intubation, and a three-day medically induced coma in which I almost checked out a few times as well… Three days later I awoke to what I thought was a heart attack. Returned to the hospital to find a pulmonary embolism, and a grouping of blood clots behind my right knee. Another week in the hospital, and back home with increased blood thinners (self-administered stomach injections, very metal)…

I had liver issues back in 2012 that I had worked through, I thought pretty successfully… It’s no secret I previously was a drink and drug enthusiast (no hard drugs for years now I will note) as cliche as it is, and I managed to do some significant damage to myself over the years. At various points I’ve been a bit of a mess, and have a lot of regrets regarding that aspect of my time. That aside, I lived a pretty hard life for an extended spell, pushed myself physically in ways that have consequences, and some of that is a factor as well… (read more here)

Forrester was also waiting to undergo hip surgery in the New Year after dealing with long-term damage due in part to a past ACL tear, though again, whether or not any of this was a factor in his passing is unconfirmed.

After cutting his teeth in the mid ’90s and early ’00s in Sixty Watt Shaman, Forrester moved to from Maryland and took part in a band called Angels of Meth before eventually relocating to West Virginia and rejoining his Sixty Watt Shaman bandmate Chuck Dukehart in Foghound and Serpents of Secrecy. In 2014, Sixty Watt Shaman got back together to play Desertfest Berlin and a few other limited engagements to celebrate their three albums — Ultra Electric (1998), Seed of Decades (2000) and Reason to Live (2002) — but the reunion would be short-lived as old personal issues resurfaced and the band once again split.

In 2016, he added low-end charge to Foghound’s second album, The World Unseen, fueling a more aggressive take from that band as they made their debut on Ripple Music. The debut single from Serpents of Secrecy was released earlier in 2017 through an alliance with Salt of the Earth Records, and both groups had or have new material in progress for issue in 2018. His last performance was an acoustic set with Foghound on Dec. 17 at the Baltimore Tattoo Museum’s annual holiday party.

On behalf of this site and on behalf of myself, I send condolences and strength to Rev. Jim’s many friends, fans and of course his family. As a personal note, even aside from this recent interview, he and I have been in touch for years and I know he was excited to get his health problems behind him, get back on stage full-boar and get back in the studio to make new music with bandmates he truly loved. He was someone second to nobody in passion for what he did, and his death is a significant loss. As much as I’ve enjoyed his work over the years, I will remember more the sincerity of his character and the wholesome spirit beneath his gruff exterior, and like all who were lucky enough to know him during his time, I will miss Jim.

Rest in Peace Jim Forrester, 1974-2017.

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Negative Reaction Begin Recording New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Holy macaroni, it’s been six years since Negative Reaction released their last record. Wow. Not that it doesn’t feel like it’s been a while, but once you put a number to it the whole context changes. Six years! That album from the early sludge innovators and mainstays was Frequencies from Montauk (review here), a collection that was arguably their most adventurous to-date, bringing in elements of psychedelia and drone and languid heavy rock alongside the trademark Eastern Seaboard hardcore punk-influenced intensity that they’ve always brandished so passionately.

In the years since sending FrequenciesNegative Reaction‘s inimitable frontman, Kenny Bones (who seems to have dropped the “Ken-E” spelling previously used for what seemed like forever), has relocated himself and thus the band from Long Island, New York, to Normantown, West Virginia — a significant geographic shift that’s also brought an entirely new lineup with it. Hardly the first time Bones has revamped Negative Reaction, but it’s still a major part of the change. He’s also embarked on a solo career playing outlaw country under his own name and opened Steer Run Studio to track his own work as well as that of other area groups.

To that end, Negative Reaction have apparently begun recording their next studio offering. I’ve got no details on what it might be called, when it might be done or what it might sound like — been a while since I had a proper chat with Kenny — but after so long and so much realignment on his part and the band’s, it would be pointless to speculate anyway. It could go pretty much anywhere, which only means it’ll be more fun to find out where it ends up.

Here’s a quick update Bones posted on the social medias:

negative reaction

Wow what a busy few days here at Steer Run Studio….

The Kenny Bones Solo album is finally finished….(Details on the release soon)

Negative Reaction has just started recording a new album here….

And Browbeater has been recording here and I have just started the mix down and mastering for the new Browbeater EP!!!!!! It’s gunna be some Heavy shit!!!!!!

https://www.facebook.com/Negative-Reaction-166679340107961/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Steer-Run-Studio/152766388654183

Negative Reaction, “Docking Bay 94” Live at Stoner Hands of Doom XII, 2012

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Horseburner Sign to Hellmistress Records; New Video & Tour Dates Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

horseburner

Just a scant couple of days before West Virginian progressive heftbringers Horseburner strike out on tour with Maryland’s Cavern, shooting as far north as Canada in support of their 2016 debut album, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil (review here). Today, the newly-minted Hellmistress Records announces it will put its stamp on an official release for that record before the end of 2017, CD and LP both. Horseburner are the first pickup for Hellmistress, and as they’ve already sold through self-released pressings of the album, yeah, it seems like a solid grab on the part of label founder Melanie Streko, formerly of MeteorCity.

Marking both occasions — the tour and the signing; keep up — Horseburner also have a new video for “Eleleth” that you can see at the bottom of this post, right under the press release I wrote and received back down the trusty PR wire, which follows here:

horseburner-cavern-tour

HORSEBURNER Sign to Hellmistress Records; On Tour Starting this Week

West Virginia progressive heavy rockers unveil “Eleleth” video

Horseburner will release their debut full-length, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil, via Hellmistress Records on July 14 to coincide with the launch of a tour alongside Maryland’s Cavern. Today, they premiere a video for “Eleleth,” the album’s longest and closing track.

The progressive heavy rockers – recently announced as taking part in the inaugural Descendants of Crom Festival on Sept. 30 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – originally issued Dead Seeds, Barren Soil digitally in July 2016. After a massive response to the album, Hellmistress Records snapped up the band for the CD and an impending vinyl release due later this year.

“I’ve had my eye on Horseburner for a while,” notes Hellmistress Records founder Melanie Streko, formerly of MeteorCity. “They’re the perfect band to launch the label, with a take on heavy that’s their own. Dead Seeds, Barren Soil kicked my ass and I’m excited to give their album a wider audience! They put on an amazing high energy show so be sure to catch them live when they come to town!”

Horseburner are set to begin their stint of East Coast tour dates this week, and will head through Ohio and into Canada before circling back into New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington D.C., with bassist Mike Lorenzen pulling double-duty also playing in Cavern. Dates follow here:

HORSEBURNER Tour Dates w/ Cavern:
7/7 Toledo, OH – New Longhorn Saloon
7/8 Toronto, ON – Bovine Sex Club
7/9 Montreal, QC – Turbo Haus
7/10 Buffalo, NY – Mohawk Place
7/11 Philadelphia, PA – Safety Meeting
7/12 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus
7/13 Stroudsburg, PA – Sherman Theatre
7/14 Baltimore, MD – Sidebar
7/15 Washington, DC – The Pinch
7/16 Pittsburgh, PA – Howlers
9/30 Pittsburgh, PA – Descendants of Crom Fest

Dead Seeds, Barren Soil will be available via the Hellmistress webstore at: https://hellmistressrecords.com/collections/label

Stay tuned for more from Horseburner and Hellmistress Records in the weeks and months to come!

Horseburner is:
Adam Nohe – Drums/vocals
Jack Thomas – Guitar/vocals
Zach Kaufman – Guitar
Mike Lorenzen – Bass

www.facebook.com/Horseburner
www.twitter.com/horseburner
www.instagram.com/horseburner
horseburner.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/HellmistressRecords
www.hellmistressrecords.com

Horseburner, “Eleleth” official video

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Quarterly Review: Ulver, Forming the Void, Hidden Trails, Svvamp, Black Mirrors, Endless Floods, Tarpit Boogie, Horseburner, Vermilion Whiskey, Hex Inverter

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

Feeling groovy heading into Day Two of the Spring 2017 Quarterly Review, and I hope you are as well. Today we dig into a pretty wide variety of whatnots, so make sure you’ve got your head with you as we go, because there are some twists and turns along the way. I mean it. Of all five days in this round, this one might be the most wild, so keep your wits intact. I’m doing my best to do the same, of course, but make no promises in that regard.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Ulver, The Assassination of Julius Caesar

ulver-the-assassination-of-julius-caesar

Norwegian post-everything specialists Ulver have reportedly called The Assassination of Julius Caesar (on House of Mythology) “their pop album,” and while the Nik Turner-inclusive freakout in second cut “Rolling Stone” (that may or may not be him on closer “Comign Home” as well) doesn’t quite fit that mold, the beats underscoring the earlier portion of that track, opener “Nemoralia” and the melodrama of “Southern Gothic” certainly qualify. Frontman/conceptual mastermind Kristoffer Rygg’s voice is oddly suited to this form – he carries emotionally weighted hooks like a melancholy George Michael on the electronically pulsating “Transverberation” and, like most works of pop, shows an obsession with the ephemeral in a slew of cultural references in “1969,” which in no way is likely to be mistaken for the Stooges song of the same name. While “So Falls the World” proves ridiculously catchy, “Coming Home” is about as close as Ulver actually come here to modern pop progression, and the Badalamenti-style low-end and key flourish in “1969” is a smooth touch, much of what’s happening in these eight tracks is still probably too complex to qualify as pop, but The Assassination of Julius Caesar is further proof that Ulver’s scope only grows more boundless as the years pass. The only limits they ever seem to know are the ones they leave behind.

Ulver on Twitter

House of Mythology website

 

Forming the Void, Relic

forming-the-void-relic

Last year, Louisiana four-piece Forming the Void had the element of surprise working to their advantage when it came to the surprising progressive edge of their debut album, Skyward (review here). Now signed to Argonauta, the eight-song/55-minute follow-up, Relic, doesn’t need it. It finds Forming the Void once again working proggy nuance into big-riffed, spaciously vocalized fare on early cuts “After Earth” and “Endless Road,” but as the massive hook of “Biolazar” demonstrates, the process by which guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa, bassist Luke Baker and drummer Jordan Boyd meld their influences has become more cohesive and more their own. Accordingly, I’m not sure they need the 11-minute closing take on Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” since by then the point is made in the lumber/plunder of “Plumes” and in the more tripped-out “Unto the Smoke” just before, but as indulgences go, it’s a relatively easy one to make. They’re still growing, but doing so quickly, and already they’ve begun to find a niche for themselves between styles that one hopes they’ll continue to explore.

Forming the Void on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Hidden Trails, Instant Momentary Bliss

hidden-trails-instant-momentary-bliss

Though it keeps a wash of melodic keys in the background and its approach is resolutely laid back on the whole, “Beautiful Void” is nonetheless a major factor in the overall impression of Hidden Trails’ self-titled debut (on Elektrohasch), as its indie vibe and departure from the psychedelic prog of the first two cuts, “Lancelot” and “Mutations,” marks a major distinguishing factor between this outfit and Hypnos 69, in which the rhythm section of the Belgian trio played previously. “Ricky” goes on to meld acoustic singer-songwriterism and drones together, and “Hands Unfold” has a kind of jazzy bounce, the bassline of Dave Houtmeyers and drumming of Tom Vanlaer providing upbeat groove under Jo Neyskens’ bright guitar lead, but the anticipation of heavy psych/prog never quite leaves after the opening, and that doesn’t seem to be what the band wants to deliver. The sweetly harmonized acid folk of “Leaving Like That” is on a different wavelength, and likewise the alt-rock vibes of “Space Shuffle” and “Come and Play” and the grunge-chilled-out closer “Denser Diamond.” If there’s an issue with Hidden Trails, it’s one of the expectations I’m bringing to it as a listener and a fan of Houtmeyers’ and Vanlaer’s past work, but clearly it’s going to take me a little longer to get over the loss of their prior outfit. Maybe I’m just not ready to move on.

Hidden Trails on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

 

Svvamp, Svvamp

svvamp-svvamp

Naturalist vibes pervade immediately from this late-2016 self-titled Svvamp debut (on RidingEasy Records) in the bassline to “Serpent in the Sky,” and in some of the post-Blue Cheer heavy blues sensibility, the Swedish trio bring to mind some of what made early Dirty Streets so glorious. Part of the appeal of Svvamp’s Svvamp, however, is that among the lessons it’s learned from heavy ‘70s rock and from Kadavar‘s own self-titled is to keep it simple. “Fresh Cream” is a resonant blues jam… that lasts two and a half minutes. The bouncing, turning “Oh Girl?” Three. Even the longest of its cuts, the slide-infused “Time,” the subdued roller “Big Rest” and the Marshall Tucker-esque finale “Down by the River,” are under five. This allows the three-piece of Adam Johansson, Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren to build significant momentum over the course of their 35-minute run, casting aside pretense in favor of aesthetic cohesion and an organic sensibility all the more impressive for it being their first record. Sweden has not lacked for boogie rock, but even the most relatively raucous moments here, as in the winding “Blue in the Face,” don’t seem overly concerned with what anyone else is up to, and that bodes remarkably well for Svvamp’s future output.

Svvamp on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Black Mirrors, Funky Queen

black-mirrors-funky-queen

There are few songs ever written that require whoever’s playing them to “bring it” more than MC5’s “Kick out the Jams.” True, it’s been covered many, many times over, but few have done it well. Belgium’s Black Mirrors signal riotous intent by including it as one of the four tracks of their Napalm Records debut EP, Funky Queen, along with the originals “Funky Queen,” “The Mess” and “Canard Vengeur Masqué,” and amid the post-Blues Pills stomp of “The Mess,” the mega-hook of the opening title-track and the more spacious five-plus-minute closer, which works elements of heavy psych into its bluesy push late to welcome effect, “Kick out the Jams” indeed brings a moment of relative cacophony, even if there’s no actual threat of the band losing control behind the powerful vocals of Marcella di Troia. As a first showing, Funky Queen would seem to be a harbinger, but it’s also a purposeful and somewhat calculated sampling of Black Mirrors’ wares, and I wouldn’t expect it to be long before an album follows behind expanding on the ideas presented in these tracks.

Black Mirrors on Thee Facebooks

Black Mirrors at Napalm Records

 

Endless Floods, II

endless-floods-ii

No doubt that for some who’d take it on, any words beyond “members of Monarch!” will be superfluous, but Bordeaux three-piece Endless Floods, who do indeed feature bassist/vocalist Stéphane Miollan and drummer Benjamin Sablon from that band, as well as guitarist Simon Bedy, have more to offer than pedigree on their three-song sophomore full-length, II (on Dry Cough vinyl and Breathe Plastic cassette). To wit, 24-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Impasse” rumbles out raw but spacious sludge that, though without keys or a glut of effects, and marked by the buried-deep screaming of Miollan, holds a potent sense of atmosphere so that the two-minute interlude “Passage” doesn’t seem out of place leading into the 19-minute lumber of “Procession,” which breaks shortly before its halfway point to bass-led minimalism in setting up the final build of the record. Slow churning intensity and longform sludge working coherently alongside ambient sensibilities and some genuinely disturbing noise? Yeah, that’ll do nicely. Thanks.

Endless Floods on Thee Facebooks

Dry Cough Records on Bandcamp

Breathe Plastic Records on Bandcamp

 

Tarpit Boogie, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam

tarpit-boogie-couldnt-handle-the-heavy-jam

Boasting four eight-plus-minute instrumentals, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam finds New Jersey trio Tarpit Boogie rife with classic style heavy rock chemistry, bassist John Eager running fills around the dense-toned riffing from guitarist George Pierro as drummer Chris Hawkins propels a surprising thrust on opener “FFF Heavy Jam.” I’ve been a fan of Pierro and Eager’s since we were bandmates a decade ago, so to hear them unfold “Chewbacca Jacket” from its tense opening to its righteously crashing finale is definitely welcome, but the 37-minute offering finds its true reasoning in the swing and shuffle of the eponymous “Tarpit Boogie,” which digs into the very challenge posed by the title – whether or not anyone taking on the album can handle its balance of sonic impact and exploratory feel – inclusive, in this case, of a drum solo that sets a foundation for a moment of Cactus-style rush ahead of a return to the song’s central progression to conclude. They round out with “1992 (Thank You Very Little),” Chevy Chase sample and all, bringing more crashing nod to a massive slowdown that makes it feel like the entire back half of the cut is one big rock finish. And so it is. A well-kept secret of Garden State heavy.

Tarpit Boogie on Thee Facebooks

Tarpit Boogie on Bandcamp

 

Horseburner, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil

horseburner-dead-seeds-barren-soil

The self-released Dead Seeds, Barren Soil is Horseburner’s second full-length, and it arrived in 2016 from the four-piece some seven years after their 2009 debut, Dirt City. They’ve had a few shorter outings in between, demos and 2013’s Strange Giant EP, but the West Virginia four-piece of Adam Nohe, Chad Ridgway, Jack Thomas and Zach Kaufman seem to be shooting for a definitive statement of intent in the blend of heavy rock and modern, Baroness-style prog that emerges on opener “David” and finds its way into the galloping “Into Black Resolution,” the multi-tiered vocals of “A Newfound Purity” and even the more straight-ahead thrust of “The Soil’s Prayer.” Marked out by the quality of its guitar work and its clearly-plotted course, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil caps with “Eleleth,” which at just under eight minutes draws the heft and the complexity together for a gargantuan finish that does justice to the ground Horseburner just flattened as they left it behind.

Horseburner on Thee Facebooks

Horseburner on Bandcamp

 

Vermilion Whiskey, Spirit of Tradition

vermilion-whiskey-spirit-of-tradition

Lafayette, Louisiana, five-piece Vermilion Whiskey telegraph participation in the New Wave of Dude Rock to the point of addressing their audience as “boy” in second cut “The Past is Dead,” and from the cartoon cleavage on the cover to the lack of irony between naming the record Spirit of Tradition and putting a song called “The Past is Dead” on it, they sell that well. The Kent Stump-mixed/Tony Reed-mastered six-tracker is the band’s second behind 2013’s 10 South, and basks in dudely, dudely dudeliness; Southern metal born more out of the Nola style than what, say, Wasted Theory are getting up to these days, but that would still fit on a bill with that Delaware outfit. If you think you’re dude enough for a song like “One Night,” hell, maybe you are. Saddle up. Listening to that and the chunky-style riff of closer “Loaded Up,” I feel like I might need hormone therapy to hit that level of may-yun, but yeah. Coherent, well written, tightly performed and heavy. Vermilion Whiskey might as well be hand-issuing dudes invitations to come drink with them, but they make a solid case for doing so.

Vermilion Whiskey on Thee Facebooks

Vermilion Whiskey on Bandcamp

 

Hex Inverter, Revision

hex-inverter-revision

If the cover art and a song title like “I Swear I’m Not My Thoughts” weren’t enough of a tip-off, there’s a strong undercurrent of the unsettled to Hex Inverter’s second long-player, Revision. The Pennsylvania-based experimentalists utilize a heaping dose of drones to fill out arrangements of keys, guitar and noise that would otherwise be pretty minimal, and vocals come and go in pro- and depressive fashion. Texture proves the key as they embark on the linear centerpiece “Something Else,” with a first verse arriving over a sweetened bassline after four minutes into the total 9:58, and the wash of noise in “Daphne” obscures an avant neo-jazz groove late, so while opener “Cannibal Eyes” basks in foreboding ambience prior to an emotionally-driven and explosive crunch-beat payoff, one never quite knows what to expect next on Revision. That, of course, is essential to the appeal. They find an edge of rock in the aforementioned “I Swear I’m Not My Thoughts,” but as the loops and synth angularity of closer “Fled (Deadverse Mix)” make plain, their intentions speak to something wider than even an umbrella genre.

Hex Inverter on Thee Facebooks

Hex Inverter on Bandcamp

 

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Horseburner Announce US Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

horseburner

West Virginian progressive heavy rockers Horseburner were among those recently confirmed for the inaugural Descendants of Crom fest to be held in Pittsburgh this September (info here). It’s the latest bit of acclaim for the band following the successful 2016 release of their debut album, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil, which brought the winding rhythms of post-Baroness modernity to the fore amid a still-weighted tonalism, finding a balance and cohesion rare for a first full-length while setting in motion a creative development they’ll look to continue on their next release. As they move forward, they’ll be touring next month alongside Kentucky’s Stonecutters in the Southeastern US, and I wouldn’t be surprised if sooner or later somebody picked up Dead Seeds, Barren Soil for a proper physical issue, since despite its title, the record is so very much alive.

The PR wire as well as the band’s social medias bring dates and whatnots, and if you haven’t heard it, the album can be streamed in full via the Bandcamp player below. Because the internet, and multimedia, and attention to detail. Boogers.

Have at you:

Horseburner – Southern Tour

In support of their debut full length, “Dead Seeds, Barren Soil,” West Virginia’s Horseburner are bringing their brand of high energy, riff-laden stoner metal to the southern United States this April. Joining them in their trek are Louisville, Kentucky’s metal veterans, Stonecutters.

We are excited to announce our upcoming dates for the rest of winter and spring. 2017 is shaping up to be a fun year. See you in the world!

HORSEBURNER ON TOUR:
Special St. Patty’s tour preview: 3-17: Louisville, KY @ The Cure Lounge*
3-18: Huntington, WV @ V Club
3-25: Parkersburg, WV @ Sixpence Pub
4-01: Peoria, IL @ Rail II for Mates Fest 8
4-07: Johnson City, TN @ The Hideaway*
4-08: Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor*
4-09: Charleston, SC @ Burns Alley*
4-10: Jacksonville, FL @ Shantytown Pub*
4-11: Miami, FL @ Churchill’s Pub
4-12: St Petersburg, FL @ Fubar*
4-13: Albany, GA @ Oglethorpe Lounge*
4-14: Marietta, GA @ Swayze’s Venue*
4-15: Asheville, NC @ The Odditorium*
4-16: Cincinnati, OH @ Junker’s Tavern
4-28: Athens, OH @ The Union
5-05: Baltimore, MD @ The Depot [relocated from Metro Gallery]
5-06: Brooklyn, NY @ Lucky 13
5-19: TBA
5-20: Dayton, OH @ Blind Bob’s
6-01: Pittsburgh, PA @ TBA
6-02: TBA
6-03: Warren, MI @ The Ritz for Rune Fest
9-30: Pittsburgh, PA @ Descendants of Crom Fest
*On tour with Stonecutters from Louisville, KY

We’re looking to add a few more dates as we go along, so check back in!

And check www.horseburner.com for music, merch, and any additional info. Stay dirty.

Horseburner is:
Adam Nohe
Chad Ridgway
Jack Thomas
Zach Kaufman

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Horseburner, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil (2016)

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

Posted in Features on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.

Yeah, I know I said as much when the Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016 went up, but I take it back: this is the hardest list to put together. And to be honest, there’s a part of me that’s hesitant even to post it because I know as soon as I do someone’s going to be like, “No way you dick your entire existence is shit because you forgot Release X,” and very likely they’ll be right. Up to the very moment this post is going live, I’ve been making changes, and I expect I’ll continue to do so for a while after it’s out there.

So what’s a “short release?” That’s another issue. Pretty much anything that’s not an album. Singles, digital or physical, as well as EPs, splits, demos, and so on. The category becomes nebulous, but my general rule is if it’s not a full-length, it qualifies as a short release. Sounds simple until you get into things like, “Here’s a track I threw up on Bandcamp,” and “This only came out as a bonus included as a separate LP with the deluxe edition of our album.” I’m telling you, I’ve had a difficult time.

Maybe that’s just me trying to protect myself from impending wrath. This year’s Top 30 albums list provoked some vehement — and, if I may, prickishly-worded — responses, so I might be a bit gunshy here, but on the other hand, I think these outings are worth highlighting, so we’re going forward anyway. If you have something to add, please use the comments below, but remember we’re all friends here and there’s a human being on the other end reading what’s posted. Thanks in advance for that.

And since this is the last list of The Obelisk’s Best-of-2016 coverage, I’ll say thanks for reading as well. More to come in the New Year, of course.

Here we go:

scissorfight chaos county

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

1. Scissorfight, Chaos County EP
2. Earthless / Harsh Toke, Split
3. Mars Red Sky, Providence EP
4. Mos Generator, The Firmament
5. Soldati, Soldati
6. Monolord, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze EP
7. Wren, Host EP
8. Goya, The Enemy EP
9. The Sweet Heat, Demo
10. River Cult, Demo
11. Stinkeye, Llantera Demos
12. Megaritual, Eclipse EP
13. Ragged Barracudas / Pushy, Split
14. Mindkult, Witchs’ Oath EP
15. Iron Jawed Guru, Mata Hari EP
16. Brume, Donkey
17. Bison Machine / Wild Savages / SLO, Sweet Leaves Vol. 1 Split
18. BoneHawk / Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Three Split
19. Wicked Gypsy, EP
20. Love Gang, Love Gang EP

Honorable Mention

An expansive category as ever. In addition to what’s above, the following stood out and no doubt more will be added over the course of the next few days. If you feel something is missing, please let me know.

Presented alphabetically:

Cambrian Explosion, The Moon EP
Candlemass, Death Thy Lover EP
Cultist, Cultist EP
Danava, At Midnight You Die 7″
Dos Malés, Dos Malés EP
Druglord, Deepest Regrets EP
Fu Manchu, Slow Ride 7″
Geezer, A Flagrant Disregard for Happiness 12″
Gorilla vs. Grifter, Split
Holy Smoke, Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo!
Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar
LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place EP
Pallbearer, Fear and Fury
Reign of Zaius, Planet Of…
Sea of Bones / Ramlord, Split
Shallows, The Moon Rises
The Skull, EP
Snowy Dunes, “Atlantis Part I” digital single
Sun Voyager / The Mad Doctors, Split
Valborg, Werwolf 7″

Notes

Was it just the raw joy of having Scissorfight back? No, but that was for sure part of it. It was also the brazenness with which the New Hampshire outfit let go of their past, particularly frontman Christopher “Ironlung” Shurtleff, and moved forward unwilling to compromise what they wanted to do that made their Chaos County so respectable in my eyes. Having always flourished in the form, they delivered an EP of classic Scissorfight tunes and issued a stiff middle finger to anyone who would dare call them otherwise. They couldn’t have been more themselves no matter who was in the band.

At the same time, it was a hard choice between that and the Earthless / Harsh Toke split for the top spot. I mean, seriously. It’s Earthless — who at this point are the godfathers of West Coast jamadelica — and Harsh Toke, who are among the style’s most engaging upstart purveyors, each stretching out over a huge and encompassing single track. I couldn’t stop listening to that one if I wanted to, and as the year went on, I found I never wanted to.

I was glad when Mars Red Sky included the title-track of the Providence EP as a bonus cut on their subsequent album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), both because it tied the two releases together even further and because it gave me another opportunity to hear it every time I listened to the record. Their short releases have always shown significant character apart from their full-lengths, and this was no exception. I still tear up when I hear “Sapphire Vessel.”

To bounce around a bit: Had to get Mos Generator on the list for the progressive expansion of the live-recorded The Firmament. Stickman was right to put that out on vinyl. Both Monolord and Goya provided quick outings of huge riffs to sate their respective and growing followings, while Megaritual’s Eclipse basked in drone serenity and the debut release from Sergio Ch.’s Soldati provided hard-driving heavy rock with the particular nuance for which the former Los Natas frontman is known. It’s the highest among a slew of first/early outings — see also The Sweet Heat, Wren (Host was their second EP), River Cult’s demo, Stinkeye, Mindkult, Iron Jawed Guru, Brume, Wicked Gypsy and Love Gang.

Ultimately, there were fewer splits on the list this year than last year, but I’ll credit that to happenstance more than any emergent bias against the form or lack of quality in terms of what actually came out. The BoneHawk and Kingnomad release, the Ragged Barracudas and Pushy split, and that heavy rocking onslaught from Bison Machine and company were all certainly welcome by me, and I’ll mention Gorilla vs. Grifter there too again, just because it was awesome.

One more time, thank you for reading, and if you have something to add, please do so in the comments below. Your civility in that regard is appreciated.

This is the last of my lists for 2016, but the Readers Poll results are out Jan. 1 and the New Year hits next week and that brings a whole new round of looking-forward coverage, so stay tuned.

As always, there’s much more to come.

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Friday Full-Length: Karma to Burn, Karma to Burn

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Karma to Burn, Karma to Burn (1997)

They weren’t yet the band they wanted to be, and it’s important to acknowledge that at the outset. Seven years ago, when I spoke to now-former Roadrunner Records A&R head honcho Monte Conner about his label’s involvement with the makings of stoner rock in the late ’90s, Karma to Burn were bound to come up. In addition to having issued the Burn One Up: Music for Stoners compilation in 1997 (which featured the West Virginian outfit alongside a very early appearance from Queens of the Stone Age with a different singer, as well as The Heads, Gnu, Sleep, Blind Dog, Fu Manchu, Spiritual Beggars, Slaprocket and others), and though they were of course known more as a metal label and were releasing the likes of Type O Negative, Life of Agony, Fear Factory and Sepultura at the time, Roadrunner was the party responsible for bringing Karma to Burn‘s self-titled debut to public attention — part of a kind of under-the-underground involvement in what was then a burgeoning post-Kyuss movement of heavy rock. In the almost two decades since its release, and of course in light of all the instrumental work the band has done since, the narrative about the label forcing them to get a singer has become an essential piece of context. Here’s what Conner had to say in 2009:

“Basically, we saw Karma to Burn for the first time here in New York at a club called Brownies, myself and Howie Abrams, the guy who led the charge in signing the band. We saw them as an instrumental trio and were just absolutely floored at the power. You could listen to Karma to Burn even without vocals and it was still captivating, at least for one record. It might wear thin after a while, especially with songs called ‘Thirty-Nine,’ ‘Forty,’ ‘Forty-Two,’ it’s a little hard to keep track at that point.

But we did see Karma and we were absolutely floored and we thought, ‘God, if these guys get a singer there’s gonna be no stopping them!’ At the time we signed the band, the whole courtship process and signing the band, the band at that point did want to get a singer and agreed to get a singer, and it was only after frustration of not finding someone that I think the band realized, ‘Hey, maybe we’re better without a singer, we’re more unique this way, we don’t need a singer.’

At that point, they told us ‘No singer,’ and we were objecting because we signed them with the intention of getting a singer, and as I said, that was laid out from the beginning and when we signed them, they said, ‘Yes, we are going to get a singer.’ So they kind of changed the game on us, and they had already recorded the entire record prior to having a singer, figuring, ‘We’ll get the singer and he’ll just go in and lay down the tracks.’ Eventually, due to pressure from us, the band still couldn’t find a singer and had a local friend of theirs, Jason Jarosz, come in and put down vocals.

Not traditional vocals at all, but these really sinister, kind of strange — as you can hear on the record — kind of weird vocals, that we thought were cool, even though they were not typical vocals at all. It kind of gave the whole thing an eerie, avant garde feeling. So we accepted it, we were okay with it, but I think in the end, it really wasn’t the type of vocals we imagined. I think we were settling at that point, just because we wanted to get the record out.

The band went along with it to appease us, but in the end I don’t think they liked this guy’s vocals. They were very rebellious and were like, ‘Fuck this, we don’t want a singer,’ so they basically parted ways with this guy and decided to continue on as an instrumental band and at that point we weren’t interested in continuing, so we dropped them…” — Monte Conner (more here)

I think my favorite part about that entire quote is “They were very rebellious,” since it basically encapsulates the entire career of Karma to Burn and particularly their sole remaining founder, guitarist Will Mecum, whose perspective seems to have always been a middle finger in the face of anyone who’s going to say otherwise on just about any issue. I don’t know if I’ve ever spoken about the band, who released the Mountain Czar EP (review here) and toured with The Obsessed this year, without calling their sound “bullshit-free,” and indeed, I consider that to be their defining sonic feature. Right up there with “riffs.”

They are and have for a long time been the straightest line to heavy rock and roll, and while records like 1999’s Wild Wonderful Purgatory and 2001’s Almost Heathen provided the defining hours for their approach — Mecum along with bassist Rich Mullins and drummer Rob Oswald — the self-titled has always been by its very nature a standout from everything that followed it. Jarosz‘s vocals, quieter and less burly than what, say, Sixty Watt Shaman were doing at the time, had an attitude all their own, and while one might find some politically suspect lyrics in “Mt. Penetrator,” there’s an underlying sad blue-collar poetry to the words that gets lost in a lot of modern Southern rock, which is more about the boozing, the womanizing, the party-as-escape. Karma to Burn‘s self-titled, which also introduced the band’s signature numbered instrumentals with “Eight,” “Thirteen” and “Six” after the landmark hook of opener “Ma Petite Mort,” undercut that impulse to a degree and came across as an emotionally richer and somewhat more honest offering because of it.

Maybe don’t tell that to the band. In 2012, they’d revisit this material and release it completely instrumental as Slight Reprise, a fitting swansong for the then-reformed Mecum/Mullins/Oswald lineup. Mecum has of course carried the band forward, working now with a strong European focus and the rhythm section of bassist Eric Clutter and drummer Evan Devine. Their last full-length was 2014’s Arch Stanton (review here) — Clutter was not yet in the lineup — but they’ve been reborn as a touring act. This fall, they made the rounds in Europe and played Desertfest in Athens as well as Keep it Low, and having been fortunate enough to see them this summer at Maryland Doom Fest (review here), I can attest to the drive and push they emit from a stage being as middle-finger as ever, and so, true to the foundation they laid with this self-titled debut.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

How was your week? Mine went by in a blur of corporately-tinged workflow process acronyms — letters that meant nothing to me until a few months ago (and some that still don’t). Made me think maybe I should come up with important-sounding abbreviations for what I do here. “Why did you get up at 5AM?” “I had a big RWM to get through,” where all RWM means is “review-writing in the morning.” Or, more appropriately, “I had to finish the FFL.” Friday Full-Length.

You get the idea.

However, since I don’t really talk about the site with anyone, it would pretty much be an inside joke with myself, and that seems kind of sad in this context.

Before I forget — THANK YOU to everyone who has submitted their best-of 2016 list so far to the YEP (Year-End Poll). If you haven’t yet, please do. As of right now, the tally stands at 370 submissions. I hope by the end of the weekend to pass 388, which was last year’s total for the entire month of December. Not bad for being less than half the time. I am humbled and deeply grateful.

You might’ve noticed the Album Covers that Kicked Ass in 2016 list didn’t go up this week. I had crazytimes at the office and though the piece about that Comet Control track being my favorite song of the year turned out to be a doozy in its own right, it required much less time on the back end than tracking down and laying out different art jpegs would. I’ll get to work on it this weekend — I also have some fest writeups to do — and have it up on Monday, disaster pending.

Speaking of “subject to change,” here’s the rest of what’s in the ol’ notes for next week:

Mon.: Art list (who knew?) and new video from Sun Blood Stories. Don’t miss either of them.
Tue.: News on the SonicBlast Moledo fest and new recordings from Australia’s Merchant, an album stream from Elbrus and video from Crippled Black Phoenix. Don’t miss any of that either.
Wed.: Track premiere from Indian metallers Rudra.
Thu.: Review of the new Sgt. Sunshine.
Fri.: Review of the new T.G. Olson.

We get kind of tentative there toward the end of the week, and I’m basically doing myself favors at this point in terms of picking what I want to write about. Anytime you see me covering something from T.G. Olson or his main outfit, Across Tundras, you can pretty much guess that I’m doing so in order to maximize enjoyment of the day. Not that I don’t dig writing about most of what I write about — no point to the site otherwise — but as you know if you’ve already made out your top 20 and turned it in for the Year-End Poll, these things are relative.

Hey, have a great weekend, alright? Please do that.

Largely at the insistence of The Patient Mrs., I went ahead and took Monday off from work (will make sure to put up my “OOO”). She rather correctly asserted that I needed a three-day weekend. No argument, I just don’t get paid for the time I don’t work, so it’s money out of my pocket to stay home. Still, money ain’t everything and sometimes those hours are worth their weight in gold. So I’ll be around. In my pajamas. Sitting on ass. Hopefully playing Final Fantasy. And writing. And that’s my plan.

Whatever you’re up to, please be safe and have a great time. Thanks for reading this long-ass post if you have, and we’ll see you back here Monday. In the meantime, please check out the forum and radio stream.

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