Call me crazy, but I still can’t see the phrase “the horror” and not think of Marlon Brando saying it in some dark cave. Maybe Apocalypse Now is what Los Angeles heavy rockers Witches of God were going for when they titled the penultimate and longest song on their full-length debut, The Blood of Others(review here), but the chorus of the track itself leaves it somewhat more open, since it’s the lines, “All the horror that’s in you/All the horror you will see,” keep it relatively vague whether or not they’re being referential. That album, if you haven’t heard it, is silly with hooks. They’re just all over the place. But they picked the right one for a Wino guest spot.
The thing that impressed so much about The Blood of Otherswas how impeccably put together it was. Especially for being Witches of God‘s first outing, it not only had songwriting, but a perspective from which it was working — vaguely cultish but not enough to seem to be sacrificing accessibility — and a sense of presentation that came through even in the studio recording. It was crisp and clear, but it sounded like a show, and a good one at that. A pro job, in other words. Self-aware but not restrained and with no shortage of tonal weight or groove. Wino wasn’t the only guest, either. Eddie Solis of It’s Casual also contributed to two tracks, so there was a decent sense of changing up their approach as well.
I’ll include the link to the Witches of God Bandcamp in case anyone wants to give the full thing a listen, but “The Horror” deserves specific Wino Wednesday highlighting, so here we go. Please find the track on the player below, lose yourself in the chugging riffage of its verses, and of course have a killer Wino Wednesday:
Well of course it was going to be Spirit Caravan for Wino Wednesday this week. In light of the announcement last Friday that the trio of Scott “Wino” Weinrich (guitar/vocals), Dave Sherman (bass/vocals) and Gary Isom (drums) will reform to headline the 2014 London and Berlin Desertfests, there was really no other way to go. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a couple US dates. I’ll travel if I need to to catch them on the East Coast, I’ll do it, but golly, a Boston show sure would be nice. Or a full-scale North American tour with new material in tow. That’d be nice too. Either way, really.
At this point, it’s not at all known how it’s going to shake out. April’s a long way away and a lot could happen between now and then. Maybe the whole thing falls apart. I hope not, but it’s been a long time since Spirit Caravan last played together. Maybe they decide it’s not worth pursuing and pull out of the fests. What will also be intriguing is to see how or if Spirit Caravan getting going again has an effect on The Obsessed‘s own reunion run. That Wino-fronted trio has been playing shows here and there over the last year-plus. Will they keep on as well? That would make Saint Vitus, The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan all active at the same time. Wino‘s never come off as a guy inclined to sit still for long, but wow.
Nothing to do but wait and see what happens. In any case, the reintroduction of Spirit Caravan is excellent news and I’m happy to celebrate it with the title-track from the band’s 2001 sophomore outing, Elusive Truth.Though the 2003 compilation The Last Embracewas clearly intended to be the band’s swansong, Elusive Truthwas their final full-length, and the eponymous cut from it shows that parts of the album had a little more doom to them than the higher-spirits vibes that permeated Spirit Caravan‘s now-classic 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun. It would’ve been interesting to hear where a third Spirit Caravan record wound up sonically. Maybe we’ll get the chance to find out.
Enjoy “Elusive Truth” and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Spirit Caravan, “Elusive Truth” from Elusive Truth (2001)
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
In news you care way less about, I’ve been made a press partner with both the London and Berlin Desertfests again and I’m proud and happy to be continuing this site’s relationship with the expanding and continually impressive festivals. In news that’s a little more holy-shit-pardon-me-while-I-pick-up-my-jaw, Spirit Caravan – guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Dave Sherman and drummer Gary Isom – have reunited and will be among the headliners for both Berlin and London in 2014. I’m floored.
Rumors have been going around of a Spirit Caravan reunion for years and escalated recently, but this is the first official word of a reunion from the legendary trio, whose 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun, remains one of the finest American heavy rock records ever released. Keep an eye out for more to come on the reunion and more from the London and Berlin Desertfest. Other confirmed acts for Berlin are Gozu, Elder, Black Rainbows, Causa Sui, Prisma Circus, Huata and Sardonis.
The PR wire makes it official:
SPIRIT CARAVAN (USA) – EXCLUSIVE REUNION SHOWS AT BOTH DESERTFESTS
Here we are ! First headliner confirmed for both DESERTFEST LONDON & BERLIN is… the cult band SPIRIT CARAVAN, finally back after 12 years !!!
When The Obsessed folded in 1995 Scott “Wino” Weinrich moved from California to his native Maryland to create the band Shine. After a demo entitled “Powershine” and a 7″ EP “Lost Sun Dance” release during 1997 Shine became SPIRIT CARAVAN as he was joined by bass player Dave Sherman and drummer Gary Isom.
A 7″ single shared with Sixty Watt Shaman in 1999 was their first release together and several others followed : their first full-length album “Jug Fulla Sun” in 1999, a second EP intitled “Dreamwheel” later the same year, and after an extensive U.S. and European tour, their sophomore effort, “Elusive Truth” in 2001.
While SPIRIT CARAVAN’s sound isn’t drastically different from the aforementioned The Obsessed, who welded the foot-stomping organic qualities of Grand Funk Railroad with no-frills American roots punk like The Dictators, all the while observing Black Sabbath, SPIRIT CARAVAN injected a healthy dose of cryptic psychedelia to their mix. Scott “Wino” Weinrich’s guitar tone evinces the slow burning wisdom derived from many decades of hard living and touring in the underground music community.
The band received a lot of praise from the doom/stoner community but, unfortunately, SPIRIT CARAVAN split-up in May 2002… But as he showed many times in the past, Wino is like a phoenix ! And now it’s time for SPIRIT CARAVAN to be reborn !!
Let´s celebrate SPIRIT CARAVAN´s EXCLUSIVE Reunion shows at DESERTFEST LONDON & BERLIN !! Order now your tickets to attend this amazing event by sending an email atTICKETS@DESERTFEST.DE
I was at this show, and I recall it specifically both because the wind off the river on that side of Philadelphia was so goddamn cold and because I was supposed to have a tooth pulled the next day. I had been to the dentist a few weeks prior and he was like, “Dude, we gotta get this thing outta here,” and I was like, “Hey man, is that really the proper medical terminology?” and he was all, “Whatevs, we’re yankin’ it,” and then we both laughed because he said “yankin’ it.” Best dentist I ever had.
Anyway, I was going to the show in Philly at the Khyber Pass — Pale Divine also played and were killer — and I treated it like the last hurrah for my tooth. The tooth always liked Wino, so I was taking it out for one last night on the town. We went to dinner beforehand — the tooth always liked Chinese food — and had a couple drinks to celebrate the tooth’s life. “Taken too soon,” went the toast. I remember it well. The tooth and I had a great time at the show. The Hidden Hand had put out their Night Letters split with Wooly Mammoth a few months prior, and they were still playing a lot of material from 2004′s Mother Teacher Destroyer, which was excellent. That was always the tooth’s favorite The Hidden Hand record.
A wild time all around. The tooth briefly met Wino (no, I don’t mean I bit him) and it was a crazy late night. I was living in West Paterson at the time, had been married just a few months, and I didn’t get back north from Philadelphia until the sun was coming up. The tooth and I had pulled an all-nighter. I shudder to think what my breath must’ve smelled like at the dentist’s even after a vigorous brushing. Maybe that was why he decided he couldn’t bring himself to pull the tooth. He said, “Let’s wait five years and revisit the idea.” Eight years on, I’ve still got it and no other dentist I’ve gone to since has even broached the subject. The tooth got a going-away party and didn’t have to leave. Neither would it be the last time it or I saw The Hidden Hand.
“Sunblood” comes off the trio’s 2003 debut, Divine Propaganda, and the vocals are a little low in the clip below, but should be enough to get the point across. Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
The Hidden Hand, “Sunblood” Live in Philly, Feb. 5, 2005
I’ll be perfectly honest with you. My intention was to post a clip of The Obsessed from 1994 for this week’s Wino Wednesday that was filmed in North Carolina. It was two songs and I didn’t recognize the second one. I went through and tried to figure out what track it was, and was reasonably certain it was a different version of “Brother Blue Steel” from 1991′s Lunar Womb (I’ve since revised the hypothesis), but as I was checking out different versions of the song, I stumbled on this one from last year’s Hellfest in France, and I decided it was too good not to run with it.
You can really hear Guy Pinhas‘ bass, but it’s not blown out, and I think my favorite part might be just before a minute and a half in, when someone in the crowd in front of whoever was shooting raises not a glass, but an entire pitcher of beer in The Obsessed‘s honor. I guess that says a lot, but whatever’s left, the lumbering shuffle of the verse to “Brother Blue Steel” most likely has it covered. And if it’s any consolation to someone interested in seeing the clip from North Carolina 18 years earlier — which I’m sure I’ll feature here eventually — I think drummer Greg Rogers is wearing the same hat.
Of all guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich‘s bands over the years, The Obsessed are still the most straightforward. They’re doom and that’s it. When and if it arrives, a new studio album could carry new twists, but in their initial run, they were never fancy. Spirit Caravan were more stoner, The Hidden Hand were more political, Saint Vitus is a different songwriting process, and everything else is a collaboration of some sort other than the acoustic stuff. Listening to The Obsessed is like looking at a plant’s roots. There may or may not be more colorful parts of the plant, but if you want to know where that plant came from there’s only one place to go.
Enjoy “Brother Blue Steel,” and have a great Wino Wednesday:
The Obsessed, “Brother Blue Steel” live at Hellfest 2012
I won’t pretend to have a grasp on the catalog or progression of Italian doom master Paul Chain (né and now performing under Paolo Catena), and frankly I think most who do are full of shit. From 1977-2003, however, Chain contributed a few pivotal works that continue to find relevance today — his 1991 outing, Whited Sepulchres, was reissued this year by Svart — and from ’77 to ’84, he played guitar in Death SS in their earliest incarnation. His output with that band was culled together in 1987 for the compilation The Story of Death SS 1977-1984, and released on the Italian imprint Minotauro Records (also reissued by Svart in 2013, as it happens), and sounds of its era, but is definitely worth tracking down. Chain‘s subsequent work in Paul Chain Violet Theatre and under his own moniker gets more and more varied and experimental as it goes on, but even the first EP, Detaching from Satan, was ahead of its time. If it came out today, it would be called groundbreaking.
After having an “artistic death” and subsequent rebirth as Paolo Catena in 2003, Chain‘s career under that name was wrapped up in 2004 with two compilations, both of unreleased material. By their nature, they’re uneven — from what I’ve heard of them, there are a few gems and some stuff that was unreleased for a reason; pretty typical — but two of the tracks on Unreleased Vol. 2were demos featuring Scott “Wino” Weinrich. Both “Bloodwing” (previously featured on Wino Wednesday here) and “Nibiru Dawn” are notable not just for the Weinrich collaboration, but also because they’re among the few Paul Chain songs to feature lyrics, as opposed to the phonetic syllables Chain used for vocals throughout his career.
More even than “Bloodwing,” “Nibiru Dawn” shows the kind of potential a Wino/Chain partnership might’ve had, Weinrich‘s voice soaring over Chain‘s atmospheric organ work, resting in the groove of a classically doomed verse riff on the way to a lead-topped chorus. Of course, it wasn’t to be or it certainly would’ve been by now, more than a decade later, but the song holds up and makes a great curio for anyone unfamiliar with Chain‘s output or who maybe wasn’t aware these two had ever teamed up. For anyone interested, Catena released a textured and experimental album, Quadri Musicale, last year on New Light Records.
Even as far as Wino Wednesday posts go, this one’s pretty Wino‘ed out. The date was May 28, 1999, and Spirit Caravan was playing in Wheaton, Maryland, at a club called Phantasmagoria that they would play many times over their years together, both earlier as Shine and later until their breakup in 2002, and right in a row in the set the now-legendary three-piece of Scott “Wino” Weinrich, Dave Sherman and Gary Isom covered “To Protect and Serve” by The Obsessed and “Bitter Truth” by Saint Vitus. One Wino-fronted band taking on songs by two others. It couldn’t get any more Wino if the dude was wearing a Shine shirt at the time — oh wait, he was. So there you go.
Separated by a span of six years, “Bitter Truth” and “To Protect and Serve” work pretty well together, especially since it’s Spirit Caravan playing them. The Saint Vitus song appeared originally on 1988′s Mournful Cries, which is kind of the bastard child of Wino‘s first era as Saint Vitus vocalist (the second era, by the way, is happening now), sandwiched in the discography between the landmark 1986 outing, Born tooLate,and 1990′s V. Cuts like “The Troll” and “Shooting Gallery” still feature in Vitus sets at least as of last week, and rightly so. Likewise, “To Protect and Serve” was a single from The Obsessed‘s 1994 swansong, The Church Within, and that material has always hit heavier live than on disc.
That’s all the more the case with Sherman‘s bass carrying the groove alongside Wino‘s riffs (nothing against Guy Pinhas, who played on the record, or Reid Raley, who’s been TheObsessed‘s bassiston their current reunion run). As Wino takes a solo around two minutes into “To Protect and Serve,” you can hear Sherman hold out notes and kick back in, and it’s telling of the kinds of grooves go on to proffer in Earthride.
Really, the tall dude up front who spends the whole time headbanging and pumping his fists has the right idea, so I’ll shut up and let this one play out. Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Spirit Caravan, “To Protect and Serve” and “Bitter Truth” live in Wheaton, MD, May 28, 1999
Posted in Reviews on October 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I won’t lie: The fact that Saint Vitus were playing on a Tuesday night had added nerdy glee for me for Wino Wednesday prospects. I was going to the show one way or another, but the fact that I could do two years in a row of live reviews for Wino Wednesday was an extra appeal. Last September, they played Brooklyn on my wedding anniversary and it was one of the best shows I’d ever seen. Doesn’t feel like more than a year ago, but the numbers tell it. Been a hell of a year.
Including, apparently, for Saint Vitus, who rolled through the downstairs space at Boston’s famed Middle East – a name I’ve seen on lists of tour dates forever but hadn’t actually ever been to until this show; the fact that I’ve only lived here for two months might have something to do with it — with Pallbearer and The Hookers in tow. Now well past their “reunion band” novelty and into the sphere of working a tour cycle, Saint Vitus delivered probably the most professional set I’ve seen from them. Gozu had joined the bill as local support, so I made sure to arrive early at the Middle East, which was a fortunate decision for the traffic I sat in getting there, and catch the start of the show.
That itself was also early, with Gozu going on around 7:30 following 7PM doors. I parked a couple blocks away and hustled in my lurching way to get into the venue and to the front of the stage, and here’s how it went from there:
Stop me if you’ve heard me say this about Gozu before, but the Beantown natives have hit that echelon of performance where the only thing that can possibly bring them to another level is touring. A band gets to a point where they’re so tight, so crisp in their delivery and so cohesive as a unit that just doing a show, even a relatively big one, which this was — that Middle East stage is wide, and deep; you could put a couch up there and make it your living room — is only going to do so much for them. Two albums in, Gozu have hit that point, so with the prospect of European dates around their impending Roadburn performance in the Netherlands next spring, it was a joy to watch them take a victory stomp over the hometown crowd. I hadn’t heard “Jan-Michael Vincent” from Locust Season in a while, with its funky vocal riding atop a fervent heavy rock groove, and though I still think they could milk that chorus for another round or two, it fit in well accompanied by “Ghost Wipe” from this year’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here), from which the majority of the set was derived, though both swaggering opener “Meat Charger” and closer “Mr. Riddle” came from the earlier record, the latter following a blistering run through “Charles Bronson Pinchot” from the 2013 album. That song is about as aggressive as Gozu – guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, guitarist Doug Sherman, bassist Joe Grotto and drummer Barry Spillberg, who seems only more righteously destructive every time I watch him play — have gotten to date, but even “Bald Bull,” which was comparatively unobtrusive in its studio form, was brought to life with considerable movement of air. Ditto that for “Signed, Epstein’s Mom.” I know for a fact that I’ll catch them again before they hit the road in Europe, but I’ll really be interested to see what some solid touring brings to their approach. As it was, they were an early treat well worth the rush-hour traffic to catch.
Monks of the First Church of Lemmy, Scientist, the Kentucky-based metalopunks The Hookers were demented, loud, energetic, and fun. How they wound up on a touring bill with Pallbearer and Saint Vitus, I have no idea, but they were a good time all the same, and seemed to revel in their standout position, frontman Adam “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw” Neal pumping his fist to the d-beat sprint in songs like “Rock ‘n’ Roll Motherfucker,” “Black Magic” and “Black Thunder.” Even their “slow” stuff was fast and they knew it, and I’m not sure if they’ve gotten a mixed response at other shows, but they seemed to think they’d be worse received than they were. Maybe that’s part of the show, positioning themselves as hated to play up the scumbag aspect, but it’s worth noting that toward the end of the set, when bassist/backing vocalist Juan Badmutha came down from the stage into the crowd, he was almost immediately invited to partake in somebody’s PBR, which that showgoer even carefully poured into his mouth so he didn’t have to stop playing. That’s courtesy. They were a long way away from being “my thing,” but they hit hard from the stage and made no effort to pretend they weren’t enjoying themselves or that it wasn’t fun to sing songs about horror movies and booze and whatever else, and I certainly respect the hell out of that. Even from Gozu, who can be plenty uptempo when they get to it, The Hookers were a swift change, covering themselves and their audience in whiskey-soaked grit metal, unabashed in a high-speed AC/DC kind of way with several shredding guitar solos tossed off with foot-on-the-monitor command.
Most of what Arkansas doomers Pallbearer played was new, as in, after the release of their 2012 full-length debut, Sorrow and Extinction(review here). Two of the songs — the set opener and another of the total three (I think) new ones — didn’t yet have vocals, but the double-guitar four-piece still used one of the instrumentals as the wrap of their set proper because, as guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell put it, “It’s fun to play.” Campbell is emotive enough on stage to cover for lyrics most of the time anyway, and Pallbearer‘s leads, provided either by him or fellow guitarist Devin Holt, are so mournful that the feeling is conveyed one way or another as bassist Joseph D. Rowland and drummer Mark Lierly hold together the huge, spacious-sounding plod of the material, the former also putting on a headbanging clinic for anyone fortunate enough to be there to watch. Rowland had a whole side of the stage to himself, which was different from every other time I’ve seen Pallbearer – Campbell was front and center, splitting Rowland and Holt, where in the past he’s been to the left, with the bassist and guitarist in subsequent left-to-right line. The shift made Campbell come across all the more like a frontman, particularly for that portion of the set which had vocals, including the distinct “Devoid of Redemption” from Sorrow and Extinction, and a surprising but potent take on Black Sabbath‘s “Over and Over,” the closing track from Mob Rules, which was the finale/epilogue to their time. It’s always a bold choice to take on Dio material, whether it’s Sabbath or not, but to their credit, Pallbearer were wise not to try to capture the same kind of feel as the original version, instead slowing it down, thickening it out, and letting Campbell deliver the lyrics — which actually fit pretty well with Pallbearer‘s consistent downer thematics — in his own style. Not only was it the shortest song in their set, but it played to an influence I wouldn’t have expected on the part of the band. A young woman in the crowd shouted, “Put out another fucking album!” and that seemed to be the prevailing sentiment all around. Hopefully in 2014.
Right in the middle of their set, just before they launched into “Let Them Fall” from last year’s über-excellent return outing, Lillie: F-65(review here), Saint Vitus guitarist Dave Chandler got on his mic — which was there solely to address the crowd in such a manner — and say that the song was their first-ever music video and that it got panned by “internet critics,” so let the internet critics fall. That’s always a bummer. Nonetheless, Vitus absolutely destroyed. A Tuesday night, still the beginning the week, I don’t really know what I was expecting, but they came out to “Vertigo” from Lillie: F-65and with a one-two of “Blessed Night” and “Clear Windowpane,” ignited the crowd and proceeded from there to pummel with classic after classic from their catalog. They’ve toured with some consistency since the record came out, and among the encouraging signs I took from their set was that cuts like the aforementioned “Blessed Night” and “Let Them Fall,” as well as “The Bleeding Ground” and “The Waste of Time” fit exceedingly well with essential Vitus tracks like “Living Backwards,” the anthemic “I Bleed Black” and “War is Our Destiny.” Chandler, vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez looked like a band who’d been playing shows for the last 11 nights in a row — that is, set in their execution like the whole thing was muscle memory — and the crowd couldn’t have been more into it. Moshing broke out during “The Bleeding Ground,” as Chandler noted, and a couple of surprise inclusions later on like “Shooting Gallery” from 1988′s Mournful Criesand “White Stallions” from 1985′s Hallow’s Victim, which seemed to take the place of their eponymous song in closing out their regular set, made for welcome additions to “The Troll” and the other older material. Vasquez got on mic before the encore to talk up the crowd and introduce the band coming back out. Mark Adams was “Original Member Number 69″ and “the King of Beers” both, and Chandler was “Mr. Doom Himself” or something thereabouts, while Wino was the “Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla” (somebody was a wrestling fan). Each of the three came out on cue and Saint Vitus capped the night with “Dying Inside” and, of course, “Born too Late” – Wino and Chandler both hopping off stage and into the crowd during the course — which only underscored how on their game the band is some four years into what’s apparently (and thankfully) an ongoing reunion. I had some hopes in the back of my mind for a new song, as they put word out in July that Chandler has started writing for their next album, but no dice there. As dead on as they were, I could hardly call it a loss, though, especially with the comfort I get to have in saying “maybe next time” about a band who, a few short years ago, I was convinced I’d never get to see live. Fucking awesome.
As a side note to the review, I just want to say that I met John Perez from Solitude Aeturnus at the show. A personal landmark. There working for Vitus along with former The Gates of Slumber drummer J. Clyde Paradis –which if nothing else should be indicative of the respect doom has for its forebears — he’s someone I’ve been in contact with periodically for the last decade or so who’s been perennially awesome to me, whether I’ve been covering his band or stuff on his Brainticket Records label, whatever it might be, or even just generally offering me advice and shooting the shit back and forth. An all-around great dude and a hand I was very glad to have an opportunity to shake after so long.
A lot of songs are memorable in the sense of making you go, “Oh yeah, that one.” Far fewer are haunting. It’s much rarer to have a track dig into you and implant itself in something primal in your emotions. When it comes to the early-2012 Heavy Kingdom (review here) collaborative album from Scott “Wino” Weinrich and German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs, there were a couple genuinely haunting songs. “Dark Ravine” comes to mind, as do “Somewhere Nowhere” and “Traces of Blood,” the Ochs-led melody of which might be the record’s most affecting.
I suppose you could argue in favor of others in that regard, but for the product of a duo, “Traces of Blood” offered perhaps the loneliest moment on Heavy Kingdom. No doubt a big part of that stems from Ochs taking the fore on vocals while Wino hangs back, but other cuts like “Labour of Love” and the semi-plugged “Vultures by the Vines” had arrangements that seemed almost bombastic in comparison. “Traces of Blood” was quiet, fragile, and the darkest moment the twosome would provide until side B’s “Here Comes the Siren.” As we see in the clip below taken from the Wino & Conny Ochs European tour in support of the album, while Ochs is handling the guitar progression and the vocals, Wino adds atmospheric depth via the e-bow, vibrating strings giving off a subtle hum throughout that’s almost like synth but immediately familiar all the same.
Rumor came through a while back of a second Weinrich/Ochs album in the works. Wino‘s schedule for much of 2013 having been tied up in reunion appearances with The Obsessed and ongoing Saint Vitus touring (I’m certainly not about to complain about either), I don’t know when they might get to putting material together for a follow-up to Heavy Kingdom, but hopefully sooner or later it happens. Particularly as a follow-up to Wino‘s solo acoustic debut, Adrift (review here), it expanded Wino‘s breadth as a performer and though he’s had a longer career, he seemed to revel in learning from Ochs as much as writing songs with him. I’d enjoy a chance to find out where their collaboration might go from there.
It couldn’t have been too long after The Obsessed split following the release of 1994′s The Church Within that Scott “Wino” Weinrich got his next project going. Shine, who’d later become Spirit Caravan, united Weinrich with bassist Dave Sherman and drummer Gary Isom, and I don’t feel like I’m overstating it when I say they were one of the most potent heavy rock power trios of all time. A landmark band, both within Wino‘s already-considerable-by-then discography and within the genre as a whole, their dynamic was as volatile as their grooves were smooth. While it’s not much of a surprise they didn’t get past two full-length albums as Spirit Caravan – Shine released the Powertimedemo and Shine7″ in 1997 before changing the name — their last release being the 2002 7″ single, “So Mortal Be,” what they were able to accomplish in a relatively short span of years stands up to this day as a high water mark for others to follow.
With Shine, it’s easy to view that era as little more than the beginnings of what became Spirit Caravan, but the truth is that by the time they were putting out Powertime, the three-piece already had their sound together and knew how to ride their riffs in that way so particularly their own. All you have to do is listen to Isom‘s drums in the clip below of “No Hope Goat Farm,” taped April 12, 1997, in Washington, D.C., to understand just how on it Shine was even before the name switch. He plays back on a riser on what’s a pretty large stage — I’m not sure on the venue, but according the list that came with the Megabox, Shine played D.C. a few times that year — while Sherman and Wino groove out under the front lights. It looks like a good time all around.
“No Hope Goat Farm” would wind up as the closer in Spirit Caravan‘s unfuckwithable 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun, and of course after Spirit Caravan broke up, Sherman went on to front Earthride only to reunite with Isom later in Weed is Weed — Isom having done a stint in Pentagram in the meantime — while Wino embarked on the new trio The Hidden Hand. The video’s pretty rough, in case you don’t remember what camcorders were like in 1997, but from where I sit looking dated only adds to the appeal.
Their tenure was not long at all. Videos of Wino jamming in an instrumental two-guitar four-piece called Premonition began to surface around 2010. Early in 2011, a debut 7″ from Premonition 13 was released (review here) and that was followed soon enough by their first full-length, 13(review here), on Volcom. They toured that fall with The Gates of Slumber and by the time they got around to releasing a song on a three-way split with Earthless and Radio Moscow (streamed here) last year, they weren’t a band anymore. Quick. A year together, maybe a little more, and then gone.
It’s still something of a mystery what happened on their last European tour in 2011 that led to them finishing that run as a trio, but that was the end of it. Guitarist/vocalist Jim Karow, who shared those duties with Wino, was out and I guess at that point, with Saint Vitus‘ reunion running concurrent, there was no reason to find someone else to fill that slot, since the Wino/Karow collaboration was the core of the group. They had some cool songs though, and it was interesting to hear another guitar alongside Wino‘s after his standing alone for so long in The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan and The Hidden Hand. The only other times I can think of when he was joined by another guitarist (in a non-guesting situation) was on the Heavy Kingdomalbum with Conny Ochs and on the similarly brief Shrinebuilder run, which paired Wino with his soon-to-be unplugged tourmate Scott Kelly of Neurosis. Both pretty recent examples.
But Premonition 13 was more a “Wino band” than either the supergroup Shrinebuilder or the acoustic Ochs collaboration, with his tone, songwriting and vocals as a major factor in the draw, so though it was brief, Premonition 13 remains something unique within Wino‘s canon. And with The Gates of Slumber having announced their breakup this week as well, that tour was on my mind, so it seemed even more appropriate to find this live Premonition 13 full set from Richmond, Virginia, from that stint.
Filmed Nov. 7, 2011, by TubeVisionDotCom, here’s Premonition 13‘s gig at Strange Matter in its entirety. Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
By the time Saint Vitus did a weekender tour of the East Coast in October 2009 (the Brooklyn show was killer), they’d replaced drummer Armando Acosta with Henry Vasquez, who was brought on board having worked previously with Vitus guitarist Dave Chandler‘s Debris Inc. project in addition to front-drumming his own band, Blood of the Sun. Earlier in the year, however, Vitus played both a warmup show in New Orleans and debuted their reunion at the Roadburn festival in the Netherlands before embarking on a European tour. Blown away as I was by actually getting to see Saint Fucking Vitus play for the first time — somewhere there’s a picture of a very drunk me with a very drunk Chandler afterwards — you could tell looking at Acosta that he wasn’t healthy.
It would be more than a year later, in December 2010 that Acosta passed away, and of course the Saint Vitus reunion was in full swing then and continues now as the band moves past their 2012 release, Lillie: F-65, and on to the prospect of a second full-length for Season of Mist. The lineup of Chandler, Vasquez, bassist Mark Adams and vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich have been back and forth to Europe a couple times at this point, and toured across the States as well, so although their original drummer didn’t live to see it, the continued success of the Vitus comeback I think says something about the timelessness of his work in the band, as well of course as that of the band overall.
Chandler spoke about his relationship with Acosta in an interview early in 2010 and about bringing Vasquez in as a replacement. It was a big deal at the time because although Vitus had been through a couple singers – Scott Reagers, Wino, Chritus Linderson — those were really the only lineup changes since they started out in 1978 as Tyrant. Subsequent touring and his work on Lillie: F-65 would prove Vasquez was indeed perfect for the drummer role — really all you had to do was watch him on stage with Adams and Chandler – but it was a surprise at the time nonetheless. Acosta‘s last tour with Vitus was that which followed Roadburn in 2009, and it’s from that run that this week’s Wino Wednesday clip comes.
Filmed in Cologne, Germany, by B-Light.tv at the Underground club, “I Bleed Black” is among Saint Vitus‘ most potent anthems. Originally appearing on the 1990 album V, it’s right up there with “Born too Late” and “Dying Inside” as some of Chandler‘s best lyrical declarations of the band’s first Wino-fronted era. Acosta sounds pretty rough here, but the band as a whole delivers an awesome rendition of the song anyway.
Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Saint Vitus, “I Bleed Black” Live in Cologne, Germany, April 27, 2009
Their tenure was brief, but the Wino trio nonetheless hold a place in the lore of their namesake guitarist/vocalist, tragic though it ultimately turned out to be. Formed with Scott “Wino” Weinrich himself, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster of Clutch and Rezin bassist Jon Blank, the Wino trio released their only studio album, Punctuated Equilibrium, through Southern Lord in 2009. It was very well received (one of my favorites from that year) and worked in a lighter, jammier spirit than did The Hidden Hand, which had dissolved in 2007. Of course, it was still plenty weighted and had no shortage of crunch and fuzz, but the grooves Gaster worked around Wino‘s riffing and the warm, natural low end brought to the material from Blank made the record a joy to listen to on multiple levels. It came out in winter and made you long for summer.
I was fortunate enough to see the Wino band at Roadburn in 2009 as part of a weekend that, no bullshit, changed my life. They killed, as one would expect, and later released the set as the aptly-titled Live in Roadburn 2009on Burning World/Roadburn Records (review here). The chemistry between the three players was fully locked in, from the balcony in the Green Room at the 013 in Tilburg, they looked to be having a great time, and they looked like a band who could very easily go for a long time doing whatever they wanted in between Gaster‘s commitments to Clutch, jamming and rocking out tunes like “Wild Blue Yonder” and “Release Me,” “Smilin’ Road” and “The Woman in the Orange Pants.” Given that, how on their game they were, it was all the more horrible when the band returned to the States and Blank died of an overdose a short time later.
Wino joined Clutch on a tour that summer with Gaster pulling double-duty on drums and Dog Fashion Disco‘s Brian White filling the bassist slot, but it wasn’t ever going to be the same, and by the fall of 2009, Wino was beginning the unplugged explorations that would result in his 2010 solo acoustic debut, Adrift(review here), the trio effectively defunct. There isn’t much quality live footage around of them — not every cellphone was an HD video camera in 2009 — but this clip of them playing “Skybone,” the centerpiece from The Obsessed‘s 1994 final studio album, The Church Within, at the German Doom Shall Rise festival on that lone European tour makes it plain that they were something special in their time.
Posted in Reviews on September 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Two factors work in the immediate favor of The Blood of Others, the self-released debut full-length from Los Angeles doom rockers Witches of God: Craft and performance. Technically speaking, there really isn’t much more you need once you’ve got knowing what you want to do and doing it. Witches of God come into the eight-track, analog-recorded, 45-minute vinyl outing with a firm grasp on aesthetic, a collection of songs that work in a variety of moods and an underlying structure of tracks that maximizes the overall flow between them. Even before you press play or lower the arm on your turntable, The Blood of Othersshowcases its accomplishment by beginning with “Devils II” and “Devils III” while saving “Devils” itself for side B, as the opening duo make for catchier, stronger material and it’s glaringly obvious that Witches of God knew that and had the presence of mind and editorial sensibility to separate a trio of cuts that on countless other records probably would’ve been stuck all together at the end. That’s craft. The actual songwriting, which makes “Devils II” and cuts like “The Blood of Others,” “Higher than the Heavens” — which is a tribute to Denis “Piggy” D’Amour of Voivod featuring It’s Casual‘s Eddie Solis on vocals — so memorable, is only bolstered by the performance of the band throughout, which ties into a vaguely cultish aesthetic somewhat similar in its energy and vibe (if not actual sonics) to Venomous Maximus out of Texas and demonstrates a range of moods ably, running from the attitude drenched Motörheadery of “First Love” and ’80s metal swagger of “Devils” itself to the subdued closing comedown of “Chasing Coffins,” also featuring Solis on vocals.
Solis and fellow guest Scott “Wino” Weinrich – who donates vocals to the penultimate “The Horror” — are the only two names given by the group apart from co-producer Samur Khouja and Tom Neely, who handled the artwork for the gatefold LP. The actual players are anonymous for the time being, with the songwriting credited to the band as a whole with Weinrich given cowritten-by status on the track on which he appears. Given the commitment made to such a stylized presentation, I get why the band would want to remain anonymous, but with the drama especially vocally that comes through as the songs play out, I’m not sure they’d lose anything by taking credit for work well done. Still, no names. Witches of God, the singular entity, stand as responsible for one count of viciously hookish songwriting, and while I don’t think they actual go out and drink people’s blood at night (nor does the vast majority of people who sing about it) or whathaveyou, they sure sound like they’re having a good time playing songs about it. And if some of the thematics throughout will ring familiar — witches, blood, the devil, horror, and so on — it’s a boon to Witches of God‘s approach that they come out on the other end of “Chasing Coffins” sounding more more redundant than intended. In the case of “Higher than the Heavens,” for example, that’s basically the idea — it’s a complete sonic tribute to Voivod and works in the progressive elements so often imitated from that band, including (and this I’d argue is the most skillful turn) that particular just-past-the-beat timing that has you immersed in the chorus before you even recognize the change. That song, the album’s shortest at 3:51, is a far cry stylistically from the ultra-catchy scum riffing of opener “Devils II.” There, Witches of God show they are pretty clearly aware of the malevolent shuffle Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats incorporated into “I’ll Cut You Down” at the start of their 2011 outing, Blood Lust, but they pair the darkened boogie and cowbell righteousness with a Cathedral-style sense of playing the host, an open arm leading the way for the listener directly to an unmistakable and well-telegraphed chorus.
That riff! It’s been a while since I’ve had occasion to put on 2006′s The Temporary Nature, the lone studio full-length from Washington, D.C. trio Wooly Mammoth, but it doesn’t take long into 11-minute closer “Mammoth Bones” before that riff re-implants itself on the brain. Released on Underdogma, The Temporary Naturefollowed Wooly Mammoth‘s 2004 split with The Hidden Hand, Night Letters. The two bands did a lot of shows together back then as well, so as they were putting The Temporary Naturetogether and jamming out the ending of “Mammoth Bones,” one can only imagine it wasn’t much of a leap for the band to wonder how it might sound with Wino ripping a ridiculously awesome solo over top.
Wooly Mammoth also put out an EP through Underdogma in 2002 called Ten Ton Baby, but for my money, The Temporary Naturewas where it was at for them. Fuller tonally, the band had caught on early to some of the post-Mastodon hugeness of sound that soon enough would be ubiquitous. They’d go on to dirty up their sound some by replacing bassist Kyle Connolly with Jason Daniloski of underrated stoner/grinders Meatjack – who was so. fucking. loud. on stage (it was awesome) — but guitarist/vocalist Zac Eller and drummer Phil Adler, who’d later join Maryland-based instrumentalists Nitroseed, always seemed to know what they were going for in their songs, proffering modern heavy rock with more classic influence than it might’ve seemed on first listen, and in the case of “Mammoth Bones,” a stomp that few at the time were prepared to match.
Like a lot of groups before and since, they maybe didn’t get the attention they were looking for from the album and fizzled out. Not sure what became of Eller or Daniloski (if the name looks familiar, his brother and former Meatjack bandmate, Brian Daniloski, plays in Darsombra), but Wooly Mammoth were a quality band in their day, and if nothing else, I’m glad to have the excuse to revisit the irresistible nod of “Mammoth Bones.”