Days of the Doomed IV Video Trailer Unveiled

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The lineup is set, the dates are confirmed and all there is to do for the next two-plus months is wait for Days of the Doomed IV to get here. The thoroughly metallized festival will be headlined this year by Trouble – something that, frankly, seems four years in the making — and brings over its first international act in the form of the UK’s Age of Taurus. Couple that with a reunion from The Mighty Nimbus and the fervent dooming that the likes of Jex Thoth, Orodruin and Beelzefuzz are bound to deliver while Wasted Theory and Egypt rock the place out, and I’d mark this as definitely the biggest incarnation of the fest yet. At very least, it well earns its ’70s-font logo.

A video trailer for the fest has been put together by Kathy Reeves featuring clips of music from a few of the bands — Trouble, Beelzefuzz, Blackfinger etc. — and some choice selections from the archives of classic horror. Find that and the final lineup (with runtimes, in case you have a date) for the fest below, with doomly greetings:

Days of the Doomed IV Video Trailer

With the addition of TROUBLE to Days Of The Doomed Fest IV, the line up has been finalized. The billing is as follows:

Friday, June 20th, 2014 – Doors Open At 3:00 PM
3:00 – 4:00 Metal DJ
4:00 – 4:40 Ancient Dreams
5:00 – 5:40 Stasis
6:00 – 6:45 Wasted Theory
7:05 – 7:50 Witchden
8:10 – 9:00 The Mighty Nimbus
9:20 – 10:20 Orodruin
10:40 – 11:40 Blackfinger (featuring former Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner)
12:00 – 1:00 Las Cruces

Saturday, June 21st, 2014 – Doors Open At 11:30 AM
12:00 – 12:40 Flying Medusa
1:00 – 1:40 Moon Curse
2:00 – 2:45 Sanctus Bellum
3:05 – 3:50 Brimstone Coven
4:10 – 4:55 Spillage (featuring Earthen Grave guitarist Tony Spillman)
5:15 – 6:00 Stone Magnum
6:20 – 7:05 Egypt
7:25 – 8:10 Devil To Pay
8:30 – 9:15 Beelzefuzz
9:35 – 10:35 Jex Thoth
10:55 – 11:55 Age Of Taurus
12:15 – 1:30 Trouble

Ticket, Lodging, and Travel info can be found at Don’t miss out on the biggest doom fest in the Midwest!

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Trouble Added to Days of the Doomed IV

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

So after The Skull, and Blackfinger, and Earthen Grave, and Spillage, and In~Graved, and probably one or two other Trouble-member-inclusive acts I’m forgetting along the way over the last few years, Days of the Doomed has decided it’s time to cut to the chase and bring on Trouble itself. Kudos to Mercyful Mike Smith, who’s made it pretty obvious over the duration of his festival that he’s a fan. The Chicago doom legends are the final band to be announced for Days of the Doomed IV — fortunate, because I don’t think there’s any room left on the flyer — and the runtime for the two-day fest, which is set for June 20 and 21 at The Metal Grill in Cudahy, Wisconsin, has been unveiled. Not at all surprisingly, Trouble headline.


OK! The final piece of the puzzle is in place, and we are extremely honored to announce that Chicago doom legends TROUBLE have been added to Days Of The Doomed Fest IV, taking place in Milwaukee, WI on June 20th & 21st at The Metal Grill.

Since TROUBLE’s acquisition of new lead vocalist Kyle Thomas (Exhorder/Floodgate), as well as new bassist Rob Hultz (Solace/Godspeed), they have been performing to European crowds in support of their 2013 release “The Distortion Field”. Days Of The Doomed Fest IV will be among the first shows to see the band returning to the U.S. market, and we are stoked to have them taking part!

With the addition of TROUBLE to Days Of The Doomed Fest IV, the line up has been finalized. The billing is as follows:

Friday, June 20th, 2014 – Doors Open At 3:00 PM
3:00 – 4:00 Metal DJ
4:00 – 4:40 Ancient Dreams
5:00 – 5:40 Stasis
6:00 – 6:45 Wasted Theory
7:05 – 7:50 Witchden
8:10 – 9:00 The Mighty Nimbus
9:20 – 10:20 Orodruin
10:40 – 11:40 Blackfinger (featuring former Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner)
12:00 – 1:00 Las Cruces

Saturday, June 21st, 2014 – Doors Open At 11:30 AM
12:00 – 12:40 Flying Medusa
1:00 – 1:40 Moon Curse
2:00 – 2:45 Sanctus Bellum
3:05 – 3:50 Brimstone Coven
4:10 – 4:55 Spillage (featuring Earthen Grave guitarist Tony Spillman)
5:15 – 6:00 Stone Magnum
6:20 – 7:05 Egypt
7:25 – 8:10 Devil To Pay
8:30 – 9:15 Beelzefuzz
9:35 – 10:35 Jex Thoth
10:55 – 11:55 Age Of Taurus
12:15 – 1:30 Trouble

Ticket, Lodging, and Travel info can be found at Don’t miss out on the biggest doom fest in the Midwest!

Thanks, everyone! See you all in June!

Trouble, “Hunters of Doom” Live in Barcelona, Dec. 2013

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Days of the Doomed IV: Moon Curse and Flying Medusa Added; Pre-Show Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Why, it seems like only three posts ago I was noting the impossibility of keeping up with the many recent additions to various festival lineups. And so it was. Nonetheless, we press on, and Days of the Doomed IV have checked in with a couple noteworthy inclusions to their metallic fare, including the full three-band bill for their official pre-show, which includes Indianapolis groovers The Heavy Co. and New York’s Sons of Ghidorah alongside Chicago’s Spyderbone. Not a bad lineup, and with Moon Curse – who stomped a veritable mudhole in the first day of Days of the Doomed III last year — and Milwaukee stoners Flying Medusa added, the fest proper is only getting better.

Behold the latest announcements and let your consciousness be at one with them:

It’s official! The Days Of The Doomed Fest IV Pre-Show will be held on Thursday, June 19th at The Metal Grill! Blown away by the killer bands we’ll have priming us up for the weekend! The tripped out groove of Indiana’s The Heavy Company, the stoner/doom riffage of New York’s Sons of Ghidorah, and welcome back the “Dukes Of Debauchery”, Chicago metal heads SPYDERBONE!

So many of you last year asked me, “Where has THIS band been hiding?” that it only took a second to know they must come back again! You want more Milwaukee doom? Please welcome back to Days Of The Doomed Fest IV… MOON CURSE!

Continuing on with the Milwaukee theme, I am stoked to bring you a new act from Brew Town! This semi-instrumental outfit takes its homegrown doom, mixes in equal parts ‘shrooms and THC, and proceeds to take you on a supernatural trip of the best kind! Zip up your space suits, as Days Of The Doomed Fest IV welcomes… FLYING MEDUSA!

The Heavy Company, Midwest Electric (2013)

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Egypt and Jex Thoth Join Lineup for Days of the Doomed IV

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

With the additions of Jex Thoth and Egypt to the bill, I think it’s safe to say that Days of the Doomed IV is the biggest edition of the festival yet. Set for June 20-22 at The Metal Grill in Cudahy, Wisconsin, the lineup already boasted the likes of Blackfinger, The Mighty Nimbus, Age of Taurus, Stone Magnum, Orodruin and Devil to Pay, and it seems only to be kicking more ass as it goes along.

A witchy new logo/t-shirt design by Kathy Reeves has been unveiled as well, continuing to expand the Midwestern fest’s aesthetic reach.

Here’s the latest:

OK! You’ve seen it on the DOTD website, and I debuted this earlier on Facebook, and you all seem to dig it! So to answer your question… YES! This will be on a limited run of t-shirts available at Days Of The Doomed Fest IV! All bands will be listed on the back! Many thanks to Kathy Reeves for capturing that vintage occult/horror theme I was going for in our newest logo! Great job! Another announcement in 30 minutes!

There are certain bands that lock you in, taking you on a transcendental journey with each spin of their album. 2013′s “Blood Moon Rise” is one such album, delivering not only a collection of catchy doom ballads, but a flowing tapestry of cursed, psychedelic heavy metal. So it is with great pleasure and honor that I announce a rather rare stateside appearance at Days Of The Doomed Fest IV for… JEX THOTH!

Over the past 4 years, this band has been brought up in more than one conversation, and spoken very highly of! I am stoked that the time is finally right to bring all of you some doomed tunage from the great state of North Dakota! Days Of The Doomed Fest IV welcomes… EGYPT!

Egypt, Become the Sun (2013)

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Devil to Pay Added to Days of the Doomed IV

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 31st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Tomorrow is the arrival of the New Year, and among the pagan rituals, hangover-dispersal, Readers Poll results-posting and whatever other day-off-style shenanigans one might get up to, it’s also the on-sale date for Days of the Doomed IV tickets. To mark the occasion and the transition from an already-successful 2013 to a bigger 2014 to come, the festival has announced the addition of Ripple Music heavy rockers Devil to Pay to the lineup.

Devil to Pay, who released one of 2013′s best records in the form of their fourth album, Fate is Your Muse (review here), will make the drive north from their Indianapolis home-base to play Days of the Doomed IV alongside Blackfinger, The Mighty Nimbus, Age of Taurus, Wasted Theory and others. Many more bands are still to be announced, but the fourth installment of the metal-heavy doom outing, set for June 20 and 21, seems to be stepping up its game all around.

Announcement, links and Devil to Pay‘s kickass video for “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” (which premiered here) follow:

Happy New Year everyone! How about another band announcement For Days Of The Doomed Fest IV? Grab a PBR tallboy and get ready for the jams to kick your ass… from Indianapolis, I give you Ripple Music recording artist and purveyors of all things HEAVY.. Devil To Pay!

Back for its fourth installment June 20th & 21st, 2014! Days Of The Doomed Fest IV promises to bring the heavy! Bands will be announced over the next several months, so stay tuned! Tickets on sale starting 1/1/14 at!

Days of the Doomed fest IV is scheduled for June 20th & 21st, 2014 at The Metal Grill in Cudahy (South Milwaukee), WI. It is the same venue as past fests, but it is under new ownership/management! Stay tuned for more details!

Devil to Pay, “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” official video

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Sleestak, Live at the Cactus Club

Posted in Radio on December 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

One thing about Wisconsin progressive doomers Sleestak: You never quite know what they’re going to do next. This minute, they’re putting out a pro-studio EP like earlier 2013′s Book of Hours (review here) and the next they’re giving a behind-the-scenes insight into their processes with something like last year’s Altrusian Moon collection of rehearsal recordings that followed their 2011 full-length, The Fall of Altrusia (review here). To their credit, they’re both prolific in their output and varied in what they issue, sonically and methodologically, and their latest outing, Live at the Cactus Club, is no different. Released just yesterday as a post-Xmas holiday special and made available for a pay-what-you-want download through the Milwaukee outfit’s Bandcamp, the four-track offering checks in at well over two hours of material.

Included in the download — in addition to the cover, of course — are two complete shows from the titular venue in the Bay View section of Milwaukee. The first took place Oct. 4, 2013, and the second Nov. 15. There are two audio sources for the Oct.  4 show, which makes the release even more fascinating, and the whole thing is rounded out with a 33-minute rehearsal-space recording from early in September. Four tracks, all over half an hour long. While one might think that’d put Live at the Cactus Club right into not-for-the-faint-of-heart territory, the psychedelic explorations they get up to in the Oct. 4 show and the natural vibe that persists throughout make it such that Sleestak even at their heaviest are hypnotic in their psychedelia. Guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Matt Schmitz gets into some growling after the ultra-patient build that starts the set, but even then, it’s easy to get lost in the track, and the whole thing unfolds so naturally that before you know it, they’ve heavy-jammed their way past the 30-minute mark, ebbing and flowing, staying mostly instrumental, but never losing a sense of progression.

The second audio source of the Oct. 4 show has crowd noise, which probably means it’s an audience recording and not the direct feed from the soundboard, but it’s interesting to hear the differences between them anyway, and though the Nov. 15 show at the Cactus Club was nearly five minutes shorter, it follows a similar instrumental flow. I don’t know if the difference in timing means the parts are improvised on or at least stretched out and random, but the jam is no less immersive a month later as it’s presented here. In its heavier parts, the rehearsal room version of the same material comes across as a little blown out, but that’s bound to happen with that kind of thing, and in any case, it’s up there with the soundboard source of the Oct. 4 show in being the best presentation of the work itself, whether it’s all intended to be one song or smaller individual pieces just put together here for the ease of being released as a whole. If you told me it was one 30-plus-minute song, I wouldn’t argue there was anything to stop it from being one, since the smoothness of the transitions and the ease with which Sleestak execute it are such that it works well on that level. I might, however, ask what it’s called.

Presumably these things will be revealed in due time, and until then, to have four probably-formative versions here on Live at the Cactus Club follows suit with Altrusian Moon in giving some transparency to the creativity at work within the band’s songwriting. I won’t dare predict where Sleestak might be headed after this, but it seems likely we haven’t heard the last of this jam.

Check out Sleestak‘s Live at the Cactus Club now as part of the 24/7 streaming rotation of The Obelisk Radio and get a sampling from the Bandcamp player below:

Sleestak, Live at the Cactus Club (2013)

Sleestak on Bandcamp

Sleestak on Thee Facebooks

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Blackfinger, The Mighty Nimbus, Wasted Theory and More Announced for Days of the Doomed IV

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Apparently at some point between when Days of the Doomed III was held there this year and now, Cudahy, Wisconsin’s The Blue Pig venue was renamed The Metal Grill. It was pretty metal before, at least the two times I’ve been there for prior installments of this fest, but I guess if nothing else, a metal grill fits with the metal radio and a metal deli. All very metal. I’d like to try a turkey sandwich from the metal deli. Somehow I think it would have to include hot peppers.

More pivotal than my lunch order is the fact that Days of the Doomed IV will return the festival to that building, which by any other name is still a cool place to see a show, and that the beginnings of a lineup are coagulating. Looks like nifty stuff, what with Eric Wagner‘s Blackfinger taking part, and the likes of Orodruin and Las Cruces and Sanctus Bellum making return appearances while Delaware’s Wasted Theory head out to bring some East Coast heavy rock to the mix and The Mighty Nimbus make a long-overdue reunion a reality. I saw those dudes with Entombedone time. They were heavy as all anything and should have no trouble standing up to the various metallurgical standards of the weekend.

Days of the Doomed IV is set for June 20-21, 2014, at The Metal Grill in Cudahy, WI. More to come. This for now:

Back for its fourth installment June 20th & 21st, 2014! Days Of The Doomed Fest IV promises to bring the heavy! Bands will be announced over the next several months, so stay tuned! Tickets on sale starting 1/1/14 at!

Just to bring you up to speed! Confirmed: The Mighty Nimbus, Blackfinger, Stasis, Wasted Theory, Las Cruces, Brimstone Coven, Sanctus Bellum, Witchden, and Orodruin have all been confirmed for Days Of The Doomed Fest IV! No more announcements until after X-mas, but there are more great bands to reveal! All killer, no filler!

Las Cruces, “Behemoth” Live at Days of the Doomed, 2011

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Moon Curse to Release Self-Titled Debut on Bilocation Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Milwaukee trio Moon Curse left a sizable impression at this year’s Days of the Doomed fest back in June, and today brings the news that they’ve inked a deal to release a new pressing of their 2012 self-titled debut through Bilocation Records. The band has done two vinyl editions of the album already — both limited, the first completely gone — but the Bilocation version, in addition to being 180 gram, will also feature the bonus track “Seminary Woods” and a new mastering job from Tony Reed of Mos Generator, et. al. No word as yet on when the three-piece might have a follow-up to the self-titled in the works, but in the meantime, a Bilocation release should be a good way for new ears to be introduced.

The PR wire sends its regards on the subject:

Milwaukee doomsters MOON CURSE sign with Bilocation Records/Kozmik Artifactz

Beneath the faded light of Milwaukee’s infamous “polish moon” clock tower (a structure built for the sole intent of dominating the night sky and the view of its immigrant residents), three bleary eyed mystics brew stoner hymns dedicated to baphomet bongsmoke, Pontiac muscle and 70′s rock n’ rollers. following a DOOMED path, tred by true HEAVY fanatics before them, a path that will always remain for those dedicated to the riff; MOON CURSE walk with intent to play loud and proud! Keith bangs the drums, Rochelle strums the Squier P bass, and Matt breaks Orange amplifiers and howls. One could cite Sabbath (duh!), Zeppelin, or a handful of other protometal-fuzz-stoner-whatever-rock as influnces, but you get the idea! You know it! You love it! so.. GET CURSED!

We are proud to announce that mighty doomsters Moon Curse signed with us for an expanded re-release of their epic debut LP!

The album will feature the yet unheard exclusive track “Seminary Woods” and will be vinylmastered by Tony Reed (Mos Generator).

The album will be available in 2014 – of course on high quality 180g vinyl and housed in a heavy gatefold cover…all handnumbered and limited!

Moon Curse, Moon Curse (2012)

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Romero Announce New Bassist and Guitarist

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Should be interesting to hear how Wisconsin outfit Romero sound with a second guitarist. Their early-2013 debut long-player, Take the Potion (review here), hardly lacked for tonal weight, but to bring another six strings into the mix might allow for opportunity for more lead/riff interplay. That might be the kind of thing that manifests more live than in the studio — where essentially the same can be accomplished with layering — but I’m not about to argue with adding more density to the mix. A new bassist has also come aboard, so changes are afoot one way or another.

Romeroalso have a new video in the works for the catchy “Compliments and Cocktails” — just looking at the title, I can hear the chorus in my head — and are demoing new songs, as they inform via the PR wire:

ROMERO line-up changes / expands.

For stoner rock heathens, ROMERO, times, they are a-changin’. The band has just announced the recent departure of bass player, Steve Stanczyk. While the split was sudden, it was completely amicable and Jeffrey & Ben wish their comrade all the best.

Assuming bass duties for ROMERO is long time friend of the band, Patrick Hotlen. Jeffrey & Patrick have a long history and were previously even in a band together, albeit playing completely different instruments! Patrick most recently played drums in Rust Belt Sermon and may be most known for his time behind the kit with emo hardcore pioneers None Left Standing.

If having to replace a key member of a band wasn’t enough, ROMERO decided to take things one step further by adding another to their ranks. Tim Consequence! Tim played on “Take The Potion” (LP/CD) and will continue playing organ with the band, as well as some 2nd guitar & percussion. Tim is a multi-instrumentalist who lends his talents to many projects as well as running his own studio.

Live performances with the new line-up are in the works & ROMERO is currently writing & recording demos for a new release in 2014. They are also busy finishing a video for the song “Compliments & Cocktails”.

Romero, Take the Potion (2013)

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Friday Full-Length: Bongzilla, Gateway

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Bongzilla, Gateway (2002)

I think it says something about how far we’ve come as a species that on a given Friday night, I can type in a few simple words and come back with a complete stream of Gateway, the 2002 third album from Bongzilla, who even more than a decade later still sound like the stonedest group of dudes ever to walk the face of the earth. There still aren’t many bands around who can match these guys for tone, and though neither Gateway nor their 2005 apparent-swansong, Amerijuanican, has the reputation that 2001′s sophomore outing, Apogee, managed to pack into its crust-covered bowl, Gateway had no trouble getting its point across. That point? Bongzilla really, really liked to get high, and they wanted to talk about it.

Or if not talk, at least communicate ideas through a series of vocal-cord-shredding screams and ten-ton stomp. Bongzilla guitarist/vocalist Michael “Muleboy” Makela and drummer Michael “Magma” Henry were last heard from in 2010 when their subsequent duo, Aquilonian, made its debut on a Choking Hazard Records split with Sollubi (review here), but there hasn’t been much word of them since. Still not sure what broke up Bongzilla, to be honest, though if you told me that the dudes in the band got tired of making weed puns after a decade and wanted to quit, or if you told me they just got high and wandered off, I’d believe you either way. Could do with some more from Aquilonian though.

But so it goes.

Guess what I am? Broke as shit. I mean b-r-o-k-e. Turns out that when you lose the job that lets you sustain yourself at a semi-livable wage it has a real impact on your take-home. Who’d have thought? The good news is it doesn’t cost anything to play albums uploaded to YouTube — and with nearly all of my CDs still in boxes more than two months after my move and set to stay that way for an undetermined amount of time, I’ve been streaming a lot lately. The bad news is it means there’s a decent chance I won’t be making the trip south to Virginia for this year’s Stoner Hands of Doom after all. Hard to justify at least $300 in gas, plus whatever in hotel, plus the time off from work, when you’re sitting at the table with The Patient Mrs. trying to figure out which day to buy milk before the next paycheck.

The thought of missing that is a bummer, especially with all the fest has been through in being canceled and brought back from the brink, but last I heard being broke sucked, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to express the sentiment. We’ll see how next week pans out, but it’s not looking positive.

Better thoughts come in the form of a slew of cool local gigs. Tomorrow night I go see Pelican and Kings Destroy in Boston, then on Wednesday, Mike Scheidt and Uzala hit Providence, and the next night, Jim Healey from Black Thai and Mike Cummings of Backwoods Payback have a gig at Radio in Somerville. Next weekend It’s Not Night: It’s Space rolls through with Queen Elephantine as well, so yeah, with or without travel, it’s pretty packed.

Look out next week for reviews of those, and one for the new Samsara Blues Experiment album, which if you want the short version is a delight. No less of a surprise than was the direction on their last full-length, Revelation and Mystery (review here). I’ve been back and forth on the idea of reviewing the new Red Fang as well. I’d like to do it, since I also have that interview in the can, but am backed up on stuff that I think probably is more pressing than yet another Red Fang review among the thousands that are probably out there at this point. Maybe that’s a fucked way of thinking of it. Whatever. It’s my time I’m spending.

Most importantly next week, though, I’ve got a track premiere on Wednesday from Lumbar, the project with Aaron Edge (ex-Roareth, etc.), Mike Scheidt (YOB) and Tad Doyle (TAD, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth), and interviews with Edge and Scheidt both to go with it. It’s heavy stuff by any means you want to measure and not to be missed.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Myelin Constellation Digital Comp to Fight MS Available Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Originally announced at the beginning of September, the first volume of the Myelin Constellation MS benefit comp has been released. You can see below all the artists who took place in the thing with previously unreleased material, but seriously, it’s the $6 price tag that should be catching your eye. To shell out so little cash, have it go to a good cause — because, really, fuck MS — and get 20 tracks from killer bands, including Sleestak, whose own Matt Schmitz put the whole thing together can’t be seen as anything but a bigtime win if you’ve got ears and six dollars to your name.

Schmitz sent the following down the PR wire:

Myelin Constellation Vol. 1 is released!

I’m just gonna make this quick because I’ve been fairly busy with a handful of different things.

Myelin Constellation Volume 1 is out now (actually released October 1st but only got around to doing an email for it now). Please go to to download your copy. 20 bands, $6 or more if you can. Every bit helps us out over here and I appreciate everyone who has downloaded it so far! Thank you! Bands that appear in this first edition include:

Sons Of Otis
Gates Of Slumber
Backwoods Payback
Wo Fat
Stone Magnum
Apostle Of Solitude
Sons Of Alpha Centauri
Black Capricorn
At Devil Dirt
Confused Little Girl
Narcotic Luxuria
Headless Kross
Myopic Empire
Switchblade Jesus

Make sure to read the liner notes on the Bandcamp page please! Visit our Facebook page at and stay tuned for news regarding Volume 2. As always we are constantly accepting submissions from bands who have live, unreleased, alternate version, remixed, demo, rare, or just plain brand spankin’ new songs in their archives and want to be a part of this benefit comp for Multiple Sclerosis.

Thanks to all the bands who have helped, all the blogs, radio stations, and individuals that have helped with promoting this project!


Various Artists, Myelin Constellation (2013)

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Sleestak, Book of Hours: Two Lone Wolfs, Five Million Years and Seven Sorrows

Posted in Reviews on September 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Recorded in Spring 2013 at the same Bobby Peru’s Recording Studio as their 2011 The Fall of Altrusia full-length (review here), by the same engineer, Shane Olivo, the new Book of Hours EP is nonetheless a stylistic shift in course from Milwaukee-based prog-doomers Sleestak. Where that album moved in a rich variety of atmospheres around a central core of crunching riffs and heavy vocalizations, Book of Hours seems to be working directly to contrast any expectation they might do the same this time out. Now a trio, Sleestak has previously delighted in proffering the unexpected, as their interim 2012 outing, Altrusian Moon: A Lo-Fi Collection of Psychdelia and Space Rock, showed, so their affinity for shaking up their approach isn’t much of a surprise so long as you’ve been paying attention. Still, to go from The Fall of Altrusia, as progressive as it was, to Book of Hours is a leap, made spiritedly on the band’s part toward even more progressive territory, culling influence from heavy psychedelic rock and meshing it with their own conceptualism and theatricality. They are, as they were on the album, self-indulgent, as the jazz piano tossed into the ending of “Lone Wolf” and “Lone Wolf (Patriot Version),” can attest, but in context, that self-indulgence also provides some of the most effective moments of the 23-minute EP. If you have to take it with a grain of salt, at very least the music is of a quality that makes both it and the salt easier to take. And not all tonal weight is forgotten either. While they may not hit into the same kind of plodding riffery that drove “Chapter 3 – The Prophecy of the Great Sleep” from The Fall of Altrusia, a cut like “Five Million Years to Earth” doesn’t lack for heft in the slightest. The main difference between the two releases is what Sleestak does with that heft, how they make it move and contort it to their purposes, which here seem more geared toward classic heavy rock riffing and tapping into the ’70s roots of some of the influences they showed on the last full-length — more krautrock and less Opeth, if you will.

As noted, “Lone Wolf” appears twice, in regular and “Patriot” versions. The difference between them is the vocals of guitarist Matt Schmitz, who also handles the not insignificant amount of keys throughout. Where “Lone Wolf” works with a kind of far-back spoken word feel amid the psychedelic exploration that, again, turns to jazzy instrumental wanderings, “Lone Wolf (Patriot Version)” takes on a fuller croon to close out Book of Hours on a more sociopolitical lyrical bent. That approach from Schmitz can be heard on the riff rocking “Seven Sorrows” and “Five Million Years to Earth” as well, and it fits with the organ-inclusive, engaging grooves held in check by bassist Dan Bell and drummer Marcus Bartell. It seems to be Schmitz leading the charge, though, and while opener “Appeasing the Gods (Intro)” starts out with doomly riffing that feels like it could’ve come just as likely from Cathedral as Penance, it’s precise and given depth thanks to vague sampling layered in the mix and synth. A riff to begin. Fair enough. “Seven Sorrows” follows with a faster pulse and and the guitar and vocals out front but still in balance with the bass and drums. A stop following the chorus leads back into the verse with a dead stop and single snare hit that, by the time they do it the fourth time to end the song, is like a game it’s fun to play along with, though at that point you’re the only one doing the tapping. Between, there’s a midsection break with some organ-ized doom that reminds in its bounce of something Beelzefuzz might concoct, but Sleestak snap back into the verse an chorus, skillfully keeping hold of a structure that seemed ready to run away with the ending of the track. That they do so is all the more effective, particularly on this brief sampling, since that’s more or less what happens in (both) “Lone Wolf” — making it that seem much more of a choice to jam out rather than like they got lost after the bridge — something Sleestak have already shown they’re more than capable enough songwriters to avoid.

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Myelin Constellation Compilation Announced to Fight MS

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The news of the new Myelin Constellation compilation to benefit those suffering with multiple sclerosis arrives and immediately brings to mind friend of the site Aaron Edge, who’s engaged in a struggle of his own against the disease. Myelin Constellation has been announced as a series of releases (the second is reportedly already in the works before the first has been issued) put together by Matt Schmitz of Wisconsin progressive doomers Sleestak, and for the first, a vast array of acts have signed on to take part, from The Gates of Slumber and Sons of Otis to Wo Fat and Coltsblood. It’s a great way to support a great cause, and as soon as it’s released, I’ll post again to let you know. Until then, kudos to Schmitz on doing something. As you can see in the release below, it’s a personal cause for him as well.

Here’s the info:

This past April, my wife Kim was diagnosed with relapse/remitting multiple sclerosis. We have been dealing with her symptoms for several years which have included horrible fatigue, muscle spasms, depression, pain, digestive problems, numbness, and more recently even cognitive and sight issues. The doctors we had visited never once mentioned MS as a possibility and she was being treated in a compartmentalized manner, i.e. take this medication for depression, take this other pill for pain, and so on and so forth. We were told she just had all these separate health issues with nothing she could do but take pills. Finally, after her left side (including her face) had went numb we went to an Urgent Care clinic. The quack doctor there saw us for literally less than two minutes, concluded she was getting shingles, and told me in earshot of every other patient and staff member that we should not worry, that she did not have a stroke, and that she did not have MS. He handed us a shingles pamphlet and told us to follow up with our primary doctor in a week. We proceeded to do so and visit our new primary doctor established based on a change in our insurance. Luckily we did as this was the first time a doctor suspected she had multiple sclerosis and soon thereafter we had a diagnosis and were able to put a name on the cause of all these things that were going wrong with Kim’s body.

I consider us lucky in a sense: we no longer have to wonder about certain things, we can establish a plan for ourselves, and now we can do everything in our power to try and fight this as best we can. We also have insurance to help somewhat. I cannot imagine the position we would be in without it. Mind you, all is not golden. We have accumulated well over $5000 in medical bills and it’s continuing to rise and set to go on for the rest of her life. This has put me into a corner with trying to take care of my family in the ways I need to provide. Kim is in-between treatments right now after quitting a brutal regiment of the Copaxone daily injection, leaving her with softball-sized welts, hardening tissue at the injection sites, and not the least of which is more pain. The plan right now is to try a daily pill treatment of Tecfidera. In the coming months, due to the looming Obamacare, we are expecting an insurance “glitch” as told to us by her neurologist where there may be a few months when her treatment is not covered. This pill is $55,000 a year wholesale. Needless to say we are nervous about this, on top of our mounting doctor bills.

I have been brainstorming about ways to help my family get through this and I came to the conclusion to do a benefit compilation. I have seen how these have helped others in need, including Ed from Doommantia. Here is my plan though: the comp I put together is going to be unique in several ways. First, on the music side of it, most all of the submissions are special in the fact that they are live, rare, demo, unreleased, or alternative version of songs, some being even exclusive to this collection. In this regard, the bands I have been in contact with have been absolutely amazing in their support and their willingness to dig through their archives. I have already met some incredible folks through emails from putting this together and one thing I am encountering is the number of people in our scene who have been affected by this disease. This has led me to want to do even more than help my own family. I want to do more music compilations, multiple volumes, to help others affected by MS, to raise awareness about it as well as money to donate to those less fortunate in their situation, and for organizations who are dedicated to the fight. One example is to get people on board here in Wisconsin and other states to legalize CBD, a component of marijuana with almost miraculous medicinal qualities and no psychoactive effects, which, as far as I know at the moment is still considered Schedule 1 even though it doesn’t get you high. Other states like California now have access to this for people with neurological diseases but not Wisconsin, which has the highest number of MS cases in the country. So, there you go. I have got some fight left in me and I want to do something with it.

Now for the juicy details of the comp. It is being called “Myelin Constellation”, myelin being basically the protective coating around nerve bundles, which in MS deteriorates and exposes the nerves to all the symptoms that are talked about. The “constellation” part is in reference to all the bands and individuals who make up the scene as a whole, worldwide. There are several bands which I can name drop at the the time of this writing that are getting involved: The Gates Of Slumber, Northless, Sons Of Otis, Backwoods Payback, Wo Fat, Stone Magnum, and Coltsblood. There are a bunch more which will be confirmed in due time and I am blown away by some of the bands which are lending their support – these are some heavy hitters and names you will know. While no solid release date is set right now, we are aiming for a mid-late September digital download on Bandcamp. I also want to thank a few individuals who have lent their talent and help to get the ball rolling on this: Steve Somers for the wicked awesome artwork (, Mike from Days Of The Doomed festival, and Lee from The Sleeping Shaman. I consider these guys good friends and good people along with all the bands who are getting behind this. I THANK YOU and my wife, Kim THANKS YOU.”

-Matt Schmitz/Sleestak

Stay tuned at the respective websites: and for updates as they are available.

For more info on multiple sclerosis, please visit:

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Sleestak Update on Gigs and Merch

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Milwaukee progressive doomers Sleestak returned this year with the impressive new EP, Book of Hours (review pending), building on the wide-ranging melodic sensibilities the four-piece showcased on 2011′s Fall of Altrusia debut full-length (review here). As Sleestak continue to support Book of Hours, the band has announced a couple regional shows for the fall and some new merch on the way as well.

They sent this update down the PR wire:

We wanted to spread the word on a couple shows just announced along with some other bits of info.

SHIRTS! Last chance to get your pre-order in for the new “Moon” shirt. If you don’t, they will only be available in limited sizes and numbers at Sleestak shows. Visit to get yours now. We should have them in hand in the next week or so…

SHOWS! Lastly, come on out and hang with Sleestak at these killer shows if you can!

8/24/13 – Sleestak w/Truckfighters, Scientist, Jap Herron
at Reggies Rock Club, 2105 s. State St., Chicago, IL.
This is an 17 and over show.

10/4/13 – Sleestak w/Vega, TBA
at The Cactus Club, 2496 s. Wentworth Ave, Milwaukee, WI.

We will have a few copies left of both the Book Of Hours and Fall Of Altrusia cds if you haven’t grabbed one yet.

Make sure you visit us at

Sleestak, Book of Hours EP (2013)

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Jeff Martin’s Lo-Pan Tour Diary — July 6 & 7

Posted in Features on July 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Lo-Pan‘s touring adventures continue. In our last installment, the Ohio heavy rock four-piece stomped their way through Dayton, Ohio, and Chicago, and having covered that ground, this time around they’ve moved on to Madison, Wisconsin, and Indianapolis on their tour with Indy-based Devil to Pay.

Please enjoy, and note that the lead photo here was taken by Devil to Pay‘s own Steve Jankiak:

July 6th and 7th — “Eat a Sandwich”

Did you know Otis Redding was from Madison, Wisconsin? Well, he was. So was Chris Farley. This auspicious town was the locale for our next tour adventure.

We woke up early in Chicago in order to get to Madison by the early afternoon. About a year ago a friend of ours took us to this amazing deli in Madison and hooked us up on some great sandwiches so we always like to revisit that spot when we are in town. Hospitality on tour is like a full tank of gas, or a clean load of laundry — it kind of sets everything back to zero and allows you to start fresh. In my experience, when you go on tour you start out with a plan. I’ve got so many so-and-so’s for so many days and this do-hickey goes in this pocket and that’s where it will be forever. Well, after about eight days, things start to become a little less concrete. Pockets of things change. Things break or get lost. You get hot and tired and you just plain stop caring about those things. After around 15 days you start to degrade into an animal state of instinct and muscle memory. 30 days in, you don’t even remember what home feels like. 40 days and wherever you are is your home. Then, when you go home, it takes a while to adjust. All of this is to illustrate that when you find hospitality — a welcome smile, a great plate of food, a person who lets you enter their home and use it as your own for a little while — all of these things serve to reset the dials, and get you centered to carry on. Madison is such a place for us because it is home to some very hospitable and kind people. It’s one of those places that when you are a few days away you start to hear the mantra, “If we can just make it to Madison, everything will be ok.” So we made it to Madison, our Midwest oasis.

The show was at a bar called Mr. Roberts. We had never played there before so we didn’t know what to expect. We were set to play with a band called The Garza. They are a three piece featuring our friend Nate Bush on bass. We made Nate’s acquaintance a couple of years ago when he was playing bass for Madison band Droids Attack. In addition, the drummer for The Garza [Mike "Magma" Henry] is also in Bongzilla. Hopefully for your sake, Bongzilla need no introduction. The last time we played in Madison was on tour with High on Fire. The show that time was at High Noon Saloon. This was certainly a different situation, but we did see quite a few people at this show that remembered us from the last show. It’s good to see that our travels and work are paying off.

Devil to Pay started off the evening with a killer set. DTP are one of those bands that seem to nail their recorded sound in a live setting, and do it with ease. We played second out of three bands and we decided to change up our set tonight. We were playing Sasquanaut start to finish but on the drive to Madison we decided we would rather play our newer material and that people would just have to deal with it. Whatever! We do what we want! The Garza closed out the night and after some drinks and laughs we packed up and headed to our accommodations for the evening.

Brian is a friend of ours and he owns a tattoo shop in Madison. He let us stay in his posh tattoo studio for the evening. I had an honest-to-goodness couch to sleep on. Jesse slept on his air mattress and Fristoe took up residence on an amazingly adjustable tattoo chair. Skot, however decided to sleep on the floor despite the availability of other tattoo chairs. Skot Thompson is a floor-sleeping sumbitch. He loves it. Got a hardwood, concrete, or tile floor? Skot will sleep on it. Got a dining room table? Skot will sleep under it. And he will sleep well.

We woke up around 9:30AM and tattoo Brian came to take us to breakfast. Nice guy, that Brian. We said our goodbyes and headed off towards Indianapolis.

Indianapolis, Indiana. Indy’s Jukebox Live. Devil to Pay is from Indianapolis. Do you know what else is from Indianapolis? I’m asking because I don’t know. Or maybe I just don’t care. If you have ever driven through Indiana, then you know what a wholly depressing place it can be. Unless you are into extremely flat, corn covered vistas, there is not much outside of DTP to lure you to the Hoosier State. Actually, President William Henry Harrison was from there. I stand corrected.

On the bill for this show were Death Trap and Stealing Volume. Death Trap seemed to be having some technical difficulties during their set. They got off to a rocky start but finally got it dialed in towards the end. It sucks when you are just trying to play some music but you end up wrestling your gear into submission the whole time instead. Stealing Volume was a surprise to me. They had a punchy punk sound and they were very tight. Really good stage presence and delivery. I liked Stealing Volume very much. We played what felt like a good set to a sparse but engrossed audience and Devil to Pay headlined for the home town. After the show we packed up rather quickly and headed for home. Real life loomed large on the horizon, at least for a few days until we pick back up with the DTP boys in Detroit.

Until then…

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