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!
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”.
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 fromBongzilla, 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 Gatewaynor their 2005 apparent-swansong, Amerijuanican, has the reputation that 2001′s sophomore outing, Apogee, managed to pack into its crust-covered bowl, Gatewayhad 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.
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 tohttp://mconstellation.bandcamp.com/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:
Northless Sons Of Otis Gates Of Slumber Backwoods Payback Coltsblood Wo Fat Stone Magnum Apostle Of Solitude Sons Of Alpha Centauri Sleestak Black Capricorn At Devil Dirt Confused Little Girl Abrahma Narcotic Luxuria Asatta Headless Kross Myopic Empire Switchblade Jesus Albatwitch
Make sure to read the liner notes on the Bandcamp page please! Visit our Facebook page athttp://facebook.com/mconstellationand 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!
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 TheFall of Altrusiafull-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 Hoursseems 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 Hourson 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.
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 (http://stevesomersart.blogspot.com/), 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.”
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. Visithttp://sleestakmusic.blogspot.com/p/tshirt-preorder.html 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.
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.
It was a really, really busy weekend. I’m glad to say I did actually get to stand still for a bit and watch each of the 19 acts performing at Days of the Doomed III at The Blue Pig in Cudahy, Wisconsin, but I was just as likely to be parking myself somewhere to pop open the laptop or back and forth in front of the stage taking pics.
At one point, one of the dudes working at the venue said to me while I had the computer open, “You’re supposed to be enjoying yourself, not working.”
And it occurred to me that this is how I enjoy myself.
A 20-minute break between each band didn’t leave much wriggle room to go searching for the perfect shot of each band and still give the actual set the clacky-clacky it deserved. As such, I wound up with a lot of photos, and since I wouldn’t have time to include them in the actual live-blog posts (day one and day two), it only seems fair to give them their own post.
Below — with setlists when I could get them — you’ll find pictures of Iron Man, Penance, Venomous Maximus, Kings Destroy, Lucertola, Moon Curse and Gravedirt from day one, and The Gates of Slumber, In~Graved, Dream Death, Pale Divine, Earthen Grave, Leather Nun America, King Giant, Spillage, Chowder, Beelzefuzz, Gorgantherron and Whaler from day two.
Posted in Features on June 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
06.22.13 — The Blue Pig — Cudahy, WI
11:41AM: Quiet start this morning at The Blue Pig for day two of Days of the Doomed III, but no doubt things will pick up shortly. Today is 12 bands in more than 13 hours, so it’s going to be a long one, a busy one and I expect by the end of it, a tired one, but that’s a long ways off, and after a hotel breakfast and a couple minutes respite before heading down to the venue, I’m feeling good and doing my best to ignore the prospect of the drive tomorrow morning. Much to do before I get there.
In about 20 minutes, Whaler from Michigan kick off the day, followed by Gorgantherron, Beelzefuzz, Spillage, King Giant, Leather Nun America, Earthen Grave, Pale Divine, Dream Death, In~Graved and The Gates of Slumber. It’s a powerful lineup, but they must have powerwashed the venue after last night, brought in a firehose or something, because it smells much better this morning than it did by the end of yesterday’s bands.
Last night was pretty riotous by the end of Penance and Iron Man, so I figure there’s a lot of attendees getting off to a slow start this morning, but if the kickoff is as righteous as yesterday’s — and I hear excellent things about Whaler — I’ll be glad I got here early.
Before I start, and since I don’t know if I’ll have the energy to point it out later, I just want to say a quick thanks to Mercyful Mike Smith for putting on Days of the Doomed III, and for the tremendous work he’s done assembling this lineup and getting the right crew in hand to make it run so smoothly.
Alright, here goes:
12:37PM: Apparently, Michigan trio Whaler had something of a late night. They were not alone, but they nonetheless delivered a respectable set of roughed-up/burled-up Kyuss-style heavy rock and showcased a dynamic of their own within the semi-familiar riffing. Guitarist/vocalist Adam Lupo and bassist Eric Lomba had rich tones and drummer Adam Weiler, despite chasing his cowbell across his kit as it moved away from him, was adaptable either to the desert grooves of the material they played earlier or the thicker, Sleep-y vibes of their closing instrumental. Their debut LP, Deep Six, was self-released last December and I’ll see if they have any available. It probably wasn’t an ideal time to see them — noon after a hell of a Friday night — but they opened day two with smooth, rolling grooves and an engagingly bullshit-free atmosphere.
1:28PM: Imported from Indiana, the trio Gorgantherron clearly got more comfortable as their set went on and seemed more at home in their faster parts, rather than some of the more languid sections. All three members — Chris Flint (drums), Clint Logan (guitar), and Toby Richardson (bass) — contributed vocals, and that gave cuts like “Mothra” and the particularly memorable “Assimilate” a touch of flavor, which went down well with the crowd, still rolling in and wiping the crust from its collective eyes. Keeping holy the Sabbath, Gorgantherron hit on a few satisfying shuffles in their solo parts, Logan taking the fore with a smile to rip out blues leads while Richardson and Flint held down the solid grooves beneath. They weren’t trying for anything fancy, but there was some potential there, and they sat naturally between doom and heavy rock as only a band who doesn’t think there should be a line between them can.
2:40PM: I don’t know what Beelzefuzz are ready for, but whatever it is, they’re ready for it. The Maryland bizarro doom trio had Days of the Doomed III more or less eating out of their hands 10 minutes before they went on, and it was readily apparent that they were the show-up point for a lot of people this afternoon. The band’s way of rewarding such loyalty? Well, they brought up Eric Wagner to cover “Ride the Sky” by Lucifer’s Friend, and that was pretty awesome, Wagner and guitarist/vocalist Dana Ortt trading off parts and laughing all the while. Beelzefuzz have a new record coming Aug. 9 on The Church Within, and I’ve yet to see them and not be impressed. I realized watching them that it had only been a couple months since I caught them in Delaware at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 2, but nothing here felt redundant or stale. Bassist Pug Kirby and drummer DarinMcCloskey were dead on with slow, creeping grooves that gave Ortt plenty of space to weird out with vocal effects, organ-sounding guitar and all the rest. If their record captures even a fraction of what these guys have turned into in a live setting, it might just be the summer’s don’t miss for doom.
3:45PM: When I streamed a couple tracks from Chowder‘s Passion Riftfull-length last summer, I wondered how they’d be able to bring so many textures to a live setting. Now I know: They do it with their feet, and they do it very carefully. Maryland doom nobility Josh Hart (guitar; also bassist for Earthride) and John Brenner (bass; also guitarist/vocalist for Revelation) both had an array of foot-pedals at their disposal and they made liberal use of them to add to the instrumental progressive runs of their material. Early on, Hart blew out the Sunn head he was playing through — always a bummer, especially for someone who’s come a long way — but Al Morris from Iron Man‘s amp was brought in as a replacement, Chowder recovered and the three-piece rounded out by drummer Ronnie Kalimon (Unorthodox) had the room packed out by the time they were done. I don’t know if maybe they were playing doomier songs for the fest or if the tones were just different live, but they seemed thicker tonally than I recalled from the album and I didn’t hear any whining about it. Cool set, and where they seemed on paper like an odd fit, they made sense for the bill after all.
4:42PM: Going by their name and how they worked on stage, Chicago-based Spillage would seem to be the brainchild of guitarist Tony Spillman, who’s pulling double-duty later in a set with Earthen Grave. Days of the Doomed III was their first show, and while it was the “featuring Bruce Franklin of Trouble” portion of the lineup that first drew my attention, the whole band was stellar. Really. And not just for a first show, either. They were tight, the songs were spot on, they covered “Devil Woman” by Cliff Richard, and had a great energy throughout their whole time on stage. They looked genuinely thrilled to be here, thanked the crowd, thanked Mercyful Mike Smith several times, and even though Spillman had a little technical difficulty, there was never any real loss of momentum as they settled into a killer set that ranks up there with Moon Curse yesterday as one of the weekend’s most pleasant surprises. With two guitars, keys, bass, drums and standalone vocals, they were crowded on the Blue Pig stage, but that only added to how together they were sonically. I haven’t the faintest idea what their plans as a band might be, when they’ll put material to tape, etc. — they have shirts for sale but no music — but as righteous and enjoyable as their set was, I’ll be keeping an eye out and hoping they can bring the same vitality to a studio recording. An awesome debut.
5:58PM: There hasn’t been much Southern metal thus far into the fest, but if there was a quota, King Giant just met it. I was pretty familiar with their stuff after streaming their Dismal HollowLP last year, and they were basically what I expected, just tighter and louder. In the case of vocalist Dave Hammerly, much louder. Of the two mics he had on stage, one cut through the Virginian five-piece’s thick riffing enough to border on abrasive, but they grooved out darkly nonetheless, here touching on Down, there nodding out a Clutch riff. It was burly stuff, and I think a lot of people unfamiliar with what they do decided it was a good time to grab a bite to eat — they love their own here, as everywhere — ahead of some of the evening’s headliners, but King Giant were professional and energetic, many-hatted (four out of five) and they made the most out of the time they had, playing to a tight group of their fans who seemed appreciative enough to make up for everyone else.
Leather Nun America
6:50PM: I’ll give it to Cali trio Leather Nun America (also stylized with a lowercase ‘a’ to start the last word), they know what they like. Tonally, guitarist/vocalist John Sarnie was straight-up Wino, and the band covered “To Protect and Serve” from The Obsessed‘s The Church Withinto drive the point home. Bassist/backing vocalist Francis Roberts, his eyes rolled back, was a more unhinged presence than Sarnie, but it made the dynamic on stage more complex and, frankly, more satisfying. I was starting to drag ass a bit and so ordered a pizza (hasn’t arrived yet, but I’ll get to eat at some point) and had another bottle of water, but some of the people who were in and out during King Giant settled in for Leather Nun America and the band, despite being the only West Coast act on the bill, seemed right at home amongst the doomed.
8:22PM: I’ve seen Earthen Grave a few times now — here last year, at SHoD — and to my ears they’ve never sounded so good. Of course, nailing a cover of Rainbow‘s “Stargazer” with not one but two violins (Rachel Barton Pine and her younger sister dueling it out) helps, and bringing Victor Griffin up to take on Pentagram‘s “Relentless” (who better?) for a set closer helps as well, but even so, from the opener “Death is another Word” — the bonus track on the Ripple Music reissue of their self-titled debut — to the plodding aggression of “Dismal,” the Chicago outfit seemed to hit it just right this time around. Maybe they’ve coalesced more as a unit, or maybe I’m on some post-pizza energy boost — pizza gives you energy, right? – but they killed it, and placed where they were in the lineup, they more or less started off the evening’s headliners, with Pale Divine, Dream Death, In~Graved and The Gates of Slumber still to come. Things are about to get heavy and miserable, but I’m up for it, and judging by the howls of the crowd who just moved from in front of the stage being changed over to the tvs in the back which have the Blackhawks game on, the crowd is up for it, so what the hell? Let’s make an evening of it.
9:39PM: With three new songs in tow, Pennsylvania/Maryland trio Pale Divine — drummer Darin McCloskey doubling up on the day after performing earlier with Beelzefuzz — sounded positively refreshed. Guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener and bassist/backing vocalist Ron McGinnis (aka Fez, also of Admiral Browning) have gelled tonally to the point where you’d swear the latter had always been in the band, and likewise, McGinnis brings a different personality with him that adds to the chemistry. I took it as a sign that they’ve already started to write a follow-up to last year’s Painted Windows Black — which, not to take away from it, was accomplished but hardly what I’d call refreshed — and for as gloomy and plodding as the material is, spirits seemed high straight through when they handed a mic into the crowd where it was picked up by Sanctus Bellum‘s Benjamin Yaker and shared with Butch Balich and Mercyful Mike Smith for a finale take on “Amplified” from Pale Divine‘s 2001 debut full-length, Thunder Perfect Mind. The Blue Pig is packed out (still watching hockey), and the mood is good, so with three bands left to go, the night is on a roll.
10:54PM: I’ve had my earplugs in for too long, can feel my right ear beginning an infection. Probably better that than dare to take on Dream Death unarmored. I knew when I missed them in April at Roadburn that I’d have seeing them at Days of the Doomed III to look forward to, and honestly, I’ve looked forward to it ever since. The Pittsburgh four-piece — all of whom played at one point or another during Penance‘s set last night — are something of a legendary act, and here, it felt like it. Fists pumped to “Divine Agony” and a slew of cuts from the band’s 2013 new album, Somnium Excessum, including “Feast” and “You’re Gonna Die up There.” The biggest response was saved, fittingly, for closer “Back from the Dead,” and if ever you wanted to see who in the crowd knew a song and who didn’t, you need look no further than who followed the on-a-dime time changes in “Back from the Dead,” raging Celtic Frost fast and dark, viciously primitive but still holding a potent tension after all these years. They were welcomed as liberators, and it’s hard to imagine it wasn’t gratifying for the band. When they were done, Mike Smith took the stage (he’s been introducing each act) and called the raffle. I didn’t win, despite my sure-bet tickets. Always next year. The good news is Dream Death were excellent and I got to pick up a copy of Somnium Excessum, which I’m looking forward to adding to my already considerable ride-home playlist for tomorrow. Right on.
12:24AM: Well, Victor Griffin wins tone again. He can take home his trophy from Days of the Doomed III and put it next to the similarly-shaped awards for tone he’s picked up at probably every show he’s played in the last 25 years. Much of the In-Graved set was familiar from Roadburn, but “Digital Critic” still made an effective opener and “Late for an Early Grave” seemed especially rousing. The lights went out for a minute, but were quickly restored, not that it stopped the band in the slightest. Bassist Dan Lively stepped in to fill the role Guy Pinhas had held for the European tour, and he, drummer “Minnesota” Pete Campbell and keyboardist Jeff “Oly” Olson meshed well, and the band had clearly gotten more cohesive over the course of their time in Europe, which ended a month ago now if I’ve got the dates right. Still. Ron Holzner came out for a song and Campbell broke all his drumsticks, so it was a loose vibe but a tight band, which is just as it should be. In~Graved rounded out with the Animals cover “Don’t Let Me be Misunderstood” into Place of Skulls‘ “Last Hit,” which if nothing else was a stirring reminder to me of just how good 2003′s With Visionwas. I could go on a whole rant about it, but wow, it’s been a hell of a day. This is the proverbial home stretch though — or whatever the hockey equivalent is, in honor of the Blackhawks, who apparently won — and with The Gates of Slumber still to come, I know this is still the place to be. Feet sore, head sore, brain tired, but not done yet.
The Gates of Slumber
2:12AM: Just for kicks — also in the name of Science Bloody Science! — during The Gates of Slumber‘s set, I walked outside the venue and down the street to see how many houses I’d pass before I couldn’t hear the band anymore. I got six properties away from The Blue Pig, and I could still hear them, but it seemed reasonable to assume that the people inside the house couldn’t feel the vibrations of Jason McCash‘s bass, and that would have to do. I’d have kept going, maybe, but I wanted to see the band. It’s been a minute and I was hoping for some new material. They played “Death March” from their Scion-sponsored StormcrowEP, which I also picked up off the merch table, and that sounded pretty vicious. The place was winding down on the quick, people giving drunkhugs and saying their “see you next year”s, but I wasn’t gonna split until they were done. Not that I didn’t think about cutting out and going back to the Best Western, but putting it to the scale of having been there for over 13 hours, another couple minutes to watch “The Scovrge ov Drvnkenness” or “Day of Farewell” — which is one of those songs I’m reminded of how much I dig every time I hear it — or the closer “Coven of Cain” didn’t seem unreasonable. It had been a long day, but The Gates of Slumber – McCash, guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon and drummer “Iron” Bob Fouts — were the downtrodden nail in Days of the Doomed III‘s coffin, and the fest would’ve been hard pressed to find someone more appropriate to close out after In-Graved and the many others preceding. By the time the house lights came up, it was clear the night was over.
2:32AM: Back at the hotel now, listening to someone stomp the living shit out of the floor one level up, also known as the ceiling of this room. All the same, this chair seems absurdly comfortable. One more time, I just want to thank Mercyful Mike Smith for the effort and execution behind this fest. The whole crew at The Blue Pig ran this thing smoothly from front to back, kept the mood positive and kept the drinks flowing. Also special thanks to Postman Dan for generally being awesome and for specifically dealing with me running back and forth and taking out the laptop like a dork. It’s much appreciated.
There are a lot of others. A lot. I’d start to list them, but it’s getting on 3AM and I have the alarm set for just about four hours to get up and start the at-least-15-hour drive back to New Jersey. Gotta be to work on Monday. So I’m gonna get to bed and then get coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
Posted in Features on June 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
06.21.13 — The Blue Pig — Cudahy, WI
4:24PM: Welcome to Cudahy, Wisconsin. Were I one of the homeowners living on the residential street off the corner where The Blue Pig is located, I’d probably already be pissed. I’m not, though. I’m here for the show. Hence, doom on.
The venue — kind souls — gave me the wifi password, so over the course of tonight and tomorrow I’ll be updating live with words and pics from the Days of the Doomed III fest. Tonight, the lineup features Gravedirt, Moon Curse, Kings Destroy (go hometown heroes), Lucertola, Venomous Maximus, Iron Man and Penance. The show kicks off in about half an hour and there’s the usual pre-fest milling about, plus a DJ spinning the usual suspects — Pantera, AC/DC, etc. — drinks at the bar and already a cool vibe in the air. I’m looking forward to seeing how the night plays out.
I’m sitting in the back by the merch area, but judging by the people rolling in, it looks like I’m going to have to find a different spot to set up shop, so that might be an adventure, but I’ll do my best to make it work. Long night and day tomorrow ahead, but I’ve got a doomburger — yes, it’s a special at the Best Western — in my gut and spirits are high. Let’s do this thing.
5:39PM: Nothing to dive headfirst into a night of riffs like some low-end-centric, extreme sludge. Native Milwaukee trio Gravedirt do it muddy. The snare was cutting through high in the mix, but beyond that, they slung ooze like they meant it, bassist Chris Cottreau adding low, death metallic growls over top (or at very least, buried within) that reminded me almost immediately of earliest, pre-psychedelic Zoroaster. Within that, their stuff was straightforward and they seemed to be getting their bearings in on stage, but they had a lot going for them and by the time they were finished, I had forgotten it would still be light out when I turned around and looked out the window, so I guess that’s saying something. A heavy start to what seems like it’s going to be a heavy evening.
6:37PM: Another local trio, Moon Curse had a sound that almost couldn’t help but be their own. Guitarist/vocalist Matt played through a custom rig on a custom guitar, drummer Keith brought his own kit and let loose his swing-heavy grooves in front of the riser, and bassist Rochelle anchored the lumbering riffs with thoroughly weighted runs. They hovered mostly around traditional doom riffing, but every now and again, they locked into a marching plod that showed some awareness of Red Fang or even High on Fire‘s second-gear moments. Matt kept his vocals mostly clean, and I suspect that much of what they played came off their recently-released self-titled vinyl, which they’re selling here in a number of editions. I may or may not get the chance to pick one up, but they impressed all the same and out of the two bands who’ve played so far, I’ve found two whose work I’ll look forward to following from here on out.
7:55PM: Some high order horror vibes permeating Lucertola‘s set, driven forward at a doomly crawl by the dual guitars of Tad Leger (also Blood Farmers) and Zack Breiman, the latter of whom tossed off fuck-you-up leads at a whim and broke his strap during the first or second song. Otherwise, the young six-stringer made hard shred look easy while Leger held down rhythm lines alongside bassist Chris Konys. I had meant to see them a while back in Philly, so they were something of a must to catch at Days of the Doomed III, and while they were still pretty clearly sorting out their material, they ended strong and had some potent chugging lines along the way, not lacking in classic atmosphere or doomly vibing, tossing in some variety (just enough) and keeping people hooked with a cover of Witchfinder General‘s “Burning a Sinner” that was greeted with universal welcome.
9:08PM: Not sure if I’ve ever seen Kings Destroy so much live up to their name. It’s terrifying how good these guys have gotten, from the flow they build during a set to their tones, to how they all slam together at the end of “Turul” and the time changes it brings. Fucking terror, I tell you. I wasn’t sure if they were going to break out “Turul.” Early on, it seemed like they were sticking to some of the earlier, first album stuff, rather than the A Time of Huntingmaterial, which is more diverse-sounding — they were sticking to the doom as befitting the occasion, in other words. But not only did they play it, they closed with it, using it to follow up “Blood of Recompense” in a one-two punch of gloriously heavy oddness. I’m hardly an impartial source, but god damn, I fucking dig this band. “Planet XXY” and “Medusa” were pleasant surprises, but really, the whole time, they were tighter than one generally thinks of doom as tight and showed that you can play heavy, downer music and still not lose all life from the performance.
10:14PM: It’s hard to argue with a professional presentation. And now having seen them live, any question I might’ve had about how Napalm Records came to pick up Houston four-piece Venomous Maximus has been answered. It’s easy: They saw them live. From “Path of Doom” to “Give up the Witch” to the grandiose ending of the finale “Hell’s Heroes,” Venomous Maximus were a pro job all the way. Stage costumes, their own lighting — they even brought their own photographer! The songs were no less dead on for the band being so aesthetically focused, though, and having experience with their Beg upon the Light full-length and the prior The Mission EP, the songs came right back, delivered with power and finesse and a raucousness all their own. I’d have signed them too. It would be foolish not to. If these dudes can get out and tour, their ascent could be quick. They brought the audience with them for a run through powerful riffs and over-the-top metal that was self-aware but not at all ironic. Again, it’s hard to argue.
11:36PM: Filling in for vocalist Lee Smail, who couldn’t make it to Days of the Doomed III, Brian “Butch” Balich (who’s wrapping a new album with Argus) took the frontman role for Penance‘s set. They opened instrumentally, bassist Richard Freund, drummer Mike Smail and guitarist Terry Weston, and were joined shortly thereafter by Butch, whose presence was announced by launching into “Words Not Deeds.” Hell of an introduction. Butch wouldn’t be the only guest, either. Several songs in — “Monster I’ve Become” and “Reaching” among them — guitarist/vocalist Brian Lawrence came out for a few from 1992′s The Road Less Traveled. “A Wayfarer’s Tale” was perhaps the highlight of the whole set, but I won’t discount either when Butch came back out and they closed out as a five-piece with “Misgivings” off the same album. I knew when I saw the band with Smail at Roadburn that this would be their crowd, and it was. Penance received a hometown-esque welcome at The Blue Pig, and proceeded to earn it with crunching tones as doomed as the emotionality both Balich and Lawrence brought to the vocals. I considered myself lucky to have seen them once, so to do it twice in a matter of months with three different singers, all the more so.
1:12AM: Somehow it always seems to be Iron Man rounding out all the doomliest evenings. Only fitting, I guess. Tonight the Maryland — vocalist Dee Calhoun, in a Ravens jersey, said they were from Baltimore tonight, D.C. other nights — stalwarts gave Wisconsin a taste of classic riffing the likes of which it probably hasn’t had since, well, since Days of the Doomed II last year. Tonight they were showing off new material from the forthcoming South of the Earthfull-length. Cuts featured included “The Worst and Longest Day,” the extended “A Whore in Confession” and the title-track, which the band put next to the title-track from I Have Returned, maybe for a bit of symmetry, maybe not. Calhoun and guitarist “Iron” AlMorris III command a lot of attention, but the rhythm section of bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason Waldmann sounded especially on tonight (Strachan added some wah on “A Whore in Confession” that was a nice touch), and the band seemed most gelled of all on the new material, which was encouraging for the results on that album whenever it surfaces. As ever, Iron Man closed out with “Black Night” from the classic 1993 album of the same name, but the crowd wouldn’t let them go when they were done, so they followed it with “Run from the Light” from I Have Returnedand capped day one of Days of the Doomed III with a fitting summary of what I take away as the whole idea behind the fest: Good people, good riffs, good times. You won’t hear (or read) a complaint out of me. Tomorrow we go again.
They only made 50, and when I was in the process of writing up Romero‘s new album, Take the Potion(review here), I stumbled on the band’s prior cassette single — yes, a cassingle — dubbed Couch Lock/In the Heather. Released through Triceratrax Records last year, the limited pressing comes complete with red tape, a 7″ x 14″ foldout (the kind that would normally house a 7″ record) with 3D graphics and 3D glasses to see them. Sorry, but that’s frickin’ awesome.
Both the included tracks on the tape, “Couch Lock” and “In the Heather,” were re-recorded for Take the Potion, but neither is wanting for production on the single either, even if they’re somewhat rawer than they’d wind up. I’ll admit when I shelled out the cash for the tape (I think it was five bucks), it was the packaging that drew me in — the art is by Miranda Martin and guitarist/vocalist Jeffrey Mundt – but it’s not like the Wisconsin trio put all this effort and detail into a practice tape.
And speaking of detail, even the inside of the tape liner — the J-card, as I learned this week that they’re called because of their bend — has a 3D design:
But the righteousness of the design goes further than just the 3D stuff. The layout of the lyric sheet on the inside of the foldout poster (designed by drummer Ben Brooks) is also well thought out and stylized, not to mention hand-numbered:
Of course, there’s good news and bad news. Taking latter first, the pressing of 50 is sold out. I bought the last tape even before I was done with the album review. So unless Romero decide to do another round somewhere down the line, it’s a goner. The good news, however, is that Couch Lock/In the Heather is still up for a pay-what-you-want download, so if you’re thinking of hitting it up, there’s still some opportunity. They’ve even got the 3D images up in case you have a spare pair of glasses around.
Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
There are few lines drawn in heavy underground rock that Madison, Wisconsin, three-piece Romero don’t cross on their debut full-length, Take the Potion. Fluidly touching on heavy rock, crashing into doom and caustic sludge while keeping an eye toward the pop melodies of Torche, the post-hardcore threat of later Akimbo and leaving room for a Sleep-derived riff-out at the end, the seven-track collection is perhaps most surprising in how well it’s all held together. Worth noting in that regard that for a band putting out their first album, Romero aren’t lacking for experience. Guitarist/vocalist Jeffrey Mundt drummed for Naked Aggression in the ‘90s, among others, and Take the Potion (released by Grindcore Karaoke) follows two preliminary singles, Couch Lock and Solitaire +1 (more on them here), so it’s not unexpected that Romero would come into their full-length debut with a decent sense of how they wanted to sound. Indeed, both sides of Couch Lock – those being “Couch Lock” and “In the Heather” – show up on Take the Potion as well, the latter as the closer. What surprises is the level of cohesiveness the three-piece harness throughout the songs, working in a variety of structures and with a swath of influences beyond those noted above, so that the oncoming rush of opener “Compliments and Cocktails” gives way to a catchy stoner verse and chorus before opening to a midsection of tom-heavy beefy hardcore shouts, like all of a sudden Pro-Pain showed up at the studio as Romero were 2:57 seconds into the 6:22 track and decided to take over. Maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s to the band’s credit – the rhythm section of bassist Steve Stanczyk and drummer/vocalist Benjamin Brooks alongside Mundt – that they’re able to transition so smoothly back into the more melodic verse and chorus. “Compliments and Cocktails” is a solid beginning in that it sets up the listener to never quite know what turn Romero might make within a song – after conveying monotony in the opener’s chorus without actually becoming monotonous, they even throw in a little organ near the end – and the rest of Take the Potion doesn’t fail to catch off guard, whether it’s the creeping initial build of second track “Couch Lock” or the stomp that shows up later in the yelling stretch of “Wheeling Deervish” on side B. Throughout, Romero, who recorded and mixed over the course of last year in cooperation with Mark Whitcomb (Phillip Cope of Kylesa mastered), distinguish their methods and showcase a powerful approach that sounds natural even as it melds genre elements often thought of as being at odds.
Primarily, this shit is heavy, and heaviness seems to be its main concern. That is, I don’t imagine Romero sat around in smoking jackets and plotted out second by second how they were going to tie different pieces of heavy rock together to create their own sound from them. More likely they just focused on writing good songs, which however impressive the other achievement might be is at the root of what makes it so. “Couch Lock,” re-recorded and cleaner-sounding than it was on the single, starts slow and arrives at a massive lumber signaled by Brooks’ drums, the plod soon topped with layers of shouting from the drummer and Mundt. Just when it seems they’ve exhausted the part, about two minutes later, they pick up the pace and shift into a faster, driving groove no less heavy but rife with energy and inviting swagger, riding the part out until the final hits recall the stomp from whence they emerged. Two tracks in, and already Romero’s Take the Potion has convinced me to do just that – I’m on board to follow them wherever they might go – and the psychedelic opening of “One Means Four,” some chime added for percussive ethereality, proves easy enough to follow. Stanczyk’s bassline holds the intro together, so that when the track kicks into the shouting verse and cleaner chorus, it makes an eerie kind of sense, gang shouts coming on near the midpoint to foreshadow a surprising rush in what turns out to be a deceptively linear build, breaking here, swarming there, never quite fully playing its hand until the last minute, when it brings back those shouts for another go. By the time you’ve caught up to it, Romero have moved onto the shorter (4:00, the shortest on the album) title-track, a centerpiece that casts off the long-intro ethic of “Couch Lock” and “One Means Four” in favor of immediate pummel with its verse riff. Brooks works a groove out on his ride while the trio crafts momentum out of what’s otherwise a familiar stoner progression, mounting effective stops in the chorus, Mundt’s guitar leading one riff cycle into the next. A solo after the chorus leads to a quieter break, still in motion and bouncing in Stanczyk’s bass, but topped with quick spoken word that leads to crashes that to my ears are enough to justify the Akimbo comparison above. That burst of energy transitions smoothly into the early shuffle of “Distraction Tree,” marking the movement into a second half of Take the Potion no less seamless than the first.
The lineup is set for the two-day Days of the Doomed III fest out at The Blue Pig in Cudahy, Wisconsin, and it’s looking to be fairly monstrous again in 2013. June is a ways off, so obviously anything can change at any time, but hell, pretty much pick any five of the bands on this list, put them on a bill together, and it’s a show worth making a trip to see. Dream Death and Orodruin within the span of 24 hours of each other? Penance leading into Iron Man? Well, I guess you’re just gonna have to sign me up for that one.
A new trailer, put together by Kathy Reeves, has surfaced for the fest that gives a glimpse at the lineup and sets the tunes to, what else?, old public domain car crash footage. Awesome. Enjoy and here’s looking forward:
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The future kinda sucks. You know it and I know it. We were promised hoverboards, Martian colonies, kickass robots, Freejack and a bunch of other stuff, and all we’ve got is an even shittier version of iTunes than the last one. Thanks for nothing, existence.
One good thing to come out of, oh, the last 30 years of human development has been live streaming shows, and Wisconsin-based riff slingers Romero will take advantage of that technology for upcoming Jan. 18 gig on Red Dragon TV. The band (On the Radar’ed here) are about to release their debut full-length, Take the Potiondigitally on Jan. 29 through Grindcore Karaoke and have launched a Kickstarter to help fund a vinyl release. More on that here.
ROMERO “Take The Potion” LP will be released on Tuesday, January 29, 2013.
ROMERO Live Performance & Webcast! January 18, 2013 @ 7pm (US Central standard time) The band will be playing songs from the “Take The Potion” LP and doing a short interview for the cameras of Red Dragon TV in Madison, WI. The show will be broadcast LIVE on the net through the Red Dragon TV website, Ustream & BlogTV, simultaneously. Our friends and supporters from all over the world will finally be able to see & hear ROMERO play live and will have the opportunity to chat with us on-the-air. Get more information fromhttp://reddragontv.tv/or stay tuned to our FACEBOOK page for updates.
LIVE on Inna Godda Davida! w/ Studio Audience & live broadcast on the net!