audiObelisk: Stream Roadburn 2013 Sets from Elder, Pallbearer, Astra, Spiritual Beggars, Witch Mountain, Seremonia, and More

Posted in audiObelisk on September 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Of all the batches of Roadburn 2013 audio that have thus far come to light, this one might be both my favorite and the most comprehensive. From Pallbearer‘s morose doom to Elder‘s heavy psych righteousness, the progressive metal of The Ocean and Spiritual Beggars‘ classic heavy rock, seething black metal from A Forest of Stars, with post-metal from Process of Guilt, blues doom from Witch Mountain and prog from Camera and Astra between — that’s not to mention the genreless freakout of Seremonia — it’s a series as varied as the fest itself.

Please enjoy the Roadburn 2013 streams on the players below and kiss your afternoon goodbye. As you make your way through, don’t forget to check the news below about The Shrine, Papir and Glitter Wizard being added to the Roadburn 2014 lineup, as that continues to impressively take shape.

Thanks as always to Walter and the Roadburn crew:

A Forest of Stars – Live at Roadburn 2013

Astra – Live at Roadburn 2013

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Elder – Live at Roadburn 2013

Pallbearer – Live at Roadburn 2013

Process of Guilt – Live at Roadburn 2013

Seremonia – Live at Roadburn 2013

Spiritual Beggars – Live at Roadburn 2013

The Ocean – Live at Roadburn 2013

The Ruins of Beverast – Live at Roadburn 2013

Witch Mountain – Live at Roadburn 2013

As noted above, Roadburn 2014 has continued this week to add bands to its already considerable lineup. Here’s the latest, courtesy of the fest:

LA’s The Shrine To Bring Some Heavy, Psychedelic, Riff Based Rock n’ Roll To Roadburn Festival 2014

Grab a six pack! It’s time for some high energy, rock ‘n roll action when Los Angeles’ The Shrine hits the stage on Thursday, April 10 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands. We’re feeling inspired… should we put up a skate ramp at Roadburn 2014?

No, let’s empty some pools, and conquer these concrete bowls! Right here, right now, as the hairy dudes in The Shrine could easily have been part of the 1970s Zephyr skateboard team. Or at least, they would have put up their big ass amps (draped with an American flag, of course) next to the pools, and crank some drug addled, SoCal primitive blast to get it all going, pure and simple!

Denmark’s Papir To Transcend Heavy Psych Territory at Roadburn Festival 2014

We here at Roadburn are on our own path and we ensure that when booking the festival it encompasses everything we like – from krautrock through post rock to heavy psych.

Papir, hailing from the suburbs of Copenhagen, are definitely kindred spirits, as this fascinating instrumental three piece have created their own extraordinary type of semi-improvised psychedelic rock by transcending the usual labels – something we immensely admire. Thus we simply can’t wait to dive headfirst into the band’s richly textured sound on Saturday, April 12 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Take A Trip Way Back Into The Future With Glitter Wizard at Roadburn 2014

In our ongoing quest to exhume every artifact of 60s and 70s proto metal, we recently stumbled up on San Francisco’s Glitter Wizard. For a moment, it seemed that we unearthed a forgotten gem, as Hunting Gatherers, the band’s sophomore album, could be easily mistaken for a long lost album from the early 70s.

In our hazy minds’ imagination, the band shared the stage with Steppenwolf, Bloodrock, Black Widow, The Stooges or Iron Butterfly, but Glitter Wizard‘s trippy, swinging sound — replete with catchy riffs, amusing lyrics and space-age keyboards, sax and flutes — isn’t some kind of Nuggets discovery, they are here and now.

Don’t get behind the times when the devil worships Glitter Wizard at Roadburn 2014 on Saturday, April 12 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands. They will take you into future through a doorway hidden in the past.

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ROADBURN 2013 Day Two: Born a Wicked Man

Posted in Features on April 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.20.13 — 00.52 — Saturday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

I was early to Het Patronaat for the start of day two of Roadburn 2013. Stupid early, as the kids might say. Dread Sovereign – the new and doomly trio from Primordial vocalist Alan Averill and drummer Simon O’Laoghaire, also with Bones on guitar — were going on until 14.00, and I rolled up to the old church roughly an hour before. It was in time to catch their soundcheck, as it happens, which I watched from the door into the upstairs of the venue as a prelude to their actual set, which followed a much-needed cup of coffee. I had thought of bringing a book to read and ultimately decided against it. Can’t say it was the right choice, but there you go.

Averill handles bass in Dread Sovereign as well, and dialing his stage makeup back to some eyeliner but keeping the hood — Bones had one as well — his stage presence was a far cry from what it had been the night before, less interaction with the crowd, less rousing to fit with the music, which in turn was less rousing. There’s a 12″ they’re selling here, limited, whathaveyou, that I’ve had my eye on for two days now, and watching Dread Sovereign live did nothing to dissuade a purchase. Bones was a ripper on guitar, thrashing out like the kids do while he tossed off lively solos to counteract the songs’ marked plod. For his part, Averill‘s vocal style was roughly the same as in Primordial — after a point, you’re going to sing how you’re going to sing, no matter the context — but he had room to breathe between lines for the slower tempos.

Less adrenaline all around, then, but that was to be expected, and there were still a couple flashes of more uptempo groove to be had. “Pray to the Devil in Man” may have beat out its anti-Christian miseries, but “13 Clergy to the Fire” had some swing to it, with a chorus pattern distinctly in Averill‘s sphere that was immediately memorable. Solid beginning as it was, though, even Dread Sovereign‘s fastest stretch was little indicator of what German retro rockers Kadavar had on offer, playing songs from their two albums, 2012′s self-titled debut and the brand new Abra Kadavar (review here). I think for lack of material, as they’re a pretty recent band, Dread Sovereign ended their 45-minute set early, so there was a break in between, but as soon as Kadavar started checking their sound, it was clear things were about to take a turn in a much different direction.

One thing about the German three-piece: They’ve got the look down. Also the sound. Between two songs early into their set, someone in back shouted out, “Hair metal!” and received a couple boos. I can see the point of the critique, that Kadavar are so much leading with their aesthetic, the vintage production, the shirts, necklaces, beards, the bellbottoms and so on, and I guess if they sucked, it would be an issue, but they clearly take it seriously, and they’d more or less melted Het Patronaat by the time they were through their third song. Wolf Lindemann‘s vocals were spot on, and Tiger (drums) was responsible for a good bit of the energy they exuded from the stage. Say what you want about their haircuts, a drummer who can headbang like that to his own rhythms is something special to watch. They had a fill-in bassist, but once they got going, there was really no stopping their momentum.

The drums were set up toward the front of the stage, off the riser, so I don’t know how it looked from the back, but from where I was, people ate up “All Our Thoughts,” “Doomsday Machine” and Abra Kadavar opener “Come Back Life,” and rightfully so. In their tones, in Lindemann‘s vocals, in Tiger‘s riotous playing, Kadavar delivered an early highlight to the day and rounded out with a massive jam, bringing up DJ/filmmaker/psychedelic manipulator/etc. Shazzula Vultura – who was also showing a movie in Stage01 at 013 today — to add swirl via a Theremin run through a Moogerfooger. Shit got real wild real quick, and it was a stretch that brought to mind the later moments of Abra Kadavar. True to the record, they held it together live as well and crashed to a finish as crisply and vibrantly as they’d started, having played their full hour.

At that point, I’d been standing in the same spot at the front of the stage for about two full hours, but I knew I didn’t want to move until I got to watch at least part of Witch Mountain, who were playing Europe for the first time and on the road for four weeks with Cough, who played later tonight. It was another abrupt change in vibe, but neither did Witch Mountain disappoint. The abundance of talent in that band is nigh on ridiculous, and between drummer Nate Carson‘s work with Nanotear Booking (he’s giving a master class tomorrow on touring the US, which he knows both ends of, having done it a few times himself at this point as well as sending others on their way), guitarist Rob Wrong‘s history of reviewing albums for StonerRock.com and penchant for counteracting lumbering riffs with shredding solos, vocalist Uta Plotkin‘s intense range as she varies from growls to soaring, clean high notes (while actually hitting them; I don’t know if she’s a trained singer, but she certainly sounds like one) and bassist Neal Munson‘s tonal heft and nod-out rhythms, it’s hard not to root for them both here and in general.

“The Ballad of Lanky Rae” and “Beekeeper” from last year’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and the extended build of “Aurelia” were welcome, and as they seemed really glad to be playing, there resulted the kind of wholesome atmosphere that emerges when doom gathers to celebrate itself. I dug it, which was doubly fortunate because watching Kadavar and Witch Mountain meant missing out on Dream Death. There was some strategy involved in this, as staying at Het Patronaat instead of going over to the 013 Main Stage for Dream Death freed up scheduling conflicts to come and I’ll be able to catch Dream Death in June at Days of the Doomed III in Wisconsin — most assuredly about as “in their element” as they’re going to get. So I felt bad for missing out on Dream Death, but will make up for it later. Every Roadburn brings hard choices, and every attendee has to carve out his or her own path through the crowded lineup. You know, like life.

Already at Het Patronaat the temperatures were reaching unseasonable highs. Witch Mountain had started early on account of this, and it was largely the thermostat that had me split partway through their set — still fun to start today with two full sets, as opposed to yesterday with all the running around early on — to head across the alleyway to the 013 and check out the “The Electric Acid Orgy” curated lineup by Electric Wizard guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn. The Wizard‘s own set was still a ways off, but as I walked in, the Green Room was just starting to fill up for upstart doomers Witchsorrow, who soon came on with their peculiarly British kind of traditional crushing riffage. At some point I’m going to have to sit down and really hammer out the differences between British trad doom and American trad doom and see what I can come up with, but watching Witchsorrow after Witch Mountain underscored how wide the margin between two doom acts can be, however similarly witchy their names might wind up.

They too seemed glad to have been asked to play — who wouldn’t be? — and the Green Room did indeed pack out for them, guitarist/vocalist Nick Ruskell craning his neck upwards to a high microphone as though to invoke Lemmy’s occult powers and further drive the band’s Cathedral-inspired take into wretched oblivion. And so on. Ruskell, bassist Emily Witch and drummer David Wilbrahammer also had a limited-edition cassette for sale over in the merch area to mark the occasion of playing Roadburn 2013, but I didn’t see it over there when I went today to pick up the new Toner Low CD from the Exile on Mainstream table (one of these years, I’ll introduce myself to Andreas from the label, but frankly, people with taste in music that good intimidate me) and must have missed my shot at one. Too bad, but I’m glad I got to catch them for a bit before I headed into the Main Stage area for the start of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.

It was plain even before they played one note that Uncle Acid were a major draw for the day, and in the five Roadburns that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend, I can think of very few times that room has been that crowded. Sleep last year, Saint Vitus in ’09, and oh yeah, Electric Wizard later in the evening. Usually there’s somewhere to go in the Main Stage area, whether it’s up front in a corner on the floor, or up in back on one of the raised steps, or even up on the balcony, but not for Uncle Acid. There was just no corner that didn’t have someone already there. I knew that a lot of people were looking forward to seeing them play, and so was I, but I suppose I hadn’t realized how that would translate to the actual numbers. They had their work cut out for them in living up to expectation.

But that, they didn’t fail. Opening with “I’ll Cut You Down” from their landmark 2011 sophomore outing, Blood Lust, they had the place immediately in their grip, the song’s psychotic verse swing and chorus hook delivered by both of the UK four-piece’s guitarists, Uncle Acid himself front and center, with backing in the chorus and here and there throughout from the bassist. People watched from out the side door as “I’ll Cut You Down” led to “Mt. Abraxas” from their third album, Mind Control (review here), the stomp in the finish winning favor readily even though the record is still pretty recent, as is, I’m told, the drummer. “Valley of the Dolls” provided a slowdown and “Death’s Door” was a highlight, the band playing mostly in the dark but for a few flashes here and there. I guess as regards the light show, I expected Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats to come bathed in psychedelic purples, oranges and pinks the whole time — they were for flashes in the beginning — but they did just as well in hair-down-lights-down blue and there was little I could’ve reasonably asked for that they didn’t deliver. My one per year, I stood on the side of the stage to watch for a few minutes. Not too long, but long enough.

From there, I popped out to grab a quick bite to eat — roasted chicken, potatoes au gratin and a couple piece of fried fish; I’ve always been a cheap date — and figured I’d get a spot for Moss in the Green Room after. No such luck. By the time I got there, not only was the room itself full, but the space in the hallway outside where one would be able to see the band through the open doorway was also full. My loss, this Moss. They also had some tapes for sale. I should’ve bought everything. Didn’t. Hazards of doing a Roadburn sober, it seems. Back to Het Patronaat, then, my mind still reeling from the Uncle Acid set, to catch the start of French post-black metallers Les Discrets. Roadburn 2013 artist-in-residence, Neige of Alcest, played bass alongside guitarist, vocalist, visual artist and principle songwriter Fursy Teyssier and in comparison to Les Discrets‘ albums, of which I’ll make no bones about saying I’m a fan, the live incarnation was much heavier. This could just as easily be a byproduct of the house P.A., or of Neige‘s bass along with Teyssier and the second guitar, but it added to the dynamism of the band’s already dynamic material.

Also, but for Witch Mountain‘s Plotkin, Les Discrets also had the best vocals I’ve heard so far into the fest, Teyssier harmonizing with his fellow six-stringer and resting just under the lush wash of melody in the guitar and bass. It was gorgeous. Painfully so. I thought the mix on last year’s Ariettes Oubliées (review here) was stronger than that of their 2010 debut, Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées (semi-review here), but even the heaviest moments on record didn’t really prepare me for seeing them live, and while they may share a lot in terms of style with Alcest, it was never quite so apparent as it was watching them how different the two acts actually are and just how much of himself Teyssier puts into his work. I was really, really glad I got to see them, which as usual was becoming kind of a theme for the fest as a whole.

By the time they were really dug in, I could feel the day starting to wear on me, so I came back to the hotel for a few minutes to regroup, take my shoes off, drink a bottle of water, etc., so that when I got back to the 013 for Electric Wizard, I was good and ready. There was some hubbub about the band saying they didn’t want any photographers or something, an email sent to some people apparently, but there was still a decent population in the photo pit by the time the headliners started. I don’t know and I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway at this point, though I was worried Jus Oborn would stop the set and tell everyone to get the fuck out for breaking the rules. I tried to ask him while he was setting up his gear, but if he heard me, there was no indication.

Once more, Oborn had curated the day, so it was only fitting that Electric Wizard should headline — it would be fitting anyway, honestly — and the chance to see them for the first time was a considerable percentage slice for why I came. They toured the States over a decade ago (speaking of hubbubs, I seem to recall something about the Oborn‘s pants? I don’t know), but I didn’t see them then, so they were a must and a major cross-off for my must-see-before-I-die-in-a-fiery-plane-crash list. Yes, I have one, and it’s shorter by one band following Electric Wizard‘s set, which they launched with “Come My Fanatics,” Oborn stepping right into the cult leader role that he more or less legitimately is now, considering how many bands have followed in his drugged-out horrordelic footsteps. Joined by guitarist Liz Buckingham, returned drummer Mark Greening, who came back to the band following the dissolution of Ramesses, and bassist Glenn Charman, Oborn led the way through “Witchcult Today,” “Black Mass,” “Drugula,” “Legalise Drugs and Murder” as the packed crowd willingly went into something like a simultaneous nod trance, chanting lyrics back as screams entered the fray with extended verses and endings for the songs. I stood by the far-left side of the stage and watched riff after pot-addled riff met corresponding clouds of smoke in the crammed-in audience. I didn’t, but if you were ever gonna, this would’ve been the time.

I managed to get back to the other side of the stage by something I’ll just call “Roadburn magic” and ran by the Green Room to watch a few minutes of Finnish weirdo acid rockers Seremonia. Perhaps because everyone was either in the Main Stage space or over at Het Patronaat anticipating the arrival of Goat, the Green Room wasn’t overly crowded and I was able to walk right in. Kind of a bummer spot for Seremonia to have, competing with stoner legends and fascinating newcomers at once, but at least they were here. They just have one record out and from what I saw, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if they made another appearance down the line sometime. Their self-titled debut (track stream here) is better than people seem to have caught on to yet, perhaps intimidated by the many syllables of the Finnish lyrics. Couldn’t say for sure.

And though I wanted to stay and bask in the sort of folksy traditionalism of Seremonia, Goat beckoned. The Swedish outfit will apparently release a new 7″ on Sub Pop in the US in June, so somebody’s taken note following the critical tornado of fuckyessery that surrounded their 2012 World Music debut. Fine. I’m still not sure I’m really down with Goat. Maybe this is an all-too-American perspective, but you’ve got a bunch of people in masks running around playing psychedelic Afrobeat flailing arms and shouting whooping chants, I guess my big question as regards the band is what part of it isn’t minstrelsy. Obviously Sweden doesn’t have the history of troubled race relations that the US does, and I’ll be straight, I liked the record for what it was musically, it’s the theory behind it that has so far left me scratching my head.

Nonetheless, I ended the day same as I started it — standing in the doorway of Het Patronaat — only this time it was because the room was so full that there was nowhere else for me to go. The line to get in to see Goat stretched out the door and down the alley, and security was letting people in as others came out, so clearly the band was a major lure. Again, they’re good at what they do — I’m not saying they’re not — it’s all the other stuff besides the music I’m talking about. That said, judging by the smiles on the faces of those around me and the expectant/impatient looks of those waiting on line outside (far more wanting to go in than coming out), they probably made quite a few peoples’ day.

Late-night Tilburg echoes with the throb of the dance club across from the Mercure and drunken aus uur blijfts on the street below my open window. It’s just past four in the morning as I finish this post and if last night is anything to go by, it’ll be another two hours sorting photos [actually it was only an hour and a half!]. So be it. Roadburn 2013 day three kicks off tomorrow at 14.30 and I’ll be there.

Thanks (again) for reading. More pics after the jump.

Read more »

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Nathan Carson to Teach Master Class on Touring the US at Roadburn 2013

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Imagine being the one to have to break the news to European bands how much shittier they’ll get treated if they decide to make a run of it in the States. The bold impresario taking on the task of imparting such wisdom that our nation’s humble scene is… getting better… is none other than Nathan Carson, drummer of Witch Mountain and founder of Nanotear Booking, who count YOB, Primordial, Acid King and the recently-reviewed Helen Money among many others on their client roster.

What can Carson (interview here) teach attendees at Roadburn 2013 about hitting the road both in the US and in general? Plenty, I’ve no fucking doubt — and better, he can do it not only as someone who runs a respected booking outfit, but from the perspective of someone who’s put in significant road time himself.

One not to miss, and one more way in which Roadburn continues to push the boundaries of what a fest can do. Here are details:

This year, Roadburn Festival is pleased to present master classes and performance clinics for the first time. It seems like a great opportunity to give those of you attending the festival, many of whom are in bands or enjoy playing music on your own, and some of the folks on the bill an opportunity to meet and learn from each other.

On Saturday, April 20th, Nanotear Booking‘s Nathan Carson will focus on what it takes to strategically tour in the US, and how to avoid the many pitfalls that can put tours in jeopardy (financial and otherwise). Questions from attendees will be welcomed.

Nathan Carson is a musician and booking agent from Portland, OR USA. A member of the international doom scene since the 90s, he taught himself to book DIY tours for his own band Witch Mountain, and soon after for his first official clients YOB. Nanotear Booking was founded in 2004 based on the success of those tours and Carson‘s growing network of connections, which he built first-hand on the road.

In 2013, Nanotear represents over twenty-five uncompromising artists, including Agalloch, Jarboe, Lene Lovich, Corrupted, YOB, and Witch Mountain. Riding the fine line between DIY ethics and sincere professionalism is what sets Nanotear apart from many other booking agencies. Artistic curation, fair deals, and humane practices are all a part of this successful formula.

Touring The US is available for Roadburn ticket holders (no additional fee) and will be held between 1:30 PM and 2:30 PM at the Hall of Fame in Tilburg, Holland.

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Witch Mountain and Cough Added to Desertfest Berlin 2013

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

More good news out of the Desertfest Berlin camp in that Witch Mountain and Cough will be hitting up the Austra Kulturhaus on their European run as a part of the fest. The two forward-thinking American acts will also play Desertfest London and Roadburn, representing some of the best doom the opposite US coasts have to offer. Desertfest sent over the following announcements:

WITCH MOUNTAIN (USA)

On tour from April with COUGH, we are thrilled to announce that WITCH MOUNTAIN is added to the DESERFEST 2013 line-up !! WITCH MOUNTAIN is classic doom metal band delivering a magic potion of massive and rumbling riffs that bore you skull, and bluesy, ballsy, and sensual vocals that attract everything with their seductive wildness.

From Portland, Oregon, WITCH MOUNTAIN was formed in 1997. The band self-released a demo “Homegrown Doom” in 1999, and their first full-length album “Come the Mountain” in 2001. But after a 2002 tour with Eternal Elysium, the band slowed activity for several years…

A July 2009 show opening for Pentagram, with guest singer Uta Plotkin, marked a revival of the band. Uta brought the necessary ingredient that Witch Mountain founders Rob Wrong and Nate Carson had been seeking since they initially formed the group.

She was asked to join the band as main vocalist, and Witch Mountain recorded their second full-length album, “South of Salem” six months later. Produced by master “engine-ear” Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Melvins), it was unleashed in April 2011 through their own label Mountastic Recrods. In November 2011, WITCH MOUNTAIN was signed with Profound Lore Records and released their third full-length album, “Cauldron of the Wild”, in June 2012.

Just after, an invitation to play the main stage at Scion Rock Fest 2012 along with Sleep, Saint Vitus, and Down gave the band an opportunity to return to US stages, successfully headlining in the US and Canada for most of June. This fall, Scion sponsored the band’s most extensive tour to date — a 5-week headlining trek around the US and Canada with witchy friends Castle in support.

They will be in Europe from April, with COUGH, for their first European shows ever!! The DesertFest couldn’t miss this occasion, and you either!!

COUGH (USA)

On tour from April with WITCH MOUNTAIN, we are thrilled to announce that COUGH is added to the DESERFEST 2013 line-up !!

Formed in Richmond, Virginia, in 2005, COUGH is a sludge/doom metal band delivering thoroughly massive, epic and impenetrable walls of sound and volume, at points suffocating and claustrophobic, at others warped and hallucinogenic.

The band self-released an EP, “The Kingdom”, in 2007, and followed it quickly with their first proper full-length “Sigillum Luciferi” in 2008, recorded with acclaimed producer Sanford Parker (Minsk, Rwake, Pelican, Nachtmystium). Sporadic gigging followed the release before the band holed up in a Richmond warehouse to write the follow up, but the band slowly laboured forward with the writing. By winter 2009/2010, the band had signed to Relapse Records and returned to Chicago, Illinois, enlisting Parker once again to record the long awaited “Ritual Abuse”, released in October 2010.

Upon its release the band embarked on two epic North American and European tours lasting almost four months ! In 2012, COUGH performed another US headline run, and their first ever Australian and New Zealand tours. They will be back in Europe in 2013 for a seven-week tour starting from April, stopping at the DESERTFEST Berlin to deliver their impressive monolith of sound !

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Desertfest London 2013 Update: Ufomammut, Cough, Witch Mountain, Abrahma, Planet of Zeus & Whoremoan Added to Lineup

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

Bit of a roundup here of adds to the 2013 London Desertfest lineup. Since the New Year hit, Desertfest has announced a slew of bands for its second incarnation, among them American acts Cough and Witch Mountain, Greek rockers Planet of Zeus, Italian cosmic doomers Ufomammut and local slingers Whoremoan. Info follows culled from the Desertfest website:

Ufomammut

Taking their cues from the Jedi knights of Sleep, Electric Wizard, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and King Crimson, the ‘Mammut are heavier than a thousand Hubble telescopes, each lined with the mass of its own internal black hole. They’re also the masters of the long-player format; recent voyage Oro opus was so vast that it could not be confined to a single LP, and its two disks bolt together to form one glorious 94-minute riff labyrinth. Past conquests ‘Eve’, ‘Idolum’, ‘Lucifer’s Songs’, ‘Godlike Snake’ and ‘Snailking’ all spawned marauding, psychedelic orgies of aggressive, yet graceful and pace-varied prog-doom which set these Tortona natives up as one of Europe’s premier heavy music acts. Backed by the Malleus Rock Lab, their one-of-a-kind art-visuals project, Signors Vito, Urlo and Poia have set the controls for the heart of Camden and are preparing their battery of equipment to hurl you into another dimension this coming April at DesertFest 2013.

Cough

Cough smashed into worldwide acclaim within doom / sludge circles with the crushing 2008 début album Sigillum Luciferi, followed in 2010 with the fully engulfing psyche-sludge of Ritual Abuse (available on Relapse Records) and a split with the UK’s own doom titans The Wounded Kings. Encompassing monolithically pounding, horror-raising, weed-tuned riffs and vocals stylings ranging from classic occult doom to downright demonic, blackened screams of desperation, the band have proven they are a force to be reckoned with both in this realm and beyond. Having played across the U.S. in the last few years with the likes of Buzzov-en / Weedeater / Eyehategod, as well as even reaching to play a 2011 tour in Australia, Cough will most definitely be a must for any devotees of the heaviest tone with their appearance at The Underworld at DesertFest 2013″

Witch Mountain

The time is upon us for the arrival on our shores of the magnificent Doom beasts that are ‘Witch Mountain’. Hailing form Portland Oregon, these masters of their art blend crushing sludge riffs with the female classic rock vocal stylings of Uta Plotkin. Its a match made in heaven and one that should not be missed as they have been very hard at work producing not 1 but 2 EPs last year that have been amazingly received and its their first visit to the UK so expect walls to shake and foundations to crumble at the h_d_p/WPC stage!

Abrahma

Parisians set to romance Desertfesters with riffs, licks and pounding grooves. Abrahma was formed in Paris, back in 2005 under the original moniker Alchosonic. The French 4-piece are made up by Seb Bismuth:on Guitar/Vox, Nicolas Heller on Guitar and they are joined by the Colin brothers Guillaume on Bass and Benjamin on Drums. Signed to Small Stone Records, the Psych Rockers have recently released ‘Through the dusty paths of our lives’ which features a guest appearance by the legend that is Ed Mundell (Monster Magnet/Atomic Bitchwax). Very Heavy Rock is very much on the menu, with large amounts of psychdelia running throughout their music, so don’t miss out on the French invasion at Desertfest 2013.

Planet of Zeus

The Greek Stoners were formed way back in the year of 2000 in Athens, and are made up by four demigods, Babis/Vox & Guitars, Yog/Guitars, JayVee/Bass and Syke/Drums. It was 8 years until the they released their debut album ‘Eleven the Hard Way’ this was followed up in 2011 with ‘Macho Libre’. If you haven’t already experienced Planet of Zeus then expect plenty of stoner fuzz riding heavy on plenty of riff. They have shared the stage with many of the biggest bands on the scene like Monster Magnet, Karma to Burn, Hermano and not forgetting their apperance at Stoned from The Underground in Germany. By the power of Zeus do not miss your chance to see these heavy rock gods!

Whoremoan

Veterans of 20 years by now, Canvey Island’s Whoremoan have been kicking out the jams since 1992 and working hard at it ever since. Having released a series of EPs and LPs, they keep the DIY punk ethic alive and stick it to the man by recording, producing and selling it all themselves. If you dig the relentless concrete-block barrage of bands like Helmet, a side-order of stoner groove and even a shot of Clutch-lovin’ southern rock, these guys will be just the ticket to a sore neck, a few whoremoans no doubt, and a delierously good time at Desertfest 2013!

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Cough, Witch Mountain, Hexvessel, Sabbath Assembly, Tombstoned & Crown Join Roadburn 2013 Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Richmond-based cult sludgers Cough will play Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard‘s curated event at Roadburn 2013. The Virginian outfit have been at the fore of the post-Electric Wizard pack, reveling in horrific atmospheres and massive, droning riffs, so they’re a good fit on what’s quickly becoming an eclectic bill. Their last release was an ultra-badass 2010 split vinyl on Forcefield Records with like-minded British purveyors The Wounded Kings (review here), and I don’t know if maybe they’ll have new material on hand by April, but it’s worth hoping for.

In addition to Cough, Witch Mountain will play Roadburn and Sabbath Assembly, Hexvessel, Crown and Tombstoned have joined the lineup as well.

This came courtesy of the fest’s website:

“Firstly, raise your withered stumps and welcome ye brothers of the bong, Richmond, Virginia bruisers and losers…(cue intro to Sweet Leaf)… Cough… rising through the fog like resin-zombies the appropriately named band are the epitome of evil stoned doom”, says Electric Wizard‘s Jus Oborn. “Violent, bleak and wasted… Ritual Abuse was genius… burnout and clogged with resin. We loved it!! Since then we have had many late night smokeouts with these kindred spirits and hopefully many, many more. The Acid Orgy will be heavily laced with Smoke…Hail Cough!!!”

“Once there was a legend of black cloaked cultists that haunted 1960s London, ominous and dark wearing strange occult symbols”, Jus continues, “They handed out bizarre literature linking Satan, Lucifer and ChristHells Angels were our saviours working for God and Lucifer to cleanse our world. They became linked to the Manson Killings and eventually disappeared in infamy to only be remembered by a chosen few …now Dave Nuss and Sabbath Assembly recreate the rituals and liturgies of this infamous group. We can now see and hear the true vision of this paradoxical acid consciousness cult. Hail Satan, Amen?!”

“Also we have young blood for the growing acid cult… a new power trio of Finnish maniacs that deal in real heavy doom: Tombstoned“, says Jus, “We witnessed them live only a few weeks ago and were blown away (yes…they defiantly had feel of our favourite Finnish band). Heavy and cool as the grave, absolutely no pretense or hipster styling, just solid and real doom music played by people who don’t care what you think. You will fuckin love em!!!! Hail Tombstoned!”

Even More Incredible bands to be announced SOON !!!

Roadburn Festival 2013 will run for four days from Thursday, April 18th to Sunday, April 21st, 2013 (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland. Tickets for the Afterburner are still available!

Portland, OR’s Witch Mountain will bring their crushing doom to Roadburn Festival 2013 on Friday, April 19th at Het Patronaat in Tilburg, Holland.

Founded by guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nate Carson in 1997, this was not yet the Witch Mountain that would come to fruition. In 2009, the addition of vocalist Uta Plotkin transformed the band into something extraordinary with her bluesy, sensual and commanding voice as captured on both South of Salem (2011) and Cauldron of the Wild (2012).

Plotkin’s powerful and soulful pipes sound almost out of place, but this is exactly what makes Witch Mountain so special. She belts out the band’s massive, doomy, bluesy tunes like a metallized Janis Joplin or the lost sister of Heart‘s Ann and Nancy Wilson who chose the left-hand path.

Distilled from thick churning down-tuned guitars and dense drumming infused with Plotkin’s sad and sweet vocals, Witch Mountain lumbers without plodding and soars without drifting off. The epic sound and unique take on doom metal has earned them both a highly acclaimed reputation and a rightful place among the current crop of wickedly talented female-fronted bands. We are super stoked to welcome Witch Mountain to the Roadburn Festival during their first-ever European tour.

“2012 has been the biggest and best of Witch Mountain’s 15 year history”, says Nate Carson, “Two successful headlining American tours, two albums on Profound Lore, a new single, Scion Rock Fest (with Sleep and Saint Vitus), and now this.”

“It is truly an honor to end this year with the official announcement that we will finally tour Europe. Many thanks go out from us to Roadburn for this fantastic invitation. My only concern is that Cauldron of the Wild LP pre-orders are coming in so quickly that we may run out of vinyl before we get over there! Cheers!”

Roadburn Festival 2013 will run for four days from Thursday, April 18th to Sunday, April 21st, 2013 (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland. Tickets for the Afterburner are still available!

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Witch Mountain Get Down to Business

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

After seeing them back in June in Brooklyn at ye olde Saint Vitus bar, I’m glad to see it’s not too long before Portland, Oregon, doomly doomy doomers Witch Mountain will be returning to the road. They seemed to be so darn good at it, and Cauldron of the Wild (review here) was killer. The band has teamed up with Scion A/V and will be spreading the tale of Lanky Rae far and wide.

Hearken to the PR wire and receive such wisdom:

WITCH MOUNTAIN Announce North American Fall Tour

WITCH MOUNTAIN have received high marks from everyone in metal’s underground after awaking from their nearly 10-year hibernation. During this period, the band also added the extraordinary Uta Plotkin to the ranks and created one of the most impressive doom records of the year, ‘Cauldron of the Wild’ (Profound Lore). The band also took part in their first full North American tour and made an appearance at this year’s Scion Rock Fest.

Now, WITCH MOUNTAIN is back in action and has teamed with Scion A/V to plot a massive North American trek alongside Prosthetic Records’ new doom three piece CASTLE. The tour will kick-off in Portland on October 11th and run all the way through to another Portland show on November 18th.

10/11 – Portland, OR @ Plan B (w/Rabbits)
10/12 - Vancouver, BC @ Interuban Gallery
10/13 – Seattle, WA @ Highline
10/14 – Moscow, ID @ Prichard Gallery
10/15 – Boise, ID @ Shredder
10/16 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Bard Deluxe (w/SUBROSA)
10/19 – St. Paul @ Turf Club
10/21 – Madison, WI @ High Noon
10/22 – Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle
10/23 – Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class
10/24 – Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar
10/25 – Toronto, ON @ Wreck Room
10/26 – Hamilton, ON @ Corktown Pub
10/27 – Ottawa, ON @ Café Dekcuf
10/28 – Montreal, PQ @ Katacombes
10/29 – Burlington, VT @ Nectars
10/30 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
10/31 – New Haven, CT @ BAR
11/02 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
11/03 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
11/04 – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
11/05 – Asheville, NC @ Static Age Records
11/06 – Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
11/08 – Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree
11/09 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jack’s
11/10 – Austin, TX @ Red 7
11/12 – Phoenix, AZ @ Yucca Tap
11/13 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
11/14 – Fullerton, CA @ Slidebar (w/Ides Of Gemini)
11/15 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Catalyst Atrium
11/16 – San Francisco, CA @ Parkside
11/17 – Arcata, CA @ Alibi
11/18 – Portland, OR @ Ash St Saloon (w/Lord Dying)

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The Top 10 of the First Half of 2012

Posted in Features on June 25th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

The last couple years, I’ve done a top five of the first half, and that’s cool, but as I sat down the other day to make the list that follows, I realized the numbers didn’t work. If I’m going to finish 2012 off with a top 20 — which unless a piano falls on my head between now and then I am — then half of that is 10. Half a year, half a top 20. I was never much for math, folks.

But the important thing is I got there in the end, and with a full top 10, I have a little more room to nerd out on what I think are some (not all) of the best releases of the last six months. And just so I can say I said it twice, these are my personal picks, based on what I’ve listened to most as much as whatever estimation of aesthetic value I might make. Let’s get to it:

10. Witch Mountain, Cauldron of the Wild

If you’re asking yourself, “Hey, wasn’t Witch Mountain‘s Cauldron of the Wild just reviewed the other day?” you’re right, it was. That’s why it’s number 10 — because I know it’s a really good record, but I’m not sure yet what the replay value will be as the year progresses. Let it say something that I didn’t want to make this list without including the third album from the Portland doom bluesers, but without the benefit of a little distance from the songs (I still have “Shelter” stuck in my head from reviewing it, though that may prove a permanent scenario), I thought it better to play it cautious than be overly excited. Sometimes it’s hard to restrain the geek within, and I know I’m not the only one Cauldron of the Wild has had that effect on.

9. Caltrop, Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes

Deceptively progressive and study on repeat visits, the newest full-length from North Carolina’s Caltrop, Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes, is an album that doesn’t bow to accessibility but gets there naturally on its own anyway. The music the four-piece makes is technically complex, but the use they put that complexity to is warm and inviting, where so much prog feels cold and showy. Maybe that’s the Southern heat working its way into the tracks, but either way, with the varied work of multiple songwriters and a consistency of atmosphere running throughout, Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes helped me make the transition out of winter and into the warmer weather. I continue to think of Caltrop as a woefully underrated band.

8. Stubb, Stubb

The self-titled Superhot Records debut from London-based trio Stubb (review here) was a simple case of fuzz done right. The rhythm section here also had a strong outing on Superhot in the form of Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight‘s Going Home (review here), but partnered up with guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, the bass/vocals of Pete Holland and drums of Chris West formed a power trio inspired by classic rock but not imitating it, which is increasingly rare. Their stoner groove was straightforward and heartfelt and the songwriting on tracks like “Mountain” and “Hard Hearted Woman” left absolutely nothing to be desired. I consider myself lucky for having seen them live, and doing so only increased my appreciation for the album.

7. Ararat, II

Sergio Chotsourian‘s second album in post-Los Natas project Ararat (review here) was both more cohesive than its 2009 predecessor, Musica de la Resistencia (review here), and thicker. Indeed, it was his bass tone that made the rumble in extended tracks like “Caballos” and “La Ira del Dragon (Uno)” so indispensable. Ararat has a different dynamic than did Los Natas, but hearing the beginning of what will hopefully be a long process of development has been part of the fun of listening to the band so far. Still, it’s the songs themselves more than their context that stand out, and every time I listen to “Lobos de Guerra y Cazadores de Elefantes,” I swear it seems like my brain is going to turn into liquid and start seeping out of my ears. It’s hard not to dig a record that makes you feel that way.

6. Ufomammut, Oro: Opus Primum

I’ll admit, this one’s a bit of a running gag I have with myself. Ever since I put Ufomammut‘s Eve as the number six on my top 10 of 2010, I’ve regretted it, and the thing about Oro: Opus Primum is (review here) that it’s only half the album, with Oro: Opus Alter still to come as the second part of their Neurot Recordings debut. So when I was wondering where to stick this thing on the list, the number that immediately came to my head was six and there it stands. Amazing to think that we’ll get another Ufomammut record before the year’s out. I look forward to hearing that, and in the meantime, there have been several occasions for which nothing has seemed quite doomed enough that Oro: Opus Primum has fit just right. Ufomammut have been and continue to be something really special.

5. Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Damned

What’s not to like about the prospect of a new Orange Goblin record? Nothing, that’s what. With killer songs like “Acid Trial,” “The Fog,” “The Filthy and the Few” and blistering leadoff single “Red Tide Rising,” A Eulogy for the Damned (review here) was the first highlight of 2012 and a fitting summation of much of what’s always been awesome about the band, who’ve become godfathers of the British heavy underground. The production on the album is cleaner than the band comes off live, but the energy in the tracks is undeniable, and it’s with that that Orange Goblin justify the five-year wait since 2007′s Healing through Fire last tore the heavy rock scene a new arsehole. They might be real rock ‘n’ roll’s best kept secret at this point, and their seventh album sends the damned out with a fitting tribute from some of their own kind.

4. Conan, Monnos

Try though I may — and I should probably say here that I haven’t tried — I still can’t get the riff to “Grim Tormentor” from Conan‘s Monnos (review here) out of my head. The album, which was the follow-up to 2011′s split with Slomatics and 2010′s mighty Horseback Battle Hammer debut, found the British trio bringing their songwriting up to a level to match Jon Davis‘ monstrous guitar tone, furthering their dual vocal approach between Davis and bassist Phil Coumbe while upping the pace somewhat on the album’s first half lend fleetness to the stomp in Paul O’Neil‘s drums. Monnos‘ second half was more ethereal, slower, swampier, with the morose “Golden Axe” paving the way for “Headless Hunter” and “Invincible Throne” to level everything in their path with atmosphere as dense as their musical weight. Easily the heaviest album I’ve heard so far this year.

3. Greenleaf, Nest of Vipers

Whenever I do these lists, I hit a point where on a given day they’re all number one. Sometimes it’s just between two albums. In 2010, it was six. This list, so far into 2012, it’s three, and Swedish heavy rock supergroup Greenleaf‘s Nest of Vipers (review here) is the first of them. I’ve been stoked on this record since before I heard it, and while that probably doesn’t do much to argue for my impartiality on the matter, I also don’t give a crap, because Greenleaf fucking rules. I’ll have an interview in the weeks to come with guitarist Tommi Holappa (also ex-Dozer) about the band, and once again, this is definitely one that is going to reappear on the top 20 come December. Not a doubt in my mind. I wasn’t sure the band would be able to live up to 2007′s landmark Agents of Ahriman, but the more I listen to Nest of Vipers, the clearer it becomes that they did precisely that.

2. Ancestors, In Dreams and Time
Brilliantly melodic, rife with complexity of emotion and execution, Los Angeles-based Ancestors‘ third album, In Dreams and Time, was the full-length answer to last year’s blissfully melancholic Invisible White EP. Finding the band mature, progressive and worshiping the song rather than the form, they transcended genre as easily as they embarked on it, crafting a wash of melody in Moog, synth, organ, guitar and vocals alike in their richest arrangements yet, culminating in what’s probably the single best extended guitar solo I’ve heard in the last five years on 19-minute closer “First Light,” a song that’s got so many ups and downs contained within its runtime that it’s practically an album unto itself. A gorgeous record and one that has enriched my excitement for Ancestors as they continue to throw creativity in the face of expectation and not look back either on what they’ve done before or what others think they should be doing.

1. Saint Vitus, Lillie: F-65

I’m more than happy to confess that part of my enduring affection for Lillie: F-65 comes from the fact that it’s Saint Vitus‘ first album in 17 years. If you want to tell me which part of that isn’t a totally valid reason to make it number one on this list, I’ll listen. It might not change my mind about the album, which arrives following three successfully reunited years touring and doing shows together. Led as ever by the stripped-down songwriting of guitarist Dave Chandler (interview here), Saint Vitus perfectly reinvigorated their most classic methods on Lillie: F-65 (review here) without sounding like they were wearing a suit that didn’t fit. The Tony Reed-produced album was the first to be fronted by Scott “Wino” Weinrich since 1990′s V, and proved that the chemistry between he and Chandler is a huge part of what has made the band legendary in American doom these last several decades. Together with bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez, Chandler and Wino issued the greatest of 2012′s doom triumphs so far, and in a mere fucked-up, feedback-soaked 33 minutes silenced every reunion naysayer with ears to hear their distant scream. Saint Fucking Vitus.

Wouldn’t be a list without a fair bit of honorable mentions. First to Snail, whose Terminus will probably end up on the year-end list when the time for that arrives, and also to C.O.C., High on Fire, Les Discrets, Wino & Conny Ochs and Electric Moon. Been a pretty good year so far. Here’s to the next six months of it.

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Witch Mountain, Cauldron of the Wild: Shelter Before the Fever

Posted in Reviews on June 22nd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you have any doubt that cred-heavy Portland doomers Witch Mountain put a ton of thought into what they do, just look at the title of their third album, Cauldron of the Wild. Their first for Profound Lore following a CD issue of last year’s excellent South of Salem, the album’s pun-tacular name encapsulates the two sides of the band’s moniker perfectly – “cauldron” for “witch” and “the wild” for “mountain.” That kind of symmetry can be found in the foursome’s sound as well on the vinyl-ready 45-minute album, which balances blues and doom to varying measures and is comprised of six Billy Anderson-produced tracks. The songs themselves aren’t immediately memorable – that is, they’re not cloying at catchiness; the music is more patient than that – but after two or three listens, they begin to stay with you, over time proving more and more indispensable. South of Salem had a similar effect on repeat visits, and naturally with so little time passed and Anderson’s production in common, there are going to be a lot of similarities between the two albums, but Cauldron of the Wild is fuller in Rob Wrong’s guitar tone, more assured rhythmically, and powerful vocalist Uta Plotkin sounds more comfortable and more confident in her performance. Where on songs like “Plastic Cage” from the previous release, she followed the riff and matched her meter to bassist David Hoopaugh – since replaced by Neal Munson – and drummer Nathan Carson (interview here), here even more straightforward tracks like “Beekeeper” and “Veil of the Forgotten” find her veering some in cadence and setting her own course of melody. That level of development serves to underscore Plotkin’s remarkable talent vocally. She sounds trained, if she isn’t, and even though both of those songs (the two shortest on Cauldron of the Wild at 5:30 and 5:29, respectively) feature a kind of gurgling growl to offset her bluesier melodic approach – similar to that of “End Game” from the last album – that doesn’t take away at all from the force of her delivery, which I almost can’t help but compare to fellow Pacific Northwesters Heart.

Likewise, effectively arranged layering on mid-album highlight “Shelter” makes that song a standout on the tracklist, but it’s important to note that even more so than on South of Salem, the focus of Cauldron of the Wild isn’t solely the vocals. Wrong injects smoking “blink and you’ll miss ‘em” leads into opener “The Ballad of Lanky Rae,” emphasizing the song’s bluesy stomp – righteously punctuated by Carson’s hi-hat/snare and rumbled along by Munson’s bass – and his lumbering riff sets the tone for the varying balance of doom and blues that endures on the rest of the tracks as Plotkin fittingly toys with the tradition of blues balladry in the song’s lyrics. The tale of a girl who goes in search of her demon father and finds him raising hell in Hell is fairly emblematic of how Witch Mountain approaches blues in general, mining tropes and skillfully blending them with elements out of ye olde metal to create a brew almost entirely their own. “Beekeeper” retains some of that bluesiness, but is fuller in the guitar – Wrong even throws in a pinch-harmonic squeal or two – and Plotkin’s approach when she’s not growling the chorus is grander and decidedly more metal. Munson proves to adaptable to either side of the band, and for his first record with Witch Mountain, he fits remarkably well into the fold of Cauldron of the Wild, mostly following but not necessarily limited to Wrong’s guitar lines. He stands out more on the quieter, airier and more soulful parts, making each note of the weighted-down chorus of “Shelter” count double for its spareness. The layering Plotkin works into her vocals has already been mentioned, but it’s worth noting again that both in the earlier choruses and the faster second half of the song she’s reaching toward epic with markedly dangerous intent.

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Live Review: Witch Mountain, Lord Dying, Pilgrim and Bezoar in Brooklyn, 06.08.12

Posted in Reviews on June 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

It was kind of a weird plan, but because I was going to be driving to meet The Patient Mrs. in Connecticut after the show, and because I was going to the show right from work, I wound up bringing my dog and leaving her in the car while I went and saw Witch Mountain, Lord Dying, Pilgrim and Bezoar at the Saint Vitus bar in Brooklyn. I kind of felt like a bad dog owner, but I’d just bought her a new bed, I left her a full bowl of cold water, rolled the windows partway down and I’d waited until the sun was down so she wouldn’t be hot in the car. She slept the whole time, and I made periodic between-band visits to take her for walks around the block. Turned out to not be a problem.

Better, by waiting for the sun to go down so as to not bake my dog, I avoided the trap of arriving way too early as I had for the Pallbearer and Loss show a few weeks back and got there just as Bezoar were taking the stage. Everybody wins! The opening act and local to Brooklyn, they were celebrating the release of their full-length debut, Wyt Deth, and played the album through front to back, drummer Justin Sherrell picking up and putting down an acoustic guitar to play up the menacing dark folk aspect of their otherwise noisy and doomed approach. Like a lot of the psychedelic doom making its way out these days, there was some level of influence from Electric Wizard‘s latter-day output, but Bezoar had more going on than riffs and horror-movie lyricism.

Vocalist/bassist Sara Villard rested comfortably in her middle range, and both she and guitarist Tyler Villard were quick to lapse into washes of beastly noise and feedback, Sherrell following suit with adept fills and tom runs. They didn’t leave a landmark impression, being somewhat reserved on stage apart from Sherrell, but the music was solid and the performance effective nonetheless. Brooklyn’s scene continues to grow, and if Bezoar are going to join the ranks of quality acts from that hyper-gentrified corner of the world — there’s a list of them at this point, which I’ll spare — I’ll offer no contradiction. As I hadn’t yet heard Wyt Deth, they made a decent first impression.

A quick pop back to the car to check on the dog and I was back well in time for the start of Pilgrim‘s set. A bigger band who’ve had success in Brooklyn in the past, though they’re younger, they probably could’ve demanded a better spot on the bill than they got if they felt like being jerks — I’d figured the Providence natives for either closing out the night or playing between Lord Dying and Witch Mountain — but it’s to their credit that Lord Dying had the more preferable slot, being a part of the tour that made the show happen in the first place. They were palpably a stronger live act than the last time I saw them (see above link), and in particular, guitarist Jon “The Wizard” Rossi seemed more comfortable on stage and showed more personality behind his thoroughly downtrodden and doomed vocal delivery.

I think a lot of the excitement about Pilgrim — aside from their debut, Misery Wizard, having been issued through Alan Averill of Primordial‘s Metal Blade imprint — comes from the band’s potential to carry traditional doom forward into a new, post-millennial generation, invariably bringing some new sensibility to the style. How that’s going to work out in the longer term, I haven’t the foggiest, but Pilgrim at this point are a good, young, heavy band, and I’m not going to take that away from them just because there’s hype around their record. They still have growing to do, but again, it’s been about three months since the last time I saw them (I’ll see them again as they headline SHoD over Labor Day weekend), and there was already marked improvement, so they’re growing fast. Hard not to root for an act like that, which I guess is at least part of where that hype comes from.

Lord Dying were easily the most metal band of the night and a fitting complement to Witch Mountain in how different they were. A double-guitar four-piece, their set was thrash-informed traditional metal bombast. Riffs factored in heavily, but they weren’t really stoner or doom, just heavy and straightforward and mean sounding. I liked them immediately and didn’t stop liking them as the set played out. They’d sold out their CDs, or I would’ve bought one afterwards and rocked it on my way north on I-95. Can’t do that with a 7″. Too bad.

As infectious as their slowed-down thrashing was, though, it hit just as my guilt pangs at having left my poor little dog in the car were approaching critical mass. I left the club momentarily to take the dog for a walk around the block and at least let her move around a little bit, as she’d been in the car at this point for two-plus hours. She was fine — she has always seemed to prefer being left in the car somewhere to being left at home, when it comes down to one or the other — but still, with another two-hour drive after the show, it seemed only fair to leave Lord Dying to their ass-kicking for a bit and let the dog pee. She seemed to appreciate it, even if she did almost get in a brawl with a much-bigger bulldog mix coming down the block the other way. She’s a countrified dog. No class in the big city.

When I got back inside, Lord Dying were done and Witch Mountain were getting set up. I didn’t have the courage to introduce myself to guitarist Rob Wrong, whose concise opinions once provided the central critical voice of StonerRock.com, but his red rocker pants and matching guitar — with a green plate to play up the holiday spirit — were a suitable extension of the personality I’ve always admired in his writing. As Witch Mountain got set up, new bassist Neal Munson seemed to have some technical problems, but by the time the set started, everything was worked out. Wrong led the doomly charge with waves of riffs — he’d turned down the opportunity to run his cabinets through the P.A., saying it was unnecessary, he’d be plenty loud anyway — as bluesy and trained-sounding vocalist Uta Plotkin proved the performance on last year’s South of Salem was no fluke. If anything, she sounded better live than in the studio, and as powerful as she was on the record, that’s saying something.

Being so very, very behind on reviews, I hadn’t yet really had the appropriate chance to dig into the new and third Witch Mountain album, Cauldron of the Wild — also their Profound Lore debut — but “Beekeeper” was an early set highlight and drummer Nate Carson (a founder of the band along with Wrong and also of Nanotear Booking) crashed through lumbering pacing that gave Plotkin more than enough room to soar vocally, which indeed, she did. Despite my lacking familiarity with the material, though, Witch Mountain were engaging and came off as tight as a band should be who’ve already been on tour the better part of a week, cracking a smile at a flub here and there but pressing on with the song all the same. They were heavier tonally in person, and it’s not often I’d refer to a band’s melodicism as “sick,” but seriously, these were some sick melodies.

It got to be past midnight and I knew I’d be on the road until around 2AM, so I made my way out and back to the car, where I fired up the directional robutt and followed its satellite course on more highway interchanges than I credited Brooklyn with having before finally stumbling on I-95 and defying the navigational system by taking it, knowing it was ultimately where I wanted to end up anyhow. Sure enough, I arrived at the Connecticut shoreline to find The Patient Mrs. already asleep, which the little dog soon would be as well. I stayed up a while longer to key down and finally called it a night going on three, promising myself I’d sleep late while knowing it wasn’t true.

Extra pics after the jump.

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Buried Treasure and the Mountains Underground

Posted in Buried Treasure on March 14th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

There’s always something special about a basement record store, so I was only too glad to descend the flight of stairs leading to Boston’s Armageddon Shop during my recent trip there to see Black Pyramid, Gozu and Infernal Overdrive at Radio in Somerville. I’d been to the Providence location before, and found it much to my liking, so the Boston one seemed an obvious choice to pass some time before the show.

From what I understand, it’s relatively new, and it looks it. The walls, but for a large cork bulletin board overflowing with flyers, were painted bright white — very neo-black metal — and the floor was clean and unscuffed, kind of emphasizing a minimalist look. It wasn’t cramped, as a lot of record stores are, and the entire right side of the store and most of the left as well was devoted to well-spaced bins of vinyl. A shelf directly across from the entrance had some tapes on it, so I went there first.

It doesn’t appear in the picture above, but that’s only because I’ve been so unwilling to remove it from my car since I made the purchase. For $3.99, I got a cassette of C.O.C.‘s Wiseblood, and of all the money I spent that night, that was hands-down some of the best. CDs took up a whole section of the back wall (there were some dollar boxes as well that I glanced through) with the discs positioned sideways so you had to crane your head even as you bent down to look at the bottom rows.

Turned out to be worth the effort. I bought The Body‘s Anthology, because hey, it’s New England, and Paracletus, by Deathspell Omega, because I figured I’d want it eventually and I might as well spend the money there rather than give it to Amazon or whoever. There was a cheapy copy of last year’s Aphotic by Novembers Doom, and I’ll probably never listen to it, but I got that anyway, just to have it, and a used version of The Late Great Planet Earth by Mos Generator that I figured (rightly) would do my rockin’ soul some good.

The finds of the trip, though, were an original CD issue of Parliament‘s Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome — which fucking rules — and the first Witch Mountain record, Come the Mountain. I’m sure I could find all kinds of reissues of Funkentelechy if I wanted to, but it was cool to hear a first-run pressing (cooler still because it too was $3.99) and Cordell Mosson‘s bass and Bernie Worrell‘s keys make the whole thing. And the Witch Mountain I just figured I’d missed the boat on and would never find, what with it being released over a decade ago, the label Rage of Achilles being defunct and the band being on the other side of the country.

I guess you never know what you’ll find, which is probably the reason I keep going to these places even as they seemingly all start to phase out CDs in favor of vinyl. General compulsion you could consider as a secondary factor, but either way, I was glad I had the chance to hit up this Armageddon Shop, because like the other one in Providence, it was a cause definitely worth supporting. Check out their website here.

 

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Witch Mountain Interview with Nate Carson: To Build a Mountain Takes a Long, Long Time

Posted in Features on June 16th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Sometimes all is not as it seems. To wit, Portland doomers Witch Mountain‘s second album, South of Salem. Released on the band’s own Mountastic Records imprint, it followed a full decade after their debut, …Come the Mountain, and genuinely seemed like a restart for the group. But as drummer Nate Carson informs, that’s not really the case. Witch Mountain had been playing shows almost all along, and it was with the addition of vocalist Uta Plotkin to their lineup and the accumulation of funds that they decided once again to enter the studio.

If finding Plotkin was a factor in their finally being able to put South of Salem to tape, it was well worth the wait. Her vocals are both powerful and melodic, adding depth to the songs and playing off the riffs of guitarist Rob Wrong in classic fashion, earning near-ubiquitous comparisons to Heart along the way. Given Witch Mountain‘s embrace of doom’s founding principles — i.e., thou shalt riff — that’s maybe not inaccurate, but let there be no question that what Plotkin brings to South of Salem belongs to Witch Mountain alone.

The album, which was recorded by the venerable Billy Anderson, offers no posturing, no bullshit. Plotkin‘s vocals soar above Wrong‘s chugging riffage, underscored by a heady foundation of groove affected by Carson and bassist Dave Hoopaugh. Right from the beginning of opener “Wing of the Lord” and down through cuts like the growling “End Game” and the 12-minute sprawl of “Hare’s Stare,” South of Salem keeps to a natural, live feel that makes the performances captured that much more striking. Listening, as much ass as Plotkin kicks throughout, I keep going back to Wrong‘s layered solos toward the end of “Hare’s Stare.” Pure Iommic bliss.

I posted South of Salem a while back as an audio stream, and it’s available here if you didn’t get the chance to hear it. In our email exchange, Carson — who also helms Nanotear Booking — discussed making the album, the process of bringing Plotkin into the band, Witch Mountain‘s touring plans, and was kind enough even to turn the keyboard over to Wrong when it came to explaining how their new vocalist has changed the songwriting methodology. For anyone living in the Northwest, Carson also confirmed he’ll be doing another installment of the Fall into Darkness festival (prior years have included the likes of Earthless and Ludicra), although he was tight-lipped when it came to saying who might be in the lineup.

Full Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.

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audiObelisk: Stream Witch Mountain’s South of Salem Now

Posted in audiObelisk on May 25th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

The first time you listen to South of Salem, by Portland, Oregon, four-piece Witch Mountain, everything seems to start of straightforward enough. There’s some noise, some feedback, a few beeps of this or that. Then the riff starts and you maybe say to yourself, “Alright, I can get down with this.” The production’s organic and live-sounding, the groove is cool, and before you know it, you’re pretty much ready to roll with whatever “Wing of the Lord” brings.

The real “holy shit” moment comes when vocalist Uta Plotkin kicks into the song about a minute in, and from there, South of Salem‘s course is set. From the soulful wailing of “Plastic Cage” to the (surprising) growls in “End Game,” Plotkin is all over these riffs like the sky over the ground. Front to back across this record, she kills it — and it’s not that the trio behind her of guitarist Rob Wrong, bassist David Hoopaugh and drummer Nathan Carson is lackluster — just that her performance is that staggering.

Witch Mountain have the record posted and for sale over at their Bandcamp site, but I was fortunate enough to get permission to host South of Salem for streaming on this site, so you bet your ass I’m doing it. Hope you dig:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

South of Salem by Witch Mountain was released April 9, was produced and engineered by Billy Anderson at Smegma Studio in January 2010, and mastered by Mell Dettmer. More info on Witch Mountain is at their Facebook page.

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