Giveaway: Enter to Win a 3-Day Pass to Northwest Hesh Fest 2016!

Posted in Features on September 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win.]

Sorry, but the lineup here pretty much sells itself. Over three nights, Sept. 22-24, at Dante’s in Portland, Oregon, Northwest Hesh Fest 2016 will host:

Night 1:
Red Fang
American Sharks
Witch Mountain

Night 2:
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats

Night 3:
The Blood Royale

If you enter now by leaving a comment on this post, you can win a three-day pass to see all of the above and get a limited, signed screenprint of the poster shown here, of which only 100 are being made. Obviously, you need to get your ass to Portland — if I could afford to fly you in, I would, believe me — but barring for anyone in that part of the world who’s maybe been on the fence about going or just hasn’t managed to buy tickets yet, yeah, entering seems like it would be kind of a no-brainer. High “duh” factor and whatnot.

For the headliners alone, never mind the chance to see locals like Witch Mountain, Danava and Diesto tear it up alongside imports from Austin, Texas, like American Sharks, The Blood Royale, Banquet and Greenbeard, essentially pairing two of the country’s strongest scenes — Portland and Austin — and topping it not only with the Pacific Northwest’s number one heavy rock export in Red Fang, but bringing up Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats on their tour with The Shrine, as well as Deafheaven, who seem to divide opinion everywhere they go while consistently drawing a crowd from both sides of the argument.

Killer lineups, killer shows, free pass and free poster. Like I said, it sells itself. One winner picked a week from today. Thanks to all who enter and to American Icon for letting me host the giveaway.

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win.]

Northwest Hesh Fest on Thee Facebooks

Northwest Hesh Fest 2016 tickets at Eventbrite

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Northwest Hesh Fest 2016 Announces Lineup with Red Fang, Uncle Acid and Deafheaven Headlining

Posted in The Obelisk Presents, Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Last year, The Obelisk was proud to be among the presenters for the Northwest Hesh Fest, and it looks like Northwest Hesh Fest 2016 — set for Sept. 22-24 at Dante’s in Portland, Oregon — will be no different. I’ll have a ticket giveaway closer to the event, so keep an eye out for that, and the festival has just unveiled the lineup for each night, and it brings some formidable names.

Headliners are Red FangUncle Acid and the Deadbeats, and Deafheaven, which I think would probably be enough on their own to draw a three-night crowd, but they’re joined by American Sharks, native Portlanders Witch MountainDiesto and Danava, as well as The Blood RoyaleBanquet and Greenbeard.

American SharksGreenbeard and The Blood Royale hail from Austin, Texas, which makes sense as a complement to the Portland acts since American Icon, which puts together the festival, is based there as well. Of the non-headliner acts, that’s as far east as Northwest Hesh Fest 2016 looks, but in bringing aboard UK garage doom forerunners Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, it extends its reach internationally for the first time. That’s a hell of an opening salvo to the rest of the world.

More to come as we get closer to September and the fest itself, but American Icon announced the lineup today and tickets are now on sale both for the individual nights — for which you can see the complete lineup breakdown below — and for a combined three-night pass. I won’t tell you what to do with your time, but this looks like an awful lot of fun:


Sept 22-24 @ Dantes in Portland Oregon
American Sharks-Witch Mountain-Danava
The Blood Royale-Diesto-Banquet-Greenbeard

Red Fang, American Sharks, Witch Mountain

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Danava

Deafheaven, The Blood Royale, Greenbeard, Diesto, Banquet

Northwest Hesh Fest Three-Day Pass

Northwest Hesh Fest event page

Northwest Hesh Fest on Thee Facebooks

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Saint Vitus, The Skull and Witch Mountain Announce US Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

This is one of those tour-to-end-all-tours tours. Beginning in Austin on Sept. 27, including a stop Oct. 14 at Erosion Fest and culminating Oct. 23 at Southwest Terror Fest, the newly-announced tour with Saint VitusThe Skull and Witch Mountain also covers both coasts in nearly its month-long stretch. I’ll admit the prospect of seeing these three bands together at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn has my arm hair standing on end, remembering the Vitus-at-Vitus gig from 2012 (review here) as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, at that venue or anywhere else. It’ll be a different lineup of the band this time, with original vocalist Scott Reagers back in that position as the Die Healing-referential poster art indicates, but they’re keeping excellent company in The Skull and Witch Mountain as well, so kudos all around, including to Nanotear, which put the package together.

Witch Mountain have a couple dates as well en route to meeting up with the others. Find the complete routing, including those shows, below:

saint vitus the skull witch mountain tour

SAINT VITUS tour dates
Sept. 27 Austin, TX @ Midway Field House
Sept. 28 Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Dallas
Sept. 29 San Antonio, TX @ The Mix
Sept. 30 Shreveport, LA @ Riverside Warehouse
Oct. 1 New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jack’s Saloon
Oct. 2 Atlanta, GA @ The EARL
Oct. 3 Raleigh, NC @ Kings
Oct. 5 Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
Oct. 6 Boston, MA @ @Middle East
Oct. 7 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar
Oct. 8 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
Oct. 9 Indianapolis, IN @ 5th Quarter Lounge
Oct. 10 Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s Bar
Oct. 11 Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
Oct. 12 St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
Oct. 14 Missoula, MT @ Erosion Festival
Oct. 15 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
Oct. 16 Portland, OR @ Star Theater Portland
Oct. 18 Sacramento, CA @ Starlite Lounge
Oct. 19 Oakland, CA @ Oakland Metro Operahouse
Oct. 20 Costa Mesa, CA @ Wayfarer.
Oct. 21 Los Angeles, CA @ The Viper Room
Oct. 22 San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick
Oct. 23 Tucson, AZ @ Southwest Terror Fest

Witch Mountain shows on the way to meet up with Saint Vitus + The Skull:
9/22 Portland, OR – Dante’s (WM only)
9/23 Boise, ID – Neurolux (WM only)
9/24 Salt Lake City, UT – Metro (WM only)
9/25 Denver, CO – Hi-Dive (WM only)

Saint Vitus, “Born too Late” Live at Hellfest 2015

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The Skull and Witch Mountain Announce European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Have to chuckle a bit at The Skull calling a tour ‘November of Doom,’ when they’re from Chicago and that same city is host to Novembers Doom, but hey, sometimes coincidences happen. On their latest run of Europe, which follows two earlier this Spring, including one that stopped for a total of three sets at Roadburn 2016, they’ll be joined by Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain. As coordination would have it, the two bands share a guitarist in Rob Wrong at this point, so though he’ll be pulling double-duty, the pairing makes an awful lot of sense. The Skull, who are continuing to support their 2014 debut, For Those Which are Asleep (review here), as well as a self-titled follow-up EP (review here), features vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner, guitarist Lothar Keller and drummer Sean Saley, in addition to Rob Wrong.

To my recollection, this is the first time Witch Mountain will be headed to Europe since acquiring vocalist Kayla Dixon. They toured North America last Spring alongside Enslaved and YOB and are about due for a follow-up to 2014’s Mobile of Angels (review here), their gorgeous and fraught fourth full-length.

Both bands also play Erosion Festival 2016 (info here) in Missoula, Montana, this October.

From the PR wire:

the skull witch mountain

THE SKULL featuring former Trouble members including vocalist Eric Wagner and bassist Ron Holzner are returning to Europe in November 2016!

The Skull & Witch Mountain:
11/04 Bristol, UK Exchange
11/05 Milton Keynes, UK Crauford Arms
11/06 London, UK Underworld
11/07 Tilburg, NL Little Devil
11/08 Utrecht, NL DBS
11/09 Karlsruhe, DE Jubez
11/10 Vienna, AT Doom Over Vienna
11/11 Arnstadt, DE Rockjunfer
11/12 TBA
11/13 Drachten, NL Iduna
11/14 Wiesbaden, DE Schlachthof
11/15 Kassel, DE Schlachthof
11/16 Hamburg, DE Hafenklang
11/17 Dortmund, DE Piano
11/18 Würzburg, DE Hammer Of Doom
11/19 Winterthur, CH Gaswerk

The Skull, Live at Roadburn 2016

Witch Mountain, Live at King’s Barcade, Raleigh, NC, March 26, 2015

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Erosion Festival 2016: Acid King, Saint Vitus, The Skull and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Working out of a home-base in Missoula, Montana, Erosion Festival 2016 has announced a formidable lineup bringing together bands from the West Coast and the Midwest and beyond, including headliners Saint Vitus, Acid King and The Skull, for a two-night stint at Stage 112. Familiar names from the Pacific Northwest include Mos Generator, Witch Mountain, Mammoth Salmon, Teepee Creeper, Mother Crone and Disenchanter, and they’re joined by Thorr Axe, Chron Goblin, Stone Elk, Wizzerd, American Falcon, and others for a heavy weekend surrounded by mountains and Montana’s open sprawl. I wonder if it snows in Missoula in October.

There’s more info to come from the fest in terms of who’s playing when, how much tickets are, how to buy them, when to buy them, and so on, but the lineup is the news here and the lineup is more than solid. If you’re wondering, Missoula does have an international airport. Not that I’ve looked or anything, but flights seem to be pretty cheap.

From the festival:


We are very excited to finally announce our entire 2016 Erosion Festival line-up! It’s an honor to have these awesome bands on board for 2016, please welcome SAINT VITUS, THE SKULL, ACID KING, and WITCH MOUNTAIN!

Erosion will be held in Missoula, MT on Friday October 14th and Saturday October 15th @ Stage 112. 18 bands total for 2 nights of heavy music and great times we hope to see you there!

We will have ticket information soon, our facebook event page, and the official Erosion Fest 2016 poster, with all the information you’ll need.

Thank You all for supporting us and we’ll see you in October!

Erosion Festival lineup:
Saint Vitus
The Skull
Acid King
Witch Mountain
Mos Generator
Thorr Axe
Mammoth Salmon
Mother Crone
Chron Goblin
Teepee Creeper
Swamp Ritual
Stone Elk
American Falcon
The Old Ones
Piranha Dog

Acid King, “Teen Dusthead”

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Hoverfest 2015 Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Can’t say it’s much of a surprise, but the lineup for Hoverfest 2015 looks pretty awesome. The second installment of the annual fest brought together by Hovercraft Amps, Cravedog and Nanotear is set for an all-dayer Aug. 8 in Portland, Oregon, and like last year, the lineup of acts is made up mostly of locals — there are a few to choose from in Portland these days — and to go with all that hometown spirit, they’ll bring in San Francisco kings of weirdo trad metal Slough Feg to headline.

Slough Feg will sit atop a mighty Portlander grouping, varied between the doomly ways of Witch Mountain, who make a return appearance, a return as well for the ’70s heavy of Danava, Lord Dying‘s don’t-tell-anybody-it’s-death-metal-because-we-like-playing-with-stoner-bands genrebending, Sons of Huns on the heels of their new album, While Sleeping Stay Awake, a second showing from Holy Grove, and first-timers Zirakzigil and Mane of the Cur to lead things off. Sounds like a good time to me.

Last year, Billy Anderson was brought on to work the mixer, and whether or not he’ll make another appearance has yet to be revealed, but the preliminaries are out. With presumably more to come, here they are:

hoverfest 2015

Cravedog Presents HOVERFEST 2015

Cravedog, Hovercraft Amps, and Nanotear Booking have teamed up to bring the second annual HOVERFEST on Saturday 8.8.15 in Portland, OR

The rocks starts at noon and rolls til sundown. Once again set in the alley behind Cravedog with the gorgeous sunset view of the Fremont Bridge. 611 N. Tillamook Street

This year will be 21+ so the whole alley is a beer garden.

Rock, metal, and doom all day long from:


Tickets go on sale Friday 6.19 at 10am PST.

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Live Review: Enslaved, YOB, Ecstatic Vision and Witch Mountain in NYC, 03.21.15

Posted in Reviews on March 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

enslaved 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Driving the four-plus hours from Massachusetts to NYC to see Enslaved, YOB, Witch Mountain and Ecstatic Vision on Saturday wasn’t the practical choice, but it was the only choice. True, three of the four would be much, much closer to me this week, but to catch them in a bigger room and with Witch Mountain wasn’t an opportunity I wanted to miss. I left much earlier than I needed to, leaving as little as humanly possible to chance in terms of sitting in traffic, stressing out, etc. Turned out to be one of the easier rides south that I’ve had.

A positive omen? Maybe. I had time to hit Academy Records before the the show, which was a rare pleasure, and plenty of opportunity to catch my breath before doors to Gramercy Theatre opened. Last time I was there was for PentagramKings DestroyBang and Blood Ceremony, and as ambivalent as I was at being back in Manhattan itself, it would prove to be a night surrounded by old friends, laughs and good vibes. More than anything, that made trip worthwhile.

But there was a show on as well, and a killer one at that. An early start for a packed night had Witch Mountain on at 7:30, and here’s how it went from there:

Witch Mountain

witch mountain 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

A couple new faces in Portland’s scene-preceding four-piece, Witch Mountain. Very new, as it happened. As in, this was their second show. Led by founding guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nate Carson, the band had played Pittsburgh the evening prior, and that was the first gig with newcomer vocalist Kayla Dixon and bassist Justin Brown (also of Lamprey). Night two of the band’s Mk. III lineup was a short set, but they made the most of it and showcased the potential for continued growth. Dixon had a distinctly metallic presence as frontwoman, and the entire band, Brown included, seemed to relish the opportunity to have a bigger stage on which to unfurl their doom. Again, their time was brief, but “Psycho Animundi” from last year’s Mobile of Angels (review here) more than ably demonstrated Dixon‘s vocal range, while “Veil of the Forgotten” and particularly the end of “Shelter” from 2012’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) thrust into an almost power metal presentation, already edging up to the boundaries of a shifting personality for the band. Especially for it being night two, it was an encouraging sight. I’d expect over time Witch Mountain will loosen up further in presence as they continue to tighten sonically, but I felt fortunate to see that process at its beginning.

Ecstatic Vision

ecstatic vision 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Of the four bands on the bill, I wondered most about how Ecstatic Vision‘s sound would translate to the spaciousness of Gramercy Theatre. The Philly three-piece would hardly be the first act in history to play space rock in a high-ceiling room, but for their being a newer band despite the experience of guitarist/vocalist Doug Sabolik and drummer Jordan Crouse in A Life Once Lost, it was a point of curiosity. Some of Sabolik‘s flourish, the chimes on his mic stand and melodica, weren’t as prevalent as they had been when I saw the band open for YOB at the Saint Vitus Bar in December (review here), but they did well all the same, and bassist Michael Connor‘s tone came through the house clear and warm in kind. Their custom lighting, the rope lights around the drums, strobe, and so on, left Connor more or less out of the equation, and that seemed to create some imbalance on stage, but unless you happened to be the black metal purists positioned in front of me as I watched Estatic Vision space out on encompassing, fluid psychedelic jams, there was little to argue with as they warmed up and settled into their engaging vibe. They still don’t have much recorded but are expected to make a debut sometime later this year on Relapse. Still worth keeping an eye on.


yob 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Would YOB do “Marrow” in that room? Yes, they would. Three of the four cuts from last year’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here) — also my pick for the best album of 2014 — were aired, with opening duo “In Our Blood” and the scorching “Nothing to Win” leading to the aforementioned 19-minute record-closer, which was followed in turn by the title-track of their 2011 sixth album, Atma (review here), the Eugene, Oregon, three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster crisp in their delivery but not at all dead-eyed in the here’s-another-show way one might expect after their having spent the better part of the last three weeks on the road. The run with Enslaved ends this week, but YOB will continue to tour their way back west before returning in May to the East Coast for Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore. In New York, their response showed a considerable crossover response from the clearly-there-for-Enslaved contingent, particularly as the culmination of “Marrow” hit and they followed it by the gallop-laden “Atma,” which seemed all the more furious in comparison. I’ve seen YOB at least five times in the last 12 months and have yet to come out of a set without any regrets. Foster‘s snare was loud in the house mix, but so was everything else, so, you know, it kind of worked itself out. Every accolade YOB gets, they earn. I know they did that European stint last year with Pallbearer, and that was a month-plus on the road, but it’s still a change to think of YOB as a touring band after their years of keeping shows limited. While I wonder what the rest of 2015 will hold for them, I also couldn’t help but notice how sustainable and decidedly un-worn they looked on stage, like they could just keep going. I doubt they’d have met any complaints if they had.


Enslaved (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Last time I saw Enslaved in New York was early 2013. They played the Bowery Ballroom (review here), which is a not-insignificant space in itself, but not as sizable as the Gramercy, and I think it says something about the long-running Norwegian outfit’s growing US fanbase that their return to Manhattan would be in a larger venue. They’re supporting the release of their 13th full-length, In Times (review forthcoming) on Nuclear Blast, but new material or old, they had the room on their side from the word go. Bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson joked with the crowd between songs, and by the time they got down to playing the title-track from In Times laughingly promised the crowd that it would be the last new song they played. For what it’s worth, I didn’t notice much of a change in reception for recent or older material. Sure, a song like “The Watcher” from 2008’s Vertebrae, with its mega-chorus, or a by-now staple like “Ruun” from the 2006 LP of the same name is bound to get a response, but “Thurisaz Dreaming” and “Building with Fire” sat well alongside those and “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” from 2012’s RIITIIR (review here), and wherever the band headed, the crowd went along. Of course, their stage presentation was air-tight, Kjellson holding down a frontman role flanked on either side by guitarists Ivar Bjørnson and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal, while keyboardist/vocalist Herbrand Larsen made a case for up-front featuring of his own with stellar command of the clean-sung parts — I saw Enslaved for the first time eight years ago at SXSW, and I’d mark Larsen‘s growth as a vocalist among the foremost catalysts enabling their musical progression in that time; that growth was, I’ll note, already underway for several years by then — and drummer Cato Bekkevold sat swallowed up by his expansive kit surrounding. They came out one at a time to start their set and for the encore, and each time Bekkevold sat down, he disappeared. Good for a laugh, but he also used that whole drumset, and flawlessly. Their encore was “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth” from 2003’s Below the Lights, “Fenris” from 1994’s sophomore outing, Frost, and the title-cut from 2004’s landmark Isa, and when it was over, there was nothing left for the audience to do but leave, having so thoroughly been handed its ass on a platter by the five-piece, whose reach seems only to continue growing with time.

If you want the short version, the show was a win, but what made it even better was seeing old friends throughout the night and catching up, and that was something that continued even as security started shuffling people out of the downstairs lounge. On my way back north on Sunday, it was the memories of good times and good music that seemed to make the trip shorter, both thoroughly appreciated.

Speaking of old friends, this review is dedicated to Loana dP Valencia of Nuclear Blast, alongside whom it has been my complete and utter pleasure to work for the last decade.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

Read more »

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Witch Mountain Welcome New Vocalist Kayla Dixon and Bassist Justin Brown

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

witch mountain

Several days ago, Portland, Oregon, doomers Witch Mountain posted the above image on their Facebook page as a way of teasing the fact that they are once again a complete four-piece. Today, the parties joining with founding guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nathan Carson have been officially announced as vocalist Kayla Dixon and bassist Justin Brown.

Formerly based in Ohio, Dixon comes to Witch Mountain via Cleveland metallers Demons Within. She steps into the vocalist role in place of Uta Plotkin, who over the course of Witch Mountain‘s three post-reactivationkayla dixon full-lengths on Profound Lore, 2011’s South of Salem (review here), 2012’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and last year’s Mobile of Angels (review here), became one of doom’s most recognizable voices, with a soulful, bluesy inflection that has already left an influential stamp on the genre. When Plotkin announced her departure from the band prior to their tour in Sept. with Nick Turner’s Hawkwind, it was a shock but only made the lyrics to Mobile of Angels tracks like “Can’t Settle,” “Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn)” and “The Shape Turth Takes” even more visceral.

In an interview here last fall, Carson speculated that it could be years before the right voice was found to fill the position. That the band was aware and mindful of the task before them serves as further endorsement of Dixon‘s ability and the potential for their continued progress as a group with her on board. Bassist Justin Brown enters the lineup having spent the last several years in the two-bass/no-guitar trio Lamprey, from whom a follow-up long-player to 2012’s The Burden of Beasts EP (review here) is expected witch mountainsometime this year, its coming heralded by a recent video for the track “Iron Awake” that was featured here.

Witch Mountain are slated to take part in an upcoming Black Sabbath tribute that will also feature Kylesa and Wo Fat, among others, though at this time it’s not clear when their contribution was recorded or who was involved. They have toured extensively in support of each of their three records since returning from a decade’s hiatus, and the first road test of the new lineup will be a run of shows alongside YOB following that outfit’s stint with Enslaved in March. With congratulations to Brown and Dixon on landing what can only be considered as enviable as a gig playing doom can get by playing in Witch Mountain, the tour dates follow here:

YOB + Witch Mountain
3/21 New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre w/ Enslaved, YOB, Ecstatic Vision
3/22 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer w/ Enslaved, YOB, Ecstatic Vision
3/25 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
3/26 Raleigh, NC @ King’s Barcade
3/27 Johnson City, TN @ The Hideaway
3/28 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
3/29 Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
3/30 New Orleans, LA @ Siberia
3/31 Houston, TX @ Walter’s
4/01 Austin, TX @ Red 7
4/03 Albuquerque, NM @ Launch Pad
4/04 Tucson, AZ @ The Flycatcher
4/05 Los Angeles, CA @ Los Globos
4/07 San Francisco, CA @ Golden Bull
4/08 Sacramento, CA @ Press Club
4/10 Seattle, WA @ Victory
4/11 Portland, OR @ Star Theater

Witch Mountain on Thee Facebooks
Witch Mountain on Twitter
Profound Lore Records

Witch Mountain, Mobile of Angels (2014)

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