Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
No strangers to spending time on the road at this point, Year of the Cobra are set to make their first trip abroad. The occasion is an appearance set for March 4 at Hell Over Hammaburg, but they’ll be doing headlining gigs starting March 1 in Lille, France, with other shows in Germany as they continue to support their 2016 STB Records debut album, …In the Shadows Below (review here), as well as the limited single you can see above, originally put out by H42 Records and sold through last year, but the final copies of which the Seattle duo will have with them for the shows.
Upon their return, Year of the Cobra will take part March 11 in this year’s Ceremony of Sludge in Portland (info here), and they were also recently confirmed for adding a Pink Floyd cover to the impending Magnetic Eye Records tribute, The Wall [Redux], for which a crowdfunding campaign is on now (info here).
To top it all off, the band gives the hint below that they’ll be back in Europe this fall for a more complete tour. I would be downright amazed if that didn’t include one or more of the autumn festivals — Desertfest Belgium or Athens, Keep it Low, etc. — but that’s speculation on my part for now and we’ll have to see what comes together over the next few months. Seems fair to expect Year of the Cobra to have more US activity in the works as well, so keep an eye out.
Here’s the latest info:
This is YOTC’s first European tour and we’re heading over to play Hell Over Hammaburg Festival in Hamburg, Germany. We’re playing a handful of headlining dates around the festival in Germany and France.
H42 Records released a limited edition 7″, specifically for Hell Over Hammaburg and our tour – which sold out online within hours. We’ll have a small number of these for sale at our shows, they are the only copies available.
We’re planning on heading back to Europe in the fall for a full European tour.
Year of the Cobra on tour: March 1 Lille FR March 2 Essen DE March 3 Berlin DE March 4 Hamburg DE – Hell Over Hammaburg March 5 Freiburg DE
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Well I mean, yes, clearly. I’m not even a Pink Floyd fan and it still makes almost too much sense to have a slew of heavy bands come together to honor their classic 2LP The Wall. Even setting aside whatever political commentary you might want to make, I just mean on a pure audio level, it’s one of those records that, even if you’re not into it, just about every band who ever walked the face of the earth either is or is influenced by another band who is, so yeah, pretty inescapable. And after the Jimi Hendrix tribute, Electric Ladyland [Redux] (review here), and taking on Helmet‘s genre-defining noise rock classic, Meantime, The Wall more than earns a spot in the pantheon of tributes the label is building.
But of course it would be nothing without the bands involved. So far, Magnetic Eye has announced Solace, Mos Generator, Worshipper, Summoner, Year of the Cobra and The Slim Kings will take part in The Wall [Redux], and given the tracklisting there are many more to come. Room for just about everybody in a record so expansive.
For our latest REDUX release, we re-imagine THE WALL from end to end… a project that couldn’t be more timely or challenging!
Magnetic Eye Records continues our REDUX release series, in which we choose an iconic album and invite an assortment of fantastic bands to re-imagine and cover its songs from end to end. Our first was ELECTRIC LADYLAND [REDUX], with bands like Earthless, All Them Witches, Mothership, Summoner, Wo Fat and Elephant Tree paying heed to the godfather of guitar gods, Jimi Hendrix.. This first installment in our REDUX series ruled. We worked with artists and illustrators such as Caitlin Hackett, Dale Sarok and David Paul Seymour who all contributed visual art to the project.
Our second REDUX release unleashed MEANTIME [REDUX], with Ken Mode, Meek is Murder, Fuck the Facts, Rosetta and other modern heavies taking on the Helmet hardcore classic. Jesse Schaller provided the layout design and cover art for Meantime [Redux] and the packaging alone was pretty amazing.
For our 3rd installment we are taking on one of the most ambitious projects we could imagine, Pink Floyd’s The Wall in full. The Wall is a 26 track album with a runtime of 121 minutes, making this our largest project to date. As this kickstarter campaign continues, we will release further details on bands and contributing artists and the members of our project team. We certainly cannot do this alone and need your full support!
We have already publicly announced that we have partnered again with David Paul Seymour, and he will be providing the cover art and layout for the project. Some of you may be aware that Magnetic Eye Records has worked with David many times on album art and label merchandise, and we are very involved with David and Tim Granda on their upcoming animated film, “The Planet of Doom.” You can visit their successfully funded Kickstarter campaign for the film at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theplanetofdoom/the-planet-of-doom-an-animated-tale-of-metal-and-a
We are going all in on this project, and the team that’s being assembled to create it are right men and women, artists and bands, to make it our most incredible release to date.
Check back over the next few weeks as we make new band announcements and begin to fill in this iconic tracklist with artists we know you’ll be stoked to see involved:
1. In the Flesh? 2. The Thin Ice 3. Another Brick in the Wall (Part I) 4. The Happiest Days of Our Lives 5. Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) 6. Mother Side Two
1. Goodbye Blue Sky 2. Empty Spaces 3. Young Lust 4. One of My Turns 5. Don’t Leave Me Now 6. Another Brick in the Wall (Part III) 7. Goodbye Cruel World Side Three
1. Hey You 2. Is There Anybody Out There? 3. Nobody Home 4. Vera 5. Bring the Boys Back Home 6. Comfortably Numb Side Four
1. The Show Must Go On 2. In the Flesh 3. Run Like Hell 4. Waiting for the Worms 5. Stop 6. The Trail 7. Outside the Wall
Confirmed Bands (Song Selections Will Roll Out Shortly As Well):
#1 SOLACE – Incredibly excited to have our longtime friends from Jersey kicking things off by getting on board. You may remember Solace’s unforgettable albums “Further,” “13” and “A.D.” – and if you do, you know they are going to decimate their version of a Pink Floyd original. What a way to begin!
#2 WORSHIPPER (TeePee Records) – Damn! These guys rule. In case you’ve not had the opportunity to hear this great band before now, you can stream their debut album Shadow Hymns in full below, and start getting excited about what they’ll bring to this undertaking!
#3 SUMMONER – It may not come as a surprise, but with Summoner being one of the pillars upon which Magnetic Eye was built, you know there was no way this project was coming together without their majestic psych-metal glory. Oh, and did we mention they have a new album coming in the first half of 2017 as well?
#4 MOS GENERATOR – Prolific, forward-thinking, quasi-legendary… you can say many things about Tony Reed’s endlessly boundary-pushing outfit, but the main thing to say right now is that what they’ll do with a Pink Floyd classic is something we can’t wait to hear. Cheers to Tony and co. for their enthusiasm to jump on board!
#5 THE SLIM KINGS – Growing up next door to Liberty DeVitto gave Magnetic Eye’s founder many things, including a firsthand look at the career and talent of a true music industry lifer. After numerous decades drumming for the likes of Billy Joel, Karen Carpenter, Stevie Nicks, and Rick Wakeman, DeVitto’s current outfit The Slim Kings steps to the plate to show what monster musicianship and unparalleled experience can bring to a Pink Floyd classic.
#6 YEAR OF THE COBRA – Since their inception two years ago, this Seattle-based TWO-PIECE has been on the rise, making converts and fielding festival invitations around the world, especially following the release of their Billy Anderson-produced 2016 debut full-length. We can only guess how their stripped-down power will translate to Pink Floyd’s carefully-layered arrangements… but we’re excited to hear the result!
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
It’s been my pleasure to write about the Portland-based festival Ceremony of Sludge in various ways over the years, from posting lineup news as you see below to videos afterwards, to basically just being entranced by Portland’s commitment to supporting its own underground, wishing I could be there, blah blah blah. Lots of the latter, of course. This year’s lineup, for Ceremony of Sludge VI, feels even more special. Witch Mountain are arguably the biggest band to have played the fest, and they’ll headline a no-filler five-band single-night bill with veterans Disenchanter, a Lamprey reunion (!), newcomer doomers Troll, who released their self-titled debut back in October and are waiting to be picked up by this or that label in three, two, one, and Seattle duo Year of the Cobra.
Though they’re playing in the middle of the lineup, I mention Year of the Cobra last to highlight the fact that the two-piece showcase Ceremony of Sludge VI reaching outside the confines of Portland itself, something I can’t say definitively off the top of my head it’s never done before, but which is certainly rarer than not — one of five, in this case. Add to that the fact that the show is a benefit for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in Portland, and fuck yes, it’s worth supporting. If you happen to live in that corner of the world, attendance is absolutely a no-brainer.
Ceremony of Sludge VI Comes to High Water Mark, Portland
CEREMONY OF SLUDGE VI: Benefit For Planned Parenthood and ACLU Of Oregon MARCH 11th at High Water Mark | Portland, OR $10 – $20 sliding scale
Portland Heavy Seen, Cravedog,Inc. and Soundcontrol PDX present Ceremony of Sludge VI, to be held March 11th at High Water Mark in Portland, Oregon. This year the annual heavy-music fest is donating 100% of proceeds to local branches of Planned Parenthood and The ACLU of Oregon. The show is 21+ and $10 – $20 (sliding scale) at the door.
Ceremony of Sludge VI lineup:
March 11th Witch Mountain Disenchanter Year Of The Cobra Lamprey Troll
Limited edition show posters by Sarah Crosley and merch provided by Cravedog, Inc. will be available for purchase, with all proceeds going into the donation fund.
Consider this your usual disclaimer that, like any of this site’s coverage of year-end whatnottery, this podcast is by no means attempting to capture all of 2016’s best tracks. It is, however, over four hours long, and frankly that seems like enough to ask. If you decide to take it on and sample what I found to be some of the best material to come down the line over the last 12 months, please know you have my thanks in advance. For what it’s worth, it was a lot of fun to put together, and that’s not always the case with these.
But about the length. I’ve done double-sized year-end specials for a while now. It’s always just seemed a fair way to go. And the last few at least have been posted the week of the Xmas holiday as well, which for me is of dual significance since it just so happens four hours is right about what it takes to drive from where I live to where my family lives, so when I look at this massive slew of 34 acts, from the riff-led righteousness of Wo Fat and Curse the Son to the crush of Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and SubRosa to the psychedelic reaches of Zun and Øresund Space Collective (who probably show up in podcasts more than anyone, oddly enough), I also think of going to see my family, which has become my favorite part of the holidays.
Whatever associations you might draw with it, I very much hope you enjoy listening. Thanks for taking the time.
Track details follow:
0:00:00 Wo Fat, “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind” from Midnight Cometh
0:09:35 Greenleaf, “Howl” from Rise Above the Meadow
0:14:57 Elephant Tree, “Aphotic Blues” from Elephant Tree
0:20:49 Brant Bjork, “The Gree Heen” from Tao of the Devil
0:26:27 Sergio Ch., “El Herrero” from Aurora
0:29:44 Child, “Blue Side of the Collar” from Blueside
0:35:31 Geezer, “Bi-Polar Vortex” from Geezer
0:43:59 Zun, “Come Through the Water” from Burial Sunrise
0:49:27 Baby Woodrose, “Mind Control Machine” from Freedom
0:54:11 Curse the Son, “Hull Crush Depth” from Isolator
0:59:31 Borracho, “Shot down, Banged up, Fade Away” from Atacama
1:05:50 Scissorfight, “Nature’s Cruelest Mistake” from Chaos County
1:09:19 Truckfighters, “The Contract” from V
1:16:30 Spidergawd, “El Corazon del Sol” from III
1:21:24 Fatso Jetson, “Royal Family” from Idle Hands
1:26:13 Worshipper, “Step Behind” from Shadow Hymns
1:30:57 Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, “Y Proffwyd Dwyll” from Y Proffwyd Dwyll
1:39:42 Druglord, “Regret to Dismember” from Deepest Regrets
1:46:34 Moon Coven, “New Season” from Moon Coven
1:52:03 Gozu, “Tin Chicken” from Revival
1:59:49 Year of the Cobra, “Vision of Three” from …In the Shadows Below
2:06:53 The Munsens, “Abbey Rose” from Abbey Rose
2:14:56 Lamp of the Universe, “Mu” from Hidden Knowledge
2:21:26 1000mods, “On a Stone” from Repeated Exposure To…
2:26:45 Church of the Cosmic Skull, “Watch it Grow” from Is Satan Real?
2:30:43 Vokonis, “Acid Pilgrim” from Olde One Ascending
2:37:35 Slomatics, “Electric Breath” from Future Echo Returns
2:43:02 Droids Attack, “Sci-Fi or Die” from Sci-Fi or Die
2:47:20 King Buffalo, “Drinking from the River Rising” from Orion
2:56:51 Comet Control, “Artificial Light” from Center of the Maze
3:06:37 Øresund Space Collective, “Above the Corner” from Visions Of…
3:22:51 Naxatras, “Garden of the Senses” from II
3:33:14 SubRosa, “Black Majesty” from For this We Fought the Battle of Ages
3:48:23 Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell, “Escape Through the Rift” from Tranquonauts
Posted in Features on December 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.
Of all the lists I do to wrap up or start any given year, this is the hardest. As someone obviously more concerned with first impressions than I am and thus probably better-dressed once said, you only get one chance at them. For bands, that can be a vicious bite in the ass on multiple levels.
To wit, you put out a great debut, fine, but there’s a whole segment of your listeners who’re bound to think you’ll never live up to it again. You put out a meh debut, you sell yourself short. Or maybe your debut is awesome but doesn’t really represent where you want to be as a band, so it’s a really good first impression, but a mistaken one. There are so many things that can go wrong or go right with any LP, but with debuts, the stakes are that much higher because it’s the only time you’ll get the chance to engage your audience for the first time. That matters.
And when it comes to putting together a list of the best debuts of the year, how does one begin to judge? True, some of these acts have done EPs and singles and splits and things like that before, and that’s at least something to go on, but can one really be expected to measure an act’s potential based on a single collection of songs? Is that fair to anyone involved? Or on the other side, is it even possible to take a debut entirely on its own merits, without any consideration for where it might lead the band in question going forward? I know that’s not something I’ve ever been able to do, certainly. Or particularly interested in doing. I like context.
Still, one presses on. I guess the point is that, like picking any kind of prospects, some will pan out and some won’t. I’ve done this for enough years now that I’ve seen groups flame or fade out while others have risen to new heights with each subsequent release. It’s always a mix. But at the same time, it’s important to step back and say that, as of today, this is where it’s at.
And so it is:
The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016
1. King Buffalo, Orion
2. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree
3. Heavy Temple, Chassit
4. Holy Grove, Holy Grove
5. Worshipper, Shadow Hymns
6. Vokonis, Olde One Ascending
7. Wretch, Wretch
8. Year of the Cobra, In the Shadows Below
9. BigPig, Grande Puerco
10. Fuzz Evil, Fuzz Evil
11. Bright Curse, Before the Shore
12. Conclave, Sins of the Elders
13. Pale Grey Lore, Pale Grey Lore
14. High Fighter, Scars and Crosses
15. Spirit Adrift, Chained to Oblivion
16. Bellringer, Jettison
17. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Is Satan Real?
18. Merchant, Suzerain
19. Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae
20. King Dead, Woe and Judgment
There are many. First, the self-titled from Pooty Owldom, which had so much weirdo charm it made my head want to explode. And Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun‘s acoustic solo record was technically a debut. And Atala‘s record. And Horehound. And Mother Mooch. And Domkraft. And Spaceslug. And Graves at Sea? Shit. More than a decade after their demo, they finally put out a debut album. And Second Grave‘s full-length would turn out to be their swansong, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the thing. There were a lot of records to consider in putting this list together. As always, it could’ve been a much longer list.
For example, here are 20 more: Swan Valley Heights, Arctic, Blues Funeral, Teacher, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Nonsun, Duel, Banquet, Floodlore, Mindkult‘s EP, Mountain Dust, Red Lama, Red Wizard, Limestone Whale, Dunbarrow, Comacozer, Sinister Haze, Pants Exploder, Akasava, Katla and No Man’s Valley. That’s not even the end of it. I could go on.
It was a fight to the finish. There’s always one, and as late as yesterday I could be found kicking back and forth between King Buffalo and Elephant Tree in the top spot. What was it that finally put King Buffalo‘s Orion over Elephant Tree‘s self-titled? I don’t know. Ask me tomorrow and the answer might be completely different.
They had a lot in common. Not necessarily in terms of style — King Buffalo basked in spacious Americana-infused heavy psych jams while Elephant Tree proffered more earthbound riffing and melodies — but each executed memorable songs across its span in a way that would be unfair to ask of a debut. The potential for what both bands can turn into down the line played a part in the picks, but something else they share between them is that the quality of the work they’re doing now warrants the top spots. Orion and Elephant Tree were great albums, not just great first albums.
From there, we see a wide swath of next-generation encouragement for the future of heavy rock, whether it’s coming from Sweden’s Vokonis or Philadelphia’s Heavy Temple, or London’s Bright Curse, or Los Angeles duo BigPig. The latter act’s punkish fuzz definitely benefited from guitarist/vocalist Dino von Lalli‘s experience playing in Fatso Jetson, but one hopes that as the years go on his own multifaceted songwriting style will continue to grow as well.
A few offerings weren’t necessarily unexpected but still lived up to the anticipation. High Fighter‘s EP prefaced their aggro sludgecore well. Ditto that for the grueling death-sludge of Massachusetts natives Conclave. The aforementioned Bright Curse, Merchant, Fuzz Evil, Atala, Bellringer, Holy Grove, Wretch and Worshipper all had offerings of one sort or another prior to their full-length debuts — in the case of Bellringer, it was just a series of videos, while Wretch had the entire The Gates of Slumber catalog to fall back on — but each of those albums offered surprises nonetheless.
It would’ve been hard not to be taken by the songwriting on display from the likes of Holy Grove, Year of the Cobra, Pale Grey Lore and Beastmaker, who between them covered a pretty broad variety of atmosphere but found ways to deliver high-quality crafted material in that. Those albums were a pleasure to hear. Put Boston’s Worshipper in that category as well, though they were just as much a standout from the pack in terms of their performance as what they were performing. Speaking of performance, the lush melodies from Church of the Cosmic Skull and classic progressive flourish were enough to make me a believer. Simply gorgeous. And one-man outfit Spirit Adrift shined, if in that matte-black doom kind of way, on an encouraging collection of modern melancholic heavy that seemed to hint at sprawl to come.
As we get down to the bottom of the list we find Pennsylvania ambient heavy post-rockers King Dead. Their Woe and Judgment was released digitally last year (2015) but the LP came out earlier this year, so I wasn’t quite sure where to place them ultimately. I know they got some mention on the 2015 lists somewhere, but while they’re an act who’ve flown under a lot of people’s radar as yet, I have good feelings about how they might continue to dig into their sound and the balance of bleakness and psychedelic color they bring to their material. They’re slated for a follow-up in 2017, so this won’t be the last list on which they appear in the next few weeks.
Like I said at the outset, putting out a debut album is a special moment for any band. Not everyone gets to that point and not everyone gets beyond it, so while a list like this is inherently bound to have some element of speculation, it’s still a worthy endeavor to celebrate the accomplishments of those who hit that crucial moment in their creative development. Hopefully these acts continue to grow, flourish, and build on what they’ve thus far been able to realize sonically. That’s the ideal.
And before I go, once again, let me reinforce the notion that I recognize this is just a fraction of the whole. I’d like it to be the start of a conversation. If there was a debut album that kicked your ass this year and you don’t see it here, please drop a note in the comments below. I’m sure I’ll be adding more honorable mentions and whatnot over the next couple days, so if you see glaring omissions, let’s have ’em.
Seattle duo Year of the Cobra released their debut full-length, …In the Shadows Below (review here), precisely one month ago today via STB Records. It’s a record that benefits both from scope and force as the bass/drum outfit of Amy Tung Barrysmith and Jon Barrysmith put to engaging use both the rawness that a two-piece construction can offer and a corresponding melodic breadth that, while nascent as one might expect in a debut, already marks significant progression from Year of the Cobra‘s 2015 first EP, The Black Sun (review here). Emphasis on both can be heard, as well as seen, in their new video for “Persephone” from the album.
Filmed earlier in November at The Funhouse in Seattle by Dead Cowboy Productions, it’s essentially a performance video with the studio verson of the track layered over, but to go with all that slow motion and black and white whathaveyou, one finds the fervent groove of “Persephone” itself. The leadoff for side B of the …In the Shadows Below vinyl, the song named for the goddess of the underworld and springtime is fittingly vibrant in its thrust, with Amy and Jon locking in shifts between righteous punkishness and dense nod, which can also be seen manifest in the audience in front of them that night, significant in their number, consumption and engagement.
Year of the Cobra were out earlier this year alongside Mos Generator, with whom they also released a split, and have been kicking around the Pacific Northwest with them as well for a couple post-Thanksgiving shows this past weekend. The two bands will head into California and back next week ahead of Year of the Cobra announcing more dates for 2017, which would seem to be impending.
In the meantime, my understanding is STB‘s numbers are low on the Die Hard and Obi-strip vinyl editions of …In the Shadows Below, so if it’s something you’ve been hemming and hawing on, that might be worth taking into consideration.
En route to one of those shows this weekend, Amy Tung Barrysmith was kind enough to offer some comment on the track and their intent behind it. That and current live dates follow the clip below.
Year of the Cobra, “Persephone” official video
Amy Tung Barrysmith on “Persephone”:
Persephone is one of my favorite songs to play. We wrote it about two weeks before we went in to record our full-length and had a ton of fun playing around with the idea of doing something that touches on our hardcore background, but then settles into a killer riff. This video was recorded at our record release show on Nov. 12, 2016.
Live footage was on 11/12/2016 at the Funhouse in Seattle, WA. Filmed and edited by Tyler Wilson and Dead Cowboy Productions. “Persephone” is a track featured on “…In the Shadows Below” which is available now on STB Records.
Year of the Cobra live: 12/2 – Seattle, WA. @ The Tractor – 99.9 KISW Presents 12/7 – Eugene, OR. @ Old Nick’s Pub w/ Red Cloud and Aerial Ruin 12/8 – Sacramento, CA. @ The Starlite Lounge w/ Mos Generator 12/9 – Arcata, CA. @ The Alibi w/ Mos Generator 12/10 – Medford, OR. @ Johnny B’s w/ Mos Generator 12/11 – Tacoma, WA. @ The Valley w/ Mos Generator and Ancient Warlocks
Posted in Reviews on November 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
It’s the kind of debut that makes it easy to forget it’s a debut. Seattle duo Year of the Cobra‘s …In the Shadows Below arrives via a cross-coastal alliance with New Jersey’s STB Records as the follow-up to an earlier 2016 split with Mos Generator coincidental to a tour together supporting their prior three-song EP, The Black Sun (review here), which garnered fervent praise almost immediately upon its release in the middle of 2015. Year of the Cobra have done nothing but gain momentum since. Both Devil’s Child Records and DHU Records had a hand in putting out the EP, and I’m pretty sure STB had signed on for the full-length even before bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith and drummer Jon Barrysmith hit the studio with Billy Anderson (uh, he’s Billy Fucking Anderson) behind the board to engineer and mix.
Turned out to be the right call on the label’s part, and an easier one to consider affirmed with the EP showing such cohesion of approach between Amy and Jon and their clear demonstration of a willingness to get out and take their brand of heavy door to door, venue to venue. Fortunately, the eight-track/43-minute …In the Shadows Below builds so decisively on the first offering’s accomplishments. Reusing only one song — “White Wizard,” which opened the EP and appears in a pivotal spot here on side B — Year of the Cobra stamp their feet hard in heavy rolling terrain, proffering post-Acid King nod that revels in its guitar-less heft, the resulting focus on low-end leaving all the more space for Amy‘s voice to carry the tracks melodically, which she does ably regardless of the cacophony surrounding.
There are only two people in the band — hence “duo,” “two-piece,” etc. — but …In the Shadows Below is nothing if not well populated. Song titles list characters human, mystic and animal beginning with opener “Lion and the Unicorn,” and continuing as a theme through “Vision of Three” (about three witches), “Spider and the Fly,” “Persephone,” “White Wizard,” “Temple of Apollo” and closer “Electric Warrior,” who would seem to also be depicted on the cover art. Only second track “The Siege” would comes through as about the action of a narrative rather than the character perspective inherent to it, and those lyrics, presented over one of the record’s speedier and hookiest gallops, take on a first-person point of view, Amy‘s breathy echoes warning, “They’re coming for us.”
Front to back, this has the effect of drawing together the material under a theme, though I’ll admit that with the molasses consistency in Amy‘s tone and the bounce-prone drumming style from Jon, Year of the Cobra could probably go from “The Siege” to a song about the tv show Diff’rent Strokes and make it work. They are bolstered by Anderson‘s production, the now-Pacific Northwest-based producer having previously worked with the likes of Sleep and Acid King (among many others, of course), but find an identity through surging volume in “The Siege” and grueling, spacious nod in “Vision of Three” that only sets them up to further distinguish themselves from their influences as time goes on, also working as a deceptive lead-in for a burst of faster-paced cuts that begins with “Spider and the Fly” closing out side A and continues into “Persephone,” “White Wizard” and “Temple of Apollo” on side B.
The latter, penultimate track is perhaps the fastest of the bunch and the most straightforward, taking in a classic pop-rock sensibility as Year of the Cobra reimagine Blondie as a sludge artist without sacrificing the irresistible choruses thereof. Thinking of the band’s potential, which is writ large across the record’s entirety, to have elements of songwriting like that — which go beyond even the major-key positivity of Torche in their unabashed friendliness — can only make them a richer sonic experience. They would not be the first to take on a sludge-pop blend — see the aforementioned Torche, and Floor before them — but the get-your-ass-on-that-rowing-machine sense of drive behind “Temple of Apollo” is palpable and striking.
Even more so with “Electric Warrior” behind it, returning to a slower nod in a late affirmation of contrast that bookends …In the Shadows Below with layered-in wah, far-back vocals and swells of volume as Amy and Jon move through the chorus, only to recede again in the verse. By the time they move toward the final push with some more Mars Red Sky-style low-end wah, they’ve built a significant wall of volume around them, but the crashing finish and residual amp hum that close out still only seem like the beginning of their story. In that way, maybe it is easy to keep in mind that …In the Shadows Below is Year of the Cobra‘s first album, since so much of hearing leads one toward imagining how they might continue to grow as they move forward. I won’t speculate as to where that growth might take them — at least not in writing — but it’s encouraging just how underway the process of getting there already seems to be, and the care and craft behind these songs put …In the Shadows Below among 2016’s finer debuts.
Washington heavy rock trio Mos Generator and duo Year of the Cobra recently got together to record songs on a 4-track tape for an upcoming split single, with Mos Generator‘s Tony “The Restless” Reed at the helm. The news today is that this split, which will be out on Ripple Music and H42 Records, will coincide with a US tour beginning in June that also leads Mos Generator closer to the release of their new album, Abyssinia, on Listenable Records in July. I’d expect this to be just the first round of what will probably be a several-legged run to support Abyssinia. Ever since Mos Generator took to the road following 2014’s Electric Mountain Majesty (review here) with a revamped lineup, they have basically never looked back.
Year of the Cobra‘s debut long-player is set to arrive later this year as well. Not sure if it’ll be out by the time of this tour — STB was handling the release, last I heard — but they’re sure to be heralding its coming one way or another. Their 2015 EP, The Black Sun (review here), can be streamed below.
Tour dates and the recently-unveiled art for Abyssinia follow, as seen on the social medias:
“Been waiting to announce this for a while… Year of the Cobra and Mos Generator have a split 7″ record coming out on Ripple Music and H42 Records. Both bands will tour the U.S. together this summer to support it. Check the poster for dates! Also, both bands will be playing separately on the dates not listed – check our websites for more info on that. Looking forward seeing and meeting some new friends this summer.”
Mos Generator have unveiled the cover artwork of their new full-length album, ‘Abyssinia’, scheduled for a July release.
Tony Reed comments”These new songs show major change and growth for the band, I wanted the cover to represent that as well. I knew it was going to be collage art style and in searching for an image that moved me I came across this untitled piece. Abyssinia is slang for “I’ll be seeing you”. Sometimes my brain feels like the image on the cover.”
Here are the complete dates for the Mos Generator U.S. tour. More Regional (northwest) dates and European dates for MG coming soon.
6/16 Portland OR – 6/17 Missoula MT – The Palace* 6/18 Salt Lake City UT – (Crucialfest) 6/19 Denver CO – Hi-Dive 6/20 Lincoln NE – Bourbon Theater 6/21 Sioux Falls – Bigs Bar* 6/22 St Paul MN – Agharta records (7pm in-store) Big Vs (night show)* 6/23 Indianapolis IN – State st pub* 6/24 Chicago IL – Reggie’s 6/25 Columbis OH – Ace of Cups 6/26 Frederick MD (Maryland Doom Fest) Cafe 611 6/27 Raleigh NC – Slim’s* 6/28 6/29 Little Rock AR – Vito’s* 6/30 Tulsa OK – Holy Mountain Records(7pm in-store) Downtown Lounge (evening show)* 7/01 Fort Worth TX – The Grotto* 7/02 Austin TX – The Lost Well* 7/03 OFF 7/04 Albuquerque NM – Launchpad* 7/05 Flagstaff AZ* – Greenroom* 7/06 Las Vegas NV – Dive bar* 7/07 Boise ID – Neurolux* 7/08 Seattle WA – The Substation* 7/09 Vancouver BC – SBC* * w/ Year of the Cobra