Friday Full-Length: Clutch, Strange Cousins from the West

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Clutch, Strange Cousins from the West (2009)

It’s been 10 years since Clutch released Strange Cousins from the West (also discussed here), which for a few reasons represents a pivotal moment in their catalog, despite being what some might consider a “lesser” Clutch album compared to some of their other genre-defining work. Their ninth studio full-length, it was the second release through their own Weathermaker Music imprint after their 2008 Full Fathom Five live record and DVD, and it followed a stint on DRT Entertainment that resulted in arguably the most successful three-album stretch of the Maryland outfit’s career to-date, bringing forth 2004’s Blast Tyrant, 2005’s Robot Hive/Exodus and 2007’s From Beale Street to Oblivion (reissues reviewed here) making for a groove triumvirate that found the band successfully and increasingly dipping into blues influences and incorporating them with their well established funk-infused heavy rock and roll, rooted in punk and even at that point already long since distinctly their own.

They were touring hard at this point as well. They’ve never been shy, but the beginning of the Weathermaker era meant Clutch were all-in in terms of the band being their livelihood as well as their passion, so along with the aforementioned Full Fathom Five and 2010’s Live at the 9:30 (review here) live offerings, that meant they were on the road even more. At the same time, the makeup of the band itself was undergoing a rare change. It was something of a surprise when organist Mick Schauer joined the core four-piece of bassist Dan Maines, drummer Jean Paul Gaster, guitarist Tim Sult and vocalist/guitarist Neil Fallon, as the band had never shown much interest in fleshing out arrangements beyond the occasional flourish of percussion or whatever else, but the massive and enduring success of Robot Hive/Exodus and From Beale Street to Oblivion both on tour and in the spread of the songs — seems like “Electric Worry” still shows up in random places over a decade later — is testament to the reception Clutch‘s bluesier stylistic turn and the collaboration with Schauer, shortlived though it was on the grander scale of the band’s almost-30-year career.

Schauer passed away earlier this year, with the awkward timing of being roughly concurrent to Clutch releasing a re-recorded version of “Electric Worry” without keys as a single for their Weathermaker Vault series. He was out of the band by the time they set to putting together Strange Cousins from the West, and though momentum was on Clutch‘s side, there are times on the album where his absence is felt, even as Fallon stepped up the amount of time he was playing guitar and the sound went to arguably its bluesiest degree. Make no mistake, the songs are there. Opener “Motherless Child” puts them in immediate blues communication, and “Struck Down” follows suit while transitioning into the pure-Clutch mega-hook that is “50,000 Unstoppable Watts” — which even a decade later continues to duke it out with the later “Let a Poor Man Be” for the catchiest song on the record in my mind — to round out an initial salvo that plays to the band’s strengths without outright repeating what they’ve done in the past. “Abraham Lincoln” takes a moodier turn, bringing in some more subdued Americana and Southern heavy, and is perhaps the first point at which Schauer seems to be missing, as some of the spaces and crescendos have room for where the organ might’ve been just a couple years earlier. Though the subsequent “Minotaur” is funkier and more uptempo and would certainly host keys as well if they’d been there to be hosted, the mid-album pair of “The Amazing Kreskin” and “Witchdoctor” represent to my mind the place where Clutch‘s transitional state is most apparent.

It’s not that there’s something wrong with clutch strange cousins from the westeither song, structurally or in execution, but in “The Amazing Kreskin,” as Sult‘s guitar noodles through the verse atop Maines‘ always-crucial/always-reliable foundation of bass, one can almost hear how Schauer might’ve played off of it in complementing and filling out the sound, and all the more so in the jam and build in the track’s second half. “Witchdoctor,” no slouch either in the hook department, goes a step further and weaves a line of sustained guitar throughout different parts, actually filling that open space as the keys otherwise would. As a fan of the band, I have a hard time critiquing Clutch — I love seeing them live and though when Strange Cousins From the West came out I thought it didn’t necessarily have the same vibrancy as Robot Hive/Exodus, which was also produced by J. Robbins, I think this record holds up 10 years after the fact — but as much as every Clutch record is different from the one before it, sometimes in direct response to the one before it, as 2013’s landmark Earth Rocker (review here) would be to Strange Cousins, the change they were dealing with at the time seems to be audible here as they were feeling their way through writing out these blues influences without having the organ, electric piano, and so on, as a part of the process at whatever stage it was.

That said, you’ll never hear me take away from “Let a Poor Man Be” on any level except perhaps gender politics, and “Freakonomics,” the Pappo’s Blues cover “Algo Ha Cambiado” and “Sleestak Lightning” do fine in filling out the end of the album, the first of them undeniably the most memorable — “Only the freaks have all the answers!” — and the Spanish-language push of “Algo Ha Cambiado” a welcome uptempo twist ahead of the finale, on which Gaster breaks out a bit of cowbell but is otherwise somewhat understated. It’s a fair-enough ending to an album that has a deceptively broad dynamic and as-ever-rock-solid-rock songcraft and performance, and it was the point at which Clutch pushed the blues as far as they would on the trajectory they’d followed for the latter half of the aughts. It would be a long stretch for them, four years, before Earth Rocker showed up, and when it did, the reunion with producer Machine essentially reset their course along a more straight-ahead heavy rock path, not forgetting the lessons of Robot Hive, Beale Street or Strange Cousins, but laying claim with renewed vigor to the driving, ultra-grooving rock and roll that made them the absolutely essential band they were and are in the first place.

Of course, their forever-tour continues and their studio work continues. The aforementioned Weathermaker Vault series has resulted in four singles this year, they released Book of Bad Decisions (review here) in 2018 as a follow-up to 2015’s Psychic Warfare (review here), and just this week, they announced that as part of their annual holiday tour, they’ll play three special sets in Washington D.C., New Jersey and Philadelphia comprising a total of 54 songs and, on the latter night — also New Year’s Eve — they’ll also do Blast Tyrant in full for the first and hopefully not last time. Also, they’re calling it ClutchMas, which is adorable. One expects 2020 tour dates to be announced in January, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they had new material in the works they’ll set to hammering out on the road soon enough (if they’re not yet). Train don’t stop.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Another week. The Patient Mrs.’ first semester teaching at William Paterson University ended yesterday — at least classes did — so congratulations to her on making it through what was a pretty rough schedule, and being one chunk closer to reclaiming the tenure she gave up in Massachusetts to move us back to New Jersey earlier this year. Last night, we talked about how we didn’t really miss being up there for the most part. She and I both had friends — her more than me, it should go without saying — but being so far from family and so on was hard. I’ve seen my two NJ-based nephews more in the last eight months than in the six years prior. You can’t replace that kind of time.

I’m exhausted, and it’s going to be a long winter of “WTF do we do with this kid?” since things like freezing temperatures, darkness and snow on the ground preclude hours-at-a-time of being outside. The Pecan is a goer. He goes. He’s taken to “flying,” whereby he basically throws his arms out to his sides and runs in circles around the living room. He wants The Patient Mrs. and I to join in, and we do, because he so clearly, clearly needs that running to keep him even. I feel like I should start investing in ritalin now, but I know damn well that if I had a stockpile going, I’d just end up taking it myself. Which might be fun, come to think of it.

This week… was a week. I’ve been in a deep-dive funk of don’t want to do anything, don’t want to move or leave the house, which is not conducive to the needs of a two year old. He keeps my ass in gear. Otherwise, I think it’d be way more couch time, which, while we’re talking about needs, is probably not conducive to my own. Being people is hard.

But hey, next week is a thing that’s happening. I’ll be putting the finishing touches on my top 30 — by which I mean actually making the list — and it’ll probably take me three days to actually write it, so that takes care of next weekend. This weekend I’m writing a new bio for Geezer and apparently trying to figure out how to get a newsletter going, since when I asked on social media yesterday, the response was pretty positive to the idea. Next week though has a review long overdue for Caustic Casanova and premieres for CB3 and (shhh… don’t tell anyone) Yatra, so it’s gonna be good. I was kind of overwhelmed this week at the responses to the news stories about Wino and Sasquatch. Nice to know people are out there and give a crap about this stuff. I know it’s not my writing drawing anyone to those news stories, it’s the music, but frankly, that’s how it should be.

I hope you’re getting through the holiday season. I hate the holidays. So much. Fuck Xmas. Fuck New Year’s. Fuck the faux ‘meaning’ of it all, the vulgar commerce, the weather, the elf, the shelf, the Jesus and the Santa Claus and the ball dropping and the lights. Even Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” isn’t worth that shit. I’d trade it happily. But I hope you’re coming through it okay, anyhow. It ain’t easy.

That should just about do it for me. It’s time for me to go try and bury my head and listen to music. Like, just for pleasure. There’s a thought. Friday’s usually my chance to do that. Maybe Thursday during nap too if I’m lucky, as I was yesterday. The real test this weekend will be if I can motivate my ass to do any work tomorrow or if I just sink back in bed after the alarm goes off and pile it all on Sunday, thereby wrecking my day entirely, stressing out myself and The Patient Mrs. and, by extension/osmosis, The Pecan, who invariably feeds off the emotions we give him.

Which is why I’m a bad parent. Because I have nothing good to give him.

I could go on, but I think you probably get the gist of how the next couple days are going to play out over here. Great and safe weekend. See you Monday for more good times.

FRM. Forum, Radio, Merch.

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Doomraiser Premiere “Chimera” Video; The Dark Side of Old Europa out Jan. 24

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

doomraiser

Not to give too much away, but the final resolve of The Dark Side of Old Europa — the fifth full-length from Roman five-piece Doomraiser out Jan. 24 on Time to Kill Records — comes amid thudding drums and plodding riffs as “Loathsome Explorer Interpolation” ends on vocalist Nicola Rossi‘s repeated line, “We are all doomed.” That would very much seem to be the underlying — and often not-at-all-underlying — message of The Dark Side of Old Europa‘s plunge through Europe’s dark, violent and plague-addled history, which Doomraiser lead while also taking on the history of doom metal itself, from (of course) Black Sabbath on the intro “Passage” to shades of Celtic Frost that show themselves in the title-track and the later “Häxan” and the closer, theremin-laced dark psych on “Tauroctony (The Secret Cult of Mithras),” elements of Cathedral on “Chimera” and elsewhere, Trouble throughout, and Scott Reagers-era Saint Vitus most especially on the nine-and-a-half-minute highlight “Terminal Dusk” and also the aforementioned finale. Following the intro, “Chimera” opens the The Dark Side of Old Europa like a gateway to the abyss, with a swinging rhythm from bassist Andrea Caminiti and drummer Daniele Amatori, and riffs from Marco Montagna and Giuseppe Nantini to lead the way down into the void.

They talk about themselves as playing “heavy drunken doom” in the bio info, and, okay, fair enough, but if they’ve been downing beers or whatever, they seem to be able to hold their liquor. The songs are coherent in their structure, and offer nuance in drum changes that end up driving doomraiser the dark side of old europarighteousness like the ending lead of “Chimera” or the finish of “Tauroctony (The Secret Cult of Mithras)” to an all the more effective level even as the crunch in “The Dark Side of Old Europa” or the synth-laced instrumental build of the penultimate “Continuum Pt. 1 (Suspended in Darkness)” set a pretty broad range of influence within the sphere of doom. And Doomraiser, rest assured, are doom. They’re practically dooom, they’re so doom. And they know it.

The Dark Side of Old Europa is their first full-length in some five years since 2015’s Reverse (Passagio Inverso), but they’ve been at it steadily since 2003 and very clearly know who they are and what their mission is as a band. Their mission is doom metal, and their songs serve that end. Intoxicated as they may or may not be at any given moment, they remain lucid in that purpose and the eight tracks and 51 minutes of The Dark Side of Old Europa bear that out from front to back on a deceptively engaging linear path that is broader than it first appears. “Passage” and “Chimera,” and even the 6:28 title-track thereafter, are the lead-in salvo for the longer pieces that follow beginning with “Tauroctony (The Secret Cult of Mithras)” (8:30), and the flow of the album is all the more immersive for the crucial setup they provide — evidence of the band’s experience in terms of knowing how to put the listener where they want them to be.

The video premiering below for “Chimera” was directed by Pietro Tamaro and is rife with forest ceremony that according to the band represents human decline. I’m not disposed to argue. Good news for the species seems to be hard to come by these days, but if we’re on our way out, it’s hard to say we didn’t earn what we get. Nonetheless, it’ll probably be 10,000 years at least before the last of us burns, freezes, or plagues our way off the face of the earth, so we might as well doom out in the meantime.

Therefore, please enjoy:

Doomraiser, “Chimera” official video premiere

Doomraiser on “Chimera”

Chimera is a legendary monster from the Greek, Roman and Etruscan mythology, a horrible hybrid with divine origins portrayed with a mixed lion and goat body, and a venomous serpent as tail. The characteristic and surreal shape of the creature, a clear product of fantasy, has become through the years the symbol of illusion, of what is unreal, vain and elusive.

A stratification of meanings and languages that comes directly from an ancient imagery, which probably reflects an attempt of recreating, in the past, the hideous and hybrid forces of nature. Chimera represents a dark concept, based on a bizarre and unsteady basis, caused by its grotesque and shapeless character, and by its “versus nature” aspect, which represents the “non form.”

The song itself speaks of the Chimera as a concept of illusion, the indefinite and the chaotic; it describes the theme of precariousness of human life, as an extremely fragile dimension compared to the vastness of eternity.

The idea of growth and progress in this historical phase are just illusions, Man walks more and more away from Knowledge, has no more awareness, has lost direction, so he tries to exceed Nature itself, but nonetheless everything has its birth and death, beginning and end, Alpha and Omega. Empires have fallen over time, entire populations and cultures are gone forever. The video represents this human decline, the fragility of an ever delicate balance, the materialization of the “fathers of illusions” and “mothers of void.”

“The Dark Side of Old Europa” will be released on January 24th 2020 via Time To Kill Records.

The album was produced by Danilo Silvestri and by the band. Renowned artist Roberto Toderico is responsible for the impressive cover artwork that’s now available along with the album’s tracklist.

“Exploring Europa’s darkest events, we conceived an obscure sound relying on the Doomraiser ‘heavy drunken doom’ trademarks: heavy metal played at a monolithic pace, where fast and slower, gloomy introspective parts often collide. The final result is very ‘live sounding’, every instrument breathes with vicious abandon while building a tight wall of sound. This time around the songs’ length has also been reduced in order to strengthen their impact and intensity”.

Pre-order: https://doomraiser-thedarkside.bandcamp.com/

“The Dark Side of Old Europa” tracklist:

01. Passage
02. Chimera
03. The Dark Side of Old Europa
04. Tauroctony (The Secret Cult of Mithras)
05. Terminal Dusk
06. Haxan
07. Continuum Pt. 1 (Suspended in Darkness)
08. Loathsome Explorer Interpolation

Line-up:
Nicola Rossi – Vocals/Synth
Marco Montagna – Guitars
Giuseppe Nantini – Guitars
Andrea Caminiti – Bass
Daniele Amatori – Drums

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End Boss Post “Feral” Lyric Video; Debut Single Available Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

end boss

You know the end boss, right? Bowser? Ganon? Whatever that thing was in Metroid? Well, say hello to End Boss. Not to be confused with London noisemakers End of Level BossEnd Boss are a newcomer four-piece out of Wellington, New Zealand, who’ve issued their debut single “Feral” ahead of appearing in March at the Obey the Riff Festival with, among others, Uncle Acid and Beastwars, with whom they share drummer Nato HickeyHickey‘s experience locking in grooves behind massive riffs comes in handy in working alongside guitarists Greg Broadmore and Christian Pearce in the as-yet-sans-bass outfit and in command vocally is E.J Thorpe, whose steady low-in-the-mouth delivery adds shades of doom that remind a bit of what Sharie Neyland once brought to The Wounded Kings in terms of echoing sway and ethereal vibe.

The story on which Thorpe bases the lyrics bears that out, it would seem, but it’s important to remember that while the members of the band have end boss feralexperience in other outfits, with Broadmore and Pearce both of Wellington’s Ghidoragh and Hickey in Beastwars, “Feral” is indeed a first single and it’s just under four and a half minutes long, so before one sits and assesses the totality of what End Boss‘ sound will be — develops a “boss strategy,” if you will — maybe there’s some time to see how things shake out from here. It’s an exciting prospect though, as “Feral” brings together a potent combination of hook and nod that resides comfortably between its own catchiness and a languid kind of shuffle groove. I don’t know if they’re pressing a 7″ or anything, but the Syros Pourlatifi cover art would seem to warrant it, if nothing else, and it would at very least give them something for the merch table at the upcoming shows. Hell, I’d take one. Just saying.

The proverbial good start, and here’s looking forward to more. I know things usually calm down in December and there isn’t as much going on around the holidays and whatever else, but killer music happens all the time and if you’re not open to it, it’s your loss. Put your quarter in the machine and dig this one.

And enjoy:

End Boss, “Feral” official lyric video

Feral is the debut recording of Wellington, New Zealand heavy, sludgy, bluesy rock band End Boss. Featuring the vocal talents of E.J Thorpe, the down-tuned twin guitars of Greg Broadmore and Christian Pearce of Wellington via Hamilton punk band Ghidoragh and Nato from Beastwars on drums.

E.J says about the track “The lyrics are loosely based on an experience someone close to me had after they turned down the advances of a rather dark, witchy woman. She threatened them with a curse, which became a particularly terrifying experience as the ride home from her place in the middle of nowhere became a very close call with death. Because the music reminded me of the sound of a motorbike speeding away from something, the lyrics ended up being based on the story.”

With a huge amount of material already written expect an album later next year.

End Boss play Obey the Riff festival at Panhead Brewery in Upper Hutt alongside Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Beastwars, Earth Tongue, Witchskull and Potion on March 7 2020 and support Nebula (USA) at Valhalla on 19th March 2020.

I am feral
and I am free
all that is it comes through me
I’m not the devils daughter
just a wounded will
aching
aching

End Boss is:
E.J Thorpe – Vocals
Greg Broadmore – Guitar
Christian Pearce – Guitar
Nathan Hickey – Drums

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Shadow Witch Unveil “Wolf Among the Sheep” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

shadow witch

It’s a Feb. 13 release date for Shadow Witch‘s awaited new album, Under the Shadow of a Witch, through Argonauta Records. So be it. I’ve seen some pics around thee social medias of blacklight shows the band have been doing of late, and they look fairly insane as one would imagine. A touch of the otherworldly or alternate-reality suits Shadow Witch‘s sound well, as does the video for “Wolf Among the Sheep,” which plays up the religious commentary of the track itself.

You know the really fucked thing about Christianity? They tell that shit to kids. Imagine having a kid and being like, “Yo, you better be good because there’s an all-powerful white dude watching you ALL THE TIME EVEN WHILE YOU SLEEP OR PEE and if you’re bad you’ll be set on fire and also that happens forever and ever.” Think about it. That is insane. And I’m speaking as someone who was one of those kids. No wonder people hate each other.

Anyway, you’ll see the snakes, the grainy footage, the speaking in tongues, and yes, the children taking part, as well as the band integrated among the fray — can’t miss them. For further viewing, go back and watch Jesus Camp again. For further listening, stay tuned and I hope it’s not all that long before another track from Under the Shadow of a Witch surfaces. Maybe in January? Hell, I’ll take it whenever it comes. I’m not looking to interrupt anyone’s holiday dinner or anything. Whenever they get around to it is good by me.

Shadow Witch will be at New England Stoner & Doom Fest and will return to Maryland Doom Fest 2020 as well. Because hell yes they will. More dates are reportedly forthcoming, and I believe it.

Dig:

Shadow Witch, “Wolf Among the Sheep” official video

New York Heavy Doom And Stoner Metal Veterans, SHADOW WITCH, Premiere Brand New Music Video!

Under the Shadow of a Witch coming in February 2020 on Argonauta Records!

Shadow Witch, who inked a worldwide deal with Argonauta Records last year, are a heavy rock/stoner metal band from the Hudson Valley region of New York. Forming in the autumn of 2015, the band released their first full-length album Sun Killer to excellent reviews from the international heavy music community in the summer of 2016. A diverse assemblage of songs pulling in Doom, Thrash, NWOBM, and psychedelic and stoner metal, the band backed it up with intense and explosive live shows, opening for King Buffalo, Mothership, and Corrosion of Conformity among others.

Shadow Witch began a new chapter with the release of their second full-length album Disciples of the Crow in December 2017, again gaining excellent reviews from the heavy music community. Countless explosive shows later, the band returns with their highly anticipated third album, titled Under the Shadow of a Witch, coming out on February 13th via Argonauta Records !

To shorten the wait for its official album release, Shadow Witch have just unleashed a brand new video from their upcoming magnum opus! Watch the new clip for Wolf Among The Sheep HERE!

Get ready to kick of into a heavy as hell 2020 with Shadow Witch, and watch out for many more news and album pre-sale infos to follow soon!

Shadow Witch live:
May 15-16, 2020 (US) – NEW ENGLAND STONER AND DOOM FEST
June 18-20, 2020 (US) – MARYLAND DOOM FEST
with many more dates to follow soon!

SHADOW WITCH is:
Justin Zipperle – drums
David Pannullo – bass
Earl Lundy – voice / mellotron / loops
Jeremy Hall – guitars

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The Kings of Frog Island Complete Year-Long Series of Single Releases

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the kings of frog island xmas ball

Bands attempt this kind of thing all the time — labels too — and far, far fewer see it through to completion. At the start of the year, Leicester, UK’s underrated post-Elektrohasch psych wanderers The Kings of Frog Island set out to release a song every month across the entirety of 2019. And they did it. They’re a self-contained act in terms of recording — i.e. DIY — so assuming life allows them to get together at semi-regular intervals, it wouldn’t be impossible for each one of these tracks to have been put to tape (or, you know, hard drive) as it was created, but I don’t think that was the circumstance. Some of this stuff was recorded before and finalized or mixed down, or was from other sessions. One is a track reworked and one is a take on Monster Magnet‘s “Ozium” and so it’s not really all drawn from one source. It doesn’t seem to have been a case of, “It’s the first of the month — everybody back in the live room.”

And hey, that’s fair. However it’s done, even self-releasing 12 tracks — plus a bonus holiday song, no less! — in a single year is a massive undertaking, so right on. If you’re like me and have been wondering with The Kings of Frog Island might eventually get around to following up 2014’s V (review here), this project has offered a year-long listening experience that’s scratched the itch on multiple fronts. The even better news, though, is that in September, The Kings of Frog Island received the test pressings for VI, which they’ll release through Kozmik Artifactz at some point I guess in the New Year. I’m not sure how much or if any of these songs will be on that record, but if they are or aren’t, the more the merrier, as far as I’m concerned.

A note and then we can get to it: they’re on Spotify, and I probably could’ve just posted the whole thing as a playlist or whatever, but frankly that seems an injustice to me in terms of visually representing this as 13 separate releases from throughout 2019. As such, here are 13 separate YouTube embeds, which take up a more appropriate-feeling amount of space on the screen.

Enjoy:

The Kings of Frog Island, “We Wish You a Merry Xmas” (Dec.)

The Kings of Frog Island, “Rocket Ron (Head in My Hands)” (Dec.)

The Kings of Frog Island, “Heat Haze” (Nov.)

The Kings of Frog Island, “El Indio” (Oct.)

The Kings of Frog Island, “Descending Inferno” (Sept.)

The Kings of Frog Island, “Belvoir Felvoir” (Aug.)

The Kings of Frog Island, “Nebula” (July)

The Kings of Frog Island, “Pigs in Kaftans” (June)

The Kings of Frog Island, “Ozium” (Monster Magnet cover, May)

The Kings of Frog Island, “Supernova” (April)

The Kings of Frog Island, “Temporal Riff Vol. 1” (March)

The Kings of Frog Island, “White Dwarf” (Feb.)

The Kings of Frog Island, “The Birth of a Star”

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Pendejo Post “El Rutger” Video; Touring in January

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

pendejo

I’m not a big conspiracy theory guy. I’m just not. I don’t believe in chemtrails or false-flag shootings, and I think a lot of the current spate of political conspiracy about the Deep State, pizzagate and shit like that is either people being angry and making up somewhere to put it because they don’t know where it should really go, or manipulation by political entities whose interests they serve. Frankly, I think if you look around at the world, there’s enough horrible, genuinely evil crap going on right in front of your eyes that it seems to me any efforts to hide it behind government mind control or some such, if they exist, simply don’t work. My country cut 700,000 people off food assistance this week, to save money after giving a tax cut to the uppermost reaches of the income bracket two years ago. That level of cruelty isn’t a conspiracy. It’s the news.

That said, I do have a couple favorite conspiracy theories. My number one has always been that all figures of power, wealth and cultural sway are actually part of a species of disguised lizard people who’ve taken over our planet, presumably to rob it of its resources, or maybe better, just to screw with us. I like that. I don’t believe it’s true, but if you think it’s ridiculous, I’ll say only in response that it’s no more so than “god has a plan,” which is a thing plenty of humans believe. Flat-earth has been giving the lizard people a run for their money since I watched that Netflix documentary about it, but I think long-term, it’s still lizard people all the way.

All of this brings us round to Pendejo‘s new clip for “El Rutger,” which posits a conspiracy theory of malevolent blondes who’ve taken over the world who seem to be the progeny of Margaret Thatchet and Augusto Pinochet — because obviously. From the US to Russia to France to the Netherlands, these children have risen to the seats of highest power and are setting about destroying the world. The avenging angel, as you’ll see in the video, is himself a blonder: the recently-deceased Rutger Hauer. The actor most famous for his role in Blade Runner returns as a literal angel, wings and all, and sets the world to rights with fireballs shot from his hands. Or maybe he’s bringing about the endtimes? Now that I think about it, I’m not really sure, and of course, since the lyrics are in Spanish, I’m relying on what minimal translation I can pick up from reading on the screen. I’m sure you can figure it out.

Either way, it’s kind of brilliant.

“El Rutger” here is an edit taken from Pendejo‘s 2018 album, Sin Vergüenza (review here), and the band have a quick string of tour dates lined up for next month as they continue to support that record. You’ll find those listed under the video below. The truth, as ever, is out there.

Please enjoy:

Pendejo, “El Rutger” official video

Video by Antonio Villar

Artist: ¡Pendej0!
Song: El Rutger
Length: 03:49
Taken from “Sin Vergüenza’.
Recorded, re-mixed and re-mastered by Pieter ‘Deyvi’ Kloos.
Produced by Pieter Kloos and ¡Pendej0!
Lyrics by El Pastuso
Music by Stef ‘El Rojo’ Gubbels and Jaap ‘Monchito’ Melman.

Pendejo Jan. 2020 tour:
JAN 9 La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland Centraf’ Tropic
JAN 10 Luzern, Switzerland The Bruch Brothers
JAN 11 Lenzburg, Switzerland Met-Bar
JAN 12 Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany ArTik
JAN 16 KufA Haus Westbahnhof 13
JAN 17 Jena, Germany Rosenkeller e.V.
JAN 18 Sittard, Netherlands Poppodium Volt

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Spaceslug Post “Half-Moon Burns” Video; Reign of the Orion out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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This past Friday, Polish three-piece Spaceslug offered up their latest release, Reign of the Orion (review here), through Kozmik Artifactz and BSFD Records as their second outing of the year behind participating earlier in 2019 in a four-way split with all-Polish acts. They present Reign of the Orion as an EP, and where I’ll argue all day long that it’s in fact an album — if a shorter one than the one they put out before it, 2018’s Eye the Tide (review here) — in my most honest assessment I’m just an old dingus sitting at a laptop clacky-clackying away in the middle of the night and I don’t know shit about shit, man. Leave that shit to the shit-knowers.

“Half-Moon Burns,” with a new video by Chariot of Black Moth, is an important moment on Reign of the Orion — full-length or not. Eye the Tide was a crucial moment for Spaceslug in that it saw them bring in more aggressive undertones to what had previously been a more laid back heavy psychedelic feel. Their first two albums were jammier, more languid, where Eye the Tide dared to touch on extreme metal in a way that didn’t necessarily let go entirely of the lysergic vibe either. The result was gorgeous and it’s precisely upon that foundation that “Half-Moon Burns.” The shouts that come through intertwined with the sort of droning cleaner vocals are emblematic of this approach, and it works in terms of the sheer sound as well as on an aesthetic level. It’s somewhat less distinctly blackened than were those moments on Eye the Tide, but “Half-Moon Burns” gets the point across that Spaceslug have no interest in ceasing their exploration on multiple fronts, and that their efforts are only growing more cohesive as time — and not that much of it, mind you; remember Eye the Tide came out last year — passes.

Look. I know that in a given week or even on a given day, sometimes I write about a lot of bands. They’re not all Spaceslug, and at this point I feel pretty confident in saying I know the difference when a band is onto something special in their craft, or sound, or general approach to the work. If you haven’t given these guys a shot yet because maybe you saw the name and you were like, “yeah, another stoner band” or whatever other reason, at this point you’re missing out, but it’s not at all too late. Just take a listen and see how this one hits you. If you’ve got time to leave a comment, I’d love to know what you think.

Please enjoy:

Spaceslug, “Half-Moon Burns” official video

We present “Half-Moon Burns” with music video by Chariot Of Black Moth. Taken from the EP “Reign Of The Orion” out December 6th, 2019.

“Reign Of The Orion” will be available as CD / LP and digital album.

Have fun with that and share that fun with others!

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Friday Full-Length: Lord Vicar, Signs of Osiris

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

It has only ever been appropriate that the cover art of Lord Vicar albums should be classical-style paintings. Their work on the whole is very much about being in conversation with masters even as they’ve emerged as masters themselves, and it adds to the poise within their traditionalist doom, while placing in context the sense of reverence for form with which their material is executed. Their second album, Signs of Osiris, was released in 2011 through The Church Within Records as the follow-up to 2008’s debut, Fear No Pain, as well as roughly concurrent splits with Griftegård and Funeral Circle (review here), on Ván Records and Eyes Like Snow, respectively. It was a busy time for the four-piece of vocalist Christian “Lord Chritus” Linderson, guitarist/Mellotronist Kimi “Peter Vicar” Kärki, bassist Jussi “Iron Hammer” Myllykoski and drummer Gareth Millsted, but the clarity of their purpose continues to resound through the timeless/anachronistic doom they crafted. Kärki‘s songwriting is at the root of much of Signs of Osiris but with early contributions from Myllykoski on “The Answer” and Millsted on the multi-movement “Child Witness (Including ‘The Father’ and ‘The Pain of a Maiden’ and ‘Release’),” a sense of variety emerges throughout the 58-minute seven-tracker even beyond that which the flourish of acoustic guitar in opener “Signs of Osiris Slain” that later manifests in the acoustic-led penultimate cut “Endless November” already brings. Whether it’s longer-form pieces like the 15-minute finale “Signs of Osiris Risen (Including ‘Isis and the Needle’ and ‘The Ritual’ and ‘For the Love of War’),” or “Child Witness” and the subsequent “Between the Blue Temple and the North Tower” — both of which hover around nine and a half minutes — or the more active and rolling tempos of “Signs of Osiris Slain” and the later “Sinking City,” Lord Vicar manifest doom not as an elitist standard or fodder for a backpatch or a slogan in some meme, but as an emotive and existential mode of being. It’s doom as a way of life, turned into songs.

Unavoidably, the focus on Lord Vicar will forever be Linderson and Kärki. There’s just no getting away from it, and frankly I’m not sure there should be. One’s Lord, and one’s Vicar, and the band is called Lord Vicar. More than a decade after their founding, it still doesn’t seem like an accident, and when one considers their pedigree, with Chritus having served the crusade in Count Raven, Saint Vitus, Terra Firma and more recently Lord Vicar Signs of Osirison the first two Goatess LPs, and Kärki‘s multi-faceted creative force manifest in E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, Orne, Reverend Bizarre, and so on, top billing is well earned. That said, right up there with the doomly tradition of follow-the-riff is secret-weapon-rhythm-section, and Lord Vicar live up to that on Signs of Osiris as well. Myllykoski would be out of the band by the time their third record showed up, but he and Millsted are locked in here, driving home the turns in “Sinking City” reminiscent of The Obsessed or carrying the midsection part-shifts of “Child Witness” as if to remind any and all listening that Black Sabbath at their heart were a blues band — in itself a perfect backing for Linderson, who is a better Ozzy than Ozzy has been since 1975 — while staying coherent, clear, and improbably straightforward. Even just the crashes behind the mellotron in “Between the Blue Temple and the North Tower” add to the grandiosity and the drama in that song’s first half, and when Millsted‘s bass takes the forward position to set up the riff that unfolds thereafter for a short time, it is the stuff of doomed glory. It’s easy to put the focus on Linderson and Kärki, and again, I’m not sure it’s inappropriate to do so either, but Signs of Osiris demonstrates plainly from Osiris’ slaying to Osiris’ rising that Lord Vicar have always been a full band in terms of impact. Even the cymbal washes later in “Endless November” add to that track’s acoustic melody and the classical-styled folkish guitar work that Kärki would later manifest through his solo work.

That song is a highlight of the album, and not just for its departure from the tonal heft that surrounds or the manner in which it builds at its conclusion to transition into “Sign of Osiris Risen,” but the hook of “Child Witness” — strong enough to pull the band back to it even after their running through the subsections in one-after-the-next-fashion — also serves as a standout, and the rocking “The Answer” does likewise, again bringing to light what the rhythm section adds to the core of guitar and vocals. Of course, that’s not to take away from Kärki‘s craftsmanship on the opener and its companion closer, “Between the Blue Temple and the North Tower,” “Sinking City” or “Endless November,” which is no less effectively consuming in its doom than one could ask it to be, or from the performance of Linderson, which is stellar in such a way as to highlight how generally undervalued he is as a frontman in the genre. After a split with Revelation in 2012 that was Myllykoski‘s final release with the band, it would be four years before they resurfaced with 2016’s Gates of Flesh (review here), bringing in bassist Rich Jones, who like Millsted, is based in the UK as opposed to Finland or Sweden. This incarnation of the band would prove no less potent than the preceding, and even as Linderson split time with Goatess and Kärki explored solo work, Lord Vicar remained active in writing and performing. Gates of Flesh received a follow-up earlier this year with The Black Powder (review here), which will shortly feature again around here on the list of 2019’s best releases, as it was certainly among the most gloriously doomed offerings of the last 12 months, continuing to show the inescapable power of what Lord Vicar do to move, affect, and sway the listener to its own spiritual alignment, as did Signs of Osiris, and as might a classical painting.

They recently played Hammer of Doom in Germany and have done other appearances to support the release, and if you’re ever in a position to see them play, I can only recommend doing so.

In the meantime, and as always, I hope you enjoy.

Guess the week’s over, since I’m writing a Friday Full-Length post. That’s cool. I’m sure the weekend will be super-restful.

Ha.

This week it was Wednesday. Wednesday was the hard day. Wednesday was the day I was looking at the clock unable to believe it wasn’t even 10AM yet. The Pecan and I didn’t leave the house because it was cold and looked shitty out and I couldn’t even bring myself to go outside and warm up the car, and I had nowhere to go that didn’t cost money and The Patient Mrs. and I have been living beyond our means since, well, pretty much forever. Some days that shit catches up with you, I guess. That was Wednesday.

So the kid was a nightmare pretty much the whole day. Full-on fuck-you-wreck-shit-scream-hit-kick-bite-two-year-old madness. By the early afternoon, when I put him upstairs for a nap and he didn’t even go to sleep, I was ready to collapse on an existential level. Like, “How is this my life?’ It was bad. Even relative to the bad days, it was bad.

Yesterday, by contrast, Thursday, was easier. We went out in the morning to the grocery store, and my mother came and sat with him for an hour and there was other stuff going on during the day. He napped — hour-twenty; not terrible, not great — and afterward we ran a few errands then came back to the house and he ate dinner. The Patient Mrs. had left in the morning to drive up to Massachusetts for a funeral, so for a day that was 100 percent him and me, it actually wasn’t, and it was much easier for that. Kid’s better for everyone else. My mother’ll tell you he’s a gem.

Monday’s a blur, both this past Monday and this one coming. I’m going to go see Kings Destroy play an early show at Vitus Bar in Brooklyn tomorrow night with Borracho and a couple other bands, and that’ll be good. They’re doing a live record and I expect I’ll know a good number of people in the room. Om and Kadavar are also playing New York next week, but as of now I’m not planning to get to either show. That’s probably a mistake on my part. It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen either of them. I don’t know. I don’t get to spend much time with The Patient Mrs. these days, and our evenings together, even if we’re just sitting on ass watching Star Trek — actually, especially if that’s what we’re doing — have become pretty precious to me. I’ll do some math and see where I land.

So next week, that KD live review — “duh, they’re good” — plus a Church of the Cosmic Skull album review and a Doomraiser video premiere and Domo album stream later in the week. Only day I don’t yet have anything planned for is Wednesday. I’m sure something will come along, and if not, I’ve got a goddamn backlog of stuff on my desktop waiting for writeups. So yeah, it’ll be fine.

Don’t forget, The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio is on at 1PM Eastern: http://gimmeradio.com

Don’t forget, new Obelisk shirts and sweatpants and such at Made in Brooklyn Silk Screeners: https://mibk.bigcartel.com/products

And don’t forget to have a great and safe weekend, to have fun and be kind.

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