Friday Full-Length: Solace, 13

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Solace, 13 (2003)

None more Jersey. With the not-always-underlying current of hardcore punk in their sound, their ‘Die Drunk’ mantra, the sheer force of their delivery, and the absolute dogshit luck that has plagued them since their inception, Solace are about as Garden State as Garden State gets. Born of the same Red Bank/Long Branch-area heavy scene (oh, I do remember some shows at the Brighton Bar… vaguely) that ignited the likes of Monster Magnet, Core, Drag PackThe Atomic Bitchwax, The Ribeye Brothers, Halfway to Gone, Daisycutter, Solarized, Lord Sterling, on and on, Solace started life as Godspeed and like Core, were picked up by Atlantic Records, for whom they’d release one album. Guitarist Tommy Southard and bassist Rob Hultz — the latter now also in doom legends Trouble — recruited singly-named, massively-talented and no-you-can’t-see-my-lyrics vocalist Jason and ran through a slew of drummers during the period of their 1998 self-titled EP and subsequent split with Solarized, which led into their 2000 debut, Further. Released by MeteorCity, that was an album ahead of its time, and it would be another three years before Solace were able to make the follow-up that would ultimately embody the tumult that has in large part always defined them: 2003’s 13.

Southard, Hultz, Jason and no fewer than four drummers — John Proveaux, Keith Ackerman, Bill “Bixby” Belford and Matt Gunvordahl — combined across, sure enough, 13 songs to make a record of near impossible cohesion. The kind of album one puts on, listens through, hears cuts like “King Alcohol,” “Common Cause” (with its Wino guest appearance from before that was a thing people did), the opening classic/modern meld of “Loving Sickness/Burning Fuel,” the raw aggression of “In the Oven,” the swinging Pentagram cover “Forever My Queen” (again, from long before everyone had their own version), the languid initial roll of “Try,” the conquering individualized blend that surfaces in “Rice Burner,” and so on, feels like they have a good understanding of, then gets through the end of bonus track “Shit Kisser” and is in a the-hell-did-I-just-witness daze for the rest of the day. Like few before or since, Solace have been able to bend chaos to their will. Part of that is personality — if you’re fortunate enough to know Tommy, it makes more sense — but part of it also originates in an inimitable complexity of songwriting that still comes through clear in its intent toward kicking ass, and with its punker roots, is never in danger of losing its way in a wash of pretentious technicality. Metal, punk, classic heavy and more all seemed to be in Solace‘s wheelhouse on 13, and over the course of the unmanageable, CD-era hour-plus runtime, Solace pivoted between them and drew them together in a ferocious, vibrant attack that no one, in Jersey or out, has been able to match, on stage or in studio. Sorry. No one.

True to form, it would be seven years before 13 got its own follow-up. They released two EPs, Hammerhead and The Black Black, in 2004 and 2007, respectively, with the lineup solidified around SouthardHultzJason, guitarist Justin Daniels and drummer Kenny Lund, but it still wasn’t until 2010 that their third full-length, A.D. (review here), arrived as their ultimate, and to-date final, triumph. No doubt it’ll be featured in this space at some point as well, but it was my pick for Album of the Year that year, and I stand by that entirely. At the time, it seemed Solace were back and ready to roll. I talked about it as the beginning of a new era for the band. Well, in 2012 they broke up, so there you go. They played what was to be their last show headlining at Days of the Doomed II (review here) in Cudahy, Wisconsin, and then were done until a semi-reunion brought SouthardDaniels and Hultz together with drummer Tim Schoenleber and vocalist/keyboardist Justin Goins for an appearance at 2015’s Vultures of Volume II (review here) in Maryland, playing on the bill directly under their one-time compatriots in Spirit Caravan, on their own reunion.

As to what the future holds, I wouldn’t dare to predict. The new incarnation of the band were in the studio as recently as this summer and fall working on new material, though to what end, I don’t know. Chaos remains a factor never far from the center of what they do, but I’ll note that we are coming up on seven years since A.D. in 2017, which would match the span between that and 13 before it.

Whether it’s new to you or old, I hope you enjoy 13. I’ve been a fan of the band for a long time, played shows with them, seen them more times than I could or would like to count and still pronounce their name “sol-ah-chay” in the spirit of Puny Human frontman Jim Starace (R.I.P., four years this month), but I can still hear new things in this album, and my sincere wish is that you do as well.

Thanks for reading.

Had to be something from New Jersey to close out this week, since I’m down here visiting family for the Thanksgiving holiday. I don’t get to see my people that often, at least not en masse, and as I’ve gotten older and as the physical distance has settled in over the past few years since The Patient Mrs. and I moved north, I’ve come to miss them dearly. My nephews are growing up and I don’t get to be a part of it in the way I otherwise would. It makes me sad, and it makes me appreciate the chances I do get to be with them all the more. They’re eight (going on nine, he’d want me to note) and six now. The years fly.

If you’re in the States, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, however you marked the day. Like a lot of stuff about this country, it has a pretty fucked origin, what with all that genocide of the land’s native people and culture — ongoing; look at DAPL — but at least it’s become a holiday less about cashing in and more about sitting down to a meal with loved ones, whatever rampant consumerism might happen the day after. It’s a little easier for me to take that than the holidays about selling greeting cards or candy or whatever else. Anyway, hope you enjoyed yours as I enjoyed mine.

Tonight, we head back north, The Patient Mrs. and I. Exhausting, but worth it in order to wake up at home tomorrow in our own bed. I will make myself an entire pot of coffee, as is my wont, and drink it leisurely as I begin to put stuff together for next week and play the Final Fantasy V remake on my cheapie tablet. Here are my current notes for what’s coming up:

Mon: Comacozer LP review and Year of the Cobra video premiere.
Tue: Akris review and Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters video premiere.
Wed: Megaritual LP review and Black Moon Circle video.
Thu: The 2016 Readers Poll goes live. Yup, it’s Dec. 1 already. Also Backwoods Payback review.
Fri: Right now it’s a Child review, though that might shift depending on what else comes through.

Some of that still needs to be organized, but it’s a basic running plan anyhow. It’s a start. Whatever it winds up being, I appreciate you taking the time to read.

Please have a great and safe (holiday) weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Live Review: Black Sabbath in Massachusetts, 08.12.13

Posted in Reviews on August 13th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Houses on the way into the Comcast Center had signs on their lawns advertising $30 parking. I guess earning a buck or two on the side is probably a good way to offset some of the annoyance that must be inevitable when you live next door to an amphitheater. People were taking advantage, too. By the time I pulled into the parking lot, there were pedestrians walking up alongside the car, eyes forward in pilgrimage concentration. It was Black Sabbath. Getting there was as top as priorities come.

I always forget the scale of these kinds of shows. The parking lot looked like a camp of heavy metal refugees. Ozzy and old Metallica blasted out of outside-of-this-parking-lot-I-drive-this-because-I’m-a-dad tailgating SUVs, lawn chairs were set up; grills ablaze, beers chugged, footballs thrown. For many, it looked like the only show they’d see this summer; and I don’t say that to condescend. Their appreciation was clear to discern through the ritual, and though it’s never been my thing, I find that admirable at least in concept. It was hard from the start not to view the night as a kind of religious experience.

The sun was setting over the hill and the sky turning pinkish-purple, and at the reasonable hour of 8:30PM, my planet and the planet on which reside the gods of doom themselves would align as Black Sabbath rolled through supporting their first number-one album and first Ozzy Osbourne-fronted outing since 1978’s Never Say Die, the Rick Rubin-produced 13.

Invariably, 13 (review here) has been the subject of much debate since its release, with points ranging from “No Bill Ward, no Sabbath” to “What the hell did you expect?” finding ground and various levels of validity along the way. It’s an album I found underwhelming at best — overproduced as it was almost certain to be and doing little to capture the spirit it purported and attempted to of the band’s earliest works, with uninteresting drumming to back the otherwise stellar leads of Tony Iommi and always pivotal bass of Geezer Butler. It was never going to be a Sabbath landmark in any other than the commercial sense, and it wasn’t. Songs were catchy but largely undercut by a self-awareness that sapped them of the vitality they were shooting to hone, as heard on the single, “God is Dead?,” and the reinvention of one of their most essential works — the song “Black Sabbath” — that showed itself on album opener “End of the Beginning.”

Nonetheless, the record exists and it’s been talked about since the original lineup first reunited in 1997, so for that alone if not the actual songs, it’s an event. And if it gives me an excuse to go and watch Tony Iommi play guitar and Geezer Butler play bass for about two hours solid, I don’t care if it’s 45 minutes of Osbourne practicing making armpit farts, I’m going to see the band live. I went into it knowing what to expect and that it could be pretty rough depending on the night — they were still relatively lethal when I first saw them in 1998, but showed wear and tear over the years such that, when I last caught a show in 2005, I assumed it would be the final time — but honestly, I got what I came for by the time they were through “Into the Void,” which was the second song in the setlist. Everything else was gravy.

Perhaps less so opener Andrew W.K., who contrary to what I expected didn’t actually play a set so much as stand in a booth, toss out t-shirts and hit a couple quintessential rock tracks from AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, presumably off his iPod. The UK gets Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and the major-market US tour gets… Andrew W.K. as a half-assed fluffer/DJ? Really? Sleep and YOB popped into my head immediately as the first two on a list of acts worthy of opening the show. I don’t know if Sabbath‘s management were worried about being upstaged or if perhaps Andrew W.K. is just the best guy in the universe to tour with and he couldn’t get a band together in time, but it was worthy of a raised eyebrow and it got one. Hell, even give me Down as an opener and I’d understand where you’re coming from. It was puzzling.

But also short-lived. Andrew W.K. was gone as soon as he’d arrived, taking his raised podium with a hologram of his face on it with him, and a curtain was lowered as the stage was set for Black Sabbath. The place was filling up quickly as the already-stumbling crowd made its way to their seats or to the general-admission lawn behind, and they came on more or less right on time. The curtain lifted and there they were: Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne down at the front of the stage, with drummer Tommy Clufetos on a high riser behind, backed by a trio of screens that showed shots of the band playing and sundry clips throughout of varying relation to what the songs were actually talking about — a stripper in a bejeweled gas mask during “Fairies Wear Boots” providing the night’s largest disconnect about halfway through.

Along with a trio of new songs spread throughout — “Age of Reason,” “End of the Beginning” and “God is Dead?” — the setlist was entirely comprised of material from the holy quadrilogy of Sabbath‘s first four albums, 1970’s Black Sabbath and Paranoid, 1971’s Master of Reality and 1972’s Vol. 4, save for a late inclusion of “Dirty Women” from 1976’s lackluster seventh album, Technical Ecstasy, which I found inexplicable until I realized as they started playing it that it was just an excuse to put vintage boobage on the screens behind, maybe in an effort to lull the largely-male audience into a trance and then snap them out of it with “Children of the Grave,” which closed the set proper, or maybe just to say, “thanks for showing up, enjoy some Bettie Page.” Whatever.

Osbourne and Iommi seemed at various points to have some issues with their monitors, but it didn’t have an effect on the sound in the front of the house, which was as huge and loud as I’m sure the neighbors could’ve possibly asked for, and by the time “Under the Sun” rolled into “Snowblind” and the ending section of “Age of Reason” reminded of one of 13‘s merits, the band was long since up to full speed. My seats were toward the left side of the stage, which put me in front of Butler, who held down that entire side of the stage with his usual subdued grace and sonic mastery. At the end of the show? Tony Iommi was smiling but tired in front of his Laney stacks, Clufetos looked like he had just run a marathon in jean shorts, Osbourne visibly reflected every second of the formidable calisthenic effort he put into the gig, and Geezer Butler came off like he could’ve played another two hours. And it’s not like he wasn’t going for it. He’s just that fucking good.

Of course I’m biased, but I don’t know how you could ever watch him play the “Bassically” intro to “N.I.B.” and not be. His foot on the wah, he set the tone for one of Sabbath‘s most quintessential riffs, and while Ozzy would later find his moment in “Iron Man” and Iommi seemed to relish and smile through every quiet measure of “Black Sabbath,” “N.I.B.” clearly belonged to the bassist and came off “Behind the Wall of Sleep” as naturally as one could hope. As regards Osbourne‘s performance, he rightly stuck to his comfort zone throughout the night and the set seemed to be constructed around that as well — nothing from the more vocally adventurous Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973) or Sabotage (1975), though the intro to “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” was tacked on as a precursor to the encore “Paranoid.” Neither he nor the years have been kind to his voice, but he did well to stay away from the highs in the “I don’t want to see you” lines toward the finish of “End of the Beginning” — opting not to sing those lines at all — and in cuts like “Black Sabbath” and the opener “War Pigs,” he delivered the notes with a charisma usually reserved for kings and the odd pope. Whatever else has come between them over the years, during “Into the Void” the frontman had his guitarist cracking up and he and Iommi walked off stage with their arms around each other at the finish of the set, the second half of which had taken a strange turn.

I guess it’s fair to expect Clufetos would have a drum solo. Gives the band time to rest and take a break, and as much as he’s not Bill Ward and by virtue of being a subsequent generation of heavy metal drummer can never bring to these songs the kind of swing that the man who wrote those parts could, Clufetos showed off a bit of groove and some considerable chops. But wow, it went on a long time. If you want to break the show into two 50-minute sets, fine, but to leave the guy out there for 10-plus minutes to carry an amphitheater crowd on the virtue of tom runs seemed like asking an awful lot. As with the rest of the show, he did his job well, but I was glad when he started the kick-drum thuds that announced “Iron Man” that he was soon rejoined by Butler, Osbourne and Iommi.

And whatever else one might say about the songs from 13, they are catchy — more infectious than good, particularly when paired with classics like “Fairies Wear Boots” and “Snowblind.” “God is Dead?” was followed by “Dirty Women,” and that was a bit of a lull, especially since I’d only just recovered from that drum solo, but “Children of the Grave” has the heaviest riff ever written and “Paranoid” was a necessary encore but also a welcome one, so Black Sabbath finished strong one way or another.

Maybe that’s what this tour is all about. It’s hard to imagine that since it took more than a decade for 13 to surface, the sexagenarian metal forefathers will be in a hurry to get another one out — at least not before the requisite live album and DVD from this round of touring have surfaced — and once this album cycle is over, who knows? I would expect they’d make a return next summer or fall still in support of 13, but maybe this will have been my last time seeing Sabbath, and if that’s the case, again, I got what I went for by the second song, which makes it hard to complain about the rest.

Thanks for reading.

Black Sabbath, “Iron Man” Live at Comcast Center, Mansfield, MA, Aug. 12, 2013

Note: If you’re wondering at the lack of photos, I was asked by the band’s PR to restrict myself to one for the blog and did so out of respect to that request.

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Here’s the One Question I Got to Ask Ozzy Osbourne about Black Sabbath’s 13

Posted in Features on July 18th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Prepare to be underwhelmed…

About two weeks ago, I took part with a slew of other alt-weekly journo types in a conference call with Ozzy Osbourne about the new Black Sabbath album, 13 (review here). It was an hour long and there were I think 20 or so writers involved. Everyone, I was told, would get to ask at least one question.

I had never done a conference call before, and the idea seemed lame, but it was my only chance to get even a smattering of phone time with Ozzy and not-at-all-blown-away-by-13 though I was, I wasn’t going to miss probably the only chance I’d ever have to ask him anything, let alone something about the process of making this album after talking about it for so long.

Before calling in to the weird phone chat thing — like a partyline of people who’ve made terrible life choices — I made a list of questions to pick from should I be lucky enough to actually get a word in. All my questions were among the first asked, and not by me. By the time it was finally my turn to ask something, I had nothing left and had to come up with one on the fly.

So, after being a Sabbath fan for more than half my life and finally getting an opportunity to speak to Ozzy Osbourne himself (a man who has clearly had no shortage of media training), here’s how it went down — my question and a follow-up:

I just wanted to ask you a little bit about the sort of reception to the new material live. Obviously, there’s Sabbath’s catalog of classics, but in terms of mixing new songs in and the shows you’ve already done…

Ozzy Osbourne: So we recently went to New Zealand, Australia, and Japan, and we did a couple of the new songs. We said they’re all new. God, you’d think it had been released as a single or a first track off album, and so that – I remember when we played two shows in Auckland, New Zealand.

The first night they didn’t really respond much to it. The second night they’re all singing the lyrics with me. I’m going, I can’t even remember them that good. I mean, it’s good for us as well to do new stuff, because you know, we’re all tuned into “Iron Man,” “War Pigs,” “Paranoid,” and all of the old classics, but instead, it gives us as a band something refreshing to put into the show, and so I’m just glad that people have bought into the new songs.

You mentioned before the songs being in sort of a middle range you could bring live. How much of a consideration when you guys were writing the album was doing the songs live?

Ozzy Osbourne: Well, after keeping the people waiting for as long as we did, I certainly — I can still get the range, but I can’t do it onstage. Maybe one gig I can do it onstage, but then it’d be every other night, I mean, my voice gets tired you know? And so I personally specifically went in the studio and kept it a little comfortable range that I could do onstage, you know.

On the other end of the line from one of heavy metal’s true gods and I’m left asking about… playing the new songs live. As if he doesn’t shout, “Here’s one off the new album!” and everyone goes to get a beer in time to be back for “Into the Void.” I’d call it a bummer if it wasn’t so much better than nothing.

I didn’t attempt to dial in for another round, but didn’t hang up either, and just listened to the rest of the hour as other writers from around the country took turns flattering and lobbing softballs. The first question had been about Bill Ward and that got shut down pretty quickly to more or less set the tone. By the end of it, charismatic though Osbourne is and though — as with the record — I’d expected no more than I got, I had gone back to checking my email.

And there you have it.

Black Sabbath, “Naïveté in Black” (2013)

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Black Sabbath, 13: At the End of the Storm

Posted in Reviews on June 17th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I can no more pretend to be impartial about a new Black Sabbath album than I can about a member of my own family. Further, I don’t think any critic who can claim otherwise has any business reviewing 13, the first studio full-length by Black Sabbath proper since 1995’s Forbidden ended a lackluster streak with vocalist Tony Martin prior to a 1997 reunion with Ozzy Osbourne, the successor in many ways to guitarist Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler’s 2007 reunion with Ronnie James Dio that resulted in Heaven and Hell’s 2009 outing, The Devil You Know (review here), and an album which – had Dio survived his bout with stomach cancer – probably wouldn’t exist. Prior to Dio’s passing, Iommi – whose band Sabbath has always been – showed roughly no interest in getting back together with Osbourne at the fore and seemed content to let Black Sabbath’s original frontman languish on his path of a declining solo career. Sabbath had done live stints between 1997 and 2006, and in 1998 released the “Psycho Man” single to promote their aptly-titled Reunion double-live album, but another studio full-length with Iommi, Osbourne, Butler and drummer Bill Ward seemed like a daydream. Of course, it still is. In 2011, when the band announced they were together with the completion of an album in sight, the shockwave resonated far and wide, but a contract dispute with Ward resulted in Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk joining in his place for the recording of the Rick Rubin-produced 13. This would be narrative context enough were it not for 13’s being touted as an attempt to recapture the feel of the original Sabbath – untouchable records like 1970’s self-titled debut, the same year’s follow-up, Paranoid, the stonerly perfection of 1971’s Master of Reality and 1972’s Vol. 4 – and were it not for Iommi’s own cancer battle, which it’s easy to read 13 tracks like “End of the Beginning,” “Live Forever,” “God is Dead?” and “Damaged Soul” as reaction toward, regardless of whether or not they actually are.

First, whoever decided to bill 13 as a return to Sabbath’s heyday was a fool. 13 neither picks up where the band’s last Osbourne-fronted outing, 1978’s Never Say Die, left off, nor harkens back to the band’s earliest glories in any way other than periodically recycling a riff. As regards the production, it is stale in the modern commercial metal sense, and if Rubin’s stamp is anywhere on it, it holds about as much meaning in terms of authenticity as the “organic” produce at WalMart. Drums are triggered – for the most part, Wilk is a nonentity here, personality-wise, injecting simple fills and keeping a beat when called upon to do so (good work if you can get it) – guitars and bass are “corrected” and if there was any thought that Osbourne’s vocals were going to be presented in anything close to their natural state, let it be corrected by the ending apex of 13 opener “End of the Beginning,” on which he goes from his half-spoken drawl suddenly to suddenly pitch-perfect high notes for the line, “I don’t want to see you, yeah, yeah,” and then does it again – the irony being that in the prior verse come the lyrics, “You don’t want to be a robot ghost/Occupied inside a human host.” Granted, Dio’s vocals on The Devil You Know had pitch correction as well, and he sang to backup tracks on Heaven and Hell’s final tours, but he could sing! Osbourne could never hit the kinds of notes in “End of the Beginning.” In Sabbath, he had maybe three years where one would be right on a technical level to call him a singer and not only a frontman – 1974-1976 – and even then he knew better than to attempt such theatrics. It’s the first of many instances throughout of Black Sabbath playing it safe on 13, creating a sterile and in some cases cynical collection of self-aware heavy metal that only in the work of Iommi and Butler does any justice whatsoever to the band’s legacy. It’s an album they’ll be able to go out and tour on, but for fans of Sabbath who had some hope that 13 might come along and revitalize the career of one of the acts singularly responsible for the creation of heavy metal and its many subgenres – most particularly doom – all these eight tracks do is realize how foolish and unrealistic those hopes were in the first place.

All this I know, and then that utter lack of impartiality kicks in and I think of 13 as being Black Sabbath’s final album. I think of how closer “Dear Father” ends with the same sampled thunderstorm that starts their eponymous song at the beginning of Black Sabbath, the sheer foreboding meaning of that bookend in light of Iommi’s cancer – that this is it, that he’s dying – and even the lame, watered-down revisit of that atmosphere on “End of the Beginning” and the hackneyed lyrics of the following “God is Dead?” and “Loner” seem excusable as pathways to one last collection of Iommi riffs and solos, best accompanied as they’ve always been by Butler’s trailblazing bass work (the easy argument is that he’s the most vital member of the band, and 13 bears that out), and though it’s a shame Ward isn’t a part of it, shouldn’t I just take what I can get and as someone who’s had his life changed by Sabbath’s work be happy? Isn’t it enough that Sabbath have another record? Does it really need to be good, too?

Yes and no. As I said, 13 is an album that Black Sabbath Iommi, Butler, Osbourne and Wilk or whoever they get – will be able to go out and tour arenas. They’ll put a couple new songs in the set along with the hits they’ve played on and off for over a decade, and if it’s to be Iommi’s last hurrah, no one will ever be able to say he didn’t earn it. Fans who saw them in their first run will go, younger fans will go, headbangers of all kinds of all generations, everywhere they go, the venues will be full. It will be successful. Even being panned by critics won’t matter – Sabbath have the armor of never having been a “critic’s band,” so  that even though the critics now may be two generations’ worth of Sabbath fans critiquing a hollow representation of what made them legends, they’re protected by the number of people who show up, the sheer scale of their profile. Fine. Records like Master of Reality, Black Sabbath and 1973’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath will belong to the underground no matter how many copies they sell, and for every one oldschool Sabbath fan who refuses to see what he or she alleges is a false version of the original band, two more are willing to buy that ticket. Neither side of the argument needs the other at this point, and history is on the band’s side – with over 20 people in and out of the lineup over the years, who’s to say what’s genuine? Sabbath will do what they will do to reach as broad an audience as possible – reuniting with Osbourne instead of, say, Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, with whom Iommi recently collaborated for the Whocares benefit single, speaks to wanting to gather maximum interest – and those unable to reconcile themselves to what the band has become don’t need to have a part in it if they choose to not. If Sabbath know the difference at this point, I certainly can’t imagine they give a rat’s ass. Ward was their tie to the authenticity they purported to be tapping into for the recording of 13, and they were quick enough to let him go. Does the album need to be good? Well, it needs a logo.

Read more »

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Wino Wednesday: Wino Guests on Guitar and Vocals for Solace’s “Common Cause,” 2003

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 13th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that in more ways than one, 2003’s sophomore outing, 13, is the most pivotal of the three Solace full-lengths. Not only did Agnostic Front and Pentagram covers help define the blend that made the New Jersey doom rockers the vital, aggressive and grooving act they became throughout their own material, but the songs even a decade later remain as memorable and urgent as they are natural sounding and likely drunk. It’s a doom record for doomers, but with its roots in punk as much as stoner rock, Solace found a niche for themselves and delivered what I still consider one of the best heavy albums my beloved Garden State has ever produced.

Among the many highlights of 13 — released by MeteorCity as the follow-up to 2000’s Further debut — is the track “Common Cause,” which features a slide/lead guitar and vocal guest contribution from Scott “Wino” Weinrich. At the time, Wino was post-Spirit Caravan and making his beginning statements with The Hidden Hand while also taking on a role alongside Victor Griffin in Place of Skulls for 2003’s With Vision — an unfortunately short-lived collaboration — so it’s not as though he had nothing going on, and yet the performance stands out for both sonically alongside the other Solace tracks and for how comfortable Wino sounds in the band alongside guitarist Tommy Southard, bassist Rob Hultz and drummer John Proveaux.

The Jersey bruisers, who are more or less defunct despite popping up now and again for an appearance as they did at Days of the Doomed II last year, released two more EPs, a slew of videos and, finally, 2010’s triumphant — fucking brilliant, go put it on again — A.D. (review with ironic headline here), before their split, and even that last album, which took more than half a decade to make, was viciously energetic and seemed to portend good things to come. But some you win, some you lose, and if three brick-wall-solid full-lengths and a handful of other releases is what we get to take away while chasing down subsequent projects and waiting for reunion gigs, it could be worse.

Bottom line is whatever the circumstances, 13 remains a special moment in the band’s ever-tumultuous run, and as I’ve been holding it in my back pocket for a while, I’m glad to finally feature “Common Cause” for Wino Wednesday.


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Wino Wednesday: Premonition 13, 13 in Full

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 27th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

There hasn’t been an update to Premonition 13‘s Thee Facebooks page since last July, and even that was about Wino doing the South of Mainstream festival with The Obsessed, so with their last release as a contribution to a Volcom split with Radio Moscow and Earthless (featured here), and the band having ended their European tour playing as a trio, I think it’s probably safe to assume they won’t be following up their 2011 debut LP, 13 (review here) anytime soon. So it goes.

Aside from having been the first Wino Wednesday post, Premonition 13 had something unique to offer from among Wino‘s many projects — namely, the jam. It didn’t really come across on 13, because after so many years of doing so I don’t think Wino can help but turn a jam into a song, but particularly seeing the double-guitar four-piece live, the character of the project revealed itself most of all in the spontaneous interplay between Wino and fellow guitarist Jim Karow. Wino‘s played with few enough other six-stringers over the course of his career, and whatever else the band may have done, they jammed the hell out of those riffs. That was, as they themselves stated, the foundation of the band.

But the album 13 was still very much an album in its construction; a collection of songs put together in such a way as to create an overall arc or full-length flow. Though it moved away from the basic jams that served as its starting point, there were still plenty of memorable moments on it, whether it was the single “La Hechicera de la Jeringa” or Karow taking on the frontman role for the classically hooky “Modern Man.” As always, groove and tonal warmth abounded, and though Premonition 13 will likely remain a short-lived experiment in the longer run of Wino‘s career, they did touch on something distinct within that vast catalog.

Here’s the album in full. Have a great Wino Wednesday:

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