Visual Evidence: 10 Album Covers that Kicked Ass in 2013

Posted in Visual Evidence on December 31st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

First thing, let me give the immediate and familiar disclaimer: This isn’t everything. If I wanted to call this list “The ONLY 10 Album Covers that Kicked Ass in 2013,” I would. I didn’t do that, because there were way more than 10 covers that resonated when I saw them this year. The idea here is just to check out a few artists’ work that really stuck out as memorable throughout the year and really fit with the music it was complementing and representing.

As always, you can click the images below to enlarge them for a more detailed look.

The list runs alphabetically by band. Thanks in advance for reading:

Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire


Cover by We touch upon the Should We Buy The Logo Essay job description, looking at the main technical writing skills you need, the qualifications and work experience, and more. Nick Keller. Artist website here.

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Blaak Heat Shujaa,The Edge of an Era


Cover by source Arrache-toi un oeil. Artist website here.

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Black Pyramid, Adversarial


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Ice Dragon, Born a Heavy Morning


Cover by Samantha Allen. Artist website here.

It was such a weird record, with the interludes and the bizarre twists, that Samantha Allen‘s cover piece for Ice Dragon‘s Born a Heavy Morning (review here) almost couldn’t help but encompass it. The direct, but slightly off-center stare of the owl immediately catches the eye, but we see the titular morning sunshine as well, the human hand with distinct palm lines, illuminati eye and other symbols — are the planets? Bubbles? I don’t know, but since Born a Heavy Morning was such an engrossing listening experience, to have the visual side follow suit made it all the richer.

Kings Destroy, A Time of Hunting


Cover by Aidrian O’Connor.

In Magyar mythology, the bird-god Turul is perched atop the tree of life and is a symbol of power. With its theme in geometry, Aidrian O’Connor‘s cover piece for Kings Destroy‘s A Time of Hunting — which was originally titled Turul — gave a glimpse at some of that strength, positioning the viewer as prey below a creature and sky that seem almost impossible to parse. I felt the same way the first time I put on the finished version of the Brooklyn outfit’s second offering, unspeakably complex and brazenly genre-defiant as it was.

Larman Clamor, Alligator Heart


Cover by Alexander von Wieding. Artist website here.

Alexander von Wieding deserves multiple mentions for his 2013 covers for Black Thai and Small Stone labelmates Supermachine, but he always seems to save the best for his own project, Larman Clamor. The one-man-band’s third LP, Alligator Heart (review here), was a stomper for sure, but in his visual art for it, von Wieding brilliantly encapsulated the terrestrial elements (the human and reptile) as well as the unknowable spheres (rippling water, sun-baked sky) that the songs portrayed in their swampadelic blues fashion. It was one to stare at.

Monster Magnet, Last Patrol


Cover by John Sumrow. Artist website here.

Similar I guess to the Beastwars cover in its looming feel and to the Black Pyramid for its scale, John Sumrow‘s art for Monster Magnet‘s Last Patrol (review here) mirrored the space-rocking stylistic turn the legendary New Jersey band made in their sound, taking their iconic Bullgod mascot and giving it a cosmic presence, put to scale with the rocketship on the right side. It stares out mean from the swirl and regards the ship with no less a watchful eye than Dave Wyndorf‘s lyrics seem to have on society as a whole.

Red Fang, Whales and Leeches


Cover by Orion Landau. Artist website here.

There’s a mania to Orion Landau’s cover for Red Fang‘s third album, Whales and Leeches, and while the songs that comprise the record are more clearly structured, the collage itself, the face it makes when viewed from a distance, and the (from what I’m told is brilliant) cut-out work in the physical pressing of the album, all conspired to make one of 2013’s most striking visuals. As the in-house artist for RelapseLandau is no stranger to landmark pieces, but this was a different level of accomplishment entirely.

Sandrider, Godhead


Cover by Jesse Roberts. Band Facebook here.

Fuck. Look at this fucking thing! Galaxy spiral, vagina-dentata, creepy multi-pupil eyes and a background that seems to push the eye to the middle with no hope of escape even as blues and oranges collide. Wow. Sandrider bassist Jesse Roberts (see also The Ruby Doe) artwork for Godhead (review here) is the only cover on this list done by a member of the band in question, and though I’m sure there are many awesome examples out there, I don’t know if any can top this kind of nightmarishness. Unreal. The sheer imagination of it.

Summoner, Atlantian


Cover by Alyssa Maucere. Artist website here.

When I put together a similar list last year, it had Summoner‘s first album under the moniker, Phoenix, on it, and with their second, they went more melodic, more progressive, and showed that heaviness was about atmosphere as much as tone, and that it was a thing to be moved around rather than leaned on. The Alyssa Maucere art, dark but deceptively colorful, rested comfortably alongside the songs, with a deeply personal feel and unflinchingly forward gaze, somewhat understated on the black background, but justifying the portrayal of depth.

As I said above, there’s a lot of stuff I could’ve easily included on this list, from The Flying Eyes to Sasquatch to Black Thai to Lumbar, Samsara Blues Experiment, Goatess, At Devil Dirt and others. Hopefully though, this gives a sampling of some people who are doing cool work in an under-represented aspect of underground creativity.

If I left anything out or there was a cover that really stuck with you that I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Beastwars Explore Alien Abduction in New Video for “Realms”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 6th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Maybe it’s the creepy purple light coming through the trees or the way the young protagonist of Beastwars‘ latest video winds up being carted off by space aliens, but something in the clip for “Realms” from the New Zealand band’s 2013 Blood Becomes Fire sophomore outing reminds me an awful lot of season one of The X-Files. Maybe I’m dating myself. So be it. For what it’s worth, Beastwars probably have a higher budget.

“Realms” was the most striking impression made by Blood Becomes Fire — you might say I used the chorus for the headline of my review — and on an album of songs as big-sounding as those of Beastwars, it’s a remarkable achievement. Likewise, the video is the latest in a series of grand visual statements from the self-releasing four-piece, whose commitment to presentation is also plain to see in the cover art of their two to-date full-lengths. Still, as aware as they are of the need to draw the eye, that takes nothing away from their propensity both to bludgeon tonally or catch listeners with infectious hooks. Most of all, “Realms” proves that, and the video draws together the best of both worlds to one righteous package.

And while you’re chuckling at the fact that I just said “righteous package” without a hint of irony, get yourself abducted by Beastwars‘ video for “Realms” below:

Beastwars, “Realms” official video

Beastwars Release New Video feat. Alien Abduction // Astral Travel // Parallel Dimensions

New Zealand sludge rockers Beastwars are proud to present the brand new clip for “Realms” from their critically acclaimed new album Blood Becomes Fire.

The Hamish Waterhouse directed video explores the idea of astral travel, alien abduction and parallel dimensions coexisting in suburbia.

Beastwars are about to begin a New Zealand tour then perform at the Big Day Out festival in Auckland alongside Pearl Jam and Ghost B.C. before returning to Australia in early 2014.

Beastwars on Thee Facebooks

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Beastwars Unveil New Video for “Dune”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 2nd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

If you’ve ever seen a video before from New Zealand h-e-a-v-y heavies Beastwars (the one for “Empire” from their first album comes to mind, with “Tower of Skulls” following soon after), you know they go all out. Earlier this year, the band released their sophomore outing, Blood Becomes Fire (review here), and the clip they’ve put together for the three-minute “Dune” from the album only highlights how epic the Wellington four-piece can make three minutes sound. Also in this case, look. If the animated style wasn’t enough, nothing pushes “epic” over the top like a giant sloth.

The gritty psychedelic visuals of “Dune” were made by Skyranch.tv with funding from NZ on Air. Beastwars head to Australia for some shows in Melboune next month, and you’ll find the dates in the release included with the video below. Enjoy:

Beastwars, “Dune” official video

Beastwars Release New Video feat. a T-Rex, Giant Sloths…

…a flying motorbike, viking longship, army tanks and a traveler lost deep in time and space. They all make an appearance in this brand new video from New Zealand’s Beastwars.

Director Simon Ward of SKYRANCH says “We approached the video as an animated comic, reminiscent of Heavy Metal magazine or something straight out of a Ralph Bakshi film. We were going for something quite otherworldly and weird with a buzzy time travel story.”

“Dune” is the opening track from the critically acclaimed album Blood Becomes Fire which was released in April. Click here for the clip: http://youtu.be/CIZQHR6-Ngg

Beastwars have just announced more Australian shows this September and an appearance at the Big Day Out festival in Auckland alongside Pearl Jam and Ghost B.C.

Tour dates:
MELBOURNE
Thursday, September 26: The Espy
Friday, September 27: The Tote
Saturday, September 28: The Bendigo Hotel
Sunday, September 29: The Barwon Club – Geelong
AUCKLAND – Big Day Out – Friday, January 17: Western Springs Stadium

Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire (2013)

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Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire: This is a Temple

Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Beastwars are not a band who do anything small. From their massive-sounding production, to the epic themes in their songs, to the scale of their artwork, the Wellington, New Zealand, foursome operate in one mode, and that mode is huge. Even in the quiet, brooding moments of their second self-released LP, Blood Becomes Fire, on the title-track for example, or the earlier “Rivermen,” they retain an imposing sensibility, pushing sludge riffs, noise crunch and modern doom atmospherics in songs that — contrary to what one would almost certainly expect unless they encountered Beastwars‘ 2011 self-titled debut (review here) — only once pass the five-minute mark and never wander far from a discernible structure. Pace varies more than mood on the vinyl-ready 39-minute/10-track offering, and Blood Becomes Fire is almost universally aggressive, but as big as they go sonically, Beastwars — vocalist Matt Hyde, guitarist Clayton Anderson, bassist James Woods and drummer Nathan Hickey — don’t give in to metallic chestbeating. As they did on the self-titled, Hyde ‘s vocals convey a persistent drama through a deceptively varied array of clean lines and harsher growls, and that in combination with Anderson‘s riffing, Woods‘ at-the-forefront low end and Hickey‘s plodding stomp is more than enough to get the point across of their dominance. As a unit, they work with vicious efficiency and even more than their first offering, Blood Becomes Fire is an individualized show of their potency and memorable songwriting. It is stylistically consistent with its predecessor, but an all-around more developed collection, and one that’s been met with considerable critical hyperbole and “album of the year”-type praise. That was true of the first record as well, and an accordingly sizable response seems fitting for an outfit so bent on sonic grandiosity, but whatever laurels have been placed on Beastwars’ collective head, they deliver on Blood Becomes Fire a full-length that seems less concerned with exciting critics and more about bashing skulls in the live sphere. Certainly the instrumental and vocal hooks alike speak to that, and if it’s a signal of the band’s affinity for staging their material, it’s only served to make them a tighter, crisper unit.

The album impresses even unto its symmetry. Ten tracks are split easily into two vinyl sides with the three-minute “Dune” leading off at a faster clip, taking a winding verse riff and opening it to a bigger chorus topped with Hyde’s harsh, sometimes Kirk Windsteinian snarling. Woods’ bass does a lot of the work in filling out the opener, but the guitars are still at the fore sonically with the drums and vocals cutting through. Beastwars change the feel between the tracks enough so that “Dune” doesn’t quite hint at everything they have to offer throughout, but it’s an effective start for Blood Becomes Fire all the same and builds momentum that they carry through to the subsequent “Imperium,” the second longest cut at 4:36 and built around a nasty, crushing groove, Anderson and Woods not so much fighting for prominence as uniting at the front to pummel together. Stops in the bridge lead to some double-kick from Hickey, and Hyde maintains an almost indecipherable guttural gnash vocally, rasping out lines in rhythmic time before slipping back into the tonal assault from whence he came. Just before three minutes in, he moves into a jarring, higher-pitched scream that signals the height of the track’s push – Anderson follows soon on guitar and Hyde moves up on bass as well, mounting a swirl that they skillfully take back to the initial groove, Hickey cutting to half-time on the drums to march the way out. A noise rock – that’s not to say AmRep, not knowing if it’s actually an influence or coincidence of sound – bite shows up in “Tower of Skulls,” mostly in Woods’ tone, but also in the cyclical lurch of the riff, though Hyde’s vocals and the midpoint surge of melody give that noise a different context that emphasizes Beastwars’ ability to take something familiar and make it their own. Following an uptempo bridge, they hit the brakes and Anderson layers a lead into the verse riff to serve as a bookending outro, leading to the darker “Realms,” which offers some middle ground between the more impact-minded crushers and the moody side A closer, “Rivermen” to come. More subdued initially in its vocals, feedback and drum thud meter out an underlying threat that comes to bear in an impressive – if short at 3:04 – linear build, Hyde shouting out memorable repetitions based around the line “This is a temple.” So it may be. He brings the instruments with him to a manic wash, the song cutting short to let “Rivermen” start slow.

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If You Only Buy 24 Records Between Now and May 1…

Posted in Features on March 12th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

…Yeah, I know, 24 is a buttload of records to buy in the span of about a month and a half. To do the division, it would mean buying a new album every 2.04 days. Probably not feasible in terms of time, let alone budget, but hell, it’s a nice thought and seeing the onslaught of new stuff coming between now and the end of April, I thought maybe a list would help keep it all straight. Even if I’m only helping myself, I could probably spend my time in worse ways.

Worth noting that even with 24 albums, presented below in order of release, I feel like there’s stuff I’m forgetting. Frankly, it’s an overwhelming amount of material, so if I’ve missed something or there’s something you’d like to see added to the list, as always, that’s why there’s a comments feature.

Okay. These are numbered just for fun, but listed by date:

1. Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Fans (March 12)

My understanding is that London’s foremost doom scoundrels, none other than Orange Goblin, have been selling copies of A Eulogy for the Fans since starting their US tour with Clutch on March 8 in Cincinnati, Ohio, but today is the official release date, and I can think of no better place to start than with the four-piece’s ferocious performance at the 2012 Bloodstock festival, captured audio and video in all its bloodsoaked glory. Not to be missed or taken lightly because it’s a live record. Album review here.

2. Borracho, Mob Gathering 7″ (March 13)


Even though it’s comprised of older tracks, the new Mob Gathering 7″ from Borracho is welcome by me for two reasons: I’ve never heard the songs before and Borracho rocks. The Washington D.C.-based riffers recorded “Mob Gathering” and “Short Ride (When it’s Over)” in 2009 and are set to release the cuts on a limited platter in black and orange swirl through Spain’s Ghost Highway Recordings and Germany’s No Balls Records. They’ve been playing live as a mostly-instrumental outfit while guitarist/vocalist Noah is out of the country on what I can only assume is an awesome spy mission, so if you need a Borracho fix — and it’s obvious from the way your hands are shaking that you do — this might be the way to go. More info here.

3. Inter Arma, Sky Burial (March 15)


Like Windhand below, Inter Arma are recent Relapse Records signees from Richmond, Virginia, and Sky Burial will serve as their first release for the label. Literally and figuratively, the album is expansive, topping 69 minutes and pummeling the whole way through with a genre-transcending concoction of bleakness that’s not so much aligned to any particular heavy aesthetic so much as it is set to its own atmospheric purposes. Through this, Inter Arma emerge terrifyingly cohesive where many others would falter, and their second LP behind 2010’s Sundown (review here) leaves a progressive impression despite an almost complete lack of sonic pretense. Mostly, it’s fucking heavy. Track stream and info here.

4. Clutch, Earth Rocker (March 19)


If 2013 ended tomorrow, Clutch‘s Earth Rocker would be my album of the year. That’s not saying the situation will be the same nine months from now when I actually start putting that list together (already dreading it), but as of March 12, it’s the cat’s pajamas and no foolin’. The long-running Marylanders outdid themselves and put together a surprisingly fast, energetic collection of songs that don’t forsake the bluesy tendencies of their last album, 2009’s Strange Cousins from the West, so much as they put some of the jamming on lockdown in favor of all-out pro-grade heavy rock and roll. The velocity is crucial and the wolfman is out, but it feels like the party’s just starting. Look for them on tour sometime between now and forever. Album review here.

5. Black Mare, Field of the Host (March 20)


Black Math Horseman and Ides of Gemini frontwoman Sera Timms (who’s also recently collaborated with Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce in the new outfit Zun) steps further out on her own with the solo-project Black Mare, from whom Field of the Host is the first album. Due March 20 on LP through The Crossing and on cassette through Breathe Plastic, limited in both cases and sure to be gone shortly after release if they’re not already taken through pre-orders. Fans of Timms‘ past works will be glad to hear the misty wash of melody and dreamy, somehow sad, languid roll of “Blind One,” for starters. Audio and info on the forum.

6. Kvelertak, Meir (March 26)


Short of setting themselves on fire, Norwegian triple-guitar six-piece Kvelertak did just about everything they could to get noticed in support of their 2010 self-titled debut LP (review here), and sure enough, their work paid off in getting signed to Roadrunner Records for all territories outside their native Scandinavia (where Indie Recordings holds sway) and trumpeting up a wave of anticipation for their second full-length, Meir. Their energetic, genre-crossing approach might not be for everybody, but the band have turned a lot of heads and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to find them on bigger tours this year with Roadrunner behind them. More info on the forum.

7. Black Pyramid, Adversarial (April 2)


This is actually the first time the Eli Wood cover art for Black Pyramid‘s Adversarial has been seen in full, so you know. The Hydro-Phonic Records release of the third Black Pyramid album and first to be fronted by guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard along with bassist David Gein and drummer Clay Neely punctuates the beginning of a new era for the Massachusetts trio. If the advance listen to closing track “Onyx and Obsidian” is anything to go by, they could very well be at their most potent yet, and though I’d hardly consider myself an impartial observer, as a fan of the band, this is one I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. More to come. Track stream here.

8. Moss, Horrible Night (April 2)


I’ve yet to hear the complete album, but UK trio Moss seem poised to surprise with a cleaner vocal approach on Horrible Night, their first offering since 2008’s impressive Sub Templum LP and two EPs in 2009, so in addition to wondering how they’ll pull it off, the level of the shift remains to be seen. That is, how big a deal is it? Should I call my mom? Is this something grandma needs to know about? Time will tell, but for it having been five years since the last time a Moss record reared its doomly head, it seems only fair to give the band a little breathing room on their evolution. More info and video here.

9. Mars Red Sky, Be My Guide EP (April 8)


How glad am I that French fuzz rockers Mars Red Sky have a new EP coming? Well, I’m not as happy that it’s coming as I am that it’s frickin’ awesome. The trio keep the weighted bass tones that gave so much depth to their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but they’ve also clearly set to work expanding the formula as well, adding stomp to second track “Seen a Ghost” and an eerie repetitive sense to side B closer “Stranger,” while also broadening their melodic reach and taking claim of whichever side of the line they want between fuzz rock and heavy psychedelia while remaining so much more to the ears than either genre descriptor can offer to the eyes. At half an hour, my only complaint with it is it’s not a full-length album. Video trailer and info here.

10. Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era (April 9)


A sample of the poet Ron Whitehead — who also featured on Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s late-2012 debut EP for Tee Pee Records, The Storm Generation (review here) — comes to clarity just in time for the gonzo Boomer poet to let us all know that, “America is an illusion” (that may be, but it’s an illusion with an army of flying killer robots), and from there, the youngin’ desert transplants embark on a low-end-heavy freakout topped with sweet surf rock guitars and set to use in intricate, sometimes surprisingly jagged, rhythmic dances. Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson guests, Scott Reeder produced. Review is forthcoming, but till then, there’s more info here.

11. Devil to Pay, Fate is Your Muse (April 9)


Fate is Your Muse serves not only as Indianapolis rockers Devil to Pay‘s Ripple Music debut, but also as the double-guitar foursome’s first outing since 2009’s Heavily Ever After. With tales of lizardmen attacks and the alleged end of the world, it’s got its fair share of personality, and set to the chugging riffs, melodic vocals and straightforward heavy grooves, that personality still goes a long way. I’ll have a review up before this week is out (I hope), but still, I wanted to make sure to include Devil to Pay here too, since their songs command both attention and respect. To wit, I just can’t seem to get “This Train Won’t Stop” out of my head. Video and info here.

12. Cough & Windhand, Reflection of the Negative Split (April 15)


Virginian doomers Cough and Windhand share a hometown in Richmond, a love of volume, a bassist in Parker Chandler and now a label in Relapse Records, so yeah, a split makes sense. Reflection of the Negative will be Windhand‘s first release through Relapse ahead of their sophomore full-length, scheduled for later this year (info here). For Cough, this split marks their first outing since 2010’s An Introduction to the Black Arts split with UK masters The Wounded Kings (review here), and they’ll present the 18-minute “Athame,” while Windhand bring forth “Amaranth” and “Shepherd’s Crook.” More info here.

13. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Mind Control (April 15)


What the last Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats album, 2011’s Blood Lust (semi-review here), did so well was capture the atmosphere and the grainy imagery of late ’60s/early ’70s psychedelic horror and put it into audio form. For that, Blood Lust earned massive praise, but I still think that without the central core of songwriting underneath the genre trappings, it would’ve fallen flat. When it comes to Mind Control, the question waiting to be answered is if the band wants to stick to the blueprint they’ve established or go brazenly into uncharted weirdness. I’m not really sure they can lose, either way. Info and music here.

14. Kadavar, Abra Kadavar (April 16)


Their debut on new label Nuclear Blast and the quick-arriving answer to my pick for 2012 debut of the year, Abra Kadavar arrives with plenty of anticipation leading the way. The retro-rocking German trio have their work cut out for them in following that self-titled, but however it turns out in the comparison, it will be fascinating to learn how Kadavar develops the band’s sound and whether or not they prove able to push the boundaries of their aesthetic while simultaneously setting a new standard for promo photos. New video here.

15. Spiritual Beggars, Earth Blues (April 16)


I guess when it comes to these long-running Swedes, everybody’s got their favorite lineup, their favorite tunes, etc., but for me, I’m just impressed that Michael Amott — now more than 20 years on from starting Spiritual Beggars as a side-project while still in grindcore pioneers Carcass — still has any interest in keeping the classic rock Hammond-loving outfit grooving. Their last outing, 2010’s Return to Zero (review here), was the first to feature vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, formerly of Firewind, and though those songs were solid, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re more settled in on Earth Blues when it drops via InsideOut Music on April 16. More info on the forum.

16. Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire (April 19)


Alternating between periods of brooding intensity and all-out crushing heaviness, the second full-length from New Zealand’s Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire, is nasty, nasty, nasty. It’s nasty when it’s quiet and it’s nasty when it’s loud. It’s the kind of record you put on and you’re like, “Damn that’s nasty.” And you’re not wrong. The four-piece — touring shortly with Unida — upped their game even from 2011’s self-titled debut (review here), and for anyone who heard that record, you know that’s saying something. I’m still in the “getting to know it” phase, but so far all that nasty feels pretty right on. More info here.

17. Ghost, Infestissumam (April 19)


Man, this one just kind of happened, huh? I suck — and I mean S-U-C-K suck — at keeping up with band hype. I’m the dude who hears the record three months later and goes, “Yeah, I guess that’s cool,” as countless reviews here can attest, including the one for Ghost‘s 2010 debut, Opus Eponymous, but with the Swedish cult heavyweights, all of a sudden I turned around and blamo, major label deal, semi-name change to Ghost B.C., and enough slathering over the impending Infestissumam to make the first album seem like less than the hyperbole it was treated to initially. Funny how that happens. Out in April? I’m sure I’ll review in June and go, “Yeah, I guess that’s cool.” More info on the forum.

18. One Inch Giant, The Great White Beyond (April 19)


Now signed to Soulseller Records, Swedish heavy rockers One Inch Giant will unveil their debut full-length on April 19 and as three of my favorite words in the English language are “Swedish heavy rockers,” I’m excited to find out how this Gothenburg four-piece follow-up their Malva EP, and if they can capture some of the extreme dynamic they brought to their live show when they toured the US last summer — a run of shows that included a stop at SHoD. Hard not to pull for a band after they come over to play club dates. More info and music here.

19. The Heavy Co., Midwest Electric (April 20)


It was actually the other day writing about The Heavy Co.‘s Midwest Electric that I had the idea for this feature, so however high the profile might be for some of these albums — Ghost walks by on their way to cash a check — it was these unpretentious Hoosier rockers and their new outing, Midwest Electric, that started me off. From what I’ve heard so far, the new collection sounds a little more confident in exploring psychedelia than did the trio’s 2011 debut EP, The Heavy (Please Tune In…) (review here), so I’m looking forward to hearing if and how that plays out over the course of the whole thing. Video trailer here.

20. Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man (April 23)


I have an interview slated for later this week with Gozu guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, and I’m even more excited for this time than I was when we last spoke, around their 2009 Small Stone debut, Locust Season (review here), since in everything but its goofball song titles, the sophomore outing marks a huge developmental step in the band’s melodic reach and songwriting chemistry. Stay tuned for that interview and check out the Bandcamp stream included with the album review here.

21. Yawning Man & Fatso Jetson, European Tour Split 7″ (April 26)


Note: I don’t actually know that April 26 is the day that what’s sure to be 2013’s most desert-rocking split is due to arrive, I just know that it’s Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man‘s European tour split, and that’s the day the Euro dates start — with performances at Desertfests London and Berlin, to be more specific. Given both the greatness of Fatso Jetson‘s last record, 2010’s Archaic Volumes (review here), and of Yawning Man‘s own 2010 outing, Nomadic Pursuits (review here), the bands’ shared lineage and the relative infrequency of their touring, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to hope that, even for a single, they pull out all the stops. And starts. And riffs. More info on the forum.

22. Serpent Throne, Brother Lucifer (April 29)


Philly-based instrumental heavy rockers Serpent Throne will follow-up 2010’s White Summer/Black Winter (review here) with Brother Lucifer, and while no one can ever really know what to expect, it’s a safe bet that the dual-guitar outfit will have the solos front and center once again. Having seen them do a couple new songs back in December, I can’t blame them in the slightest. Looking forward to letting these songs sink in for a while and having those solos stuck in my head. Track stream here.

23. Melvins, Everybody Loves Sausages (April 30)


Hey wow, a Melvins covers album. Finally, an opportunity for the band to let their hair down and go wild a bit, right? I mean, at long last, they can really feel free to indulge a little and explore their musical roots in a free and creative way. Okay, you get the point. In all seriousness, it’s a pretty cool idea and anything that teams the Melvins with Scott Kelly to do a Venom song is probably going to be a worthy cause. The most amazing part of it is they haven’t already done a version of “Black Betty.” More info on the forum.

24. Revelation, Inner Harbor (April 30)


Their most progressive outing yet and their first album since 2009, Revelation‘s Inner Harbor (review here) is bound to surprise some who thought they knew what to expect from the Maryland doom stalwarts who double as the classically rocking Against Nature. Good thing Inner Harbor had a digital release last year through the band’s Bland Hand Records to act as a precursor to this Shadow Kingdom CD issue. Rumor has it vinyl’s on the way as well, so keep an eye out, since John Brenner‘s guitar tone should be heard on as natural-sounding an apparatus as possible. More info here.

Okay, so you’re saying to yourself, “Golly, that’s a lot of stuff.” You’re absolutely right. But even as I was typing up this feature, I got word of a new Queen Elephantine full-length coming in April, so even as much as this is, it’s not everything. And that’s not even to mention May, which will bring a new Shroud Eater EP, a new Kylesa record and a new Mark Lanegan collaboration, among however much else. Tons of stuff to keep your ears out for, and like I said way back at the top of this thing, if you have something to add, a comment’s always appreciated.

Thanks for reading.

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Beastwars’ New Album Blood Becomes Fire Available for Pre-Order; Tour Dates with Unida

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 6th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Following up the thunder wrought by their 2011 self-titled debut, New Zealand’s Beastwars will release their sophomore outing, Blood Becomes Fire, on April 19. To celebrate the release, the four-piece are hitting the road alongside Unida (the two are also doing a gig with Truckfighters, which is a show I’d very much like to see), and before they get to that, they’ve made Blood Becomes Fire available to pre-order on a special site they put up in the album’s honor. Needless to say for anybody who heard the self-titled (review here), but this is one to look forward to.

Get yourself informed:

BEASTWARS – Blood Becomes Fire – 19 April 2013

In 2011, sludge metallers Beastwars transformed New Zealand’s heavy music scene with their internationally acclaimed, multi-award-nominated debut. On 19 April 2013, the Wellington-based four-piece return with their highly anticipated new album, Blood Becomes Fire.

Abiding by Beastwars’ own steadfast maxim, ‘Obey the Riff’, Blood Becomes Fire features 10 songs that serve witness to the end of days, told through the eyes of a dying traveler from another time.

“It’s a reflection on mortality, death and disease. Sooner or later they come for all of us,” says vocalist Matt Hyde.

“It’s a heavy album, both sonically and lyrically,” says drummer Nathan Hickey, “but what solidifies it are the triumphant ‘fuck yeah’ riffs. To us, this music is like getting psyched up to go into battle. You could be at war with yourself, or someone else.”

Following a successful collaboration on Beastwars’ debut, Blood Becomes Fire was co-produced, recorded and mixed by Dale Cotton (HDU, Die! Die! Die!), mastered in California by John Golden (Neurosis, Swans, High on Fire), and features the art of Weta Workshop’s award-winning Nick Keller—whose mind-melting gatefold oil paintings depict a twisted world inspired by the aural artillery within.

Streaming audio samples and limited edition pre-order merch bundles of Blood Becomes Fire are available now at www.bloodbecomesfire.com. These include 100 gold and red LPs with gatefold art, which come with three special edition custom Beastwars guitar picks.

Following the release of Blood Becomes Fire, Beastwars will tour Australia and New Zealand supporting John Garcia’s post-Kyuss band, Unida, before headlining their own shows in May.

Tour Dates:
Auckland Saturday April 20th, Real Groovy Records instore performance (4pm)
Auckland Friday May 3rd, The Kings Arms with Unida
Wellington Saturday May 4th, Bodega with Unida
Sydney Friday May 10th, The Manning Bar with Unida and Truckfighters
Melbourne Sunday 12th, The Hi Fi with Unida

More dates to be announced.

Blood Becomes Fire Tracklisting
1. Dune
2. Imperium
3. Tower of Skulls
4. Realms
5. Rivermen
6. Caul of Time
7. Ruins
8. Blood Becomes Fire
9. Shadow King
10. The Sleeper

Beastwars
Clayton Anderson – Guitar
Nathan Hickey – Drums
Matt Hyde – Vocals
James Woods – Bass

http://www.facebook.com/beastwars666
http://www.beastwars.bandcamp.com

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