Opium Lord Sign to Sludgelord Records; Vore Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Yeah, that’ll do nicely. You don’t get too much of a sense of what Opium Lord might be up to with Vore from the new teaser clip posted to herald the album’s coming-soon status, but even the fuckall violent atmospheric threat is sitting pretty nicely as far as I’m concerned. File under “current mood.” The Birmingham-based five-piece will release the album later this year through Sludgelord Records following behind a 2016 split with Churchburn — any band that would dare stand up to that kind of aural hatefest must be onto something — and their 2015 debut, The Calendrical Cycle: Eye of Earth, which was issued by Candlelight amid some apparent discontent, as well as an initial EP the year prior. Seriously, the clip is only a minute long and you can check it out below. Just feel that misery.

No release date yet, but there’s time. We’ll get there. I included the track from the split in the meantime as well, for further digging if you’re so inclined.

Have at it:

opium lord (Photo by Stuart Lee-Tovey)

Opium Lord to Release Vore on Sludgelord Records

Birmingham misery soaked metal band Opium Lord joins Sludgelord Records for the release of their second album.

The band who started life in 2014 on Leeds based record label Thirty Days of Night Records via Candlelight Records and Dry Cough Records will join Sludgelord Records for the release of their 2nd album ‘Vore’ which will be released this year.

With their 1st album ‘The Calendrical Cycle: Eye of Earth’ selling out on Candlelight Records and Dry Cough Records the band now look forward to linking up with Sludgelord Records.

The band said “we are really chuffed to join Sludgelord Records, we obviously follow the magazine side of the label closely and we’ve found some amazing bands through that and we know how passionate they are about our little scene, so we know full well they will work really hard for us.”

“It’s been a tough few years for us and we’ve been a bit irritated with issues that were out of our hands in regards to releasing this album, waiting on people and being a little pissed around but we are just happy we can now move on and get it out so people can hear it, we are really proud of this record.”

Following the success off the back of their debut album it led them to multiple European tours including a North American tour with Primitive Man. Opium Lord also released a split 7” with former Grief and Vital Remains members Churchburn from Rhode Island.

On the forthcoming record ‘Vore’ they added “we worked with our friend Wayne Adams in London at Bear Bites Horse Studio and we are really happy with it, it’s a slight departure from our first record but we think people will get it – we also have a special guest from an artist we all really respect, but I don’t want to spoil who it is just yet.”

The band plan to tour the UK on release of the Vore, details on when the album will be released as follows.

Opium Lord is:
Nathan James Coyle
Adam Beckley
Bruce Goodenough
Luke Fewtrell
Simon Blewitt

https://www.facebook.com/opiumlord/
https://opiumlord.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SludgelordRecords/
http://instagram.com/sludgelordrecords
https://thesludgelord.bandcamp.com/

Opium Lord, Vore teaser

Opium Lord, “Control”

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Alunah Release Violet Hour Oct. 11; Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

alunah

We knew this news was coming last week when Alunah were announced as being picked up by Heavy Psych Sounds and the pre-sale date for their next record was given as this past Thursday. Violet Hour is the name of the record and it’ll be out Oct. 11. Preorders are indeed up right at this very moment, and I’m particularly interested to hear what it might sound like as not only will it be the band’s first album with Siân Greenaway on vocals — she also sang on last year’s Amber and Gold EP (review here) — but also with guitarist Dean Ashton, who plays bass in Diamond Head. Essentially they’ve revamped half the band since their last full-length, which is a considerable amount of change. How will that change the atmosphere, dynamic, theme, etc.? Well, the EP was a preview, but I look forward to finding out the real deal upon the album’s arrival, or preferably, before.

PR wire info follows here:

alunah violet hour

Heavy Psych Sounds to start the presale of ALUNAH new album VIOLET HOUR

ALBUM PRESALE: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS112

USA PRESALE via All That Is Heavy: https://allthatisheavy.com/search?type=product&q=alunah

RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 11th

On the back of last year’s critically acclaimed “Amber & Gold” EP, Alunah return with “Violet Hour”, the new album and first for Heavy Psych Sounds (Brant Bjork, Nebula, Nick Oliveri).

“Violet Hour” sees the energy of Alunah’s dark, doom tinged hard rock being cranked up with the arrival of guitarist Dean Ashton (bass, Diamond Head) alongside the soaring vocals of Sian Greenaway and rhythmic foundation of Dan Burchmore and Jake Mason. Recorded at the historic Welsh Foel Studio and produced by Chris Fielding (Conan, Electric Wizard, Primordial) the 8 tracks on display show the fruits of a productive early 2019 with a searing combination of melodies, riffs and focused writing. From the opening combination of “Trapped & Bound” and “Dance of Deceit” the album pulls the listener in to an ominous world brought to life by artist “Felipe Froeder – Arcano XV” and doesn’t let go until the brooding finale “Lake of Fire”.

With roots dating back to 2006 in “Sabbath City” UK and an evolution that has grown over four previous albums and numerous European tours/festival dates, the momentum now picks up the pace. A UK summer tour with The Obsessed and an appearance at this year’s prestigious Damnation Festival have just been confirmed with further live dates to TBA.

AVAILABLE IN :
40 ULTRA LTD TEST PRESS VINYL
250 LTD ORANGE Trasp. Background SPLATTER in Purple-Black-Blue VINYL
500 LTD PURPLE VINYL
BLACK VINYL
DIGIPAK
DIGITAL

TRACKLIST
Trapped & Bound
Dance of Deceit
Hunt
Hypnotised
Violet Hour
Unholy Disease
Velvet
Lake of Fire

UK tour w/The Obsessed:
17.7 Coventry The Arches
18.7 Glasgow Audio
19.7 Manchester Rebellion
20.7 Bristol Exchange

Alunah is:
Siân Greenaway – Vocals
Dean Ashton – Guitar
Daniel Burchmore – Bass
Jake Mason – Drums

http://www.facebook.com/alunah.doom
http://twitter.com/#!/alunah_doom
http://alunah.bandcamp.com
http://www.alunah.co.uk

Alunah, Amber and Gold (2018)

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Alunah Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds; Finish Recording New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I guess the first hint was when Alunah were confirmed for the Heavy Psych Sounds Fests in Berlin and Dresden, but now we have confirmation that the UK four-piece will release their next full-length through the label as well. Presales start on Thursday, so I expect another press release will follow then with the album title, cover, tracks, release date, and so on — maybe even a track to stream — but for now, the band put out word the other day that they’ve finished the recording process with Chris Fielding at Foel Studio, and the label has passed the news down the PR wire of the pickup, so much joy all around.

Alunah hit the road next month with The Obsessed, and those dates are below as well, along with the stream of their 2018 EP, Amber and Gold (review here).

Have at it:

alunah

Heavy Psych Sounds to announce a NEW BAND signing: UK doom rockers ALUNAH !!!

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS is proud to welcome a new member to their eclectic artist roster and family: UK hard doom rockers ALUNAH have signed a worldwide deal for a brand new album with the Italian cult label !!!

Says the band:

“The first half of this year has been an incredibly positive, creative and productive period for Alunah. We are therefore extremely honoured and excited for the resulting album to be coming out on Heavy Psych Sounds and to join a roster that features such inspirational artists. After a week in the idyllic Welsh countryside, our time at Foel Studio has come to a conclusion. As ever, it was an absolute pleasure to work with Chris Fielding and we are immensely happy with what we have created. Stay tuned for more news!”

NEW ALBUM PRESALE STARTS: JUNE 20th

On the back of last year’s critically acclaimed “Amber & Gold” EP, Alunah return with a brand new album, the first for Heavy Psych Sounds.

With roots dating back to 2006 in “Sabbath City” UK and an evolution that has grown over four previous albums and numerous European tours/festival dates, the momentum now picks up the pace. A UK summer tour with The Obsessed and an appearance at this year’s prestigious Damnation Festival have just been confirmed with further live dates to TBA.

UK tour w/The Obsessed:
17.7 Coventry The Arches
18.7 Glasgow Audio
19.7 Manchester Rebellion
20.7 Bristol Exchange

Alunah is:
Siân Greenaway – Vocals
Dean Ashton – Guitar
Daniel Burchmore – Bass
Jake Mason – Drums

http://www.facebook.com/alunah.doom
http://twitter.com/#!/alunah_doom
http://alunah.bandcamp.com
http://www.alunah.co.uk

Alunah, Amber and Gold (2018)

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Alunah Announce New Guitarist; UK Tour with The Obsessed

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

alunah

Something of a surprise announcement from UK doomers Alunah in that they’ve parted ways with original guitarist David Day and brought in Dean Ashton to fill that role. Of course, one recalls that late in 2017, the Birmingham-based outfit bid farewell to guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day — also a founding member — and subsequently brought aboard Siân Greenaway as a standalone singer making her first appearance on last year’s Amber and Gold EP (review here).

The departure of David Day is one more level of intrigue surrounding what will become of Alunah on aesthetic terms. The EP answered some of the questions how the change on vocalists might play out, but now of course there’s an entirely new level of mystery surrounding the band and what Ashton might bring to the fold.

They’ve got some choice live dates booked to start to answer that question, and reportedly there’s new label news forthcoming as well for their next album.

Here’s what they had to say:

alunah uk shows

Alunah are honoured to confirm we will be joining Doom Rock Pioneers The Obsessed on their July UK tour. These dates, alongside our previously announced appearance at Manor Fest with Orange Goblin, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons and a very special headline show at Birmingham O2 Academy3, will see us showcase material from our new album to be released later this year.

These upcoming shows will also feature our new guitarist and friend Dean Ashton (current bass player in NWOBHM legends Diamond Head). Some of you will already be aware that David Day left at the turn of the year to concentrate on life outside of the band and we wish him all the best for the future.

Those wishing to see Alunah prior to the above dates will be able to on March 22nd as we have been invited to join A Pale Horse Named Death at the London Islington O2 Academy2. As APHND, Type O Negative & Life Of Agony Famiglia fans this is again something we are very excited about.

Further details on the new Alunah album & label signing will follow shortly. As always, we thank our followers for the continued support and look forward hitting the road with new material once more.

Alunah UK shows:
22.3 London Islington 02 Academy 2 w/ A Pale Horse Named Death
17.5 Birmingham headline show 02 Academy 3
18.5 Bradford Manorfest w/ Orange Goblin

UK tour w/The Obsessed:
17.7 Coventry The Arches
18.7 Glasgow Audio
19.7 Manchester Rebellion
20.7 Bristol Exchange

Alunah is:
Siân Greenaway – Vocals
Dean Ashton – Guitar
Daniel Burchmore – Bass
Jake Mason – Drums

http://www.facebook.com/alunah.doom
http://twitter.com/#!/alunah_doom
http://alunah.bandcamp.com
http://www.alunah.co.uk

Alunah, Amber and Gold (2018)

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Friday Full-Length: Black Sabbath, Forbidden

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Black Sabbath, Forbidden (1995)

Even the most strident of Black Sabbath apologists have a tough time with Forbidden. Tony Iommi himself, who by the time 1995 came around had been at the core of the band as its founding guitarist for over 25 years and was the sole remaining original member, ragged on it pretty hard in his 2011 autobiography, Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. He went so far as to title the short chapter about it, “The One that Should’ve Been Forbidden,” and to blame the band’s record label at the time, IRS Records, for hooking them up with producer Ernie Cunnigan, aka Ernie C, guitarist of Body Count — who Iommi alleges wasn’t familiar with Black Sabbath at all — in an attempt to regain street cred. And while Iommi acknowledges that if it had worked, he’d probably feel differently about the record, he goes on to describe an unpleasant studio situation with drummer Cozy Powell before shifting into nonsequitor stories about pranks pulled on the subsequent tour. So maybe this is needless to say, but Forbidden isn’t necessarily Black Sabbath‘s finest hour.

To wit, 20 years earlier, the original lineup issued Sabotage as their sixth album in five years, which is a run the impact of which is still rippling outward today. Even the beginnings of the era in which the band was fronted by Tony Martin in 1987’s The Eternal Idol (discussed here) held promise for what the group might still accomplish — or at very least that they’d do right by the legacy they’d already built. Martin‘s tenure in Black Sabbath has the odd distinction of being interrupted when Iommi did a reunion with the band’s second vocalist, Ronnie James Dio, for 1992’s Dehumanizer (discussed here). Already in addition to The Eternal Idol, he’d appeared on 1989’s Headless Cross and 1990’s Tyr, so it was not a case of a one-and-done spot in the band as had been experienced by Glenn Hughes on the would’ve-been-an-Iommi-solo-record Seventh Star in 1986 or even Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan, let alone Ray Gillen and others who’d come and gone in the ’80s. Still, Sabbath‘s left turn was sudden with the Dio reunion — lest we forget that founding bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Vinny Appice also returned at that point and left again, the latter with Dio and the former after the band’s subsequent LP, 1994’s Cross PurposesMartin was back in two years for that album as well, but the next year, ’95, Forbidden would be his final outing with Black Sabbath.

So what happened, and is Forbidden really all that bad? Yes and no. I don’t think anyone is about to argue that its 11-track/47-minute run is a landmark like anything Sabbath in their original incarnation, or when they were fronted by Dio, or even that its held up with age as well as the Gillan-fronted 1983 outing, Born Again (discussed here) — to which history has been particularly kind — but neither is it to be entirely written black sabbath forbiddenoff as Iommi would seem to do in his book. Whatever his conflict in the studio, Powell (who would pass away three years later) gave a rousing performance on songs like “Loser Gets it All,” which closes, and the earlier “Sick and Tired.” Bassist Neil Murray stands in well for Butler and keyboardist Geoff Nichols (R.I.P. 2017) fleshes out Iommi‘s guitar with characteristic melodies that enhance the atmosphere of the record overall. But it was a weird time for metal. The genre had already survived the commercialism of glam and grunge by going underground, but a band like Black Sabbath — so long a major presence both on the touring circuit and in terms of influence — couldn’t really do that. And the idea of “classic metal” that would let Judas Priest and eventually Black Sabbath flourish well into the 2010s didn’t really exist yet. So they were in a position of either trying to keep up with the times or continue to ride a steady decline in wider relevance. Which I guess is how you get Ice-T doing a short spoken word appearance on Forbidden opener “The Illusion of Power.”

It’s hard to begrudge Iommi taking a stab at it, and however much he might disavow Forbidden now, the album does have enduring qualities. The single “Get a Grip” remains catchy with a strong performance from Martin over a trademark later-Iommi riff. Ballads “I Won’t Cry for You” and especially the six-minute “Kiss of Death” tend toward redundancy with other cuts from the Martin era, but still serve the purpose of adding diversity to the album, while “Rusty Angels” finds a kind of midpoint between that style and the grittier push of “Guilty as Hell” and “Sick and Tired,” which form a tandem in the middle of the record — recall it was the mid-’90s, so they would’ve been structuring for CD rather than vinyl — that holds resonant vitality, while the odd, jerky vocal patterning in “Shaking off the Chains” actually hearkens back to Black Sabbath‘s earliest days and the immediately prior “Can’t Get Close Enough” finds Martin doing his best in conjuring Dio‘s swagger and nearly getting there. There are ups and downs, as the title-track is mostly forgettable and “Kiss of Death” plays toward Sabbathian epics while landing well short thereof, but even “The Illusion of Power” stands as a demonstration that the band so often credited with codifying heavy metal was still willing at the time to try to make it do different things. There was precedent for metal/rap crossover, but it was still a risky proposition. I don’t know if it worked or not, but it’s especially bold that that track leads off the record, and for all the purported incongruity, Ernie C‘s production does well in contrasting some of the grandiosity in the band’s sound at that point and bringing them back down to earth. Onto the street. Where the cred happens.

Alright.

Those looking to further mine some positive aspects from Forbidden should also consider the fact that it was the album that led to Iommi‘s 1997 reunion with original vocalist Ozzy OsbourneButler, and original drummer Bill Ward and nearly two decades of touring on and off with Ward in and eventually finally out of the band owing to a contract dispute. Black Sabbath was finally laid to rest last year, but their 2013 studio album, 13 (review here), was widely hailed as a return to their past glories. That proposition, like everything, is debatable, but how could it not have been the flop of Forbidden that was at least in some part responsible for making that reunion happen?

I’ve been working over the course of the last year or so to reconcile myself and really explore what is more typically considered Sabbath‘s darker period in the Martin years. I don’t think I’d put on Forbidden before Headless Cross or Tyr, but neither should it be entirely discounted. It’s emblematic of the time in which it was made, and for 18 years, it stood as the last Black Sabbath studio full-length. That in itself makes it all the more worthy of consideration.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Next week, Quarterly Review. It’s about quarter to 5AM right now, and after I finish this post I’m going to make the banner image and set up the back end for the posts. It’s a double-size deal. 100 records in 10 days, because if you’ll recall, we missed the Fall one owing to that whole I-got-robbed thing.

I have some premieres slated besides that — actually, I just got hit up for a full album stream on Wednesday that I really, really want to do, but a full review aside from 10 shorter ones? oof — for videos and the like, but as it’s still coming together and the point is that it’s the Quarterly Review, you’ll pardon me if I skip the notes. I’ve been doing that more lately. Should I stop doing the notes altogether? Does anyone care? I’m asking, really. If you get a second and have any idea what I’m talking about, please leave a comment.

You may have also noticed the Year-End Poll is up! I’m stoked. Get stoked. Add your list. Tell two friends to add their list, and then have them tell two more friends, and so on. I’d love to see this one really do well. It’s been a hell of a year for music.

And while I’m plugging stuff, this Sunday is a new episode of ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Radio. I spend the whole episode talking with Mike Cummings from Backwoods Payback, who is awesome. He picks tracks and some of it is pretty out there, so I hope you enjoy. 7PM Eastern on Sunday night. Listen at http://gimmeradio.com.

Ah hell, the baby’s awake. It’s early. I hope he goes back down or this is going to be a rough day. Yesterday — ugh.

If you dig what’s going on with the site, please buy a shirt from Dropout Merch. The sales have slowed down a bit since the start, but as I hate doing merchandise in the first place, I really want to get rid of what’s there so I don’t have to think about it anymore. They’re at http://dropoutmerch.com/the-obelisk.

That’s it for me. I gotta go stare stressfully at the baby monitor and then diaper, feeding, day, etc. Have a great and safe weekend. Thanks for reading and please hit up the forum, radio stream, merchandise, and so on.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Alunah Premiere Title-Track of New EP Amber & Gold; Limited Release Due Nov. 16

Posted in audiObelisk on October 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

alunah

Having started playing shows together late last year, it only makes sense that UK doom rockers Alunah would want to test the breadth of their new lineup in the studio as well. Thus arrives on Nov. 16 the limited self-release vinyl/digital EP Amber & Gold comprised of an instrumental introduction, two new original songs and a cover of Chris Isaak‘s “Wicked Game” that mark the first recorded appearance of the band with new frontwoman Siân Greenaway at the mic. Both the title-track and “Awn” make for a fitting showcase for Greenaway‘s integration with the lineup of guitarist David Day, bassist Dan Burchmore and drummer Jake Mason, and as the group move past their latest full-length, 2017’s Solennial (review here), they seem poised as well at the precipice of a new era with Greenaway taking the place of former guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day.

It is not a minor replacement. For a decade, Soph was a major factor in Alunah‘s sound and lyrical aesthetic. Greenaway does not shy from the task before her in these tracks. Instead, as the opening “Mångata” builds tension across its two and a half minutes leading into the title-cut, she steps forward and cuts through the chugging riff around her and a lead guitar line with immediate command and melodic presence. Richalunah amber and gold with vibrato and an almost goth sensibility, to some of her semi-spoken verses, she nonetheless suits the rolling groove of the chorus fluidly, and as the song dips into a psychedelic bridge in its second half, she meets the drift head on in a manner that provides a human foundation and cleverly sets the stage for a return to the hook, which, as is Alunah‘s wont, is top grade. “Awn” follows suit with a more patient unfolding and arrangement of layers, with Mason‘s drums assuring the signature bounce of Alunah‘s rhythms is maintained through the verse as Burchmore‘s thickened tone provides familiar warmth and Day peppers in solos for accent between verses.

That Alunah would come out of these two originals sounding so much like Alunah is something of a relief for someone who’s a fan — as I am — but Greenaway makes an impression here as well, and it’s clear the band are looking to expand their sound in multiple directions even as they hold onto some familiar aspects of their approach. About the Chris Isaak cover: Alunah actually aren’t the first heavy band to take on “Wicked Game.” I believe that honor goes to Slow Horse circa 1999, but it well suits the largesse of tone Alunah bring to it, and the brooding vocals take on a sultry tone despite reminding of the kind of atmosphere Type O Negative might bring to such a cover.

As to what Alunah will do next, I haven’t a clue. I didn’t know there was an EP in the works until last week, so obviously I’ve got zilch as regards the inside track. Even so, if Amber & Gold is laying the groundwork for an eventual first full-length with Greenaway in the lineup, they only sound ready for it in these tracks. They have live dates set for the next couple months and presumably more plans for 2019 after that. We’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds.

Burchmore offered some comment on the EP, and you’ll find other info below, including the preorder link. Right under the player where you can hear the premiere of “Amber & Gold” itself, which it’s my distinct pleasure to host.

Enjoy:

Dan Burchmore on Amber & Gold:

Siân joining the band really opened up the potential for how our sound could change. She already had some idea of the direction her lyrical themes would take us, and that helped when we were constructing the songs. When it came to writing for the EP we wanted to capitalise on that, so when we were in the studio it was important that the different nuances and new energy of the songs could be heard clearly and that Siân was putting her stamp on this new definition of Alunah.

Alunah, Amber & Gold tracklist:
1. Mångata
2. Amber & Gold
3. Awn
4. Wicked Game

Preorder: http://alunah.bandcamp.com/album/amber-gold

Alunah live:
21.10 The Frog and Fiddle Cheltenham UK w/ Diamond Head
27.10 The Angel Microbrewery Nottingham UK
03.11 The Green Room Welwyn Garden City UK
10.11 Doom Over Vienna XIII Vienna AT
17.11 Asylum 2 Birmingham UK*
24.11 Temple of Boom Leeds UK
01.12 Pilgrims Pit Stoke UK
08.12 The Swan Ipswich UK

Alunah is:
Siân Greenaway – Vocals
David Day – Guitar
Daniel Burchmore – Bass
Jake Mason – Drums

Alunah on Thee Facebooks

Alunah on Twitter

Alunah on Instagram

Alunah on Bandcamp

Alunah webstore

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Alunah Announce Fall Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

alunah

UK forest doomers Alunah are getting ready over the next couple months to bookend their Spring 2018 tour with a string of shows through late-October and the rest of the year. They’ll support Diamond Head on Oct. 21 in Cheltenham, and on Nov. 10 travel to Austria to appear at Doom Over Vienna XIII alongside the respected likes of Apostle of Solitude, Castle, Iron Void, and others. That’s their only non-UK appearance this time around, and it’s not a one-into-the-next kind of tour so much as shows spaced out across different weeks, but a solid way for Alunah to round out 2018 as they continue to move toward their inevitable next album, which will be their first with vocalist Siân Greenaway in the lineup.

I seem to recall hearing at some point the plan was to get a record out in 2019, though that might just be wishful thinking. Somehow Alunah seem to wind up on my most-anticipated list every year, no matter what. Probably because they’re awesome. Yeah, I bet that’s it.

They announced the gigs on social media thusly:

alunah tour

This Autumn we will be heading out on these selected dates around the UK, with the exception of a brief jaunt in Europe to play Doom over Vienna – the Austrian Doom Metal Fest! We will be playing with some great bands including the legendary Diamond Head, and battle-hardened doomsters Conan. We can’t wait to get out and about and bring the heavy! We hope to see lots of friends too.

Tour artwork by Joe McEvoy Artwork. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Parry.

For more information visit www.alunah.co.uk

Alunah live:
21.10 The Frog and Fiddle Cheltenham UK w/ Diamond Head
27.10 The Angel Microbrewery Nottingham UK
03.11 The Green Room Welwyn Garden City UK
10.11 Doom Over Vienna XIII Vienna AT
17.11 Asylum 2 Birmingham UK*
24.11 Temple of Boom Leeds UK
01.12 Pilgrims Pit Stoke UK
08.12 The Swan Ipswich UK

Alunah is:
Siân Greenaway – Vocals
David Day – Guitar
Daniel Burchmore – Bass
Jake Mason – Drums

http://www.facebook.com/alunah.doom
http://twitter.com/#!/alunah_doom
http://alunah.bandcamp.com
http://www.alunah.co.uk
http://www.svartrecords.com

Alunah, “White Hoarhound” live at Sludgefest, Aug. 3, 2018

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Friday Full-Length: Black Sabbath, Dehumanizer

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Black Sabbath, Dehumanizer (1992)

It’s both funny-ha-ha and funny-strange to think of it now, but Black Sabbath were old men in 1992. Think of what else was going on at the time. Dehumanizer, the band’s first studio full-length with Ronnie James Dio as frontman since 1981’s Mob Rules (discussed here), came out on June 30. On Sept. 24 the year prior, Nirvana released their breakthrough second LP, Nevermind, and in Sept. ’92, Alice in Chains would help solidify what became the “grunge era” along with Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and a 100,000 others who suddenly decided flannel and ripped jeans was a really good idea. Even as its more extreme forms — death, black, even doom if one thinks of it in the Peaceville sense of the word — were beginning to hit their vital prime in the underground, in the commercial sphere, metal was staid and overblown. Would bringing back a singer who’d fronted the band a decade earlier really do any favors for the past-trend Black Sabbath? Hindsight argues yes, it can and did.

Looking back on Dehumanizer some 26 years later, it’s easy to see the effect it had on Black Sabbath in general. They were never going to recapture the groundbreaking moment that was their early years. Simply couldn’t happen. The ’70s were long over, metal had codified into a varied rock and roll subgenre, and the band’s own production value and stylistic drive had shifted — as heard even before they parted ways with original frontman Ozzy Osbourne, let alone got Dio in for the first time on 1980’s landmark, Heaven and Hell (discussed here). What Dehumanizer allowed Black Sabbath — spearheaded as it always was by guitarist Tony Iommi, with co-founder Geezer Butler on bass and returned drummer Vinny Appice — to look back while moving forward. It was the first time they’d done so, and a decent portion of their career to come would be spent in that modus. Long since mature in their approach, Dehumanizer appealed in songs like “Computer God,” “TV Crimes,” “Time Machine” — lest we forget the Wayne’s World soundtrack — and “I” to Black Sabbath‘s established audience. A little older, but still wanting a metallic crunch in their guitars and still ready to groove on an Iommi riff. Dio, who’d spent the 10 years prior fronting his solo band and thereby helping to chart the course of ’80s metal with a string of hits across an essential first three albums-plus, was already the voice of classic metal even as “classic metal” first became a thing. On Dehumanizer, Black Sabbath took these established principles and brought them together with an approach that was modern in its production and presentation, and still allowed for a sense of rawness in the delivery.

That can be heard in the careening verses of “TV Crimes” or in the thudding and rolling highlight “After All (The Dead),” as each black sabbath dehumanizerpunch of snare from Appice seems the punctuation of a stomp Black Sabbath had never before elicited. Melody of course was central, on “After All (The Dead)” and the single “Master of Insanity” as well as “Time Machine” and the later “Sins of the Father” and “I,” but where Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules both seemed to carry over some of Iommi‘s late-’70s progressive aspirations, a decade later, Black Sabbath sounded fully assured of who they were as a unit, knew what their sound was at the time and how to capture it. They’d of course been doing so for years at that point on the 1986 would’ve-been Iommi solo album, Seventh Star and the beginning of the Tony Martin-fronted era in 1987’s The Eternal Idol (discussed here), 1989’s Headless Cross and 1990’s Tyr — all of which followed the Sabbath-meets-DeepPurple experiment that was 1983’s Born Again (discussed here) — and though it’s almost too easy to read this stretch as a descent into mediocrity, it served as a defining moment for Iommi in terms of style. The guitarist who’d helped to create metal learned what metal was during this time and began to find his place in it. His style of riffing became less bluesy, took away some of the progressive edge, and learned that sometimes the raw force of a riff was enough to carry a piece.

Some of that can be heard on Dehumanizer as well, on the brook-no-argument side A with “Computer God” — the lyrics both prescient and quaint over a quarter-century later — and “After All (The Dead),” as well as in the reaches of a less-immediate side B, which is bolstered by “I,” but requires deeper listening to “Too Late” or closer “Buried Alive,” the last of which is anticlimactic on the first impression but unfolds over time to be deceptively memorable. Dehumanizer was never going to be classic Sabbath, and it wasn’t intended to be. It was a pivot that not only helped recapture the mutually-beneficial-if-personally-tumultuous relationship between Iommi and Dio, but gave the band’s mature approach a kick as only the latter could provide. Sure, it was just one record and then Iommi and Butler would be back with Tony Martin and drummer Bobby Rondinelli for 1994’s Cross Purposes — both Butler and Rondinelli would be gone for 1995’s Forbidden — but one has to wonder if the late-’90s reunion with Ozzy, Butler and original drummer Bill Ward would’ve happened in the way it did had Dehumanizer not blazed that trail of getting back together with a former vocalist. Arguably, between touring with Osbourne and reuniting again with Dio in the late ’00s, first as Black Sabbath for new material on the The Dio Years compilation and then as the offshoot unit Heaven and Hell, whose lone studio album, The Devil You Know (review here), came out in 2009.

The death of Ronnie James Dio in 2010 and Tony Iommi‘s battle with cancer — he won, with riffs — seemed to drive Black Sabbath back together minus Bill Ward for the 2013 album, 13 (review here), and subsequent years of (alleged) retirement touring that wrapped with a hometown show in the band’s long-ago hometown of Birmingham, England, last year. A fitting enough end if it really was the end, I suppose. That’s what they called the live album, anyway: The End. Nowhere to go after that except The Epilogue, which would invariably be something of a comedown.

Either way, Black Sabbath remain unparalleled legends in doom, in metal and in the creation of what has come to be known as “heavy” in general. Dehumanizer is one of several outings in their catalog that served as a pivot point as they moved from one era to the next, and though its sound is inevitably a standout from the two original Dio-era albums, it’s a more than worthy addition to that catalog and, of course, essential listening.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Today’s Friday, right? Shit I hope so.

I’m in Massachusetts as of yesterday afternoon, hope to be leaving again as of this afternoon. Here just long enough to take out the recycling and try — probably fail — to obtain a new driver’s license. Yesterday we came up from Connecticut, today we’re going back, and then either Saturday or Sunday, depending largely on the weather and The Pecan — who’s even less predictable at this point — back down to New Jersey for I hope at least a full week. It would be nice to be someplace for a full week.

Not the least because there are no fewer than six shows I want to hit in various spots in the next two weeks. Next Friday, Saturday, Sunday, in order: Sasquatch at Saint Vitus, Backwoods Payback in New London, CT, and Bible of the Devil in Manhattan. Then, the week after: Sleep in Brooklyn, Acid King & Geezer in Brooklyn and Witch Mountain in Brooklyn. I’m thinking of going to all of them and calling it a “weekend warrior special,” but that too will no doubt either happen or not at the behest of the baby. We shall see. Gonna take it one day at a time like the alcoholics.

Seemed like a lot of in-transit this week, but a lot of it was basically just running around from place to place with the baby. It’s been nice out — summer and whatnot — so I’ve been trying to take him outside, let him try to eat grass, stop him immediately, then let him try again, etc. Going for walks and that kind of thing. That’s been facilitated by the fact that I’ve been waking up absurdly early. This morning was 2:40AM, yesterday was later, 3:30, but the two days before were both somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-1:30, so yeah, pretty silly.

I’ve been able mostly to get my shit handled though and then be available to The Patient Mrs. for baby-helpery early in the day, which has been good. Yesterday we all took a walk on the beach together and that was good, and the day before, he and I were out for an hour just basically killing time. Yeah, there’s some element of it that’s counting down to when he goes to bed, but there’s some element of it that’s counting down to when I go to bed too, so fair enough.

Also been singing to him like nonstop. Little known fact that about me that no one cares about but is true anyway is that I’m a huge Beatles fan and I’ve been on something of a kick lately. Three hours in the car stuck in I-95 traffic? No problem when you’ve got a thumb drive filled with the entire catalog plus choice bootlegs set to random. Meandering around the neighborhood for untold amounts of time so The Patient Mrs. can check in on her students for the online class she’s teaching? The mental jukebox was built for these things. “Strawberry Fields,” take 30. It’s fun to pretend I’m not completely tone deaf, which, sadly, I am.

Distractions abound this morning, but before I go, of course, next week’s notes. Being home, my PhotoShop installation disc is handy, so I just loaded that onto The Silver Fox and I’ll be using it to make a Quarterly Review banner. Then it’s onto the 50-record madness throughout the next week. I’ll likely have fewer posts overall — going to try to keep it to three a day if I’ll actually let myself do so — but we’re at the moment of a great girding of loins. Tomorrow I build back ends and start writing. From there, all hell breaks loose. I expect by next Friday I’ll really, really want to get out to a show, which is fine because I hear there are a few happening.

Thunderbird Divine also play Ode to Doom in Manhattan next Wednesday. Dare I? We’ll see.

In the meantime, here are the notes, subject to change blah blah blah:

Mon.: Quarterly Review day 1; Saint Karloff track premiere.
Tue.: QR2; Electric Citizen track premiere.
Wed.: QR3; Gorm track premiere.
Thu.: QR4; Saturnia video.
Fri.: QR5; Atavismo full album stream.

Woof. I’m exhausted already.

Okay, let me get out of here and see if I can sneak a minute or two of back-end work before the day starts. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Thanks for reading and please check out the forum and radio stream.

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