Nebula Drag Post “We All Want to Know” Video; New Album Ready for Release

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

NEBULA DRAG

I don’t know anything about anything — pretty much ever — but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that part of the delay in Nebula Drag releasing their next album despite it being done and all that is down to the fact that they’re looking for a label to release it. Now, I’ll say it again: I don’t know that. That’s speculation on my part. But it seems to me that if the San Diego three-piece — who’ll support YOB and Monolord in their hometown at Brick by Brick this coming April (event page here) — wanted to, they could probably just put the record out themselves. Just throw it out there and see how it shakes out. Clearly, they’re setting up a bit of more forward-looking promotion. And reasonably so, by the way. Following up on 2017’s Always Dying EP (review here), they give a more than solid showing in the new song “We all Want to Know” for which, as it happens, they have a new video playing below.

Fancy that.

However the forthcoming, yet-untitled long-player release might shake out, let’s consider the blend of crunch riffing and melody in “We All Want to Know” a statement from Nebula Drag. I haven’t heard the rest of the record, but it’s not hard to imagine the trio of guitarist/vocalist Corey Quintana, bassist Garrett Gallagher and drummer Stephen Varns are signaling an intention in this track toward blending psychedelia and noise rock in a way that their past releases touched on but is made all the more manifest through a spacious, broad production. Again, I’m assuming an awful lot in this post, but listening to the verse and the way the solo carries through starting a bit before the four-minute mark of “We all Want to Know,” it seems to me like Nebula Drag set their collective sight on a bigger sound overall, and I would expect what will eventually surround this single track to build on that impression. I could be way off, but I don’t think so.

Perhaps most importantly, and true to the title of the song itself, I want to know. As we dig into the prospects of what 2019 will bring in terms of releases and all that kind of New Year stuff, I wouldn’t be surprised to find Nebula Drag making something of a splash with their next record. They seem aligned toward the purpose, and the scope they take on in “We All Want to Know” only makes that plain to the listener willing to hear it.

Dig into the video below, and enjoy:

Nebula Drag, “We All Want to Know” official video

Our new album is finished & slated for release in 2019! Even though the album has not dropped yet, we are releasing our new video for the song — “We All Want to Know” — which is ready to pierce your ear holes and poke your retinas!

Nebula Drag is:
Corey Quintana – Guitar/Vocals
Stephen Varns – Drums
Garrett Gallagher – Bass

Nebula Drag on Bandcamp

Nebula Drag on Instagram

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

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Witch Ripper and Brume to Release Split MMXIX March 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

brume

witch ripper

Nobody here loses. Two bands and a label team up, everybody gets circa-100 copies to sell, and everyone helps each other promote it. What Brume, Witch Ripper and DHU Records have going with the Split MMXIX is basically the idea behind doing a split in the first place. Two bands are showcased with the promotional help from an imprint and everybody gets to put out something new. The fact that Seattle four-piece Witch Ripper take up their whole side with their “1985” opus is a bonus, as is Brume‘s side B take on “In the Pines,” the Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter track known to an entire generation as “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” as covered by Nirvana once upon a time on MTV Unplugged. Hard to argue with the pick, frankly.

The release is out March 15 and the preorders start Jan. 25. I wouldn’t be surprised if the pressing sold out on preorders alone, but whether or not the thing actually makes it to its release date, everyone still wins.

From the PR wire:

brume witch ripper split mmxix

Brume/Witch Ripper Split MMXIX (DHU023) Pre order + release date

San Francisco’s Doom Trio Brume have teamed up with Seattle’s Stoner Metal misfits Witch Ripper to bring you a split of unforgiving heaviness to ring in the New Year of Heavy MMXIX

Witch Ripper open the gates on Side A with a mind melting 13+ min track called “1985”. A track that was recorded during their magnificent debut “Homestead” recording session released last year, so you know you will be swept up once again in their punishing assault!

On Side B Brume grace us with a song recorded between the debut “Donkey” and follow up full length “Rooster”, a relentless 8+min Doom anthem called “Man-made” which starts as slow as you know them to be, then bursts into a mid paced groove that will have you banging your head uncontrollably before sending you out into oblivion as they quiet down before the last storm. And, to top it off, Brume does a cover of the classic Leadbelly song “In the Pines” or “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (also covered by Nirvana and Mark Lanegan respectively) in their own traditional Doomed way, so get ready!

Presented here is the cover artwork, done by the incredible photographer Katrin Albert

Brume/Witch Ripper Split MMXIX

Side Witch Ripper
A1. 1985

Side Brume
B1. Man-made
B2. In the Pines

Pre orders go live Friday January 25th at 7PM CET

Official release date March 15th

The Brume/Witch Ripper Split will be released on 3 different limited edition color vinyl options

DHU Exclusive: Limited to 90 copies
Witch Ripper Edition: Limited to 100 copies
Brume Edition: Limited to 100 copies

Brume
Susie: Vocals/Bass
Jamie: Guitar/Vocals
Jordan: Drums

Witch Ripper
Curtis Parker: Vocals/Guitar
Joe Eck: Drums
Brian Kim: Bass
Coltan Anderson: Guitar

https://www.brumeband.com/
https://brumesf.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/brumeband/
http://brume.bigcartel.com/

https://witchripper.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Witchripper/
https://www.instagram.com/witch_ripper/

https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://twitter.com/dhu_records
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Brume, Rooster (2017)

Witch Ripper, Homestead (2018)

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Friday Full-Length: Om, Variations on a Theme

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Om, Variations on a Theme (2005)

Sometimes it feels like Om‘s 2005 debut, Variations on a Theme, gets forgotten about to some extent. At very least overshadowed by what the band has gone on to do with subsequent offerings. But I remember when Variations on a Theme came out. I still have the promo CD that came to what was then my office — because in 2005, things like “offices” and “promo CDs from labels” both existed — and I remember putting it on and being blown away by how unique the sound was. And 14 years later, it remains so. Om were by no means the first act to convey a sense of heavy without massive guitar riffs belting you in the face, but the patterning of Al Cisneros‘ vocals and the sheer barrage of his opaque lyrics, the depth of his bass tone and the unmitigated swing and inimitable movement in the drums of Chris Hakius came together in a way that forced one to recognize that, yes, this was something new. And for as mellow as the overarching spirit of Variations on a Theme was and is, it was new. And it was heavy.

On the most basic level, a duo was rarer. The most immediate association was a pop group like The White Stripes, who had taken the overblown sound of stadium rock and stripped it to its essential hooks and core attitude. Were Om doing the same thing to the idea of heavy music? Maybe, to a point. But their project on the three-song/45-minute Holy Mountain-released long-player was different — more exploratory. More spiritual, and less about plunging to the center of a thing than emerging outward from it. Cisneros and Hakius were both refugees from the then-defunct Sleep, who’d broken up years before but whose grand opus, Dopesmoker (discussed here), had finally seen release in 2003 through Tee Pee Records. It would be a few years still before the social media generation that brought Sleep to their stoner-lordly stature really came to prominence, but even then, the name of course resonated.

And Variations on a Theme felt like an outgrowth of some of what Sleep had done in that final, single-song LP. “On the Mountain at Dawn” (21:19), “Kapila’s Theme” (11:59) and “Annapurna” (11:53) indeed were longform pieces — not an hour long, but long — and their lyrics cast an impression born from philosophy texts and mythological traditions, patterned to coincide with tantric, mesmerizing basslines for a meditative feel worthy of the band’s name. It’s been 14 years and I still have no idea what’s going on in the repeated verse of “Annapurna”:

The flight to freedom gradient raise the called ascendant
And reach supreme the coalesced eye into surrender
Centripetal core of soul sojourn the field vibrates to absolution
I climb toward the sun to breathe the universal

om variations on a themeBut that last line is key. It’s the only lyric on Variations on a Theme that’s in first-person. All of “On the Mountain at Dawn” is in implied-third. There are no pronouns used, but the verb forms are “he does” or “she does.” “Kapila’s Theme” could be first or second or third, it’s never clear, but the line “I climb toward the sun to breathe the universal,” with later becomes “I climb toward the sun to breathe the indrawn universal,” conveys both the sense of pilgrimage — which would become an ongoing theme for the band — and the ritual smoke that seemed to be rising from the album itself as it played. As vague as its lyrics may have been, they were like an unearthed text, full of references and turns of phrase that would take years to be understood if they ever were.

Dopesmoker had that sense of journey, but there was a clearer narrative taking place as well. Variations on a Theme found Cisneros like an out-of-body prophet spewing lines that would either predict the flow of the universe or be lost to some other interpretation. But the transitional moment could be heard in more than just the lyrics or the cleaner vocal style. It’s in the tone. Working with producer Billy Anderson — who’d also helmed Sleep‘s studio material — Om centered around its tone in a way that a band with a guitar never could. After a short blip of feedback, “On the Mountain at Dawn” unfurled a sound that managed to be both full in its distortion and still somehow minimalist, understated. The bass tone was low, and dirty, but gorgeous, and it was fluid enough to shift from lumbering to rolling alongside Hakius‘ ping-ride groove at a moment’s notice, the kick drum adding an underlying sense of activity that gave the whole thing its forward motion.

It wouldn’t be the last time Om used a distorted tone, but as they moved forward from their debut with Conference of the Birds (discussed here) in 2006, they introduced a cleaner sound and would only continue to branch out from there. Following splits with Current 93 and Six Organs of Admittance, in 2007 they released Pilgrimage, which would be their final album with Hakius on drums. Replacing half a duo is no minor change, but Cisneros brought in Emil Amos — also of GrailsHoly Sons and a number of other projects — and on 2009’s God is Good (review here) introduced not only Amos, but a broader feel that included multi-instrumentalist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, also of Lichens. By the time they got around to 2012’s Advaitic Songs (review here), Om were a trio, the arrangements had never been so grand, and the resulting work remains one of the best albums of this decade. Seven years after the fact, one anxiously awaits a follow-up.

Of course, Cisneros has been plenty busy with the Sleep reunion and, last year, their own long-awaited studio album, The Sciences (review here), but just as that record showed up with a day’s advance notice, suddenly dropped on an unsuspecting public after years of rumors and “yeah it’s happening”-kinds of updates, it’s hard not to hope 2019 produces something similar from CisnerosAmos and Lowe with Om. Last I heard, songs were being done in somewhat piecemeal fashion, but either way, if Advaitic Songs demonstrated anything plainly, it’s that Om had much more to offer, so if it takes them a while to manifest that, there’s little doubt it will be worth that wait.

And however far they might continue to move beyond what now seems like their rudimentary beginnings on Variations on a Theme, they’re still to some degree living out the title of their debut, exploring the outer reaches of the journey that those three songs set in motion.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I keep hearing phantom baby shouts from upstairs. He’s not really up yet — he will be soon; it’s quarter-to-six –but my brain is so trained at this point that I hear him when he’s not really yelling. It’s a bird outside, or it’s the house settling in some way. It’s the wind. It’s something. Whatever it is, it’s not the baby yet. But again, we’ll get there momentarily.

Accordingly, I should probably keep this short. We’re still in New Jersey — The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I — and that feels like something of a godsend. I do not look forward to going back north to Massachusetts, which will happen I think after next weekend, but whatever. Gotta go. The Patient Mrs. gotta make that money so I can continue to spend it on custom coffee blends, peanut butter and Sandra Boynton board books.

I’m going to write another children’s book by the way. About the purple octopus that has kind of become this site’s mascot. I named her Petunia. I’m thinking Petunia The Octopus Joins the Band. If you want to illustrate it, let me know, because I’m useless at that stuff. Could be a fun project.

Next week is pretty packed though. I guess the music industry went back to work this week, which is fair enough, because the PR wire started up again and my calendar got pretty full. Here are the notes, subject to change blah blah:

MON 01/14 King Witch video premiere; Glory in the Shadows video premiere.
TUE 01/15 BUS track premiere; Lumbar video.
WED 01/16 Nebula Drag video; another possible premiere.
THU 01/17 Ian Blurton’s Future Now track premiere.
FRI 01/18 Hibrido LP stream; Yawning Man live review.

On the side of that, I also have two bios to write and I just signed on for a bunch of announcements for Desertfest London, because later this month they’re going to bring a bunch more kickass bands on board. Today I also need to finish putting together the playlist for the next episode of ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Radio, which will be my 2019 preview. There’s a lot of good stuff in the coming months. It was pretty easy to pick bands. Just need songs now.

And sure enough, the baby’s up.

That’s my cue.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please don’t forget to check out the Forum, the Radio stream and Obelisk shirts and whatnot at Dropout merch. Thanks for reading.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Red Wizard Premiere Videos for “Ogami” and “Crossroad to Hell”

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

RED WIZARD

San Diego heavy rockers Red Wizard went relatively quiet after aligning with Ripple Music and STB Records for the bicoastal CD and LP release of their debut album, Cosmosis (review here), and the cause was a cancer scare in the band — which I mention because “fuck cancer” is a slogan to live by — but they announce a return to activity (and, more crucially, health) with the two-songer single Ogami / Crossroad to Hell. Both tracks work around the story of the samurai film series Lone Wolf and Cub, which starred Tomisaburô Wakayama as Ogami Itto as a ronin roaming around with a kid in tow across six movies from 1972-1974. Two years. Six movies. They apparently just banged them out.

Fair enough. Red Wizard — the five-piece of gruff vocalist Travis Baucum, guitarists Miles Von Ricketson (also vocals and uke) andred wizard ogami Casey Lamontagne, bassist David Wilburn and drummer Shane Kepler — bask in the tale of the stalwart warrior throughout “Ogami” and “Crossroad to Hell,” both of which top five minutes and take in the early ’70s B-movie-guitar-soundtrack vibe, though neither cut is devoid of a hook. “Ogami” is in the right position as a leadoff, and its break in the second half leading into the closing instrumental section is striking, but fluidly managed all the same, while “Crossroad to Hell” has a more swaggering vibe in its chorus and seems to take cues from classic metal and heavy rock in construction and descriptive lyrical balladry as well as the dual-guitar work. “Crossroad to Hell” is the more straightforward of the two, but it serves as a reminder of the variety Red Wizard bring to their craft while remaining consistent in theme and overarching tonal burl.

They say they’ve got songs in the can, and after basically a year away between 2017 and 2018, that’s easy enough to believe. A new full-length to follow-up Cosmosis would certainly be welcome, and if Ogami / Crossroad to Hell is at all indicative of their sonic intent going forward, there’s groove to come. Right on.

Both videos, as one might imagine, make use of film footage, and you can see them below, followed by a few words from the band announcing their arrival.

Dig:

Red Wizard, “Ogami” official video premiere

Red Wizard, “Crossroad to Hell” official video premiere

Greetings and Happy New Year from Red Wizard! Start your new year off right with some new Red Wizard tracks!

As many of you know, we were sidelined by health issues and family tragedy throughout 2017 and 2018. Our willpower and endurance was tested beyond any of our expectations and our future was changed and challenged as a band and as men.

We are proud to tell you all that we are still here and Red Wizard will never die.

It’s going to be a very busy year for us. We plan to release an EP as well as full length album this year. We’ve been sitting on a ton of great material.

But until then, please enjoy this new single and B-side based on our favorite samurai series.

Cheers!

Red Wizard is;
Travis Baucum – Vocals/Percussion
Miles Von Ricketson – Guitars/Ukulele/Vocals
Casey Lamontagne – Guitars
David Wilburn – Bass
Shane Kepler – Drums

Red Wizard on Bandcamp

Red Wizard on Thee Facebooks

Red Wizard on Instagram

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High on Fire Cancel Tour Due to Health Issues

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

high on fire

Hey, look. Everybody wants a healthy Matt Pike. We all saw the thing with his toe, and the internet’s response to it, frankly was kind of shitty. “Check out Pike’s fucked up amputated toe! So metal!.” Yeah, okay dude, but the fact is the guy is a human being, not a fucking cartoon character, and obviously health issues should be more than your dipshit clickbait. End of story.

Get well soon, Matt Pike. Hope to see you marauding again in no time. But health first.

Toke and Year of the Cobra were set to open this tour, and accordingly, both bands ordered a butt-load of merch that they’re kind of stuck with now. If you’ve got some cash, both acts are worthy of it. I don’t usually post direct merch links and tell you to buy, but these are exceptional circumstances:

Toke merch: https://tokenc.bandcamp.com/merch

Year of the Cobra merch: https://yearofthecobra.bigcartel.com/

Here’s the announcement from High on Fire‘s label, E1 Music, via the PR wire:

high on fire tour cancel

HIGH ON FIRE CANCELS “ELECTRIC MESSIAH TOUR 2019” DUE TO MEDICAL EMERGENCY

High On Fire will not participate in the 2019 “Electric Messiah Tour.” Fans can refund their tickets through the point of purchase.

Frontman Matt Pike has provided a statement:

“Dear Friends and fans,

To my brothers, my crew, and anyone else this affects. I do apologize for the inconvenience of this cancellation. I feel as though I’m explaining lightning striking twice. I wanted nothing more in the world to play these songs live, nor ever cancel something I say I’m gonna do.”

“I am a warrior for our art, and have endured some painful things to what we do. The timing and repeating nature of this is my nightmare and almost impossible. Nevertheless, to save yet another toe, my big one, I have been grounded by circumstances out of my control. I will have more of a medical report to come but right now I’m at great risk of losing it, and/or a bigger portion of my foot due to Diabetes. Which I have been managing very well.”

“It just shows how this disease can affect our lives. Please forgive me, and if you know anything about me, you know this is not like me. We will be back!”

Affected dates:
High on Fire Jan/Feb. tour:
Jan. 10 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
Jan. 11- Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
Jan. 12 – Richmond, VA – Broadberry
Jan. 13 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Soundstage
Jan. 15 – Philadelphia, PA – TLA
Jan. 16 – Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw
Jan. 18 – Boston, MA – The Sinclair
Jan. 19 – Montreal, QC – Fairmount
Jan. 20 – Toronto, ON – Opera House
Jan. 22 – Chicago, IL – Metro
Jan. 23 – Minneapolis, MN – Skyway
Jan. 25 – Denver, CO – Oriental
Jan. 26 – Omaha, NE – Slowdown
Jan. 27 – St. Louis, MO – Delmar Hall
Jan. 29 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Bar and Grill
Jan. 30 – Austin, TX-Barracuda
Jan. 31 – Houston, TX – White Oak
Feb. 1 – New Orleans, LA – House Of Blues

HIGH ON FIRE features Matt Pike (guitar, vocals), Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass).

https://www.facebook.com/highonfire
https://www.instagram.com/highonfireband/
www.highonfire.net
https://twitter.com/eoneheavy
https://www.facebook.com/eOneHeavy

High on Fire, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2018

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John Garcia and the Band of Gold, John Garcia and the Band of Gold: Kentucky and Beyond

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

john garcia and the band of gold self titled

The 2014 self-titled solo debut from John Garcia (review here) was at least 15 years in the making. He followed it in 2017 with the mostly acoustic The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here), and with the self-titled LP from John Garcia and the Band of Gold, he completes a cycle of three records in five years that he has already hinted will mark his last run. That in itself gives the 11-song/40-minute John Garcia and the Band of Gold a different context, but it’s also worth noting that as he’s made his way through these offerings — the latest of which would presumably complete a three-album deal with Napalm Records — he’s also presented a different side of himself each time out. True, the first and third LPs share plenty of aesthetic commonalities, but Garcia stepping into more of a bandleader role with The Band of Gold behind him comprised of guitarist Ehren Groban (War Drum), bassist Mike Pygmie (Mondo GeneratorYou Know Who) and drummer Greg Saenz (The DwarvesYou Know Who) is a distinguishing factor.

Much has been made as well of the involvement of producer Chris Goss, the frontman of Masters of Reality who once upon a time helmed the Kyuss recordings that would help solidify desert rock in the mid-’90s. That’s not a minor consideration, and if there’s an effect of Goss‘ contributions here — which, as I understand it, came after the basic tracks were recorded — perhaps it can be heard in the extra heft of a track like the rushing “Popcorn (Hit Me When You Can)” or the low-end push behind Garcia‘s crooning in the quieter parts of second cut “Jim’s Whiskers” earlier on. That’s speculation, but even the association between the two parties should be a draw for fans, who might also note the similarity in cover art between John Garcia and the Band of Gold and Vista Chino‘s 2013 outing, Peace (review here; discussed here), both done in a graffiti-on-concrete style. If there’s an intended relationship between those two LPs, I don’t know, but in addition to having appeared on The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues as “Give Me 250ml,” “Kentucky II” would seem to be a sequel in title to “Kentucky” from Hermano‘s 2007 full-length, …Into the Exam Room. One way or another, there is plenty throughout John Garcia and the Band of Gold for longtime fans to dig into.

“Kentucky II” is one of three songs shared between the last album and this one, actually, with “Kylie,” on that showing up as the penultimate “Cheyletiella” on this and “The Hollingsworth Session” revamped in fully-plugged fashion as “Don’t Even Think About It.” There’s something to be said for the continuity tying the two releases together, but highlights of John Garcia and the Band of Gold like “My Everything” and “Lillianna” are both new and help comprise the central impression of the tracklist as a whole, which is fresh in performance and cognizant of the desert it’s inhabiting, whether it’s through the introductory spaciousness that rolls out in “Space Vato” before that 2:44 instrumental kicks into higher gear and moves quickly into the bouncing groove of “Jim’s Whiskers,” or “Softer Side,” which finds Garcia singing quietly over a wide landscape of psychedelic guitar somewhat reminiscent of his work alongside Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce in Zun.

john garcia and the band of gold

His voice — naturally a central feature on an album that bears his name — has always been well suited to that ultra-laid back vibe, but neither can one take away from the power in his delivery of “My Everything” or the successful middle ground built up in “Chicken Delight,” a sense of tension coming to a head that the swinging “Kentucky II” pays off in its righteous and familiar shuffle. “Popcorn (Hit Me When You Can)” arguably provides the hardest thrust of John Garcia and the Band of Gold, but “Apache Junction,” which immediately follows, is both the heaviest and the most intriguing as regards arrangement, with guitars echoing out late after slamming out a central riff that’s replete with sonic detailing, bass chugging away beneath effects-laced background vocal layers between lyric lines, and the balance of the mix such that Garcia‘s voice is given an opportunity to cut through the tonal presence surrounding, something that he’s been doing in oft-imitated fashion for over two decades. Unsurprisingly, he nails it.

So will John Garcia and the Band of Gold really be his last record? Yeah, probably not. Even if it’s his last “solo” album for some time, he’s proven restless enough in the past that it’s easy to think maybe he’d work again with Dave Angstrom in Hermano or follow-up on the several reunion gigs Slo Burn did in 2017 with more there. Of the litany of projects he’s been involved in throughout his career, new material would be welcome from just about any of them — which isn’t to mention the perpetually-unfinished business with Unida, a band once stifled by contract woes from releasing what would’ve been their breakthrough album. If John Garcia is going to run out the thread on tour for this release and call it a career, though, what a career to call it. It probably doesn’t help pay the mortgage, but the guy’s legitimately a legend who’s influence has thus far spanned two generations, and John Garcia and the Band of Gold finds him in top form, arguably in better control of his craft than he was when Vista Chino made Peace for the intervening years of writing, touring and singing.

If it’s how he wants to go out, he certainly doesn’t owe anyone anything. But the question, ultimately, is a distraction, and a negative one if it takes anything away from appreciating John Garcia and the Band of Gold on its own level. Among the most crucial statements Garcia makes with the third LP under his name comes from that change in identity. He’s still searching. He’s still trying to find just that right place to inhabit that’s not only his own, but as much about the future as about his storied past. If fronting John Garcia and the Band of Gold is what lets him do that, fine. It worked for his one-time bandmate Brant Bjork for a while when he led Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, also on Napalm Records. And if John Garcia and the Band of Gold does make that happen, it’s even less likely this self-titled will be their last outing. But, just like how at any second his voice might punch the listener upside the head with belted-out desert grit, his future is wholly unpredictable.

John Garcia, “My Everything”

John Garcia on Thee Facebooks

John Garcia on Twitter

Napalm Records webstore

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Friday Full-Length: Saint Vitus, Die Healing

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Saint Vitus, Die Healing (1995)

The idea at the outset of Die Healing was to do just that. By 1995, Saint Vitus had been playing since they got together as Tyrant in 1978, had six albums out, and no singer. Guitarist Dave Chandler, who as ever was the core of the unit when it came to songwriting, tracked vocals for a would’ve-been seventh album (I’d love to hear those tapes), but they were ultimately scrapped in favor of a reunion with original vocalist Scott Reagers for one last album and one last tour. “Let the End Begin,” indeed. They didn’t quite make it through that tour, but Die Healing — issued by Hellhound Records — stood for years as their final album and a testament to everything Vitus were as a band.

It remains and will remain their last record with their original lineup of Chandler, Reagers, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Armando Acosta, the latter of whom passed away in 2010, and more than that, from the opening crawl of “Dark World” and righteous outsider perspective of “One Mind” through the periodic speed bursts as in “Let the End Begin” or the lurch of songs like “Return of the Zombie,” “Trail of Pestilence,” “Sloth” and “In the Asylum” ahead of the okay-we’ll-finally-play-punk “Just Another Notch,” on which Chandler does in fact take the helm on vocals, Die Healing reaffirms the notion of just how right Vitus were all along to fly in the face of trends in underground music. I don’t know if during their original run, their worship at the altar of Black Sabbath was ever “the cool thing,” but they were unwavering.

There was always a vicious current of noise to Chandler‘s soloing, and through the work of Reagers on their 1984 self-titled debut and 1985’s Hallow’s Victim, Scott “Wino” Weinrich‘s stepping into the frontman role on 1986’s Born Too Late, the 1987 Thirsty and Miserable EP, 1988’s Mournful Cries and 1990’s V, and Christian “Chritus” Linderson (Count Raven, now Lord Vicar) stepping in for 1992’s C.O.D., the band’s root in classic and grim heft prevented them from being at all in line with the metal of the day. They were doom. Unrelenting, unwavering doom. Die Healing might as well have been called ‘Die Slow,’ because if Vitus knew the band was coming to an end one way or another, they were going out the way they came in: volume up, tempo down, middle finger high.

I’m not sure if anything ever would or could replace the groundbreaking regression that was their self-titled or the mastery of the form they showed on Born Too Late, but neither should the grim saint vitus die healingatmosphere of Die Healing be discounted among the band’s myriad achievements of style and songwriting. With the theatricality in Reagers‘ vocals as heard on “In the Asylum” or even “Return of the Zombie” before it, Die Healing was in direct conversation with the first record, to the point that the latter track was a sequel to “Zombie Hunger” from the earlier release, but at 49 minutes, it was a product of the CD era too, and though Chandler had certainly handled some vocals in the past, on “When Emotion Dies” from Born Too Late, “Dragon Time” from Mournful Cries or “A Timeless Tale” from C.O.D., the fact that he effectively had the last say on the band’s last-until-the-reunion release in the addiction tale “Just Another Notch” spoke to his holding onto some piece of Vitus for himself.

That push and pull seems always to have existed in the band, and their split in 1996 stands as the dissolution of one of the greatest acts American doom has ever produced, but their volatility was a part of what made them so special in the first place. Saint Vitus were never going to be a completely stable entity. It wouldn’t have worked. Certainly they knew what they wanted sound-wise, and in the beginning they knew they wanted to be different, to play slow when others were playing fast, to be loud in a bottom-end-heavy kind of way that became signature to their style, but just because they were conscious of what they were doing doesn’t necessarily mean they were playing by a set of rules.

Consider Saint Vitus in relation to Sweden’s Candlemass. Similar start with their debuts in the mid-’80s, but Candlemass took on a cleaner Sabbathian sound, crisp and classy, whereas even on Die Healing, nearly 20 years after they first got together, Saint Vitus still sounded like the band who were going to steal your VCR while you weren’t looking. They flew in the face of rock, of pop, of metal, and of punk, and they proved just how ahead of their time they were when it was another full generation before they really even started to get their due from a broader audience.

Saint Vitus‘ reunion in 2009 with Weinrich on vocals led to 2012’s Lillie: F-65 (review here) and the 2013 reissue of their catalog through their new label, Season of Mist (plus tapes on RidingEasy), as well as a couple subsequent live records. No longer was Die Healing the last Vitus LP, and what had come full circle was reopened. With Henry Vasquez on drums, ChandlerAdams and Wino toured as triumphant heroes returning circa 2012 and 2013, but Wino‘s much-reported drug charge and subsequent five-year ban from European touring (now expiring) brought Reagers back into the lineup.

Adams, meanwhile, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease — a GoFundMe was set up to help with his medical expenses — and Pat Bruders, who once took the place of Rex Brown in Down and was a founding member of Goatwhore, has been playing with them for the last couple years. That puts Chandler and Reagers as the remaining founders of the band currently in the lineup, but of course that volatile aspect is always there as well. Nonetheless, they’ll celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary with a European tour this coming Spring (dates here), and word has been bandied about of a new album in the works as well, though a solid release date remains to be set. One has to wonder if, when Saint Vitus‘ next record does arrive, it will feature a third installment of Reagers‘ zombie-centered lyrics. Nothing like a good sequel, and Die Healing certainly deserves the nod.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Last night was the first night I really slept this week. I’ve been waking up here and there throughout the night. Not the baby getting up or anything like that, just me. Wednesday I was up half the damn night, but last night I crashed pretty hard. I’ll still probably need a little downtime this afternoon if I can get it, and I wouldn’t necessarily call myself caught up, but every little bit counts.

I got a tattoo this week. It’s my first one. More on that later. It’s healing nicely. Not dying. Got my arm all gooped up and whatnot.

Today is my mother’s birthday and we’re still in New Jersey for the better part of this month, so my family is coming over to celebrate and get takeout and hang around, which will be good. I like being down here. There’s more space for that Pecan to run around and more shit for him to climb on, and the family time is good. Plus we’re like two minutes from the center of the universe, which is nice.

But anyway, things persist. I have an Inner Altar track premiere slated for Monday, but actually the rest of the week is pretty wide open right now, which I think is nifty. I’ll probably review John Garcia in there somewhere and maybe the new Skraeckoedlan record unless something else comes up, but I kind of like having a bit of flexibility for a change. November and December were crammed.

Episode 7 of ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Radio airs Sunday at 7PM Eastern. I’m going to stay up until 9 to listen and you should too. I also recently bought a Gimme t-shirt, which I think makes something or other official.

And I just got a new merch design from Shy Kennedy (Horehound, Blackseed Records, Descendants of Crom, etc.) that’s awesome and coming soon to the merch page for Dropout. I’m not going to post the design yet, but I’ve decided to call it “the lunar doomer” because I like slant rhymes and there’s a moon on it. It’s cool.

There’s more, probably, but I can’t think of it because golly-gosh I’m tired.

I hope you came through the holidays alright. That time of year is always a challenge for me, and my mother’s birthday is always kind of the finish line for it, so I’m right there. Made it. I’ve got writing to do this weekend, but today I’m gonna post stuff, read, chill, record voice tracks for Gimme Radio and just catch my breath a bit before everyone gets here this afternoon. I got up early to enjoy some coffee and a bit of doom, and I don’t regret it.

I hope you’re good. Really. I don’t know if I am or not. I have good days and bad. Really hard swings. But I’m glad to be around family for the time I am.

Alright.

Everyone have a great and safe weekend. Please. Forum, radio, merch at the merch table.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Volcano Premiere “Naked Prey” Video; The Island Due Feb. 15

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

volcano naked prey

The first real inkling of what Volcano are all about came last year when the San Diego unit released a single track on their Bandcamp page. Already an album was said to be in the works, and soon after “10,000 Screamin’ Souls” (discussed here) showed up, the band was booked at Roadburn. It was, if I recall right, their second — maybe third? — show, in the 700-capacity Green Room, and EarthlessMario Rubalcaba sat in on percussion. Not too shabby. I was fortunate enough to be there to see it, and with Harsh Toke‘s Gabe Messer on keys and vocals as the madman bandleader and JOY guitarist Zach Oakley jamming through funked-out riffs and classic-style soloing backed by the rhythm section of bassist Billy Ellsworth (also Loom) and drummer Matt Oakley (brother to Zach), the band were immediately locked in to being free as all hell, obviously having a blast and inviting the crowd to do the same as they ran through songs like “Naked Prey,” “No Evil, Know Demon,” “10,000 Screamin’ Souls” and “The Island” melded Afrobeat grooves with the psychedelia and heavy rock that’s become such a staple of their hometown.

Given the association with JOY and Harsh Toke, and the fact that the music was awesome, it was no surprise to find out Volcano had signed to Tee Pee Records, which together with Kommune Records will handle thevolcano the island release of The Island, the band’s first album. Comprised of Messer, the Oakleys, Ellsworth, and Ake Arndt (Operation Mindblow) on percussion, the studio incarnation of Volcano would seem to be no less feral in their intent than the stage version was last April. Having since pulled down “10,000 Screamin’ Souls” as a single from their Bandcamp page, the band has made “Naked Prey” available as the first audio from The Island, and it’s my pleasure today to host the premiere of the song’s accompanying video.

The footage is kind of grainly, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is getting naked, but if running through a jungle surrounded on all sides by ocean with no clothes on is the vibe Volcano are going for, they’ve pretty much got it down. “Naked Prey” is first and foremost a party, a good time in the tradition of letting loose, breaking through stylistic barriers and exploring a range of sounds from a range of places. A bit of cultural appropriation? Oh, most definitely. The video moves in a different direction, though, tapping into a grainy tube-TV aesthetic that Zach, who directed and offers some comment under the clip below, relates directly to early ’70s German music television. Because obviously. And suitably enough, they’re thinking of “Naked Prey” as analogous to what the rest of The Island has to offer. I haven’t heard the full thing yet, but having been lucky enough to hear at least some of these songs live, I believe it.

The Island is out Feb. 15. If you have an ass, get ready to shake it.

Enjoy:

“Naked Prey” official video premiere

Zach Oakley on “Naked Prey”:

“Every song on this record was fun to write, record and produce so it was hard to pick a first single. I think we chose “Naked Prey” because it’s the first tune on the record and so why not have it act as Volcano’s first introduction to the world.

It’s the leadoff track on the record for a couple reasons. First of all, it’s a banger! The drum intro is syncopated and groovy and the rest of the band drop in all at once with a twin guitar and keys melody that foreshadow a lot of what you’ll hear during the rest of the album. We’re basically telling people that if they like the first 15 seconds of “Naked Prey”, then they’re gonna dig the rest of the album too!

Lyrically speaking it sets the tone for the record. We tell the story arch of “The Island” and it’s inhabitants over the course of the record. Each tune it’s own chapter. In this first chapter we learn about their ruthless gods and the relentless aggression of nature and it’s dark governing forces. It’s a theme that we explore throughout the record, and it starts with NAKED PREY! Let the chase begin!

The “Naked Prey” music video began as a complete joke. Just talking about filming ourselves for a video was too goofy to take seriously. But we set out with the attitude that if it turned out too silly to release then we’d simply ditch it and never tell anyone we tried! I had just filmed and edited a short film documenting a jam session that I had been a part of at a friend’s property in Campo, CA, a month or two earlier and it turned out cool. Nothing too complex or professional looking, but really neat and nostalgic and plenty psychedelic. I took that same approach to shooting and editing Volcano’s first music video.

We felt like keeping it simple since it was our first video. Very little plot line aside from Gabe speaking as an angry deity. It’s mostly shots of the members of the band playing the tune against a non-descript background. It puts the focus on us as a players. No frills. Just plenty of trippy edits and overlays and other tricks lifted straight from the editing playbook of the 60s-70s German Television show “The Beat Club.” Anyone that has seen the Birth Control, Black Sabbath or Rory Gallagher performances on that show will get a kick, or at least a giggle out of our new video! We hope everyone has as much fun watching it as we did making it!”

Volcano on Instagram

Volcano on Bandcamp

Kommune Records on Bandcamp

Tee Pee Records website

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