Goliathan Stream Albion EP in Full

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

 goliathan (Photo by Ekaterina Gorbacheva)

Goliathan issue their new EP, Albion, this Friday, Nov. 16, on Metal Assault Records with a release show to coincide at 5 Star Bar in their native Los Angeles (info here). The instrumentalist L.A. four-piece who share their name with Weedeater‘s 2015 album released their debut, Awakens, in 2016, and in Albion they offer three tracks and 24 minutes not of stoner sludge, but of more intricate post-metal and modern doom. “Albion,” “Vaalbara” and “Aberration” are progressive not in the sense of being a technical showcase — they clearly know what they’re doing, but nobody’s trying to put on a clinic — but in terms of the life breathed into the arrangement of sections, the flow of the material, and the interweaving of the two guitars from Shawn Doster and Kevin Cogill, as well as the overarching atmosphere of foreboding that seems to permeate the material. With pro-shop drums from Philip Bailey and the low end weight of bassist Neal Gardner anchoring, the band engage in conscious exploration that holds firm to considerations of structure along with tonal impact.

And “tonal impact” is a prevalent factor pretty much from the start of the leadoff title-track onward. An initial chug would seem to put Goliathan in a place somewhere between Isis and Russian Circles and the Ufomammut/YOB-style kosmiche, but they’re not really content to stick to one or the other, and are clearly more interested in developing their own take than emulating that of others. The build happening in “Albion” is based around that chug, which becomes a theme Goliathan Albionaround which the song is based in its early going, but a break in the middle third to ambient spaces does well in shifting the mindset toward a more linear stretch that builds from its airiness to heft-laden post-rock in its finish. Feedback echoes out and Bailey‘s drums launch “Vaalbara” with Gardner soon joining before the guitars lurch to life, but while the centerpiece is the shortest inclusion at 7:38, it marks a change in the construction from the eight-minute opener before it, taking a more straightforward approach as opposed to the melding of two disparate movements together, crafting a fluidity that’s enacted without molten effects overload but consuming even in its directed charge. Resolution comes in about the last minute, which sees the drums pull back and the guitars exhale some of the tension that’s been mounting, creating a wash of distortion that carries on a fade into “Aberration.”

Call me crazy, but with a song called “Aberration,” it doesn’t seem so unreasonable to think that might be where a band is changing it up. To a degree, that’s what happens in the finale, but really it’s more about bringing everything together in terms of the underlying rhythms and the guitars working overhead. A series of start-stops in the first two minutes smooths into a melodic roll before a lumbering nod and subsequent chug-out take hold, the latter sustained for an almost maddening amount of time. As the 8:47 closer works into its final third, Goliathan once again find their footing in a push of engrossing tonality and crash, but the last minute is dedicated to a return to the prior staccato-ism, giving yet another sense of there being a plot followed all along. And so there has been. More so than one might think to look at the runtimes of the songs themselves, Albion is a pretty efficient in-and-out listening experience, tracked live but with a steadiness to its execution that speaks to a burgeoning level of patience in their craft. I would not be surprised if the quiet stretch in “Albion” led to more such developments, and likewise, if the stomp of “Aberration” did the same, however much of an outlier it may be positioned as being for now.

You can hear Albion in its entirety on the player below ahead of the official release tomorrow, followed by the band’s bio, which is full of ‘L.A. band story’ stuff that’s always a good time.

Please enjoy:

The idea of Goliathan first came about in 2006 when Philadelphia punk veterans, childhood friends and longtime artistic co-conspirators Shawn Doster and Kevin Cogill found themselves living together in Los Angeles after their tour van broke down. It was then that the duo started to explore moodier and more mature frontiers, transcending the boundaries of the blackened crust music Shawn had been writing up to that point. After gestating for a full ten years, Goliathan finally found steady footing with Neal Gardner and Philip Bailey completing a perfectly balanced, permanent lineup. In 2016, the band released their debut EP Awakens, and began performing locally, garnering a unanimously awe-struck reaction from all who would bear witness.

Neal Gardner is an accomplished and versatile composer, producer, and educator, masterfully fluent in music theory who has found a home writing and playing bass in Goliathan. Drummer Phillip Bailey was a founding member of Systematic, discovered by Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, and signed to his Elektra imprint The Music Company before moving on to do session work in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Shawn and Kevin (a.k.a. “Skwerl”) flank the rhythm section with dueling guitars and a telepathic chemistry refined over nearly 25 years of playing together.

Following up their 2016 debut, Goliathan is now ready to release a 3-track monsterpiece called Albion, recorded in Lincoln Heights by Manny Nieto (Health, Trash Talk, The Breeders), mixed by Sean Beavan (NIN, Marilyn Manson, Slayer), and mastered by Maor Appelbaum (Faith No More, Rob Halford). Albion is releasing on CD, LP and digital formats on November 16 2018 via Metal Assault Records.

Shawn Doster: Guitar
Kevin Cogill: Guitar
Neal Gardner: Bass
Phillip Bailey: Drums

Goliathan on Thee Facebooks

Goliathan on Bandcamp

Metal Assault Records website

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Dzjenghis Khan Self-Titled Reissue Due Feb. 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dzjenghis khan

If you need to read any further into this post than the phrase ‘originally released by Motorwolf,’ then congratulations on the homework you’re about to do. And I mean that, because if you’ve never explored the output of that should-be-legendary Dutch imprint and the studio that shares its name and the kingly freaks behind it, well, again, congratulations. Enjoy your new life.

Dzjenghis Khan‘s self-titled debut came out in 2007 on that imprint as well as Leafhound Records and they also had a live tape called Prehistoric Rock with an awesome shredding T-Rex on the cover out through the likewise venerable German imprint Who Can You Trust? Records, so they weren’t exactly short on righteous associations. The thread continues with a reissue of the self-titled due early next year on Heavy Psych Sounds, which has likewise proved its reissue mettle with the likes of Sgt. Sunshine, Brant friggin’ Bjork and others.

Preorders are up now:

dzjenghis khan dzjenghis khan

Heavy Psych Sounds Records & Booking is really proud to start the presale of a great reissue *** DZJENGHIS KHAN – s/t ***

HPS 089

Grab your copy here:

https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS089

or

https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/dzjenghis-khan-dzjenghis-khan-presale

RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 15th, 2019

One of the most important psych – acid rock albums of the new millenium. The Dzjenghis Khan self-titled debut album was released in 2007 by the dutch indipendent label Motorwolf. The San Francisco based band Dzjenghis Khan featured bassist Carson Binks (also in Wild Eyes and Saviours), drummer Tommy Tomson and guitarist Lane Rider. This record reflects the musical scene of that era and it’s still a raw acid rock pearl !!!

Heavy Psych Sounds Records is so proud to bring back to the current audience a piece of real acid rock. Dzjenghis Khan was one of the first bands to bring back the “psych sound”, in a time where there was not real audience, we can say they’ve been pioneers after the pioneers!

The album is composed by 10 killer tracks, the sound is dirty, fuzzy and raw. The atmosphere is nearly lo-fi but the riffing melt your face.

AVAILABLE IN:
20 LTD TEST PRESS VINYL
300 CLEAR BLUE VINYL
STANDARD VERSION IN TRANSPARENT ORANGE VINYL
DIGIPAK
DIGITAL

TRACKLIST
Snake Bite
Wildcat
The Widow
No Time For Love
Avenue A
Against The Wall
Black Saint
End Of The Line
Rosie
Sister Dorien

DZJENGHIS KHAN
Binksebus Eruptum – Bass
Tommy Tomson – Drums
Lane Rider – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/Dzjenghis-Khan-129699693737982/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

Dzjenghis Khan, “Evil World”

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Friday Full-Length: Yawning Man, Rock Formations

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

 

Consider the timing. Yawning Man formed in 1986 with guitarist Gary Arce, guitarist Mario Lalli, bassist Larry Lalli and drummer Alfredo Hernandez, and for a long time were something of a historical footnote in the development of Californian desert rock. Along with Across the River and the Lallis’ other concurrent band, Fatso Jetson, they were crucial to the development of the style, but Yawning Man were never able to reap the same kind of acclaim as some of the others from their region/local scene, in no small part because they never had a record out. They never signed to SST like Fatso Jetson, or hooked up with Elektra Records like their more accessible acolytes in Kyuss.

In fact, until 19 years after they first got together, the closest thing Yawning Man to a proper document of their sprawling jams was a series of demos that would later be collected into The Birth of Sol (discussed here), which was released on vinyl through Cobraside Distribution in 2009 and on double-cassette earlier this year through Solid 7 Records in an edition of 100 copies. Yes, I bought one. Just now. While writing this post. It’s called multitasking.

So think about that: Yawning Man went 19 years before they put out a record. And when they did? Rock Formations was ahead of its time.

Issuing through Alone Records, the instrumentalists would catch the ears of an elite few in the burgeoning milieu of internet message boards, but what Rock Formations communicates even 13 years after its first release in 2005 is a sense of pastoral spaciousness. In Arce‘s signature guitar tone — which, not to take away from Mario Lalli‘s bass or Hernandez‘s drumming, which are of course essential to the proceedings — Yawning Man finds its center and emanates outward from there across 10 songs and 43 minutes that aren’t inactive, but seem to resonate a stillness all the same. It remains a gorgeous record.

But it’s not aggressive. And for a heavy underground who knew Yawning Man largely through the Kyuss cover of “Catamaran” — a song Yawning Man wrote but wouldn’t actually put on an album until 2018’s The Revolt Against Tired Noises (review here) — it was an unexpected turn of aesthetic despite ultimately being true to the band’s style, which has never been outwardly angry. Even in the more forward low end of “Advanced Darkness” or the surge in the final minute of “Stoney Lonesome,” which is the longest track at 6:03, Rock Formations holds to a laid back vibe that might have punk roots, but certainly draws from other sources as well.

In 2010, during an interview to talk about that year’s follow-up to Rock Formations, the still-excellent Nomadic Pursuits (review here), I somewhat sheepishly came right out and asked Arce about the development of his guitar tone. yawning man rock formationsCouldn’t help myself. He was kind enough not to call me a dunce and gave a somewhat unexpected answer about his early inspirations:

I’m really into Bauhaus. Seriously. I grew up in the early ‘80s, listening to bands like Bauhaus and I’ve always loved the way that band has their thing, so I’ve always modeled my sound after them. I don’t know if you can hear it. The guitar player is Daniel Ash who later formed Love and Rockets. That guy’s an awesome guitar player, and he’s always had this tone that I’ve loved since I was a kid. When I finally got a guitar, I experimented around a lot with different effects and pedals, and I came near to what he does. I don’t want to sound just like him (laughs), but that’s one of my biggest influences, actually, is Bauhaus… If you listen to Yawning Man and you listen to Bauhaus, Southern Death Cult, Lords of the New Church, you’ll hear it.

Goth rock. A secondary tag for Yawning Man has always been surf because of the echo surrounding Arce‘s guitar and the general rhythmic insistence of songs like “Airport Boulevard” and “Perpetual Oyster,” both highlights of Rock Formations, but I’ve always kept that connection to Bauhaus in mind when it comes to Arce‘s work in sundry projects, and he’s right. You can hear it. It’s part of what makes Rock Formations harder to place within a style like heavy rock. And 2005 was a moment of generational shift as well. The stoner rock wave of the late ’90s and early ’00s had crested, and Yawning Man didn’t really fit with that either.

As the ensuing years and the boom of a mobilized social media landscape would expand the definition of “heavy” to encompass a range of atmospheres, Yawning Man would find their place eventually. But it took people that amount of time to catch up to them, and so in its initial release, Rock Formations was nothing if not under-appreciated. To hear it now, the Western jangle of “Split Tooth Thunder” and closer “Buffalo Chips” and the exploratory ambience of “She Scares Me” are quintessential Yawning ManNomadic Pursuits was more a right-album-right-time situation and though they’d continue having trouble getting on the road for a variety of reasons, by the time they got around to 2015’s Historical Graffiti (review here), which was recorded in South America, they were more apt to get out and tour.

Europe, as it will, has been a focal point, and to coincide with The Revolt Against Tired NoisesYawning Man headed abroad for a massive stint to promote it. One could argue the last half-decade has seen the band get some measure of the respect they’ve long deserved, but Rock Formations was still well in advance of that. Imagine if it had come out in 1995 instead. The mind boggles.

Maybe it was as early as it was late, but somehow being out of its time, standing utterly apart, suits Rock Formations. Yawning Man have never been about setting themselves to an expectation of what heavy is, and while ‘heavy’ has caught up to them in the years since, it’s always been a question of them working on their own terms. More then a decade after the fact, with Yawning Man having taken their place among the most pivotal architects of desert rock, they still are.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

So here’s how it’s gonna go. This weekend is my sister’s birthday. We’re driving down to New Jersey to see her for the occasion. Great. I like New Jersey, I like my family. It all works out. At the same time, The Patient Mrs. has some thing in Boston this morning/afternoon. We have one car.

It goes that I’ll drive with her to Boston with The Pecan in tow, then he and I will go futz around town for a bit while she does her thing — I’m planning on picking up a proper USB microphone so I don’t sound like complete ass (at least in terms of sound quality) during Gimme Radio voice breaks — then go back and pick her up. The drive to Boston can be about 90 minutes in the morning. Any time of day, it is viscerally unpleasant.

After that, we’re supposed to go drive to Connecticut for the night to split up the ride between Massachusetts and New Jersey. We’re not packed. I have no idea what time it will be by then, but I know that the baby — who’s 1 now; Mr. Bigshot Pecan climbing the furniture — will have already been in the car for at least two hours. Then it’s two more from Boston to CT, at least, depending on how long it takes to get out of town, traffic on I-95 or the Masspike, etc.

We’ll end up back here tonight, then rolling down to NJ directly tomorrow morning first thing. There’s no escaping the brutality either way. Then Monday we’re going to hightail it back north at least to Connecticut because The Patient Mrs. has work back here in MA at some point whenever. That’s at least a three-‘u’ fuuuck.

One more thing that, were I 20-25 years old, wouldn’t be a problem. Now? I can’t make it through Rhode Island without falling asleep at the wheel.

This, basically to spend one day in New Jersey. I’m not even sure it’ll be a full 24 hours. One overnight. Woof.

Next Friday, when I’m bitching about how tired I’ve been all week, please someone remind me why. Also feel free to call me fat and tell me I’m a shitty parent. I’ll hear it either way.

Then buy a t-shirt. Thanks.

Here are the notes for next week, subject to change without prior notice:

Mon.: Little Jimi review/stream; maybe that new Greenleaf video.
Tue.: Godmaker/Somnuri split review; Yatra track premiere; Juniper Grave video premiere.
Wed.: Sundecay review/track premiere.
Thu.: Goliathan review/album stream.
Fri.: Arcadian Child review/track premiere.

Wherever possible and in situations where I’m cool enough to do so as deemed by labels, PR, management and the bands themselves — sundry gatekeepers — I’ve been trying to line up reviews and premieres. Gives people a little something more to dig into than my endless fucking blathering. It’s better when there’s a song there at the top of the post. Makes it more exciting for me too.

It’s not all premieres, but I’ve got reviews booked from now through the second week of December. Nothing like thinking ahead.

Pop pop pop. — That’s my brain in my skull.

Okay.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for reading. Thanks for reading. Thanks for reading. Tattoo it on my forearm. Thanks for reading.

Great and safe weekend. Forum and radio.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

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Sumac Touring West Coast in January

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sumac (Photo by Paul Gonzales)

On the heels of the September release of Love in Shadow, the cross-genre three-piece Sumac have announced they will head out on a West Coast tour in January to, I guess, bring an apocalyptic feel to 2019 like that which has been so prevalent throughout this year. Nifty news for those on the Pacific Seaboard, and with word from Thrill Jockey via the PR wire below that there’s European touring in the works, one assumes that’ll be in February/March perhaps as a precursor to an East Coast run later in 2019. Although, to be honest, they could just about go anywhere. Australia. Japan. South America. Who’s gonna say no to Sumac? “Uh yeah, I used to be in Isis and these two dudes are in Baptists and Russian Circles, so uh, could we get a gig?” Booked. Immediately. Headlining. With the promoter’s band opening.

You get the point. Here’s the info:

sumac tour poster

SUMAC ANNOUNCE U.S. WEST COAST TOURING IN JANUARY 2019

Their acclaimed new album, Love In Shadow, is out now on Thrill Jockey.

Following the release of their acclaimed album Love In Shadow, SUMAC will be embarking on a West Coast tour throughout the month of January 2019, joined by Divide & Dissolve and Tashi Dorji. SUMAC plan to tour Europe later this winter.

Love In Shadow is a brutalizing dive into love and all its raw emotions. SUMAC are always searching for a new approaches and challenges. Turner’s nimble songwriting combusted with the road-honed intuition and technical prowess of his bandmates results in a sound that is at once complex and primal. Earlier this year, the trio released the collaborative album American Dollar Bill – Keep Facing Sideways, You’re Too Hideous To Look At Face On with lauded Japanese artist Keiji Haino.

SUMAC Tour Dates w/ Divide & Dissolve, Tashi Dorji
Jan. 11 – Vancouver, BC – The Astoria
Jan. 12 – Seattle, WA – Sunset Tavern
Jan. 13 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
Jan. 15 – Chico, CA – Naked Lounge Coffee
Jan. 16 – Sacramento, CA – Harlow’s
Jan. 17 – San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
Jan. 18 – Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon
Jan. 19 – San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick
Jan. 20 – Phoenix, AZ – Rebel Lounge
Jan. 22 – El Paso, TX – Rockhouse Bar & Grill
Jan. 23 – Austin, TX – Barracuda
Jan. 24 – Dallas, TX – Club Dada
Jan. 26 – Albuquerque, NM – Sister
Jan. 27 – Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge

https://www.facebook.com/SUMACBAND/
https://www.twitter.com/sumacband
http://www.facebook.com/thrilljockey
http://www.twitter.com/thrilljockey
http://www.instagram.com/thrilljockey

Sumac, Love in Shadow (2018)

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John Garcia and the Band of Gold Post “Chicken Delight” Lyric Video; Playing Planet Desert Rock Weekend Nov. 29

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

john garcia and the band of gold

Later this month, John Garcia and the Band of Gold take the stage headlining the first night of the inaugural Planet Desert Rock Weekend. Put together by Vegas Rock Revolution, it’s an impeccably curated evening celebrating what’s a rare onstage US appearance for Garcia, with performances by Nick Oliveri, Luna Sol which features Hermano‘s Dave Angstrom, and Death in Pretty Wrapping, which has Arthur Seay also from Unida (and House of Broken Promises) on guitar. The idea is everyone kind of gets together and rocks out at Vinyl at the Hard Rock Cafe and Hotel in Vegas, joining Garcia onstage to play tracks from his past outfits and so on.

There’s also a whole weekend of insanity planned (info here), but no question that for US concertgoers, seeing Garcia these days isn’t something that happens all that often. Since Vista Chino went their separate ways, he’s focused heavily on Europe with acoustic tours and festival appearances, and fair enough given that market.

So far as he’s said, this will be his only US show for the upcoming John Garcia and the Band of Gold album.

That album, self-titled, is due out Jan. 4, 2019, via Napalm Records, and they’ve newly unveiled a lyric video — kind of standard procedure at this point — to introduce one of the tracks. Dubbed “Chicken Delight,” the song is not one of the several redux’ed from Garcia‘s last outing, which was 2017’s mostly-unplugged The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here), but instead is all-new and thus far exclusive to this album. Though it’d work acoustic as well. Those curious as to how the reunion might sound between Garcia and producer Chris Goss, who once upon a time produced genre-defining LPs for Garcia‘s band Kyuss, go ahead and take note, because that’s what’s happening here.

A month-long stretch of European tour dates has been announced to follow shortly after the album’s release. You might recall that tour was initially supposed to happen this Fall but was rescheduled to allow for the recording to be done, because, well, let’s face it. If you’re going on tour for a month and you’re about to finish a new record, you probably want to be able to take it along with you. The Jan.-Feb. stint will allow for that.

Those dates as well as more info follow the clip here, courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

John Garcia and the Band of Gold, “Chicken Delight” official lyric video

Desert Rock frontman extraordinaire, JOHN GARCIA, has just released”Chicken Delight”, the first single of the new album John Garcia And The Band Of Gold. Today the Kyuss legend unveils the official lyric video for the relaxed groover straight out of the desert!

“Chicken Delight”is the perfect beginning of your California desert trip that opens out to a new album that melts down the whole subgenre to the core! It’s the perfect mix of his trademarked voice and the groovy, laid back and dusty sound that lies within every chord that makes your mind fly away. Over the last almost three decades, JOHN GARCIA’s voice has set the standard for the sound of the California desert and “Chicken Delight” takes it one step further.

Pre-order “John Garcia And The Band Of Gold” here: http://smarturl.it/JGATBOG

Out January 4th

John Garcia And The Band Of Gold Live:
After having a meeting between his musical past and present, by playing on one stage with Nick Oliveri (ex-Kyuss), Dave Angstrom (ex-Hermano) and Arthur Seay (ex-Unida) on November 29 in Las Vegas, JOHN GARCIA will return to an extensive tour through Europe with his Band Of Gold:

Special Show w/ Nick Oliveri, Luna Sol, Death in Pretty Wrapping
29.11.18 US – Las Vegas / Vinyl

European Tour 2019
w/ Dead Quiet
23.01.19 FR – Paris / Le Trabendo
24.01.19 FR – Bordeaux / Le Krakatoa
25.01.19 ES – Madrid / Caracol
26.01.19 ES – Barcelona / Razzamatazz 2
28.01.19 FR – Lyon / Le Kao
29.01.19 CH – Zurich / Bogen F.
30.01.19 IT – Milan / Santeria Club
31.01.19 DE – Munich / Backstage Halle
02.02.19 AT – Graz / Explosiv
03.02.19 HU – Budapest / A38
04.02.19 CZ – Prague / Rock Café
05.02.19 DE – Nuremberg / Hirsch
07.02.19 DE – Jena / F-Haus
08.02.19 DE – Berlin / SO36
09.02.19 DK – Copenhagen / Loppen
10.02.19 NO – Oslo / John Dee
12.02.19 FI – Helsinki / Tavastia
14.02.19 SE – Stockholm / Debaser Strand
15.02.19 SE – Gothenburg / Sticky Fingers
16.02.19 DE – Hamburg / Gruenspan
17.02.19 DE – Cologne / Helios 37
19.02.19 BE – Leuven / Het Depot
20.02.19 DE – Aschaffenburg / Colos-Sal
21.02.19 DE – Essen / Turock
22.02.19 NL – Tilburg / 013
23.02.19 UK – London / O2 Academy Islington

John Garcia And The Band Of Gold are:
John Garcia – vocals
Ehren Groban – guitar
Mike Pygmie – bass
Greg Saenz – drums

John Garcia on Thee Facebooks

John Garcia on Instgram

Napalm Records webstore

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Castle, Deal Thy Fate: Can’t Escape the Evil

Posted in Reviews on November 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

castle deal thy fate

All Castle do is kick ass. That’s their whole thing, and they do not veer from that central purpose. They’ve been at it for nearly a decade. Deal Thy Fate is their fifth album in that time as well as their first for Ripple Music after releasing 2016’s Welcome to the Graveyard (review here) as a return to Ván Records out of Germany, which also released their debut in 2011, and the latest work continues to highlight the point of just how brutally underappreciated they are. It is nine songs — eight and a “Prelude” leading to “Hexenring” on side A — and runs a clean 36 minutes recorded live at least in its basic tracks with the core duo of bassist/vocalist Liz Blackwell and guitarist Mat Davis joined by touring drummer Chase Manhattan in Hallowed Halls Studio with Billy Anderson at the helm. That is not a new band/producer collaboration. Castle have worked with Anderson on the three albums since 2012’s Blacklands, that being 2014’s Under Siege and the aforementioned 2016 outing.

And as far as capturing their sound goes, it’s not by any means a broken system. Easily parsed into two vinyl sides, Deal Thy Fate captures eerie vibes and classically metal tones with a natural underpinning born of the developed instrumental chemistry between Blackwell and Davis, who in the band’s time have relocated first from Toronto to San Francisco and, for this album, from San Francisco to the Mojave Desert, where they wrote the songs. Perhaps though where they ultimately reside is moot, since they spend so much time on tour anyway. One way or the other, their sound is defined more by their own pursuit of truth in heavy metal rather than geography — that is, they didn’t move to the desert and start making desert rock. They’re still Castle, which for the steadily growing cult following they’ve amassed by delivering their sharp, thrash-informed riffing to listeners one gig at a time, should only be a relief. If you’ll pardon me for saying so, that cult should probably be bigger — hence “underappreciated” above.

The reasons to take that position run from the hooks of opener “Can’t Escape the Evil,” “Wait for Dark,” and “Haunted” to the eerie atmosphere that “Prelude” sets for “Hexenring” and the sharp turns later in “Red Phantom” ahead of the dynamic and spacious closer “Firewind.” To look at the tracklisting, with only “Hexenring” hitting five minutes long, its intro at 32 seconds and everything else somewhere in the four-minute range, Deal Thy Fate is deceptive, because while the runtimes are similar, what Castle does in each changes. Structures are largely straightforward, but as “Skull in the Woods” unfolds its central riff that seems to be trying to run away from itself after the brash moshfodder of “Can’t Escape the Evil,” a subtle sense of breadth begins to take hold. Davis by then has already tossed off however many pro-shop solos, and Blackwell‘s vocals have arrived in deftly-arranged layers, so the stage is well set, but the atmosphere continues to deepen as the album plays out subsequent to that, and in that way, Castle reveal perhaps their most distinguishing factor.

castle

Blackwell is nothing short of a metal hero as frontwoman, and Davis plays the quiet conjurer well, leading the way through tight, headbang-ready grooves that not only remind of when denim and leather brought people together, but also of the many seasons spent in the abyss. But what they bring by working so much in concert as they do — and especially with Manhattan, a real live drummer able to drive forward each of the album’s varied progressions — is a spirit of creepy-worship that goes beyond skulls in the woods, hauntings and phantoms. It goes beyond horror themes to the very core of the band itself, and in that, it’s difficult to pinpoint but all the more enticing for that. There’s something dark in their work that comes through almost on a subconscious level, and I’m not exaggerating. As familiar as some of their sonic elements inherently are — thrash isn’t new, and classic metal, by its very nature, is a known commodity — there’s a twisted layer of the psychological beneath. Something in the personality of the band that’s as intangible as it is grim.

It runs deeper than the busy iconography of the Patrick Zoller cover art, though perhaps that speaks as well to the complexity of the message across Deal Thy Fate. “Wait for Dark” rolls out a fist-pumper nod after the mostly-mid-paced mini-epic “Hexenring” and soon gives way to the title-track opening side B. From there, “Haunted,” “Red Phantom” and “Firewind” only affirm the fierce grip Castle have on their approach and their raw, unpretentious take on what metal should be and could have become. Maybe that’s it. Think of Castle not as a vision of what heavy metal is, but as a vision of what heavy metal could have become. It’s not about splitting into subgenres of subgenres, though one could tag any number of them to Deal Thy Fate, and hey, that’s fun, I won’t argue with it. But if you take the totality of what their work over the last decade does and more crucially what this album does, with the “Looks that Kill” riff of “Haunted” and the quiet start of “Firewind,” the razor’s-edge guitar slices in “Skull in the Woods” and the determined sweaty push of “Deal Thy Fate” itself, it does for metal what so much heavy rock does in providing an alternate modern interpretation of those classic forms.

Castle are outliers. They’re not retro thrash. They’re not trying to revisit the NWOBHM. They’re not strictly doom. They’re metal. And the metal they play isn’t about joining a side to the exclusion of all else, but about celebrating what brings — or could bring — it all together. Their metal is encompassing, and in that, it provides an alternative look at what might’ve happened had the development of metal — the umbrella-genre of it — grown to take everything in rather than splinter into various extremities. Is that their conscious intention? I have no idea. But it’s how Deal Thy Fate plays out. It’s the album’s fate. And we know from their past work as well as their current that Castle are nothing if not self-determined, so take it as you will.

More important even than their lack of pretense or the natural state from which their material seems to arise — that is, they’ve never sounded overly showy or dramatic about what they do and they don’t here either — is the fact that Castle are happening right now. It’s 2018, they’ve got five records out, and they’re the kind of band who, whenever they actually call it a day, are going to be more missed than people know. They’re reaped critical acclaim for a long time, and have worked hard to translate that into audience appreciation to the degree they have, but Castle deserve to be heard by as many ears as possible, and until the next one arrives, Deal Thy Fate is the best way to go about it. Young or old, their metal should be your metal.

Castle, “Deal Thy Fate” official video

Castle, Deal Thy Fate (2018)

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Lords of Beacon House Release New Album LOBH II: Recreational Sorcery

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

lords of beacon house

I’ll just assume that sooner or later I’m going to get a press release down the PR wire about Lords of Beacon House getting picked up by this or that label — Ripple, RidingEasy, someone else who doesn’t necessarily start with the letter ‘R’ — for a vinyl release of their second album, LOBH II: Recreational Sorcery. Has to happen, right? Their 2015 self-titled debut (discussed here) came out on HomHomHom, and they had a split last year with Great Electric Quest on Midnite Collective, so yeah, if neither of them has already stepped in to handle the task — and I don’t know that they haven’t — it seems entirely likely that someone else would. Some things are too good to go un-pressed.

In the interim, however, Lords of Beacon House have made the album available digitally through their Bandcamp page, so if you want to be one of those people who are like, “Yeah, I was way into this record before it got put on LP, so, you know, special edition for me,” and all that, now’s your chance to be Johnny Groundfloor on it.

Recorded by Steve Kille from Dead Meadow, streaming in full, tour dates to follow sooner or later. Have at it:

lords of beacon house lobh ii recreational sorcery

LOBH II: Recreational Sorcery

Conjured and conceived over the span of two endless winters, guided and designed by forces unseen, and nearly claiming the lives of some of the band, this work has finally been approved by The Council to be unleashed upon mankind.

Behold, “Recreational Sorcery” the long-awaited sophomore release by the infamous Los Angeles heavy outfit Lords of Beacon House.

Something you might not know… “Tourniquet of Destiny”, a number depicting man accepting his fate and plunging further into darkness, features a cameo from underground brother and living legend Travis Baucum of Red Wizard fame on the blues harp. Stoked on this collaboration.

Tracklisting:
1. Recreational Sorcery 05:32
2. Graveyard Blues 03:15
3. Crown of Flies 07:16
4. Fool’s Gold 06:53
5. Poor Man’s Furs 05:14
6. Yonder Go That Ol’ Black Rider 04:41
7. Tourniquet of Destiny 04:29
8. Devil Dog Road 09:37

Engineered/Mixed by Steve Kille at Xemu Studios
Mastered by Erol Ulug at Bright Lights Studios
Produced by Lords of Beacon House
Artwork by Adam Burke at Nightjar Illustration

Lords of Beacon House are:
Michael Lopez (Drums/Percussion)
Amir Ouaddi (Bass Guitar/Lead Vocals)
Peter King (Guitar/Backup Vocals)
Travis Baucum (Harmonica)

https://www.facebook.com/Lords-of-Beacon-House-714064795308176/
http://lordsofbeaconhouse.bandcamp.com/
http://lordsofbeaconhouse.com/

Lords of Beacon House, LOBH II: Recreational Sorcery (2018)

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Psycho Smokeout Set for April 20 in Los Angeles; Elder, Monolord, Amenra, Belzebong and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

psycho smokeout 2019

With the advent of the Psycho Smokeout in Los Angeles next April 20, Psycho Entertainment partners with RidingEasy Records and enters the fray of a busy Spring festival season, pushing Elder and Monolord into headliner positions that both deserve and importing other Psycho veterans like Amenra and Belzebong alongside RidingEasy groups Here Lies Man, Electric Citizen, BlackWater HolyLight, R.I.P. and Zig Zags. If you don’t see the significance of this, think of all the fests happening in Europe at the time, whether it’s Roadburn just one week before or Desertfest the first weekend of May. Lineup-wise, the first-ever Psycho Smokeout would seem to be more in line with the latter than the former, but still, it’s a packed Spring for those up for a bit of intercontinental travel.

However, a killer lineup is a killer lineup, and the Psycho Smokeout has one. Looks like it’ll just be the one day — fortunate that April 20 is a Saturday in 2019 — and I’ll assume it’s two stages, though I don’t have confirmation of that or really anything other than the groups playing, which, frankly, is enough for the moment. April’s a ways away, so there may be changes and whatnot, but especially if this takes off, it’s an important happening in the market and bound to turn heads.

RidingEasy‘s announcement and the lineup info follow:

psycho smokeout 2019 poster

The rumors are true! We’ve teamed up with Psycho Las Vegas For the first annual psycho smoke out on 4/20 in LOS ANGELES. We’ll be vending and loads of our bands are playing including but not limited to Monolord R.I.P. Electric Citizen Blackwater Holylight Here Lies Man Zig Zags and more!!!!

Tickets on sale https://psychosmokeout.eventbrite.com/.

RidingEasy Records & Psycho Entertainment present:
First Annual “Psycho Smokeout”
Saturday, April 20th, 2019
Catch One Riff Compound, Los Angeles

|| FULL LINEUP ||

MONOLORD . ELDER . AMENRA . BELZEBONG . DREADNOUGHT . UADA . GOYA . ELECTRIC CITIZEN . CHRCH . CLOAK . HERE LIES MAN . TOKE . RIP . ZIG ZAGS . HAUNT . CLOVEN . HOWLING GIANT . BLACKWATER HOLYLIGHT

https://www.facebook.com/events/179272422957103/

https://www.vivapsycho.com/
http://www.ridingeasyrecs.com/

Monolord, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2018

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