Quarterly Review: Dopelord, Scorched Oak, Kings of the Fucking Sea, Mantarraya, Häxmästaren, Shiva the Destructor, Amammoth, Nineteen Thirteen, Ikitan, Smote

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Third day, and you know what that means. Today we hit and pass the halfway mark of this Quarterly Review. I won’t say it hasn’t been work, but it seems like every time I do one of these lately I continue to be astounded by how much easier writing about good stuff makes it. I must’ve done a real clunker like two years ago or something. Can’t think of one, but wow, it’s way more fun when the tunes are killer.

To that end we start with Dopelord today, haha. Have fun digging through if you do.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Dopelord, Reality Dagger

Dopelord Reality Dagger

They put it in a 12″, and that’s cool, but in addition to the fact that it’s about 22 minutes long, something about Reality Dagger, the latest EP from Poland’s Dopelord, strikes me as being really 10″ worthy. I know 10″ is the bastard son of vinyl pressings — doesn’t fit with your LPs and doesn’t fit with your 7″s. They’re a nuisance. Do they get their own shelf? Mixed in throughout? Well, however you organize them, I think a limited 10″ of Reality Dagger would be perfect, because from the melodies strewn throughout “Dark Coils” and the wildly catchy “Your Blood” — maybe the most complex vocal arrangement I’ve yet heard from the band — to the ultra-sludge interplay with screams on the 10-minute closing title-track, it sounds to me like standing out from the crowd is exactly what Dopelord want to do. They want to be that band that doesn’t fit your preconceptions of stoner-doom, or sludge, or modern heavy largesse in the post-Monolord vein. Why not match that admirable drive in format? Oh hell, you know what? I’ll just by the CD and have done with it. One of the best EPs I’ve heard this year.

Dopelord on Thee Facebooks

Dopelord on Bandcamp

 

Scorched Oak, Withering Earth

Scorched Oak Withering Earth

Don’t be surprised when you see Kozmik Artifactz, Nasoni Records, or some other respected probably-European purveyor of heavy coming through with an announcement they’ve picked up Scorched Oak. The Dortmund, Germany, trio seem to have taken the last few years to figure out where they were headed — they pared down from a five-piece, for example — and their rolling tides of fuzz on late-2020’s debut LP Withering Earth bears the fruit of those efforts. Aesthetically and structurally sound, it’s able to touch on heavy blues, metal and drifting psychedelia all within the span of a seven-minute track like “Swamp,” and in its five-songs running shortest to longest, it effectively draws the listener deeper into the world the band are creating through dual vocals, patient craft and spacious production. If I was a label, I’d sign them for the bass tone on 14-minute closer “Desert” alone, never mind any of the other natural phenomena they portray throughout the record, which is perhaps grim in theme but nonetheless brimming with potential. Some cool riffs on this dying planet.

Scorched Oak on Thee Facebooks

Scorched Oak on Bandcamp

 

Kings of the Fucking Sea, In Concert

Kings of the Fucking Sea In Concert

A scorching set culled from two nights of performances in their native Nashville, what’s essentially serving as Kings of the Fucking Sea‘s debut long-player, In Concert, is a paean to raw psychedelic power trio worship. High order ripper groove pervades “Witch Mountain” and the wasn’t-yet-named “Hiding No More” — which was introduced tentatively as “Death Dealer,” which the following track is actually titled. Disorienting? Shit yeah it is. And shove all the poignancy of making a live album in Feb. 2020 ahead of the pandemic blah blah. That’s not what’s happening here. This is all about blow-the-door-so-we-can-escape psychedelic pull and thrust. One gets the sense that Kings of the Fucking Sea are more in control than they let on, but they play it fast and loose and slow and loose throughout In Concert and by the time the mellower jam in “I Walk Alone” opens up to the garage-style wash of crash cymbal ahead of closer “The Nile Song,” the swirling fuckall that ensues is rampant with noise-coated fire. A show that might make you look up from your phone. So cool it might be jazz. I gotta think about it.

Kings of the Fucking Sea on Thee Facebooks

Agitated Records on Bandcamp

 

Mantarraya, Mantarraya

mantarraya mantarraya

They bill themselves as ‘Mantarraya – power trío,’ and guitarist/vocalist Herman Robles Montero, drummer/maybe-harmonica-ist Kelvin Sifuentes Pérez and bassist/vocalist Enzo Silva Agurto certainly live up to that standard on their late-2020 self-titled debut full-length. The vibe is classic heavy ’70s through and through, and the Peruvian three-piece roll and boogie through the 11 assembled tracks with fervent bluesy swing on “En el Fondo” and no shortage of shuffle throughout the nine-minute “120 Años (Color),” which comes paired with the trippier “Almendrados” in what seems like a purposeful nod to the more out-there among the out there, bringing things back around to finish swinging and bouncing on the eponymous closer. I’ll take the classic boogie as it comes, and Mantarraya do it well, basking in a natural but not too purposefully so sense of underproduction while getting their point across in encouraging-first-record fashion. At over an hour long, it’s too much for a single LP, but plenty of time for them to get their bearings as they begin their creative journey.

Mantarraya on Thee Facebooks

Mantarraya on Bandcamp

 

Häxmästaren, Sol i Exil

Häxmästaren sol i exil

At the risk of repeating myself, someone’s gonna sign Häxmästaren. You can just tell. The Swedish five-piece’s second album, Sol i Exil (“sun in exile,” in English), is a mélange of heavy rock and classic doom influences, blurring the lines between microgenres en route to an individual approach that’s still accessible enough in a riffer like “Millennium Phenomenon” or “Dödskult Ritual” to be immediately familiar and telegraph to the converted where the band are coming from. Vocalist Niklas Ekwall — any relation to Magnus from The Quill? — mixes in some screams and growls to his melodic style, further broadening the palette and adding an edge of extremity to “Children of the Mountain,” while “Growing Horns” and the capper title-track vibe out with with a more classic feel, whatever gutturalisms happen along the way, the latter feeling like a bonus for being in Swedish. In the ever-fertile creative ground that is Gothenburg, it should be no surprise to find a band like this flourishing, but fortunately Sol i Exil doesn’t have to be a surprise to kick ass.

Häxmästaren on Thee Facebooks

Häxmästaren on Bandcamp

 

Shiva the Destructor, Find the Others

SHIVA THE DESTRUCTOR FIND THE OTHERS

Launching with the nine-minute instrumental “Benares” is a telling way for Kyiv’s Shiva the Destructor to begin their debut LP, since it immediately sets listener immersion as their priority. The five-track/44-minute album isn’t short on it, either, and with the band’s progressive, meditative psychedelic style, each song unfolds in its own way and in its own time, drawn together through warmth of tone and periods of heft and spaciousness on “Hydronaut” and a bit of playful bounce on “Summer of Love” (someone in this band likes reggae) and a Middle Eastern turn on “Ishtar” before “Nirvana Beach” seems to use the lyrics to describe what’s happening in the music itself before cutting off suddenly at the end. Vocals stand alone or in harmony and the double-guitar four-piece bask in a sunshine-coated sound that’s inviting and hypnotic in kind, offering turns enough to keep their audience following along and undulations that are duly a clarion to the ‘others’ referenced in the title. It’s like a call to prayer for weirdo psych heads. I’ll take that and hope for more to come.

Shiva the Destructor on Thee Facebooks

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

 

Amammoth, The Fire Above

amammoth the fire above

The first and only lyric in “Heal” — the opening track of Sydney, Australia, trio Amammoth‘s debut album, The Fire Above — is the word “marijuana.” It doesn’t get any less stoned from there. Riffs come in massive waves, and even as “The Sun” digs into a bit of sludge, the largesse and crash remains thoroughly weedian, with the lumbering “Shadows” closing out the first half of the LP with particularly Sleep-y nod. Rawer shouted vocals also recall earlier Sleep, but something in Amammoth‘s sound hints toward a more metallic background than just pure Sabbath worship, and “Rise” brings that forward even as it pushes into slow-wah psychedelics, letting “Blade Runner” mirror “The Sun” in its sludgy push before closer “Walk Towards What Blinds You (Blood Bong)” introduces some backing vocals that fit surprisingly well even they kind of feel like a goof on the part of the band. Amammoth, as a word, would seem to be something not-mammoth. In sound, Amammoth are the opposite.

Amammoth on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Nineteen Thirteen, MCMXIII

nineteen thirteen mcmxiii

With emotional stakes sufficiently high throughout, MCMXIII is urgent enough to be post-hardcore, but there’s an underpinning of progressive heavy rock even in the mellower stretch of the eight-minute “Dogfight” that complements the noisier and more angular aspects on display elsewhere. Opener “Post Blue Collar Blues” sets the plotline for the newcomer Dayton, Ohio, four-piece, with thoughtful lyrics and a cerebral-but-not-dead-of-spirit instrumental style made full and spacious through the production. Melodies flesh out in “Cripple John” and “Old Face on the Wall,” brooding and surging in children-of-the-’90s fashion, but I hear a bit of Wovenhand in that finale as well — though maybe the one doesn’t exclude the other — so clearly Nineteen Thirteen are just beginning this obviously-passion-fueled exploration of sound aesthetic with these songs, but the debut EP they comprise cuts a wide swath with marked confidence and deceptive memorability. A new turn on Rust Belt heavy.

Nineteen Thirteen on Thee Facebooks

Nineteen Thirteen on Bandcamp

 

Ikitan, Twenty-Twenty

ikitan twenty-twenty

Hey, you process trauma from living through the last year your way and Genova, Italy’s Ikitan will process it theirs. In their case, that means the writing, recording and self-release of their 20-minute single-song EP, Twenty-Twenty, a sprawling work of instrumentalist heavy post-rock rife with spacious, airy lead guitar and a solid rhythmic foundation. Movements occur in waves and layers, but there is a definite thread being woven throughout the outing from one part to the next, held together alternately by the bass or drums or even guitar, though it’s the latter that seems to be leading those changes as well. The shifts are fluid in any case, and Ikitan grow Twenty-Twenty‘s lone, titular piece to a satisfyingly heft as they move through, harnessing atmosphere as well as weight even before they lower volume for stretches in the second half. There’s a quick surge at the end, but “Twenty-Twenty” is more about journey than destination, and Ikitan make the voyage enticing.

Ikitan on Thee Facebooks

Ikitan on Bandcamp

 

Smote, Bodkin

smote bodkin

Loops, far-out spaces and a generally experimentalist feel ooze outward like Icelandic lava from Bodkin, the five-song debut LP from UK-based solo-outfit Smote. The gentleman behind the flow is Newcastle upon Tyne’s Daniel Foggin, and this is one of three releases he has out so far in 2021, along with a prior drone collaboration tape with Forest Mourning and a subsequent EP made of two tracks at around 15 minutes each. Clearly a project that can be done indoors during pandemic lockdown, Smote‘s material is wide-ranging just the same, bringing Eastern multi-instrumentalism and traditionalist UK psych together on “Fohrt” and “Moninna,” which would border on folk but for all that buzz in the background. The 11-minute “Motte” is a highlight of acid ritualizing, but the droning title-track that rounds out makes each crash count all the more for the spaces that separate them. I dig this a lot, between you and me. I get vibes like Lamp of the Universe here in terms of sonic ambition and resultant presence. That’s not a comparison I make lightly, and this is a project I will be following.

Smote on Bandcamp

Weird Beard Records store

 

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Days of Rona: Shaun H. of Close the Hatch

Posted in Features on May 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the varied responses of publics and governments worldwide, and the disruption to lives and livelihoods has reached a scale that is unprecedented. Whatever the month or the month after or the future itself brings, more than one generation will bear the mark of having lived through this time, and art, artists, and those who provide the support system to help uphold them have all been affected.

In continuing the Days of Rona feature, it remains pivotal to give a varied human perspective on these events and these responses. It is important to remind ourselves that whether someone is devastated or untouched, sick or well, we are all thinking, feeling people with lives we want to live again, whatever renewed shape they might take from this point onward. We all have to embrace a new normal. What will that be and how will we get there?

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

close-the-hatch-shaun-h

Days of Rona: Shaun H. of Close the Hatch (Dayton, Ohio)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health far?

We are all doing our best to stay busy but still communicating internally. Plans for booking shows and touring are on hold. We had to cancel a small group of dates unfortunately. We are all healthy thankfully. Healthy Friends and Family as well. Fortunate to have that.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

There is a stay at home order in place but it is slowly relaxing a bit. It is all day to day. Ohio was quick to lock down so it slowed some of the spread initially. Who knows how it will all turn out though?!

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

Venues locally are hurting, a lot of the local crowd are in the service industry & they have been hit the hardest. There has been some good in that people are selling things online and doing live streams to some extent.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

First just stay safe and healthy in your communities. We all have our hurdles here. Some of us are unemployed , some are working significantly less, one of our crew is unable to go home to be with his wife due to this whole virus thing. They have a home in Canada and he is not a citizen of Canada yet so he cannot cross the border until restrictions lift. If you are with family don’t take it for granted. Thanks for chatting with us.

http://www.closethehatch.com
http://www.facebook.com/CloseTheHatch/
http://www.instagram.com/closethehatch
http://www.redmothrecords.com/
http://www.facebook.com/RedMothLLC
http://www.instagram.com/redmothllc

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Quarterly Review: King Hitter, Desert Storm, Sendelica, Drifter, Sula Bassana, Strange Here, Once-Ler, Waingro, Motorgoat, The Seduction

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I must be out of my damned mind. After wrapping up last year with a special feature comprising 50 reviews spread over five days, I’ve somehow decided that it’s not a bad way to do things. So here we are. It’s been three months, that’s a quarter of a year, so it seems only fair to have a Quarterly Review to catch up on some things that might otherwise have gone missed.

And that’s precisely what we’ll do. Between now and Friday, it’ll be 10 reviews per day, rounding up releases from the last couple months. Some are out now, some aren’t out yet, but it’s all recent one way or another. Like with the Last Licks 2014, I’ll be checking in each day as well. Should be fun to see how my mental status deteriorates over the course of the next few days, until my brains are little more than a stinky jelly dripping from out my ears on Friday. At least that’s how I remember it going last time.

So let’s go:

King Hitter, King Hitter

king hitter king hitter

A North Carolina five-piece fronted by vocalist Karl Agell, best known as the frontman of Corrosion of Conformity for their 1991 Blind album – he’s also currently reviving that album live on stage with drummer Reed Mullin in C.O.C. Blind – the new outfit King Hitter reunites the singer with his former Leadfoot bandmate, guitarist Scott Little, and they test the waters with a five-track self-titled EP delivered via Candlelight Records. Crisply-produced, songs like “King Hitter” and “Feel No Pain” hit hard and gruff with just a touch of Southern heavy rock flair. The power of Agell’s voice is undiminished, but production is maybe too evident at times, and when they get down to the chugging “Suicide (Is the Retirement Plan,” politics meet personal perspective in a way that strikes deeper than might’ve been intended. Little and fellow guitarist Mike Brown, bassist Chuck Manning and drummer Jon Chambliss turn in worthy performances, but Agell’s command captures a good deal of the attention on this satisfying showcase of a songwriting process getting underway.

King Hitter on Thee Facebooks

King Hitter at Candlelight’s Bandcamp

Desert Storm, Omniscient

desert storm omniscient

Because one invariably measures British anything in “waves,” we’ll put Oxford double-guitar five-some at the crest of the New Wave of British Burl. Omniscient is their third full-length behind 2013’s Horizontal Life and their 2010 debut, Forked Tongues (review here), and it arrives through Blindsight Records with all the brash Southern metal riffing and dudely bellow one might expect. Orange Goblin are an immediate name to drop in comparison to opener “Outlander,” but “Queen Reefer”’s quiet solo section adds breadth and the acoustic “Home,” the Clutchy “Night Bus Blues” and the stomping, subtle djentery of closer “Collapse of the Bison Lung” continue to reveal an extended palette. A richer listen than it might appear the first time through, Omniscient still revels in its heaviness on “Blue Snake Moan” and “Sway of the Tides,” etc., but changes like the tempo downshift in “Horizon” give fodder for repeat visits to Desert Storm’s howling third offering.

Desert Storm on Thee Facebooks

Desert Storm at Blindsight Records’ Bandcamp

Sendelica, Anima Mundi

sendelica anima mundi

Welsh space rockers Sendelica feel out some pretty peaceful vibes on songs like “The Pillar of Delhi,” “Azoic” or the sweet-washing closer “The Hedge Witch” from their self-released cosmos-tripper Anima Mundi, but there’s no shortage of spaced-out push either in songs like the 12-minute jam “Master Benjamin Warned Young Albert Not to Step on the Uninsulated Air” and electronic-pulsing “Baalbek Stones.” An experimental spirit underlies each of the eight included instrumental cuts, elements like sax, synth, keyboards, theremin, flute and various effects intertwining throughout Anima Muni’s 54-minute sprawl. Quiet moments like “Azoic” work well, but I won’t take away from the buzzsaw tone or swing behind “The Breyr, the Taeogion and the Caethion” either. The truly fortunate aspect of Sendelica’s latest is that it flows between its individual pieces, putting the listener in a position of open-minded experience while working around and through various psychedelic impulses, carefully woven and balanced in the mix, but vibrant and exciting and loose-feeling just the same.

Sendelica on Thee Facebooks

Sendeica on Bandcamp

Drifter, Violent at Altitude

drifter violent at altitude

Of the 13 songs on Melbourne trio Drifter’s Desert Highways debut LP, Violent at Altitude, only four reach past the three-minute mark, and even most of those play off a fuzz-punk intensity, shades of Melvins weirdness and Nick Oliveri heavy punker charge showing up in cuts like “Cool Breeze” or the raw, open “Another Life.” Closer “So Long” is given another look from Drifter’s 2013 debut EP, Head (review here), which it also capped, but the feel across Violent at Altitude is that guitarist/vocalist Dan King, bassist/vocalist Troy Dawson and drummer/vocalist Dave Payne is exploring the place where grunge and punk met on pieces like “Bi Polar,” the relatively spacey “Devil Digger” and quick-blasting 1:45 rush of “Russian Roulette,” their tones mean and their attack primal in its overall affect in a way that belies the stylistic nuance at work throughout. You can listen on an analytical level or you can be steamrolled by “Drugs.” Your call. Either way, Drifter are gonna tear it up in accordance with the altitude they’ve apparently hit.

Drifter on Thee Facebooks

Drifter at Desert Highways’ Bandcamp

Sula Bassana, Live at Roadburn 2014

sula bassana live at roadburn 2014

Sula Bassana’s performance at Roadburn 2014 was their first as a full band. The experimental psychedelic project of guitarist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (see also Electric Moon, Krautzone, Zone Six, Weltraumstaunen, etc.) came to life with his Electric Moon bandmates Komet Lulu on bass and Marcus Schnitzler on drums, as well as Zone Six’s Rainer Neeff on guitar, and the four jams of the live recording Live at Roadburn 2014 tell the tale brilliantly. Schmidt, who is quite simply among the foremost heavy psych jammers in the world, leads the four-piece through cascading movements, immersive and clear on record as they were in person, rich with a sense of improvised creation even if based on prior parts. Anything went, as the 18-minute “Dark Days” showcases here, with synth and guitar and heavy bass intertwining to a brilliant cosmic whole, Schnitzler’s drums holding the proceedings together wonderfully. Short at 50 minutes, it’s every bit as switched on as one might expect in a studio album from these players, blurring yet another line as they expand psych-rock consciousness.

Sula Bassana on Thee Facebooks

Live at Roadburn 2014 at Sulatron Records

Strange Here, II

strange here ii

To listen to opener “Still Alone” from Strange Here’s Minotauro Records raw second LP, II, one might expect that Alexander Scardavian (ex-Paul Chain) and Domenico “Dom” Lotito (ex-Hand of God) are presenting some loosely-swung classic doom, shades of Candlemass and Death SS filtered through heavy riffing and Scardavian’s gruff vocals, but that’s barely half the story. More is told by putting eight-minute tracks “Born to Lose” and “Black, Grey and White” next to each other, as they appear here. Following the opening duo of “Still Alone” and the echoing “Kiss of Worms,” the two longer cuts unveil a sound alternately diving into morose doomed march and spacious psychedelic flourish. That blend continues as the marching “Acid Rain” gives way to the acoustic/drone interplay of “Only If…”and comes to a head on closer “Shiftless,” a contrast of back-and-forth impulses played off each other throughout the 47-minute offering. There’s work to do bringing the sides together should Strange Here choose to go that route, though the lines drawn between make it that much easier to catch the listener off guard, which II just might.

Strange Here on Thee Facebooks

Strange Here at Minotauro Records’ Bandcamp

Once-Ler, Once-Ler

once-ler once-ler

Marked out by the jazzy noodling of “The Douche Bag Guru” and the funky bassline on “Drift,” the new self-titled EP from Dayton, Ohio, four-piece Once-Ler dates back a decade in some of its material, the track “Law Dog” having appeared on the band’s 2005 full-length, Entropy. It’s an unassuming rumble, sort of humbly produced for a garage-heavy feel, but the clarity of purpose in centerpiece “Swing the Leg”’s crashing progression is plain enough to hear, and opener “The Victim” is the longest cut at 6:43, earning immediate points. A prog-metal undertone in that track sets up some expectation that the EP veers quickly away from with “Drift,” but guitarist Burns, bassist Deininger, vocalist Reif and drummer Minarcek make a solid case despite the rough sonic edges in the recording. At 25 minutes, Once-Ler’s Once-Ler is enough to give an impression of where the band is headed and a demo-style look at what their progressive heavy rock has to offer.

Once-Ler on Thee Facebooks

Once-Ler on Bandcamp

Waingro, Waingro

waingro waingro

Pummel, pummel, pummel. Vancouver trio Waingro debut at full-sprint with their 11-track/31-minute self-titled, which wastes little time shaking hands and goes immediately for the jugular on “Firebird.” About 10 seconds in, and the ride is underway with little letup to come as Waingro shove heavy tones along at breakneck speed on cuts like “Tailwind,” “Force Fed” and “Bathed in Tongues.” A remarkable sense of control lies beneath, the trio blending hardcore punk, heavy tones and modern metal twists fluidly as interludes like “Matador,” “St. Regis” and “Arboria” add complexity of method and “Rekall,” “Ride” and most especially side B cappers “Black Dawn” and “True North” brazenly craft something of Waingro’s own from familiar components. This album is self-released, but particularly if Waingro are able to tour at any length, it’s hard to imagine some imprint wouldn’t want to stand behind their brash but engaging thrust, professional already in its assured sensibility and rhythmic impact. The real question is whether they’ll wait around for anyone to notice or push ahead with the momentum they build here.

Waingro on Thee Facebooks

Waingro on Bandcamp

Motorgoat, The Iron Hoof of Oppression

motorgoat the iron hoof of oppression

There’s little room left for frills amid the sludge-punk sneer of Motorgoat’s The Iron Hoof of Oppression, which makes no bones about its affinity for booze, metal and fuckall on songs like “Satanic Slacker,” which boasts the lines, “Trippin’ balls is total bliss/He don’t know what day it is,” and so on. Obviously there’s a humor element to “Revenge of the Towndrunk” and “No Pants – No Problems,” but the German four-piece have a sincere vibe as well as they recount loser tales in a viciously-toned punk-metal spirit, less tune-in-drop-out than tune-out-drop-tune, but it turns out heavy either way. Cohesive in spite of its stated penchant for chaos, The Iron Hoof of Oppression offers partytime disaffection that’s so prevalent it might as well be post-modern. After the world has ended, there’s nothing left to do but dance, and Motorgoat seem (mal)content to let their own hooves stomp the floor. An album that gets better when you read the lyrics. Don’t be fooled by how dumb they seem to be calling themselves.

Motor Goat on Thee Facebooks

Motor Goat on Bandcamp

The Seduction, You Catch Fire

the seduction you catch fire

The tell? The tell is the scream just before North Carolina foursome The Seduction move into the bouncing bridge on “Volga,” which launches their Mechanical Pig Records debut, You Catch Fire. From there, it’s pretty easy to hear the metallic vibe beneath their stoner-punk aesthetic. It comes up again in the breakdown for the later “Hell on Two Wheels,” but it’s there anyway, adding an aggressive edge to the record, which at 53 minutes has plenty of room for the breadth of the rocking highlight centerpiece “Flavor of the Weak” or the depth-charge of the penultimate “Starmageddon” – a few more screams there amid spit-out hardcore shouts – but it’s the meld of these with the party-pit vibe of “Daughter of a Holy Man” and “Irish Flu” that makes You Catch Fire effective in taking cues from some of the West Coast’s heavy methods – some Red Fang, some Queens of the Stone Age — and presenting them with a definitively East Coast punch.

The Seduction on Thee Facebooks

The Seduction on Bandcamp

 

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Getting to Know Small Stone’s Latest Signings: Neon Warship and La Chinga

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 22nd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Venerable Detroit-based imprint Small Stone Records — which I’d argue is probably the most prevalent American purveyor of heavy rock and roll these days, what with a roster that includes Roadsaw, Wo Fat, Dixie Witch, Sasquatch, Gozu, Lo-Pan, on and on — has announced the addition of two new power trios to its ever-growing stable: Dayton, Ohio’s Neon Warship and Vancouver’s La Chinga.

What the two bands have in common with each other they have in common with a lot of Small Stone‘s other groups, and that’s groove and a love of classic rock. La Chinga get down with no shortage of swaggering boogie, while Neon Warship hit into thicker tones and bigger crash, but both set themselves apart with quality riffing and oldschool vibes.

In case you haven’t had an encounter with one or both yet, here’s a little bit and some tunes to familiarize:

La Chinga (Vancouver, BC)

Yes, as in “The Fuck.” If you’ve got your hard-boozing and steal-your-girlfriend imagery ready to go, then you’re ready to meet Canadian trio La Chinga. Comprised of bassist/vocalist Carl Spackler, guitarist/vocalist Ben Yardley (also theremin!) and drummer/vocalist Jay Solyom, they bask in the glory days of early ’70s heavy rock, and update the form with a crisp, large production sound on their self-titled 2013 self-titled debut. Songs like “The Wheel” and “When I Get Free” offer 8-track-ready stomp and dynamic grooves, while the opening boogie of “Early Grave” and the motor-chugging “La Chinga” show off a vibrancy that puts La Chinga among Small Stone‘s most good-time swaggering acts. And you know that’s saying something when it comes to the bands on this label.

La Chinga released La Chinga in April and are set to return to the studio before 2013 is out, with their label debut release coming in 2014. Until then, dig into the self-titled and try not to think of summer:

La Chinga, La Chinga (2013)

Neon Warship (Dayton, OH)

With the lineup of Kevin Schindel, Matt Tackett and Jay Bird, Ohio’s Neon Warship crashed into our plane of existence early in 2013 with their own self-titled work, a vinyl-ready 36 minutes of alternately soulful and thundering tonal weight, barely tamed at all on tracks like the 10-minute centerpiece “Paralyzed,” which proved to be anything but with its smoking leads, crashing riffs and memorable ’90s-style vocal melodies, only to lead to more metallic gallop on the your-skatepark-isn’t-big-enough “In Waves” like nothing ever happened. Earlier cuts “Carry You Away” and “Weather Breeder” showed a penchant for hooks and grooves, but Neon Warship were just as lethal in the stretches of nine-minute closer “Burn the Breeze.”

They’ll support Orange Goblin on Oct. 25 at the Rockstar Pro Arena and are reportedly working on writing songs for their first Small Stone outing to be recorded next year. Shuffle on this in the meantime:

Neon Warship, Neon Warship (2013)

Kudos and good luck to both bands on making their Small Stone debuts. More on all parties at the links below.

La Chinga on Thee Facebooks

Neon Warship on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records

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Jeff Martin’s Lo-Pan Tour Diary — July 4 & 5

Posted in Features on July 6th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Ohio fuzz foursome Lo-Pan are currently on the road alongside Devil to Pay supporting the vinyl release of their 2009 album, Sasquanaut. Frontman Jeff Martin has agreed to give us the inside track with a tour diary as the shows play out, and in this first installment, the band is starting out in Dayton, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois.

Lo-Pan is Martin on vocals, guitarist Brian Fristoe, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz. Enjoy:

July 4th &5th – “Doing Crunches”

I am back on the road yet again with Lo-Pan. We started off in Dayton, Ohio, at Blind Bob’s with our old friends Devil to Pay (minus guitar man number two, Rob Hough). For some strange reason, Rob decided not to join the band for this show. We have toured many times with DTP and Rob’s absence is noticeable and strange. He will pick back up with us tomorrow in Chicago but it was Indy’s finest as a three-piece, with Dayton bands Close the Hatch and the always-entertaining Neon Warship set to play.

This show fell on Independence Day. The 4th has to be the A#1 holiday for Lo-Pan. We celebrate and revere our freedom every day and this is the culmination of that mindset. All of our ‘Merica, flag-waving bravado is sure to be on full display. Marvel at and fear us! We weren’t sure what to expect on July 4 in Dayton. Would it be a barren wasteland or would Dayton show up and represent for rock music? Well I am proud to announce that Dayton – and more importantly, Ohio – showed up in full force.

This is not to suggest that we didn’t encounter our fair share of oddballs in Dayton. We always seem to attract the strangest and most out-there people in any town. I am trying to determine which weirdo takes the cake on this particular occasion; perhaps the drunken co-ed who bought a Lo-Pan t-shirt and then appointed herself merch girl extraordinaire and proceeded to bully passers-by into purchasing copious amounts of merchandise? Maybe it was the equally drunk townie and his French companion who decided to share with me his outlandish and less than racially conscious opinions on the President of the United States? Certainly one of the most bizarre unsolicited encounters in recent memory. I think drunken townie takes the taco in this contest for the sheer fact that I can’t stop thinking about the incident.

All in all the show went very well. It feels good to be back on the road and it feels even better to be playing some songs we haven’t played in a very long time. Small Stone Records has rereleased our album Sasquanaut on vinyl and to celebrate that, we are playing the whole album start to finish each night. Some of these songs we haven’t played in more than three years. So it’s nice to revisit some old material and to feel the differences between older songs and new. All the bands in Dayton were great. Devil to Pay sounded great, even as a three-piece. Neon Warship is a powerhouse and Close the Hatch was heavy and deft. I really couldn’t ask for a better way to start off the tour.

At the end of the night we were offered a place to crash by one of the guys in Close the Hatch. We stayed in a recording studio around the corner from the venue. We slept amongst drums and guitars and for some reason there were also many bikes all over the place. I slept on a couch in the control room of the studio and the other guys were scattered around different corners of the recording space. I put my little fan up on a practice amp and passed the hell out. It was surprisingly comfortable. Anytime I am blessed with a couch to sleep on, I consider myself lucky. Many people think that tour is replete with hotels and luxury. I am here to tell you that this is NOT the case. I have laid my head in some of the foulest locales out of sheer necessity. It’s a small price to pay for the ability to do what you love on your own terms.

We woke up around nine the next morning and set off for Chicago. The drive to Chicago featured an unusual event for us. We actually listened to music during the trip. Normally we do not listen to music in the van because we all have such varied tastes, we can never agree on anything to listen to. For some that have joined us on the road, this silence has been jarring. For us it seems to work, though. Today we listened to Bob Seger followed by Clutch. I think tomorrow we are likely to return to silence, however. In addition on the drive we ate snacks… or as we call it, “doing crunches.”

Chicago has always been one of our favorite cities to play. We have met a boatload of great people that are either from there or who currently reside there. We had quite a few people in attendance this evening from other bands we know and even some people from home (Columbus) that happened to be visiting. That sort of dynamic always makes the shows very fun.

This show featured Marmora, a young band with some very talented dudes. We met them a couple of years ago and it’s always enjoyable to see how they become seasoned professionals – a little more each time. Tonight Rob from Devil to Pay was back with the guys and DTP sounded phenomenal. Steve Janiak is a great singer and the house sound guy had him dialed in.

We played third and our set felt ok. Personally, I messed up some of the lyrics to “Wade Garrett.” It’s just been so long since I have had that song committed to memory. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to knock the dust off of these older tunes. Other than that we played pretty well to my way of thinking. After us a last-minute addition to the show, All Hail The Yeti from Los Angeles, played. They were a little out of line stylistically for the rest of the bill, but they were good at what they do. They had some animal skulls on stage with them. That was pretty odd. Outside of Norwegian black metal, you don’t really see that too much.

The Cobra Lounge, the venue for the Chicago show, has an apartment upstairs for performers to sleep in, as well as a locked parking area for our van – “Van Halen.” This is really a welcome situation. It’s a little worse for the wear for the sheer number of acts that roll through each month, but when all is said and done, a free place to stay is a free place to stay.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print for the first couple of days of tour. Stay tuned…

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

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Mouth of the Architect to Release Dawning on June 25; Tour with Scale the Summit and Intronaut

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 11th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

It’s been three years since Ohio post-metallers Mouth of the Architect issued their The Violence Beneath EP, a release that was preceded by a near-complete reshuffling of the band’s lineup. Looks like there have been some more changes, but whoever’s on board with founders Dave Mann and vocalist Jason Watkins, there’s a new album coming in the form of Dawning, which is due out June 25 on Translation Loss.

The label will put out a Lesbian record on the same day (more info on the forum). Here’s the announcement for Dawning off the PR wire:

MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT to Release Dawning June 25th on Translation Loss Records

Artwork and Tracklisting Revealed

This year marks the ten year anniversary of the undeniably spine-crushing band MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT. While many anticipated the apocalypse in 2012, MOTA has been accurately predicting and creating the soundtrack for such a disaster since 2003. There is perhaps no better way to celebrate such a milestone than by releasing a new face melting full-length record, and MOTA has never failed in that regard.

Today MOTA has unveiled the album artwork and tracklisting for Dawning.

In 2004 they released “Time and Withering” with great success and followed up with a split CD alongside another Dayton, OH based band, KENOMA. After releasing the critically acclaimed “The Ties That Blind” in 2006 and the beautifully devastating “Quietly” in 2008, the band underwent about a million member changes before releasing “The Violence Beneath” EP in 2010.

The current lineup consists of drummer Dave Mann, guitarists and vocalists Steve Brooks and Kevin Schindel, keyboardist and vocalist Jason Watkins, and bassist Evan Danielson. The band plans to celebrate its ‘most glorious birthday’ by releasing a psychedelic-tinged sludge-rock masterpiece. Remaining under the long time label support of Translation Loss Records, their new album Dawning bludgeons its way to the top of their long catalog of doom rock greatness. These dudes last proved their heavy-metallic weight in gold when they made it through a volcanic eruption to play the Roadburn Festival on their 2010 European tour in support of “The Violence Beneath.” This year these well-worn road veterans plan on bringing their incredibly loud and extremely hairy brand of post-metal to a venue near you in support of Dawning. Of course, you have to live in the northern hemisphere to get your chance to witness this rock ‘n roll spectacle.

In support of Dawning MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT will be touring this summer with Intronaut and Scale the Summit. The Tour stars June 5th in Seattle, WA and runs through July 6th in Hollywood, CA. A complete list of dates can be found below.

Please check out www.mouthofthearchitect.com and www.translationloss.com for more information.

Dawning Tracklisiting:
1. Lullabye
2. It Swarms
3. Sharpen Your Eyes
4. How Will This End
5. Patterns
6. The Other Son

MOTA Lineup:
Dave Mann – Drums
Evan Danielson – Bass
Steve Brooks – Guitar & Vocals
Kevin Schindel – Guitar & Vocals
Jason Watkins – Keyboards &Vocals

MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT on Tour with Intronaut and Scale the Summit:
6/5: Seattle, WA Highline
6/6: Vancouver, BC Rickshaw Theater
6/7: Calgary, AB Broken City
6/8: Edmonton, AB Pawn Shop
6/10: Winnipeg, MB Osborne Villae Inn
6/11: St. Paul, MN Station 4
6/12: Chicago, IL Double Door
6/13: Cleveland, OH Now That’s Class
6/14: Rochester, NY The Bug Jar
6/15: Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus
6/17: Montreal, QC II Motore
6/18: Toronto, ON Wreck Room
6/19: West Chester, PA The Note
6/20: Allston, MA Great Scott
6/21: Baltimore, MD Metro Gallery
6/22: Charlotte, NC The Casbah Tremont Music Hall
6/23: Nashville, TN Exit / In
6/24: Atlanta, GA The Drunken Unicorn
6/25: Orlando, FL The Social
6/26: Tampa, FL Orpheum Theater
6/28: Houston, TX Fitzgerald’s-Downstairs
6/29: Austin, TX Red 7
6/30: Dallas, TX Club Dada
7/2: Santa Fe, NM Warehouse 21
7/6: Hollywood, CA Roxy Theater

Mouth of the Architect, “How this Will End”

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