Heavy Temple Announce Coast-to-Coast ‘Nation of Heathens’ US Tour w/ Valley of the Sun Supporting

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 6th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Heavy Temple

You can’t look at the extensive list of dates below and not accuse Heavy Temple of slacking, to say the least of it. The Philadelphia trio will be out for six-plus weeks on this coast-to-coast US headlining tour, which I think is the longest single stretch they’ve yet undertaken, though I wouldn’t swear to it. In any case, it is a striking amount of shows, and in a time where a lot of bands break up the States into East or West Coast runs and cover the spaces between, Heavy Temple signal a righteous diving-in here.

They go in support of one of 2024’s best LPs, Garden of Heathens (review here), their second record through Magnetic Eye and built on a similarly all-in ethic as regards both craft and bombast. Note as well that support will come from also-no-strangers-to-the-road Valley of the Sun from Ohio, who are currently streaming the first half of and taking preorders for their forthcoming Quintessence LP (info here) ahead of releasing the second part and physical versions in the coming months. I hope they have ’em to bring on the tour.

And by “the tour” I mean this one. Behold:

Heavy Temple tour

The Nation of Heathens tour kicks off July 18th! We’re super stoked to have @valleyofthesunband with us on all these dates, and we’ll be joined by some other friends along the way. See dates below! 👇👇👇

7/17 – Boston, MA @ Mideast Upstairs
7/18 – New York, NY @ Kingsland
7/19 – Clifton, NJ @ Dingbats
7/20 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
7/21 – Youngstown, OH @ Westside Bowl
7/24 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
7/25 – Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary
7/26 – Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle
7/27 – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s Music Joint
7/28 – Milwaukee, WI @ Club Garibaldi
7/30 – Minneapolis, MN @ Turf Club
7/31 – Iowa City, IA @ Wildwood
8/1 – Lincoln, NE @ 1867 Bar
8/2 – Denver, CO @ HQ Denver
8/3 – Salt Lake, UT @ Ace High Saloon
8/4 – Boise, ID @ Shredder
8/7 – Seattle, WA @ Sub Station
8/8 – Portland, OR @ Dantes
8/9 – San Fran, CA @ DNA Lounge
8/10 – Anaheim, CA @ The Parish (HOB)
8/11 – San Diego, CA @ Brick by Brick
8/13 – Las Vegas, NV @ Usual Place
8/14 – Phoenix, AZ @ Underground
8/15 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sister Bar
8/16 – El Paso, TX @ Rock House
8/17 – Dallas, TX @ Three Links
8/18 – Austin, TX @ The Lost Well
8/21 – San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger
8/22 – Houston, TX @ Secret Group
8/23 – Lafayette, LA @ Freetown Boom Boom
8/24 – New Orleans, LA @ Santos Bar
8/25 – Pensacola, FL @ The Handlebar
8/27 – Jacksonville, FL @ Underbelly
8/28 – Orlando, Fl @ Wills Pub
8/29 – Tampa, FL @ Orpheum
8/30 – Atlanta, GA @ Boggs Social & Supply
8/31 – Richmond, VA @ The Camel



Heavy Temple, Garden of Heathens (2024)

Valley of the Sun, Quintessence (2024)

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Album Review: Heavy Temple, Garden of Heathens

Posted in Reviews on April 11th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Heavy Temple Garden of Heathens

Absolute ripper. You wouldn’t have called Heavy Temple timid as a band on their 2021 debut, Lupi Amoris (review here), but Garden of Heathens is confident in its stride from the first clarion riff in leadoff “Extreme Indifference to Life” and throw-elbows brash through the head-spinning, double-kick-propelled instrumental thrash finish in “Psychomanteum”; less about playing to style than doing what feels right in the songs, dynamic, heavy, and charged. Now more than a decade on from their start, the Philadelphia trio led by bassist/vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk with Baron Lycan on drums and, here, Lord Paisley making his final appearance on guitar — Christian Lopez (also Sun Voyager) has stepped into the role — present a clear vision of who they are across eight songs and 45 minutes brimming with attitude, righteous intent, groove and swagger as they bounce back and forth between longer and shorter cuts, building momentum fast and never quite letting it go even in the later reaches of the near-nine-minute “Snake Oil (And Other Remedies)” with its abundant layers of shred, emphatic physical push and willfully noisy apex.

Maybe you’ve seen them on stage in the last couple years. Maybe you haven’t. Either way, that’s the likely origin point of the urgency they offer to underpin whatever a given piece might be doing, as with “Hiraeth” following the declarative hook and roll (actually there’s some double-kick there too, and elsewhere; don’t be scared) of the opener with an internalized worship that brings together Queens of the Stone Age and Slayer, or the tension wrought in the three minutes comprising the ambient, hypnotic “In the Garden of Heathens,” marked by cymbal wash and guest cello from John Forrestal, who also produced at The Animal Farm in the idyllic countryside of Flemington, New Jersey. That semi-title-track is the only real comedown provided, and the breather is all the more appreciated in complementing “Snake Oil (And Other Remedies)” as the band make ready to topple the gatekept walls of metal in the penultimate “Jesus Wept,” hitting hard with a heroic dose of lead guitar and a scorch that by that point in Garden of Heathens has already left no shortage of blisters.

But if ‘over the top’ is where it’s at — and no, you’re not wrong if you’re picturing Sylvester Stallone arm wrestling in the 1987 movie of the same name — then Heavy Temple are at home in the excess, and what most brings the material on Garden of Heathens together is the fuckall fury and tightness of their execution. The proverbial band on fire, as demonstrated through the seven minutes of “Divine Indiscretion” as it courses fluidly through a twisting verse and a chorus that only grows more melodic with the additional vocal layer the second time through. Nighthawk‘s increased command-of-instrument as a singer is given due punctuation by the stomping, headbang-worthy riff and solo from Paisley that follow said verse/chorus as they gallop into the song’s midsection, toy with a flash of ’70s Motörheadular shuffle and stop to give the crowd — whatever, wherever, whoever — a chance to shout back in response before the noise wash circa 4:30 brings it to a standalone, maybe-part-improv Hendrix meander backed by a layer of effects that soon enough rises to earth-consuming proportion before the shred goes full-Iommi and they turn back to the central riff for a fast, loud, big, big, big crash to end.

Heavy Temple photo by Crystal Engel Mama Moon

Movement, a heavy immediacy in the songwriting, has been wheelhouse for Heavy Temple since their 2014 self-titled EP (review here) and has carried them through multiple lineup changes, but with Garden of Heathens, they are sharper and more focused than they’ve yet been on record. While the strut is still there in “Hiraeth” and the not-actually-slow-but-still-a-nod “House of Warship,” some of the funk that rested beneath the fuzzy surface of their earlier work has been traded out in favor of more direct intensity. Given the unenviable positioning between “Divine Indiscretion” and “Snake Oil (And Other Remedies),” “House of Warship” announces itself with a standalone harmonized vocal sweep joined shortly by creeper guitar, and gets bombastic as Lycan‘s drums give pulse to the dug-in riff, while Nighthawk gets theatrical in the multi-layered hook and pushes to higher notes in the song’s consuming midsection. Ready to noiseblast at a moment’s notice, they make “House of Warship” a highlight, touching on doom and toying with goth and metal in ways that make the careful balances in their approach sound as organic as they likely are. To me, it most sounds like Heavy Temple stepping forward creatively and bending genre to their increasingly individualized purposes.

Because it’s loud regardless of actual volume, because it varies tempos, departs and returns, shoves, swings, bobs and weaves, and ultimately because it has so much energy behind its delivery, Garden of Heathens reveals more of its complexities on repeat listens, whether that’s the okay-here-we-go transition into the shredding finish of “Extreme Indifference to Life” or the High on Fire-informed push in “Jesus Wept.” The finer details are worth it, to put it mildly, as is the raw force with which the tracks land, each contributing something of its own to the broadened scope of the entirety. That they choose to end with “Psychomanteum,” the fastest and most brazen attack, teasing a slowdown but finishing with a suitable defiance of expectation both in style and lack of vocals, sends the message (expedited) that Heavy Temple aren’t done. It may or may not hint at future dives into thrash and other more aggressive styles to be melded with their weighted tones, but at a certain point it’s moot to speculate since, aside from whatever progression or whims may manifest, their next release will invariably present some shift in dynamic as a result of the personnel change.

That too is part of the story of Heavy Temple and Garden of Heathens, but the bloodlust in these songs isn’t out of the blue, and one can only hope remains as much a piece of who they will become as it is of who they are today. Few and far between on this wretched earth are bands who can inhabit both the wrecking ball and the afterparty dancing atop the rubble. Now mosh, ye pagans.

Heavy Temple, Garden of Heathens (2024)

Heavy Temple on Facebook

Heavy Temple on Instagram

Heavy Temple on Bandcamp

Magnetic Eye Records store

Magnetic Eye Records website

Magnetic Eye Records on Facebook

Magnetic Eye Records on Instagram

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Heavy Temple to Release Garden of Heathens April 12; “Extreme Indifference to Life” Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 18th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Heavy Temple photo by Crystal Engel Mama Moon

Greeting listeners with its opening track positioned as the first single, Heavy Temple‘s second long-player, Garden of Heathens, is set to arrive on April 22 through Magnetic Eye. One will find the self-recording Philly hard fuzzers’ twisting grooves intact from where they left off on 2021’s Lupi Amoris (review here), with High Priestess Nighthawk bringing a refined post-Homme croon to the verses before shifting soulfully into the second chorus. What was true then would seem to remain true now. If you’ve got the itch, Heavy Temple are the scratch.

So be it. “Extreme Indifference to Life” streams below and I count this near if not at the top of my most anticipated records of 2024 list. Note the band toured with Howling Giant for a first European run last Fall, and that I’m pretty sure Garden of Heathens was already recorded before that; guitarist Lord Paisley has been replaced by Christian Lopez, whose nom de plume I’d imagine is pending.

From the PR wire:

Heavy Temple Garden of Heathens

HEAVY TEMPLE unleash first single ‘Extreme Indifference to Life’ and details of new album “Garden of Heathens”!

Psychedelic doom fast-risers HEAVY TEMPLE have released the booming opening track ‘Extreme Indifference to Life’ as the first single taken from their forthcoming sophomore full-length “Garden of Heathens”, which has been slated for release on April 12, 2024 via Magnetic Eye Records. The pre-sale is now available at http://lnk.spkr.media/heavy-temple-garden

HEAVY TEMPLE comment: “The lyrics of our new record ‘Garden of Heathens’ are rather personal”, singer and bass player High Priestess Nighthawk reveals. “They are always the last thing to get done, but these nearly wrote themselves. The words came from the darkest parts of my mind that I usually don’t want to confront. Coincidentally, ‘Extreme Indifference to Life’ deals with the imposter syndrome to the extreme: the anxiety of overthinking everything, always wondering if you’re good enough, or even if you were ever any good to begin with.”

1. Extreme Indifference to Life
2. Hiraeth
3. Divine Indiscretion
4. House of Warship
5. Snake Oil (and Other Remedies)
6. In the Garden of Heathens
7. Jesus Wept
8. Psychomanteum

Wherever HEAVY TEMPLE are heading on this diverse and dynamic record, they always stay real with both feet on the ground. Except, that is, when it comes to the lyrics. With her words, the High Priestess admits to peddling a version of things that isn’t real – with a grim smile and quite deliberately so. In fact, that’s the theme running through “Garden of Heathens” as a red thread. From the American Dream to relationships, below the surface there is anxiety, betrayal, and doubt. And while some of the lyrical metaphors might at first glance seem to focus on religion, they are definitely not that literal. Rather, these are Nighthawk’s most personal lyrics ever.

Recording line-up
High Priestess Nighthawk – vocals, bass
Lord Paisley – guitar
Baron Lycan – drums

Guest musician
John Forrestal – cello



Heavy Temple, “Extreme Indifference to Life”

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Heavy Temple Announce New Guitarist Christian Lopez

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 8th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

This is a ‘make it official’ kind of announcement from Philadelphia’s Heavy Temple, who’ve already appeared at Desertfest New York 2023 (review here) and subsequently banged out a European tour with Christian Lopez on guitar, as well as, you know, probably hung out a whole bunch at rehearsal and stuff. Lopez takes the place of Lord Paisley, who joined Heavy Temple in time to play on 2021’s debut full-length, Lupi Amoris (review here), be a part of their continuing emergence as a touring act, and take part in tributes, splits, the whole thing.

It’s only been a few years, but Heavy Temple have been through a couple of guitarists and drummers around founding bassist/vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk, so it’s not the craziest thing in the world to think they’d be trading out personnel again. Lopez, meanwhile, had been playing with Sun Voyager — I got to see him with them this Spring (review here) and they were awesome — and they’re in NY and Heavy Temple are in Philly and that seems like a heck of a commute, so I’m not sure what the status with Sun Voyager is, but I’ll tell you from personal experience that Lopez tore it up as the new guy in both bands, has shred and apparently will travel.

And while I’m a little sad to know there’s new Heavy Temple somewhere on the planet and I haven’t heard it — at least I think so if I read the implication below correctly — I’m glad to learn the three-piece’s second album will be out in 2024. I have no doubt it will be a highlight.

From socials:

Heavy Temple Christian Lopez (Photo by JJ Koczan)

You may have noticed some changes in the HT camp. @calivibescustom started as a fill in for Lord Paisley on our Euro tour but has quickly cemented himself as in invaluable member of the Temple consort. While we are sad that our paisley prince will no longer be shredding with us, he leaves behind his contributions to arguably the best record we’ve ever made, due in no small part to his talent and ability. We wish him all the best in his new endeavors and look forward to whatever this new iteration may be.

This is the tl;dr part. When I started the band 11 years ago, I always wanted a permanent line up, but wanted to be realistic when it came to commitments and time. So I modeled the band after Queens of the Stone Age, meaning I viewed it as sort of an open collective. Having now had more than a handful of line up changes, it truly shows me what I’ve always known, which is that there is no growth without change.

I’m once again eternally grateful for all the creativity and inspiration I’ve found with everyone I’ve been fortunate enough to call a bandmate. Never stop not stopping.



Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris (2021)

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Notes From Desertfest New York Night One, 09.15.23

Posted in Features, Reviews on September 16th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

R.I.P. 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

09.15.23 – Friday – Knockdown Center – Before show

Okay, I can admit it’s weird. Not through anything the festival has done, beyond perhaps existing, which I firmly believe is a positive thing, but for me personally, it’s a weird process. The last couple years, I’ve had a much easier time making it to festivals than club shows, and it’s been easier to travel than see something local. The way my schedule and life are arranged right now — bed early, up early to write and begin the day’s domestic whathaveyou — it’s nearly impossible for me to ‘get out to a show.’ It’s a significant rearrangement of multiple lives to make it happen.

My solution has been, every so often, to go to a festival, and I’ve been lucky to travel these last couple years, whether it’s to Germany, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, even Las Vegas. That pulls me out of the norm. I’m on my own. I don’t have to worry about the house, or anyone else’s schedule other than the bands. I’m removed from ‘real life.’ Not so with Desertfest New York.

This is the only festival I’ve been to in the last 15 years-plus where the travel involved is a commute. I spent two hours in traffic last night to get to Vitus. And more than an hour home because why wouldn’t there be dead-stop gridlock at midnight on a Thursday? It’s another layer — something else to worry about — that I feel when I’m here. It was true last year to some extent, but the sheer novelty of being out of the house in May 2022 made up some ground in terms of the overall experience. A big emotional high.

And again, it’s not about the fest. It’s about where I live. Just far enough out to be a pain in the ass. And if you’ve ever been to New York, especially driving, you know the city doesn’t exactly work to make it easy, or remotely pleasant. I’m not trying to complain about some shit — Desertfest has taken great care of me once again and The Patient Mrs. has uprooted herself and our kid on my behalf for the weekend; she even drove to and from the pre-show — it’s just a part of the experience I’m not used to. It’s weird to think about running the dishwasher after you get home from Colour Haze playing one of the best shows you’ve ever seen at the Saint Vitus Bar. It’s weird that the last thing I did before I left the house to come here was change over the laundry.

It’s weird. I’m weird too.

Two-dayer fests rule and here’s how night one of two went down:


SpellBook 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Pennsylvania cultists, doomers, a little bit glammers SpellBook had the bonus factor of having added Greg Diener of Pale Divine on guitar, which is never going to hurt you when it comes to doom riffs. It’s only been a couple months since he started with the five-piece, whose second album under the name — they used to be called Witch Hazel — Deadly Charms, came out last year. They played the title-track from it after “The Witch of Ridley Creek,” the joke there being that initially-cape-clad frontman introduced the first by saying “This next song is about a witch,” then saying the same thing before they played “Deadly Charms.” I missed that record but might pick up a CD if those exist as the swing of that hook sat right, and in the name of good times generally. Funny, before they went on, bassist Seibert Lowe came up and said hi, it’s been a while, etc. Curious, I looked it up. Saw Witch Hazel in 2015 at a fest in Maryland. Yeah, it’s probably been long enough.

Valley of the Sun

Reliability be thy name. Ohio’s Valley of the Sun were in Europe this Spring to do Desertfest Berlin and London, Esbjerg Fuzztival, etc., and a tour around that. Last year, they played the pre-show at Vitus (review here), wrecked it gloriously, and I’m not trying to toot my own horn when I say I knew they’d do the same on the main stage here at the Knockdown Center, but yeah, I had a pretty good idea of what was coming. They’ve been touring basically since before they put out The Chariot (review here) last year, and they absolutely sounded like it. Set was tight, pro, fun, and could’ve been delivered to 15 people at 1PM (there were many more there, and it was later, I’m just making a point) or 10,000 at midnight, I honestly don’t think it would matter. They did their set, their way, their presence bolstered by the unshakeable quality of their craft and the fact that even as veterans however many years later — 12 since the EP, I think? — they continue to look like they’re having fun. And goodness gracious, maybe they are.

Grave Bathers

Dark, moody, urbane heavy rock, with members of Yatra — who played last year — and Heavy Temple, who play tonight. Don’t doubt Philly is where it’s at. They’ve got a whole generation of up and coming bands and I’ll add Grave Bathers to the list. I didn’t hear last year’s debut, Rock ‘n Roll Fetish, so didn’t know the songs, but their delivery was right on as they put that fetish to good use. They were brash, maybe a little druggy — more pills/coke than weed — and seemed in the process of solidifying their approach, which, yes, means it was exciting set to watch.


Long drone before they went on. Like 10 minutes. Fair enough, I guess. But it was riffs freshly rolled once they got going, their traditionalism for desert rock very clearly familiar to the crowd on hand, and they were pretty fresh in my mind as well since they reissued their full-length discography ahead of coming to the US to play. They’ve also got socks at the merch table, which is knowing your market, I suppose. They’re probably the most successful heavy rock export from Greece to-date, and their groove answers any and all questions why. Newer material or old, they’ve always managed to find the tempo just right for their riffs. Last time I saw them was a decade ago at The Black Heart in London (review here) and they were killer then, so I knew a bit of what was in store, but the long drone became transitional ambience, and it was interesting to hear the maturity of 2020’s Youth of Dissent (review here) come through in their approach there, but you can’t beat the raw mellow nod of “Vidage.” The very sound of everything cool about this music and probably some stuff that’s only cool because 1000mods made it that way. Definitely need to buy some socks before the night is done.

Castle Rat

I had not yet seen Brooklyn trad metal/doom-adjacent troupe Castle Rat. It’s a particular aspect of New York that might make one feel late to the party before a band has a record out, but the room knew what was up, and the band put on a theatrical display of intermittently sexualized horror that included a bassist in a plague mask, a vampire guitarist, some kind of forest spirit on drums, the storyteller herself up front, a couple druids parked outside the room as greeters. Cool vibe, though I wonder about how it would/will work on an album, but maybe they don’t need to put out an album, though when they signed to King Volume Records in July, word was an LP in 2024. Either way, they’re young and in shape, and thus marketable, in addition to all that rocking and metal-of-eld. They had the room wrapt, and yeah, the evening is getting on and progressively less lucid, so maybe some staring anyway from the crowd, but they put on a show, rather than playing a set, and today or tomorrow there’s not another band playing this weekend doing the same kind of thing, let alone doing it so well, so I’ll take the win. I may never feel like Johnny Groundfloor on Castle Rat, but at least I can say I’ve seen them now. Which I suppose makes the fact that they killed a bonus.


I didn’t know this prior to looking it up — yes, sometimes it is handy to have an archive of nearly every show you’ve seen for the last however many years — but the last time I saw Windhand was at The Well for Desertfest NYC 2019 (review here). That place was cool, wouldn’t say a word against it, but DFNY works well at Knockdown Center and being inside for the most part — an outdoor third stage opens tomorrow — allows some seasonal/weather flexibility. As for Windhand, well, their most recent LP, Eternal Return (review here), turns five this year and vocalist Dorthia Cottrell — who’s doing a solo show tomorrow on the aforementioned third stage — put her new solo album, Death Folk Country (review here), on Relapse, to which Windhand are also signed for over a decade, and earlier this year they reissued their 2012 self-titled debut (review herediscussed here), did the Heavy Psych Sounds Fests in California, and it’s kind of the personality of the band that they’re there when called upon. In this case, it was Truckfighters canceling that brought them here, and they did the job they were brought in to do. Slowest band of the day, easily, and the most miserable of the weekend this far. Murkiest sound anywhere. Like an out of focus photograph from the 19th century.

Heavy Temple

Oooh, Heavy Temple’s got new songs. And a new guitarist, who just happens to be Christian Lopez, also of Sun Voyager. High Priestess Nighthawk, Lopez and drummer Will “Baron Lycan” Mellor took to the stage with the door closed into the second room and then about a minute before they went on, the door opened and everyone came in at once and then they started and that was that. But jeez, put out a record. What’s the holdup? Your drummer is an engineer! Granted, it’s only been two years since Lupi Amoris (review here), but they’re about to go tour Europe for the first time with Howling Giant — whose new album is stellar, I had it on in the car on the way here — and taking a new release along doesn’t seem like the worst idea. Hell do I know. Once the door was open, the room packed out immediately, and not even a Colour Haze line check could bring the crowd out from the Texas stage. I don’t know when I last saw Heavy Temple, and at this point in the day I’m too tired to look, but they delivered like a band who has way more to their credit than two EPs, an LP and some other odds and ends — a notably righteous Type O Negative cover among them — and I was only happy to see them again and to hear some new material. The sooner the better on Heavy Temple’s sophomore LP.

Colour Haze

Loud whispers of “shh!” to people talking during the quiet parts. The keys seemed more prominent in the mix, but I stood right in front of the stage last night for the whole set, so who the hell knows what I was hearing or not. The flexibility of a photo pit means I can move around a bit and, say, go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. Crazy shit like that. Most of Colour Haze Night Two — it really is a shame they’re not doing a third set tomorrow — artists-in-residence! pick any album you want out of the catalog and I’ll be more than happy to watch them play it in full — was instrumental, and I had been planning to go see R.I.P., from Portland, also quite far, but life doesn’t always afford you opportunities to see your favorite bands, and life is short and most of it is very, very difficult, so yeah, I stayed put. It was really difficult to think that Colour Haze might be playing in the building somewhere and I wouldn’t be there. So I put myself there and, as I occasionally remember to do, just enjoyed a thing for a couple minutes. On the whole, it was a more laid back set than last night’s at Vitus. They played “Transformation.” It was beautiful. I love the way it skips before it runs straight out and gets fast at the end. I hadn’t eaten since the morning and it was nearly 10PM. The Patient Mrs. texting to tell me to be careful on the way home. An infinity of distractions. But nah, just let me have this one for a minute. They closed with “Tempel” as someone yelled out “what a time to be alive!” No argument.

Quick note: I did go check out R.I.P. after Colour Haze finished. The second stage was packed, they were shredding oldschool-style dirt metal to the delight of all present. The pic at the top of this post is the room when they played.

Monster Magnet

Time marches forward and Monster Magnet remain a salve against bullshit in rock and roll. Of all the bands to close out the night, the stalwart outfit from my beloved Garden State are legends in the field, and founding frontman Dave Wyndorf was simultaneously out of his mind and in command of the show, which I think is how you get to be that dude. I had thought guitarist Garrett Sweeny (also The Atomic Bitchwax) was out of the band, but no. He had stage right while longtime collaborator Phil Caivano — who just put out a solo record; the band is called Caivano — had the other side, drummer Bob Pantella (also also The Atomic Bitchwax, ex-Raging Slab, RiotGod, and so on) was up on a riser in back and the bassist Alec Morton, also ex-Raging Slab [thank you Amanda Vogel for that], hung back with a Rickenbacker that both looked and sounded awfully nice. Original band member Tim Cronin was doing lights, as he reportedly will according to a seven-year planetary cycle. We’ve been back and forth online and I’ve covered his band The Ribeye Brothers a bunch because they’re cool, but we never met in person, so that was awesome earlier in the day. Monster Magnet opening with the Hawkwind cover “Born to Go” was also rather sweet. “Superjudge,” “Powertrip,” “Dopes to Infinity,” “Tractor,” “Mastermind” tucked away in the encore. Even as a headliner, Monster Magnet would have a hard time putting together a full career-retrospective set. I got to see then play “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” tonight, though, and that’s plenty. Pro-shop rock band, one of heavy rock’s all-time great frontmen tossing out middle fingers like they’re free samples at Costco, and all was well and the strobe flashed and the fan blew and the band tore Knockdown Center a new ass — but they did it in space, so it’s even cooler — and reminded everybody there which coast really invented stoner rock.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Keep it Low 2023: Zeal & Ardor, Howling Giant, Heavy Temple and More Added; Lineup Complete

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 25th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

The lineup for Keep it Low 2023 is finished with the last additions of Zeal and Ardor, a stopthrough from the Howling Giant and Heavy Temple tour, as well as a trio of bands from Germany in Morast, Instrument and Einseinseins. The former rest atop a wild bill, and anyone who would accuse heavy underground music of all sounding the same should go ahead and listen to the first five bands listed here in succession. Zeal and Ardor, Colour HazeMantarThe Obsessed and King Buffalo — it wouldn’t work as a Spotify playlist, or maybe it would, but it will make for a killer festival.

This is the ninth Keep it Low Festival, the vibe of which I’ve always found particularly alluring from a distance, and for what started as a kind of humble event, this looks pretty huge. It’s still at Backstage in Munich, so the amount of tickets available will be the same as ever, but even as the names get harder to read on the poster below, there’s good stuff to be had. I see The Moth and Lucid Void and Swan Valley Heights down there. It would be far too easy to do worse.

Sound of Liberation sent the following down the PR wire:

keep it low 2023 sq

Hey friends,

We’re super stoked to present you the last bands for our beloved Keep It Low festival in Munich 2023, including the last headliner! (#128121#)

And alongside we must warn you: our 2-day-passes are almost sold out and you need to be fast if you want to enjoy the full weekend experience!

Please welcome:

We can’t wait for October to come!

Two days of heavy rock music, aftershow DJs, outdoor beergarden, “Doom Frühschoppen” & more!(#128640#)

06. – 07. Oct 2023
Munich (DE)

Grab your tickets at:

This is our last call for weekend tickets!


Howling Giant, Glass Future (2023)

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Heavy Temple and Howling Giant Announce Co-Headlining European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

When Heavy Temple and Howling Giant were announced in April for Into the Void in Leeuwarden, I noted that I hoped the two bands would tour together. What they most have in common between Heavy Temple‘s hard-fuzz dark boogie and Howling Giant‘s sprawling heavy prog — aside from being labelmates under the banner of Magnetic Eye Records — is that both have only just begun to realize their potential. Doing this tour will help push both acts forward, and more over, doing this tour together is important.

Yeah, they’re playing Up in Smoke, Into the VoidKeep it Low and Desertfest Belgium, but the truth is these two — both with multiple tours under their respective belts — are the kinds of acts who in another decade or decade-plus could very well headline these kinds of events, so their pairing for a run now is an investment in further comity over the longer term of their careers. I hereby — and you know I mean business when I break out “hereby” — formally request on-stage collaboration, abundant guest spots if not the formation of a Heavy Giant Howling Temple family big band. Also video of that. Like, decent video.

And a note to Europe specifically: These bands are two of America’s brightest hopes for next-gen heavy. Skip seeing them now and you may live to regret it later.

Dates came down the PR wire with comment from the bands:

Heavy Temple Howling Giant tour sq

HEAVY TEMPLE & HOWLING GIANT announce co-headlining EUROPEAN tour!

HEAVY TEMPLE from Philadelphia, PA and Nashville, Tennessee’s HOWLING GIANT will both make their first journey overseas for a co-headlining European tour in advance of their upcoming new albums. The tour will include appearances at several key festivals. It kicks off in Switzerland at the Up in Smoke Festival in Pratteln and runs through until October 22 in the city of Antwerp at Desertfest Belgium.

Please see below for all confirmed HEAVY TEMPLE and HOWLING GIANT tour dates.

HOWLING GIANT comment: “We are fired up about this European quest with our shield companions in Heavy Temple,” drummer Zach Wheeler writes. “We’re ready to sling riffs and cross swords with the best of the best beyond the great pond.”

HEAVY TEMPLE add: “We hope that Europe is as ready for us as we are for them!”, bassist and vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk declares. “Can’t think of another heavy-hitting power trio that we’d like to shred across the pond with than Howling Giant.”

29 SEP 2023 Pratteln (CH) Z7, Up in Smoke Festival
30 SEP 2023 Leeuwarden (NL) Neushoorn, Into the Void Festival
02 OCT 2023 Siegen (DE) Vortex
03 OCT 2023 Hamburg (DE) Hafenklang
04 OCT 2023 Jena (DE) Rosenkeller
05 OCT 2023 Kassel (DE) Goldgrube
07 OCT 2023 München (DE) Backstage, Keep It Low Festival 2023
09 OCT 2023 Budapest (HU) Robot
10 OCT 2023 Wien (AT) Arena
11 OCT 2023 Bologna (IT) Freak Out
12 OCT 2023 Milano (IT) Barrios
13 OCT 2023 Roma (IT) RCCB
14 OCT 2023 Viareggio (IT) Circolo ARCI GoB
15 OCT 2023 Carmagnola (IT) Circolo ARCI Margot
18 OCT 2023 San Sebastian (ES) Dabadaba
19 OCT 2023 Barcelona (ES) Razz3
22 OCT 2023 Antwerp (BE) Trix, Desertfest Belgium

Heavy Temple:
High Priestess Nighthawk – vocals, bass
Lord Paisley – guitar
Baron Lycan – drums

Howling Giant:
Tom Polzine – guitar, vocals
Zach Wheeler – drums, vocals
Sebastian Baltes – bass, vocals




Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris (2021)

Howling Giant, “Sunken City”

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Up in Smoke 2023 Adds Nebula, Sons of Morpheus, Heavy Temple & Howling Giant

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 17th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Admittedly, I’m a few days behind on this. I don’t know how many — I didn’t want to look — but it’s times like this I like to remind mostly myself that I’m doing the best I can here with the time and energy I have on any particular day. Up in Smoke 2023 is set for Sept. 29-Oct. 1 in Pratteln, Switzerland, the location same as ever, and seems to be the kickoff point for the Fall heavy touring and festival season in Europe. As much as there even are seasons anymore and tours and fests aren’t just happening all the time — by which I mean they are, the dead of winter kinda notwithstanding, for now — but still, moving out of summer brings a new round of beginnings and offerings coming out.

Seeing Nebula and Heavy Temple and Howling Giant together here after also being added to Desertfest Belgium in Antwerp, which takes place nearly a month later means that’s going to be some significant touring for the three American acts. I’m hoping they’re going together — love a package tour — but I have no info or confirmation that that’s what’s happening. At very least, they’ll be meeting up along the way.

Basel’s own Sons of Morpheus round out the new announcement, and as their last release was 2019’s The Wooden House Session (review here), the inevitable curiosity is piqued as to whether they might have a new release in the works for Fall. We’ll see, I guess, and in the meantime, they strengthen an already strong lineup of acts oldschool and new that still has more to come. Good fun.

From social media:

up in smoke 2023 second poster


Hey friends,

We’re more than happy to present you today the new bands for our beloved Up In Smoke Festival!

Please give a very warm welcome to:

This is just a small update – there are many more bands to come!

Stay tuned!

29. Sep – 01. Oct 2023

Konzertfabrik Z7
Pratteln (Basel, CH)

Get ready for three full days of finest heavy rock music!

Tickets (3 Day Passes and Sleepover Tickets) are on sale -> https://www.sol-tickets.com/produkte

Poster by Brookesia Estudio



Nebula, “To the Center/Come Down” live in North Carolina, March 2023

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