Desertfest London 2019 First Announcement: Earthless, All Them Witches, Colour Haze, Kadavar, Witch, We Hunt Buffalo & DVNE Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

desertfest london 2019 banner

What’s more exciting than a killer first festival announcement? Not much. So many possibilities, and with its first lineup additions, Desertfest London 2019 throws the door wide open with some massive names. Earthless, All Them Witches, Colour Haze and Kadavar? Hell, I’d take any of them as a headliner, and you can pretty much throw Witch in there too. That’s five acts right out of the gate, any of whom could sell out a show on their own in London, plus the just-reviewed We Hunt Buffalo and Edinburgh’s DVNE, whom I had the pleasure of seeing at Psycho Las Vegas for their US live debut, rounding out an initial seven that’s absolutely massive.

The key part of the announcement below, though? It’s where it says “we’re aiming for our biggest bill to date.” Desertfest London has only grown huger each year, more forward-thinking and broader in its reach. The Desertscene crew have their work cut out for them in topping 2018, but if this is a taste of the scale to come, they might just get there.

From the PR wire:

desertfest london 2019 poster

DESERTFEST LONDON 2019

Friday, May 3, 2019 – Sunday, May 5, 2019

It begins! Desertfest is returning to Camden for our eighth edition over the Bank Holiday weekend of 3rd to 5th May, and as ever we’re bringing you the finest stoner, doom, sludge and psych bands from around the world. Over the next few months, we’ll be revealing our lineup of dozens of the heaviest bands around, so without further ado, here’s the first seven names for Desertfest 2019.

Over the last half-decade, Nashville’s All Them Witches have made themselves indispensable with a sound that has never stopped evolving, with their roots in heavy blues and psychedelia flourishing over time into an approach that is undeniably their own. The Tennessee four-piece arrive at Desertfest with a reputation that precedes them for jammy explorations and a kind of heavy that, while regularly imitated, has yet to be reproduced by anyone else.

Joining them on the bill are Kadavar, who make their long awaited Desertfest return with their fur-coated, barreling riot of a set at the Jazz Cafe in 2013 as fresh in our minds as ever. There are very few who perform the retro-rockin’, ’70s proto-metal revival with the power, prestige and passion of our favourite Berlin trio. The boogie train that is Kadavar won’t be making any emergency stops as it ploughs through Camden this May.

Vermont spell-casters Witch will be enrapturing Desertfest with their stoner rock incantations in 2019. Combining psychedelic rock, Sabbath-ian doom, and Black Flag sludge-punk, stoner aficionados who were around for the noughties boom will fondly remember Witch for releasing some of the hookiest albums of the decade. After a stint lurking in the shadows, Witch are hitting up Desertfest to make magic once again.

Even after seven mammoth editions of Desertfest, there are bands we’ve been chomping at the bit to get over to Camden to grace our stages; finally, we’ve grabbed us the hardest jamming band in the universe, Earthless, are touching down to shred our corner of London to the ground. The epitome of psyched-out Hendrixian-krautrock from day one, San Diego’s ultimate power trio will melt your entire body this May.

Colour Haze make their return to the Desertfest stage in 2019 after six long years. The German trio, in whose image modern heavy psychedelia is in large part cast, have affirmed their position as unflinching masters of the form in their absence, finding a new niche between heavy riffs and expansive arrangements. The Colour Haze that return to Desertfest are, somehow, even better than the one we saw in 2013.

Vancouver trio We Hunt Buffalo‘s brand of prog-minded fuzz rock has been stampeding out of amps and trampling audiences since 2010. Professing a love of all things stoner and psych and citing influences from all genres of rock, all underpinned with driving fuzz lines, We Hunt Buffalo will be just the ticket to a sore neck at Desertfest.

Last but not least in our first batch of bands are Edinburgh’s DVNE who play their own unique brand of night sky-gazing melodic sludge. Early-period Mastodon fans should take note, as the progressive changes and all-conquering vocals conjure up scenes of destruction, desolation and absolution in their epic soundscapes of post-metal ebb and flow.

So there you have it, our first seven bands. With dozens more names to come, including all three headliners, we’re aiming for our biggest bill to date. Weekend tickets are on sale now at the link below, so be sure to book your place at the heaviest lineup in town; Desertfest 2019!

http://www.desertfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/
https://twitter.com/DesertFest

All Them Witches, ATW (2018)

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Yung Druid Premiere “Take Me to Your Dealer” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

yung druid video

Whoever decided to put London four-piece Yung Druid in front of a green screen very clearly had the right idea. I’m going to guess that was the masterful decision of director Emily McDonald, and if so, kudos. Likewise to whichever involved party decided to include the candy flying saucers along with all the background footage and other low-budget effects thereof, and then not onto to have the jar, but to actually throw the candy at the band as they play, in alien masks. Also it’s shot on VHS. Also there’s a baby that gets zapped by alien lightning eyes and everyone has fun wearing colors that disappear on the green screen. Also they ride a pretend rocketship wrapped in tin foil and smoke a giant novelty joint. Also the song rules. It’s all kind of genius.

The track is called “Take Me to Your Dealer,” and it comes from Yung Druid‘s self-titledyung druid take me to your dealer debut album, which is set to release before the end of the year on Totem Cat Records. Recorded by Mark Jasper in East London, the sound and vibe are as hash-oiled as the video concept, and so the two couldn’t be more appropriate together. It’s a right-on riff for those who might dig on the likes of Witch or some of their rawer stoner acolytes, but the sense of personality, aural and visual, is a marked distinguishing factor. Yung Druid had a demo out in 2016 that in cuts like “Underneath the Aching Sky” and “Went into a Wooden Room” called to mind a somewhat psych-doomier take on earliest Groan with hints of Elephant Tree-style melody in the vocals of “Lung,” and while I don’t know if any of them or the Blind Melon-meets-first-album-Mars Red Sky esque melody of “Morning Come,” which capped the demo, will be included on the self-titled, their over-the-top leads, languid nods and spacious reach offer context for where “Take Me to Your Dealer” is coming from.

Accordingly, I’ve included the demo in an embed at the bottom of this post. “Take Me to Your Dealer” is six minutes long but has no problem holding the viewer/listener’s attention for the duration. For its intriguing take on familiar elements, the burgeoning charm of its execution, and for how well it portends the album to be released, I’m thrilled to be able to host the premiere of the video.

You’ll find more info under the player below. Yung Druid play The Bird’s Nest in Deptford tonight, Sept. 7, in the company of Morag TongTrevor’s Head and Dead Lettuce.

Please enjoy:

Yung Druid, “Take Me to Your Dealer” official video premiere

Yung Druid on “Take Me to Your Dealer”:

It’s a send-up but in a way that’s representative of the best parts of the Stoner genre in general… a holy quadrangle of pastiche, tribute, weed, and evolution. “Take Me To Your Dealer” is pretty indicative of the way we approach music in general. It’s loud, exploratory, rooted in what may or may not have actually happened, and good to crush beers to.

We started recording a year or so back in a converted shed in a semi-industrial part of East London. The initial sessions resulted in a handful of demos which later found their way onto the final cut. We returned a few months later and finished the job, turning up louder to compete with the sonic frequency of the African Evangelical church who had set up next door.

London based, ‘70s inspired Stoner Rock band YUNG DRUID have unleashed their debut video clip for the track ‘Take Me To Your Dealer’; the first single from the band’s forthcoming self-titled LP, due for release via boutique Stoner/Doom label Totem Cat Records in late 2018. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Mark Jasper at Soundsavers Studio, East London.

The retro inspired clip, shot on VHS by filmmaker Emily McDonald, is a psychedelic trip through space; cue alien transformations, flying babies, and a smattering of other ‘organic’ stimulus. To celebrate the release of the video, Yung Druid will be headlining the September edition of the Doom residency show at The Bird’s Nest in Deptford, alongside fellow UK riff merchants Trevor’s Head, Morag Tong and Dead Lettuce, on September 7.

Project: Yung Druid – Take Me To Your Dealer
Director: Emily McDonald
DOP: Joseph Gainsborough
Art Dept: Samantha Crossley
Editor: Emily McDonald
AFX: Kieran Gee-Finch

Yung Druid is:
Jack Oliver – Guitars and Vocals
Magnus Reid – Drums
Luke Waldock – Bass
Chris Reid – Guitars

Yung Druid on Thee Facebooks

Yung Druid on Bandcamp

Yung Druid on Soundcloud

Totem Cat Records on Thee Facebooks

Totem Cat Records on Bandcamp

Totem Cat Records webstore

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The White Swan Premiere “Inamorato”;Touch Taste Destroy EP out Sept. 7

Posted in audiObelisk on August 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the white swan

Based out of London, Ontario, spacious-riffing trio The White Swan will have upon the Sept. 7 arrival of their three-songer, Touch Taste Destroy, released three EPs in the last three years. The prior two, 2016’s Anubis and 2017’s The White (sans “swan”), were recorded by Alastair Sims and featured original cuts — a rolling reinterpretation on the first of Wings‘ “Jet” notwithstanding — of thick-toned, nodding modern stoner doom, hit hard, but still unfolding with an overarching sense of patience and melody. A song like “North Carolina” from “The White,” or the previously unveiled title-track of Touch Taste Destroy create a decided murk reminiscent of earlier Windhand, but distinguished particularly on the latter by a current of keyboards and a fluidity of pace that draws beyond the easy trap of doomly confines.

It’s a relatively familiar breadth of sound more than ably conjured, and “Inamorato” — the Italian-language title referring to a male lover — is the closing track on Touch Taste Destroy following, perhaps suitably enough, “Pelvic Sorcery.” the white swan touch taste destroyWhile I haven’t heard that track — and really, only fools don’t want to hear a song with such a name — “Inamorato” and “Touch Taste Destroy” give a sense that the new EP is picking up perhaps more noisily where the others left off. The White Swan, which is comprised of Mercedes Lander on guitar, vocals, keys and drums, Kira Longeuay on bass and Shane Jeffers on guitar, have their sonic path laid out before them and seem to be steadily pressing forward along it, progressing each time out while sticking to the core thickness and melodic resonance that would seem to be their foundation.

If Lander‘s name rings familiar, it might be due to her 20-plus-year (god I’m old) tenure in metallers Kittie. Even given that band’s shift from nü-metal stylizations to more scouring fare, The White Swan are a marked turn in genre for Lander, but there’s no arguing with results. I’ll admit that as I’ve never been a fan of her other outfit, I was hesitant to check out the track being premiered below, and if you find yourself feeling similarly, I can only offer my lack of regret as having done so as encouragement. The pedigree is an interesting bit of context, but ultimately has little bearing on the sound itself, which feels bent on developing its own identity.

The White Swan have a quick Midwestern run booked for next month and shows in Ontario and Quebec surrounding. Give “Inamorato” a fair shot and see what you think.

And please enjoy:

The White Swan, “Inamorato” official track premiere

Canadian doom/sludge trio The White Swan, which features KITTIE’s Mercedes Landers on vocals, will be releasing their latest EP, “Touch Taste Destroy”, on September 7.

Following up from their previous EP’s, 2017’s ‘The White” and 2016’s “Anubis,” “Touch Taste Destroy” spans over three tracks recorded, mixed and mastered at Noble Street Studios in Toronto, ON with acclaimed engineer Alastair Sims (Rush, Three Days Grace).

THE WHITE SWAN bleeds warm ’70s flavoured Black Sabbath doom mixed with classic ’90s grunge, creating a trademark sound within the space of only three songs. Backed by Kira Longeuay (bass) and Shane Jeffers (guitars), Lander’s previously unknown vision for her music has taken on a life of its own and has been met with praise by the open-minded legions of the rock and metal community.

Tracklisting:
1. Touch Taste Destroy
2. Pelvic Sorcery
3. Inamorato

Upcoming shows!
8/31 Windsor, ON – Phog Bar
9/1 Newmarket ON – The Gray Goat
9/5 Champaign, IL – Blips & Chitz (w/ StagHorn & Close The Hatch)
9/6 Dayton, OH – Blind Bob’s (w/ Close The Hatch)
9/7 Decatur, AL – The Jam Shop (w/ Close The Hatch & I Am The Law)
9/8 Murfreesboro, TN – Autograph Rehearsal Studio (w/ Close The Hatch & I Am The Law)
9/29 Montreal, QC – Piranha Bar
10/20 London ON – 765

The White Swan is:  
Mercedes Lander – drums, vocals, keyboards, guitar  
Shane Jeffers – guitar  
Kira Longeuay – bass  

The White Swan website

The White Swan on Thee Facebooks

The White Swan on Twitter

The White Swan on Instagram

The White Swan on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Khemmis, Morag Tong, Holy Mushroom, Naisian, Haunted, Pabst, L.M.I., Fuzz Forward, Onségen Ensemble, The Heavy Eyes

Posted in Reviews on July 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

I always say the same thing on the Wednesday of the Quarterly Review. Day 3. The halfway point. I say it every time. The fact is, doing these things kind of takes it out of me. All of it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy listening to all these records — well, I don’t enjoy all of them, but I’m talking more about the process — just that it’s a lot to take in and by the time I’m done each day, let alone at the end of the week, I’m fairly exhausted. So every time we hit the halfway point of a Quarterly Review, I feel somewhat compelled to note it. Cresting the hill, as it were. It’s satisfying to get to this point without my head falling off.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Khemmis, Desolation

khemmis desolation

Continuing their proclivity for one-word titles, Denver doom forerunners Khemmis take a decisive turn toward the metallic with their third album for 20 Buck Spin, the six-track/41-minute Desolation. Songs like opener “Bloodletting” and its side B counterpart “The Seer” are still tinged with doom, but the NWOBHM gallop in “Isolation” and “Maw of Time” – as well as the sheer force of the latter – is an unexpected twist. Khemmis showed classic metal elements on 2016’s was-a-very-big-deal Hunted (review here) and 2015’s debut, Absolution (review here), but it’s a question of balance, and as they’ve once again worked with producer Dave Otero, one can only read the shift as a conscious decision. The harder edge suits them – certainly suits the screams in “Maw of Time” and side A finale/album highlight “Flesh to Nothing” – and as Khemmis further refine their sound, they craft its most individualized manifestation to-date. There’s no hearing Desolation and mistaking Khemmis for another band. They’ve come into their own.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin website

 

Morag Tong, Last Knell of Om

morag tong last knell of om

A rumbling entry into London’s Heavy Generation, the four-piece Morag Tong unfold voluminous ritual on their debut full-length, Last Knell of Om. Largely slow and largely toned, the work of guitarists Alex Clarke and Lewis Crane brings the low end to the forefront along with the bass of James Atha while drummer Adam Asquith pushes the lurch forward on cuts like “New Growth” and “To Soil,” the band seemingly most comfortable when engaged in crawling tempos and weighted pummel. Asquith also adds semi-shouted vocals to the mire, which, surrounded by distortion as they are, only make the proceedings sound even more massive. There’s an ambience to “We Answer” and near-13-minute closer “Ephemera: Stare Through the Deep,” which gives the record a suitably noisy finish, but much of what Morag Tong are going for in sound depends on the effectiveness of their tonality, and they’ve got that part down on their debut. Coupled with the meditative feel in some of this material, that shows marked potential on the band’s part for future growth.

Morag Tong on Thee Facebooks

Morag Tong on Bandcamp

 

Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul

holy mushroom blood and soul

Working quickly to follow-up their earlier-2018 sophomore long-player, Moon (review here), Spain’s Holy Mushroom present Blood and Soul, an EP comprised of two songs recorded live in the studio. I’m not entirely sure why it’s split up at all, as the two-minute “Introito” – sure enough, a little introduction – feeds so smoothly into the 19-minute “Blood and Soul” itself, but fair enough either way as the trio shift between different instrumentation, incorporating sax, piano and organ among the guitar, bass, drums and vocals, and unfold a longform heavy psychedelic trip that not only builds on what they were doing with Moon but is every bit worthy of being released on its own. I don’t know if it was recorded at the same time as the record or later – both were done at Asturcon Studios – but it’s easy to see why the band would want to highlight “Blood and Moon.” Between the deep-running mix, the easy rhythmic flow into and out from drifting spaciousness, and the turn in the middle third toward more expansive arrangement elements, it’s an engaging motion that makes subtly difficult shifts seem utterly natural along the way. And even if you didn’t hear the latest full-length, Blood and Soul makes for a fitting introduction to who Holy Mushroom are as a band and what they can do.

Holy Mushroom on Thee Facebooks

Clostridium Records website

 

Naisian, Rejoinder

naisian rejoinder

Sludge-infused noise rock serves as the backdrop for lyrical shenanigans on the three-song Rejoinder EP from Sheffield, UK, trio Naisian. Running just 12 minutes, it’s a quick and thickened pummel enacted by the band, who work in shades of post-metal for “90 ft. Stone,” “Mantis Rising” and “Lefole,” most especially in the middle cut, but even there, the focus in on harsh vocals and lumbering sonic heft. It’s now been seven years since the band sort-of issued their debut album, Mammalian, and six since they followed with the Monocle EP, and the time seems to have stripped down their sound to a degree. “Lefole” is the longest track on Rejoinder at 5:18 and it’s still shorter than every other song Naisian have put out to-date. Their crunch lacks nothing for impact, however, and to go with the swing of “Lefole,” everybody seems to contribute to a vocal assault that only adds to the punishing but thoughtful vibe.

Naisian on Thee Facebooks

Naisian on Bandcamp

 

Haunted, Dayburner

haunted dayburner

The effects-laden vocal swirl at the outset of Haunted’s “Mourning Sun” and moments in the Italian act’s longer-form material, “Waterdawn” or “Orphic,” for example, will invariably lead some listeners to point to a Windhand influence, but the character of the band’s second album, Dayburner (on Twin Earth, DHU and Graven Earth all), follows their 2016 self-titled (review here) by holding steady to a developing identity of its own. To be sure, vocalist Christina Chimirri, guitarists Francesco Bauso and Francesco Orlando, bassist Frank Tudisco and drummer Dario Casabona make their way into a deep, murky swamp of modern doom in “Dayburner” (video posted here), but in the crush of their tones amid all that trance-inducing riffing, they cast themselves as an outfit seeking to express individuality within the set parameters of style. Their execution, then, is what it comes down to, and with “Orphic” (12:46) and “Vespertine” (13:19) back to back, there’s plenty of doom on the 66-minute 2LP to roll that out. And they do so in patient and successful form, with marked tonal vibrancy and a sense of controlling the storm they’re creating as they go.

Haunted on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records website

DHU Records webstore

Graven Earth Records webstore

 

Pabst, Chlorine

pabst chlorine

So, the aesthetic is different. Pabst play a blend of noise, post-punk, heavy rock and grunge, but with the ready pop influence — to wit, the outright danceability of “Shits,” reminiscent in its bounce of later Queens of the Stone Age – and persistent melodicism, there’s just a twinge of what Mars Red Sky did for heavy rolling riffs happening on Chlorine, their Crazysane Records debut. It’s in that blend of dense low-end fuzz and brighter vocal melodies, but again, Pabst, hailing from Berlin, are on their own trip. Weird but almost more enjoyable than it seems to want to be, the 12-track/35-minute outing indulges little and offers singalong-ready vibes in “Catching Feelings” and “Waterslide” while “Waiting Loop” chills out before the push of “Accelerate” and the angularity of “Cheapskate” take hold. Chrlorine careens and (blue) ribbons its way to the drive-fast-windows-open stylization of “Summer Never Came” and the finale “Under Water,” a vocal effect on the latter doing nothing to take away from its ultra-catchy hook. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a record someone with just the right kind of open mind can come to love.

Pabst on Thee Facebooks

Crazysane Records webstore

 

L.M.I., IV

lmi iv

If you’ve got a dank basement full of skinny college kids, chances are Lansdale, Pennsylvania’s L.M.I. are ready to tear their faces off. The sludge-thickened riff punkers run abut 11 minutes with their five-song release, L.M.I. IV, and that’s well enough time to get their message across. Actually, by the end of “Neck of Tension” and “Weaning Youth,” roughly four and half minutes in, the statement of intent is pretty clear. L.M.I. present furious but grooving hardcore punk more given to scathe than pummel, and their inclusions on L.M.I. IV bring that to life with due sense of controlled chaos. Centerpiece “Lurking Breath” gives way to “First to Dark” – the longest cut at a sprawling 2:55 – and they save a bit of grunge guitar scorch and lower-register growling for closer “June was a Test,” there isn’t really time in general for any redundancy to take hold. That suits the feeling of assault well, as L.M.I. get in and get out on the quick and once they’re gone, all that’s left to do is clean the blood off the walls.

L.M.I. on Thee Facebooks

L.M.I. on Bandcamp

 

Fuzz Forward, Out of Nowhere

fuzz forward out of nowhere

Released one way or another through Discos Macarras, Odio Sonoro, Spinda Records and Red Sun Records, the eight-song/43-minute debut album from Barcelona’s Fuzz Forward, Out of Nowhere, has earned acclaim from multiple corners for its interpretation of grunge-era melodies through a varied heavy rock filter. Indeed, the vocals of Juan Gil – joined in the band by guitarist Edko Fuzz, bassist Jordi Vaquero and drummer Marc Rockenberg – pull the mind directly to a young Layne Staley, and forces one to realize it’s been a while since that low-in-the-mouth approach was so ubiquitous. It works well for Gil in the laid back “Summertime Somersaults” as well as the swinging, cowbell-infused later cut “Drained,” and as the band seems to foreshadow richer atmospheric exploration on “Thorns in Tongue” and “Torches,” they nonetheless maintain a focus on songwriting that grounds the proceedings and will hopefully continue to serve as their foundation as they move forward. No argument with the plaudits they’ve thus far received. Seems doubtful they’ll be the last.

Fuzz Forward on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Forward on Bandcamp

 

Onségen Ensemble, Duel

Onsegen ensemble duel

The kind of record you’re doing yourself a favor by hearing – a visionary cast of progressive psychedelia that teems with creative energy and is an inspiration even in the listening. Frankly, the only thing I’m not sure about when it comes to Oulu, Finland, outfit Onségen Enseble’s second album, Duel, is why it isn’t being released through Svart Records. It seems like such a natural fit, with the adventurous woodwinds on opener “Think Neither Good Nor Evil,” the meditative sprawl of the title-track (video posted here), the jazz-jam in the middle of “Dogma MMXVII,” the tribalist percussion anchoring the 12-minute “Three Calls of the Emperor’s Teacher,” which surely would otherwise float away under its own antigravity power, and the free-psych build of closer “Zodiacal Lights of Onségen,” which shimmers in otherworldly fashion and improvised-sounding spark. On Svart or not, Duel is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, and one the creativity of which puts it in a class of its own, even in the vast reaches of psychedelic rock. Whether it means to or not, it tells a story with sound, and that story should be heard.

Onségen Ensemble on Thee Facebooks

Onsegen Ensemble on Bandcamp

 

The Heavy Eyes, Live in Memphis

the heavy eyes live in memphis

Since so much of The Heavy Eyes’ studio presentation has consistently been about crispness of sound and structured songwriting, it’s kind of a relief to hear them knock into some feedback at the start of “Mannish Boy” at the outset of Live in Memphis (on Kozmik Artifactz). The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Tripp Shumake, bassist Wally Anderson and drummer Eric Garcia are still tight as hell, of course, and their material – drawn here from the band’s LPs, 2015’s He Dreams of Lions (review here), 2012’s Maera, 2011’s self-titled, as well as sundry shorter offerings – is likewise. They’ve never been an overly dangerous band, nor have they wanted to be, but the stage performance does add a bit of edge to “Iron Giants” from the debut, which is followed by singing “Happy Birthday” to a friend in the crowd. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Live in Memphis is hearing The Heavy Eyes loosen up a bit on stage, and hearing them sound like they’re having as good a time playing as the crowd is watching and hearing them do so. That sense of fun suits them well.

The Heavy Eyes on Thee Facebooks

The Heavy Eyes at Kozmik Artifactz

 

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Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back: Gnashing of Teeth

Posted in Reviews on June 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

orange goblin the wolf bites back

More than two decades on from making their debut in 1997 with Frequencies from Planet Ten, what else to call Orange Goblin but an institution? The Wolf Bites Back is the London four-piece’s ninth album, their first for sort-of-new label Spinefarm/Candlelight Records (they were on the latter, it got taken over by the former, voila: new label), and it comes after a four-year drought of studio work since the release of 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here), which only continued to raise their profile following the 2013 live record A Eulogy for the Fans (review here) and the preceding long-player it was intended to complement, A Eulogy for the Damned (review here). Most of that time the band spent on tour, so it’s not like they’ve been sitting around actively not recording an album or something like that. They’ve been otherwise occupied, and with the sheer sense of attack that’s present in the songs that comprise The Wolf Bites Back — to say nothing of the aggressive mindset of the title or the threatening nature of the artwork — one could only argue it’s been to their benefit. In its bullshit-free 10-track/41-minute run, The Wolf Bites Back summarizes much of what’s always been righteous in Orange Goblin‘s sound.

It covers nearly every side of the band’s approach, from the Sunlight Studios-infected doom rock of “Swords of Fire” to the crisp, three-minute opening anthem “Sons of Salem” to the Motörhead speed-strut of “Renegade” and down to the last hook and long-fading solo of closer “Zeitgeist,” The Wolf Bites Back finds the band going song-by-song through the varying stylistic aspects of their own particular style, from all-out fury to dug-in groove and back again. They enter direct Southern-heavy conversation with (upcoming) tourmates Corrosion of Conformity on “The Stranger,” and do so only after the raw punker blast of the two-minute “Suicide Division” scathes and scorches and stomps into the ground the peaceful and psychedelic strumming of the actually-longer layered guitar interlude “In Bocca al Lupo” before it. There’s more reaffirmation happening throughout than breaking new aesthetic ground, but as much as The Wolf Bites Back quantifies the diversity in what Orange Goblin do, it also reminds that it’s the strength of their songwriting that has always tied their work together, and it’s on that level that their ninth full-length sees them refining their take.

Not that it doesn’t have its patient stretches or its purposefully languid moments, but frontman Ben Ward, guitarist Joe Hoare, bassist Martyn Millard and drummer Chris Turner have been playing together since at least 1995, and in the musical conversation happening between them, they sound like it. Produced with thickness and depth by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Cathedral, Primordial, Paradise Lost, many more) following the sharper, metallic tinge Jamie Dodd brought to the last two outings, The Wolf Bites Back strikes with its efficiency and ferocity alike. “Sons of Salem” is quintessential Orange Goblin, a fist-raising chorus that finds Ward inviting a sing-along without actually asking. They’ve never had trouble knowing how to launch a record, and with the title-track immediately following, there’s a moment of letup in the guitar intro to the second song, but soon enough, Turner starts a tense gallop in the drums and heavier riffing kicks into the first verse and they’re underway. An especially gruff vocal there leads to the more open chorus and “The Wolf Bites Back” makes its way through twists and turns remaining nonetheless memorable all the way.

ORANGE GOBLIN DAVID BOULONGNE

The aforementioned “Renegade” follows and pushes the throttle to the fullest it’s gone yet — “Suicide Division” will top it for sheer speed — and Millard‘s bass opening leading the way into the subsequent “Swords of Fire” not only reconfirms his place as Orange Goblin‘s not-so-secret-secret-weapon, but also sets a doomier tone to the track itself, as Ward waits until the song is more than halfway over to start the vocals, everything dropping out for a moment as Hoare quickly establishes a faster riff and the band shift into a more thrusting progression. Highlight cut “Ghosts of the Primitives,” with an immediate groove and intricate guitar style, pushes into a more standard riff soon enough but never quite loses its proggy edge, even as Hoare dips into a bluesy solo backed by Millard and Turner. Messing with structure and expectation, the real hook doesn’t arrive until shortly before four minutes into the total 5:28, and Orange Goblin earn bonus points in charm for the meta fade-out-and-back-in-and-out-again that accompanies the line “Ghosts of the primitives fade away.” You see, because he’s talking about fading and the song faded out. Sometimes nothing else will do, and though one assumes it wraps side A, it’s to the band’s credit that “Ghosts of the Primitives” doesn’t close the album as a whole, as that’s usually where such tricky fades happen.

A swath of strums and leads in “In Bocca al Lupo” — the underlying rhythm of which would seem to coincidentally call to mind Neurosis‘ “Stones from the Sky” — introduce side B before, again, “Suicide Division” rip them to shreds, gang vocals and all. That stretch of three tracks, with “In Bocca al Lupo,” “Suicide Division” and “The Stranger,” is as disjointed as The Wolf Bites Back gets, hopping between three different styles in the span of three songs and about 10 minutes total, throwing caution and continuity to the wind and trusting — rightly — that their craft will carry them through. It’s not the kind of move a band would make earlier in their career, but for longtime Orange Goblin fans, the instant swapping out of one side of their personality for another (and another) is an easy jump to make, and frankly, it makes the album more exciting since they actually pull it off. By the time the chorus of “The Stranger” hits, and really before that, they’ve succeeded in the shift, and the arrival of organ in the song’s second half is like a victory lap for the turn just made. A psycho shuffle in “Burn the Ships” brings The Wolf Bites Back back to ground stylistically, returning to the core straightforward approach of the opening duo early while saving a Pepper Keenan-style vocal for the midsection to provide a bit more context to “The Stranger” before it and saving its most vicious groove for the return to the chorus near the more winding finish.

With its long fade-in at the outset, “Zeitgeist” seems to be of a kind with “Ghosts of the Primitives,” which is fair enough since it wraps side B and thus the album as a whole, with Ward adding some echo behind a quick bridge following the first chorus and Hoare layering solos over top each other give a particular NWOBHM affect as the organ subtly returns beneath. A second stage lead takes hold just past the halfway mark, leading back to the hook and bridge, the latter repeated, and as the line “The search goes on and on…” echoes out, HoareMillard and Turner lock in for the last dive into the fadeout, the latter two holding together the rhythm as Hoare solos over top. The ending is as clean and purposeful as everything before it, and in addition to answering back the side A finale, it speaks one more time to the fact that all along throughout The Wolf Bites Back, it’s been the songwriting holding the album together. One doesn’t doubt that Orange Goblin could write a sloppier record and probably nail some of the turns they do here in terms of style, but the fact that they not only do what they do, but do it and maintain a full-album flow, present a collection of memorable tracks and still manage to sound like their mission is nothing more or less than kicking every ass in sight, well, that’s why Orange Goblin are Orange Goblin. Over their years, their influence has justifiably spread to a generation of London heavy rockers, and The Wolf Bites Back is the latest manifestation of why that is. In its energy, persona and vibe, as well as in its basic sound, The Wolf Bites Back shows Orange Goblin at the top of their game.

Orange Goblin, “Sons of Salem”

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Corrosion of Conformity Announce UK Tour with Orange Goblin, Fireball Ministry and Black Moth

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Can you frickin’ imagine C.O.C. and Orange Goblin on the same bill? I’m sorry, but that’s just awesome. Both will be supporting new records — for Corrosion of Conformity, it’s earlier-this-year’s No Cross No Crown (review here), and for Orange Goblin, the impending The Wolf Bites Back (review later this week) — and with support from Fireball Ministry, lest we forget their own new album, Remember the Story (review here), which came out toward the end of 2017 — and Black Moth, the proceedings are all the more righteous for those who’ll be fortunate enough to witness them.

As fate and clever timing would have it, C.O.C. were in the UK this weekend playing Download and they’ve got another date in Colchester tonight ahead of hitting mainland Europe tomorrow to begin a tour that includes a couple dates meeting up with Converge and a stop at Hellfest. This of course will lead to the next tour, which is another run with Black Label Society in the States following up on the one at the start of the year. That’s in July/August, then in Oct./Nov. it’s back to the UK for the aforementioned excellence alongside Orange Goblin et al. It’s been a busy year for these dudes, especially as they’ve been largely without drummer Reed Mullin, who’s been unable to tour with the band following knee surgery and is, as of the last social media post on the subject, understandably anxious to return.

The PR wire brings the latest, but really, the point here is go see C.O.C. You have the means, motive and opportunity, so make it happen:

corrosion of conformity photo by Dean Karr

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY To Kick Off European Tour This Weekend; Band Confirms Fall UK Dates + Second Leg Of North American Tour With Black Label Society And Eyehategod Nears

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY will return to Europe this weekend for a stretch of live dates set to commence June 9th and run through June 24th. The journey includes special performances with Converge as well as appearances at Download, Hellfest, Copenhell, and Graspop. In July, the band will return to North American stages to kick off the second leg of their tour supporting Black Label Society. Slated to begin July 15th, the tour will make its way through nearly two dozen cities upon its conclusion on August 11th. Additional support will again be provided by Eyehategod. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY will close their summer live takeover with a performance at Loud And Heavy Fest in Fort Worth Texas sharing the stages with the likes of Cody Jinks and Whiskey Myers! In October, the band will take on an eight-date UK headlining tour with Orange Goblin, Fireball Ministry, and Black Moth. See all confirmed dates below.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY continues to tour in support of their critically lauded No Cross No Crown full-length, released earlier this year via Nuclear Blast Entertainment. Captured in North Carolina with longtime producer John Custer, the record marks the first studio recording with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan in over a decade and, earning the #67 spot on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, #12 on the Billboard Top Current Albums Chart, and #3 on the Top Hard Music Albums Chart upon its first week of release, is the highest charting album of the band’s career.

No Cross No Crown is available on CD, digital, vinyl, and cassette formats. Various order bundles are available at nuclearblast.com/coc-nocrossnocrown.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY:
6/09/2018 Download – Donnington Park, UK
6/11/2018 Colchester Arts Centre – Colchester, UK
6/12/2018 FortaRock – Nijmegen, NL
6/13/2018 Den Atelier – Luxembourg, LU
6/14/2018 Universum – Stuttgart, DE
6/16/2018 Konzertfabrik Z7 – Pratteln, CH
6/17/2018 Santeria Social Club – Milan, IT
6/18/2018 Orion – Rome, IT w/ Converge
6/19/2018 VAZ Hafen – Innsbruck, AU w/ Converge
6/20/2018 La Belle Electrique – Grenoble, FR w/ Converge
6/22/2018 Hellfest – Clisson, FR
6/23/2018 Copenhell – København, DK
6/24/2018 Graspop – Dessel, BE

w/ Black Label Society, Eyehategod:
7/15/2018 Inkcarceration Music Festival @ Ohio State Reformatory – Mansfield, OH *
7/16/2018 Monarch Music Hall – Peoria, IA *
7/17/2018 The Forge – Joliet, IL *
7/18/2018 20 Monroe Live – Grand Rapids, MI
7/20/2018 Bourbon Theatre – Lincoln, NE
7/21/2018 Diamond Ballroom – Oklahoma City, OK
7/22/2018 Cotillion Ballroom – Wichita, KS
7/23/2018 The District – Sioux Falls, SD
7/25/2018 The Clyde Theatre – Wayne, IN
7/27/2018 Si Hall At The Fairgrounds – Syracuse, NY
7/28/2018 Impact Music Festival – Bangor, ME
7/29/2018 The Webster – Hartford, CT*
7/30/2018 The Queen – Wilmington, DE
8/01/2018 The Mill & Mine – Knoxville, TN
8/02/2018 The Fillmore Charlotte – Charlotte, NC
8/03/2018 Phase 2 – Lynchburg, VA
8/05/2018 The Norva – Norfolk, VA
8/07/2018 Rebel – Toronto, ON
8/08/2018 Metlus – Montreal, QC
8/09/2018 Sherman Theater – Stroudsburg, PA
8/10/2018 Paramount – Huntington, NY
8/11/2018 Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ
8/18/2018 Loud And Heavy Fest @ Panther Island Pavilion – Fort Worth, TX w/ Cody Jinks, Whiskey Myers

w/ Orange Goblin, Fireball Ministry, Black Moth:
10/26/2018 Engine Rooms – Southampton, UK
10/27/2018 02 Institute – Birmingham, UK
10/28/2018 Rock City – Nottingham, UK
10/30/2018 Ritz – Manchester, UK
11/01/2018 02 ABC- Glasgow, UK
11/02/2018 Plug – Sheffield, UK
11/03/2018 The Great Hall – Lardiff, UK
11/04/2018 02 Forum Kentish Town – London, UK
* No Eyehategod

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY is:
Pepper Keenan – vocals, guitar
Woodroe Weatherman – guitar
Mike Dean – bass, vocals
Reed Mullin – drums, vocals

http://www.coc.com
http://www.facebook.com/corrosionofconformity
http://www.twitter.com/coccabal
http://www.nuclearblast.com
http://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa

Corrosion of Conformity, “The Luddite” official video

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Live Review: Colour Haze, Trevor’s Head and The Brothers Keg in London, 05.22.18

Posted in Reviews on May 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

colour haze (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Colour Haze are my that band. You know that band. There’s some resonance there that goes deeper than the average listening experience. I have a couple that bands – YOB, Neurosis, etc. – but in my 15 years of following the Munich trio’s work – which makes me Johnny Comelately when set against the fact that their first album, Chopping Machine (discussed here), came out 23 years ago – I’ve only seen them three times prior. One was Roadburn 2009 (discussed here), another Desertfest London 2013 (review here), and to go way back, Emissions from the Monolith in 2006, which to-date remains the only show they’ve ever played on US soil. I’ve said so before, but that was a moment that genuinely changed my life.

So it was my last night in London before flying back to the US Eastern Seaboard and facing the reality check of bills, stacks of mail – my mail log was on my stolen laptop; whoops – laundry, grocery shopping, and so on, so you’re god damned right I was going to see Colour Haze as they happened to be in town on a tour that brought them to midsize club The Garage for what would be the first non-fest set of theirs I’d ever seen. On my way to the show, I was thinking of what it might bring, for what the room would be like, what the gig would be like, how many people would be there, all that stuff mixed into an anxiety and excitement that lasted pretty much until I walked in the door and saw The Brothers Keg on stage opening the three-band bill.

With Tom Fyfe on drums — also of StubbThe Brothers Keg made their debut with a demo (discussed here) late last year and played material from that and then some, proffering a blend of heavy, desert rock, shouty sludge and psychedelia that someday, probably years from now, some clever critic is going to dub the “London sound.”

It speaks to Kyuss and Iron Monkey alike, but definitely came of age with some grunge influence, and isn’t unaware of the UK’s massive psychedelic legacy either. At least The Brothers Keg weren’t. They had some bearings to straighten out in terms of overall direction, but as with the demo, their potential was writ large in their live set and they made an excellent opener for the night, tying in some elements that each of the next two acts would share.

Trevor’s Head also had some of that “London sound” to them, but it was more of an undercurrent to an overarching layer of prog-metal weirdness. Fronted by guitarist Roger Atkins they played material from their new album on APF Records, Soma Holiday (review here) and a few older songs from 2016’s Tricolossus. Obviously familiar to the crowd, who sang along as the band rolled through, Trevor’s Head‘s three-vocalist approach allowed them to bring the same variety to their live performance as they brought to the record, and three mics on stage meant that at any given point, any one of Atkins, bassist Aaron Strachan and drummer Matt Ainsworth might be breaking the balls of the others. Elephant Tree had a bit of that going too the other night, albeit with one fewer mic. Call it another London thing. Dudes being dudes and whatnot.

They’re an interesting band, though. All three have significant stage presence in the making, and they play with three discernible personalities, with Atkins the frontman despite being in a level line at the front of the stage with the others, Strachan lost in the world of his five-string, and Ainsworth amiably busting chops between songs while seated behind his kit. Again, they knew people in the crowd, but I think even as others started to show up ahead of Colour HazeTrevor’s Head represented the coterie of Desertscene — who booked this gig and also runs Desertfest London — with sonic purpose and a bit of the tongue-in-cheek persona that helps define who these groups are.

I was fortunate enough to talk to Colour Haze guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek for a bit before they went on, and he mentioned this was their 12th show in as many nights. The night before, they were in France. They’d already been to London once, as well as Porto, Madrid and up to Scotland, etc. That’s not an insignificant run for a band of 20 year olds, let alone a group of veterans who’ve influenced a generation of heavy psychedelic rockers and whose first album, Chopping Machine (discussed here), came out in 1995. And though this was my first time seeing them outside festival confines, I was not at all surprised to find they made a two-hour set seem far too short. They were amazing. I’m speaking literally. I stood there and was amazed.

Bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald might be the tightest rhythm section I’ve ever seen. It sounds like hyperbole, but I’m being honest. Their smooth shifts in meter, groove and progression were a joy to watch from the start of set-opener “She Said” through pre-encore set-closer “Transformation” — both taken from 2012’s She Said (review here) — and they played with such class both between themselves and in kind with Koglek and keyboardist/synthesist Jan Faszbender that as they made their way through the title-cut of 2006’s Tempel (discussed here), there was funk in their sound, as well as jazz and still enough rock to tie it all together. Merwald drove the linear builds forward as his kit faced sideways on the stage to put him head-on with Faszbender, and in classic fashion, as Rasthofer provided the foundation, it left Koglek‘s guitar free to wander. And it did. Gloriously.

And the tones. My god. The crowd — increasingly drunk, increasingly dancing — cheered from the first note Koglek played, and rightfully so. His and Rastofer‘s tones both are a guiding principle for Colour Haze, and standing in The Garage as the sound bounced off the back of the room and came around again at max volume, it was like swimming in warm water. Running “Skydancer” and “Skydance” from last year’s righteous In Her Garden (review here) together into one ahead of “Überall” from 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), they built momentum and brought immersion to a level that I doubt I’d have been able to resist if I’d tried. “Aquamaria” had been an early representation, and along with the encore finale “Love,” it was remarkable what Faszbender — on tour for the first time with the band — brought to the arrangements of material new and old.

colour haze 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

In addition to bringing another melodic presence, the keys and synth fleshed out transitions between the songs and worked as much with Koglek as with Rasthofer. “House of Rushammon,” which first appeared on their lost 1998 second album, Seven (discussed here) and later showed up on their 2004 landmark self-titled (discussed here), led off the encore with “Love” behind it, and before they kicked into the latter, Koglek noted from the stage that in these times of increasing nationalism and everything going on in politics, it was something of which the world needed more. From that start, they executed a final swirling build that consumed the crowd to the point that people were jumping up and down in excitement, and one could only pull out one’s earplugs and give in. I won’t say I jumped, but it was one of several points in the set where I just closed my eyes and let go. At one point I turned to The Patient Mrs. — who had had a prior obligation earlier but showed up for the headliner like the proverbial boss she is — and told her I hadn’t felt so good in a year. It was true.

This trip, with its lows and highs, couldn’t have had a better finish. I have packing to do so I’ll keep this short, but between getting robbed and the subsequent support I received, the killer shows I saw, the little bit of record shopping I got to do yesterday (maybe more on that later), seeing good friends and embracing the magic that is British fish pie, I feel like seeing Colour Haze was exactly the kind of summary for how special this time has been. I’m lucky to have experienced it, and incredibly grateful for having the opportunity to do so.

Thank you for reading.

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Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters to Release Come and Chutney July 13; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

chubby thunderous bad kush masters

I’m just going to say this: I’ve been waiting a while for Come and Chutney. I’m 36 years old, and that’s a sentence I don’t think I could’ve imagined writing until today, but it’s true all the same. The debut album from London misfits Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters has been on my anticipated list pretty much since their debut EP, Earth Hog (review here), and certainly since they signed to Riff Rock Records in 2016 and released their split with Ten Foot Wizard (review here). If you heard the unhinged sludge rock of either, you probably don’t wonder why, and after streaming the new song “Cojones Feos,” I’m curious to hear what the rest of the album has to offer. It’s a rare band that can be so delightfully weird and still maintain such a wanton sonic impact.

Then again, it’s also a rare band who’d call their first album Come and Chutney, so I guess any way you want to look at it, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters are working on their own level here. So be it.

From the PR wire:

chubby thunderous bad kush masters come and chutney

British Psychedelic Power Trio CHUBBY THUNDEROUS BAD KUSH MASTERS Announce Debut Album Details; Stream New Single

Come & Chutney to be released via Riff Rock Records 13th July

British psychedelic power trio CHUBBY THUNDEROUS BAD KUSH MASTERS have announced their debut album Come & Chutney will be released via Riff Rock Records on July 13th 2018.

Pre-orders are now available via Riff Rock Records here.

Ahead of the album release the band are streaming their single ‘Cojones Feos’, listen here: https://chubbythunderousbadkushmasters.bandcamp.com/track/cojones-feos

Come & Chutney is a sublime pilgrimage through 8 tracks of cosmos drenching, riff slinking, indignantly delirious, fuzzed out Chubbiosity. And a song about Donald Trump.

The album features several guest appearances including guest vocals from Chantal Brown of Vodun, guest guitar solo from Gary Harkin of Ten Foot Wizard, and guest keyboards by Thom Carter of Riddles on closing track ‘Psychedelic Hallucinogenic Vagrancy’.

The band comments: “Expect the same heavy dose of excessive wah, cheap pedals, throat hocks & greasy döner all in the usual Bad Kush way. These songs were written in between numerous tours about everything from the best kebab to totalitarian demons. Recorded and hot boxed in September 2017 then mixed and mastered March 2018.“

Defying normal conventions, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters exist solely to leave the listener with one thought, “that was some weird shit.”

The London band (which includes former Dopefight frontman Owen Carty) have been turning heads on the UK’s burgeoning underground scene not least because of their combination of tie-dye and corpsepaint, but with a staggeringly heavy live show that has everyone who sees them agreeing that they’re about to become huge. Probably.

Their debut EP “Earth Hog” fused sludgy, blues riffs with stoner rock overtones and was recorded and produced by Sam Thredder of Slabdragger. They followed this with the Split EP “Special” with Ten Foot Wizard in 2017.

The band’s tongue-in-cheek approach belies their dedication to all things heavy and riff-shaped. A jaw-droppingly powerful live band, Bad Kush have already completed two European tours with Bongzilla, Boss Keloid and Ten Foot Wizard, headlined the Black Heart on the final day of Desertfest London 2017 playing alongside such legends as Sleep, Slo Burn and Turbo Negro and repeated circuits of the UK’s underground scene since their inception in late 2014. Having supported the likes of Slabdragger, Dopethrone and Honky, audience members have picked up on the band’s vibe and now blow bubbles in appreciation of the band’s heaviest riffs.

Come & Chutney will be released via Riff Rock Records on 13th July. Pre-orders are now available here.

Catch them live:

May 24th – Music City, Antwerp – Belgium
May 25th – Do It Yourself Cafe, Lille – France
June 16 – Breakfast at Riffany’s, Manchester – UK
July 7th – Return of the End of the World Festival, Plymouth – UK
Aug 25th – Riff Fest, Bolton – UK
+ more to be announced.

Come & Chutney Tracklisting
1. Doggy Bag Of Slurry
2. Krones Of The Kiln
3. Cojones Feos
4. Glue Ear
5. Gutlads
6. Gawdless
7. Döner Trump
8. Psychedelic Hallucinogenic Vagrancy

http://facebook.com/chubbythunderousbadkushmasters
https://chubbythunderousbadkushmasters.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/ChubbyThunderousBadKushMasters
https://www.riffrockrecords.co.uk/
http://www.facebook.com/RiffRockMusic
https://twitter.com/RiffRockRecords

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, “Cojonoes Feos”

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