Elephant Tree Announce Fall Shows Including Riffolution Festival

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 7th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

While by no means the longest stretch of touring London’s Elephant Tree have ever done, it is noteworthy in the context of the “return to the stage” mentioned below. That return, which took place at Masters of the Riff III in London in early March, follows a mostly quiet stretch as guitarist/vocalist Jack Townley has been embroiled in an ongoing, months-if-not-years-long recovery from a cycling accident that nearly ended his life. Seriously. I’ve heard the list of bones broken and innards damaged. It is extensive.

So while you’d look at a weekender in September, a stop at Riffolution Festival in Manchester and two nights at London’s famed The Black Heart from a lot of acts and think it’s not the hugest amount of activity ever, that Elephant Tree are “getting back” at all is a reason to rejoice.

They have releases upcoming as well, which I know because I have two ongoing liner-notes projects for the band. One is the split LP with Lowrider that will be out as part of Blues Funeral Recordings‘ PostWax series. The other one I haven’t seen announced as yet — if you’re thinking it might be album-three, it’s not — so I will hold off talking about to be on the safe side, but suffice it to say I’ve been digging back into their catalog of late and as they’re on my mind anyhow, I’m happy to see something like this take shape and the fact that they’ve got a booking agency again speaks of more to come, if not this Fall, then after. I hope that’s how it pans out.

From socials:

elephant tree fall shows

Following on from our surprisingly smooth return to the stage earlier this year, we thought we’d team up with Atonal once again to go on a little jolly this September and December. It gets awful stuffy in them recording rooms and we need a rest from reviewing artwork…

Catch us live at:
13.09.2024 – The Corporation, Sheffield
14.09.2024 – Abyssal Festival, Southampton
15.09.2024 – The Exchange, Bristol
29.09.2024 – Riffolution Festival, Manchester
19.12.2024 – The Black Heart, London
20.12.2024 – The Black Heart, London

Tickets on sale now: https://www.atonal.agency/tickets

Elephant Tree are:
Jack Townley – guitar/vocals
Peter Holland – bass/vocals
Sam Hart – drums
John Slattery – guitar/keys

https://www.facebook.com/elephanttreeband
http://instagram.com/elephant_tree_band
https://elephanttree.band

Elephant Tree, Habits (2019)

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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
🐍🍎

https://www.facebook.com/HeavyTemple/
https://www.instagram.com/heavytemple
https://heavytemple.bandcamp.com

http://store.merhq.com
http://magneticeyerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords
https://www.instagram.com/magneticeyerecords/

Heavy Temple, Garden of Heathens (2024)

Valley of the Sun, Quintessence (2024)

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Review & Track Premiere: High Desert Queen, Palm Reader

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 30th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

high desert queen palm reader

The anticipated sophomore full-length from big-swing Austin, Texas, heavy rockers High Desert Queen, Palm Reader, is set to release May 31 through Magnetic Eye Records. And as the follow-up to 2021’s well-received Secrets of the Black Moon (review here) and the four-piece’s 2023 split with Albuquerque’s Blue HeronTurned to Stone Ch. 8: The Wake (review here) — both on Ripple Music — it answers the high expectations placed on it with organic craft and a focus on largesse that would seem to put the ‘Texas’ in the self-applied tag ‘Texas desert rock.’

That is to say, with Palm ReaderHigh Desert Queen are all in. There’s no sneering irony or pretense in the seven included cuts, and as heavy as they are, the vibe is positive even in the mellow first half of the penultimate “Tuesday Night Blues,” which is about as close to a comedown as the band — vocalist Ryan Garney (also of Lick of My Spoon Productions and the ‘head honcho’ of Ripplefest Texas), guitarist Rusty Miller, bassist Morgan Miller, drummer Phil Hook — get, and the collective pursuit of bigger riffs and nods comes through fluidly with an engrossing and reportedly live-performance-centered production by Casey Johns at Yellow Dog Studios in Wimberley, TX, and the subsequent mix/master at Tri-Lamb in Sweden by Karl Daniel Lidén (GreenleafDozer, Katatonia, on and on) highlighting space and impact alike.

With “Ancient Aliens” and “Death Perception” — the latter featuring a duet with guest vocalist Emma Näslund of Gaupa, whom the band met in Stockholm at Truckfighters Fuzz Fest in late-2022 (review here) — at the outset, Palm Reader welcomes the listener into the set, digs in for the first of two nine-minute jammers without losing sight of the hook in “Head Honcho,” and never diverts from its central goals of conveying the band’s onstage energy and penchant for turning choice riffs into good times. If you come out the other side of the massive, increasingly-shoving chug that closes the album in “Solar Rain” — the other nine-minute jam — and say to yourself that High Desert Queen are a band you need to see live, then Palm Reader will likely have fulfilled the band’s mission for it.

It’s not that they’re reinventing their genre or enacting some kind of stylistic insurgency, but High Desert Queen came out of the gate knowing what they were about, and Palm Reader refines their songwriting while staying true to the core purpose. They’re not fixing what wasn’t broken, and the album isn’t just a succession of comfortably-paced lumbering nods and catchy rhymes — as the centerpiece title-track demonstrates with its funkier strut to finish side A with a kick of momentum picking up from the scorching last chorus of “Head Honcho” — but while their material is more about audience-communion than trying to convince anyone within earshot how clever or progressive or even original they are, the sincerity of their delivery and the natural flow that emerges within and between the songs make long-established methods feel fresh, vibrant.

High Desert Queen

Secrets of the Black Moon did this as well, and the difference might just be the result of High Desert Queen having spent so much of the time between their two-to-date LPs on various stages in various countries, but whether it’s the still-grounded, semi-psych delve in the build toward that climax in “Head Honcho” or the drums setting the start-stop-and-twist pattern for the thickened boogie of “Time Waster” at the start of side B, the songs come across as thoughtful without being overwrought and arranged in such a way as to carry the listener from one end to the other with an overarching movement that doesn’t undercut the impact of the individual pieces comprising it. There’s a sweet-spot for this in heavy rock and roll. High Desert Queen follow the riff to get to it and reside there for the duration.

And nothing they do throughout, from their most mountainous stretches to the screams capping “Solar Rain,” from the declarative nod and post-C.O.C. burl of “Ancient Aliens” to the way “Palm Reader” provides enough of a shift in method that they don’t need an interlude to break up the proceedings, takes away from the heart behind it. I wasn’t kidding above when I said “all in.” Whatever else it might accomplish in songwriting, performance or reach, Palm Reader sounds like nothing so much as a band giving everything they have to each moment of its making. That’s evident in Garney‘s echoing bellows and Miller‘s deceptively-classy soloing on “Time Waster” as well as the point where “Tuesday Night Blues” kicks in from its quieter, spoken-word-topped intro to set its course of fluid loud/quiet trades in motion, and comes to feel like no less of a priority than the heaviest of riffs at the album’s foundation. While certainly self-aware in the sense of knowing what it’s doing, where it’s going and how it’s getting there, Palm Reader is most of all driven by passion.

Of course, chemistry also helps, and even putting aside the fact that Rusty and Morgan Miller are related by blood, High Desert Queen have plenty of it on offer as they align around this or that movement, shifting smoothly whether it’s from the verse to the chorus of “Ancient Aliens” or bringing the midsection cacophony of “Solar Rain” to a stop to let the guitar lay down the riff anchoring the mounting intensity of the record’s finish. Front to back, High Desert Queen neither overshoot nor undersell their marks, and Palm Reader is the kind of outing you could play for someone with no prior familiarity or association with underground heavy music as ready argument in favor of conversion. It’s kind of a party, and without seeming like dumbed-down-for-accessibility caricature, it works on its own level to assure that all who might hear it invited. Give it the proper volume and you might just end up making friends.

The e’er-crucial preorder link, live dates and more info follow the premiere of the lyric video for “Death Perception” in the embed below, courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

High Desert Queen, “Death Perception” (feat. Emma Näslund) lyric video premiere

Pre-orders: http://lnk.spkr.media/high-desert-queen-palmreader

HIGH DESERT QUEEN’s sophomore full-length “Palm Reader” is bursting with raw energy and radiates the feeling of 666 diesel horses thundering loud. The album is crammed with cool vibes, ripping leads, and a ton of desert fuzz with a focus on great songs rather than trying to stay confined within a corral of a particular style.

HIGH DESERT QUEEN had what it takes to kick the scene into gear again. Their vast musical influences ranging from grunge to funk, old school metal to doom and much more provide an ideal foundation for new ideas and a rejuvenating approach to the genre. Their thunderous, fuzz-drenched anthems are delivered with a healthy dose of groove and catchy melodies, and get a massive boost from an emotional intelligence in their music that’s hard to find. The newly-minted sound is linked to the rich heritage of their environs, inspiring the style tag ‘Texas desert rock’.

Answering the exponentially multiplying requests for new material from their steadily growing following, HIGH DESERT QUEEN flanked their live activities with the “Turned to Stone Ch. 8” split release with BLUE HERON, and contributed a track to “Best of Soundgarden Redux”, the latest instalment of the bestselling Magnetic Eye Records Redux series.

With “Palm Reader”, HIGH DESERT QUEEN have made a quantum leap in their evolution as the Texans found the perfect balance between the well-loved legacy of the desert rock genre and carving out their very own path. Fueled by the power and spirit of live music, this album rocks as hard and honest as can be done.

HIGH DESERT QUEEN live:
24 MAY 2024 Lafayette, LA (US) Freetown Boom Boom Room
25 MAY 2024 Houston, TX (US) White Oak Music Hall
26 MAY 2024 Arlington, TX (US) Division Brewery
30 MAY 2024 Austin, TX (US) The Far Out Lounge
31 MAY 2024 Bryan, TX (US) The 101
01 JUN 2024 San Antonio, TX (US) The Amp Room
02 JUN 2024 New Braunfels, TX (US) Guadalupe Brewery
13 JUL 2024 Erfurt (DE) Stoned from the Underground Festival
26 JUL 2024 Neuensee (DE) Rock im Wald Festival
21 SEP 2024 Austin, TX (US) Far Out Lounge, RippleFest Texas

Line-up
Ryan Garney – vocals
Phil Hook – drums
Morgan Miller – bass
Rusty Miller – guitar

High Desert Queen, “Ancient Aliens” official video

High Desert Queen, Palm Reader (2024)

High Desert Queen on Facebook

High Desert Queen on Instagram

High Desert Queen on Bandcamp

Magnetic Eye Records store

Magnetic Eye Records website

Magnetic Eye Records on Facebook

Magnetic Eye Records on Instagram

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Album Review: Brume, Marten

Posted in Reviews on April 29th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

brume marten

Albums like Marten happen neither every year nor for every band. For Brume, it is their third full-length behind 2019’s Billy Anderson-produced Rabbits (review here) and 2017’s Rooster (review here), their second release through Magnetic Eye Records, and their first outing since the three-piece of vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Susie McMullan, guitarist/vocalist Jamie McCathie (ex-Gurt) and drummer Jordan Perkins Lewis welcomed cellist/vocalist Jackie Perez Gratz (GrayceonGiant SquidAmber Asylum, etc.) to an expanded lineup. Gratz had appeared on Rabbits as well, doing a cello guest spot (as will happen) for that record’s centerpiece, “Blue Jay,” which was both shorter than everything that surrounded it, but able to breathe in its own way with the melodic textures of its arrangement, also including keys and harmonized vocals.

It’s not impossible to read “Blue Jay” as the model Brume are following on Marten, which takes its name from the small, weasel-ish animal taxidermied on the fancy chair of its cover, and which finds the band working with producer Sonny DiPerri (MizmorEmma Ruth RundleLord Huron, etc.) and directed in sound more toward atmosphere and breadth than directness of impact, though there’s plenty of that too. Fluid in its storytelling lyric, opening track “Jimmy” unfolds mournfully with soft guitar and cello at its start before the bass and drums join, McMullan immediately putting the listener in the narrative’s place, time and mental state with the lines, “Jimmy rise from the basement/Jimmy rise from the grave,” at the start of the first verse while Lewis slowly cycles through tom thuds and punctuating snare, giving some hint of the sweeping chorus to come, McCathie and Gratz joining on vocals as the corresponding wall of tone and crash-laden roll takes hold, “You raise your glass to freedom/You raise your glass to family/Now you’re fast, too fast, to leave us/My wrath will not be well contained.”

This all takes place before the first three minutes of the first song on a 48-minute eight-tracker LP are done, and not one second of what follows is less graceful or purposeful in its delivery, arrangement and performance, less cognizant of mood, or dynamic. Marten in some ways redefines the course of Brume‘s growth as it builds on what the band has accomplished up to now, but there’s also an engagement with pop in the lyrical voices throughout “New Sadder You,” “Faux Savior” and “How Rude,” taking on subjects like grief, joining a cult and the climate crisis, respectively, in language that feels pointedly not-inflated, conversational and modern. Where another given outfit might get lost in grandiosity, particularly to accompany the melancholic drift of later pieces like “Run Your Mouth” or “The Yearn,” which comprise the closing salvo, Brume resonate all the more for the humanity and specifically at times for the femininity of this perspective. And so the forlorn love poetry of “The Yearn” is presented not as quotes from Greek philosophy or whatever, but in clear, efficient and down-to-earth lines like, “Drowning here/Heart is for real.”

brume (Photo by Jamie McCathie)

One might say the same of how “New Sadder You” is framed. The chorus, “I invite you to greet new sadder you/Because you take pain with you/With you till the end/When your memories are through/Mix joy and despair, anger fast on the move,” is a standout among songs that, while varied enough in structure and atmosphere to not all be about their choruses, have nonetheless been thoughtfully crafted, and as one of Marten‘s most soaring moments, the conversation is grounded and the same point of view that borders on sarcasm in “Faux Savior” as it namedrops a celebrity spiritual advisor and pines for “A proper fraud with fortitude and frost” — the alliteration’s burn in the direction of toxic YouTube-guru influencer masculinity — uses the melody to sweeten the threat on male ego fragility in “Run Your Mouth”: “Words won’t save you/I’ve got all night,” and gives Mother Earth the name Drucilla on “How Rude” as Laurie Sue Shanaman (Ludicra, Ails) adds raw-throated backing screams to the apex-bound build, feeling worlds away from three gentler-but-not-entirely-undoomed nod and bright three-part vocal harmonies of “Otto’s Song,” ending side A with a lullaby just a track prior.

Shanaman returns on the subsequent “Heed Me” as well, lending aural claw to the lines “Can you hear my memories?” and “What can you do for me?” at the ends of the last verses in harsh complement to the melody, but well positioned at the start of side B, which is on average less voluminous than “Jimmy,” “New Sadder You” or the gospel-spiritual plod of “Faux Savior” earlier, and enough of a surprise when they kick in with the first-stage surge of “How Rude” at 4:16 — the second stage hits at 4:44 with “We scream, the earth cracks” — that the listener has less of an idea of what’s coming as they move into “Heed Me,” “Run Your Mouth” and “The Yearn,” the last of which completes Marten on a flowing roll of crash and airy post-metallic lead guitar taking off from the last chorus, in which the cello plays rhythm the bass, gradually moving into its echoing fade. Not that one imagines throatrippers arising from that last gorgeous wash of tone and swaying motion, but you never know and shifting expectation is part of the point, along with emotive expression no less weighted than whichever of the most lumbering riffs you might want to set it beside.

And that heft of emotion extends to the ambience of pieces like “Run Your Mouth” or “New Sadder You” as well, whether it’s McMullan or McCathie doing lead vocals or trading as they do between the final verse and chorus of “New Sadder You,” Gratz lending her significant reach to the ending of “How Rude,” or the lush safe-space created in “Otto’s Song” even after the bass and drums join in to nudge it into a forward march. Across the span of MartenBrume declare themselves as many things in terms of sound, most but not all of them leaning toward a darkness or somberness of mood, but they’re more assured than ever of who they are as a band working in new sonic dimensions of length, width, height and depth, and ‘The Yearn” indeed makes you believe the heart behind it all is for real. That’s an achievement in itself, but still only a fraction of what puts Marten so much on its own level, both for Brume and in whichever microgenre tag might ultimately fail to encapsulate their work here.

Brume, Marten (2024)

Brume, “How Rude” official video

Brume, “Jimmy” official video

Brume on Facebook

Brume on Instagram

Brume website

Magnetic Eye Records store

Magnetic Eye Records website

Magnetic Eye Records on Facebook

Magnetic Eye Records on Instagram

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Greenleaf and Slomosa Announce Fall Co-Headlining Tour with Psychlona Supporting

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 29th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

greenleaf (Photo by Edko Fuzz)

slomosa (Photo by Kamil Parzychowski)

A couple raw stats here to start. Greenleaf‘s ninth LP, The Head and the Habit, is out June 21 on Magnetic Eye. Slomosa‘s second album, the title of which I don’t think is public yet, is scheduled to arrive later this year (presumably before this tour) through Stickman Records. And Psychlona, who also signed to Magnetic Eye at the end of 2023, reportedly just finished tracking their own upcoming album this past week.

Three killer bands touring with new music, is the upshot. It’s emblematic of the continued ascent of Norwegian four-piece Slomosa to the forefront of the European heavy underground that they’re co-headlining with a band who’ve been around for about 25 years, but as the single “Cabin Fever” (video premiered here) makes plain, their intent is to continue the significant momentum behind them at this point, and no doubt this Fall tour — hitting Into the Void in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, Up in Smoke in Switzerland, and Keep it Low in Germany on the Sound of Liberation October festival circuit — will help them do that.

For Greenleaf, the tour announcement comes coupled with the unveiling of “Avalanche,” the duly-tumbling-of-groove second single from The Head and the Habit, which seems nestled into its hook for the duration until… well, I won’t spoil it. But if you think maybe they named the song after the riff, I’ll agree that it’s a definite possibility. At very least, they’d have been well justified in doing so.

Who’s first on the poster depends on whose poster you’re seeing — note the two below — but ‘Habit of the Tundra’ starts Sept. 30 either way. The below is from multiple PR wire sources, so maybe reads a bit choppy, but if you find the dates and the music, you’ll get the idea anyhow. Have at it:

Swedish heavy rockers GREENLEAF reveal a sparkling lyric video for the groovy ten-ton track ‘Avalanche’ as the next single from their forthcoming full-length “The Head & The Habit”, which is scheduled for release on June 21, 2024 via Magnetic Eye Records! In support of “The Head & The Habit”, GREENLEAF have just announced European live dates of the “Habit of the Tundra Tour” with Norwegian desert rockers SLOMOSA and support from PSYCHLONA for autumn 2024.

Following first, previously-released new singles, “Cabin Fever” as well as “Rice”, taken off their forthcoming studio album, Norwegian desert rock upstarters SLOMOSA have confirmed a European Tour with Swedish heavy groove rockers GREENLEAF, who are currently gearing up for the release of their new album “The Head & The Habit” (June 21st via Magnetic Eye Records)! Make sure to catch this killer tour package live at the dates below:

GREENLEAF & SLOMOSA w/ PSYCHLONA
30 SEP 2024 Leipzig (DE) Werk2
01 OCT 2024 Berlin (DE) Lido
02 OCT 2024 (DE) Hamburg (DE) Gruenspan
03 OCT 2024 Köln (DE) Club Volta
04 OCT 2024 Bielefeld (DE) Forum
05 OCT 2024 Leeuwarden (NL) Into the Void
06 OCT 2024 Pratteln (CH) Up in Smoke
07 OCT 2024 Innsbruck (AT) PMK
09 OCT 2024 Wien (AT) Arena
10 OCT 2024 Zagreb (HR) Vintage Industrial Bar
11 OCT 2024 Graz (AT) PPC
12 OCT 2024 München (DE) Keep It Low

GREENLEAF is:
Arvid Hällagård – vocals
Tommi Holappa – guitars
Sebastian Olsson – drums
Hans Fröhlich – bass

SLOMOSA are:
Benjamin Berdous – Vocals/guitar
Marie Moe – Vocals/bass
Tor Erik Bye – Guitar
Jard Hole – Drums

www.facebook.com/greenleafrocks
https://www.instagram.com/greenleafband/
https://greenleaf-sweden.bandcamp.com/

http://store.merhq.com
http://magneticeyerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords
https://www.instagram.com/magneticeyerecords/

https://www.facebook.com/slomosaband
https://www.instagram.com/slomosa
https://slomosa1.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/slomosa
https://sptfy.com/4Qaf

https://www.stickman-records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940

Greenleaf, “Avalanche” official video

Slomosa, “Cabin Fever” official video

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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)

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Worshipper Sign to Magnetic Eye Records; New Album One Way Trip Out Later This Year

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

Kudos to Boston heavy psych rockers Worshipper on joining the powerhouse roster of Magnetic Eye Records. Following two full-lengths on Tee Pee Records in 2019’s Light in the Wire (review here) and their 2016 debut, Shadow Hymns (review here), as well as sundry shorter offerings and appearances here and there, the melody-minded outfit will make offer their awaited third in the months to come with One Way Trip, marking their first release through their new label, also home to the likes of GreenleafHigh Desert QueenBrumeAbrams and Heavy Temple — and that’s just the list of others with forthcoming releases.

It’s not the first time Worshipper and Magnetic Eye have crossed paths. While the band released their own collection of covers in 2018’s Mirage Daze EP, they’ve taken part in Magnetic Eye‘s ongoing ‘Redux’ series of various-artist album/band tributes, and while it’s been four years since their latest original single, 2020’s “Lonesome Boredom Overdrive,” you can hear for yourself at the bottom of this post that that song still kicks ass. They’ll fit well keeping the company they are.

More to come (I hope) as details and such for One Way Trip are revealed. For now, the signing announcement from the PR wire:

worshipper

WORSHIPPER sign with Magnetic Eye Records

WORSHIPPER have penned a multi-album deal with Magnetic Eye Records. The psychedelic hard rockers from Boston, New England will release their third album via the label in 2024.

WORSHIPPER comment: “We’re excited to sign with Magnetic Eye Records and to have a new partner in getting our music out to the world,” vocalist and guitarist John Brookhouse writes on behalf of the band. “We’ve been together for 10 years, but in the time since our last release in 2019, we’ve become a new band in many ways. Magnetic Eye really seemed to understand our intent both musically and professionally, so it feels good to be working together in this new phase of our career. It’s a comfortable fit, as we were part of ‘The Wall Redux’ project back in the day and have done some touring with Summoner – in the case of our drummer Dave Jarvis, he actually was in that band for a while – so we already had a bit of a kinship. To the future!”

Jadd Shickler extends his welcome: “Worshipper have been on my radar since they turned in an incredible rendition of ‘One of My Turns’ for ‘The Wall Redux’, taking a pretty deep cut from the original Floyd album and turning it into one of the most listenable tracks on our release”, the Magnetic Eye director reveals. “I love their classic rockin’ sensibility that pushes into heavier territory, a perfect throughline from 70s and 90s radio hard rock to today, but with an actual soul and legitimate authenticity.. and I mean the radio part as a compliment! As much as I like aggressive and extreme stuff at times, I LOVE anthems if they sound like the band means it. When Worshipper write anthems, they absolutely mean it! I can hardly express how stoked I am to welcome them to the Magnetic Eye roster. These guys bring a musical vigor that is gonna blow the roof open when folks hear what they’ve got coming. Welcome to Worshipper, the latest kickass heavy rock band from Boston to join Magnetic Eye!”

New England is not just the epicentre of dark tales from grandmasters of horror H. P. Lovecraft and Stephen King, and Boston is much more than the rebellious Tea Party spark that set the United States’ revolution for independence aflame, as both the city and region are sizzling hotspots of the East Coast rock scene.

To stand apart from a high concentration of like-minded peers, it takes an extra portion of originality and talent. When WORSHIPPER were founded in 2014 by singer and guitarist John Brookhouse, drummer Dave Jarvis, bass player and backing vocalist Bob Maloney, and guitarist Alejandro Necochea, their mission statement was clear: bring something that was missing to the table and deliver a fresh, new flavour to the scene. From the moment of inception till today, the intact original line-up has cranked out impeccable heady and heavy stuff with an emphatic focus on real songs with hooky melodies, creepy vocal harmonies, and twin guitar heroics.

Their gift for catchy epic songwriting did not go unnoticed, and soon a record deal established WORSHIPPER globally with the albums “Shadow Hymns” (2016) and “Light in the Wire” (2019) garnering much praise from critics and fans alike. It also opened doors for heading out on the road, and WORSHIPPER gladly accepted offers to tour with WEEDEATER in the US and THE SKULL in Europe as well as sharing stages with kindred spirits and heroes such as ELDER, LUCIFER, ACE FREHLEY, and MONSTER MAGNET among many others.

WORSHIPPER are set to release their third heavy psychedelic full-length “One Way Trip” via Magnetic Eye Records this year.

Line-up
John Brookhouse – vocals, guitar, synth
Dave Jarvis – drums
Bob Maloney – bass, backing vocals
Alejandro Necochea – guitar, synth

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https://worshipper.bandcamp.com/

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Worshipper, “Lonesome Boredom Overdrive”

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Video Interview: Brume on Marten, Dolly Parton, All the Lost Rap Parts of Their Songs & More

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on April 8th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

brume (Photo by Jamie MacCathie)

San Francisco’s Brume will release their new album, Marten, through Magnetic Eye Records on May 3. That’s less than a month away. The interview in the video below was conducted back in February, and the reason for that was basically that I heard the thing, got excited about it, and wanted to chat. I had asked bassist/vocalist Susie McMullan (also keys) for a lyric sheet, which she was gracious enough to supply, and reading through, I could see the genuine poetic voice behind a lot of the words; somewhat playful, sometimes sad and/or angry, but pervasively grounded in the actual language being used. Mother Earth, in condemning humanity’s destruction of the planet, calls it rude (that’s “How Rude,” for which they have a new video, also below). McMullan‘s threat “Do you mind if I step in?” is pointedly low-key in redirecting the conversation of “Run Your Mouth.” Just two among many other examples throughout the record.

Part of what makes it striking is that with so much nuance in the careful balance of the vocal arrangements between McMullan, guitarist Jamie McCathie, and cellist Jackie Perez Gratz (also Grayceon, ex-Giant Squid, etc.), the chamber-style presence of the strings amid instrumental dynamics crossing the span from minimalism to outright crush — Jordan Perkins-Lewis‘ drums steady at the foundation for either — you’d almost expect more pretense, more grandiosity. Instead, Marten — named brume martenfor the kind of varmint on its cover, and maybe also a little bit some dude they met on tour in Europe — is casual from the outset. What could be less formal than the name “Jimmy?” However sweeping or consuming “New Sadder You” or “Faux Savior” get, and no matter who is actually delivering the lines in a given verse, that underlying point of view holds firm.

It is a record loaded with stories. There was a lot to talk about, and there probably still is. As regards the interview itself, I’ll tell you that I had had a day by the time McGathieMcMullan and I hopped on Zoom. I should’ve canceled. It’s not a question of performance or anything like that, but about 20 minutes before we started talking I was getting punched by my kid for I don’t even remember what, and I just kind of suck here. I had a hard time going back and watching it, to tell you the truth. I’d transcribe it (ha) if I ever had time, maybe edit the video, but that also feels a little less honest to the experience, and, well, everybody on the internet pretends they’re fucking perfect all the time and in the interest of down-to-earth, here’s me taking myself down a peg. I haven’t done a lot of video interviews in the last year-plus. I really wanted to talk to Brume. If I had it to do over, I would, but sometimes one part of life bleeds into another, and while I’m sure it’s worse to me than to someone else watching, I just kind of get sad looking at and hearing myself here.

So enjoy! Yeah, I know. I haven’t sold it well. Fair enough.

What I’ll tell you is that whether you actually dig into the interview clip or not — and Susie and Jamie had cool stuff to say, so don’t not watch it — listen to the music. “Jimmy,” “New Sadder You” and, as of yesterday, “How Rude” are available as singles. They don’t represent the gospel blues of “Faux Savior” or the emotive fluidity that closes Marten in “The Yearn,” but god damn, do they land heavy on any level you want to consider.

So one way or the other, yeah, do enjoy. Thanks for reading and watching if you do:

Brume, Marten Interview, Feb. 22, 2024

Marten is out May 3 on Magnetic Eye Records. Preorders available here: http://lnk.spkr.media/brume-marten.

Brume, Marten (2024)

Brume, “How Rude” official video

Brume, “Jimmy” official video

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