Friday Full-Length: Truckfighters, Mania

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

 

It was a put-up-or-shut-up moment for Sweden’s Truckfighters. Time to show who they really were going to be as a band and what their impact would be over the longer term. Their 2005 debut, Gravity X (discussed here), had certainly produced its share of memorable tracks, including “Gweedo-Weedo,” “Manhattan Project,” “Gargarismo” and its essential leadoff, “Desert Cruiser,” which over the years since would become the band’s signature piece. But 2007’s Phi seemed to be in an awkward place, with the Örebro three-piece adding a second guitarist in an experiment that ultimately wouldn’t last. It had been more than five years since they got their start on a split with bassist/vocalist Oskar Cedermalm‘s prior band, Firestone (discussed here), and as with so many third albums, it was time for Truckfighters to determine the direction they wanted their material to manifest.

On some level, conscious or not, they must have known it, because 2009’s Mania (review here) meets the formidable task before it in a way that’s nothing if not head-on. It’s the release by which I’ve judged every Truckfighters release since, and a significant standard to which a record might live up, taking the fuzz and memorable hooks of Gravity X and the somewhat moodier vibe of Phi and bringing them together is a way that showed heavy rock did not have to just be one thing. It didn’t just have to be out there, cruising in the desert. It could be progressive, heavy and energetic all at the same time. It could be richly melodic. It could be weighted and contemplative feeling. And in a quick turn, it could be fun, catchy, and nonetheless clear in its intention to engage the listener. With ManiaCedermalm, guitarist Niklas Källgren and then-drummer Oscar “Pezo” Johansson solidified Truckfighters‘ sound around something that could grow in multiple directions, and thereby helped set the stage for what’s come after, both from them and from a generation of heavy rockers who’ve worked to some degree or other under their influence.

It’s debatable whether Truckfighters‘ greater contribution to heavy rock has been on stage or in the studio. Largely self-recorded and self-released, their fuzzy tones have become a signature that’s recognizable in their work as well as in plenty of other acts, but what they do live is perhaps even more immediately striking. Cedermalm and Källgren, as the two founders and essential figures in the band, have a reputation for onstage physicality that is well earned, and I’ve seen them play sets that look as much like an aerobic workout as an artistic performance. Not every band can or wants to do that, of course, but Europe over the last decade has seen a boom of similarly-inclined heavy rock delivery, in the UK, in Germany, in Greece and elsewhere, and certainly Truckfighters have toured enough in that time — including in North America — to spread their influence across borders.

truckfighters mania

But Mania is also dynamic in a way that extends to being more than just a vehicle for a band to run back and forth and jump off drum risers while they play. Songs like the closer “Blackness,” the relatively mellow but still hooky leadoff “Last Curfew” and most especially the 13-minute “Majestic” and the later “Con of Man” actively, willfully push the Truckfighters sound and style to places it hadn’t yet been, reaching a new level of accomplishment as a result. This happened at the same time the early, drum-led “Monte Gargano” reconfirmed their desert rock mindset, and the subsequent “The New High” acted as a bridge from one side to another ahead of the arrival of “Majestic,” still relatively early in Mania‘s eight-song/50-minute run. The album sets up a back-and-forth dynamic, really from the start but especially from “Majestic” onward, that sees them push and pull between more straight-ahead fare and proggier impulses.

“Majestic” — which every bit lives up to its title via a sprawl the band has tried multiple times to recapture — and “Con of Man” are separated by the four-minute “Monster,” which emerges on revisit as a kind of lost standout. Surely overwhelmed by the sweep of what comes directly before and after, as nearly anything would be, its foundation in acoustic and electric guitar blend is itself a forward step for Truckfighters, and Cedermalm‘s laid back vocal there sets gives the song an all the more sunshiny vibe, only emphasizing the contrast in the severity of “Con of Man,” thereby enhancing the effect of both cuts on the audience. This, as well as the penultimate “Loose” — which seems like a direct answer stylistically and thematically to “Desert Cruiser” and is the shortest inclusion at 3:44 — bring a lightness to the end of Mania to keep it from taking itself too seriously. They remind that, hey, we’re all here to have a good time, and speak to a breadth in Truckfighters‘ songcraft that they’ve continued to develop in the years since.

It would be four years before they’d release anything else, but much of that time was spent touring. They came to America for the first time. They had a documentary made about them in 2012. They were on the road again and again in Europe, helping lead the charge of a booming underground heavy festival scene that continues to develop. An EP, The Chairman (discussed here), arrived in 2013, followed the next year by the Universe LP (review here) that seemed to pick up where Mania left off and present Truckfighters‘ growth as an ongoing process, and of course, more heavy road work. A licensing deal through their Fuzzorama Records imprint with Century Media resulted in wider distribution for 2016’s (review here), and they complemented that with the self-released Live in London (review here) that same year, courting controversy as well for their video for “Calm Before the Storm” (discussed here) from the V album. After weathering that and yet more touring, they announced a “long, long” hiatus in 2018 that lasted just about a year before they got back together and decided to hit the road playing Gravity X in full. “You can’t escape from what you are,” their statement said at the time, seeming almost resigned to the fact. Fair enough.

Whatever happens with, to or for them next, Mania 10 years later still holds up as a high point of their output to-date. I won’t take anything away from their other studio releases, but no question this was a special moment, and in a put-up-or-shut-up scenario, they every bit exceeded all expectations and helped reshape what fuzz rock could be.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

That it? Is the week done? Is it ever really over? Nah, not these days.

Whatever.

Life with The Toddlerian Pecan — this strange pain-in-the-ass alien who’s replaced the gorgeous chubby-cheeked baby who was my son mere months ago — continues to provide an assortment of thrills and spills. The Patient Mrs. has had to work all week, as one will when one has, you know, a job — she gotta bring home that bacon to support my ever-expanding blogger-ass — and so it’s been me and him. Me vs. him. I forfeit. He wins. I used to say that if I died in the house by myself, I was cool with The Little Dog Dio eating my face to survive. I don’t know in what scenario it ever would’ve happened like that, but you know, yeah. Well, I’m pretty sure The Pecan is getting ready to eat my face while I’m still alive and then cha-cha-cha stompy-foot dance on my exposed skull. Laughing his adorable laugh all the while.

I’ve never done heroin, but I imagine that laugh is what it’s like.

So it was that kind of week. Especially yesterday morning, which was h-a-r-d. I know I’m not exactly doing the world a favor by having a kid in the first place. Great. One more white dude. That’s bound to make everything better. But man, some days it sure feels like I’m doing him a favor by not opening the door and telling him to go live in the woods. You like squirrels so damn much? Off you go!

He’d go, too. Probably build himself a treehouse, the little fucker.

He’s not yet two. That’s next week.

So. So, so, so.

Speaking of next week, I think I’m gonna go see The Well at the Vitus Bar on Wednesday. Could stand to get out for a bit, and that’s probably just enough traffic to set me right. Also look for reviews of the new Om live LP, an interview with Colour Haze about their new LP (that’s on Monday), a premiere of The Lone Madman and a review of the new Year of the Cobra. That’s your week, right there. I’m sure there will be other stuff. I can’t seem to get through laying out a week on a Friday lately without something changing that day.

Today, for example, my initial plan was the Ogre stream. Then the Bible Black Tyrant premiere came together. Fine. Then last night, the Via Vengeance premiere came together last-minute. Well, okay. So yeah. One day, three premieres, six posts, one of which is this already-gone-on-too-long chicanery. Call it madness, because it is.

Ah shit, Pecan’s awake. 6:20, for the record. I got up at 4, as ever.

Real life.

Not that fake life.

Real life.

Great and safe weekend. Forum and radio. I swear there’s new merch coming soon.

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Asteroid Announce First-Ever South American Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

asteroid

Two cryptic posts last week on thee social medias from Swedish heavy psych blues jammers Asteroid. The first: they’d be traveling to a new continent before the end of the year. I’m pretty sure they’ve been to Australia before, and I know they’ve sworn off North America while the current US administration is in power — there are plenty of days I think when a good portion of the country wishes it could do the same — so that led me to speculate South America was their destination, and it turns out, yes, Abraxas Produtura — among others — is bringing the trio from their Swedish home-base to play a set of four exclusive shows capping in Rio de Janeiro on Dec. 7 at the Festa da Firma.

Ending that run in Rio de Janeiro brings me to the second cryptic social medias post, which was that the band has new material in the works. That’s an awfully long way to travel to play four shows, even if one of them is a fest, so I had to wonder if they’d be recording with Gabriel Zander while in Brazil, and the band has yet to confirm anything in that regard. I don’t know if it would be a full album or what, but either way, it’d make for their first offering since 2016’s III (review here), and whatever shape it ultimately takes, there’s just about no way new Asteroid isn’t going to be welcome as far as I’m concerned, whenever it might show up.

Still good news all around and one more perhaps to look forward to in 2020.

Here’s the info:

asteroid south america shows

Asteroid – South America Tour

Asteroid will hit South America this December. See you in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

The legendary Swedish trio comes to review all their discography in a show that promises tons of high-flying fuzz rock, stoner rock and heavy psych on their first visit to South America that will include presentations in Argentina, Uruguay (within the framework from the second edition of the Noiseground Festival in that country) and Brazil.

Their latest album “III” released by Fuzzorama Records, record label commanded by the Truckfighters is considered by the specialized press as one of the most outstanding releases of the last 10 years within the heavy rock scene in Europe.

There will be gems like “Time”, “Doctor Smoke” and “Pale Moon” a traveling and super electric show, you can’t miss it!

Asteroid live:
12/04 Buenos Aires Casa Colombo
12/05 Montevideo Bluzz Live
12/06 Sao Paulo Jai Club
12/07 Rio de Janeiro Festa Da Firma

Asteroid is:
Robin Hirse – Vocals & Guitar
Johannes Nilsson – Vocals & Bass
Jimmi Kohlscheen- Drums

https://www.facebook.com/Asteroidband/
http://www.asteroid.se/
http://www.fuzzoramastore.com/en/bands/asteroid/

Asteroid, “Til’ Dawn” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Witchcraft, The Alchemist

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Witchcraft, The Alchemist (2007)

 

I never liked Witchcraft‘s The Alchemist. Listening to it now, I can’t help but wonder why the hell not? In the narrative I’d constructed in my head, it was too clean, too much trying to be prog, and it had lost the simple charm of their 2004 self-titled debut (discussed here, albeit briefly) and its 2005 follow-up, Firewood — both records to which I feel some pretty significant fan attachment — and I recall being disappointed in the title-track, thinking it was boring and too long and pretentious in its forced-seeming 14-minute sprawl.

But wow, was I wrong.

I’m not sure the Magnus Pelander-led Swedish classic heavy rockers could ever have put out another album I’d reach for as often as the self-titled, but The Alchemist stands some 12 years later as testament to how prescient the band was in their craft, finding a way forward for retro rock that didn’t betray the vintage aesthetic but allowed for growth in songwriting. They didn’t quite “go prog,” but having recently given Black Sabbath‘s Technical Ecstasy (discussed here) a fair shake, The Alchemist doesn’t feel like an entirely dissimilar vision of creative evolution, whether it’s the referential nods in “Hey Doctor” — which seems not only to allude to Sabbath in its drum fills in the speedier second half, which is a compliment to the work of Fredrik Jansson, but indeed to Witchcraft‘s own prior work as well in its earlier riff — or the saxophone worked into the penultimate “Remembered.” Even the acoustic guitar John Hoyles (later of Spiders and now in Big Kizz as well) brings to “The Alchemist” itself and the flourish of organ from Tom Hakava deep in the mix alongside the bass of Ola Henriksson (now in Troubled Horse) make that song a richer experience in concept and execution alike. I won’t say it’s void of self-indulgence, but neither is it defined by that on an expressive level across its three-part spread. That middle section is gorgeous. I feel like I’ve been missing on enjoying it for over a decade.

Opener “Walk Between the Lines” launches the album with a strong sense of movement, something to sweep the listener into the proceedings with a clarity of strum front and witchcraft the alchemistcenter that even Firewood couldn’t claim in terms of production value, sharper as that record was than the debut. Layers of acoustic and electric intertwine in the solo section, perhaps prefacing the title-track on the album’s other end or at very least sounding cool, and rather than make their way back to the stomp of the song’s early going, they bend strings to twist their way to the song’s finish and instead pick up the thread with “If Crimson was Your Colour,” which was released as a standalone 7″ by Rise Above before The Alchemist came out, and remains one of the catchiest tracks they’ve ever written. “Leva” delves into Swedish-language lyrics for not the first time — recall “Schyssta Lögner” from the first album — and does so atop a creeping blues riff that’s a hook unto itself, while also subtly shifting the mood from the all-go momentum of the opening duo to the more rolling vibe that will continue to proliferate through “Hey Doctor” and “Samaritan Burden,” which brings a turn to gorgeous and folkish tonal wash that fades gently as it moves toward its conclusion and only leaves one wanting more.

That proves to be the perfect setup for “Remembered” to revive the thrust of the initial salvo, which it does while also leaving room for the aforementioned sax — courtesy of Anders Andersson — as well as some mellotron from Hakava, thereby working as well as a transition into “The Alchemist” via the added arrangement elements, broadening listener expectation again in subtle ways. And when they get there, the title-track is consuming in narrative and its patient delivery, with its long, open-feeling midsection, later return, and post-silence epilogue as it makes its way to its 14-minute finish. It wasn’t the first time Witchcraft surpassed the 10-minute mark — that would be Firewood closer “Attention!” — and they’ve done it a few times since, but “The Alchemist” is nonetheless a standout moment amid their work before or after, a complete idea realized at a new level of complexity and presentation.

So what was it that didn’t let me see that at the time? I’ve always been a first-two-records-only Witchcraft fan, and I guess when The Alchemist came out, I was too busy resenting the indie cred they’d amassed to appreciate the sonic progress they were making. It has been my loss, but I’m glad to have taken the opportunity to correct my error. It won’t make up for the 12 years over which I might’ve dug putting it on from time to time, but at least I know going forward that it’s a more than suitable follow-up to the brilliance of those other offerings I’ve so enjoyed for the last decade and a half. Never stop learning.

The Alchemist was Witchcraft‘s last outing through Rise Above and the last to feature Hoyles on guitar. Henriksson would hold out on bass through 2012’s Nuclear Blast debut, Legend (review here), which greatly modernized their sound, and then indeed split with the band as well, leaving Pelander as the remaining founder. In 2016, they issued Nucleus (review here), which built on the steps that Legend had taken, and later that same year, Pelander under his own name released Time (review here), a solo full-length following a 2010 EP that seemed to preface more to come. Not to say it couldn’t happen, but Witchcraft have steadily been performing shows and at festivals — they flew to New York last Fall to play Le Poisson Rouge — and may or may not have new material in the works, which is to say I have no idea what’s going on with them.

Either way, The Alchemist isn’t the departure I’d so long thought it was, turning its back on the rawness of its forebears in Witchcraft‘s discography. It’s an outgrowth of those crucial first accomplishments, and an essential third in what’s been a trilogy all along. It’s not dropping off, it’s soaring.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

By Wednesday morning I was pretty ready to die. The Pecan was out of his mind. He’d had a cold earlier in the week and was getting over it but clearly not back up to 100 percent yet. And ugh. Hitting and biting and mad and not eating and just going from one thing to the next that he knows he’s not supposed to be doing. My laptop, the kitchen cabinets, slamming the fridge door, pulling on the oven — for which we’ve had to get a lock — just one to the next to the next without stopping. It gets so overwhelming. Pulling his mother’s laptop charger out of the wall. Trying to climb up behind the tv. Grabbing burning hot coffee. Climbing on me while I’m on the can. Dude, just bash my brains in and be done with it. Please. Please. I give. Mercy. Just kill me.

It was so bad that it was my 15th wedding anniversary and I told The Patient Mrs. that I found running a stoner rock blog more satisfying than parenting.

I said that shit.

Out loud.

And meant it.

And worse: I feel like I made a convincing case.

It took basically spending two hours at the park with the sandbox to set him right. Yesterday was better to some degree. It would almost have to be. Today he has baby-gymnastics, so I’m hoping that can take it out of him a little bit, let him work off some of whatever residual fuckall remains. We shall see. My severed head, on a pike made by Melissa & Doug.

He’s not yet two.

We were going to start potty training this weekend. No fucking way. I can’t even get the kid to sit down to put shoes on.

So that’s life. Real life.

No new episode of The Obelisk Show today on Gimme Radio. They had some production stuff going on this week and were overwhelmed and asked if I minded if we skipped the episode. Being overwhelmed myself, I said fine. Next week is the Quarterly Review anyhow, so yeah, plenty going on. I’m also flying to Norway for Høstsabbat. And I need to get those Acrimony liner notes finally done this weekend. So yes, I didn’t need to be cutting Gimme voice breaks yesterday afternoon, fun as that is to do.

I needed to sleep.

Which is probably what I should’ve done this morning when the alarm went off as well. Took me about three minutes to get up and flick the on switch for the coffee pot, giving myself a little pep talk in the meantime. “Come on Cocksan, it’s just one post. Get off your ass and make that coffee and write it.” And here we are.

No rest this weekend, no rest next week with the Quarterly Review and the fest after that. I’m also going (I hope) to Acid King on Monday in Brooklyn, so I’ll have a live review of that. And yeah. I don’t know. The whole thing just feels overwhelming and supremely dumb to me at this point, but I keep going. And I guess by the whole thing I mean life. But hey, the new Iguana record is good.

Kaboom.

Thanks for reading. Great and safe weekend. Forum, radio, merch.

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Friday Full-Length: Graveyard, Graveyard

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Even though it came out three years later, Graveyard‘s 2007 self-titled debut was the album that showed retro heavy didn’t just belong to Witchcraft. Yeah, I know that’s an easy narrative and there were other bands out there at the time digging into the heavy ’70s sound for inspiration, but frankly, not at this level, and even Graveyard‘s fellow Swedes had begun by then to pull away from the proto-doom rock of their first outing by ’07. The two groups were further linked by a common lineage in Norrsken, with guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson and then-bassist Rikard Edlund having played in that outfit alongside Witchcraft‘s Magnus Pelander from 1996-2000 and produced several demos and singles as well as appearing on the tributes Bastards Will Pay: A Tribute to Trouble (discussed here) and Blue Explosion: A Tribute to Blue Cheer (discussed here) in 1999. But not only were Graveyard on the earlier end of Sweden and greater Europe’s retroist movement, and not only did they play a significant role in putting it into motion, but they showed there was more to it than Pentagram worship.

I’ll readily admit that the first time I saw them, in 2010 at Roadburn Festival (review here), I didn’t get it. I’d heard the self-titled, then three years old after coming out in the States on Tee Pee and in Europe on Transubstans. They were too cool-looking for me. Everything just seemed too perfect, it felt like a put-on for cool kids that just didn’t sit nearly as well with me as falafel I went outside and ate instead of watching them through the open doorway of the old Green Room at the 013 in Tilburg. I was wrong, of course. Not that Graveyard weren’t fashion-conscious in a way that even Witchcraft would never be and that Germany’s Kadavar would raise to yet another level, but I just got a mistaken impression. It was the end of a long weekend. I was tired. So it goes. Those more clued in to what Nilsson, Edlund, drummer Axel Sjöberg, guitarist Jonatan Ramm and guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Truls Mörck were creating in terms of vibe dug it plenty. The problem, in short, was me. As ever.

By then, Graveyard were already due for a follow-up to Graveyard that wouldn’t arrive for another two years. That long stretch between a first album and a second one would crush a lesser band graveyard self titledlooking to capture some audience share, but with Graveyard, it seemed only to let the nine-song/39-minute long-player — crafted with a focus on vinyl, which was rare in 2007 — simmer as a burgeoning social media word-of-mouth spread its legend. Graveyard became a thing you knew if you were in the know, and their boogie blues rock was perfectly suited for building a cult following. Capping with the mega-hook of “Satan’s Finest,” the album was a clarion to the converted that wasn’t to be missed, and whether it was the shuffle in Sjöberg‘s snare on “Thin Line” or the swapping out of lead vocals for side A closer “Blue Soul” and side B’s “As the Years Pass by the Hours Bend” and the bass/percussion arrangement in the penultimate “Right is Wrong” that seemed so distant from the rush that began the album on “Evil Ways,” there was so much to dig about what Graveyard were doing that even if you got sucked in by the vintage-style production of the whole outing, you were still only getting part of the story. It was at least as much about the band’s songwriting and performance, if not more so, than the aesthetic they so purposefully donned to present it.

“Evil Ways” and “Satan’s Finest” — the start and the finish — were powerful enough in themselves, and managed to embrace cliché enough to be fun while other tracks took a more emotionalist direction that, in hindsight, foreshadowed some of Graveyard‘s and particularly Nilsson‘s delving into soul-driven fare on subsequent offerings. But the self-titled’s more raucous moments, on the short side B leadoff “Submarine Blues” or the bouncing-down-stairs rhythm of “Lost in Confusion,” as well as the fluidity in “Blue Soul,” were a new branch of heavy rock springing up right in front of the listener, and they were received accordingly. I don’t think it’s a hard argument to make that Graveyard became one of the most essential heavy rock bands of this decade in the wake of this debut, and what they’ve gone on to accomplish in the years since — signing to Nuclear Blast to finally release the landmark sophomore full-length Hisingen Blues (review here) in 2011, followed on a quick turnaround by 2012’s Lights Out (review here), touring the universe and then releasing 2015’s more mature Innocence and Decadence (review here) and 2018’s Peace (review here) — is matched by an elite few who might still be considered underground acts.

When Graveyard announced they were calling it quits in 2016, it seemed fair enough. After four records, they’d never hit a snag, and as they’d taken on a more modern production sound and toured hard for about half a decade, it was understandable they might have burnt themselves out. The breakup didn’t take, and when they got back together, with Oskar Bergenheim on drums in place of Sjöberg (since of Big Kizz) and Mörck back in the band on bass instead of guitar, with Ramm and Nilsson as the remaining founders, the revamped rhythm section changed the character of the band. That was evident on Peace, though the songwriting was consistent and arguably the broadest it had ever been. I don’t know what the future holds for Graveyard, except perhaps more touring — they announced last week they’ll be on the road with Clutch in Europe for a quick run this December — and headlining festival gigs if they want them, but listening back to their self-titled, it’s astounding how vital and assured this band was of what they were doing.

There are no shortage of acts out there who aim toward and eventually capture some sense of individuality. Who you put on and immediately know what you’re listening to. Graveyard would prove identifiable by the time the three and a half minutes of “Evil Ways” were done and wherever they’ve gone in terms of their sound, they’ve never lost that. While of course the context of their career since helps, I don’t think you can really look at their debut as anything other than a pivotal moment for this generation of heavy rock.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Gonna keep this quick if I can. A plug:

Today at 1PM Eastern is The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. It’s the first time it’s airing in its new timeslot. I hope you get the chance to listen, and if you do, I hope you dig it. Please, if you can check it out, I’d very much appreciate it. I should be in the Gimme chat for it as well if you want to say hi.

Then later on tonight, The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I are flying to Ireland. It’s been a hell of a week. We loaded and brought a truckload of stuff — including CDs, the packing of which was a task both mentally and physically — to the house in New Jersey where we’ll be living by the end of this summer, on Tuesday. We were there for Wednesday hanging out with family and whatnot, then came back north yesterday to Massachusetts so The Patient Mrs. could go to a farewell work party, and today we have a bunch of running around to do and packing to go on this trip, which is one of the last things she has going for Bridgewater State University: a study-abroad excursion to Ireland with another professor and 15 students. I’m going basically so she doesn’t have to be away from the baby for two weeks, though it means flying on a red-eye with an 19-month-old, stuffing him onto a bus multiple times and sleeping in the same room with him, which we haven’t done in a little over a year. It’s going to be… interesting. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about all of it.

Fortunately, we’re bringing his headphones. He has a little pair of blue wireless over-ears that The Patient Mrs. bought on Amazon. I loaded a micro-SD with the Beatles catalog and it’s an immediate calm-down for him. He can be in the midst of an absolute shit-fit and you put the headphones on him and it snaps him out of it. It’s astounding. Dude loves it. I just have to make sure he doesn’t get to “Revolution 9.” I don’t think children should be exposed to such horrors.

The plan though is to stop in and visit Slomatics though while we’re in Belfast, so I’m looking forward to that, and I may hit a record shop somewhere along the way. We’ll see. I don’t really know. I haven’t even looked at shows as compared to our itinerary or anything, mostly because I have no idea what our itinerary is. I’m really just along for the ride and the child-care on this one.

Because I love flying so much.

But it’s Ireland until June 6, then back to MA, then down to Jersey to see Solace with a bunch of other badass bands on June 8, then back to MA June 13 for more dental work — the saga continues! — then south to NJ, then further south for Maryland Doom Fest, then up to CT for a bit to cover babysitting my niece and nephew, and somewhere in there maybe we’re going to redo the kitchen in NJ before we actually move in? Oh yeah, and the place in Massachusetts goes on the market today, so if this place sells we’ll have to be out by some appointed closing date, then actually sort finances with buying the house in NJ and do that, finish packing — ugh, vinyl — and actually move. It’s a ton of shit, and completely overwhelming. That’s what it is.

All you can do is keep your head down and keep working.

But putting my head down, I notice on the baby monitor that The Pecan is up. Coming on 6AM, so that’s fair. Gonna go grab him and start the day. Laundry to do and whatnot.

Have a great and safe weekend. Forum, radio, merch at Dropout.

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Graveyard in Mexico & South America Starting This Weekend; Australian Tour Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

graveyard

For anyone who might look at the list of Graveyard dates below and wonder, hey, where’s the US tour?, well, they were just here with Uncle Acid. What more could you possibly want? Out of life? In the aftermath of that righteousness, the Swedish kingpins of heavy rock and roll are keeping plenty busy, touring Latin America starting on Friday in Guadalajara, Mexico, and wrapping May 19 in Rio de Janeiro, before heading back to Europe for festivals then returning to the US for Psycho Las Vegas — like you do — before shipping themselves out a week later to Australia for a quick run of shows there. They’ll also be at a big, commercial-type metal festival in Tennessee this October called Exit 111 that has a bunch of bands you’ve heard of. Someone actually recommended Fever 333 to me not so long ago. I should’ve been like, “Thanks brah, but I’m more of a Graveyard kind of guy.” It’s a shame sometimes the only one living in my head is me.

And The Patient Mrs., I guess. She’s all up in there.

In any case, more Graveyard touring, wherever and whenever it happens, certainly isn’t going to hurt anybody. After all, we got a taste of the world without them during their brief breakup in late 2016, and that was enough to begin a riding tide of troubling right wing populism that even their reformation hasn’t been able to stem. That’s right. I’m blaming the outcome of the last US election on Graveyard‘s breakup. Live with it.

Stay tuned for more hard-hitting political analysis:

TOUR DATES GRAVEYARD
2019-05-10 Guadalajara (Foro Independencia) MX
2019-05-11 Monterrey (Café Iguana) MX
2019-05-12 Mexico City (Foro Indie Rocks) MX
2019-05-14 Lima (C.C. Festiva) PE
2019-05-16 Santiago (Rock y Guitarras ) CL
2019-05-17 Buenos Aires (Teatro Vorterix) AR
2019-05-18 São Paulo (Fabrique Club) BR
2019-05-19 Rio de Janeiro (BCO) BR
2019-06-08 Nürnberg (Rock im Park) DE
2019-06-09 Nürburg (Rock am Ring) DE
2019-06-13 Interlaken (Greenfield Festival) CH
2019-06-14 Fuengirola (Rock The Coast) ES
2019-06-16 Donington (Download Festival) GB
2019-06-21 Clisson (Hellfest) FR
2019-07-12 Kristianstad (Rockfest) SE
2019-08-08 Moledo (Sonic Blast) PT
2019-08-16 Las Vegas, NV (Psycho Las Vegas) US
2019-08-23 Brisbane (The Brightside) AU
2019-08-24 Sydney (Crowbar) AU
2019-08-25 Melbourne (Corner Hotel) AU
2019-10-12 Manchester, TN (Exit 111) US

Graveyard:
Joakim Nilsson (vocals, guitar)
Truls Mörck (bass)
Oskar Bergenheim (drums)
Jonatan Ramm (guitar)

https://www.facebook.com/graveyardofficial
https://twitter.com/graveyard
https://instagram.com/graveyardmusic/

Graveyard, “Please Don’t” official video

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Truckfighters Confirm Reunion; Announce Tour Celebrating Gravity X

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

truckfighters

With the announcements that they would play Psycho Las Vegas in August and Keep it Low and Into the Void in October, a full Truckfighters reunion was more or less assumed, but confirmation is always nice. The Swedish fuzz mavens are back after a hiatus announced last February that at the time was said to be “long, long.” Well, so much for that. There’s a certain amount of resignation in the tagline with which they’re returning — “You can’t escape from what you are” — but there’s little doubt Truckfighters will bring their trademark energy back to the stage as they tour celebrating their 2005 debut, Gravity X (discussed here), ahead of its 15th anniversary in 2020.

The short version of this story is I’m glad these guys are back. Not only are they one of the best heavy rock live acts of their generation, but I genuinely think they had more to say as a band, as their last album, 2016’s V (review here), plainly demonstrated. I’ll look forward to whatever they do next, including, it would seem, a good amount of touring.

Word came down the PR wire as it does:

truckfighters gravity x tour

The truck of fuzz is refueled and ready to hit the road…

You can’t escape from what you are.

The answer could be as simple as that.

Almost two years off the grid the band returns with a world tour to celebrate their first album ‘Gravity X’. Originally released 2005 in Europe (2006 USA) the genre classic turns 15 years in 2020. The band gives the celebration a jump start second half of 2019 with selected shows in North America and a big European tour. The rest of the world to follow in 2020-2021.

This time the plans don’t go further, what happens happens. There’s only so much you can control in life.

If ever there was any doubt, this time off has shown the band members who they really are. With the ambition to play enough shows to satisfy their inner urge without losing the motivation, it is safe to say the touring will be less frequent than the most intense years of the band. Just as safe as is it to say that the shows will be better than ever and as always with a hell of a fuzzy sound!

Truckfighters
‘GRAVITY X – from finish to start world tour’.
(More shows to be announced)
Aug 18:th @ Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas (USA) – Psycho Las Vegas Festival
Aug 22:nd @ Sala, Mexico City (MEX) [ Tickets on Sale April 20th]
Oct 4:th @ Posthof, Linz (A) – Night of fuzz
Oct 5:th @ Szene, Wien (A) – Night of fuzz
Oct 6:th @ Beatpol, Dresden (D)
Oct 8:th @ Hydrzagadka, Warsaw (P)
Oct 9:th @ Festsaal, Berlin (D)
Oct 10:th @ Knust, Hamburg (D)
Oct 11:th @ Universum, Stuttgart (D)
Oct 12:th @ Feierwerk, München (D) – Keep it low festival
Oct 13:th @ Helios, Köln (D)
Oct 14:th @ the Garage, London (UK)
Oct 17:th @ Petit Bain, Paris (FR)
Oct 19:th @ Neushoorn, Leeuwarden (NL) – Into the void festival

http://www.truckfighters.com
https://www.facebook.com/truckfighters
https://twitter.com/truckfighters
https://www.youtube.com/user/TruckfightersTV

Truckfighters, Gravity X (2005)

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Jesus Tapdancing Christ. Uncle Acid and Graveyard are Touring Together.

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

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (Photo by Ester Segarra)
graveyard

God damn. I mean, come on. Really? Isn’t there some kind of quota for awesome that this violates? When is it too much for one show?

March 2019. Uncle Acid and Graveyard. North American tour. Co-headline. Come on. I can’t even write the words. You gotta be kidding me.

I don’t know who the fuck sat down and was, okay America, you get Uncle Acid and Graveyard on the road together now. Have fun with that. Like the UN of Doom decided to do us a favor or something. God damn.

Blah blah blah Uncle Acid supporting Wasteland (review here), blah blah blah Graveyard supporting Peace (review here). Are you still reading this? Just go look at the fucking dates and get your ticket already. Think these shows won’t sell out? Come on.

From the PR wire:

uncle acid graveyard tour

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS and GRAVEYARD Announce “Peace Across the Wasteland” Co-Headlining North American Tour

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS and GRAVEYARD are teaming up next March for the “Peace Across the Wasteland” co-headlining North American Tour. The tour kicks off March 6th in Philadelphia, PA and runs through March 30th in Toronto, ON. Twin Temple will provide support through the March 16th date in San Francisco, CA. On March 18th, Demob Happy will join the tour for the rest of the run. A complete list of dates can be found below. Pre-sales start this Wednesday October 24th and the official public on-sale is this Friday October 26th

Revered Swedish heavy rock band Graveyard is touring in support of their critically heralded 5th album, “Peace”, which is available now from Nuclear Blast. The band’s latest chapter in a celebrated catalog, guides the listener through an ever-changing musical landscape filled with their trademark take on classic rock. From the opening track’s blistering declaration that ‘It Ain’t Over Yet’ to the final note of heart beating bass on the epic and moody rocker ‘Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)’ the band manages to squeeze out every last creative drop of what there is to know, hear and love about the band.

“It’s time to let Peace roll out across the Wasteland. Graveyard and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats will co headline a tour of North America in march 2019. This will be the first time the bands tour together and were both bringing tons of new music. This one is going to leave no mind unblown,” says Graveyard of the upcoming run.

The brainchild of singer and guitarist Kevin Starrs, Uncle Acid &The Deadbeats have been making extraordinary music since 2009. After the succesful reissue of “Vol 1” in 2017, they have now returned in support of their widely acclaimed fifth album, “Wasteland” The record is 47 minutes of vital, audacious and frequently bewildering heavy psychedelia, and is instantly recognizable as Starrs’ most immersive and evocative body of work yet.

“We’re looking forward to travelling across the wasteland and destroying minds with Graveyard in 2019. This will be our first North American tour in three years so it feels long overdue. See you down the front!” says Uncle Acid frontman Kevin Starrs.

“Peace Across The Wasteland Tour”
3/6: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer*
3/7: Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live!*
3/8: Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel*
3/9: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade*
3/11: Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall*
3/12: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live!*
3/14: Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren*
3/15: Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern*
3/16: San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield*
3/18: Seattle, WA @ The Showbox#
3/19: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom#
3/20: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater#
3/22: Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall#
3/23: Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre#
3/25: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue#
3/26: Chicago, IL @ Metro#
3/28: Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel#
3/29: Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre#
3/30: Toronto, ON @ The Danforth Music Hall#

*Twin Temple Supports
#Demob Happy Supports

https://www.uncleacidband.com
https://www.facebook.com/uncleacid/

www.facebook.com/graveyardofficial
https://twitter.com/graveyard
https://www.instagram.com/graveyardmusic

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Shockwave City” official video

Graveyard, “Please Don’t” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Burning Saviours, Burning Saviours

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 25th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Burning Saviours, Burning Saviours (2005)

It wouldn’t be right to call the band or the album lost, since they’re still active and it’s not like the record is inaccessible or anything — it’s streaming right there, two lines up — but I do think Burning Saviours are relatively under-appreciated when it comes to the sphere of Swedish heavy, and specifically the retroism that was born in the town of Örebro. They’re of the same vintage-minded scene that birthed the likes of Witchcraft and Graveyard, and while unlike those two monolithic exports, Burning Saviours don’t have a tie to the actually-lost group Norrsken — from whence, according to the narrative, the whole scene more or less sprang — they did share an allegiance to early Pentagram with Witchcraft and a decidedly ’70s tonality with both of their contemporaries. Formed in 2003, they issued their self-titled debut via the tastemaking imprint I Hate Records, and though Witchcraft‘s debut had arrived a year earlier and set the tone for the retro boom that would take place over the course of the next decade, Burning Saviours still had a pivotal role to play in establishing that sound and educating the general listenership.

I’ve said as much before, but I’m not sure if this scene or subgenre happens without the widespread release of Pentagram‘s First Daze Here via Relapse in 2001. True, Norrsken had a ’70s vibe a couple years earlier in ’99, but First Daze Here would become such an aesthetic blueprint, and one can hear its impact on Burning Saviours tracks like “Thoughtless Fools,” “Seeing is Believing,” the earlier “Pytho,” or closer “What’s the Point?,” a heavy rock swing brought to back the steadily lumbering doom riffs. At the time, Burning Saviours were comprised of guitarist/vocalist Andrei Amartinesei, guitarist Mikael Marjanen, bassist Fredrik Evertsson and drummer Martin Wijkström, and the doom they wrought was the key defining factor separating them from the other early post-turn-of-the-century Swedish retroists. Graveyard wouldn’t make their debut until later. Likewise, Witchcraft almost immediately adopted a more progressive stance coming off of their first record. Burning Saviours, meanwhile, certainly dug into some classic progressive rock, as Erica Enback‘s flute work demonstrates on “Spread Your Wings” and “Trees & Stone,” but the thicker-toned roll of “Shadow” is prescient of the direction which the band would head in terms not only of sticking to the very roots of proto-metal, but driving specifically to maintain an allegiance to classic doom.

And that’s pretty much the story here. “Shadow” picks up its pace in the second half, “Thoughtless Fools” offers particularly classy lead work, “Trees & Stone” bounces a rhythm as natural as its title, and “What’s the Point?” finishes with a suitable apex. Sometimes with these posts it’s tempting to regard albums as unheralded classics or something like that. Burning Saviours‘ Burning Saviours is an aesthetically cohesive debut that put the band in position as early adopters of a vintage style of doom before it became the still-evolving subgenre it is today. And where other acts who were putting together their first releases and tours at the time would reach a more mass audience, Burning Saviours stuck to doom on their subsequent 2006 sophomore outing, Hundus, and on through their 2007 third album, Nymphs & Weavers, which would end their initial run and lead to a couple years’ hiatus. One might consider that an influence culled from Finland’s Reverend Bizarre, who would claim Europe’s doom revivalist crown despite a more modern production feel, but whatever the case, it kept Burning Saviours in more of a niche, preaching to the converted in a church of warm tones, brooding atmospheres and laid back nod.

Steady lineup changes pre- and post-hiatus revamped the band almost entirely over time. When they came back, Burning Saviours issued a series of singles called Förbannelsen that were eventually collected on 2014’s Boken om förbannelsen. They’ve been reasonably productive since, releasing two full-lengths in 2015’s Unholy Tales from the North and the simply-titled Death, which came out this past March via Transubstans. At this point, Marjanen is the sole remaining founder in the now-five-piece incarnation of the band, and having cast off the ’70s vision of their earlier work, Burning Saviours have embraced a rawer, darker vision of doom, still very much in line with the genre’s traditions but unquestionably more modern in its presentation. They remain thoroughly, unquestionably, doomed.

Hard for me to pick a favorite between this debut and Hundus, which was a little more sure of itself, maybe, and had more rock at its foundation. Either way, in light of the development of heavy ’70s style doom and boogie as a style all its own, it seems like Burning Saviours‘ earliest output is worth another look for both its quality and the fact that the band were so much on the ground floor of the wave that would soon enough become a tsunami the ripples of which are still feeling felt today.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Woke up this morning at 12:45. On the dot. I was just getting up to go to the bathroom, because I’m an old man and old men get up to go to the bathroom in the “middle of the night” when others are just getting home from whatever they did with their evening — I watched Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and ate slow-cooker chicken with The Patient Mrs.; zero regrets — and I noticed the dog wasn’t in her bed. Uh oh.

I knew immediately what it meant, and it meant I wasn’t getting back to sleep anytime soon. Sure enough, I came downstairs to find her in the basement, having just taken a huge and mostly liquid shit. The Little Dog Dio doesn’t go in the house unless she’s sick, and if she’s sick, she has her spots. Corners. Someplace out of the way. It’s a shar pei thing — they’re very neat and orderly dogs. So when she can’t get outside, she goes in the basement. Last time it was on the carpet down there. This time, the painted particlebaord floor. Much easier cleanup, but still worried-I’d-run-out-of-paper-towels significant. By the time I was finished wiping down the floor and giving the dog a Pepto Bismol, it was well after 1AM, and yeah, no way I’m going to sleep after that.

Instead, I fired up The Patient Mrs.’ laptop and started this post. I shudder to think of the typos in the section above, especially as I got sleepier and sleepier as the post continued and 1AM became 2AM and so on. By three, I was back upstairs asleep, and by four up again. No dogshit this time, just awake. There was about a cup’s worth of coffee left in the pot and some iced tea, so there you go. It’s 20 to six at the moment and I’m making my way through the Burning Saviours album again for the hell of it.

At some point, The Patient Mrs. and The Pecan will come downstairs and the day will start in earnest. I’ll change his diaper while she gets ready for the day, brushes teeth, finds not-pajamas to put on, etc., then maybe breakfast and on from there. Yesterday during that process I ordered a new laptop, which I hope will be here next week. I’m very excited for that and also for buying a new camera. Think I’m going to upgrade there. I’ve had my eye on one on Craigslist that hopefully is still there when the transfer of funds goes through sometime this coming week. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, the story is here.

I was going to put up a list of some of the things I lost on that laptop — writings, interviews, the playlist for when my son was born, and so on — but I think it’d just make me sad, so I’ll refrain. Especially when the response was so heartening there’s no need for that kind of thing.

That UK trip was an interesting time. Ups and downs, but definitely more of the former. Seeing Colour Haze on the last night in town, especially with The Patient Mrs., even though she was stressing out the whole time about leaving the baby with a stranger. I was like, “She’s from Cherry Hill, New Jersey! We’re practically paisan!” I’ve never been much for comforting the worried.

Still, well worth it for a glorious two-hour Colour Haze set that, again, was too short. And I was glad to see Elephant Tree earlier in the week as well, even though The Black Heart later on wouldn’t let the baby in the bar downstairs. Who doesn’t love a baby at the bar? That’s the stuff of life, man.

We’re back home now in buggy summertime Massachusetts, where I think pretty much we’re staying for today before packing up and heading south to CT for the long weekend. There’s stuff to take care of here, but then it’s back to CT, on to NJ, back up here again and back south, hopefully this time for a longer stay in NJ starting the second week of June. I mean like serious relocation, kind of testing the waters for what it would be like to move back to our ancestral homeland, my beloved Garden State. There’s a lot that needs to happen between point A and point B on that one, but I plan on having a few good family dinners over the summer, and that alone is worth looking forward to. I miss the shit out of my family.

But that’s getting ahead of myself and as we push toward 6AM, I can hear the baby crying upstairs, so I’m going to go check in on that and maybe give The Patient Mrs. a spell where she can go back to sleep unhindered by The Pecan. He’s seven months old today, has cut two teeth and is crawling up on his hands and knees as of this morning. Couldn’t do that yesterday. Can do it today.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Thanks for reading. If you’re doing anything for Memorial Day, please be safe and don’t cop a DUI or anything. No casualties.

I’ll be posting on Monday, because that’s how I do, so if you get a second and want to check in, I’ll be here, as usual. Until then, please dig on the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

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