Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland: Living in It

Posted in Reviews on October 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

uncle acid and the deadbeats wasteland

Along with the stylistic innovation of their general aesthetic, the creepy harmonies and melodic centrality of guitar and vocals, raw fuzz of their tones, their information-age mystique earlier in their career and their classic-but-obscure sound overall, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ work has never been without a corresponding sense of nuance. As they move into album number five, Wasteland — released, as ever, by Rise Above Records — the fine sonic details of their work seem to come through the recording regardless of where an individual goes structurally. The flourish of keys in “Stranger Tonight,” the organ in the ultra-hooky “Bedouin” later in the record, the mellotron and faded-in-drums of the title-track, the VHS-style sampled intro to opener “I See Through You” that set up the arrival of further samples later in “No Return,” after the bell-chord-laden marching plod of that nine-minute track has receded into a long, fog-covered fadeout, and so on.

All of these things become part of the world created at the behest of guitarist/vocalist/ringleader Kevin R. Starrs, and brought to bear with the production of Geoff Neal at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, there’s a balance created between Uncle Acid‘s long established wash of filthy fuzz grit and the melodies that are no less central to who they are as a band. Recording in the same studio where The Beach Boys tracked Pet Sounds and The Doors did Strange Days is something of a direct departure from  2015’s The Night Creeper (review here), which Starrs recorded himself and was the barest-sounding offering since their 2010 debut, Vol. 1 (reissue review here), and they flourish in the grander setting while holding to the eerie, sneaking-around-the-corner vibe that’s always been prevalent and has only helped their influence spread as it has over the better part of the last decade. With eight tracks and 47 minutes, Wasteland is the shortest offering Uncle Acid have made 2011’s world-breaking Blood Lust (discussed here), as both 2013’s Mind Control (review here) and The Night Creeper topped 50 minutes, and in addition to that, there seems to be some shift in how the band are using that time.

Consider for a moment the circumstances of Wasteland‘s release. On a more general level, between Brexit and anti-immigration populism in their native UK and an ever-present sense of disheartening political chaos in Europe and the US — the band’s two central markets — could easily justify the title alone, but when it comes to the actual songs and the album’s arrival, it’s being released at the Desert Daze festival in Los Angeles, and long before any details about Uncle Acid‘s fifth LP were made public, tour dates in Europe and the UK were announced for late-2018/early-2019.

We had “the Wasteland tour” before we knew what Wasteland was. For an act of Uncle Acid‘s profile — and at this point it’s safe to call them one of underground heavy’s most essential bands in terms of influence and their general audience reach — that they’d have a well coordinated release isn’t a surprise, but it’s all the more worth noting because so much of the focus throughout Wasteland seems to be on playing live. Of course it’s a two-sided LP and it splits more or less evenly into half with four tracks on each side. Fine. But to take the totality of the tracklisting as a linear whole from “I See Through You” to the militaristic-snare-into-empty-wind (blowing, no doubt, over the titular wasteland) finish of “Exodus,” the entire album seems to be geared toward playing live. It feels like a live set.

It launches with two immediate, standout, catchy hard rockers in “I See Though You” — a firm reminder to the audience of who Uncle Acid are and what they do — and “Shockwave City,” which comes across as something Scorpions might’ve conjured as filtered through Starrs‘ secrets-in-the-basement ideology of sound with scorching guitar work and a tightness of structure and central riff that stands tall among their finest singles. Momentum is built and slashed as “No Return” takes hold with a quiet and tense but slower progression and unfolds its nodding roll over an extended stretch replete with wailing vocals and a wash they’ve not yet brought to bear. It’s telling that at about six and a half minutes in, “No Return” drops to atmospheria, a kind of residual drone taking hold as the samples arrive. This ostensibly isn’t the end of side A — unless I’m way off as regards the placement of the songs on the vinyl; possible — but it does bring to a close the first of three movements happening throughout Wasteland.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (Photo by Ester Segarra)

Think of it this way: two rockers up front, longer song, two more rockers, longer song, and the finale duo of “Bedouin” and “Exodus” to end out. Three tracks, three tracks, two tracks.

This dynamic throughout the album, apart from considerations of physical format, makes Wasteland seem all the more built to be played live. “Blood Runner” and “Stranger Tonight,” like “Shockwave City” before them, barely top four minutes, and as the former taps some surprising NWOBHM gallop, the latter seems to be composed as the quintessential Uncle Acid track, from its threat of violence in the lyrics — it’s noteworthy that Wasteland is unmistakably the band’s album that’s least about killing ladies; perhaps a sign of Starrs having an ear to the ground as to the moment — to the sweep of its hook that only seems to grow more infectious with multiple listens. These in turn lead to “Wasteland” itself, which is unmistakably a forward step in the creative growth of the band.

They’re not strangers to using acoustics or turns to mellower fare, but across its nearly eight minutes, “Wasteland” takes what songs like “13 Candles” and “Black Motorcade” have done in the past to offset more raucous material directly bridges the gap between the two sides. For a band who’ve always, always, been about songwriting, it’s a new level of achievement in that. From the swaying early verses, effectively arranged with the aforementioned mellotron and harmonized vocals, other keys, guitar, bass flourish, etc., to the build that takes hold with the arrival of the drums at the halfway point and moves into an absolute apex for the album as a whole, it’s as gorgeous it is covered in grime, and its relatively quick fade seems to cut short what could’ve easily been a longer section. No mystery how it got to be the title-track; it’s the whole point. “Bedouin” fades in even more quickly than “Wasteland” went out, and begins the last of the three salvos, which works to bring the other two together somewhat.

It’s shorter than the opener at 5:41, but “Bedouin” nonetheless makes its impact with a strutting chorus and the organ in its verses, as well as highlight lead guitar work that recalls “Shockwave City” earlier but is more tripped-out with effects in its ending. But it’s a rager, and as it gives way to the slower-swinging “Exodus” — residing that rhythmic pocket that so many in the garage doom set try to capture but can’t quite do in the same way that comes so naturally to Uncle Acid — there’s a palpable sense of an encore happening. The closer lands squarely between the shorter and longer cuts, but moreover, it has a sense of finality to it that speaks to the band’s ever-cinematic sphere of influences. That is to say, roll credits.

But, more to the occasion, it’s the grand finale of the live set that is Wasteland as a whole, and though there’s nothing lacking by the time it’s done, the fact that the two prior salvos are three songs and the last one is only two seems to tip-hat to the notion of leaving the audience wanting more. Hence the sudden cut at the end of “Exodus” itself and the shorter overall runtime. It works. The danger coming into Wasteland was whether or not Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats would be seen to have run their stylistic course. Could they make their sound do something new? They haven’t yet made their Sgt. Pepper — or, if they were after my own heart, their Rubber Soul — and they may not have interest in doing so, but what Wasteland does is to bring a refreshed vitality to their approach while willfully tightening the songcraft at the same time they push forward into new ground. There will be a lot that’s familiar to established listeners, but as always with Starrs‘ work, the deeper you dig, the more you find, and Wasteland more than earns such excavation. It’d be a show to remember.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Stranger Tonight”

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats website

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

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Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats to Release Wasteland Oct. 12

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

UK garage doom forerunners Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats will be at Desert Daze in California in October, and it’s newly announced that that appearance will coincide with the release of their fifth album, Wasteland, which follows 2015’s grime-fueled The Night Creeper (review here) in the band’s horror-soaked discography. One might recall earlier this year tour plans surfaced for early 2019 and Rise Above Records at long last reissued their fabled 2010 debut, Vol. 1 (review here), in 2017.

I’ll hope to have more to come as we get closer to October, but here’s the art and preliminaries to whet the appetite:

uncle acid and the deadbeats wasteland

UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS – Wasteland

You can probably feel it already. Amid the shimmering haze of dusk. In the marrow of your bones. The darkness is getting darker. Malevolent forces are on the prowl. The wasteland is beckoning. Uncle Acid is on his way home.

A disorientating journey through Kevin Starrs (AKA Uncle Acid)’ wonkiest dreams, Wasteland glides majestically from punchy and direct psych-rock anthems like “I See Through You” and “Shockwave City” to the viscous, somnambulant ooze of the eight-minute “No Return” and the twinkly-eyed bad trip of the album’s mesmerising title track. Recorded at the legendary Sunset Sound studio in Los Angeles, Wasteland boasts the kind on irresistibly raw and exuberant sound that only the greatest bands can generate.

Yet more confirmation that Uncle Acid exist in their own musical universe, Wasteland is also a powerful cautionary tale: one rooted in the alien landscapes of Starrs’ imagination, but with a very clear connection to the deranged chaos of today’s political world. As humanity cheerfully circles the plughole, Dystopian visions and present-day horrors have become more-or-less interchangeable, making Wasteland’s ghoulish surrealism a lot more pertinent and disturbing in the process.

While most musicians seem content to chase their own (or other people’s tails), Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats remain proud and resolute individualists and Wasteland is simply their most powerful and memorable spurge of creativity to date. Masterfully echoing the magical atmospheres of heavy music’s turbulent past while sounding entirely unlike anything else available to human ears, this is what happens when the shadows come to life and suffocating darkness, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats style, is the only show in town.

1.I See Through You
2.Shockwave City
3.No Return
4.Blood Runner
5.Stranger Tonight
6.Wasteland
7.Bedouin
8.Exodus

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats live w/ L.A. Witch:
15.11 BE Brussels AB
16.11 NL Amsterdam Paradiso Noord
17.11 DE Hamburg Knust
19.11 SE Gothenburg Pustervik
20.11 NO Oslo Rockefeller
21.11 SE Stockholm Nalen
23.11 FI Helsinki Tavastia
25.11 DK Copenhagen Gra Hall
26.11 DE Berlin SO36
27.11 PL Warsaw Hybrydy
28.11 DE Dresden Beatpol
29.11 AT Vienna Arena
01.12 DE Munich Strom
02.12 IT Milan Legend
03.12 FR Villeurbanne Transbordeur
04.12 CH Zurich Dynamo
06.12 DE Karlsruhe Substage
07.12 DE Osnabruck Rosenhof
08.12 DE Koln Luxor
09.12 FR Paris La Maroquinerie

Uncle Acid live w/ Blood Ceremony:
16.01 Leeds Brudenell
17.01 Newcastle O2 Academy 2
18.01 Glasgow G2
19.01 Belfast Limelight 2
20.01 Dublin Academy Green Room
22.01 Manchester Gorilla
23.01 Birmingham O2 Institute 2
24.01 Cardiff The Globe
26.01 Brixton Electric

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

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Waiting for Blood”

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Friday Full-Length: Electric Wizard, We Live

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Electric Wizard, We Live (2004)

A turning point, but a remarkably heavy one at that. Electric Wizard‘s fifth full-length, We Live, came out via Rise Above Records in 2004 and was the first album they produced without the original lineup. In the two years since ’02’s Let Us Prey, guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn oversaw the departure of bassist Tim Bagshaw and drummer Mark Greening, who would go on almost immediately to found Ramesses and make their debut offering in a split with Negative Reaction in 2003. In their place, Oborn brought in bassist Rob Al-Issa and drummer Justin Greaves, and for the first time, a second guitarist in American expat Liz Buckingham, who’d released a couple splits with the New York-based 13 — including one with Grief — during a run from 1990-1996 before joining sludgesters Sourvein for their first two albums and split with Rabies Caste. Personal relationships were involved as well, but bringing Buckingham into Electric Wizard was no less dramatic a shift than seeing the original rhythm section leave, and the sound of We Live bears that out across its seven-song/60-minute run.

Before Let Us Prey, Electric Wizard had issued an unholy trinity in their first three records: their 1995 self-titled debut (discussed here), 1997’s Come My Fanatics… and 2000’s Dopethrone (loosely discussed here). These are the kinds of LPs from which legacies are made, and Electric Wizard‘s is, at least in part, made from them. Let Us Prey, in hindsight, brought a shift in vibe that made it less of a landmark that’s now often overlooked when considering the band’s work, but is nonetheless the last thing they did as the original trio. In bringing aboard Buckingham, Al-Issa and Greaves — the latter of whom also played in UK sludge forerunners Iron MonkeyOborn demonstrated in no uncertain terms his ownership and defining presence in the band. More than ever, Electric Wizard was his and clearly ready to move forward to exploring new ideas and new interpretations of their misanthropic Sabbath and horror worship.

That’s largely what We Live is. But it also pushes Electric Wizard to places they hadn’t yet gone. The first album had plenty of shuffle, but the thrust of “Another Perfect Day?” and “The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue” are on their own level. And the sense of ritual is palpable in 10-minute opener “Eko Eko Azarak,” which is broken into two parts, ‘Invocation’ and indeed ‘Ritual,’ demonstrating not only the power to harness these different atmospheres on the part of Electric Wizard, but also the awareness of what they’re doing with sound. Even the title-track’s use of cult horror as a metaphor is relevant to what the band would go on to do on subsequent records, and it’s not necessarily the first time Oborn went that route with the lyrics — “Devil’s Bride,” anyone? — electric wizard we livebut it’s in bringing these ideas to such a level of focus that We Live shows how far Electric Wizard had come.

And that’s all well and good, right? Blah blah blah, band grows over time. Standard narrative. Band goes through big lineup change. Super-duper. That shit happens. Constantly. In fact, it’s now been like 15 years since the Bagshaw/Greening days of Electric Wizard came to a close and Oborn and Buckingham are still plowing through rhythm sections on the regular. All of this stuff would be the makings of a perfectly fine album. You know what separates We Live, even from the rest of the Electric Wizard catalog?

It’s fucked.

Totally fucked.

More than anything the band produced before or since, We Live strikes the deadliest balance between rawness and fullness. The addition of Buckingham‘s guitar alongside Oborn‘s plunged the band to entirely new depths of mire. Listen to the tonal filth of the 15-minute “Saturn’s Children” and you’ll find a mega-doom imprint of what Electric Wizard would go on to become. Except the presentation is meaner. With recording by Mathias Schneeberger (The Obsessed, Goatsnake, Fatso Jetson, etc.) and co-production by Oborn, songs like “Flower of Evil AKA Malfiore” and “The Sun Has Turned to Black” — which brilliantly follows “Another Perfect Day?” with a mess of initial feedback and signature lumbering groove — embody the misanthropy the band later espoused as such a crucial part of their aesthetic. The rhythms are grueling, the vibe is stoned to death and the doom rides out so thick that it barely seems to move, regardless of actual tempo. By the time they got around to We Live, Electric Wizard had already had a couple classics under their collective belt, but We Live was the beginning point of an expansion that would take them to new levels in sound and profile alike.

The lineup, naturally, didn’t last. While Oborn and Buckingham would continue to define the core of the band, a series of drummers came and went. Greaves went on to found Crippled Black Phoenix, where he remains to this day, while Al-Issa would serve the Wizard once more on 2007’s ultra-pivotal Witchcult Today (discussed here) before likewise departing for parts unknown. That album, as noted here on multiple occasions, was a reset for Electric Wizard that has in no small way affected everything they’ve done in the 11 years since across three full-lengths: 2010’s Black Masses (review here), 2014’s Time to Die (review here), and last year’s Wizard Bloody Wizard (review here), but it’s important to consider that the shifts Witchcult Today brought about didn’t come out of nowhere, and in We Live one can hear the band beginning to reach out for new ground like the proverbial hand of the undead reaching up from a lonely grave. They’d always been heavy. They’d already become spiteful. This was where they took those things to new levels of punishment and made ready to transcend to their most miserable territories yet.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I’m not going to give notes for next week. I have a bunch of stuff planned, but screw it. I’m keeping secrets this time around. Tonight I’m going to see Sleep in Brooklyn. I’ll tell you that much.

The rest you’ll have to stay tuned for. It’s gonna be cool.

Thanks for reading. Have a great and safe weekend and don’t forget to check out the forum and radio stream.

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Quarterly Review: Lucifer, Heilung, Amarok, T.G. Olson, Sun Dial, Lucid Grave, Domadora, Klandestin, Poor Little Things, Motorowl

Posted in Reviews on July 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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

You know what’s disheartening? When someone goes ‘thanks dudes.’ You know, I share a review or something, the band reposts and goes ‘thanks to the crew at The Obelisk blah blah.’ What fucking crew? If I had a crew, I’d put up 10 reviews every single day of the year. “Crew.” Shit. I am the crew. In the description of this site, the very first thing it says is “One-man operation.” It’s a fucking solo-project. That’s the whole point of it. It’s like me looking at your bass and going, “Sweet guitar, thanks for the solos brah.” I’m happy people want to share links and this and that, but really? It’s been nine years. Give me a break.

Oh yeah, that’s right. Nobody gives a shit. Now I remember. Thanks for reading.

And while we’re here, please remember the numbers for these posts don’t mean anything. This isn’t a countdown. Or a countup. It’s just me keeping track of how much shit I’m reviewing. The answer is “a lot.”

Grump grump grump.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Lucifer, Lucifer II

lucifer lucifer ii

Recorded as the trio of vocalist Johanna Sardonis (ex-The Oath), guitarist Robin Tidebrink (Saturn) and guitarist/drummer Nicke Andersson (Death Breath, ex-Entombed, ex-The Hellacopters), Lucifer’s second album, Lucifer II (on Rise Above), follows three years after its numerical predecessor, Lucifer I (review here), and marks its personnel changes with a remarkable consistency of mission. Like Mercyful Fate gone disco, the formerly-Berlin/London-now-Stockholm group bring stage-ready atmospheres to songs like “Phoenix” and the riff-led “Before the Sun,” while unleashing a largesse of hooks in “Dreamer” and the boogie-pushing “Eyes in the Sky.” “Dancing with Mr. D” brings nod to a Rolling Stones cover, and “Before the Sun” reaffirms a heavy ‘70s root in their sound. I can’t help but wonder if the doomier “Faux Pharaoh” is a sequel to “Purple Pyramid,” but either way, its thicker, darker tonality is welcome ahead of the bonus track Scorpions cover “Evening Wind,” which again demonstrates the ease with which Lucifer make established sounds their own. That’s pretty much the message of the whole album. Lucifer are a big band. Lucifer II makes the case for their being a household name.

Lucifer on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records webstore

 

Heilung, Lifa

heilung lifa

Lifa is the audio taken from the live video that brought Denmark’s Heilung to prominence. Captured at Castlefest in The Netherlands in last year, the impression the expansive Viking folk group made was all the more powerful with elaborate costuming, bone percussive instruments, antlers, animal-skin drums, and so on. Their debut studio album, Ofnir, came out in 2015 and like LIFA has been issued by Season of Mist, but the attention to detail and A/V experience only adds to the hypnotic tension and experimentalist edge in the material. Does it work with just the audio? Yes. The 12-minute “In Maijan” and somehow-black-metal “Krigsgaldr” maintain their trance-out-of-history aspect, and the 75-minute set blends multi-tiered melodies and goblin-voiced declarations for an impression unlike even that which Wardruna bring to bear. Whether it’s the drones of “Fylgija Futhorck” or the chants and thuds of “Hakkerskaldyr,” LIFA is striking from front to back and a cohesive, visionary work that should be heard as well as seen. But definitely seen.

Heilung on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Amarok, Devoured

amarok devoured

Eight years after their founding, an EP and several splits, Chico, California, atmosludge extremists Amarok make their full-length debut with Devoured on Translation Loss. If it’s been a while in the making, it’s easy enough to understand why. The album is rife with brutalist and grueling sensibilities. Comprised of just four tracks, it runs upwards of 70 minutes and brings a visceral churn to each cut, not forgetting the importance of atmosphere along the way, but definitely focused on the aural bludgeoning they’re dealing out. Tempos, duh, are excruciating, and between the screams and growls of bassist Brandon Squyres (also Cold Blue Mountain) and guitarist Kenny Ruggles – the band completed by guitarist Nathan Collins and drummer Colby ByrneAmarok make their bid for Buried at Sea levels of heft and rumble their way across a desolate landscape of their own making. Eight years to conjure this kind of punishment? Yeah, that seems about right. See you in 2026.

Amarok on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss Records webstore

 

T.G. Olson, Ode to Lieutenant Henry

tg olson ode to lieutenant henry

Here’s a curious case: T.G. Olson, founding guitarist and vocalist of Across Tundras, is a prolific experimental singer-songwriter. His material ranges from psychedelic country to fuller-toned weirdo Americana and well beyond. He’s wildly prolific, and everything goes up on Bandcamp for a name-your-price download, mostly unannounced. It’s not there, then it is. Olson’s latest singe, Ode to Lieutenant Henry, was there, and now it’s gone. With the march of its title-track and a complementary cover of Townes van Zandt’s “Silver Ships of Andilar,” I can’t help but be curious as to where the tracks went and if they’ll be back, perhaps in some other form or as part of a different release. Both are plugged-in and coated in fuzzy tones, with Olson’s echoing vocals providing a human presence in the wide soundscape of his own making. The original is shorter than the cover, but both songs boast a signature sense of ramble that, frankly, is worth being out there. Hopefully they’re reposted at some point, either on their own as they initially were or otherwise.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

T.G. Olson/Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

Sun Dial, Science Fiction

sun dial sci fi

If space is the place, Sun Dial feel right at home in it. The long-running UK psychedelic adventurers collect two decades’ worth of soundtrack material on Science Fiction, their new release for Sulatron Records. Made with interwoven keyboard lines and a propensity to periodically boogie on “Mind Machine,” “Airlock,” “Infra Red,” etc., the experimentalist aspect of Science Fiction is all the more remarkable considering the album is compiled from different sources. One supposes the overarching cosmos is probably what brings it together, but with the samples and synth of “Saturn Return” and the lower end space-bass of pre-bonus-track closer “Starwatchers” – that bonus track, by the way, is a 15-minute version of opener “Hangar 13” – and though the vast majority of the Science Fiction relies on synth and keys to make its impression, it’s still only fair to call the proceedings natural, as the root of each one seems to be exploration. It’s okay to experiment. Nobody’s getting hurt.

Sun Dial on Thee Facebooks

Sun Dial at Sulatron Records webstore

 

Lucid Grave, Demo 2018

lucid grave demo 2018

There are three songs on Lucid Grave’s first outing, the aptly-titled Demo 2018, and the first of them is also the longest (immediate points), “Star.” It presents a curious and hard to place interpretation of psychedelic sludge rock. It is raw as a demo worthy of its name should be, and finds vocalist Malene Pedersen (also Lewd Flesh) echoing out to near-indecipherable reaches atop the feedback-addled riffing. Quite an introduction, to say the least. The subsequent “Desert Boys” is more subdued at the start but gets furious at the end, vocals spanning channels in an apparent call and response atop increasingly intense instrumental thrust. And as for “Ride the Hyena?” If I didn’t know better – and rest assured, I don’t – I’d call it doom. I’m not sure what the hell the København five-piece are shooting for in terms of style, but I damn sure want to hear what they come up with next so I can find out. Consider me enticed. And accordingly, one can’t really accuse Demo 2018 of anything other than doing precisely what it’s supposed to do.

Lucid Grave on Thee Facebooks

Lucid Grace on Bandcamp

 

Domadora, Lacuna

domadora lacuna

Comprised of four-tracks of heavy psychedelic vibes led by the scorch-prone guitar of Belwil, Domadora’s third album, Lacuna, follows behind 2016’s The Violent Mystical Sukuma (discussed here) and taps quickly into a post-Earthless league of instrumentalism on opener “Lacuna Jam.” That should be taken as a compliment, especially as regards the bass and drums of Gui Omm and Karim Bouazza, respectively, who hold down uptempo grooves there and roll along with the more structured 14-minute cut “Genghis Khan” that follows. Each of the album’s two sides is comprised of a shorter track and a longer one, and there’s plenty of reach throughout, but more than expanse, even side B’s “Vacuum Density” and “Tierra Last Homage” are more about the chemistry between the band members – Angel Hidalgo Paterna rounds out on organ – than about crafting a landscape. Fortunately for anyone who’d take it on, the Parisian unit have plenty to offer when it comes to that chemistry.

Domadora on Thee Facebooks

Domadora on Bandcamp

 

Klandestin, Green Acid of Last Century

klandestin green acid of last century

That’s a big “fuck yes, thank you very much” for the debut album from Indonesian stoner metallers Klandestin. Green Acid of the Last Century arrives courtesy of Hellas Records and is THC-heavy enough that if they wanted to, they could probably add “Bong” to the band’s name and it would be well earned. Eight tracks, prime riffs, watery vocals, dense fuzz, stomp, plod, lumber, shuffle – it’s all right there in homegrown dosage, and for the converted, Green Acid of the Last Century is nothing short of a worship ceremony, for the band itself as well as for anyone taking it on. With the march of “Doomsday,” the unmitigated rollout of “Black Smoke,” and the swirling green aurora of “The Green Aurora,” Klandestin wear their holding-back-a-cough riffage as a badge of honor, and couldn’t be any less pretentious about it if they tried. From the hooded weedian on the cover art to the Sleepy nod of closer “Last Century,” Green Acid of Last Century telegraphs its intent front-to-back, and is all the more right on for it.

Klandestin on Thee Facebooks

Hellas Records on Bandcamp

 

Poor Little Things, Poor Little Things

poor little things poor little things

You get what you pay for with “Rock’n’Roller,” which leads off the self-titled debut EP from Bern, Switzerland-based Poor Little Things. Around the core duo of vocalist Tina Jackson and multi-instrumentalist Dave “Talon” Jackson (also of Australia’s Rollerball) on guitar, bass, synth and percussion is Talon’s The Marlboro Men bandmate Fernando Marlboro on drums, and together the band presents five tracks of remember-when-rock-rocked-style groove. Fueled by ‘70s accessibility and a mentality that seems to be saying it’s okay to play big rooms, like arenas, cuts like “Drive” seem prime for audience participation, and “Break Another Heart” gives a highlight performance from Tina while “About Love” showcases a more laid back take. They close with the 6:37 “Street Cheetah,” which struts appropriately, and end with a percussive finish on a fadeout repeating the title line. As a showcase of their style and songwriting chops, Poor Little Things shows significant promise, sure, but it’s also pretty much already got everything it needs for a full-length album.

Poor Little Things on Thee Facebooks

Poor Little Things on Bandcamp

 

Motorowl, Atlas

motorowl atlas

Every now and then you put on a record and it’s way better than you expect. Hello, Motorowl’s Atlas. The German troupe’s second for Century Media, it takes the classic stylizations of their 2016 debut, Om Generator, and pushes them outward into a vast sea of organ-laced progressive heavy, soaring in vocal melodies and still modern despite drawing from an array of decades past. The chug in “The Man Who Rules the World” would be metal for most bands, but on Atlas, it becomes part of a broader milieu, and sits easily next to the expansive title-track, as given to post-rocking airiness in the guitar as to synth-laden prog. That mixture of influences and aesthetics would be enough to give the five-piece an identity of their own, but Atlas is further characterized by Motorowl’s ambitious songwriting and benefits greatly from the melodic arrangements and the clear intention toward creative development at work here. Those who take on its seven-track/45-minute journey will find it dynamic, spacious and heavy in kind.

Motorowl on Thee Facebooks

Motorowl at Century Media website

 

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Witchskull Set June 1 Release for Coven’s Will on Rise Above Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

There’s no denying the current of classic metal in the new Witchskull single, which you can hear at the bottom of this post. But check this out: The band, who hail from Canberra, Australia, recorded their new album, Coven’s Will, in Brooklyn, New York, with Billy Anderson, who lives in Portland, Oregon, and they’re releasing it on June 1 through Rise Above Records, which is based in the UK. That is what I call a significant geographical fucking spread. Nicely done, gentlemen.

Witchskull‘s debut, The Vast Electric Dark (review here) was issued by Ripple Music in conjunction with STB Records, so it would seem the trio have a thing for racking up significant endorsements when it comes to putting out their music. Again, nicely done.

And while we’re at it? That single? Nicely done.

Album’s up for preorder now, as the PR wire informs:

witchskull

Witchskull to Release “Coven’s Will” June 1st via Rise Above Records

The riff hits. The adrenaline kicks in. The darkness erupts. All heavy metal hell breaks loose. The Coven is awake…

Witchskull will release Coven’s Will June 1st via Rise Above Records. Pre-order the album HERE.

The philosophy behind Witchskull’s take on the essence of primeval heaviness is simple enough. Listen to the first few seconds of the Australian trio’s brand new, second album Coven’s Will and if the vibe doesn’t instantly grab you by the balls and the synapses then maybe you walked in through the wrong door. Channeling the spirit of the metal gods and injecting every last moment of their rampaging anthems with a jolting dose of lysergic menace, Witchskull are the unstoppable real deal.

Formed in Canberra in 2014, Witchskull grabbed the attention of the hirsute, underground hordes with their first demo in 2015. The band’s debut album, The Vast Electric Dark, emerged soon after to great acclaim: its thunderous, turbo-charged squall striking an instant, devilish chord with headbangers hungry for life-affirming riffs, a dash of grubby-fingered authenticity and lashings of supernatural venom. Honed and nurtured in sweaty practice rooms and on stages across the band’s native Australia, the Witchskull sound has subsequently evolved, leading to Coven’s Will: a sophomore outing that looks certain to thrust the three-piece to the upper echelons of the stoner world. Recorded at Studio G in Brooklyn, NYC, with producers Billy Anderson (Neurosis/Sleep/Buzzov.en) and Jason Fuller (Blood Duster) and mixed at Jason’s Goatsound Studio in Melbourne, Coven’s Will has mutated into a snarling, muscular acid-metal monster.

Boasting eight, groove-driven slabs of infernal fury, Coven’s Will pulls off the neat trick of sounding simultaneously timeless /and/ timely, as the fundamental principles of our beloved genre are fed through the Australians’ pitch-black prism and spat out in a shower of wild, hallucinatory devil blues.

A crazy-eyed howl of discontent from the sun-scorched wastelands of Australia, Coven’s Will is a ferocious statement from a band that seem to be hitting their stride and gaining power by the hour. Newly signed to Lee Dorrian’s revered Rise Above Records imprint, Witchskull have found the perfect home from which to spread their irresistible gospel of unholy heaviness. Hell’s Gates have opened, the riffs are coming and the Coven compels you to surrender your soul…

Coven’s Will Track Listing:
1. Raven
2. Son of the Snake
3. Priestess
4. Breathing Blue Light
5. Demon Cage
6. Spyres
7. Lord of the Void
8. The Empty Well

https://www.facebook.com/witchskull/
https://www.facebook.com/riseaboverecords/
http://www.riseaboverecords.com/

Witchskull, “Demon Cage”

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Age of Taurus Announce The Colony Slain Due May 18

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

age of taurus

Don’t know about you, but May 18 sounds like the distant future to me. It’s not. I guess somehow I just missed all of April and it’s still March in my head, despite the semi-decent weather. I don’t know. Either way, it’s just a little over two weeks until the new Age of Taurus album, The Colony Slain, is released on Rise Above Records, and they’ve got  new track called “In Dreams We Die” streaming now that’s rife with trad-doomly righteousness. It’s been five years since they put out their debut full-length, Desperate Souls of Tortured Times, and though I haven’t heard the full-record yet, the single certainly sounds invigorated. You know, at least as far as doom goes.

The PR wire has info. Audio’s at the bottom. You know how we do:

Age of Taurus The Colony Slain

Age Of Taurus To Release “The Colony Slain” May 18th via Rise Above Records – First Single Streaming

“Many centuries ago, when the world was slightly younger and a little less ravaged by time’s unrelenting grasp, there existed a sprawling empire of unrivalled power. Yet, whilst its might and influence stretched across great oceans and through vast mountain ranges, its immense dominion was born not out of prosperity and industry, but from rampant fear and blind obedience…”

So begins the arcane tale behind The Colony Slain, the second full-length album from doom metal diehards Age Of Taurus. The album is set for release May 18th via Rise Above Records.

Nearly five years on from the release of acclaimed debut Desperate Souls Of Tortured Times, singer/guitarist and conceptual mastermind Toby W. Wright is ready to unveil a new, ultra-dramatic chapter in the turbulent saga of the Taurean Empire. Showcasing a new line-up featuring new bassist Leo Smee (With The Dead/ex-Cathedral) alongside Wright, drummer Darius Claydon and most recent recruit, guitarist Daniel Knight, The Colony Slain is the sound of a great band reborn in heavy metal glory.

Formed in 2009, Age Of Taurus have already established themselves as a doggedly unique force within the modern world of doom. Ever the stubborn mavericks, they have once again conjured a collection of songs that defy lazy notions of doom metal as a one-dimensional creative cul-de-sac. Still rooted in the rumbling sonic bedrock of Trouble, Candlemass and Sabbath but increasingly steeped in the gritty swagger of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and in thrall to numerous left-field, progressive ideas, songs like fiery opener Taken To The Tower and the rampaging In Dream We Die eschew the languorous repetition of much modern doom in favour of subtly elaborate song structures that proudly salute the spirit of old school heavy metal. With nods to everything from radio-friendly hard rock to gritty crossover thrash, The Colony Slain is a flat-out celebration of the metal code.

Rejuvenated and refocused, Age Of Taurus have returned from the wilderness bearing the most potent of gifts. Living, breathing, thunderous proof of doom’s timeless allure and the inspirational power of the riff, The Colony Slain brings past, present and future together in a riot of heartfelt heaviness and, as the story says, unrivalled power. A new age is dawning and this story never ends…

The Colony Slain Track Listing:
1. From the Hills to the Halls
2. Taken to the Tower
3. The Trial of Blackwynn Chaise
4. In Dreams We Die
5. The Lost Garrison
6. Beyond the Westward Path
7. For Treason We Rise
8. The Walls Have Ears
9. To Seal a Mountain
10. As Ice Into Blood
11. The Colony Slain

Age of Taurus is:
Toby Wright – Vocals/Guitar
Leo Smee – Bass & Synthesizers
Darius Claydon – Drums
Daniel Knight – Lead Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/AgeOfTaurus/
https://www.facebook.com/riseaboverecords/
http://www.riseaboverecords.com/

Age of Taurus, “In Dreams We Die”

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Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats Announce Fall & Winter Touring; New Album Due this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

UK garage doom forerunners Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats spent much of 2016 on the road touring the crap out of their 2015 fourth album, The Night Creeper (review here), which was by far their grimeiest yet. It’s important to add the ‘yet’ there because the band are set to have a new album out this Fall through Rise Above Records, which also reissued their long-lost 2010 debut, Vol. 1 (review here), late last year.

The band were relatively quiet in 2017 apart from that reissue, so one imagines the new record has been through a wringer of a writing process, and in addition to, you know, actually hearing it, I’ll be interested to find out who recorded/is recording the thing, since so much of the band’s approach comes down to sonic aesthetics and capturing that grainy, classic and threatening sound.

One more to get excited about, and from the looks of the announced European and UK tours, they’ll once again be doing some considerable road time.

From Rise Above‘s social medias:

UK’s scuzziest ambassadors of blood-curdling fuzz, UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS, prepare to hit the roads of mainland Europe and Scandinavia this November/December in support of their much anticipated fifth album, due out this autumn.

Support will come from the mistresses of reverb-soaked garage rock, L.A. WITCH, who will be returning to Europe after their own successful headline tour this March/April.

Uncle Acid and the deadbeats UK tour dates announced. Supported by Blood Ceremony!

Begin: transmission

“These will be our first European shows in two years and we’re hungry to get back out and lay waste to many of our favourite cities. You will enjoy the show experiencing the latest PsychoVision screen technologies with piles of cranked up, ear splitting valve amplification to melt your minds. The nightmare shall resume!”

The specially commissioned artwork for the tour is by legendary Italian poster artist Enzo Sciotti (Fulci, Argento, Romero).

Stay tuned for further tour dates and album release info.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats live w/ L.A. Witch:
15.11 BE Brussels AB
16.11 NL Amsterdam Paradiso Noord
17.11 DE Hamburg Knust
19.11 SE Gothenburg Pustervik
20.11 NO Oslo Rockefeller
21.11 SE Stockholm Nalen
23.11 FI Helsinki Tavastia
25.11 DK Copenhagen Gra Hall
26.11 DE Berlin SO36
27.11 PL Warsaw Hybrydy
28.11 DE Dresden Beatpol
29.11 AT Vienna Arena
01.12 DE Munich Strom
02.12 IT Milan Legend
03.12 FR Villeurbanne Transbordeur
04.12 CH Zurich Dynamo
06.12 DE Karlsruhe Substage
07.12 DE Osnabruck Rosenhof
08.12 DE Koln Luxor
09.12 FR Paris La Maroquinerie

Uncle Acid live w/ Blood Ceremony:
16.01 Leeds Brudenell
17.01 Newcastle O2 Academy 2
18.01 Glasgow G2
19.01 Belfast Limelight 2
20.01 Dublin Academy Green Room
22.01 Manchester Gorilla
23.01 Birmingham O2 Institute 2
24.01 Cardiff The Globe
25.01 London Koko

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

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Melody Lane” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Electric Wizard, Electric Wizard

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Electric Wizard, Electric Wizard (1995)

Yeah, yeah, I know. Dopethrone. Come My Fanatics. Hell, Witchcult Today. I know. In the 30 years that Electric Wizard have been operating going back to guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn founding the Dorset-based outfit as Lord of Putrefaction in 1988 before becoming Thy Grief Eternal a couple years later and ultimately Electric Wizard in 1993, the band has produced a couple genuine classics, and their 1995 self-titled debut, issued as catalog number nine by Lee Dorrian of Cathedral‘s Rise Above Records with the lineup of Oborn, bassist Tim Bagshaw and drummer Mark Greening, generally isn’t considered in the same tier. But I ask you, have human beings ever come closer to capturing the guitar tone of Master of Reality than Oborn does on “Black Butterfly?”

I don’t think I’m taking anything away from the accomplishments of Dopethrone in 2000 or Come My Fanatics… before it in 1997 by pointing out the foundation that the eight-song/47-minute self-titled laid, essentially allowing them to happen. Its arrival in 1995 doesn’t quite put it at the forefront of the mid-’90s stoner rock wave — recall Monster Magnet issued Spine of God in 1991, Sleep unveiled Sleep’s Holy Mountain and Kyuss had their Blues for the Red Sun both in 1992 — and certainly by the time they get down to the central rolling riff of “Electric Wizard,” they seem at least to have been affected somewhat by the rays of Sleep‘s new stoner sun rising, but Electric Wizard‘s Electric Wizard arrived roughly concurrent to Acrimony‘s 1994 debut, Hymns to the Stone, and particularly for a time before the internet went mainstream as a means of sharing music even via word of mouth let alone actual file transfer protocols, it represents a landmark in the development of what would become UK heavy. While it seems relatively simple in aesthetic 23 years later — it is stoned. forever. — its Sabbathian loyalties flew in the face of what was happening at the time. 1995? Sabbath were still three years off from reuniting with Ozzy. They released Forbidden that year; the last installment of the Tony Martin era, and were largely considered a relic. For a group like Electric Wizard to so brazenly take on their early work as a central point of influence, even with groups like the Melvins roaming the earth for however long already, was a decidedly bold statement.

And not only did Electric Wizard transpose this inspiration into a context of the stoner rock of the time, but by doing so, they bridged the gap between that style and classic doom in a way that even Orange Goblin — who got their start as Our Haunted Kingdom in 1994 and would release their debut, Frequencies from Planet Ten, in 1997 — wouldn’t seem interested in directly engaging. To listen to cuts like opener “Stone Magnet” or the suitably lumbering “Behemoth” is to find Electric Wizard‘s self-titled living up to the old adage of proper doom being as much ahead of its time as behind it; timeless by the simple and not-at-all-simple fact of its not fitting its own age. Whether it’s the drifting psych interlude “Mountains of Mars” or the nodder chug and swing of “Mourning Prayer” before it, the brazenness of the approach here not only is what allows the album to function, but it portends the fuckall that would become such a core factor of Electric Wizard‘s aesthetic contribution to doom over the next two-plus decades. Stoned, obsessed with horror, dropped out of life and generally not giving a shit about who knows it — one finds all these aspects at play to some degree throughout “Devil’s Bride,” “Electric Wizard,” “Black Butterfly” and “Mourning Prayer,” and especially given the scope of what Oborn and Electric Wizard would go on to produce in this album’s wake, it seems to me it deserves no less consideration than anything they’ve done in their time together, no matter who’s in the lineup for a given LP.

Of course, they have a new record out in the form of late 2017’s Wizard Bloody Wizard (review here), and I’ve got that in mind as well in thinking about the ongoing impact of this first outing and how their origins have led them to become the band they have. Thinking back across 2014’s Time to Die (review here), 2010’s Black Masses (review here), that lineage seems almost to have been reset by Witchcult Today (discussed here) in 2007 following the somewhat awkward but utterly filthy mid-period releases Let us Prey and We Live in 2002 and 2004, respectively, but even that album drew from the ethic of Electric Wizard in speaking to the groove and malevolent vibing that goes so far in making Electric Wizard‘s riffing seem just that much nastier than the legions they’ve now influenced. No question the self-titled has been overshadowed in the years since its release, but its place in the conversation and in the canon should be assured both by its own merits and by the catalog it began to unfurl, which is one of the richest and most pivotal in the doom of any era.

As always, I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Just came in a bit ago from doing a second round of snow shoveling. Turns out I’m brutally out of shape. Viciously so. Doesn’t help the fact that it’s a foot-plus of densely-packed, heavy snowfall that came down yesterday across the wintry hellscape of January Massachusetts, but yeah, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge there were times in my life when getting rid of it would’ve been way easier. Also I’m old.

Nothing like a solid humbling in the morning to keep the ego in check. Imagine where one might be otherwise.

I’ll go back out in a few minutes and shovel more, spread salt, move the car, etc., but yeah, it was a pretty brutal bit of weather dumped on us yesterday, and today’s supposed to be bitter cold and 50mph wind gusts, which actually makes me more nervous because I have about zero faith in the infrastructure of the electrical grid in this region. Last time a mean breeze blew we were out for like four days. The baby was three days old. He’s over two months now, but when it’s -20 out, that’s also a factor one has to consider. Blah. We’ll figure it out.

Hope you’re warm, wherever you are.

Next week is the Quarterly Review. I’ve set up at this point none of the back end, so I’m a little nervous about how that’s gonna get done, but it will. I’ll be working on it this weekend, to be sure, but it’ll be fine. We’ll get there. As of right now, that’s the only thing planned for the week, so I’m not going to list notes or anything like that, but I might work in a Six Dumb Questions along the way or some video posts or stuff like that with the usual batches of news and so on. There’s a lot to come, and then the entire week after next is already booked with premieres and streams, so there’s that. Keep an eye out.

Please have a great and safe weekend. I’m back out to do more shoveling. I hope you’re enjoying 2018. I know it’s the future and all, but please don’t forget to check out the forum and the radio stream. One more time, thanks for reading.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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