Friday Full-Length: Dio, At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 16th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Just doing myself favors here, really. I was struggling to come up with something to close out the week, and, well, I was at Freak Valley last week and “Holy Diver” was aired between the songs at some point, and that’s about all it takes — and it takes less, actually — to put me in a Dio mindframe. This collection of two aired-on-BBC-I-think full sets from Monsters of Rock in Donington, UK, recorded, as the title suggests, in 1983 after the release of Holy Diver (discussed here) and in 1987 following the fourth album, Dream Evil, and the lineup change that brought Craig Goldy to guitar in place of Vivian Campbell.

The Dio/Campbell schism, happening between the sets on discs 1 and 2 and after the guitarist and vocalist made three landmark records together in Holy Diver, 1984’s The Last in Line (discussed here) or 1985’s Sacred Heart, is essential heavy metal history, as Campbell went on to greater pop success with Def Leppard, and Ronnie James Dio, bassist Jimmy Bain, drummer Vinny Appice and keyboardist Claude Schnell moved somewhat unsteadily into the 1990s, in which the glories of 1983-1986 would prove elusive for records like 1990’s Lock Up the Wolves, the abidingly bleak Strange Highways, which was released in 1994 following Dio‘s reunion with Black Sabbath for the 1992 Dehumanizer (discussed here) LP and tour, and 1996’s Angry Machines.

Those albums have their appeal in the darker atmospheres and harder crunch of their production style, and certainly Dio found new footing as a band later in their studio work, with 2000’s Magica embracing fantasy storytelling in a way that could only be called a fit for Ronnie James Dio‘s style of lyrics, and the final two albums, 2002’s Killing the Dragon and 2004’s Master of the Moon (discussed here), acting as an entryway to a reinvigorated classic metal sound for a new generation of listeners that, I don’t mind saying, included myself. I was not quite yet two years old when the 1983 set was record (and, extrapolating, not quite six four years later), so yeah, I missed it first time through. It’s true: I wasn’t cool enough to listen to Dio in diapers. Behold my great shame.

Alas, if you want to drown any such sorrows or perhaps obliterate them like so much dust blown off by the air moving through gargantuan stacks of public address speakers, At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987 will almost certainly get the job done. Its two sets are heavy metal revelry of the finest order, a fervent charge of triumphant emotion and fist-in-the-air songcraft. Performance-wise, this era of Dio is a significant portion of why he’s considered to have been one of the greatest and most distinct voices in metal of any stripe or microniche, and the band behind him in 1983 delivered with the intensity of purpose that every act working together only gets one shot at: the first impression. Imagine seeing Dio in 1983 and waiting patiently through “Straight Through the Heart” to get to “Children of the Sea.” Play the old stuff! Dude’s touring for his first album. Ha. What a career.

And I guess I’m assuming that career doesn’t need to be recounted here, Ronnie James Dio having moved from fronting teen groups to Elf to Rainbow to Black Sabbath to Dio between about 1967 and 1983, a perioddio at donington uk live 1983 & 1987 of just 16 years that resulted in some of heavy metal and rock’s pinnacle moments, but listening to the 1983 set, the Dio band sound hungry. They play Rainbow‘s “Stargazer” and it’s fast. Tearing into it. “Heaven and Hell” gets the same stretched-out treatment — “…And a big black shape looked down at me…” — that it got when the Dio-fronted incarnation of Black Sabbath played it live (also the band Heaven and Hell a couple decades later) and they even work a minute or so of “Starstruck” into the big finish with “Man on the Silver Mountain.” Dio‘s own material is somewhat frontloaded into the set, with “Stand Up and Shout” and “Straight Through the Heart” opening — the former was the staple opener — and an especially killer “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Holy Diver” on the other side of “Children of the Sea.” After “Holy Diver” it’s all Sabbath and Rainbow, plus drum and guitar solos. That’s the majority of the show.

Dio as an act trying to establish itself.

In 1987, they clearly had done so. The excesses and dragon-slaying of Dio‘s live shows supporting Sacred Heart are well documented, and there are certainly videos and bootlegs out there of the Dream Evil era as well, but the 1987 Donington set tells the story. “Children of the Sea,” “Heaven and Hell” and “Man on the Silver Mountain” still feature as they always would, and “Neon Knights” and “Long Live Rock and Roll” join them, the latter a suitable complement to “Rock and Roll Children” just before it, but the sense of ‘the Dio show’ comes through particularly in relation to just a couple years earlier, when the set was shorter, probably the spot on the bill lower, and the Dio band had less of their own material. In 1987, “All the Fools Sailed Away,” a reprise of “The Last in Line” and “Rainbow in the Dark,” which was a mega-hit, close, and you don’t think twice about it. In 1983, they didn’t even finish with Dio songs.

Both sets are representative, and set alongside each other, they show the progression of Dio as a live act. The 1983 band is rawer, more blunt-force, while in 1987 songs like “Rock and Roll Children” and “Dream Evil,” which leads off, and “All the Fools Sailed Away” offset the tempo thrust of “Neon Knights” and “The Last in Line” taps into a grandeur that sits gorgeously next to a flourish-added “Children of the Sea” and “Holy Diver” and “Heaven and Hell” — a kind of epic quadrilogy tucked into the middle of the set; I have to think that if only those four songs were played as they are here and that was all that was on the disc, no one would’ve been able to complain — and it’s not exactly like “Man on the Silver Mountain,” “All the Fools Sailed Away” or “Rainbow in the Dark” are wanting for scope. Hell, even “Naked in the Rain” gets its due treatment, Goldy shredding a solo right in the middle before they return to the brooding, mid-paced, then-radio-friendly chorus.

What do we learn from At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987? Mostly stuff already known. This was a great band led by a generational talent at what’s widely acknowledged as the peak of their power. That it’s good shouldn’t be a surprise; if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t have been released. Underneath that, consider the growth in presence, in attention to detail — the little flourishes of keyboard and between-song banter; the professionalism of the show; Dio‘s sheer command of his voice on stage and the no-more-hurried-than-they-want-to-be band behind him — the absolute demand for whatever maximum volume you can give it, and just enjoy for what it is. The first of these shows took place 40 summers ago. You and I and everyone we know are part of stories longer than ourselves, these and many others.

Think of that as you break out of this week and into your weekend with horns raised, head banging and feet stomping. Thanks for reading.

Today is The Pecan’s final day of preschool. Pre-K graduation, as it were. She wanted to wear The Patient Mrs.’ graduation cap — “Mommy’s square hat” — but I told her that it’s at Mommy’s work, which I think has the added advantage of being true as well as convenient. She also this afternoon will receive her yellow belt in tae kwon do after a roiling shitshow of a belt test on Tuesday. You’d say it couldn’t have been that bad if she passed, and that’s true, but doesn’t account necessarily for the generosity of apirit on the part of the kind folks at Cho’s Legacy in Morristown. At one point watching I had to get up and leave. Regular class has been a similar wreck. She’s trying, but can’t hold still or really pay attention beyond a certain threshold, and the longer she’s at a thing, the smaller that threshold becomes.

But yes, change is in the air, which itself is nothing new. The Patient Mrs. and I had a meeting yesterday with ‘the team’ at the school where The Pecan will start kindergarten in the Fall, to talk about behavior stuff as well as the issue of gender around which — according to what we hear from the pre-K team at the current school — most behavioral issues are based. I was the only male in the room, and if you’ve never been a guy in that situation, it’s a good experience to not be talked to but to be present. Mom is the automatic key-in for those conversations. It’s not something I take personally at this point, but one does work to make their voice heard, and I did do that, arguing in behalf of taking my child seriously when she asserts she’s a girl because, well, she’s fucking serious about it.

And we’re getting used to the pronoun swap he for she. I cringe when my mother and others get it wrong. It’s amazing how generational the acceptance seems to be. The behaviorist in her 20s didn’t even blink. The school counselor in her 50s tentatively wondered if it was for real and permanent given the mercurial nature of children in general. I said that 99 times out of 100 I might agree but that this is the 100th kid. And even if at some point The Pecan embraces the gender with which she was saddled at birth, which honestly would be unexpected at this point, I would every time err on the side of supporting my kid and hope that the professionals engaged to do likewise actually do. That these things need to be said out loud is emblematic of the primitivism of the times in which we live, but I’ll readily acknowledge it’s a transition for all of us, not just the kid. We’re getting there. We’re doing our best.

Next week is kind of in the air. I had saved spots for Maryland Doom Fest coverage but we’re also having our kitchen floor done and I think next weekend might be my wife’s grandmother’s memorial service, at which I’m delivering the eulogy/readings — my understanding is I’m kind of the MC, so yes I’ll break out the Flava Flav clockchain I keep for these occasions — so yeah, things are open a bit on what’s to come coverage-wise for reviews and whatnot. If I get writeups done for Mammatus and Khanate, well, that would be a win as much in 2023 as in 2007. Funny how time works.

But I’ll figure that shit out, and have two really three bios to work on in the interim. I think much of next week will be spent in Connecticut, but I don’t know when we’ll go or how long we’ll actually stay with The Patient Mrs.’ mother at her beach place, which is always nice, never stress-free, and always nice, in that order. We’re having brunch tomorrow and I think playing Zelda in a group setting, with Slevin, who is a generally wonderful human being. On a personal note, I also haven’t seen yesterday’s season premiere for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and I hope to rectify that as soon as possible.

Whatever you’re up to, I wish you a great and safe weekend. Have fun, hydrate, watch your head, try to enjoy some good music if you can. Remember to breathe, remember to stretch. And thanks for reading.


The Obelisk Collective on Facebook

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

Tags: , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Black Sabbath, Dehumanizer

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Black Sabbath, Dehumanizer (1992)

It’s both funny-ha-ha and funny-strange to think of it now, but Black Sabbath were old men in 1992. Think of what else was going on at the time. Dehumanizer, the band’s first studio full-length with Ronnie James Dio as frontman since 1981’s Mob Rules (discussed here), came out on June 30. On Sept. 24 the year prior, Nirvana released their breakthrough second LP, Nevermind, and in Sept. ’92, Alice in Chains would help solidify what became the “grunge era” along with Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and a 100,000 others who suddenly decided flannel and ripped jeans was a really good idea. Even as its more extreme forms — death, black, even doom if one thinks of it in the Peaceville sense of the word — were beginning to hit their vital prime in the underground, in the commercial sphere, metal was staid and overblown. Would bringing back a singer who’d fronted the band a decade earlier really do any favors for the past-trend Black Sabbath? Hindsight argues yes, it can and did.

Looking back on Dehumanizer some 26 years later, it’s easy to see the effect it had on Black Sabbath in general. They were never going to recapture the groundbreaking moment that was their early years. Simply couldn’t happen. The ’70s were long over, metal had codified into a varied rock and roll subgenre, and the band’s own production value and stylistic drive had shifted — as heard even before they parted ways with original frontman Ozzy Osbourne, let alone got Dio in for the first time on 1980’s landmark, Heaven and Hell (discussed here). What Dehumanizer allowed Black Sabbath — spearheaded as it always was by guitarist Tony Iommi, with co-founder Geezer Butler on bass and returned drummer Vinny Appice — to look back while moving forward. It was the first time they’d done so, and a decent portion of their career to come would be spent in that modus. Long since mature in their approach, Dehumanizer appealed in songs like “Computer God,” “TV Crimes,” “Time Machine” — lest we forget the Wayne’s World soundtrack — and “I” to Black Sabbath‘s established audience. A little older, but still wanting a metallic crunch in their guitars and still ready to groove on an Iommi riff. Dio, who’d spent the 10 years prior fronting his solo band and thereby helping to chart the course of ’80s metal with a string of hits across an essential first three albums-plus, was already the voice of classic metal even as “classic metal” first became a thing. On Dehumanizer, Black Sabbath took these established principles and brought them together with an approach that was modern in its production and presentation, and still allowed for a sense of rawness in the delivery.

That can be heard in the careening verses of “TV Crimes” or in the thudding and rolling highlight “After All (The Dead),” as each black sabbath dehumanizerpunch of snare from Appice seems the punctuation of a stomp Black Sabbath had never before elicited. Melody of course was central, on “After All (The Dead)” and the single “Master of Insanity” as well as “Time Machine” and the later “Sins of the Father” and “I,” but where Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules both seemed to carry over some of Iommi‘s late-’70s progressive aspirations, a decade later, Black Sabbath sounded fully assured of who they were as a unit, knew what their sound was at the time and how to capture it. They’d of course been doing so for years at that point on the 1986 would’ve-been Iommi solo album, Seventh Star and the beginning of the Tony Martin-fronted era in 1987’s The Eternal Idol (discussed here), 1989’s Headless Cross and 1990’s Tyr — all of which followed the Sabbath-meets-DeepPurple experiment that was 1983’s Born Again (discussed here) — and though it’s almost too easy to read this stretch as a descent into mediocrity, it served as a defining moment for Iommi in terms of style. The guitarist who’d helped to create metal learned what metal was during this time and began to find his place in it. His style of riffing became less bluesy, took away some of the progressive edge, and learned that sometimes the raw force of a riff was enough to carry a piece.

Some of that can be heard on Dehumanizer as well, on the brook-no-argument side A with “Computer God” — the lyrics both prescient and quaint over a quarter-century later — and “After All (The Dead),” as well as in the reaches of a less-immediate side B, which is bolstered by “I,” but requires deeper listening to “Too Late” or closer “Buried Alive,” the last of which is anticlimactic on the first impression but unfolds over time to be deceptively memorable. Dehumanizer was never going to be classic Sabbath, and it wasn’t intended to be. It was a pivot that not only helped recapture the mutually-beneficial-if-personally-tumultuous relationship between Iommi and Dio, but gave the band’s mature approach a kick as only the latter could provide. Sure, it was just one record and then Iommi and Butler would be back with Tony Martin and drummer Bobby Rondinelli for 1994’s Cross Purposes — both Butler and Rondinelli would be gone for 1995’s Forbidden — but one has to wonder if the late-’90s reunion with Ozzy, Butler and original drummer Bill Ward would’ve happened in the way it did had Dehumanizer not blazed that trail of getting back together with a former vocalist. Arguably, between touring with Osbourne and reuniting again with Dio in the late ’00s, first as Black Sabbath for new material on the The Dio Years compilation and then as the offshoot unit Heaven and Hell, whose lone studio album, The Devil You Know (review here), came out in 2009.

The death of Ronnie James Dio in 2010 and Tony Iommi‘s battle with cancer — he won, with riffs — seemed to drive Black Sabbath back together minus Bill Ward for the 2013 album, 13 (review here), and subsequent years of (alleged) retirement touring that wrapped with a hometown show in the band’s long-ago hometown of Birmingham, England, last year. A fitting enough end if it really was the end, I suppose. That’s what they called the live album, anyway: The End. Nowhere to go after that except The Epilogue, which would invariably be something of a comedown.

Either way, Black Sabbath remain unparalleled legends in doom, in metal and in the creation of what has come to be known as “heavy” in general. Dehumanizer is one of several outings in their catalog that served as a pivot point as they moved from one era to the next, and though its sound is inevitably a standout from the two original Dio-era albums, it’s a more than worthy addition to that catalog and, of course, essential listening.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Today’s Friday, right? Shit I hope so.

I’m in Massachusetts as of yesterday afternoon, hope to be leaving again as of this afternoon. Here just long enough to take out the recycling and try — probably fail — to obtain a new driver’s license. Yesterday we came up from Connecticut, today we’re going back, and then either Saturday or Sunday, depending largely on the weather and The Pecan — who’s even less predictable at this point — back down to New Jersey for I hope at least a full week. It would be nice to be someplace for a full week.

Not the least because there are no fewer than six shows I want to hit in various spots in the next two weeks. Next Friday, Saturday, Sunday, in order: Sasquatch at Saint Vitus, Backwoods Payback in New London, CT, and Bible of the Devil in Manhattan. Then, the week after: Sleep in Brooklyn, Acid King & Geezer in Brooklyn and Witch Mountain in Brooklyn. I’m thinking of going to all of them and calling it a “weekend warrior special,” but that too will no doubt either happen or not at the behest of the baby. We shall see. Gonna take it one day at a time like the alcoholics.

Seemed like a lot of in-transit this week, but a lot of it was basically just running around from place to place with the baby. It’s been nice out — summer and whatnot — so I’ve been trying to take him outside, let him try to eat grass, stop him immediately, then let him try again, etc. Going for walks and that kind of thing. That’s been facilitated by the fact that I’ve been waking up absurdly early. This morning was 2:40AM, yesterday was later, 3:30, but the two days before were both somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-1:30, so yeah, pretty silly.

I’ve been able mostly to get my shit handled though and then be available to The Patient Mrs. for baby-helpery early in the day, which has been good. Yesterday we all took a walk on the beach together and that was good, and the day before, he and I were out for an hour just basically killing time. Yeah, there’s some element of it that’s counting down to when he goes to bed, but there’s some element of it that’s counting down to when I go to bed too, so fair enough.

Also been singing to him like nonstop. Little known fact that about me that no one cares about but is true anyway is that I’m a huge Beatles fan and I’ve been on something of a kick lately. Three hours in the car stuck in I-95 traffic? No problem when you’ve got a thumb drive filled with the entire catalog plus choice bootlegs set to random. Meandering around the neighborhood for untold amounts of time so The Patient Mrs. can check in on her students for the online class she’s teaching? The mental jukebox was built for these things. “Strawberry Fields,” take 30. It’s fun to pretend I’m not completely tone deaf, which, sadly, I am.

Distractions abound this morning, but before I go, of course, next week’s notes. Being home, my PhotoShop installation disc is handy, so I just loaded that onto The Silver Fox and I’ll be using it to make a Quarterly Review banner. Then it’s onto the 50-record madness throughout the next week. I’ll likely have fewer posts overall — going to try to keep it to three a day if I’ll actually let myself do so — but we’re at the moment of a great girding of loins. Tomorrow I build back ends and start writing. From there, all hell breaks loose. I expect by next Friday I’ll really, really want to get out to a show, which is fine because I hear there are a few happening.

Thunderbird Divine also play Ode to Doom in Manhattan next Wednesday. Dare I? We’ll see.

In the meantime, here are the notes, subject to change blah blah blah:

Mon.: Quarterly Review day 1; Saint Karloff track premiere.
Tue.: QR2; Electric Citizen track premiere.
Wed.: QR3; Gorm track premiere.
Thu.: QR4; Saturnia video.
Fri.: QR5; Atavismo full album stream.

Woof. I’m exhausted already.

Okay, let me get out of here and see if I can sneak a minute or two of back-end work before the day starts. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Thanks for reading and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

Tags: , , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Rainbow, Rising

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Rainbow, Rising (1976)

Listening to the searing precision in Ritchie Blackmore‘s guitar, Ronnie James Dio‘s soaring voice, the powerful rhythmic thrust of Jimmy Bain on bass and Cozy Powell on drums and the grandiose flourish of Tony Carey‘s keys, Rainbow Rising sure sounds like the moment when heavy rock became heavy metal. Narratives are never so cut and dry, but this was an important transitional moment. Gone was psychedelia unless you were Hawkwind, and even heavy rock was fading out in favor of the nascent punk movement. Rainbow made their debut in 1975 with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (discussed here), and even between that album and this follow-up that arrived a year later on Polydor Records with the revamped lineup around Blackmore and Dio, one can hear that transition taking place. To boil it down to a track? Think of “Starstruck” on Rising and “Man on the Silver Mountain” from the preceding record. The two share a lot in common — big hook, big groove, etc. — but “Starstruck” is leaner, tighter, and true to the hard-clenched fist on the iconic Ken Kelly cover art, more aggressive. Both LPs were produced at least in part by Martin Birch, who would also work on 1978’s Long Live Rock and Roll, and it really does seem to have been a shift in vision (or at least a move closer to an initial vision) on the part of Blackmore driving the evolution of the band in this direction.

As to where Rising ultimately fits in the pantheon of heavy rock/metal, I don’t think there’s any question it’s one of the greatest albums ever released. From the opening charge of “Tarot Woman” with Carey‘s clarion keyboard intro to the swaggering crotch-thrust of “Run with the Wolf” down to the two side B epics, “Stargazer” — a blueprint that Dio would follow for the rest of his career as heavy metal’s greatest frontman in Black Sabbath and especially his own Dio band — and closer “Light in the Black,” it is a close-to-perfect execution of early metal. Yes, Sabbath, Zeppelin and Blue Cheer, Cream and Hendrix before them laid out the foundation — not to mention Blackmore‘s own work in Mk. II Deep Purple — but even in the three-minute bass-led stomp of “Do You Close Your Eyes” one can hear Rainbow splintering away from the bluesy vibe on which heavy rock was founded and toward a graceful execution that over the next couple years would continue to take shape as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Again, narratives are never so cut and dry, and lest we forget that Judas Priest also issued Sad Wings of Destiny in 1976, that Sabbath were still roaming the countryside and that soon enough the willfully-ungraceful Motörhead would kick dirt in everybody‘s face with the raw power of their execution and volume, but Rising is nonetheless a pivotal document without which the NWOBHM and the formative work of bands like Iron MaidenAngel Witch and Saxon simply wouldn’t have existed in the shape it did. Of course, by the time those acts came around, Rainbow would be onto exercising different influences toward a more commercialized sound — they never put out two records with the same lineup — but that doesn’t change how essential a moment Rising continues to represent. Hell, listen to the guitar, bass and drum gallop at the start of “Light in the Black.” It’s the roots of thrash spreading out. Rainbow may have been deeply (and purply!) informed by the heavy rock of the earlier portion of the ’70s, but Rising was when they took that and remade it in their image, and 41 years after the fact, its ongoing relevance is inarguable.

Powell and Carey would stick around for Long Live Rock and Roll, but Bain was out — a mistake on Blackmore‘s part not keeping this band together — and replaced by Bob Daisley, and that 1978 final installment in their initial trilogy would also mark the final collaboration between Blackmore and Dio, whose styles were complementary in a manner few guitarists and vocalists have ever been. Dio, who had come from boogie rockers Elf at just the right moment to catch hold of Blackmore‘s attention when he was disaffected by where Deep Purple were headed, went on to proffer further metal majesties in Black Sabbath and, from 1983 until his passing in May 2010, he’d work with the Dio band to inscribe a singular legacy — his periodic returns to Sabbath and later Heaven and Hell didn’t hurt either. Rainbow continued on with Down to Earth in 1979, Blackmore bringing in frontman Graham Bonnet and following a tumultuous course of change through the middle of the ’80s before being put to rest for the next decade. Blackmore, having reunited and split again with Deep Purple, did another run with Rainbow before founding the Renaissance-themed Blackmore’s Night, and in 2015 resurrected the band again for limited shows, swearing off the possibility of new material as he had once sworn off playing rock and roll entirely. They have live dates booked for June in the UK.

Whatever may or may not come of that, Rainbow‘s Rising stands among the most classic of classics. One could and probably should and probably somewhere in the world — looking at you, Britain — does teach a two-semester college course on everything this incarnation of the group had to offer, and it’s my sincere hope you’ve enjoyed the chance to revisit their work.

Thanks for reading.

Working late today. Speaking of mistakes. I had to miss some time earlier this week picking up The Patient Mrs. at the airport as she was returning from a conference in Texas, so decided it was best if I stick around the office for a few extra hours to make up the time. It was, of course, the wrong decision, but it’s quiet here after everyone leaves and if you actually have work to do, easy enough to get it done. The question is “if,” but I always manage to find a way to keep myself busy.

Hope you had a good week. As I think I noted last Friday or maybe the Friday before, I’ve been dealing with some uptick in my general level of anxiety lately. Part of it is the precariousness of my work situation — I’m on a year-long contract that expires in June that may or may not be picked up for permanent hire. Part of it is probably related to my food intake — I don’t eat much these days that isn’t either salad or protein powder/bar-based. And part of it is “other,” but “other” of some substance. I’m healthy, at least physically.

Probably healthier than I’ve ever been, if one wants to go by the totally fucked way in which those things are generally measured. But yes, very anxious. I’ve made a mantra of “It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay” that I repeat to myself on the regular, to varying effectiveness. I’d like to go to a doctor and get some of those chill-the-fuck-out pills I keep hearing such good things about, to help carry me over for a little bit as other medication has in the past for depressive issues. Never a permanent solution, but something to get you over a hump when you need it. I feel like I might need it, and I think The Patient Mrs. would agree, going by her nigh-on-frantic search to find me a new primary care physician, which I haven’t really had since we moved north from New Jersey three years ago. Every doctor I’ve been to up north, on one level or another, has pretty much been an asshole. The guy who took care of my foot at least got the job as “done” as it was going to get, but he did so while hitting on my wife, so yeah, still counts as asshole.

At least baseball’s back on.

Next week is frickin’ packed. Embarrassingly so. Still some stuff to shake out, but here’s what’s in the notes as of now:

Mon.: Review of the new Solace tape, video from Black Mirrors, news on Freak Valley, My Dying Bride and more.
Tue.: Maybe a Mothership review/track premiere, otherwise a Death Alley review, plus new Shadow Witch video, news, etc.
Wed.: Review/track premiere for the new Wounded Giant, video from Six Organs of Admittance.
Thu.: Review/track premiere from Green Meteor, video from Dandy Brown, announcement from No Man’s Valley.
Fri.: Review/premiere for the new The Devil and the Almighty Blues, plus whatever else comes down the wire between now and then.

As I said, packed.

I’ve also slated the Quarterly Review for the end of this month. It’ll run the week of March 27 through March 31. I might add a sixth day again, depending on what comes together, but I’ve already had it in the planning stage since the start of February, so yeah, it’s well in motion. Lot of good stuff in there, and I’ll have another batch of Radio Adds before then as well.

Speaking of the Radio: it’s been on the backup drive all week, as you may or (more likely) may not have noticed. The Raspberry Pi that hosts the main server shit the bed and with work I just haven’t had time to reinstall the operating system as I need to do. It’s on my weekend agenda, but so is traveling to Connecticut for The Patient Mrs.‘ mom’s birthday dinner on Saturday, so it’ll very likely be Sunday before I get there. And then at least three more days to deal with how terribly I will have invariably fucked it up. Ah, the gently correcting tones of Slevin. I can hear them now as he directs to insert the SD card facing the right way, no doubt for a second, then a third time.

Thanks for reading. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. From the lonely, empty office in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, I’m signing off. See you back here Monday for more good times, and in the interim, please check out the forum and (backup) radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 4th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell (1980)

I just wanted to end this week with an album I love. On a high note, maybe, but even more than that, just something that I can’t see being the person I am without. So here we go, Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell. It’s not a record I can claim to be Johnny Groundfloor on — it came out a year before I was born — but it has touched me profoundly over the years and I’ve gone back to it over time the way you do to things when they become a part of who you are. It’s been a while since last I made my way through, and I’ve missed it. Fucking “Children of the Sea.”

Yeah, you can go ahead and argue in favor of Ozzy-fronted Sabbath. I don’t even necessarily disagree. The way I see it, Master of Reality is just about the best heavy album ever made. It’s apples and oranges — or for a comparison of two even more disparate things — Ozzy and Dio. I’m glad both exist, I’m glad Geezer Butler played in both and I’m happy to leave it at that.

What a week. If I was drinking, I’d already be drunk. I was out this afternoon to meet with a guy from the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center to explore funding options for buying a bar. It went like this: “Uh, I see here you’re poor. There’s no funding for poor people.” I’m not out yet, though that was a fun hit to take. Then I went to the grocery store and had — not one, but two! — debit cards declined. I was doing a pretty good job on the maintaining thing, keeping my head together, but then it was time to break out Heaven and Hell, which is right up there in my book with watching Futurama in the dark.

Normally — though using such a word feels like a perversion of the concept — I’d probably follow up the one (Heaven and Hell) with the other (Futurama in the dark), but instead of sitting on my ass and wallowing in the waste of space and precious oxygen I’ve let myself become, I’m going out tonight. Gonna go catch Cortez and Pants Exploder at Radio in Somerville, then tomorrow there’s an early show for Esoteric and I might just hit that too, because fuck it, music’s still good.

There was a lot this week I didn’t get to post. In addition to reviews for one or both of the shows above, look for reviews to come of The Freeks and Mos Generator, an interview one way or another with Dave Wyndorf of Monster Magnet and some new audio from Supervoid. So there’s a lot as ever. I’ve got some work-type work to finish up, so I’m going to get through that while Heaven and Hell rounds out and then have a bite to eat before I head to Radio for that show. If you’re going, I hope I’ll see you there.

And even if not, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. If you get the chance, please hit up the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

Tags: , , , ,

Ronnie James Dio — Three Years Ago Today

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 16th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I just wanted to take a minute to mark out three full years since the passing of Ronnie James Dio. Short of thinking of every scumbag motherfucker still roaming the earth while he’s not and making myself angry, I’d rather not get lost in memorializing — everything’s been said and by people with better sentence structures than mine — but if heavy metal has a hall of immortals it’s only because Ronnie James Dio built it from the ground up. He remains, and will remain, much missed.

This clip of Dehumanizer-era Sabbath doing “Children of the Sea” is one of literally thousands out there, and if you find yourself lost among them and exploring one into the next into the next, I’m sure there are worse ways you could spend that time. Ronnie James Dio, 1942-2010.

Black Sabbath,”Children of the Sea” Live in Rio de Janeiro, 1992

Tags: , , ,

Two Years Ago Today

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

See how he shines?It’s funny. I was looking for a photo to go with this post to mark the two-year anniversary of the death of Ronnie James Dio, and I saw the above picture and was like, “Wow, that’s amazing!” Sure enough, it’s the same one I used last year on this date. At least I’m consistent.

Still much missed, and as I watch Black Sabbath fumble and engage in contractual disputes and don’t hear anything about Tony Iommi‘s own bout with cancer (though they’ve scheduled more shows, and I guess that’s something), all the more so. I don’t want to dwell, so here’s a clip from 1984 of the band Dio doing “The Last in Line” at the Spectrum in Philly that says it better than I ever could anyway:

Tags: , ,

One Year Ago Today.

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Ronnie James Dio, July 10, 1942-May 16, 2010

Rockin’ this again today in your honor. Hard to believe a year went so quick, but I guess that’s what years do.

Tags: , ,

auDIObelisk: Dragons, Demons and Horns: A Special Dio Salute

Posted in audiObelisk on May 17th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

NOTE: This post is going to stay here for a little bit. New ones will appear underneath.

Look. I didn’t know what else to do. I’ll still have a regular May podcast either this week or next, but in honor of the life and career of Ronnie James Dio, I made this too. I didn’t number it because it’s not a regular podcast, and I just thought maybe some of you would get some comfort in listening. It’s 25 songs, two hours long. You can get the file here, click the image above, or stream it below:


There are some cuts you don’t get on the “greatest hits” stuff that I hope other fans will dig as much as I do. I know this isn’t the kind of thing The Obelisk usually covers, but Dio‘s work meant a lot to me over the years, and if you’re complaining, you’re an asshole.

Apologies for the downtime today and yesterday. Yahoo is fucked, but everything should be back to normal now (if not, please let me know). I’ll do my best to pick up with regular posting tomorrow, but no promises.

Track list for the Dio-cast is after the jump. I hope you enjoy it.

Read more »

Tags: , , ,