Thunderbird Divine Premiere Title-Track from The Hand of Man EP

Posted in audiObelisk on March 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

thunderbird divine

Psychedelphia four-piece Thunderbird Divine release their new EP, The Hand of Man, on March 28 through Salt of the Earth Records. It’s only three tracks and about 12 minutes long, but The Hand of Man works quickly to blow the roof off of where Thunderbird Divine were early last year when they made their full-length debut with the rousing Magnasonic (review here), with the three-and-a-half-minute opening title-track throwing its Fu Manchu-style fuzz and riff-worth-remembering out the airlock into an open space of guest organ and backing vocal arrangements in preparation for the Monster Magnetism of the ensuing six-minute centerpiece “Boote’s Void,” a triumph and moment of arrival certainly for bassist Adam Scott if not the rest of the band — though also definitely the rest of the band, as the guitars of Flynn Lawrence (also sitar; yup) and Erik Caplan (also vocals, lap steel, theremin, etc.) grow richer in tone with the surrounding keys and drummer Mike Stuart shows his style as malleable either to the swing of “The Hand of Man” and the roll of “Boote’s Void” as well as the move over to percussion alongside Caplan for the psych-bluesy instrumental finale “’88 Testadoon,” a hypnotic instrumental that one only wishes jammed on for about nine minutes instead of the two it does.

Run-on sentence much? Hell yes, but The Hand of Man functions that way as well, with one piece moving fluidly into the next and into the last, the songs building off each other along the way. Granted, “’88 Testadoon” is something of an epilogue, but eventhunderbird divine the hand of man that brings a sense of patience and atmosphere to the proceedings that bolster the whole outing and broaden the band’s sound overall. Magnasonic showcased no lack of potential on the part of the former Wizard Eye and Skeleton Hands members, who also recently took on The Yardbirds‘ “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” — which one only hopes will see a physical pressing of one sort or another soon — and The Hand of Man finds them working quickly to fulfill that potential casting a melodic swirl in “The Hand of Man” made stronger through the backing vocals of Brittany Marie and Avalicious and the keys of Charles Newman. Hate to say it — actually I don’t — but Thunderbird Divine might end up having to play shows as The Thunderbird Divine All-Stars if this keeps up, because what they’re doing here really, really works, right up to Caplan channeling his inner Dave Wyndorf as the deceptively patient cosmic unfurling of “Boote’s Void” takes place before the harder fuzz kicks in, righteous and spaced and soulful in likewise expanding measure.

That’s always the question though with a release like The Hand of Man — perhaps even more so as it’s coming after Thunderbird Divine‘s debut album — in terms of how indicative it is of their sound moving forward versus is it a one-off, the band trying an experiment that just happens to work exceedingly well. Hell if I know. Maybe they don’t either. What’s exciting about The Hand of Man though, aside from the material itself, which is electrified in any number of figurative senses, is that it makes Thunderbird Divine a less predictable band on the whole. Going into their inevitable second album, whenever it might arrive — shit, the sooner the better — I feel like I have less of a grasp after listening to these three songs on what to expect for a follow-up to Magnasonic than I did before the EP came along, and that is invariably a good thing. Whether they continue to build on the fluidity as presented here in a style that, were it not so short, would definitely be album-ish, or push into something rawer in terms of arrangement or again decide to take an unanticipated direction, they’re very quickly beginning to earn a basic level of trust that they can carry their songwriting through any number of diverse applications. Dudes have it down, is what I’m saying. Let the nonsense move you, because the nonsense is awesome.

The Hand of Man was recorded at Retro City Studios in Philly and Cottage Sounds Unlimited in Brooklyn. You can stream the premiere of the title-track below, followed by a quote from Caplan on the making of the song, that Yardbirds cover, and a trailer for an upcoming recording documentary on the making of the EP.

Please enjoy:

Erik Caplan on “The Hand of Man”:

This track started as a riff that existed before I joined up with these dudes back in 2017. Flynn is a masterful riffologist, and this one has a lovely swagger. We previously tried to cram this riff into a bunch of other song structures, and none of them were quite right. Eventually we realized we needed to let it breathe, and it developed an identity of its own. After that, the song grew naturally into its final form. I love Mike’s break before the bridge. It’s a small moment, but it feels very natural. We wanted it to be a banger, but we also wanted it to have a foreboding, scattered feeling as an overtone to the groove in the bridge.

Basic tracking took place at Retro City Studios in Philadelphia, where we nailed down the essence of the song, my main vocals and all of the backing vocal arrangements. Picture me acting as a lunatic choir director from behind a baby grand piano as the ladies (Avy and Brittany) attempted to decipher my conducting for the backing vocals… it was pretty amusing.

Joe Boldizar and the crew at Retro City got excellent, organic sounds for us in the main tracking phase. Adam and I then took the track to Cottage Sounds Unlimited in Brooklyn to add the Wurlitzer, B3 Organ and lap steel guitar. Charles Newman is a talented musician, and keys are a specialty for him. He interpreted our (admittedly offbeat) sonic requests brilliantly. When we brought the tracks back to Retro City for mixing, Joe sort of instinctively knew what we wanted. It was a very smooth process overall.

The lyrics are my musings about a documentary called Discovering Bigfoot. The filmmaker, Todd Standing, put a lot of time and effort into making this sort of visual poem for the Bigfoot population he clearly loves and respects. I’m not saying his research is flawed or anything like that, but his approach was certainly a little unconventional, as I suppose it should be, considering the subject matter. I’m not sure he proved his thesis by making this film, but he succeeded in providing entertainment.

Thunderbird Divine “Hand Of Man”
Available @ www.SaltOfTheEarthRecords.com

Thunderbird Divine is
Erik Caplan: electric guitars, vocals, theremin, lap steel guitar, percussion, vocal arrangements
Flynn Lawrence: electric guitars, electric sitar
Mike Stuart: drums, percussion
Adam Scott: bass, synth, 3-string strum stick, percussion

With
Brittany Marie and Avalicious: backing vocals
(Additional backing vocal arrangement by Brittany Marie on “Boote’s Void”)
Mike Scarpone: djembe on “Boote’s Void”
Charles Newman: keys, synths on “Hand of Man” and “Boote’s Void”

Thunderbird Divine, The Hand of Man recording documentary trailer

Thunderbird Divine, “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”

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Thunderbird Divine Stream Yardbirds Cover; The Hand of Man EP out March 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

thunderbird divine

Somewhat unexpected but most definitely welcome news out of Philly in that Thunderbird Divine have a new EP on the way following up on their righteous 2019 debut, Magnasonic (review here), and further, that they’re already streaming a new single as a precursor to that. If there’s anything I enjoy, it’s not waiting for new music. The track they’ve got posted now is a Yardbirds cover “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago,” which they nonetheless manage to make sound like it comes from the future, and the upcoming three-songer is called The Hand of Man. It’ll be out through Salt of the Earth Records on March 28. Preorders are up now, and you should do that.

Thunderbird Divine have a gig booked around the release and they’ll be at Maryland Doom Fest 2020 as well. More info follows here, courtesy of the PR wire:

thunderbird divine the hand of man

Philly’s Space Hippies THUNDERBIRD DIVINE Set To Release ‘The Hand Of Man’ 3-Song Single on Salt Of The Earth Records!

Psychedelic Rock Collective THUNDERBIRD DIVINE shares their tribute to The Yardbirds’ “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” ahead of the upcoming release of a three-song single ‘The Hand of Man’.

The Philadelphia-based space hippies of THUNDERBIRD DIVINE will put forth their second release, ‘The Hand of Man,’ on March 28th via Salt of the Earth Records, alongside a documentary of the recording sessions.

“We absolutely loved what Thunderbird Divine did with Magnasonic, and The Hand of Man just keeps the ball rolling,” says Scott Harrington, president of Salt of the Earth Records. “These guys are at the top of their game when it comes to songwriting and arrangements.”

A companion recording, a cover of The Yardbirds’ “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” is presented here in video format and will be available for free download via the band’s Bandcamp site. “We tracked and mixed that one ourselves,” says guitarist / vocalist / multi-instrumentalist Erik Caplan. “We relate to The Yardbirds more and more as we continue writing. That band was stuck between being known as bluesy rock act and a progenitor of psychedelia and studio experimentation. This cover is a tribute to their brilliant work.”

Primary tracking for the three-song ‘The Hand of Man’ single was done at Philadelphia’s Retro City Studios, with Joe Boldizar handling most of the engineering duties. Additional layers were added at Brooklyn’s Cottage Sounds Unlimited, with Charles Newman providing his prowess on various synths and keys. “Working with the guys was a total pleasure,” says Boldizar. “They showed just the right amount of focus and did some fun experimenting with the tracks.”

‘The Hand Of Man’ Tracklist:
01. The Hand of Man
02. Boote’s Void
03. ’88 Testadoon

This release finds the band committed to its rock and psychedelic roots with a less densely embroidered approach to layering and instrumentation.

“For ‘Magnasonic’, we really went all out in the tracking process, just creating several sonically nuanced elements in every track,” Caplan says. “We built those layers in the studio as we worked. For ‘The Hand of Man’ sessions, our orchestration and instrumentation, from the ladies singing backups and the electric sitar, to the Wurlitzer organ, was fully realized before we set foot in the studio.” The result is a focused, streamlined trio of songs true to the band’s love of both riff-rock and trippy experimentation.

This theme follows through the release’s visual elements, as well. “For this recording’s artwork, I started with a synthetic cubist design and built elements out from there,” says bassist / multi-instrumentalist / art designer Adam Scott. “I intentionally departed from the vibrant color palette used on ‘Magnasonic’ and focused more on layers and space.”

Additionally, THUNDERBIRD DIVINE will make available a 17-minute visual record of its recording process in the form of a documentary compiled by close band friend and fellow musician, Jamie Victor. “I love the guys, love the band and love making videos,” Victor explains. “It all lined up. I consider these guys family, so it was my pleasure to make this for them. They didn’t even know I was going to do it.”

‘The Hand Of Man’ is available March 28th. Pre-order now:
Digital: https://thunderbirddivine.bandcamp.com/album/the-hand-of-man
CD: https://saltoftheearthrecords.com/product/548953

Upcoming Live Dates:
Mar. 28 – Philadelphia, PA @ Ortlieb’s
Jun. 18-21 – Frederick, MD @ The Maryland Doom Fest 2020

Performed by
Erik Caplan: electric guitars, vocals, theremin, lap steel guitar, percussion, vocal arrangements
Flynn Lawrence: electric guitars, electric sitar
Mike Stuart: drums, percussion
Adam Scott: bass, synth, 3-string strum stick, percussion

With
Brittany Marie and Avalicious: backing vocals
(Additional backing vocal arrangement by Brittany Marie on “Boote’s Void”)
Mike Scarpone: djembe on “Boote’s Void”
Charles Newman: keys, synths on “Hand of Man” and “Boote’s Void”

https://www.facebook.com/thunderbirddivine
https://www.instagram.com/thunderbird_divine/
https://thunderbirddivine.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec/
www.SaltOfTheEarthRecords.com

Thunderbird Divine, “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”

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Review & Track Premiere: Scissorfight, Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Scissorfight Doomus Abruptus Vol 1

[Click play above to stream ‘Where Eagles Drink’ from Scissorfight’s new album, Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1. Album is out Dec. 6 through Salt of the Earth Records with preorders here.]

From some bands, a line like, “Shut up and watch the flame get higher,” might be a pithy social commentary or a statement of humanity’s inaction to avert climate catastrophe. In Scissorfight‘s “Caveman Television,” rest assured, it’s about people who talk too much around a campfire. Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 is the seventh full-length from the just-came-from-the-forest-already-drunk-and-looking-to-fight New Hampshire four-piece, and a landmark for the simple fact of its existence.

It arrives some 13 years after their last album, Jaggernaut, and some 18 after their arguable pinnacle in 2001’s Mantrapping for Sport and Profit (discussed here) — there were several short releases between those two as well, including splits with Cave In and Pelican and three other EPs: Potential New Agent for Unconventional Warfare (2002), Deathchants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes Vol. 2 (2003) and Victory over Horseshit (2005) — and follows a 2016 revamping of the band that included founding bassist Paul Jarvis and founding guitarist Jay Fortin extending the group’s by-then-legendary fuckall-and-fuck-off attitude to recruiting a new vocalist and drummer to round out the lineup.

Issued through Salt of the Earth Records, the 2016 comeback EP, Chaos County (review here), tested the waters and found them mercifully free of giardia (look it up), and the band’s positive response extended to the live arena as well, with Doug Aubin‘s formidable presence as a frontman and Rick Orcutt‘s work behind the kit helping propel them to Europe as well as through regional shows around New England — their long-established stomping ground.

Particularly after Chaos County, a full-length was an inevitable next step, and Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 (also on Salt of the Earth) brings the AubinFortinJarvis, and Orcutt incarnation of Scissorfight to a new level in reestablishing the band’s approach. It’s got nine tracks and an LP-ready 39-minute run. Its songs are tight in structure and swing like a right arm throwing a suckerpunch, and they’re heavy like, well, like fucking Scissorfight are heavy. There’s no mistaking that sound.

In some ways, it’ll be the next album that tells the tale of their return as a working band rather than one making a comeback, but if I call Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 business as usual for Scissorfight, I only mean it as a compliment. Whether it’s the woodsy sounds starting “Caveman Television” at the outset, or the anthemic “Rock and/or Die” playing off the Granite State motto “Live free or die,” or centerpiece “Where Eagles Drink” entering direct conversation with “Blizzards Buzzards Bastards” and “New Hampshire’s Alright if You Like Fighting” from the aforementioned 2001 album while laying the band’s ethic out in admirably plain language for the chorus: “Born on a mountain/Raised in a cave/Drinkin’ and fightin’/All I crave.”

scissorfight

Theirs is a battery of downtuned stomp and aggro burl, and they’ve always done it at their own level. Subtly clever and unsubtle in shoving you down a rhythmic flight of stairs, tying itself to the wooded northern Appalachians of their home with New England’s we-get-two-weeks-of-summer high altitude bad attitude, Scissorfight willfully and defiantly retain their core elements on Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1. That is, while the EP proved it could be done, this is the point at which Scissorfight say with no equivocation they are Scissorfight and, true to character, they don’t give a shit if you’re along for it, the ride’s going either way.

The all-out headspin of second cut “Dumpfight” is a raw punk-derived slammer in its first half, and when it breaks at about two minutes in, Aubin warns of the riff that follows, “Oh shit. Here it comes.” Thanks for the heads up. The image of collecting a swollen jaw is inescapable as the salvo that began with “Caveman Television” continues through “Dumpfight” and into “Coagulus” and “Rock and/or Die” as the record heads through a midsection that would be a beer gut were it not still so able to move.

While there’s little loss of momentum as “Coagulus” makes a grower hook of the line, “All in the name of the hunt” and its title in telling tales of bear traps and other foresty threats, “Rock and/or Die” is singularly catchy and outdone only by the subsequent “Where Eagles Drink,” with its made-for-the-stage call and response in the verse — not the only one on the record, but still a standout — though even “Piss in the Wind”‘s chorus is a masterclass in how to craft fare for drunken singalongs.

The back third of Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 — let’s just call it the “ass-end” to keep with the mood of the release — is comprised of three final songs between five and six minutes long. With acoustic twang, “The Battle of (Mudhole Mountain)” leads off this final turn, followed by the fuzz-bass led post-industrial ode to the Merrimack Valley “Lead Venom” and closer “Whatcha Get,” which actually pulls back on some of the immediacy that’s been so prevalent throughout Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 at its outset, but is soon enough given over to the sharpest-edged riff of the album and a chorus that feels especially pointed in remarking “That’s whatcha get for saying ‘never again’.”

And I guess that’s really the core of what the album is all about. From a certain distance, one has to chuckle at the ballsiness in a band releasing their first record in over a decade and including “abrupt” in the name of it, but ballsy is what Scissorfight do and, to one degree or another, have always done, so it’s fitting in that regard if no other. They end with more noise from the woods to leave off with a sense of completion, and while inevitably the conversation around Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 is still the fact that their lineup has changed, that feeling of being complete is no minor consideration, and it extends to the band itself.

Once again in keeping with the spirit of the album and Scissorfight generally, I’ll say it as plain as I can: I was a fan of Scissorfight with Iron Lung up front. Like, a big fan. Those old records are earthshakers and I wouldn’t tell you otherwise. I don’t know what the impact of Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 will be, how far it will reach or what the overall reception will be, but if you’ve ever been on board with Scissorfight, and you can’t get on board with this, it isn’t their fault.

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Via Vengeance Premiere “Haunt” Video; Diestractions from the Truth Preorders Available Today

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

via vengeance
Next time you want to piss off your autocorrect, try sending a text about the new Via Vengeance record, which has been dubbed Diestractions from the Truth and is due out Nov. 15 through Salt of the Earth Records. Preorders are open as of noon Eastern today from the label, and to mark the occasion, Shane Ocell, who comprises the entirety of the lineup, has a new video premiering for “Haunt,” which is also the first audio to be made public from the album. The title, carrying that implication likening distractions and death, isn’t the first instance of Ocell (who also drums for Sorxe) using that particular wordplay; Via Vengeance‘s 2007 debut, Dieography, was the project’s only release until 2016’s also-aptly-named Harsh Conditions, which, rest assured, had its own body count going by the time it got to closer “In the End Nothing Goes to Waste.” Fair enough. I don’t think you start a one-man sludge band unless you have a few things to get off your chest.

And Via Vengeance is a solo outfit in the truest sense. I’ve never seen him live, but by all accounts, Ocell handles via vengeance bannerit all on stage, drums, vocals, guitar, and the ethic would seem to extend to the studio as well. Can you hear the difference on a recording? I don’t know. What would “Haunt” sound like with a full band instead of one person doing it all? Maybe it’d be a huge difference. Maybe it’d be no different at all. Point is he’s doing it, so that’s what you get live and on the LP.

You can see a bit of it in the video — or at least the second half of it. For the first minute-plus, Ocell toys with the notion of there being multiple members of the band, wearing a couple different disguises as he separately plays drums and guitar and sings. The swap happens at 1:23 and for the rest of the 3:14 clip you can see Ocell holding a drum stick in between his ring finger and pinky while strumming his guitar to the rhythm of his own making and yelling out verse lines to top the march. As compared to Harsh Conditions, there’s a general uptick in production value and his shouts seem more noise rock than the gutturalism of the last album, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect “Haunt” to speak for the entirety of Diestractions from the Truth either, though I won’t argue with the first impression it makes.

Premiere is below, followed by the preorder link.

Enjoy:

Via Vengeance, “Haunt” official video premiere

VIA VENGEANCE
“Diestractions From The Truth”
(VINYL / CD / Digital Download)
Release Date: 11/15/19

Preorders Start Today!!
**Friday (10/18) @ 12 PM (Eastern)**
www.SaltOfTheEarthRecords.com

From the deepest recesses and abstract corners of Shane Ocell’s (Sorxe) mind comes A one man juggernaut of unbridled heaviness…prepare to have your senses altered as the bar of creativity is raised to new heights. This is audio warfare.

The unrelenting Phoenix AZ based Sludge band known as VIA VENGEANCE was formed in 2006 by Shane Ocell with exploring the concept of being a one-man Sludge band being the ultimate mission… And he has been crushing solo ever since.

VIA VENGEANCE use no loops and Shane records all his tracks while playing both guitar and drums simultaneously. Combining both a finesse and a reckless audio abandon that must be heard, and felt to truly appreciate.

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Scissorfight Open Preorders for Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1; Playing Stoned to Death 4

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

scissorfight

Welp, if fuckin’ Scissorfight are doing anything, you know there’s gonna be trouble. The fabled Granite State Destroyers have titled their new album, Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1, and you know, seeing as it’s their first full-length in 13 years, calling it ‘Vol. 1′ — as if to imply there’s a follow-up coming any minute now — feels pretty ambitious. Being somewhat familiar with fuckin’ Scissorfight, however, I’m inclined to think that’s the joke. Either way, Salt of the Earth Records has the release out Dec. 6 and preorders have been up for the better part of a month, but frankly, I was waiting to write about it until I actually heard the thing — I can be kind of a stickler that way sometimes — and now that I have, well, let’s just say I’m gonna have a hard time ever writing the word band’s name without the word “fuckin'” in front of it again.

Because fuckin’ Scissorfight.

I’ve locked in a premiere for the opening track sometime in I guess the next month and a half, so stay tuned for that, and if you’re in the band’s native New England region, which they stalk like the low-toned collective mountain skunk ape that they are, they’ll play Stoned to Death 4 next weekend in Vermont and they’ve got release shows in New Hampshire and a gig in Maine. If you live south of Massachusetts, basically you’re fucked. I bet they could tour Europe though if they wanted. Just saying.

No music from Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 yet, but like I said, keep an eye out. Fuckin’ Scissorfight. Apparently this is their first album on vinyl. Who the hell knew?

Here’s info from the band and Salt of the Earth:

Scissorfight Doomus Abruptus Vol 1

IT IS FINALLY TIME. Decades in the making… The FIRST Scissorfight album to be released on vinyl is upon us!

Preorders start Friday 9/27 Release Date: Friday 12/06

-SCISSORFIGHT “Doomus Abruptus Vol 1” Extremely Limited Edition Hand Numbered Autographed Test Pressings Only (15) Available. Own some history. -$50
-SCISSORFIGHT “Doomus Abruptus Vol 1” -Black Vinyl (Blue Collar Edition)- -$25
-SCISSORFIGHT “Doomus Abruptus Vol 1” Digipak CD -$12

Preorder at: https://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com/music

Track Listing:
Caveman Television
Dumpfight
Coagulus
Rock And/Or Die
Where Eagles Drink
Piss In The Wind
The Battle Of (Mudhole Mountain)
Lead Venom
Whatcha Get

Produced, Recorded, and Mixed by Benny Grotto At Mad Oak Studio (Allston MA). Mastered By Alan Douches West West Side Music.

Scissorfight live:
Sat Oct 26th, The Stone Church, Brattleboro VT (Stoned to Death 4)
Wed Oct 30th, Dover Brickhouse, Dover NH
Sat Nov 9th, Genos Rock Club, Portland ME – Tickets
Fri and Sat Dec 6 and 7, The Shaskeen, Manchester NH

https://www.facebook.com/Scissorfight2016/
https://www.instagram.com/scissorfight2019/
http://scissorfight.com/
https://saltoftheearthrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec/
https://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com

Scissorfight, Live at Geno’s Rock Club, Portland, ME, May 5, 2019

Scissorfight, “Unfinished Business” official video

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Sentinel Hill Premiere Video for “Uninvited” from Demo 2019

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sentinel hill

On Aug. 25, Connecticut-based heavy rockers Sentinel Hill will take the stage at Fete Music Hall in Providence, Rhode Island, to open the final night of the Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar and Lo-Pan tour. Good gig. They also appeared at New England Stoner & Doom Fest — or, Nessy” — this past May on the strength of their aptly-titled Demo 2019, which marks their first release since getting together last year. They’re not signed to Salt of the Earth Records (yet), but bassist Aaron Lewis‘ other band, Buzzard Canyon are, and Sentinel Hill will feature on a label compilation with the track “Uninvited,” for which they’re also premiering a new video below.

There. I think we’re all caught up.

I mention all of this not just to be like, “Oh, these guys have a lot going on.” It’s a fair amount for a band whose demo arrived less than five months ago, sure enough, but more importantly, it speaks to the underlying importance of the song. If you’ve got songs, you’ve got everything, and listening to Demo 2019, with “Already Broken” leading into “Uninvited” and the highlight “Stones Unturned” giving way to the acoustic “The Silence at Last,” it’s abundantly clear that songcraft is where Sentinel Hill‘s collective heart lies. It’s a demo, so I wouldn’t necessarily expect it to be the final word on production method or overall tonality — though neither is lacking — but the roots are in quality, structured material, and while Lewis, drummer Rob Birkbeck and guitarist/vocalist Charlie Sad Eyes (both ex-Holding on to Nothing) might expand on what they do, Demo 2019 shows the foundation of whatever they’ll subsequently build, and it’s righteously solid.

As to what might be next for Sentinel Hill, well, they’re a band, so I’m gonna hazard the guess of, “writing songs?” Seems like a safe bet. But like a first album, second album, etc., the demo stage for a band only comes once, so they’re only right to make the most of it while they’re here with the video and hopefully turn some more heads onto what they’re doing with “Uninvited” and its three companion tracks on Demo 2019. To that end, I’m happy to host the clip below.

Please enjoy:

Sentinel Hill, “Uninvited” official video premiere

Connecticut based dirt rock band, SENTINEL HILL, release their brand new video, “Uninvited”, today… Off of their recently released 4 Song Demo, (available on CD and Digital Platforms)

The band also announces that they will be supporting CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, Crowbar, And Lo-Pan @ Fete Music Hall (Providence RI) on August 25th!

The track “Uninvited” also appears on the upcoming Salt Of The Earth Records CD Compilation “BLUE COLLAR HEAVY”.

The only unsigned band on the collection, SENTINEL HILL deliver BIG alongside seasoned heavy hitters like EARTHRIDE, ATALA, and CORTEZ.

Sentinel Hill, Demo 2019

Sentinel Hill on Bandcamp

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Scuzzy Yeti Sign to Salt of the Earth Records; New Album Ruined Due Later This Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Recent veterans of the New England Stoner and Doom Fest, Troy, New Hampshire’s Scuzzy Yeti have been snagged by Salt of the Earth Records for the impending release of their second album, Ruined. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we’re more than halfway through 2019 already and they’re still working on the album, so I think it might be 2020 before this one gets out — because delays happen, like life — but the five-piece’s earthy grooves as displayed on their 2017 self-titled debut (review here) make them a solid fit for the label, and I’ve little doubt that when it’s delivered, the new album will likewise deliver. I give them bonus points right out of the gate for calling it Ruined. Suits the self-aware humor of the band well.

They were in the studio at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, doing vocals, and I’m not sure if there are overdubs or what for after, but if it’s vocals being done, then it’s a safe bet that at least the basic tracks are already down. Progress is being made, is what I’m getting at.

Here’s announcement from Salt of the Earth via the PR wire:

scuzzy yeti

SCUZZY YETI signs with SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS!

SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS is proud as all hell to announce the addition of stoned to the bejeezus heavy ass fuzzrockers, SCUZZY YETI to the family! SCUZZY YETI plays heavy handed mountain rock that nods to 70s progressive riffing, tripped out psychedelia and hard hitting blues. And they do it with unrivaled passion. The band is currently hard at work on songs for their Salt Of The Earth Records debut, “Ruined”, Set for a fall/winter 2019 release on vinyl / CD / digital formats.

SCUZZY YETI played a mind blowing set at this years New England Stoner and Doom Festival, making many fans, and foreshadowing tracks from their upcoming release.

“We are SO stoked to be joining this family of high heaters, and riff worshipers! This is where we belong” – Joshua Wyatt Trumbull (Drums)

“We are psyched and honored to be working with Scott and SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS on our debut album. The bands on their roster are unique and heavy as Hell. We think it will be a perfect match.” – Jason Lawrence (Guitar)

“Wait till you hear, see, and feel what these guys are creating! Unbelievable!! These guys are truly the Scuzz Of The Earth.” – Scott Harrington (Guy @ Label)

https://www.facebook.com/scuzzyYeti/
https://www.instagram.com/scuzzyyetiofficial
https://scuzzyyeti.bandcamp.com/
www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec
www.saltoftheearthrecords.com

Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti (2017)

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Atala, The Bearer of Light: Burn in the Raw

Posted in Reviews on June 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

atala the bearer of light

The Bearer of Light is Atala‘s fourth full-length. Issued by Salt of the Earth Records, it follows 2017’s Labyrinth of Ashmedai (review here), 2016’s Shaman’s Path of the Serpent (review here) and a 2015 self-titled debut (review here), and while its predecessor seemed to follow a pattern set forth by the second album, in style as well as method, The Bearer of Light‘s seven-track/43-minute run is marked by a few notable changes. The production is a big one. The self-titled was produced by Scott Reeder, and the next two by Billy frickin’ Anderson, so the fact that guitarist/vocalist Kyle Stratton (who also did the cover art) took the reins himself this time around with a purposeful intent toward rawness is not to be overlooked. Indeed, The Bearer of Light is largely cloaked in its barebones recording, with Stratton‘s distorted guitar leading the charge cut through by Jeff Tedtaotao‘s sometimes-tinny snare and the dirt-coated low-end in Dave Horn‘s bass.

There’s still some opportunity for melody to shine through, as happens on the 3:45 side B cut and shortest track overall, “Venomous Lure” — also one of several songs to begin with a spoken sample, very much in ’90s sludge fashion — or even opener “Desolate Lands,” but much of the character of the record overall derives from movements like “Upon the Altar” and the threat-conveyance in “Won’t Subside,” which stretches to 11 minutes and layers its vocals in blown-out shouts over a lumbering, grueling central riff, like if earliest YOB had disappeared in the Mojave and come back hallucinating monsters from the exposure. Born of and depicting a harsh but beautiful landscape, the Twentynine Palms, California-based three piece indeed still qualify as a “desert band,” but their take on what that means is a noted departure from the laid-back punk-derived fuzz that has become typical of desert rock as a genre. Their trip is meaner on the whole, and particularly in the crashes of “Naive Demur” and the gutturalism of “Upon the Altar” is more kin to Crowbar than Kyuss. So be it. Some bands are suited to being contrary, and Atala hit that mark well on The Bearer of Light.

Though also structured for vinyl — kind of a given these days for heavy music — one can find summary of the point of view through which The Bearer of Light is working in its trailmarker tracks, by which I mean its opener, centerpiece and closer. Launching with “Desolate Lands” and closing with the acoustic “Dark Skies,” Atala puts “Sun Worship” at the heart of The Bearer of Light, which would seem to be no coincidence given the flow of the release overall. And while that view doesn’t necessarily account for the perceived sociopolitical reckoning of “Won’t Subside” or “Naive Demur,” or even “Dark Skies” somewhat, it stresses the importance of the desert itself as part of the character of the work, which it is, whatever other topics might be discussed in the not-always-easily-deciphered lyrics.

atala

“Sun Worship” begins with a sample of George Carlin from 1999’s You are All Diseased talking about becoming a sun worshiper as opposed to following Christianity and then undertakes a massive intro roll with far-back semi-spoken, maybe throat-sung vocals before a count-in transitions to the verse riff proper, clean vocals there meeting head-on with a meaner chorus soon enough. There’s a kind of chant in the second half of the song, which seems to purposefully devolve ahead of its fadeout, moving into the more structured “Venomous Lure” and subsequently the long-gone-not-coming-back foray of “Won’t Subside.” Certainly the stage is set for these transitions earlier in The Bearer of Light throughout “Desolate Lands,” “Upon the Altar” and “Naive Demur,” but at the same time one finds footing in the beginning, middle and end, the willfulness with which Atala dig deeper into their approach in this batch of material isn’t to be understated. Though somewhat obscured by the production — which is as close as I come to a qualm with it — that breadth is there in the material, in the interplay between melody and outright nastiness, and in the coherence of their craft and general reach of their sound. Stratton‘s fuzz lead alone in the opener is enough of a hook to capture the listener’s attention, never mind the rumble and roll that surrounds.

Subtle volume swells back the acoustic guitar of “Dark Skies,” with a rhythmic strum taking the place that otherwise might be held by percussion and soulful vocals overtop, reminding that one element Atala have never lacked has been conviction. They present that perhaps most boldly of all on The Bearer of Light, finding a way to commune with the desert without giving themselves over to stylistic cliché or losing the progressive thread of their work to this point, keeping that feel of searching for something in themselves and in their songs that has helped define them up to now. With the turn of production, it becomes more difficult to see where Atala might head next time around, if they’ll return to work with someone else at the helm or take the lessons of this collection forward and continue in the fashion of DIY recordmaking. I don’t know, but what feels most essential to stress is that The Bearer of Light is more than a test of a new production method.

It’s that too, to be sure, but it also brings out Atala‘s widest range of songwriting, and sees them able to handle themselves no matter which direction a given piece might go, whether it’s the extremity of “Upon the Altar” or the relative accessibility of “Venomous Lure” and the organically delivered finish of “Dark Skies.” Their output remains considered and rife with perspective instrumentally as well as lyrically, and their chemistry has never sounded as fluid as it does on The Bearer of Light, which is doubly impressive given that the sound of the album is so clearly intended to lean toward live performance. Four records deep over a five-year span, Atala are still growing, still pushing themselves to places they haven’t been, and one suspects that might just be the case no matter how long and how far they go.

Atala, The Bearer of Light (2019)

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