Review & Track Premiere: Saint Vitus, Saint Vitus

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

saint vitus saint vitus

[Click play above to stream ‘Bloodshed’ from Saint Vitus’ upcoming self-titled album, out May 17 on Season of Mist. They’re on tour in Europe starting next month (dates here).]

Some 35 years ago, Saint Vitus defied the punk scene to which they mostly played at the time and issued their self-titled debut, an all-black cover with the band’s logo emblazoned on top, as though there was nothing else to say. And the raw doom that pervaded that 1984 release met that same barebones standard — as purely derived Sabbathian heavy as has ever existed outside the forebears themselves. With an undercurrent of hardcore punk’s upfront middle-finger-raised confrontation-prone attitude, Saint Vitus became one of modern doom’s formative and essential acts. They’ve come and gone over the years since and changed members and shape, but Saint Vitus are still Saint Vitus, and that would seem to be the message of their second self-titled release.

Also their third outing for Season of Mist behind 2012’s comeback studio offering Lillie: F-65 (review here) and 2016’s Live Vol. 2 (review here), it immediately enters conversation with the band’s earliest days thanks as well to the return of vocalist Scott Reagers, who rejoined the band in 2015 after a split with Scott “Wino” Weinrich (The Obsessed, etc.) — who had fronted the band since their reunion began at Roadburn Festival in 2009 — thereby keeping the proportion of original members in the band to two, as guitarist Dave Chandler remains the core of the group, while drummer Henry Vasquez (also Blood of the Sun) marks a decade with the group and bassist Pat Bruders (also Down, ex-Crowbar) makes his first appearance. For Reagers, it’s his first time fronting Vitus for a studio record since 1995’s Die Healing (discussed here), which was the band’s final LP until the 2012 reunion release. That makes the new Saint Vitus — a candidate for all manner of nicknames taken from its cover art, whether it’s ‘The Fog Album,’ ‘The Murk Album’ (I like that one), ‘Grey Vitus’ or any number of others — all the more an event than it even would be arriving seven years after Lillie: F-65, and as it brings the band back together with producer Tony Reed (also of Mos Generator), its nine-track/41-minute run succeeds both in capturing the feel of classic Vitus and pushing their sound to places it hasn’t yet gone in the 40 years they’ve been a band.

Two examples to that point, both late in the album: “City Park” and “Useless.” Following the swaying noise/crashfest of “Hour Glass,” “City Park” is not at all the first time Chandler has taken on the vocalist position in the band — one recalls “Just Another Notch” from Die Healing and “A Timeless Tale” from 1992’s C.O.D. (discussed here), as well as “When Emotion Dies” from 1990’s landmark V, and so on — and of those, it’s probably most akin to “When Emotion Dies,” but “City Park” is on a different mission. Its noise is set to the purpose of atmospherics and drama in a way that Saint Vitus have never done before, and Chandler‘s spoken word, almost a whisper, is dark and narrative and backed by guitar noise in an experimentalist way that makes the four-minute piece much more than just an introduction to the subsequent “Last Breath,” which serves as a six-and-a-half-minute culmination of Saint Vitus‘ doomed persona, with a signature riff and lumbering groove and Reagers telltale vibrato over top.

“City Park” sets out to embody that murk on the cover, that feeling of unease of being alone someplace in the darkness with a shapeless and probably imaginary malevolence. “It might be illusion,” Chandler speculates. Indeed it might, but “City Park” is one example of Saint Vitus trying something new for them. At the same time, after “Last Breath” has answered back to the filthy churn and tension of album-opener “Remains” — sure to be a crowd-pleaser — a feedback introduction to album finale “Useless” takes up 13 of a total 91 seconds of what’s both the fastest and most outwardly punk rock song Saint Vitus have ever written. Gang shouts, blazing speed, and a social comment lyric that reminds of early C.O.C., it’s a stripped-raw moment of thrust that, especially in the context of the band’s four decades, seems to be done in good humor. One can almost imagine Chandler introducing it from the stage: “Well it took us 40 years, but we finally wrote a punk song.”

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Saint Vitus are no strangers to playing fast. The eponymous track that opened the self-titled is a prime example, or even “Blessed Night” from the last record, but “Useless” goes a step further in a very similar way that “City Park” takes what they’ve done before and brings it to a new level. Even the earlier “A Prelude To…” — which is actually longer than “Bloodshed,” which it would seem to have been composed to introduce — steps beyond the limits of what one might expect from them, with a minimalist creeper of a guitar line and a vocal showcase from Reagers that drifts to about the 2:20 mark before Bruders‘ bassline enters to begin the introduction to “Bloodshed” in earnest. And while “Bloodshed” — arguably the most outwardly catchy inclusion here — and the subsequent “12 Years in the Tomb” both have good speed to their push, the latter finding Chandler taking a particularly noisy solo as Vasquez dutifully holds the track together, they’re still well within Saint Vitus‘ wheelhouse.

Likewise, the mid-tempo centerpiece “Wormhole” — which would seem to be a complement/update in lyrical theme to the opiate-minded “White Stallions” from 1985’s Hallow’s Victim, the band’s second record and the last of Reagers‘ original run with them — does well in fusing faster and slower methods and brings nuance of layered vocals in the verses to standout lines like, “I always feel safe in a sacred place/Far away from the human race,” emphasizing a perspective that is no less quintessentially Vitus than Chandler‘s ultra-low guitar tone, which is not only intact throughout these songs, but reestablished as the foundational component that it is of everything they’ve ever done. Especially as this is the first Saint Vitus full-length not to feature original bassist Mark Adams — whose Parkinson’s diagnosis was revealed last year — Chandler seems all the more the center of what makes the band who they are. That doesn’t, however detract from Reagers‘ performance across this material, as from “Remains” to “Useless” (notwithstanding “City Park”), he brings the most classic feel to the material that ties together the album’s diverse presentation. He surfs the groove of “Bloodshed” like a master and is no less at home among the filth and sleaze of “Hour Glass” than in the lurching final verse of “Last Breath.”

Thus it is a two-pronged righteousness to be found on Saint Vitus‘ Saint Vitus. They bring to bear the sound that’s made their legacy span generations as it has while also pushing themselves to try ways of working they’ve never done before. It’s difficult to look at this album out of the context of Saint Vitus‘ past output, but I’m not entirely sure we’re supposed to. Rather, even the title — or lack thereof — seems to hint at the band coming full circle, both in terms of Chandler and Reagers re-teaming for a studio album, for their ongoing flirtations with punk, and for their reclamation of the style and tone that was so much their own from the very start. Saint Vitus‘ Saint Vitus could stand alone, but it doesn’t have to, and especially considering how much the band has done to shape modern doom, it is all the more admirable that the creative restlessness that drove their earliest days would still be so vibrant these many years later. Why rest on your laurels when you can fully embody the miseries and disaffection of our age?

Saint Vitus, “12 Years in the Tomb”

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Quarterly Review: Kungens Män, PFUND, Crystal Spiders, The Misery Men, Hubris, Woorms, Melody Fields, Oreyeon, Mammoth Grove, Crimson Devils

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

quarterly-review-spring-2019

I used to be pretty artsy and write poetry. Let’s give it a shot:

There was an old man who wore no-toe shoes.
He said, I’mma go do 60 reviews.
He was out of his head,
Should’ve gone back to bed,
But he loves him some dirty psych blues.

Years from now, when I link back to this post for a “(review here)”-type scenario, I’m going to see that and I’ll still think it’s funny. The planet’s dying. I’d say a bit of silly is more than called for.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Kungens Män, Chef

kungens man chef

Krautrockers, assemble! Or, you know, whatever krautrockers do — I assume it involves homemade spacecraft that, yes, absolutely fly. Perhaps one of these days I’ll ask Stockholm’s Kungens Män, whose latest outing for Riot Season, simply titled Chef, is an outbound delight of psych-infused progressivism. Beginning with the opening throb of “Fyrkantig Böjelse” and moving into the volume swells, steady drum line and wandering guitar that starts “Öppen För Stängda Dörrar” on side A, its four extended tracks craft otherworldly textures through a meld of organic instrumental flow and waves of synth, the second cut building to a tense wash of distortion all the while keeping that hypnotic march. The two corresponding 10-minute-plus cuts on side B waste no time in offering cosmic boogie in “Män Med Medel” with a more active rhythmic flow, and closer “Eftertankens Blanka Krankhet” — longer than the opener by one second at 11:24 — fades in on meditative guitar and explores a serene minimalism that only underscores the all around joy of the album.

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Riot Season Records webstore

 

PFUND, PFUND

pfund pfund

The self-titled, self-released debut full-length from Kiel, Germany’s PFUND arrives and departs with a guesting horn section, and while that inevitably adds a bit of grandeur to the proceedings, the bulk of the outing is dedicated to straightforward, semi-metallic heavy rock, held to ground even in the seven-minute “Spaceman” by a considered sense of structure and an earthy drum sound that draws the songs together, whether it’s the classic riff rock in “Sea of Life” or the moodier sway in the earlier “Lost in Rome.” Dual guitars effectively multiply the impact, and the vocals showcase a nascent sense of melody that one imagines will only continue to grow as the band moves forward. At nine songs and 44 minutes, it shows some breadth and nuance in “Exhaustion” and “Paranoia,” the former tapping into an edge of progressive metal, but the primary impact comes from PFUND‘s heft of groove and how it blends with a rawer edge to their production. The Kyuss-referencing centerpiece here might be called “Imbalance,” but that’s hardly representative of what surrounds, horns and all.

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Crystal Spiders, Demo

crystal spiders demo

Three songs, 11 minutes and three distinct vibes from the aptly-titled Demo demo of North Carolinian three-piece Crystal Spiders. On “Tigerlily,” “Flamethrower” and “Devil’s Resolve,” the trio of bassist/vocalist Brenna Leath (also Lightning Born), guitarist/vocalist Mike Deloatch and drummer/backing vocalist Tradd Yancey careen from bluesy spaciousness to hard-driving catchiness and end up — because why not? — in repeating cult-sludge chants, “Come to the devil’s resolve!” like Black Widow trying to lure people to the sabbat, except shouting. If the purpose of a demo is for a new band to try different methods of working and thereby take a first step in discovering their sound, Crystal Spiders are well on their way, and for what it’s worth, there isn’t anything within their scope as they present it that doesn’t work for them. There are edges to smooth out, of course, but that too is a part of the process starting here.

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The Misery Men, Deathspiration

The Misery Men Deathspiration

If you’d asked, depending on which part of Deathspiration was on, I’d probably have called The Misery Men a bass/drum duo, but nope, that’s guitar. Tonally one is reminded of At Devil Dirt from Chile, but the Portland, Oregon, two-piece of vocalist/guitarist Corey G. Lewis and drummer Steve Jones are entirely more barebones in their craft, eschewing digital involvement of any sort in the recording or mixing process and sounding duly raw as a result throughout the subtle earworm of “C.W. Sughrue” and the lumbering “Harness the Darkness.” The subsequent “Night Creeps In” brings a Northwestern noise payoff to quiet/loud trades and the near-10-minute closer “Stoned to Death,” well, it seems to meet an end befitting its title, to say the least. As their stated intent was to capture the most organic version of their sound possible, and made a point of working toward that ideal in their recording, one could hardly fault them for the results of that process. They wanted something human-sounding. They got it.

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Hubris, EP #II Live

hubris ep ii live

Some — not all — of what one needs to know about HubrisEP #II Live is right there in the title. Indeed, it’s their second EP. Indeed, it was recorded live. And indeed, like using a ‘#’ sign with a Roman numeral, there’s something about the way the three included songs from the Toulouse, France-based outfit sound that’s just a little bit off-kilter from what you might expect. “Zugzwang” (7:19), “Tergo” (19:58) and “Biotilus” (27:04) are arranged shortest to longest, and while the opener starts off like Queens of the Stone Age on an Eastern-tinged psychedelic bender, the lengthy jams that follow — the first of them with a fervent drum punctuation, the second a gradual intertwining of synth and guitar with hardly any percussion at all until after its 22nd minute. The instrumental flow that ensues from there is almost like a hidden bonus track, at least until they Hubris get to minute 26 and the whole thing explodes in crash and plod. The underlying message, of course, is that if you think you’re safe at any point, you’re not.

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Woorms, Slake

woorms slake

Lumbering fuckall pervades the debut full-length, Slake, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sludgers Woorms — also stylized all-caps — which incorporates past singles “Find a Meal Find a Bed Find a God” and “Mouth is a Wound” amid the sample/noise barrage of “Our Lady of Perpetually Shitfaced” and the willfully brash “Racist Kevin” that follows. There’s an edge of Melvinsian chug to the proceedings, but Woorms‘ take, though presented in finished compositions, comes across as almost nihilistic rather than making a show of its experimentalism. That is, they’re trying to say they don’t give a fuck, and in listening, they make it kind of easy to believe, but there’s still something about the cohesiveness of “Veni Vidi Fucki” and “Rice Crispy” and the saved-the-best-nod-for-last finale “Sore Afraid” that undercuts the notion even while making the listening experience all the more pummeling, and from the intro “Corpse Corps” through “Urine Trouble Now”‘s echoing shouts and the closer’s unmitigated stomp, there’s still plenty of exploration being done.

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Oreyeon, Ode to Oblivion

Oreyeon Ode to Oblivion

Rebranded since their 2016 debut, Builders of Cosmos (discussed here), from their more phonetically intuitive original moniker, Orion, Italy’s Oreyeon issue a cosmically expansive spacescape follow-up in their six-song/40-minute sophomore outing, Ode to Oblivion, also their first release through Heavy Psych Sounds. Echoing vocals pervade “Big Surprise” after the introductory “T.I.O.” and “Trudging to Vacuity” establish the wide-cast mix and anti-grav rhythmic density, and the nine-minute side A finale title-track runs mostly-instrumental circles around most of what I’d usually call “prog” only after it lays down a sleek hook in the first couple minutes. After “Big Surprise,” the 8:45 “The Ones” trades volume back and forth but finds its breadth at about the sixth minute as the dramatic lead turns on a dime to desert rock thrust en route to wherever the hell it goes next. Honestly, after that moment, everything’s gravy, but Oreyeon lay it on thick with closer “Starship Pusher” and never neglect melody in the face of nod. Worth a deeper dig if you get the chance.

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Melody Fields, Melody Fields

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Sometimes you hear a record and it’s like the band is doing you a favor by existing. To that, thanks Melody Fields. The Gothenburg psych troupe lace their lysergic flow with folkish harmonies and an open sensibility on their self-titled debut that comes coupled with enough tonal presence to still consider them heavy not that it matters. They break out the sax on “Morning Sun” to welcome effect, and the sun continues to shine through “Liberty” and the garage-buzzing “Run” before “Rain Man” turns water droplets into keyboard notes and Beatlesian — think “Rain” — voice arrangements atop soothing instrumental drift, every bit the centerpiece and an excellent precursor to the acoustic-based “Fire” and the 10-minute “Trädgränsen,” which is the crowning achievement of this self-titled debut, which, if I’d been hip to it in time, would’ve made both the 2018 best albums and best debuts list. They cap with a reprise of “Morning Sun” and underscore the solid foundation beneath the molten beauty of their work throughout. To ask for another album seems greedy, but I will anyway. More, please.

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Sound Effect Records website

 

Mammoth Grove, Slow Burn

mammoth grove slow burn

Okay, look, enough screwing around. It’s time for someone to sign Mammoth Grove. The Calgary natives have been putting out quality heavy psych rock since their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), and their latest long-player, the four-song Slow Burn is a righteous amalgam of peace-thru-rock that lives up to its freewheeling vibes in “Seasons” after the methodical opener “Valleys” and rolls out a bit of melodic ’70s biker rock bliss in “Black Meadow” before the side-B-consuming “Gloria” (18:42) asks early if you’re ready to go and then goes like gone, gone, gone, and gone further. Given the analog mindset involved and the heart on display throughout, there’s something fitting about it being pressed up in an edition of 100 hand-screenprinted LPs and 100 CDs likewise, but the more people who could hear it, the merrier, so yeah, some label or other needs to step up and make that happen, and I dare you to listen to the solo that hits past the 14-minute mark in “Gloria” and tell me otherwise. Dare you.

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Crimson Devils, A Taste for Blood

crimson devils a taste for blood

Since pared down to a trio from the four-piece incarnation they present here, Austin’s Crimson Devils first released their debut, A Taste for Blood, in 2017, but gave it a vinyl revisit last year and it’s little mystery why. The record comprises 11 sharply-composed tracks of Small Stone-style heavy rock, taking cues from Sasquatch in modern-via-classic modus, picking and choosing elements of ’70s and ’90s rock to conjure formidable groove and engaging hooks. There’s considerable swagger and weight in “They Get It,” and while opener “Dead and Gone” seems to show an influence in its vocal patterning from Elder, as the album unfolds, it’s more about the blast of “Captain Walker” or the penultimate “Nothing to Claim” and the straight-ahead vibes of “Bad News Blues” and “No Action” than anything so outwardly prog. There’s plenty to dig in the rock-for-rockers mindset, and it’s the kind of offering that should probably come with an octane rating. However such things are measured, safe to say it would not be low.

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Quarterly Review: Stuck in Motion, AVER, Massa, Alastor, Seid, Moab, Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Into Orbit, Super Thief, Absent

Posted in Reviews on March 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Let the games begin! The rules are the same: 10 albums per day, this time for a total of 60 between today and next Monday. It’s the Quarterly Review. Think of it like a breakfast buffet with an unending supply of pancakes except the pancakes are riffs and there’s only one dude cooking them and he’s really tired all the time and complains, complains, complains. Maybe not the best analogy. Still, it’s gonna be a ton of stuff, but there are some very, very cool records included, so please keep your eyes and your mind open for what’s coming, because you might find something here you really dig. If not, there’s always tomorrow. Let’s go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Stuck in Motion, Stuck in Motion

stuck in motion self-titled

The classic style cover art of Swedish trio Stuck in Motion‘s self-titled debut tells much of the story. It’s sweet-toned vintage-style soul rock, informed by Graveyard to some degree, but more aligned to retroism. The songs are bluesy and natural and not especially long, but have vibe for weeks, as demonstrated on the six-minute longest-track “Dreams of Flying,” or the flute-laden closer “Eken.” What the picture doesn’t tell you is the heavy use of clavinet in the band’s sound and just how much the vintage electric piano adds to what songs like “Slingrar” with its ultra-fluid shifts in tempo, or the sax-drenched penultimate cut “Orientalisk.” Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Max Kinnbo, drummer Gustaf Björkman and bassist/vocalist/clavinetist Adrian Norén, Stuck in Motion‘s debut successfully basks in a mellow psychedelic blues atmosphere and shows a patience for songwriting that bodes remarkably well. It should not be overlooked because you think you’re tired of vintage-style rock.

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AVER, Orbis Majora

aver orbis majora

Following up their 2015 sophomore outing, Nadir (review here), which led to them getting picked up by Ripple Music, Australia’s AVER return with the progressive shove of Orbis Majora, five songs in 50 minutes of thoughtfully composed heavy progadelica, and while it’s not all so serious — closer “Hemp Fandango” well earns its title via a shuffling stonerly groove — opener “Feeding the Sun” and the subsequent “Disorder” set a mood of careful craftsmanship in longform pieces. The album’s peak might be in the 13-minute “Unanswered Prayers,” which culls together an extended linear build that’s equal parts immersive and gorgeous, but the rest of the album hardly lacks for depth or clarity of purpose. An underlying message from the Sydney four-piece would seem to be that they’re going to continue growing, even after more than a decade, because it’s not so much that they’re feeling their way toward their sound, but willfully pushing themselves to refine those parameters.

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Massa, Walls

massa walls

Flourish of keys adds nuance to Massa‘s moody, heavy post-rock style, the Rotterdam-based trio bringing an atmosphere to their second EP, Walls, across five tracks and 26 minutes marked by periodic samples from cinema and a sense of scope that seems to be born of an experimental impulse but not presented as the experiment itself. That is, they take the “let’s try this!” impulse and make a song out of it, as the chunky rhythm of instrumental centerpiece “Expedition” or the melodies in the prior “#8” show. Before finishing with the crash-into-push of the relatively brief “Intermassa,” the eight-minute “The Federal” complements winding guitar with organ to affect an engaging spirit somewhere between classic and futurist heavy, with the drums holding together proceedings that would seem to convey all the chaos of that temporal paradox. Perhaps it was opener “Shiva” that set this creator/destroyer tone, but either way, Massa bask in it and find a grim sense of identity thereby.

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Alastor, Slave to the Grave

alastor slave to the grave

The first full-length from Swedish doomplodders Alastor and their debut on RidingEasy Records, late 2018’s Slave to the Grave is the four-piece’s most expansive offering yet in sonic scope as well as runtime. Following the 2017 EPs Blood on Satan’s Claw (review here) and Black Magic (review here), the seven-song/56-minute offering holds true to the murk-toned cultism and dense low-end rumble of the prior offerings, but the melodic resonance and sense of updating the aesthetic of traditional doom is palpable throughout the roller “Your Lives are Worthless,” while the later acoustic-led “Gone” speaks to a folkish influence that suits them surprisingly well given the heft that surrounds. They make an obvious focal point of 17-minute closer “Spider of My Love,” which though they’ve worked in longer forms before, is easily the grandest accomplishment they’ve yet unfurled. One might easily say the same applies to Slave to the Grave as a whole. Those who miss The Wounded Kings should take particular note of their trajectory.

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RidingEasy Records website

 

Seid, Weltschmerz, Baby!

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If Norwegian space-psych outfit Seid are feeling weary of the world, the way they show it in Weltschmerz, Baby! is by simply leaving it behind, substituting for reality a cosmic starscape of effects and synth, the odd sample and vaguely Hawkwindian etherealism. The centerpiece title-track is a banger along those lines, a swell of rhythmic intensity born out of the finale of the prior “Satan i Blodet” and the mellow, flowing “Trollmannens Hytte” before that, but the highlight might be the subsequent “Coyoteman,” which drifts into dream-prog led by echoing layers of guitar and eventually given over to a fading strain of noise that “Moloch vs. Gud” picks up with percussive purpose and flows directly into the closer “Mir (Drogarna Börjar Värka),” rife with ’70s astro-bounce and a long fadeout that’s less about the record ending and more about leaving the galaxy behind. Starting out at a decent clip with “Haukøye,” Weltschmerz, Baby! is all about the journey and a trip well worth taking.

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Sulatron Records website

 

Moab, Trough

moab trough

A good record tinged by the tragic loss of drummer Erik Herzog during the recording and finished by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Giacumakis and bassist Joe Fuentes, the 10-track/39-minute Trough demonstrates completely just how much Moab have been underrated since their 2011 debut, Ab Ovo (discussed here), and across the 2014 follow-up, Billow (review here), as they bring a West Coast noise-infused pulse to heavy rock drive on “All Automatons” and meeting an enduring punker spirit head on with “Medieval Moan,” all the while presenting a clear head for songcraft amid deep-running tones and melodies. “The Will is Weak” makes perhaps the greatest impact in terms of heft, but heft is by no means all Moab have to offer. With the very real possibility this will be their final record, it is a worthy homage to their fallen comrade and a showcase of their strengths that’s bound someday to get the attention it deserves whenever some clever label decides to reissue it as a lost classic.

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Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Split

primitive man unearthly trance split

Well of course it’s a massive wash of doomed and hate-filled noise! What were you expecting, sunshine and puppies? Colorado’s Primitive Man and Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance team up to compare misanthropic bona fides across seven tracks of blistering extremity that do Relapse Records proud. Starting with the collaborative intro “Merging,” the onslaught truly commences with Primitive Man’s 10-minute “Naked” and sinks into an abyss with the instrumental noisefest “Love Under Will,” which gradually makes its way into a swell of abrasive drone. Unearthly Trance, meanwhile, proffer immediate destructiveness with the churning “Mechanism Error” and make “Triumph” dark enough to live up to its most malevolent interpretations, while “Reverse the Day” makes me wonder what people who heard Godflesh in the ’80s must’ve thought of it and the six-minute finishing move “418” answers back to Primitive Man‘s droned-out anti-structure with a consuming void of fuckall depth. It’s like the two bands cut open their veins and recorded the disaffection that spilled out.

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Relapse Records website

 

Into Orbit, Shifter

Into Orbit Shifter

Progressive New Zealander two-piece Into OrbitPaul Stewart on guitar and Ian Moir on drums — offer up the single Shifter as the answer to their 2017 sophomore long-player, Unearthing. The Wellington instrumentalists did likewise leading into that album with a single that later showed up as part of a broader tracklist, so it may be that they’ve got another release already in the works, but either way, the 5:50 standalone track finds them dug into a full band sound with layered or looped guitar standing tall over the mid-paced drumming, affecting an emotion-driven atmosphere as much as the cerebral nature of its craft. Beginning with a thick chug, it works into more melodic spaciousness as it heads toward and through its midsection, lead guitar kicking in with harmony lines joining soon after as the two-piece build back up to a bigger finish. Whatever their plans, Into Orbit make it clear that just because something is prog doesn’t mean it needs to be staid or lack expressiveness.

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Super Thief, Eating Alone in My Car

super thief eating alone in my car

Noise-punk intensity pervades Eating Alone in My Car, the not-quite-not-an-LP from Austin four-piece Super Thief. They call it an album, and that’s good enough for me, especially since at about 20 minutes there isn’t much more I’d ask of the thing that it doesn’t deliver, whether it’s the furious out-of-mindness of minute-long highlight “Woodchipper” or the poli-sci critique of that sandwiches the offering with opener “Gone Country” immediately taking a nihilist anti-stance while closer “You Play it Like a Joke but I Know You Really Mean It” — which consumes nearly half the total runtime at 9:32 — seems to run up the walls unable to stick to the “smoke ’em if you got ’em” point of view of the earlier cut. That’s how the bastards keep you running in circles, but at least Super Thief know where to direct the frustration. “Six Months Blind” and the title-track have a more personal take, but are still worth a read lyrically as much as a listen, as the rhythm of the words only adds to the striking personality of the material.

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Learning Curve Records website

 

Absent, Towards the Void

absent towards the void

Recorded in 2016, released on CD in 2018 and snagged by Cursed Tongue Records for a vinyl pressing, Absent‘s Towards the Void casts a shimmering plunge of cavernous doom, with swirling post-Electric Wizard guitar and echoing vocals adding to the spaciousness of its four component tracks as the Brasilia-based trio conjure atmospheric breadth to go along with their weighted lurch in opener “Ophidian Womb.” With tracks arranged shortest to longest between eight and a half and 11 minutes, “Semen Prayer,” “Funeral Sun” and “Urine” follow suit from the opener in terms of overall approach, but “Funeral Sun” speeds things up for a stretch while “Urine” lures the listener downward with a subdued opening leading to more filth-caked distortion and degenerate noise, capping with feedback because at that point what the hell matters anyway? Little question in listening why this one’s been making the rounds for over a year now. It will likely continue to do so for some time to come.

Absent on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

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Wizzerd Premiere “Wizard” from Wizzerd LP out June 7

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

wizzerd

Montana-based five-piece Wizzerd have signed to Cursed Tongue Records and will release their self-titled debut album as a 2LP through the label on June 7. With it, the band invite the listener into a world of swords, sorcery and riffs, lumbering out grooves amid a mystical tale of a kingdom usurped a quest for four heroes — plus an observer spirit, who seems also to play keyboard — to restore the rightful heir to the throne. You know, real-world stuff. Something everyone can relate to. Because who among us has not battled a plague-wielding summoner bent on stealing souls in order to gain material power?

All capitalist allegory aside — or at least most of it — the long-player comprises a dudely nine tracks and preorders through Cursed Tongue open April 5. Whether or not you’re down with the fantasy vibes — and if not, why not? — the riffs and burl and the classic-style stoner metal shuffle of “Dragon” or the driving “Phoenix” and the thickened roll of “King of Esbat” have an appeal even out of context, with groove and tonal largesse given priority as the foundation on which the narrative plays out. By the time they get down to the organ intro on the penultimate “Wraith” and the growling vocals and massive wall-o’-fuzz that accompanies, their intent toward the epic is well laid bare, and they wrap “Wizzerd” with enough of a noise wash to make one think immediately there’s a sequel in the works. Everyone knows fantasy literature is a long-term project. Look at The Wheel of Time.

At the bottom of this post, under the considerable signing announcement, band info and album narrative, you’ll find the premiere of “Wizard” taken from the end of side C of the double-vinyl. Please dig in, and please enjoy:

wizzerd st

WIZZERD SIGNS TO CURSED TONGUE RECORDS FOR A WORLD WIDE VINYL RELEASE OF THEIR SELF TITLED NEW ALBUM SET FOR JUNE 7TH, 2019.

Cursed Tongue Records is beyond happy to announce the signing of Wizzerd (Kalispell, MT) for a vinyl release of their self-titled new album on June 7th, 2019 with pre-orders coming April 5th.

Ever since laying ears on Wizzerd’s debut album ‘Doomchild’ back in 2016 (CD/digital) and immediately being swept away by the Wizzerd’s entrancing hymns, it’s been evident that this is a band that’s bound to go places. The Doomchild debut was a very strong first effort and excelled with its mesmerizing psyched-out doom, nice clean vocals and riffs aplenty that made it a most memorable trip worth taking. Even more so, the debut brought forth a promise from the Wizzerd of something big lurking just after the next bend. It was almost as if an untold forewarning of grandiose and epic tales of wizardry just laid slumbering, ready to be awoken.

With this new self-titled concept album, the Wizzerd has indeed unraveled his tale and the future foresights have been fulfilled as ‘Wizzerd’ sees the band grow and expand in every dimension – in time, in depth, in variation, in inspiration and in musicality. ‘Wizzerd’ showcases a band eager to impress but also longing to tell a story and to play their cloaks off and we be all doomed if that’s not exactly what this quintet is doing – and it’s for all of us stoner and doom heads to enjoy!

Wizzerd has spent a considerable amount of time on the road, playing live shows with the result of strengthening the bond between these road warriors. The experience picked up on the road by the band was brought to the fore in the studio creating what we, at Cursed Tongue Records, see as one of the most inspired and interesting “stoner doom” records of 2019. The new Wizzerd album is far from the scene’s typical dull-nodding-doom-plodding generic and mind-numbing slumber excursions – instead the heroes has decided to throw at us a unique take on heavy metal drawing from influences varying from classic heavy metal over folk music to sludge-incrusted doom. You can sometimes hear influences going from Coheed & Cambria and Thin Lizzy to Sleep and Judas Priest. Yes, it’s a far stretch to comprehend but believe us when we say they made the impossible possible.

‘Wizzerd’ is an album that, despite drawing from such a vast array of influences, manage to appear focused, coherent and well proportioned. So look out for the digital album release on March 29th and become enlightened with a conceptual metal album for new-thinkers of doom that when 2019 draws up its final breaths will stand towering high above the current year’s heavy underground releases. This is a top-of-the-mountain release and Cursed Tongue Records is honored to stand on the peak together with the Wizzerd.

Cursed Tongue Records is inclined to give ‘Wizzerd’ the full red carpet (cloak?) treatment, so expect the usual high quality premium heavy weight colored vinyl, gatefold cover, double sided insert, poster, patch, stickers and even A VINYL EXCLUSIVE TRACK – yes, you got that right! The vinyl edition will feature an exclusive song, Druggernaut, that won’t be available elsewhere – and judging by its sheer Sleep-like monolithic nature (and a run-time of 14+ mins) – it’s a track not to be missed. So sit tight as the label unfolds the vinyl pre-orders on April 5, 2019.

The Wizzerd hath spoken!

**BAND BIO**
From deep within the mountains of Montana, in the earthly perish of October in the year 2014, four souls imbued with Sabbathian riffcasting found their ultimate purpose, and thus Wizzerd was born. Soon after, a fifth soul joined in the excursion, completing the vessel of the Doom. These souls crafted their first work through countless hours of basement toils – Doomchild. They began to spread the Doom throughout the land, venturing far beyond their mountainous lair. Now, in this New Year, new magic’s have been conjured, and shall be revealed to the world population, in the form of their self-titled work. Prepare, for one cannot escape the Doom…

**ALBUM NARRATIVE**
A mysterious figure has usurped the throne of the Great King… the lands are in turmoil and people are dying. A plague has spread across the lands, from ocean to ocean… but there is still hope!

Four Heroes, accompanied by an immortal spirit, are on a journey to kill the usurper, end the plague, and save the land. They come from the four corners of Great Gaia’s green world:

The Dragon, a fearsome rogue, a legend of his time, he slayed the Grand elder Dragon of the Great Desert bringing a permanent end to the age of fire.

The Warrior, his family was killed in the first siege of the Doomed. Mortally wounded, he dragged himself into the magickal ancient Forest where he was blessed by the Dryad of the Elder Wood to become the protector of the natural world.

The Wizard, an elderly Wiseman, a reclusive intellectual known by no name, who wields the power to bend reality. He has witnessed mountains crumble, and Oceans dry. He has seen the Apprentice become the Adversary

The Phoenix, an undying madman, his origin and purpose shrouded in mystery. He has dwelled where the mountain tops meet the moon, and flown to where the sea meets the Sky.

The Wraith, an aeons-old inter-dimensional immortal spirit, whose purpose is to bring about and maintain balance between all realities. He resides within the Æther, observing all of times most crucial events.

The Wizzerd, the evil ruler who has usurped the throne from its rightful king. He is the mastermind behind the devastating plague known as “The Doom.” His lust for power, driven by Kæos, has lead him to use his powerful crystal talisman to rob the people of the world of their souls, giving him magickal power beyond comprehension.

Will our heroes bring balance to their world, or will they perish at the hand of the Wizzerd?

So my dear fellow doom heads, it’s time to stand tall and join ranks in the vinyl coven with your equal brethren of the cursed tongue crusade while preparing for battle as the label will unleash thee vinyl pre-order come April 5th.

CTR-420 WIZZERD – ‘WIZZERD’, vinyl official release date: June 7th 2019. (Digital release Mach 29th)

Wizzerd is:
(Jhalen Salazar) Dragon – Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Violin, Voice
(Layne Matkovich) Warrior – Bass Guitar, Cello, Voice
(Jamie Yeats) Wizard – Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Mandolin, Voice
(Samael Moore) Phoenix – Drumset, Percussion, Voice
(Wayne Randall) Wraith – Sythesizer, Organ, Voice, Audiomancy

Guests:
Colton Christensen – Vocals on Dragon
Heathen – Vocals on Dragon
David Graham – Vocals on Warrior
Doug, Grob, Riley, Rachel, Kaitlynn – Army of the Doomed

All music & lyrics by Wizzerd
Recorded and Mixed by Wayne Randall and Wizzerd at Black Magick Studios in Kalispell, Montana
Mastered by Tony Reed at HeavyHead Recording in Port Orchard, Washington
Album cover by Burning Moon
Layout & Design (for vinyl) by Michael Andresakis

Track listing

Side A
1. Druggernaut 14:20 (VINYL ONLY TRACK)

Side B
1. Great Mother Gaia 5:58
2. King Of Esbat 6:02
3. The Doomed 4:51

Side C
1. Dragon 8:21
2. Warrior 5:11
3. Wizard 4:50

Side D
1. Phoenix 3:50
2. Wraith 6:34
3. Wizzerd 5:44

https://www.facebook.com/wizzerddoom/
https://instagram.com/wizzerddoom
https://wizzerd.bandcamp.com/
http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CursedTongueRecords
https://www.instagram.com/cursedtonguerecords

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Pyramidal Set April 15 Release for Self-Titled LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

pyramidal (Photo by Sergio Albert)

Don’t tell anybody — or better yet, tell everybody! — but on March 25 I’ll be hosting a track premiere from Pyramidal‘s upcoming self-titled long-player. The album is set to release April 15 through Lay Bare Recordings and Surnia Records and will be their third album and first since 2013’s Frozen Galaxies, though they’ve certainly kept themselves busy in the years between with EPs and splits and playing live shows. And before you ask, yes, a pyramid is included. I’m not sure what it’s for, but it’s there, so be aware of it. Preorders start April 1.

And — shh! — check back in about a week and a half for that audio and more on the record.

From the PR wire:

pyramidal cover

PYRAMIDAL – PYRAMIDAL – LAY BARE RECORDINGS

Release date : April 15th , pre-order opens April 1st, 2019

In 2011, Pyramidal burst on the scene with Dawn in Space. The logo attached to this record was “Space is deep & music is Endless”. These words were a prediction that the band fulfilled in the years after this initial release. It earned them a place among the greats of the contemporary Space Rock La Liga. It landed them also invitations for shows on Europe’s biggest festivals like Roadburn, Yellowstock, Freak Valley & Psychedelic Network festival, whereas their latest release was recorded “Live from the 7th Psychedelic Network Festival 2014”.

Fast forward to 2019, we are set to release their third proper full length self-titled record, carrying number LBR22 in our discography. It is the first Lay Bare release for 2019 and this year shaping up our busiest year in existence.

The collaboration with Lay Bare Recordings started in 2014 with Live from Freak Valley 2013, followed by a split 12” with Domo in 2015 called James from the Sun. The new records contain five new songs filled with their blend of Hawkwindish Sabbath Floydian ancestral Space Rock. Release date is set for the 15th of April, with pre-order opening the 1st of April. And no this is not a bad joke: April 1st is the day you can acquire this must have Space Rock album.

The first vinyl press counts 250 pieces on 180grams vinyl, pressed on milky clear with swamp green, sea blue & bone colored vinyl. The cd edition is done by our partner Surnia records from Spain. As a special treat, a magic Pyramid is printed on the insert, one that can be cut out, pasted into a pyramid and used while playing the record.

https://www.facebook.com/pyramidalband/
https://www.instagram.com/pyramidalmusic/
https://pyramidalmusic.bandcamp.com/
http://pyramidalmusic.com/
http://surniarecords.com/
https://laybarerecordings.com/releases

Pyramidal, From Other Spheres (2016)

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Pharlee Announce Self-Titled Debut out April 5 on Tee Pee

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

pharlee pharlee

Pharlee have members of Joy and Harsh Toke and Arctic and probably eight or 15 other bands like it’s no big deal. At least for someone observing from the other side of the continent, that would seem to be how it goes in San Diego these days. And bless their organ-soaked, frantically rocking hearts, Pharlee stand at the ready to unveil their self-titled debut next month via the ready outlet for such things, Tee Pee Records, which has fostered and stood behind the development of that scene since picking up Earthless way back when and brings Pharlee into the fold that not only includes Joy and Harsh Toke, but also Sacri Monti and Volcano as well. What’s really kind of astonishing about it — about that scene in San Diego — is that the bands sometimes have common threads, but they almost down to each group still manage to bring something different to the mix, whether it’s Harsh Toke‘s outward-directed jams or Pharlee‘s forward, all-go boogie on their 2018 single “Burn,” which you can stream at the bottom of this post.

April 5 is the release date. Preorders are up now if that’s your thing. Here’s info from the PR wire:

pharlee pharlee

San Diego Heavy Psych Band Pharlee to Release Self-Titled Debut April 5

Electric Rock Group Featuring Members of Arctic, Harsh Toke, JOY, Sacri Monti and Volcano Set to Drop High Voltage Debut

Pharlee is a heavy-riff-ridin’ machine. The California rock group was forged in the middle of the white-hot psychedelic jam scene in San Diego by members of Harsh Toke, Sacri Monti, Arctic and Joy. Propelled by the powerfully emotional voice and fiery wail of blues-rock banshee Macarena Rivera, Pharlee calls its energetic sound “psychedelic speed rock”. The band will release its debut LP, ‘Pharlee’, on April 5 via Tee Pee Records (Ruby the Hatchet, Witch).

Hard-blues rockers Pharlee are loud, unabashed and one of San Diego’s best kept secrets! Confident, commanding and highly influenced by diverse acts such as Judas Priest, Betty Davis, Deep Purple and Motörhead, Pharlee’s sound is equal parts soul-scorching, boogie-woogie bar rock and shadowy psych urgency. In addition to the sensational, soulful vocals of Rivera, Pharlee features familiar faces to fans of the Cali psych scene including guitarist Justin “Figgy” Figueroa (Harsh Toke, Arctic), bassist Dylan Donavan (Sacri Monti), Zach Oakley (Joy, Volcano) who swaps his guitar for drums, and Garrett Lekas (Operation Mindblow) on keys. Pharlee was first exposed to the world in 2018, featured as part of a special live showcase dubbed “The San Diego Takeover” at the Netherlands’ popular Roadburn Festival. Locally, the band has shared California stages with pals in Earthless, Petyr and more.

Captured on tape at Audio Design Studios in San Diego, by engineer Jordan Andreen (Earthless, Rocket From The Crypt), Pharlee’s debut LP is a dynamic and cracking hard rock album and a first-hand account of the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into the making of this head-turning new band. Alongside the album’s five formidable tracks, ‘Pharlee’ features a killer cover of the Freddie King blues classic “Going Down”.

Track listing:

1.) Ethereal Woman
2.) Creeping
3.) Darkest Hour
4.) Warning
5.) Going Down (Freddie King cover)
6.) Sunward

Pre-order ‘Pharlee’ at this location.

https://www.facebook.com/pharleee/
https://www.instagram.com/pharlee_/
https://pharlee.bandcamp.com/releases
teepeerecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/teepeerecords/
https://twitter.com/teepeerecords
https://teepeerecords.bandcamp.com/

Pharlee, “Burn”

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Horsehunter Release Self-Titled Album; Streaming in Full Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

horsehunter

Wow, you know, when Horsehunter put out their 2015 debut, Caged in Flesh (review here), it was like, golly, this sure is heavy, but their self-titled is a complete turn. I mean, I’ve heard of selling out, but to have a band like this come out of Melbourne’s vibrant heavy scene and turn to whatever this kind of blend of pop-punk college rock is and then have the sheer gall to name the record after the band, as if to say, “Yeah, no, just kidding with all that grueling thick tone and harsh sludge and whatnot. We’re in it to play coffee houses.” Bands should be allowed to expand their sound and explore different directions and all that, but seriously. Dudes sound like they’re trying to write the soundtrack to a thoughtful slow-mo montage in a rom-com. What the fuck.

Nah I’m just playing. Of course it’s brutal as shit. Horsehunter dropped Horsehunter sans advance hype on March 2 in collusion with Magnetic Eye Records and it’s streaming in all its four-song, wreck-your-skull glory right now at the bottom of this post, courtesy of their Bandcamp. Check it out if you need to clear your sinuses.

Info from the PR wire:

horsehunter self-titled

Horsehunter – Horsehunter (New Album March 2, 2019)

Album 2 from Melbourne’s legendary doom metal heroes, Horsehunter. An unforgiving follow up to 2015’s critically acclaimed debut, Caged in Flesh. This S/T album comes equipped again, with massive tones and a lumbering vibe along with an underlying hypnotic bleak psychedelia throughout . For fans of High on Fire, Sleep and Baroness, Available 3/2/2019 on Magnetic Eye Records MER077

Artwork by Jesse Webb

Produced and Engineered by Tigglyfuzz Kokiri (the producer formerly known as Tigran Fuzzmeister)

Co-Engineered by Jon McNichol
Recorded live at Twin Earth Studios, Adelaide.
Overdubbed in various locations around Australia.

Tracklisting:
1. Horsehunter – Nuclear Rapture
2. Horsehunter – the Savage
3. Horsehunter – Bring out Yer Dead
4. Horsehunter – Collapse

Horsehunter was:
Dan Harris – Guitar
Michael Harutyunyan – Guitar & Vocals
Himiona Stringer – Bass Guitar
Nick Cron – Drums

horsehunter.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/officialhorseHunter
youtube.com/officialhorsehunter
soundcloud.com/officialhorsehunter
@horsehunterisdead
merhq.com
facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords
store.merhq.com
twitter.com/magnetic_eye

Horsehunter, Horsehunter (2019)

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Saint Vitus Announce Self-Titled LP out May 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

saint vitus

Saint Vitus have never been much for following the rules, so hey, 35 years after making an absolute doom metal landmark in their 1984 self-titled debut, why not put out a new, also-self-titled album with original vocalist Scott Reagers back in the band? Season of Mist, which has been the band’s label home since their 2012 comebacker, Lillie: F-65 (review here), will stand behind the new offering — recorded, like its predecessor, by Tony Reed — and the band will support it on a month-long European tour beginning in April, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the band.

They’re streaming the track “12 Years in the Tomb” right now and as you can hear at the bottom of this post, the deranged style of founding guitarist Dave Chandler and Reagers‘ vocals sound like long lost friends finding each other after years apart. And so they are.

Album’s out May 17. Preorders are up now from the label, which posted the following:

saint vitus saint vitus

Saint Vitus – Saint Vitus

Taken from the album “Saint Vitus”. Release date: May 17, 2019. Order here: http://smarturl.it/SaintVitusShop

Seven years after their epic comeback album, ‘Lillie: F-65’ (2012), legendary doom metal trailblazers SAINT VITUS return with their eponymous new album. The band sees the return of their original vocalist, Scott Reagers, as well as the addition of new bassist Pat Bruders (DOWN, ex-CROWBAR), who join long-time drummer Henry Vasquez and founder/guitarist Dave Chandler. As if in a time machine, the seasoned quartet pick up where their 1985 classic ‘Hallows Victim’ left off. Saint Vitus delivers nothing less than the truest and most enduring representation of original and fundamental doom metal.

Tracklisting:
1. Remains
2. A Prelude to…
3. Bloodshed
4. 12 Years In The Tomb
5. Wormhole
6. Hour Glass
7. City Park
8. Last Breath
9. Useless

Recording: Heavyhead Recording co. Port Orchard, WA (US)
Producer/sound engineer: Tony Reed

SAINT VITUS ’40 F’N Years’ European Tour 2019:
w/ special guest Dopelord unless noted
Apr 3 Gothenburg (SE) @ Sticky Fingers
Apr 4 Stockholm (SE) @ Debaser Strand
Apr 6 Jyväskylä (FI) @ Lutakko
Apr 7 Helsinki (FI) @ On The Rocks
Apr 9 Oslo (NO) @ Blaa
Apr 10 Copenhagen (DK) @ Pumpehuset
Apr 11 Berlin (DE) @ So36
Apr 12 Hamburg (DE) @ Headcrash
Apr 13 Bomal-Sur-Ourthe (BE) @ Durbuy Rock Festival
Apr 14 Dortmund (DE) @ Junkyard
Apr 15 Cologne (DE) @ Luxor
Apr 17 Birmingham (UK) @ Mama Roux
Apr 18 Leeds (UK) @ Brudenell
Apr 19 Glasgow (UK) @ Audio
Apr 20 London (UK) @ The Underworld Camden
Apr 21 Paris (FR) @ Petit Bain
Apr 23 Nantes (FR) @ Le Ferrailleur
Apr 24 Toulouse (FR) @ Le Rex
Apr 25 Barcelona (ES) @ Boveda
Apr 26 Madrid (ES) @ Copernico
Apr 27 Barroselas (PT) @ Swr Metalfest
Apr 28 Bilbao (ES) Kafé @ Antzokia
Apr 20 Fribourg (CH) @ Fri-Son*
May 1 Milan (IT) Circolo @ Circolo Magnolia
May 2 Zurich (CH) @ Dynamo*
May 3 Karlsruhe (DE) @ Dudefest
May 4 Leipzig (DE) @ Ut Connewitz
*No Dopelord

BAND LINE-UP:
David Chandler (guitar)
Scott Reagers (vocals)
Henry Vasquez (drums)
Pat Bruders (bass)

https://www.facebook.com/saintvitusofficial
https://twitter.com/saintvitusband
http://saint-vitus.tumblr.com/
http://www.saintvitusband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial
https://www.twitter.com/seasonofmist
http://instagram.com/seasonofmistofficial
http://www.season-of-mist.com/

Saint Vitus, “12 Years in the Tomb”

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