Friday Full-Length: Stubb, Stubb

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

If you want to Professional Dissertation Writers online, find us and feel confident presenting your work! Writing your coursework can make you think again about writing it Stubb did not emerge out of London’s heavy underground as a band trying to keep secrets. There was no asking how they did what they did on their 2012 self-titled debut (review here) — it was all right there for the listener to hear. Issued through Read 175 customer reviews of the see here now - www.assignmentexpert.com & compare with other Education Websites at Review Centre Superhot Records, Professional Promoting Critical Thinking for All Content Writing Requirements Stubb‘s GET MONEY FOR WRITING. If you are young aspiring writer and have been dreaming to eventually Help With A Thesis Statement For A Research Paper then there are many possible career directions you can go. It takes interest, creativity, determination and passion. Visit our site to check in with amazing expert tips about transitioning from a student to becoming a great writer. Stubb collected eight tracks of just-varied-enough riff rockers, driven by a dense fuzz and hooky songwriting that unfolded to some later jamminess. As debuts go, the eight-song/35-minute outing was not void of ambition, but it was what it already showcased in its dynamic that made it so enjoyable, whether it was the PG-sleaze of “Soul Mover” and “Scale the Mountain” with its “And I hope I can scale your mountain sometime” chorus and “Hard Hearted Woman” in the classic panacea of British heavy or the opening pusher “Road,” the winding boogie of “Flame” and on and on. Happening concurrent to the beginning stages of a boom in UK heavy fostered by dissertation articles blog link Search dissertation on evaluation of training homework help american government Desertfest in London, follow link, buy pgce essays, essay writing service cheapest | Complete set of services for students of all levels including academic Stubb‘s laid-back but still weighted grooves, the interplay on vocals between guitarist Enjoy professional writing options offered at our Essay Helper 24/7. Order your paper now or use one of the samples offered for free. Jack Dickinson and bassist/vocalist Buy more online at CheapPaperWriters.com. Our professional writers are ready to help you with any kind of custom essay. Peter Holland (who went on to join One tool is enough to track issues & release great software. Try Jira for free. Fancy finding the How To Write Proposal Essay writing, which is capable of Elephant Tree) and the solid foundation of the established chemistry between antique carters typewriter ribbon and carbon paper cabinet box - Forget about those sleepless nights working on your report with our academic writing assistance If you want to find out how to Holland and drummer writinga z com college app essay help where can i get help with homework essay writing my dream car Chris West from working together in Sample Action Research Proposal - Entrust your essay to us and we will do our best for you Use from our inexpensive custom dissertation writing service and benefit from Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight helped to enrich the songs and give the record all the more personality.

Tempos shift through side A’s four tracks, but the songs are united through the vitality of the performance, the tried and true power trio dynamic that lets Where can you find the cheapest proofreading. There are websites that will offer to Dissertation Ionesco La Lecon for free, but what they really mean is that they will Dickinson‘s guitar get playful on “Road” before the more relaxed rollout of “Scale the Mountain.” To contrast, side B starts with the acoustic “Crosses You Bear,” still catchy and deceptively quick-moving in the guitar, but at just over two minutes, it’s enough to efficiently signal the increase in the album’s scope and the departure from the ultra-straightforward shove of  boys state essay help Princeton Service Essay works cited essay cv writing service huddersfield Stubb‘s first half. The album was recorded by simple essay writing Writing A Application Letter 0f write an essay on my room help on dissertation james bond Tim Cedar of Part Chimp, and though “Road,” “Flame” and “Galloping Horses” had appeared on Stubb‘s Dropout Sessions demo in 2007 — a completely different lineup around Dickinson at the time — they each sounded fresh in their inclusion on Stubb, the latter closing out side B with a stretch past the seven-minute mark that found the band purposefully breaking their own rules in terms of craft, setting up a catchy progression of repeated lines early — “The skies stubb stubbare crimson red,” “Ride on high/Crimson sky” — before turning just about at the halfway point to a broader jam. There’s a stop preceded by West wailing on his snare, and Dickinson‘s guitar returns in standalone fashion to set the stage. Holland and West reenter and by the time they hit 4:30 of the total 7:13, they’re underway and headed outward. Dickinson — who by then has already impressed in terms of soloing on “Road,” “Flame,” “Soul Mover,” the bluesy drift that emerges in “Hard Hearted Woman,” and even the melancholy penultimate inclusion “Crying River,” on which the guitar seems most to sing the chorus on its own — leads the trio’s exodus as Holland and West offer sharp but not overblown groove coinciding. A brief return hinting at the hook finishes out, and Stubb finish out with a crash and a bonk like they hardly got a speck of dirt on them despite kicking up so much on their way.

2012 saw a few landmark releases, from Conan‘s Monnos and Orange Goblin‘s A Eulogy for the Damned in the UK to records from the likes of OmNeurosisKadavarGreenleaf and Colour Haze elsewhere. Through that glut, Stubb still managed to make an impression with these songs, and again, it wasn’t a mystery why. They represented a next generation of English fuzz that, far from trying to escape the past, embraced it and pushed it forward into a new era. In some ways they were a vanguard of things to come from London’s soon-to-be-flooded underground, but while there was a buzz in the town at that time, it’s friggin’ London. There almost always is. In any case, the fact that Stubb had already toured — they did a UK stint in 2011 with Stone Axe, whose guitarist Tony Reed (soon enough to reignite Mos Generator) would end up mixing and mastering the LP — undoubtedly had an effect on how the songs ultimately came out. They feel tightened and worked through in their construction even eight years after the fact, but maintain their natural base, and the clarity of the recording only helps the organic guitar and bass tones shine through with the drums punctuating underneath. Stubb were the kind of band a kid could listen to and want to start a band, and I suspect a few did along the way.

Stubb toured again with Stone Axe  and Trippy Wicked — Holland and West pulling double-duty — in Europe, and I was fortunate enough to see them in Eindhoven (review here). What a night. What a blast. Hard to think about it now and not get sentimental. In any case, Stubb went on to sign to Ripple Music ahead of the release of their second album, 2014’s Cry of the Ocean (review here), which incorporated more soulful influence and psychedelic range. By then, Tom Fyfe (now also The Brothers Keg) had replaced West on drums and a split with Mos Generator (discussed here) followed in 2015 through the then-emergent-since-collapsed HeviSike Records. Stubb continued to play shows, bringing Tom Hobson in on bass and exploring jammier and more psychedelic textures on the 24-minute 2017 single “Burning Moon” (premiered here). That blowout is the last they were heard from in terms of studio work, though they played Ripplefest in London and have maintained a social media presence all along. The latest is they’re passing ideas back and forth digitally during COVID-19 distancing, so perhaps a new album could follow in the next year or two. Cry of the Ocean hardly sounded like a band with nothing left to say, so whenever such a thing might surface, it would only be welcome on these shores.

An album that, for me at least, is a bit of an escape into nostalgia, but which has not at all gone stale in the actual listening. As always, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks for reading.

So, we got a dog. A Wheaten/Poodle mix. She’s eight weeks old as of today — bought her from a family in Wisconsin who had a litter; my mother-in-law trekked out there to get her — and we’ve named her Iommi, though she mostly just goes by Omi. “Omi come,” “Omi sit,” “Omi don’t chew that,” “Omi no!” “Good girl, Omi,” and so on. She is currently asleep and dream-wiggling on my feet.

Kid and dog together is a lot. Either on their own is plenty, to be honest. I’m not sure The Pecan is in an emotional place where he’s ready to share things like attention with something new — it’s like he got a little sister — but it is what it is, and unless the dog starts showing crazy aggression, which seems unlikely given what we’ve seen of her personality this first week, I don’t think she’s going anywhere.

I wasn’t really ready for a new dog either, to be honest. I thanked my wife this week for picking one that was all-black, as opposed to the still-much-missed Dio, who was just about all-white. But behavior comparisons are inevitable; puppies, like people, engage in certain universal behaviors. I catch myself playing with her a certain way or talking to her a certain way and feel a bit like I’m cheating on the memory of my old dog. Which I suppose I am, if you want to come right to it. Isn’t that what you do when a dog dies and you get another dog, like some broken toy you replace?

What a species we are.

But it’s been nearly two years and the boy needs a dog — the one overriding point with which I can’t argue and, ultimately, the reason we have a dog — so there it is. She’s cute, as nearly almost all puppies and baby animals are. It’s a transition. Everything is change. Constant change. Every new reality, every new ability The Pecan demonstrates, it’s all a new world to which my puny hew-mon brain stumbles in processing.

We picked him up from daycare yesterday and while we were changing his shoes to leave — they put them in slippers to hang out — he pulled the fire alarm. I was holding him at the time, and he just looked up, saw a thing, reached up and pulled it. The bell was right above us and it was loud the way you think of Sunn O))) as loud. It was also naptime, so as caregivers rushed out of the adjoining rooms to see what the hell happened and/or what was on fire, an entire daycare’s worth of kids and babies woke up crying. That’s my son. I feel relatively sure that, having done it once, he’ll try it again. I can only hope a plastic box of some kind is placed over the fire alarm.

“He’s not the first,” said the woman who runs the place. I told her that was very comforting and kind of her to say. I said this while wearing a mask that, sadly, could not hide the shame in my eyes.

By the end of the day, it was already kind of funny. I suspect in years to come it will grow more so. But off, living through it was a rough and loud couple minutes. Then The Pecan ran away from us on our way out to the car. He was overwhelmed — obviously; we all were — but still totally unacceptable. That was another meltdown that basically ended with driving home and putting him down for his afternoon nap.

The dog is awake and puppy-chewing my toes. “Omi no biting.”

You can see perhaps why I might have been driven toward a nostalgia for simpler times in picking Stubb to close out the week.

No Gimme show today. Back next week with a new one.

Have a great and safe weekend, and again, thanks for reading. Be safe, have fun. And don’t tell anybody, but I’m going to have another post up after this.

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Revisiting the Top 20 of 2012

Posted in Features on June 27th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

They always say you there’s no going back. I don’t know who they are, but they’re right. As I searched back through posts to find the Top 20 of 2012, I realized it had been way too long since I heard some of these records. It’s so easy to get caught up with what’s current and what’s coming next that sometimes I forget to actually listen to albums I already enjoyed. That happened a couple times along the way.

When a year ends and the lists start coming out, it’s like records as numbered, stocked and then forgotten. I guess I’m guilty of it too. With that in mind, here’s a quick revisit to what I had as my favorites of 2012:

The Top 20 of 2012 Revisited

20. Mos Generator, Nomads
I can’t even look at this album cover without hearing the chorus to “Lonely One Kenobi” play in my head. Still a sentimental favorite.

19. Golden Void, Golden Void
Haven’t put it on in a while, but probably should.

18. Wight, Through the Woods into Deep Water
Ditto. This record was great and if I made the list today, it would probably be higher than it is here.

17. Lord Fowl, Moon Queen
Didn’t I start this week off with Moon Queen? Well, I guess it’s pretty fresh on my mind.

16. Pallbearer, Sorrow and Extinction
I’ve seen them three times so far this year and they’ve delivered each time, but haven’t put on the album itself in a while. Still looking forward to new stuff though.

15. Kadavar, Kadavar
I think I’ve had more fascinating conversations about Kadavar than any other band in the last year. So many opinions, so widely varied. I dig the self-titled, will probably have the follow-up on my list at the end of 2013. Nuclear Blast needs to bring them over to tour, maybe opening for Witchcraft?

14. Stubb, Stubb
Yay fuzz! Catchy songs, easy formula, well structured and impeccably performed.My favorite straight-up heavy rock record of 2012.

13. Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Damned
Hard to fuck with these dudes. The production here was a presence, but the songs still hold up.

12. Ararat, II
No shit, I live in terror of having Ararat release their third album and missing it. Like all of a sudden the album will have been out for three months and I’d have no idea.

11. Ufomammut, Oro
Haven’t listened to Opus Primum or Opus Alter since. Can’t help but think if Oro was released as one record, I’d put it on from time to time.

10. Conan, Monnos
I put this in the top 10 for a reason. Because it’s fucking ridiculously heavy. I stand by my reasoning. Looking forward to their new one.

9. My Sleeping Karma, Soma
An album I couldn’t manage to put down even when I wanted to, and one I still pick up from time to time. Glad I finally gave in an bought a copy to get away from the shitty digital promo version.

8. Graveyard, Lights Out
Maybe I burnt myself out on this? I went on a binge after their show in January for a bit and then put Lights Out away and that was that.

7. Saint Vitus, Lillie: F-65
Every time I’m in a record store, flip through the Vitus selection and see my quote on the sticker on the front of the jewel case of Lillie: F-65, I feel like an entire decade of shitty career decisions is justified. No bullshit.

6. Ancestors, In Dreams and Time
Brilliant. Mostly brilliant for closer “First Light,” but that song was brilliant enough to get this spot on the list anyway.

5. High on Fire, De Vermis Mysteriis
Hard to argue with its intensity. Not much staying power as I would’ve thought, but god damn that’s a heavy record.

4. Neurosis, Honor Found in Decay
An overwhelming listen. I have to prepare my head for putting it on, but I continue to find it worth the effort.

3. Greenleaf, Nest of Vipers
It was the highlight of my year last year to see this material live. Greenleaf have a new lineup now and another album in the works, but if Nest of Vipersis how the last one was going out, they killed it.

2. Om, Advaitic Songs
Sometimes I fantasize about living in a temple where I wake up and Advaitic Songs is playing every day. That is 100 percent true.

1. Colour Haze, She Said
I’d probably listen to it even more if it was on one CD, but god damn, this record is amazing. Another one that’s kind of overwhelming, but it gets regular play as I expect it will continue to do into perpetuity.

All in all, pretty great year. Some stuff that’s fallen by the wayside, but a few landmarks as well that have carried over, and more importantly, some that seem like they’ll continue to carry over and grow in appeal as more time passes. Wight should’ve been higher on the list, but other than that, I’ll take it.

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 of 2012

Posted in Features on December 20th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Please note: This list is my personal picks, not the Readers Poll, which is ongoing — if you haven’t added your list yet, please do.

As ever, I’ve kept a Post-It note on my wall all year long, and as the weeks and months have ticked away, I’ve added names of bands to it in preparation for putting together my Top 20 of 2012. There was a glut of excellent material this year, and I know for a fact I didn’t hear everything, but from bold forays into new sonic territory to triumphant returns to startling debuts, 2012 simply astounded. Even as I type this, I’m getting emails about new, exciting releases. It’s enough to make you lose your breath.

Before we get down to it and start in with the numbers, the hyperbole, etc., I want to underscore the point that this list is mine. I made it. It’s not the Readers Poll results, which will be out early in January. It’s based on how I hear things, how much I listened to each of these records, the impressions they left on me — critical opinion enters into it, because whether or not I want to I can’t help but consider things on that level when I listen to a new album these days — but it’s just as much about what I put on when I wanted to hear a band kick ass as it is about which records carried the most critical significance or import within their respective genres.

With that caveat in mind, let’s do this thing:

20. Mos Generator, Nomads

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Sept. 7

Over the last couple years, I’ve come to think of the #20 spot as where I put my sentimental favorite. That was the case with Suplecs last year, and in 2012, the return of Mos Generator earns the spot. The band being led by guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed, Nomads marked a rehifting of Reed‘s priorities from Stone Axe, with whom he’d proffered ’70s worship for several years prior, and wound up as a collection of some of my favorite heavy rock songs of 2012 — tracks like “Cosmic Ark,” “Torches” and “Lonely One Kenobi” were as strong in their hooks as they were thorough in their lack of pretense. But the bottom line is I’m a nerd for Reed‘s songwriting, playing and production (more on that to come), and at this point it’s not really something I can even pretend to judge impartially. Still, the record’s friggin’ awesome and you should hear it as soon as you can.

19. Golden Void, Golden Void

Released by Thrill Jockey. Reviewed Nov. 20.

Seems like it would make sense to say Golden Void would be higher on the list if I’d spent more time with it — written up just a month ago, it’s the most recent review here — but the fact is I’ve sat with Golden Void‘s self-titled debut a lot over the course of the last month-plus, and I’ve been digging the hell out of it. Really, the only reason it’s not further up is because I don’t feel like I have distance enough from it to judge how it holds up over a longer haul, but either way, the Isaiah Mitchell-led outfit’s blend of heavy psych, driving classic rock and retro style gave some hope for beefing up the US’ take on ’70s swagger — usually left to indie bands who, well, suck at it — and also showed Mitchell as a more than capable vocalist where those who knew him from his work in Earthless may only have experienced his instrumental side. A stellar debut, a wonderful surprise, and a band I can’t wait to hear more from in the years to come.

18. Wight, Through the Woods into Deep Water

Released by Fat & Holy/Bilocation. Reviewed Aug. 3.

This was basically the soundtrack to my summer. From the catch-you-off-guard aggression in opener “I Spit on Your Grave” to the extended stoneralia of “Master of Nuggets” and the jammy “Southern Comfort and Northern Lights,” the follow-up to Wight‘s self-produced debut Wight Weedy Wight (review here) showed an astonishing amount of growth, and though it had the laid back, loose feel that distinguishes the best of current European heavy psych, Through the Woods into Deep Water was also coherent, cohesive and impeccably structured. I thought it was one of the year’s strongest albums when it was released, and its appeal has only endured — as much as I listened to it when it was warm over the summer, now in December I put it on wishing the temperature would change to match. The songs showed remarkable potential from the German three-piece and cast them in an entirely different light than did their first out. Really looking forward to where they might go from here, but in the meantime, I’m nowhere near done with Through the Woods into Deep Water yet.

17. Lord Fowl, Moon Queen

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed Aug. 29.

“Oh, Moon Queen! Flyin’ down the world on a moonbeam!” Somehow the first lines of the opening title-track to Lord Fowl‘s Moon Queen always seem to wind up stuck in my head. The Connecticut foursome made their debut on Small Stone with the loosely thematic full-length, and touched on a sense of unabashedly grandiose ’70s heavy rock in the process. That said, Moon Queen wasn’t shooting for retro in the slightest — rather, guitarist/vocalists Vechel Jaynes and Mike Pellegrino fronted the band’s classic sensibilities with a wholly modern edge, like something out of an alternate dimension where rock never started to suck. The classic metal guitar in “Streets of Evermore” and the swaying groove from bassist Jon Conine and drummer Don Freeman under the wandering leads of “Hollow Horn” made Moon Queen more stylistically diverse than it might otherwise have been, but at its core, it was a collection of stellar heavy rock songs, unashamed of its hooks and unafraid to put its passions front and center. They packed a lot into a 47-minute runtime, but I’ve yet to dig into Moon Queen and regret having pressed play. Another band to watch out for.

16. Pallbearer, Sorrow and Extinction

Released by Profound Lore. Reviewed Feb. 14.

It was impossible not to be swept up in the hype surrounding Pallbearer‘s Profound Lore debut, but one listen to Sorrow and Extinction and it was clear that its resounding praise was well earned. By blending thickened psychedelic tonality and emotionally resonant melodies, the Little Rock, Arkansas, four-piece concocted the single most important American doom release of the year. Their efforts did not go unnoticed, and as they supported the album on tour, the swell of the crowds spoke to the right-idea-right-time moment they were able to capture in songs like the stunning “An Offering of Grief” and “The Legend.” There’s room for growth — I wouldn’t be surprised to find guitarist Brett Campbell‘s vocal range greatly developed next time out — but Pallbearer have already left a mark on doom, and if they can keep the momentum going into wherever they go from here, it won’t be long before they’re being cited as having a significant impact on the genre and influencing others in their wake.

15. Kadavar, Kadavar

Released by Tee Pee. Track streamed July 9.

I already singled out Kadavar‘s Kadavar as the 2012 Debut of the Year, so if you need any sense of the reverence I think the German trio earned, take whatever you will from that. There really isn’t much to add — though I could nerd out about Kadavar‘s ultra-effective retroisms all day if you’re up for it — but something I haven’t really touched on yet about the record: When I was out in Philly last weekend, the DJ cleverly mixed Kadavar into a set of early ’70s jams, and it was all but indistinguishable in sound from the actual classics. That in itself is an achievement, but Kadavar‘s level of craft also stands them out among their modern peers, and it was drummer Tiger‘s snare sound that I first recognized in “All Our Thoughts,” so right down to the most intricate details, Kadavar‘s Kadavar was a gripping and enticing affair that proved there’s still ground to cover in proto-heavy worship.

14. Stubb, Stubb

Released by Superhot Records. Reviewed Feb. 2.

The fuzz was great — don’t get me wrong, I loved the fuzz — but with Stubb‘s Stubb, it was even more about the songs themselves. Whether it was the interplay between guitarist Jack Dickinson and bassist Peter Holland (also of Trippy Wicked) on vocals for the chorus of “Scale the Mountain” or the thickened shuffle in “Soul Mover” punctuated by drummer Chris West‘s (also Trippy Wicked and Groan) ever-ready fills, there wasn’t a clunker in the bunch, and though it’s an album I’ve basically been hearing since the beginning of the year, its appeal has endured throughout and I still find myself going back to it where many others have already been forgotten. With the acoustic “Crosses You Bear” and more laid-bare emotionality of “Crying River,” Stubb showed there was more them than excellence of tone and with the seven-minute finale “Galloping Horses,” they showed they were ready to jam with the best. Truly memorable songs — and also one of the live highlights of my year.

13. Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Damned

Released by Candlelight Records. Reviewed Dec. 15, 2011.

Orange Goblin‘s purpose seemed reborn on their seventh album and Candlelight Records debut, A Eulogy for the Damned. Culling the best elements from their last couple albums, 2007’s Healing Through Fire and 2004’s Thieving from the House of God, the long-running London troublemakers upped the production value and seemed bent from the start on taking hold of the day’s sympathy toward their brand of heavy. With tales of alcoholic regret, classic horrors and a bit of cosmic exploration for good measure, they marked their ascent to the top of the British scene and took well to the role of statesmen, headlining Desertfest and proceeding to smash audiences to pieces around the continent at fests and on tours. Look for them to do the same when they bring the show Stateside in 2013 with Clutch. Their plunder is well earned, and I still rarely go 48 hours without hearing the bridge of “The Fog” in my head. Can’t wait to see them again.

12. Ararat, II

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed March 28.

While I still miss Los Natas, my grief for their passing has been much eased over the last two years by frontman Sergio Chotsourian‘s doomier explorations in Ararat. The first album, 2009’s Musica de la Resistencia (review here), ran concurrent to Los Natas‘ swansong, Nuevo Orden de la Libertad, but with II, the new three-piece came into their own, setting space rock synth against low-end sprawl, thick drumming and Chotsourian‘s penchant for experimenting with structure. Extended tracks “Caballos” and “La Ira del Dragon (Uno)” were positively encompassing, and showed Ararat not only as a distinct entity from Los Natas, but a turn stylistically for Chotsourian into elephantine plod, wide-open atmospherics and a likewise expansive creative sensibility. The acoustic “El Inmigrante” and piano-led “Atenas” offered sonic diversity while enriching the mood, and closer “Tres de Mayo” hinted at some of the melding of the various sides that might be in store in Ararat‘s future. If the jump from the first record to the second is any indicator, expect something expansive and huge to come.

11. Ufomammut, Oro

Released by Neurot. Reviewed April 3 & Aug. 16.

Italian cosmic doom meganauts Ufomammut outdid themselves yet again with Oro, breaking up a single full-length into two separate releases, Oro: Opus Primum and Oro: Opus Alter. But the album — which I’ve decided to list as the single entity Oro rather than its two component parts basically to save myself some brain space — was more than just big in terms of its runtime. More importantly, Ufomammut were able to hold firm to their commitment to stylistic growth, drawing on their greatest triumph yet, 2010’s Eve (review here), the trio pushed themselves even further on their Neurot Recordings debut, resulting in an album worthy of the legacy of those releasing it. I don’t know if Oro will come to define Ufomammut as Eve already seems to have — dividing it as they did may have made it harder for listeners to grasp it as a single piece — but it shows that there’s simply no scaring the band out of themselves. Brilliantly tied together around a central progression that showed up in “Empireum” from Opus Primum and “Sublime” on Opus Alter, I have the feeling Ufomammut will probably have another album out before Oro‘s breadth has fully set in.

 10. Conan, Monnos

Released by Burning World/Gravedancer. Reviewed March 1.

Behold the standard bearers of heavy. It wasn’t long after hearing UK trio Conan for the first time that I began using them as a touchstone to see how other bands stacked up, and to be honest, almost no one has. Led by the inimitable lumber provided by the tone of guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis (interview here), Conan stripped down their approach for Monnos, returning to Foel Studio in Wales to work with producer Chris Fielding — who’d also helmed their 2010 Horseback Battle Hammer EP — and the resulting effort was both trim and humongous. Early tracks like “Hawk as Weapon,” “Battle in the Swamp” (an old demo given new life) and “Grim Tormentor” actually managed to be catchy as well as sonically looming, and the more extended closing duo of “Headless Hunter” and “Invincible Throne” showed that Conan could both use their tone to build forward momentum and plod their way into ultra-slow, ultra-grim despairing nothingness. Monnos affirmed Conan as one of the most pivotal acts in doom, and with new material and a home studio reportedly in the works, as well as further European touring on the docket for early 2013, their onslaught shows no signs of letting up. Right fucking on.

9. My Sleeping Karma, Soma

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 6.

In some ways, it seems like the easiest thing in the world, but with My Sleeping Karma‘s fourth full-length, Soma, it really was just a question of a band taking their sound to a completely new level. The German heavy psych instrumentalists brought forth the sweetness of tone their guitars have harnessed over the course of their three prior offerings, but the progressive keyboard flourishes, the warmth in the bass, the tight pop of the drums — it all clicked on Soma in a way that the other records hinted was possible and made the album the payoff to the four-piece’s long-established potential. Wrapped around the titular theme of a drink of the gods and with its tracks spaced out by varying ambient interludes, no moment on the album felt like it wasn’t serving the greater purpose of the whole, and the whole proved to be a worthy purpose indeed. Hands down my favorite instrumental release of the year and an effort that pushed My Sleeping Karma to the front of the pack in the crowded European heavy psych scene.

8. Graveyard, Lights Out

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 11.

The damnedest thing happens every time I turn on Graveyard‘s third album, Lights Out, in that before I’m halfway through opener “An Industry of Murder,” I have to turn it up. The reigning kings of Swedish retro heavy wasted no time following up 2011’s stunning sophomore outing, Hisingen Blues (review here), and with the four-year gap between their self-titled debut and the second record, it was a surprise from the moment it was announced, but more than that, Lights Out showed remarkable development in Graveyard‘s sound, offering elements of classic soul on songs like “Slow Motion Coundown” and “Hard Times Lovin'” to stand alongside the brash rock and roll of “Seven Seven” or the irresistible hook provided by “The Suits, the Law and the Uniforms” or the single “Goliath.” A landmark vocal performance from guitarist Joakim Nilsson and newly surfaced political bent to the lyrics hinted that Graveyard were nowhere near done growing, but seriously, if they put out four or five more records in the vein of Lights Out, I doubt there’d be too many complaints. Already one can hear the influence they’ve had on European heavy rock, and Lights Out isn’t likely to slow that process in the slightest.

7. Saint Vitus, Lillie: F-65

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed March 26.

Three drum hits and then the lurching “Let Them Fall” — the leadoff track on the first Saint Vitus studio album since 1995 — is underway, and it’s exactly that lack of pomp, that lack of pretense, that makes Lillie: F-65 so righteous. Admittedly, it’s a reunion album. They toured for a couple years playing old material, then finally decided to settle in and let guitarist Dave Chandler (interview here) start coming up with a batch of songs, but you can’t argue with the results. They nailed it. With Tony Reed‘s perfect production (discussed here), Vitus captured the classic tonality in Chandler‘s guitar and Mark Adams‘ bass and kept to their sans-bullshit ethic: A short, 33-minute album that leaves their audience wondering where the hell that assault of noise just came from. Scott “Wino” Weinrich‘s presence up front was unmistakable with Chandler‘s punkish, no-frills lyrics (as well as his own on “Blessed Night,” the first song they wrote for the album), and drummer Henry Vasquez not only filled the shoes of the late Armando Acosta but established his own persona behind the kit. I hope it’s not their last record, but if it is, Saint Vitus came into and left Lillie: F-65 as doom legends, and their work remains timeless.

6. Ancestors, In Dreams and Time

Released by Tee Pee. Reviewed March 23.

Talk about a band who shirked expectation. Guitarist/vocalist Justin Maranga and I discussed that aspect of Ancestors a bit in an interview over the summer, but it’s worth underscoring. There was next to nothing in either of Ancestors‘ first two albums to hint at where they’d go with the third. Both Neptune with Fire and Of Sound Mind (review here) were rousing, riff-led efforts that headed toward a particular heavy sensibility, but it was with last year’s Invisible White EP (review here) that the L.A. outfit began to show the progressive direction they were heading. And In Dreams and Time is even a departure from that! It’s kind of a departure from reality as well, with the Moog/organ/synth mesh from Matt Barks and Jason Watkins (also vocals), dreamy basslines from Nick Long and hold-it-all-together drumming of Jamie Miller — since out of the band. Closer “First Light” was my pick for song of the year, and had the album been comprised of that track along, it’d probably still be on this list somewhere, but with the complement given to it by the piano sprawl of “On the Wind” and driving riffs and vocal interplay of “Correyvreckan” (if you haven’t heard Long‘s bass on the latter as well, you should), there was little left to question that this was the strongest Ancestors release of their career to date and hopefully the beginning of a new era in their sound. They’ve never been what people wanted them to be, but I for one like not knowing what to expect before it shows up, at least where these guys are concerned.

5. High on Fire, De Vermis Mysteriis

Released by E1 Music. Reviewed March 12.

After what I saw as a lackluster production for 2010’s Snakes for the Divine, Oakland, CA, trio High on Fire aligned themselves with producer Kurt Ballou (Converge) for De Vermis Mysteriis and completely renewed the vitality in their attack. Built on the insistence of “Bloody Knuckles,” furious fuckall of “Fertile Green,” unmitigated piracy of “Serums of Laio” and eerie crawl in “King of Days,” De Vermis Mysteriis was both aggressive in High on Fire‘s raid-your-brain-for-THC tradition and extreme in ways they’ve never been before. Groovers like the instrumental “Samsara” and earlier “Madness of an Architect” offered bombast where the thrash may have relented, while “Spiritual Rites” proved that guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike (also Sleep; interview here), bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Des Kensell had arrived at a new threshold of speed and intensity. Whatever personal issues may have been in play at the time, High on Fire delivered a blistering full-length that stands up to and in many ways surpasses any prior viciousness in their catalog, and their level of performance on their current tour makes it plain to see that the band is ready for ascendency to the heights of metal. They are conquerors to the last, and if De Vermis Mysteriis is what I get for wavering, then I’ll consider my lesson hammered home in every second of feedback, tom thud and grueling second of distortion topped with Pike‘s signature growl.

4. Neurosis, Honor Found in Decay

Released by Neurot. Reviewed Sept. 21.

When I interviewed interviewed Steve Von Till about Honor Found in Decay, the Neurosis guitarist/vocalist called the band “a chaos process” in reference to their songwriting. I have no trouble believing that, because while Neurosis stand among the most influential heavy metal bands of their generation — having had as much of an effect on what’s come after them as, say, Meshuggah or Sleep, while also having little sonically in common with either of them — it’s also nearly impossible to pinpoint one aspect of their sound that defines them. The churning rhythms in the riffing of Von Till and his fellow frontman, guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly (interview here), Dave Edwardson‘s intensity on bass and periodic vocal, the assured percussive creativity of Jason Roeder and the experimental edge brought to bear in Noah Landis‘ synth and sampling all prove to be essential elements of the whole. On Honor Found in Decay — and this isn’t to take away anything from any other particular member’s songwriting contributions — it would be Landis standing out with his greatest contributions yet, becoming as much a defining element in songs like “At the Well,” “Bleeding the Pigs” and “Casting of the Ages” as either Kelly or Von Till‘s guitars. Had I never seen the band before, I’d have a hard time believing Honor Found in Decay could possibly be representative of their live sound, but they are every bit as crushing, as oppressive and as emotionally visceral on stage — if not more so — as they are on the album, and while their legacy has long since been set among the most important heavy acts ever, period, as they climb closer to the 30-year mark (they’ll get there in 2015), Neurosis continue to refuse to bow to what’s expected of them or write material that doesn’t further their decades-long progression. They are worthy of every homage paid them, and more.

3. Greenleaf, Nest of Vipers

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed Feb. 28.

It’s hard for me to properly convey just how happy listening to Greenleaf‘s Nest of Vipers makes me, and I’ve got several false starts already deleted to prove it. The Swedish supergroup of vocalist Oskar Cedermalm (Truckfighters), guitarists Tommi Holappa and Johan Rockner (both Dozer), bassist Bengt Bäcke (engineer for Dozer, Demon Cleaner, etc.) and drummer Olle Mårthans (Dozer) last released an album in 2007. That was Agents of Ahriman, which was one of my favorite albums of the last decade. No shit. Not year, decade. With a slightly revamped lineup and Dozer‘s maybe-final album, 2008’s Beyond Colossal, and the never-got-off-the-ground side-project Dahli between, Nest of Vipers landed this past winter and with the shared membership, Karl Daniel Lidén production and consistency of songwriting from Holappa (interview here), I immediately saw it as a sequel to the last Dozer, but really it goes well beyond that. Tracks like “Dreamcatcher,” “Case of Fidelity,” “The Timeline’s History” and soaring opener “Jack Staff” show that although they’d never really toured to that point and been through various lineups over the years, Greenleaf was nonetheless an entity unto its own. Cedermalm‘s vocals were a triumph, Mårthans‘ drumming unhinged and yet grounded, and guest appearances from organist Per Wiberg and vocalists Peder Bergstrand (Lowrider/I are Droid) and Fredrik Nordin (Dozer) only enriched the album for repeat listens, which I’m thrilled to say it gets to this very day. If I called it a worthy successor both to Dozer and to Agents of Ahriman, those words alone would probably fall short of conveying quite how much that means on a personal level, so let its placement stand as testimony instead. This is one I’ll be enjoying for years to come, and when I’m done writing this feature, this is the one I’m gonna put back on to listen through again. It has been, and no doubt will continue to be, a constant.

2. Om, Advaitic Songs

Released by Drag City. Reviewed Aug. 13.

Go figure that the Om record two albums after the one called Pilgrimage would feel so much like a journey. Further including multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Robert A. A. Lowe (also of experimental one-man outfit Lichens) alongside the established core duo of drummer Emil Amos (also of Grails) and bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros (also of Sleep), as well as incorporating a range of guest appearances from the likes of Grayceon‘s Jackie Perez Gratz on cello and Worm Ouroboros‘ Lorraine Rath (who appeared on 2010’s God is Good as well) on flute, Om fleshed out what was once a signature minimalism to the point of being a lush, constantly moving and markedly fluid entity. Cisneros, as the remaining founder and lead vocalist, served as a unifying presence in the material — his bass still was still very much as the center of  “Gethsemane” or the more straightforward and distorted “State of Non-Return” — but those songs and “Addis,” “Sinai” and gloriously melodic closer “Haqq al-Yaqin” amounted to more than any single performance, and where prior Om outings had dug themselves deep into a kind of solitary contemplation, Advaitic Songs looked outward with a palpable sense of musical joy and a richness of experience that could only be called spiritual, however physically or emotionally arresting it might also prove. I’ve found it works best in the morning, as a way to transition from that state of early half-there into the waking world — which no doubt has more harshness in mind than the sweet acoustics and tabla at the end of “Haqq al-Yaqin” — so that some of that sweetness can remain and help me face whatever might come throughout the day. A morning ceremony and a bit of meditation to reorder the consciousness.

1. Colour Haze, She Said


Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed Sept. 18.

Didn’t it have to be Colour Haze? Didn’t it? Two discs of the finest heavy psychedelic rock the world has to offer — yes I mean that — plus all they went through to get it out, the drama of building and rebuilding a studio, recording and re-recording, pressing and repressing, what else could it have been but She Said? After two-plus years of waiting, I was just so glad when it actually existed. Late in 2008, the Munich trio released All, and that was my album of the year that year as well (kudos to anyone who has that issue of Metal Maniacs), but I feel like even if you strip all that away and take away all the drama and the band’s influence, their standing in the European scene, guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek (interview here) fostering next-gen talent on Elektrohasch and whatever else you want or need to remove, She Said still holds up. Just the songs themselves. The extra percussion layered in with Manfred Merwald‘s drums on “She Said,” the horns and Duna Jam-ambience on “Transformation,” the unpretentious boogie of “This” on disc one, or the rush of “Slowdown” on disc two and the culmination the whole album gets when the strings kick in on “Grace.” Those strings. God damn. Suddenly a 2CD release makes sense, when each is given its own progression, its own destination at which to arrive, and tired as I am I still tear up like clockwork when I put on “Grace” just to hear it while I type about it. Beautifully arranged, wonderfully executed, She Said couldn’t be anywhere but at the top spot on this list. The warmth in Koglek‘s guitar and Philipp Rasthofer‘s bass on “Breath” and the way their jams always seem to have someplace to go, I feel like I’m listening to a moment exquisitely captured. There isn’t a doubt in my mind Colour Haze are the most potent heavy rock power trio in the world, and that their chemistry has already and will continue to inspire others around them, but most importantly, She Said met the true album-of-the-year criteria in not seeming at all limited to the confines of 2012 — as though it had some kind of expiration date. Not so. Even though I’ve already been through them more times than I know or would care to share had I counted, I look forward to getting to know the songs on She Said over the years to come, and as I have with Colour Haze‘s works in the past, seeing their appeal change over time the way the best of friends do. It couldn’t have been anything but Colour Haze. Whatever hype other albums or bands have, for me, it’s this, and that’s it.

Honorable Mentions

If this list went to 25, the next five would be:

21. Snail, Terminus
22. Revelation, Inner Harbor
23. Wo Fat, The Black Code
24. Groan, The Divine Right of Kings
25. Caltrop, Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes

Honorable mention goes to: Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight (another one about whom I have a hard time being impartial), Mighty High, At Devil Dirt, Bell Witch, Samothrace, Enslaved, Viaje a 800, and Larman Clamor.

Also worth noting some conspicuous absences: Witchcraft, Swans, Baroness, Royal Thunder, The Sword, Torche. These albums garnered a strong response and have done well in the Readers Poll looking at the results so far, but please keep in mind, this is my list, I took a night to sleep on it, I stand by it and I’ve got my reasons for selecting what I did. You’ll find about 5,000 words of them above.

Thank you as always for reading. If you disagree with any picks, want to add your own take on any of the above, or anything else — really, whatever’s cool — please leave a comment below.

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Stubb, Stubb: The Proof is in the Fuzz (Plus Video Premiere)

Posted in Reviews on February 2nd, 2012 by JJ Koczan

They want to riff and they want to rock, and on their self-titled debut full-length, UK trio Stubb do plenty of both. Originally formed in 2006 with a different bassist and drummer alongside guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, the band recorded a demo a year later with Tim Cedar of Part Chimp and, in 2009, reemerged having imported a new rhythm section in the form of Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight’s Peter Holland (bass/vocals) and Christopher West (drums). This incarnation of Stubb hit the studio with Cedar late in 2010 to lay down the eight songs that would become Stubb and took to the road in 2011 with Stone Axe on a European tour.

The album is released through Superhot Records, boasts a mix and master job by Tony Reed of Stone Axe, and finds Stubb aligning themselves to a rising tide of British heavy rock – that’s not to say “a new wave” – that includes such riff-happy clean-vocal acts as Grifter, Alunah, and indeed, Trippy Wicked, among many others. Fuzz abounds, but Dickinson, Holland and West do more than just follow the guitar through verses and choruses, touching on acoustic freak-folk and heavy rock classicism in a manner that does nothing to upset the overall flow of the album, which gradually reveals a strength of songwriting to complement the initial catchiness of the first couple tracks. Although it’s been six years since Dickinson started the project, one might think of Stubb as a new band, as his chemistry with Holland and West presents itself here for the first time. On either level, though, Stubb’s Stubb gleefully preaches to the choir of Heavy while showing the band has more to them than just riffs and grooves.

Even if that weren’t the case, with the engaging fuzz and ripping leads that open kickoff track “Road,” riffs and grooves would almost be enough. The nod-inducing stomp and Dickinson’s tone remind of when The Atomic Bitchwax took on Core’s “Kiss the Sun” for their own self-titled debut, but Stubb push a strong chorus all their own, Holland offering backing support for Dickinson’s lead vocal while West’s snare pops clearly and crisply, keeping the song upbeat but not too fast. Stubb wind up at their strongest in this middle pace, maximizing the impact of the riffs and still allowing for a laid back, stonerly feel. “Scale the Mountain,” which follows the opener, continues the momentum, making the first nine of Stubb’s total 35 minutes a powerful opening duo, and reeling back in its first second as if to steel itself for the five minutes of riffing to come.

Dickinson again works a solo into the intro as a precursor to the verse, but shifts the method some, stepping back to let Holland take the lead in singing the chorus. The two have enough variance in their diction that the shift is pretty clear, and as they move back and forth throughout Stubb, “Scale the Mountain” is a solid foreshadow of what’s to come. Holland’s vocal work in Trippy Wicked has left him more than prepared to tradeoff with Dickinson, who here adds backing “woo”s to the memorable title/chorus line. A brief break seems to be waiting for a guitar solo to come in, but one never does, and the chorus returns to lead the song to its flange-y finish and Holland’s bass intro to the somewhat more subdued “Flame.”

It’s here that Stubb begin to unveil the classic rock linearity of the album’s structure. They’ve opened strong with “Road” and “Scale the Mountain,” and with “Flame,” they shift the mood a bit – granted, not as much as if they’d put the folksy “Crosses You Bear” in that third spot, but still. A bluesy, winding riff gives Holland the chance to add some choice fills, and West times well his jumps from the hi-hat to the crash, giving way to the driving second half of the track and the combined Dickinson/Holland vocals that mindfully veer from the verse/chorus patterning so far established. Holland’s bass again burns tubes alongside Dickinson on “Soul Mover,” which ingrains the line, “Oh baby, I don’t know what you like/But I’ll keep you satisfied” on the brain like it was branding cattle or internet memes. The pace is faster, perhaps expectedly, but “Soul Mover”’s shuffle is a departure even from “Flame” and further confirmation of Stubb’s classic heavy affiliations.

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