In the Round: Reviews of The Devil Rides Out, Manthra Dei, Ol’ Time Moonshine, Robot Lords of Tokyo and Rowsdower

Posted in Reviews on January 27th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Heavy stuff from all over the world. These have all been available for a little bit, and I’ve included audio and links as much as possible. Hope you dig:

The Devil Rides Out, Ugly Creatures EP

Checking in at just the other side of a half-hour, Perth four-piece The Devil Rides Out‘s self-released Ugly Creatures launches with its title-track, which, like the closer “Blood River,” tops seven minutes. There are five-songs total, and they get shorter as you approach the middle from either side, second cut “Empty Sky” and the penultimate “The Righteous Walk” being 5:59 and 5:44, respectively, and centerpiece “Burn Again” running just 4:05. It’s a kind of parabolic listening effect and an interesting structural note on the band’s part, but whatever progressive ideals they may proffer in terms of how the EP is put together, Ugly Creatures is a rock record and doesn’t attempt to be anything else sonically. The guitars of Andrew Ewing lead the way with Joey K.‘s bluesy, gravelly vocals with some airy flourish in the solos, but the vibe is consistently earthy, and the heft and inventiveness of play in Scott Paterson‘s bass and the consuming wash of Royce Uyen‘s drums keep the proceedings grounded stylistically. It’s a loose, swinging heavy rock that emerges by the time they get to “Burn Again,” if deceptively atmospheric, but The Devil Rides Out in their midpoint introduce a thicker lurch and though Ewing‘s vocals seem to be high in the mix, they offer a commanding presence up front. “Blood River” strikes a better balance in having a somewhat bigger guitar sound and allowing the throaty delivery to cut through, decidedly un-reverbed as it is, and the ending tone of the EP winds up stronger for it. There are more than a few interesting explorations here, and if The Devil Rides Out were looking to delve into new stylistic ground, they’ve set themselves up well in doing so for their next full-length.

The Devil Rides Out on Thee Facebooks

The Devil Rides Out on Bandcamp

Manthra Dei, Manthra Dei

It’s somewhat jarring when Italian mostly-instrumental heavy psychedelic four-piece Manthra Dei launch from the languid beginnings of “Stone Face” at the open of their self-titled full-length Acid Cosmonaut Records (vinyl through Nasoni) debut and into more driving space rock, propelled by the keyboard work of Paolo Tognazzi, but it comes to make sense in the progressive sprawl and mounted swirl of the 51-minute album overall. Paolo Vacchelli handles the sole guitar in the foursome, with Branislav Ruzicic on bass and Michele Crepaldi on drums, but throughout, each player gets an opportunity to shine, whether it’s the bass in “Stone Face,” the guitars pushing heavier riffage at the apex of “Xolotl,” the keys adding jazzy melody to a King Crimson-style run in the 17-minute “Blue Phantom” or taking an organ solo on “Urjammer” or the hard-tapping snare punctuating the fervent groove of “Legendary Lamb.” Vocals show up in that last cut, handled by Crepaldi, and with as natural as he sounds amid the instrumental complexity surrounding, I’m not sure what would keep Manthra Dei from employing them more often, but this is a first release, and the band are making pretty clear efforts to hammer out their style, so with as much as is going on and as many parts as a given track has, there’s not a lot of room as they flow from one to the next for verses and choruses. Still, Manthra Dei‘s Manthra Dei is engaging, holding attention even through the aforementioned 17-minute monster and on through the acoustic epilogue that reprises “Stone Face” in a much humbler form. They’re feeling their way, but the push they’ve concocted on their first outing is both exciting and impressively held together, melding progressive flow, space rock rhythms and a psychedelic tendency toward open structures.

Manthra Dei on Thee Facebooks

Acid Cosmonaut Records

Ol’ Time Moonshine, The Demon Haunted World EP

Gruff four-piece Ol’ Time Moonshine hail from the humid backwoods Southern bogs of… Toronto? Okay, so maybe the “Southern” we’re talking about is Southern Ontario, the Down-style chug-and-stomp these dudes get up to on their self-released The Demon Haunted World EP is whiskey by any other name. The seven-tracker finds the two, sometimes-three guitar outfit with a distinctly riffy push, not afraid to get big and angry in the second half of “March of the Trees” or turn things on their head with a little High on Fire gallop on the subsequent “Jazz Cigarettes.” They make little bones about their predilections or tastes in “There be Dragons,” “Jazz Cigarettes” or “This Black Hole is a Demon Rift,” but the ride is enjoyably varied nonetheless, with vocalist Bill Kole showing a range beyond that of the typical post-Anselmo “whoa yeah momma” drawl, getting into sludgier fare when called upon by his own and Chris Coleiro‘s riffing. On instrumental opener “There be Dragons,” “Seven Deadly Suns” and the swayingly grooved “She Dances in Graveyards,” Ol’ Time Moonshine brings in Chris Kendrick of Galaxies in the River for distinct solos, but even elsewhere, Ol’ Time Moonshine show no trouble in offering sonic variety across these tracks. Kole, who also did the jewel-case layout and recorded the guitars and vocals while Ronald Roy of Threshold Sound did Kyle Marnoch‘s bass and Brett Savory‘s drums, seems to be in the lead role, but the band offer a full, active presence throughout, and show themselves to be more than capable songwriters in making something of their own out of familiar genre elements. At just under half an hour, The Demon Haunted World packs enough dirt and grit to be called a full-length, and particularly for being the band’s debut, hits hard enough to leave a mark.

Ol’ Time Moonshine on Thee Facebooks

Ol’ Time Moonshine on Bandcamp

Robot Lords of Tokyo, Virtue and Vice

With their artwork in homage to KISSLove Gun, Ohio-based Robot Lords of Tokyo proffer pro-rocking burl of the sort that Brand New Sin pounded out over a decade ago on their self-released third full-length, Virtue and Vice, and while that doesn’t necessarily say much about the originality of the influences under which they’re working on the follow-up to 2008’s Whiskey, Blood and Napalm (review here), the songwriting at the heart of cuts like “Great Escape,” the swaggering “Hate’s Eternal Spring” and the dudely stomp of “Chicken Little” distinguish the metal-infused core of Rick Ritzler (drums, backing vocals) and Paul Jones (vocals), collaborating bassist Joe Viers (who also recorded and mixed, played some guitar and did backing vocals) and Beau Vanbibber (rhythm and acoustic guitar, lead and backing vocals) as they bring in a host of guest guitarists, from Tracy G. to Chris Poland to Terry Adams and Wayne Findlay. One might think that an album with no fewer than 12 players appearing throughout would sound uneven, but Robot Lords of Tokyo actually hold it together pretty well — doing themselves a service by keeping the songs straightforward and mostly upbeat — even finding room to cover Cinderella‘s “Night Songs” in the second half. Rounding out with the nine-minute build of “Through Perdition’s Flames,” their testosterone-powered motor rock seems to delight in how over the top it gets, but still represents a kind of lost commercial viability for heavy rock in general, as though beamed in from an alternate time and space in which Robot Lords of Tokyo are the rockstars they sound like, instead of self-releasing quality albums so dickhead reviewers like me can me months behind on reviewing them. There are times where Virtue and Vice comes on strong, but at its core it’s professional work.

Robot Lords of Tokyo on Thee Facebooks

Robot Lords of Tokyo’s website

Rowsdower & Send the Mistress, Split CD

Taking their moniker from the lead character in the cult-classic action movie The Final Sacrifice (also one of the best Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes of the Mike Nelson era), St. Louis heavy blues rockers Rowsdower emerge in making their Dead Grooves Records debut on a split full-length with fellow Missourians Send the Mistress. The latter act appear second and have a much more metalcore-derived sound — i.e. there are breakdowns and mixed screaming and clean vocals — but the five-piece Rowsdower bring together blues-swinging heavy riffs and Facelift-style vocals, hitting on a sonic niche that Salt Lake City’s Dwellers made their own on their first album. “Monday Morning Space Invaders” is bar-ready, even if the hook isn’t as strong as the opening “Acid Healer,” but the tone is set quickly, and with considerable bounce in their step, Rowsdower show promise throughout their four included tracks, notable for their comfort at a middle pace and for the easy mesh of classic heavy rock and distinct ’90s stylization, which shows up not only in the vocals, but in the snare drum sound as well. It’s an enticing affair ultimately, and as much as it’s Rowsdower‘s name that got my attention, the boozy debauchery of “Redemption Denied” and the Mastodon-style riffing that hits in the second half of “Victor’s Waltz” make it plain that there’s more to Rowsdower than there might at first seem. Not sure how they got paired with Send the Mistress, but I imagine there was alcohol involved one way or another. The second act’s three cuts, “Tired Limbs Energetic,” “A Magnificent Feast” and “Medusa’s New Do” are crunchier-toned all around, but there are heavy rock roots in there, even if they take them someplace else, genre-wise. Sometimes geography makes for strange bedfellows.

Rowsdower on Thee Facebooks

Send the Mistress on Thee Facebooks

Dead Groove Records

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The Devil Rides Out Finish Video Series with “Empty Sky”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 20th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Because I’m a punk and I thoroughly missed the boat on reviewing The Devil Rides Out‘s 2013 Ugly Creatures EP, you’ll find it included in its five-track entirety in a Bandcamp stream below. Please note that it’s no less a professional heavy rock execution than was the Perth-based foursome’s 2011 sophomore full-length, The Heart and the Crown (review here), and that with their new video for “Empty Sky” from the latest release, they complete a series of five videos working with different directors (including themselves), providing visual accompaniment for every song on Ugly Creatures. The links to the others are included below as well, coming courtesy of the PR wire, which also supplies more info about the EP and video project.

Clearly these guys do not fuck around.


The Devil Rides Out, “Empty Sky” official video


Long before Beyonce dropped her self-titled video album late last year, four very hairy, very loud gentlemen from the west coast of Australia dreamed a little dream. Perth stoner/sludge lords The Devil Rides Out announced back in June 2013 that they were to release a short film for every track on their new release, each one with a different director / artist given free reign to do whatever they liked. This “video album” was entitled ‘Ugly Creatures’.

As they had hoped for, the resulting films have been incredibly varied but always interesting, from Cat Hope’s experimental take on ‘Blood River’ to the more traditional live performance video – with a twist – of Baz Harvey’s ‘Ugly Creature’. They’ve also enjoyed a bit of success, with ‘The Righteous Walk’ – created by the bands own Joey K and Andrew Ewing – selected to appear on the 2014 Music Feedback DVD compilation, and Richard Eames’ epic video for ‘Burn Again’ being selected for the 2013 WAM Festival DVD compilation as well as the 2013 Sydney Underground Film Festival.

‘Empty Sky’ – the fifth and final “Creature” in this ambitious video project – has been directed by up-and-coming young filmmaker Robert Bremner and is a badass homage to Eastern samurai cinema via Italian spaghetti western and a Tarantino-esque sexy/cool aesthetic. The dream-like film was shot by Bremner with assistance from Alex Aitken and stars Taihra Swaine and Ayzia Hogan as the rival samurai warriors in a battle to the death, beneath an empty sky…

Watch ‘Empty Sky’ here now:

‘Ugy Creatures’ can be purchased online from the The Devil Rides Out Bandcamp page:

You can also watch the previous four short films here:
‘The Righteous Walk’ by Joey K & Andrew Ewing:
‘Burn Again’ by Richard Eames:
‘Ugly Creature’ by Baz Harvey:
‘Blood River’ by Cat Hope:

The Devil Rides Out, Ugly Creatures EP (2013)

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The Devil Rides Out: Aussie Rockers Streaming Bluesy New Single

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 13th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Submerged in organ-drenched blues, The Devil Rides Out delve into some gritty atmospheres on their new single “The Righteous Walk.” Even the Perth, Australia, outfit acknowledge that this is new territory for them — their 2011 full-length, The Heart and the Crown (review here) touched on some of the same kind of moodiness in a song like “Hard Love,” but didn’t go nearly as far — and though they assure that the rest of their forthcoming Ugly Creatures LP is full-on, this stuff sounds pretty heavy to me and still has an underlying groove that should tie it well to what one can reasonably expect the rest of the album to offer.

Off to the PR wire:


The new single for Western Australia’s disciples of all things dirty and doomy THE DEVIL RIDES OUT was delivered to radio this week and has been posted for streaming online here.

The first taste of their upcoming ‘Ugly Creatures’ is probably the least “metal” song that the band have ever released. The irony of this will soon come to light, as overall the new release is easily the heaviest thing they have ever committed to tape, a pitch-black descent into crushing sludge and doom.

For now though, we walk ‘The Righteous Walk’, a blues-drenched lament to loss and redemption. Featuring tasty guest keys from Julian Bolleter, the track simmers and swaggers with vulnerability and menace in equal measure before erupting into a frenzied and desperate climax.

Written in the wake of death and the midst of disintegration, this song – and indeed all of their ‘Ugly Creatures’ – reveals a darker and more reflective Devil. Perhaps no longer running from demons but rather standing and facing them. Walking through the fire… walking the righteous walk…

FOLLOW @thedevilridesout

The Devil Rides Out, “The Righteous Walk”

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The Devil Rides Out Cross the Line

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 20th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Well, maybe the Western Australian rockers aren’t crossing the line here, unless it’s the line between what is a stoner rock video and what isn’t. Not much question which side of that line they’re on. The clip features footage from the 1978 film Cosy Cool, full of wheelies and biker dudes and a little bit of cultish violence at the end there for good measure. Can’t leave that out.

The song, “Broken White Line,” is also catchy as hell, and one of the most memorable from The Devil Rides Out‘s The Heart and the Crown, which was reviewed earlier this year. Dig it and the subsequent PR wire informations:

The genesis of the clip came about when a member of the band won a beat up old VHS copy of the 1970s Australian biker flick Cosy Cool at a local cult video night. Coming across this vintage grindhouse obscurity felt like destiny somehow and the band set about scouring the internet in search of the filmmakers — not easy some 35 years later. They eventually managed to track down Gary Young, the director/star of the film, who was initially reluctant to licence the film for a video clip but was won over when he received a copy of the song.

The resulting video is an affectionately grimey tribute to a bygone drive-in era of “ozploitation” cinema, backed by a high-octane soundtrack courtesy of The Devil Rides Out. Among other things it features a cameo appearance from the Commanchero Motorcycle Club — many of whom would end up either deceased, injured or in prison several years later in the wake of the infamous Milperra Massacre.

The Devil Rides Out are currently holed up over the southern summer, writing material for album number two, set for release in the second half of 2012. They support Dead Meadow (US) and Pink Mountaintops in Perth on Saturday, April 7, at The Bakery.


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The Devil Rides Out: Wearing the Crown on Their Sleeve

Posted in Reviews on February 10th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Aussie bruisers The Devil Rides Out touch on a lot of familiar stoner rock elements without ever completely giving themselves over to them. The Perth four-piece follow a trio of EPs with The Heart and the Crown, their full-length debut, on Impedance Records (MVD distro in the US), and at 53 minutes, the album manages to reference the well-trod paths of fuzz and still wind up neither redundant nor completely cliché. A big part of the credit for that has to go to vocalist Joey K, whose gruff (still clean) delivery separates The Devil Rides Out from their heavier influences. The overall affect is that The Heart and the Crown has parts that will unquestionably remind the experienced listener of other bands, but enough personality in both the music and the singing to still come out of it with a sound of their own.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think much of The Heart and the Crown my first couple listens through. Even for the novelty of it being Australian and the band’s being part of the growing scene there, I couldn’t get past my initial impression that it was generic and even K’s vocals weren’t enough to set it apart from the scores of other throaty heavy rock bands out there. However, in further and further sessions, The Devil Rides Out – who take their name from a 1967 Hammer Horror film that starred, of course, Christopher Lee – make subtle tonal changes that reveal themselves more over time through the clean, crisp production. Andrew Ewing’s guitar pulls out über-fuzz on “Right Lane Man” (compare the opening riff to The Atomic Bitchwax’s cover of Core’s “Kiss the Sun” from 2005’s Boxriff), and “Gentlemen Prefer Bombs” moves from a Giraffes-style groove (thinking of “Honest Man” from 2008’s Prime Motivator) into driving, straight-ahead heaviness, but middle-cut “Phosphorous” has a slower, doomier feel, and late-album curveball “I Keep Secrets” – despite having the guitar too loud in the mix during the intro/choruses – shows a deft approach to Queens of the Stone Age’s six-string bounce. But even there, he’s not restrained by the fuzz or only bringing that to the table sonically. Bassist Brendan Ewing – since replaced by Scott Paterson – leads the way into that song and into a slower, more melancholy break on the title-track, not so disparate from what Brant Bjork did with “Somewhere Some Woman” on last year’s Gods and Goddesses.

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