Legions of Doom Announce Debut Album The Skull 3 & New EP; “All Good Things” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Legions of Doom (Photo by Gene Ambo)

There’s a lot going on here. First, I won’t pretend not to have heard the forthcoming debut album, The Skull 3, from doomly supergroup Legions of Doom. I wrote the bio. Twice. The part below that starts “Where does…” and ends talking about David V. D’Andrea (there was more, but whatever). Set to issue through Tee Pee Records, it is intended on the part of bassist Ron Holzner and guitarist Lothar Keller to pick up where The Skull left off.

Indeed, much of the material began as songs coming together for a third The Skull LP prior to the death of frontman Eric Wagner in 2022. Now, with vocalists Karl Agell (Lie Heavy, Leadfoot, ex-C.O.C.) and Scott Reagers (Saint Vitus) alternating in lead-singer roles, and Henry Vasquez (Saint Vitus, Blood of the Sun, the latest incarnation of Pentagram, etc.) on drums, Legions of Doom pull another step away from being taggable as a ‘Trouble-offshoot’ while keeping the spirit of The Skull‘s take on traditional doom alive. Much to their credit, the sound they have developed is its own thing.

The PR wire has the info on the Sanford Parker-produced record below, plus the limited EP that will precede it, plus live dates, and the lead single “All Good Things” streaming in a just-unveiled video. Album’s out Sept. 13:

legions of doom the skull 3

LEGIONS OF DOOM: Doom Metal Super Group To Release Debut Full-Length The Skull 3 On September 13th Via Tee Pee Records; New Video/Single Now Playing, Limited Edition 7” EP Announced, And More!

LEGIONS OF DOOM will release their The Skull 3 full-length on September 13th via Tee Pee Records, today unveiling the record’s first single and preorders.

Where does The Skull end and LEGIONS OF DOOM begin? The answer might be “right here.” Welcome The Skull 3.

The 2021 passing of vocalist Eric Wagner (The Skull, ex-Trouble, Blackfinger, etc.) looms over LEGIONS OF DOOM’s debut, as The Skull guitarist Lothar Keller and bassist Ron Holzner (also ex-Trouble) pick up with material that would have been on that band’s third full-length and realize it in a different form. With Wagner’s involvement in the composition and the blessing of the singer’s family, LEGIONS OF DOOM shift further into supergroup territory by welcoming drummer Henry Vasquez (Saint Vitus, Pentagram, Blood Of The Sun), guitarist Scott Little (Leadfoot) and vocalists Karl Agell (Lie Heavy, Leadfood, Blind-era Corrosion Of Conformity) and Scott Reagers (original frontman of Saint Vitus) to the fold, both celebrating Wagner’s life and creativity and finding a path of their own as they do.

“Eric had a file on his computer labeled ‘New Skull Record,’” explains Holzner, “with his lyrics allotted to these songs. I was lucky that his family was able to access the computer and share the files with me. There were extra lyrics and verses that I used to finish the songs. I wrote most of the lyrics to ‘Lost Soul,’ but I’m so happy that Eric’s family was able to access the computer and pass along the lyrics to me.”

It is fitting to the brand of doom proffered by these Legions that Wagner’s spirit is part of this record – not to mention his vocals on “Heaven” – but LEGIONS OF DOOM are more than a tribute. Just as The Skull built on the legacy of its component members in Trouble and other outfits – Keller’s contributions to songwriting have always been the secret weapon; that remains true on The Skull 3 – so too does the new legions of doom all good thingsgroup chart its own forward course. In the end, the record becomes as much a debut as it ever might have been a third album for The Skull, and the persona of LEGIONS OF DOOM is immediately distinguished through the performances of Reagers and Agell on vocals. Yes, it’s classic doom by veterans who helped define the form, but LEGIONS OF DOOM are vibrant in their revelry, and, to be blunt, they sound like a band with more to say. Don’t go into the album expecting a one-off.

Holzner offers context: “Lothar and I wrote eighty percent of the record with Eric prior to him passing away. Karl, Henry and especially Scott Reagers wanted to finish it. Scott really didn’t want The Skull to end and insisted that we continue as The Skull as well as doing LEGIONS OF DOOM. LOD will be the main focus from here out and The Skull will play once in a while. Lo and I finished the record with a collaboration with David Snyder (Trouble, Blackfinger) on the song, [and first single], ‘All Good Things’ and wrote the newest song ‘Lost Soul’ with Henry. We also reworked Eric’s acoustic song ‘Heaven’ to go with his recorded vocals. The cover art was done by the legendary David V. D’Andrea (Samaritan Press). I told him I wanted something to represent moving on from The Skull and being reborn in LEGIONS OF DOOM…”

In advance of the record’s release, today the band unveils “All Good Things,” which also serves as the A side of a limited-edition EP set for release on August 23rd. Side B features a cover of Deep Purple’s “Into The Fire,” exclusive to the EP.

Elaborates Agell, “‘All Good Things’ holds great significance. It’s the first true LEGIONS OF DOOM song. I was granted the great honor of singing Eric Wagner’s beautiful words which telegraph hope and redemption in the midst of pain and despair. It became a sort of collaboration beyond the grave, signaling a rebirth. ‘And so dear friends, you have to carry on. All good things come to those who wait.’

“‘Into The Fire’ is one of my favorite songs by Deep Purple off of their 1970 In Rock album. Ron and I recorded a version of it years ago with Reed Mullin of Corrosion Of Conformity (RIP) and Scott Little of Leadfoot on guitar. Scott also happens to play for LEGIONS OF DOOM. We loved it then, and we loved tracking it again as a worthy B side for the All Good Things EP.”

The Skull 3 was recorded by Sanford Parker at the late Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio as well as Hyper Cube Studios, mixed by Quentin Poynter at QMP Audio, and mastered by John Scrip at Massive Mastering.

Preorders for the All Good Things EP, which will be available digitally and on Purple w/ Black Splatter 7” vinyl (limited to 500 copies), as well as The Skull 3, which will be available on CD, LP and digital formats, can be found at THIS LOCATION: https://linktr.ee/LegionsOfDoom

All Good Things EP Track Listing:
Side A
1. All Good Things
Side B
2. Into The Fire (Deep Purple cover)

The Skull 3 Track Listing:
1. Beyond The Shadow Of Doubt
2. All Good Things
3. Lost Soul
4. A Voice Of Reason
5. Between Darkness And Dawn
6. Insectiside
7. Heaven
8. Hallow By All Means

LEGIONS OF DOOM Live:
9/12/2024 Desertfest NYC Pre Party – Brooklyn, NY
9/13/2024 Widowmaker Brewing – Braintree, MA
9/14/2024 Chapel Of Bones – Raleigh, NC
9/20/2024 Ripplefest – Austin, TX

LEGION OF DOOM:
Ron Holzner – bass
Lothar Keller – guitars
Scott Little – guitars
Henry Vasquez – drums
Karl Agell – vocals
Scott Reagers – vocals

http://www.facebook.com/legionofdoom
https://www.instagram.com/legionsofdoomband/
https://linktr.ee/LegionsOfDoom

http://www.facebook.com/troubletheskull
http://www.instagram.com/theskullusa

teepeerecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/teepeerecords/
https://www.instagram.com/teepeerecords
https://teepeerecords.bandcamp.com/

Legions of Doom, “All Good Things” official video

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Members of The Skull (and More) Continue Forward as Legion of Doom

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 3rd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Scott Reagers, Ron Holzner, Karl Agell, Lothar Keller, Henry Vasquez and Victor Griffin are Legion of Doom. Wow, huh? I’d be interested to hear a collective count of the members of this band’s years of experience. Griffin started Death Row in 1980. Reagers goes back to the ’80s with Saint Vitus. Holzner joined Trouble in ’86. Karl Agell sang for Corrosion of Conformity circa Blind in 1991. Vasquez started out in Archie Bunker in 1997. And Keller started Sacred Dawn in 2005 and was founding guitarist for The Skull beginning in 2012. That’s arguably 150 years of doom and metal from these guys. A collection of lifers.

So you’ve got the metal-leaning style of Lothar Keller sharpening edges around the unmatched-in-doom tonality of Victor Griffin, two singers and they’re Karl Agell and Scott Reagers, Holzner locked in and smiling on bass while Vasquez is swinging away on drums? That’s a pretty serious fucking band. Every one of them a master at what they do.

And they’re gonna do a record? And play songs from everybody’s catalog? Shit that sounds good. I hope it works. They’re playing the not-to-be-confused-with Legions of Metal fest in Chicago and Hellfest in France in June. Doom on:

LEGION OF DOOM

LEGION OF DOOM: Metal/Doom Supergroup Featuring Current And Former Members Of The Skull, Trouble, Saint Vitus, Corrosion Of Conformity, Pentagram, And More Solidifies Lineup; First Festival Dates Announced

Have you ever wanted to hear all the heavy in one place? From its origins onward?

After the untimely passing of Eric Wagner (Trouble, The Skull), one of doom metal’s most notable and esteemed singers and songwriters, The Skull bassist and bandleader, Ron Holzner, contemplated long and hard on whether it would be possible to carry on. Nine months and a lot of soul searching later, an idea was born.

Recalls Holzner, “I decided I want to honor the memory of Eric by playing songs that he crafted. I want his spirit to become eternal through his words and melody. And I also want to play songs from the catalogs of everyone involved.”

Alongside guitarist Lothar Keller (The Skull, Sacred Dawn) and drummer Henry Vasquez (The Skull, Saint Vitus, Blood Of The Sun), Holzner decided to reach out to his longtime comrade, vocalist Karl Agell (Corrosion Of Conformity, Blind, Leadfoot, Lie Heavy) as well as vocalist Scott Reagers (Saint Vitus) and riff master general, guitarist Victor Griffin (Death Row, Pentagram, Place Of Skulls). And so LEGION OF DOOM has come to exist with an all-star lineup of doom’s most prestigious figureheads, here to share their ultimate heavy truth, taking the genre from what is known into uncharted territories.

Comments Keller, “Continuing The Skull in some kind of form seems like the right thing to do. LEGION OF DOOM is a perfect way to continue bringing doom metal to the fans! There is new music to finish and it’s important for us to follow through with bringing it out for everyone to hear.”

“This is gonna be a monster,” adds Vasquez.

“I have always gravitated towards heavier music. I have been involved with making it for over four decades,” reflects Agell. “When Ron asked me to join him in carrying on the doom metal tradition that he was part of and established first with Trouble and then The Skull, there was only one path forward. It’s been a great honor to sing Eric Wagner’s words and melodies and I truly look forward to performing songs from the massive legacy of all the members of LEGION OF DOOM.”

“It’s a great combination of experience and lineage with everyone involved,” says Griffin. “Though I prefer to avoid hype… regardless, it’s gonna be heavy!”

“Ron approached me and asked if I would be interested in participating in first a tribute to Eric Wagner who was a dear friend of mine and then a new musical adventure,” recalls Reagers. “We both concluded that we were not done with metal. How could I say, ‘no?!’ Karl, whom I respect and admire, adding his incredible vocals to this ensemble… Victor Griffin! My dear friend and bandmate Henry, the great Lothar Keller, and Ron whom I have known forever… This venture is gonna be fun. I look forward to working with these gentlemen!”

Concludes Holzner, “We are all seasoned veterans of the music business and prefer to let our music do the talking… And our music is gonna be speaking loudly! All the fans and bands…We are family. Combined, we are all the Legions Of Doom!”

LEGION OF DOOM will make its debut appearance at Legions Of Metal Fest in Chicago this June before heading overseas for a performance at Hellfest in France with more live dates to be announced in the weeks to come.

LEGION OF DOOM:
6/03/2023 Legions Of Metal Fest @ Reggies Live – Chicago, IL
6/18/2023 Hellfest – Clisson, FR

LEGION OF DOOM:
Ron Holzner – bass
Lothar Keller – guitars
Henry Vasquez – drums
Karl Agell – vocals
Scott Reagers – vocals
Victor Griffin – guitars

http://www.legionofdoomband.com
http://www.facebook.com/legionofdoom
http://www.facebook.com/troubletheskull
http://www.instagram.com/legionofdoommetal
http://www.instagram.com/theskullusa

Legion of Doom (The Skull), live at Hammer of Doom 2022

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Maryland Doom Fest 2023 Announces Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 31st, 2022 by JJ Koczan

It’s a big ‘un. And if you’re like me, there are a couple names that stick out from the poster below, particularly Earthride and The Skull. Both are tribute sets, of course. The Skull frontman Eric Wagner passed away in 2021 after complications from a covid-19 infection and the loss of Earthride‘s Dave Sherman just a couple months ago continues to be keenly felt in and beyond the confines of the scene he called home. Karl Agell (ex-C.O.C.) will step in for The Skull, while Scott Angelacos of Hollow Leg is set to front a rotating cast of players for Earthride. You would be hard-pressed to find a more fitting occasion for honoring one’s own, except perhaps this gig in a couple weeks.

Plenty of familiar, returning acts as well as newcomers. Hippie Death Cult and will travel from the Pacific Northwest, Switchblade Jesus and Doomstress make an appearance (not the first for either) from Texas, and Red Mesa come straight out of the capital-‘desert’ Desert. Meanwhile, Faith in Jane, Black Lung, Bloodshot, Mangog, Mythosphere, Thonian Horde, Spiral Grave and plenty of others represent the Maryland home team, High Leaf and Thunderbird Divine trip down from Philly, Curse the Son (CT) and Guhts (NY) come from farther north, Hollow Leg make the trip out from Florida, and Lo-Pan, Doctor Smoke and Brimstone Coven head over from the Midwest. That’s just off the top of my head. I’m not sure there’s ever been a MDDF pulling so many bands from different parts of the country, though of course international bands have featured in the past as well.

There are always some shakeup between the first announcement and the final lineup, but so far so good here. Any way it works out, Maryland Doom Fest has nothing to prove at this point. Guaranteed banger.

Here’s the poster (oy) and the lineup, the latter in alphabetical order:

Maryland Doom Fest 2023 sq

 

Maryland Doom Fest 2023

June 22-25 – Frederick, MD

We are proud to present to you The Maryland DooM Fest 2023 lineup roster and 2023 promotional art!!!!

We showcase over 50 kickass bands bringing you heavy riffs over these #4daysofdoom!!

The centerpiece art was created by Joshua Adam Hart (Earthride, Unorthodox, Revelation, Chowder, Stout, to name a few).

Josh is a career tattoo artist and is currently scheduling appointments at Triple Crown Towson Tattoo. Schedule to get ink from him at info@triplecrowntowson.com

The incredible flyer layout, coloring, and design is by our very talented Bill Kole (make sure to check out his band Ol’ Time Moonshine)!!

Above the Treachery, Akris, Black Lung, Bloodshot, Bonded by Darkness, Borracho, Brimstone Coven, Cobra Whip, Conclave, Crowhunter, Curse the Son, DeathCAVE, Doctor Smoke, Doomstress, Double Planet, Dust Prophet, Earthride, Faith in Jane, False Gods, Flummox, Fox 45, Future Projektor, Gallowglas, Grim Reefer, Guhts, Helgamite, High Leaf, Hippie Death Cult, Hog, Hollow Leg, Hot Ram, Las Cruces, Leather Lung, Lo-Pan, Mangog, Mythosphere, Orodruin, Red Mesa, Severed Satellites, Shadow Witch, Smoke the Light, Spiral Grave, Switchblade Jesus, The Skull, Thonian Horde, Thousand Vision Mist, Thunderbird Divine, Unity Reggae, VRSA, Weed Coughin, Wizzerd

https://www.facebook.com/MdDoomFest/
www.marylanddoomfest.com

Lo-Pan, “Ascension Day” live at Maryland Doom Fest 2019

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The Skull Announce Eric Wagner Tribute Shows in Chicago and Germany

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 26th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

the skull rb 3 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The bottom line here is it looks like The Skull are going to keep going. Guitarist Lothar Keller and bassist Ron Holzner — the two remaining founding members following the death last year of vocalist Eric Wagner (pictured above, in purple) — teamed up with singers Karl Agell (C.O.C. Blind) and Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) for a tribute show earlier this summer, and Agell and Saint Vitus vocalist Scott Reagers this weekend will take the stage again for the same reason, except this time it’s a festival. I guess the proof-of-concept turned out alright in June.

Seems to me Holzner and Keller are well within their rights here, and if they wanted to do a record certainly with the likes of Reagers, Agell, Lamont or someone else of that ilk, I know I’d only look forward to hearing it. There’s a ways to go before they get to that point, I imagine, but creativity doesn’t stop, so maybe it’s possible sometime in the next few years.

Also of note — and the PR wire notes it below — Kulvera. Check out Brian “Butch” Balich (Argus, Arduini/Balich, Penance, etc.) and other known Wagnerian associates Dave Snyder, Chuck Robinson, Matt Cross and Earthride‘s Greg Ball getting together in homage. Those guys will decide to do an album (speculation, but a bet I’m willing to make). So as the effects of Wagner‘s death continue to ripple out, at least we’re seeing new doom born out of old doom. It’s the circle… of doom.

I leave you in the capable hands of the PR wire for details:

eric wagner tribute fest

THE SKULL Announces Two Memorial Shows Celebrating The Life Of Eric Wagner

THE SKULL has invited vocalists Karl Agell (C.O.C. Blind, Leadfoot) and Scott Reagers (Saint Vitus) to front two memorial concerts celebrating the life and music of late singer Eric Wagner: The Midwest Metal Anthem in Lombard, Illinois on August 27th and the Hammer Of Doom Festival in Wurzburg, Germany on November 18th.

Midwest Metal Anthem will pay tribute to Wagner with two stages of music featuring THE SKULL with Agell and Reagers on vocals as well as the Eric Wagner Allstars (AKA Kulvera) featuring Chuck Robinson (Trouble, Black Finger, Eric Wagner), Dave Snyder (Trouble, Black Finger, Eric Wagner), Brian Balich (Penance, Argus), Greg Ball (Earthride), and Matt Cross (Black Finger, Eric Wagner) and the debut of Legion Of Doom featuring members of THE SKULL, Saint Vitus, Pentagram, and others playing songs from their collective past. See below for confirmed dates and further info.

THE SKULL – Eric Wagner Memorial Shows:
8/27/2022 Midwest Metal Anthem – Lombard, IL
11/18/2022 Hammer Of Doom Fest – Wurzberg, DE

THE SKULL was founded by three former members of American doom metal legends Trouble – vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner, and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson – and guitarist Lothar Keller (Sacred Dawn).

Eric Wagner passed away on August 22nd, 2021 from Covid pneumonia contracted while on tour with THE SKULL in early August 2021. THE SKULL, featuring Holzner, Keller, Henry Vasquez (Saint Vitus), and Matt Goldsborough (Pentagram) performed for the first time on June 18th for a banner ceremony honoring Eric Wagner at Reggies Rock Club in Chicago, Illinois. Karl Agell (C.O.C. Blind) and Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Led Zeppelin 2) joined the band on vocals.

THE SKULL:
Ron Holzner – bass
Lothar Keller – guitar
Henry Vasquez – drums
Matt Goldsborough – guitar

http://www.facebook.com/troubletheskull
http://www.twitter.com/theskullusa
http://www.instagram.com/theskullusa

The Skull, Live in Chicago, IL, June 18, 2022

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Quarterly Review: Crowbar, Eric Wagner, Ode and Elegy, Burn the Sun, Amon Acid, Mucho Mungo, Sum of R, Albatross Overdrive, Guided Meditation Doomjazz, Darsombra

Posted in Reviews on April 11th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

When we’re keying down after an invariably long day at my house and it’s getting close to The Pecan’s bedtime, we often watch a “bonus-extra” video. Sometimes it’s “Yellow Submarine,” sometimes a Peep and the Big Wide World on YouTube, whatever. Point is, think of today like a bonus-extra for the Quarterly Review after last week. Sometimes we do an extra-bonus-extra too. That will not be happening here.

So, we wrap up today with this bonus-extra batch of 10 records, and yes, as always, I took it easy on myself in backloading the last day of the QR with stuff I knew I’d dig. It’s called self-care, people. I practice it in my own way, usually incorrectly. Nonetheless, here’s 10 more records and thanks for tuning in to the Quarterly Review if you did. Next one is probably early July.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Crowbar, Zero and Below

crowbar zero and below

Six years after The Serpent Only Lies (review here), New Orleans sludge metal progenitors Crowbar deliver Zero and Below, a dutiful 10-song and 42-minute collection that emphasizes the strength of the current lineup of the band. It should go without saying that more than 30 years on from Crowbar‘s founding, guitarist/vocalist Kirk Windstein knows exactly what he wants the band to be and how to manifest that in the studio and live, and he does that here. The real question is whether “The Fear that Binds You” or maybe even the later “Bleeding From Every Hole” will make it into the touring set, but those are just two of the candidates on a record that feels like it was expressly written for Crowbar fans with a suitably masterful hand, which of course it was. There’s only one Crowbar. Treasure them while you can. And hell’s bells, go see them on stage if you never have. Buy a shirt.

Crowbar on Facebook

MNRK Heavy website

 

Eric Wagner, In the Lonely Light of Mourning

eric wagner in the lonely light of mourning

Joined by a litany of musicians and friends he at one point or another called bandmates in Blackfinger and Trouble, as well as Victor Griffin of Pentagram, Place of Skulls, etc., for a lead guitar spot, Eric Wagner‘s solo album, In the Lonely Light of Mourning, takes on an all-the-more-sorrowful context with Wagner‘s untimely death last year. And in many ways, the underlying message of In the Lonely Light of Mourning is the same message that Wagner‘s participation in The Skull for the better part of the last decade reinforced: he still had more to offer. He still had that voice, he still knew who he was as a singer and a songwriter. He still loved The Beatles and Black Sabbath and he was still one of the best frontmen after to do the job for a doom band. I don’t know what kind of archive exists of recordings he may have done before his death, but if In the Lonely Light of Mourning is the last release to bear his name, could there be a better note to close on than “Wish You Well” here?

Eric Wagner on Bandcamp

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Ode and Elegy, Ode and Elegy

Ode and Elegy ode and elegy

Recorded and seemingly layered together over a period of years between 2016 and 2020, Ode and Elegy‘s self-titled debut features only its 55-minute eponymous/title-track, and that’s more album conceptually and personnel-wise than most albums are anyway. There are guitar, bass, drums and vocals, and those recordings began in 2016 (vocals were done in 2018), but also a string quartet (recorded in Minneapolis, 2017), a brass section and full choir (recorded in Sofia, Bulgaria, 2020), flute (recorded in London, 2020) and harp (recorded in Manchester, UK, 2020). What the Parma, NY-based outfit make of all this is an organic, neoclassical and folk-informed complexity worthy of headphones for its texture and encompassing in both its heaviest and its most sweeping sections. There’s a vision at work across this span, and from the Behemoth-esque grandiosity of the horns about 33 minutes in to the final payoff and bookending subdued melody, the execution is no less impressive than the scope behind it. The years of effort in making it were not wasted. But how on earth do you write a follow-up for a debut like this?

Ode and Elegy on Instagram

Ode and Elegy website

 

Burn the Sun, Le Roi Soleil

Burn the Sun Le Roi Soleil

The thing about the jazzy break in the middle of second cut “A Fist for Crows” (as opposed to a feast?) is that it’s not at all out of place with the lumbering-but-moving heavy noise-rock-toned riffing or the big melodies that surround on Burn the Sun‘s first LP, Le Roi Soleil. After the relatively straightforward opener “Wolves Among Us,” it’s the beginning of the Athenian rockers showcasing their multi-tiered ambitions. “Fool’s Gold” is a short melodic heavy punk rocker, and those elements pop up again throughout, but “Severance” oozes into Deftones-y melody on vocals early and drifts out in psychedelia for much of its second half build, and there’s post-metal to be found in 12-minute closer “Torch the Skies,” but with ambient interludes in “Crawling Flame” and “The Calm Before,” even that’s not accounting for the whole breadth of the nine included pieces. Much to the band’s credit, they pull off their abrupt turns like that in “A Fist for Crows” and the later highlight “Tidal Waves,” while also keeping more charging aggression in their back pocket for the penultimate “Siren’s Call.” Some sorting out to do, but there’s a strong sense of identity in the songwriting.

Burn the Sun on Facebook

Burn the Sun on Bandcamp

 

Amon Acid, Demon Rider

AMON ACID Demon Rider single

A two-songer being offered up as a 7″ sacrifice presumably to the antigods of riffy lysergic doom, while, yes, also heralding the Leeds trio’s forthcoming second LP, Cosmology, Amon Acid‘s Demon Rider may be a bite-size slab, but it’s a slab nonetheless of tripped out doom, drawing on Cathedral in the title-track and bringing some of Orange Goblin’s burl to the still-spacious and freaked “Incredible Melting Man” in a whopping 3:43, as the founding UK-via-Greece duo of Sarantis Charvas (guitar, synth, vocals) and Briony Charvas (bass, synth) — as well as singly-named drummer Smith — follow-up their 2020 debut, Paradigm Shift, with a fuller and more realized shove. The synth does more work in their sound than it first seems, and together with the echoing vocals, it brings “Demon Rider” to a darkly psychedelic place. If that’s where Cosmology is headed as well, I guess it’s time to get on your possessed motorcycle and ride it into interstellar oblivion. You knew this day would come. Come on now. Off you go.

Amon Acid on Facebook

Helter Skelter Productions website

 

Mucho Mungo, Moth Bath

Mucho Mungo Moth Bath

Those ever-reliable climbers of Weird Mountain at Forbidden Place Records snagged Mucho Mungo‘s gem of a 2020 debut EP, and with an extra track added, made a first full-length from Moth Bath that shimmers like a reinvented moment where classic prog and garage rock met. For a record that opens with a song called “Bear Attack,” the Madrid three-piece of guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Marco González, bassist/vocalist Adrien Elbaz and drummer/vocalist/keyboardist Santiago Aguilera take a wholly unaggressive approach, digging into psychedelia only so much as it suits their movement-based purpose. That is to say, “Sandworm I” boogies down, and even though “Sandworm II” is comparatively mellow, there’s a space rock shuffle happening beneath those echoing space-out vocals. “Pocket Rocket” devolves in its sub-four-minute stretch but features some choice drumming and Galaga-esque keyboard sounds for atmosphere, while “Blue Nectar” captures a brighter jamminess and “The Moth” signals more cosmic intentions for what’s to come. Sign me up. Familiar sounds that don’t quite sound like anything else.

Mucho Mungo on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Sum of R, Lahbryce

sum of r lahbryce

Bringing Swiss duo Sum of R into the realm of Finland’s weirdo-brilliant Waste of SpaceDark Buddha Rising, Atomikylä, Dust Mountain, a handful of other associated acts — by having founder Reto Mäder add vocalist Marko Neuman and drummer Jukka Rämänen from Dark Buddha Rising was not going to make Lahbryce any less devastating. And sure enough, “Sink as I” unfolds with a genuine sense of immersion-toward-drowning that the vague ambience of “Crown of Diseased” and the no-less-airy-for-being-crushing “Borderline” immediately expand. For its eight songs and 54 minutes, what was a tailor-made Roadburn lineup push deeper. Deeper than Sum of R‘s 2017 debut, Orga (review here), and deeper than many consciousnesses will want to go. The instrumental “The Problem” is actually less challenging, but “Hymn for the Formless” makes short work of the tropes of European post-metal while “Shimmering Sand” and the noise-laden “144th” once more spread out in terms of ambience, and closer “Lust” finally swallows us all and we die. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer species, and what a way to go.

Sum of R on Facebook

Consouling Sounds store

 

Albatross Overdrive, Eye See Red

Albatross Overdrive Eye See Red

Albatross Overdrive‘s third full-length, Eye See Red, opens with a hearty invitation to “Get Fucked,” and that is but the first of a slew of catchy, hard-edged, punk-informed heavy rock kissoffs. “Eye See Red” is duly frustrated as well, but as “Coming Down” suitably mellows out and “Been to Space” redirects the energy behind the earlier cuts’ delivery, there’s a feeling of the palette broadening on the part of the California-based five-piece, leading to the centerpiece “Bring Love,” the chorus of which sounds aspirational in light of the leadoff, and “Sagittarius” and “Fuente del Fuego” skirt the line between classic punk and biker rock, Albatross Overdrive continue the gritty and brash style of 2019’s Ascendant (review here) but find new reaches to explore. To wit, the nine-minute closer “Shattered” here reaches farther into melody and instrumental dynamic, bringing the different sides together in a way that’s genuinely new for the band while still having their core of songcraft underneath. They’ve well established themselves as a nothin’-too-fancy heavy rock act, but that doesn’t seem to be an aversion to forward progression either. Best of both worlds, then.

Albatross Overdrive on Facebook

Albatross Overdrive on Bandcamp

 

Guided Meditation Doomjazz, Summer Let Me Down

Guided Meditation Doomjazz Summer Let Me Down

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get with Guided Meditation Doomjazz. The Austin-based outfit led by six-string bassist J. Blaise Gans aka Blaise the Seeker conjure a half-hour session, recorded mostly if not entirely live, with a direct intention toward high-order chill and musical adventuring. Across “Warm Me Up,” “Summer,” “Let Me,” “Down” and “It’s Winter Again,” the band — working as the trio of Gans, Greg Perlman and drummer Mathew Doeckel — are fully switched-on and exploratory, and the pieces carved from their jams are hypnotic and engaging. A check-in from a prolific outfit, but with the backing of The Swamp Records, Summer Let Me Down comes across as something of a moment’s realization, placing the listener in the room — all the more with the photography included in the download — with the band as the music happens. Immersion, trance, digging in, vibing, all that stuff applies, but it’s the hiccups and the letting-them-go that feel even more instructive. If you can remember to breathe, it’s just crazy enough to work. Made to be heard more than once, and serves that well.

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Darsombra, Fill Up the Glass

darsombra

Everybody’s favorite drone freaks Darsombra — who just might play your house if you pay them, feed them, allow them enough electricity and/or maybe sex them up a little — released the 7:50 single “Fill Up the Glass” on the last Bandcamp Friday as a 24-hours-only offering that was there and gone before I could even grab the cover art to go with it. Rife with spacey, spicy sounds, their interweaving of synth and guitar sounds improvised if it isn’t, rumbling and oozing at the start and drifting joyously into the cosmos over its stretch. No clue whether the song will show up on their next album — as ever, Darsombra are on to the next thing, which is a tour that begins at Grim Reefer Fest in Baltimore and some kind of special offering, presumably a video, for April 20 — but like all their work, “Fill Up the Glass” is evocative and a revelry in creative spirit, and if seeing this gets you on board with checking out any of their more recent work, then I’ll consider it a win regardless of this song’s availability over the longer term. But it is a cool track.

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Eric Wagner’s In the Lonely Light of Mourning Announced for March 2022

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Obviously the March 2022 arrival of The Skull and former Trouble frontman Eric Wagner‘s solo release, In the Lonely Light of Mourning, takes on a broader, and frankly, sadder, context with his having passed away in August. I regret that I won’t get to interview him about this record. It is not Wagner‘s first solo offering, which would be 2015’s Highdeas Vol. 1 (discussed here) — just tried to buy the CD, couldn’t from his webshop — but this would seem to be more of an actual studio release rather than a collection of songs from over a greater span of time, etc.

There’s a ton of PR wire info below, including the tracklisting and comment from The Skull‘s Ron Holzner, who plays on the LP, in addition to a seeming host of other doom luminaries. Who wouldn’t want to?

Cover art and whathaveyou follow:

eric wagner in the lonely light of mourning

CRUZ DEL SUR MUSIC To Release Ex-TROUBLE Singer ERIC WAGNER’s Posthumous Solo Album, ‘In The Lonely Light Of Mourning’

Cruz Del Sur Music will release legendary former TROUBLE singer Eric Wagner’s posthumous solo album, “In The Lonely Light Of Mourning” in March 2022.

Recorded at Alpha Sound Services and Aardvark Recording, “In The Lonely Light Of Mourning” was completed and delivered to Cruz Del Sur Music a month before Eric’s untimely passing. Initially scheduled for a November 2021 release, Cruz Del Sur Music — in cooperation with Eric’s manager, Mike Smith — agreed to move the release date to March 2022 to give it the attention it deserves.

“It has been a great honor to have the chance to work with Eric,” says Cruz Del Sur Music owner Enrico Leccese. “He has been a reference in my life since, as a fan, I bought his Trouble albums back in the 1980s. I must give WHILE HEAVEN WEPT’s Tom Phillips 100 percent credit for Cruz Del Sur Music being able to release Eric’s solo album. Eric really put all himself, his passion, his deepest emotions and his skills into this release. I must also thank Mike and Ron Holzner for the extremely mature talk we had after Eric’s passing. His loss has been a tragic event and we hope that this album gives justice to his career.”

The solo endeavor — a long-time goal of Eric’s — serves as a fitting testament to one of doom metal’s most respected voices. Eric tapped former TROUBLE/current BLACKFINGER drummer David Snyder to help him assemble the album’s eight cuts. Along the way, Eric brought in some of his favorite musicians as guests — including past and present members of TROUBLE, Blackfinger, The Skull, LID, Pentagram, DEATH ROW and PLACE OF SKULLS.

“In The Lonely Light Of Mourning” travels down Eric’s hallowed, familiar doom roads, flanked by melancholic acoustic guitar arrangements. It makes for an album of color, depth and heaviness that will please fans of Eric’s work. “I’d say this album is an amalgamation of TROUBLE, BLACKFINGER, LID and THE SKULL,” says Phillips. “There’s a little bit of each all swirled together. Basically, there’s a little something for everyone!”

“He was excited about the songs,” adds Snyder. “He and I worked on this project for a little over four years. It took that long, mostly because we did it over the phone. Either he would be in Chicago or New Mexico, and I’m in West Virginia, so I’d send him demo riffs, and if he liked something, he’d give me arrangement ideas, and I’d re-demo to fit his vision to place the lyrics. I already miss the process of working with him! Before Eric left for the last THE SKULL tour this summer, he told me about the record and said, ‘It jams. I’m turning it into Cruz.’”

Smith says that if Eric was ever going to do a solo record, it would need to involve the people he’s worked with — and some he hasn’t. The wealth of guest musicians explains why he was particularly excited about having a “family reunion” that tapped into nearly every era of his storied career.

“We have guests representing every band Eric has worked with over the years, and even extended family member Victor Griffin, which really brings things full circle,” says Smith. “This was not the original plan by any means, but as the process started to unfold, it became apparent that this was exactly how it should be. How it was meant to be.”

Eric’s THE SKULL and former TROUBLE bandmate Ron Holzner, guests on the album. Ron says “In The Lonely Light Of Mourning” was “more personal” to him than his BLACKFINGER and LID output, two albums that enabled the frontman to work outside of the boundaries of TROUBLE.

“The LID record [1997’s ‘In The Mushroom’] was a break from Trouble and his first tastes of freedom. The BLACKFINGER records were more of a sideband to express himself differently than THE SKULL. It’s been a long journey lyrically for Eric and his story was coming towards the end. He sensed his time was short. The new record was his career coming full circle, in a sense. He included musicians from all his records and never intended this record to be a band. It was more a solo record than anything he ever did before. He needed to share his journey since this record was to be the end — he was contemplating retirement. The new THE SKULL record would be the epitaph to his story.”

Eric’s untimely passing this past August left behind a musical legacy that has influenced countless bands while providing comfort and solace for those impacted by his lyrics. Alongside Candlemass, TROUBLE is arguably the most impactful post-BLACK SABBATH doom band. Their first four albums are undisputed classics, making Eric the solitary voice for the downtrodden and disaffected.

“There’s no doubt that he will be rightly remembered as one of the most iconic voices of metal — not just doom metal considering he had the power to traverse anything he sang over from psychedelic to somber, from acoustic tenderness to bone-crushing metal,” says Phillips. “Of course, he’ll always be tied to the legacy of TROUBLE and thus, considered by nearly everyone — including myself — as one of the founding fathers of the doom metal genre. But for those who knew him, we’ll also never forget his laid-back personality, sense of humor and ‘Eric-isms.’ It’s a staggering and totally unnecessary loss, but he lived by his own rules and spent 2021 doing all of the things he loved doing the most, so there’s some solace in that.”

“He did what he wanted, said what he wanted, lived like he wanted and wrote what he wanted…his way,” says Holzner. “He touched a lot of souls with his life and death.”

“He was a friend to everyone he met,” adds Snyder. “He always would hang out with fans and, through his music, helped a lot of people through tough times, including myself. His lyrics were always thought-provoking and his voice was one of a kind. When you heard it, you knew it was Eric Wagner! Ultimately, his legacy to me is his work with TROUBLE. I am eternally grateful to have been close to him at times, to have finished this record and to have worked with what many call the ‘Godfather of Doom.’”

“Eric was a dear friend, and I miss him immensely,” closes Smith. “This solo album became so much more than we initially expected, and I hope fans will be able to listen with open hearts and realize how lucky we all were to have Eric in our lives.
When Eric and I signed off on the album back in July and delivered it to Cruz Del Sur Music, Eric said something I will never forget: ‘If this were to be my last one, it’s a perfect final chapter to the story.’”

“In The Lonely Light Of Mourning” track listing:
1. Rest In Place
2. Maybe Tomorrow
3. Isolation
4. If You Lost It All
5. Strain Theory
6. Walk With Me To The Sun
7. In The Lonely Light Of Mourning
8. Wish You Well

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Eric Wagner, “An Absurd Jurisdiction”

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 67 – Eric Wagner Tribute

Posted in Radio on September 3rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

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What, I wasn’t going to do an Eric Wagner tribute episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal? Of course I was. And with 40 years of work to choose from including landmarks for American doom old and new, the issue was obviously not picking tracks to include. Between Trouble, The Skull and Blackfinger, there was no shortage.

I got called out in the site comments last week for not mentioning Wagner’s decision to not get vaccinated as a cause of his death. My response was that I didn’t know it was politics. There are legit medical reasons one might not be able to receive the Covid shot, and I didn’t know either way what Wagner’s reasons were, and while were talking about it maybe I’m happier not knowing, but one way or the other I’m not sure it’s relevant to his legacy or body of work. It’s not like he was writing songs about QAnon, and it’s not like I was looking to Eric Wagner as an influence on my own political (or spiritual, for that matter; his Christian faith being well documented in lyrics and elsewhere) beliefs.

So maybe he didn’t get vaccinated before heading out on tour with The Skull because he didn’t believe in it. Maybe it was because he was a habitual smoker north of 55 years old and had other health concerns. Either way, dude is still dead and has had a sonic influence spanning generations. That, to me, seemed worth honoring without judgment.

As to my own opinion on vaccines in general and this one in particular — not that they’re vaguely relevant — but yes I got those shots, if/when the booster is available I’ll get that too. If it it needs to be more elaborately expressed than that, leave a comment and I’m happy to chat about that or anything else.

Either way, thanks for listening and/or reading. I hope you enjoy.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at: http://gimmemetal.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 09.03.21

The Skull The Endless Road Turns Dark The Endless Road Turns Dark (2018)
Blackfinger Beside Still Water When Colors Fade Away (2017)
VT
Trouble The Tempter Psalm 9 (1984)
Trouble Wickedness of Man The Skull (1985)
Trouble Peace of Mind Run to the Light (1987)
Trouble The Wolf Trouble (1990)
Trouble Come Touch the Sky Manic Frustration (1992)
Trouble Tomorrow Never Knows Plastic Green Head (1995)
Trouble Pictures of Life Simple Mind Condition (2007)
VT
Lid Mary Agnes In the Mushroom (1997)
Blackfinger On Tuesday Morning Blackfinger (2014)
Trouble Assassin Psalm 9 (1984)
Trouble Black Shapes of Doom Trouble (1990)
The Skull Send Judas Down For Those Which Are Asleep (2014)
The Skull Thy Will Be Done The Endless Road Turns Dark (2018)
Trouble Arthur Brown’s Whiskey Bar Simple Mind Condition (2007)
Trouble The Eye Plastic Green Head (1995)
Trouble Fear No Evil The Skull (1985)
Trouble The Misery Shows Run to the Light (1987)
Trouble The Misery Shows (Act II) Trouble (1990)
Trouble The Sleeper Manic Frustration (1992)
Trouble Victim of the Insane Psalm 9 (1984)
VT
Trouble At the End of My Daze Trouble (1990)
Trouble Bastards Will Pay Psalm 9 (1984)

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Sept. 17 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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Rest in Peace Eric Wagner of Trouble and The Skull, 1959-2021

Posted in Features on August 23rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the skull eric wagner (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Former Trouble and current The Skull vocalist Eric Wagner has died of pneumonia brought about by Covid-19. His son, Luke Wagner, confirmed on social media. It is impossible to estimate the devastation that Wagner’s loss means to the international underground community at large, but it nearly goes without saying that he was a legend in his own time with a career spanning more than 40 years behind him, as well as someone continuing to do pivotal work in doom metal today.

As part of Trouble, Wagner was essential in defining the trajectory of American doom. Early albums through Metal Blade Records like 1984’s Trouble/Psalm 9, 1985’s The Skull and 1987’s Run to the Light set forth a blueprint that many still follow today, and even as Trouble shifted into more heavy rock and classic rock-minded fare on their 1990 self-titled, their efforts remained no less crucial, with Wagner’s Beatles influence becoming all the more defining on 1992’s Manic Frustration and 1995’s Plastic Green Head, which would be his final album with the band until 2007’s Simple Mind Condition.

Always creative and a songwriter in his own right, Wagner would work across multiple outfits at a time, whether it was the collaboration Lid with Daniel Cavanagh of Anathema or his 2004 participation in Dave Grohl’s Probot project, which helped introduce his voice and style to a broader audience prior to his return to Trouble for what would be his last full-length with the band. In the years following his departure from Trouble, Wagner went on in 2012 to found The Skull alongside guitarist Lothar Keller and fellow Trouble veterans Ron Holzner (bass) and Jeff Olson (drums), first as an homage project and later one with original material.

The Skull’s two full-lengths, For Those Which Are Asleep and The Endless Road Turns Dark, would see release in 2014 and 2016, respectively, through Tee Pee Records. Blackfinger, which would become something of a side-project as The Skull took priority, also released two albums, in 2014’s self-titled and 2017’s When Colors Fade Away, with the acoustic solo collection, Highdeas Vol. 1, arriving in 2015.

It was reported late last week that Wagner, who contracted Covid-19 while on a co-headlining tour with The Skull and fellow landmark outfit The Obsessed, had entered the hospital with Covid pneumonia and that remaining live dates including a slated appearance at Psycho Las Vegas were canceled. He was, again reportedly, unvaccinated.

He was someone whose work was immediately identifiable, and his influence is spread across generations of music from all over the world. It is impossible to hear his voice and not know who’s performing, and on stage, he brought a sense of character and even at times humor to his presence that was inimitable and spoke to his Chicago roots. He may be best remembered as Trouble’s singer, but the arc of his career would find him inspiring others multiple times over, and his passion for what he did was no less inimitable than the voice that was so much his own. If it is impossible to rank the scale of his influence, that is because it continues to spread.

As somebody fortunate enough to interview Wagner on several occasions and to see him live on many more, I offer sincere condolences on behalf of myself and this site for whatever that’s worth to Wagner’s friends, family, bandmates, and any other associates. In my experience, he was a sweet, humble man who understood his place and at least some of what his work meant to others. Of his feelings on Trouble after leaving the band, he told me in 2011, “Those four guys are the only ones who know what it was like to do what we did… I can talk to them and they know exactly what I mean and what it felt like and what we went through.” It was a moment of rare perspective that still resonates a decade later.

He will be dearly missed. It is a tragic loss.

The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark (2017)

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