Friday Full-Length: Zoroaster, Matador

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Zoroaster, Matador (2010)

There’s a repeated line in the opener of Zoroaster‘s Matador (review here) that would seem to sum up the entire attitude of the album. It goes: ‘Don’t tell me how to die.’ I’m not sure if I’d call it part of a chorus, but it comes up once or twice in “D.N.R.” and as the last line of the song, is the lead-in to the bizarro crush that follows throughout the Atlanta-based doomers’ 2010 swansong. I recall when I first heard the record — which arrived just one year after their second outing, 2009’s Voice of Saturn (review here), as their debut on E1 Music — it took a while to settle in, and by that I mean I didn’t completely understand what the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Will Fiore, bassist/vocalist Brent Anderson and drummer Dan Scanlan were doing with their sound. I’d followed their progress since their 2005 self-titled CD demo through the self-released 2007 debut, Dog Magic, and on from there, and everything they did from outing to outing showed clear growth from one to the next, but when the nine-track/44-minute Matador hit with its swirling, Sanford Parker-produced spaciousness, the prevailing vibe was so weird that I was caught almost entirely off-guard. One expected big riffs and grooves from Zoroaster. One didn’t expect the chants and meditations of “Old World.” It took some getting used to.

On the off-chance you clicked the review link in the first sentence of this post, you’ll see I did eventually adjust my consciousness to Matador‘s wavelength. Took me a minute, but I got there. The record came out in July 2010 — I had an interview with Fiore up to mark the release; spoke to him a few times over the years and he never remembered me but was always cool to talk to — and by then I was ready to proclaim it one of the year’s best. Six years later, I stand by that. It would wind up being Zoroaster‘s final album, but at the time, Matador sounded like it was just the beginning, and in that blend of psychedelia and the churning sludge from whence they emerged, FioreAnderson and Scanlan discovered a sound that was truly their own — one only bolstered by Parker‘s production. Their years of hard touring paid off in pure aesthetic achievement, and whether it was the rawer thrust of “Ancient Ones,” the soaring leads of “Trident,” the meaner shouts of “Black Hole” or the languid vibes of “Odyssey II,” a companion-piece to righteous and deceptively catchy third cut “Odyssey,” and the final gravity well of its title-track, Matador was immersive across its span in a way that neither Voice of Saturn nor Dog Magic could’ve possibly been. That’s not to say anything against either of those LPs, which I wouldn’t do, just that the effort Zoroaster put into what they did came to fruition in these tracks, and as we moved into the current decade, they seemed poised to be among the forerunners of adventurous, forward thinking US doom. New label, more expansive sound, touring as much as ever — there were few safer bets to make.

Accordingly, that’s not at all how it went. These years later, I’m somewhat amazed that in the array of reunions happening, nobody has kicked around Zoroaster‘s name as one due for a resurgence. Maybe it’s too soon — the last touring I heard of from them was with Church of Misery in 2013; by then, Anderson was out of the band and replaced by Mike Morris — but their laser lightshow was always welcome every time I was able to catch it and I can’t imagine their presentation wouldn’t find favor amid the new generation of heavy aficionados that has surfaced in increasing numbers since the band’s departure. We may or may not get there eventually — you won’t find me daring to predict, having sort of learned my lesson in that regard — but the point is that both live and in the studio, Zoroaster were a special group and delivered something that no one else did in quite the same way. I have to wonder what planes of existence they might’ve moved to had they kept going after Matador, where all this lysergic weight would’ve carried them. As it stands, one can find Anderson in Order of the Owl, who released their We are Here to Collect Our Crown EP earlier this year following up on 2012’s In the Noon of the After Day full-length debut, while Fiore rounds out the four-piece incarnation of Royal Thunder, who will reportedly have a new record out in 2017. Last I heard, Scanlan, who was an absolute difference-maker especially on stage, wasn’t currently with a band.

Whether Zoroaster ever make a return is something the years will tell, but in revisiting Matador so long after the fact, it’s even more obvious to me how much they had to offer. If you were into it at the time or if it’s new to you now, I hope you enjoy.

It was a quiet week overall, though it hardly started that way on Monday driving back from holiday celebrations with family in New Jersey. Granted we stopped for dinner, but seven-plus hours of a four-hour trip felt perhaps needlessly brutal. Fortunately, I had plenty of time to recover with the week off from work. And that’s exactly what I did. Errands here and there, and it turned out to be the perfect span for the Quarterly Review — which wraps on Monday — since otherwise it was pretty quiet, but in the main it was delicious food prepared not at all in a post-workday panic, hanging out with The Patient Mrs. playing Final Fantasy XV, making our way through the entirety of the Die Hard film franchise, etc.

Call it a reminder of how much I prefer existence when I can wake up and write every day on my own terms; of what I want my life to be. I need weeks like this.

Next week, a return to somewhat frenetic normalcy. Here’s what I’ve got planned so far, subject to change as always:

SUN: Year-End Poll results.
MON: Quarterly Review Day 6 and a new video from The Progerians.
TUE: Sgt. Sunshine review and Drone Hunter video.
WED: Review/premiere from Blood Mist, announcement from Hair of the Dog.
THU: Much-delayed Surya Kris Peters review, video premiere from Drive by Wire.
FRI: Sergio Ch. review slated as of now, but that might shift.

Lots of good stuff to come as we get into 2017. I’ve got my list of most anticipated releases coming together — it’s over 100 strong at this point. I want a week or two to solidify things further and give myself a break from writing lists generally, but it’ll be posted before the end of January.

In the meantime, as noted above, the motherload of lists — the results of the Year-End Poll — goes up this weekend, so stay tuned for that. As of this post, it’s still a really close race as it has been all month, and we’ve totally blown away last year’s number of contributors by nearly 200, so I’m very, very pleased with how it’s all turning out. Of course, everyone’s list will be included as always. It will be massive and probably crash the site, but whatever. Poll-time comes but once a year.

I say this every week, but if you’re the type to celebrate New Year’s, it’s especially true: Please be safe and have a great time. No DUIs, no fireworks blowing off hands, none of that shit. Not saying you can’t enjoy yourself, just saying no casualties. The universe needs all the rockers it can get.

Alright, that’s it for me. Can’t say I’ll mourn 2016’s passing, as it was a rough one on any number of levels personal and otherwise, but let’s all look forward and hope for better times to come. Please know you have my best wishes.

And please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Saint Vitus Announce East Coast Tour Dates for October

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 23rd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

The fact that Saint Vitus are heading out in October to tour the East Coast with a couple dates in the Midwest as well is excellent enough. Frankly, I’m just glad these dudes got enough of a response from 2012’s triumphant return album, Lillie: F-65 (review here), that they still want to be a band at all, let alone one that hits the road multiple times a year, either in support of that record or otherwise. Mark it down again, Saint Vitus touring is fucking awesome.

That said, we already know they started writing new material back at the beginning of last month, and we know from past experience that when guitarist Dave Chandler works, he doesn’t waste any time putting things together. You can see where this is going. My question is whether or not Saint Vitus could possibly be road-testing new material for a possible 2014 follow-up to Lillie: F-65. I know that seems like a pretty quick turnaround, but records like Born too Late, Mournful Cries, V and the recently-reissued C.O.D. all had two years from one to the next, so they’d be right on pace.

I’ll be keeping my doomed fingers crossed for a new song or two in the set while I mark the calendar and start nerding out at the chance to see Vitus again. Here are the dates:

SAINT VITUS October 2013 U.S. headlining tour dates

Oct. 4 San Antonio TX @ Korova
Oct. 5 Norman OK @ The Opolis
Oct. 6 St Louis MO @ Firebird
Oct. 7 Minneapolis MN @ 7th St Entry
Oct. 8 Chicago IL @ Reggies
Oct. 9 Grand Rapids @ Pyramid Scheme
Oct. 10 Detroit MI @ Magic Stick
Oct. 11 Cleveland OH @ Grog Shop
Oct. 12 Pittsburgh PA @ Rex Theater
Oct. 13 Baltimore MD @ Metro Gallery
Oct. 14 Upstate NY @ Bogie’s
Oct. 15 Boston MA @ Middle East
Oct. 17 West Chester PA @ The Note
Oct. 18 Brooklyn NY @ Europa
Oct. 19 TBA
Oct. 20 Springfield VA @ Empire
Oct. 21 Richmond VA @ Strange Matter
Oct. 22 Asheville NC @ The Orange Peel
Oct. 23 Nashville TN @ Exit / In
Oct. 24 Atlanta GA @ The EARL
Oct. 25 New Orleans LA @ One Eyed Jacks

Saint Vitus, “The Waste of Time” Live at Sweden Rock 2012

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Zoroaster Post New Studio Footage

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 13th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Considering that Atlanta trio Zoroaster‘s third album, 2010’s Matador (review here), followed about 16 months after their second, 2009’s Voice of Saturn (review here), a three-year break before a follow-up to their E1 Music debut seems like kind of a long stretch. Granted, in that time, the band had to replace a third of its lineup in switching out Brent Anderson — whose subsequent band, Order of the Owl, released their In the Noon of the After Day last year (streaming here) — for Mike Morris, and they did plenty of touring for Matador with Morris on board (reviews here and here), but even so, they’re about due for a new one.

It’s encouraging, then, to see Zoroaster in the studio putting together demos for a fourth album, and hopefully it won’t be too long before one materializes. The audio here boasts some of the most complex melodies I’ve ever heard from the band, so for still being in the beginning stages, they seem like they’re off to a good start.

Zoroaster, Studio Teaser 2013

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Live Review: Hail!Hornet, Zoroaster and Slow Southern Steel in Brooklyn, 02.08.12

Posted in Reviews on February 9th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

The thought came to me as I drove past my office on my way home last night after the Hail!Hornet, Zoroaster and Slow Southern Steel show in Brooklyn that I might as well take the exit and sleep here, since it’d be about six hours before I had to be up and on my way back. That was about 2AM. I’d arrived at Europa roughly five hours earlier, just before the 9PM start of CT from Rwake‘s Southern metal documentary, Slow Southern Steel. Literally just made it, with the kind of timing that, had I actually tried to pull it off, I almost certainly wouldn’t have.

Chairs were set up in rows on the floor of the venue, and there was a screen on the stage. The deal for the night was the movie followed directly by performances from Zoroaster (who were in Brooklyn not two full months ago with Black Cobra and The Body) and the abrasive underground supergroup Hail!Hornet, for whom this would mark their first tour. It was a shitty night, cold and vaguely snowing aside from the general fact of it being Wednesday, so I knew the venue wouldn’t be crowded, and sure enough, when I got there, it wasn’t.

I sat in the middle, toward the back — at one point near the end of the film, CT, who had directed, produced, conceived, narrated, etc., came and sat close by — and it was hard at times to see the screen, but Slow Southern Steel got its point across anyway. Between this, Such Hawks, Such Hounds, the apparently ongoing work of Sam Dunn, the forthcoming Bobby Liebling documentary Last Days Here, God Bless Ozzy Osbourne and Anvil: The Story of Anvil (among others), metal seems to have hit a new age of self-examination, but the Southern underground has been potent enough over the last 20-25 years to more than justify a specific look.

The film is hardly impartial in its regionalism — as CT introduces each chapter, he gradually comes to adopt a “we” tone, more representing the South than looking at it from a would-be outsider’s eye — and somewhat problematic in its treatment of Southern culture as Hank Williams III defends his flying the rebel flag with the familiar “history not racism” argument. Sorry dude, but the history is racism. I’d almost buy it more if the position was, “we’re reclaiming this and making it stand for something else” — the inherent flaws of dominant culture narratives notwithstanding — but saying “I’m not a racist” doesn’t mean you’re not complicit in perpetuating race-based cultural ideologies; most of us are, regardless of our actual race and whether we live in the north or south.

Mike Williams of Eyehategod was a little more articulate on the subject, touching on class and the struggle of the post-Civil War American south, but far more interesting in general was the overarching discussion of religion, growing up Southern Baptist, which everyone from Ben Hogg of Beaten Back to Pure to members of Music Hates You — who were featured prominently alongside Zoroaster and the Atlanta scene as the future of Southern metal — chimed in on, and the stories of how the scene grew out of a collective of individual tastes. Conspicuously absent was Kirk Windstein, but Pepper Keenan, Phil Anselmo and Jimmy Bower were all featured, as well as Phillip and Chuck Schaaf of Deadbird and a wide host of others, talking out their origins — Steve Brooks of Torche/Floor talking about breakdancing to Diary of a Madman was a highlight — and much more.

When I interviewed CT and asked him about the film, he said he wanted to explore what makes Southern metal Southern metal, since he was tired of being asked all the time. Fair enough, but he probably should have actually said that in the movie, which comes off vague in the beginning without that initial statement of direction and seems to wander between exploring specific ideas — religion, race, class, personal histories with music — and the contributions of bands like Eyehategod and Buzzov*en, to whom Erik Larson of The Might Could/Hail!Hornet paid particular homage.

Since Zoroaster and members of Hail!HornetLarson, vocalist T-Roy Medlin (also Sourvein and ex-Buzzov*en), bassist “Dixie” Dave Collins (also Weedeater); guitarist Vince Burke didn’t speak, but showed up in live footage of Beaten Back to Pure — were included in the movie to varying degrees, it made sense they’d also be playing the show. For as prominent as they were, I wondered what it was keeping Music Hates You from doing the tour, but since Slow Southern Steel ran feature-length, two bands were plenty to follow it. Zoroaster took the stage following some monitor problems for drummer Dan Scanlan and ripped through a set of their heavy psychedelic noise wash.

It was pretty similar to what they’d played at the Saint Vitus bar the last time through, if not all the same songs, but though the lasers weren’t a surprise this time around, their bringing CT up for a guest vocal spot was. As anyone who’s ever seen Rwake knows, CT can scream like a bastard, and though he seems to have adapted well to the role of filmmaker (when he wasn’t fronting Zoroaster, he was shooting live footage on one of those tiny, futuristic cameras), it was a quick switch to singing alongside Zoroaster guitarist Will Fiore and dreadlocked bassist Mike Morris. The band wasn’t exactly lacking layers in their overwhelmingly distorted morass, but one more never hurts. Their sound might have been more encompassing last time, in the smaller Saint Vitus performance space, where it bounced off the walls and had nowhere to go but inside your newly-fractured skull, but they made the most of it anyhow.

Their having done so makes perfect sense, but showing Slow Southern Steel before the bands played made for kind of a strange vibe afterward. Part of that is probably because we were in New York, which, let’s be frank, is about as far away from the Southern metal underground as you can get and still be in the country, but there was a staid feel in the crowd at the start of Zoroaster‘s set and on from there. I’m not saying both Zoroaster and Hail!Hornet didn’t kick ass or that Slow Southern Steel wasn’t well-realized and fascinating to watch, just that there’s probably a reason the phrase, “Let’s get this party started” isn’t usually followed by, “With this documentary.”

And even if it’s a documentary made about metal by metalheads with that specific passion for metal that headbangers seem to think is reserved solely for themselves — I don’t know how to tell you this, but there are people on this planet who are really, really passionate — scarily passionate — about Taylor Swift. More passionate than you are about Slayer. There are people who care more about their car than you ever will about Black Sabbath. That’s the way the world works. Perhaps more vehement though its followers may be on the average, heavy music does not have the market cornered on passion, however much it seems to enjoy telling itself otherwise.

That’s not specifically a critique on Slow Southern Steel, but in any case, it was Medlin who took it upon himself to get the crowd going before Hail!Hornet started their set. He thanked Zoroaster, calling them “brothers from the A-T-L,” and pumped up the audience that remained — it was on past midnight by then — by asking if we were feeling alright, how we were doing, and so on. We were fine, but certainly much better once Hail!Hornet got going. It seems more and more with shows these days, I drag my feet and hem and haw about actually showing up, and then once I do, there’s a particular “oh yeah, that’s why I’m here” moment. Hearing the fuzz-caked roar of Collins‘ bass alongside the sharper, cuttingly metallic tone of Burke‘s guitar was it. Since they’ve never toured before, it wasn’t such a surprise that the crowd was sparse for Hail!Hornet, but I’d be amazed if more people didn’t show up next time. They fucking killed.

As Larson — whose riffing once helped propel Virginia outfit Alabama Thunderpussy into being one of the best and most characteristically Southern metal bands ever — blasted away on the drums behind them, Burke and Collins alternately thrashed and lumbered, slamming headfirst into massive, schooled breakdowns over which Medlin screamed righteous proclamations, grooving on the songs in a manner more Jay-Z than Pantera, but never losing sight of the dirty South edge he brings to Sourvein‘s stage show. On the whole, they were tighter even than I thought they’d be, and though Collins puked and at one point removed his socks, unleashing a lethal stink as he played barefoot, the songs sounded all the more powerful for the chaos.

I bought a CD copy of their second record, last year’s Disperse the Curse (recorded, mixed and mastered by Burke at his Sniper Studio), and watched as the band unleashed “Suicide Belt” and “Shoot the Pigs,” along with “Devil’s Hound” and others from their 2007 self-titled, finishing with the rawness of “Concussion Conspiracy” from that album and seeming almost to implode at the end, crushed at last under their own tonal weight. Soaked in his own beer, Medlin said goodnight, and the show was over with no more fanfare than that. I walked back to my car and headed home to Jersey.

Maybe it would’ve made more sense to do so, but I didn’t sleep at my office. I kept on the extra 25 minutes home. With Slow Southern Steel‘s focus on the importance of family and talk of how that’s what really matters amidst the mess of the rest, it seemed the only choice to make.

Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump.

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Live Review: Black Cobra, Zoroaster and The Body in Brooklyn, 12.11.11

Posted in Reviews on December 14th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Sunday inevitably rolled around after seeing Kyuss Lives! on Saturday and Cortez/Mighty High on Friday, and where one tour was ending, another was just getting started. This time it was Black Cobra, emerged from under the Kyuss banner’s black sunbow/bird color scheme, taking on the role of headliner on a bill that teamed them with two of modern doom’s most formidable names: Zoroaster and The Body. I was exhausted, and had the show been just about anywhere else in Brooklyn but the Saint Vitus bar, which is unbelievably easy for me to drive to in non-rush-hours, I probably would’ve sat it out.

But I’d never seen The Body, and between last year’s All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood and this year’s Nothing Passes collaboration with Braveyoung, I’d been inundated enough with their fucked up sonics that I thought it worth my time and further wear and tear to show up and catch it in-person. Plus, I hadn’t seen Zoroaster since Mike Morris joined on bass in replacement for Brent Anderson and it had been nearly 24 hours since Black Cobra made my eyes bleed with the sheer force of their thrashing righteousness, so I had to go! I DVR’ed the Boardwalk Empire season finale (haven’t watched it yet, don’t tell me what happened) and hit the road.

Gang Signs opened, and I missed all but the last 30 seconds — literally — of their set. I barely had time to look up at the stage to see who it was before they said “thank you, good night.” Some you win, some you lose. There was a break while The Body positioned their strange tube-like drums and wall of bass cabinets, so I had plenty of time to stand there and obsessively check my email on my phone, send The Patient Mrs. text messages about how tired I was, check the forum for spambots and run through all the usual crap people do while pretending to look busy. When The Body, their sampler set and ready to roll, finally got going, they would be probably the loudest band of the night.

If it’s any indication of the kind of volume I’m talking about, guitarist/vocalist Chip King plays out of two sideways-stacked Ampeg 8x12s. The only other person I’ve ever seen pull that off is Dickie Peterson of Blue Cheer, who, of course, was playing bass. King ran his line through a Peavey combo amp and a bass head that had “Bastard Noise” on a plaque on the front, either in reference to the band or the sound it made. In combination with the distorted noise and samples from drummer Lee Buford, The Body‘s sound was huge low-end malevolence. King‘s screams rested far back in the mix as he stood away from the mic, and it was heavy enough that I was glad I left the house to see it. Their atmosphere is as pummeling as anything they actually do on stage.

I suppose that holds true for Zoroaster as well, though the Atlanta natives are a better stage act and were greatly aided at St. Vitus as always by an extensive light show — now with lasers! Their songs themselves came across in an overwhelming wash of noise through which drummer Dan Scanlan was charged with crashing, and as their progression over the course of their three-to-date full-lengths has taken them ever further into the psychedelic reaches, so too has their live show followed suit. I can’t remember if it was for 2010’s Matador or 2009’s Voice of Saturn that I last saw them (it was downstairs at Webster Hall in Manhattan), but there’s been a marked change in their dynamic since then, and undoubtedly the addition of Morris in the bassist role is a part of that.

Could be that Zoroaster are maturing and are more assured in their aesthetic, or it could just be the new trio lineup works well together and I caught them on a good night, but either way, Zoroaster looked to be exactly where they wanted to be in terms of sound and presentation. The crowd was a Brooklyn crowd, and it was Sunday, but the room heated up quickly with the energy spent — though that could also have been the tubes driving guitarist/vocalist Will Fiore‘s Green and Orange amps. With Morris putting a Sunn head through another of the evening’s several Ampeg 8x12s, I was starting to feel like I was at a trade convention for doom suppliers. Sounded cool, either way.

The danger as I see it for Zoroaster now is not losing themselves in it. They have this massively sensory experience happening, where the sound and the light envelops you and the band really seems to be going somewhere and taking you along, but I can’t help but also feel like they’re skirting a line between engaging and indulgence. If they are, they haven’t crossed it yet, and the crowd was certainly on board for what they brought to St. Vitus. It was Sunday night, and the crowd was meh, and I was meh, but they killed it anyway, and I’m excited to see where the follow-up to Matador takes them stylistically. It’s been quite a ride so far.

As each act played and then removed their equipment to make room for the next band, whose stuff was backlined behind, the size of the stage seemed to grow, so that by the time Jason Landrian and Rafa Martinez of Black Cobra were ready to start up, there was space on either side of them and they seemed clustered together in the middle, huddled almost. Behind them, a large banner bearing the cover of their new album, Invernal, draped down to the floor and scrunched up there like poorly-measured curtains, and when they launched their set, they did so entirely without ceremony. No intro, no samples, nothing. Just the ambient sound of the crowd and then that noise eaten in an instant by the start of “Avalanche.”

Headliners, they obviously had more time than they had the night before supporting The Sword (who they blew off the stage) and Kyuss Lives!, and they put it to good use, playing every song off of Invernal with highlights from 2007’s Feather and Stone and 2009’s Chronomega mixed in. The only cut from 2006’s Bestial to make it in was “Omniscient” (can’t fault the choice), so the focus was clearly on newer material, and though “Negative Reversal” and Feather and Stone closer “Swords for Teeth” were high points, they paled in comparison to the power Landrian and Martinez showed on “Abyss” and “Erebus Dawn,” their handling of which was so precise and careful as to be awe-inspiring.

Where Landrian‘s voice, presented cavernously in parts of Invernal, had been naturally bolstered by the high ceiling of the Wellmont, in Brooklyn, in the considerably smaller room, he sounded more compressed, albeit clearer in the live mix. It did nothing to lessen the force of the material, and so wasn’t a problem. And if Martinez was at all spent by the month solid he’d just spend touring in bigger venues, he didn’t show it. Rather, Black Cobra made it perfectly clear why they were at the top of the bill (the fact that they’re the ones with the newest record and neither band wanting to follow them might also have something to do with it) and ripped through a round with their most potent material yet.

I was ready to go after “Obliteration” — how could I not be, after that? — but as Landrian and Martinez stood on stage with their backs to the crowd, waiting to start the encore, it was clear they weren’t done. “Red Tide” and “Chronosphere” wrapped the night and I was quick out the door, the wall long since hit and my eyes halfway closed before I was on the other side of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. It’d be another hour before I got back to the valley, and I’d wind up exhausted all week from the three nights out and with a cold to boot, but screw it. If 2011’s taught me anything, it’s taught me that you’re either there or you’re not there, and I have no regrets on this one.

Extra pics after the jump.

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audiObelisk: Third Batch of Roadburn 2011 Audio Streams Posted Online

Posted in audiObelisk on May 19th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

The third batch of audio streams from Roadburn 2011 might be the best one yet. I don’t think I’ve stopped raving about how good Ramesses (above) and Sungrazer were since I got back from the fest, and with the chance to hear some bands I missed over there — my head hangs in New Jerseyan shame for not catching The Atomic Bitchwax — it’s good to at least hear what I didn’t see. You know the drill by now — here are the links:

The Atomic Bitchwax

Carlton Melton

Pharaoh Overlord






As always, these streams were captured live at Roadburn at the 013 Popcentrum in Tilburg, Netherlands, by Marcel van de Vondervoort and his Spacejam Recording team. Special thanks to Walter and Roadburn for letting me host the links on this site.

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Top 20 of 2010 #18: Zoroaster, Matador

Posted in Features on December 3rd, 2010 by JJ Koczan

There were arguments to be made for and against Zoroaster‘s 2010 E1 Music debut, Matador, but at the end of the day, I dug the record and it’s off-kilter methodology. The Atlanta trio’s third album overall, it was time for Zoroaster to shake up their approach. Last year’s Voice of Saturn saw them begin to experiment with clean vocals and more melodically-conscious songwriting, and aided by the production of Sanford Parker, Matador took that experimentation in new and innovative directions.

It’s a fascinating record, and hypnotic. If you played it for me back to back with Zoroaster‘s full-length debut, Dog Magic (2007), I wouldn’t think they were the same band, or at very least not the same personnel therein. But ultimately it may have come too quickly on the heels of Voice of Saturn, which was an honorable mention addition to last year’s top 10, as it seems like some of the material could have been developed further — the toying with traditional rock and roll guitar conventionalism on “Titan,” for example — before being put to tape.

Zoroaster are proving themselves able to produce at a consistently high quality, and Matador is a big part of that, but I’d be interested to see what came out of it if they took two years between albums instead of one again. The jump from Dog Magic to Voice of Saturn was much greater than that from Voice of Saturn to Matador, and as they’re at a pivotal point in their career — right on the verge of the bigger metal notoriety of bands like High on Fire — it’s time for them to really hunker down and start writing great songs. I hope in the future we can look back at Matador as the beginning of that process.

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Zoroaster Have a New Song for the Hearing and Listening To

Posted in audiObelisk on September 23rd, 2010 by JJ Koczan

I guess the headline pretty much says it all, but Atlanta doom mavens Zoroaster have made the song “Witch’s Hammer” available for streaming and downloading as part of Adult Swim‘s Metal Swim online compilation, which also features the likes of Jesu, Isis, Torche and Boris.

One can only imagine Adult Swim would rather you checked out the track at their site, and if you’re so inclined, that’s certainly cool by me. If not, however, here’s the song for streaming goodness, followed by the latest off the PR wire:

Zoroaster, “Witch’s Hammer”

Celebrated psych metal band Zoroaster has unveiled the brand new track “Witch’s Hammer” via the just-released [adult swim]/Scion A/V compilation Metal Swim. Described as “a collection of 16 metal tracks from some of the heaviest bands in existence,” Metal Swim features “rare and never-before-released songs from some of the genre’s most notable bands” and is available for free download at now.

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