Tuesday, January 17, 2017

St. Lenox - Ten Hymns From My American Gothic



I'm not hip waveriders.  I'm not cool.  I don't keep up with trends or fashion my playlists based off of who is hot right now.  Why have I mentioned these character traits?  The answer lies in another question.  Have you heard of an artist named St. Lenox?  I certainly had not until I stumbled upon his latest release entitled Ten Hymns From My American Gothic.  Now I know and knowing is...you know the rest.

St. Lenox burst onto the indie scene a couple of years ago in 2014 with his debut album Ten Songs About Memory And Hope.  That album made enough of an impression on several journalists and publications to be named to their year end best-of lists.  Fast forward to 2017.  Based off of the evidence I have gathered this second album is poised to obtain much more critical acclaim and I have absolutely no issue with that whatsoever.  In fact, I'm going to do what I can to add more fuel to the fire because this album is absolutely stunning!

One of the highest compliments I can pay to Ten Hymns... is that it doesn't sound like anything else in my current music rotation.  Amusingly that uniqueness nearly made me dismiss this album.  My first taste of St. Lenox was the song "Fuel America".  It began with some tasteful piano playing accompanied by a drum machine.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Then the vocals began and my ears informed me that everything had suddenly changed. 

This incredibly powerful, resonant voice seized my full attention and I admit that I was taken aback.  A chuckle escaped my lips because I couldn't immediately draw comparisons to any other singer, but the distinctive timbre of Andrew Choi's voice wasn't the only element which gave me pause.  The lyrical delivery on each song does not conform to what I typically encounter.  Others have described it as 'stream-of-consciousness' singing and I can't disagree.  Yes there are repeated choruses but these songs have more in common with short stories than poetry.  Verses do not relate to each other except to advance the tales Mr. Choi weaves so well.  Upon first exposure these elements were jarring and I stopped listening.

Like all great music I've encountered however, that small sample was memorable enough to leap unbidden into the front of my mind on several occasions.  I revisited Ten Hymns... and quickly became completely enamored with this stupendous music.  If you have not heard of St. Lenox until now you are in for a real treat!  I mean, where else can you hear incredibly catchy songs about Thurgood Marshall or President Nixon?  Nowhere waveriders.  Nowhere but this album.  Listen and enjoy!

-Penfold




Monday, January 16, 2017

Ripple Music New Releases! White Light Cemetery and Freedom Hawk Limited Edition Vinyl and Tests


With production work by the legendary Kent Stump of Wo Fat, "Careful What You Wish For," is the Lafayette, Louisiana-based quartet’s third official release overall after their 2011 EP debut “Crow Sessions” and its follow-up, their self-titled full length. White Light Cemetery‘s guitarist/vocalist Shea Bearden, bassist Tara Miller, guitarist Ryan ‘Cletus‘ Robin, and drummer Thomas Colley are the very embodiment of metallic Southern Rock circa 2017 and this fact is verified all throughout “Careful What You Wish For“. If you’ve never heard WLC, it is what would result if one mixed the best elements of Black Oak Arkansas with Pepper Keenan era Corrosion Of Conformity and added a splash of Black Stone Cherry for flavor. Now, who the hell wouldn’t want to check that out I ask you?

On sale now!!  Limited vinyl limited to 80 copies.  www.ripplemusic.bigcartel.com

"White Light Cemetery have released the first great rock record of the year and only tease at what a formidable force they surely must be when witnessed live. Highly Recommended." -- Atom Heart Mutha.
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At long last!!! Finally available on vinyl and completely remastered by Chris Goosman, and never sounding better, Freedom Hawk's long out-of-print debut gets the full, grand re-release via Ripple!

Coming to you on January 28th. Dawn Arises Edition: Gold/Black two tone swirl with White splatter limited to only 80 copies.  Only 1 test press! Midnight Black and CD.

"If Freedom Hawk were in search of the lost Black Sabbath riff, they've struck gold. Their debut CD, 'Sunlight' is so chock full of lumbering Sabbath-powered riffs and Blue Cheer-pinched guitar licks that it will put cracks in your walls once you press play! Freedom Hawk rock loud and proud and come HIGHLY RECOMMENDED."
- The Atomic Chaser, THE DRP/All Access Magazine​​

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Marillion From A Swedebeast's Point Of View



Marillion - Brave
Once I caught wind that Marillion were in the studio to complete the follow up to 'Holidays In Eden', a strange feeling came over me. Was this going to be mark 2 of the previous release, or are Marillion able to fight off the record label and create a non-comformist wax? Something that is truly them which their fans had grown to love? As reviews started to trickle in raving about the return of the true Marillion, I was still very cautious about 'Brave'. Remember, I sided much more with Fish, therefore anything the guys did, had to be on point. However, the moment 'Brave' from my speakers for the first time, any fear of giving in to EMI's demands were gone. Instead, what I heard was a classic recording in the grander scheme of things. Elation and euphoria are two very small words to describe my state of mind as the opening bars to 'Bridge' rang out. Sadly this was the last time I paid attention to anything Marillion did for many years. Yes I know I'm an idiot but that's what happened.

As the guys got together after a much-needed break from recording and touring 'Holidays In Eden', to create a new album, they only had bits and pieces ready, at best. No proper songs nor any direction on a theme was decided on until Steve Hogarth told the band about a news segment he had heard on a radio station in Bristol, England. A woman had been found walking on Severn Bridge, a known location for suicides, and was allegedly stopped from jumping to her own death. However, she wouldn't speak to anyone, so no one knew what caused her to attempt this. Marillion decided this woman's story was the angle they needed and began to piece together what would become the amazing 'Brave'.

Setting the mood right away the eerie ‘Bridge’ begins with a ship baying it’s horns before a dreamlike keyboard takes it away. It’s almost like the beginning of the end. As Steve Hogarth starts to sing, we are inside the woman’s mind who is preparing to take that final step. The song leads into ‘Living With The Big Lie’ guided by a trippy, creepy guitar. Once the whole band joins in, the atmosphere is dreamy and dark with a lot of turmoil bubbling inside our main character. It picks up pace eventually making the woman’s distraught mind even more vivid, as she is thinking about all the events that led her to the bridge. ‘Runaway’ goes back in time when the troubles started for the woman. It deals about being blinkered, so instead of finding a resolve and giving proper help, only pity and sympathy is given which many times triggers a trauma, which is the case with the bridge woman. Built up around five chapters, if you like, ‘Goodbye To All That’ tells it all how the woman slips fast into the tormented realm she came to inhabit. The descent happens faster due to the lack of proper help from her family. Thinking she has found a resolution and an escape, she embraces the world of heroin with all that it entails. Deep down she knows it’s wrong but it’s better than the false airs put up at home. Musically the song covers many different spectra and it works so well depicting the whirlwind she’s in.

Heavy riffs initiates ‘Hard As Love’ which is the album’s out-and-out rocker as the band really lets it all hang out. Trying to open up and let the love she so desperately crave in, it might be too little too late. Still, she tries because she wants to love and be loved and have a purpose. Lyrically ‘The Hollow Man’ is a direct follow up to ‘Hard As Love’, but it tells about the consequences of shutting love and people out of her life. A soft piano courtesy of Mark Kelly backs up Hogarth for the most part and it creates the perfect soundtrack to the woman stepping away from her people. ‘Alone Again In The Lap Of Luxury’ is the point where our main character hits breaking point. Her father commits acts of treason towards his wife and family. The mother tries to deny everything for the sake of superficial appearances, and this plummets our heroine to her impending doom. Steve Rothery is playing his heart out, as does Ian Mosley and Pete Trewavas as always, all while Mark Kelly is adding anguish to the woman’s troubled being. Another rocker is ‘Paper Lies’ where Marillion sings about the horrible twists the Press puts on stories, all in the name of more sales. In the end there’s hardly a trace of truth left behind each news story.

A man who tried to save the woman mainly by talking to her, thinks back on their conversations. Thinking she showed a lot of strength despite her adversaries, he hopes she’s alright and managed to climb out of the descent she was stuck in. By utilizing a somewhat Celtic feel to ‘Brave’ the band perfectly brings out the reflective mood this man is in. In ‘The Great Escape’, which is actually made up by ‘The Last Of You’ and ‘Fallin’ From The Moon’ as well, we’re taken back to real time again as the woman is on her way to the bridge. She doesn’t view her soon-to-be suicide as something bad, but rather the only way to cleanse herself and get rid of all the demons. Waiting to take that final leap, she finally opens up – to herself – and accuse the father, who initially caused all her problems, for not helping and caring for her. Finally liberation is there. She realizes all the pain she’s suffered doesn’t matter any longer. She’s free and steps out from the bridge and falls into the water and disappears…or does she? The music does have a build-up character, it slowly grows and grows until Marillion are pulling out all the stops to add to all the emotions and freedom the woman finally feels. Amazing! Album closer ‘Made Again’ is a contrast to the main theme. It offers hope and rebirth, if you like. Again, who knows if the woman actually died. Bright, light and free of obstacles, a solitary guitar guides Hogarth through a journey of new beginnings.

Listening to ‘Brave’ now it has lost none of the magic it radiated upon it’s release. The album still moves me and touches deep within and I can’t stop marveling at Marillion’s fantastic ability to be down to earth and hit home on emotions like few can. And that’s just focusing on the lyrics. Add the music they create and everything explodes in ways unfathomable. So let their music embrace you and enjoy. While writing this and listening to the album over and over again, I simply can’t grasp why I couldn’t be bothered with the guys later on. I’ll try to figure that out until the next installment.


-Swedebeast




Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bandcamp Bonanza – Heavy New Year



While the New Year’s celebrations are waning, we’re all hitting the gyms, avoiding the unnecessary evils in forms of resolutions, over here in bandcamp I have found myself resolutioning with heavier than normal listening. Don’t get me wrong, I still like a bit of mellowness, but more than in recent memory the harsher, more damaging sounds are really hitting home. Here are a few recent albums I have found to be seriously addictive and been jamming a lot lately.

Dryland – Dryland
First up we have my proclaimed album of the week at the end of week #1 of 2017. Not significantly popular as of yet, Dryland bring the heavy, doomy Pacific Northwest progressive sludge rock to the table on their debut full length. Most played album through 2017 so far. It’s a rager.
The massive riffs chop by way of blunt force crushing in all directions with progressive tendencies and hardcore roots. The vocals scream with infectious vigor and the bass cleans up the remains with a sweeping groove. Album of the week 1-6-17.Favorite track: Mirrormaker.

Lizzard Wizzard – Total War Power Bastard
Lizzard Wizzard has been around a while as evidenced by the support on bandcamp of their earlier efforts. The Aussies bring a powerful blend of psychedelic doom metal with elements of stoner and an overall twisted ride of heavy riffs. I wouldn’t have fell so hard for this perhaps last year at this time, but like I said the heavy shit is appealing more to me at the moment. This is heavy, but also maintains a hook that keeps you on you on your toes. It lives up to the album name if I must mention.
Holy crap! What a wild ride. Heavy, trippy riffs, sludgy vocals with bluesy swagger and doomy atmosphere. This is outside my normal go to style but the slow-baked intense doom meets stoned out space rock really makes an impression.

Sons of Serro – Eps
These guys popped up on my feed and I couldn’t help but take advantage of the price tag on a series of 4 EPs just put up on bandcamp. When bands do this I can’t help but assume they are new to Bandcamp and putting up their discography online to view. Nothing wrong with that. It was confirmed by Steve Janiak of Ripple Music’s ‘Devil to Pay’ that these guys are old timers and they had played together 10-12 years ago. He had great things to say about them. Here’s to hoping they’re actively creating new stuff for us to listen. In the meantime go check out the aggressive desert rock with big beefy vocals.
Woah, this came out of nowhere. It's heavy, it's got groove laced hooks, burly vocals spewing angsty tones like a Danzig meets Fu Manchu lovechild. I'm a sucker for this type of undiscovered talent. Western psychedelia meets hardcore desert sludge rock. Killer!

Owain – Owain
This one is heavy as all hell. Super distorted doomy grooves, chaotic vocals and depressing lyrics set the stage for a pummeling assault to the senses. Why do I like this? Because its fucking anniliating to the reality of everyday life. Stoner sludge that fans of High on Fire should eat up. Like Dryland above, there is a progressive element in the songwriting structure that I’m a sucker for and balances out the gruffness in the vocals with an added touch of psychedelic blues. The riffs churn at doom pace and the fuzz is amplified to maximum distortion.


Shadow Giant – Honkytonk on the Moon
This one is perhaps the least heavy on this series, yet is still heavy as all fuck. I mean that album title and artwork scream hard and evil. Shadow Giant is more in line with the stoner/psych crowd with a heavy emphasis on doom. I literally just discovered this one as I was writing up this feature via the recommendation of Steve Howe at Outlaws of the Sun who you should follow for great reviews and recommendations in the heavy underground. So hot off the press my paypal just alerted me via email of my recent purchase. I can foresee this one will soon grow into the hearts of the usual suspect in the heavy doom/stoner/psych scene. The vocals are a lot more accessible than the others on this list. Very groovy and Southern sludgy blues oriented. I’m digging it, only one listen in still trying to figure out what this is comparable to. At the moment all I can say is Shadow Giant have released a stunning debut album and should appeal to fans in all sectors of the heavy underground, especially the heavy blues, stoner, doom crowd. Corrosion of Conformity meets Sleep? Something wicked like that.

That’s it for round #2 of Bandcamp Bonanza here in the new year (2017). Let us know what you think. Send in your tunes to the blog for a chance to be heard by our other writers, let us know what’s been rocking your world. Send me bandcamp codes and I can promote your shit via bandcamp. Hell, just keep on making ripples and we’ll help turn them into waves.

 -The Huntsman

Friday, January 13, 2017

Throttlerod - Turncoat



They fooled me waveriders!  The wool was pulled completely over my eyes when I began listening to Turncoat from Throttlerod.  You see the first song on the album lulled me into believing that this would be a solid, generic hard rock album in the vein of Deliverance-era Corrosion of Conformity and their ilk.  The truth is something different.  Not entirely different mind you.  Turncoat is wickedly solid!  No, it was my 'normal hard rock album' prediction which collapsed as I continued listening.

Beginning with the third song on the album, "Never Was A Farmer", the massive influence of 1990s alternative rock and metal on Throttlerod's sound begins to shine through with unabashed enthusiasm.  The tempo of the next few tracks is lowered and the vocals become of greater importance melodically.  Harmonies created remind me of Alice In Chains at times, Stone Temple Pilots at others.  The title track screams Nirvana to my ears until the four minute mark when the band can no longer restrain themselves and launch into a galloping riff-filled coda.

What is most interesting to me is that Throttlerod do not simply rely on grunge-y elements to help differentiate their sound.  Other metallic influences creep into the mix as well.  A couple of the main chorus riffs from songs like "Every Giant" and "Breadwinner" remind me of Tool.  There is a strong hint of System Of A Down in the guitar work at the start of "Gainer".  The bass in "Cops And Robbers" echoes the distorted tone I associate with Korn.  A strong vein of noise metal rears it's ugly yet glorious head throughout album closer "The Guard".  My point is that there is a lot to analyze and enjoy!

Waveriders, Throttlerod is a band that needs to be on your radar right now.  Turncoat was recently released on Small Stone Records.  This album rocks, and you deserve to rock right along with it!

-Penfold


Thursday, January 12, 2017

KHEMMIS: Denver Doom Outfit To Perform Chicago And New York Shows In Support Of Hunted LP This Week




[photo by Travis Heacock]

Denver-based doom metal outfit KHEMMIS will fly out to Chicago and New York City this week for two special shows in support of their critically-lauded Hunted LP, as the album dominates year-end lists everywhere.

KHEMMIS' second LP, Hunted was released through 20 Buck Spin in October, its epic presence causing a widespread infection within fans and media critics of classic heavy metal and doom metal around the globe instantly. The album has continued to captivate the masses since its official release, and is currently dominating year-end/best-of lists everywhere, the album even taking the prestigious slot as Decibel Magazine's #1 Album Of 2016! Other recent praise includes a cover feature in Denver-based The Marquee magazine with two separate covers printed, a feature in New York-based The Village Voice, a 5/5 review by New Noise Magazine, a 9.5/10 review by Metal Injection, year-end rankings and praise from Stereogum, Pop Matters, Treble, and so much more.

In addition to touring the West Coast to Migration Fest preceding the release of Hunted, KHEMMIS has performed several times since, including a hometown record release show in October, a set at Southwest Terror Fest, and another headlining show in Denver just this past weekend. Now, KHEMMIS will fly out to two special regional one-off gigs this week, with headlining shows in Chicago this Friday, January 13th, and in Brooklyn on Saturday the 14th.

These are the only confirmed performances from the band until their confirmed participation in Decibel Magazine's Beer & Metal Fest in Philadelphia on April 22nd and 23rd with the likes of Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Sleep, Pig Destroyer, Municipal Waste, Immolation, Krieg, and others. More widespread tour dates will be announced later in the year.

Hunted is available worldwide on CD, LP, and digital formats through 20 Buck Spin right HERE.

KHEMMIS Live:
1/13/2017 Reggies - Chicago, IL w/ High Priest, Huntsman [info]
1/14/2017 Saint Vitus Bar - Brooklyn, NY w/ Crypt Sermon [SOLD OUT]
4/22-23/2017 The Fillmore - Philadelphia, PA @ Decibel Metal & Beer Fest [info]

Using the same team as their lauded Absolution debut, Hunted was recorded at Flatline Audio with Dave Otero (Cobalt, Nightbringer, Cephalic Carnage) and features artwork by Sam Turner (3 Inches Of Blood, Black Breath, TRVE Brewing). Hunted is undoubtedly an album that will solidify KHEMMIS' place at the vanguard of doom's most notable modern manifestations, in large part because they transcend the label itself. They've seamlessly blended their influences into an extraordinarily listenable album worthy of countless spins. With such a glut of music released nowadays, Hunted stands apart, rewarding repeat listens with songs seared straight into the heart.




BLACK ANVIL Share 'As Was' Full Stream via Noisey

blackanvil-lanilee


Photo Credit: Lani Lee

"Packed with evil riffs, vicious grooves and an uncharacteristic abundance of soaring clean vocals...Black Anvil return to primordial chaos on 'As Was'" - Noisey

"Like Celtic Frost before them, Black Anvil find ways to summon profound darkness without tapping into black-metal clichés. Their latest ebbs and flows with effortless grace." - Pitchfork

New York City's BLACK ANVIL has shared a full stream of the 'As Was' full-length prior to release this Friday. Listen to over 50 minutes of thought-provoking, modern black metal, alongside an exclusive interview with Paul Delaney, via Noisey at this location.

"I wanted it to have something to do with what comes after death," said vocalist/bassist Paul Delany about the album title meaning. "Raeph [drums] just busted it out: As Was. And I was like, "Sold." It made a lot of sense to me. Even though it sounds bigger than anything we've ever done, it sounds more organic and primal. It's a return to primordial chaos. So it's a very different approach and mindset and yet also a continuation of the last record."

January 13th, 2017 will see the worldwide release of As Was via Relapse Records on CD/2xLP/Digital. Physical pre-orders and bundles are available via Relapse.com HERE and digital downloads can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp AT THIS LOCATION.

BLACK ANVIL will tour North America throughout late January/February in support of their new album with black metal legends Mayhem and Inquisition. A full list of dates is included below.
Tour Dates:

***All dates with Mayhem and Inquisition***

Jan 20 Montreal, QC Club Solda
Jan 21 Toronto, ON Phoenix Theater
Jan 22 Cleveland, OH Agora Ballroom
Jan 23 Chicago, IL Metro
Jan 24 Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall Ballroom
Jan 25 Minneapolis, MN Mill City Nights
Jan 27 Denver, CO Gothic Theater
Jan 28 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
Jan 30 Calgary, AB Marquee
Jan 31 Edmonton, AB Starlite Room
Feb 02 Seattle, WA El Corazon
Feb 03 Vancouver, BC Rickshaw Theatre
Feb 04 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theater
Feb 06 San Francisco, CA Social Hall SF
Feb 07 Santa Ana, CA The Observatory
Feb 08 Phoenix, AZ Club Red
Feb 10 San Antonio, TX Alamo Music Hall
Feb 11 Dallas, TX Trees
Feb 13 Atlanta, GA Masquerade
Feb 14 Wilmington, NC Throne Theater
Feb 15 Washington, DC The Howard Theater
Feb 16 Philadelphia, PA Theatre of the Living Arts
Feb 17 Poughkeepsie, NY The Chance
Feb 18 Boston, MA Royale
Feb 19 New York, NY Gramercy Theatre




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