Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mad Season - Above

We’ve enough books looking back on the Merseybeat scene trying, with things safely decades in the past, to put together the confluence of influences that makes great music scenes happen. And, Cameron Crowe’s “Singles” aside, we’ve started to look back to Seattle, circa 1990 or so, and try to make oh so much sense out of an albino, my libido, and the rise and demise of Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains and that other power trio.

30 years later, my personal favorites are the two jam pieces: Temple of the Dog, and, today’s badass subject, Mad Season. Overlooked in too many ways: too bluesy, too self-indulgent, too noodle. And I’m here to tell you it’s all bullshit. It’s one of the best, honest recordings to come out of Seattle, different musical styles bashing up against each other in all the right ways, recorded too fast for people to be self-conscious about what they were laying down on tape. After a first gig in October of 1994, they had a full album out by March of ’95.

Powered by bassist John Baker Saunders, whose blues background would lend a different feel to the album, and drummer Barrett Martin, there are different pauses in the rhythm section, the drums more underplayed, which makes it all the more stunning when McCready’s black Les Paul starts to soar over the top, or when the multi-tracked Layne Staleys start to harmonize in a chorus ripped from the depths of his encroaching drug addiction.

From the minute the needle drops into the groove, and the bass notes of “Wake Up” hit the subwoofer, you realize that this is a band cut from a different cloth. Willing to sit back and let things develop and build under their own steam, McCready’s chords finding interesting cracks in the songs, letting Layne’s voice stand alone, not mixed with Jerry Cantrell’s, letting the blues bass carry melody and fill space before the Les Paul comes in to drive the song home.

“River of Deceit” won some air play back in ’95, but if you bought the album for the quiet strummed song, with its gently insistent chorus, you’d be in for a surprise when “X-Ray Mind” starts in. Tribal drumming (owing more to Stephen Perkins) builds to a rolling bass line, shimmering sheets of sparse guitar chords behind Staley’s voice, a riff that was a left over from Jimmy Page, beautifully arranged so that when the chorus hits, it lifts you to another place, another time. Leaving behind the need to have multiple guitars in the band, McCready’s work here is both sparser and more inventive than his work with Pearl Jam.

“I’m Above” fulfills the promise of that black Les Paul, hitting a heavy blues opening similar to Zeppelin’s Rover, and then it backs down, and softens the mood, giving full voice to Layne’s lyrics:
Try to keep bad blood in the past
Never thought a chance, a chance it would last
I have strength enough, enough to forgive
I desire peace where I live
I've been blessed with eyes to see this
Behind the unwhole truth you hide
Bite to remind the bitten, bigger
Mouth repaying tenfold wide

But the chorus has a different story to tell, the guitars cranking up, Layne’s voice more buried in the mix, pulled back into the band, rather than riding on top. A similar story is told in “Artificial Red”, a blues jam that Alice in Chains would never have even tried. This could have been on Jeff Beck’s Truth album except its too loose, too loud, and too raw. It’s the House of the Rising Sun, and the call and response of the vocals and the guitar harken back to older days before McCready solos into the atmosphere for a short spin.

“Lifeless Dead” is one of the standout tracks that recalls the best of Alice in Chains mixed with Led Zeppelin, the minor key vocals, full drums that power the modal guitar riff that drives this song, and McCready’s guitar riding on top in the very best ways that Page used to. The production stands out because no matter how loud you turn this one up, you can hear everything. And it sounds better the louder it gets.

And you’ll want to leave the volume up for “November Hotel”, a staggering 7 minute jam of power house drumming, soloing guitar and thundering bass that leaves you exhausted and breathless ready for the church hymnal that is the closing track on the original LP “All Alone”. While the album opened with “Wake Up”, Layne’s haunting singing on this, along with the soft percussion and keys, takes on a life of its own.

Or, it simply takes a life. The Seattle rock and roll lifestyle would take bassist Saunders in ’99, and Staley just a few years later. And if you’re just coming to this album, there is no way to not hear the echoes of a life to short. Not only can we hear the ending of Layne’s life here in his lyrics, but his girlfriend Demri Parott would die of an overdose in October on 1996, adding one more layer to the profound level of loss that surrounded the band.

There is now a deluxe edition the completes the set, giving us the final four songs recorded by the band, with Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanagan sitting in for Layne, as well as finally putting to vinyl Live at the Moore, a concert by Mad Season that has been available on VHS for a number of years. The final songs are a curiosity, and not bad, but they add nothing to the original album. Live at the Moore is a great show, and well worth listening to. As always, it’s a treat to hear a young band be able to bring it live and sound great doing it. For all the people who had the VHS and always wanted a serious audio copy to play, this release is a welcome one. The videos are freely available on youtube as well. 

- The Rock Iguana

Monday, June 29, 2015

DEMONICAL and HYPOTHERMIA to headline Sick Midsummer Festival; chance to win tickets

Swedish old-school death metal tyrants, DEMONICAL, along with post rock / black metal wanderers and countrymen, HYPOTHERMIA, are going to headline Sick Midsummer Festival in scenic B├Ąckerberg/ Scharnstein (upper Austria), on July the 4th.

In connection with this event, memebers of DEMONICAL have recorded a short video, in which they are offering a chance to win tickets for the festival. The clip can be watched at this location:


The winners will be announced on Monday, June 29th.

Both band's are planning to perform tracks from their recent releases ("Black Flesh Redemption" by Demonical and "Svartkonst" by Hypothermia) along with some classic material from previous albums.

For more informaction on Sick Midsummer Festival visit:
Website: http://www.sick-midsummer.at/
Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1552823281667640/

DEMONICAL on-line:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/demonicalofficial
Twitter: www.twitter.com/demonicalband
Youtube: www.youtube.com/demonicalofficial
Instagram: www.instagram.com/demonicalofficial
Website: www.demonical.net
Merchandise: www.demonicalmerch.net
Liveblog : www.demonicalofficial.blogspot.se


Agonia Records:
Website: http://agoniarecords.com
Facebook: https://facebook.com/agoniarecords
Twitter: https://twitter.com/agoniarecords
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/agoniarecords
YouTube: http://youtube.com/AgoniaRec

Vaee Solis Set Release Date For Signal Rex Debut, Premiere Teaser Video

Portuguese black/doom/sludge warlords Vaee Solis are set to release their debut album, Adversarial Light, on August 21st via Signal Rex and Mordgrimm. At six staggeringly monolithic tracks,Adversarial Light is aptly titled. Vaee Solis is a band that approximate Morrigan's martial howling, invoking the liberation and illumination of the eternal night, represented in Scandinavian traditions by Ragnarok. Its sun is the polar Black Sun that shines brightly like a diamond on Lucifer's forehead: such is the sound of Adversarial Light. Frontwoman Sophia's voice is, therefore, a hoarse and inflamed appeal to all human beings - slaves of the heavy, forgetful slumber to which they've been condemned by post-industrial society - to rise like titans from their nocturnal awakening. Lamia's apotropaic shriek, lined by melancholic yet intensely melodic bards provided in the shadows with long and phallic guitars, takes away all fear of the inertia of merely being human. Then, ancient and atavistic memories rise again, stealthily like wolves, coming from the visceral core of ourselves, inflaming our blood and hardening our muscles. Only then the awakening comes, and in the eternal night, bathed in Adversarial LightVaee Solis make us remember that we indeed are gods.
Initially released on cassette format through Signal Rex and Degradagem, Adversarial Light sold out its initial run of 100 copies within one month of release. Now, Signal Rex and Mordgrimm will be co-releasing the album on limited digipack CD, with a vinyl version to follow by early 2016. Vaee Solis have already preformed several shows, supporting such acts as Acid King, and taking part in one of the most eclectic festivals in Portugal, the Santa Maria Summer Fest. The band have several upcoming shows, including de OMG Fest and an album-release show alongside Corpus Christii, both in September/October 2015. A Vimeo teaser can be found HERE. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:
Tracklisting for Vaee Solis' Adversarial Light
1. Saturn's Storm
2. Adversarial Light
3. Ennoia
4. Feral Isolation
5. Libra
6. Cosmocrat

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Reverie Set Release Date For Invictus Debut

Much like they'e done with Malthusian, ZOM, and Antiversum among others, Invictus Productions is proud to present the debut album of a new band who'll soon be spoken of far and wide: Denmark's Reverie and their Bliss debut, set for international release on July 17th. The band's odd choice of the moniker Reverie speaks volumes about their singular, idiosyncratic songcraft, and the title Bliss even more so. Far from "tech" death metal and yet also realms removed from "epic metal" cliche, the nine songs across Bliss burst into being and then billow into myriad, mesmerizing shapes. The rush in which Reverie play is exciting, urgent, fiery beyond compare; not yet age 20, each member's abundant energy shines through. But despite their collectively young years, Reverie have already absorbed an ageless wisdom in their songwriting, layering nuance upon nuance, detail upon detail, whilst ever mindful of a sharp, scintillating hook. It's a sound that stacks up well alongside other young mavericks like Morbus Chron and especially Tribulation, for whom Invictus released the transitional landmark The Formulas of Death, but Reverie well and truly have nailed down their own sound with Bliss. The bandwagon begins now, and Bliss is the first ride into the unknown... Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Reverie's Bliss
1. Dust And Dirt
2. Fall Apart
3. Bliss
4. Blood In The Sea
5. Gennem Dine Ar
6. First Reverie
7. Circles
8. From Sea To Shore
9. Blind At Heart

PopMatters Streams Dreadnought's Glittering New Single, "Odyssey"

Anticipation has been high for Dreadnought's sophomore album, Bridging Realms, since the first single "Transpiration" emerged on Terrorizer a few weeks ago. And bridge realms they have indeed: The Denver-based progressive/black/folk metal quartet has united fans of prog, metal, pop and doom across the board in appreciation for this twinkling masterpiece of a record, which comes out August 11 via Sailor Records. Today, PopMatters has premiered the second single from the album, the epic, 14-minute track aptly titled "Odyssey," along with a writeup which calls them "a collision between Comus and Agalloch," and insists they are not to be missed.

Hear Dreadnought's "Odyssey" at

***Preorders for Bridging Realms digital download, CD or gatefold double LP can be found RIGHT HERE.***

Track Listing:

1. Ode To Ether
2. Odyssey (LISTEN)
3. Minuet De Lune
4. Transpiration (LISTEN)
5. Bridging Realms

Dreadnought of Denver, Colorado finds a home in surreal atmospheres, complex, yet approachable grooves, and an immense palette of textures and moods. Collaboration and the highest quality of friendship have fashioned this quartet's knack for contemplative songraft while also inspiring each member to bring their multi-instrumental talents to the foray, introducing mandolin, saxophone, and flute into their repertoire. Dual female vocals embellish the group's signature sound as a finishing touch. It's no wonder that this foundation allows for references to classic prog rock and funk, post rock, black metal, and Latin jazz without sacrificing a sonic imprint filled with spaciousness and ether.

Appropriately Dreadnought's lyrics capture this atmosphere with themes of the infinite and unknowable, reaching for the stars and into the depths of existence. Bridging Realms finds the band's potential truly realized, taking its sounds into strange, undiscovered, and delightful territory.
Kelly Schilling - Guitar, Flute, Clean and Harsh Vocals
Jordan Clancy - Drums, Alto/Tenor Saxophone
Kevin Handlon - Bass, Mandolin, Lyrics
Lauren Vieira - Keys, Clean Vocals

Contact email: southernxpr@gmail.com

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sweat Lodge – Talismana


Ripple Music is pleased to announce the official release of Talismana, the long-awaited debut album from one of America’s most exciting and downright badass psychedelic metal bands, Sweat Lodge.”

Here is my take on the magnificent album. And boy is it a grower.

Talismana wastes no time in bringing the energy. The kind of recording that begs you to want to catch a live show. Opener 'Tramplifier', not only has an eerie ring to it, but will have your head bobbing within seconds with a circulating fuzz based riff leading into electrified vocals summoning forth all fans of Ozzy. 'Bed of Ashes' keeps the Sabbath buzz alive and brings a bit of funk to the upbeat bluesy party. Colorful drum blasts encapsulate the Lodge ringing with reverb and dripping with distortion.

To be honest I hadn't known of Sweat Lodge until the news of their signing with Ripple Music early in the year and was curious to see what the label had sniffed out. Turns out, Talismana stacks up with the best of the Ripple crew, who have been having a record year, pun intended. I am sweating with anticipation at news of the debut LP on limited vinyl releasing on August 7th. 

The album plays through rather quickly, and is just about the perfect length and a full therapeutic remedy for any situation, much like a sweat lodge. As the album continues the intensity builds and the rawk begins to roll, gaining momentum. 'Phoenix Ascent' exemplifies that statement with an intoxicating energy and hypnotic groove to die for. The title track 'Talismana', brings the psychedelic jams to the forefront throughout the middle of the song, weaving the echoed vocal cries in and out while the bass line smoothly purrs in the background.

'Boogie Bride', the longest song on the record, starts out a bit slow while the guitars gently slice the airwaves in 'Strangle Hold' fashion. In fact, I think that is a very apt comparison in that it has the spacey and groovy guitar lines with trippy vocal tones and killer solo breaks. 'Heavy Head' is indeed heavy and groovy whistling with spooky intentions followed by powerful fuzz riffs fronted by an exhilarating vocal sequence. ‘Banshee Call’ closes the record down much like a cigarette follows kinky sex, soothing, yet still buzzing with excitement. The Zeppelin-esque croons crawl along to the beat of a water bong, while the guitars inhale and exhale euphoric riffs of felicity. By the time the album is over its time to begin again with the repeat button, or better yet with the flip of the wax and drop of a needle come August 7th. Keep your eyes out for Sweat Lodge, as they have proven they can hang with the big dogs of the underground rock and roll. Thoroughly impressed with Talismana!! Pick up your copy via Ripple Music in August.

-The Huntsman


Friday, June 26, 2015

Mothership to release Mothership Live Over Freak Valley this November | Announce US dates for The Drunk As Sh*t Tour with Crobot and Wilson

Stream and share the live version of ‘Serpents Throne’ here – https://soundcloud.com/ripple-music/04-serpents-throne
“Such a killer find, man. Can’t wait to see them live!”
Dom Lawson, Metal Hammer

"They represent everything that is great with rock and roll from everything in the past, to everything in the future and everything in between. Mothership is the future of rock and roll. These guys are just going to keep getting bigger and bigger. You watch."
The Evil Engineer

After the rerelease of their momentous second album and a storming start to 2015, Mothership – the hard rocking supersonic/intergalactic Texan trio – are pleased to announce the arrival of Mothership Live Over Freak Valley this coming November on Ripple Music.

Recorded at their debut European appearance at the iconic German rock festival, brothers Kyle and Kelly Juett along with Judge Smith have captured their steaming hot stew of UFO and Iron Maiden inspired metal; southern Molly Hatchet and ZZ Top swagger, and deathly Sabbathian doom. A concoction that should by all accounts prove too heavy to handle on record, but as fans will soon discover, Mothership Live Over Freak Valley will deliver the filth and fury of the full Mothership live experience.

Since 2013 the band has travelled non-stop, playing live across the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe; taking to festival stages, nightclubs, and under the sun at whatever motorcycle parties they could find. They are for all intents and purposes a heavy rock juggernaut that has only just begun to tear a hole in the cosmos. And guess what? They have no plans of slowing down for anyone.

Over the coming months Mothership also embark on The Drunk As Sh*t Tour with fellow rockers Crobot and Wilson where the band will have CDs of Mothership Live Over Freak Valley on sale ahead of its official vinyl release on Ripple Music at the end of the year. To catch them live and for the full list of dates see below, and to stream and share the live version of ‘Serpents Throne’ follow the link here – https://soundcloud.com/ripple-music/04-serpents-throne
Mothership Live:

10th July – Blue Fox Billiards, Winchester, VA

11th July – Ziggy's By The Sea, Wilmington, NC
14th July – Trick Shot Billiards, Clifton Park, NY

15th July – The Studio at Webster Hall, New York, NY

17th July – Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA
18th July – The Met, Pawtucket, RI
19th July – The Lost Horizon, Syracuse, NY
21st July – The Outpost, Kent, OH
23rd July – Frankie's Inner-City, Toledo, OH

24th July – Cheers Pub - South Bend, IN

25th July – The Stache @ The Intersection, Grand Rapids, MI

26th July – Alrosa Villa, Columbus, OH

28th July – Venue 3405, Joplin, MO

31st July – Q&Z Expo Center, Ringle, WI

1st August – Pov's 65, Spring Lake Park, MN
7th August – Bourbon Theatre, Lincoln, NE**
8th August – Black Sheep, Colorado Springs, CO**

9th August – The Bluebird Theater, Denver, CO**

18th August – Rockbar Theater, San Jose, CA**

** w. Crobot only
Mothership is Kelley Juett (guitars/vocals), Kyle Juett (bass/vocals) and Judge Smith (drums).

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