Reserving Dirtnaps, Another Disaster review (War Records 2020)

Another Disaster is a short, hot clip to the ears from Reserving Dirtnaps.

The music from this Memphis band sounds like punk to me, but before I offend anybody, they are usually described as hardcore. I don’t think any of these guys will mind either way: Brandon Pearce (vocals), Paul Doherty (guitar), and Aaron Winter (bass). Judging by Spotify, Reserving Dirtnaps has two previous EPs, a self-titled one from 2014 and Part II in 2016. The new one, while being in basically the same lane, raises even more blisters than the first two.

There are four hard, fast songs that express the lives people are leading here in the middle of it all, 2020 – “Sleepless,” “Under Siege,” “Blood On The Walls,” and “The Floods.” Combine the song titles with the title of the set and there you have a fairly vivid idea of where the sound is coming from. There is a fierce energy in these songs, and they have a “live” feel to them. You can see it when you hear it. There is as much ferocity in this music as in Harms Way, say, but with the unique perspective and experience that makes Reserving Dirtnaps recognizable in the horde of hard music. The weight of the crumbling world bears down on and bursts out from the guitar and the voice and the drums and the base. This is what hardcore (and I’d say punk) is about. Recommended.

Out in a couple days, you can take a look at the EP at Bandcamp, and pre-order it. There were still a few copies of the vinyl left when last I looked, but just a few. Get going if you want one.

Band photo by Matt Wood.

Links.

http://www.war-rec.com

https://reservingdirtnaps.bandcamp.com

Reserving Dirtnaps, Another Disaster review (War Records 2020)

Black Elephant, Seven Swords review (Small Stone Records 2020)

The fuzzed-out Italian metal blues stoner band Black Elephant comes thundering back with Seven Swords.

The new album is a follow-up to 2018’s Cosmic Blues, which established the band’s bone fides. There is a clear theme for Seven Swords but not a consistent one. Maybe the way to put it is there is a strong theme running through the album. References to Japan appear in nearly every song, ranging from sumo with Yokozuna to art with Yayoi Kusama to solemnity with seppuku. But then there are other apparently entirely unrelated pieces, too, setting the listener on the path of jovial tongue-in-cheekedness which fits in with a stoner perspective quite well. The musicians are Alessio Caravelli (guitar and vocals), Massimiliano Giacosa (guitar), Marcello Destefanis (bass), and Simone Brunzu (drums) – a power rock set-up that delivers heavy desert blues and some sideways surprises.

The albums opens with a soft, spacey blues insinuation title “Berta’s Flame” that drops a heavy foot a couple times between whispers before a guitar lead rips the reality wide open halfway through. “The Last March of Yokozuna” begins life at first as a vacation on a South Pacific island, takes a big stomp, then quietens down again. And then the set really starts to rip. “Yayoi Kusama” has an opening groove that is almost boogie and the fuzziness verily surrounds you, rubbing your ears until you tingle. “Mihara” is a warbling space journey and, while the space journey continues throughout, guitars do rise from the lower decks and take over. “Red Sun and Blues Sun” is a rollicking good time promenade through a summer psychedelic garden with gentle musical shifts at every new blossom. “Seppuku” is heavy blues and deadly serious in its grinding waves, as the title suggest it would be. “Govinda” wraps everything up, and listens like a nine minute guided meditation that swells and shrinks and reveals.

Seven Swords is out Friday, August 28. If you preorder it on Bandcamp, you get “Berta’s Flame” right now and the rest at the end of next week. There are also CD and LP choices that all include digital downloads, too. Get your fuzz on. Recommended.

Links.

https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/seven-swords

http://www.smallstone.com

Black Elephant, Seven Swords review (Small Stone Records 2020)

deathCAVE, Smoking Mountain review (Satanik Royalty 2020)

Seattle Doom Metal trio deathCAVE unleash their first full length album, Smoking Mountain, to remind us that nothing is permanent.

The musicians are Freiburger (bass, vocals), Benny Koslosky (drums), and Tony Muñoz (guitars, vocals). Last year the band released an impressive three-song demo and now they have opened up and broadened their musical scope with Smoking Mountain. The title refers to a volcano (there is a famous one just south of the Seattle area we might all remember), literally and as a symbol of the geologic evolution of the planet that takes everything with, animals, land, and sea.

The set opens with great foreboding and drama, the sinister feel of the tone and notes wraps you like a shroud: “Death Cave.” The song breaks into speed blasts now and then and remains grim throughout. “Last Breath” follows and it is full-on doom. “The Road” has a strong Black Sabbath homage elements, and on “The Seer” venom verily drips from the opening voice while the guitars and percussion carry you along like a rumbling river. “Poison Wizard” wraps it all up, and offers a sharp guitar dalliance in a dense layer of smoke that is the distorted bass line. The acerbic tantrum of the principal instruments challenges the direction of the vocals but in the end they come together as a conquering force. There are three guests on the album, all singing: Dave Verellen, Andrea Vidal, and Neil McAdams. These additional voices deepen the impact of the album and expand its reach. It is the right kind of heavy. Recommended.

Out now, Bandcamp is the fast lane to grab up Smoking Mountain. There were even a couple cassettes remaining of the band’s demo when I checked a minute ago, but I don’t know about now – get there quick to see if you can grab one of the last few instances of this rarity.

Band photo by Onyx Wolf Gang Aerial.

Link.

http://deathcave.bandcamp.com

deathCAVE, Smoking Mountain review (Satanik Royalty 2020)

Bull Elephant, Created from Death review (Eat Lead and Die Music 2020)

Working toward the big reveal, part two of the Bull Elephant mythological trilogy rises from the dead to shake you up.

Last year the secret band Bull Elephant released their self-titled album and started the generator of an emerging mythology. To recap, “Bull Elephant is the story of a slain African elephant that occultist Ahnenerbe SS attempted to bring back from the dead as a new form of battle asset. However, before re-animation could be completed it was intercepted by a mysterious witch-shaman, pursuing her own agenda and redirecting the undead creature’s purpose.” Back again now for Part II, the story gets stranger.

The story (or maybe just the environment) this time is teased by a journal entry. “I wept at the pain of loss for my child destroyed. But now he is born again; created from death as once he was, yet in a new form. He will be safest under the protection of the ape. As for myself, I can feel the end is near. The coming world war will be fought both in conventional theatres and as a secret war for control over a cosmic power that neither side fully understand. – Journal of Olivia Parnell, 23 August 1939.”

What happened to the elephant? It was destroyed at the end of the last album and resurrected/reconstructed in human form and placed in the care of that ape (see the cover image). There is a lot more going on here. The bird’s eye view of the story is, “As with the debut album, think of the background concept as Raiders of the Lost Ark set to a doom-tinged heavy metal soundtrack where Judeo-Christian mythology is replaced by the even more sinister universe hinted at in the writings of H. P. Lovecraft…with Nazi zombies, assault wolves and a battle-armoured whale that makes Moby Dick seem tame.”

The story is mostly lost on me, but the music is still there. The lyrics to the songs are interesting and engaging, and I prefer to take them as separate pieces even if they do fit together into some greater whole.

“Created By Death” opens this episode on a very cosmic doom note. The vocals alternate between death-metalesque growls and mid-heavy clarity, which captures the essence of the theme well. “Oneiromantic Rites” has many quiet and calm moments, but the gravity of the menace is never far removed. The fury picks up in the next song, and falls away again with a gentle outro. The entire album has this unsettling pulsing pattern that keeps you on the move in your head. The rumbling rhythm holds you on the path while the vocals and lead and riff guitar work propel the action and nuance. Towards the end of the set there is the spastic punch of “Perverted Science,” a two and a half minute guitar rampage followed immediately by “Escape to the Arctic,” a six minute epic-colored seafaring space opera. The closer is “Wayfarer,” and it has the feel of a song that is setting up the final movement, yet to come.

Available Friday, August 14, in corporeal form as well as digital, you can snap it up at Bandcamp. If you can follow the story, that’s great, but even if you can’t the music is a plundering dynamo that’ll ring your ears. Recommended.

Links.

https://bullelephant.bandcamp.com/releases

https://monsterworks.bandcamp.com/

FFMB review of the 1st Bull Elephant album, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2019/11/15/bull-elephant-new-release-review/

Bull Elephant, Created from Death review (Eat Lead and Die Music 2020)

Titan To Tachyons, Cactides review (Nefarious Industries 2020)

If you are looking for music that sounds like the inside of a crashing spaceship if the entire crew was blasted on edibles as the impact approached, you have found it.

This might not actually be improvisational jazz, but it certainly sounds and feels like it. Titan To Tachyons is a NYC band centered around guitarist Sally Gates who, along with Matt Hollenberg and Kenny Grohowski, endanger your piece of mind with their music.

The press release describes the group as an “avant/instrumental metal trio.” Their Bandcamp page describes the band as a “new trio” and their music as “Instrumentally depicting the realms of surrealistic sci-fi, the band make use of angular and experimental passages, juxtaposed by fluid grooves and metallic flurries.” The Facebook genre is “Prog/Experimental/Metal.” So what is going on here? I think people are going to have a very individualized experience listening to this music. For me it lights up my dysphoric madness receptors and I enjoy the chaos and Les Claypoolesque clankiness that shows up regularly. What I am not hearing is the metal. You have to listen very hard for the metal. Fuzzy tones do pop in now and then with the fluid and delightful guitar work, and there is a crunchy riff there and again, but the chaotic avant-garde is front and center – it is most definitely piloting this vessel.

The songs have a gravitational center around the guitar, but not necessarily a geographic one. There are a lot of ideas at play, yet you can detect patterns if you are looking for them. Alternately, you can just let this all flow over you and do what it does. In fact, that is the better idea – let the music do what it does.

Cactides is out on Friday, August 14 on LP and digital. You can stream two tracks right now, and there is some merch to snag, if you like. My advice is listen to some of this on Spotify or the like first and see what you think. If it is your thing, kick some cash in at Bandcamp. Recommended for the adventure.

Band photo by Karen Jerzyk.

Links.

https://titantotachyons.com

https://titantotachyons.bandcamp.com

http://nefariousindustries.com

https://nefariousindustries.bandcamp.com

Titan To Tachyons, Cactides review (Nefarious Industries 2020)

Blue Öyster Cult, 45th Anniversary Live In London review (Frontiers Records 2020)

Recorded live at The O2 (Indigo) in London during the Stone Free Festival on June 17, 2017, this concert is a complete retelling of the band’s first album, Blue Öyster Cult, plus a couple of extra favorites for the fans.

Blue Öyster Cult has been releasing notable live sets this year like Hard Rock Live in Cleveland 2014, iHeart Radio Theater N.Y.C. 2012,and 40th Anniversary Agents of Fortune Live 2016. Now the best of the bunch so far is out, a recording of the band playing their entire first album, 1972’s Blue Öyster Cult. That trilogy of the first three LPs BÖC released in rapid succession are absolute hard rock classics, the self-titled one first, then Tyranny and Mutation (1973), and finally the monstrous Secret Treaties (1974). After these seminal works, the band achieved enormous commercial success with Agents of Fortune (1976), and the music turned a little toward the pop direction. These early ones had the killer tracks that still raise the hairs on your neck like “Cities On Flame with Rock and Roll,” “Hot Rails To Hell,” and pretty much every song on Secret Treaties. I have a particular affection for the 1972 original because of its stark originality so this new release was a hot grab for me.

I watched/listened to the Blu-ray version. The band is: originals Eric Bloom (since 1969) and Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (since 1967), with Richie Castellano, Danny Miranda, and Jules Radino. The sound on the Blu Ray is excellent – you might remember, BÖC fans, that the recording of the original album was very muddy so this performance actually sounds better. The playing is crisp and sharp, and there is a lot more guitar on these versions than there was on the 1972 release, including an epic ten and a half minute version of “Then Came The Last Days Of May.” After the original ten songs, they played on with the “Buck’s Boogie” jam fans have come to expect from their live performances, the hits “Godzilla,” “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” and “Hot Rails To Hell,” plus the surprise “Tattoo Vampire” – I didn’t see that one coming. It was a great show and I wish I had been there. I was REALLY looking forward to seeing BÖC at Psycho Las Vegas this year. Fingers crossed for 2021.

Available now from Frontiers Records, pick up whichever version you like best and don’t wait too long. The supply of these live albums from BÖC has been a little spotty this year. The Blu-ray looks and sounds great, but it has essentially no extras except for a five minute green room video. Digital streaming is always there if you miss out on the physicals so there are no excuses – give it a listen and breathe in the cult.

Band photo snagged from the official website page.

Links.

Band website, www.blueoystercult.com/

Frontiers Records, http://www.frontiers.it/index.php

Blue Öyster Cult, 45th Anniversary Live In London review (Frontiers Records 2020)

Deep Purple, Whoosh! review (earMUSIC/Edel 2020)

New music from Deep Purple is always something to celebrate, and Whoosh! is the best new album from them since Purpendicular.

Let’s think about this for a second. I remember when Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple – both times. It really seemed like that would be all she wrote, so to speak, and it was clearly a setback. But the band has released a ton of new, excellent material outside of Blackmore’s shadow. When Jon Lord left in 2002, I really thought that would be it for Deep Purple. He had stayed with the band for many years after Blackmore left and had been there up to the hiatus that began in 1976 and since reformation that occurred in 1994. And yet Deep Purple persevered.

The band has the same lineup this time as it has had since 2002 with Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Don Airey, and Steve Morse. The first three musicians are the most recognizable to Deep Purple fans because of their long tenure stretching back into the 1960s. But Don Airey has been with them since 2002 and Steve Morse has been there even longer, since 1994, so they have all been playing together for a good long while.

The band credits some of the success of the song writing and production to Bob Ezrin, a legend in the music industry. This is his third time working with Deep Purple. Whether it was Ezrin’s influence or whether the stars just all aligned right, Whoosh! is a great album.

The set opens with a jazzy little vamp at the front of “Throw My Bones,” Ian Gillan tells us “All I got is what I need / And that’s enough as far as I can see / Why should I walk into the Great Unknown / When I can sit here and throw my bones.” In fact, the message of this entire album is basically to lighten up, it all comes and goes so fast (that’s the “whoosh!”) that getting all wound up about things juts ruins the little bit of time that you do have. Gillan’s voice is in solid shape. It is not “Child In Time” or “Born Again” but it is most definitely Gillan – instantly recognizable. The production is full with extra helpings of keyboards at the right moments and crisp guitar enterprises at the appropriate peaks. There are plenty of memorable hooks and tongue-in-cheek lyrical moments throughout. This is the high point for Mark VIII so far.

In interviews about the production of this new album, Deep Purple talks about how weird the world of music is right now and that they don’t have anything scheduled for another year. That’s a lot of time to do nothing, so maybe there’ll be another new album or at least some more new music before the next tour. I’d bet on just a couple songs because the material on this album needs be toured – I would hate to think that none of it ever gets played live because of even newer music that passes it by.

Whoosh! is out now and you can get it anywhere. There are lots of products related to this issue if you want something memorable. Recommended for Purple fans and anybody interested in the newest iteration of what was classic rock.

Band photo snagged from the official Facebook page.

Links.

https://www.deeppurple-whoosh.com/#start

https://www.deep-purple.com/

https://ear-music.shop/

Deep Purple, Whoosh! review (earMUSIC/Edel 2020)

Clutch, Live at the Doom Saloon II, review (August 7, 2020 Livestream)

The first Live at the Doom Saloon livestream a couple months back had Clutch plus three other bands (Crowbar, Saul, and Blacktop Mojo) playing short sets. This time, Clutch is playing a full set of fourteen songs. The set list was chosen by fans as part of a tie-in promotion leading up to the show.

The Doom Saloon (Clutch’s rehearsal space) has gotten an upgrade with new cameras and some lights. The editing (directing, I guess is a better way to put it since it happened live) does make a big difference in the way spectators experience the performance, switching from one camera to another and having close-ups camera movement and whatnot. It looks smoother and you get a better look and the band while they perform. In the end it is the music that matters most and this band never disappoints.

I have been to a lot of Clutch shows, but I have never seen these songs played together before, or any set very close to it. Lots of rarities. They played for about 60 minutes. Here is the setlist.

1. How To Shake Hands

2. Power Player

3. Rock and Roll Outlaw

4. Far Country

5. Smoke Banshee

6. What Would A Wookie Do?

7. Mice And Gods

8. Profits Of Doom

9. Ghoul Wrangler

10. King of Arizona

11. (In The Wake Of) The Swollen Goat

12. Your Love Is Incarceration

13. Brazenhead

14. Oregon

As with the previous livestream, $2 from each t-shirt sold will go to the Clutch road crew. The event also supports ILF, the Innocent Lives Foundation – check them out here, https://www.innocentlivesfoundation.org/.

You can still watch the show after the fact for a couple days by going here and buying a ticket, https://www.clutchmerch.com/collections/events/products/doom-saloon-ii-ticket. It is definitely work the $9 bucks, and you can pick up Doom Saloon II Livestream merch if you really enjoy it. The stream is available until Monday, August 9 at 9:00AM EST, so don’t wait too long.

Clutch, Live at the Doom Saloon II, review (August 7, 2020 Livestream)

Festivals and Shows to Get Fired Up About

Tour dates are changing rapidly for this year. We will keep updating information as it becomes available. Many of these events are migrating to the Fall and there is a good chance they will be moved again. We’ll keep the posters up until the word is official one way or the other.

Rescheduled for May 14-16, 2021
Festivals and Shows to Get Fired Up About

Terminal Nation, Holocene Extinction review (20 Buck Spin 2020)

Arkansas metal leaders Terminal Nation raise their voices to proclaim the next mass extinction is already underway.

A fairly recent entry into the heavy music arena, Terminal Nation has been releasing music since 2015. Their two EPs – Terminal Nation (2015) and Absolute Control (2017) – along with last year’s Neckbeard Deathcamp split One Party System laid the groundwork for Holocene Extinction and its thirteen slices of grievance.

The heaviness of the music does not rely on sudden bursts or blast beats for the most part. It is more on the traditional side, and even doom-edged now and then (“Expired Utopia”). The opener, “Cognitive Dissonance,” is a window into the album both thematically and musically. The guitars and drums are heavy thumps with a faster pace in the middle and the a less optimistic beginning and end. After declaring that what you see is not what you get (the title of the first song), the band drives straight into “Arsenic Earth.” It is about what it sounds like it would be about. The title track is next, and the droning inevitability of the vocals (“you cannot save the world”) and the rhythm is exactly how I imagine a mass extinction to occur – consistent misery over a long period of time. And we’re only three in – they’re just getting going.

The songs are mostly short, and the set has a punk feel to it and sometimes a punk sound. Political and firmly anti-establishment, just read through the song titles (links below) to gather up the messages. What I hear are statements about how hard it is in the world right now just to exist, and that it doesn’t have to be this way – it is being made to be this way. If you want to know what the band meant by these songs, there is a great Brooklyn Vegan article where they go track by track and tell you what was on their mind when putting it all together, and you should check that out. The music is a little smoother on this new album than the earlier EPs but it is every bit as heavy – the vocals sound great and the guitars are a spiked mace swinging at your head. The combination of the contemporaneous narrative intrigue and the metal/punk attitude sets this album apart from the others in the crowd.

Out now on 20 Buck Spin and buyable at Bandcamp, Holocene Extinction is 36 minutes of reality checks laid bare and wrought in metal. Recommended.

Band photo by Kurt Lunsford.

Links.

https://terminalnationhc.bandcamp.com

http://www.20buckspin.com

Brooklyn Vegan article, https://www.brooklynvegan.com/terminal-nation-discuss-every-track-on-their-killer-new-album-which-is-streaming/

Terminal Nation, Holocene Extinction review (20 Buck Spin 2020)