Friday, September 4, 2015

Jesse - Hauntings

Jesse Herrin, the mastermind behind the debut album Hauntings has been at the helm of the Waycross, GA music scene for some time. Although I just found out about him through the doom metal label Twin Earth Records, a little research leads me to the verdict that Jesse is a very well accomplished musician and songwriter, with Hauntings being a true testament to that fact. Quoting from his band’s Facebook profile a brief background reads, “As the sole proprietor/producer/engineer of Hickory Wind Recording Studio, he has put his mark on many recordings by talented Waycross artists through the years. The son of Billy Ray Herrin, published songwriter with The Lowery Group and Sony/Tree, Jesse has grown up listening and learning how to write a good song.” –Dave Griffin

Jesse injects a little bit of everything that I love about the alternative/Americana scene particularly among fans of both heavy rock and country. The first three songs exhibit 3 completely different angles of Americana/Folk/singer songwriter and the process repeats throughout. Idumea kicks off the album with a particularly haunting vibe. A somber tone glides along to a graceful and charming atmospheric melody while an eerie resonance builds the anticipation for the rest of the album. Pills are the Devil sounds like it could have come off a Hank III or Old Crow Medicine Show album with its deep southern twang set to hooky drinking and drugging theme. Further Down in Time unleashes a full fledge Neil Young worship, with soaring pedals of the steel guitar, gentle plucks of the banjo, and mournful croons of Jesse's voice. Gentle flares of elegance sweep the airwaves while the cosmic Americana spirit infects the mind body and soul. 

Calling this Folk is an understatement, Americana is cutting the band short, and southern rock is just the cornerstone to Jesse's psychedelic journey through the Georgian fields. Outlaw country could be considered an apt description; however the spooky atmospherics and towering emotion upgrade Hauntings to flat out Epic Status. Whatever way you dice it, Jesse is a faultless album spanning multiple genres, sure to lasso the attention of a diverse group of seasoned and tasteful fans. Bottom line, if you like this album you have damn good taste!

The title track Haunting cuts deep, seamlessly transitioning from a backwoods folky twang into a ghostly chorus line echoing within the winds of despair. The closing lines strike a nerve and chills to the bone, "….The only thing for sure when I’m long gone will be the sound of the chisel on the stone, and my name will remain…."

The album does not let up and maintains a motley pace. To Be Found highlights the album nearing its midpoint gaining comparisons to the greats such as Young, Gram Parsons and modern all-stars such as Jason Isbell and Brett Detar. There are even mild stints of electronic rhythm displayed on Colder Nights that could fit in on the stellar Drive soundtrack. L.I.G. highlights the angelic tones of backing singer Amanda Taylor whose duet with Jesse is stoked by a blazing steel guitar lick hot enough to light my fire at the pearly gates of heaven, while Nothing More to Say exhibits a foot stomping boogie serving anthem to the surf rock spirit of the south. Fought to Feel closes down the record with a 50's pop melody reminiscing a Buddy Holly dance number with a classic country resonance.

The entire album sustains an electrifying tone throughout all 13 tracks. As an avid listener of each stoner rock, doom metal, psychedelic blues, classic country and Americana I find Hauntings firing a torch under each of the high octane genre cylinders. Neither metal nor heavy psychedelic blues rock by any physical means, there's a spiritual kinship amongst the genres expressed via the Americana outlet. I urge the general public to check this man’s project out, which also features a loaded cast of musicians within its diversified approach. 

-The Huntsman

Thursday, September 3, 2015

blackQueen – The Directress

One of the great things about music is that even though we have hundreds of years' worth of compositions in every genre conceivable, we are still able to come up with new and interesting constructs, because music is such an individual creation.  It depends on the creator to combine what has gone before, what is available to use, and what is only in the imagination of that creator, into something that we have not heard before.  It is a true pleasure when we find music that brings a new combination of things to light.  This album is one of those true pleasures.

Pete Jay, the mastermind of blackQueen uses doom, black, and death metal, along with a very educated dose of movie dialogue, to bring to life “The Directress”.  I can honestly say that it has been at least a couple of years since I have heard a release as unique as this.  All of the different styles of metal flow together so seamlessly, and the inclusion of the clips of dialogue is done so well that it feels as though it is an integral part of each song, not just something that was tagged on as an afterthought.  The band itself is a rotating cast of characters from all up and down the West coast, and he has definitely brought all of the right players together.  I can try to tell you what it sounds like, but you really need to hear it.  Seriously, if you were to only buy one metal release for the remainder of the year, this is the one.

As a fan of horror movies, this album feels very cinematic to me, almost as though it could be used as a soundtrack to one of those awesome Italian horror films from the 70's.  Mr. Jay is the writer and director of “BabeGhostWitch”, 14 plus minutes of short film in the giallo style of horror films, and I'm not saying that the film and this album are connected, but they both certainly feel as though they are from the same source.  If you are a fan of horror as well, I would highly recommend looking up this short film on Youtube.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is the opener, “The Olde Religion”.  It is a track that sets the tone for the entire album, it sets the mood nicely, and it is a great bit of death-y black metal.  I also have a soft spot in my blackened heart for “The Names of Snakes”, which has a nice little bit of dialogue about how names that start with “S” are the snake names.  The song somehow manages to be brutal but yet quite the rocker at the same time.  One of the great tricks of this album is the balance that it achieves between music that can be very brutal and pummeling and listenability.  Let's face it, many black and death metal albums just blast through the songs and when you have finished listening, its hard to remember which song was which, and how anything really sounded different from anything else.  No such worries here, the songwriting and performances are handled very deftly, and it never feels as though the purpose of the song is just to beat you up, but rather that there is a story to be told and the decision was made that this genre was the best way to tell it.  I also really dig “Forever Daggers”, which is a change of pace and feels a little punky and thrashy.

It is a difficult task to create an album that has a unique and definite tone, to create an album that has something to say.  This is one of the albums that succeeds incredibly well in doing just that.  Major kudos to blackQueen for forging their own voice in an ever-crowded genre and creating an album that stands head and shoulders above anything I've heard in a long time.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

ANCIENT ALTAR: LA Weekly Streams New Album Dead Earth In Full

Los Angeles-based post-apocalyptic sludge outfit Ancient Altar has released their sinister sophomore album, Dead Earth, TODAY via Black Voodoo Records (order the LP HERE). The album depicts the end of humanity at the hands of vile and corrupt politics (well-timed, given the current state of affairs) and the necessary destruction of Earth while a lucky few escape to rebuild on a distant planet. Bleak concepts meet addictive riffs, and the reviews have been unanimously and overwhelmingly positive.
A cassette version will be released later via Midnite Collective, and more US tour announcements will follow, but for now, buckle in and give this one a spin over at LA Weekly--and read the fascinating feature detailing the album's dark yet triumphant backstory.

Stream Dead Earth and read the LA Weekly feature at THIS LOCATION.

**Preorders for the LP are available on Black Voodoo Records' website HERE.**

Track Listing:
1. Leader, Liar
2. Albion
3. Dead Earth (LISTEN on CVLT Nation)
4. Void (LISTEN on The Obelisk)


Ancient Altar hails from the land of the unrelenting sun, crippling drought, and excess known as Los Angeles, born of arcane philosophy and a stripped-down approach to bristling, daunting, towering doom. Formed in late 2013, the band features bassist Scott Carlson and guitar player Barry Kavener splitting vocal duties, along with second guitarist Jesse Boldt and drummer Etay Levy.
Dead Earth is the band’s sophomore effort, coming just a year after their 2014 eponymous debut, which was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, and just a few months after a devastatingly stunning set at Psycho California in May. Dead Earth is a loose concept album based on war, corrupt leaders, and religion destroying planet Earth as we speak—which is happening, and only getting worse. The album depicts the only way for humanity to survive: leaving this dead earth and starting over somewhere else. The record dips and dives between themes of the utter despair of the human race’s impending doom—and a sense of hope as we triumphantly make our terrifying yet absolutely necessary escape toward a fresh start and a new future.
Ancient Altar is:
Barry Kavener: guitar and vocals
Scott Carlson: bass and vocals
Jesse Boldt: guitar
Etay Levy: drums

Seattle psych metal trio SNAIL return with fourth album "Feral", this month on Small Stone Records.

Seattle based psych metal forerunners SNAIL  are making a great comeback with their heavy, hazy and stirrring fourth record "Feral", to be released this September  on Small Stone Records. 
Stream SNAIL's intoxicating new song Building A Haunted House
SNAIL formed in 1992 in Los Angeles, consisting of singer Mark Johnson (The Crucified, PASTE, Blessing the Hogs), bassist Matt Lynch and drummer Marty Dodson. The eponymous first album (Big Deal Records) garnered much praise in the press, and gained a loyal following from peers, leading to the DIY, 4-track cassette-recorded All Channels are Open EP, after which SNAIL sadly succumbed to the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” lifestyle and eroded to the point of breaking up.
After 15 years’ absence, SNAIL reunited in 2008 with longtime friend and guitarist Eric Clausen as a fourth member, and unleashed Blood (Meteor City), which was among the highest-rated heavy rock records of 2009, combining fuzzy guitars and a pummeling rhythm section with layered, soaring melodies rarely heard in the genre. In a time of industry turmoil, the record went from blood-red to “in the black,” even attracting the attention of underground music legend Henry Rollins, who gave it multiple plays on his "Fanatics" radio show on influential Los Angeles station KCRW.
SNAIL's 2012 follow-up, Terminus, showcased all fresh material, infused with the enthusiasm of newly-minted collaboration. Influences that were not evident in past works came to the fore, steeped in old-school metal and psychedelia. The subject matter was noticeably more mature, delving into the themes of mortality and its implications in our modern world. From crushing doom to head-bobbing Camaro rock and hypnotic psych, Terminus was SNAIL's most varied work to date; but most importantly, it rocked.
With the challenge of a “first new album” behind them, SNAIL set to work on Feral, their fourth full-length and first for Small Stone. Taking the varied approach of Terminus to new degrees of psychedelia and sonic heft, songs like “Smoke the Deathless” and “Thou Art That” epitomize the weighted melodic appeal of the band, while closer “Come Home” steps forward in its brazen emotionalism. Topped off with mind-bending artwork by Seldon Hunt, Feral is their best work to date, demonstrates the progressive capacity of the once-again trio of Johnson, Lynch and Dodson, and shows that Blood and Terminus may have just been the start of the wildness to come. 
"Feral" out September 25th on Small Stone Records
Preorder on limited edition 180gr vinyl, CD and digital  at this location  
1. Building A Haunted House
2. Smoke The Deathless
3. A Mustard Seed
4. Thou Art That
5. Born In Captivity
6. Derail
7. Psilocybe
8. Come Home

Mark Johnson - Guitars, lead vocals, keys
Matt Lynch - Bass, keys, vocals
Marty Dodson - Drums, percussion, vocals

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Baron Set Release Date For New Svart Album, Reveal First Track

“As soon as you think you know, you're done for. You don't listen and you can't hear.
If you're certain of anything, you shut the door on the possibility of revelation, of discovery.” - Alan Garner

Today, Svart Records sets October 23rd as the release date for Baron's highly anticipated TorporTorpor, the new album from the British rock four-piece, is the latest in a long line of imaginative works hailing from the British Isles that seek to link place and mythology - the wind-beaten rural landscape and the stories of magic handed down through generations of tellers. In this way, it takes many of its cues from previous generations of musicians and artists: Alan Garner and Mervyn Peake, Derek Jarman and Kate Bush - all explorers at one time or another of the potent mix of history, folklore, and landscape that lie at the heart of these Isles. It is a testament, then, to the sheer quality of Torpor that in this daunting company Baron should not feel ashamed.

Baron's previous album, Columns, proved that they were a band filled with talent and vision, but Torpor takes the project to a very different level. This is nothing less than a fully realised masterpiece, rich in the same early-dawn melancholy that so marked its predecessor, but stronger and more resilient, marked with tangled thickets of electric guitar and organ and presided over by Alex Crispin's unmistakable baritone.

While Baron's choice of instrumentation could be seen as being "traditional" (guitar, organ, drums, even a recorder at points), Torpor is far from being some kind of revivalist "psych" album. What hits you at first listen is not the instrumentation being used, but Baron's skill in evoking mood and nuance. The touchstones are similar to the ones evoked on Columns - Talk Talk's sense of enchantment and The Blue Nile's bleary eyed melancholy;,the airy crescendos reminiscent of Traffic's late-period masterpiece When The Eagle Flies – but these influences are invigorated by Baron's confidence and firm grip on dynamics, their ability to leap from a tear-stained hush to a raging crescendo without the join ever being noticeable (witness "Stry," one of two tracks featuring Wolf People's Joe Hollick on guitar, for a demonstration of their sure-footed approach). Torpor works precisely because it knows when and where to abandon its restraint. That it can do so without ever compromising its overall mood is a testament to the maturity of the musicians involved and their total knowledge of the story they are trying to tell.

That parts of the album were surreptitiously (and not entirely legally) recorded at Purton Green, one of the last surviving medieval halls in the UK, makes a lot of sense in this context. It is precisely this mix of daring and tradition, of the lure of the landscape and the ability to reconfigure it in one's own image, that marks Torpor out as an outstanding album, and which pinpoints Baron's position as the latest addition to an imaginative lineage that stretches back as far as the language itself. Hear for yourself Baron's unique brand of magick HERE with the Torpor track "Deeper Align." Cover and tracklisting are as follows:
Tracklisting for Baron's Torpor
1. Dragonfly
2. Mark Maker
3. Wild Cry
4. Dark Down
5. Stry
6. Sleepless
7. Deeper Align
8. Albedo Dei

Ruach Raah Set Release Date For War Arts Debut

War Arts Productions is proud to present the debut album of Ruach Raah, Hate Fanaticism, set for international release on September 25th. Hailing from Portugal, this mysterious trio have been brewing in the underground for the last three years, releasing a debut demo and two successive splits. With Hate Fanaticism, Ruach Raah stake their claim as an austere new horde worth worshiping. Ten hymns of mid-paced black metal hailing Satan and death are blasted forth with total and utter cruelty. Imagine Ildjarn’s primitiveness meeting Darkthrone's '93/'95 aesthetic and all done within the rawness of early Celtic Frost: proto-minimalist, extremely organic, inherently old-school, and neckbreakingly catchy. It's a sound that hypnotizes and then ravages, uncompromising and close-minded, belligerent and battering, and carrying forward the transcendental regression left behind by the late Bone Awl. Hate Fanaticism will be available on vinyl format limited to 250 copies - 150 black and 100 magenta. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:
Tracklisting for Ruach Raah's Hate Fanaticism
1. Arsonist  
2. Absolute Occ├╝lt
3. Guided by Death, Driven by Hate  
4. Convulsions
5. In Hell Baptized
6. Kiss the Ring of the Baron    
7. Hate Fanaticism
8. Womb Overture  
9. Emperor of the Black Abyss
10. Black Plague of Satan

War Arts Productions is a Portuguese label that began in 2007. Prizing quality over quantity and specializing in black metal, War Arts has put out a small-but-steady stream of releases by the likes of Xasthur, Nuit Noire, Thesyre, Onirik, Irae, Morte Incandescente, and Divine Codex among others, as well as the celebrated Lusitania Dark Horde II compilation, focusing exclusively on the rising Portuguese black metal scene. In addition to the label, War Arts runs a dedicated online mail-order. Ruach Raah's Hate Fanaticism will be the label's 17th release to date.


Monday, August 31, 2015

It Came From ReverbNation - The Ripple Music-ReverbNation Playlist Part 1: featuring Tennessee Stiffs, The Black Marbles, NMBR11, Axis/Orbit and The Losing Kind

Welcome waveriders.  Once again the good folks at ReverbNation asked us to participate in a promotion for their millions of bands and artists.  Who ever was interested had 60 days to submit one song to us.  I then promised that I'd go through each submission and write a quick line about the 20 that caught my ear.

2480 artists submitted from all genres.  Originally, I only wanted to review heavy rock stuff, you know, Ripple Music record label kinda stuff, but wouldn't you know it, I simply fell in love with some of the voices, songs, craft and melodies of some very surprising (to me) submissions. I don't really lean towards Country/Americana, yet the Tennessee Stiffs grabbed my ears and refused to let go. I've been bored with too many emo-ish pop bands and intended to skip the whole scene, but a talented young signer/songwriter named Danielle H was way, way too talented to ignore.  Not looking for any indie, folk or alternative yet you'll find amazing songwriters/performers like Lauren Marsh, Gentlemen and Scholars and NMBR11 on the list.  That's not even to mention some of the amazing bands that crossed my computer, like StoneCoats, Ophelliah, and Axis/Orbit.  Way too many to name here.  And despite the fact that ReverbNation ranks submissions by how many fans, facebook/followers they have, etc, I intentionally ignored those rankings and often started at the bottom of the list where the funky as all get-out, bluesy hip hop of PR Stunt was just waiting to be found.

Its a very mixed, eclectic playlist for all kinds of moods.  In other words, it's what the Ripple Effect is all about.

My apologies to all the others who submitted.  Some of these cuts were brutal for me.  It was a brutal process, listening to each and every one of the 2480 submissions and trimming it down.  Once I got the list down to about 100 the process trudged to a snail's pace.   I wanted to keep them all, but simply couldn't.  Often it wasn't that a submission wasn't worthy, it just may have been not what I wanted to write about at this point in time.  Case in point, The Black Marbles, who I passed over the last time I did this, but jumped out at me this go around.

So, without further ado, the Ripple Music ReverbNation playlist, part 2.  Part 1 played (find it here) a bit back, Part 3 plays next week.

Tenessee Stiffs - Waiting to Collide 

Ok, I'm taking this right off the band's webpage, because it's just damn perfect.  "They seamlessly blend Americana, blues, rock, folk, alternative country, and a myriad of other influences into a powerful and provocative product they call "Death Folk." Late night writing sessions soaked in whiskey gave the group a sound all their own. Cara’s melodies range from hauntingly beautiful to wildly soulful. Blended with Lee’s foot-stomping rhythms and gravelly vocals, the two take the “Beauty and the Beast” standard to heart."    I don't know about the whole "Beauty and the Beast" part, because I think both of their voices are simply damn perfect, but man, when they harmonize, and overlap each other . . . unreal.  The term "achingly beautiful" was coined just to describe this band.  Yes, it's country, or Americana, or acoustic indie, or . . .Death Folk.  It's all of the above and it is simply a perfect, and perfectly beautiful song.  Haunting.  Gritty.  Powerful.  Moving.  Infinitely listenable.

I think the band is pressing up their first album.  That will definitely be one to look out for.

The Black Marbles - Free Your Mind

Moving on from the Americana end of things, but keeping it gritty, we got the Black Marbles and their roughed up, garage pop of "Free Your Mind."  Keeping it moving and soulful in the style of groovy 70's rock, inspired by bands such as Bad Company, Free, Humble Pie and the Faces.   I know Sweden is capable of cranking out just about any music dreamed of, but nothing about this band sounds like it comes from Gothenburg.  It just bleeds dirty garage rock with soul and verve of the south.  A taste of the bayou.  A shot of whiskey.  Bar Band for the next major fist fight.  "Free Your Mind," is a rocking, groovin' burst of a good time and not to be missed.

NMBR11 - Please Forgive Me

After the Tennessee Stiffs and now NMBR11, you might think that I got a thing for that painfully beautiful, poignant mixture of female vocals riding across a tune of stark Americana . . . and I guess I do.  Remember, I'm the guy who hates country, mainly because it's lacking in soul.  So, I'll fight you to the death that this ain't country, cause what NMBR11 do is just about as full as soul as you can get.  Sure the song is gently acoustic, and beats at a leisurely crawl, but that doesn't mean it's not powerful.  Don't be fooled.  The fantastic guitar work of Bernard Bulhack interweaving with the angelic, aching vocals of Yeshiva is all about the power. The power of expert songwriting and musicianship.  The power of emotion, and pain, remorse and hidden places.   Dark, country, gothic American is the name of the game here, and it's just about as evocative and moving as anything you're gonna find.  Amazing vocals, poignant acoustic and weeping edges of slide guitar.  When Yeshiva sings, "Please forgive me, I was wrong,"   Man.  If she was singing to me, all defenses would simply melt and I'd forgive her for the next 1,000 things she may do.   A beautiful, spellbinding song.  

Axis/Orbit - Around

Now I know Axis/Orbit.  Or I thought I did.  These cats sent me their 3 song debut a while back and more recently they sent me their finished full-length album.  I hadn't listened to it yet.  Looks like I gotta fix that real soon.  I seemed to remember Axis/Orbit being rather form-free psychedelic jamming, but man, that's not what's going on here.  Yes, the fuzz and acrid haze are still here, but this is burst of pure crunchy, punchy garage psych.  A killer chorus, some nasty fuzzed-out riffs and a killer, swinging beat.   Their reverbNaton page goes on to list all the standard stoner rock influences from Sabbath to Clutch to Corrosion of Conformity, but damn, I'll tell you, that's not what this song is about.  I know stoner (I do run a stoner rock/heavy rock record label) and what we got here is smack dab up the other love alley of my life, and that's straight from the garage.   And in my opinion, the band is better for it.  With the confines of the song, the band is punchier and more straight forward than I remember them being and simply cranking out a party good vibe.  

The Losing Kind - Loser

Punk.  Straight up, right from the gutter, blood and spit punk rock.  Well, in this case, turns out the "gutter" is right up the 80 freeway from me in Vacaville.  Not a place I ever associated with a punk rock scene (or any music scene for that matter) but maybe that's about to change.  "Loser" is all flailing buzzsaw guitars, snappy verses and addictive gang choruses, just like the best of punk.  Energy, vitality and rawness.  Perfect.  But there's also some serious chops here. The drums stay right in the pocket without getting sloppy and the bass and guitar run through some nice paces keeping the song rushing forward.  Best of all, we're not stuck listening to whiny emo vocals here, but good guttural punk throats.   "Three time loser on a winning streak" may be the lyrics here, and I'll tell you, if this song is any indication, that winning streak is about to keep on going.  

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