Thursday, December 31, 2015

Odin's Top Ten List for 2015

1.      Horrendous - Anareta The best death metal album of the year, hands down, showing the way for growth and progression in the genre.

2.      The Body & Krieg – Self Titled Once again The Body finds a collaborator who meshes and melds perfectly.

3.      Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls When I heard that this was going to be a double album, I was a little concerned, but they made a believer out of me with one of the most solid albums of their career.

4.       Dragged Into Sunlight/Gnaw Their Tongues – N.V. Another collaboration, this one dark and foul and nasty in all of the best ways.

5.      Ruby The Hatchet – Valley of the Snake Heavy, psychedelic, rocking goodness

6.      blackQueen – The Directress Gorgeous black metal that sounds like the sound track you always wanted to your favorite horror flick.

7.      Second Coming of Heavy Chapter One Geezer and Borracho in the first of a series of splits from Ripple Music. Perfect combination of bands and heavy is an understatement.

8.      Fogg – High Testament Full on stoner rock goodness with just the right touch of psychedelia

9.      Panopticon – Autumn Eternal Nature worshipping black metal that is oh so good.

10.  Wende – The Third and the Noble More black metal (yeah, I like that stuff) that stirs the soul and fires the passions.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Huntsman's Top 30 Records Of 2015

This year has been by far the best year of music I’ve experienced in a long time, in fact, best year ever. For me it was also a pinnacle year for vinyl purchases, which I struggle to get under control much like an alcoholic trying to limit himself to just 1 or 2 drinks a week instead of a 12 pack a night. Once I start I cannot seem to stop. In that spirit I decided to only use albums that I have purchased on vinyl in my favorite “records” of the year list. Not only did it limit the crop I had to whittle down, but it truly represents what I thought were worthwhile albums this year. There were a ton of albums not made available on vinyl, or that I did not buy due to money reasons at the time and this list is not to take away from those bands, as I know not everyone has the means to put their music out on vinyl. Ripple had an outstanding year this year, as did many of the other DIY small labels putting out some smashing outputs on wax. Altogether I managed to acquire over 110 vinyl records released in 2015 this year, which was a record, record year for me. Good thing I got a raise at work….. Check the finalists below which changed hands many times. It came down to the usual verdicts being time spent listening, lasting impacts and repeatability. All of these were spun at least once on my turntable and many times via mobile device:
30. Flight - Flight (Bad Omen Records)
29. Black Space Riders - Refugeeum (Self-Released)
28. Jack The Radio - Badlands (Pretty Money Publishing)
27. Omar - I Am Heavy Metal, Who Are You? (Accelerator Records)
25. Gingerpig - Ghost On The Highway (Suburban Records)
24. Carousel - 2113 (Tee Pee Records)
23. Clutch - Psychic Warfare (Weathermaker Music)
22. Lucero - All A Man Should Do (ATO Records)
21. Black Pussy - Magic Mustache (Made in China Records)
20. Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free (Southeastern Records)
19. The Heavy Eyes - He Dreams Of Lions (Kozmik Artifactz)
18. Kind - Rocket Science (Ripple Music)
17. Golden Void - Berkana (Thrill Jockey)

So the top 15 of 15’ ended as follows. Also note that my decision of listing only albums I had purchased on vinyl is not a shot at any band that was unable or decided not to release on vinyl. There were many albums deserving of mention, however my format this year was to keep it vinyl as I felt that the extra effort put into purchasing and supporting on vinyl was worth the mentions outright.
15. Hyne – MMXV
MMXV follow up their debut ‘Elements’ review here, also one of my favorite records of 2013 with a brand spanking new output of hard and heavy rock and roll. Something about Hyne I totally love and felt they have gone slightly under the radar amongst the regulars in the heavy underground. Well shit, I reviewed the new one as well, check it out here.

14. Witchwood - Litanies from the Woods
I was totally blown away upon discovering Witchwood late in the summer. For fans of Jethro Tull, Litanies from the Woods is a diverse undertaking highlighting the progressive side of the classic 60’s/70’s retro movement. Huge riffs, psychedelic grooves, and a sultry southern rock base rank Witchwood as one of ‘The Best’ records of the year and not just my favorites. I was fortunate enough to grab the Limited Purple ‘Italy Only’ 2LP Gatefold version of the records, which the bandcamp will link you up to via Jolly Roger Records.
Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath,

13. Sun Preachers - Walking Towards the Tower
Sun Preachers released late in the year, and upon hearing of the release on Bandcamp I was immediately reminded of my love for the band on their previous outputs a few years back. The combination of psychedelic blues meets stoner/sludge groove is insatiable and lands the Sun Preachers at lucky #13. The gatefold vinyl package is loaded with immaculately dark and doomy artwork on a heavy weight white or black slab. I went with the white via Nasoni Records who have a fantastic catalog of bands.

12. The Atomix Bitchwax – Gravitron

No surprise, yet perhaps the biggest surprise this year was TAB’s resurgence with thir new album . From the get go I was hooked. One of my most played records of the year in which there are no bad songs. Just read my blurb posted on the Doom Charts best of the year feature.
Not only is The Atomic Bitchwax the coolest band name in the hard rock arena, but they’ve proven themselves worthy of icon status in the world of heavy progressive stoner rock for roughly 20 years running. Graviton successfully combines equal parts QOTSA to Foo Fighters with the balls of Fu Manchu and brains of Monster Magnet. This buzz creates a formula of massively addictive hooks holding true to their signature brand of speedy stoned out groove. Scorching desert metal riffs scar the amplifiers as the melodic fuzz noodles along to a tranquil fervor. Virtually every song on Gravitron is brimming with atomic groove and glazed with bluesy grungedelic luster pulling its weight amongst the rising field of doom, psych and stoner Titans of 2015.”

11. Valkyrie – Shadows
First off, take a moment to admire that killer artwork. Admittedly I only just discovered Valkyrie this year upon the pre-order teaser for Shadows on Bandcamp early in the spring. I listened to the 3 teaser tracks religiously, pre-ordered the sick looking merge vinyl on Relapse Records and waited impatiently for the full release. Perhaps the record that floored me the hardest with the initial listen, Shadows is an album that will be listened to for years to come. Sliding back a few slots from their #1 ranking I put them on the first couple months of its release Valkyrie are back. Full review here.

10. We Hunt Buffalo - Living Ghosts

We Hunt Buffalo released their pinnacle record this year and were also signed to stoner rock Fuzzorama Records, who released this beast on vinyl. The band is known for their dreamy, yet muscular flex of stoner/blues/desert rock. Fuzzorama is the perfect home and I could not be more impressed with Living Ghosts. Moments of sheer beauty lurk beneath melodic riffs, and superbly produced fuzz metal. It’s no wonder they make the top 10 on my list.

9. Dorthia Cottrell - Dorthia Cottrell
Talk about being floored on initial impression. I got on this one hard and early as I purchased the first round vinyl straight from the label within getting minutes into song 2. I just knew that this one was meant to be spinning on the turntable. Dorthia’s swooning vocals echo a doom-laden approach to a mostly acoustic set of heart-wrenching, dark folk rock tunes. This album probably paralyzed more hairs on my neck throughout the course of the year than any other record. Much preferred to her main band Windhand, which ranked at #1 on the doom charts and beloved by the majority of the heavy underground this year?

8. Ruby the Hatchet - Valley of the Snake

Make no mistake Ruby the Hatchet made an impression on the hard rock community this year with
Valley of the Snake. If the opening tune doesn’t put you into a head bobbing trance with its catchy groove, then you might as well stop reading this right now. Here is what I said on the Doom Charts best of the year list:
“Valley of the Snake cements Ruby the Hatchet as one of the years most provocative hard rock albums of the year. Combining the catchy groove of top tier stoner rock with an exuberantly tie-dyed arena doom, the overall impression carves a valley of medieval wonder. Opener “Heavy Blanket” wraps the listener with warm, yet pummeling groove carried by angelic vocals moaning with a serpentine echo. Jillian Taylor not only shines like a diamond physically, but her commanding vocal charms the nerves and awakens the aural senses with arousing effect. Valley of the Snake strikes the doom charts with venom force at #25 slithering the kingdom of riffs with a seductive presence.”

7. All Them Witches - Dying Surfer Meets His Maker

How the hell do you write anything about All Them Witches? I struggle for the words to describe this band. At one time I tried writing a review of their epidomous debut record back in 2013 and just couldn’t muster up the balls to figure it out. Dying Surfer Meets His Maker is a welcomed progression taking their signature psych influenced blues into a more folk/country inspired direction. Make no mistake, this is not a country record by any means, and still maintains that heavy, smokey and visceral spin on hard blues, but there is a progressive folk ring to the songs as they fade from windswept Americana roots back into doomy blues from song to song. This one gets better and better with every listen and demands your respect.

6. Great Peacock - Making Ghosts
Hands down my most played album of the year Great Peacock dominated the turntable at my house.
Partly because my wife and family loved it as well and mostly because the album is a magnificent take on folk/pop rock. The blue 2LP gatefold version which plays on 3 sides only couples well with the seemingly simple, yet intriguing album cover. Side 3 takes the cake and there were times I played that side over and over on hours end around the house. Take a listen and tell me you don’t have a soft spot for this stuff.

5. Datura4 - Demon Blues

Datura4 knock it out of the park with Demon Blues which is the epitome of modern classic rock with a dollop of blues and smothering of classy vintage hooks. Each and every song summons the nostalgia of early 70’s fuzz meets proto blues. Released on the perfect label Alive Natural Sounds, who, by the way, is one of the coolest discoveries this year in terms of record labels with a vinyl shop via Bomp Records, Datura4 take the cream of the crop award at the label. Home to bands such as Dirty Streets, Buffalo Killers, Mount Carmel and The Black Keys, and distributed at the Bomp Records store ANS has a signature “Starburst” vinyl which is a hand mixed color vinyl at very reasonable and extremely limited options. I made sure I grabbed the limited Starburst of Demon Blues which is long sold out. Check this band out if you’re into anything rock n roll.

5. Sergeant Thunderhoof - Ride of the Hoof

Okay, so I don’t have the vinyl of this in my hands and it isn’t even made yet, and I already have a #5 on the list, however the band just recently announced a Kickstarter to raise funds for their vinyl release which has been one of the most talked about releases needing a vinyl option all year. I had to include it. I pledged and thus, I threw this one in at #5 because I literally admire this record. Listened on repeat digitally for the better part of the second half of the year, Ride the Hoof deserves a mention in anybody’s top slots this year and I am excited for this campaign to be funded and put to life sometime in 2016.

4. Elder – Lore

What much can you say about this progressive stoner masterpiece. I was lucky to catch them live this year and they proved to be no joke. Epic riffs, and technical grandeur, Elder dominated the airwaves this year and deservingly so. Here is what I said in the March edition of the Doom Charts where Elder dominated the first half of the year:

Elder have crafted a masterpiece of heavy progressive metal constructed with subtle vocal wails, celestial solos, and intricately distorted fuzz. The Mastodonian guitar noodles are orchestrated to the tone of a rocket ship launching from the bowels of the deep blue sea. Imagine Baroness on ecstasy trying to riff their way into a Pink Floyd music video. The more I listen, the harder it is to argue that Lore may have already claimed Album of the Year for 2015. “

3. Wino & Conny Ochs - Freedom Conspiracy

I’ve been a sucker for this shit since first hearing the Wino and Conny album Heavy Kingdom a few years back. Nobody does the acoustic doom duo better than these two. Lyrically the album deals with struggle, hard times, and sorrow like a lot of dark folk type stuff, but what sets these guys apart is the incredible harmony paired with intricate riffs that Wino is known for. Also Conny Ochs contributions are just as important. Been a fan of his solo stuff for a while too, which is in the same vein as this project. This album will put you in tears in the most satisfactory way possible. I was lucky enough to be one of the first 50 orders of the vinyl package which included a free 7-inch single of Conny Ochs – Suiciety. This is the kind stuff you think about what songs you would want to be played at your funeral.

2. Freedom Hawk - Into Your Mind
You read my review here, and it goes without saying the Freedom Hawk – Into Your Mind was my
favorite hard rock album of the year. I’ve played this one for groups of civilians (friends) and not a complaint. Not a blemish to complain about. The album is catchy, the album is heavy, the artwork is stunning, and the complete package is mind blowing. Grabbed the vinyl released on Small Stone Records who are known for logical and loving packages. Freedom Hawk breaks away from the shackles of musical mediocrity and migrates deep into your mind, becoming the pinnacle record of 2015 stoner rawk scene.

This might come as a surprise to some of you, but not all of you. The Drive-By Truckers are perhaps one of my all-time favorite bands and one of those bands that I rave on and on about every single year as to desperately try and get the attention of others who may not realize how amazing they are. It’s Great to Be Alive is a box set featuring their entire performance Live at the Fillmore over a 3-night set in the fall of 2014. The box includes 5-LPs, 3-CDs, a 12 page insert booklet talking about the bands history and how the record came about, as well as artwork and all the bells and whistles of your standard box set. What sets this record apart is how well the band captures the history of the
band and the power of their live performance on record. I’ve seen them twice and blindsided both times. Their live shows are something to behold. Being mostly a southern rock band using their songwriting strengths and unique style of each songwriter also being the singer on their own tracks, the live shows are LOUD! Louder than most metal shows I go to but with the ability to sing along and understand the stories they tell so well. My only regrets are not being able to attend this historical show. The live recording puts it up there with the Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore in terms of live album prowess. Trust me; this is a monumental record and a box set not to be passed on.

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed seeing some of my favorite vinyl records of the year. It was indeed an astonishing year for great music as it seems to be getting better each passing year. These were just my top 30 records I own of the year and to be honest every album I purchase is purchased out of the utmost respect for the music and in essence is a favorite by definition.

-The Huntsman

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Ripple Conversation with Paul Valle of the Chiefs

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments? 

I love hearing people talk about growing up and how they're parents played Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin, etc... As a child, I had absolutely no music in my household or any sort of musical direction. It wasn't til 6th grade when I had my first musical epiphany with a Black Flag cassette, discovering Punk Rock. The fast, aggressive style was addicting as a young teen, perfect for skating Phoenix suburbs and breaking windows. A band like Black Flag inspired me to start playing music as I thought, "if these guys can do it, I can do it..."

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

No process is set in stone but usually we'll come up with a riff and build from there, adding lyrics after the song structure is formed.

Who has influenced you the most?

Musically its almost impossible to say...I have been influenced by so many different types of music and artists but if I had to pick a direct Chiefs influence, Fu Manchu is certainly up there.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

I am a bit of a nomad and have been inspired by moving and living in different cities. Seeing music and doing music in all these places, meeting so many great musicians all over has really inspired me. The community in heavy music has itself been very inspiring. Not only do we take inspiration from great bands but great people and leaders also. Although we do not focus on "politics" in our music, we are very inspired by people who stand up for truth. People who risked and gave their lives for their beliefs and struggle. Our society and world has been diseased with toxic business culture, with profit over people, with poverty and inequality. We are inspired by truth seekers and the ones willing to fight and the ones that have fought for a better future of humanity.

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

Growing up in Phoenix, it was a love/hate relationship that is definitely reflective in our music. There wasn't much to do. Attending/playing shows usually kept me out of trouble and provided me dreams and hope. Dreams to get out and see the country through music. Phoenix is a great place but there is a lot of struggle in the desert. A lot of racism and inequality that was very noticeable at a early age. Phoenix has a direct influence on me when it comes to "following my dreams" of being a musician and also in the way I see and treat people as a whole.

Where'd the band name come from? 

The name Chiefs reflects on our commitment to truth and a toast to all the greats that influenced me as a person. Again, coming from PHX I was influenced by pre colonized life, the indigenous people who inhabited the area and the history of the land itself. It's a salute of respect to many greats.

Tell us about witchcraft, what it means to you and your life?

The band or the practice?..hah we dig the band, the practice or term means nothing to me.

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

"There Will Be Blood."

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

Black Sabbath "War Pigs" simply for how revolutionary the music itself was let alone the message of the song. There's a lot to say for that time and sound, as history just keeps repeating itself...

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

It is mainly self expression. I don't write lyrics about bongs or doom metal concepts, rather about personal struggles, world struggles, and simply on how i feel. I think people can relate simply because everyone struggles to find their way in life or the true calling of their destiny.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

Probably the best Chiefs spinal tap moment was when I was briefly in LA. Jeff had just joined the band and was playing bass for one tour (as we were still a three piece then). He was in San Diego while I was in LA working with a new drummer at the time and I told him the wrong tuning for ALL the songs, so when Jeff arrived in LA to prepare for tour with us he had to relearn ALL the songs in a few days. Needless to say, I fucked up but Jeff was hardly phased and no one would've ever know. Haha

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

Performing live is without a doubt my favorite part about making music. For me, it is a release of emotion and demons I can't rid anywhere else. It is a euphoric state where I cant feel the world bearing down on me, nor can I think about anything at all. I am purely lost in the moment and the music. Because of this too, I couldn't really tell you what Chiefs fans see or feel.

What makes a great song?

Passion. We've all seen bands "going through the motions" but the bands with true passion and fire, you can tell. Fire, passion and genuine emotion are needed.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

It was a one minute, punk rock jam written when I was in my first band as a young teen. Simple, mean and fast.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

Our newest recording (not yet released) is our most proud. Five songs for a split LP with our good friends Desert Suns set for release on Ripple Music, mid 2016.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

There are so many bands in the heavy music scene that are writing killer stuff. There's a lot of good stuff out in the "underground" right now but unfortunately theres just as much trend and clicks to it as well, which really kicks my ass. Also the fact that nothing mainstream is good anymore. Like in the 90's there were a selected it seems to be all bullshit in the mainstream.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

Of course as a music lover, vinyl is the most rewarding. Sounds the best and looks the best but I'll take whatever I can get.

Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice.

Whiskey, no doubt. I can't drink beer without getting gnarly hungover. You can call it, "the Caroline curse". Beer just doesn't run in my blood.

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

Phoenix Arizona! Revolver Records and the heavyweight champs, Zia Records. Of course there's also the legendary Eastside records in Tempe.

What's next for the band?
We just finished recording our newest material set for release in 2016 and couldn't be happier about it. We are also  currently booking Chiefs' first full US tour set for June 2016. Dates will be posted soon.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
Thank you and rock on!


Monday, December 28, 2015

Swedebeast's Top 10 2015

1.       The Crown - Death Is Not Dead 
2.       Black Star Riders - The Killer Instinct
3.       A.P.F. - Gold Lead Iron / King Giant - Black Ocean Waves
4.       Månegarm - Månegarm 
5.       Mangog - Daydreams Within Nightmares
6.       Elder - Lore
7.      Killing Joke - Pylon
8.       Switchblade Jesus - Switchblade Jesus
9.       Space Probe Taurus - Mondo Satan 
10.   My Sleeping Karma - Moksha


Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Void's Top 10 Of 2015

It has been a very good year if you love rock music. There are just to much to choose from sometimes. It's impossible to keep up with the big labels, small labels, blogs, pods and bandcamps but here is an attempt to summarize what went down in 2015. I'm sure I missed most of all the great music out there but this is what got the most spins on my turntable. 

1. We Hunt Buffalo – Living Ghosts
The hunters of buffalo from Vancouver deliver their second album on Swedish label Fuzzorama and what we get to hear is a band that is digging into the very ground they are standing on. The wild nature is present in the lyrics and the riffs are cut out of the bedrock of the Rocky Mountains. A well composed record in total that gets under our skin. For real.

2. Lucifer – 1
When The Oath collapsed singer Johanna Sadonis started Lucifer. This is heavy metal with a doomy touch and it's so elegantly made that one can only surrender.

3. Monolord – Vaenir
Only 13 months after the sensational debut “Empress Rising” Monolord hits us with the follow up and it's just as awesomely heavy and fuzzy as it's predecessor.

4. Ghost – Meliora
I grew up on Alice Cooper, Kiss and King Diamond so I can't help loving Ghost and everything the band stand for. They brought back the magic and larger than life image to rock music. And musically they have never been better.

5. Slayer – Repentless
It's fucking Slayer. Nuff said.

6. The Sword – High Country
I really appreciate when bands show how they refuse to stand still in one spot. This is a big step forward for the Texans and even though it's sound is almost all new it still sounds like The Sword.

7. With The Dead – s/t
If Lee Dorrian, Mark Greening and Tim Bagshaw decide to combine their superpowers and put it on a record it will end up on the top ten.That is the law of the land. Doomy and punky with raw edges. Liberating.

8. Mammoth Storm – Fornjot
There is nothing small about this album. The riffs are as massive as the vocals and the majestic rhythm section. Two words: epic doom.

9. Sons Of Huns – While Sleeping, Stay Awake
There is something about power trios and rock music. These dudes from Portland got it all right on their second album and the earth moves beneath our feet when they get their groove on.

10. Torche - Restarter
This album is all about that massive wall of guitars. It is just that. A wall of guitars. And who doesn't love a wall of guitars?

Other albums that must be mentioned:
Lucifer Jones – Welcome To Fear City, Limb – Terminal, Charta 77 – Salt, Kadavar – Berlin, Kylesa – Exhausting Fire, Iron Maiden – The Book Of Soul, Kind – Rocket Science, Killing Joke – Pylon, Blackwülf - Oblivion Cycle, Black Trip - Shadowlines, Clutch -- Psychic Warfare, Faith No More – Sol Invictus, Black Breath – Slaves Beyond Death, Chron Goblin – Backwater, Mammothwing – Spirit Remains, Pentagram – Curious Volume, Prophets Of Saturn – Retronauts, Paradise Lost – The Plague Within, Spelljammer – Ancient Of Days, Sonic Medusa – The Sunset Soundhouse Tapes, Napalm Death – Apex Predator, Riwen – The Cold, Sweat Lodge – Talismana, Valley – Sunburst, W.A.S.P – Golgatha, Windhand – Grief's Eternal Flower, Colossus – The Breathing World, Dorthia Cottrell – s/t, High On Fire – Luminiferous, Steve Von Till – A Life Unto Itself, Tribulation – The Children Of The Night, Skraeckoedlan – Sagor

-The Void

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Ripple Conversation with Chad Houts of Bonehawk

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

A: For me, there are several. I knew I dug music early on listening to my mom's old 45s. In particular, I loved the Motown stuff, the Beatles, Roy Orbison, and my favorite was the Rolling Stones. The first time I heard "Honky Tonk Women," I was hooked on rock 'n' roll. In a couple of years I moved onto hard rock/metal. Guns 'n' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction" meant a lot to me, and then a few years later, upon hearing Megadeth's "Rust in Peace," I had to have a guitar. I was a thrasher for years (still am!) and it really helped me as a young guitarist, though it was challenging, so Black Sabbath opened doors because it was just as heavy, but without all the acrobatic playing. And it was a good time because all that wave of Sabbath worship bands were coming out: Sleep, Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu, Kyuss, etc. And right around that same time, I was big into Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy. I love guitar harmonies. I would say those 2 bands and Metallica's pre-"Black Album" stuff really inspired me to write harmony lines.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

A: It's all over the place. Typically it starts with Matt or myself and then we bring it into practice and mold it as a band. Recently, our bass player, Taylor, has brought riffs to the table, too. A lot of times Matt will have a song title and that will inspire things. From my perspective, he's sort of stream of consciousness lyric writer - often writing them on the spot as we jam the riffs. A lot of our songs lately start with Matt's riff ideas and then I'll come in with a harmony part or a different riff for the chorus or bridge. Then it comes together really easily. We don't like to beat a dead horse if it's not gelling, though.

Who has influenced you the most?

A: As a musician, it would be my first and only guitar teacher, Jeff. He's just amazing. He's a big Merle Travis/Chet Atkins guy, but grew up with Aerosmith as his favorite band in the 70s! Sometimes we'd just spend our lessons talking about the philosophy of music and the guitar's purpose in it. I still see him as much as I can for inspiration. As far as recording artists, for me it's Thin Lizzy for sure.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

A: Sort of answered above with my old guitar teacher. But lots of things are inspiring: film, books, music. I feel like sometimes I'll watch a movie and it will inspire music out of me. Or sometimes I'll re-visit a record for the first time in a long while and I'll just hear it differently. Those are totally rad moments! It's also been cool and inspiring playing with some of the Michigan bands we have played with: Blue Snaggletooth, Beast in the Field, Boss Mustangs, Against the Grain, Bison Machine - there's a great heavy rock scene in Michigan. And playing with bigger bands like Valient Thorr and Blue Oyster Cult has been cool. Valient Thorr are class dudes. Most of the touring bands we play with are too cool to be there, but not them - Valient Himself was in the front row jamming while we played and grabbing Thorriors to join him! Much respect!

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

A: Matt and I were small town dudes and there weren't a lot of musicians in our town with us. So we sort of grew up in the next biggest town, which was Kalamazoo. Not to date myself, but I've seen a lot of different music come and go in our hometown - some good, some bad. Really, it's always been a cool place to play music with a supportive audience. I don't think any of us have really been hugely influenced by our region because we're too selfish and only serve ourselves and play the kind of music we dig and would personally want to listen to.

Where'd the band name come from? 

A: That's kind of funny. We were named by our friend Nate, who used to be the drummer of a band Matt and I were in for years. Nate was actually the original drummer of BoneHawk very briefly. We stole the name from him! It seemed like an appropriate name to match the sound  we were making.

Tell us about witchcraft, what it means to you and your life?

A: I don't think it plays a big part in any of our lives. Though a couple of us have watched a high school friend sit on a glowing tombstone trying to channel the dead person in said tombstone's grave. Creepy shit!

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

A: Probably "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" or something directed by John Carpenter.

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

A: "Black Rose" by Thin Lizzy. It's just the perfect song in many ways to me. I could probably pick thousands more.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

A: Speaking for myself, I'm selfish. I just want to play the kind of music I'd want to hear, and play it as well as I can. I'd love it if every audience would feel some kind of connection to it, but that's just not always realistic. If they just let loose and have fun, that's cool.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

A: I've fallen off a very tall stage before. I wear glasses, but usually don't on stage, so it can happen! Otherwise, I sometimes say stupid stuff on the mic when I shouldn't. That's as close as it gets!

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans? 

A: I think we have fun and we try to be energetic and let the crowd know they can be loose and enjoy themselves. We play the music fairly accurately to the records, but sometimes we'll go off on certain songs if the mood is right. If we headline in our hometown, we like to make a tongue-in-cheek "grand" entrance, and people have fun with it. We also have a large, lighted sign that has made an appearance. We like to make our shows an event if at all possible.

What makes a great song?

A: For me, I dig groove and melody and intensity one way or another. I'm a pretty basic verse/chorus/bridge kind of guy. But I like each part to make me want to move somehow. Lyrics are always secondary to me for whatever reason (even though I have a degree in writing!).

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

A: It was when I was in 8th grade and called "Bug of Destruction"! It was pretty thrashy. I was listening to a lot of thrash at the time: Metallica, Megadeth, Testament, Anthrax, Slayer, Exodus and stuff like S.O.D. and D.R.I. So it was like a poor man's version of those bands' stuff.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

I can't pick just one, so I'll give 3: "Desert Run" as a whole. I originally came up with the riffs in Matt and my previous band, Mesa, and they were way faster. Matt had the idea to re-write it so it was more mellow, and he put the melody to it, and it just clicked. Next is "Nomad" - particularly the parts I wrote - the chorus riff and the bridge harmony part. That chorus riff is the kind of riff I've always dug. It's heavy! The harmony is a little out there for me - it just kind of wrote itself. Lastly, the chorus riff in "Albino Rhino" - another heavy one that reminds me of "Sin After Sin" era Priest! I dig that.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

A: I love Earthless. They're my favorite thing in the last 15 years. The interconnection between each of the players is beyond rad! Isaiah is an amazing guitarist. As far as songs, I'd say I like Red Fang a lot. They seem to have a grasp on how to write killer riffs with hooks, and they're really heavy and great live! I also really dig the Shrine because they have killer songs and fierce energy! And I saw them open for Clutch and CoC (with Pepper) and I think they blew them both off the stage. I also love Danava! They're rad in every way.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

A: Vinyl and digital. I'm on the run a lot and don't always have a turntable where I'm staying. I'm ok with digital. It's nice to have 14,000 songs on one little device! But I tend to listen more when I have a record on the turntable. I'll sit and study the artwork while I listen and just let it help me get lost in the moment of listening to that record.

Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice

A: I don't drink a lot, but I'm more of a beer guy. I prefer higher gravity beers if I'm going to have them. More bang for the buck!

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in? 

A: Within Michigan, there are some great bands: Blue Snaggletooth, Beast in the Field, Boss Mustangs, No Bails, Bison Machine, Seritas, Easy Action, Drink Their Blood, Moto, and probably dozens more I have forgotten! In Kalamazoo, we have two great, supportive record stores: Green Light Music and Satellite Records. I tend to go to Green Light more because the manager, Chris, has been pushing heavy music on me since I was a teen, so he's an old bro from way back. But both are super cool, and have really helped "Albino Rhino" be a success.

What's next for the band? 

A: We have 4 new songs coming out on Ripple Music's "The Second Coming of Heavy Volume 3" as well as a supremely limited tribute to Thin Lizzy 7-inch on Hornacious Wax Records with 3 Lizzy covers. Ripple is also releasing "Albino Rhino" on CD with additional artwork/lyrics. And we hope to record "Albino Rhino's" follow-up this spring. Touring sounds imminent, too.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

A: In the words of Jeff Spicoli, a great philosopher dude of our time, "Well Stu I'll tell you, surfing's not a sport, it's a way of life, it's no hobby. It's a way of looking at that wave and saying, 'Hey bud, let's party!'" And as Bill & Ted put it, "Be excellent to each other."


Thursday, December 24, 2015

KIND's Rocket Science, Blackwülf's Oblivion Cycle and Sonic Medusa's The Sunset Soundhouse Tapes Released on Ripple Music

Formed in 2013 by Matt Couto (Elder), Darryl Shepard (Black Pyramid, The Scimitar) and Tom Corino (Rozamov) – after the trio spent time jamming together in-between day-to-day commitments – the doom supergroup KIND quickly cemented their formation with the addition of Roadsaw vocalist Craig Riggs.

Out of the mind-bending riffs and extended jam sessions, whole songs began to take shape through winter rehearsals down in Couto’s freezing cold basement in 2014. Shows were soon booked to share the tunes with the curious. Further riffs materialized, new songs banged into shape, and yet more shows confirmed, so keen were the band to test their mettle and mixture of heavy metal, psych, Krautrock and straight-up classic rock and roll live.

With four songs recorded at Mad Oak Studios serving as the band's demo, in the spring of 2015, KIND entered New Alliance Studios with engineer Alec Rodriguez to record their first full-length, Rocket Science receives an official release today on the California-based label Ripple Music.

KIND on Facebook | Bandcamp

With a résumé that includes member stints with bands like San Francisco’s Acid King, The Nads, Tucson’s Naked Prey and Mountain Pig, Blackwülf is already a seasoned predator. Formed in 2012, it wasn’t until January of last year that the band unleashed their debut album Mind Traveller on Wicker Man Recordings, pressed on clear red vinyl and featuring jacket illustrations from acclaimed San Franciscan artist Alan Forbes (Queens Of The Stone Age, The Misfits). The record, much like Blackwülf themselves is unabashed in its typical, “What you see is what you get” aesthetic, melding heavy stoner riffs to sincere, pure rock indulgence.

The band – featuring vocalist Alex Cunningham, guitarist Pete Holmes, drummer Dave Pankenier and bassist Scott Peterson – prowl the musical feeding grounds of stoner rock, doom-cloaked soundscapes and vintage heavy metal. Dark sonic forests provide coverage for their unholy mix of parapsychological anger and aggression, and bluesy head-banging riffs. As Heavy Planet put it best, “Heavy on the heavy, doomy on the riffing, this vintage metal band has hit the nail on the proverbial head.”

Offering up a pounding dose of melody and raw power with a nod to the golden old schools of heavy 70s and 80s pre-thrash metal, Blackwülf’s Oblivion Cycle is released today through Ripple Music.

Blackwülf on Website | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Formed in 2009, the venerable LA super group Sonic Medusa – featuring members of Goatsnake, The Obsessed, Hollywood Rose and Angus Khan – have already drawn comparisons with the likes of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Alice Cooper and a whole host of other, celebrated groups of the era.

With their debut EP The Sunset SoundHouse Tapes – officially released this December on the formidable Ripple Music – the band digs its heavy heels in deep, integrating the powerful influence of late 70s/early 80s NWOBHM via twin guitar assaults and rhythms reminiscent of Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest and early Iron Maiden.

Brought out of semi-retirement by the lure of making music with Sonic Medusa, Greg Rogers, who has remained at the centre of the US doom/stoner/desert rock scene as powerhouse drummer for The Obsessed and Goatsnake, joins fellow Goatsnake band mate Scott ‘The Low-End Lumberjack’ Renner. Described by all he meets as a 6’4, walking wall of sound, Renner also served time in numerous outfits as bassist for sludge/doom band Sourvein and North Carolina post punkers Brickbat.

Leading the charge up front for the Californian quartet is new singer/guitarist Dirty D – former front man of the notorious LA punk rock band B-Movie Rats, and later, the pyrotechnic Angus Khan – and fellow guitarist, Steven Darrow. Darrow, who earned his spurs as a young Californian punk with The Decadents, Christian Death and Super Heroines went on to become bass player in the mid-80s for the Motörhead-meets-Nazareth inspired hard rock band Hollywood Rose… later known as Guns 'N' Roses.

Sonic Medusa’s first live gig was opening for the legendary proto-metal godfathers (and one of their biggest influences), Blue Cheer. They have also shared stages with other, heavy rock pioneers such as Pentagram, Wino (St. Vitus) and young heavyweights like Radio Moscow, The Shrine, Mike Watt, The Freeks and Mothership.

With upcoming engineer/audio-guru David Schwerkolt at the board, The Sunset SoundHouse Tapes was recorded at the legendary Sunset Studios, Hollywood; the spiritual home and birthplace of definitive recordings like Exile On Main St by The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Led Zeppelin’s IV.

The Sunset SoundHouse Tapes is released today on Ripple Music and can be purchased digitally via Ripple's Bandcamp page -

Sonic Medusa on Facebook | Bandcamp 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Single Shot Of Black Coffee And Good Advice With Mother Mars

Mother Mars is one hot spaced out milf of a rock outfit. Coming off a previous single Claimed By the Cloner featured on a 7" split vinyl release via Desert Highways with The Grand Astoria earlier this year and in preparation for their next full length Mother Mars keep their clock wound with a brand new EP single. Black Coffee and Good Advice bucks out of the gate with a harmonica infused blues laced rocker paying homage to Thin Lizzy while preaching the gospel of Five Horse Johnson. Southern fried atmosphere permeates with a boot n scoot attitude tripped with THC instead of cream or sugar keeping their brew of fuzz rock hot and black like Momma likes it. Mother Mars don't give bad advice son. Strap up and ride the jam like a brahma bull on acid chasing a rodeo clown made of clouds.

On the Trail (Short Trip) is jacked with electro space addled riffs hungry on the trail of Uncle asteroid pulsing with rumbling bass, jammy guitar tone and psychedelics sure to have you seeing stars. About a minute and a half in a pummeling wheel of riffage spins an orbit of psychotic fury with sweeping force driven by heart clogging bass. The momentum builds each and every second of the 5:24 exhibition taking the checkered flag with confidence and style.

Closing down the single is an aptly titled version of the opening number titled, Black Coffee And No Advice. Instrumentally charged and equally as potent, the band brews a bold aroma of riffs and howling harmonica to invigorate the mind organically rather than the caffeinated vocal attack of the opening version.

Either way you sip this short burst of tantalizing stoner jams, you're bound to swallow with a smile. Mother Mars keep it weird as they've demonstrated all along; promising for another enticing full length which I hope comes sooner rather than later. Check her out, cougar of the planetary guild.

-The Huntsman

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

HeviSike Records announce signing of Italian psych rockers Elevators To The Grateful Sky | New album Cape Yawn released in March 2016

The Birmingham-based label HeviSike Records is thrilled to announce the signing of Elevators To The Grateful Sky, and with it the release of their brand new album Cape Yawn in March 2016.

In what will be the second full-length album for the Palermo, Italy-based band, Cape Yawn marks a dramatic shift in both gear and sound for the heavy psych rockers who first came to light with the release of their self-titled debut EP in 2011.

Formed by friends Sandro Di Girolamo (Ex-Undead Creep) and Giuseppe Ferrara – both of whom cut their teeth as the brutal (and now defunct) death metal set Omega – Elevators To The Grateful Sky pull together and package a diverse range of influences from each band member’s distinct experience. Joined by Bonham-worshipping drummer Giulio Scavuzzo and guitarist Giorgio Trombino the band is a pressure cooker filled to the brim with psychedelic metal, doom, classic and groove-laden rock.

Serving their early days in their native Palermo, it didn’t take long for their EP to find its way onto the desk of Swedish label Transubstans Records who jumped at the chance to release their debut album Cloud Eye in 2013. An out-and-out foray into the darkened days of early grunge and straight up heavy 70s rock and roll, fast forward to Cape Yawn and the band has developed even further. Complimenting and drawing on influences as diverse as Danzig, Fu Manchu and legendary alt rockers Morphine (the song ‘Laura’ on Cape Yawn is dedicated to the band’s lead singer Mark Sandman) to galvanize their songwriting talents, Elevators To The Grateful Sky produce something entirely of their own making. It’s an album that will keep audiences guessing and leave no rock lover wanting.

Cape Yawn by Elevators To The Grateful Sky will be released on 11th March 2016 on HeviSike Records. In the meantime, you can share and stream the brand new track ‘Ground’ here –

Elevators To The Grateful Sky:

Sandro Di Girolamo – Vocals
Giuseppe Ferrara – Guitars
Giorgio Trombino – Guitars
Giulio Scavuzzo – Drums Elevators To The Grateful Sky on Web | Facebook

Artist: Elevators To The Grateful Sky
Title: Cape Yawn
Label: HeviSike Records
Formats: Digital, Ltd Edition Vinyl
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