Tracklist: Lactomeda 01:49
Known by the Ancients 07:01
Dead Blood for the Royal Weather 07:14
Two Temple Place 09:36
Stellar Drone 10:59
Are we Drowning in Digits 06:13
Magical Train 05:07
Review: The band have their album described as an “Addictive cosmic journey, one entrancing hybrid embracing heavy psych riffs and sweet vocal harmonies.” The album does have those elements of that. When Hermano is singing it sounds like Jane’s Addiction but heavier and more distortion on the voice. The parts when Sara takes over it sounds like either Belly or Hole. When they sing together it sounds almost new, but still has those influences. So in shorter terms; they gave their album a good description.
Lactomeda – Is a Spanish term for the Milky Way Collision with Andromeda. The cover even seems to be depicting it. The song is a collision of Noise Rock and Space Rock. It is almost sludgy for a noise song but in pace but it is also fast for a space song. It is a good intro for what the rest of the album holds.
Known by the Ancients – Here is where the Jane’s Addiction comes in (Especially in the 3 minute area). This song is more of noise than of space origin. This is a heavy rock song, Hermano comes in at the last two minutes and makes the song seem even heavier.
Dead Blood for the Royal Weather – This is one of the more radio friendly songs, even though it is eight minutes. It plays it safe and doesn’t do anything too crazy. It stays on the cusp of being space and noise.
Two Temple Place – This is the first true Space Rock sounding sounds and as it moves along it introduces some of the harmonies the description on bandcamp mentions. It is a slow song with slow vocals with stretched out chords with reverb and drum fill. That is until the 3 minute mark; more drums and distortion to the guitar is added and everything gets slightly faster. At around the four minute mark the tempo changes again and is like Known by the Ancients.
Stellar Drone (Favorite track) – This track is more spacey than the previous track but it is also faster and more distorted and changes tempo a few more times.
Are we Drowning in Digits – This song is almost like a continuation of Two Temple Place. It sounds very similar but has more “Normal” Rock influences.
Magical Train – This is the most radio friendly track and could have been released as a single to promote the album. It is also the song that reminds my the most of Hole (the first album.) Sara really goes in on this track and gives a great performance. It is like the previous track but stays on the heavy rock side of music.
Review (Continued): Musically, Earth Drive are bringing back the 90’s Noise Rock and helping to bring back Space Rock (in the more expansive tracks). During the mostly instrumental parts it sounds almost like a soundtrack to a late 80’s sci-fi movie. In some ways it sounds like it is two separate ideas for an album that were pieced together but it is done well so it doesn’t sound too different. To paraphrase the TV Series “Stranger Things” – ‘The Upside Down'”.
This is a very easy first listen and is also very accessible because the stretches of odyssey are in between more pop/rock radio-ish oriented tracks. If you have any interest in Space Rock or a modern take on it with influences with 90’s Noise Rock, you should take a listen.
There are two choices either from the Raging Planet (For a physical and/or digital) Bandcamp HERE or the band’s HERE !!! (Where you can get the full digital discography)
Jan Babiński – vocals
Konrad Ciesielski – drums
Piotr Danielewicz – guitars
Michał Banasik – guitars
Marcin Bąkowski – bass guitar
Michał Koziorowski – keys
Ring ring… Ring ring…
(Man on receiver) – Hi! You’ve reached Octopussy. How can we help you?
(Caller) Hi this is the late 60’s and early 70’s! Who am I speaking with? We want our sound back.
(Octopussy) – Well you certainly called the right people. Where should we start?
(60’s/70’s) – How about some funky, bass driven rock?
(Octopussy) – Can do
(60’s/70’s) – Hendrix inspired guitar work?
(Octopussy) – Check
(60’s/70’s) – Disco vocals?!?
(Octopussy) – uhhhh… let’s keep that to one track…
(60’s/70’s) – I was only kidding on that one.
(Octopussy) – Well too late. You’re getting it. It fits with the funk track anyway. We’ll stick to a more bluesy, psychedelic groove for the rest of the album. Maybe a splash of southern rock but not too much. Sound okay for ya?
(60’s/70’s) – So how about the vocals on the remaining tracks?
(Octopussy) – We’re going with a mix of smooth melodic, and raspy blues… plus some heavily distorted screams and speech.
(60’s/70’s) – Uhh.. screams?
(Octopussy) – Don’t worry about it. We’ll make sure it works within the context of the album.
(60’s/70’s) – In that case, we demand a ballad.
(Octopussy) – Sure. But it’s going to be trippy as fuck and really short.
(60’s/70’s) – I feel you don’t much like compromise.
Released By Some Big Label on September 15th, 2017
Reviewed by Andy “Dinger” Beresky
So….I’ve been asked to review the new Foo Fighters record. Taste Nation owner Matthew Thomas prefaced our conversation around the possibility of this review happening by saying that he’d talked to another reviewer he’s friends with, and this particular guy had said that “it was actually pretty good.”
Okay – let’s just take a moment right here to talk about the significance of this statement. What does it actually mean that in order for folks in our business to take a band seriously, we need to be told that the record is “actually good” in advance? What does that say about Foo Fighters, and about the way we operate in the review business?
In full disclosure, I’ve never been a Foo Fighters fan. Okay, there was this one song, on one album that they released in the early 2000’s that I actually enjoyed (the song was “Come Back” from the album One By One, thanks Googles!!), though that’s really about it. I actually bought the album, because someone told me that it was “actually good”, then I sold it because I never really listened to it more than a handful of times or appreciated it beyond that one song. I can, however, appreciate Dave Grohl’s contributions to the canon of punk and rock n’ roll, obviously with Nirvana, though also with Scream. And I recognize his contributions to our little scene itself: when he took over drumming duties on the third Queens Of The Stone Age album, and with his Probot record, which brought some of the biggest movers and shakers in the underground metal scene into the limelight by virtue of Grohl’s musical reputation. And I believe that it’s Grohl’s reputation that has prompted the writing of this review – I may not be a Foo Fighters fan, though I recognize that in an industry filled with some real d-bags, he doesn’t seem like a total asshole. He seems earnest and passionate, hell, even humble….well, as humble as a guy in his position can be. Aside from that, I do want to recognize his contributions beyond Foo Fighters, and let’s face it – Foo Fighters are a mainstream alternative radio rock band with a huge following and fan base.
Also, the album ACTUALLY is good, by mainstream alternative radio rock standards. That’s what we’re really talking about in the underground when we say that a record of this stature is “good” – we’re saying that it has at least something that appeals to those whose tastes tend to either veer away from the mainstream, or who are perpetually in search of something beyond the mainstream. We’re saying that it’s not run of the mill radio swill, and I’d be tempted to dismiss much of Foo Fighter’s catalog as that kind of fluff. That’s not entirely the case this time around. In regards to reaching beyond the mainstream norms, Concrete And Gold delivers the goods, ironically by embracing the mainstream norms.
Bear in mind, I’m not 100% behind it. Grohl’s grandiose statement that its a combination of Sgt. Peppers and Motorhead is patently absurd. I’m not fully endorsing the Foo Fighters as the second coming, nor am I hailing this album as the one that’s going to “save rock and roll.” There’s some critics who love to drop those kinds of statements; always have been. I remember in the “alternative 90’s”, when Fig Dish released That’s What Love Songs Often Do. Great album, you should pick it up if you like 90’s guitar driven alt rock. It’s a beauty, eh. I like it well enough, I still own my original CD copy and it’s gotten a lot of repeat plays over the years. They managed to get a single on the radio that was pretty decent, though it didn’t make much of an over all impact. My point is, I read this one review of the album in Spin Magazine or some other big name rag, that praised it with outrageous hyperbole and bold prophesy, saying that in 10 years we’d be referencing Fig Dish as a household name, that we’d be comparing all other similar bands to them, and saying things like “oh another band that sounds just like Fig Dish.”
Obviously none of these things came to pass. Granted, we’re talking about the post-Nirvana 90’s, where everyone in the industry was both eager and unable to recognize the “next big thing” in the wake of Nevermind’s surprising impact and legacy. I’d like to think that we can all agree that the conditions in the music industry of the time were what made Nirvana’s meteoric rise from promising indie rockers to colossal megastars possible, and that those conditions are no more. Everything about the music industry has changed, and things will never go back to how they were. The other key ingredient in Nirvana’s success, that’s more nebulous and harder to define, was their ability to take all of the angst and alienation that our generation felt after the impact of the 1980’s, and channel that into an album that succinctly and directly addressed to how many of us were feeling. That’s what gave “Smells Like Teen Spirit” it’s anthemic quality and lasting resonance – at the time it DID smell exactly like teen spirit. Not the cheap, superficial spray that simply masked what lies underneath: the lyrics, jagged power chords, dynamics, even the simply chorused solo that echoed the song’s main melody cut right through all the glitzy and glossed wool that had been perpetually pulled over our eyes during the 80’s.
I bring this all up because simply making an album that’s “actually good” isn’t going to have the same impact; it’s not going to magically save rock and roll from the vapid auto-tuned pop ditties and overproduced pop country that dominate the airwaves. Lots of folks would love to see that, I get it. Part of me would love to see that as well. The stark reality is that it’s not 1992, and this isn’t Nevermind. It’s Concrete and Gold, and much like that long-lost Fig Dish album, we’re not going to be saying “oh another band that’s trying to sound like Foo Fighters on Concrete and Gold” in 10 years.
Part of what makes this album actually good is its over-the-top production. Instead of rebelling against the machine and recording a raw, stripped down rock album, as his prior outfit did with In Utero, Grohl opts for the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach. It makes sense, since Foo Fighters have basically pumped out pop-rock since their inception. This is as overproduced as anything that Taylor Swift has ever recorded. That’s actually not a bad thing, as it makes an otherwise milk toast band sound pretty peaches and cream. It’s got plenty of layers and nuance, little touches here and there that really make the album shimmer and shine. Grohl and company have definitely made excellent use of their studio time and a veritable “who’s who” list of special guests (look them up), and I can appreciate the album solely on that level.
What really makes the record work better than prior Foo releases is that it feels more album oriented to me. It showcases a chance to explore music within the context of a studio, rather than just to write a collection of hit songs. Sure, there are obvious singles; I guess the second track (after a brief but bombastic intro track), “Run”, is the first single off the album. It’s the obvious choice. It’s upbeat and catchy with a huge, hook laden chorus followed by a crunchy, remotely heavy two note riff and harsh screams that will make those whose musical tastes gravitate towards modern rock radio pronounce “Wow! Grohl’s got his edge back!! He’s angry.” Yeah, sure he does….it’s a pretty transparent ploy, and I’m sure it will be lauded and successful in its re-branding effort, thanks to sly marketing campaigns, plenty of PR, and the credulous naive, gullible, and downright disingenuous critics at more “respectable” music rags.
The rest of the album has its moments, its ups and downs. “Make It Right” has a funky/fun guitar riff that’s akin to what Queens Of The Stone Age are doing. “La Dee Da” also reminds me a bit of QOTSA, though Josh Homme and company are much quirkier in terms of songwriting and instrumentation. “The Line” sounds like a classic Foo Fighters track, simple, non-offensive guitar driven rock, treated to the production standards of modern pop. “Dirty Water” is similar, although it’s more subdued, like the kind of track a band would release as their third MTV video in the 90’s daze of Alternative Nation after their first two hard-hitting singles. These songs, though unremarkable, are at least coherent – I’m not sure what Grohl was thinking with “The Sky Is a Neighborhood”. The composition and arrangement make about as much sense as the song title, and his attempts to write “political” lyrics are frankly embarrassingly disconnected from the zeitgeist. His weak, equivocal words don’t capture any spirit of our current age, they simply smell like Axe body spray. “Sunday Rain” is a fucking mess; the intro has some bluesy licks before the verse uses a reggae styled downbeat/offbeat and keyboard swirls underneath the overproduced vocals, which seem an attempt at Grohl sounding “soulful.” Instead it’s pure cliche heaped upon cliche.
It’s actually the more somber, understated songs that I prefer. “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” sounds like a bar room ready drinking song, and although there’s much better music I’d prefer to have a beer to, it stands out as a stronger track, as does the title track, which finishes the album on a melancholy note, with drawn out passages of slow, longingly over-saturated guitars and moody vocals….
I don’t know folks. Sure, this album is “actually good” in that it’s not totally boring and takes some unexpected turns, which I think is largely a product of the modern pop production combined with some actual ambition on Grohl’s part to push himself outside of the typical verse/chorus/verse format that’s par for the Foo Fighter course. It’s also not going to have very much replay value for me, nor is it going to save rock and roll. Plus, Taylor Swift’s last album was much better.
Band Members: Adam Lundqvist– Guitars Mattias Ottosson – Bass/Vocals Joakim Olsson – Drums
As SERPENT – ‘Master Of Ceremony’ single (Oct 2015)
“Nekromant” (Dec 2015)
As NEKROMANT – ‘Stoned To Death, Doomed To Die single (May 2017)
‘Ashes & Rain’ single (June 2017)
Quote – “Fans of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, och and so on will not be disappointed!” Enquote. The first words I saw used to describe this three piece from the land of the often refereed ‘NWOSHM’ movement of the last several years, with bands rising to the forefront that are letting the rest know that they are just bloody sick of nu-metal and the glut of ‘pretentious hipsters’ that think they know what good old blues-based HEAVY is about with their auto-tuned machine based garbage and hyper-polished turds being passed off as the best-yet…
Back to basics, balls out and cranked to the top, these guys show that they are here to represent with some of the best progressions and time shifts held high on thick bass runs that hit you in the chest with each note. No splintering of genres here, but higher, CLEAR vocals that are easily understood, unlike so many that permeate anymore and the fit is tighter than a glove with the precision-playing that slices cleaner than the sharpest blade.
Coming together in 2011, Adam and Mattias spent the better part of the next two years consumed in a series of jamming/drinking sessions in the metropolis Mjölby, located in the eastern part of Sweden, playing hard rock, which did result in an EP and an LP. It was in 2013 that they joined forces with Jocke, a hard-hitting drummer with roots in both heavy metal and other types of music, that everything coalesced into what is now presented to us as NEKROMANT.
Thirty-five minutes totaling from 9 tracks that stand out on their own as individuals as well as are the perfect summation as a whole. From the immediately head-banging inducing opener ‘Stoned To Death, Doomed To Die’ with it’s quick-gallop paced tempo and screaming squeals of harmonic bending strings over that soaring vocal, the stage is set and even the seemingly effortless time shift halfway through, you are hooked for what will prove to be exactly what you have been waiting for to show; that true rock-and-fucking-roll still exists. This is proof positive that it is indeed alive, well and flourishing in all the riff-laden, relentlessly paced ecstasy you could ask for. And when ‘Funeral Worship’ hits, slow and rolling low, it is the precise gear-shift needed, fully owning a doom-laden structure with Mattias’ voice ringing clear and true, never wavering in delivery all the way to the sudden-stop ending.
‘Black Velvet’ comes out in full 80’s metal glory, wringing of a sound that made me think of a mixture of Italian masters BULLDOZER meets WITCHFINDER GENERAL in a salute to the essence of that heavy duty blues-rooted guitar onslaught so thick in tone that you almost forget there are only three guys in the room here, where ‘Ashes & Rain’ is from the start all loopy and heavily, dare I say it, ‘progressive’ in structure and pace in the arrangement that transcends any labeling with the various soft-touches scattered throughout this song. Again, further showing a versatility you may not have expected after the last full length, yet sounds honest and natural here, and in my opinion is what makes for legendary music. It can really be heard if you mean it when you play it. When it is from the core of your being as these songs each show these three are doing, then they become timeless and relevant as would seem to follow their original statement in intent.
From the soft fade-in wash cymbal of ‘Inside Yourself’ with another crop of time-shifts from hell, perfectly stirred into this brew, to the instrumental indulgence of ‘Mardröm’ through to the even-slower measures of ‘Never Saved’, there is no room for dissapointment here as you have been consumed along the path you have been walking with this album to get to the title track ‘Snakes & Liars’ that gives its ALL with its staccato opening that is close to being the fastest beat on this album and you are pulled right along this almost two minute run through the “Fortune and Fire” described.
Closer ‘Spelmannen’, which translates to English as ‘Player’ is sung in Dutch, has an almost traditional-folk song feel to it before the power chords hit, and even then, still maintains an anthemic feel that made even my black-heart feel a little less dark in the soaring solo sections and chorus alike. Excellent choice to wrap this package together and there is not one song on here I would not want them to play in a live setting!!
Keep this one as an option on your best-of lists for 2017, make SURE it is part of your library, AND your best buddy’s too and catch them live if the chance comes to you… keep it LOUD!!
Band Line-up: Andy Lefton-Guitar (War // Plague)
Jon Misery-Guitar (Misery)
Tom Radio-Bass (Frustration)
James Adams- keyboards
Michel (Away) Langevin-Drums (Voivod)
Rob (The Baron) Miller-Bass and vocals (Amebix)
Isle of Skye
Having grown up with MTV from it’s inception, I find that if a band really wants me to buy their album, the spectacle of a good music video is sure to catch my attention. About 2 weeks ago while watching music videos on YouTube, I stumbled across the Video “Lazarus” from their 2015 self titled debut album “Tau Cross”. Impressed by the music and the Cinematography I quickly followed the links to their Relapse Record’s Bandcamp. It was there I discovered they had a new album called “Pillars of Fire” due out in a few days. In the mean time I purchased their first album and made a note in my head to return and buy “Pillars of Fire” especially after being blown away by the debut release.
I could probably write volumes about the members of Tau Cross but will refrain as it would turn into a novel. Vocalist & Bassist “Rob (The Baron) Miller (Amebix)”, drummer “Michel-Away- Langevin (Voivod)”, “Jon Misery (Misery)”, “Andy Lefton (War//Plague)” on guitars, and “Tom Radio (Frustration) ” also on bass bring a great deal of talent and creative energy from the punk and various metal sub genres they offer up. Which is why I suspect they refuse to box themselves into a specific genre. But fear not as the unspecified genres are for my punk and metalhead friends. Tau Cross brings a musical Smörgåsbord.
“Pillar Of Fire” is an album that shows Tau Cross has a second act. While listening I found myself engrossed by the songs. While Tau Cross do not sound like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden or Dio, the lyrics, vocals and instrumentation created the same musical spectacle that drew me to them as a teen. Some may try to compare Vocalist // Bassist Rob (The Baron) Miller for his raspy voice to Lemmy Kilminster of Motörhead. While he can sing with a harsh rasp, I discovered Rob has a vocal range that at times had me asking who’s the other guy singing. These are a few of my favorites from “Pillar of Fire” – ‘Raising Golem’ a song the Golem from Jewish folklore, ‘Bread And Circuses’ which speaks of the savagery Rome descended into. Then comes the tale of the horror of being lost at sea done like a good old fashioned sea shanty ‘On The Water.’ I could go on but I am including a link to the album on Bandcamp so you can listen and buy for yourself and “The Short Stories” the band masterfully forged through the lyrics the band kindly offers up (also on their BC Page). The end result is nothing short of Amazing. This should be in your music library yesterday!! Must Buy!!
This “Self Titled” EP is the first outing for this three piece outfit and is made up of 4 tracks clocking in at 26+ minutes and from front to back. VULPTURE has put together some of the most raucous guitar progressions, thunderous bass lines and hammering drums keeping absolute syncopation in place combined with a vocal split between drummer and guitarist that works pretty well; already demonstrating a flexibility that a lot of their counter-parts do not possess yet. When asked to describe themselves, the collective answer was, Quote “After attempting to play with different musicians, Diego Maud and Vicente met up for practice for the very first time at the end of 2014. After slowly narrowing it down to 5, and then 4, until finally this power-trio locked in and so was the birth of Vulpture, a rock and roll mixture of doom spirit, walking in the desert of stoner, looking towards the heavy psych skies.” Enquote. Referencing those that did not quite make the cut, it has been said that, “On the other side of that universe, the ex members just decided to set up a cheap clothes shop.”
A ‘fitting’ fate seems the obvious response…
Opener ‘Wasteland’ opens with all the ghostly doomish power chords you could want before 30 seconds in, a light hammering tap on a ride and open notes rattling ribs enter before at the minute mark, all three jump in and we’re off for this ride across the aforementioned psych-skies in a 70’s style jam that sets the stage for this record that churns along until the first word hits at 2:49 in with an attention-grabbing snap-vocal, gruff as can be and by the time the last section opens with a screaming solo, it is clear they are firing on ALL cylinders.
‘The Oath’ comes on at a slower pace but twice as thick and even heavier in tone and the swarming bees of staccato guitar notes is mesmerizing leading to the vocal break and the time shifts and fills being held high by the precision bass playing that gives support in spades. This allows the other two members to take this, and really EACH song here, to the highest plateaus of clarity in expression and delivery of their individual parts and the collective result is full-on rock-n-roll purity.
‘Fuzz Cloud’ is even more of the same with an added sneer in the speed and fury that keeps you moving along in pace, even after the two-minute mark when the tempo slows, bass steps to the front over drum fills that are the perfect punctuation before the power chords are back punching the air full of holes, leading the the last section that gets as dark as night and ugly in the best sense of with the meanderings of each member and it is stoner-bliss all the way to the end as they crank it back up to full speed.
Closer ‘Rocky Road’ has this lower tempo opening filled with harmonic bends and swithing to that churning heaviness and back with the underlying rhythm section giving all the room needed to keep your head moving in perfect time before the vocal explodes across the front. Maniacal laughter and all, further proving the versatility of each member. They fit together as so many puzzle pieces and if this is any indication of what we can expect from Vulpture, I can hardly wait for more!! The production is that ‘live in the studio’ feel and is perfect for this serving as it were.
Get it NOW, share it with ALL in your personal realm and go support them live if you are given the chance… keep it LOUD!!
TAU CROSS, the multinational punk/heavy metal collective featuring Amebix bassist/frontman Rob “The Baron” Miller, Voivod drummer Michel “Away” Langevin, and members of cult crust outfits Misery and War // Plague, has announced their second full-length album, Pillar Of Fire, due out July 21st on CD, Double LP, and digital formats via Relapse Records.
Comments TAU CROSS on the new album: “Pillar Of Fire is the continuation of some of the ideas that were explored on our first album. This time we have managed to share the songwriting more equally and introduce some other textures to the songs. This should help to establish TAU CROSS as less of a one-off phenomenon and more of an ongoing musical collective producing our own distinctive sonic environment.”
Pillar Of Fire was recorded across three different countries and co-produced by “The Baron” in the same manner as their eponymous debut. The drums were tracked in Montreal, guitars in Minneapolis, bass in Seattle and Minneapolis, and vocals on the Isle Of Skye in Scotland.
Physical preorders and exclusive bundles are currently available via Relapse.com at THIS LOCATION. Digital preorders are available via Bandcamp HERE.
Pillar Of Fire further expands the group’s unique musical approach ranging from dark folk witchery to industrial punk metal brutalism; a moody melting pot of Killing Joke’s metallic post-punk and Motörhead’s anthemic, hard rock with flourishes of traditional instrumentation and an infusion of 16th century English mysticism. Pillar Of Fire is a musical unearthing of TAU CROSS‘ philosophical preoccupations: mythological motifs, ultra-terrestrial hypotheses, surreal, social political landscapes, and the endless search for meaning in a controlled universe.
TAU CROSS: Rob “The Baron” Miller – bass/vocals
Andy Lefton – guitar
Jon Misery – guitar
Michel “Away” Langevin – drums
Tom Radlo – bass
James Adams – keyboards
Band Members – Jesús– Guitar/Vocals : James – Guitar : Eduardo– Bass : Fernando – Drums
Self-described as three Spaniards and an American that came together sharing a love for stoner-rock and the blues, it is no surprise that this was recorded in Madrid, was subsequently released within the same month reported as recorded in and these six tracks are the first release from SPIRITUAL DOPE, using these 34 minutes as an introduction to this particular flavor to come to us from their minds to our ears. Smoke ’em if you got ’em…
Title track and opener ‘Dopeland Blues’ hits slow and heavy as one might have expected and the dual guitars take one side of the mix each and then weave back and forth as you exhale as deeply as this has made you breathe in, and there’s the rush… You inherently breathe in again, even deeper, holding it for all you are worth as the squeals jumping back and forth, through the bass that has your sternum pulsing and the cadence that your pulse has synced with. You exhale and grin wide in the ‘knowing’ and the stage has been set as this track flows as a tide slowly coming in and you can’t help but to keep looking through the dense fog in front of you as the cymbals wash across.
Whether you are a fan of instrumental tracks or not, this is indeed an incredible ‘first-taste’ across your lips. ‘Calcutta’ wastes no time jumping into a faster pace with an almost Texas-nasal quality to it that fits the chunky power chord assault that is the body of this rocker. Each member is spot-on and rolling hard, every break exact, each note screaming and you gotta have more to the point that just turning it up is not enough. ‘Karma’ is slower than the first two and Jesús’ voice is right there asking for you to ‘Let me count the ways’, and before you know it, that perma-grin is back on your face again, if it has left yet that is… pure stoner-bliss!! Whether you are baked, or not it is mesmerizing, and simply put, is just not long enough for me, even after the mad guitar break during the final section to the fade out.
‘Broken’ hits with a single, right side progression, before the left and rest are right back in front directed by that voice of rings in commanding presence to take you down this lane that suddenly kicks heavy as hell, not dropping a beat and chunky all over that again before shifting back with that virtuosity that requires that connection these guys have in FULL force as shown by this debut, SO rich in musicality and that ‘mojo’ that lacks too often, particularly from first-outings.
‘High’ really needs little mention, is the most cohesive pure-romp on this in MY opinion, and is the stand out for me and is one of those FULL-VOLUME compositions that could go on for another 10 minutes and would still leave you wanting more. Closer ‘In The Sky’ is almost sing-song for the two minute plus and the soft guitar tones suit the tone and when the solo section rings in, you are looking up with your mind’s eye as the strings command.
Pretty incredible album, hope they keep it coming as they have set the bar pretty high right out of the gate and get this one like, yesterday. Crank it up for all around you and support them live if you are given the privilege… keep it LOUD!!
For fans of heavy rock and doom, there are two words in the lexicon of all their language that has a shared, universal significance. No matter what country you are from, what your native tongue may be, those two words have such massive historical density to them that they instantly evoke reverence upong hearing them: CIRITH UNGOL. Anyone that has been around as long as I have (for the record, I am 47 years old) and has been entrenched within the underground music scene understands the legacy of this longrunning band. Taking on the name of Cirith Ungol in 1972, the four musicians that comprised the band a decade plus later, vocalist Tim Baker, guitarist Jerry Fogle (R.I.P.), drummer Robert Garven and bassist Michael Vujea, made music history in 1984. That was the year that the quartet released their game-changing sophomore album, King Of The Dead, on Enigma Records and simply put, music would never be the same again.
This landmark album went on to inspire and influence untold numbers of musicians, bands and more over the next three-plus decades. It would eventually ascend from the underground and become an iconic, audible bastion in the annals of music history. Cirith Ungol the band would share in this glorious acquisition of reverence and respect as well. They too obtained a state of high honor among those that were enlightened to what greatness this band wielded and so it came as no surprise when Metal Blade Records revealed their plans to pay homage to the band and their King Of The Dead album. Releasing the bonus-laden ‘King Of The Dead – Ultimate Edition‘ mere weeks ago to coincide with the band’s playing their first ever European show at this year’s Keep It True Festival, Metal Blade sparked something in us all. I’d already had an interview with Cirith Ungol in the works but I recognized the opportunity to capitalize on circumstances and thus we at Taste Nation LLC began brainstorming. What we came up with is, what you are in the middle of enjoying right now, the fruits of our labors to properly pay the mighty Cirith Ungol their due.
You’ve seen Matthew Thomas‘ unboxing video and pictorial, you have read Ric ‘Suisyko‘ Dorr‘s review (both here) of Metal Blade Records ‘King Of The Dead – Ultimate Edition‘ and now we present you the coup de grace of today’s event. Without further ado nor hype, no more anxiety from anticipation and want, I and my fellow TNLLC teammates present to you the following: The Taste Nation LLC Interview With CIRITH UNGOL (vocalist Tim Baker, guitarist Greg Lindstrom, guitarist Jim Barraza & drummer Robert Garven)!!!
Pat Riot:The origins of Cirith Ungol date back to at least 1972..what was the inspiration for starting the band? How did it first form at that time and is it true you all began playing as solely instrumental? Fans always debate the correct pronunciation of the band’s name..care to give us the official one?
Tim: As the real historians of the band I will let Rob and Greg answer the first couple of questions. They remember a lot of that stuff better than I can!
Greg: Rob and I met in 7th grade and instantly became friends. He and Jerry Fogle and Pat Galligan (who later joined punk band The Angry Samoans) decided to start a band to play Beatles songs, and I think the only reason they got me involved was that I had an amp. We called ourselves Titanic. Three guitars plugged into one 15 watt amp and Rob with just a snare drum and hi-hat trying to play Beatles and CCR songs. Anyway, Rob and Jerry and I wanted to play heavier stuff like Cream and Mountain, so we quit Titanic, and the three of us formed Cirith Ungol in 1972. Almost immediately we started doing some originals (“Radiation Blues”, “Flesh Dart”) along with our versions of songs by Sabbath, Budgie, Ursa Major, etc. Around 1975, Neil Beattie (aka Terry Dactyl) became our lead singer. He was a little more glam inspired than the rest of us, but he put on a really wild live show, with black widow spider fingertip extensions to go along with our six-foot wide black widow spider for “Shelob’s Lair”. Even though he was a great performer, his voice didn’t quite fit our style, and we parted ways after about a year. We spent the next couple of years writing a lot of songs and playing all the LA clubs as an instrumental power trio, playing along side bands like Quiet Riot, Y & T, and Van Halen, going over amazingly well. We tried out a number of singers, but nobody clicked until 1979, when Tim Baker, our head roadie at the time, tried singing lead on “Hype Performance”. That version is the first song on “Servants Of Chaos”.
Jimmy: In 1972 I was 6 years old living on a farm in Lincoln, Illinois. I thank these guys for starting the band while I was so young, ha-ha. To be part of this reunion at 50 years old is amazing. It is rare, but I have only met a handful of people that I’ve heard pronounce the name correctly and have read the Lord Of The Rings books many times over. I still have not read the books. Maybe one day.
Rob: I was inspired by Greg, because he would always turn me on to new music. I remember him showing me a copy of Mountain’s Climbing, and saying something like, “You have got to hear this!” We incessantly combed the LA area record stores mainly searching for new imported music. There we discovered Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, Lucifer’s Friend, Night Sun and many other heavy bands years before they were even on the radar in the US! There were very few that heard as much early hard rock and metal as us back then. I remember picking up Deep Purple “In Rock” at the local Sears the day they put it on the shelf!
Pat Riot:What took the band almost a decade to get the debut album, ‘Frost And Fire’, recorded and released in 1980?
Greg: Remember, we were only 14 years old when we started, so it took a few years and a lot of jamming to get proficient on our instruments – in my case I’m still working on it! But we wrote songs almost from the beginning, and in 1978 we actually self-released a home-recorded cassette album with a completely different set of songs than F&F. None of the songs on F&F were more than a year old when we recorded it. Some of the songs on KOTD like “Atom Smasher”, “Death Of The Sun”, and “Cirith Ungol” actually pre-date the F&F songs.
Jimmy: In 1980 I was 14 years old. I had taken guitar lessons at a local music store for about a year then. I didn’t hear Frost And Fire until 1987.
Rob: Like Greg mentioned we started pretty young. After the cassette demo we did, commonly known as the “Orange Demo” due to its orange cover, we were ready for something bigger. Since we never received a response from the numerous demo tapes and letters we sent out, we wanted to create a complete album of epic proportions, to show the record companies that we knew what we were doing.
Pat Riot:Speaking of ‘Frost And Fire’, how do you process the fact it is such a hugely monumental, revered album now in 2017? So much there’s even a festival bearing its name, which you all played in 2016. How was that experience?
Tim: For something that was never really suppose to be released as an album, it turns out to have been a great starting point! As far as playing at Frost And Fire II it was a remarkable experience! To actually get on the same stage where we had played our final concert, those long years ago was incredible. Of course the best part was seeing and getting to meet so many people from around the world that came to the Festival – a truly awesome and inspiring thing.
Greg: I think because of Tim’s voice, our quirky playing style, and our inexperience in a real studio, F&F doesn’t really sound like anything else, not even any other CU album. I can hear a bit of Rush and Y&T in there, but for better or worse, it’s pretty unique.
Jimmy: I have to mention that the song “Frost And Fire” is one of my favorites to play live. The experience playing live for the first time in 25 years was so amazing. Although there was a little bit of stressful moments just prior to going on stage due to technical issues (faulty tuner) that could have been unnerving had it not been detected. But, it was promptly remedied. We were 100% ready and played with really minimal issues. It was a success and we also learned a few things in the process.
Rob: We had a great time recording it, and I knew the material was good, and pleased with the result. I love Tim’s voice on that album, it reminds me of a razor blade, thrashing its way through the songs. We had a private tour of the DW drum factory before they built me the greatest sounding custom oak drum set in the world, and I asked the gentleman giving the tour if he had ever heard of our band. I was shocked when he said, “Of course, who didn’t have “Frost & Fire” growing up! As for the Frost & Fire Festival II, it was an awesome experience, playing in our hometown in front of a packed audience from around the world! The next day during the meet and greet there were people who came from as far away as China & Russia just to see the band!
Pat Riot: I understand Cirith Ungol are playing more festivals this year such as Days Of Darkness and Psycho Las Vegas..What is your take-away from seeing the band hold such a spot of reverence with music fans now? Would or will the band undertake any full-on touring plans in the future?
Tim: It’s all about the music – I think the stuff we did holds up well, and with the resurgence of what is now called “classic metal” the timing couldn’t be better! And no – we are not really planning a full on tour, just a bunch of the metal festivals – at least the ones that will have us, hahaha!
Greg: We didn’t have the opportunity to play outside of southern California back in the day, so a lot of folks have been waiting 30+ years to see us live.
Jimmy:I’m very excited for the band and to be part of this journey. The fans are the best, and I am blown away at the ranking position at these festivals. We just gotta stay healthy and motivated.
Rob: We did play a special show in Mexico City after “Frost & Fire” was released and did a radio interview with a pirate radio station that was literally on top of the presidential palace! We are all very excited to be playing so many heavy festivals* this year, some which are still unannounced. You forgot to mention, “Keep it True Festival“, “Up the Hammers“, “Defenders Of The Old“, “Chaos Descends“, & “Hammer Of Doom“, where we are headlining! It is going to be epic an “A Churning Maelstrom Of Metal Chaos Descending!”
*See the Flyers and Promotional Posters for them at the end of this Interview
Pat Riot:Back in the 80s when Cirith Ungol was playing the L.A. circuit, a scene dominated by many lighter fare ‘glam’ type bands, how was CU received at that time?
Tim: We had a fan base back in the day, but really the LA scene for the most part had no idea what to make of us – especially that “singer” lol. We played all the clubs down there and met a lot of great people and bands that are still going strong today!! It was a strange time!
Greg: CU didn’t really fit in with the hair metal scene. As you can imagine, there were people who dug it, and people who didn’t. After I left the band, I saw CU play at the Beverly Theatre with Ratt and Lita Ford. CU commanded the stage, and there were a couple of hundred fans (maybe 25% of the crowd) totally into it, but the other people had come to see Ratt or Lita and weren’t into it.
Jimmy: I had only played a handful of local shows from ’87 – ’89 (LA, Ventura, Santa Barbara). It did seem that the crowds were a bit thin and only the die hards came out and stood in the front to pound their fists and head bang. I remember a mosh pit of punk rockers formed at one home town gig. That was entertaining.
Rob: We did have a loyal fan base in Ventura. Most of our big shows seemed to be on a night when it was raining. We got several hundred people to drive to LA to see us play. We did get some really great reviews from the big LA newspapers such as the Herald Examiner. One writer Marc Shapiro wrote a bunch of great articles on the band after seeing us play with Ratt! He famously wrote about the band, “If hell has a soundtrack then this is it!”
Fan-filmed ‘King Of The Dead‘ preformance from “back in the day”…
Pat Riot: Cirith Ungol released only four official albums in the span of a decade (’81-’91) but the band holds such an iconic place in fans hearts.. why do you believe that is? I have read many things over the years that seemed to indicate a reunion would be unlikely, ever, so what drove the band’s return?
Tim: It’s all about the music I think. Those records hold up pretty well and I think they are good metal albums, and I guess there are a few people out there that feel the same way, hahaha! And yes, for a very long time a reunion was something that was never going to happen, for a lot of well documented reasons. I won’t go into that since that story is pretty well known. The main reasons it did happen is largely due to the efforts of Jarvis, his tales of seeing Ungol stuff all over the world while on tour with Night Demon. The creation of the Frost And Fire Festival, which was the first time in decades the surviving members of the band had all been together, even if it was just for a meet and greet. His support and perseverance to put us back together was something to behold hahaha!! I must also thank Oliver [Weinsheimer] from the great Keep It True Festival. He had been asking us for years just to come over and enjoy his festival, and for years we politely said no. But Rob and I finally went over last year, and to see all the people with Ungol patches, albums to sign, and even people with Cirith Ungol tattoos!! It was a mind-blowing experience and it certainly helped me change my mind about playing again. To see things on the internet and know that there is still a bit of interest in the band is one thing, but to see it in person was amazing!!
Greg: I think Rob needed something to do in his sunset years! And I figured we had better get together and play before: 1) people stop asking, and 2) we get too old to rock and roll!
Jimmy: For years I had hoped for a reunion. Once the opportunity came up, I jumped on it. I am so elated to be playing once again. It’s all good.
Rob: I think our listeners are not unlike our band members and are yearning for something more from their music, something that challenges, and engages them. Even though we wanted to be successful, we did not write the songs to appeal to anyone but ourselves, and I think people get that. I also think they have all succumbed to the “Legions of Chaos! I swore I would never play drums as long as I lived. At the “Frost & Fire I” festival Oliver Weinsheimer came from the “Keep It True Festival” and Jarvis got all the guys together for a meet and greet. They pretty much made us an offer we could not refuse. It was these two guys that will go down in history as the ones that unleashed the Fury of Ungol upon the world!
Pat Riot: How does having Night Demon’s Jarvis Leatherby in the band help things? It looks like his presence would kind of ‘bridge the gap’ between older fans and the current scene’s younger ones or am I off-base with such an idea?
Tim: I hadn’t looked at that way before but I suppose you might be on to something there! His main help was of course getting us back together, with management stuff, and besides being the hardest working man in Metal he is a great musician and a good friend, Night Demon and Cirith Ungol are like a family. Jarvis, Dustin [Squires], and Armand [Anthony] are really great guys and we are proud to know them!
Greg: That’s a good point. I’m sure that Jarvis will bring along some Night Demon fans for the ride!
Jimmy: Filling the slot of bassist was first offered to Flint, but he had other commitments and declined. It was only fitting that Jarvis being a fan of the band, a seasoned musician and has the drive to make Cirith Ungol great again and to take the roll of manager and bassist. It is my pleasure to play alongside Jarvis. His Energy and commitment has proven invaluable and vital to our success.
Rob: When you look up Jarvis Leatherby in the dictionary, it says “All Metal, All The Time”! Actually after traveling to Germany the average age of our new fan base is under 30. I think these new listeners are discovering unique bands such as “Cirith Ungol” for the first time. BTW Jarvis’ band Night Demon I think is going to be a very big act. Their show is outstanding and their new album is killer! I am not just saying this because we are friends; I am saying it because they rock! (Indeed they do! I’ve seen them, have all their released material and I fully agree, Rob. – Pat)
Pat Riot: You all surely get this all the time but will/would/is Cirith Ungol entertaining the idea of recording new music or a new album?
Tim: Yes. We would hope to do a new record sometime in the future and are actively writing new stuff as we speak-along with getting ready to hit the festival scene!
Greg: We are working on new songs and unearthing a few unheard old tunes with that in mind.
Jimmy: Yes, Absolutely.
Rob: Tim has written some great lyrics and we have a few songs in progress. My goal is for the next album to be like “King Of The Dead”, something we will be proud of! Just for the record Metal Blade Records is re-releasing a deluxe edition “King Of The Dead” in vinyl and CD with full color booklets, colored vinyl, and a DVD of a rare show we played at the Roxy, in Hollywood that no one has ever seen before! It also has several live tracks from our appearance at “Frost & Fire II”. They did such a great job on “Paradise Lost”, and we are all looking forward to this re-release. Everyone that is a fan of the band should get this one, as it is our best album to date and they are finally doing it justice!
Pat Riot:David Paul Seymour is one of my absolute favorite artists..are you all excited about ‘The Planet Of DOOM’ cinematic project and the inclusion of Cirith Ungol music in it? Speaking of artists, any specific reason that the works of Michael Whelan have exclusively been used on CU album’s artwork?
Tim: His paintings are the absolute best album covers ever done by anyone-period. We are so honored to have him on our side, he is such a great artist and also such a very nice guy!! Just recently went to a gallery opening of his here in California. It was so special to reconnect with him after many years. And he had the original painting of Stormbringer at the show, the Frost And Fire album cover…to actually see it up close and in person was something I will never forget, just awe inspiring. And the Planet Of Doom project looks like it will be so badass, I cannot wait to see the final results!!
Greg: Back in the day, we had originally envisioned using a painting called “Death Dealer” by Frank Frazetta, who is famous for many Conan illustrations. One day I walked into a record store and there it was on the cover of a Molly Hatchet album! Anyway, Rob and I were both reading Michael Moorcock’s, Elric series at the time, and the U.S. editions all had Michael Whalen’s paintings on the covers. Rob got in contact with Michael, who is one of the nicest guys we’ve ever met, and he agreed to let us use “Stormbringer”. He liked the music and felt that it was an appropriate match for his artwork, and we were totally thrilled and honored to be able to use his artwork on our albums. For sure it has helped us to sell more albums. I even know some people who don’t care much for our music, but buy the albums just for the cover art!
Rob: We are hoping that any new project will feature another of Michael Whelan’s Elric illustrations! I feel very privileged that we were allowed to use 4 of his masterpieces on our albums; they would not have been the same without him! “Planet Of Doom” is going to be an awesome project and we are very excited about this also!!!
Pat Riot:How did Cirith Ungol’s involvement with Metal Blade come about and is it safe to say the band is pleased with the re-issues they’ve provided? Are there any plans to give the ‘Paradise Lost’ record the same treatment?
Tim:The reissues have been great. And of course by the time you read this the Paradise Lost one will already be out!! The KOTD ultimate edition is set for release to coincide with our first ever European appearance at the Keep It True festival in April and it is going to be killer!!
Greg: MB has done a great job with the reissues so far, and the new KOTD reissue is going to be fantastic.
Jimmy: I’m very pleased with the reissue of Paradise Lost in October 2016. It’s also cool to hear some alternate track mixes on the CD. Bart Gabriel did a great job re-mastering, and Metal Blade also gave their all in regards to the vinyl and packaging.
Rob: Brian and everyone at Metal Blade Records have been instrumental in the band’s career over the years. We met Brian when we were first thinking about “Frost & Fire”. He worked at a record store in the LA area and was and still is a good friend. He was launching his record company at the same time, and he hooked us up with the company that would distribute our first 2 albums, Greenworld Distribution. Metal Blade Records in Germany have spearheaded some amazing projects, such as “Servants Of Chaos”, and the deluxe editions recently, and we are proud to be their friends. We were pretty surprised when Brian was asked to name his favorite releases over the history of his label, and he picked “Metal Massacre 1”, which one of our songs, “Death Of The Sun” was on, and “King Of The Dead” as 2 of his top 11 releases of all time!! WOW!
Pat Riot: After nearly 50 years in the musical realm, what is one of your most cherished memories from it i.e. an experience or event, meeting someone, etc. whatever it may be?
Tim: Well for me it is probably making the records we made, and for sure the recent reunion, something that for decades was never going to happen. To be able to finally go out and play around the world is like a dream come true for us.
Greg: Feeling like a proud father, holding a brand new shrink wrapped copy of Frost & Fire fresh from the pressing plant back in 1981. Your first album is always special!
Jimmy: I’ve had the privilege of spending the day with Grace Slick shooting an MTV Video, visited back stage with Carlos Santana (he bogart’s, ha-ha), and even randomly ran into Ozzy Ozbourne here in town (he was 1/2 brain dead, ha-ha). Or I should say that he ran into me. Literally. It was at a Mexican restaurant, he was eating then heading straight to rehab. And of course it has been awesome to play in a band that is finally getting some well-deserved recognition.
Rob: The proudest moment for me was taking the stage as the headlining act at “Frost & Fire II”! Playing on my beautiful Ferrari red DW oak drum set, surrounded by the most amazing set of Paiste cymbals and gong, and beating the drums. Having all that firepower at my command I felt like a metal god for one small moment in time!
Pat Riot:OK, you guys, I have a tradition of closing interviews with an open floor where you have the last word..care to say, share, state whatever you wish about anything..this is all you so have at it:
Tim: I would like to say a huge thank you to all the people that encouraged and supported Ungol all these years – without you the band would be in the dustbin of history, and we certainly would have never gotten back together!! I look forward to telling you all “thank you” in person.
Greg: Huge thanks to everyone who has supported CU over the years. We really appreciate it!
Jimmy: To all the Fans. Your enthusiasm is much appreciated. Thanks for keeping the torch lit and making us feel like Metal Gods. Cheers!
Rob: I would ask anyone that can make it, to come to one of our rare shows. If you like the band, or our music, I promise you will not be disappointed!!! Everything in my life has culminated in this reunion and I want to share it with everyone!
This is Cirith Ungol..what am I going to say after this that’s going to add anything to what has just unfolded here? Nothing. So with that, I want to thank our guests, the magnificent Cirith Ungol circa 2017: Tim Baker, Greg Lindstrom, Jimmy Barraza, Robert Garven and Jarvis Leatherby who was here in spirit. Metal Is Forever!!!
Current Lineup – Angry Phill -v / Isaiah Stuart -g / Kyle Cunningham -d / DieTrich Thrall -b
Previous Releases – “Madlife” EP (2005) / “Music As Harsh As The World We Live In” EP (2005) / “Angry Sonnets For The Soul” (2007) re-released via Universal /Fontana / RBE (2009) / “21st Century Megalomaniac” (2013)
Quote– “Developed in early 2000, the industrial hard rock band from Los Angeles was contrived between guitarist Isaiah Stuart and Lead Singer Angry Phill. They found common ground in their like and respect for multiple styles of music, largely in hard rock, industrial, electronic and classic pop. During this time, “The expression of emotion,” says Phill, “And the range of musical depth allowed MADLIFE the luxury to explore the human condition.” Enquote.
This is a band that has been touring endlessly, playing festivals all the way from the world-famous Milwaukee Metalfest, the Mayhem Festival and Rock Hard At The Park, to name a few, they have shared the stage with the likes of KORN / SLAYER / PRONG / ALL THAT REMAINS / TRIVIUM and so many more, it is no wonder they have endorsements in place and are ready to unleash a new one on the world and the timing couldn’t be better.
***The band has current endorsements from Ernie Ball, In Tune Guitar Picks, Schecter Guitars, Fryette Amps, Line 6, and Meinl Cymbals.***
Listing their influences as bands ranging from ROB ZOMBIE to COMBICHRIST to MUSHROOMHEAD to LINKIN PARK, MADLIFE has combined these elements and more into this fifth official release and comes out swinging HARD from the first second to the very end. This album can very well take this Los Angeles based band to the next level.
Songs with all of the edge and attitude we have come to expect from Phill are in extreme abundance as with ‘Just One Gun’ where we get asked right off “Would you like to sing that angry song with me?” to the pummeling, staggered-beat intro of ‘Nothing Changes’ to straight ahead machine bounce of ‘Pain Of Pleasure’, each taking you in a different direction showing all of the listed influences seasoned with just enough rage-to-taste making it MADLIFE’s blend on your fork even with ‘Love Song’ hammering your ears with that special sauce that we have come to know.
12 songs clocking in at 43 minutes and for me, two standout from the rest, and for completely different reasons. ‘Rockstar’ hits hard with a DOPE meets UNION UNDERGROUND sorta punch and describes all the trappings that drive so many to be in this business and has that MADLIFE sonic-kick intact and full force. Then, there’s ‘All The Angels’ that screams from the first and has that hook that doesn’t let go.
Stellar production values, songs that deliver and leave you wanting more. Sounds like one to get NOW and play until your ears are ringing. Support them live if they come near you and keep it LOUD!!
Thank you to AGAINST PR AGENCY and Bleeding Nose Records for the Promo