Northumbria – Markland

My wife and I were staying on the eighteenth floor of a downtown Toronto hotel while on vacation, and one night I could hear dark, heavy drone rock coming from…somewhere. It seemed to be coming out of the sky like the hum of UFO engines and up from the darkest parts of the city’s sewer system at the same time.

“Do you hear that?” I asked my wife. “I think someone’s playing some drone rock over at the plaza.”

“Is that what that is?” She asked.

It was Northumbria. To be specific, it was Dorian Williamson and Jim Feld playing a guitar and bass loud enough for us to hear it one block away and eighteen stories above the street. Furthermore, it wasn’t just noise. It was ambient, haunting waves of sound that immediately changed the feel of everything around you. Their new album, Markland, is an impressive journey through shadows and starlight.

Take the opening track, “Torngat,” for instance. They somehow manage to create guitars that sound like baritone saxophones. “Sunstone” is appropriate for druidic rituals and flying through a rainy street while hunting replicants. “The Night Wolves / Black Moon” is sure to freak out your dog (as it did mine) with its creepy sonics.

Thunder hails “Ostara’s Return,” which seems like the right way to start such a heavy and creepy track. “Still Clearing” does bring to mind an early morning on a beautiful glen, but there’s a hint of menace underneath it – as if the glen is haunted by a dark tragedy. I think the sun referred to in the title of “Low Sun I” is the setting sun, because it has a creepy dread to it.

That dread is amplified to near-horror movie soundtrack levels in “The Shoes of the Suffering Wind.” It evokes images of rocky shores, ship graveyards, and glistening fish-men rising from black depths in search of prey. “Low Sun II” is the soundtrack ofa tired army marching across a swamp for dry land before the sun sets on them. The beautiful “Wonderstrands” gets me thinking about string theory, and with “The Stars As My Guide” to end the album, I suppose that thought process shouldn’t surprise me. The final track is full of cosmic guitars that eventually whittle down to a lonely hiss not unlike an open communications link between a dead astronaut and mission control.

Another amazing aspect of this album is that there is no percussion in it. It’s all guitar and bass effects (as far as I know) and it’s never boring. Markland changes your perception of everything around you whether you’re across the room or eighteen stories above the street.

Keep your mind open.

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Clutch announces winter tour dates.

CLUTCH ANNOUNCE WINTER PSYCHIC WARFARE TOUR DATES WITH DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT & THE OBSESSED
Clutch has just announced Winter tour dates for the continuum of their Psychic Warfare tour. Supporting the tour will be Devin Townsend Project and The Obsessed. Fan club pre-sale tickets will start at 2:00pm ET today, public stale starts 10am ET on Friday.  Exclusive fan club pre-sale tickets and show info available here: mt.cm/clutch.  The on sale date for the 4 Florida shows is TBD due to the hurricane in the region. Check the bands official website www.pro-rock.com for all upcoming ticket and show info.
Clutch will be entering the studio in early 2018 to begin work on their 12th studio album.
Psychic Warfare is the latest and eleventh studio effort from Clutch.  The disc debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard 200, No. 2 on the Billboard Independent,  No. 1 on the Billboard Hard Rock and Billboard Rock charts.     Psychic Warfare was produced by longtime producer Machine (Lamb Of God, Every Time I Die).
Clutch, Devin Townsend Project and The Obsessed Tour Dates:
Wed, 11-29-17               Greensboro, NC at Cone Denim Entertainment Center
Fri, 12-01-17                  Myrtle Beach, SC at House Of Blues                         
Sat, 12-02-17                 St Petersburg, FL at Jannus Live                                          
Sun, 12-03-17                Fort Lauderdale, FL at Revolution                    
Tue, 12-05-17                Saint Augustine, FL at Backyard Stage @ St Augustine Amphitheatre
Wed, 12-06-17               Pensacola, FL at Vinyl Music Hall                          
Fri, 12-08-17                  Baton Rouge, LA at Varsity Theatre                                                     
Sat, 12-09-17                 San Antonio, TX at The Aztec Theatre                       
Sun, 12-10-17                Houston, TX at House Of Blues                         
Tues, 12-12-17               Springfield, MO at Gillioz Theatre                       
Wed, 12-13-17               Lincoln, NE at Bourbon Theatre                       
Fri, 12-15-17                  Peoria, IL at Limelight Eventplex                     
Sat, 12-16-17                 Nashville, TN at Marathon Music Works
Wed, 12-27-17               Clifton Park, NY at Upstate Concert Hall
Thu, 12-28-17                Sayreville, NJ at Starland Ballroom
Fri, 12-29-17                  Richmond, VA at The National                      
Sat, 12-30-17                 Knoxville, TN at The International                 

Sun, 12-31-17               Columbus, OH at Express Live

CLUTCH:
Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion
For more  information, check out the band’s website:

Rewind Review: Blue Cheer – Vincebus Eruptum (1968)

I’d heard and read that Blue Cheer (Dick Peterson – bass and vocals, Leigh Stephens – guitar, Paul Whaley – drums) were among the loudest bands of all time. Eric Clapton mentioned this in an interview I read once when he was talking about the psychedelic / stoner rock scene in late 1960’s. Other musicians seemed to whisper about Blue Cheer like speaking too loudly of them might unleash a sonic boom at any moment. So, I figured I should buy their debut album Vincebus Eruptum (which is Latin for “blue cheer,” by the way).

The album opens with what is widely considered to be the first heavy metal song ever released – their cover of “Summertime Blues.” It immediately pours on the distortion and drumming that sounds an army of Orcs is playing it. My favorite part of the cover is how they don’t bother singing the parts when the boss or the congressman in the song speak. They just play a quick bass, drum, or guitar solo instead. “Rock Me Baby” is a blues standard, showing that Blue Cheer could groove as well as blow out your eardrums.

“Doctor Please” is the first track on the album written by Peterson, and it’s almost eight minutes of howling vocals backed by wailing guitar, heavy drums, and angry dog-growl bass. “Out of Focus” almost starts that way with its funky, weird bass groove, but soon Whaley’s drum licks bring everything into a (somewhat fuzzy) focus.

“Parchment Farm” has guitar work that you can hear influenced bands like Earthless, Sleep, Kadavar, and Wolfmother. Stephens melted the first faces in 1968, and some people still haven’t recovered. Listening to “Second Time Around” is like hearing the first cries of Baby Stoner Rock. It’s a wild, bluesy, psychedelic trip with a crazy drum solo from Whaley. The band is allegedly named for a type of LSD, after all.

As wild as it is to hear Vincebus Eruptum now, it must’ve been mind-blowing in 1968. No one had done anything like this before, and many are still trying to do it now. From now on when people ask me, “What should I listen to if I want to get into stoner rock?” I’ll tell them to start with this.

Keep your mind open.

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Rest in peace, Chris Cornell.

I’m not sure what I can add to the thousands of words already written on the death of Soundgarden and Audioslave lead singer Chris Cornell.  He was one of the best rock singers of my generation, and even sang the Bond theme for the modern version of Casino Royale – “You Know My Name.”

I’ll always remember him for his work on Soundgarden’s masterpiece album Superunknown.  The whole record is a stunning piece of work, and Cornell’s voice ranges from screaming metal work to psychedelic wanderings to doom metal growls.

He was open about his drug addictions, and there is already talk that his death might be the result of suicide.  I wish him peace and his bandmates and fans strength.

Keep your mind open.

 

Rewind Review: Fuzz – self-titled (2013)

Not one to rest on his laurels, Ty Segall has more side projects than a street hustler. Fuzz is one of his loudest and best. Along with Roland Cosio (bass) and Charlie Moothart (guitar), Segall (on vocals and drums instead of his usual guitar) and his pals created an album of metal distortion that was hard to match in 2013 and is still hard to match today.

The band is appropriately named, as the opener, “Earthen Gate,” starts like a bluesy heavy metal ballad but transforms into a heavy chugging fuzzed-out battle hymn. “Sleigh Ride” has, as far as I can tell, nothing to do with Christmas and jingle bells, but everything to do with the band’s love of Cream and Black Sabbath. This love of 1960’s metal bands continues on “What’s in My Head?”, in which Fuzz drifts back and forth between psychedelia and stoner metal.

“HazeMaze” hits hard right out of the gate. It’s like the soundtrack to a battle between giant robots. Seriously, someone needs to put this in the next Pacific Rim movie. “Loose Sutures” is excellent stoner metal. It’s full of reverbed vocals, heavy guitars, and pounding drums that sound like Segall decided to skip a day at the gym and made up for it on his kit.

“Preacher” is Cream mixed with Blue Cheer. “Raise” is Cream if Clapton, Bruce, and Baker said, “Screw it, turn up full volume on everything.” when recording (which, actually, I’m sure they did now and then). The rhythm grooves in it are superb. The album ends with “One,” the longest track on the album at just over six minutes (Fuzz doesn’t mess around.). It’s glorious, hard-hitting controlled instrumental chaos. The mosh pit this must induce is probably batshit crazy.

This record would’ve been in my top 10 of 2013 had I been keeping lists back then. They’ve put out a second record by now, II, so I need to seek it out pronto. You should, too. Seek out both. Get fuzzy.

Keep your mind open.

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Clutch announces inaugural Earth Rocker Festival.

CLUTCH ANNOUNCE FIRST ANNUAL EARTH ROCKER FESTIVAL AT SHILEY ACRES IN INWOOD, WV 
March 20th, 2017 – Clutch is pleased to announce their first annual Earth Rocker Festival at Shiley Acres in Inwood, WV on Saturday, May 20th. The lineup includes: Lucero, The Sword, Bad Seed Rising, Apollo’s Prophecy, and  the Frederick Maryland School of Rock bandTickets for the festival are on sale now at this location: https://tinyurl.com/n3saltt.
The festival is a daytime event that has the parking field opening at 9am.  Gates to the show open at 12 noon and music starts at 1pm.  The festival ends at sunset with overnight camping permitted.  Children under 12 are admitted free of charge.  10×10 pop up tents and lawn chairs are allowed inside designated festival concert areas.
For more information on the line up, directions, camping, on site food and beverages available, hotel accommodations and all “Things You Should Know”, visit http://www.shileyacres.net
“The first annual Earth Rocker Festival takes place at Shiley Acres, in West Virginia” states the band’s front man Neil Fallon.  “We played at Shiley Acres last year and it was a blast.  Our intent is to have a really diverse bill.  If all goes as planned,  Earth Rocker Festival will continue as an annual event, hopefully growing in scope over the years.”
Guitarist Tim Sult adds “Enjoy the May weather in the best way possible- with a day of rock n roll in a West Virginia field!”
Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster adds “Earth Rocker Festival is a great way to kick off summer! The green rolling hills of West Virginia will provide the backdrop for our inaugural music event. We wanted to create a musical experience that included a diverse line up of music. We are pleased to announce this year’s line up includes our friends the Sword and the legendary Lucero. Come rock with us!”
Shiley Acres is an outdoor concert venue located in Inwood, West Virginia. For 40 years Shiley Acres has seen many local and national acts grace it’s stage.
For more  information, check out Earth Rocker Festival:
@earthrockerfest

Tool announces short U.S. and Canada tour.

Prog-metal virtuosos Tool have announced a small batch of tour dates across the U.S. east coast and Midwest, and a couple in Canada.  Some of these towns haven’t seen a Tool show in over a decade.  They’re also headlining a couple music festivals this year.

No word yet on if this tour will be to promote their long-awaited fifth album or any songs from it will be played on the tour.  Tool always does their own thing, so don’t be surprised if they only play older tracks or nothing but stuff you haven’t heard before.

May 24 — Fairfax, Virginia @ Eaglebank Arena
May 27 — Bangor, Maine @ Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion
May 28 — Boston, Massachusetts @ Boston Calling
May 30 — Rochester, New York @ Blue Cross Arena
May 31 — Hamilton, Ontario @ First Ontario Centre
June 2 — Montreal, Quebec @ Bell Centre
June 5 — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania @ Petersen Events Center
June 7 — Detroit, Michigan @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
June 8 — Chicago, Illinois @ Allstate Arena

Keep your mind open.

Clutch announces May U.S. tour.

CLUTCH ANNOUNCE MAY HEADLINE TOUR DATES ALONG WITH FIRST ANNUAL EARTH ROCKER FESTIVAL AT SHILEY ACRES IN INWOOD, WV 
February 8th, 2017 – Clutch has just announced a string of headline tour dates for May.  Supporting the tour will be Lucero and The Sword.  The band is also pleased to announce their first annual Earth Rocker Festival at Shiley Acres in Inwood, WV on May 20th.  Full line-up to be announced soon.  Pre-sale tickets will start at 10am ET today, public stale starts 10am ET on Friday.
Ticket info available here: https://ticket.artistarena.com/events/24585.
“We did a whole bunch of touring in 2016” states the band’s front man Neil Fallon.  “Right now, we’re cooling our heels and starting to kick around some riffs for the next record.  We hope to be recording the LP come the end of the year.  Where and with whom is yet TBD.  At the moment though, we’re really just at the beginning phase of writing and we already have a surplus of ideas.”
“In other news, this Spring we will be hosting the first annual Earth Rocker Festival.  It’ll take place in Shiley Acres, West Virginia.  We played at Shiley Acres last year and it was a real blast. Our intent is to have a really diverse bill.   If all goes as planned,  Earth Rocker Festival will continue as an annual event, hopefully growing in scope over the years.”
Psychic Warfare is the latest and eleventh studio effort from Clutch.  The disc debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard 200, No. 2 on the Billboard Independent,  No. 1 on the Billboard Hard Rock and Billboard Rock charts.  On Record Store Day this past April 16th Clutch released a limited edition numbered etched vinyl 12 inch that included two previously unreleased tracks from the Psychic Warfare sessions:  “Mad Sidewinder” and “Outland Special Clearance“.   Psychic Warfare was produced by longtime producer Machine (Lamb Of God, Every Time I Die).
Clutch, Lucero and The Sword May Tour Dates:
05-10-17 in Asheville, NC at Highland Brewing Company
05-12-17 in Louisville, KY at Palace Theatre
05-13-17 in Grand Rapids, MI at 20 Monroe Live
05-15-17 in Brooklyn, NY at Brooklyn Steel
05-16-17 in Providence, RI at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
05-17-17 in Port Chester, NY at The Capitol Theatre
05-19-17 in Norfolk, VA at The NorVa
05-20-17 in Inwood, WV  at “Earth Rocker Festival” at Shiley Acres
CLUTCH:
Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion
For more  information, check out the band’s website:
Official: www.pro-rock.com

Neon Coven releases new EP.

Neon Coven, the new industrial rock band from Los Angeles, CA, has released its debut EP “Risen today via New Ocean Media. Recorded in Hollywood, the EP was produced by Jacob Bunton. The EP consists of 4 tracks ranging from songs about survival and balance to emotionally charged anthems.
The EP can be streamed at this location: https://open.spotify.com/album/1DSKprFqDMWhoj8ttiY5d8
Neon Coven is comprised of Anthony Montemarano (vocals), Jacob Bunton (bass), Ace Von Johnson (guitar), and Kyle Cunningham (drums).
The album’s title Risen is a dedication to the fallen and broken who refuse to back down and give up on their dreams. “The idea behind music is to connect, create and inspire” states frontman Anthony Montemarano. “Between life and death, we are always riding the quantum edge.”
“These songs reflect on the uncertainties of life and coming to grips with our own mortality” adds bassist Jacob Bunton. “The only guarantee we have in life is that one day it will end.  It’s up to each one of us to create our own destiny and live life to it’s fullest. The world is full of ups and downs, but I’ve always believed in the Rocky Horror quote ‘if you can dream it, you can be it.”
From Los Angeles, CA, Neon Coven abandoned much of the ethos of the tradition of heavy rock to create an intellectual and theoretical sound, linked to an emphasis on anthemic, synth-heavy dance-rock.
Risen” track listing:
01. Down
02. No One Knows You’re Dead
03. Bleeding Love
04. Queen Of Scars
For more  information, check out the band’s Web Properties:

Stratus Nimbus – self-titled

Hailing from Arizona, Stratus Nimbus play a furious type of stoner and psychedelic rock with heavy metal influences. “Equality,” the opening track on their self-titled six-song EP, is loaded with guitars that would be right at home on Nirvana’s Bleach album as much as they would on a Black Sabbath record. The vocals, by Doug Dowd, are so full of reverb that they almost sound like they were recorded underwater.

The guitars on “Can’t Break Free” by Tom Goddard and Dan Dowd roll over you like waves breaking on rocky shores and threatening to drag you under or smash you to pieces. “A Walk in the Dark” is a great, creepy track that is a cool mix of Alice in Chains, Dio, and I think something from an unpublished Lovecraft story. Linda Rydelius’ vocals on it are like a dire warning to travelers on a bleak mountain pass.

“Galaxy Girl” is fine spacey psych. I love the way the guitars roar and whisper at the same time throughout it. “You Take” clearly shows the band’s love of heavy metal, as it sounds like a late 70’s track you’d hear blasting from your brother’s van as he cruised Main Street. The EP ends with “Rain Jam,” which is crunchy-punchy stoner rock that probably knocks you back on your heels live.

These cats have good things ahead of them if this EP is any indication. It’s loud, distorted, and weird, as good rock from the desert should be.

Keep your mind open.

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