We are still reeling from the devastating news we brought you last night of the devasting loss of Punk and Metal legend and drummer Reed Mullin of Corrosion of Conformity. While we gather our thoughts to prepare a proper tribute, the entire music world seems to have mobilized an outpouring of love for Reed and support for the C.O.C. family at this time. Here are some remembrances from across the music world right now of the life and times and of Reed. Continue reading
Stoner Metal greats Corrosion of Conformity (a.k.a., C.O.C.) has announced a run of spring 2020 tour dates for Europe and the UK! The twelve headline show dates will see direct support from Arizona’s Spirit Adrift. The remaining dates will be festival shows, including appearances at Desertfest London and Berlin. The band is still touring behind early 2018’s No Cross No Crown, which was released via Nuclear Blast Records. Continue reading
If you’ve read anything I’ve written over the last several months, you know I’m a recent Denver transplant who sings toe-curling praises about this mountain town’s Metal scene.
Here, long-drawn, Mary Jane-inspired riffs reverberate out past the vast expanses of breathtaking natural aesthetics, and leave a heavy-handed sonic impression on scenes across the nation.
And if you’re a fan of the best in “underground” Doom-driven Metal, you’ve likely heard of locals Primitive Man, In the Company of Serpents, and Khemmis.
Now, add to this list Smolder & Burn, a band whose hot and heavy, stony Sludge is driven by guitarists Jess Ellis’ and Pat Devlin’s hearty riffs, vocalist Chris Chango’s throaty vox, and bassist Chad Roth’s and drummer Marc Brooks’ captious low-end, a pointed mélange with solid grooves and a searing after burn.
“I had been wanting to start a side project for a while away from my other band (Chingaso), where I just focused on vocals and not on both vocals and guitar,” said Smolder & Burn vocalist Chris Chango of the band’s formation. “I was at my friend Benny’s house for a BBQ, and he was looking to get back on the scene after a long hiatus. He introduced me to [Smolder & Burn drummer] Marc Brooks. We knew of each other, but we didn’t exactly know each other, so I was asked if I knew of any other musicians that might want to get in on the action—I called [guitarist] Pat [Devlin] and [bassist] Chad [Roth]. We had a few rehearsals that went well, then some things came up, and Benny dropped out. I asked [guitarist] Jess [Ellis] to come in, and that’s when things got kicked into overdrive.”
Now, fourteen months later, Smolder & Burn is set to release their début EP, a four-song flex of desert Rock-infused Doom—think of a ballsier Queens of the Stone Age with bigger beards and way more booze.
The tracks are capped by Chris Chango’s clean vocal croon, a distinctive stamp that characterizes the band’s already inventive tunes.
“[Chango’s vocals] are what really got me psyched about this band,” said Devlin. “I listen to a lot of music, and I’m of the opinion that the voice should be used as another instrument. I’m not knocking guttural stuff at all—I’m a fan! But I want to make music with multiple layers, and having clean vocals from the get-go is much better then to trying to introduce them later.”
“I always wanted and preferred more of a singer [too],” added bassist Chad Roth.
“When I was writing the lyrics for the first songs we came up with, I was going to try and be a more guttural with the vocals, but the strange thing is because of the actual low tuning we’re in, [I was forced] to go higher in range in order to hit the notes being played. People heard it, and they liked it, so it just kind of worked its way into what it is,” said Chango.
Smolder & Burn recorded the EP at the Crash Pad, a recording studio over in suburban Denver, where they tapped engineer Bart McCrorey to capture their big sound over a two-day live recording session, the result of which is an impressive debut from one of Denver’s most impressive new bands.
What kind of stuff do you guys talk about in your songs?
“I’m a straight-up fuckin’ nerd, so I’m really influenced by Sci-Fi and comic books—Silver Surfer is one of my top five favorites,” Chango said. “So a lot of the stuff I write is pretty much about traveling the universe, loneliness, isolation, lost love, uneasiness in regards to never truly knowing who you are or why you’re here.”
What do you think makes the Denver music scene tight and different from that of other cities?
“There’s a lot of real motherfuckers here,” Devlin said. “People in this music community can sense bullshit a mile away. Granted, there’s a few assholes everywhere, but overall this place rules.”
Adds guitarist Jess Ellis, “I agree that this is one of the strongest, tightest scenes I have ever encountered. I believe what sets us apart is the fact that we are pretty isolated here. I believe that holds people to be accountable and respectful of each other, or you’ll get your ass run out. Most the bands in this city, regardless of genre, are incredibly supportive of each other.”
Fun stuff: Who are some bands you’d love to tour with?
“I will play anywhere, anytime, with any band. But I’d personally like to tour with The Sword, Lo-Pan, Clutch, Fu Manchu, Cake, Baroness, and C.O.C.,” Devlin said.
“If we’re talking dream tour, I’d give my left nut to play with Neurosis, Pelican, or be the opening act for KISS in 1976 on the Destroyer tour,” Chango added.
Speaking of touring, do you have any plans to play shows outside of the city?
“Nothing as of yet,” Devlin said. “But I’ve been planting a seed with some of the bands like [Denver locals] Cult of The Lost Cause and The Worth about doing some Midwest shows together, just to show everyone the musical diversity Denver has.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
“I’m honestly blown away and very thankful for the reception that we have received as a ‘young’ band. It always makes me jazzed when a friend’s band who I respect and really dig asks us to play a show [with them],” Devlin said. “And the fact that you dig us enough to give us a chance in your magazine— we are extremely lucky guys!”
Those of us stationed in Denver are lucky as well—were able to see the band live Friday, May 6th, over at the Three Kings Tavern. This CD-release show for the band also features fellow Doom-dealers In The Company of Serpents, Valiomierda, and Aeraco. It all kicks off at 8:00 p.m., and copies of the Smolder & Burn EP will be available for purchase. You’ll also be able to download the mixed and mastered version of EP over at Smolderandburn.bandcamp.com.
More information on Smolder & Burn can be found at www.Facebook.com/Smolder-Burn
Corrosion of Conformity continues to mine away at our collective psyches, grooves crushing so hard as a power trio with their latest album IX (Candlelight). The band is out on the road supported by hardcore mainstays B’last, Brant Bjork and The Low Desert Punk Band and Lord Dying; tearing up stage after stage, night after night. Ghost Cult’s Curtiss Dunlap caught this tour in Portland, OR, (minus B’last) at Dante’s. Check out his photos from the show:
Brant Bjork and The Low Desert Punk Band on Facebook
PHOTOS BY CURTISS DUNLAP PHOTOGRAPHY
Releasing the second in their series of four EP s, Down is back with a vengeance on Down IV Part Two (Down Records). However, with the departure of founding member Kirk Windstein last fall, the wheels could have very easily have come off another super-group. Lucky for us, the resiliency of this band, even one with the legacy members that is has, cannot be questioned. They have added their tour manager and long-time friend Bobby Landgraf (Honky) to take Kirk’s place, and these kings of the super-group rolled on to their next release. In fact, they discarded the material they wrote with Kirk, let him take his many riffs with him, and re-wrote the entire new EP more or less from scratch with Landgraf. That takes a lot of balls for any band, but especially when the bar is set as high as it is for this one. Not only is there zero drop-off from the first EP, this release exemplifies everything rewarding as a fan of this band, and heavy music as a whole.
The opener ‘Steeple’ starts with a crushing slab of doom with all the epic, slow Sabbath-ian thunder they have always championed. When the thrashy, up-tempo main riff kicks in, you cannot help but smile. As per usual, a Down release packs in the quality riffs. Within the first two minutes of the track at least five distinctly different parts can heard; each more awesome than the last. The best part is, they all work together, and make sense in the context of the song. Phil Anselmo, is once again in fine voice, relying mostly on his mid-high range, which always has a sense of urgency to it. The repeating line of ‘steeple will fall…’ in the ending coda just entrances you. Who knew this band could be so kvlt? The song is a crusher and begins what feels like a real throwback to the first two Down albums. Coming up next, the single ‘We Knew Him Well’, has the signature sound you expect: grinding riffs, classic beats, and a catchy refrain sung by Anselmo. There are no signs slipping of the guitar sound from Landgraf and Pepper Keenan who trade hot licks, and swap solos seamlessly.
As much as the songwriting on this the EP sounds welcome and familiar, that doesn’t mean the band is resting on their laurels. Not one bit. ‘Hogshead Dogshead’ shows a growth, melding the hard hitting chops and incorporating inventive time signatures, stop/start timing parts, and classic-rock/blues vamping. Drummer Jimmy Bower and bassist Pat Bruders are just locked in tight and nasty on the low end rhythms. There are also some sick solos for you guitar freaks to get sweaty over. ‘Hogshead Dogshead’ has a what I like to call the “happy summer-time vibe” to it; just a feelgood rock song that is not cheesy, along the lines of Queen, Thin Lizzy, and Deep Purple. What a rager! On the other hand, the molasses-drenched in hellfire riffitude of ‘Conjure’, begins a weeded-out dream groove. Halfway through, the track lifts off into some NWOBHM and thrash movements, with a few more surprises added in, before bringing it back around again. If ‘Bury Me In Smoke’ is Down’s very own ‘Sweet Leaf’, then this is their ‘Electric Funeral’. Like most of his recent work, we are also treated to some of the most memorable lyrics from Phil in his entire career. Emotionally crushing, and timeless too. This quite possibly the best song on the album and the best song of the collective Down IV series so far.
‘Sufferer’s Years’ is another slick cut full of Keenan’s signature chopping chord play. Once again, we hear a plethora of inventive changes in this song. Phil again kills with some neat double-tracked lines, accentuating his words with a wisp of delay effects trailing off at the end of phrases. Closing things out with another jammin track, the aptly titled ‘Bacchanalia’ just simmers with badassery until the last note. This song is so heavy, and so much fun that I can’t wait to hear it live. To top it off there is a stunning coda to the song that is not musically unlike classics ‘Jail’ and ‘Pray For The Locust’. One gets the feeling Down writes with all these little twists and turns as a gift to the listener and themselves too. When we look back on this part of their career, we will likely understand that these are less like regular EPs that other bands release, and much more like a mini-opus, in pieces. Down clearly realizes their collective vision, no matter who is in the lineup, every time.
KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES