Get Hot & Heavy with Smolder & Burn

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Smolder & Burn, Photo credit: Greg Masonn

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.

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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.”

 

 

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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

LINDSAY O’CONNOR

 

 

 

 

Never Self-Satisfied – Bill Steer of Carcass

 

Carcass-www.hillariejason.com-2

Carcass, by Hillarie Jason

 

 

For most Metal fans, the 2016 Slayer, Testament, and Carcass tour may just “reign” as one of the year’s greatest, as the month-long North American excursion not only includes two Thrash Metal titans, but also marks the first outing in many years for the legendary Carcass.

Since 1985, Carcass’ raw-edged aural assault has ignited Metal fans and influenced scores of bands. With six albums under the band’s belt, the most recent being 2013’s critically acclaimed Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast), Carcass are set to shred with stateside performances starting on February 22.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with Carcass’ lead guitarist Bill Steer about the tour, as well as Carcass’ musical legacy, and he was kind enough to share some details.

First I’d like to talk your upcoming Slayer and Testament tour – how did this all come about and why tour now?

Well, it’s probably surprising to learn the tour was initiated by agents talking to each other! The word reached us that there was a possibility we could play on this tour, and we couldn’t say no—if it was anybody else, we would have said no, but Slayer was the one band in our minds in this area of Metal music that we feel we could tour with without upsetting the audience!”

We’ve seen Testament several times live, and have done festivals with them, but the touring thing has not happened before, so it’s going to be interesting for us—we’re not sure how accepting audiences will be of us, but it will be quite fresh for us as well.”

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Can we expect a follow-up to Surgical Steel any time soon? And if so, how will the music differ from that album or other previously recorded efforts?

Hmm, interesting question, really, because the new music will have to differ from the previous record to a degree, because you have to feel like the music going forward. With Surgical Steel, we had the advantage where people didn’t know we were working on an album until it came out, and expectations were low, which was great, because when the album came out, it was actually great, and it was surprising to many people.

When [Carcass vocalist and bassist] Jeff Walker and I get together and write music through, we’re going to have to walk a tight rope— writing music that’s identifiable, as well as breaking new ground.

We do have a couple of songs tucked away—the momentum just picked up, and at the start of last year, we got together and worked on a handful of tunes, and we’re excited with some of the things we were working on. When we have a quiet time this year, in 2016, we’ll look into the stuff more carefully. “

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Carcass, by Hillarie Jason

Quite honestly, Carcass are legendary and helped shape and hone a sound—do you ever think about the influence you’ve had on other Metal and Grind bands?

I’d rather just “grind” on with what we do, because thinking too hard about your place in the scheme of things…. that’s just confusing and a distraction—and, you can’t really stop being self-critical. In my view, if you get self-satisfied, it leads to complacency. That’s not good for anyone in any genre. “

Occasionally, people are very nice to say those things to us—about being legendary—and that’s good to hear, but you’re only as good as your last gig and your last album.”

 

Are there any Carcass albums or songs you’re particularly proud of?

From the initial phase of the band, I’d have to pick the obvious, which is Heartwork. I remember quite clearly feeling really delighted with the sound we got on the album, as it was the first time we got anything we were looking for in the studio that coincided with really good writing. The music on that record…that’s the most pleasing stuff we did at that time. “

I’m quite fond of the two song songs on Heartwork EP—they were bashed out pretty quickly. We had a couple of B-sides, and I’m quite fond of those. As for other stuff, well, I’m still pleased with Surgical Steel. I can critique it, but it feels like a big achievement since we had so much stacked against us—doing something most people wouldn’t like—but we overcame the obstacles, and I just like the stuff on the record—it’s a hell of an album.”

CarcassSurgicalSteel

On the forthcoming Slayer tour, will your set list focus on newer Carcass music, or include some of the older stuff as well?

I would say this is a different situation for us than when we were a headlining act, where a large chunk of the audience is familiar with our music. On a tour like this one with Slayer, there’s going to be so many people every night who don’t know anything about us, so we need to comprise a 30-minute set that is hard hitting…we’ll be chewing that one over. But, the set is probably going to lean more towards the middle period of the band and music from Surgical Steel.”

 

How do you feel Carcass has evolved musically and lyrically from album to album?

The lyrics remain Jeff [Walker]’s 100 percent from my perspective—he gets very focused on something, and I think the lyrics he came up with on Surgical Steel were brilliant—easily the best to date.”

The music thing is definitely more organic—I just have bunch of riffs, and we take them into the rehearsal space. Surgical Steel was quite straight forward. We hadn’t worked on Carcass material for so long, but we decided the music was going to have styles from all eras of the band. I was hearing some stuff that harkened back to the very early Carcass days, and it wasn’t out of place. It was a cool thing to do because looking back it made sense, it was quite harmonious, but any music we write now has got to move forward.”

 

Anything else Carcass fans can expect from the band this year?

We’ve got a few festivals in the diary—I’d like to keep up our live chops, which means playing from time to time. I’d like to have a large chunk of rehearsal space time—if we’re going to make a new record, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.”

 

LINDSAY O’CONNOR

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Take it Over the Top – an Interview with Matriarch

Denver Doom just got Doomier—Matriarch from left to right: guitarist J. Hartnett, drummer Tyler McKinney, and guitarist/vocalist Austin Wilson. Photo credit Travis Heacock

Matriarch from left to right: guitarist J. Hartnett, drummer Tyler McKinney, and guitarist/vocalist Austin Wilson. Photo credit Travis Heacock

The next song we’re working on is about 45-minutes long,” confesses Matriarch guitarist J. Hartnett. The declaration isn’t in the very least surprising: the weed-fueled basement jam sesh that is Matriarch’s debut EP, Magnumus: The 44th Scribe and Lorde of the Hallucinauts, is evidence this Doom-dealing, Denver-based outfit is it in for the long haul.

To the initiated in underground music, it’s well-known Denver is a hotbed for Doom. As the hometown of punishing acts like Primitive Man, In The Company of Serpents, and Khemmis, Denver’s arid expanse can withstand many-a rumbling low-end. And now, with Matriarch a part of the low-and-slow fold, it could be said the Denver Doom thing is truly a scene.

It just came together,” Hartnett says of the band’s formation. “It just coalesced into what it is, although [Matriarch’s music] started a lot faster and more mid tempo. Honestly, we just kept smoking weed and slowing it way down.”

We were actually going to write a soundtrack to the arm-wrestling movie, Over the Top, ” Matriarch guitarist and vocalist Austin Wilson chimes.

Like how Dark Side of the Moon syncs up with the Wizard of Oz,” Hartnett says. “We were going to call it Lincoln Hawk, which was Stallone’s name in the movie—we make a lot of decisions that are marijuana based.”

Matriarch EP cover

 

It’s interesting to me that there are so many Doom Metal bands coming out of Denver—do you think it’s because weed is legal that everyone plays so slow?

Maybe!” Matriarch Drummer Tyler McKinney exclaims. “But I think all of the Doom bands in Denver smoked weed way before it became legal.”

The correlation or causation of it—it’s a good one,” Hartnett muses. “I don’t think it helps with the formation of bands, but it definitely helps with the attendance to a show.”

Marijuana is not a suggestion—it’s a requirement to play or watch Doom,” Wilson says.

 

The debut Matriarch EP was released in April—

on 4/20 at 4:20 pm—it’s so stupid,” Hartnett laughs.

 

Well, it only has two songs, and it’s 44-minutes long: How do you know when a Matriarch song is “done?”

It takes a long time to get through writing a song,” McKinney explains. “We’ve even recorded drums for a song we’re in the middle of still writing.”

Honestly, it takes us about eight months to get through a song,” Hartnett adds.

Matriarch, photo credit by Travis Heacock (3)

 

Are you guys “Tone Lords?”

It’s more fun for us to just collect stuff and see what happens,” Wilson says.

We like having the big presentation of it—the volume of it,” adds Hartnett.

 

Why do you do Doom?

Well, we definitely make music for ourselves,” McKinney says.

Yes, as cliché as it is, we wanted to do this for ourselves, whatever you want to call it,” says Wilson.

And everyone in Matriarch has a really high standard; we don’t want to suck when we play out and it’s hard to sustain this minimal thing we do,” Hartnett admits. “But our biggest goal in playing this music is to have our own sound and to not sound like anyone else—even within the Denver or Doom scene, we want to have our own place…I do think we’ve sonically found our little niche.”

Matriarch guitarist Jake Harnett. Photo credit by Travis Heacock

Matriarch guitarist Jake Hartnett. Photo credit by Travis Heacock

 

Magnumus: The 44th Scribe and Lorde of the Hallucinauts is available over at the Matriarch Bandcamp.com page. You can keep up with more Matriarch information, as well as an update on their forthcoming 45-minute-long song, at www.Facebook.com/MatriarchDoom.

 

WORDS BY LINDSAY O’CONNOR

PHOTOS BY TRAVIS HEACOCK

 

When The Circus Is In Town: Jason Keyser of Origin

 

krisiun origin north american tour

Emerging from a sea of black t-shirts, Jason Keyser of Origin finds me standing mid-way through the venue’s pre open-door line.

Oh, good it’s not a video recording,” Keyser says as we make our way around the corner to a quiet side of the street.

As we set down our gear on the sidewalk, Keyser greets wallet-chain wearing kids who recognize him.

No, but this way, you can pose in the photos and fluff-out your hair,” I remark between his handshakes with fans.

I’d rather you Photoshop me a lot,” he says as the crowd thins. “Give me a glow.”

Lindsay O'Connor of Ghost Cult with Jayson Keyser of Origin. Photo credit by William Williams

Lindsay O’Connor of Ghost Cult with Jason Keyser of Origin. Photo credit by William Williams

Although Keyser and crew are about halfway through their co-headlining slot on the Devastation Across the Nation US tour, he looks rested and already illuminated, so I skirt the suggestion.

Tony Lazaro said it best: ‘I feel like an old carnie in an old circus,’” Keyser quips, referring to a remark the Vital Remains guitarist made while Origin toured with the band in 2011. Lazaro parlayed the jest while standing at his band’s merch table as he watched young kids run amuck. “There’s a new generation of fans, and we’re still holding on,” Keyser says. “But [Origin guitarist and vocalist] Paul Ryan is the only original member, and he’s still just as young at heart as you can imagine; it’s adorable—he’s a lifer!”

Although there are newer generations of Metal fans taking to the scene, Origin remains one of the well-respected staples, lauded for their blast-beat blitzkriegs and searing technicality. And while Origin isn’t touring in support of anything necessarily “new,” the band’s last album, Omnipresent (Nuclear Blast), remains innovative and relevant.

We’re lucky we’re not big enough that we have to cater to a certain look or style,” Keyser says. “People still seem to dig it, dig what we do. It keeps it fresh. Our last album, [Omnipresent] was a little different from the last one before it, but how ever we’re feeling is how we express ourselves.”

<center><span style="color: #999999;">Origin, by Susanne A. Maathuis</span><center/>

Origin, by Susanne A. Maathuis

 

Would you ever take fans for a loop and put out a Funeral Doom album?

Yeah, maybe—why not? Omnipresent featured a straight-up circle-pit, Thrash-Metal song, as well as a Black Metal song, so maybe we’ll put out an Origin Sludge album—slow it all down by 100 percent.”

Do you give a shit about what your fans think?

If we could have sold out, we would have sold out a long time ago—I guess we are one of those bands that doesn’t “care” about what fans think, because if we did we’d be “selling out.”

I don’t think about it specifically like that, but…hmm, now that you broke it down, I’m going to have to think about it. “

Do you have plans for a follow-up to Omnipresent?

After we’re done with the tour, we’ll have a lot of time off, and we’ll start pounding out a new [album] in early spring [next year].”

origin album cover

Now a-days, you have to keep pumping out albums to stay relevant—

There are some bands, however, that take a long time to put out an album, like Meshuggah.

Meshuggah makes way more money than we do—we don’t have that luxury!

It is good to stay relevant; there’s a weird time period before the next album becomes a comeback—like, you have to put out new music before two years or after six, otherwise you’re lost in the abyss.

As far as a new album, though, I’m the last person whose input gets put in that consideration—my role comes last in that.”

Other than this tour, what do you have in the hopper you’re looking forward to?

The tour is halfway done—I’m excited about it being all the way done, actually!

Ideally, we’ll be playing South America, and we’ll be playing a festival in South Africa too—I’m basically using the band as an excuse to travel around the world—good work if you can get it!”

Keyser and I make invisible oranges, before he disappears back into the club. Doors open, and my buddy and I make our way inside. We see Keyser sitting at the Origin merch table, fashioning a quiet grin, arms folded as he observes a carnival of young fans collecting in throngs before him.

 

Origin continues to co-headline the Devastation Across the Nation tour with Krisiun, and with supporting acts Aeon, Alterbeast, Soreption, and Ingested. The band is planning to head to the studio next year, so be on the look out for more information on their forthcoming activities online here:

LINDSAY O’CONNOR

To Your Death – Christine Davis of Christian Mistress

Christian Mistress To Your Death album cover 2015

Belting atop towering riffs and intentional strong writing, Christian Mistress chanteuse Christine Davis confesses that she’s “ready to fight,” on “Stronger Than Blood,” the second track off Christian Mistress’ new album, To Your Death. Judging by Davis’ powerful, indoctrinating wail, it’s a proclamation I doubt anyone who hears the new material would dare refute.

Since 2004, the Portland-based power Rock troupe Christian Mistress has championed un-ironic Rock and Roll—no slick or sticky packaging here, instead the band offers straight-up and true Heavy Metal ethos. At the helm of this searing sonic ship is Christine Davis, who with powerful conviction, brings a raspy and cool, raw and confrontational approach to the music.

Christian Mistress, Photo Credit: Greg Mason

Christian Mistress, Photo Credit: Greg Mason

 

We gave [To Your Death] enough time to develop,” Davis said. “We’ve always been aware we have magic as musicians when working together, and on To Your Death, we were able to harness that.” Davis and I stood outside a club in Denver between an alley and awning; Christian Mistress had just come off a 12-hour drive from the last-night show in St. Louis, and were appropriately road-weary, yet looking spry.

On To Your Death, we were able to create a record that pulled from influences we hadn’t had a chance to pull from yet, as well as a deeper understanding of each other as musicians.”

Christian Mistress, Photo Credit: Greg Mason

Christian Mistress, Photo Credit: Greg Mason

When speaking with Davis, one is privy to a self-assurance that cuts through bullshit and small talk; we skirted pointless prattle and instead purposefully dove into the details of the album.

[We, Christian Mistress, were able to] really appreciate where each of us was coming from. [Moreover], we really tried to pay more attention to space. The lyrical content on To Your Death is about freedom—freedom of the soul—we wanted to keep the musical themes open as well, so there’s some space around it.”

Since forming in 2004 in Olympia, WA, Christian Mistress has released three studio albums and a demo, all of which reintroduced to Heavy Metal its raw roots. After the band’s 2012 album, Possession, Christian Mistress went on to write the tunes heard on their new third full-length studio release, To Your Death. The process found the band enduring a brief break and a line-up change, which helped refocus the song-writing efforts, reigniting Christian Mistress’ song-writing prowess. The result is heard on the album’s eight tracks, which offer an uncomplicated sophistication that still feels edgy, as well as an assertiveness that makes Christian Mistress’ brand of Heavy Metal heavy.

We’re not a Death Metal band, [but] we’re also not a plain Rock and Roll band,” Davis said. “This kind of music is true Heavy Metal, with a lot of punk influence, which is what New Wave of British Heavy Metal is—[it was started] by players who were super Punk and raw, but were better musicians than just the three-chord harmony players (which is also great—I mean, I love The Ramones).

But playing this style of music is great because it gives us the space to do what we want and not get held back—if we had just said we were a Rock and Roll band, that’s great, but then where do screaming guitar harmonies fit? For me, I’ve never been in a band where we do just one thing, and with what [Christian Mistress does], we can always have the freedom to go beyond that.”

You fronted a Thrash Metal band called Buried Blood a little while back—how does fronting Christian Mistress, a traditional Heavy Metal band, differ for you in terms of performance and writing lyrics?

Christian Mistress, Photo Credit: Greg Mason

Christine Davis of Christian Mistress, Photo Credit: Greg Mason

Super interesting question: I think my approach to writing lyrics is exactly the same—I sit in the park and think about poetry I’ve been mulling over and attach it to the riffs that [Christian Mistress guitarist] Oscar [Scarbel] writes, and I think the main reason this music is successful is because of the riffs Oscar writes. He and I working together is a great juxtaposition, as our approaches are so different, and it just works.”

In [Buried Blood], I would listen to the music and write something around it. I think in the future [with Christian Mistress], however, I’d like to do more songs where we start with vocal harmonies, and then bring in other instruments.”

With To Your Death coming out soon (September 18th, 2015), and this mini tour underway, what is Christian Mistress most excited about?

Right now, a very pure answer is to say that it’s fun to be on tour right when the record is coming out—Relapse Records did an amazing job with our artwork.

It’s been really fun to be actively on the same path as the promotional aspects of the record. Plus, we get to head to Europe next month.

We’ve come a long way from where we started, which was in a drunken, moldy basement in Olympia, and having no idea anyone would ever care or listen to our music, but it’s a sound we cared about, and to this day, one we still care about.”

 

WORDS BY LINDSAY O’CONNOR

PHOTOS BY GREG MASON

Human Bodies / Leather Chalice- Seven-Inch Split (Vinyl)

Human Bodies and Leather Chalice Split single cover 2015

Broken Limbs Recordings brings us this raucous Black Metal and Punk hybrid split seven-inch, with Boston’s Human Bodies and New Hampshire’s Leather Chalice.

Featuring two tracks from each band, this hallowed-out and thrashy LP takes you on a raucous ride through grimy streets, riddled with the echoes of Venom, Discharge, and drugs, and harkens back to the days when punk was still pretty dangerous.

Tracks one and two are donated by Human Bodies and are appropriately quick and dirty. Track one, entitled ‘Only the Sigh,’ and track two, entitled ‘Malice Prepense,’ are vitriol-fueled black metal and Hardcore hybrids curated by a little D-beat for immeasurably catchy shit.

New Hampshire’s one-man punk project known as Leather Chalice chimes in on tracks three and four with impossibly unpolished Blackened Crust. The project, which features Jann from Ramlord, takes to the extremes of the genre-meld, garnering hues of grime and gray, and garbage can tin-sounding percussion, and in sum, is the sound of impassioned, unimpressed, abandoned youth.

This mash up is due out September 22 on 7-inch vinyl and is released in cooperation with Prison Tatt Records.

Information on oerdering this split seven-inch vinyl can be found over at the Broken Limbs Records Website at www.BrokenLimbsRecordings.com.

6.0/10

LINDSAY O’CONNOR

Watertank – Destination Unknown

Water Tank album cover 2015

Save for the album title, Destination Unknown (Solar Flare Records), from the French Alternative Rock outfit Watertank, is a focused and honed full-length, featuring memorable riffs and emotive harmonies that resonate long after album’s end.

Destination Unknown is the nine-song follow-up to the Nantes-based band’s 2013 debut, Sleepwalk. Clocking in under forty minutes, Destination Unknown takes to typical Alt-Rock tenants with ease: melodic riffs, anchored by pummeling percussion, deliver the band’s brand of all-purpose “heavy” through down-turned guitars, pristine production quality, and thoughtful songwriting.

Opening track ‘Automatic Reset,’ introduces Watertank’s sonic signature in big refrains and assertive vocals, as second track, ‘Fever,’ plays as a Foo Fighters-style, chord-driven anthem. Favorite track, ‘Contrails,’ calls up post-90s riff Rock ala Verve Pipe or Jawbox, and Watertank is expert in mingling precision and fuzz for the era-reminiscent sound.

‘DCVR’ follows with heart-bending notes, and the ‘Last Lost Hope’ is the album’s most sentimental and melancholically sweet. Watertank conjures up considerate melodies on ‘Surrender,’ which truly reign and ring on ‘Doomed Drifters’ and ‘Scheme,’ which deepen in the songs’ overall soft skin.

Closing track, ‘Destination Unknown,’ quiets the album to a close, and reflects and rests upon the album’s steady, consistent hearth.

Destination Unknown soars in equal insouciance and solidity, and each track composes a harmonious sum that is overall enjoyable and moving.

6.0/10

LINDSAY O’CONNOR

Khemmis Release Debut Album, Announce Tour Dates

 

Khemmis, photo by Travis Heacock

Khemmis, photo by Travis Heacock

 

Denver, Colorado Melodic Doom dealers Khemmis released their debut album, Absolution, today via 20 Buck Spin. The quartet recorded the album with famed producer Dave Otero (Cattle Decapitation, Nightbringer) at Flatline Audio in Denver.

Absolution features six tracks of moving and meticulously crafted music, calling up sonic similarities to Pallbearer, Graves at Sea, and the hypnotic hum of Sleep.

The album is available for digital download through the Khemmis BandCamp.com page; it can also be picked up via the 20 Buck Spin Website at www.20BuckSpin.com.

Khemmis will also head out on a West Coast tour supporting the new album, taking on cities from Denver to Seattle, along with special guests.

Khemmis’ Absolution was released July 7, 2015 via 20 Buck Spin

Khemmis’ Absolution was released July 7, 2015 via 20 Buck Spin

Khemmis Tour Dates

Aug 01: Denver, CO: HiDive w/ Call of the Void, Of Feather and Bone

Aug 06: Seattle, WA: Highline w/ Satanarchist, Brainscraper

Aug 07: Olympia, WA: McCoy’s w/ Infinite Flux

Aug 08: Portland, OR: High Water Mark w/ Druden, Satanarchist

Aug 09: Eugene, OR: The Wandering Goat

Aug10: Sacramento, CA: Café Colonial w/Decade of Statues

Aug11: Oakland, CA: Golden Bull Bar w/ Bog Oak

Aug12: San Jose, CA: San Jose Rock Shop

Aug13: Los Osos, CA – TBA

Aug14: Los Angeles, CA: Complex w/Atlas Moth, Vattnet Viskar, Atriarch

Aug15: Tempe, AZ– Yucca Tap Room w/ Atlas Moth, Vattnet Viskar, Atriarch

LINDSAY O`CONNOR

 

 

 

Ride Like the Wind Part III: Tips for Surviving Tour

So you want to go on tour, eh?

So you want to go on tour, eh?

The KVLT of Personality

While most people in bands like each other to a good extent, being in proximity to anyone for an extended period of time will test boundaries—pet peeves become liabilities, as everything is amplified.

Navigating different personalities requires a bit of shamanic savvy: I pull my advice on this from don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements.

The Four Agreements is tome of Toltec wisdom that can be applied to many different situations, but I find it especially useful when touring.

It is a little hippie, however, so please bear with me:

1- Don’t take anything personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

In the midst of drunken verbal banter, it may be hard to call up your inner yogi and mentally levitate above the din, but it’s necessary.

Most of the time, someone’s beef isn’t about you—they may be tired, hungry, lonely, scared—touring pulls out many insecurities, and being in proximity to people at their most vulnerable can be challenging.

So, if someone lashes at you, take a deep breath, walk it off and let it go—according to Ruiz, it’s not about you anyway.

2- Always do your best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”

There will be bad shows with low attendance; you’ll make no merch money; you’ll get drunk and fall down; you’ll lose sleep and be hungry.

The key is to show up, look nice, and, to throw in a little mom wisdom, just do the best you can.

Forgive yourself and forgive others for bad performances and drunken stupors—over look the things you can’t change.

3-Be Impeccable with your Word

Do what you say, say what you mean If you’re going off on a beer run before sound check, tell someone—and let them know what time you’ll return.

Touring is a team effort, one that requires every one person’s cooperation and communication, so be clear and concise—if you need some alone time, say something and then go clear your head.

Also: don’t be afraid to ask for what you want or need—you’re better off confessing you need breathing room or a burrito than carrying on begrudgingly.

Merch tables at MDF 13, by Hillarie Jason

 

4-Don’t Make Assumptions

Don’t assume the GPS is right; don’t assume the promoter will pay; don’t assume your shows are solid—and don’t assume your set time is.

Double check everything—call ahead and confirm: you’ll avoid many a-misery by simply ensuring everything is as it should be.

Most of all, remember to keep it light: you’re there to have fun! You’re there to bring music to the masses, get laid, maybe get paid—you’re doing something most never get the chance to, so look on the bright side to stave off negativity.

In keeping some of these Toltec tenants in mind, you can keep your cool, and as a result, you will find you’re better off and that your interactions with everyone else will be better too.

 

Ride Like the Wind”

Inevitably, touring will simply wear you down: you may catch a cold or run on fumes. Equipment may break or morale may be low.

The solution: Play “Ride like the Wind.”

 

Ride like the Wind,” the 1980 Christopher Cross masterpiece, carries in it the energy and inspiration to raise your spirits. Play it when you feel down or tired; play it at the start of each journey. Cross’ wise words and soft, affirmed vocal delivery is a comforting call of victory—an encouraging reminder that you. can. do. this!

Touring is a fun and challenging, unique experience. More than a simple test of will, it’s a lifestyle for many—for me, it’s a lifestyle I greatly enjoy.

My next stints include a summer and autumn excursion, respectively, with some great bands I’ll be sure to soon disclose.

But of all the things I’ve learned when touring, what I note most is how much I enjoy meeting new bands and Metal-head fans who quickly become new friends. I feel deep sense of camaraderie, as if part of a clan. Thus, being on the road is a kind of homecoming—I look forward a family reunion soon.

*Special thanks to Zack, Justin, and Jon of Neckrofilth

 

Ride Like the Wind Part I

Ride Like the Wind Part II

 

 

Follow Lindsay O’Connor’s adventures on the road through her Instagram at OSPREY_MM.

LINDSAY O’CONNOR

 

Works Cited

Miguel, don Miguel. The Four Agreements: a Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. November 7, 1997.

Ride Like the Wind Part II: Tips for Surviving Tour

Crowd during At The Gates recent US Tour, by Hillarie Jason Photography

In Part II of Lindsay O’Connor’s survival guide for winning at tour life, she covers more essential knowledge to overcome common pitfalls such has bad eating habits, dealing with a total lack of personal space, and the hope of getting any semblance of rest between gigs.

Bobs-big-boy

Truck-Stop Food

Crap confections found at truck stops, like plastic-wrapped everything, hot dogs sweating out grease, cookies, chips, Gardettos, and cheap sweets, make for a heavy-on-the-breath, post-consumption scent.

In the South, fried chicken is available at nearly every one—biscuits gravy too—and in-van eating makes for a fried-food perfumery—a greasy belch becomes an allspice strong enough to curl even the straightest hair.

The Solution: Chew gum, use mouthwash, brush teeth.

Rid yourself of corn-dog carrion; keep thy precious mouth clean.

 

Wacky Tobacky & Cigarettes

Smoke, of any kind, is strong and leaves long-lasting odor choke. Combined with any or all of the aforementioned scents, and smoke can and does make for undeterred intensity that rarely ever abates.

The Solution: Ventilate

Smoke only with windows open or rolled down. Keep a box of Arm & Hammer baking soda open under the seat. Febreze often, and grab an air freshener tree at the next gas station fuel-up.

Taco Bell

The Solution: Only abstinence offers 100 percent protection.

 

 

clown-car

Deal with Space Constraints

When traveling with a smaller group, it’s easier to claim space and stake out van turf.

If possible, pick a seat, or call a bench or shotgun; stow your personal items in that area.

Note, however, this may not always be possible: in cases where there are more than a handful of people in the van, you’ll have to be flexible.

The solution: Keep your stuff in one space

For space constraints, try to keep your personal goods all in one area: your stuff will be easy to find—you can easily change clothing, access your food, and find your shoes without dismantling the van.

 

Accommodations: And Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Tight budgets also don’t often allow for hotel stays, so you’ll likely have to cozy up to the snoring slobber monster next to you.

You’ll also likely sleep on floors and in vans, or on dog-and-cat hair-ridden sofa beds. But do find time to sleep: sleep prevents you from snapping necks and slitting wrists; it affords the brain a much-needed abscond from the over-stimulating reality of touring.

If you can steal away to a hotel room alone, please do: private time is a luxury, so enjoy it wisely. Restore in a soft bed and get a good hot shower in the morning.

But if you can’t, embrace the perils of road sleep: In the spirit of camaraderie, dog pile your homies—snuggle up to that bearded wonder tech-ing your six string.

Be forgiving of unsavory sleeping environments; be grateful for generosity: crashing in people’s homes is common, so be sure to thank them for their hospitality.

Handle Physical Contact

Tight spaces may also mean that you’ll have to deal with close physical proximity to people—that seems like a given, but you’d be surprised how many people have problems with touching.

The solution: Focus Power

Stay focused, tune out annoying things (smells, sounds, snoring), and learn to deal with someone’s arm or leg on your own. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

 

Be sure to check back here tomorrow for Part III of Lindsay’s insightful compendium of how to make it out of the tour van alive and in one piece.

Follow Lindsay O’Connor’s adventures on the road through her Instagram at OSPREY_MM.