Sad news as classic rock icon Peter “Ginger” Baker, who rose to stardom in the 1960s with supergroup Cream, has died. He was 80 years old. The news was shared by his family in a post to Facebook, which you can see below. Baker died after battling a history long illnesses, including heart problems, and was hospitalized just recently. Baker was arguably the greatest drummer of his generation, and an all-time great along with Buddy Rich, John Bonham, Keith Moon and more. Best known for his work with Cream, Blind Faith, Ginger’s Baker’s Airforce and as a solo artist, performer, and clinician; Baker’s blend of Jazz music mastery and at times unrivaled power and creativity was a revelation compared with others at the time. His stint with Cream, particularly their live performances, was etched in the minds of a generation of would-be players.’ Politician’ by the band is arguably the first metal and stoner rock song. He certainly inspired the likes of progressive rock drummers to follow him such as Neal Peart and Carl Palmer. Eric Clapton is the sole remaining living member of Cream, now that Baker and Jack Bruce have passed away. Baker’s often had famously cantankerous and surely reputation, solidified by the documentary Beware of Mr. Baker. The film asserted that Baker was the greatest drummer ever, a sentiment Baker himself agreed with. We send out sympathies to his family, friends, and legion of fans at this time. Continue reading
Party-time stoner-punks Bokassa are currently opening for Metallica and Ghost across Europe. Today they drop a new single, an ode to fun dubbed ‘Captain Cold One’! The track comes from their new album, Crimson Riders, due out on June 21st via the MVKA label. Jam it out now! Continue reading
Whilst steadily garnering a reputation in their native Balkans, Bulgarian trio Obsidian Sea finally saw some US action in 2016 with a repress of second album Dreams, Illusions, Obsessions (Nuclear War Now! Records). Third album Strangers sees a Ripple Music release that will undoubtedly propel the psych-Doom outfit further. Continue reading
The latest act to trot off the impressive Svart Records conveyor belt, Danish quintet Demon Head like to maintain the traditions of Doom. Third full-length Hellfire Ocean Void sees their devotion to Proto and Psych Metal expanded with a little modernity but sticking true to the format, a feat undoubtedly assisted by having legendary producer Flemming Rasmussen at the knob-twiddling helm. Continue reading
The state of Maryland has a truly grand Doom legacy, and new quartet Alms aim to carry that on. Described by some as purveyors of a Funeral brand, the Baltimore outfit’s roots and product lean more towards seventies Occult Rock, despite the slow speed of some tracks. Continue reading
Stoner metal kings High On Fire have announced they are releasing their new album dubbed Electric Messiah via the eOne Label this October. Some details such as the track listing are available, with the first new music hopefully coming soon. Frontman Matt Pike recently gave an interview to the DC Heavy Metal Podcast in which he shared some of the details, including a headline tour soon with Municipal Waste. The follow-up to 2015’s Luminiferous, Electric Messiah was recorded at producer Kurt Ballou’s GodCity Studios where the last two HoF LPs were created. Additional tracking was done by Bryan Sours of Sour Sound. Continue reading
Serious praise has been heaped on LA trio High Priestess and judging by the majesty of this self-titled debut album (Ripple), much more is coming. As the name implies, the band peddles a mystical, dark yet melodious slow crush, but there’s a joyous inventiveness here that sets it apart from its peers. Continue reading
Brown Acid is a series of excellent compilation records of some of the best proto-metal and stoner rock music ever made back in the 1960s and 70s, at the dawn of the genre. Ghost Cult brings you the new single from the newest edition, Brown Acid: The Fifth Trip, appropriately due out this Halloween via Riding Easy Records. Jam out to Captain Foam’s ‘No Reason’ – below. Continue reading
Saturday we kick things off with Beelzebong, who give us the swamp soaked heavy slur of stoner doom riffs we’ve been so craving. These guys know how to his the sweet spot of heavy and oppressive, yet hypnotic. They turn the crowd in front of the Desert stage into a sea of bobbing heads, a sight that makes for great start to the day.
Since we get some rare sunshine in the beginning of October, we decide to recover from last night’s first day in the brittle warmth of the autumn sun in the outside seating area, and catch up with some friends.
Monomyth, these masters of the hypnotic cadence are not new for me but a lot of people were happily surprised by their prowess. Their gigs tend to sound like one long jam, and amazingly don’t get boring while they weave on and on in an almost circular way, pulling you deeper into the trance-like state their music conveys. While these guys make some really spacey psychrock, the usually omnipresent guitar noodling is quite minimal and has a more rhythmic notion with this band, repeating and embroidering on the same pattern, building layers and layers of spacey goodness.
After the enjoyable Monomyth set we catch a quick glimpse upstairs in the Canyon stage of Vandal X, these Belgian noise rockers pick up the tempo and shake us awake. Distinctly punky, yet a little heavier and stranger than punk, these guys kick you straight in the teeth. Having apparently inspired such bands as Raketkanon according to the booklet these forefathers of the no-nonsense, bash your head into the wall kind of noise rock are living up to their title. Noise Noise Noise, indeed.
After the rude awakening with Vandal X we go downstairs to see Greenleaf. The moment the band starts the grove is amazing, the thick heaviness is there, and everything sounds incredible, if a bit stripped down to make room for what we assume is going to be vocal driven Stoner. Pinching just a little too much I get the distinct feeling the vocalist is trying to sing a way that doesn’t fit him naturally, and the rest of the music just isn’t intricate enough to be able to ignore a less than impeccable vocal performance.
Thankfully the guys from Mars Red Sky are there to cheer me right up again, with their 70s infused doom. Their groove is one of the best and most catchy of the festival. In a genre often drowned in fuzz and distortion the use of oftentimes clean bass lines is refreshing and really hitting that spot. Soaring guitar lines coupled with remarkably light vocals with just enough echo to make their music sounds quite otherworldly. The contrast of heavy and light, floating and sinking make this band a fascinating experience well worth listening to.
Now I have the hard task of writing a review of Orange Goblin… Orange Goblin is one of the heavyweights in the genre, and seeing them live is nothing short of spectacular. They clearly have that oh so British touch in their approach to metal that takes a lot of influence from punk and just a general slow burning anger at the world no other nationality has quite mastered, maybe it’s the weather. The riled up crowd starts milling in front of the stage in an enormous moshpit that doesn’t let up until the set is over.
To kill the time before Earth start and not just hang around chatting to the many wonderful people this fest attracts, we go catch a few songs by Causa sui. The trippy background projections are pretty cool, but sadly the band evoke a distinct feeling of trying too hard to fit into the psychrock box. The whole thing feels a bit formulaic, and instead of expressing the joy of letting a trip come over you as good psych does, they just leave me with a vague sense of emptiness.
Earth have the honor of headlining today, and I’m quite interested to see how they do. The band is known for it’s super slow and heavy laid back instrumental drone, and while this is in itself wonderful music, it’s something that is really hard to get into when you’ve been on your feet all day and have just seen Orange Goblin destroy the Desert stage with a vengeance. This is a band you definitely need a chair and a good dose of substances for to really get into, but for me, at that time of the day, they just were a bit too slow in their heavy. About midway through, the after party starts, at which we get a second dose of Orange Goblin madness, but this time behind the dj set.
Sunday, lazy Sunday. We start things of with a local Belgian band who’ve clearly not lost any steam over the weekend. Tangled Horns pretty much tangle us in their horns. Fast paced with a franctic frontman who will climb anything makes for a great show. There is a definite raunchy twist in the stoner these guys make, that does definitely remind of 90’s grunge and even a punky atmosphere. Definitely a band worth catching live.
Next we keep the pace up just as high, with the party band extraordinaire Valient Thor. They are one of the few bands on the bill to really get people moving and have banter between songs. As it is a time-honored tradition in the stoner and doom scene to stare at your shoes and mumble thank you, it is refreshing to hear a man remind us we’re all really descendant from space dust in a hilarious way before linking it to the next song and setting off another bout of frantic, happy party punk. These guys would do well at any festival.
After grabbing dinner at one of the many food carts, we go watch Ufomammut. Over the last few years this group has made a reputation for being transcendent and while I see why people love them and where this reputation comes from somehow it just doesn’t hit that special place that makes the experience more than just music for me personally. They still were good but I didn’t see the magic others clearly see in them.
Sometimes there are bands that do everything right and still miss something, and just don’t work. Usually this is personal taste thing and hard to put your finger on, but with Bongzilla I feel I know exactly what was missing for me. These guys make standard sludge, and they do it well, but it’s all a little too clean. Sludge for me needs to be dirty and redneck and Louisiana swamp infested. It needs to feel wild and a little dangerous, heavy and sticky like the sweat is running down your back into your asscrack and the mosquitoes are eating you alive. Sadly this little bit of swamp of dirt and grit is exactly what was missing with Bongzilla.
My disappointed mood was quickly turned when friends I’d made urged me to stay downstairs and skip Fatso Jetson in favor of the Australian band Child. We got treated to a three-piece making some of the heaviest blues I’ve heard in ages, with a groove that was utterly unparalleled by any band on the bill, and most of all a voice that will melt the polar icecaps. The remarkably heavy main riffs get broken up by beautifully soulful blues guitar lines creating a refreshing contrast.
To conclude our stay in Antwerp I use the last of our coins to buy a few of the excellent cocktails at the little cocktail stand outside, and head upstairs for the final after party, not getting home until five in the morning, exhausted, charmed and satisfied. Until next time, Desertfest Belgium.
So much of working in the music industry thrives on chaos, it’s hard to breathe sometimes. I’m not lamenting the job of the music journalist, but just part and parcel of the this business seems to be powered by anxiety. Labels push bands, PR firms push albums and events, bands promote themselves (if you are lucky) and we the writers push reviews: in hopes that some eager ears find some enjoyment among the dross. Sometimes in all the chaos what you need is the vibe of a band that makes you reevaluate what you have listened to and why. All Them Witches, I’m glad you showed up when you did!
Not he most technical, brutal, fast or screamy music to come across my desk in 2015 and my trusty AKG studio cans this year, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (New West) just jams. All Them Witches, mashes up the meticulous songcraft of a Jazzier Pink Floyd and Camel with the doomy cadence of Ufomammut. ‘Call Me Star’ eases into things with a laid back guitar swell. Things get weighty with ‘El Centro’, which is hypnotic riffer complete with B3 organ vamps and a dedication the proto-metal a la Sabbath. ‘Dirt Preachers’ steps up tempo wise and is a garage feeling little ditty. This is where the vocals of Chris Michael Parks Jr. come into play. At times channeling J. Macias, Frank Black, Josh Homme and best of all a smoked out sounding Mark Lanegan; so you need to stop what you are doing and listen Chris sing. The album follows a similar ebb and flow the rest of the way, mellow moments, slow simmering blues joints immaculate musicianship, and versatile singing. Sometimes they will remind you of Baroness with their ability to focus on a motif such as on ‘Open Passageways’.
Toward the end of the album ‘Instrumental 2 (Welcome To The Caveman Future)’ sounds like the ending credits of a 70s movie. ‘Talisman’ is a fuzzy out joy full of wailing solos. The final track, the mysteriously named ‘Blood and Sand – Milk and Endless Waters’ will have you thinking of the more space rock Floyd moments again. Do not sleep on this band and spend some time with this album for unexpected rewards.