Blackwater Holylight (RidingEasy Records), the début album from the Portland, Oregon-based doomstresses of the same name, delivered not merely an enlivening quality but also realised founder member Alison ‘Sunny’ Faris‘ intent of giving heavier rock a new lease of life by incorporating more tuneful, lighter music into that sound. With second album Veils Of Winter (RidingEasy Records) the band, now a quintet with the addition of guitarist Mikayla Mayhew, aim to expand on that formula and the buzz created by that first release.
Desertfest is an ever-expanding, sprawling franchise festival, having pushed it’s tentacles out from London to Berlin, Antwerp and even Athens. As Ghost Cult did last year, we went to Desertfest Antwerp again, about the only October festival in the genre of stoner and doom music. Last year proved a great party and this time the line-up is salivatingly good, so we expected no less than a wonderful party of fuzz, swamp and bass, with a side order of psychedelia. Continue reading
Those unfamiliar with the sonic charms of Purson may wonder if the glut of praise engulfing the Southend quintet is garnered mainly by mystical talisman Rosalie Cunningham. There’s more than enough retrograde magic oozing from the pores of second album Desire’s Magic Theatre (Spinefarm Records), however, to justify the hype.Steeped in Folk-Pop whimsy, ‘Electric Landlady’s blend of mid-70s Glam and Prog is graced with oscillating organ notes: its wistful melodies leaning towards All About Eve, alongside Cunningham’s Julianne Regan-like plaintiveness. The vocal lines of the Folky, progressive ‘The Sky Parade’ possess that band’s brittle, striking harmonies and evoke their halcyon days beautifully, whilst the body of the track retains an eerie chord structure and pungent atmospheres. ‘The Way It Is’ and ‘Mr Howard’, however, bring comparison with the Indie-Pop of Regan’s short-lived Mice project: despite this, the Psychedelia coursing through the album increases the heavy feel of the latter’s rhythms.
Creativity abounds throughout: ‘Dead Dodo Down’ intersperses circus-style cascades with the brassy quirks of Tori Amos circa Boys For Pele (Atlantic / East West), all underpinned with that heady whiff of patchouli oil. Indeed, it’s not the only nod to the Goddess of Heartbreaking Piano: ‘Pedigree Chums’ remains rooted in the …Pele experimentation, seedy sax embellishing a lazy, hypnotic delivery and Raphael Mura’s mesmeric drum sequences. The languid, swaying ‘The Window Cleaner’ and closer ‘The Bitter Suite’, meanwhile, perfectly embody the retro, ‘60s Hippie’ feel, possessing subtle Eastern progressions and an air of The Doors’ lighter moments. ‘…Suite’ is the most experimental chapter: moving passages accompanied by flute solos and Jazz inflections, whilst the elongated bridge is reminiscent of Bugsy Malone’s introspective scenes.
Nobody, however, can deny the influence of latter-day Beatles on the whole set. The dreamy ‘I Know’, its gently infectious vocal marrying with a ‘Sgt Pepper’-style centrepiece, is the greatest example: but the hallmark is everywhere and, strangely, it’s no bad thing when conducted by such a free, mischievous spirit. Radiating sunshine from even its most melancholy moments, Desire’s Magic Theatre will delight anyone who yearns for that 70s quirkiness to infect their lush, harmonic heaviness.
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Purson will be releasing their next album Desire’s Magic Theatre on March 25, 2016 via Spinefarm Records.
Vocalist/guitarist Rosalie Cunningham commented:
Desire’s Magic Theatre has turned out to be everything I’d imagined and more. My world has been so consumed by it that I’ve barely been able to reflect on what it has become: a technicolor variety show, a playful display of the musical whims only briefly hinted at in our previous work; a psychedelic rock opera dedicated to our good friends Sarge Pepper and Zig Stardust.
The band has an upcoming headline UK tour.
Mar 09: The Louisiana – Bristol (UK)
Mar 10: Rock City – Nottingham (UK)
Mar 11: Waterfront Studio – Norwich (UK)
Mar 12: The Craufurd Arms – Milton Keynes (UK)
Mar 16: 100 Club – London (UK)
Mar 24: The Cavern Club – Exeter (UK)
Mar 25: The Junction – Plymouth (UK)
Mar 26: Joiners – Southampton (UK)
Mar 27: The Hope & Ruin – Brighton (UK)
Mar 30: The Sunflower Lounge – Birmingham (UK)
Mar 31: Night & Day – Manchester (UK)
Apr 01: Audio – Glasgow (UK)
Apr 02: The Brudenell – Leeds (UK)
Latest of the new wave of stoner/revival/heavy metal bands, Mirror have an impressive and diverse collective CV of work behind them. A Face on the Doom scene, bassist Tas Danazoglou (erstwhile of Electric Wizard and Great Coven) is the main driver behind this band, along with drummer Jaime Gomez Arellano (Blutvial and Septic Tank). The band is very upfront with what to expect from Mirror (Metal Blade), their debut album: “The recording boasts strong melodic ideas with classic, heavy riffs inspired by the sounds of Scorpions, UFO, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple and the like.”
The album’s opener – ‘Mirror’ – is so ridiculously Maiden that it’s almost a surprise as the vocals start that it’s not Ol’ Foghorn himself making a guest appearance. Instead, Jimmy Mavromatis turns in a performance far more reminiscent of Blind Guardian‘s Hansi Kürsch. The song doesn’t suffer from it though – it’s the best of the bunch. ‘Curse of the Gypsy’ is a grandiose affair which reminds strongly of Ghost. The foot comes off the throttle for the stargazing ‘Year of the Red Moon’, where the inevitable Hammond organ makes its appearance and settles in for the remainder of the ride and ‘Heavy King’ is a fine track in the Deep Purple vein with a strong backbone and some lovely breaks from each band member. ‘Madness and Magic’ brings the (classic rock flavoured) doom and ‘Galleon’ brings us back to Killers-era Maiden, while ‘Cloak of a Thousand Secrets’ turns up the heat again for a boisterous hybrid of Blind Guardian and UFO. ‘Orion’s Sword’ servers an extended acoustic(y) intro to the closing track – ‘Elysian’ – which pretty much shoehorns everything from the rest of the album into one song.
As I’ve said before, revival bands often struggle to find their own sense of identity, but I don’t think this is true of Mirror. They’re honest about what they’re aiming for, they’ve delivered as promised and the end result does stand on its own whilst paying authentic homage to the giants of 70s metal. What lets Mirror down is the killer/filler track list (‘Mirror’, ‘Gypsy’, ‘Heavy King’ and ‘Secrets’ being the killers), and the dry production. Now, I fully appreciate that this sound is a central part of the feel the band are going for with this album, but it detracts from almost all the tracks, robbing them of the punch and depth that a richer sound would yield.
Nevertheless, a decent debut, and if you’re into the likes of Purson, Ghost or The Sword, you’ll probably get on with Mirror.
There is always a little bit of self pride when you follow a band from their small venue first set of shows with one album to headlining a bigger sized stage in the city. On September, 28th I got that same feeling seeing Ghost headline at the House of Blues in Boston, MA. Purson started off the night with a bang and Ghost closed out the night (almost) flawlessly. This would be my third ritual with The Nameless Ghouls and their leader, Papa Emeritus III, and they are arguably at their best yet.
Purson hit the stage first with their psychedelic rock that got a solid reaction from the Boston crowd. The set consisted of mostly tracks from The Circle and the Blue Door with opening/closing tracks from In the Meantime. A couple of my favorites were ‘Rocking Horse’ , ‘Spiderwood Farm’ , ‘Well Spoiled Machine’ , and ‘Wanted Man’. After this short set, I definitely have my mind on obtaining those two albums.
Then after what felt like forever, the ritual had begun. Ghost took to the stage opening with the first track off of latest release, Meliora, entitled ‘Spirit’. Track staples such as ‘Ritual’ , ‘Con Clavi Con Dio’ , ‘Per Aspera ad Inferi’ , ‘Year Zero’ , and closer/encore, ‘Monstrance Clock’ obviously made the 19-song set list. Other new tracks included ‘From the Pinnacle to the Pit’ , ‘Cirice’ , ‘He Is’ , ‘Mummy Dust’ , and ‘Majesty’. The latter of those tracks actually received an introduction by Papa and he actually spoke to my girlfriend and mentioned that “someone dragged (her) here” which was an equally amazing yet hilarious moment in the show. Another funny moment was Ghost actually messed up the opening to ‘Prime Mover’ and Papa got the crowd to help them through a second attempt. Hey no one is perfect right? We also saw a change in outfits by Papa Emeritus into something a bit more comfortable, but still staying classy. If that surprise was not good enough for the Boston crowd, ‘Jigolo Har Megiddo’ was played acoustically and became quite a catchy sing-a-long. However, nothing lasts forever and Ghost made their leave until the next ritual.
Having first seen this band play with minimal stage props, set list, costumes, and audience, I am proud of this band. A lot of people can only say that Ghost is not original or is a stupid gimmick. And hey, people are entitled to that opinion. Personally, this band is a fresh air for heavy metal which is simply drowning in seas of “same old same old” from many of today’s leading metal bands. It is simple after all because if you have ghosts, you have everything.
WORDS BY TIM LEDIN
On the heels of releasing their new single, ‘Cirice’, Swedish occult rock band Ghost today announced a US headline tour, dubbed the “Black To The Future” tour. The dates begin at The Fillmore in Washington DC on September 2nd, and run until November 1st in Arizona. Suppport will come from Purson. The tour will be in support of the previously announced Meliora (Loma Vista/Spinefarm) album releasing on August 21st. Tickets for the tour go on sale this Friday, June 12th at 10 AM local time.
Ghost – “Black To The Future Tour” dates
Sept 22: The Fillmore – Washington, DC
Sept 23: Newport Music Hall- Columbus, OH
Sept 25: Stage AE- Pittsburgh, PA
Sept 26: Union Transfer- Philadelphia, PA
Sept 27: Terminal 5- New York, NY
Sept 28: House of Blues- Boston, MA
Sept 30: Metropolis: Montreal, QC
Oct. 01: Sound Academy- Toronto, ON
Oct. 02: The Majestic Theater- Detroit, MI
Oct. 03: The Riviera- Chicago, IL
Oct. 05: Liberty Hall- Lawrence, KS
Oct. 06: The Pageant- St. Louis, MO
Oct. 08: The Civic Auditorium- New Orleans, LA
Oct. 09: The Tabernacle- Atlanta, GA
Oct. 10: Beacham Theatre- Orlando, FL
Oct. 11: The Ritz- Tampa, FL
Oct. 13: House of Blues- Dallas, TX
Oct. 14: Aztec Theater- San Antonio, TX
Oct. 16: Sunshine Theater- Albuquerque, NM
Oct. 17: Sumitt Music Hall- Denver, CO
Oct. 19: Knitting Factory- Boise, ID
Oct. 20: El Corazon- Seattle, WA
Oct. 21: Roseland Theatre- Portland, OR
Oct. 23: Warfield- San Francisco, CA
Oct. 26: The Mayan Theater- Los Angeles, CA
Oct. 27: Knitting Factory- Reno, NV
Oct. 28: The Depot- Salt Lake City, UT
Oct. 30: Northside Park Theater- San Diego, CA
Oct. 31: House of Blues- Las Vegas, NV
Nov. 01: Monster Mash Festival- Phoenix, AZ
Generally speaking, I’m not too fond of retro rock and metal, but The Circle And The Blue Door by Purson really blew my mind. They are best described as a refreshing blend of progressive rock and pop music with a distinct retro feel. Frontwoman and main composer Rosalie Cunningham was more than happy to share her thoughts on anything Purson, the sudden rise of vintage/occult rock and her fondness for theatrics. Continue reading
When a band describes themselves as making “Vaudeville Carny Psych”, there’s a good chance you’re in for something out of the ordinary. In a world of musical labels some bands are trickier than others to define clearly. Question is: in spite of a tricky to categorise sound, is The Circle And The Blue Door any good? Continue reading