Dead Cross (Faith No More, ex Slayer, The Locust, Retox members) has been working on a new album for release at some point in 2020, but today they shared a cover as a new single. Black Flag’s searing ‘Rise Above’ has been covered by the band in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The band shared a video and a mission statement for the track you can see here.
Dead Cross – Rise Above (Black Flag cover) created in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and staunchly opposing police brutality and systemic racism. As such, the track opens with a recording of a Los Angeles resident voicing his displeasure with the LAPD during a public comment period from a regularly scheduled LA police commission meeting.
The video for “Rise Above” was edited by Displaced/Replaced. Filmed by Dave Lombardo, The Lonely Rager, and Becky DiGiglio. Track mixed by Jim Goodwin.
Follow Dead Cross on the band’s social media platforms:
Canadian power trio Danko Jones, led by their namesake rocker, podcaster, and author, has shared a brand new single, ‘Dance Dance Dance’! The track comes from their forthcoming new album, A Rock Supreme, due out on April 26th via M-Theory Audio (U.S.), Rise Above (UK), Indica (Canada, AU, NZ) and AFM (rest of the world) You can hear the track below. The band is also hitting the road for a short US tour in two weeks with support from Nashville Pussy and Prima Donna. Continue reading →
Founded in 2003, British rock outfit Gentleman’s Pistols are probably – and somewhat unfairly – best known as “that band Bill Steer joined after Carcass broke up.” This is a shame, because their new album is actually pretty good.
Hustlers Row is the band’s third album and first on Nuclear Blast after nearly a decade on Rise Above. Its 10 tracks play out like a walking tour of rock’s 70s heydays. Track by track you get a who’s who of classic rock influences shining though; Led Zeppelin (‘The Searcher’), Lynyrd Skynyrd (‘Stress and Confusion’) and Deep Purple (‘Personal Fantasy Wonderland’) are all present, and clearly Steer & Co know how to emulate their heroes’ boogie and jive. They’ve also got a good sense melody, and it’s easy to hear the likes of The Beatles (‘Lady Teaser’), CSNY (‘Hustler’s Row’) and Cream (‘Time Wasters’) shine through on the lighter moments.
This, however, is probably its biggest problem it’s a very good rock album without an identity of its own. Where, for example, Clutch’s new record Psychic Warfare sounds like a hard rock album only they could have made, Gentleman’s Pistols and Hustler’s Row sounds like a lot of (albeit very good) different bands without settling on their own distinct sound.
The late one-two of ‘Dazzle Drizzler’ and ‘Coz of You’ are probably the best example of the band getting into a groove without overtly playing tribute, and they’re probably the best moments on the album. There’s nothing wrong with Hustler’s Row; the vocals are great, the riffs and solos top-notch, and the song-writing more than solid. Even the production gives the whole thing a warm authentic sound that makes it feel like a genuine gem from 40 years ago.
Despite the lack of an identifiable “Gentleman’s Pistol” sound, Hustler’s Row is still a decent listen, and an album youngsters who’ve just discovered the likes Deep Purple and oldies who were there originally can enjoy together.
The term ‘retro rock’ is quite an ambiguous and, at times, ignorant one; used to describe any band that shows obvious traits from vintage bands whilst often ignoring when the band steps beyond these pigeonholes. Sweden’s Horisont have lived with the retro tag throughout their career with good reason up to this point, proving fairly rigid and set in their ways. On latest opus Odyssey (Rise Above) however, they have upped their game significantly.
Building on the slight elements of progressive rock on their last album, here those 70’s Prog influences are vivid and much more central to the album’s fabric, as evidenced by the opening 10 minute, synth driven title track. As much influenced by the likes of Jeff Wayne and Yes as the likes of Fleetwood Mac and even hints of psychedelic elements ala Hawkwind, Odyssey is a very colourful and quirky album that oozes character and charm with as many hooks as it has left-field signatures.
Where it suffers is in its duration; with two songs above the 8 minute mark and most others around 5-6 it proves a time consuming and somewhat arduous one to fully grasp and digest. Given time however and this has a wealth of gold to delve in to.
Where Horisont may have firm classic influences, from classic rock to the more progressive arena now, how they meld them together and evolve themselves shows why they are so much more than just a ‘retro rock’ act.
No less fun, but with a greater sense of discovery to them than many of their peers.
You can’t call yourself a proper prog band until you’ve attempted those two most indulgent of propositions… the ten minute long epic and the concept album. For their fourth album, Swedish retro rockers Horisonthaven’t just attempted both, they’re brazenly flaunting it, kicking the Rise Above released album off with ten minute prog opera and title track ‘Odyssey’.
“The whole thing started when we were joking around saying “Let’s do a 10 minute song”,” laughs vocalist and keys man Axel Söderberg. “We really did think of it as a joke at first. But then we came round to it saying “You know, we should really do that, it’d be really cool”. So we proceeded from there, building the other songs around the same subject and it came together. It’s one of those songs where a 10 minute song doesn’t feel like a 10 minute song, so, then it’s a good 10 minute song!!”
And what a subject it is, too. Raiding such luminiferous source materials as an entire book-shelf full of sci-fi paperbacks, and a life-time worth of Blakes 7 and Buck Rogers ideals, via a touch of War of the Worlds, the story of Odyssey“concerns a supreme race of mysterious beings” confirms bassist Magnus Delborg. Of course it does… but just what do we encounter these beings doing? “(they) experiment with the creation of life and start to populate planets around the universe. This is the story of one of those planets…”
“The main theme of the album is Magnus our bass players story,” affirms Söderberg before explaining how the title track served to feed the rest of the album. “When we started with this 10 minute song, that started with me buying a synthesizer and trying out the main riff and finding something that the song was going to evolve from.”
The main keyboard lick reminds me of Magnum (a band I never thought I’d reference when talking a new release in 2015). “Ha, yes, I like them. Well, the first album only” grins the voice of Horisont, before diverging more about his additional input to the album; synthesizers… “I’ve always played the keyboards and we never got around to using them live before. So now I’ve bought myself 3 proper keyboards, so it’s going to be nice trying it out live. I can’t drink as much, anymore, though…” he muses on his new live responsibilities with just a pang of regret in his voice.
The introduction of synthesizers has rounded out the Horisont sound, like the pair of Doc Martens that have finally stopped giving you blisters and now fit like a foot-glove. “I’m not really sure why it works better now”, is the shrugged reply. “It’s like, this album is more a mix of what we actually listen to. I listen to lots of Kansas. Not the “proper” prog groups like Yes or that, but more AOR prog-ish stuff is really what I like. So that shows on this album more than the others. We’re into UFO and Black Sabbath as well, obviously, but this one really reflects what we listen to.”
“We probably would have liked to have played this stuff before, but I don’t think we had the skills back then!”
It’s been a natural evolution, and a return to the music that is in their hearts. “We’ve played this kind of music for ten years now and genres and new kinds of music they come and go, but the classic rock sound is something that will always come back. Everyone that listens to rock in general always goes back to the classic bands.”
The amiable frontman gets sheepish about his love of the retro… “I started out singing in a Misfits and Danzig covers band! That was what pulled me into playing music, made me realize I could play music and it sounded OK! Then I proceeded from there, so I guess that’s my musical background – punk and hard rock.
“I’m actually really not that good at listening to new bands, because there’s no other bands like the classic bands. I do try to check out newer bands, but it’s been a long time since I bought a new record, put it that way.”
Not content with breaking new ground with Odyssey, the upcoming tour will also see the band pushing their horizon(t)s (#SorryNotSorry). “Yes, I just came back from practicing vocal harmonies… and we’ve got a lot of work, as that’s something we’ve never done before! We’re rehearsing hard for the tour and realizing how much work we have to do in learning the songs!”
But it seems like it is hard work that’s paying off. There seems to be a genuine buzz and interest in Odyssey and the bands fourth, most organic and natural album, appears to be the one set to raise their profile all across the board.
“I can feel it; it all feels promising. Yes, it’s looking good! We had more time writing and recording this album than before. All the other albums were a bit stressful, this one, though, just feels really good.”
Odyssey will be released on Friday 18th September via Rise Above Records
When doom metal legends Cathedral finally called it a day in 2013, there was much sadness but also a great outpouring of gratitude for the music recorded in their twenty-three year career as titans of the doom scene. A thoroughly British institution with a penchant for eccentricities, the quartet would in later years branch into stoner and prog territory, but their birth in 1990, with vocalist LeeDorrian having decided that life in Napalm Death wasn’t for him, came at a time when doom/death was in its infancy; and it was that sound, or rather a more traditional doom one that Cathedral would go for on their first demo In Memoriam. First re-issued in 1999, the time is now right to re-visit this first effort, again via Dorrian’s own Rise Above Records, and, with the benefit of hindsight, appreciate how bloody good Cathedral were.
Opening track ‘Mourning of a New Day’ is slow, ponderous and menacing, demonstrating the power of taking it slowly at a time when the rest of the world wanted to play as fast as possible. The guitar tone is stark and heavy, Lee Dorrian’s vocals are guttural and a tad awkward, and the whole thing seems drenched in a miasma of pain and sorrow with tales of vampire suns and Witchfinder Generals nowhere to be seen. A suitably downbeat cover of Pentagram’s classic ‘All Your Sins’ follows with all the hippie vibe stripped away before a grimly powerful early cut of ‘Ebony Tears’ rears its head. Final track ‘March’, a joyless, militaristic number doesn’t really go anywhere and would have been a better fit for industrial legends Godflesh, also newbies at that stage.
The live tracks, recorded in Europe in 1991 show a young band with a fiercely professional outlook and a tight, devastatingly weighty sound. The first three tracks of the demo are replicated here along with forgotten classic ‘Neophytes for the Serpent’s Eve’ from the band’s second demo and a gut-wrenching version of Forest of Equilibrium (Earache) classic ‘Intro/Commiserating the Celebration.’ Dorrian’s stage banter is polite and to the point and while the muffled cheers from the audience hint at Cathedral’s limited appeal in the early days, their skill and power was never in doubt.
A timely reminder of where it all began, when four miserable lads from Coventry decided to replicate the grimness of their surroundings and in doing so created one of the most important bands in the history of underground music. We are poorer for having lost them but with classic re-issues such as In Memoriam, their legacy will live on forever.
Gaz Jennings fancies his Occult Doom at present. Last year’s largely well-received Death Penalty project is followed by another female-fronted band of sinistras, this time headed by former vocalist of The Oath,Johanna Sadonis. Initially Lucifer I (Rise Above) sounds as if Black Sabbath have gone more up-tempo, and recruited Agnetha Faltskog to the mic, though with eerie harmonies flying through the dancing, patchouli-scented riffs of opener ‘Abracadabra’, the feel of ‘Goat Doom’ is still here if not quite the density.
There’s a curious tone to Sadonis’ voice, often laconically delivered yet soaring then swooping with a powerful, aching beauty. The brief harmonising in ‘Purple Pyramid’ is delicious, the odd sparse area lit up by The Wizards’ (Jennings’ pseudonym here) growling riffs and those siren-like pipes. Lighter moments may divide opinion, tripping close to a Folk-rock feel not unlike some of Cathedral’s stuff, yet they display welcome variation; the oft-faster than expected pace lifting the mood despite the plaintive voice and subject matter.
‘Sabbath’ finally, and rather aptly, shows us some serious weight, the thus-far barrelling journey slowed, that voice piercing the leaden, eastern-tinged riffs with a pleading agony. Whilst it’s easy to point out Sadonis as the star of the show, Jennings’ mastery of his instrument is supreme yet so subtle it’s almost unnoticed, taking each track to different characters of a story. This is reined in and directed superbly by Andrew Prestridge’s stunning drums: the bare minimum of flourish, just perfect inclusion and timing. All the ingredients fit together perfectly with the effortless switches and dual leads of the drugged-out pain in ‘Morning Star’: whilst the wonderful ‘Total Eclipse’ and ‘A Grave for Each One of Us’ flick from dreamy seduction to a rampant, roaring pummel and back in an instant, Dino Gollnick’s squirming bass underpinning Sadonis’ honeyed notes and coating some feverish riffs.
Full of more beauty, urgency and omen than Death Penalty could muster in one track, with a perfect blend of depth and air, this is a great first listen and improves with each successive experience. Wicked, in the original meaning of the term.
While preparing to launch her second band and release her second debut album in as many years, Johanna Sadonis, formerly of The Oath and now of Lucifer, spoke to Ghost Cult about the authentic sound of Lucifer I and why the music of yesteryear is at the core of her bands’ identity.
Lucifer I (Rise Above) has a very authentic, organic, warm 70’s sound to it. Was it difficult, in this age of Pro-tools and plug-ins to find place that would allow you to record in an older style way, and someone skilled enough to do it?
“I didn’t look in the places you would normally look for a band that plays rock and metal. I was working at a record store and there was a guy who plays session bass for a lot of different bands and he said he had to go to the studio to record something with guitar player from The Swans for a side project. He came back with 4 or 5 songs and he played them over the big system in the record shop. And I said “It sounds amazing. It sounds like a 1960’s Serge Gainsbourg record!”, so I asked how on earth did he do this in one day, and he said the guy they recorded with (Ingo Krauss) was a true wizard!”
“He actually used to run Conny Plank’s studio, the old hero of the Krautrock scene, and he told me it was full of vintage equipment, so I asked for the contact. It was good to take it out of the context of going to one of the normal metal studios.”
“It was a good thing to do. He did an amazing job and we were able to record live. You don’t have clicks so you have an organic flow to the music, and it can be a magic trick to have that. So, we went to an old studio with all this vintage equipment, and it sounds so much more organic, and you’re able to record live and you hear the little flaws. It’s not over-produced because that would take the life out of it.”
Occult rock is a very “in” scene to be involved in. Why do you think this is, and do you associate with the other bands coming from a similar vibe?
“I’m sure it’s popular for similar reasons. People realise where the real gems are lying. It’s hard in rock and metal to reinvent the wheel and (when people try to) there have been such abominations of style and sub-genres that have been looming over the last couple of decades that have been quite horrible, you know? Also the horrible productions…”
“You look, and you have to return to the roots. But a lot of bands do that, bands that have been around for a long time, maybe during the 90’s they had a horrible phase trying out other stuff that was in fashion then, but now they return to their raw roots, because they realise where it’s at.”
Ha! I always think of Paradise Lost when you talk about bands doing things like that. I loved the earlier stuff, then they took some musical decisions I didn’t like, and I lost touch, though I’m pleased to hear they’re supposed to be heading back to their earlier sound…
“I guess you have to do that if you play music for a long time because you don’t want to repeat yourself. But, hopefully after you make a horrible album you return to what’s right! But everyone does it – even Sabbath with the last album tried to re-invent the old feeling. Whether it worked or not is another question… Or Danzig, the last album is much more back to the roots and to a raw production.”
“I don’t compare Lucifer to other contemporary bands, even those in the same genre although I am friends with many of those bands. I respect their stuff, and we look back to the old influences. I’d rather have a band looking up to those old classics than trying to copy the copy of a copy.”
What is the attraction of a musical style and aesthetic that is older than you are?
“It’s part of a long journey. Being a metalhead for more than 20 years, and going through various different phrases I started with classic metal, of course, but then I went really into death and black and doom. But then when you get older and you start to open your mind a little more, you start to dig more into the historical paths of music.”
“When you’re a music nerd, you start digging, and I came to realize all the bands were based on these classic bands that have been there for 50 years, and you examine why have these bands been here for all this time. Why are Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep classic bands and so good? If you’re a music lover or musician you hear all that and it’s all genuine.”
“So, here I am, at this stage in my life and I have the taste of a 56 year-old man, you know!”
It’s weird, isn’t it, when you come round to listening to the same music as your parents did…
“Exactly! My Dad listened to Deep Purple, and my Mum was into rock n’roll. When I was 13/14, I thought this is not cool! You don’t want to listen to what your parents listen to, because you’re brought up with it. It’s not something you can find your own individual space, because your parents are there too. For me, it was Metallica and Danzig when I was 13. Later on you grow up and you realize “Oh shit! It’s amazing what my parents listen to! Give me all your records!!””
2014 saw the spectacular rise and burning fall of The Oath, a critically acclaimed (oc)cult NWOBHM / retro act, with the duo going their separate ways almost as soon as their self-titled debut (Rise Above) was released. A year on and Johanna Sadonis (vocals) is speaking to Ghost Cult from her home town of Berlin about the launch of Lucifer, her new phoenix from the flames, and their debut album, Lucifer I (Rise Above).
Lucifer’s debut album Lucifer I, is out less than a year after The Oath separated. Were these ideas you had in mind for a second Oath album?
“No, I just had a lot of ideas and a lot of energy, so when The Oath disbanded and died I was sitting there with empty hands. I thought about everything I had planned for The Oath and thought, no, I’m going to take this energy and channel it right away instead of being frustrated about it. It took me a few weeks to leave one thing behind and decide to go on. The ideas weren’t there before. If The Oath hadn’t disbanded, that would have been my band, and not with these ideas.”
“It wasn’t my choice for things to happen this way, but it turned out, in the end, to be a really good thing for me. As much as I loved The Oath, Lucifer has come even more so to be my thing, so now I’m even more passionate about Lucifer.”
You turned to Gaz Jennings (Cathedral/Death Penalty) as a writing partner…
“I’d been in contact with Lee (Dorrian – former Cathedral frontman and Rise Above head honcho) all during The Oath falling apart, and he was someone I was seeking out to speak to – and he said “Hey, why don’t you ask Gaz, because he really likes The Oath”. Garry’s crazy, he plays so much guitar and has so many riffs piling up so I asked, and he said yes straight away.”
“I love Cathedral. I saw them for first time over 20 years ago, when I was 15, so we started writing and I gave him ideas for the types of riffs. I gave him certain songs as references, like “How about you make a song that sounds like a ballad from Scorpions In Trance album, or how about a Technical Ecstasy Sabbath kind of song.”
“I gave him suggestions, and he came back with riffs, so we could structure the songs together.”
While there are similarities across the two bands, there seems to be a much stronger 70’s rock bent to Lucifer, less of the NWOBHM influence that was prevalent in The Oath…
“After The Oath split up, I sat down and formed the concept in my head, so it was planned for Lucifer to be different to The Oath.”
“I really loved The Oath for what it was, and there is a common core to the sounds, particularly in terms of the influences; Black Sabbath being the main influence for me, for Garry (Jennings), also Linnea (Olsen – The Oath)’s favourite band.”
“But, the two differ so much in their guitar playing. Linnea, she had a more punky, raw, Motorhead kind of style that fit really well with the NWOBHM thing we were doing with The Oath. Garry’s playing is more complex, heavier on the doom.”
“I didn’t want to repeat The Oath as I felt the best thing in a situation like this is just to do something new.”
Kent, UK based folk rock sextet Galley Beggar will be releasing their third album Silence & Tears on May 19, 2015 via Rise Above. The eight tracks on the new album span traditional song, Gothic balladry and peculiarly British acid rock, the mood alternately fragile and robust, with sweet vocal harmonies (led by Maria O’Donnell), lyrical guitar playing from Mat and his cohort David Ellis, and added texture from the violin of Celine Marshall (calling to mind Mr. Fox’s Carolanne Pegg), all anchored by Bill Lynn‘s steady bass and Paul Dadswell’s deft drumming. The material spans reworkings of the ancient classics Geordie and Jack Orion, brooding ballads like Adam & Eve and the otherworldy “Empty Sky”, and the intense 9-minute epic “Pay My Body Home”, which triumphantly recalls folk-rock’s early 70s glory days.