Well, that was quite the trip, but in like, a good way. There wasn’t some breakthrough moment of introspective self-discovery or anything of the sort for me but making it through Asclepius (Southern Lord) does feel nice. Where these songs written well ahead of time or were they discovered and jammed out through the recording process? Don’t know and don’t quite care. Iceburn somehow made it work and sound natural.
Tool marked the 15th anniversary of the release of their 10,000 Days (Volcano, Tool Dissectional) album on May 2nd, 2021 with a new line of special themed merch. Among the typical shirts, hoodies, and hats, there are pillows, pint glasses, a sherpa blanket, and the Vicarious single/video DVD for sale at their store. 2021 is a special year for Tool album milestones as Lateralus (read our review here) just turned 20 years old, and Ænima will see a 25th anniversary this fall. The band was supposed to be on the road touring being Fear Inoculum, but has been largely inactive since the lockdown as vocalist Maynard James Kennan contracted COVID-19 twice and released a new album with Puscifer, while Adam Jones put out an instrumental single and video with the help of fellow bandmates Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor.
In the year of our lord, two-thousand and one, a musical miracle happened. After years embroiled in the first (and certainly not the last) major album jeopardizing lawsuit of their career, Tool, released Laterals (Volcano). The David Botrill produced album kicked off a new musical era for the band that was only hinted at on 1996’s Aenima (Volcano).
The biggest challenge for prodigious talents Henry, Eli, and Abe Ismert is the need to shift the narrative from discussion around their ages (18, 16 and 13 respectively) and their undoubted potential to the types of plaudits and eulogies that adorn the releases of the artists they aspire to be considered in the same breath as; the Mastodon’s and Gojira’s of our twisted, alternative Metal world. Previously released via Bandcamp in the COVID-restricted summer of 2020, the brothers from Kansas City are re-issuing their debut Grand Currents (self-released) on the back of a groundswell of support for singles ‘Sediment’ and ‘Foundation’, this time accompanied by a physical release.
An album of peaks and valleys, when flying high Grand Currents achieves that aim of refocusing the story to one of deserved acclaim. A twisted post-Thrash underbelly is a tough core that provides a grounding to a progressive modern Metal mentality, holding the expansive sensibilities on a tight leash that the brothers may do better to loosen on further releases. For it is those moments that seek to crack the skye that do Hammerhedd the most credit: halfway through ‘Drone’ and the Voivod-ian cortex wraps itself around a rhythmic Tool-esque build, or the discordant judder of the back-nine of ‘Sediment’. When they indulge their musical expressionism they really show their hand and talk of potential begins to be realised.
Yet, their greatest weapon also highlights their greatest shortcoming. While Henry Ismert is expansive and able to find twisted barbs in his guitar work, exploring spaces that Mastodon and Helmet have opened up, his rudimentary vocal output undermines both the finished artistic product, and the bands reach and appeal. To make the step that Hammerhedd (and let’s be honest, the band name doesn’t help either but we’re probably too far down that line to unwind that one…) could potentially make and to invade the alternative conscience in the ways the aforementioned other Progressive Metal leading lights have, they will need to find a way to bring the vocal performance up to the technical level of the other instruments on display, in a way the ideas and musical vision deserves.
Still, time is on their side. And Grand Currents possesses more than just flashes of potential. It does intimate there is more to come, yes, which can only be a good thing, and it is also a valid and worthwhile investment of your time, even if only to have been onboard for if and when they do find a way to raise the vocals to the level of the other instruments somewhere down the line.
Buy the album here: https://linktr.ee/hammerhedd
6 / 10
This weekend Maynard James Keenan’s (Tool, a perfect circle) band Puscifer will host a livestream event in which they will perform all of their 2016 Money $hot album in full. Enter to win tickets from Ghost Cult at this link! This weekend’s activities follow their first livestream for their Existential Reckoning album release event last fall. In a new interview with Revolver, Kennan revealed since the band doesn’t know when touring will resume for them, they expect to do more livestreams and mentioned both the Conditions of My Parole and V is For Vagina albums as examples. He also discusses his recovery from COVID-19 (twice), his love of Lucha Libre Wrestlers, some of the storyline behind the ongoing characters in the music of Puscifer, and much more.
Machine Head performed another of their quarantine era “Electric Happy Hour” sessions where Robb Flynn is often joined by bassist Jared MacEachern. They perform a set every Friday and this week they deep cuts like “Spine”, hits like “From This Day”, as well as covers of Dio-era Black Sabbath – “Die Young,” Tool – “Sober” and Metallica – “The Memory Remains”. Watch now!
In a press conference this morning and stating “We Simply Cannot Stay Closed,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that New York State will open arenas and other large capacity venues to the public with only 10% capacity and assigned seating, on Feb. 23rd, provided they receive a negative (PCR) COVID-19 test within 72 hours before an event. This is meant to open up venus to not only shows and concerts but to continue to grow for use as mass vaccination centers, sports games, and other events. This has been the first ray of light for the concert and touring industry since the pandemic broke out, even though major concert agencies and even the worlds leading infectious disease doctors predicted shows would comeback in fall 2021 or sooner. Declaring New York state’s demonstration with the Buffalo Bills an “unparalleled success,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday he will extend the testing- based program to any large stadium or arena later this month. Barclays Center, the site of concerts from Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Tool, and others, has been cleared to reopen on that day and has been granted approval to host fans for the Nets game against the Sacramento Kings, Cuomo said, adding, “Anyone else who is interested should let us know.” Watch the video below.
Music legend Maynard James Keenan (Tool, Puscifer, a perfect circle) appeared on STROMBO’s show on Apple Music Hits to reflect on Puscifer’s most recent album, share stories about his peers, mental health, and his experience getting COVID-19 twice. Listen to STROMBO interview MJK at Apple Music and read select quotes from their chat below.
Deftones had a banner year in 2020, dropping their impeccable Ohms (Reprise Records, review here) and celebrating the 20th anniversary of arguably their best album, White Pony. Unbeknownst to fans, and music journos, there is an entire secret history of White Pony the band revealed this year. For years we had been hearing that the band was interested in a remix album, either of an entire past release or perhaps a new album. It turns out, the band always intended White Pony to have a companion album or EP of remixes, called Black Stallion. Among the fanbase, this potential release lived in the lore of their minds, as much or more than the Eros sessions we may, or may not ever see the light of day (and we understand why guys). Now the band has capped off their year with the fleshed out and realized Black Stallion release (also Reprise).
Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino has been bullish on concerts and festivals returning in 2021 and now we have further evidence that he is convinced of this idea. According to a published report by Kerrang (via IQ Mag) Rapino spoke on an Investors call on November 5th in which he said expects concerts to return “at scale” next year, depending on the region.He further shared that the promoters were working on a “roadmap to get back to live safely”, with current “progress on testing technology treatments and vaccines” looking encouraging. Though Michael admitted the “exact timeline of this return will vary by region, and so we continue to focus on remaining flexible”, he added that Live Nation “expect shows at scale next summer”.