Category: Heavy Metal

With the release of their first three albums in five years –2011’s Shoot! , 2013’s All Of Them Witches and 2014’s Enfant Terrible — The Hedvig Mollestad Trio have managed to receive praise and attention internationally from both jazz and rock critics across the blogosphere and major media outlets, including Rolling Stone‘s senior editor David Fricke and veteran writer Richard Williams among others for a sound that meshes elements acid jazz, free jazz, jazz fusion, but heavy metal, psych rock, stoner rock and prog rock in a way that to my ears reminds me quite a bit of Ecstatic Vision, Hawkwind, Rush, and others. And as a result, the band has placed themselves on a growing list of Norwegian avant jazz ‘n’ rock/free metal/free jazz acts that have received attention across their homeland, Scandinavia and elsewhere that includes Elephant9, Grand General, Bushman’s Revenge, Krokofant and Scorch, the renowned act led by Finnish guitarist Raoul Björkenheim, who have been long considered as the forefront of the movement.

The trio comprised of Hedvig Mollestad (guitar), Ellen Brekken (bass) and Ivar Loe Bjørnstad (drums) just released their latest effort Black Stabat Mater yesterday and reportedly, the material on the album is heavily indebted to the newfound confidence and self-assuredness the members of the band found during an intense touring schedule; but also revealing a band that has expanded upon the sound that initially won them international attention. In fact, Black Stabat Mater‘s four compositions still manage to possess the improvised feel of jazz fusion and free jazz but while arguably being the most prog rock/stoner rock/heavy metal leaning material they’ve released to date, essentially crafting an album that effortlessly blurs the lines of jazz, metal, stoner rock and prog rock — and in a way that nods to the jazz fusion experiments of the 70s while being remarkably contemporary.

Considered the effort’s first two tracks “Approaching: On Arrival” is an expansive, twisting and turning composition that begins with Bjørnstad’s jazz-like syncopation, Brekken’s sinuous yet propulsive bass lines and Mollestad’s bluesy guitar chords during the composition’s lengthy introduction before quickly morphing into a stoner rock and prog rock stomp, complete with some serious guitar pyrotechnics. At the 7:15 mark the composition becomes a wildly free-flowing and kaleidoscopic array of feedback, thundering drumming, blistering guitar playing reminiscent of John Coltrane‘s late, experimental work — and in a similar fashion, the composition possesses a mind and conscious-altering quality. “In The Court Of The Trolls” is composition comprised of alternating sludgy, prog rock/stoner rock and trippy psychedelic, acid jazz sections and while much like the preceding track feels completely loose and improvised, also reveals a band that’s incredibly tight; in fact, there’s the sense that one musician puts an idea down and the rest will follow, knowing exactly where and when to take it. Track 4 “-40 is a gorgeous and contemplative composition featuring gently swirling and undulating feedback with a gorgeous guitar solo while album closing track “Somebody Else Should Be On That Bus” begins with a heavy, Charles Mingus-styled bass introduction before turning into a sludgy, power chord-heavy composition that sounds as though it were inspired by Queens of the Stone Age and others.

So far, 2016 has bee a mixed year for me as far as album-length releases but I may have stumbled across one of my favorite releases this year, as the Norwegian trio specialize in an uncompromising and exciting genre meshing and genre defying sound. But I think that the album should also reveal that Hedvig Mollestad is arguably one of the best guitarists that everyone should know right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Video: The 80s Horror Movie-Inspired Visuals for Zig Zags’ “Giving Up The Ghost”

With the release of their debut effort In The Red, Los Angeles, CA-based thrash punk trio Zig Zags –-comprised of Jed Maheu (guitar/vocals), Caleb Miller (bass/vocals), and Dane Arnold (drums) — quickly received attention for a blistering, face-melting, no-bullshit thrash metal/thrash punk aesthetic that sounds as though it owes a massive debt to early 80s Metallica, Slayer,Iron Maiden and others. Last month, I wrote about album single “The Sadist,”a single off the trio’s recently released Running Out of Red that helped to further cement the trio’s reputation for pairing scuzzy, face-melting, mosh-pit friendly power chords guitar pyrotechnics, propulsive drumming and shouted vocals. Unsurprisingly, the album’s latest single “Giving Up The Ghost” continues on the exact same vein as “The Sadist” — although the latest single manages to directly channel Kill ‘Em All and Ride the Lightning-era Metallica in such an uncanny way that the songs manages to sound as though it could have been released in 1983.

The recently released music video is deeply indebted to cheap 80s horror flicks as a denim vest wearing zombie stalks an adorable, little skateboarding badass, who narrowly escapes him — in true horror movie fashion.

With the release of their debut effort In The Red, Los Angeles, CA-based thrash punk trio Zig Zags –comprised of Jed Maheu (guitar/vocals), Caleb Miller (bass/vocals), and Dane Arnold (drums) — quickly received attention for a blistering, face-melting, no-bullshit thrash metal/thrash punk aesthetic that sounds as though it owes a massive debt to early 80s Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden and others. “The Sadist,” the latest single off the soon-to-be released Running Out of Red will further cement the trio’s reputation for pairing scuzzy, face-melting, ass-kicking power chords guitar pyrotechnics, propulsive drumming and shouted vocals. It’s the sound of kids with very little options, shitty lives and shittier jobs, playing in garages and basements, wishing for something — hell, anything to happen to break up the tedium of their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up until last year, there hadn’t been many comprehensive photo-metal, pre-stoner rock compilations, until the Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA-based distributor Permanent Records record store, along with  RidingEasy Records released a carefully curated compilation of incredibly rare photo-metal and pre-stoner rock singles from the 60s and 70s on Brown Acid: The First Trip. Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi and RidingEasy Records’ Daniel Hall complied a second volume of rare proto-metal and pre-stoner rock from the 60s and 70s, Brown Acid: The  Second Trip, which is slated (fittingly enough) for release on April 20.

Much like the first volume, the duo not only spent time collecting, compiling and then curating the material, they also spent a great deal of time tracking down the songs creators, often bands who haven’t been together in over 30 or 40 years, and encouraging them to take part in the entire process.  As Barresi explained in press notes for the first compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been huge given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.” And by having the artists actually participate in the entire process, it can give the artists and their songs a second chance at some much deserved attention — if not a second chance at success.

Now, over the past month or two I’ve written about The Second Trip’s first single Ash’s “Midnight Witch,” a single that would likely remind many listeners of Mountain‘s “Mississippi Queen,” Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” and early Black Sabbath as layers of huge, sludgy and bluesy power chords were  paired with a driving rhythm and soulful vocals — but with a deeply psychedelic feel. Amazingly, although the song was originally released more than 35 years ago, it sounds and feels as though it could have been released today as several contemporary bands have adopted a similar sound, including the likes of Ecstatic Vision. The compilation’s second single Crossfield’s “Take It” managed to sound and feel like a surreal amalgamation of Black Sabbath, The Rolling StonesThe Animals (in particular, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”) and The Doors  as blistering and scorching guitar chords are paired with soaring keyboard chords and thundering drumming with unusual tempo changes and chord progression changes that make the song feel and sound as though it were a prog rock precursor — all while giving the song an expansive, tripping off hallucinogens in the desert feel and tone. The Second Trip‘s third and latest single Iron Knowledge’s “Show Stopper” meshes elements of glam metal, metal and seemingly hip-hop and funk-inspired hip-hop breakbeats in a song that metalhead and hip-hop DJs would instantly love.

 

 

 

If you were frequenting this site last year, you may recall coming across posts on Toronto, ON-based proto-metal/doom metal trio CROSSS. And although the band is rather mysterious and little is publicly known about the band’s personnel I can tell you that the band, which originally began as a Halifax, Nova Scotia-based duo, went through several lineup changes before relocating to Toronto and settling on the band’s current configuration. Since relocating to Toronto, the trio have developed a reputation for crating murky, sludgy and intense dirges that are deeply inspired by proto-done, lo-fi indie rock, noise rock and metal, and as a result bear a sonic resemblance to the likes of Black SabbathA Place to Bury Strangers and others — but more bottom heavy and doom-laden as you’ll hear on “Interlocutor,” off their last effort, LO which, was release to quite a bit of attention across the blogosphere.

Naturally, as a result of the attention they received, the Canadian trio opened for the likes of Viet CongBuilt to Spill, Thee Oh SeesKing TuffDirty BeachesPop1280,  Oneida, Built to Spill, METZ, Grimes, Fuzz and Moon Duo among a growing list. But adding to a growing profile, CROSSS announced that they had recently signed to Joyful Noise Recordings, who will re-issue the trio’s first two efforts, 2013’s Obsidian Spectre and the aforementioned LO — and they also announced that they’ll be releasing their third full-length effort later on this year. In the meantime, check out “Eye Seance” a doom-laden and lo-fi-leaning dirge  that has the trio pairing rumbling down-tuned bass, enormous power chords with howled vocals in a song that sounds like an existential howl into an indifferent and cruel void.

The band will be embarking on a Stateside tour throughout the end of this month and April, and it includes a NYC area stop. Check out tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates:

3/25-3/26: Indianapolis, IN
3/27: Milwaukee, WI @ Quarters
3/28: Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
4/27: Toronto, ON @ Smiling Buddha
4/20: Montreal, QC @ La Vitrola
4/21: Boston, MA @ O’Briens
4/22: Brooklyn, NY @ The Acheron
4/23: Philadelphia, PA @ TBA
4/24: Baltimore, MD @ The Crown
4/26: Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place

 

 

 

Denver-based post-metal, instrumental trio Cult of the Lost Cause have developed a reputation for compositions that eschew solos and jam-based songs and focuses on dynamic songs that balance a sense of beauty with a muscular insistence — and for songs that can stand up to the live concert experience as you’ll hear on the enormous, cinematic, power-chord  driven “All Those Opposed” off the band’s soon to be released Contritions, which is slated for a February 26 release through Sailor Records. Sonically, the song manages to remind me quite a bit of Irata‘s self titled effort; however, without the psychedelic jazz leanings.

 

Up until last year, there hadn’t been many comprehensive photo-metal, pre-stoner rock compilations, until the Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA-based distributor Permanent Records record store, along with  RidingEasy Records released a carefully curated compilation of incredibly rare photo-metal and pre-stoner rock singles from the 60s and 70s on Brown Acid: The First Trip. Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi and RidingEasy Records’ Daniel Hall have complied a second volume of rare proto-metal and pre-stoner rock from the 60s and 70s, Brown Acid: The  Second Trip, which is slated (fittingly enough) for release on April 20.

Much like the first volume, the duo not only spent time collecting, compiling and then curating the material, they also spent a great deal of time tracking down the songs creators, often bands who haven’t been together in over 30 or 40 years, and encouraging them to take part in the entire process.  As Barresi explained in press notes for the first compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been huge given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.” And by having the artists actually participate in the entire process, it can give the artists and their songs a second chance at some much deserved attention — if not a second chance at success.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you may recall that just a few weeks ago, I wrote about The Second Trip‘s first single, Ash’s “Midnight Witch.” That single would likely remind many listeners of Mountain‘s “Mississippi Queen,” Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” and early Black Sabbath as layers of huge, sludgy and bluesy power chords were  paired with a driving rhythm and soulful vocals — but with a deeply psychedelic feel. Amazingly, although the song was originally released more than 35 years ago, it sounds and feels as though it could have been released today as several contemporary bands have adopted a similar sound, including the likes of Ecstatic Vision. The compilation’s second single Crossfield’s “Take It” manages to sound and feel like a surreal yet sensible amalgamation of Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, The Animals (in particular, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”) and The Doors and others as blistering and scorching guitar chords are paired with soaring keyboard chords and thundering drumming with unusual tempo changes and chord progression changes that make the song feel and sound as though it were a prog rock precursor — all while giving the song an expansive, tripping off hallucinogens in the desert feel and tone.

 

 

 

With the release of their 2012 self-titled debut and its follow up 2014’s Mountain, the Visalia, CA-based quartet Slow Season, comprised of Daniel Rice (vocals, guitar), David Kent (guitar), Hayden Doyel (bass), and Cody Tarbell (drums), the Visalia, CA-based quartet Slow Season quickly developed a regional profile for a bluesy and heavy rock sound that’s heavily indebted to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and others — but without the being soulless mimicry. RidingEasy Records released a remixed and remastered version of their self-titled debut at the end of last year, and while working on their third full-length effort, the Visalia, CA-based quartet released a 7 inch featuring covers of Black Sabbath and Cactus; however, the band released two singles from their debut — the Led Zeppelin “Immigrant Song” channeling guitar line, thundering drums and howled drums of “Heavy” and the slow-burning, bluesy, harmonica-led “Bring It on Home” meets Howlin’ Wolf channeling “DayGlo Sunrise.”

Certainly, if you didn’t know that the band was contemporary, you’d probably think that these two singles were recorded in 1967 and were recently re-discovered by someone who had been digging through the crates of a used record store somewhere.

The band is playing a couple of live dates across Southern California. Check them out below.

LIVE DATES:
02/19 San Diego, CA @ The Merrow  w/ JOY and OVVL
02/20 Visalia, CA @ The Cellar Door  w/ Beastmak