Saturday, 26 July 2014

Choice Cuts: Dragonfly - S/T (1968)



The Band:

  • Jack Duncan | Bass Guitar
  • Barry Davis | Drums and Vocals
  • Gerry Jimerfield | Lead Vocals and Guitar
  • Randy Russ | Lead Guitar and Vocals
  • Ernie McElwaine | Keyboards

Review:

So if you’re anything like me you’re the kind of listener who keeps an open ear for new heavy music, hoping to discover a band who will inspire you, challenge you, and give you a little something you haven’t heard from other groups, but you’ve also learned the importance of looking to artists from the past.  Anyone who knows anything about music knows that contemporary metal couldn’t have evolved to its current state without a few core groups from the beginning, (the same ones that pretty much any heavy band will cite as influences.)  Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, and even next generation bands like Pentagram and Budgie, are generally given the nod when it comes to laying the foundations for what has come to be known as “heavy.”  Late ‘60s/early ‘70s “heavy” was its own kind of beast.  Amplifier technology still had a way to go before guitarists were able to get that classic metal “crunch,” and it goes without saying that most of these bands were a far cry from the prominent peace and love flavor of the day.  They relied on volume, thick guitars, pounding “bucket” drums, and bass lines that slithered like snakes in order to get that classic, minor key “bummer” sound.  The end results naturally freaked out lots of folks, but for many others, this music was an intoxicating beginning to a lifelong obsession.  

Regardless of the immense success of the aforementioned groups, most heavy bands from that magical period of 1968 to 1972 simply fell to the wayside, becoming nothing but fodder for old dude conversations in pubs and record stores, or prized gems for fanboy collectors.  Sometime in the early ‘90s I visited my favorite record store in Newport News, Virginia, (American Oldies Records, which is surprisingly still there today.)  I asked the owner, Doug Crane, if he knew of any gems I should be looking for.  By this time I had developed a reputation with all the older guys there as the 19 year old shopper who “knew what was up.”  I was known as the young guy who loved Blue Cheer, Sabbath, the Stooges and the MC5, and who was always on the lookout for anything remotely of that ilk.  It was then when I was introduced to Dragonfly, a late ‘60s heavy psych band from Denver, Colorado who relocated to Los Angeles in hopes of starting a thriving recording career.

Sadly, like many other heavy bands during their time, their record did not sell, did not catch on with people, and they were inevitably dejected and denounced, becoming nothing but a hidden diamond in the rough.  

Doug had gotten a hold of some shady European CD reissue of the band’s only album, a self titled, fuzzed-out masterpiece from 1968 with nothing on the cover but, (surprise, surprise,) a dragonfly.  When he queued the disc for me and played the opening track, “Blue Monday,” I swear I stopped breathing.  Ironically, the very first thing you hear on the track is a faint voice croaking the words, “Oh, my god.”  That was precisely my reaction after hearing that pure onslaught of fuzz and fury.  The entire record rocks hard and grooves with sublime musicianship.  The lead singer, Gerry Jimerfield, sounds like a considerably less drunken Jim Morrison, providing the perfect blues howl to the fuzzed-out bummer rock of “Blue Monday.”  To this day, it’s still one of my all-time favorite album openers.  The band definitely wasn’t dicking around when they chose this song as the first track.  It’s down-tuned to the key of D, (a technique still heavily utilized to this very day,) has vicious guitar tones, and the rhythm absolutely pummels the listener.

Like most other heavy bands from the late ‘60s, Dragonfly’s obvious influences were Jimi Hendrix and The Who.  The drummer, Barry Davis, gets his Keith Moon on all throughout the record, particularly on the “I Can See for Miles”-esque, “Portrait of Youth.”  For those of you with a penchant towards head-trip psychedelia, there are plenty such moments.  Album closer, “Miles Away,” strays from its anthemish beginning and dives into some serious lysergic moments before coming full circle to the charging opening riff and its cold, COLD stop.  A very sudden ending to a nonstop rocker of an album.  It always leaves me thinking, “Did I just experience that?”  Because that’s precisely what this album is for me every time I listen to it, an experience.


If you need some Dragonfly in your life, your best bet is to scour the Internet to see if you can find CD reissues, as the original vinyl pressing is near impossible to find and will probably cost you close to $400.00.  Dragonfly was no Blue Cheer nor were they Deep Purple, but they are a fine example of the timeless power of heavy music.  And even though those five kids from Colorado probably spent many years of their young lives wondering, “Where did it all go wrong?” in terms of their subsequent obscurity, their music lives on and continues to influence and inspire many lovers of “heavy.”

Words: Erik Sugg

You can pick up the CD here

Album details:

Originally released in 1968, the record was recently reissued on CD via Sunbeam Records

‘Dragonfly’ tracklisting:

1. Blue Monday
2. Enjoy Yourself
3. Hootchie Kootchie Man
4. I Feel It
5. Trombodo
6. Portrait of Youth
7. Crazy Woman
8. She Don't Care
9. Time Has Slipped Away
10. To Be Free
11. Darlin'
12. Miles Away

Notes:

Group Info for Legend (Later known as Dragonfly)was taken from techwesound

This band, also loosely later known as Dragonfly, was originally from Colorado, but bounced back and forth between there and L.A. to record and issue records. Members included Jack Duncan (bass), Barry Davis (drums, background vocals), Gerry Jimerfield (guitar, lead vocals), Randy Russ (guitar, background vocals) and Ernie McElwaine (keyboards).
The band's origins can be traced to El Paso, TX where in 1965 Duncan and Davis met each other and became fast friends while playing in a group called the Pawns. Getting word that the Pawns were going to be playing a gig in Farmington, NM, Coloradoans Jimerfield and McElwaine took a road trip down south to check them out and were very impressed. At 26, Jimerfield was a bit more seasoned and had already played the L.A. scene, appearing on the show 'Hullabaloo' as well as more recently fronting his own band called the Lords Of London back in Colorado. Citing his L.A. connections, Jimerfield soon convinced Duncan and Davis to quit the Pawns and relocate to Durango, CO where they could stay at his parents' motel and form a new ensemble. The band rehearsed there for a couple of months and soon decided they needed to add a second guitar player. Duncan and Davis suggested Russ, who they knew from their El Paso days. The group was completed when Russ agreed to move up to Durango and join up.

In early 1967, the band, now calling themselves the Lords Of London, moved to the Denver area where they played a lot of clubs and eventually became a frequent opening act at Chet Helms' Family Dog theatre. Getting restless in Colorado, they then bounced out to L.A. for a brief stint where they changed their name to the Jimerfield Legend, but soon moved back to good old Colorado in time for the 1967 Summer of Love.
By 1968, they had moved back to L.A., shortened their name to the Legend and signed with the local label Megaphone, releasing three 45s and a full length, self-titled LP. The album contains mostly pre-psychedelic covers, and according to Duncan, the instrumentation was mostly played by non-group session musicians. However, the second 45 released as the Legend, contains two excellent non-LP originals ('Portrait Of Youth' b/w 'Enjoy Yourself'), which were later significantly redone and appear again on the 'Dragonfly' LP. Unfortunately all of the records fell flat in sales and the band again moved back to Colorado, where they continued to remain a well received live act. At around this time, McElwaine left the group and was not replaced.

In 1969, the same executives who represented the Legend recordings, saw the band playing at their old haunt, the Denver Family Dog, and were now further amazed by their originality and musicianship. This time, the record execs promised to allow the band to cut an LP of original material, so they packed up again for L.A. and recorded what was to become the 'Dragonfly' LP at Amigo and I.D. Studios in North Hollywood. This album is absolutely amazing and includes several outstanding, harder psychedelic originals, most of which are played on TWOS and credited to the Dragonfly moniker. At the time of release, the record did get some modest airplay on L.A. radio, but unfortunately it didn't sell well and the group broke up soon after its release. Jimerfield has since passed away, but Duncan, Davis and Russ are still active musicians to this day.


You an also read an in depth interview with Randy Russ from 2013 here

Monuments - The Amanuensis (Album Review)



Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/6/2014
Label: Century Media Records

MONUMENTS “The Amanuensis” track listing (50:21):

1. I, The Creator (3:56)
2. Origin Of Escape (4:03)
3. Atlas (3:22)
4. Horcrux (4:46)
5. Garden Of Sankhara (4:48)
6. The Alchemist (4:35)
7. Quasimodo (5:02)
8. Saga City (4:44)
9. Jinn (4:08)
10. I, The Destroyer (5:46)
11. Samsara (5:11)

The Band:

Chris Barretto | Vocals, saxophone
John Browne | Guitar
Olly Steele | Guitar
Adam Swan | Bass
Mike Malyan | Drums, samples

Review:

Sometimes, Fate lends a hand in your musical expansion.  For a fair while now, friends have been telling me about the immense power of a London-based progressive metal band named Monuments.  Apparently their debut album ‘Gnosis’ was about as crushing an album you can get without causing yourself internal injury.  Sadly, the album passed me by and my life went on without Monuments. 

Then I receive my latest batch of albums to review.  We meet at last, Monuments.  And here we have your brand new album, ‘The Amanuensis’.  I had to look it up: apparently, amanuensis is a person who writes down texts dictated to them by another, sort of like a middle-man between the art and the artist.  Fascinating, I mused.  Then, I actually listened to the album… 

Fate, you sly old fox.  You’ve done it again. 

Although they hate the term ‘djent’, their album certainly doesn’t look out of place within that hard-hitting genre.  They have that Messhuggah attack and crazy polyrhythms, and their blast beats could level hillocks.  However, this is tempered with spacey, nuanced melodies which are interspersed through the album’s 11 tracks: it reminded me of Polish prog metallers DispersE and their subtle, slicing riffery.  John Browne revealed that this album’s inspiration came from the Samsara, which is the belief in the continual and never ending cycle of life, death and rebirth.  And some people think metal is for Neanderthals?  For shame, general public.  For shame. 

Let’s talk about the music.  And it is music of a violent and vital calibre: as soon as opener ‘I The Creator’ slithers and strikes out at you, you have been struck by a wicked and potent venom.  Ex-Periphery vocalist Chris Barretto takes on the mantle of a divine yet angry God, handing out soothing vocals like blessings, and then striking out with guttural roars as righteous displays of power he wields.  Bow down. 

This quintet has created an album that inspires, innovates and incapacitates unwary elderly folk who happen to catch a listen without prior warning.  ‘Atlas’ is a personal favourite of mine, combining a Hatebreed-meets-Messhuggah groove with soul-searing vocal harmonies and sumptuous time shifts.  And then there’s ‘I The Destroyer’.  Mike Malyan, I don’t know how your legs haven’t fallen off with that relentless pace you keep up behind the kit: what I do know is that I hope you keep it up for many, many years to come.  Added to this drumming behemoth is the brutal, chainsaw guitars that hack and tear through speakers and eardrums with equal ease. 

‘The Amanuensis’ is an album that should send Monuments hurtling into the pantheon of modern metal gods.  As they take their place among the hallowed elite, they will look at what their latest offering had done to the metal populace, and smile in dark satisfaction.  As with their subject matter, their album will continually live and be reborn in the never ending cycle of music.  This is musical Samsara: what a marvelous thing to behold. 

Words by: Chris Markwell

You can get a copy here

For more information:


Weedeater - ...And Justice For Y'all Reissue (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length (Reissue)
Date Released: 29/8/2014
Label: Season of Mist

‘And Justice for Y’all CD/DD/LP track listing:

1. Tuesday Night
2. Monkey Junction
3. Free
4. Hungry Jack
5. Shitfire
6. Calico
7. Truck Drivin Man
8. Southern Cross
9. #86
10. Bucket

Bio:

The South will smoke again. The Bible Belt state of North Carolina, USA seems a fertile ground for hemp and stoner rock. When cult sludge act BUZZOV•EN called it a day, bass player Dave "Dixie" Collins teamed up with guitarist Dave "Shep" Shepherd and founded WEEDEATER in the harbor town of Wilmington about the year 1998. Their crushing and massive first full-length "…and Justice for Y’all" created an immediate buzz, while critics were struggling to put a tag on their sound. Nearly everybody agreed that stoner rock, doom, sludge and some crusty elements were part of the mix, which the band simply calls "weed metal". The debut was produced by renowned engineer Billy Anderson (EYEHATEGOD, NEUROSIS) as well as sophomore album "Sixteen Tons" (2002).

WEEDEATER went out to perform live with CORROSION OF CONFORMITY and ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY among others. After some detours of Dixie Dave, who played shortly with BONGZILLA and SOURVEIN, the third album "God Luck and Good Speed" hit the world in 2007 and shifted the band’s focus slightly towards the stoner side. The latest full-length "Jason… the Dragon" got delayed when guitarist Shep lost a toe due to an incident with his favourite shotgun. When the sludge driven album finally came out in 2011 shows in the US and Europe cemented the band's reputation as a fierce live entity.

For the next release WEEDEATER have signed up with Season of Mist, which will reissue the complete back catalogue. Remastered and presented with its original artwork, "…And Justice for Y’all" will also be available on vinyl for the first time. Time to lean back and get high on this WEEDEATER cult classic!

The Band:

Dixie Dave | Bass, Vocals
Shep | Guitar, Vocals
Keith "Keko" Kirkum | Drums

Review:

My first encounter with Weedeater came in the form of a free download from Scion A/V a few months ago; when they released a specially recorded split with Pins of Light before their appearance at the Scion Rock Show series in Los Angeles. The bass heavy tone instantly grabbed my attention, with the harsh vocals and comical approach to lyrics complimenting the overall ambience of the track.

Now, with the re-release and re-mastering of their classic first album ‘…And Justice For Y’all’, Weedeater have teamed up with the hugely diverse French label Season Of Mist to bring their classic hits to a new audience of stoner and sludge fans.

The album starts with a hefty instrumental song of huge riffs and presence, easing the listener into what is set to be an adventure into the demented minds of North Carolina’s finest weedians. The track provides a glimpse at the overall tone of what you can expect from the rest of the record, without giving too much, enticing you to progress deeper.

Swiftly followed by the heavily blues influenced ‘Monkey Junction’, after a brief intro, the harsh vocals many associate with Weedeaters sound take centre stage. And by centre stage I mean they sit right In the middle of the mix, subtracting slightly from the relaxed feel of the track. Much can be said for vocalist Dixie Dave, who also takes bass duties in Weedeater. He has that high, raspy style that wouldn’t be too alien in a black metal track, yet somehow makes it slot nicely into the fuzzed up compositions, a very unique approach to stoner metal. Something odd however, is that this is the only track on the album that has this very berating feel to the vocals, it seems to reel back and feel more natural in the mix as the record progresses.

One fantastic quality of this album is the variation of speed and texture of the tracks. One minute they have you locked in a trance of monotonous riffs, the next, they up the tempo and sludge their way onto a sonic storm of powerful, noisy grind. Every track has its own characteristic. Weedeater seem to inject something special into each song, perfectly pacing the 10 tracks spanning a surprisingly short 35 minutes.

Making your way to the latter half of the record, you may come across a familiar tune, although you would be forgiven for not quite recognising it amongst the growly, screamy, cacophony of that signature Weedeater sound. Being a huge fan of Crosby, Stills and Nash, I couldn’t help but chuckle listening to them tear ‘Southern Cross’ A new one. Highly entertaining.

Mix wise, the re-mastering seems to have cleaned up the guitar and bass a fair bit. Gone are the room shaking sub bass frequencies, along with the harsh highs. The drums seem to sit a bit better too, with more space to get those kicks really noticeable. In my opinion, there are quite a few albums produced in the past 15 years who’s aim was to sound as lofi as possible, that could use a similar treatment (black metal I’m looking at you). Still, the remastering keeps much of the integrity of what made this album so special intact, it definitely doesn’t subtract from anything.

I am very pleased with this offering from Weedeater, I can’t wait to see what Season of Mist do with the rest of the back catalogue. You can pick up ‘…And Justice For Y’all’ August 29th in either an all-new Jewel Case CD, or for the first time, Gatefold LP in various colours.  Thanks for Reading, Y’all!

Words by: Asher G. Alexander.

You can pre-order and buy it here

For more information:


Trap Them - Blissfucker (Album Review)



Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 10/6/2014
Label: Prosthetic Records

‘Blissfucker’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1). Salted Crypts
2). Habitland
3). Gift and Gift Unsteady
4). Lungrunners
5). Organic Infernal
6). Sanitations
7). Bad Nones
8). Former Lining Wide The Walls
9). Savage Climbers
10). Ransom Risen
11). Let Fall Each And Every Sedition Symptom

Bio:

A decade and six critically acclaimed releases (three EPs and three LPs) later, Trap Them have never strayed from the path they chose to walk. The music went from heavy to heavier, from dark to darker. Feral. Between every release, weeks and months were spent spreading the black gospel of distortion around the globe. They got in the van and called it home, continuously gaining attention and respect from their peers, touring alongside such varied acts as Converge, Napalm Death, Every Time I Die, Rotten Sound, Disfear, Toxic Holocaust and many, many more. They didn’t blink twice before finishing a European tour, flying home, landing at midnight at Logan International Airport in Boston and then starting a straight, fifty plus hour drive to California the next morning at 8am to begin a tour with grind legends Extreme Noise Terror. Nothing mattered. They got in the van and they went. There was ugly and bitter music to play.

Now, in 2014, upon the release of their latest full length , Blissfucker, their second release for Prosthetic Records, Trap Them has once again established themselves as not so much a band, but an entity. Recorded in the final months of 2013 at Godcity Studios with long time producer (the unspoken fifth member) Kurt Ballou, the lineup was rounded out by new additions Brad Fickeisen on drums and Galen Baudhuin on bass. The session, three years in the making, resulted in what will widely be considered their opus, forty five plus minutes of an unrestrained, unmedicated, unapologetic display of depression, desperation and blasphemy.

There may be many questions about Trap Them, but there are only two answers. There is none more ugly and, most certainly, none more bitter.

The Band:

Galen Bauhuin | Bass
Brad Fickeisen | Drums
Brian Izzi | Guitars
Ryan McKenney | Vocals

Review:

Trap Them’s newest album, ‘Blissfucker’, is kind of a strange experience for me. It’s not that it’s a bad album; in fact, it’s quite good on the whole; there’s just something kind of off about a sizeable chunk of it. The thing is; Trap Them have-prior to this album-carved themselves a niche within the metal universe that is now increasingly swollen and difficult to manage. As more and more d-beat/hardcore is released, it would be harder and harder for them to be able to stay afloat and keep themselves rooted in what has gotten them this far. Wisely, they’ve opted to broaden their repertoire, but they don’t seem to have completely found their footing on the wider platform upon which they now stand.

Let’s look at “Gift and Gift Unsteady”; a song that illustrates their greater variety in a positive way. The opening riff is something that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Blood Mountain/Crack the Skye era Mastodon album, only it’s focused over a beat plain enough to be on an AC/DC album. That riff alternates with another that would feel at home amongst the more reserved songs of prime Unleashed. It might feel too simplistic at first, but the conviction with which it’s played keeps each beat meaningful in the absence of flash. Obviously, I’m not making a case for each song staying at a similar tempo to “Gift and Gift Unsteady”, but it’s a way to keep them from falling into the trap of relying too much on a sound in the process of being buried by an avalanche of new comers.

On the opposite side of the coin, where Trap Them’s more restrained material doesn’t quite get the traction it needs, would be “Organic Infernal”. To my ears, it sounds like “Milk Lizard” from Dillinger Escape Plan pushed through the filter of an early 00s Moonfog Records band, though it does climax with a suitably grandiose breakdown at around 2:30. The central riff is eerie and ugly, but not in the way I think it was intended and I believe that the guitar tone is a hindrance in this case.  The tone is an update of sorts to the Sunlight Studios sound popularized by bands like Dismember and Entombed, but it doesn’t gel so well on the higher-pitched notes. The end result is something that sounds flat; like the guitar equivalent to a singer with a nasal singing voice.

Some of the other entries on the positive side of the ledger are moments where ‘Blissfucker’ picks up the pace, and that often serves them well. “Lungrunners” is a real headbanger from start to finish, highlighted by a stuttering stop-start riff that could be a heavier, uglier cousin to certain sections of Nine Inch Nails’ classic “March of the Pigs”. “Former Lining Wide the Walls” is an unmerciful grindcore feast from top to bottom. The song injects a greater vitality into an album that tends to get lost while trying to figure out the best way to avoid the dead end that subgenre saturation tends to create. So, while Trap Them’s future still looks bright on the whole, ‘Blissfucker’ strikes me as being a transitional album, with greater things in store before too long.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can get a copy here

For more information:



Black Tusk - Vulture's Eye EP (Review)


Album Type: EP
Date Released: 24/6/2014
Label: Hyperrealist/A Pefect Monster

‘Vulture's Eye’ DD/Vinyl track listing:

1). Vulture’s Eye 03:58
2). Screaming Inside Myself 03:48

The Band:
Jonathan Athon | Bass, Vocals
James May | Drums, Vocals
Andrew Fidler | Guitars, Vocals

Review:

A rolling snare and fuzzed out bass herald the return of Black Tusk for this raucous two track single (or is that an EP?). Format uncertainty aside, ‘Vulture's Eye’ finds the band in noisy and punk-ish form. As close to Black Flag as it is Mastodon, the riffs come thick and fast, the vocals screamed and forceful... and that is only the first one and a half minutes! There are tempo changes and cyclical motifs aplenty as the band go for it. No subtlety here, but a must for fans of either of the aforementioned bands and for old Black Tusk disciples alike.

‘Screaming Inside Myself’ is similarly adrenaline fuelled, but opts for a slightly more melodic approach- in the opening at least. Great production helps out both tracks- it is noisy but easy to pick out the instruments, and the drums sound reassuringly live and well battered. Again, the riffs come thick and fast- the one just before the two minute mark is a cracker- and the band keep you interested with strong hooks as they bludgeon their way into your consciousness.

All in all, this is business as usual for a great band. Pick this up on vinyl or as a download- your money will be well spent and then catch them live next time they play near you. You won’t be disappointed and you will definitely have a good time!

Words by: Richard Maw

You can get digitally everywhere now

For more information:


Holly Hunt - Prometheus EP (Review)


Album Type: EP
Date Released: 29/4/2014
Label: Other Electricites
‘Prometheus’ DD/Vinyl track listing:

1). Meano
2). Saturn Devours Children
3). Prometheus

Bio:

Following their highly lauded full-length album Year One, Holly Hunt returns with a 3-song, 12’’ EP, Prometheus. Recorded by Jonathan Nuñez of Torche and mastered by New Alliance East, the record builds on the two-piece’s reputation for metal that’s crafted with the heaviest alloys, and a most magisterial patterning - the type that drones vehemently and drowns in the blues.

Drummer Beatriz Monteavaro (Floor, Cavity) and guitarist Gavin Perry have demonstrated themselves as a loud and lumbering giant of the Miami music scene. The visceral impact of sound - the raising heart rate, neck chills, the warmth spreading throughout your torso - this is Holly Hunt’s raison d'être. Prometheus manages to transmit an almost perfect rendering, delivering listeners to a heightened physical (and mental and spiritual) state. The record conjures the image of an approaching behemoth, striking paranoia and fear until the final, exhilarating sweep of humanity’s total destruction.

Where Year One established the bedrock of Holly Hunt’s punishing sound, Prometheus thunders with the clarity of a crack of lighting. It establishes a supremely balanced, critical distance between amp worship and riff devotion, rising and falling with ecstatic highs and sublime lows. And while Year One represented the genesis of the band's existence; Prometheus stands as a churning, threatening hint of things to come.

Prometheus is a joint release by Other Electricities and Sonic TITAN.

The Band:

Beatriz Monteavaro | Drums
Gavin Perry | Guitars

Review:

There is something inherently beautiful about that feeling you get when you first remove a vinyl from its sleeve and place the needle on it. When listening to any album this feeling exists but when it comes to the fuzzy & sludgy stuff nothing quite hits the needle like it. The blend of crackles with the grime is perfection, and in some way the sounds from a vinyl take on a more 3D life force with each instrument almost floating in its own space.

There is little situation more fitting than putting the needle down on Holly Hunt’s Prometheus. “Utter Sludge Perfection”, is an apt description and if you aren’t familiar, let’s have a short catch up session.  Holly Hunt is a 2 piece instrumental act from Florida that features Beatriz Monteavaro (FLOOR\CAVITY) on Drums & Gavin Perry on guitar. ‘Prometheus’ is the follow up to 2012’s Year ONE which was rapturously received and also worth getting your hands on at the same time as ‘Prometheus’, at a  mere 3 songs, every minute counts on this EP.

They open with ‘Meano’, a massive wall of fuzz and girth acts as the prelude to the pummelling that ensues.  Indeed, this is the musical equivalent of an elephant charging at you in slow motion. Equally ominous is the pulsing ‘Saturn Devours His Children’ reminiscent of Jesu/Godflesh where chords create cliffhangers amongst the pulsing waves of percussion. Then we have the title track ‘Prometheus’, 9m 40s of downright sludge gold. There is a hypnotic feel about this release, I found myself nodding and wobbling back and forth throughout both sides of the vinyl EP.

In summation, ‘Prometheus’ is an absolute must have for any fan of sludge/doom.  It does what few instrumental acts can do. It keeps your attention and draws you in like a tractor beam.  It is a thudding and pulsating giant of a record!

Below you will find the links to both the digital and vinyl versions of the record. I suggest you buy the vinyl, add some drinks, a great set of speakers and a blind fold (or just close your eyes).  Sit back and soak this in properly

Words by: Stephen T. Barton

For more information:


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

"Professionally Hostile": An Interview with King Buzzo

Mackie Osbourne (C)

            An increasing number of people are beginning to recognize Melvins frontman, Buzz Osborne, as one of the most entertaining musicians on the Internet. In any given day on my social media feeds I’ll come across one of his side splitting road diaries or videos from his current solo tour where he’s telling a hilarious, semi-offensive story about a former colleague or a trainwreck celebrity, (the Dave Grohl story was an instant classic).  For the show I attended, where Buzz had an entire audience of North Carolinians mesmerized with his psychotic acoustic renditions of Melvins classics like “Boris” and “Hooch,” I was convinced he could hold court without even picking up his guitar.  Not only is Buzz Osborne an incredibly funny man, he is a naturally gifted storyteller with a vicious sense of humor who pulls no punches.  In North Carolina we were treated to anecdotes regarding the time he witnessed Iggy Pop refuse to play to a festival audience of 40,000 because Iggster had to follow a band he despised, (that band being Weezer,) or the “one” time he saw David Yow not drunk, or how he finds himself praying to a god he doesn’t believe in for bad things to happen to Courtney Love.  Naturally, the latter brought down the house.

When you speak with Buzz Osborne you are speaking to a very self aware man who has a very learned outlook on life, but who also realizes the importance of maintaining a whimsical view on the hypocrisies and frustrations everyone encounters throughout their day to day. He’s a proud professional who favors America to other countries in the world, but not in a Sarah Palin/Ted Nugent kind of way.  “In Europe they have dryers that don’t dry. Can you imagine that here?  No one would put up with that!” He also enjoys simple things like a good baseball game, (he’s a Dodgers man), or a game of golf, (he’s quick to point out how easy it is to miss a short putt,) or simply reading on his Kindle in the hotel room after a show.  In short, Buzz is a very intelligent guy who takes what he does very seriously and has no end in sight for any of it.  It was a pleasure to speak with him. - Erik Sugg


ES: So I know you’ve toured a lot over the years, but this is your first acoustic tour.  Is that right?

Buzz: Yes, it is.  Well, I did a little one in March, so this is the second.

ES: I’ve talked to a lot of guys in heavy bands and they seem to like the idea of doing acoustic tours as well.  I don’t know if they’re thinking of themselves as troubadours or if it’s just getting the opportunity to have more of a one on one experience with the listeners.  Have you noticed a real significant difference with people at these shows then at the Melvins’?  Do you feel like it’s more intimate?

Buzz: Well, by its very nature it is.  On paper it doesn’t look like it would work, you know? Most acoustic stuff is pretty atrocious and I’m trying not to do that.  I think that once people see what I’m doing they’re a little surprised.

ES: Yeah, that was a question I actually asked some folks not too long ago–when you see a heavy artist doing an acoustic show, do you think it’s cool or do you think its whack?  And I guess it just all depends on the music.

Buzz: I haven’t really seen anyone do it that I thought was good.  I mean, I don’t know who. Maybe you have.

ES: Wino comes to mind. He’s done some good acoustic stuff.

Buzz: Yeah, I have seen that. But I can’t sit down and play.  I don’t know what he does. Does he sit down when he plays acoustic?

ES: Not exactly.

Buzz: Yeah, I can’t make that work.

ES: Yeah, I think that’s when people get turned off with that whole, “an intimate evening with”-vibe.

Buzz: Yeah, it’s horrendous mostly.



ES: So this has been a pretty long tour for you it seems, and it’s something completely new for you.  Has there been a city that’s “gotten it” the best?  Has there been a “best town” on this tour?

Buzz: Well, what happens with this kind of stuff–and it hasn’t happened too often–but once in awhile you’ll have a big crowd and they’re loud.  They’re talking and, you know, they’re kind of ruining it, but there’s assholes everywhere you go.  There were a few particular shows that were bad, like Bellingham. Lots of people, they were appreciative, but it was just loud the whole show.  Which, you know, whatever. I don’t tell people to shut up. They can do whatever they want.  It just makes it a little difficult to concentrate.  There are some shows where the audience is really interested in what you’re doing, and that makes it a lot easier.  It’s my job to keep them interested, but in some towns it’s just not working.

ES: You may have actually answered my next question.  I was going to say I’ve seen Grant Hart of Husker Du play a couple acoustic shows before, and the ones I saw were pretty much like you just described.  He had a hell of a time with people talking loud, the whole drinking atmosphere.  He got really flustered and pissed off about it.

Buzz: I’m not going to let that happen.  Even though I am internally pissed off I’m not going to let people know it’s getting to me.  I’m just going to act like it doesn’t exist. That’s the best way to do it. But, by and large, there’s been more really good ones than bad ones. Every now and then you’ll have some yahoo freaking out, but whatever. It’s not really different than the Melvin’s stuff.  I know which cities we’ve worked good in, and those are the ones I’ll go back to. I’d say 95% of them have been fine.

ES: That’s good to hear.  Another problem Grant seemed to have trouble with was people not seeming interested in the material he was touring in support of at the time.  When they did acknowledge him, they were yelling out Husker Du’s greatest hits, things like that.

Buzz: Well, did he do any Husker Du songs?


ES: He did, yeah. Do you get a lot people yelling out Melvins tunes?

Buzz: No, not really. I mean, a little. It’s about half and half. I think they’re pretty accepting of my solo material.  It’s my job to make them like it, you know?  I haven’t had any trouble, really.  I think people are pretty accepting and it’s working.  We’ll see next time I come back, how many people are here.

ES: I’ve been reading online that you do the Alice Cooper song in the set.  That’s one thing I always really liked about the Melvins, is that you guys do really good covers of good songs, like the MC5 song, “Rocket Reducer.”  I’m a huge MC5 and I thought you guys just killed it.

Buzz: Thank you. Yeah, that’s a good one. Everybody likes the MC5.

ES: Do ever feel like there’s expectations for you to play covers?  Do you ever get sick of playing any of them?

Buzz: Well, there will be songs, even our own songs, that we’ll put away for awhile. We’ve got so many songs.  It’s difficult to get too sick of them. If we don’t play them for awhile while it’ll be fine. As far as covers go, I don’t think people freak out one way or another about that kind of stuff.  Most of it’s fine, but I’m not overly concerned with what the audience wants. It’s my job to do the best I can and decide on what I think is best, and if they don’t like it then they just don’t like what I do!

ES: That’s good. A very uncompromising stance to take.

Buzz: Definitely. I mean, the shows on this tour.  If people don’t like it, they just don’t like what I do. It’s certainly not my fault, you know?

ES: Another thing I was going to bring up about your tour is your road stories that you publish.  They’re a constant source of enjoyment for people.  I really love how you chronicle the frustrations that a lot of touring musicians experience.

Buzz: Oh, you mean the diary?

ES: Yeah. Like when you talked about the San Francisco traffic jam, or just that downtime before gigs, that kind of thing.  You still seem like you keep some good humor with pretty much everything you do.

Buzz: Oh, yeah. Of course!



ES: Do you ever feel like you’re just at your wit’s end completely?  And if that does happen, where you’re just having a day where it’s totally frustrating, what gets you in a good mood again?

Buzz: Well, you know, I’m a professional. That’s what I do for a living. I’m a pro musician, and with that comes the ups and downs of touring, but it’s not unlike any other job, although it is an artistic job. It still is work.  I’m doing a job tonight, you know?  I come here and I take this seriously and I have a job to do and I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. Some nights are better than others.  It’s just part of the deal. If you have problems with this sort of thing then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.  I don’t know anyone who has a working situation where they’re completely satisfied. I’ve never heard of that.  Sometimes nights are more frustrating than others, but I stay focused on what I’m out here to do. I’m here to work. I’m here to do my job.  That’s it.  The rest of the stuff, if you have expectations of being happy or whatever, that’s not going to happen.  As far as the traffic stuff, things like that that are frustrating, I’m speaking for everyone in that department.  I firmly believe that kind of stuff. I believe those situations are conspiracy, you know?  It’s unnecessary and stupid.

ES: Well, we definitely get some funny stories out of it.

Buzz: That’s good!  I’ve got another coming out that’s going to be about me fantasizing killing everyone in Portland!  Portland, Maine.

ES: Ha! I look forward to that one.  A couple of things about the current record.  I think it’s–well, for one I think it’s an excellent record.

Buzz: Thank you. First try!

ES: It’s got a lot of the musical trademarks that people love about the Melvins.  It’s got the intense rhythms and the cold stops, but one thing I think is really striking about it–and I didn’t have any reason to think it wouldn’t be like this–is that it still sounds heavy.  It’s an acoustic record and it’s heavy.

Buzz: Yeah, I didn’t want it to sound like “Stairway to Heaven.”


ES: Yeah, and to me it doesn’t sound like you just doing a record minus the Melvins being there, you know?  It’s kind of its own beast.  Is that what you were shooting for?

Buzz: Yeah, kind of. It’s going to be hard to not sound like the Melvins because I write most of the material, you know?  Unless I’m going to make a fucking country album, which I’m not going to do. I mean I love country music, but almost everyone does that kind of thing too, you know? They’ll go do their “Nashville Skyline” record.  I just have no interest.  It’s not me.  I could do that kind of stuff.  I could easily do that. I could totally do a whole album of Hank Williams songs.  Maybe at some point I will, but for my first endeavour into this, that wouldn’t have been right for me. I wouldn’t have felt right about it. I need to make this work. I’ve proved to everybody that it’s the Indian not the arrow, you know?  You can go online and see Pete Townshend and the Secret Policeman's Ball on an acoustic guitar and it’s good.  It works just as well as it does with the whole band.  HE wrote good songs.

ES: Yeah, you had mentioned Pete in a recent interview.

Buzz: Yeah, he’s a big hero of mine.

ES: I’ve actually got friend out in L.A. who met you once and said you guys had a conversation about the Kinks and that you were a big Ray Davies fan.

Buzz: Sure. Oh, absolutely. But see, I’m a fan of the late ‘70s Kinks stuff. Unlike everybody else.

ES: Yeah, you have the “You Really Got Me” folks and the “Village Green” folks, and so forth.

Buzz: Yeah, I’m a “Low Budget” guy. That’s their album that I think is the best.  I saw them on the “One for the Road” tour and it was really, really fucking great.  Nobody ever talks about the Kinks in relation to us.  I don’t know why.  But that’s why we did that covers album.  It was all music that was a big influence on us that maybe people hadn’t thought of.

ES: Yeah, there was definitely some stuff on there I was surprised to hear, but just like every cover I’ve heard the Melvins do, you guys made it your own.

Buzz: Yeah, thank you.  And once you see, “Oh, that’s where that kind of thing comes from,” whether it’s the Fuggs or whoever it may be, people don’t appreciate that to some degree.  I don’t know why.  I mean, we make a lot of records.  There’s no end to that.  I think it was Pitchfork who said bands do that kind of thing when they’re done.  I think I’ve put out two albums since then and one in the can, haha.



ES: Haha, yeah.  Not quite done yet!  Another thing I wanted bring up–kind of going back to the acoustic record that still sounds heavy.  I once read an interview with John Paul Jones where he said one of the heaviest songs on Led Zeppelin I was, “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You,” which was a pretty intense song for an acoustic track.

Buzz: I wonder who they stole that from?  I wonder who’s song that could be?  I don’t know.  It could be, but with the artist you never know where they’re coming from and you have to trust their judgment as far as that goes. I don’t know. He’s looking at it through different eyes.

ES: Exactly.  And even with the Melvins records, there are songs like “Shevil” off of “Stoner Witch.”  A very mellow song, but I always thought it was very intense and heavy.

Buzz: Totally.

ES: Is that what you were going for with this record?  Just having that vibe, that it could be mellow and understated, but still could have the intensity of heavy music?

Buzz: Well, sure.  There’s no question to that.  Definitely.

ES: And another thing I wanted to ask–and I promise that I’m trying to sound like too much of a brown noser here–but you’re a really kickass rock and roll singer.

Buzz: Thank you.  You’re very nice.



ES: Well, the reason I wanted to bring it up is because I realized when people talk about bands who are heavy they’re talking about the sound and the instrumentation, and when you have a good singer like yourself, who’s good at coming up with good vocal melodies, it’s not mentioned.

Buzz: Yeah, it rarely is.

ES: Yeah, and I always felt guys like you, John Garcia, and Jus Oborn from Electric Wizard were great rock singers.  You can definitely hear the Kiss-type vocal style, or Alice Cooper. Any other vocal influences for you when you write your music?

Buzz: Thank you.  Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, Howling Wolf.  Maybe–oh, I don’t know who else.  I always thought it was a good idea to sing with a cartoon voice.

ES: Well, I remember there was the one record you guys put out in the late ‘90s.  I can’t remember what the title of the song was, but it had the caption, “Before Britpop became shit-pop.”

Buzz: Haha.  Oh, god. I can’t remember what that was.  I know what you mean though.

ES: I remember that was kind of a cartoony style of singing.

Buzz: Sure, sure.  I don’t know if that was me?

ES: Was that not you singing?

Buzz: It might have been Dale or Mark.  But yeah, I mean I’ve really worked hard on singing.  I’ve never had lessons or anything, but you know, you’ve got to practice what you’re doing.  If you want to sing you just have to practice singing.  You can’t get around it.  Sing things you like. Sing along with things that are easy for you to sing.  Get good at those things and then you can try harder stuff.  I only write songs that I CAN sing.

ES: I play music myself and learned that it’s important to keep it within the realistic bounds.

Buzz: Oh, of course.

ES: I can’t go out there and shriek like Rob Halford. I’ll sound horrible.

Buzz: You could try it, but I’m not capable of doing that stuff so I wouldn’t even venture there.  You know, there’s people who are like, “I can’t play guitar and sing at the same time,” and I go, “Well, write songs that you can!”  Haha…



ES:  Right. You might be surprised at how good your music is if you keep it within what you can do.

Buzz: Right. Write a song that you CAN sing and play at the same time.

ES: When you’re writing a song what comes the first?  The riffing or the vocal melody?

Buzz: The music always.  The vocals are always inspired by the music.  In rare cases, I don’t know.  Maybe Dylan did that, wrote lyrics first, and maybe Townshend did to some degree.  That’s a rarity to me.

ES: It’s the literary guys who create the music around what they want the lyrics to be?

Buzz: You’d like to think, but I’d be hard pressed to understand what the fuck Dylan was talking about most of the time.  People always talk about his message.  I go, “I’d like to know what the fuck it was.”  I can’t figure it out, you know?  “It’s all right, mom, I’m only bleeding.”  I mean, what the hell is that about, you know?  Or “Like a Rolling Stone?”  I mean, what the hell are you talking about?  I have no idea. Or even the Stones. Great lyrics, but I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

ES: Yeah. I’ve always been one of those listeners who never really paid too much attention to that. Maybe that’s why I always got into heavy music, because the message was really all about the rhythm and melody, and the intensity of the music itself, you know?

Buzz: Yeah, sometimes.  I never knew what Captain Beefheart was talking about, but I liked it anyway.



ES: There was a great interview you did recently where you mentioned some non musical influences like Flannery O’Connor, Francis Bacon, and John Huston.  Do you ever have any books that you like to bring on tour, like any quintessential road reads you like to keep with you?

Buzz: I’ve been reading lots of John Fante on this tour. I like that stuff a whole lot. And I’ll bring my Kindle, which has tons and tons of stuff, but I don’t have any particular books. Movies, I bring a lot of movies with me. I don’t really have a lot of time to read. I drive all the time. I’m not really comfortable with somebody else driving, so I drive all the time.  But then at night, or in the day if we happen to go to the hotel before the gig I might have some time to read, but usually what I’ll do is that I just have it on my iPad or something like that and then I won’t have to bring a ton of books with me. But, you know, Jack Black, Hubert Selby Jr., maybe some Thomas Sewell books, stuff like that.

ES: Yeah, the economics guy you mentioned in the interview.

Buzz: Yeah, he’s amazing. I think he’s the greatest philosopher of our time. People don’t have any idea who he is. It’s a shame. I read his books for a long time before I ever knew he was a black guy, and I was pretty impressed with that. That had never occurred to me, you know? My mind doesn’t work that way.

ES: Yeah, it’s always a surprise.

Buzz: Well, I was really happy about all that because he’s not writing with that sort of thing in mind. He doesn’t have an agenda along those lines. THAT is progressive. Within the first five minutes of reading some of these books, whether they’re black or white, if you know what race they are, that’s fucking crazy. It happens all the time, especially with black writers. They make sure that you understand that immediately. That’s just fucked up and stupid to me. That means they have an agenda that has nothing do with anything other than massive racism. I am not interested in racism, whether it’s forward or backwards. It is what it is.  Two wrongs don’t make a right. So, whatever. That’s about as much of a social statement as I’ll make along those lines. I have little or no time for that kind of thing. I don’t believe there is any political party that speaks for me. I certainly am both. I go both ways very hardcore, you know?

ES: You always struck me as someone who was very nonpolitical.

Buzz: Certainly in public. My politics would be more along the lines of someone like Thomas Sewell, but I really don’t talk about it much. I think it’s really a bad idea for someone to take political beliefs from someone who’s an entertainer.

Andreas Koesler (C) 
ES: Haha, well I feel like there are just so many more interesting things you could talk about with someone like yourself.

Buzz: Well, there is. But entertainers, actors, musicians, they always run their mouths off about all that stuff. I think it’s a bad idea because they usually don’t practice what they preach, and they paint the whole entire scenario under a bad light and I think that’s a mistake, you know? I think it’s irresponsible and stupid, and generally if I don’t like their work why would I believe that their opinion politically would make a difference to anyone?  Plus, they’re actors!

ES: Yeah, you definitely see actors doing it.

Buzz: Or musicians, like really famous musicians like Bono. Here’s a guy who wouldn’t work two months for two million dollars. If you offered him two months of shows for two million dollars he wouldn’t do it. So what exactly can people like us learn from him? Nothing!

ES: He does seem to have a very brow view of things, but doesn’t seem to be very “of” the people he’s trying to represent.

Buzz: He has no idea how people think. No idea. If you have an actor, you know, an actor like Brad Pitt or someone like that who wants to speak out politically about Africa. If you offered him two million dollars for two months of work he would not do it. Therefore, I can learn no lesson from that guy. Nothing.

ES: It’s important to see that realistic side of it.

Buzz: Well, the thing is–one thing you’re never going to hear from guys like that is, “I’m going to work. I have enough money. I’m going to work from now on. Every dollar I make is solely going to go towards whatever political or philanthropy type of situation for whatever I’m going to do for the rest of my life. I’m going to bust my ass and I’m going to do it!” That’s never going to happen because they’re liberal with other people’s money, not their own.  So fuck that. Fuck you guys. I’m not taken by that crap, you know? You wanna do that stuff then do it silently and not with a big press crew around you.

Paul Milne (C)


ES: Yeah, putting on the whole presentation.

Buzz: That’s it! And they fool everyone, and they’re absolute, total bastards. They think that this is going to make up for it. I don’t buy it. I’m not fooled. As a matter of fact I’m offended by it.

ES: That’s why I always tend to be drawn towards to artists and musicians who keep politics the fuck out of everything.

Buzz: They should, because they don’t know how to talk about it, haha.

ES: Speaking of artists, Brian Walsby is touring with you, and he comes up with some really hilarious art work. I’ve seen him depict you as Tesco Vee, Bob Dylan, the characters on Black Flag records. I was just curious if there was ever a piece of his art that brought you into total gut-busting laughter, that just really cracked you up?

Buzz: I think the “Police Story” Black Flag ones, the “Make me cum, faggot” ones. Those are always good, whether it’s Charlie Brown, or me, or Kiss, or Gene Simmons with a gun in their mouth.  That, I thought was funny!

ES: Yeah, I always thought the original Flag piece was hilarious, so of course Brian’s spin on it is sheer hilarity.

Buzz: Well, you have to understand, people like me and Brian, we grew up with Mad Magazine.  That’s where that sense of humor comes from.  Mad Magazine pulled no punches and that’s kind of how that is, but it’s humor. It’s funny. If it’s not funny it doesn’t work, and it doesn’t matter how brutal it is.  If it isn’t funny it doesn’t work.

ES: There is definitely some brutal humor that comes out of it.  I was a Mad Magazine fan myself.

Buzz: Yes, especially ‘70s Mad. That’s how we think about that stuff.

ES: I even bought the “Up the Academy” soundtrack when I was record shopping once, which was a shitty movie that the Mad Magazine guys put out. Killer soundtrack, though.

Buzz: That was a long time ago, yeah.

ES: Pretty generic question, but since the somewhat subject of this interview is your acoustic tour, did you ever have a favorite all-acoustic record?

Buzz: Probably Bob Dylan’s stuff.  Although lot of his stuff wasn’t all acoustic. Probably the Townshend “Secret Policeman’s Ball” soundtrack, the songs he did on there.  That’s probably about it. Nothing else really comes to mind.



ES: You had mentioned Hank Williams earlier.

Buzz: Sure, I love Hank Williams. You have to love Hank Williams. How could you not? But most of his stuff wasn’t just acoustic. Maybe some of the “Luke the Drifter” stuff might have been, but I can’t remember.

ES: I think that’s pretty much all I wanted to cover with you, man. Is there anything else you wanted to say about the record or the Melvins? You said the Melvins have a record coming out in October?

Buzz: Yes, we do. I’m really looking forward to it.  It’s already done, mastered and finished. The whole thing. So that will be great.

ES: And being the road dog you are, do you have any other tours on the horizon once this one winds up?

Buzz: Yeah, I’m going to Australia and Europe doing this, and then when I come home we’re going to do some shows in the U.S., but not a ton of them because we don’t really want to travel in the winter.  We’ll be back next year and we’ll have a whole lot of things to say then.

ES: I think that’s about it. Thanks!


Buzz: All right, man!  Thank you. It’s a pleasure

Words and Interview by: Erik Sugg

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