Saturday, February 7, 2009

Impossible Decisions

Well, the schedule for the Scion Rock Fest has leaked and, as is to be expected at any festival featuring so many killer bands, there will be some very difficult choices to make. So break out your heavy metal day-planners and start penciling in your plan of attack.

The major overlap between Toxic Holocaust and Withered is stressing me, and navigating between Krallice, High On Fire and WITTR will take some nimble feet, solid clock management and a strong bladder. All in all I can't complain though, I will get to see at least some of every band I'm going to see. Can't ask for much better than that with 34 bands and four stages in one day.

Schedule is not confirmed as official, but this source has yet to be wrong about anything related to this fest. Of course, I'm sure all the standard disclaimers about schedule/lineup being subject to change can and will apply.

Masked Terror priorities bolded below. And yes, I am prepared for Neurosis/Pig Destroyer/Converge disciples to call me out on my heresy. Honorable mention to Zoroaster and Warbringer for just missing the cutoff.

1:00-1:40pm Kylesa
2:00-2:40pm Torche
3:00-3:40pm Baroness
4:00-4:50pm Boris
5:10-5:40pm Pig Destroyer
6:00-7:00pm High On Fire
7:30pm-9:00pm Neurosis
9:30pm-11:00pm Mastodon

1:10pm-1:55pm Evil Army
2:15pm-2:40pm Trash Talk
3:00pm-3:45pm Skeletonwitch
4:10pm-5:00pm Toxic Holocaust
5:20pm-6:05pm Warbringer
6:30pm-7:30pm Septic Flesh
8:30pm-9:30pm Cryptopsy
11:00pm-midnight Converge

1:15pm-2:00pm Apocalyptic Visions
2:20pm-3:05pm Salome
3:25pm-4:10pm US Christmas
4:30pm-5:15pm Withered
5:35pm-6:25pm Krallice
6:45pm-7:45pm Wolves In The Throne Room
8:15pm-9:15pm Nachtmystium
10:25pm-11:25pm 1349

1:00pm-1:35pm Gaylord
1:55pm-2:30pm Suidakra
2:50pm-3:35pm Alestorm
3:55pm-4:40pm A Storm Of Light
5:00pm-5:45pm Harvey Milk
6:05pm-6:50pm Rwake
7:20pm-8:05pm Tyr
8:45pm-9:30pm Coalesce
10:00pm-11:00pm Zoroaster

Thursday, February 5, 2009

At Last . . . Crack The Skye

Thanks to a very cool and generous friend who got me into a listening session, I heard the new Mastodon album yesterday.

The band was there and they were very cool and friendly. I've met them in passing a few times, but this was the only time I got to really talk and hang with them. Really good guys.

Crack The Skye is everything the band said it was going to be- proggier, more psychedelic, not as hard/heavy, spacier/airier, more melodic, more emphasis on lyrics/vocals (both in the mix and song structure), etc.

I'm sure folks who know me are expecting me to say I was disappointed at this point, but I'm not going to.

Here is the most important thing I can tell you about Crack The Skye- It is definitely a Mastodon album.

When you hear it, there is no other band in the world that could have made it. The familiar elements are there, just utilized in different ways. The guitar parts are signature Mastodon, lots of high-pitched noodling with lots of deep, riffy chugging behind it. There isn't quite as much room for Brann to break out the fireworks as much as he usually does, but when you do feel him, it's classic Brann. Throughout the album, the vocals make up more of each song than in the past and they are considerably cleaner than before. Best comparison would be to the melodic parts of Colony of Birchmen.

In the past, Mastodon has kept the soul-pummeling dial pretty much set to 9.5, with frequent forays into 11 territory, and only rarely dipping below 8. This album's primary setting is 7, ventures up to 9 now and then and even eases into the 5-6 zone at times.

The first song released, Divinations, is actually a pretty good indicator of what most of the album sounds like. It’s a sound that’s more compelling when the album is consumed as a whole than when broken up into individual pieces.

The Czar and Ghost of Karelia were my two favorite songs and they come back to back in the middle of the album. The Czar has a really sick change up in the middle where it transforms into what sounds a lot like a lost Sabbath track, all the way down to some very Ozzyesque vocals (and I mean that in an entirely positive way) . Like a lot of the album, Ghost of Karelia is hard to describe, but pretty damn kick ass.

The Last Baron is an insanely epic, multi-part, 13 minute epic that closes out the album. It’s so big and sprawling that it’s hard to describe more than its vast scope without repeated listens.

I haven’t been a big Brendan O'Brien fan, and his role as producer had concerned me, but I didn't really hear his stamp all over this. Yes, it's a SLIGHTLY cleaner sound than before, but that suits the material and it probably would have been foolish to approach it any other way, regardless of who was producing.

Given what I’d read prior to hearing the album, my cynical side was prepared to think “Well, it's their second major-label album, they've gone cleaner/more melodic/accessible, worked with the big commercial rock producer, etc.” and conclude that this is their Black Album and the Mastodon we know and love is no more. But it doesn't feel that way. Listening to it, you get the impression that this is the album they really wanted to make and would have made regardless of circumstances. Dare I say this may be a case of that creative evolution bands are always carrying on about.

Does evolution always equal a good thing from a fan’s perspective? Not necessarily. And does the fact that Crack The Skye may legitimately be the album Mastodon wanted/needed to make right now automatically place it in the same league as their previous work? Again, not necessarily. Personally, I’m not sure I’d rank it there, at least not after only two listens.

Might this end up being your (or my) fourth favorite Mastodon album? Maybe. But it's still very much a Mastodon album and given the standard they've set, even fourth best wouldn't be too shabby and is still better than 90% of the other records out there. That’s much more than we can say about plenty of other bands who have “evolved.”

Of course, all of this is subject to revision upon further listens.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Atlanta psyche/sludge outfit Zoroaster have a new LP on the way. It's called Voice of Saturn and it's hitting stores March 10th. It'll be available online (assuming this means iTunes and other digital retailers) Feb 10th.

You can check Spirit Molecule, the first track to surface from the album, by clicking the link above.

The Zoroaster boys also treated fans to the following update on Sunday-

"Special Guest on Voice of Saturn announced!!

As some of you may have figured out by now, Brent Hinds of Mastodon appears on the track, " White Dwarf ", on our upcoming release " Voice of Saturn". Brent's eery vocals and blistering guitar solo we're an incredible addition to the song. It was a pleasure to have him aboard for the recording!!!!"

Sounds pretty damn cool. Psyched to hear it.

Catch the pre-release excitement live and in person at any of the following shows-

Feb 12, 8:00P Drunken Unicorn Atlanta, Georgia
Feb 13, 8:00P Drips Coffeehouse w/ US Christmas Hickory, North Carolina
Feb 14, 9:00P Nara Sushi Richmond, Virginia
Feb 15, 8:00P Europa w/ Amenra Brooklyn, New York
Feb 16, 8:00P AS220 w/ Amenra Providence, Rhode Island
Feb 17, 8:00P The Church of Boston w/ Amenra Boston, Massachusetts
Feb 18, 8:00P 242 Main w/ Amenra Burlington, Vermont
Feb 19, 8:00P Katacomes w/ Amenra Montreal, Quebec
Feb 20, 8:00P Siesta Nouveaux w/ Amenra Toronto, Ontario
Feb 21, 8:00P Mac’s Bar w/ Amenra Lansing, Michigan
Feb 22, 8:00P Borg Ward w/ Amenra Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Feb 23, 8:00P The Empty Bottle w/ Amenra Chicago, Illinois
Feb 24, 8:00P Howards Club H w/ Amenra Bowling Green, Ohio
Feb 25, 8:00P Talking Head w/ Amenra Baltimore, Maryland
Feb 26, 8:00P America w/ Amenra New Brunswick, New Jersey
Feb 27, 8:00P Johnny Brenda’s w/ Amenra, Starkweather Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Feb 28, 1:00P SCION ROCK FEST @ The Masquerade Atlanta, Georgia
Mar 16, 8:00P Downtown Music w/ Kylesa Little Rock, Arkansas
Mar 18, 8:00P
Reno’s Chop Shop w/ Battlefields, Irepress Dallas, Texas
Mar 19, 8:00P TBA - SxSW Austin, Texas
Mar 20, 8:00P TBA - SxSW Austin, Texas
Mar 21, 8:00P TBA - SxSW Austin, Texas
Mar 25, 8:00P The Nick Birmingham, Alabama
Mar 27, 9:00P Drunken Unicorn -VOICE OF SATURN release show w/ Hell Come To Town, Subrig Destroyer Atlanta, Georgia

Monday, February 2, 2009

Beyond Purgatory

In addition to the awesome announcement about their Southern Discomfort tour with Kylesa and Skeletonwitch, Blacktusk just dropped some sweet news for those of us fiending for more of their sludgecore goodness on wax (or digital format of your choice)- They're halfway through writing the follow-up to their crushing debut Passage Through Purgatory. Word is it's scheduled to be unleashed by Hyperrealist later this year.

Additionally, they've got a bunch of cool splits and a compilation track dropping soon. Here are the details from their latest blog entry-

"Our upcoming releases are as follows:

Blacktusk / Holy Mountain split 7" on No Idea Records ( It is currently available on itunes, look for the vinyl soon! It features cover art by John Baizley (Baroness) and was produced by Philip Cope (Kylesa).

Blacktusk / ASG split 10" on Hyperrealist records ( Both bands head up to the Jam Room in Columbia, SC to record this in the beginning of March with Philip Cope (Kylesa) producing. There will be a cd version of this also, details on that are still being worked out. It will also feature cover art and layout by John Baizley (Baroness)

Blacktusk / Fight Amputation split 7" on Brutal Panda Records ( We are also recording this material at the beginning of March at the Jam room with Philip Cope (Kylesa) producing. This release will also sport artwork from John Baizley (Baroness).

We are also contributing a song to a Buzzov-en tribute album on Sleepy Village Records ( We are doing Toe Fry. Not sure when this is going to come out. I'll keep this site updated with news about it."

A lot of sweet stuff on the way from these guys. Pretty damn cool.

UPDATE- Blacktusk's song from their Holy Mountain split is up on their MySpace now. It's called Beneath and is pretty F'in sweet. Especially digging the drums on this one.

Looks like our friends in Early Man are making some progress on their long awaited sophomore effort as well. Here's some live footage of a new album track from a recent west coast date-

More on both these releases as things develop.

Finally, if you wanted tix to the Scion Rock Fest, hope you got them already, because according to the offcial website, they're not giving out any more.