On the Turntable – Crypt Rot ‘Embryonic Devils’

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About five months ago, I went to the Soundcloud page for Southern Lord Records to hear an early-release track from Crypt Rot.  I proceeded to listen to “Chapters of Torment” just about every day for the next couple weeks.  Shortly after, I learned they were playing at The Power of the Riff this past December in LA.  I was already scheduled to shoot the fest so I was excited to see these newcomers live.

As I said in my corresponding Power of the Riff piece, their set was the best way to open a festival, hands down.  To be honest, I was super bummed that more people didn’t get to see them.  Being the first band on the first day of a bill is tough, and doing so while being relatively new is even more tough.  Those of you that missed them really missed something special, but you can do yourselves a favor and catch their tour this coming summer.

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Crypt Rot at The Power of the Riff 2016

We’re finally coming up on the release of their debut album Embryonic Devils, and I was afforded the chance to hear it in full.  I have to say, from the opening track with the almost campy haunted house sound effects (squeaking door) to the closing track “Internal Organ Feast,” I was completely engrossed, and ended up listening to it three times on my way home without batting an eye.  In addition, the members of the band have names such as “Father Flesh” and “The Executioner,” so you should have a good idea of what you are getting into.  

The opening track, “Chapters of Torment,” which after five months I am very familiar with, rolls right into what has become my favorite track on the album.  I plan on catching these guys when they hit NYC in May and I have to say that if “Scaphist Waste” doesn’t inspire a pretty fierce pit, then in my opinion no song can.  It’s raw, fast, and just damn good, with Father Flesh’s vocals tearing through the song and super heavy riffs breaking things up and getting the head banging.

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Even when CR slow things down a little with “Pit of Morbidity” it doesn’t feel out of place.  If anything, I think it gives the band even more dynamic and proof of talent.  The addition of the vocals by Rotten Mistress is what takes this song from great to incredible.  She has the perfect voice to compliment the male vocals – both haunting and achingly beautiful.

There really isn’t a moment in this album when I think to myself, man, I’m kind of getting bored, or I wish this song had this or the album had that.  For a debut album, this is a solid starting point and I look forward to seeing where this crew from Ohio goes next.

Grab your copy through Southern Lord here

-Skc Photo-

Sunn O))) at Union Transfer – Submerged in Drone

If you’ve ever been to a Sunn O))) show, you know that the environment overall can feel a bit like being submerged – sinking down to the bottom of a body of water, the pressure building up in your ears and on your body.  It’s beautiful, other-worldly, and about as heavy as you can get.  That’s what I felt as I experienced them for two nights in a row at The Knockdown Center in New York and then at Union Transfer in Philly.  I must be a glutton for their sound, since I signed up for the exact same double-drone when I saw them in Florida about a year ago.  I think you’d be hard-pressed to hear, see, and feel an experience such as this and even for people that may not find this to be their cup of tea, I still would say suck it up and go experience it, it’s transcendental.

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Big Brave

Sunn embarked on this tour once again with support from Big Brave, who hail from Montreal.  I’ve tried numerous times over the last year to describe the sound of Big Brave and words always seem to fail me.  I end up mumbling out thoughts and adjectives and then disagreeing with myself, and wind up saying “just listen to them.”  Between the heavy, almost tribal drums provided by Louis-Alexandre Beauregard, punctuated by distant yet commanding vocals from Robin Wattie, this trio really has a sound that is completely their own and impossible to ignore.  My respect for them has grown each time I’ve seen them live. I also love how self-effacing and grateful they seem towards their fans and towards the members of Sunn O))) – it just seems like they take none of it for granted.

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Big Brave

After Big Brave’s set at Knockdown, a brief transitional period and an intermission long enough to allow the room to fill with fog, a singular figure could vaguely be seen shuffling across the stage to take his place at the microphone waiting in the center.  It was there, alone in a sea of fog that Attila began singing.  In the stillness that ensued, no one seemed to notice the rest of the band taking the stage, until the lights lifted ever so slightly and more shadows began to emerge.  Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson then joined in with their heavily distorted and reverberating guitars which I immediately felt all the way to my marrow.  

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Sunn O)))

The next hour plus was a meditative blur, and I found myself torn between taking pictures and just closing my eyes and letting the waves wash over me.   Also the realization that if it were me on stage, I would constantly trip on my cloak, eat shit, and embarrass everyone in the band.  While I may have cat-like reflexes by day, by fog I am a shuffling nightmare of tragedy who will most likely take anyone nearby down with me.  

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Sunn O)))

Somehow these cloaked figures have learned the navigational skills that will probably elude me forever, and seamlessly disappeared and re-emerged in the foggy shadows as various combinations of members held the stage.  As the fog began to dissipate slightly, with a gentle nudge from Anderson, Attila disappeared to prepare for the final act – one I can’t help but stand in awe of every time I experience it.  If you have seen the mirrored cloak and spiked crown, perhaps you understand where I’m coming from and can identify.  It’s basically a work of performance art and I try to photograph it as such, waiting for just the right movement of Attila’s laser-clad hand or the moment when everyone on stage has their hands and instruments stretched to the sky.   

Check out the images below! (Click on the image to open gallery)

Big Brave

 

Sunn O)))

On the Turntable – Power Trip ‘Nightmare Logic’

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Power Trip is a band I wasn’t familiar with prior to hearing their second album Nightmare Logic, which will be released February 24th through Southern Lord.  I was instantly welcomed into the album with a wall of delicious distortion followed by what felt like stumbling into a wormhole that took me straight to an excitement and energy right out of none other than Metallica’s first studio record Kill ‘Em All.

The songs are short, exciting blasts of energy and aggression. This is a common format in this type of album, but often such short songs feel unpolished, rough or too meandering, like unfinished ideas. Power Trip’s great skill is their editing of their own work, which results in a gorgeous mix of classic metal, thrash and punk. As an added bonus, there are so many glorious guitar screams, the kind that I long for but can usually only find in fantasy metal!

Each band member is incredibly talented, and together they have created a much-needed throwback sound with a modern twist – it doesn’t seem like they are just cloning a sound that works. I am most impressed with the energy sustained throughout the album, it is consistent and combative and even more so it sounds like the makings of an incredible live show.

In my opinion, lyrics are something that many metal fans are too forgiving of, by implicitly not expecting much more than vague threats of violence and male chest pounding/dragon slaying/etc – but Nightmare Logic is not only refreshing in its sound, but also lyrically. The band provides us with anthem after anthem inspiring us to fight back against oppression. This genre is not normally my thing, but I cannot tell you how jazzed I am to have an album that serves as a great collection of songs with a purpose that couldn’t be more relevant!

Recommended Songs: The entire album from beginning to end

Grab your copy of Nightmare Logic on Southern Lord here.

Photo by Skc Photo

-Pygopagus-

Sunn O))) Announce Northeast US Tour Dates

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We on the east coast of the U.S. (SGM headquarters) haven’t been fortunate enough to catch Sunn O))) on tour since this past spring, but come March 2017 they’ll be sending sonic waves of drone throughout the northeast and up into Canada. Labelmates Big Brave will be joining them once again, with their trademark blend of soulful grunge.

Sunn O))) is offering a special through their Bandcamp page as a token of appreciation for all their fans. You can swing by and get «青木ヶ原 // 樹海» (aka “Aokigahara // Jukai”), a track from the flexi 7″ that was released along with select vinyl copies of Kannon. They’re also offering 35% off with code SOLSTICE2016, so now is a good time to grab any albums you might be missing from your digital collection!

Check out the tour dates below!

3/12/2017 930 Club – Washington, DC w/ Big | Brave
3/13/2017 The Rex – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Big | Brave
3/14/2017 Queen Elizabeth Theatre – Toronto, ON w/ Big | Brave
3/15/2017 La Sat – Montreal, QC w/ Big | Brave
3/16/2017 The Coolidge – Boston, MA w/ Big | Brave
3/17/2017 Knockdown Center – Brooklyn, NY w/ Big | Brave
3/18/2017 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA w/ Big | Brave
3/21/2017 Barbican – London, UK @ Convergence Festival w/ Hildur Guðnadóttir
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-Thalia Gore-

The Power of the Riff Update

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A few weeks ago The Power of the Riff announced this year’s headlining bands are Wolves in the Throne Room and Neurosis.  If that wasn’t enough of a reason for you to research flights and grab a ticket then maybe the latest announcements will.  On top of these already incredible headliners, you now can look forward to seeing Pelican, Nails, Gatecreeper, Gag, and Bloodclot.  In addition, a teaser video was just released which you can check out below!

See you crazy kids there!!

-Thalia Gore-

The Power of the Riff 2016

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It’s no secret that The Power of the Riff is one of the most anticipated festivals for people to attend.  The lineups are always something to look forward to and you will most likely leave with a satisfying ring in your ears and perhaps a new favorite band.  Developed by Greg Anderson and Sam James Velde, this roaming festival has a little something for everyone.

This year the headlining bands will be none other than Neurosis and Wolves in the Throne Room.  Tickets are now on sale for the event and include day and weekend passes.  We will update as more bands are announced.  The headliners were enough for us to already be checking out flights.  Stay tuned for more!

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-Thalia Gore-

Sunn O))) – Sound Waves for Days

The intensity of Sunn O)) is something that can only be completely appreciated live.  I don’t just mean the music, although it did make my hair follicles vibrate – a unique experience in and of itself.  I mean the overall presentation of the band and the music.  The black hooded cloaks, the slow, elegant movements, and holding instruments aloft as if praising them for the sound they are creating.  To put it simply, it’s beautiful.

I was incredibly moved by the two performances I was able to attend in Florida.  In addition, I am grateful for having had the chance to photograph one of them.  I wanted the images to convey part of the aesthetic and attention to detail that Sunn O))) and core members Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley have become renowned for creating.  

Seeing Sunn O))) is a full sensorial experience.  The lights meld from one color to the next throughout  a  smoke-filled room, and in doing so they create a slightly disorienting yet calming feeling, a chance to bask in deep reds or ocean blues. .  The smoke, which pours out during the entirety of the set, isolates each viewer.  In essence this gives each person their own unique mix of deprivation and simultaneous stimulation.  After coupling that with slow and heavy vibrations that you can feel through the depths of your body – when I say I was moved, I meant it literally –  it is slightly jarring to walk out of one of these shows and return to reality.  

Sunn O))) is certainly not for everyone.  Their performances are on a level that I think some people may not understand.  Vibrations so heavy that pieces of the ceiling rain down on your head, smoke so thick it has set off the fire alarm in numerous venues, and a mysterious, shrouded group that lulls the audience into such a drone-trance, it might later suffer withdrawal.  Their performances are a form of art and like all art, it is not everyone’s cup of tea.  

I, however, was nothing short of mesmerized by every moment of their set, and I am sure others shared the sentiment.  I have always seen Sunn O))) as a group willing to think outside the box and look for ways to evolve their live experience, whether it be performing in a church or movie theatre or creating a mirrored cloak and spiked crown for singer Attila Csihar to wear at the conclusion of their set.  Seriously, you have got to see this cloak, it’s stunning.   

Sunn O))) was joined by Big Brave who are now part of the Southern Lord family.  When I read that they were joining this tour I was really excited to hear their sound.  AU DE LA, their latest release, is a heartfelt, grungy,  and melancholic album.  Singer Robin Wattie’s sorrowful chanting paired with a spiraling of guitars and slow, purposeful percussion leaves you searching the spaces in between the heavy notes.  There is much to experience in the echoing silences of this album.  Big Brave will join Sunn O))) again when they continue the next leg of their tour in June, so don’t miss your chance to catch them!

Check out the photos below!

-SKC Photo-

 

Big Brave (Click on thumbnail to open gallery)

 

Sunn O))) (Click on thumbnail to open gallery)