High in the mountains of Montana is a trio so dense, so heavy and so melodic that even the grizzly bears are scared. Hailed as landmark in the sub-gernre of Heavy Stoner Rock, Chris LaTray (bass, vocals), Bubba Warne (drums) and Jimmy Rolle (guitar, vocals) move effortlessly through thunder-sludge to intoxicating groves on their debut thriller. Originally formed 15 years ago by hometown buddies LaTray and Warne, the band morphed through several different incarnations before finding its voice in the axe-work of Rolle.
Though 10 years their younger, Rolles guitar springs to life in the relentless chug of Bonfire, the Fu Manchu-like Big Rig and the cow-bell friendly FOTC. Even the extended Elemental and the mellow Dissent stand firmly behind the guitarist capable hammering. The seven songs that grace Get Mad just arent enough to uncover all these boys are capable of.
Recently the crew were spotted at a local watering hole on Portlands southeast side converting an assortment of fans with their demon dance during Ride and the wildly progressive and stretched out jam ORT. Peeling the paint off the ceiling is the trademark of these Montana Mountainmen. They come, they play and they deliver high energy, high octane, high volume rock and roll in it purest form.
Ground (5-track EP)
Resurrecting certain Queensryche meets Alice In Chains elements into a tight little package is the Dallas-based foursome Ground. So alluring are the guitar sounds of Jay Shannon and the embracing voice of Christopher Ryle that the magnetic pull to Ill Fall Again, Bi Polar and The Stain is sweeping. Even the garage production lends itself to a fascinating earthy feel. Bandmates Billy Kovacsy (bass) and Cameron White (drums) do suffer somewhat in the mix in that the bass could be a bit more throbbing and the drums less piercing. Yet, overall, the boys have put together a decent slice of metallic rage.
Production work was done by Shannon and Chuck Frizzell which might explain the dominating guitar especially in Bi Polar and the riff heavy The Stain which comes closest to the Queensryche side of the board even in the lyrics (Mary, Mary I come for you/Do you feel anything at all/Hands are cold not to mention my blood stains on your wall). Swallow and Long Way Home are not as well structured as the records first two tracks lacking the uppercut punch that is so powerful in the first 10 minutes. With a five track EP, there are not many places to hide, but these guys are close to delivering a killer set.
Burn All The Barns
Sunder is five-pissed off dudes from Montana. What are they pissed off about? Well being from Montana. According to their press release: The experience of living in Montana is difficult and bleak, with nothing to look forward to, and little hope of escape. Each town is like the worst inner-city neighborhood, complete with rampant drug and alcohol abuse, ruined families, white gangs, wide-spread poverty and suicide, set under the extreme landscape of high plains desert and brutal mountain ranges, miles from any neighbors, the law, or a decent wage.
So the story goes that Sunder was formed by Derek Mascorella and Tod Williams in 1998. Mascorella, guitar in hand, plugged in with chain-saw riffs while Williams, penned the story of struggle on the last of Americas great frontiers. Joined by bassist Andy Sewrey, drummer Brandon Zimmer and guitarist Matt Ranta the group set about turning Big Sky Country into a raging fire complete with urban legends (3-7-77) and murderous tales (Winter Sleet).
Five songs later we have Burn All The Barns a thick slab of post-grunge metal that will indeed burn your barn down. Churning a cesspool of grinding guitars and organic bass lines into a head-pounding fury is exactly what youll find in the title track, the guttural Small Black Fly and the hook-laden The Deep Hit. Standout cut Long Dead Forever shows real promise in songwriting as it winds its way around Sewreys bass before jumping into the arena with frenzied abandonment. The vocal prowess of Mascorella carries each song through manic convolutions equal in part to a number of European contemporaries. The production is rock solid and if Nuclear Blast is listening, this could be the next hot one.
Last summer Pillar was one of the biggest buzz bands on the road. Their shows were full velocity heart stoppers and their indie release was cracking 200,000 at the cash register. No wonder MCA flew in to buy these guys lunch. This summer weve got the reissued version of the hot platter fully remixed by ace producer/remixers Mudrock (Godsmack, Puya) and Rich Costey (Audioslave, RATM). Having already generated a pair of #1 Christian rock singles, Fireproof has already made its mark now its time to turn heads.
Dont kid yourself, production DOES matter. This record rises to a whole new level with the twiddle of a couple knobs. The bottom end is as dense as a tropical rain forest and the guitars are crushing. Title track Fireproof blazes with an infectious chorus which seems to plague several of the discs straight up rockers -Behind Closed Door, Epidemic, and Just To Get By to name a few. Showing they can carry a tone just as well as the next Linkin Park clone A Shame, Light At My Feet, and the radio friendly Further From Myself beg for the big time.
Echelon is the only track that gets a bit to hip hop for my liking. Yet, the pounding drive of Hindsight puts it back on track merging a deadly guitar munch over a power-rap groove. There are some uncanny Eminem moments such as the break on Stay Up and Epidemic. But the soul of the record lies in the inspirational and patriotic Indivisible. A significant step forward.
Website: MCA Records or Pillar
|SAMMY HAGAR and the Waboritas
One of the most relentless touring machines on the circuit today is Sammy Hagar and his merry band of Waboritas. Therefore is seems a bit odd that its taken 20 years for the man to release a live record (not counting Van Halens Right Here, Right Now in 1993). With Live ~ Hallelujah Sammy makes up for lost time cramming 17 Hagar classics into 78-minutes of disc space. All the hits are there Three Lock Box, Heavy Metal, and the CHP favorite I Cant Drive 55. However, this is more than just a history lesson, its highlights of 30-years with the Red Rocker.
The song selection follows closely to last years Hagar/Roth tour set with all the punches delivered with power and precision, most evident in Theres Only One Way To Rock, the Montrose hit Rock Candy, and the Gary Glitter inspired drinking anthem Mas Tequila. Even the occasional Van Hagar number made the list with Right Now and Dreams. The Waboritas (Jesse Harms keyboards, former Bus Boy guitarist, Vic Johnson, Mona bass, and Hagars original drummer for nearly his whole career, Dave Lauser) prove to be outstanding in the pocket players making this recording all the more enjoyable. No where is this more evident than in the graceful ease they move from Why Cant This Be Love to Eagles Fly to Little White Lie.
Pieced together from several different shows, St. Louis being the primary, the disc comes off like the ultimate house party. Recorded full-volume, over-amplified and straight off the deck it comes across as a serious hard-rockin platter. The production is slightly shrill leaving an over all echo in the vocals but the playing is top notch, raw, and loud. Bonuses include ex-Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony (rumored to be touring with Sammy on a steady basis) ex-Van Halen IV, Extreme singer Gary Cherone, Boston bandmates Barry Goudreau, Fran Sheeham and John Hashian.
Website: Sanctuary Records or Sammy Hagar
Go For It Live
For Fu Manchu fans this disc is long in coming. Having often been criticized for their studio records not holding up to their live shows, the Fu can now strut their stuff in full glory. A gargantuan double disc, Go For It Live, breaths serious fire into 22 heart-pounding, head-banging thrillers including Hell On Wheels, Mongoose and Evil Eye. Granted, their stoner appeal is still first and foremost, but the record proves to be a serious slab of mega-force hard rock.
Recorded live on last years California Crossing tour, the disc borrows five tracks including a chugging version of Downtown In Dogtown, Squash That Fly, and Hang On. Four song are featured from both King Of The Road and Action Is Go with highlights being Boogie Van and Evil Eye. Reaching all the way back to 1994s No One Rides For Free, live favorites Ojo Rojo and Superbird trim all the fat and double up for a pounding heavy-hitter.
Some of the old standards are missing which would have been cool to have raised from the dead - Mega-Bumper, Coyote Duster, and Travel Agent spring to mind however, BOCs Godzilla is hosted on the second disc in all its fuzzed-out fury. Hills guitar is everywhere and that driving rhythm section could not be thicker. Production is top-notch keeping the pure magnitude of their live show intake. A classic indeed.
Website: SPV Records or Fu Manchu
|BLACK LABEL SOCIETY
The Blessed Hellride
I read an interview last year with Zakk where he complained that he didnt get to write enough (if at all) on the last Ozzy record. He consoled himself by noting that The Blessed Hellride would contain those songs he had intended for Ozzy full-on, balls-out rock. That alone raised expectations on the quality of the new BLS. The single Stillborn, featuring Ozzy on backing vocals, hit the airwaves a couple weeks before the record dropped. The video directed by Rob Zombie soon followed.
Though Stillborn is a solid effort Stoned and Drunk, Final Solution and Destruction Overdrive offer a bit more in the molten metal category. However, the Wylde-man shows his maturity as a songwriter putting together a range of dynamics from the acoustically driven The Blessed Hellride and Blackened Waters to the funky We Live No More. But, where it really takes a turn is in the piano embracing Dead Meadow - an Allman Brother influenced ditty that harkens back to Zakks Pride and Glory days.
Given this is BLS 5th outing, its refreshing to hear Zakk embrace his early roots and use them to carve out a passionate set of solid rockers. His axe-work is actually more potent than it has been in years (including Ozzys Down To Earth). This is a no-bullshit rock record in the highest order and pushes the one-man band into major-league contention.
Website: Spitfire Records or Black Label Society
From The Attic
It was their 4 star review in Rolling Stone that first caught our attention to the metallic strains of Damone. Here, we have a female fronted skater-rock band built on the talents of guitarist Dave Pino, drummer Dustin Hengst, bassist Vazquez and teenage vocalist/guitarist Noelle. Together, the foursome neatly package punk-pop anthems making them a perfect pick for this years Vans Warp Tour.
The cover, with its slight resemblance to the T-Rex Electric Warrior, is quite telling about the music it incases. Like the Marc Bolan classic it mixes aggressive guitar with current trends in pop delivery. The lyrics echo a Josie and the Pussycats adolescent bend most notable in Frustrated Unnoticed, At The Mall and Carwash Romance while the guitars slam your head in the wall.
Catchy, power-driven melodies save From The Attic from slipping too far into MTVs afternoon time slot. Driveway Blues, Up To You and Overchay With Me reach deeper into the vault and pull some decent melodies from the case. Compliments go to out to the band for a solid production and a nice job of layering the guitars. For the Waltham, Mass quartet moving from the basement to the stadium stage looks to be a smooth transition.
Website: RCA Records or Damone
Dead Teenager Records
Dead Teenager is at it again, educating the masses to the sights and sounds of the Northwest underground. Flamethrower, West Seattles latest export, burns like a twin-tail super rod straight out of the stockyard. Produced by ace knob-man Jack Endino (Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Tad, Nirvana to name a few) and recorded at Temple Sound Studios, the record strokes a set of cylinders with high-octane, ass stompin combustion at full speed.
On the road with Zeke, the foursome are determined to take their garage-punk from town-to-town and lay waste to the unbelievers. Following rightly in the footsteps of Motorhead (even referencing them in I Want It All) meets Supersuckers. The record kicks into hyper drive with the roaring Super Bee. Like a jolt from a roller coaster Coked Up, Rock-n-Roll and Revenge bleed from the speaker due to their neck breaking intensity. Buy it!
Website: Dead Teenager Records or Flamethrower
Self Destructive Pattern
Completely focused, guitarist Mike Sarkisyan, vocalist Jonny Santos, bassist Rob Garcia and drummer Tommy Decker fuse two years worth of hard work and passionate songwriting into 12 bloodthirsty bone crushers. Melody rises to the surface through layered guitar and hammer bass riffs to embrace the intensely catchy Smothered the harmony tinged Forgotten and the thundering Pattern.
It took every collective once of blood, sweat, energy, and creativity from their bodies to come up with the tracks that comprise Self-Destructive Pattern, states their press kit. After long stints with Ozzfest 2001 the group moved quickly into balancing studio time with roadwork. The results speak for themselves in the fierce Stillborn the sting of Violent Mood Swings and the raging-riff of Dead To Me.
Comparing the making of the record to getting a tattoo, the band agree that though the process was painful at times they are more than happy with the production work of GGGarth Richarsdson (Mudvayne) and mixing of Jay Baumgardner (Evanessence). Their input breaths fire into the songs with hypnotic aggression and venomous lyrics like the chattering of Slavery or the churning of Beginning Of The End. With Self-Destructive Pattern Spineshank have indeed moved to the next level. Hits stores September 9th.
Website: Roadrunner Records
Tee Pee Records
For one of the pioneering stoner, doom bands, Sleep continues to amaze long after their mystical, drug-hazed breakup. Dopesmoker is the long-awaited release of the pure, hypnotically fuzzed-out, single-track magnum opus from which Jerusalem (1998) was taken. According to legend, Dopesmoker was originally recorded live in the studio by Billy Anderson (Melvins, Neurosis, Mr. Bungle, etc.) for release on London records. The Northern California trio became disenchanted with the label when they wanted to cut down the length and slice it into numbered tracks.
A dispute ensued and Sleep held their ground. Eventually a shortened version (54 minutes) did make it out under the title of Jerusalem after a bizarre religious experience but the 65-minute version alluded fans until now. Behold all the greatness that is/was Sleep is ready for the taking/inhaling. As rumored, the record wonders through a cathartic, trance-inducing dirge of the heaviest order. The lyrics bow down to the power of the sweet leaf and the music follows suite with long bouts of feedback and minor-chord riffing. A stoner masterpiece if ever there was one.
Incidentally, of the original trio, guitarist Matt Pike went on to form High on Fire, while drummer Chris Haikus reunited with founding Sleep guitarist Justin Marler in the Sabians.
Website: Tee Pee Records
There are two reasons to buy this record: its the first recording by the Nothings in almost 20 years and second, their pal Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) plays on six tracks - the best of which are Addicted Too, I Cant Dance, and Were All Gonna Die. Attempting to recreate a sound similar to their heroes, the Sex Pistols, drummer Bob Deagle and guitarist /singer Phil Holmes formed The Nothings in 1980 along with bassist Lenny Keringer and crazed vocalist Bobby Nelson. For a year they toured like mad men and gained quite a name for themselves.
Drinking and boozing caught up with Nelson, for which he was tossed out of the band, then an odd thing happened they hooked up with Steve Jones. In 1983 they released their first opus with Jones helping out on guitar and vocal. The record tanked and the band disbanded. All went quite for some time until 2003 when out of nowhere comes Lovely.
A throw-back to the old days Lovely is firm on wit and thick with riffs. Gratefully Holmes vocals have not improved over the years, at times sounding surprising like Johnny Rotten without the accent. Jones guitar adds a lot of meat in just the right places but the band, consisting of original members Holmes, Deagle and Keringer are refreshingly spry with angst intact and fire still in the belly. This is a serious slab of retro-punk, perfect for a night in the garage.
Website: The Nothings