Konvent – Puritan Masochism (Napalm Records, 24 January 2020)
Good afternoon, readers. How are things where you are? Here, we’ve had a few pleasant and sunny days in a row, which is certainly a rarity. But today is a typically dismal and dreary Tuesday. So fittingly, it’s time to listen to some dismal and dreary music.
Without any further ado, here is Puritan Masochism by Copenhagen’s Konvent.
Kirk Windstein – Dream in Motion (eOne Heavy / Entertainment One, 24 January 2020)
Exactly twenty-five years and eleven months ago, on the 24th of March 1994, the sixth episode of the fourth season of Beavis and Butthead aired on MTV. That was the first exposure — for myself, and I suspect for many others who were teenagers at that time — to the music of Crowbar, as that episode included a portion of the New Orleanian sludge innovators’ “All I Had (I Gave)” video. (For the record, yes I do have a fairly good memory, but no I did not know all of those details off the top of my head; thank you to Wikipedia.)
Anyway, that day marked a pivotal moment in my music fandom. What I heard on that show prompted me to pick up a copy of the band’s self-titled 1993 album, and their blending of sheer heaviness with absolute raw emotion had me hooked for life. That combination is what has set the band apart from most of their peers and imitators over the years. And now after nearly a dozen albums with Crowbar (in addition to participating in a handful of other people’s projects over the past three decades) the founder, vocalist and guitarist Kirk Windstein, has released a solo record — eschewing some of the heaviness this time around, but retaining every bit of the passion and intensity.
Yob – Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot Recordings, 02 September 2014)
Yob – Our Raw Heart (Relapse Records, 08 June 2018)
Oregonian doom trio Yob vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt has always had a distinctive voice. Whether it’s as a member of Lumbar or making a guest appearance with Red Fang or a whole plethora of others, there’s just no mistaking who is singing. Piercing and powerful, like Conan‘s Jon Davis, expressive and emotional like Argus/Molasses Barge‘s Butch Balich, and always just a bit grizzled and weathered like Wino or Lemmy.
But since the last time we heard from these guys (Clearing the Path to Ascend, which in a year filled with tough competition, still came out as our clear #1 album of 2014), some serious health complications cast some doubt as to whether we might ever hear that voice again. You can read all about that journey in this Rolling Stone interview, where the band’s sole remaining founding member (over twenty years ago!) describes his harrowing experiences while also discussing the creation of Our Raw Heart.
The album was “largely penned from what he worried would be his deathbed,” said the magazine, quoting Scheidt as saying, “there was no guarantee that I was going to live long enough to record the album.” Fortunately for himself, his family and friends, and also for everyone on planet earth who has ears, he did survive and he did record the album, which undoubtably will be contending for the same spot in this year’s list. In this post we’ll touch upon that record from four years ago, as well as the follow-up which hits stores TODAY. Furthermore, keep on scrolling to see a list of opportunities North American readers will have to experience Yob live: for one month (starting next Thursday, 14th June) with Bell Witch or again during September with Acid King and CHRCH.
It had been rumored and speculated about ever since the band first announced that they were reuniting several years ago, but early last month it became 100% official: for the second time in less than a year, one of my favorite bands ever will be releasing a new album for the first time since I was in high school. Of course this is exciting news (that, until about five or six years ago, I would never have guessed would ever be happening again), and — with some amount of trepidation — I’m really trying to be optimistic about it. But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about.
By this point, I’m assuming any of you who would care at all about this band’s upcoming seventh album have already seen most of the information currently available — and probably even listened to one of the two pre-released singles that have come out so far. So I’m not really intending (or expecting) to inform anybody here. Instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to share an anecdotal description of my own discovery of the band, dating back multiple decades; perhaps to offer a little bit of insight into myself as a writer and a fan. I don’t know whether anyone will actually care about any of this, but considering how influential this was in my formative music-listening years, I felt like I ought to take the time to write it.
Banda de la Muerte – Pulso de una Mente Maldita (29 March 2012, Zonda Records)
So remember about two weeks ago, when I published a review of the most recent Cultura Tres album? At that time I talked about rectifying my previous oversight of South American bands, and hinted that there were two in particular I had my eye (or, ears) on. Well this is the second one: Argentina’s Banda de la Muerte.
My original plan was to write up both of these reviews and post them on the same day, but then I came to the realization that there would be so much similarity between the two, that you might get some weird sense of déjà vu — hence the delay in finishing and publishing this one. Now, I’m not trying to say that the two bands are the same or that their music is very similar; that wasn’t the problem. However, the way I first got introduced to these guys was virtually identical.
Like Cultura Tres, the name Banda de la Muerte first came to my attention as part of a European tour with Undersmile. And also, just like their neighbors to the north, these Argentinians had a song included in the recent Grip of Delusion Radio compilation The Book of Riff-elations. Once again, the band name jumped out at me when I recognized it in the track listing, and I found that I especially enjoyed their contribution, “Parte de Mi Historia” (Part of My Story).
The parallels don’t end there, either, because these guys also have had two releases, with the first one (2009’s Banda de la Muerte) being offered for a free download through Bandcamp (details included at the end of this post). Their newer album, Pulso de una Mente Maldita has been out since March (via Argentina’s Zonda Records, who also handled the earlier self-titled work), but it was recently announced that (just like Cultura Tres’ El Mal del Bien) it’s now available worldwide on vinyl (details on that included later as well).
So as you can see, there are quite a few similarities between the two bands’ stories, and in particular, my own road to discovering them. But enough of that — now I’d like to talk about what makes Banda de la Muerte unique.
So, back in January, when the news came out about Tony Iommi‘s health condition, kind words and well-wishes came pouring in from all directions (this blog included). Right around that same time, Gothenburg stoner/sludge/doom metal titans One Inch Giantmentioned on Facebook that they planned on recording a Black Sabbath cover song in tribute to the legendary guitarist. They sought suggestions from their fans as to which song they should attack.
Well, that tribute has taken four months for the band to arrange and record, but when you listen to it you’ll hear why! Instead of choosing one of the suggestions, it seems they decided to go with all of them — with a couple extra thrown in for good measure! I only heard it once through, streamed on my phone, so I can’t guarantee the accuracy of this list, but I believe I picked out a few lines or phrases from each of the following:
Phase Reverse – Phase Reverse (Aural Music, 16 December 2011)
If you enjoyed yesterday’s dose of heavy rock with a metallic edge, now I’d like to introduce you to Phase Reverse, the debut full-length from Athenian trio Phase Reverse. Originally available in a limited Greece-only release in December 2009, the album is now being made available to audiences worldwide on CD and digital download via Italian label Aural Music. Continue reading →
So we’ve all known this for weeks now, and there’s no point even really mentioning anything, right? Ok good, we’re in agreement. Stay tuned for some real actual blog updates coming very soon…
Happy Nigel Tufnel Day! (whatever you’ve got left of it wherever you live…)
And as always, thanks for reading!
Sincerely, A Denizen of the Valley
EDIT (The morning after)-
Okay, okay, might as well jump on this bandwagon.
I’m embedding the official video announcement of the Black Sabbath original line-up re-re-reunion…
After the jump. Continue reading →