Jesus

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New Doom– The Upcoming Evoken’s Atra Mors & Wizard Smoke’s The Tickler EP… and three more you may’ve missed

Been gone for a minute, now I’m back with a doom-off….

As a present, a sacrifice, an offering, a supplication… for you, the doom hound, the stoner freak, the sludge lord… here’s new doom scheiße– reviews of Evoken’s upcoming Atra Mors, the new EP The Tickler from Wizard Smoke (holy shit!), and a “Have you forgotten about…?” sesh with Witchsorrow, Stoned Jesus and Ramesses.

Method

1) Chemicals introduced into subject (aka reviewer’s) bloodstream, mangoes consumed approximately one hour prior (look it up);

2) Albums played, at random, through substantial speakers at bowel-rumbling volume– subject unaware of each album artist initially.

Participants/ Results

Album1 [Evoken's Atra Mors]: death vocals, unearthly chants, like Sunn O))) with tribal drums from the prehistoric amazon, drums plod but like they love to plod, simple riffs over and over and over; long songs usually over 10 minutes– so much bass it is relaxing and numbing, very mantra-ish, makes me wanna light incense and meditate… an otherworldly power here….

Album 2 [Ramesses' Take the Curse]: mighty massive riffs, stiff drums that somehow work, black metal rasp as vocals that become Crowbar-ish during the more-melodic chorus, with maybe a bit of Orange Goblin– this is weed-by-way-of-Jack-Daniel’s-riffs: almost biker-ish but somehow too stoner… the flatted-fifth riffs sway and slosh like the tide on a distant planet with three moons and pervasive ocean coverage, sucking you in, making you sway with them to infinity but somehow you love them for it, like an infernal Stockholm syndrome….

More blast beats and black metal rasp, which quickly turns into an ugly, gaping wound of a diabolus in musica riff that wouldn’ve gotten you burned at the stake 400 years ago… speaking of which, wouldn’t “Torquemada” be a great stoner/ doom band name…? Anyhoo… many samples from old horror movies, ones generally religious/ satanic in nature… the riffs here, though with more treble than the previous album, are somehow more threatening and hard and real and present and dangerous…plaintive vocals with many layers seem to bemoan, bleatingly, their lot in life, or herein, more probably their death.. like the Wood of the Suicides, as they wail “Burn…! Burn! Burn!” at one point….

Album 3 [Stoned Jesus' Seven Thunders Roar]: sounds like Witchcraft, or less like Graveyard, stoner rock that wants to be from the 70s… memorable riffs that could be from a lost Kansas recording session, one that got only a bit out of hand… very good stoner rock, but nothing beyond the high (bong)water marks of the genre….

AAAAAAAND… shit just got real: this fucker has decided to simply play out the utility of  their lowest string (here what I think is drop C tuning), to the stoner metal/rock version of the end of Pantera’s “Domination,” and, though much slower, just as ferocious and intense… (the end of “Electric Mistress”).

Album 4: [ Witchsorrow's Witchsorrow] More of a NWOBHM intro here, but catchy and intense, not unlike Devil’s recent offering… a bit like Mercyful Fate, were they more doomy… almost 70s cock rock that just didn’t care quite enough to make the radio… anger without enthusiasm, i.e., depression….

Album 5: [Wizard Smoke's The Tickler]: very brief, for doom metal, psychedelic intro, then with a charging, you should listen to this driving through the desert type riff, almost like Ministry’s “Jesus built my hotrod…” Then that oh so familiar, vocal-chord-shredding vocal from Wizard Smoke’s singer James Halcrow… next track intros with the first line “Oh, stop your crying, it doesn’t taste that bad…” which is a fucking awesome way to start a song… said song continues to swagger and sway its cocksure blend of stoner metal and rock with a bit of doom in the background… if The Tickler isn’t a fave of the denizens of this site upon its release, I’ll be amazed.

Conclusions

Dude– they’re all awesome or I wouldn’t be writing about them. Check any of them out (and The Tickler when it’s released) and you, my friend, will do well.

Olatunji Concert, cover image

John Coltrane, The Olatunji Concert (The last live recording)

I have literally all of Coltrane’s Impulse! label CDs, as well as the vast majority of his recordings for a myriad other labels.

The Olatunji Concert (below reviewed, if you’re patient) is Trane’s last live recording: he died at age 40 in 1967.

Putting any Coltrane CD/record on is like devout Catholics lighting a censer: I trust it completely.

Coltrane taught me to love jazz (and was my gateway drug to the whole genre, if you will); he is why I play tenor and soprano sax. He is why I play anything but a guitar and drums.

In my mind Coltrane, like early-era Metallica, is the ideal artist:

in the grandest, most pretentious, and most indespensible way possible, he’s what all humans should aspire to: he does what he wants, when he wants, in an attempt (however futile or not, depending on your view) to connect to Divinity. To express himself as purely as possible, and to be heard in this way by others.

So with this first of the posthumous releases (obviously?), we get what is referred to as late-period Coltrane.

For those of you not up-to-the-minute on jazz mythology (which probably speaks well of you), “late period” Coltrane means free jazz, which means solos as absolutely-goddamn-long-as-we-wanna-take-them.

In all honesty, it means the type of jazz that may’ve, in some great probability, turned you off of jazz in the first place (if you’re not a fan). It means noodling, and annoying effete intellectuals describing using the “negative space” in soloing– it means balding geeks who majored in music composition talking about “playing what’s not there, man….”

Now, you’re gonna have to trust me here. But I think I’m onto something, and you might benefit from reading further:

Jazz…

is the greatest form of music– ever.

Even beyond metal– and this is from someone who has listened to, for the most part worshipped (and reviewed, as perhaps you’ve noticed) metal for over 30 years.

I love metal like a mother loves her children– no hyperbole.

But jazz, real jazz, is music with talented musicians who feel each other’s presence like Jean Gray psychically feels Scott Summers– it’s the closest humans get to God Making Sound.

I know:  it’s quite a claim.

Both ‘Trane’s grandfathers were preachers– and I genuinely doubt this is a coincidence. If you listen to a typical interview with him, he sounds like the archetypal preacher– slow-spoken, contemplative… suggestively all-knowing, yet humble.

I owe a small fortune, the GNP of a small island nation, in student loan debt for my psychology degrees– but I would punch Carl Jung and Rollo May in the face for the chance to talk to John Coltrane, even for a few minutes.

The fact is, I could’ve review any Coltrane album: for my own site, I’ve review several of his (in my mind, however limited that may be) better records. But note the cover photo, above: we’re talking about a man who made his reputation on playing a particular instrument (the tenor, and later the soprano, sax) and was so debilitated by disease that he couldn’t continue to play the tenor sax physically (they usually weigh about 22 lbs) and so laid down and continued to play the flute on some tracks because it was all he could lift.

This fact embarrasses me when I complain about my callused hands from playing the guitar.

The wailing, the noise from the tenor, pushes you towards some questions:

is it clinically interesting, as in “so this is what a psychotic break sounds like?”;

is it viscerally interesting, as is “Yes! This is touching God!”;

Yes to both, though I guess is depends on for whom you’re rooting.

It’s three (though essentially two) tracks over its hour-long-ish running time. The first track is a half-minute intro from Dr. Billy Taylor (who unfortunately died recently) and the remaining two tracks are “Ogunde,” (29 minutes, from Trane’s recent Expression LP, his last studio recording),  and the Coltrane standard “My Favorite Things” (35 minutes) in a form Julie Andrews only dreamt of in her opium night-sweats. Assuming she had those, I mean. She seems kinda clean-cut, but you never know.

Pharoah Sanders is here too, on the tenor, as is Coltrane’s wife Alice on the piano, along with Jimmy Garrison on the bass, Rashied Ali on drums, Algie DeWitt on the Batá drum and Jumma Santos on percussion.

If you’re new to jazz, genre-curious, one might say– do NOT start with this.

That would be like someone who’s decided they like might like Bon Jovi being told to check out Watain. This is the extreme end of free-jazz, and even many jazz aficionados don’t like it. If you want to dip your toe in, start with Coltrane’s Ballads or Miles Davis’ (also featuring Coltrane) Kind of Blue. Then decide if you wanna go further.

If you do play it, play it loud and give it your utmost attention. And I’m not gonna lie, this record is ideally suited to being very, distinctly, high.

You know, like the best metal.

Crowbar, Sever The Wicked Hand

Crowbar, Sever the Wicked Hand

I’ve been listening to this one on and off for months now, and somehow suddenly noticed that there were no Crowbar reviews here…

…which seemed… wrong.

Is Kirk Weinstein and his Crowbar boys’ newest album in 6 years the semi-religious experience we’d hoped?

…Decibel magazine, after all, placed it at #29 of the year…..

Well…

Nah.

Not really.

I’m pretty sure that the #29 placing was more a nod to Weinstein’s massive influence over/ creation of sludge metal in general.

Yeah, you say–but this is a site predominantly for riffs…. Are there great riffs on here, even if overall it’s not the best album?

Holy Goddamn Stoned Trippin’ Jesus on a stick– fiz-uck yes/ ja/oui/da/ci!

“Liquid Sky and Cold Black Earth,” after the requisite feedback, fires up a bowel-vacating riff that tells you exactly what Candlemass would’ve sounded like, were they from south Louisiana; “Let Me Mourn” opens with a fucking great detuned Behemoth of a riff, which then is actually topped by the riff that closes “The Cemetery Angels,” i.e.,  “BRING! IT! DOWN!!”– and it’s here that one notices the connection, mood and melody-wise, between sludge metal and traditionally-African American spirituals– not surprising, considering New Orleans’ Catholic heritage and slavery.

I dunno. Maybe I’m taking this too seriously because I was born in and am from New Orleans. Overall, usually one or two riffs from each tune beats the shit out of any new sludge that comes out now.

Maybe… this is good shit that could, no… should be… fucking Great.

The problem is, we expect so much from Weinstein– but only because we know he can deliver: his half-assed cast-off riffs are usually streets ahead of any kids’ new to the genre.

So get with it Kirk: quit screwing around and rock the planet with your sludge riffs. We don’t have time for less than your God-granted/ inspired best. World’s gonna end in like 12 months. Get on that. Make your potential manifest like the aurora borealis– or better yet:

nuclear winter.

Pharoah Sanders, Karma cover

Pharoah Sanders, Karma

Perhaps his best-known work (outside of his sideman duties with ‘Trane)… Karma is blah blah blah

As I was saying, Karma is two songs, “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” and “Colors….”

Sanders, with his big-bore mouthpiece and stomach-based sound… the high-gain galaxy piercing sax version of death metal guitar…. then with piano, then bells (because the best jazz is still, 40 years later, more open-minded than metal or any other genre)– then at 1:45 Leon Thomas and his baritone singing….

“Colors” starts with Sanders’ unmistakable tenor, replete with aggressive trills….

It’s fun stuff.

Get it, cheap! (2 freakin’ dollars….)