Don’s Stiff Willy (Mast o’ Don)

Mastodon are alright, aren’t they.

We’ve been full of admiration for them in the past, chiefly on the basis of their absurd beard/identical twin line-up dynamic. But they’ve done a decent record or two. Trouble is, it’s hard to say with much enthusiasm that Crack the Skye was among them.

It wasn’t bad, was it? But it wasn’t great either. Why? I dunno. I listened to it once or maybe twice and went ‘Hm. Yes.’ and I’ve ignored it ever since, besides the instrumental bonus tracks. What they really need to do, right – and this is officially sanctioned Demon Pigeon iron-clad, atomic clock, bankable advice – is get back to bellowing like they did before. And they have literally every reason in the world to listen to my opinion on their music.

Or maybe they don’t even need to do that. I heard from a friend whose mate told him that the word on the grapevine is that they’ve done some music for the Jonah Hex film, and it is wickid sick an that. Have a listen to it:

Innit.

I think there might be an EP and that, but I don’t know for sure and I’m too wired to be bothered looking it up. Reportedly, though, the film is bollocks. I have zero intention of ever watching it, so unless one of those other bottom-feeding critics hereabouts decides they fancy a bit of low-hanging fruit, I guess you’ll never know. Not if you don’t read it here. NOT FOR SURE.

Though it’d be a pity if the genuinely best thing Mastodon have done in mammoth’s age gets dragged down into the obscure murk along with the film, wouldn’t it?

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Anathema- We’re Here Because We’re Here

(kScope)

I keep making a grade-A tit of myself in front of members of Anathema. The first time was at Bloodstock festival last year. I’d decided on a whim that I’d interview them because I was a bit drunk, and thought coming back with more than one garbled interview would make me look pretty ace in front of my editor (I was doing a write up for a site with a naughty name, called metal as fudge).

Anyway it was my first real interview (I’d interviewed Die Apokaliptischen Reiters a day earlier, but that doesn’t count because they fucking suck) and I was nervous, because I actually like the band. So, sunburnt to fuck, wearing a stupid hat and dying for the loo, I sat down with the singer Danny Cavanagh and tried to conduct an interview. It didn’t go too badly, and I don’t think he wanted to give me a slap, but I did seize up more than once, and babbled incoherently about Mike Patton and wanking. Well done me. He was very nice though, so I thought I got away with it. Soooo, as soon as I got back, I set about trying to transcribe it…

FORGOT TO PRESS RECORD DIDN’T I?

Fuck my life.

The next time was at Damnation Festival. I didn’t interview them, but I did bump into the bass player (who is another Cavanagh. They’re like the fucking Baldwins). I started doing the drunk fan bullshit, and he couldn’t hear a word I was saying because Lock Up were playing, so he politely excused himself as I kept garbling on. Not as bad as talking about wanking, but still, I look back and cringe. I bet the next time I encounter them they accidentally cop a look at my ballsack or something.

Aaaaaaaaanyway, their new album. It’s gorgeous. Anathema started out as a doomy metal band, but unlike certain peers who shall remain nameless (coughmydyingbridesplutter), they’ve actually managed to evolve and stay interesting. They’re basically alt rock now, which is brilliant for me because I find metal so unutterably depressing at the minute. Seriously, I’ve had some shocking promos recently that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get round to reviewing because they’re that fucking awful. One of them was for an album called Death Race for fucks sake. I hear so much as a pinch harmonic ever again I’ll shoot myself.

No such nonsense on We’re Here Because We’re Here though. I can honestly say I’ve played the living cum out of it. In my exclusive chat that you can read nowhere but in my head, Danny Cavanagh told me he loved Radiohead, and you can tell. The emaciated wonky-eyed ghost of Thom Yorke seems to float a wee bit through these songs, although there’s none of the millenial paranoia that he’s famous for. These are romantic, windswept songs that you could play to your girlfriend/ spouse/ whore after a blarney, and she would fall back into your arms and you could make love like sea otters on the beach after eating lobster or something. So really I shouldn’t be listening to it, because I cannot exaggerate how utterly and completely I detest women at the minute.

Searing misogyny aside, this is really nice and good and you should go buy it and stuff I dunno. Also people from Stirling are thick as FUCK.

www.anathema.ws

Sticking up for the little man part 1.

Here at Demon Pigeon Towers we have a distinct appreciation for the little man, and I don’t mean Andrei Arshavin. While all the mega festivals are omnipresent, taking all of the big bands, all of the publicity and the biggest audiences, there are some quality smaller festivals out there, and we feel it’s our responsibility, nay, our duty to focus on these out-gunned little fellas. Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that getting the PR company for Download to take you seriously when you have a name like Demon Pigeon is nigh on impossible, especially when you have a smaller readership than the back of the empty milk carton that sits in my back garden for some reason never making it into the recycle bin.

Running a festival must seem like a thankless task at times, but one imagines that it gets a bit easier when you have a killer line up to announce, which is exactly what Damnation Festival has managed. Now in its sixth year, this Leeds-based festival has had great word of mouth for years, winning awards for their previous shindig, but with their opening two band salvo they managed to get your dear editor as moist as a dewy lawn. First up, they have bagged the live return of one of Britain’s best and conversely least appreciated bands, Earthtone9. having broken up in 2002, there is every chance that the younger of you will have missed them, and if this is the case then get yourself over to www.earthtone9.co.uk where the band have decided to announce their return with a free 16 track best of, which quite frankly has more belting tunes on it than most bands will ever hope to achieve, all wrapped up in a big ball of off-kilter rythyms and the towering monolithic voice of Karl Middleton. I was lucky enough to see them several times the first time round, and unless they have all developed rickets in the off years, their return should prove to defecate loudly over all the other gigs you will see this year.

The second band announced so far is The Dillinger Escape Plan. I don’t think any of our readers will be unfamiliar with my stalking admiration of this band, given that I made their album my album of the decade, spewed forth platitudes in an interview, and then rounded it all off by ejaculating with words over their latest opus. So put them together and you have a rather exciting line up so far. Of course the good people at Damnation could ruin it all by filling up the rest of the line up with the likes of Helloween and Lostprophets. Equally it could go the other way and they could announce the reformation of Kyuss, and an appearance by the benevolent zombie Jesus. But so far, we like what we see, and given that the price is a paltry £30 for the whole day, you could easily argue that they could fill out the line up with Ricky and Bianca from Eastenders reading the works of Tolstoy and it would already be worth the money.

If you want tickets, or more info, you should go here.

Web – http://www.damnationfestival.co.uk

Myspace – http://www.myspace.com/damnationfestival

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/damnationfestival

Twitter – http://twitter.com/damnationfest

Everybody loves a freebie

Normally we tend to ignore the massive influx that spews into our inboxes from record companies and PR types, since they have a tendency to be utterly wrong for us, or boring, or both. There are a few record companies, however, for whom this is not the case. The benevolent folks over at Hydra Head are such, and so this morning we were very pleased to find that they have been benevolent enough to cast from their lofty thrones a free compilation CD for you lovely readers to download.

Of course, this being a compilation, some of it you will have heard, some of it is unreleased, some of it is not worth hearing (although this is pleasently low as a ratio of the whole). But overall this is a quality release from a company that has more of them to its name that most major labels. So if you fancy yourself a new CD of Oxbow, Knut, Cave In, Torche, Xasthur, Harvey Milk and all the rest of the Hydra Head family, get yourself here and download yourself some free goodness.

Tracklisting:

1. Oxbow + Philippe Thiphaine – “Coalking” From Songs for the French (5:46)

2. Daughters – “The First Supper” From “s/t” (3:18)

3. Bohren & Der Club Of Gore – “Unkerich” From Dolores (5:31)

4. Knut – “Calamity” From Wonder (1:43)

5. The Austerity Program – “Song 27” From Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn (4:04)

6. Pyramids With Nadja – “Another War” From Pyramids With Nadja (15:27)

7. Helms Alee – “Lionize” From Lionize/Truly 7″ (2:45)

8. Hayaino Daisuki – “Ghosts of Purgatory” From The Invincible Gate Mind of the Infernal Fire Hell, or Did You Mean Hawaii Daisuki? (2:43)

9. Harvey Milk – “I Know This Is No Place For You” From A Small Turn of Human Kindness (5:07)

10. La Gritona – “Tony Alamo” From Demasiado Tonto Para Los Ninos Listos. Demasiado Listo Para Los Ninos Tontos (4:38)

11. Stephen Brodsky – “Here In Spirit” From Here’s to the future (5:54)

12. Jodis – “Continents” From Secret House (7:27)

13. Nihill – “Mundus Subterreanus” From Krach (5:16)

14. Cave In – “Retina Sees Rewind” From Planets of Old (2:30)

15. Kayo Dot – “II. Whisper Ineffable” From Coyote (11:13)

16. Keelhaul – “THC for One” from Keelhaul’s Triumphant Return to Obscurity (3:34)

17. Clouds – “New Bombs” From B Chuggas May Be Logging (2:08)

18. Xasthur – “UNTITLED 4/05” From 2005 Demo (7:02)

19. GridLink – “Amber Gray” From Amber Gray (1:06)

20. Greymachine – “Wasted” From Disconnected (8:43)

21. Bergraven – “Hunger” From Till Makabert Vasen (7:08)

22. Torche – “UFO” From Songs For Singles (2:01)

Samsara Blues Experiment- Long Distance Trip

(World in Sound)

The hemi rumbled, wobbling the car on its minimal suspension. Hunkered over the steering wheel, the stuntman tested the loud pedal, drilled and heated by the baking Arizona sunshine. He could barely move, so securely was he strapped down. A little play in his ankle to get the pedal to the floor, just enough space to twitch the wheel one way or the other, and of course, the matte red button duct taped to the wheel within reach of his thumb.

The car had more or less been built around him on the hardpan, by the dedicated crewmen whose counsel he had come to depend upon these last few months. Now, he squinted past a blinding tension headache, searching the heat haze for the distant crowd, barely visible past the thick black window nets. He recognised nobody. So many had come to watch his hour of glory, and yet he had scarcely felt more isolated.

He concentrated instead on the tiny red strobe a mile distant, waiting for it to shift to blue-green. That was his Rubicon now, the threshold where one moment became the next; where a man became a legend.

Trepidation hung like a pall across the desert, as if the crowd struggled as one for its breath. Dimly, the stuntman wondered if the tension had been amplified by his confused, stumbling address, delivered just moments before from his cramped, contortionist’s cabin via radio microphone.

“Now, you all know how much I admire Hitler,” he had begun, then immediately spluttered to a stop. The reaction of the crowd was impossible to gauge at this remove. He could have been talking to himself. He coughed, heard the squeal of feedback roll between the rocks from the public address system. “That, uh. That is to say, not. At all. But if I did, I imagine that he would be smiling on my endeavour today. I do this for you. For all of you. For America for, for the fatherland.” Silence. He revved the V8 for punctuation. A backwash of heat and noise rolled over the hood and into the mic, blowing the PA stacks in a shower of sparks.

Dumbly, he had thumbed the mic switch and dumped it on the passenger seat beside him. Then he’d fixed his gaze on the pulsar strobe, still red. Minutes slid by in stillness, stretched to anti-time by the strobe’s hypnosis.

It was almost a shock when he discovered himself hammering across the hardpan at 70 miles per hour and climbing, an arrowhead in front of a khaki plume, racing toward the blinking blue-green. He didn’t remember the shift.

A black line flashed past, 1500 feet out, spray-painted across the sand, and the stuntman drove his thumb deep into the red button’s shining temptation, glimpsing his wife’s face as he did so. The solid-fuel rocket behind him fired, filling the cabin with heat, vibration, and a tooth-cracking howl. The speedometer flipped to its apogee and stuck, never to return. The flames melted sand and stone into a long arrow of hot, red molten glass in his wake. The ramp loomed, now, seconds away.

He fought the screaming urge to touch the brakes as the car accelerated beyond all hope of human control, knowing he would melt the wheels solid in a demi-second and shred the tyres, reinforced or otherwise. His teeth chattered inside the white helmet, its blue and red stars shaking as if they were about to go nova. He clutched the wheel and gritted his jaw, until he thought his very bones might splinter. Smoke began to curl around the cabin. The crowds lining the approach flashed past in an incomprehensible blur, but he could spare no attention for them. Even the smouldering vinyl of the car seat, scorched under the booster’s glare, could not penetrate the stuntman’s concentration. All he knew was the wheel, the pedal, the ramp.

He drove the springs clean through the tops of the fenders when he hit. His helmet struck the ceiling, cracking vertebrae, tearing burned skin, scorched jumpsuit and melted vinyl away. But he felt nothing. Now all he could see was sky, so vast and boundless, that his momentum was only comprehensible in the unbearable trembling of the machine. Then, even that was gone.

The ruined Firestones, pitted and blistered, left the ramp. Still the rocket yawned at his back, still the heat and smoke built around him. He knew the canyon was beneath him, but he could not see it. Angled at the heavens, he seemed to float free, unmoving. He twisted his scorched, ruined back, trying to catch a glimpse through the rear window. But there was nothing beyond the booster’s incessant belch. He was a pure passenger.

Clouds drifted by, adrenaline faded, to be replaced with bone-deep fatigue. The stuntman surrendered, sagging inside his star-spangled overall. Unable to resist, his eyes slid closed, shuttering his brain, overcome by smoke and heat and rattled senseless by vibration.

He awoke to a chill that seemed to originate in his very marrow. In palpable disorientation, he tried to blink away the sleep that cobwebbed his forelobes. Night had fallen, it seemed. Blue-hued stars crusted the night ahead of him. Where was he? When had he landed? Where were the crowds awaiting his triumph, his disaster?

He looked around the cockpit of his Challenger R/T, searching for clues. There was nothing but silence. He reached for the door handle, but it was not there. The latching mechanism had been removed to save weight, the door welded shut. He’d needed assistance to get in the car, and he’d surely need it to get out again. He craned his neck, left and right, wincing against the pain of the burns on his back. Nothing but night, dusted with brilliant white stars like diamonds on velvet.

That was odd, he thought. He took a grip of the wheel, and studied the night before him. The stars ahead glinted coldy, blue like shards of ice. Those to either hand glared a familiar white. Twisting backwards, squinting past the rocket, now cold and dead silent, the stuntman glimpsed red pinpricks, livid as fire ants, swarming the night at his back. There was no discernible sign of his movement, but abruptly, he was gripped by a baseless conviction that he was not standing still. Anything but.

Nothing but nothing beneath his wheels; the planet Earth far, far behind him, the stuntman crossed the cosmos in a 500 horsepower photon machine, flying faster and harder than any daredevil ever had. He was in space, light years from Arizona, and somehow he knew it. Subjective time trickled past him like treacle as he dove into the blue-shift, gaining velocity in increments of infinity. He gave the wheel an experimental nudge to the left, and sensed the car’s broad snout shifting, even though he could see no indication of his trajectory’s change.

He was the world’s first space-daredevil. The thought tickled him deep in his being, and he was unable to suppress a hysterical whoop.

But what now, he wondered? What was there to do, to see? The stars were not visibly approaching. Even at his ludicrous speed, he might not reach another solar system for a hundred years or more. He frowned at this. He was driving a ’70 Challenger R/T at the speed of light or quicker. Earthly physics seemed to have excused him. What was inconceivable now?

His eyes were suddenly drawn to a certain point in space. At first, he didn’t know what his eye sought out. Then he caught it. A dot, moving against the static backdrop, a deeper blue than the rest. Its hue shifted continually, blue, purple, red, and back again. Its movement told him it was much closer than the stars. He grinned beneath the helmet, and turned the wheel.

The speck grew, faster than he expected. It took on the aspect of a flower, petals rippling. As he approached, he saw the colours shifted not only between blue and red, but across the entire spectrum. It seemed he glimpsed shades he had never even imagined before, let alone seen. The surface of the flower rippled with detail. It appeared no further from his face than the end of the car’s hood. And yet, it continued to grow, and grow, revealing more and more layers, depths of fractal complexity, until it filled the entire forward view.

He did not know how long he fell into the face of that cosmic bloom. Fresh details never stopped presenting themselves, the shifting of its colours never abated. Minutes, hours or days might have passed. He imagined himself a speck, growing ever more infinitesimal against the enveloping arc of the bloom, and yet still he fell. More than anything, he wished his crew hadn’t removed his eight-track player; that his Hawkwind tapes were still in the car.

The shifting kaleidoscopic detail at the centre of the bloom gradually began to resolve itself, became a point of reference against the smeared paintbox around him. It loomed out of the morass with alarming speed, and vertiginous nausea bubbled in his throat. Before another second had passed, he was close enough to make it out. A stage, bricked high with red 1969 Marshall stacks, a band of four men on its back. Incense burned at the base of the microphone stand, and a set of blue sunburst drum shells loomed on the riser, heads picked out in white. A crowd was gathered before that edifice, and somehow he already knew what he would see.

The band had his face, plus 30 years. The crowd too, circling in front of him, wore his aged likeness, bald, toothless and grey. The crowd was marching around and around in concentric circles, one against the other, at the bloom’s very heart. The car lanced through the circle’s exact centre, and stopped, as if driven radiator-first through the floor. His own haggard selves danced past him, up to down on the one hand, down to up on the other.

A bright, livid anxiety overtook him. What could it mean? Paralysed for a moment, he swallowed against the knot in his throat, twisting the wheel between his fists, toeing the pedals ineffectually. The cosmos held no allure now, all it had done was bring him face-to-face with a nightmare. He felt his mind bulging against the enormity of it, struggling to contain what he was witnessing. The music droned around him, audible somehow in the vacuum. The circle pit of his blank-eyed selves, moist toothless jaws working against one another, wound around and around, an infinite ouroboros of his id. His terror built, climbing out of his stomach and up through his throat until he screamed, muffled and hoarse behind the crash helmet. His hand fumbled blindly forward, finding the gear shift. He shoved it away, then tugged it in, not caring what gear he found so long as it was ‘away’.

A year later, the car was finally discovered, by sheer chance, more than 200 miles distant from the canyon. A year previously, the eager crowd had gathered on the other side of the gulf, awaiting the denouement of this incredible stunt, but the car had never landed. Eventually they had lost sight of its contrail over the horizon. And though the desert was quartered and searched, no sign of it had ever been found.

Now, smoking on broken axles, the useless car squatted in the desert wastes, eroded and corroded, its cavities home to heavens-knew-what. Of the stuntman, the only sign was the microphone in the singed passenger seat, and the fingernails, still embedded in the steering wheel. No tracks leading to or from the vehicle. The single discernible clue to the mystery of the car was an ethereal music that seemed to bleed between the gaps in its panels, only audible when you were not really listening for it.

This is what it sounded like:

Mouth Of The Architect – The Violence Beneath

The noble art of the EP has been a good way for a band to test a new direction amongst its loyal fanbase, and this is no doubt the intent here, with this ep from Ohio sludge metallers Mouth Of The Architect. On their last album, ‘Quietly’ they peddled a solid but unremarkable line in Neurosis worship, with hints of Cult of Luna thrown in for good measure. It was all well and good, but nothing really to write home about, hence their inability to really crack the big leagues of ‘post metal’ or ‘sludge doom’ or whatever the fuck people call the music that sounds like this. Now, with a changed line up, this EP is an attempt to show that they can grow and move on and stuff.

All well and good, except what we really have here is a very poorly put together EP. Last year Cave In returned with an EP that was barnstorming, because it put forth their new sound with viguor, panache, style and most importantly cohesion. What we have here instead are two new songs, one old live song with the old line up, and a Peter Gabriel cover that sounds nothing at all like the old or the new material. Of the new material they do have, opener ‘The Violence Beneath’ displays that the band’s new direction is actually quite interesting, with the ‘Times of Grace’-era Neurosis riff being tempered with some Kylesa sludge and more of a doomy, Eyehategod swagger. The vocals are quite crushing, with a two pronged attack that works really well. It could perhaps do with either a little more variation over its seven minute length, or by being a bit shorter, but it comes out of the gate kicking and screaming, and is pretty impressive. Second track ‘Buried Hopes‘ shows that the band have heard the last Converge album, and really liked its closing track, and so they would like to do something along the same lines. Before they get to the Converge-y bit though, they nick ‘Steel That Sleeps the Eye‘ off the last Baroness album as an intro. It’s not a bad song, but it is derivative to the point of pointlessness.

After the two new tracks, the live performance of a new song ‘Restore,‘ sounds like it was off the last album (and left off for a reason) and is perfectly acceptable, in fact quite a nice production for a live recording. But again, pointless. As for the cover of Peter Gabriel‘s ‘In Your Eyes‘ well, it’s a cover of a Peter Gabriel song. It’s slow, quite pretty, a bit doomy, and quite pleasant, if ultimately a bit forgettable. Although, to be fair, I find listening to Peter Gabriel to be the aural equivalent of watching Hollyoaks. No matter how much I focus on it, my brain refuses to acknowledge its existence, so it sucks time out of my life and leaves a bitter shallow husk. Much like Peter Gabriel, one imagines.

So overall, the first track does what the EP is supposed to, which is showcase a new direction for a band that seems to struggle to find its own place in a crowded scene, but the rest of the EP seems determined to work to counteract that. With a bit more effort you could imagine that this could have been an interesting move, and I hope that by the time their new line up brings out a new album proper, that we can see more of the former, and less of the latter.

5/10