Earthless Release New Track

California’s veteran psych-jam trio Earthless released its new track, End to End, via Scion AV. The track clocks in at a measly four minutes – far below the band’s typical 20 minute jams – but carries all of the firepower. Additionally, the track marks the return of vocals to Earthless’s sound. The song can be streamed here.

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Thrice to Return 2016

Post-hardcore act Thrice announced via Facebook that it will release a new record next year. The news comes after the band revoked its 2011 hiatus to play multiple festivals in 2015, including Surf Fest and Riot Fest. No other details regarding the new record have surfaced.

More information can be found at the band’s official website.

Gazpacho’s Molok Is Not the Art Rock Masterpiece You’re Looking For

Expectations are often our own worst enemies. We hear an exciting, novel record for the first time and fall head over heels like starry-eyed saps. Soon after, we begin constructing the absurd mythology of a band “too big to fail.” Gazpacho’s Demon worked as the perfect lure for that trap. Haunting, bizarre and curiously beautiful, 2014’s progressive rock sleeper hit found the band firing on all creative cylinders for a career milestone – an album that, by all accounts, will go down as one of art rock’s overlooked gems. Molok, the follow-up to 2014’s masterful Demon, seemed primed for rounds of universal praise, and it’s probably going to get it. Best-of-the-year lists will likely make room for the Norwegian ensemble’s latest record. Droves of avid listeners will likely throw the album into heavy rotation. But I won’t. Gazpacho’s Molok isn’t what I hoped for, and it’s my own fault for expecting perfection.

A major reason for this lukewarm reception is the band’s approach to songwriting, which finds Ohme and company once again discarding the extended, long-form compositions of Night and Demon in favor of bite-sized chunks of sound. This wouldn’t be an issue, however, if Molok’s thematic and conceptual depth didn’t demand more from each individual track. “Algorithm” effectively grips the listener by the throat with its ominous, tribal soundscapes but loses hold just as quickly; it merely segues into another track and never truly develops beyond beleaguered sighs and pounding rhythms.

Elsewhere, “Bela Kiss” quickly earns its spot as Gazpacho’s most curious track to date. It’s an ethnic romp with little substance, not dissimilar in sound from the Italian tarantella outro of “Wizard of Altai Mountains” but without the impact. Oddly, the track isn’t attached to a more substantial centerpiece, and it doesn’t carry enough fire to warrant itself as a standalone composition. These tracks would have served well as smaller pieces in a larger whole — small segments in the vivid, sprawling sonic canvases the band has so thoroughly demonstrated its talent in coloring. “Algorithm” and “Bela Kiss” aren’t the only offenders here: they’re just the most egregious.

It’s a shame, too, because Molok is one Gazpacho’s best sounding records. “Know Your Time” sports a spacious mix that allows each instrument room to breathe, evoking the band’s trademarked ethereal wonderment with ease. But even the record’s brightest moments flicker out when put into perspective. Gorgeous as it is, “Know Your Time” is a retread of familiar territory. In many ways it’s the prototypical Gazpacho song. River-of-glass vocals? Check. Haunting atmospherics? Check. The subdued percussion of “Choir of Ancestors” is a smart production choice, allowing Ohme’s smooth vocals to take center-stage, but, ultimately, it feels a bit hollow – like an excerpt from material that wasn’t strong enough to get out of the cutting room last time around.

Despite this, Molok isn’t a poor effort, or even an average one. It’s decidedly good, but when a band has consistently raised the bar to herculean heights – Night, anyone? – it becomes progressively harder to be impressed. 2014’s Demon introduced bizarre instrumentation and unexpected twists into the group’s arsenal, but Molok merely doubles down and dumbs down. Nothing here caries the ethereal, cinematic sweep of “I’ve Been Walking, Pt. 2” and nothing hits quite as hard as Ohme’s dramatic declaration of “I lost it down the rabbit hole” in “I’ve Been Walking, Pt. 1.” Molok, in many ways, seems natural as a next step for the group: it continues to divorce the band’s sound from the sea of uninspired prog-rock tribute acts. That’s a great move, but opting for refinement over revolution only works if you’re actually upping the ante, and, sadly, that’s where Gazpacho drops the ball. Molok certainly isn’t a revolution, but it’s not really a refinement, either: it’s a band in suspended animation.

6/10

The Dear Hunter Maintains its Record of Excellence with “Act IV”

Fire engulfs a mounted ring, and the crowd roars with excitement. The ringleader cracks a whip, cutting through the air like a gunshot. His lion roars and primes itself; its tail sweeps gently to and fro as its eyes narrow. Then it happens. The beast leaps through the flames with triumphant swagger, spinning circles as it lands. Fireworks burst through the air, and men on unicycles ride across tightropes in the sky. Every member of the audience explodes with applause. This is the level of bombast Casey Crescenzo achieves with The Dear Hunter. Since 2006, Crescenzo has been crafting one of music’s most ambitious projects – a six-part story of loss, love and redemption told over the course of six albums. If that sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. What’s also ridiculous is just how consistently good this project has been. Defying all the odds, Crescenzo’s magnum opus has gone swimmingly so far. Infectious hooks, orchestral excursions and progressive songwriting all coalesce into an unmistakable sound that’s garnered a cult status among underground music fans. Good news, then, because Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise keeps The Dear Hunter’s tradition of excellence alive and well.

Much of Act IV’s success comes from Crescenzo’s self-awareness; he seems to know himself as an artist inside and out at this point in his career. He knows he’s at his best when he goes for broke, and “The OId Haunt” is as good an example as any. Rollicking bass and tumultuous guitar leads snake beneath a solid percussive backbone before erupting into an explosive, roaring chorus. It’s a moment of exhilaration and triumph for Crescenzo, who’s fully bought into his own capacity as storyteller. Moments like these work to sell the narrative and drive it home. It’s obvious that the band has bought into this story, but standout performances like these will buy the audience in, too.  As good as that track is, I’d be remiss not to bring up “Waves,” one of the year’s finest songs. Here, Crescenzo plays to another side of The Dear Hunter’s persona: emotional resonance. Swelling strings, crashing drums and female vocal accompaniment come together into a wrecking ball of emotional force. When Crescenzo’s final lament of “but I can’t see the lighthouse” bursts through the speakers it’s a gut punch of Mayweather proportions – one that will stay with you long after the record’s stopped spinning. This isn’t the only track on Act IV to evoke a potent reaction; it just happens to be the most effective of the lot.

Despite these standouts, it’s hard to shake the thought that many listeners will grow fatigued before the album’s end. This isn’t an issue of quality, but of energy. Cresecenzo’s larger-than-life personality and sharp narrative focus may demand too much investment from casual listeners, but honestly, this album was never for them. You won’t unearth the record’s subtleties on your first listen, and you certainly won’t realize how deep its hooks have sunk until later still. Tracks like the narrative-heavy “Bitter Suite IV and V” and the nine minute “A Night on The Town” aren’t easy listening – you will expend energy to get these songs. This might sound like a hazard sign, but don’t let it deter you; the effort required here is worth it. Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise is a fantastic, ambitious record if you allow it time to spread its wings. This may not be the easiest rock album of the year, but it’s certainly earned its place as one of the most impressive.

8.7/10

Deerhunter Detail New Album

Atlanta-based indie rock outfit Deerhunter has detailed its upcoming studio album, Fading Frontier. The record is slated for an October 16 release via 4AD Records and will follow up 2013’s Monomania. You can view the album art and track list below:

fadingfrontier

  1. All The Same
  2. Living My Life
  3. Breaker
  4. Duplex Planet
  5. Take Care
  6. Leather And Wood
  7. Snakeskin
  8. As Astra
  9. Carrion

More information regarding the band and its upcoming album can be found here.

Clutch Reveal New Album

Maryland-based heavy rock veterans Clutch have announced their new album Psychic Warfare. The record is due for an October 8 release via the band’s own label, Weathermaker Music. Psychic Warfare follows the band’s much-lauded Earth Rocker, hailed by critics and fans alike as a return to the vigorous, high-velocity guitar attack of the band’s early 2000’s material.

clutchsychiccd

  1. The Affidavit
  2. X-Ray Visions
  3. Firebirds
  4. A Quick Death in Texas
  5. Sucker for the Witch
  6. Your Love is Incarceration
  7. Doom Saloon
  8. Our Lady of Electric Light
  9. Noble Savage Clutch
  10. Behold the Colossus
  11. Decapitation Blues
  12. Son of Virginia

More information regarding the band and its new album can be found via Blabbermouth.

The Dear Hunter’s “Act IV” Detailed

The Dear Hunter has unveiled new details about its upcoming album, “Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise.” The album is currently slated for an August 21 release. “Night on the Town,” the first promotional single, debuts tomorrow. The album’s tracklisting can be viewed below:

1. Rebirth
2. Old Haunt
3. Waves
4. At The End Of The Earth
5. Remembered
6. Night On The Town
7. Is There Anybody Here?
8. Squeaky Wheel
9. Bitter Suite IV & V: The Congregation And The Sermon In The Silt
10. Bitter Suite VI: Abandon
11. King Of Swords
12. If All Goes Well
13. Line
14. Wait
15. Ouroboros

More information regarding The Dear Hunter’s new album can be found here.

Faith No More Stream “Sol Invictus”

Faith No More is streaming its new album “Sol Invictus” via NPR’s First Listen. The album marks the band’s first set of new studio material since 1996’s “Album of the Year.”

Late last year, the band released its first song from the new album, the quirky, profane “Motherfucker.” Later, the band teamed up with Marvel entertainment to release its second single, “Superhero.”

Currently, the band is set to take its tour to Europe where it will play a number of dates before heading back to the United States in July, hitting Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia and more.

The new album hits shelves May 19 in both digital and physical formats. More information regarding the band can be found via its official website.

Failure Detail “The Heart is a Monster”

Legendary 90’s outfit Failure have detailed their upcoming album, “The Heart is a Monster.” The album is currently slated for a June 30 release via INresidence. The album marks the band’s first full-length LP since 1996’s “Fantastic Planet.”

failuretheheartisamonster

01. Segue 4
02. Hot Traveler
03. A.M. Amnesia
04. Snow Angel
05. Atom City Queen
06. Segue 5
07. Counterfeit Sky
08. Petting the Carpet
09. Mulholland Drive
10. Fair Light Era
11. Segue 6
12. Come Crashing
13. Segue 7
14. The Focus
15. Otherwhere
16. Segue 8
17, I Can See Houses
18. Segue 9