Saturday 29 October 2016

An Interview with Sean Sullivan from TEN TON SLUG

Ten Ton Slug are a fairly new name to the scene. They've just released their excellent debut EP – Brutal Gluttonous Beast. An uncompromising mix of Sludge, Groove and Doom Metal. Their sound is huge as their name suggests.

If you're a fan of Pantera, Down, Crowbar and the other legendary NOLA bands then Ten Ton Slug should be right up your street. I wanted to find out more about the band as I feel these guys have a bright future. They're already starting to make a name for themselves and it's not hard to see why.

I recently caught up with Sean Sullivan (Guitars) from Ten Ton Slug and he kindly agreed to do this interview.

OOTS – You're new EP is being released. Are you excited, nervous or both of those things.

Sean – We are very excited. We recorded in 8 or 9 months ago back in 2015. Since then we've been dying to get this released. We've been gigging and kept on going since then.

OOTS – It seems it's taken a long time for the EP to come out.

Sean – There was a bit of fine tuning involved but we then entered Metal To The Masses in Ireland. It was run by Overdrive in Dublin and we started progressing through that and things got busier. We were working on the EP as we went. We said we had to get it out and just release it.

I suppose you can keep going and fine tune things forever but it's done and it's time for it to come out.

OOTS – How did the band get together.

Sean – It was originally myself and my brother Michael is the drummer. We started playing music together years ago in Connemara. We formed the basis in what would become Ten Ton Slug. We started doing this from about 10 years ago. It started getting momentum in 2014 when we got two members and filled up the lineup. Started gigging. Since then it's been gaining momentum. It's been brilliant

OOTS – Was the writing of the EP a hard or easy process.

Sean – We took our time with the writing of our EP. It came together naturally. The lyrics were inspired by a lot of different things. The harsh landscape of Connemara and the old folk tales and mythology.

The riffs came together when we imagined what would be going on when the music would be playing. The writing of the lyrics came together naturally. The recording of the EP we had a lot to learn. We are still learning and always learning as it's our first EP. We did our first session recording after a gig on Friday night. We went into the studio on Saturday and Sunday which we then tracked. The following weekend we tracked again in Northern Ireland. We are in Galway located in the West Of Ireland.

It's a 3 or 4 hour drive to get there. We go up on a Friday after work or whatever. Stay the Friday and Saturday, then we would go back on Sunday. Things are always take longer than you expected. We learnt that straight away. One of the reasons it took so long was the logistics of it all.

Recording was definitely a learning process but we know what to do when we start recording the full length album. Which we are working on already.

OOTS – Do you have an expected release date for the album.

Sean – It's too early to tell. We have 3 tunes almost finished for it. We have 6 or 7 tracks on the go in various stages of completion. We are just going to use the momentum we have to gig and keep writing new tracks for the last couple of weeks.

We are not going to force it. We are going to play them live, tweak them and pre-production next year.

OOTS – That was my next question. Are you playing these tracks on a live audience.

Sean – We will be playing some of the new tracks live as we are gigging soon. We are playing in the UK in Coventry on November 12th with a fellow Irish band called Two Tales Of Woe. Slabdragger are playing with a load of other excellent bands.

We may try a few songs there but we have a number of gigs around Ireland as well. So we will definitely be trying some of the new songs out. We are then in Germany in Christmas.

OOTS – Damn. That's impressive. For a newly formed band you're getting about.

Sean – Yeah. It's going well. We love playing live. We love writing. We want to play as much as we can. It makes sense to keep on doing this.

OOTS – You have work and families to consider. How hard is that when playing with the band.

Sean – It gets tricky. Definitely. We said at the start of this year, we would put our full effort into this and see where it takes us. When we entered Metal To The Masses Competition that's when we decided we should focus on this and see what happens. We are all had that in mind from February 2016. Sometimes there are things that need to be done and THIS IS ONE OF THOSE THINGS!!!

The time was right and we rolled with it.

OOTS – What influenced you all as a band.

Sean – We are huge fans of Crowbar and all the NOLA bands. Down and Pantera goes without saying obviously. The usual ones – Black Sabbath. You can't say you're not into Black Sabbath.

OOTS – The Irish Rock/Metal is getting quite a momentum and well deserved reputation at the moment. A lot of great bands coming from Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. Do you tour on both sides of Ireland or do you focus locally.

Sean – We will play gigs anywhere and if they are with bands that we like then we will make the gig happen. We wouldn't specifically focus on the South. In the North there is a great scene out there with some excellent bands. Two Tales Of Woe and ourselves recently played with Elder Druid. They are really a great band to check out.

For Irish Metal it's a good place to be. Even at Bloodstock there were 6 Irish bands that played there. I could sit here all day and discuss many more excellent bands from the Irish scene.

OOTS – We have to talk about the killer artwork for the EP. Who designed that.

Sean – Our bassist – Eoghain. He's a great artwork and he does all of our artwork. He does some gig posters. We have some stuff coming out in a while which he designed as well.

OOTS – Did you have any discussions with Eoghain when he was designing the artwork or do you let him do his own thing.

Sean – We let him do his own thing. We all put our two cents in and see what works best. He's really good at what he does. We wanted something big and slug-like. He did that alright.

OOTS – I love the title of the EP – Brutal Gluttonous Beast. Where did that come from.

Sean – We have a new track called Slug Grinder which isn't on the EP and that will be out on the new album. It's one of the lyrics on that song. It's influenced by mystical beasts and stuff like that.

OOTS – Have you got a label lined-up to release this or are you doing this yourselves.

Sean – We are doing this ourselves. We said if you want stuff to happen. You've got to make it happen yourselves. Hopefully if a lot of people here the new EP and down the line we may things differently with the album.

OOTS – How has the response to the EP been like so far.

Sean – It's been really positive. We've started receiving a few reviews, which is great. As you're a bit nervous to see what other people think. Though we are really happy with the songs ourselves. It's very hard to translate what we sound like live on stage on CD. We are never going be absolutely delighted on how we sound like on CD. In general we are happy with the music and that's the main thing.

OOTS – Sean, thanks for doing this interview. Much appreciated. All the best with your new EP.

Sean – Thank You.

Words by Steve Howe and Sean Sullivan


Ten Ton Slug - Brutal Gluttonous Beast (EP Review)

Release date: October 25th 2016. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD

Brutal Gluttonous Beast – Tracklisting

1.Trollhunter 07:51
2.Bloodburns 06:50
3.Subterranean 04:53
4.Unit 07:02

Ten Ton Slug - Band Members:

Micheal Sullivan,
Sean Sullivan,
Eoghan Wynne,
Adomas Trakumas,
Ronan O 'hArrachtain


Ten Ton Slug are a band influenced by bands such as Pantera, Down, Crowbar and the other legendary bands from the NOLA scene. What makes these guys standout from the crowd is their ability to inject a modern Groove Metal sound into their music. It gives Ten Ton Slug an uncompromising feel and approach to their music.

Brutal Gluttonous Beast is a deliriously fucked-up and brutal offering. The EP runs for a brisk 27 minutes and you're treated to 4 tracks that allows you to immerse yourself with Ten Ton Slug's world. Opening track – Trollhunter has a deafening Pantera vibe running throughout. The riffs are played at a fast pace with shades of NOLA sounds adding real menace to the EP's atmosphere. It's very raw sounding at times though the band do play quite a few progressive riffs on the EP with superb vocals to match.

Ten Ton Slug have more a classic style of Sludge/Doom Metal around them and it's very cool to hear. The vocals stay firmly within the realm of death based growls. Though they're very easy to understand which is always a good thing.

Second track – Bloodburns – carries on the same ideas on the opening track as the band add a few extra beatdowns to the mix. The song has a stop-start approach with the riffs. It can be slightly frustrating at first but the band soon return to winning ways when the heavy pounding riffs return. The drumming on this song is a major highlight of the EP. Precise and deadly. With the vocals and riffs not too far behind.

Third track – Subterranean – is the shortest offering on the EP, running under 5 minutes. The song is perhaps Ten Ton Slug's more direct Groove/Sludge Metal offering with a hint of Doom Metal lurking in the background.

The fourth and final track – Unit – is the standout track here. (I will say Trollhunter was my fave track originally but after interviewing lead guitarist Sean recently, he told me why Unit is his favourite track and I have to agree with Sean). This song has a more modern feel compared to the other tracks and this is where Ten Ton Slug really excel at. By creating a more distinct Sludge/Doom Metal sound. It has it's fair share of epic riffs to impress you with. The vocals are superb yet again with some killer lyrics that will have you nodding furiously in agreement.

It's a shame the band didn't include an extra song on the EP as it would have been great just to hear one final song. Apart from that minor complaint, Ten Ton Slug have delivered a hard-hitting and superb debut EP. With the band currently recording their debut album we haven't heard the last of Ten Ton Slug. Check these guys out now. You won't regret it!!!

Words by Steve Howe


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Band To Check Out - OLDE

OLDE - Band Members:

Vocals- Doug McLarty
Guitars- Greg Dawson and Chris "Hippy" Hughes
Drums- Ryan Aubin
Bass- Cory McCallum

The LowDown:

OLDE are a Sludge/Doom?Stoner Metal band from Toronto, Canada. Signed to ace record label STB Records, who will be releasing their new album in 2017. OLDE play a modern sounding style of Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal where the riffs are interlaced with psychedelic sounds. Doug's vocals add a certain old-school vibe to their overall sound.

OLDE have released two stunning releases so far in 2016. Their debut album I and their latest EP Shallow Graves. Both records show you why OLDE are worth giving a damn about. OLDE's debut album contains some epic riffs especially on tracks such as Rise To Fall, Heart Attack and Changelings. The album has quite a distorted sound that pummels you into submission.

OLDE's latest release, the excellent EP – Shallow Graves – carries on the distorted Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal magic with 3 new songs for you to enjoy. The band have even included a superb cover of Motorhead classic – Limb From Limb.

If Shallow Graves is anything to by then their forthcoming album on STB Records could be a major highlight. OLDE bridge the gap between the classic and modern day sounds we all know and love. If you haven't listened to OLDE before then this is the perfect opportunity for you to check them out.

Bring on the new album.....

Words by Steve Howe


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DOOMED & STONED Festival 2016

Our pals over at Doomed & Stoned are putting together their very first festival. Doomed & Stoned 2016 will feature a ton of great bands performing in Indianapolis over the course of two days.

Put together by Melissa at Doomed & Stoned. This festival promises to be one heavy as hell festival you don't want to miss out. Especially when you have bands such as COUGH, Bell Witch, Conjurer, Horseburner, Spirit Division, Youngblood Supercult, Clouds Taste Satanic and many other awesome bands appearing.

For more information head over to the Doomed & Stoned Festival Website.

Visit Doomed & Stoned for more great news, features, reviews and interviews via their Website and Facebook Page.

Thursday 27 October 2016

An Interview with HORNSS

San Franciscan power trio Hornss have been in business for about six years. They released their demo-record “The Red Death” in 2012, then it took two more years to finish the debut full-length “No Blood No Sympathy” and now they've prepared sophomore album “Telepath” which will released on 18th of November by Ripple Music / STB Records.

Some could ask – why should I pay attention for this band? Probably because they professionally perform a powerful blend of doom, stoner and punk! Yes, something like Saint Vitus did in their earlier days but with slightly better production (and another lineup). Mike Moracha (Vocals/Guitar) and Nick Nava (Vocals/Bass) are here to tell few stories about how they forge this infectious doom’n’roll.

Hello Hornss! How are you? How effectively do you spread “Telepath” vibe?

Nick: we recorded Telepath in the Sierra Nevada foothills at Louder Studios with Tim Green. We stayed in a cabin away from everything and only came out to work in the studio. It took us 5 days I believe. We stocked up on beer, Mike's homemade Cider, Tequila and weed and just relaxed and concentrated on the work of getting those songs onto tape. We had been working on Telepath for about three years before we went into the studio but a lot of what ended up on the record was written during or right before it was recorded. I wrote some of my lyrics just hours before recording them.

It sounds like you had pretty nice romantic vacations there! Did you face any difficulties during this session? Did you come at the studio with all ideas already in your heads?

Mike: We started drinking at 8 a.m. and the recording sessions didn't start till around 1 p.m. That was the hard part...

Nick: It wasn't all drinking though, there was also some swimming and BBQn'! But seriously, I spent most mornings working out lyrics and experimenting with synth sounds and playing acoustic guitar.

When I was looking for information about Hornss’ lineup I only found out that Hornss is power-trio with – Nick Nava, Mike Moracha and Bill Bowman. Are you together since the release of “No Blood No Sympathy” debut?

Nick: Yes same lineup, you can't replace any of us without changing the vibe and sound of HORNSS. It's like a really good BBQ sauce that grandma learned from her grandma. Original recipe!

I was surprised with that well-balanced combination of doom and punk rock. So what’s the story of your relationships with punk scene? What did you take from it?

Mike: I started listening to hard rock like KISS, Queen, and AC/DC in the 70s as a kid. My older cousin gave me some Dickies, Adam and the Ants, and Cramps records in the early 80s, but I was still a hard rock/metal kid till the end of 9th grade when I started skating and buying as much punk as I could find. I don't remember a time I didn't like the Ramones though, they are above genre labels.

Okay, Mike, now we know about your punk rock background, you speak damned confidently about it. But then I have to ask from where you guys draw all your doom influences?

Mike: Well, I liked Sabbath from a pretty young age...who didn't like Sabbath in the 1970s?? St. Vitus in High School...when the Melvins released Ozma I really got back into listening to heavy music again. I don't know if we really play doom or not...we always just say "heavy music for fellow dirtbags"!

Nick: Heavy music has always been a part of my life. As a kid the album MY WAR by Black Flag put a lot of those false distinctions between punk and heavy slower music to bed. The band FLIPPER and the Butthole Surfers and of course early Melvins we mixing things up in original ways back then.

Telepath” has nice artwork. I just can’t avoid the question about its origin, so who’s its author? How did you explain that you wanted from him?

Nick: Dennis Dread did the art and lettering, I first heard of him through his work on Darkthrone and Dead Moon records. The actual Ouija board plancette was made by Mike and we had the artist Hannah Wednesday draw the eye design on it.

Mike: We all throw ideas around and once we agree on something, I'll usually do a mock up. First LP, we sent a rough sketch to Cory at Dirty Needle and let him go to down and recreate it how he saw fit. Last LP we came up with the concept for the cover, I carved the Ouija planchette, Bill's friend took the photo, I did the comping and color work. Nick wanted Dennis Dread to do the back cover, so we told him what vibe we wanted, and let him do his thing. We're really happy with the way it turned out, especially the special editions. So basically, we concept it, but trust the artists to do what they do best.

Do you have an album of any artist which artwork is something ideal for you? A perfect example of rock or metal artwork!

Mike: I'm a fan of Drew Struzan and Mike Diana.

Nick: Obviously Dennis Dread. Also Dirty Donny and Skinner do great things with album art.

Do you have a vision of ideal sound for Hornss? How did you achieve it during the work over “Telepath”?

Mike: I'd like it if no one could place who or what we sound like. If we sound like a few different things, that's great...but I don't want us to fall into any one sound like a "Kyuss band" or a "Sabbath band". The stuff I write, I just try to make up a song I'd like if it wasn't our band.

Nick: I wouldn't say it's a vision or concept really. Our songs do tend to work out naturally but there is a lot of work and cooperation and trust that goes into writing a HORNSS song.

Men, there are a bunch of interesting titles in album’s track-list – “St Genevieve”, “Mazanita”, “Sargasso Heart” and etc. Seems like you have a rich imagination! What is it all about?

Mike: Nick wrote the lyrics on those! Mine are all over the place, but range from books I've read to little stories I make up. "In fields of Lyme" is about aliens sending bugs to Earth that cause all the humans to die, then once the Earth has healed itself, they blow the ticks away and inhabit our planet...meanwhile "Old Ghosts" is about growing up skateboarding.

Nick: All of the songs have a deeper meaning, more than one meaning and sometimes no meaning.

Metal-archives point that Hornss lyrics are about “Science Fiction, Drugs and Conspiracies”. How do these things connected in your songs?

Mike: Hopefully very well!

So can you say that Hornss is about conspiracy of scientists influenced by drugs? Or how would you resume Hornss’s message?

Nick: It's about whatever you want it to be about.

Mike: I want our music to be the soundtrack of a flesh rotting krokodil high.

With new album you switched from Riding Easy to Ripple Music who release new album in collaboration with STB Records, do you feel a difference in a work of these labels?

Mike: STB is more punk rock.

Nick: Riding Easy was a great place to start and we are happy with that first record, it gave us a lot of opportunities, We are excited to be working with STB and Ripple now and really looking forward to the next album!

Hornss is signed now on the label with serious reputation. How you are serious consider pushing the band further? Or is the status of weekend warriors enough for you?

Mike: We're working on new songs for a 3rd album, and so far I think it will be my favorite. Hard to predict what life vomits on you, but we are looking to do another European tour before too long.

Nick: We have a new album to work on and a Euro tour in the early planning stages, other than that we are taking it one day at a time and just trying to pay rent and keep beer and food on the table! the life of an artist is not very glamorous.

I see that you already know how the next album will sound, what kind of ideas do you put into it?

Mike: Mine are varied, but death and the 6th mass extinction are up there...Nick and Bil always have great ideas, so pretty excited to start working on it all -- our records are pretty collaborative.

Nick: I'm leaning towards more straight ahead hard rocking with some ZZ Top grooves provided by drummer extraordinaire Billy "Ten Toes" Bowman.

Your music is perfect for live shows, how often do you play gigs? And what are highlights of your live experience?

Mike: Nick and I have played together for like 25 years, and a few favorite shows have been opening for Radio Birdman in Germany, opening for the Melvins and Acid King in 1994, and opening for Turbonegro with Plainfield in the late 90s. As for HORNSS, we play once a month or so...some great shows have been with YOB, Fu Manchu, Fatso Jetson, Bang, Elder, UFOMAMMUT, Big Business...lots of great local bands too. Too many to mention. Playing the same festival with Alice Cooper, Arthur Brown, and Blue Oyster Cult wasn’t too shabby either!

Speaking about mix of doom and punk it’s easy to come to definition with Saint Vitus or Satan’s Satyrs. This blend is original, though it isn’t unique. Did you cross with these bands on your road?

Mike: I've been a fan of St. Vitus since High School...I don't think of them as a punk band though, even though they toured with Black Flag and were on a mostly punk label. Satan's Satyrs sounded really good when I saw them. I think people should just play what they feel, and not worry too much about anything else. If it's good, I'll listen to it. When we started we did want to have a bit of the early SST vibe though…heavy music for punks, stoners, and dirtbags.

Man, you’re from San Francisco, how does the city influence on you? How much of its culture in your songs?

Mike: That's a tough one cause it's not the same city we moved to in the mid ‘90s. In the beginning it had a pretty big influence with its thriving music and art culture and fantastic crystal meth. There's still a lot to love here, but along with it is anger and frustration. Maybe that seeps into the music, or maybe the music is one of the few things we have left here.

Words by Aleks Evdokimov and HORNSS

Thought Eater / Iron Jawed Guru - Vortex 6 (Album Review)

Release date: October 21st 2016. Label: Grimoire Records. Format: CD/DD

Vortex 6 – Tracklisting

1.Thought Eater - Vortex 6 03:06
2.Thought Eater - Crystal Maze 05:17
3.Thought Eater - Crushing Metaphysical Crisis 05:20
4.Thought Eater - Gift of Death 03:48
5.Iron Jawed Guru - Black Fortress 04:24
6.Iron Jawed Guru - Emerald Seer 03:10
7.Iron Jawed Guru - Glaive 02:57
8.Iron Jawed Guru - Widow of the Web 06:23

Thought Eater - Band Members:

Douglas Griffith (guitar)
Darin Tambascio (12 string bass, 12 string guitar on "Gift of Death")
Bobby Murray (drums)

Iron Jawed Guru - Band Members

Mike Lorenzen (guitar, octave pedal)
Roy Douglas Brewer (drums)


Vortex 6 is a split album release between two Instrumental Sludge/Stoner Metal Bands. Thought Eater and Iron Jawed Guru. Both bands play very different music to each other.

Thought Eater play Sludge/Stoner Metal with a Progressive Math Rock feel to their music. Parts Black Sabbath and High On Fire but with a more experimental edge.

Iron Jawed Guru play a more Stoner/Post-Rock/Post-Metal sound that gives them a lot of scope to play with their music.

Thought Eater's side is a colossally heavy affair with the band showing their passion for all things progressive. They do play some intriguing riffs and they excel in changing the tempo from fast-paced Sludge/Stoner riffs to the more classic sounding Doom Metal sounds that appear from time-to-time.

Crystal Maze and Crushing Metaphysical Crisis are the standout tracks where Thought Eater excel the most as they create some fantastic original music of their own. A doomy psychedelic affair with moments of heavy progressive doom based sounds. Thought Eater have quite a demonic playful vibe to their music. Parts of their music is slightly creepy but with a sense of huge fun as well. .

Iron Jawed Guru is a duo who excel in confusing the hell out of the audience. Do they play Stoner Rock, Post-Metal, Prog Rock, Psych Rock!!!! - It's hard to say as the band play a mixture of those genres and then some. Their side of the split is just as crazy and experimental as Thought Eater though it's more focused and perhaps more riff-orientated.

The band's first track – Black Fortress – has shades of Kyuss, Karma To Burn and Russian Circles running through it. It's quite a dark song to open with but it has some great riffs driving the song to it's natural conclusion.

Second track – Emerald Seer – is a more stripped back affair with the band opting for a faster style of Instrumental Stoner/Sludge Rock with moments of psychedelic rock being added to great effect.

Third track – Glaive – carries on the same vibe as Emerald Seer but the band adding a Desert Rock groove with shades of classic 90s sounding Stoner Rock/Metal.

The final track – Widow Of The Web – is perhaps Iron Jawed Guru's standout song on the album. It offers more of the same sounds heard on their previous tracks but on a more epic and experimental scale.

Vortex 6 is one of the more intriguing and exciting split albums I've heard this year. Both bands have created an excellent slice of Experimental Sludge/Stoner Metal riffs. It's hard to say which side I dig the most. One moment it's Thought Eater and the next it's Iron Jawed Guru. I will say that Vortex 6 is a great album to have your in collection if you're a serious fan of Instrumental Sludge/Stoner Metal.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Thought Eater Links:

Iron Jawed Guru Links:

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Varego - Epoch (Album Review)

Release date: October 10th 2016. Label: Argonauta Records. Format: CD/DD

Epoch – Tracklisting

1.Alpha Tauri 07:01
2.Phantasma 05:09
3.Flying King 04:44
4.The Cosmic Dome 06:16
5.Swarms 06:23
6.Dominion 06:53

Band Members:

Voice/Bass: Davide Marcenaro
Guitar: Alberto Pozzo
Guitar: Gerolamo Lucisano
Drums: Simon Lepore


Varego return with their 2nd album – Epoch. A blend of progressive sludge rhythms and tribal post-metal sounds sees Varego add more scope to their music. Drawing from their sludge/post-metal contemporaries, Varego show a dramatic flair to their music with post-rock sounds starting the album off with the first track – Alpha Tauri for the first few moments before Davide's start to arrive. The atmosphere becomes quite frantic at times with the dual guitar work from Alberto and Gerolamo.

Epoch contains some stunning ideas that allows Varego to create addictive progressive sludge riffs. Shades of early-era Mastodon and Baroness can be detected throughout the album but Varego excel in creating their own musical identity. The album has a certain cinematic edge to it especially on songs such as Phantasma, The Cosmic Dome and Swarms.

With this being a sludge metal album, Epoch has a slight depressing doom and gloom feel to it. It does allow Varego to inject heavy moments of psychedelia into the mix. The lyrics are another highlight with the band writing lyrics with actual meaning to the music being played around you. The album sounds excellent which isn't surprising since it was mixed and mastered by the legendary Billy Anderson.

One of the albums main strengths is how Varego experiment with their sound on every song. Each of the songs sound very different to each other. With more of our favourite Sludge/Post-Metal bands starting to embrace the more aspects of commercial rock/metal music, it's good to hear a band such as Varego creating heavy moments of Post-Metal/Sludge Metal that their more famous contemporaries used to make back in the day.

If you're a fan of the classic sludge/post-metal style of music then Varego have a few surprises waiting for you on the final two tracks of Swarms and Dominion. Dominion is perhaps the standout track on the album as Varego unleash the albums heaviest and perhaps most catchiest riffs.

Epoch is an album more people should be checking out as it would be a shame this album not getting the full recognition that it deserves.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Barbara at NeeCee Agency for the promo. Epoch is available to buy now on CD/DD from Argonauta Records.


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Monday 24 October 2016

Outlaws Nation Joint Interview: An Interview with YEAR OF THE COBRA

Year Of The Cobra are about to release their colossal debut album ...In The Shadows Below. The band which is comprised of married Drum and Bass riffsters – Amy Tung-Barrysmith (Bassist/Vox) and Jon Barrysmith (Drums) have created a delicately played and loud as hell debut album. It's an album that strikes the perfect balance between heavy Doom sounds with a pounding Sludgy/Stoner based groove.

Year Of The Cobra have been making a name for themselves over the last 18 months or so. They already have a fearsome live reputation and have already released a split single with Mos Generator. Signed to ace record label STB Records who will be releasing their debut album on October 29th 2016, Year Of The Cobra are going to become one of your favourite bands.

I asked my good pal Matthew Thomas over at Taste Nation LLC if he wanted to do one of our joint interviews that we've been doing recently. He agreed and this is the result as Year Of The Cobra have agreed to do another Outlaws Nation Joint Interview.....

OOTS/TN – Hi Amy, Jon. Thanks for doing this joint interview. Congrats on the new album. How are things with you both today.

YOTC - We’re doing great! Thank you. Excited about the album release. It’s been a busy week for sure!

OOTS - Can you tell our readers how the band came together. Or why you decided to form the band.

YOTC - We met on Halloween 2007 at a club called the King King in LA. We were playing in separate bands at the time and didn’t really talk much at that show. It wasn’t until the second or third show we played together before we became friends. We actually didn’t start writing music together until 2014, after moving to Seattle. We didn’t really know anyone in the music scene at the time, so we just started writing songs. Luckily, we both wanted to write the same style of music. For the most part, it was easy.

OOTS – Why did you choose the name Year Of The Cobra for your band. Any specific meaning.

YOTC - It took quite a while to find the right name. We had long lists that covered many pieces of paper before we decided on Year of the Cobra. It was actually supposed to be a temporary name, but it stuck and we’re glad it did.

TN – We are here to talk about your new album. What was your recording process like? Was it spread out over days, weeks, months…….?

YOTC - We booked 10 days with Billy Anderson to track everything. Billy did a few mixes for us remotely after tracking, but we went back for the final mixes to make sure it was exactly what we wanted. All in all, it took about 3 months from the initial tracking to the final masters. The recording process itself was amazing. The studio, Hallowed Halls, was magnificent and working with Billy was life altering. He’s a genius. We consider him a third member of our band now.

OOTS – How did you manage to hook-up with the legend that is Billy Anderson to Produce the album. Especially for your debut album. What was it like working with Billy. Did he provide any helpful advice when you were recording the new album.

YOTC - Billy was at the top of our list for many reasons. He was the first and only one we reach out to and he really liked the EP. The first time he came to watch us play, we were scared shitless, to say the least. After working with him, we’re still scared shitless, haha, but we’re all good friends now and we have the utmost respect for him. His ear, his ideas, his knowledge, is beyond anything we’ve seen or experienced before. He just knew exactly what we were going for, without ever having to tell him. It was amazing.

TN – What does Billy bring to the Year Of The Cobra sound.

YOTC - One of the first things Billy said to us when we first met him was that he knew how to make it sound big, without making it sound like we added a ton of tracks, and that’s exactly what he did. Billy brought a bin full of pedals that we tried in every configuration until we found the exact tone. We’re sure no one noticed, but right after the recording, Amy’s pedal board got much larger.

TN - Did you "test" the new tracks at live shows to see what people's response to the new material.

YOTC - Absolutely. We always test out songs live first. It’s one thing to play it in the studio, but you won’t know how it works until you see how a crowd reacts.

OOTS – The album is being released on STB Records. Perhaps one of the best independent record labels currently out there. Did you guys have offers from other labels. Or was their no hesitation in signing for anybody else.

YOTC - STB was actually the only label we contacted directly. Jon sent an email when we released the EP to say that we were a brand new band and that we wanted to be on Steve’s (STB) radar. Steve wrote back the next day and said that he liked our debut EP, and in his own words said, “you are definitely on my radar”. From there, we started some cool and casual conversations via email and bonded over our punk and hardcore roots and our DIY ideals. Within that week, we signed with STB. The STB Family is real. We’re so stoked to be a part of this movement. It’s home.

OOTS – Did you have any involvement with the final design of the Vinyls or Cassettes. Or was this left down to Steve STB.

YOTC - We definitely had involvement. Steve wouldn’t have it any other way. Before we even recorded, right when first signed with Steve, he was chatting with us separately just to figure out who we were as people and our take on the band. It’s important to him to make sure the band is represented properly, not in the image that he wants, but in the image that the band wants. He’s the real deal, all heart.

TN - The album crossovers and melds many genres from Doom, Stoner, Psych, and Sludge. How would you classify the album's sound? Your thoughts on the use of the Doom/Stoner Rock designation which many describe your album as?

YOTC - The album does have many crossovers. We intended it to be slightly diverse, to shake things up a bit. Our main shared background is hardcore punk, but as individuals, our musical tastes span the spectrum which helps when we’re writing music. We’re willing to move in whatever direction the song takes us.

TN - What contemporary Bands do you like? Do you have any guilty pleasures that you would like to share with us?

YOTC - That’s a good one….. I don’t think anyone should have a “guilty pleasure”. Music is music, you like what you like. Don’t give a shit what people think and don’t be ashamed. We could go on forever about current bands we love. We play out a lot and have toured quite a bit this past year and are always in awe of the talent that we’re surrounded by, not to mention the cool people we meet.

TN - Will you be hitting the road on an extensive tour to support the album or have multiple, shorter outings? For my own selfish reason, will you be coming to Southern California to play??

YOTC - We have some short tours planned in the near future. A west coast tour the end of this year (2016) with Mos Generator and Castle, and Europe in March and again in April/May. So far, no plans to play LA, but it is on our list. We’ll definitely do a full US tour for summer of 2017 again like we did this year.

OOTS – How hard is it for you to tour and perform with Year Of The Cobra especially with your young family. Are your kids proud and happy of their “Rockstar Parents”.

YOTC - Our family is always our first concern, but to have a happy family, we both feel it is important for us to focus on things that fulfil us as well. We’re just both lucky (and unlucky) that we want to do the same thing. We believe it’s important for us to show our kids that we’re willing to work hard on something that we believe in and hopefully, they find the same drive in whatever fulfils them.

TN – You've only been going as a band for about 20 months or so. Has is it surprised you the responses you've received for your music from the Doom/Stoner Metal community. Looking back then did you ever think you would be releasing your debut album.

YOTC - We started the band because we just wanted to play music we both loved and somehow, we found a crowd that happens to like it too. Whatever happens, we will always write and play music. Hopefully, it will be music that resonates with others as much as it does with us.

OOTS – Who designed the awesome artwork for the album. How much input did you have into the final design of the artwork.

YOTC - The artwork for the album was designed by our good friend, Esther Heckman. She is one of the most amazing artists we have ever met. She doesn’t normally do album art, but we sent her one song off the album as inspiration (Electric Warrior) and gave her no direction. Everything after that was her own creation.

OOTS – For a Drum/Bass Duo. You have quite a loud sound compared to other Drum/Bass duos. How do you create this sound. Do you use an advanced setup or basic setup when recording and playing live.

YOTC - It was important for us to sound big because being a duo is very limiting. Amy’s setup is very fluid. She can find a setup that works for the moment, but is constantly on the lookout for something that can help advance it. Splitting the bass tones was a no brainer, but finding the right amp/cabinet and pedal combination was much harder. It is always in flux.

OOTS/TN – We both wish you every success with it. As it's a fantastic album that will no doubt receive a ton of praise when it's fully released. Do you have anything to say to your fans before we go.

YOTC - We just want to thank everyone. We’re so appreciative of the response we’ve received so far. We have put so much heart into this project, it’s nice to see that other people like it as well. Many thanks to you, Steve and Matthew, for the killer review and for doing this interview.

Words by Steve Howe, Matthew Thomas and Year Of The Cobra

Thanks to Amy and Jon for taking the time out talking to Matthew and myself. ...In The Shadows Below will be available to buy on Cassette/CD/DD/Vinyl via STB Records from October 29th 2016.