Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Abigail Williams booking DIY tour in support of CD release

Ken Sorceron (Photo by Mary Spiro)
It's been said a dozen times that each new Abigail Williams recording sounds like a new band. And I have read that the band hails from New York, California and now most recently, Phoenix. Look at photos of the band over the last several years and you won't recognize the members from year to year. Maybe it is appropriate then,  that a band named for the chief accuser in the Salem  Witch Trials be a little cagey and hard to classify; her story is always changing to suit her mood.

One thing, I do know: whatever guitarist and vocalist Ken Sorceron and company are doing these days is something I like. And yes, I liked what they were doing before, too. My guess is that Sorceron writes songs that interest him without trying to sound like anything or be anything, he writes to please his own ear. Sometimes people like it, sometimes they don't. Either way it is always different.

And why not? Any really artist should, first and foremost, create to please himself or herself. Why create art you are unhappy with or are ashamed to have ascribed to your name? It is with this attitude that one should listen to the new effort from the group, Becoming, slated for official release January 24 on Candlelight Records.

The CD contains just six tracks, but they are lengthy and complex compositions--the longest, Beyond the Veil, is more than 17 minutes. The recording should be listened to from start to finish in it's entirety. I dislike typical CD reviews because I wouldn't want anyone to tell me what I should think of someone's music  before listening to it, any more than I would want someone to taste my own food before I ate it. But I will offer this: Becoming contains some of the most evocative and powerful compositions that I have ever heard in what one might roughly describe as the black metal genre. The overall effect is that the listener should "become" swept away into a kind of meditative state and held in this grip throughout every song.  This is not background music, but something that will possess and captivate you, leaving you feeling its impact for some time after the last chords resonate from your speakers.

Or you may hate it completely. But that decision is yours.  Give it one listen at least and decide for yourself.

A tour with Dark Funeral from east to west across the US was supposed to begin on January 29. When Dark Funeral abruptly cancelled their tour on January 16,  Abigail Williams was left in the lurch. Here is what Sorceron said about that situation and what he and the band plan to do next.

When you found out that Dark Funeral was canceling their tour, what was the first thing you did?

Well I found out when I first woke up so I think I took my morning piss and then I decided to try and salvage a tour for ourselves and started contacting people and putting together some routing.

You already have dates booked for the last two weeks of January. What is your plan for salvaging the tour dates between then and when you join Deicide back in Springfield, VA at Jaxx in March?

We had actually one week booked already so my plan is to have at least 14 more shows for a total of 3 weeks of shows booked. So far it’s looking good.

Since you are basically in charge of when and where you can play, how will this change the overall vibe of the tour? I mean basically you are in charge and you are the headliner, but it is a lot more work for you.

Well seeing as how it’s last minute it still won’t be perfect, but we will at least get to play a longer set and since our songs are so long people often complain when we only have time to play 2-3 songs.

Switching topics to the new recording: I was personally really moved by the entire recording and actually wished it were LONGER! Your writing really seems to evolve. Who do you listen to to keep yourself inspired? How about books? What are you reading these days?

I listen to anything from Neurosis, Death In June, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Skinny Puppy, Killing Joke, Dead Can Dance, A Tribe Called Quest, Philip Glass, Drudkh, Russian Circles and Emperor and I generally read on subjects such as string theory, spirituality, occult, ancient civilizations and a bunch of weird stuff no one will have any idea what I'm talking about. Yeah but I pretty much only read the shit that everyone else who doesn’t know math reads: Brian Greene and Michio Kaku and all that.

How do you want people to feel after they have seen one of your shows or listened to “Becoming”? What do you want people to think of when they hear the band’s name mentioned?

Well I want them to feel good of course. I suppose feeling anything is better than nothing though!

What’s your hope for 2012?
More world travelling and meeting people all over the place. Same thing I did in 2011 I guess.


Get the latest updates on Abigail Williams DIY Tour 2012 on their Facebook page.

Listen to a Soundcloud stream of the Abigail Williams' new recording here: Abigail Williams - Becoming

Monday, January 16, 2012

Graveyard resurrects psychedelic garage rock for the end of days

If you were one of those kids who snuck a listen to your parent's 70s psychedelic rock records (think Cream, Hot Tuna, Blue Cheer on vinyl) then you’ll be glad to know that a host of musicians are re-interpreting that groove for the 21st century. Three such groups played a sold-out show at Baltimore’s Golden West Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012: Sweden’s Graveyard, Iowa’s Radio Moscow and Daniel Davies of Los Angeles.

While so many bands today are lured into using sampled sounds and synthesizers, it feels good to just bask in the aural presence of that fuzzy, stripped down sound upon which my own musical sensibilities were nourished and weaned. And clearly I am not alone, since Golden West was packed with fans of the genre who were enthusiastic as I was.

Before the show started I had a few minutes to chat with members of Graveyard. Every show so far on their tour has sold out starting with a 600 capacity venue in New York City. Bassist Rikard Edlund showed me his Blue Cheer tattoo (“My first tattoo!” he said), a clear indication of his permanent devotion to the musical style. Neither he nor drummer Axel Sjöberg really understood why this type of music seems to be making a comeback.

“Maybe it’s time,” Edlund said. “It’s been 40 years. People are realizing how great it is and it is time to bring it back.”

“I hope it never stops!” Sjöberg added.

The show got rolling with Daniel Davies, who presented a solid set. I had never heard them before, but Davies was a perfect complement for what was to come. Here’s a sample:

Next up was Radio Moscow. Apparently this group has had a bit of a personnel “shake up” in recent days that left lead singer and guitarist Parker Griggs with a hefty gash on his forehead and 14 nasty looking stitches. The current rhythm section consisting of Billy Ellsworth on bass and Lonnie Blanton on drums have only been playing for a week, but that fact was not apparent. Radio Moscow certainly picked up new fans from Baltimore.

I spoke with Griggs after the show. I recorded it, so rather than me type all that out, why don’t you give a listen and hear what he has to say for himself. Griggs provided me with a copy of his new CD, “The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz.” I will review it in the near future. Do yourself a favor and go see the new and improved Radio Moscow. Great sounds, great guys.
INTERVIEW: Parker Griggs of Radio Moscow 1-15-12 by MetalMaven
Graveyard’s show was everything I expected and more. The sound in Golden West was surprisingly clear, which was a happy discovery since I was a little worried about how it might be, the place being a restaurant and all. Joakim Nilsson’s vocals sounded just as bluesy and soulful as in studio recordings. The stage was small and barely large enough to contain the four of them but they managed. The melody interplay between Nilsson and lead guitarist Jonatan Larocca Grimm was perfect. Sjöberg is a bat-shit crazy good drummer that pulls a large sound out of a fairly minimalistic kit. And bassist Edlund blew everyone away with his aggressive and frenetic technique on songs like “Ain’t Fit to Live Here.”

The entire show was my “favorite” since this band evokes such visceral musical memories from my childhood (I was that 3-year-old who listened to Cream), but highlights included “Satan’s Finest” and “The Siren.” Along with the fantastic music, the entire show was accompanied by a good old-fashioned colored-water and oil, overhead projector light show courtesy of “Lance.” Groovy man.

Graveyard plays Washington DC’s DC9 Club January 16 and then move on to Richmond and North Carolina and points west before heading back over to Europe. If they come within 200 miles, I recommend you make the pilgrimage to see them, as well as Radio Moscow and Daniel Davies. And don’t forget to wear your fringed leather vest.