Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dying To Fight...

Repellers / Dead Hand - split 7 in. (2014)

This split, issued by Divine Mother Recordings in vinyl variations of a translucent bottle-green, translucent green with black and white splatter (already sold out!), and standard black, brings together Pennsylvania's crusty metal-punks Repellers with Georgia's more overtly-doomy Dead Hand.  The Repellers sport some sick bass licks, raw vocals, inspired drumming, and buzzed-out guitar over the course of their two songs, “Blood, Bone & Soul” and “The Riddle Of Steel”, putting in a strong showing for themselves over 7 minutes or so of gnarly, nasty venom, as they rail out and drive themselves forward
Dead Hand's side consists of a single track, “Apex Parasite”, and flipping over to it is something along the lines of stepping out of a basement thrash party and into a hard-blasting storm with some dangerous hail swirling about.  The vocals and strings roar, the drums ring out like thunder, and there's even a relatively calm eye of the storm, filled with sharp tones of feedback, before being caught back up in the body-tumbling force of the song's conclusion.
It's a release that does right by everyone involved, and each band brings a strong, inventive approach to their music, which will grab you and shake you by the throat if you let it.  There are plans for a second pressing, with some design elements adjusted, so if you want a copy of the original, now's the time to act.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Halo Of Flies, Funeral Horse, Trees, Eibon, Contagium


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fuzz On Your Face...

Dot Legacy - Dot Legacy (2014)

Dot Legacy have debuted with this self-titled collection of twitchy energy and sweet-tooth-tingling melodic hooks, and through the album's nine songs, the twisting, curling rampages of rock in which they engage would be enough to make any well-established band proud of the result.  While I haven't heard too much fuzz rock out of France recently (I probably just haven't been looking in the right places), the flair shown off by Dot Legacy makes me feel as though those in the area who do keep it alive are throwing themselves fully into the effort.  With a classic-sounding array of FX on the strings, vocals contributed by all of the band-members, and drums with an always-effective range of impacts, the band's debut sets a high bar for their work in the future.
While I have to admit to not always following along with the lyrics (the filters they occasionally applied made that a little tricky), the grinning liveliness of the tracks gets the feelings behind the writing across just fine.  And it's not always rip-snorting can't-stop-moving wildness, either; there's several times in which the band slows it all down, getting almost sweet with the melodies, and it's nice to hear them stretch in the way, though they keep the lighter stuff in moderation.  A personal highlight was the incorporation of some post-rocky spoken word sampling over some electronic effects towards the middle of the album, which I hadn't expected in the slightest, but which worked well with the material before and behind it.  The album makes use of some great, well-executed experimentation in approaching their songs, and I suspect Dot Legacy will be one of those bands where even the B-sides are worth checking out.  Start here, and if you happen to be able to catch one of their shows during their September tour of France, Germany, and Belgium, do your best not to miss out, yeah?
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Powered Wig Machine, Acid Kola Turbo, The Casual Pleasures, Ginsu Wives


Friday, August 29, 2014

Spreading The Flames...

Toke - High Friends In Low Places EP (2014)

Following up the pair of tracks from their first demo, North Carolina's stoner metal band Toke present two more tracks from their new EP. The first, “Into The Light”, mixes reverb-heavy riffage with thumping drums, while the vocals emerge in a rough howl. They continue to occupy a very satisfying space in the stoner doom spectrum, moving slowly enough to savor each crushing tone-wave, but not so slow as to make you forget how they got their; they keep those riffs moving, and when they do launch into the higher speeds, it's coated with enough tarry buzz to stay true.
“Great Awakening” is the other half of the digital release (there's 8 more minutes of material on the CD copies, though those seem to be available only at live shows), and it keeps the tone low and doomed out, though there is more energy pushing it forward, especially in the increased wildness of the vocals. Both tracks should be make any fan of traditional stoner doom metal more than happy, and luckily there's plans in the works for vinyl/cassette copies of the EP, so keep your ears tuned this way for more news on that as it develops.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid King, Salem's Pot, Olde Growth, Cough, Black Sabbath


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Into The Wastelands...

Uroboros - Herejía & Exilio (2013)

Last week, we delved into Uroboros' EP Misantropía & Blasfemia, and now we continue on into their second EP.  Herejía & Exilio begins with “K'Zulu”; whether that's a reference to Cthulhu or not is up to the listener's discretion, but it's a great starter track, beginning with a barrage of sound before slowing down a little into a mean sludge groove.  After some dirty thrash slips in, it's on to “Arcano Devorador”, which makes more use of the vocalist's ability to deliver loud, growling menace over a chunky riff that verges on death metal at times.
Holocausto” follows, taking the prize for longest track on the EP at ~10 minutes as with "En Las Fauces de Uroboros" on the prior EP, and similarly making use of its expanded run-time to show off the band's skills in a variety of stylistic capacities.  From the slow, near-drone beginning into harder, faster sludge, a few dirge-like bridges from the drums and guitar, a tasty feedback stretch or two, and an atomic explosion (accompanied by sirens and a sample of Robert Oppenheimer) mid-way through the track, “Holocausto” is incredibly diverse, to the point of almost feeling like it could be its own EP.
While they could have cut off there and had a strong release, Uroboros takes the time to give Herejía & Exilio a proper closing track in the form of “Somos El Pueblo De Dios”, a much slower and somber piece which comes as a nice breather after the final high-speed assault of “Holocausto”.   It brings to life the wintry scene from the cover art, making excellent use of a wind instrument alongside the precise strumming of an acoustic guitar for a sound so chilly it'll bring goosebumps to your arms.
It's a strong EP, either solo or taken with Misantropía & Blasfemia, and between the two of them, the band has made an impressive debut for themselves.   It will be fascinating to hear how the Argentinian duo tops themselves once they're ready to release a full-length LP, but until then, fans of sludge and experimental metal can do themselves a favor by familiarizing themselves with what the band has already made available.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Asilo, Forgotten Tomb, Abstracter, Zeppheroin, Bell Witch


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Horns First

Shit the Cow ~ Rissna (2014)

Shit the Cow are back, Jay gave us the rundown on their release from last year "Salt of the Earth". This time the self-proclaimed scrapyard rockers (or skrotrock in Swedish, which does have a ring to it) are back with "Rissna", named for a town in the north of Sweden where they go to record. Their sound is a straight forward one, they really just take the best things in Punk, Garage, and Stoner Rock and boil it down to it's rawest form, then blast it at full volume. Always ready with something catchy to suck you in, sometimes it's a chorus, a riff, sometimes it's the whole damn track. From start to finish it's five songs full of rocking drum rhythms, heavy and infectious guitar riffs, rolling bass parts that keeps everything glued together nicely. The vocalist often uses the shouted style of delivery, changing it subtly depending on the song, but it can go from an angry, anthemic Punk Rock shout, to melodic and raw vocals that harken back to the early days of Stoner Rock. My favorite song on this release is probably the closer, "Pieces of Led", it's a blast of fast and hard Stoner Rock in the vein of Fu Manchu's glory days. Opening with a fuzzy riff, it doesn't take long for the groove to kick in, with a fat and round bass line leading the way. At just under two minutes it ends way too fast, but for those two minutes you're taken in by the perfectly executed Stoner Rock track, and it doesn't loosen its' death grip until the end. They seem to excel at never painting themselves into a corner on their releases, always having something different ready to go when the song changes. It would seem that the group took the expression "variety is the spice of life" to heart, and they're absolutely right if it makes you churn out rock songs as good as these. Go check out their bandcamp, and get in on it for the small price tag of just a couple bucks. Don't forget to check out their older releases too, as they have yet to put out anything that wasn't good.

For Fans Of; Fu Manchu, Switchblade Jesus, Brain Police

Monday, August 25, 2014

Raisin’ Hell In Them Southern Pines

Thieving Coyote ~ Thieving Coyote EP (2014)

If you happen to remember the show I mentioned in my review for Tripping the Mechanism, the band that followed them were another killer South Carolina act. They got in touch with me and asked if I'd consider giving them a review, already knowing first hand that they put on a damn good live show, I couldn't turn it down. Thieving Coyote play a liquored down style of Southern Hard Rock and Stoner Metal. If you drowned Orange Goblin in Jack Daniels and propped the corpse up at one of those country bonfire parties, where they blast Lynyrd Skynyrd out of a truck's stereo system all night, the next morning you'd have Thieving Coyote pulling themselves off the ground in a hazy stupor. The lead off track "White Lightning" opens up with a Southern Rock riff, but it's not long before it turns into a swinging, gritty Southern Metal song. In between howling guitar riffs, breakneck drum fills, and a masterful use of the often overlooked cowbell (insert funny Christopher Walken/SNL/Blue Oyster Cult reference here), you have the vocalist snarling out the story of a guy and his old lady that knock off a moonshine dealer and then a sheriff, and proceed to shoot it out with the FBI. The singer uses a style similar to Dallas Taylor from Maylene and the Sons of Disaster fame on this one, and he fucking nails it to the wall. I'm always a sucker for a song with a good story in it anyway, and this one delivers. But bringing together the combination of excellent musicians, great songwriting, and even better delivery, that's a winning formula every time. With almost no reprieve from the auditory onslaught you're thrust into the second track "Space Van", and I'm sure you can already see where this is going. Opening with grooving guitar riffs that take on a real 70's vibe at time, and more cowbell, but it's not long before those dirt road vocals start up, this time talking to us about the great pastime of getting stoned while using images of slaying five head hookah monsters and the like, it's a long lost Stoner Metal anthem. The track ends strong, using a screaming solo to end on. And there's still three more tracks of skull smashing Stoner Metal to get through before you're finished. You can get in on all the sleazy, booze and dope fueled goodness at their bandcamp for just five bucks. I can think of a hundred worse things for you to spend that on than this slab of heaviness, so show 'em so love if you dig what they have going on.

For Fans Of; XII Boar, Orange Goblin, Weedeater, Corrosion of Conformity, Mammoth Mammoth

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Product Review ~


Ok, so I am reviewing a discontinued cartridge, wtf?  Well, for the price, new - €105/$150, this cartridge competes with cartridges twice the price and is well worth hunting down on ebay or the interwebs. As with our speaker reviews the cartridge has nearly as many opinions and the listener should trust their own ears to decide what they like. The DL160 is a moving coil unit, with incredibly thin needle. Denon created the first moving coil cartridge in 1951 so 60 years of innovation will clearly count for something.
As important to what this cartridge does is what is does not do and that is emphasizing dirt or pops. It is a very good noise reducer, the sound always remains fat and accurate. I use a DL 160, ADC 1700 turntable, Adcom GFP 555 preamp and Grado SR80 headphones as my affordable by any RWTD enthusiast 'setup' to listen and review all my vinyl selections. Most moving coil cartridges have a low output and require a phono preamp prior to your regular preamp. Not the DL 160, it works perfectly well with output nearly as high as a moving magnet cartridge. Denon now sells the DL 110 as the replacement to the DL160 and I am waiting for payday to pick one up for a comparison. The DL 110 is less expensive at €77/$110. I do own 3 DL 160s, and have listened to them for over 30 years. The DL 160 is well suited to really high energy music and is a sturdy well-constructed and very affordable cartridge. It also works extremely well at a light tone arm setting of 1.5 grams.


Choosing The Right Turntable...

Buying your first turntable? Upgrading from your old man's hand-me-down? Well heres our run down on how to deal with it like a pro...

Choose The Right Store
This sounds like a bit of a no-brainer and you may well be temped to just buy something online. Don't. At least not until you've checked it out in the flesh first. This may feel somewhat daunting, especially if you don't possess a vast array of hifi knowledge or you're not too au fait with the audiophile lingo.
I wont lie, I've walked into many a store wearing tatty jeans and some kind of faded band t-shirt, only to be either ignored or met with a torrent of condescension. But not every store is like this, and unless you're strutting into some super high-end place where all the middle-age employees are wearing turtlenecks and/or look like german architects you should be fine. Have a bit of a swat up on the terminologies online and have a think about what to ask. Don't be worried about asking questions, we all had to start somewhere!

Choose The Right Brand & Table For You
As you'll find further on, here is where your vast array of choices will begin. There are affectively two kinds of turntable - direct drive and belt drive. With direct drive tables the spindle (where the record sits) is attached directly to the motor. Most vintage and DJ tables use this method. The other choice, belt drive, sees the motor either partly or entirely isolated from the spindle. Instead the platter is spun using a rubber belt attached to the motor. This is widely considered the better method.
As for the different manufacturers... There's an absolute plethora out there to choose from, and like with everything some are better than others. Pick one with a solid history and you can't go too wrong. The same goes with name's you've heard of before. After all, you've heard of them for a reason. Rega and Pro-ject are prime examples of this logic. Rega have been around since the early 70's and have deservedly forged a name for themselves, where as Pro-Ject may not have been around for quite as long, but seldom a year goes by when they don't produce at least 2 or 3 award winning products - See the RP range and Essential range respectively.
Truth be told, for around the entry level price of a table there wont be a vast difference in the sound quality, and when it comes to the afore mentioned brands (and a good few others) you will get what you pay for. That being said, aesthetics will, nay, should play a part in your decision. After all, you're going to be spending a lot of time with this thing. Check out the best options within your budget and go for what really grabs your eye.

Choose The Right Cartridge
If you're new to all this you may not be aware that most tables don't come with a cartridge (aka needle, phono cart, stylus). Yup, once you get past a certain price bracket you'll find that you now have to make a decision on a cartridge. This can no doubt be a hell of a daunting task for even the most seasoned vinyl aficionado.
With prices ranging from a mere £25 all the way up to an eye watering £15000+. So have a think about how much exactly you want to spend. But do think about this carefully. Sure, this is ultimately the smallest part of any turntable's setup, but remember, this is what is going to be a the forefront of reproducing the record's sound.
Firstly you have make one of two choices - Moving magnet or moving coil. The former, most commonly abbreviated to MM is the cheaper and arguably most user friendly option. Sometimes you may see this labeled as Moving Iron or MI cartridge. The 'needle' or 'stylus' is often user replaceable and for the best part will set you back a fraction of the cost of the aforementioned alternative. On the flip side, a moving coil or MC cart will cost a bit more but is widely regarded as producing a more faithful sound. MC cart's don't have a user replaceable stylus so as a result they will have to be returned to the manufacturer to be refurbished. Most companies now implement a scheme where you can return your cartridge to a store and pick up a brand new one for a fraction of the cost of a new one. Helpful as this is, it can naturally prove to still be quite costly, depending on the model and manufacturer.
There has always been somewhat of a debate on the merits of each style, with both having their pros and cons. I would personally argue for example, that Ortofon's top end MM cart, the 2M Black blows their lower end Cadenza Red MC cart well out of the water. But ultimately its down to the listeners own personal preference, so with that in mind, don't be scared to ask to hear your options in store.

Choose A Phono Stage
Yeah, heres another little expenditure you may not have anticipated - a phono stage. This is basically a miniature amplifier, of sorts. Back in the day most amps would boast a dedicated 'phono' output alongside the usual Aux, Tape, etc etc. As vinyl sales dwindled and CD's took their place manufacturers stopped catering for turntables. So now you need to pick up something to fill that gap, and that gap can cost you anywhere from £15 to £10000. Don't worry though, there are plenty of choices at the lower end of that scale.
Just like your cartridge choice you once again have a couple of options. Some phono amps will cater for just MM carts and some will accommodate MC carts. Generally speaking those that deal with moving coil cartridges will also extend the same courtesy for moving magnet cartridges (but always check). If you feel like you'd like to start with a MM cart with the view to possibly upgrade to a MC cart in the future I would highly recommend picking yourself up something that can deal with the two. This is where the likes of Pro-Ject play a blinder (do a really good job - for all our non-English readers). As they have an excellent selection of choices from their 'Box range' and I highly recommend pretty much all of them. Don't forget to bare in mind that your table will attach to the phono stage, THEN your amp. This means that you may well need to also pick up another (albeit) short pair of phono cables.

The Set-Up
Once you have all the pieces to your HiFi jigsaw puzzle, it's now time to get them home and set them up. This may go without saying, but for God's sake take your time! Unpack everything slowly and gently, you're not throwing together an Ikea wardrobe for crying out loud.
Certain things like the cartridge alinement, which can take a delicate and patient hand can be done in-store by a seasoned pro. Don't be afraid to ask! They should have all the necessary tools to their disposal and this option should be extended to everyone whether they're forking out £50000 or £500. If however you are feeling especially bold and want to do this yourself then knock yourself out. I'd personally advise against this for a first time buyer, but y'know, some folk don't listen to reason. If you are intending on going down this route at least Google it first and pick up the right tools to do the job.
If you did listen to reason and get the chap to set up your cartridge in-store then you're already insight of the finishing line. Unpack your table - carefully and follow its set up instructions diligently. Once you've got the thing in place, connect the phono leads from it to your phono stage, then from there attach another set of phono leads to your amp. Then you're just about ready to roll.

Other Peripherals
Once you've got your basic setup laid down you can now tinker, and let's face it what red blooded male doesn't like to tinker? This is where you have a positive smorgasbord of options at your disposal, some more essential that others.
My suggestion would be to pick yourself up some miniature bubble levels to keep an eye on how your table is sitting. If budget allows kill two birds with one stone and grab yourself a record weight (aka record puck) with one built in. Secondly pick up a stylus gauge. This is used to to check how much downforce the cartridge is applying to the record. Each cartridge will have a different ideal weight stated in its manual in grams. This is important and shouldn't be flouted. These aren't arbitrary values, and will range from cartridge to cartridge. Even if you got this set up by someone in store it's well worth having one to hand incase you ever end up knocking the tonearm's counter weight. Finally, if you went for a belt driven table it may be worth your time checking out a potential power supply that lets your adjust the tables rpm speed. This is admittedly least essential than the others, but supremely helpful should you like to play 7"'s and 12"s in equal measure.

There we have it. Now go forth and spin some wax!


Echoes Of Yul Interview

The second band on an untitled split album recently released by Instant Classic, Echoes Of Yul continue the dark musical experimentation with which the album began.  We had a chance to fire a few questions about EoY's past and future at the band's founder, Michał Śliwa, so read on!

RWTD: How did Echoes of Yul first develop as a band?

Michał: Echoes of Yul was never intended as a "real" band.  It was always my child and I invite guest musicians to co-operate.  This is in my case the best way to work flawlessly.

RWTD: Where does the 'Yul' in the band's name come from?

Michał: It is just a word.  My previous band's name was Yul and now EOY is some kind of continuity of these ideas.

RWTD: Given the diversity of EoY's musical style, are there any specific influences coming into play while writing the music or in the studio?  For instance, what was the process of creating "Asemic" like?

Michał: A lot of stuff from movies, art to music (spacerock, psych, sludge, a lot of electronic stuff, movie soundtracks, etc.).  I like to work alone without any distractions to get trance-like state of mind and that's how "Asemic" was composed - I achieved very basic raw sound and tried focus on repetitions, then added a lot of layers of guitars, synths, accordion, theremin and so on.  In my case writing and working in the studio is basically very close to each other: post-production/studio work is very important part in my process of creating music.

RWTD: How did Echoes of Yul and Thaw first meet?

Michał: I met Artur (Thaw's guitarist) few years ago on one of the first gigs of Thaw.  Also EOY shared a split record with his previous band Sun for Miles, years later both our bands had records released through Avantgarde at the same time and we agreed that we should release another split.

RWTD: What are Echoes of Yul's plans for the rest of the year?

Michał: The rest of the year I reserved for recording EOY's third record, I hope I'm gonna finish it this summer and release it sometime next year.  My intention is to do this time something a little different from previous releases: more minimalistic and melodic.

RWTD: Anything else you'd like to say to our readers?

Michał: Greetings, readers!

Find our review of the split release here, and you can also get more information on Echoes Of Yul and the split at the following sites.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Product Review ~


Ortofon, in their present capacity have been around since 1951, so thats 60 years of innovation and technical pioneering under their belts. That for me is the first biggest clincher when looking at a company's product - Do they know what they're doing? But when you consider their history actually dates back all the way to 1918 and topped with the fact that these guys produced the worlds first moving coil cartridge back in 1948, well you can be pretty certain that they've got more technical know-how and experience than most.
Experience is the key, but most people's first impressions will be drawn from the styling, right or wrong this is pretty inevitable. Fortunately the Danish company have firmly hit the nail on the head in those stakes too. In general cartridges aren't all that much to look at but some how they've managed to craft the 2M series into something of pure beauty. Infact, style wise Ortofon haven't missed the mark on any of their products. From the gorgeous retro SPU series to the more up to date minimalistic charm of the Cadenza line it's clear that they know what they're doing and can do it better than anyone else.
As for performance you'd expect the 2M Blue to deliver nothing but the best right?... Needless to say it does. There really is no point burying the lead here, this is best MM cartridge I've ever tested. Fantastic design apart the 2M series has really shifted the bench mark of the moving magnet market, pushing it to and in some cases beyond the level of some moving coil models.
I will admit I tried desperately to catch it out in some shape or form while testing. I chose a variety of albums over a selection of genres in an attempt to isolate a flaw. From the thunderingly heavy stylings of Eagle Twin's 'The Unkindness Of Crows' and stormy tones of Isis's 'Wavering Radiant' to the mellow tones of Sneaker Pimps 'Becoming X' and the frantic beats and Bass of Crystal Method's 'Vegas'. Nothing could catch this thing off guard. Even when faced with first pressings of Pink Floyd's 'Meddle' and Deep Purple's 'The Book Of Taliesyn' which aren't in the best condition, every chord and symbol crash still sounds crisp and clear. It's truly astounding how well this cartridge distinguishes every layer of the recording, whether its old or new, stereo or mono, 33rpm or a 45. The clarity at which this thing delivers is truly a wonder to behold. It completely blows the competition away, leaving similar priced cartridges such as the Grado 'Prestige' or Audio Technica 440ML in its dust.
Ranging from £75/$110 for the 2M Red to £460/$730 for the award winning 2M Black there's no reason not to not buy this cartridge, whether it's for your first turntable or you're looking to upgrade, don't pass by the 2M range. It looks amazing and can handle anything. It's pretty much the Fonz of MM Cartridges.


Product Review ~


I must say that I've always loved B&W so my sway towards these speakers may be ever so slightly bias. They've always seemed to create and style their lines exactly to my taste, weather it be their P5 headphones or their Zeppelin iPod dock they're attention to detail has always hit the nail squarely on the head. Sure you can't always judge a book by its cover but when it comes to something thats more often than not the largest part of your system it will inevitably be the one thing that will intrude most into the aesthetics and decor of your room. But from day one B&W have always made it clear that their styling well and truly goes hand in hand with their science. Besides, for the last 20+ years the famous Abby Road studios have been utilising their expertise - if thats not a glowing endorsement nothing is.

So, on with the job in hand. Standing just shy of a metre in hight and a width of about 17cm the CM8's are a shade smaller than the average speaker of it's kind, making them the ideal floor standing loud speaker if you're finding space a little on the sparse side. But don't be fooled, what these babies lack in size they more than make up for in one hell of a kick. With the 25mm domed aluminium tweeter who's design has been derived from the companies mind blowing flagship speaker the Nautilus, you'll find the high end never falls short of being tight and precise and with a real bare minimum of coloration. As for the mid range, well truth be told it rarely comes better. This is also where B&W's 40 plus years of pain staking perfecting and mastery comes to the very forefront. As their patented FST technology (thats 'fixed suspension transducer' for all us mere mortals) comes heavily into play. Utilising kevlar to absorb straying sound waves heading towards the edge of the cone, the result being a greater response time and phenomenal clarity. This can be heard most evidently within vocals, lighter string instruments and suchlike. The FST also plays heavily when in moments of sudden melodic aggression. Perfect examples of which you can hear in the albums 'I, Vigilante' by Crippled Black Phoenix or Refused awesome 'Shape Of Punk To Come'. Those moments before the storm where the vocals and strings gently build up before being met ferociously by exploding bass, percussion and unadulterated overdrive often suffer from a brief second of confused muddiness as all the elements collide together. Evidently not here though as clarity seems to certainly at the top of the agenda.
Even with the addition of the twin bass drivers working to their full capacity nothing seems to buckle under the pressure.
As far as the aforementioned bass goes in and of itself, it is fantastically tight and coherent and without a doubt some of the best I've ever been fortunate enough to hear outside of a studio. Some have argued that B&W's end results within the mid and low range collaboration have tended to produce a sound thats all in all a bit clinical and un-involving. On the whole I really can't say I agree on this front. It may ultimately be down to the particular acoustics of my room, but I'm more inclined to think that it may well be the outcome of the synergy between the CM8's and my valve amp. The inevitable warm tone associated with 4 glowing KT88 tubes may just soften that apparent bite enough without compromising their cutting edge kevlar infused monolithically beautiful craftsmanship.

Available in a choice of four finishes - gloss black, white, wenge and rosenut you'll easily find a ascetically complimentary solution to your system, be it to partner brand new and shiny Onkyo M5000 amp or a lovely wood and brushed aluminium Pioneer Pl-500.


Product Review ~


In 1946, Paul W. Klipsch, audio and physics genius; launched the Klipschorn loudspeaker, one of the most famous and influential speakers ever. The only speaker design to remain only slightly changed in 65 years, Klipschorns are amazingly efficient speakers. They can be driven with a mere 12 watts of power and produce a sensitivity of 105dB at 1 watt/ 1 meter. I have owned a pair since 1987 and I must tell you that many times I have looked to other manufacturers as technology has changed, you know like an audio geek will do, but you will have to pry my Klipschorns out of my dead arms. Klipschorns are manufactured by hand in Hope, Arkansas, just as they have been since 1946. Since I purchased mine, Klipsch has changed the tweeter from a 3” horn to a 1” Phenolic diaphragm compression driver, personally I like the original horn sound slightly better. It sounds a little more natural to my ears, though it does not deliver as high a range as the new driver, both versions spec 33hz to 17khz +/- 4dB.

I must admit to you Ride with the Devil enthusiasts that like the other 4 senses, hearing is very subjective to each person. So when purchasing a speaker system, trust your own ears and ask to demo a system in your listening environment and with your own personal taste in music. What may sound great in a sound room at the dealer, can sound dramatically different in your entertainment room. Many dealers will happily let you demo speakers in your home and when buying a premium speaker, you will be smart to ask for that. What has really amazed me with my Klipschorns over the years is the sound space that the speakers make. If you close your eyes and spin around, it is difficult to point at the speakers within the room, the sound is that full. Now Klipschorns are not for everyone, they need to be placed in the corners of the room and a fairly large room at that. Currently I have mine in a 3.6m by 4.2m (12’ by 14’) space with a vaulted ceiling, by far the best room I have used them in. Also the speakers weigh in at a massive 79.4kg (175 pounds). I find the Klipschorns very well suited to play metal to classical equally well, the bass is always solid and the midrange horn really brings out a fat clean guitar and is very crisp. One unique design feature of the Klipschorns is that the bass driver, a large 38.1cm (15”) reflects off the front birch plywood case and the sound reflects back out the rear of the speaker, and being in a corner creates a very natural live sound quality. And loud, even with a tube amp of relatively low output, these speakers can scream.

The listening mode that I really believe my Klipschorns excel at is with a recording on vinyl. That rich analog sound is reproduced flawlessly. I often find myself on the couch with an old live Who or Clash recording, eyes closed, imagining they are playing on stage in front of me. With timeless design, cabinet beauty, hand craftsmanship, and no bull shit, the Klipschorns are Futzer approved.


Choosing a Cartridge...

Well and truly the workhorse of your turntable, when it comes to phono cartridges there are basically two types to choose from - Moving Magnet (MM) and Moving Coil (MC). The debate on which is the better choice has raged for years. While both have their pros and cons, audiophiles do tend to favour the moving coils. Which one of those is best?... Well, thats opening up a whole other can of worms...

So what are we looking at?
Well, moving magnet cartridges can range from a mere £25 ($40) to around £1000 ($1250) give or take a buck or two. Moving coil's on the other hand tend to begin at around £220 ($300) and go up to an eye watering £10000 ($15000).

The first key thing to do is find a comparable cartridge to your table. There's no point, for example screwing a £50 cart onto a £4000 table, and vice versa. While we don't suggest selling a kidney or re-mortgaging your house for one of these, we do urge you not to simply skimp when it comes to your decision. Think about your choices and always go for the best your budget will allow.
The second key thing is the cartridge's setup. If you've got yourself a relatively cheap setup and have sprung for the relevant tools (scales, protractor etc - stay tuned for our setup guide), then by all means try yourself. Take your time, follow the instructions and if you're unsure about anything ask at pro. Alternatively get a pro to do the whole lot for you. While this is quite ideal and should be an option proposed to you when buying your rig, it doesn't help you much when it comes to maintaining it.


Moving Magnet - In a moving magnet cartridge there's a tiny magnet resting on the end of the stylus cantilever inside the cartridge's body. This magnet is suspended between two coils, one for the left channel and one for the right. As you may have deduced the magnet moves between the two coils inducing a current in them. Since the magnet is so small it weighs very little, therefore requiring slightly more downforce (tracking force), which isn't ideal. But what a MM lacks in sound reproduction to the MC they make up for in a couple of areas - namely price and the benefit of having a user replaceable stylus (in many cases).

We Recommend -

Ortofon ~ The 2M Series
Like most of Ortofon's ranges, the 2M is available in 4 models - Red, Blue, Orange and Black, with their price increases in that order. Highly praised by all and sundry since their arrival 5 or so years ago, all four models have proved to be excellent value for money and highly versatile. Which ever model your budget allows for can be expect to perform above and beyond its price bracket. A regular and not to mention perfect choice for newbies or veterans alike.

Goldring ~ G2100
The entry model to Goldring's 2000 series of cartridges, the 2100, much like the 2M performs well above it's price tag. It's ability to capture the most tiny musical nuances with its elliptical diamond stylus has earned this little beauty quite an array of 5 star reviews.
Beautifully styled to boot, the 2100 is fantastic option for upgrading any budget turntable.

Audio-Technica ~ 120E
Doing the round for well over a decade now the 120E is a fantastic cartridge at an incredible price. If the purse strings are tight and you have little in the way of budget but don't want to completely sacrifice quality then this is certainly one for your consideration.
With a never ending list of happy customer reviews this plucky little offering has proven its worthiness time and time again.


Moving Coil - Where in the aforementioned cartridges it's the magnet that moves, in a MC, you guessed it, it's the coil that does all the shifting. Using a similar principle to the moving magnet, here it's the coils that are attached to the stylus cantilever and instead move beside a stationary magnet. Because of the magnet's close proximity, the coils use extremely fine wire which in turn causes the output voltage to be extremely low. Much lower than that of a moving magnet cartridge, which is why some additional amplification in the form of a seperate (or at least MM to MC switchable) phono-stage is required. While this may serve as another expenditure, the low output of a MC works wonders in eliminating potential pops and squeaks from an LP.

We Recommend -

Denon ~ DL103R
This flagship MC cart was originally conceived in the 1960's through a joint venture between Denon and the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Since it's first conception it has blazed a trail for everyone else. Over five decades later the 103 is still going strong. Maintaining a diehard fanbase, it's quality and reliability have never dwindled and it still remains a firm favourite of audiophiles the world over. For a moving coil under £250 ($320) there are very few other options that can step up to the 103's plate.

Ortofon ~ The Quintet Series 
The world's leading cartridge manufacture's latest moving coil offering. Just like the 2M series the range incorporates the companies standard four colours, ranging in price. While arguably not quite as attractive at their fellow moving coil Cadenza range they're resulting quality is easily on par and with the entry level red version priced at around $320 they're an excellent choice for anyone looking to up their game from a moving magnet.

Shelter ~ 501 mkIII

We saved the best till last.
Arguably the best value for money moving coil on the planet. Japanese company Shelter have been manufacturing the 501 model for well over a decade now, and this latest incarnation has improved on an already excellent and revered product. Pleasing even the most ardent of critics the 501 had won praise after praise and boasts a plethora of 5 star reviews, with most boasting that you'd need to fork out twice as much if not more to come close to beating it. A true giant killer.


Hear The Call!

Dog Moon Howl - Dog Moon Howl (2014)

Dog Moon Howl's self-titled debut album brings the blues together with hard rock and stoner rock, and for a band which hails from Glasgow, they do a fully respectable job of emulating the Delta-region sound. Throw in some buzzy, fuzzy psychedelic guitar solos, and the band already has a distinctive sound of their own, one which I have to imagine draws in crowds at live shows like iron filings to a magnet. There's some friendliness underneath the rough surface of the music, as though the band really just wants to have a good time laying out some finely-polished songs for their audience.
There's a pleasing sense of casual familiarity between the performances of each band-member, though they've only been together for a few years so far, and as they rummage around in their bag of styles for different pieces to put together for each song, they sound natural and unforced in their synthesis. At the same time, there's an undeniable sense of the heavy rock bands of the '70s over all of the songs, with craggy guitar against melodic vocals and manly wails, while the drums just plug away with full game and just a little muffling. Though most of the songs are in the standard rock range (aside from the quick'n'dirty Motörhead-channeling of “Punching Walls”), the band also gets to preen a bit with some longer tracks on the album, like the tight grooving and Hendrix-flavored shred solo of “Lost” and the closing trip of “Your New King”, in which the band goes deep into the heavy end for their first finale.
Dog Moon Howl has put together a debut of which they can rightly be proud, as they tip their hat to their influences while building it up into something of their own. With good ears for riffs and amp settings, they're bound to go far, as long as they get the recognition they deserve. Do your part and snag a copy of their album for yourself, either in CD or download format from their BandCamp, and kick back with an album tailor-made for the hottest days of the year.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Deep Purple, Groggy, Kadavar, Saint Vitus, Danzig


Friday, August 22, 2014

The Anatomy Of A Turntable...

• Anti-skate Weight
- This small weight will dangle off the back of the tonearm. This stops the arm from just sliding (or skating) across your favourite record and towards the spindle. It's position is determined by the weight of the cartridge you're using.

• Cartridge - The beating heart of your table. The cartridge contains the stylus (needle) which runs over the microscopic grooves and converts them into what you hear. A potential fragile piece of kit, it's advised to leave the provided guard on when not in use.

• Counterweight - The large weight that hangs from the back of the tonearm. When rotated it will slowly slide up and down the rear of the arm. This adjusts the arms balance and is used to fine tune the down force or 'tracking weight' of the cartridge onto the record.

• Cue Arm - Also referred to as the cueing lever, this device raises and lowers the tonearm on and off the record, allowing you to 'drop' the needle at the beginning or desired point in the album.

• Headshell - Most modern tonearms no longer incorporate this feature. The headshell is a detachable section of the tonearm that allowed the user to replace or swap over different cartridges without the necessity of completely unscrewing and setting the new cartridge from scratch

• On/Off - This should be pretty self explanatory.

• Pitch Adjustment - (Direct Drive Tables Only) - This allows the the user to adjust the speed at which the platter spins. Not a regular feature, it's almost exclusive to DJ turntables.

• Platter (Main) - Driven by the belt, this is the part that is designed to move, rotating the record beneath the cartridge.

• Platter (Sub) (Belt Drive Tables Only) - On a belt driven table this is often what the main platter sits on. A fraction of the size of the main platter it is attached to the belt, which is in turn attached to the motor. Some Belt driven tables (like above) Eliminate the need for a sub platter by attaching the belt directly around the main platter.

• Plinth - The main body of the turntable, sometimes simply referred to as the base. Usually the weightiest part of the table to aid dampening of vibrations.

• Slipmat - This sits between the main platter and the LP and serves to isolate the record from vibration thus improving the sound quality. Most commonly made from felt or cork you can experiment with different materials to produce subtle nuances in the albums sound.

• Speed Selector - Usually just two rpm options here - 33 and 45, but sometimes you may well find 78. The vast array of belt drive tables don't tend to offer this feature. Instead you may well have to manually move the belt from one of part of the motors pulley to another allowing it to either increase or decrease the platters turning speed. Alternatively many manufactures offer a separate unit which the turntable will plug into instead of directly into the mains supply. This unit then alters the frequency delivered to the motor allowing it to run at different speeds at the flick of a switch.

• Strobe Light (Direct Drive Tables Only) - Found only on direct drive tables, like the pitch control its not a standard feature. It's purpose is to let the user confirm that the platter is spinning at the correct speed. This is done by looking at the side of the platter where the light is shining. There should be a series of dots or dashes that will appear static when the platter is spinning at the right rpm.

• Tonearm - This is the pivoting arm that holds the cartridge.


All Shaken Up...

Acid Kola Turbo - EP-1 (2014)

Acid Kola Turbo's first EP brings four songs to the table to establish the band's sound. They start with “Look Around”, a groovy little number with some grungy flavor to it as the guitar dips and crunches. The drumming is tight and clean, while the vocalist has a good sense of character and pitch-shifting to his voice. “Start Believing” kicks off with a short audio sample, then kicks into a groove that immediately put me in mind of early Electric Wizard, though they soon shifted from there into a more rock-focused swinging riff, which is then escalated to a cascade of feedback and keyboards; it's a real face-melter of a track. “Shame On You” begins with a real Undertow-era Tool-sounding drum rhythm and crunch riff, then applies heat to make it boil over, and “Falling” serves as the band's big set-closer, with 7 minutes of psychedelic grooving twisting through the air.
It's difficult putting a sense of identity to the album, since each of the songs is so wildly different from the next, but there's a few things tying it all together; this group's already excellent at writing songs, they're inventive, and they bring a great deal of character out of their instruments. I fully expect to find myself getting a piece of one of their songs at the back of my mind and having to listen to the EP still another time, because these tracks are positively infectious little ear-worms. Hopefully some sharp label will sign this up for a physical release, but until then, you can pick up a digital copy at the Acid Kola Turbo's BandCamp. Don't let this one slip by you!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Eternal Elysium, Wicked Lady, Moon Curse, RHINO, Weed


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Get It Rocking...

Manthrass - Manthrass EP (2013)

Once you've torn your eyes away from their cover art, we'll go on with the review.  Ready?  It's okay, I'll wait.
Hailing from Argentina, Manthrass blend heavy rock with some truly ripping energy and buzz-saw guitar-work.  The drummer (who has been replaced since the EP's recording) is no slouch, as he bashes away and lays down some inspired fills and rhythms.  The bassist (Ángel Rizzo) and guitarist (Mariano Castiglioni) share vocal duties, and the two of them work well together, while the mixing of their voices into the rough edges of the instruments hits on a solid balance.
The EP features three original tracks, and one (“Post Crucifixión”) which the band credits as a cover of a song by Pescado Rabioso.  Their original material is very strong, occasionally inviting comparisons to early Black Sabbath, and the guitar often has a swagger to it that really energizes things.  While I've never heard the original version of the song they cover, the sweat they put into paying the song tribute will have me looking for it before too long.  Here's hoping they're already hard at work on another EP or, if we're very lucky, a full-length album; until then, do not miss out on this excellent release.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Brimstone Coven, Jimi Hendrix, Saint Vitus, early Black Sabbath, Salem's Pot


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Beginning The Journey...

Uroboros - Misantropía & Blasfemia (2013)

Argentinian sludge band Uroboros released Misantropía & Blasfemia about a week and a half before their follow-up, Herejía & Exilio. The titles and proximity of release dates suggest more than a little connectivity between the two EPs, and with each of them adding up to somewhere around 20 minutes of material, it's easy to imagine it as a concept album separated by force and intentional isolation of the experiences on each.
The first of the EPs begins with sludge as you usually think of it, with force and aggression pouring out of the guitar, vocals, and drums while the bass lays down some thick and nasty resonance. The group has a solid grip on the spirit of sludge, some excellently violent riffs and bridges, and a willingness to go as long or short with the song as called for by the music and mood.  In the 10-minute closing track "En Las Fauces de Uroboros", the band shows that their song-writing is sharp enough to sustain stretching out that environment into big pieces with more room for experimentation.  They also do well at having the distinct sections flow naturally into each other, with some nice juggling of rhythms and crunch.  Their material on this first release is excellent on its own, no questions about that, but it's perhaps even more exciting as the first piece of their larger works.  Basically, if you like sludge of any sort, this group is one worth checking out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Hesperian Death Horse, Ksyatriya, Gilla Bruja, Meth Drinker, Fleshpress


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Devil to Pay

At Devil Dirt ~ Plan B: Sin Revolución No Hay Evolución

The update is a bit late today, so I'm going to keep thing short, sweet, and to the point. This Chilean duo seems to escape all normal classifications, let's just say that at times it's bordering on Psychedelic Doom Metal, and at others it could be considered ridiculously fuzzed out Stoner Rock, give it a little time and you're hit with a track that you could pass off as Doom Metal all day, whatever you feel like calling it, it's heavier than hell with a groove that slays. While every track is worth your time, my favorite was probably the incredibly catchy title track, "Sin Revolución No Hay Evolución". With guitar riffs as dark and fuzzy as my front-side, the song screams Black Sabbath with the initial vocals sounding like they were pulled straight from the 90's Grunge scene, but when the chorus kicks in, you wonder when the hell Paul McCartney joined the group. Being a dynamic duo, the only other instrumentation is the drummer, who pounds out his mid-tempo rhythm with a vicious precision. There are so many ways to get your paws on this  of fuzz, you don't have much of an excuse for not having a copy. You can head over to the group's bandcamp and get the digital version for a "name your price" deal, or pick up one of the last few CDs from them. You can get all of your vinyl fixes from our buddies at Bilocation Records, while there's still some available at least.

For Fans Of; Kyuss, Exporting White Elephants, Sleep

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pleasing the Rock Gods

Planet of Zeus ~ Vigilante (2014)

 It's been awhile since our fearless leader, Jay, gave us his review of Planet of Zeus's debut full-length album "Macho Libre", about three years to be exact. Just to get us all on the same page, Planet of Zeus is a four piece Southern/Stoner Rock band that hails from Greece, like so many quality groups of similar genres. Their latest album is full of heavy and catchy riffs, swinging, "make you want to party" rhythms, all of that goodness is iced over nicely with a howling vocal performance that can go from raw and still melodic all the way to dirt road vocals with more gravel in his throat than almost anyone you've heard. While the album is full of just about all the groovy Stoner Rock that one person can take, they still manage to slip in a healthy dose of that Southern swagger that goes down so smooth, like the finest bourbon. My standout track of the album was towards the end, but "Sky High Heels" got my attention on the first spin, and never really let it go. Having a bigger hit of that Southern Rock vibe than some of the other tracks, opening up with a couple of hard drum beats, and a slightly twangy, but grooving riff it doesn't take long for the vocals to kick in, cleaner this time around with a Bluesy quality, but still organic and relatively unpolished. While the guitars are screaming, you hear the drums banging out their part, with the bass keeping up and the two of them laying down the song's bedrock flawlessly. This is one of the sleaziest, funnest tracks I've had the pleasure of listening to in a while, and it won't take long before you have to start moving once it gets going, or your girl may just end up being the one who dances to this one.
You can get in on this beast of an album on their label, I Have A Drum's bandcamp, stream it to death or shell out a few bucks for a CD and/or download, if you haven't already, you can catch up on their older releases over at their own bandcamp page.

For Fans Of; Orange Goblin, Artimus Pyledriver, XII Boar