Tombstones In Their Eyes – Maybe Someday

When listening to a record for the first time, I can usually tell within the first thirty seconds of song one if I’ll want to hear it through, skip to song two (or deeper) in search of the chords and vocals that will connect with me, or stop it and never look back. There are also occasions when song one gets repeat playback because it’s so good. And then the same happens with song two. And song three. Music lovers understand this “Eureka!” moment.

Maybe Someday by Tombstones In Their Eyes was my 2019 “Eureka!” moment.

Comprised of John Treanor (vocals/guitar), Josh Drew (guitar), Mike Mason (bass) and Stephen Striegel (drums), Tombstones In Their Eyes is a band from Los Angeles that appeals to fans of psych, noise, shoegaze, alternative, and even sludgy doom metal. James Cooper, an old school friend of Treanor’s now living in New York, is also considered a member as he helped start the band and works with him on song creation. The band released a number of EPs, including 2017’s Fear which was my first introduction to their signature melodic yet crunchy sound, and 2018’s Nothing Here.

On November 15th, 2019, Somewherecold Records released Maybe Someday, and what could be described as a well-polished, cohesive collection of gritty psych-infused noise rock songs.

There is an immediate feeling of immensity on album opener “Open Skies” and the tangibility of this “bigness” caries throughout the title-track and “I Want You”, amplified by the swirl of guitars and the drone of Treanor’s ethereal vocals.  Bass lines and drums are clean and not overstated, effectively complimenting and driving forward the wash of sound enveloping them.

“Down In The Dirt” has a decidedly sludgier feel to it that fans of Philadelphia’s Nothing will appreciate and is a personal favourite, of many favourites, on the album.  Coming in at just shy of six minutes, it’s best played loud, with eyes closed and head bopping.

When listening to the “The One”, it’s not at all surprising that Treanor listed Electric Wizard as one of his favourite bands in our 21 Disarming Questions interview. It’s a dark and heavy stoner rock song, yet feels not at all out of place on Maybe Someday. Like “Down In The Dirt”, it pushes the six minute mark, but I’d welcome an extra long extended version of this one.  It’s that good.

Another shift in direction happens on “I Believe”, the most upbeat song on the album and closest to a “traditional” alternative/psych song before we slow down and slide back into the fog of “I Can’t Feel It Anymore” and “Up And Down” that fans of The Black Angels will surely enjoy.  We leave Maybe Someday with “Dreams”, an aptly-named soundscape of surreal fuzzed-out guitars, vapory vocals and keys.

Tombstones In Their Eyes manages to interlace so many sounds into Maybe Someday without defining the album as any one genre nor lose the mood set out from the album’s opening notes.  It’s a perfect balance and pace and warrants repeated play through from start to finish.

You can get Maybe Someday from the Somewherecold Records Bandcamp page on CD and digital.  Coming soon to vinyl.

Dave MacIntyre

Sleep Live at The Danforth Music Hall

Monday night at The Danforth Music Hall got heavy.  Really heavy.  San Jose’s stoner doom metal wizards, Sleep, were in town to perform in front of a sold-out space of mostly dudes, wearing mostly metal band t-shirts.  The 3-piece consisting of front man/bassist Al Cisneros, guitarist Mike Pike, and drummer Jason Roeder, released their critically-acclaimed fourth record, The Sciences, earlier this year, and their first full-length record since 92s ground breaker Sleep’s Holy Mountain.  Songs from the new record would take the forefront this night forming nearly half of the eleven song set.

To the Sleep unschooled, eleven songs may seem light or that the band barely got going.  But in truth, they played an extended set that included a brief intermission and an opportunity for all to reattain optimum head space.  If you get my drift.

The stage chugged out a constant fog of dry ice but didn’t come anywhere close to the density of bass and electric guitar riffs being fed to the crowd.  Sleep music is palpable.  It started from opening song “Marijuanaut’s Theme” off The Sciences and continued to the set closer “Giza Butler”, also from the new record.  Fans were also treated to Holy Mountain songs including the title track, “Dragonaut”, and “From Beyond”, as well as “Leagues Beneath” and “The Clarity”.

Prior to the start of the show when some fans learned Sleep would play an extended set, there was speculation they might play “Dopesmoker” in all its hour-long bliss.  They didn’t, but the crowd were still treated to a shortened version that encapsulated all the sticky goodness of the full-length three-part epic.

Sonically, the band are massive and all encompassing.  And as sludgy, loose, and fuzzed-out as the guitars churn, they are held tightly contained within Roeder’s razor sharp drumming proving there is focus and precision in the notes Pike and Cisneros strum.

Sleep took us on the heaviest of head-nodding journeys; an assault of hazey bliss that even the most stoned out fans won’t soon forget.  Sleep will play the Hopscotch Festival in Raleigh, NC before finishing off in September at Brouwerij West in San Pedro, CA.

See this band.

Words and photos by Dave MacIntyre

Restarter by Torche

Restarter by Torche
Restarter by Torche

By Cory Zydyk

There is some music that is meant to be danced to, with pop hooks that invade the mind and body like a virus. On the other hand, there is music that is meant to be an ethereal experience that inhabits another space and transports the listener to another dimension of being. With their fourth album Restarter, genre defying Miami based hard-rock band, Torche, suspend themselves between these two musical realms.

The first track, “Annihilation Affair”, starts the album with a statement. The guitars are extremely sludgy, as if Torche pulled them out of a Florida swamp and started recording. “Annihilation Affair” is one of the heaviest tracks on the album, with no time for fun and games, going from a sludgy power-chord laden march to a heavy, stoner induced ambience that sounds like the love child of Sigur Ros and Sleep.

Yet “Annihilation Affair” is definitely not an indication of what Restarter sounds like as a whole. The next track, “Bishop in Arms” is undoubtedly a punk rock influenced affair. Restarter switches on and off between short punk rock tracks that grind out in two and a half to three minutes, to heavier, doom or stoner metal influenced tracks. In this way, the album is always restarting itself, switching between the two worlds – the danceable to the brooding over and over again. Torche is known as a metal band, but it’s an unfair evaluation of their music. Sure, all the music is heavy and fuzzy to the extreme – but half of it is danceable and up-tempo in a way that most metal simply isn’t.

Photo:  Torche Official
Photo: Torche Official

The heavier tracks on this album like “Annihilation Affair”, “Undone”, “No Servants”, “Barrier Hammer”, and “Restarter” are definitely the strongest tracks on this album. They highlight what Torche does so well; defy convention. The songs in this category often subvert expectations – with heavy, repetitive guitar fuzz, but paired with melodic vocal lines that are reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age. The faster, punkier songs seem a bit too conventional in comparison – they remind me of my Warped Tour days – days that were filled with endless, sugary sweet pop-punk.

Even with this bipolar feel, the album doesn’t go overboard.  You won’t find any crazy, bluesy guitar lines here.  There are no tracks that sound like they were snuck in from a Black Keys album. There are no screaming vocals, just endless melodic broods. The album is a battle cry for those who love heavy rock. And I mean really heavy rock; no fluff, no gimmicks; just sweat, a mosh pit and head banging. Torche’s “Restarter” is infectious, it left me dazed, shell-shocked, and with ringing ears, but it also left me wanting more. Good thing there’s a replay button.

Torche will be in Toronto on March 21st at Lee’s Palace with Nothing and Wrong.  Step On Magazine will be there!

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