Stoner rock fans across North America will have reason to rejoice in March 2019, when English horror-psych mavens Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats join forces with Swedish retro-rockers Graveyard for a co-headlining jaunt dubbed the “Peace Across the Wasteland” tour. Ticket pre-sales for the nineteen-date tour, which kicks off at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer on March 6 and runs through March 30 at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto, begin October 24, with the general on-sale beginning two days later.
No matter the status of his endlessly fluctuating relationship with his former bandmates/business partners, and no matter who’s stage left working his suit and wearing his makeup, Ace Frehley will always be the lead guitar player for KISS. One of the most influential axemen in rock and roll history (haters and naysayers be damned), Frehley has spent a large swath of the sixteen-plus years since his last public appearance with the band firmly cementing his reputation as the once-and-forever Space Ace, touring and releasing a string of albums that show off his singular talents and find inspiration in his formidable legacy. His newest release, Spaceman, plays up the KISS connections and corollaries more than any other project in his solo catalog, which should give longtime fans and followers plenty to sink their teeth into.
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
Rise Above Records
In addition to having a keenly honed knack for riff-driven/pop-tinged sugar-and-sludge psychedelia, Kevin Starrs does atmosphere better than anybody working in heavy music today. As creative force and sole constant member of Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, his albums play like 70mm cult horror classics bootlegged onto well-worn VHS cassettes, casting their cathode ray glow over otherwise darkened bedrooms. The colors are vibrant but washed-out, it’s warbly and more than a little distorted, the on-screen movements leave tracers, and the whole thing has just enough fuzz and static on it to seem genuinely creepy. Acid-steeped, with a heavy dose of psychopaths, brainwashers, and a ready steady flow of that red red kroovy, the Uncle Acid canon is a grindhouse marathon for the mind’s eye. The latest opus from Starrs and Co., Wasteland, brings the “post-apocalyptic dystopia” genre into the oeuvre, a tale of walled cities, mindless masses, piped-in propaganda, and hidden computer discs filled with long-forgotten memories and perhaps the keys to freedom. The premise may sound prog, but the execution is blessedly pure classic rock hesh.
Business is damn sure picking up for Richmond, Virginia hesher riff-kings SATAN’S SATYRS. They’re gearing up for a North American tour with fellow Cavaliers WINDHAND that’ll take up most of October and November, and their sludgy, sleazy new album The Lucky Ones will see release October 19, courtesy of Bad Omen Records and RidingEasy. To whet your appetite and catch a little contact high before the whole slab drops, you can check out the second advance track from The Lucky Ones, the T.REX-in-a-Trans Am stomper “She Beast,” now streaming via YouTube.
In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of their platinum-certified debut album, hard rockers KINGDOM COME have reunited and will be touring the U.S. this fall. The band’s original lineup is largely intact (drummer James Kottak, guitarists Danny Stag and Rick Steier, and bassist Johnny B. Frank), with longtime MONTROSE vocalist Keith St. John stepping in for original frontman Lenny Wolf (who declined to take part but has given the project his blessing). They will be performing Kingdom Come in its entirety, along with selections from their 1989 follow-up In Your Face.
Ain’t No Shame
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Ain’t No Shame, the eagerly anticipated second full-length from Norwegian trio Friendship, should be classified as a mood-enhancing substance. The first time I heard it, it pulled me out of the kind of piss-poor headspace that can only come from five hours cooped up in a car with two cranky children and an more than exasperated spouse. I was actually a little nervous to hit play that first time, for fear that my mental and physical exhaustion might negatively color my feeling toward the material. But by the end of the Monkees-and-Cream-playing-Cheap Trick opener “Are You Ready,” I was grinning ear to ear. Somewhere in the middle of the jazzy delight “Harmony Turns to Sound,” my dopey grin turned to slack-jawed awe. And within three seconds of the stomping funk-rock romp “Fire,” I actually laughed out loud from the combination of amazement and joy. I went to bed that night with a smile on my face and a sense of contentment in my heart, and I have Fredrik Skalstad (drums & lead vocals), Martin Morland (bass), and Sander Eriksen Nordahl (guitar) (along with their litany of guest musicians) to thank for that. It brought me up when I was down, and there’s not too many higher accolades than that.
Church of the Cosmic Skull
The surest way to stand out in a bleak and dour world? Be a beacon of light. With their matching white outfits, recurring rainbow motifs, and a fully-formed and realized rock band-as-hippie love sect mythos, Nottingham-based occult rock septet Church of the Cosmic Skull have done a more-than-admirable job setting themselves apart from the seemingly endless parade of monsters and demons and scowling young men in varying shades of black that populate today’s heavy rock scene. Their aesthetic is so refined and so well-structured, in fact, that at first glance some folks may be inclined to immediately dismiss the group out of hand as a mere novelty act or an elaborate joke. Those folks would being doing themselves a grave disservice, however, because here’s the thing: Church of the Cosmic Skull is one of the best bands in the world of retro-rock, and with their absolutely breathtaking six-part harmonies, they may be the most singular unit out there. Nobody else sounds like this. Their debut album, 2016’s Is Satan Real?, is one of the best records I’ve heard since I started writing for Metal Nexus last summer. Their newest, Science Fiction, is even better.
Four years after recording their self-titled debut, Norwegian retro-psych trio Friendship is poised to release their sophomore effort, the intoxicatingly shimmery Ain’t No Shame. It’s a forty-minute smile, a heartfelt and exquisitely crafted work that should appeal equally to fans of Cream and Kadavar, of Earth, Wind, & Fire and Grand Funk Railroad, and we here at Metal Nexus are pleased and proud to offer you an exclusive streaming premiere of the album’s infectiously swinging title track.
Heavy Psych Sounds
Released April 27, 2018
Ruben Romano has a rock and roll pedigree that can stand alongside the very best. As a founding member of both Fu Manchu and Nebula (let that sink in for a second, why don’tcha?), Romano helped draw up the plans and build the framework that stoner rock hangs on to this very day. He’s spent the last decade-plus as frontman and guiding force for L.A. based psych-rockers The Freeks, piloting their trips-‘n’-riffs-fueled funny car further and further into the cosmic realm; their newest dispatch Crazy World (released via the ever-reliable Heavy Psych Sounds) is the sound of the band-in-residency at the Garage at the Edge of the Universe, a jubilantly strident “Fuck You” in the face of oblivion.
Belgian/Dutch power trio RRRags came together a mere eight months ago, but the songs on their self-titled debut sound like the work of a band that’s been at this rock and roll game for years and years. The band’s musical telepathy is remarkably refined, and the songs are both well-crafted and catchy as all hell. They hit hard without ever plodding, emphasizing groove and atmosphere over sheer brute strength and mixing their upbeat stoner vibe with flashes of soul, funk, southern rock, and power pop. RRRags are obviously true believers and lifelong devotees, my friends, and they’ve conjured up a slab of classic rock for the here and now.