RUST BELT MELODIC ROCK MAESTROS LO-PAN TO RELEASE FOURTH ALBUM, SUBTLE, ON AQUALAMB RECORDS [MAY 17] It’s hardly a secret that some of the most potent hard rock ever rocked comes from the American midwest —places like Detroit and Cleveland, after all, have long since settled into a rusted-out post-industrial bleakness that serves as perfect inspiration for jagged, abrasive music. And lately, Columbus, once best known among underground musicologists as an incubator for garage-punk, is coming into its own as a hub of heaviness; recent years have seen C-Bus doom, heavy-psych and post-punk bands proffer stellar, head-turning albums, but before ALL of the impressive new crop, there was Lo-Pan. Lo-Pan was formed in 2005 by veteran bassist Skot Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz, who were joined by the jaw-droppingly gifted and expressive singer Jeff Martin in 2007. For the past two years, the guitar slot has been occupied by Chris Thompson (no relation to Skot), who is featured for the first time on their stunning fourth full-length Subtle, their second release with Aqualamb Records after 2017’s In Tensions EP. Almost as if to show the new guy off, the LP’s lead-off track “10 Days” begins with the unmistakable static of a guitar being plugged in—an entryway to a beautifully gnarly, broken-up riff that heralds an album full of completely sick grooves that tilt strongly toward the more headstrong end of the stoner-rock spectrum, underpinned by the familiar collision of Bartz’s heavy hitting and Thompson’s sleek and rubbery basslines, all in service to Martin’s transcendent vocal performances. And as regards those vocal performances, the next cut, “Savage Heart” contains one of Martin’s most exceptional. That’s followed by “Ascension Day,” a title that can’t help but recall post-rock progenitors Talk Talk at their most opaquely experimental, but Lo-Pan’s song of the same name is in an altogether different zone, moving forward on the strength of an unyielding groove while Martin’s frictionless vocal floats above it all. Things take a turn for the doomier on “Everything Burns,” a long slow-burner that relentlessly advances at a pace that makes every note hit HARD. “This band has always been four corners coming together,” said Martin. “Nobody in this band comes from the same background, we often disagree on a lot of fundamental things, but it’s undeniable when we get together and it coalesces into the product of the four personalities. It hits me in my heart, and whenever I sing these songs I relive what I’m writing about. These are our most overtly and unapologetically hostile lyrics to date. I have always written what I think and feel.” “Chris’ songwriting is more of an organic process while mine’s very robotic,” offers Skot Thompson. “And those two wiring processes tend to blend themselves together. There’s been a handful of songs on [Subtle] in particular where those two processes have melded into something beautiful. A lot of these songs are me, Chris, and Jesse putting things together, with Jeff layering things on top to make it more of a solid form.” Subtle was produced by James Brown (NIN, Foo Fighters, Ghost) and mastered by Ted Jensen (Mastodon, Deftones, Bad Company, GNR). It will be released on [MAY 17] in vinyl with a sleeve designed by Eric Palmerlee, and as always for Aqualamb releases, as a 100 page art book/digital download package.
ELEPHANT TREE (UK)
are a relatively new band blasting a combination of ballsy blues rock and heavy riffs, who, after cutting their teeth in the metal scene, have established a place within the current growing Stoner Metal genre. Their self-tilted sophomore released in April 2016 is spaced out, bizarre, unafraid to expand what doom can be, and featured in many “top of 2016” lists…
“Theia” was promptly recorded in the summer of 2014, followed swiftly by the band being picked up by record label Magnetic Eye Records. A year of solid gigging and a European Tour later, the self-titled ELEPHANT TREE album was recorded. Following on from the release and the critics praises, the UK Tour as the main support of Mars Red Sky went off successfully with a number of return gigs booked up and down the UK and interest in seeing the band growing overseas.
Moving into 2017, the band have been commissioned to write a track for the ambitious The Planet Of Doom feature length animation. They will play both Desertfests in April and Freak Valley in June, they will take part in Psycho Las Vegas next summer, and are already confirmed for more festivals during the fall. ELEPHANT TREE will also be back in the studio soon, and plan a full European Tour for 2018 to promote their upcoming release…