Guitar & Vocals: Joey Toscano
Bass: Dave Jones
Drums & Vibraphone: Zach Hatsis
Music: Joey Toscano, Dave Jones, Zach Hatsis
Lyrics: Joey Toscano
Published by Small Stone Records (ASCAP)
Recording and pre-mixing: Andy Paterson @ The Boar's Nest, Salt Lake City, UT.
Final mixing: Benny Grotto @ Mad Oak Studios, Allston, MA.
Mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio, Ann Arbor, MI.
Cover Painting: Sri Whipple
Inside Illustration: Brian "Kojak" Koschak
Layout: Joey Toscano
“The Dwellers? Aren’t they some kind of pop-punk band?” I asked The Sludgelord. “Wash yer lugs out Furious” was his swift reply.
I didn’t bother to take his advice – I didn’t need to, cause after the first run-through of ‘Good Morning Harakiri’, it was quite clear this was about as far removed from a similarly named pop-punk group as you get, and whatever was clogging my ear-holes up was swiftly removed.
Comprising of Joey Toscano (from Iota) on vocals and guitar, Zach Hatsis on drums and Dave Jones on bass (don’t think it’s the same Dave Jones who manages Sheffield Wednesday, but I may be wrong), Dwellers play a fine blend of blues, sludge and southern rock, or as they call it – Gut Rock.
Have you ever seen the film From Dusk Till Dawn? Remember how well suited the band is that’s playing in the Titty Twister? Well imagine happening upon a bar in the middle of Redneck country. There’s a band up on stage playing there. That band would be Dwellers. Imagine for a moment that someone dared remake the old Burt Reynolds classic Deliverance. Dwellers would be the boys to call for the soundtrack.
I’ll be honest with you though – on the first listen I wasn’t quite feeling this album.
It took two or three listens to get right into it. Of course some of the tracks were more immediate than others, Black Bird being the most immediate for me, with its bluesy stomp and killer drum fills.
There’s certainly plenty of depth on this album. There’s only one track (Lightening Ritual) under the 5-minute mark and Vultures clocks in at an impressive 10 minutes of twists and turns, ups and downs, tasty guitar solos, rock-solid bass lines and (once again) killer drum fills.
If you persevere with this album you’ll be rewarded with some real, meaty, sludgy riffs, open-tuned, slide guitar, a touch of psychedelia, pile-driving drums and gallons of moonshine-soaked vocals.
There’s only six tracks on this album so there’ll be a real fight on to pick a favourite (Old Honey at the moment if you must know).
Do yourself a favour and check out Dwellers. If you’re a fan of ZZ-Top, Grady and riffs coated in fuzz, you’ll sure find Dwellers swell.
Rare is the band that can create a sound unique enough to call its own without paying heavy homage to some sound of the past, near or distant. Dwellers could very well be such a band. I cannot purport to be any sort of musical historian, so I could never say their music isn't at least somewhat derivative of something somewhere, isn't all music?, but for me the sound this threesome create is incredibly unique, and immensely enjoyable. Each song is relentless in its delivery, melded with inexplicable moxie out of ethereal musings and exhibiting guitar work that soars and churns with dexterous ease, riding a plasma wave of unyielding energy borne of the fiercest joy. Vocals strike an incredibly perfect chord, combining a near perfect rasp to an athletic and capable range, lending themselves to the classification of perfect True Rock vocals.
The abilities of the threesome that make up Dwellers is perhaps the result of prior experiences in previous and alternate bands combined with innate ability and passion that has set the course for all three long ago. Iota member Joey Tuscano takes credit for guitar, vocals, and song writing, bringing his considerable talents to the fray from years of playing in the trenches. Zach Hatsis on drums and Dave Jones on bass, formerly of Subrosa, complete the trio by bringing their own years of trench warfare into the mix. The recipe here has worked often in the past, where talent is forged with experience for several years until karma plays its hand and brings together musicians that seem to experience an epiphany and revelation for significant and noteworthy music that makes its indelible and eternal imprint upon the universal tome of True Rock.
"Old Honey" is a perfect example of the quiet fury of their music as it builds from low intensity to an unyielding guitar encased by the onslaught of the drums beating out a path and a rhythm that always hits its mark in perfect unison with the merciless and malleable bass. It is a psychedelic journey of intrepid emanation and power, laying bare the soul of those who listen just as it had done to those that played, delivered with the wet thump of bloodletting vocals that twist the visceral and primal core held subservient to its almost hypnotic power.
There is a wonderful and slight distortion of the riffs that ride roughshod over "Lightening Ritual", while the drums play a prominent role out front of the tune and the vocals are harmonized for a powerful, primal effect. "Black Bird" carries out more distorted riffage, powerful in delivery, and accompanied by the wide stance of booming bass and backed again by the heavyweight hooks of champion drums.
"Good Morning Harakiri" has been released for several months and perhaps has flown under the radar of too many lovers of True Rock. This is music at its absolute finest and is now compiled in one place that could very well find its way onto several top music lists of 2012.
Dwellers bring a good, gritty sound to Small Stone’s stable of 1970s rock worshippers. Budgie, Black Sabbath and Jamieson Raid are hardwired in the trio’s DNA. Fans of Iota should know that Dwellers features that band’s Joey Toscano on guitar and vocals, while bassist Dave Jones and drummer Jack Hatsis provide the appropriate amount of thump and crunch for the album’s six slow-burners.
There aren’t any real surprises for fans of the Small Stone label: Toscano has a Layne Staley-styled wail and lays down some Valis-ish phased guitar on lead track ‘Secret Revival’, then some fuzzed out blues work on ‘Black Bird’ and some Sabbath-loving licks on ‘Vultures’.
All in all, a very solid addition to the stoner rock pantheon.
- Andrew Carver
Heavy. That’s the one word I would use to describe ‘Good Morning Harakiri’ recently released by the Dwellers. My understanding is that this is the debut release of this trio hailing from Utah. On guitar and vocals you have Joey Toscano, on bass is Dave Jones, and on drums and vibraphone is Zach Hatsis. This trio manages to produce sounds that are some of the heaviest I’ve heard in a while, and a complete throwback to the psychedelic sounds from long ago.
From the opening of ‘Secret Revival’ you know that this is nothing like what you would normally pick up in the just released section. It starts intensely and just keeps building. What is so refreshing is that it isn’t done with monotonous repetitive notes and riffs. Each measure and verse takes on its own feel. ‘Black Bird’ starts with a more traditional Rock feel with a hook that keeps you listening. Even with the catchy bass line the guitar riffs keep it interesting. ‘Vultures’ while sparse on lyrics is still a pretty interesting listen. You can certainly appreciate the guitar work.
‘Ode To Inversion Layer’ gave me the feeling of distortion that made me feel as if I was inside the looking glass, and combined with the extremely leaden, heavy, deliberate feel it’s what I imagine a bad trip would sound like. Not speaking from personal experience mind you, just my gut reaction to the song. ‘Lightning Ritual’ reminded me almost instantly of the sounds of Mastodon. I mean that as a compliment in case you’re wondering. It’s a perfect blend of heavy and psychedelic that many bands strive for, but so few manage to pull off. The CD closes with ‘Old Honey’ which starts light, in comparison to other tracks, and quickly gets back to the sound that kept me listening.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised with this CD. With just 6 tracks and a total run time of a little over 40 minutes I didn’t find myself wondering when it was going to be finished. I guess the old adage of “Always leave them wanting more” was applied by the trio when deciding just what to put on the CD. This is a good band to check out if, like me, you’re a fan of bands like Mastodon. Good lyrics, good musicianship, and something a bit of the beaten path.
- Melissa Martinez
We don't always get everything that stoner rock specialists Small Stone put out, but the stuff that we do, is always really good. Case in point, this new disc from a trio we'd never heard of before, Dwellers. We're guessing there's some sort of Lovecraftian connotation to their name, though the ropy intestines / psychedelic tentacles in the portrait painting of the band on the cover are presumably referencing the album title too, but not in a gross way. Anyway, Dwellers are a heavy duty stoner metal band from Salt Lake City, with some grunge going on, the vocals in particular definitely giving it a bit of that old school Seattle vibe.
Actually, after getting this Dwellers in, and digging it, we realized that while we hadn't known who they were, we HAD reviewed, and really liked, an album by the singer/guitarist's previous band, Iota, also on Small Stone. These lines from our review of Iota's Tales pretty much also apply to Dwellers' debut: "A mixture of trippy Hawkwindiness and more aggressive blues based hard rockin', sorta like (early) Soundgarden or Skin Yard meets the heavier, more spaced out sounds of Sons Of Otis or UFOmammut. One reason we mention Soundgarden and Skin Yard is 'cause of the grungy melodic vocals, which bear a certain resemblance to that of those bands, but otherwise this is HEAVIER and SPACIER than any Seattle grunge for sure."
So, sweet. Dwellers definitely continue to a large degree in that Iota tradition, these six tracks being damn heavy, fuzzed-out, and graced with the gruff, drawling, grunge-worthy vox of Iota's Joey Toscano (the rhythm section here having their own pedigree, being from the band Subrosa). Maybe in comparison to Iota there's something a little bit earthier, and even bluesier, to these jams, which while they can get lengthy (up to ten minutes), don't orbit quite as far out in space as some of Iota's more extended, alien assaults. Instead, there's a greater focus on, say, Southern-fried slide guitar in service of Dwellers' gritty rockin'. There's slowburn builds ("Old Honey") and catchy groovers ("Lightening Ritual"), Good Morning Harakiri sometimes stompin', and sometimes spaced out, with lots of loping riffage and raspy holler. Maybe imagine a much more succinct Earthless, gone grunge? Dead Meadow channelling some Alice In Chains? CoC circa Blind, playing the blues?? Ah, we're not quite getting it right. But anyway, if you're into the stoner rock stuff and want a good dose (of something a bit different, but still familiar), give this a listen! Recommended.
By the way, we like how this album, despite being on cd, is obviously sequenced with a Side One / Side Two concept in mind, the tracklist on the back cover making this obvious with a gap between tracks 3 and 4.
Well, it’s been a while since we’ve received a real psychedelic, tripped out extravaganza here at CackBlabbath, but that has been more than made up for by the recent arrival of Good Morning Harakiri, the latest release from Salt Lake City natives The Dwellers.
The album opens with Secret Revival, and it is immediately obvious that you are in for something a bit special (or very odd, depending on your point of view). It’s a washed out, trippy mix of Psychedelic slide guitars, a progressive vibe and vocals that are low down in the mix until they become part of, rather than dominating, the band’s ever shifting soundscape.
Black Bird follows on in a similar vein, albeit with a slightly more conventional feel. The rumbling low end is still there and Singer / Guitarist Joey Toscano’ s fuzz drenched guitar is once again very much to the fore but this time the result is much more accessible.
And so it goes on, there is never much in the way of variety from the basic formula, but then again would you expect there to be ? That’s not to say that it’s lacking in variety by any means, the vibe (and the tempo) is pretty much in a constant state of tripped out flux, but it never disrupts the overall flow of the album.
Clocking in at a smidge over 40 minutes in length, Good Morning Harakiri falls on the right side of the leave ‘em wanting more / overstaying it’s welcome divide, and the memorable hooks and fascinating song structures will definitely give this a listening longevity that wouldn’t be there otherwise.
This is something that it’s easy to love. The pervasive down tuned distortion, the heavy stoner vibe and Toscano’s well fitting and measured vocal delivery combining to produce something where an apparent simplicity belies a band who deliver a taut, beautifully balanced, performance.
And 2012 continues to be a fantastic year for music….
SLC Fuzz rockers let it all hang out
The front cover of Dwellers’ second offering features the band sat calmly at a table whilst their innards coil around their legs as if they’ve all gleefully eviscerated themselves, in keeping with the album title. The music contained inside, however, is far more palatable. Dwellers, the combination of Iota guitarist Joey Toscano and Subrosa rhythm section Zach Hastis and Dave Jones, are very much the sum of their parts, so the likes of Secret Revival and Vultures are all superfuzz guitars and swirlingly psychedelic soloing. However, what sets the band apart is that they don’t simply rely on spaced-out sonics, but song structures as well. There’s an early Soundgarden vibe to the likes of Old Honey that is at once pleasing on the ear and helps the band stand out from your run-of-the-mill fuzzed-up psyched- out stoner rockers.
- JERRY EWING
Anyone for some top pedigree stoner grunge from Salt Lake City?
Dwellers are something of a supergroup in the Utah dark rock scene. (OK, I’m not sure such a thing exists but for the sake of this review let’s go with it.) Joey Toscana (guitar and vocals for heavy rock outfit Iota) has teamed up with the rhythm section of dark-folk band Subrosa to form Dwellers. Their debut album Good Morning Harikari was recorded eighteen months ago but is only now getting its release on Small Stone Records. Dwellers’ sound has its roots in the classic power trio format, though they’ve mixed in the grunge rock of Soundgarden, Nirvana et al, then stretched it out into something more progressive and meditative.
It’s very much a guitar player’s album, with only six songs, (though two of those clock in at over the ten minute mark), characterised by lengthy guitar solos, pentatonic riffing, and heavy use of wah-wah. The minimal lyrics tend to feature in the first half of the songs, sometimes re-appearing to towards the end, with each track dominated by ominous crushing riffs, the longer tracks containing less dense second sections where some space is let in and the band stretch out and let the music find it’s own dynamic, building up or releasing the tension as the stoned groove dictates.
Opening track “Secret Revival” typifies this approach with its grungy riffs and thundering bass giving way to a four minute breakdown. Closely followed by “Black Bird” which breaks away from their signature sound with its use of slide guitar. They save the best track till last though, at ten minutes long “Old Honey” is, for my ears, the best offering. Pretty much built around one chord, its mystic appeal enhanced by vibraphone and layered intertwining guitars playing eastern scales. It slowly builds and builds before the guitar solo milks the wah-wah pedal’s battery for all it’s worth.
A special mention also for the album’s cover painting which depicts the trio calmly sitting around a table as if waiting to be served breakfast despite the fact that their intestines are all hanging out and draped onto the table and floor. Unsettling maybe but it’s once seen, never forgotten and doesn’t come across as an afterthought like a lot of modern day sleeve art.
- Duncan Fletcher
(Translated from German to English by Google)
Armed with an overdose of distortion and a knack for biting psycho-blues debut Dwellers in noisigen shallows, where the three members are no strangers. While published mastermind Joey Toscano with Iota 2008 psychedelic fuzz blueprint "valley" via Small Stone, are Dave Jones and Zach Harris as the rhythm section of dark-folk Doomer SubRosa work, write on new songs. "Good Morning Harakiri" is the joint debut and really does sound as if you try to suffocate the crowing of a rooster in Dozer'schen sound carpets.
Toscano's stoner-guitar takes the lead when the trio on a monolith like "Vultures" crashes. So relaxed and bluesy the Zehnminüter begins, he is so freaky with continuous playing time when fall Dwellers first in the desert and finally, a drug-laden jam session similar to overthrow, in sweeping instrumental parts with little solos. By "Lightening ritual" the Americans, however, reveal that a song can work with radio length, if only enough dirt (Toscano's creaky voice) and bottom (the martial grooving rhythm section) accumulates.
It will be exciting especially when the nasty, disturbing note in SubRosa songwriting shines through on Dwellers. Then that bouncer "Old Honey" doomy, aggressive one unusual features that are geared especially uncomfortable one, and pain. Joey Toscano suffers here, spits and gasps, whimpers and scratches. Operates like an emotional "Good Morning Harakiri" in his appearance, playing with depressive gloom as well as with great bluesy rock moments ("Secret Revival"). Dwellers debut with the best essence of swamp and desert, with a subtly unsettling Jam record you must prepare yourself and fight. It's worth it.
- Dawak, DemonicNights
I’m initially swarmed with that warm feeling of being hit with the very much loved sounds of the early 90s, when Secret Revival first takes off. It has a feeling of darkness, although not in a bad type of mood or idea of evil, the music’s feel, the heaviness of it, forces these thoughts into my head. It is, to me, a perfect opener. Slow, heavy, yet not pedestrian enough to get you bored, nor one riff repeating itself over and over like so many songs will do. The guitar tone and simplicity of the song is very appealing, and the voice gives it push that keeps you interested to hear more.
Black Bird is next in line, a more upbeat song, although still with a feeling of darkness. The music is again compelling enough to keep me motivated, especially the guitar, and the tones used. You almost want to say it has a doom feel to it, although certainly not in a Sabbath way. It breakdowns nicely in the middle, stuttering slowly until it builds to a sweet jam, where the band gets locked in a nice place, a different vibe from the beginning. It is like the rising of the sun, where its full glare soaks the sky with brightness and a feeling of wanting to be there, to be inside the song, at this very moment.
Vultures is up next. The music is definitely more classic rock sounding on this song, although it seems like the vocals is still somewhat somber. At just over 10mins, it is, as expected a journey that the Dwellers will be taking us on. Slow agonized singing, over loud fat riffs, like a vulture circling overhead, just waiting for its prey to take its one last breath. When the band hits its groove midway through the song they lock into said groove, led by some exceptional guitar while the bass & drums smash about with ferocious fire, encompassing the urge and touch that one must feel being the dying prey under the eye of the vulture overhead.
Ode to Inversion Layer is somewhat similar to the first two songs. Like a storm on its way, the clouds moving quickly over the horizon. This is dark, and brooding, an eerily return to the early 90s darker bands that once played the landscape. This is not bad by any means. Lightening Ritual follows and with it comes the rain. The shortest song on the record at just over 3 mins, it is easily the quickest sounding song as well. One cannot help but feel the pain in the vocals when the singer screams. I just imagine a decrepit room where the band is playing away, while the rain pounds the roof, and the clouds mass outside, the sky ready to show their ultimate force.
Lastly, we end with Old Honey. Another song in length, close to 10 mins. The past two songs were just setting us up for this number. Slowly, at a crawling like pace, it builds & builds. Fuckin’ A, a wave of music just crashes your senses, loud & destructive; this is no place for the weak. The band hits its peak with this number. Everything comes together, hard, beating your eardrums deaf, but all the while able to soak in the beauty of the music that is being laid at your feet, at your body, to your eyes, in your head. Heavy, yet simple riffing leading you down this path, a path that I am sure the band intended for us to go on. To grab a feeling, whatever feeling you can touch, whatever senses you can hear. It is a fitting end to an absolute beast of an album.
The Dwellers do indeed deliver on their first release for SmallStone. Definitely a band that can only grow. The talent here is obvious. Small Stone has once again snatched up a phenomenal band before anyone else could have. Give credit to Small Stone for knowing what its consumers like. If you’re a fan of heavy music, and SS, then you not only should buy it, but in doing so, giving yourself one of the better records to be heard this year.
- Will Bissonette, Ear Munchies
Blasting from the ashes of Iota comes Dwellers, bearing the debut Good Morning Harakiri. Led by guitarist Joey Toscano, the trio lays down thick, viscous grooves that keep one foot planted in good, green earth and another on Planet X. Driven by Toscano’s roaring riffs and burly bottleneck solos, tunes like “Lightening Ritual” and “Vultures” drill down into the substrata, through the earth’s molten core and out into the galaxy. Toscano’s growl suffices nicely, but it’s really his expansive axe work that’s the raison d’etre of these tracks. Cut to the chase with the blazing “Black Bird,” a distillation of Dwellers’ aesthetic in six-and-a-half minutes of mind-frying, cosmic riffology, and see if you can still walk in a straight line afterwards.
- Michael Toland
Over the last seventeen years Small Stone Records has released a lot of excellent stuff, what makes it not possible for me to draw up a top-ten list, let alone a top-five. I am, however, sure that Iota's 'Tales' (review here) would be placed on the upper third of that imaginery list. For this reason, I was really looking forward to Iota's second album but unfortunately nothing happend. That is really too bad. All the greater was the joy when I received a promo of the debut album of DWELLERS as no one less than Iota main man Joey Toscano (guitar, vocals) is in the lineup of this power trio. Added to this are Zach Hatsis (drums) and Dave Jones (bass) who had previously been in Subrosa.
Firstly I was worried about the musical direction, but my concerns have been blown away within a few minutes. Though DWELLERS are a bit more straight forward, 'Good Morning Harakiri' (what a great title, especially in connection with the tasteful cover artwork) is dominated by Joey Toscano's bluesadelic, mind-bending guitarwork that is drenched in super crispy fuzz. Due to the strong rhythm section, he can really let out steam, so that most of the six tracks are five to ten minutes in length. His voice has similarities with Chris Cornell, but that isn't deliberate because DWELLERS live in their own psychoactive world.
This monster of an album begins with 'Secret Revival' and the explorative character of the music is immediately noticeable. I wouldn't be surprised if that track turns into a free-form jam during a DWELLERS gig, although I can imagine this could happen with each song of this album. 'Vultures' is another great track where the band displays their fantastic feel for dynamics. Joey Toscano's rough yet passionate voice is an integral part of the music as well as the earthy, rousing heaviness. Well, I can safely say that words never truly capture the greatness of 'Good Morning Harakiri', so that I am coming to an end now. For me, this is one of the first highlights in 2012. 'Good Morning Harakiri' is big, it is loud, complex and it pulls no punches. Please, buy before you die.
Something about Dwellers sounds oddly familiar, but it's hard to put your finger on it until the Salt Lake City group's debut, Good Morning Harakiri, really gets a head of steam going. Could it be the presence of previously known personages like former Iota vocalist/guitarist Joey Toscano, or Sub Rosa alums Dave Jones (bass) and Zach Hatsis (drums)? Nah, too obscure all around, so it's gotta be the neo-psych qualities of these songs, which at different times recall everyone from Dead Meadow, to Truly, to SST-era Soundgarden. You know what we're talking about: that period when post-punk lysergic vibes ran far deeper than the subliminal metal influences bubbling just beneath the surface, even on more insistent numbers like "Black Bird" and the intriguingly titled "Ode to the Inversion Layer." Toscano's wah-wah-lovin' geetar also conjures up old-school Screaming Trees on the extended jam "Vultures," where the long-term working relationship between his rhythm peers definitely comes in handy -- as it does on the slow-crawling, pent-up tension of closer "Old Honey," featuring echoed vocals in the Sons of Otis wheelhouse. Another cut, the punchy "Lightning Ritual," shows unusual restraint and succinctness, so at least we know Dwellers can accomplish such feats of self-editing, if they so wish. But something tells us to expect an even wackier acid trip next time around, if Good Morning Harakiri turns out to yield a sequel, in contrast with the finality of its title.
- Eduardo Rivadavia
Ever what Soundgarden might sound like after being locked in a room with a batch of pot brownies and a steady diet of Pentagram LPs? I think you know where I’m going with that. Small Stone Record brings forth another winner in their long list of winners. In 2008, Small Stone released a record called “Tales” from a band called Iota that featured vocalist and song writer, Joey Toscano. The Dwellers are the succession of that project. Toscano, along with Zack Hatsis and Dave Jones (both formerly of Subrosa) bring six tracks of heavy melodic fuzzy psychedelic rock goodness. This power trio is performing alongside, Suplecs, Tia Carrera, Dixie Witch and more at the Small Stone Records showcase on March 16th, 2012 at Headhunters. The Dwellers open the show so get their early.
-Melvin Mc Michaels
It’s not often I get a record to review that leaves me slightly stumped as to what to say about it!!! Featuring members of cult bands Iota and Subrosa this debut album offers up 6 lengthy tracks of fuzzy, psyched out hard rock that sit on the edges of Small Stone’s usual good time rock and roll and imbues it with an “out there” vibe more consistent with bands such as Tia Carrera. Why am I struggling to say anything about it? Well, on the one hand this is clearly a fine album but at the same time isn’t an album that grabs me by the short and curlies and pulls me in tight to breathe fetid whiskey fumes in my face…and as perverse as it may sound I kind of want that!!!
Opening track “Secret Revival” is a decent enough introduction. The “thundering, monumental low end” referred to in their bio is certainly present and guitarist Joey Toscano has a neat line in fuzzy, spacey riffing. Things do start to raise the heat on next track “Black Bird” however as the cosmic vibe is brought down to earth with a dirty southern style blues guitar complete with some nifty slide work and a gutsy vocal from Toscano. This down home “ribs and wings” vibe is carried forward into the next tune, “Vultures” which exhibits an almost Black keys style influence in the hazy sliding riff. At a shade over 10 minutes, however, it becomes evident that Dwellers could maybe use a little more focus in their approach to song writing. Some of the more rambling sections of songs would benefit from some judicious editing. Personally I would rather hear 10 shorter, more concise songs that highlight the band’s flair for writing some killer dirty, heavy blues riffs than wading through some of the more esoteric and formless passages that see my mind a driftin’!!!
“Ode To Inversion Layer”, despite the odd title that may hint at another rambling work out, is actually one of the shorter tunes on offer here and is a lovely dark, demonic blues with Toscano’s gruff howl. This track is stained with the mud of the delta and reeks of the sweat of some New Orleans basement dive. More of this please guys!!! Similarly “Lightening Ritual” is a killer, three and a half minute stomper that shows the band can lay down a thick and tasty groove. It is not without hints of C.O.C’s “Deliverance” album immersed in some dark voodoo blues.
Finally “Old Honey” is another lengthy slow burner that builds gradually and rolls along on a snaking riff. Dark, forbidding psychedelia lies at the heart of this song topped off by Toscano’s throaty roar. At close to ten minutes though it does test the patience a tad.
I do like this album more with repeated listens and, while the albums that grow on you tend to be the ones that stay with you longer, in today’s “quick fix”, ADHD driven society those albums that don’t grab you immediately don’t often get their chance to unfold themselves before the next slab of noise rolls along the conveyor belt to surpass it. There’s no doubt this is a fine album, but not a great one from a band that have a truly magnificent album lurking within them. I’ll certainly be keeping my eyes and ears open for album number two!!!
- Ollie Stygall
How does one make sonic magic? Well, start with a good production and catchy song writing and then proceed with an excellent rhythm section, finally, top all this off with a collection of dazzling riffs, solos and a fine vocal performance. All this considered I believe that Dwellers have concocted quite the musical brew.
At first glance of the band name, I was convinced I was about to go on a dark journey, but the strange, yet effective, cover had me confused as to the musical style. Cutting to the chase, Dwellers play hard rock, in their mix is a few nods to the doom and the stoner realms of things, but over all, hard rock is their genre and they spice things up nicely with some southern twang and grunge fuzziness.
Good Morning Hara-kiri opens up with Secret Revival, the opening riff had me raising an eyebrow due to its rather Nirvana inspired strumming, but soon after, the song opens up into a bass and drum fueled verse section that had me shamelessly rocking out. Soon the vocals kick in, and they fit in perfectly with the rest of the music. They are gruff when they need to be, and cleaner when most suitable, all in the all, the vocals are handled nicely through out the album. Secret Revival ends with a nice doom laden section that takes us into the next track.
Black Bird is consistently good as Secret Revival. Thrown into the mix are a little slide guitar and some terrific guitar work. It is always a good sign when I cannot seem to focus on what performance to listen to. Dwellers had me concentrating on each part separately; one minute I would be listening to the wonderfully tight drum fills, next the guitars, then the bass and so on. Black Bird not only cements the southern rock feel, but also the member’s musical competence.
Vultures had me slightly nervous. How does a band like this pull of an eleven-minute song? Dwellers do it just fine. Vultures never felt long for the sake of being long. It begins with another hard rock anthem that leads into an extended jam, laced with a little psychedelia for good measure. Behind this jam the bass and drums go at it like frantic lovers…Vultures is certainly recommended listening.
Ode to the Inversion Layer changes the pace up with a moody intro and then breaks back into what is expected: more great performances from the band. The vocals here are particularly strong, as is the guitar, which delivers hook after hook.
Lightning Ritual has a particular spring in its step and some nice Sabbathian riffing. This number has the standard rock song length and structure, which by no mean makes it a poor song; just rather, ordinary compared to the rest, especial the closing track.
Old Honey is a brilliant closer. It begins on an eerie tone with minimal drumming and clean, reverb heavy guitar that builds up into a great heavy mass of a riff that had me picturing voodoo rituals. Old Honey is an epic for sure; at nearly ten minutes, you had better bet that Dwellers has finely structured it with great riffs, excellent texturing and moments of a reflective quality.
Overall, Dweller’s Good Morning Hara-kiri is a necessary listen. The only fault I can hear in this release would be from matter of taste. Nevertheless, regardless of the obvious fact that people do not see eye to eye in everything, one thing I think every one (honest people at least) will note, is that this three piece can play their instruments and craft some nicely structured songs. I am glad to say that my first review of the new year is a winner. 10/10
Well, it turns out that Peace, and Other Horrors, the four-song EP Dwellers put out last year, was an experimental little project because there’s not much folksy, acoustic Americana Gothic to be found on their debut full-length, Good Morning Harakiri. Although, to be fair, Good Morning Harakiri does contain a good deal of slide guitar, but it’s used as a vehicle for delivering some grungy psych-blues instead. I suppose the idea behind this one is that the six songs included here are the musical equivalent of splitting yourself open and spilling your guts all over the place, and if that’s the case, this Salt Lake City trio (comprised of Iota and Subrosa members) has made one fine mess. While it is atmospheric, exotic, and trippy at times, Good Morning Harakiri is, ultimately, blessedly doomed, absolutely heavy, and full of Southern-fried muscle, and if Gideon Smith was to ever rip through a set of songs from Soundgarden’s Ultramega OK in Earth’s jam room, this is what it would sound like. Forget what it does to your insides - this ritual rock rattles your goddamn bones.
- Jeff Warren
Do not forget that Japanese manners this act is the ultimate act of restoring honor and dignity. You, however, if you feel obviously over stressed, bit confused, equally frustrated, then you have many chances to tune the content of the displayed traffic. As you know the profile of the company issuing it, you can quite easily guess what it is. The trio in this second album combines the stoner, the deranged blues, psychedelic sounds, has consistently sound American. Without taking up the speeds, play with the slowness of tired, speak freely, and when they decide to pull their thoughts a little more in length, even then weary, either because they have intensity or atmospheric as it is what you give. The vocals are consistently wild, skinned, and fittingly expressive of all the suffering that seems inspiring. Good job, raises its creators as honest.
Μην ξεχνάτε ότι για τα ιαπωνικά ήθη η συγκεκριμένη πράξη αποτελεί την ύστατη πράξη αποκατάστασης της τιμής και της αξιοπρέπειας. Εσείς πάντως, αν νιώθετε ζορισμένοι, κομματάκι μπερδεμένοι, άλλο τόσο απογοητευμένοι, τότε έχετε πολλές πιθανότητες να συντονιστείτε με το περιεχόμενο της παρουσιαζόμενης κυκλοφορίας. Καθώς γνωρίζετε το προφίλ της εταιρείας που το εκδίδει, μπορείτε σχετικά εύκολα να υποθέσετε περί τίνος πρόκειται. Το τρίο στο δεύτερο αυτό άλμπουμ του συνδυάζει το stoner, τα διαταραγμένα blues, ακούγεται ψυχεδελικό, διαθέτει σταθερά αμερικανικό ήχο. Χωρίς να πιάνουν τις μεγάλες ταχύτητες, παίζουν με τη βραδύτητα του ταλαιπωρημένου, εκφράζονται ελεύθερα, και όταν αποφασίζουν να τραβήξουν τους συλλογισμούς τους λίγο παραπάνω σε διάρκεια, ούτε τότε κουράζουν, είτε επειδή έχουν ένταση είτε επειδή είναι ατμοσφαιρικό αυτό που δίνουν. Τα φωνητικά τους είναι σταθερά άγρια, γδαρμένα, αλλά και ταιριαστά, εκφραστικά της όλης οδύνης που μάλλον τα εμπνέει. Ωραία δουλειά, προβάλλει τους δημιουργούς της ως ειλικρινείς.
Also written as “seppuku,” the traditional Japanese practice of harakiri is a form of samurai ritual suicide wherein one plunges a short blade into one’s own belly and slices the blade from left to right. A second person stands behind with a sword and, at a previously-agreed-upon time after the person has disemboweled himself, strikes a decapitating blow. How the notion came to be incorporated with the debut full-length from Salt Lake City, Utah, heavy trio Dwellers, I don’t know, but if there’s some tie in with the theme of “spilling one’s guts,” I’d believe it. Good Morning Harakiri (Small Stone) rocks heavy and naturally for its vinyl-ready 41-minute duration, and is not without its sense of ritual. The band, which unites guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano of Iota with the same rhythm section that propelled SubRosa’s excellent 2011 offering, No Help for the Mighty Ones – that being bassist Dave Jones and drummer Zach Hatsis – is surprisingly assured in its approach for Good Morning Harakiri being the first album, and the six tracks play out with an organic, blues-based steadiness offset by genre-straddling excursions into psychedelia and doom.
In that way, Good Morning Harakiri is a fitting follow-up to Iota’s excellent 2008 Small Stone debut and swansong, Tales, which melded heavy and space rock together seamlessly and added psychedelic flourish even in Toscano’s vocals, which were melodic echoes from the deep reaches of the Andy Patterson mix (the label’s go-to knob-twiddler, Benny Grotto, also got a word in that regard). Patterson, who also drummed in Iota, handled production for Dwellers (he also did the SubRosa), and dials back that echo somewhat on Toscano’s singing, bringing him forward more early in the album so that, aside from closer “Old Honey,” the singing sounds more confident. And as much as one can read Good Morning Harakiri as an extension of some of Iota’s ideas – Toscano presumably being at the fore creatively in both bands adds to the validity of that read – there’s no discounting the fluidity and the depth of Jones’ and Hatsis’ contributions. Not only do they hold down the extended side A and B closers “Vultures” (10:12) and the aforementioned “Old Honey” (9:53) but they do so with range and personality befitting players well accustomed to working with each other. Also, rather than let Toscano range, so that it’s melody on one side and rhythm on another, with Dwellers, it’s the guitar, bass and drums working together as a solid unit, which is the power trio ideal, so that although every cut on Good Morning Harakiri begins with guitar, the album never strays too far in its indulgences.
Rather, it keeps somewhat to the sort of duality Iota showed in songwriting on Tales, balancing shorter, more straightforward material against longer pieces. With the exception again of “Old Honey,” the songs on Good Morning Harakiri are less space-oriented (and certainly less space-thematic), and though opener “Secret Revival” sets a bruising course after its crisply-strummed intro, the overall affect is more like an expansion on Facelift-era Alice in Chains, particularly given the tone of Toscano’s vocals. Hatsis’ kick is prominent but not dominating, and the already-considerable fuzz in Toscano’s guitar is given low-end boost by Jones on bass, which is smoothly toned and rich. Still, the song is notable in comparison to “New Mantis,” which opened Tales, for the intensity it doesn’t have. Where that song and “We are the Yithians” seemed almost in a rush get through themselves, both “Secret Revival” and “Black Bird,” which follows, replace that intensity with a firm grasp on a bluesy approach, and in the case of the latter, dead-on grooving stomp to match a semi-Southern riff. Not to belabor the point, but Good Morning Harakiri’s clear LP-minded presentation (that is, the two distinct sides that come through even on a CD or digital listen) marks another departure from Iota’s method, which bunched its longer songs together in a linear flow. Both work, but Dwellers shows more diversity in songwriting, so that while “Black Bird” veers into psychedelic guitar layering in its second half, “Vultures” is out of place neither with that nor the verses and chorus preceding, despite being longer and providing more room to jam.
That jam comprises pretty much everything after the midpoint of “Vultures,” and though Hatsis and Jones bring a clear-mindedness to the rhythms, I still wish for the purposes of structure that the chorus in the first half could have been revived at the end as a cap for side A. Instead, Toscano leads Dwellers with an extended solo into a slowdown of the central rhythmic figure and that’s how the track concludes. It’s a minor gripe, but in a way, it feels like Dwellers abandon the ideas they presented just a few minutes prior, and they were good ideas, and where they could have imbued “Vulture” with a sense of construction, they choose the admittedly more naturalistic approach of just letting it go. Toscano’s solo rages, so I can’t argue, and as side B opens with highlight cut “Ode to Inversion Layer,” any fix for structure is satisfied in the revival of the record’s earlier swampy drive. Likewise to Toscano’s vocals, which, as he repeats the lines, “I am not here/I’m dust and bones,” remind their most of Layne Staley and give Good Morning Harakiri its most instantly retainable hook. He’s farther back in the mix, and more echoed than on “Secret Revival” or “Black Bird,” which sets the tone for some of the second half of the album’s more psychedelic elements, but still sounds sure of himself in his singing. And where “Vulture” didn’t, “Ode to Inversion Layer” does revive its chorus following a solo break – at least musically – which proves enough to make the track a standout among its surroundings.
“Lightening Ritual” is both the shortest and most straightforward song on Good Morning Harakiri, and reminds some of Tales’ bluesier stretches, however bolstered it is – and it is – by the pulse of Hatsis’ kick. It is as close as Dwellers come to basic riff rock, and the heavy-landing start-stop of the second-half bridge to the final chorus justifies its position as a late-arriving anchor for the album, especially leading into “Old Honey,” which immediately communicates its more psychedelic feel with vibraphone (Hatsis) and warm bass rumbling beneath a moody and subdued vocal from Toscano. A short build ensues that brings slower-paced riffing a sense of spaced-out grandeur the rest of Good Morning Harakiri seemed to want to avoid. It’s well placed where it is, long after proper context is established, so that Toscano’s echoing yells weaving through the mass of guitar and bass seem to be a cosmic ebb and flow coming from the proverbial “somewhere else” to arrive at the ear. Expectedly, “Old Honey” has its jam, following a purposefully repetitive guitar lead with bass-propelled atmospherics that are both dark and engaging. The payoff arrives announced by a ride-cymbal wash and two tom thuds from Hatsis at 7:09, and is potent enough to act as culmination of Good Morning Harakiri as a whole. One imagines the lurching groove piped through a P.A. louder than god as a fitting apex, but even on a stereo the energy and vibe is there as the band hits their final crashes and thumps to their close.
As someone who still revisits Tales periodically to be ensnared in its balance of space and heavy rock, hearing those elements come forward again on “Old Honey” is like a new letter from an old friend, but Dwellers work quickly on Good Morning Harakiri to establish that although Toscano plays a prominent role in both bands, this is a different trio than was Iota, with different goals for sound and a distinct approach. For what it’s worth, I can see greater potential for future development in Dwellers, whose avenues for exploration of the blues, spaced jamming and heavy riffing seem wide open, and if I was going to mourn the loss of Iota, Good Morning Harakiri more or less disembowels that impulse. As Toscano, Jones and Hatsis grow as a unit, doubtless too their sonic palette will expand as well, and given what comes through on these six tracks, that potential isn’t worth any trade that might or might not be on offer. Recommended without reservation both to those who experienced Iota and those who didn’t.
- H.P. Taskmaster
Back in 2008, Small Stone Records released an album called Tales by a band called Iota. It was a great album that I didn’t discover until early 2011. Disappointed that there was going to be no followup, I quickly discovered The Dwellers main song writer and vocalist Joey Toscano. The demo that the band had posted to their Facebook page was damn good and I couldn’t wait to hear more. It’ was a very bluesy sounding song although to me, it didn’t sound like an Iota song. I was ok with that though.
It turns out that you can probably consider Good Morning Harakiri an unofficial followup to Tales. Due to Mr. Toscano’s voice and song writing, a lot of the personality from Iota are present in The Dwellers sound. Zach Hatsis and Dave Jones make up the rest of the band. They were previously in a doom band called Subrosa. The three are no strangers to making good music. Combine the 3 together and you have one hell of a lineup and one hell of an album. The opening track to Good Morning Harakiri, “Secret Revival” sounds like a doomy Soundgarden song to me. It’s heavy and crushing riffs get your attention. The heavy sound, combined with lots of psychedelic slide guitar, crushing riffs, doomy overtones, a warm fuzzy sound and melodic vocals round up for a huge album. I was privileged enough to hear an unmastered copy of the album last month and I knew right then and there, this album was going to rock your nuts off.
Rumors, prophets and nutcases claim that the world is going to end in 2012. I think it’s probably going to come true but not because the ancient Mayans didn’t have time to finish their calendars, it’s because the Dwellers have released such a huge and epic album. 2012 is going to start off right and proper and The Dwellers are going to take charge and lead the pack. 2012 isn’t going to end with a bang but rather start with one. It’s early but this album will most likely end up in my top 20 of 2012 list. Bold I know, but, you’ll believe me once you hear it. Good Morning Harakiri is set for official release March 13,th 2012 although you can score a copy on iTunes right now. Knowing Small Stone Records, the CD will be available very shortly.
Good Morning Harakiri is the latest release from the magnificent Small Stone Records, and while it has the sludge and the drone to fit in, this is more Alice in Chains than Black Sabbath. The tunes are there, buried beneath a ton of tar, and the harmonies are impressive, though this isn’t a record to cheer you up on a bad day.
- Brett Callwood