Produced by Benjamin Grotto and Lee Stuart.
Engineers: Bob Pantella, Lou Gorra, Paul Wiegand, Craig Riggs and Benjamin Grotto.
Original tracking at Redline Archiving Ocean, NJ.
Additional Recording & Mixing at Mad Oak - Allston, MA.
Mastered by Chris Gooseman at Solid Sound & Baseline Audio Ann Arbor, MI.
Artwork by Mark Dancey.
Atmosphere by Evan
All songs written by Lee Stuart & A Thousand Knives of Fire
Reviews for The Last Train to Scornsville...
Leicester Bangs (UK)
“The Last Train to Scornsville”, debut release from A Thousand Knives of Fire is an album of two parts and many surprises. Back in the days of vinyl this would have had a song side and an instrumental side, and it is the five tracks that make up the latter that could well challenge Small Stone’s natural listenership. As you’d expect from a project led by Halfway to Gone frontman Lee Stuart and Raging Slab / Monster Magnet drummer Bob Pantella there’s some tasty rock and roll, at least to begin with. “Hey Buddy” and “She’s Yours” are economical, driven and high energy, “Nothing in Your Life’s for Free” is underwritten by southern muscle, and the title track offers up a slab of pounding sludgecore. If you listen carefully to “Leeds County Devil” you could find yourself present at the birth of “metalabilly”, where hidden behind the fuzzed up guitars and twin drum pounding beats you should hear something distinctly way out west. With track seven and the opening of a four-section instrumental suite, however, all that changes, as we move from doomy paranoid opener “Yeah Part 2” through the avant-garde “Thanks for Your Negeven” and the claustrophobic “Hold Your Nose” to “Yeah Part 1”, a cosmic “Stone(r) Fox Chase” for our time. When you think it’s all over, and after a calculated two minute wait, “The Day After” puts us gently to bed with a short sequence of acoustic noodling which if nothing else teaches us to expect the unexpected.November 24th, 2008www.leicesterbangs.co.uk
- Neil B
What can I say, I dig this CD. It has such a cool vibe and some great songs. The band really mixes it all up well. Instrumental freakout stuff (Hold your Nose), Doomy stuff (Yeah Part 2), riff rock with harmonica solo (Last Train to Scornsville), etc. The band is lead by Lee Stuart (Halfway to Gone). He writes all the songs, sings and plays the guitar. He is backed up by a solid band including Bob Pantella from Monster Magnet (it was recorded in his studio, I believe). Anyway, a great debut CD with a lot of variety and a number of ass kickin' tracks.September, 2008www.aural-innovations.com
- Scott Heller
Sometimes this shit just writes itself, ‘cause when a band consists of ex-Halfway to Gone, Monster Magnet, and Raging Slab mofos, and the album is released on Small Stone, I don’t need to go into great detail about the sludge and drugs, and my work is pretty much done. Yet, I’d be a lazy son-of-a-bitch if I didn’t at least tell you that Last Train to Scornsville is also a swampy mess of southern boogie and reminds me a lot of the heavy blooze Zakk Wylde used to spit out with his old band Pride and Glory. And ATKOF could very well be from Baton Rouge instead of New Jersey, but I suppose both make sense. Come to think of it, ATKOF are pretty much like the grilled catfish I ate at Fishbones the other night while I was in Detroit. See, I told you this shit just writes itself.May, 2008www.sleazegrinder.com
The Ripple Effect
For their Small Stone debut disc, A Thousand Knives of Fire actually released two albums on the same disc. Titled side one and side two, The Last Train to Scornsville finds a band exploring two sides of their kick ass muse. Side One, a ten stick of dynamite blast of roaring seventies metal riffs, wrapped up in some serious stoner grove. "One Eyed Jack," is about as instantly catchy as the Bubonic plague, with an intro riff guaranteed to blister your brain. "Hey, Buddy," has got to be a lost track by some forgotten '70's master, the riff is that crushing. I need to go buy a '79 Camero just so I can cruise Mainstreet with this beast blaring from my Jensen Tri-axels. The chicks will love me (won't they?).
Side Two, switches brain hemispheres. After the loosely structured "Last Train to Scornsville," the rest of the side finds the boys chasing the marijuna smoke through a whole series of extended bottom heavy jams, roughly broken up into separate song titles. The riffs are heavy, the exploration is deep, the smoke is thick. This is a mindtrip of stoner metal. Lava lamp not included.
- Racer XJuly 14th, 2008http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com
The only thing about A Thousand Knives of Fire that's over-the-top is their name; in all other respects, this group of New Jersey stoner rock veterans likes to keep things simple and their southern-tinged hard rock as grounded as that packed dirt parking lot, outside your nearest watering hole. In fact, the quintet's debut album, The Last Train to Scornsville, rocks so earnestly and unassumingly, that listeners looking strictly for eye-catching fireworks will surely slip into a coma -- all the better for more patient and appreciative patrons who can then rest a cold one on their heads. Getting right down to business, opening shot, "One Eyed Jack," settles quickly on a mid-paced groove and is perfectly content to sit there; while subsequent offerings like "Hey Buddy" and "Nothing in Life's for Free" barely break a sweat as they roll along to their effortless slow blues. Taking things up a notch, the amusingly sardonic "She's Yours" matches heightened heavy rock intensity to its biting words, and album standout, "Leeds County Devil," riffs and raffs its way down HWY 95, burning rubber as it goes. Its lyrics may center ‘round a flat tire, but the song itself never downshifts once, instead rocking up to and through a glorious southern fried guitar solo. Retro-rock purists to a man, A Thousand Knives of Fire also insist on splitting up the album into two distinct sides (whether you're listening to it on vinyl or not), and with good reason since side B is clearly the more experimental of the two. After cruising past the title track's unsurprising slow-burning template, the band embarks upon a string of doom-laden instrumentals in "The Day After," "Yeah Part 1 & 2", and the feedback fest, "Hold Your Nose," sandwiched in between. For front man Lee Stuart, these jams afford a chance to whoop it up a bit (literally, hear him scream "Woo-hoop!") and blow on his harmonica while his band mates' pile on their resoundingly sludgy riffs. And for fans of Halfway to Gone and other no-fuss hard rock bands of the ‘00s, A Thousand Knives of Fire represent the passing of a stylistic torch, which, although hardly the fanciest or most extravagant in the night, bears carrying forth nonetheless.
- Eduardo RivadaviaJune 10th, 2008www.allmusic.com
Daredevil Records (Germany)
HALFWAY TO GONE are gone, former guitarplayer Lee Stuart and Bob Pantella (MONSTER MAGENT, RAGING SLAB) on drums teamed up to deliver and not unequal dose of Rock. Two other folks joined them along the way (Taj Briggles and Paul Wiegand) and out of New Jersey the "Gospel of Rock“ is preached.
ONE EYED JACK is the swinging, powerhouse opening a kick ass Rock album needs, the vocals are not to classy but ok, LEEDS COUNTY DEVIL is a nice uptempo track with a nice Punk drive, groove is the best way to describe HEY BUDDY. SHE'S YOURS lets the vocals sound very distant but the drive of the track is infectious, mellow and bluesy is the way of NOTHING IN LIFE'S FOR FREE. Stoner vibes lift up LAST TRAIN TO SCRONSVILLE along with a bit of the mouthharp.
From that point on it goes the instrumental way, slow is YEAH PART 2, HOLD YOUR NOSE is a pure feedback thing, heavy and not to fast paced played is YEAH PART 1 and the last THE DAY AFTER is mouthharp filled and only accompanied by screams.
If they would have recorded more tracks with vocals the result might have been a bit more homogenic (not in the sexual way).
- Thomas Schubert
May 28th, 2008www.daredevilrecords.de
It's a long time since we heard something new from New Jersey's Halfway To Gone. One of the reasons for that break could be ATKOF, because behind this euphoniously name hide the two HTG members Lee Stuart (guitar/vocals) and Dan Gollin (drums), who is sharing the place behind the skins with Bob Pantella (Raging Slab/ Monster Magnet). By the way, Lee Stuart and Bob Pantella are the originators of this group. Even if this is a disc, the album is divided into side 1 and side 2, what is not only a nice joke, but it's really reasonable. The first side equates to what one would expect from this band, namely top-notch heavy rock 'n' roll with a strong southern rock influence. "Hey Buddy" convinced me with a heavy cool groove and in "She's Yours" it seems that Pete Wells (Buffalo/ Rose Tattoo) is raised from the dead and visited the band in the studio. Lee Stuart isn't the best singer under the sun, but his cool and snotty vocals fit perfectly to this sound as in the relaxed "Nothing In Life's For Free".
If necessary the bottleneck will be unpacked to refine some of the songs with slide guitar. Especially when Lee Stuart is playing the harmonica and the blues is flowing out of the speakers I love this band as for example in "Yeah Part 1", which reminds me also to Karma To Burn. The so-called side 2 is much harder to digest, because there ATKOF show their filthy, doom-drenched side and the title-song is overwhelming the listener with heavy Black Sabbathian grooves. After that the band completely renounces the vocals and start to focus their attention on merciless doom-driven riffing and feedback noise. This second side is making the album more interesting, so that you can't describe it as the next typical heavy southern rock 'n' roll album. The brilliant cover artwork of Mark Dancey is also an evidence for the macabre humor of ATKOF, which become manifest in some of their songs. At least, an earthy and fat production is making this album complete and so we have the next really good release from Small Stone Records in 2008.
- KKMay 25th, 2008www.cosmiclava.com
Lee Stuart's been around the proverbial block, at least in the New Jersey heavy rock scene. He originally swung his ax for the late, lamented Solarized before becoming a mainstay in riff rock power trio Halfway to Gone. HTG being a part-time proposition these days, Stuart apparently needs something to keep him out of jail, so now he cranks the amps in A Thousand Knives of Fire, the first project for which he takes firm command. Though it may be Stuart's personal vision, ATKoF is by no means a radical departure from HTG's Southern-fried stoner metal. On Last Train to Scornsville, ya got yer psylocibinized Sabbath trip ("Hold Your Nose"), yer shitkickin' two-stomp ("Leeds County Devil"), yer blues-bustin' bruiser ("Hey Buddy") and plenty of bad attitudinal bashers ("One Eyed Jack," "She's Yours," "Nothing in Life's For Free," the title cruncher). Stuart won't win a blowjob from Paula Abdul over his singing, but he gets the job done, and the point is his massive-toned, crunch-and-burn Les Paul abuse anyway. The record starts to drift towards the end, but for the most part this is no-muss/no-fuss, meat-and-potatoes brain poundage. It don't come much better.
- Michael TolandMay 17th, 2008www.sonicruin.com
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll happily admit that I’m friends with these Jersey boys, that I’ve done shows with them and that I’ve been acquainted with most of the songs on their debut for well over a year now, so it’s not just like this thing popped onto my desk and I’m giving it ink because they’re a Small Stone band and I dig writing about stoner rock. I’ve seen Stu, Taj and Danny (and guitarist Paul Wiegand until he left the band after the record was done) play more shows than I can remember, and when I picked up Last Train To Scornsville in Austin at the Small Stone SXSW showcase, I happily put money down for it knowing that I was supporting both band and label. Just felt it needed to be said. With that out of the way, much of the album’s story is evident from the admittedly sparse liner notes. Phrases like “Original tracked at” and “Additional Recording & Mixing at” in the credits, not to mention two drummers (Dan Gollin and Bob Pantella) a list of engineers five people long, give the impression that perhaps the process whereby the album came about was not so freewheeling as the music recorded. And it’s true, this album was years in the making. Listening to it now, you can hear that parts were tracked in different studios—different guitar and drum sounds are evident song-by-song, and the rougher-edge guitars on “Leeds County Devil” are immediately followed by the smoother tones of the catchy-as-hell “Hey Buddy” and “She’s Yours.” Fortunately the band’s sound is just enough Southern/Skynyrd-influenced (see “Nothing In Life’s For Free”) and still stoned-out to work in either context, though with the songs next to each other as they inherently are on an album, it does lead to some choppiness. The quality of the songwriting shines through nonetheless, and though Halfway To Gone comparisons are inevitable given Lee “Stu” Stuart, Paul and Danny’s tenure in that band, they’re barely appropriate, as this really is Stu’s stepping out as a writer and a guitarist. The songs are straightforward, no-frills rock tunes and leave little to desire, particularly in terms of the guitar work. Riffs by Velcro and well-reverbed solos and leads stand out as treats on the earlier songs and become even more of a focus later on. Though a CD, Last Train is divided into “Side One” and “Side Two” in the tradition of the rock classics, and though it begins with the harmonica-infused title track—on which the band sounds perhaps most alive and strongest of all, with Taj Briggles’ bass more present in the mix and the sound fuller overall because of it—the latter half quickly morphs into the instrumental chicanery of “Yeah Part 2/Thanks For Negeven” (divided into two tracks on the CD itself but listed as one, with “Thanks” being three and a half minutes of solid feedback) “Hold Your Nose” and “Yeah Part 1,” where Stu & Co. freely explore their roots in both classic riff-based rock and modern grooves. Curious closer “The Day After” smacks of being an inside joke, as it’s basically comedown guitar nose and random tones placed for an eerie effect that, were you the guy listening to this record late at night, stoned with your headphones on, would probably provide a decent couple of minutes of freaking out. A Thousand Knives Of Fire are at their best when they’re delivering no-bullshit guitar-led rock and roll, and that’s exactly the order of the day on Last Train To Scornsville. Sonic inconsistencies aside, the songs here speak of a talent both in the writing and playing that is undeniable, and with this debut, ATKOF assert their position as one of the best rock bands in Jersey. – JJ Koczan
April 16, 2008www.theaquarian.com
The Cutting Edge
All though they claim to be "born in the northland" as opening track "One Eyed Jack" bellows, clearly A Thousand Knives of Fire are more southern than alligator slime. Two thirds of Jersey's Halfway To Gone (HTG) including guitarist Lee Stuart and drummer Dan Gollin make up this new endeavor with backup sticksman Bob Pantella (Monster Magnet, Raging Slab), bassist Taj Briggles and second guitarist Paul Wiegand. On hiatus from HTG the guts of this band are looking for a '70s retro vehicle to feed the almighty riff demons. As the record gets going it's Nugent-meets-Skynyrd where layers of fuzz rumble under hollow body thunder. Stuart's voice, though not distinctly charismatic, gets the job done as he tells the tale of the Jersey devil in "Leeds County Devil." Funking it up is the Clutch-like thumper "Hey Buddy" that gallops head long into a Dixie-fried "She's Yours." Slowing it down is the pile driving groover "Nothing In Life's For Free" – a sonic five minute Sabbath baked masterpiece that sounds oh, so sweet fully cranked.
Old school to the core, the band separates the disc into side one and side two. Side two makes a quick change into the wooly stoner "The Last Train to Scornsville," a story about an ex-con lost in hobo hell with some serious low-fi solo leads and a wicked-ass harp bleeding through. Then we drift into a sludgy doom-filled instrumental "Yeah Part 2/ Thanks For Negeven" and spaced-out feedback of "Hold Your Nose" as the listener sinks into a thick musical plasma of drone only to be saved at the last minute by the extended "Yeah Part 1." Picking up a bit of COC "The Day After" proves less experimental sticking to a bass line and allowing the guitar to embrace the melody. The harp and the occasional banshee yell add texture to the seven-minute plus instrumental. An extended "Untitled" track of noodleing, head tripping meandering and down-tuning leaves us in an ethereal quasi-meditative state.
- Todd K SmithApril, 2008 Issue #65www.cuttingedgerocks.com
Anybody who thinks that A Thousand Knives of Fire are simply southern rock cliché artists or Halfway to Gone copyists obviously hasn’t listened to ‘The Last Train to Scornsville’ in its entirety. Sure ATKOF play kickass hard southern riff metal, but they go far beyond that well-mapped territory when the mood takes them, and any lover of THE RIFF (and what sane person isn’t?) would do well to check ‘em out.
A Thousand Knives of Fire rises from the still-warm, permanently on hiatus corpse of New Jersey southern riff magnates Halfway to Gone, even sharing members. The only one who hasn’t made the transition is HTG bassist Lou Gorra, whom the keen-eyed will note plays a role on ‘Scornsville’ as an engineer. I swear I hear him on the disc as well, but that may be just wishful thinking…..Anyway, the Knives dudes share Halfway’s affinity for heavy southern riffing, even inserting the odd instrumental into the affair, as HTG was wont to do. The ‘Scornsville’ CD is conveniently divided into Side One and Side Two, although these designations would clearly be better suited to a vinyl release. Side One is the boozy inheritor of Halway to Gone’s dirty, stomping southern sound. Guitar teacher and fret wizard Lee Stuart really shines, and his vocals, though strained at times, are not at all shabby. Monster Magnet’s Bob Pantella plays some of the drums, and Dan Gollin gets the rest.
If you think you’ve heard it before, you have. After all, heavy southern rock shares certain recognizable elements, or you’d have to call it something else, wouldn’t you? And this is heavy southern rock, make no mistake. At least the first part of it is, and A Thousand Knives of Fire isn’t afraid to just dive right in. But to these ears the most interesting part of the proceedings is Side 2, which has enough in common with Side 1 to pair nicely with it, but is much more experimental. ATKOF pushes things into a kind of riffing blues doom arena, complete with trudging tempos and the occasional scream, which bears only a passing resemblance to the Honkys and Dixie Witches of the world, who spring so readily to mind when listening to Side 1. This is the kind of tuneage that goes better with dirty narcotics than cheap beer and whiskey shooters.
This is the sound of a band of excellent players forming their own identity. They ply familiar grooves, but are willing to takes risks, too. I just hope they make it to a venue within a hundred miles of this computer, because one thing’s for sure: these guys will kick monstrous booty live.
-Kevin McHugh April 21, 2008www.hellridemusic.com
Lords Of Metal (The Netherlands)
Sometimes one may ask oneself if there are not a few too many releases in the so-called stoner scene. In the past a label like Small Stone Records could often surprise me with amazing releases of Five Horse Johnson or Novadriver but nowadays the quality of their releases is pretty inconstant. Take for instance the latest release of A Thousand Knives Of Fire with the guitar player of Halfway and former Raging Slab / Monster Magnet drummer Bob Pantella in the line up. Seldom I've heard so many cliches on one album. There is not one song that makes my heart beat faster. It's not catchy, not original and the production is very mediocre and sometimes even weak.
No, this old fashioned southern stoner with poor vocals does not make you want to drink too much beer or whiskey out of sheer joy. Again a typical pub rock band from the USA who I suggest should listen to the latest album of Belgian rockers El Guapo Stuntteam just to learn how modern southern rock should sound. For now they have missed 'The Last Train To Scornsville'. Come on guys, you can do better!
ROCK SOUND (UK)
If The Melvins wrote "Sweet Home Alabama" it would sound like these New Jersey good-time-all-the-time rockers. Not to be pigeonholed, the Clutch-esque groove of "Hey Buddy" proves that ATKOF have other substantial, super-thick strings to their, erm, guitar-bow.
-DJApril, 2008 Issue 108www.rock-sound.net
I suppose it's possible to keep A Thousand Knives of Fire separate from Halfway to Gone, but it won't be easy and it won't be done by me.
Even though there's only one core member from Halfway (guitarist and now vocalist Lee Stuart, although drummer Danny Gollin receives credit alongside Monster Magnet's Bob Pantella), A Thousand Knives of Fire's sound is unmistakably similar to the New Jersey three-piece who once threatened, “Back of my hand/Gonna give you a fat lip.” The band may not sound as hell-bent as “Holiday in Altamont” or “Couldn't Even Find a Light,” but they're certainly just as burly and boozy as “Turnpike” or “Great American Scumbag,” with plenty of that southern-by-way-of-Jersey rock charm. And like Halfway to Gone's three releases, The Last Train to Scornsville has more than its fair share of instrumentals (as Stuart's not as strong a vocalist as Lou Gorra, that works in the band's favor).
So obviously, if you liked High Five, Second Season, or Halfway to Gone, then slide on up to the bar, because The Last Train to Scornsville has pretty much the same brand of poison. You're going to get your rollicking shit kickers (“Leeds County Devil,” “She's Yours”), some groove-friendly stompers (the title track, the numerically out of order “Yeah Part 2” and “Yeah Part 1”), and some down home balladry (“Nothing in Life's for Free”).
I suppose it's unfair to A Thousand Knives of Fire to say they're a fine substitute, but given the similarities, it's hard to avoid doing so (and hell, it's not like they're The Firm to Halfway's Zeppelin). Let's just say if you've got a hankering for some dirty Jersey swamp rock, get on board The Last Train to Scornsville. It's worth the trip.
John Pegoraro February 16th, 2008www.stonerrock.com