Guitarist & Bassist for the Heathen Apostles, The Cramps, Nick Curran & the Lowlifes

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Heathen Apostles – “Born By Lightning” Dark Blues Review

Dark Blues musicWith the new Heathen Apostles EP Born By Lightning the gothic americana pendulum has swung towards the blues. The new release is inspired with melancholy and macabra – two foundational themes for the authentic form of dark blues music. That echoes the style of the Heathen Apostles themselves.

The track list begins with the moderate tempoed blues track Death Bell Blues, which still focuses on dark country and southern gothic. Chosen One is much darker and scarier, it’s more to a post punk legacy that resonates well with blues themes. Born By Lightning has a thick, dense sound, interesting solutions in terms of the vocal line, and in general terms, this track is closer to the earlier tracks of the band. Devil Comes For All Of Us with the Heathen Apostles’  otherworldly conjuring and spells increase the horror in this story. Born By Lightning ends in a good way, with the driving and wild Scarecrow Blues.

The release turned out to be unified, integral in mood and sound at the same time. It is also impressive that Heathen Apostles undertook to investigate and dissect the gothic americana in each of its subgenre branches.

Review by Viola Noir  for violanoir.com 8/10

Heathen Apostles – Southern Gothic Blues EP Out Today

Born By Lightning - southern gothic blues

Born By Lightning, the follow-up to the fifth Heathen Apostles album Dust to Dust, contains 5 new songs that explore yet another facet of Gothic Americana: southern gothic blues. Available digitally everywhere today on Ratchet Blade Records, the EP presents tried-and-true musical territory with the title track and the jangly “Devil Comes For All Of Us”, while expanding on the Heathen sound with a trio of hard-hitting sonic lightning bolts: “Death Bell Blues”, “Chosen One”, and “Scarecrow Blues”.

Heathen Apostles - southern gothic bluesWhereas Dust to Dust put the bluegrass of Bill Monroe into the woodshed with the gothic tendencies of Siouxsie & the Banshees, Born By Lightning slinks and slithers to the beat of the blues, with plenty of shouts, hollers, and heavy slide guitar. Singer Mather Louth explains: “My identity as a singer has always been deeply rooted in the blues, and Chopper and I knew for some time that we wanted to delve into the genre (since it is very much a part of American roots music and thus under the collective roof of Americana.) But being the Heathen Apostles, we had to bring things to the dark side, and I feel that Born By Lightning manages to marry our signature Gothic Americana sound with the blues in a way that feels natural.”

Guitarist/Producer Chopper Franklin adds: “We’ve been waiting to do a blues-based record for a while, and we’re very proud of Born By Lightning. I remember seeing The Gun Club back when they were playing small clubs in Los Angeles and that dark, haunting sound was what we were going for with Born By Lightning.”

Heathen Apostles - southern gothic bluesThe first single, “Death Bell Blues” (a tribute to band favorite, the legendary Howlin’ Wolf) opens the EP, inviting the listener to toe the murky waters of the Heathens’ blues as a narrative of the impending Apocalypse unfolds. “Chosen One” serves up a more demented and modern interpretation of the genre, pushing boundaries as it forewarns the folly of religious zealotry. The brooding “Born By Lightning” marks the halfway point, churning with the discomforts of facing one’s own shadow, as the subsequent “Devil Comes For All Of Us” brings the tempo back up to a gallop with the Devil blazing a path of indiscriminate death and destruction. The EP closes with the scorching murder ballad “Scarecrow Blues”, a tale of vindictive townsfolk taking fire to the home of a social misfit, only to burn the entire town to the ground.

The Heathen Apostles have always been defined by a balance between experimentation and reverence, and with Born By Lightning (their third release this year alone), the band offers up a powerful and focused new collection of southern gothic blues songs to their already impressive hymnal.

You can preview and purchase Born by Lightning HERE.

Heathen Apostles and Wovenhand Review & Photos

Heathen Apostles & Wovenhand Review & PhotosA Heathen Apostles and Wovenhand review, along with some great photos, have posted online. They are from the two bands’ show at The Echo in Los Angeles, Ca. on November 3rd, and were taken by photographers Dillon Vaughn and Karin Lindberg Freda. You can read the review by Janky Smooth HERE.

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Wovenhand and Heathen Apostles Show at The Echo

The Heathen Apostles have been added as main support to the Wovenhand show at the Echo in Los Angeles, Ca. on Sunday November 3rd. Doors are at 7pm, Heathen Apostles are on at 8, Wovenhand at 9. You can purchase tickets HERE. Here is the press release for the tour:

The music of Wovenhand and songwriter/multi-instrumentalist David Eugene Edwards has always had an unparalleled intensity. Edwards’ rich, billowing and emotive voice is always the driving force of his ethereal music, but it’s catapulted by his spellbinding ability to transform instruments that many people might consider mundane relics — be it banjo, accordion, lesser-known folk instruments from around the world, or even an electric guitar — into devices of dark fury and poignant beauty. 

From the apocalyptic revivification of antique Americana of Sixteen Horsepower in the 90s to the threadbare balladry of Wovenhand’s early releases, Edwards’ music has maintained its celestial heaviness as it evolved. But now in its current incarnation, Wovenhand is a band that fully expands that power with exacting and inventive skill. It’s a sound so distinctive and compellingly crushing that even the heaviest of metal bands can’t match. 

Wovenhand’s current lineup includes guitarist Chuck French, bassist Neil Keener (both of Planes Mistaken For Stars) and drummer Ordy Garrison, now joined by piano/synth player Matthew Smith (Crime & The City Solution). Star Treatment was recorded at Steve Albini’s legendary Electrical Audio in Chicago with engineer Sanford Parker, who also helmed Wovenhand’s 2014 album Refractory Obdurate. 

Wovenhand Heathen Apostles

Wovenhand

Heathen Apostles – Dark Blues EP Cover Art

The Heathen Apostles are proud to reveal the cover art for their newest release, the 5 song EP Born By Lightning, which will be out online Friday November 15th on Ratchet Blade Records. In keeping with their Gothic Americana roots they have gone in a heavy dark blues direction on this one, with plenty of shouts, hollers and slide guitar, and per usual it has been produced by guitarist Chopper Franklin. Born By Lightning will be available at the Heathen Apostles webstore and all digital outlets, and the band will be shooting some music videos to accompany it. 

Heathen Apostles - Dark Blues

Heathen Apostles Play After Amigo the Devil Show Nov. 1st

The Heathen Apostles will be playing a Dia de los Muertos show at The Love Song Bar in DTLA on Fri. Nov. 1st for the after-party for the Amigo the Devil show with King Dude & Twin Temple that is happening at The Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles (which is next door to The Love Song Bar).

This show will also be the release party for the Heathen Apostles‘ new Born By Lightning EP, which will be released on Halloween on Ratchet Blade Records. For more info click HERE

Amigo the Devil show

Dark Entries Magazine – Review of “Dust To Dust” Dark Roots Album

dark roots musicGothic Americanagothic countrySouthern Gothic or dark roots are terms used to describe the music of Heathen Apostles. The band operates from Los Angeles, California and their first album dates from 2013. So basically it is traditional American country and folk, bluegrass or ‘hillbilly’ music with a black edge and akin to genres such as cowpunk, gothabilly or hellbilly (think of Ghoultown , Gravetown or DAD ) but also alt-country (bands like Whiskeytown , 16 Horsepower or Woven Hand ) or the murder ballads of Nick Cave for example .

Several musicians from Heathen Apostles also have a past in similar bands. One musician is punk rock veteran Chopper Franklin (guitar, banjo, mandolin, keyboards, drums and also responsible for the production) and he has a history in The Cramps , Nick Curran & The Lowlifes and Mau Maus . Singer Mather Louth previously sang with Radio NoirThomas Lorioux (standing bass) was in The Kings Of Nuthin’ and former drummer Stevyn Grey had a history with Christian Death and 45 Grave. The current line-up also includes  violinist Luis Mascaro .

“Dust To Dust” (13 tracks, 53 minutes playing time), the fifth album from Heathen Apostles, appearing again on Ratchet Blade Records , a label specialized in such bands. The three men in the band look like black suited cowboys in nineteenth-century outfits and the singer from the company like a Victorian lady from the same period and also with a black hat just like her male colleagues.

My criticism of the previous release, “Bloodgrass Vol. 1 “ EP, was that it was very good, but that it could be a bit darker and musically more gothic or punk, because it was more pure Americana than a real crossover into the black genre. It seems whether this criticism was completely taken to heart because this is fully true on “Dust To Dust”. Just listen to the magnificent opening song “Burn It To The Ground” with cello, rocking electric guitar and some sort of panting whisper, followed by the uplifting up-tempo folky (sounding like a horse hopping over the prairie) song  “Rise”. “The Bride”, with whisper singing in the stanzas and catchy melancholic wailing violin playing, is also one of the toppers. We are also served dark roots murder ballads such as “Home Sweet Holmes”, drinking songs such as “Two For The Road” in addition to quite a few more compelling songs.

dark roots musicI can imagine most songs in an interpretation of Inkubus Sukkubus . Inkubus Sukkubus fans who like a more ‘country’ or ‘bluegrass’ version of their beloved goth rock / folk band should definitely check out these Heathen Apostles. The same goes for goths who like Johnny Cash , by the way!

All songs on this album were written by the Louth / Franklin duo with one exception: the traditional “In The Pines”. “In The Pines” is a powerful song that I already knew in a different version and about which I hurt my brain for days, from where I knew this song. The song was often attributed to Leadbelly but is actually older and not composed by Leadbelly himself. The composer disappeared in the darkness of time – as is usually the case with traditionals and that is what traditionals are for. So the song is often attributed to the legendary folk and blues singer Leadbelly (Huddie William Ledbetter , 1880-1949) because he recorded one of the first versions under the name “Black Girl”and I also have this on CD but it was not this version that haunted me. No, that turned out to be Nirvana ‘s. They release this song on the album “MTV Unplugged In New York” (1994) under the title “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” . The song is also attributed to Leadbelly on the Nirvana album, which is in fact incorrect. In any case, the version that Heathen Apostles brings here is enchantingly beautiful, dramatic and sensitive sung and accompanied by banjo and violin with the sound of the wind at the end and certainly not inferior to that of Leadbelly nor that of Kurt Cobain and co. Top album! Rating: 9 of 10 stars

Goth Americana Album Review of Dust to Dust By Indy Metal Review

Goth AmericanaChris Latta of Indy Metal Review had a great take (and an ‘A’ rating!) on the Goth Americana flavor of the new Heathen Apostles album Dust To Dust (which is actually the band’s fifth album)…

While Heathen Apostles’ third album is their first proper full-length since 2015’s Fire to the Fuse, it fits right in with the EPs that were released in between. The two Bloodgrass volumes set up a foreboding direction for the gothic country group’s already dark sound that Dust to Dust is happy to develop even further. There’s a sense of buildup as tempos are decidedly slower and one can detect tension in the air throughout.

This tension is especially potent during the album’s first half. “Burn it to the Ground” makes for a scorching call to arms right off the bat, riding an ominous verse complete with a chorus whose vocals manage to alternate between whispers and Disturbed-esque pants without sounding too silly. “One True Belief” and “The Bride” make for additional highlights thanks to their exotic yet sinister rhythms. “Home Sweet Holmes” is easily the most stirring of the lot, an inevitability when you pair up an electrifying twang with a narrative about The Devil in the White City…

Of course, there are plenty of lower key moments to be found as well. “Paradise Lost” features a subtler structure compared to the album’s more in your face moments, but its slow burn is tastefully executed. “Where the Waters Meet” follows it up with more abstract rhythms and “In the Pines” is a gorgeous update of a folk ballad classic. There’s also something to be said for the upbeat simplicity on “Two for the Road” and “The Fall.”

Through it all, the musicianship is exceptional. The alto vocals exhibit a variety of husky croons, esoteric whispers, and sneered spoken word that work to see through the stories they tell. The foundations are carried by a sturdy of guitar, banjo, and mandolin that avoid getting too cluttered and the occasional violin makes for gorgeous texturing. The drums also deserve props for playing the right amount, providing energy during the most intense sequences without getting too overbearing.

Despite a four-year gap between full-lengths, Heathen Apostles’ third album sustains their momentum quite nicely. Dust to Dust doesn’t stray too far from the gothic country sound set up by its predecessors, but a thematic symbiosis of dark barn burners and more subtle ventures results in what may be the band’s most powerful effort to date. This isn’t the most revolutionary album by any means, but fans of more macabre persuasions are encouraged to check it out.

Highlights:
“Burn it to the Ground”
“One True Belief”
“The Bride”
“Paradise Lost”
“Home Sweet Holmes”

Editor Grade A

An Interview With Heathen Apostles – Folk N’ Rock / Americana Gothic

Los Angeles based Americana Gothic outfit Heathen Apostles recently put out their latest studio album, “Dust to Dust,” and soon followed up with a European tour in support of the release. I spoke with Mather Louth and Chopper Franklin about the album, the tour, and where the band might be headed next.

Now that your European tour has just ended, can you tell us a little bit about what that experience was like?

Mather: In a word: a whirlwind! Which is actually quite surprising, being that it was essentially 5 weeks long and our longest European tour to date. But, it was incredibly inspiring, not only because of all of the sights we were able to take in, but also because of all of the connections we were able to make with fans (both new and existing alike.) Our tour took us everywhere- from the hustle and bustle of big cities to some beautifully remote locations- and that in itself provided a beautiful variety of experiences.

As much as playing 32 shows in 32 days was exhausting, it was equally exhilarating thanks to the adrenaline of performing on a daily basis. As a singer, I was pushed to my limits, but the genuine love for performing allowed me to keep hitting the reset button every night. You can never tell what each day will bring when on tour, so you just try your best to enjoy the highs and (as cliched as it sounds) maintain a sense of gratitude to have the opportunity to share your music with people that truly appreciate it.

Americana Goth

What was the writing and recording process like for Dust To Dust?

Chopper: While we were on last year’s European tour we talked about what kind of album we wanted the next one to be. The previous album, Bloodgrass Vol. I & II was dark, but also really rootsy, and we thought this one should have a heavier mood.

As soon as we got home I began writing music that reflected that vibe, and then served the demos up to Mather for lyrics. Since we record in my studio we are able to build on the demos, and Thomas and Luis come in and do their parts. By busting it out this way we were able to have the album out for this year’s tour.

READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE.

The Heathen Apostles Duo Mid West Dates A Wrap

The Heathen Apostles Duo (Mather Louth and Chopper Franklin) have wrapped their Mid West shows opening for Shawn James. The dates included shows in Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana and Illinois. All shows were very well received, and the band will return shortly with the full line up. After a brief rest the band will  begin recording their next release, due out in Fall 2019. Here are some photos from the tour:

The Heathen Apostles DuoThe Heathen Apostles DuoHeathen Apostles Duo

Heathen Apostles DuoHeathen Apostles Duo