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

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Chopper Franklin To Produce New Hellbilly Music Album

POTBH - Hellbilly MusicThe Phantom of the Black Hills are back in the studio to record a new album, and once again it will be produced by Chopper Franklin for his Ratchet Blade Records label (Franklin has produced all 5 of the band’s albums). They will also be collaborating with the Heathen Apostles’ lead singer Mather Louth. For those who don’t know, Phantom of the Black Hills play very heavy hellbilly music, and have been together since 2009.

POTBH and Mather previously worked together on Wild Witch of the West (you can check out the crazy hellbilly music video for the song HERE), the lead single from their last album, 2017’s Scalped. This time Mather will have a bigger role in the project, singing and writing on several songs on the new album. The album is roughly scheduled for a Spring 2020 release.

Phantom & Mather Louth - Hellbilly Music

WILD WITCH OF THE WEST
(lyrics by Phantom of the Black Hills and Mather Louth)

Drag me to hell, and howl it up all night
A haunted heart, got the feeling right

Trigger finger warm, her blood runnin’ cold
A sunken sun, time to bring the show

Your death is her fascination
Sent to hell to stay; well, hell, she’ll show the way
She’s serving up some damnation
Badder than the rest, the Wild Witch of the West

Spells in the wind, crows fill up the sky
She’s so gone, can’t be rectified

Drums beatin’ dark, corpses in the street
Her eyes wild, guns spittin’ heat

She’s bringin’ your devastation
Yeah, she’ll mark your grave, and send you on your way
Your grief is her incantation
Bringin’ all the best, the Wild Witch of the West

Hex taking aim,
It’s you I’ve come to claim
One last bone to pick
that bears your name

I’m crossing over the threshold
Sweeping off the ashes and the brimstone
You’d best not find yourself alone
Every story ends the same,
Another moth caught by the flame

Heathen Apostles – Gothic Americana Blues EP Review

Heathen Apostles - Gothic Americana Blues“So far here we have reviewed a Folk album, a Punk album and a sort of Bluesy compilation album so none of our usual uptake and that doesn’t change with this review of the latest EP from Heathen Apostles. They play a sort of Gothic Americana Blues crossed with alternative alternative country. Born By Lightning comes hot on the heels of their recently released album Dust To Dust, their fifth to date, and five new songs of what one reviewer described as “the bluegrass of Bill Monroe put into the woodshed with the Gothic tendencies of Siouxsie And The Banshees”.

Born By Lightning - Gothic Americana BluesLabel mates to of one of my all time favourite bands Phantom Of The Black Hills, they tread much the same path but definitely in a more accessible way to yer average Joe. Fiddle and banjo aplenty here while Mather Louth’s beautiful yet powerful voice shines above all else.

Starting off with the slow Country styled Gothic ballad ‘Death Bell Blues’ a tribute to the legendary Howlin’ Wolf before leading into the dark ‘Chosen One’ which shows the Apostles at that catchiest best. The title track ‘Born By Lightning’ sees them back in darker country again with an intense ballad that builds on Mather’s voice with the rest of the band restrained before here. A million miles away from the Grand Ole Opry! The last two songs have a much harder edge, ‘Devil Comes For All Of Us’ is self explanatory while ‘Scarecrow Blues’ take us far away from traditional Country and into the realm of the ‘murder ballad’ with its tale of a social misfit  being burned out of his house only for the vigilantes to burn down the entire town while it slinks and slithers to the beat of the blues!

A Country-Bluesy-Punky affair (the band have long wanted to do a Blues style release) and with Born By Lightning they have managed to stay close to their roots and something that would also appeal to more traditional music fans too. Signed to Ratchet Blade Records which specialises in ‘Dark Roots Music’ where you can find out all you need to about this glorious genre.”

You can read the article at London Celtic Punks HERE.

“Death Bell Blues” Death Blues Music Video

Heathen Apostles - Death BluesThe Heathen Apostles have released a lyric video for Death Bell Blues, the first song on their new dark blues Born By Lightning EP, available now on Ratchet Blade Records. The band went in a death blues direction for this release, casting the same dark spells they use on bluegrass and country onto the blues.

Heathen Apostles - Death BluesThe video features footage shot long time collaborator Jorge Jaramillo, who in the past has worked with the Heathen Apostles by directing their Paint The Stars and Deadly Nightshade music videos. You can preview the Born By Lightning EP HERE.

“Whereas 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.”

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