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Blood, Guts and Justus 

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Music festivals, like everything else in the industry, operate on their own timetables. Some promoters have barely finalized contracts before the headliners are on their way to the airport. Others, such as the High Mountain Hay Fever Festival, line acts up nearly a year in advance.

Colorado Springs' own Gutfest, which will be taking place at Sunshine Studios in June 2015, falls squarely into the latter camp. Now entering its seventh year, the local death metal gathering has already booked bands from Italy, Germany, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, California, Kansas, Arizona, Nevada, South Carolina and New Mexico.

So far, Texas has been the major donor, with cultural ambassadors Flesh Hoarder, Compulsive Mutilation, Diminished and Whore of Bethlehem all good to go. Also on board for "the dankest fest in the U.S." are Coffin Syrup, Dysentery, Goemagot, Marasmus, Dreaming Dead, Skinned and Stages of Decomposition.

Organizers recently put a call out for a "few more disgusting Cali representations," but brutalists from all recesses of the globe are still welcome to apply. You can contact the festival through its Facebook page for more info.

And while we're on the subject of decomposing corpses, Halloween continues to loom conspicuously on the horizon. This Saturday, with just three weeks to go, Zodiac will be making the season bright with its Zombie Crawl.

In addition to a screening of Zombie Fest: The Movie, there will be a Zombie Dance Contest and the filming of a Live Zombie Video. There'll also be a Zombie Leg Throwing Contest and a Zombie Brain Eating Contest, which could get messy.

The night will culminate in a performance by New York City duo Frenchy & the Punk, who like to think of themselves as a "cauldron of foot-stompin' bohemian cabaret folk, world, French chanson, '80s punk, dash of vaudeville charm, steampunk flair and pixie spirit."

From a local music perspective, though, the coming week's most noteworthy event would have to be the Justus League's CD release party Friday at Stargazers. In addition to celebrating a new self-titled debut album, the band will be playing its first show as a four-piece since the mid-September departure of Jake Loggins.

"Jake's a busy guy with a family, school and his own band," explains bassist Sean Pyrtle, typing on his iPhone from church, which may or may not be a sin. "And musically, he wants to stick to more blues-sounding material, while the rest of us are trying to find a voice outside the blues."

The nine-track album, which was cut at Bill Douglass' Royal Recording Studios, conveys the group's mastery of blues-rock, jazz-fusion, and jam-band influences. It also serves as a showcase for their songwriting skills. Loggins and Pyrtle — along with guitarist Austin Johnson, bassist Matthew Taylor and drummer Dean Woodward — each contribute songs and, with the exception of Pyrtle, take turns on lead vocals.

The bassist cites the reggae-inflected "Sheriff" as an example of one of their more collaborative efforts: "I wrote the basic progression and lead melody, and then everyone wrote a verse, and Matt came up with the chorus."

Elsewhere, songs like Johnson's "Feel the Same" and Loggins' "Happy Jam" — both of which feature backing harmonies from Kopesetik Soul singer Victoria "Lyrick" Lipscomb and Mostly Don'ts bassist Andrea Stone — are more reflective of the individual musicians' personalities.

"We just wanted everyone to have a chance to write and be featured independently," says Pyrtle. "And then we arrange the songs as a band to make them sound consistent from track to track."

You can find a five-minute mix of songs from the album at justusleaguemusic.com.

Send news, photos and music to reverb@csindy.com; follow our updates at tinyurl.com/indyreverb.

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