Jason McCash, RIP (photo gallery)

The Oracle thumb their noses at your elitist metal attitudes

The Oracle from Maryland brings the collective musical influence and experience of four well-established performers to create something unique that they hope will challenge the elitist attitudes of all the metal subgenres they meld together. It’s a little bit sludge, a little bit doom, a little bit black metal and maybe even a little bit crust.

The Metallomusikum podcast team (Derek Beam, Jason Waldmann, and I) met with The Oracle this week at Midtown BBQ and Brew for a chat about their first few shows together as a band.  The Oracle is James Haun (guitar/vocals), Russ Strahan (guitar), Ron McGinnis (bass/vocals)  and Ben Proudman (drums).  James (ex- Sourvein, ex- Ol’ Scratch), Russ (ex-Pentagram), Ron (Pale Divine, Admiral Browning, Trilogy) and Ben (Rhin) collectively bring decades of experience to this new project.  This is evident in the music they produce which fairly defies neat classification.

In performance, The Oracle produce a ferocious wall of sound. James presents a formidable lead vocalist both in height and aggression. Russ lends a quiet class –he even started the set wearing a top hat — demonstrating his well-earned reputation as one of metal’s most skilled and soulful guitarists. Ben lays down a solid foundation that sets the pace for every song, shifting from doom-y drone to black metal blast beat at any moment.  Ron, plucking his signature six string bass, also offers strong supporting vocals to counter James and rounds out the profoundly heavy rhythm section.

For me at least, despite the fact that the music drinks deeply from black metal’s chalice of blood, the tunes remain mostly in the sludge/doom camp.  You can get an idea what the band sounds like on their demo  “Veiled Oblivion” but that recording features the vocals and bass-work Helena Goldberg (Akris), who left The Oracle after nearly two years of songwriting, to raise a family.  The latest incarnation should be experienced live.

Listen to the podcast here.

Check out a gallery of photos from the March 8 show at the Sidebar. PS. Happy Birthday Sidebar owner, Travis Hunt.

Krisiun stops twice nearby on Destruction tour

Brasil’s Krisiun, one of the hardest working bands in death metal, is on the road again, if they ever even left. (They didn’t.) Krisiun will start a tour  with the almighty German thrashers Destruction on March 14 and will be appearing at two venues within a reasonable driving distance from Baltimore: at Empire in Springfield, Virginia on March 20 and at Mojo 13 in Wilmington, Delaware on March 21.  You will see them with North Carolina’s Widow for the first part of this tour and then they will  be joined by the delightful Exmortus of California for the latter half. You can see all the dates here.

In May 2013, I sat down with Moyses Kolesne before Krisiun played a show at Baltimore’s Metro Gallery. Yes, this interview was conducted nearly a year ago. I have been holding onto it until now, for just such an occasion as this — a new tour– which was bound to happen sooner or later with these guys! Still, I don’t typically like to hold on to an interview this long. We met at The Club Charles and  tried to chat over the sound of the jukebox. Later that night, they tore through their set, which included a good mix of old and newer tracks. I remember that it was immediately after Maryland Deathfest and everyone in attendance at the show was a bit exhausted.

Krisiun formed in 1990 when brothers  Alex Camargo [Vocal/Bass],  Moyses Kolesne [Guitar] and Max Kolesne [Drums] were just teens. Since then, they have steadily  amassed rabidly devoted fans across the world. There are few bands who tour as frequently and who remain as rooted to their musical origins, to their country and to their fanbase as Krisiun.  They are also super humble and down-to-earth people, who are willing to kick back with their fans from the mosh pit, as well as go home once in a while to see their mother. Alex uses his mother’s last name, by the way.

Fangirl photo with Moyses Kolesne.

Fangirl photo with Moyses Kolesne of Krisiun.

In this interview, Moyses discusses what it is like to be in a band for more than 20 years with his brothers and about sticking with their label, Century Media, for just as long. He also talks about their devotion to extreme music and to an organic sound, he reminds me that black metal is older in Brazil than in Norway, and he remembers their big break at the Milwaukee metal fest. There is mention of possibility of a new record in the works and he talks about some of the fests they will play (or now have played) in 2013.

During the interview Moyses said something that I think perfectly sums up the work ethic and humility of Krisiun:

“The people that are are down there in the mosh pit and the ones on stage, they are the same. Both are part of the show. Without each other, they are nothing.”

More people in metal should think this way.  Moyses also offers some inspiration and insight for struggling musicians who are impatient about having to be out on the road and sleeping in vans for years before they find success. After all, he’s been doing it for 20 years so he should know what he is talking about! I hope you enjoy listening to this interview as much as I enjoyed recording it. It begins with me asking Moyses about what it’s like to be in a band with one’s  brothers. Click here to listen.

Don’t miss Krisiun and Destruction out on the road.

The BROS Gründlehämmer returns and goes on tour

Metal. Theatre. Awesome. How about all three?

“The Baltimore Rock Opera Society (BROS) is launching their first touring production: Gründlehämmer. Dedicated to over-the-top theatrics and mind-boggling spectacle, the BROS are excited to bring their craft on the road for the first time, with performances in Baltimore, Alexandria, and Philadelphia.”

I am hitting the March 16 show in Baltimore. Why don’t you meet me there? Last year, I did an extensive review of Murder Castle, which you can read here. I can’t wait to see their first production, revisited.

For more information, and for tickets to the show (running March 14 – April 6), please visit http://www.baltimorerockopera.org

Album reviews: Myopic, Iris Divine, Dweller in the Valley

Recently, Derek and I attempted to record a podcast reviewing three albums. from regional bands The recording was done in a hurry and the gain was too high, so the sound is pretty bad. We sound completely adorable and not too drunk, but I won’t force you to suffer through listening to it because of the quality.  (If you really want to hear it, the link is here, but it will not be included on MixCloud podcast stream.) We did want you to at least be aware of some of our comments on these recordings. The drink of the evening was vodka and Taco Bell limeades.

Dweller in the Valley bones. Photo by Mary Spiro

Dweller in the Valley bones. Photo by Mary Spiro

The idea behind these this reviews is that we listen to the albums and give our immediate first impressions. Of course, we may go back and listen to these albums again in the future, but, in general, first impressions are the most important, so that’s what we are going with

Myopic – Beyond the Mirror’s Edge (Grimoire Records); three-piece from Takoma Park, MD. 

Listen here.

Derek’s comments:

  • “It started out kind of sludgey but they hit all kinds of things in four songs. Really seemed to be exploratory and all over the map …”
  • “Last song started out good but I don’t remember much about the rest of it, went in weird directions.”

Mary’s comments:

  • “Lot of hardcore and post rock/metal elements”
  • “Felt like the first song was kind of a weak start but liked the second track much better.”
  • “Hate it when I band starts a song with feedback…that’s becoming cliche to me.”
  • “Iron Towers was good. Backstitch had a lot of cool parts but seemed a little too long.”
  • “Last song had what we call a ‘circus breakdown’ but overall pretty good.”

We both liked the album overall and would like to see this band live.

Iris Divine -demo (self-released); three-piece from Centreville, VA. 

Listen here.

Derek’s comments:

  • “It’s not for me, because I didn’t like it.”
  • “It has a very nice production value.”
  • “It was very proggy, sing-songy, that kind of thing.”
  • “I lot of people will really like this recording, so I don’t really feel bad saying that I do not.”

Mary’s comments:

  • “I felt like it was Dream Theater worship.”
  • “There are people in the metal community that love this kind of stuff, but I find the vocals cloying…too sweet.”
  • “Give Iris Divine a shot, but it’s not our thing. Buy it or don’t.”

We have seen Iris Divine live at The Sidebar. While it is not our favorite genre of music, we recognize that this is a well recorded, well executed work.”

Dweller in the Valley- Breath of the Void (Black Mess/Grimoire Records); trio from Frederick, MD.

Listen here.

Derek’s comments:

  • “I liked it.”
  • ” I have no input other than I can’t wait to see them live.”

(Poor Derek, I realize I barely gave him a chance to talk about this band!)

Mary’s comments:

  • “I hear a little bit of hardcore influence but this is definitely black metal.”
  • ” I feel like this is a live band. Dane Olds is really angry when he sings. Maybe his is not an angry young man, but he just comes off that way and the music is incredibly aggressive…righteous indignation.”

I have seen this band live, but Derek has not. The goal is to get him out to see Dweller, where the drummer is also the vocalist.

Visit us again soon for more random record reviews.

Interview: Dana Duffey of Demonic Christ

For the last 20 plus years, guitarist Dana Duffey has been quietly working her “magick” upon scores of fans of extreme metal. First in the somewhat short-lived death metal outfit Mythic and now with Demonic Christ, Dana has maintained her musical integrity with a “no-compromises” attitude. Despite periodic breaks to raise her children and a revolving door of supporting players, Dana has been able to stay on track with her music. She is, essentially, the unofficial First Lady of US Black Metal.

Demonic Christ

Demonic Christ

Demonic Christ, based in Ohio, recently concluded a tour with Indiana’s Ptahil that included a stop in Baltimore. Two members of Ptahil, Jeffrey Mhaghnuis (drums) and Darrin Luathca (bass for D.C., guitars for Ptahil) joined the effort and David Swanson (drums for Kommandant) shares guitar duties with Dana. Both bands played in Montreal for Messe des Morts, a black metal fest with groups such as Taake and Tsjuder, which was held over the American Thanksgiving weekend. (One of these years I am going to save up enough money to go to that festival. Maybe in 2014!)

The night of the Baltimore show, November 23, Demonic Christ’s van broke down just 20 minutes from The Sidebar Tavern where they were scheduled to play. However, with the help of a friend (Jason Oberkirsch of Graveless Slumber Records) who was on his way to the show, they repaired the trailer hitch and were transported to the show just in time. All hail just-in-time-provisioning! It was among the most extreme black metal shows I have seen at Sidebar for some time.

After the show, which included Baltimore-based black metallers Xuekatre  and New Jersey’s Mortum, Dana was kind enough to chat with me in the noisy Sidebar basement. (Yes, there is a basement and no, you don’t really want to spend too much time down there.)

Dana shared a little bit about her childhood growing up in Toledo, Ohio and how she first felt called to play guitar at age 13 in 1986. She worked on learning to play the guitar, which helped give her life some meaning during a difficult time. With the help of an instructor, she learned Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and was soon composing her own songs. Dana cites Asphyx, Bolt Thrower and Pestilence among her earliest musical influences, as well as Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica. “Slayer’s lyrics spoke to me, they understood who I was,” she said.

By the age of 18, she had moved to Pittsburgh to attend school. With former members of an early incarnation of Derkéta, Dana formed the seminal all-female death metal band Mythic, and the group released a demo in 1991.

When Mythic played the 1992 Milwaukee Metal Fest, Dana caught Deicide’s set and heard their message of Satan. Up to that point, she said  Mythic’s lyrical content focused on “light” occult subjects. But now Dana said she felt a strong pull to write songs that were unmistakably Satan-inspired.

“From an early age, I knew that this world was not for me, but I had to navigate to get through it …to find my purpose,” Dana said. “It is my job to go out and awake people up to take control of their own lives and spread the word of Satan, and that is a good thing. “

At that show she decided that Mythic was over, and she set out to write the music that would become the foundations of Demonic Christ with Aragon Amori (d. 1996) who had recently departed Profanatica. At a time, there were very few black metal bands in the US. Amori played on Demonic Christ’s 1993 demo “Deceiving the Heavens.” (Listen to the whole demo here.)

My conversation with Dana really took a lot of different directions. We discussed all the topics you are not supposed to discuss in “polite company” like religion, race and even why she decided to homeschool her son. We even touched on my simultaneously most-favorite/most-hated subject: the realm of “female fronted” metal.

Since Dana values her family, the responsibilities of raising and educating her kids, as well as working as a massage therapist have diverted her attention from music for several years. Now, she says, Demonic Christ is on the move and, with the members of Ptahil and Kommandant who have been backing her up, the group will record in the spring.

Fans should expect a full-length on Hells Headbangers Records
sometime in June or July. “Forget what you heard before, this is something new!” Dana added.

Italian artist Paolo Girardi has created the cover illustration. Girardi is known for his album art for groups such as Inquisition and Prosanctus Inferni and Diocletian.

Listen to the interview in its entirety here.

View a gallery of photos from the Demonic Christ and Ptahil show below:

More than 30 reasons why Abigail Williams refuses to call it quits

Ever-evolving metal purveyors Abigail Williams will celebrate a decade of plying their dark arts with a 30+ city US headlining tour and a new portfolio of songs. Although many thought the band had officially called it quits, remaining original member, songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Ken Sorceron says his black metal renegades shall ascend once more.

Basic RGBFor this early 2014 outing, Sorceron will be joined by veterans, guitarist, Jeff Wilson and touring bassist, John Porada, (both ex-Nachtmystium), and touring drummer, Jesse Beahler, (ex-Jungle Rot, Nightfire). In the studio, Wilson and long-time Abigail Williams guitarist Ian Jekelis will work with Sorceron on a full-length to be recorded in Chicago sometime in April. Drummer Alex Rudinger (The Faceless) and bassist Will Lindsay (ex-Nachtmystium, Wolves In The Throne Room) will complete the ensemble. Fans should expect a release on Candelight Records in late August or early September.

“Touring and recording are two different things in my mind,” Sorceron said. “Certain people you want around in the studio and certain people are more suitable in a live situation. Abigail Williams has never had a real solid lineup going from recording to live; we have always kept it moving.

On tour, Abigail Williams will perform their critically acclaimed 2012 album “Becoming” in its entirety. They will complete their headlining set list with selections from their genre-blending past and uncompromising new future.

With regard to the band’s genre, Sorceron doesn’t particularly care if people use the term “black metal” to describe the band and realizes many use it simply as a convenient way to classify the music.

“To some people, it’s up for debate as to whether what we play is black metal or not, but to me it doesn’t matter either way. I’m not thinking about genres and shit like that when writing music.” In fact, he laughs, he can’t even think of any adjectives to describe his music in print, “I’m not great with words, but I could make the noises with my mouth to help describe it.”

aw-group

Abigail Williams

Abigail Williams is also hard to place in today’s landscape of what is described at US black metal. Since their inception in 2004, the group has continuously changed personnel, and with each new performer, came a new musical influence. The only thing that has remained constant is Sorceron who is constantly seeking new personal experiences to inspire songs and developing innovative combinations of sounds that frankly defy neat categorization. Like the girl the band was named for—the chief accuser in the Salem witch trials—Abigail Williams keeps changing her story and her sound.

“The thing about Abigail Williams is that we never fit into any landscape,” Sorceron says. “I’ve become pretty comfortable with that role. I used to read the criticism about the band on the Internet, but I stopped caring a while ago. People aren’t comfortable liking a band that has changed sound over the years.”

Sorceron also emphasizes that Abigail Williams is not a “brand” but rather a conduit for unceasing artistic expression.

“My observation has been that music fans tend to think of a band as a brand. It’s the same, as clothing in some ways. Like when someone decides they won’t be caught dead wearing XYZ brand because they sell at ‘insert lame store name here’ and ‘these types of people’ like it. I’m not oblivious to the fact that a lot of fans of our early stuff don’t like the newer stuff, and a lot of the people that like the new stuff hate the old stuff. It is a challenge for some of these people to ‘wear’ this brand in public because of it. I don’t think of my music as a brand but as an outlet for creativity and a vehicle to go and see the places I want to go see and sometimes connect with like-minded people.”

Ken Sorceron

Ken Sorceron. Photo by Wendy Schreier

Sorceron found like-minded connections with the members of Lord Mantis and recently joined the band and performed on their latest recording, “Death Mask.” However, he says he keeps Abigail Williams in motion, because, “It is what I do.”

###

Confirmed dates so far include:
1/15 – Rochester, NY – The Bug Jar
1/16 – Albany, NY – Bogies
1/17 – New York, NY – Slake
1/18 – Reading, PA – Reverb
1/19 – Trenton, NJ – Championship
1/20 – Danbury, CT – Heirloom Arts Theatre
1/21 – Jeanette, PA – Gator’s
1/22 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Ballroom
1/23 – Warren, MI – The Ritz
1/24 – Kokomo, IN – Centerstage Bar & Grill
1/25 – Cherry Valley, IL – Take Twenty
1/26 – Chicago, IL – Reggies (with Charlie Fell* of Lord Mantis drums on this and each date thereafter)
1/29 – Cincinnati OH – TBA
1/30 – Johnson City TN – Mecca Lounge
1/31 – Fayetteville AR – TBA
2/1 – Fort Worth TX – Tomcat’s
2/2 – Corpus Christi TX – Zero’s
2/3 – McAllen TX – Fallback Records
2/4 – Big Spring TX – Sugars Bar
2/5 – Amarillo TX – Wreck Room
2/6 – Albuquerque NM – The Jam Spot
2/7 – Phoenix AZ – Tempe Tavern
2/8 – Los Angeles CA – Black Castle
2/9 – Bakersfield CA – Jerry’s Pizza
2/10 – Sacramento CA – The Midtown Barfly
2/11 – Oakland CA – Oakland Metro Operahouse
2/12 – Portland OR – Hawthorne Theatre
2/14 – Seattle WA – El Corazon
2/15 – Vancouver BC – The Astoria
2/16 – Spokane WA – The Hop
2/17 – Bozeman MT – The Complex
2/18 – Great Falls MT – Machinery Row
2/19 – Cheyenne WY – TBA
2/20 – Denver CO – Hi Dive
2/21 – Wichita KS – Lizard Lounge
2/22 – Tulsa OK – Downtown Lounge
2/23 – Oklahoma City OK – Chameleon Room
4/12 – Austin, TX – Texas Independence Fest

* Charlie Fell is the former drummer of Von and Nachtmystium but is vocalist/bassist for Lord Mantis.

Metallomusikum’s favorite metal albums of 2013

IMG_3074Last year, I initiated what I called the HOLY SHIT LIST or my favorite albums of the year. I had certain criteria such as the recording had to be a full-length, not a reissue or compilation and most importantly it must cause me to declare “Holy Shit” at least three times while listening to it. This year I figured I would spread the wealth and get some input from two of my favorite boys on earth, my loving husband and drummer for Iron Man, Jason “Mot” Waldmann, and my concert-going buddy and podcasting partner Derek “Whiskey” Beam.

We got real drunk on whiskey, cider and beer and recorded a podcast, which, if you are brave enough you can listen to here. However, if you would like to spare yourself (and us) the embarrassment of listening to three people (mostly just me) slip into the abyss of alcoholism, you can just review our handy lists below. If you want to hear our slurred commentary on each album, you will have to listen to the podcast.

For background, it might help to know that the three of us come from different decades: Derek is in his 30s, Jason is in his 40s and me, well let’s just say that I am soon approaching that half-century mark. How this may or not influence our musical preferences is unclear, but I think it does have some bearing on our musical experiences to date. That said, Derek, tends to prefer and listen to a lot of stoner metal and doom, Jason goes for thrash and NWOBHM, and I favor black and death metal as well as some hardcore.

So here we go, youngest to oldest. Not surprisingly, there is very little overlap in our lists! Derek and I both listed 13 albums for 2013, but Jason only did 12 because he felt that was enough. Jason also did not have any honorable mentions. Looking back over these lists, I am surprised by what is NOT on them, as compared to the other best of lists I have seen out there. Clearly we all march to the beat of a different drummer here at Metallomusikum.

Derek’s Top Album List for 2013

13 – ASG – Blood Drive
12 – Wolvserpent – Perigea Antahkarana
11 – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats – Mind Control
10 – Ulcerate – Vermis
9 – Black Sabbath – 13
8 – Church of Misery – Thy Kingdom Scum
7 – Windhand – Soma
6 – Iron Man – South of the Earth
5 – Mammoth Grinder – Underworlds
4 – Inter Arma – Sky Burial
3 – Stomach Earth – s/t
2 – Nails – Abandon All Life
1 – Jex Thoth – Blood Moon Rise

Honorable Mentions:
Primitive Man – Scorn (reissue)
Black Tusk – Tend No Wounds (EP)
Conan/Bongripper split (split)
Wounded Giant – Lightning Medicine (reissue? Not sure)

Jason’s Top Album List for 2013

12 – Deep Purple – Now What
11 – Cathedral – The Last Spire
10- Beelzefuzz – s/t
9 – The Melvins -Tres Hombres
8 – Saxon – Sacrifice
7 – Voivod – Target Earth
6 – Black Sabbath – 13
5 – Red Fang – Whales and Leeches
4 – Vista Chino – Peace
3 – Revocation- s/t
2 – Trouble – The Distortion field
1 – Death Angel – The Dream Calls for Blood

Mary’s Top Album List for 2013

13 – Beelzefuzz –s/t
12 – The Ocean –Pelagial
11- Red Fang –Whales and Leeches
10 – The Dillinger Escape Plan – One of Us is the Killer
9 – Corrections House — Last City Zero
8 – Exivious – Liminal
7 – Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult – Necrovision
6 – Aeternus – ….and the seventh his soul detesteth
5 – Arckanum — Fenriz Kinder
4 – Tribulation- The Formulas of Death
3 – In Solitude – Sister
2 – Wardruna – Runnaljog Yggdrasil
1 – Oranssi Pazuzu – Valonielu

Honorable Mentions:
Immortal Bird –Akrasia EP
Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance
Watain – The Wild Hunt
Selim Lemouchi and His Enemies – Earth Air Spirit Water
Iron Man – South of the Earth

What were your favorite albums of the year?

Would you want to be vocalist for Dark Funeral?

darkfunerla header

Dark Funeral is apparently still looking for a vocalist. No joke, here is what Lord Ahriman – the founder, guitarist and songwriter of the Swedish Black Metal band  posted on his Facebook page just last week:

“If you’ve got what it takes to tour intensely and be the front man of the ineffable Kings of Black Metal, please send us your application to vocalist@darkfuneral.se. Please provide the following information when sending applications:
Send us a photo, your name, age and a short background story about you and maybe bandography incl. touring history. Also attach 1-2 audio/video clips in good quality that have been recorded recently. If we find you interesting, we’ll contact you regarding the next step.”

Dark Funeral has been around for 20 years and has only had two previous vocalists. Can you replace this guy:

The trouble with making year-end ‘best of’ lists

Every year at this time,  various websites and individuals begin posting their “best of” lists. Derek and I will be posting our end of year lists as well, but not just yet.  In this current edition of the podcast, Derek and I discuss our trouble with narrowing down our list of best of albums because there seem to be so many great albums released this year.  There was just a lot of really terrific stuff to choose from. Wanna feel bad about how many albums came out that you never listened to because you never took that one Motorhead CD out of your car? Give this list challenge a try. It was created by Chris of DCHeavymetal.com and though not exhaustive, it still gives you an idea of just the magnitude of what we are up against here. Link here.

We also summarize some of the shows we attended. These included shows from Demonic Christ at the Sidebar, Black Tusk on Halloween, High on Fire at the Rock and Roll Hotel, Church of Misery at the Ottobar and in a house basement and Death Angel at Mojo 13 in Delaware.

LISTEN  to podcast 7 here.

There are a couple of cool events and festivals coming up this month that Derek and/or I will attend. These include:

Heavy Metal Flea Market, Dec 9. Ottobar 2549 N. Howard St. Baltimore, MD, upstairs during Metal Monday, 9 p.m. to close. FREE. Event page here.

Satan’s Unholy Abomination Fest 2, Dec 13-14, Schizophrenia Hall (inside Leyla’s Restaurant) 5607 Sargent Rd. Hyattsville, MD. $15, 5 p.m to close Friday. $20, 2 p.m. to close Saturday. Event page here.

Denver Black Sky, Dec 14, Gothic Theatre, Denver, Co. $30 at the door. Event page here.

Sidebar Gamer Night, Dec 17, Sidebar Tavern, 218 E. Lexington St. Baltimore, MD. FREE. Venue page here.

Here are some photo highlights from the month. See you at a show!

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