This September marks the first (and hopefully not the last) occurrence of Shadow Woods Metal Fest, a first-of-its-kind in the US mini-version of the Euro style open-air fests. The fest will be held in White Hall, MD about 30 minutes north of Baltimore. Thirty-six bands will perform over two days beginning September 25 and attendees can camp through September 27.
We, that is the makers of Metallomusikum, have been working on this fest for more than a year with the help of a crack team that includes Lokvlt Productions from Philadelphia, Leftover Pizza Productions in Frederick, MD and WinterForge Promotions in Pittsburgh PA. Our sponsors are Grimoire Records, the hybrid recording studio and record label based in Baltimore, MD, and Music For The Dead, an independent label also from Baltimore that specializes as they say, “in music no one living would want to hear.” In addition, another dozen more friends and colleagues were recruited to help with things like security, food & beverage, vendors and sound/stage/lights.
While every band selected for this curated list is outstanding, there are a few performances that should prove especially memorable. Headliners for Friday include Falls of Rauros, Occultation, Velnias and Immortal Bird. Headliners for Saturday include Midnight, Iron Man, Dweller in the Valley and Wormreich. Regarding Wormreich, this fest will be their first live performance since their fatal van accident on April 6, where they lost two band members.
We have 12 arts vendors, including Poison Apple Printshop and Runk the Skunk Jewelry, along with several record distros/labels, such as Crucial Blast, Salvation Distro and of course, Grimoire Records.
This fest will also have some workshops, which is pretty different from what you might encounter at other open air fests. Old Town Lutherie will teach a workshop in guitar maintenance, an expert in Scandinavian history and culture will present a workshop on Runes. And each morning different yoga instructors will hold sessions for those interested. Bring a mat and comfortable clothes if you want to try it out. There will probably be some other last minute surprises.
Along with all this, we have two exclusive t-shirt designs and one beautiful art poster created especially for this inaugural fest. Only 350 tickets will be sold to Shadow Woods and no tickets will be sold at the gate. Repeat: everything is pre-sale. Don’t wait. When the fest is sold out, it’s sold out. And we fully expect it to.
Our location is Camp Hidden Valley, a children’s camp on private property managed by the Harford County Boys & Girls Club. The landscape is beautiful and heavily wooded. There is plenty of room for tent camping, a huge dining hall where our vendors and one stage will be located, and men’s and women’s bathhouses with flush toilets, showers and running water. There are even outlets to charge your phone.
Shadow Woods Metal Fest is 21+ and BYOB. You can read all about it on the fest website. See all the related links below. We will be featuring short write ups on the bands in this space and on the fest website. See you in September!
Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t give up on things I care about that easily. This year’s Grimscape show was a trial by fire. First we had to move venues. Twice. And we lost our original headliner. But, that said, we found a home and regrouped and the results were nothing short of amazing. Thanks go out to The Depot in Baltimore and their sound guy Greg Serio as well as DJ Neska for keeping everything running smoothly and on time.
Rest assured that there will be more shows of this caliber in the months to come. We look forward to Grimscape #3 in summer of 2016.
I suggest that you keep these bands in constant rotation on your playlists:
Below is a link to some photos I took at the show, even the crappy blurry ones. Whatever. Enjoy and be sad if you missed it. Next shows coming up are Aug 16 and 17. More on that later.
New Jersey’s Windfaerer plays atmospheric “folkened “ black metal. I started listening to them when my friend Annie mentioned how amazing they were, and that I should probably book them sometime. I am still wondering why I have not done that yet. That said, until the right opportunity comes along, I thought it would be a good time to cast the spotlight on them and give them some of the attention they deserve.
My description of their music as atmospheric “folkened “ black metal is somewhat tongue is cheek (music writers like to play around with genre hybrids, don’t we?). But the truth is I think it is totally accurate. The snarling plaintive vocals put the band definitely in black metal territory. Melodically, their tunes soar through some epic aural landscapes that qualify as atmospheric. And as for the “folkened” part, the use of violin certainly lends more traditional sounds to the compositions, but not in in the commonly understood paradigms of folk metal kind of way. In my opinion, I think a lot of folk metal sounds like electrified polka tunes, and I absolutely hate it. This stuff that Windfaerer puts forth is aggressive, grim and haunting. It has an organic and emotional aesthetic that makes it seem like it comes from another time. There’s a reason the violin is Satan’s preferred instrument. That instrument can scream, wail and weep like a human voice.
I thought I would send the band some off-the-wall questions. Michael Gonçalves gave me some off the wall answers. Make sure to check out their new song “Celestial Supremacy” from their forthcoming self-released recording Tenebrosum, which will be available in its entirety on September 22. If “Celestial Supremacy” is any indication of the music on the rest of the album, Tenebrosum should be Windfaerer’s breakout recording. Labels should take notice.
Now on to the basics and Q&A.
Hails! This is Michael Gonçalves, the frontman of Windfaerer, answering these questions on behalf of the band.
Members/Instruments they play?
Michael Gonçalves handles the guitars and vocals, but on all recorded material thus far also plays the bass. Benjamin Karas handles the violin (acoustic and electric) as well as some vocal contribution. JP Andrade plays the drums. In a live setting, the band is rounded out by Peter Lloyd on guitar and Michael Munoz on bass.
Active since 2009.
Various parts of Northeastern NJ.
Label/ if any?
None, though some releases have been put out through our own imprint, Noire Perpetua.
Glorybound (demo, 2009)
Tribus (full length, 2010)
Solar (EP, 2012)
Tenebrosum (full length, 2015)
Why should people check out your band?
I think people should check out our music because it is sincere. We stand behind this art in full force. I feel a shroud of emotion draping me when performing our music. We are playing music we want to hear, paying homage to artists we respect, and driven by an ancient essence. If listeners notice that, then we are forever grateful.
Where do you think your music fits genre-wise?
This has been a tough question to answer because, to me, I feel an all-encompassing “Heavy Metal” would be fitting, but that wouldn’t be satisfying. Undoubtedly metal. We fall into the Black Metal spectrum, specifically influenced by Viking and Pagan Metal, and definitely slathered in a coating of Gothenburg-style Melodic Death Metal.
If your music could appear on any television or movie soundtrack, what would you want it to be?
Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, The Wrath of God or The Last of the Mohicans.
If you could go on tour with any band, who would it be, and why?
Sepultura circa 1991 because at that point in their career they were untouchable. Have time machines been invented yet? In today’s music, probably, Vallendusk from Indonesia because I think our music works nicely together or Metallica because then we could play giant stages and use pyrotechnics.
If you could add an additional guest member to your band from any era in music history who would it be and why?
Valfar (Windir) because he is a big influence on our music.
Upcoming shows include:
7/24/2015 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
8/01/2015 Pocono Folk Metal Fest – Stroudsburg, PA
Maryland doom/heavy rock statesmen Iron Man and Virginia’s energetic death-power metal upstarts have teamed up for an 11-city tour of destruction through New England and the Midwest that begins in Washington, DC on March 12. It’s a literal tour of death and doom. Get it? Anyway…. see cool tour poster below!
If you’ve been to a metal show at Northern Virginia’s Empire, you’ve likely caught Yesterday’s Saints melodic take on the genre hybrid, as they are one of the venues favorite opening bands. Followers of Maryland’s storied doom legacy should be well versed in Iron Man’s 25 year history and the crushing power of guitarist Alfred Morris III’s legendary riffs. Together this touring package will showcase the treasure trove of metal goodness bubbling up along the Baltimore/Washington corridor.
Iron Man continues to find favor with audiences and listeners since the late 2013 release of their fifth full-length album South of the Earth (Rise Above Records/Metal Blade). Yesterday’s Saints is touring in support of the February launch of their sophomore recording, the concept album Generation of Vipers (Draconum).
This tour is unusual and not likely to be repeated. Don’t miss out!
Iron Man with Yesterday’s Saint 2015 US tour dates:
3/12: Washington, DC @ The Pinch
3/13: Allentown, PA @ Jabber Jaws
3/14: Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
3/15: Brooklyn, NY @ The Paper Box
3/16: Providence, RI @ Dusk
3/17: Salem, MA @ Koto
3/18: Buffalo, NY @ Broadway Joe’s
3/19: Ft. Wayne, IN @ Skeletunes – formerly Berlin Music Pub
3/20: Detroit, MI @ The Sanctuary
3/21: Columbus, OH @ Ruby Tuesday Bar CLUB IS ON OSU CAMPUS
3/22: Dayton, OH @ Courtyard Lounge – Englewood
**3/27: Baltimore, MD @ The Sidebar Iron Man only with Savagist, Demon Eye, Foghound and Musket Hawk
Booking provided by Extremity Retained Booking.
The concept of the open-air heavy metal music and camping fest, so popular in Europe, seems to be a rarity in America. Organizers of Shadow Woods Metal Fest plan to change that with their inaugural fest happening Sept 25-27, 2015 in Fannettsburg, Pennsylvania.
Shadow Woods Metal Fest features lead performances from Midnight, Falls of Rauros, Occultation, Menace Ruine, Velnias, Wormreich, Iron Man, Anagnorisis, The Flight of Sleipnir, Stone Breath and 24 other acts. Ninety early-bird weekend passes go on sale February 12 at noon for $82. After this initial sale, the remaining tickets will be $92. The fest showcases bands on two alternating stages all day Friday and Saturday. Workshops on topics such as runes, guitar maintenance, yoga and more will be offered and are included in the ticket price. Artists and record labels will be vending alongside several onsite food stands. Shadow Woods Metal Fest is BYOB and age restricted to 21+. Only 350 tickets will be sold. Get tickets here.
For our end of the year effort, Derek and I recorded a really funny best of albums for 2014 podcast. Then I immediately lost the audio file. Thanks technology!
Anyway, we still wanted to share our countdown of best 14 albums for 2014. So here are our lists in narrative form! We can come to your house and read it aloud to you if you want that podcast effect, but it won’t be the same. You will miss all our impeccable comedic timing, giggling and all drinks we consumed.
Anyway, here goes. There is some overlap but not much. Mary’s picks are labeled (M) and Derek’s picks are labeled (D). Not surprisingly my list skews heavily toward black metal and his skews toward doom. We hope you will discover some new music here that isn’t on other website’s best of lists.
Barbelith – Mirror Unveiled (M)
Barbelith is what I call New Wave of 21st Century American Blackened Metal. Influenced by both noise and post-rock, this Baltimore-based outfit is pioneering a path of blackened metal style music, at which Deafheaven have failed miserably. Inwardly focused lyrics and highly melodic, this album was a joy to listen to from beginning to end. Lush atmospheric sections interwoven with harsh blistering passages will give you goosebumps and send your spirit soaring. https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/mirror-unveiled
Coffinworm – IV.I.VIII (D)
I don’t know what to say about Coffinworm. They defy my attempts to lazily classify them. All I know is this album feels like a warning that some catastrophically huge beast is coming to devour us, but that it will be completely indifferent or perhaps even unaware of our existence as it does so. https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/iv-i-viii
PACT – The Infernal Hierarchies Penetrating the Threshold of Night (M)
For more traditional USBM, you can’t go wrong with PACT of Erie, PA. Unfortunately in November, PACT split up with vocalist Hag joining Kult ov Azazel and the remaining members forming Pact Infernal. Still, this final collection shows that US true black metal can simultaneously sound fresh and also that it was written decades ago in a Scandinavian country. From the beginning chords to the final refrain, this album is aggressive and powerful with excellent production (sorry black metal elitists) and engaging songwriting.
Yob – Clearing the Path to Ascend (D)
An appropriate title for such a transcendent work. Mike Scheidt’s style is distinctive enough to pick out within a few chords. This is him doing what he always does, only better.
Abazagorath – The Satanic Verses (M)
Another strong contender for best in USBM, the longstanding Abazagorath of New Jersey has surpassed their previous and excellent efforts with this album. Production here is somewhat raw, with vocals searing their way into the listener’s skull. It grabs you by throat and throttles you until the bitter end. Snarling, growling. One of American’s best true black metal bands, hands down, and a beautiful album that bears all the trademark Abazagorath riffs and rhythms.
Midnight – No Mercy for Mayhem (D)
Like Motorhead, one of the band’s most obvious influences, Midnight doesn’t stray too far from their raucous signature sound from one album to the next. And, as with Motorhead, I have no problem with that whatsoever.
Myrkur – s/t (M)
New blackened metal needs a woman’s touch, and I love what Myrkur (Amelie Bruun) is doing in her self-titled album. Like the one-man black metal performers before her, this one-woman act lends her angelic voice to more traditional sounding melodic black metal melodies. She is an angel of darkness with clipped wings forced to ply her trade among mere mortals. Don’t think she is “trve” enough? Fuck off. There might not be anyone more “trve” coming out of Europe right now. Check out track 3, Må Du Brænde i Helvede (May You Burn in Hell).
Earth – Primitive and Deadly (D)
Earth has returned to form after a handful of floundering, lackluster releases. This is the first thing I’ve really dug since Hex. Here Dylan seems to be taking the best elements of each of Earth’s earlier eras and combining them into something new and truly exciting. Well, exciting for drone. You know what I mean.
YAITW – When Life Comes to Death (M)
YAITW (Young and In the Way) come to blackened metal via a hardcore approach. Are you feeling angry? YAITW is angrier. Do you hate someone? YAITW hates everyone. Every track here is filled with horrifying rage and provides the catharsis society desperately needs. Although they seem to find their way into black metal categorization, I still feel they belong in the hardcore camp due to the plaintive tone of Kable Lyall’s vocals and some of the obvious hardcore rhythms used. This does not affect my love for them. These songs are tight, memorable and invoke complete chaos.
Lord Mantis – Death Mask (D)
All I keep thinking is this album feels like a march, compelling you forward in spite of the pain. One that you keeps coming back to so you can do it all over again.
Mayhem – Esoteric Warfare (M)
Mayhem does not follow any rules of so called black metal on this album. The songs are complex and unhinged. At times they dip into experimental sound patterns that defy classification. Attila plays lets his vocals explore new territory. Loved every minute of it.
Pilgrim – II: Void Worship (D)
Clearly inspired by Reverend Bizarre as well as Gary Gygax, this is right proper Doom, here. Low and driving, dark and foreboding. All with amazing vocals throughout to guide you through the album’s mystical landscapes. A voice that even gave me a surprise emotional sucker-punch on the closing track.
Satanic Warmaster – Fimbulwinter (M)
The one-man black metal project Satanic Warmaster has put out an amazing album filled with fiery black metal riffage with a good dose of lovely acoustic interludes. The album even closes out with some melodic synth melodic black metal that I wish was part of a video game. 51 minutes of music that has been on repeat for me lately.
Bongripper – Miserable (D)
This is the perfect album for those times when you just want to kick back, relax, and get crushed under an enormous sonic bolder. With riffs like these who needs vocals? I cannot wait to witness these guys in person again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWi8PCFi6hg
Lord Mantis – Death Mask (M)
Lord Mantis is dirty, filthy, unfiltered American blackened metal. Band members have told me that Chicago is a horrible soul-raping city. If this music is a product of that environment, then I can believe them. Charlie Fell’s torturous vocals sound like he is pleading for his captors to please kill him and release him from his shitty existence in every song. Beautiful and terrifying. http://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/death-mask
Young and in the Way – When Life Comes to Death (D)
This band is serious business. The blend of black metal and hardcore doesn’t sit well with everyone, but it suits me just fine. The madness and violence here has been a very apt soundtrack to 2014. Fuck this life.
Black Anvil – Hail Death (M)
If you have ever listened to Black Anvil before, Hail Death may sound a bit foreign to you. But I think it represents the natural evolution of this band. It took me several listens to really appreciate it. Head-banging tunes and masterful black metal songwriting abound. Black Anvil is one of America’s best black metal bands, forever.
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2 (D)
A continuing collaboration that represents some of the best work from two independently accomplished artists. It’s fun to hear El-P play with braggadocios lyrics instead of the usual heavy, depressed New Yorker existentialism. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd1dTrFdZkA
Dead in the Manger – Transcience EP (M)
Despite what YouTube reports, Dead in the Manger is not from Sweden. Their members come from several sources and have chosen to remain anonymous. I have broken my own rule by including an EP in this list but who cares! You need to know about Dead in the Manger who bring together elements of black metal and grindcore to create something altogether sinister and infectious. Kind of like ebola for your ears.
Have a Nice Life – The Unnatural World (D)
A cold and indulgent Joy Division inspired release that’s in danger of ousting Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s I See a Darkness as my go-to sulk album.
Taake – Stridens Hus (M)
As with previous Taake albums, this collection of songs sounds a little rough in production and a little musically disorganized. These are not bad things to me because they keep the listener on their aural toes. Hoest has a way of finding musically satisfying riffs from metal and rock and constructing them into songs that ultimately have purpose. Since everything is in Norwegian, I have no clue what the songs are about but assume they are something terrible. The album begins with little fanfare blazing through one song after another and then ending as abruptly as it started, all the while showcasting the trademark flamboyant guitar work inherent in every Taake song.
Thou – Heathen (D)
Both bold new directions and true to what they’ve always been. There is an exploration of range here that makes the experience even more crushing.
YOB – Clearing the Path to Ascend (M)
This is a YOB album. Therefore it is good. I love Mike Scheidt’s vocals too. I will defer to Derek’s previous description for all other points of commentary on this fine work.
Trap Them – Blissfucker (D)
Easily my most anticipated album of the year. Blissfucker is a worthy followup to 2011’s flawless Darker Handcraft. And just like its predecessor, the only reason this one ever leaves my car stereo is because I get worried I’ll burn out on these guys. But there’s been no indication that that’s even possible.
Fortress – Unto the Nothing (M)
Everyone knows I hate most doom I hear, but this is most definitely a doom album. Hey, this is my list and I can do what I want. Grindingly slow, meant to be played loudly, Fortress opens up a portal to hell with this debut. Chaz Campbell’s vocals will drive you to madness. There’s a Crosby, Stills and Nash cover. I dare you to listen to it.
Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden (D)
Gather ’round children. It’s time once again to contemplate some big-picture hopelessness and futility with Pallbearer! Turns out my concerns that they’d be unable to top the heights of Sorrow and Extinction were unfounded.
Abysmal Dawn – Obsolescence (M)
Technical death metal can be a narcissistic wank fest. But Abysmal Dawn does it just right. In terms of “technical death metal” this is the best you are going to get. In terms of metal in general, Obsolescence offers memorable riffs that make you want to hit repeat. The songs and lyrics are filled with an overall delicious aggression that you must sink your teeth into. Perfection. http://youtu.be/evsCobSLyOg
Mantar – Death by Burning (D)
Not only the album I listened to the most this year, but often several times in a row. I’ve had a lot of different reactions to the music on this list. This is the one that makes me want to get up and fight.
Friday, Dec. 5 Metallomusikum hosts a Krampusnacht concert of black metal blasphemy at The Sidebar. Bands include Dweller in the Valley (Frederick, MD); Ravn (Richmond, VA); Death Shroud (Radford, VA), Archael (Fredericksburg, VA) and Athame (Hagerstown, MD/Falling Waters WV). Check out the event page here.
Don’t know what a Krampus is? Perhaps you don’t really want to know.
Krampus is a pre-Xian era concept of a goat-like beast that has become known as an entity that punishes bad children. When the Xians came along, they turned him into the sidekick of St. Nicholas. Children who were good got presents. Bad children were beaten with a birch branch and stuffed into a sack and taken off to who-knows-where. In heathen times the Krampus may have been a symbol for an initiation rite. Perhaps today’s youth could use a good dose of Krampus fear in their lives.
The legend of Krampus pervades in many forms throughout Europe, and it is starting to catch on in the US, which of course turned it into an excuse to drink and run through the streets. There are some more pagan-style Krampus celebrations, such as the Krampuslauf in Philadelphia. For the most part though, I think Americans see it as a chance for second-Halloween.
Either way, the bands playing Krampusnacht are the best at what they do or I would not have booked them for my little Xmas Devil gathering. Check out some tunes below and make your way to 218 E. Lexington St. Baltimore by 8 p.m. on Friday. If you don’t, you-know-who will be waiting in the alley with a sack to carry you off.