Reviews and Interviews: What would you like to see?

I have been so immersed in doing shows and planning Shadow Woods Metal Fest that I have really let my writing on this blog slip! I should not let something that’s been going fairly well for almost 6 years fall by the wayside! Find me more hours in the day!

I would like to do some more reviews and especially interviews with people you will be interested in hearing from. I have PLENTY of ideas but am open to yours as well.  I won’t tell you what to listen to, just my overall impressions. Everyone likes what they like. Also for my interviews, I hope to move beyond the typical questions. I would hope that 35 years (yes, actually) working as a journalist and writer had taught me that at least.

Send me a message either here or through my Facebook page and tell me what you want to read about?

In the meantime, look for these album reviews in the near future:

Craft: White Noise Black Metal

Soliloquium: Contemplations

Torii: A Judgement Divine

Obscura: Diluvium



Völur, 1476 and Jerome Deppe set to slay The Depot March 6.

Coming up Tuesday, March 6 at The Depot, 1728 N. Charles St. Baltimore. Doors at 7pm; music at 8pm. $10.

1476: New England’s +1476+ creates dark, atmospheric, album-oriented music that draws upon elements of many genres including metal, punk, neofolk, and ambient. They harbor an energy & mood that reflects the environment of the old, haunting landscapes of New England’s coastal regions as well as their spiritual/philosophical interests and practices. As a two-piece, they are completely self-contained — writing, recording and releasing their albums & EPs through their own imprint and studio, Seraphim House. As of 2016, +1476+ has the honor of working with Germany’s Prophecy Productions.
Völur: Drawing from folk melodies, heathen spirituality, and trance-inducing doom, Völur weaves a hypnotic web of chthonic noise on the yawning gap of silence. A deep sound that moves through melodies, riffs, and timbres slowly as a seeress chants rites for souls long past.
Jerome Deppe/Miss Elizabeth’s All-Girl Band: Performing intense, melancholic acoustic based neo-rock, Deppe and his band are one of Baltimore’s hidden musical treasures that Shadow Woods Productions is pleased to present once again to the extreme musical landscape. It’s not metal, but it will still shred your soul.

Facebook Event page.


Godthrymm: A Grand Reclamation

When a band calls itself "epic doom metal" that kind of sets the listener up for what might come. Musically the UK’s Godthrymm is pretty epic and has a lot of great "invisible orange" moments. Heavy riffs, building tension in the rhythm section, aggressive melodies that simultaneously remind me of Bolt Thrower AND Candlemass But man, those vocals threw me off and were a real buzz kill. Is it James Hetfield? Was this guy in a Creed tribute band? Just not my cup of tea. According to the press release, this debut EP includes current and former members of MY DYING BRIDE, VALLENFYRE, SOLSTICE, MALEDICTION and ANATHEMA and will be out March 16. I hate having to pay attention to pedigrees, but I know people like those bands.This kind of stuff is generally not my favorite subgenre of metal, so consider that in this evaluation.

#doom #clawhammerpr #hottakes #reviews

Arbitrary rating 5.4/10.0

Affasia: Adrift in Remose

Vast, melodic and slightly gothic, Affasia’s album "Adrift in Remorse" grabbed me right away, it has elements that might appeal to folks who dig epic death doom, but the blend of growling and clean vocals moves it away from more depressive bands like Evoken.The music itself is more on the post-metal side of things. Some elements remind me of Tool. The bass line chugs along nicely, while a keyboard twinkles above and even some blues tinged riffs flow through the middle. The music is emotional and driven but not sappy or overly sentimental. The band is from Richmond and I wish I’d heard of them before now. Look them up on Facebook. The record comes out on their label Transcending.

Arbitrary Rating: 7.5/10.0

Keeping up with music reviews

I receive dozens of records to review very week. And for a while I tried to pick a few to do a thorough review. But I got so far behind. So no more. From now on, it’s gonna be hot take reviews from me. I can’t guarantee how many I will get to but it will be more than in the past. In the meantime, don’t forget to….

Shadow Woods returns; moves to Virginia


The 2017 Shadow Woods crew. Photo by Alix Vallecillo


Shadow Woods Metal Fest enjoyed three wonderful years on our property at Camp Hidden Valley in Harford County Maryland. But as we all know, the only thing constant in this world is change. The property owner decided to retire and sell. So we decided to just call it a day and say three was good and move on.

But the community that has arisen around the fest is strong and would not let the fest die. Before the end of 2017, more than $5,000 was raised in a quiet campaign to keep the fest going. A search was launched to find a new venue and after many emails, phone calls, boarding meetings, presentations and site visits a new home for the fest was found.

We are moving to Virginia. 

Our dates for 2018 are Thursday Sept 20 through Saturday Sept 22 at the Harpers Ferry Adventure Center. So mark the days on your calendar and ask off from work, Shadow Woods is back, and it’s going to be weirder than ever.

An updated Shadow Woods Metal Fest website is in the works:

Follow announcements on our Facebook page.

And we have Instagram.

We  have a Twitter



SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST: Lord Almighty Joins Lineup; Festival Merch Designs Announced

GENERAL_SWMF LOGO  (66x18)-4SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST, Maryland’s open-air metal camping party, announces that Boston black metallers Lord Almighty will join the lineup this Fall. Other newcomers to the fest include Germany’s sludge masters, Mantar, North Dakota’s eerie Ghost Bath, Canada’s frosty Numenorean, who opens the fest on Thursday September 15th, and New Jersey’s Iberian folk-metalists Windfaerer, who play Saturday.

The three-day event continues through the morning of Sunday, September 18th at Camp Hidden Valley, in White Hall, Maryland, about thirty miles north of Baltimore. Now in its second year, SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST strives to showcase the best in underground metal from diverse subgenres, on three stages at the same charming summer camp where the fest was held previously.

“Lord Almighty has a raw, fresh approach to black metal,” says festival organizer Mary Spiro of Woods Productions LLC. “They display both aggression and beauty when they perform, and we are super stoked to have them!” Lord Almighty replaces Chicago’s Empyreus on Saturday night.

Friday night headliners include Brooklyn’s post black metal pillagers Tombs, Mongolian folk metal warriors Tengger Cavalry, Detroit’s horror-death conjurers Acid Witch, and a special reunion performance from Philly’s blackened doom two-piece Sadgiqacea. Saturday headliners include black-thrash alchemists Blood Storm, Pennsylvania death metal stalwarts Sadistic Vision, Maryland’s doom metal godfather Scott “Wino” Weinrich with friends from Faith In Jane, and Long Island ritualists Teloch Vovin. The fest will close with the return of Maine’s black metal-blues shredders Zud.

Other performance highlights this year include blackened space-rock duo Lotus Thief from San Francisco, which features drummer Otrebor of Botanist, and Colorado’s Helleborus, powered by the Houseman brothers (Akhenaten; ex-Execration), who specialize in psychedelic black metal tinged with sexual mysticism. The complete lineup (listed below) displays some of the most innovative and surprising acts in the metal underground.

This year’s festival merch designs include the ghostly twins created by Brian Sheehan of Legerdemain and Maryland’s own cryptid, the Goat Man, as illustrated by Fred Grabosky (FTG Illustrations). The twins appear on the band shirt and the goat man will appear on a t-shirt, hoodie and a limited edition silk-screened art print. Legerdemain’s work, which has been featured on Cvlt Nation, uses manipulation of original and vintage photography to create is ghastly images. FTG Illustrations are hand-drawn creations have been used by Yob, Heavy Temple and Brimming Horn Meadery, among others. Both created art for Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2015. SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST merch can be preordered for pickup at the fest RIGHT HERE.

Marketplace vendors include record label Season Of Mist, Crucial Blast, Anthropic Records, and festival co-producers Grimoire Records, the Baltimore-based hybrid recording and distribution label who have several bands featured on the fest. Other vendors include original artworks and handcrafted items from Alleged Candles, Barnacle Bones Bindery, The Dark Arts Collective, Fiber Party knitted art; FTG Illustrations, Necronomicharm jewelry, Runk the Skunk Jewelry, Dylan Garrett Smith, and Mt. Vernon Body Art. During the festival, Fiber Party will conduct a silent auction of a one-of-a-kind, hand-knitted Shadow Woods themed shawl. The shawl took five months to complete and is comprised of 100% Peruvian Highland Wool. Proceeds will be split 50/50 with the creator and the fest.

Food vendors this year include Baltimore-area coffee mavens Zeke’s Coffee, Headbangin’ Hotdogs (vegan), pit beef, and other festival specialties from Pond View Farms and new vendor Funtastic Foods. Beer will be available for sale. Unlike last year, local laws have determined that the fest cannot be BYOB. Coolers will be checked.

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST was founded by Shadow Woods Productions, LLC and is produced through the work of many volunteers putting in countless hours of work. Promotional help comes from partners in Lokvlt Productions out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Leftover Pizza Productions from Frederick, Maryland, as well as Washington, DC area metal hype-machine LCnK Promotions and online metal blog Metal Junkie Zine.

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST is 21+. Weekend Passes are available for $130 at Tent camping is included with the weekend pass. People who want to reserve cabin beds can do so for an additional $20 for the duration of the fest. Only 400 weekend passes will be available. Single-day passes are now on sale.

Set times for Shadow Woods Metal Fest!

Now that single day tickets are available to Shadow Woods Metal Fest, It makes since to post the set times. Check out these lovely charts detailing all the activities designed by Brian Sheehan. Come out to probably the only edition of this fest ever, just 30 minutes north of Baltimore. It would be dumb if you missed it. Really, it would.

You can get tickets here and the event page on Facebook is here. Tickets are only available in advance, no gate sales. There are weekend and day passes. Food vendors on site to keep your tummy full. BYOB for the drinks. This event is 21+.



How Facebook chokes out your personal posts

Recently, I conducted a very unscientific experiment on Facebook. At 1:14 a.m. Tuesday, July 28, I posted a simple message.



I didn’t post anything else on my wall for one week. I did, however, interact with other people’s posts, liked statuses and photos and I posted to my FB pages (I manage three). But my own personal profile page fell silent. During this time I started posting on Twitter. Not nearly as much as I had on Facebook but more than I usually do. I posted more personal stuff there than I had previously. One person asked where I went because they were used to seeing my posts show up in their feed.

At the end of the week, I took note of how much engagement my last personal post had had.
There were 383 likes. Of those likes, 45 of the people who saw the post are not my “friends” on Facebook. The post was public, so that shows you that whatever you post publicly really is seen by people who don’t interact with you.

The remaining 338 were likes from friends. In addition there were 23 comments made on the post, some coming from people who said they didn’t want to have to like the post. Such scofflaws! Anarchists! LOL. Anyway. Of those comments, 19 were unique and were not from me. So let’s add this to the 338, giving me 357 engagements. But 12 of the comments had also liked the status update, so let’s subtract those out giving a total of 345 unique engagements, either as a like or as a comment only, not both.

As of today I have 2,246 friends on Facebook. So a little more than 15% of my friend list engaged with this post. If I include the people who are not my friends, there was 17% engagement. As for the rest of my friend list, there are three possible reasons they did not hit like: 1) they have my feed muted; 2) the FB algorithm prevented the status from coming up in their feed; or 3) they saw it but didn’t feel like participating. I will never know the answers to these questions.

Why did I conduct this experiment? Because it is important to note that no matter how much we put out on social media, especially FB, we are only ever going to reach a very limited number of people. This is important for people who are trying to promote events or themselves or who are just looking to interact with friends. Not a lot of people see your stuff, and more than likely, the ones who do are the same handful of people that you engage with in real life.

If I had included a photo or link with my simple status, marketing studies have shown that more people see those posts. In fact, you could post a terribly sad status with a cute animal photo and get tons of likes from people who never bothered to read the words. This holds true whether you are posting on your personal profile or a page you manage.

So don’t be fooled. Your message only goes out to so many people, and more than likely it’s the people who already know what you have to say anyway. Facebook wants to you pay to reach more people. They choke out your posts and you get less engagement, just like they would on a page you manage. Facebook is a fraudulent representation of your actual engagement with humanity. Don’t let it get you down if only one or two people like your posts. It isn’t real.

My silent week on Facebook was nice. I had plenty of engagement, but I was much more outwardly focused, thinking and responding to other people’s statuses and photos and less about pushing out my own personal agenda, whatever that may be at the moment. I will probably do it more often. Enjoy your lives. Love in real life. Watch the videos below.

Shadow Woods Metal Fest: because nothing goes better with metal than camping

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!

Related Links:

Shadow Woods Metal Fest




Grimoire Records

Music for the Dead

Old Town Lutherie

Poison Apple Printshop

Runk the Skunk Jewelry

Crucial Blast

Salvation Distro

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