Monthly Archives: December 2012
|Radical Discharge – Photo M. Spiro|
Going back through my Google Calendar and my events list on Facebook caused so many concert memories to come rushing back from 2012. It looks as though I attended well over 60 music-related events this year—from large multi-day festivals to little bar shows. I even left the country for one show, something I have never done before. For another one, I took off from work in the middle of the week. Random.
Defining what qualifies as the “best” shows was difficult. Sometimes best meant that the show itself was great. Sometimes best meant that the venue or company I kept at the show was great. There were a few shows that were actually kind of bad for one reason but good for another. I tried to only list the ones that were both great musical events and also good times. I left out some very good ones, though.
|Primitive Weapons – Photo by M. Spiro|
Venue-wise I saw my first shows at Golden West and Rams Head OnStage and one of the last shows at Sonar before it imploded in upon itself. I spent the majority of my concert cash at shows at The Ottobar and Sonar. Hopefully the season pass I purchased to The Ottobar will be worth it. I also pray something decent is resurrected on the site of the old Sonar location. The Sidebar has added new lighting and I believe is in the process of upgrading their sound system, which together makes shows there more pleasurable. Some venues I did not visit at all this year. I did not see any shows at The Recher, Charm City Art Space, The Rock and Roll Hotel, The Howard Theatre or the 9:30 Club. Usually I go to the 9:30 Club a few times a year, but I was surprised to realize that I didn’t see a single show there in 2012! I hope to check out some new venues in 2013.
1. January 15 – Graveyard, Radio Moscow and Daniel Davies at Golden West, Baltimore. First show that I had seen at this restaurant that turns into a venue after 10 p.m. While the opener was nothing special, Radio Moscow and Graveyard were stellar. Also made some great new friends from the band Witch Hazel. Read previous write up here.
2. March 28 – Alcest, Deafheaven and Arbouretum at Golden West, Baltimore. Another great show at Golden West. Seeing Alcest was like witnessing some kind of black metal fairy tale unfold. More details on this show here.
|Martyrdöd – Photo by M. Spiro|
3. May 5 – Behemoth, Watain, The Devil’s Blood, In Solitude and Evoken at Rams Head Live, Baltimore. Every single one of these bands is amazing. Plus, I had a photo pass so was able to get up close for each band. Happy birthday to me.
|Nergal (Behemoth) – Photo by M. Spiro|
4. May 12 – All That Is Heavy 2 Fest at Mavericks Ottawa, Ontario, Canada with Blood Ceremony, Iron Man, Blizaro, Monobrow, Loviatar and Revelation. Since my husband is the drummer in Iron Man, it was kind of required that I tag along for this one. Hosted by Jennifer and Derek Bradshaw of the show Crossing Boredom on Ottawa’s radio station CKCU, this fest featured some of the best in Canadian and American doom. I fell in love with Blood Ceremony and Loviatar especially and I got to see some friends who live in the area who actually came out to the show! All around wonderful, it was a great time.
|Young And In The Way – Photo by M. Spiro|
5. May 22 – Meshuggah, Baroness and Decapitated at The Fillmore, Silver Spring. Meshuggah is always a life-changing experience. Pre-bus accident Baroness and Decapitated made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
6. May 24 to 27 – Maryland Deathfest X at Sonar, Baltimore. Highlights from this endurance festival of heavy metal included Agalloch, Absu, Negura Bunget, Hellbastard, the Devil’s Blood, Dragged Into Sunlight, Tsjuder, YOB, Demonical, Godflesh, Church of Misery and Ulcerate. What made this fest even more interesting was the fact that Hellbastard stayed with me for five days. FIVE DAYS! Friends for life.
7. June 2 – Marduk, 1349, Withered, Weapon and others at Sonar. There were a bunch of bands playing but I was most happy to see the ones I’ve listed here. Withered was a wonderful discovery, and I have never seen an entire room turn into mosh pit. Nowhere to run! Someone stomped on my foot and an attractive young man bought me a beer. Win!
|The Temper Trap – Photo by M. Spiro|
8. June 5 – The Temper Trap at Terminal 5 in New York City. This show was more for my daughter who loves this band but overall it remains one of my favorite concert memories of 2012. The Temper Trap are an intelligent pop band with great skills and a lot of energy. Opening bands were kind of funny and unmemorable but The Temper Trap erased all thoughts of them. Terminal 5 is a cool, spacious venue and you can see from everywhere, although we were right in the front. We had no problem walking back to our super cheap hotel on Times Square at 1 a.m. (about 1.3 miles) stopping halfway to eat a late meal at a diner. NYC is a pain in the ass to get to (we took the Megabus), but once you are there, it would be very VERY easy to never, ever leave.
9. July 4 – Black Breath, Martyrdöd, Enabler, Heaviness of the Load and others at Sonar. This show constituted my bachelorette party. (I got married July 7). I am aware that this is a very nontraditional event for a bachelorette party, but it was exactly what I wanted to do. I only had had two other official party members with me, but hearing the four bands I have listed above made for a perfect night. Someone even bought me a beer. Imagine that.
|Dick Dale – Photo by M. Spiro|
10. July 26 – Dick Dale at Rams Head on Stage, Annapolis, MD. Aside from the MDF four-day pass, this show was my most expensive. Why? I don’t know, because it was surf guitar legend Dick Dale and he might die soon? Maybe. He’s a wonderful performer, a bit of an egomaniac and definitely cranky when it gets past his bedtime, but I am glad I made the trip midweek to see him. I went alone (as I so often do) and sat at a table with strangers. Rams Head On Stage is an odd venue like that; they expect you to buy dinner, which I did. But I won’t regret seeing the man who perfected the tremolo guitar picking sound purloined by so many black metallers.
12. August 11–Ringworm, The Infamous … Gehenna, Young And In the Way, Oathbreaker ILSA and Eddie Brock at The Ottobar. No year is complete without a significant hardcore show. I had only previously seen YAITW (in Raleigh NC at the DIVE bar in January), but I had listened to them all. Hardcore is so much better live and on recording.
|Tyr – Photo by M. Spiro|
13. September 21 – Korpiklaani, Tyr, Moonsorrow, Metsatöll and others at Empire. I hate traveling to Northern Virginia for a show but gladly did so for this line up. I even took off from work. Just an amazing collection of Viking folk metal and superior musicianship. Good friends in tow were icing on the cake.
14. Sept 22 – Iron Man, Wrath of Typhon, Witch Hazel and Jason Barker at Wilcoms Inn, Ijamsville, MD. Wilcoms Inn is like a roadhouse. It’s a little honkytonk. But the chemistry between these bands performing live together is undeniable. Pure energy and heavy metal love fest.
15. October 19 – Pig Destroyer, Ilsa, Necropsy, Royal Thunder and Wargames at The Ottobar. Royal Thunder was an odd addition to this show, but I fell in love with them. Ilsa sounded better than I’d ever heard them before and Pig Destroyer’s performance featured lots of interesting guest appearances. My heart was warmed.
16. October 20 – Sus Domesticus, Sloth Herder and Horde of the Eclipse at Fat Cat Tattoo, Chambersburg, PA. Would you care for some black metal in the cold, unheated basement of a tattoo studio in south central Pennsylvania? Yes, please.
|Sus Domesticus – Photo M.Spiro|
17. November 6 – Deicide, Strong Intention, Extermination Angel, Existentium (Alhazred), Visceral Violation, March to Victory, and True Unholy Death at The Ottobar. I could think of no better way to spend my night of avoiding election results. And I developed a wee crush on Steve Asheim. Drummers: why do I love them so much?
18. November 14 – Torche, Radical Discharge, Iron Man, and Passage Between at The Ottobar, Baltimore. People warned me that Torche put on a great live show. It was so great, in fact, that I had the wind knocked out of me as I was thrown to the ground in the mosh pit. But it’s all good, all very, very good.
|Steve Asheim (Deicide) – Photo by M. Spiro|
19. November 20 – Atriarch, Wolfnuke, Night Sins and Ophidian at The Sidebar, Baltimore. I am not sure what Night Sins was doing but the other three groups on this bill were speaking my language. I loved Wolfnuke already, was just getting into Atriarch and am looking forward to hearing more from Ophidian in the future.
20. December 15 – Satan’s Unholy Abomination Fest at El Oasis, Baltimore. This was a great way to end 2012. See my full review of this show here.
|Black Witchery and me. Happy New Year. Photo by some friendly guy who was standing there!|
|Radamanthys support! (Photo by Mary Spiro)|
I am feeling pretty lazy today what with it being the end of the year and I am on vacation and not feeling 100 % metal for the last five weeks. However, I thought it would be a good thing to encourage you to get out there in 2013 and check out some of the talent we have here in the merry metal state of Maryland. Oh, I know it’s not all metal, but still, it should be.
I was going to write a nice little description of each band, you know, talk about the members and where they are from and what style they play. But again >lazy< so instead, I gave each group a semi-descriptive, sometimes sarcastic, categorization. I figure you can just click the link and check them out your own damn self. You will probably hate them.
But if you don’t hate them, go see these groups live because there really is nothing more satisfying than knowing that you did something to support your local music scene. Well maybe a nice plate of spaghetti is also satisfying. I think it’s lunch time.
Anyway, give a listen and give me some feedback. There are only 20 bands on this list, but there are many more groups out there. These are just some of the ones I saw and/or listened to this year that left an impression. Or in case of some of the live shows, they left a bruise.
1. We Lost the Map and are Now Being Threatened by Blackened Western Maryland Goatmen: Wolfnuke
2. Teased-up Blackened Death Thrash with Sunglasses Inside At Night: Extermination Angel
3. The Band Formerly Known as Alhazred That Still Plays Technical Death Metal: Existentium
4. Completely (Un)Intentionally Instrumental: Balor’s Eye
5. Sir, You are a Scholar and A Gentleman: Radamanthys
6. I Can’t Believe Adam Jarvis Could Play This Slowly: Asthma Castle
7. Indie/Alterna-Rock Something-er-other That Mother Might Not Approve Of: On Standby
8. Psyche-Doomy/Experimentally/ Jazz Rock That’s Way Too Cool For You: Whoarfrost
9. Too Young to Use Their Free Drink Tickets: Necropsy
11. I’m Going to Slit My Wrists. No Wait. I’m Fine: Barbelith
12. Post Rock Sludge with That Fat (b)Ass: At The Graves
13. Whee! I Took Too Much Meth: Witchhat
14. Our Beards Are Way Better Than Your Last Boyfriend’s: Arbouretum
15. All Death? No, just…: Part Death
16. We Like (the) Melvins and We Also Have Two Drummers: Heaviness of the Load
17. Robots, Aliens, Vikings and A Shared Fez: Admiral Browning
18. Don’t Make Me Try to Explain This Djent Thing to You Again: To The Ark
19. Somebody Get This Heavy Metal Up Off of Me, It’s Crushing My Soul!: Butcher’s Hill
20. I am Married to the Drummer, But Don’t Let That Influence You: Iron Man
I have been reading a lot of year-end best of album lists, so I suppose I should make my own list. Metallomusikum is nearly a year old; it’s due for that kind of thing.
Some of the “best of” lists I have found are ludicrous; like really, what were the writers thinking? I knew that Village Voice list was going to be a joke when it actually started with the sentence “It’s that time of year again.” That writer was phoning it in.
Some lists remind me about albums I missed that I should go back and listen to. I thought Pitchfork’s top 40 metal albums list was pretty good, albeit filled with bands all but the most astute (read: hipster) metal heads would be aware of. It was a good laundry list for me since it was longer than most out there.
With some of the lists, I wondered if the writer was just trying to stroke an ego or be charitable. You see a lot of people listing the same albums—the usual suspects. SPIN’s Top 20 list was a little bit like that, although the inclusion of bands like Enabler and Eagle Twin made me take it more seriously.
Well I have no one to answer to and no one to appease. I just calls it likes I sees it. So in the spirit of “it’s-that-time-of-year-again” and “as-if-my-opinion-mattered,” this is Metallomusikum’s first ever “HOLY SHIT” list for 2012. The criteria for an album to make this list are simple:
- It must be an album of new music, not a reissue, compilation or best of and not an EP or a demo. Sorry kids, come at me next year with your full length. (I reserve the right to make an exception to this rule especially in a lean year.)
- It must have been released between January 1-December 31 of the given year. Duh.
- It must cause me to declare “HOLY SHIT” at least three separate times during the course of listening to it. I will count them. One hit wonders will not get on this list.
- It must make my pupils dilate, my heart to race and the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up to create a physiological effect I like to call an “eargasm”.
Any genre is eligible. But y’all know what I mostly listen to. Still you might be surprised. There are some obvious items missing from this list. I did not want to repeat what everyone else was saying. There were a lot of really good albums put out this year, but I really wanted to bring you something different. The HOLY SHIT list items are special to my heart.
In compiling this list, I learned a little bit about myself. For one thing, I chose no “light hearted” music. Most of this stuff is pretty intense and serious. I would not characterize anything here as fun or rollicking. Heck, there’s not even any thrash in this list. But I think the list reflects me, at least where my head is at this point in my life. So here we go in no particular order:
This new effort from DIS has a completely different vibe from the group’s earlier Hatred for Mankind. In three movements, I think this album more deeply explores DIS repertoire of emotions better than their previous work did. There are many HOLY SHIT moments in Widowmaker, but I recommend listening to this recording in its entirety. I wrote a more complete review here.
2. Enslaved – RIITIIR
RIITIIR charges forth from the pit of Hades and slowly transformed into a collection of hymns. The lovely clean vocals of keyboardist Herbrand Larsen are featured in near duets now with the growls of Grutle Kjellson. Melody has overtaken the buzz of the tremolo riff. Some people have really criticized Enslaved for the way their sound has evolved and softened over time. I think they are moving closer and closer to their inspirations: Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Led Zeppelin, and I don’t see this as a bad thing. I love this group’s entire body of work and RIITIIR is just another chapter in that unfinished tome. Frankly, Enslaved could record a collection of their belches, and I would probably at least listen to it.
3. Abigail Williams – Becoming
This album came out at the beginning of the year eventually met with tons of critical acclaim. Did you forget about it? I didn’t. I reviewed it back in January here. It is still one of my favorite albums of the year and will probably be among my favorite albums of all time. This album represented a severe departure from the sound that Abigail Williams developed up to that point. If fact it was so different, I think there was pushback from some long-time fans of the group who did not know quite what to make of it. Yet others, like me, were completely delighted. Then the band broke up. Or maybe they didn’t ,and they will be back in 2013. Who cares really? Just listen to it.
4. Lord Mantis – Pervertor
Lord Mantis shares members with Nachtmystium, and both groups were touring together this fall. A live performance of Lord Mantis will turn your head around like an icy wind coming in off of Lake Michigan. There’s a lot of rage in this music, and I suppose there must be a lot of rage inside of me because I cannot stop listening to this record. Maybe this is the sound you get when you let the drummer from one band become the front man for another – it’s pure unadulterated venom and totally beautiful. I would go see them again in a second. Also, the cover art is delightfully disturbing.
5. Carach Angren – Where the Corpses Sink
Carach Angren makes concept albums that could (and should) be turned into movies or better yet, theatrical stage productions. I never tire of their gruesome stories set to the most grandiose symphonic black metal you could imagine. They are also one of the few bands I don’t mind wearing corpse paint. I can listen to individual songs, but mostly I want to just start the thing from the beginning and geek out like my friends who bliss out listening to the soundtrack of Cats. Carach Angren write “musicals” fit for the king of underworld, which makes them infinitely better than anything Andrew Lloyd Webber could come up with.
6. Nile – At the Gate of Sethu
Why do these guys keep making Egyptian-themed technical death metal? Why do I keep listening to it? Why is that even a thing? I don’t know, but I love it despite the fact that being fascinated by pyramids and hieroglyphics and sarcophagi fell out of fashion decades ago. I am pretty sure that my love of Nile is grounded in my admiration for guitarist Karl Sanders, whom I would probably fall to my knees and worship in an embarrassing Wayne’s World kind of way if I ever met in person. I would probably act foolishly in front of George Kollias as well.
7. Car Bomb – w^w^^w^w
I first encountered Car Bomb through their documentary “Why You Do This,” a self produced documentary about the band touring across the country in a broken down van and getting ripped off by venues and promoters. I didn’t get a good sense of the band’s music from the movie, just that life of a touring musician was hard and mostly not worth it. I had not actually thought much about Car Bomb until I saw they had not given up but had persevered and released a new album that even featured the vocals of Gojira’s Joe Duplantier. Car Bomb probably classifies a “core-something” band. The music is extremely experimental and makes it onto my HOLY SHIT list mostly for its intoxicatingly innovative approach and extreme honesty. I chose Car Bomb over more obvious top choices like Pig Destroyer’s Book Burner and Meshuggah’s Koloss. I love both of those aforementioned albums, but Car Bomb pushed boundaries that made me sit down and question what music even was. It’s not an easy album to listen to but definitely has its eargasm inducing moments
8. God Seed – I Begin
From start to finish, there is nothing I do not love about this studio recording from God Seed, a band comprised of former Gorgorothians Gaahl and King ov Hell and a rotating crew of other super star performers such as Enslaved’s Ice Dale and Dimmu Borgir’s keyboardist Geir Bratland. In some ways, God Seed probably sounds like what Gaahl might have wanted to do with Gorgoroth had things with Infernus panned out differently. But all’s well that end’s well I say. God Seed imbues everything with epic melody, soaring vocals, wondrous keyboards and enough malevolence to make this an album worth numerous HOLY SHITs. I think critics are skipping it for no reason but this thing rocks.
9. A Forest of Stars – Shadowplay for Yesterdays
Another entry into the realm of the excessively theatrical, A Forest of Stars takes all the edgy rawness that I love about black metal, and mixes in storytelling, prog-rock complexity and maybe some Jethro Tull-like folk elements to create a masterpiece. Each mesmerizing song is composed with layers of richness and melancholy. This group not only deserves recognition, I say they ought to command it. I feel they are being overlooked because they cross so many boundaries and can’t be neatly categorized. Pop this recording on the next time you have a long car trip and don’t be surprised if you find yourself completely unaware of your surroundings.
10. Darsombra – Climax Community
I have not done any drugs in a long time. Back in the day, however, I dropped some acid and smoked a little weed. I could understand why one might feel compelled to partake in such things to enhance the experience of avant-garde psych rock guitarist Darsombra/Brian Daniloski. With Climax Community, I see no need—the music alone is capable of moving you into a transcendent plane of existence. A soloist, Brian’s compositions are masterful and beautifully executed, drawing upon metal, jazz, post-rock and with exotic scales and rhythms. Add to these aural hallucinations Ann Everton’s cinematic visualizations, which you can access with a password on Vimeo, and you have 75 minutes worth of drug-free HOLY SHITs guaranteed to keep you mentally high for a long time.
OK, that’s it for this year. I invite your comments and feedback below. Tell me about your favorite albums.
Washington, DC area pianist Al Baes knows the challenges of the gigging musician. He has been playing classical music since he was five, studied jazz at the University of Maryland College Park, has played around the DC area for more than two decades and is the keyboardist for the R&B jazz group Soul-Rhythm.
“One of my most memorable performance on stage that I had the pleasure to jam with was the group, Heatwave. This was back in 1997 in Virginia. We did their popular tune “Always and Forever.” They had happened to drop by a nightclub where I was performing with my band,” Baes recalls.
This holiday season, Baes is trying something new.
On Sunday, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. Baes will play on a virtual performance platform called StageIt. With StageIt, performers set a date and time for their show and sell tickets to a one-time-only event. All a fan needs to do is buy a ticket and log on at the appointed time. Performances are not archived; they happen once, just like a show you would travel to attend. StageIt also allows concert viewers to tip the performers during the show, using a credit card or PayPal account. Any type of musical genre is welcome.
“I only discovered StageIt a couple of weeks ago and thought of just trying it out,” said Baes. “Actually this first performance is just an experiment. I am just trying to see how it goes.”
Baes says his show “A Paradise Experience” will be short– just 30 minutes — and “will consist of some of my own original material which I use in piano lounge settings. I am also bringing some cover tunes as well.”
In the spirit of the holidays, Baes has decided to donate any proceeds from Saturday night’s performance.
“Since the StageIt broadcast service requires payment from viewers, and since my objective is not to make money from this, I decided to forward the funds to a charitable entity, DC Central Kitchen. Viewers can pay what they can using a credit card or debit card.”
What does he think about a virtual concert venue?
“I think this online broadcast service is a great idea especially since it’s really hard for musicians to find venues to perform their music, and also (it gives you) the opportunity to gain exposure and to promote (your) material.”
Some of Baes’ favorite musicians include Al Jarreau, Joe Sample, Bobby Caldwell, Anita Baker, Quincy Jones, and Grover Washington Jr. They are likely to influence his performance on Sunday.
To attend “A Paradise Experience” on Sunday night, follow this link.
To view Baes’ profile in StageIt go to this link.
The Facebook event page for this show is at this link.