Monthly Archives: July 2013

Strange tourfellows: Skeletonwitch and Ghost B.C.

Well, it’s finally happened. I finally saw Ghost (B.C.)  And I blame it all on Skeletonwitch.

Ghost and Skeletonwitch made a stop at Rams Head Live on July 29 during a five city mini tour that grew out of the fact that the bands would cross paths on their ways to other places. Skeletonwitch are wrapping up a headlining tour across North America on their way back home to Ohio. Ghost, who hail from Sweden (by way of Hell), are making a few stops on their way to Chicago to play Lollapalooza. These two sharing a stage seemed like strange bedfellows musically, and I kind of didn’t want to miss it. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to go to every show that catches my eye, but thanks to the kind gentlemen in Skeletonwitch (specifically their official band spokesman Scott Hedrick) and the gracious folks at Prosthetic Records, I was able to go to the show and get a photo pit pass.

Everyone I know who is into metal seems to have an opinion about Ghost, and I am no exception. Ghost erupted onto the scene in late 2010 with their debut EP Opus Eponymous. These musicians didn’t come from nothing and no where, however. Ghost is reportedly composed of members of the two Swedish bands: synthrockers Magna Carta Cartel and death metallers Repugnant. They hide their identities. That’s part of their schtick. I get it. I’m willing to go along with the joke. (Hey, I love Dragged Into Sunlight, and I have no problem with them downplaying their identities.)

Ghost seems to engender a lot of strong reaction from listeners. Some hate them and say they are false, posers, manufactured etc. Some love them to the point of near fanaticism, as was evidenced by the handful of Nameless Ghoul wannabes who attended Monday’s show in costume.  Me, I just fail to succumb to the hype and certainly never thought of Ghost as metal, but I gave them a listen anyway.

Admittedly, Ghost’s tunes are catchy, easy to sing along with and danceable. Papa Emeritus’ vocals are sweet and almost soothing. Overall, it’s similar to a lot of popular rock. Muse or The Postal Service come to mind except with heavier guitars and more minor chords and more Satan. I have settled on the humorous faux subgenre of Satanic yachtrock to describe them.

But I kept hearing that Ghost’s live show was really great and that I should not write them off without seeing them in person. My stance in situations like this is simple: I like what I like, and I don’t have to give everything that seems almost universally accepted “a chance” just because people think I am somehow defective for not liking what they like. I reserve the right to reject a band without seeing their live show. But here I was, getting ready to see Ghost live.

Now, let me say something about Skeletonwitch, who have spent the last 10+ years building their fan base, slogging around in stinky vans, playing little clubs for whoever would listen. A strong constituency at Rams Head Monday night was primarily there to see Skeletonwitch, which made me happy.

I have seen Skeletonwitch three times now, and each time I like them more. My favorite show was a headlining performance at The Ottobar, because I think they relate well to a smaller crowds. Their guitarists shred, their rhythm section crushes, and Chance Garnette has one of the most evil sounding voices I’ve ever heard. He provides a black metal style of vocal that slices like a razor though a sweet double layer cake of death metal and thrash.

Skeletonwitch worked the larger room well and got the crowd whipped up enough to have some respectable crowd surfing going on. Since the upper levels of Rams Head were blocked off, the 600 or so attendees were forced into the smaller floor area in front of the stage. lending a more intimate feeling to the setting. They cruised through 11 songs, something from each of their four recordings and one new song from their forthcoming album, Serpents Unleashed, that was called “Burned From Bone.” The new album drops in October.

Skeletonwitch played for only 35 minutes, which was not long enough in my opinion. This show was going to get me home early!

I don’t know what I was expecting when Ghost finally took the stage. Smoke, fire? I don’t know. The last show I shot at Rams Head was Behemoth, Watain, The Devil’s Blood and In Solitude.  I am not sure anything could have prepared me for Watain live. There’s nothing to compare it to. Nergal and Behemoth command the stage masterfully. Even TDB is compelling live and, of course, blood soaked.

But the Nameless Ghouls just quietly strolled onto the stage and waited for their leader to arrive. You can’t see their faces so you don’t know if they are happy or sad or indifferent about being there.  After some build-up, Papa Emeritus II  took the stage with little pomp, though the crowd provided enough enthusiasm to make his entrance significant.

When I look at Ghost, mostly what I see is something kind of Halloween-ish. Something like the band that would play in a live-action Scooby Doo movie and turn out to be the bad guy gardener and his tricky henchmen. To me it is costume-shop theatrics framing well executed. but not very exciting, music. For comparison, KISS uses theatrics and costumes, but I am willing to listen to KISS without having to look at them. That is not the case with Ghost, at least not for me. The show’s the thing.

You see, there is something captivating about watching a grown man in an elaborate Pope/Skeletor outfit leading the audience in a Latin sing-a-long.  And, I did find my self head-bobbing along with their now familiar songs. After my three songs for shooting in the photo pit ended, I joined friends at the bar and watched the rest of the Ghost show near the Skeletonwitch merch table. At one point during the song “Year Zero”, I ended up doing a kind of hilariously fun Pulp Fiction-esque dance routine with a high schooler. But then again, I will dance to Carpathian Forest and Arckanum, and I don’t care who is watching (and laughing at me). I wished I could have understood some of Papa E.’s stage banter, but from where I was the sound was not clear and people were talking. A few folks were inspired to crowd surf, but that seemed rather unnecessary. And the shouts of “Hail Satan” from the audience were pretty funny.  I am sure the members of Ghost are also chuckling to themselves about that, all the way to the bank.

The bottom line about the evening is that I was highly entertained by both groups for completely different reasons. Skeletonwitch always puts forth 10,000 percent and delivered a satisfying performance for the headbangers with such musical integrity that you could feel it in your gut. And Ghost delivered a satisfyingly lighthearted performance that was fun and surprisingly warm, despite the Luciferian overtones. I can’t deny that I was touched by the fact that Papa E. reached out and took a fan by the hand. I am sure that person felt extremely blessed. In summary,  I didn’t hate Ghost, but I spent my merch dollars at the Skeletonwitch table. To each, her own I suppose.

Here are some of my best shots and a couple of videos. Enjoy.


ZUD: black and roll from Maine

ImageToday, I am listening to ZUD, a blackened rock and roll outfit from some remote location in Maine that I have never heard of.  They just self-released an album, The Good, The Bad and The Damned. The fact that I saw Skeletonwitch last night has made me want to seek out others who use a black metal vocal with another type of metal genre.

The title of this album is kind of boring, honestly, but the music is not. It’s good ol’ rock and roll with a black metal edge. Shreddy guitars, relentless drumming, insanely evil vocals. There are lots of bands out there that attempt this hybrid. Vreid, Carpathian Forest and Negative Plane come to mind. ZUD does a great job of blending those raw black metal vocals with straightforward rock and roll. This is music designed for driving your motorcycle fast and ditching your enemies in the dust.

I am looking forward to hearing what the rest of this record sounds like.  Check ’em out here.

Abazagorath rekindling the black flame of American black metal

Although many look to Scandinavia for “trve” black metal, the Americas have always played a role in the propagation of this extreme musical subgenre.  Abazagorath, from New Jersery, have reigned as pioneers of the USBM aesthetic  since 1995. Hey, New Jersey is not frostbitten, but it certainly can be very grim.

Over the years, Abazagorath (which I believe is pronounced Ah-BAZ-ah-goh-rahth) has remained close to their satanic roots, keeping alive themes noted in their public biography:  “war, melancholy, darkness, evil, the occult and death.” They eschew the pagan or shoegaze-y approach that many so-called American black or “blackened” bands seem to be using these days,  and that’s a good thing. There is nothing more satisfying to my ears than the pure, unadulterated sound of raw, unrestrained hatred channelled into musical form. Abazagorath is visceral. Even some of the more melodic passages of their songs are hate-filled.

abaz-logoLast fall, the group put out a five song self-titled EP which you can listen to/buy on BandCamp here. Prior to that, they had three songs on a split with Blood Storm. But their last full-length album has not been since Sacraments of the Final Atrocity in 2004. Abazagorath is about to change that with a new album, The Satanic Verses, on Negativity Records out this fall. They claim this new recording “may deliver their most controversial and blasphemous release yet.”

I interviewed Warhead, drummer and vocalist for Abazagorath, via email. Below is the transcript of that Q & A.  Come see Abazagorath in Wheaton, Md. on Saturday, Aug 24 at Sergio’s Place, where they will be performing with Isenblast, Nachzehrer, Haethen and Death Shroud.  Facebook event page is here. They also have other dates this fall such as Philly, Chicago, Boston and others, so it is best to check their Facebook page for the specifics on those shows.

What is the current lineup of Abazagorath?

The demonic entities known as Abazagorath consist of Warhead (drums, vocals) Maelstrom (guitar, vocals and studio bass) Ciemnosc (guitar, synths and studio bass).

Tell me about your song writing process.

Well, the last two recordings Maelstrom demoed the music with a drum machine and sent it to me. I would then listen to it, and play to the music through headphones adding my own drum style and Warhead flavor. Ciemnosc was then taught the material and given free range to add harmonies, solos, etc. Once everyone knew what they were playing, we would then begin our live rehearsals getting the material tight and ready to record.

What is your opinion of the current state of black metal in the world and also specifically in the US? For example, who do you admire/respect among the American black metal bands?

I believe nowadays that we are over saturated with a lot of bands claiming to be black metal. I hear a lot of garbage being released from people’s home computers that just sucks. I have also seen some local bands caring more about dressing up rather than the actual music (which pisses me off). With that being said, there are some newer bands I do enjoy such as Nachzehrer, Abysmal Gates, Ptahil, One Master, Haethen, Ritual Chamber and Dethroned Emperor to name a few. When I first started Abazagorath there were only a handful of USBM bands so I respect all my old school war brothers and sisters who have been at it as long as me such as Absu, Bloodstorm, Krieg, Demoncy, Kult Ov Azazel, Famine, Inquisition, Summon,Manticore, Grand Belials Key, Teratism, Necrovore, Demonic Christ, Engorge, Black Witchery, Judas Iscariot, Krohm and Nachtmystium.

What is your opinion of the trend in what some are calling “hipster black metal” that includes bands like Liturgy or Deafheaven (who are getting a lot of attention right now)?

Here is my opinion, I don’t give a fuck. My goal is to keep Abazagorath running at full potential and keep putting out releases each one better than the next. I have no time to worry about what attention other bands are getting. The true diehards know what USBM is. (Several who are from MD\VA area and always shown Abazagorath support).

From your discography, which recording (EP or full length or whatever) are you most proud of and why?

Honestly, I am proud of every single release Abazagorath has put out over the years. I started this band because when I began playing music I wanted to create something I wanted to hear, luckily every member who has been part of this disease known as Abazagorath has agreed. So each release is a combination of each member’s feelings at that time.

You only have two full-lengths to your credit. What are your plans for another full-length recording? And what label will you be on?

True we only have two full lengths to our credit, but we have released numerous EP’S and splits throughout our entire career.10 brand new hymns have just been recorded and are being mixed as we speak. Entitled “The Satanic Verses” this may be our most controversial and blasphemous release yet due out later this year on Negativity Records. An epic concept album based on the satanic temptation of the Islamic prophet Mohammad. (Writer’s note: Warhead is specifically referring to the Salman Rushdie book by the same name.)

Where do you go for musical inspiration? For example, do you get ideas from books, movies, other styles of music etc.?

Previous releases were definitely inspired by books and movies, but I always go back to my old school roots for musical inspiration with bands like Kreator, Sodom, Venom, Death, Slayer, and Celtic Frost. But since I have no time for movies or books anymore all of my musical inspirations have come from everyday life and people with a little Sativa\ Indica help.

How important are theatrics, corpse paint, candles and atmosphere to your performance?

Although I would not mind to play with some kind of fire live if possible, you will not get any stage show from Abazagorath. What you see is what you get: no corpse paint, religious articles or bullshit chatter in between songs. Once you get blasted with our live assault of pure mayhem theatrics are not needed.

What do you want people who see/hear you to feel or experience when they see your show?

We are a Black metal band I don’t give a fuck what people feel, this band was started to play music we enjoy. Now if you enjoy it cool. Guaranteed the crowd will be left with wanting more Abazagorath and hopefully the crowd leaves with feelings of loneliness and depression.

What do you hope to accomplish with this current tour?

The goal of this upcoming tour is to promote the new album and to play some states we have not been to before; it’s time to spread this cancer known as Abazagorath away from the north east.

Over your nearly 20-year history, what have been some of your most memorable moments as a band? And why?

Unfortunately most of our memorable moments were never good things that I can remember. They usually involved lots of alcohol, a beat down with fellow war brothers Summon, car accidents, drugs, a NYC public access TV appearance, and finally jail. (Writer’s Note: Sounds like I need to do some follow-up questions here when I see them in  August!)

Who would you love to share the stage with?

VENOM of course

What’s next for Abazagorath? For the rest of the year? For next year?

Abazagorath has begun writing our next album already, and for the rest of the year our plan is to play our already confirmed dates Philly, MD, NY, CT, MA and for our first time ever Columbus OH and Chicago. For 2014 we will focus on getting another album recorded and I have already been approached by numerous promoters who want to see Abazagorath on the left coast\ mid-west. There have also been talks about an Abazagorath\ Kommandant split as well.

Is there anything else you want people to know?

The new album “The Satanic Verses” will be out later this year on Negativity records. If you are looking for show dates, news merchandise check out our Reverbnation and Facebook pages. Hails and Horns. AS DARKNESS FALLS WE ARISE.

Only turning 25 is real or how to properly celebrate your birthday

My friend Hasan turned 25 this past week, and to celebrate, he organized a show at The Sidebar Tavern. Being a complex man, Hasan wisely assembled a group of bands into a birthday show that reflected his diverse taste in music. He also served up some killer vegan chocolate cake with peanut butter icing from Sweet Dukes vegan bakery and brought in some of his home-made vegan mac-n-cheez.

I took a few photos, met up with some old friends and had a great time. I appreciated the spectrum of musical genres represented, even though they were not all my favorite styles of music. Even so, these are all bands you should check out. Here are some highlights.

Dweller in the Valley play thoughtful black metal where the drummer sings. Also, they bring a lot of bones. I dig ’em.

Dweller in the Valley

Dweller in the Valley

Hasan loves Celtic Frost. He’s even met Tom G. Warrior. But since getting Celtic Frost to play his gig was not going to happen, he got the next best (and possibly better) option of the band “Celtic Frosting”, comprised of friend Alex Martin on vocals, Garrett Underwood (formerly of Ilsa) on guitars; Logan Terkelsen (from Curse) on drums and Nolan (from D.O.C) on bass. I hope they keep doing this, if only from time to time, because this was the best “cover/tribute” band I have seen in a while.  The homage was perfect. So many “ughs” and bullet belts. Brilliant name.

Celtic Frosting

Celtic Frosting

Next was Multicult, a band I had never heard of. Hasan described them as noise similar to Unsane. Another friend thought they sounded more post-punk. They were fun, energetic, and very tight. Would love to see them out again.

For some reason after Multicult, I never took out my “good” camera and so the only photos I have are from my iPhone. However, there was a legit photographer there (the lovely and talented Brendan Foster Fieldhouse) so when he later posts pics, I might update this post with links to some of his shots.



The band called Nothing took the stage next. I have seen this band once before, upstairs at The Ottobar. What they play is described as shoegaze. It’s a bit more aggressive than that, in my opinion. If you are a fan of  this genre then you should check them out, because they are good at what they do. They didn’t do it for me live, but I will give them a listen on BandCamp and see how that goes. Shoegaze is just not my favorite genre.

Satan’s Satyrs is a band I have been wanting to see for a while. Doom punk might describe them, with maybe a little surf rock thrown in. They definitely had the doom metal guitar tone. They sounded good and were fun to watch.

Satan's Satyrs

Satan’s Satyrs

I’ve seen Ilsa a bunch of times, but never with their new guitarist Dom Romeo (A389 Records‘ fearless leader and formerly of hardcore outfit Pulling Teeth). Their doom-infused crusty hardcore was on-point, and Orion sounded angrier than ever.   A massive mosh pit erupted as soon as they struck their first chord and persisted throughout their set, almost nonstop. I don’t know why I always forget that this happens when Ilsa plays. By their climax, the crowd had been whipped into such a frenzy that the moshing entity had pretty much consumed all but the fringes of The Sidebar. At least one guy was ejected for improper technique (i.e., karate kicks).  No photos this time. Too dangerous. I wondered if the audience was going to have any energy left for the closing act.

Horrendous ripped through their set with aplomb. I have listened to this group since Hasan told me about them about a year ago, but never seen them live. They did not disappoint, despite the late hour and the thinning crowd. Horrendous plays on the melodic side of traditional death metal, if maybe a bit thrashy. It was nice to see Hasan get up and sing a few tunes with them (as he also did with Celtic Frosting).

Turning 25 can make you feel like you are an “adult,” and you have to put away “childish” things. But a birthday show like this should remind everyone that with each passing year, you ought to focus more and more on the things that matter to you. What matters to Hasan is sharing a variety of great music with his friends and also giving to worthy causes. Proceeds from this show ($400 was raised) went to support some of our most vulnerable human and animal populations: RAINN and the Maryland SPCA.

Here’s to another 25 years Hasan! (All photos by me, Mary Spiro)

Hasan joins "Celtic Frosting" on stage for his birhtday!

Hasan joins “Celtic Frosting” on stage for his birthday!

Highlights from Ratscape 2013 day 1

The first day of Ratscape is in the books. I was only able to stay for four bands, but what I did catch was an impressive and diverse array of some of the unique talent Baltimore has to offer. Truth be told I should have just stayed there the whole night and not left for another less satisfying show. But hindsight is 20/20.

Choke Motel offered up a rocking instrumental set featuring Ratscape organizer Mike Franklin on drums. I would like to hear more from them. I think they are named for the Motel 6(66) across the street from The Hour Haus, but there is nothing sinister or creepy about their sound.

Then came Nice Guys from Boston (although apparently originally they started out in Baltimore). Nice Guys use a lot of familiar punk riffs but then put their own spin on them with original songs. Something about this band really activated a part of my punk brain that has been dormant for sometime. Really good.

The next band, Pleasant Livers, had a slightly delayed start but still played four “songs” (I think). How can one describe them? Two asynchronous drummers, guitar, bass, saxophone and vocalist Fred Collins running rampant on stage. He birthed himself from a children’s play tunnel and few times and had improper relations with an EasyBake Oven. Highly entertaining.

The last band I caught was USSA Pleasuredome. Instrumental and lush, this band now has a drummer (and not a drum machine) for live performances. They presented some powerful soundscapes and killer riffs.

I am sure the remainder of the evening went well and look forward to the rest of the weekend. All photos by Mary Spiro.

Iron Man band sign to Rise Above Records

For the last several months, fans of the doom metal band Iron Man have been teased–nay–tortured by Facebook status updates about a new album. Then there was a YouTube video previewing songs for this new full-length.  Not long ago, we learned the name of that record– South of the Earth. I have heard most of these songs live, as well as listened to the new recording in its entirety and can attest to the fact that this record will deliver everything the fans have been dreaming about and more. It’s eargasm material.
But more importantly, now we know that this fifth full-length record will not be a self-released affair, as Iron Man announced today that they have inked a deal with Rise Above Records, the London-based independent label launched in 1988 by Cathedral vocalist Lee Dorrian. Rise Above Records host an impressive array of artists whose sound is in keeping with the Iron Man musical mission. This roster includes heavy hitters Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard, Blood Ceremony, The Gates of Slumber, Church of Misery, Ghost and many others.
Alfred Morris III of Iron Man. Photo by Mary Spiro.

Alfred Morris III of Iron Man. Photo by Mary Spiro.

The Maryland metal legends, which consists of founding member Alfred Morris III on guitar, Louis Strachan on bass, Dee Calhoun on vocals, and Jason “Mot” Waldmann on drums, have not published a full-length recording since the 2009 issue of I Have Returned (Shadow Kingdom Records).  Devotees have had to make-do during this interim with two self-released EPs, Dominance in 2011 and att hålla dig över in 2012. I spoke with “Iron Man” Al Morris the other day about what signing with Rise Above Records means to the band:

Tell me about the label you are signing with?
Rise Above Records is the heaviest label on the planet! They have an incredible roster of bands.
What is your relationship with the person who runs this label?
Lee Dorrian and I have been very good friends for 20 years! We met at a Cathedral gig in Washington D.C., back in 1993. He had heard “Black Night” and was a fan of Iron Man.
What does this mean for Iron Man in terms of touring, distribution and so forth?
Iron Man will be on Rise Above/Metal Blade worldwide. Touring will also be worldwide! The fans all over the world that have been waiting for years will finally get to see Iron Man for the first time!
What is the timetable for the release of South of the Earth?
Sept/Oct 2013
In what formats will it be released? Digital/LP/CD etc?
All of the above.
What is your assessment of the overall lineup of Iron Man right now?
This line-up is the best. We can write songs at will and perform with lots of energy on stage. Iron Man is now the total package!
How does it feel to reach this point in your career’s history?
It feels good because I am not alone trying to keep things together. We are a group of professionals that can move in any direction that we want to.
What will you do next?
Finish writing the next CD and enjoy the fans!
Is there anything else you want people to know about how this record was written, recorded, mastered or otherwise produced?
The writing method has never changed. I introduce a riff and the guys put in their parts to make a song. This is how each member can be as creative as possible because they create what they feel, not what they are told to feel! We went back to Frank Marchand to record this CD. We had worked with Frank before on, I Have Returned, and knew that this CD would be incredible!! He knows Iron Man music like the back of his hand. Frank is a great engineer/producer. We will use his talents again for the next CD!!
Anything else?
We are looking forward to playing for Iron Man fans around the world!! Thank you so much!
Iron Man, from l-r: Jason "Mot" Waldmann, Dee Calhoun, Alfred Morris III, Louis Strachan.

Iron Man, from l-r: Jason “Mot” Waldmann, Dee Calhoun, Alfred Morris III, Louis Strachan.

Read the official announcement from Rise Above Records here

2013 RatScape Preview

Ratscape II is coming up this weekend (July 19-21) at Hour Haus Studios, located on the SE corner of North Avenue and Howard St. Unlike some of the other Baltimore festivals, Ratscape is somewhat of a DIY kind of thing, and most of the bands playing are not well known, although there are some distinct exceptions. As the day wears on,  you will notice the lineup features more established groups that record for known labels.

There are more than 40 bands playing from all genres of music.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a preview of what every band sounds like? Well I thought I would give it a shot. Some of them were kind of hard (impossible to find). But here’s the best I could do. If I could find a video, it’s posted. Otherwise, enjoy the audio. This is a long post, keep scrolling.

FRIDAY July 19

Friday’s line-up is starts off with rap but then quickly moves into some electronic, contemplative, emo-pop, punk and then psychedelic/doom sounds. It’s a good mix.

Eze Jackson: rap; 2:45 – 3:15pm

Something Complex: electronic, rap and more; 3:30 – 4:00pm

Seaglass: punk, sadcore; 4:15 – 4:45pm

Expert Alterations: minimalist pop, Velvet Underground-y; 5:00 – 5:30pm


The Matrimonials: booze flavored party rock; 5:45 – 6:15

Choke Motel: keyboards instrumental, jazzy/funky; 6:30 – 7pm


Nice Guys: avante punk, no rules; 7:15 – 7:45

The Pleasant Livers: Whartscape veterans, bizarre noisy insanity; 8:00 – 8:30

USSA Pleasuredome: transcendental soundscapes; 8:45 – 9:15

Special People: punk rock; 9:30 – 10:00pm

Shining Mirrors: indie rock; 10:15 – 10:45pm

Raindeer: lush pschedelic pop; 11:00 – 11:30pm

Arbouretum:  awesome folk-tinged doom; 11:45 – 12:15am

The Flying Eyes: psychedelic rock; 12:30 – 1:00am

The Sterling Sisters: Gothic, NeoCountry.  These folks wear cowboy hats and everything. 1:15 – 1:45am

Saturday, July 20th

Saturday starts off with some folk and country inspired bands and then moves into the punk realms.

Dead Whale Ramblers: conscious folk/grass; lots of strings;  2pm – 2:30pm

Blood Horses

Could not find a video but I’ve seen them live. Kind of a early 90s grunge- punk thing going on. Listen. 2:45 – 3:15pm


Et Al: Dreamy indie rock. They have a SoundCloud, too. 3:30 – 4pm


Voodoo Pharmacology: epic melodies, banjos, strings, masculine vocals, creepy lyrical themes; what’s not to like here? 4:15 – 4:45pm

Gutterhooks: psychedelic punk rock recorded lo-fi like early black metal; kvlt pvnx. Listen. 5:00 – 5:30pm


Foghound: stoner rock; 5:45 – 6:15pm

Lazlo Lee: bluesy garage rock; 6:30 – 7pm

Bobby E. Lee & The Sympathizers: I will just use the description they provide — swampy, stompy good timey music; 7:15 – 7:45pm

Wet Brain: almost surf/garage rock. Only videos I could find were embedded in their Facebook page.  You might be able to see this one. 8:00 – 8:30pm

Hollywood: catchy Ramones-esque punk rock with more intelligible vocals. 8:45 – 9:15pm

Listen here.


Ravagers: Punk. Period. 9:30 – 10:00pm

Advlts: progressive punk; is that a thing? Anyway, these guys deliver. 10:15 – 10:45pm

Baklavaa: No, you are not tripping, it’s just Baklavaa. Also, you will never be able to unsee this video .11:00 – 11:30

Christopher Nobody & The Nothing: agressive punk noise with some surprises thrown in. Found a video but nothing on Facebook. 11:45 – 12:15

Slow Jerks: fist pumpin’, sing-a-longin’, crowd participatin’ rock and roll. 12:30 – 1:00am

Hard Dads:  punky power three piece. Here’s a video from somewhere in the Copy Cat building. 1:15am – 1:45am

Sunday, July 21st

If you like metal, then Sunday is probably the day to attend Ratscape. As the day progress, the music becomes darker and heavier and blacker and grindier.

NeverThought: They call themselves nu metal. You decide. 2:pm – 2:30pm

The Last Valorians: modern metal; 2:45 – 3:15pm

Oath: This is a new band. I am told this is stoner/doom something. Come find out. 3:30 – 4:00pm

Pallid: post-rock, ambient/drone; 4:15 – 4:45pm

Phantom Lanterns: post-rock 5:00 – 5:30pm

Mountainwolf: sludgy stoner rock. Check out this live recording on BandCamp. Listen. 5:45 – 6:15pm

Big Mouth: I think the video speaks for itself. 1…2…3…4….!  6:30 – 7:00pm

Nude Mass: this band is new, with members of Slow Jerks/ Lazlo Lee & the MCs. 7:15 – 7:45pm

Urine: also new d-beat noise punk explosion with members of dead peasants/ecco/chaos destroy/endlessbummer. 8:00 – 8:30pm

Sexgender: They call it noise-punk. I’d agree. Most of the videos I found of this band are crap so just listen here. 8:45 – 9:15pm

Barbelith: dark, depressive, atmospheric black metal; 9:30 – 10:00pm

Melungeon: sludgy, experi-mental noise. Could not find a video but you can listen here.  This band shares a member with Whoarfrost, if that gives you any indication of how weird and unpredictable this music is. 10:15 – 10:45pm

Cemetery Piss: angry black metal. Don’t let the SoundCloud link fool you, this is what Cemetery Piss sounds like. Listen. 11:00 – 11:30pm

Rukut: hardcore, grindcore. This video is like samples of a lot of songs but there are not a lot of good videos of this band out there. 11:45 – 12:15pm

Noisem: This death metal band, formerly known as Necropsy this band, is currently signed to A389 Records and recently played the Scion Fest. Also they are all like still in high school or something. 12:30 – 1:00pm

And there you have it, something from every band playing Ratscape. It’s kind of nice to think that Baltimore has this much talent. And also, that this is just a tiny bit of it.

Ratscape: an interview with the founders

Baltimore recording engineer Mike Franklin thinks that Baltimore is essentially one big family that just hasn’t met yet. He hopes his festival, Ratscape, a celebration of underground local music which he organized with his friend Josh Schleupner, could be one way for all those talented “family” members to get to know one another.

Josh Schleupner and Mike Franklin, founders of Baltimore's Ratscape Festival. (Photo by Mary Spiro)

Josh Schleupner and Mike Franklin, founders of Baltimore’s Ratscape Festival. (Photo by Mary Spiro)

Held July 19-21 at The Hour Haus studios at the corner of North Ave. and Howard St., Ratscape is only on its second year — festival infancy by Baltimore standards. Ratscape occurs the same weekend as the city’s infamous Artscape, which is billed at the America’s largest free arts festival. And while folks at Artscape will be jamming to the sounds of more well known national performers,  Ratscape festival goers can listen to music from more than a dozen different and obscure subgenres, representing just a just a tiny slice of the artistic depth of the region. For $5 per day, Ratscape features 47 bands. In keeping with the DIY spirit of the day, the event is also BYOB. So other than the extra cash you’ll want to bring for band merch and one of those exclusive Ratscape t-shirts, Ratscape is a musical bargain.

I spoke with Mike and Josh the other night about their philosophy behind the fest, who is playing, and what to expect. So pop on some headphones and click play on the link below. Set times for the bands for each day are listed below. Watch this space in the coming days for links to music samples from every group performing.

RATSCAPE 2013 running order and set times

2pm – 2:30pm———- Eze Jackson
2:45 – 3:15pm———- Something Complex
3:30 – 4:00pm———- Seaglass
4:15 – 4:45pm———- Expert Alterations
5:00 – 5:30pm———- Matrimonials
5:45 – 6:15———- Choke Motel
6:30 – 7pm ———-Hot God
7:15 – 7:45pm———-Nice Guys
8:00 – 8:30 ———-Pleasant livers
8:45 – 9:15 ———-USSA Pleasuredome
9:30 – 10:00pm———- Special People
10:15 – 10:45pm ———-Shining Mirrors
11:00 – 11:30pm ———-Raindeer
11:45 – 12:15am ———-Arboretum
12:30 – 1:00am ———-Flying Eyes
1:15 – 1:45am ———-Sterling Sisters

Saturday, July 20th

2pm – 2:30pm———- Dead Whale Ramblers
2:45 – 3:15pm———- Blood Horses
3:30 – 4pm ———-Et Al
4:15 – 4:45pm ———-Voodoo Pharmacology
5:00 – 5:30pm ———-Gutterhooks
5:45 – 6:15pm———- Foghound
6:30 – 7pm ———-Lazlo Lee
7:15 – 7:45pm———- Bobby E. Lee & The Sympathizers
8:00 – 8:30pm ———-Wet Brain
8:45 – 9:15pm ———-Hollywood
9:30 – 10:00pm ———-Ravagers
10:15 – 10:45rpm ———-Advlts
11:00 – 11:30 ———-Christopher Nobody & The Nothing
11:45 – 12:15———- Slow Jerks
12:30 – 1:00am ———-Hard Dads
1:15am – 1:45am ———-Baklavaa

Sunday, July 21st

2:pm – 2:30pm ———-Neverthought
2:45 – 3:15pm———- Last of the Vallorians
3:30 – 4:00pm———- Disorder
4:15 – 4:45pm———- Pallid
5:00 – 5:30pm ———-Phantom Lanterns
5:45 – 6:15pm———- Mountainwolf
6:30 – 7:00pm———-Big Mouth
7:15 – 7:45pm ———-Nude Massacre
8:00 – 8:30pm———- Urine
8:45 – 9:15pm ———-Sexgender
9:30 – 10:00pm ———-Barbelith
10:15 – 10:45pm ———-Melungeon
11:00 – 11:30pm ———-Cemetery Piss
11:45 – 12:15pm ———-Rukut
12:30 – 1:00pm———- Noisem

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