Monthly Archives: May 2014

Interview: Watain returns to US for one unholy, uncompromising ritual

Erik Danielsson of Sweden’s black metal legion Watain spoke via email with my photographer friend Kassandra Carmona a few months ago during the group’s initial tour for the album “The Wild Hunt.”  Kassandra recently sent the interview to me for publication here, even though she had posted it on her own blog. Now that Watain has announced a special one-off show in Brooklyn on June 15, I thought it only fitting to update the information with some more recent comments from the man himself. Erik quickly and graciously responded. This Q&A is divided into two parts, the first part with questions from Kassandra (KC) and the second part with questions from me (MS).

E. from Watain's performance at Baltimore Soundstage, Nov. 2013.

E. from Watain’s performance at Baltimore Soundstage, Nov. 2013.

If you have never seen Watain live, the June 15 show at Brooklyn Night Bazaar promises to give attendees the full multi-sensory experience. If you HAVE seen them live in the US, which I have a couple of times, what you have witnessed has probably been a watered-down version of what they are capable of.  Certainly listening to Watain on recording is powerful in and of itself. Watching their DVD “Opus Diaboli” can help to further gain an understanding of the Watain ritual. But to fully appreciate what they are really all about, one should see them live, uncensored and uncompromised, at least once. After reading Erik’s responses to my questions about this show, I am very tempted to find my way up to NYC for the Father’s Day show. I feel like it’s really going to push some boundaries, but when has Watain not pushed some boundaries? Who knows, they might usher in the end of mankind. If the stars align, I will be there.

Tickets to the Brooklyn Night Bazaar event are $25 and can be purchased here. Expect this show to sell out. The venue is unusual so you might want to visit the Brooklyn Night Bazaar’s website to see what you are in for. I have no idea how it will be configured for this show.

KC: Well, to start out you guys have been on tour in support of your latest release “The Wild Hunt” for about 4 months now, reaching from the States to Australia. Considering that you’ve been touring partners bands like Mayhem, In Solitude and Tribulation. What has been the tour experience like this time around?

It’s been a long and hard ride so far, very rewarding though, and filled with many important moments and experiences. We always try to pick carefully what bands we play with, mainly because we have learnt from the past that if we go on the road with the wrong bands, things usually end up pretty fucking bad. We don’t like to take bullshit and we don’t like to be around wimps, as simple as that. Us and In Solitude are of course close already and meet each other often back home as well, so touring with them was basically being on the road with a bunch of friends. Which is great, makes things easier and more focused in a way. With Mayhem things work really well too, perhaps a bit more of an explosive scenario, haha…

KC: As far as the few announcements I’ve seen, you are still announcing more European tour dates, and some very close to home, do you approach the rituals at home, let’s say any “different” than the ones elsewhere?

The next thing we have coming up is a Scandinavian tour, so it’s all pretty much close to home yes. There is something I really like about performing here, the crowds are always big and passionate and wild and loud as fuck. Which is good. But I would not say we approach the shows differently, no. What happens on the stage with Watain -at least within our minds and spirits- is the same in Antofagasta as it is in Stockholm.

KC: Now that you’ve covered the US, Australia, & Europe, what other places are you planning to tour this year?

For the rest of the year we have a big European headline tour together with Degial coming up in March and April. After that the festival season starts, which is always interesting. Playing at European festivals is always a good opportunity to hammer down the Darkness of Watain into peoples souls, because so many of the crowds are just regular festival goers that are there to have a good time. Then, there, after a day of drinking and partying in the sun and becoming like useless overheated animals, they find themselves standing before a Temple of Fire and Chaos, from which venomous radiance they will not be able to shield themselves. The concerts then become a merciless incineration of mindless joy, overpowering and truly dangerous. So yea, I am very much looking forward to that. We are definitely going to try to do South America and Japan this year as well.

KC: Stepping aside the touring life, I would like go a little more in-depth into what Watain has become and the road leading to it. You began the band at very young age, what was your purpose when starting the band, and is that purpose the same? Did age play anything into what you believed your life would be in a band like Watain? Did you ever expect Watain to become what is it now?

The reason behind the formation of Watain was our burning, fanatical approach towards Black Metal and our will to be a part of that movement, to feed it with our own fires, to honor its codes and to explore it’s divine origins. Eventually it came to grow into something far greater than that, a brotherhood, a weapon with which to fight the world, and a tool of magic. I think we always knew, since day one, that this was going to be something that we were going to stick to for a long time. We were very serious about Black Metal already at such a young age (we were between 16 and 18) and we knew that this was not something you got into just as a hobby. When Hell calls your name, there is no way back… And here we are now.

KC: Any message you would like to give to the faithful Watain Disciples?
Hopefully they know by now how much we appreciate and cherish their support, without them our tours would be far less interesting actually. The Disciples thing has grown from a small idea to something quite organized and effective, which we feel very honored by! And we see it growing and hardening every tour we do. We look forward to meet you all along the road during the time to come…

MS: My understanding is that American audiences don’t typically get to see your full ritual performances. Usually there are restrictions from the venue on pyrotechnics, blood, etc. How will this performance be different from other US shows you have done in the past and, more importantly, why are you doing this show NOW in the US?

Touring the US is always a bit problematic with the kind of stage setup we use back here in Europe. The problems are both logistic and ideologic in nature. US organizers and promoters generally have a much less liberal attitude than Europeans, especially towards stuff that lay in the greyzone between what’s “legal” and what’s not. Anyway, sometimes you come across people who are willing to make stuff happen regardless, as is the case with the Brooklyn concert we now have ahead of us. With the combined efforts of a group of determined men and women, professionals as well as criminals, we have– as it looks now at least!– managed to overcome some of the obstacles we have been facing before and the Brooklyn stage should thus be illuminated by the fire of the Will and that strange and terrible Light that only Diabolical things can bestow. Why now? Why not? The snake is cunning. You will never be safe…

Obligatory blurry fan-girl pic.

Obligatory blurry fan-girl pic.

MS: What are Watain’s plans for future North American touring?
Right now only the Brooklyn show. We had a tour that was going to be in support of an old band, which we have always been great fans of, but they freaked out when they saw what we wanted to bring on the stage and called the whole thing off. It’s not the first time that happened I can tell you. We currently have some pretty interesting touring scenarios on the table for the States, but we will shed light on those when the time is right.

MS: Anything else you might want people to know right now.
We look forward to set fire to Brooklyn Night and turn it into a pandemonium of Satanic Metal ecstasy!

——

Note: I may update this post later with some additional photos, however nearly all my own photos of Watain have been lost. Technology hates me.

 

Maryland Deathfest XII recap and photo gallery #1

It is taking me forever to go through some of my photos from Maryland Deathfest XII. But I wanted to get some of them out there, because I got some really good ones.

I also wanted to mention that this was, by far, my most fun MDF. I saw 37 bands! That’s amazing!! I thought the set up worked really well and made getting around  much more efficient for me. Even if I was not actually watching a band with my eyeballs, I could hear them clearly from anywhere on the Edison Lot grounds. The sightlines were good at the outdoor space if you stood further back. Or you could perch on one of the shaded picnic tables and still hear and see OK.

As far as the indoor venues went, both the sound at SoundStage and Rams Head was pretty good and the sightlines decent for a short person like me. I was very happy that the entire Rams Head was opened up on every level. Sitting in the bleachers at the tip-top of was kind of a cop out but if your feet were killing you from all the standing it was some welcome relief.

Walking between venues was not a problem. It took about 7-10 minutes for me to walk from Edison lot to Soundstage if I walked briskly and caught the lights. Mother Nature cooperated by keeping the rain away and not letting it get too hot.

Nice changes this year were shorter lines to get in, for vendors, and for bathrooms. The wait time between bands at Edison lot was negligible. I really appreciated being able to get my four-day pass at the Ottobar pre-fest (which was awesome).

There were a few things I wished they had been done differently. Here’s a starter list of suggestions. I might think of others later.

Water should have been free. I saw several people passing out from dehydration. $2-$3 for water, depending on who you were buying it from, was too much to keep yourself hydrated. Alternatively, people should have been allowed to bring in a couple of sealed water bottles.

Misting tents would have been nice if it had been a any hotter.

Sunscreen samples would have helped. I had plenty of sunscreen on, but I am sure a sunscreen company would be happy to pass out coupons and free samples. Let’s not get skin cancer.

I wish the entrance to Edison Lot had been at the south end and not the north, but it wasn’t a huge hassle to walk all the way to the other side to enter. Still, when trucking over to the other venues, minutes sometimes counted.

The Edison Lot layout was set up like a V. It would have been nicer if it had been more of a circle so that you didn’t have to walk back up out of the vendor spaces to get to the stages. But again, you could really hear pretty well anywhere in the lot.

I would like to see one very obvious and centralized place for bands to display their merch. Several had theirs at the MDF merch tent, but others were scattered throughout the vendor area at their relative labels. As far as I could tell, there was only one table for short-term merch display. Finding merch was like a scavenger hunt. Merch was better displayed at Rams Head and Soundstage.

Rams Head and Soundstage charge way too much for drinks and food. But this was easy to rectify,  just don’t buy anything from them.

That’s it for now….more later.

Check out some of my shots below.

 

 

 

Podcast: Maryland Deathfest recap #3 from Sunday

Here’s our final installation of our Maryland Deathfest podcasts. We made it and no one died! We determined that Derek won MDF with most bands seen (47); most merch purchased, out latest, at the rail or in the pit for most bands seen and most unshowered (honorary crust award). William came in second with most bands seen and most merch purchased. He also wins the straight edge award.

From left Mary, Will, Chris, Sam and Derek.

From left Mary, Will, Chris, Sam and Derek.

Sam V wins for worst and weirdest shaped sunburn and also for loudest snoring. He was also the funniest on the podcast! Go Sam. Woodford wins for best death metal growl and most ladies talked to. I win for best white vest and most selfies taken with crowd members and I also win for most people who came up and bowed down before me (I can’t explain this).

This was by far the most fun we have had at Deathfest. Staying in a hotel within closest walking distance of the venues was the best idea. I love my friends. I would not have wanted to try this with anyone else. Hail CampMDF.

Listen here.

 

 

Podcast: Maryland Deathfest recap #2 from Saturday

Saturday was the big death, thrash and grind day at Maryland Deathfest. What did we think of it? What crazy stuff happened to us? You will have to listen here to the podcast to find out. This time we spend more time talking about the fest and a little less time talking about poop or moms, but not much. Also, this time Christopher was awake for the entire time but William nearly fell asleep.

Rober Bustabad of Machetazo.

Rober Bustabad of Machetazo.

Podcast: Maryland Deathfest recap #1 from Friday

We stayed up till 3:30 a.m. making this podcast about the events of Maryland Deathfest XII from Wednesday to Friday. This needs no introduction. Just listen to it. We spent a lot of time on not editing this at all. Everything you hear is true.

Guests include: Mary Spiro, Derek Beam, Sam Vietmeier and William Harnish. Christorpher Woodford slept through this, somehow.

Click the link to listen.

taake4

 

Putrisect bringing old school metal back to Baltimore

Baltimore’s Putrisect brings together elements of old school death metal, hardcore and crust. They open the stage tonight, May 23, at Rams Head at Maryland Deathfest. I have only seen Putrisect on smaller stages, so it will be exciting to see them on the big Rams Head stage, I am sure they will blow everyone away!

putrisect2Combining the talents of members of several other bands, Putrisect will surprise listeners with a heaviness reminiscent of old Morbid Angel and the swift guitar riffage of classic Slayer. Their sound, however, is not a rehash of old sounds and has a freshness and energy all its own. I sent vocalist Ren Megna a few questions. Here are his replies.

Please list all the band members names/instruments.

Ren-vocals, Jackson-drums, Paul-guitar, Arturo-guitar and Matt-bass.

When and how did Putrisect get together (if you we all in other bands people would recognize, mention that)?

Putrisect was formed out of spare parts of Marrow (death metal) and Burning Axe (crust) in the summer of 2013.

I didn’t see any recordings at your merch table and I found only one song on BandCamp (I got a patch though!). What is your recording history? What are you plans to record?

We’ve recorded a four-song demo with Kevin Bernstein at Developing Nations studio. The label Cemetery Cricket is releasing a tape really soon, and a 7 inch is scheduled for after Deathfest. (Note: Chaos Awaits is now on BandCamp! Listen here.)

You are playing Maryland Deathfest on Friday night at Rams Head. That must be super crazy exciting! How did that come about and how do you feel about it?

We have all been going to or working Deathfest for years now and have always wanted to be in a band with big enough chops to make the cut. I put our early recordings in (MDF organizer) Evan Harting’s ear, and he threw us right onto it. We are all stoked on the opportunity and immensely grateful.

Where do you see yourself in five years (isn’t this the standard job interview question? Hahaha! Just say whatever you want!)

In five years, I hope to be recovering from our third European tour on the beach

If you were not playing music, how would you spend your free time?
Me personally, I would be drawing, drinking, eating, and fucking.

What motivates you? I mean, as a person, as a band? What is your inspiration?

Our motivation stems from an abject hatred for humanity. We are a misanthropic bunch of drunks and that sort of fuels the furnace of evil for us. I’m always wondering how we can make our songs sound like we hate people more. I want this to be a window into our disdain. I see the world as a sort of waking nightmare … I want other people to see that, too.

If you could drive any kind vehicle, what would it be and why?

I would drive and 1984 anniversary edition 300zx, because I love feeling like a bad guy in a 1980s B movie. The other guys … well, I think Arturo would drive an El Camino cause he’s a Mexican or some shit. Matt would drive a station wagon cause he’s a principal. Paul would drive some kind of pickup truck that didn’t work, and Jackson would drive his girlfriend’s car.

Anything else you want people to know about the band?
Our name is meaningless.

Putrisect will play the Adam Savage birthday show at Metro Gallery on June 7 with Pig Destroyer, Magrudergrind, Inter Arma and Cemetery Piss. Event link here.

Check out my gallery of Putrisect below.

Cemetery Piss: spreading that vulture love tonight at Sidebar

Cemetery Piss are a raw, blackened heavy metal outfit out of Baltimore. They play tonight at 11:30 p.m, May 22, in a free show at the Sidebar  as part of the Maryland Deathfest VII festivities. Here’s the event link.

The first time I saw Cemetery Piss, I went in not knowing what to expect, as their visual appearance is fairly unassuming. No spikes or corpse paint here, but maybe a bullet belt and a couple patch vests. If anything, I expected something a bit trippy. But the name — Cemetery Piss — hinted at something more extreme.

I know Adam Savage as an easy going promoter of shows in Baltimore and their drummer Derrick Hans of The Pilgrim, which is sort of a stoner-doom rock group. But the moment the band started to play and Adam let loose with some of the the rawest, sharpest and most gut-punching vocals I’d heard since Bathory’s Quorthon, I knew this was a band I needed to pay attention to.

Drummer Derrick and bassist Rebecca Chernoff lay down a black-thrash influenced rhythm section, and guitarist Dirck Ober blazes through some fuzzy toned pscyhedelic speed metal-esque riffs that are catchy as hell. Adam ties it all together with a highly physical performance.

I sent the band some questions since I was unfamiliar with their history and pre-history. These replies have been sitting in my “to-do” list for a little while (all apologies to CP), so a couple of the answers are dated, but the facts remain. Here’s what Dirck had to say.

When and how did Cemetery Piss get together (if you were all in other bands people would recognize, mention that)?

Cemetery Piss started out as a solo recording project. In around 2006 or 2007, after my band Crypt of Raix had folded, I was in a place where I’d resolved to make some music on my own. I had no set expectations or plans. I just set out to make the music I wanted, by myself, and see what happened. Before too long, I had four instrumentals recorded on a four-track. Adam Savage and I were already playing together in Vincent Black Shadow, so I enlisted him to lay down vocals. These four songs came together as the Rest in Piss demo, named after the title track, which framed what Cemetery Piss was about then. After we’d passed that thing around for a little while, we re-recorded it in a proper studio with Kevin Bernsten, and Timpaler (Tim Snodgrass) of Diabolic Force Distribution released the Rest in Piss EP on cassette. The tape gave us our first real audience, and by the time Adam and I were recording the Such the Vultures Love 7”, Rebecca Chernoff of Spoilage/Icefox had heard it and expressed interest in playing bass in a live incarnation of the band. Encouraged, we approached Derrick Hans of Oak/The Pilgrim/Deathammer about playing drums, and lucky for us he was into it.

Do you consider yourselves black metal or something else? Are there other bands you think you may sound similar to?

We’re not devout black metallers, but there’s a strong influence there. I’m trying to channel that point where thrash was breaking its own boundaries, pushing both aggression and atmosphere as the music evolved into death metal. Possessed’s Seven Churches, Morbid’s December Moon and Necrovore’s Divus de Mortuus were all in heavy rotation when I started writing for the band. Of course, Bathory’s Blood Fire Death, Mayhem through De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Darkthrone are all influences, as well as bands like Von, Absu, Sarcofago, Blasphemy and Beherit. I also really like Funeral Mist, Ofermod and Malign. If I’m going to get to the root of what we do, though, I have to say that Riot, Saxon, Priest and Maiden are just as crucial to our sound. Our mission is to stand firmly rooted in the traditions of metal while trying to break our own boundaries to darken, brutalize, and dement the music.

What are some exciting shows you have coming up? Who would you like to tour with?

Our next show is April 16 with the legendary Satan, and we’re super excited about that. After that, we’re playing a Maryland Deathfest Sidebar show with Bastard Sapling from Richmond, with whom we also played Cemetery Piss’ first live show. (Note: Bastard Sapling moved to Friday night.) (Playing at MDF) is awesome because it gives us the chance to play for an audience from around the world who might never hear of or think to even check us out otherwise. On top of that, getting to actually play puts my annual Deathfest experience on a whole other level. We also have our singer’s birthday show coming up on June 7 with Pig Destroyer, Inter Arma from Richmond and Putrisect. As far as bands we’d like to tour with, I guess I already gave you my dream list in my last answer. It’s so hard to choose. I don’t know how this would ever be possible, but there’s this death metal band from Brazil called Divine Death that I would love to join forces with. They’ve been around since the early 90’s and they’re so sick and yet somehow relatively unknown outside of Brazil. Really, I’d like to tour with any band that carries the spirit of the music we love, especially if they’re a few steps ahead of us and can help us move forward in our own path.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I see Cemetery Piss reaching a much larger audience. I want our records to take us traveling the world. Order of the Vulture worldwide takeover!

If you were not playing music, how would you spend your free time?

That’s a tough question. Everything I do revolves around music. I think that’s true of everyone in the band. Derrick is in several bands. Adam’s work revolves around music, too. Maybe Rebecca might spend more time on her motorcycle. I might spend more time reading, hand-binding books or traveling. We might all party a little bit more.

What motivates you? I mean as a person, as a band? What is your inspiration?

When I was a kid, my cousin Bryant played me Kill ‘Em All and then let me play his electric guitar. It was pretty much over for me then. Now I’m inspired by a need to keep my spirit free. A little chaos can loosen the grip of the regulating rank and file. Embracing mortality and shedding the idea that life should follow some peaceful order and fit some happy image means shedding the bonds of a lot of mundane worldly bullshit, too. That’s what inspires me and I pull from the furthest reaches of my imagination to express that with due conviction in our music.

If you could live anywhere in the world, at any time, where and when would it be and why?

I think the obvious choice would have to be the Bay area during the golden age of thrash. My other choice would be Belo Horizonte, the metal capital of Brazil, in the late 80’s/early 90’s so I could rage with the likes of Sarcofago, Sepultura, Mutilator, Holocausto and so many other awesome bands.

Anything else you want people to know about the band?

Right now we’re working on our first full-length album as a full band. We’ve already recorded four songs with Kevin Bernsten at Developing Nations Studio, and we’ll be back soon to finish. Beware the Order of the Vulture!

Check out some photos from Cemetery Piss’s March 20 performance with Obliteration at Metro Gallery.

Listen to Cemetery Piss on Bandcamp.

Sixty Watt Shaman schools listeners in guitar tone

This time on the Metallomusikum podcast, we chatted with members of the group Sixty Watt Shaman just prior to their performance at the second Moving the Earth Fest II held in Baltimore. Sixty Watt Shaman plays a unique blend of bluesy, metal-y, hardcore-infused Maryland rock. They been around a while, since the mid-1990s in fact, but have been on a break while members worked on other projects.

2014-03-23-00.35.56-1-web-SWSCurrent members of Sixty Watt Shaman include Daniel Soren on guitar and vocals, Todd Ingram on lead guitar, Jim Forrester on bass, and Chuck Dukehart on drums. The band present a distinctive sound –the Sixty Watt sound– that has set them apart form other bands in their complex genre. Soren says it call comes down to the development of a guitar that they have honed and refined over the years together and from their collective experiences in other groups.

Sixty Watt Shaman have the gears in motion to write and release new material, as well as to dig into their archives and release never-before heard music. They also recently returned from gigs at DesertFest with one date in London and another in Berlin.

Check out the podcast here.  Quality was a little weird this time. Not sure why.

Here are a few photos from their show at Moving the Earth Fest II, which was organized by Chuck Dukehart and hosted by The Windup Space.

It’s the Metallomusikum birthday show!

flyer4-14UPDATE:

VISA ISSUES KEPT NEGURA BUNGET AND GRIMEGOD AT HOME. IRON MAN WILL PLAY!

 

On May 7, 2014 I turn 50. That’s an age that not too long ago I would have considered old. Now I don’t really know what to think of it because I don’t really feel old.  One thing I know for sure, is that I felt like, for once, I wanted to try to throw an amazing party that would blow everyone away and also reflect a bit of my musical taste. So I decided to start assembling a lineup that would be memorable. Never did I imagine that the bands to play would be this incredible.

Behold: the Metallomusikum Birthday Show, Saturday, May 10 at The Sidebar! The line up is phenomenal! Check this out!

Iron Man – the Maryland doom legend’s step up to the plate and save the day.

Negura Bunget – that’s right, the Romanian black metal band. Thanks to Adam Savage for sending them my way. (Contact him to set up cool shows!)

Beelzefuzz – psychedelic sounds from the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Grimegod – Romanian doom death featuring members of Negura Bunget.

Horde of the Eclipse – super grim melodic black metal band from Central PA

Warhawk – thrashy goodness from downstate PA

 Nude Mass – super fresh punk noises from Mobtown Baltimore.

It is beyond my comprehension that this show is even happening. It has taken a ton of work and some cash kick-in from some special friends (Thanks William Harnish and Tara Murray and Sidebar owner Travis Hunt!) I feel very lucky to have the support of friends and family to make this show a reality. Kathy Reeves has donated her artistic skills to create the show poster. There will be cake!

Tickets are just $10 and you can get them online at missiontix.com or at the door, though we expect a sell out. Here’s the ticket link. Doors at 7 p.m. Music starts at 7:30 sharp! This show will not run on punk time! 😉

This event is also my first official attempt at booking shows. I have organized lots and lots of corporate style events before, so working with groups and personalities and budgets and timelines is nothing new to me. But I am sure booking bands will have its challenges. It’s a big show to get  my feet wet in the “I-book-shows-sometimes” world, but there you have it. To that end, I have also arranged several future shows listed below. If I don’t kill myself with this one, please make sure to save the date for the other ones!

I have no idea whether or not I will ever have a birthday show again. I kind of think maybe not. But I do have some other plans for events and shows under the Metallomusikum brand to make your ears happy and engage your mind. Stay tuned!

Future Metallomusikum hosted shows include:

  • July 18 – Existentium, Gloom. Virulence and Swamphög at Chapala’s Blue Beetle Rock Bar, 15530 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, MD 20866. 8 p.m. $5. Facebook event page.
  • July 26 – GRIMSCAPE 2014: Pact, Helgardh, Dispellment, Inverted Trifixion, Antikosmos at Sidebar, 218 E. Lexington St. Baltimore, MD 21202. Facebook event page.
  • August 2 – with Mercyful Mike Marketing and Productions: Blackfinger, Beelzefuzz, Iron Man, Kings Destroy and Black Lung at Sidebar, 218 E. Lexington St. Baltimore, MD 21202. Facebook event page.
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