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New Iron Man video single posted on YouTube

Maryland doom engineers Iron Man have released a video single from their forthcoming album, South of the Earth. The track  “Hail to the Haze,” is posted below.

ironman

Jason Waldmann, Dee Calhoun, Alfred Morris III and Louis Strachan are Iron Man.

Iron Man recently signed to Rise Above Records in Europe and will be distributed stateside by Metal Blade Records. You can pre-order your very own copy (CDs, for now) via the Metal Blade website here, which will be shipping in the USA on Oct 1. Vinyl will be available but it is as an import and kind of pricey. Still if you want it, it’s can be found on Amazon.

There are lots of exciting things on the horizon for these east coast doom stalwarts, including the possibility of some international show dates. I am glad to see them finally getting the recognition that they deserve. Guitarist Alfred Morris III has kept this dream alive for more than 25 years, and all I can say is better late than never.

Upcoming show dates include:

Iron Man has an upcoming show on Sept. 11 at Cafe 611 in Frederick with Keefshovel (members of Elder), Admiral Browning and Rhin.

With Saint Vitus, Pallbearer and Hookers on Oct. 13 at Metro Gallery in Baltimore. The event page is here.

Autumn Screams Doom festival, Oct 25 -26 at the Ottobar. Iron Man plays Friday. The full line up and ticket info can be found here.

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Maryland Deathfest 2014 early-bird tickets go on sale Aug. 7

mdflogoHey folks. If you have not noticed this update from Maryland Deathfest, here is the latest on those early-bird tickets. Copied and pasted:

Early-Bird tickets will go on sale August 7 at 3pm EST. Cost will be $199 and these tickets will be good for all days/bands/venues. This is a special offer, only 150 will be sold! General Admission tickets for all 4 individual days as well as multi-day ticket packages will go on sale sometime in October, after the full line-up has been announced, so don’t panic if you miss out on the early-bird special!

All confirmed bands are listed below. Click on any bands name for more information on the artists.

If you think this website looks unfinished, well…that’s because it’s not done yet!! We are still working on features, functionality, and style, so please bear with us while we work to make your Maryland Deathfest experience better!

Check out our FAQ before contacting us with any questions you might have.

NOTE: Early-Bird tickets will not be mailed until sometime in October.

I have not decided what I plan to do yet. But I sure hope the MDF servers are ready to handle the onslaught when ticket sales begin.

Confirmed bands so far include:

At the Gates

Gorguts

Taake

Excruciating Terror

Bongripper

Sólstafir

Diocletian

Mgla

Hemdale

The MDF website is here.

REVIEW: Howl – Bloodlines, play Sidebar March 28

What are you doing Thursday night? You are going to see Howl at The Sidebar, that’s what. Why? Because they rock, and they have a new album out, and they drink Narragansett beer by the case, and I can spell Narragansett, which is in Rhode Island, which is where Howl is from.

ILSA, Spoilage and Dead Gods are also playing. All reasons enough. Now about this new record.

Howl

Howl’s new album Bloodlines further establishes the group as true heavy hitters in a metal market miasma dominated by snail’s pace funeral doom and core-of the week screamers. Blending blackened vocals, solid blues infused melodies with churning riffs and thrashy rhythms, Howl gives me everything I want in a metal band.

They have their doomier moments, true, but it also makes sense that this group has toured with Skeletonwitch and Red Fang, who keep the tempo upbeat and the drums pounding most of the time. I pretty much love everything about Bloodlines.

If you like groups like High on Fire, old Mastodon and Crowbar, Howl will appeal to you.

Record reviews are hard for me, so I will just give you some highlights. The second track “Midnight Eyes” roars forth and immediately assumes a thrash pace likely to get audiences moving. The chorus is headbang-worthy. This leads straight into another great song, “Demonic.” Great lyrics and memorable riffs. “One Last Night” almost has a post-metal melody, and I really like that, but it never strays from Howl’s mission of melting faces with those unrelenting power riffs.

“Down So Low” slows things down a bit to a sinister pace, with more baritone vocals coming through. “With a Blade” is among the most “doom-like” sounding songs on the album. No doubt the flavor-of-the-week kids will enjoy the fuck out of this down-tuned delight. Thankfully, “Of War” brings the tempo back up a bit. The slightly more progressive, Mastodon-y sounding “The Mouth of Madness” is also a slower track featuring death metal like chugga-chugga- guitar work and vocal harmonies.

There are some other songs on there; just buy Bloodlines when it comes out April 30. You won’t be sorry.

See you suckers tomorrow.

REVIEW: War Injun/Doomdogs 7" split

International penpals were once a method people had to learn about other cultures. Maryland’s War Injun and Sweden’s Doomdogs have created such a dialog with their new 7″ split released by Svart Records. In this case, however, it’s a dialog of doom.

War Injun describe themselves as power doom, though I’d put them squarely in the stoner rock category along with Pentagram and similar. This band is all about the riff delivered expertly by Kenny Staubs and Dave Morgan. Their rhythm section, which consists of JB Matson and Tony Comulada, lays down a crushingly heavy foundation for every song.

Their contribution to the split is the previously unreleased “Smokethrower” featuring former singer JD Williams. Vocal duties were recently filled by Jack Roemer (also of Tank Murdock and formerly of Dead Men Sway). During some recent live performances Roemer, no doubt by some shamanistic spell, has been able to make War Injun’s lyrics even more thunderous than they were with Williams.

“Smokethrower” is most definitely a rockin’ tune featuring rapid-fire verses halted by a more ponderous chorus. The varied pace adds drama.  The guitar tone is flawless, obliterating everything in its path. It’s a fitting swan song for Williams and a great showcase for the talents that remain in War Injun.

On the flipside, we have “Oceans of Despair” from Doomdogs, who  play somewhat more melodic doom, but their sound is definitely companionable with War Injun.  Vocalist Tomas “GG” Eriksson projects the lyrics with a kind of raw operatic flare over the powerful riffage provided by guitarist Christer Cuñat, whose solos are reminiscent of 70s blues-rock. The song features an extended funky jam segment with a fat bass and sizzling lead. The tune marches to its somewhat untimely end, whereupon the song seems to abruptly fall apart. Except for this unsettling conclusion, “Oceans of Despair” is a stellar response to War Injun’s call on the other side.  Former member Emil Rolof is featured on drums and Patrik Andersson Winberg on bass, who is set to perform his last gig with the group on April 6.

War Injun’s drummer explained that the split came about because the two groups were fans of each other music. “We actually hooked up with Doomdogs through Facebook,” Matson said. (Well, doesn’t everyone?)

The split has also become something of a promo for a Doomdogs/War Injun tour slated for late summer. And for War Injun, at least, it offered a means to transition into writing and recording with their new singer.

“We are nearly done with the writing process for our next full length ‘Left For The Wolves’, which will be released before August,” Matson said. “Jack is working out tremendously. War Injun is without a doubt, the most solid of a unit as it has ever been. We have already written five new songs with this lineup, and it’s the best music we have ever written. The 2013 Summer Tour starts August 2 in Fort Worth, Texas and continues through August 11 from Texas to Florida and then straight up the East Coast. Leather Nun America (California) are touring with us, and if all things work out, so will Doomdogs.” 

Check out both songs below. 

20 Maryland Bands You Ought to Know

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

10. Sludge Was Never Meant to Be This Hardcore: Sloth Herder

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

At last, new music from doom legends Iron Man

Good things come to those who wait and Iron Man fans have waited a year and a half for a new recording from their favorite Maryland doom band. The new EP entitled, att hålla dig över, features four crushing tunes that the band has only just started to perform live. The EP is now available for pre-order from the band’s website (www.ironmanband.com) And no, I don’t know what the title means either. Google Translate was not able to decipher it.

Calling all of this music “new” is a bit misleading here, since at least one of the songs has been brewing in the mind of guitarist Alfred Morris III for some time. I was particularly excited to see the tune, “On the Mountain,” included in this offering. The group has been including this song in their live sets, and it really leaves the crowd charged up.

Another new song “Quicksand,”  was premiered on the Canadian radio show “Crossing Boredom” on CKCU (93.1 FM). Hosts Derek and Jennifer Bradshaw interviewed Iron Man’s vocalist Dee Calhoun. Canadians are in love Iron Man. Yeah, I don’t understand that either.  But those Canucks went bathsalt crazy for the doom pioneers during their show in May at Mavericks in Ottawa. You can hear the full interview, along with a lot of other cool metal songs and the Bradshaw’s adorable Canadian accents here
Other new songs on the EP include “Crucified” and “Suffer the Children.” This recording features the band’s current line up of Morris on guitar, Louis Strachan on bass, Calhoun on vocals and Jason “Mot” Waldmann on drums. Check out a preview video for the whole EP below. 

The doom metal quartet also has a number of live gigs scheduled for the east coast, beginning this Saturday, Aug. 4 at Wilcom’s Inn in Monrovia, MD. Joining them are Against Nature and guitarist Jason Barker, who will be presenting an acoustic set.

Other upcoming Iron Man shows include:

Friday, Aug. 31: The Acheron with War Injun, Earthen Grave and Kin of Ettins. Located at 57 Waterbury Street (Brooklyn), New York, NY. 

Saturday, Sept. 1: Geno’s Rock Club where Iron Man and Revelation support the Maine’s Orge. Located at 625 Congress Street, Portland, ME.

Sunday Sept. 2: Stoner Hands of Doom, this four-day festival begins Aug. 30 but Iron Man will close the fest on Sunday night. The SHoD fest happens at  El ‘N’ Gee Club, located at 86 Golden Street, New London, CT. For a complete listing of bands click here

INTERVIEW: Maryland Deathfest organizer Evan Harting

Think about all the bands you like to listen to. Now imagine bringing a few dozen of those groups together to perform for you and a few (thousand) of your friends. That, in a sense, is exactly what Ryan Taylor and Evan Harting created when they created the Maryland Deathfest in 2003.

Over the last 10 years the Maryland Deathfest has grown into the largest and most well known metal festival in the US. This year Maryland Deathfest celebrates its tenth anniversary and takes place from Thursday, May 24 to Sunday, May 27 at Sonar on 407 E. Saratoga St. in Baltimore. Sixty-one different bands will perform on three stages over those four days.  Up to 1,700 people are expected for the Thursday night show and as many as 4,000 each day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Saratoga Street between Gay St. and Holliday will be completely blocked off. The event will include vendors and food tents. It’s a pretty big deal. 
Evan explained that he Ryan take care of every detail of the festival pretty much by themselves, from booking to scheduling to ordering the MDF t-shirts and working with vendors to the fulfillment of each band’s concert contract rider. The project takes an entire year to plan and execute, Evan said, and has grown so much over the last decade that the two men don’t really have other full-time jobs.

“THIS is our main job,” Evan said.

Evan and Ryan began thinking about a festival when they were just 18 and 20-years old, respectively, and both working in the restaurant industry. It was after a trip to the now defunct Ohio Deathfest in about 2000 that the notion first occurred.”

Boxes of MDF mech ready to go. (Harting)
“That was the only festival we had been to, but I think that kind of stated the gears rolling,” Evan said. This was also around the time that the Milwaukee Metal Fest began to fall out of favor, which used to be popular in the 1990s. Apparently, Evan said, the organizer of that fest charged the bands to perform.

The team didn’t have a budget to work with, in fact, Evan said, even now they don’t have a budget set aside for the event. Instead, the money comes from ticket sales.

“We figure if we announce a lineup like this, and we get a minimum of this many people, then we will estimate that we will get this amount,” Evan explained. And so far, their formula has worked. “People appreciate the fact that we have done this for 10 years without any financial help.”

Of course, a little help from your friends does not hurt. Evan said that despite the fact that they have never organized a huge event before, they were not entirely unknown in the metal scene.

“We had both been in bands and had played out, especially Ryan,” Evan said. “The first Maryland Deathfest was initially only supposed to be a day-long fest with bands from the East coast. But as soon as we announced it, it went viral, and bands started writing to us from all other the place. It ended up being a 3-day fest the very first year,” Evan said. “I think people were just happy that someone was just giving it a shot.”

In addition to fulfilling an apparent hunger for live death metal, the team’s networking also led to a significant headlining act that first year.

“We ended up getting the reunion show of Suffocation, and that really helped things to start off. We had some other cool names on there, but having the reunion of Suffo really pushed it to the next level,” Evan said. (By the way Suffocation will play again this year on Sunday at 7:20 p.m.)

Over the years, the bands asked to play MDF have reflected the organizers’ somewhat obscure musical tastes. Essentially, they put together a lineup that does not mirror market trends but instead, demonstrates their deep knowledge of the genre and all its subgenres. The lineups at MDF over the last decade also seem to have become more diverse.

“As the festival grows, we still try to have an underground touch to it,” Evan said, “We listen to some obscure bands, so we like to keep that as part of it. And even before this current festival is over, we will already be talking about who we are going to have next year.”

Evan said that he has developed long lasting relationships with some of the groups that have played MDF. “It is really cool when we have bands come back and they aren’t even playing but they just come and hang out. We also know that we have friends all over the world; if we needed a place to stay, that would never a problem. For some of these big name bands, it has been cool to meet them on a personal level.”

Although they have been at it for 10 years, Evan said he and Ryan have no intention of calling it quits. “We will continue to do it for as long as people keep coming and without selling out and as long as we aren’t getting washed up bands.”

Organizers want concert goers to enjoy the ‘Sweetlife’

What’s big, “green,” tastes delicious and comes with a sound track of some of the music industry’s most innovative and up-and-coming artists? It’s the second annual Sweetlife Festival coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion on Saturday, April 28. The all-day extravaganza has expanded its musical performances, enhanced its food choices and even added some elements to introduce attendees, not just to new artists and exciting flavors, but to an entire way of approaching life–the Sweetlife, that is.

“The ‘sweetlife’ is living your best life. It’s the idea that you can be healthy and still have fun,” says Jonathan Neman, who together with his partners, Nicolas Jammet and Nathaniel Ru, founded sweetgreen restaurants in Washington, DC in 2007.
All three met as freshmen at Georgetown University where they each majored in a different aspect of business. 
“We were sick of complaining about the food on campus and decided to stop complaining and do something about it,” Neman said. Sweetgreen restaurants offer healthy options derived from sustainable and locally available raw ingredients served at a fast food pace. Neman says, the Sweetlife Festival organizers say their event promises to promote the same philosophy they espouse in their 11 restaurants—that living a healthy lifestyle should be easy and fun. He says that every component of the event, from the menu to the décor of the grounds to the vendors and exhibits on display will somehow reflect this sentiment.
The Sweetlife Festival, however, developed from the need to attract attention to the opening of their second eatery. What started as simply playing music from a speaker out in front of the store, turned into a block party where they would invite local acts to play. In 2010, the first “unofficial” Sweetlife Festival was actually held in a parking lot adjacent to one of their locations and featured regional bands.
Just as the food served inside the restaurant had connected patrons physically by feeding their bodies, Neman explained, “the music we played outside connected people emotionally.” Establishing a full-fledged festival under their “sweetlife” umbrella brand just seemed like a natural progression for the trio.
Since then, the festival has grown tremendously and pick up sponsorships.

Musical acts for the 2012 event have expanded to two stages. On the main stage, festival goers will see headliners Avicii, Kid Cudi, The Shins, Explosions in the Sky, Fitz and the Tantrums, A$AP Rocky and Fun. Over at a second stage, called The Treehouse, acts like Twin Shadow, Zola Jesus, Delta Spirit, The Knocks, RAC, U.S. Royalty, Yuna and others will keep the party rolling. A total of 20 performers will appear throughout the day. Neman and his friends choose the bands based on personal preferences and styles range from indie rock to hip-hop to electronica.

Since its founders are also foodies, festival-goers this year will be treated to an array of tantalizing dining choices in the newly added Food Forest. Along with Sweetgreen’s menu, other gourmet offerings include José Andrés (gazpacho and flautas), Momofuku Milk Bar (pastries, coffee, ice cream), Shake Shack (all natural burgers and shakes), Taim (falafel and smoothies), Roberta’s Pizza (gourmet wood-fired pizzas) and many more. A total of 30 vendors will participate.
In addition to the music and the food, Neman says the festival strives to generate as much energy as it needs to operate.
“We partnered with the nonprofit organization Global Inheritance that will be provide all sorts of interactive games, see saws and bicycles, which will actually create power,” Neman said. “Some of the power we use for the festival will be offset by the power we create. We want this to be a ‘carbon neutral’ event.”
Global Inheritance will also feature their TRASHed store where festival goers can bring bottles, cans and other recyclables and trade them for small prizes. (This should make clean up a little easer for the grounds crew after the event as well!) Vendors and festival partners will be using compostable, biodegradable or recyclable materials to serve or package foods. Other items that may be for sale, t-shirts for example, will be made from sustainable resources and with organic fabrics and dyes. Coincidentally, the pavilion at Merriweather is itself supplemented by power from solar panels on the roof.
On top of all this, Neman and his team have turned the festival into a way to support community service organizations as well. Among the cuisine offered by famous restaurants in the Food Forest, D.C. Central Kitchen will also have a presence. D.C. Central Kitchen’s mission is to feed the homeless, offer job training, and support their communities through the recycling of leftover and surplus food from area, restaurants, hospital kitchens and food service entities. Neman says a portion of the proceeds from the festival will go to DCCK. Furthermore, Sweetgreen has started partnering with D.C. Central Kitchen to offer workshops on how to choose healthy foods to elementary school children in the Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia regions.
While many festivals feature a variety of music and sometimes themed vendors or exhibits, few seem to have attempted to promote the healthy and sustainable lifestyle philosophy, as well as the community consciousness, in the way the Sweetlife Festival attempts to do.
“Definitely there are some festivals that we look up,” Neman says. Some of the festivals he sites include Coachella, going on now in Indio, California, the food offerings at Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Bonaroo, something of a cultural event in Manchester, Tenn., and Wanderlust, which combines yoga, music and speakers for events, in Vermont, Colorado, California and British Columbia. “They all have something special about them,” Neman says.
Only the Electric Forest Festival, formerly called Rothbury after the town in Michigan where it is held, addresses issues of sustainability, environmental awareness, and is also a musical event, Neman says. “We just view Sweetlife as a party with a purpose,” he says.

Neman expects the Sweetlife Festival to sell out and VIP tickets, which went for $125, already have. As for now, general admission tickets to the Sweetlife Festival are $75 from Ticketfly. Gates open at noon on April 28.

Scott "Wino" Weinrich performing "Hold On Love"

Scott “Wino” Weinrich is among Maryland’s most talented and well respected musicians. I recorded this clip during a Feb. 11, 2011 acoustic only performance at Sonar in Baltimore, MD. This was among one the best “small” shows of last year for me.

Wino has contributed to a dozen bands in his career so far including The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Probot, Spirit Caravan, The Mentors, Hidden Hand and many others. Saint Vitus will be performing Sunday at the Maryland Deathfest. While he is widely credited with crafting the doom sound, this song “Hold On Love” from the solo album Adrift, just proves he is at home in any setting. Enjoy!

Iron Man puts spring schedule in motion with videos

The members of legendary doom metal band Iron Man have been getting crafty lately. Recently they spent some time recording video footage to go along with some carefully (demonically) selected conceptual video and have come up with a singular visualization for the song Grown. The song comes from their most recent self-released EP Dominance. If you read the lyrics to the song, the clips go along pretty well with the theme.

The video features founding member of Iron Man Al Morris III on guitar, Louis Strachan slapping the bass, Screaming Dee Calhoun on vocals and introduces newest member, drummer Jason Waldmann.

Iron Man has some shows coming up. One on April 14 at Cafe 611 at 611 (duh) N. Market Street in Frederick, MD. This one is with psyche-doomic rockers Admiral Browning and suspiciously named band Fat Chick Meat Haul. It starts at 9 p.m. and costs just $7. Get your taxes done and go. They made a video flyer for that one too. Check out each band in advance!

They also have a huge gig coming up on May 12 in Ottawa (that’s in Canada) at a joint called Mavericks. The show has been dubbed All That is Heavy 2. They will be sharing the stage with Blood Ceremony and a bunch of other cool doomy, sludgey, experimental bands such as Blizaro, Revelation, Monobrow, and Loviatar. I have never been to Canada, so I am looking forward to taking a little road trip to check this out. Look for more Iron Man news in the coming weeks.

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