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Darsombra drone in Metro Gallery’s first show of 2013

Baltimore’s audio/visual mind-benders Darsombra perform Friday, Jan. 4 at Metro Gallery with the unpredictable duo Jucifer of Athens, Ga. and heavy hitting thrashers, Radical Discharge. Darsombra recently completed a quick European tour with Stinking Lizaveta and launched a new album Climax Community. If your New Year’s resolutions included expanding your mind, then tuning in and dropping out at this show would be a great way to start.


I listed Climax Community among my top albums of 2012, and for good reason. Guitarist Brian Daniloski uses multiple guitars and effects pedals to transport listeners to another auditory realm. His partner Ann Everton pairs his sounds with visual experiences that will make psycho-active chemicals seem quite unnecessary.  Released in October 2012, Climax Community is Darsombra’s first on the German label Exile On Mainstream. You can listen to a full stream of the recording at this link on Decibel Magazine.

Brian and Ann were willing to answer some of my inane questions. Their answers follow.

How did you come up with your specific sound? 
Brian: My sound was developed over a long time, by playing guitar and experimenting with effects pedals. Especially around the beginning of the century, I was trying to make one lone instrument sound like a whole band, or even an orchestra, and things just evolved from there. I was really inspired by the Thrones, Robert Fripp, and KK Null, at the time.

Why do you like to incorporate visuals into your show?
Brian: I’ve always enjoyed incorporating visuals into the live shows of the bands I’ve been in (Meatjack, and before that, Stranger Than Fiction), but with Darsombra, we’re taking it to the next level.
Ann: What that means is that we’re working with a sense of synergy. We’re finding ourselves in a symbiotic relationship–Brian makes the music, and then I make the videos in response to the music, and then he plays the music back in time with the videos–keeping time with them sort of the way a band keeps time with a drummer.

What was the European tour like? What were some highlights? 
Brian: The tour was a blast–it’s always fun to travel, see new places, make new friends, and catch up with old ones.
Ann: Also, it’s fun to examine the difference between Europe and America–it makes us realize things we want to change about how we live (i.e. no one has a clothes dryer, people bike a lot more than us for transportation, cars are smaller, toilet paper is smaller, people live smaller), but also appreciate things here at home (i.e. the multiculturalism that is inherent to America, despite our weird and often fucked-up history).
Brian: There were lots of highlights on that tour. I remember in particular being woken up in our hotel room in Stolzenhain, Germany, to the sound of The Obsessed rehearsing “The Way She Fly”–from all the way on the other side of the village, about a mile away, where the South of Mainstream festival was held.
Ann: I really loved our time in Luzern, Switzerland. After the show, the promoter fed us homemade chestnut parfait, and then we took a 3 a.m. visit to the neighboring barn to feed the cows. . . and then we went on a walk on the Wanderweg (a Swiss national hiking trail) behind the venue in the moonlight!

What was your goal in selecting the music for Climax Community?
Brian: I wanted the music to document and reflect where I am right now as a musician, and I wanted the album to be epic and expansive. This time around I’ve incorporated acoustic guitar and more vocals than previous efforts. Climax Community is a completely composed album, whereas our previous release in 2012, Mega-Void, was entirely improvised. I wanted to present two sides of Darsombra’s sound.

What’s coming up for Darsombra in 2013?
Ann: We’ve scheduled a tour in February, down to Austin and back to promote the new album. Also, we’ve possibly got another European tour in fall, and we’d like to start contacting people in Japan. We just moved to a new house with new studios so hopefully new music and videos will be coming forth in 2013, and, if there’s time, we’d like to get a quick tour in, before the end of the year on the moon.

Tickets to Friday’s Metro Gallery show are $8 on MissionTix.

Check out this video below. Winter tour dates after the jump.

DARSOMBRA Wintour 2013:
2/15/2013 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
2/16/2013 Blackout Effectors – Asheville, NC
2/17/2013 Wonderroot – Atlanta, GA
2/18/2013 Caledonia Lounge – Athens, GA
2/19/2013 Siberia – New Orleans, LA
2/20/2013 TBA – Lafayette/Baton Rouge, LA
2/21/2013 The Dalzell House – Shreveport, LA
2/22/2013 Club 1808 – Austin, TX
2/23/2013 Downtown Music – Little Rock, AR
2/24/2013 TBA – Memphis, TN
2/25/2013 Pilot Light – Knoxville, TN
2/26/2013 TBA – Harrisonburg/Charlottesville, VA

Related links:


Graveyard’s bassist heads to rehab

Graveyard, that beautiful Swedish concoction of blues, metal and fuzzy guitar distortion, have decided to give their bandmate, bassist Rikard Edlund, the time he needs to get clean from addiction. The group just posted the statement below on their Facebook page
Rikard Edlund of Graveyard. Photo by M. Spiro
I saw Graveyard here in Baltimore back in January at Golden West Cafe. It was among the best shows I have seen this year. You can read a little about that show here
Graveyard also just released a new album, Lights Out, and as you will read, they fully intend to tour in support of their record with a temporary replacement for Edlund. I hope Rikard gets the help he needs so he can get back to making music. I love Graveyard a lot so I wish him and the band the best as they power through this tough time. What follows is the Graveyard statement on this matter.

It’s not only rock ‘n’ roll.

Sometimes in life you have to make decisions that are neither simple or easy to make. Graveyard have – after a time filled with difficulties and a search for solutions – been forced to make such a decision. Due to personal problems with addiction, it has come to the point where Rikard, to get the proper help, will have to take a break from touring with the band. Rikard is without a doubt still a member of Graveyard, but as things are at the moment it just doesn’t work and something has to be done. The other members give Rikard their full support and the time off needed to try to beat this. 

How this will affect the band – it is agreed upon by all four members that the show will go on and to do so the band will tour with a stand in bass player. This has been a far from easy decision to make and the timing isn’t the best. But Graveyard as a band has it’s mind set on being around for a long time to come. And looking at it from that perspective and Rikard’s personal health this is the only option. 

This is all the band have got to say about this somewhat personal matter and we’ll give the final words to Rikard himself:
“After living the hard life for most of my life. It has come to the point that I have to take a break from playing the music that I love.’

INTERVIEW: Tatsu Mikami wants you to join his Church of Misery

I am not a fan of church membership in general. But if I were to be a congregant in any church, it would be Church of Misery from Japan. Spacey, psychedelic, doomy and ultra heavy, rest assured Church of Misery will do a great job transitioning the audience at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest on Sunday afternoon to the grittier soundscapes expected later that night from Saint Vitus and Electric Wizard.

For whatever reason, Church of Misery likes to write songs about serial killers. But their sound is so 70s old school psychedelic that you will have to keep checking to make sure you are not listening to something recorded around the time of Black Sabbath’s first album. In addition, their live performances are reminiscent of Cathedral.

Founding member and bassist Tatsu Mikami earns a beer from me for his replies to my basic interview questions. He wears his bass slung so low on his hip that I am not sure how he manages to play it. But I guess that is his secret to success. Other current members include Junji Narita – drums,  Kensuke Suto – guitars, and Hideki Fukasawa – vocals and analogue synthesizers.

This is first time we will play the US. So we are prepared to play our ‘BEST’ set list including all three albums. All C.O.M fans surely will be satisfied!” Tatsu said.

Just before MDF, Tatsu said C.O. M. will be finishing their seventh European tour. This latest three-week outing included the UK, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. I know the Swedes were digging their sound, as this New Wave of Psychedelic Doom Metal is really popular there.

While they are in the US, Church of Misery. will be making several stops. Tour dates can be found here. Each date includes Gates of Slumber and either Rwake or HailHornet.

What special surprises will they have for deathfest attendees? “We will bring special T-shirts for MDF. It’s available only at MDF – very limited!” Tatsu said.

Church of Misery seems anxious to perform for America. “I would like to say – very sorry for keeping you waiting! We will be devastating all venues like GOZILLA!”


Countdown to MDF X: (31) The Devil’s Blood

So here’s the deal. The Devil’s Blood does not want to be perceived as just a  typical rock group. Rather they might wish to be viewed as some sort of performance art meant to ignite your hellish awareness. They exist to perform “rituals” (not concerts) in honor of their dark lord. They call their songs incantations and their merchandise, weapons. They are demonic minstrels of Old Scratch.  OK, whatever. I don’t believe in devils, spirits or gods, so their message is somewhat lost on me.

To give you a better idea of their philosophy, here is a paragraph I plucked directly from their Facebook page:  “The Devil’s Blood is a dedication to principles and principals more ancient than Time, a branch of a tree greater than the World, an exclamation of both the profound and the profane. The Devil’s Blood has always been one of the many vessels through which the Light of the Devil shines upon the darkness of the world and shall always be the possible entrance to a path walked alone. But only for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. This path starts not in understanding but in confusion.”

The fact remains, however, that The Devil’s Blood IS a musical group, and a pretty damn good one. Borrowing from the 60s psychedelia and the 70s guitar riffs, they have created, for a new generation, an interpretation of something like the grit of the Jefferson Airplane mixed with demonic overtones of Coven. The melodies are memorable and complex; the female lead vocalist is bold but not sweet.

The band was founded in The Netherlands by guitarist Selim Lemouchi and his sister, vocalist Farida Lemouchi.  Aside from them, other band member names were hard to confirm. I have read that this is because the band members are of no importance, only the art is important. The Devil’s Blood performs at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest on Saturday afternoon. Their sound is a mighty departure from most of what you will hear over those four days.

TDB is currently on tour with Behemoth, Watain, and In Solitude. Here are some songs from their earlier and most recent recordings.

The Flying Eyes, Night Beats, Psychic Ills at Golden West Cafe

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Last night, Golden West Cafe in Baltimore, Maryland, featured a trio of bands playing psychedelic, garage rock and soul.

Opening up was Baltimore’s The Flying Eyes. Sounding a little like a cross between The Doors, Grand Funk Railroad and Blue Cheer, this band is surfing that “new wave of psychedelia” yet with their own original twists. I picked up a vinyl copy of their newest recording Do So Wrong and will review it in the near future.

Reminiscent of The Animals and early Beatles, Night Beats got a little group of folks dancing. Definitely check out this Seattle trio. They were a ton of fun.

Lastly, Psychic Ills set the strobe lights to stun and lit some incense for their set. They were the slowest tempo group of the bunch and set almost a doomy vibe. I have never seen so many effects pedals in use by a keyboardist.

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.

Alcest brings French, blackened shoegaze to Baltimore’s Golden West Cafe

Tonight at Golden West Cafe, I will be seeing the amazing and awe inspiring band from France–Alcest. I had the pleasure of seeing this group open for Enslaved last September at Mr. Smalls in Pittsburgh.

Alcest’s sound is sparse and emotive. Their roots are in black metal but their work has transcended that into the realm of folk, shoegaze, alternative and I don’t know what all. I don’t like to classify it, though I am sure someone will want to. It is extreme music, clearly defined by black metal, but also refined by a strong sense of melody. Sometimes the vocals are clear and haunting, sometimes they are raspy and shrill. Either way, the music evokes feelings of loss, darkness, despair but with some hope and longing thrown in. Their wall of sound surrounds and cradles you in a dreamlike world that is at once comforting and disturbing.

The primary members of Alcest are Neige on guitars/bass, synths and vocals and Winterhalter on drums, however I believe they will have some touring members. All the songs are in French, so unless you are fluent don’t worry about the lyrics.

Supporting Alcest on this tour is Deafheaven a more traditional sounding black metal band from San Francisco. Expect tremelo guitar picking, blast beat drumming and shrill vocals. There is a nod to Burzum with their sound, but I like Deafheaven a little better because I find the melodies more congruent and the songs more carefully constructed. They have almost an indie rock song structure but the arresting vocals keep it clearly in the black metal genre. Listen to Deafheaven here.

The local opener for this show is Arbouretum, a band I saw first earlier this month. They’ve been around the Baltimore area for a long time and have a strong following both nationally and internationally. Arbouretum is not a metal band but more like a doomy, psychedelic trip that attracts a crowd that wishes they could see the Grateful Dead.  Having seen the Grateful Dead many times, I can attest to this attraction but say that Arbouretum is far and away a much more musically interesting band. Sure you could sway back and forth and just zone out if you wanted to, but the music is not going to let you rest for long and Dave Heumann’s voice will call you back to reality. You can hear a very new song right here. Imagine Gordon Lightfoot with some fuzzed out guitars and a pounding backbeat. In mid April, Arbouretum embarks on a five week European tour. See them now.

UPDATE: Photos from the show and afterwards.

Graveyard resurrects psychedelic garage rock for the end of days

If you were one of those kids who snuck a listen to your parent’s 70s psychedelic rock records (think Cream, Hot Tuna, Blue Cheer on vinyl) then you’ll be glad to know that a host of musicians are re-interpreting that groove for the 21st century. Three such groups played a sold-out show at Baltimore’s Golden West Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012: Sweden’s Graveyard, Iowa’s Radio Moscow and Daniel Davies of Los Angeles.

While so many bands today are lured into using sampled sounds and synthesizers, it feels good to just bask in the aural presence of that fuzzy, stripped down sound upon which my own musical sensibilities were nourished and weaned. And clearly I am not alone, since Golden West was packed with fans of the genre who were enthusiastic as I was.

Before the show started I had a few minutes to chat with members of Graveyard. Every show so far on their tour has sold out starting with a 600 capacity venue in New York City. Bassist Rikard Edlund showed me his Blue Cheer tattoo (“My first tattoo!” he said), a clear indication of his permanent devotion to the musical style. Neither he nor drummer Axel Sjöberg really understood why this type of music seems to be making a comeback.

“Maybe it’s time,” Edlund said. “It’s been 40 years. People are realizing how great it is and it is time to bring it back.”

“I hope it never stops!” Sjöberg added.

The show got rolling with Daniel Davies, who presented a solid set. I had never heard them before, but Davies was a perfect complement for what was to come. Here’s a sample:

Next up was Radio Moscow. Apparently this group has had a bit of a personnel “shake up” in recent days that left lead singer and guitarist Parker Griggs with a hefty gash on his forehead and 14 nasty looking stitches. The current rhythm section consisting of Billy Ellsworth on bass and Lonnie Blanton on drums have only been playing for a week, but that fact was not apparent. Radio Moscow certainly picked up new fans from Baltimore.

I spoke with Griggs after the show. I recorded it, so rather than me type all that out, why don’t you give a listen and hear what he has to say for himself. Griggs provided me with a copy of his new CD, “The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz.” I will review it in the near future. Do yourself a favor and go see the new and improved Radio Moscow. Great sounds, great guys.
INTERVIEW: Parker Griggs of Radio Moscow 1-15-12 by MetalMaven
Graveyard’s show was everything I expected and more. The sound in Golden West was surprisingly clear, which was a happy discovery since I was a little worried about how it might be, the place being a restaurant and all. Joakim Nilsson’s vocals sounded just as bluesy and soulful as in studio recordings. The stage was small and barely large enough to contain the four of them but they managed. The melody interplay between Nilsson and lead guitarist Jonatan Larocca Grimm was perfect. Sjöberg is a bat-shit crazy good drummer that pulls a large sound out of a fairly minimalistic kit. And bassist Edlund blew everyone away with his aggressive and frenetic technique on songs like “Ain’t Fit to Live Here.”

The entire show was my “favorite” since this band evokes such visceral musical memories from my childhood (I was that 3-year-old who listened to Cream), but highlights included “Satan’s Finest” and “The Siren.” Along with the fantastic music, the entire show was accompanied by a good old-fashioned colored-water and oil, overhead projector light show courtesy of “Lance.” Groovy man.

Graveyard plays Washington DC’s DC9 Club January 16 and then move on to Richmond and North Carolina and points west before heading back over to Europe. If they come within 200 miles, I recommend you make the pilgrimage to see them, as well as Radio Moscow and Daniel Davies. And don’t forget to wear your fringed leather vest.

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