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Photo highlights of Days of the Doomed III – day 1

Here are just a few of my favorite photos that I took during the first day of Days of the Doomed Fest III in Cudahy, Wisc. at The Blue Pig Tavern. No review now; actually I don’t feel qualified to do that. But I did enjoy every band I saw on Friday, which was a surprise for this black metal wretch.

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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. 

GUEST BLOG: Growing up with Lord Dying

Lord Dying, an emerging heavy metal band based in Portland, Oregon, combines an intense metal experience with lyrics on the darker side of human existence – songs about depression, doom and dismemberment, peppered with heavy riffs and a not-so-hidden distaste for humanity.

Lord Dying

I’ve (**see note below) known two of the band members – Chris Evans (guitar) and Erik Olson (guitar, vocals) since elementary school, growing up in Sandy, Utah. Chris was the kid who wore black Nirvana T-shirts to school in third grade and Erik’s parents’ basement was a noted pit stop for several bands on tour. We all loved music and played in bands off and on since middle school. Chris reminds me he’s been a metal fan since Erik gave him a copy of Megadeth’s Rust in Peace for his birthday in the fifth grade. This past fall I saw Lord Dying rock in Richmond, Virginia, during their last U.S. tour with the band Red Fang at a completely packed, sold out show. I recently chatted with Chris about their new album coming out this coming June on Relapse.

Since forming two and a half years ago, Lord Dying has developed their own sound and formed a clear metal style. The band consists of four members in addition to Chris and Erik, including Don Capuano (bass) and John Reid (drums). I asked Chris what influences their music and he tells me they draw on various styles such as thrash, doom and prog. He tells me his tastes are much broader now as he draws on other musicians than exclusively metal bands, for instance the classical guitarist Augustine Barrios, whose complex fingering techniques make their way into his own riffs.

Lord Dying has toured with bands such as Witch Mountain, Black Cobra, Gaza, Danava and most recently Down, lead by the singer of Pantera, where they played three shows together in Seattle, Portland and Boise, Idaho. In 2012 they played two U.S. tours, first with Witch Mountain and most recently with Red Fang. It was during this last tour they received their record deal from Relapse Records.

Erik, me and Chris at the Richmond, VA show.
“We were pretty much the last ones to find out,” Chris laughs, “It was a big surprise. One of the guys from Relapse kept calling us before the show to hang out and we didn’t know why.”
I ask Chris if it’s difficult to be on tour. “It’s definitely a lot of driving and waiting around for the thirty minutes we’re on stage, but it’s worth it. We play shows every night and never get enough sleep. But when we get home we want to be back out again.” They plan to continue touring this summer and line up bigger metal shows so they can promote their new album. 
Their musical process involves frequent collaboration and experimentation. Erik writes all the lyrics and song titles and has more lyrics written then they have songs for. After splitting up for awhile, Chris and Erik started playing together again when Erik moved to Portland and came over to jam.
“We wrote our first song right then. John and I started the band and were looking for another guitarist. When we jammed with Erik it all came together. We knew what we needed to do. The chemistry was still there.” Indeed, that first night they wrote their first song, “In a Frightful State of Gnawed Dismemberment”, which will appear on their full-length LP coming out in June (also available at here) and quickly started playing riffs and pouring out new songs. The band has remained in its current form since Erik joined.

For west-coasters, Lord Dying has two shows lined up in their home base of Portland, one at the venue Branx on March 8th, and Stump Fest on April 20th. You can follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LordDying and Twitter at https://twitter.com/Lorddying for tour information and band updates. Expect to be blown away!

**NOTE: This blog post was written by my friend Jacob Koskimaki, who is super smart and works at the University of Virginia. Together with his friends from Lord Dying, we are converting him into a metalhead.

Eye of the Stone Goat 2 fest dooms Delaware

As if Delaware were not doomed enough, Snake Charmer Booking has announced a new doom metal music festival “The Eye of the Stoned Goat 2” for Saturday, February 9. Set at JB McGinnes Pub in New Castle, the show features 10 stoner rock and doom metal bands from the mid-Atlantic. Tickets are $10 and doors open at 5 p.m.

The festival line up includes Delaware locals Wasted Theory and Heavy Temple along with Maryland heavyweights Iron Man, Blackhand and Beelzefuzz. Pennsylvania acts include Wizard Eye, Clamfight, Skeleton Hands, Thee Nosebleeds and Pale Divine.

I spoke with festival organizer Brendan Burns, who is also the drummer for Wasted Theory, about why he decided to put on Eye of the Stoned Goat:

What was your inspiration for organizing this fest?
I wanted to do a smaller version of the Stoner Hands of Doom festival basically. I just love the idea of a three or four day long show where you can see so many great bands at the same time. So, it had occurred to me that between Delaware, Philly and Maryland, that I could do a miniature festival of my own, with some of my personal faves from the area. And that’s really what inspired me.

What was the first Eye of the Stoned Goat Festival like?
Last November I did a five band show at Mojo 13 in Wilmington with Black Cowgirl, Borracho, Wizard Eye, Wasted Theory, and Behind the Ghost. It was really just me testing the waters to see if anyone besides me enjoyed this type of music enough to fill a venue. The turnout was decent, not jam-packed like I was hoping, but decent. All the bands had a great time, and I just liked the name of the event so much that I decided to continue with it.

Tell me about the vendors. Why are you including them too?

When I decided I was going to do 10 bands on this bill, I really wanted to bring a festival-like vibe to it. All the festivals I’ve ever been too there’s always lots of great vendors doing some really cool stuff, and I wanted a little sample of that at my show. So, I decided I wanted some record labels to come sell their their records and swag and any other cool music inspired merchandisers. So, at this year’s event we have Anthropic Records and Dullest Records from Philly, Red Heart 13, which is a jewelry and photo type company, Useless Rebel Imaging will be there, he does amazing band photo’s, and DeadDave from DeadDavesRadio will be there.

What about the venue?

The venue is awesome, it’s at a bar called JB McGinnes, in New Castle, DE. It has a sound system that could rival the Trocadero (in Philadelphia) and is seriously one of the best places to have such a show. I think people are going to be blown away by how great the stage and sound really is there. 
What else do we need to know?
JB McGinnes Pub is located at 519 E. Basin Rd, New Castle, DE 19720.

Tickets for Eye of the Stoned Goat 2 are $10. You can find out more about Snake Charmer Booking events on their website or Facebook page. The website has tons of useful links to audio and videos fo the bands playing as well as to listings of nearby lodging and so forth.
Brendan says he is already looking into making next year’s ESG a two-day event, so if bands are interested in being considered they should contact him at SnakeCharmerBooking@gmail.com.

A dozen years of doom: SHoD fest celebrates pearl anniversary

Twelfth anniversaries are supposed to be celebrated with pearls, a priceless item that takes years of hard work and grit to make. Likewise, it has taken years of determination and musical grit to keep Stoner Hands of Doom (otherwise known as SHoD) festival on track for so long.
SHoD 12 takes over the El ‘n’ Gee Club in New London, CT from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2. Bigger and doomier than ever, this year’s festival features heavy metal hitters such as EarthrideThe Skull and Iron Man, along with  37 others. I was able to chat with festival creators Cheryl Williams Levey and Rob Levey about their annul destination event for fans of doom and stoner metal that they created out of pure love for the genre. Rob and Cheryl, former husband and wife, remain bonded by a mutual love of doom. This interview was conducted via email on two separate occasions.  Responses have been edited for length.
How and why did the festival begin?

CWL: The first SHoD was in August 1999. Rob and I had been talking about it for a number of years and it was one of those “why don’t we just do it?” sorts of things. He had been thinking about doing something big to promote the doom scene ever since the Hellhound heyday when he fronted Iron Man and that band along with other DC doom bands were on the German Hellhound record label (Wretched, Revelation, Internal Void, Unorthodox). At that time, I was doing a DC-Balt area hard rock newsletter called Word of Mouth, and that is how Rob and I met. Anyway, in 1999, Hellhound was no more, he wasn’t in Iron Man any more, and I hadn’t done Word of Mouth in years, but we both still wanted to promote the music in some way, and SHoD was born.
RL: The festival was something I had talked about and actually worked on with others for maybe 15 years before SHoD happened. For me I wanted to highlight the scene in DC with so many great bands for so many years. It evolved into the whole scene from all parts of the the US and even parts of the world. 
How do you go about selecting the bands that will play?
CWL: We do it in two ways, primarily. The first is that we both make a list of our first choices, and then we invite those bands to play. These are bands we wanted on previous SHoDs but couldn’t for whatever reason, bands we’ve discovered since the last SHoD, bands who’ve played before that blew us (and everyone else) away, etc. As we fill the bill with the bands we invite, the gaps are closed with other bands who contact us who have the right sound. We do try to stick to a doom or stoner sound, though we have had some interesting offshoots in sound. Sometimes really good bands contact us that sound great but just aren’t the right sound for the blend of bands we have. If you look back through our history, you’ll see that SHoDs done in the east tend to have a much more Doom sounds, while SHoDs done further west were more influenced by the stoner-fuzz sounds.
RL: Partly it is bands I know I contact to see if they are interested in doing it. From there we receive tons of requests especially after we announce where and when it will happen in that particular year. I usually will add bands that I dig, ones that are different and unique. Sometimes there are regional reasons. They need to have some melody and if I hear or see them live, they have to give it all they got, whether playing in front of five or 500.
Why do you hold the festival in different locations each year? 
CWL: So that we can attract different bands to play. Different areas of the country have different scenes and different sounds. If you look at the history, doom is concentrated here around DC, like grunge was concentrated in Seattle, psychedelic concentrated in San Francisco, glam in Los Angeles, the southeast has a heavy southern rock flavor, southwest has the fuzz, etc etc. And every one of those genres has a sub-genre/sub-culture that injects the heavy sound. We want to keep it heavy, but promote these different sounds around the country.
RL: In the beginning it was out of necessity. When we were doing the second one we needed somewhere to have it and Nyabinghi (former club in Youngstown, Ohio) was the bar closest to where we lived that would do it with reasonable terms. From there though we wanted to start having it in different locations to see and hear more variety and energy from different locations. Now we are trying to do it in places we haven’t before. Hopefully it is appreciated.
What is is that you like specifically about doom metal?
CWL: Wow, this is a very hard question. This is a better question for Rob, really. As for me, the first doom band I ever heard was Internal Void. And the thing is, it just grabs you. There is something about the sound, the way it vibrates up your legs from the floor, the way everyone who is part of this scene is just so cool. People talk about mosh pits and stuff like that, but at a doom show, mostly what you see is the entire audience headbanging in unison. No violence, no pits. Every now and then someone gets too drunk, but for the most part it’s very cool when you think about it. 
RL: I have listened to doom since late elementary school and just always have loved the almost gut feeling of the sound the tempo and the atmosphere. I loved  early Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Then I was was lucky enough to hear bands like The Obsessed and Pentagram (previously known as Death Row), Legend, Angel Witch, Witchfynde and Witchfinder General, then lucky enough to be part of Hellhound Records with Internal Void, Unorthodox, and Blood Farmers. Anyone who has seen me at shows knows that it is in my blood and soul. I love it.
What is your most cherished memory about a past festival? 

CWL: Again, a very hard question, because they all held special memories! Let’s see… The first SHoD was held at an outdoor venue in August after an entire summer of drought, not a drop of rain. At the moment Bobby Liebling (singer of Pentagram) arrived, the storm clouds appeared out of nowhere so suddenly that no one could even prepare, and we got what felt like a hurricane. One of the memories of that one was Wino on stage desperately trying to hold tarps down over the amps and everyone crowded under the tent we had and then the incredible coolness of everyone as we moved the whole thing to a club in Wheaton (Phantasmagoria). SHoD Two in Ohio,  Bottom did a mind-blowing set! SHoD Seven in Arizona,  Golden Godz. Shirtless fur-wearing frontman and straight up San Fran fuzz/rock, wow. SHoD Eight in Arizona – this one had way too many, this one was incredible. Electric Magma, Against Nature, Supergiant, Sasquatch, Ol Scratch, oh yes. And then there was SHoD 10 in Maryland. Internal Void, ’nuff said there. The surprise set of the weekend for me was Elder. These young boys show up at my door to stay for the weekend and they were so sweet and respectful and then they got on stage and it was like Jekyll and Hyde and absolutely KILLER! They are a band to watch, definitely. SHoD 11 – the best memory of that one was just the feel-good feeling that prevailed the entire weekend. Before 11 was over, we were discussing doing SHoD 12 in New England. We had noticed a surge of doom sounds and bands coming out of that area, and wanted to focus the show there to give those bands some exposure. So that’s where we are now! At each show, one band would just rock my world. I want to emphasize that at our SHoD shows, I think ALL of the bands are good – Rob and I do handpick them, and so many of them I love SO much, and the specialness of seeing some of them is not diminished by being able to see them more often than other bands because they are local. So please do not take that I mentioned specific bands above as meaning I think they are better than others – at the time of their set, they were just really ON and I had just the right mind frame, and all the stars aligned to make that particular set magic. For more info on the history, you can check out http://www.cherylsweb.com/shod/history/index.html.
RL: That’s not fair. I have so many met so many great people so many great performances. Saw awesome cooperation from people. It’s really an accumulation of moments that I have. Plus I think the best feeling or worst are on Sundays around dusk when I realize its only got a couple hours to go. I will leave it at that and look forward to making many great memories for years to go.
What are some important things that you want people to know about this year’s festival? 
CWL: Well, one of the biggest things is that this is the first SHoD that is ALL AGES. We really want to get the word out about that because we have always had to turn people away because of the age restraint. 
RL: Just expect one awesome weekend with a ton of great performances.
Anything else you want people to know?
CWL: We love this music and we love the scene!
RL: As long as this is fun and the music fresh and exciting we will be here to be our tiny part of this awesome scene. We really appreciate every one’s support and hope they will support their local scene go see some great music and just have a blast.

For more information about SHoD and to buy tickets for one or all days, visit the SHoD fest website. At just $60 for all four days, it is among the least expensive festivals you can attend. Below is a list of all bands play each day. The first band listed will likely play last (or headline) each day.

Thursday Aug 30thRoadSaw
Black Thai
Ichabod
Raw Radar War
Birch Hill Dam
Rozamov

Friday Aug 31stPilgrim
Earthride
Revelation
Junior Bruce
Wizard Eye
When the Deadbolt Breaks
Stone Titan

Saturday Sept 1stThe Skull
Pale Divine
Devil to Pay
Earthen Grave
Admiral Browning
Orodruin
One Inch Giant
BeezleFuzz
Black Cowgirl
Kin of Ettins
Curse the Son
Stasis
Eerie
Akris

Sunday Sept 2ndIron Man
Elder
Black Pyramid
Summoner
Negative Reaction
Hovel
Gypsy Chief Goliath
War Injun
Skrogg
Fire Faithful
Borracho
Insano Vision
Witchden

INTERVIEW: Red Fang’s Bryan Giles with podcast

My first exposure to Red Fang was on a Relapse Records sampler. The song was “Number 13” from their album Murder the Mountains. As someone who listens to a lot of death and black metal, Red Fang’s massive, swinging sound stood out to me as somehow “Southern.” It wasn’t what I usually listened to but, hey, I really liked what I heard. I can listen to both kinds of music, HEAVY and METAL, can’t I? And Red Fang was definitely heavy.

Only later did I learn this stoner metal group hails from Portland, Oregon. I put them on my list of bands I needed to see live. And I hate myself for missing their sold out show at the 9:30 Club in the fall of 2011 when they toured with Mastodon. What did it matter that I had a final paper to write?
I can nearly forgive myself now, as Red Fang embarks on a short tour with another heavy stoner metal band, The Sword, form Austin, Texas. The combination of Red Fang with The Sword should bring out an interesting crowd of PBR-drinking, long-haired biker types. 
Red Fang starts off June with a short headlining tour before meeting up with The Sword on their home turf. The duo plays Baltimore on June 21 at Sonar, which is where I will see them,. For this show, and a couple others, they will be joined by Liquid Metal favorites, Kyng from Los Angeles.
Again, these three bands sharing one stage is almost too much to comprehend. The evening will be ruled by beer bellies, big beards, heavy guitar riffs and clean melodic masculine vocals. If this show only had a BBQ going in the alley and a burnout contest in the parking lot, my sweaty, rocking’ redneck-y evening would be complete. 
I had the chance to speak with Red Fang’s guitarist Bryan Giles recently, and he told some interesting stories about their recent European tour with Black Tusk (another band I need to see live). The conversation ranged from the importance of funding art in public schools to wardrobe and hygiene while on tour. Thanks for the chat, Bryan.
You can listen to the entire conversation at this the link below. 







Red Fang headling dates include:
June 1: Seattle, WA @ Highline

June 12: Boise, ID @ Neurolux
June 13: Salt Lake City, UT @ Bar Deluxe
June 14: Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
June 16: Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves


Red Fang mini-tour supporting The Sword dates include:

June 17: Houston, TX @ Fitzgeralds (feat. Honky)
June 18: New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues Parish (feat. Honky)
June 19: Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade (feat. Kyng)
June 20: Raleigh, NC @ Kings Barcade (feat. Kyng)
June 21: Baltimore, MD @ Sonar (feat. Kyng)
June 22: Westchester, PA @The Note (feat. Kyng)

Countdown to MDF X: EYEHATEGOD

I meant to write about Eyehategod about a week ago, but somehow I got sidetracked, and I know exactly how this happend. When I started to research for the write up on New Orleans sludge rock legends Eyehategod and their appearance Thursday, May 24 at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest, I totally became fascinated with the personality of their frontman Mike “IX” Williams. It’s not hard to do. So, Mike Nine, I apologize profusely. I spent so much time reading about you and your band that I actually thought I wrote the band’s profile, too.

My blogging oversight though, would be the least of Eyehategod’s worries. This band, and Williams, have persevered through drug addiction, Hurricane Katrina, temporary breakups, and now, most recently, a shunning by Scion A/V metal for who-knows-what. Drama, drama, drama. None of that really matters though because Eyehategod engenders the kind of ravenous and hardcore fan devotion that most bands can only drink themselves into believing they have.

And why is that? Well, just listen to them. Taking the best from bands like Black Sabbath, The Melvins and even some punk bands like Black Flag, Eyehategod grinds out distorted riffs and slamming rhythms that hypnotise the audience into a slow stoner sway. Unlike some stoner doom or sludge bands who use clean or traditional vocals, Eyehategod opts for the grindcore like screams and rants of lead vocalist Williams. And they don’t always keep the tempo at a snails pace, but will bust out a punk-inspired bridge in the middle of the slowest drone. Lyrically intelligent, Eyehategod explores violence, social unrest and personal emotional turmoil.

At one time a prolific “tweaker,” Williams now is a prolific tweeter. So if you are into Twitter, you can follow his commentary on society and all things related to Eyehategod and his side projects here. He has written a book called Cancer As a Social Activity. It’s powerful stuff that should be heard, so I have included a link to him reading from it below.

This stoner metal band was reportedly founded on the auspicious date of April 20, in 1988. Along with Williams, the current line up includes Jimmy Bower (guitars), Brian Patton (guitars), Gary Mader (bass) and Joey LaCaze (drums).  According to the running order on the MDF X website, they play after Absu and before Agalloch.

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