I’ve got good news and good news. The good news is that Indianapolis melancholic doomers Apostle of Solitude have a new album in the works. So what’s the other good news? The other good news is that in the meantime, to herald this progress, the four-piece has put together a performance clip of the song “Blackest of Times” from their previously-streamed Demo 2012, and they’ve been gracious enough to let me host a premiere of it.
Demo 2012has never strayed too far from my player or consciousness since I picked it up last year at Days of the Doomed II in Wisconsin, and I don’t think there’s been a cloudy morning since that I haven’t at least had the chorus of “Blackest of Times” run through my head since. The song has one of those quintessentially doomed melodies that Apostle of Solitude seem to toss off at will, carried across by the vocals of guitarists Chuck Brown and Steve Janiak (the latter also of Devil to Pay) while bassist “Iron” Bob Fouts and drummer Corey Webb lock in an ultra-heavy groove as a base for said melody to soar, following the song’s righteously heavy progression through a verse and chorus equally memorable and into a galloping, chugging payoff that proves more than worthy of the “oh fuck yes” response it demands.
With audio initially recorded by Fouts at Basement Rage Studios and the video filmed and edited by Janiak, the video for “Blackest of Times” is definitely an in-house affair, but it’s nonetheless a quality clip that shows Apostle of Solitude in their native habitat — the rehearsal space — and gives some sense of the dynamic from which their emotionally resonant and engagingly personal doom emerges. Between that and having an excuse to revisit the track itself — definitely deserving of another look, whatever the context — there was no way I was going to pass this one up.
Apostle of Solitude, “Blackest of Times” official video
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Chicago blackened metallers Chrome Waves have announced a run of shows that’ll take them up and through the Northeast next month. The trio features Stavros Giannopolous (The Atlas Moth), “Iron” Bob Fouts (Apostle of Solitude) and Jeff Wilson (Wolvhammer) and their debut EP is out now on Gravedancer Records, so if nothing else, you can rest assured they’ll have some pretty killer merch along for the ride. This from the PR wire:
Chrome Waves Announce US Tour Dates for August
Chrome Waves has quickly made an impact on the metal community with the release of their self-titled EP earlier this month on Gravedancer Records. Now, the band has finalized plans for a tour through the US in August that will see them join forces with bands like Skeletonwitch, Mares of Thrace, Morne, Bloodiest and more!
08/10 – Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge (w/ Mares of Thrace) 08/11 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Jukebox (w/ Skeletonwitch) 08/12 – Columbus, OH @ Carabar 08/13 – Baltimore, MD @ TBA 08/14 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie 08/15 – Providence, RI @ TBA 08/16 – Somerville, MA @ Radio (w/ Morne & VattnetViskar) 08/17 – Brooklyn, NY @ SaintVitus (w/ Bloodiest) 08/18 – Pittsburgh, PA @ SummerSeanceFestival (w/Derketa, Bloodiest + more)
Chrome Waves‘ self-titled debut is available in-stores and online now!
Posted in audiObelisk on June 20th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Of all the discs I picked up on my recent excursion to the Middled West, in stores or at merch tables, none so far (and I had about 15 hours in the car to listen) has made the same kind of impression as the three-song Demo 2012 by Indianapolis doomers Apostle of Solitude. Perhaps it was seeing two out of three of the tracks live first and their having made such an impression that way and then following that up with the CD, but whatever it is, that was some of the best cash I spent on the whole trip, and don’t tell The Patient Mrs., but I spent a bit.
Somewhere in the depths of rural Michigan, as I put on “Blackest of Times,” I recognized the song immediately. If you ever wanted to know what kind of impact low end at its best can have on trad doom, listen to when “Iron” Bob Fouts kicks in on the leadoff cut on Demo 2012. Together with drummer Corey Webb, Fouts promulgates an insistence of groove that’s both classic and definitively modern in its style, and at the same time, the integration of guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak alongside Chuck Brown has both pushed Brown more to the fore as a singer and presented an avenue by which the melodic complexity of the band can develop.
To wit, “Die Vicar Die,” a song that’s as catchy as anything in Apostle of Solitude‘s still-budding catalog — yes, even “The Messenger” or “Hunter Sick Rapture” — also finds room in its near eight minutes for a ranging instrumental break that lets Brown and Janiak explore guitar interplay no less lyrical than ultra-fitting and ultra-doomed early verse lines like, “How could a righteous god/Forgive a monster like me,” simultaneously expanding on the galloping riff-led finish of “Blackest of Times.” Demo closer “Good Riddance” is the shortest of the three tracks at 5:59, and also built around a strong chorus, a chugging riff straight out of classic metal driving home the growth of the band without sounding like a put-on or over the top.
“Good Riddance” cuts off right at the end — that’s how it is on my disc, from which these tracks were directly ripped — and it’s important to keep in mind that Demo 2012 is just that; a demo. The performances are live-sounding and I don’t think it’s mastered, but from where I sit it gives an excellent impression of where the band is headed for their next full-length.
Check it out right here:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
For more on Apostle of Solitude, you can see the interview I did with Brown following the release of their second full-length and Profound Lore debut, 2010′s Last Sunrise, also reviewed here. Or you can just hit them up on Thee Facebooks. Either way. Special thanks to the band for the permission to feature the songs.
Posted in Reviews on June 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Day Two at Days of the Doomed II began with what, if I were the proprietor of a diner or family restaurant, I would call the “Aristotle Omelet”: Feta cheese and gyro meat with tzatziki sauce on the side. I almost asked for pita instead of toast, and if I had it to do over again, I’d get tomatoes in there as well, but it nonetheless was the foundational meal for a hearty afternoon and night of doom to come. Did better for me in any case than the bar pie that later served as dinner at The Blue Pig, the delicious smell of which offered no hint of the agita betrayal to come.
Postman Dan and I, in good spirits despite the periodically downpouring rain, tried to hit a record and horror/movie/music memorabilia store called Graveyard (not, presumably, to be confused with the band of the same name), but finding it closed for the weekend, headed over to the venue to catch the start of the day. A lineup 11 bands strong — Blizaro, Beelzefuzz, Apostle of Solitude, Argus, Blood Farmers, Blackfinger, Earthen Grave, The Skull, Earthride and Solace – began with Die Monster Die, and if you told me the reason Graveyard Records was closed was because the owner was busy opening down at The Blue Pig, I’d believe it.
The three-piece Die Monster Die, who’ve reportedly been a band since 1984, played the kind of rudimentary, horror-loving post-Misfits punk ‘n’ roll you’d expect. Every town has an equivalent act (in New Jersey, that act happens to still be The Misfits), but for being immediately familiar, choruses about snakepits and college girls — watching them, I could picture the words followed by exclamation points on a movie poster — weren’t offensively redundant. Two false starts preceded their first song, and though they looked like a monster ran into a couple bikers and asked if they wanted to be his rhythm section, somehow it worked.
Ever one for making the wrong decision, I waited to start drinking until later in the afternoon. Already my head was swimming with the thought of the drive first back to Lansing to drop off Il Postino (which I’ve never called him, but will one of these days) and then subsequently to New Jersey, so until I actually began downing beers and decided I didn’t give a fuck anymore, the earlier part of the day felt a little like a pre-gallows last meal. Nonetheless, I was stoked to find Blizaro taking the stage after Die Monster Die with Orodruin‘sJohn Gallo on guitar and Mike Waske on drums. Joined by bassist Mark Rapone — who would’ve won had Days of the Doomed II had a beard competition — Gallo took the fore vocally and unleashed a palpable horror obsession that was all the more fitting after the lead-in it got from Die Monster Die.
A mad scientist cackling behind his Moog, Gallo made no bones about his allegiances. Blizaro came across like Goblin raised on Pentagram, and theirs was honestly the only Paul Chain cover I’ve ever heard that actually fit with a band’s own originals. They did “Voyage to Hell” from Paul Chain Violet Theatre‘s 1984 outing, Detaching from Satan (it also appeared on Chain‘sAlkahest in 1995), and though they were silly and they knew it, and though Gallo‘s vocals were rougher than Orodruin bassist Michael Puleo‘s had been the night before in that band, the atmosphere was distinct enough that comparisons between one act and the other felt superfluous. Two out of three of the same dudes, but a different band with a different kind of charm.
Their set went long. Rapone broke a bass string. It happens. They never really regained the momentum they had going into that technical difficulty afterwards, but they still got to finish out their full setlist because Beelzefuzz — apparently in a game of oneupsmanship as regards misfortune — blew a tire en route to The Blue Pig and didn’t have a spare. Indianapolis’ Apostle of Solitude stepped in to fill the slot, and though at this point they’re too good a band to play so low on the bill, the circumstances were what they were. By the time Blizaro finished, Apostle of Solitude only went on 20 minutes early, anyway. I don’t know if people figured Beelzefuzz weren’t coming or what.
Either way, Apostle of Solitude had a new demo for sale (the band has since granted me permission to host it for streaming; it’ll go up tomorrow) with three songs, and they played two of them — demo opener “Blackest of Times” and “Die Vicar Die” — quickly showing off melodic progress in their approach. The insistence in the drumming of Corey Webb and the bass of “Iron” Bob Fouts made the groove of “Blackest of Times” even more satisfying, and the addition of guitarist Steve Janiak (also of Devil to Pay) following 2010′s second album, Last Sunrise, has clearly given frontman Chuck Brown more range vocally. Arrangements on the newer material were more complex, and Janiak and Brown sounded even better during the chorus of “Die Vicar Die” live than they do on the recording.
For what it’s worth, that song was stuck in my head before it was finished — the chorus I was hearing was “All the good die,” instead of the title line, which I didn’t know yet — and it has remained there pretty much ever since. Brown waffles the melody as he and Janiak hold out the second “die,” and it reminds of ’90s heavy without directly emulating grunge or being anything other than Apostle of Solitude‘s increasingly individual take on doom, separating stylistically even from fellow Hoosiers The Gates of Slumber, whose bassist Jason McCash was working the merch table while Apostle played and who had reportedly had a rough show a few nights earlier in their hometown. Some light teasing ensued.
And though Brown preceded set-closer “The Messenger” from their 2008 Sincerest Misery debut with an “Alright ladies” — because it’s not metal unless someone questions your masculinity first — that wasn’t enough to take away from the early headliner feel of their performance. Pennsylvania natives Argus capitalized on that vibe and took the stage gracefully bearing more reverence than even vocalist Butch Balich‘s pedigree in Penance could give them. It seems their two albums — 2009′s Argus debut and the follow-up, Boldly Stride the Doomed (which was on my Top 5 I Didn’t Hear in 2011 but which I bought from their merch table) — have made quite an impression.
No argument. Argus, who were already pretty solid when last I encountered them live (SHoD in 2009; no review), have grown into an accomplished and formidable traditional doom outfit. Balich is the focal point, his vocals are stellar and powerful, but the dual guitars of Jason Mucio and Erik Johnson behind him made a strong case for classic riffage, and the rhythm section of drummer Kevin Latchaw and bassist Andy Ramage complemented the metallic drive well. The mix seemed off in that the vocals were loud, but listening to “Durendal” from the second album, I didn’t even mind. Chewing gum the entire time, Balich hit notes that would’ve cut lesser singers in half, making it sound easy. If I had that kind of talent, I’d chew gum too.
The room was filling up by the time they were halfway through — no time like the present to start drinking — and The Blue Pig seemed pretty quick to roast, but the band handled it well, and boldly strode through the extended “Pieces of Your Smile” and a cover of Candlemass‘ “At the Gallows End” (from Nightfall, 1987) that was as well performed as it was bravely chosen. Balich is probably one of two or three doom vocalists in the US who could hope to stand up to Messiah Marcolin, and though he didn’t display the kind of dramatic acrobatics (or, if you’d prefer: dramacrobatics) that distinguished Marcolin in his day, neither did he fall short of the task before him. Having given the mic to the crowd twice in the chorus, he kept it to himself for the last round, as if to make plain his ability to do so. Point taken.
Like Apostle of Solitude before them, Argus also finished off with the first song from their first record (unless I have that order wrong and it was the Candlemass cover last; someone please correct me if need be). “Devils, Devils” was well met with a sing-along chorus, and by the time it was done, Beelzefuzz had finished loading in their gear. They looked haggard and stressed from their road troubles, and with the extra time that had been taken from Blizaro‘s bass string and longer set, there wasn’t much room for them on the bill. They got on stage quickly after Argus and as a “thanks for making the trip”-type consolation prize, played two songs.
Car troubles suck, and because I’d enjoyed what I’d heard of them previously, I made sure to buy the Marylanders’ demo. They seemed to be way more classic rock-influenced that I’d previously given them credit for being, but still, they were barely there. Two songs wasn’t really enough time for them to build any momentum or hook the crowd, and they were pretty much a stopgap on the way from Argus to Blood Farmers, however cool those two songs might have sounded. Fest organizer Mercyful Mike Smith took the stage after they were done and said something about probably being the most hated guy in the room for cutting them short, but I think everyone knew the deal. They’ll just be one more thing to look forward to about SHoD in August.
It was somewhere right around this time, maybe a little later, that I realized The Blue Pig had Newcastle in bottles. Probably the timing there is fortunate, or I’d have long since been on my ass by the time Blood Farmers got going. As it was, I was conscious enough to watch guitarist Dave Szulkin (also of the recently-reviewed The Disease Concept), bassist/vocalist Eli Brown and drummer Tad Legerreceive a proper and encouraging amount of respect from the crowd. Blood Farmers are a fest band for me, it seems. I caught them last year twice, both times at festivals, and while I’d like to see how they’d do on a bill of their own, their no-frills doom does really well standing them out subtly from a crowded surrounding lineup like that at Days of the Doomed II.
This was the second time I’d heard new song “Headless Eyes” live — it’ll also reportedly be the title-track of their next album — and it confirmed its awesomeness. On the whole, the performance was more or less on par with last year’s SHoD showing, but Brown‘s vocals are more confident, and after hearing Szulkin‘s guitar in The Disease Concept, I almost couldn’t help but pay closer attention to his solos, which impressed more than I’d previously given them credit for. It’ll be really interesting to hear what a new Blood Farmers album sounds like. It’s been 17 years since their self-titled came out, but their footing is sure, creatively, and they’ve only gotten tighter the more I see them. I’m anxious to hear how the full-length comes out.
Between the bands, I was taking notes at the bar (you can see them at the top of this post) and the bartender asked me, “Are you keeping score?” I said I was, that they were winning, and asked for another Newcastle, which she graciously gave me. With the start of Blackfinger‘s set, the evening was about to get awfully Troubled, and it seemed only right to be ready. I was looking forward to Blackfinger specifically, apart from just getting to hear Eric Wagner sing, after interviewing him last year and spending a not-at-all-insignificant amount of time with their single, “All the Leaves are Brown” to prepare. They played that song and a host of others from their yet-to-be-released debut album.
Should say something about Trouble‘s impact on the Midwestern doom mindset that more than a quarter of the day’s lineup would be devoted to members of the band and their projects, and not to take away from the rest of Blackfinger or what the band was doing as led by Wagner‘s songwriting — where was the standup bass? — but really, he couldn’t help but stand out. The sunglasses, the curls, the calm stage demeanor seemed to make of him a center around which the rest of the band revolved. All well and good — I don’t think anyone would argue the Chicago native doesn’t deserve to have a project in which he has sole control — some kind of solo… project…? — but speaking as a doom fanboy and someone with a keyboard in front of him, it’s time for all these dudes to get over their crap and get Trouble back together.
I’m sorry, but it needs to be said. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Blackfinger or former Trouble bassist Ron Holzner‘s Earthen Grave, who followed. In fact, I’d hope that both Wagner and Holzner would continue their involvement in these other bands as well and just go back to Trouble in addition to working with them. I know things were shitty when the band was trying to put out Simple Mind Condition in the States in 2007 and the label, Escapi, folded and whatever else happened and egos clashed and blah blah blah, but seriously, let’s get this thing moving. It’s time. Time for one of those killer heavy metal comebacks and time for Trouble to regroup, get some good PR behind them, tour with Saint Vitus and get their fucking due from the booming American doom scene. Season of Mist? Napalm Records? Fuck it, somebody‘ll sign the band. Get some new shit going — maybe don’t call the album The Dark Riff, as previously intended — and do it before you decide you’re sick of the whole thing and walk away entirely.
Watching both Holzner and Wagner do a set of Trouble songs as The Skull only underscored the point of how much a full Trouble reunion — Wagner, Holzner, Bruce Franklin, Rick Wartell and Jeff “Oly” Olson — needs to happen. But let me back up. Before that, Holzner veered farther from the Trouble blueprint with Earthen Grave, who are somewhat more progressive and who had the honor of playing host to the weekend’s only female performer in violinist Rachel Barton Pine. That’s right. One lady, and even she had to wear a leather bustier before they’d let her on stage — okay, maybe not, but you get my point. They were also the weekend’s only six-piece (unless you count Solace, who have Beer as their unofficial sixth member). They did songs from their self-titled full-length, which I bought, and though I was underwhelmed at their 2009 demo, I feel like I got some better sense of what they were going for watching them live, the guitars coming through with more energy and vocalist Mark Weiner proudly showing off his Earthride shirt and stage presence at once. Being sandwiched by two Eric Wagner-fronted sets is no easy task, and I salute the Earthen Grave singer for standing up to it.
By midway through their set, though, I was drunk enough for a shot of Crown Royal — What? No Jameson’s? — to seem like a mildly good idea, and things only got more tragic as The Skull took shape on stage. The catalog they were drawing from — i.e. Trouble‘s — was vast, and it was like they went into it saying, “Oh, so it’s doom you want is it?” And you know what the thing is about Trouble‘s doom? It’s fucking doomed. That’s some depressing shit right there, and I guess I was feeling the weight of the trip, the day, the beer, and all of it when they hit. I hadn’t realized Olson wasn’t going to be a part of The Skull as well, but as he reportedly dropped out to wait for a full reunion, I give him even more respect for not doing it half-hearted.
I was starting to feel like I was doing it half-hearted myself, but then The Skull kicked into “At the End of My Daze” to close out their set and I got all pathetic doom geek about it. Didn’t do much to improve my mood, but I fortunately had enough wits about me to stop imbibing, and when Earthride got started, their thickened Maryland doom grooved away the rest. I know frontman Dave “Sherm” Sherman has a gravelly speaking voice, and I know he talks about Wino a lot, and I know he’s a character on stage and his stage moves are a lot of fun and it’s awesome when he puts his arms up on the handlebars for the song “Earthride” and whatever else, but more than anything, what I took away from Earthride‘s performance at Days of the Doomed II? The dude can fucking sing.
Really. He’s always been about presence, right? There’s never been any doubt who you’re watching when you’re watching him front Earthride — that’s Sherm, no doubt about it. And he’s become a godfather of Maryland doom, and rightly so. But on 2010′s Something Wicked and in the several times I’ve seen him since, he’s shown that he’s more than going through the motions or capitulating to doomly expectation. He’s putting his heart and soul into singing those songs, and his melodic range isn’t his hallmark — it’s like not he’s James Fucking LaBrie up there — but it says something that rather than rest on his laurels as he easily fucking could at this point with three killer Earthride records under his belt (not to mention the EP, the digipak re-release of which they had for sale at their merch table and which I bought) and a tenure playing bass in Spirit Caravan before that, Sherman is pushing himself to be a better singer and actually becoming one. I have 10 mountains of admiration for him, sincerely. The dude sweats doom in the face of neither glory nor remuneration.
Add to that the fact that Earthride — as a full unit — are possibly the tightest now that they’ve ever been and become more of a blues band every time I see them, and you can’t lose. Bassist Josh Hart‘s Rickenbacker combined with guitarist Kyle Van Steinburg‘s tone results in a molasses so lurching there were moments during their set at Days of the Doomed II where I wasn’t sure they were actually moving the way you look at a glacier and have to wonder. Drummer Eric Little, charged with giving that glacier its push, punctuated the hooks of “Something Wicked” and “Fighting the Devils Inside of You” just right, and new song “Blackbeard’s Scorn” was the heavy’s heavy. Earthride‘s been together going on 15 years in one form or another and it feels like they’re just hitting their stride.
And if I can directly quote from my notes just once in this already considerable second in a series of two reviews, let me just say this about Solace, “Do I really have to drive out to fuckin’ WI to see a band from Jersey? Worth it.” Here’s the way “the Solace magic” works: You don’t play a show in more than a year. You get back together with your former drummer with whom you haven’t played in even longer than that — Kenny Lund told me at one point it’d been four years since he’d played out with Solace — then you show up at the fest you’re closing out, get loaded, and absolutely fucking destroy. Ta-da!
If Solace had their shit together, it wouldn’t work. If they arrived on time, or didn’t leave you wondering if their set was even going to happen, it wouldn’t have the same force when it actually did. It has to be as volatile as it was at Days of the Doomed to be Solace. Their frustration is what makes it go.
However many times I’ve seen Solace at this point, I don’t even know. This was not their cleanest set, not the tighest, or crispest, or soberest. What it was, though, was honest. I stood in front of the stage at The Blue Pig and I watched five guys rip through a set of songs they believe in the way people believe in god; the kind of deep, instinctive belief that you couldn’t separate them from if you even wanted to, and watching them, wanting to was about the farthest thing from my mind, seconded only by the drive home I’d be starting in about eight hours. They were the only band all weekend to make the stage they were playing on look small. I said that afterwards to vocalist Jason and he asked me if it meant they were getting fat. No, it meant that he, guitarists Tommy Southard and Justin Daniels, bassist Rob Hultz and Lund brought something to close out Days of the Doomed II that no one who played before them had been able to capture. On stage, Southard called it “drunk Jersey scum rock.” Maybe that’s what it is — that’s as good a name as anything I could come up with — but whatever you want to call it, it’s theirs and theirs only.
They finished with an extended jam on Pentagram‘s “Forever My Queen” — the second of the weekend’s two Pentagram covers — and by halfway through the song, Lund was leaning on the back wall. I know from speaking to them that they were down on the performance, but god damn, if you’re going to end a festival, do it with something you can’t possibly imagine anyone following, and that’s what Solace brought to Wisconsin. And then it was over.
Before I go, a note on the travel: There was a lot of it. I left out of the hotel at about 7:40AM Wisconsin time, dropped Postman Dan off in Lansing at 2PM and made it back to my humble river valley with miraculous expediency at 11:40PM, taking the life of only one possum in the process. It was a fucking lot of driving. More than I’d prefer to do in one day. But for the quality of memories I brought back with me to the Garden State, worth even the cost of gas on the Ohio Turnpike.
Special thanks to Mercyful Mike Smith for hosting me (and everyone else, I suppose) at Days of the Doomed II, to The Patient Mrs. for booking my hotel (Eli from Blood Farmers‘ line was, “Ooh, the Wyndham. Somebody has a job,” and thanks to him too), to Postman Dan for the most excellent company and Michigan microbrew recommendations, Tommy and Jenn Southard, Lisa Hass, the staff at The Blue Pig and, most of all, to you for reading.
The above clip of trad doomers Apostle of Solitude playing the ultra-melancholy “December Drives Me to Tears” from their 2010 album Last Sunrise was filmed by Steve Janiak of fellow Indianapolis rockers Devil to Pay and mixed with audio captured by Michael Lindenauer, a noted taper who also happens to manage Iron Man. Pretty good draw for Apostle of Solitude there, and like they were at SHoD (where both Lindenauer and Janiak also put in an appearance; the latter on guitar), they’re spot on in their performance of the song.
It’s not exactly doom season yet around here — I tend to focus more on this kind of stuff when it’s cold out, and I’ve got the air conditioning on full blast as I type this — but it’s been awfully riff-rocky around here lately, and I thought some good doom might mix things up. Wouldn’t you know my head went right to Apostle of Solitude when I thought of the words “good doom.” Go figure.
Next week I’ll be posting my interview with John Garcia of Kyuss (Lives!), so look out for that. We’ll have another installment of the Orange Goblin studio update series, and the dudes in Wizard’s Beard also turned in their Six Dumb Questions emailer, so hopefully that will be up as well. Also, if all goes according to plan, reviews of Lord, Dixie Witch and others. Weedeater is playing in Brooklyn tomorrow night if you’re around. I’ve got my niece tomorrow, so I won’t be at the show, but if you go, hope it’s a blast. I think Oxbow is playing too. Heavy.
Speaking of heavy shows in Brooklyn, don’t forget that Sept. 20, The Obelisk and BrooklynVegan are teaming up to bring you a night Sept. 20 at Union Pool with three of Small Stone Records‘ finest acts: Suplecs, The Brought Low and Lo-Pan. More info on that here and here. I’ve been thinking of it as an unofficial advance party for New Yorkers ahead of the Small Stone showcase in Philly that weekend.
Wherever you end up tomorrow or beyond, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I have some news I need to catch up on putting on the forum, so I’ll see you there and back here Monday.
Posted in Features on August 13th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Taking the day off work to get down here in time was the right choice. I sat in traffic on I-83 for long enough that, had I put in even the most temporary, in-and-out-type appearance at the office, I’d have been late. And the south side was just rubbernecking. There was an overturned 18-wheeler that had spilled whatever it was carrying on the northbound side, and it was closed off. They were redirecting traffic through wherever the hell it was, and it added an hour onto my trip, easy, but it could’ve been much worse. I could have been driving that truck.
Because it’s already two in the morning, and because I’m tired, and because there’s a lot to get to, I’m going to cover Stoner Hands of Doom XI in note form. That seems like the most direct line between point A (the show) and point B (the coverage). Tomorrow, pending sobriety and/or the requisite energy — both of which are in short supply at the moment — I might decide to do something completely different. I reserve that right. For now, here goes:
Borracho: After the ride down from NJ and the arrival at the Days Inn where I’m staying, I opened up the bottle of wine I brought with me, turned on the stream of the Yankees radio broadcast and tried to relax a bit before heading back out over to Krug’s Place. Needless to say, the “fuck it” demons were out in full force, but not missing Borracho was a big part of what got me off my ass and back in the car over to the venue. Really. They were even better tonight than they were with Truckfighters, and they basically started their set with the soundcheck. I guess it was kind of a stutter way to kick off the fest, but once they got going, they were locked in for sure. They still need to tighten up their presentation, but already they were too good for the early-showing crowd that caught them. I felt fortunate to be in that number.
Ancient Astronaught: I didn’t realize it until I talked with guitarist/vocalist Skipper (who identified himself as such) following their performance, but all three members of the Fairfax, Virginia, three-piece are formerly of Ol’ Scratch. Skipper was in the band in 2008 and toured with them, and some of the lessons he learned in that now-defunct outfit he’s obviously brought to Ancient Astronaught — most pivotally in tone. Theirs was the first of several truly sick Sunn tones throughout the night, and though their songs were basically vehicles for conveying riffs and shouts and the occasional bit of stonerdelia, I’ve zero complaints with that. They were loud as hell and I dug it as one of several instances tonight in which my earplugs were rendered useless.
Against Nature: They’re another one. Speaking of Sunn amps, Against Nature guitarist/vocalist John Brenner played pedal-less (quite a contrast to Skipper‘s setup during Ancient Astonaught; his pedal board literally lit up) through a Sunn Beta Lead, and it was one of the most gorgeous tones of the night. Bassist Bert Hall, Jr., also won out on the night’s best bass sound, as it was crisp and clear, but still full and totally fuzzed. Having been a fan of Against Nature‘s work for so long from the albums, it was excellent to finally see them live. The laid back air Brenner brings to the recordings was still intact, but they definitely had a vibrancy to their set as well. Killer to get some classic rock on the SHoD bill. I spent their whole set thinking about how much ass a tour of them and Stone Axe would kick.
Windhand: I’d seen their name forever, and they had the drummer from Facedowninshit (he might also be in The Might Could — and where the hell, might I ask, are those guys this weekend?), so I was excited to finally see Windhand in-person, and they didn’t disappoint. They laid it on thick and viscous with Electric Wizard-style riffing, and that was enjoyable enough, but their considerable noise element only made the whole affair heavier. Strange to have that kind of noise following Against Nature, but it worked. It was that kind of bill, and the people who were there were more than willing to go along for the ride. They were a lot of fun, and I tried to acquire a CD, asking both vocalist Dorothea Cottrell and guitarist Garrett Morris, to no avail. The Richmond outfit continue to elude me, but they killed.
Apostle of Solitude: Here’s who I was at the show. I was the guy who, as Apostle of Solitude — now featuring Devil to Pay axeman Steve Janiak on second guitar/vocals alongside bassist “Iron” Bob Fouts, drummer Corey Webbb and guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown — was setting up, yelled out “Celtic Frost!” I have zero regrets at having done so, especially since they wound up closing with “Procreation of the Wicked.” They played one or two new songs before getting there (I seem to recall one was called “Good Riddance” or something like that), and were generally awesome. I’d seen them in NYC a while back and they were good enough at that time for me to buy not one, but two, t-shirts, both of which I still wear on the regular. If they’d had a third to go with their SHoD set, I’d totally have picked it up. Their split CD with The Flight of Sleipnir and Rituals of the Oak would have to suffice, and as I’m sitting here in survival testimony, indeed it did.
Negative Reaction was supposed to headline tonight in place of The Gates of Slumber (Lord, also listed on the poster above, will play Sunday), but fest organizer Rob Levey got on stage as Apostle of Solitude were finishing what would have been their regular set to announce that a member of the band had an immediate medical emergency. Guitarist/vocalist Ken-E Bones and drummer John “Old” MacDonald were hanging out in the Krug’s parking lot, so pretty safe to assume it was bassist Damon who had the trouble. They’ll hopefully be able to round out the bill tomorrow.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well, it’s a new announcement in the sense of the specifics, but as savvy Obelisk attendees know, Apostle of Solitude frontman Chuck Brown was talking about heading east this July for shows all the way back in February during our interview about his band’s second album, Last Sunrise. Glad to see it’s all come to fruition.
The dates came in via the PR wire from Profound Lore, and since there aren’t that many of them and it’s not like Apostle of Solitude is on tour eight months out of the year, I strongly urge you check the band out should they be in your area. Doom:
Indianapolis doom metal heroes Apostle of Solitude will be embarking on a mini US tour this July which will take them on the road in support of Last Sunrise. The dates and bands listed to play with AoS for the tour are listed below, with some venues TBA (which will be updated of course upon confirmation). We can only imagine how monumental the tracks from Last Sunrise will sound live. Dates are as follows:
07/17 The Loud House, Cincinnatti, OH (w/ Beneath Oblivion and Highgate)
07/18 TBA, Pittsburgh, PA
07/19 The M-Room in Philadelphia, PA
07/20 Court Tavern, New Brunswick, NJ (w/ Maegashira)
07/21 Ace of Clubs, Manhattan, NY (w/ Archon, Kings Destroy)
07/22 Bug Jar, Rochester, NY (w/ Orodruin)
07/23 Annabell’s, Akron, OH (w/ Mach II, Mocking Bird)
07/24 Metal Shaker, Chicago, IL (w/ Iron Tongue)
07/30 Melody Inn, Indianapolis, IN (w/ Earthride, Valkyrie, and Bible of the Devil)
Posted in Features on February 26th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
The above headline, “Looking Forward to Go Back,” is modified and taken out of context from the last line of my recent telephone interview with Apostle of Solitude guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown. Brown was talking about touring Europe, which is something he did as a member of The Gates of Slumber. But I think the phrase can be applied to Apostle of Solitude as a whole, what the band does, their sound and their execution. They look forward to go back.
The music on their sophomore offering, Last Sunrise — the follow-up to 2008′s stellar Sincerest Misery — is undeniably modern in structure, sound, feel and production, but there’s also no question that it is traditional doom, and linked to a lineage of bands that spans decades. But, with eyes geared toward the future, they’re not just rehashing old Sabbath or Trouble riffs and calling it a record. They’re bringing that sound, and us as listeners, forward with them.
Brown, who is joined in Apostle of Solitude by Justin Avery (guitar), Brent McClellan (bass) and Corey Webb (drums), recently took some time out for an in-depth telephone interview to discuss the careful processes behind making Last Sunrise, and the consideration that went into the details of the album. Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.
Posted in Reviews on February 8th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
When it comes to the kind of emotive, traditional doom in which Indianapolis, Indiana, four-piece Apostle of Solitude traffic, an album like their 2008 full-length debut, Sincerest Misery, is a hard one to top. The record was a triumph of precisely what the title suggested, and each song carried a drama with it that was neither over-the-top nor silly, but felt remarkably human and real to the listener. The guitar and vocal work of Chuck Brown (ex-The Gates of Slumber) was essential to this process; his voice in particular heralding the doom of yore with an urgency not often heard in their genre.
So if Apostle of Solitude had anything post-Sincerest Misery, it was their work cut out for them. It is, therefore, all the more satisfying to say that Last Sunrise, the band’s label debut for Profound Lore, more than lives up to its predecessor on every level. From the massive, slow bleed that closes “December Drives Me to Tears” or the visceral emptiness that makes up the whole of “Letting Go of the Wheel” — a rare song that feels too short at nine minutes — Apostle of Solitude the nigh-impossible balance between progress and staying true to what’s already been established as their sound. Five of the nine non-bonus cuts on Last Sunrise are over the seven-minute mark, the closing trio of “Sister Cruel,” “Frontiers of Pain” (huge) and “Coldest Love” (ditto) hitting in succession following the aforementioned “December Drives Me to Tears.”
But it’s somehow cheap to talk about song lengths when even the shorter material, songs like “Hunter Sick Rapture” (a paltry 4:45), pack so much weight as well. Based around a traditionally NWOBHM galloping riff, the song is no less forlorn than its more spread out musical compatriots. If anything, the band sounds all the more desperate for the extra energy. The opening title track, “Last Sunrise (Requiem)” is little more than an intro, albeit one whose slow unfolding is even more of a setup for the album to come than the song itself. Perhaps Apostle of Solitude wanted to start Last Sunrise with the more straightforward, rocking material up front, because both “Acknowledging the Demon” and “Other Voices” are under four minutes. Brown and guitarist Justin Avery lead the charge, making “Acknowledging the Demon” an immediately memorable affair, but the rhythm section of drummer Corey Webb and Brent McClellan do an excellent job of grounding the songs, whether the atmosphere’s oppression is coming from the outward heaviness of a given track or its naked minimalism.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 18th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
In a stirring bit if newsly awesomeness, Indianapolis trad doomers Apostle of Solitude have finished work on their new record, Last Sunrise, due out in March on Profound Lore. If you’re not looking forward to it yet, you should be. I’ve already put up the tracklisting, but the even more important news is that the band has uploaded two songs from Last Sunrise already, one of which is right here:
The song is called “December Drives Me to Tears,” and goodness gracious it’s doomy. Apostle of Solitude is perfect for a case of the winter bum-outs. The other new song can be heard on the band’s MySpace, and it’s called “Hunter Sick Rapture.” Also rules.
Profound Lore had this to say about Last Sunrise:
Last Sunrise is a surging work of traditionally played hard hitting doom metal in the familiar vein of such bands as Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, St. Vitus, and The Obsessed (whose track “Streetside” the band cover on the North American version of Last Sunrise), you know, the usual legendary suspects. It’s an album that touches upon the realistic modern-day themes which confront our emotions through trials of grief, loss, and ultimately, inevitable despair. The musical journey of Last Sunrise is an adventurous one and by the time the surging album closer “Coldest Love” (which we attest will be one of the best doom metal tracks you’ll hear all year, a track quite reminiscent of the power that bands like Warning unleashed with their Watching from a Distance album) falls upon the listener, the tale of the doomed lovers unravels as the inevitable end triumphs in pure doom metal glory.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 12th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
One of the main reasons I don’t at all regret signing up for the Profound Lore newsletter is they send over killer label updates like the below about Indianapolis doomers Apostle of Solitude‘s new album. If you didn’t catch last year’s Sincerest Misery on Eyes Like Snow, consider it highly recommended. Here’s what Profound Lore has to say about the follow-up:
We?re awaiting the final master to the new album from the new gods of US doom metal, namely Apostle of Solitude. Last Sunrise is a doom metal masterpiece that comes across as the heaviest and most emotionally driven material that Apostle of Solitude have crafted. In what easily surpasses the band?s previous work (and we know how good that is), Last Sunrise is a soul stirring doom metal opus that is a soundtrack to the emotional and tragic circumstances that we get confronted with during these harsh times of need and desperation.
Tracklisting to Last Sunrise goes as follows: 1. Last Sunrise (Requiem) 2. Acknowledging the Demon 3. Other Voices 4. Letting Go of the Wheel 5. Hunter Sick Rapture 6. December Drives Me to Tears 7. Sister Cruel 8. Frontiers of Pain 9. Coldest Love
Our version (Eyes Like Snow are releasing this in Europe) will include three exclusive hidden bonus tracks as well (these were recorded by The Gates of Slumber/current Nachtmystium live drummer Bob Fouts). Them being ?Streetside? (The Obsessed), ?Mary and Child? (Born Against), and ?Astro Zombies? (The Misfits).