Maryland Doom Fest 2017: Set Times Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

So I guess we’re pretty much ready to roll on Maryland Doom Fest 2017, right? We’ve had the lineup announced, we’ve got the schedule now. Might be another couple weeks getting t-shirts together — and hoodies; should’ve gotten a hoodie this year, which admittedly is something that occurs to one way less at the end of June than in mid-November — but then I’d say we’re about good to go. No need to wait until next summer on it. Let’s do this thing.

Maybe that’s just me being excited at the prospect of that Friday night lineup, which seems particularly strong front to back — not to take away from any of the other days, but you know I dig me some Lo-Pan — but either way, if Maryland Doom Fest‘s now-three-year tenure has been marked by anything it’s a lack of bullshit. A fervent get-down-to-business-and-kick-as-doing-it mentality. It’s perhaps the most “Maryland doom” aspect to the whole event. Maryland Doom Fest 2017 is clearly no different. Here we are more than half a year from the event kicking off and I know what time I need to be there on Thursday to watch Spillage start the pre-party. This is information I’m glad to have.

If your calendar isn’t marked yet, you might want to get on that:

maryland-doom-fest-2017-poster

The Maryland Doom Fest 2017

June 23, 2017 – June 25, 2017

Cafe 611
611 N Market St, Frederick, Maryland 21701

ROSTER SLOT TIMES

**PRE FEST PARTY THURS JUNE 22
• Valkyrie 1150 – 1250
• Beastmaker 1055 – 1140
• Pilgrim 1000 – 1045
• Borracho 915 – 950
• Weed Is Weed 830 – 905
• Sweet Heat 745 – 820
• Spillage 700 -735

FRIDAY JUNE 23
• Captain Beyond 1240 – 150
• Lo-Pan 1140 – 1230
• Apostle of Solitude 1050 – 1130
• Earthride 1000 – 1040
• Beelzefuzz 910 – 950
• Wretch 820 – 900
• Demon Eye 735 –810
• Brimstone Coven 650 – 725
• Black Manta 605 – 640
• Sierra 515 – 555

SATURDAY JUNE 24
• The Skull 1245 – 150
• Bang! 1140 – 1235
• Wo Fat 1050 – 1130
• The Well 1000 – 1040
• The Watchers 910 – 950
• Hollow Leg 825 – 900
• Iron Man 740 – 815
• Dark Music Theory 655 – 730
• War Injun 610 – 645
• Thonian Horde 525 – 600
• Witches of God 440 – 515
• Black Tar Prophet 355 – 430
• Conclave 305 – 345

SUNDAY JUNE 25
• Headliner 1140 – 1245
• The Atomic Bitchwax 1045 -1130
• Serpents of Secrecy 955 – 1035
• Lightning Born 905 – 945
• Lifetime Shitlist 815 – 855
• Akris 730 – 805
• Burn Thee Insects 645 – 720
• Faith In Jane 600 – 635
• Cavern 515 – 550
• Old Blood 430 – 505
• Horehound 345 – 420

TICKET SALES START JAN 1st !!

https://www.facebook.com/The-maryland-DOOM-Fest-815331421863100/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1794418777500202/
http://www.themarylanddoomfest.com/

Earthride, Live at Jason McCash Benefit, 2014

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2016 Night Two

Posted in Reviews on June 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest poster

I don’t think it’s the record for how many bands I’ve seen in one day, but it has to be close. After a pummeling Day One at Cafe 611 (review here), Day Two of Maryland Doom Fest 2016 featured a whopping, nigh-on-overwhelming 12 acts, starting at 2:15PM and running until shortly before 2AM. Joy among joys, my camera continues to be non-functional, but I did the best I could with my phone and kept it at that. Not sure what I’m going to do about that one yet. Cry a little? Yeah, maybe. Maybe on the way home.

For now, as Jesse “The Body” Ventura once so eloquently put it, “I ain’t got time to bleed.” Day Three starts in a scant couple hours and after two days of marathon nonstop heavy, I’m ready to get back into the fray. Let’s do this thing.

Dee Calhoun

Dee Calhoun (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun recently released his debut solo record, Rotgut (review here), and provided a direct contrast in how the second day started at Maryland Doom Fest 2016 as compared to the first, which opened with Black Urn, who I think remain the most extreme sludge act of the weekend so far. “Screaming Mad Dee” played acoustic heavy metal blues, joined on semi-unplugged bass by Iron Man bandmate and all-around master of things low-end Louis Strachan, and started his set with the album-opener “Unapologetic,” which I suspect is something of a creedo for the singer. Maybe I should say singer/guitarist, since Calhoun proved his mettle on the latter throughout the set, bringing out his son, Rob Calhoun, for a particularly touching rendition of “Little Houn Daddy Houn” that was as genuinely heartwarming as anything I’ve ever seen at a heavy show, and closing out with a cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Snowblind,” the solo for which is a test for any guitar player. Bolstered by Strachan taking on Geezer Butler basslines — talk about “in your element” — Dee nailed it, and the filing-in early crowd, who caught on to shout “cocaine!” for the second verse, was glad to be along for the ride.

Thousand Vision Mist

Thousand Vision Mist (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Fronted by guitarist/vocalist Danny Kenyon and taking their name from the debut of his former band, Life Beyond, the three-piece Thousand Vision Mist offered one of the day’s most individualized takes on a doomed approach, their progressive turns enacted fluidly by the rhythm section of Tony Comulada (who’d also play later with War Injun) and drummer Chris Sebastian. It hasn’t been that long since I saw them for the first time last fall at Vultures of Volume II (review here), and the impression at MDDF wasn’t much different. People were still filing in as Kenyon and company made their way through the memorable “Darklight” and “Tears of the Moon,” the second of which also served as the centerpiece of their 2015 demo, which was available at the merch table and is their only release to-date so far as I know. They closed with another cut from that initial offering, “Heart String Wild Fire Blues,” finding a place for themselves between Rush and The Obsessed. Not at all bad territory to stake out.

Wicked Inquisition

Wicked Inquisition (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Minnesota’s Wicked Inquisition said early into their set that this was “in all likelihood” their last show ever. The band formed in 2008 and released their self-titled debut (review here) last year after a demo and a couple EPs, blending oldschool thrash, classic metal and doom fluidly on cuts like “M.A.D.” and “Death of Man.” I don’t know for sure, but I’d assume part of the reason they’re calling it quits is that guitarist/vocalist Nate Towle has joined Virginia-based Satan’s Satyrs, and that’s a hell of a back and forth from MN to VA. Whether or not the breakup is permanent is of course up to the future, but Towle, guitarist Ben Stevens, bassist Jordan Anderson and drummer Jack McKoskey leaned toward doom as one of the weapons in their arsenal to be broken out when called for and otherwise kept their metallic tinge shining via some slow-Slayer dual-guitar to keep the crowd hooked. It worked. Cheers to Towle on getting the Satan’s Satyrs gig, which seems like a good one if you want to tour, and best of luck to everyone in Wicked Inquisition going forward. I’m glad I got to see them while I could.

Ironboss

Ironboss (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Long-running Baltimorean outfit Ironboss are about to issue what may or may not be their first album in more than a decade in the form of Rock Fuck Fight, and their set brought the further intrigue of featuring Bruce Falkinburg — hardly recognizable with short-cropped hair from the last time I saw him, which admittedly was years ago when he was playing with The Hidden Hand — on guitar. The burly brand of heavy the five-piece elicited was much less sludge than I thought it would be, I couldn’t help but have a harsher impression thinking back to 2001’s Guns Don’t Kill People… Ironboss Does!!, but I guess that was 15 years ago and a different lineup. Granted, there was a touch of chaos in the atmosphere, almost punkish, but the songs resided in a mid-paced push, comfortable but still aggressive. They apparently just tracked six songs live with J. Robbins, so it would seem that Ironboss have returned to kill again.

Spillage

Spillage (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Been a couple years and a 2015 self-titled debut since I saw Chicago’s Spillage make their stage debut at Days of the Doomed II in Wisconsin (review here), but my prevailing memories of the the band were still positive. Members of the Trouble family tree via founding guitarist Tony Spillman, who’s worked with that legendary Midwestern outfit for some untold number of years, and through Spillman‘s tenure in Earthen Grave, they for sure had that aspect to their sound, but the energy of their delivery and the classic metal vibe that guest-frontman Elvin Rodriguez brought with him in his Dio-style presentation was well suited to making an impression of their own. Along with album tracks like “In Hell,” opener “The Darkness” and “Land of Opportunity,” Spillage closed out with the Cliff Richard cover “Devil Woman,” which also appeared on the record and which they played when last I saw them as well. A staple, then. Hard to argue. After 12 bands, that swinging hook remained among the most prevalent on my mental jukebox.

Wizard Eye

Wizard Eye (Photo by JJ Koczan)

What a joy it is to watch Wizard Eye play. The Philly trio roll heavy grooves beamed in from sonicstonersubspace and the obvious pleasure they take in doing so is infectious. Another act who played Vultures of Volume II last fall (review here), they’ve since released their self-titled 2015 sophomore album (review here), with its excellently crusted take on heavy vibes. Guitarist Erik Caplan had his theremin handy, as always, but along with the caveman shouts from bassist Dave Shahriari and the steady swing from drummer Mike Scarpone, what came through most to me this time around was how killer a guitar player Caplan is. With that theremin, he could easily drop out during solo sections and wail on the theremin, its squealing awesomeness taking the place of any guitar work. Instead, he absolutely shreds out leads and then lights up the theremin on a cut like “C.O.C.” from 2010’s Orbital Rites debut. So it’s adding to the sound, rather than compensating for something not there. It makes all the difference seeing them do a set, which I’m glad to do every single time I’m able.

Hollow Leg

Hollow Leg (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Along with Holly Hunt, Shroud Eater and a couple others, Jacksonville’s Hollow Leg are among the principal reasons to be sad when the polar ice caps melt and Florida sinks under rising sea levels. The four-piece of vocalist Scott Angelacos, guitarist/vocalist Brent Lynch, bassist Tom Crowther and drummer Tim Creter have never failed in my experience to deliver lethal sludge like some fucked-up cousin of Sourvein, but as 2016’s Crown (review here) showcased, their sound has only grown richer over the years and they brought that feel to Maryland Doom Fest 2016 in “Seaquake,” “Electric Veil” and “Coils” along with the earlier digital single “God Eater” (posted here). With Lynch adding to Angelacos‘ dudely rasp, the vibe was even more unhinged as they played, and next to Wizard Eye they seemed only to build on the intensity of volume and heft while keeping the vicious push moving forward. Labelmates with Dee Calhoun on Argonauta Records, they’ve been on the road with Irata for the better part of a week and sounded tight enough to make one believe they were a few shows deep. Clearly too abrasive for some, but I thought they were right on.

War Injun

War Injun (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I guess they went with the name War Injun because calling themselves Maryland Doom Allstars” would sound too much like a softball team. Fronted by Internal Void‘s J.D. Williams, featuring, as noted, bassist Tony Comulada, along with guitarists Russ Strahan (ex-Pentagram, as well as Weed is Weed and many others) and Kenny Staubs (Outside Truth), and drummer JB Matson — one of the organizers of Maryland Doom Fest 2016 — it’s a formidable grouping nonetheless. Their groove was likewise formidable. Matson didn’t make it easy for his own outfit, putting them after Wizard Eye and Hollow Leg as a lead-in for Brimstone Coven, but War Injun not only pulled one of the night’s best crowds, they absolutely leveled the place. Williams, who’d performed the night before with Internal Void, remained a complete madman on stage, and the riffs from Staubs and Strahan were classic Maryland doom through and through, peppered with more aggressive push. Last time I saw them was Stoner Hands of Doom XI in 2011 (review here), and they hit even harder than I remembered.

Brimstone Coven

Brimstone Coven (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Like Castle yesterday, I feel like I came out of Brimstone Coven‘s set with an entirely deeper appreciation for what the West Virginian outfit does. Next month, they hit the road for a handful of Midwestern dates with Castle, as it happens, and both bands are ones that you just have to see live to really understand. That’s not to take away from what Brimstone Coven — “Big John” Williams on vocals, Corey Roth on guitar/vocals, Andrew D’Cagna bass/vocals and Justin Wood on drums — were able to do on their 2016 debut LP, Black Magic (review here), but the impression they made on stage was on a different level, WilliamsRoth and D’Cagna coming together to completely nail down vocal harmonies over weighted doom riffing, shedding some of the cult rock vibe of the record in favor of an almost progressive feel with moments of brash heavy rock for counterweight. It was the kind of set that made me want to go back and take another look at the album, the highlight being “Slow Death,” which seemed at first like a strange one for Williams to shout out “to the ladies,” but ultimately made sense in light of the lyrics. They were the day’s most pleasant surprise, though I probably shouldn’t have been surprised.

Blackfinger

Blackfinger (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Of all the sets I’ve seen vocalist Eric Wagner perform — and at this point I’ve seen him perform a few — he always looks like he’s having the best time with Blackfinger. Granted, he was all smiles at Roadburn this year with The Skull as well, but there’s a level of appreciation for some of Blackfinger‘s more Beatlesian melancholy in tracks like “I am Jon” and “On Tuesday Morning,” both from their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), that comes through visually on stage and in the vibrant presentation of the material. Having Terry Weston of Penance/Dream Death on guitar doesn’t hurt either, but with guitarist Matthew Tuite, bassist Matthew Cross and drummer David Snyder, the lineup did justice to Wagner‘s legacy in Trouble as well as their own sonic persona. As always, Wagner‘s charisma as a frontman made him a focal point, but that’s nothing new for him, and he handled the room with his usual laid back flair. Somehow it wouldn’t seem like a doom fest if he didn’t show up in one outfit or another. He carries so much of the essence of the sound with him wherever he goes.

Place of Skulls

Place of Skulls (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Once again, in the tonal battle of Victor Griffin vs. the universe, Victor Griffin wins by a landslide. It took Place of Skulls a while to get going — something with the guitar stack, I don’t know — but once the set started, the trio were among the highlights of the weekend so far. With the night’s biggest crowd at attention, Griffin held court alongside his Death Row bandmate Lee Abney on bass/backing vocals and drummer Russell Lee Padgett, but I could be wrong. It’s been six years since they released As A Dog Returns (review here) — though the 2013 self-titled debut from the short-lived In~Graved project (review here) seems to have been rebranded as a Place of Skulls release this year — and five years since last I saw them play, but for it being the first time in a while, Place of Skulls were very much still Place of Skulls, the band who released one of the best American doom records of all time in 2003’s With Vision, from which they aired the title-track, “The Monster,” “Long Lost Grave” and “Last Hit” along with a cover of The Animals‘ “Misunderstood” that has become a regular feature in Griffin-related sets, be it with In~Graved or Pentagram. Like Eric WagnerGriffin takes a lot of who he is from band to band, and his mark on doom is unmistakable.

Bang

Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve seen Bang play upwards of 15 times on two different continents in the last two or three years, and they’ve never been a letdown. Like the day started easing into the heavy with Dee Calhoun‘s acoustic set, Bang — who also had a new drummer — provided the sweet swing that would smooth the way out. The classic heavy rockers, playing to support reissues of their catalog on Svart Records, were given a rousing introduction by Dave Sherman of The Obsessed, who cited them as a major influence for Maryland doom as a whole and his career specifically. From there, Frankie Gilcken launched the opening riff of “Keep On,” and Bang were underway. Bassist/vocalist Frank Ferrara was in top form through “Lions… Christians,” “The Maze” and the ballad “Last Will and Testament,” which was given its usual intro. It was late and the room had dissipated somewhat, but Bang‘s tones were as warm and inviting as ever, and plenty of people held on until the finish, savoring every moment they could get. Again, not by any means my first time at the dance with these cats (except the drummer), but they remain something truly special to watch and are a testament to the enduring appeal of heavy’s essential formative years.

Within minutes of getting back to the Super 8 after the show, I was falling asleep. Still, I felt better after last night than Friday, and with 11 more bands playing tonight, that’s probably a good thing. First band starts in about two hours, and I need coffee, so I’m gonna take care of that as priority one and then go from there.

More to come from Maryland Doom Fest 2016.

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Roadburn 2016 Audio Streams: The Skull, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Bang, Atomikylä, Abyssion, Tau Cross, Sinistro, Oranssi Pazuzu, Repulsion and Dark Buddha Rising

Posted in audiObelisk on May 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth at Roadburn 2016 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Some good shit here. I was bummed to miss Atomikylä and Oranssi Pazuzu both at Roadburn 2016, but having caught the likes of Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, The Skull, Bang, Tau Cross and Repulsion, it’s not like you’re going to find me complaining. Even less so now, since though we’re not yet a month out from when the festival actually took place in its home of Tilburg, the Netherlands, the first round of the traditional audio streams have arrived. All of the above mentioned are included, as well as Sinistro, Dark Buddha Rising and Abyssion, making it a pretty succinct summary of the breadth of the fest as a whole, from warm-toned classic rock to raging grind and black metal to the dreariest depths of doom. Yup, that about covers it.

As always, these streams were captured by Marcel van de Vondervoort — who also played this year with Astrosoniq; can’t wait till their set gets posted — and I’m thrilled to host them both for the memories they bring back and for the chance to hear stuff I didn’t get to see. I don’t mind telling you and I don’t think I’m giving away any state secrets when I say it was a hard transition back to real life this year, so to have a bit of escapism in the form of these sets is most welcome.

I hope you also enjoy digging in:

Abyssion – Live at Roadburn 2016

Atomikyla – Live at Roadburn 2016

Bang – Live at Roadburn 2016

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – Live at Roadburn 2016

Dark Buddha Rising – Live at Roadburn 2016

Oranssi Pazuzu – Live at Roadburn 2016

Repulsion – Live at Roadburn 2016

Tau Cross – Live at Roadburn 2016

Sinistro – Live at Roadburn 2016

The Skull – Live at Roadburn 2016 (Thursday, April 14)

The Skull – Live at Roadburn 2016 (Friday, April 15 – playing Trouble’s Psalm 9 in its entirety)

Special thanks as always to Walter for letting me host the streams. For all of this site’s coverage of Roadburn 2016, click here.

Roadburn’s website

Marcel Van De Vondervoort on Thee Facebooks

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ROADBURN 2016 DAY ONE: Cosmic Truth

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2016 day one (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.15.16 – 00:16 — Hotel room, Tilburg

Already it seems like Roadburn is in full swing. There’s no sense of the outside world, only Roadburn, which always has and always will. Familiar faces abound, and new ones too. A lot of them. That build-out on the 013 allowed for more tickets sold, so inarguably Roadburn 2016 is the most crowded this event has ever been. That’s saying something. Mostly, it’s saying, “get there early if you want to get up front.”

the poisoned glass 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)I did just that what seems like a million hours ago for The Poisoned Glass starting the day — the first day; my god, it’s still the first day — at Het Patronaat, aka the church. The band is new, but the players involved were clearly known to the early crowd, vocalist/noisemaker Edgy59 and bassist G. Stuart Dahlquist both veterans of widely influential doom extremists Burning Witch. By astounding coincidence, their debut album, 10 Swords, came out this week via Ritual Productions, and they played the vast majority of it and then some, the volume of Dahlquist‘s bass loud enough to vibrate earplugs and dissuade any accusations of minimalism one might try to make.

With Edgy59 switching between harsh screaming rasps and cleaner vocals, it was entertaining to look around the room and see so many smiling faces among those in attendance. Yes, the music is unspeakably dark. Yes, it sounds like your soul in a trash compactor. Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Their post-Khanate dystopian oppression found its audience for sure, and it was gripping to watch the seething intensity in Edgy59‘s performance particularly, his movements restless in comparison to the slow motion tempos of the material. They were as heavy in mood as in Dahlquist‘s tone, and inescapable in their rumbling churn. Perfect for the church.

As they were wrapping up, Inverloch were taking the stage in the redone Green Room. I tried to catch some of Mantra Machine, but already the Cul de Sac was full and it would remain so for the duration. I thought about running over to Extase, which is around the other side of the alley behind the Patronaat, to get a sample of Grafir, but wound up marauding through the merch section — like a fucking champ — and back at the church to catch Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand, who, as it turns out, were exactly what I was looking for.

der blutharsch 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)Later on, I’d go back to the merch area to pick up a full copy of their new record, The Wolvennest Sessions, which came out in December, and grabbing 2012’s The Story About the Digging of the Hole and the Hearing of the Sounds from Hell on a whim, basically because that’s how good Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand Were, the Austrian experimentalists celebrating their 20th anniversary with a short tour in the winding-down stage. Their blend of classic krautrock and forward-thinking psychedelia was a joy to take in, and since their stuff is so far out, I didn’t really know what was coming. Anything would’ve been a surprise. With founder Albin Julius on synth and vocals, they spread their sound out over their hour-long set and seemed right at home in the flow.

There seems to be some threat that this is their last tour. Obviously, I don’t know if that’s true or not, and since they’re pretty prolific, I wouldn’t take that to mean they’re done overall — though one never knows — but even if it’s a year or a few years before they get out again, I felt fortunate to watch them play. It’s the kind of thing I’d never get to see anywhere but at Roadburn, something I didn’t even know how badly I wanted to watch, and though I checked out a little early to go catch The Skull on the Main Stage back at the 013Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand left one of the day’s most memorable impressions. Considering the course of the day, that’s saying something.

Yeah, I watched The Skull last night at the Hardrock Hideout (review here). It’s a fact. I thought this was their set of Trouble songs, and there were a few sprinkled in for good measure, of course — “R.I.P.,” “At the End of My Daze,” “Come Touch the Sky” and so on — the skull rb 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)but was awfully Skull-y for being the Trouble set, which as it turns out is late tomorrow night. Go figure. No harm done, of course. Let “A New Generation” and “The Longing” be the worst things that ever happen at Roadburn. They riffed on “I Want You/She’s so Heavy” and tossed “Till the Sun Turns Black” into the set, which was certainly welcome, and after the swinging “Send Judas Down,” which included a nod to “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida,” it was once again the title-track from For Those Which are Asleep (review here) rounding out.

To see them on such a huge stage less than 24 hours after seeing them in a club that holds about 200 people was something of a trip, but The Skull were no less in command of the cavernous space than they were the tiny Cul de Sac, where New Keepers of the Water Towers were going on shortly. I ran over quickly to see if there was any room in the building. There was enough for me to buy a copy of their new album, Infernal Machine (review here), but by the time you walked to the bar in the much-longer-than-it-is-wide venue, there was basically no passage through the throng of humanity. Buying the record seemed like the least I could do for having made the attempt to see them and failed, and once I got it, I headed back to the Main Stage to watch The Skull finish and to wait for Hexvessel, who were one of my most anticipated bands for the entire fest, to take the Main Stage.

I said as much in today’s Weirdo Canyon Dispatch (issue here) but nature-worshiping Finnish outfit Hexvessel‘s new record, When We are Death (review here), stands among the best albums of 2016 so far. Before they went on, I ran over to the merch area — more hexvessel 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)of a waddle, really — and picked up the artbook edition of the album as well as a patch with a fish head on it. They also had owls and bears and several other wildlife options, but you don’t see a lot of fish in underground heavy, so I was all about it. No idea what I’ll do with the thing, not being the battle-vest type, but whatever. For three euro? Sold. Their set more than justified both purchases, focused heavily on the new album and a huge shift in dynamic from when they were here in 2012, having departed from their folkish roots on the strength of infectious, progressive and deeply nuanced songs like “Mushroom Spirit Doors,” a set highlight, and “Cosmic Truth,” which frontman Mat McNerney prefaced by saying it was about, “true love and spaceships.” Needless to say, right up my alley.

Quietly percussive, “Hunter’s Prayer” finished off what seemed to be Hexvessel‘s regular set, after “Cosmic Truth,” “Mushroom Spirit Doors,” “Transparent Eyeball,” “Teeth of the Mountain,” “Mirror Boy,” and “Sacred Marriage” and the earlier “Woods to Conjure” from 2012’s No Holier Temple, but the band did an encore of sorts with “Earth over Us” and “When I’m Dead” back to back, both maddeningly catchy, the former delivered with surprising heft from the stage, before closing with “Invocation Summoning” from their 2011 debut, DawnbearerMcNerney encouraging the crowd to sing and clap along, which of course it did.

Timing worked out that as Hexvessel were finishing, Bang were starting in the Green Room, so I hobbled over there and waited for the Franks and Jake to follow-up their Hardrock Hideout set with another runthrough of their heavy ’70s lost classics. They did not disappoint, and their warm, laid back take on heavy rock continues to thrill. I’ve seen the band I don’t even know how many times at this point — let’s say circa 15 — but their vibe is always right on, and I don’t think I’ve heard bassist Frank Ferrara‘s tone sound as full and inviting as it has last night and tonight. He and guitarist Frankie Gilcken founded the band in 1969 and their self-titled debut was released two years later, and Ferrara remarked from the stage that their first European appearance — this one — was 46 years in the making. Time flies.

bang 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)Much to their credit, they lived up to the occasion, and though he’s far from being an original member of the band, Jake Leger‘s drums have become essential to Bang‘s live presence. Maybe they’ll do another record, maybe they won’t, but with Leger swinging away behind, Gilcken and Ferrara are that much more able to nail that spirit every time out. “Lions, Christians” was a highlight, and of course “Our Home,” both from the self-titled, but in the live setting, the much newer “The Maze” is no less vintage-sounding. I think Leger is a big part of that. A third in the power trio, at very least. As they always do, Bang looked to be genuinely enjoying making their European debut, and a crowd that already knew their songs made it seem all the more overdue.

Back on the Main Stage, Converge were finishing up their set playing 2001’s Jane Doe in full: The album that launched 100,000 metalcore bands who were nowhere near as interesting as Converge ever were. Hard to hold that against it, I suppose. I caught the tail end of the set, which was as furious as it would have to be, and the four-piece of vocalist Jacob Bannon, guitarist Kurt Ballou, bassist Nate Newton and drummer Ben Koller brought out former bassist Stephen Brodsky (also Cave In) to join them on guitar and melodic vocals for the closing title-track from Jane Doe, its sweep well on the other side of epic. Not really my thing stylistically, but people were jammed into the Main Stage space for them, and I watched as dudes had to be helped out of the front for what I guess was a rare Roadburn pit — unless someone just stepped on that guy’s foot, which would be sadder somehow — so it was clear the room was making the connection to the off-genre elements Jane Doe brought to hardcore, or more likely, they made that connection 15 years ago. Either way.

My second failure at Cul de Sac came after Converge were done when I ran over to try to see the reunited Gomer Pyle. No luck. Same as with New Keepers: I bought a CD and that was about as close as I could get. Fair enough. By this time, I was reconciling myself to the fact that I’d probably not get in to see either Zone Six at Cul de Sac or CHRCH at Extase, both of which were bigtime mental bummers. Still, as consolation, Paradise Lost playing their defining 1991 opus, Gothic, in its entirety ain’t bad. That album turns 25 this year, has been reissued multiple times over, and its paradise lost 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)influence continues to spread, now feeding a new generation a blueprint of how to do death/doom so very, very right.

It would’ve been an event to see Paradise Lost play anything, but “Gothic,” “Shattered,” “Dead Emotion” — this is the stuff of which doom extremity is made. I stayed a while to pay my respects and then did decide after all to not be a defeatist jerk and see if I could get in for Zone Six after all. I could. The key was to be early as hell. That’s an old Roadburn trick. The German space jammers, who feature in their ranks Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt and Komet Lulu, both of Electric Moon, played as a trio with Rainer Neeff on guitar, which meant that synth specialist Modulfix was missing, but the jams were happening either way. I dug the gosh darn heck out of last year’s Love Monster (review here), and they were another act where the safer assumption probably would’ve been that I’d never get to watch them do a set save at Roadburn. I am very, very fortunate to be here.

Zone Six played in the dark. I mean it. Cul de Sac isn’t exactly bright to start with, and Lulu asked before they went on to have the lights turned down so it was like shooting a show in Boston in there. With Sula filling in on synth, their swirl was certainly colorful enough that it would’ve justified a bit of brightness, but I’ll take what I can get and the pictures can work themselves out. I got to see Zone Six. That’s a win. And since I had a hot streak going, I thought maybe I’d give Extase a shot for CHRCH to round out the night on a bludgeoning note of tonal mass, their Unanswered Hymns (review here) debut album on Battleground Records continuing to resonate as one of 2015’s best. As fate would have it, my luck held.

My two gotta-sees for today were Hexvessel and CHRCH. I wish I could say I stayed for the latter’s full set, but between the fact that it zone six 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)was getting on midnight and I had writing to do and the full-crowd press up against the stage in Extase bringing on a need for breathable air that smelled like something other than beer sweat, I indeed did not. Was enough to see them play “Unanswered Hymns” though to justify my anticipation. The Sacramento five-piece are touring to support the aforementioned first LP, and they’re doing numerous fests in the US as well as putting in this abroad road time, so it probably won’t be the last time in my life I run into them, but I was extraordinarily glad I did. Partially veiled frontwoman Eva played up a ritualistic sensibility with incense at the front of the stage, but really, so much of what they did was about absolutely crushing everything in their path — which is a kind of ritual, granted — that their primary impression was one of sheer impact. Switching between screams and cleaner croons, Eva shared vocal duties with guitarist Chris, whose growls underscored the death/doom aspects of CHRCH‘s sound, making them all the more crushing.

Listening to Unanswered Hymns, it was clear CHRCH (who were called Church at the time) were onto something that could be really special. After watching them bring that material to life, I feel no less vehement in my appreciation for just how on-the-right-path they absolutely are. Their second offering will be a big tell. I can’t wait to hear what it has to say.

When it was time to go, I fought my way through the wall of humans at Extase and eventually out into the street wherechrch 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan) some non-Roadburn-type tourists were taking their picture in front of the big cathedral. Dudes were plastered. I took their picture with one of their phones and told them to have a good night. Theirs might’ve just been beginning, and I suppose in a way mine was too, but with Day One of Roadburn 2016 down, I felt like something really substantial had been accomplished even as I looked at the schedule for tomorrow and Saturday and Sunday and knew that there remains so much more to come.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Live Review: Roadburn 2016 Hardrock Hideout with Jucifer, The Skull and Bang

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 13th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

jucifer 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

For the last couple years, the Hardrock Hideout has served as both a precursor to Roadburn proper and a showcase for a different side of the fest’s scope: namely thrash. Clearly Roadburn is changing the script somewhat in 2016, however, since this year’s Hardrock Hideout lineup worked in a range of styles and expanded its bill from two to three acts. To the best of my knowledge, Jucifer was on board first, but either The Skull or Bang is worth making room for, despite the fact that they’ll both also play as part of Roadburn itself, which starts tomorrow. In the case of The Skull, twice.

The Hardrock Hideout also made for a handy reminder of one other thing: Just how unbelievably crowded this weekend is going to be. I got to the Cul de Sac — located right in the heart of Weirdo Canyon — about half an hour before Bang went on and still there were other people up front. It’s only Wednesday! I’m willing to wager that a good portion of the people attending this weekend aren’t even in town yet. Absolute madness.

I’d slept for about 40 minutes beforehand, but that didn’t stop the show from being killer front to back. Here’s how it went down:

Bang

Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s been about a year and a half since the last time I saw Bang (review here), and that interim has clearly had some effect on guitarist Frankie Gilcken and bassist/vocalist Frank Ferrara and drummer Jake Leger in an expanded setlist with cuts like “Come with Me” and “Future Shock” from their 1971 self-titled debut, which has been newly reissued via Svart Records. They had copies of that and the concurrent Mother reissue, but I didn’t see Death of a Country or Music, though to be fair, I couldn’t just missed it. Either way, it would’ve been hard to find a better-suited opener for Roadburn‘s festivities than Bang. Their sound is so laid back and classic in its tone and execution that it gave The Skull and Jucifer a foundation from which to expand with their own sets, at the same time, providing Bang with a fantastic European debut. That’s right. In the band’s 40-plus-year history, this was the first time they ever gigged in Europe. Talk about setting high standards. Of course, “Our Home” was a highlight, and they closed out with “Questions,” leaving the crowd shouting for more when they were done.

The Skull

the skull 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Feels a little like tattling to say so, but Eric Wagner smoked three cigarettes on stage tonight. Three. It may have been smelly, but it didn’t stop the band from going full-force into Trouble classics like “R.I.P.,” “At the End of My Daze” and “Bastards Will Pay,” which showed up early and was among the most welcome inclusions in the set. As noted, The SkullEric Wagner (ex-Trouble), guitarists Lothar Keller and Rob Wrong (also Witch Mountain), bassist Ron Holzner (ex-Trouble) and drummer Sean Saley (ex-Pentagram) — will play two more sets this weekend. One will be comprised of Trouble material, the other The Skull originals from their 2014 Tee Pee Records debut, For Those Which are Asleep (review here), and presumably some newer material as well. To that end, they included the new song “The Longing” from their recent tour EP (streamed here), and “Until the Sun Turns Black” from the full-length, and after pushing toward the end with a couple Trouble standards, it seemed especially telling that they closed with the title-track from For Those Which are Asleep, which was, it’s well worth noting, more than up to the task, Saley hammering the heavy groove of its choruses while Rob Wrong — a relatively recent addition to a seemingly perpetually fluid lineup around Keller, Wagner and Holzner — shredded out solos in trade with Keller on the other side of the stage. Wagner, on his third butt by then, joked about having just come through Tilburg a month ago and played Little Devil, but he and the entire band seemed glad to be back, and if Tilburg was showing any sign of The Skull fatigue, I certainly couldn’t see it.

Jucifer

jucifer 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

From thunderous, plodding doom to teeth-gnashing grindcore — often in the span of a measure or less — Jucifer have a reputation for onslaught that is well earned. The long-running two-piece of guitarist/vocalist Gazelle Amber Valentine and drummer Edgar Livengood seemed to have some technical trouble as they were setting up Valentine’s two guitar half-stacks (one for each side of the stage) and bass rig, and also early in the set, but it would’ve taken heavy industrial/construction equipment and trained professionals to derail their momentum. Their sound a force of extremity in its purpose and its sheer sense of attack, they were quickly off and running, Livengood reaching up to hit his high crash cymbals with twirling sticks and a primal joy in his work that one occasionally sees in drummers truly born to do what they’re doing, which I’d argue Livengood is. This was my first time seeing Jucifer, I’ll confess. It should’ve been much sooner. Valentine‘s vocals were a little low in the mix, buried under the immense slab of weight that was her guitar tone, but one would be hard pressed to say they didn’t get their point across. By then, the Cul de Sac was packed beyond the point of being able to move through the crowd, and standing in front of Valentine and Livengood was like being able to watch the gleeful steamroller about to flatten you into pavement and being able to do nothing about it. Far worse ways to go. They’re of course known for their stylized wall of cabinets that they take on tour with them — they’re pretty much constantly touring; a few years ago there was word they were fully nomadic, living out of their camper, but I’ve no idea if that’s still the case — but even without that imposing wall of speakers, Jucifer were loud enough to vibrate earplugs in the ear and they gave Roadburn the riotous start it deserves.

It’s after one in the morning, local time. Tomorrow I need to be up to finalize the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch issue, so I’ll cut it there and just say thanks for reading and there’s much more to come.

Tomorrow begins Roadburn 2016.

More pics after the jump.

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Bang Announce European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

bang

Reactivated classic heavy rock trio Bang will begin their first European tour at Roadburn on April 14 in Tilburg, the Netherlands. The Pennsylvania outfit have steadily toured across the US for the last several years, but 2016 marks their first trip abroad either in this incarnation or during their original run in the early-to-mid ’70s. That’s not a small milestone to reach some 45 years after making their self-titled debut, but after a slot at last year’s Psycho California fest, and stints alongside doom legends Pentagram, it seems like they’re certainly up to the task.

The shows are presented by Swamp Booking, and in looking at the poster below, I’m somewhat curious about one of the logos way at the bottom. It’s Svart Records. I’m not sure if Bang are aligned to the Finnish imprint in some way or if Svart has started promoting tours, but if there’s new Bang in the works, either in the form of a new studio record or a release for one of their past outings — the aforementioned self-titled came out through Rise Above a few years back, but I doubt anyone would argue if it showed up again — then you couldn’t say they haven’t found a suitable home. A bit of intrigue, then. I’ll take it.

Tour starts April 14 and ends April 30 at Sound Bay Festival in Lisbon, Portugal. Dates follow here, as seen on the online:

bang european tour

Hope to see all our fans in EU!

April 14 – Roadburn Festival – Tilburg, The Netherlands
April 15 – Immerhin – Wurzburg, Germany
April 16 – Kulturbahnhof – Jena, Germany
April 19 – Borderline – London, UK
April 20 – Truckstop Alaska – Gothenburg, Sweden
April 21 – OCCII – Amsterdam, Netherlands
April 22 – Bassy – Berlin, Germany
April 23 – Goldgrube – Kassel, Germany
April 24 – Glazart – Paris, France
April 26 – Loppen – Copenhagen, Denmark
April 27 – Grand – Malmo, Sweden
April 28 – Geronimo FT – Stockholm, Sweden
April 29 – Rocksound – Barcelona, Spain
April 30 – Sound Bay Festival – Lisbon, Portugal

Frank Ferrara, Bass & Vocals
Frank Gilcken, Guitars & Harmony
Jake Leger, Drums

https://www.facebook.com/Bangtheband/
http://www.bangmusic.com/

Bang, Live at Psycho California

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Roadburn 2016: Bang, The Body, Blood Ceremony, CHRCH, Repulsion, Behold! the Monolith and More Added to the Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 19th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Another day, another sigh heaved by Roadburn 2016 and a list of, I don’t know, like, 45 lineup additions expelled. Like it’s just happenstance, no big deal. Oh, Repulsion are playing Lee Dorrian‘s curated day. Oh, Bang are doing their first European show ever and they’ve been a band since 1970. Oh, G.I.S.M. are playing outside Japan for the first time ever. Ho hum. Meanwhile skulls around the planet cave in simultaneously, mine included.

Particularly noteworthy? CHRCH. The Sacramento five-piece released their devastating full-length, Unanswered Hymns (review here), earlier this year, and it’s quite simply one of 2015’s best debut albums. Also Blood Ceremony, who’ll reportedly have a new record out by then, and Behold! the Monolith, whose new one, Architects of the Void (review here), came out this fall.

All this and more. Here are words from the PR wire:

Cult of Luna, G.I.S.M, Repulsion, Bang, and more added to Roadburn 2016 lineup

• CULT OF LUNA to celebrate tenth anniversary of Somewhere Along The Highway with a special performance.
• G.I.S.M, REPULSION, and BLOOD CEREMONY added to Lee Dorrian’s curated events
• BANG play their first show in Europe at Roadburn 2016.

CULT OF LUNA

2016 will mark a decade since CULT OF LUNA unleashed Somewhere Along The Highway – catapulting them to the top of end of year lists, and in to prized positions in record collections the world over.

Whilst the last ten years has seen the ascendency of CULT OF LUNA’s star, as well as two further stunning albums, Somewhere Along The Highway remains something of a marker in this history of the band. It seems fitting then, that just a week shy of the album’s official anniversary, CULT OF LUNA will be performing the album in full at the 013 venue on Thursday 14 April 2016.

It’s an honour to welcome back CULT OF LUNA to Roadburn Festival; the threads of their influence are weaved throughout many of the bands that have appeared on our line ups over the years. Join us as we honour the seminal importance of Somewhere Along The Highway, and celebrate all that CULT OF LUNA have achieved since its inception.

To find out more about CULT OF LUNA at Roadburn, click HERE

LEE DORRIAN’S RITUALS FOR THE BLIND DEAD

Joining Pentagram, Galley Beggar and With The Dead at Lee Dorrian’s curated events will be three newly added bands.

• G.I.S.M

Over a decade after ceasing activities, G.I.S.M. reappear for their first concert ever outside their native Japan – at Roadburn 2016. The absolutely legendary Japanese band embody the true meaning of cult – one of the first acts to bridge the gap between hardcore punk and metal, and in the process redefined danger and unpredictability with violent stage antics and the insane aggression of their music

Lee Dorrian comments: “I thought it was an extremely long shot for many reasons. Mainly because I knew that they had never performed outside of Japan but also, they hadn’t even performed a show in Japan for over a decade. I still can’t quite believe that this is actually happening but the flights are booked and they are getting ready to come and boot you so brutally fucking hard in the ass!”

G.I.S.M’s Sakevi added: “It’s my pleasure to be involved and to be part of such a cool festival. It’s our first time ever playing outside of Japan, and it will be our fist show at all since February 2002! We’ll be playing a so-called “classic set” – and I’m already looking forward to having a lot of fun at Roadburn.”

To find out more about G.I.S.M click HERE

• REPULSION

Over 25 years after the release of REPULSION’s standalone masterpiece Horrified, still stands as one of the major cornerstones of not only grindcore, but extreme metal as a whole.

Lee Dorrian, a pioneer in the scene himself, says: “The line-up for my curated event is getting more and more exciting as we go along. I can’t tell you how happy I am that REPULSION are still playing live and crushing skulls wherever they appear. The legacy of this amazing and extremely influential band continues to grow and spread like wildfire as the years go on. It is a great honour that Matt and Scott accepted my invitation to come and destroy you all at Rituals For the Blind Dead.”

REPULSION will rip the 013 venue apart on Friday, April 15.

To find out more about REPULSION, click HERE

• BLOOD CEREMONY

Canada’s BLOOD CEREMONY delivers the finest progged-out, occult-inspired acid folk this side of the early 70s, replete with an atmospheric Wickerman vibe, Hammer Horror organ, seriously doomy guitar riffage, and the sometimes soft, sometimes soaring vocals of Alia O’Brien, who’s also BLOOD CEREMONY’s flautist.

The band’s tales of witch-cult gatherings in wooded glens, pacts made in torch-lit abbeys and Victorian magic made such a huge impact on Roadburn back in 2011, thus we’re spellbound to report that Lee Dorrian has invited BLOOD CEREMONY to return to the 2016 festival on Saturday, April 16 as part of his curated Rituals For The Occult Pt.2 event.

To find out more about BLOOD CEREMONY, click HERE

BANG

Unsung heroes of the heavy ‘70s may be plenty in number, but few can offer the sweetness of groove that BANG bring to the stage, and we’re thrilled to announce they’ll be playing their very first European show ever at Roadburn 2016!

Says BANG of playing Roadburn, “We are incredibly excited to play Roadburn and for BANG to rock Europe for the first time. We know we have a lot of fans across the pond who are excited as well, and it’s going to be amazing to connect to that audience. We even heard they have amps over there that go to 11, so we will be extra loud!”

To find out more about BANG click HERE.

ALSO CONFIRMED:

Naðra, NYIÞ and Grafir – click HERE
The Body – click HERE
Full of Hell – click HERE
John Haughm – click HERE
Behold! The Monolith – click HERE
Chrch  – click HERE
Night Viper – click HERE
Sinistro – click HERE
Hair of the Dog – click HERE

FURTHER TICKETING INFORMATION

Tickets to Roadburn Festival 2016 are now on sale! Ticket sales got off to an incredible start with many of the available weekend tickets being snapped up within the first few days. There are still 3-day, 4-day, and Sunday tickets on sale. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday day tickets will be released at a a later date.
It is also possible to book camping tickets via Ticketmaster.

Click HERE for all the details.

http://www.roadburn.com/
https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival
https://twitter.com/roadburnfest

CHRCH, Unanswered Hymns (2015)

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Night of the Shred Set for Oct. 31; The Shrine, Windhand, Bang!, Elder, Danava, Wo Fat, Monolord and Black Bombaim to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 12th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Day of the Shred is dead. Long live Night of the Shred. Well, I don’t know about “dead,” but at very least not happening this year. Thief Presents, the promoter for the Night/Day fest who also put on Psycho California earlier this year, announced a couple weeks ago that Day of the Shred was off due to poor ticket sales, but the result is that Night of the Shred will happen as a standalone event and the lineup for Brick by Brick in San Diego on Halloween night is pretty impressive in itself. Eight bands on the bill, and it runs for 11 hours, so presumably they’ll all have a good amount of time to play, and in addition to being a stop on the Windhand/Monolord tour, the night will also feature The ShrineBangElderWo Fat and Portugal’s Black Bombaim. There are a bunch of shows that have sort of popped up in the wake of Day of the Shred being nixed (more on that shortly), but the good news is that even though that fest isn’t happening, many of the bands have found ways to make the most of the situation.

Southern California will not suffer from a lack of doom or heavy rock and roll. The PR wire brings details.

night of the shred poster

‘Night of the Shred’ Heavy Music Extravaganza Set for Halloween Night in San Diego

All Hallows’ Eve Event to Treat Concert-Goers to A Sweet Lineup of Underground Music Titans

This Halloween night, The Night of the Shred will descend on San Diego, CA, featuring a sinister smorgasbord of modern day metal’s finest bands. Billed as an experience “to gather the living and remember the dead”, The Night of the Shred will take place at the Brick by Brick music venue and will celebrate both monolithic riffs and the souls of the departed.

Curated by Thief Presents and Vol. 4 apparel and sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon and Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum,The Night of the Shred will feature full live sets from California skate rock kings THE SHRINE, celebrated Virginia doomers WINDHAND, legendary Philadelphia proto-metal innovators BANG!, Boston heavy psych trio ELDER, Portland heavy rockers DANAVA, Dallas fuzz specialists WO FAT, Swedish megariffers MONOLORD and Portuguese acid jammers BLACK BOMBAIM.

Tickets for The Night of the Shred are $20 in advance ($30 day of show) and are on sale now at this location. The event is 21+ and costumes are highly encouraged!

What: The Night of the Shred featuring The Shrine, Windhand, Bang!, Elder, Danava, Wo Fat, Monolord and Black Bombaim
Where: Brick by Brick, 1130 Buenos Ave, San Diego, CA
Time: 3 PM – 2 AM
Tickets: http://bit.ly/TheNightoftheShred_tix

— WEST COAST TOUR DATES —
BANG! | BLACK BOMBAIM | GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST
10/27 – Fullerton, CA @ Slidebar
10/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ Viper Room
10/29 – San Francisco, CA @ Milk Bar
10/31 – San Diego, CA @ NIGHT OF THE SHRED

https://www.facebook.com/events/670354129761737/
http://www.nightoftheshred.com/
https://twitter.com/thiefpresents
#nightoftheshred

Elder, Live at Psycho California 2015

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