Stop me if I’ve said this before, but Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2017 has be as close to an absolute no-brainer as I’ve ever seen in terms of attendance. I mean, so you’re gonna go out to the woods and listen to a bunch of meticulously curated doom and folk and black metal and psych for a weekend, camp out and top the whole thing off with a Panopticon set under starlight? Jesus. How much more could you really ask of a live event than that?
Cheers to Mary Spiro on a job incredibly done with this lineup. I don’t even know what else to say about it other than it’s pretty unreal and there’s nothing else like it happening that I know of in the US or maybe even anywhere else. Seriously. Who’s pulling bands from both coasts and Europe across genres like this for an outdoor event the vibe of which you can already feel just from the press release? Who’s got Castle on the same bill with West Virginian folk black metal?
It’s not all my bag, but I tip my hat:
Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2017 – Official Lineup Announcement
SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST, the Mid-Atlantic’s only open-air camping heavy metal gathering, is pleased to announce the complete lineup for the 2017 festival, which runs from Thursday, September 14th through Sunday, September 17th at White Hall, Maryland’s Camp Hidden Valley. For the third year, the festival will host 39 of the undergrounds leading bands, representing all genres and subgenres of heavy metal.
Over three days, the four stages of SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST will come to life inside the woodsy landscape of Camp Hidden Valley. “Every year has been special, but I am just particularly stoked about what we have curated”, says Mary Spiro, organizer of Shadow Woods Productions LLC. “I am extremely honored to present the lineup this year because I think it reflects the best of the underground metal scene as well as some of the personal favorites of the festival organizers. Several of these bands, I have been trying to host at the fest since the first year and I am happy to finally have them play.”
Beginning on Thursday night, the Pavilion stage will light up and set the tone to the weekend with all-acoustic and intimate performances with Texas dark-folk maudit AMIGO THE DEVIL, Portland’s dark-folk soloist AERIAL RUIN and West Virginia’s Appalachian folk duo, NECHOCHWEN. Friday includes exclusive performances by Oregon’s haunting black metal band UADA and Georgia’s tortured blackened death quartet WITHERED.
On Saturday, as darkness falls over the Woodland Stage, atmospheric blackened folk giants PANTOPICON will play an exclusive, 70-minute set under the backdrop of the stars. Brooklyn black metal titans WOE, Rhode Island sludgy-doom foursome CHURCHBURN, mysterious blackened grind band DEAD IN THE MANGER (one of two east coast shows), and San Francisco extreme death quintet VASTUM (one of two east coast shows), will all deliver exclusive performances to SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST.
SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST is proud to be sponsored this year by Moxie Bookkeeping and Tridroid Records and to receive promotional support from Grime Studios, Leftover Pizza Productions, and Perfect World Productions.
SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST 2017 Complete Lineup (in alpha order): Aerial Ruin – Portland, OR (Ritual folk) All Hell – Asheville, NC (Crusty black metal) Amigo the Devil – Spicewood, TX (Dark folk) ** Bearstorm – Richmond, VA (Blackened southern death-prog) Black Table – NY/NJ (Progressive black metal) Castle – San Francisco, CA (Heavy doom metal) Churchburn – Pawtucket, RI (Blackened sludge) ** Cut the Architect’s Hand – Richmond, VA (Death metal) Dark Water Transit – Baltimore, MD (Instrumental heavy rock) Dead in the Manger – coast to coast – (Blackened grind) ** Dee Calhoun – Frederick, MD (Acoustic; vocalist of Iron Man) Earthling – Richmond, VA (Thrash metal) Elagabalus – Baltimore, MD (Experimental metal 2-piece) Erlkonig – Baltimore, MD (Blackened death metal) Fiakra – Freehold, NJ (LARPower metal) Foehammer – Annandale, VA (Sludge) Green Elder/Paul Ravenwood – Johnson City, TN – (Nature folk) Heavy Temple – Philadelphia, PA (Psychedelic-doomed rock) Hexis – Copenhagen, Denmark (Hardcore/black metal) Human Bodies – Boston, MA (Crusty blackened hardcore) Immaculate Deception – Baltimore, MD (Death metal) Infera Bruo – Boston, MA (Black metal) Kyoty – Dover, NH – (Instrumental post metal) Mome – Portland, ME (Power psych rock) Nechochwen “unplugged” – Wheeling, WV (Appalachian acoustic folk metal) ** Night Raids – Philadelphia, PA (Thrash/grind) Panopticon – KY/MN (Black folk metal) ** Percussor – PA/DE (Old school death metal) Seasick Gladiator – Washington, DC (Experimental doom prog) Sloth Herder – PA/VA/MD (Sludge grind) Take to the Woods/Jo Cosgrove – Baltimore, MD (Dark folk) The Owls Are Not What They Seem – York, PA (Ritual noise) Toke – Cape Fear, NC (Stoner doom) Uada – Portland, OR (Black metal) ** Vastum – San Francisco, CA (Death metal) ** Withered -Atlanta, GA (Black/death metal) ** Woe – Brooklyn, NY (Black metal) ** Worthless- NY/NJ (Black metal) ** ZUD – Portland, ME (Black and blues metal) ** EXCLUSIVE PERFORMANCES
SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST DETAILS Location: Camp Hidden Valley White Hall, Maryland
Ticket Link: http://shadowwoodsmetalfest2017.bpt.me Price: $175 Full weekend package (Thursday evening-Sunday morning) including all musical events and camping Cabins: $20 bed (shared cabin)
Shadow Woods Metal Fest is 21+ Food & beverage vendors: Various food, beverage, and alcohol vendors will be on site with both vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore selections. No outside alcohol is permitted. Marketplace vendors: Multiple record labels, distros, and artisans will be located in the Hall. For more information on becoming a vendor, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
PROMOTIONAL ARTWORK: Brian Sheehan PROMOTIONAL VIDEO: Mary Spiro
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Castle continue to live the dream, and by that I mean break their ass working on new material and touring. They’re up to a bit of both, as it happens. Next month, they’ll take to the streets in the Midwest before hitting up the West Coast for what can only be called the umpteenth time, and simultaneously, they’ve moved to the desert and begun to write the follow-up to last year’s Welcome to the Graveyard (review here), which saw release through the esteemed Ván Records. Reportedly, they have an eye on getting a new record out before the end of 2017. An admirable goal and I wouldn’t put it past them, what with that breaking of ass and all. You know damn well they’ll be touring more too. They rarely stop.
This run is called ‘Still Reaping’ and it starts March 3. Look for Castle later this year on the Shadow Woods Metal Fest in Maryland and at Fire in the Mountains in Wyoming over the summer. See? I told you they rarely stop.
From the PR wire:
CASTLE Announce ‘Still Reaping Tour’, Festival Dates, Album News
Fresh off a tour of Japan, heavy metal alchemists CASTLE have announced the ‘Still Reaping Tour’, a 17 date headlining trek of the U.S. Midwest this March. Newly relocated to the Mojave Desert where writing for a fifth full length is currently underway, CASTLE will be taking a break from conjuring the as-of-yet untitled album, due for release later in the year, to complete the tour – which includes a stop at the second installment of the Minneapolis Menagerie Fest on March 11.
CASTLE – Still Reaping Tour: 3/3 Phoenix, AZ – Yucca Tap 3/4 Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad 3/5 Dallas, TX – Three Links 3/6 Austin, TX – Lost Well 3/7 Wichita, KS – The Elbow Room 3/8 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room 3/9 Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews 3/10 Chicago, IL – Reggie’s 3/11 Minneapolis, MN – Minneapolis Menagerie 3/12 Milwaukee, WI – The Metal Grill 3/13 Louisville, KY – Highlands Taproom 3/14 Indianapolis, IN – 5th Quarter 3/15 Lansing, MI – Mac’s 3/16 Omaha, NE – Dr. Jacks 3/17 Denver, CO – 3 Kings Tavern 3/18 Salt Lake City, UT – Club X 3/19 Oakland, CA – Golden Bull
In addition, the band has announced they will also be performing at the upcoming Fire In The Mountains in Jackson Hole, WY on July 8 and Shadow Woods Metal Fest in Whitehall, MD, September 14-17.
Since the release of their most recent offering Welcome To The Graveyard, issued last summer via Ván Records – CASTLE’s massive 120 date world takeover has included tours of the U.S., Europe, Canada and the bands first ever tour of Japan in December. Welcome To The Graveyard was captured by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Ommadon et al) at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon and is currently available atTHIS LOCATION.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
True to what’s been their mission all along, the lineup thus far unveiled for Shadow Woods Metal Fest 3 offers diversity, extremity of various stripes, and an immediate sense of vibe that feels once again perfectly suited to its outdoor, campground setting in White Hall, Maryland. From Aerial Ruin‘s dark folk to the deathly push of Percussor, to the New England psychedelia of MoMe — previously unknown to me, which seems like dereliction of duty on my part — and beyond with familiar faces like Virginian doomcrushers Foehammer, an acoustic set from Dee Calhoun of Iron Man, North Carolinian sludgers Toke and Philadelphia’s Heavy Temple, it’s got enough intrigue even among the names already announced to have one checking the calendar, and as earlybird tickets go on sale today, they’re only likely to build from here. Kudos, as ever, to Mary Spiro on putting it together.
What info is out is below, as well as the link to where you can get your tickets. If you can do that, you probably should:
Shadow Woods Metal Fest 3
September 14 – September 17
Camp Hidden Valley
White Hall, Maryland 21611
The best weekend of your life is back for a third year with an even more diverse lineup than ever. Nearly 40 bands over three days of camping in the woods. See below for important details!
Schedule: Several acoustic sets on Thursday evening in the Pavilion only. Full production with three alternating stages Friday and Saturday only from noon til approximately midnight each night. No performances on Sunday (as per usual).
BANDS ANNOUNCED SO FAR (MORE TBA) Aerial Ruin – Portland, OR (ritual folk) Amigo the Devil – Spicewood, TX (murderfolk; TWO EXCLUSIVE and DIFFERENT SETS). Castle (San Francisco) Dee Calhoun (Frederick, MD) Bearstorm – Richmond, VA (blackened southern deathprog) Black Table (NY/NJ) Elagabalus – Baltimore, MD (experimental metal 2-piece) Foehammer (Northern Virginia) Green Elder /Paul Ravenwood (Johnson City, TN) Heavy Temple (Philadelphia) Hexis (Copenhagen, Denmark) Human Bodies (Boston) blacked hardcore Mome (Portland, ME) psych rock Panopticon – exclusive performance (KY/MN) Percussor – Philadelphia/Wilmington (old school death metal) Seasick Gladiator – Washington, DC (experimental doom prog) The Owls Are Not What They Seem (York, PA) Toke (Cape Fear, NC) Vastum – one of two East Coast performances (San Francisco) ZUD – black and blues rock and roll (Portland, ME)
IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER: ** Earlybird tickets (which are full Thursday – Sunday passes at a discount over the regular price and include non reserved camping) go on sale at Noon Friday, Feb 17. ** There are NO RESERVED CAMPING AREAS; it is camp where you may in designated areas. ** Cabin bed tickets will be on sale FRIDAY. (The cabins are NOT private; they are bunkhouse summer camp style.) ** We remain at our previous location in White Hall, MD. ** An updated FAQ will appear soon on our website. www.shadowwoodsmetalfest.com ** Once you buy your ticket you will be able to join a private SWMF FB group. READ THE EMAIL THAT CONFIRMS YOUR TICKET PURCHASE FOR DETAILS. ** You may choose how your tickets are delivered to you: WILL CALL (name at the door only); print at home; or physical tickets that will be mailed to you. ** THE EVENT IS 21 and up! ** The event is NOT BYOB. Do not bring outside alcohol. Beer and wine will be for sale. ** Food vendors will be on site ** Marketplace vendors will be in the HALL as usual. If you are interested in vending email Shadow.Woods.LLC@gmail.com with information and links about what you want to sell. ** Thursday night (Sept 14) will feature an acoustic only stage where several groups will perform in an intimate setting. ** On Friday and Saturday (September 15 and 16), the fest will be in full production with three stages running from noon to midnight each day. ** There are NO BANDS on Sunday. That’s the day you pack up and go home.
Posted in Reviews on October 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Last day. As ever, I am mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted by this process, but as ever, it’s been worth it. Today I do myself a couple favors in packing out with more familiar acts, but whatever, it’s all stuff I should be covering anyway, so if the order bothers you, go write your own 50 reviews in a week and we can talk about it. Yeah, that’s right. That’s what I said. Today we start with Swans. Everything’s a confrontation.
Once again, I hope you’ve found something somewhere along this bizarre, careening path of music that has resonated with you, something that will stick with you. That’s why we’re here. You and me. If you have, I’d love to know about it. Until then, one more time here we go.
Quarterly Review #41-50:
Swans, The Glowing Man
Oh fucking please. You want me to try to summarize The Glowing Man – the culmination and finale of an era of Swans that Michael Gira began now more than half a decade ago – in a single review? Even putting aside the fact that the record two hours long, the notion is ridiculous. If there ever was a chart, the scope here is well off it. The material unfolds and churns and is primal and lush at once on “Cloud of Forgetting,” genuinely chaotic on the 28-minute title-track, and it ends with a drone lullaby, but seriously, what the fuck? Some shit is just beyond, and if you don’t know that applies to Swans by now, it’s your own fault. You want a review? Fine. I listened to the whole thing. It ate my fucking soul, chewed it with all-canine teeth and then spit it out saying “thanks for the clarity” and left me dazed, bloodied and humbled. There’s your fucking review. Thanks for reading.
Oslo trio Virus have long since established that they’re a band working on their own wavelength. Memento Collider (on Karisma Records) is the jazzy post-black metallers’ first album in five years and brings together adventurous rhythms, poetic declarations, dissonant basslines and – in the case of “Rogue Fossil,” the occasional hook – in ways that are unique unto Virus. Look at this site and see how often I use the word “unique.” It doesn’t happen. Virus, however, are one of a kind. Memento Collider makes for a challenging listen front to back on its six-track/45-minute run, but it refuses to dumb itself down or dull its progressive edge, bookending its longest (that’s opener “Afield” at 10:41; immediate points) two tracks around jagged explorations of sound like “Steamer” and “Gravity Seeker,” which engage and intrigue in kind after the melodic push of “Dripping into Orbit” and leading into “Phantom Oil Slick,” a righteous affirmation of the angular thrust at the core of Virus’ approach.
In 2010, Moscow troupe The Re-Stoned issued their first EP, Return to the Reptiles, and being obviously concerned with evolution, they’ve now gone back and revisited that debut release with Reptiles Return, a reworking of the four studio tracks that made up the initial version – “Return,” “Run,” “The Mountain Giant” and “Sleeping World.” The opener is a straight re-recording, as is one other, where another is remixed and the other two remastered, and Reptiles Return – which is presented on limited vinyl through Clostridium Records and a CD box set with bonus tracks via Rushus Records – pairs them with more psychedelic-minded soundscape pieces like “Winter Witchcraft,” “Walnut Talks,” the proggy “Flying Clouds” and sweetly acoustic “Roots Patter,” that showcase where founding multi-instrumentalist Ilya Lipkin is taking the band going forward. The result is a satisfying side A/B split on the vinyl that delights in heavy riffing for its own sake in the first half and expands the scope in the second, which should delight newcomers as well as those who’ve followed The Re-Stoned along this evolutionary process.
It may well be the fate of San Francisco’s hard-touring, ass-kicking, genre-refusing duo Castle to be terminally underappreciated, but that has yet to stop them from proliferating their righteous blend of thrash, doom and classic, fistpump-worthy metal. Their latest outing, Welcome to the Graveyard, arrives via respected purveyor Ván Records, and entices in atmosphere and execution, cohesively built tracks like “Hammer and the Cross” and the penultimate “Down in the Cauldron Bog” finding a balance of personality and delivery that the band has long since honed on stage. The Dio-esque barnburner riff of “Flash of the Pentagram” makes that cut a highlight, but as they roll out the cultish vibes of “Natural Parallel” to close, there doesn’t seem to be much on the spectrum of heavy metal that doesn’t fit into Castle’s wheelhouse. For some bands, there’s just no justice. Four records deep, Castle have yet to get their due, and Welcome to the Graveyard is further proof of why they deserve it.
One can hear a new wave of modern doom taking shape in Chained to Oblivion, the Prosthetic Records debut from Arizona one-man outfit Spirit Adrift. The work of Nate Garrett alone in the studio, the full-length offers five mostly-extended tracks as a 48-minute 2LP of soaring, emotional and psychedelic doom à la Pallbearer, but given even further breadth through progressively atmospheric passages and a marked flow in its transitions. To call it personal seems superfluous – it’s a one-man band, of course it’s personal – but Garrett (also formerly of metallers Take Over and Destroy) brings a palpable sense of performance to the songwriting, and by the time he gets to the 11-minutes-apiece finale duo of the title-track and “Hum of Our Existence,” it’s easy to forget you’re not actually listening to a full band, not the least because of the vocal harmonies. Calling Chained to Oblivion a promising first outing would be underselling it – this is a project with serious potential.
Unpredictable from the start of opener “Flesh ‘n’ Steel,” Once upon the Wings is a first-time multinational collaborative effort from Robbi Robb of California’s 3rd Ear Experience and Paul Pott of Germany’s The Space Invaders. Its five tracks/42 minutes arrive through no less than Nasoni Records, and provide a curious and exploratory blend of the organic and the inorganic in sound, as one finds the 11-minute “Grass” no less defined by its percussion solo, guitar line and ‘60s-style vocal than the electronic drums that underscore the layered wash of noise in its midsection. Further definition hits with the 16-minute centerpiece “Prophecy #1,” which works in a space-rocking vein, but the shorter closing duo of the catchy “Looney Toon” and darkly progressive “Space Ear” show a creative bent that clearly refuses to be tamed. Robb & Pott, as a project, demonstrates remarkable potential throughout this debut, as they seem to have set no limits for where they want their sound to go and they seem to have the command to take it there.
Most of the tracks on Brooklyn progressive noise rockers Family’s second album and Prosthetic Records debut, Future History, come paired with interludes. That cuts some of the growling intensity of winding pieces like “Funtime for Bigboy” and “Floodgates,” and emphasizes the generally experimental spirit of the record as a whole, broadening the scope in sound and theme. I’m somewhat torn as to how much this actually works to the 51:50 outing’s benefit, as shorter pieces like “Prison Hymn” and “Transmission,” while adding dynamic to the sound and narrative drama, also cut the immediacy in impact of “The Trial” or closer “Bone on Bone,” but it’s entirely possible that without them Future History would be an overwhelming tumult of raw prog metal. And while the play back and forth can feel cumbersome when one considers how effectively “Night Vision” bridges the gap between sides, I’m not sure that’s not what Family were going for in the first place. It’s not supposed to be an easy record, and it isn’t one.
France’s Les Discrets haven’t had a studio offering since 2012’s Ariettes Oubliées (review here), and while they released Live at Roadburn (review here) last year documenting their 2013 set at that festival, there’s little there that might presage the stylistic turn the Fursy Teyssier-led outfit takes on their new EP, Virée Nocturne (on Prophecy Productions). With four tracks – two new, complete recordings, one demo and the last a remix of the opener by Dälek and Deadverse – Les Discrets attempt to find a stylistic middle ground between post-rock and trip-hop, and for the most part, they get there. “Virée Nocturne” itself leads off and can be jarring on first listen, but successfully blends the lush melodicism for which the band is known with electronic-driven beats, and both “Capricorni. Virginis. Corvi” and even the demo “Le Reproche” continue to build on this bold shift. The finale remix adds over two minutes to “Virée Nocturne,” but uses that time to make it even more spacious and all the more immersive. For anyone who thought they might’ve had Les Discrets figured out, the surprise factor here should be palpable.
Presented across four tracks beginning with the 12-minute and longest-of-the-bunch (immediate points) “The Corpse of Dr. Funkenstein” (double points for the reference), II, the aptly-titled second album from Liquido di Morte expands the progressive atmospherics of the Italian four-piece’s 2014 self-titled debut (review here) without losing sight of the performance and spirit of exploration that helped bring it to life. Isaak’s Giacomo H. Boeddu guests on brooding vocals and whispers for “The Saddest of Songs I’ll Sing for You,” which swells in seething intensity as it moves forward, while “Rodents on the Uphill” casts a vision of post-space rock and closer “Schwartz Pit” rounds out with crash and wash that seems only to draw out how different the two halves of II actually are. Not a complaint. Liquido di Morte make their way across this vast span with marked fluidity, and if they prove anything throughout, it’s that they’re able to keep their command wherever they feel like using it to go.
Canberra, Australia, trio Witchskull initially released their debut full-length, The Vast Electric Dark, last year, and caught the attention of the cross-coastal US partnership between Ripple Music and STB Records, who now align for a reissue of the eight-tracker. Why is quickly apparent. In addition to having earned a fervent response, The Vast Electric Dark basks in quality songcraft and doomly, heavy vibes, keeping a consistent pace while rolling through the semi-metallic push of “Raise the Dead” or the later rumble/shred of “Cassandra’s Curse.” All the while, guitarist/vocalist Marcus De Pasquale provides a steady presence at the fore alongside bassist Tony McMahon and drummer Joel Green, and what’s ultimately still a straightforward rocker of an album finds a niche for itself between varies underground styles of heavy. Between the balance they strike across their 37 minutes and the energy that courses through their songs, Witchskull’s The Vast Electric Dark proves easily worth the look it’s getting.
Tonight begins heavy duo Castle‘s latest European tour. Less than a week ago, they finished a run that took them coast to coast in Canada, rounding out in Toronto on Sept. 30. A little while after they return from overseas, they’ll do the West Coast with Mos Generator. After that? Japan.
If you don’t respect the living shit out of that, then I don’t know what you’re doing on this site.
To mark the occasion of Castle ending one tour and starting another, they today present a new video for “Down in the Cauldron Bog.” The track comes from 2016’s Welcome to the Graveyard (review pending, by which I mean it’ll be up with the batch on Friday), which was released by respected purveyor Ván Records in the dead heat of summer. The hard-touring outfit had of course already crossed coasts by then, appearing at Maryland Doom Fest (review here) at the end of June to sear the crowd with their signature blend of thrash, classic metal, eerie vibes and doom. The album, unsurprisingly, represents those perfectly as well.
And “Down in the Cauldron Bog” definitely shows it. With death as the central theme for its imagery, the track offers hooks, shred, groove and melody all in kind, all in a package of songwriting that most bands would collapse on themselves even trying to replicate. I’m sorry, but after seeing them live this summer, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to talk about Castle again without thinking of them as being woefully underappreciated (I know the review certainly doesn’t; keep an eye out for it), and if you don’t believe me, just do yourself a favor and really dig into Welcome to the Graveyard and go catch them when they invariably roll through wherever you live, if not on this tour, then the next one or the one after that. They’ll get there sooner or later, no doubt.
Some comment from the band on the track and video and the upcoming tour dates follow the clip below.
Castle, “Down in the Cauldron Bog” official video
Castle on “Down in the Cauldron Bog”:
“It’s fitting that we’re releasing the video for ‘Down in the Cauldron Bog’ as we kick off our European tour, since we actually wrote it while we were here in Europe last year. It was the first track we wrote for the new album and was really the catalyst that set the mood musically. The haunted melody seemed to come from the landscape and the inspiration for the words were from a book we were reading at the time, The Bog People. That idea mushroomed into a larger concept of death and rebirth that we used throughout the album and also serves as a backdrop to the video.”
Video directed by Jaan Silmberg for Pistoltrixx.
CASTLE European Tour Dates: 5.10 Prague, CZ – Modra Vopice 6.10 Budapest, HG – Durer Kert 7.10 Bucharest, RO – Old Grave Fest V 8.10 Volos, GR – Lab Art 9.10 Athens, GR – Death Disco 11.10 Parma, IT – Titty Twister * 12.10 Milan, IT – Lo Fi Club * 13.10 Freiburg, DE – White Rabbit Club * 14.10 Kassel, DE – Hammerschmeide * 15.10 Tilburg, NL – Little Devil * 16.10 Antwerp, BE – Desertfest Belgium 17.10 Aachen, DE – AZ * 18.10 Berlin, DE – Urban Spree 19.10 Olten, CH – Coq d’Or 20.10 Leipzig, DE – UT Connewitz (w/ Conan) 21.10 Hamburg, DE – Bambi Galore 22.10 Gothenburg, SE – Truckstop Alaska ^ 23.10 Copenhagen, DK – KB18 ^ 25.10 Gottingen, DE – Freihafen 26.10 Weimar, DE – Gerber3 27.10 Wroclaw, PL – Ciemna Strona Miasta 28.10 Poznan, PL – U Bazyla 29.10 Zielona Gora – Jazzkino * w/ Universe217 ^ w/ Year of the Goat
CASTLE w/ MOS GENERATOR: 11/25/2016 Funhouse – Seattle, WA 11/26/2016 The Shakedown – Bellingham, WA w/ Year Of The Cobra 11/27/2016 Obsidian – Olympia, WA w/ Year Of The Cobra 11/28/2016 High Water Mark – Portland, OR 11/29/2016 Old Nick’s – Eugene, OR 11/30/2016 G Street – Grant’s Pass, OR 12/01/2016 Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA 12/02/2016 Blue Lagoon – Santa Cruz, CA 12/03/2016 The Garage – Ventura, CA 12/04 /2016The Complex – Los Angeles, CA
CASTLE w/ Guevnna: 12/08/2016 El Puente – Yokohama, JP 12/09/2016 Earthdo – Tokyo, JP 12/10/2016Osaka – Hokage, JP 12/11/2016 Huck Finn – Nagoya, JP 12/12/2016 Ruby Room – Tokyo, JP
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 8th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Look at that list of tour dates. Just look at it. Not only the size of the thing, but the places Castle are going. You think Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a big rock town? Or Poznan, Poland? Well, maybe Poznan, I don’t know, but the point is that San Francisco duo Castle remain committed to bringing their rock to ears two at a time and that commitment is beyond admirable. Their Canadian tour started last night in Montreal and will continue through the end of this month. Then they head to Europe for Desertfest Belgium 2016 and more besides. Then it’s a run down the West Coast alongside Mos Generator that’ll take them into December, when they go to Japan for what I’m pretty sure isn’t the first time.
They’re a hard band to get a grip on musically without seeing them live, and clearly they’re putting in their work to get in front of as many people as possible. Their new album, Welcome to the Graveyard, is out now.
To the PR wire:
CASTLE: Occult Rock Conjurors Announce West Coast Tour With Mos Generator This November; Band To Kick Off Canadian Trek This Week
The occult rock conjurors/perpetual road warriors in CASTLE today confirm a short run of Fall West Coast dates with Washington state riff rockers, Mos Generator. The trek will run from November 25th through December 4th and includes Year Of The Cobra on select dates.
The latest run of shows build upon CASTLE’s massive North American live takeover, which commenced on June 15th, included a three-week run of tour dates surrounding their appearance at the Maryland Doom Fest, and another month-long headlining tour that ran from July 17th through August 20th. The band will take to the streets yet again for a month’s worth of Canadian dates starting tomorrow in Quebec and rolling through September 30th in Toronto.
In October, CASTLE will bring their rituals to the stages of Europe for a fifteen-date trek which will include performances at Desertfest Belgium and Old Grave Fest V in Bucharest. In December the tireless duo will return to the stage, this time in Japan with Guevnna! More dates will be added in the coming weeks. Stay up to date and visit heavycastle.com or facebook.com/CastleSF.
CASTLE: 9/07/2016 Katacombes – Montreal, QC 9/08/2016 Envol at Macadam Fest – Quebec City, QC 9/09/2016 Panic Room – St. John, NB 9/10/2016 Gus Pub – Halifax, NS 9/11/2016 Baba’s – Charlottetown, PEI 9/12/2016 Capitol Complex – Fredericton, NB 9/14/2016 House Of Targ – Ottawa, ON 9/15/2016 The Asylum – Sudbury, ON 9/16/2016 Black Pirates Pub – Thunder Bay, ON 9/17/2016 Windsor Hotel – Winnipeg, MB 9/18/2016 SASC HQ – Saskatoon, SK 9/19/2016 Starlite Room – Edmonton, AB 9/20/2016 Fernando’s – Kelowna, BC 9/21/2016 The Office Pub – Kamloops, BC 9/22/2016 Funky Winkerbeans – Vancouver, BC 9/23/2016 Logans Pub – Victoria, BC 9/24/2016 Palomino – Calgary, AB 9/26/2016 The Club – Regina, SK 9/28/2016 New American – Sault Ste. Marie, ON 9/29/2016 The Office – London, ON 9/30/2016 Sneaky Dee’s – Toronto, ON w/ Cattle Decapitation 10/05/2016 Modra Vopice – Prague, CZ 10/06/2016 Durer Kert – Budapest, HU 10/07/2016 Old Grave Fest V – Bucharest, RO 10/09/2016 Death Disco – Athens, GR 10/11/2016 Titty Twister – Parma, IT w/ Universe217 10/12/2016 Blue Rose – Milan, IT w/ Universe217 10/13/2016 White Rabbit Club – Freiburg, DE w/ Universe217 10/15/2016 Little Devil – Tilburg, NL w/ Universe217 10/16/2016 Desertfest Belgium – Antwerp, BE 10/17/2016 AZ – Aachen, DE 10/18/2016 Urban Spree – Berlin, DE 10/19/2016 Coq d’Or – Olten, CH 10/20/2016 UT Connewitz – Leipzig, DE w/ Conan 10/22/2016 Truckstop Alaska – Gothenburg, SE w/ Year Of The Goat 10/23/2016 KB18 – Copenhagen, DK w/ Year Of The Goat 10/26/2016 Gerber3 – Weimar, DE 10/27/2016 Ciemna Strona Miasta – Wroclaw, PL 10/28/2016 U Bazyla – Poznan, PL w/ MOS GENERATOR: 11/25/2016 Funhouse – Seattle, WA 11/26/2016 The Shakedown – Bellingham, WA w/ Year Of The Cobra 11/27/2016 Obsidian – Olympia, WA w/ Year Of The Cobra 11/28/2016 High Water Mark – Portland, OR 11/29/2016 Old Nick’s – Eugene, OR 11/30/2016 G Street – Grant’s Pass, OR 12/01/2016 Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA 12/02/2016 Blue Lagoon – Santa Cruz, CA 12/03/2016 The Garage – Ventura, CA 12/04 /2016The Complex – Los Angeles, CA w/ Guevnna: 12/08/2016 El Puente – Yokohama, JP 12/09/2016 Earthdo – Tokyo, JP 12/10/2016Osaka – Hokage, JP 12/11/2016 Huck Finn – Nagoya, JP 12/12/2016 Ruby Room – Tokyo, JP
CASTLE continues to tour in support of their Welcome To The Graveyard full-length issued earlier this year via Ván Records. Captured by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Ommadon et al) at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon, Welcome To The Graveyard is currently available at THIS LOCATION.
It was a hell of a ride, and by that I mean I sat in traffic from about 8:30 in the morning until I walked into Cafe 611 in Frederick, Maryland, just in time for the start of the first band at 5:15PM. I soon found that my plan to not wear the supportive boot for my continuing ankle pain was, let’s say, ambitious. Basically I couldn’t stand up for more than like five minutes at a time. Fortunately the boot was in the car. Then my camera broke.
This is the part where normally I’d say “some you win, some you lose,” but the quality of the first night of Maryland Doom Fest 2016 — the second edition of the festival put on by JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank; still kicking myself for missing it last year — was such that I couldn’t really feel too down about any of the above, except perhaps the camera, which served me well for half a decade and hopefully I’ll be able to have fixed in the near term, no doubt at significant cost. Not for this weekend, though. Bummer.
Well. Now that I think I’ve gotten all or at least most of the bitching out of the way, we can get down to business. Like I said, I watched from the first band on, as much as I was able, and got pictures on my phone after the camera went down. I did the best I could.
Alright, here goes:
Clearly a trial by fire for the room. Some fests might try to ease the audience into the event; Maryland Doom Fest 2016 not so much. Philadelphia’s Black Urn would wind up being the most extreme band of the night, digging their way into vicious sludge metal topped by growls and screams exclusively, proffered through two guitars finding balance in the mix with bass that seemed utterly dominant at first but soon enough evened out. That kind of stuff runs the risk of coming across as samey when you don’t know the songs — they have a 2015 demo and a 2016 EP, The Pangs of Our Covenant, out, but this was my first exposure to them — but Black Urn knew when to change the pace up, and their faster parts had a heavy rock edge to them that set well alongside the grueling brutalities they fostered otherwise. Plus vocalist John Jones wore an Iron Monkey t-shirt, and that’s just about always going to earn some extra points in my book.
The Californian heavy atmospheric doom rockers were a treat for anyone who showed up early, playing through a considerable investment portfolio of amplification, fresh-looking Oranges and Sunn for the guitar of Kyle Stratton and the bass of John Chavarria, while drummer Jeff Tedtaotao punctuated the massive rolling grooves elicited from them. They’d been on tour for about a week supporting the recently-released, Billy Anderson-produced Shaman’s Path of the Serpent (stream here; review here), and “Gravity” was a highlight of the set, which rightly focused on the new album and its ambient largesse, in which one can hear shades of anything from YOB to Neurosis to Deftones in Stratton‘s vocals to Tool in some of their quiet, winding parts. It’s a varied blend, and they can make it move as well when they want, but they were impressively fluid front to back, and seemed most at home with the three of them locked into any number of lumbering progressions, of which they offered plenty.
I’ve been watching Admiral Browning play shows for more than a decade. I say this not to brag about having seen the band a bunch of times, but to emphasize the point that when they take a given stage, I still don’t know what to expect. Oh, you can be sure that guitarist Matt LeGrow, bassist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis and drummer Tim Otis will offer dizzying technicality and frenetic groove, but just where they might take that is perpetually up in the air. Their 2015 tape EP, Corvette Summer (review here), found them experimenting further with incorporating vocals into their long-instrumentally-focused sound, and it worked. At Maryland Doom Fest 2016, it wasn’t a question. Both LeGrow and McGinnis had mics and used them liberally. I’ll admit it was a somewhat jarring sight — as I said, they were strictly instrumental for a long time — but they’ve developed relentlessly over their years together, and that process obviously continues unabated. Nothing new to say I’m looking forward to what they do next, but it’s true all the same. Way underappreciated band.
Probably should’ve seen these cats by now. Led by guitarist/vocalist Erik Sugg, North Carolina’s Demon Eye have been tearing it up on the Eastern Seaboard for the last couple years, also journeying west this past April to tour alongside Disenchanter in support of their second record, 2015’s Tempora Infernalia (review here), and after hearing such encouraging things about their stage presence, yeah, it felt overdue. Sugg was indeed very much in the lead position, bantering with the crowd between songs, headbanging and stomping in classic rock style, backed by drummer Bill Egan on vocals and lead guitarist Larry Burlison while Paul Walz‘s Rickenbacker tied it all together in the low end. They opened with “End of Days” and closed with “Sons of Man,” both from the new record, but “From Beyond” from 2014’s Leave the Light (review here) was a highlight as well, their songs upbeat. In my notes, it just says “ace songwriting,” so we’ll leave it at that, and while I’ll admit some of their cult themes leave me a little cold, both their craft and the energy of their performance are absolutely undeniable.
With guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey both now in Beelzefuzz and bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis sharing his time with Admiral Browning and several other projects, Pale Divine has kind of become a part-time institution, but in all the years I’ve seen them — I think the first time was in Philly with The Hidden Hand, circa ’04 — they’ve never failed to deliver on their particular kind of woeful traditional doom. Though they’re not actually from the state, they were a perfect centerpiece for Maryland Doom Fest 2016’s first night, and the assembled crowd, younger and older, showed their appreciation duly. As I was dealing with my just-busted camera, I’ll admit my attention was somewhat divided, but Pale Divine don’t screw around on stage, and they closed their set playing something they’ve never played before. Diener gave the title but of course I missed it, in the back fumbling with the camera battery and lens as I was, sadly to no avail. The doom felt perhaps even more appropriate in such a context.
Ruby the Hatchet
Philly-region five-piece Ruby the Hatchet are on something of a mini-tour this week, up the Northeast in the formidable company of Black Mountain. Not at all their first run in support of last year’s way-right-on Valley of the Snake (review here), but they’ve also reissued their first record, Ouroboros, on vinyl through Tee Pee Records, and I’d imagine when the chance to do shows with a group like Black Mountain crops up, or to, say, play Maryland Doom Fest 2016 on the night The Obsessed are headlining, it’s a thing you do your best to make happen. Starting off their set with the memorable “Heavy Blanket” from Valley of the Snake, they jammed profusely and featured what I think might be the weekend’s only on-stage organ, so bonus points there. Vocalist Jillian Taylor was in firm command on stage, her vocals run through a close delay for a live-doubletracking effect that only made their cultistry seem more resonant. Taylor, together with bassist Lake Muir, guitarist John Scarperia, drummer Owen Stewart and organist Sean Hur, have pretty clearly mastered the post-Uncle Acid blend of hooks and bounce, and set about reshaping them to suit their own melodic purposes. One expects that will be a process that plays out over the next several years/albums, but they were impressively tight and for my first time seeing them, I was glad I finally did.
Speaking of bands I should’ve seen before — as I realize I have a couple times at this point — fucking Castle. The hard-touring San Francisco outfit sounded so much like a group used to being on the road. Some bands just develop that thing. They show up in a room, assess the place, the people, the sound, say, “Okay, we can kick ass here,” and then do. That’s exactly what Castle did. They’re the kind of band who could make you believe in heavy metal. A lot of what they played was new — they’re touring to herald the arrival of their new album, Welcome to the Graveyard, which is out July 12 on Ván Records — and their righteously individualized blend of thrash, traditional metal, doom, heavy rock and roll, etc., speaks to some mystical bygone era when metal was about not compromising, putting a fist in the air against expectation and going on tour forever. Castle were so deep into what they were doing that I think they could’ve been anywhere and it would’ve been the same, that trance taking hold early on as they locked in and holding sway for the duration of their set, which seemed short when it was over. They’ve made themselves pretty available for in-person experience over the years, and now I understand why. I don’t think it’s really possible to get them until you see them live. I’m late to the party on that one, I know, but they didn’t seem to care if it was somebody’s first time, fifth time, or however-manyeth time seeing them. Everyone got their ass handed to them equally.
Not to toot my own horn, but I said not too long ago that if you get the chance to see Internal Void, you should do it, and their hour-long set at Cafe 611 only affirmed the truth of that. The four-piece of vocalist J.D. Williams, guitarist Kelly Carmichael, bassist Adam Heinzmann and drummer Brian Goad packed out the room shoulder to shoulder and were clearly as glad to see the hometown crowd as the hometown crowd was to see them, even before Carmichael started shredding out solos, before Williams widened his eyes and loosed his gravely sneer, and before they brought out original drummer Eric Little to play a couple cuts from 1993’s Standing on the Sun, marking the first time that album’s full lineup had shared the stage in 23 years. With their own banner behind them, Internal Void epitomized Maryland doom. Their workingman’s grooves, classic edge and sans-bullshit delivery spoke to everything that has allowed the scene in and around Frederick to flourish for the last three decades to where it is now and where it’s headed in the future. Last time I saw Internal Void was at the Afterburner for Roadburn 2012, and several others remarked that it had been several years since they last played, so that might well have been their most recent show. Either way, they brought it hard for the Maryland Doom Fest 2016 crowd and were a joy to watch. If you get the chance to see them, do it. Don’t hesitate.
I’m not sure anyone would’ve been a better fit to headline Maryland Doom Fest than The Obsessed. I mean that wholeheartedly. Their legacy as a band — only more so now that guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich has brought in his Spirit Caravan bandmate Dave Sherman (recent interview here) on bass/backing vocals, alongside new drummer Brian Costantino — is so tied to that of Maryland doom that you just don’t have the one without the other. Their set might be considered a victory lap for the month-long tour they just did with Karma to Burn (who also play this weekend) as much as a precursor to their hitting the studio with Frank “The Punisher” Marchand in a couple weeks to record their first album since 1994. In addition to The Obsessed staples “Neatz Brigade,” “Streamlined,” “Protect and Serve” and “Blind Lightning,” they worked in a couple Spirit Caravan cuts, among them “Retroman” and the ultra-rolling “Sea Legs.” It was late, and the room began to thin out some as they made their way toward the close of the evening with “Freedom,” but in giving a look at some newer material with the speedy “Be the Night” and the more expansive “Sacred” (which has been kicking around Spirit Caravan sets for a few years now and has older roots), The Obsessed looked ahead in addition to celebrating their legacy, and that seemed no less appropriate. Even after Internal Void, they held the room wrapt, and there was zero doubt to whom the night ultimately belonged.
Next show starts in a little over an hour, so I gotta get moving. No extra pics on account of the broken camera, but thanks for reading anyway.
It’s a considerable update from the camp of Desertfest Belgium 2016, so I won’t delay too much before letting you have at it — if anyone reads this stuff anyway — but before you jump in, take special note that the following seven bands have been added to the festival as a “build-up” to its first headliner announcement. That means that while YOB, Pentagram, Torche, Elder, My Sleeping Karma, Castle, etc., will play Desertfest Belgium 2016, none of them are actually among the three-day festival’s headlining acts. Very curious to see what that first headliner announcement will bring, but in the meantime, anywhere that brings in YOB and Elder on the same weekend is the place to be that weekend.
The build-up towards our first headliner announcement continues with a batch of no less than SEVEN new names for the 2016 Desertfest Antwerp line-up… We’re pretty certain that the Oregon Doom Institution YOB requires no further introduction, and the formidable trio of melodic doom rockers ELDER, German Nautik Doom outsiders AHAB and sludge nihilists COUGH are sure to delight any Desertfester worth their salt. Rounding off we have Hangman’s Chair from Paris and Castle for more doom/sludge badass-ness, and the shamanic grooves of Tau throws in a fresh if deeply psychedelic vibe.
We hope you like what we have on offer here, and just remember: this is still all just the beginning of much more goodness to come!
YOB – The ethereal mists of Eugene, Oregon no doubt provide the perfect catalyst for founding member and vocalist Mike Scheidt to call up the signature of surging doom that has brought YOB to their current position as one of the most respected and revered bands in all of heavy metal. Their latest outing ‘Clearing The Path To Ascend’ (2014) was hailed as the crowning achievement for a band whose journey now nears 2 decades of creating cathartic music that demands the full attention of mind, body, and soul.
Elder – Elder melds the familiar sounds of Sleep‘s colossal riffage with an ever-evolving vision of soaring melodies and sonic soundscapes. The songs on their 3rd album ‘Lore’ cross the heavy rock and doom genre boundaries into krautrock and prog territory. Powered equally by riffs and atmosphere, Elder’s penchant for progressive songwriting and melody shines more brightly than ever, but they still hold true to their original methodology: all heavy, no filler.
Ahab – With their outsider brand of Nautik Doom, AHAB have effectively thrown out all preconceived notions of what doom metal is supposed to be. As much as they can crush the listener into submission with epic arrangements, they can just easily revert to clean breaks and contemplative whispers. Drawing inspiration from books and painting as well as music, AHAB create something that gets into your mind through all levels of reception.
Cough – Cough brings together the most savage aspects of extreme music, from crushing doom metal and grimy sludge to early black metal. We’re anxiously awaiting the June release of ‘Still They Pray’, which must be one of the most anticipated metal albums of 2016 in a production by Electric Wizard’s Jus Oborn. Rest assured that it will fulfill their long-term ambition to remain the heaviest sludge band in existence.
Hangman’s Chair – Somewhere between the dirge of grunge and the grind of doom, you will find the Paris combo Hangman’s Chair. Their world is a place of darkness and cold, but you’ll inevitably be pulled in by its eerie atmosphere. Across 4 full length albums and 3 split albums they’ve toured from Hellfest to Iceland, Russia, Benelux, Germany and Switzerland with the likes of Eyehategod, High On Fire, Crowbar, and The Devil’s Blood.
Tau – The collective project by Shaun Mulrooney (Dead Skeletons) and the Venezuelan multi instrumentalist Gerald Pasqualin was inspired by Shaun’s shamanic experiences in the magical desert of Real De Catorce. This resulted in the deeply psychedelic mind-trip EP ‘Wirikuta’ (recorded with Christoph “Tiger” Bartlett from Kadavar), providing some true Desert music that will shake your senses and spirit.
Castle – Doom-tinged metal outfit Castle will release their 4th album in July 2016. Since their inception in 2009, they have steadily climbed the metal ranks with a succession of critically acclaimed releases. Their live reputation is equally solid, having played hundreds of shows worldwide alongside The Sword, Conan, Intronaut and Pentagram and festivals like Roadburn and the London and Berlin Desertfests.