Caustic Casanova Premiere “Fancy English”; God How I Envy the Deaf out Oct. 18

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on September 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

caustic casanova

Washington D.C. heavy prog noise rockers — that’s right — Caustic Casanova will release their new album, God How I Envy the Deaf, through Magnetic Eye Records on Oct. 18. On Nov. 2, they’ll also play the label’s Day of Doom label showcase at Brooklyn’s famed Saint Vitus Bar, and thereafter take off on the latest their ongoing string of tours. That tour follows, wait for it, several others the now-four-piece have conducted thus far this year, and the album goes in some way toward explaining the intangible aspects of their sound.

To wit, just about no one who listens to Caustic Casanova knows what to make of them. Right? Did you see the part above when I called them “heavy prog noise rockers?” What the hell does that even mean? Are they that? Are they heavy college rock indie? Are they hard alternative? Semi-grown-up punk? Depends which song you listen to, really — and their sound encompasses all of it — but with God How I Envy the Deaf, it becomes a little clearer why. It’s the D.C. in them. This is the town that produced Funkadelic and Minor Threat. It’s not a place where artists have felt compelled to follow the rules about where genre lines are meant to reside, and so if Caustic Casanova sound just as comfortable in the psychedelic post-thrash of “Memory King” as they do balancing crunch riffs against dual-vocals and airy post-rock leads in “Truth Syrup,” it seems only appropriate to look at where they’re coming from as part of the reason behind that.

Well, that and they’re obviously a buncha weirdos.

Go get ’em, weirdos!

Comprising nine tracks in 50 gonna-be-reviewed-by-me-sooner-or-later minutes, God How I Envy the Deaf is led off by “Fancy English,” the premiere of which you can stream below. Take a second, get your brain in order, and dig in:

Caustic Casanova God How I Envy the Deaf

CAUSTIC CASANOVA Return with Exultant New Album GOD HOW I ENVY THE DEAF

New album of angular heavy rock anthems from hard-touring D.C. genre-benders arrives October 18th

Relentless road-dogs CAUSTIC CASANOVA will release their new album, God How I Envy The Deaf, this October via Magnetic Eye Records. The record lands after a nearly two-month cross-country tour and only weeks prior to another trek in support of the confident collection of singable riff-punk anthems, establishing yet again that this band won’t be held to any sort of predictable musical path nor many nights sleeping in their own beds.

Since forming as teenagers at the College of William & Mary in 2005, Caustic Casanova have weathered lineup changes and life-threatening injuries while maintaining an aggressive DIY touring ethic, and their eclectic sound has made them a favorite in a crowded scene.

Following drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zaenker’s recovery from wrist injuries that nearly ended her ability to play, the band the band released the critically acclaimed LP Breaks in 2015 on Kylesa’s Retro Futurist Records, as well as a trio of EPs between 2013 and 2018 that paired original songs with classics from Pentagram, the Melvins and Weedeater. This hard work led to nominations for multiple Washington Area Music Awards in 2019, as well as a deal with Magnetic Eye Records to release the much-anticipated new album.

Looking to the future, the band (Zaenker, along with bassist/vocalist Francis Beringer, guitarist Jake Kimberley and guitarist Andrew Yonki) have already begun work on material for their next album. First, though, the road-hardened unit will be showcasing the genre-mashing twists and alchemies of God How I Envy the Deaf across the world, including a slot at Magnetic Eye’s upcoming Day of Doom label showcase this November, with lots more live dates to come.

God How I Envy The Deaf will be released on digital, CD and LP from Magnetic Eye Records on October 18th.

Current Caustic Casanova Live Dates:
9/13 – Shepherstown, WV at Domestic
9/14 – Winooski, VT at Monkey Bar (Ghastly Sound album release)
9/15 – Montreal, QC at Piranha Bar
9/23 – Louisville, KY at Highland Tap Room (w/ Howling Giant)
9/24 – Indianapolis, IN at Healer (w/ Howling Giant)
9/25 – Columbus, OH at Dirty Dungaree’s (w/ Howling Giant)
9/27 – Brooklyn, NY at Gold Sounds (Husbandry album release)
10/19 – Washington DC at Atlas Brew Works (Caustic Casanova album release)
11/2 – Brooklyn, NY at Saint Vitus Bar (Magnetic Eye Records Day of Doom Label Showcase)
11/8 – Richmond, VA
11/9 – Greensboro, NC
11/10 – Wilmington, NC
11/12 – Charleston, SC
11/14 – St. Augustine, FL
11/15 – Gainesville, FL
11/16 – Tampa, FL
11/17 – Miami, FL
11/18 – Orlando, FL
11/20 – New Orleans, LA
11/21 – San Antonio, TX
11/22 – Denton, TX
11/23 – Fort Worth, TX

http://causticcasanova.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CausticCasanova
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Magnetic Eye Records Announces Label Showcase with Horsehunter, Elephant Tree, Domkraft, Summoner & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Clearly, Magnetic Eye Records is not into half-measures. Any label can put together a tribute. When Magnetic Eye does it, it’s two sprawling collections of bands playing homage to landmark albums and artists’ greatest hits. Any label can put together a showcase. When Magnetic Eye does it, they fly in three international acts, from Australia, the UK and Sweden, to round out the bill. Do you have any idea how insane that is?

It’s quite insane.

They’ve got a Kickstarter up now, as they will, and as rewards for backers they’re letting you preorder which set you’d like to have the recorded version of, because of course they’re also recording the sets. Seriously?

To do otherwise would be a half-measure.

They’re calling it ‘The Day of Doom,’ and in addition to HorsehunterElephant Tree, and Domkraft, they’ll have SummonerLeather LungGhastly SoundHigh PriestCaustic Casanova and These Beasts on the bill. Nine bands at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn on Nov. 2.

Quite insane. Just enough to work:

magnetic eye showcase banner

MAGNETIC EYE RECORDS presents its first ever live label showcase at the legendary Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn this November 2nd!

Check out the Kickstarter to help us make the Day of Doom truly epic and get in on the exclusive live album releases from MER’s flagship bands.

Sure, it’s summer right now, but have you looked around? Seas are rising, animal populations are shrinking, Scott Stapp has a new album, dogs and cats are living together… it’s mass hysteria.

Not the types to fly in the face of impending Armageddon, Magnetic Eye thought we’d expedite the end times by officially declaring our own DAY OF DOOM on November 2nd of this year as the date of our first-ever live label showcase.

Where?

The Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, New York. Where the hell else?

Who?

No less than nine crushing Magnetic Eye roster bands, headlined by our four flagship acts that have helped shape and define the core of the MER sound:

Summoner
Horsehunter
Domkraft
Elephant Tree

What does this mean for you?

Two things:

1. If you’re anywhere near the New York area (or even if you’re not), you’re going to want to make the pilgrimage to this show. With our biggest and heaviest acts flying in from all over the world, it’s probably no stretch to say we have no idea when or if this will ever happen again. Tickets will be on sale soon directly via the Saint Vitus Bar, and we’ll of course let you know where to get them.

2. Whether you can make this incredible convergence in person or not, you can share in the experience. Magnetic Eye will be recording the four headline bands at Day of Doom for an exclusive set of live album releases, and you can support helping get the bands here for the event and reserve your live records now by jumping on board the Kickstarter for the project at this location.

Look, we’d love to have all of you there with us. But we know it’s not possible for some to make the trip, and we understand. Hell, it wasn’t possible for most of us to attend Woodstock, but at least we have the soundtrack, right?

Check out our Kickstarter now to lock down your exclusive editions of Elephant Tree, Domkraft, Summoner and Horsehunter Live at the Day of Doom New York. It’s going to be absolutely unforgettable. And thanks to these records, you’ll always remember.

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Leather Lung, Lonesome, On’ry & Evil (2019)

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Caustic Casanova to Start Summer Tour on Aug. 7; New Album Due This Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

caustic casanova

Recently signed to Magnetic Eye Records and even more recently shifted from a trio to a four-piece lineup, Caustic Casanova will do like they do and hit the road on Aug. 7. They’ll be out for a month straight and then head out again later in September, all ahead of the release of their new album, God How I Envy the Deaf, which will mark their debut through Magnetic Eye and is due out in October. I would expect that by the time the album arrives, if Caustic Casanova haven’t yet announced a foll0w-up tour for this one, one won’t be far behind, as they rarely sit still one way or the other and they tend to do long-ish stints when they go.

All the touring in September makes me wonder if there maybe wasn’t some delay in the record coming out, but one way or the other, there will be touring, there will be an album, and Caustic Casanova will do that whole rocking-in-the-free-world thing I keep hearing so much about. And that’s good news.

Here are the dates from the PR wire:

caustic casanova summer tour

CAUSTIC CASANOVA TO EMBARK ON US TOUR

Washington, DC heavy rockers Caustic Casanova are preparing for a late summer tour that will take them across the United States. Says the band, “We’re so excited to hit the road for our longest North American tour since 2016 (and our new guitarist Jake Kimberley’s first coast-to-coast run). We’ll be bringing you all the prog, stoner metal, psych, and noise rock you can handle, at irresponsible volumes each night, for nearly 2 months. We’ll be playing very new songs, an old song or two, plus tunes off our forthcoming Magnetic Eye Records debut God How I Envy The Deaf, out this October.”

Tour Dates:
8-7 Chapel Hill, NC at Local 506
8-8 Greenville, SC at Radio Room
8-9 Johnson City, TN at The Hideaway
8-10 Lexington, KY at Best Friend Bar
8-11 Nashville, TN at Springwater
8-12 Memphis, TN at Pagan Mom House
8-13 Wichita, KS at Kirby’s
8-14 Saint Louis, MO at The Sinkhole
8-15 Lawrence, KS at Replay Lounge
8-16 Denver, CO at Tennyson’s Tap
8-17 El Paso, TX at Neon Rose
8-20 San Diego, CA at Tower Bar
8-21 Long Beach, CA at Que Sera
8-22 Oakland, CA at Elbo Room
8-23 Pacifica, CA at Winters Tavern
8-24 Sacramento, CA at Cafe Colonial
8-27 Portland, OR at Tonic Lounge
8-28 Seattle, WA at High Dive
8-29 Post Falls, ID at Cruisers
8-30 Great Falls, MT at The Back Alley Pub
8-31 Kalispell, MT at Old School Records
9-2 Rapid City, SD at The Cave Collective
9-4 Milwaukee, WI at Walkers Point Music Hall
9-5 Chicago, IL at Livewire Lounge
9-6 Youngstown, OH at Westside Bowl (Black Out Cook Out Festival with Inter Arma, Big Business, Child Bite, Brain Tentacles, Ken Mode, Lo-Pan and more)
9-13 Shepherdstown, WV at Shepherd University
9-14 Winooski, VT at Monkey House
9-15 Montreal, QC at Piranha Bar
9-20 Bloomington, IN at TBA
9-21 Dubuque, IA at The Blu Room
9-23 Louisville, KY at Highlands Tap Room
9-24 Indianapolis, IN at Healer
9-25 Columbus, OH at Dirty Dungarees
9-27 Brooklyn, NY at Gold Sounds Bar

http://causticcasanova.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CausticCasanova
https://www.instagram.com/CausticCasanova/
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http://magneticeyerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords

Caustic Casanova, The Pantheon Collection Vol. 1-3 (2018)

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Blackout Cookout 10 Confirms Full Lineup; It’s Pretty Insane

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the blackout cookout 10 art

Congrats to Ohio’s The Blackout Cookout on making it to their Xth edition. That’s 10, in case you were wondering. Doing anything for 10 years in a row these days is pretty admirable. And I’m not just saying that because this site also started in 2009, but because it’s true, and whether it’s something that’s a passion project like putting on this festival — because I imagine nobody’s yet gotten rich off basically hosting an annual barbecue with friends and other cool bands — or just staying at the same job, a decade is a long time. Most people get high and wander off somewhere long before that mark is reached.

Blackout Cookout X however has a badass celebratory lineup, with Inter Arma and Big Business in headlining spots for its two-day run, and Ohio-based regular-types like Bridesmaid and Lo-Pan and the reactivated Rebreather slated to appear. Look out for Caustic CasanovaBrujas del SolAlbum and of course KENmode as well. Bottom line is it’ll be a good time, and it’s a party, and I guarantee there will be people there who’ve been to all 10 Blackout Cookouts, but if you’ve never been before and you show up and, like, don’t know where the bathroom is or something, I bet they wouldn’t be a dick about it. They’d just be like, “Yeah, it’s over there” and point you on your way. People helping people. The stuff of life.

Here’s the full lineup, as seen on the social medias:

the blackout cookout 10 poster

The Blackout Cookout 10 – Sept. 6 & 7

Westside Bowl
2617 Mahoning Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio 44509

The Blackout Cookout is an annual celebration of heavy music, friends and BBQ at Westside Bowl in Youngstown, Ohio.

Friday Sept. 6
INTER ARMA
Brain Tentacles
Homewrecker
ALBUM
Bridesmaid
Something Is Waiting
Caustic Casanova
Wallcreeper
DAGGRS
Modem

Saturday Sept. 7
Big Business
KEN mode
Lo-Pan
Rebreather
Fully Consumed
Microwaves
Brujas del Sol
Goosed
Persistent Aggressor
Matter of Planets
Lake Lake
Black Spirit Crown
Cheap Heat

Poster by Chris Smith.

https://www.facebook.com/events/324565261529821/
https://www.facebook.com/theblackoutcookout/

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Magnetic Eye Records Completes Backing for Vol. 4 Redux & The Best of Black Sabbath Tributes

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Wasn’t this bound to happen? Either Vol. 4 or Master of Reality? And by the way, there’s really no wrong answer there. So, you know, yeah. April 2020 is the listed ship date on Vol. 4 Redux and The Best of Black Sabbath, both of which continue Magnetic Eye Records‘ wildly successful ‘Redux’ series that’s already touched on HendrixFloydHelmet and has Alice in Chains on deck as a next installment. Still, obviously Black Sabbath have a special place in the history of heavy — right there at the start of it, maybe page three? — and accordingly, the big guns are coming out for the homage, whether it’s Matt Pike doing “FX” or Bongzilla taking on “Snowblind” or Tony Reed doing “Laguna Sunrise.” There’s no way it’s going to miss.

My only hope is that High Reeper make “Changes” heavy.

Interested to see how The Best of Black Sabbath pans out as well, with Year of the CobraElephant Tree and Earthless and a host of others confirmed. I saw Elephant Tree do a killer version of “Paranoid” live this past Fall. Wouldn’t mind a studio take on that from them as well.

But really, there’s no way to lose here.

Word from Magnetic Eye follows:

vol 4 redux

If you told us even as recently as six weeks ago that we’d be working on a Redux version of Black Sabbath’s Volume 4 and, before the end of March, artists including The Obsessed, Whores, Zakk Wylde, and Matt goddamn Pike would have all committed to be part of the project, we would’ve probably answered, “Wow.”

And if you’d then said, “Oh yeah, you’ll also assemble a Best of Black Sabbath companion LP featuring Earthless, Elephant Tree, Year of the Cobra, and tons of other great artists including a whole crop of brand-new Magnetic Eye roster bands, who by the way you’ll find time to sign during all the madness of your Vol. 4 Kickstarter,” we’d have most likely said, “piss off.”

And yet, here we are, and all of the above has come to pass.

We are indeed reduxing Volume 4 and offering up a Best of Sabbath companion record, we do have some of the greatest heavy artists in the world committed to be part of this project, and we did somehow find time to sign three new bands during all of this, each of whom we’ll have a new record coming from later this year, and all of whom we’re inviting to be part of the project.

So, yeah. Wow.

THOU – WHEELS OF CONFUSION / THE STRAIGHTENER
THE OBSESSED – TOMORROW’S DREAM
HIGH REEPER – CHANGES
MATT PIKE – FX
SPIRIT ADRIFT – SUPERNAUT
BONGZILLA – SNOWBLIND
WHORES – CORNUCOPIA
TONY REED – LAGUNA SUNRISE
HAUNT – ST VITUS DANCE
ZAKK SABBATH – UNDER THE SUN / EVERY DAY COMES AND GOES

ALBUM ART AND DESIGN ALYSSA MOCERE

IN ADDITION, WE HAVE INCREASED THE SCOPE OF OUR PROJECT TO INCLUDE 13 ADDITIONAL BLACK SABBATH SONGS ON A BEST OF BLACK SABBATH REDUX RECORD.

Summoner
Elephant Tree
Scott Reeder
IRONWEED
Earthless
Chris Wyse
Rwake
Mooner
Year of the Cobra
Leather Lung
Brume
Caustic Casanova
Dead Witches

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Black Sabbath, “Snowblind”

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Caustic Casanova Sign to Magnetic Eye Records; New Album out This Summer

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Magnetic Eye Records announced three pickups this week. Brume, who were posted about yesterday, Caustic Casanova, about whom I’m posting right now — fancy that! — and Leather Lung, and Leather Lung, who’ll get a post Friday. Busy label. Busy band as well, as I don’t know when you last saw a stack of Caustic Casanova tour dates, but they are generally fairly mighty undertakings. They’re a good pickup for Magnetic Eye even apart from their we’ll-just-go-ahead-and-hand-deliver-our-songs touring ethic, as their records pull off that rare feat — progressive punk — and make it heavy without falling all over themselves with self-indulgence in the process. Good stuff. I owe their The Pantheon Collection Vol. 1-3 a review — currently slated for Wed., April 24; because yes, I believe in advance scheduling (subject to change) — so uh, check back for that, I guess. Or you can skip my blah blah and just stream at at the bottom of this post. I won’t be offended either way.

Band and label announcements follow in that order:

caustic casanova magnetic eye

Alright everyone – it’s time! We are SO STOKED to announce that we’ve joined the Magnetic Eye Records roster!!! We’ve been huge fans of their bands, Redux records, and work ethic for a long time so we couldn’t be more thrilled or honored to join this magnificent, merry metal family!! Along with a new full length coming around late summer/early fall this year and accompanying national tours we still have a few more surprises up our sleeves so STAY TUNED! CC train never stops! From the desert, to the ocean, to the snowy tundra to your kitchens all across the globe – we are coming for you.

Keep it Sabbath y’all.

From the label: “CAUSTIC CASANOVA modestly describes themselves as, “a loud, heavy band from the nation’s capital,” but that hardly does justice to a band that’s been compared to bands ranging from Torche to Faith No More to Voivod… wtf? Hell, we don’t know, we just knew they belonged here with us. Happy to welcome this acrobatic D.C. three-piece to the roster, and you can look for their album to land sometime around late Summer!”

Caustic Casanova is:
Stefanie Zaenker – Drums, Vocals
Francis Beringer – Bass, Vocals
Andrew Yonki – Guitar

http://causticcasanova.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CausticCasanova
https://www.instagram.com/CausticCasanova/
https://twitter.com/causticcasanova
http://store.merhq.com
http://magneticeyerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords

Caustic Casanova, The Pantheon Collection Vol. 1-3 (2018)

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2018 Night Three, 06.24.18

Posted in Features, Reviews on June 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

maryland-doom-fest-2018-night-three-poster

Before I get started on the last night of Maryland Doom Fest 2018, I want to thank JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank for the incredible work they’ve put into making this event something truly special. Think Maryland was ready for a festival to help define and codify its generations-spanning underground scene? Maryland Doom Fest has done so in four years’ time, and not only has it helped give an understanding to what Maryland doom is, but it’s working actively to broaden those horizons as well. And its reach is growing. Not only in bands. Last night the dude standing to my left was there with friends from Portland, Oregon, and to my right was a handful of folks from Albuquerque, New Mexico, all packed right at the front of the stage. It’s growing, and quickly.

But as Maryland Doom Fest enters what might be its Golden Age in presenting shows people will talk about years later — “ah yeah, were you at Doom Fest when Windhand played?”, etc. — the event has also kept its head on its shoulders about the work in progress. It’s a grounded experience, very much of its place, and a thrill to be able to return here and see it, especially after missing last year. I very much hope to be back to Frederick and back to Cafe 611 in 2019.

I don’t mind telling you I rolled into the venue in time to catch the first band feeling like I’d had my ass kicked up and down 6th St. already — because I had, two days running — but the momentum of the final day of Maryland Doom Fest 2018 was as thick as the riffs and it was a pleasure to be shoved along to a riotous finish.

Happened like this:

Gateway to Hell

Gateway to Hell (Photo JJ Koczan)

Baltimore natives Gateway to Hell started a few minutes late, which unless I’m mistaken resulted in a shortening of their set. If so, all the more a bummer, because when they were done, I wanted more. They made their debut last year with the EP, Clovers (review here), and though I had a more metallic impression of them in my mind from that going into their set opening the last day of Maryland Doom Fest 2018, with an orchestra of effects there was an experimentalist psych edge to the guitar work of Alex Briscoe that blended with straight-ahead rhythms from bassist Eric Responsible (who wins the weekend as regards surnames) and drummer Dan Petrucelli, all of which gave frontman Jerrod Bronson ground to belt out lyrics over top. They had intense moments to be sure, but I wondered if their next release might bring more of that weirdo sensibility to bear in their sound. Fingers crossed. It worked really well on stage.

Bedowyn

Bedowyn (Photo JJ Koczan)

Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Alex Traboulsi, guitarist Mark Peters, newcomer bassist Channing Azure and drummer Marc Campbell, Raleigh, North Carolina’s Bedowyn were about as close as Doom Fest got to black metal this year, and well, it was pretty close. Bedowyn, who got their start in 2011 and have an EP and full-length under their collective belt, blend that genre with a handful of others — thrash, classic metal, heavy rock, and so on — to conjure an aggressive but still poised sound, and Traboulsi‘s vocals turned from screams to sort of cleaner shouts while Campbell‘s drums held together all the part changes and stylistic turns. They went on early, so got an extra five minutes to play and made the most of it as a standout coming from someplace different than just about everything on the bill, which, again, was packed the whole way through. Also, if I remember right, I was told Campbell played drums with two broken fingers, thereby earning immeasurable bonus points. So there’s that too.

Saints and Winos

Saints and Winos (Photo JJ Koczan)

I guess everyone was on the 4:15 doombus to Frederick, because all of a sudden I turned around and the room was was pretty full for Saints and Winos from Rochester, New York. Mixing clean and harsh vocals, they tipped hats to more extreme and sludgy sounds, but had their basis in heavy rock and roll and a somewhat classic style, with plenty of low end fuzz and metallic swing very much in the spirit of the weekend in those terms and as regards general ease of pace. Their debut album, the all-caps WE RISE, came out late last year and featured three-part harmonies from guitarist Joe Dellaquila, bassist Amanda Rampe and drummer J.B. Rodgers on songs like “Great Wall,” and there was some of that on stage as well but it didn’t quite come through the house P.A. with the same kind of balance. Hazards of being the third band on the bill with complex arrangements. They were engaging enough to make me dig into the record anyway, and while there’s room to grow in their sound, it was plain to hear that potential during their set.

Book of Wyrms

Book of Wyrms (Photo JJ Koczan)

Look, I don’t want to say classic doom will never die, because let’s face it: everything fucking dies. Someday the ocean is going rise up and eat us all about 30 seconds before the asteroid hits and splits the planet in two, only to be later consumed by the sun, also dying, so yeah. Classic doom will die, but it sure as shit ain’t dead yet. Book of Wyrms made an intriguing opening statement with 2017’s Sci-Fi/Fantasy (review here), which came out via respected tonal specialists Twin Earth Records. The lineup of vocalist/effects-bringer Sarah Moore Lindsey, guitarists Kyle Lewis and Ben Coudriet, bassist Jay Lindsey and drummer Chris DeHaven dug into traditional stoner-doom vibes that were, indeed, a pleasure to witness, and their potential was writ large over their time on stage in much the same fashion as on the record. I don’t know if it’s the balance of samples vs. riffs or doomed aspects and more heavy rock roll and melody in Lindsey‘s vocals, but there’s something waiting to be tapped in their sound that, if they get there, will make all the difference for them. As it was, they carried the room with ease.

Sierra

Sierra (Photo JJ Koczan)

What a way to start a tour. And what a tour to start. Canadian three-piece Sierra obviously enjoyed launching a run of shows as they did last year at Maryland Doom Fest 2017, because they were doing the same thing all over again. This time, they’ll be out supporting fest-headliners Weedeater, and as they’ve been a steady presence on the Tone Deaf Touring circuit the last several years — they’ll also be at de facto sister fest Descendants of Crom in Pittsburgh this September — they’re tight enough in their delivery to have a professional sheen. They’re a tricky band as well, because it’s easy to watch them and say, “Okay, heavy rock, fair enough,” but that’s not it. There’s more just under the surface. To say Rush is a lazy comparison based on the simple fact of their northern origins, but they’re more prog than they let on, and they work smoothly in tipping that balance back and forth between the straightforward and the more complex. Of course, that makes them more exciting to watch, since they’re neither purely clinical nor just another collective bearing riffs, but instead offer something more varied between the two. It was my first time seeing them, and they were better than I knew, making a highlight of “Rainbows End” before finishing out with a cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Into the Void.”

Curse the Son

Curse the Son (Photo JJ Koczan)

However, I knew damn well that Curse the Son were going to be incredible. Perfect band for the setting, great slot, a room that would just bounce their volume off the walls. Yeah, it was gonna work out. And it did. It’s been a little bit — more than I’d prefer, certainly — since I last saw the Hamden, Connecticut, trio, and in that time, they’ve released their third album, Isolator (review here), signed to Ripple Music and brought in drummer Robert Ives alongside bassist/backing vocalist Brandon Keefe and founding guitarist/vocalist Ron Vanacore, so yeah, it’s been reasonably busy. Another band Maryland Doom Fest 2018 is sharing with Descendants of Crom, they also appeared at this Spring’s inaugural New England Stoner and Doom Fest, and as Vanacore announced from the stage, they’re working toward a new album for early 2019. “Huzzah” would be putting it mildly. They were the first band all weekend for whom I removed my earplugs and let go a little bit to headbang and really take in. A lot of Maryland doom resides in a mid-paced groove. Curse the Son play slower and lower, and that nod was exactly what my weary soul needed. With Vanacore‘s tonal morass and vocals cutting through, older cuts like “Spider Stole the Weed” and “Goodbye Henry Anslinger” were familiar and welcome, and though he had some rather significant shoes to fill, the swing and intensity Ives brought to the drums was a dead-on fit. They don’t really tour, but still, theirs was one of my favorite sets of the whole weekend, and if you’re reading this and you ever get the chance to see them live, do it.

Backwoods Payback

Backwoods Payback (Photo JJ Koczan)

Under general circumstances, I’m not one to gush, but I tell you know lie, I went up to each member of Backwoods Payback individually — to guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and drummer Erik Larson, each separately — and told them how incredible their new album, Future Slum, is. I don’t even know how many times the word “awesome” left my mouth, but needless to say it was an embarrassing number. The thing about it is, they just absolutely nailed it. Same could easily be said of their set at Maryland Doom Fest 2018. Playing new material and old after opening with “You Don’t Move” from their most recent outing, 2016’s Fire Not Reason (review here), they absolutely laid waste to Cafe 611. And it’s for the same reason: everything has clicked. The songs, the lineup, the performance, the presence — it’s all in the same place and they’re experienced enough and smart enough to throw it at the audience in just the right way. And the conviction from all three of them. Plenty of bands this weekend meant what they were doing. To be blunt, nobody was phoning it in. But with Backwoods Payback, it was another level entirely, and when Cummings jumped off the stage toward the end of the set and shared the mic with a couple kids in the crowd who knew the words, it felt like a moment that encapsulated the band’s capacity to hit hard and still translate that their conviction into a meaningful experience. I’ll have more to say about the new record and I’ve already made plans to see them again next month, but this one was a landmark not to be forgotten anytime soon.

Caustic Casanova

Caustic Casanova (Photo JJ Koczan)

I knew Caustic Casanova were underrated, and seeing them for the first time, I guess I was interested to find out if I could find a reason why. Their sound is certainly accessible enough; the Washington, D.C./Frederick trio play a style of heavy rock that in part feels drawn from ’90s college/art rock weirdoism and part drawn from a desire to mash that against sonic pummel and punker drive, but they’re also a thoughtful band. Each part has its purpose, and even in their delivery live, there was a sense of focus that pervaded what they were doing. It was fun to watch, definitely, but there was a strong intent there — nothing felt like an accident, however experimental it may have been in the composition. One knows they’re Melvins fans because they did a cover of “Cow” on their latest 7″, but their style has much more to it than just post-Buzzo riffing and tryhard avant gardeship so often resulting from that influence. And if Caustic Casanova are underrated, the reason is precisely because they’re not easy to pin down. They’re a dynamic, complex trio given to deft rhythmic turns and an indie aspect to complement/contrast their heavier elements, and they don’t fit into any single genre tag necessarily beyond the blanket “progressive heavy rock,” which is a pale descriptor for the actual depth of character in the music they make.

Duel

Duel (Photo JJ Koczan)

The rest of the night would be given to riotousness, and Duel were the start of that. Up from their home in Austin, Texas, this would mark the largest tour they’ve undertaken in the US, but they come into it with multiple European stints on their CV. Recently also announced for Heavy Mash 2018 in October (info here), their latest release is actually a live album called Live at the Electric Church (review here) that Heavy Psych Sounds put out as a complement to their two to-date studio LPs, 2016’s Fears of the Dead (review here) and 2017’s Witchbanger (review here), and from that, I thought I had a pretty decent idea what to expect. What took me by surprise, though, was the energy behind what they were doing. They’re classic heavy rock in their stylistic root, but rather than present it as some staid relic to be showcased like a museum piece under glass, they instead break that glass with their bare hands, smear the blood over their faces and proceed to capture the dangerous spirit that drove the earliest days of riffery in the first place. Actually, they do more than just capture it. They make it their own, so that this sound so often associated with the past becomes something inextricably forward thinking. I dug the records, so wasn’t surprised to be into the live show, but the sheer vitality of it was staggering. They made it a celebration.

The Midnight Ghost Train

The Midnight Ghost Train (Photo JJ Koczan)

Their last show. Heavy rock and roll loses one of its most potent live acts in The Midnight Ghost Train, who made Maryland Doom Fest 2018 the occasion for their final gig. Ever? Maybe. One has learned time and again never to say never in rock and roll, but the band made it known in April they were calling it quits, and this was their version of going out with a bang. Did you ever get to see The Midnight Ghost Train? It’s a question I can see myself asking in conversation for years to come — they are a litmus test for music and performance as a kinetic force, and a comparison point to which few will be able to live up. Founded by guitarist/vocalist Steve Moss and ending with longtime drummer Brandon Burghart (I don’t know what else he’s got going, but I can’t imagine any band not wanting him in its lineup) and relative newcomer bassist Tyler Harper (also of Capra), they were fury incarnate with a bittersweet underpinning. I’ve watched The Midnight Ghost Train shows for a decade, and I tell you with no reservation that they’re among the most powerful heavy rock bands I’ve ever seen. Moss transforms into a shuffle-blues madman, Burghart‘s swing is nigh-unmatchable, and Harper stood toe-to-toe with the guitar, which is saying something. They will be missed. But they went out as they always were — on fire — and I stayed up front the whole time and felt fortunate to be there to see it, as I think did everyone else in the room. They were a big part of what made the day so special. And even if they get back together at some point, years down the line or whatever, the impact of this night, this set, stands as a monument to who they were as a group and Moss‘ realized vision of heavy, funky, bluesy righteousness.

Weedeater

Weedeater (Photo JJ Koczan)

Well, if one band over the course of the three-day event was going to ignite a genuine mosh, it might as well be Weedeater, whose tonal dominance was evident from soundcheck onward despite “Dixie” Dave Collins breaking a string on his bass. Years of near-constant touring have given North Carolina’s Weedeater a reputation that well precedes them, and though it had been years since I last caught them, I knew the lumbering sludge that was about to unfold as soon as they hit into “God Luck and Good Speed” to open their set, with guitarist Dave Shepherd and drummer Carlos Denogean doing no shortage of the heavy lifting when it came to rolling out massive, lumbering nod. I’m too old for that slam-dancing shit, so I hightailed it from the front of the stage on the quick, but Weedeater left no question as to why they were headlining. What the hell else could possibly follow them? They’ve made a career on sounding unhinged, and even down to Denogean wailing away at his kit, they lived up to that, but they’re long since veterans, too, so they’re not just fucking around. They’re professionally fucking around. Good work if you can get it. The crowd knew the set the whole way through, and though Weedeater are coming up on due for a follow-up to 2015’s Goliathan (review here), which they’ve basically been on tour supporting since it came out, their command of the stage wasn’t something that just happened. It was whittled down from the years of grinding on the road they’ve done. Worth it? You’d have to ask them, but watching them play for the first time in a long-enough while, they looked like a band that made themselves headliners the hard way, and who have earned every accolade, every top slot, every laudatory hyperbole they’ve gotten. Like so much of the festival that led up to them, they were the right band, right time.

I saw and met a lot of really wonderful people this weekend who had absurdly nice things to say about this site and whatnot, from the Horseburner guys to hanging out with Mike from Backwoods Payback and Leanne Ridgeway from Riff Relevant, to seeing Paul-forever-to-be-known-as-MadJohnShaft and talking about the various European fests he hits, Dave Benzotti, Erik Larson, Earl Walker Lundy, Ron Vanacore, Deanne Firkin, Billy from Philly and the gents from The Age of Truth, Mark and Pete from ZED, Uncle Fezzy, Darren Waters, Dee Calhoun, Shy Kennedy, Pat Harrington, the dudes from Bailjack, Steve Moss, Melanie Streko, Lisa Hass, Chuck Dukeheart and the Foghound gang, Mat from Castle, Doomstress Alexis, Mark Schaff, Justin from Molasses Barge, Brenna from Lightning Born, on and on and on.

Thank you is my point. People say incredible stuff about this site, and I can’t ever really let myself hear it, but I’m happy if someone feels positively about a thing that happens here. Every now and then I do too. This weekend was one of those times. Thank you for reading and being a part of it.

It was five and a half hours north in the car when I let out of the Super 8 in Frederick to get to Connecticut, which is how this review ended up being later than I’d prefer, but so it goes. Before I end the post, I need to send a special thanks to The Patient Mrs., whose management and running point on The Pecan the last few days made this trip possible in the first place. That’s a hard job, even more for her than for me, and I owe her eternally for her efforts in allowing me to pursue crazy ideas like, “so I’m gonna go to Frederick for a weekend and hit Doom Fest you got the baby okay cool thanks.” It means more to me than I can say.

More pics after the jump. Thanks again all.

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Maryland Doom Fest 2018 Announces Full Lineup with The Obsessed, Windhand, Weedeater, Earthride and Many More

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Invariably there will be some change between now and next June, and there’s the tradition of the pre-show to consider the night before, but right out of the gate, Maryland Doom Fest 2018 impresses with its scope of heavy rock and doom, cross-country reach and loyalty to its core mission. With The Obsessed, Windhand and Weedeater set to headline, the fourth edition of the fest curated by JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank will welcome return appearances from the likes of Castle, Earthride, Thousand Vision Mist and Foghound, while reaching out to bring first-timers from afar like Texas’ Doomstress and Duel and Switchblade Jesus, Kansas rockers The Midnight Ghost Train, Connecticut’s Curse the Son, New York’s Geezer, and — I believe traveling the farthest — Disenchanter, from Portland, Oregon.

It’s a killer assemblage, and I think the three headliners do a lot in summarizing the whole idea behind the fest in the first place: The Obsessed are among the founders of what we think of as “Maryland doom.” Windhand are the forerunners of the modern scene. And Weedeater bring a riotous sludge party like no one else on the planet. What more could you possibly ask of three bands in terms of expressing what Maryland Doom Fest 2018 is all about?

I’ll have updates as I see them, but in the meantime, mark your calendars for June 22, 23, and 24 at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD, and I’ll do the same, because this looks absolutely awesome.

Dig it:

maryland doom fest 2018 poster

Maryand Doom Fest 2018

A 3 day weekend of Doom in its purest form.

June 22, 23, and 24

Cafe 611 Restaurant
611 North Market Street
Frederick, MD 21701

Full lineup:
The Obsessed, Windhand, Weedeater, Castle, Unorthodox, Duel, The Watchers, Zed, Switchblade Jesus, The Midnight Ghost Train, Lightning Born, Earthride, Geezer, Disenchanter, Bedowyn, Cavern, Doomstress, Caustic Casanova, Hawkeyes, Curse the Son, Las Cruces, Horseburner, Shadow Witch, Foghound, Witchhelm, Book of Wyrms, Thousand Vision Mist, Molasses Barge, Backwoods Payback, Bailjack, Electropathic, Gateway to Hell

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-maryland-doom-fest-2018-tickets-39468562533
https://www.facebook.com/MdDoomFest/
https://www.themarylanddoomfest.com/

The Obsessed, Live at Maryland Doom Fest 2016

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