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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Caustic Casanova Release Pantheon Vol. 2 7″; Announce Fall Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

caustic-casanova

One new song and a Melvins cover is about all the excuse Caustic Casanova need to hit the road on a tour that will take the Washington D.C. natives through the Midwest and out along the West Coast starting at the end of this month. The new 7″ is titled Pantheon Vol. 2, and like its predecessor and the band’s 2015 debut long-player, Breaks (review here), it arrives via Retro Futurist RecordsCaustic Casanova, whose injury-plagued story you can read below, have spent significant time on tour to back that J. Robbins-produced outing, and as we look ahead toward 2018 one can’t help but wonder if they won’t sooner or later settle into a recording process for a follow-up. Haven’t heard anything in that regard, but it’s worth keeping an eye out.

The PR wire has all the info you need, plus links, plus audio, because it’s good to be comprehensive with this stuff:

caustic-casanova-pantheon-vol-2

Caustic Casanova on tour this fall.

Caustic Casanova’s forthcoming 7 inch, second in a series with an original on side A and a cover on side B, with artwork honoring the band being covered. Vol. 1 featured Pentagram, Vol. 2 features (the) Melvins!

After forming as teenagers at the College of William and Mary in 2005 and recording several albums and EPs there and in DC, Caustic Casanova found itself at a critical juncture in 2012 following the departure of the band’s original guitarist. The rhythm section of drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zaenker and bassist/vocalist Francis Beringer wanted to play even heavier, more experimental music in the vein of Rush and the Melvins, and wanted to tour relentlessly, but weren’t sure if they could find a guitar player who would match their ambition. After a few sets as a bass/drum duo, rounds of guitar player auditions finally yielded the missing element to the new Caustic Casanova, longtime fan, friend and all-around six string wizard Andrew Yonki.

In Andrew’s four years with the band, the rejuvenated Caustic Casanova has played hundreds of shows, doing all their own booking in DC and throughout North America, with plans for more touring throughout the world. Even a life-threatening wrist and back injury to drummer Stefanie Zaenker barely curtailed the band’s forward momentum. The CC was back rehearsing less than three months after her second round of surgeries, recorded a 7″ (Pantheon: Vol 1) and a full-length (Breaks), and was back on another full US tour within the year.

What kind of music has Caustic Casanova made since opening for sludge rock titans Kylesa in 2014 and signing to their eclectic label Retro Futurist? Their relentlessly intense live show has earned plenty of notoriety, and their 2015 LP Breaks has garnered much praise for its uniquely diverse take on heavy.

Caustic Casanova is releasing their second 7 inch, Pantheon: Vol 2, on September 8th. It features original song “Lord Pinto” and a theremin/guitar/noise freakout cover of the Melvins’ classic “Cow.” Catch them on a coast-to-coast US tour in October!

Tracklisting:
1. Lord Pinto
2. Cow (the Melvins cover)

Fall Tour Dates:
9/30 – Dayton, OH @ Blind Bob’s **
10/1 – Canton, OH @ Buzzbin **
10/2 – Peoria, IL @ Redbarn **
10/3 – Chicago, IL @ The Burlington **
10/4 – Minneapolis, MN @ TBA **
10/5 – Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge **
10/6 – Denver, CO @ Streets of London **
10/7 – Colorado Springs, CO @ Triple Nickel Tavern **
10/8 – Albuquerque, NM @ Burt’s Tiki Lounge **
10/9 – Tucson, AZ @ TBA **
10/10 – Tempe, AZ @ Yucca Tap Room
10/11 – San Diego, CA @ The Tower Bar
10/12 – Los Angeles, CA @ Silverlake Lounge
10/14 – Reno, NV @ Shea’s Tavern
10/15 – San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern
10/17 – Portland, OR @ TBA
10/19 – Seattle, WA @ Victory Lounge
10/20 – Kalispell, MT @ TBA
10/21 – Great Falls, MT @ The Back Alley Pub
** = w/ Irata

Stefanie Zaenker – Drums, Vocals
Francis Beringer – Bass, Vocals
Andrew Yonki – Guitar

http://causticcasanova.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CausticCasanova
https://retrofuturist.bandcamp.com/
http://www.retrofuturistrecords.com/

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Caustic Casanova Announce Summer/Fall Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Don’t get me wrong, I believe it because it’s Caustic Casanova and they did something similar toward the end of last year, but nonetheless, this is ridiculous. Look at this tour! It’s like the Washington D.C. trio — who released their second album, the J. Robbins-produced Breaks (review here), last year via Retro Futurist — sat around and were like, “Yeah, it’s July. Let’s just tour until October.” Absolutely insane.

This band must really love each other:

caustic casanova tour poster

Here we go folks, Caustic Casanova’s big summer and fall tour announcement! We will be playing many shows and hopefully selling many vinyl editions of Breaks. More dates and details to be added as we solidify some loose ends and fill a few gaps.

We’ll see you here, there and everywhere in North America starting later this month.

July 21st – Washington, DC at The Pinch (vinyl release show!)
July 28th – Chicago, IL at The Beat Kitchen
July 29th – Fort Wayne, IN at Skeletunes
July 30th – Wyandotte, MI at The Rockery
July 31st – Peoria, IL at Red Barn
August 1st – St. Louis, MO at Foam
August 2nd – Indianapolis, IN at Melody Inn
August 3rd – Kent, OH at The Outpost
August 4th – Newport, KY at Southgate House Revival
August 5th – Dayton, OH at Blind Bob’s
August 6th – Pittsburgh, PA at The Smiling Moose
August 7th – Vienna, WV at Radioactive Bar and Grill
August 8th – Louisville, KY at Highlands Taproom
August 9th – Milwaukee, WI at Cactus Club
August 10th – Minneapolis, MN at The Reverie
August 12th – Spokane, WA at Checkerboard
August 13th – Seattle, WA at Blue Moon Tavern
August 14th – Vancouver, BC at TBA
August 16th – Olympia, WA at Le Voyeur Cafe
August 17th – Portland, OR at Twilight
August 19th – San Diego, CA at The Merrow
August 20th – Glendale, CA at Complex
August 21st – Los Osos, CA at Sweet Springs Saloon
August 22nd – Anaheim, CA at The Doll Hut
August 23rd – Pacifica, CA at Winter’s Tavern
August 24th – Hayward, CA at The Bistro
August 25th – San Francisco, CA at Hemlock Tavern
August 26th – Sacramento, CA at Starlite Lounge
August 27th – Reno, NV at Shea’s Tavern
August 31st – Tempe, AZ at Yucca Tap Room
September 1st – Tucson, AZ at The Loudhouse
September 2nd – Bisbee, AZ at The Quarry
September 4th – Provo, UT at TBA
September 6th – Grand Junction, CO at TBA
September 7th – Colorado Springs, CO at The Triple Nickel
September 8th – Denver, CO at The Lion’s Lair
September 9th – Wichita, KS at Elbow Room
September 10th – Denton, TX at TBA
September 11th – Austin, TX at The Sidewinder
September 12th – Houston, TX at The Clinic
September 14th – Tallahassee, FL at TBA
September 15th – Orlando, FL at Will’s Pub
September 16th – Ft. Lauderdale, FL at Kreepy Tiki
September 17th – Tampa, FL at New World Brewery
September 18th – Gainesville, FL at The Nest
September 19th – Charleston, SC at TBA
September 20th – Chapel Hill, NC at The Cave
September 21st – Asheville, NC at The Odditorium
September 22nd – Greensboro, NC at New York Pizza
September 27th – Baltimore, MD at TBA
September 28th – Brooklyn, NY at Sunnyvale
September 29th – Philadelphia, PA at The Fire
September 30th – Boston, MA at O’Brien’s
October 1st – Providence, RI at Dusk
October 2nd – Burlington, VT at Finnigan’s Pub
October 5th – Rochester, NY at The Bug Jar

Stefanie Zaenker – Drums, Vocals
Francis Beringer – Bass, Vocals
Andrew Yonki – Guitar

http://causticcasanova.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CausticCasanova
https://retrofuturist.bandcamp.com/
http://www.retrofuturistrecords.com/

Caustic Casanova, Breaks (2015)

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Caustic Casanova US Tour Starts this Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 6th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

caustic casanova

Yeah, I had another post all set to go up today instead of this one, but the truth is that when a band decides they’re gonna go coast-to-coast in this mediocre, troubling-discourse-filled land of ours, that’s no minor decision, so it’s Caustic Casanova, who head out starting this weekend on a full-US run in support of their newly-released Breaks (review here) full-length on Retro Futurist Records. It’s an admirable string of dates that will take them through the rest of this month and into November, and the three-piece also have a couple shows booked on the Eastern Seaboard later this fall that you can find in the list below.

Because it’s nice to keep things organized. Details of their tumultuous history — it wasn’t all drinking wine and cooking meat in a kitchen with nice countertops for Caustic Casanova — and the tour dates follow, hoisted off that ol’ PR wire:

caustic casanova tour

Caustic Casanova tour announcement

Caustic Casanova is a loud, heavy rock trio from Washington, DC. The CC, as they are affectionately known by their fans, has been tearing up stages and studios alike since their inception on the campus of The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2005. In 2008 CC released their first ever full-length studio album, a fourteen song, seventy-two minute tour-de-force entitled Imminent Eminence. Four years later, Caustic Casanova unleashed 2012’s critically acclaimed Someday You Will Be Proven Correct, produced by J. Robbins.

After the release of Someday You Will Be Proven Correct and a 2012 SXSW tour came the departure the group’s original guitarist, and a most critical juncture for the rhythm section of the band – whether to continue as Caustic Casanova, start another project, or part ways altogether. After much deliberation, drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zaenker and bassist/lead vocalist Francis Beringer decided to honor the work they’d done over the years together by continuing Caustic Casanova. Months of experimenting as a bass and drums two piece were followed by rounds of guitar player auditions, finally yielding the missing element to the new Caustic Casanova, longtime fan, friend and all-around six string wizard Andrew Yonki. In Andrew’s two and a half years with the band, the rejuvenated Caustic Casanova has gigged wherever and whenever possible, embarked on two lengthy national tours and several shorter ones, and has earned a much bigger following in DC. In 2014 Caustic Casanova signed to Retro Futurist Records after opening for psych metal veterans and label owners Kylesa, and later teamed up with J. Robbins to record lots of new music and release the first in a series of 7″ singles called Pantheon: Volume 1. Despite losing Stefanie for nearly half the year to severe wrist injuries from a life threatening accident (once again putting the very existence of the band in jeopardy) Caustic Casanova returned stronger, tighter and more motivated than ever to build sonic temples in which to worship feedback, massive riffs, delay pedals, bass fuzz, thunderous drum fills and soaring vocal melody.

The end product of these years of writing and recording through trial and tribulation is Caustic Casanova’s new album and Retro Futurist debut Breaks, once again produced by J. Robbins. Breaks features seven unconventional and melodic heavy rock songs, none quite like the other, and covers a vast sonic territory from dark, driving post-punk to psychedelic post-metal, from heavy doom blues to epic space rock and everything in between. Breaks will be released on September 25, 2015. Look for Caustic Casanova on tour in the US during August, October and November.

Oct. 10 – Pawtucket, RI at News Cafe
Oct. 11 – Burlington, VT at Finnigan’s Pub
Oct. 12 – Portland, ME at Flask Lounge
Oct. 14 – Akron, OH at Annabell’s
Oct. 15 – Cleveland, OH at Pat’s In The Flats
Oct. 16 – Waterloo, ON at Chainsaw
Oct. 17 – Columbus, OH at The Tree Bar
Oct. 18 – Indianapolis, IN at 5th Quarter Lounge
Oct. 19 – Milwaukee, WI at Frank’s Power Plant
Oct. 20 – Chicago, IL at Reggie’s
Oct. 21 – Lawrence, KS at Replay Lounge
Oct. 22 – Littleton, CO at Toad’s Tavern
Oct. 24 – Eugene, OR at Black Forest
Oct. 25 – Seattle, WA at Victory Lounge
Oct. 26 – Portland, OR at Twilight
Oct. 27 – Vancouver, BC at TBA
Oct. 28 – Spokane, WA at The Pin
Oct. 31 – Los Osos, CA at Sweet Springs Saloon
Nov. 1 – Santa Cruz, CA at Streetlight Records
Nov. 2 – San Francisco, CA at Elbo Room
Nov. 3 – Glendale, CA at Complex
Nov. 4 – Tempe, AZ at 51 West
Nov. 5 – Tucson, AZ at Club Congress
Nov. 6 – Albuquerque, NM at Duke City Sound
Nov. 7 – El Paso, TX at Bourbon N Brews
Nov. 9 – Denton, TX at J and J’s Pizza
Nov. 10 – Austin, TX at Beerland
Nov. 11 – Houston, TX at Super Happy Fun Land
Nov. 13 – Miami, FL at The Cave
Nov. 14 – Tallahassee, FL at TBA
Nov. 15 – Tampa, FL at New World Brewery
Nov. 16 – Gainesville, FL at 8 Bit Bar
Nov. 17 – Jacksonville, FL at Jack Rabbit’s
Nov. 18 – Athens, GA at Caledonia Lounge
Nov. 21 – Charleston, SC at House Show
Nov. 29 – Boston, MA at O’Brien’s
Dec. 5 – Brooklyn, NY at The Acheron
Dec. 11 – Savannah, GA at The Jinx
Dec. 12 – Greenville, SC at Radio Room

http://causticcasanova.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CausticCasanova
https://retrofuturist.bandcamp.com/
http://www.retrofuturistrecords.com/

Caustic Casanova, Breaks (2015)

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Quarterly Review: My Dying Bride, Glowsun, Caustic Casanova, Dead Sea Apes, Bantoriak, Ahab, Zark, Pyramidal & Domo, Mammoth Salmon, Molior Superum

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-quarterly-review-fall-2015

One thing I’ve noticed over the now-several times I’ve done this is that people have a tendency to apply some value to the ordering. It’s true that I try to lead off with a bigger release sometimes (as with today), but beyond that, there’s really no statement being made in how the albums appear. It usually has way more to do with time, when something came in and when it was added to the list, than with the quality or profile of a given outing. Just that final note that probably should’ve been said on Monday. Whoops.

Before we wrap up, I just wanted to say thank you again for checking any of it out if you did this week. It’s not a minor undertaking to do these, but it’s been completely worth it and I very much appreciate your being a part of it. Thank you. As always.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #41-50:

My Dying Bride, Feel the Misery

my dying bride feel the misery

Led by founding guitarist Andrew Craighan and vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe, UK doom magnates My Dying Bride mark their 25th year with Feel the Misery, their 13th full-length and one that finds them right in their element practicing the melancholic death-doom style they helped forge on pivotal early works like As the Flower Withers (1992) and Turn Loose the Swans (1993). “And My Father Left Forever” starts Feel the Misery on a particularly deathly note, but it’s not too long before the 10-minute “To Shiver in Empty Halls” and the subsequent “A Cold New Curse” are mired in the grueling, poetic, beauty-in-darkness emotionality that is My Dying Bride’s hallmark. The album’s title-track is a chugging bit of extremity, but the record’s strongest impact winds up being made by the penultimate “I Almost Loved You,” a piano, string and e-bow (sounding) ballad that pushes further than “A Thorn of Wisdom” by daring not to get heavy and rests well between the lumbering “I Celebrate Your Skin” and the 11-minute closer, “Within a Sleeping Forest,” which fits well, but more reinforces the point than offers something new on its own. A quarter-century later, they remain an institution. One wonders how they’ve managed to stay so depressed for so long.

My Dying Bride’s website

Peaceville Records store

Glowsun, Beyond the Wall of Time

glowsun-beyond-the-wall-of-time

If French mostly-instrumentalists Glowsun are feeling pressed for time these days – and with the theme of Beyond the Wall of Time (out via Napalm Records) that shows itself in the ticking clocks that launch opener “Arrow of Time” and the like-minded titles “Last Watchmaker’s Grave,” “Against the Clock” and “Endless Caravan” – the material itself doesn’t show it. Opening with two nine-minute cuts, Glowsun’s third outing and the follow-up to 2012’s Eternal Season (discussed here) unrolls itself patiently across its seven-track span, leading one to wonder if maybe Beyond the Wall of Time isn’t intended as another means of expressing something outside of it, the expanse of tones and grooves created by guitarist/vocalist Johan Jaccob (also graphic art), bassist Ronan Chiron and drummer Fabrice Cornille on “Shadow of Dreams” and the centerpiece “Flower of Mist” intended to last after some eternal now has passed. I wouldn’t want to guess, but it’s noteworthy that the trio’s output is evocative enough to lead toward such speculations.

Glowsun on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records store

Caustic Casanova, Breaks

caustic casanova breaks

As with their 2012 debut, Someday You Will be Proven Correct, Washington D.C.-based trio Caustic Casanova recorded their sophomore long-player, Breaks, with J. Robbins at The Magpie Cage in Baltimore. They’re also releasing the album through Kylesa’s Retro Futurist Records imprint, so they come nothing if not well-endorsed. With bassist Francis Beringer and drummer Stefanie Zaenker sharing vocal duties throughout – the trio is completed by Andrew Yonki on guitar – they run and bounce through a gamut of upbeat post-hardcore noise rock, thick in tone but not so much as to get up and move around, tempo-wise. Yonki brings some post-rock airiness to the early going of the nine-minute “Elect My Best Friend for a Better World,” but the album on the whole feels more about impact than atmosphere, and Caustic Casanova work up considerable momentum by the time they get around to paying off the 12-minute finale, “The Painted Desert.” Its melodies open up more on repeat listens, but not at the expense of the push so well enacted throughout.

Caustic Casanova on Thee Facebooks

Retro Futurist Records

Dead Sea Apes, Spectral Domain

dead sea apes spectral domain

An outwardly familiar conceptual framework – instrumental space/psychedelic rock – does little to convey how much of themselves Manchester, UK, trio Dead Sea Apes put into their new full-length, Spectral Domain. Released by Cardinal Fuzz in conjunction with Sunrise Ocean Bender, it’s the band’s sixth or seventh LP, depending on what counts as such, and bookends two north-of-10-minute explorations around three shorter pieces (though not much shorter in the case of the 9:50 “True Believers”) varied in color but uniformly galaxial in intent. “Brought to Light” rings out with a wash of drumless echo and swirl, seemingly in response to the tension of centerpiece “The Unclosing Eye,” and the whole album seems to take a theme from things seen and unseen, between “Universal Interrogator” and closer “Sixth Side of the Pentagon,” a vibe persisting in some conspiracy theory exposed as blissful and immersive truth with something darker lurking just underneath. Thick but not pretentious, Spectral Domain seems to run as deep as the listener wants to go.

Dead Sea Apes on Thee Facebooks

Sunrise Ocean Bender

Cardinal Fuzz Records

Bantoriak, Weedooism

bantoriak weedooism

A ritualistic spirit arrives early on Italian heavy psych rockers Bantoriak’s debut LP, Weedooism, and does not depart for the duration of the Argonauta Records release’s six tracks, which prove spacious, psychedelic and heavy in kind, playing out with alternating flourishes of melody and noise. “Try to Sleep” seems to be talking more about the band than the act, but from “Entering the Temple” through the rumbling closer “Chant of the Stone,” Bantoriak leave an individualized stamp on their heavy vibes, and that song is no exception. If Weedooism is the dogma they’re championing on the smooth-rolling “Smoke the Magma,” they’re doing so convincingly and immersively, and while they seem to have undergone a lineup shift (?) at some point since the record was done, hopefully that means Weedooism will have a follow-up to its liquefied grooves and weedian heft before too long. In an increasingly crowded Italian heavy psych/stoner scene, Bantoriak stand out already with their first album.

Bantoriak on Bandcamp

Bantoriak at Argonauta Records

Ahab, The Boats of the Glen Carrig

ahab-the-boats-of-the-glen-carrig

Though somewhat counterintuitive for a band playing their style of doom to start with, Ahab have only been met with a rising profile over their decade-plus together, and their fourth album for Napalm Records, The Boats of the Glen Carrig, answers three years of anticipation with an expanded sonic palette over its five tracks that is afraid neither of melodic sweetness nor the seafaring tonal heft and creature-from-the-deep growling that has become their hallmark. Their extremity is intact, in other words, but they’re also clearly growing as a band. I don’t know if The Boats of the Glen Carrig is quite as colorful musically as its Sebastian Jerke cover art – inevitably one of the best covers I’ve seen this year – but whether it’s the 15-minute sprawl of “The Weedmen,” which at its crescendo sounds like peak-era Mastodon at quarter-speed or the (relatively) speedy centerpiece “Red Foam (The Great Storm),” Ahab are as expansive in atmosphere as they are relentlessly heavy, and they’re certainly plenty of that.

Ahab on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records

Zark, Tales of the Expected

zark tales of the unexpected

One would hardly know it from the discouraging title, but all-caps UK progressive metallers ZARK do manage to catch one off-guard on their debut full-length, Tales of the Expected. Duly melodic and duly complex, the eight tracks rely on straightforward components to set deceptively lush vibes, the guitar work of Sean “Bindy” Phillips and Josh Tedd leading the way through tight rhythmic turns alongside bassist Andy “Bready” Kelley and drummer Simon Spiers’ crisp grooves. Vocalist Stuart Lister carries across the aggression of “LV-426” and hopefulness of “The Robber” with equal class, and while ZARK’s first outing carries a pretty ambitious spirit, the Evesham five-piece reach the high marks they set for themselves, and in so doing set new goals for their next outing, reportedly already in progress. A strong debut from a band who sound like they’re only going to get more assured as they move forward. More “pleasant surprise” than “expected.”

Zark on Thee Facebooks

Zark on Bandcamp

Pyramidal & Domo, Jams from the Sun Split

pyramidal and domo jams from the sun

Paired up by style almost as much as by geography, Alicante, Spain, acts Pyramidal and Domo picked the right title for their Jams from the Sun split – a bright, go-ahead-and-get-hypnotized psychedelic space vibe taking hold early on the Lay Bare Recordings release and not letting go as one side gives way to the other or as the noisy post-Hawkwindery of “Uróboros” closes out. Pyramidal, who made their debut in 2012 (review here), offer “Motormind” and “Hypnotic Psychotic,” two 10-minute mostly-instrumental jams that progress with liquid flow toward and through apexes in constant search for the farther-out that presumably they find at the end and that’s why they bother stopping at all, and Domo, who made their debut in 2011 (review here), counter with three cuts of their own, “Viajero del Cosmos,” “Mantra Astral” and the aforementioned “Uróboros,” switching up the mood a little between them but not so much as to interrupt the trance overarching the release as whole. I remain a sucker for a quality space jam, and Jams from the Sun has 45 minutes’ worth.

Pyramidal on Thee Facebooks

Domo on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings

Mammoth Salmon, Last Vestige of Humanity

mammoth salmon last vestige of humanity

After releasing a couple internet EPs (review here) and 2013’s Call of the Mammoth EP as the duo of guitarist/vocalist/bassist Paul Dudziak and drummer Mitch Meidinger, Portland, Oregon’s Mammoth Salmon enlist bassist Alex Bateman and drummer Steve Lyons for their first full-length, the Adam Pike-produced Last Vestige of Humanity, which rolls out plus-sized Melvinsery across six amp-blowing tracks of sludgy riffing and nodding, lumbering weight. The title-track, which ends what would and probably will at some point be side A of the vinyl version, picks up the tempo in its second half, and “Memoriam” teases the same in Lyons’ drums at the start, but of course goes on to unfold the slowest progression here ahead of “Shattered Existence”’s toying with playing barely-there minimalism off full-on crush and the 10-minute “Believe Nothing” rounding out with appropriately elephantine march. Sustainable in their approach and viciously heavy, Mammoth Salmon seem to have hit reset and given themselves a new start with this lineup, and it works to their advantage on this promising debut.

Mammoth Salmon on Thee Facebooks

Mammoth Salmon on Bandcamp

Molior Superum, Electric Escapism

molior superum electric escapism

“Karma is a bitch that will definitely hunt you down for what you have done,” would seem to be the standout message of “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife,” the third and longest (at 6:34) of the four inclusions on Molior Superum’s new EP, Electric Escapism. The non-retro Swedish heavy rockers fire up righteous heft to put them in league with countrymen Skånska Mord, but ultimately have more in common with Stubb out of the UK in the loose-sounding swing of “Försummad,” despite the different language. I had the same opinion about their full-length debut, Into the Sun (review here), and last year’s The Inconclusive Portrait 7” (review here) as well. Can’t seem to shake it, but Molior Superum’s ability to switch it up linguistics – they open and close in Swedish, with the two middle cuts in English – is an immediately distinguishing factor, and whichever they choose for a given song, they kill it here.

Molior Superum on Thee Facebooks

Molior Superum on Bandcamp

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