It was a really, really busy weekend. I’m glad to say I did actually get to stand still for a bit and watch each of the 19 acts performing at Days of the Doomed III at The Blue Pig in Cudahy, Wisconsin, but I was just as likely to be parking myself somewhere to pop open the laptop or back and forth in front of the stage taking pics.
At one point, one of the dudes working at the venue said to me while I had the computer open, “You’re supposed to be enjoying yourself, not working.”
And it occurred to me that this is how I enjoy myself.
A 20-minute break between each band didn’t leave much wriggle room to go searching for the perfect shot of each band and still give the actual set the clacky-clacky it deserved. As such, I wound up with a lot of photos, and since I wouldn’t have time to include them in the actual live-blog posts (day one and day two), it only seems fair to give them their own post.
Below — with setlists when I could get them — you’ll find pictures of Iron Man, Penance, Venomous Maximus, Kings Destroy, Lucertola, Moon Curse and Gravedirt from day one, and The Gates of Slumber, In~Graved, Dream Death, Pale Divine, Earthen Grave, Leather Nun America, King Giant, Spillage, Chowder, Beelzefuzz, Gorgantherron and Whaler from day two.
Posted in Features on June 22nd, 2013 by JJ Koczan
06.22.13 — The Blue Pig — Cudahy, WI
11:41AM: Quiet start this morning at The Blue Pig for day two of Days of the Doomed III, but no doubt things will pick up shortly. Today is 12 bands in more than 13 hours, so it’s going to be a long one, a busy one and I expect by the end of it, a tired one, but that’s a long ways off, and after a hotel breakfast and a couple minutes respite before heading down to the venue, I’m feeling good and doing my best to ignore the prospect of the drive tomorrow morning. Much to do before I get there.
In about 20 minutes, Whaler from Michigan kick off the day, followed by Gorgantherron, Beelzefuzz, Spillage, King Giant, Leather Nun America, Earthen Grave, Pale Divine, Dream Death, In~Graved and The Gates of Slumber. It’s a powerful lineup, but they must have powerwashed the venue after last night, brought in a firehose or something, because it smells much better this morning than it did by the end of yesterday’s bands.
Last night was pretty riotous by the end of Penance and Iron Man, so I figure there’s a lot of attendees getting off to a slow start this morning, but if the kickoff is as righteous as yesterday’s — and I hear excellent things about Whaler — I’ll be glad I got here early.
Before I start, and since I don’t know if I’ll have the energy to point it out later, I just want to say a quick thanks to Mercyful Mike Smith for putting on Days of the Doomed III, and for the tremendous work he’s done assembling this lineup and getting the right crew in hand to make it run so smoothly.
Alright, here goes:
12:37PM: Apparently, Michigan trio Whaler had something of a late night. They were not alone, but they nonetheless delivered a respectable set of roughed-up/burled-up Kyuss-style heavy rock and showcased a dynamic of their own within the semi-familiar riffing. Guitarist/vocalist Adam Lupo and bassist Eric Lomba had rich tones and drummer Adam Weiler, despite chasing his cowbell across his kit as it moved away from him, was adaptable either to the desert grooves of the material they played earlier or the thicker, Sleep-y vibes of their closing instrumental. Their debut LP, Deep Six, was self-released last December and I’ll see if they have any available. It probably wasn’t an ideal time to see them — noon after a hell of a Friday night — but they opened day two with smooth, rolling grooves and an engagingly bullshit-free atmosphere.
1:28PM: Imported from Indiana, the trio Gorgantherron clearly got more comfortable as their set went on and seemed more at home in their faster parts, rather than some of the more languid sections. All three members — Chris Flint (drums), Clint Logan (guitar), and Toby Richardson (bass) — contributed vocals, and that gave cuts like “Mothra” and the particularly memorable “Assimilate” a touch of flavor, which went down well with the crowd, still rolling in and wiping the crust from its collective eyes. Keeping holy the Sabbath, Gorgantherron hit on a few satisfying shuffles in their solo parts, Logan taking the fore with a smile to rip out blues leads while Richardson and Flint held down the solid grooves beneath. They weren’t trying for anything fancy, but there was some potential there, and they sat naturally between doom and heavy rock as only a band who doesn’t think there should be a line between them can.
2:40PM: I don’t know what Beelzefuzz are ready for, but whatever it is, they’re ready for it. The Maryland bizarro doom trio had Days of the Doomed III more or less eating out of their hands 10 minutes before they went on, and it was readily apparent that they were the show-up point for a lot of people this afternoon. The band’s way of rewarding such loyalty? Well, they brought up Eric Wagner to cover “Ride the Sky” by Lucifer’s Friend, and that was pretty awesome, Wagner and guitarist/vocalist Dana Ortt trading off parts and laughing all the while. Beelzefuzz have a new record coming Aug. 9 on The Church Within, and I’ve yet to see them and not be impressed. I realized watching them that it had only been a couple months since I caught them in Delaware at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 2, but nothing here felt redundant or stale. Bassist Pug Kirby and drummer DarinMcCloskey were dead on with slow, creeping grooves that gave Ortt plenty of space to weird out with vocal effects, organ-sounding guitar and all the rest. If their record captures even a fraction of what these guys have turned into in a live setting, it might just be the summer’s don’t miss for doom.
3:45PM: When I streamed a couple tracks from Chowder‘s Passion Riftfull-length last summer, I wondered how they’d be able to bring so many textures to a live setting. Now I know: They do it with their feet, and they do it very carefully. Maryland doom nobility Josh Hart (guitar; also bassist for Earthride) and John Brenner (bass; also guitarist/vocalist for Revelation) both had an array of foot-pedals at their disposal and they made liberal use of them to add to the instrumental progressive runs of their material. Early on, Hart blew out the Sunn head he was playing through — always a bummer, especially for someone who’s come a long way — but Al Morris from Iron Man‘s amp was brought in as a replacement, Chowder recovered and the three-piece rounded out by drummer Ronnie Kalimon (Unorthodox) had the room packed out by the time they were done. I don’t know if maybe they were playing doomier songs for the fest or if the tones were just different live, but they seemed thicker tonally than I recalled from the album and I didn’t hear any whining about it. Cool set, and where they seemed on paper like an odd fit, they made sense for the bill after all.
4:42PM: Going by their name and how they worked on stage, Chicago-based Spillage would seem to be the brainchild of guitarist Tony Spillman, who’s pulling double-duty later in a set with Earthen Grave. Days of the Doomed III was their first show, and while it was the “featuring Bruce Franklin of Trouble” portion of the lineup that first drew my attention, the whole band was stellar. Really. And not just for a first show, either. They were tight, the songs were spot on, they covered “Devil Woman” by Cliff Richard, and had a great energy throughout their whole time on stage. They looked genuinely thrilled to be here, thanked the crowd, thanked Mercyful Mike Smith several times, and even though Spillman had a little technical difficulty, there was never any real loss of momentum as they settled into a killer set that ranks up there with Moon Curse yesterday as one of the weekend’s most pleasant surprises. With two guitars, keys, bass, drums and standalone vocals, they were crowded on the Blue Pig stage, but that only added to how together they were sonically. I haven’t the faintest idea what their plans as a band might be, when they’ll put material to tape, etc. — they have shirts for sale but no music — but as righteous and enjoyable as their set was, I’ll be keeping an eye out and hoping they can bring the same vitality to a studio recording. An awesome debut.
5:58PM: There hasn’t been much Southern metal thus far into the fest, but if there was a quota, King Giant just met it. I was pretty familiar with their stuff after streaming their Dismal HollowLP last year, and they were basically what I expected, just tighter and louder. In the case of vocalist Dave Hammerly, much louder. Of the two mics he had on stage, one cut through the Virginian five-piece’s thick riffing enough to border on abrasive, but they grooved out darkly nonetheless, here touching on Down, there nodding out a Clutch riff. It was burly stuff, and I think a lot of people unfamiliar with what they do decided it was a good time to grab a bite to eat — they love their own here, as everywhere — ahead of some of the evening’s headliners, but King Giant were professional and energetic, many-hatted (four out of five) and they made the most out of the time they had, playing to a tight group of their fans who seemed appreciative enough to make up for everyone else.
Leather Nun America
6:50PM: I’ll give it to Cali trio Leather Nun America (also stylized with a lowercase ‘a’ to start the last word), they know what they like. Tonally, guitarist/vocalist John Sarnie was straight-up Wino, and the band covered “To Protect and Serve” from The Obsessed‘s The Church Withinto drive the point home. Bassist/backing vocalist Francis Roberts, his eyes rolled back, was a more unhinged presence than Sarnie, but it made the dynamic on stage more complex and, frankly, more satisfying. I was starting to drag ass a bit and so ordered a pizza (hasn’t arrived yet, but I’ll get to eat at some point) and had another bottle of water, but some of the people who were in and out during King Giant settled in for Leather Nun America and the band, despite being the only West Coast act on the bill, seemed right at home amongst the doomed.
8:22PM: I’ve seen Earthen Grave a few times now — here last year, at SHoD — and to my ears they’ve never sounded so good. Of course, nailing a cover of Rainbow‘s “Stargazer” with not one but two violins (Rachel Barton Pine and her younger sister dueling it out) helps, and bringing Victor Griffin up to take on Pentagram‘s “Relentless” (who better?) for a set closer helps as well, but even so, from the opener “Death is another Word” — the bonus track on the Ripple Music reissue of their self-titled debut — to the plodding aggression of “Dismal,” the Chicago outfit seemed to hit it just right this time around. Maybe they’ve coalesced more as a unit, or maybe I’m on some post-pizza energy boost — pizza gives you energy, right? — but they killed it, and placed where they were in the lineup, they more or less started off the evening’s headliners, with Pale Divine, Dream Death, In~Graved and The Gates of Slumber still to come. Things are about to get heavy and miserable, but I’m up for it, and judging by the howls of the crowd who just moved from in front of the stage being changed over to the tvs in the back which have the Blackhawks game on, the crowd is up for it, so what the hell? Let’s make an evening of it.
9:39PM: With three new songs in tow, Pennsylvania/Maryland trio Pale Divine — drummer Darin McCloskey doubling up on the day after performing earlier with Beelzefuzz — sounded positively refreshed. Guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener and bassist/backing vocalist Ron McGinnis (aka Fez, also of Admiral Browning) have gelled tonally to the point where you’d swear the latter had always been in the band, and likewise, McGinnis brings a different personality with him that adds to the chemistry. I took it as a sign that they’ve already started to write a follow-up to last year’s Painted Windows Black — which, not to take away from it, was accomplished but hardly what I’d call refreshed — and for as gloomy and plodding as the material is, spirits seemed high straight through when they handed a mic into the crowd where it was picked up by Sanctus Bellum‘s Benjamin Yaker and shared with Butch Balich and Mercyful Mike Smith for a finale take on “Amplified” from Pale Divine‘s 2001 debut full-length, Thunder Perfect Mind. The Blue Pig is packed out (still watching hockey), and the mood is good, so with three bands left to go, the night is on a roll.
10:54PM: I’ve had my earplugs in for too long, can feel my right ear beginning an infection. Probably better that than dare to take on Dream Death unarmored. I knew when I missed them in April at Roadburn that I’d have seeing them at Days of the Doomed III to look forward to, and honestly, I’ve looked forward to it ever since. The Pittsburgh four-piece — all of whom played at one point or another during Penance‘s set last night — are something of a legendary act, and here, it felt like it. Fists pumped to “Divine Agony” and a slew of cuts from the band’s 2013 new album, Somnium Excessum, including “Feast” and “You’re Gonna Die up There.” The biggest response was saved, fittingly, for closer “Back from the Dead,” and if ever you wanted to see who in the crowd knew a song and who didn’t, you need look no further than who followed the on-a-dime time changes in “Back from the Dead,” raging Celtic Frost fast and dark, viciously primitive but still holding a potent tension after all these years. They were welcomed as liberators, and it’s hard to imagine it wasn’t gratifying for the band. When they were done, Mike Smith took the stage (he’s been introducing each act) and called the raffle. I didn’t win, despite my sure-bet tickets. Always next year. The good news is Dream Death were excellent and I got to pick up a copy of Somnium Excessum, which I’m looking forward to adding to my already considerable ride-home playlist for tomorrow. Right on.
12:24AM: Well, Victor Griffin wins tone again. He can take home his trophy from Days of the Doomed III and put it next to the similarly-shaped awards for tone he’s picked up at probably every show he’s played in the last 25 years. Much of the In-Graved set was familiar from Roadburn, but “Digital Critic” still made an effective opener and “Late for an Early Grave” seemed especially rousing. The lights went out for a minute, but were quickly restored, not that it stopped the band in the slightest. Bassist Dan Lively stepped in to fill the role Guy Pinhas had held for the European tour, and he, drummer “Minnesota” Pete Campbell and keyboardist Jeff “Oly” Olson meshed well, and the band had clearly gotten more cohesive over the course of their time in Europe, which ended a month ago now if I’ve got the dates right. Still. Ron Holzner came out for a song and Campbell broke all his drumsticks, so it was a loose vibe but a tight band, which is just as it should be. In~Graved rounded out with the Animals cover “Don’t Let Me be Misunderstood” into Place of Skulls‘ “Last Hit,” which if nothing else was a stirring reminder to me of just how good 2003’s With Visionwas. I could go on a whole rant about it, but wow, it’s been a hell of a day. This is the proverbial home stretch though — or whatever the hockey equivalent is, in honor of the Blackhawks, who apparently won — and with The Gates of Slumber still to come, I know this is still the place to be. Feet sore, head sore, brain tired, but not done yet.
The Gates of Slumber
2:12AM: Just for kicks — also in the name of Science Bloody Science! — during The Gates of Slumber‘s set, I walked outside the venue and down the street to see how many houses I’d pass before I couldn’t hear the band anymore. I got six properties away from The Blue Pig, and I could still hear them, but it seemed reasonable to assume that the people inside the house couldn’t feel the vibrations of Jason McCash‘s bass, and that would have to do. I’d have kept going, maybe, but I wanted to see the band. It’s been a minute and I was hoping for some new material. They played “Death March” from their Scion-sponsored StormcrowEP, which I also picked up off the merch table, and that sounded pretty vicious. The place was winding down on the quick, people giving drunkhugs and saying their “see you next year”s, but I wasn’t gonna split until they were done. Not that I didn’t think about cutting out and going back to the Best Western, but putting it to the scale of having been there for over 13 hours, another couple minutes to watch “The Scovrge ov Drvnkenness” or “Day of Farewell” — which is one of those songs I’m reminded of how much I dig every time I hear it — or the closer “Coven of Cain” didn’t seem unreasonable. It had been a long day, but The Gates of Slumber — McCash, guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon and drummer “Iron” Bob Fouts — were the downtrodden nail in Days of the Doomed III‘s coffin, and the fest would’ve been hard pressed to find someone more appropriate to close out after In-Graved and the many others preceding. By the time the house lights came up, it was clear the night was over.
2:32AM: Back at the hotel now, listening to someone stomp the living shit out of the floor one level up, also known as the ceiling of this room. All the same, this chair seems absurdly comfortable. One more time, I just want to thank Mercyful Mike Smith for the effort and execution behind this fest. The whole crew at The Blue Pig ran this thing smoothly from front to back, kept the mood positive and kept the drinks flowing. Also special thanks to Postman Dan for generally being awesome and for specifically dealing with me running back and forth and taking out the laptop like a dork. It’s much appreciated.
There are a lot of others. A lot. I’d start to list them, but it’s getting on 3AM and I have the alarm set for just about four hours to get up and start the at-least-15-hour drive back to New Jersey. Gotta be to work on Monday. So I’m gonna get to bed and then get coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
The lineup is set for the two-day Days of the Doomed III fest out at The Blue Pig in Cudahy, Wisconsin, and it’s looking to be fairly monstrous again in 2013. June is a ways off, so obviously anything can change at any time, but hell, pretty much pick any five of the bands on this list, put them on a bill together, and it’s a show worth making a trip to see. Dream Death and Orodruin within the span of 24 hours of each other? Penance leading into Iron Man? Well, I guess you’re just gonna have to sign me up for that one.
A new trailer, put together by Kathy Reeves, has surfaced for the fest that gives a glimpse at the lineup and sets the tunes to, what else?, old public domain car crash footage. Awesome. Enjoy and here’s looking forward:
Maryland trio Chowder are one band whose pedigree and lineage give you absolutely no context for what they sound like. Some bands, you know what you’re getting just by who they hang out with, but when you consider that guitarist Josh Hart cut his teeth playing in early incarnations of Revelation and Unorthodox — both names of formidable contribution to Maryland’s doom scene — and that he’s currently a member of Earthride, well, that kind of sets you up to think doom, or at very least some derivation thereof. On their long-in-arriving debut full-length, Passion Rift, Chowder defy almost every expectation you could put on them while still also using guitars.
The album, released by I, Voidhanger Records, is entirely instrumental and blindingly varied musically, bouncing hardcore rhythms off wild off-time changes and the kind of progressive technicalities that only true fans of Rush seem to be able to make gospel. There are elements of heavy riffing to be found here and there, but not enough to really ally the band to one genre or another. They never rest that long, and even ambient pieces like “Mazuku” or the opening “Mysterioid” have more to them than they might at first seem to, with Hart adding layers of synth, mellotron and even theremin to the mix of effects and drones.
Comprised of Hart alongside bassist Doug Williams (also cello) and drummer Chad Rush, Chowder began in 1992. It wasn’t until 2006 that the band released a demo through Revelation guitarist/vocalist John Brenner‘s Bland Hand Records, and Passion Rift has been another six years coming beyond that, so when it came time for listening to the album (streaming a couple tracks here), I had plenty of questions about how it was made, when and what were the band’s motivations.
As you can see in the following Six Dumb Questions, Hart had plenty of answers. Please enjoy:
1. Take me through the history of the band. It seems like Chowder was always in the background while other projects were the main focus. How has working with Chad changed over the years? Did you always know you wanted to keep the band instrumental?
Chad and I started writing music together while I was still in Revelation, back in 1992 I guess. A mutual friend thought we might be on the same page and it clicked pretty early. We wrote a few songs around that time but just sort of always considered it a sort of side-project as I was busy playing bass with Revelation and then Unorthodox soon after. In 1994 we managed to get into a studio and record four of the tunes we’d been screwing around with over those couple of years under the name Spectre that I clipped from my favorite Revelation song. Our friend Rich Newberger sang on three of those songs and his brother Steve played bass. It was pretty exciting to hear that stuff recorded because it was so weird for the time period. I don’t think many people we played it for really knew what to make of it then. That lineup kind of fizzled out and Chad and I continued to write a ton of music after I split with Unorthodox. It was one of those periods when you’re just spilling over with ideas, like every time I picked up my guitar I was writing a keeper riff or something. Sadly, we could never flesh out a lineup to play live and just kind of floundered over the years.
Back then I thought we wanted a singer as well and that was really tough because I was super-picky and there weren’t many people around that really fit what I expected. So we just hammered away as a three piece, Chad, myself and Joe Ruthvin on bass who left to form Earthride with [Dave] Sherman and EricLittle. It was always easy to write with Chad though, we both had a somewhat eclectic tastes so nothing was ever really a contention idea-wise. I’d bring something to the table and we’d both get really excited about it and try out best to form it into something unique. I remember laughing our asses off at some weird riff that just seemed so ridiculous but by the time we’d evolved it into a song it felt really, really cool and fresh. That was even before we started to implement synths and other post-rock effects. Chad‘s talent for irrational timing was really exceptional and allowed me to just go with whatever crazy thing came up. As far as being instrumental goes, like I said that wasn’t the plan but I was always into that kind of thing from the early math rock bands like Buzzard and King Sour to the obvious Rush and ‘70s prog tracks where the bands just busted loose for a song or two.
I think the thing that made me say, “Screw it, we don’t even need a singer,” was this Asylum tape I used to just play constantly that was a whole 45-minute side of songs without vocals. That was my favorite thing out of all the Maryland “doom” bands and it was funny because when I started playing with Unorthodox, Dale [Flood] and I used to joke about him not singing anymore and just going that route. By 2006, when John Brenner and I were booking the Doom or be Doomed fest in Baltimore and the idea of Chowder playing was on the table, I was comfortable with the idea of just playing the music and started to write with more self-indulgence and less conventional structure. I felt the addition of all the synths and mellotrons could keep things interesting enough that some kind of vocal wouldn’t be missed. Ultimately, I really don’t have anything to say to these people listening that they haven’t heard 1,000 times before anyway. I know as I get older I get kind of burned out on hearing the screaming guy wailing at me about his inner tumoils and emotions or whatever book he/she just read.
2. When was the material on Passion Rift written? What’s the writing process like?
The album is all over the place. “Mazuku,” “Salt Creep,” “The Innsmouth Look” and “Head Full of Rats” all go back to the ‘90s. The rest of it was written for the album between 2007-2008. I think it’s a good mix and some of our best material. I purposely kept it off the 2007 EP we did with Bland Hand Records to save for a full-length if it ever happened. I’ll usually bring riffs or whole songs to the other guys and we build on it from there. Sometimes I’ll have specific ideas about what the drums or bass do, but mostly it’s very loose and we just sort of design the song together based on a rough outline I’ve come up with. Playing with guys who really know their chops is a huge comfort when coming up with ideas. We developed a kind of language over time to communicate ideas back and forth. Like, “Try one of those sizzle drop, slap runs” and Doug would know what I was referring to. Most of the descriptions aren’t really words though and are just sounds. DUN DUN DUN dee doo DUN dddeeeeiin!!
3. One thing the album seems to do is balance different styles. The songs have a lot from prog, more than a bit of hardcore and some doom in them. When you started putting together the demo in 2006, how clear of an idea did you have of what you wanted to do stylistically? When you’re writing when does something start to take shape as a Chowder song?
I know that no matter what I write that these guys can play it and they’re up for trying it out which is the beauty of this band in my eyes. There’s never been a conversation about what we should sound like or, “is this new song really us?” I know we’re not breaking any new ground here but the idea has always been to just write what sounds good, what feels right. The demo was actually recorded in 1997. John Brenner released it for download on his BlandHandRecords label around 2006. No, it’s never been clear. I’m so heavily influenced and have been by so many different kinds of music and bands that it’s nearly impossible to write within a style on purpose, if that makes any sense. Like if you were to tell me to write a straight doom metal song, I would have trouble. Same goes for anything else, punk, hardcore, rock. Everything seems to channel through some screwy filter and come out all twisted up. If I’m writing, it’s a Chowder song. If I start playing something on the guitar and it sounds like it could be a potential Earthride riff, for example, I usually have to change some element about it to make it fit. Music loses its power when it tries too hard to capture a certain vibe or sound. If you can easily stuff my band into a genre then I’m probably not living up to my full potential as a musician.
4. When in the recording process for PassionRift were the samples, keyboards, mellotrons, theremin added? How much of that stuff comes from experimenting in the studio and how much is thought out beforehand?
Most of those things were recorded after the basic guitar, bass and drum tracks. There are a few parts in the there that were recorded with me on synth with the bass and drums at the same time though. Any part like that was written and rehearsed long before we booked recording time. The track “Mysterioid” was written almost entirely in studio with only the main synth notes worked out before. It and “Mazuku” were both intended to be production pieces only so we had some room to mess around with them in there. Adding a bunch of different things, getting out of hand with it. Everything else is written. Anything you hear in the other songs was worked out ahead of time at home and at rehearsal. We were very lucky to meet Jim Rezek through our engineer MikePotter. Jim has the nicest vintage synthesizer and keyboard collection I’ve ever seen and was entirely open to the idea of us coming to his house and recording some tracks on his equipment.
5. What are some of the differences for you between playing guitar in Chowder and playing bass in Earthride? Are there things the two bands have in common, or is it a totally different experience?
Laziness. In Earthride, I’m able to lay back a good bit and stay in the pocket with Eric, which was something I missed while playing all this wacko, technical music for so long. I can just live out my Geezer Butler fantasy while relaxing up there and groove to the massive heaviness. With Chowder something is coming down the pipe at all times. A chord or key change, a solo, something to trigger on the pedals. It requires a shitload of concentration and I’m going to go so far as to say it isn’t much fun. When we’re playing that material live and we nail it, it’s very rewarding but I’m not so sure it’s worth the panic attack I’m about to have about every 30 seconds attempting it. I totally get why bands like Rush and Genesis simmered down on that shit over the years. It wasn’t just for the sake of selling records! And those guys are WAY better at that stuff than we’ll ever be. I gained a hell of a lot more respect for what bands like that accomplish in a live setting trying to be fancy like them. Ultimately, it’s two different experiences, both rewarding though. I have loved playing other people’s music because each one taught me something new that I’ve taken with me and implemented in writing my own songs or how to behave (or not). Joining Earthride was almost a no brainer anyway because I went to high school with those guys. We’ve been friends a long, long time. Hell, Eric and I were in our first band together with Kelly Carmichael from InternalVoid back in 1985. So it feels like home. Chowder feels like a draconian P.O.W. camp in Siberia…only less smiling.
6. What’s next for Chowder? Will you guys do shows, and would you be able to recreate all those layers of keys and effects in a live setting?
Well, things are a little weird these days for us. Chad moved to the West Coast a couple years ago and seems to be happy doing what he’s doing out there. I have however started rehearsing and writing some material with RonnieKalimon from Asylum/Unorthodox/InternalVoid and things are going nicely. Doug has expressed interest so I’m hoping he’ll be available to join us soon and we can start moving forward. I’m not sure what will actually come out of it. My desire would be to play some shows, maybe a fest or two and most importantly record something new. I’d pretty much given up on anything happening at all as it was a true struggle to get this record onto a label and released and then with Chad moving it was looking pretty grim. Anything at all is a bonus. Everything we’ve recorded is done so in a way that it can be reproduced live aside from the obvious production tracks. There are parts on “Passion Rift” and “Custody” where the guitar drops out and I take over on the keyboards which we were also doing live. Anything that plays concurrent with the guitar is done by Doug on the Taurus pedals or triggered by me on Roland PK-5 midi pedals from an E-MU Vintage Keys synth. It’s a nightmare, let me tell you. I look like a fat, dancing idiot up there trying to nail all that stuff at the right times. During our last few shows I would be thinking, “Never again, never again,” but somehow we always ended up there doing it again. Must be the loads of girls that come out to see us.
In listening to the long-in-the-making Passion Rift debut full-length from Frederick, Maryland, prog/doom instru-metallers Chowder (please note, that’s about as loose a genre designation as you can get), it was exceedingly hard to come up with one song that summarized the rest of the record. So, with the kind permission of guitarist Joshua Hart (also formerly of Unorthodox and Revelation and currently handling bass in Earthride), we’ll stream two.
We begin with “Insidious,” mostly because it appears first on the tracklist, but also because it’s shorter and starts with the sample of Fry from Futurama talking about his all-Rush mixtape. That Rush nod is apt, as Chowder soon embark on a surprisingly technical and intricate progressive instrumentalism. Thickened up with doom’s tonality, Passion Rift nonetheless makes no sacrifice of clarity, as bassist Doug Williams (also electric cello) and drummer Chad Rush join Hart, who also handles 12-string, mellotron, synth and theremin throughout the album.
“Custody” is longer and by its nature more spacious, but still not as far into ambience as Chowder go on tracks like “Mazuku” and “Mysterioid.” Beginning with a sample from what I’m pretty sure is the 1982 Conan: The Barbarian movie, the track gives some idea as to the band’s overall scope, setting prog complexity against hardcore rhythms and still coming across memorably in the process. As widely varied as Passion Rift is, it’s also remarkably cohesive, residing in a similar sphere as fellow Marylanders Admiral Browning, but perhaps even more given to its technical side.
Check out “Insidious” and “Custody” on the player below and please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Chowder‘s Passion Rift is the follow-up to 2007’s self-titled EP and is available now through I, Voidhanger Records. For more info on the band and to read John Brenner from Revelation/Against Nature‘s bio, check out the label’s artist page. Special thanks to Hart for letting me host these tracks.