Posted in Label Stuff on July 10th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
When it’s finally released — and it will be, mark my words — Clamfight‘s I vs. the Glacier will hit you so hard your pants are going to shit themselves. You’re not even going to shit your pants. They’re going to do it for you. That’s how heavy Clamfight are. One of my favorite reasons that Philadelphia is my favorite city, the two-guitar foursome checked in with an update on the progress for the completion of the album’s artwork. Though by the time it’s out, we’ll all no doubt long since have felt like we did indeed fight a glacier, rest assured this one’s going to be worth the wait.
Here’s the latest from frontdrummer Andy Martin and the cover art:
So it occurred to me that a little heads up to the general, riff-loving populace might be in order when at a show a few weeks back a buddy of mine said, “So when’s Chinese Democracy II coming out?” A little harsh, but more than a little warranted.
The former Clamfight 3 — now called I Versus the Glacier — is done. Way done in fact. It’s mixed and mastered and nearly ready for your greedy mitts. Currently we’re waiting on a final panel of art from the massively talented Josh Wright and then it’s on to JJ to decide when this puppy comes out.
What’s been behind the delay you ask? Life, really. We’re four guys with pretty demanding professional lives and are just as passionate at keeping roofs over our loved ones’ heads as we are rocking your tits off. Hell, one of us is launching a private audiology practice and I’m pecking this thing out while just minutes from hopping a plane to Iceland to spend my summer digging.
We’re busy guys but whenever JJ says I Versus the Glacier is coming out, we’ll be shelving as much of the work stuff as possible and looking to play this thing live for as many of you as we can possibly reach, while still holding onto those aforementioned roofs. Personally I can’t wait.
Once we have an actual release date to announce we’ll have an official track premiere, although a handful of you may have gotten your hands on that track from one of our recent shows. We’re proud of the finished product and honored to be working with JJ and The Maple Forum, and we can’t wait to get it out there to the loyal community. You’ll be hearing from us soon…
There you have it. In the meantime, if you haven’t gotten yours yet, there are a meager 60 copies of HeavyPink 7″ left, and they’re available through the Maple Forum BigCartel store. Thanks as always for your support of The Obelisk and its low-key, limited-type label arm.
They also have two other bands on the bill, but sue me, I’m biased. The Maple Forum veterans Kings Destroy will be celebrating the release of their album, …And the Rest Will Surely Perish on vinyl (the CD long since sold out), and they do so with future European tour partners Rosetta, with Clamfight — whose next record is now mixed, mastered and awaiting artwork, pressing and eventual Maple Forum release — and Floridian heavies Hollow Leg. It’s going to be quite a Wednesday, indeed.
If you’re in the area, obviously it’s got my vote for “places you should be” — free Genesee cans from 7-10PM adding to the already considerable element of danger — but even if not, I think you can appreciate the killer flyer they made featuring “sampled” Philippe Druillet art:
Posted in Label Stuff on July 15th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Clamfight know there’s nothing quite like a roadtrip, and that’s why — even as they prepare to hit the studio and put the finishing touches on their second album, Volume III (out this fall on The Maple Forum) — they’re headed down south with fellow mayhem-purveyors, Rukut, for a weekend of high-watermark bastardry. If you’ve yet to do so, be sure to see these charming rapscallions in the flesh.
Killer that I get news about Maple Forum bands on the PR wire now. Here’s the update that came in:
Philadelphia-area sludge thugs Clamfight are in the thick of recording their second full-length album, VolumeIII. After a long several days of laying down track after track of their groove-laden thunder at NewJersey‘s infamous GradwellHouseStudios, the band have completed all of the rhythm tracks for the upcoming album and will return in August to hammer out the leads and vocals for the record, which will see release via The Maple Forum in the Autumn months.
In the meantime, the crew have confirmed several new local live attacks taking place this week, as well as a quick run of the Carolinas with NewJersey-based cohorts Rukut late this month.
07/16 JR’s Bar Philadelphia, PA w/ Rukut, BlueAside, Bitchslicer
07/17 Mojo 13 Wilmington, DE w/ BlueAside, Lor, The Walking Ghost
07/29 DIVEbar Raleigh, NC w/ Rukut, The Black Tie Operation (free show!)
07/30 The House Simpsonville, SC w/ Rukut, Black Hand Throne
Posted in Label Stuff on June 1st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Even as Blackwolfgoat discs are heading out the door — you can buy yours here if you haven’t yet — the next Maple Forum release is in the works. Forum040 will be Volume III by South Jersey bashers and thrashers Clamfight, and as a fan of the band and someone who’s heard demos and rough mixes of the tracks, I can tell you straight out, it’s going to be a monster. The four-piece — guitarists Sean McKee and Joel Harris, drummer/vocalist Andy Martin and bassist Louis Koble — hit the studio on May 13 to start the recording process, and Martin was kind enough to take a couple minutes out and issue the following update on their progress.
Volume III should be out sometime this fall, if not before. Here’s what Martin had to say:
A few quick words of introduction here, as judging by the sales of Volume I, there aren’t a ton of you who know who we are, and it felt a little pretentious to just jump right in with the new record stuff. We’re Clamfight from suburban South Jersey. We’ve been playing together since junior high, have played a ton of shows in NY, PA, NJ, DE, and MD over the last six years, and we’ll never be too old or musically snobby to question the sheer perfection of Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power, Deep Purple’s Machine Head, Sepultura’s Chaos A.D., and Clutch‘s self-titled. Last year we released a record titled Volume I that several husky bearded gentlemen from across the globe enjoyed and were kind enough to plug on their respective blogs and websites. Your own H.P. Taskmaster enjoyed it enough to offer to put out the follow-up to Volume I, and the making of this album, Volume III, is why we’re taking up valuable Obelisk real estate today.
Volume I was an accidental record; it was recorded in drips and drabs over several months in ’08, and then due to work and personal commitments as well as the fact that we knew dick about self releasing a record it languished, completed, for close to two years before we got it out. Knowing that JJ would be handling the releasing was a huge load off our minds from the get-go, now it fell to us to deliver as good a record as we possibly could. With that in mind we returned to the Gradwell House in Haddon Heights, New Jersey (gradwellhouse.com), and the man who’s our own loving combination of Colonel Tom Parker and the mom from The Partridge Family, Steve Poponi. To be honest, since working with Steve on Volume I we wouldn’t have gone anywhere else. Steve had been able to browbeat and turd-polish a solid record out of us when we really hadn’t meant to record one, now we were eager to see what he could do when we actually intended to make a record.
We hit Gradwell House Friday night (May 13) with a long weekend booked and the intention of laying all the basic tracks for the nine songs we’d prepared; a few guitar solos still needed to be written and vocals would have to wait until my allergies relaxed and I no longer sound like Yeardley Smith trying to scream-clear a snorkel. Booking the block time was Steve‘s idea and it was amazing how much time it saved. Our gear remained set up in the studio so once the several hours of setup time had been spent on Friday night, we could roll in the rest of the weekend and be recording within minutes of walking in the door. Joel went with the same Peavey Classic tube head he used on Volume I, this time through his Mesa cabinet, while Sean played his Mesa Triple Rectifier through a Marshall cabinet. I played the same Black Cat kit as on Volume I, and Louis played a Tech 21 Sans Amp through an Avalon direct input box. Friday night we knocked out “The Eagle,” “I vs. the Glacier,” and “Sandriders” (my ode to Dune; yeah, we’re those kind of nerds) and left the studio around 11, feeling pretty good.
Saturday, I knocked out the rest of my drum tracks (for such ditties as “River of Ice,” “The Shadowline,” “The Age of Reptiles,” “Mountain,” “Tower of the Elephant II,” and “Stealing the Ghost Horse”) and again I need to stop and give Steve a lot of credit for how smoothly things went here. 15 or so years of playing the drums in loud bands have left me with some so-so hearing (earplugs kids, wear your earplugs), and the last time we recorded I used regular headphones which honestly prohibited me from hearing everything properly and I consequently held back on my playing a lot. This time out Steve loaned me some great in-ear monitors and since it now sounded as if the guys were playing in my frontal lobe, I could relax and play as hard as I do live, instead of mincing around the kit straining to hear Sean.
Another key to our recording of Volume III has been Gradwell‘s gigantic live room. Though Louis is playing his bass through a DI and the guitar cabs are isolated, for the basic tracks and some of Sean‘s leads we’ve all been in the same room banging the songs out together. Besides the practical reasons like all of us being able to see each other and cue each other in on the changes — some of these songs were only finished two weeks before we hit the studio, so some of the changes remain a bit fresh — there’s just something about the four of us in the room playing together that brings a hell of a lot more energy to the songs than say, if I played to a click and a scratch track and everyone else layered their parts in afterward. It also takes a little bit of that microscope effect out of the process as well, being able to look at each other and flip the other guys off or mouth a well timed “fuck you” or “you suck” to ease the tension is a big help. It helps make recording — God forbid — fun. Ultimately that’s what we’re doing in this band anyway, I mean we’re not trying to pay the bills with a band named Clamfight (if we wanted to do that we’d move to Brooklyn, gank a name from Robert E. Howard and start working on our beards), we’re out to have a good time, to play some ugly music for whoever will have us, and to hang out with the same assholes we’d be hanging out with whether we were a band or not. That’s what’s been so great about the Volume III sessions so far-we’ve managed to have that same good time while engaging in what’s usually one of the most pressure-filled and money-devouring activities that a band at our level can engage in.
We’ll go back in a few weeks to complete leads and vocals and should have a rough mix of a couple of songs for our upcoming shows (June 10 at the M-Room in Philthadelphia with Boss 302 and Human Shield, who are the fucking tits). In the meantime I have to stop hogging this hotel lobby computer — there’s some businessmen types who are clearly eager to commence trolling Craigslist for hookers and if I hold them up any further they may band together and violently remove me. Stay classy, Obelisk. – Andy Martin
It was Saturday night, and after a quick stopoff at Vintage Vinyl, I made my way even further south on the Parkway to Long Branch‘s famed Brighton Bar. Once the centerpiece of the vibrant NJ stoner scene (on the wall are scrawled names like Monster Magnet, Lord Sterling, Halfway to Gone, among many others), I haven’t been there in a while that it wasn’t more or less empty. Clamfight, recently come aboard the good ship Maple Forum, were playing with some rapcore — there’s a word you don’t see every day — band and opening, so I figured it was well worth the drive to see them. And it was. A decent crowd, too.
Clamfight guitarist Sean McKee had promised me a demo tape of new material, and my favorite DIY duo in the world, Rukut, also handed me a CDR of new mixes (they weren’t playing but came out to support), so that was a bonus, but Brighton shows have a long history of starting late, and with a total three bands on the bill, Clamfight got going at about 10PM. It’s just one of the many ways in which the venue holds fast to rock traditions the rest of the world either forgot about or decided there was more money in ignoring. Don’t ask me which. Good fun, in any case.
This is probably the last time (or one of the last times, if not the last) I’ll feel comfortable writing about Clamfight in an editorial sense. They haven’t started recording their new album yet, and I listened to that tape and it rules, but in terms of reviews and stuff, it’s not something I can really do for a band I’m going to put out and claim — at least in my mind — any credibility. I don’t know. I was just glad to go to the show and hang out with friends.
Icing on the proverbial cake was that Clamfight killed. They played three songs from Vol. 1 and the rest was new material. Their mixture of stoner riffs and thrash aggression has only gotten more potent, it seems, and on the more recent cuts, “I vs. the Glacier” “The Eagle” and “Sandriders” (video below), they showed hints of a newfound diversity that wasn’t there on the first record. Frontdrummer Andy Martin even threw some clean vocals into “Stealing the Ghost Horse,” contrasting them with bastardly growls that cut in and out on a bad mic cable. The point got across anyway: the band is growing.
Both McKee and fellow guitarist Joel Harris played through Dual Rectifiers and Mesa cabs, and I don’t know if it was just the Brighton mix or what, but the thought occurred to me that I wanted more disparity of tone between them. There was plenty enough crunch to their sound — underscored by the well-pocketed bass work of Louis Koble — but their material has developed to the point where McKee‘s leads need to be able to separate themselves from Harris‘ rhythm tracks more, and when the two lock in on a huge riff, as they do with great regularity, it could hit even harder meshing different tones.
One man’s opinion. I know that equipment is a huge investment and establishing “a tone” takes years, but Clamfight are getting to where it’s time for them to do so. They’re more of a “real band” than they know.
And I guess that’s why I’m so excited to be working with them on The Maple Forum for their next record. Their songs still have that demo-band intensity to them, but they’re clearly past that stage in their growth. They’re more than capable songwriters — the cassette I got bears that out, as did the first album — and after seeing them integrate new songs into their live set, and be genuinely willing to try new things on those songs, I’m all the more stoked for what’s to come. It’s going to be a monster.
You can check out Clamfight here and see the video of “Sandriders” below. Apologies for the audio. I need to see if I can adjust the rec volume on that camera. Still figuring that whole thing out.
Typical fucking Obelisk fashion to reveal the label’s fourth release before the third, but there it is anyway. Clamfight will be issuing their second full-length album — following last year’s incredible Volume I, which you can stream below — on The Maple Forum sometime this summer. As I said, I’m going to have another release before then, but still, I’m beyond stoked to be working with these dudes. They’re friends, yeah, but they’re a really amazing band and I could name about six genres that their new material is kicking in the ass.
If you’re in the area, you can find out for yourself this Saturday when they play the Brighton Bar in Long Branch. See you there. I’ll be the fat dude with the beard and the camera.
The band went ahead and hired the good people at Earsplit PR to help spread the word on the record, and the official announcement went out last night. I got it on the PR wire, and here it is, complete with one of the most awesome promo photos I’ve ever seen:
Philadelphia-area doom quartet Clamfight have signed with The Maple Forum for the release of their upcoming full-length album, which the band are set to begin recording next month.
A crew of childhood friends from the South Jersey/Philadelphia-area who have been jamming together in various bands since 1997, Clamfight lay down an incredibly solid assault of doom/sludge with enough rock and roll and thrash influence to keep things upbeat, resulting in some of the most bruising grooves in the tri-state area.
After Clamfight‘s debut album, Volume I, received endless live coverage and praise throughout all of last year on major heavy rock portal The Obelisk — even earning the #7 spot on the site’s 2010 year-end list — site taskmaster JJ Koczan simply turned around and offered to release the band’s next album via The Maple Forum, the official record label of The Obelisk. This April, Clamfight will be returning to Gradwell House Studios, where they birthed the massive Volume I.
Clamfight have shared the stage regionally with Pale Divine, Bitchslicer, HellblockSix, Rukut, A Day of Pigs and countless more, as well as national touring acts including Solace, Jucifer, and Iron Man. Their bourbon-soaked rock-bred-sludge is as soulful as it is thunderous, the kind of thing fans of Grand Magus, Beaten Back to Pure and Crowbar will flock to like free beer.
03/19 Brighton Bar – Long Branch, NJ w/ Negative Sky
Posted in audiObelisk on January 20th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve reviewed the album, included it in my year-end list, podcast, live reviews, etc., but if you haven’t yet taken the recommendation to heart, Clamfight have just set up a Bandcamp page where they’re streaming Volume I in its entirety and making the record (and cheap t-shirts) available for easy purchase. The band was kind enough to grant me permission to post the beast for your listening pleasure here.
It feels like months of raving on my part about how awesome Volume I is has been leading to this. You can finally hear for yourself how killer this album actually is. If I told you how much posting it was making my day, you wouldn’t believe me, so just press play below and enjoy.
Posted in Features on December 21st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
If I broke something every time I wanted to this year while listening to Clamfight‘s superb self-released masterpiece of fuck-shit-uppery, Volume I, I’m pretty sure I’d have no possessions left. Even things that you don’t normally think of breaking, I’d have gotten to. Like shoes, or the ceiling. Somehow, although I’ve probably been through this record a hundred times by now, I’ve managed to restrain myself, and my material life as I know it remains intact… but there’s always the next time.
“Fuck Bulldozers,” “Viking Funeral,” the stellar “Ghosts I Have Known” and “Swordfishing is an Ancient and Noble Art”; it was like Clamfight were doing me a personal favor by writing these songs. As though they sat down and said, “Oh here you go, big guy. You’ll like this.” And they were right. I fucking loved it. I knew when I first heard it that Volume I was going to be my favorite unsigned release of 2010, and it absolutely was.
Lethal. Fucking. Groove. Stay tuned in 2011 for release news about their next album, and if you haven’t picked up Volume I, get in touch with the band via their Facebook to do so. I know I recommend a lot of records on this site, but if you’ve ever been into sludge, thrash or that which is stonerly, and you miss out on Clamfight, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. Go ahead and take a listen. You deserve it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 20th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last Friday night, as I drunkenly slobbered all over Clamfight after their set at Philly‘s Millcreek Tavern — after watching drummer/vocalist Andy Martin puke on himself WITHOUT MISSING A BEAT — the news of the night came in the form of an honest to goodness physical copy of their album, Volume I.
You might recall I included the record in my Top Five of the First Half of 2010 without verifying it was actually out, and shame on me, because it wasn’t. Well, it is now, and I can safely say it’s still one of the best records I’ve heard all year.
Go here to get a copy of the album, because I know for a fact they’ve got them, and I know for a fact that if you miss it your life will suck forever. More to come on these dudes, but they’re playing again in Philly on Sept. 25, so there’s that.
Posted in Features on June 21st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well friends, it looks like there’s a technicality issue with this year’s TFFH. I thought I’d be all set to go with Clamfight‘s righteous Vol. 1 at number five, but I got this comment from guitarist Sean on the original post:
To clarify, the CD has not been officially released, we are aiming to have it out for a release show in Philly on August 13th with some incredible bands. We’ve been doling out home-burned copies to a select few and some songs will be up for download on the various sites shortly.
August clearly is not June, and since this is the Top Five of the First Half of 2010, Vol. 1 is hereby disqualified.
Controversy! I’ll give you a second to gasp…
Now that the shock has (hopefully) subsided, we can deal with the issue on a practical level. We all know Clamfight‘s Vol. 1 will be seen again at the end of the year, so it’s not worth crying about that, and obviously this change is no value judgment on the record — which, let me emphasize, fucking rules — but if I include a record that won’t be out until August on this list, then I’d have to include stuff like the new Zoroaster too, which comes out in July, and that’s not really what the TFFH about.
Without further ado, here is the revised Top Five of the First Half of 2010:
1. Asteroid, II
2. Solace, A.D.
3. Ufomammut, Eve
4. Fatso Jetson, Archaic Volumes
5. The Wounded Kings, The Shadow over Atlantis
There. Now we can all dance like Ewoks and be happy that the list is fair and only includes albums which were released in the first six months of the year. Honorable mentions go out to Apostle of Solitude, The Brought Low, Sasquatch and Brant Bjork, any of whom could have been on this list easily.
With that cleared up, that’s it for the 2010 TFFH. If you’ve got a list of your own, leave a comment and let me know what I’ve been missing.
Posted in Features on June 15th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a rare band that can blend brutality and groove, good times and hard hits, and Clamfight do it so well they couldn’t have been born to do anything else. The New Jersey clan’s first full-length outing, Vol. 1, was years in the making and riffs has hard, rumbles as deep and crashes as loud as anything I’ve heard this year.
Plus, it has the kind of artwork where you might see it in a store, buy it for a kid because it looks adorable and then scar said child for life with “Fuck Bulldozers” or “Viking Funeral.” And, as we all know, any music that induces trauma in the young is a good thing. Childrens could use a kick in the ass.
But even that’s not what ultimately got Clamfight on the TFFH10 list. And it’s not the fact that I know them either. What ultimately did it was a song like “Ghosts I Have Known,” which in addition to being concrete heavy is also a display of the band’s songwriting prowess. Sure, we can all get down with the pummel of “Rabbit,” and that’s a great time, but there’s more to Vol. 1 than that, and it’s right there for anyone willing to hear it.
Because this was an album that I’d waited for, and because it’s one that, even after the review, I’ve gone back to time and again for what I’ve pathetically come to classify as “enjoyment listens,” I’m glad to have Clamfight‘s Vol. 1 on my top five of the first half of 2010.
Posted in Reviews on March 2nd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Here’s a fun game I’d recommend playing with Vol. 1, the debut full-length from Westmont, New Jersey, metallers Clamfight. You take the main riff to album opener “Fuck Bulldozers” (which you can hear on their MySpace; you’ll know the riff I’m talking about when it comes on), and in time with it’s monstrously-proportioned groove, you say the word “bananas.” It works out to something like, “Ba-nanas, ba-na-nas, ba-nanas, ba-na-nas, ba-nanas, ba-na-nas, BA-NA-NAS.” Good fucking times, my friend.
Clamfight are my favorite unsigned, non-pedigreed American band. I say this with zero pretense of impartiality. I know them, consider them friends, and am glad to say I’ve seen them perform on more occasions than I can count. Sound-wise, I put them in a similar category as Oklahoma City rockers Bloodcow, but the more abrasive shouts of Clamfight drummer/vocalist Andy Martin, peppered on “Ghosts I Have Known” with deathly growling, add a dimension of metallic heaviness that offsets the stonerly riffs and lead work of guitarists Joel Harris and Sean McKee. Captured on Vol. 1 by engineer Steve Poponi of NJ’s Gradwell House studio, all the elements that make up Clamfight sound clear and professional without sacrificing the immediacy or hunger in the material.
The band credits Poponi with much of the album’s outcome, but there’s no denying that the Southern shuffle of “Swordfishing is an Ancient and Noble Art” comes from the players themselves. The nautical fascinations of Martin play out across several of Vol. 1’s tracks, informing the lyrics to “Sowrdfishing,” the aforementioned “Ghosts I Have Known,” and more loosely, closer “Viking Funeral.” “Ghosts I Have Known” is my personal pick of the record, as the tempo slows a bit, Martin successfully attempts a cleaner vocal approach for the verses than on the track previous (the chorus being where the growling happens), and the songwriting feels tightest and shows the band has more to offer than the pounding grooves they’ve so far offered. Though, for most acts, said pounding grooves would be enough. But as Clamfight kicks into the thrashy last two minutes of the song, the ease with which they transition speaks to a sonic diversity still just developing among Harris, McKee, Martin and bassist Louis Koble.
Posted in Reviews on February 2nd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was that special kind of cold that renders pants pointless because the wind goes right through them anyway. Nonetheless, I and the pants I decided to wear despite the futility made our way to The Clash Bar in Clifton, NJ, in plenty of time to catch Nimdok, ClamFight and headliners Iron Man in the surprisingly swanky venue. The floors were clean, the bar freshly wiped down, the lighting expensive. I’d never been to The Clash Bar before, and it hardly looked like the kind of place that would have a doom show, but hey, where Iron Man guitarist Al Morris goes, so go I.
Nimdok was up first; a kind of noisy throwaway trash rock that took elements from the ’90s AmRep scene probably without realizing it. The vocals were bad on purpose in a kind of punk rock way, but not really pulled off, and the impression I got was the young trio didn’t give a fuck about what they were doing. Sometimes that’s cool. Sometimes it just doesn’t sit well. I guess I was anxious to see the next bands, because I wasn’t buying it.
Needless to say, I survived, and they actually weren’t bad dudes and stuck around for most of the show despite being musically disparate to the other acts. You can’t ask for more than that really, when it comes to local bands. Everyone’s going to do what they do and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and some like it and some don’t. You stand there anyway. That’s just the way it is.
With Diane Kamikaze of the famed WFMU DJing the evening, there were plenty of between-band moments of righteousness. She hit tracks from Darkthrone, Kreator, old Mastodon (you always forget how good that shit was until you hear it again after a while), and plenty of doom/stoner stuff, including “Avon” from the first Queens of the Stone Age, which sent me on a binge with that record from which I’ve yet to recover. Could be worse.