Posted in Label Stuff on January 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
We’re one week away from the release date for Clamfight‘s I Versus the Glacier on The Maple Forum. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments when I doubted we’d ever get here, but this thing’s actually going to happen. Most of the preorders have gone out — the post office was giving me shit for the amount of international shipments, but I’ll chip away at them over the next couple days — and more have come in to go out, so I know I’m not the only one stoked on the album. The reviews have been great so far, the band has been kicking ass live, and everything seems to be going in the right direction for an awesome release. No complaints whatsoever on my end.
Last week, Clamfight joined the ranks of Gozu, Order of the Owl, Lo-Pan, Admiral Browning, Weed is Weed and many others on the lineup for Stoner Hands of Doom XIII, set to take place in Richmond, Virginia, from Nov. 7-10 at Strange Matter. Much more on that to come (the fest is on Thee Facebooks here).
Between now and then, Clamfight have been booking weekenders like the workingman riffy bastards they are, and with the release coming next week, they’re once more heading out this coming weekend. Also keep an eye out later this week for a stream of I Versus the Glacier in its entirety via another site whose support is much appreciated. Drummer/vocalist/wiseacre Andy Martin issued the following update last night:
YOUR CLAMFIGHT UPDATE FOR 1/14/13:We’ll be at the El N Gee in New London CT w/ Blue Aside and When the Deadbolt Breaks this Friday, and at the Bug Jar with Baba Yaga and more at the Bug Jar in ROCKchester NY Saturday.
Friday January 25th we’re at Johnny Brenda’s in Philly w/ It’s a King Thing and the Three Six Mafia (or somebody like that, I can’t remember). Feb. 9th it’s double duty for this guy with Heavy Temple, Clamfight, and literally everyone I know’s band at J.B. McGuiness in Delaware, then March 15th at Mojo Main in Delaware w/ Brain Candle and Blackhand, and finally March 29th w/ Hollow Leg, Beelzefuzz and more at Cafe 611 in Fredneck Maryland.
There are a literal fuck-ton more shows being put together as we speak, including at least two more weekenders, and since the Heavy Temple cats and I are enjoying each other’s company so much a potential mess of shows with them as well.
I’m going to be shirtless in public so much this spring that I should probably get my chest hair did.
Posted in Label Stuff on January 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
We’re almost there. Reviews have been coming in for Clamfight‘s I Versus the Glacier and all of the ones I’ve seen have been spectacular. As a fan of the band it makes me really excited to see good things happening for them and I hope the momentum continues right into the proper release of the album on The Maple Forum on Jan. 22, just 12 days from today.
As I promised, the preorders are ready to go out today. You can see in the stacks above — separated by international and domestic shipping destinations — that the discs and stickers are packed up and headed to the post office. I have to run out of work early today, so it might be in the morning they actually get mailed, but sooner rather than later, in any case. Of course, if you still want to preorder a copy, you can do so at The Maple Forum store. Is it still a preorder if it ships right away? Shh. I won’t tell if you don’t.
Because they’re awesome people and because they’ve made an awesome album that, if I haven’t yet mentioned it, I’m ultra-excited to finally get out to the public after over a year of discussing it, drummer/vocalist Andy Martin and lead guitarist Sean McKee have sent in a new track-by-track examination of I Versus the Glacier, complete with notations on the references they’re making, points of inspiration and stories about recording. It is an excellent read front to back.
To celebrate the release of the album, Clamfight have booked a couple gigs for next weekend that will take them north, and next month, they’ll also be taking part in the Eye of the Stoned Goat II festival alongside the likes of Pale Divine, Iron Man, Wasted Theory and a slew of others. I’ve included flyers for all the gigs below (click any to enlarge), and hope you get to check them out live in the near future.
Clamfight are Andy Martin and Sean McKee, guitarist Joel Harris and bassist Louis Koble. I Versus the Glacier was recorded by Steve Poponi at Gradwell HouseRecording and also features Erik Caplan of Wizard Eye on guitar and theremin.
1. The Eagle
Sean: This song is a natural opener, and it only makes sense that it’s our oldest song on the album. Most of it was done even before we recorded Volume I but we had some parts to work out, namely the chorus. I think the main riff was so simple, we were trying to come up with something more complex for the chorus. We tried it a few ways but nothing sounded natural. A lot of my ideas come to me when I’m nowhere near a guitar. I remember sitting at work thinking about this song, just running riffs through my head. I thought about taking it back a step to something simpler, mainly so I could remember it when I got home, and I thought it would sound bigger with those open E and D chords ringing. It worked, and I think it really creates a natural chorus, or as much of a chorus as we’re going to have.
Andy: One thing I do remember about the writing of “The Eagle” is that we essentially took what would have been the half-time crushing end riff and made it the whole song. This ended up being a guiding principle behind most of the songs on I Versus the Glacier. At one point early on, we essentially had two halves of two different records written, a handful of direct bruisers like “Eagle” and a few songs that fit more into the melodic “rock” side of the stoner thing we do. I remember sitting in Sean’s basement with two competing lists of songs written down and trying to find a way for them to make sense together. Once we realized they were never going to make a cohesive record, we had to make the call: either go direct and heavy or fuzzy and melodic. Since we have far too much fun being cavemen and trying to smash our equipment it was a no-brainer, and the rock songs were consigned to Riff Jail, probably for all eternity.
2. Sand Riders
Andy: Ahhhhh sweet Dune, is there anything more metal than songs about Dune? I’m sure Dune needs no introduction to the Obelisk crowd, so I’ll stick to the song. I’m a little fuzzy on the writing of this one but I feel like it came together pretty quickly. For me this song is all about two things: Sean‘s solo in the beginning which I love because it’s a very bluesy/’70s rock solo that he manages to work into a pretty driving metal tune and the end breakdown. It’s a stick/floor tom destroyer and I think [engineer] Steve Poponi‘s best work on this entire record… the end of this song kills live and Steve managed to capture that same intensity as well.
Sean: I can remember writing the main riff and instantly knowing we had a bruiser. The song came together very naturally, and we felt after the uptempo first half we had to pull it back but maintain the heaviness. The second half is a blast to play live and really crushes with Andy‘s thumping bass pedal. We can’t resist a good reprise.
3. The Shadowline
Sean: Lyric-wise, “The Shadowline” is one of Andy‘s most personal songs on the album. It’s also a song that went through a lot of changes from the time we first wrote the main riff. The opening phrase was always the same, however, we used to play the main riff with fast palm-muted downstrokes. We liked it at first, but it just started to lose its luster after a while and we felt like it needed to be nastier. I remember one day at work, after a practice session in which Andy and I hammered on the song for two hours with little progress, we were trading texts with ideas of how to play it. He said he wanted to try laying back on the drums while I sped up the riff, kind of like Led Zeppelin‘s “Black Dog.” I think I said it’s already fast as shit, how do you want me to speed it up? His reply was “gallup!” I thought he was crazy, but I ran over to Guitar Center at lunch and worked out the riff, and I loved it. Because of this exchange, I now have a guitar and small practice amp in my office so I can work stuff out immediately if I get an idea in my head.
4. I Versus the Glacier
Andy: In 1845, Sir John Franklin and 128 men set out for the Northwest Passage, none of them ever returned. I don’t set out with the idea that every Clamfight record needs a song about a shipwreck and cannibalism (see Vol. 1‘s “Ghosts I Have Known”) but it keeps shaking out that way. The Franklin expedition fascinates me for more than just the tabloid aspects of what happened to the crew, as a student of history I feel like it’s noteworthy because it’s one of those “nothing ever changes” moments that brings me a little comfort every time I fear our leaders are going to steer us into the ditch. A lot of the current work on the Franklin expedition’s fate points the finger at Franklin‘s men being underequipped and the British government’s hiring of the cheapest and quickest cannery to provision the expedition (some of the bodies of the dead have tested positive for botulism), playing a role in dooming these men, and governments taking the cheap way out at the expense of human life is something that resonates to this day.
Musically it’s a driving riff and a lot of fun live — the end doom-down may be responsible for spilling more of my blood than any part of any Clamfight song ever… and though we’ve yet to make it happen live (our fault not his) Erik Caplan from Wizard Eye swoops in to deliver some really chilling theremin work. Erik came by the studio and pulled this off in one take. He asked about the mood of the song and I said something vague along the lines of, “Give me something arctic and chilly sounding,” and he absolutely crushed it. The guy’s a miracle worker and we were lucky to have him on the record.
5. Age of Reptiles: Rhedosaurus
Andy: There’s songs on this record that are intensely personal and were born of the hardest time in my life… and then there’s “Age of Reptiles: Rhedosaurus,” which was born of a hangover, medicinal fried chicken, and Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi‘s Fire and Ice. I was loafing around one Saturday afternoon, knowing that I was due to record vocals on Monday night and true to form I didn’t have a single line written. I already had the title, minus the “Rhedosaurs” bit, and being a huge dinosaur nut (I count Charles R. Knight paintings and my dad’s Zeppelin records as probably my two most formative musical influences) I had a general theme. I tried, and failed thank god, to pull some real freshman English dinosaurs-as-a-metaphor-for-closing-factories shit, and when that wouldn’t work, I decided to take a break and watch a movie. Luckily for me that movie was Fire and Ice. Once I got to the part where the dinosaur pops out of the pond and rescues Princess Tit-tania or whatever her name is I knew I had my lyrics. It felt right, the bridge for “Age of Reptiles” is maybe the jiggliest, most ass-shaking riff we’ve ever written, so it made sense to write about the most boob-tastic dinosaur chase in cinema history instead of trying to be a budget ass Bruce Springsteen.
6. River of Ice
Andy: “River of Ice” is one of those rare Clamfight songs that basically wrote itself in the space of one practice. While on the train to Jersey, I’d finished Wallace Breem‘s amazing The Eagle in the Snow, a novel about the failed defense of the Rhein by a Roman Legion in the waning days of the Roman Empire. I’ve read enough historical fiction to know that a lot of it’s crap, the kind of thing you’re only reading for the beheadings and the pillaging but Eagle in the Snow is more or less literature (whatever that means beyond “I know it when I see it”) and the ending is devastating. It was a particularly bleak winter night and I got off the train stunned by what I had just read and staggered into practice where I began clawing away at the wardrums that begin the song and Sean caught the mood and laid our most somber riff over it.
Sean: My favorite part about recording “River of Ice” is that I got to play through Erik‘s rig. I knew I wanted a certain big type of sound to come in right after the first verse. I asked Erik to help me dial in the sound he uses on Wizard Eye‘s song “The Dying Earth.” He told me to grab his guitar and after he hit a few pedals he said “try that.” Oh man, it was perfect. It’s some type of combination of a phaser and custom fuzz pedal that, to this day, I still haven’t mastered myself. I wouldn’t want to copy it perfectly either, because he’s crafted such a unique tone that it deserves to stand alone.
Sean: The main riff for “Mountain” was actually born of a jam session we had with Kris, the drummer from the band we had prior to Clamfight. We were practicing for a “reunion” show and started messing around with this crushing, slow, droney beat. We really had no intentions of writing any new material with Kris and it was too slow for his style anyway, but we knew there was something to it, so we recorded it to revisit at a later date. As anyone who writes music knows, some songs come together so naturally and easily and some really take time to construct. “Mountain” is definitely one of the latter, and as easily as that opening riff and the chorus were developed, we really struggled mightily finding where we were taking the rest of the song. Around this time, we were struggling with another song, “Indian Fire.” It had a really cool bridge, but had grown stale. Andy suggested using that bridge in “Mountain” and seeing where it led. The bridge fit so well it really was like the song was leading us to a natural ending rather than us taking it there. The last big riff just flowed out of the bridge.
Recording “Mountain” was a particular high point on this album because I got to directly collaborate with Erik. I felt like the song was the right vibe for him and the solo was long enough so we could each add enough flavor to it. We were able to jam on it once before entering the studio, which really helped me more than it did him. I think we have similar styles except Erik is more spontaneous, and he was able to improvise something in the studio where I had to have something pretty solid ahead of time. I love hearing the different guitar tones in the solo and the key change leading to those high notes makes me smile whenever I hear it. He also loaned me an awesome pedal to use for the leads over the bridge and helped me work out the harmonies. I’m honored we were able to put something like this together with Erik and I hope to do it again in the future.
8. The Green Gods of Yag
Sean: We don’t necessarily set out to write instrumentals, some songs just end up that way. We had three-quarters of “Green Gods” in the bag before we decided to make it an instrumental. It just had that feeling. We initially called it “Tower of the Elephant II” after “Tower of the Elephant” from Volume I, but that sounded too Metallica. Andy kept with the Robert E. Howard theme, though, and went with “The Green Gods of Yag.” We actually sat on the song for a while because we thought the “chorus” was too much like Black Sabbath‘s “Fairies Wear Boots.” We were going to change it, but we finally decided a little Sabbath influence is not necessarily a bad thing. We also pulled off a last minute change to the bridge just before we went into the studio because we felt it sounded too much like “Mountain.” I really like the change. It brings the tempo down just enough before we kick it in the balls again. I don’t really have a traditional solo, but I had a lot of fun in the studio layering the leads toward the end of the song. I remember telling Steve I had one more thing I wanted to try, and he gave me a look that I knew meant I had one shot at nailing it. I added the high scale ending with a long bend right before we come back around to the main riff. I asked him how it sounded and he replied, “Ridiculous.” Done!
9. Stealing the Ghost Horse
Sean: “Stealing the Ghost Horse” and “Age of Reptiles” were written one after the other. With these songs, two things became evident: we knew what direction we were going with the sound of this album, and we had our closer. “Ghost Horse” just flows into bigger riffs and I think it could really go on and on, which is why we chose to fade it out. It’s the type of song where Andy and I needed Louis and Joel to kind of reel us in, because we’d just keep adding riffs and play it forever. I don’t really remember how we composed the main riff, I just know it’s very fluid and a lot of fun to play. I love the big chorus and the galloping bridge really adds another dimension to the song. The solo was a bitch to compose. I worked on it for weeks until I had something I was happy with, and it’s still challenging to pull off live. I particularly enjoy the second half of the song, starting after the solo. I love the way it sounds with the guitars pounding away on a single note while Louis takes it away with an underlying progression. And then the riffs keep getting bigger, and Andy gets angrier, until we fade into the distance. I think perhaps we’ll have to start the next album with a “Ghost Horse” fade in… Damn, that’s good. I’m going to work on that right now.
Andy: A little ways back we were doing a run of shows with the mighty Rukut, and they were staying with us so the usual post show Euro-horror and Miller Hi-Life soaked shenanigans resulted. Cut to the foggy next morning and finding that one of us had written in huge letters on a legal pad “STEALING THE GHOST HORSE,” which a character in Amando De Ossororio‘s excellent Tombs of the Blind Dead actually does (an act repeated several times in the series, which always struck me as odd because I’m not sure if I saw a ghost horse I’d be tempted to abscond with it), and I knew I finally had a title and a theme for this massive song that we’d just written. Finally, the death metal bits at the end are my tribute to Hooded Menace, a band that I love, and one that also loves the Blind Dead movies.
Posted in Label Stuff on December 14th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Happy to report that 23 copies of Clamfight‘s I vs. the Glacier have been pre-ordered as of this post. If you haven’t had the chance to put yours in yet, please head over to the Maple Forum Bigcartel store and get your Paypal grooving. They’re going quick and as we get closer to the January 22, 2013, release date, I don’t think that’s gonna stop anytime soon.
Reviews have started to come in as well and, unsurprisingly because the record kicks ass, they’re awesome. Thanks to Axis of Metal and HeavyHardMetalmania for taking on this beast. I’m stoked to see what everyone else thinks as the official release approaches. I feel like these songs are so densely packed that they’ll catch a lot of people off guard. Clamfight walk a fine balance of a couple different kinds of metal — stoner, thrash, sludge, doom, etc. — and make a lot of really hard shifts sound really easy. Hopefully, whether you’re writing a review or not, you agree once you hear the record.
And as for that — actually hearing it — the kind souls at Stereokiller have put up the track “Sandriders” for streaming, which, thanks to the wonders of embed technology, you can hear on the player below. Check it out:
Thanks again to everyone who’s helped spread the word about Clamfight‘s I vs. the Glacierone way or another, and even more to everyone who’s put an order in so far. Make sure you get yours while the getting’s good by pre-ordering at the Maple Forum store.
The fifth release on The Obelisk’s in-house label The Maple Forum, New Jersey riff-thrashers Clamfight will draw forth I vs. the Glacieron Jan. 22, 2013. I know we’re still a ways off from that, but I firmly believe that when 2013 is over, Clamfight‘s epic second album will stand not only among the year’s strongest releases, but also perhaps one of the greatest cultural moments Western Civilization has yet produced. Needless to say, if that doesn’t turn out to be the case, I’ll be severely disappointed.
Bill Shakespeare, George Carlin, Black Sabbath, Shatner and Clamfight. I’m dead fucking serious.
I have 95 copies of the album to sell, and they’re up for pre-order now. Each Clamfight pre-order comes with a handwritten thank-you card (not pictured because I haven’t bought them yet, but they’ll be nice) [PLEASE NOTE: Due to the volume of pre-orders, I had to can the thank-you cards. Not that I appreciate your order any less -- quite the opposite -- but I've only got so many hours to fill these things out.] and a couple of the brand new Obelisk stickers with the octobeliskopus design by Skillit, as seen in the site’s header. They are $10 domestic American and $12 international, shipping included, and available to purchase at The Maple Forum Official Store.
All pre-orders will ship out Jan. 10, some 12 days ahead of the release date, to make sure everyone who ordered ahead of time gets the record early, and if I wound up having to write out 95 thank-you notes, well, that would just be awesome as far as I’m concerned. Maybe if they all go that quickly I’ll ship them out before the New Year hits to celebrate or something. Just floating ideas.
In another fit of “let’s try awesome,” I’ve also cut the price on the HeavyPink 7″, the fourth release on The Maple Forum. As you can see in the store, it’s now just $8 domestic/$12 international.
Thank you for your continued support of The Obelisk and of The Maple Forum. It means more than I have words to say.
And in case none of the other links did the job, click the album cover to buy:
Posted in Reviews on November 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
First thing’s first: As one of the two presenting parties for the show — the other being BrooklynVegan, whose promotional assistance was massively appreciated for this weekender tour — I probably shouldn’t even be reviewing it at all. On the other hand, however, Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy and Clamfight rule, and after plugging the living crap out of it beforehand (see here, here and here), it seems like I’d be leaving the story unfinished without some kind of wrap-up. I felt a little bit like I was going to my own birthday party.
It was the first night of a three-gig weekender, at Union Pool in Brooklyn. The other two shows, Saturday and Sunday, were in Rochester and Allston, Mass., but this one had the added bonus of being free, so all the better. Yeah, C.O.C. and Royal Thunder were playing down at the St. Vitus bar the same night, but though that provided a bit of pre-show anxiety, the crowd was by no means lacking for any of the bands. Even as Clamfight got going, the room had plenty of people in it, for which I was thankful.
I’d shown up to the venue early to deliver the NJ/Philly-based outfit their I vs. the Glacier CDs, due out for release on The Maple Forum on Jan 22. It wasn’t long before they were out on the merch table, so hopefully a few people got early copies, which is always awesome. They got going circa 9:30PM and delivered a set of their epic riffy thrash. Their set was almost entirely new songs — that would prove to be a theme throughout the night — with “The Eagle” as a highlight alongside the slower, more languid guitars of “River of Ice,” which guitarists Sean McKee and Joel Harris made all the groovier while drummer/vocalist Andy Martin slammed his drums so hard he collapsed his floor tom and broke every stick he brought with him for the three shows, leaving Louis Koble‘s steady bass to the task of holding the songs together.
Martin, who has been occasionally known to throw up the night’s alcohol on stage but was doubtless pacing himself for the weekend ahead on Friday, has emerged as a solid frontman presence in the band, despite being behind the drums. He plays with charisma and the shouts and screams he lets loose feel like cruelties directed at the microphone. The band would do well to push his kit more to the front of the stage — not necessarily with anyone behind, but playing more on a lateral, à la Weedeater — and give their set even more of an unhinged atmosphere. As it was, they more than gave a favorable impression to the crowd, and capped off with “Stealing the Ghost Horse,” which also closes I vs. the Glacier and is arguably the most expansive Clamfight song yet, with a sense of drama to offset some of the brashness found elsewhere and a one-man clean/harsh call and response from Martin that’s as memorable live as it is on the album.
This was the first time I’d seen them since being delivered the master for I vs. the Glacierand knowing the songs better just made their set more fun to watch. McKee is relatively understated on stage — well-headbanged hair often obscuring his face entirely — but standing alone to Martin‘s left, he tears into a slew of killer solos, while Harris and Koble keep the riffs flowing on the other wise. Their live dynamic is beginning to come into its own. There are kinks to be worked out — more shows will help — but the potential remains strong and they did right by their new songs, as did Brooklyn’s own Kings Destroy, who turned the lights low and played cuts off their new record, the title of which I’m pretty sure I’m not at liberty to reveal.
I’m not aware of any album title, nor would I be at liberty to disclose any such title were I aware of its existence. Turn your head and cough. Ha.
As if the lighting at Union Pool needed to be any more challenging to my novice-ass picture-taking, Kings Destroy basically played in the dark but for a projection of what looked like shards of light that cut through. Their new songs — the likes of “The Toe,” “Decrepit” the more upbeat “Casse-Tête” and “Storm Break” — are a distant cry from where their first album, And the Rest Will Surely Perish (also aMaple Forum release, fancy that), once came. Part of that has to be due to the departure of bassist Ed Bocchino as a songwriting factor, but if it’s guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski coming up with the guitar parts around which this current batch of material is based, the results are intricate, complex and more and more atmospheric. I’m not about to decry the first album — I wouldn’t if I could — they’ve just flipped the formula on its head and as a result are less tied to genre stylistically.
They’ve also become a force on stage. Union Pool isn’t a huge room, but neither is it small, and that’s how the five-piece made it look, bassist Aaron Bumpus, drummer Rob Sefcik and vocalist Steve Murphy delivering a pro-grade run through a well-constructed set of their latest, the chaos all the more palpable for the fact that it was basically happening in the dark. The band all around has grown from their time on stage in Europe and the US, Skowronski and Porcaro keeping individual identities in a wash of tone and feedback, Murphy cutting through the morass, Bumpus touching on creative fills that just hint at the mountain of talent on which he seems to stand, while Sefcik‘s propulsive thunder proved no less weighted fast or slow. Their new stuff runs a risk of throwing some people off who perhaps expect a direct port of the straightforward side of the debut, but they’re on the way to mastering their aesthetic, and the direction they’re headed inis rich and progressive in a way that they’ve barely hinted at being to this point.
So yeah, by the time they finished with the creepy awesomeness of “Turul,” the first two bands of the night had me in a full-on nerdout. I can admit it. I wasn’t exactly going for impartiality here to start with, just trying to let you know how it went down. And if I wasn’t a fan of the bands, I probably wouldn’t have signed on to release their stuff on The Maple Forum, so if you have to take the review with a grain of salt, well, fine.
A note about the hazards of no cover charge: As Kings Destroy were wrapping up, Guy Who Clearly Just Wandered In saw me standing by the side of the stage in front of Black Pyramid drummer Clay Neely‘s kit and asked if I was in a band. It’s not an unreasonable suspicion — black t-shirt, jeans, long hair, beard; I’ve got the uniform. Now, I don’t want to go around making unreasonable assumptions about the behavior of others, but with the stickers on his $500 leather jacket, the crazed look in his eyes, dual-blonde accompaniment and “I’m everybody’s best buddy and the life of the party” demeanor, I had no choice but to presume he was on cocaine.
This is not an unreasonable assumption to make about anyone on a Friday night in either the Manhattan or Brooklyn boroughs of New York City, but I think that given the evidence — circumstantial though it is — I wasn’t necessarily in the wrong for being on my toes. I told him that, no, I wasn’t in the band, and that Neely, standing next to me, was their drummer. Sweat running down from the well-tended crop of spiky hair on his head, he persisted, as though I was simply obscuring the fact that I was in a band, indeed the band that was playing next, and we were just involved in some kind of playful joshing. No sir, I insisted, I’m not in a band, not in that band. Finally, and in a sterner tone that was not quite a yell but nonetheless definitely the “daddy voice” I’ve put on while scolding my dog for chasing a squirrel toward the road, I told him, “Dude, I’m not in that band. I’m just weird looking. I promise you,” and walked away to watch the end of Kings Destroy‘s set. So to the hazards of no cover: You ne’er know who’s gonna walk in.
It turned out — much to his surprise — that I wasn’t in Black Pyramid. Neely, bassist Dave Gein and guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard (who killed it just six days prior performing as Blackwolfgoat at the Small Stone Boston showcase) were in Black Pyramid, and no sooner were they set up and ready to go than were they laying waste to everything in their path, including the room, which by this point was fairly well packed out. Up front were a few headbangers — a rarity for New York anything — and the band’s energy fed off their own as they led off with “Stormbringer” and then went into “Aphelion” from their 2012 split with Odyssey, the first studio cut with Shepard‘s vocals and guitar, its axe-wielding groove making it an immediate highlight.
There were a few new cuts in the set from Black Pyramid‘s next album, which was finished being recorded only hours before the band pulled up to play Day Four of this year’s SHoD, and it’s worth noting how much more at home Shepard seemed on the material he helped compose. He stepped into kind of an awkward situation when he joined the band late last year before the release of their second full-length, II, and though he’s done well to make the prior material his own — as “Stormbringer,” “Visions of Gehenna” and the finale “No Life King” showed — there’s a difference between his performance of the songs he adopted versus the songs he wrote. It’s not an easy thing to make someone else’s work yours — that’s why most covers suck — but what he brings to Black Pyramid is about 20 years of writing killer riffs, plus an ability to toss off embarrass-your-lead-guitarist solos like he was taking off a pair of shoes. He makes some of the older leads look easy to the point of silliness.
His vocals on both new material and old fit the songs excellently, though, and he, Gein and Neely were as tight as I’ve ever seen Black Pyramid, including at Roadburn 2011, which if it wasn’t their prior apex had to be close to it. I’m hardly objective in their case either, even if I haven’t released anything of theirs, but the crispness of their presentation made me look forward all the more to when I might get the chance to hear the studio versions of the new tracks and give them an overly-worded track-by-track review, which no doubt will also carry with it a disclaimer disavowing any and all critical credibility. But it’ll be fun, and that’s what matters.
Ditto that for this gig. It was a great time. All three of these bands are made up of killer dudes, and when I rolled out of Union Pool and headed back to Jersey, I was more than a little wistful at the thought of following the tour up north to Rochester, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, I rolled into my humble river valley at around 1:30AM, found that the internet had finally come back on after Hurricane Sandy, and spent the remainder of the evening — all 25 minutes of it — beginning to chip away at the weeks of neglected emails that I hadn’t had the chance to answer. Some you win, some you lose. I felt lucky to see these three acts on the night I did, and hopefully they get together and do it again.
Posted in Label Stuff on November 8th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Yes, the rumors are true. Those soft rumblings you’ve heard from the ground, the whispers on the wind. Clamfight‘s second album, I vs. the Glacier, has been giving a Jan. 22, 2013, release date via The Maple Forum. The discs are back from the pressing plant, and they’re just sitting in my office waiting to go out. We’ll have preorder info up in the next couple weeks.
And before we get to January, the band are going to be breaking their asses to promote. There’s talks of a video, track streams, late-night talk show appearances, etc., and to help them in their quest for riffy thrash domination, the four-piece have enlisted the ultra-capable Earsplit PR, whose dedication to the cause and work with the likes of Neurosis, C.O.C. and EyeHateGod (among countless others) has rendered their expertise unfuckwithable. Clamfight are in good hands.
Earsplit sent the following announcement down (what else?) the PR wire:
CLAMFIGHT Prep New Album For Deployment
Mini-Tour With Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy Begins This Week
Riffmongering Westmont, New Jersey-based CLAMFIGHT has completed their second album, and are preparing it for deployment in early 2013, unless there is some truth to this Mayan calendar fiasco that is.
As with their impressive 2010 debut Volume I, the new opus, I Versus The Glacier, was recorded by Steve Poponi at Gradwell House Recording in Haddon Heights, New Jersey. The thundering nine-track ruckus that is I Versus The Glacier magnifies the signature CLAMFIGHT blend of sludge, thrash, and doom that, according to Doommantia webzine, “has more than enough groove to break down walls,” yet ventures into even more expansive and torrentially-infectious territory on the nearly fifty-minute album.
I Versus The Glacier will see release on January 22nd, 2013 exclusively through New Jersey-based The Maple Forum, the official label imprint born of admired webzine/music community The Obelisk. In coordination with BrooklynVegan, The Maple Forum is co-sponsoring a weekend warrior tour kicking off in Brooklyn this Friday and plowing through Rochester, New York and Allston, Massachusetts, uniting CLAMFIGHT alongside Kings Destroy (members of Killing Time) and Black Pyramid.
CLAMFIGHT Live Engagements: 11/09/2012 Union Pool – Brooklyn, NY w/ Kings Destroy, Black Pyramid 11/10/2012 Monty’s Krowne – Rochester, NY w/ Kings Destroy, Black Pyramid, Babayaga 11/11/2012 O’Brien’s Pub – Allston, MA w/ Kings Destroy, Black Pyramid 11/20/2012 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA w/ Thee Nosebleeds, Screaming Rattler
Additional live excursions are being devised for the coming weeks and will be announced as the album’s release date nears.
I vs. the Glacier Track Listing: 1. The Eagle 2. Sandriders 3. Shadow Line 4. I vs. the Glacier 5. Age of Reptiles 6. River of Ice 7. Mountain 8. Tower of the Elephant II 9. Stealing the Ghost Horse
Once again, I doff my hat to the work of Sean “Skillit” McEleny, who just sent over this poster for the Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy and Clamfight “Annihilate All Weekend Long” weekender tour next month. You may know Skillit‘s stuff from, uh, scroll up, he did the header for this site, as well as from kickass shows and artists too numerous to mention in a post that’s just supposed to be about artwork. His site is here.
I wanna be friends with it:
Friday, 11/9 – Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY **FREE SHOW**
Saturday, 11/10 – Monty’s Krown, Rochester, NY
Sunday, 11/11 – O’Brien’s Pub, Somerville, MA
By way of band updates:
Kings Destroy will also be playing Nov. 2 at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn with Witch Mountain. Their new album is being mastered next week by Joe Lambert in Brooklyn, and will be out early 2013.
Clamfight are in Delaware this weekend with Wizard Eye and others. The latest on their new album is here. I can’t fucking wait for it to be released.
Black Pyramid kick ass. That’s not really news, but it’s true all the same.
Posted in Label Stuff on October 24th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Got home from work last night and found a big ol’ box of Clamfight CDs. It was enough to have made the workday worthwhile.
They’re geeerjus, as you can see in the totally natural, not-at-all-arranged picture above. I’m always stoked on everything The Maple Forum puts out, but Clamfight are friends going back years and years. We played shows together when they were barely a band, and I’ve only become more of a fan as they’ve grown into the unwieldy riff ‘n’ thrash monster they are now. I vs. the Glacieris going to stomp your face.
It’s a four-panel digipak. Here’s the full outside cover, with firehorses and scantily :
Here’s the inside cover with the disc:
And here’s a closer look at the cover:
We’re eying a January release. Stay tuned for pre-order info. Of course, the band might also have some copies with them on the upcoming Clamfight, Kings Destroy and Black Pyramid “We vs. the Weekender” tour, about which you can find more details here or here.
Posted in Label Stuff on October 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I stopped off at the post office on my way to work this morning and shipped out the master, the art and everything else has been uploaded, so Clamfight‘s long-awaited second album, I vs. the Glacier, is officially in production. It’s been a long time coming, but the band worked their asses off getting the record together, the songs are even better than I could’ve hoped for, and I’m stoked to be involved in the release via The Obelisk’s in-house label, The Maple Forum. It’ll be a full four-panel digipak with sophomore-year-notebook-worthy artwork that we’ll have more on in the future.
As for when that release will actually be out, we’re not sure yet. The impulse every time I get a disc back from the press — or, in the case of HeavyPink‘s 7″ single, from Tony Reed — is to put it on sale right away, because I’m all excited and whatnot and suddenly it makes a ton of sense to release something I’m super-into without really telling anyone about it first. Maybe I’ve learned my lesson on that one, maybe not. This record’s been in the works for a while and I don’t want to be the cause of further delay. On the other hand, it’s a killer album and it deserves whatever fanfare it can accrue before actually coming out, be it reviews, word of mouth, whatever.
So there’s some coordination that still needs to happen, but for today, I’m just going to be thrilled that at long last, Clamfight‘s Ivs. the Glacierwill be pressed. The CD will be limited to 300 copies, of which I’ll have 100 for sale. As we get closer to the eventual release, we’ll talk tracklisting, recording info, etc. But that’s all for later. For now, I raise my coffee mug in salute to the havoc this excellent frickin’ record is going to wreak on any ears fortunate enough to hear it.
Thanks for your continued support of The Maple Forum and of this site.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 7th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy and Clamfight. Well damn.
They should just go ahead and call it the “WEEKENDER TO END ALL WEEKENDERS.” I think maybe I’ll get in my car and follow them around for all three dates, but like, not tell them I’m going to do it and just keep showing up at the shows and being like, “What?”
Black Pyramid, fresh off SHoD XII and the recording of a new album, Kings Destroy, also fresh off recording a new album (and also playing with Pallbearer next week in Brooklyn), and Clamfight, the album art for whose Maple Forum debut is apparently done at last — all three teamed up? That’s worth the price of gas for sure.
Good bands and good people mean good shows. You should go to any and all of the following:
Friday, 11/9 – Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY
Saturday, 11/10 – Monty’s Krown, Rochester, NY
Sunday, 11/11 – Radio, Somerville, MA
Expect more news to come in the next few weeks and months about new records from all three of these bands — and by “news,” I mean fanboy slobbering. Awesome.
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.