Maple Forum Update: 72 Clamfight Pre-Orders Left

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 Glacier one 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.

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The Maple Forum: Clamfight’s I vs. the Glacier is Now Available for Pre-Order

Posted in Label Stuff on November 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click here to go to 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 Glacier on 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:

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Live Review: Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy and Clamfight in Brooklyn, 11.09.12

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 Glacier and 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 a Maple 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 in is 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.

More pics after the jump.

Read more »

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The Maple Forum: Clamfight Announce January 22 Release Date for I vs. the Glacier

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

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Visual Evidence: Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy & Clamfight “Annihilate All Weekend Long” Poster by Skillit

Posted in Visual Evidence on October 25th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

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.

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Clamfight’s I vs. the Glacier: It Exists!

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 Glacier is 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.

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The Maple Forum: Clamfight’s I vs. the Glacier is in Production Now

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 I vs. the Glacier will 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.

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Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy and Clamfight Team up for a November Weekender

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.

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The Maple Forum: Clamfight Update on I vs. the Glacier Progress

Posted in Label Stuff on July 10th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Them Fighters of Clam.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.

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Visual Evidence: Clamfight and Kings Destroy Have a Badass Flyer for Their Upcoming Brooklyn Show

Posted in Label Stuff, Visual Evidence on February 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

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:

See you there.

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Clamfight Schedule Weekenders; Playing Tomorrow Night in Philly with Blue Aside and Rukut

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, Volume III. After a long several days of laying down track after track of their groove-laden thunder at New Jersey‘s infamous Gradwell House Studios, 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 New Jersey-based cohorts Rukut late this month.

Clamfight Live:
07/16 JR’s Bar Philadelphia, PA w/ Rukut, Blue Aside, Bitchslicer
07/17 Mojo 13 Wilmington, DE w/ Blue Aside, 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

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The Maple Forum: Clamfight Issue Studio Update on Recording Volume III

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 (, 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

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Live Review: Clamfight in Jersey, 03.19.11

Posted in Label Stuff, Reviews on March 22nd, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

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.

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Label Update: Clamfight’s New Album to be Released on The Maple Forum; Band Will Record in April

Posted in Label Stuff, Whathaveyou on March 16th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

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, Hellblock Six, 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.

Clamfight live:

03/19 Brighton BarLong Branch, NJ w/ Negative Sky

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audiObelisk: Stream Clamfight’s Volume I Now. Seriously. Do It.

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.

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