Demon Eye Announce Fall Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

You can hear it now in its entirety, but Demon Eye‘s Prophecies and Lies (review here) is still more than a week off from its actual US release date of Sept. 8. Does that mean you’re getting away with something hearing it early? Yeah, probably not, but whatever. The North Carolinian heavy/garage/proto/doom/and-so-on specialists always deliver in terms of songwriting and the new record’s no exception. I’m glad to see they’ll be getting out a bit and supporting the record in the coming months. It’s not a five-week, nonstop, in-the-van-on-the-road tour or anything like that, but some choice shows throughout the South and Midwest coming up between now and December, and every little bit counts.

I feel like you don’t need me to tell you things like “go see good bands,” but yeah, go see good bands. The following brief update from the PR wire tells you where this one will be available for just that purpose:

demon eye

DEMON EYE: North Carolina Occult Metal Collective Announces Fall Live Dates; Soulseller-Bound Prophecies And Lies Full-Length To See North American Release Next Month

Occult metal collective DEMON EYE will embark on a bout of live performances through Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, and their home state of North Carolina this fall. The band’s latest run of dates come in conjunction with the release of their newest full-length, Prophecies And Lies.

Out now in Europe, Prophecies And Lies was captured by Corrosion Of Conformity’s Mike Dean and finds DEMON EYE’s fiery fusion of heavy classic rock, proto metal, and traditional doom at its most intense to date. A monolithic display of mighty riffs, haunting melodies, and fist-raising anthems, DEMON EYE conjures vintage, heavy darkness for modern day evils.

Prophecies And Lies will be released in North America on September 8th. For US CD preorders go to THIS LOCATION. For US LP preorders go to THIS LOCATION. For orders outside of the US, go HERE.

DEMON EYE:
9/29/2017 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
9/30/2017 The Taphouse – Norfolk, VA w/ The Norfolk Nightmares
10/04/2017 Neptune’s – Raleigh, NC w/ Man Forever
11/15/2017 The Garage – Winston Salem, NC w/ Lords Of Mace
11/16/2017 Howlers – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Horehound
11/17/2017 Small’s – Detroit, MI
11/18/2017 Taps Live – Indianapolis, IN w/ Karma To Burn
12/01/2017 Snug Harbor – Charlotte, NC

http://www.facebook.com/demoneyenc
http://www.demoneye.bandcamp.com
http://www.demoneyeofficial.com
http://www.soulsellerrecords.com

Demon Eye, Prophecies and Lies (2017)

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Six Dumb Questions with Demon Eye

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on August 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

demon-eye-photo-ken-trousdell

Over the course of three albums, North Carolinian four-piece Demon Eye have evolved a notably crisp, efficient and standout method of constructing memorable songs, and as it should, their latest offering marks the pinnacle of their achievement in this to-date. Out Aug. 11 via Soulseller Records, the 11-track Prophecies and Lies (review here) is the proverbial lean and mean execution of classic-influenced heavy rock given a modern aesthetic update. Marked out by the stylized dynamic between vocalist/guitarist Erik Sugg, lead guitarist Larry Burlison and the driving forward rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Paul Walz and drummer/vocalist Bill Eagen, Demon Eye‘s work stems from a core master plan dedicated to building an individualized sound around familiar structures, which is something neither easy to do nor often done as naturally as the Raleigh natives make it seem they’re doing it.

Veterans twice over of the Maryland Doom Fest and having earned a reputation for a particularly energetic delivery there and on just about every other stage they’ve taken, Demon Eye hit the studio this time around with founding Corrosion of Conformity bassist/vocalist Mike Dean at the helm. Dean‘s recordings often carry a distinct tonal sharpness, an edge that pervades the sound, and this suits the finished product of Prophecies and Lies in style and substance alike. Tempo shifts in cuts like “In the Spider’s Eye” and the engaging swing of “The Redeemer” are brought forth with underlying structural purpose as well as atmospheric breadth stemming not from self-indulgent meandering but from the tones, melodies and hooks that have become so much the staples of Demon Eye‘s approach.

Ahead of the release later this week, Sugg was kind enough to take some time out to discuss the band’s writing modus, their time in the studio with Dean, how Demon Eye feel about what they’ve accomplished three records into their ongoing tenure and more. Their release show for Prophecies and Lies takes place in Raleigh, NC, on Aug. 18 with Captain Beyond. More info on that can be found on the Thee Facebooks event page.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

demon eye prophecies and lies

When did the writing process start for Prophecies and Lies? Tell me about how the songs came together. Was there anything in particular you were looking to accomplish coming off of Leave the Light?

Generally most of our riffing is done individually. The classic, “dudes playing guitar alone in their bedrooms”-deal. But for the process with this album, one standout memory was when we were driving up to New England for a fest performance. Along the way we stayed in a Super 8 somewhere in Maryland and wrote a lot of ideas right there in the hotel room. Most of what was written that night ended up being what you hear on the record. Somewhere I still have the complimentary Super 8 notepad with all of the ideas written out. They have hilarious working titles, like “Erik’s Spidery Riff in D,” “Uncle Larry’s Acid in E,” “Voivod in G,” etc.

In terms of trying new things from the previous records, we wanted to try different dynamics with the music, like changing things rhythmically and structurally, while also making sure it still sounded like a Demon Eye record. We didn’t want people to listen to the new album and go, “Oh, this is their prog record.” For the first album there were a lot of occult/witchcraft themes. As the main songwriter for the band, that’s something I wanted to steer from. I enjoy that sort of thing and probably always will, but I didn’t want to pigeonhole us as being just another band who does that sort of thing.

Songwriting is always the element of Demon Eye’s work that strikes me the most. Do you have a specific approach to putting pieces together to make songs, or a general guiding philosophy for structure? Demon Eye sound like a modern band, but would you agree your songwriting might be the most classic element of what you do?

I would agree, yes. With our songs we basically just try to keep it simple and let things flow naturally. Most of our songs end up being the traditional verse/chorus/verse format. I tend to follow the philosophy of, “Why fix it if it ain’t broke?” Most of my favorite rock bands and heavy metal bands growing up did it like that. Songs like “Paranoid” and “The Prisoner” were more or less pop songs, simply by sticking to that format. Heavy pop songs, sure, but they had great hooks, powerful riffs, and well-crafted music that stayed with you and made you want to listen to them over and over again.

On the flipside of that philosophy I also love bands who write 10-20 minute epics. YOB, Sleep, and Electric Wizard are three of my favorite bands. I love their music dearly, but writing music in that style is not something I could do well. If Demon Eye ever tried to release a song like “Marrow” or “Holy Mountain” it would probably come off sounding forced and inauthentic. Maybe not, but it’s definitely not my particular comfort zone. I think it’s important to know your strengths. I believe our strengths are in the riffs, the melodies, and the basic song structures.

How was your time in the studio with Mike Dean? What is he like to work with as a producer, and what was behind your decision to have him work on the record? How long were you in the studio and what was the recording process like? What was the vibe as the album came together?

It was a total blast recording with Mike. He’s a hilarious guy with lots of energy and he works like a mad scientist. He’ll run around feeling completely inspired by one thing, then stop and shout, “Wait! Don’t do that! Forget that! Let’s try something else!” Mike’s a good friend so the vibe was very laid back. Just friends having a good time making music together. I think the overall timeline for the record, including mixing and mastering, was September of 2016 through January of 2017. Because Mike is very busy, and everyone in Demon Eye has so many different “life” obligations, we took our time and scheduled sessions pretty sporadically.

Prophecies and Lies is the third Demon Eye album. How do you feel about everything the band has been able to accomplish up to this point in your career? How do you feel about the audience you’ve been able to build and the response you’ve gotten live and to the three records?

Not to sound like a Pollyanna, but I am immensely grateful for all that we have. Our fanbase, the positive reviews, the opportunities we’ve been granted, the incredible people and bands we’ve had the chance to meet, etc. All of it. The thing with Demon Eye is that, in the beginning, we had zero intentions of doing anything outside of writing a few tunes and playing locally on occasion in front of like 20 of our friends. That was all we envisioned.

When our initial demo was recorded and put online, and then all the Internet activity and positive response came about (not to mention the record deal offer), we barely had time to process all of it. We were like, “Huh? This is really happening?!” It was very humbling. Sure, there’s more we’d like to do (like playing overseas and playing bigger fests), but we’re not the kind of guys who get bummed over what’s not happening. We are happy and grateful for what we do have, and it’s actually quite a lot. I look forward to doing more of what we’re doing now. More records, more performances, and meeting more amazing people.

Let’s talk lyrics. As a lyricist, do you see yourself more as telling a story or describing a theme? How much of Demon Eye’s lyrics are metaphors for real-world issues? You’ve delved into some pretty dark territory over the course of the albums. What has this allowed you to express, and how important do you feel the lyrics are to Demon Eye’s overall aesthetic?

It’s funny, because when I listen to my favorite bands the lyrics are typically the last thing I pay attention to. But with Demon Eye, I do take the lyrics seriously and feel they are important. For the last few records I have found myself focusing more on real-world issues.

If you play in a band that prefers darker song content, there is no shortage of material in the world today. Some days I’ll simply read the news and see what sort of madness is happening politically in this country. Sometimes I’ll find myself opening my perspective and seeing the evils that innocent people across the globe are forced to endure.

I used to work with children, and it was pretty sobering meeting a young mother who recently fled Syria with her two young daughters, only to arrive in America in time for a proposed ban on immigration. Those types of situations really make me think about the darker side of human nature and how it affects people who don’t deserve it.

Also, I don’t really talk about it much in interviews, but I’ve also dealt with a lot of mental illness and substance abuse issues in my life. After putting a lot of care into my health throughout the past decade (sobriety, lifestyle changes, etc.), it’s granted me the opportunity to explore things with a fresher perspective, and naturally, songwriting provides you with the chance to express yourself.

One thing I always try to do, though, is to make Demon Eye’s song content as universal as I possibly can. I try to think, “Now what would someone want to raise their fist and shout along to?” It may not always come out as intended, but it is something I strive for.

Demon Eye toured the West Coast in 2016 and has played Maryand Doom Fest two years in a row now Any plans, shows coming up or other closing words you want to mention?

Our record release show for Prophecies and Lies will be on Aug. 18 at the Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh, NC, with Captain Beyond. We are honored to celebrate the release of this album with such a legendary band. During the latter part of the year we are planning on heading throughout the Midwest again, and we also want to hit the Northeast and make our way south throughout Texas. We sincerely appreciate everyone’s support and hope that we have the chance to meet all of you in person!

Demon Eye, Prophecies and Lies (2017)

Demon Eye on Thee Facebooks

Demon Eye on Bandcamp

Demon Eye website

Soulseller Records website

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Review & Track Premiere: Demon Eye, Prophecies and Lies

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

demon eye prophecies and lies

[Click play above to stream ‘The Redeemer’ from Demon Eye’s new album, Prophecies and Lies, out Aug. 11 on Soulseller Records.]

North Carolinian double-guitar doom-rocking four-piece Demon Eye have been up front all along. Really. Since the band made their debut on Soulseller Records with 2014’s Leave the Light (review here), they’ve made no effort to mask where they’re coming from in terms of blending the ways of modern garage doom and classic ’70s heavy rock, bridging a gap between Uncle Acid and Pentagram, with KISS hooks and early Rush shuffle and Judas Priest metallurgy thrown in for good measure. Prophecies and Lies is their third outing for Soulseller behind 2015’s Tempora Infernalia (review here) and it pairs the band with founding Corrosion of Conformity bassist/vocalist Mike Dean as producer, resulting in the tightest incarnation of their sound to-date.

Songwriting has always been a feature of their work, but to hear them groove their way through “Dying for It” or the swaggering “The Redeemer,” their path of development seems to have taken another forward step in efficiency even from where it was two years ago, and as the returning lineup of guitarist/vocalist Erik Sugg, lead guitarist Larry Burlison, bassist/vocalist Paul Walz and drummer/vocalist Bill Eagen dig into the cowbell and dual leads of “Vagabond,” the motor-riffing of “In the Spider’s Eye” or the crisp ’70s proto-metallic starts and stops in the verses of “The Redeemer,” it’s their penchant for memorable choruses that unites Prophecies and Lies across its 11 tracks/42 minutes, so that the record flows consistently despite its primary impression being as a showcase for its individual pieces.

It is in that that Demon Eye are perhaps at their most loyal to classic notions of what an album is, and again, they’ve yet to bring it to such realized fruition as they do here, having their cake and eating it too as they tie the standout hooks of the Wino-style-riffed “Politic Divine” together with “The Waters and the Wild” through a consistency of approach and tone. The latter cut opens Prophecies and Lies with a forceful introductory wash of cymbals and thuds behind its first riff — a subtle introduction to the course of what’s to follow — and soon enough is galloping through its first verse. Already — less than a minute in — Demon Eye have given crucial signals to their audience of their intentions and the methods they’ll use to convey them throughout the album that follows. “The Waters and the Wild” trades between its gallop and a more rolling chorus, stepping aside for a nodding bridge in its second half leading to a solo section and final run through the hook. Clean, crisp, refreshing. Nothing spare to it. And that’s how they’ll continue to operate as “In the Spider’s Eye,” “The Redeemer,” “Kismet,” “Infinite Regress” and “Dying for It” complete a Side A evenly split in 21-minute increments with the second half still to come.

demon eye

Some groups just have an innate sense of structure. Demon Eye would seem to be such a band, but as listening back to Leave the Light or Tempora Infernalia shows, they also work at it, and that work is paying off here, whether it’s in their ability to pull off the sudden doomly slowdown in “In the Spider’s Eye” or in the way “Kismet,” with no major change in its overall sound or feel, seems to become anthemic simply by matching Sugg‘s and Burlison‘s guitars in quick lead sections. Every flourish, every nuance on Prophecies and Lies, from the turn into a calming presence for “Infinite Regress” to the all-out double-time hi-hat from Eagen on “Dying for It,” serves a purpose, and that willfulness of execution underscores both the clear effort Demon Eye have made to advance themselves stylistically and the organic place from which their impulse toward structure comes.

One guitar, Walz‘s bass, the other guitar and the drums as the final component lead the way into “Politic Divine” at the start of side B, a lyrical reference to a thunder god soon to follow as Sugg‘s layered vocals tie terrestrial concerns to spooked-out themes in classic metal fashion. I don’t know how thematic Prophecies and Lies is meant to be as a whole, but this too is an example of how Demon Eye have grown over the last couple years, since as “Politic Divine” finishes and “Power of One” immediately picks up on the next beat — the two obviously meant to be taken as a pair — the examining of social themes, even couched in metaphor, comes across as a newer or at least more-focused-on idea for the band. That is to say, while they may have been offering similar commentary in the past, the way they’re doing so in these tracks is clearer about what it wants to say and the judgment it’s making. A clue to the album’s title, which also blends the ethereal and the worldly? Maybe.

In either case, Demon Eye remain as clear-headed as ever throughout those two, the Maiden-esque “Vagabond,” the spoken-word-over-quieter-fare title-track — consider it a mirror in purpose to side A’s penultimate cut in “Infinite Regress,” but more fleshed out — and seven-minute closer and longest inclusion “Morning’s Son,” which uses its extra space to compel the band into a well-earned grandiose finish, marked by keyboard flourish and a cymbal wash to bookend that which started “The Waters and the Wild.”

The more one digs into the details of Prophecies and Lies, the more there is to find that reinforces the idea of how sure their foundation and delivery has become, and the final crashes from Eagen are a last-minute reminder from Demon Eye that while they may be writing individual songs that work very much on that level — that is, you could pull just about any of them from its surroundings, even “Infinite Regress” and “Prophecies and Lies,” and make it a single — there is a larger purpose at work in making them function together as a single, fluid entity. This level of construction might be the greatest achievement on Prophecies and Lies, but make no mistake, whatever else is accomplished, the album rocks and at no point fails to fully engage its audience on whatever level they might want to meet it.

Demon Eye on Thee Facebooks

Demon Eye on Bandcamp

Demon Eye website

Soulseller Records website

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Demon Eye to Release Prophecies and Lies Aug. 11; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

demon eye

Ahead of their appearance this coming weekend at Maryland Doom Fest 2017, North Carolina proto-style heavy rockers Demon Eye announce an Aug. 11 release date for their new album, Prophecies and Lies. Recorded by Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity and set for issue through Soulseller Records like the band’s preceding 2015 outing, Tempora Infernalia (review here), and their 2014 debut, Leave the Light (review here), the latest offering gets its first public preview in the opening track “The Waters and the Wild,” which you can stream at the bottom of this post.

I’m glad to say that the band’s knack for memorable songwriting seems to be intact in the new cut, and I mention same only because I’ve listened to it just once and it’s already stuck in my head. That’s kind of how Demon Eye roll.

Album details and audio came down the PR wire. Behold:

demon-eye-prophecies-and-lies

DEMON EYE – New album ‘Prophecies and Lies’ – Details and first track available

DEMON EYE are back with their third offering and another dose of their own blend of Heavy Classic Rock, Proto Metal and Traditional Doom!

“Prophecies and Lies” will be released on 11th August 2017 via Soulseller Records on CD, vinyl and in digital versions.

The new album was recorded by Mike Dean of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY in the band’s hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, and displays a strong musical progression with mighty riffs, haunting melodies and fist-raising anthems. DEMON EYE are bringing vintage heavy darkness for modern times and current day evils.

Check out the album’s opening track, “The Waters and the Wild”, at this location: https://demoneye.bandcamp.com/track/the-waters-and-the-wild

Tracklist:
1. The Waters and the Wild
2. In the Spider’s Eye
3. The Redeemer
4. Kismet
5. Infinite Regress
6. Dying For It
7. Politic Devine
8. Power of One
9. Vagabond
10. Prophecies and Lies
11. Morning’s Son

Demon Eye live:
Jun 23 Cafe 611 Frederick, MD at Maryland Doom Fest 2017

https://www.facebook.com/demoneyenc
https://demoneye.bandcamp.com
http://www.demoneyeofficial.com/
http://www.soulsellerrecords.com

Demon Eye, “The Waters and the Wild”

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Maryland Doom Fest 2017: Set Times Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

So I guess we’re pretty much ready to roll on Maryland Doom Fest 2017, right? We’ve had the lineup announced, we’ve got the schedule now. Might be another couple weeks getting t-shirts together — and hoodies; should’ve gotten a hoodie this year, which admittedly is something that occurs to one way less at the end of June than in mid-November — but then I’d say we’re about good to go. No need to wait until next summer on it. Let’s do this thing.

Maybe that’s just me being excited at the prospect of that Friday night lineup, which seems particularly strong front to back — not to take away from any of the other days, but you know I dig me some Lo-Pan — but either way, if Maryland Doom Fest‘s now-three-year tenure has been marked by anything it’s a lack of bullshit. A fervent get-down-to-business-and-kick-as-doing-it mentality. It’s perhaps the most “Maryland doom” aspect to the whole event. Maryland Doom Fest 2017 is clearly no different. Here we are more than half a year from the event kicking off and I know what time I need to be there on Thursday to watch Spillage start the pre-party. This is information I’m glad to have.

If your calendar isn’t marked yet, you might want to get on that:

maryland-doom-fest-2017-poster

The Maryland Doom Fest 2017

June 23, 2017 – June 25, 2017

Cafe 611
611 N Market St, Frederick, Maryland 21701

ROSTER SLOT TIMES

**PRE FEST PARTY THURS JUNE 22
• Valkyrie 1150 – 1250
• Beastmaker 1055 – 1140
• Pilgrim 1000 – 1045
• Borracho 915 – 950
• Weed Is Weed 830 – 905
• Sweet Heat 745 – 820
• Spillage 700 -735

FRIDAY JUNE 23
• Captain Beyond 1240 – 150
• Lo-Pan 1140 – 1230
• Apostle of Solitude 1050 – 1130
• Earthride 1000 – 1040
• Beelzefuzz 910 – 950
• Wretch 820 – 900
• Demon Eye 735 –810
• Brimstone Coven 650 – 725
• Black Manta 605 – 640
• Sierra 515 – 555

SATURDAY JUNE 24
• The Skull 1245 – 150
• Bang! 1140 – 1235
• Wo Fat 1050 – 1130
• The Well 1000 – 1040
• The Watchers 910 – 950
• Hollow Leg 825 – 900
• Iron Man 740 – 815
• Dark Music Theory 655 – 730
• War Injun 610 – 645
• Thonian Horde 525 – 600
• Witches of God 440 – 515
• Black Tar Prophet 355 – 430
• Conclave 305 – 345

SUNDAY JUNE 25
• Headliner 1140 – 1245
• The Atomic Bitchwax 1045 -1130
• Serpents of Secrecy 955 – 1035
• Lightning Born 905 – 945
• Lifetime Shitlist 815 – 855
• Akris 730 – 805
• Burn Thee Insects 645 – 720
• Faith In Jane 600 – 635
• Cavern 515 – 550
• Old Blood 430 – 505
• Horehound 345 – 420

TICKET SALES START JAN 1st !!

https://www.facebook.com/The-maryland-DOOM-Fest-815331421863100/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1794418777500202/
http://www.themarylanddoomfest.com/

Earthride, Live at Jason McCash Benefit, 2014

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2016 Night One

Posted in Reviews on June 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest poster

It was a hell of a ride, and by that I mean I sat in traffic from about 8:30 in the morning until I walked into Cafe 611 in Frederick, Maryland, just in time for the start of the first band at 5:15PM. I soon found that my plan to not wear the supportive boot for my continuing ankle pain was, let’s say, ambitious. Basically I couldn’t stand up for more than like five minutes at a time. Fortunately the boot was in the car. Then my camera broke.

This is the part where normally I’d say “some you win, some you lose,” but the quality of the first night of Maryland Doom Fest 2016 — the second edition of the festival put on by JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank; still kicking myself for missing it last year — was such that I couldn’t really feel too down about any of the above, except perhaps the camera, which served me well for half a decade and hopefully I’ll be able to have fixed in the near term, no doubt at significant cost. Not for this weekend, though. Bummer.

Well. Now that I think I’ve gotten all or at least most of the bitching out of the way, we can get down to business. Like I said, I watched from the first band on, as much as I was able, and got pictures on my phone after the camera went down. I did the best I could.

Alright, here goes:

Black Urn

black urn (photo by JJ Koczan)

Clearly a trial by fire for the room. Some fests might try to ease the audience into the event; Maryland Doom Fest 2016 not so much. Philadelphia’s Black Urn would wind up being the most extreme band of the night, digging their way into vicious sludge metal topped by growls and screams exclusively, proffered through two guitars finding balance in the mix with bass that seemed utterly dominant at first but soon enough evened out. That kind of stuff runs the risk of coming across as samey when you don’t know the songs — they have a 2015 demo and a 2016 EP, The Pangs of Our Covenant, out, but this was my first exposure to them — but Black Urn knew when to change the pace up, and their faster parts had a heavy rock edge to them that set well alongside the grueling brutalities they fostered otherwise. Plus vocalist John Jones wore an Iron Monkey t-shirt, and that’s just about always going to earn some extra points in my book.

Atala

atala (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Californian heavy atmospheric doom rockers were a treat for anyone who showed up early, playing through a considerable investment portfolio of amplification, fresh-looking Oranges and Sunn for the guitar of Kyle Stratton and the bass of John Chavarria, while drummer Jeff Tedtaotao punctuated the massive rolling grooves elicited from them. They’d been on tour for about a week supporting the recently-released, Billy Anderson-produced Shaman’s Path of the Serpent (stream here; review here), and “Gravity” was a highlight of the set, which rightly focused on the new album and its ambient largesse, in which one can hear shades of anything from YOB to Neurosis to Deftones in Stratton‘s vocals to Tool in some of their quiet, winding parts. It’s a varied blend, and they can make it move as well when they want, but they were impressively fluid front to back, and seemed most at home with the three of them locked into any number of lumbering progressions, of which they offered plenty.

Admiral Browning

admiral browning (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve been watching Admiral Browning play shows for more than a decade. I say this not to brag about having seen the band a bunch of times, but to emphasize the point that when they take a given stage, I still don’t know what to expect. Oh, you can be sure that guitarist Matt LeGrow, bassist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis and drummer Tim Otis will offer dizzying technicality and frenetic groove, but just where they might take that is perpetually up in the air. Their 2015 tape EP, Corvette Summer (review here), found them experimenting further with incorporating vocals into their long-instrumentally-focused sound, and it worked. At Maryland Doom Fest 2016, it wasn’t a question. Both LeGrow and McGinnis had mics and used them liberally. I’ll admit it was a somewhat jarring sight — as I said, they were strictly instrumental for a long time — but they’ve developed relentlessly over their years together, and that process obviously continues unabated. Nothing new to say I’m looking forward to what they do next, but it’s true all the same. Way underappreciated band.

Demon Eye

demon eye (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Probably should’ve seen these cats by now. Led by guitarist/vocalist Erik Sugg, North Carolina’s Demon Eye have been tearing it up on the Eastern Seaboard for the last couple years, also journeying west this past April to tour alongside Disenchanter in support of their second record, 2015’s Tempora Infernalia (review here), and after hearing such encouraging things about their stage presence, yeah, it felt overdue. Sugg was indeed very much in the lead position, bantering with the crowd between songs, headbanging and stomping in classic rock style, backed by drummer Bill Egan on vocals and lead guitarist Larry Burlison while Paul Walz‘s Rickenbacker tied it all together in the low end. They opened with “End of Days” and closed with “Sons of Man,” both from the new record, but “From Beyond” from 2014’s Leave the Light (review here) was a highlight as well, their songs upbeat. In my notes, it just says “ace songwriting,” so we’ll leave it at that, and while I’ll admit some of their cult themes leave me a little cold, both their craft and the energy of their performance are absolutely undeniable.

Pale Divine

pale divine (Photo by JJ Koczan)

With guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey both now in Beelzefuzz and bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis sharing his time with Admiral Browning and several other projects, Pale Divine has kind of become a part-time institution, but in all the years I’ve seen them — I think the first time was in Philly with The Hidden Hand, circa ’04 — they’ve never failed to deliver on their particular kind of woeful traditional doom. Though they’re not actually from the state, they were a perfect centerpiece for Maryland Doom Fest 2016’s first night, and the assembled crowd, younger and older, showed their appreciation duly. As I was dealing with my just-busted camera, I’ll admit my attention was somewhat divided, but Pale Divine don’t screw around on stage, and they closed their set playing something they’ve never played before. Diener gave the title but of course I missed it, in the back fumbling with the camera battery and lens as I was, sadly to no avail. The doom felt perhaps even more appropriate in such a context.

Ruby the Hatchet

ruby the hatchet (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Philly-region five-piece Ruby the Hatchet are on something of a mini-tour this week, up the Northeast in the formidable company of Black Mountain. Not at all their first run in support of last year’s way-right-on Valley of the Snake (review here), but they’ve also reissued their first record, Ouroboros, on vinyl through Tee Pee Records, and I’d imagine when the chance to do shows with a group like Black Mountain crops up, or to, say, play Maryland Doom Fest 2016 on the night The Obsessed are headlining, it’s a thing you do your best to make happen. Starting off their set with the memorable “Heavy Blanket” from Valley of the Snake, they jammed profusely and featured what I think might be the weekend’s only on-stage organ, so bonus points there. Vocalist Jillian Taylor was in firm command on stage, her vocals run through a close delay for a live-doubletracking effect that only made their cultistry seem more resonant. Taylor, together with bassist Lake Muir, guitarist John Scarperia, drummer Owen Stewart and organist Sean Hur, have pretty clearly mastered the post-Uncle Acid blend of hooks and bounce, and set about reshaping them to suit their own melodic purposes. One expects that will be a process that plays out over the next several years/albums, but they were impressively tight and for my first time seeing them, I was glad I finally did.

Castle

castle (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Speaking of bands I should’ve seen before — as I realize I have a couple times at this point — fucking Castle. The hard-touring San Francisco outfit sounded so much like a group used to being on the road. Some bands just develop that thing. They show up in a room, assess the place, the people, the sound, say, “Okay, we can kick ass here,” and then do. That’s exactly what Castle did. They’re the kind of band who could make you believe in heavy metal. A lot of what they played was new — they’re touring to herald the arrival of their new album, Welcome to the Graveyard, which is out July 12 on Ván Records — and their righteously individualized blend of thrash, traditional metal, doom, heavy rock and roll, etc., speaks to some mystical bygone era when metal was about not compromising, putting a fist in the air against expectation and going on tour forever. Castle were so deep into what they were doing that I think they could’ve been anywhere and it would’ve been the same, that trance taking hold early on as they locked in and holding sway for the duration of their set, which seemed short when it was over. They’ve made themselves pretty available for in-person experience over the years, and now I understand why. I don’t think it’s really possible to get them until you see them live. I’m late to the party on that one, I know, but they didn’t seem to care if it was somebody’s first time, fifth time, or however-manyeth time seeing them. Everyone got their ass handed to them equally.

Internal Void

internal void (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Not to toot my own horn, but I said not too long ago that if you get the chance to see Internal Void, you should do it, and their hour-long set at Cafe 611 only affirmed the truth of that. The four-piece of vocalist J.D. Williams, guitarist Kelly Carmichael, bassist Adam Heinzmann and drummer Brian Goad packed out the room shoulder to shoulder and were clearly as glad to see the hometown crowd as the hometown crowd was to see them, even before Carmichael started shredding out solos, before Williams widened his eyes and loosed his gravely sneer, and before they brought out original drummer Eric Little to play a couple cuts from 1993’s Standing on the Sun, marking the first time that album’s full lineup had shared the stage in 23 years. With their own banner behind them, Internal Void epitomized Maryland doom. Their workingman’s grooves, classic edge and sans-bullshit delivery spoke to everything that has allowed the scene in and around Frederick to flourish for the last three decades to where it is now and where it’s headed in the future. Last time I saw Internal Void was at the Afterburner for Roadburn 2012, and several others remarked that it had been several years since they last played, so that might well have been their most recent show. Either way, they brought it hard for the Maryland Doom Fest 2016 crowd and were a joy to watch. If you get the chance to see them, do it. Don’t hesitate.

The Obsessed

the obsessed (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not sure anyone would’ve been a better fit to headline Maryland Doom Fest than The Obsessed. I mean that wholeheartedly. Their legacy as a band — only more so now that guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich has brought in his Spirit Caravan bandmate Dave Sherman (recent interview here) on bass/backing vocals, alongside new drummer Brian Costantino — is so tied to that of Maryland doom that you just don’t have the one without the other. Their set might be considered a victory lap for the month-long tour they just did with Karma to Burn (who also play this weekend) as much as a precursor to their hitting the studio with Frank “The Punisher” Marchand in a couple weeks to record their first album since 1994. In addition to The Obsessed staples “Neatz Brigade,” “Streamlined,” “Protect and Serve” and “Blind Lightning,” they worked in a couple Spirit Caravan cuts, among them “Retroman” and the ultra-rolling “Sea Legs.” It was late, and the room began to thin out some as they made their way toward the close of the evening with “Freedom,” but in giving a look at some newer material with the speedy “Be the Night” and the more expansive “Sacred” (which has been kicking around Spirit Caravan sets for a few years now and has older roots), The Obsessed looked ahead in addition to celebrating their legacy, and that seemed no less appropriate. Even after Internal Void, they held the room wrapt, and there was zero doubt to whom the night ultimately belonged.

Next show starts in a little over an hour, so I gotta get moving. No extra pics on account of the broken camera, but thanks for reading anyway.

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Demon Eye and Disenchanter Announce West Coast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Portland, Oregon’s Disenchanter will welcome North Carolinian doom rockers Demon Eye in April for a West Coast run presented by Nanotear Booking. To my knowledge, it marks Demon Eye‘s first trip out west, and for Disenchanter, it follows an EP compilation released on NoSlip Records and the announcement that they’ll take part in Psycho Las Vegas in August.

Demon Eye, meanwhile, will also play Maryland Doom Fest 2016 in June. Their second album, Tempora Infernalia (review here), was issued last year on Soulseller Records and they’ve supported it since playing local shows with the likes of Acid King and Pentagram. Guitarist/vocalist Erik Sugg was also recently announced as having joined Lightning Born, whose lineup features, among others, C.O.C. bassist Mike Dean.

More on that as I hear it. Here are the tour dates and more info:

demon eye disenchanter new poster

Our West Coast tour with Disenchanter will be happening soon! A huge thanks to Nanotear Booking!

Coming up in April: Demon Eye and Disenchanter West Coast tour!

The stars have aligned

Formed in May of 2011, rising from the ashes of the black machine, invoked after many moons, Disenchanter is a heavy rock band riding the currents of doom, casting riffs of rock, and melding the elixirs of metal to bring forth a fantasy of sci-fi wrapped in a stoner groove!

Demon Eye’s heavy grooves and thunder rhythms channel the doom and crush of Black Sabbath and Pentagram, and the fist banging shred of early ‘Maiden. The band has received international recognition for their highly acclaimed songcraft and their stunning live performances. Demon Eye remains hellbent on bringing their hook-laden, dark riffin’ songcraft to fans far and wide.

4/14 Seattle, WA – Highline
4/15 Portland, OR – High Water Mark
4/16 Grant’s Pass, OR – The Haul
4/17 Sacramento, CA – Blue Lamp
4/18 Pacifica, CA – Winter’s Tavern
4/19 San Jose, CA – The Caravan
4/20 Los Angeles, CA – Complex
4/21 San Diego, CA – Kensington Club
4/22 Los Osos, CA – Sweet Springs Saloon
4/23 Oakland, CA – Oakland Metro

https://www.facebook.com/demoneyenc/
https://demoneye.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DisenchanterPDX/
http://disenchanter.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Nanotear/

Demon Eye, Tempora Infernalia (2015)

Disenchanter, Strange Creatures (2015)

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Maryland Doom Fest 2016 Announces Complete Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

maryland-doom-fest-logo

The 2016 edition of the Maryland Doom Fest will take place June 24, 25 and 26 at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD. You might recall late in 2014, when the initial word surfaced about the festival’s inaugural billing, it was a complete lineup announced, date, and place, all done straightforward in the tradition of the style being celebrated. In that regard, 2016 will be no different. Festival organizers JB Matson (also of War Injun) and Mark Cruikshank have unveiled the complete Maryland Doom Fest 2016 lineup, and while the core remains very much in the region’s sphere of heavy downer riffs, the palette has clearly expanded as well.

A broader reach pulls in the likes of Mos Generator, Ruby the Hatchet and Hollow Leg, and while headliners Spirit Caravan are a returning act from the 2015 fest, they’ll be joined by classic heavy rockers Bang and Asylum (Unorthodox by their original name), ensuring that even as the Maryland Doom Fest 2016 reveres its finest exports, it pays strict attention to the lineage from where it all comes and the hometown crowd too. All told, it’s a wide-ranging but universally heavy grouping of bands, from the epic classic metal of Argus to the cult rock of Demon Eye, and while realistically there will probably be a shift or two in the lineup between now and next June — things fall through, people get added, and so on — it looks like it’s going to be a hell of a weekend. If and when I hear of changes, I’ll let you know.

Tickets are on sale today, and I’m honored to have my logo on the poster. Full lineup and links follow:

maryland doom fest 2016

The second edition of a weekend of doom in its purest form.

We are stoked about the second installment of The Maryland Doom Fest with 25 kickass bands!

Tickets sales begin on Monday.

The official Maryland Doom Fest web page will be up and running soon at www.themarylanddoomfest.com

Tickets are on sale now: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-maryland-doom-fest-2-weekend-passes-2016-tickets-18924966083

Spirit Caravan
BANG
Asylum (Unorthodox)
Argus
War Injun
Orodruin
Blackfinger
Kelly Carmichael (Internal Void) New Project
Earthen Grave
Black Urn
Doperider
Mos Generator
Hollow Leg
Ruby The Hatchet
Admiral Browning
Pale Divine
Toke
Flummox
Demon Eye
Wicked Inquisition
Seasick Gladiator
Karma to Burn
Eternal Black
King Giant
Spillage
Wasted Theory

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-maryland-doom-fest-2-weekend-passes-2016-tickets-18924966083
https://www.facebook.com/events/864772630244169/
https://www.facebook.com/The-maryland-DOOM-Fest-815331421863100/
www.themarylanddoomfest.com

Asylum, “Unseen World” Live at Maryland Doom Fest 2015

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