Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2019 Pre-Fest, 06.20.19

Posted in Reviews on June 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest shod preparty poster

One could go on at some length about the legacy of the Stoner Hands of Doom Festival, which, like much of the pre-social-media universe, feels like part of some bygone era, when in fact the last edition was held in 2013. The Maryland Doom Fest 2019 pre-fest party — which I’ll only argue with because, really, when you have nine bands playing, that’s a festival one way or the other — was co-billed as SHoD XX in honor of the 20th anniversary of that fest’s first edition in 1999. Two of the bands on the evening’s bill were actually there in Virginia and Maryland on that weekend — Solace and WarHorse — but everyone who took the stage at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD, was a veteran of it one way or the other. Slow Horse and Tummler remain sadly unaccounted for.

SHoD traveled — that first Arizona lineup is legendary — but spent a few pivotal years in Frederick down the road at what used to be Krug’s Place, and in both mission and manifestation, there isn’t a better festival to inherit the mantle than Maryland Doom Fest, though at the same time, it’s never been so plain just how much MDDF has come onto its own and found its place among the wider festival sphere. The WarHorse reunion is a coup, but for the greater incorporation of Guido’s as a second venue and the expansion to four days, Maryland Doom Fest has expanded its reach across borders and styles in a way that has only added to and enriched its original purpose. Earthride headlining tied it all together as only they possibly could.

It was a 5:30 start and I rolled into the venue about half an hour before that. Already, familiar faces were in ample supply, and they’d only be more so over the course of the evening. I have the feeling it’s going to be that kind of weekend. Right on.

The night went like this:

After the Sun

After the Sun (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Along with Earthride and Solace (who were two for two at that point), Ohio’s After the Sun played SHoD in 2000, the same year they formed. They’d return in 2001 as well. Given their style, it’s pretty notable that they’re actually not from Maryland itself, as their traditional take on doom definitely seemed to have been born of an awareness of the likes of The ObsessedPentagramUnorthodox, and so on. After putting out an EP in 2001, they released their first full-length just last year in the form of a seven-song self-titled, and they served it well live, making a highlight out of “Delusion of Sanity” late in the set. They had a new short release, The Demise, out for the festival, and were solid, workingman’s doom rock, the guttural belt-out of vocalist Doug Perry recalling earlier metallic grit while the chug of Lance Collier‘s bass and Rob Perkins‘ guitar and the thud of Bryan Kaiser‘s drums provided suitable backing for such conviction. The fact that they’ve released more music in the last nine months than in the prior 17 years shouldn’t be lost, and one has to wonder what their future plans are with this feeling very much like a return set, on-stage altar and all.

Freedom Hawk

Freedom Hawk (Photo by JJ Koczan)

This band just rocks. It hasn’t been that long since the last time I saw them, and they were still one of the sets for which I was most excited. There’s no bullshit to Freedom Hawk. They’ve got the songs. They plug in and kick ass and then they’re done. Five records deep, they know they’re doing it right and they play with that conviction. “Blood Red Sky,” “Lost in Space,” “Solid Gold,” “The Darkness and the Light,” “Radar,” “Executioner” and “Indian Summer” made for a quick set that seemed even faster than it was, but the Virginia Beach four-piece very obviously made the most of their time. I still have “Indian Summer” stuck in my head, if that’s any indication. Freedom Hawk only played the final Stoner Hands of Doom in 2013, which was held in Richmond, Virginia, and saw fest-organizers Rob and Cheryl Levey hand the reins to Brendan Burns (who at the time ran the Eye of the Stoned Goat festival), but any excuse to have them in just about any lineup is cool as far as I’m concerned. They’re just doing a weekender around Maryland Doom Fest, but they absolutely brought it like they’d been on the road for weeks.

Weed is Weed

Weed is Weed (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Double-duty Sherman! And on guitar, no less! With Gary Isom playing drums! With the incense-burning bong-shaped mic stand present and accounted for, Earthride frontman Dave Sherman took the stage with the three-guitar riff machine Weed is Weed to bask in crunchy nodder vibes and, as they always seem to do, have a really good time. I’ve been lucky enough to see them a couple times now — always in Maryland — and I don’t think they’ve ever had the same lineup twice. Sherman playing guitar was a nice touch, and Isom‘s move back to drums (from guitar) was of course nothing to complain about either. They lurched into “The Bong Remains the Same” and the eponymous “Weed is Weed” and sundry other greatest hits, and the room was with them all the way. I don’t know if they’d get the same reception anywhere else, but at Cafe 611, they were home, and it was a family atmosphere all the way through. The lights were green, and by the time they were done, they only seemed greener. If the East Coast had the Pacific region’s same proclivity for using the word “gnarly,” Weed is Weed might be the standard by which that was measured.

Deer Creek

Deer Creek (Photo by JJ Koczan)

At some point early in the set, Deer Creek guitarist/vocalist Paul Vismara noted that it was the band’s first show east of the Mississippi River in something like 17 or 18 years, and he thanked all the bands who have played their native Colorado in the meantime because, as he put it, “that’s a long fucking drive.” I believe it. Vismara — currently working on cover art for the next Solace record — and fellow guitarist Conan Hultgren, who also ran Game Two Records — the first Sourvein, the Halfway to Gone/Alabama Thunderpussy split, releases from Pale Divine, Negative Reaction, etc. — led the four-piece through a round of massively-riffed tonal plunge, a noisy, sludgy aggression cutting through the thickness of Hultgren‘s and Paul Vismara‘s guitars and Stephanie Hopper‘s bass, set to roll from drummer Marc Brooks. Their late-2018 EP, Quisling, wanted nothing for atmospherics, and their live presentation had that same sense of open-space, but neither was the impact neglected, the band hitting hard and locking into raw doom and sludge with an abandon more willful than reckless and a focus on mood that no one else would touch for the remainder of the evening.

Devil to Pay

Devil to Pay (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I know Indianapolis’ Devil to Pay played SHoD in 2012, because I was there. It was the one in New London, Connecticut. They also played in 2004, 2007, 2009 (I was there, too), and indeed 2013, so with five appearances total, that makes them the most-SHoDded of the bands playing the first night of Maryland Doom Fest. Not a minor distinction, but of course they’ve done plenty since as well, making their debut on Ripple with 2013’s Fate is Your Muse (review here) and following it with 2016’s A Bend Through Space and Time (review here). They’re about due for a new record — though now sharing guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak with Apostle of Solitude (playing this weekend) as well as The Gates of Slumber — and indeed they had new songs called “Heave Ho” and “37 Trillion” in the set alongside favorites like “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife,” which seemed to fit well alongside their melodic, heavy and straightforwardly structured songs. Like Freedom Hawk, they’re rarely dug into frills of any kind, and it had been too long since I saw them, but they reminded of what a well-kept secret they are and gave me something to look forward to in their next record, whenever it might show up.

Wasted Theory

Wasted Theory (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Big news coming next week from Wasted Theory. I’m not going to spoil it, but it’s not a new record — according to drummer Brendan Burns that’s still in the “messing around with riffs” stage, and fair enough since they released Warlords of the New Electric (review here) just last year — but it’s big news. And cool news. You know, I don’t always get down with where Wasted Theory land in terms of theme and whatnot, but as I watched guitarist/vocalist Larry Jackson, Jr. lead the band — Burns, guitarist Andrew Petkovic, bassist Corey Pettingill — through the set, I thought back to the first time I saw them early in 2013, and the difference six years have made in their sound is huge. On every level in terms of songs and performance, they’re a more professional, realized band, and yeah, they should be with three full-lengths out, but it’s still striking just how far they’ve come and how much work they’ve put in to find their place in Southern heavy rock. They’ve locked into their niche and set about developing as players and songwriters, and despite lineup changes they’ve never done anything but move forward. Look out for that news this week and join me in being vicariously happy for the band when the time comes.

Solace

Solace (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Solace are chaos. So much chaos. From the about-to-fly-off-the-rails dual-leadwork of Justin Daniels and Tommy Southard to the fact that they had Danny Golin (Halfway to Gone) sitting in on drums for the set after only rehearsing with him twice, to frontman Justin Goins spilling all the beer, the New Jersey five-piece are barely able to be contained on a stage — and at Maryland Doom Fest, they weren’t; Goins definitely spent some time in the crowd. They started recording their new album a year ago, reportedly, and I’ve already put up I think more than one news piece about it being done, but indeed, the thing’s still in progress, but whatever they do, wherever they go, Solace bring that sense of punk-metal danger with them, and it’s not just about a threat of violence, though maybe that too, even in the one new song they played, but the material itself has this frenetic energy to it that pushes everything into the red — figuratively and literally in terms of the lighting in this case — and when their set was done, you could almost feel the crowd at Cafe 611 exhale the breath it had been holding while they played. Hey, Solace — finish the goddamn album already. The world needs more of this kind of destructive catharsis. Badly.

WarHorse

Warhorse (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Yeah, so I know Massachusetts’ WarHorse only have two shows booked — this and Psycho Las Vegas in August — but I’m going to tell you straight up that this reunion is going to have to be a real thing whether they like it or not. The offers are going to keep coming. As in: “start writing songs and get your passports ready.” Already on the lips of fest-goers since the start of the day, the trio of bassist/vocalist Jerry Orne, drummer Mike Hubbard and Terry Savastano laid waste to the room. If Solace were the bull in the china shop, WarHorse were the steamroller knocking over the building afterward. It was magnificent. I never saw them during their original run, but their lone LP, As Heaven Turns to Ash (discussed here), is the stuff of legend — especially in the Northeast — and within the first five minutes of “Horizons Burn Red,” it was obvious they need to keep going. The set was that, plus “I am Dying,” “Scrape,” “Lysergic Communion” and “Black Acid Prophecy,” and when they were done, people were shouting for more. Rightly so. You know how you’ve been listening to that record for all these years and thinking like, “Wow, this must’ve been amazing to see live?” Well, it still is. Tour, new songs, album, festivals, all of it. They sounded like a band ready to get their due.

Earthride

Earthride (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not sure how else you could hope to close out the night but with Earthride, who, again, tied together the spirit of Stoner Hands of Doom with Maryland Doom Fest perfectly. There was some problem early on with the bass rig, but it got worked out and after being introduced by drummer Eric Little‘s daughter — he looked pretty flabbergasted — they were off and rolling soon enough into the quintessential Chesapeake nod of “Something Wicked,” the title-track of their most recent album (review here), which came out in 2010. The intervening years have found vocalist Dave Sherman involved in Weed is Weed and the Spirit Caravan reunion that morphed into the current incarnation of The Obsessed, as well as other projects in the works and lineup changes in Earthride itself mostly in the bassist role — Greg Ball has handled guitar for the last several years — and true, they had the Witch Gun 7″ out in 2017, but even so, it’s time for a fourth Earthride album. I was dragging ass by the time they went on, but Earthride are kingpins of Maryland’s heavy underground and there’s nothing quite like seeing them on their home turf. As ever, I came out of doing so with no regrets whatsoever. They are a definitive band for what Maryland Doom Fest is all about.

It was, uh, late, when I got back to the AirBNB where I’m staying a few blocks away from the venue. I crashed on the futon in this room at about 2AM and was up before 7 thinking I needed to start making coffee and writing. Correct on both accounts. Today is another packed day — they all are — but it starts a little later, so I’ll see if I can’t crash for a bit this afternoon ahead of making my way over to Cafe 611 again. Also need to buy a toothbrush, so yeah, I think I’ll go do that. After I sort pictures.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Maryland Doom Fest 2019 Early-Bird Tickets Limited; Day Lineups Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest 2019 poster square

The actual schedules aren’t out yet for the four days of Maryland Doom Fest 2019, but even the day-splits for the massive lineup are good to know since this will be the first one with two venues and, thus, the first one with schedule conflicts (assuming the rooms run at the same time). That will invariably lead to some difficult choices, but so it goes in the land of doom — aka Frederick, MD. One way or another, the lineup is maddeningly good from its headliners in Pentagram, Conan, Earthride and Mothership right on down through the likes of Seasick Gladiator and Greenbeard, playing earlier in the day. But it’s good to get some basic idea of who will be where, when, because given the swath of bands, it’s going to be one to schedule where your feet are at any moment in order to miss as little as humanly possible.

By the way, how fucking awesome is the idea of Maryland Doom Fest paying homage to the 20th anniversary of the long-running/now-defunct Stoner Hands of Doom festival? That lineup could hardly be more perfect if they got Eternal Elysium over for it as SHoD once did. Especially the top three there. Unstoppable.

Here’s the info. There’s a lot of it:

Early Bird Discount Ends 12/31! THE MARYLAND DOOM FEST 2019 – 5th Anniversary – June 20th-23rd with PENTAGRAM, CONAN, EARTHRIDE, MOTHERSHIP, WARHORSE, 40+ More!

The Maryland Doom Fest celebrates its 5th anniversary this upcoming June and has confirmed FIFTY of today’s heaviest bands to grace the stages of two venues in 2019. For the first time in its history, MD Doom Fest brings international artists, the mighty CONAN from the United Kingdom and INTERITUM from Tasmania, with 48 hallowed USA acts coming from coast to coast!

In a dual-ceremonial event, the MD Doom Fest Pre-Party on Thursday, June 20th is a 20th Anniversary celebration of the Stoner Hands of Doom Festival (ShoD), with a spectacular lineup. All bands have performed at fantastic SHoD fests of years past! The Pre-Fest / SHoD 20th Anniversary Celebration will be monumental. We invite everyone to become part of the family at The Maryland Doom Fest 2019 events for #4daysofdoom!!

THE MARYLAND DOOM FEST 2019
June 20th – 23rd, 2019 + Frederick, MD

PENTAGRAM + CONAN + EARTHRIDE + MOTHERSHIP

Year Of The Cobra + Lo Pan + Freedom Hawk + Warhorse + Pale Divine + Apostle Of Solitude + Kings Destroy + Solace + Foghound + Beelzefuzz + ZED + Wasted Theory + The Age Of Truth + Atala + Toke + Backwoods Payback + Weed Is Weed + Forming The Void + Sixes + After The Sun + Shadow Witch + Faith In Jane + Clouds Taste Satanic + Pale Grey Lore + Knoxxville + Devil To Pay + Eternal Black + Thonian Horde + Kingsnake + Greenbeard + Interitum + Benthic Realm + Horehound + Funeral Horse + Thousand Vision Mist + Deer Creek + Crooked Hills + Stone Dust Riders + Thunderchief + Wolf Blood + The Druids + Atomic 26 + Dead Sisters + Seasick Gladiator + Electric Age + Temptations Wings

+++ Early Bird Discount Weekend Passes available until December 31st +++

https://www.marylanddoomfest.com/tickets/

MD Doom Fest Pre-Party
SHoD 20th Anniversary Celebration
Thursday, June 20th

+ Cafe 611 +
Earthride
Warhorse
Solace
Wasted Theory
Devil to Pay
Deer Creek
Weed is Weed
Freedom Hawk
After the Sun

DAY ONE
Friday, June 21st

+CAFE 611+
Mothership
Pale Divine
Lo Pan
Year of the Cobra
The Age of Truth
Backwoods Payback
Kingsnake
Interitum
The Druids

+GUIDO’S SPEAKEASY+
Clouds Taste Satanic
Benthic Realm
Dead Sisters
Funeral Horse

DAY TWO
Saturday, June 22nd

+CAFE 611+
Pentagram
Apostle of Solitude
Foghound
Beelzefuzz
Atala
Sixes
Forming the Void
Knoxxville
Atomic 26
Eternal Black
Greenbeard

+GUIDO’S SPEAKEASY+
Electric Age
Pale Grey Lore
Thunderchief
Seasick Gladiator
Crooked Hills

DAY THREE
Sunday, June 23rd

+CAFE 611+
Conan
ZED
Kings Destroy
Toke
Thousand Vision Mist
Horehound
Thonian Horde
Shadow Witch
Faith in Jane

+GUIDO’S SPEAKEASY+
Temptations Wings
Wolf Blood
Stone Dust Riders

Early Bird Discount Weekend Passes are available until December 31st, 2018!
(Early Bird Discount is only for Weekend Passes- $74.)

On January 1, 2019, all regular price ticket options will be available.
Weekend Passes $89. Single Night: Fri. $35 / Sat. $40 / Sun. $35
Weekend Pass holders can attend Pre-Fest/SHoD for $15 at the door, all others: $30.

https://www.facebook.com/events/371836710006412/
https://www.facebook.com/MdDoomFest/
https://www.themarylanddoomfest.com/

Apostle of Solitude, “Keeping the Lighthouse” official video

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Maryland Doom Fest 2019 Announces Lineup: Pentagram, Conan, Earthride, Mothership, Lo-Pan and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest 2019 announcement

Holy fucking shit. It’s a good thing Maryland Doom Fest 2019 isn’t until next June, because it’s going to take me that long to process how badass this lineup is. It’s like JB decided this was the year everybody plays. A fourth day has been added. A second venue has been added — it’s Cafe 611 and Guido’s Speakeasy now — and wow. Just, fucking, wow. The headliners: PentagramConanEarthride and Mothership. And the list of bands that follows is absolutely staggering. Of course some things are bound to change between now and then, and there are announcements yet to be made about the pre-show, but really. They’ve absolutely, positively gone to a completely new level of festival here.

It’s gonna be crowded.

And it’s gonna be a blast. If you need me, I’ll be booking my room at the Motel 6 in Frederick.

The announcement was simple and came just in the form of the poster — art is by Kyle Stratton, whose band Atala also make a return to the bill — and from near and far, far and wide, acts are coming in to make what looks like it’ll be an absolutely unforgettable weekend (-plus) of heavy.

Here’s the lineup:

maryland doom fest 2019 poster

MARYLAND DOOM FEST 2019 – JUNE 20-23

DOOMSTERS, GRUNGERS, SLUDGERS, STONERS, & PAGANS —

We are extremely pleased to present to you……The Maryland Doom Fest 2019 lineup!!!

50 of the heaviest, most talented bands to grace the stage.

We bring you INTERITUM from Tasmania, CONAN from England, PENTAGRAM from our soil, and an additional 47 top performing USA acts traveling from all across the continent!!

As if that’s not enough, the MDDF Pre-Fest Party will be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the SHoD (Stoner Hands of Doom) Festival with a spectacular lineup of bands who have performed at the great SHoD fests in years past!! The Pre-Fest / SHoD 20th Anniversary Celebration will be monumental in countless ways!!!!

Please support the Doom scene and share this epic event with your comrades and we will see you at #4daysofdoom !!!!

EARLY BIRD Discounted ticket sales start Dec. 17th, 2018 – for two weeks only.

This astronomical lineup and the 2019 festivities are dedicated to my very good friend and prior MDDF partner from 2015 – 2018, Mark Cruikshank!!

DooM !!! ~JB

Lineup:
Earthride
Warhorse
Solace
Wasted Theory
Devil to Pay
Deer Creek
Weed is Weed
Freedom Hawk
After the Sun
Mothership
Pale Divine
Lo Pan
Year of the Cobra
The Age of Truth
Backwoods Payback
Kingsnake
Interitum
The Druids
Clouds Taste Satanic
Benthic Realm
Dead Sisters
Funeral Horse
Pentagram
Apostle of Solitude
Foghound
Beelzefuzz
Atala
Sixes
Forming the Void
Knoxxville
Atomic 26
Eternal Black
Greenbeard
Electric Age
Pale Grey Lore
Thunderchief
Seasick Gladiator
Crooked Hills
Conan
ZED
Kings Destroy
Toke
Thousand Vision Mist
Horehound
Thonian Horde
Shadow Witch
Faith in Jane
Temptations Wings
Wolf Blood
Stone Dust Riders

https://www.facebook.com/events/371836710006412/
https://www.facebook.com/MdDoomFest/
https://www.themarylanddoomfest.com/

Earthride, Live at Maryland Doom Fest 2018

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Descendants of Crom 2018 Announces Initial Lineup with Geezer, Devil to Pay, Kind, Curse the Son, Come to Grief, Heavy Temple and Many More

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

There are still headliners to be announced and others to come as well, and no doubt between now and then there will be one or two shakeups to what’s listed here between bands being added and bands dropping off as will invariably happen, but kudos all the same to organizer Shy Kennedy for the super-early unveiling of what’s probably the bulk of the lineup for Descendants of Crom 2018, the second installment of the Pittsburgh-based heavy fest. In addition to her own band, Horehound, Kennedy has already assembled a killer roster of acts, from Heavy Temple to Come to Grief to a slew of Steel City reserves in OutsideInside, Molasses Barge and others, and even if this was going to be the ultimate shape the festival would take — that is, if no one else was going to be added, which, again, they are — you’d still have to call it a good time in the making.

If you’ve got a 2018 calendar yet, mark it. Earlybird tickets are linked below. Here’s the announcement as posted by the fest, along with a quote graciously provided by Kennedy herself:

descendants of crom 2018

Blackseed Records Presents: Descendants of Crom 2018

The Descendants of Crom 2018 will be held in Pittsburgh, PA, USA in September 2018.

Pre Gala at Howlers in the evening on Thursday, September 27th.

Full days on September 28th and 29th at Cattivo.

“Descendants of Crom has been one of the most incredibly rewarding endeavors I’ve ever been involved with,” says fest organizer Shy Kennedy. “Having so many great people working and coming together for their underground music community the way they did that day was inspiring enough to erase any doubt that it has to grow. It has to be an annual event. Next year’s event may seem far away but it lends the time to really build it and get more people aware of it. As you know, a lot of work goes into a musical festival and if you take your time, it becomes a very enjoyable task. Descendants of Crom 2018 will be here all too soon and I, for one, cannot wait!”

Once upon a time there were 17 bands who joined forces to create one killer day of live, riff-ripping performances to celebrate the great community of our heavy, underground music here in the Northeast of the United States. That time was just a couple months back in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The all day event was a great collaboration in effort by local organization, bands from the region as well as a few touring and some very generous scene contributors. It was called the Descendants of Crom. Let’s do it again!

The second annual Descendants of Crom will be held on the last weekend of September of 2018 in Pittsburgh again. This time span three days in length as we are including a Thursday evening pre gala and all day events happening Friday and Saturday. There will be over 30 bands in total coming from all over the United States with a strong regional focus.

Tickets will be offered for single day to day events or in combinations. An Early Crow ticket sale will be held for the weekend combo for a 3 month period, limited to 125. These will be live soon today.

Stay tuned to find out the bands who will be rounding out the evenings of each night as well as the completed schedule.

Today, we announce the “meat” of the Descendants of Crom. These bands are the ones supporting this scene locally, regionally and or nationally. They are strong, beautiful creators of the jam, the breakdown, the beat, and the undeniable riff… they are the Descendants of Crom:

Descendants of Crom 2018 lineup:
The Long Hunt (PGH)
JaketheHawk (PGH)
Mires (PGH)
Solarburn (PGH)
Doctor Smoke (PGH)
Fist Fight In The Parking Lot (PGH)
Thunderbird Divine
Cloud
Curse the Son
Disenchanter
Molasses Barge (PGH)
OutsideInside
Wolftooth
Sierra
Horehound (PGH)
Cavern
Doomstress
Heavy Temple
Devil to Pay
Serpents of Secrecy
Eternal Black
Demon Eye
Geezer
Kind
Freedom Hawk
Duel
Come to Grief

Headliners and sub-headliners to be announced soon.
Early Crow tickets available for all event and 2 day passes for 3 months (11/23 – 2/23).

https://www.facebook.com/DescendantsOfCrom/
https://www.facebook.com/events/177536592803763
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3186333
http://descendantsofcrom.com

Solace, Live at Descendants of Crom 2017

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Devil to Pay Premiere “The Demons Come Home to Roost” Video and Announce Tour Dates

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

devil to pay

I was curious to know how long it’d been since the last time Devil to Pay premiered a video around here. The date? Feb. 7. So, almost two months ago. That was “Kobold in the Breadbasket” (posted here), and I know I’ve said this before — because I went back and looked at the post where I said it; ha — but when it comes to the Indianapolis four-piece, I’ve got no regrets whatsoever. They keep making them I’m glad to keep posting them. I wasn’t too into the cover art for their latest album for Ripple Music, 2016’s A Bend Through Space and Time (review here), but beyond that (and it certainly wasn’t a technique issue), Devil to Pay remain a band for whom I’ve got tremendous respect.

To wit, ace songwriters who hit the road on the regular and put out record after record of air-tight heavy rock and roll? Oh, and they’ve been doing it for 15 years. I ask you, what’s not to dig about that?

This time around, it’s “The Demons Come Home to Roost” premiering a new video. It’s the last track on A Bend Through Space and Time, so after the hooks of “On and On (In Your Mind),” the brooding sleek of the aforementioned “Kobold in the Breadbasket,” the thrust and sharp turns of “Recommended Daily Dosage” and the worthy homage of “Your Inner Lemmy,” the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak, guitarist Rob Hough, bassist/backing vocalist Matt Stokes and drummer Chad Profigle dig into the seven-plus minutes of their finale. As a standout closer, “The Demons Come Home to Roost” has a bit of all of that going on, as well as a gallop all its own that starts early and arrives again late, the band smoothly nestling into a slower groove at around the halfway point only to finish at full boar with a crisp edge worthy of the craftsmanship on display throughout the album preceding.

Devil to Pay head out next month on a West Coast tour playing with some killer acts along the way — House of Broken Promises, Ripple labelmates Zed and Mothership, etc. — and you can find those dates under the video below, the weirdo combination of old movie and live footage of which already has me looking forward to the next one.

As always, I hope you enjoy:

Devil to Pay, “The Demons Come Home to Roost” official video

DEVIL TO PAY’S “DON’T GIVE AWAY THE WEST TOUR 2017”
devil to pay tour poster4/13 – Indianapolis, IN – 5th Quarter Lounge w Mothership, Astral Mass
4/20 – Chicago, IL – Reggies w Blunt, Sacred Monster
4/21 – Omaha, NE – Lookout Lounge for Stormfest 2017
4/22 – Denver, CO – Bar Bar w Chieftian, Green Druid, Never Kenezzard
4/24 – Spokane, WA – The Pin w tba
4/25 – Seattle, WA – Tim’s Tavern w KLAW, Skypenis
4/26 – Portland, OR – High Water Mark w Sleer, Heavy Baang Staang, Skulldozer
4/28 – Sacramento, CA – On the Y w Crimson Eye, Zed
4/29 – San Francisco, CA – Neck of the Woods w Zed, Lowcaster
4/30 – West Hollywood, CA – Viper Room w House of Broken Promises, High Priestess
5/01 – Las Vegas, NV – Beauty Bar w Spiritual Shepherd, Plague Doctor
5/04 – Tempe, AZ – Yucca Tap Room w Malo De Dentro, Dead Canyon
5/05 – San Angelo, TX – The Deadhorse w tba
5/06 – Oklahoma City, OK – Blue Note Lounge w Crobone, Get Fired

Devil to Pay’s music video for “the Demons Come Home to Roost.” Live performance video filmed at: the 5th Quarter Lounge, Indianapolis, IN, Radio Radio, Indianapolis, IN, the Melody Inn, Indianapolis, IN, the Pond, Franklin, TN, the Nick, Birmingham, AL. From the album “A Bend Through Space and Time” on the Ripple Music label www.ripple-music.com

Recorded & Mixed by Mike Bridavsky at Russian Recording, Bloomington IN August 2015.
Mastered by Mike Bridavsky at Russian Recording.

Devil to Pay is:
Steve Janiak – guitars/vocals
Matt Stokes – bass
Chad Prifogle – drums
Rob Hough – guitars

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Devil to Pay Premiere “Kobold in the Breadbasket” Video; Tour Dates Forthcoming

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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By my admittedly fallible count, this is the third premiere I’ve done for a video from Indianapolis heavy rockers Devil to Pay‘s latest album. And if the band’s plans for the next couple months pan out as intended, it might not be the last. No regrets. The four-piece issued their fifth full-length, A Bend Through Space and Time (review here), last year via Ripple Music, and in following up clips for “Your Inner Lemmy” (premiered here) and “On and On (In Your Mind)” (premiered here), they take to the woods for the moody “Kobold in the Breadbasket,” a somewhat slower, more languid and ultimately darker track that was nonetheless a standout from the record.

Guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak — joined in the band by guitarist Rob Hough, bassist/backing vocalist Matt Stokes and drummer Chad Profigle — calls it Sabbath-esque, and I’m not inclined to argue, but it is distinctly Devil to Pay‘s own as well, as one can hear in the brooding sensibility of his own singing and in the impression left by its chorus. The overarching groove is a nodder — as opposed to the all-out thrust of “Your Inner Lemmy,” say — but as ever, the songwriting chops ring through Devil to Pay‘s work as the defining element. It’s the nodder you’ll have stuck in your head for the rest of the day, in other words. And that’s only going to make your day better.

Devil to Pay are currently solidifying a tour set to start April 20 which Janiak notes in a quote under the video itself below. I’ll hope to have follow-up info on that — and more videos — as it and they come together, but in the meantime, if you haven’t yet checked out A Bend Through Space and Time, “Kobold in the Breadbasket” makes a considerable argument in the album’s favor and the band’s more generally, their approach to heavy rock/doom remaining underappreciated for its unwavering quality as well as its longevity — they mark their 15th anniversary as a group this month.

Bottom line? More to come from Devil to Pay in 2017, so stay tuned.

And please, enjoy:

Devil to Pay, “Kobold in the Breadbasket” official video

Steve Janiak on “Kobold in the Breadbasket”:

‘Kobold in the Breadbasket’ is our little mythological lament, a fairy tale where a farmer in another time and place inadvertently curses himself and his family. It was intended as a metaphor for mankind’s disregard for nature and penchant for ecological disaster. In keeping with the nature theme, we filmed the video in Brown County, Indiana, at the edge of a man-made lake with our good friend Jay Rich.

Our upcoming West Coast tour is currently in the works. It starts 4/20 and will be our first trip back to the coast since 2006.

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Devil to Pay, A Bend Through Space and Time: Demons Come Home

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

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“[Note: Devil to Pay’s Oct. 2016 tour dates used in place of the NSFW cover for A Bend Through Space and Time. To view the art, click here.]

The top feature of Devil to Pay‘s work has always been the songwriting. Certainly the Indianapolis-based four-piece have evolved in sound since they made their debut 12 years ago with Thirty Pieces of Silver, and found a niche for themselves in a style following two guitars that play metal and heavy rock elements off each other fluidly, but even that has always come at the service to a notion of craft. Consistency and reliability, without redundancy, can be hard to come by over time, but as Devil to Pay showed on 2013’s Ripple Music debut, Fate is Your Muse (review here), they were still moving forward as a band. A Bend Through Space and Time is their second offering through Ripple and fifth overall, and underscores similar growth.

Its 10-track/43-minute span comes encased in well-painted/politically-debatable art from W. Ralph Walters and feels more efficient than its predecessor, leaner and crisper in its style, as guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak, guitarist Rob Hough, bassist/backing vocalist Matt Stokes and drummer Chad Profigle continue to refine their methods, but a big shift can be heard in the production value throughout. Janiak, of course, splits his time in doomers Apostle of Solitude, and so a recording/mix/master job by Mike Bridavsky at Russian Recording in Bloomington, Indiana, should be recognizable to those who caught that band’s 2014 album, Of Woe and Wounds (review here), and one can hear a similar sense of room in side A’s “Laughingstock” here, as well as a likeness in the presentation of the drums.

All told, Bridavsky‘s contributions become part of the story of A Bend Through Space and Time, along with the fleet-footed jumps between different sides of the band’s stylistic meld. Bend breaks evenly into two vinyl sides, and each one starts off with a raucous, fast punch — “On and On (In Your Mind)” (video here) opening the first half with an insistent push while still maintaining a sense of atmosphere through the layered harmonies of Janiak‘s vocals and a grim undertone that will continue to develop shortly in “Kobold in the Breadbasket” and the aforementioned “Laughingstock,” while “Recommended Daily Dosage” gets side B moving at a full-thrash clip, punctuated by cowbell with vocals deeper back in the mix to let the guitars come forward.

Come to think of it, though it cuts in its midsection to a doomier nod, the galloping chug of closer “The Demons Come Home to Roost” is plenty speedy as well, as is the bulk of the penultimate “Your Inner Lemmy” (video here), though that song too shifts in pace, touching on some more strutting fare in its quick and fitting tribute to the late Motörhead frontman, most if not all of its lyrics derived from just some of his many famous quotes — see, “I did it all/Whatever I did/I can’t remember/But I’ll never forget,” and so on.

Through all of this — and even an earlier rocker like second track “Don’t Give Away the World” qualifies, though its focus seems more to be its sing-along-ready hook — Devil to Pay maintain a sense of urgency that Fate is Your Muse touched on but was not defined by, and going back further, to 2009’s Heavily Ever After, one can only conclude that the band have in the years since let go of the trappings of genre concerns and instead set themselves to the goal of making the music they want to make. A Bend Through Space and Time isn’t about heavy rock, doom, thrash or metal — though it offers all of them with a fervent overarching groove. It’s about Devil to Pay writing the songs they want to write and executing them at their highest level to-date. That’s precisely why the album succeeds the way it does.

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And though I’ve bounced around the tracklisting a bit, another of A Bend Through Space and Time‘s strengths is the flow it sets up between songs, which can be heard as side A develops following “On and On (In Your Mind)” and makes its way toward the gloomier “Kobold in the Breadbasket” — perhaps the closest moment Devil to Pay and Apostle of Solitude have shared since Janiak joined the latter in 2012 — and “Laughingstock” before the more boogieing “The Meaning of Life” revives both the mood and tempo with a still-spacious adrenaline surge and highlight guitar lead in its back half, rounding out on a relatively positive note and a long fade before the thrust of “Recommended Daily Dosage” blindsides the listener. Side B works similarly, with that opening cut running at a sprint until its finish gives way to the slower chugga-chugga of “Knuckledragger” — a song very clearly and very correctly named after its central riff.

I’ll call it a highlight because that riff is such a standout and so obviously the product of Devil to Pay reveling in a kind of sheer heft in which they don’t generally traffic, but with leads peppered over top of the lumbering thud and the still-prevalent vocal melodies, it doesn’t at all come across as one-dimensional in the way the title might lead one to believe. Because it is a relative pivot in approach, one imagines it was something of a task to place “Knuckledragger” on A Bend Through Space and Time, but five albums in, Devil to Pay are no strangers to structure.

It turns smoothly from “Recommended Daily Dosage” and precedes the also-charmingly-titled “Kerfluffle,” which is more mid-paced and in line with a rocker like “Don’t Give Away the World” earlier, setting up a transition into “Your Inner Lemmy” and “The Demons Come Home to Roost.” As a finale, the latter cut seems to be playing at once to the various sides of Devil to Pay‘s sound. Checking in at 7:42 as the longest inclusion on A Bend Through Space and Time, it uses that run to include shifts between harder and heavier visions of rock.

By no means is it the first time Devil to Pay have sought to execute their stylistic swath as a single idea, but it might be the most effectively they’ve done it yet, and in terms of a look at where their progression might continue to carry it seems reasonable to think further bridging the gaps they’ve explored in these tracks might be at least part of their story. But likely only part, because what has always typified Devil to Pay can only keep doing so for as long as the band exists, and that’s their songwriting. I don’t think they’d have it any other way, and as A Bend Through Space and Time demonstrates, they have the ability to cover a range of ground while keeping that ultra-solid foundation beneath them always.

Devil to Pay, A Bend Through Space and Time (2016)

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Devil to Pay Premiere “On and On (in Your Mind)” Video; Tour Starts Oct. 20

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

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Tripping out on home-grown effects while winding their way through deceptively metallic riffing, Indianapolis four-piece Devil to Pay deliver their signature style in their new video. The song, “On and On (in Your Mind),” comes from their fifth and latest album, A Bend Through Space and Time (review pending), which is out on Ripple Music as the follow-up to 2013’s Fate is Your Muse (review here), their label debut, and emphasizes the core songwriting approach that has always been at the very heart of their sound. Devil to Pay have become one of the most reliable acts in the American Midwest when it comes to offering quality craft of light-on-frills rock and roll, and even as they share guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak with the more doomly Apostle of Solitude, that remains unchanged.

I’ve done a number of video premieres for Devil to Pay over the last couple years — including one earlier in 2016 for their Motörhead tribute, “Your Inner Lemmy” (posted here) — but there’s yet to be one I haven’t been happy to host, as the basic fact of the matter is I’m a fan of the band, which is Janiak alongside guitarist Rob Hough, bassist/backing vocalist Matt Stokes and drummer/backing vocalist Chad Profigle. They have tour dates coming up this month which will take them through Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee, where they’ll join several other choice acts along the way — Howling GiantDestroyer of LightKin of EttinsOrthodox Fuzz, etc. — and one can only imagine they’ll tape a significant portion of those shows, as is their wont, and use it to make their next video, which if the opportunity comes my way, I’d be glad to premiere as well, or even just put up, because, you know, fandom and all that.

You’ll find the complete list of tour dates under the “On and On (in Your Mind)” clip below. I think you’ll find the song all the more aptly-named for how often its hook repeats in your head after you hear it.

Please enjoy:

Devil to Pay, “On and On (in Your Mind)” official video

Through ten years of soul searching and survival – crawling out from the dank underbelly of the Indianapolis heavy music scene – Devil To Pay eventually established themselves in the underground rock community after signing to Ripple Music to release Fate Is Your Muse in 2013. Recorded in 2015 by Mike Bridavsky at Russian Recording in Bloomington, Indiana, A Bend Through Space and Time picks up where its predecessor left off and further develops Devil To Pay’s songcraft and explorations in heavy, riff-oriented rock and roll. By now, followers of the band should have already heard ‘Your Inner Lemmy’ – the quartet’s fitting tribute to Motörhead legend Lemmy Kilmister and the first track lifted from this new record – released earlier this year.

It serves as just one of many reference points, dotted across a constellation of hard rock influences at play on this, their best album to date. The band hit the road this October on a US tour (see full list of dates below) in support of their new album A Bend Through Space And Time, out now on Ripple Music.

Devil To Pay 2016 Tour:
October 14th Indianapolis, IN Melody Inn
October 20th Louisville, KY Highlands Taproom w Blind Scryer
October 21st Huntsville, AL Coppertop w Parlangua, the Moose
October 22nd Birmingham, AL the Nick w Parlangua, Firewater Revival
October 23rd New Orleans, LA Parasite Skatepark w Donkey Puncher, AR15, Samm Bones
October 24th Houston, TX Dan Electros w Stonework
October 25th San Antonio, TX Hi-Tones w Curses, Over the Top
October 26th Austin, TX Hotel Vegas w Destroyer of Light, Crypt Trip, Lawman
October 27th Dallas, TX The Door w Kin of Ettins, Crop-Dust, Orthodox Fuzz
October 28th Memphis, TN Hi Tone Cafe w Glorious Abhor, Hellthrasher
October 29th Franklin, TN the Pond w Flummox, Battle Path, Howling Giant

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