When it comes to Maryland doom, there are few who can claim a higher place than Earthride. Since beginning as a side-project from Spirit Caravan bassist Dave Sherman to explore more of a frontman role, they’ve become one of the most pivotal acts in one of America’s most pivotal underground scenes. The rolling megafuzz of guitarist Kyle Van Steinburg, faithful plod of drummer Eric Little and molasses thick low end from Rob Hampshire (since replaced by Josh Hart) made Earthride‘s 2010 outing, Something Wicked (review here), a potent cauldron of doom waiting to be stirred by anyone who’d dare to take it on.
Among the highlights of the album — the band’s third behind 2005′s Vampire Circus, 2002′s Taming of the Demonsand their initial 2000 self-titled EP — was final track “Supernatural Illusion,” on which Sherman was joined vocally and Van Steinburg joined on guitar by none other than Sherman’s former Spirit Caravan bandmate, Scott “Wino”Weinrich. After a full-length jaunt of massive groovers like the opening title-track and the Southern metal vibes of “Watch the Children Play,” Wino’s guest spot was the icing on an already well baked cake, and to hear him alongside Sherman as well in the chorus made it all the richer.
This is another one of those tracks that I can’t believe hasn’t already been a Wino Wednesday pick yet, but here we are. Better late than never, since “Supernatural Illusion” is bound to get stuck in your head whether you’ve heard it before or not, and like they do as only they can, Earthride deliver a solid punch to the face of classic stoner doom. Enjoy and have a happy Wino Wednesday:
Posted in Reviews on June 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Day Two at Days of the Doomed II began with what, if I were the proprietor of a diner or family restaurant, I would call the “Aristotle Omelet”: Feta cheese and gyro meat with tzatziki sauce on the side. I almost asked for pita instead of toast, and if I had it to do over again, I’d get tomatoes in there as well, but it nonetheless was the foundational meal for a hearty afternoon and night of doom to come. Did better for me in any case than the bar pie that later served as dinner at The Blue Pig, the delicious smell of which offered no hint of the agita betrayal to come.
Postman Dan and I, in good spirits despite the periodically downpouring rain, tried to hit a record and horror/movie/music memorabilia store called Graveyard (not, presumably, to be confused with the band of the same name), but finding it closed for the weekend, headed over to the venue to catch the start of the day. A lineup 11 bands strong — Blizaro, Beelzefuzz, Apostle of Solitude, Argus, Blood Farmers, Blackfinger, Earthen Grave, The Skull, Earthride and Solace – began with Die Monster Die, and if you told me the reason Graveyard Records was closed was because the owner was busy opening down at The Blue Pig, I’d believe it.
The three-piece Die Monster Die, who’ve reportedly been a band since 1984, played the kind of rudimentary, horror-loving post-Misfits punk ‘n’ roll you’d expect. Every town has an equivalent act (in New Jersey, that act happens to still be The Misfits), but for being immediately familiar, choruses about snakepits and college girls — watching them, I could picture the words followed by exclamation points on a movie poster — weren’t offensively redundant. Two false starts preceded their first song, and though they looked like a monster ran into a couple bikers and asked if they wanted to be his rhythm section, somehow it worked.
Ever one for making the wrong decision, I waited to start drinking until later in the afternoon. Already my head was swimming with the thought of the drive first back to Lansing to drop off Il Postino (which I’ve never called him, but will one of these days) and then subsequently to New Jersey, so until I actually began downing beers and decided I didn’t give a fuck anymore, the earlier part of the day felt a little like a pre-gallows last meal. Nonetheless, I was stoked to find Blizaro taking the stage after Die Monster Die with Orodruin‘sJohn Gallo on guitar and Mike Waske on drums. Joined by bassist Mark Rapone — who would’ve won had Days of the Doomed II had a beard competition — Gallo took the fore vocally and unleashed a palpable horror obsession that was all the more fitting after the lead-in it got from Die Monster Die.
A mad scientist cackling behind his Moog, Gallo made no bones about his allegiances. Blizaro came across like Goblin raised on Pentagram, and theirs was honestly the only Paul Chain cover I’ve ever heard that actually fit with a band’s own originals. They did “Voyage to Hell” from Paul Chain Violet Theatre‘s 1984 outing, Detaching from Satan (it also appeared on Chain‘sAlkahest in 1995), and though they were silly and they knew it, and though Gallo‘s vocals were rougher than Orodruin bassist Michael Puleo‘s had been the night before in that band, the atmosphere was distinct enough that comparisons between one act and the other felt superfluous. Two out of three of the same dudes, but a different band with a different kind of charm.
Their set went long. Rapone broke a bass string. It happens. They never really regained the momentum they had going into that technical difficulty afterwards, but they still got to finish out their full setlist because Beelzefuzz — apparently in a game of oneupsmanship as regards misfortune — blew a tire en route to The Blue Pig and didn’t have a spare. Indianapolis’ Apostle of Solitude stepped in to fill the slot, and though at this point they’re too good a band to play so low on the bill, the circumstances were what they were. By the time Blizaro finished, Apostle of Solitude only went on 20 minutes early, anyway. I don’t know if people figured Beelzefuzz weren’t coming or what.
Either way, Apostle of Solitude had a new demo for sale (the band has since granted me permission to host it for streaming; it’ll go up tomorrow) with three songs, and they played two of them — demo opener “Blackest of Times” and “Die Vicar Die” — quickly showing off melodic progress in their approach. The insistence in the drumming of Corey Webb and the bass of “Iron” Bob Fouts made the groove of “Blackest of Times” even more satisfying, and the addition of guitarist Steve Janiak (also of Devil to Pay) following 2010′s second album, Last Sunrise, has clearly given frontman Chuck Brown more range vocally. Arrangements on the newer material were more complex, and Janiak and Brown sounded even better during the chorus of “Die Vicar Die” live than they do on the recording.
For what it’s worth, that song was stuck in my head before it was finished — the chorus I was hearing was “All the good die,” instead of the title line, which I didn’t know yet — and it has remained there pretty much ever since. Brown waffles the melody as he and Janiak hold out the second “die,” and it reminds of ’90s heavy without directly emulating grunge or being anything other than Apostle of Solitude‘s increasingly individual take on doom, separating stylistically even from fellow Hoosiers The Gates of Slumber, whose bassist Jason McCash was working the merch table while Apostle played and who had reportedly had a rough show a few nights earlier in their hometown. Some light teasing ensued.
And though Brown preceded set-closer “The Messenger” from their 2008 Sincerest Misery debut with an “Alright ladies” — because it’s not metal unless someone questions your masculinity first — that wasn’t enough to take away from the early headliner feel of their performance. Pennsylvania natives Argus capitalized on that vibe and took the stage gracefully bearing more reverence than even vocalist Butch Balich‘s pedigree in Penance could give them. It seems their two albums — 2009′s Argus debut and the follow-up, Boldly Stride the Doomed (which was on my Top 5 I Didn’t Hear in 2011 but which I bought from their merch table) — have made quite an impression.
No argument. Argus, who were already pretty solid when last I encountered them live (SHoD in 2009; no review), have grown into an accomplished and formidable traditional doom outfit. Balich is the focal point, his vocals are stellar and powerful, but the dual guitars of Jason Mucio and Erik Johnson behind him made a strong case for classic riffage, and the rhythm section of drummer Kevin Latchaw and bassist Andy Ramage complemented the metallic drive well. The mix seemed off in that the vocals were loud, but listening to “Durendal” from the second album, I didn’t even mind. Chewing gum the entire time, Balich hit notes that would’ve cut lesser singers in half, making it sound easy. If I had that kind of talent, I’d chew gum too.
The room was filling up by the time they were halfway through — no time like the present to start drinking — and The Blue Pig seemed pretty quick to roast, but the band handled it well, and boldly strode through the extended “Pieces of Your Smile” and a cover of Candlemass‘ “At the Gallows End” (from Nightfall, 1987) that was as well performed as it was bravely chosen. Balich is probably one of two or three doom vocalists in the US who could hope to stand up to Messiah Marcolin, and though he didn’t display the kind of dramatic acrobatics (or, if you’d prefer: dramacrobatics) that distinguished Marcolin in his day, neither did he fall short of the task before him. Having given the mic to the crowd twice in the chorus, he kept it to himself for the last round, as if to make plain his ability to do so. Point taken.
Like Apostle of Solitude before them, Argus also finished off with the first song from their first record (unless I have that order wrong and it was the Candlemass cover last; someone please correct me if need be). “Devils, Devils” was well met with a sing-along chorus, and by the time it was done, Beelzefuzz had finished loading in their gear. They looked haggard and stressed from their road troubles, and with the extra time that had been taken from Blizaro‘s bass string and longer set, there wasn’t much room for them on the bill. They got on stage quickly after Argus and as a “thanks for making the trip”-type consolation prize, played two songs.
Car troubles suck, and because I’d enjoyed what I’d heard of them previously, I made sure to buy the Marylanders’ demo. They seemed to be way more classic rock-influenced that I’d previously given them credit for being, but still, they were barely there. Two songs wasn’t really enough time for them to build any momentum or hook the crowd, and they were pretty much a stopgap on the way from Argus to Blood Farmers, however cool those two songs might have sounded. Fest organizer Mercyful Mike Smith took the stage after they were done and said something about probably being the most hated guy in the room for cutting them short, but I think everyone knew the deal. They’ll just be one more thing to look forward to about SHoD in August.
It was somewhere right around this time, maybe a little later, that I realized The Blue Pig had Newcastle in bottles. Probably the timing there is fortunate, or I’d have long since been on my ass by the time Blood Farmers got going. As it was, I was conscious enough to watch guitarist Dave Szulkin (also of the recently-reviewed The Disease Concept), bassist/vocalist Eli Brown and drummer Tad Legerreceive a proper and encouraging amount of respect from the crowd. Blood Farmers are a fest band for me, it seems. I caught them last year twice, both times at festivals, and while I’d like to see how they’d do on a bill of their own, their no-frills doom does really well standing them out subtly from a crowded surrounding lineup like that at Days of the Doomed II.
This was the second time I’d heard new song “Headless Eyes” live — it’ll also reportedly be the title-track of their next album — and it confirmed its awesomeness. On the whole, the performance was more or less on par with last year’s SHoD showing, but Brown‘s vocals are more confident, and after hearing Szulkin‘s guitar in The Disease Concept, I almost couldn’t help but pay closer attention to his solos, which impressed more than I’d previously given them credit for. It’ll be really interesting to hear what a new Blood Farmers album sounds like. It’s been 17 years since their self-titled came out, but their footing is sure, creatively, and they’ve only gotten tighter the more I see them. I’m anxious to hear how the full-length comes out.
Between the bands, I was taking notes at the bar (you can see them at the top of this post) and the bartender asked me, “Are you keeping score?” I said I was, that they were winning, and asked for another Newcastle, which she graciously gave me. With the start of Blackfinger‘s set, the evening was about to get awfully Troubled, and it seemed only right to be ready. I was looking forward to Blackfinger specifically, apart from just getting to hear Eric Wagner sing, after interviewing him last year and spending a not-at-all-insignificant amount of time with their single, “All the Leaves are Brown” to prepare. They played that song and a host of others from their yet-to-be-released debut album.
Should say something about Trouble‘s impact on the Midwestern doom mindset that more than a quarter of the day’s lineup would be devoted to members of the band and their projects, and not to take away from the rest of Blackfinger or what the band was doing as led by Wagner‘s songwriting — where was the standup bass? — but really, he couldn’t help but stand out. The sunglasses, the curls, the calm stage demeanor seemed to make of him a center around which the rest of the band revolved. All well and good — I don’t think anyone would argue the Chicago native doesn’t deserve to have a project in which he has sole control — some kind of solo… project…? — but speaking as a doom fanboy and someone with a keyboard in front of him, it’s time for all these dudes to get over their crap and get Trouble back together.
I’m sorry, but it needs to be said. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Blackfinger or former Trouble bassist Ron Holzner‘s Earthen Grave, who followed. In fact, I’d hope that both Wagner and Holzner would continue their involvement in these other bands as well and just go back to Trouble in addition to working with them. I know things were shitty when the band was trying to put out Simple Mind Condition in the States in 2007 and the label, Escapi, folded and whatever else happened and egos clashed and blah blah blah, but seriously, let’s get this thing moving. It’s time. Time for one of those killer heavy metal comebacks and time for Trouble to regroup, get some good PR behind them, tour with Saint Vitus and get their fucking due from the booming American doom scene. Season of Mist? Napalm Records? Fuck it, somebody‘ll sign the band. Get some new shit going — maybe don’t call the album The Dark Riff, as previously intended — and do it before you decide you’re sick of the whole thing and walk away entirely.
Watching both Holzner and Wagner do a set of Trouble songs as The Skull only underscored the point of how much a full Trouble reunion — Wagner, Holzner, Bruce Franklin, Rick Wartell and Jeff “Oly” Olson — needs to happen. But let me back up. Before that, Holzner veered farther from the Trouble blueprint with Earthen Grave, who are somewhat more progressive and who had the honor of playing host to the weekend’s only female performer in violinist Rachel Barton Pine. That’s right. One lady, and even she had to wear a leather bustier before they’d let her on stage — okay, maybe not, but you get my point. They were also the weekend’s only six-piece (unless you count Solace, who have Beer as their unofficial sixth member). They did songs from their self-titled full-length, which I bought, and though I was underwhelmed at their 2009 demo, I feel like I got some better sense of what they were going for watching them live, the guitars coming through with more energy and vocalist Mark Weiner proudly showing off his Earthride shirt and stage presence at once. Being sandwiched by two Eric Wagner-fronted sets is no easy task, and I salute the Earthen Grave singer for standing up to it.
By midway through their set, though, I was drunk enough for a shot of Crown Royal — What? No Jameson’s? — to seem like a mildly good idea, and things only got more tragic as The Skull took shape on stage. The catalog they were drawing from — i.e. Trouble‘s — was vast, and it was like they went into it saying, “Oh, so it’s doom you want is it?” And you know what the thing is about Trouble‘s doom? It’s fucking doomed. That’s some depressing shit right there, and I guess I was feeling the weight of the trip, the day, the beer, and all of it when they hit. I hadn’t realized Olson wasn’t going to be a part of The Skull as well, but as he reportedly dropped out to wait for a full reunion, I give him even more respect for not doing it half-hearted.
I was starting to feel like I was doing it half-hearted myself, but then The Skull kicked into “At the End of My Daze” to close out their set and I got all pathetic doom geek about it. Didn’t do much to improve my mood, but I fortunately had enough wits about me to stop imbibing, and when Earthride got started, their thickened Maryland doom grooved away the rest. I know frontman Dave “Sherm” Sherman has a gravelly speaking voice, and I know he talks about Wino a lot, and I know he’s a character on stage and his stage moves are a lot of fun and it’s awesome when he puts his arms up on the handlebars for the song “Earthride” and whatever else, but more than anything, what I took away from Earthride‘s performance at Days of the Doomed II? The dude can fucking sing.
Really. He’s always been about presence, right? There’s never been any doubt who you’re watching when you’re watching him front Earthride — that’s Sherm, no doubt about it. And he’s become a godfather of Maryland doom, and rightly so. But on 2010′s Something Wicked and in the several times I’ve seen him since, he’s shown that he’s more than going through the motions or capitulating to doomly expectation. He’s putting his heart and soul into singing those songs, and his melodic range isn’t his hallmark — it’s like not he’s James Fucking LaBrie up there — but it says something that rather than rest on his laurels as he easily fucking could at this point with three killer Earthride records under his belt (not to mention the EP, the digipak re-release of which they had for sale at their merch table and which I bought) and a tenure playing bass in Spirit Caravan before that, Sherman is pushing himself to be a better singer and actually becoming one. I have 10 mountains of admiration for him, sincerely. The dude sweats doom in the face of neither glory nor remuneration.
Add to that the fact that Earthride — as a full unit — are possibly the tightest now that they’ve ever been and become more of a blues band every time I see them, and you can’t lose. Bassist Josh Hart‘s Rickenbacker combined with guitarist Kyle Van Steinburg‘s tone results in a molasses so lurching there were moments during their set at Days of the Doomed II where I wasn’t sure they were actually moving the way you look at a glacier and have to wonder. Drummer Eric Little, charged with giving that glacier its push, punctuated the hooks of “Something Wicked” and “Fighting the Devils Inside of You” just right, and new song “Blackbeard’s Scorn” was the heavy’s heavy. Earthride‘s been together going on 15 years in one form or another and it feels like they’re just hitting their stride.
And if I can directly quote from my notes just once in this already considerable second in a series of two reviews, let me just say this about Solace, “Do I really have to drive out to fuckin’ WI to see a band from Jersey? Worth it.” Here’s the way “the Solace magic” works: You don’t play a show in more than a year. You get back together with your former drummer with whom you haven’t played in even longer than that — Kenny Lund told me at one point it’d been four years since he’d played out with Solace — then you show up at the fest you’re closing out, get loaded, and absolutely fucking destroy. Ta-da!
If Solace had their shit together, it wouldn’t work. If they arrived on time, or didn’t leave you wondering if their set was even going to happen, it wouldn’t have the same force when it actually did. It has to be as volatile as it was at Days of the Doomed to be Solace. Their frustration is what makes it go.
However many times I’ve seen Solace at this point, I don’t even know. This was not their cleanest set, not the tighest, or crispest, or soberest. What it was, though, was honest. I stood in front of the stage at The Blue Pig and I watched five guys rip through a set of songs they believe in the way people believe in god; the kind of deep, instinctive belief that you couldn’t separate them from if you even wanted to, and watching them, wanting to was about the farthest thing from my mind, seconded only by the drive home I’d be starting in about eight hours. They were the only band all weekend to make the stage they were playing on look small. I said that afterwards to vocalist Jason and he asked me if it meant they were getting fat. No, it meant that he, guitarists Tommy Southard and Justin Daniels, bassist Rob Hultz and Lund brought something to close out Days of the Doomed II that no one who played before them had been able to capture. On stage, Southard called it “drunk Jersey scum rock.” Maybe that’s what it is — that’s as good a name as anything I could come up with — but whatever you want to call it, it’s theirs and theirs only.
They finished with an extended jam on Pentagram‘s “Forever My Queen” — the second of the weekend’s two Pentagram covers — and by halfway through the song, Lund was leaning on the back wall. I know from speaking to them that they were down on the performance, but god damn, if you’re going to end a festival, do it with something you can’t possibly imagine anyone following, and that’s what Solace brought to Wisconsin. And then it was over.
Before I go, a note on the travel: There was a lot of it. I left out of the hotel at about 7:40AM Wisconsin time, dropped Postman Dan off in Lansing at 2PM and made it back to my humble river valley with miraculous expediency at 11:40PM, taking the life of only one possum in the process. It was a fucking lot of driving. More than I’d prefer to do in one day. But for the quality of memories I brought back with me to the Garden State, worth even the cost of gas on the Ohio Turnpike.
Special thanks to Mercyful Mike Smith for hosting me (and everyone else, I suppose) at Days of the Doomed II, to The Patient Mrs. for booking my hotel (Eli from Blood Farmers‘ line was, “Ooh, the Wyndham. Somebody has a job,” and thanks to him too), to Postman Dan for the most excellent company and Michigan microbrew recommendations, Tommy and Jenn Southard, Lisa Hass, the staff at The Blue Pig and, most of all, to you for reading.
He’s one of doom’s most indomitable and inimitable personalities, and as the frontman of Earthride, Dave Sherman (generally just say “Sherm” and anyone who’s met him will know immediately who you’re talking about), has become a living embodiment of the Maryland doom scene. Recently, he’s also been making a splash live with the outfit Weed is Weed, which reunites him with his former Spirit Caravan bandmate, Gary Isom.
Spirit Caravan only released two full-lengths in their time, 1999′s Jug Fulla Sun and 2001′s Elusive Truth, but the trio that began as Shine left a legacy and influence behind that has endured in the Maryland scene and well beyond. Though the band’s three members — Scott “Wino” Weinrich on vocals/guitar, Sherman on bass and Isom on drums — have each moved on to other projects (in addition to playing guitar in Weed is Weed, Isom also drummed in Pentagram for a stretch and has been in numerous other regional doom acts), their career has remained in part defined by what they did together as Spirit Caravan. Naturally that lessens as time goes on, but it remains true nonetheless.
Those new to the band who’d take on listening would do well to check out the 2CD 2003 MeteorCity compilation, The Last Embrace, which collects both full-lengths as well as previously unreleased material and stuff from 7″s and compilations. Sherman, who aside from being The Riff Made Flesh also happens to be a great dude, was kind enough to pick out his five favorite Spirit Caravan tracks for a very special Wino Wednesday this week.
Some are live, some are studio versions, but here’s a clip for each of Sherm‘s picks, along with a few words of explanation from the man himself. Right on:
Dave Sherman’s Spirit Caravan Picks:
1. “Powertime.” The first song I co-wrote with Wino.
2. “Sea Legs.” I love this song because Wino sings about… Gary and I. A well-done iguana and a real heavy gnome.
3. “Dreamwheel.” It’s so positive of a song – the dream keeps on rollin’!
4. “Lost Sun Dance.” The band’s first song we learned.
5. “Kill Ugly Naked.” I know it is an Obsessed cover, but not many people heard it until Spirit Caravan put it on Jug Fulla Sun!!!
Posted in Reviews on January 2nd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
New Year’s Eve with Clutch, C.O.C. and Earthride — sometimes life just provides you with easy choices. I mean, really, there was no way in hell I was going to miss this show. The Patient Mrs. and I packed into the car early to get down to Philly well in advance of doors at the Trocadero, where just a couple months ago, I saw Kyuss lay waste to an eager crowd. I expect a lot of the same heads came out for Clutch, and who could blame them?
The thing about this show was that apparently the venue was giving everyone a ration of shit the whole night. From barring entry to those who had, say, recently ingested Robitussin in a recreational capacity, to a long drama involving my photo pass, to putting Earthride on before the listed start-time for the show, it was kind of a rough night, and there was a bit of tension. For my part, I stood on line waiting to get in while some couple cut in front of me and took an obscene amount of time to get their passes while Earthride played the first four songs of their total six (maybe seven) songs, which I watched through the open doorway.
Everyone’s gear backlined behind them, they were pressed to the front of the stage in a single line. Left to right it was Dave Sherman on vocals, guitarist Kyle Van Steinberg, drummer Eric Little and bassist Josh Hart, and I got inside in the middle of their playing “Earthride,” which was killer as always, although I’m legally required to note that the best gig I’ve ever seen them play was at Tommy Southard‘s wedding at Asbury Lanes in October. Still, they gave a proud showing of the Maryland underground, which they’re quickly coming to embody in everything they do.
Although I’ve only noted three of them, there were actually four bands on the bill. Kyng played after Earthride, and as I was busy trying to acquire a pass to shoot C.O.C. and Clutch — which, really, was why I drove the two hours to Philadelphia to the show — I missed them completely. My interest was minimal in the first place, but between pouting and calling in favors, I was otherwise occupied. Maybe some other time, or maybe not. I was just happy that by the time C.O.C. got going it all had worked out.
It was my first time seeing the trio lineup of Corrosion of Conformity. I’d previously sworn off going to see them on account of the lack of Pepper Keenan, but the three of them killed it. Given all the genre-melding that’s gone on since they released Animosity in 1985, it’s amazing how vibrant that material still sounds in its blend of thrash and hardcore punk, and bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, guitarist Woody Weatherman and drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin gave that material its due, staying honest in their portrayal of all sides of their sound, from Slayer to Black Flag to Sabbath, all within the span of a song. Dean and Mullin were notably tight, and Weatherman beat the living hell out of an already beaten guitar, and I almost immediately regretted not seeing them sooner.
The material was a decent mix of new and old. Animosity featured heavily, obviously, and they teased a “Hand of Doom” cover without following through (god damn it). From the forthcoming self-titled album, I’d been hoping for “Psychic Vampires,” but they broke out “Your Tomorrow” and “The Moneychangers” instead, which fit in well alongside some of the classics. Weatherman played through two Orange cabinets, and his tone was thick perhaps to the sacrifice of some of the precision in the faster parts, but sounded just right for “Vote with a Bullet” and “Deliverance,” which was a pleasant surprise and probably their biggest crowd reaction. Dean took the lead vocal and was backed by Mullin and Weatherman for the chorus, which had all the power of their punkier songs and the mid-paced groove that typified the Keenan era of the band.
C.O.C. closed with the title-track from 1987′s Technocracy EP, which was as suitable a finish as one could ask and possibly the tightest song they played. There was a long break while Clutch‘s gear was fired up and checked, and as I was driving, not drinking, I basically just stayed up front and waited for the band to start, which they did at 11:20. I didn’t know what the deal was with how they were going to handle midnight, whether they’d do a countdown or just say Happy New Year at the time or rock right through it or what, but I was willing to trust they had it all figured out. Clutch being introduced as they had been last time I saw them in Flint, Michigan (review here), by Chuck Brown‘s “We Need Some Money,” it was apparent right from the start that the crowd was ready to party. They hadn’t even started to play yet and people were singing along and dancing.
For my part, I stayed up front even after I was done taking pictures. They opened with “The Mob Goes Wild” — appropriate given the chaos ensuing — and were under way with no time to warm up, no time to get going, no build of momentum. Clutch came out, and Clutch kicked it. Hard and right in the ass with a yeti-sized boot. I was waiting for the new song “Newt Gingrich,” the wolfman-centric chorus of which had been stuck in my head for a few days thanks to a hefty dose of YouTube-ing, and when it finally arrived, it was tighter and clearer than it had been in Michigan. It was also one of two new inclusions in the set, and though the other — reportedly-titled “Pig Town Blues” — was harder to get a grasp on, it was also pretty straight-ahead rocking, and a good complement to the bluesy flow of “Newt Gingrich,” which is more typical of latter-day Clutch and in the vein of 2009′s Strange Cousins From the West, the rhythm of its chorus being quintessential Neil Fallon post-Elephant Riders.
“Pure Rock Fury” was a highlight and something I’d been hoping for. The night prior, at Starland Ballroom in Jersey, they’d unleashed “A Shogun Named Marcus,” “Spacegrass” and “50,000 Unstoppable Watts,” but Philly had its share of specialties as well. Fallon seemed to be in charge of the setlist, calling out changes to bassist Dan Maines, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and guitarist Tim Sult as they went along, switching the order in what was apparently an effort to line up midnight with a lengthy jam. While dueling with Gaster on cowbell, Fallon called out the countdown to 2012; four minutes, then three, then two, then one, then 30 seconds, 10, nine, eight and so on until it was “Happy New Year everybody!” and the band kicked almost instantly into “Animal Farm,” which, though it’s grown somewhat slower with age, lacked nothing for righteousness of groove.
I was glad to catch “Subtle Hustle” and “Mice and Gods” again, and “Freakonomics,” a fully-electrified version of “Regulator” (Fallon had some technical problems with his guitar, but once they got going it sounded great) and “Electric Worry” into “One Eye Dollar,” which finished the regular set at about 1AM. They came back out after a long break for what I had assumed because I saw it on the written setlist next to Gaster would just be “Big News I & II” but turned out to be that transitioning into “The Soapmakers” and then “Cypress Grove” and finally “Burning Beard” (someone please tell me if I’ve got that order wrong). By then, I’d been thoroughly rocked, and the decision to include not one but two drum solos in the encore was bold, to say the least, but though when it was over my feet would barely hold me up, I was glad as hell to have been able to see the show.
Dan Maines‘ tone had been particularly warm, Fallon was on as always, Tim Sult laid it down smooth and classy, and Gaster has more personality in his sticks than most drummers do in their whole kit, but it was time to split out. They finished and the crowd dispersed, leaving behind a disgusting, alcohol-covered floor, some discarded cups, and merch dollars. The Patient Mrs. and I walked the couple blocks back to the car and, at 1:35AM — set about the two-hour trip back north. Were I going to do it again, and I can only assume that at some point I will, I’d probably get a hotel room reserved ahead of time, but if 2012 had to start with me sleeping till noon on Jan. 1, it was well worth the tradeoff.
Posted in Reviews on October 10th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was going to take a bastard of a bill to make me crawl out from the rock I’ve been hiding under and go see a show at the Acheron in Brooklyn, but Friday night, that’s just what I got. The show began two nights in a row of Earthride, and boasted hometown ultra-doomers Archon and the similarly-minded ambient evil deeds of Connecticut‘s When the Deadbolt Breaks in the support slots. After sitting in traffic for approximately four hours to get from Central Jersey to the gig, I was in just the right mindset for Archon‘s screaming dirges.
I had four dollars to my name and spent them promptly on a can of High Life. Archon were already loaded in and ready to roll. The room — longer than it is wide, black-painted cinderblock or brick with drywall and cement floor, small stage and high ceiling — wasn’t full, but the turnout was decent given the probably five or six other shows happening down the block in Williamsburg. The dreadlocked/male contingent of Archon‘s vocalizing duo, Chris Dialogue, bassist Nikhil Kamineni and drummer Rajah Marcelo are all also members of Alkahest (album review here), so with vocalist Rachel Brown and guitarist Andrew Jude the only parties unaccounted for in that band, it was kind of like the two acts had merged on stage. Heavy as hell, either way.
Jude, who as I understand it writes most of the material, always seems to have one foot planted in Dopesmoker no matter the project he’s involved in — and that’s not a critique, since anyone who’s heard Archon‘s death/doom plod will tell you he’s doing more than merely aping the influence. Dialogue set up down in front of the stage on which the other four members of the band played and did the kind of thrashing around I’ve come to expect from his performances, his low growls and high screams sounding no less vicious for the physical exertion. His vocals and Brown‘s — mostly melodic, but with some screams in there as well — played off each other well, and though the bass seemed to be lost in the room through much of the night, there was sufficient low end to stand up to the multi-pronged assault.
That was true as well for When the Deadbolt Breaks. Like Archon, they’re a band I consider friends more than a group I’d be able to really review with total impartiality (which, as a concept, is a farce anyway), but I was glad to see them anyhow and hear Aaron Lewis‘ violent levels of volume. He and bassist Roman Garbacick shared screaming duties and, together with new drummer Rich Kalinowski, crafted a sound as foreboding as the band’s name. Kalinowski‘s china cymbal kept getting stuck up next to Lewis‘ Sunn rig, but he worked with it and it was far and away the best drumming When the Deadbolt Breaks has ever had. Lewis has been through a few rhythm sections and singers over the years, but with Garbacick and Kalinowski (sounds a little like a law firm), he has two presences in the band to complement his own.
One of my favorite aspects of Deadbolt‘s sound has always been the creepy parts. Lewis has always been patient in steering the band through these sections of malevolent ambience, and though the Acheron wasn’t ideal for Garbacick‘s heavy bass or Kalinowski‘s china, the black walls and forced-in sound did work with the psychologically disturbing elements of their approach. Of course, they contrast those stretches with hurtful sludge, so you have to take it with the context surrounding as well. At this point, I’ve seen and done shows with them so many times over the years I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite, but this might be the most together lineup When the Deadbolt Breaks have put together yet. Here’s hoping it sticks.
And it’s funny to think of it, but in a way, Earthride were the odd men out on their own bill. Archon and When the Deadbolt Breaks — whom Earthride vocalist Dave Sherman referred to as “Acheron” (the name of the venue) and “When the Deadbolt Strikes,” respectively — had enough similarities of approach between them to be cohesive, but throw in Earthride‘s more stonerly-directed riffing, laid back doom groove and always-charming (no sarcasm; see previous sentence) stage antics, and it was a whole different kind of heavy. Bassist Josh Hart and drummer Eric Little were even more in the pocket than at SHoD, and guitarist Kyle Van Steinberg, also of War Injun, busted into a few freakishly good solos. I’m not 100 percent, but I think they might also all have been stoned.
They opened with “Fighting the Devils Inside of You” from 2005′s Vampire Circus and moved into a few cuts from last year’s Something Wicked album, starting with the righteously grooving title-track and “Hacksaw Eyeball,” which Sherman noted was about the band’s hometown in Frederick, Maryland, and which underscored the point of how much Southern Lord missed the boat on not putting out that record. “Hacksaw Eyeball” might have been Sherman‘s best performance, taking the blown-out screams and cleaner choruses of the album version and bringing them to life, but I wouldn’t discount the riff-riding the frontman broke out for “Earthride,” arms stretched out in front of him, steering an invisible stoner rock chopper down I-95 to some freedom most of us will never see.
When they were finished, the crowd demanded another song, and with some discussion, they acquiesced. The place never really packed out, but it was clear that those who showed up knew why they were there. I left soon enough after they were done and headed back through Manhattan to pick up The Patient Mrs., who’d spent the evening among the ranks “occupying” Wall Street — and if you ever want a convenient metaphor for what our relationship is like, that’s it.
Like I alluded to earlier, it was the first of two nights in a row I’d be seeing Earthride. The second was at Asbury Lanes in the surprisingly built-up Asbury Park, NJ, where they were on the bill for (former) Solace guitarist Tommy Southard‘s wedding reception. I’d write about that too, but it seems tacky somehow to review someone’s nuptial celebrations, however much Shiner Bock I may have imbibed. Suffice it to say a good time was had by all (again), and Earthride delivered the doom as increasingly they seem to be the only ones able to do.
Posted in Features on August 14th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Woke up this morning with not the worst headache ever, but certainly enough of one to get the job done. If you made me guess, I’d say I’d probably done some drinking. It was early, and I posted the notes from last night and crashed out some more before finally getting up around 10AM and deciding that a cure was needed. Fortunately, there’s a Waffle House attached to the Days Inn where I’m staying, and that shit is so greasy it’s like carpetbombing your hangover. Mission accomplished there, I made for CVS to buy earplugs, then to a coffee house to get that fix, and finally, to Krug’s Place for day two of Stoner Hands of Doom XI.
It’s already after 2AM again (funny how the timing of these things works out), so I’m going to stick with the note form from yesterday, and in all likelihood, I’ll again nod off before I finish and post it tomorrow. Not the end of the world. Part of me hopes so anyway. This afternoon and tonight, I saw 14 bands. Everyone who took the stage at Krug’s, I caught at least part of their set. In the immortal words of Nebula, “It’s been a long, long day.” Here’s how it went down:
The PB Army: They switched places with Ambition Burning, who were running late and played second. I didn’t know that at the time, and despite the fact that I’ve seen them before, they have a singing drummer in Keith Bergman, and the guitarist was wearing a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey, I still thought I was looking at Ambition Burning until Bergman announced who they were. I must have sat there for 15 minutes and it never even occurred to me. I actually slapped my forehead. When they got going, The PB Army ruled. Uptempo heavy rock to start the day. I also give them credit because, like me, they were there for the entire show. Not always in the room where the bands played — in fact, mostly at the bar from what I saw, drinking the PBR from which they take their name — but there nonetheless. Where most left, they stuck around. That should say something.
Ambition Burning: This was the first time today when I was really jealous of the scene down here. These guys are former members of two bands I’ve previously played with and dug: Durga Temple and VOG, and they were easily the most thrashing act of the day. They hit it fast and loud and came off like Gwar-meets-Lair of the Minotaur. Some riffy parts, but more head-down punk fury. It worked well, and their last song showed a weird progressive bent that’s never going to hurt them. Heavy stuff for heavy heads.
Sinister Realm: This Allentown, Pennsylvania, five-piece were also quite metal, but in a completely different way. I had to remind myself who they were by reading my review of their last album from 2009, and what I took away from that was that they were very metal, and so they were. Full-on oldschool metal, complete with Dio Sabbath riff complexity, Trouble‘s Marshall tones and Judas Priest fist-pumping rhythms. They have a new record out called The Crystal Eye, which I bought, and they played a couple songs from it, but what really caught my attention aside from the coordinated rocking among the string section was that bassist/backing vocalist John Gaffney (who also played in Pale Divine later) had written at least four print fanzines dedicated solely to Candlemass. Fucking awesome. Maybe the best seven dollars I spent today buying one of the issues.
Muffler Crunch: They were the surprise of the day. A male/female Canadian duo, guitarist/vocalist Luke Lavigne and drummer/lead vocalist Angie Neatby absolutely destroyed. Lavigne, armed with an acoustic guitar run through a Dual Rectifier, was a noisy, feedback-laden, ultra-distorted mess (and I mean that in the best way possible) and Neatby, through a headset microphone — which I’m usually not a fan of for singing drummers, because you hear every breath they take when they’re not singing — laid down blues righteousness like it was coming back in style. Things got really fascinating when they slammed on the breaks and went uber-doom, with Lavinge adding death growls. Trippy stuff. Definitely different, definitely dug it. Definitely a hard act to follow.
Iron Front: Straightforward heavy rock. Not really stoner, but probably digs on a Kyuss record every now and again. They covered Soundgarden, but did “Outshined,” which was kind of a bummer, since it’s not one of their best and it’s the kind of track you’re never going to be able to do as well as the original. Their original stuff was better, but like they didn’t really add anything to the cover, they also rested comfortably on a stylistic middle-ground that, particularly after Muffler Crunch, seemed like ground that had already been covered. Not bad — I wouldn’t be ready to count them out completely — but seemed to be just on the other side of what piques my interest. They pulled a good crowd though, so there’s that.
Electric Magma: Probably the band I saw the least of, owing to dinner. It was 6:30 by the time the Toronto trio went on, and while I most definitely enjoyed their fuzzy instrumentals from the next room, I’ll admit that it was the hot roast beef sandwich with fries as the foremost occupant of my attentions. I felt guilty and bought one of their records later on — the one I didn’t think I already owned, as it happens. Figured that’d probably be the way to go.
Lo-Pan: What the hell else is there to say about these dudes? At this point, I feel like even saying they were the tightest rock band playing tonight undersells it, because they go beyond that. Go see Lo-Pan. There. I put it in bold. In talking before (and after) their set, they were telling me about the Dude Locker III fest they’re putting on Sept. 10 in their native Columbus, Ohio. Apparently Chapstik is playing, along with 20 or so other bands on two stages. To hear them tell it, they’ll also be destroying a car. I might have to make the roadtrip for that. More details here. In the meantime, Lo-Pan slayed like Lo-Pan slays. They’re dominant live and they know it.
Admiral Browning: Another instance where I was jealous of the Maryland/surrounding-states scene. Admiral Browning‘s uniquely thick and riffy progressive instrumentals went over huge, and I’m always amazed that there’s a climate down here for this kind of thing. Back home in New Jersey, there’s nothing. Nothing. Fucking pop punk bands out the ass, and here’s Admiral Browning, brazenly exploring untested musical ground in a supportive community just 250 miles away. A boy could cry at the sight of it, much like a boy could cry at the sight of Admiral Browning‘s technical prowess, which they, as ever, presented at SHoD in a manner entirely void of pretense. It was the band’s 200th show, and beardly bassist Ron “Fez” McGinnis was doubling as the stage manager for the fest. He had the unenviable duty of corralling stoner rockers all night, which was a task he handled like a pro.
Pale Divine: I remembered seeing this Pennsylvanian trio with The Hidden Hand in Philly years back around when their second album, Eternity Revealed, came out in 2004. As I mentioned before, Candlemass-loving Sinister Realm bassist John Gaffney played here as well, and they were precisely the kind of heavy traditional doom one expects to find at SHoD. It’s a style that doesn’t go over everywhere, but goes over really well here. They were more than decently heavy if not necessarily the most exciting act of the night, but I had to make an escape for a bit. I came back to the hotel, changed out of my stinking shirt, threw on some deodorant (it had already been a sweaty day), and went back to Krug’s feeling like a new man.
War Injun: It was fortunate that I was feeling like a new man, because the energy War Injun brought to the stage was formidable. I’d also stopped drinking before Pale Divine went on, and was well on my way to sobered up — a status I’d keep for the rest of the night — and was glad for the lucidity that let me better appreciate drummer JB Matson‘s chest-rattling kick. Vocalist JD Williams (formerly of Internal Void) gave Earthride‘s Dave Sherman a run for his money as the most charismatic frontman of the evening, and it was clear that the double-guitar fivesome knew their way around Maryland doom. The audience they pulled in might have been the best of the night, which was only unfortunate because the room thinned out some when they were finished.
Blood Farmers: On sheer sound alone, they were the best doom band that played today. There was nothing showy about what they did, but the sound was perfect for them, Eli Brown‘s vocals were almost as heavy as his bass sound, and they ran through an excellent set of songs, dwarfing in my mind even their Roadburn 2011 Main Stage appearance. They were so tight, so troubled-sounding, it really seemed like a love of obscure/classic ’70s horrordelic film was in their songs. New song “Headless Eyes” was especially a highlight, but really, their pacing, their patient riffs and the precision with which they were executed made Blood Farmers high on the list of the day’s best sets. The only shame was that there wasn’t more people there to see it.
Earthride: They’re the kings of this scene. They went on after midnight, and so I don’t think all the native-types who were there for War Injun came back after the non-Old Line State Blood Farmers, but there were still plenty on hand for what certainly felt like the headlining set of the night. Dave Sherman was telling stories about being in Spirit Caravan and playing the first SHoD in 1999 before the set even started, and in a classy move, he and the band (which includes guitarist Kyle Van Steinberg, drummer Eric Little and new bassist Josh Hart) brought up Rob Levey to play air guitar and help sing the chorus of “Supernatural Illusion.” Scott “Wino” Weinrich does the guest spot on Earthride‘s latest album, Something Wicked, but the man behind SHoD gave a more than laudable showing of himself, and was treated to a fitting round of applause afterwards.
Negative Reaction: Kind of got screwed. Earthride had finished their set and then decided to do the “one more song” that was on their setlist the whole time in the form of “Vampire Circus.” Not a problem except for Dave Krug (of Krug’s Place fame) getting on stage between the bands and saying everyone needed to be out by 1:55AM. I looked at my watch and it was 1:15 and Negative Reaction — who were supposed to headline Friday night and didn’t because bassist Damon had a seizure and had to go to the hospital — were definitely going to have their set cut short. And so they did, although they also pushed it time-wise to the very last second, guitarist/vocalist Ken-E Bones bashing himself in the head with his guitar, throwing himself on the floor, playing with his teeth and crafting the weekend’s nastiest noise barrage. It was short, but they were furious, and it was among the strongest sets I’ve ever seen them play. Still a bummer to see them get stuck after not being able to do their set the night before, but they clearly made the most of what they had.
I can’t say enough how glad I am to have stopped drinking when I did (roughly six hours from when this post started). There’s still one day of Stoner Hands of Doom XI to go, and though I don’t think I’m going to be able to stay and see all of Sunday’s bill, there are more bands I’ve never seen in that lineup than even today, including Earthling, whom Jake Adams from Valkyrie personally recommended I check out. Though it had been years since I’d seen him, I’ll definitely take that recommendation and look forward to the set. All the same, the thought of going to work Monday morning is starting to press, but I was talking to a couple people today who had come from Rochester, New York, and from Kentucky, so I’m not the only one with a long drive. Stuff like this is worth traveling for.
Posted in Features on December 7th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
They go quick. Here we are at number 16 and it’s Earthride‘s first album in half a decade, Something Wicked. Released through their own Earth Brain Records, Something Wicked had no pretense about it, made no grand claims about what it was trying to accomplish. It came in, rocked solid for its 52 minutes, and then was gone again. Charismatic frontman Dave Sherman was in top form, introducing more clean singing to his approach, and the band behind him grooved in the key of Orange like few acts can.
The title track was a highlight, thanks in no small part to the hairy thickness of Kyle Van Steinburg‘s guitar, and cuts like “Wake up Your Mind” and the speedier “Grip the Wheel of Death” made Something Wicked an album I went back to time and again throughout the year. I mean, seriously, “Hacksaw Eyeball?” I’ll take it, and while you’re at it, throw in the Wino guest appearance on “Supernatural Illusion.” Can’t go wrong.
It was doom for doomers to the nth degree, and asked little other than for your attention while it put its sizable boot up your ass. With the recent news that bassist Rob Hampshire (also of Nitroseed) has been replaced by Josh Hart, one hopes that Something Wicked will spawn a new era of productivity for Earthride, but whatever happens, they delivered a kickass album in 2010.
Posted in Features on September 24th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
When I called Earthride vocalist and bonafide American doom icon Dave Sherman for this interview, he reported that he was on his way to practice for a side-project with his former Spirit Caravan bandmate Gary Isom and recent ex-Pentagram guitarist Russ Strahan called Weed is Weed. What else can you possibly say to that besides “fan-fucking-tastic?”
Five years in the making, Earthride‘s latest album, Something Wicked (released by the band through Earth Brain Records) follows 2005′s Vampire Circus and continues the group’s veneration of the doomly forms. Reverence for classic acts like Pentagram, Saint Vitus and of course the almighty Sabbath comes out through Kyle Van Steinburg‘s riffs and Sherman‘s lyrical tales of hard times and self-destruction while the thick rumble of bassist/NASA engineer Rob Hampshire (Nitroseed) thickens the sound and Eric Little‘s drums add an inimitable classic groove. It is, as the kids say, a winner.
Anyone who’s ever met the man or spoken with him for more than 15 seconds will tell you correctly that Sherman — “Sherm” for short — is a character like none other, and that certainly proved to be the case as we discussed Something Wicked, his relationships with Pentagram‘s Bobby Liebling and members of Fugazi, Earthride‘s recent tour with Valkyrie and more. There’s only one Sherman, and The Obelisk is proud to bring you this conversation with him.
Posted in Reviews on August 23rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
With Earthride, those who know already know what they’re going to get. Hell, it’s the bands slogan: “Pure Maryland doom for the brotherhood of music,” and if there’s a more accurate for the style in which the four-piece traffics, I’ve yet to hear it. On their third album in eight years, Something Wicked (released through their own Earth Brain Records), Earthride reaffirms their status as one of the most positively toxic stoner doom bands the US has to offer. Led by charismatic frontman Dave Sherman (ex-Spirit Caravan, Wretched), they leave a mark that is unmistakably their own, as though the songs were branding a backpatch onto your forehead.
Groove is central on Something Wicked. In many ways it’s the whole core of Earthride’s sound. Guitarist Kyle Van Steinburg has a tone so Orange you can’t rhyme with it, and the rhythm section of drummer Eric Little and bassist Rob Hampshire (Nitroseed) do an excellent job rounding out the material and evoking an even thicker, more viscous sound on tracks like opener “Something Wicked” and “Hacksaw Eyeball.” This is nothing new, but not everything is business as usual for Earthride, as Something Wicked finds Sherman trying out some new approaches vocally – growling occasionally and seeming to collapse into a melodic kind of yowl not too distant from Wino or Phil Anselmo’s on the last Down album, but frankly, more suited to what Earthride are doing song-wise.
Posted in Reviews on August 10th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was disappointing to roll into Ace of Clubs and find out Valkyrie had pulled out of the show. It was a family emergency, so you couldn’t really hold it against them, and with no shortage of killer bands left on the bill, the night would be more than salvageable. Any evening that gets topped off with an Earthride live set is alright by me.
I was at Alkahest‘s first show, and I’ve seen them three or four times since, and every time I do I get something completely different out of it. This time the guitars were played up in the live mix and the post-metal aspects of their sound were what came through most, but what I think is really fascinating about Alkahest (aside from the complexity of their pedal board arrangements) is how the rhythm section refuses to just do the Isis beat — you know which one I’m talking about — and leave it at that. It brings something new to the sound and makes them less derivative than they’d otherwise be.
Performance-wise, they were more subdued, especially vocalist Chris, who stood still most of the set and seemed to let the music wash over him, allowing for only occasional flareups of turbulent energy. One thing that’s remained consistent about Alkahest these last several months is the drama in their music, so that covers a lot of ground other bands might leave to thrashing around on stage.
Fuckin’ Admiral Browning. I know I’ve seen them before, but this might have been the first time I was lucid enough to actually remember what they were like, and mein gott, they fucking killed. Heavy, technical, grooving, they did it all, and they did it instrumental, and they demolished the unsuspecting Manhattan crowd almost immediately, as though dispatching them with a wave of the hand. It was sick. I reviewed their Magic Elixir EP a while back, but I hereby revise my position: the recording doesn’t do them justice at all. You need to see this band.
Only thing was they went on a little long, but beyond that, they were a highlight of the night. It seems like blasphemy to say any band playing with Earthride might be heavier than they are — because how could such a thing be possible? — but Admiral Browning were the most potent power trio I’ve seen in a long time. Totally righteous, totally unpretentious, just blisteringly heavy and so loud my earplugs seemed to be rendered useless. Yes, yes sir.
It was The Resurrection Sorrow‘s show, and as per usual, they had the biggest crowd of the night. I don’t know where they find these people, or how they get them to come from whatever dance club they were previously at and see at least part of a doom show, but then, their sound borders on a kind of post-Pantera groove metal, so that might have something to do with it. Needless to say, if I knew how to draw people like that, I would be too busy doing so to figure out The Resurrection Sorrow‘s methods.
And what a magical world that would be.
You couldn’t even get close to the stage — hence the faraway picture — and I know I wasn’t about to elbow past the steroid dude with Spartan helmet tattooed all around his head, so I stayed in the back and watched from there as they covered Ozzy‘s “Believer” from Diary of a Madman, bassist Alex Coelho making the most of its stomping lines. They’re obviously not without their commercial aspirations, but The Resurrection Sorrow are good at what they do, and I’m not going to hold that against them just because I prefer bands no one else likes. They played to their crowd and their crowd ate it up.
Earthride vocalist and Maryland doom legend Dave “Sherm” Sherman (Spirit Caravan, Wretched) showed off his new Motörhead tattoo, and the band ran through a monstrously heavy set of tunes from their albums Earthride, Taming of the Demons (the title track was a highlight), Vampire Circus and the latest, Something Wicked. I took some video which you’ll find below. Sherm rode the riffs of Kyle Van Steinburg with his arms up, chopper-style, and indeed, it was the evening’s high point. Yeah, it still was a bummer Valkyrie had to pull out of the last two nights of the tour, but even with some technical problems midway into the set, Earthride more than justified the trip to the city.
How into Earthride was the audience that stuck around? Well, there was moshing, which you almost never see at a doom show (and I would argue rightly so). Chris from Alkahest was headbanging so hard I thought he’d give himself a concussion, and Alex Dementia from The Resurrection Sorrow jumped on stage several times. It was like it was a birthday party for The Riff, and we were all having our cake. Tired from a long day of driving, I didn’t think I’d make it through the whole set, but they kept me there right to the end, and when it over I was glad to have stayed.
Maryland‘sis pretty much the style people mean when they say “traditional doom.” There are three things you want to know right away about the Maryland scene, and they are as follows: Pentagram, The Obsessed and Hellhound Records. With that as your starting point, you can’t really go wrong, but like any fertile bandscape, Maryland (and, by extension the D.C., or “Doom Capitol” scene) has much more to offer the curious listener than just its biggest bands.
In addition to the five albums I’m listing here, you might also want to check out material from Iron Man (Shadow Kingdom has a couple cool reissues and their latest album), Unorthodox, Against Nature, Spirit Caravan, Wretched, Place of Skulls, Nitroseed and many more. But, to get you introduced to the scene and some of its most influential and important acts, feel free to start with the following:
1. Pentagram, First Daze Here: You can get Relentless instead if you feel strongly about it, there are no shortage of reissues out there, but if you really want to understand Pentagram‘s influence, you need to go to their earliest recordings, and this Relapse compilation has them. American doom from the age of Sabbath. They laid the foundation.
2. The Obsessed, Lunar Womb: I picked Lunar Womb because MeteorCity reissued it a couple years back and it’s easy to come by. In this age of wonders, you could just as easily pick up The Church Within if you’re looking to spend a little more. The Obsessed is the band that first gave us guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, whose influence is paramount in modern doom. Currently on the road with the reunited Saint Vitus, he can also be heard in Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand and elsewhere.
I’m this close to heading out for the weekend, but wanted to stop in one more time real quick to say thanks to everyone who checked out the site this week. I’m not going to give away any numbers until the month’s over, but March has me blown away already, and that’s just not possible without you reading and coming back, so thank you, thank you, thank you.
I decided to close this week with Earthride, because they’re pure groove, and with Spring coming on like it is in the valley, that’s where my head is 100 percent. They’re doing “Fighting the Devil’s Inside You” from the second 20 Buck Spin festival. Sherman = doom. It’s pretty much as simple as that.
One last note: If you haven’t yet, make sure to download the March podcast, because this week is last licks for it before we move on to April. Big things next month, but I’ll save that for next week. Meantime, cheers, stay safe and enjoy the next couple days.
NOTE: Nothing went according to my evil plan. The post below is from Friday. I scheduled it to go up while I was gone (along with two others that now need to be rewritten) and nothing happened. Stupid internet, making me look like a jerk once again. This was saved as a text file, and this video rules so I figured no one would mind, even two days later.
If all (or at least some) goes according to my evil plan, by the time you read this I’ll be well on my way to spending a weekend with some family friends just outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Via recommendations I spied on StonerRock.com, I’m planning on hitting up The Sound Garden in Fell’s Point, so hopefully I’ll come back with a decent bit of buried treasure. In the meantime, to honor this most crabtacular of states, I present this live Spirit Caravan video from 2006 — and here I thought they were broken up by then.
In case you forgot, the trio is Wino on guitar and vocals, bassist Dave “Sherm” Sherman (whose band Earthride is playing Krug’s Place in Fredericksburg Saturday night with Ol’ Scratch and Admiral Browning; unfortunately I won’t be there) and drummer Gary Isom, who just did those shows with Pentagram and has been in Valkyrie and countless other bands. Cool shit. Here’s “Cosmic Artifact.” Enjoy your weekend.