Live Review: Shroud Eater, Eternal Black and Begotten in Brooklyn, 09.05.17

Posted in Reviews on September 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

shroud eater photo jj koczan

You ever have one of those bands you just can’t seem to see? I’ll try not to bore you with the barrage of internal links, but I’ve been writing about Miami’s Shroud Eater for eight years since their demo (review here) arrived on my doorstep in 2009, and yet, at every opportunity when I’d otherwise see them, something has come up, the show has been canceled, I’ve moved out of the state, whatever it might be — point is it’s always been something. Well not this time, god damn it. This time I was going to finally see Shroud Eater.

The good news is it worked out. The Floridian three-piece hit Brooklyn’s venerated Saint Vitus Bar with support from reformed riffers Begotten and the doomly Eternal Black for a Tuesday night lineup that had no dip front to back. The bad news? Pretty much the only reason I was able to be there was because I was on my way to New Jersey for my grandmother’s funeral later in the week. Further bad news? Shroud Eater canceled the rest of their tour and were turning back south after this show in order to prepare for Hurricane Irma, which had already been called the strongest storm ever seen in the Atlantic Ocean, begotten-Photo-JJ-Koczanto make landfall in their peninsular homeland.

Even with these things hanging overhead, though, the most was made of the night and I can’t speak for anyone else, but from where I stood the show was killer. Begotten were onstage when I walked in, guitarist/vocalist Matthew Anselmo immediately placing himself in the running for the title of “most New York dude ever” as he led the band through a soundcheck and asked afterward if that wasn’t the start of the set. Bassist/vocalist Amanda Topaz and drummer Rob Sefcik (the latter also of Kings Destroy) confirmed that, indeed, the show wasn’t yet starting, the sound guy told everyone to hit the bar for a couple minutes, and all seemed more than happy to oblige.

When they did get started with the show proper, Begotten‘s post-Sleep lumbering came through with due thickness, Topaz‘s Sunn amp sitting precariously atop her bass cabinet while Anselmo‘s Marshall JCM 2000 stood like a totem at the head of a full stack. This was only the second show Begotten have played since reuniting, begotten-2-Photo-JJ-Koczanand they did four songs in the set, among them “Apache,” which was among the lost tracks that premiered here last October to mark their getting back together, and “Judges,” which was the opener of their 2002 self-titled debut, released by Man’s Ruin Records. They actually had that disc for sale, as well as an original Frank Kozik poster for the release in metallic ink that was nothing short of stunning to behold, but the highlight was that they also played a new song, giving a clear signal that they’ll move ahead toward the creation hopefully of a second long-player.

After 15 years since the debut, I don’t think anyone will be in a rush to put a timeline on that, but it was welcome news all the same. When they were done, Eternal Black took the stage quickly, sharing drum gear — guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob noted the Kings Destroy kickdrum head on the kit through which drummer/best-guy-ever Joe Wood was playing, eliciting a chuckle from all, including bassist Hal Miller — and set about rolling forth their likewise dense-toned doomer grooves. Their self-released debut, Bleed the Days (review here), came out Aug. 8 and was still pretty fresh in mind, and their straightforward and roughed-upeternal-black-photo-jj-koczan take on classic, traditionalist riff-led doom was no less welcome from the stage than from that disc. If anything, more so for the voluminous onslaught through which the persistent roll seemed to emanate.

I dug that record — I dig that record. A lot. And granted, I’m biased as regards the band because of my overarching love of Joe Wood (who really is the best guy ever; it’s like his thing) and because I find the gritty edge they bring to Maryland-esque doomery speaks to a particularly Northeastern, particularly New York intensity that always seems to remind me of home. Music like Eternal Black‘s has to come from someplace crowded. Population density is a factor, and I don’t think you could produce a song like the downtrodden “Sea of Graves” without it. One way or another, Bleed the Days is easily among the best doom offerings I’ve heard in 2017, first album or not, and the three-piece made it clear at the Vitus Bar as they had when I saw them at Maryland Doom Fest last year (review here) that the process of their coming together as a band is still veryeternal-black-photo-jj-koczan much at its beginning stages. That is to say, they killed and they sound like they’re only going to keep getting better.

And then my brain finally got to process Shroud Eater live. I’ve had bands-I-should’ve-already-seen out the wazoo over the years, but few have had the kind of consistent stretch of Shroud Eater. Yet, as I stood in front of the Saint Vitus Bar stage and tried my best to snap photos of them in the drawn-down lighting, I couldn’t help but feel like it was somehow serendipitous to catch the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Jean Saiz, bassist/vocalist Janette Valentine and drummer Davin Sosa in support of 2017’s Strike the Sun (review here). Released through STB Records — whose honcho, Steve, was also on-hand for the show and someone else I was long overdue to meet in-person — the second Shroud Eater full-length is hands down the band’s best work yet, and though it was shroud-eater-photo-jj-koczanobvious in talking to them that concerns of family back in Florida and the impending potential for storm destruction were weighing heavily on them, let alone the general bummer of having to cancel shows in the first place, they were nonetheless devastating onstage.

A performance that galloped and slammed and crashed and careened and lumbered and did all that stuff that means it basically kicked the living shit out of the room, Shroud Eater‘s set came through with density to match either of the acts that preceded them and a sense of motion that was all their own. Songs like “Awaken Assassin” from the new record and the furious 2015 single “Face the Master” (video premiere here) brought forth groove and pummel in kind, and with samples between various tracks, traded vocal parts from SaizValentine and Sosa, and an overarching intensity that came through even the most atmospheric of stretches, Shroud Eater made me so fucking happy I was finally getting to see them that I’m not sure I can shroud-eater-photo-jj-koczanhonestly say I’d trade having done so at any point in the last eight years for the experience of watching them play this set. That’s as sincere as I can be about it.

So — clearly not a night for critical impartiality. From feeling lucky to see Begotten on their second show back to having Eternal Black in the middle as the icing on an evening the cake of which just happened to be a long, long, long-awaited Shroud Eater set bludgeoning my consciousness, what the proceedings might’ve lacked in my emotional distance from them, they more than made up for in my raw enjoyment — which, if it’s going to be one or the other, I’ll take. When Shroud Eater were done, I’m fucking proud to say I was the first person to shout for one more song and even prouder to say they played it, and as I stood among friends in the crowd like Kings Destroy vocalist Steve Murphy and guitarist Carl PorcaroClamfight drummer/shroud-eater-photo-jj-koczanvocalist Andy MartinDave from Made in Brooklyn SilkscreenersSteve from STB Records and others, I was reminded of how special some nights can become when the planets finally align just so in order to make them happen.

The rest of the week? We’ll see how it goes for things like familial grief and category five storms — I wished Shroud Eater safe home and safe afterwards; spent the last eight dollars I had to my name on a copy of their Three Curses and Strike the Sun tapes (wanted the CD but didn’t have the requisite $10 and wasn’t about to be like, “Hey you need to buy bottled water for survival this week, can I get a free disc?”) — but this one was restorative on just about every level possible and a show I hope not to forget anytime soon.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Review & Lyric Video Premiere: Eternal Black, Bleed the Days

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on August 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

eternal-black-bleed-the-days

[Click play above to see the premiere of the lyric video for the title-track of Eternal Black’s Bleed the Days. Album is out Aug. 8.]

Doom prevails in gritty fashion on Bleed the Days, the seven-track debut long-player from New York trio Eternal Black. Self-released through their own Obsidian Sky Records in a digipak that includes a note on its back cover to pay attention to the lyrics and those printed on its inside glossy panels, it is a grimly cast 46 minutes brimming with downer intent as led by the churning-concrete riffing of guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob (also a published novelist and clearly someone for whom words matter) and with significant reinforcement provided by bassist Hal Miller and drummer Joe Wood — the latter also of long-running Long Island rockers Borgo Pass and a former bandmate of mine twice over. Because I consider him among the finest examples of a human being I’ve ever encountered, I’ll note a decided bias on my part in favor of his work here and elsewhere, so if that’s the grain of salt with which you need to take this review, so be it. I won’t fight you.

Either way, Eternal Black‘s full-length ode to downcast nodder traditionalism, recorded and mixed by Joe Kelly and Kol Marshall with mastering by Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed, follows their 2015 self-titled EP/demo (review here) and received a substantial preview earlier this year on the digital offering Live at WFMU (review here), recorded at that venerable open-format radio station in Jersey City, New Jersey, but makes its primary impression in the uniformity of its mood such that even the three-minute centerpiece interlude “Into Nothing” ties to the rest of its surroundings in speaking to the overarching theme of death and the mythology thereof, despite being instrumental. They are nothing if not focused.

But as the saying goes, if you can’t handle brain-crushing singularity of purpose, doom probably isn’t for you, and whether it’s the post-Wino riffing on opener “The Lost, the Forgotten, and the Undying” or second cut “Snake Oil and Coffin Nails,” which is led off by Miller‘s bass in the spirit perhaps of The Hidden Hand circa Mother Teacher Destroyer and shifts into faster gallop in its midsection with a highlight guitar lead, or a slower piece like the lumbering “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” (premiered here), Eternal Black do bring a sense of character and a developing sonic persona to the tenets of the style. Wohlrob‘s vocal delivery is a gruff and dudely semi-growl suited to tying the songs together and his lyrics — as one has been advised to regard — grow increasingly vivid as the tracklisting progresses into “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun,” “Bleed the Days” itself and 11-minute closer “All Gods Fall,” pulling references from Biblical and other Inferno-y sources concerning death.

eternal black photo shane gardner

It’s arguable six of the seven inclusions on Bleed the Days deal directly with the motif — see also: the entirety of Western culture and the human condition — whether it’s the interaction of death and belief on “Snake Oil and Coffin Nails” and “All Gods Fall” or the grim picture-painting of “The Lost, the Forgotten, and the Undying,” “Sea of Graves,” “Into Nothing,” “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun,” and “Bleed the Days,” but there’s also an underlying use of water imagery. The opener speaks of a ballast of the dead, snake oil is “flooding the plains,” it’s a “Sea of Graves,” bodies are thrown into the sea in “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun,” walls of rain unleash a river in the title-track, and flames rain down and oceans reabsorb in the finale. Again, that’s six of six tracks with words in them. One can’t help but wonder if that was a purposeful aesthetic choice in the composition of the material or simply a fitting representation of the abyss. In any case, like Wohlrob‘s vocals, the tonal density of his guitar and Miller‘s low end and the ultra-solid push of Wood‘s drums, it is another aspect of Bleed the Days that serves to tie the songs together.

Taking into account Bleed the Days as Eternal Black‘s debut, the album becomes even more impressive in its establishment of theme and aesthetic — well earning the amount of purple on its Joshua M. Wilkinson cover art — and when given repeat listens, further nuance of intent gradually unveils itself, whether it’s the airy flourish of guitar layering buried in the second half of “All Gods Fall” or the force with which the overall trajectory of the trio’s procession leads them to that closer. That shift takes place between the songs themselves, which seem to grow slower from “The Lost, the Forgotten, and the Undying” onward, but “Into Nothing” becomes a crucial divide between the first three cuts and the latter three that follow, which cast a plodding and weighted mire that, even when it picks up a bit in terms of tempo in the title-track, remains enduringly bleak.

Thus “All Gods Fall” can be read as a moment of arrival for Eternal Black and their audience alike, and it meets that task ably in summarizing the atmosphere of what’s come before it, showcasing an avenue for potential forward growth on the part of the band and providing a landing point for the consistently downward push that brings it on. Like the stated subject of death, “All Gods Fall” feels inevitable by the time it hits, and its final lines, “Man faces his eternity/Standing alone,” encapsulate the perspective of Bleed the Days as a whole. There could hardly be a more fitting end for an album that stands so willfully in doomed gruel, and as “All Gods Fall” marches to its fading finish, the sound of crashing waves would seem to provide an answer as to the corresponding watery elements that so much of the material highlighted previously.

I don’t know if I’d call Bleed the Days a concept album in terms of a singular narrative playing out, but neither would I be surprised if Eternal Black went that route sometime in the future, as there is a decided interest in storytelling here, and pivotally, they back that with quality songwriting that’s no less a foundation than the roll in Wood‘s drums. They’ve left themselves room to grow in terms of branching out arrangements and style, but as doom for doomers by doomers, Eternal Black‘s first album brings a host of depressive delights.

Eternal Black, Bleed the Days (2017)

Eternal Black website

Eternal Black on Bandcamp

Eternal Black on Thee Facebooks

Eternal Black on Instagram

Eternal Black on Soundcloud

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audiObelisk Transmission 062

Posted in Podcasts on July 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk podcast 62

Click Here to Download

 

It’s easy when you’re putting one of these things together to get locked into a headspace and all of a sudden everything you’re putting next to each other kind of sounds the same, kind of blurs together. I’m immensely pleased to say that’s not at all what happened this time around. The sounds throughout vary from heavy psych to rock to proggy jams to Blaak Heat who are on their own wavelength entirely to doom and space rock and so on. It flows though. I’m really happy with how it flows.

That includes the second hour, which has a couple different vibes as opposed to just the usual all-psych head-trip. Also, as you make your way through, keep in mind that a lot of this stuff is coming from debut albums. Moon Rats, Kabbalah, Eternal Black, Mindkult, The Raynbow, Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree. Hell, Steak’s track is their second album, and Youngblood Supercult too, so yeah, there’s a lot of fresh stuff included from newer bands. I didn’t come into it with a plan at all. This is just how it worked out, which of course is more fun anyway.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:

0:00:00 Moon Rats, “Highway Lord” from Highway Lord
0:03:36 Youngblood Supercult, “The Hot Breath of God” from The Great American Death Rattle
0:07:31 Kabbalah, “Phantasmal Planetoid” from Spectral Ascent
0:12:11 Wretch, “The Wretch” from Bastards Born
0:20:25 Steak, “Creeper” from No God to Save
0:24:28 Eternal Black, “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” from Bleed the Days
0:31:44 Mindkult, “Howling Witch” from Lucifer’s Dream
0:36:51 Shooting Guns, “Flavour Country” from Flavour Country
0:45:04 Endless Boogie, “Vibe Killer” from Vibe Killer
0:53:22 Blaak Heat, “Marr El Kallam” from The Arabian Fuzz 7”
0:57:55 The Grand Astoria, “The Sleeper Awakes” from The Fuzz of Destiny

Second Hour:

1:02:45 Eggnogg, “Overture / Wild Goose Chase” from Rituals in Transfigured Time – Prologue
1:16:06 Elara, “Harmonia” from Deli Bal
1:31:41 Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, “Sail Away I” from Medicine
1:45:50 The Raynbow, “Changes” from The Cosmic Adventure

Total running time: 2:01:51

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 062

 

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Eternal Black Announce Bleed the Days Due Aug. 8; Premiere “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

eternal black photo shane gardner

Go ahead and click play on the Eternal Black track premiere at the bottom of this post and then come back up and read the rest of this. Got it? Okay cool. Now that you’re digging into the lumbering weight of ‘Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun,’ I feel like we can really get down to business. The gruff Brooklynite doom metallers are today announcing that in less than a month’s time — Aug. 8 is the date and preorders are up through their Bandcamp — they’ll make their full-length debut with Bleed the Days.

I’m not gonna be coy here. I’ve heard the record and it’s a banger. Like, someone’s-gonna-pick-it-up-and-put-out-vinyl kind of banger. Playing to classic-minded nod, Eternal Black roll out riff after riff of dead-on, no-frills-needed doom. They’ve got seven tracks of it loaded up and ready to move, and as they build from the accomplishments of their 2015 self-titled EP (review here) and pay off the preview of new material they gave on earlier-2017’s Live at WFMU (discussed here), one would be hard pressed to find a less pretentious execution, and especially as it’s their debut, Bleed the Days shows the Maryland Doom Fest veterans as a band looking to make their mark in the sphere of the East Coast underground.

I’ll have more to come as we get closer to the Aug. 8 release, but for now, click play again and give “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” another listen as a portend of good things on the way, and dig into the album announcement as sent down the PR wire. You’re going to want to familiarize:

eternal-black-bleed-the-days

Eternal Black to Release Debut Full-Length Album ‘Bleed the Days’ on August 8

Premieres New Track “Stained Eyes On A Setting Sun”

Brooklyn-based doom band ETERNAL BLACK will unleash their debut full-length album, ?Bleed the Days, on August 8th, 2017. In anticipation of the album’s release, a new track, “Stained Eyes On A Setting Sun” will be available for streaming via SoundCloud and Bandcamp.

Bleed the Days is the band’s third release, following their 2015 self-titled EP and a live recording from 2017, ?Live at WFMU? . According to the band, “Sonically, we were aiming for somewhere between Black Sabbath’s ?Master of Reality and The Obsessed’s ?Lunar Womb. We wanted the album to be an obvious step forward in the progression of our sound. Darker and heavier than anything you’ve heard from us before, with the grit of old school Doom.”

Eternal Black again worked with Joe Kelly and Kol Marshall (Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Ministry), who produced and mixed the album. It was mastered by none other than Tony Reed of Mos Generator. Joshua M. Wilkinson of The Company (Curse the Son, Doctor Doom, Keef Mountain) designed the cover and album art.

Bleed the Days will be released on August 8th, 2017 on CD and digital formats. Preorders can be placed via ?Eternal Black’s Bandcamp page?. A double-LP vinyl version with be available in Fall 2017 with limited edition variations.

Formed in late 2014, Eternal Black is made up of Joe Wood on drums (Borgo Pass), Hal Miller on bass, and Ken Wohlrob on guitar and vocals. The group came together out of a desire to create dark songs driven by fuzz-drenched riffs and old-school heavy grooves.

Bleed the Days tracklisting:
1. The Lost, The Forgotten, and The Undying
2. Snake Oil and Coffin Nails
3. Sea of Graves
4. Into Nothing
5. Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun
6. Bleed The Days
7. All Gods Fall

Eternal Black live:
JUL 20 Eternal Black, Curse the Son, Clouds Taste Satanic, Leeds Point
Lucky 13 Saloon New York, NY

AUG 5 Eternal Black, Reign of Zaius, Goat Wizard, & Begotten
Arlene’s Grocery New York, NY

SEP 23 Eternal Black, Thunderbird Divine, Goat Wizard, & King Bison
Century Philadelphia, PA

OCT 7 NY Invades MD! w/ CLOVER/CLOUDS TASTE SATANIC/ETERNAL BLACK/FAITH IN JANE
Guido’s Speakeasy Frederick, MD

http://eternalblackdoom.com
https://eternalblack.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/blackhanddoom
https://instagram.com/eternalblackdoom/
https://soundcloud.com/eternalblackdoom

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Eternal Black Release Live at WFMU Digital Live Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

eternal black

Brooklyn doomers Eternal Black are reportedly in the midst of having their upcoming debut album, Bleed the Days, mastered by none other than Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed (who else?), but that’s not stopping them from giving a preview of four of the record’s tracks with their new live outing, Live at WFMU. Recorded last month at the world-renowned freeform radio station — a jeweled treasure of my beloved Garden State, to be sure — Live at WFMU has been posted on Eternal Black‘s Bandcamp as a name-your-price download, so not only have guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob, bassist Hal Miller and drummer Joe Wood gone to the trouble of putting the thing together, but they actually want you to hear it, too.

If you caught wind of the trio’s 2015 self-titled demo EP (review here), I doubt you need me to tell you checking it out is worth your time and the utter non-investment of a (free) download. I’ve got personal history with these guys via Wood — the good kind of personal history — so I might be extra looking forward to the arrival of Bleed the Days on account of that, but if you’d like to join me in that anticipation, feel free to check out Live at WFMU on the streaming player below. It makes a convincing argument.

Wohlrob was also kind enough to send along some comment about the new offering, and you’ll find that below as well:

eternal-black-live-at-wfmu

Eternal Black – Live at WFMU

On February 12th, we were honored to be able to record a live set at WFMU’s studios in Jersey City, New Jersey. This was for an episode of “What Was Music?” hosted by Marcel M, which airs on Wednesdays. We loaded in our gear, checked sound, and then tore into six songs like we would at any live gig. In addition to a few songs off our EP, we played four new songs that will be on our upcoming album, Bleed the Days.

Once we heard the playback, we thought it would make a hell of a live album. No messing about, get the damn thing out fast. Hal designed the cover. Kol Marshall handled the mastering. And in the end, we decided to make it available for free via Bandcamp. It’s our way of saying thanks to the doom heads who support our music.

Tracklisting:
1. All Gods Fall 10:44
2. Bleed the Days 06:26
3. Sea of Graves 06:11
4. The Dead Die Hard 06:23
5. Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun 07:22
6. Obsidian Sky 04:46

Recorded live at WFMU Studios, Jersey City, NJ, February 12th, 2017 for “What Was Music?” hosted by Marcel M.
Recorded and mixed by Scott Konzelmann
Mastered by Kol Marshall
Cover design by Hal Miller
Words and Music by Wohlrob
Obsidian Sky Records

Eternal Black is:
Hal Miller: Bass
Joe Wood: Drums
Ken Wohlrob: Guitars, Vocals

http://eternalblackdoom.com/
https://www.facebook.com/blackhanddoom
https://instagram.com/eternalblackdoom/
https://eternalblack.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-wfmu

Eternal Black, Live at WFMU (2017)

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The Obelisk Presents: Geezer, Eternal Black, Matte Black & River Cult at Arlene’s Grocery, NYC, 9/13

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on July 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

geezer eternal black show poster

On Sept. 13, Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan will host GeezerEternal BlackMatte Black and River Cult as the first edition of a new series of shows called Ode to Doom. When I think about the trajectory of shows in New York over the course of that sentence, the key word in my mind is “Manhattan.” As someone born and raised in Northern New Jersey, I spent a lot of time in dinged-out NYC clubs like The ContinentalC.B.G.B.’s, Lit LoungeAcme UndergroundMidwayBowery Electric and so on, and though the bulk of the underground scene has moved as a matter of generational shift and relative affordability to Brooklyn, to see Arlene’s Grocery starting this series reminds me of how heavy rock first began to flourish in New York. And that’s a good thing, and something I’m proud to have The Obelisk associated with in conjunction with Freebird Productions.

And you’ll note the immediate dedication to up and coming acts. Geezer‘s new album? Yeah, look out for that when it arrives. Eternal Black, meanwhile, have been tracking their own debut and from what I saw them bring to the stage at Maryland Doom Fest, that’ll be one to keep an eye on as well, while Matte Black issued their debut LP at the end of last year and River Cult set an encouraging tone with their first demo in 2015. Right away, Ode to Doom is digging deep into the heart of New York heavy, and that’s exactly the way it should be. Gonna be an awesome night and hopefully the launch of many more to come.

Says show organizer Claudia Crespo of Freebird Productions:

“With so many venues shutting down in NYC, I think collectively we feel those losses… I wanted to — for a long time now — produce a bi-monthly doom/sludge/desert/stoner metal night, and luckily for me, I have a venue in my corner willing to support me and the ideas i wanna do. It’s a little intimidating coming in and producing a show like this — because first of all, I’m new. Secondly, I don’t want other producer thinking I’m trying to step on their toes. A lot of them are my friends and i have a lot of respect for what they do. They do so much for the metal communities in NYC and have certainly paid their dues and know their shit. I just wanna add another platform specifically for this particular genre.

It really comes from a good place, from a place where I connect deeply with this music and just wanna get involved in it. If anything, i don’t wanna take away from anything or anyone. Actually it’s the opposite of that: I wanna do more and give more back. The September 13th show will be our very first one, and I hope people COME OUT AND SUPPORT !! This is my love note to DOOM, SLUDGE, DESERT AND STONER ROCK !!! an ODE to THE RIFFS !!”

Freebird Productions & The Obelisk Present: Geezer, Eternal Black, Matte Black & River Cult

Sept. 13 – 8PM – $8

Arlene’s Grocery
95 Stanton St.
Manhattan, NYC

Event page on Thee Facebooks

Tickets at Ticketfly

Arlene’s Grocery website

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2016 Night Three

Posted in Reviews on June 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest poster

The car died as I pulled it into the spot outside Cafe 611, and it was abundantly clear it would not start again sans professional assistance. Oh, and it’s The Patient Mrs.‘ car. So there’s that.

That puts the tally of busted shit at: my feet (I’ve been wearing a supportive boot cast all weekend, not sure if I’ve mentioned that yet), my camera, and my wife’s car. Maryland Doom Fest 2016, you have thoroughly kicked my ass.

None of that is the fest’s fault, of course. After an awesome two and a half weeks, I was due a couple hits, and if anything, yesterday, the third and final day of the festival with another 11 bands on the bill starting at 3PM, it was the music that kept my head up while I was flipping out about things like waiting for tow trucks, The Patient Mrs. never picking up her phone, how the fuck I’m going to get back to Massachusetts with a dead car so I can start my new job on Tuesday, and so on. I’m thankful for that. Not sure I’d have made it through the afternoon otherwise without spontaneously combusting.

Time to wrap this thing up. If you’ve checked out the reviews of night one or night two, thanks, and thanks for reading this one too.

One more time, hello Frederick:

Mangog

Mangog (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ll admit it was somewhat strange to watch Bert Hall on stage holding a guitar. The longtime Maryland doomer has played bass through the years in Revelation and Against Nature and now is also handling thick strings and fuzzy-hat for Beelzefuzz, but in Mangog it’s guitar and backing vocals to complement those of Myke Wells. Completed by drummer Mike Rix (ex-Iron Man) and bassist Darby Cox, the four-piece announced this week that they’d signed to Argonauta Records for the early 2017 release of their debut album. Presumably most of what they played, whether it was “God” or “Into Infamy” or “Meld,” comes from that record, but they also played two of the three cuts — “Ab Intra” and the title-track — from their 2015 debut EP, Daydreams Within Nightmares. The band played their first show at Maryland Doom Fest last year, and are still finding themselves as a unit, but seemed to be on the right track with their aggressive blend of doom and metal. Wells was also the first frontman to stand on the P.A. speakers in front of the stage, so points there as well.

Flummox

Flummox (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The first, but not the last. Bassist/vocalist Blake Dellinger of Flummox, in checked leotard regalia and with one eye blacked out, also got on that speaker, in addition to thrashing around just about everywhere else on the Cafe 611 stage as he, guitarist Drew Jones, and drummer/vocalist Jody Lester tore into their raucous stoner thrash, which it’s easy to imagine has been a highlight of the last couple years at house shows in their native Murfreesboro, Tennessee, as well as other haunts around the South lucky enough to book the band. Youth was on their side, sure, but they still delivered one of the weekend’s most energetic sets, and had the chemistry between them to stand up to the force of their delivery. They’re also reportedly responsible for the Tennessean Sludge Fest, which this August features Place of SkullsDoomstressShroud Eater and Order of the Owl, among many others, so clearly doing good work on multiple levels.

DopeRider

Doperider (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Hailing from my beloved Garden State, sludge torquemongers DopeRider proffered massive tones offset by a couple stretches of ambience, putting them in league with the likes of Connecticut’s Sea of Bones or any number of crushers in the post-YOB sphere, and that is a compliment as far as I’m concerned. Their slow-churning, growling, thudding lumber wasn’t the first bout of extremity the weekend had seen — one still recalls Philly’s Black Urn starting off Friday — but it did speak to the expanding definition of what Maryland Doom Fest might continue to encompass. Uniformly brutal in their approach, DopeRider — who released a debut demo last year with the tracks “Drugged up Demonoid” (15:09) and “Fractal Resin” (6:07) — were thankful to the crowd, guitarist/vocalist MP saying that there wasn’t much like this in Jersey. I know from personal experience that’s 100 percent true, but little doubt DopeRider would’ve stood out on the bill whatever the context. Will keep an eye out for what they do next.

Seasick Gladiator

Seasick Gladiator (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ll admit that for a decent portion of D.C. residents Seasick Gladiator‘s set, I was outside dealing with the tow truck driver from AAA. Actually he was the second, past the one who tried to jump the car to no avail, so yeah, it took a minute. What I saw of the instrumental outfit offered metallic doom marked out through the use of violin, adding a sense of drama to the material as strings invariably will. They had some progressive edge that didn’t necessarily feel showy or overly self-righteous, and from what I heard sounded pretty fluid. Meanwhile, outside, the car still refused to start — battery? alternator? — and had to be dragged onto the back of the flatbed and hauled off to some local garage. A genuine what the fuck moment, but like I said, the music kept me going. Somehow I doubt it will be the last opportunity to catch Seasick Gladiator, and from the glimpses I got and from watching the end of their set after the truck drove away, their appeal came through even despite distraction.

Eternal Black

Eternal Black (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ll never pretend to even feign impartiality about any band Joe Wood is playing in. Aside from being a former bandmate, the Borgo Pass and Eternal Black drummer is among the nicest, most sincere individuals I’ve ever met — King of the Dudes — and whether he’s behind the kit or in the crowd, any day I get to see Joe is a good day, including this one. He is not, however, all that Eternal Black have working in their favor. Atop rolling The Obsessed-style riffs, the NY three-piece with Wood, guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob and bassist Hal Miller, fit right in with the sphere of Maryland doom but had more than a touch of Northeastern intensity to their approach as well, particularly from Wohlrob‘s vocals. The same was true of their first demo (review here), which was released last year, but they had a host of new songs in the set — “Snake Oil and Coffin Nails” was a highlight, along with “Sea of Graves” — and announced plans to record this summer/fall for a debut full-length, which will be one to anticipate. Granted NYC is four to five hours from where I live depending on traffic, but I still felt I probably should’ve seen Eternal Black by now. Glad I got to in such a setting.

Toke

Toke (Photo by JJ Koczan)

North Carolina’s Toke were the only band of the weekend to bring their own lights, and their focus on presentation likewise extended to how they carried themselves on stage, each of the three members putting his full body into the groove of their hard-hit, swinging riffs, seeming way more influenced by Sleep live than on their 2014 demo, High Friends in Low Places (review here), but still marked out on the harsher end of sludge by the vocals, which were on the more searing end of screams. Comprised of TimBronco and Jeremy, they reminded some of Elder‘s Matt Couto in the drumming style, but were on an entirely different trip sonically, and for a band who doesn’t yet have an album out, they had steady command over the stage, the room, and their consuming tonal largesse. Very obviously a band who’s done some road time — they played Denver Electric Funeral Fest earlier this month — and one who’ve dug in hard to their practice space. They were high among the most pleasant surprises at Maryland Doom Fest 2016, all three days.

Foghound

Foghound (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Foghound were not a surprise, true, but they were a joy to watch all the same. The Baltimore heavy rock kingpins are on the cusp of releasing their second album, The World Unseen (review forthcoming), on Ripple Music, and they absolutely blew me away last fall at Vultures of Volume II (review here), also in Maryland, but to hear those songs now and know them better, whether it’s the ultra-catchy “Rockin’ and Rollin'” or “Message in the Sky,” “Never Return,” “Above the Wake,” “Serpentine,” etc., was an entirely different experience, drummer Chuck Dukehart III and guitarists Bob Sipes and Dee Settar sharing vocal duties while bassist Jim Forrester held down the low end. Playing a set entirely comprised of new material only emphasized how far beyond 2013’s Quick, Dirty and High (review here) they’re ready to be, and like last time I was fortunate enough to catch them, they were air-tight musically, varied in the vocal arrangements and executed their set on a foundation of strong, waiting to be noticed songwriting. I know it kicks ass, but I’m eager to find out how The World Unseen catches on with listeners once it’s out, as I’m sure the band is as well.

Wasted Theory

Wasted Theory (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Like Foghound before them (and several others), Delaware’s Wasted Theory brought a sampling of their next outing, which is set to be recorded this fall, reportedly, for a 2017 release. I was talking the other night to guitarist/vocalist Larry Jackson, Jr., about the next Wasted Theory and he asked what I’d want to hear on it. Basically what I’d be looking for is a step forward from 2014’s Death and Taxes (review here). I’d want to hear that the band — Jackson, guitarist Dave McMahon, bassist Rob Michael and drummer Brendan Burns — was pushing itself in terms of melody and songcraft. Hard to judge from one live airing, but they seemed to be headed in that direction, bringing a more aggressive edge to some of the Southern groove that on the last album was such a huge part of their take. They still had a definite update-the-’70s classic heavy rock vibe, and Jackson‘s gravely vocals added burl as ever, but that progression that one might hope to hear in their sound came through at Cafe 611. They still have to record the next LP, but hopefully it follows suit when it arrives.

King Giant

King Giant (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve seen dark Virginian rockers King Giant a handful of times now — three or four, maybe, most recently at the aforementioned Vultures of Volume II (review here) — and their sheer have-their-shit-together factor remains hugely impressive. Dudes know exactly what they want their songs to do, where they want to put that Todd Ingram solo, what the verse is moving toward, etc. Vocalist Dave Hammerly had two mics setup with various kinds of compression, and the double-guitar five-piece proceeded to do their thing, which is to offer up grooving slabs of moody Southern heavy, bordering on metal in their attitude but really more about atmosphere than aggression, or at least about toying with that balance. “Requiem for a Drunkard” from 2015’s Black Ocean Waves (review here) was a high point sonically if a particularly downer vibe, but really, King Giant are in league with the safer bets you might make when it comes to quality of craft and performance in their style. It’s not always what I’m looking for stylistically, but for as much as King Giant put into their band, it’s impossible not to respect them.

Karma to Burn

Karma to Burn (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Kind of hard to believe it’s been nearly five years since the last time I saw Karma to Burn. Night and day. With the lineup of founding guitarist Will Mecum, bassist Eric Clutter and drummer Evan Devine the West Virginian instrumental powerhouse were in nothing but top form for their set. One might expect them to be on after having just done a month on the road with The Obsessed across the US, but propelled by Devine‘s crash, they rode Mecum‘s riffing with an energy I’ve never seen from them. The most recent cut they played was “57” from 2014’s Arch Stanton (review here) — though I thought I heard part of “62” as well — and of course their signature piece, “20” from 1999’s Wild Wonderful Purgatory was aired to a particularly fervent response. They were the only band of the weekend so far as I saw who elicited anything close to moshing, and it was well-earned. Just a killer show, front to back, and while I know Karma to Burn has a history of burning through rhythm sections, what Clutter and Devine bring to the band alongside Mecum isn’t to be understated. True power trio form, continually without compromise or bullshit.

Mos Generator

Mos Generator (Photo by JJ Koczan)

“We’ve been here since eight o’clock,” said Mos Generator frontman Tony Reed, “and I’m drunk.” To be fair, it was long past eight by the time the Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rockers took the stage for their headlining/fest-closing set. My fingers were crossed they’d have copies of their new album, Abyssinia (review forthcoming), but no dice. Bought a shirt instead. Their set launched at a furious clip and did not relent, drummer Jon Garrett stepping up to righteously follow what Evan Devine brought to Karma to Burn as bassist Sean Booth served to anchor the material and bolster the impact of Reed‘s guitar. “Lonely One Kenobi” was an early highlight, followed by “There’s No Return from Nowhere” from the new record and “Breaker” and the title-track from 2014’s Electric Mountain Majesty (review here), Reed, of whom I’ll make no bones about being a fan, letting his vocals soar for the latter while completely owning the stage and bringing the room along with him. Hard not to smile watching him on stage — someone so obviously born to do what he’s doing who then set about working really, really hard at it for decades — and he kept the intensity of performance going until the house lights came up as they played “This is the Gift of Nature.” The room had thinned out somewhat by then, as it will, but after a full hour of go-go-go, there was zero slowdown whatsoever. Some bands just want to rock and roll, and Mos Generator do so with a pure reverence for the form that few would dare attempt to match. They were absolutely on fire.

As I write this, I’m on the road in a rental car, headed back north. I start my new job tomorrow. The Patient Mrs., who was visiting family elsewhere in the state, came and picked me up in a rental car and is currently driving me and Postman Dan, who came along for the trip, north. As there’s been no word from the mechanic that the car got towed to, I’ll have to drive back to Frederick on Friday to pick it up. Serves me right for something, I’m sure. Unanswered emails, perhaps.

Before I cut out, I want to thank JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank for having me on board as a sponsor and for having me down to cover Maryland Doom Fest 2016. I know these reviews have been somewhat fraught in their context, but Matson and Cruikshank put on a hell of a show over these three days, and should be commended both for the efforts and the results yielded. I can only hope they keep it going and hope they’ll have me involved again next year.

If they do, I think next time I might just fly in. But I always say that.

Thanks for reading.

 

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Maryland Doom Fest 2016 Announces Complete Lineup

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

maryland-doom-fest-logo

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

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

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

maryland doom fest 2016

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

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

Tickets sales begin on Monday.

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

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

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

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

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

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