Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
After an initial foray into Maryland doom with the release of Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun‘s solo record earlier this month, Italian imprint Argonauta Records has announced another pickup from that crabbiest of states — newcomer outfit Mangog. The group, which features bassist Bert Hall, also of Beelzefuzz and formerly of Revelation, and drummer Mike Rix, formerly of Iron Man, will make their full-length debut through the label early next year with the ominously-titled Mangog Awakens, a follow-up for their initial EP, Daydreams Within Nightmares.
Looking forward to getting a glimpse of these guys live at Maryland Doom Fest this weekend. The label sent the following background info along with word of the signing:
ARGONAUTA RECORDS – NEW SIGNING: MANGOG
Beyond proud to announce that US doomsters MANGOG are now part of our family!
Mangog is a doom metal band based out of Baltimore, Maryland. Formed by bassist Bert Hall Jr. (Revelation and Against Nature), Drummer Stephen Branagan (Revelation, Against Nature and Yet So Far), Major Company’s Bassist Darby Cox and Final Answer’s Vocalist Myke Wells. In February of 2015 Drummer Mike Rix (formally of doom legends IRON MAN) replaced Steve Branagan.
After a year of REVELATION and AGAINST NATURE being on hiatus, bassist Bert Hall Jr. (now on guitar and vocals) assembled a lineup to form a dark alliance founded on the copious use of punishingly heavy riffs, odd ball time signatures (13/8 anyone?) and dystopian lyrics. The band entered the studio in March 2015 and recorded their debut EP titled “Daydreams Within Nightmares”. One year later in 2016 the band completed recording its first full length CD “Mangog Awakens”, and was signed to Argonauta Records.
The band says: “Mangog would like to thank Gero for singing us to Argonauta Records, he has fastly become our fifth band member in a sense and we look forward to his expertise and guidance in our future collaboration with this great label.”
The album MANGOG AWAKENS will be released in CD/DD by early 2017.
MANGOG are: Myke Wells – Vocals Bert Hall Jr. – Guitars/Vocals Darby Cox – Bass Mike Rix – Drums
Admittedly, I’ve got Maryland doom on the brain. Next weekend is Maryland Doom Fest 2016 at Cafe 611 in Fredrick (info here), and as a part of a stellar lineup that reaches well outside genre confines, Internal Void will put in a rare appearance that includes a guest spot from former drummer Eric Little (see also Earthride and the most recent offering from Church of Misery), marking the first time the complete Standing on the Sun lineup will be on the same stage in nearly a quarter-century.
To listen now to Standing on the Sun, issued in 1993 through Germany’s Hellhound Records, it’s a prototype workingman’s doom that bands around the Frederick area continue to build on to this day. As did concurrent groups like The Obsessed, Revelation, Wretched, Unorthodox and Iron Man, Internal Void set themselves to the task of refining a Sabbathian ethic on sans-frills principles, rolling out bluesy grooves in songs like “Take a Look” after beginning the album with a foreboding chug on “Warhorse” and before creeping their way through the title-track and the acoustic melancholy of the later “Eclipsed.” It’s worth noting that all of the above-listed bands issued albums between 1991 and 1993 via Hellhound, as did Saint Vitus, Pigmy Love Circus, Lost Breed, Count Raven and Year Zero, among others, and though located on a different continent, that label’s contributions to this pivotal formative stage of Maryland doom aren’t to be understated. Internal Void‘s Standing on the Sun remains a prime example of the attitude and aesthetic of Maryland doom, and even 23 years later, its roughed-up-Candlemass vibes ring through loud and clear of a time when doom and metal were in many ways far more interchangeable than they are today.
In addition to Little on drums, the band at the time was comprised of vocalist J.D. Williams, guitarist Kelly Carmichael and bassist Adam Heinzmann. Williams also fronts War Injun, and Carmichael and Heinzmann have done the requisite stints in Pentagram, but Internal Void remains a standout from their contemporaries. After Standing on the Sun, it would be seven years before their second album, Unearthed, arrived in 2000, and four after that for the follow-up, Matricide. They reissued their 1991 Voyages demo in time to sell copies at Roadburn 2012, which was where I last saw them — by coincidence, The Obsessed also played and will be at Maryland Doom Fest 2016 as well — and I’ve seen no indication of future plans past this one-off appearance. The basic operating rule seems to be that if you can see Internal Void, see them, because you never know when the chance will come again.
Getting there will require a bit of travel on my part, but next week is also the Quarterly Review, so keep an eye out for that. 50 reviews between next Monday and Friday. I expect by the end of it I’ll be very much ready to get out and see a show. We start Monday. Have I started putting any of it together yet? No I have not. As I’m also going to New York tomorrow and New Jersey on Sunday, I expect it’s going to be quite a weekend.
I want to thank Diane Farris aka Diane Kamikaze for having me down to WFMU once again for an appearance on her show, The Kamikaze Fun Machine. It was a pleasure and an honor to share the airwaves with her once again for two hours, and thank you as well if you had the chance to tune in. If not, the show is archived and available to check out here: https://wfmu.org/playlists/DK.
Of course, the focus next week is the Quarterly Review and travel to Maryland, but also look out for new videos from Mars Red Sky (along with a cool announcement), Kadavar, Telstar Sound Drone and Soon A.D., and a bunch of other news as well that I’m already behind on. This was my second week of unemployment before I start my new job at Hasbro, and it was fantastic. Really, this entire period has just completely underscored how ready I am to retire. I mean that. I’m not even kidding.
Gonna go head to the farmer’s market in a bit and get my hair cut, then enjoy a quiet evening with The Patient Mrs. before tomorrow brings its own brand of chaos. I hope you have a great and safe weekend, and thank you for reading.
Posted in Features on June 17th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
In the interview that follows, The Obsessed bassist Dave Sherman talks about his bandmate, guitarist/vocalist Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich, as one of the principal figures in doom. And no doubt he is. But what Sherman leaves out of that equation for the most part are his own contributions to the style. In his attitude and in decades of music in Wretched, Spirit Caravan, Earthride, Weed is Weed, King Valley and a slew of others, Sherman has come to embody the relentless pursuit at the heart of Maryland doom. Approachable, good natured and a lifer in his commitment to the heavy, he is no less a figurehead for that scene than Wino, Bobby Liebling of Pentagram, or anyone else. Maryland doom simply wouldn’t be what it is today without him.
Next week, The Obsessed — Sherman, Wino and drummer Brian Constantino — headline the second annual Maryland Doom Fest alongside Bang and Mos Generator. They just wrapped a full US tour with Karma to Burn and The Atomic Bitchwax (who cut their portion short due to injury and were replaced by Sierra), and announced along the way that they’ve signed to Relapse Records for the release of the first full-length by The Obsessed in more than two decades, tentatively-titled Sacred. It’s been a long, crooked road getting Wino and Sherman together as The Obsessed, even counting just from The Obsessed starting their reunion at Roadburn 2012 (review here), then dropping that to get back together and tour as Spirit Caravan before swapping one moniker for the other earlier this year, but to hear Sherman tell it, the journey seems to have been no less satisfying than it was complicated.
When we spoke a couple weeks ago, The Obsessed were getting ready to head into the final portion of the aforementioned tour, and were camped out in San Francisco waiting to go soundcheck at Slim’s. It was a relatively brief conversation, but in it Sherman talks about working with Frank “The Punisher” Marchand and Rob Queen on the new recordings — Queen also helmed the recently-unveiled “Be the Night” demo (posted here) — the signing to Relapse, the band’s place in doom history and more.
[Dee Calhoun releases Rotgut on June 6 via Argonauta Records. Click play above to stream the album in full.]
Currently six years deep into his tenure as frontman of Maryland doom stalwarts Iron Man, vocalist Dee Calhoun has a career that goes back more than two decades, having contributed vocals and/or bass to acts like Vision, Phantasm, Bullet Therapy and Land of Doom. That Calhoun would get around as a player shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone who’s heard him sing. His voice has a vibrato straight out of classic heavy metal in the Halfordian tradition, and he delivers lines with fist-pump-worthy power and enviable range able to move into a register high enough that his “Screaming Mad Dee” nickname seems duly earned. He’s the kind of vocalist you’d want fronting your band, and as heard on Iron Man‘s 2013 full-length, South of the Earth (review here), he only makes strong material stronger.
Rotgut, which comprises 12 tracks for a still-somewhat-manageable 55 minutes, is his first solo offering. Primarily, it features Calhoun himself, working with an acoustic guitar through songs that split the line between blues and unplugged metal atmospherically and, with cuts like “Babelkowa” and the spacious, folkish “Winter: A Dirge,” find him stretching beyond his comfort zone in one direction or another. At its core, though, Rotgut is a deeply personal affair, as emphasized by “Little ‘Houn Daddy ‘Houn” in the first half, on which Dee duets with his son, Rob Calhoun for what seems like something maybe built out for the record that started as the kind of thing a parent might sing to their child. It’s a genuinely touching moment.
Contrast that with the woman-done-me-wrong blues of “Backstabbed in Backwater” and the thrusting metal of the title-track — I don’t care if it’s distorted or not: it’s metal — and Rotgut offers a sense of breadth despite being stripped nearly to the bone in its arrangements. It does not feel like coincidence that it should open with “Unapologetic” before “Rotgut” itself and the perspective-affirming “Not Everyone Wins a Prize” take hold in succession, and the immediately defiant posture Calhoun takes on the leadoff track, his guitar backed by a shaker where on “Rotgut” it’ll come with harmonica, comes up down the line later on the twanging “Cast out the Crow” as well.
No matter where he takes a given song, however, the material belongs to Calhoun in a way that suits him well, whether that’s the more intentionally atmospheric “Sincerely Yours,” which boasts hand percussion and an electric guitar solo, or the six-minute “The Train back Home,” which seems to draw together a lot of what Rotgut is going for stylistically in its setting the vocals to soar over bluesy acoustic strum. Moments of flourish like Dee and Rob speaking before and after “Little ‘Houn Daddy ‘Houn” and Dee rounding out “Not Everyone Wins a Prize” with the spoken line, “Besides, everyone knows the best prizes come from within,” give sonic texture in addition to painting a fuller portrait of Calhoun as an artist, and the classical balladry of “Babelkowa,” while darker, adds to the context of the album overall while indulging a moment of solo voice and guitar to welcome effect. As much as he’s “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun, there’s clearly more underlying that persona as well, and Rotgut brings that forward in a way that would scare off lesser players — or perhaps those more prone to being apologetic in the first place.
As “Backstabbed in Backwater” gives way to “The Train back Home,” the die seems cast for the second half of the record, but Calhoun gives a different look with the trio of songs that begins with “Deifendör” and continues with “Cast out the Crow” and “Winter: A Dirge,” the album suddenly taking on something of a fantasy narrative. Calhoun, also an author, may indeed have been thinking of these together and how they might be read as a single thread, or they might have just fit, I don’t know, but with the crows and the winter and whatnot, it’s almost too easy to read a George R.R. Martin influence at work, which is quite a shift from “Backstabbed at Backwater,” whatever those crows and that winter might actually be metaphors for in reality.
Particularly the brief instrumental “Deifendör” seems like the beginning point of another movement of Rotgut, and “Winter: A Dirge” shifts into closer “At Long Day’s End” with a semi-continuation of the folkier vibe that also brings back some of the blues/metal of earlier songs like “Unapologetic” and “Not Everyone Wins a Prize,” so even more of the album as a whole is tied together as Calhoun closes out. One does not imagine a first solo outing is a decision lightly made, and I don’t know over how long a period this material was written — if it was years, I wouldn’t be surprised — but though he covers some ground sonically and stylistically from one cut to the next, Calhoun‘s voice remains the uniting element. Rotgut is a direct communication from Calhoun himself and all the more admirable for that, since that seems so clearly to be the intention in the first place.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 19th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
The question of whether or not Internal Void would play at Maryland Doom Fest 2016 was somewhat fluid at first, but over the last couple months, more details have emerged about what the hometown heroes will bring to the festival, and today there’s even more confirmation from their camp. As part of a three-day bill that also features The Obsessed, Bang, Mos Generator, Castle, Place of Skulls, Orodruin and many, many more, Internal Void will play a full-hour set that’s set to include a guest appearance from drummer Eric Little (most recently heard bashing skins on the new Church of Misery album), who played on the band’s 1993 debut, Standing on the Sun.
The Maryland Doom Fest 2016 performance will be the first time in 23 years the Standing on the Sun lineup of Internal Void appears together onstage. Fest is set for June 24, 25 and 26 at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD.
Here’s word from the band:
INTERNAL VOID – SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT
On Friday June 24 2016 Internal Void will be performing a 60 minute career spanning set as part of The Maryland Doom Fest being held at Café 611 in Frederick Maryland.
The line-up will consist of original founding members Kelly Carmichael (g), Adam Heinzmann (b) and JD Williams (v) with longtime friend and IV member for the past 7 years Brian Goad on drums (Brian was also in the line-up for a short period in the mid-90’s and currently plays with the excellent Nagato).
At this time Internal Void would like to announce that original drummer and founding member Eric Little (Dark Music Theory/Church of Misery/x-Earthride) will be joining the band on stage for a couple of songs from the band’s Standing on the Sun era for this special appearance.
This will be the first time in 23 years that the original Standing on the Sun lineup has performed live. So be there at Café 611 and The Maryland Doom Fest on Friday June 24 2016 to witness this reunion.
All the Best and DOOM ON!! Kelly, JD, Adam, Brian and Eric
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
A couple weeks ago, Spirit Caravan announced that Brian Costantino was taking over on drums alongside guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman. That, apparently, was just the beginning — and actually, it wasn’t the beginning — of the changes underway, since this incarnation of Spirit Caravan has morphed into a new version of The Obsessed, with a new album in the works and a first show slated as headliners of the first night of Maryland Doom Fest 2016. Hard to think of a more appropriate place for them to make their live debut, since Maryland doom wouldn’t exist as it does without them.
To my knowledge, this is the first time Sherman has been in a lineup for The Obsessed. The band has played sporadically since making a reunion debut at Roadburn 2012 (review here), featuring at the time Guy Pinhas, who’d soon be replaced on bass by Reid Raley (Rwake, Deadbird), as well as drummer Greg Rogers, who also featured on Goatsnake‘s reunion album last year.
No word on a release or recording date for the new The Obsessed album, nor the avenue/label through which it will be issued, but Wino posted the following update filling everyone in, and Maryland Doom Fest 2016 has confirmed them taking the place of Spirit Caravan, as you can see in the running order below:
This is Wino. First, thanks to all our friends, fans and families everywhere for their tireless support we’ve received on this journey we chose in making the music we love.
All over the world I’ve listened to friends tell me we want you to bring back the Obsessed so I have decided to resurrect the Obsessed.
I have been waiting for the right combination of Ability, Attitude and Personality to accomplish this goal. From this day forward The Obsessed is myself, Dave Sherman and Brian Costantino who have proven to be dedicated, fearless and unwavering in their love of this music.
We are diligently writing and working on getting into the studio to record a new Obsessed album and hope to have this out as soon as possible.
Maryland Doom Fest 2016
FRIDAY NIGHT • The Obsessed 1235 – 135 • Internal Void 1120 – 1220 • Castle 1020 – 1105 • Ruby The Hatchet 925 – 1005 • Pale Divine 830 – 910 • Demon Eye 735 – 815 • Admiral Browning 645 – 720 • Atala 600 – 630 • Black Urn 515 – 545
SATURDAY NIGHT • BANG 1235 – 135 • Place of Skulls 1140 – 1220 • Blackfinger 1125 – 1205 • Unorthodox 1030 – 1110 • War Injun 935 – 1015 • Hollow Leg 840 – 920 • Wizard Eye 750 – 825 • Spillage 700 – 735 • Argus 610 – 645 • Serpents of Secrecy520 – 555 • Wicked Inquisition 430 – 505 • Thousand Vision Mist 330 – 410 • Dee Calhoun 245-320
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 14th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
You can see the full lineup for Maryland Doom Fest 2016 below, and I’m sure once you glance at it you’ll agree that the Frederick, MD-based three-dayer needs me to talk it up like it needs a hole in the head. Conceived and organized by JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank, this year’s fest was announced with its full lineup back in October, and of course since that time some changes have been made. It’s inevitable. Place of Skulls were added, Internal Void‘s slot was clarified, and as we move into 2016 and invariably closer to the event itself, the fest is taking some time to highlight some of its special sets.
Getting Internal Void out for anything is pretty rare. I was fortunate enough to see them at Roadburn in 2012 (review here), but the native Maryland doomers don’t often get together, and it’s just as likely as not that Maryland Doom Fest 2016 will be their only appearance this time around. They share vocalist J.D. Williams with War Injun, who haven’t also played since 2013. For the fest, War Injun‘s lineup will include bassist Dave Sherman (Earthride, Spirit Caravan), and to sweeten the pot, they’ve brought in former Pentagram and current Weed is Weed guitarist Russ Strahan alongside Williams on vocals and Matson himself on drums.
Unorthodox, meanwhile, will play with the same lineup the band had when it was called Asylum, having gotten their start in 1981 as one of the earlier acts to come from the scene, along with The Obsessed and Force, who later became Iron Man.
In typically sans-bullshit fashion, the fest offers these facts and more below, in addition to the aforementioned full lineup. Dig in:
Internal Void – they have regrouped solely for The MDoomFest 2016 and this appearance will more than likely be their only gig.
War Injun – MDoomFest 2016 will be their first live appearance over 3 years. Lineup includes founding member and bassist Dave Sherman (Spirit Caravan / Earthride). Russ Strahan (Pentagram / W$W) has been added to the ranks on lead guitar.
Unorthodox – reunited with the original Asylum lineup. MDoomFest 2016 will be the second appearance of this unique progressive Md doom collaboration, the trio’s first reunion was MDoomFest 2015. The Asylum lineup members live in Md, Tennesee, and California. Their live performances are exclusively for The Maryland Doom Festival.
This will be IV’s first show since the Williams Benefit in 2013 and WI’s first show since Moving The Earth Fest in 2013.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last month, when the complete lineup for Maryland Doom Fest 2016 was announced here, there was some measure of confusion as to whether or not Internal Void would play. At the time, promoters JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank said the band, who released three albums — Standing on the Sun (1993), Unearthed (2000) and Matricide (2004) — during their initial run and have been off and on since (mostly off), would not, but that guitarist Kelly Carmichael would be unveiling a new project at the fest.
Whether or not that will still happen, I’m not sure, but Carmichael — who also played a solo blues set at Vultures of Volume in MD in Sept. (review here) — and the rest of Internal Void will indeed play, for what may or may not be the first time since 2013. They and Place of Skulls have joined the bill among previously-announced headliners Spirit Caravan, Bang and Unorthodox, and Place of Skulls are in a pretty similar situation. Their shows are more frequent, admittedly, but between guitarist/vocalist Victor Griffin‘s intermittent tenure in Pentagram and getting the In~Graved project going and bringing it to fruition, they’re nowhere near as active as they once were. To wit, their most recent outing, As a Dog Returns (review here), was released in 2010.
So, if you’ve been keeping up, this means that Griffin will be there, Wino will be there, Sherman will be there, and Unorthodox, War Injun, Pale Divine, Admiral Browning and Internal Void will play (among many others). It really is a Maryland doom fest. It’s not just a clever name.
True to the no-frills heart of Maryland doom, the announcement that came with the additions of Place of Skulls and Internal Void was straightforward, to the point, and laid it all on the line. It follows the posters below in its entirety: