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:
Posted in Reviews on October 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Not familiar with the 1978 film from which Admiral Browning‘s Corvette Summer takes its name? Don’t sweat it. I don’t think the band could hold it against you. Corvette Summer stars a post-Star Wars, pre-EmpireMark Hamill as a recent high school grad whose sportscar gets stolen and he spends the entire summer trying to track down the jerks who took it. Yup, that’s the movie. On the tape version of Admiral Browning‘s latest EP, you even get to hear the audio from the trailer. How the Maryland three-piece came into awareness of its existence, I don’t know, but for an outfit who’ve always specialized in doing things just a little weird, just a little their own way, to release a hand-signed red metallic four-song limited tape EP (five if you grab the download) with two studio tracks on side one and two live tracks on side two, housed in a classic red case with their logo in a blazing late-’70s font at the top makes a fitting kind of sense. It’s better not to ask questions, in other words. Just roll with it.
It’s been two years since Admiral Browning‘s fifth album, Give No Quarter (review here), was released. A change in geographic situation — i.e. one of them moved — can be blamed for a relative lack of activity, but Corvette Summer was put together to coincide with a recent week-plus on the road, and they’ve embarked on a series of digital, expanded reissues for their past albums, so guitarist Matt LeGrow, bassist Ron “Fez” McGinnis and drummer Tim Otis are by no means done.
And in addition to sitting on the merch table at shows, Corvette Summer serves the further purpose of pushing the long-instrumental outfit’s continuing experiment with vocals even further than did the last album, LeGrow and McGinnis harmonizing on the side one studio cuts “Human Dilemma” and “The Devil’s in the Details” to an effective degree that enhances the bizarro-prog sensibility that has long been in their songcraft while also grounding the material in a way that supports their blazing turns of rhythm rather than detracting from them. Particularly the latter, “The Devil’s in the Details,” is delivered with a focus on hook that, when Admiral Browning released Battle Stations (review here) in 2011 probably would’ve been inconceivable for them. That’s not to critique their progression one way or another, just noting that in addition to their grooves, sometimes the nature of the band itself is given to unexpected shifts.
That also suits Admiral Browning well, and if Corvette Summer is meant to be an experiment in realizing the next stage of the band, they deliver a comprehensive glimpse at where they might be headed between sides one and two. Recorded in March at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD, at a gig which also hosted local luminaries Righteous Bloom, Nagato and Faith in Jane, both cuts on the tape — “Corvette Summer” itself and “Spanish Trampoline” — are instrumental, but the download also gives a live version of “Human Dilemma” as a bonus track that finds LeGrow and McGinnis working through the vocal arrangement smoothly on stage while Otis pushes through his standard-operating-procedure cardiovascular drumming method behind.
The core of Admiral Browning‘s approach has always been the trio’s ability to remain heavy in the face of technical intricacy and to groove while fulfilling frenetic pacing and unrepentant nuance. That has not changed, but their melodic conceptualization has, and ultimately makes them a stronger, more versatile act. I wouldn’t necessarily expect Admiral Browningafter Corvette Summer to go all-out, vocals-every-song, verse-into-chorus-into-verse on every release from here on out, but the simple fact that they have another tool in their arsenal — two, if you count the contributions of both singers — only broadens their reach as they move forward.
Hopefully they do move forward. Corvette Summer plays a distinct role as a stopgap in demonstrating the trio’s commitment despite living apart — the tour does likewise — but the question remains as to what their process might be for putting together a full-length follow-up to Give No Quarter while essentially having to work around an all-in-the-same-room approach or otherwise jam out in limited or intermittent stretches. Whatever they do next, the progression they continue to show in everything they do is plainly evident in “Human Dilemma” and “The Devil’s in the Details,” and while the tape is short, it finds them undaunted in their considerable task. If this is how Admiral Browning can keep growing, then so be it. They still sound like a band who needs to be making this music, and they deliver here with a clarity that highlights how underrated they truly are.
Admiral Browning, “The Devil’s in the Details” Live in MD, 2013
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
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:
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!
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
I’ve officially decided that I’m going to at least semi-retire Wino Wednesday after the 200th edition. A fictional document has been written in legalese, signed and notarized — yes, my brain has its own internal notary — and included in that are clauses stipulating that the feature can be revived pretty much any Wednesday I feel like it and that all parties involved acknowledge that 200 posts will be plenty and that if there are any complaints, I’ll simply point the complainer back to the 200 editions preceding, because there’s no way he or she possibly read them all. I’m sorry, just no way.
So that’s that. We’ve got eight more Wino Wednesdays to go, however, and this week’s comes from Spirit Caravan‘s recent appearance at the inaugural Maryland Doom Fest in Frederick, MD. Organized by War Injun drummer JB Matson, the festival was by all accounts I’ve seen a rousing success, and well deserved. Matson put together a killer lineup and Spirit Caravan were among the headliners, playing as the trio of Wino on guitar/vocals, Dave Sherman on bass/vocals and Ed Gulli on drums in place of Henry Vasquez, who was in Europe with Saint Vitus at the time, that band being fronted by original vocalist Scott Reagers at least for the time being.
What makes Gulli‘s presence in the trio so special, particularly for a song like “Kill Ugly Naked” — which was released on Spirit Caravan‘s classic 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun — is the fact that he played drums for The Obsessed when that band recorded it on their 1985 promo demo. Gulli and “Kill Ugly Naked” quite literally have 30 years of history between them. Fucking awesome.
The shot’s a little odd — a 16:9 aspect ratio, vertical, is just bizarre looking — and where Sherman should be there seems instead to be somebody’s elbow, but the sound is decent and you get a sense for how killer the performance was, so I’ll take it. Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, the Maryland Doom Fest has already announced its 2016 dates. It’ll be the weekend of June 24, 2016, once again at Cafe 611 in Frederick. Excellent.
Spirit Caravan, “Kill Ugly Naked” Live at Maryland Doom Fest
The beating heart of Maryland doom lies in Frederick. It’s not the traditional “Doom Capitol” — that being D.C. or at least Baltimore — but it’s where the style lives on and flourishes today, and it’s from whence the newcomer four-piece Mangog hail, their style steeped in the lurching traditions, downer riffing and sonic heft for which the Maryland scene is so rightly revered. The band features in its lineup former Revelation and current Righteous Bloom bassist Bert Hall — here on guitar and vocals — and ex-Iron Man drummer Mike Rix alongside vocalist/intermittent guitarist Myke Wells (who co-directed the video) and bassist Darby Cox (also of Major Company and Hall‘s experimental hip-hop outfit, Negro Childe), and “Ab Intra” is the first audio they’ve made public from a forthcoming demo, and one finds its eight-minute roll (reportedly they’re playing it slower now, thus further elongating) working in regionalist form as what should be a welcome introduction to the converted awaiting their arrival.
Formed late in 2014, Mangog hit the studio in April with producer Drew Mazurek to track their debut demo, and they’ll make their first stage appearance at the end of this month at the Maryland Doom Festival in — where else? — Frederick, at Cafe 611, performing at the final day of the fest on June 28. If their pedigree isn’t enough to pique interest for those making the pilgrimage to the inaugural three-dayer, then “Ab Intra” should get the job done, with its eerie intro and subsequent theatrical flourish — no, I’m not just talking about Hall‘s fuzzy hat — and moody sensibility. Not sure on an exact release date for the demo. Presumably it would be in-hand for the Maryland Doom Fest, but one never really knows how that kind of thing is going to work out. In any case, worth keeping an eye on, and you can do precisely that (mostly with the video below.
Mangog, “Ab Intra” official video
We premiered the first song from our demo, “Ab Intra”, recorded and produced by the great Drew Mazurek (Gwar, Revelation, Jawbox)! We hope you’ll enjoy our video for “Ab Intra”, directed and filmed by our very own Myke Wells and Jonathan Carroll of X9 Records!
Come see our debut at the Maryland Doom Festival! Tickets are only sold online! Get ya doom on!
The Maryland Doom Festival June 26-28 Cafe 611 611 N. Market Street Frederick, Maryland 21701
Posted in On Wax on June 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Mumble is the self-released debut vinyl long-player from Frederick, Maryland, trio Old Indian, and though their moniker and their home base both bring a certain amount of expectation to the release — i.e. they’re called Old Indian and they’re from Frederick, so they must be stoner doom — the record itself plays out with a much more intricate stylistic spread. It’s eight songs, four on each side, totaling a relatively quick 33 minutes, but even so, the turns that the trio of guitarist/vocalist Cory Springirth, bassist/backing vocalist Mark Weeks and drummer/backing vocalist Evan Owens manage to pull off make Mumble a more nuanced experience than one might anticipate.
Even just side A. All four of its songs hover around four minutes long, but that proves to be more than enough time for each to establish its own sonic personality, whether it’s the loosely progressive noodling that starts opener “Space Connect,” the bizarre lounge jangle and swing of “Mean Man,” which Springirth uses as the backdrop to introduce his yelping bluesy vocal style and from which Owens sort of inexplicably launches into a drum solo in the midsection, or the purely Saint Vitus-style fuzz of “Too Old to be Cool,” which rolls out low-end heavy in its initial push and tops it with plucked guitar strings at the headstock before opening to a wider, more subdued verse that still swings but does so quietly, giving the vocals room, or the psych-country twang of “Bedside Blues,” on which the vocals are less, well, mumbled, to start with, and which shits in its midsection to an upbeat, near-rockabilly push that features some choice bass runs from Weeks beneath the guitar.
Already the vibe of Mumble is all over the place, but side B works to establish a spirit that, while still malleable, is also somewhat more cohesive one cut into the next. “The Riff” is a solid title, and accordingly its central riff is worthy of highlighting, but the bass fuzz that underscores the later solo is actually the high point, while on the subsequent “Just a Bum,” Springirth offers a touch of Dick Dale influence in the surf-style guitar before winding up in a punkish verse and pushing through a final lead. Oh yeah, and the song’s two and a half minutes long — nothing if not efficient in its motion.
“Eyelids” is more laid back from the start, playing the low end of “Too Old to be Cool” off more post-grunge oddity and trades between tin-can vocals over open spaces and heavier jamming, an undulating sort of riff emerging near the finish of the three-minute track that cuts out to let Owens‘ cymbals lead the way into the bass beginning of seven-minute closer “Spanish Blues.” Noteworthy that both sides end with a “Blues,” but the “Spanish” variety is on its own trip, taking longer to develop, but also farther-ranging. The extra time is given to instrumental exploration and plotted parts that suit Old Indian well, the last four minutes or so taking off from the foundation of the song and heading outward from there on a satisfying plunge into immersive, rolling heavy that like the rest of the record before it, is decidedly their own in its style and execution.
Unquestionably that’s one of the greatest impressions Mumble leaves behind when it’s over — of individuality. Being their first album, it shows Old Indian can essentially develop as a band in one of two ways: either they can take these elements and tighten them into a crisp but ultimately more single-minded aesthetic, or they can keep getting weirder on an anything-goes Ween-style blend of genres. I don’t think I’d argue if they said they were going to give either a shot, since a more subtle factor on Mumble is the songwriting itself. It might get lost underneath the basic appeal of Springirth‘s yowling vocals, the fuzz, the reverb or the jangle, but it’s there all the same, and ultimately that’s what’s going to make it work as Old Indian move forward from here, in whatever direction they might go.
It’s been two weeks since the last Wino Wednesday, which I think is as long as I’ve gone in the more-than-three-years since the feature started. Between the Quarterly Review and traveling for Roadburn, time was pretty limited, but I didn’t want to let it go any longer than it already has, so here we are. Half a decade ago, in 2010, Scott “Wino” Weinrich, issued his first acoustic album, Adrift (review here), via Exile on Mainstream.
Having at that point already fronted the beginning stages of the Saint Vitus reunion, it was something of a side-step for the guitarist/vocalist, still just three years removed from the last The Hidden Hand album and also participating at that point in Shrinebuilder‘s 2009 offering and the subsequent shows, but for Wino fans, it made sense for him to dig to the roots of his songwriting process and unearth something like Adrift, which in turn led to his collaboration with Conny Ochs and a new style of performance he continues to refine today.
I wouldn’t call his first steps in that direction tentative. His first acoustic tour was with his Shrinebuilder bandmate Scott Kelly, also of Neurosis, and they released a split 7″ to mark the occasion, but with Adrift, we got to see a new side of Wino‘s personality, not necessarily separate from the ride-these-riffs grooves of Spirit Caravan or the foundational trad doom of The Obsessed, but more contemplative, more up front. An acoustic guitar provides little cover, and Adrift laid bare a lot of Wino‘s persona in a way that felt sincere in the listening and still managed to deliver in terms of songwriting and performance.
For this week’s Wino Wednesday, we have a clip of Wino playing the title-track of Adrift live at Guido’s Speakeasy, in Frederick, Maryland, which is arguably the epicenter of Wino‘s influence at this point. At the very heart of a Maryland doom he helped create, he stands with an acoustic guitar, a crappy stand that can’t seem to actually hold up the microphone, and someone with a shaky cellphone recording it vertically. It’s not the best quality clip I’ve ever posted for a Wino Wednesday, but worth it for the solo at the end.
Hope you enjoy:
Wino, “Adrift” Live at Guido’s Speakeasy, Frederick, MD, Feb. 1, 2014
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 14th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you ever find yourself in need of some Maryland doom cred, being able to say something like, “I played on the self-titled The Obsessed record” is bound to help out. Of course, there are only three dudes who can actually make that claim, and drummer Ed Gulli is one of them. The other two are guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich and bassist Mark Laue, but as news comes out that current Spirit Caravan drummer Henry Vasquez will be on tour with Saint Vitus at the time, it’s Gulli who’s stepping in alongside Wino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman to play in Spirit Caravan for their headlining set at the first Maryland Doom Fest this June.
Now, to hear War Injun drummer and fest-organizer JB Matson tell it, as he does below, Mark Laue will also be on hand helping Gulli run sound all weekend, so basically what you’ve got is the potential — not saying it’s happening, not saying anything’s been confirmed — for a scenario where self-titled era The Obsessed maybe gets on stage and does a song or two at some point either during Spirit Caravan‘s set or maybe after or who knows. Even if that doesn’t happen, having Gulli up there with Sherm and Wino is something pretty special, and it seems like a one-time thing exclusive at this point to the Maryland Doom Fest. Given just how much of a blueprint The Obsessed‘s The Obsessed has been for what’s followed in Maryland doom — second perhaps only to Pentagram in its influence — even just the potential of seeing that lineup together is noteworthy.
Henry will be on tour with Vitus so Ed Gulli will be drumming for Spirit Caravan at The Maryland Doom Fest and they will be playing multiple Obsessed songs from the purple album…..yes, The Obsessed Caravan.
Mark Laue (purple album bassist) will also be present at the fest as Ed Gulli will be the stage manager and Mark is also helping keep things rolling. You never know what could happen having all three members present at the same festival.
The Maryland Doom Fest 1
June 26 – 28, 2015
Cafe 611, Frederick, MD
A weekend of doom metal in its purest form.
FRIDAY The Skull 1225-130 Sixty Watt Shaman 1115-1210 Unorthodox 1005-11 Weed Is Weed 855-950 Into The Void 755-840 Banned From H.E.L.L. 655-740 Primer Grey 6-640
SATURDAY Spirit Caravan 1215-130 Apostle of Solitude 1105-1200 Outside Truth 1010-1050 Valkyrie 910-955 Project Armageddon 815-855 Foghound 720-8 Balam 630-705 Slaves B.C. 540-615 Season of Arrows 445-525
SUNDAY Iron Man 1045-1215 Foehammmer 945-1030 Lord 845-930 Mind’s Eye 745-830 Nagato 650-730 Serpent Witch 655-735 Mangog 6-640