Posted in Whathaveyou on January 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
I’ll admit I had to look up which Klingon it was that Captain Kirk told to ‘go to the devil.’ It was Kang. As I recall it was a censorship thing, because in 1968, when that episode of the original Star Trek aired, you couldn’t tell someone to go to hell on network television. I don’t know if Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun had Trek specifically in mind when he picked Go to the Devil as the working title of his soon-to-be-recorded second solo full-length, but it was certainly where my brain went in terms of the reference. Not everyone will have the same response, I suppose.
Whatever it’s ultimately called, Calhoun‘s sophomore outing, which as noted below will also feature Iron Man bassist Louis Strachan, will arrive at a quick turnaround from last year’s Rotgut (review here). That record was among 2016’s best debuts, so it’s only fair to say the follow-up will arrive with some anticipation behind it. After seeing the two perform together at Maryland Doom Fest last year (review here), I’ll look forward to hearing what Strachan brings to the studio material as well.
I could go on. Here’s the news:
DEE CALHOUN announces second solo album; to include Louis Strachan (Iron Man)
Argonauta Records is happy to announce that Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun will soon begin production on his sophomore solo album, the follow-up to 2016’s “Rotgut.” Recording will commence in late winter, mostly at Dee’s home studio The Dustbuster.
“The response to ‘Rotgut’ was so amazing, much more than I had ever hoped for,” Dee said. “People identified with the album’s honest simplicity, the honest messages within each song. Those good vibes kept the creativity flowing, and this follow-up will be the result.”
On this album, tentatively titled “Go to the Devil,” Dee will be joined by his Iron Man bandmate Louis Strachan, who will be handling bass guitar duties. “Lou is such a positive force, and has been such a great addition to live shows, it is a no-brainer to have him play on this CD” Dee said. “The material will still have the raw, stripped-down feel that the songs on ‘Rotgut’ had, only with the addition of those great, bouncy bass lines underneath.” Dee also indicates that the album’s themes will continue to follow his “I write what I feel” approach, mixed in with some storytelling elements.
“Go to the Devil” (again, the tentative title) is targeted for a late 2017 release.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
So I guess we’re pretty much ready to roll on Maryland Doom Fest 2017, right? We’ve had the lineup announced, we’ve got the schedule now. Might be another couple weeks getting t-shirts together — and hoodies; should’ve gotten a hoodie this year, which admittedly is something that occurs to one way less at the end of June than in mid-November — but then I’d say we’re about good to go. No need to wait until next summer on it. Let’s do this thing.
Maybe that’s just me being excited at the prospect of that Friday night lineup, which seems particularly strong front to back — not to take away from any of the other days, but you know I dig me some Lo-Pan — but either way, if Maryland Doom Fest‘s now-three-year tenure has been marked by anything it’s a lack of bullshit. A fervent get-down-to-business-and-kick-as-doing-it mentality. It’s perhaps the most “Maryland doom” aspect to the whole event. Maryland Doom Fest 2017 is clearly no different. Here we are more than half a year from the event kicking off and I know what time I need to be there on Thursday to watch Spillage start the pre-party. This is information I’m glad to have.
If your calendar isn’t marked yet, you might want to get on that:
The Maryland Doom Fest 2017
June 23, 2017 – June 25, 2017
611 N Market St, Frederick, Maryland 21701
SATURDAY JUNE 24 • The Skull 1245 – 150 • Bang! 1140 – 1235 • Wo Fat 1050 – 1130 • The Well 1000 – 1040 • The Watchers 910 – 950 • Hollow Leg 825 – 900 • Iron Man 740 – 815 • Dark Music Theory 655 – 730 • War Injun 610 – 645 • Thonian Horde 525 – 600 • Witches of God 440 – 515 • Black Tar Prophet 355 – 430 • Conclave 305 – 345
SUNDAY JUNE 25 • Headliner 1140 – 1245 • The Atomic Bitchwax 1045 -1130 • Serpents of Secrecy 955 – 1035 • Lightning Born 905 – 945 • Lifetime Shitlist 815 – 855 • Akris 730 – 805 • Burn Thee Insects 645 – 720 • Faith In Jane 600 – 635 • Cavern 515 – 550 • Old Blood 430 – 505 • Horehound 345 – 420
[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.
There is just no mistaking the metal in Dee Calhoun‘s pipes. Even in the context of the acoustic-twanging Rotgut, his forthcoming solo debut, the rare power in Calhoun‘s voice shines through in the force of his delivery. To wit, his new video for “Rotgut,” the title-track from the album, finds him exploring expression through guitar and percussion as well, but it’s still his singing that makes the song so striking. Moreover, Calhoun‘s ability to conjure a mood around his voice, a sense of struggle even when he’s so tuned to fist-pumping triumph, leaves the track feeling all the more like an accomplishment.
June 6 is the release date for Rotgut via Argonauta Records, and Calhoun also has a book out — Tales of the Screaming and Mad, derived from the nickname “Screaming Mad” Dee — so in addition to serving as the frontman for Maryland doom stalwarts Iron Man, he’s keeping plenty busy. Solo shows have also become more frequent, and if you’re looking for more of a taste of what Rotgut has to offer, there are an increasing amount of live clips available to surf through. Once he starts singing, you basically can’t miss him, even in the middle of the woods as he is here.
Video follows with more info on the clip and song, as found on the internets:
Dee Calhoun, “Rotgut” official video
Beyond stoked to premiere today the first single by Dee Calhoun, singer of Doom legends Iron Man Band, from his solo debut release “Rotgut”.
Produced and engineered by Dee Calhoun. Recorded at The Dustbuster, Frederick MD. Mastered by Doug Benson at Commodore Recording Studio, Thurmont MD. Lyrics and music by Dee Calhoun.
Dee Calhoun – vocals, guitar, percussion Muddy Jelly – Harmonica
From the album “Rotgut,” on Argonauta Records
Rotgut, the video: Directed and edited by Dee Calhoun. Cameras by Dee Calhoun and Robert Calhoun. Featuring Mike Orris as “The Junkman.” Special thanks to Dorothy and John Nahwooks. Public domain footage courtesy Internet Archive.
Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun has a June 6 release date set for his solo debut, Rotgut, via Argonauta Records. A teaser for the album, which also features a guest spot from Dee‘s son, Rob Calhoun, has been posted, and the cover art and tracklisting have been unveiled. The former is crafted by noted Maryland doom supporter and photographer Jaki Cunha, whose black and white style has been a staple of that region’s scene for I don’t even know how many years. You’ve seen her photos. I’m sure you have.
I haven’t heard the full record yet, but I’m willing to believe the teaser below tells it like it is when it starts out with Calhoun ripping into some of his trademark powerful vocals over touch-o’-twang guitars, finding a space between classic metal, singer-songwriterism and country. Interested to hear how that balance plays out across the album, but June’s a ways off, so here’s some info from the PR wire in the interim:
IRON MAN SINGER COMPLETES SOLO DEBUT; ALBUM TEASER, TRACK LISTING AND COVER ART REVEALED
“Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun, the voice of doom legends Iron Man, has completed production of his debut solo released, entitled Rotgut. The album is scheduled for June 6th via Argonauta Records on CD/DD.
Rotgut was recorded at Dee’s home studio, The Dustbuster, in Frederick Maryland. Mastering was done in nearby Thurmont Maryland, by Doug Benson at Commodore Recording Studio.
The track listing for Rotgut is as follows:
Unapologetic Rotgut Not Everyone Wins a Prize Little ‘Houn, Daddy ‘Houn (featuring Rob Calhoun) Babelkowa Backstabbed in Backwater The Train Back Home Sincerely Yours Deifendör Cast Out the Crow Winter: A Dirge At Long Day’s End
The album’s cover is based upon a concept by Dee Calhoun, and photographed by Jaki Cunha.
[picture by Angela Beth Greenberg / Polyester Bride Photography]
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Known for the last five years (wow time flies) as the vocalist for Maryland doom mainstays Iron Man, “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun has signed to Italian imprint Argonauta Records and will release his debut solo album, Rotgut, through the label this Spring. Calhoun has posted sporadic live acoustic pieces and unplugged cover tunes — the below version of “Ain’t No Grave,” for example — but Rotgut will be his first outing of original solo material in a career that goes back nearly three decades.
The singer also recently released his first book, a collection of short fiction titled Tales of the Screaming and Mad available through Amazon.
Here’s word from Argonauta:
ARGONAUTA Records new signing: DEE CALHOUN!
ARGONAUTA Records is beyond proud to announce a new great name is now part of the family: DEE CALHOUN – known to the masses as Screaming Mad Dee, the voice of doom metal legends IRON MAN – will release his debut solo album ROTGUT by late Spring 2016, available in CD/DD formats.
Rotgut bears its moniker not only as a title, but as a frame of mind.
“When I think of ‘rotgut,'” Dee explains, “I think of something inexpensively produced, very unrefined, and that knocks you on your ass when you indulge in it. And the next day, you’re still feeling it. This very much sums up my approach to this record. The songs on the album are very personal, and the acoustic approach suits them perfectly.”
As with most of Dee’s material – which spans nearly 30 years – the songs on Rotgut are (pardon the pun) from the gut, with no pretentiousness, and draw inspiration from the ongoing triumphs and struggles of everyday life. Mistakes, redemption, strength, and the knowledge that there are no promises, but only the eternal attempt to find happiness are just a few of the themes that the singer/songwriter from Frederick MD present here.
Dee Calhoun began his musical journey as a small boy, and first appeared on record in the late 1980s. He has been the singer/lyricist for Iron Man since 2010, appearing on two EPs and the critically acclaimed 2013 LP South of the Earth.
Regarding the signing with Argonauta, Dee is all smiles. “It’s important to me to work with entities who favor artists as opposed to product. Argonauta has an amazing roster of bands, and Gero is wonderful to work with. Our partnership is only in its infancy, but the first impressions have been top-notch. I look forward to this partnership moving onward and upward.”
[picture by Angela Beth Greenberg / Polyester Bride Photography]
Maryland doomers Iron Man put out word in September that they were working on some new demos. They’ve been playing new material live for a few months now at least, and that month they took part in the Shadow Woods Metal Fest in Pennsylvania, where they continued the trend. In the past, Iron Man have sometimes pressed up their demo material for limited-type, sold-at-show EPs and things like that, sold at the merch table in a slimline and not really available elsewhere. I have no idea if that’s what’s in store for “Black Morning” or not, but it makes a handy preview of where the four-piece are at in the songwriting process anyway, so you won’t hear me argue.
Even in demo-raw form, it’s pretty clear “Black Morning” has little interest in fixing what wasn’t broken on Iron Man‘s most recent studio outing, 2013’s South of the Earth (review here), but there’s an emotional crux to the track as well that seems to expand on what they were doing their last time out. Working in kind with the guitar of “Iron” Al Morris III, vocalist Dee Calhoun‘s lyrics take their theme from a 1985 Potomac River flood in Oldtown, Maryland, and in hearing the somewhat melancholy sound of the guitar — the riff setting a groove that bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann have no trouble locking in — it makes sense as a point of inspiration.
We’ll see if the song winds up on Iron Man‘s next record or anything else released in the interim. Until then, Calhoun posted the track with photos from the aforementioned flood and gave some insight into the lyrics’ origins. Enjoy:
Iron Man, “Black Morning” unreleased demo
Dee Calhoun of Iron Man on “Black Morning”:
November 5, 1985 was a day that I, as well as the residents of my hometown of Oldtown MD, will never forget. We stood on railroad tracks overlooking Main Street in Oldtown and watched the rising Potomac River flood our school, our post office, our general store, our lives. The aftermath of this event saw the people of my small town rise up and overcome adversity in a way that makes me proud to this day.
For the better part of three decades, I tried to write a song about this event, but could not find the right vibe to convey just what had happened. Then, Al came in with a riff, and I was inspired.
This song is about loss and tragedy, and it asks the question if these things can truly be overcome. It’s written to encompass any myriad of situations, but it was inspired by that night and following morning when the waters came and went, changing lives forever.
So tonight, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Oldtown MD flood, I give you the previously unreleased recording of Iron Man’s “Black Morning.”
[Please note: Shadow Kingdom reissued Black Night in 2009 and the album is available on Bandcamp here.]
If you ever wanted a primer or a summary of the entire Maryland doom scene distilled into one record, it might be Iron Man‘s 1993 debut, Black Night (reissue review here). I say that because even more than Pentagram‘s Relentless or The Obsessed‘s self-titled — both landmarks, make no mistake — Black Night has remained an underground phenomenon, and while its tracks and particularly the riffs of founding guitarist “Iron” Al Morris III are on par with any of the post-Sabbath downer metal that region has produced and at this point has influenced a lot of it, to a broader worldwide audience, Iron Man continue to be a relatively obscure act. Less so now than perhaps ever following the 2013 release of their latest album, South of the Earth (review here), on Rise Above, but still. Riffers don’t come much more underrated than Morris.
Whether that’s due to issues of race or if it was a lack of promotion at the time, I don’t know, but Black Night is all the more exemplary for the whole of Maryland doom for being undervalued. It is unremittingly straightforward, whether its the hook of its title-track or the basic frustration at root in the social commentary of “A Child’s Future,” and its roots are directly traced to Black Sabbath and the heart of what doom metal was taking from them and melding to the gallop of the NWOBHM at the time. Black Night, in being issued via the German imprint Hellhound, was one of a swath of records from the Doom Capitol area that saw release at what was apparently just the right time to make a lasting impact, and one could easily look at it as well as concurrent offerings from Unorthodox, Internal Void, The Obsessed, Revelation and Wretched as the blueprints for what Maryland doom has become.
As with any scene, the players involved are pivotal. Morris has remained in Iron Man, and vocalist Rob Levey founded and ran the Stoner Hands of Doom festival series, while drummer Ron Kalimon split his time with Unorthodox. Bassist Larry Brown stuck around to play on Iron Man‘s 1994 follow-up, The Passage (reissue review here), and had played in Force with Morris as well, but parted ways with the band after that, and Iron Man would go on to become a hub for players and vocalists in the tradition of Pentagram, though by no means that extreme in turnover.
Hoping for a new Iron Man release in 2016, but I haven’t heard any solid news in that regard. Now fronted by “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun with Louis Strachan on bass and Jason “Mot” Waldmann on drums, the band began playing new material live as of this summer. Hope you enjoy.
Well, The Patient Mrs. is in Portland, Oregon, for a conference until Sunday, and you know what that means: Bachelor weekend! My plans? Make chicken soup, vacuum, and if there’s time, log the recent mail in the Excel file where I keep track of everything (physical; I’m sorry, but there’s no keeping up with Bandcamp links) that comes in for review. That last item might be ambitious, but either way, it’s gonna be a fucking rager. Look out.
Next week: Radio Adds! Yes. Radio Adds. It’s going to happen. No joke, I have well over 100 albums sitting in a folder on my desktop waiting to go on the server, and next week, it’s happening. It’s been since June, and it’s getting ridiculous, so the time has come. I’ll set it all up Sunday. Also Monday I’ll be streaming the new EP from Return from the Grave that Argonauta Records is putting out, and maybe Tuesday I might (fingers crossed) have a Death Hawks track premiere. I’m loving that album. Svart does not screw around.
Speaking of streams, if you didn’t listen to it yet, that Kristian Harting album is very much worth your time. Stream it here.
If you’re the celebrating-Halloween type, be safe. Whatever your plans might be — bet they don’t have you nearly as excited as the prospect of chicken soup has me — I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.