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.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 14th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Acts are traveling from as far as Colorado to play, but even more than the geographic pull, the stylistic breadth of the inaugural Shadow Woods Metal Fest and the concept of the event are what really stun. Set to take place Sept. 25, 26 and 26 in White Hall, Maryland, the festival brings together bands from black metal, various incarnations of dark folk, psychedelia and doom for a three-day camp-out that’s as much an experiment in form as in style. Midnight headline — and if the thought of watching Midnight in the woods doesn’t appeal to you, you’ve probably never heard the band — and the likes of Iron Man, Heavy Temple, The Flight of Sleipnir, Occultation, Hercyn and Hivelords will play, among many others, on two stages that come complemented by workshops of various kinds, food and even yoga sessions.
Tickets are only being sold in advance, and if the thought of doing ritual black metal yoga in the forest isn’t enough for you, the whole thing is BYOB, so you can basically roll up with a cooler in your trunk and fantasize about an underground metal utopia where everything’s off the grid and everyone who sucks lives somewhere else. There are only 350 spots available, and I have no idea how many are left.
There is a lot of information below. If you take away anything from this, though, take away how fucking impressive I think the scope of this whole thing is and how deeply I hope they pull it off with no snags and it becomes an annual event. Also take away the ticket link, or, you know, click it.
SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST: Inaugural East Coast US Open Air/Camping Metal Fest
In just two weeks, the inaugural installation of SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST — the new mid-Atlantic, open-air, camping-based metal fest — kicks off, the gathering running from September 25th – 27th, 2015, in White Hall, Maryland, about thirty minutes north of Baltimore.
At the debut SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST, thirty-six bands will perform over Friday and Saturday, with lead performances from Midnight, Falls of Rauros, Occultation, Velnias, Iron Man, The Flight of Sleipnir, Dweller In The Valley, Dreadlords, Stone Breath, and many more. SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST will also be the first live performance for the surviving members of Wormreich since their tragic vehicle crash in April. The gathering showcases underground black, doom, death, and noise and experimental metal bands on three alternating stages all day Friday and Saturday. Camping and workshops on topics such as runes, guitar maintenance, yoga and more will be offered and are included in the ticket price. Artists and record labels will be vending alongside several onsite food stands.
Ticket purchasers will be given the exact street address. There will be ZERO ticket sales at the gate for SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST — advance presales to those 21 years of age and older is the only way into the fest, which is also BYOB. Tickets go off sale at 9 am on Friday, September 25th, the official time the gates open. There are only 350 tickets in total to be sold, and three-quarters have already been snapped up. For complete details and links to tickets and the fest merch store with exclusive art prints and t-shirt designs, go to www.shadowwoodsmetalfest.com
The bands chosen to perform SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST reflect the diversity of the underground music scene in the mid-Atlantic region plus a few from across the country. Official sponsors for the fest include Grimoire Records and MusicfortheDead.com.
SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST is a production of Metallomusikum.com of Baltimore, with promotional support from Lokvlt Productions in Philadelphia, WinterForge Promotions in Pittsburgh, Leftover Pizza Productions in Frederick, Maryland and Slimehole/Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia.
Just what the hell is Dee Calhoun talking about in the new Iron Man song “Eulogy for Queen City?” I have no idea, but man that guy can wail. And “Iron” Al Morris can riff, and bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann groove like madmen, so here we are. Iron Man‘s got a new track out. The rest can be sorted later.
“Eulogy for Queen City” marks the first new song Iron Man have made public since the release of their 2013 full-length and Rise Above Records label debut, South of the Earth (review here). The band have had quite a ride since that album came out, playing the UK for the first time and getting at least a fraction of their due as their tenure moved further beyond the quarter-century mark, but I guess it’s reasonable to have them working on new stuff at this point — been a quick two years since that album showed up.
The clip below — prepare yourself for some cymbals early on — was filmed at the first annual Maryland Doom Fest last month in Frederick, MD, which also featured the likes of Spirit Caravan and The Skull. As much as Iron Man have done in their time, it’s hard to imagine them being at home anywhere more than at a Maryland Doom Fest. Their career is more or less an analog for the entire MD doom scene at this point: Quality over profile, vastly underrated. They certainly seem to be in their element in the video, which was filmed by Michael “Lucifer Burns” Lindenauer.
Iron Man, “Eulogy for Queen City” live at Maryland Doom Fest
Upcoming Iron Man shows: August 15- Tennessean Sludge Fest (Murfreesboro) August 28 – All That Is Heavy, Ottawa, ON Canada August 29 – Toronto (benefit) Sept 3 – Shadow Kingdom Records Riot (Cleveland) Sept 26 – Shadow Woods Metal Fest (White Hall, MD) Oct 2 – Sidebar Baltimore
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
In conjunction with Hells Headbangers and its Hells Headbash, Shadow Kingdom Records has announced the inaugural Shadow Kingdom Riot for Sept. 3 at the Agora in Cleveland. Night Magic, which is an extension of defunct doomersHour of 13, will play, as well as Tombstalker, Coven, Iron Man, Venomous Maximus and Temple of Void on a bill thoroughly doomed and fitting the label’s passion for underground heavy and classic metal. They’re saying it’ll be an annual thing, and if that turns out to be the case, Shadow Kingdom are already giving themselves something tough to outdo for a one-night lineup.
The PR wire has knowledge it wants to share:
Shadow Kingdom Records Announces First Annual ‘Shadow Kingdom Riot’ Showcase
Venomous Maximus to Headline Raucous Lineup of Diverse Underground Metal September 3 in Cleveland
Acclaimed, independent underground heavy metal label SHADOW KINGDOM RECORDS is proud to announce its first label showcase, set to take place September 3, 2015 at Cleveland, Ohio’s Agora Ballroom. Dubbed the Shadow Kingdom Riot, the special event will spotlight the label’s eclectic roster of true heavy metal acts, from new signings — such as VENOMOUS MAXIMUS and TOMBSTALKER — to bands that date back to the label’s launch in 2007, like Maryland’s heralded IRON MAN.
Tickets for the Shadow Kingdom Riot are $15 and are on sale now at this location. The showcase is presented in part with Shadow Kingdom’s sister label, Hells Headbangers and that label’s second 3-day annual anniversary fest, Hells Headbash (see details here), slated for September 4-6, also at the Agora Ballroom. Metal fans who purchase a 3 day pass to the Hell’s Headbash event will receive FREE admission to the Shadow Kingdom Riot show on September 3, as part of the package.
The Shadow Kingdom Riot lineup and schedule will feature the following Shadow Kingdom Records artists, performing as follows:
6 PM: TOMBSTALKER (Black/Death Metal) 7 PM: TEMPLE OF VOID (Doom / Death Metal) 8 PM: COVEN (Classic Heavy / Doom Metal) 9 PM: NIGHT MAGIC (aka HOUR OF 13 / Doom Metal) 10 PM: IRON MAN (Doom Metal) 11 PM: VENOMOUS MAXIMUS (Dark Heavy Metal)
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It turns out Pull had to them-out (get it?) of the first-ever Maryland Doom Fest, but they’ve been replaced by reunited riffers Nagato, who got back together last year after a cessation of activity in 2012. Thick on vibe, they’ll add progressive atmospherics and gorgeous tone to the lineup of the fest, which takes place from June 26-28 at Cafe 611 in Frederick, Maryland. I’ve only been fortunate enough to see the four-piece once, at Stoner Hands of Doom XI in 2011 (review here), for which they also played on a Sunday, but that set left enough an impression that four years later I keep hoping I’ll hear some news about them putting out a record sooner or later.
They might get there. I know the members of Nagato are involved in a few other projects as well, so maybe their playing Maryland Doom Fest is enough for the moment. They’ve joined a killer lineup, for which the final schedule has just been announced.
And just so we have it all in one place, alphabetically, here’s the full lineup as of now (there are still a couple months to go, things can change) for the inaugural Maryland Doom Fest: Apostle of Solitude, Balam, Banned from H.E.L.L., Foehammer, Foghound, Into the Void, Iron Man, Lord, Mangog, Mind’s Eye, Nagato, Outside Truth, Primer Grey, Project Armageddon, Season of Arrows, Serpent Witch, Sixty Watt Shaman, Slaves B.C., Spirit Caravan, The Skull, Unorthodox, Valkyrie, Weed is Weed.
Poster by Audrey Mantel and running order follow, along with Nagato‘s return show last August:
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
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Warms my cold, cruel heart to see Iron Man getting out again. The long-running Maryland doom outfit founded by guitarist “Iron” Al Morris III released their latest album, 2013’s South of the Earth (review here), on Rise Above Records in the UK and Metal Blade in the States and since that time have been receiving an overdue comeuppance of attention. They played Rise Above‘s 25th anniversary party in London and made several other European appearances last year, and now they’ve announced an 11-date run that will take them up the East Coast before circling around to the Midwest and finishing in Ohio.
Of course, they’ve been here and there since first getting together in the late ’80s, but actual tours are rarer, and this Iron Man lineup — Morris, vocalist Dee Calhoun, bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann — have developed a marked chemistry on stage to go with Morris‘ classic riffing style and landmark tone. They take to the road as ambassadors for the righteousness of Maryland doom, and no doubt they’ll be greeted as liberators wherever they might happen to be on any given night.
Speaking of Maryland doom, Iron Man will take part in the first Maryland Doom Fest this June, alongside Spirit Caravan, The Skull and many more (info here). For this tour, they’re joined by D.C. metallers Yesterday’s Saints. Dates and links follow:
Iron Man / Yesterday’s Saints 2015 US Tour
3/12 Washington, DC The Pinch, 3548 14th St., NW, Washington, DC 202-722-4440 3/13 Allentown, PA Jabber Jaws, 1327 W. Chew St., Allentown, PA 484-426-9380 3/14 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., Philadelphia, PA 215-291-4919 3/15 Brooklyn, NY The Paper Box, 17 Meadow St., Brooklyn, NY 718-383-3815 3/16 Providence, RI Dusk, 301 Harris Ave., Providence, RI 401-714-0444 3/17 Salem, MA Koto, 90 Washington St., Salem. MA 978-594-8681 3/18 Buffalo, NY Broadway Joe’s, 3051 Main St., Buffalo, NY 716-833-7000 3/19 Ft. Wayne, IN Skeletunes (former Berlin Music Pub) 1201 West Main St., Ft. Wayne, IN 260-739-5671 3/20 Detroit, MI The Sanctuary (Yonka House) 1501 E. Outer Dr., Detroit, MI 3/21 Columbus, OH Ruby Tuesday Bar, 1978 Summit St., Columbus, OH 614-291-8313 3/22 Dayton, OH Courtyard Lounge, 320 W. National Blvd., Englewood, OH 937-836-9511
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
There isn’t much more to the Maryland Doom Fest 2015 at this point than a list of bands, dates and a place, but that’s really all you need. In true Maryland doom style, no bullshit, no one-at-a-time teasers, just “here’s this awesome thing” and you can either show up or suck. The inaugural edition of the Frederick-based fest will take place at Cafe 611 and bring together a killer assemblage of acts, headlined by The Skull and Spirit Caravan and also boasting Apostle of Solitude and War Injun-offshoot Outside Truth.
To that point, while Maryland itself is well represented — Spirit Caravan, Outside Truth, Iron Man, Weed is Weed, Foghound, Mind’s Eye, Pull, Daydreams with Nightmares, etc. — the festival’s reach is immediately wider, not only pulling in Lord and Valkyrie (the latter of whom should have a new album out by then, on Relapse) from nearby Virginia, but reaching up the Eastern Seaboard to nab Rhode Island’s Balam and into the Midwest for The Skull and Apostle of Solitude, who together supplied some of 2014’s best doom in their latest albums. What’s consistent throughout the lineup is the spirit of doom. There’s some variety around sludge, stoner, heavy rock and so on, but it’s a riffer’s delight front to back and it looks like it’ll be one worth traveling to see.
I’m not sure if more bands are being added, but presumably there will be a change here and there one way or another — June 26-28 is a long time away — and if I hear anything, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, here’s the poster and lineup for the first Maryland Doom Fest:
The Skull Spirit Caravan Apostle of Solitude Outside Truth Unorthodox Iron Man Valkyrie Weed is Weed Balam Project Armageddon Foghound Pull Mind’s Eye Slaves BC Foehammer Season of Arrows Lord Daydreams with Nightmares