Friday Full-Length: Earthride, Vampire Circus

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Earthride, Vampire Circus (2005)

Like any long-lived scene, Maryland doom has watched ’em come and go. Bands get together, bands fall apart, mix members, grow into something else, etc. Lifers in anything are fewer and farther between. About 30 seconds into watching Dave Sherman front Earthride and there’s no imagining he’s anything else.

Sherman has fronted Earthride for over 20 years. The band got their start while he was still playing bass in the original incarnation of Spirit Caravan and released their self-titled debut EP in 2000 that was a clarion to the converted. Even more than the deeply weighted grooves and tonal low end thick enough to feel it in your chest, Earthride‘s Earthride was marked by a pervasive grit that would become a hallmark of the band along with classic-style hooks and a self-awareness of their place within the sphere of American doom. Over time, that place would only become more their own as they signed to Southern Lord Recordings for the release of their 2002 full-length debut, Taming of the Demons and its 2005 follow-up, Vampire Circus.

Both albums are nothing short of essential stoner doom. Earthride offer such a specific vision of what heavy is and should be, and on Vampire Circus, sometimes that’s aggressive, as with “Understand” and all its talk of coffin nails, and sometimes it’s just about following the riff, as on the bouncing title-track or the leadoff cut “Fighting the Devils Inside You,” which would become a hallmark of the band’s approach and the start of an opening salvo that by the time it’s done winds up comprising the entire first half of the record through the organ-laced “Dirtnap” and up to the aptly-titled “Interlude,” although quite frankly it’s not like there’s any dip in quality as “God’s Own Medicine” layers screams into its chorus and finds drummer Eric Little thudding out on his toms through verses telling tales of addiction horrors and igniting a chase with Kyle van Steinburg‘s guitar and Rob Hampshire‘s bass. Or anywhere, for that matter. The laid back fuzzer “Loss” follows with a mellow opening of drift that holds for nearly a minute and a half of its near-six-minute stretch. It’s a departure from the more straightforward material before it, but the character of the song is consistent to be sure, and even when it gets heavy — which, yes, it most certainly does — “Loss” retains that semi-psychedelic mood enough that it’s no surprise when it dips down again after the initial hook. Blues. Psychedelic blues. The chugging riff that emerges is quintessential Earthride in its nod, and van Steinburg makes a highlight of the solo just before the four-minute mark.

“Loss” is also a departure in its finish in that it jams out. As loose as Earthride sometimes sound in their ultra-swinging, cauldron-stirring rhythms on Vampire Circus, the structures of their songs are generally pretty straightforward. Cuts like “Fighting the Devils Inside You” and “Understand” and even “God’s Own Medicine” take a relatively traditional approach to craft: verses, choruses, bridges, solos, and so on. Identifiable parts making up the pieces that when put together make for memorable tracks. The ideal scenario, and an essential facet of Earthride‘s sound in terms of a deceptive simplicity that unfolds its true depths on repeated listens. Where “Loss” leaves that behind is after the aforementioned solo, as it moves back through a heavy chorus and into a spontaneous-sounding ending that makes one realize just how tight everything up to that point has been. It won’t belong before the speedy and winding “For Wrath and Ruin” is offering the advice to “Rip your head off and smoke your brain,” but even the context in which song appears is changed because of the breadth that “Loss” adds to entire album. And again, it’s subtle. It’s not something immediate. But it’s crucial to the overall impression the record makes.

Likewise, as much as “Fighting the Devils Inside You,” “Understand,” “Vampire Circus” and “Dirtnap” marked out their place at the start of Vampire Circus, so too does “For Wrath and Ruin” begin an ending salvo that’s quicker than just about anything before it. A reference to Black Sabbath‘s “Heaven and Hell” in the penultimate “The World I Live” is continually appreciated, and though it’s not as motoring as “For Wrath and Ruin” before it — some residual Spirit Caravan stylization there, perhaps; one can hear it too in “God’s Own Medicine,” and fair enough given Sherman‘s contributions to that band — the mood is still more uptempo than on the earlier material or even “Loss” after which the shift into the higher gear is made. “Swamp Witch” finishes and brings back the organ from “Dirtnap” — played by Mick Shauer, then also of Clutch — and finds itself capping Vampire Circus locked once more into a classic heavy midtempo groove, more Mountain than Sabbath, but with obvious Deep Purple overtones thanks to Shauer‘s guest spot.

Earthride are in conversation there and throughout with Southern metal and heavy blues — an engineering job from Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity is never going to hurt in that regard — but the real success of Vampire Circus lies in taking what Earthride were feeling out through the Earthride EP and Taming of the Demons and telling their audience, “this is ours,” owning their sound and truly making it their own. The album ends its 10-track/43-minute run cold with a sweep of organ keys and a sudden cutoff of the riff, as if to mark out the inevitability of more to come. It’d be five years before Earthride would answer Vampire Circus with 2010’s Something Wicked (review here) on Doomentia Records, and though the years subsequent would be a tumult, with Sherman taking part in the reunion of Spirit Caravan, that band’s becoming a revived The Obsessed and an eventual split there that found him going back to Earthride to release last year’s Witch Gun single (discussed here) through Salt of the Earth Records, the extended time between full-length outings has found Earthride nonetheless increasing their profile among Maryland’s always prolific doom underground. As I type this, they’re wrapping a tour with The Skull that finds Sherman joined by a new lineup that includes When the Deadbolt Breaks‘ Aaron Lewis on bass, and they’ll be making an appearance at Maryland Doom Fest 2018 next week in Frederick, where no doubt they’ll be greeted with the respect and admiration they’ve long deserved and reaped by a scene that considers them one of its own. I can’t wait to see it.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Coffee’s good this morning. It’s a little past 4:20 in the morning now and I’ve been up for about two hours. Enough time to make my way through a first pot off the Chemex with my lighter roast that I call The Obelisk Heavy Psych Blend, because I fantasize about someday having my own coffee in a way more than just filling out bean proportions on a web form through Dean’s Beans. There were talks for a minute there, but nothing seems to have come of it to-date. Oh well. In any case, coffee’s good. I’m on the last cup and I’d grind more but don’t want to wake the baby and thereby also The Patient Mrs., thus making myself Dickweed of the Morning, which is a role I’ve played too many times already.

We’ve been down in Jersey all week, staying at a house in Parsippany that used to belong to my grandmother, who passed away last September. I grew up about two minutes up the road, at a house in a neighborhood called Glacier Hills on a street called Forum Ct. where my mother still lives with my sister, her husband and their two sons. They just got a new kitten. It showed up in their driveway and they named it Solo, because Han, and Star Wars.

Saw them a lot this week, and it was great to be with my family. I’ve missed out on a lot with my nephews living in Massachusetts and it’s a little sad to see, but I’m happy for the time I’ve had with them. It’s not over, necessarily. The Patient Mrs. and I will be back here, but the next two weeks are more running around. We’re back up to Connecticut later today, then to Massachusetts on Monday until probably Wednesday. Wednesday we’re back to Connecticut because we’re hitting the Yankee game on Thursday — day game; bringing the baby to his first baseball game; so stoked — and I’m picking up my new camera at B&H in Manhattan, then it’s back here for the night and on to Maryland on Friday morning in time for the start of the aforementioned Maryland Doom Fest, which will be the first test of that camera. Going to be a crazy, packed weekend, but my goal is to see all of it. A couple late nights ahead. None of that going-to-sleep-at-8:30 stuff I’ve been doing for the last however long. Kind of bit me in the ass last night (earlier tonight?), I guess. I’ve always liked some me time on the overnights though. Music and coffee and the clacky of the keyboard. Mark it a win.

No doubt by this afternoon I’ll be saying something else.

I miss New Jersey. This is my home. I speak the way people here speak. The food here tastes right. The trees look the way I see trees when I close my eyes. Not that I have money to hit them, but I know where the record stores are and the fastest way to get to each. I know where to buy the pesto that it’s worth the 25 minutes to drive to buy.

Anyway.

Before all the shenanigans next weekend — I won’t close out next week because I’ll be writing over those days — next week is packed full. Subject to change, of course, but here’s what’s in the notes:

Mon.: Lord review/track premiere; Captain Caravan video; announcement from Ripple Music.
Tue.: Pushy review/track premiere; Death Hawks video.
Wed.: War Cloud video premiere. Maybe a review of the new Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters or something else.
Thu.: Mountain of Smoke review/track premiere.
Fri.: Announcement from Cursed Tongue Records. Review of something or other.

I lost a lot of stuff for the Quarterly Review when my laptop was stolen in the UK, including my notes for what would be included. I’ve built some of that back up, but am still down on a bunch of things I know are just gone. There may be reviews I promised to people that won’t happen now. I don’t even know. In any case, I should be good to go on it by the start of next month, the week of July 4, I think. It’s in the planning stage now, and behind schedule, obviously.

Not gonna leave on that bummer note though, but rather relish the opportunity to get to know a whole new crop of albums, EPs, and so on. I also confirmed this week that I’ll be attending SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal in August. More on that to come, but obviously I’m very much looking forward to it.

Thanks for reading this week, and if you’re at Maryland Doom Fest next weekend, I’ll hope to see you there. Fingers crossed that new camera happens/works. I’d feel like a dope standing there taking photos on my phone all weekend. Ha.

Please have a great and safe weekend. Forum and radio.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Dee Calhoun, Go to the Devil: The Mad Cacophony

Posted in Reviews on May 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dee-calhoun-go-to-the-devil

There’s something of a shadow cast over the second solo release from singer-songwriter “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun. Go to the Devil — released, like Calhoun‘s 2016 debut, Rotgut (review here), via Argonauta Records — follows the January 2018 passing of “Iron” Alfred Morris III, the guitarist and founder of what for the better part of the last decade has been Calhoun‘s main outlet, Iron Man. Morris‘ death, which to my understanding was protracted and painful enough to truly be a work of Maryland doom, effectively brought that band’s long and storied career to a close, and while Calhoun has already begun developing a new full-band outfit alongside the likes of Bruce Falkinburg (The Hidden Hand) called Thee Iron Hand, there’s no way the loss of Morris didn’t affect him deeply as it did the entire Maryland doom community, to whom Morris was at least an Iommic figurehead, if not a direct mentor.

I’m relatively certain Calhoun had written if not actually recorded Go to the Devil before Morris passed away — that would make the penultimate “Your Face” about some other deeply personal loss — but it’s hard to think of the release outside this context, even if it’s more likely to be directly addressed next time around. And listening to Go to the Devil, there’s little doubt there will be a next time around. The album tops 55 minutes and features 11 tracks, so if nothing else, Calhoun has plenty to say. Even more telling there’s a clear line of progression from Rotgut to Go to the Devil in terms of overall approach, Calhoun overseeing an expansion of arrangements compared to the first collection and collaborating with another Iron Man bandmate, bassist Louis Strachan.

The two started working together during live sets to support Rotgut, and as he did to Calhoun‘s stage performance, Strachan brings significant character of play to songs here like opener “Common Enemy,” “The Lotus Field is Barren” and the title-track itself, the latter bordering on a full-band-style arrangement with a shaker for percussion alongside the guitar, bass and vocals. And of course, it’s the vocals that feature. Calhoun is a singer, and more, a metal singer, and while Go to the Devil communes with country twang and the blues much like its predecessor, it’s still coming from that very metal place, with Calhoun willing to unleash his inner Halford on “Born (One-Horse Town),” “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” — also the title of a novella Calhoun has penned — the harmonica-laden “The Ballad of Dixon Bridge” or six-minute closer “Dry Heaves and Needles,” which opens with a news sample about a child found in a car whose parents had overdosed and seems to directly speak to the opioid epidemic.

dee calhoun and louis strachan

That last song would seem to be as close as Calhoun comes to a social statement or critique on Go to the Devil — that is, he’s not writing protest folk songs or anything of the like — but the tradeoff there is that this collection by and large feels more personal than did Rotgut, with cuts like the aforementioned “Your Face,” as well as “Bedevil Me,” and “Me, Myself and I” taking on issues of depression and loss, and a return appearance from Dee‘s son, Rob Calhoun, adding personal flair to “The Ballad of Dixon Bridge.” Other songs may be just as personal, tracks like “The Final Stand of the Fallen” or “The Lotus Field is Barren,” but their emotional crux is couched in metaphor and storytelling, which is something at which Calhoun excels as a performer.

And it should be noted that Go to the Devil is more complex in its delivery than was the preceding album. That is, Calhoun — the power of his lungs well established — isn’t nearly so unipolar in his vocal execution. He’s not just screaming, and he’s not just mad. Sure, he raises a defiant middle finger in leather-vest fashion to St. Peter in the title-track, but on “The Final Stand of the Fallen,” “The Lotus Field is Barren” or the already noted “Your Face.’ This adds character to Go to the Devil on the whole, offsetting some of the whiskey-and-hellfire material and, in combination with the richer arrangements, making Go to the Devil a decisive forward step from Rotgut.

This is even more the reason why I said above there’s so likely to be a next time around; Calhoun hasn’t simple issued a follow-up to Rotgut doing the same thing all over again — he’s tapped into a creative progression of his own as a solo artist (if one with accompaniment) and his drive seems to be not to establish a formula and continue to work within it, despite some consistency of lyrical thematic, but to continue to charge ahead into territory yet unknown to him as a songwriter and a performer. Go to the Devil does that and succeeds with a foundation of memorable tracks offering a variety of moods and a quality of performance that acts as the thread tying them together. Thus far into his solo career, there would seem to be no goal Calhoun has set for himself creatively that he hasn’t surpassed.

Dee Calhoun, “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” official video

Dee Calhoun website

Dee Calhoun on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

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Alms to Release Act One Later This Year on Shadow Kingdom

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

alms

With a logo made for vest patches and an organ-laced classic doom rollout, Baltimore’s Alms bring a a modern take to the established tenets of Maryland doom. After impressing with their first demo (review here) in 2017, the band not only bring those two tracks — “Dead Water” and the garage-doom-stomping “The Offering” — to the new record, but four others as well, to the new outing, which has been given a release date of “later this year.” I don’t want to start throwing darts, but maybe September? I don’t know. Their sound would suit autumn well. I know that much.

Whenever it shows up, Act One will bring with it a new edge to Maryland’s long-running arc of doom. Could it be that the sound is branching out from its ultra-straightforward riff-led methodology? I wouldn’t guess the trajectory of an entire region’s output, but Alms make an encouraging case either way.

From the PR wire:

alms act one

ALMS reveal first track from forthcoming SHADOW KINGDOM debut

Shadow Kingdom Records reveals the first track from Alms’ highly anticipated debut album, Act One. Titled “Dead Water,” you can hear the track HERE. Shadow Kingdom will be releasing Alms’ Act One on CD, vinyl LP, and cassette tape formats later this year.

Hailing from Baltimore, Alms honors Maryland’s rich heritage of doom metal with a swaggering, soulful sound that unselfconsciously spans decades and idioms. They made their first, grand steps with a two-song demo released at the beginning of 2017. Having already made waves in their local scene, this demo would soon spread like wildfire amongst doom fanatics, and soon the Alms name was on many a tongue. But alas, with the full-length Act One, that name will be on tongues worldwide.

Stomping forward across six BIG songs in a judiciously concise 34 minutes, Alms quickly establish a mood of both merriment and portent. Theirs is a sound which culls the bluesy ruminations of classic Deep Purple, the wild excursions of equally classic Uriah Heep, and the dark thunder of Maryland forebears The Obsessed. And yet, that aforementioned soul and swagger soon take center stage, both allowing the doom chunder to loosely lumber whilst putting a particularly pleading-for-deliverance aspect upon proceedings. It’s that eternal fire of the greatest rock music, especially in that pre-metal era of the 1970s, where fire and brimstone often coursed through rock ‘n’ roll, but near-equally pays homage to the heavy developments at the turn of the ’80s. But all of this would be for naught if Alms didn’t have the songs to back it up, and indeed does Act One have SONGS.

Head to the void or to the pub, or both: Alms will take you there (and back) with Act One! Hear for yourself with the new track “Dead Water” HERE at Shadow Kingdom’s Bandcamp. Release date and preorder info to be announced shortly. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Alms’ Act One
1. Dead Water
2. The Toll
3. For Shame
4. The Offering
5. Deuces Low
6. Hollowed

Alms is:
Andrew Harris: Bass
Bob Sweeney: Guitar, Vocals
Derrick Hans: Drums
Jess Kamen: Keyboard, Vocals
Danny McDonald: Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/almsbaltimore/
https://almsbaltimore.bandcamp.com/releases
http://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/shadowkingdomrecords

Alms, Act One (2018)

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Dee Calhoun Confirms European Tour Dates; Posts “Dry Heaves and Needles” Video

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Following the March 30 release of his second solo album, Go to the Devil, the man who might possibly have Maryland’s most powerful set of pipes,
Dee Calhoun — seriously, I can’t listen to the new Judas Priest record without thinking about Dee singing on those tracks — will embark on a European tour with his (former) Iron Man bandmate/regular accompaniment Louis Strachan along for the trip. To my knowledge, it’s the first time Calhoun has toured in Europe, though he went to the UK with Iron Man a few years back to play a Rise Above anniversary party. Still, no minor happening either way to do it essentially as a solo heavy metal singer-songwriter.

To herald the record’s March 30 arrival via Argonauta, the new video “Dry Heaves and Needles” has been posted. You probably don’t have to work too hard to guess what it’s about, what with he opioid crisis and all — though I hear meth is making a comeback too. In any case, there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you know someone affected by addiction (I know I do) and it fucking sucks, but the song’s right on anyway, so dig in and enjoy.

From the PR wire:

dee calhoun and louis strachan

DEE CALHOUN new single + European tour dates

DEE CALHOUN, voice of legendary doomers IRON MAN, releases the second single from his highly anticipated second solo album “Go to the Devil”.

“My ode to what has happened in the city of my birth, as well as countless other places across the USA.” – Dee Calhoun

“Go to the Devil” will be released by ARGONAUTA Records and available from March 30th, 2018. Preorders run here: http://bit.ly/2rvQDz9

Dee Calhoun and Louis Strachan will tour Europe from April 19th to April 29th.

“THE DEVIL OVER EUROPE – Spring Tour” tour dates:
April 19, Aalborg, Denmark, 1000FRYD
April 20, TBA, Netherlands/North West Germany
April 21, Freiburg, Germany, WHITE RABBIT CLUB
April 22, Prague, Czech Rep., MODRA VOPICE
April 23, Budapest, Hungary, S8 UNDERGROUND
April 24, Maribor, Slovenia, DVORANA GUSTAF PEKARNA
April 25, Saint-Maurice, Switzerland, MANOIR PUB
April 26, Milan, Italy, BLUE ROSE SALOON
April 27, Turin, Italy, TBA
April 28, Nancy, France, THE RIVETER
April 29, TBA, North Germany/Denmark

Dee Calhoun – voice, guitar, percussion, keyboards
Louis Strachan – bass

www.screamingmaddee.com
https://www.facebook.com/screamingmaddee/
www.argonautarecords.com

Dee Calhoun, “Dry Heaves and Needles” official video

Dee Calhoun, Go to the Devil album teaser

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Mangog Working on Second Album; New Drummer Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

So, it would seem the masked dude in the Mangog photo you see here is their new drummer, Dao Yu. Why is he wearing a mask? I have no idea. None whatsoever. Unless Dao Yu isn’t his real name, it’s not like he’s keeping his identity a secret, and call me crazy, but I wouldn’t think as a drummer having your entire face covered by a mask makes your life any easier, so yeah, I’ve got nothing on this one. Guy’s just wearing a mask.

Whenever I run into something like that, I like to think it’s because the person involved actually has a really good job or something and doesn’t want his colleagues to know he’s in a rock band on the side. Like Dao Yu is actually the superintendent of schools for Baltimore County, or the top real estate agent in Frederick or whatever. He owns a chain of daycare centers. Something like that. Mind you I don’t know if any or all of that — if it’s all of it, he’d be awfully busy — is true in the slightest, but it’s fun to pretend.

The mystery will just have to remain for the time being, but the good news is that, with Yu in tow, Mangog have started prep work on their sophomore full-length, which will be the follow-up to last year’s Mangog Awakens (review here). Here’s the latest info:

mangog

MANGOG – working on the new album

After recently completing a run of gigs that included the band’s 50th overall lifetime show, MANGOG is currently hard at work at its rehearsal facility arranging, rehearsing and preparing to record a follow up to “Mangog Awakens” with the new lineup that debuted in September 2017. With close to an hour of new material, the band is preparing a monolithic slab of music that will make the debut cd sound like a warm up!

MANGOG also started working on a new video, the group assembled on the first of three sets for the performance section of the clip. Additional filming is expected over the next several weeks concurrent with rehearsal of nearly a dozen new songs to be recorded for a follow up to “Mangog Awakens.”

The band, including vocalist Myke Wells, guitarist/vocalist Bert Hall, Jr., bassist Darby Cox will resume recording the disc with the group’s newest member Dao Yu on drums during early 2018, to be released via ARGONAUTA Records.

MANGOG is:
Myke Wells – Vocals
Darby Cox – bass
Bert Hall – Guitar/Vocals
Dao Yu – Drums

www.facebook.com/MangogDoom
https://twitter.com/mangogdoom
https://www.mangogdoom.com/
www.argonautarecords.com

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Dee Calhoun Posts “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” Video; Go to the Devil out March 30

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dee calhoun and louis strachan

Swamp blues mysticism, metallic devilry and Americana folk balladeering meet head-on in the new single from Dee Calhoun. Even as the Iron Man vocalist reels from the recent passing of that outfit’s founding guitarist, “Iron” Alfred Morris III, earlier this month, he’s preparing as well to issue his second solo album for Argonauta Records, titled Go to the Devil, on March 30.

The new record’s been a while in the making — it was recorded last winter and details began to emerge not so long thereafter — but as Calhoun gets closer to unveiling the follow-up to 2016’s Rotgut (review here), he starts to reveal a little bit more about his creative process in the interim. For example, the new single “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” would seem to tell a similar story as a novella Calhoun put out last summer, with a narrative brought to bear in bayou-style darkly Christian themes, told as ever through his powerful voice, ready to soar at a moment’s notice.

I haven’t heard the entirety of Go to the Devil as yet, so can’t necessarily speak to how “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” interacts with its surroundings in that context, but with the active participation of Iron Man bassist Louis Strachan as a stage and studio partner accompanying Calhoun, the sound of “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” is full in tone and would seem to offer a sense of breadth expanded from Rotgut just two years ago. Again, that may or may not be the case all the way around, but it’s certainly nothing to complain about as regards a first impression from the new long-player.

While we continue to wait for specifics on Calhoun‘s impending European tour dates, you can check out the clip for “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” here, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Dee Calhoun, “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” official video

Go to the Devil, the second solo album from IRON MAN vocalist DEE CALHOUN is going to be released by ARGONAUTA Records on March 30th, 2018.

“A very cold, very rainy autumn night. An unnamed man walks the barren streets, at the end of the line and at the end of his rope. His life has gone awry, and he seeks the one man who can perhaps remedy it. That man’s name is Jesus Christ.”

“When the man finds Jesus, he won’t ask for help or mercy; he’ll instead ask for the return of his soul, a soul that he pledged as a child, but now wants repossession of. A new buyer has come along, you see; a buyer in a top-dollar black suit, and whose malevolent presence has guided this man’s quest, every tormented step of the way…”

DEE CALHOUN “Go to the Devil” CD is available here: http://bit.ly/2rvQDz9

DEE CALHOUN, with the accompaniment of bassist LOUIS STRACHAN (both in studio and on stage), will tour Europe next Spring, with gigs in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, France, Belgium, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland. Details to follow soon.

Dee Calhoun website

Dee Calhoun on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records webstore

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

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The Obsessed Premiere Acoustic Performance of “Freedom” Live at Gibson Guitar Studio

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the obsessed (Photo_by_Susie_Constantino)

You have to love the casual nature with which The Obsessed founding guitarist/vocalist and singular US doom figurehead Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich drops the factoid that he wrote this song when he was 12 years old and was, ‘fixing to be incarcerated for being a little bit out of control.’ If there was ever any doubt as to the direct lineage between the blues and doom, let it be dispelled once and for all.

“Freedom” indeed goes a ways back. In addition to earlier demos, it appeared as the opener of side B on The Obsessed‘s self-titled debut, originally released in 1990 and reissued last year in getting-its-due deluxe form via Relapse Records, which also in 2017 stood behind the band’s first new studio outing in the form of Sacred (review here), which highlighted a short-lived version of the Wino-fronted trio with Brian Costantino on drums (he’s still there) and Earthride/Spirit Caravan‘s Dave Sherman on bass — since replaced by Reid Raley of Rwake. In the video below, it’s Costantino banging on a percussive box while Weinrich plays “Freedom” on an acoustic, filmed live at Gibson Guitar Studio as part of a series of clips that have been unveiled. Of course, the man himself is no stranger to unplugged performance, as one might recall he made his solo debut back in 2010 with the hey-this-could-really-use-a-follow-up Adrift (review here) and has collaborated with Conny OchsScott Kelly and others in that modus.

The Obsessed just got off a stint alongside Clutch and The Devin Townsend Project as part of the former’s annual holiday tour, and will no doubt be on the road again in short order throughout 2018. Wino still does periodic acoustic shows as well, and if you can catch one, I’d highly recommend it. You just might get a little bit of story before he launches into a song like “Freedom,” and sometimes that’s all the more fun.

PR wire info follows the video premiere below.

Please enjoy:

The Obsessed, “Freedom” Live at Gibson Guitar Studio

Originally released in 1990 and out-of-print for almost two decades, the now-iconic debut album from THE OBSESSED comes completely remastered with previously unreleased bonus tracks, including the highly-sought after four-track Concrete Cancer demo (1984), expanded artwork, never-before-seen photos, and extended liner notes from frontman Scott “Wino” Weinrich. This is a true piece of doom history! The deluxe 2xCD version of the record includes a bonus disc containing the Concrete Cancer demo as well as a full live set from 1985 in Washington, D.C.. The Concrete Cancer demo is also available separately as a limited-edition LP.

The Obsessed is available on 2xCD, LP, 2xLP, and digital formats via Relapse Records. Physical bundles and digital orders are available via Relapse Records HERE and streaming services at THIS LOCATION.

The Obsessed on Thee Facebooks

The Obsessed on Instagram

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Relapse Records website

Relapse Records on Bandcamp

Relapse Records on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records on Twitter

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R.I.P. “Iron” Alfred Morris III, 1957-2018

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

iron man (photo by JJ Koczan)

Devastating news out of a Maryland doom community already reeling this afternoon. The passing of Iron Man founder, songwriter and guitarist “Iron” Alfred Morris III has been confirmed by the band:

It is with profound and immeasurable sadness that we let you know that Alfred Morris III passed away this morning. There are no other words at this time.

Morris, who would have turned 61 on March 9, had been dealing with declining health effects from an ongoing battle with diabetes over the last several years, and reportedly had an extended hospital stay in 2017 following the amputation of his left leg. While it is unknown as of this writing if this directly contributed to his death, Morris’ issues had been a major contributing factor to a stretch of inactivity on the part of the band following the release of their last full-length, South of the Earth (review here), in 2013.

Issued by respected UK purveyor Rise Above Records, that album represented a pinnacle for the long-running and influential Maryland doom outfit. With Morris’ riffs and solos ever at the center of their approach, Iron Man — founded as a Black Sabbath tribute band following Morris’ time in proto-doomers Force — issued their first demo 30 years ago in 1988 and would follow it in the subsequent years with four LPs prior to their final one: 1993’s Black Night (discussed herereissue review here), 1994’s The Passage (discussed here; reissue review here), 1999’s Generation Void (reissue review here) and 2009’s comeback outing, I Have Returned (review here), as well as a slew of EPs and other limited offerings along the way.

In addition to bringing Iron Man to a new level of prestige in terms of its release, South of the Earth also gave the band their first opportunity to play internationally, at Rise Above’s 25th anniversary celebration in London in December 2013. The band continued to make regular appearances thereafter at Maryland Doom Fest and other regional events, but would never embark on wider touring in support of the album, and word of a follow-up through Rise Above or any other label never materialized.

What the loss of a figure of Morris’ status means to the Maryland doom community can hardly be overstated. One of the longest and most loyal practitioners of the Chesapeake region’s particular brand of downtrodden riffing, in his tone and construction, Morris has served for decades as a blueprint for others to follow. To watch his smooth-grooving presence on stage and bask in the warmth of his guitar tone was to know a singular joy of traditional doom in its finest Sabbathian spirit.

On behalf of myself and this site, I wish condolences to the family, friends, current and former bandmates and fans of Alfred Morris III. He brought something special to Maryland doom that, to put it simply, will never be replaced and will be deeply missed.

“Iron” Al Morris. 1957-2018. The Riff.

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