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

Tags: , , , , , ,

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)

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

The Obsessed on Twitter

Relapse Records website

Relapse Records on Bandcamp

Relapse Records on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records on Twitter

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , ,

Lineup Announced for Rev. Jim Forrester Benefit Dec. 29

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

As the details have surfaced over the last 24 hours regarding the tragic death of Rev. Jim Forrester outside the Fells Point, Baltimore, tattoo/piercing shop where he worked, the portrait they’ve drawn has only seemed more senseless. The former bassist for Sixty Watt Shaman, currently of Foghound and Serpents of Secrecy, on the mend from ongoing health issues, finding sobriety, married, getting through, and then shot in the chest outside his place of employment? You’d have a long, long way to go before you ever managed to convince me that makes any fucking sense whatsoever.

One thing Maryland heavy has always done, however, is rally together when the situation calls for it, and yeah, I’d say this situation calls for it. Two stages in Frederick, Maryland, will run benefits next Friday, Dec. 29, with proceeds going to Jim‘s funeral costs and honestly whatever else who the hell cares what they do with the money take all the money just take it please take it and take lasagna too. I’ve heard rumblings about more benefit shows to come and something brewing for Maryland Doom Fest 2018 as well next June, so stay tuned for more and I’ll update as much as I can because Jesus tapdancing Christ, some asshole shot Jim Forrester.

Fucking devastating.

Lineups for the shows at Cafe 611 and Guido’s Speakeasy follow here. If you can’t make it, there’s also a GoFundMe set up linked below that you should donate to. Hell, even if you can go you should donate, because again, just take all the money please take all the money.

Here:

rev jim benefit show

Rev Jim Benefit Concert – Dec. 29

Cafe 611 & Guido’s Speakeasy
N Market St, Frederick, Maryland

This event will feature 13 killer bands on 2 separate stages. Both Cafe 611 & Guido’s next door will be hosting this remembrance of Rev Jim’s life and fundraiser. Bands will be revealed soon. All proceeds go to his family. We will celebrate your existence forever Jim.

This wonderful, gental, kind man was tragically taken from us by a senseless act. All proceeds are to help alleviate the financial strain on his family: https://www.gofundme.com/funds-for-forrester

Show time is 6pm-12:30 pm Friday Dec 29th.

Lineup:

Cafe 611:
King Giant
Earthride
The Age of Truth
Thousand Vision Mist
Thonian Horde
Faith in Jane
Dee Calhoun & Louis Strachan

Guido’s Speakeasy:
Bailjack
The Druids
Et Mors
Seasick Gladiator
Clamfight
Thee Iron Hand
Lifetime Shitlist

https://www.facebook.com/events/180510659201090/
https://www.gofundme.com/funds-for-forrester

Foghound, The World Unseen (2016)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,