Six Dumb Questions with Rev. Jim Forrester of Foghound & Serpents of Secrecy

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on December 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

rev jim photo shane gardner

This one has been a while in the making. It was a genuine shock this past summer when bassist Rev. Jim Forrester was suddenly beset with a barrage of life-threatening medical issues. Keeping tabs on updates via social media became a tense undertaking. A crowdfunding was set up. Benefit shows were announced and held. Forrester‘s recovery from what he details as being a near-death experience and the worst pain he’s ever felt is ongoing, as one might expect, but there was no question that the East Coast heavy underground and especially that of the Maryland/Chesapeake region rallied to his side when called upon to do so. A scene taking care of one of its own is a beautiful thing.

Forrester cut his teeth in the late 1990s as a member of heavy Southern rockers Sixty Watt Shaman and has been involved in numerous projects across a range of styles ever since. Sixty Watt issued three full-lengths during their time, the last of which was 2002’s Reason to Live, and when they were done, Forrester went on to form Angels of Meth and participate in other bands. His arrival in Foghound re-partners him with ex-Sixty Watt Shaman drummer Chuck Dukehart, and the two also play together in the assembled group Serpents of Secrecy, whose debut single, Uncoiled, was released earlier this year on Salt of the Earth Records ahead of a full-length debut reportedly to come in 2018.

Between life updates, band updates, Sixty Watt Shaman‘s aborted reunion, and so on, there was an awful lot to talk about, so I won’t delay further, except to thank Rev. Jim for being so open and candid about what he went through and is still going through. Anyone who’s ever seen him play on stage can attest to the sense of attack he brings to his instrument, and it’s clear that is an ethic and drive for intensity is something he lives by on multiple levels.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

rev jim photo bob plank

Six Dumb Questions with Rev. Jim Forrester

For anyone who hasn’t kept up on your situation, take us through the medical issues you’ve been dealing with. What the hell happened? How did it all start? Where are you at now? What’s your next step and, most importantly, how are you feeling day-to-day?

During and post illness, my wife Tina and Todd Ingram (King Giant, Serpents of Secrecy) started the #RallyforRev page on FB to keep everyone updated on my progress or lack thereof, as I was in no shape to communicate with the outside world during my hospitalizations and subsequent recovery. When I was able, looking back on things and generally being a very private person outside of “music and art land,” I began to feel uncomfortably overexposed and completely exhausted with explaining the situation, as well as constantly talking about myself. I needed a long break from me. Shortly after I fell ill, some tragedies befell two of the most important people in my life as well, Todd lost his mother after a short illness, and Tina lost her little brother. I felt that it was in no way appropriate to talk about “me” and my bullshit, when two people I loved dearly were experiencing so much personal pain and trauma. 2017 was a motherfucker.

So, what happened? Over Memorial Day weekend, the Sunday to be exact, I awoke from a dead sleep to the most abhorrent abdominal pain I’ve ever experienced. I think I may have a clue as to what being disemboweled feels like now. Tina rushed me to one hospital, and then I was transferred to another. I had a blood clot in my portal vein (liver) that was cutting off blood flow to my liver, pancreas, intestines, and various extremities. Basically I was dying and damn close to going into organ failure. Blood thinners saved my ass, but also caused esophageal varices to burst, resulting in me puking up half my blood supply, intubation, and a three-day medically induced coma in which I almost checked out a few times as well. Around week three, I underwent a “Tips” procedure, a stent placed in my portal vein, and a new blood flow passage was created in my liver to alleviate the blockage (it had been there for years apparently, and was so rock solid; they couldn’t drill the damn thing out). I was released and returned home on a continued blood thinner treatment plan. Three days later I awoke to what I thought was a heart attack. Returned to the hospital to find a pulmonary embolism, and a grouping of blood clots behind my right knee. Another week in the hospital, and back home with increased blood thinners (self administered stomach injections, very metal). Played the Maryland Doomfest III three days later with Serpents of Secrecy. Before any of these events occurred, I had been experiencing some pretty intense weakness and pain in my right hip. I had chalked it up to hard living/performing, and overcompensation for a torn ACL in my right knee. No dice. MRI revealed that the blockages had caused blood flow restriction to my hip joint, so I was walking around and performing on a dead, decrepit hip, still am.

I’ve been jumping through medical specialist hoops ever since to get hip replacement surgery, most likely occurring this February. How this all happened has some solid answers and some mystery still lingering. I had liver issues back in 2012 that I had worked through, I thought pretty successfully, but life and stress (my own issues with depression, the death of a very close friend, the Sixty Watt Shaman debacle I’ll get into at some point in the future, etc.) saw me backslide a bit personally. It’s no secret I previously was a drink and drug enthusiast (no hard drugs for years now I will note) as cliche as it is, and I managed to do some significant damage to myself over the years. At various points I’ve been a bit of a mess, and have a lot of regrets regarding that aspect of my time. That aside, I lived a pretty hard life for an extended spell, pushed myself physically in ways that have consequences, and some of that is a factor as well. There is also a genetic blood clotting disorder that runs in my family, but the jury is still out on that matter (testing), although it would explain a lot.

As things stand today, beyond my continued issue with my hip, I feel pretty damn good. Staying vigilant, and keeping up with my docs. The thinners are getting phased out, no pain killers, and a lot of my enzyme levels, etc. are normalized to livable standards if not 100 percent healthy. I’m six months completely sober, back to throwing down on stage and in the studio with Foghound and Serpents. If any positives can be derived, it all really strengthened my relationships with my wife and step-kids and my bandmates. My family. My passions and obsession with art and music remains and has surpassed full tilt crazy again. It reinvigorated me as far as writing and creating is concerned. I’m overwhelmingly thankful for the love, support, understanding, and solid kick in the ass when I need it, from the beautiful individuals I’ve been so fortunate to have in my life. We only have so much time, know what you’re fighting for.

In light of all that, tell me about getting on stage with Serpents of Secrecy at Maryland Doom Fest this year. What was that experience like for you? How was the response from the room, and how did you feel after the set?

I can’t pretend that I wasn’t a bit nervy. After going through all of that, I really didn’t know if I was going to be able to pull off a whole set, and perform to the level that I set for myself, but I pushed through. I wasn’t going to let my brothers in SoS (they wanted to cancel in light of everything, I refused), the fans that had waited four years to see that beast, or Mark Cruikshank and J.B. Matson down. I honor my commitments. Doomfest is always a big family reunion, with a lot of my favorite people in the world anyway, but it by far is one of my favorite sets. The love and support in the crowd was amazing, and I think at various points most of us got choked up. Afterwards… pure adrenaline and joy. For a brief few hours I felt like myself again.

The Serpents of Secrecy single is a long-time coming for sure. Tell me about the development of that band from its beginnings, where you guys are at now and what the plans are going forward. How has the response been to the first recordings so far?

The Serpents of Secrecy story has more twists and turns than the goddamn Grizzly (King’s Dominion reference), and would take more space to explain fully that I’m sure this article entails. I’ll make it as brief as possible. Back in 2012, Scott Harrington (313 Management, Salt of the Earth Records) and I had developed a really strong friendship. When I was taking a break from the world up in the mountains near Morgantown, WV, he and I were in regular contact. Scott had been a huge Sixty Watt Shaman fan, and was really bummed that I wasn’t actively playing or performing at the time (my last group, Angels of Meth in Cincinnati, had run its course and I was aimlessly floating for a few). If anyone knows Scott, he is a true idea man, and unbeknownst to me, as we were in contact, he was up to some shenanigans.

Long story short, he helped pull together a really interesting cast of characters for a project. Todd Ingram – guitar (King Giant), Chuck Dukehart – drums (Sixty Watt Shaman, The Expotentials, Foghound), Johnny Throckmorton – vocals (Alabama Thunderpussy), Aaron Lewis – guitar (When the Deadbolt Breaks), and myself on bass. We convened in Baltimore and jammed a few times, really hit it off, but as I mentioned previously, I fell ill for awhile. We tried to sustain at least the idea of that lineup for awhile during the following year or so, but due to distance, time, and obligations it ended up not working out. Todd and I continued writing together, and spent the better part of a year trading riffs back and forth, or just writing complete songs and editing together. We also got together to jam independently when time allowed. The chemistry and material was pretty undeniable, so we muscled through and kept the idea alive (with Greg Hudson from D.C.’s Tone on drums briefly, until Chuck returned to the fold).

During this time period, Scott had received some inquiries regarding Sixty Watt Shaman performing at Desertfest. With incredible hesitation, Chuck and I agreed to entertain the idea, and spoke to our former vocalist, moderated by Scott. With a lot of concessions made on our part, and the best of intentions at play, Todd came in on guitar, as our original guitarist Joe Selby apparently wanted nothing to do with the idea. Hence the Sixty Watt Shaman reunion: a kickoff set at Chuck‘s Moving the Earth Fest, appearances at Desertfest London and Berlin, two Feast of Krampus shows with Wino, and my 40th birthday show in Baltimore. Todd, Chuck, and myself also had begun orchestrating a load of new and previous Serpents material, due to sparse SWS rehearsals, and were on a tear creatively so to speak.

I also came on as Foghound‘s bassist in this time period, so Chuck and I were jamming nonstop. We began negotiations with Ripple Music to release a new SWS full-length, a bit hastily as history proved, and that’s where the thread really began unraveling. Taking the high road here, but after a lot of soul searching and hand wringing… Chuck, Todd and myself made what I still consider the best judgement call we could have, considering a lot of circumstances that are best left unsaid, and called an undetermined-in-length hiatus for SWS. After a barrage of legal threats and behavior I can best sum up as unstable from our previous bandmate, that hiatus evolved into us throwing in the towel on any hopes of reconciliation. For all intents and purposes that group is a memory, no matter how voraciously some would cling to glories past.

In turn, Chuck, Todd, and myself immediately entered the studio with J. Robbins at Magpie Cage Studio in Baltimore, and whirlwind recorded the lion’s share of our three years of stockpiled material written up to that point, two songs of which — “Warbird’s Song” and “The Cheat” — appear on the Uncoiled single. Al “Yeti” Bones (The Mighty Nimbus) came on as vocalist for a period of time, but once again due to obligations, time, and distance (Canada) Al had to move on, although we truly appreciate his contributions and the awesome work ethic he brought to the table. Enter Mark Lorenzo (Zekiah). How he came into the story is a tale best left for him and Todd to explain, but I will say he was a breath of fresh air, one of the strongest, most talented vocalists I’ve ever worked with and a goddamn joy of a human being.

Steve Fisher (guitar, Borracho) will tell you we never told him he was in the band, he just kept showing up, lol, but he was the final piece to the puzzle that’s taken years to complete. We’ve already been through a lot together, and as with Foghound, it feels like family. As this band goes, we had hoped to have the full-length out by now, but it looks like we are wrapping up the album Ave Vindicta in Jan./Feb. 2018, and it’s up to Scott Harrington and Salt of the Earth Records to give us a release date. As soon as we know, so will you. The response to the Uncoiled single has been very positive so far. It seems to have accomplished our goal with the idea: Ggve everyone a taste, leave them hopefully wanting more. Apparently they want, lol. We are looking to play out as much as schedules allow, hitting the road some in 2018 and are already booked for the next installment of the Descendants of Crom Fest (Pittsburgh) in September. We’ve also started writing new material (along with the backlog of songs we couldn’t fit on this album) for the eventual follow-up to Ave Vindicta, and some other alchemy at play… but that’s another story.

From Sixty Watt Shaman to Foghound to Serpents of Secrecy, it seems like you and Chuck have a really special respect and relationship as a rhythm section. Tell me about that friendship and how working with him in different bands has changed over the years. What does it mean to you as a bassist to know Chuck’s back there behind the kit pounding away?

Chuck is my best friend in the world. He’s my brother. Damn near every important event that’s ever transpired in my life, he was there. If not personally, in spirit, or he was a call away. We’ve had our ups and downs, but brothers do. We’ve known each other since elementary school, picked up our instruments at the same time, started our first bands together. I suppose you could say our stories are completely entangled. He’s had my back when I never knew he did or I needed him to, that’s real friendship. We made a promise to each other a long time ago, that we weren’t going to let the small town we grew up in swallow us up, we were going to get out and do something with our goddamn lives. I think we held up that promise. At this point, through all the tours (starting in ’97), all the shows, the studios, writing so many songs together, we kind of function together with one brain as a rhythm section, “The Rhythm Section from Hell.” There is a complete feeling of freedom and comfort in the live scenario jamming with Chuck. Opens up some of the fun improv stuff we slip into the mix when we know each other’s arsenal backwards and forwards so well. Fun is the keyword. If it’s not, it’s not worth doing. We learned that one together too.

What’s Foghound up to at this point? Where are you at with the next album? Do you know yet when you’ll record or who will produce?

Foghound is wrapping up the third album right now actually. Last studio session with Frank “The Punisher” Marchand (The Obsessed, Sixty Watt Shaman, etc.) is the first weekend in January, I believe. Frank engineered, we produced. Then it’s mastering, artwork, turned into Ripple Music. No idea on a release date considering the volume of music Todd [Severin] and the label are putting out there, but it will be in 2018. There are some morsels on the horizon beforehand, some hints coming as to what this new material is shaping up to be, but I can’t really reveal any of that yet. I will say, the new tunes are going to surprise anyone with expectations of us putting out The World Unseen Part 2. We’ve already begun booking for next year with appearances at Maryland Doomfest 2018 and New England Stoner and Doom Fest scheduled. Anyone intrigued should stop by, we’ll be adding in a good portion of new material to give everyone a taste.

Of course there’s the crowdfunding campaign going on, but any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

I just want to give another huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone for the words of love and support I received when I was ill, to the bands that played the benefit shows, to those that donated their time, hard work or financial assistance. You have no idea how much it meant, how much it’s appreciated, and how much it helped Tina and I get through such a difficult time. The only reason I can continue to do what I do is because of that, and not for a second is any of it taken for granted. I lived a lot of days looking in the mirror thinking I was a tremendous fuckup, and the friends, fans, and family that came to my side during one of the most horrible situations I’ve ever encountered, staring death in the goddamn face, telling me how much the work has meant to them, how much my efforts over the years made a difference, fueled me getting better, and keeps me fighting every day, and for that I am forever grateful. I am a very fortunate man to get to do what I do, surrounded by such amazing people. I love you all. Keep an eye out for new Arcane Recorporations creations, as well as Ave Vindicta by Serpents of Secrecy on Salt of the Earth Records, and the as-yet-untitled new Foghound record on Ripple Music out in 2018. Ave!

Serpents of Secrecy, Uncoiled – The Singles (2017)

Foghound, The World Unseen (2016)

Serpents of Secrecy on Thee Facebooks

Serpents of Secrecy on Bandcamp

Salt of the Earth Records website

Salt of the Earth Records website

Foghound on Thee Facebooks

Foghound on Bandcamp

Foghound website

Ripple Music

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Dee Calhoun Announces Solo European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Even as he’s gotten rolling with the new band Thee Iron Hand in the interim between activity from his main outfit, Iron Man, Maryland-based power-pipes vocalist Dee Calhoun has been prepping his second solo album, Go to the Devil, for release on Argonauta Records. What will be the follow-up to Calhoun‘s metal-country-soul debut, 2016’s Rotgut (review here) was originally due at some point this year but will instead come out early in 2018, and given the current news, I can’t help but think that’s even more fitting.

From April 19-29, Calhoun will head abroad for the first time to play a solo tour in Europe. It’s 11 shows in Denmark, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and of course Germany, and presented by Leynir Booking in conjunction with Argonauta, it will find Calhoun joined by his Iron Man bandmate Louis Strachan on bass and traveling to foreign shores for the first time since Iron Man played Rise Above Records‘s 25th anniversary party in the UK in 2013, then supporting what’s still their most recent album, South of the Earth (review here).

And while that band is certainly due for a follow-up to that triumph of classic doom righteousness, I’ll go ahead and wish Calhoun all the best on his outward journey in the New Year and Spring to come. Still looking forward to Go to the Devil when it arrives. Expect more when I hear it.

Till then:

dee calhoun tour teaser

Leynir Booking is proud to present in April 2018 (19th-29th) THE DEVIL OVER EUROPE TOUR.

The voice of legendary doom band Iron Man, from Maryland USA, “Screaming Mad” DEE CALHOUN will be in Europe for 11 shows. Dee will be accompanied by Louis Strachan (Iron Man) on bass guitar.

Says Dee of the tour: “To be able to tour Europe as a solo artist is beyond a dream come true. I had a wonderful time there during various festivals with Iron Man, but to do a full tour is staggering.”

Dee has completed production of his sophomore solo release, entitled Go to the Devil. The album, which will be released via Argonauta Records in early 2018, is the follow-up to Dee’s 2016 solo release Rotgut.

Dee has been joined on this album by Iron Man bandmate Louis Strachan on bass. Dee handled vocal, acoustic guitar, and percussion duties, as well as additional instrumentation.

Go to the Devil, like Rotgut before it, was recorded in Dee’s home studio The Dustbuster. Mastering was handled by Doug Benson at Commodore Recording Studio in Thurmont MD.

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

Dee Calhoun, Go to the Devil album teaser

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Review & Track Premiere: Nupraptor, The Heresiarch

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

nupraptor-the-heresiarch

[Click play above to stream ‘Burning the Believers’ from Nupraptor’s The Heresiarch. Album is out Dec. 15 on Shadow Kingdom Records.]

For anyone into etymology — words, not bugs; that’s entomology — the title of Nupraptor‘s first long-player, The Heresiarch, will read plainly. I had to look it up to be sure it was a real word, but it is. Its two parts, “heresy” and “arch” denote one who is prime among heretics, like an archpriest, and in terms of the Baltimore one-man outfit’s Shadow Kingdom Records-delivered debut, if vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Matt St. Ours is campaigning for the position, he makes a compelling argument for taking ownership of the position. The album is comprised of seven tracks, and from the introductory “Black Mass” through the 11-minute closing epic “The Fall of Christ,” which gleefully recounts the crucifixion story, there isn’t one of them that on some level doesn’t play toward the title.

It’s a unipolarity of theme that, like St. Ours‘ shredding lead work, is born out of classic heavy metal, and the oldschool is indeed the well from which Nupraptor most readily draws. Drums, while programmed, march through straightforward arrangements of elder-style doom, from the Sabbath-via-Trouble march of “Through the Smoke” to the unbridled Candlemass idolatry of “Before the Eyes of God,” and in in vocal approach, St. Ours seems to place himself in the post-Robert Lowe, Messiah Marcolin, sphere, with stylistic flourishes tossed in from the likes of Witchfinder General and others of the NWOBHM who readily crossed the line to doom much as he does here. If you were living the dream and had a dual-deck, The Heresiarch is the kind of record you might dub for one of your buddies and draw the Nupraptor logo on the tape label, perhaps crudely.

Over the last decade, Shadow Kingdom has made itself an essential purveyor of precisely this type of fare: new acts purposefully breaking old ground. The label’s passion for the NWOBHM in particular is a thread one can hear woven through much of what it releases, and Nupraptor fit well into this oeuvre. St. Ours signals early with the aforementioned intro “Black Mass” that his guitar will be in the lead position in terms of arrangement focus, and the 50-minute offering goes according to plan. While it’s Nupraptor‘s first release, St. Ours has past experience working on his own, having founded metallers White Hornet as a one-man project before expanding it to a full lineup, and sure enough, as “Black Mass” gives way to the rolling plod of “Through the Smoke,” that history and the sense of command comes into play almost immediately.

nupraptor

A spoken introduction and initial crash begin “Burning the Believers,” which delivers its title in a whisper before unfurling one of The Heresiarch‘s most satisfying nods, topped with a mournful solo and brimming with downer atmosphere and layered, effected vocals. It is doom for doomers, but though St. Ours is based in Baltimore, it’s worth noting that Nupraptor don’t directly play to Maryland doom of the Pentagram or The Obsessed style. Sure, the pace in “Burning the Believers” picks up in the song’s second half, and the nine-minute title-track, the penultimate “Wasting Away” and “The Fall of Christ” have their rocking moments as well, but this is given to an Iron Maiden-esque gallop more than the rawer punk and hardcore roots from which much of Maryland doom sprang initially and still springs, the swinging progression of “Wasting Away” notwithstanding. Decisively metal, in other words. There is little doubt left as to intent in that regard, and in its craftsmanship, bleak cohesion and anti-Christian storytelling, the album answers the call of its own mission with a passionate delivery and complete-band sound.

That last element — the fact that The Heresiarch sounds like a work by a complete band — makes one wonder what the future for Nupraptor might hold, and if St. Ours could possibly put together a trio or, maybe more likely a four-piece given some of the interweaving guitar antics and harmonies here in “Before the Eyes of God,” etc., down the line. Whether or not that happens, he’s given himself a potent aesthetic model from which to work, and one that will preach loudly and righteously to a vigilant sect of the doom converted. If there aren’t vest patches printed yet, there should be. The Heresiarch speaks to a time in which heavy metal itself was the cult to be joined, and in its style and substance, it succeeds in establishing this context for St. Ours and Nupraptor to nonetheless move forward in bringing new life to this storied past.

Nupraptor on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

Shadow Kingdom Records on Thee Facebooks

The Heresiarch at Shadow Kingdom Records Bandcamp

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Blood Mist Change Name to Haze Mage

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

haze mage photo rock n roll socialite

Pretty familiar situation by now, I’d think. Baltimore’s Blood Mist put out their self-titled debut EP (review here) earlier this year on Grimoire Records, and got a pretty solid response for its blend of classic metal and doomly stylizations. Unfortunately, among the responses they got was from another band with a similar name who harangued them into changing their moniker, which they’ve now done, becoming Haze Mage.

One recalls in the middle of the last decade when the same thing happened to Mike Scheidt with Middian actually being sued, leading to the dissolution of that group. Well, then YOB got back together and put out The Great Cessation, so if Haze Mage want an example of putting being pissed off to really good use, one could hardly think of any more appropriate. Go get ’em, Haze Mage.

The band announced the change on Halloween thusly:

haze mage logo

On this, the eve of all Hallows day, spirits phase in and out of our reality, twisting our perception into madness. The reality we once knew was lost inside a thick crimson fog, and it was there in the Blood Mist where we were battle tested and thrust into an adventure of our own design. Now forged in the fight, the cloud of sanguine fluid has settled back into the ground from whence it came, where it will remain forevermore.

But where one malevolent force dissipates, another one slowly fades into view. A deep sunken dread that pounds inside your mind, beckoning you with an unknown terror. Barely visible, a single silhouette shrouded in blackness, the shadowy towering figure layered behind curtains of effluvium that envelope it. It’s clawed hands raise to the empyrean, slivered eyes glow red and massive spiked horns cut through the vapor to reveal the master of this miasma of smothering murk. A new age has begun. It is the age of the HAZE MAGE. And henceforth it shall be known we are it’s disciples and so should be you.

Haze Mage is John de Campos (drums), Matthew Casella (vocals), Nick Jewett (guitar), Kevin Considine (guitar), and Scott Brenner (bass).

https://www.facebook.com/hazemage/
https://www.instagram.com/hazemage/
https://hazemage.bandcamp.com/releases
https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com

Haze Mage, Blood Mist (2017)

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Maryland Doom Fest 2018 Announces Full Lineup with The Obsessed, Windhand, Weedeater, Earthride and Many More

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Invariably there will be some change between now and next June, and there’s the tradition of the pre-show to consider the night before, but right out of the gate, Maryland Doom Fest 2018 impresses with its scope of heavy rock and doom, cross-country reach and loyalty to its core mission. With The Obsessed, Windhand and Weedeater set to headline, the fourth edition of the fest curated by JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank will welcome return appearances from the likes of Castle, Earthride, Thousand Vision Mist and Foghound, while reaching out to bring first-timers from afar like Texas’ Doomstress and Duel and Switchblade Jesus, Kansas rockers The Midnight Ghost Train, Connecticut’s Curse the Son, New York’s Geezer, and — I believe traveling the farthest — Disenchanter, from Portland, Oregon.

It’s a killer assemblage, and I think the three headliners do a lot in summarizing the whole idea behind the fest in the first place: The Obsessed are among the founders of what we think of as “Maryland doom.” Windhand are the forerunners of the modern scene. And Weedeater bring a riotous sludge party like no one else on the planet. What more could you possibly ask of three bands in terms of expressing what Maryland Doom Fest 2018 is all about?

I’ll have updates as I see them, but in the meantime, mark your calendars for June 22, 23, and 24 at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD, and I’ll do the same, because this looks absolutely awesome.

Dig it:

maryland doom fest 2018 poster

Maryand Doom Fest 2018

A 3 day weekend of Doom in its purest form.

June 22, 23, and 24

Cafe 611 Restaurant
611 North Market Street
Frederick, MD 21701

Full lineup:
The Obsessed, Windhand, Weedeater, Castle, Unorthodox, Duel, The Watchers, Zed, Switchblade Jesus, The Midnight Ghost Train, Lightning Born, Earthride, Geezer, Disenchanter, Bedowyn, Cavern, Doomstress, Caustic Casanova, Hawkeyes, Curse the Son, Las Cruces, Horseburner, Shadow Witch, Foghound, Witchhelm, Book of Wyrms, Thousand Vision Mist, Molasses Barge, Backwoods Payback, Bailjack, Electropathic, Gateway to Hell

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-maryland-doom-fest-2018-tickets-39468562533
https://www.facebook.com/MdDoomFest/
https://www.themarylanddoomfest.com/

The Obsessed, Live at Maryland Doom Fest 2016

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The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season: Finding Golden Days

Posted in Reviews on October 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the flying eyes burning of the season

True, it’s been four years since Baltimore heavy psych/blues rockers The Flying Eyes made their last full-length offering. And in no small part because 2013’s Lowlands (review here) was such a satisfying follow-up to 2011’s Done So Wrong (review here) — their proper debut LP after compiling two EPs into a self-titled album (review here) the year prior — each one of those years has been felt. But it’s not as if The Flying Eyes have been sitting on their ass over that span of time. In 2014, they took part in the first four-way split from Heavy Psych Sounds alongside NaamWhite Hills and Black Rainbows (review here), and in 2015 they toured Europe for not the first time. They’d do so again in 2016 to mark their 10th anniversary as a group, also releasing the Poison the Well / 1969 7″ (discussed here) on H42 Records in the interim.

March 2016 brought dates in South America as well, and it was immediately following that stretch that the four-piece hit Estudio Superfuzz in Rio de Janeiro to record Burning of the Season, their third (or fourth, depending on how you count it) album and debut on Ripple Music, with producer Gabriel Zander, who’s built a reputation helming records for Mars Red Sky and others, and someone who clearly knows how to capture tone and vibe together. Both serve The Flying Eyes — the lineup of vocalist/guitarist Will Kelly, guitarist/lap steel guitarist Adam Bufano, bassist Mac Hewitt and drummer Elias Schutzman — remarkably well throughout, as does the arrangement-bolstering key work of Trevor Shipley on cuts like side A finale “Circle of Stone,” in which the record’s title line is repeated in a particular moment of arrival; one of several no less distinguished by its melody than overarching memorability.

But then, songwriting has always been part of the appeal of The Flying Eyes, and while their priorities have been and would seem to remain elsewhere geographically — tours in South America and Europe, not in the US, and so on — they continue to carry a measure of American pastoralia with them in pieces like opener “Sing Praise,” which makes an early show of Hewitt‘s bass tone en route to one of Burning of the Season‘s catchiest hooks, and the later melancholic “Farewell,” which resonates with the class of its delivery and a carefully conjured rhythmic bounce that manages not to pull away from the wistful mood. Splitting into two four-song sides, the record totals 43 symmetrical minutes, but casts an immersive and linear flow even as the aforementioned “Circle of Stone” — the longest cut at 7:41 save for closer “Oh Sister,” which hits 8:23; see how that works? — moves into twanging side B starter “Fade Away” such that it’s increasingly easy to follow the progression of the record as a singular work as it continues to move outward into greater expanses.

That happens with a somewhat marked shift in sensibility on the part of the band itself, which makes a raucous salvo of “Sing Praise,” “Come Round” and “Drain” at the outset before stretching out on “Circle of Stone,” and yeah, “Come Round” has a quiet part here and there, and “Circle of Stone” pulls back on tempo to emphasize largesse in its loud/quiet tradeoffs prior to its airy solo, but while that song gets its answer in “Oh Sister,” which again brings in Shipley‘s organ work as it revives a more upbeat feel, the balance of the dynamic at play is what shifts, and it becomes much to the richness of the entire listening experience that it does.

the flying eyes

On a sheer level of craft and performance, The Flying Eyes have never sounded better or like they have more to offer their listenership in terms of stylistic reach. Kelly as a vocalist is a commanding frontman who knows when to step back and let his and the surrounding instrumentation have its space, as shown even early on in an echoing break within the second half of “Sing Praise” further marked by standout tom work from Schutzman, and as “Fade Away” and “Farewell” expand the emotional center of Burning of the Season as a whole, he is able to convey genuine-seeming feeling without losing melodic focus, finding a delicate balance between storytelling and owning the material on a personal level. His and Bufano‘s guitar work throughout is likewise stellar, fluid, patient when it wants to be, insistent elsewhere and able to capture a feeling in just a single short progression, as on “Fade Away,” or cast a spaciousness in “Rest Easy” while still remaining grounded thanks to the complementary work of Hewitt on bass and Shipley on keys, who might need to become a permanent member of the band if he hasn’t yet.

Together with Zander‘s full-sounding and clear but still naturalist production (and some overdubs back in Baltimore at The Magpie Cage), all of these elements come to find a summary point in the revival hook and drive of “Oh Sister,” which picks up from the subdued trio of “Fade Away,” “Farewell” and “Rest Easy” to make its impression through the tapping of Schutzman‘s snare and the molten motion signaled thereby between more active and quieter stretches. The finale doesn’t hit quite the same level of emotional expression as, say, “Farewell,” but it does nod to some of the quieter parts of Burning of the Season while emphasizing its chorus en route to the triumphant wash with which it caps the album — a push-toward-crescendo that takes hold just past the six-minute mark with an uptick in volume and thrust and brings The Flying Eyes, whose control has been so resolute all the while, to an especially spirited end with a moment of chaos no less willful in its execution.

It may have tested patience and anticipation for fans, but four long years to bring about Burning of the Season was not wasted time in light of the growth shown in these tracks even from where Lowlands found The Flying Eyes in 2013. They are as sure in their approach as they’ve seemed to be perennially in their songwriting, and they remain underappreciated (at least in the US; I can’t speak for how other continents might receive them at this point) for what they bring to both in terms of quality and clear-minded, purposeful engagement. They’ve been a special band for a long time. Never more so than here.

The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season (2017)

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Clutch Release Live at Googolplex Vinyl to Start Picture Disc Series

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

There was a while there when Clutch were putting out limited releases at an almost Melvinsian pace. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but offerings like Live at the Googolplex, Live in Flint, Michigan, and even Full Fathom Five are treasure troves of the band doing what they do best — kicking ass on stage. It’s the former that’s the occasion for this post, as Weathermaker Music has newly released a picture-disc version of Live at the Googolplex as the start of a three-record series that will continue with Jam Room and Pitchfork and Lost Needles before the end of the year. If you’re even a moderate Clutch collector — and no reason to not be, frankly — you don’t need me to tell you these will be gone if they aren’t already, so, you know, preorders and timeliness and whatnot.

Clutch hit the road next month with Devin Townsend Project and The Obsessed. Dates and more info follow via the PR wire:

clutch live at the googolplex

CLUTCH TO RELEASE LIMITED EDITION VINYL COLLECTOR PICTURE DISCS

THE FIRST IN THE SERIES “LIVE AT THE GOOGOLPLEX” OUT TODAY

Clutch and Weathermaker Music have prepared three very special Clutch limited edition vinyl collector picture discs. The first in the series, “Live At The Googolplex” [is available now].

Recorded in 2002 in Chicago, Montreal, Kansas City, and Columbus, OH. “Live At The Googolplex”, like all three releases in the series will be the first time these releases will be available as a picture disc vinyl.

The next two releases in the series will be “Jam Room” (scheduled for release October 27th, 2017) and “Pitchfork & Lost Needles” (scheduled for release November 24th, 2017).

“Weathermaker Music is releasing 3 limited edition picture discs” states frontman Neil Fallon. “The first will be Live at the Googolplex. That will be followed up by Jam Room and then Pitchfork and Lost Needles. All feature art from the original releases. For what it’s worth, I drew Medusa’s head for the Jam Room release. With a pen. And paper. This is your chance to own a bit of art history”.

All 3 in the series will be available at all major vinyl outlets and is available to pre-order now at https://www.indiemerchstore.com/b/clutch.

Clutch is set to embark on another leg of the Psychic Warfare World Tour 2017 starting November 29th, 2017 and running through December 31st, 2017. All tour and ticket info can be found at: https://www.pro-rock.com.

Clutch is currently in the throes of working on new material for a 2018 release.

Clutch, Devin Townsend Project and The Obsessed Tour Dates:
Wed, 11-29-17 Greensboro, NC at Cone Denim Entertainment Center
Fri, 12-01-17 Myrtle Beach, SC at House Of Blues
Sat, 12-02-17 St Petersburg, FL at Jannus Live
Sun, 12-03-17 Fort Lauderdale, FL at Revolution
Tue, 12-05-17 Saint Augustine, FL at Backyard Stage @ St Augustine Amphitheatre
Wed, 12-06-17 Pensacola, FL at Vinyl Music Hall
Fri, 12-08-17 Baton Rouge, LA at Varsity Theatre
Sat, 12-09-17 San Antonio, TX at The Aztec Theatre
Sun, 12-10-17 Houston, TX at House Of Blues
Tues, 12-12-17 Springfield, MO at Gillioz Theatre
Wed, 12-13-17 Lincoln, NE at Bourbon Theatre
Fri, 12-15-17 Peoria, IL at Limelight Eventplex
Sat, 12-16-17 Nashville, TN at Marathon Music Works
Wed, 12-27-17 Clifton Park, NY at Upstate Concert Hall
Thu, 12-28-17 Sayreville, NJ at Starland Ballroom
Fri, 12-29-17 Richmond, VA at The National
Sat, 12-30-17 Knoxville, TN at The International
Sun, 12-31-17 Columbus, OH at Express Live

CLUTCH:
Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

www.facebook.com/clutchband
www.instagram.com/clutchofficial
www.twitter.com/clutchofficial
www.pro-rock.com
www.youtube.com/user/officialclutch

Clutch, “Pure Rock Fury” from Live at the Googolplex (2003)

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The Obsessed to Reissue Self-Titled Debut Nov. 17; Tour Starts Sept. 27

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

If you were wondering how The Obsessed were going to follow-up the earlier-2017 release of their comeback LP, Sacred (review here), now we know. The Wino-fronted verifiable doom legends will go back to the start (or the sort-of-start, anyway) and reissue their 1990 self-titled debut via Relapse, complete with their 1985 Concrete Cancer demo and a boatload of live tracks. Right on.

Already own the record? Fair enough. Me too. And I’ll admit, I was kind of like, “Well yeah, that makes sense, cool I guess, been out of print for a while, etc.” and a little meh on the notion — until I actually listened to the version of “The Way She Fly” that you’ll find down at the bottom of this post. It sounds fucking great. I don’t know who handled the remastering process, but clearly it’s somebody with a love for the work. Really, give it a shot. Not like it’s long or anything.

The Obsessed launch a massive headlining tour on Sept. 27 and will be out again in December with Clutch and The Devin Townsend Project. Dates and all other info came down the PR wire:

the obsessed self-titled

THE OBSESSED Announces Reissue Of Legendary Self-Titled Debut Album + Concrete Cancer Demo

Originally released in 1990 and out-of-print for almost two decades, the now legendary debut album from doom godfathers THE OBSESSED will once again see the light of day in multiple deluxe formats. Now completely remastered with previously unreleased bonus tracks, including the highly sought-after Concrete Cancer demo, expanded artwork, never-before-seen photos, and extended liner notes from frontman Scott “Wino” Weinrich, this is the definitive edition of THE OBSESSED’s self-titled debut, a true piece of doom history!

Weinrich comments: “This record defines the passion, the pureness, and vibrancy of youth, and the fierce love, loyalty, and dedication to this music. I am happy and proud it lives once again! Thanks to all who believe, Wino.”

THE OBSESSED’s self-titled reissue is due out November 17th on 2xCD, LP, 2xLP, and digital formats via Relapse Records. Physical bundles and digital preorders are available via Relapse Records HERE and streaming services at THIS LOCATION.

THE OBSESSED will embark upon a US fall headlining tour beginning September 27th in Asheville, North Carolina and ending October 27th in Baltimore, Maryland. Direct support will be provided by Cobalt and Iron Tongue on select dates. Additionally, the band will join Clutch and Devin Townsend Project for a winter run of shows to close out the year. See all confirmed dates below.

The Obsessed (Reissue) Track Listing:
1. Tombstone Highway
2. The Way She Fly
3. Forever Midnight
4. Ground Out
5. Fear Child
6. Freedom
7. Red Disaster
8. Inner Turmoil
9. River of Soul
10. Concrete Cancer (1984 unreleased Concrete Cancer demo cassette)
11. Feelingz (1984 unreleased Concrete Cancer demo cassette)
12. Mental Kingdom (1984 unreleased Concrete Cancer demo cassette)
13. Hiding Masque (1984 unreleased Concrete Cancer demo cassette)
14. Ground Out – Feelingz (live at The Bayou 4-15-1985)
15. Concrete Cancer (live at The Bayou 4-15-1985)
16. No Blame (live at The Bayou 4-15-1985)
17. Mental Kingdom (live at The Bayou 4-15-1985)
18. Tombstone Highway (live at The Bayou 4-15-1985)
19. Iron and Stone (live at The Bayou 4-15-1985)
20. Rivers of Soul (live at The Bayou 4-15-1985)
21. Sittin on a Grave (live at The Bayou 4-15-1985)
22. Freedom (live at The Bayou 4-15-1985)
23. Indestroy – Kill Ugly Naked (live at The Bayou 4-15-1985)

Concrete Cancer Demo Track Listing:
1. Concrete Cancer
2. Feelingz
3. Mental Kingdom
4. Hiding Masque

THE OBSESSED:
9/27/2017 Mothlight – Asheville, NC
9/28/2017 Clermont Lounge – Atlanta, GA
9/29/2017 Whitewater – Little Rock, AR
9/30/2017 Fubar – St. Louis, MO ^
10/01/2017 Hi Tone – Memphis, TN ^
10/02/2017 Lost Well – Austin, TX ^
10/03/2017 Lolas – Ft. Worth, TX ^
10/05/2017 Beauty Bar – Las Vegas, NV
10/07/2017 Cal Jam – San Bernardino, CA
10/08/2017 Elbo Room – San Francisco, CA *
10/09/2017 Old Nicks – Eugene, OR *
10/10/2017 Bossanova Ballroom – Portland, OR
10/12/2017 Studio Seven – Seattle, WA *
10/13/2017 The Pin – Spokane, WA *
10/16/2017 7th St. Entry – Minneapolis, MN *
10/17/2017 Cactus Club – Milwaukee, WI *
10/18/2017 Barauerhaus – Lombard, IL *
10/19/2017 Woodward Theater – Cincinnati, OH *
10/20/2017 Trixies – Louisville, KY *
10/21/2017 Chameleon Club – Lancaster, PA *
10/24/2017 Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY *
10/25/2017 The Cafe at Parlor – Newport, RI *
10/26/2017 Voltage Lounge – Philadelphia, PA *
10/27/2017 Metro Gallery – Baltimore, MD *
^ w/ Iron Tongue
* w/ Cobalt

w/ Clutch, Devin Townsend Project:
11/29/2017 Cone Denim Entertainment – Greensboro, NC
12/01/2017 House Of Blues – Myrtle Beach, SC
12/02/2017 Revolution – St. Petersburg, FL
12/03/2017 Revolution – Fort Lauderdale, FL
12/05/2017 Backyard Stage @ St. Augustine Amphitheater – St. Augustine, FL
12/06/2017 Vinyl Music Hall – Pensacola, FL
12/08/2017 Varsity Theater – Baton Rouge, LA
12/09/2017 The Aztec Theater – San Antonio, TX
12/10/2017 House Of Blues – Houston, TX
12/12/2017 Gillioz Theater – Springfield, MO
12/13/2017 Bourbon Theater – Lincoln, NE
12/15/2017 Limelight Eventplex – Peoria, IL
12/16/2017 Marathon Music Works – Nashville, TN
12/27/2017 Upstate Concert Hall – Clifton Park, NY
12/28/2017 Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ
12/29/2017 The National – Richmond, VA
12/30/2017 The International – Knoxville, TN
12/31/2017 Express Live – Columbus, OH

https://www.facebook.com/TheObsessedOfficial
http://relapse.com/the-obsessed-sacred/
https://theobsessed.bandcamp.com/
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords
http://www.twitter.com/RelapseRecords
https://www.facebook.com/tonedeaftouring/

The Obsessed, “The Way She Fly”

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