Iron Man Post Previously-Unreleased Demo “Black Morning”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


Maryland doomers Iron Man put out word in September that they were working on some new demos. They’ve been playing new material live for a few months now at least, and that month they took part in the Shadow Woods Metal Fest in Pennsylvania, where they continued the trend. In the past, Iron Man have sometimes pressed up their demo material for limited-type, sold-at-show EPs and things like that, sold at the merch table in a slimline and not really available elsewhere. I have no idea if that’s what’s in store for “Black Morning” or not, but it makes a handy preview of where the four-piece are at in the songwriting process anyway, so you won’t hear me argue.

Even in demo-raw form, it’s pretty clear “Black Morning” has little interest in fixing what wasn’t broken on Iron Man‘s most recent studio outing, 2013’s South of the Earth (review here), but there’s an emotional crux to the track as well that seems to expand on what they were doing their last time out. Working in kind with the guitar of “Iron” Al Morris III, vocalist Dee Calhoun‘s lyrics take their theme from a 1985 Potomac River flood in Oldtown, Maryland, and in hearing the somewhat melancholy sound of the guitar — the riff setting a groove that bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann have no trouble locking in — it makes sense as a point of inspiration.

We’ll see if the song winds up on Iron Man‘s next record or anything else released in the interim. Until then, Calhoun posted the track with photos from the aforementioned flood and gave some insight into the lyrics’ origins. Enjoy:

Iron Man, “Black Morning” unreleased demo

Dee Calhoun of Iron Man on “Black Morning”:

November 5, 1985 was a day that I, as well as the residents of my hometown of Oldtown MD, will never forget. We stood on railroad tracks overlooking Main Street in Oldtown and watched the rising Potomac River flood our school, our post office, our general store, our lives. The aftermath of this event saw the people of my small town rise up and overcome adversity in a way that makes me proud to this day.

For the better part of three decades, I tried to write a song about this event, but could not find the right vibe to convey just what had happened. Then, Al came in with a riff, and I was inspired.

This song is about loss and tragedy, and it asks the question if these things can truly be overcome. It’s written to encompass any myriad of situations, but it was inspired by that night and following morning when the waters came and went, changing lives forever.

So tonight, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Oldtown MD flood, I give you the previously unreleased recording of Iron Man’s “Black Morning.”

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Maryland Doom Fest 2016 Adds Place of Skulls and Internal Void

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

maryland doom fest 2016 lineup

Last month, when the complete lineup for Maryland Doom Fest 2016 was announced here, there was some measure of confusion as to whether or not Internal Void would play. At the time, promoters JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank said the band, who released three albums — Standing on the Sun (1993), Unearthed (2000) and Matricide (2004) — during their initial run and have been off and on since (mostly off), would not, but that guitarist Kelly Carmichael would be unveiling a new project at the fest.

Whether or not that will still happen, I’m not sure, but Carmichael — who also played a solo blues set at Vultures of Volume in MD in Sept. (review here) — and the rest of Internal Void will indeed play, for what may or may not be the first time since 2013. They and Place of Skulls have joined the bill among previously-announced headliners Spirit Caravan, Bang and Unorthodox, and Place of Skulls are in a pretty similar situation. Their shows are more frequent, admittedly, but between guitarist/vocalist Victor Griffin‘s intermittent tenure in Pentagram and getting the In~Graved project going and bringing it to fruition, they’re nowhere near as active as they once were. To wit, their most recent outing, As a Dog Returns (review here), was released in 2010.

So, if you’ve been keeping up, this means that Griffin will be there, Wino will be there, Sherman will be there, and UnorthodoxWar InjunPale DivineAdmiral Browning and Internal Void will play (among many others). It really is a Maryland doom fest. It’s not just a clever name.

True to the no-frills heart of Maryland doom, the announcement that came with the additions of Place of Skulls and Internal Void was straightforward, to the point, and laid it all on the line. It follows the posters below in its entirety:

Yet another chance for you to get stoked!

Be there…..or suck.

Place of Skulls, Live at Bannerfest 2014

Internal Void, Live at Stoner Hands of Doom X, 2009

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Friday Full-Length: Iron Man, Black Night

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Iron Man, Black Night (1993)

[Please note: Shadow Kingdom reissued Black Night in 2009 and the album is available on Bandcamp here.]

If you ever wanted a primer or a summary of the entire Maryland doom scene distilled into one record, it might be Iron Man‘s 1993 debut, Black Night (reissue review here). I say that because even more than Pentagram‘s Relentless or The Obsessed‘s self-titled — both landmarks, make no mistake — Black Night has remained an underground phenomenon, and while its tracks and particularly the riffs of founding guitarist “Iron” Al Morris III are on par with any of the post-Sabbath downer metal that region has produced and at this point has influenced a lot of it, to a broader worldwide audience, Iron Man continue to be a relatively obscure act. Less so now than perhaps ever following the 2013 release of their latest album, South of the Earth (review here), on Rise Above, but still. Riffers don’t come much more underrated than Morris.

Whether that’s due to issues of race or if it was a lack of promotion at the time, I don’t know, but Black Night is all the more exemplary for the whole of Maryland doom for being undervalued. It is unremittingly straightforward, whether its the hook of its title-track or the basic frustration at root in the social commentary of “A Child’s Future,” and its roots are directly traced to Black Sabbath and the heart of what doom metal was taking from them and melding to the gallop of the NWOBHM at the time. Black Night, in being issued via the German imprint Hellhound, was one of a swath of records from the Doom Capitol area that saw release at what was apparently just the right time to make a lasting impact, and one could easily look at it as well as concurrent offerings from UnorthodoxInternal VoidThe ObsessedRevelation and Wretched as the blueprints for what Maryland doom has become.

As with any scene, the players involved are pivotal. Morris has remained in Iron Man, and vocalist Rob Levey founded and ran the Stoner Hands of Doom festival series, while drummer Ron Kalimon split his time with Unorthodox. Bassist Larry Brown stuck around to play on Iron Man‘s 1994 follow-up, The Passage (reissue review here), and had played in Force with Morris as well, but parted ways with the band after that, and Iron Man would go on to become a hub for players and vocalists in the tradition of Pentagram, though by no means that extreme in turnover.

Hoping for a new Iron Man release in 2016, but I haven’t heard any solid news in that regard. Now fronted by “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun with Louis Strachan on bass and Jason “Mot” Waldmann on drums, the band began playing new material live as of this summer. Hope you enjoy.

Well, The Patient Mrs. is in Portland, Oregon, for a conference until Sunday, and you know what that means: Bachelor weekend! My plans? Make chicken soup, vacuum, and if there’s time, log the recent mail in the Excel file where I keep track of everything (physical; I’m sorry, but there’s no keeping up with Bandcamp links) that comes in for review. That last item might be ambitious, but either way, it’s gonna be a fucking rager. Look out.

Next week: Radio Adds! Yes. Radio Adds. It’s going to happen. No joke, I have well over 100 albums sitting in a folder on my desktop waiting to go on the server, and next week, it’s happening. It’s been since June, and it’s getting ridiculous, so the time has come. I’ll set it all up Sunday. Also Monday I’ll be streaming the new EP from Return from the Grave that Argonauta Records is putting out, and maybe Tuesday I might (fingers crossed) have a Death Hawks track premiere. I’m loving that album. Svart does not screw around.

Speaking of streams, if you didn’t listen to it yet, that Kristian Harting album is very much worth your time. Stream it here.

If you’re the celebrating-Halloween type, be safe. Whatever your plans might be — bet they don’t have you nearly as excited as the prospect of chicken soup has me — I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Are Swarm of the Lotus Reuniting?

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


If the question is whether or not Swarm of the Lotus might be getting back together, I guess the short answer is “I hope so.” The Baltimore crushers have been out of commission for almost exactly five years, and it was five years before that that their second and final studio album, 2005’s The Sirens of Silence, was released. That record came out on Century Media, and like its 2004 predecessor, When White Becomes Black (which was on At a Loss), it was an absolute monster. Nobody was ever quite able to blend a post-hardcore bombast with weighted atmospherics like Swarm of the Lotus seemed to be able to do, and while members have continued on in other groups, it’s never been quite the same since Swarm of the Lotus called it quits. To wit, “Call to Abandon” from The Silence of Silence or “From Embers” from the debut. Devastating.

Yeah, posting a previously unreleased studio demo isn’t exactly announcing a world tour when it comes to reunion potential, but it’s more than has been heard from Swarm of the Lotus in an awfully long time, and the track in question, “Plagued by Ritual,” captures a lot of the bombastic groove that their best moments offered, and so, if you don’t know them, doesn’t actually make a bad way to get introduced. I remember seeing them play upstairs at The Pyramid, back when shows happened in Manhattan. It’s not every band that can elicit a windmill headbang out of me, but Swarm of the Lotus did so with no trouble whatsoever.

In addition to the post that follows here about the new-ish “Plagued by Ritual,” Swarm of the Lotus recently posted instrumental demos from their two albums and said that if Meatjack did a reunion show, they’d entertain the idea of following suit. I wouldn’t mind seeing that bill.

Dig it:

swarm of the lotus plagued by ritual

And now, I give you something I’m most excited about. Not exactly NEW music but essentially is to those that never knew, which is almost everybody save the band members and a small handful of people that may remember us playing it live….a very long time ago. I bestow upon you a sleeping giant, may she awake now from her slumber………

Peter Maturi-guitar/vox
Chris Csar-bass/vox
Cole Crickenberger-guitar
Jon-John Michaud-drums

Swarm of the Lotus, “Plagued by Ritual”

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Admiral Browning, Corvette Summer: Devil’s Dilemma

Posted in Reviews on October 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

admiral browning corvette summer tape and case

Not familiar with the 1978 film from which Admiral Browning‘s Corvette Summer takes its name? Don’t sweat it. I don’t think the band could hold it against you. Corvette Summer stars a post-Star Wars, pre-Empire Mark Hamill as a recent high school grad whose sportscar gets stolen and he spends the entire summer trying to track down the jerks who took it. Yup, that’s the movie. On the tape version of Admiral Browning‘s latest EP, you even get to hear the audio from the trailer. How the Maryland three-piece came into awareness of its existence, I don’t know, but for an outfit who’ve always specialized in doing things just a little weird, just a little their own way, to release a hand-signed red metallic four-song limited tape EP (five if you grab the download) with two studio tracks on side one and two live tracks on side two, housed in a classic red case with their logo in a blazing late-’70s font at the top makes a fitting kind of sense. It’s better not to ask questions, in other words. Just roll with it.

It’s been two years since Admiral Browning‘s fifth album, Give No Quarter (review here), was released. A change in geographic situation — i.e. one of them moved — can be blamed for a relative lack of activity, but Corvette Summer was put together to coincide with a recent week-plus on the road, and they’ve embarked on a series of digital, expanded reissues for their past albums, so guitarist Matt LeGrow, bassist Ron “Fez” McGinnis and drummer Tim Otis are by no means done.

And in addition to sitting on the merch table at shows, Corvette Summer serves the further purpose of pushing the long-instrumental outfit’s continuing experiment with vocals even further than did the last album, LeGrow and McGinnis harmonizing on the side one studio cuts “Human Dilemma” and “The Devil’s in the Details” to an effective degree that enhances the bizarro-prog sensibility that has long been in their songcraft while also grounding the material in a way that supports their blazing turns of rhythm rather than detracting from them. Particularly the latter, “The Devil’s in the Details,” is delivered with a focus on hook that, when Admiral Browning released Battle Stations (review here) in 2011 probably would’ve been inconceivable for them. That’s not to critique their progression one way or another, just noting that in addition to their grooves, sometimes the nature of the band itself is given to unexpected shifts.

That also suits Admiral Browning well, and if Corvette Summer is meant to be an experiment in realizing the next stage of the band, they deliver a comprehensive glimpse at where they might be headed between sides one and two. Recorded in March at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD, at a gig which also hosted local luminaries Righteous BloomNagato and Faith in Jane, both cuts on the tape — “Corvette Summer” itself and “Spanish Trampoline” — are instrumental, but the download also gives a live version of “Human Dilemma” as a bonus track that finds LeGrow and McGinnis working through the vocal arrangement smoothly on stage while Otis pushes through his standard-operating-procedure cardiovascular drumming method behind.

The core of Admiral Browning‘s approach has always been the trio’s ability to remain heavy in the face of technical intricacy and to groove while fulfilling frenetic pacing and unrepentant nuance. That has not changed, but their melodic conceptualization has, and ultimately makes them a stronger, more versatile act. I wouldn’t necessarily expect Admiral Browning after Corvette Summer to go all-out, vocals-every-song, verse-into-chorus-into-verse on every release from here on out, but the simple fact that they have another tool in their arsenal — two, if you count the contributions of both singers — only broadens their reach as they move forward.

Hopefully they do move forward. Corvette Summer plays a distinct role as a stopgap in demonstrating the trio’s commitment despite living apart — the tour does likewise — but the question remains as to what their process might be for putting together a full-length follow-up to Give No Quarter while essentially having to work around an all-in-the-same-room approach or otherwise jam out in limited or intermittent stretches. Whatever they do next, the progression they continue to show in everything they do is plainly evident in “Human Dilemma” and “The Devil’s in the Details,” and while the tape is short, it finds them undaunted in their considerable task. If this is how Admiral Browning can keep growing, then so be it. They still sound like a band who needs to be making this music, and they deliver here with a clarity that highlights how underrated they truly are.

Admiral Browning, “The Devil’s in the Details” Live in MD, 2013

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Admiral Browning’s website

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Black Lung Premiere Video for “Behemoth”; Second Album in Progress

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

black lung

Baltimore heavy blues trio Black Lung have entered the studio with the esteemed likes of J. Robbins (ClutchThe Sword, Caustic Casanova) at the helm of Magpie Cage to record their yet-untitled second album, following-up their 2014 self-titled debut. That LP was recorded by Noel Mueller and released last June on Grimoire Records (Noisolution in Europe), and even as the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dave Cavalier, guitarist Adam Bufano and drummer Elias Mays Schutzman — the latter two also of The Flying Eyes — are in the process of moving forward with their next outing, they return to Mueller, who also tracked and mixed the live audio accompanying their new video for “Behemoth,” which premieres today.

Clearly intended as a live act, Black Lung are tight enough in their swinging, classic-styled-but-modernly-presented groove to trick one into thinking they’ve been a band for way more than just a year, perhaps benefiting from Bufano and Schutzman‘s tenure together in their other outfit, but pushing smoothly into dual-guitar chemistry here with Cavalier, who takes command vocally on “Behemoth” with zero traceable hesitation. A catchy, fluid roll builds on what Black Lung brought to their self-titled and the work the band put into touring Europe to support it, and holds promise of even bolder sounds to come when they’re done in the studio with Robbins, who’ll also be contributing some bass to the album.

More on that record when I hear it — as in, release dates, art, info, a title, etc. — but if “Behemoth” is to be a stopgap to let their audience know Black Lung have a new offering in progress, it pretty much sets its own scale in getting the job done.

Video below, followed by more background on the band. Enjoy:

Black Lung, “Behemoth” official video

Filmed and produced by Matt Kelley
Shot at Mobtown Ballroom
Recorded and mixed by Noel Mueller
Additional filming by Julia Klinkert

In the deadly cold winter of 2014, Black Lung emerged from the underbelly of Baltimore with unprecedented volume. A union of Adam Bufano, Elias Mays Schutzman (of The Flying Eyes) and multi-instrumentalist Dave Cavalier, the trio toes the line between sonic pain and melodic bliss. With influences ranging from the raw blues of The White Stripes to the desert riffage of Queens Of The Stone Age, Black Lung seeks to create a sound that is as soulful as it is heavy.

After releasing their self-titled debut (Grimoire Records/Noisolution) and being named “Best New Band of 2014” by the Baltimore City Paper, they embarked on a three week tour of Europe in the spring of 2015, centered around their performance at the Rockpalast Crossroads Festival (filmed and recorded for German national TV). Black Lung are now headed into the studio with producer and ex-Jawbox frontman J. Robbins (The Sword, Clutch) to begin work on their second album…

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Dave Heumann Posts Video for “Here in the Deep”; Solo LP out Friday

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 14th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

dave heumann (Photo by Matt Condon)

Next month, Baltimore singer-songwriter Dave Heumann — best known as the guitarist/vocalist of fuzz-folkers Arbouretum — will embark on a tour of Europe and the UK following the release of his solo debut LP, Here in the Deep, which is out this week on Thrill Jockey. Fans of Heumann‘s main outfit will no doubt find much to dig in the solo offering’s quiet reaches, his voice resonant and wistful in a way that speaks to pop traditionalism without aping any single approach or other. The title-track of the record has a new video directed by Jay Buim, and captures the sentimentality in the heart of the song with fluid, often slowed down footage from the closing day of Druid Hill Park Swimming Pool in Baltimore, people running, jumping, doing an impressive flip or two, in an effort to soak in as much summer as humanly possible before the season ends.

The correlation to the atmosphere of the song itself, once you hear it, goes without saying, but it’s worth pointing out that while on the surface a track like “Here in the Deep” might seem like a simple or even minimal affair, it turns out to be anything but. Layers of guitar and organ intertwine, a thudding drum — a simple line, true, but still a thoughtful arrangement that suits the piece — and Heumann‘s vocals arrive with accompanying layers that speak to co-conspirators even in this solo incarnation. It is a peaceful listen, but one that has emotional presence behind it so that it’s more than an ambient setpiece or exercise in songcraft. A dreamy guitar line plays out in a patient lead that fades gradually to finish out, not so much overstaying its welcome as holding on until the very last moment.


Dave Heumann, “Here in the Deep” official video

“Here in the Deep” is from the album “Here in the Deep” by Dave Heumann (of Arbouretum), out October 16 on Thrill Jockey Records.

Directed by Jay Buim.

iTunes :

Dave Heumann tour dates:
Oct. 22 – Baltimore, MD – The Crown
Oct. 25 – Brooklyn, NY – Union Pool
Nov. 13 – Prague, Czech Republic – Divadolo Dobeska (with Chelsea Wolfe)
Nov. 15 – Leipzig, Germany – UT Connewitz (with Om)
Nov. 16 – Berlin, Germany – Magnet Club
Nov. 17 – Cologne, Germany – King Georg
Nov. 19 – Schorndorf, Germany – Club Manufaktur
Nov. 20 – Utrecht, Netherlands – Le Guess Who Festival
Nov. 21 – Oxford, UK – Audioscope Festival
Nov. 22 – London, UK – Moth Club

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Darsombra Complete “Three-Legged Monster” Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Well, I posted late last year when Baltimore’s audio/visual drone outfit Darsombra decided they were going to tour in 109 different cities throughout the US in 2015 and made that announcement public, so now that they’ve actually gone and done such a thing, it seems only fair to mark the fact that they made it through to the other side. Kudos to the band — guitarist Brian Daniloski and videographer/keyboardist/hitter-of-gong Ann Everton — on the ambitious and comprehensive run. They’re not the first act ever to play 100 shows in a year, but to my knowledge they did so without ever overlapping locale, starting out in Washington D.C. and ending in Baltimore and hitting a whole bunch of everywhere else in between Feb. and the start of this month.

What’s next? A new album, naturally. Daniloski posted the following update about their plans:

darsombra (Photo by Brandon Walker)

Hello everyone!

Well. . . we did it! Darsombra played over one hundred cities and towns in the United States and Canada this year (111 to be exact). From eating sapote in Miami to drinking kombucha in Asheville; from bathing in a park fountain in New Orleans to watching unexplained phenomena in Marfa, Texas; from meditating at a monastery in northern California to blazing our way across the salt flats of Utah; from cutting hair in a park in Queens, to cooking breakfast with the mountains in Yellowstone; from jamming in a cave in Rapid City to playing in a storage unit in Memphis. . . we have had an incredible, expansive, transformative journey absorbing so much of what the lower 48 (plus Montreal and Toronto!) has to offer.

So what’s next for Darsombra? Are we going to tour as extensively next year? We plan on finishing a new album, with new video work. . . and then who knows? We are open to opportunities. So if you want us, let us know! We will come to you.

Much love and gratitude to all!

Darsombra, Climax Community (2012)

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