R.I.P. Jokke Stenby of Brutus

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Norwegian heavy boogie rockers Brutus have announced the passing of frontman Joakim Segerfelt Stenby. Known as Jokke to the band and friends, Stenby suffered heart failure this past week and died in his sleep, a sudden loss that is all the more striking for the vitality he brought to his band’s stage presence. Brutus released three albums with Stenby as singer, a 2010 self-titled on Transubstans, and 2013’s Behind the Mountains and 2016’s Wandering Blind, both on Svart, toured and performed at festivals too numerous to name, among them Roadburn, Desertfest, Freak Valley, and so on.

I can’t claim to have known him personally, but on behalf of this site and myself, condolences to his family, friends and of course bandmates. I was fortunate enough to catch Brutus headlining the crypt stage at last year’s Høstsabbat in Oslo, and even never having seen them live before, it was obvious to me the weight of that occasion. They handled that room like the hometown heroes they were, a band long past basement shows playing a basement show. That entire room moved, and it was awesome. The personality Stenby — beer cup in hand, skillfully unspilled — brought to his performance and to the group as a whole was unmistakable in the spirit of a classic frontman. Their party would have been impossible to ignore, even if you’d wanted to do so. And you didn’t.

Of course, there is no word on what the future of Brutus is if there is one. When/if I hear something, I’ll post accordingly.

Rest in peace, Joakim Stenby.

The band’s announcement follows:

brutus jokke (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s with a very heavy heart and tearful eyes we announce that our beloved brother, frontman, entertainer and the voice of Brutus, Jokke has left this world. Cursed with a heart failure, he went to sleep and never woke up again.

The news of his departure hit us like a bomb, and left us all heartbroken. The loss of a bandmate, brother and best friend is beyond words. Joakim was a beautiful person, with so much to share… music was his passion, being on stage singing, recording for hours and hours just to get it right, sitting in a van for days, or just sharing a beer and playing records with his friends!

All our thoughts and love goes to Jenny, Joakim’s wife and love in life, and his family in this time of despair and darkness.

We love you so much brother!! We hope you are in good place, rocking out with your kraut-heroes, and that we will see you again someday on the other side. You will never be forgotten!

R.I.P. brother

Kim
Christian
Johan
Knut-ole

Brutus, “Drowning” official video

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SubRosa Announce Breakup (For Now) and Many New Projects

Posted in Features on May 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Even with the many ongoing projects featuring the members as detailed below, SubRosa will be missed. The band announced their breakup with the expected level of honesty, going so far as to include a parenthetical “for now,” leaving open the possibility of doing something again in the future. They go out having released the best album of 2017 in For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), which serves as their final studio outing, and the 2018 live album, SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 (review here), which I have absolutely zero hesitation in dubbing one of the most powerful live performances I’ve ever witnessed. About 20 minutes ago, putting my son to bed, I sang him “The Mirror,” as I do every day.

That bit of personal affinity aside, SubRosa were legitimately a band pushing post-metal to places it hadn’t been, representative of a varied, passion-driven creative force that set a standard few could match. If this is it and they never do anything else, it’s a genuine loss. And if they come back at some point — any point, really, whenever — they’ll be welcome. For now, I’ll put on the last record and be glad to have seen the band when I did.

Here’s their announcement, as just posted on the social medias:

subrosa

To all of our beautiful, supportive fans and friends,

After a magical 13-year run, SubRosa is calling it quits (for now). Rebecca decided she wanted to focus on her solo project, The Keening, and Kim, Sarah, Levi and Andy have all been able to focus their creative energies on other musical ventures. We would never have experienced our dreams as reality without you, and we cannot thank you enough. Rather than despairing over what is lost, we want to continue this journey with you. We are all on fire right now writing new music:

• Kim and her partner are soon releasing their noise/doom/electro-magma love child into the world as Teleprom.

Bandcamp: https://teleprom.bandcamp.com/releases

• Andy is about to put out a new record with his 2-piece Bass and Drums band DØNE.

Bandcamp: https://donebandmusic.bandcamp.com/

• Sarah and Zachary Livingston from Minsk are releasing the first Asphodel Wine album “Slowdance Macabre” – a dynamic sonic narrative of love, passion, fire and the perils of consciousness – early next year, and are already writing their second album.

Instagram: @asphodelwine
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asphodelwine/

• Rebecca has started writing music for her solo project The Keening.

Instagram: @thekeeningmusic
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thekeeningmusic/

• And last but not least, Andy, Kim, Levi, and Sarah are writing an album that is heavier than a truckload of lead bricks. Our band is unnamed as of this announcement, but we will keep you posted on that.

If you ever came to a SubRosa show, listened to a song, gave us a place to crash, booked a show, promoted our music, or worked with us in any way, you were part of our dream. In particular, we’d like to thank our label owners and booking agents: Chris Bruni, Nathan Carson, Nanouk de Meijere and Ola Blomkvist, for supporting us continually through the years.

We love you.

SubRosa, For This We Fought the Battle of Ages (2016)

SubRosa website

SubRosa on Bandcamp

SubRosa on Instagram

SubRosa on Thee Facebooks

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R.I.P. Carlos Denogean of Weedeater

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

weedeater carlos denogean

North Carolinian sludge stalwarts Weedeater mourn the loss of one of their own with the passing this weekend of drummer Carlos Denogean. The trio toured this past summer starting in June at Maryland Doom Fest 2018 and performed earlier this month at Psycho Las Vegas. At this time, the cause of death has not been made public, but bassist/vocalist “Dixie” Dave Collins and guitarist Dave “Shep” Shepherd posted a statement on social media to note Denogean’s passing and ask for privacy.

Hi everyone,

There is no easy way to say this. Our dear friend and bandmate Carlos Denogean passed away yesterday. It is with a heavy heart and intense sadness that we bring you this unfortunate news. He left this world far too soon and will be missed immensely by all of us. Anyone that knew Carlos was enamored by his kindness and his warm personality. He was an incredibly talented musician and a real joy to be around. He brought something truly special to the band and we all loved working with him. We simply cannot express how devastated we are by this loss. We don’t know any details at this time and we ask that you please leave us to grieve now along with Carlos’ family. Thank you for all of your kind wishes. Cherish what you have while you have it.

– Weedeater

Having been fortunate enough to see Denogean play in Maryland at the start of Weedeater’s June/July tour, he was an energetic performer who brought character and swing to Weedeater’s established material while playing with a sense of personality that fit well with the long-established chemistry of Collins and Shepherd. Condolences on behalf of this site and myself to Denogean’s family, friends and bandmates in this difficult time. Weedeater have not posted any word about their future plans, and neither would one expect them to so close to this loss.

They were in Europe earlier this spring for appearances at Roadburn and Desertfest in London and Berlin, and were slated to appear in October at Slaughter-Que in Atlanta, Georgia.

Weedeater’s latest album, which preceded Denogean’s arrival to the band, was Goliathan, released in 2015 on Season of Mist.

https://www.facebook.com/weedmetal/
https://weedeater.bandcamp.com/album/goliathan
https://www.twitter.com/seasonofmist
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial
http://www.season-of-mist.com/

Weedeater, Live at Psycho Las Vegas, Aug. 17, 2018

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Lord Announce Breakup and Confirm Final Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Well that’s a fucking bummer. And kind of unexpected, to be perfectly honest. Long-ish running Virginian sludge-thrash chaosbringers Lord have announced they’re calling it a day. Their breakup, effective Aug. 4 when they play their final show in Baltimore, comes just weeks ahead of the slated Aug. 24 release for their new album, Desperation Finds Hunger in All Men (review here), which for my money is their best record to-date — a sprawling 66-minutes of carbonized riffing and intense emotional and sonic weight, it seemed if nothing else to be the work of a band who still had a lot to say. Apparently it was their way of laying it all out on the table one last time.

Over the course of their 11 years, Lord went through copious lineup changes. Watching a changing scene around them that went from producing the likes of VOG and Ol’ Scratch to the likes of Foehammer, I wouldn’t exactly call Lord a steady presence — it could be years between releases, and each one seemed to feature different players around guitarist Will Rivera — but they were nonetheless reliable when it came to producing work of individualized assault, sometimes an extreme vision of Southern metal, other times a visceral grind, other times still a style unto themselves.

It’s been more than half a decade since I saw them live, and I won’t get to catch either of their last shows — July 28 in West Virginia, Aug. 4 in Baltimore, Maryland — so I’ll just say I’m sorry to see them go. No matter who was involved with a given outing, Lord never failed to put everything they had — mind, body, soul — into what they did, and for that alone, never mind the actual quality of their output, they’ll be deeply missed.

Rivera talks about the breakup in the thee-social-medias post below, and says no reunion, but you never really know, especially with a band who made a habit of being so unpredictable. In the meantime, he’s got a new album coming with his solo-project Absent Sky reportedly this Fall on Heavy Hound Records, so one will keep an eye out for that.

But yeah, thanks Lord. You guys were a way, way better band than people knew.

Here’s that post:

lord

After 13 years,LORD will be playing its final show on Aug. 4th in Baltimore. We have decided to disband in the wake of my decision to leave the band and the others not feeling comfortable with the idea on continuing under the same name without the sole remaining original member and co-founder.

My decision to leave is something that I’ve been wrestling with for at least 6 months now and it finally became clear to me when a series of transitional events happened in my life that have refocused my priorities and made me wanna take advantage of the time and opportunities that have come my way. I feel that what we’ve accomplished on our final release, Desperation Finds Hunger In All Men, is the culmination of years of hard work and an excellent way to cap off LORD’s legacy.

I’ve never been one to go through the motions and always give a 100% into anything I’m involved in but I feel that my heart is no longer in it and that this creative collaboration has run its course. I know there will be some who will be disappointed and may not understand why I’d choose to leave now but I have to do what is right for me and what brings me joy.

I wanna take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support, it means the world to me that anyone would care. I also wanna thank all members of LORD, former and current, for their time and effort: Steven Kerchner, Todd Wuehrmann, Chris Dugay, Tommy Emanuel, Tony Petrocelly, Stephen Sullivan, Rob Gouldman, Andy Murray, Mike Meeks, Jesse Hottle and Helena Goldberg. The other members will be moving on to other projects and I will be focusing on Absent Sky, Hopekiller and a few other projects that are currently in the works.

Make sure to come out to our final shows on July 28th in Martinsburg, WVa and Aug. 4th in Baltimore. There won’t be any reunion shows so if you have had any intention in catching this band, it’s your last chance! Keep an eye out for Desperation Finds Hunger In All Men on Aug 24th as we’ll continue promoting the album on Facebook, Instagram and Bandcamp. Cheers and love to you all, thanks for your time… Will

Lord final lineup:
Steven F. Kerchner II – Vocals, Noise, Percussion
Will Rivera – Guitar
Todd Wuehrmann – Guitar
Chris Dugay – Bass
Tony Petrocelly – Drums

Lord on Thee Facebooks

Lord on Bandcamp

Heavy Hound Records on Instagram

Heavy Hound Records on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Hound Records website

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Grifter Announce Breakup via Monty Python Reference

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Not too long ago I was thinking UK heavy rockers Grifter were about due for a new album. So much for that. Instead, the three-piece have decided to call it a day after a run that began in 2003. Their last release was 2016’s Gorilla vs. Grifter split (review here) via HeviSike Records, and their two prior full-lengths, 2014’s The Return of the Bearded Brethren (review here) and their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), were both issued through Ripple. I felt fortunate to see them at Desertfest London in 2012 and always found their songs had charm, whatever pop culture reference they happened to be making at the time.

As such, it’s only fitting they go out with Monty Python’s parrot sketch. They had a good run, left some songs in the can that, hey, maybe someone will press up at some point, and don’t seem to have any great amount of animosity toward each other, at least going by the below. They were kind enough to basically do their own exit interview. Here it is as they posted on the social medias:

grifter

Time Gentlemen please!

Without so much as a bang as a whimper we have to announce that Grifter is done. Like the proverbial Norwegian Blue it is no more, it has run up the curtain to join the choir invisible, it is an ex band.

The not at all F.A.Qs

What happened?

Nothing…literally! We played a couple of gigs in October with a view to jamming again…etc then…nothing, we literally stopped playing. You can cite a loss of interest, changing musical interests, other time/family commitments, running its course…but it just stopped happening. 14 years is plenty!

Will there be a farewell show?

Nope. We tried to break up 2 years ago and in rehearsing for a final show got sucked into carrying on. Once bitten twice shy as they say.

Will there be a final release?

There are songs recorded last year but the reality is probably no-one can be arsed to put them out so it’s highly unlikely.

Will there ever be a reunion?

Never say never but we’ve only just disbanded and we didn’t do that with a plan to get back together…and really, would anyone actually be interested anyway?

Can I still buy merch?

Yeah the store is still open for now as we have some vinyl and CDs still up for grabs.

Will there be any new music from any of the brethren?

It is already happening.

Who and what?

You will be told at the appropriate time…soon.

Will it sound like Grifter?

No. If the plan was to sound like Grifter, we wouldn’t have split up Grifter!

When will we hear the new band and when will they play ****** (insert town here)?

When the time is right

Grifter was:
Ollie – Vocals/Guitar
Phil – Bass
Foz – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/GRIFTERROCK/
https://grifterrock.bandcamp.com/
http://grifter.bigcartel.com/
http://www.grifterrock.co.uk/

Grifter, Gorilla vs. Grifter (2016)

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The Midnight Ghost Train Calling it Quits; Final Shows Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

This was a special band. If you ever saw them live, you know what I’m talking about. The first time I saw them, I was drunk as a skunk in a Bayonne, New Jersey, firemen’s hall or VFW or whatever it was. They were playing with a buddy’s band called L.O.M.F., and they took the stage, did “John the Revelator,” and blew my addled mind. This had to be around 2008, because I’m pretty sure that’s where I picked up their The Johnny Boy EP (review here). Over the next several years, I’d come to find out that the raucous kicking of such ass was just kind of how it went for The Midnight Ghost Train. Standard procedure.

Fronted by the gravely-voiced Steve Moss, The Midnight Ghost Train would go on to tour the world and release four full-lengths: a 2009 self-titled debut (review here), 2012’s Buffalo (review here), 2015’s Cold was the Ground (review here) and 2017’s Cypress Ave. (review here). With Moss and drummer Brandon Burghart joined by a succession of bassists — Mike Boyne was the last of them and an excellent fit in the band — each record was a step forward from the last, and they never put out the same album twice. As much as their reputation rested on their live delivery, and rightly so for the madness that ensued on stage and the electrifying nature of Moss’ player-persona, they could always be counted on to showcase thoughtful creative progression in their songwriting as well.

I could go on, but the point is I’ve covered The Midnight Ghost Train for a decade. Saw them open for Truckfighters in Philly and stood close enough to the stage to get hit by Moss’ hair as he headbanged. Watched them through the door at Roadburn Festival because the room was too packed to get in. I never saw them give less than their everything on stage. Never. And while I’m glad they drop the hint that they might return at some point in the future, and while I wish them luck in whatever endeavors they might undertake, I hope they do take a few years’ break and come back stronger than ever, I’m even gladder I’ll get to see what seems to be their final performance at Maryland Doom Fest 2018 this June.

As they’d also been confirmed for Electric Funeral Fest III in Denver on June 29, I’m not entirely sure what’s happening there, but in the band’s farewell message, they list three shows, and MDDF is the last one. Here’s that note from the band, who will be missed:

the midnight ghost train

IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO ALL FANS:
It is with a heavy heart that we announce to you that The Midnight Ghost Train is hanging it up and saying goodbye. Our personal family lives have become more important to us than being on the road. We feel content and successful in what we have built in the past ten years, our amazing dedicated fan base being our greatest achievement. We respect our fans and our music, so we’ve decided it is time to say goodbye.

We will be finishing our career as The Midnight Ghost Train with three final shows. So if you want to see us perform one last time giving you every piece of our soul that’s left, here are your chances:

June 22-Topeka, KS @ J&Js Gallery
June 23- Newport, KY @ SGHR
With our final show being
June 24- @ The Maryland Doom Festival

Maybe we will come back some day down the road, and storm back to the stage better than ever, but at this time that plan is not in place for the distant future. Right now we want to focus on our family lives, and continue on with our other dreams and aspirations.

Once again, thank you to all of our devoted fans for helping us achieve our dreams. Every one of you holds a special place in our hearts. We hope that we have given you the same love that you have given us.

www.facebook.com/themidnightghosttrain
www.themidnightghosttrain.com
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

The Midnight Ghost Train, “Tonight” official video

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Truckfighters Announce “Long, Long” Indefinite Hiatus

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Bummer news out of Sweden in that Örebro-based fuzz forerunners Truckfighters have decided at least for now. The band, helmed by the core founding duo of Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm and Niklas “Dango” Källgren, have spent the last decade-plus touring Europe and beyond, acting as a pioneering act proving that indeed there’s an appetite in the North American market for European heavy rock. Their latest album, V (review here), was the first in a licensing alliance between their own Fuzzorama Records imprint and Century Media. It may well be their last.

Hard to say what the ultimate impact of Truckfighters‘ work will have been — Cedermalm and Källgren working with a succession of drummers including Oscar “Pezo” Johansson, who was featured in the 2012 band-doc Fuzzomentary (review here) and would go on to do a stint in Witchcraft  — because, frankly, it’s still shaking out. Truckfighers made their debut in 2005 with Gravity X (discussed here), and between that and their ultra-well-earned reputation for on-stage calisthenics as captured on the 2016 live album Live in London (review here), delivering flawless sets while headbanging, jumping up and down — Dango could get some air — and generally physically engaging with their audience and their music itself, their influence continues to spread not only throughout Sweden, but greater Europe and the US as well. A new generation of fuzz rockers might have come along one way the other, but there’s no question its shape would be much different without Truckfighters spending the better art of the last decade on the road so actively kicking ass.

Truckfighters‘s studio work also became increasingly progressive over their five albums, Gravity X and it 2007 follow-up, Phi, signaling just the beginning of a sonic expansion that would continue steadily through 2oo9’s excellent Mania (review here), 2014’s Universe (review here), and of course V itself, which earned the band some controversy surrounding their video for “Calm Before the Storm” (posted here). That notwithstanding, V had a generally melancholic vibe in some of its tracks that left one wondering how the band would meld that with their high-energy stage presentation. As I was fortunate enough to find out for myself late in 2016 on seeing the band play in Oslo, they simply did it and it worked. I guess having more than 10 years under your belt lets you do that kind of thing and pretty much anything else you want when you’re actually just a really good band.

They pushed their sound pretty far with V, but it’s still a bummer to lose Truckfighters even for what they’re calling a “long, long” indefinite hiatus. Never say never in rock and roll — one doesn’t even have to leave Örebro to find Graveyard as an example of a band-breakup that simply didn’t stick — but if they are done, they went out on their own terms having delivered top quality performances both in the studio and on stage, and achieved worldwide notoriety and influence as a result. Frankly, that’s more than most get, when it comes right down to it. Still, they’ll be missed.

All the best to Cedermalm and Källgren going forward. Here’s their announcement from the social medias:

truckfighters

Sad news for some, but totally necessary. Truckfighters is on a long, long hiatus. Might come back stronger than ever (that’s the only way) or not at all! We’ve been releasing many albums that we’re very proud of and the key is that we’ve always played because of the pure fun out of it. That’s the only thing that counts and in the end made us do what we did so good for so many years… We’re not that kind of band continuing doing something just because we make money out of it ;)

A big THANK YOU to all the amazing fans and people we’ve meet over the years, some more amazing that others but you all deserve a big hug.

Fuzz n’ out!

http://www.truckfighters.com
https://www.facebook.com/truckfighters
https://twitter.com/truckfighters
https://www.youtube.com/user/TruckfightersTV
http://www.centurymedia.com/

Truckfighters, Live in London

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

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

iron man (photo by JJ Koczan)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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