Stop me if I’ve said this before, but Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2017 has be as close to an absolute no-brainer as I’ve ever seen in terms of attendance. I mean, so you’re gonna go out to the woods and listen to a bunch of meticulously curated doom and folk and black metal and psych for a weekend, camp out and top the whole thing off with a Panopticon set under starlight? Jesus. How much more could you really ask of a live event than that?
Cheers to Mary Spiro on a job incredibly done with this lineup. I don’t even know what else to say about it other than it’s pretty unreal and there’s nothing else like it happening that I know of in the US or maybe even anywhere else. Seriously. Who’s pulling bands from both coasts and Europe across genres like this for an outdoor event the vibe of which you can already feel just from the press release? Who’s got Castle on the same bill with West Virginian folk black metal?
It’s not all my bag, but I tip my hat:
Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2017 – Official Lineup Announcement
SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST, the Mid-Atlantic’s only open-air camping heavy metal gathering, is pleased to announce the complete lineup for the 2017 festival, which runs from Thursday, September 14th through Sunday, September 17th at White Hall, Maryland’s Camp Hidden Valley. For the third year, the festival will host 39 of the undergrounds leading bands, representing all genres and subgenres of heavy metal.
Over three days, the four stages of SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST will come to life inside the woodsy landscape of Camp Hidden Valley. “Every year has been special, but I am just particularly stoked about what we have curated”, says Mary Spiro, organizer of Shadow Woods Productions LLC. “I am extremely honored to present the lineup this year because I think it reflects the best of the underground metal scene as well as some of the personal favorites of the festival organizers. Several of these bands, I have been trying to host at the fest since the first year and I am happy to finally have them play.”
Beginning on Thursday night, the Pavilion stage will light up and set the tone to the weekend with all-acoustic and intimate performances with Texas dark-folk maudit AMIGO THE DEVIL, Portland’s dark-folk soloist AERIAL RUIN and West Virginia’s Appalachian folk duo, NECHOCHWEN. Friday includes exclusive performances by Oregon’s haunting black metal band UADA and Georgia’s tortured blackened death quartet WITHERED.
On Saturday, as darkness falls over the Woodland Stage, atmospheric blackened folk giants PANTOPICON will play an exclusive, 70-minute set under the backdrop of the stars. Brooklyn black metal titans WOE, Rhode Island sludgy-doom foursome CHURCHBURN, mysterious blackened grind band DEAD IN THE MANGER (one of two east coast shows), and San Francisco extreme death quintet VASTUM (one of two east coast shows), will all deliver exclusive performances to SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST.
SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST is proud to be sponsored this year by Moxie Bookkeeping and Tridroid Records and to receive promotional support from Grime Studios, Leftover Pizza Productions, and Perfect World Productions.
SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST 2017 Complete Lineup (in alpha order): Aerial Ruin – Portland, OR (Ritual folk) All Hell – Asheville, NC (Crusty black metal) Amigo the Devil – Spicewood, TX (Dark folk) ** Bearstorm – Richmond, VA (Blackened southern death-prog) Black Table – NY/NJ (Progressive black metal) Castle – San Francisco, CA (Heavy doom metal) Churchburn – Pawtucket, RI (Blackened sludge) ** Cut the Architect’s Hand – Richmond, VA (Death metal) Dark Water Transit – Baltimore, MD (Instrumental heavy rock) Dead in the Manger – coast to coast – (Blackened grind) ** Dee Calhoun – Frederick, MD (Acoustic; vocalist of Iron Man) Earthling – Richmond, VA (Thrash metal) Elagabalus – Baltimore, MD (Experimental metal 2-piece) Erlkonig – Baltimore, MD (Blackened death metal) Fiakra – Freehold, NJ (LARPower metal) Foehammer – Annandale, VA (Sludge) Green Elder/Paul Ravenwood – Johnson City, TN – (Nature folk) Heavy Temple – Philadelphia, PA (Psychedelic-doomed rock) Hexis – Copenhagen, Denmark (Hardcore/black metal) Human Bodies – Boston, MA (Crusty blackened hardcore) Immaculate Deception – Baltimore, MD (Death metal) Infera Bruo – Boston, MA (Black metal) Kyoty – Dover, NH – (Instrumental post metal) Mome – Portland, ME (Power psych rock) Nechochwen “unplugged” – Wheeling, WV (Appalachian acoustic folk metal) ** Night Raids – Philadelphia, PA (Thrash/grind) Panopticon – KY/MN (Black folk metal) ** Percussor – PA/DE (Old school death metal) Seasick Gladiator – Washington, DC (Experimental doom prog) Sloth Herder – PA/VA/MD (Sludge grind) Take to the Woods/Jo Cosgrove – Baltimore, MD (Dark folk) The Owls Are Not What They Seem – York, PA (Ritual noise) Toke – Cape Fear, NC (Stoner doom) Uada – Portland, OR (Black metal) ** Vastum – San Francisco, CA (Death metal) ** Withered -Atlanta, GA (Black/death metal) ** Woe – Brooklyn, NY (Black metal) ** Worthless- NY/NJ (Black metal) ** ZUD – Portland, ME (Black and blues metal) ** EXCLUSIVE PERFORMANCES
SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST DETAILS Location: Camp Hidden Valley White Hall, Maryland
Ticket Link: http://shadowwoodsmetalfest2017.bpt.me Price: $175 Full weekend package (Thursday evening-Sunday morning) including all musical events and camping Cabins: $20 bed (shared cabin)
Shadow Woods Metal Fest is 21+ Food & beverage vendors: Various food, beverage, and alcohol vendors will be on site with both vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore selections. No outside alcohol is permitted. Marketplace vendors: Multiple record labels, distros, and artisans will be located in the Hall. For more information on becoming a vendor, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
PROMOTIONAL ARTWORK: Brian Sheehan PROMOTIONAL VIDEO: Mary Spiro
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
True to what’s been their mission all along, the lineup thus far unveiled for Shadow Woods Metal Fest 3 offers diversity, extremity of various stripes, and an immediate sense of vibe that feels once again perfectly suited to its outdoor, campground setting in White Hall, Maryland. From Aerial Ruin‘s dark folk to the deathly push of Percussor, to the New England psychedelia of MoMe — previously unknown to me, which seems like dereliction of duty on my part — and beyond with familiar faces like Virginian doomcrushers Foehammer, an acoustic set from Dee Calhoun of Iron Man, North Carolinian sludgers Toke and Philadelphia’s Heavy Temple, it’s got enough intrigue even among the names already announced to have one checking the calendar, and as earlybird tickets go on sale today, they’re only likely to build from here. Kudos, as ever, to Mary Spiro on putting it together.
What info is out is below, as well as the link to where you can get your tickets. If you can do that, you probably should:
Shadow Woods Metal Fest 3
September 14 – September 17
Camp Hidden Valley
White Hall, Maryland 21611
The best weekend of your life is back for a third year with an even more diverse lineup than ever. Nearly 40 bands over three days of camping in the woods. See below for important details!
Schedule: Several acoustic sets on Thursday evening in the Pavilion only. Full production with three alternating stages Friday and Saturday only from noon til approximately midnight each night. No performances on Sunday (as per usual).
BANDS ANNOUNCED SO FAR (MORE TBA) Aerial Ruin – Portland, OR (ritual folk) Amigo the Devil – Spicewood, TX (murderfolk; TWO EXCLUSIVE and DIFFERENT SETS). Castle (San Francisco) Dee Calhoun (Frederick, MD) Bearstorm – Richmond, VA (blackened southern deathprog) Black Table (NY/NJ) Elagabalus – Baltimore, MD (experimental metal 2-piece) Foehammer (Northern Virginia) Green Elder /Paul Ravenwood (Johnson City, TN) Heavy Temple (Philadelphia) Hexis (Copenhagen, Denmark) Human Bodies (Boston) blacked hardcore Mome (Portland, ME) psych rock Panopticon – exclusive performance (KY/MN) Percussor – Philadelphia/Wilmington (old school death metal) Seasick Gladiator – Washington, DC (experimental doom prog) The Owls Are Not What They Seem (York, PA) Toke (Cape Fear, NC) Vastum – one of two East Coast performances (San Francisco) ZUD – black and blues rock and roll (Portland, ME)
IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER: ** Earlybird tickets (which are full Thursday – Sunday passes at a discount over the regular price and include non reserved camping) go on sale at Noon Friday, Feb 17. ** There are NO RESERVED CAMPING AREAS; it is camp where you may in designated areas. ** Cabin bed tickets will be on sale FRIDAY. (The cabins are NOT private; they are bunkhouse summer camp style.) ** We remain at our previous location in White Hall, MD. ** An updated FAQ will appear soon on our website. www.shadowwoodsmetalfest.com ** Once you buy your ticket you will be able to join a private SWMF FB group. READ THE EMAIL THAT CONFIRMS YOUR TICKET PURCHASE FOR DETAILS. ** You may choose how your tickets are delivered to you: WILL CALL (name at the door only); print at home; or physical tickets that will be mailed to you. ** THE EVENT IS 21 and up! ** The event is NOT BYOB. Do not bring outside alcohol. Beer and wine will be for sale. ** Food vendors will be on site ** Marketplace vendors will be in the HALL as usual. If you are interested in vending email Shadow.Woods.LLC@gmail.com with information and links about what you want to sell. ** Thursday night (Sept 14) will feature an acoustic only stage where several groups will perform in an intimate setting. ** On Friday and Saturday (September 15 and 16), the fest will be in full production with three stages running from noon to midnight each day. ** There are NO BANDS on Sunday. That’s the day you pack up and go home.
The car died as I pulled it into the spot outside Cafe 611, and it was abundantly clear it would not start again sans professional assistance. Oh, and it’s The Patient Mrs.‘ car. So there’s that.
That puts the tally of busted shit at: my feet (I’ve been wearing a supportive boot cast all weekend, not sure if I’ve mentioned that yet), my camera, and my wife’s car. Maryland Doom Fest 2016, you have thoroughly kicked my ass.
None of that is the fest’s fault, of course. After an awesome two and a half weeks, I was due a couple hits, and if anything, yesterday, the third and final day of the festival with another 11 bands on the bill starting at 3PM, it was the music that kept my head up while I was flipping out about things like waiting for tow trucks, The Patient Mrs. never picking up her phone, how the fuck I’m going to get back to Massachusetts with a dead car so I can start my new job on Tuesday, and so on. I’m thankful for that. Not sure I’d have made it through the afternoon otherwise without spontaneously combusting.
Time to wrap this thing up. If you’ve checked out the reviews of night one or night two, thanks, and thanks for reading this one too.
One more time, hello Frederick:
I’ll admit it was somewhat strange to watch Bert Hall on stage holding a guitar. The longtime Maryland doomer has played bass through the years in Revelation and Against Nature and now is also handling thick strings and fuzzy-hat for Beelzefuzz, but in Mangog it’s guitar and backing vocals to complement those of Myke Wells. Completed by drummer Mike Rix (ex-Iron Man) and bassist Darby Cox, the four-piece announced this week that they’d signed to Argonauta Records for the early 2017 release of their debut album. Presumably most of what they played, whether it was “God” or “Into Infamy” or “Meld,” comes from that record, but they also played two of the three cuts — “Ab Intra” and the title-track — from their 2015 debut EP, Daydreams Within Nightmares. The band played their first show at Maryland Doom Fest last year, and are still finding themselves as a unit, but seemed to be on the right track with their aggressive blend of doom and metal. Wells was also the first frontman to stand on the P.A. speakers in front of the stage, so points there as well.
The first, but not the last. Bassist/vocalist Blake Dellinger of Flummox, in checked leotard regalia and with one eye blacked out, also got on that speaker, in addition to thrashing around just about everywhere else on the Cafe 611 stage as he, guitarist Drew Jones, and drummer/vocalist Jody Lester tore into their raucous stoner thrash, which it’s easy to imagine has been a highlight of the last couple years at house shows in their native Murfreesboro, Tennessee, as well as other haunts around the South lucky enough to book the band. Youth was on their side, sure, but they still delivered one of the weekend’s most energetic sets, and had the chemistry between them to stand up to the force of their delivery. They’re also reportedly responsible for the Tennessean Sludge Fest, which this August features Place of Skulls, Doomstress, Shroud Eater and Order of the Owl, among many others, so clearly doing good work on multiple levels.
Hailing from my beloved Garden State, sludge torquemongers DopeRider proffered massive tones offset by a couple stretches of ambience, putting them in league with the likes of Connecticut’s Sea of Bones or any number of crushers in the post-YOB sphere, and that is a compliment as far as I’m concerned. Their slow-churning, growling, thudding lumber wasn’t the first bout of extremity the weekend had seen — one still recalls Philly’s Black Urn starting off Friday — but it did speak to the expanding definition of what Maryland Doom Fest might continue to encompass. Uniformly brutal in their approach, DopeRider — who released a debut demo last year with the tracks “Drugged up Demonoid” (15:09) and “Fractal Resin” (6:07) — were thankful to the crowd, guitarist/vocalist MP saying that there wasn’t much like this in Jersey. I know from personal experience that’s 100 percent true, but little doubt DopeRider would’ve stood out on the bill whatever the context. Will keep an eye out for what they do next.
I’ll admit that for a decent portion of D.C. residents Seasick Gladiator‘s set, I was outside dealing with the tow truck driver from AAA. Actually he was the second, past the one who tried to jump the car to no avail, so yeah, it took a minute. What I saw of the instrumental outfit offered metallic doom marked out through the use of violin, adding a sense of drama to the material as strings invariably will. They had some progressive edge that didn’t necessarily feel showy or overly self-righteous, and from what I heard sounded pretty fluid. Meanwhile, outside, the car still refused to start — battery? alternator? — and had to be dragged onto the back of the flatbed and hauled off to some local garage. A genuine what the fuck moment, but like I said, the music kept me going. Somehow I doubt it will be the last opportunity to catch Seasick Gladiator, and from the glimpses I got and from watching the end of their set after the truck drove away, their appeal came through even despite distraction.
I’ll never pretend to even feign impartiality about any band Joe Wood is playing in. Aside from being a former bandmate, the Borgo Pass and Eternal Black drummer is among the nicest, most sincere individuals I’ve ever met — King of the Dudes — and whether he’s behind the kit or in the crowd, any day I get to see Joe is a good day, including this one. He is not, however, all that Eternal Black have working in their favor. Atop rolling The Obsessed-style riffs, the NY three-piece with Wood, guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob and bassist Hal Miller, fit right in with the sphere of Maryland doom but had more than a touch of Northeastern intensity to their approach as well, particularly from Wohlrob‘s vocals. The same was true of their first demo (review here), which was released last year, but they had a host of new songs in the set — “Snake Oil and Coffin Nails” was a highlight, along with “Sea of Graves” — and announced plans to record this summer/fall for a debut full-length, which will be one to anticipate. Granted NYC is four to five hours from where I live depending on traffic, but I still felt I probably should’ve seen Eternal Black by now. Glad I got to in such a setting.
North Carolina’s Toke were the only band of the weekend to bring their own lights, and their focus on presentation likewise extended to how they carried themselves on stage, each of the three members putting his full body into the groove of their hard-hit, swinging riffs, seeming way more influenced by Sleep live than on their 2014 demo, High Friends in Low Places (review here), but still marked out on the harsher end of sludge by the vocals, which were on the more searing end of screams. Comprised of Tim, Bronco and Jeremy, they reminded some of Elder‘s Matt Couto in the drumming style, but were on an entirely different trip sonically, and for a band who doesn’t yet have an album out, they had steady command over the stage, the room, and their consuming tonal largesse. Very obviously a band who’s done some road time — they played Denver Electric Funeral Fest earlier this month — and one who’ve dug in hard to their practice space. They were high among the most pleasant surprises at Maryland Doom Fest 2016, all three days.
Foghound were not a surprise, true, but they were a joy to watch all the same. The Baltimore heavy rock kingpins are on the cusp of releasing their second album, The World Unseen (review forthcoming), on Ripple Music, and they absolutely blew me away last fall at Vultures of Volume II (review here), also in Maryland, but to hear those songs now and know them better, whether it’s the ultra-catchy “Rockin’ and Rollin'” or “Message in the Sky,” “Never Return,” “Above the Wake,” “Serpentine,” etc., was an entirely different experience, drummer Chuck Dukehart III and guitarists Bob Sipes and Dee Settar sharing vocal duties while bassist Jim Forrester held down the low end. Playing a set entirely comprised of new material only emphasized how far beyond 2013’s Quick, Dirty and High (review here) they’re ready to be, and like last time I was fortunate enough to catch them, they were air-tight musically, varied in the vocal arrangements and executed their set on a foundation of strong, waiting to be noticed songwriting. I know it kicks ass, but I’m eager to find out how The World Unseen catches on with listeners once it’s out, as I’m sure the band is as well.
Like Foghound before them (and several others), Delaware’s Wasted Theory brought a sampling of their next outing, which is set to be recorded this fall, reportedly, for a 2017 release. I was talking the other night to guitarist/vocalist Larry Jackson, Jr., about the next Wasted Theory and he asked what I’d want to hear on it. Basically what I’d be looking for is a step forward from 2014’s Death and Taxes (review here). I’d want to hear that the band — Jackson, guitarist Dave McMahon, bassist Rob Michael and drummer Brendan Burns — was pushing itself in terms of melody and songcraft. Hard to judge from one live airing, but they seemed to be headed in that direction, bringing a more aggressive edge to some of the Southern groove that on the last album was such a huge part of their take. They still had a definite update-the-’70s classic heavy rock vibe, and Jackson‘s gravely vocals added burl as ever, but that progression that one might hope to hear in their sound came through at Cafe 611. They still have to record the next LP, but hopefully it follows suit when it arrives.
I’ve seen dark Virginian rockers King Giant a handful of times now — three or four, maybe, most recently at the aforementioned Vultures of Volume II (review here) — and their sheer have-their-shit-together factor remains hugely impressive. Dudes know exactly what they want their songs to do, where they want to put that Todd Ingram solo, what the verse is moving toward, etc. Vocalist Dave Hammerly had two mics setup with various kinds of compression, and the double-guitar five-piece proceeded to do their thing, which is to offer up grooving slabs of moody Southern heavy, bordering on metal in their attitude but really more about atmosphere than aggression, or at least about toying with that balance. “Requiem for a Drunkard” from 2015’s Black Ocean Waves (review here) was a high point sonically if a particularly downer vibe, but really, King Giant are in league with the safer bets you might make when it comes to quality of craft and performance in their style. It’s not always what I’m looking for stylistically, but for as much as King Giant put into their band, it’s impossible not to respect them.
Karma to Burn
Kind of hard to believe it’s been nearly five years since the last time I saw Karma to Burn. Night and day. With the lineup of founding guitarist Will Mecum, bassist Eric Clutter and drummer Evan Devine the West Virginian instrumental powerhouse were in nothing but top form for their set. One might expect them to be on after having just done a month on the road with The Obsessed across the US, but propelled by Devine‘s crash, they rode Mecum‘s riffing with an energy I’ve never seen from them. The most recent cut they played was “57” from 2014’s Arch Stanton (review here) — though I thought I heard part of “62” as well — and of course their signature piece, “20” from 1999’s Wild Wonderful Purgatory was aired to a particularly fervent response. They were the only band of the weekend so far as I saw who elicited anything close to moshing, and it was well-earned. Just a killer show, front to back, and while I know Karma to Burn has a history of burning through rhythm sections, what Clutter and Devine bring to the band alongside Mecum isn’t to be understated. True power trio form, continually without compromise or bullshit.
“We’ve been here since eight o’clock,” said Mos Generator frontman Tony Reed, “and I’m drunk.” To be fair, it was long past eight by the time the Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rockers took the stage for their headlining/fest-closing set. My fingers were crossed they’d have copies of their new album, Abyssinia (review forthcoming), but no dice. Bought a shirt instead. Their set launched at a furious clip and did not relent, drummer Jon Garrett stepping up to righteously follow what Evan Devine brought to Karma to Burn as bassist Sean Booth served to anchor the material and bolster the impact of Reed‘s guitar. “Lonely One Kenobi” was an early highlight, followed by “There’s No Return from Nowhere” from the new record and “Breaker” and the title-track from 2014’s Electric Mountain Majesty (review here), Reed, of whom I’ll make no bones about being a fan, letting his vocals soar for the latter while completely owning the stage and bringing the room along with him. Hard not to smile watching him on stage — someone so obviously born to do what he’s doing who then set about working really, really hard at it for decades — and he kept the intensity of performance going until the house lights came up as they played “This is the Gift of Nature.” The room had thinned out somewhat by then, as it will, but after a full hour of go-go-go, there was zero slowdown whatsoever. Some bands just want to rock and roll, and Mos Generator do so with a pure reverence for the form that few would dare attempt to match. They were absolutely on fire.
As I write this, I’m on the road in a rental car, headed back north. I start my new job tomorrow. The Patient Mrs., who was visiting family elsewhere in the state, came and picked me up in a rental car and is currently driving me and Postman Dan, who came along for the trip, north. As there’s been no word from the mechanic that the car got towed to, I’ll have to drive back to Frederick on Friday to pick it up. Serves me right for something, I’m sure. Unanswered emails, perhaps.
Before I cut out, I want to thank JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank for having me on board as a sponsor and for having me down to cover Maryland Doom Fest 2016. I know these reviews have been somewhat fraught in their context, but Matson and Cruikshank put on a hell of a show over these three days, and should be commended both for the efforts and the results yielded. I can only hope they keep it going and hope they’ll have me involved again next year.
If they do, I think next time I might just fly in. But I always say that.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2015 by JJ Koczan
The 2016 edition of the Maryland Doom Fest will take place June 24, 25 and 26 at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD. You might recall late in 2014, when the initial word surfaced about the festival’s inaugural billing, it was a complete lineup announced, date, and place, all done straightforward in the tradition of the style being celebrated. In that regard, 2016 will be no different. Festival organizers JB Matson (also of War Injun) and Mark Cruikshank have unveiled the complete Maryland Doom Fest 2016 lineup, and while the core remains very much in the region’s sphere of heavy downer riffs, the palette has clearly expanded as well.
A broader reach pulls in the likes of Mos Generator, Ruby the Hatchet and Hollow Leg, and while headliners Spirit Caravan are a returning act from the 2015 fest, they’ll be joined by classic heavy rockers Bang and Asylum (Unorthodox by their original name), ensuring that even as the Maryland Doom Fest 2016 reveres its finest exports, it pays strict attention to the lineage from where it all comes and the hometown crowd too. All told, it’s a wide-ranging but universally heavy grouping of bands, from the epic classic metal of Argus to the cult rock of Demon Eye, and while realistically there will probably be a shift or two in the lineup between now and next June — things fall through, people get added, and so on — it looks like it’s going to be a hell of a weekend. If and when I hear of changes, I’ll let you know.
Tickets are on sale today, and I’m honored to have my logo on the poster. Full lineup and links follow:
The second edition of a weekend of doom in its purest form.
We are stoked about the second installment of The Maryland Doom Fest with 25 kickass bands!
Spirit Caravan BANG Asylum (Unorthodox) Argus War Injun Orodruin Blackfinger Kelly Carmichael (Internal Void) New Project Earthen Grave Black Urn Doperider Mos Generator Hollow Leg Ruby The Hatchet Admiral Browning Pale Divine Toke Flummox Demon Eye Wicked Inquisition Seasick Gladiator Karma to Burn Eternal Black King Giant Spillage Wasted Theory