Days of Rona: Jeremy Hall of Shadow Witch

Posted in Features on April 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

shadow witch jeremy hall (Photo by Jeanine Ortt)

Days of Rona: Jeremy Hall of Shadow Witch (Kingston, New York)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Shadow Witch has had to cancel a few shows, but it’s a wait-and-see approach as to when we’ll be back out there. It’s certainly started affecting some of the upcoming festivals we were counting on to be out there supporting our new album. The other thing has been a cessation of practices for now, but we’re starting to share files online to work on new songs. The ideas are starting to flow. Everyone’s health has been okay so far and we’re taking lots of precautions especially considering my wife suffers from an autoimmune inflammatory disease. We’re all practicing our social isolation as best we can. I live in the woods, so I can go outside and take lots of walks.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

Well, I’m from upstate NY, so the quarantine rules are pretty strict. We’re about 90 minutes from New York City, so it’s definitely a scary time. We’re supposed “shelter in place” essentially but Cuomo, the governor, calls it “NY on Pause” because “shelter in place” is only used for active shooters. But you get the idea. That’s where we are and where we will be for a while. But it’s important to do it. I am a librarian and professor at a college with epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists and value their opinions. This is what they say we should be doing.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

A lot of bands we’re friends with have had to cancel tours. Festivals are starting to get postponed. Merch people aren’t getting jobs. Venues and bars are shut down. One effect I really worry about is losing a lot of venues in the scene as an outcome of this. People need to get out there and support local bars and restaurants if they can — get takeout! Another thing is that I’ve been spending less time on social media for band stuff because there’s so much rampant misinformation. It just makes a tough situation even worse. It’s going to take some time for the community to bounce back after this, but I think there’s a desire in everyone to come back stronger than ever.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

One thing is taking care of your friends and family in a time like this. I know this gets said often, but it’s important to realize that we all have a role in this. Even if it’s staying home sitting on your ass binge-watching Tiger King. I’ve been working remote and honestly I’m busier than ever. And I’m lucky. I have friends who’ve had to shut down their businesses and friends who’ve been laid off. So I think it’s important for everyone to just be more mindful of how all our lives impact each other. Help out where you can. My wife and I sewed a bunch of masks to donate to the local hospital — well, she sewed them and I cut out the fabric. But each little part makes a difference. We all have a chance right now to make a difference. That’s one thing I’d like people to know.

www.facebook.com/shadowwitch.band
www.shadowwitch.bandcamp.com
www.argonautarecords.com

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Review & Full Album Stream: Shadow Witch, Under the Shadow of a Witch

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 12th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Shadow Witch Under the Shadow of a Witch

[Click play above to stream Under the Shadow of a Witch by Shadow Witch in its entirety. Album is out Friday on Argonauta Records.]

The two halves of Shadow Witch‘s Under the Shadow of a Witch break just about evenly into vinyl sides, each one bearing its own subtitle. The first is ‘Spearfinger and Other Cautionary Tales’ and the second is ‘Fountain and Other Love Songs.’ In this way, the Kingston, New York, four-piece of vocalist/Mellotronist/noisemaker Earl Walker Lundy, guitarist Jeremy Hall, bassist David Pannullo and drummer Doug Beans (since replaced by Justin Zipperle) introduce the two central concepts with which their third album is working, largely through metaphor, bluesy, distinctly Southern-rooted storytelling, but rife with a realization of the dark heavy rock aesthetic the band have been building toward over the course of their two prior LPs, 2017’s Disciples of the Crow (review here) and 2016’s Sun Killer (discussed here), as they’ve moved from labels like Snake Charmer Coalition, Salt of the Earth and Kozmik Artifactz to find a home on Argonauta Records.

Under the Shadow of a Witch contains nine songs and altogether runs just under 40 minutes in total, indeed opening with “Spearfinger” in immediate and intense fashion, the four-piece clearly rushing to get their audience swept up in the energy of their shortest inclusion, while on the other end, “Fountain” closes at over eight minutes as the longest cut. All between, their songs are crafted, arranged thoughtfully, and very much playing with a studio presentation toward a live energy. That is, they’re not trying to ape a live show by being overly or needlessly raw, but there is attention given in the recording by Paul Orofino at Millbrook Sound to maintaining to one degree or another the vitality with which “Spearfinger” casts such a striking initial impression. Even as the penultimate “Sour” leads into the finale, it does so on a swell of noise and layered soloing from Hall with crashing cymbals behind.

As there would be on a record with such consideration underlying its execution, there is no shortage of dynamic at play in terms of tempo and general style, whether it’s the subdued acoustic beginnings of early highlight “Demon’s Hook” or side B leadoff “Saint Magdalene” — fleeting though they may be — or the effectively-placed emergence of Mellotron in the final-minute slowdown of the former, the chorus of which lives up to its title, i.e., that hook is for sure a demon in its potential to possess. It would perhaps be the catchiest song on Under the Shadow of a Witch — the great irony of the album is that for as much as it’s meant to be taken as Side Caution and Side Love, as it were, the component tracks do so much work to stand out individually — but for the subsequent “Wolf Among the Sheep,” begun with a spoken preach and working along an anti-dogmatic theme critiquing organized religion in a manner well presented if familiar.

While we’re talking about ironies, it’s hard to imagine Shadow Witch, in terms of listeners, aren’t preaching to the converted there, but again, it’s the chorus that’s the real sway of the piece as it rounds out the launchpoint salvo with “Spearfinger” and “Demon’s Hook,” portraying Shadow Witch as a band sure in their approach and ready for consideration at another level from where they’ve been before. They have, in terms of sound, found what they’ve been looking for this whole time.

shadow witch (photo by Kristin Troost Hall)

A third album is a natural place for that to happen, but more specifically, one can’t help but be drawn to the sense of frontman presence Lundy brings to his performance here. Part of that is that his voice, presented often in layers, with harmonies and other nuances of arrangements — dude can sing, and that always helps — is forward in the mix as to stand out from Hall‘s guitar, Pannullo‘s bass and Beans‘ drums, but the storytelling elements that begin with “Spearfinger” continue throughout that lead salvo and into the lush and nodding riff of “Witches of Aendor,” which touches on metal in its later reaches as Shadow Witch are wont to do without ever giving in entirely to aggressive posturing. Through that careening, chugging finish and into the more straightforward side A finale “Shifter” — another chorus not to be discounted — Lundy‘s task is to unite the material through whatever variety surrounds, and he does so impressively while donning a host of characters and perspectives along with ample melodic command.

There are moments where the balance tips one way or the other between band and frontman, but that ends up adding to the overarching dynamic of Under the Shadow of a Witch as a whole. As “Saint Magdalene” introduces the notion of a more patient side B about to unfold, it does so with a stepped-back Lundy (relatively speaking) and a stepped-up groove, an airier guitar returning temporarily in the second half of the song amid soulful, bluesy-almost-in-spite-of-themselves vocals that lead to a rousing solo. The brashest and most aggro of the nine inclusions, “6×6” is call-and-response through the verse and crunch in the rhythm — all business — as it makes its way to the chorus and a jarring strike of guitar after the title line is delivered. If Shadow Witch are metal anywhere on their third LP, it’s in “6×6,” but that doesn’t come at the expense of songwriting, which remains top priority.

It and “Sour” make a fitting pair for a dug-in vibe ahead of the closer, keeping momentum rolling without losing the thread of complexity coinciding, even if less infectious than “Demon’s Hook” or “Wolf Among the Sheep” earlier. The eight minutes of “Fountain” that follow are time well spent, with guest slide guitar from fellow Kingstonian Pat Harrington of Geezer that’s built toward with a payoff of the bluesy aspects both in Lundy‘s singing and in the progression behind him. They cap with howling wails and intertwining solos in a fitting wash atop the solid rhythmic foundation that’s underscored the various moves made all along, and give Under the Shadow of a Witch an earned sendoff into the ether of its own making.

True to its side’s subtitle, “Fountain” is a love song ultimately, and while I’m not sure I’d say the same about “6×6” — I’m not sure I wouldn’t, mind you — Shadow Witch‘s performance across the span of the full-length as a whole, taken in sides or song-by-song, shines with the feeling of an intention fulfilled. It is the work of a band who went into the studio with a purpose, and who realized that purpose in righteous form. Preach on, Shadow Witch.

Shadow Witch, “Wolf Among the Sheep” official video

Shadow Witch on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Witch on Instagram

Shadow Witch on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

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Shadow Witch Unveil “Wolf Among the Sheep” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

shadow witch

It’s a Feb. 13 release date for Shadow Witch‘s awaited new album, Under the Shadow of a Witch, through Argonauta Records. So be it. I’ve seen some pics around thee social medias of blacklight shows the band have been doing of late, and they look fairly insane as one would imagine. A touch of the otherworldly or alternate-reality suits Shadow Witch‘s sound well, as does the video for “Wolf Among the Sheep,” which plays up the religious commentary of the track itself.

You know the really fucked thing about Christianity? They tell that shit to kids. Imagine having a kid and being like, “Yo, you better be good because there’s an all-powerful white dude watching you ALL THE TIME EVEN WHILE YOU SLEEP OR PEE and if you’re bad you’ll be set on fire and also that happens forever and ever.” Think about it. That is insane. And I’m speaking as someone who was one of those kids. No wonder people hate each other.

Anyway, you’ll see the snakes, the grainy footage, the speaking in tongues, and yes, the children taking part, as well as the band integrated among the fray — can’t miss them. For further viewing, go back and watch Jesus Camp again. For further listening, stay tuned and I hope it’s not all that long before another track from Under the Shadow of a Witch surfaces. Maybe in January? Hell, I’ll take it whenever it comes. I’m not looking to interrupt anyone’s holiday dinner or anything. Whenever they get around to it is good by me.

Shadow Witch will be at New England Stoner & Doom Fest and will return to Maryland Doom Fest 2020 as well. Because hell yes they will. More dates are reportedly forthcoming, and I believe it.

Dig:

Shadow Witch, “Wolf Among the Sheep” official video

New York Heavy Doom And Stoner Metal Veterans, SHADOW WITCH, Premiere Brand New Music Video!

Under the Shadow of a Witch coming in February 2020 on Argonauta Records!

Shadow Witch, who inked a worldwide deal with Argonauta Records last year, are a heavy rock/stoner metal band from the Hudson Valley region of New York. Forming in the autumn of 2015, the band released their first full-length album Sun Killer to excellent reviews from the international heavy music community in the summer of 2016. A diverse assemblage of songs pulling in Doom, Thrash, NWOBM, and psychedelic and stoner metal, the band backed it up with intense and explosive live shows, opening for King Buffalo, Mothership, and Corrosion of Conformity among others.

Shadow Witch began a new chapter with the release of their second full-length album Disciples of the Crow in December 2017, again gaining excellent reviews from the heavy music community. Countless explosive shows later, the band returns with their highly anticipated third album, titled Under the Shadow of a Witch, coming out on February 13th via Argonauta Records !

To shorten the wait for its official album release, Shadow Witch have just unleashed a brand new video from their upcoming magnum opus! Watch the new clip for Wolf Among The Sheep HERE!

Get ready to kick of into a heavy as hell 2020 with Shadow Witch, and watch out for many more news and album pre-sale infos to follow soon!

Shadow Witch live:
May 15-16, 2020 (US) – NEW ENGLAND STONER AND DOOM FEST
June 18-20, 2020 (US) – MARYLAND DOOM FEST
with many more dates to follow soon!

SHADOW WITCH is:
Justin Zipperle – drums
David Pannullo – bass
Earl Lundy – voice / mellotron / loops
Jeremy Hall – guitars

Shadow Witch on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Witch on Instagram

Shadow Witch on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

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Maryland Doom Fest 2020 Announces Full Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest 2020 banner

In the immortal words of one Peter Steele: Happy Halloween, baby. Those playing along at home know that today means one thing to the realms of doom, and it’s that it’s time for Maryland Doom Fest to unveil next year’s lineup. Maryland Doom Fest 2020 has some significant shoes to fill in following up this year’s, which of course was held in June in Frederick, Maryland, and they’ve lined up a full four-dayer onslaught to make a go of it.

Headlining sets from Cirith UngolBlood CeremonySpeedealer and Mondo Generator, with direct killage from The SkullVictor Griffin‘s Death Row Assembly (this will be incredible, especially there), Witch Mountain and Sorcerer, the fest is pretty much blowing its own prior reach out of the water. I’ll especially look forward to Arduini/Balich and hope that this performance accompanies a new album, but return appearances from The Age of TruthBailjackEarthride (yes!), Shadow WitchSpiral GraveKnoxxville and Helgamite will be awesome as well, and I’ve no doubt the likes of Vessel of Light, Galactic Cross (with Dave Sherman of Earthride), YatraBlack LungPlainrideCavernMolasses BargeAdmiral BrowningBlack RoadPoobahOmen Stones and Crystal Spiders will be made to feel welcome into the MDDF family vibe, at least those who aren’t already a part of it. I guess particularly in the case of Admiral Browning, it’s more like family reunion.

Keeping with the festival’s no-dragged-out-staggered-announcements spirit, I’ll be up front about this: it’s gonna be a good ‘un. You should do whatever you need to do to make it happen.

Check it:

maryland doom fest 2020 poster

MARYLAND DOOM FEST Announces 2020 Lineup: June 18-21 – Feat. CIRITH UNGOL, BLOOD CEREMONY, MONDO GENERATOR, SPEEDEALER + MORE! EarlyBird Sales Start Dec. 17!

The Maryland Doom Fest celebrates its 6th anniversary next June and today brings you its confirmed roster of over 50 of today’s heaviest bands to hit its stages in 2020.

Maryland Doom Fest brings both U.S. and international artists from all over the map into Frederick, MD for a full four days of mayhem, featuring the legendary Cirith Ungol and Blood Ceremony, to Speedealer and Mondo Generator set to headline the four nights of top shelf doom metal and heavy underground sounds! This year includes more than fifty bands to cover every dark and dank corner of metal subgenres across every inch of the stage from start to finish each night.

A few words from JB Matson, founder and organizer of The Maryland Doom Fest:

“I simply could not be more excited about the fifty-plus band roster for the Maryland Doom Fest’s 6th annual show in 2020!! This will be a splendid #4daysofdoom!!!”

We invite all to become part of the family at the Maryland Doom Fest 2020 weekend events! Please support the Doom and Heavy Music scene and come share in this epic event with us. We will see you at #4daysofdoom!!

THE MARYLAND DOOM FEST 2020

CIRITH UNGOL + BLOOD CEREMONY + SPEEDEALER + MONDO GENERATOR

THE SKULL + SORCERER + DEATH ROW ASSEMBLY + WITCH MOUNTAIN

Ol’ Time Moonshine + Arduini/Balich + Dirt Eater + Switchblade Jesus
Doperider + Condenados + Cultic + Yatra + Bailjack + Poobah
Earthride + Black Lung + Jake The Hawk + Black Road + Warmask
Admiral Browning + Sourpuss + Molasses Barge + Thunderbird Divine
Dust Prophet + Wolftooth + Vessel Of Light + Wrath Of Typhon + Spiral Grave
Plainride + Mangog + Cavern + Galactic Cross + Shadow Witch + Burgan
Akris + Plague Wielder + The Age Of Truth + Knoxxville + The Astral Void
Serpents Of Secrecy + Omen Stones + Crystal Spiders + Helgamite
VRSA + Conclave + Et Mors + Strange Highways + Alms + Dyerwulf

June 18th – 21st, 2020 + Frederick, MD

www.marylanddoomfest.com

Early Bird Discount tickets are available from December 17th through 31st.

Standard ticket sales start January 2020.

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/827407774319811/

https://www.facebook.com/events/827407774319811/
https://www.facebook.com/MdDoomFest/
https://www.instagram.com/marylanddoomfest/
www.marylanddoomfest.com

Cirith Ungol, “I’m Alive” live at Up the Hammers Festival 2017

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Shadow Witch Post New Single “Wolf Among the Sheep”; Under the Shadow of a Witch out Early 2020

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

shadow witch

Oh hey, what’s Shadow Witch up to? If that’s the question you’re asking, you probably already know the answer: “Something.” These cats are almost always up to something. They must be itching to get their new album, Under the Shadow of a Witch, released by now, as it was first announced late last year when they signed to Argonauta Records, it’s been given a still-kinda-nebulous “early 2020” due date, and they’re posting a song from it anyhow at least three months in advance of its actual arrival. Understandable. Nobody likes sitting on new material. And frankly, if I had a song sitting around that sounds as cool as “Wolf Among the Sheep” — as much classic metal as it is dark heavy rock — I’d probably want people to hear it too. And longer-term marketing concerns aside, the track is certainly welcome.

And okay, a word about the cover art for Under a Shadow of a Witch. “Nightmarish.” I guess that’s the one word. It’s not the kind of thing I’d want on a t-shirt, but they have a history of striking art one way or another, it’s bound to be noticed, and it’s oddly appropriate to the vibe of “Wolf Among the Sheep.” But yeah. Nightmarish. I have to think that’s what they were going for.

Here’s the announcement from the PR wire and the stream of the track:

shadow witch under the shadow of a witch

Kingston, New York, doom rock collective SHADOW WITCH premieres single of upcoming album!

Under The Shadow Of A Witch will haunt you in early 2020 on Argonauta Records!

Kingston, New York, dark ‘n doom heavy rockers Shadow Witch, have finally revealed the first details about their upcoming, third full length titled Under The Shadow Of A Witch! Set for a release in early 2020, today the music veterans collective has shared the album artwork, created by Shadow Witch’ voice and primary lyricist Earl Lundy, as well as a first single to the track Wolf Among The Sheep.

Says the band:”We’re very excited about this release, and the new partnership with Argonauta Records. The record takes SHADOW WITCH places we haven’t ventured before, both sonically and emotionally. There’s a lot of vulnerability in the lyrics and the vocal performance, and the band worked hard to match that. We’re very proud of the results. This first taste of the album, “WOLF AMONG THE SHEEP”, stands alone in that it’s the only song with possible political overtones. Production-wise though, it very much flows with the rest of the material. We’re really psyched for y’all to hear what we’ve been up to.”

Listen to the appetizer, Wolf Among The Sheep, that makes hunger for more!

SHADOW WITCH is:
Scott Wadowski – drums
David Pannullo – bass
Earl Lundy – voice / mellotron / loops
Jeremy Hall – guitars

www.facebook.com/shadowwitch.band
www.shadowwitch.bandcamp.com
www.argonautarecords.com

Shadow Witch, “Wolf Among the Sheep”

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Shadow Witch Post Stooges Cover “I Wanna Be Your Dog”

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Of course there’s The Riff, but the real test of any cover of The Stooges‘ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ that’s trying to be reasonably loyal to the original is the word ‘here.’ The cloying, seething, sex-starved desperation in Iggy Pop‘s vocal just on that one word was like a siren of hormonal charge going off 50 years ago that can still be heard echoing today. Much to the credit of Shadow Witch frontman Earl Walker Lundy, he nails the “here” and thus the song as a whole, capturing the spirit of the original while bringing it into the band’s own sonic context of dark heavy rock.

Released as a free download, the single is intended as a precursor to Shadow Witch‘s new LP, which is expected in November through Argonauta Records. Gotta keep that momentum up.

Lundy offered some comment on the selection via the PR wire:

shadow witch wanna be your dog

All set to go for the new album “Under the Shadow of the Witch” by U.S. Heavy Psych Doomers Shadow Witch, all details to be revealed in the next days!

To shorten the wait the band just releases today an exciting cover song of THE STOOGES classic “I Wanna Be Your Dog” you can listen to here: https://shadowwitch.bandcamp.com/track/i-wanna-be-your-dog

About this song, Earl Walker Lundy, the bands vocalist, says:

“It actually started as a joke ! I was in the middle of this really intense affair, and all the songs we were writing started to be about that, about that girl, that obsessive all-powerful romance. Our drummer thought it would be funny to play a cover that related to the situation. We all love The Stooges, so even though people might not think Stooges when they hear Shadow Witch, it really is an influence. Anyway, when we were recording the album we thought “hey, why not ?!? “ We’d been playing it, and it felt kind of ironic and a bitter-sweet reference to what the album is all about ~ love/obsession/addiction. Also we just want to tease y’all a little; not give away too much just yet.”

The album was recorded with 40 year industry veteran Paul Orofino, who has recorded everyone from “classic rock” stalwarts Mountain, Foghat, Golden Earring, and Blue Oyster Cult to the extremes of Immolation.

Earl says “We really wanted this record to be a big step up sonically from our last, and working with Paul was an incredible opportunity to make that happen. He’s truly a master of his craft, and brought ideas to the table that became integral to the production of the album. I think it’s our strongest work yet.”

www.facebook.com/shadowwitch.band
www.shadowwitch.bandcamp.com
www.argonautarecords.com

Shadow Witch, “I Wanna Be Your Dog”

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2019 Night Three, 06.23.19

Posted in Reviews on June 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest 2019 night three poster

It’s about quarter to two in the morning, and I walked into the AirBNB where I’m staying a little bit ago, and have been doing that thing where you dick around on social media because you feel like you want to be doing something else but you’re not so you just lose yourself in the scrolling. Waste of time. I’d rather do this.

The end of Maryland Doom Fest 2019 is bittersweet. This one felt good, and I’m tired, but I’m sorry to see it done. The bands were great, of course — always — but more than that, it’s the people. People so generous with their time, open, kind. Incredible people. Hew-mons.

I was walking out of the venue after Conan and got down the road and I just sat on a step in front of some shop for a couple minutes and put my head between my knees — crash position — to try and process it. I didn’t succeed. I only got up when a roach walked past, otherwise I’d probably still be there, trying to hold on a little bit to tonight, to not resign it to the vapor of my memory. Sets were good, but it was the experience of being here, feeling for a few minutes as much as I’ve ever felt like a part of a thing. It’s beautiful, and raw, and it doesn’t come easily to me. Thank you. In the past, I’ve felt like an interloper in this scene. A tourist. Sitting in this room by myself now, I feel stunned. I feel like I got hit by the best train ever.

In the literal sense of amazement, amazed.

My plan is to get up tomorrow (later today) and get out of here and at some point write about the last day of the fest, which was today — have fun with that math — but I don’t know when or how or where that’s happening. And I reserve the right to delete this entire thing and replace it with some staid bullshit if I so choose, but as slapdash as my consciousness is right now, I wouldn’t trust my judgment on the matter enough to decide.

Thanks for everything. It was so real.

— Morning now. Let’s hit it:

Witchkiss

Witchkiss (Photo by JJ Koczan)

My first time seeing Witchkiss, and I hope not my last. The NY-based founding duo of drummer/vocalist Amber Burns and guitarist/vocalist Scott Prater were operating as a two-piece for a minute there, but they’ve brought in bassist Tyler Irish, and though I hadn’t seen them before, it was hard to argue with the result of their doing so. They were less an assault with volume than a gradual unfolding, and presumably because it was early it took a song or so for them to really dig into what they were doing, but they got there, and the atmosphere wasn’t lost for the weight of tone, with Burns‘ headset mic cutting through that morass and Prater‘s growls adding to the post-sludge feel as they progressed. Their 2018 debut, The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes (review here), made a splash, and rightly so, but they’ve announced intentions toward a follow-up for next year, and they seem to be ready to move forward, both in terms of sound and in the fact that they’re touring with Conan and very obviously putting work in to get their name out. I expect if they come back Maryland Doom Fest at some point, they’ll be playing in a well-earned later slot.

Shadow Witch

Shadow Witch (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Barefoot showman/shaman/frontman Earl Walker Lundy said from the stage that Shadow Witch‘s next long-player won’t arrive until 2020, which is fair when one takes into account the busy schedule of their label, Italy’s Argonauta Records, but they played two new songs in “Witches of Aendor” — which is neither to be confused with Endor, from Star Wars, or Andor, from Star Trek — and “Shifter,” and both sounded right on coming out of the recognizable strains of “Beneath the Veil” from late-2017’s Disciples of the Crow (review here). Lundy, dancing, kinetic, probably in need of a good foot-wash, is very much a focal point for Shadow Witch‘s live presentation — and yeah, he’s the singer, so that happens — but guitarist Jeremy Hall, bassist David Pannullo and drummer Justin Zipperle are ultimately responsible for the niche Shadow Witch have carved for themselves in a kind of dark heavy rock vein, sometimes aggressive, but not metal, sometimes doomed, but not doom. It would suit a narrative to say it was true of the new songs, but it was true of the old as well that Shadow Witch revel in that individuality of purpose, and as much Lundy becomes the personification of it, it’s the whole band making it work.

Faith in Jane

Faith in Jane (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Thurmont, Maryland, power trio have been this scene’s best kept secret for the last few years at least. They’ve put out records at a good clip since 2012 — last year’s Countryside (review here) is their fifth; recording live helps — and legitimately at this point are a band who should be bigger than they are, stretching their legs on tour, opening for national acts coming through, and so on. Watching them on stage at Cafe 611, my impression wasn’t all that different than when I saw them here in MD four years ago: they have a shit-ton of potential. The difference is now they kind of need to decide what to do with it, how they’re going to dig into the heavy grunge vibes and push forward with maybe more straightforward songwriting of songs like “Mountain Lore,” which closed the set, meandering into and out of jams along the way. Figuring out where they want to be. As it was, when they were done, I went to their merch table and bought a copy of every CD they had for sale. I’m pretty sure I already own Countryside and 2016’s Rhythm of Elevation, but screw it, I wasn’t taking the chance. Next time Earthless rolls through Baltimore, Faith in Jane should be opening. Then they should spend the next three years solid on the road and become the best heavy band that Maryland ever produced.

Horehound

Horehound (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Faith in Jane were on a different trip, but neither Shadow Witch nor Witchkiss were wanting for atmosphere. Pittsburgh’s Horehound took that to a different level. I’ve lost track at this point how many labels the four-piece have worked with between 2018’s Holocene (review here) and their 2016 self-titled debut (review here), but it’s definitely enough to be called “several,” including frontwoman Shy Kennedy‘s own Blackseed Records. The band are all the more ambassadors for the Steel City underground for the fact that Kennedy runs the Descendants of Crom fest there — while we’re giving a CV, she also did a t-shirt design for this site — and they excelled in that role, honing the most immersive sound I would hear all weekend. It’s not just that it was a wash, but their balance of hypnosis and bash was something I felt fortunate to behold in person and gave new character to the growl-laced “L’Appel du Vide” from Holocene, as guitarist Brendan Parrish, bassist Nick Kopco and drummer JD Dauer dug into a combination of lurch and semi-angular progressions, always seeming to wind their way back to the right spot to start again. They were striking in their patience as well, unwilling to let go of the mood they worked so hard to craft, even when at their most pummeling.

Thousand Vision Mist

Thousand Vision Mist (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Guitarist/vocalist Danny Kenyon (ex-Life Beyond), bassist/vocalist Tony Cormulada and drummer Chris Sebastian also played Maryland Doom Fest in 2018 (review here) and 2016 (review here), so it’s more than fair to call them veterans at this point. Their sound is a dug-in form of heavy progressive rock, managing to hold to a lack of pretense even as Kenyon‘s guitar wanders off to parts unknown only to snap the crowd back into consciousness as he rejoins Cormulada and Sebastian in the underlying groove. They’re not a band trying to take over the world, which kind of put them in direct contrast with Toke, who followed, but they pulled a good amount of the local faithful and had three new songs on offer alongside “Prince of Grace” from their debut album, 2017’s Journey to Ascension and the Loss of Tomorrow (review here), and “Tears of the Moon” from their prior 2015 demo. In my experience, they’ve never been anything but solid live, and a check-in annually works just fine by me. I have to wonder though at some of their themes, if somebody in the band is a pilot. “We Flew too High,” “Tears of the Moon” or “Final Flight of Fall” and “Skybound and Beyond” from the album. Someone writing this stuff would seem to spend an awful lot of time in the sky.

Toke

Toke (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The reigning princes of North Carolinian sludge took the stage at Cafe 611 like they owned the place and then went on to prove that, indeed, they did. Their second album, 2017’s Orange (discussed here), continues to shit hot fire on the weed-worshiping social-media-word-of-mouth contingent, which is nifty, and the band — in addition to providing a recent lesson on PR crisis management by getting out in front of a sexual harassment claim against their now-former drummer — with guitarist Tim Bryan and bassist/vocalist Jason “Bronco” Pierce as the remaining founders will do shows later this year with Black Label Society, have already been out with Church of Misery this year and continue to build a reputation based on ultra-stoned, crusty-jeans riffs. They had plenty on offer for the willing nodders at Maryland Doom Fest — which was basically everybody in the place — and they tapped their inner Sourvein in order to coat the assembled in moss-coated weedian groove. I think of them at this point kind of where Monolord were a few years back. They’re a band tapping into something primal, breaking their ass in every way possible to reach as many people as possible with it, and there’s no real perceptible limit to how far they can go with it. I don’t know if anyone has signed them for their next record yet or what, but they probably should.

Kings Destroy

Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

This marked the third time I’ve seen Kings Destroy in the last couple months playing material from this year’s excellent Fantasma Nera (review here), and while they didn’t have their we’re-on-tour-thousand-yard-staredown — because yes, in that scenario, they’re staring down everything within that thousand-yard omnidirectional radius — they still did thorough justice to their most rock-based collection of songs to-date. Citing “Unmake It” as their “doom song” — compared to “Barbarossa” or “Bleed Down the Sun,” maybe — they followed with “Seven Billion Drones” and a near-constant sense of melody between the guitars of Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski and the vocals of Steve Murphy, a duty he shared more with bassist Aaron Bumpus than even this Spring. As I recall it, the only song Bumpus didn’t step up to the mic for was the speedy “Mr. O” from their 2015 self-titled (review here), and it was easy to hear where the harmony might’ve fit if he had. I won’t take away from their delivery of that cut or any other, the propulsion in Rob Sefcik‘s drums able to slash pace in half at a measure’s notice and still not lose the thread, and the finale of “Yonkers Ceiling Collapse” once again provided the riff-based hook that tied the entire set together and gave it a sense of movement that has been the band’s own all along, whatever styles they’ve been fitting into and not fitting into — mostly the latter — over the last decade.

Zed

Zed (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Before San Francisco’s Zed went on, webernets metal radio guru and regular Doom Fest master of ceremonies Dave Benzotti led the band, the crowd, and pretty much everyone in the place in a sing-along of Journey‘s “Lights.” And I mean, the place kind of went off. Belting it out. They play that at sports events and such in San Francisco — I guess it would be like playing anything by Springsteen, or, you know, Journey, in New Jersey — so alright, but more importantly, when Zed took the stage, they did so at an immediate sprint that swept the Cafe 611 along with it, and once they started moving, they did not stop, save for a quick tune-up before the next max-intensity forward thrust. I haven’t had the pleasure of hearing their new album, Volume, yet — it’s out next month on Ripple — but I feel like I got to know it a bit anyhow as they played songs like “The Other Kind,” “The End,” “Wings of the Angel,” “Poison Tree” and “Chingus,” so that was welcome. They were clearly known to the bulk of people in front of the stage but even for those who wouldn’t have seen them last year, Zed made a readily convincing argument in their own favor, the energy of their performance serving as an infectious final shot of adrenaline to hold a long-weekend crowd over until the bludgeoning soon enough to come. All this and Journey too. Sometimes life is genuinely weird, but it works.

Conan

Conan (Photo by JJ Koczan)

You know, Conan headlining Maryland Doom Fest is a big fucking deal, and it’s worth recognizing that. They’re a UK band. They played Sunday night, having just on Friday took stage before 8,000 people at Hellfest in Clisson, France — and much to their credit, come to the venue on Saturday night just to hang out and get the lay of the land — and not only are they among the planet’s most crushing live acts, but they’re a legitimate international enterprise. They might be the biggest band who’ve ever played the festival, and their involvement is emblematic of the growth of Maryland Doom Fest as a whole over the last five years and most especially in 2019. Also helping Conan‘s case? They. Fucking. Killed. I’ll be honest, once the moshing started behind me while I was taking pictures up front, I was gonna check out before the set was done, try and sneak in some work before crashing, but I stayed through the entire set (not up front), and they were nothing less than spellbinding. Cafe 611 was probably the smallest room I’ve seen Conan play since the first time I saw them in 2012, and it was like their tonal onslaught had nowhere to go, so the vibrations from Jon Davis‘ guitar and Chris Fielding‘s bass and the thud of Johnny King‘s drums just kept bouncing off the walls and looping back on themselves. Earplugs? Useless. Why bother. There was no getting away. I stood to the side and watched the pit go and go, a couple dedicated crowdsurfers carried here and there and back again, but Conan were unbelievable. Davis‘ guitar cut out early in the first song, but they got it worked out and there was no letup from there. “Foehammer” into “Battle in the Swamp” into “Paincantation” into “Satsumo.” It was that kind of evening. The perfect blowout sendoff for Maryland Doom Fest 2019 and a reinforcement of Conan‘s long-established dominance over damn near everything.

That’s it, it’s done. You already know what I did after the show last night — I went and held my head and then wrote the intro above, if you missed it — and that was that. I was up at six this morning to start writing and sorting pictures having finally keyed down enough to sleep a little before three. Take that, brain. Ya jerk.

Before I do the “more pics after the jump” thing and sign off, I want to thank JB Matson for the incredible work he does in putting this festival together. What’s he’s built has become something truly special, and the future only seems to get brighter as he goes. All the best for 2020 and I hope to be able to be back in town for it. Lineup announcement on Halloween, maybe? I’ll keep an eye out.

And I want to thank The Patient Mrs. for taking over full-on childcare duties to allow me to go and blow off some steam in Frederick and get my head right and hear all the nice things people said about the site and see killer bands and not eat, and not sleep, and wear silly-ass pants and have a good time. Thank you.

And thank you for reading. You guessed it: more pics after the jump.

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New England Stoner and Doom Fest II: More Lineup Announcements; Pre-Party Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

new england stoner doom festival 2019 art

It’s time to talk about the real potential of the New England Stoner and Doom Fest. No, I don’t mean the lineup. That’s awesome. You know it and I know it. I’m talking about the acronym. That’s always huge for a festival. How is it abbreviated? Think MDDF or SHoD or any of the DFs spread around the universe. These things matter.

I’ve seen NESDF tossed around for New England Stoner and Doom Fest, and that’s cool, but it’s missing the opportunity. You could have a festival abbreviated NES! Who the hell wouldn’t buy that t-shirt? I hereby cast my vote in the imaginary referendum on festival abbreviations for New England Stoner and Doom Fest to henceforth and forthwith and withhence be known as NES fest. Second the motion?

There’s reportedly one more band to be added and reportedly several in the running for that slot, so this might not be the final update before May 3-5 gets here and NES fest kicks off (see me using the acronym already?), and the lineup for a pre-party at 33 Golden St. in New London has been announced as well, which will be headlined by Fox 45, so, you know, more of a good thing and all that.

The full lineup as has been revealed follows. Note the Wretch reunion. NES fest!

New England Stoner & Doom Fest II

The New England Stoner and Doom Festival will make its return in 2019 on May 3,4, and 5 at Altones in Jewett City, CT.

Earthride
Brimstone Coven
Wretch
Kings Destroy
+1 TBA
Foghound
Pale Divine
Vessel of Light
Spiral Grave
Solace
Black Road
Curse the Son
Shadow Witch
Hell Camino
Clamfight
Eternal Black
Thunderbird Divine
Stonecutters
When the Deadbolt Breaks
Mourn the Light
Entierro
Bone Church
Buzzard Canyon
The Age of Truth
Void King
Horseburner
Scuzzy Yeti
Witchkiss
Cortez
Benthic Realm
Faith in Jane
Conclave
Set Fire
3 Parts Dead
Insano Vision
Old Earth Analog
Pinto Graham
The Stone Eye
Sentinel Hell

Pre-party @ 33 Golden St.:
Fox 45
VRSA
Dark Ritual
Owl Maker
Feed the Beast

www.newenglandstoneranddoomfest.com
https://www.facebook.com/events/1613285008788252/
https://www.facebook.com/NewEnglandStonerAndDoomFest/
https://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com/

Wretch, Bastards Born (2017)

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