Review & Track Premiere: Solace, The Brink

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

solace the brink

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Waste People’ from Solace’s The Brink. Album is out Dec. 13 on Blues Funeral Recordings and available to preorder here.]

You never know with Solace. Like the persistent radiation emanating from a hyperpolluted Jersey Shore superfund site, they might have a half-life of 50,000 years, but there are times when it seems like it’ll be at least that long before they get their due. But you never know. In 2010, when the Long Branch, NJ, five-piece returned after seven years with A.D. (review here) on Small Stone Records — their third LP and follow-up to 2003’s 13 (discussed here) as well as a 2005 split with Greatdayforup and the The Black Black EP in 2007 — I called it the beginning of a new era for the band. Even reading that back at the time, I can remember it was a fan’s wishful thinking, but neither did I imagine it would be nine years before they put out a fourth album, or that they’d do so with three-fifths of an entirely new lineup, rebuilt around guitarists Justin Daniels and band founder Tommy Southard.

Yet, The Brink emerges with a title that seems self-aware in identifying the place Solace have dwelled since even before the release of their debut, Further, in 2000, right on the sharpest corner, of the unknown, on the proverbial edge itself. You never know with Solace. Whether the whole thing’s about to fly apart. Whether the release date is going to get pushed back. Whether this is going to be the last time you see them. Whether they might finally get some inkling of the recognition they’ve long since deserved. Imagine a 2001 with Solace touring heavy in support of the MeteorCity release of Further. Maybe they get picked up by Atlantic for the follow-up. Maybe they get one song on the radio. Maybe there’s a video. Maybe the tours get bigger. Maybe they do Ozzfest the next year or for the second record. Maybe their crowds get bigger, the venues get bigger. Maybe Solace become the band Atlantic wanted the Melvins to be, having an influence over the wider sphere of heavy rock than even they could’ve imagined.

As a Solace fan, I genuinely think the world would be a better place if that had happened.

Understand, Solace aren’t just the best at what they do. They’re it at what they do. They have been and they remain equal parts vital and dangerous. There’s no one else who can ride a heavy rock groove, lock in a righteous doom riff en route to a shredding solo, blaze through hardcore punk, metal and classic ’70s vibes all while still conjuring memorable songs and melodies at the level Solace have done throughout their career and continue to do on The Brink. The album — which with issue through Blues Funeral Recordings reunites them with MeteorCity founder Jadd Shickler — runs 11 tracks and an utterly unmanageable 67 minutes. It is too long for a modern listener’s attention span by at least 20 minutes, but it’s also very clearly a band laying it all on the line. Is this the last Solace record? One final burst before they cross the brink into oblivion? You never know, but even with the possibility, they’re obviously not taking the chance of leaving anything unsaid, even if that means they’re saying everything while they can.

New vocalist Justin Goins has been with Solace at least four years now and unquestionably has the biggest task before him in replacing original singer Jason — who is probably the person most committed to only using his first name I’ve ever encountered; I saw his last name once and can’t remember it, but it wasn’t that weird — but Goins gives a performance laced with potential, fits well in the band both in his voice and work on keyboard as he shows on the could’ve-closed nine-minute title-track and works in a similar-enough style that from opener “Breaker of the Way” onward, Solace never cease to sound like Solace. With full tones behind him from SouthardDaniels and bassist Mike Sica (who fills the special-order-sized shoes of Rob Hultz) set to the fervent push of Tommy Gitlan on drums, Goins makes the most of hooks in second cut “Desert Coffin,” “Waste People,” “The Light is a Lie,” and the prior-issued single “Bird of Ill-Omen” (review here) to give listeners a marker to follow on the outward, intense path The Brink follows, progressive and linear, downward and outward as it is.

solace

But if time or cumulative beer intake have dulled Solace‘s ferocity at all, The Brink doesn’t show it. Even rockers like “Dead Sailor’s Dream” or “Crushing Black” play out through headspinning turns and verses that seem to stretch out one into the next. There’s structure there, a plan at work. The songs are crafted and have the carefully mixed layers to prove it. But the plan is chaos, and chaos is what it sounds like. Maybe Solace are in control of it, but they’ve almost never been so much so as to put out a record every couple years, hit the road and take their band to the “next level” that would seem to have been waiting for them 15 years ago. Is The Brink too little too late? You never know, but for what it’s worth, nothing about the album is too little, from its runtime to the largesse of sound to the front-to-back quality of the material and its delivery.

They wisely save a few tricks for later in the run to change things up, bringing in Daniels on vocals for the brief, acoustic-led “Shallows Fade” ahead of “The Brink” itself, which has a more severe atmosphere bolstered by the cut before it, and then are off at a sprint for the penultimate “Until the Last Dog is Hung” — not quite as I-wanna-see-you-tear-shit-up as A.D.‘s hardcore paean “The Skull of the Head of a Man,” but not far off either — before rounding out with “Dead Sailor’s Reprise,” which indeed answers back to “Dead Sailor’s Dream” and, unlike most reprisals, is actually longer than the piece it’s building from, repeating the line, “Down where dead men go” (see also the cover art), before fading itself out and then returning with a storm-backed acoustic guitar line that plays out the riff of the original.

At that point it has been a long day’s journey since the bounding initial riff of “Breaker of the Way,” but perhaps the most staggering aspect of The Brink is how much it is Solace. One assumes if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t exist. It’s not like Solace were under a contract and needed to get a record out. It’s not like they had to do it for cash. It may be that the urgency of expression here derives from the thought that this might actually be it for them, and yet the balance they set that against is coming across as utterly refreshed in their most forward position — i.e. the vocals — and in the rhythm section backing their signature ace riffs and leads. What the hell is an audience supposed to make of that? Band comes back after nine years for what might be one more blowout and has the energy of a debut album? How is that even fair? What do you do with that?

My best guess is appreciate it for what it is. Because it’s so long, and because it’s so winding in its progression, and because there’s just so much to dig into across its span, it’ll be a while before The Brink really settles in on those who properly take it on. Nine months, maybe a year, but time in any case. For all the immediacy of their work, Solace demand that time. But these tracks, their peaks and valleys, their shove and rest, their melody and their motion, earn it, too. But the only way to take The Brink is on its face. If you think about where Solace have come from, or where they might go from here, what their future will be — Southard recently said he was “retired” from playing local shows, presumably relegating the band to fest appearances and other one-offs that might come up — your head will surely explode. Accept it. You never know with Solace. You never know. So all you can do is embrace what’s there on its own level or walk away, and if walk away, you’re missing out.

For all the changes The Brink brings about — don’t forget, more than half this band has never played on a Solace record before and we’re more than 20 years out from the group’s first release — its identity is unquestionable. Unmistakable. Unstoppable? You never know.

Solace on Thee Facebooks

The Brink at Blues Funeral Recordings Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Thee Facebooks

Blues Funeral Recordings website

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Solace: The Brink Preorders Available from Blues Funeral Recordings

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

New Jersey stalwarts-in-defiance-of-all-gods-and-all-sciences Solace — they of the broken bodies and suffering spirits — will release their first album in nine frickin’ years on Dec. 13. Titled The Brink, the 11-tracker is available now to preorder from Blues Funeral Recordings, which has decided to do us all a solid and get behind the release. Two vinyl versions available for the Tommy Southard in all of us — dude is a well-documented LP fiend; also beer — and a CD digipak if you prefer your discs of a smaller sort that can commune with lasers. You know I like me some lasers.

I was granted access to an early stream of the offering, and though there have been copious changes since their last time out, I assure you, this is still Solace. Their life-on-the-edge-of-oblivion — or, you know, a brink — style pulling together elements of thrash, hardcore, classic heavy and doom is unmistakable, and for the fact that they’ve turned over three-fifths of their lineup, they are and remain Solace. There is not and there never could be another to do what they do.

I’m gonna cross my fingers and hope to have a track premiere or some such with a review before the album is out, or maybe if I play my cards right I’ll get to give it the ol’ week-before-release-album-stream treatment, but until then, rest assured, your preorder investment will result in a Solace record. You couldn’t possibly call it anything else.

As posted by the band:

solace the brink

Ok friends, here’s the preorders for both vinyl versions & the CD version of our new record THE BRINK. These ship internationally so add to cart and check rates. We are super stoked about this record and can’t wait for y’all to experience it.

‘The Brink’ tracklisting:
1- Breaker Of The Way
2- Desert Coffin
3- Dead Sailors Dream
4- Waste People
5- The Light Is A Lie
6- Crushing Black
7- Bird Of Ill Omen (Remix)
8- Shallows Fade
9- The Brink
10- Until The Last Dog Is Hung
11- Dead Sailors Reprise

Dark Blue & White swirl Vinyl (limited to 100)
https://www.bluesfuneral.com/products/copy-of-solace-the-brink-us-limited-edition-gatefold-lp-on-translucent-aqua-translucent-sea-blue

Translucent Aqua & Sea Blue vinyl
https://www.bluesfuneral.com/collections/releases/products/copy-of-howling-giant-the-space-between-worlds-limited-edition-gatefold-lp-on-translucent-green-vinyl

CD Link
https://www.bluesfuneral.com/collections/releases/products/solace-title-the-brink-us-limited-digipack-cd

Solace is:
Tommy Southard – Guitar
Justin Daniels – Guitar
Justin Goins – Vocals
Mike Sica – Bass
Timmy Gitlan – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/SolaceBand/
https://www.facebook.com/bluesfuneral
https://www.bluesfuneral.com/

Solace, The Brink teaser

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Solace Premiere The Brink Album Teaser; Sign to Blues Funeral Recordings

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

The basic tracks are done (they posted the photo included here to celebrate), and New Jersey’s Solace are headed back into the studio in early August to mix. After that, mastering, then it’s on to Blues Funeral Recordings for release. It’s a fair enough signing on the part of the label, whose honcho, Jadd Shickler, once upon a turn-of-the-century worked with the band via his old imprint, MeteorCity. The reunion, as it were, will be centered around The Brink, which is Solace‘s first new album since 2010 and from which they’re sharing the first — obviously not final versions — audio in the teaser below. I had the pleasure of taking a couple of the pics included in the montage. That’s always nice.

I’m not going to say The Brink will definitely be out this year, because this is Solace and I know better, but even if it’s Dec. 31, I’ll take it. At this point I’m just happy to know it exists, it’s in the can awaiting finishing touches, and it’s got a home for a proper release.

That’s enough for today.

More to come as I hear it, and hopefully I hear it soon. Ha:

solace

From Blues Funeral: “In multiple decades of releasing music, Solace might just be the best band I’ve ever worked with, and probably the most under-appreciated. I nearly bankrupted my last label trying to shove their music down people’s throats, so having the chance to get back into severe debt behind one of the greatest metal bands of all time feels like coming home again. With Solace, you’re always on The Brink… of epic heaviness, drunken disaster, and probably financial ruin. There’s no place we’d rather be!”

Say Solace: “A few riffs from from forth coming album The Brink out later this year on Blues Funeral Recordings! Expect some healthy doses of Heavy 70’s Riff Rock, NWOBHM Riffing, Drunken Sea Shanties, Weighty DOOM, and a smidge of 90’s Noise. You’ve been warned….”

‘The Brink’ tracklisting:
1- Breaker Of The Way
2- Desert Coffin
3- Dead Sailors Dream
4- Waste People
5- The Light Is A Lie
6- Crushing Black
7- Bird Of Ill Omen (Remix)
8- Shallows Fade
9- The Brink
10- Until The Last Dog Is Hung
11- Dead Sailors Reprise

Solace live:
Sept. 20-22 Descendants of Crom Pittsburgh, PA
Sept. 29 Kung Fu Necktie Philly, PA w/ Backwoods Payback & Cavern

Solace is:
Tommy Southard – Guitar
Justin Daniels – Guitar
Justin Goins – Vocals
Mike Sica – Bass
Timmy Gitlan – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/SolaceBand/
https://www.facebook.com/bluesfuneral
https://www.bluesfuneral.com/

Solace, The Brink teaser premiere

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 19 (Maryland Doom Fest Special)

Posted in Radio on July 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

Yeah, I know, Maryland Doom Fest 2019 was like a month ago. Quit livin’ in the past and all that. Well, this show was supposed to air July 5, so whatever. It got pushed back because apparently July 4 is some kind of holiday now — what.ever. — and it was kicked down the line to two weeks later with re-runs on in the interim. Did anyone notice? Did anyone care? I did. But I’m glad to have had the chance to pay homage to MDDF one way or the other, since it was such a killer time and boasted a lineup of so many good bands.

Of course I had to lead off with Beelzefuzz and Foghound, two staples of the Frederick diet, and the show unfolds from there with new stuff from Zed and Lo-Pan and Kings Destroy amid the likes of Devil to Pay and Earthride and Backwoods Payback and Greenbeard. I made sure to put Solace and Freedom Hawk and Horehound and Toke and Witchkiss in here because their sets were particularly righteous — not to mention Year of the Cobra! — and in addition to representing the headliners in Conan, Mothership and Earthride, I had to include WarHorse since their reunion set was something so particularly special and such a huge part of the festival.

For those who didn’t hear the show, Gimme Radio runs the ‘Gimme Brigade’ which you can sign up for. I think it’s $5 a month or something like that, but you get access to their full archive and help them with hosting costs, etc., so fair enough. If you got to hear this one, thanks. If not, the basic point of the thing was that Maryland Doom Fest 2019 kicked ass, which I sincerely hope also came across in the reviews.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 07.19.19

Beelzefuzz All the Feeling Returns Beelzefuzz (2013)
Foghound Known Wolves Awaken to Destroy (2018)
Zed Chingus Volume*
Lo-Pan Savage Heart Subtle*
BREAK
Devil to Pay Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife Fate is Your Muse (2013)
Kings Destroy Yonkers Ceiling Collapse Fantasma Nera*
Earthride Vampire Circus Vampire Circus (2005)
Witchkiss Seer The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes (2018)
Year of the Cobra Cold Burn Your Dead (2017)
BREAK
Solace Khan (World of Fire) The Black Black (2007)
Backwoods Payback Whatever Future Slum (2018)
Toke Blackened Orange (2017)
Greenbeard WCCQ Onward, Pillager (2018)
Conan Battle in the Swamp Monnos (2012)
Apostle of Solitude Ruination Be Thy Name From Gold to Ash (2018)
The Age of Truth Come Back a God Threshold (2017)
BREAK
Horehound Dier’s Dirge Holocene (2018)
Freedom Hawk Danger Beast Remains (2018)
Mothership Midnight Express High Strangeness (2017)
Warhorse Lysergic Communion As Heaven Turns to Ash (2001)

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is Aug. 2. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2019 Pre-Fest, 06.20.19

Posted in Reviews on June 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest shod preparty poster

One could go on at some length about the legacy of the Stoner Hands of Doom Festival, which, like much of the pre-social-media universe, feels like part of some bygone era, when in fact the last edition was held in 2013. The Maryland Doom Fest 2019 pre-fest party — which I’ll only argue with because, really, when you have nine bands playing, that’s a festival one way or the other — was co-billed as SHoD XX in honor of the 20th anniversary of that fest’s first edition in 1999. Two of the bands on the evening’s bill were actually there in Virginia and Maryland on that weekend — Solace and WarHorse — but everyone who took the stage at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD, was a veteran of it one way or the other. Slow Horse and Tummler remain sadly unaccounted for.

SHoD traveled — that first Arizona lineup is legendary — but spent a few pivotal years in Frederick down the road at what used to be Krug’s Place, and in both mission and manifestation, there isn’t a better festival to inherit the mantle than Maryland Doom Fest, though at the same time, it’s never been so plain just how much MDDF has come onto its own and found its place among the wider festival sphere. The WarHorse reunion is a coup, but for the greater incorporation of Guido’s as a second venue and the expansion to four days, Maryland Doom Fest has expanded its reach across borders and styles in a way that has only added to and enriched its original purpose. Earthride headlining tied it all together as only they possibly could.

It was a 5:30 start and I rolled into the venue about half an hour before that. Already, familiar faces were in ample supply, and they’d only be more so over the course of the evening. I have the feeling it’s going to be that kind of weekend. Right on.

The night went like this:

After the Sun

After the Sun (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Along with Earthride and Solace (who were two for two at that point), Ohio’s After the Sun played SHoD in 2000, the same year they formed. They’d return in 2001 as well. Given their style, it’s pretty notable that they’re actually not from Maryland itself, as their traditional take on doom definitely seemed to have been born of an awareness of the likes of The ObsessedPentagramUnorthodox, and so on. After putting out an EP in 2001, they released their first full-length just last year in the form of a seven-song self-titled, and they served it well live, making a highlight out of “Delusion of Sanity” late in the set. They had a new short release, The Demise, out for the festival, and were solid, workingman’s doom rock, the guttural belt-out of vocalist Doug Perry recalling earlier metallic grit while the chug of Lance Collier‘s bass and Rob Perkins‘ guitar and the thud of Bryan Kaiser‘s drums provided suitable backing for such conviction. The fact that they’ve released more music in the last nine months than in the prior 17 years shouldn’t be lost, and one has to wonder what their future plans are with this feeling very much like a return set, on-stage altar and all.

Freedom Hawk

Freedom Hawk (Photo by JJ Koczan)

This band just rocks. It hasn’t been that long since the last time I saw them, and they were still one of the sets for which I was most excited. There’s no bullshit to Freedom Hawk. They’ve got the songs. They plug in and kick ass and then they’re done. Five records deep, they know they’re doing it right and they play with that conviction. “Blood Red Sky,” “Lost in Space,” “Solid Gold,” “The Darkness and the Light,” “Radar,” “Executioner” and “Indian Summer” made for a quick set that seemed even faster than it was, but the Virginia Beach four-piece very obviously made the most of their time. I still have “Indian Summer” stuck in my head, if that’s any indication. Freedom Hawk only played the final Stoner Hands of Doom in 2013, which was held in Richmond, Virginia, and saw fest-organizers Rob and Cheryl Levey hand the reins to Brendan Burns (who at the time ran the Eye of the Stoned Goat festival), but any excuse to have them in just about any lineup is cool as far as I’m concerned. They’re just doing a weekender around Maryland Doom Fest, but they absolutely brought it like they’d been on the road for weeks.

Weed is Weed

Weed is Weed (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Double-duty Sherman! And on guitar, no less! With Gary Isom playing drums! With the incense-burning bong-shaped mic stand present and accounted for, Earthride frontman Dave Sherman took the stage with the three-guitar riff machine Weed is Weed to bask in crunchy nodder vibes and, as they always seem to do, have a really good time. I’ve been lucky enough to see them a couple times now — always in Maryland — and I don’t think they’ve ever had the same lineup twice. Sherman playing guitar was a nice touch, and Isom‘s move back to drums (from guitar) was of course nothing to complain about either. They lurched into “The Bong Remains the Same” and the eponymous “Weed is Weed” and sundry other greatest hits, and the room was with them all the way. I don’t know if they’d get the same reception anywhere else, but at Cafe 611, they were home, and it was a family atmosphere all the way through. The lights were green, and by the time they were done, they only seemed greener. If the East Coast had the Pacific region’s same proclivity for using the word “gnarly,” Weed is Weed might be the standard by which that was measured.

Deer Creek

Deer Creek (Photo by JJ Koczan)

At some point early in the set, Deer Creek guitarist/vocalist Paul Vismara noted that it was the band’s first show east of the Mississippi River in something like 17 or 18 years, and he thanked all the bands who have played their native Colorado in the meantime because, as he put it, “that’s a long fucking drive.” I believe it. Vismara — currently working on cover art for the next Solace record — and fellow guitarist Conan Hultgren, who also ran Game Two Records — the first Sourvein, the Halfway to Gone/Alabama Thunderpussy split, releases from Pale Divine, Negative Reaction, etc. — led the four-piece through a round of massively-riffed tonal plunge, a noisy, sludgy aggression cutting through the thickness of Hultgren‘s and Paul Vismara‘s guitars and Stephanie Hopper‘s bass, set to roll from drummer Marc Brooks. Their late-2018 EP, Quisling, wanted nothing for atmospherics, and their live presentation had that same sense of open-space, but neither was the impact neglected, the band hitting hard and locking into raw doom and sludge with an abandon more willful than reckless and a focus on mood that no one else would touch for the remainder of the evening.

Devil to Pay

Devil to Pay (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I know Indianapolis’ Devil to Pay played SHoD in 2012, because I was there. It was the one in New London, Connecticut. They also played in 2004, 2007, 2009 (I was there, too), and indeed 2013, so with five appearances total, that makes them the most-SHoDded of the bands playing the first night of Maryland Doom Fest. Not a minor distinction, but of course they’ve done plenty since as well, making their debut on Ripple with 2013’s Fate is Your Muse (review here) and following it with 2016’s A Bend Through Space and Time (review here). They’re about due for a new record — though now sharing guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak with Apostle of Solitude (playing this weekend) as well as The Gates of Slumber — and indeed they had new songs called “Heave Ho” and “37 Trillion” in the set alongside favorites like “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife,” which seemed to fit well alongside their melodic, heavy and straightforwardly structured songs. Like Freedom Hawk, they’re rarely dug into frills of any kind, and it had been too long since I saw them, but they reminded of what a well-kept secret they are and gave me something to look forward to in their next record, whenever it might show up.

Wasted Theory

Wasted Theory (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Big news coming next week from Wasted Theory. I’m not going to spoil it, but it’s not a new record — according to drummer Brendan Burns that’s still in the “messing around with riffs” stage, and fair enough since they released Warlords of the New Electric (review here) just last year — but it’s big news. And cool news. You know, I don’t always get down with where Wasted Theory land in terms of theme and whatnot, but as I watched guitarist/vocalist Larry Jackson, Jr. lead the band — Burns, guitarist Andrew Petkovic, bassist Corey Pettingill — through the set, I thought back to the first time I saw them early in 2013, and the difference six years have made in their sound is huge. On every level in terms of songs and performance, they’re a more professional, realized band, and yeah, they should be with three full-lengths out, but it’s still striking just how far they’ve come and how much work they’ve put in to find their place in Southern heavy rock. They’ve locked into their niche and set about developing as players and songwriters, and despite lineup changes they’ve never done anything but move forward. Look out for that news this week and join me in being vicariously happy for the band when the time comes.

Solace

Solace (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Solace are chaos. So much chaos. From the about-to-fly-off-the-rails dual-leadwork of Justin Daniels and Tommy Southard to the fact that they had Danny Golin (Halfway to Gone) sitting in on drums for the set after only rehearsing with him twice, to frontman Justin Goins spilling all the beer, the New Jersey five-piece are barely able to be contained on a stage — and at Maryland Doom Fest, they weren’t; Goins definitely spent some time in the crowd. They started recording their new album a year ago, reportedly, and I’ve already put up I think more than one news piece about it being done, but indeed, the thing’s still in progress, but whatever they do, wherever they go, Solace bring that sense of punk-metal danger with them, and it’s not just about a threat of violence, though maybe that too, even in the one new song they played, but the material itself has this frenetic energy to it that pushes everything into the red — figuratively and literally in terms of the lighting in this case — and when their set was done, you could almost feel the crowd at Cafe 611 exhale the breath it had been holding while they played. Hey, Solace — finish the goddamn album already. The world needs more of this kind of destructive catharsis. Badly.

WarHorse

Warhorse (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Yeah, so I know Massachusetts’ WarHorse only have two shows booked — this and Psycho Las Vegas in August — but I’m going to tell you straight up that this reunion is going to have to be a real thing whether they like it or not. The offers are going to keep coming. As in: “start writing songs and get your passports ready.” Already on the lips of fest-goers since the start of the day, the trio of bassist/vocalist Jerry Orne, drummer Mike Hubbard and Terry Savastano laid waste to the room. If Solace were the bull in the china shop, WarHorse were the steamroller knocking over the building afterward. It was magnificent. I never saw them during their original run, but their lone LP, As Heaven Turns to Ash (discussed here), is the stuff of legend — especially in the Northeast — and within the first five minutes of “Horizons Burn Red,” it was obvious they need to keep going. The set was that, plus “I am Dying,” “Scrape,” “Lysergic Communion” and “Black Acid Prophecy,” and when they were done, people were shouting for more. Rightly so. You know how you’ve been listening to that record for all these years and thinking like, “Wow, this must’ve been amazing to see live?” Well, it still is. Tour, new songs, album, festivals, all of it. They sounded like a band ready to get their due.

Earthride

Earthride (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not sure how else you could hope to close out the night but with Earthride, who, again, tied together the spirit of Stoner Hands of Doom with Maryland Doom Fest perfectly. There was some problem early on with the bass rig, but it got worked out and after being introduced by drummer Eric Little‘s daughter — he looked pretty flabbergasted — they were off and rolling soon enough into the quintessential Chesapeake nod of “Something Wicked,” the title-track of their most recent album (review here), which came out in 2010. The intervening years have found vocalist Dave Sherman involved in Weed is Weed and the Spirit Caravan reunion that morphed into the current incarnation of The Obsessed, as well as other projects in the works and lineup changes in Earthride itself mostly in the bassist role — Greg Ball has handled guitar for the last several years — and true, they had the Witch Gun 7″ out in 2017, but even so, it’s time for a fourth Earthride album. I was dragging ass by the time they went on, but Earthride are kingpins of Maryland’s heavy underground and there’s nothing quite like seeing them on their home turf. As ever, I came out of doing so with no regrets whatsoever. They are a definitive band for what Maryland Doom Fest is all about.

It was, uh, late, when I got back to the AirBNB where I’m staying a few blocks away from the venue. I crashed on the futon in this room at about 2AM and was up before 7 thinking I needed to start making coffee and writing. Correct on both accounts. Today is another packed day — they all are — but it starts a little later, so I’ll see if I can’t crash for a bit this afternoon ahead of making my way over to Cafe 611 again. Also need to buy a toothbrush, so yeah, I think I’ll go do that. After I sort pictures.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Descendants of Crom III Preliminary Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

descendants of crom iii banner

The first lineup announcement from Pittsburgh-based Descendants of Crom III is a doozy. The headliners are apparently still to be announced — though would anyone complain if Solace or Valkyrie headlined a night? — but between them and the likes of IrataArgusBackwoods Payback and Foghound, it’s already shaping up to be a killer three-dayer this September. Awesome to see Sun Voyager on this bill and the likes of Void King and Fox 45 getting a look. Pale Grey Lore might even have their new record out by then — Solace too, for that matter — but either way, there’s a lot here to dig immediately, and of course for this kind of announcement that’s the whole point.

They’re selling early-bird tickets this month, so you know, get out that calendar and add another one to your already-absolutely-slammed festival schedule. It’s madness, but, you know, the good kind of madness. Here’s hoping the universe doesn’t collapse between now and then.

Thus-far confirmations follow, as per social media:

descendants of crom iii poster

DESCENDANTS OF CROM III – Announces 2019 Event For Sept. 20-22; Bands Incl. VALKYRIE, BACKWOODS PAYBACK + More!

– A GATHERING OF THE HEAVY UNDERGROUND –
– SEPTEMBER 20-22, 2019 –
– STEEL CITY, USA –

The third annual DESCENDANTS OF CROM will be held once again in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, spanning the weekend of September 20th. The PGH underground scene of heavy rock and metal is healthy and thriving and the location is perfect. Feeding great regional bands to a hungry crowd and serving up internationally legendary fan-favorites to entice music lovers in the door to experience these amazing local artists.

Descendants of Crom came out of the gates running with the first event in 2017, becoming a strong contender among other established regional music festivals. The 2019 events begin on Friday, September 20th, with a Pre-Gala evening at Howlers, followed by two full-day events on Saturday and Sunday at Cattivo.

Shy Kennedy has once again hand-picked and curated a beautiful mixture of acts for Descendants Of Crom III. While a few more updates will complete the lineup for the full schedule of events over the weekend, a most incredible roster of bands is included today. All are invited to become part of the experience at the 2019 Pre-Gala and Weekend Events!

After all, we are all DESCENDANTS OF CROM.

Remember to visit our site www.descendantsofcrom.com and to the official event pages on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/events/216035832675553

Lineup so far:
Solace
Valkyrie
Argus
Irata
Backwoods Payback
Enhailer
Icarus Witch
Brimstone Coven
Foghound
Kingsnake
Sun Voyager
Witchkiss
Leather Lung
Frayle
Tines
Spacelord
Pillärs
PALE GREY LORE
Lightning Born
NIGHT VAPOR
Pyrithe
Riparian
Fox 45
Void King
Official: COMA
Action Camp
White Alice
Old Dream
Motometer

https://www.facebook.com/DescendantsOfCrom/
www.instagram.com/descendantsofcrom/
https://www.facebook.com/events/216035832675553/
www.descendantsofcrom.com/Tickets.php
http://descendantsofcrom.com

Solace, Live at Descendants of Crom 2017

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Solace Complete Recording; Confirm Tracklisting for New Album The Brink (Broken Bodies & Suffering Spirits)

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

This is the second post I’ve made where it says Solace have finished recording their new album. Here’s the first. Sue me. Last time around, it was basic tracks that were done. This time, all the overdubs, vocals, solos, etc. are finished and the record, which might be called The Brink, or might be called The Brink (Broken Bodies and Suffering Spirits), or might be called Broken Bodies and Suffering Spirits, is ready to move onto the mixing stage. They’re slated to go back into the studio in March — if I’m in NJ when they go, I hope to be there for at least part of it — and work on that, but if you think that after nine years since they dropped the most excellent 2010’s offering, A.D. (review here), I’m going to be making any guesses as to how or when or what their new record is going to sound or look like when it’s done, you’re missing out on one of the great joys of Solace, which is their unpredictable, whirlwind nature.

This is also the second post where I’m including a tracklisting put up by the band for the album. This one has 11 songs where the last one had 10, and the difference is in a track called “Shallows Fade.” Could be nothing more than an interlude recorded when the overdubs were being done, or it could be an entirely new song they decided they couldn’t leave out. Again, you never really know, and that’s why it works.

Solace play New England Stoner & Doom Fest II in Connecticut this May. Here’s their update from the social medias:

solace

It’s official: 11 new tunes are finished. Just some minor tweaking and mixing and the new Solace album “The Brink” (Broken Bodies and Suffering Spirits) will be on its way to the masses!

It’s the last time we will be recording at this place. As of March first Trax East is officially sold and new owners are coming in and taking over. Been recording here since around 1991. It’s an end of an era…. gotta figure out how and where we will finish this new SOLACE record now….

1- Breaker Of The Way
2- Desert Coffin
3- Dead Sailors Dream
4- Waste People
5- The Light Is A Lie
6- Crushing Black
7- Bird Of Ill Omen (Remix)
8- Shallows Fade
9- The Brink
10- Until The Last Dog Is Hung
11- Dead Sailors Reprise

Hang in there and stay tuned!

https://www.facebook.com/SolaceBand/

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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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