The lineup is set for the two-day Days of the Doomed III fest out at The Blue Pig in Cudahy, Wisconsin, and it’s looking to be fairly monstrous again in 2013. June is a ways off, so obviously anything can change at any time, but hell, pretty much pick any five of the bands on this list, put them on a bill together, and it’s a show worth making a trip to see. Dream Death and Orodruin within the span of 24 hours of each other? Penance leading into Iron Man? Well, I guess you’re just gonna have to sign me up for that one.
A new trailer, put together by Kathy Reeves, has surfaced for the fest that gives a glimpse at the lineup and sets the tunes to, what else?, old public domain car crash footage. Awesome. Enjoy and here’s looking forward:
Posted in Radio on January 30th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Rife with unfuckwithable plod and thickened miseries, The Gates of Slumber this week unleashed five new tracks as a Scion A/V Metal-sponsored EP called Stormcrow. The collection, produced by Sanford Parker, feels even more weighted in the low end than did their last album, 2011′s excellent The Wretch (review here), and the Indianapolis-based trio have kept the ultra-despondent vibe of that record alive while expanding the scope a bit musically, crushing as much with tone as with emotionality.
“Death March” and “Dragon Caravan” retain the memorability of The Wretch, not so much relying on hooks to grab the listener’s attention as leaving an indent behind when they’re done. The louder the material on Stormcrowgets, the deeper that indent goes, but nothing The Gates of Slumber does feels excessive or wanting for authenticity. They have become the forerunners of classic American doom over the last several years, and while it’s easy to read Stormcrowas a victory lap, it’s also a next step in their ongoing development.
Even if the ultra-Vitusisms of The Wretchleft you wanting (which, if you heard them, they likely didn’t), guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon, bassist Jason McCash and drummer “Iron” Bob Fouts do the hard work here of making them more their own, closer “Of that Which Can Never Be” reminding of some of Paul Chain‘s desolation as filtered through Orodruin‘s last demo. Scion A/V Metal has made the EP available as a free download, which you can find at the link below, and the five tracks have also been added to The Obelisk Radio as of today. Doom on.
Posted in Features on December 9th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Please note: This list is made up of my personal picks, not the results of the Readers Poll, which is ongoing — if you haven’t added your top 11 to that yet, please do.
It was an impossible task to keep up with everything that came out this year. I’ll say flat out that I didn’t. There are records that I just didn’t get to hear, and I should note at the outset that this list is mine. It’s based on my personal opinions, what I listened to the most this year and what I think 2011′s most crucial releases have been.
I’ve spent the better part of this week (and last, if brain-time counts) constructing this list, and I finally got it to a point where I feel comfortable sharing. Since last December, I’ve kept a Post-It of names, and all year, I’ve logged bands I’d want to consider for the final top 20. In the end, there were 78 bands and more that I didn’t get to write down for whatever reason. 2011 was nothing if it wasn’t overwhelming.
But here we are, anyway, and it’s done. Let’s get to it:
This is nothing if not a sentimental pick. Last year, I put Electric Wizard in the #20 spot because the record wasn’t out yet, and this year, I’m putting Suplecs (interview with bassist Danny Nick here) in just because I couldn’t imagine this list without them. Until literally a few minutes before I clicked “Publish” on this post, there was someone else in this spot, but ultimately, it had to be them. The New Orleans trio’s first record in half a decade wasn’t what I listened to most in 2011, it wasn’t the best album, or the most important, or career-defining, but when it came right down to it, god damn, I was just happy to have Suplecs back. It had been too long.
After a while, I was kind of shocked to find myself continuing to listen to Favourite State of Mind, the second album by Polish rockers Elvis Deluxe. The record’s dynamics didn’t immediately open up to me, but once I dug into the songs, I was wowed by their balance of catchy hooks and substantial-sounding riffs. The album was genre-relevant without being genre-minded, with vocal changes, organ, atmospheric shifts and a whole host of moods and turns. After hearing their 2007 debut, Lazy, I wasn’t expecting much out of the norm from Favourite State of Mind, and I’m still thrilled by just how wrong I was, and “Take it Slow” is among my favorite single songs of the year.
The gloomy opening statement from former Warning guitarist/vocalist Patrick Walker turned heads around the world with its unabashed emotional conviction, which was so much the central focus of the record as to be made a novelty by those who don’t usually consider doom an emotionally relevant genre (the widespread arguments against that notion I’ll leave for another time). What most stood out to me about The Inside Room was how the sentimentality translated into a gorgeous melodic sensibility and resulted in a lonely mood that was engrossing. On that level, it was easily among 2011′s most effective releases. It made you feel what it seemed to be feeling.
It was an album that lived up to its name. Return to Earth marked the remaking of one of heavy rocks most stoned outfits: Acrimony. But, as Sigiriya (interview with drummer Darren Ivey here), the four-piece (down from five) would show that the years since the demise of their former band had found them progressing as musicians, resulting in a sound less directly stoner, more modern, more earthy. The songs, however, were what made it. It’s still a rare day that goes by that I don’t hum at least part of the chorus of “Mountain Goat” to myself, and if Return to Earth was a new beginning for these players, I can’t wait to see where they go next.
In addition to being Totimoshi‘s first album for At a Loss following the end of their deal with Volcom, Avenger was the first Totimoshi record since 2003′s ¿Mysterioso? not to be produced by Page Hamilton, and where 2006′s Ladrón and 2008′s Milagrosa moved away from some of the noisy crunch in the guitar of Tony Aguilar (interview here), Avenger managed to be both a return to form and a progression of the band’s melodicism. It seems, as ever, to have flown under most radars, but Totimoshi continue to refine their songwriting and have become one of the heavy underground’s most formidable and least classifiable bands.
With their 2010 EP release, upstart British trio Grifter informed us that The Simplicity of the Riff is Key, and on their self-titled Ripple Music debut, they put that ethic to excellent use, resulting in straightforward, catchy songs that were as high-octane as they were low-bullshit. The ultra-catchy “Good Day for Bad News” showed Grifter at the top of their form, and with a dose of humor thrown in, Grifter was the drunken stoner rock party you always wanted to be invited to and, of course, finally were. Now if only I could get Skype to work and get that interview with Ollie Stygall moving, I’d be happy to tell him personally he put out one of 2011′s most kickass rock records.
I don’t know what’s most impressive about The Book of Knots‘ Garden of Fainting Stars — the songs themselves or that they were able to make any songs at all. With upwards of 20 guest spots around the core four-piece, the third in a purported trilogy of records from the avant rock originalists was an epic in every listen. Songs like “Microgravity” and the Mike Watt spoken word “Yeager’s Approach” pushed the limits of both genre and expectation, and miraculously, Garden of Fainting Stars was cohesive and enthralling in its narrative aspect. If it really was their last album, it was triumphant in a manner befitting its expanding-universe thematics.
Had it been a full-length, Invisible White would be higher on this list. Many out there who were enamored of Ancestors‘ 2008 Neptune with Fire debut have gone on to bemoan the Californian collective’s shift away from extended sections of heavy riffing and tales of sea monsters and other things that go “doom” in the night. I’m not one of them. The Invisible White EP was a brave step along a fascinating progression, and as Crippled Black Phoenix didn’t release a new album in 2011, I was glad to have Ancestors there to fill that morose, contemplative void, and I look forward to seeing how they expand on the ideas presented on Invisible White (if they decide to stick to this direction) for their next full-length.
Speaking of shifting approaches, still-young Massachusetts trio Elder also moved away from the Sleep-centric methods of their 2008 self-titled debut on the follow-up, Dead Roots Stirring. Still based very much around the guitar work of Nick DiSalvo (interview here), Elder songs like “Gemini” and the über-soloed “The End” pushed an influence of European heavy psych into the band’s aesthetic, and the result was both grippingly heavy and blown of mind. As an album long delayed by mixing and business concerns, when Dead Roots Stirring finally arrived, it was a relief to hear that Elder, though they’d varied the path, were still headed in the right direction.
Hands down the year’s best traditional doom release. The Wretch so gleefully and so earnestly employed the conventions of ’80s-style doom — most especially those of Saint Vitus and Trouble — that even though the lyrical and musical content was miserable, I couldn’t help but smile as I listened. Songs like “Bastards Born” and “The Scovrge ov Drvnkenness” pushed The Gates of Slumber away from the barbarism the Indianapolis outfit had been touting on their last couple albums, including 2008′s Conqueror breakthrough, in favor of a more purely Chandlerian plod. “To the Rack with Them” remains a standout favorite and a line often referenced in my workplace dealings.
I don’t know what you say to someone at this point who doesn’t like Weedeater. It just seems like a terrible way to go through life, without the madman ranting of “Dixie” Dave Collins (interview here) echoing perpetually in your ears, or never having witnessed their ultra-viscous fuzz in person. Jason… the Dragon was one of the earliest landmark releases of 2011, and practically the whole year later, it retains its hold, whether it’s the stomping fury of “Mancoon,” the lumbering groove of “Long Gone” or the surprisingly melodic “Homecoming.” The hard-touring, hard-hitting band did right in recording with Steve Albini to capture their live sound, and Jason… the Dragon was their strongest outing yet in terms of both songwriting and that unmistakable quality that makes Weedeater records Weedeater records.
I was surprised to see Rwake crack the top 10. Not because their first album in four years, the Sanford Parker-produced Rest, wasn’t superb, but because of how much the songs on the album stayed with me after listening. The Arkansas band’s last outing, Voices of Omens, was heavy and dark and had a lot going for it, but Rest upped the songwriting on every level and together with frontman CT (interview here) adopting a more decipherable shout over most of the record’s four main extended tracks, Rwake felt like a band reborn, and theirs was a highlight among several 2011 albums that showed there’s still room for individual growth and stylistic nuance within the sphere of post-metal.
It was back and forth, nine and eight, between Rwake and Hull for a while, but when all was said and done, the fantastic scope of Beyond the Lightless Sky gave the Brooklyn triple-guitar masters the edge. With a narrative structure behind it and a breadth of ambience and crushing, post-doomly riffing, Beyond the Lightless Sky was the defining moment that those who’ve followed Hull since their Viking Funeral demo have been waiting for. In concept, in performance, in sound and structure and heft, it absolutely floored me, and of all the heavy records I’ve heard with the tag applied to them in 2011, Hull‘s second full-length seems most to earn the tag “progressive.” A stunning and groundbreaking achievement.
One of 2011′s most fascinating developments has been the boom in European heavy psychedelia, and the self-titled debut from French band Mars Red Sky was among the best releases to blend a jam-based sensibility with thick, warm fuzz and memorable riffs. Together with the sweet-hued vocals of Julien Pras (interview here), those riffs made for some of the most infectious hooks I heard all year on songs like “Strong Reflection” and “Way to Rome,” and where other bands jammed their way into psychedelic oblivion, Mars Red Sky were able to balance their focus on crafting quality songs, so that although they sounded spontaneous, the material was never self-indulgent or lacking accessibility. One just hopes they don’t lose sight of that musical humility their next time out.
There was a point earlier this year at which I had forgotten about All We Destroy. After reviewing it in March, I simply moved on to the next thing on my list, and the thing after, and the thing after. But before I knew it, in my head was the voice of Jackie Perez Gratz, singing the line “As I live and breathe” over her own cello, the guitar of Max Doyle and Max Doyle‘s drums. It got so persistent that, eventually, I went out and bought the record, because the mp3s I’d been given to review simply weren’t enough. That was probably July, and I don’t think I’ve gone a week since without listening to Grayceon. So although I classify it in the same league as Rwake and Hull in terms of what it accomplishes in and for its genre, All We Destroy gets the extra nod for the fact that I simply haven’t been able to let it go. And though I’ve come to further appreciate “Shellmounds,” “Once a Shadow” and “A Road Less Traveled,” the 17-minute “We Can” — from which the above-noted lyric is taken — remains the best single song I heard in 2011.
On paper, this one should’ve flopped: Band with minor buzz and a cool video hooks up with indie rock dude to record an album of dopey riffs and beardo bombast. Instead, Red Fang‘s second album and Relapse debut became the 2011 vanguard release for the Portland heavy underground, which is arguably the most fertile scene in the US right now. They toured the record widely, and made another killer video for the mega-single “Wires,” but the reason Murder the Mountains is top five material is because it’s lasted. It was February that I reviewed this record, and March that I interviewed guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles, and I still can’t get “Into the Eye” and “Hank is Dead” and “Number Thirteen” (especially the latter) out of my head. When it came down to it, the songs on Murder the Mountains lived up to any hype the album received, and I’m a sucker for quality songwriting. I mean, seriously. That key change late into “Number Thirteen?” It’s the stuff of the gods.
I wasn’t particularly a fan of Swedish rockers Graveyard‘s 2008 self-titled debut. Even watching them at Roadburn in 2010, I was underwhelmed. But when I heard Hisingen Blues and was able to get a feel for what the retro-minded foursome were getting at stylistically — and most of all, that they were acknowledging that they were doing it without being glib or ironic about it — I found the material irresistible. We’re getting into seriously indispensable records now; ones that I’ve been unwilling to leave home without since they came, in, and Graveyard‘s Hisingen Blues has been a constant feature in heavy rotation. Everything from the devilish testimony of the title-track to the wiry guitars of the chorus to “Ungrateful are the Dead,” to the Skynyrd-ified solo capping “Uncomfortably Numb”: It’s been a year of revelry in all of it, and since they overcame my prejudice to impress on such a level, Graveyard (interview with drummer Axel Sjöberg here) are all the more deserving of their spot on this list.
What I hear in the second album from Dutch trio Sungrazer is the heralding of a new generation of fuzz rock. Taking influence from their forebears in Colour Haze and Kyuss, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Rutger Smeets (interview here), bassist/vocalist Sander Haagmans and drummer Hans Mulders followed and surpassed their stellar 2010 debut on every level, playing heavy riffs on expansive psychedelic jams and still finding room for some of 2011′s most memorable choruses in songs like “Sea” and “Goldstrike.” In so doing, Sungrazer affirmed the character of next-gen European fuzz and placed themselves at the fore of their scene, with touring and festival appearances to support. For their warmth of tone and for the fact that I spent the better part of the summer streaming the record through the Dutch website 3voor12, there was no way they were going to be left out of the top 20. It wasn’t until I sat down and actually put the numbers together, though, that I realized how vital Mirador actually was.
I was lucky enough to be sent some rough listening mixes of Ohio outfit Lo-Pan‘s Small Stone Records debut (following a reworked reissue of their Sasquanaut sophomore full-length), and in my email back to label head Scott Hamilton, I told him I thought he had a genuine classic on his hands. A year, I don’t even know how many Lo-Pan gigs and listens through Salvador later, I still feel that way 100 percent. If you were from another planet, and we got to talking at a bar, and you asked me what rock and roll should sound like in the place where I’m from, I’d hand you Salvador. I still think they should’ve started the album with “Generations,” but if that’s my biggest gripe, they’re clearly doing alright. “Bird of Prey” was the best live song I saw all year, and I saw it plenty, and cuts like “Bleeding Out” and “Struck Match” set the standard by which I’ll judge American heavy rock for a long time to come. Like the best of any class, Salvador is bigger than just the year in which it was released, and at this point, I don’t know what else to say about it.
This is as good as it gets, and by “it,” I mean life. YOB‘s last album, 2009′s The Great Cessation, was my album of the year that year as well, and I knew from the second I heard the self-produced Atma that nothing to come this year would top it. Like Ufomammut‘s Eve in 2010, Atma brings the entire genre of doom along with it on the new ground it breaks, refining what’s fast becoming YOB‘s signature approach even as it pushes ever forward. I still have to stop whatever I’m doing (not exactly good for productivity) whenever “Prepare the Ground” comes on, and songs like “Adrift in the Ocean” and “Before We Dreamed of Two” were humbling. Seriously. Humbling. Listening to them was like looking at those photographs from the Hubble that cover trillions of miles that we’ll never know and reveal gorgeous colors where our naked eyes only see black. If that sounds hyperbolic, thanks for getting it. YOB guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt (interview here) is, almost in spite of himself, one of American doom’s most crucial contributors, and with Atma, he and the rhythm section of bassist Aaron Reiseberg and drummer Travis Foster released what is without a doubt the best album of 2011.
A few quick housekeeping items and we’ll call it quits. First, honorable mentions. If this list went to 25, also included would be The Wounded Kings, Earth, Larman Clamor, Olde Growth and The Atlas Moth. Roadsaw were also in heavy consideration, so they’re worth noting, as are many others.
Obviously, I couldn’t include them, but two of my favorite releases in 2011 also came from Blackwolfgoat and HeavyPink, and I’m thrilled and honored to have helped put them out in the small way I did.
And as I said above, there are records I didn’t hear. I haven’t heard the new Black Pyramid yet. Or Orchid. Or a bunch more that I could go on listing. I’m only one man and this is only my list, for better or worse. Again, I really do hope you’ll contribute yours to the group poll, the results of which will be out Jan. 1.
I’ll probably have some more to wrap up 2011 as the month winds down, but until then, thank you so much for reading this and the rest of the wordy nonsense I’ve put up the whole year long. Your support and encouragement means more than I’m able to tell. Here’s to 2012 to come.
Posted in Reviews on November 18th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
From what I understand, Brooklyn‘s Saint Vitus bar is significantly less convenient for those who actually live in the city, but for me it’s just great. It may not be built on top of a subway station, but I know how to get to Greenpoint with my eyes closed (though maybe I keep them open anyway when I’m in the Queens-Midtown Tunnel), and I’ve yet to see a show there that wasn’t worth the effort of driving in.
The place seems like a decent compromise between being completely inconvenient on one side or the other between those who live in the city and those who don’t, is what I’m saying. They need to invest in a grown-up lighting rig for the stage in back, but other than that, it seems to be developing into a cool spot and I hope it continues to do so. By the time I got over to Manhattan Ave. last night, I was champing at the bit to get to the venue. Somehow I’d gotten it in my head that it was an early show. It wasn’t.
I was there maybe 20 minutes ahead of the start of Mount Olympus‘ set, which wasn’t bad, considering the bar was already starting to fill up. This being just two days after watching Fu Manchu pack out Santos Party House in Manhattan, it was duly encouraging to see a crowd at Saint Vitus, but I guess I’m still not used to people being at these shows. It’s cool and all, and I’m glad more and more are coming out, but it catches me off guard every time. I always expect the place — wherever it might be — to be empty.
But as Mount Olympus got going, they had plenty of audience to high-five, and high-five they did. Guitarist/vocalist Michael Guggino, who helmed the band with a kind of Josh Homme-ian casualness, came down from the stage at several points to engage the crowd. The music varied from punkish tempos to stonerly riffs, and in their last song, Guggino and fellow six-stringer Dickie Spectacular hit up a classic metal solo duel that was a bit cheeky but still more on the side of charming than obnoxious. My inner 14 year old thought it was epic in the same way he wanted to go play Dragon Warrior. I can’t keep that kid interested in anything these days.
Among set regulars “Medusa,” “The Mountie” and “Old Yeller,” Kings Destroy also played three newer songs that apparently they also recently cut as a demo (which they’re in the process of finishing) for their next album. I’d heard “The Toe” a few times already, and it was starting to get familiar, which is always cool, but the set-opener “Dice” and the penultimate “He Who Hath No Name” — which also apparently has the working titles “Decrepit Old White Woman” and “Skullduggery of Tricks” — were totally new to me.
Obviously seeing them once in a live setting is no basis for an ultimate judgment one way or the other, but it seems like the band is starting to branch out, be a little more brazen in what they’re doing. Steve Murphy‘s vocals are more confident and farther-ranging, and particularly “He Who Hath No Name” (or whatever it winds up being called; hard to beat “Decrepit Old White Woman”) was more complex musically and in terms of mood. They’re growing and learning what works best for them and how they can development. It’s exciting to watch. As Murphy took his turn coming down from the stage, guitarist Chris Skowronski sang along to “Old Yeller” from the stage — and that seems like a small thing, but you’ll never see it among bands unless the players have a real appreciation for what each other are doing.
It was the last night of the tour for The Gates of Slumber and Premonition 13, and the former took the stage in workman-like fashion. Over the course of their last couple albums and as they’ve spent more time on the road, touring life seems to have lost some of its novelty for Karl Simon and company, but he, bassist Jason McCash and drummer J. Clyde Paradis still got plenty into what they were doing. The setlist was derived almost entirely from their latest album, The Wretch, which is nothing to complain about.
Songs like “To the Rack with Them” and “The Scovrge ov Drvnkenness” were high points, but the unabashed doom misery of “Day of Farewell” made the set. They may have become the road dogs of American trad doom — seeing them now as opposed to a couple years back is much more like watching a professional band play one in a series of shows — but there’s no denying the potency of the material. Compared even to when they rolled through earlier this year with Orange Goblin, the energy was down, but The Gates of Slumber impressed nonetheless. By the time they finished, the room was full, and it would only get more so for Premonition 13.
Having it on good authority that the hot sauces Premonition 13 were selling at their merch table were delicious, I tried to buy the plum one (there were plum, peach and habanero options), but they were out and I picked up a full copy of the CD instead to go with the promo I’d received to review back when the record came out. The songs from that disc were memorable at the time and proved all the more recognizable as the band got going, starting off with dual e-bow guitar introductions from Scott “Wino” Weinrich and Jim Karow.
In talking to The Gates of Slumber‘s McCash prior to his band’s set, he said that the two bands were sharing a van and that Wino and Karow just jammed all the time. He wasn’t criticizing. He was amazed. He said they had little battery-powered amps, and all they did was play guitar together. Well, watching Premonition 13 on stage, I believed it. Of all the players I’ve seen Wino work with in a live setting, he was the most comfortable and at ease with Karow by a mile. They were like two parallel lines standing on opposite sides of the stage. Of course, Wino has the legacy and pedigree behind him, but the simpatico there was palpable.
I don’t know who was playing bass (maybe someone can help me out on that?), but Karow, Wino and drummer Matthew Clark ran through a set of cuts from the 13 album and it wasn’t so much a surprise, but they killed. I snapped some pictures and then stood in back to watch them run through the start-stop stomp of “Clay Pigeons,” the classically moody “La Hechicera de la Jeringa” and the blistering “Hard to Say.” Seems redundant to make the point that it was awesome, but it was. Solos were tossed back and forth, and though it’s not the highest-profile project Wino has running currently — that would probably either be the supergroup Shrinebuilder or Saint Vitus, whose first album in 17 years is due in March — Premonition 13 proved that it has something unique to offer among the slew of other Weinrich-inclusive acts from over the years. Karow‘s lead vocal on the bluesy “Modern Man” made that abundantly clear.
The subdued “Senses” made for a surprising finish to the set, but sure enough, Premonition 13 weren’t really done. As the audience clamored for one more song, Wino explained from the stage that, since the band was born from jamming, they’d like to finish by just jamming out for a while. Karow started playing a riff and they did exactly that. People had begun to trickle out already, to the bar or beyond, but those who stayed were glad they did, and watching the wall of noise gradually build coming from Wino and Karow‘s Marshalls, I felt like I had a better sense of where the band was coming from than even from listening to their songs.
Premonition 13 begin a European tour this weekend, and if you’re in that part of the world (they’ll play with Trippy Wicked in London; not to be missed), consider the show recommended. With everything else Weinrich has coming up and the fact that the band seems to be driven more by his friendship with Karow than any real business concern, who knows when the chance to see them will come again? I don’t regret one bit taking advantage of the opportunity.
I wanted to stick around and talk to Wino, maybe nerd out a bit on the limited information I have as regards the Saint Vitus record and the Conny Ochs collaboration, but my well honed instincts on such matters told me that it was better to leave the poor man alone and keep my fanboy bullshit to myself, so I did that instead and drove back through Manhattan, waiting through about 45 minutes of Holland Tunnel traffic to get back to the valley and take out the recycling and the garbage — someone had conveniently placed a broken microwave on the kitchen floor in hopes that, one assumes, garbage fairies would come and remove it from there to outside in the trash can — at 2AM. Part of the sky was clear, but tiny flakes of snow were falling from what clouds there were, and I couldn’t help but wish for a blizzard, which as any meteorologist will tell you, is just doom dressed in white.
Extra pics after the jump. I know this was a long one, so thanks for reading.
A mere two weeks ago, I posted notice that the kind souls at the All That is Heavy webstore were having a mega-sale with discs and t-shirts at 25 and 50 percent off. I also confessed that I did this only after going in and solidifying my own purchase. Well, the box showed up Wednesday and I’ve been making my way through the goods ever since. Here’s what I picked up:
The Body, All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood Paul Chain “The Improvisor,” Cosmic Wind Church of Misery, The Second Coming (Diwphalanx reissue) Leif Edling, The Black Heart of Candlemass The Gates of Slumber, Villain, Villain 500 Ft. of Pipe, Dope Deal 500 Ft. of Pipe, The Electrifying Church of the New Light Masters of Reality, Pine/Cross Dover (American version) Mustasch, Parasite! OJM, The Light Album OJM, Under the Thunder OJM, Volcano Ponamero Sundown, Stonerized Raging Slab, Raging Slab (2009 Rock Candy reissue) Sgt. Sunshine, Black Hole Sin of Angels, In the Grip of Despair
Stuff like the 500 Ft. of Pipe and Mustasch I’d had my eye on for a long time. The psyched-up Fu Manchu fuzz of the former has been a delight long awaited. With The Body, I felt like I was finally giving into the hype, but at the sale price, decided it was now or never. Ponamero Sundown I wanted to listen to again before reviewing the new one and couldn’t find my old sleeve promo — apparently I’ve never heard of YouTube — and Masters of Reality I bought solely for the different label name on the side of the disc. It’s not the first time I’ve done that with them.
OJM I wanted to backlog since reviewing Volcano, and I included Volcano too because I didn’t have a full copy. The Raging Slab I very much enjoyed last night after work, imagining what new wave/no wave New Yorkers must have thought of them busting out those songs in 1989 and seeing the old pictures of drummer Bob Pantella, now of The Atomic Bitchwax. Sgt. Sunshine‘s a little stranger than I expected, but still pretty cool, and listening to it now, I think I might’ve already owned this Sin of Angels CD.
The rest I haven’t gotten to yet, but it’s worth noting that even with the drastically slashed prices, Dan and Melanie — the above-noted kind souls — included a freebie in the form of Black Materia, by Black Materia, which is rife with Anathema-style sorrow and metallic melody, in addition to being a Final Fantasy reference. Dig it.
The sale’s still on, but I don’t know for how long or anything like that. Hopefully I’ll have time to recoup some funds for another round before it ends, but even if not, I think I did alright the first time. If you missed the link above, check out the list of goods here.
Posted in Features on July 1st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well, that’s another TFFH down. Of course, I haven’t heard every record that’s come out in the last six months — I feel like half of them I’m still waiting to review (Ulver, Zombi, etc.) — but I’ve done the best I can to get through as much as I can, and that’s where I stand. Here’s the list one more time, all together:
The Top Five of the First Half of 2011:
1. Lo-Pan, Salvador
2. Graveyard, Hisingen Blues
3. Red Fang, Murder the Mountains
4. Weedeater, Jason… the Dragon
5. The Gates of Slumber, The Wretch
It’s been a really strong year so far, and like I said at some point, there were records I reviewed in the last two weeks that could easily have been on the list. I’m thinking of Elvis Deluxe and The Book of Knots there, but honorable mention certainly also goes out to Olde Growth, Premonition 13, Earth, Roadsaw, Dark Castle, Sourvein, and plenty of others. There never seems to be any shortage of killer records.
Hope you enjoyed reading these posts, and in case you didn’t see, Gaia from Number of the Blog started a list thread on the forum, so if you haven’t yet, feel free to drop by and let everyone know your picks. You can always leave a comment here too. Those are welcome, and either way, thanks.
Lots to come in the rest of 2011. I just read in the latest Alone Records newsletter that Viaje a 800 will have a new record out before the end of the year, and that was killer to find out, and of course there’s stuff like YOB and Dixie Witch too that should hit pretty hard when it lands. Here’s looking forward to the next thing.
Posted in Features on June 22nd, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
The Gates of Slumber‘s first album with drummer J. “Cool Clyde” Paradis, The Wretch gathers eight despondent tracks of potent traditional doom that demonstrate quite clearly why the Indianapolis trio have garnered their reputation as one of the best American acts going in the genre. Their last two records, 2008′s Conqueror and 2009′s Hymns of Blood and Thunder, were the band’s breakthrough, but with The Wretch, they cut the tempos and were able to put across a minimal, miserable atmosphere, epitomized in the woeful guitar and vocals of Karl Simon.
Balance that with a depth of songwriting that made cuts like “To the Rack with Them” and “The Scourge ov Drvnkenness” as effective on a structural level as they were in terms of ambience, and flat-out, The Wretch just ruled. Simon, Paradis and bassist Jason McCash were able to keep the barbaric feel of their prior to albums while also inflicting their melancholy on listeners, and of all the doom I’ve heard so far into 2011, none of it has been quite as doomed as The Gates of Slumber. It’s not just about being loud, or just being heavy, but it’s the downtrodden spirit driving the songs.
That feeling can’t be faked, can’t be a put-on, can’t be bullshit. You’re either in it or you’re not, and The Gates of Slumber pulled it off with a sincerity and honesty that was matched by the fact that the material also rocked. The Wretch has plenty of time to prove its merits over extended listens in 2011, but more than that, I expect its timeless doom will satisfy for years to come. If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s not too late.
Posted in Reviews on May 30th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the crowd this past Friday at Santos Party House, knowing that a few of NYC‘s usual suspect-type show-goers had made their way down to Maryland Deathfest, which was also running this weekend, but by the time Orange Goblin went on, the place was packed, and even for Kings Destroy, who opened the night up at around 7:45PM, there was a good, eager crowd happy to soak up as much doom as possible.
In that regard, Kings Destroy completely delivered. I know I’m nowhere near impartial when it comes to these guys, having released their (fucking excellent) And the Rest Will Surely Perish album on The Maple Forum (the band still has copies for sale here), but they just keep getting better. Their new bassist was right in the pocket, and of all the times I’ve seen them, I don’t think drummer Rob Sefcik has ever sounded better. He kept the pacing of the songs down and gave Chris Skowronski and Carl Porcaro‘s guitars plenty of room to breathe, but still hit heavy and clean on the toms, adding no shortage of thunder to the proceedings. You could feel the air move.
They had one yet-unnamed new song on offer, which was their closer, and though vocalist Steve Murphy later told me they played it too fast, the track had a cool, later-Sabbath vibe that sat well next to album cuts like “XXY” and “The Mountie.” I dug it, anyway, but I guess that was bound to happen. Kings Destroy groove like few are bold enough to do in New York, and I’m even gladder to call them friends than I am to plug the hell out of their record every chance I get. They’re only getting better.
It was kind of a funny circumstance, but I’ve only been to Santos Party House twice now (this show and when Weedeater came through in February), and Brooklyn psych outfit Naam played both shows. The trio — who are on most if not all of the tour with Orange Goblin and The Gates of Slumber — had a synth organist on stage with them, and it really filled out their sound. They said he was doing a couple shows as part of the band, and Naam are a force on stage anyway, but this put them in a different league altogether, with guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lugar‘s tone being excellently complemented and filled out by the sustained organ sounds.
And as regards Naam, I can’t think of another way to say it: bassist John Preston Bundy has one of the best doombeards in NYC. That thing is good, and he clearly knows it. As Naam wound down their set with the epic title-track from their Kingdom EP, his vocals complemented Lugar‘s and the resultant swirl was even more visceral for the organ sounds. Naam was probably the odd band out among the three doomier acts on the bill, but if it bothered them, they never let on, and the hometown crowd — which unless I’m mistaken included a few family members who gathered around for pictures after their set — ate it up. I don’t think there was anyone there who needed convincing, but if there was, they were duly convinced.
I had been looking forward to seeing The Gates of Slumber since picking up their newest installment, The Wretch, at Roadburn and reveling in its doomly snail’s pacing. When last I saw them, it was in the small room under Webster Hall, and they were good then, but there’s no denying guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon is completely in his element rocking out mournful total-doom songs about drinking and losing at life. They were killer. Hard not to hoist a claw or two to such rampant musical misery.
The material from The Wretch was some of the strongest they played — that’s not to discount the impact of “The Ice Worm’s Lair” — and new drummer “Cool Clyde” Paradis has a clearly natural ability to play slow and still make it sound heavy. Between him and bassist Jason McCash, Simon had formidable backup, although maybe that’s underplaying their roles in the band a bit, since each third of the trio brings so much to the whole. Either way, their songs managed to sound empty and minimalist and still without actually being boring or inaccessible, and they showed that their latest lineup is their strongest yet.
And then, after three already killer sets, there came Orange Goblin. The foursome had been wandering through the crowd for most of the night, back and forth between backstage and the bar, the can, etc., and they came out introduced by AC/DC‘s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).” Santos was long since packed out, and it was more of a party (as the name of the venue would suggest) than a show by the time they were a few songs in. The songs from Orange Goblin‘s last album, 2007′s Healing Through Fire, went over especially well — “They Come Back” and “Harvest of Skulls” being high points — but even through classics like “Cozmo Bozo” and “Aquatic Fanatic,” frontman Ben Ward had the crowd eating from his hand.
There was a mosh pit, if a friendly, old-school-metal, “let’s all bump into each other and not throw punches,” one, and a single diver took the stage no less than four times, singing along with Ward and even once trying to grab the vocalist’s beer, which was where the line seemed to be drawn. As it’s become my motto for existence, “Some You Win, Some You Lose” was a special boon, guitarist Joe Hoare putting the song’s awesome main riff to good use for the crowd singing along to Ward. There was a three-song encore of “Time Traveling Blues,” “Quincy the Pigboy” and “Scorpionica,” all of which sent the audience apeshit, though maybe a little less so for the former, which is a slower cut. Nonetheless, Orange Goblin were amazing the whole way through.
It had me thinking back to the last time they were in town, in 2006 with Scissorfight at thenow-showless Continental, and how even though they’ve only been back to the US once since then (for the Planet Caravan fest in North Carolina in 2009), their reputation has grown enormously. I recall the Continental being crowded, but nothing like this. Santos is a much bigger room, and it was full, so there’s no doubt the last couple years have brought well-spread word on their unique and boozy brand of mayhem. All the more exciting, then, to think what they’ll be able to accomplish with their next album. Ben Ward called the NYC show a “life-changing moment,” and maybe it was.
Orange Goblin was nonetheless headed south to Maryland Deathfest and then out for more shows with Naam and The Gates of Slumber, so once it was over, it was over. Someone suckerpunched Tommy Southard from Solace outside the venue, perhaps out of jealousy of Solace‘s last album, A.D. (which was my pick of the year in 2010), but I didn’t stick around to watch the drama unfold if there was any. With a long-enough drive back to Jersey, some late-night empanadas and subsequently my humble river valley ahead, I split out for the car, rife with the kind of energy only a really, really good night can provide.
I know this was a long one, but if you’re still reading, thanks for that. More pics after the jump.
Posted in audiObelisk on May 27th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
As ever, I thank Walter and the Roadburn crew for their generosity in allowing me to host the links to the official streams from Roadburn 2011. As we Americans get ready to celebrate Memorial Day, I can think of few better complements for a barbecue than The Machine‘s Hendrixian take on heavy jamming, or, as the evening wears on, drinks are imbibed and fists are raised in triumph, Black Pyramid‘s doomy gallop. And, of course, just in case the universe comes to a crashing end (as my work email account just did), there’s Ufomammut playing Eve in its entirety for sonic complement. You can’t ask for more than that. From life. But there’s more anyway, so enjoy the aural hubris:
These and all Roadburn audio streams were recorded by the vigilant Spacejam team headed by Marcel van de Vondervoort (also of ass-kicking rockers Astrosoniq), so if you see him, please say thanks for all the hard work. Roadburn 2011 took place April 14-17 at the 013 Popcentrum in Tilburg, The Netherlands. If you’d like to read more than you could ever possibly want to read about it, click here.
Posted in Features on May 23rd, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
For anyone who’s ever heard Indianapolis doomers The Gates of Slumber, it’s not exactly a revelation that guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon is a fan of genre gods Saint Vitus, but when I heard their latest album, The Wretch (review here), it was easy to see it went well beyond that. Lots of people like bands. This was something more.
As such, I knew that in asking Simon to compile a list of his five favorite Vitus tunes, he’d come back with some interesting choices, and sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed. Here are his picks, complete with accompanying audio:
5. “The Troll”
“I’ve been down so long, I cannot see, anyway out of me…” What more needs to be said, really? The grizzled riffing and the tale of a depressive man locked in a feedback loop. The second verse explains why the loop exists; the third brings it home: “Bats and worms are my friends; they’ll stick with me till the end… down here I am my own man…” and a nihilistic Chandler tremolo solo. Wino‘s vocal performance on this song is one of his best. Basically a blues jam which Vitus did a lot, only it’s way fucked up. I identify with the lyrics so god damned much sometimes. It pains me.
4. “Shadow of a Skeleton”
Okay, so a lot of “fans” have a real problem with the C.O.D. record. Well, I have a problem with those fans. Attention posers: not one weak track on this record. In fact, in many ways this record is, in my eyes, a return to the feeling and production values of the early days, only with the addition of some guitar harmonies. And oh yeah, one of the best singers in the history of metal is wailing all over this record. This song has a bulldozer riff that just boggles the mind and makes me want to ruin my neck; Armando‘s drumming is fucking brutal; classic lyrics about a fucking reanimated skeleton coming after your ass…. what more do you want?!
3. “The End of the End”
I am totally obsessed with this riff. The best song Wino ever sang on in my opinion, and the best one that Vitus did with him! I love the pitch shifted vocals and the syncopated drumming. The environmentally aware/anti-nuclear power/war lyrics paint a potent and timeless picture that is just awesome. I love that it has no chorus as well, only the beak down that leads to the solo. Vitus had this weird habit of saving off their most potent songs for EPs… which was a dirty trick, I think! But I love it. Thirsty and Miserable is a must have just because of this song, and Walking Dead speaks for itself.
There is something about this open wah guitar tone that makes me want to throw things at the wall. The circular riff and Reager‘s demon wail. So goddamn good. And then the bass and drum break with Mark Adams taking it for a walk. The Iron Maiden influence is so clear here! It’s just a potent and short burst of energy. I do have to say that The first three releases by Saint Vitus had some real unique magic to them that just can not be equaled by anyone.
1. “The Psychopath”
Essentially, what we have here is a fairly standard blues formula, but goddamn if it isn’t totally taken in the most obscure and odd direction. Chandler is abusing his wah pedal the whole fucking time. Reager’s, owning it… again. How people can not like his voice is so strange to me, but whatever. A song about the M.K. Ultra experiments gone awry. But the real treat here is the main solo break. There are a few leads that really stick out for me, and this is my favorite. Four minutes into the song it starts, nice and melodic… and Chandler is not given credit for that! If Kurt Cobain is a genius then Dave Chandler needs a thousand times that credit. At 5:40, the airplane flanged shred turns into these sick and emotive bends that always give me the chills. It’s a shame that “metal” people in 1984 were totally too weak to have possibly gotten this band. But then things worked out pretty fucking well…. You can spend your life thinking about thing things that could have been. Fact is there were a thousand limp thrash bands and horrid butt “metal” bands out there, but only one Saint Vitus. And 31 years later nobody but nobody cares about Seduce or Viking or whatever… not even the dudes who were in the fucking bands. SaintVitus ruled them then and rules them now.
Posted in Reviews on May 5th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you thought you were glad Saint Vitus is back together and touring, your joy can’t possibly compare to the trad-doom revelry on Indianapolis trio The Gates of Slumber’s fifth album, The Wretch (Rise Above/Metal Blade). A self-acknowledged “return to form” for the band, The Wretch is dark and almost equally weighted emotionally as it is tonally, and the songs deal with a range of pains both existential and physical, but one can’t help but feel in listening that for guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon, bassist Jason McCash and newfound drummer J “Cool” Clyde Paradis, there isn’t a bit of the proverbial “pig in shit” happening as well. It’s hard to pull of doom this good without knowing how much you love Sabbath, Vitus, Pentagram, Trouble and the rest of the genre’s forebears.
Doubtless the addition of Paradis as replacement for “Iron” Bob Fouts (now of Apostle of Solitude) is part of what has allowed The Gates of Slumber to make a stylistic turn from the barbaric metal of their last two breakthrough offerings, Hymns of Blood and Thunder (2009) and Conqueror (2008), and Simon himself agrees in his liner notes. Paradis handles the slow material excellently, accenting the riffs and playing off McCash’s bass with both power and fluidity, and given his apparently propensity for touring, I’d be hard pressed to call him anything less than a perfect fit for what The Gates of Slumber are doing on The Wretch. As someone who had to see the band live before really understanding the appeal of their albums, it was always the doom side of their sound I enjoyed the most (big surprise), and so the eight songs here, even the shorter, faster cuts like “To the Rack with Them” and “Coven of Cain,” are a welcome shift toward the downtempo, beyond the melancholic and into the truly depressive.
For Simon and McCash, that’s the aforementioned return to form, but it’s worth noting that although The Wretch may tread ground The Gates of Slumber have covered before (as have many others), the album is hardly more redundant than is called for. Simon pulls out his best Wino impression on the “I Bleed Black”-esque opener “Bastards Born,” but rather than think of it is a ripoff or something being passed off as original, it’s so obvious an homage and so clearly heartfelt in its tribute that I’m completely along for the ride from the start. And for what it’s worth, The Wretch sounds fantastic. The album was produced by Jaime Gomez Arellano at Orgone Studio in London, and there’s just the right balance of separation between the instruments and cohesion of the album as a whole. McCash’s bass tone is a constant high point – again, something that factors in right away on “Bastards Born” – and Simon’s vocals are balanced well in the mix, clearly displaying his growth as a singer, but not at the cost of pulling attention away from the Iommian riffage on “The Scourge ov Drunkenness.”
Whatever speed the song, The Wretch maintains its heft, and clocking in at a well-rounded 55:55 (who’s counting?), it can be a lot to take in a single sitting. Seriously. Even if you go in for traditional doom and gloom, there’s a lot about The Gates of Slumber’s material here that’s just hard to take. There isn’t so much a monstrous plod to the grooving progressions as there is a hopeless skulk. It comes in the second half of “The Scourge ov Drunkenness” (does it ever) after the opener and is contrasted by the more rocking “To the Rack with Them,” but it’s never completely gone from the atmosphere of the album. Paradis seems to keep that feel to his playing despite any tempo changes, and where some drummers might inject needless fills into transitional riffs and start-stops, he sits back and allows Simon and McCash’s contributions the necessary breathing room. “To the Rack with Them” is all the more effective owing to this. The song is neither showy nor silly, and it seems to be coming to a halt in each alternating riff cycle of its verse, so that even with the quicker tempo, it maintains its downer sensibility.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
It took me a while to catch onto Indianapolis doomers (they’re almost too big to be called “doom” at this point) The Gates of Slumber, but now, watching them make good is both refreshing and reaffirming that there is life out there for this scene. Before the ink on their latest album, Hymns of Blood and Thunder is even dry, the trio, which includes a new drummer, are on the road with Cathedral and already talking about a follow-up, which is set to be recorded in the UK this month.
The PR wire had plenty to say on the subject:
The Gates of Slumber will enter England’s OrgoneStudios with producer Jaime GomezArellano (Ghost, AngelWitch) later this month to lay down tracks for their forthcoming new album. The follow up to the Indianapolis trio’s critically acclaimed LP Hymns of Blood and Thunder will see a Spring 2011 release via Rise Above Records.
The Gates of Slumber recently announced the addition of new drummer, “Cool Clyde” Paradis into their ranks. A New Orleans native and Hurricane Katrina survivor, Paradis joins The Gates of Slumber hot off stints in Sourvein, Substance Abuse and the New Orleans blues act T-bone and The Rhythm Makers.
“The new music is taking on a more troglodyte doom metal feel,” The Gates of Slumber frontman/guitarist Karl Simon. “With Clyde now in the band, the feel of things was bound to change; he’s not only a different drummer, but from a totally different school of thought with regards to the drums. It’s no secret that Saint Vitus‘ shuddering doom crawl was the root that inspired this band and we’d both felt that over three albums we’d taken the raw epic feel as far as we could. Now, it’s time to get back to basics, shed some of the bulk and get ugly again. No warriors this time, no acoustic guitars, no keyboards, no lofty Nietzschean ideals. Just black bile and a bit of the old “White Magic/Black Magic.”
The Gates of Slumber are currently in the midst of a European tour as hand-picked support for legendary doom rockers, Cathedral. The trek will run through 11/20 in Paris, France. Additionally, the band have been confirmed as one of the featured acts for the 2011 Roadburn Festival, set to take place April 14-16 in Tilburg, Netherlands.
The Gates of Slumber tour dates:
11/11 Pratteln, Switzerland Z7
11/12 München, Germany Backstage 11/13 Pinarella di Cervia, Italy Rock Planet
11/14 Rome, Italy Init Club
11/17 Madrid, Spain Heinekin
11/18 Barcelona, Spain Razzmatazz 2
11/19 Belfort, France La Pouderie
11/20 Paris, France La Nouveau Casino
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Here’s to the weekender. Friend of the working band, boon for the fanbase and in some cases, the only time anyone not in a given act’s locality ever gets to see them. That’s not the case with Indianapolis doomers The Gates of Slumber, but I’m nonetheless going to take advantage and check them out as they swing East this coming weekend, new drummer in tow. Ever vigilant, the PR wire has this:
The Gates of Slumber has announced autumn US tour dates in support of its critically-lauded albumHymns of Blood & Thunder. The Indianapolis power trio will kick off the string of shows on Oct. 14 in Richmond, VA, and will perform in Baltimore, Brooklyn, NY, and Pittsburgh over the course of the short run of dates.
The upcoming tour dates will also serve as the introduction of The Gates of Slumber’s new drummer, “Cool Clyde” Paradis. A New Orleans native and Hurricane Katrina survivor, Paradis joins The Gates of Slumber hot off stints in Sourvein, SubstanceAbuse and the New Orleans blues act T-Bone and the Rhythm Makers.
The Gates of Slumber tour dates: 10/14 Richmond, VATriple Triangle Lounge
10/15 Baltimore, MD SidebarTavern(* As part of Defenders of the Old fest w/ Revelation, AcidQueen, October31, etc.)
10/16 Brooklyn, NY Union Pool(w/ Hour of 13)
10/18 Pittsburgh, PA 31st Street Pub
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 13th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
I was on some other stoner rock blog or site somewhere the other day (really, I don’t remember which one it was), and I saw something that called Indianapolis — from whence The Gates of Slumber hail — the new hotbed of American doom. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think The Gates of Slumber and Apostle of Solitude are just ducky, but come on. Really? I’ll maybe grant you that the Midwest in general has a vibrant and developing crop of bands, but I don’t think 20 years from now we’ll be talking about the Indiana scene with the kind of reverence with which we now speak of Maryland. Maybe I’m wrong.
Whatever the case, The Gates of Slumber are headed west for a run of dates that will take them into June, playing with the likes of Slough Feg and the ubiquitous Black Cobra. The tour is sponsored by All that is Heavy and Hellride — not The Obelisk, thanks for asking — which this poster confirms:
Posted in Reviews on January 18th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
The deal was basically that I was going to drive back from Maryland to catch one of two shows, though even as I made my way out of Sparks where I’d been staying, I wasn’t 100 percent sure which. Short story shorter, Pentagram in Philly won out over Mighty High/The Brought Low in Brooklyn, and given the events to be detailed in the second part of this review, I’m glad it did.
We’ll get there.
I’d never been to the Starlight Ballroom before, but its name being so similar to Jersey‘s own Starland Ballroom, I was perhaps prejudiced against it from the start, even if only on a subconscious level. Any regular attendees out there should be well familiar with pre-made excuses for being an asshole. Well, there’s another one.
Serpent Throne was on when I walked in, the native instrumental stoner act chosen from out of the ether to open the show. It was early, around 8:30, and the place was mostly empty. The Solace guys were hanging out in the crowd, The Gates of Slumber too. Both bands waiting their turn to kick ass as the audience grew in number and intoxication.
In the second part at least, I also count myself. And though it started innocently enough with living the High Life, all smiles and laughs and appreciation for what was to take place on the stage, by the time The Gates of Slumber were finished and Pentagram were getting started, my buzz had morphed into that special kind of belligerence and nastiness that’s both embarrassing and shameful. I was at the show with a friend whose patience I’ve tried far more times than intended. It’s hard to be an asshole.
I’m getting ahead of myself. When Jersey natives Solace were on stage, it was still the land of smiles and good times. As ever, Solace were amazingly heavy, the double guitars sounding massive through the surprisingly large Starlight Ballroom, and Keith Ackerman‘s destructive force on the drums not to be forgotten. It wasn’t the best I’d ever seen them (though if you asked me what was, I don’t think I’d have a specific answer; likely it occurred in a smaller room), but they gave a great showing as few bands can.
All the while, more beer. Hadn’t been my original intent to drink myself to a point much past sobriety, but I did, and while The Gates of Slumber were on stage, once again impressing is a way that I’m beginning to see more and more as their own, I and my compadre began handing out fliers for a show of our own back in Jersey that’s coming up. Seems simple enough.
We went outside and put them on cars, came back in and put them on tables, etc. Normal flier protocol. By the time The Gates of Slumber finished, the word had been spread. Soon, shortly after Pentagram went on, a young woman in a Kill Hannah hoodie (minus points) came up to my friend holding several of the fliers and said, “Are these yours?” He said they were, and was promptly told that we couldn’t hand them out inside the building because they advertised another venue.
Sounded like bullshit to me. And even more right then. I’ll cut to the end (in no small part for my own sake) and say I didn’t make enough of a scene to get kicked out, but having paid $25 for a ticket and already spent over $100 on beer and merch, leaving some pieces of paper around at the show didn’t seem too much to ask, especially when the “other venue” being advertised was more than two hours away from the Starlight Ballroom. But you know, some situations just don’t call for being a dick.