Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Been a while since we last heard from occult-minded Houston heavy rockers Venomous Maximus, whose stage presence still lingers in my consciousness from when I was fortunate enough to see them last summer. Presumably they’ve been at work crafting the follow-up to 2012’s Beg upon the Light (review here), reportedly dubbed Firewalker, and like any potion worth brewing, these things take time. Not that you were necessarily going to, but you know what I mean.
They did a similar run last year, but for the Texan four-piece, this upcoming round of dates in August is marked out by an appearance at the pre-show for the Gwar-B-Q in Richmond, Virginia, which will be headlined by some band called The Black Dahlia Murder and which also features moody RVA sludgers Gritter. Not a bad spot to wind up.
The PR wire has it like this:
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS Announces U.S. Tour Dates
Houston Dark Metal Band Putting Finishing Touches on New LP Firewalker
Texas heavy metal band VENOMOUS MAXIMUS has announced a string of east coast U.S. tour dates set to kick off on August 7 in New Orleans, LA. As part of the major market jaunt, the award-winning band will perform as part of the 2014 GWAR-B-Q on August 15 in Richmond, VA, also set to feature Ice-T’s Body Count, Hatebreed and more. The upcoming live dates are as follows.
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS U.S. tour dates:
August 7 New Orleans, LA Siberia August 8 Birmingham, AL Upside Down Plaza (w/ Stoned Cobra) August 9 Atlanta, GA The Basement August 10 Johnson City, TN The Hideaway August 12 Baltimore, MD TBA August 13 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus August 14 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie (Late Show) August 15 Richmond, VA Broadberry (Gwar B4BQ w/ Black Dahlia Murder)
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS features Gregg Higgins (Vocals, Guitar), Christian Larson (Guitar), Trevi Biles (Bass) and Bongo (Drums).
Having had occasion to see Texan cult metallers Venomous Maximus this summer at Days of the Doomed III — you might say that’s my ogre-paw wrist and hand at bottom left in the screen-grab above — I can tell you from experience that they’re a band who put genuine effort into their presentation. They celebrated the Napalm Records release of their debut full-length, Beg upon the Light(review here), by going on tour in June around the aforementioned fest, and they brought along photographer Ray Traboulay to make sure it was all properly documented. The results of that partnership between band and camera have been compiled together into a new picture video for the song “Dream Again (Hellenbach),” which I have the pleasure of premiering below.
“Dream Again (Hellenbach)” is one among a slew of catchy high points of the gleefully debauched Beg upon the Light. Guitarist/vocalist Gregg Higgins is at his most commanding, and along with guitarist Christian Larson, bassist Trevi Biles and drummer Bongo Brungardt, Higgins wields a careful balance of classic metal and heavy rock influences, the band winding up indebted to Judas Priest and other NWOBHM axe heroes en route to territory usually reserved for Coven worshipers and preachers of vaguely Sabbathian seance. That blend, in combination with an electric performance ethic, was what helped their reputation spread quickly and garner not just label attention, but a fervent critical and audience response to the album.
Texas hasn’t been short on riffs since ZZ Top were in diapers, but Venomous Maximus bring a spin to their approach that comes off less genre-adherent and more multifaceted than most and than it might at first seem. If you haven’t yet had the chance to get introduced to their classic metallurgy and lunatic swirl, “Hellenbach” makes a hell of a first impression, and Traboulay‘s live shots are an excellent companion to the otherworldly sensibility in the music.
In the PR wire info under the clip, Higgins and Traboulay give some background on the project and the theories that went into it. Please enjoy:
Venomous Maximus, “Dream Again (Hellenbach)” picture video
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS Debut Photo-Video – Announce Contest
Beg Upon the Light Out Now on Napalm Records
The Texan Dark Heavy Metal outfit VENOMOUS MAXIMUS has already risen to the status of a heavy hitter in the depths of the underground. This was showcased with the release of their debut album Beg Upon The Light earlier this year via Napalm Records. The album is available for purchase oniTunesandAmazon.
Today the band has released what they are describing as a “photo-video”. The “photo-video” is set to the song “Dream Again (Hellenbach)”. With this “photo-video” VENOMOUS MAXIMUS have started a contest to see who can share and spread the video the most online. The winner will be determined by whomever gets the most shares of their Facebook post or Tweet. The winner of the contest will receive a VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, T-shirt, CD, LP, trucker hat, patch and buttons.”
What exactly is a “photo-video”? Photographer and artist Ray Traboulay who is responsible for the project explains:
“VENOMOUS MAXIMUS is an “experience” or “state of mind” as opposed to a band. Photographing them proved to be an extremely fluid process as our collective energies aligned with ease.
Capturing their Spiritual energy and inserting it aesthetically into the photograph was achieved through multiple exposure and shutter drag photographic techniques as well as sensing their Kinetic energy seep into my pores. My initial thoughts and emotions after viewing them for the first time were hard to categorize.
After recently photographing Carnival in Trinidad and having an appreciation and respect for the pagan past, I was naturally drawn to them where their lyrical subject matter touch on these occult topics in their own manner.
I hope these photos do justice to the band’s live performance and convey to viewers to the best of my ability what they encompass as individuals and collectively once they hit the stage as a four piece. Once on stage they become a different beast incorporating spiritual elements of The Holy Mountain, Asian Mysticism, Deepak Chopra, and King Diamond are fused together to form their unique brand of Occult Rock. Infectious, big hooks and relevant subject matter in their lyrical make up…. they’ve got it all as far as modern rock and metal goes, not to mention down to earth and charismatic folk as well.
This is the central axis of Houston’s finest and is a band you want to look out for if you have not already and a band that should be best observed on a full moon.”
Frontman Greg Higgins commented on the photo video as well:
“Hopefully one day we will be able to see and understand things the way Ray captured us in these photographs. Ray has a way of making his photographs where it makes you wish you were there. Even if you’re in the photo it looks better than you remember and makes you want to go back to it.”
It was a really, really busy weekend. I’m glad to say I did actually get to stand still for a bit and watch each of the 19 acts performing at Days of the Doomed III at The Blue Pig in Cudahy, Wisconsin, but I was just as likely to be parking myself somewhere to pop open the laptop or back and forth in front of the stage taking pics.
At one point, one of the dudes working at the venue said to me while I had the computer open, “You’re supposed to be enjoying yourself, not working.”
And it occurred to me that this is how I enjoy myself.
A 20-minute break between each band didn’t leave much wriggle room to go searching for the perfect shot of each band and still give the actual set the clacky-clacky it deserved. As such, I wound up with a lot of photos, and since I wouldn’t have time to include them in the actual live-blog posts (day one and day two), it only seems fair to give them their own post.
Below — with setlists when I could get them — you’ll find pictures of Iron Man, Penance, Venomous Maximus, Kings Destroy, Lucertola, Moon Curse and Gravedirt from day one, and The Gates of Slumber, In~Graved, Dream Death, Pale Divine, Earthen Grave, Leather Nun America, King Giant, Spillage, Chowder, Beelzefuzz, Gorgantherron and Whaler from day two.
Posted in Features on June 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
06.21.13 — The Blue Pig — Cudahy, WI
4:24PM: Welcome to Cudahy, Wisconsin. Were I one of the homeowners living on the residential street off the corner where The Blue Pig is located, I’d probably already be pissed. I’m not, though. I’m here for the show. Hence, doom on.
The venue — kind souls — gave me the wifi password, so over the course of tonight and tomorrow I’ll be updating live with words and pics from the Days of the Doomed III fest. Tonight, the lineup features Gravedirt, Moon Curse, Kings Destroy (go hometown heroes), Lucertola, Venomous Maximus, Iron Man and Penance. The show kicks off in about half an hour and there’s the usual pre-fest milling about, plus a DJ spinning the usual suspects — Pantera, AC/DC, etc. — drinks at the bar and already a cool vibe in the air. I’m looking forward to seeing how the night plays out.
I’m sitting in the back by the merch area, but judging by the people rolling in, it looks like I’m going to have to find a different spot to set up shop, so that might be an adventure, but I’ll do my best to make it work. Long night and day tomorrow ahead, but I’ve got a doomburger — yes, it’s a special at the Best Western — in my gut and spirits are high. Let’s do this thing.
5:39PM: Nothing to dive headfirst into a night of riffs like some low-end-centric, extreme sludge. Native Milwaukee trio Gravedirt do it muddy. The snare was cutting through high in the mix, but beyond that, they slung ooze like they meant it, bassist Chris Cottreau adding low, death metallic growls over top (or at very least, buried within) that reminded me almost immediately of earliest, pre-psychedelic Zoroaster. Within that, their stuff was straightforward and they seemed to be getting their bearings in on stage, but they had a lot going for them and by the time they were finished, I had forgotten it would still be light out when I turned around and looked out the window, so I guess that’s saying something. A heavy start to what seems like it’s going to be a heavy evening.
6:37PM: Another local trio, Moon Curse had a sound that almost couldn’t help but be their own. Guitarist/vocalist Matt played through a custom rig on a custom guitar, drummer Keith brought his own kit and let loose his swing-heavy grooves in front of the riser, and bassist Rochelle anchored the lumbering riffs with thoroughly weighted runs. They hovered mostly around traditional doom riffing, but every now and again, they locked into a marching plod that showed some awareness of Red Fang or even High on Fire‘s second-gear moments. Matt kept his vocals mostly clean, and I suspect that much of what they played came off their recently-released self-titled vinyl, which they’re selling here in a number of editions. I may or may not get the chance to pick one up, but they impressed all the same and out of the two bands who’ve played so far, I’ve found two whose work I’ll look forward to following from here on out.
7:55PM: Some high order horror vibes permeating Lucertola‘s set, driven forward at a doomly crawl by the dual guitars of Tad Leger (also Blood Farmers) and Zack Breiman, the latter of whom tossed off fuck-you-up leads at a whim and broke his strap during the first or second song. Otherwise, the young six-stringer made hard shred look easy while Leger held down rhythm lines alongside bassist Chris Konys. I had meant to see them a while back in Philly, so they were something of a must to catch at Days of the Doomed III, and while they were still pretty clearly sorting out their material, they ended strong and had some potent chugging lines along the way, not lacking in classic atmosphere or doomly vibing, tossing in some variety (just enough) and keeping people hooked with a cover of Witchfinder General‘s “Burning a Sinner” that was greeted with universal welcome.
9:08PM: Not sure if I’ve ever seen Kings Destroy so much live up to their name. It’s terrifying how good these guys have gotten, from the flow they build during a set to their tones, to how they all slam together at the end of “Turul” and the time changes it brings. Fucking terror, I tell you. I wasn’t sure if they were going to break out “Turul.” Early on, it seemed like they were sticking to some of the earlier, first album stuff, rather than the A Time of Huntingmaterial, which is more diverse-sounding — they were sticking to the doom as befitting the occasion, in other words. But not only did they play it, they closed with it, using it to follow up “Blood of Recompense” in a one-two punch of gloriously heavy oddness. I’m hardly an impartial source, but god damn, I fucking dig this band. “Planet XXY” and “Medusa” were pleasant surprises, but really, the whole time, they were tighter than one generally thinks of doom as tight and showed that you can play heavy, downer music and still not lose all life from the performance.
10:14PM: It’s hard to argue with a professional presentation. And now having seen them live, any question I might’ve had about how Napalm Records came to pick up Houston four-piece Venomous Maximus has been answered. It’s easy: They saw them live. From “Path of Doom” to “Give up the Witch” to the grandiose ending of the finale “Hell’s Heroes,” Venomous Maximus were a pro job all the way. Stage costumes, their own lighting — they even brought their own photographer! The songs were no less dead on for the band being so aesthetically focused, though, and having experience with their Beg upon the Light full-length and the prior The Mission EP, the songs came right back, delivered with power and finesse and a raucousness all their own. I’d have signed them too. It would be foolish not to. If these dudes can get out and tour, their ascent could be quick. They brought the audience with them for a run through powerful riffs and over-the-top metal that was self-aware but not at all ironic. Again, it’s hard to argue.
11:36PM: Filling in for vocalist Lee Smail, who couldn’t make it to Days of the Doomed III, Brian “Butch” Balich (who’s wrapping a new album with Argus) took the frontman role for Penance‘s set. They opened instrumentally, bassist Richard Freund, drummer Mike Smail and guitarist Terry Weston, and were joined shortly thereafter by Butch, whose presence was announced by launching into “Words Not Deeds.” Hell of an introduction. Butch wouldn’t be the only guest, either. Several songs in — “Monster I’ve Become” and “Reaching” among them — guitarist/vocalist Brian Lawrence came out for a few from 1992’s The Road Less Traveled. “A Wayfarer’s Tale” was perhaps the highlight of the whole set, but I won’t discount either when Butch came back out and they closed out as a five-piece with “Misgivings” off the same album. I knew when I saw the band with Smail at Roadburn that this would be their crowd, and it was. Penance received a hometown-esque welcome at The Blue Pig, and proceeded to earn it with crunching tones as doomed as the emotionality both Balich and Lawrence brought to the vocals. I considered myself lucky to have seen them once, so to do it twice in a matter of months with three different singers, all the more so.
1:12AM: Somehow it always seems to be Iron Man rounding out all the doomliest evenings. Only fitting, I guess. Tonight the Maryland — vocalist Dee Calhoun, in a Ravens jersey, said they were from Baltimore tonight, D.C. other nights — stalwarts gave Wisconsin a taste of classic riffing the likes of which it probably hasn’t had since, well, since Days of the Doomed II last year. Tonight they were showing off new material from the forthcoming South of the Earthfull-length. Cuts featured included “The Worst and Longest Day,” the extended “A Whore in Confession” and the title-track, which the band put next to the title-track from I Have Returned, maybe for a bit of symmetry, maybe not. Calhoun and guitarist “Iron” AlMorris III command a lot of attention, but the rhythm section of bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason Waldmann sounded especially on tonight (Strachan added some wah on “A Whore in Confession” that was a nice touch), and the band seemed most gelled of all on the new material, which was encouraging for the results on that album whenever it surfaces. As ever, Iron Man closed out with “Black Night” from the classic 1993 album of the same name, but the crowd wouldn’t let them go when they were done, so they followed it with “Run from the Light” from I Have Returnedand capped day one of Days of the Doomed III with a fitting summary of what I take away as the whole idea behind the fest: Good people, good riffs, good times. You won’t hear (or read) a complaint out of me. Tomorrow we go again.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
In my ongoing and inevitably-doomed-to-failure quest to be somewhat less than 100 percent behind on absolutely everything, this news about Venomous Maximus touring that I now present to you came down the PR wire yesterday. The Texas metallers, signed as of March to Napalm Records, have announced a round of dates to herald a July 2 reissue of their 2012 full-length, Beg upon the Light (review here), and included is a stop at Days of the Doomed III on June 21 in Wisconsin, where they’ll join the likes of Dream Death and In~Graved in riffly demolition at The Blue Pig outside Milwaukee. Good fun.
So sayeth the PR wire:
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS Announce North American Tour Dates
Debut Album Beg Upon the Light Out July 2nd on Napalm Records
The Texan Dark Occult Metal outfit VENOMOUS MAXIMUS has already risen to the status of a heavy hitter in the depths of the underground. Now, the band is ready to finally unleash their album debut Beg Upon The Light. The album will be released in North America on July 2nd via Napalm Records. Today the band has unveiled the tracklisting, which includes three bonus tracks.
In support of the new release, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS will be hitting the road this May and June. The tour sees the band playing select shows with Royal Thunder, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Valient Thorr amongst others. A complete list of dates can be found below.
Singer Gregg Higgins has a message for fans coming out to the shows: “Hide your daughters and bring a crucifix!”
Beg Upon the Light is full of heavy riffs and driving drums, which create the perfect foundation for the musical and lyrical direction of the songs, which bring the enthralled listener into the realm of the Occult! The Texans turn the mix of Stoner and Doom Metal into a deadly blend that goes right into your blood. Pounding and powerful songs filled with energy set the stage for the glorious vocals of frontman Gregg Higgins, the grand marshal who leads through these occult hymns Beg Upon the Light combines occultism, heavy riffs and the perfect Stoner attitude to create a pitch-black and irresistible album.
Tracklisting: 1.Funeral Queen 2 Path of Doom 3. Give Up The Witch 4. Father Time 5. Dream Again 6. Moon Child 7. Battle for the Cross 8. Venomous Maximus 9. Mother Milk 10. Hell’s Heroes 11. The Mission (Bonus Track) 12. The Rider (Bonus Track) 13. The Gift (Bonus Track)
Venomous Maximus Live: 5/18 – College Station – Stanford Center – Loudfest! 5/24 – Austin, TX – Mohawk – w/ Dillinger Escape Plan, Royal Thunder, Ancient VVisdom 5/25 – San Antonio, TX – Fitzgeralds w/ deadhorse 6/18 – Little Rock, AR – Downtown Music 6/19 – Nashville, TN – The End w/ Windhand 6/20 – Indianapolis, IN – Indy Jukebox w/ Devil To Pay 6/21 – Milwaukee, WI – Blue Pig Bar – Days of Doomed Fest 6/22 – Chicago, IL – Reggies w/ Valient Thorr 6/24 – Cincinnati, OH – The Comet 6/25 – Johnson City, TN – The Mecca 6/26 – Atlanta, GA – Purgatory 6/27 – Birmingham, AL – The Bottle Tree w/ Stoned Cobra 6/28 – New Orleans, LA – Siberia w/ Holy Grail
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
We’re just 10 days out from the fist-ever Bayou Doom Fest, set to take place May 11 in Houston, Texas, with a killer lineup of native and regional acts who run a gamut of heaviness from the thrashing Warbeast all the way to the heavy rock of Orthodox Fuzz with no shortage of doom in between. I know Las Cruces have been working on new material — they’ll also play Doom in June 3 in a couple weeks — so maybe they’ll have something on tap for the setlist, and with Wo Fat just back from Europe and Mothership just off the road with Gypsyhawk, you know these guys are going to deliver an awesome night.
Details came down the PR wire:
Warbeast and Venomous Maximus to Headline Inaugural Bayou Doom Fest
Presented by the Houston Doom Brigade, the inaugural Bayou Doom Fest, to be held at Fitzgerald’s in Houston, TX on May 11, 2013, will be headlined by DFW thrash-masters Warbeast and Houston’s occult metal kings, Venomous Maximus. The show marks the first time that Warbeast and Venomous Maximus have shared the stage since a run of shows in January supporting the legendary Down. The show will also be Warbeast’s first since returning from a successful tour supporting GWAR and Venomous Maximus’ first hometown appearance since signing to Napalm Records. Making the festival even more special is the fact that it will be a free event for those 21 and up ($10 under 21).
Joining Warbeast and Venomous Maximus on the bill are psychedelic fuzz rockers Wo Fat (fresh off appearances at Roadburn and Desertfest), Maligno (Mexico), Sanctus Bellum (Houston), Mothership (DFW), Las Cruces (San Antonio), Project Armageddon (Houston), Orthodox Fuzz (DFW), and Serpent Sun (Houston).
Houston Doom Brigade Presents: Bayou Doom Fest I Saturday, May 11, 2013 Fitzgerald’s 2706 White Oak, Houston, TX Doors, 5:00 – Show 5:15 Free for 21+ (under 21: $10)
Warbeast (Housecore Records) Venomous Maximus (Napalm Records) Wo Fat (Small Stone Records) Mothership (Ripple Music) Las Cruces (Brainticket Records) Maligno Sanctus Bellum Project Armageddon Orthodox Fuzz Serpent Sun
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The band let the news out earlier, but the PR wire makes it official: Texas metallers Venomous Maximus have joined forces with Napalm Records, who will reissue the band’s previously self-released Beg upon the Light(review here) come this summer ahead of a new studio album for 2014. Congratulations to the band, who will also put in an appearance at Days of the Doomed III this June, perhaps right around the time Beg upon the Light gets its second look.
That release date is still to come, so stay tuned for more on that and on Venomous Maximus‘ next effort. Until then, the news is good:
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS signs with NAPALM RECORDS, prepare summer release
Today, NAPALM RECORDS announces the signing of Texan doom occultists VENOMOUS MAXIMUS. The label will be releasing the band’s debut album, Beg Upon the Light, worldwide this summer, with their first new album for NAPALM slated for 2014. Says vocalist/guitarist Greg Higgins, “We are pleased to announce that we’ve signed with NAPALM RECORDS. They are going to release Beg Upon the Light this summer and another new full-length we are working on in 2014. All of this comes to a surprise, because this project was meant to be something that no one would ever hear about. So as time went on and we started to be successful, we always agreed to do everything ourselves, to keep it our way. The only way we were ever going to work with anyone was if we knew they were dedicated to worship the past as we were. Now that we are here with NAPALM, we will continue to create this hidden message. But with their help, they will be revealing this to the masses, and we are okay with that now. Because of the records we first created only for ourselves will be released with everything we dreamed from the beginning, destiny has come for us to work with NAPALM RECORDS. Our hearts are in Texas but our souls come from Europe. Now having a family in Europe that takes care of the land where we arose, our spirits fly, where we are able to focus on the beautiful.”
Adds Sebastian Muench, A&R for NAPALM RECORDS, “Sometimes, very seldom, you get the chance to discover a band that brings back the same feelings you first had when you listened as a teenager for the first time to Metallica’s Ride the Lightning or Black Sabbath’s Paranoid – you just know you’ve found something very magical and you are hooked for life. VENOMOUS MAXIMUS is such a band, and and we are thrilled, excited, and tremendously honored to call them part of the NAPALM family.”
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 Reviews on November 15th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
The sound that Houston-based four-piece Venomous Maximus capture on their Beg upon the Light full-length debut is a Frankenstein’s monster of influence. Here and there, one gets flashes of NWOBHM gallop in the guitars of Gregg Higgins and Christian Larson, that, combined with Higgins’ trad metal vocal style brings to mind a modernized version of Pagan Altar or some such cult curio. Theirs is heavy metal thunder, no doubt about it, and while some of the “occult” elements on Beg upon the Light (out, by no coincidence, on Occulture Records) feel like a put-on, there’s a genuine sense of atmosphere underlying the dudely thrust and all the talk of witches and “What name is this carved in my body?” The record is dark, as one might expect from its name, the band’s name (though it actually comes from G.I. Joe), the artwork, the song titles, etc., but also accessible musically in a way that reminds a bit of the horror rock that the Misfits once made seem so dangerous even though it was essentially pop songwriting sped up. Venomous Maximus’ prior EP, the self-released The Mission (review here), was by no means rudimentary, but one gets a clear sense of development in listening to Beg upon the Light, whether it’s the guitars, vocals, the bass work of Trevi Biles or the drumming of Bongo Brungardt, whose grounding effect seems at points to be the roots from which the album’s memorable hooks spring. Higgins proves a strong vocalist as the intro “Funeral Queen” gives way to “Path of Doom,” his approach straddling the line between semi-spoken and dramatic heavy goth metal wailing. They take elements from the genre, but more than they’re doom or singularly anything else, Venomous Maximus are a metal band, and these songs bear that out. With crisp production and flourishes of organ on “Funeral Queen” – it’s the first thing you hear on the album – and the soon to follow interlude “Father Time,” which also boasts spoken word vocals and acoustic guitar – violin on closing duo “Mother’s Milk” and “Hell’s Heroes” and a rich variety of vocal arrangements – a few guest spots persist there as well – the album never veers close to redundancy of method, and yet there’s a pervasive sense of cohesion throughout, heard as early as “Give up the Witch” follows from “Path of Doom” that underscores the professionalism at work throughout these tracks.
“Give up the Witch” is a highlight, and also likely among the oldest material here included, since Venomous Maximus made their debut with a 7” single of the same name. Still, if it has wear and tear for the band having trudged it through the last couple years since they got together, it doesn’t show. One of the strongest hooks plus one of the strongest riffs equals one of the strongest songs – it’s a pretty easy formula. Higgins lets out a couple screams as he backs himself on vocals, and the guitars behind showcase a touch of the extreme as well. More than enough to qualify as dangerous. Yet an overlying groove remains, and in that, “Give up the Witch” does even more of the work in setting a course for what follows than did the opener. Larson and Higgins bust out classic riff after classic riff, so that you’re through “Father Time” – curious to place your interlude two tracks after your intro, but it works in the overall context – and into “Dream Again (Hellenbach)” and the ensuing “Moonchild” (not a King Crimson cover, though part of me hoped for a dramatic reinterpretation) in the center of Beg upon the Light before you even realize the considerable amount of momentum the band has amassed. With 10 tracks and a runtime just under 46 minutes, the album is right in line with what one commonly thinks of as “full-length,” but it moves remarkably quick from one cut to the next, keeping a strong flow while not sacrificing a sense of the songs as individual pieces. “Dream Again (Hellenbach)” culminates with well-mixed interplay between the two guitars and formidable thud from Brungardt, and when Higgins says, “Everybody,” urging an imagined crowd to join him on the final chorus, it’s emblematic of the accessibility at the root of what Venomous Maximus are doing. There’s an audience for this kind of metal, they know it, and that’s who they’re reaching out toward. The push continues on “Moonchild,” which features guest spoken vocals, more strong screaming, and the begging question, “Why did the gods have to make us this way?” backed by mounting chants in the bridge, offering one of the most dramatic moments of the album.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
The PR wire sends along word of a new full-length from Texas-based Venomous Maximus, whose 2011 EP, The Mission(review here), provided horrific thrills. Even on that release, they skirted the line between heavy rock and metal, so it should be fun to see how the groove and the shred play out over the course of a whole record.
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS to Release New Album “Beg Upon the Light” on October 30, 2012
Texas occult metal band VENOMOUS MAXIMUS will release its new album Beg Upon the Light on October 30 via Occulture Records. The award winning group recorded at Origin Sound in Houston with a head space described as “somewhere between a Alejandro Jodorowsky film and a New Orleans voodoo den.” Beg Upon the Light‘s striking cover art was designed by artist Dann Miller and builds on the band’s ever-evolving thematic that involves, among other things, magic, alchemy, extra-sensory perception and astrology; wide-eyed themes that lay “on the outermost fringe of accepted forms of knowledge and discourse.” This is some heavy shit, people.
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS is one of the most successful metal bands to emerge from Houston in years, beloved of headbangers and headbanging blogs from across the U.S. and points beyond (maybe even astronauts). Since its formation in 2010, the group has become the go-to metal band in the country’s third-largest city, winning back-to-back titles at the Houston Press Music Awards as the Space City’s “Best Metal Band” and has shared the stage with the like-minded Mastodon, Pentagram, Saint Vitus, The Sword, Graveyard and more. Now, with the release of Beg Upon the Light, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS is ready to show the world that its reputation precedes it for a reason.
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS’ sound combines intense, unabashed metal riffing that locks into heavy rock grooves featuring interjected dual leads and surprisingly darkened atmospheres. Add to it the distinctive voice of towering front man Gregg Higgins and his unorthodox, unsettling tone, unholy sinister laugh and unchained lyrics described as “primal psychomagic”, detailing “paths of doom”, dying witches, moon worship, haunted graveyards and travel through space and time, and the speed of the band’s bat out of hell success becomes surprisingly clear.
When asked to describe the band’s sound in eight words or less, Higgins replied “Dark, Chrome, Leather, Snuff, Smoke, Sweat, Death, Apparitions.” When asked to comment on the new album, the singer arcanely answered: “It’s something you can’t describe with words. You’re either born hearing it or not. When it finally has a mind of its own, the best you can hope for is that it will keep talking to you.”
Beg Upon the Light track listing: 1.) Funeral Queen 2.) Path Of Doom 3.) Give Up The Witch 4.) Father Time 5.) Dream Again (Hellenbach) 6.) Moonchild 7.) Battle for the Cross 8.) Venomous Maximus 9.) Mothers Milk 10.) Hell’s Heroes
Posted in Reviews on February 7th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Texas has a long history within the heavy underground, whether it’s ZZ Top casting a heavy Southern influence for the likes of Honky to take as gospel or Solitude Aeturnus reaching into the depths of doomed emotionality and emerging with one of the genre’s most formative approaches. Houston-based Venomous Maximus are a kind of one-band melting pot. On their 2011 12” EP, The Mission (Cutthroat Records), the double-guitar four-piece bring together old and new, brash and foreboding, to result in a stew that’s remarkably their own. From the cover art, one might expect something in league with the likes of Doomriders, and I suppose there’s a bit of that thrash to a song like side A’s “The Rider,” but the gallop in the riffs of Christian Larson and Gregg Higgins feels more culled from Iron Maiden via High on Fire, and Higgins’ vocals – often doubled – are more trad doom and harder to place specifically. It’s a nuanced blend across The Mission’s four component tracks – “The Mission,” “The Rider,” “The Gift” and “Wicked Ways” – and it might take a few listens for the full breadth to reveal itself, but the way the songs touch on and reference other bands’ works without ever being fully derivative of them justifies both time and effort.
Presented on a gorgeous purple platter, The Mission also comes with a CD version called MMIX-MMXI that includes Venomous Maximus’ two-song debut 7”, Give up the Witch/The Living Dead. Even so, the whole thing accounts for a little over 26 minutes and 17 of it belongs to The Mission proper, so it’s a quick listen and the band adhere to pretty straightforward metallic structures, making the songs accessible as well as fast. Stylistically new school in a kind of post-Mastodonic punk, the title-track launches with forward push on the upper end of mid-paced, like doom sped up and energized without losing sight of its bluesy base. The rhythm section of Trevi Biles (bass) and Bongo (drums; duh) do well behind Larson and Higgins’ guitars, setting a bed of groove for interjected leads and adding to the sometimes surprisingly darkened atmosphere. The artwork might be part of it, but something in Venomous Maximus feels darker than the music would be on its own otherwise. Higgins’ vocals play to it as well. He laughs in horrific and metallic triumph in “The Rider” and tops the solos with a drama that’s stylized without undercutting the seriousness of the music. His contributions in terms of singing – which still feel rudimentary in comparison to the potential they show for growth given subsequent studio experience – are the band’s closest tie to doom or traditional metal. While “The Gift” starts off with a bombast that reminds distinctly of Through the Eyes of Heathens-era Dozer, the verses don a different character entirely once the wind begins to blow in the first lines of the song. It’s Higgins’ best performance vocally, and probably the best cut on The Mission altogether, but still just a fraction of what Venomous Maximus seem to offer in terms of their creative range.