Wasted Theory Sign to Argonauta Records; Defenders of the Riff to See Reissue

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

When Wasted Theory released their second album, Defenders of the Riff (review here), last year through NoSlip Records, it was abundantly clear they were taking their game to a new level. Likewise when the Delaware-based, Southern-style — and yes, by that I mean covered in sausage gravy — heavy rockers announced this past Spring they’d take to the road over the course of shows in April, May and June to support it. It’s been a willfully-directed upward trajectory for them really since they self-released Death and Taxes (review here) in 2014, and crucially, that has extended to developing their approach to songwriting as well as how many ears their material has hit.

Today, the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Larry Jackson, Jr., recently-added guitarist Andrew Petkovic, bassist Rob Michael and drummer Brendan Burns announce they’ve signed to Argonauta Records. The deal makes them labelmates to the varied likes of Shabda, Mangog, Dee Calhoun of Iron Man, Hollow Leg, Cities of Mars and many others, and their first offering through the Italian imprint will be a deluxe reissue of Defenders of the Riff featuring two bonus tracks that’s set to come out this Fall — perhaps right around the time they’ll be in Pittsburgh for a slot at the inaugural Descendants of Crom fest (info here).

Consider it another in a series of “next steps” for Wasted Theory, and not a little one. Much as they’ve staked out their sonic territory over the last few years, they’ve now found a place for themselves in an outlet likewise committed to forward growth. It’s a great pairing, and as always, good-band-gets-signed warms the heart as not many kinds of stories can. Cheers to Wasted Theory and to Argonauta on the alliance.

Here’s the official announcement:

wasted theory

US Heavy Rockers WASTED THEORY signed to ARGONAUTA Records

ARGONAUTA Records is psyched to announce to have inked a deal with U.S. Heavy Rockers WASTED THEORY for the re-release of their highly acclaimed album “Defenders of the Riff”.

Wasted Theory was born in July 2012, and raised in the Northern Mid-Atlantic salt air states of Delaware and Maryland. Fronted by Larry Jackson, Jr. on vocals and lead guitar, Brendan Burns on drums, bassist Rob Michael, and newcomer rhythm guitarist Andrew Petkovic, this heavy rock outfit conjures inspiration from several of the most hard hitting, dirty blue collar, beefed up rock n’ roll acts of the past 40 years. With influences like Artimus Pyledriver, Orange Goblin, Corrosion of Conformity and Nazareth, the result is a guaranteed truck-ton of boot stomping heavy music.

“We are totally stoked to work with Argonauta Records on the re-release of ‘Defenders of the Riff’.” The band says. “This album opened many doors for us in regards of new fans, new opportunities and seeing new faces at our shows, so getting the chance to breathe new life into it again means a lot to us. We’re looking forward to adding the new bonus tracks on it as well to make it a cool little collectors piece for our diehard fans. We’re very much looking forward to seeing where this collaboration takes us! Cheers!”

WASTED THEORY “Defenders of the Riff – 2017 Edition” will feature two bonus tracks previously unreleased and will be available via ARGONAUTA Records later this year. More details to follow soon.

Wasted Theory live:
Sep 30 Descendants of Crom Fest Cattivo Pittsburgh, PA
Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/371830073185249/

http://www.facebook.com/WastedTheoryBand
https://twitter.com/wastedtheory
https://www.instagram.com/wastedtheory/
https://wastedtheory.bandcamp.com/
http://www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/ArgonautaRex

Wasted Theory, Defenders of the Riff (2016)

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Wasted Theory Announce ‘Defenders of the Riff’ Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

wasted theory

Delaware heavy rockers Wasted Theory are going for it, and it’s awesome to see. The Band from a Town Called Bear have lined up their longest stretch of tour dates yet as they seek to support their 2016 NoSlip Records-issued second album, Defenders of the Riff (review here), and the shows they’re playing as they do so are awesome. From May 5 through May 20, they’ll be in the road headed into the Midwest with a healthy focus on Texas, sharing the stage with Zed, Wo Fat, Freedom Hawk, Youngblood Supercult, Irata and a slew of others who seem to be drawn from the ‘bands who are awesome’ file, but even the shows they have in April and June on either side of the actual tour rule. Hooking up with Kingsnake, Solace and Backwoods Payback in Atlantic City? Damn that’s a good show. Foghound, Weed is Weed and King Giant in Maryland? Pretty much a festival.

Not that Wasted Theory need kudos from the likes of me, but, well, kudos and best wishes to them as they hit the road. The opening track from Defenders of the Riff, “Get Loud or Get Fucked,” put it all on the line, and it seems the band are working to live up to that ethic. Right on.

Dates and the announcement came off the PR wire:

WASTED THEORY ANNOUNCES U.S. SPRING TOUR DATES

DEFENDERS OF THE RIFF TOUR 2017

American Weed Rockers Wasted Theory are about to hit the road and have announced a North American tour for the Spring of 2017, with several heavy rock masters in alliance such as Wo Fat, Freedom Hawk, and ZED for select dates, as well as local support acts. In promotion of their second full length album Defenders Of The Riff (released 10/2016 on No Slip Records), Wasted Theory’s tour kicks off on April 14th in Wilmington, DE at the Oddity Bar.

Playing select dates from April to June, they’ll trek through 14 states, from Texas to Michigan, coming back around to the current final date in the federal capital Washington, DC on June 10th.

In addition, Wasted Theory recently world-premiered via Facebook their first video from the ‘Defenders of the Riff’ album, for the song “Black Witch Blues”. Self-produced and even filmed by the band themselves, it was shot entirely on an iPhone and created for less than 20 bucks. If you dig dirty rock n’ roll, bikers, black magic, and devil women then you’ll dig this.

WASTED THEORY LIVE:
4/14 WILMINGTON, DE ODDITY BAR (w/Kingsnake, Backwoods Payback, 91’s)
4/15 ATLANTIC CITY, NJ BONEYARD BAR (w/Kingsnake, Solace, Backwoods Payback)
5/5 BALTIMORE, MD THE DEPOT (w/Foghound, Serpents Of Secrecy, Horseburner, King Giant)
5/6 RICHMOND, VA WONDERLAND (w/Freedom Hawk, I Am The Liquor)
5/7 RALEIGH, NC SLIMS DOWNTOWN (w/Irata)
5/8 ATLANTA, GA 529 (w/Bleach Garden, Toker)
5/9 NEW ORLEANS, LA CHECKPOINT CHARLIE’S (w/Saint Roch, Dead Machine Theory)
5/10 HOUSTON, TX: SATELLITE BAR (w/ZED, Stonework, Society Of Bandits)
5/11 SAN ANTONIO, TX LIMELIGHT (w/ZED)
5/12: AUSTIN, TX DIRTY DOG BAR (w/ZED, Greenbeard, White Dog)
5/13: DALLAS, TX: THE GROTTO (w/ZED, Wo Fat, Crimson Stone)
5/14 OKLAHOMA CITY, OK THE BLUE NOTE (w/Turbo Wizard, Fanghorn Leghorn)
5/15 KANSAS CITY, MO RIOT ROOM (w/Youngblood Supercult, Merlin, Orphans Of Doom)
5/17 CHICAGO, IL LIVEWIRE LOUNGE (w/Spyderbone, Black Road)
5/18 DETROIT, MI NEW DODGE LOUNGE (w/Lavamoth, Euphoria, Seax, Vanlade, Sauron, Mammon)
5/19 CANTON, OH BUZZBIN SHOP (w/Stoneslinger, Red Tape Revolution)
5/20 ALTONNA, PA MCGARVEY’S (w/ King Bison, TBA)
6/9 GAITHERSBURG, MD RAW INK LIVE (w/Foghound, Weed Is Weed, King Giant)
6/10 WASHINGTON, DC SLASH RUN (w/Foghound, Weed Is Weed)

Released in October 2016, “Defenders of the Riff” is a behemoth of testosterone-driven, southern fuzzed biker rock. With accolades pouring in from every heavy rock and metal music enthusiast to catch whiff of Wasted Theory’s riffs, they’re wasting no time in getting back on the road. Catch Wasted Theory on tour in 2017, and get your metal hordes ready for American weed rock’s Defenders of the Riff.

https://www.facebook.com/wastedtheoryband/
https://www.wastedtheory.bandcamp.com/
http://www.instagram.com/wastedtheory/
https://twitter.com/WastedTheory
https://www.facebook.com/NoSlip-Records-866622996702190/
http://nosliprecords.bigcartel.com/

Wasted Theory, “Black Witch Blues” official video

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Descendants of Crom: Penance to Headline; Solace, Karma to Burn, The Midnight Ghost Train and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

descendants of crom

Lineup additions have continued to come out over the last week-plus since Pittsburgh-based fest Descendants of Crom made its first announcements with the formidable likes of EarthrideEYEFoghound and Stinking Lizaveta taking part. West Virginian instrumental trailblazers Karma to Burn, New Jersey rock destroyers Solace, Kansas boogie-thrusters The Midnight Ghost Train — as the names have appeared, the geographic reach of Descendants of Crom 2017, which is set for Sept. 30 on the Cattivo Nightclub‘s two stages, has only expanded, but perhaps the biggest addition yet brings the festival much closer to home.

Penance released their Alpha and Omega album in 2001 via the Martyr Music Group, and with it debuted a five-piece incarnation that will play for the first time in 15 years at Descendants of Crom, in a great add to the bill that fulfills the stated mission of the fest in honoring Pittsburgh’s own underground contributions as well as looking outside its borders. Badass all around.

In addition to the already-noted, CantOl’ Time Moonshine and Archarus, have also been added, so the more right on. Here’s the latest from the fest, including some comment from organizer Shy Kennedy on Penance signing on:

DESCENDANTS OF CROM – Penance to Headline with ‘Alpha & Omega’ Lineup

All-day fest set for Sept. 30, 2017, with two stages fueled by riffs created by the riddle of steel.

This all day music festival is the first of its kind in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The underground scene of stoner and doom here is healthy and thriving and the location at Cattivo Nightclub is perfect with two large floors, a stage on each, and good sound with friendly staff.

Descendants of Crom Festival lineup:
CANT
MONOLITH WIELDER
OL’ TIME MOONSHINE
ARCHARUS
HORSEBURNER
WASTED THEORY
FOGHOUND
EYE
BRIMSTONE COVEN
SOLACE
THE MIDNIGHT GHOST TRAIN
KARMA TO BURN
VALKYRIE
EARTHRIDE
STINKING LIZAVETA
PENANCE (Alpha & Omega lineup)

Shy Kennedy on Penance headlining:

It all starts out with an idea of, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be great if there were a gig in Pittsburgh that had a bunch of riff-fueled bands of all rock and metal genres?’ It’s the perfect place for it, really. The scene here is supportive and it’s an accessible city to many. It doesn’t come out of nowhere –- you have to make it happen.

Next, who headlines this underground, doom-rooted event? The answer would be Penance but they’ve been dormant for some time. The Alpha & Omega lineup are all right here and nearly all active in the scene someway or another. Turns out that you just have to ask. Penance are as excited to be a part of the Descendants of Crom as I am. A lot of the seasoned fans are going to appreciate this and for those who aren’t familiar with Penance are going to get a little lesson in Pittsburgh Doom History.

DESCENDANTS OF CROM will bring great regional talent to a hungry crowd, utilizing national fan favorites to lure them to learn about these other amazing artists. This first year is anticipated to be a contender among other established annual fests and will not be an event to miss.

http://facebook.com/descendantsofcrom
http://www.descendantsofcrom.com/

Penance, “Wizards of Mind”

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Descendants of Crom: Earthride, EYE, Valkyrie & More to Appear at Pittsburgh Festival

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

descendants of crom

Cheers to a new festival coming to Pittsburgh this fall. Sept. 30 will see the debut installment of the all-day Descendants of Crom held at the two-stage Cattivo Nightclub, and the first lineup announcement has been made with a considerable blend of Chesapeake and Midwestern talent on hand. With a strong focus that seems to put Maryland at the epicenter, prime Dave Sherman-fronted riff-rollers Earthride will play as part of an apparent 2017 resurgence, along with Ripple Music heavy rockers Foghound, whose 2016 outing, The World Unseen (review here), was among the year’s most unabashedly kickass.

One particularly encouraging sign from this first round of confirmations — there’s apparently another to come by the end of the month — is the stylistic variety. To have the lush melo-prog of Ohio’s EYE and the jazzy intricacy of just-reviewed Philly trio Stinking Lizaveta on the same bill is righteous enough, let alone to have them alongside the boozy forward drive of an act like Wasted Theory, the dual-guitar acrobatics of Valkyrie, Brimstone Coven‘s harmonies and the progressive sludge of Horseburner.

Wait. Did I just convince myself to drive to Pittsburgh?

While I ponder that question of questions, dig into Descendants of Crom‘s initial communiqué below, which comes courtesy of the fest itself:

descendants of crom

DESCENDANTS OF CROM – SEPT. 30, 2017

This all day music festival is the first of its kind in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The underground scene of stoner and doom here is healthy and thriving and the location at Cattivo Nightclub is perfect with two large floors, a stage on each, and good sound with friendly staff.

DESCENDANTS OF CROM will bring great regional talent to a hungry crowd, utilizing national fan favorites to lure them to learn about these other amazing artists. This first year is anticipated to be a contender among other established annual fests and will not be an event to miss.

THIS YEAR’S CONFIRMED TALENT
EYE (Columbus, OH)
FOGHOUND (Baltimore, MD)
BRIMSTONE COVEN (Wheeling, WV)
STINKING LIZAVETTA (Philadelphia, PA)
WASTED THEORY (Delaware)
EARTHRIDE (MD)
VALKYRIE (Harrisonburg, VA)
HORSEBURNER (Parkersburg, VA).

The rest of the line-up will be announced by end of February. You can keep an eye out for updates through DescendantsOfCrom.com and the Facebook page, facebook.com/DescendantsOfCrom.

http://facebook.com/descendantsofcrom
http://www.descendantsofcrom.com/

Earthride, “Mr. Green”

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audiObelisk Transmission 059

Posted in Podcasts on November 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

I’ve listened to it front to back and I can honestly say this is the best podcast I’ve made in the last five months. Truth be told, I know there are plenty of people who do podcasts as their primary outlet, talk on them and whatnot (hey, I tried it once and reserve the right to do it again at some point), but if it’s between crossfading feedback from one song to another and writing a review of a new record, well, crossfading falls into the same category as just about everything else: Write first.

Fortunately, a longer span of time between casts makes it that much easier to pick tracks. Existence does not hand you a 45-minute Øresund Space Collective jam every day, so I thought that was worth featuring, and I just got Megaritual’s new vinyl for review, so I thought featuring their more recent single-song EP would work well too.

I’m happy with the blend overall, and with Asteroid setting the tone. Be patient with it. Let it unfold. Even with a rocking start, it gets pretty psychedelic pretty quickly, and only continues to move further out. My advice is go with it and see where you end up.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:

0:00:00 Asteroid, “Them Calling” from III
0:05:02 Stinkeye, “Orange Man” from Llantera Demos
0:08:31 Hornss, “Prince of a Thousand Enemies” from Telepath
0:11:36 Ice Dragon, “Broken Life” from Broken Life
0:16:08 Wasted Theory, “Odyssey of the Electric Warlock” from Defenders of the Riff
0:20:59 Pelander, “True Colour” from Time
0:29:41 The Freeks, “Blow Time Away” from Shattered
0:34:26 Baby Woodrose, “Freedom” from Freedom
0:37:27 Comacozer, “The Mind that Feeds the Eye” from Astra Planeta
0:45:21 Mos Generator, “Outlander” from The Firmament
0:51:13 Megaritual, “Eclipse” from Eclipse

Second Hour:

1:16:25 Øresund Space Collective, “Visions Of…” from Visions Of…

Total running time: 1:58:36

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 059

 

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Wasted Theory, Defenders of the Riff: Whiskey on the Breath

Posted in Reviews on November 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

wasted-theory-defenders-of-the-riff

It’s a mission so up-front it’s almost blinding. No less so with Wasted Theory‘s second record, Defenders of the Riff, than it was with Judas Priest‘s Defenders of the Faith some 32 years ago, and in no small part because as regards Wasted Theory, the riff and the faith are one and the same. Burl has been a defining feature of the Delaware four-piece’s approach since their inception, and was certainly front and center on Death and Taxes (review here), their self-released 2014 full-length debut.

The crisp 10-track/46-minute run of Defenders of the Riff, which sees vinyl issue through NoSlip Records, might leave one to wonder just exactly from whom “the Riff” is under attack and how an apparent dudeliness-for-dudes defense strategy might play into working against that attack, but the record nonetheless presents a marked forward step in sound from where Wasted Theory were two years ago, bringing a sense of spaciousness to the roll and nod and thrust brought to bear by guitarist/vocalist Larry Jackson, Jr., drummer/lyricist Brendan Burns, bassist Dave McMahon, and guitarist Rob Michael.

With a vibrant, heavy tonal largesse captured over a period of months by Paul Janocha at Ken-Del Studios and Nick Rotundo (who also mixed) at Clay Creek Studio — both of whom also worked on the first LP — a mastering job by Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed and cover art by Alexander von Wieding, there isn’t an angle from which Defenders of the Riff doesn’t demonstrate a more professional, coherent vision of Wasted Theory‘s intent, and, simply put, it brings them to a new level in style and substance alike.

There are a few lyrical themes that emerge as the album plays out. Women and cry-for-help levels of whiskey consumption are two big ones. Seven of the 10 tracks contain some reference to drinking, and at least five to whiskey specifically — notable in that regard is “Belly Fulla Whiskey” — while we hear corresponding tales of devil women, gypsy women, a fire woman in second cut “Black Witch Blues,” a black-hearted woman in “Gospel of Infinity” and, in “…And the Devil Makes Three” alone, a hard-luck woman, a hard-headed woman and a smokestack woman.

Add to those references to fast cars — a GTO makes an appearance in West Hollywood in “AmpliFIRE!” — and nods to heavy rock/metal new and old in “Atomic Bikiniwax” (The Atomic Bitchwax, also Jimi Hendrix‘s Electric Ladyland), “Belly Fulla Whiskey” (mention of a gallows pole and a live wire, à la Led Zeppelin and Mötley Crüe, respectively), “Under the Hoof” (a fever of 103 is exactly what Foreigner had), “…And the Devil Makes Three” (Scissorfight were too drunk to fuck when they covered the Dead Kennedys song of the same name), the penultimate “Throttlecock” (Slayer also showed no mercy) and closer “Odyssey of the Electric Warlock” (more Zeppelin with Avalon and Evermore, some Tool with an undertow and even Mos Generator‘s cosmic ark makes an appearance), and elsewhere, and Wasted Theory seem to be shooting for a very specific notion of consistency, and from the catchy swing at work behind leave-it-all-out-there opener “Get Loud or Get Fucked” and the “Shake Like You” C.O.C.-style boogie of “Belly Fulla Whiskey” to the crunching repetitions of the start-stop riff in “Throttlecock,” they know what they want to represent.

wasted-theory-photo-by-shy-kennedy

One could push back against the politics of some of it for sure, but what’s inarguable is the development in Wasted Theory‘s general level of craft. Songs range from four to five minutes — the full thrust of “…And the Devil Makes Three” is the longest at 5:29 and uses its extra time wisely in a relatively extended instrumental groove and solo in its second half — and are noteworthy for their straightforward, on-the-one attack.

A “nuthin’ too fancy” approach is basically what the band heralded on Death and Taxes, but Defenders of the Riff builds on that fluidly across its span and brings new depth of production that, since it’s essentially the same team working on it, can only be said to have been purposeful on Wasted Theory‘s part. That development is crucial to understanding their sophomore album, and what it ultimately accomplishes in moments like the solo of “Atomic Bikiniwax” and the slowdown of “…And the Devil Makes Three” is a broadening of Wasted Theory‘s dynamic that stays within the growing range of their songwriting. Near-virulent hooks populate Defenders of the RiffJackson‘s vocals indeed snarl up from under a barrage of top quality heavy riffing, and their presentation is thick, full and professional across the board.

I know I’ve said on multiple occasions there are times when listening to Wasted Theory when I don’t feel dudely enough to really appreciate the kind of tire-screeching testosterone-soaked rock and roll they’re metering out, and that holds true at moments on Defenders of the Riff as well — “Belly Fulla Whiskey” with lines like “C’mon little darlin’/C’mon little tease/C’mon and get down on your knees,” or “Atomic Bikiniwax”‘s one-two punch of “And she knows when it’s on/Shake that ass and I’m gone” — but I wouldn’t attempt to deny that for what they’re doing, they’re doing it well and clearly moving forward in their creative processes.

The momentum they build and the structures they inhabit throughout Defenders of the Riff will no doubt feel familiar to experienced listeners, but more than they have to this point, Wasted Theory make those spaces their own and begin establishing their identity in and from them. They don’t sound like they’re finished growing, but they don’t sound like they want to be either, and that might be the most encouraging aspect of Defenders of the Riff overall. Again, I don’t know who’s attacking the Riff, but it should ultimately be glad it’s got Wasted Theory on its side.

Wasted Theory, Defenders of the Riff (2016)

Wasted Theory on Thee Facebooks

Wasted Theory on Bandcamp

NoSlip Records webstore

NoSlip Records on Thee Facebooks

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Wasted Theory to Release Defenders of the Riff Oct. 30

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

wasted-theory

Delaware-based heavy rockers Wasted Theory have signed to NoSlip Records and will issue their second album, Defenders of the Riff, on Oct. 30 through the label. I had the fortune of seeing the four-piece outfit at the third night of Maryland Doom Fest back in June (review here), and much of what they played at Cafe 611 in Frederick was new material that presumably will show up on this follow-up to their debut, Death and Taxes (review here), which was self-released in 2014.

It seemed at that show like they’d really stepped up their game in terms of songwriting and the intensity of their performance, and a Judas Priest-referential title would seem to nod further at the more metal take I sensed from their set, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out when Defenders of the Riff hits the inbox, hopefully sooner rather than later.

I asked drummer Brendan Burns for a quote about the new album, and you’ll find that with the band’s announcement below:

wasted-theory-defenders-of-the-riff

*** New Album & Signing Announcement!!! ***

We are absolutely thrilled as fuck to announce our new album “Defenders of the Riff” will be out October 30th!!!

What’s fucking cooler than that? In the coming months we’ll be releasing the vinyl through none other than NoSlip Records!!!

Ten brand new songs to fuck your earholes with. More info coming down the wire soon… until then, be sure to checkout the badass cover art done by the incomparable Alexander von Wieding!

“We had such a great response to the last album that we knew we had our work cut out for us with this one,” says drummer Brendan Burns. “Writing ‘Defenders’ was the first time we had a consistent and solid lineup intact for the entire writing process. The result, we felt, was a more cohesive album from top to bottom.

“It’s definitely heavier, meatier, faster at times, and has way more balls than anything else we’ve ever done. We bolted the doors of our rehearsal room shut for 8 months, and we wrote the best album that we could. I really think everyone will definitely dig the vibe of this one!”

http://wastedtheory.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wastedtheoryband
https://www.facebook.com/NoSlip-Records-866622996702190/
http://nosliprecords.bigcartel.com/

Wasted Theory, Death and Taxes (2014)

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2016 Night Three

Posted in Reviews on June 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest poster

The car died as I pulled it into the spot outside Cafe 611, and it was abundantly clear it would not start again sans professional assistance. Oh, and it’s The Patient Mrs.‘ car. So there’s that.

That puts the tally of busted shit at: my feet (I’ve been wearing a supportive boot cast all weekend, not sure if I’ve mentioned that yet), my camera, and my wife’s car. Maryland Doom Fest 2016, you have thoroughly kicked my ass.

None of that is the fest’s fault, of course. After an awesome two and a half weeks, I was due a couple hits, and if anything, yesterday, the third and final day of the festival with another 11 bands on the bill starting at 3PM, it was the music that kept my head up while I was flipping out about things like waiting for tow trucks, The Patient Mrs. never picking up her phone, how the fuck I’m going to get back to Massachusetts with a dead car so I can start my new job on Tuesday, and so on. I’m thankful for that. Not sure I’d have made it through the afternoon otherwise without spontaneously combusting.

Time to wrap this thing up. If you’ve checked out the reviews of night one or night two, thanks, and thanks for reading this one too.

One more time, hello Frederick:

Mangog

Mangog (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ll admit it was somewhat strange to watch Bert Hall on stage holding a guitar. The longtime Maryland doomer has played bass through the years in Revelation and Against Nature and now is also handling thick strings and fuzzy-hat for Beelzefuzz, but in Mangog it’s guitar and backing vocals to complement those of Myke Wells. Completed by drummer Mike Rix (ex-Iron Man) and bassist Darby Cox, the four-piece announced this week that they’d signed to Argonauta Records for the early 2017 release of their debut album. Presumably most of what they played, whether it was “God” or “Into Infamy” or “Meld,” comes from that record, but they also played two of the three cuts — “Ab Intra” and the title-track — from their 2015 debut EP, Daydreams Within Nightmares. The band played their first show at Maryland Doom Fest last year, and are still finding themselves as a unit, but seemed to be on the right track with their aggressive blend of doom and metal. Wells was also the first frontman to stand on the P.A. speakers in front of the stage, so points there as well.

Flummox

Flummox (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The first, but not the last. Bassist/vocalist Blake Dellinger of Flummox, in checked leotard regalia and with one eye blacked out, also got on that speaker, in addition to thrashing around just about everywhere else on the Cafe 611 stage as he, guitarist Drew Jones, and drummer/vocalist Jody Lester tore into their raucous stoner thrash, which it’s easy to imagine has been a highlight of the last couple years at house shows in their native Murfreesboro, Tennessee, as well as other haunts around the South lucky enough to book the band. Youth was on their side, sure, but they still delivered one of the weekend’s most energetic sets, and had the chemistry between them to stand up to the force of their delivery. They’re also reportedly responsible for the Tennessean Sludge Fest, which this August features Place of SkullsDoomstressShroud Eater and Order of the Owl, among many others, so clearly doing good work on multiple levels.

DopeRider

Doperider (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Hailing from my beloved Garden State, sludge torquemongers DopeRider proffered massive tones offset by a couple stretches of ambience, putting them in league with the likes of Connecticut’s Sea of Bones or any number of crushers in the post-YOB sphere, and that is a compliment as far as I’m concerned. Their slow-churning, growling, thudding lumber wasn’t the first bout of extremity the weekend had seen — one still recalls Philly’s Black Urn starting off Friday — but it did speak to the expanding definition of what Maryland Doom Fest might continue to encompass. Uniformly brutal in their approach, DopeRider — who released a debut demo last year with the tracks “Drugged up Demonoid” (15:09) and “Fractal Resin” (6:07) — were thankful to the crowd, guitarist/vocalist MP saying that there wasn’t much like this in Jersey. I know from personal experience that’s 100 percent true, but little doubt DopeRider would’ve stood out on the bill whatever the context. Will keep an eye out for what they do next.

Seasick Gladiator

Seasick Gladiator (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ll admit that for a decent portion of D.C. residents Seasick Gladiator‘s set, I was outside dealing with the tow truck driver from AAA. Actually he was the second, past the one who tried to jump the car to no avail, so yeah, it took a minute. What I saw of the instrumental outfit offered metallic doom marked out through the use of violin, adding a sense of drama to the material as strings invariably will. They had some progressive edge that didn’t necessarily feel showy or overly self-righteous, and from what I heard sounded pretty fluid. Meanwhile, outside, the car still refused to start — battery? alternator? — and had to be dragged onto the back of the flatbed and hauled off to some local garage. A genuine what the fuck moment, but like I said, the music kept me going. Somehow I doubt it will be the last opportunity to catch Seasick Gladiator, and from the glimpses I got and from watching the end of their set after the truck drove away, their appeal came through even despite distraction.

Eternal Black

Eternal Black (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ll never pretend to even feign impartiality about any band Joe Wood is playing in. Aside from being a former bandmate, the Borgo Pass and Eternal Black drummer is among the nicest, most sincere individuals I’ve ever met — King of the Dudes — and whether he’s behind the kit or in the crowd, any day I get to see Joe is a good day, including this one. He is not, however, all that Eternal Black have working in their favor. Atop rolling The Obsessed-style riffs, the NY three-piece with Wood, guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob and bassist Hal Miller, fit right in with the sphere of Maryland doom but had more than a touch of Northeastern intensity to their approach as well, particularly from Wohlrob‘s vocals. The same was true of their first demo (review here), which was released last year, but they had a host of new songs in the set — “Snake Oil and Coffin Nails” was a highlight, along with “Sea of Graves” — and announced plans to record this summer/fall for a debut full-length, which will be one to anticipate. Granted NYC is four to five hours from where I live depending on traffic, but I still felt I probably should’ve seen Eternal Black by now. Glad I got to in such a setting.

Toke

Toke (Photo by JJ Koczan)

North Carolina’s Toke were the only band of the weekend to bring their own lights, and their focus on presentation likewise extended to how they carried themselves on stage, each of the three members putting his full body into the groove of their hard-hit, swinging riffs, seeming way more influenced by Sleep live than on their 2014 demo, High Friends in Low Places (review here), but still marked out on the harsher end of sludge by the vocals, which were on the more searing end of screams. Comprised of TimBronco and Jeremy, they reminded some of Elder‘s Matt Couto in the drumming style, but were on an entirely different trip sonically, and for a band who doesn’t yet have an album out, they had steady command over the stage, the room, and their consuming tonal largesse. Very obviously a band who’s done some road time — they played Denver Electric Funeral Fest earlier this month — and one who’ve dug in hard to their practice space. They were high among the most pleasant surprises at Maryland Doom Fest 2016, all three days.

Foghound

Foghound (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Foghound were not a surprise, true, but they were a joy to watch all the same. The Baltimore heavy rock kingpins are on the cusp of releasing their second album, The World Unseen (review forthcoming), on Ripple Music, and they absolutely blew me away last fall at Vultures of Volume II (review here), also in Maryland, but to hear those songs now and know them better, whether it’s the ultra-catchy “Rockin’ and Rollin'” or “Message in the Sky,” “Never Return,” “Above the Wake,” “Serpentine,” etc., was an entirely different experience, drummer Chuck Dukehart III and guitarists Bob Sipes and Dee Settar sharing vocal duties while bassist Jim Forrester held down the low end. Playing a set entirely comprised of new material only emphasized how far beyond 2013’s Quick, Dirty and High (review here) they’re ready to be, and like last time I was fortunate enough to catch them, they were air-tight musically, varied in the vocal arrangements and executed their set on a foundation of strong, waiting to be noticed songwriting. I know it kicks ass, but I’m eager to find out how The World Unseen catches on with listeners once it’s out, as I’m sure the band is as well.

Wasted Theory

Wasted Theory (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Like Foghound before them (and several others), Delaware’s Wasted Theory brought a sampling of their next outing, which is set to be recorded this fall, reportedly, for a 2017 release. I was talking the other night to guitarist/vocalist Larry Jackson, Jr., about the next Wasted Theory and he asked what I’d want to hear on it. Basically what I’d be looking for is a step forward from 2014’s Death and Taxes (review here). I’d want to hear that the band — Jackson, guitarist Dave McMahon, bassist Rob Michael and drummer Brendan Burns — was pushing itself in terms of melody and songcraft. Hard to judge from one live airing, but they seemed to be headed in that direction, bringing a more aggressive edge to some of the Southern groove that on the last album was such a huge part of their take. They still had a definite update-the-’70s classic heavy rock vibe, and Jackson‘s gravely vocals added burl as ever, but that progression that one might hope to hear in their sound came through at Cafe 611. They still have to record the next LP, but hopefully it follows suit when it arrives.

King Giant

King Giant (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve seen dark Virginian rockers King Giant a handful of times now — three or four, maybe, most recently at the aforementioned Vultures of Volume II (review here) — and their sheer have-their-shit-together factor remains hugely impressive. Dudes know exactly what they want their songs to do, where they want to put that Todd Ingram solo, what the verse is moving toward, etc. Vocalist Dave Hammerly had two mics setup with various kinds of compression, and the double-guitar five-piece proceeded to do their thing, which is to offer up grooving slabs of moody Southern heavy, bordering on metal in their attitude but really more about atmosphere than aggression, or at least about toying with that balance. “Requiem for a Drunkard” from 2015’s Black Ocean Waves (review here) was a high point sonically if a particularly downer vibe, but really, King Giant are in league with the safer bets you might make when it comes to quality of craft and performance in their style. It’s not always what I’m looking for stylistically, but for as much as King Giant put into their band, it’s impossible not to respect them.

Karma to Burn

Karma to Burn (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Kind of hard to believe it’s been nearly five years since the last time I saw Karma to Burn. Night and day. With the lineup of founding guitarist Will Mecum, bassist Eric Clutter and drummer Evan Devine the West Virginian instrumental powerhouse were in nothing but top form for their set. One might expect them to be on after having just done a month on the road with The Obsessed across the US, but propelled by Devine‘s crash, they rode Mecum‘s riffing with an energy I’ve never seen from them. The most recent cut they played was “57” from 2014’s Arch Stanton (review here) — though I thought I heard part of “62” as well — and of course their signature piece, “20” from 1999’s Wild Wonderful Purgatory was aired to a particularly fervent response. They were the only band of the weekend so far as I saw who elicited anything close to moshing, and it was well-earned. Just a killer show, front to back, and while I know Karma to Burn has a history of burning through rhythm sections, what Clutter and Devine bring to the band alongside Mecum isn’t to be understated. True power trio form, continually without compromise or bullshit.

Mos Generator

Mos Generator (Photo by JJ Koczan)

“We’ve been here since eight o’clock,” said Mos Generator frontman Tony Reed, “and I’m drunk.” To be fair, it was long past eight by the time the Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rockers took the stage for their headlining/fest-closing set. My fingers were crossed they’d have copies of their new album, Abyssinia (review forthcoming), but no dice. Bought a shirt instead. Their set launched at a furious clip and did not relent, drummer Jon Garrett stepping up to righteously follow what Evan Devine brought to Karma to Burn as bassist Sean Booth served to anchor the material and bolster the impact of Reed‘s guitar. “Lonely One Kenobi” was an early highlight, followed by “There’s No Return from Nowhere” from the new record and “Breaker” and the title-track from 2014’s Electric Mountain Majesty (review here), Reed, of whom I’ll make no bones about being a fan, letting his vocals soar for the latter while completely owning the stage and bringing the room along with him. Hard not to smile watching him on stage — someone so obviously born to do what he’s doing who then set about working really, really hard at it for decades — and he kept the intensity of performance going until the house lights came up as they played “This is the Gift of Nature.” The room had thinned out somewhat by then, as it will, but after a full hour of go-go-go, there was zero slowdown whatsoever. Some bands just want to rock and roll, and Mos Generator do so with a pure reverence for the form that few would dare attempt to match. They were absolutely on fire.

As I write this, I’m on the road in a rental car, headed back north. I start my new job tomorrow. The Patient Mrs., who was visiting family elsewhere in the state, came and picked me up in a rental car and is currently driving me and Postman Dan, who came along for the trip, north. As there’s been no word from the mechanic that the car got towed to, I’ll have to drive back to Frederick on Friday to pick it up. Serves me right for something, I’m sure. Unanswered emails, perhaps.

Before I cut out, I want to thank JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank for having me on board as a sponsor and for having me down to cover Maryland Doom Fest 2016. I know these reviews have been somewhat fraught in their context, but Matson and Cruikshank put on a hell of a show over these three days, and should be commended both for the efforts and the results yielded. I can only hope they keep it going and hope they’ll have me involved again next year.

If they do, I think next time I might just fly in. But I always say that.

Thanks for reading.

 

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