Blizaro Premiere “Nemesis Pt. 4: Altered State” from Cornucopia della Morte

Posted in audiObelisk on February 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

blizaro

Rochester, New York-based trio  research paper on human biology Dissertation Loi 3 Juin 1958 the research paper andra ghent dissertation Blizaro will release their new album,  custom wood writing pens Helpful http://representationco.com/phd-thesis-on-conflict-management/ dissertation musikwissenschaft homework help vikings Cornucopia della Morte, on April 15 via  auckland university masters thesis Online Dissertations And Theses At Digital Commons@mcmaster Thesis Online best buy resume application louisville ky good essay prompts I, Voidhanger Records. The nine-track/52-minute full-length was originally set to release in 2013. It is the sophomore outing from the three-piece led by guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist  Research http://www.baytokinternational.com/?simple-business-plan-outline are there to help you. We all know that students need to write numerous projects during their studies. Indeed, they have to write John Gallo, also of vastly-underappreciated doomers  Our research paper writing service provides students with relatively cheap custom research papers online. Our General Contractor Business Plan are written from Orodruin, and it follows 2010’s  Need to http://ekovalevsky.com/?single-mother-essay? We can complete any type of coursework that you need done in no time. City of the Living Nightmare full-length as well as a slew of shorter offerings, some of which were compiled in 2013’s 2CD  CV Master Careers - Decimal Homework Helper and consultancy services delivered by CV Consultants with almost 14 years of CV writing and recruitment Strange Doorways (review here), also on  Global buying university essays: Assignments Writing Service for University Students in UK. We have team of expert writers to provide assignment help for your projects. I, Voidhanger. If nothing else, the fact that its opener comes in four different parts should tell you that  English Essay Writing Service. Starting to write an essay can be easy or difficult depending upon the nature of the topic. Approved Proposal For Dissertation. Blizaro‘s methods tend toward the grand. That’s been the case all along, but as their awaited second album,  Contact our Do My Homework Websites world to get awesome papers written by writing experts | We guarantee attractive prices | With us, you will submit Cornucopia della Morte has the complicated task before it of working in both classical and progressive forms.  There are hundreds of reasons to use Rush Essay great post to read service, especially if you have a short deadline approaching, or if you are struggling Gallo, joined in the band by drummer  get link UK writing service and Dissertation checking service UK writing Help Dissertation checking service UK Introduction Checking Mike Waske (also of  Write my essay problems can be stressful for students. This problem can be solved in a jiffy through professional http://shikishima-reform.com/blog/11th-grade-research-papers by EssayTyper service. Orodruin) and bassist  Does everyone qualify for a Grant? See some how to start a college admission essay buy of the books benefiting from our editing and http://aemurtosa.edu.pt/help-homework-j-e-richards/ Mark Rapone, conjures a blend of essential doom metal and eerie cinematics in  Social Work Training Courses - Quality treatment just a few clicks away. Quality service and affordable medications. Most advantageous pharmacy on the internet Blizaro that results in a sound familiar but distinct from its influences.

Those influences?  Paul Chain is a big one. Goblin and Candlemass also make sweeping appearances in the sound, blizaro cornucopia della mortebut in the combination of elements, Blizaro are a unit unto themselves, and even as “Nemesis Pt. 4: Altered State” begins with a mixture of swirling and chugging, there remains a broader scope in the songwriting. It’s not entirely wrong to call it classic doom, or traditional doom, but to do so discounts the progressive side of Blizaro‘s take, whether that’s the transitional push that underlies the midsection guitar solo or the organ lines that emerge atop Rapone‘s bassline past the halfway point. A big slowdown gives Gallo plenty of room to work in overlaying different keyboard/organ sounds, and as Waske pushes the procession forward, “Nemesis Pt. 4: Altered State” builds to a dirge worthy of any number of grainy VHS funerals. I can’t speak to how it represents the entirety of Cornucopia della Morte, but on its own, it certainly captures the intersection of soundtracking and classic doom metal that are so pivotal to Blizaro‘s style.

And so it seems only a fitting place to start ahead of the album’s release in April. Please find the exclusive stream of “Nemesis Pt. 4: Altered State” below, followed by more info on the record from the PR wire, and enjoy:

John Gallo, the unsung American master of horror doom, is back with the long-awaited sophomore album by BLIZARO. No less adventurous than its predecessor (“City Of The Living Nightmare”, Razorback Rec. 2010) or the “Strange Doorways” collection of demos and rarities (I, Voidhanger Rec. 2013), “Cornucopia della Morte” is however more powerful, dynamic, focused and refined; a mature effort from talented musicians that worked in perfect harmony. Written and recorded in 2013, the album was then shelved to make room to Gallo’s uncontrollable bursts of creativity which lead to JOHN GALLOW, a solo project that debuted on I, Voidhanger Records in 2014 with the acclaimed doom masterpiece “Violet Dreams”.

Now that BLIZARO are writing new material, “Cornucopia della Morte” has been called back from its provisional grave and wrapped in an imaginative cover painting by Dan Bell which perfectly captures BLIZARO’s penchant for all things horror, doomy and weirdly dark. Driven by Gallo’s rip-roaring guitar-playing and slanted vocals, and by the formidable rhythm section of Mark Rapone (bass) and Mike Waske (drums), “Cornucopia della Morte” conjures up the ghosts of Goblin, Black Sabbath, Paul Chain, Pentagram and Candlemass at the crossroad of doom, prog, psych rock, heavy metal, and the Italian horror soundtracks from the 70’s. The album features 8 new BLIZARO songs, plus a shattering cover of “Voyage To Hell” which preserves the dark and menacing aura of the original by Paul Chain Violet Theatre.

TRACKLIST
1. Nemesis pt. 1 – Daughter Of The Scarab (6:55)
2. Nemesis pt. 2 – Citadel Of The Lunatic (5:14)
3. Nemesis pt. 3 – Interludio (1:50)
4. Nemesis pt. 4 – Altered State (5:15)
5. Giallo (7:26)
6. Frozen Awakening (7:58)
7. Voyage To Hell (3:14)
8. The Staircase (5:54)
9. Stygian Gate (8:21)

Total running time 52:07

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I, Voidhanger Records

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Blizaro, Strange Doorways: Leading to Stranger Places

Posted in Reviews on June 16th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Spanning years and creative spaces in kind, Blizaro‘s Strange Doorways is a consuming document of doom that one might be tempted to call “traditional” but for the force and individuality put into its presentation. A 2CD out through Italian imprint I, Voidhanger Records, it encompasses four separate Blizaro releases from 2012 back to the band’s beginnings in 2006 and is from the very first note and really even before that a work of deep, abiding passion. Cover art by Costin Chioreanu adds to the otherworldly bleakness of the extended offering, and laudatory liner notes from John Brenner of Revelation/Against Nature for the accomplishments of Blizaro spearhead John James Gallo — also of Orodruin — set a tone of appreciation that serves as the reasoning for the compilation in the first place. That is, Strange Doorways — which pulls together 2012’s Black Majicians demo, 2009’s The Old Wizard of Winter demo, 2008’s Blue Tape demo and 2006’s Horror Rock demo, two on each disc accompanied by other bonus tracks, three on the first disc and five on the second — is clearly not a piece for the uninitiated. For Blizaro, it’s not where you start. That might be the 2010 full-length, City of the Living Nightmare, but at just a hair under two and a half hours, Strange Doorways is for those who genuinely want to lose themselves within Blizaro‘s doomscape, which back to its origins the better part of a decade ago retains a cinematic mood and sense of synth-fueled drama that distinguishes the band both from Gallo‘s work in Orodruin and from the glut of traditional doom worldwide.

To put names to it, the most constant influences Gallo — who’s joined in Blizaro these days by his Orodruin bandmate Mike Waske on drums and bassist Mark Rapone while he handles guitar, synth, vocals and more than that on some of these recordings — seems to be under are those of Paul ChainReverend Bizarre, Goblin and Candlemass. Not bad places to start, and since Strange Doorways begins with the most recent material, we hear Gallo‘s vision at its most cohesive, pulling together a Leif Edling-style chorus on “Voyage Beyond Space” and adjusting his vocal approach accordingly after the cavernous metal of “Slave of Chaos” earlier on or the mournful lead work on the instrumental closer “Projections,” which follows. Synth and organ come more into focus on The Old Wizard of Winter, but the mood and overarching purpose is consistent, even as “White Frijid Mass” eases its way past the seven-minute mark and church organ meets with swirling, windy effects. This release, which Gallo says in his extensive song-by-song liner notes, was originally composed as a holiday gift to his family, but after being pleased with the results, he decided to make it public. It is the most atmospheric stretch of Strange Doorways, and knowing the circumstances of its creation — one night, lots of synth, little guitar — it’s easy to read a touch of the Xmas album in “Sulumucca” or “Shadow Walk,” though any such perceivable whimsy comes tempered with an atmospheric darkness fed into by the surrounding material, the artwork and the rhythms themselves, which retain a mournful, doomly pace. Gallo does not wassail, it would seem.

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The Skull, Unorthodox and More to Play Vultures of Volume Fest this August

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 16th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Frederick, Maryland, has doubled as a secondary Doom Capitol for some time now. For several years the home of the Stoner Hands of Doom festival, is just happens to be in a place central enough to pull bands from near-enough-by Baltimore, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. It has kind of an out-of-the-way feel, but for years there was a genuine scene around Krug’s Place on the outskirts of the town that was strong and true to the roots of doom, which in the US more or less began in that region as well. The first Vultures of Volume will bring a doom fest back to the town after a couple years’ absence, and has assembled a lineup worthy of showing up for, with Trouble offshoot The Skull and a rare Unorthodox reunion headlining and backup on the bill from the likes of Nagato, GorgantherronBlack Manta, Beelzefuzz, Blizaro, Ogre and Pale Divine.

Of those, I think Ogre might be traveling furthest — from Maine — but Indiana to Maryland is no picnic either in terms of road time, so Gorgantherron will put some miles on as well. Between Unorthodox, Nagato, Beelzefuzz and Black Manta, Maryland is also well represented.

Vultures of Volume is set for Aug. 30, 2014 at Cafe 611 in Frederick. Poster art by Brad Moore and info follow:

“VULTURES OF VOLUME FEST” SET TO DEBUT IN FREDERICK, MD THIS AUGUST

Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 30, 2014 for the debut of “Vultures of Volume”, a new annual festival coming to Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD.

“Vultures of Volume” promises to shine the spotlight on local and national acts that bring it loud, hard, and above all else, heavy! This first installment of “VoV” proudly presents the return of Maryland legends UNORTHODOX, featuring the 1995 “Balance of Power” lineup of Ronnie Kalimon (drums), Josh Hart (bass) and the legendary Dale Flood (guitar/vocals) for this one time only reunion! Not to be missed!

Also joining in on the worship of the riff will be Chicago’s THE SKULL, featuring original Trouble members Eric Wagner and Jeff ‘Oly’ Olson, as well as fellow Trouble alumni Ron Holzner (rounded out by guitarists Matt Goldsborough, formerly of Pentagram, and Lothar Keller). THE SKULL will commemorate the 30th anniversary of their classic 1984 debut album “Psalm 9” by performing it in its entirety at the inaugural “Vultures of Volume” fest!

As if that wasn’t enough, also performing will be a strong supporting roster of local and national heavy weights: Nagato (MD), Gorgantherron (IN), Black Manta (MD), Beelzefuzz (MD), Blizaro (NY) Pale Divine (PA) and Ogre (ME).

For more info including door times, full schedule, ticket prices, and sale dates, please visit the official “Vultures of Volume” event page at: www.facebook/pages/Vultures-of-Volume-FEST/578873918893964

Cafe 611: 611 N Market St, Frederick, MD 21701 Ph: (301) 631-1460

Unorthodox, “Lost in Tomorrow” from Balance of Power (1995)

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Blizaro to Release Strange Doorways 2CD Compilation

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 13th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

If it seems strange that a band with one full-length out would have enough material backlogged for a double-CD compilation, take that strangeness as indicative of the kind of weirdo horror doom Blizaro traffic. The Rochester, NY, trio — which features two-thirds of Orodruin in guitarist/vocalist John James Gallo and drummer Mike Waske, who are joined by bassist Mark Rapone — will mark a decade of existence with Strange Doorways, which is set for “coming soon”-type release through I, Voidhanger Records. News off the PR wire also makes mention of a follow-up to Blizaro‘s 2010 full-length, City of the Living Nightmare, expected in 2014 on Razorback Records.

Blizaro also self-released a long-player in 2012’s Blak Majicians that will be included on Strange Doorways. Here’s the announcement off the PR wire:

Out in October via I, Voidhanger Records: BLIZARO “Strange Doorways” 2-CD Anthology

Known mainly as the founder of superb doomsters ORODRUIN and now-defunct black metallers CRUCIFIST, singer/guitarist John Gallo has many alter egos and exciting musical incarnations, though BLIZARO is certainly the most adventurous and unpredictable of all.

BLIZARO’s songs are like dark portals leading to mysterious and macabre dimensions populated by mutants, ghosts, ghouls, and other unearthly presences. Like the Crypt Keeper from the infamous Tales From The Crypts comics, John Gallo tells us their stories of horror and madness using his own peculiar doom rock language, assisted by the unquestionable talents of Mike Waske (drums) and Mark Rapone (bass).

Musically, the band shortens the distances between the American way of doom and the school of Paul Chain and Black Hole, at the same time combining the so called “dark sound” and the heavy-psych/prog rock styles of the Seventies with the frightening synth-driven soundtracks composed by Goblin and Fabio Frizzi for Italian horror movies like Suspiria and The Beyond.

Next Autumn/Winter BLIZARO are going to release their highly-anticipated sophomore album, “Cornucopia della Morte” on CD, once again under the banner of the excellent horror metal label Razorback Records. A vinyl version shall follow next year on I, Voidhanger Records, but first we will celebrate BLIZARO’s first decade of life by releasing a monumental 2-CD anthology that will offer a complete pan on the band’s doom eccentricities.

Aptly titled “Strange Doorways” and wrapped in the stunning, visionary artwork conceived by Costin Chioreanu, the box-set will feature all the BLIZARO demo recordings: “Horror Rock” (2006), “Blue Tape” (2008, with a cameo from Peter Vicar of Reverend Bizarre fame!), an expanded version of “The Old Wizard Of Winter” (2009), and the amazing “Blak Majicians” album (2012). Plus lots of rare, unreleased and never-heard-before tracks directly from John Gallo’s vaults.

The 2-CD release will come with a luxurious 20-page full-colour booklet featuring extra artwork by Costin Chioreanu (who has drawn new covers for each demo!), rare band photos, plentiful liner notes by John Brenner of REVELATION, and track-by-track commentaries provided by John Gallo himself!

www.i-voidhanger.com
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Blizaro, “Strange Doorways”

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Live Review: Days of the Doomed II (Day Two), Cudahy, WI, 06.16.12

Posted in Reviews on June 19th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Day Two at Days of the Doomed II began with what, if I were the proprietor of a diner or family restaurant, I would call the “Aristotle Omelet”: Feta cheese and gyro meat with tzatziki sauce on the side. I almost asked for pita instead of toast, and if I had it to do over again, I’d get tomatoes in there as well, but it nonetheless was the foundational meal for a hearty afternoon and night of doom to come. Did better for me in any case than the bar pie that later served as dinner at The Blue Pig, the delicious smell of which offered no hint of the agita betrayal to come.

Postman Dan and I, in good spirits despite the periodically downpouring rain, tried to hit a record and horror/movie/music memorabilia store called Graveyard (not, presumably, to be confused with the band of the same name), but finding it closed for the weekend, headed over to the venue to catch the start of the day. A lineup 11 bands strong — Blizaro, Beelzefuzz, Apostle of Solitude, Argus, Blood Farmers, Blackfinger, Earthen Grave, The Skull, Earthride and Solace — began with Die Monster Die, and if you told me the reason Graveyard Records was closed was because the owner was busy opening down at The Blue Pig, I’d believe it.

The three-piece Die Monster Die, who’ve reportedly been a band since 1984, played the kind of rudimentary, horror-loving post-Misfits punk ‘n’ roll you’d expect. Every town has an equivalent act (in New Jersey, that act happens to still be The Misfits), but for being immediately familiar, choruses about snakepits and college girls — watching them, I could picture the words followed by exclamation points on a movie poster — weren’t offensively redundant. Two false starts preceded their first song, and though they looked like a monster ran into a couple bikers and asked if they wanted to be his rhythm section, somehow it worked.

Ever one for making the wrong decision, I waited to start drinking until later in the afternoon. Already my head was swimming with the thought of the drive first back to Lansing to drop off Il Postino (which I’ve never called him, but will one of these days) and then subsequently to New Jersey, so until I actually began downing beers and decided I didn’t give a fuck anymore, the earlier part of the day felt a little like a pre-gallows last meal. Nonetheless, I was stoked to find Blizaro taking the stage after Die Monster Die with Orodruin‘s John Gallo on guitar and Mike Waske on drums. Joined by bassist Mark Rapone — who would’ve won had Days of the Doomed II had a beard competition — Gallo took the fore vocally and unleashed a palpable horror obsession that was all the more fitting after the lead-in it got from Die Monster Die.

A mad scientist cackling behind his Moog, Gallo made no bones about his allegiances. Blizaro came across like Goblin raised on Pentagram, and theirs was honestly the only Paul Chain cover I’ve ever heard that actually fit with a band’s own originals. They did “Voyage to Hell” from Paul Chain Violet Theatre‘s 1984 outing, Detaching from Satan (it also appeared on Chain‘s Alkahest in 1995), and though they were silly and they knew it, and though Gallo‘s vocals were rougher than Orodruin bassist Michael Puleo‘s had been the night before in that band, the atmosphere was distinct enough that comparisons between one act and the other felt superfluous. Two out of three of the same dudes, but a different band with a different kind of charm.

Their set went long. Rapone broke a bass string. It happens. They never really regained the momentum they had going into that technical difficulty afterwards, but they still got to finish out their full setlist because Beelzefuzz — apparently in a game of oneupsmanship as regards misfortune — blew a tire en route to The Blue Pig and didn’t have a spare. Indianapolis’ Apostle of Solitude stepped in to fill the slot, and though at this point they’re too good a band to play so low on the bill, the circumstances were what they were. By the time Blizaro finished, Apostle of Solitude only went on 20 minutes early, anyway. I don’t know if people figured Beelzefuzz weren’t coming or what.

Either way, Apostle of Solitude had a new demo for sale (the band has since granted me permission to host it for streaming; it’ll go up tomorrow) with three songs, and they played two of them — demo opener “Blackest of Times” and “Die Vicar Die” — quickly showing off melodic progress in their approach. The insistence in the drumming of Corey Webb and the bass of “Iron” Bob Fouts made the groove of “Blackest of Times” even more satisfying, and the addition of guitarist Steve Janiak (also of Devil to Pay) following 2010’s second album, Last Sunrise, has clearly given frontman Chuck Brown more range vocally. Arrangements on the newer material were more complex, and Janiak and Brown sounded even better during the chorus of “Die Vicar Die” live than they do on the recording.

For what it’s worth, that song was stuck in my head before it was finished — the chorus I was hearing was “All the good die,” instead of the title line, which I didn’t know yet — and it has remained there pretty much ever since. Brown waffles the melody as he and Janiak hold out the second “die,” and it reminds of ’90s heavy without directly emulating grunge or being anything other than Apostle of Solitude‘s increasingly individual take on doom, separating stylistically even from fellow Hoosiers The Gates of Slumber, whose bassist Jason McCash was working the merch table while Apostle played and who had reportedly had a rough show a few nights earlier in their hometown. Some light teasing ensued.

And though Brown preceded set-closer “The Messenger” from their 2008 Sincerest Misery debut with an “Alright ladies” — because it’s not metal unless someone questions your masculinity first — that wasn’t enough to take away from the early headliner feel of their performance. Pennsylvania natives Argus capitalized on that vibe and took the stage gracefully bearing more reverence than even vocalist Butch Balich‘s pedigree in Penance could give them. It seems their two albums — 2009’s Argus debut and the follow-up, Boldly Stride the Doomed (which was on my Top 5 I Didn’t Hear in 2011 but which I bought from their merch table) — have made quite an impression.

No argument. Argus, who were already pretty solid when last I encountered them live (SHoD in 2009; no review), have grown into an accomplished and formidable traditional doom outfit. Balich is the focal point, his vocals are stellar and powerful, but the dual guitars of Jason Mucio and Erik Johnson behind him made a strong case for classic riffage, and the rhythm section of drummer Kevin Latchaw and bassist Andy Ramage complemented the metallic drive well. The mix seemed off in that the vocals were loud, but listening to “Durendal” from the second album, I didn’t even mind. Chewing gum the entire time, Balich hit notes that would’ve cut lesser singers in half, making it sound easy. If I had that kind of talent, I’d chew gum too.

The room was filling up by the time they were halfway through — no time like the present to start drinking — and The Blue Pig seemed pretty quick to roast, but the band handled it well, and boldly strode through the extended “Pieces of Your Smile” and a cover of Candlemass‘ “At the Gallows End” (from Nightfall, 1987) that was as well performed as it was bravely chosen. Balich is probably one of two or three doom vocalists in the US who could hope to stand up to Messiah Marcolin, and though he didn’t display the kind of dramatic acrobatics (or, if you’d prefer: dramacrobatics) that distinguished Marcolin in his day, neither did he fall short of the task before him. Having given the mic to the crowd twice in the chorus, he kept it to himself for the last round, as if to make plain his ability to do so. Point taken.

Like Apostle of Solitude before them, Argus also finished off with the first song from their first record (unless I have that order wrong and it was the Candlemass cover last; someone please correct me if need be). “Devils, Devils” was well met with a sing-along chorus, and by the time it was done, Beelzefuzz had finished loading in their gear. They looked haggard and stressed from their road troubles, and with the extra time that had been taken from Blizaro‘s bass string and longer set, there wasn’t much room for them on the bill. They got on stage quickly after Argus and as a “thanks for making the trip”-type consolation prize, played two songs.

Car troubles suck, and because I’d enjoyed what I’d heard of them previously, I made sure to buy the Marylanders’ demo. They seemed to be way more classic rock-influenced that I’d previously given them credit for being, but still, they were barely there. Two songs wasn’t really enough time for them to build any momentum or hook the crowd, and they were pretty much a stopgap on the way from Argus to Blood Farmers, however cool those two songs might have sounded. Fest organizer Mercyful Mike Smith took the stage after they were done and said something about probably being the most hated guy in the room for cutting them short, but I think everyone knew the deal. They’ll just be one more thing to look forward to about SHoD in August.

It was somewhere right around this time, maybe a little later, that I realized The Blue Pig had Newcastle in bottles. Probably the timing there is fortunate, or I’d have long since been on my ass by the time Blood Farmers got going. As it was, I was conscious enough to watch guitarist Dave Szulkin (also of the recently-reviewed The Disease Concept), bassist/vocalist Eli Brown and drummer Tad Leger receive a proper and encouraging amount of respect from the crowd. Blood Farmers are a fest band for me, it seems. I caught them last year twice, both times at festivals, and while I’d like to see how they’d do on a bill of their own, their no-frills doom does really well standing them out subtly from a crowded surrounding lineup like that at Days of the Doomed II.

This was the second time I’d heard new song “Headless Eyes” live — it’ll also reportedly be the title-track of their next album — and it confirmed its awesomeness. On the whole, the performance was more or less on par with last year’s SHoD showing, but Brown‘s vocals are more confident, and after hearing Szulkin‘s guitar in The Disease Concept, I almost couldn’t help but pay closer attention to his solos, which impressed more than I’d previously given them credit for. It’ll be really interesting to hear what a new Blood Farmers album sounds like. It’s been 17 years since their self-titled came out, but their footing is sure, creatively, and they’ve only gotten tighter the more I see them. I’m anxious to hear how the full-length comes out.

Between the bands, I was taking notes at the bar (you can see them at the top of this post) and the bartender asked me, “Are you keeping score?” I said I was, that they were winning, and asked for another Newcastle, which she graciously gave me. With the start of Blackfinger‘s set, the evening was about to get awfully Troubled, and it seemed only right to be ready. I was looking forward to Blackfinger specifically, apart from just getting to hear Eric Wagner sing, after interviewing him last year and spending a not-at-all-insignificant amount of time with their single, “All the Leaves are Brown” to prepare. They played that song and a host of others from their yet-to-be-released debut album.

Should say something about Trouble‘s impact on the Midwestern doom mindset that more than a quarter of the day’s lineup would be devoted to members of the band and their projects, and not to take away from the rest of Blackfinger or what the band was doing as led by Wagner‘s songwriting — where was the standup bass? — but really, he couldn’t help but stand out. The sunglasses, the curls, the calm stage demeanor seemed to make of him a center around which the rest of the band revolved. All well and good — I don’t think anyone would argue the Chicago native doesn’t deserve to have a project in which he has sole control — some kind of solo… project…? — but speaking as a doom fanboy and someone with a keyboard in front of him, it’s time for all these dudes to get over their crap and get Trouble back together.

I’m sorry, but it needs to be said. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Blackfinger or former Trouble bassist Ron Holzner‘s Earthen Grave, who followed. In fact, I’d hope that both Wagner and Holzner would continue their involvement in these other bands as well and just go back to Trouble in addition to working with them. I know things were shitty when the band was trying to put out Simple Mind Condition in the States in 2007 and the label, Escapi, folded and whatever else happened and egos clashed and blah blah blah, but seriously, let’s get this thing moving. It’s time. Time for one of those killer heavy metal comebacks and time for Trouble to regroup, get some good PR behind them, tour with Saint Vitus and get their fucking due from the booming American doom scene. Season of Mist? Napalm Records? Fuck it, somebody‘ll sign the band. Get some new shit going — maybe don’t call the album The Dark Riff, as previously intended — and do it before you decide you’re sick of the whole thing and walk away entirely.

Watching both Holzner and Wagner do a set of Trouble songs as The Skull only underscored the point of how much a full Trouble reunion — Wagner, Holzner, Bruce Franklin, Rick Wartell and Jeff “Oly” Olson — needs to happen. But let me back up. Before that, Holzner veered farther from the Trouble blueprint with Earthen Grave, who are somewhat more progressive and who had the honor of playing host to the weekend’s only female performer in violinist Rachel Barton Pine. That’s right. One lady, and even she had to wear a leather bustier before they’d let her on stage — okay, maybe not, but you get my point. They were also the weekend’s only six-piece (unless you count Solace, who have Beer as their unofficial sixth member). They did songs from their self-titled full-length, which I bought, and though I was underwhelmed at their 2009 demo, I feel like I got some better sense of what they were going for watching them live, the guitars coming through with more energy and vocalist Mark Weiner proudly showing off his Earthride shirt and stage presence at once. Being sandwiched by two Eric Wagner-fronted sets is no easy task, and I salute the Earthen Grave singer for standing up to it.

By midway through their set, though, I was drunk enough for a shot of Crown Royal — What? No Jameson’s? — to seem like a mildly good idea, and things only got more tragic as The Skull took shape on stage. The catalog they were drawing from — i.e. Trouble‘s — was vast, and it was like they went into it saying, “Oh, so it’s doom you want is it?” And you know what the thing is about Trouble‘s doom? It’s fucking doomed. That’s some depressing shit right there, and I guess I was feeling the weight of the trip, the day, the beer, and all of it when they hit. I hadn’t realized Olson wasn’t going to be a part of The Skull as well, but as he reportedly dropped out to wait for a full reunion, I give him even more respect for not doing it half-hearted.

I was starting to feel like I was doing it half-hearted myself, but then The Skull kicked into “At the End of My Daze” to close out their set and I got all pathetic doom geek about it. Didn’t do much to improve my mood, but I fortunately had enough wits about me to stop imbibing, and when Earthride got started, their thickened Maryland doom grooved away the rest. I know frontman Dave “Sherm” Sherman has a gravelly speaking voice, and I know he talks about Wino a lot, and I know he’s a character on stage and his stage moves are a lot of fun and it’s awesome when he puts his arms up on the handlebars for the song “Earthride” and whatever else, but more than anything, what I took away from Earthride‘s performance at Days of the Doomed II? The dude can fucking sing.

Really. He’s always been about presence, right? There’s never been any doubt who you’re watching when you’re watching him front Earthride — that’s Sherm, no doubt about it. And he’s become a godfather of Maryland doom, and rightly so. But on 2010’s Something Wicked and in the several times I’ve seen him since, he’s shown that he’s more than going through the motions or capitulating to doomly expectation. He’s putting his heart and soul into singing those songs, and his melodic range isn’t his hallmark — it’s like not he’s James Fucking LaBrie up there — but it says something that rather than rest on his laurels as he easily fucking could at this point with three killer Earthride records under his belt (not to mention the EP, the digipak re-release of which they had for sale at their merch table and which I bought) and a tenure playing bass in Spirit Caravan before that, Sherman is pushing himself to be a better singer and actually becoming one. I have 10 mountains of admiration for him, sincerely. The dude sweats doom in the face of neither glory nor remuneration.

Add to that the fact that Earthride — as a full unit — are possibly the tightest now that they’ve ever been and become more of a blues band every time I see them, and you can’t lose. Bassist Josh Hart‘s Rickenbacker combined with guitarist Kyle Van Steinburg‘s tone results in a molasses so lurching there were moments during their set at Days of the Doomed II where I wasn’t sure they were actually moving the way you look at a glacier and have to wonder. Drummer Eric Little, charged with giving that glacier its push, punctuated the hooks of “Something Wicked” and “Fighting the Devils Inside of You” just right, and new song “Blackbeard’s Scorn” was the heavy’s heavy. Earthride‘s been together going on 15 years in one form or another and it feels like they’re just hitting their stride.

And if I can directly quote from my notes just once in this already considerable second in a series of two reviews, let me just say this about Solace, “Do I really have to drive out to fuckin’ WI to see a band from Jersey? Worth it.” Here’s the way “the Solace magic” works: You don’t play a show in more than a year. You get back together with your former drummer with whom you haven’t played in even longer than that — Kenny Lund told me at one point it’d been four years since he’d played out with Solace — then you show up at the fest you’re closing out, get loaded, and absolutely fucking destroy. Ta-da!

If Solace had their shit together, it wouldn’t work. If they arrived on time, or didn’t leave you wondering if their set was even going to happen, it wouldn’t have the same force when it actually did. It has to be as volatile as it was at Days of the Doomed to be Solace. Their frustration is what makes it go.

However many times I’ve seen Solace at this point, I don’t even know. This was not their cleanest set, not the tighest, or crispest, or soberest. What it was, though, was honest. I stood in front of the stage at The Blue Pig and I watched five guys rip through a set of songs they believe in the way people believe in god; the kind of deep, instinctive belief that you couldn’t separate them from if you even wanted to, and watching them, wanting to was about the farthest thing from my mind, seconded only by the drive home I’d be starting in about eight hours. They were the only band all weekend to make the stage they were playing on look small. I said that afterwards to vocalist Jason and he asked me if it meant they were getting fat. No, it meant that he, guitarists Tommy Southard and Justin Daniels, bassist Rob Hultz and Lund brought something to close out Days of the Doomed II that no one who played before them had been able to capture. On stage, Southard called it “drunk Jersey scum rock.” Maybe that’s what it is — that’s as good a name as anything I could come up with — but whatever you want to call it, it’s theirs and theirs only.

They finished with an extended jam on Pentagram‘s “Forever My Queen” — the second of the weekend’s two Pentagram covers — and by halfway through the song, Lund was leaning on the back wall. I know from speaking to them that they were down on the performance, but god damn, if you’re going to end a festival, do it with something you can’t possibly imagine anyone following, and that’s what Solace brought to Wisconsin. And then it was over.

Before I go, a note on the travel: There was a lot of it. I left out of the hotel at about 7:40AM Wisconsin time, dropped Postman Dan off in Lansing at 2PM and made it back to my humble river valley with miraculous expediency at 11:40PM, taking the life of only one possum in the process. It was a fucking lot of driving. More than I’d prefer to do in one day. But for the quality of memories I brought back with me to the Garden State, worth even the cost of gas on the Ohio Turnpike.

Special thanks to Mercyful Mike Smith for hosting me (and everyone else, I suppose) at Days of the Doomed II, to The Patient Mrs. for booking my hotel (Eli from Blood Farmers‘ line was, “Ooh, the Wyndham. Somebody has a job,” and thanks to him too), to Postman Dan for the most excellent company and Michigan microbrew recommendations, Tommy and Jenn Southard, Lisa Hass, the staff at The Blue Pig and, most of all, to you for reading.

Extra pics, as always, after the jump.

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Visual Evidence: All That is Heavy 2 Makes it Personal

Posted in Visual Evidence on April 2nd, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Not to be confused with the webstore formerly associated with StonerRock.com, this All That is Heavy is a mini-fest taking place next month up in Ottawa, Ontario. The lineup and show info/links/promo video, etc. have been posted on the forum, so check it out there if you want more info, but since the poster kicked so much ass, I figured I’d highlight it here too.

Dig and click to enlarge at will:

The art is by Bill Kole. For more info on him and his work, check out his band Ol’ Time Moonshine on Thee Facebooks here.

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