Review & Full Album Stream: Foghound, Awaken to Destroy

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

foghound awaken to destroy

[Click play above to stream Foghound‘s Awaken to Destroy in its entirety. Album is out this Friday, Nov. 23, on Ripple Music.]

It’s Foghound saying, “okay, let’s go.” And they do. Immediately, the impression Awaken to Destroy (their second for Ripple Music, third overall) gives is of continuing the thread of aggressive, sweeping heavy rock the Baltimore four-piece conjured on The World Unseen (review here) in 2016. A high-paced opening salvo begins with the title-track, and “Awaken to Destroy” seems to be a tailor-made opener for a live set. It brings in all three of the band’s vocalists — drummer Chuck Dukehart and guitarists Bob Sipes and Dee Settar — and launches the band’s third LP with a surge of energy that continues through the sharp and catchy “Known Wolves,” which follows. Sharp production from Frank “The Punisher” Marchand makes its presence known right away in the echo around the vocals and general largesse of tone from Sipes and Settar and former bassist Rev. Jim Forrester, whose late-2017 murder doesn’t exactly cast a pall over Awaken to Destroy, but is certainly present as part of the context in which the record arrives.

Front to back, the album is a good time, and if you listened to the centerpiece interlude “AVE!” and didn’t know that’s Forrester playing the acoustic guitar or that the subsequent “Keep on Shoveling” was released as a benefit single for his family and written in light of the medical issues he suffered through before his death, or that it’s his spoken word in the song itself, it’s easy to breeze through Awaken to Destroy and dig it for what it is: a willfully kickass heavy rock record full of tight performances, smart songcraft and a more dynamic sound than Awaken to Destroy had on offer that brings back some of the groove of Foghound‘s 2013 debut, Quick, Dirty and High (review here), without repeating that album in style or tone.

Hooks in songs like “Known Wolves,” “Keep on Shoveling” and “Gone up in Smoke” do well to carry the listener through the 11-track/41-minute outing as “Filthy” touches on social commentary, “Cut the Cord” brings the charge to an almost frenetic level ahead of the dynamic shifts in “In Due Time,” both of which remind of when Mike Dean stepped back up to front C.O.C. on their self-titled, and the quieter “Staring Down the Demons” presents an organ-laced examination of inner and outer turmoil. There’s further departure as jam-rooted closer “Death Will Tremble” taps a groove like self-titled-era Clutch with an edge of psychedelia in the guitar and keys that keeps a strong foundation as it should in the bass and drums, so yes, Awaken to Destroy handles its business in that destructive regard, but is informed by more than just the initial burst. The fact that Forrester was killed while it was being made, once you know it, is kind of inescapable.

foghound photo shane gardner

That is, there’s no way around it, and I’m not sure there should be, either on an emotional or a sociopolitical level when one considers gun violence even outside the seemingly constant stream of mass-shooting headlines. Frankly, it’s to Foghound‘s credit that Awaken to Destroy exists at all. It can’t have been an easy task to finish it, particularly for Dukehart, who was a bandmate of Forrester‘s in Sixty Watt Shaman as well, but the drummer’s vocals end up as a standout element in the material, and he seems to take a forward position in that regard with complement from Settar and Sipes. Having three vocalists — plus Forrester‘s contributions here in that regard and those on the opening two tracks from current bassist Adam Heinzmann, who’s known for his work in Internal Void and whose CV also includes stints in Pentagram and War Injun — only makes Foghound more of a powerhouse able to pull off shifts in mood and melody in addition to those of rhythm and tempo. Perhaps the starkest example is the turns from “AVE!” to “Keep on Shoveling” and then “Staring Down the Demons,” but the truth is Awaken to Destroy is full of deftly-composed changes that are nonetheless positioned for a clear A/B LP-style across-album flow.

It would be easy to write a thinkpiece about Forrester‘s murder and what a tragedy it was. And likewise, it would have been easy for Foghound to say, well, that’s that, nix the album entirely and either go back and re-record the material, write new songs, or not. Awaken to Destroy represents the harder path. “Keep on Shoveling” is a song about perseverance, and while the lyrics were written thinking about their bassist’s plight in another context — Forrester discussed his medical issues and time in a coma in an interview here — and the album that surrounds that single song is the manifestation of that mindset. This is the sound of Foghound, shoveling. And it fucking rocks. It’s an absolute triumph for the fact that it exists, yes, but what’s more, these songs represent the finest work the band has done to-date, and they already have two outings of righteous heavy rock to their credit. It’s a refusal to be consumed by loss. The cliché is to say that “Band Member X would want us to carry on,” but that’s a cliché for a reason.

I won’t attempt to feign impartiality here — this guy got fucking murdered. Gunned down outside of a tattoo shop. And instead of losing themselves in grief and being torn apart by the sheer senselessness of that, Foghound have stepped up and delivered a record that not only pays tribute to his memory but brings together the strongest elements of their approach in songwriting and execution and pushes their particular take on heavy rock forward from where it could be found just two years ago. It’s a multi-tiered victory and an album that, if they were going to continue at all, absolutely needed to happen. No doubt Foghound‘s fourth full-length, whenever it might arrive, will be marked as well by the changes they’ve been through — lineup being the least of them — but to even get to that point, they will have already managed to come through adversity the likes of which would indeed destroy lesser bands. Foghound, in contrast, could hardly seem more awakened than they do in this material.

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Foghound Release “Awaken to Destroy” Beer This Saturday with Oliver Brewing Co.

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

foghound beer

As Foghound move inexorably toward the release of their new album, Awaken to Destroy, which is set to come out Nov. 23 and will stream here in full on Nov. 21 — cheap plug, but it’s worth marking the calendar for — the Baltimore natives are making a stop this Saturday at Oliver Brewing Company to celebrate the release of a special Awaken to Destroy Foghound Double IPA. It’s been a minute since I had beer, but if the 2xIPA hits as hard as the new record for which it’s named, you’re gonna want to have a ride home handy. The band recently issued the “Return to Dragontooth” single in part to mark the occasion.

They’ve played the album release party already, so maybe some of you have Awaken to Destroy if you’re reading this. For the rest of us, it’ll be out through Ripple Music as the follow-up to the excellent and intense 2016 outing, The World Unseen (review here). “Return to Dragontooth” builds off of the prior song “Dragontooth,” which featured on the band’s 2013 debut, Quick, Dirty and High (review here).

Enough info. Drink up:

foghound awaken to destroy beer poster

Foghound Double IPA beer release party this Saturday night at Oliver Brewing!

Doors At 7, I Am The Liquor ( Richmond VA) opens at 8, Wasted Theory follows and then Foghound goes on around 10.

Come pick up a new CD, t-shirt, and a 6 pack of these fine cans!

Chuck Dukehart on “Return to Dragontooth”:

Recorded & mixed with Frank “The Punisher” Marchand during the “Awaken To Destroy” album sessions, “Return To Dragontooth” sees Foghound revisiting a track from their first self released album ” Quick, Dirty & High”. Put together quickly in the studio during those first album sessions, “Dragontooth” was then later fleshed out with more lyrics and a focused intensity that came from the song becoming a live set staple in the Foghound arsenal.

This time around saw Dee Settar adding additional lyrics and vocals as well as Hammond organ to the song, with Rev. Jim Forrester’s signature bass attack now taking it to another level. We are super stoked to have Oliver Brewing releasing this beer in our honor, and we know that you will enjoy it too!

Sit back, spark up, crack a fresh ” Awaken To Destroy” Double IPA from Oliver Brewing and punch your ticket to ” Return To Dragontooth”.

Stephen Jones of Oliver Brewing Company on “Awaken to Destroy” Double IPA:

Ever since Foghound first played live at Oliver Brewing Co. in the Summer of 2016, Chuck and I have talked about basing a beer around a future release, and that time has finally arrived. I couldn’t be happier to close out the Long Live Rock and Roll series of Double IPAs in 2018 with a celebration of Foghound’s “Awaken To Destroy” album, Volume XII of the series. It’s a bittersweet moment though, a celebration of their art, but also a tribute to former bass player Jim Forrester, taken from us in an act of senseless violence almost a year ago.

“Awaken To Destroy” is a big, bold IPA, aggressively bittered with Southern Cross and Magnum, dry hopped with Galaxy, Ella and Wakatu. Like the music that it represents, there are no compromises! For Jim!

Foghound is:
Chuck Dukeheart, III – Drums, Vocals
Dee Settar – Guitar, Vocals
Bob Sipes – Guitar, Vocals
Adam Heinzmann – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/foghoundbaltimore
https://twitter.com/Foghound2016
http://foghound.net/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
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http://www.ripple-music.com/

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Maryland Doom Fest 2019 Announces Lineup: Pentagram, Conan, Earthride, Mothership, Lo-Pan and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest 2019 announcement

Holy fucking shit. It’s a good thing Maryland Doom Fest 2019 isn’t until next June, because it’s going to take me that long to process how badass this lineup is. It’s like JB decided this was the year everybody plays. A fourth day has been added. A second venue has been added — it’s Cafe 611 and Guido’s Speakeasy now — and wow. Just, fucking, wow. The headliners: PentagramConanEarthride and Mothership. And the list of bands that follows is absolutely staggering. Of course some things are bound to change between now and then, and there are announcements yet to be made about the pre-show, but really. They’ve absolutely, positively gone to a completely new level of festival here.

It’s gonna be crowded.

And it’s gonna be a blast. If you need me, I’ll be booking my room at the Motel 6 in Frederick.

The announcement was simple and came just in the form of the poster — art is by Kyle Stratton, whose band Atala also make a return to the bill — and from near and far, far and wide, acts are coming in to make what looks like it’ll be an absolutely unforgettable weekend (-plus) of heavy.

Here’s the lineup:

maryland doom fest 2019 poster

MARYLAND DOOM FEST 2019 – JUNE 20-23

DOOMSTERS, GRUNGERS, SLUDGERS, STONERS, & PAGANS —

We are extremely pleased to present to you……The Maryland Doom Fest 2019 lineup!!!

50 of the heaviest, most talented bands to grace the stage.

We bring you INTERITUM from Tasmania, CONAN from England, PENTAGRAM from our soil, and an additional 47 top performing USA acts traveling from all across the continent!!

As if that’s not enough, the MDDF Pre-Fest Party will be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the SHoD (Stoner Hands of Doom) Festival with a spectacular lineup of bands who have performed at the great SHoD fests in years past!! The Pre-Fest / SHoD 20th Anniversary Celebration will be monumental in countless ways!!!!

Please support the Doom scene and share this epic event with your comrades and we will see you at #4daysofdoom !!!!

EARLY BIRD Discounted ticket sales start Dec. 17th, 2018 – for two weeks only.

This astronomical lineup and the 2019 festivities are dedicated to my very good friend and prior MDDF partner from 2015 – 2018, Mark Cruikshank!!

DooM !!! ~JB

Lineup:
Earthride
Warhorse
Solace
Wasted Theory
Devil to Pay
Deer Creek
Weed is Weed
Freedom Hawk
After the Sun
Mothership
Pale Divine
Lo Pan
Year of the Cobra
The Age of Truth
Backwoods Payback
Kingsnake
Interitum
The Druids
Clouds Taste Satanic
Benthic Realm
Dead Sisters
Funeral Horse
Pentagram
Apostle of Solitude
Foghound
Beelzefuzz
Atala
Sixes
Forming the Void
Knoxxville
Atomic 26
Eternal Black
Greenbeard
Electric Age
Pale Grey Lore
Thunderchief
Seasick Gladiator
Crooked Hills
Conan
ZED
Kings Destroy
Toke
Thousand Vision Mist
Horehound
Thonian Horde
Shadow Witch
Faith in Jane
Temptations Wings
Wolf Blood
Stone Dust Riders

https://www.facebook.com/events/371836710006412/
https://www.facebook.com/MdDoomFest/
https://www.themarylanddoomfest.com/

Earthride, Live at Maryland Doom Fest 2018

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2018 Night Two, 06.23.18

Posted in Features, Reviews on June 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest 2018 night two poster

This scene is staggering. In terms of enclaves of hard and heavy, Maryland doom might be rivaled only by Floridian death metal and New York hardcore for longevity, and I’m pretty sure neither of those dates back to the early ’70s. Think about that. For almost as long as there’s been an idea of “heavy,” there’s been Maryland doom. And the number of lifers in bands and out boggles the mind. At best, I’m an interloper here, and I’d never claim otherwise. Every year or two or three, I’m lucky enough to come down for a fest or something like that, poke my head around and be humbled by the spirit that lives in this place. To actually be a part of it? I can’t imagine.

Maryland Doom Fest has taken on the responsibility not only of representing its native creatives, but in providing the scene a bridge to the outside world as well. The second day of Maryland Doom Fest 2018 did like day one and branched out in geography and sound, the scope of the festival increasing each year even as it maintains its ties to the place whose banner it flies. There’d be plenty of doom, but noise and heavy rock as well, metal both tangible and intangible, and more besides. You bet your ass it’s overwhelming. Maryland Doom Fest comes but once a year. Gotta make it count.

Another rainy day in Frederick set the gray-sky tone for a bill that would start out dark and work its way to the murkiest finish of all with Windhand headlining. Here’s how it happened:

Electropathic

Electropathic (Photo JJ Koczan)

As with Unorthodox last night, the new band fronted by Gary Isom, guitarist in Weed is Weed and former drummer in Spirit Caravan, Pentagram, Valkyrie and others, is a cross-generational affair. Along with drummer Ronnie Kalimon (formerly of Asylum, Unorthodox, etc.), Electropathic features young bassist/backing vocalist Zak Suleri and lead guitarist Eli Watson, both of Et Mors, and with Isom in the frontman role, they ran through a set of classic Maryland doom. Defined in no small part by their lack of pretense, they seemed to still be feeling out where they were ultimately headed as a band. They formed in the back half of last year by all appearances, so while none of them is a stranger to the stage, they’re in the process of developing their chemistry and sound. Likewise, Isom was still internalizing his position at the fore — even in Weed is Weed, he’s off to the side of the stage. He held it down though and their riffs resounded like a clarion to the converted still making their way in — time to go to church, school, whatever. Just time to go.

Molasses Barge

Molasses Barge (Photo JJ Koczan)

Hailing and hauling from Pittsburgh, Molasses Barge reaffirmed the connection between Steel City and Maryland doom that’s been there since the days of Dream Death‘s original run and probably even before that. The five-piece released their self-titled album in 2017 on Blackseed Records and had songs from that and new material in tow, which frontman Brian “Butch” Balich announced from the stage saying drummer Wayne Massey “calls this one ‘Tin Snake,'” or something thereabouts (hard to read the notes, sorry if I’ve got the title wrong). Balich is a formidable presence on his own, as he’s proven over the years in Penance, Argus and most recently Arduini/Balich, and in Molasses Barge he sets his powerful voice the task of cutting through the low end tone rollout from guitarists Justin Gizzi and Chuck Forsythe and bassist Amy Bianco that, presumably is what gives the band its name. Classic heavy riffs and a touch of metal underpinning, they were unsurprisingly met with welcome by the early crowd, and brought out Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun to co-front a cover of that band’s “On the Mountain” to pay righteous homage to founding guitarist “Iron” Alfred Morris III, who passed away earlier this year.

Shadow Witch

Shadow Witch (Photo JJ Koczan)

I said as much to vocalist Earl Walker Lundy after their set, but I’ve always sensed something a little weird in Shadow Witch. Across the Kingston, New York, four-piece’s two albums to-date, last year’s Disciples of the Crow (review here) and 2016’s Sun Killer (discussed here), there’s been an edge of something standing them out from the pack. Having now seen them live, I feel like I have a better sense of what it is. In no small part, it’s Lundy himself. He carries across his vocals with utmost conviction and purpose, and backed by bassist David Pannullo, guitarist Jeremy Hall and drummer Doug Thompson, he ran his voice through a range of effects and performed barefoot — a bravery in itself considering the amount of spillage I’ve seen on that stage over the last two days — as free in is movement physically as his voice was to carry across the songs. They dwell in a between-genre space and remaining excitingly difficult to classify, but what matters is they carried their passion over to the audience, who met it with welcome. Good band. Better band than people know. Better band than I knew.

Doomstress

Doomstress (Photo JJ Koczan)

Speaking of bands I should’ve seen already, I went into Doomstress‘ set with the distinct impression that their recorded material to-date has yet to do them proper justice. They tour regularly on week and week-plus runs and had been on the road for four nights already en route to Cafe 611, so it seemed likely the Houston four-piece would be on top of their game. Not to toot my own horn, but I was right. They’re a better band than they’ve shown on either of their short releases. It’s a question of balance in their sound. Not just between tonal heft and aggression/attitude or the commanding stage presence of Doomstress Alexis on bass and vocals with guitarists Brandon Johnson and Matt Taylor and drummer Buddy Hachar (also of Greenbeard), or of between the classic and the modern, but between the actual instruments themselves. The live wash of tone suits them, with Alexis‘ vocals cutting through, where on their recordings thus far there’s more separation of instruments. It’s dirtier live, and for the high quality riffs they play, that dirt fits really well. Especially coupled with the fact that their performance was so tight, it was like they were daring the crowd to match their energy level.

The Age of Truth

The Age of Truth (Photo JJ Koczan)

Another band it was my first time seeing (that’s five in a row!), Philly four-piece The Age of Truth had been hanging out all weekend and getting down with some shenanigans the first night of Maryland Doom Fest, but when they got on stage, it was all business. Well, mostly business. One seems to recall vocalist Kevin McNamara saying something before they went on about taking his shirt off and rubbing his nipples on the microphone — it didn’t happen, though it might’ve been an interesting bit of performance art; “what do those nipples signify?” and so on — but with the start of the set, he, guitarist Mike DiDonato, bassist Bill Miller and drummer Scott Fressetto launched into the most noise-rocking set the festival has thus far featured. Their blend of heavy rock groove and crunching tones and riffs made their Kozmik Artifactz-delivered debut, Threshold (review here), an aggro joy, and their live interpretation of those songs as well as the new cut “Palace of Rain” was all the more engaging for the ferocity of its realization. The slow-rolling-int0-quicker-shuffle of “Caroline” was a highlight, but I won’t take anything away from the impact of “Honey Pot” or anything else either. With an injection of melody into the newer stuff, they left some intrigue as to where they might be headed — a proper tease of something to watch for. It’ll be worth keeping an eye out.

Switchblade Jesus

Switchblade Jesus (Photo JJ Koczan)

Before Switchblade Jesus took the Cafe 611 stage, I was asked by Borgo Pass drummer and all-around-excellent-human-being Joe Wood what they sounded like. The first two words that came out of my mouth were “Texas” and “riffs.” To be fair, that’s not by any means all the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Eric Calvert, bassist/vocalist Chris Black and drummer Jon Elizondo have to offer, but if you’ve never heard them before, it’s a start. They made an encouraging self-titled debut (review here) in 2013 and followed up last year with a contribution to Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy split series (review here), which took the foundation of that initial offering and expanded it significantly, pulling back on some of the burl in favor of a more nuanced approach. Their set in Maryland? With Calvert and Black sharing vocal duties and Elizondo pounding away behind, they rose to the occasion. In front of the stage, the crowd headbanged and raised fists and dug in nearly as much as the band itself, whose set was flawless near as I could tell. I’ve seen them twice now, been impressed both times, and could only expect that trend to continue for the next round, whenever that might be.

Foghound

Foghound (Photo JJ Koczan)

The weekend’s emcee, Dave Benzotti, choked up in reading his intro to Foghound, which also served as a remembrance of those the Maryland doom scene has lost over the last year, including bassist Rev. Jim Forrester of Foghound (also Serpents of Secrecy, ex-Sixty Watt Shaman, etc.), and reasonably so given the tragedy of the circumstances of his passing. The inevitability of that loss working its way into the current chapter of Foghound‘s life as a band was thick as the Baltimore four-piece got going, but if they were working toward catharsis, they were doing so with volume and intensity as their means. Their third album, Awaken to Destroy,on which Forrester performs bass and new bassist Adam Heinzmann contributes vocals alongside those of drummer Chuck Dukeheart III and guitarists Dee Settar and Bob Sipes, is done and in the can, and they played material from it both during their own set — the title-track — and afterwards through the P.A., which went unnoticed by many by Dukeheart later explained was a way to get Forrester‘s playing heard even if people didn’t realize they were hearing it at the time. As they also played with a portrait of Forrester signed by many with messages of love (I didn’t have the courage), his presence and absence were both deeply felt by the room, but the music was a fitting tribute and a comfort alike.

Cavern

Cavern (Photo JJ Koczan)

Prog prog prog. Also, prog. It’s fun to watch a band who so delight in being bizarre or outside the norm, and while local instrumentalists Cavern were for sure the odd men out on the bill, that suited them remarkably well and I can only imagine it wasn’t the first time they’ve found themselves in that position. Drummer Stephen Schrock played a kit with his toms out flat before him while Zach Harkins ran his guitar through one of the most elaborate pedal boards I’ve seen this weekend and still had room on stage for a Moog to add atmosphere to the intricate and complex songs they played. Denizens of Grimoire Records, they were a perfectly timed departure. Following Foghound with another straight-up rock band would only be doing said band a disservice, but Cavern were coming from somewhere else completely, so there was no real comparing the two outfits. A jolt to the flow of the night that only served Cavern well, since with all their looped parts, woven-through noise and underlying groove, “jolt” seemed to be the whole idea. It would be all-go riffing from here on out, but whether one considers them on their own merits or in the context of the Maryland Doom Fest 2018 lineup, their efforts toward the bizarre were duly appreciated.

The Watchers

The Watchers (Photo JJ Koczan)

The second Ripple Music act on the bill to have made the trip from the Bay Area behind ZED, four-piece The Watchers delivered one of the most professional sets I’ve seen so far this weekend. I mean, The Obsessed were pro-shop, right? And so were ZED, since they’ve been mentioned, but The Watchers had it all down — from riffs to looks to delivery to vocalist Tim Narducci and guitarist Jeremy Epp working the crowd with natural showmanship while bassist Cornbread and drummer Carter Kennedy locked in groove after groove of rock-solid heavy rock, playing selections from this year’s Black Abyss (review here) as well as the preceding EP, Sabbath Highway (review here). They had a near-commercial level of catchiness, but since that’s not a thing that exists anymore, I’ll just note that as much clear effort as they put into their presentation, the accessibility of the songs came from the songs themselves and the quality of their construction. Were they up there selling it? Absolutely. And kicking ass while doing so, but if the material itself wasn’t so strong the whole thing would’ve fallen flat. The foundation of the entire show was the material itself, and accordingly that show was an utter joy to watch.

Earthride

Earthride (Photo JJ Koczan)

I actually went back and looked up the last time I saw Earthride. It was at Days of the Doomed in 2012 (review here). I also recalled seeing them in Brooklyn in 2011 sharing the stage with When the Deadbolt Breaks, which was a noteworthy coincidence since that band’s guitarist/vocalist, Aaron Lewis, happened to be playing bass in Earthride, having joined just prior to the Maryland band’s just-ended tour with The Skull. Still, six years (and eight days) of not seeing Earthride? Far too fucking long. Dave Sherman, who’d been hanging out all weekend, took the stage in celebration of the welcome-home party that their set was, and with Lewis, guitarist Greg Ball and drummer Eric Little behind him, he held court for what was an absolute highlight of the fest as a whole. I’d been thinking of them as headliners the whole day, and while they didn’t play last, there was definitely a main-event feel going into their set, which started out with “Earthride,” boasted the new single “Witch Gun” (discussed here), the title-track to 2010’s Something Wicked (review here) and capped with “Fighting the Devils Inside You” from 2005’s sophomore LP, Vampire Circus (discussed here). Sherman held the audience and never relinquished his grasp on their attention, and the crowd was as switched on as I’d seen the whole fest. Like I said, they weren’t the headliners in name, but really, they kind of were. And rightly so.

Castle

Castle (Photo JJ Koczan)

Man, I want to hear Castle‘s new album. So bad. The core duo of bassist/vocalist Elizabeth Blackwell and guitarist/vocalist Mat Davis will issue that long-player through a yet-to-be-announced label, but they’re a touring band at their core. They get out. In talking to Davis after their set, he called their current stint a “quick one.” To put that in perspective, it’s a cross-country tour with 12 dates. I’m assuming what he meant was that it was nothing like the weeks-long voyages that will invariably follow the new full-length’s release, and I guess that’s fair, but 12 dates isn’t nothing either. Last time I saw Castle was Maryland Doom Fest 2016 (review here) as they were marking the release of that year’s Welcome to the Graveyard (review here), and though I knew it was coming, I was still blindsided by their intensity. Thrash, doom, classic metal, heavy groove and delighted pummel. Think of them as extreme traditional metal. They bring a classic sound to bear in their material — a number of classic sounds, actually — but have a ferocity to their execution of that which sets them apart from anything that might be considered “retro.” Coupled with the willful eeriness of their atmospheres and cultish themes, they can be all over the place, but that only makes them harder to pin down, and thus, all the more a thrill to watch. As the penultimate act of the evening, they were a last-minute kick in the ass before things got as far out as they would go, and though it had been a long day by then, Castle revived the spirit even as they seemed to herald its demise.

Windhand

Windhand (Photo JJ Koczan)
Windhand were the night’s headliner. They could’ve slinked in late, hid themselves backstage, got on, done their set, collected whatever there was to collect afterward and been on their way. Instead, the Richmond, Virginia, four-piece, who are arguably the most successful East Coast doom band of their generation and whose influence only continues to spread — trying to come up with another name and can’t; if you have one, I’d love to talk it out — hung around all day. They were back and forth through the venue, watching bands, meeting people, this and that. They had the option to take part or not to take part and they took part. And for a group at their level, on Relapse, having toured the world, etc., that’s not nothing. When they finally got on stage and got going, their fog-drenched riffs were as overwhelming as I remembered, and even though they’ve pared down from a five-piece, there was no discernible gap in volume from vocalist Dorthia Cottrell, guitarist Garrett Morris, bassist Parker Chandler and drummer Ryan Wolfe, who produced a soulful, lurching onslaught the likes of which Maryland Doom Fest had not yet known. Their new album, Eternal Return, was announced in April and will be released by Relapse as the follow-up to 2015’s Grief’s Infernal Flower (review here). No doubt it’s one of the most anticipated doom records for the rest of 2018 and whenever it rears its head will be yet another grueling landmark in a catalog that, at this point, teems with them while also constantly showcasing Windhand‘s progression. It was late, but in front of the stage was a press of humanity, and Windhand justified the urgency with a wash of volume and low end that was on a level all its own. A headlining slot well earned.

It’s almost 1PM on Sunday as I wrap this up and I still need to sort photos, shower and change clothes before I head out from Sparks to Frederick, so I’ll turn you over quickly to the pics after the jump and just say thanks for reading.

Because really, thanks for reading. More tomorrow, if you can believe it.

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Foghound Set Summer Release for Awaken to Destroy

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Awaken to Destroy is the name of the new Foghound album, and I don’t think there’s anyone who could argue it’s not arriving at a pivotal moment for the band. Their 2016 sophomore full-length, The World Unseen (review here) — also their debut on Ripple Music — was a big step in a more aggressive direction from their 2013 debut, Quick, Dirty and High (review here), marking, among other things, the first appearance of drummer Chuck Dukehart‘s former Sixty Watt Shaman bandmate, Rev. Jim Forrester, as Foghound‘s bassist.

Tracked by Frank “The Punisher” Marchand — who also helmed some of the recording for The World Unseen along with Mike Dean of C.O.C. — Awaken to Destroy will of course mark the final appearance from Forrester as a member of Foghound, as he was tragically gunned down in Fells Point, Baltimore, last December, owing to what last I heard was still an unknown motive. Foghound and Ripple released the benefit single “Keep on Shoveling” (posted here) to help his family with expenses, and no doubt they’ll continue to honor him this year as we move toward the late-summer release of Awaken to Destroy  and the band takes the stage at the inaugural New England Stoner and Doom Fest on April 21 and at Maryland Doom Fest in June.

The PR wire brings the latest details:

foghound photo shane gardner

FOGHOUND FINISH RECORDING THEIR THIRD FULL-LENGTH ALBUM ‘AWAKEN TO DESTROY’; PREPARING FOR A LATE SUMMER 2018 RELEASE ON RIPPLE MUSIC.

Maryland Doom & Stoner Rock stalwarts Foghound have recently put the finishing touches on their third full-length offering, entitled “Awaken To Destroy”. Their new album is set for a September 2018 release via Ripple Music.

Work began on the album in November 2016, with producer Frank Marchand (The Obsessed / Borracho) at the helm. Numerous delays along the way sidelined production due to health issues, professional and personal commitments, and then the tragic murder of bassist Rev. Jim Forrester in December 2017, just days after completing recording of the basic tracking.

“After seeing Jim claw and fight his way back after a major health scare and being in a coma last summer, only to be senselessly taken away from us all in this way, it really hit everyone like a ton of bricks”, says drummer / vocalist Chuck Dukeheart.

“The outpouring of love and support from everyone, and especially our friends and family in the Maryland Doom scene, was overwhelming. We can’t thank everyone enough for helping us, Jim’s wife Tina, and family to get through this terrible time.”

Among the multiple benefit events and fundraisers for the family, Ripple Music released as a benefit single the new Foghound track “Keep On Shoveling” on January 1st, via Bandcamp as a “Name Your Price” download purchase.

Written with a theme of perseverance in the face of adversity, the song features a spoken word portion from Rev. Jim. The song has taken on a new meaning for the band after his untimely passing.

Another new track, “Return To Dragontooth”, will appear on an upcoming benefit compilation, due out from Salt Of the Earth Records.

Foghound emphasizes, “One thing that became apparent was that we all knew, and Jim said as much when he was laid up in the hospital last summer, was that he wouldn’t want us to stop. In his words – ‘We still have shit to do.'”

After taking time to regroup, this February saw Foghound back in the studio to wrap up tracking of vocals, guitars, and keyboards. They have finally been able to complete mixing to get it ready for release.

Along with wrapping up the album, the band got themselves back in their rehearsal space, and have recruited long time friend of the band, bassist Adam Heinzmann (Internal Void, Pentagram), into the fold.

The band stated, “It was a very heavy, emotional time for us, to be back in the jamroom without Jim, but Adam really stepped up in a big way. His enthusiasm, preparedness, and love for the music really helped us get back to why we all play music. We were able to have fun again.”

Foghound is set to return to the stage with notable upcoming appearances at the New England Stoner and Doom Fest at Altone’s in Jewett City, Connecticut on April 21st, and The Maryland Doom Fest at Cafe 611 in Frederick, Maryland on June 23rd.

“We are looking forward to being a part of these stellar lineups and to play these new songs live. We can’t wait for this monster of an album to be unleashed at the end of the summer!”

Foghound (left to right in photo):

Chuck Dukeheart, III – Drums, Vocals
Dee Settar – Guitar, Vocals
Bob Sipes – Guitar, Vocals
Adam Heinzmann – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/foghoundbaltimore
https://twitter.com/Foghound2016
http://foghound.net/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/track/keep-on-shoveling-rev-jim-forrester-benefit
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Foghound, “Keep on Shoveling”

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Foghound Post Slideshow Video for Benefit Single “Keep on Shoveling”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

foghound

Last week, Baltimore heavy rockers Foghound and their label, Ripple Music, teamed up to reveal the benefit single Keep on Shoveling (posted here) to honor the memory of Rev. Jim Forrester, their bassist, who was murdered in December outside the tattoo shop where he worked in Fells Point. All proceeds from the name-your-price download, which you can engage via the Bandcamp player at the bottom of this post, go to Jim‘s wife and family for funeral expenses and whatever else. Really, if you’re asking what they’re using the money for, fuck you. Just give it to them and leave it at that.

Not that they need to make the case to contribute to the cause any more than by pointing out the simple fact that the cause exists — because jesus tapdancing christ somebody fucking shot Jim Forrester — but Foghound drummer Chuck Dukehart III, who was also a bandmate of Jim‘s in Serpents of Secrecy and Sixty Watt Shaman, put together a slideshow video of shots of Jim kicking ass and taking names on stage, which was pretty much how he did no matter which band he happened to be playing with that the time. There’s a couple of my photos in there from seeing Foghound at Vultures of Volume II (review here) in 2015 as well, and it’s nice to be included, but the truth is you shouldn’t even need to watch the video to be convinced. You should just buy the track and donate.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. The video’s there, so watch it. Then by the track. Or buy the track first, then watch the video. Whatever order you want works.

Here:

Foghound, “Keep on Shoveling” slideshow video

Foghound – “Keep On Shoveling” Benefit Single For The Family Of Rev Jim Forrester.

Released January 2nd 2017 On Ripple Music.

All proceeds from downloads of this song will go directly to benefit the family.

Rev. Jim Forrester was murdered, as you may know, leaving behind a grieving widow just before Christmas. This is the newest Foghound song, tracked with Frank Marchand while working on the new full length album, and was to be used as a special split 7″ project. Instead, we’re releasing it now to benefit the family of Rev Jim.

About this track, Chuck Dukehart III, Rev’s good friend and band mate in Foghound, had this to say: “It’s funny, because I actually wrote the lyrics to this song about perseverance in the face of adversity, specifically with him in mind after his first big health scare, but it’s kind of a universal truth.

Keeping on keeping on, no matter the odds and the bullshit thrown in your way….

Foghound, “Keep on Shoveling”

Foghound on Thee Facebooks

Foghound on Twitter

Foghound website

“Keep on Shoveling” on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Facebook

Ripple Music on Twitter

Ripple Music website

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Foghound Release Jim Forrester Benefit Single “Keep on Shoveling”

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

foghound david a wright

As the Maryland and greater East Coast heavy underground continues to struggle in making any sense of the ain’t-gonna-ever-make-any-sense-because-it’s-utterly-senseless murder last month of Rev. Jim Forrester, one-time bassist for Sixty Watt Shaman who was lately featured in the lineups for Foghound and Serpents of Secrecy, real-world fiscal concerns have continued to rear their heads for his wife and his family. Accordingly, Foghound have issued a new digital single through Ripple Music titled “Keep on Shoveling” as a name-your-price download, and perhaps more than any name-your-price download I’ve ever seen, this one invites the actual naming of a price. Like, actual money you should pay. All proceeds go directly to Jim‘s family.

Recorded by Frank “The Punisher” Marchand, “Keep on Shoveling” is the first new Foghound material to come out since their 2016 sophomore long-player and Ripple debut, The World Unseen (review here), and rest assured, it fucking rocks, even under the shittiest of circumstances. Seriously though, pay for it, even if you just toss a couple bucks their way. Few causes will be as worthy of your support in 2018 — at least one hopes.

Info from the Bandcamp page:

foghound keep on shoveling

Keep on Shoveling (Rev Jim Forrester Benefit) – by Foghound

All proceeds from downloads of this song will go directly to benefit the family.

Rev. Jim Forrester was murdered, as you may know, leaving behind a grieving widow just before Christmas. This is the newest Foghound song, tracked with Frank Marchand while working on the new full length album, and was to be used as a special split 7″ project. Instead, we’re releasing it now to benefit the family of Rev Jim.

About this track, Chuck Dukehart III, Rev’s good friend and band mate in Foghound, had this to say. “It’s funny, because I actually wrote the lyrics to this song about perseverance in the face of adversity, specifically with him in mind after his first big health scare, but it’s kind of a universal truth.

Keeping on keeping on, no matter the odds and the bullshit thrown in your way….

Head down, keep on Shoveling….”
Head down, keep on Shoveling….”

Name your price download – please support the family of our slain brother, and enjoy some heaviness.

https://www.facebook.com/foghoundbaltimore
https://twitter.com/Foghound2016
http://foghound.net/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/track/keep-on-shoveling-rev-jim-forrester-benefit
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Foghound, “Keep on Shoveling”

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R.I.P. Rev. Jim Forrester, 1974-2017

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

rev jim forrester photo shane gardner

UPDATE 1:00PM: According to the Baltimore Sun, Jim Forrester was shot outside Baltimore Tattoo Museum, where he worked. Tina Giles Forrester also elaborated on the situation:

I know that there are many questions. I will not keep this private. I want everyone to know that Jim was murdered. He was shot to death by a gutless coward. This may seem harsh to put out there, but this piece of fucking shit is still out there. I will continue to tell each and every person until this waste of a fucking life is caught and has to look me in my eyes. I want justice. I will not stop until I have justice.

6:00AM Details are few and far between at the time of this writing, and it seems likely that one way or another some sort of memorial fund or benefit will be set up in his honor, so this post may be updated in the near future, but word has been made public about the passing of Rev. Jim Forrester, current bassist for Foghound and Serpents of Secrecy and a co-founder of Maryland-based heavy rockers Sixty Watt Shaman.

Born Dec. 5, 1974, Forrester, with his body covered in tattoos all the way up to the top of his shaved head — bandanna-clad, of course — his piercings and his wide smile, cut a figure that was both larger than life and deeply human. His wife, Tina Giles Forrester, made the announcement on social media:

Tina Giles Forrester:

I cannot convey the amount of sadness in my heart as I type this post. Tonight.. my husband was tragically ripped from my life, from all of our lives. I cannot express the amount of love he had for the music, his fellow artists, and fans. I am left with tragic sadness and a searing rage. I will use my last breath to make sure the animal who did this will be caught and held accountable for this senseless atrocity. I love you Jim Forrester my sweet dark prince.

While the exact circumstances of his death remain unknown — and from the statement above, it would seem some outside party was involved one way or another — the veteran heavy rocker had suffered numerous health problems over the course of this past year stemming from a blood clot in his liver, which he detailed here in an interview just over a week ago:

Jim Forrester on health issues:

Over Memorial Day weekend, the Sunday to be exact, I awoke from a dead sleep to the most abhorrent abdominal pain I’ve ever experienced… I had a blood clot in my portal vein (liver) that was cutting off blood flow to my liver, pancreas, intestines, and various extremities… Blood thinners saved my ass, but also caused esophageal varices to burst, resulting in me puking up half my blood supply, intubation, and a three-day medically induced coma in which I almost checked out a few times as well… Three days later I awoke to what I thought was a heart attack. Returned to the hospital to find a pulmonary embolism, and a grouping of blood clots behind my right knee. Another week in the hospital, and back home with increased blood thinners (self-administered stomach injections, very metal)…

I had liver issues back in 2012 that I had worked through, I thought pretty successfully… It’s no secret I previously was a drink and drug enthusiast (no hard drugs for years now I will note) as cliche as it is, and I managed to do some significant damage to myself over the years. At various points I’ve been a bit of a mess, and have a lot of regrets regarding that aspect of my time. That aside, I lived a pretty hard life for an extended spell, pushed myself physically in ways that have consequences, and some of that is a factor as well… (read more here)

Forrester was also waiting to undergo hip surgery in the New Year after dealing with long-term damage due in part to a past ACL tear, though again, whether or not any of this was a factor in his passing is unconfirmed.

After cutting his teeth in the mid ’90s and early ’00s in Sixty Watt Shaman, Forrester moved to from Maryland and took part in a band called Angels of Meth before eventually relocating to West Virginia and rejoining his Sixty Watt Shaman bandmate Chuck Dukehart in Foghound and Serpents of Secrecy. In 2014, Sixty Watt Shaman got back together to play Desertfest Berlin and a few other limited engagements to celebrate their three albums — Ultra Electric (1998), Seed of Decades (2000) and Reason to Live (2002) — but the reunion would be short-lived as old personal issues resurfaced and the band once again split.

In 2016, he added low-end charge to Foghound’s second album, The World Unseen, fueling a more aggressive take from that band as they made their debut on Ripple Music. The debut single from Serpents of Secrecy was released earlier in 2017 through an alliance with Salt of the Earth Records, and both groups had or have new material in progress for issue in 2018. His last performance was an acoustic set with Foghound on Dec. 17 at the Baltimore Tattoo Museum’s annual holiday party.

On behalf of this site and on behalf of myself, I send condolences and strength to Rev. Jim’s many friends, fans and of course his family. As a personal note, even aside from this recent interview, he and I have been in touch for years and I know he was excited to get his health problems behind him, get back on stage full-boar and get back in the studio to make new music with bandmates he truly loved. He was someone second to nobody in passion for what he did, and his death is a significant loss. As much as I’ve enjoyed his work over the years, I will remember more the sincerity of his character and the wholesome spirit beneath his gruff exterior, and like all who were lucky enough to know him during his time, I will miss Jim.

Rest in Peace Jim Forrester, 1974-2017.

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