The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 31

Posted in Radio on April 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

The theme for this episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio is pretty straightforward if you listen. It’s comfort songs. You would not necessarily believe that of a playlist that opens with Total Fucking Destruction doing the title-track of an album called To Be Alive at the End of the World, but again, once you listen, it’s actually kind of soothing. There’s a fair amount of instrumental material included, led off by Yawning Man, and I think the part with Vinnum Sabbathi and Forming the Void is probably as heavy as it gets, though that new Elephant Tree track certainly has some roll to it. God damn that’s a good song, not that that’s a huge surprise from those guys.

I haven’t cut the voice breaks for it yet but will do so sometime before this is posted, but I intend to talk a bit about the Om song and my association with their early work and seeing them at SXSW for what I think might’ve been the first time. It was a while ago and it’s hard to remember for a few reasons, but anyway, if I can remember it between typing this and speaking that, I hope to speak to it a bit, because I know that’s not their most soothing stuff by a long shot, but the memory I have of it puts it in that framework for me. Closing with YOB’s “Marrow” was, of course, a given.

Thanks for listening if you do. I hope you enjoy, and if you see this and don’t listen, then thanks for reading. If you’re not reading, well, you’ll never know you were being thanked.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmeradio.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 04.03.20

Total Fucking Destruction To be Alive at the End of the World To be Alive at the End of the World*
Yawning Man I Make Weird Choices Macedonian Lines
Acid King Center of Everywhere Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
Colour Haze Peace, Brothers and Sisters! Colour Haze
BREAK
Pretty Lightning Boogie at the Shrine Jangle Bowls*
Elephant Tree Bird Habits*
Charivari Lotus Eater Descent*
Tia Carrera Layback Tried and True*
Vinnum Sabbathi Quantum Determinism Of Dimensions & Theories*
Forming the Void Manifest Reverie*
BREAK
Om Annapurna Variations on a Theme
YOB Marrow Clearing the Path to Ascend

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is April 20 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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Forming the Void Announce New Album Reverie out May 8; Single Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

forming the void

Louisiana-based heavy progressive rockers Forming the Void have announced the details of their forthcoming album on Ripple Music, titled Reverie. Metal Insider had the track premiere of the first single to the follow-up to 2018’s Rift (review here), and you can see the cover art — gorgeous — below, courtesy of the PR wire. The four-piece are currently wrapping up a tour with Church of Misery and they’ll head to Europe for the first time to hit the road with Spaceslug on a run that coincides with Reverie‘s release.

Easily one of the year’s most anticipated records. I have high expectations and no reason to think they won’t be met on every level. Certainly the new song streaming doesn’t hurt my argument.

From the PR wire:

forming the void reverie

Progressive doom voyagers FORMING THE VOID premiere new single; new album ‘Reverie’ due out May 8th on Ripple Music!

Louisiana-based astral doom purveyors FORMING THE VOID are ready to release their fourth album ‘Reverie’ this May 8th on Ripple Music! Enter another sonic dimension with first single “Trace The Omen.”

FORMING THE VOID’s new single “Trace The Omen” is a divine ode to modern psychedelia, weaving its way through your subconscious with its alluring and highly resonating Eastern-infused melodies, and a slow, fuzzed-out buildup. If you weren’t familiar with FTV’s progressive and above all expansive brand of heavy, then this is an official invitation.

“Trace the Omen was an esoteric one to write and record. With the atmospheric songs we go deep into exploring sounds, layers and dynamics to create a mystical vibe and cosmic energy flow. Hope everyone enjoys it!” the band comments. With fourth full-length ‘Reverie’, FORMING THE VOID seeks to further explore aspects of the sound they’ve shaped on their previous outings, guided by a desire to strike a balance between organic and intentional. The result is an album that reaches new levels of refined depth, mystical energy and cosmic transcendence.

‘Reverie’ is out on May 8th through Ripple Music on coloured and black vinyl, CD and digital. You can preorder it right now from North America and Europe/rest of the world.

FORMING THE VOID ‘Reverie’
Out May 8th on Ripple Music

TRACK LISTING:
1. Sage
2. Onward Through The Haze
3. Trace The Omen
4. Manifest
5. Electric Hive
6. Ancient Satellite
7. The Ending Cometh

Forming the Void w/ Spaceslug:
30.04 Wroclaw PL TBC
01.05 Dresden DE Groovestation
02.05 Nijmegen NL Sonic Whip Festival
03.05 Copenhagen NL Stengade
05.05 Berlin DE Toast Hawaii
06.05 Cologne DE MTC
08.05 Coventry UK Arches
09.05 Edinburgh UK Red Crust Fest
10.05 Edinburgh UK Red Crust Fest
11.05 London UK The Black Heart
12.05 Bristol UK The Lanes

Forming the Void w/ Church of Misery & Black Wizard:
2/18 Toronto ON @ Hard Luck
2/19 Chicago IL @ Reggie’s
2/20 Minneapolis MN @ Skyway Theatre
2/21 Milwaukee WI @ Cactus Club

Forming The Void:
James Marshall – Guitar/Vocals
Shadi Omar Al-Khansa – Guitar
Thorn Letulle – Bass
Thomas Colley – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/formingthevoid/
https://www.instagram.com/forming_the_void/
https://formingthevoid.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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Forming the Void Announce European Tour Dates with Spaceslug

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

forming the void

There are more dates to be announced, but what a show this would be to catch. Louisiana’s Forming the Void and Poland’s Spaceslug are exceedingly well paired for what they bring in terms of blending melodic breadth and sheer tonal heft, and with some of Forming the Void‘s more progressive elements and Spaceslug‘s forays into more extreme styles of metal as heard on their recent offerings, there are still plenty of elements at play to distinguish each on their own while complementing the other. Kudos to whoever put that one together — the shows are presented by Blackskull Services, so they’d be a good bet — but yeah, that’s going to work really well on stage. I know Forming the Void have been working on a new record, and Spaceslug seem to be perpetually doing the same, but if they had some songs leftover for a split, that’d be a win.

Before Forming the Void hit Euro soil for the first time, they’ll be on tour starting this weekend in the US with Church of Misery and Black Wizard, meeting up with Truckfighters and Valley of the Sun and Wizard Rifle along the way, which is, in the parlance of probably five years ago, epic. Those dates are here as well as a refresher.

I do not think this will be the last time Forming the Void go to Europe, but it only happens first once.

Behold:

forming the void spaceslug tour poster

Forming the Void- – European Tour with Spaceslug

This May universes collide. Forming The Void and Spaceslug will travel Europe spreading sounds of cosmic void. Prepare to be taken on a journey beyond the sky, driven by wall of noise and dreamy soundscapes. Join this ship across the galaxies.

Forming the Void w/ Spaceslug:
30.04 Wroclaw PL TBC
01.05 Dresden DE Groovestation
02.05 Nijmegen NL Sonic Whip Festival
03.05 Copenhagen NL Stengade
05.05 Berlin DE Toast Hawaii
06.05 Cologne DE MTC
08.05 Coventry UK Arches
09.05 Edinburgh UK Red Crust Fest
10.05 Edinburgh UK Red Crust Fest
11.05 London UK The Black Heart

Forming the Void w/ Church of Misery & Black Wizard:
2/9 Austin TX @ Barracuda
2/11 Wilmington NC @ Reggie’s
2/12 Washington DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel
2/13 Philadelphia PA @ Underground Arts
2/14 Brooklyn NY @ Gold Sounds
2/15 Brooklyn NY @ Kingsland
2/16 Boston MA @ Middle East
2/17 Montreal QC @ Bar LeRitz
2/18 Toronto ON @ Hard Luck
2/19 Chicago IL @ Reggie’s
2/20 Minneapolis MN @ Skyway Theatre
2/21 Milwaukee WI @ Cactus Club

Forming The Void:
James Marshall – Guitar/Vocals
Shadi Omar Al-Khansa – Guitar
Thorn Letulle – Bass
Thomas Colley – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/formingthevoid/
https://www.instagram.com/forming_the_void/
https://formingthevoid.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Forming the Void, Rift (2018)

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Sonic Whip 2020 Announces Lineup with Masters of Reality, Kadavar, Forming the Void and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sonic whip 2020 banner

Next May will mark the third edition of the Sonic Whip Festival, though I’ll admit this is the first I’m hearing of it. No surprise there, as I’m about two years behind on most things in life. Tickets for Sonic Whip 2020 are set to go on sale tomorrow at noon CET for the night-and-dayer, with a pre-party May 1 and a full event on May 2 at Doornroosje in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and the lineup will feature a few of the acts making the rounds at that time, including headliners Masters of Reality and Kadavar, as well as Pissed JeansRotor, Forming the VoidThe Cosmic Dead, Gum Takes Tooth and Bonnacons of Doom.

I’ll admit it was Forming the Void that caught my eye and not just because I happen to be wearing their t-shirt today. This is the second event around that time that the Louisiana-based progressive heavy rockers have been announced for, and while I was already just waiting for them to announce a European tour after the first one, this only further confirms that update is coming.

Likewise keeping an eye out for Masters of Reality‘s full run to be unveiled, as they’re set to do Desertfest and others in addition to this one.  And, well Kadavar are just kind of always on the road somewhere, so yeah, they’ll probably be touring too.

But I’m getting off-track, so here’s the announcement from the fest:

sonic whip 2020 poster

Sonic Whip 2020

Sonic Whip, the multi-headed rock monster that combines roaring guitars riffs with steaming bass lines, pounding drums and other sonic, psychedelic excesses, is preparing for the third edition. We kick off on May 1 with a pre-party deluxe in Doornroosje to go completely berserk on May 2 at the same location.

LINE-UP
? MASTERS OF REALITY
? KADAVAR
? PISSED JEANS
? ROTOR
? THE COSMIC DEAD
? FORMING THE VOID
? GUM TAKES TOOTH
? BONNACONS OF DOOM
? MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED…

Ticket sales start on Friday 22 November at 12.00 with the combi tickets. The first batch of very limited combi costs € 57.50, then € 67.50. Day tickets go on sale later, more info will follow.

More info: http://bit.ly/SonicWhip2020

https://www.facebook.com/events/427908701471605/
https://www.facebook.com/Sonicwhipfestival/
https://www.instagram.com/doornroosjenl/
https://www.doornroosje.nl/event/sonic-whip-2020/

Forming the Void, Rift (2018)

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Forming the Void Tour with Witch Ripper Starts Tonight; Playing Heavy Mash Tomorrow

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

forming the void

This very evening marks the beginning of Forming the Void‘s West Coast-bound latest round of tour dates. Joining them in the endeavor are Witch Ripper, from Seattle, and of particular note is the appearance this weekend at Heavy Mash in Arlington, which is co-presented by this site and for which I can only recommend attendance. Make a day of it. Make two days of it. Do whatever you want. Follow the bands on tour. But you know, tell them you’re doing that. Don’t just randomly show up and lurk at each gig. I think at that point you could probably say hi and it’d be cool.

Forming the Void were originally slated and I think I mentioned around here at some point — yup, sure did — that they had studio time booked to record their next album. Well, plans change. They’ll reportedly knuckle down after this run and get to work on the thing, but in the meantime will take part in Magnetic Eye Records‘ tribute to Alice in Chains, the Dirt [Redux], as part of a busy slate next year that will also see them play their first show on the other side of the Atlantic, appearing at Edinburgh’s Red Crust Festival in May (info here). Should make a day of that too, maybe. Or three.

Current tour dates follow. Go see this band:

forming the void tour

Forming the Void & Witch Ripper – Void Ripper Tour Dates

We’re heading out west with Witch Ripper! Let’s hang!

10/18 Baton Rouge, LA – Phil Brady’s
10/19 Arlington, TX – Heavy Mash at Division Brewing
10/20 Wichita, KS – Elbow Room
10/21 Denver, CO – Tooey’s
10/22 Salt Lake City, UT – Greek Station
10/23 Boise, ID – The Olympic Venue
10/24 Spokane, WA – Red Room *
10/25 Seattle, WA – Funhouse *
10/26 Olympia, WA – Le Voyeur *
10/27 San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge *
10/29 Santa Cruz, CA – Blue Lagoon *
10/30 Los Angeles, CA – Redwood *
10/31 San Diego, CA – Soda Bar*
11/1 El Paso, TX – RCBG @ Thunderbird
11/1 Berkeley, CA – The Five and Dime +
11/2 San Antonio, TX – Faust
11/2 Eureka, CA – Sirens’s Song Tavern +
11/3 Portland, OR Twilight +

*w/ Witch Ripper
+ No Forming the Void

Forming The Void:
James Marshall – Guitar/Vocals
Shadi Omar Al-Khansa – Guitar
Luke Baker – Bass
Thomas Colley – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/formingthevoid/
https://www.instagram.com/forming_the_void/
https://formingthevoid.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Forming the Void, Rift (2018)

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Texas Jam Revival Announces Lineup with Black Tusk, Wo Fat, Forming the Void and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

texas jam revival 2019 banner

Austin, Texas, is of course no stranger to hosting festival-type atmospherics. It’s the home to SXSW and Levitation Fest, among others. The first-ever Texas Jam Revival isn’t shooting for operating on the same scale — at least not in its first year — but its all-dayer bill for Sept. 6 is righteous nonetheless, with the likes of TemptressElectric AgeHexxusCloak and Mountain of Smoke supporting Forming the VoidWo Fat and Black Tusk as a kind of triple-shot of headliner-worthy acts. I’m not sure if this is still the case, but as I recall, Forming the Void were going to hit the studio in September to record their fourth long-player, so this may well be one of the last shows they play before they do that. Go see them. Go early and see everybody. This is the kind of fest that’s done out of pure love, so if you’re in Austin, make it happen. I haven’t been down that way in a long time, but it was always worth the trip when I went.

Poster and show info follow, courtesy of Thee Facebooks:

texas jam revival 2019 poster

I am so excited to introduce the first annual TEXAS JAM REVIVAL!

This year’s show is at Barracuda Austin and features:

Black Tusk
Wo Fat
Forming the Void
Mountain of Smoke (featuring Kyle Shutt of The Sword)
CLOAK
Hexxus
Electric Age
Temptress

T-shirts and silk-screen posters (featuring Daniel Augustus Marschner art) will be on sale at the show for $20 and $15 respectively, but you can get a sweetheart deal if you buy the ticket/merch combo when you buy your tickets at the Ticket Fairy link in this event.

$22 pre-sale ticket only
(fees included on all pre-sales)

$33 pre-sale ticket + shirt (ex.$45 day of show) SAVE $12 on this combo

$44 pre-sale ticket + shirt+ silkscreen poster
(ex. $60 day of show)
SAVE $16 on this combo

(Take your ticket to the TJR merchandise table for your t-shirt and/or poster)

$25 day of show

https://www.facebook.com/GRAVITOYDpresents/
https://www.facebook.com/events/472239823539755

Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh (2016)

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The Obelisk Presents: Heavy Mash 2019, Oct. 19 in Arlington, TX

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

heavy mash frog

With another killer lineup of (mostly) Texan acts, Heavy Mash Fest returns with Heavy Mash 2019 this Oct. 19 at Division Brewing in Arlington, TX. This is the third year of the fest and I’m proud to have presented all three of them, as the reach has grown and the palette continues to expand even as the focus stays on the Lone Star underground, which, fortunately, seems to have an endless array of groups from which to build a lineup. This year, Louisiana’s Forming the Void join the fray, and The Liquid Sound Company — featuring guitarist John Perez of Solitude Aeturnus — will headline, with Destroyer of Light, Funeral Horse and others taking part. Whether you’ve yet been indoctrinated into Smokey Mirror‘s good-time blues psych or not, you’re probably going to want to get in on this one before the rest of Texas shows up and it sells out. It’s gonna be a good show.

Here’s all the info for it, as posted by the fest itself:

HEAVY MASH 2019 POSTER

Heavy Mash 2019

Arlington, TX Heavy Music Festival

In conjunction with Division Brewing in Arlington, TX, we are pleased to announce the 3rd year of this small fest presented by Growl Records, The Obelisk, The Sludgelord, Artificial Head Records, and Death Chicken! It will be held at Division Brewing in Arlington, TX on October 19th from 2pm to midnight-ish. In past years we’ve seen Wo Fat, Duel, Great Electric Quest, Doomstress, Mountain of Smoke, Stone Machine Electric, and many others slay our stage. Below is our full line-up, starting with the headlining act:

The Liquid Sound Company – a psychedelic band formed by doom veteran John Perez in 1996 from Arlington, TX

Destroyer of Light – a melodic doom metal band that pushes those boundaries from Austin, TX

Forming the Void – progressive heavy rock from Lafayette, La

Vorvon – wizard metal from Fort Worth, TX

Funeral Horse – garage metal from Houston, TX

Whep – punk sludge from Denton, TX

Smokey Mirror – heavy psych blues from Dallas, TX

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy – post-metal from San Antonio, TX

Sonar Lights – heavy rock from Fort Worth, TX

C.I. – Instrumental rock for crankhead alcoholic camo-jort-wearing deadbeat dads from White Settlement, TX

For any comments or questions, please contact us at heavymashfest@gmail.com. If you’re in a band, feel free to submit yourselves for next year and beyond.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2030272317279798/
https://www.facebook.com/heavymash/
https://www.instagram.com/heavymashfest/

Liquid Sound Company, “Sleeping Village”

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2019 Night Two, 06.22.19

Posted in Reviews on June 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest 2019 night two poster

At some point early on yesterday I decided to drink as much coffee as I possibly could before the show started. It was not a choice I regret. Day two of Maryland Doom Fest 2019 played host to a whopping 11 bands on the Cafe 611 stage and five more — Crooked Hills, Seasick Gladiator, Thunderchief, Pale Grey Lore and Electric Age — at Guido’s, none of whom I’d see because, like yesterday, I got carded at the door and couldn’t get in. Still, 11 bands in an evening is a healthy dose, and Cafe 611 was packed out pretty early on. People always come and go, mill about, go smoke outside and whatnot at a show like this, but when everyone was in front of the stage, you knew it. Such was the case most especially for Beelzefuzz and the evening’s headliners, Pentagram.

I do think pounding all that caffeine was a boon to the night generally, but neither can I discount the quality of the bill in that regard. Aside from being the last Beelzefuzz show, as was announced earlier this month, there was plenty else to envy in the lineup. Also in the merch area. I was like, “I’ll buy some shirts later,” and then missed my shot at a festival shirt and a Beelzefuzz shirt, so commerce was being had for sure. I’ve been coming here for a couple years at this point, and it definitely feels more crowded this year than it ever has. Inevitable for an event that’s growing as this one is, I suppose, and well deserved on the part of Maryland Doom Fest itself.

No question I was feeling it by the end of the night, but spirits were high nonetheless. I don’t want to sound self-aggrandizing or anything, but people have been really very nice to me and said kind things about this site and stuff, and that’s both incredibly awkward and very much appreciated. Both of those things. It means a lot to me, and it makes me blush. Both of those things are true.

I feel like, as Maryland Doom Fest continues to grow, it’s nights like this that will be the biggest source of future nostalgia.

And it started long before sunset:

Greenbeard

Greenbeard (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There’s a lot of varying kinds of heavy at Doom Fest this year, but not a lot of boogie, and so Austin, Texas, trio Greenbeard were an immediately welcome start to the day. The three-piece have toured steadily over the last couple years and late in 2018 they released a three-songer EP called Onward, Pillager! through Sailor Records that was intended as a preview and fund drive for a full-length to come this year. I don’t know what the status is of that follow-up to 2017’s Lödarödböl (review here), but while their atmosphere is all party and uptempo vibes and awesome times, they’re not screwing around as their shuffle meets desert-hued tone and melody, and that was clear at Cafe 611. Guitarist/vocalist Chance Allen, bassist Jeff Klein and drummer Buddy Hachar (who played here with Doomstress last year) were spot on in their delivery and they drew people in even as the show was just getting started. They were vital, and fun in a way that stood them out from the doomly pack and only made them more of a highlight at the outset. They were a wake-up call to get up and throw down. I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the reason there hasn’t been news of their next album is because they’re talking to labels.

Eternal Black

Eternal Black (Photo by JJ Koczan)

What Eternal Black do with their new album, the just-out Slow Burn Suicide (review here), is bring a much-needed sense of perspective to traditionalist doom. The New York three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob, bassist/backing vocalist Hal Miller and drummer Joe Wood took what they did on their first record, 2017’s Bleed the Days (review here), and actively learned from it and pushed themselves forward. There are few things I consider as admirable when it comes to bands, so, aside from the fact that before they played I got to meet Joe Wood‘s parents — I’ve known Joe for a very long time, and he is among the sweetest people in the universe, so yes, this was a high point of the day for me — I was very excited to hear their new songs live. They didn’t disappoint, basically playing side A of the record with “Lost in the Fade,” “Below,” “The Ghost” and “Sum of All Fears” along with “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” from the debut. I’ve been fortunate enough to see them a couple times now, including here in 2016, but the crunch and impact they’ve fostered in their sound as they’ve continued to progress is as much their own as it is quintessential NYC heavy, and I very much look forward to seeing where the path they’re on takes them.

Atomic 26

Atomic 26 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Every bill needs a sore thumb, right? That one band who maybe is a little bit the square peg? Well, hello to Maryland’s Atomic 26, whose style of hardcore still had some tonal heft one might trace to a residual influence from earliest Clutch, but definitely were intended to be an outside-genre inclusion in the lineup. Hey, that’s cool. Dudes brought it, aggro chugga and all. I can only be honest and say I neither had the frame of reference to appreciate what they were doing or the inclination toward the genre itself, but at a certain point, whatever, man. They were having fun — shenanigans aplenty — and I’m not about to begrudge that. I’ll note as well there was a contingent up front for their whole set who were obviously well familiar with the proceedings, and the energy they started with offered no letup by the time they were done. I don’t know if their set means Maryland Doom Fest is starting to branch out in a different direction, widen the scope, or what, but sometimes you gotta have something different, and Atomic 26 — it’s iron, in case you were curious — ticked that box nicely.

Knoxxville

Knoxxville (Photo by JJ Koczan)

What, you’re not gonna hang out and watch JB‘s band? Of course you are. Festival organizer JB Matson anchors Knoxxville on drums, and as he’s got two basses and two guitars surrounding him on either side, there was a definite sense of fullness to what they were doing, despite the lack of a singer. My understanding is they had one and now they don’t. I’m sure the narrative is more complex than that, but that’s the upshot all the same. In instrumentalist fashion, they proffered workingman’s doom rock, both very much of the region and right to the heart of what Maryland Doom Fest is rooted in being, which felt like a reorientation after Atomic 26 but was a shift easily made. They’re they only group this weekend thus far to have two basses, and I have no idea why more bands don’t do that. Two guitars? Yeah, that’s cool. Pretty standard. But what the hell could be more doom than piling low end on top of low end? Even with that additional heft factor, Knoxxville moved at a decent clip, treating the crowd to essential local fare that most of all typified the lack of pretense — or if you prefer, bullshit — that Maryland doom has always done better than anyone else. They’ll either get a singer or they won’t, but they were right on as it was.

Forming the Void

Forming the Void (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m honestly not sure what I can tell you about Forming the Void that I haven’t already said after the other two times I’ve seen them this year (reviews here and here), but when it comes to the Lafayette, Louisiana, four-piece, the point is worth reiterating just how much these guys are right there. There they are. They’ve found their sound over the course a working-quick three albums, they’re already confirmed to go abroad next year for the first time, they’ve got a new record in the can and they’re right at the cusp of realizing their potential. The heavy prog-tinged melodies in the guitars and harmonized vocals of Shadi Omar Al-Khansa and James Marshall are an immediate standout factor, but the rolling riff style and the weight given to the material from bassist Luke Baker and drummer Thomas Colley is not to be minimized in terms of the overall affect of watching them on stage. They’re about to hit the road for a week with Year of the Cobra, and if that tour is going where you are, just go. That’s it. Go. I’ve yet to see Forming the Void that they didn’t surpass the experience of the time before, including last night, and in style and substance, they’re a bright spot in the American heavy underground. Even better, they still feel like they’re just getting started.

Sixes

Sixes (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Yes, Sixes are very, very heavy. There’s no arguing with that and I won’t try. What seemed more important as the Californian ultra-downer megasludgers brought to Maryland Doom Fest 2019 was more than tone, however. The consuming darkness of their atmosphere was simply on another wavelength from everything else I’ve seen this weekend so far, and they basked in that bleak extremity with purpose and intensity. Like many of the bands who played, they had some technical delays getting going — it would very much be that kind of day — but their lurching, charcoal-black style and largely-unrelenting force came through without hindrance and their sound was a spiraling chasm of ritualized volume. You could almost taste it. Bitter, without the sweet. But they weren’t just assault, and they were able to make the ambient stretches just as heavy as the full-on punishment. They’re signed to Black Bow — among others — and touring Europe later this year with Conan, so take that as the endorsement it is, and though I didn’t get to dig into 2018’s debut, Mephistopheles, when it came out, they made a convincing case for rectifying that immediately, courtesy of the plugs vibrating in my ears crying out for mercy that would not come.

Atala

Atala (Photo by JJ Koczan)

A fresh reminder of what a difference a great drummer makes. Atala‘s Jeff Tedtaotao was neither the first of the day nor the last, but as guitarist/vocalist Kyle Stratton and bassist Dave Horn manifested sand sludge in communion with a land far, far away from Frederick, it was Tedtaotao‘s drumming that gave the band their sense of push and roll. It was not my first Atala experience — which I feel like one should for sure discuss in a way otherwise reserved for talking about ayahuasca, and not just for the bookending-vowel commonality — but it was my first time seeing them since the release last month of their fourth album, The Bearer of Light (review here), on Salt of the Earth Records, and as the prevailing impression of that record was, “Wow, these songs are cool and this production is raw and live-sounding as hell,” the interest in hearing that material come from a P.A. was high. “Desolate Lands,” “Upon the Altar” and the particularly crushing “Won’t Subside” answered that call, and as this was their second time at Maryland Doom Fest, they seemed at home on the Cafe 611 stage. They’re not a band I’m likely to ever complain about seeing live, and I felt like when they were done I only had a richer understanding of The Bearer of Light, so all the better.

Beelzefuzz

Beelzefuzz (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Man, up yours, Beelzefuzz, for making me feel feelings. As noted above, founding guitarist/vocalist Dana Ortt announced the end of the band after a decade together in one form or another, as he, drummer Darin McCloskey and lead guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener will continue in Pale Divine — which I believe leaves bassist Bert Hall as a free agent; Revelation reunion? — and I’m legitimately sorry to see them go. They played their final set to a crowd full of family and friends as well as some people who’d never even heard them before, and that could hardly have been more appropriate. With the progressive edge or Ortt‘s organ/vocal-harmony effects, McCloskey‘s smooth and classy style of drumming, Hall‘s complement thereto, the born-to-do-it soloing of Diener and his splitting the vocal duties with Ortt, they were a band who should have been around longer and who will be talked about in this part of the world for a long time to come. Whatever tumult they’d been through with the name change, lineup change, all of it, didn’t matter while they played. Their last show was about celebration, and from “Hypnotized” and “All the Feeling Returns” to the so-fitting last lead line reaches of “Hard Luck Melody,” they lived up to the legacy of what could and should have been for them all along. Special band. Will be missed.

Foghound

Foghound (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Somewhere in the Big Book of Guaranteed Good Times, there’s a picture of Foghound playing Maryland Doom Fest. I probably didn’t take it, but still. It’s there. Not yet a year removed from their most recent album, Awaken to Destroy (review here), the dual-guitar Baltimorean four-piece came in, kicked ass, set the room on (figurative) fire, then split. It was awesome, they’re awesome, you’re awesome. Awesome. With Adam Heinzmann another year’s worth of locked-in on bass/periodic vocals — he shared a mic with guitarist Dee Settar, while guitarist Bob Sipes and drummer Chuck Dukehart each had their own — and the very-present spirit of bassist Rev. Jim Forrester in the place, they were the heavy rock boot to the ass that you knew was coming but still managed to be jolted by anyhow. They don’t tour, and they could, but neither do they screw around, and though they played here in 2018, between the fact of the new album out and the fact that they’re fucking Foghound and it’s Maryland, so yes, you want them to be there, they were awakened and they destroyed. If you’re at all into heavy rock, I can’t imagine a situation in which you would’ve watched their set and not been a fan by the end of it, whether or not you were before. That’s it. Done.

Apostle of Solitude

Apostle of Solitude (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Indianapolis four-piece Apostle of Solitude released the best doom album of 2018 in the form of From Gold to Ash (review here) on Cruz Del Sur. They played here in 2017, but I was absent that year — can’t remember why, but I’m sure I had a doctor’s note for whatever it was; they also played in 2015 at the first one — so it had apparently been four years since I last saw them live, which for a band as good as they are is egregiously long. They opened the set with “Keeping the Lighthouse” from the new album, the hook of which will likely remain stuck in my head long after this weekend is over, and followed with cuts like “My Heart is Leaving Here” and “Ruination be Thy Name” to only further the impact, drummer Corey Webb earning shouts of “BEAST!” from the side of the stage after the first song with which one could only agree. Webb, bassist Mike Naish, and guitarist/vocalists Chuck Brown and Steve Janiak (the latter also of Devil to Pay, and both now of the semi-reignited The Gates of Slumber) were monstrous. I don’t know what pagan gods were bestowing gifts of riffs upon the masses assembled in front of the stage, but, you know, thanks and all that. At an event like this, I usually have one set where I end up pulling my earplugs out and just kind of giving into the volume and the vibe of the thing. At Maryland Doom Fest 2019, that was Apostle of Solitude, and it’s not a choice I regret in the slightest.

Pentagram

Pentagram (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Is this the beginning of the redemption of Bobby Liebling? I have no idea, but I’d guess probably not. By any measure, we’re talking about someone who has actively or inadvertently squandered just about every visible opportunity and/or second chance he’s worked for or had come his way in his life, and so when it comes to Pentagram‘s future, if you look back over the last 50 years or so, it’s hard to imagine any radical change. Does the fact that the dude assaulted his mom, got called out on tour for sexual harassment, and so on, mean that the band doesn’t deserve to headline at Maryland Doom Fest? It’s certainly debatable. But if the redemption of Bobby Liebling were ever to happen, this would be the place it started, and the room was certainly rooting for him, from the young woman who kissed his hand during “Starlady” early on in the set to the crowd surfing and moshing that took hold later as the house lights came up and they went into “Forever My Queen.” The word is “polarizing,” but as Oscar Wilde said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about,” so make of it what you will. The band behind Liebling — bassist Greg Turly, drummer “Minnesota” Pete Campbell (who was announced as the winner of the night’s raffle right before going on stage) and guitarist Matt Goldsborough — were on point, and the response was there as it’s been for the last decade-plus. You kind of have to shrug or throw up your hands. That’s me not taking a side. Pentagram will keep going either way. What else is there?

As I write this, it’s almost 1PM and the last day of the fest starts in a couple hours. Nine more bands on the Cafe 611 stage and I’m not even going to embarrass myself trying to get into Guido’s again. Very rock and roll of me, I know. I’ll get ’em in 2020. Shower first, and then more coffee and all the water. I’d like to sit for a bit and get my head on straight as I was lucky enough to do yesterday, and the energy was so good throughout last night that I want to try to recapture it as much as I am able, particularly after feeling by the end of Friday like I’d been hit by the doomtruck. I’m hardly in peak physical condition — my legs and back are feeling it — but we’ll see how it goes. The mind is willing, the flesh is… increasingly saggy.

Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump.

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