Quarterly Review: Delco Detention, Fuzzy Lights, Blackwolfgoat, Carcano, Planet of the 8s, High Desert Queen, Megalith Levitation, Forebode, Codex Serafini, Stone Deaf

Posted in Reviews on September 27th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Not really much to say about it, is there? You know the deal. I know the deal. This time we go to 70. 10 records every day between today and next Tuesday. It seems insurmountable as usual right now, but as history has shown throughout the last seven or however many years I’ve been doing this kind of thing, it’ll work out. Time is utterly irrelevant when there’s distortion to be had. Wavelengths intersecting, dissolution of hours. You make an extra cup of coffee, I’ll burn from the inside out.

The Fall 2021 Quarterly Review begins today. Let’s boogie.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Delco Detention, From the Basement

Delco Detention From the Basement

The essential bit of narrative here is that Tyler Pomerantz, founding guitarist of Delco Detention, is about 10 years old. Kid can fuzz. With his father, Adam, on drums, the ambitious young man has put together a wholly professional heavy rock record with a who’s who of collaborators, including Clutch‘s Neil Fallon on “The Joy of Home Schooling” (a video for which went viral last year), Jared Collins of Mississippi Bones, EarthlessIsaiah Mitchell, Bob Balch of Fu Manchu on the instrumental “The Action is Delco,” Erik Caplan of Thunderbird Divine on the highlight “Gods Surround,” as well as members of Hippie Death Cult, Kingsnake, The Age of Truth and others across the 15 tracks. The result is inherently diverse given the swath of personnel, tones, etc., but From the Basement plays thematically at points around the experience of being a young rocker — “All Ages Show,” “Digital Animal,” the title-track and “The Joy of Home Schooling” — but isn’t limited to that, and though there are some moodier stretches as there inevitably would be, Tyler holds his own among this esteemed company and the record’s an unabashed good time.

Delco Detention on YouTube

Delco Detention on Bandcamp


Fuzzy Lights, Burials

Fuzzy Lights Burials

A fourth album arriving some eight years after the third, Fuzzy LightsBurials doesn’t necessarily surprise with its patience, but its sense of world-building is immaculate and immersive. The Cambridge, UK, five-piece of violinist/vocalist Rachel Watkins, guitarist/electronicist Xavier Watkins, guitarist Chris Rogers, bassist Daniel Carney and drummer Mark Blay offer classic Britfolk melody tinged with heavy post-rock atmospherics and foreboding rhythmic push on the 10-minute “Songbird,” with the snare drum building tension for the payoff to come. Elsewhere, opener “Maiden’s Call” and “Haraldskær Woman” drift into darker vibes, while “Under the Waves” dares more uptempo psychedelic rock ahead of the highlight “Sirens” and closer “The Gathering Storm,” which offers bombast so smoothly executed one is surrounded by it almost before noticing. “Songbird,” “Maiden’s Call” and “The Graveyard Song” have their roots in a 2019 solo outing from Rachel Watkins called Collectanea, but however long this material may or may not have been around, it sounds refreshingly individual, natural, full, warm and still boldly forward thinking.

Fuzzy Lights on Facebook

Meadows Records on Bandcamp


Blackwolfgoat, (In) Control / Tired of Dying

Blackwolfgoat In Control Tired of Dying

One with greater knowledge of such things than I might be able to sit and analyze and tell you what loops and effects guitarist Darryl Shepard (Kind, Hackman, Milligram, etc.) is using to make these noises, but that ain’t me. I’m happy to accept the mystery of his new two-songer/23-minute EP, (In) Control / Tired of Dying, which slowly unfolds the psych-drone of its 14-minute leadoff cut over its first several minutes before evening out into a mellow, drifting one-man guitar jam, replete with a solo that subtly builds in energy before entering its minute-long fadeout, as if Shepard were to say he wouldn’t want things to get too out of hand. “Tired of Dying” follows with immediately more threatening tone, deep, distorted, lumbering, sludgy, with space for drums behind that never come. That’s not Blackwolfgoat‘s thing. As much as “(In) Control” hypnotized with its sweeter, unassuming rollout, “Tired of Dying” is consumption on a headphone-destroyer level, nine and a half minutes of low wash that’s exploratory just the same. These pieces were recorded live, and it hasn’t been that long since Shepard‘s 2020 Blackwolfgoat full-length, Giving Up Feels So Good (review here), but each cut digs in in its own way and the isolated feel is nothing if not relevant.

Blackwolfgoat on Facebook

Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp


Carcaňo, By Order of the Green Goddess

carcano by order of the green goddess

From the outset with the stomps later in “Day 1 – The Beginning,” Italian fuzzers Carcaňo reveal some of the rawness in the production of their second full-length, By Order of the Green Goddess, but that doesn’t stop either their tones or the melodies floating over them from being lush across the album’s eight-song/40-minute run, whether that’s happening in the massive “Day 2 – Riding Space Elephants” (aren’t we all?) or the howling leadwork that tops the languid Sabbath/earlier-Mars Red Sky-gone-dark lumber of “Day 6 – I Don’t Belong Here.” They make it move on the cosmic chaos shuffle-and-push of “Day 4 – The Birth” and tap blatant Queens of the Stone Age up-strum riffing and wood block on “Day 5 – The Son of the Sun,” but it’s in spacious freakouts like “Day 3 – Green Grace” and the righteously drawn out “Day 7 – Wasted Land” that By Order of the Green Goddess most seems to set its course, with room for the acoustic experimentalism of “Day 8 – Running Back Home” at the end, familiar in concept but delightfully weird and ethereal in its execution.

Carcaňo on Facebook

Clostridium Records website


Planet of the 8s, Lagrange Point Vol. 1

Planet of the 8s Lagrange Point Vol 1

Paeans to space and the desert, riffs on riffs on riffs, grit hither and yon — Melbourne’s Planet of the 8s are preaching to the converted on Lagrange Point Vol. 1, and they go so far in the opening “Lagrange Point” to explain in a Twilight Zone-esque monologue what the phenomenon actually is before “Holy Fire” unfurls its procession with the first of four included guest vocalists. King Carrot of Death by Carrot would seem to know of which he speaks there, while Diesel Doleman (Duneater) tops “Exit Planet” for an effect wholly akin to Astrosoniq at max thrust, while Georgie Cosson of Kitchen Witch joins Planet of the 8s‘ own bassist Michael “Sullo” Sullivan on “X-Ray,” and Jimi Coelli (Sheriff) takes on the early QOTSA-style riffing of “The Unofficial History of Babe Wolf,” which would also seem to be the subject of the cover art. They wrap all these comings and going with “The Three Body Problem,” a jazzy minute-long instrumental that’s there and gone before you’ve even caught your breath from the preceding songs. 21 minutes, huh? That 21 minutes is packed.

Planet of the 8s on Facebook

Planet of the 8s on Bandcamp


High Desert Queen, Secrets of the Black Moon

High Desert Queen Secrets of the Black Moon

Debut albums with their stylistic ducks so much in a row are rare, but with the declaration “I am the mountain/You are the quake,” the chugging boogie in the post-Trouble “Did She?,” the opening hook of “Heads Will Roll,” the duly-open, semi-progressive tinge of “Skyscraper,” and the we-saved-extra-heavy-just-for-this finish of “Bury the Queen,” Austin’s High Desert Queen indeed show themselves as schooled with Secrets of the Black Moon. It is an encapsulation of modern stoner heavy idolatry, riff-led but not necessarily riff-dependent in its entirety, and both the good-vibes fuzz of “As We Roam” and the aptly-titled penultimate roller “The Wheel” manage to boast soaring vocal melodies that put the band in another league. They’re not necessarily starting a revolution in terms of style, but they bring together lush and crush effectively and when a band has so much of a clear idea of what they’re going for and the songwriting to back them up, first record or not, they rule the day. Don’t lose them among the swaths either of three-word-moniker heavy newcomers or the flood of Texan acts out there.

High Desert Queen on Facebook

Ripple Music on Bandcamp


Megalith Levitation, Void Psalms

Void Psalms by Megalith Levitation

Heavy and ritualized enough to earn its release on 50 neon green tapes — CDs too — the second full-length from Russia’s Megalith Levitation, Void Psalms tops 53 minutes of beastly lurch, with opener “Phantasmagoric Journey” (13:08) playing like half-speed Celtic Frost while the back-to-back two-parters “Datura Revelations/Lysergic Phantoms” (12:47) and “Temple of Silence/Pillars of Creation” (19:45) bridge cult-heavy worship with experimental fuckall, never quite dipping entirely into dark psychedelia, but certainly refusing lucidity outright. I don’t know what’s up with the punch of bass in the back end of “Temple of Silence/Pillars of Creation,” but that froggy sound is gloriously weirdo in its affect, and makes the whole jam for me. They cap with “Last Vision,” an admirably massive riffer that only spans seven and a half minutes but in that time still finds a way to drone the shit out of its nod. Cheers to Chelyabinsk as Megalith Levitation (who are not to be confused with Megaton Leviathan) offer intentionally putrid fruit on which to feast.

Megalith Levitation on Facebook

Pestis Insaniae Records website

Aesthetic Death website


Forebode, The Pit of Suffering

Forebode The Pit of Suffering

There is death, and there is sludge. Do doomers mosh in Texas? “Devil’s Due” might provide an occasion to find out, as the second EP, The Pit of Suffering, from Austin extremist slingers Forebode follows 2019’s self-titled short release (review here) with plenty of slow-motion plunder, “Metal Slug” opening in grim praise of weed before the rest of what follows moves from shortest to longest in an onslaught that grows correspondingly more vicious. Rest your head on that bit of twang at the start of “Pit of Suffering” if you want, that’s only going to make it easier for the band to crush your skull in the stretch before it returns at the end. And oh, “Bane of Hammers.” You build in speed and get so brutal, and then you do, you do, you do slam on the brakes and finish out as heavy as possible, an ultimate eat-all-in-its-path tonality that would be off-putting were it not so outright gleeful in its disgusting nature. What fun they’re having making these terrible sounds. Love it.

Forebode on Facebook

Forebode on Bandcamp


Codex Serafini, Invisible Landscape

codex serafini invisible landscape

Yeah, you think you can hang. You’re like, “Whatever, I like weird psych stuff.” Then Codex Serafini start in with the cave echo wails and the drones and the artsy experimentalism and you’re like, “Well, maybe I’m just gonna go back to Squaresville after all. Work in the morning, you know.” The Brighton, UK, fivesome have four tracks on Invisible Landscape, and I promise you no one of them is more real than the other. In fact, the entire thing is pretend. It doesn’t exist. Neither do you. You thought you did, then the sax started blowing and you realized you were just some kind of semi-sentient wisp swirling around in reverb and what the hell were we talking about okay yeah planets and stuff whatever it doesn’t matter just quick, put this on and be ready for the splatter when “Time, Change & Become” starts. You’re not gonna want to miss it, but there’s no way that stain is ever coming out of that shirt. Kablooie is how the cosmos dies.

Codex Serafini on Facebook

Codex Serafini on Bandcamp


Stone Deaf, Killers

stone deaf killers

Killers is the third full-length from Colorado fuzz rockers Stone Deaf, and they continue to have a chorus for every occasion, in this case going so far as to import “Gone Daddy Gone” from your teenage remembrance of Violent Femmes and actually talk about burning witches in the “Burn the Witch”-esque “Tightrope.” Queens of the Stone Age has been and continues to be a defining influence here, but from the electronics in “Cloven Hoof” to the harder edges of closing duo “Silverking” and “San Pedro Winter,” the band refuse to be identified by anything so much as their songcraft, which is tight and sharply produced across the 44 minutes of Killers, their punk rock having grown up but not having dulled so much as found a direction in which to point its angst. A collection of individual tracks, there’s nonetheless a build of momentum that starts early and carries through the entirety of the outing. I’ll leave to you to make the clever remark about there being “no fillers.” Enjoy that.

Stone Deaf on Facebook

Golden Robot Records website

Coffin and Bolt Records website


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Blackwolfgoat Premieres “Nadir” from Giving Up Feels So Good

Posted in audiObelisk on July 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

“For $10, one was allowed to stare into the void, to scream into it,” goes one of the standout lines from guitarist Darryl Shepard‘s short story/drone-piece “Screaming into the Void.” The story describes a black hole in the Midwest that becomes a tourist attraction. “‘Go ahead and scream into me,’ it seemed to say.” It’s not the first time Shepard has done vocals on a release from his solo-project Blackwolfgoat — his 2014 album, Drone Maintenance (discussed here), had some void-screaming of its own — but the 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) on the fourth Blackwolfgoat offering, Giving Up Feels So Good, is definitely a standout just the same. Backing the spoken word are waves of guitar distortion recorded by Chris Johnson at The Electric Bunker, creating a darkness through which some melody does gradually peak through, but which seems definitely geared toward manifesting the title in sound as well as narrative. It’s a fitting beginning for the five-track/39-minute Giving Up Feels So Good, which, though it doesn’t have any more vocals after that, is inarguably the heaviest work Shepard has produced in his work as Blackwolfgoat. “Screaming into the Void,” topped with words about screaming into a literal void. Yeah, that sounds about right.

For the Boston-based Shepard — known for his work in SlapshotMilligramRoadsawHackman, The ScimitarKind and most recently the grunge-punk duo Test Meat, among others — Blackwolfgoat has been since its inception and Small Stone-released 2010 debut, Dragonwizardsleeve (review here), a vehicle for guitar-based experimentation. A landing pad for ideas that by their nature wouldn’t fit anywhere else. The second record, 2011’s Dronolith, came out through this site’s then in-house label, The Maple Forum, on CD before being picked up by Kozmik Artifactz for an LP edition, and furthered the soundscaping cause, and while Drone Maintenance pulled back from that toward more traditionalist instrumental songwriting, it still felt conceptual, and five years later, Giving Up Feels So Good does as blackwolfgoat nadirwell. But the context has changed. As Shepard moves through the chugging eight-minute second cut “Nadir” (premiering below) and the grim psychedelic wash of the centerpiece “On My Way Now,” the personality of Giving Up Feels So Good proves to be not only consumingly dark, but based more than any other Blackwolfgoat release around weighted tonality and resonant low end. “Nadir” — how low can you go? — reminds of Earth or maybe some of Dylan Carlson‘s solo output for its raw here’s-a-guitar-style expression, and though Shepard fleshes out toward the midpoint with a some hard-strummed melody, the mood remains paramount.

The penultimate “Dust to Dusk,” based largely around one speedier progression, sounds like it would be space rock if it had drums behind it, which immediately relates it to Kind, whose second album has yet to manifest. Half the point of the track seems to be its long fade, which takes hold with about two and a half minutes left to go and gradually moves into oblivion, not so much casting off the forward thrust previously conjured, but watching it dissipate like a rocket fading from view as it gets higher in the atmosphere. That leaves only “Always Say Never” to close out as the shortest inclusion at 6:04, with a fervent wash of revel-in-it depressive, air-push tone. After the relative departure that was “Dust to Dusk,” “Always Say Never” — even its title seeming to play on the idea of basking in one’s own miseries, very much in the spirit of the name of the record itself — revives the downer drone of “Nadir” and “On My Way Now” that is so much at the core of Giving Up Feels So Good. It’s not about making a performance out of being depressed. It’s about accepting that not everything and not everyone needs to be so positive. Shepard, who is quite active on social media, seems to be responding to the idea of the curated self; that perhaps ambitious but ultimately half-true version of who we are that we share with others so very willingly. The self as advertisement for self. In Giving Up Feels So Good, he dismantles this notion, not through snide irony (snirony?), but by means of acknowledging the liberation of embracing one’s own complexity. One can’t be a complete human being and be so god damned happy all the time. Every now and again, we all want to scream into the void, even if that scream comes via howling guitar.

A proper release for Giving Up Feels So Good is in the works for this Fall, with tapes coming out through Fuzzdoom Records and CDs to be pressed and available from Shepard presumably through Bandcamp. Art will be handled by Alexander von Wieding (very interested to see what the Master comes up with for this one), and when I hear more about an exact release date, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, get down with “Nadir” (see what I did there?) on the player below, and please enjoy:

Blackwolfgoat, “Nadir”

Chris Johnson from Deafheaven/Summoner/Doomriders recorded, mixed and mastered it at his studio The Electric Bunker. The new album is called “Giving Up Feels So Good”. It’s five songs, just under 40 minutes long. Fuzzdoom Records is going to do a short run of cassettes for the album, and Alexander Von Wieding is going to do the artwork. I’m going to self release it on CD and through digital platforms. If someone steps in to do vinyl that would be great. I don’t have a definite release date yet but I’m shooting for late September or early October.

This album is all heavy, it’s not quite as experimental as the others. I just wanted to do a heavy record from front to back. One song has spoken word, it’s a short story I wrote, the other four songs are completely instrumental. The title “Giving Up Feels So Good” is a reaction to people who are overly positive and always looking on the bright side. Life isn’t easy, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. I think the overall sound and mood of this album is pretty dark, which is exactly what I wanted to achieve.

The track listing is:
1. Screaming Into the Void
2. Nadir
3. On My Way Now
4. Dust to Dusk
5. Always Say Never

Blackwolfgoat on Thee Facebooks

Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp

Fuzzdoom Records on Bandcamp

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Wrapping up 2014: The Year in Darryl Shepard

Posted in Features on December 18th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

darryl shepard

I knew already when I moved to the Boston area that Darryl Shepard was an exceedingly good guy. We’d been in touch for years at that point and I’d helped press up the CD run of Blackwolfgoat‘s second album, Dronolith, plus been a fan of his work in that one-man outfit as well as past bands like MilligramRoadsaw, and so on. What I didn’t know was how universally respected he is. It’s not a celebrity thing, and part of that I’ll attribute to his own down-to-earth sensibility, but whether it’s people showing up to watch him play, peers in other bands, musicians he plays with or just people he knows from having been around the city’s rock underground for as long as he has, there’s a deep-running appreciation for who he is and what he does. The only person I’ve ever heard talk shit about Darryl, is Darryl, and even he’s doing it for laughs.

He’s had a busy 2014, between releasing albums with The Scimitar and Blackwolfgoat, recording Kind‘s first demo, playing shows and so on, and it seems only fitting to wrap up “The Year in Darryl” (not literally in him, in a Martin Short/Inner Space kind of way, but at very least in his work) by giving a rundown of the things he’s done over the last 12 months. Here goes:

Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance

blackwolfgoat drone maintenance

After Dronolith, I knew I probably wouldn’t get to review Drone Maintenance, Shepard‘s third outing under the Blackwolfgoat moniker (released by Small Stone) since I was still pretty close to it, only one record removed from direct-ish involvement in its making, but don’t think for one second that’s a statement about the quality of Drone Maintenance itself. To be honest, the third record blows the second one out of the water. In cuts like “Sunfall,” “White Hole” and the relatively brief “Night Heat,” his tendency toward songwriting comes out, and structures begin to show themselves amid tracks that are varied in mood and feel while still largely instrumental — he vocalizes bleak, feedback-laden closer “Cyclopean Utopia” in a vaguely black metal kind of way — and tied together by three spoken interludes that foster Drone Maintenance‘s underlying concept: The drone is broken, and Shepard is the repair man sent to fix it, as portrayed in Alexander von Wieding‘s cover art. Though the plotline works out otherwise, Shepard fixes the drone in wonderfully progressive fashion, an experimental feel pervading the material that — miraculously, given the context — avoid pretense even at its most ambient moments. I was lucky to be invited to the studio while it was being recorded, and could tell then that Darryl had something special on his hands and that the first two Blackwolfgoat releases were just scratching the surface of what he was looking to accomplish with the project. To hear the finished product after the release party at O’Brien’s in Allston was to see that realization affirmed. Blackwolfgoat on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.

The Scimitar, Doomsayer

the scimitar doomsayer

Though it was released on gorgeous clear/bone vinyl by Hydro-Phonic Records (also digipak CDR and a name-your-price download from the band’s Bandcamp), it seemed for a minute there that The Scimitar was over before Doomsayer could get started, having been effectively derailed when bassist Dave Gein moved to the West Coast, his last show with the band coming at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 (review here) in early May. This supposition was, in a word, mistaken. True to their slaughterhouse doom sound, the trio of ShepardGein and drummer Brian Banfield wouldn’t be so easily ended. Doomsayer‘s seven tracks earned their centerpiece Motörhead cover, both continuing the warrior mentality Shepard fostered when he stepped into the guitarist/vocalist role alongside Gein in Black Pyramid for 2013’s Adversarial (review here) and branching out to distinct triumphs on songs like “Void Traveler” and “World Unreal,” finding a balance between the catchy and the brutal that, even on their first outing, The Scimitar made their own. Gein being on the opposite side of the country may have made weekly practice unlikely, but The Scimitar played both Northeastern shows to support the release with a stand-in bassist and, earlier this month, traveled out west for a weekender in California with the album’s lineup. It would seem they’re hardly done, and all the better for the chance to get more of both the raw explosiveness of “Babylon” and the exploratory heavy of Doomsayer instrumental closer “Crucifer” as The Scimitar continues to come into their sound. The Scimitar on Thee Facebooks, Hydro-Phonic Records.


kind (Photo by Doug Sherman)

I’ve been fortunate this year to see Kind play twice (reviews here and here), and both times have been markedly different. The roots of the project go back (I’m pretty sure) to late last year, when Shepard and Elder drummer Matt Couto began to jam with an intent toward not much more than that. Bassist Tom Corino of Rozamov was brought in to handle low end and vocalist Craig Riggs of Roadsaw rounded out the four-piece, whose style still finds its basis in those wide-spaced jams. They’ve recorded a demo, with Benny Grotto at Mad Oak, from which the 10-minute “Hordeolum” has surfaced, showcasing both their heavy psych and more forward-driving tendencies, the balance they find and seem to gleefully upset between the two. I hear a full-length is in the works for a summer release via a respected American outlet who, since it hasn’t been announced yet, shall remain nameless, but until that happens, Kind will continue to hone their live sound regionally, opening for Karma to Burn next month at Geno’s in Portland, Maine. Not sure if it will ever be anyone’s main project — ElderRoadsawRozamov and Shepard‘s bevvy of other bands make for some significant commitments — but Kind have quickly found a stylistic niche for themselves and I’m interested to find out what they do with it on their debut. Kind on Thee Facebooks.

Solid-Color Demos

roadsaw 98 demos

There are many for whom three active bands would be enough projects, but in the middle part of 2014, Darryl also found time to release a slew of accumulated recordings from over the years, all as name-your-price downloads via Bandcamp. Each recording — most were demos, but a Milligram radio appearance (review here) was also included — was given a different solid color as a cover, and a total of six have made their way out to date, including a completely solo acoustic album (with vocals) recorded by Andrew Schneider in 1998, the aforementioned Milligram performance, some Roadsaw demos also from ’98 (first streamed here), the final three songs tracked by instrumental outfit Hackman, early ’90s demos from Deslok and various collected four-track demo/experiments from the early ’00s on which some of the roots of Blackwolfgoat can be heard. These weren’t put out for any kind of profile, just made available for anyone who might want to explore them, but in both the stylistic variety and the performance value Shepard brings to each project, there’s much to dig into. Perhaps most impressive of all is that, though they cover a considerable swath of ground, they’re still just a fraction of Shepard‘s total output. Hopefully he has more tapes/hard drives in a closet somewhere and the series can continue, or maybe even get added to with newer material over time. Just a thought. Darryl Shepard on Bandcamp.

Looking Ahead

darryl shepard by alexander von wieding

Well, despite Gein living in California and drummer Clay Neely living in Georgia while Shepard continues to reside in Massachusetts, Black Pyramid will once again spring to life in 2015. They’re already confirmed for Desertfest in London and Berlin alongside Lo-Pan, and from what I hear, they’ll have a new 7″ on Hydro-Phonic to mark the occasion. There’s a mysterious Soundcloud demo called “Donor Kebab” by an outfit named Iron Malden, and who knows what that portends. As noted, Kind will also continue to play shows ahead of their full-length debut release, tentatively set for the summer, and one imagines Darryl will continue to keep busy otherwise gigging and recording as he always seems to do, his work ethic as admirable as the results it produces.

Keep up at the following:

Darryl Shepard on Thee Facebooks

Darryl Shepard on Soundcloud

Darryl Shepard on Bandcamp

Black Pyramid on Thee Facebooks

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Donation Fund Launched for Darryl Shepard’s Medical Expenses

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 15th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

I don’t usually like to post crowdfunding stuff if I can avoid it. Nothing against the process, it’s just there’s so much of it there wouldn’t be time for anything else. This, however, is a cause worthy of exception.

You may know Darryl Shepard from his time in Milligram, or Slapshot, or Blackwolfgoat, or The ScimitarBlack PyramidHackmanRoadsaw or countless others. You may not know him at all. Regardless, the man is a walking institution of rock and roll. Someone who has personally played a direct role in the development of American heavy rock, and even if you don’t listen to his bands, chances are that someone in bands you listen to did. In and around Boston, he’s a legend, and if standing on the Hellfest stage last year with Black Pyramid was anything to go by, his reach is much further than any single city’s borders.

Because of a number of medical conditions, Darryl has racked up a considerable amount of debt. In a lot of places around the world, this would be taken care of through a public system, and wouldn’t stand the chance of crippling someone’s livelihood, but then again, in a lot of places around the world bands also get paid for playing shows. That’s not here. A fund has been set up to help Darryl with these expenses, and I personally urge you to give something, anything, to help him out. It’s not even a donation. Darryl has earned this money a thousand times over.

Give below:


Hey folks, our good friend and intrepid rocker, Darryl Shephard is in need of our help. Darryl has numerous medical issues, including: Hordeolum, GERD, Coronary Stent, Cervical Radiculopathy, Pacemaker (permanent), Hx of Depression, Hypothyroidism, SVT (Supraventricular tachycardia, Hyperlipidemia, Cardiomyopathy (Ischemic), Status Post Myocardial Infarction (anterior wall), and Coronary Artery Disease. He has been a fixture in the Boston music community for over 25 years, having played with acts such as: Slapshot, Blackwolfgoat, The Scimitar, Slaughter Shack, Hackman, Roadsaw and Deslok, among others. Despite having a fulltime job, and health insurance, Darryl, is badly in need of assistance in covering medical expenses. We’ve set the goal pretty low in hopes that people will be more than generous. There are no reward levels, but an incentive or two, are being considered. Helping a friend should be reward enough. Please give what you can. It would be literally life-changing for Darryl. Thanks!!!

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Darryl Shepard of Black Pyramid, The Scimitar and Blackwolfgoat

Posted in Questionnaire on December 17th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

It’s a long list of bands that have played host at one point or another to guitarist Darryl Shepard. Having cut his teeth in outfits like Slaughter Shack and Slapshot, Shepard served as guitarist in Milligram and Roadsaw in the late ’90s and early ’00s, eventually emerging with his own (mostly) instrumental outfit, Hackman, releasing two albums on Small Stone. Already working in his own drone project, Blackwolfgoat — the second Blackwolfgoat album, Dronolith, was released on CD through The Maple Forum — he joined Black Pyramid on vocals and guitar after their second album and 2013’s Adversarial (review here) resulted on Hydro-Phonic, a record that took Black Pyramid on a tour of Europe that included a stop at Hellfest in France, where the above photo was taken by Nicolas Dessables. When further lineup issues cropped up with Black Pyramid drummer Clay Neely relocating, Shepard and bassist Dave Gein formed The Scimitar, whose debut LP is due in 2014.

A third Blackwolfgoat is also set for release next year (in-studio here), and The Scimitar are scheduled to play The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 in May and will reportedly have other sporadic shows supporting the album.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Darryl Shepard

How did you come to do what you do?

I started playing music at a young age. In fourth grade I joined the school band, just as something to do. I originally wanted to play the saxophone, mainly because it looked cool, but they ran out of those so I picked the trumpet instead. Before that, we used to play the recorder in music class in school, and I always liked music class, so I guess that’s really why I joined the school band. I stayed with it right up until I graduated high school. When I was 14 or 15 I decided I wanted to play drums, but I didn’t have anywhere to put a drumset, so again I went with my second choice, the guitar. I just was drawn to music at an early age. Even though my parents weren’t musical my Dad was always playing music around the house, stuff like Earth, Wind and Fire, and he used to watch the TV show Soul Train all the time, and I loved that. And the Monkees, I watched that show religiously as a little kid. Once I graduated high school I put the trumpet down and focused only on the guitar, for the sole reason that I thought girls liked guitar players more than trumpet players. Not even kidding at all. I don’t think I knew who Chet Baker was at that point. So yeah, it’s all because of the Monkees and Earth, Wind and Fire, I guess.

Describe your first musical memory.

I think the very first musical memory I have involves the Monkees. I remember there was a birthday party at our house for me when I was probably five or six, and I distinctly remember dancing around and singing along to “No Time” by the Monkees off of Headquarters. I loved that song. And I remember all the other kids clapping and yelling when I finished my little act. That’s probably the first time that I did any type of “performing” in public, that I can remember. I couldn’t play an instrument at that point but I gave it my all. I was definitely hooked at that point.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

It would have to be playing with Black Pyramid at Hellfest in 2013. There have been other great shows, Milligram opening for Kyuss Lives! is one, but playing Hellfest was just a great time. We had an amazing slot and a long set, and the crowd was really into it. Soundchecking while Sleep were hanging out and talking to those guys and just feeling like we were part of this really awesome thing was a great feeling. There was a show earlier on that tour where it just sounded like complete crap onstage and I wasn’t happy at all about it, but all I had to do was think about playing Hellfest a couple of days later and it got me through that show. It just felt really good to feel like what we were doing was being appreciated by people who were fans of the music and who really cared about it. For me, it really does make a huge difference to have people enjoy what you’re creating, to GET IT, and Hellfest was a perfect example of that on a large scale.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I would say just recently, my belief in myself and that I would play music no matter what, that’s been tested. I’ve always believed that no matter my station in life or no matter what my circumstances were, I would always, without a doubt, play music. And recently that’s been tested, because I’m older now, and I have health issues to stay on top of, and I can’t go sinking money into musical endeavors with no financial payback like I used to be able to. I just can’t. I need a steady job, mainly for the health insurance. I can’t survive without insurance, due to my heart problems. I’ll always need to go back to the hospital and have procedures done and have the battery in my defibrillator changed for the rest of my life, things like that. That all costs a lot of money, and I wouldn’t be able to afford any of that without the insurance I get through my job. So I’ve really questioned if I can go on playing music in bands and how much longer this can continue without interfering  with my “normal” life outside of music. It’s not even that I don’t want to play music anymore, it’s that I have a regular life and a way of living that I need to maintain, and I cannot have music interfere with that. I used to be very idealistic about that, thinking that music would always be the thing that I would do no matter what, but lately I’ve been questioning that a lot and trying to figure out how to make it all work.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

I feel that it leads to places that you’ve wanted to go to but haven’t yet arrived at. When I graduated high school I was thinking about going to Berklee School of Music. I had to go in for an interview, and the person I had to see asked me what I wanted from my guitar playing. I told him I wanted to be able to play whatever I thought of playing right as I was thinking it, that it would just  be automatic.  I’m not talking about notes per se, but whole ideas, I wanted to think of something musically and then just be able to execute it. He didn’t seem too impressed by that, by the way. And I didn’t go to Berklee, mainly because they wanted me to go as a trumpet major and I only cared about guitar at that point, and there are a 10 million guitar players at Berklee but only a handful of trumpet players, at least back then that’s how it was. All shredders. But I feel that after all these years of playing, after all the experiences I’ve had, I basically do that now in  Blackwolfgoat. It’s all been a progression from the time I learned to play the main riff of  “Smoke on the Water” on one string to now. I’ve played in hardcore bands,  metal bands, total free-form improv noise bands, solo acoustic shows, cover bands, all of this stuff, and picked up something at every stop along the way, and it’s all in there now. And it’s been a progression, for sure. There’s still stuff I want to play that I haven’t quite gotten the hold of yet, but I’m looking forward to getting there.

How do you define success?

Man, that is a question with a lot of answers. For me, success is a few things. Sitting on my couch and coming up with a really cool riff that I dig is total success. There’s actually a feeling I get when I come up with something I really dig where I don’t even care if anyone else hears it, I’m not even thinking about that. I’m just completely into the moment and the sound of it RIGHT THEN, and if I get off on that then it’s a success. Self-satisfaction is the greatest success of all. Of course, getting music out there for people to hear and accomplishing that the way you want in and of itself is success. I’ve had recording sessions where something sounded so fucking awesome or so cool that again, it didn’t even matter if anyone outside the studio heard it, I was hearing it right there and then, and I get that same feeling of self-satisfaction. I’d call that success.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Probably the attacks on 9/11 in New York. I was in New York then and it was just a horrifying and shocking thing. The main thing I wish I had never seen was all the people going back to work just days after the attacks, and they were going to work in clouds of soot and smoke, and people were wearing masks to cover their mouths and just trudging back to work in all this destruction. It was a heavy thing to see. People just going about their lives and trying to work to make a living, make their rent, being attacked and then going back to work while the dust was still in the air. No rest at all, just back to the grind.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

As far as something musical? I’m still trying to record that perfect album that’s eight songs in 40 minutes. And every song is cool and the whole thing is solid and stands as a whole and also as as individual pieces. A classic album in the sense of what bands used to do in the ’70. I don’t care about a 30-song album in 20 minutes, or a two-song, hour-long album. I really want to create my own version of a classic rock album that fits into traditional musical values, things like 40-minute albums. That, to me, is musical perfection. Again, that’s something that I’m working towards, making progress. Very few bands write classic albums like I’ve described. It can be done, some bands have done it, but yeah, I just want to create a perfect heavy rock album at some point. My own version of  Zeppelin IV or Master of Reality.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

At some point I’m going to publish my book, Black Thanksgiving, and I’m really looking forward to that. Even if it’s self-published or if someone else helps publish it,  it’s gonna come out at some point. And I’m looking forward to having some time, some free time away from music and everything that entails, all the things that  go into being in a band, having that time to really organize and get the stories together in a coherent manner that flows and putting it altogether officially. These stories have nothing to do with music directly or playing in a band, they’re not “band on tour” stories or like a musical diary or whatever, they’re stand alone  stories that have nothing to do with music, which is what I set out to do. Believe it or not, there is life outside of music. I have an entirely different life outside of the band and outside the realm of music. And I dig that, a lot.

The Scimitar, “Babylon (Rough Mix)”

Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp

Black Pyramid on Thee Facebooks

The Scimitar on Thee Facebooks

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Maple Forum Update: Blackwolfgoat’s Dronolith is Sold Out!

Posted in Label Stuff on August 22nd, 2011 by JJ Koczan

The hits just keep coming today with the news that my last copy of Dronolith by Blackwolfgoat sold on Saturday night! I’ve got the package here and I’ll drop it off at the post office tomorrow (it would’ve gone out this morning, but the CD was here at work), and then that’s it — no more Dronolith from me.

It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Darryl Shepard, the sole figure behind Blackwolfgoat. Dronolith turned out better than I could’ve hoped, and was hugely impressive for a one-man project, pushing drone into progressive builds and resulting in songs that felt like more than just self-indulgence. Recording live gave it a natural feel and Darryl knows what’s what when it comes to making a wall of noise. I’ve been lucky enough to see it first-hand.

Last I heard Darryl had a couple copies left, so you can get in touch with him via the Blackwolfgoat page on Bandcamp to see if that’s still the case, and Aquarius Records in San Francisco should still have some as well from the batch I sent them, but mine are gone. Thanks as always to everyone who bought a copy of the record, from the first to the last, and thanks to Darryl, Alexander von Wieding for his amazing cover art, to Scott Hamilton and Small Stone Records and to everyone who’s reviewed Dronolith or helped spread the word in any way.

Darryl will be playing with Milligram as they support Kyuss Lives! and The Sword in Worcester, Massachusetts, so if you’re up there, I’d definitely try to get tickets, as it should be pretty massive. As for The Maple Forum‘s next release, I hope to have some news from the Clamfight dudes in the next week or two, and we’ll take it from there with artwork, pressing the disc, etc. In the last couple days, I’ve also been talking to three other bands interested in working with the label, so 2012 seems to already be shaping up.

More on that as it develops, and in the meantime, if you didn’t get the chance to buy Dronolith, here’s the album stream Darryl set up. Thanks again.

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The Maple Forum Update: There are Two Copies Left of Blackwolfgoat’s Dronolith

Posted in Label Stuff on August 4th, 2011 by JJ Koczan


I stopped by the post office on my way to work this morning and sent out a package to San Francisco mainstay/tastemaker shop Aquarius Records with 10 copies of Blackwolfgoat‘s Dronolith in it. Aquarius, who was kind enough to review the album a couple weeks back, had already sold out the batch Darryl “I’m the Only Dude in the Band” Shepard sent them, and wanted more. Considering that I’ve been to the store and generally dig what they do, I was more than happy to oblige. The discs will be in good hands and hopefully find good homes.

That left me with three, but as I was sitting here and writing this post, another just sold, which means I now only have two copies left of the album. If you want one, now’s the time. As ever with Maple Forum stuff, once they’re gone, that’s it. We only pressed 100, and they’re gorgeous, and I’m sad to see them go, but yeah, it’s time.

You can make a purchase through the official store of The Maple Forum or by using the Paypal button above, whatever you prefer. Just to remind, Blackwolfgoat is the one-man progressive drone outfit of Shepard, who has played guitar over the years for Milligram and Hackman, among many others and is a master of turning loops into massive barrages of noise. Dronolith was recorded live by Glenn Smith at Amps vs. Ohms Studio and features glossy gatefold digipak artwork by the fantastic Alexander Von Wieding.

Where most records categorized as drone stand still, Dronolith has movement within its six tracks, and I’m proud as hell to have helped with the release in the small way I did. I’ll have another update once the last two discs sell, which is imminent. Click here or the cover above to go to the store.

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The Maple Forum Update: 16 Copies Left of Blackwolfgoat’s Dronolith

Posted in Label Stuff on July 12th, 2011 by JJ Koczan


I’ve been more or less on a listening binge with Blackwolfgoat‘s Dronolith since getting the chance to see/hear Darryl Shepard (the lone figure behind the band — come on, keep up) play some of the material live a couple weeks ago at Lit Lounge in NYC. You could really get a sense for how the songs are constructed part upon part, and it has given me a whole new appreciation for the album.

It was a cool process to watch, and when Darryl topped the morass of noise in “Fear of Stars” with that sweet, melodic solo, it made my whole damn night. There were also a couple points where he was so loud it felt like my earplugs weren’t even there. That was good too.

My stock of CDs is down to 16 and orders have been steadily coming in. The Patient Mrs. did me the favor of taking one to the post office today, and that was much appreciated, and I don’t think it’ll be all that long before the rest go. The reviews, as I said last time, have been positive, and Darryl sent notice yesterday that the good folks at Aquarius Records are going to be carrying and writing up the album, so that was great news as well, given that store’s mass of cred and exceptional ability to understand the stuff they’re reviewing.

I never really intended to be the “label guy.” The Ripple dudes are better at it than I am, and now The Soda Shop‘s got a label going too, and good for them, but I’m not really into sales and, frankly, I suck at writing a pitch because my whole take on it is, “Well, I like this album and I hope you do too” for the two, maybe three, things I’m going to help release in a year. I like Blackwolfgoat and I hope you do too. The rest I guess can work itself out.

16 copies left. I hope you get one if you want one. Buy it using the Paypal button above, clicking the Dronolith cover or clicking here to go to the Maple Forum store.

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