R.I.P. Will Mecum of Karma to Burn

Posted in Features on May 1st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Will Mecum of Karma to Burn (Photo by JJ Koczan)

After crisscrossing rumors and speculation, the April 29 passing of founding Karma to Burn guitarist Will Mecum has been confirmed. Mecum suffered a fall and resultant head injury. His death — even before it actually happened — has caused and outcry of tributes and love that only emphasize the community to which he and his work were so important.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and Karma to Burn were the straightest line to heavy rock and roll one could imagine. Between 1994 and 2014, the Morgantown, West Virginia-based outfit would release some seven full-lengths, including a re-recording of their first. Their influence, like their final lineup, was international, but the band always maintained a forwardness of their approach — instrumental, with Mecum on stage, his hat pulled down over his eyes, hitting it hard — nothin’ too fancy, in a great Appalachian folk tradition embodied no less by the working class riffs that, titled largely by number, populated their records.

The band had this to say about Mecum’s passing:

Dear friends, we come with very heavy hearts to tell you that Will Mecum is no longer with us. Earlier this week, Will suffered a traumatic head injury from an accidental fall. On the evening of April 29th, Will passed on to the next realm. His spirit will live on through his music, and as an organ donor his spirit will live through others who may need help. Words cannot describe how much we appreciated the amount of love and support all of you showed the band throughout the years, it was truly an honor to share the experience of celebrating Will’s riffs all over the world. Rest in Power, Will.

Karma to Burn made their debut in 1997 with their self-titled album, and the transition the band underwent between that record and 1999’s landmark Wild Wonderful Purgatory might be the most enduring key to their legacy and influence. Fronted by Jay Jarosz at the behest of Roadrunner Records, Mecum, then-bassist Rich Mullins and then-drummer Rob Oswald jettisoned their singer and decided on no permanent replacement. Over the years they would flirt with various vocalists, including John Garcia (ex-Kyuss, etc.), Daniel Davies of Year Long Disaster, and others, but when they took the stage and for the vast bulk of their recorded work, they were instrumental. Pointedly so.

And in that, they did no less than set forth a blueprint of how to do heavy rock without a singer that others continue to build on more than 20 years later. Karma to Burn became the model for others to follow, and many have. The band ceased activity for a few years after their third album, 2001’s Almost Heathen, but returned in 2009 following the success of their Mountain Mamas box set and rededicated themselves to the cause of writing music and touring, resulting in 2010’s declarative Appalachian Incantation, 2011’s V and 2012’s Slight Reprise, the latter a prior-alluded fully instrumental redux of their self-titled debut.

That string of records set them on tour for years, largely in Europe. They would also issue a string of splits with friends and tour mates, including Sons of Alpha Centauri (three splits, in fact, recently compiled into a box set) and ÖfÖ Am, as well as live records, a self-titled EP on Heavy Psych Sounds, work with the side-project Treasure Cat and what would be Karma to Burn’s final full-length, 2014’s Arch Stanton. Their most recent release, Thee Rabbit Hole, brought the band full circle in remixing and remastering their earliest demos circa 1995.

H42 Records’ Juergen Berndt, who released the outing, said of Mecum, “Got to know Will since 2014 and got in contact with him while working on the first split 7” together with Nick [Hannon] from Sons Of Alpha Centauri. Three more and a compilation box followed in the last seven years. In the last few months I phoned a lot with Will ’cause working on the album Thee Rabbit Hole (released April 2nd). Of course sometimes it was difficult to work with him when it came to production/art questions but at the end he never put himself in the foreground and at least you just couldn’t be angry with him. I will remember that he had a very special sense of humor, sometimes mostly naturally under the belt line.”

The final incarnation of Karma to Burn continued to tour, featuring Mecum alongside drummer Evan Devine and bassist Eric Clutter, and their status and influence met the waiting eyes and ears of a new generation of fans at club dates and festivals alike. Through it all, the band remained singularly humble — treasured by an international underground fanbase but largely unknown outside those circles — and set themselves to the work that needed to be done.

Mecum is a standalone figure in underground heavy and his contributions will continue to ripple out across generations of artists and listeners. On behalf of myself and this site, I offer condolences to his friends, family, bandmates, and all who knew him. He will be and already is missed.

Karma to Burn, Live at Rock in Bourlon 2018

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R.I.P. Paul DeLeon of Las Cruces

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Condolences to the family, friends and bandmates of Las Cruces drummer Paul DeLeon, who passed away on Jan. 6 after contracting COVID-19. The band was most recently heard from in 2016 when they announced the return of original vocalist Mark Zamarron to the fold, but after releasing 2010’s Dusk (review here) and signing to Ripple Music in 2014 for a fourth full-length to be titled Altar of the Seven Sorrows, the San Antonio group would continue to play shows and fests around Texas but the album had yet to materialize. What their plans might be now isn’t known.

Having been fortunate enough to see DeLeon play live, I remember him as loving being behind that kit and bringing classic metal flair to Las Cruces’ thoroughly doomed style. Founding guitarist George Trevino had words on his friend and bandmate’s passing, as per the PR wire:

paul deleon las cruces

LAS CRUCES Drummer PAUL DE LEON has passed away to Covid on January 6th. LAS CRUCES guitarist, George Trevino, wrote on the band’s Facebook page, “This is the hardest post I’ve had to post on this page but I’m saddened to report the passing of our drummer and brother Paul De Leon. He passed away today after battling Covid. Rest In Peace my dear friend and Metal Brother. You will never be forgotten. We love you. RIP.”

He later added: “Have to say good bye to one of my best friends… He was my friend for 30 years and musical colleague for 15. I will always remember our times on the road and that wonderful laughter and love of life you had my friend. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over this one. I hate Covid for taking you like this. While I try to be very private about how I feel and stuff I cannot deny the love I have for you my Brother. Rest in Peace Paul. I love you.”

Guitarist George Trevino founded LAS CRUCES in 1994 in San Antonio, Texas and has since made his mark across The Lone Star State and the American doom-metal scene.

https://www.facebook.com/crucesdoom
https://lascrucesdoom.com/

Las Cruces, “Cocaine Wizard Woman” official video

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R.I.P. Reed Mullin of Corrosion of Conformity, 1966-2020

Posted in Features on January 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

reed mullin (Photo by JJ Koczan)

As Corrosion of Conformity make ready to embark on their first tour of Australia and New Zealand in six years, the North Carolina-based progenitors of Southern-style heavy rock announce the death of erstwhile drummer Reed Mullin. Mullin, 53, had been in and out of C.O.C. over the half-decade since their reunion with guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, but his work proved as essential as ever to the band with 2018’s studio return, No Cross No Crown. A founding member of Corrosion of Conformity alongside bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist/backing vocalist Woodroe Weatherman in 1982, Mullin played on pivotal records like 1985’s Animosity and 1987’s Technocracy, driving the early sound of the then-trio through its hardcore punk furies, but proved no less adaptable to what became their evolving, signature sound and greatest commercial and critical successes.

With those albums, particularly 1994’s Deliverance and its Grammy-nominated 1996 follow-up, Wiseblood, Mullin anchored the powerful groove on which C.O.C.’s legacy and influence would be built, and even as Keenan emerged as a frontman, the drums behind him built the foundation on which the band resided and fleshed out their memorable songs. Years of reported health problems, etc., have kept him out of the band as they have become a working four-piece unit again, but on 2012’s self-titled LP and 2014’s follow-up, IX, a three-piece incarnation of Corrosion of Conformity with Mullin on drums/vocals, Dean and Weatherman reignited an exploration of their punk roots that still held to a riff-led charge. His work there, as ever, was crucial.

Mullin took part in every Corrosion of Conformity recording aside from 2005’s In the Arms of God, a then-swansong of sorts for the band as a four-piece, and was a creative force behind making C.O.C. who they were, are and will continue to be. The last time I saw him on stage was in 2015, and in presence, voice and style, he was a singular, special figure. He will be much, much missed.

Condolences on behalf of myself and the site to Mullin’s friends, family and associates, as well of course as the band itself, which will never be the same.

Their announcement follows:

corrosion of conformity older pic

Reed, It’s with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to a friend, a brother and pioneer.

Love and condolences to the family, friends and fans who will miss you and thanks for the music.

Reed Mullin vocal recording for IX, 2014

Corrosion of Conformity on Facebook

Corrosion of Conformity website

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R.I.P. Peter Maturi of Swarm of the Lotus & Graven

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

It was hard to listen to the work of Peter Maturi and not be affected by the absolute ferocity of it. As guitarist/vocalist in Swarm of the Lotus and more recently Graven, the Baltimore, Maryland-based Maturi brought an unbridled, unhinged sense of extremity to sludge and noise, refusing to be sold on the line between doom and grind. Maturi’s bandmates announced over the weekend that he has passed away, and on behalf of myself and this site, I offer sincere condolences to his family, friends and of course the other members of his bands.

I never saw Neurosis lay waste to a small back room bar, but I saw Swarm of the Lotus, and if you think that’s a happenstance comparison, forget it. Though their two albums — 2004’s When White Becomes Black on At a Loss Recordings and 2005’s The Sirens of Silence (discussed here) on Abacus/Emetic — remain as brutally underrated as they were, well, brutal, the stage found the band even more punishing. I always held out hope for a third LP, even as they seemed to fade away after the second one. In 2015, the band posted the single “Plagued by Ritual” (discussed here) that further got my hopes up, but nothing else materialized in public from them after that.

By then, however, Maturi had begun Graven and embarked on a new level of aural pummel. The 2018 LP, Heirs of Discord (review here), lived up to its name in capturing the sense of chaos that was always at heart in Swarm of the Lotus, but was clearly its own beast as well that, despite the members being geographically split, only seemed prime for future growth. It is a shame and a loss that such growth will go unrealized.

Here is what Swarm of the Lotus posted:

peter maturi swarm of the lotus

It is with immense sadness that we must announce our friend, bandmate, and brother, Pete Maturi passed away earlier this week. It’s so hard to sum up Pete’s life in one social media post as he probably lived a thousand years worth in his lifetime. His passion for music was undeniable. He lived and breathed it every day. He poured every ounce of his being into everything that he played or wrote, the end result being nothing short of sheer intensity. From the brutal guitar riffs to the pain-filled lyrics, his songs took you to another world. Pete will always be remembered for the amazing musician and person he was. We will never forget his ridiculous and sarcastic sense of humor, his caring soul, or his dedication to his friends and family.

Because of the absolute suddenness of Pete’s passing, it is our goal to make sure that Niki and their daughter do not have to worry about finances while they grieve their immense loss. Any little bit would surely help to relieve any unnecessary burden while they mourn and work toward building a future. If anyone would like to donate, you can do so via PayPal at nikimaturi@gmail.com Any help will be greatly appreciated.

A celebration of life will be held in the future and we will release those details as they unfold.

Until then, throw on a SOTL or Graven album, crank it up loud as fuck and raise a glass to Pete!

Pete, we miss you brother!

Photo by Scott Kinkade

https://www.facebook.com/GRAVENSOUND/
https://gravensound.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SwarmoftheLotus/
https://swarmofthelotus.bandcamp.com/

Graven, Heirs of Discord (2018)

Swarm of the Lotus, “Plagued by Ritual”

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R.I.P. Jokke Stenby of Brutus

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Norwegian heavy boogie rockers Brutus have announced the passing of frontman Joakim Segerfelt Stenby. Known as Jokke to the band and friends, Stenby suffered heart failure this past week and died in his sleep, a sudden loss that is all the more striking for the vitality he brought to his band’s stage presence. Brutus released three albums with Stenby as singer, a 2010 self-titled on Transubstans, and 2013’s Behind the Mountains and 2016’s Wandering Blind, both on Svart, toured and performed at festivals too numerous to name, among them Roadburn, Desertfest, Freak Valley, and so on.

I can’t claim to have known him personally, but on behalf of this site and myself, condolences to his family, friends and of course bandmates. I was fortunate enough to catch Brutus headlining the crypt stage at last year’s Høstsabbat in Oslo, and even never having seen them live before, it was obvious to me the weight of that occasion. They handled that room like the hometown heroes they were, a band long past basement shows playing a basement show. That entire room moved, and it was awesome. The personality Stenby — beer cup in hand, skillfully unspilled — brought to his performance and to the group as a whole was unmistakable in the spirit of a classic frontman. Their party would have been impossible to ignore, even if you’d wanted to do so. And you didn’t.

Of course, there is no word on what the future of Brutus is if there is one. When/if I hear something, I’ll post accordingly.

Rest in peace, Joakim Stenby.

The band’s announcement follows:

brutus jokke (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s with a very heavy heart and tearful eyes we announce that our beloved brother, frontman, entertainer and the voice of Brutus, Jokke has left this world. Cursed with a heart failure, he went to sleep and never woke up again.

The news of his departure hit us like a bomb, and left us all heartbroken. The loss of a bandmate, brother and best friend is beyond words. Joakim was a beautiful person, with so much to share… music was his passion, being on stage singing, recording for hours and hours just to get it right, sitting in a van for days, or just sharing a beer and playing records with his friends!

All our thoughts and love goes to Jenny, Joakim’s wife and love in life, and his family in this time of despair and darkness.

We love you so much brother!! We hope you are in good place, rocking out with your kraut-heroes, and that we will see you again someday on the other side. You will never be forgotten!

R.I.P. brother

Kim
Christian
Johan
Knut-ole

Brutus, “Drowning” official video

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SubRosa Announce Breakup (For Now) and Many New Projects

Posted in Features on May 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Even with the many ongoing projects featuring the members as detailed below, SubRosa will be missed. The band announced their breakup with the expected level of honesty, going so far as to include a parenthetical “for now,” leaving open the possibility of doing something again in the future. They go out having released the best album of 2017 in For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), which serves as their final studio outing, and the 2018 live album, SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 (review here), which I have absolutely zero hesitation in dubbing one of the most powerful live performances I’ve ever witnessed. About 20 minutes ago, putting my son to bed, I sang him “The Mirror,” as I do every day.

That bit of personal affinity aside, SubRosa were legitimately a band pushing post-metal to places it hadn’t been, representative of a varied, passion-driven creative force that set a standard few could match. If this is it and they never do anything else, it’s a genuine loss. And if they come back at some point — any point, really, whenever — they’ll be welcome. For now, I’ll put on the last record and be glad to have seen the band when I did.

Here’s their announcement, as just posted on the social medias:

subrosa

To all of our beautiful, supportive fans and friends,

After a magical 13-year run, SubRosa is calling it quits (for now). Rebecca decided she wanted to focus on her solo project, The Keening, and Kim, Sarah, Levi and Andy have all been able to focus their creative energies on other musical ventures. We would never have experienced our dreams as reality without you, and we cannot thank you enough. Rather than despairing over what is lost, we want to continue this journey with you. We are all on fire right now writing new music:

• Kim and her partner are soon releasing their noise/doom/electro-magma love child into the world as Teleprom.

Bandcamp: https://teleprom.bandcamp.com/releases

• Andy is about to put out a new record with his 2-piece Bass and Drums band DØNE.

Bandcamp: https://donebandmusic.bandcamp.com/

• Sarah and Zachary Livingston from Minsk are releasing the first Asphodel Wine album “Slowdance Macabre” – a dynamic sonic narrative of love, passion, fire and the perils of consciousness – early next year, and are already writing their second album.

Instagram: @asphodelwine
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asphodelwine/

• Rebecca has started writing music for her solo project The Keening.

Instagram: @thekeeningmusic
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thekeeningmusic/

• And last but not least, Andy, Kim, Levi, and Sarah are writing an album that is heavier than a truckload of lead bricks. Our band is unnamed as of this announcement, but we will keep you posted on that.

If you ever came to a SubRosa show, listened to a song, gave us a place to crash, booked a show, promoted our music, or worked with us in any way, you were part of our dream. In particular, we’d like to thank our label owners and booking agents: Chris Bruni, Nathan Carson, Nanouk de Meijere and Ola Blomkvist, for supporting us continually through the years.

We love you.

SubRosa, For This We Fought the Battle of Ages (2016)

SubRosa website

SubRosa on Bandcamp

SubRosa on Instagram

SubRosa on Thee Facebooks

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R.I.P. Carlos Denogean of Weedeater

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

weedeater carlos denogean

North Carolinian sludge stalwarts Weedeater mourn the loss of one of their own with the passing this weekend of drummer Carlos Denogean. The trio toured this past summer starting in June at Maryland Doom Fest 2018 and performed earlier this month at Psycho Las Vegas. At this time, the cause of death has not been made public, but bassist/vocalist “Dixie” Dave Collins and guitarist Dave “Shep” Shepherd posted a statement on social media to note Denogean’s passing and ask for privacy.

Hi everyone,

There is no easy way to say this. Our dear friend and bandmate Carlos Denogean passed away yesterday. It is with a heavy heart and intense sadness that we bring you this unfortunate news. He left this world far too soon and will be missed immensely by all of us. Anyone that knew Carlos was enamored by his kindness and his warm personality. He was an incredibly talented musician and a real joy to be around. He brought something truly special to the band and we all loved working with him. We simply cannot express how devastated we are by this loss. We don’t know any details at this time and we ask that you please leave us to grieve now along with Carlos’ family. Thank you for all of your kind wishes. Cherish what you have while you have it.

– Weedeater

Having been fortunate enough to see Denogean play in Maryland at the start of Weedeater’s June/July tour, he was an energetic performer who brought character and swing to Weedeater’s established material while playing with a sense of personality that fit well with the long-established chemistry of Collins and Shepherd. Condolences on behalf of this site and myself to Denogean’s family, friends and bandmates in this difficult time. Weedeater have not posted any word about their future plans, and neither would one expect them to so close to this loss.

They were in Europe earlier this spring for appearances at Roadburn and Desertfest in London and Berlin, and were slated to appear in October at Slaughter-Que in Atlanta, Georgia.

Weedeater’s latest album, which preceded Denogean’s arrival to the band, was Goliathan, released in 2015 on Season of Mist.

https://www.facebook.com/weedmetal/
https://weedeater.bandcamp.com/album/goliathan
https://www.twitter.com/seasonofmist
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial
http://www.season-of-mist.com/

Weedeater, Live at Psycho Las Vegas, Aug. 17, 2018

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Lord Announce Breakup and Confirm Final Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Well that’s a fucking bummer. And kind of unexpected, to be perfectly honest. Long-ish running Virginian sludge-thrash chaosbringers Lord have announced they’re calling it a day. Their breakup, effective Aug. 4 when they play their final show in Baltimore, comes just weeks ahead of the slated Aug. 24 release for their new album, Desperation Finds Hunger in All Men (review here), which for my money is their best record to-date — a sprawling 66-minutes of carbonized riffing and intense emotional and sonic weight, it seemed if nothing else to be the work of a band who still had a lot to say. Apparently it was their way of laying it all out on the table one last time.

Over the course of their 11 years, Lord went through copious lineup changes. Watching a changing scene around them that went from producing the likes of VOG and Ol’ Scratch to the likes of Foehammer, I wouldn’t exactly call Lord a steady presence — it could be years between releases, and each one seemed to feature different players around guitarist Will Rivera — but they were nonetheless reliable when it came to producing work of individualized assault, sometimes an extreme vision of Southern metal, other times a visceral grind, other times still a style unto themselves.

It’s been more than half a decade since I saw them live, and I won’t get to catch either of their last shows — July 28 in West Virginia, Aug. 4 in Baltimore, Maryland — so I’ll just say I’m sorry to see them go. No matter who was involved with a given outing, Lord never failed to put everything they had — mind, body, soul — into what they did, and for that alone, never mind the actual quality of their output, they’ll be deeply missed.

Rivera talks about the breakup in the thee-social-medias post below, and says no reunion, but you never really know, especially with a band who made a habit of being so unpredictable. In the meantime, he’s got a new album coming with his solo-project Absent Sky reportedly this Fall on Heavy Hound Records, so one will keep an eye out for that.

But yeah, thanks Lord. You guys were a way, way better band than people knew.

Here’s that post:

lord

After 13 years,LORD will be playing its final show on Aug. 4th in Baltimore. We have decided to disband in the wake of my decision to leave the band and the others not feeling comfortable with the idea on continuing under the same name without the sole remaining original member and co-founder.

My decision to leave is something that I’ve been wrestling with for at least 6 months now and it finally became clear to me when a series of transitional events happened in my life that have refocused my priorities and made me wanna take advantage of the time and opportunities that have come my way. I feel that what we’ve accomplished on our final release, Desperation Finds Hunger In All Men, is the culmination of years of hard work and an excellent way to cap off LORD’s legacy.

I’ve never been one to go through the motions and always give a 100% into anything I’m involved in but I feel that my heart is no longer in it and that this creative collaboration has run its course. I know there will be some who will be disappointed and may not understand why I’d choose to leave now but I have to do what is right for me and what brings me joy.

I wanna take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support, it means the world to me that anyone would care. I also wanna thank all members of LORD, former and current, for their time and effort: Steven Kerchner, Todd Wuehrmann, Chris Dugay, Tommy Emanuel, Tony Petrocelly, Stephen Sullivan, Rob Gouldman, Andy Murray, Mike Meeks, Jesse Hottle and Helena Goldberg. The other members will be moving on to other projects and I will be focusing on Absent Sky, Hopekiller and a few other projects that are currently in the works.

Make sure to come out to our final shows on July 28th in Martinsburg, WVa and Aug. 4th in Baltimore. There won’t be any reunion shows so if you have had any intention in catching this band, it’s your last chance! Keep an eye out for Desperation Finds Hunger In All Men on Aug 24th as we’ll continue promoting the album on Facebook, Instagram and Bandcamp. Cheers and love to you all, thanks for your time… Will

Lord final lineup:
Steven F. Kerchner II – Vocals, Noise, Percussion
Will Rivera – Guitar
Todd Wuehrmann – Guitar
Chris Dugay – Bass
Tony Petrocelly – Drums

Lord on Thee Facebooks

Lord on Bandcamp

Heavy Hound Records on Instagram

Heavy Hound Records on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Hound Records website

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