Shadow Witch Sign to Argonauta; Under the Shadow of a Witch Due in 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

It has not been all that long since Shadow Witch put out word their drummer search had ended with the acquisition of Connecticut-based Scott Wadowski. Actually, it was about a week and a half ago. In the time since, the Kingston, New York, dark heavy rockers have made public their alliance with Argonauta Records for the release of their next album, the more-than-self-titled Under the Shadow of a Witch, which will be issued next year. There hasn’t been a release date set that I’ve seen, but the band already has slots booked at Maryland Doom Fest, New England Stoner and Doom Fest and SX Stoner Jam at SXSW. On their own, that’d probably be enough to call it a good year, but no doubt there’s more to come as well.

Looking forward to the brew Shadow Witch cook up for their next record, and to seeing them again, first in Connecticut, then hopefully in Maryland as well if they’ll have me. They were awesome at MDDF this year.

From the PR wire:

shadow witch

SHADOW WITCH SIGNS WITH ARGONAUTA RECORDS!

New album coming in 2019!

In 2015, a crew of veteran musicians in Kingston, New York started to share the passion to create powerfully original music. SHADOW WITCH drew their musical influences from various directions, but their goals were simple: harness decades of experience into a cohesive, monstrous sound. While the velocity by which those goals were met is no surprise, the band has now signed a worldwide deal with Italy’s powerhouse label ARGONAUTA RECORDS!

“We are incredibly excited about the next album, and feel that the move to Argonauta Records is the great step forward SHADOW WITCH have been waiting for“, comments vocalist Earl Walker Lundy on the signing. “The music for our upcoming album UNDER THE SHADOW OF A WITCH pushes the band in new directions, that folks may be surprised by. It’s our bluesiest so far, and it’s also a deeply personal album for me. We’re proud of what we’ve written, and honored to be sharing it with the world through Gero and the Argonauta family!”

In August 2016, SHADOW WITCH released their first full-length album ‘Sun Killer’, to excellent reviews from the international heavy music community. The album is a diverse assemblage of songs pulling in doom, thrash, psychedelic and stoner metal, and they back it up with intense, explosive live shows to annihilate any listener hesitation.

While member resumes may have eased their footing inside the door of many venues, their future is unquestionably solid. SHADOW WITCH began a new chapter in their music history with the official release of their second full-length album ‘Disciples Of The Crow’ in December 2017.

Followed by the recent signing with Argonauta Records, SHADOW WITCH will make their return with an amazing new release filled with the band’s special mood, atmosphere, killer riffs and vocals. The songs are all that’s needed to raise you above the light, surround you in darkness, and bind your ears, hearts and mind as one. SHADOW WITCH will be coming for you in 2019, so stay tuned for more album news and first tunes to be unveiled soon!

SHADOW WITCH is:
Scott Wadowski – drums
David Pannullo – bass
Earl Lundy – voice / mellotron / loops
Jeremy Hall – guitars

LIVE:
3/14 2019 (US) SX Stoner Jam 2019 / Spiderhouse, Austin, TX
5/3-5 2019 (US) – New England Stoner And Doom Fest 2 / Altone’s Music Hall, Jewett City, CT
6/20-23 2019 (US) – Maryland Doom Fest 2019 / Cafe 611, Frederick, MD
with many more dates to follow soon!

www.facebook.com/shadowwitch.band
www.shadowwitch.bandcamp.com
www.argonautarecords.com

Shadow Witch, Disciples of the Crow (2017)

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Shadow Witch Welcome New Drummer Scott Wadowski

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

Hey, I like trivia as much as the next guy — assuming, that is, that the next guy isn’t really all that into trivia either — so here’s one for you. Shadow Witch‘s new drummer, Scott Wadowski, is listed below as having a 25-year history of recording and playing out. Cool. But enigmatic as they reliably are, Shadow Witch doesn’t go on to say what bands Wadowski‘s actually been in. Well, some cursory interwebular research produced the name Rumblehead as being a Connecticut-based act in the mid-’90s in which Wadowski was involved. I immediately of course looked for music but found none — that’s not to say it’s not out there somewhere, just that I didn’t find it — but I did stumble on an article from the Metro section of the New York Times from 1994 that talks about the band rehearsing in a self-storage facility. It’s got quotes from a bandmate of Wadowski‘s as well as Thurston Moore and Ian MacKaye. Check it out here.

Apropos of anything? Surely not, but Shadow Witch are nothing if not eclectic, and I know that if my band got a mention in the Times 24 years ago, I’d still have the article framed on a wall, so hey. I’ve heard, and had, way lamer claims to fame. Wadowski and his new cohorts in Shadow Witch will record a new album in 2019 to follow-up 2017’s Disciples of the Crow (review here). More on that, but probably not more trivia, as we get there.

The band’s announcement is short and sweet:

shadow witch

Scott Wadowski, a Central CT based power playing drummer, with over 25 years experience performing and recording in studio, playing in a wide range of styles including hard rock, metal, symphonic and progressive, and thrash.

Scott , known lovingly as Wad, is a Leo who likes long barefoot walks on beach…;)

SHADOW WITCH is:
David Pannullo (bass)
Scott Wadowski (drums)
Earl Walker Lundy (vocals, mellotron, samples)
Jeremy H. Hall (guitars)

https://www.facebook.com/shadowwitch.band/
https://shadowwitch.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec/
www.saltoftheearthrecords.com

Shadow Witch, Disciples of the Crow (2017)

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New England Stoner and Doom Fest II Makes First Lineup Announcement; Earthride, Brimstone Coven, Youngblood Supercult & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

new england stoner and doom fest ii

Welp, I guess I know what I’m doin’ on May 3 and 4 next year. Calendar is marked. I was otherwise occupied during the first New England Stoner and Doom Fest earlier this year, but with the usual caveat that a piano might fall on my head between now and then, my plan is to hit New England Stoner and Doom Fest II as a priority, and the first lineup announcement has done nothing to dissuade me from that intention. Shadow Witch, Earthride, and Brimstone Coven are all vets of Maryland Doom FestEarthride are of course kingpins of that scene though release through NESDF-related Salt of the Earth Records — but Vessel of Light, Youngblood Supercult, Black Road, Set Fire and others it will be my first time seeing, so all the more reason to look forward to getting to Altones, which I hear kicks ass anyway.

And yes, I’m among the presenting media for the festival, but I don’t have the inside track or anything on who’s playing, so as the announcements come through for the bill, I’ll be just as surprised as everyone else. I’m looking forward to that too. There’s a good bit of diversity of sound already in the lineup, and any chance you get to see Brimstone Coven‘s harmonies in-person, you should do that. Bottom line is there’s a lot to like here so far, so dig in, and when I see the next round come through, that’ll get the same treatment.

For now, here’s the first poster and the list as posted on the fest event page on Thee Facebooks:

new england stoner and doom fest ii first poster

The New England Stoner and Doom Festival will make its return in 2019 on May 3 & 4 at Altones in Jewett City, CT.

Stay tuned for details!

www.newenglandstoneranddoomfest.com

Featuring:
Brimstone Coven
Earthride
Black Road
Vessel Of Light
Shadow Witch
Youngblood Supercult
Set Fire
Mourn The Light
Entierro

Many many more to be announced.

www.newenglandstoneranddoomfest.com
https://www.facebook.com/events/1613285008788252/
https://www.facebook.com/NewEnglandStonerAndDoomFest/
https://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com/

Earthride, Live in Los Angeles, June 13, 2018

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

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

maryland doom fest 2019 announcement

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

It’s gonna be crowded.

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

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

Here’s the lineup:

maryland doom fest 2019 poster

MARYLAND DOOM FEST 2019 – JUNE 20-23

DOOMSTERS, GRUNGERS, SLUDGERS, STONERS, & PAGANS —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DooM !!! ~JB

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

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

Earthride, Live at Maryland Doom Fest 2018

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Shadow Witch Seeking Drummer; New Album to be Recorded

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Kind of an odd situation for Shadow Witch, but Shadow Witch are kind of an odd band, and that’s part of their appeal. The Kingston, New York, four-piece are getting ready to record the follow-up to their sophomore full-length, Disciples of the Crow (review here). They’ve given the new album the title Under the Shadow of a Witch, and they’ll record with drummer Doug “Beans” Thompson, but then after that, Thompson‘s leaving the band and they’re looking to bring someone else in.

So what Shadow Witch need is a drummer not to play on the album, but to pick up with live shows thereafter and, presumably, record with them next time around. If you’re a drummer, that gives you the chance to get to know the other guys in the band before rather than stepping into a situation where they have a bunch of completed songs and you have to catch up to them. It’ll require learning the material, but it would anyway. Like a lot of what Shadow Witch does, it makes a weird kind of sense.

Replacing Thompson in the lineup won’t be easy, but as fascinating a band as Shadow Witch are, especially live, I have no doubt they’d be able to find someone.

Here’s their announcement:

shadow witch

New York’s SHADOW WITCH are sadly on a search for a new drummer. Doug “BEANS” Thompson (MURPHY’S LAW, BROOKLYN) with whom the band recorded and toured their second release DISCIPLES OF THE CROW, is having to leave the band for personal/family reasons.

The band is currently working on their next release “UNDER THE SHADOW OF A WITCH,” an album singer/lyricist Earl Walker Lundy says was written during an intense and torrid affair.

“All the songs are thematically tied to love as witchcraft, with obsession, addiction and loss as the outcome. We’re recording the album with Doug, but are in need of a replacement of his caliber to follow up with touring, and to move forward with the band. It’s an enormous challenge.”

SHADOW WITCH is:
David Pannullo (bass)
Doug “Beans” Thompson (drums)
Earl Walker Lundy (vocals, mellotron, samples)
Jeremy H. Hall (guitars)

https://www.facebook.com/shadowwitch.band/
https://shadowwitch.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec/
www.saltoftheearthrecords.com

Shadow Witch, Disciples of the Crow (2017)

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2018 Night Two, 06.23.18

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

maryland doom fest 2018 night two poster

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

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

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

Electropathic

Electropathic (Photo JJ Koczan)

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

Molasses Barge

Molasses Barge (Photo JJ Koczan)

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

Shadow Witch

Shadow Witch (Photo JJ Koczan)

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

Doomstress

Doomstress (Photo JJ Koczan)

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

The Age of Truth

The Age of Truth (Photo JJ Koczan)

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

Switchblade Jesus

Switchblade Jesus (Photo JJ Koczan)

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

Foghound

Foghound (Photo JJ Koczan)

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

Cavern

Cavern (Photo JJ Koczan)

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

The Watchers

The Watchers (Photo JJ Koczan)

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

Earthride

Earthride (Photo JJ Koczan)

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

Castle

Castle (Photo JJ Koczan)

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

Windhand

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

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

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

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Shadow Witch Post “Disciples of the Crow” Video; Vinyl out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

shadow witch

Shadow Witch are one of those bands who are just about totally out there on their own wavelength, and as a result either get lumped into places they don’t belong — called metal, for example, which they’re not — or underrated entirely for the work they’re doing. Sure, metal is a part of what they do, but so is heavy rock, so is goth rock, so is doom, so is punk, grunge, and so on. The band’s second album, Disciples of the Crow (review here), was released at the end of last year by Salt of the Earth Records, and is available now on vinyl either directly through the band or via Kozmik Artifactz in Europe. The timing couldn’t be better, since the platter just so happens to coincide with a new video for the title-track and the band’s appearance this coming weekend at Maryland Doom Fest 2018. Amazing how these things work out sometimes.

And like much of the record that shares its name, “Disciples of the Crow” isn’t overblown tonally or in terms of aggression. It finds a place for itself in between varying stylistic elements, sharing aspects here and there with elements of the styles noted above, but creating one whole sound from them rather than simply jumping from one part to the next, one genre to the next. What that means when it comes to the album is a more cohesive listening experience, since the material ties together in terms of vibe and actual production alike, and keeps a steady foundation of songwriting beneath from the melodic opener “Love Could Be Like This” to the hook in the finale of “Dead Heroes.” As far as representing the record, the title-track does it well — duh — and showcases the aesthetic nuance at play in what Shadow Witch do as well as the lack of pretense with which they do it. For all their melding, Shadow Witch could still rightly be called straightforward.

They have more dates following Maryland Doom Fest, and you’ll find those, as well as the link to pick up Disciples of the Crow on LP, after the video below, all of which comes courtesy of the social medias.

Please enjoy:

Shadow Witch, “Disciples of the Crow” official video

Limited Edition 180gram Cloudy Orange Vinyl. Now available through Kozmik Artifactz in Europe, and stateside at the Shadow Witch bandcamp site: https://shadowwitch.bandcamp.com/album/disciples-of-the-crow

Shadow Witch live:
JUN 22 The Maryland Doom Fest 2018 Frederick MD
JUN 22 Bar XIII Wilmington DE w/ Beelzefuzz, Witch Hazel, Season of Mourning
JUN 24 Pourhouse of Norfolk • La Fin Du Monde Norfolk, VA w/ Doomstress, Witchkiss, VRSA, That Which Sleeps
JUL 7 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ Wasted Theory, Sun Voyager
AUG 3 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ Brimstone Coven, Cat Skulls
SEP 7 13th Floor Music Lounge Florence MA w/ Toke, Curse the Son, Geezer

SHADOW WITCH is
David Pannullo ~ bass
Doug “dougy beans” Thompson ~ drums
Earl Walker Lundy ~ vocals, mellotron, samples
Jeremy H. Hall ~ guitars

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Review & Full Album Stream: Shadow Witch, Disciples of the Crow

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Shadow Witch Disciples of the Crow

[Click play above to stream Shadow Witch’s Disciples of the Crow in its entirety. Album is out Dec. 15 on Salt of the Earth Records.]

Proffering eight tracks of ominous heavy blues, Shadow Witch sneak out their sophomore full-length, Disciples of the Crow, in some of the darkest hours of 2017, which seems somehow fitting considering the somewhat apocalyptic vibes on hand. Even a faster cut like the more classically metal “Stranger Skies” has a kind of Biblically-informed fire and brimstone despite its lyrical references to red dawns and yellow kings, and certainly the earlier pair of “Reap” and “Cruel” that follow opener “Love Could be Like This” have those elements at work as well as vocalist/mellotronist Earl Walker Lundy injects the material with a preacher’s soulfulness that becomes no less a defining factor than the multi-layer progressive shred guitarist Jeremy H. Hall brings to the second half of the aforementioned “Stranger Skies.”

Peppered with samples throughout — crows on the title-track (premiered here), a thunderstorm to open the six-and-a-half-minute “The Sea,” a spoken part and tolling bell later into “Cruel,” etc. — what might otherwise be a straightforward heavy rocker is given depth of character and atmosphere (samples are also provided by Lundy), but that foundation in dead-ahead structuring is very much present in the drumming of Doug Thompson and bass work of David Pannullo, who are charged as the rhythm section with keeping Disciples of the Crow moving at the clip it does. A decidedly smooth tonality from Pannullo and Hall, perhaps with the exception of the penultimate three-minute blaster “Beneath the Veil,” adds another level of intrigue overall, making the manageable 36 minutes of the record an all the more fascinating proposition worthy of repeat visits.

In the case of the latter — the fuzz — one might liken it on “Love Could be Like This” or even the stomping title-track to the round-edged warmth of Clutch‘s Elephant Riders, though it’s important to keep in mind in doing so that Shadow Witch‘s approach on the whole draws more from metallic traditionalism amid its heavy rocking pulse. Further, if one wanted to draw a line to the Maryland stalwarts, Clutch‘s “Impetus” might be just as appropriate for the immediacy of momentum with which “Love Could be Like This” begins via Thompson‘s drums. It’s also pivotal to remember that the vision cast throughout Disciples of the Crow brims with a willful, purposeful bleakness of mindset. Consider “Cruel,” with the vaguely of-our-times comment, “Your creature comfort/Honey that don’t mean a thing to me/And your social justice/Well the bell it tolls but freedom it don’t ring.”

shadow witch

This examination of privilege, kind of a chorus led into by the first verse, comes with a grim sonic turn, and while one wonders at the perspective overall with which Shadow Witch are approaching the ever-shifting, ever-manic, ever-tragic modernity in which we somehow continuously spiral, the blue-collar perspective is as clear as the adoption of bluesman’s language to present it. This is more of a theme earlier on, though even “Beneath the Veil” drips back to reference the yellow king in the lyrics again, and Disciples of the Crow sets up a nearly bipolar personality for itself with the title-track rounding out side A and “Stranger Skies” beginning a more careening side B with shades of Iron Maiden in its gallop. The flaw in that argument is not accounting for the acoustic aspects of “The Sea” or melody-fueled angular chug of closer “Dead Heroes,” but when one considers Leviathan-era Mastodon for the former or perhaps even late-’90s Tool for the rhythmic chop of the latter — at least before it straightens itself out in the hook — it’s not too much of a stretch to think of them as a more metal manifestation either than some of the earlier pieces.

Wherever Shadow Witch are coming from on a given track or in a given verse — and yes, one is reminded of Soundgarden‘s “Rusty Cage” as Lundy intones “I’m gonna break…” twice near the end of “Dead Heroes”; hard to imagine that’s not on purpose given the song’s title — the cauldron brew they concoct from that complex recipe is very much their own. Their 2016 debut, Sun Killer (discussed here), worked with a similar potency, but Disciples of the Crow is more memorable in its progression and comes across as more efficient in how it’s been crafted. While of course there are tempo shifts, most notably between the pair of the patient “The Sea” and the ensuing thrust of “Beneath the Veil” — the longest cut running headfirst into the shortest — the work Shadow Witch are doing here never feels like it’s in more of a rush than it should be, and for that, there isn’t a single track among its eight that doesn’t end up with some standout aspect emerging, particularly after a couple times through.

United by the foreboding ambience, the quality of the riffs and by Lundy‘s accomplished melodicism as a singer able to hone a dramatic feel without ever leaving behind the idea of serving the material itself rather than the other way around, Disciples of the Crow sets its own terms for its brand of accessibility, and while Shadow Witch are without a doubt speaking to the converted, the nuanced voice in which they do so leads one to think the converted will find the message well worth receiving. As well, for the fluidity of the front-to-back listen despite the turns between the first four songs and the second, in addition to the shifts nestled into side B between “Stranger Skies” and “The Sea,” “Beneath the Veil” and “Dead Heroes” — the last one feeling almost like a bonus track by the time it’s done — Disciples of the Crow is a considerable achievement for Shadow Witch and a firm declaration of who they are aesthetically and their potential to continue to develop along these lines. A moment of arrival? Maybe, but there’s enough drive at root in their sound to make me think they won’t be staying still all that long.

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