Live Review: Psycho Las Vegas Friday, 08.17.18

Posted in Features, Reviews on August 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas

08.18.18 – 5:00AM – Saturday – Hotel room

Gluttons for punishment, unite! Cast off the chains of your dayjobs and journey to a druggy boozy place where you can smoke indoors and piss away your head-earned on, well, potentially, someone else’s hard-earned. You never liked those brain cells anyway, and what good have they done?

Me, I prefer my brains melted or otherwise obliterated with fatigue. Dripping out my ears, either way. But I see some folks around here going nuclear, and hey, I get it. Safe environment, plenty of support, nothing to lose. It’s self-directed cruelty more than anything else that keeps me sober. I don’t deserve the good time everyone else is having. Kablooey.

It was an early start for a busy day. 12:30PM. I’d imagine there were people who hadn’t gone to bed yet. But DVNE were not to be missed, so, I didn’t miss them. A lot of back and forth early and not really much staying-put later makes for a hell of a time, but everything is right there around the corner and everyone here is very nice. At least the people who’ve said hi to me. I’m sure just by simple population-sample math there are one or two jerks running around, but none I’ve run into.

Witchcraft didn’t make it. That’s a band I’ve dug on some level or other for more than a decade, but wasn’t gonna cry over it. Plenty to see besides with three stages open: The Joint, Vinyl and the Pool.

And like I said, early start. Went like this:

DVNE

dvne (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Good band. That’s what I wrote in my notes. Direct quote: Good band. Pro shop. For DVNE‘s first appearance on a US stage — and sizable US stage at that, in The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino — they hit it like absolute professionals. Crisp in their sound, intense in delivery, every bit in command of the room, from “go” onward. With full lighting and production behind them, CO2 canisters firing and lasers behind and their logo blasted on massive stage-side screens, the Edinburgh progressive post-metal four-piece certainly seemed to be made to feel welcome on what to them was foreign shores. Killed. Just nailed it. They have a new record out next year following up on last year’s righteous Asheran, and playing beneath oranges and reds that echoed that album’s cover art, they delivered a set that quite frankly, unless they break up tomorrow, I sincerely doubt will be their last time on an American stage. In other words, they seem ready to hit the road in a we’re-a-full-time-band-now kind of way, and more power to them. It’ll be worth keeping an eye out in 2019 for when they come through supporting their next full-length, but in the meantime, this set was basically serving early notice of a significant arrival.

Night Horse

Night Horse (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Sure, it’s been eight years since L.A.’s Night Horse released their second album, Perdition Hymns (review here), but what the hell? The double-guitar five-piece — one of those guitarists happens to be Justin Maranga from Ancestors — took the stage and quickly warmed up their classic your-dad’s-rock-was-better vibe that, with added charm from vocalist Sam James Velde introducing them by saying, “We’re Integrity from Cleveland, Ohio,” was a total blast. I’ll admit it’s been a while since the last time I had Perdition Hymns or their 2008 debut, The Dark Won’t Hide You, on for a spin, but even though Maranga forgot his slide and no one seemed to have a beer bottle to use instead, they definitely made it work. With guitarist Greg Buensuceso and bassist Nick D’Itri holding down the other side of the stage and drummer Norm Block swinging away in the middle, they were way more locked in than one might think for a band who haven’t really kicked around all that much in at least a half-decade. Velde stepped over the barricade and into the crowd during the last song and asked everyone to sit with him on the floor — a proposition that I’d imagine would be way stickier later in the day — while he told the story of the song, and it made for a special moment, as almost everyone actually did it. He got back up and they rocked to a finish, but if you ever needed to know how much Night Horse owned that room, they literally sat it down to give some background on their material. He could do that at every show for all I know, but it was something special here anyway and I felt lucky to see it.

The Munsens

The Munsens (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Denver trio The Munsens posted a new single earlier this week called “Dirge (For Those to Come)” as a preview of their upcoming full-length, Unhanded, and with it, gave a first look at a notable change in direction, pushing more into the territory of extreme sludge than even two years ago found them on their Abbey Rose EP (review here). With guitarist/vocalist Shaun Goodwin and bassist/vocalist Michael Goodwin welcoming drummer Graham Wesselhoff, the shift is easy enough to place, but a corresponding turn to harsher vocals and more grueling fare would seem to be at hand. Most, if not all, of what they played in Vinyl was also from Unhanded, and they unfurled an onslaught of tone and noise that seemed to bounce right off the back of the room and make a wall of death with the next riff cycle. It was brutal, and not as given to crust as Dopethrone, but seemed to be somewhat of that spirit. Delivered with a likewise visual assault of strobe, their time went quick — unless I passed out from all the flashing lights — but was well enough to get the point of the evolution they’ve undergone. I don’t know if I’ll be ready when Unhanded, hits, but at least I’ll see it coming.

Temple of Void

Temple of Void (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I don’t know whether Temple of Void are the doom of death or the death of doom, but fucking hell they’re heavy. The Detroit five-piece released their second LP, Lords of Death, last year on Shadow Kingdom, and they’d only dip back once to 2014’s Of Terror and the Supernatural (review here) for “Examinate Gaze,” while everything else was from the new album. Fair enough for the significant assault factor of their death metal plunge. They took the stage to the Lords of Death intro “The Charnel Unearthing” — which given the intensity of what followed, I almost found unnecessary; they hit it so hard, why give people the chance to get ready? — and from there proffered an extremity that went beyond even the death metal to the atmospheric weight of what they were doing. Vocalist Mike Erdody had a soulful, tortured aspect to his headbanging and while behind him drummer Jason Pearce slammed into his kit with palpable resentment thereof and guitarists Alex Awn and Eric Blanchard tore into searing riffs and leads given all the more weight by Brent Satterly‘s bass, the sense of emotionalism Erdody brought to his growls was something rare on either side of the genre. It was another level on which Temple of Void make their impact felt, and a distinguishing factor that resonated throughout their time.

Church of Misery

Church of Misery (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There was something of a crunch at this point in the schedule. Church of Misery were going on in the Joint while Temple of Void finished up in Vinyl, and then by the time the serial-killer-crazed Japanese riff lords were done, Yakuza would have already started, also in Vinyl. Still, history said “go see Church of Misery,” and history wasn’t wrong. Bassist/founder Tatsu Mikami is nothing less than doom royalty, and while I’ve seen him perform with several different lineups over the years, it always seems like he’s ready to deliver no matter who’s joined him on stage at the time. Psycho was no exception as he, vocalist/thereminist Hiroyuki Takano, guitarist Yasuto Muraki and drummer Junichi Yamamura ran through a selection of the hits: “Shotgun Boogie,” “I, Motherfucker,” “Born to Raise Hell” and so on. I’m not huge on the whole serial killer thing — by coincidence, I wound up in an elevator today with one of Charles Manson’s descendants who was telling his friends it’s way less cool when it’s your family — but regardless, Church of Misery did plenty of slaying on their own and made it easy to hope they record with this lineup, as it seemed like they were more than ready to get down to business at the Sabbathian core of what the band has always been about. I did end up poking my head in to see Yakuza for a moment — and Bruce Lamont is still way ahead of his time — but Church of Misery weren’t taking no for an answer. I was back in the Joint before long as they blew out the rest of their set and any number of eardrums in the process.

Tinariwen

Tinariwen (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Absolutely stunning. I knew next to nothing about the Tuareg group Tinariwen going into the announcement they’d play Psycho Las Vegas, but the schedule cut off both the pool and Vinyl stages while they played, so clearly they were an act Psycho wanted people to see. Rightly so. Dressed in robes and traditional garb and backed by hand percussion, the band led by guitarist/vocalist Ibrahim Ag Alhabib brought a desert blues that tied to Psycho better than one might’ve ever expected. With acoustic and electric guitars, bass and deep-running vocal arrangements, dancing on stage — some dancing in the crowd too — and video of them on huge screens on either side, it was no less of a production in terms of lighting and staging than Church of Misery or DVNE had been, but the soothing vibe and ebbs and flows in the music made it a total standout. They were another one I was going to stay for a bit and then wander off and find some more coffee, but I was hooked. They could’ve played twice as long and I don’t think I would’ve moved. Their set felt like a gift and on a day that wasn’t exactly hurting for highlights anyhow, they were something truly special to behold. Their 2017 album, Elwan, was recorded in the California desert and has quickly made its way to the front of my must-purchase line.

Boris

Boris (Photo by JJ Koczan)

In their 25-plus years, enough wax poetry has been written in honor of Japanese noise and heavy rock innovators, droners, experimentalists, J-poppers and anything-else-they-want-to-be-that-day Boris that even attempting to talk about their set feels superfluous. I’d only be echoing a chorus of praise that’s resounded for the last two decades. Suffice it to say, they’re masters at what they do. Individually and collectively, guitarist Wata, drummer Atsuo and guitarist/bassist Takeshi are relentless in their forward progression, and though most of what they played after a drifting, slower opening came from the Heavy Rocks and Pink-style, the wash of noise and over-the-top push were never far off. Their 2017 album, Dear (review here), was a stunning glimpse at where they’ve been in their time and where they might still go, and bathed in fog on the Joint stage, they captured much the same feel in celebrating their past while continuing to move ahead toward something new. I don’t know if it’s possible for Boris to be underrated, but the chemistry between them on stage — whether it’s Atsuo shouting into his headset mic to raise the energy level or Wata scorching out another solo or Takeshi switching from his rhythm guitar neck to his bass neck and hurling out blistering low end runs — is among the most pivotal aspects of what they do, and as much as they’ve done to push heavy rock to multiple avenues over their tenure, they’ve only gotten to be a more potent force live.

High on Fire

High on Fire (Photo by JJ Koczan)

If a single person could embody what Psycho Las Vegas is, it might be Matt Pike. The High on Fire frontman and Sleep guitarist has played all three editions of this festival in some form or other — time for a Kalas reunion? — and he, bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Des Kensel came out like the statesmen they are; one of the most crucial bands not just in underground heavy, but in the wider sphere of metal. Hugely influential, with a maddening signature gallop and tales of war and bludgeonry to delight the downtrodden of spirit. Their upcoming LP, Electric Messiah, marks the third collaboration between the trio and producer Kurt Ballou, and while they didn’t play anything from it, they did give due representation to 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) in “The Black Plot,” “Carcosa” and “Slave the Hive,”  and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here) with “Fertile Green” and “Serums of Laio,” while older works like 2007’s Death is This Communion (discussed here) and 2005’s Blessed Black Wings (discussed here) made their presence felt with cuts like “Rumors of War” and “Sons of Thunder.” I’d argue they were the night’s headliners even before Witchcraft dropped off, but either way, High on Fire were more than up to the occasion, and with “Blood from Zion” from 2000’s The Art of Self-Defense late in the set, they brought together past and present in a way that was every bit the culmination of the evening. There was still plenty more Psycho after them, but no doubt High on Fire left their mark on the night and all who assembled to see them.

I don’t know if you saw it, but on the social medias I posted a picture of The Pecan and asked if anyone could turn it into the cover of Vol. 4 by Black Sabbath. Several came in, which was hugely appreciated, and among them was this one from Slevin, which I subsequently spent the rest of the night staring at because it’s so friggin’ awesome. If you need me, I’ll be meme-ing my baby. Next up, his head on Jean-Luc Picard’s body. It will happen.

Anyway, I came back to the room after the show and sorted pictures and whatnot and then crashed out pretty soon thereafter to get up early and write. My alarm was set for six and I woke up a bit before five and decided to roll with it. Psycho starts an hour later today, but is another super-busy day, so I’m going to get some more rest in preparation for that. I may or may not check in again before that review goes up, depends on time, but there are more pics after the jump here and I appreciate you reading and taking time to have a look if you do.

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Psycho Las Vegas 2018 Reveals Lineup; Dimmu Borgir, Hellacopters, Godflesh, Witchcraft and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Psycho Las Vegas 2018 logo

It’s only taken a few years for Psycho Las Vegas to establish itself as the premier underground festival in the US. All well and good. With 2018’s lineup, though, it’s time to start thinking of Psycho among the best in the world.

Sounds like too much? Consider Godflesh and Dimmu Borgir sharing a stage, both for exclusive West Coast appearances. Think of Sweden’s Witchcraft playing one of the two shows they’ll do in the US at Psycho, and ditto that for Japanese riff-madmen Church of Misery. Think of US exclusives from Lee Dorrian’s With the Dead, or Lucifer, whose Johanna Sadonis will also DJ the Center Bar. The commitment to up and coming underground acts local, domestic and foreign like Temple of Void, King Buffalo, Dreadnought, The Munsens and DVNE. Picture yourself watching Wolves in the Throne Room headline a pre-fest pool party with Elder, Young and in the Way, Dengue Fever, Fireball Ministry and Toke.

2018 is the year Psycho Las Vegas outclasses even itself and pushes further than it ever has in terms of stylistic reach (Integrity walks by and waves… at Boris) and the sheer power of its construction. If you’re looking for the future, you’ll find it in scumbag paradise.

Here’s the lineup:

Psycho Las Vegas 2018 poster

Psycho Las Vegas 2018

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas
4455 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, Nevada 89169

Tickets: https://www.vivapsycho.com/pages/tickets

PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2018 lineup:
DIMMU BORGIR (west of chicago exclusive)
HELLACOPTERS (one of two shows to be played in the USA in 2018)
SUNN 0)))
GODFLESH (west of chicago exclusive)
WITCHCRAFT (one of two shows to be played in the USA in 2018)
ENSLAVED
AMERICAN NIGHTMARE
HIGH ON FIRE
ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT
RED FANG
ZAKK SABBATH
CHURCH OF MISERY (usa exclusive 2018 with exception to one other show in San Diego)
TINARIWEN
GOBLIN
CKY
VENOM INC
EYEHATEGOD
VOIVOD
BORIS
COVEN
INTEGRITY
PALLBEARER
WITH THE DEAD (USA exclusive 2018)
MONOLORD
LUCIFER (USA exclusive 2018)
ACID WITCH
SURVIVE
DOPETHRONE
BIG BUSINESS
UNEARTHLY TRANCE
MUTOID MAN
TODAY IS THE DAY
HELMS ALEE
SPIRIT ADRIFT
BATUSHKA
PRIMITIVE MAN
DVNE
ALL PIGS MUST DIE
EIGHT BELLS
WORMWITCH
INDIAN
NECROT
HOMEWRECKER
BRAIN TENTACLES
CLOAK
BLACK MARE
MAGIC SWORD
UADA
TEMPLE OF VOID
DREADNOUGHT
WOLVHAMMER
ASEETHE
DISASTROID
FORMING THE VOID
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS
GHASTLY SOUND
HOWLING GIANT
KING BUFFALO
NIGHT HORSE
THE MUNSENS
GLAARE

Paradise Pool Pre Party
August 16th

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
ELDER
YOUNG AND IN THE WAY
DENGUE FEVER
FIREBALL MINISTRY
TOKE

Center Bar DJ’s
Andrew W.K.
Nicke Andersson (Entombed/Hellacopters)
Johanna Sadonis (Lucifer)

https://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas/
https://www.facebook.com/events/125340824913552/
http://vivapsycho.com

High on Fire, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2016

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Temple of Void Announce New Album Lords of Death

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

temple of void

Hell yes. If nothing else, we can be sure Detroit’s Temple of Void know how to name a record. That was something the death-doom extremists proved with their 2014 debut, Of Terror and the Supernatural (review here), and it seems to be affirmed with the reveal of their follow-up sophomore outing, Lords of Death. Just try to say that out loud without turning one of your hands into a doom claw. Can’t be done. It’s impossible.

Been digging the viciousness these guys roll out since their Demo MMXIII (review here) hit like a full-stack falling on my head, and though I know their kind of ultra-dark, ultra-plodding, ultra-nastiness isn’t everybody’s cup of poisonous tea, they’ve done it so well to-date that I’ve been unable to hear anything in what they do other than righteousness. I didn’t know they’d have a new album out this year, but I’m definitely looking forward to it now.

And you vinyl types will want to get a load of this cover art too. It, the Lords of Death — claw! — tracklisting and more background info come courtesy of the PR wire:

temple-of-void-lords-of-death

TEMPLE OF VOID reveal cover art, tracklisting for new SHADOW KINGDOM album

Today, Shadow Kingdom Records reveals the cover art and tracklisting for Temple of Void’s highly anticipated second album, Lords of Death. Ever aptly titled, Lords of Death is an insanely, irrevocably MASSIVE slab of doom-DEATH, and the album by which Temple of Void will rightfully take their seat at the throne. Nearly three years in the making, Lords of Death is an experience like no other, and will surely go down as one of the top metal albums of 2017.

Temple of Void is an uncompromising collaboration from the depths of Detroit, Michigan. Comprising five musicians who have put in decades of time in the Detroit underground, Temple of Void entered this world with singular focus and methodical execution from the start. Temple of Void harkens back to the somber sound of early European doom, while channeling the energy and devastation of old-school American death metal. But Temple of Void is far more than the sum of its parts: Temple of Void destroys.

Temple of Void self-released their first demo in 2013. Four weeks later, they had signed to four different record labels to release Demo MMXIII and their imminent debut album across the world. The demo was met with staggering support from the underground, but just over a year later, Temple of Void unleashed their debut album, Of Terror and the Supernatural, via Saw Her Ghost Records for the double-LP vinyl version and on CD through Rain Without End Records. The day it was released, Shadow Kingdom contacted the band and requested dibs on re-releasing the album to a worldwide audience. Unleashed internationally in September 2015, the slab of barbarity otherwise known as Of Terror and the Supernatural quickly became a critically acclaimed cult hit amongst the press and those looking for the darkest, dirtiest doom-death.

But, with the bar set so high by that debut album, Temple of Void swagger forth to eclipse that achievement and soundly obliterate any comparisons with Lords of Death. A prescient title if there ever was one, Lords of Death casts Temple of Void in a slightly newer light: whilst unmistakably Temple of Void, this is the sound of the band shorn of any fat and fully representing the powerful, punishing experience of the band in a live setting. It’s still signature Temple of Void, to be sure, but Lords of Death emits an enviable amount of focus and forward momentum, with the band largely ditching the doomier tropes in favor of ones reflective of their all-consuming onstage power. Instead, Temple of Void emphasized the deathlier aspects of their debut, but pumped them full of addicting, headbanging energy. Put another way, whereas Of Terror and the Supernatural was doom with death metal, Lords of Death is death metal with doom. Fittingly, the production here is utterly CRUSHING, and once again recorded at Mount Doom in Detroit.

Completed by appropriately morbid artwork by Paolo Girardi, Lords of Death is that Rubicon-crossing moment where a band becomes masters. Recommended for fans of Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Grave, Asphyx, Edge of Sanity, Obituary, Hooded Menace, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, and the early works of Paradise Lost, Morbid Angel, and Opeth – behold the new lords of death, Temple of Void!

“An uncompromising record from the band that made one of the very best, if not THE best death/doom debut in last five years or so. Weighty death metal groove and suffocating, gloomy atmosphere in just the right mix together. Album-of-the-year material!” – Markus Makkonen (Hooded Menace / Sadistik Forest)

Release date, first track, and preorder info to be revealed shortly. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Temple of Void’s Lords of Death
1. The Charnel Unearthing
2. Wretched Banquet
A Watery Internment
3. The Hidden Fiend
4. An Ominous Journey
5. The Gift
6. Graven Desires
7. Deceiver in the Shadows

www.facebook.com/templeofvoid
www.templeofvoid.bandcamp.com
www.shadowkingdomrecords.com
www.facebook.com/shadowkingdomrecords

Temple of Void, Of Terror and the Supernatural (2014)

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Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2016 Completes Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

shadow woods metal fest 2016 header

Set for Sept. 15-18 in White Hall, Maryland, Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2016 has completed its lineup. The fest runs a gamut of extremity from blackened noise to rolling stoner grooves and covers copious ground between in death metal, doom, drone and heavy rock, and the final nine acts announced only add to its breadth. This is the second year for Shadow Woods Metal Fest, and very clearly fest organizer Mary Spiro is staying true to the vision of a backwoods vibe, exploring the connection between a natural setting and various incarnations of heaviness. To be blunt, I don’t know all these bands and they’re not all really in my sphere so much as I have one, but I’d love to check this out anyway, just for the vibe of it.

Spiro works hard as hell on putting this together. Nothing but respect. Tickets are on sale now.

From the PR wire:

shadow woods metal fest 2016

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST: Complete 2016 Lineup For East Coast Open-Air Metal Fest Announced; Tickets Available + Trailers Posted

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST, the Mid-Atlantic’s open-air camping metal party, is pleased to announce the complete lineup for the 2016 festival, which runs from Thursday, September 15th through Sunday, September 18th at Camp Hidden Valley, in White Hall, Maryland. This year, forty metal bands, representing diverse subgenres, will terrorize three stages in the woodlands of The Old Line State at the same summer camp where the fest was held last year.

Highlights of this year’s installment include a set by the mysterious GHOST BATH from North Dakota who have never performed live until this year, will be playing the event. The festival welcomes their first Canadian act to this year’s event with Calgary’s NUMENOREAN, and Baltimore’s trippy duo DARSOMBRA will headline Thursday night. Brooklyn’s post black metal pillagers TOMBS, Mongolian folk metal warriors TENGGER CAVALRY, Detroit’s horror-death conjurers ACID WITCH, and a special reunion performance from Philly’s blackened doom two-piece SADGIQACEA will ignite the fires Friday night. Black-thrash alchemists BLOOD STORM, Chicago’s mystic black metal kings EMPYREUS (featuring members of Kommandant) and the doom metal godfather SCOTT “WINO” WEINRICH and friends from Western Maryland’s FAITH IN JANE will headline Saturday night. The fest will close with the return of the black metal-blues shredders ZUD from Maine.

“We are honored and humbled that all these great acts have agreed to play our little gathering in the woods,” says festival founder Mary Spiro of Metallomusikum.com/Shadow Woods Productions LLC. “Our team has worked diligently to bring these groups to our unique performance environment, and we cannot wait to see how the weekend unfolds. This lineup stays true to the fest’s mission of showcasing the bands that metal fans ought to be seeing and hearing, not simply the bands that everyone has already seen somewhere else.”

This year’s lineup also boasts several acts that have never performed on the East Coast, such as the blackened space-rock pair LOTUS THIEF from San Francisco, which features Otrebor of Botanist on drums, and Colorado’s HELLEBORUS, powered by the Houseman brothers (Akhenaten; ex-Execration), who specialize in psychedelic black metal tinged with sexual mysticism. The complete lineup (listed below) surpasses the ferocity of the fest’s inaugural installment in both diversity and scope of metal styles.

Grimoire Records, the Baltimore-based hybrid recording and distribution label founded in February 2013, has become a co-producer with Shadow Woods Productions, LLC, and has several bands featured throughout the weekend, including CORPSE LIGHT, GENEVIEVE, MYOPIC, and TORRID HUSK.

Attendees will be able to munch of a plethora of food choices throughout the weekend including the return of the high octane Zeke’s Coffee and vegan selections from Headbangin’ Hotdogs, among several others. Jewelry, knitted-wear, art, CDs, vinyl, t-shirts and more will be on sale in the festival’s long hall. Yoga sessions will again be held each morning for those willing to brave a downward dog with a hangover. Other workshops are to be announced. The fest is BYOB and is 21 and up only. Those interested in vending, teaching a free workshop or who have specific questions should send an email with a description of your products and a website link to contact@shadowwoodsmetalfest.com

Weekend Passes for SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST are available for $130 at BrownPaperTickets.com. Tent camping is included with the weekend pass. People who want to reserve cabin beds can do so for an additional $20 for the duration of the fest. Only 400 weekend passes will be available and about one-third have sold so far. A limited number of day passes will go on sale in August.

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST 2016 Complete Lineup:
A SOUND OF THUNDER (DC) **traditional old-school heavy metal
ATHAME (MD/WV) **black
AT THE GRAVES (MD) **solo doom-sludge
ACID WITCH (Detroit) **horror death
BLOOD STORM (PA/TX) **black thrash
BOUND BY THE GRAVE (Baltimore) *death
CEMETERY FILTH (TN) ** death
CEMETERY PISS (Baltimore) **black
COFFIN DUST (Philadelphia) **death
CORPSE LIGHT (Baltimore) *doom
DARSOMBRA (MD) **psychedelic drone
DESTROYER OF LIGHT (Austin, TX) **sludge
EMPYREUS (Chicago) **black
FAITH IN JANE FEATURING WINO (MD) ** doom trio joined by the godfather of the sound
GENEVIEVE (MD) **experimental black
GHOST BATH (ND) **suicidal depressive black
GRAVE GNOSIS (St. Petersburg, FL) **black
HAXEN (Rhode Island) **black
HELGAMITE (VA) **doom/stoner/sludge
HELLEBORUS (Manitou Springs, CO) **black
HERON (NC) **black
HORSESKULL (NC) **sludge/doom
LOTUS THIEF (CA) **blackened space rock
MYOPIC (DC) **death/doom
NUMENOREAN (Calgary, AB) **post-black
SACRIFICIAL BLOOD (NJ) **thrash death
SADGIQACEA (Philadelphia) **doom/sludge/black
SADISTIC VISION (PA/NC) **death
SAPREMIA (New Jersey) **death
SURGEON (Philadelphia) **progressive
TELOCH VOVIN (NY) **black
TEMPLE OF VOID (Detroit) **doom
TENGGER CAVALRY (NY/CHINA) ** Mongolian folk
T.O.M.B. (Philadelphia) **ritual noise
TOMBS (Brooklyn) ** black/post-metal
TORRID HUSK (WV) **depressive/melodic black
VORATOR (Richmond) **death/thrash
WIZARD EYE (PA) **doom
XEUKATRE (Baltimore) **black
ZUD (Maine) ** black

http://shadowwoods2016.bpt.me/
http://www.shadowwoodsmetalfest.com
http://www.facebook.com/shadowwoodsmetalfest
https://www.facebook.com/events/1690461561167442/

Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2016 promo

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Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2016: Initial Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 10th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

After a successful first installment last year, Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2016 bursts out of the gate with 20-plus bands for what’s still being touted as its initial lineup — i.e., there’s more to come. Seems reasonable. Now that they’ve shown it can happen without the universe collapsing or the ultra-oppressive Federal Forestry Service (note: I have no idea if that’s a real thing) clamping down hard on longhair campers, it seems only fair to expect the event to grow both in actual scope and reputation.

The first group of acts spans a range from extreme metal to psychedelic heavy rock, but a few highlights thus far include Maryland dronecasters Darsombra, Philly riff-rollers Wizard Eye, and MD heavy rockers Faith in Jane, who’ll team up with Scott “Wino” Weinrich himself for a special set. There have been murmurings of those two parties jamming for a little bit now, and you can see video of them doing just that from this past weekend below. It ain’t Wino Wednesday, exactly, but it’s cool to watch anyway.

Also included are Destroyer of Light from Austin, Temple of Void from Michigan and a whole bunch of others put together by fest-organizer Mary Spiro, who very clearly knows what she’s doing:

shadow woods metal fest 2016

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST, the Mid-Atlantic’s open-air camping metal party, will once again terrorize the woodlands of central Maryland this fall with three days of more than thirty bands from diverse metal genres and regions. The 2016 festival runs from Thursday, September 15th through Sunday, September 18th at Camp Hidden Valley, in White Hall, Maryland, the same location where the maiden edition of the fest was held last year.

Organizers of SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST began announcing performers in mid-January and have been carefully curating this year’s lineup. “The response from performers and attendees to the 2015 event was overwhelmingly positive with many people telling me it was the best weekend of their lives!” says festival founder Mary Spiro of Metallomusikum.com/Shadow Woods Productions LLC. “We are humbled and frankly completely surprised by the outpouring of praise for the fest. There has been enormous interest from the metal community for certain bands to perform. Our team is taking its time to make sure the lineup matches our attendee’s expectations and sets us apart from other fests. We also want each day to have flow. It’s a balancing act.”

Spiro says that when all is said and done, the final lineup will surpass the ferocity of the inaugural installment. As of February 9th, twenty-one bands have been announced, including horror death mongers Acid Witch, death thrashers Coffin Dust, underground black metal kings Blood Storm, doom merchants Wizard Eye, psychedelic black metal gurus Helleborus, and Maryland doom trio Faith In Jane joins forces with the genre’s godfather Scott “Wino” Weinrich (The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Saint Vitus) for an exclusive SWMF performance, with much more to be announced.

Early Bird Weekend Passes for SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST go on sale at noon EST, February 12th for $115 on BrownPaperTickets.com.

Tent camping is included with the weekend pass. People who want to reserve cabin beds can do so for an additional $20 for the duration of the fest.

“It could be late Spring before we have the whole lineup in hand,” Spiro said. “It’s taking longer than we anticipated, but we think our patience will be rewarded, and festival goers will be really pleased with the bands yet to be announced.”

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST 2016 Confirmed Lineup:
A SOUND OF THUNDER (DC) **traditional old-school heavy metal
ACID WITCH (Detroit) **horror death
BLOOD STORM (PA/TX) **black thrash
BOUND BY THE GRAVE (Baltimore) *death
CEMETERY PISS (Baltimore) **black
COFFIN DUST (Philadelphia) **death
CORPSE LIGHT (Baltimore) *doom
DARSOMBRA (MD) **metal drone
DESTROYER OF LIGHT (Austin, TX) **sludge
EMPYREUS(Chicago) **black
FAITH IN JANE FEATURING WINO (MD) ** doom trio joined by the godfather of the sound
GENEVIEVE (MD) **experimental black
GRAVE GNOSIS (St. Petersburg, FL) **black
HAXEN (Rhode Island) **black
HELLEBORUS (Manitou Springs, CO) **black
MYOPIC (DC) **death/doom
SAPREMIA (New Jersey) **death
TELOCH VOVIN (NY) **black
TEMPLE OF VOID (Detroit) **doom
WIZARD EYE (PA) **doom
XEUKATRE (Baltimore) **black
MANY MORE BANDS YET TO BE ANNOUNCED

http://www.shadowwoodsmetalfest.com
http://www.facebook.com/shadowwoodsmetalfest

Faith in Jane & Wino, Live at Cafe Nola, Frederick, Maryland, Feb. 7, 2016

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Temple of Void Sign to Shadow Kingdom Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 19th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

temple of void

Yours truly rated Temple of Void‘s 2014 lurker Of Terror and the Supernatural (review here) as one of the best debuts of the year, so you’ll pardon me if I think it’s a good thing it’s getting another look. The record’s second go around will come in Sept. courtesy of Shadow Kingdom, for whom it was also recently announced that Temple of Void would play at their Shadow Kingdom Riot fest.

That gig is on Sept. 3, and the album is reissued on Sept. 4 — you’d almost swear these things were planned out ahead of time — so it seems to me like the Shadow Kingdom Riot will turn into a de-facto-if-not-officially-announced-as-such release party for Of Terror and the Supernatural, which was originally released by Saw Her Ghost and Rain without End Records, its pile of victims continuing to grow.

Or, as the PR wire puts it:

temple of void of terror and the supernatural

TEMPLE OF VOID Signs to Shadow Kingdom Records

Detroit Death-Doom Despots to See Debut LP, ‘Of Terror and the Supernatural’ Re-issued September 4

Detroit death-doom band TEMPLE OF VOID has signed to underground independent label Shadow Kingdom Records. The band’s first order of business with its new label will be a re-issue of the group’s debut album, Of Terror and the Supernatural, a pulverizing record that steamrolls via a morbid, high-fidelity death metal assault. The album, which has been called, “powerful and overwhelming like thick fog in an old graveyard” will see a September 4 release through Shadow Kingdom, complete with eerie cover art by legendary science fiction and fantasy artist Bruce Pennington.

Wielding a weighty, deafening power that has been called “a right balance of creeping lurch and extreme plunder”, TEMPLE OF VOID creates crushing metal that will appeal to fans of Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Dismember, Hooded Menace, Incantation and (old) Paradise Lost. The band’s sound combines the slow tempos and depressive moods of doom metal with the subhuman vocals and double kick drumming of classic death metal. Check out the video for TEMPLE OF VOID’s “Savage Howl” now at this location.

TEMPLE OF VOID will perform as one of the featured acts at the just-announced Shadow Kingdom Riot, set to take place on September 3 at Cleveland’s Agora Ballroom. The evening will showcase a diverse lineup from Shadow Kingdom Records’s ever-growing roster, and will see TEMPLE OF VOID share the stage along with now-labelmates Venomous Maximus, Iron Man and more. For full details, visit the show’s Facebook event page HERE.

Track listing:
1.) The Embalmer’s Art
2.) Savage Howl
3.) Beyond the Ultimate
4.) Invocation of Demise
5.) To Carry this Corpse Evermore
6.) Rot in Solitude
7.) Exanimate Gaze
8.) Bargain in Death

Tour dates:
June 18 Pittsburgh, PA The Smiling Moose (w/ Cemetery Filth, Abysme)
June 19 Philadelphia, PA Millcreek Tavern (w/ Crypt Sermon)
June 20 Bayonne, NJ Lot 13 Longbar (w/ Morpheus Descends, Malignancy, etc.)

facebook.com/templeofvoid
http://templeofvoid.bandcamp.com/
shadowkingdomrecords.com/

Temple of Void, “Savage Howl” official video

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Shadow Kingdom Records Announces Lineup for ‘Shadow Kingdom Riot’ Fest

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

shadow kingdom records logo

In conjunction with Hells Headbangers and its Hells HeadbashShadow Kingdom Records has announced the inaugural Shadow Kingdom Riot for Sept. 3 at the Agora in Cleveland. Night Magic, which is an extension of defunct doomers Hour of 13, will play, as well as TombstalkerCovenIron ManVenomous Maximus and Temple of Void on a bill thoroughly doomed and fitting the label’s passion for underground heavy and classic metal. They’re saying it’ll be an annual thing, and if that turns out to be the case, Shadow Kingdom are already giving themselves something tough to outdo for a one-night lineup.

The PR wire has knowledge it wants to share:

shadow kingdom riot

Shadow Kingdom Records Announces First Annual ‘Shadow Kingdom Riot’ Showcase

Venomous Maximus to Headline Raucous Lineup of Diverse Underground Metal September 3 in Cleveland

Acclaimed, independent underground heavy metal label SHADOW KINGDOM RECORDS is proud to announce its first label showcase, set to take place September 3, 2015 at Cleveland, Ohio’s Agora Ballroom. Dubbed the Shadow Kingdom Riot, the special event will spotlight the label’s eclectic roster of true heavy metal acts, from new signings — such as VENOMOUS MAXIMUS and TOMBSTALKER — to bands that date back to the label’s launch in 2007, like Maryland’s heralded IRON MAN.

Tickets for the Shadow Kingdom Riot are $15 and are on sale now at this location. The showcase is presented in part with Shadow Kingdom’s sister label, Hells Headbangers and that label’s second 3-day annual anniversary fest, Hells Headbash (see details here), slated for September 4-6, also at the Agora Ballroom. Metal fans who purchase a 3 day pass to the Hell’s Headbash event will receive FREE admission to the Shadow Kingdom Riot show on September 3, as part of the package.

The Shadow Kingdom Riot lineup and schedule will feature the following Shadow Kingdom Records artists, performing as follows:

6 PM: TOMBSTALKER (Black/Death Metal)
7 PM: TEMPLE OF VOID (Doom / Death Metal)
8 PM: COVEN (Classic Heavy / Doom Metal)
9 PM: NIGHT MAGIC (aka HOUR OF 13 / Doom Metal)
10 PM: IRON MAN (Doom Metal)
11 PM: VENOMOUS MAXIMUS (Dark Heavy Metal)

For breaking news and updates on the Shadow Kingdom Riot, visit the show’s Facebook event page HERE: https://www.facebook.com/events/822052027886344/

https://www.facebook.com/ShadowKingdomRecords
http://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 10 Debut Albums of 2014

Posted in Features on December 26th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Dudley-Street,-Seven-Dials.-Gustave-Doré-(1832-83) top 10

Please note: These are not the results of the Readers Poll. That’s still going on. Please feel free to submit your list.

Making and releasing a first full-length album is a special moment in the life of any band, and that’s why I wanted to single out some of the best debuts of the year. I’ve never done this before, and so maybe with a top 10 I’m testing the waters a bit, but it seemed a worthwhile project anyway. It was a long (inner) debate about whether or not to include EPs and singles here too, but in the end, it just seemed to work better with albums.

Not to take anything away from shorter releases, but putting out a debut EP is much different than a debut LP. First of all, a debut LP can come after several EPs or singles or demos or whatever and still be considered first. What a first album says to the listener is, “Okay, we’ve come this far and we’re ready to take this step.” Some bands, once they start putting out albums, never go back to EPs. Others who’ve been around for 30 years still release demos every now and then, but even so, a group only ever gets one crack at their first album, and it can be one of the most important things we ever do.

Compared to how many come out any given month, year, century, etc., very few debut long-players ever wind up being classics, and who knows what the future might hold for any of these acts on this list, but that not knowing and that excitement are part of the fun.

Let’s get to it:

the-well-samsara

The Top 10 Debut Albums of 2014

1. The Well, Samsara
2. The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass
3. Spidergawd, Spidergawd
4. Atavismo, Desintegración
5. Blues Pills, Blues Pills
6. Steak, Slab City
7. Comet Control, Comet Control
8. Elephant Tree, Theia
9. Black Moon Circle, Black Moon Circle
10. Temple of Void, Of Terror and the Supernatural

A couple honorable mentions. First to Valley of the Sun‘s Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk, which I still didn’t know what to do with the release date for. Officially 2014, but kinda released in 2013 too. I was back and forth on it. Also Wasted Theory‘s burly debut, Monolord‘s Empress Rising, Child‘s Child, the Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart sprawling one-song LP from Sylvaine.

Some notes: Actual time spent listening played a big role in the structuring of this list. More so than the Top 30 of 2014, I would say. The Well‘s Samsara and the self-titled debut from The Golden Grass featured pretty high on that list as well, and that’s because both of them were records that I continually went back to and found satisfying after they came out. In both bands I think there’s significant stylistic potential, but more importantly, they both came out of the gate with their mission solidified and ready to roll.

With Spidergawd‘s Spidergawd, the progressive take on classic heavy rock boogie was blinding, but righteous. Their second album is due early next year on Stickman and I’ll have more on it to come in the weeks ahead. Atavismo‘s Desintegración hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. Just four songs, but the atmosphere was gorgeous enough that after listening I went back and asked the band if I could host a stream in hopes that more people would hear it. Fortunately for anyone who listened, they were kind enough to comply.

On sheer impact alone, I think Blues Pills‘ Blues Pills warrants inclusion on this list, but in my own listening, I put on the top four so much more often that I couldn’t really justify placing it any higher. But in terms of a first album coming out and really propelling a band to the next level, I think for a lot of people it’s probably the debut of the year. Fair enough. Steak‘s Slab City found the London four-piece physically and stylistically right in the heart of the California desert and their passion for that place and its sound came across heartfelt on the recording, which only heightened the appeal.

And while I’m still sorry to see Quest for Fire go, the debut from offshoot Comet Control helped ease that sorrow neatly with a blend of driving heavier space rock and psychedelic vibing. Cool album, bodes well. You could say the same for Elephant Tree‘s Theia, I suppose. Their take on psychedelia melded with screamy sludge successfully where I think a lot of bands would’ve fallen flat trying the same thing, and that’s definitely something noteworthy in an initial offering, particularly one not preceded by an EP or other kind of release.

To round things out, two very different records. Black Moon Circle‘s self-titled took a popular stylistic course — melding heavy rock and psychedelic jamming — and showed the trio beginning to make it their own. That’s something I hope will continue on their second outing, which, like that of Spidergawd, is coming on quick early in 2015. And finally, Temple of Void‘s extreme, deathly take on doom courted genres smoothly and delivered its punishment with efficiency while holding together a coherent atmosphere of darkness and aggression. It was a sadistic joy to behold.

If you missed it, there were a couple debuts included on the Top 20 Short Releases of 2014 list as well — Gold & SilverWrenDeath Alley, and so on — so if you’re looking for more of that kind of thing, you don’t have to look too far. I hope if there was a debut album this year that particularly caught your attention, you’ll let me know in the comments.

 

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