Queensrÿche ticket give away

Queensryche at the 9:30 Club

Here’s another ticket give away for readers of DCHeavyMetal.com! This time you can win a pair of tickets to see the old school power prog metal band Queensrÿche play the 9:30 Club on Tuesday 9 August 2011 with opening act The Voodoos. To enter just tell me what song you’d like to hear Queensryche play from their albums in the 80s. If you don’t know any of their songs from back then, you can see their discography here (just click an album title to see it’s track listing). I’ll randomly select a winner to get the tickets from all eligible entries at 5pm EST on Friday August 5th 2011. Be sure to use a valid email address you check regularly when you enter (the email address does not have to be in the post itself) so that I can contact you if you win. If the winner does not respond within 24 hours I’ll pick another winner at 5pm the next day. And don’t worry, I won’t put your email on any lists or spam you, I hate that crap too. Don’t be a jerk and enter multiple times or I’ll disqualify all your entries. If you just can’t wait to get your tickets or the contest is already over when you read this, they’re available from Ticket Fly for $35 each here.

Queensrÿche is a progressive metal band from Washington state and this is their Washington DC area stop on their 30th Anniversary Tour. The band still consists of four of the original five members, so you can bet they’ll be playing some of their old material for this anniversary tour. Unlike many bands from the 80s, they weren’t forgotten once the grunge wave hit in the early 90s because these guys were actually writing music with some substance to it. The fact they’re playing large venues like the 9:30 Club shows that the band still has a strong following, even after all this time. They just finished a string of gigs in Europe opening for Judas Priest on their farewell tour and now they’re coming to the states to headline. Enter the contest in the comments below then check out this recent backstage video interview with Queensrÿche singer Geoff Tate.

The History Of Witch-Hunt

Well since there aren’t any shows I’ll be going to this week for me to review, I wanted to at least write about SOMETHING here and DCHeavyMetal.com reader James gave me the idea of talking about one of the local bands in the area. Well, I didn’t want to deal with picking favorites, so I’ve decided to write a sort of local heavy metal history lesson about a now broken up band from Northern Virginia, Witch-Hunt. Witch-Hunt was a black metal band that formed in 1992, put out a few demos and a couple of full lengths and eventually broke up in 2004. I really didn’t know who they were until an old friend of mine, Dave Schmidt, took over vocal duties for them. I started looking into their back catalog then and digging up their history.

In the summer of 1992 the brothers Brian and Ben Straight formed Witch-Hunt Witch-Hunt - Darkened Salvationand put out three demos over the next couple years, First Kill, Born Dead and Fearless. I’ve never heard these so I can’t really comment on their sound. However, it was in 1994 when Erik Sayenga moved up to Northern Virginia from Florida and began playing with the band as the bass player (even though he was a drummer). This line up put out the demo Darkened Salvation in 1994 which started to get them noticed in the area as well as in the international underground tape trading scene. Again, I haven’t been able to get my hands on a copy of this so I don’t really know what it sounds like. During this early period in the band’s life they were playing local gigs, mostly at the Teen Hut and a place in Dumfries, Virginia called Tiki Fala.

After releasing the demos they put out their first album, Prophecies Of A Great Plague in 1996 on X-Rated Records. By this point Ben had moved and thus left the band and Erik took over the drums. Seth Newton was added to the line up to play additional guitars and also keyboards. The total playing time of Prophecies Of A Great Plague was under 25 minutes long so it’s really more of an EP. A few of the songs are worth hearing, Witch-Hunt - Prophecies Of A Great Plagueparticularly the lead off track Fragments and the track A World Lit Only By Fire. The album’s production is primitive but still listenable. You couldn’t just download Pro Tools from the Pirate Bay back in those days, but there really aren’t any mid-nineties American black metal albums that had stellar recording quality. At that point the band kept it to a fairly slow tempo for black metal. This recording is closer in pace to something like the first two Dimmu Borgir albums (but without keyboards dominating the other instruments) than say Marduk or Mayhem. Hell, this album would probably be called blackened melodic death metal these days. They started playing shows along the east coast until the band went on hold for a little while when Erik Sayenga joined Dying Fetus as the touring drummer and went around the US with them. Upon his return Brian Straight decided to quit the band to pursue a professional career outside of music, leaving Seth Newton to take over vocals and all instruments other than the drums.

This line up, really just Seth and Erik, wrote and recorded nine new Erik Sayenga and Seth Newton of Witch-Huntsongs that they finally released as Souls Enshrouded Fire in 2000, also on X-Rated. This album is quite a step up from Prophecies Of A Great Plague in both production and song writing. The band picked up the pace considerably on this album. They added more keyboards to the mix as well as some guest female vocal parts on a couple songs. The guest vocalist is Dawn Desireé (from Rain Fell Within) and her performance on the song Enshrouded is as excellent as you’d expect from someone who I would call the best female vocalist to ever play Witch-Hunt - Souls Enshrouded Firein a metal band in this area. Her haunting voice makes the track my favorite on the album. Also worth hearing a few times are the songs Ablaze Thy Majestic Kingdom as well as And The Sun Fell Forever, just some solid local old school black metal there. The album as a whole has a much stronger European metal influence in the sound and is one of my favorite black metal releases from the DC area. After this release the band added Richard Johnson on vocals and guitarist Eric Buchannan as well as a guy that I only know of as “Phil” on bass. They started playing more shows with this line up and they severed ties with X-Rated around this time as well.

After drummer Kevin Talley, along with Jason Netherton and Sparky Voyles, quit Dying Fetus to go form Misery Index, Erik Sayenga once again joined Dying Fetus, this time as a full time member. He did a few tours with them and can even be heard drumming on Stop At Nothing, the 2003 full length release by Dying Fetus. During this time Witch-Hunt had several line up changes. Richard and Phil both left the band. My friend Dave Schmidt joined the band on vocals, as well as Fionn Himmel, aka Camulus, who became the new bass player. In 2002 this line up put out a new demo to shop for a new label with. It only had two songs on it but it is by far the fastest and most brutal material the band ever put out. Quite an impressive leap musically compared to their previous releases, though I have to say the mix on the recording isn’t very good. The core of the Witch-Hunt sound is still there, but the songs are faster and yet the band is very tight. This demo allowed them to get booked as the opening act for Polish death metal legends Vader on their European tour in September of 2002. UPDATE: Turns out I got this wrong and this was really Erik touring with Dying Fetus opening for Vader. Do’h!

While the band seemed to be doing better than ever they were suffering from a lot of internal strife. Unfortunately they ended up disbanding in the fall of 2004 due to continuous infighting. Erik Sayenga quit Dying Fetus in 2005 and focused on other projects, including Warthrone. In that band Ghost Storm Eulogy by WarThronehe joined former Witch-Hunt vocalist Richard Johnson and they actually retooled the songs from the Witch-Hunt 2002 demo. These songs were released on the first Warthrone album, titled Ghost Storm Eulogy. The band has since moved to Florida and I haven’t really heard anything from them since. Erik also played in a band called Mordichrist with Chaq Mol of Dark Funeral. It’s a pretty interesting project that is worth checking out, sort of black/sludge/doom with female vox. Witch-Hunt bass player Camulus went on to do his own thing in a solo project also called Camulus (changed name to Fuamnach at some point) as well as playing with the folk metal band Andsvara. My friend Dave, who is only on Witch-Hunt’s final recording, went on to play in several other Wolfsschanze - Dave is centerlocal metal bands, notably Bethledeign, Black Horizon and as one of the two founding members of Wolfsschanze. Now he’s a machine gunner in the US Army. Brian Straight apparently now lives in Colombia and I found a blog post of his from about a year ago that was very useful in researching this blog post. I’m not sure what happened to the other members of Witch-Hunt. Since Witch-Hunt broke up before the days where every band had a MySpace page you won’t find them there. They used to post some of their songs for free download, though their website is long gone now. So if you’d like to hear them I’ve taken the liberty of uploading what material of theirs I do have and you can download that here for free. I have also posted all of the old flyers and photographs I’ve found of the band doing research for this post, most from the mid nineties. Some are old pictures of the band with people like Corpsegrinder, Jason Netherton of Misery Index, John Gallagher of Dying Fetus, and even one with the legendary Chuck Schuldinger. You can check all of those out here. If anyone in the band is pissed I’ve posted these let me know and I’ll take them down. If anyone reading this has got any of their demos from before Prophecies Of A Great Plague I’d love to hear them, leave a comment and maybe we can work out a way where I can get a copy. I hope you all enjoyed hearing about this once great band from the DC metal scene, they were too good to just be forgotten so hopefully this post will help keep their music alive.

My First Post On Scene Trek

Since I apparently don’t spend enough of my spare time working on DCHeavyMetal.com I have started writing for another website as well, Scene Trek. My first post, about heavy metal in the middle east, is online and you can read it here. Feedback is welcome so leave a comment there if you’ve got some. And if that isn’t cool enough for you I’ve uploaded a nine song mp3 mix to go along with it that you can download for free here.

The premise behind Scene Trek is something like that of Star Trek, but instead of scouring the universe in search of hot alien babes exotic alien life forms, we’re exploring the diverse worlds of music from every scene we can. This isn’t limited to heavy metal, Scene Trek covers music of every genre, and I’ve signed on as the official metal contributor for the site to make sure the heavier side of music isn’t overlooked. While I love covering the local metal scene and all the metal bands coming through the greater Washington DC area, Scene Trek gives me a chance to write about many of the bands I enjoy from all over the world that might never play here and thus never get to be covered on my blog. It also allows me to talk about bands all together in one scene instead of just the one band from a scene or location that happens to be coming through the area. And because Scene Trek is for all genres of music it also lets me expose some of the bands I really love to people who might not know much about heavy metal at all.

The site was started by Dawn Reed, an old friend of mine who you may have seen as one of the hosts of the recently canceled music video show Strictly Global on the MHz Network, an international cable TV channel. Dawn isn’t one to just quit what she was doing for the show so she started this blog in order to continue to share her knowledge of music from around the world. She is also an editor for the Deli Magazine’s DC website which covers the local music scene here in Washington DC. She’s really good at keeping her ear on the pulse of music from all over the world and I’m honored she is letting me write for Scene Trek. The site is brand new and at least for now none of us are making any money doing this, we just really love music. So if you enjoy checking out new and exotic music from around the world be sure to give Scene Trek a “like” on Facebook or a follow on Twitter and of course check in to the Scene Trek website’s blog regularly. If you know someone who might like the site or even just a specific post on it help us spread the word and let them know about Scene Trek. We want to make the site grow and there’s lots of ideas being bounced around but it’s going to take the help of music fans everywhere to get to where we want to be. I know that not everyone who reads DCHeavyMetal.com is going to care about what I do on Scene Trek, so I won’t post here every time I make a post on there, but I wanted to say something here to let people know where else I am writing. And don’t worry, DCHeavyMetal.com is still my main priority, think of Scene Trek as my side project band, haha. Thank you for reading the entirety of this shameless self promotion, you people that read this site make all the work worth it!

Review of Liturgy gig at DC9

The Brooklyn based black metal band Liturgy played a gig on Tuesday the 5th of July 2011 at DC9 and even though I was running a fever I still headed up there to catch them play. I’m glad I did as it was an entertaining show, even if I was feeling as sick as a Cerberus. I was running a bit late getting there, and apparently a third “band” had been added to the lineup but I didn’t see them play. I heard it was a few guys with laptops and synthesizers or something and that sounded awful so I didn’t even want to go upstairs to find out more. It’s bad enough DJ nights are taking away more and more booking spots at venues, apparently now they’re creeping into the opener slots as well. Anyways, the next band was called Dope Body, from Baltimore. To put it bluntly, they were awful. They weren’t particularly heavy, certainly more rock band than metal. Their songs were highly repetitive which wouldn’t be awful if they were playing something more interesting than chopsticks. The vocalist had a lot of stage presence and was moving all around the stage but when the band announced they still had a few more songs left to play I decided to go downstairs and sit for a while. I was really feeling sick by that point and this band just wasn’t doing it for me at all.

After a short while I moved upstairs again to see the band I came here for, Liturgy. Liturgy is a fairly controversial band in the metal world. The thing that seems to make them the most controversial is that they don’t adhere to what metal heads expect of a black metal band, and they do that on purpose. They don’t wear corpse paint or spikes or any of the other stereotypical black metal imagery. It should be noted that not all “true” black metal bands like that stuff any more either, many saying it’s been over done. I can’t remember the last time I saw any of the old “inner circle” black metal bands wear corpse paint on stage, other than Immortal that is. Yet Liturgy is often labeled as hipsters though I didn’t see any skinny jeans or ironic tshirts. Maybe I’m not up to date on what constitutes being a hipster these days. (Please don’t bother explaining in the comments, I don’t care). Regardless of appearance, Liturgy is black metal with a lot of atmosphere and progression. They’re comparable to bands like Wolves In The Throne Room, Krallice and Weakling in that way, though they have their own distinct sound. They’ve got a bit of indie rock aesthetic in there too, though not in that Alcest shoegazey way. Their older material was definitely more rooted in black metal but now they’re starting to drift away into something different, something that is their own. Honestly, their music simply isn’t as dark as most black metal bands, but that’s not to say it isn’t bleak. The music often goes from dark and brooding and elevates itself to something lighter, and sometimes back again. The band’s main man, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, has angered many in his interviews with his views on metal and it’s community. But live, the guy seemed extremely soft spoken. When he was playing his music and screaming into the microphone during the songs it seemed like he was letting it all out. When he did speak between songs he spoke so softly, sort of mumbling, that I could hear people in the audience asking what he had just said. Not what I was expecting at all from the guy who’s words have pissed off so many in the underground metal world. They played several songs from their new album (see the concert’s setlist here) and they fit in well with the older material that was in there as well. The vocals were highly reverbed and their songs went through slow progressions, sometimes almost seeming to stall if it wasn’t for the band’s drummer keeping everything moving so well. He kept the show moving long and he really stood out to me live. My fever broke midway through their set and I started sweating all over the place but I didn’t mind, the songs kept me captivated for their entire set. By the time they finished I was sweating profusely but I was feeling better, surely it was Liturgy’s take on black metal that helped me transcend my illness, if even just temporarily (I was back to being sick the next day).

The audience wasn’t your typical black metal crowd, but that’s totally fine by me. It’s nice to see people outside the typical metal ‘clique’ going to see metal bands. I did recognize a few faces and a few of you came up to say hi and that you like reading my site, that’s always awesome and I often don’t know what to say and start rambling incoherently. There was a good sized crowd for a Tuesday, especially considering it was the night after a major holiday and at a venue that rarely gets metal bands. I really enjoyed watching Liturgy play that night and I’m glad I got to see them start off their tour that night. If you’re someone who thinks black metal must be kvlt and fit into some rigid standard to be “true” then you’re not going to like these guys. If you think black metal only means the ultimate in blasphemous and unholy music, again, you’re not going to enjoy Liturgy. If, however, you’re interested in seeing a band experiment with what black metal is and can be, I highly recommend checking them out. It was an interesting ride and I can’t wait to see them again, hopefully I’ll be feeling better for their next area appearance.

I gave away a pair of tickets to this concert and now I’m giving away a pair of tickets to see Torche at the Rock & Roll Hotel on Saturday the 16th of July, be sure to enter here. Now check out the videos below that I shot at this concert. The lighting is really dark but the audio should be OK if you want to hear how they sounded.

Torche ticket give away

Torche is coming to the Rock & Roll Hotel on Saturday 16 July 2011 and DCHeavyMetal.com is giving away a pair of tickets to one of you readers. That’s right, there’s going to be a killer stoner metal show on H Street on a Saturday night, that’s awesome! They played a show at Jaxx back in March this year but not a whole lot of you showed up for that awesome show so I’m giving away a pair of tickets this time to help get this show some much deserved attention. All you have to do to enter to win is in the comments below post a song title you’d like to hear them play. I’ve got a picture of their setlist from the Jaxx show at the end of this post (click it to see it larger), but you can pick something that isn’t on that if you’d like. On Thursday the 14th of July 2011 at 6pm EST I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all the valid entries below to win the pair of tickets. Be sure to enter using an email address you check regularly so I can contact you when you win. And I won’t add you to any email lists or anything either, I hate spam as much as you do.

This tour features Florida’s stoner metal band Torche headlining two other bands. Big Business is a Seattle stoner/sludge duo that will be direct support at this show. Playing before them will be Helms Alee, a rock band that is also from Seattle. If you can’t wait for the contest to end, or it’s already over when you see this, you can get tickets to this show from Ticket Alternative for $13 here and they’ll go up to $15 at the door on the day of the show. Torche is a great high energy band to see live and this is a great chance to see them in action inside the Washington DC city limits. Even if you don’t win you should really be sure to make it out to this show, there is no way you’ll regret it.

After you’ve entered the contest check out this cool video of Torche playing their song Healer.