2011 is coming to a close and it has been another great year for DCHeavyMetal.com! The site has been growing and I’m glad I’ve made it through another calendar year of running this site and I have to say thanks for all the support I’ve gotten from the metal community here in DC. None of this would be worth doing if it wasn’t for all the awesome bands and fans in this area and you guys have made it so that after over two years I’m still as excited as ever to be running this site. This year I was lucky enough to see some of my work appear in other places online as well, including guest posts I wrote on MetalUnderground.com and Heavy Uber Alles. I started writing about international metal on SceneTrek.com and I’ve had my photography appear in lots of places, including on NPR’s website and TBD.com and MetalSucks.net. I was also allowed to guest host an episode of the pirate radio show Inverted Umlaut and pick a play list made up of all local metal bands. Probably the coolest thing for me was having the Washington Post Express do a small piece on me and the site back in May. I’ve also had a new shirt design made with art by Joshua Brettell, the drummer for local death/doom metal band Ilsa. Shirts are for sale now for $12, find me at an area show to get one. I should have a bunch for sale at the merch booth for the King Giant show at Jaxx on January 21st if nothing else. Back in March I had my Metal Marathon where I went to 11 metal concerts in 9 consecutive days, that was intense. And this year I went to over 100 concerts total, the first time I’ve ever done that in a single calendar year. I got to see a lot of great bands play and hang out with a lot of cool people at many venues all around the area. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do 100 shows in a year again, but I can at least say I did it once in 2011!
This post isn’t just to review 2011 for my site though, there were a lot of interesting stories in local, national and international metal this year. One of the first that comes to mind is all the venue changes that have gone on in the area. The legendary Fillmore opened up a new 2,000 capacity venue in Silver Spring and they have already held a few metal shows. A new venue opened in the inner harbor area of Baltimore as well, the Baltimore SoundStage. The State Theatre in Falls Church has been expanding its upstairs balcony to hold more people, you can see a shot of the unfinished construction here. Jaxx in Springfield, Virginia, the long time metal stronghold in the DC area, has new owners taking over in 2012. They also recently purchased Alley Katz in Richmond, and have renamed that venue Kingdom after a renovation. They have remained quiet so far on their plans for Jaxx but you can expect to see some changes there in 2012. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you up to date on that. There were a couple closings as well, Bourbon Street in Baltimore closed, though the staff seems to have mostly moved to the new Baltimore SoundStage. In what is probably the most tragic venue closing of 2011, the Corpse Fortress in Silver Spring, Maryland was shut down after five years and the residents of this awesome DIY house were all evicted at the end of September. I saw a lot of great bands play there, touring and local, and it really is a blow to the local do it yourself music scene, metal or otherwise. So Addictive Lounge, which had been having weekly metal nights on Mondays in Herndon decided to turn into a full fledged gay bar seven days a week and so they no longer hold local metal shows. However there are a few venues that have started hosting metal shows as well. The DIY house Cellar Door in Annandale has been getting bands occasionally. There is also the unlikely venue Asefu’s, an Ethiopian bar in the U Street area of DC, which has been hosting some local metal shows lately. The Quarry House Tavern in Silver Spring has also held some matinee metal shows on the weekends. Old Firestation #3 in Fairfax City has been hosting a few metal shows as well. Golden West Cafe has also been getting some great doom and sludge bands coming through Baltimore. Of course this year we had that whole fiasco with Sonar in Baltimore ‘shutting down’ about three weeks before Maryland Deathfest was to be held there. Luckily it turned out to be just a big, and very public, management tantrum. The venue reopened in time for MDF but they sure looked bad. That wasn’t the only story involving Maryland Deathfest in 2011, which isn’t surprising considering the festival has become not only this area’s but also North America’s biggest non-touring metal festival. The Neurosis outdoor performance this year right after a thunderstorm that almost canceled their set was just incredible. And the mysterious Swedish band Ghost played their first ever US show as the final band on the final day of Maryland Deathfest this year. Sadly there was a bad situation that ended up with security guards spraying random people in attendance with pepper spray after their set which made the otherwise awesome festival end on a sour note. There were also issues with the video footage that had been shot at Maryland Deathfest, much of which is explained here, and apparently there will not be a Maryland Deathfest The Movie for the 2011 festival. However, there is a movie coming out that some of you old school metal heads in this area might find interesting. No, not a sequel to Heavy Metal Parking Lot, that already came out this year as Heavy Metal Picnic. The now defunct DC concert venue The Bayou has a documentary film about its history coming out soon and you can see the trailer for it here.
There were a lot of interesting stories in metal this year, from the hilarious to the bizarre to the downright tragic. We saw the big four of thrash metal hold their US shows, the closest one to us being the performance at Yankee Stadium in New York City that was so awesome that a guy in a wheelchair was crowd surfing. And way back in January of this year Jef Whitehead, aka Wrest, the man behind the one man US black metal bands Leviathan and Lurker Of Chalice, was arrested for criminal sexual assault and aggravated domestic battery for allegedly attacking his girlfriend, including sexually assaulting her with a tattoo gun (details here). He has denied all the charges and even put out a new Leviathan album that seems pretty obviously to be directing anger at her with the title True Traitor, True Whore. In January we also heard that Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman became infected with a flesh eating bacteria, necrotizing fasciitis. He had to sit out most of Slayer’s shows this year because of it, including their big four shows. He seems to be making a full recovery though, because, as he put it, “Satan had my back.” In July the lead singer for Life Of Agony, Keith Caputo, announced that he was transitioning into life as a woman and should be referred to as Mina Caputo now. It takes a lot of strength to come out in the metal world, and while I’m not a fan of Life Of Agony’s music this did lead to another one of my favorite quotes in any interview this year when Mina stated, “just because I’m wearing a skirt doesn’t mean I don’t got big balls.” And who can forget the bizarre story of the bass player for Coheed And Cambria getting arrested for armed robbery after holding up a pharmacy in Boston just before the band performed there live (check it out here if you want the details). There were also two big stories this year about how people find and share music, including metal. Namely Spotify coming to the US and Google Music starting up, the latter of which has made it so any band, regardless of if they have a label or not, can get their music in the Android Marketplace for a one time fee of just $25 (info on that is here). There was also the story this year of the big Chaos In Tejas fest announcing their 2012 line up and afterwards people started noticing there were some bands with nazi or other racist ties on the bill, namely Nyogthaeblisz, Black Witchery and Disma (get more details on this here). This led to an uproar on the festival’s Facebook page and several other bands set to play the fest started threatening to pull out if those bands weren’t dropped from the festival. All three are now off of the fest, however it should be noted that both Black Witchery and Disma are on the lineup for Maryland Deathfest in 2012 and nobody seems to be saying a thing about that. In what has sadly becoming surprising, Metallica actually did something cool when they held four 30th anniversary concerts in San Francisco. They played some brand new tracks for fans as well as bring in a slew of guests to perform with them, including people like Glenn Danzig, King Diamond, Ozzy Osbourne and even Dave Mustaine, among others. It’s cool they did something for the fans for once. In 2010 it was announced that Nergal, the main man from the Polish blackened death metal band Behemoth, had been diagnosed with leukemia. He raised a lot of awareness for the need for bone marrow transplants, and in January 2011 he was released from the hospital after being the successful recipient of one. In October 2011 Behemoth even did a small tour in Poland, the band’s first live shows since Nergal was hospitalized.
Sadly not everyone in the metal world fared as well this year and some people were lost to us. Cory Smoot, the most recent person under the Flattus Maximius costume as a member of the gory shock metal band Gwar, had heart problems and passed away at the age of 34 while on tour with the band in early November. This story touched a lot of people in this area since Gwar are Richmond, Virginia natives and also because he left behind a pregnant wife. A benefit show is being held for them on January 7th in Richmond, info on that is here. There was also Seth Putnam, the main guy behind the always overly offensive grindcore band Anal Cunt, who died in June at the age of 43 due to heart failure. In March Mike Starr, the original Alice in Chains bassist, was found dead in his home at age 44, apparently due to a lethal combination of Xanax and alcohol. He had been on VH-1’s show Celebrity Rehab in 2010. There was also the death of Phil Vane, one of the original members of the English band Extreme Noise Terror. He died from a stroke at the age of 44 after being one of the founding members of not only ENT but of the entire crust sub genre. Just last week David Gold was killed in a car accident at age 31. He was the main guy behind the Canadian black/doom band Woods Of Ypres. I’m sure there are others I have forgotten to mention so feel free to make note of them in the comment section below if you’d like.
There were also some long running bands who broke up this past year as well. There was the above mentioned Anal Cunt and Woods Of Ypres of course. Also God Dethroned from the Netherlands decided to finish the band after 20 years, well they still have to play on the 70,000 Tons Of Metal cruise in January but that will be it for them. The Bay Area band Ludicra broke up just as they seemed to really be gathering steam which reminds me of Salome‘s demise last year. Long time Swedish death metal act Dismember broke up after 23 years in the scene. Back in May at Maryland Deathfest we got to see the New York based death metal band Skinless play their final live set ever after having been together since 1992. There were also some major line up changes in a few bands that didn’t break up, at least not yet. I think the biggest has to be K. K. Downing, guitar player and founding member of Judas Priest, leaving the band in April after over 40 years with the band. Also in April the Seattle based Nevermore announced that their guitar player, Jeff Loomis, was leaving the band as well as long time drummer Van Williams. Both had been in the band since the band’s first album and Nevermore is currently on hiatus though vocalist Warrel Dane insists they are not broken up. The Tampa, Florida based power metal band Iced Earth saw their lead singer, Matt Barlow, leave the band for a second time in March. However Iced Earth didn’t miss a beat and quickly recruited Into Eternity vocalist Stu Block into the band. Swedish black metal band Dark Funeral saw long time members B-Force, Dominator and Emperor Magus Caligula all leave the band in 2010 but it wasn’t until 2011 that the band started filling these gaps. Dominator decided to return on drums, Zornheym replaced B-Force on bass, and after 15 years with Magus on vocals the band has found a new vocalist in Nachtgarm from the band Negator.
This year there were a few bands who got back together as well. Those who attended the final day of this year’s Maryland Deathfest got to see Coroner play a headlining set. This was the Swiss technical thrash band’s first US show since reforming in 2010 after a 14 year break up period. After the fallout of the aforementioned Nevermore, Sanctuary has been reformed by the remaining members of Nevermore. There was also the two song performance by Swedish death metal band Bloodbath as an encore at the Opeth and Katatonia show in Baltimore back in early November. The so called super group only played at one show on that tour, and we were lucky that it was the one in Baltimore! Not really a reunion but his return to metal in general, we got a solo album by Demonaz who has pretty much been absent from the metal world in any major role since he left Immortal in 1997 due to tendinitis so bad that it prevented him from playing guitar. Another sort of return this year was ICS Vortex putting out a solo album as well after having been booted unceremoniously from Dimmu Borgir in 2009. Lets just say that album was a lot better than the last Dimmu album, though that’s not saying much. Also this year there was the return of Kyuss, who played both the 9:30 Club in Washington DC and Rams Head Live in Baltimore. The band has all the original members back, except for the glaring lack of Josh Homme on guitar. It’s not too surprising as I’m sure he is making much more money with the Eagles Of Death Metal, Them Crooked Vultures and Queens Of The Stone Age, though it’s a bit of a let down for the fans. There has also been news that Pepper Keenan has rejoined Corrosion Of Conformity, so I hope to hear him on a new album with them in 2012. This year we also saw the return of Polish death metal band Decapitated, sort of. In October 2007 they were in a horrible bus wreck while on tour which killed their drummer and put the vocalist into a coma. The band broke up but guitarist Vogg recruited all new members to reform Decapitated and this year they put out a new full length as well as went on tour, including a stop at Jaxx in October. Some musical returns are hardly worth noting but are too big of a flop to not mention, such as the first album by death metal legends Morbid Angel in 8 years, also their first album with David Vincent in the band since 1995. It was not what anyone expected, and not in a good way. I mean there are bad albums and then there are albums that make you just wonder who the hell heard this crap and thought it was worth putting out? I’m still not convinced it was the worst metal album of the year though. I mean, Lou Reed with Metallica‘s album Lulu is pretty damn awful as well, but I guess you sort of expected that before you heard it. Let’s just hope 2012 has nothing close to these two stinkers in store for the metal fans out there.
There were some good metal releases this year of course. I don’t write “top 10” album lists or whatever because I don’t really like ranking music (or art in general) as though it is a competition. However, I’d like to just note that we had new material by a lot of bands from this area (this isn’t a complete list but I tried to remember everyone!). DC’s doom legends Pentagram put out Last Rites, an album surprisingly good considering how long this band has been around. There was The Human Romance, a new album by DC’s biggest metalcore band Darkest Hour. Deceased put out Surreal Overdose in 2011 to show that they’re still going strong for over 25 years. Dying Fetus put out an EP of mostly 90’s death metal band covers called History Repeats this year. Maryland’s most famous djent band, Periphery, also put out the Icarus EP this year to tide fans over until they release two full length albums in 2012 (more on that below). If you really like them I recommend checking out the instrumental Baltimore based band Balor’s Eye who put out their debut as a self titled EP this year. Aurora Borealis put out surprisingly good melodic black metal effort this year, even though it seems to have gone mostly overlooked for some reason. They’re even giving it away as a free download (here), what the hell else do you want people? On the more grindy side of things Drugs Of Faith put out a really good album, Corroded. Local death/doom band Ilsa put out a split with Sweden’s Hooded Menace this year as well, totally crushing. Local stoner act Borracho released their debut full length this year as well, titled Splitting Sky. And Polkadot Cadaver, made up of members of the broken up band Dog Fashion Disco, put out their second album this year and have started touring nationally to support it. Baltimore band Bet The Devil put out their self titled debut as well in 2011. Death metal band Visceral Disgorge put out their debut album, Ingesting Putridity, in 2011. And last but not least there was the progressive band Iris Divine who put out a full length album this year. So if people think this area’s metal scene is dead or simply doesn’t exist they’re just not paying attention because that’s a hell of a lot of metal output there!
Well that’s my recap of what happened in 2011, and as if this post wasn’t long enough already, I’ll tell you some of the things you can look forward to in 2012. As far as this site itself goes, I’ve got some awesome new contests coming up where I’ll be giving away tickets to see Graveyard, Ghost, King Giant and Lamb Of God, and those are just in January! I’ll also be doing some interviews with some people I hope you guys find interesting. I’m going to try to keep this different than the typical ass-kissing promo interviews on every other music website but actually ask some questions people want to know the answers to. I also plan on revamping my venues page with even more info on each venue, and possibly even adding a section with contact info for various small venue promoters so you can get in contact with them to set up shows much more easily.
As egotistical as I’d like to be, there’s plenty more to be excited about in the world of metal in 2012 besides what is going on with my site. I think the biggest story of all has got to be that all four original members of Black Sabbath have reunited and announced not only a full world tour, but a new full length album as well. Rick Rubin is producing it, and while he has an extensive history of producing all kinds of music, he was behind the board for Slayer’s classic Reign In Blood album though more recently he has produced Metallica’s 2008 album Death Magnetic. It certainly has the potential to be a horrid album or a great one, and I’m sure no matter what there will be people who claim either side, but it’s still pretty amazing that they’re putting a new album together now after over 30 years. Another big story is that grind legends Terrorizer will be putting out a new album. However David Vincent has been added to the band’s line up and I really hope he doesn’t make them sound like modern Morbid Angel. Local grind act Pig Destroyer has been rather quiet since their 2007 album Phantom Limb, but I’ve heard that Misery Index drummer Adam Jarvis has been added to the line up so hopefully we’ll finally hear some new material from them in 2012. Locals King Giant have their sophomore album, Dismal Hollow, coming out in January and they’ll be holding a CD release show at Jaxx on the 21st for that. The line up for that show is great and I’m glad they’re going to be holding another contest on DCHeavyMetal.com to help promote it. Djent band Periphery has announced that they’ll be putting out not one but two full length albums in 2012. The first is a concept album titled Juggernaut that is tentatively scheduled for release in May. Not much info has been told about the second album, however it has been announced that is it not a concept album and is scheduled for release in November. Baltimore’s Knives Out have an album scheduled for release in February titled Black Mass Hysteria. Local power metal act A Sound Of Thunder is supposed to put out a full length this year, titled Out Of The Darkness, a follow up to their 2011 album Metal Renaissance, so keep an eye out for that. In what seems to be a bit strange, the band Control Denied, formed by Chuck Schuldiner of Death fame and broken up after his death in 2001, will have a second album released in 2012. It is to be titled When Man And Machine Collide. Apparently it is the album Chuck had been working on when he died so I’m not sure who ‘finished’ it and it sort of stinks of the kind of cash grab that is usually reserved for Elvis and 90s rap fans. Oh and remember how I mentioned above that I hoped there wouldn’t be an album as bad as either the latest Morbid Angel or Metallica efforts? Well, Morbid Angel has decided to put out a double album of dub step remixes of their 2010 album, Illud Divinum Insanus. Seriously, after all the backlash they got they thought THAT would be a good idea? There’s a couple tours coming in 2012 I’m already excited for. Lock Up, featuring members of bands At The Gates, Napalm Death, Dimmu Borgir and too many more to list, was supposed to make their US debut at Maryland Deathfest in 2011. They had last minute visa issues and so didn’t make it into the US. However they now have a full US tour scheduled and they’ll be playing in Baltimore in February. I’m also excited to see Hail!Hornet and Zoroaster play at the Black Cat in February the same night as a screening of a movie about heavy metal in the south, aptly titled Slow Southern Steel.
Well, thanks for getting to the end of the post, it’s been a damn long one and it took me what seems like forever to pull all these links together. 2011 has been a hell of a year and 2012 looks promising already. If you’ve got any suggestions for the site or you noticed something I totally overlooked that should have been mentioned above go ahead and mention it in the comment section below. Stay safe everyone and remember if you’re out partying this New Year’s Eve, the entire DC area (including the Maryland and Virginia suburbs) has free cabs from 10pm to 6am. Just call 1-800-200-TAXI or check out the Sober Ride program’s website here. Stay metal everyone, go out and see some metal shows and support the scene you’re a part of!