Morbid Angel at the Howard Theatre

On Monday the 24th of September 2012 another heavy metal tour came to the Howard Theatre in Washington DC. This time the show was headlined by Morbid Angel, one of the most famous bands from the legendary Tampa, Florida death metal scene. The first band to play was VadimVon, a South Carolina based death metal band, however I wasn’t able to get there in time to see them. The first band I saw perform was Grave, one of the old school Swedish death metal bands. Before Swedish metal became associated with bands like At The Gates, In Flames and Soilwork there was a death metal scene there that rivaled the one Morbid Angel Tour Posterin Tampa at the time. It was led by bands like Entombed, Hypocrisy, Unleashed and Dismember. Grave is one of the few bands from that scene that is not only still around but has also stayed true to their sound. The only member of Grave that is left from those days is vocalist/guitarist Ola Lindgren and he showed the audience at the Howard Theatre that he’s still got it. The band put on a good show with a set list (photo of it here) that showed a pretty good history of the band, considering the time they had to play, as well as featuring a few songs of their latest album, Endless Procession of Souls. They got the pit really going on a few songs and hell, it was great to hear a set full of old school Swedish death metal! You just don’t get a chance to hear that very often any more. The next band up was another Swedish band, though this time of the black metal variety. Dark Funeral has gone through some line up changes since they last toured the US, most notably replacing their vocalist of 15 years, Emperor Magus Caligula. This was their first area appearance with the new vocalist, Nachtgarm, who is also the front man of the German black metal band Negator. While I wouldn’t say he was bad he certainly didn’t live up to the showmanship that Caligula had when on stage with the band. Dark Funeral has always been very apt at maintaining their image, everyone in the band comes out dressed like corpse painted orcs from Lord Of The Rings, complete with leather armor. Well, everyone except Nachtgarm that is, who was wearing one of those Shagrath style black metal dresses and looked more like he fit in a Behemoth video than with Dark Funeral on stage. Dark Funeral has never been the most original black metal band. Their sound is pretty typical of the genre and never really pushed any boundaries, though they do have a few rather stand out songs. The stage show has always helped to keep them from blending in with every other black metal band out there and I guess the new vocalist seemed to just detract from that. Again he wasn’t awful, he just didn’t seem to fit Dark Funeral that well. Perhaps after they record an album with him and he is performing some of his own material live he’ll have a better chemistry with them. Still, the band plays fast paced music and their closing song, My Funeral, got me pumped and ready for the headliner, Morbid Angel.

Aside from this year’s headlining appearance at Maryland Deathfest, Morbid Angel hasn’t played in the area since their show at Jaxx/Empire in April 2006 when they were first touring again because David Vincent had rejoined the band. Since that show they have only put out one album, last year’s dreadful Illud Divinum Insanus which was not only critically panned but also stained Morbid Angel’s reputation among fans. I had just seen another one of the big names from the Tampa scene, Obituary, play at Empire two weeks earlier (my review of that show is here) and they put on a lackluster performance so I was hoping Morbid Angel wouldn’t follow suit. Morbid Angel didn’t disappoint. They put on a brutal show playing many of their older classics. Their set list (photo of it here) had a lot of songs from their album Covenant, with most of the other songs being spread throughout the David Vincent era of the band. They did play one song, Bil Ur-Sag, from the album Formulas Fatal To The Flesh, an album David Vincent was not on. I’ve never seen them play a song with him before that wasn’t from his time with the band, so that was pretty cool actually. Trey Azagthoth did his thing on the side of the stage cranking out classic riffs and wild solos with his trademark long hair obscuring his face the entire show. While Morbid Angel played two songs from their most recent album they were at least two of the more “metal” songs from it. Tim Yeung did a good job behind the kit and Destructhor, playing rhythm guitar (but still had some solos) did a fine job as well, but really the main focus on stage was David Vincent. Morbid Angel is definitely a better band with him fronting them. Between two songs he did mention how he hated DC as it represented everything he hated about the way the world is run, but assured the audience this wasn’t any fault of our own. Definitely not the usual audience ass kissing you hear a front man blabber about whatever town he is in. In all it was really fun to see one of the legendary bands of death metal put on a killer show. My main gripe was that they didn’t play much from either Blessed Are The Sick or Domination but did play my two favorite songs of theirs, Maze Of Torment and Chapel Of Ghouls, and I’ve posted the videos I shot at the show of each song below. Well I hope you enjoyed reading this, now check out the pictures and videos I shot of the bands playing. Be sure to get your ass out to some of the awesome upcoming metal shows going on in the area and help to support the scene you’re a part of!

Grave:

Grave at the Howard Theatre

Ola Lindgren of Grave

Ola Lindgren of Grave

Ola Lindgren of Grave

Ola Lindgren of Grave

Tobias Cristiansson of Grave

Mika Lagrén of Grave

Dark Funeral:

Nachtgarm of Dark Funeral

Chaq Mol of Dark Funeral

Nachtgarm of Dark Funeral

Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral

Zornheym of Dark Funeral

Nachtgarm of Dark Funeral

Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral

Nachtgarm of Dark Funeral

Morbid Angel:

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

Destructhor of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

Down ticket give away

Southern metal super group Down will be playing the Fillmore Silver Spring on Sunday the 30th of September 2012 and DCHeavyMetal.com is giving away a free pair of tickets to one of you lucky readers of the site. All you have to do to enter Down at the Fillmore Silver Springis leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me what song you’d like to hear Down play the most at the show. On Friday, September 28th at 5pm EST one lucky winner will be picked at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win a pair of tickets to the show. If I don’t hear from you in 24 hours then I’ll pick another winner to get the tickets so be sure to use an email address you check regularly (even on the weekend!) so you’ll be able to claim your prize. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any email lists or anything like that, I hate spam too. If you enter more than once then all of your entries will be disqualified. And if you cannot make it to the show please don’t enter because I want people who can actually attend to get the tickets! If you simply can’t wait to find out if you have won or not, or the contest is already over, you can buy tickets to the show for $28.50 from Live Nation here.

Down is a New Orleans based metal band that is often called a super group since it is made up of members of Corrosion Of Conformity, Eyehategod, Crowbar and Pantera. Unlike most bands to get the super group label Down actually kicks ass. They just released a new record titled The Purple EP and you can bet you’ll get hear some of those sweet new tunes live at this show as well as several of their classics. But let’s not forget the other bands who will be playing this show as well, most notably the doom metal legends Pentagram. They’re only playing two shows with Down on this tour but we’re lucky enough to get one of them in our area. Also playing will be the Texas based thrash metal band Warbeast. They’ll be shredding your face off in a good way to really get things going. The opening act will be the bluesy throwback band Mount Carmel from Ohio. Down doesn’t tour very often so you’d be crazy to miss this show. What better way is there to see it than for free? So listen to these tunes by the bands playing, enter the contest below and start getting psyched for a killer metal show!

Vektor and Battlemaster at RAS Hall

So last Sunday, the 16th of September 2012, the Philadelphia based thrash band Vektor was finishing up their tour with an afternoon matinee show at the RAS Hall in Washington DC. People often mistakenly call the venue an Ethiopian restaurant however it is actually Jamaican, or more specifically, Rastafarian. Their religion believes that former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie was the second coming of Christ and that is why his image was plastered all over the interior. Anyways, there was a good turn out even though the early show was competing with the Redskins game. Luckily they had some TV’s over the bar that showed the game. The music began with a Chicago based grind band called Worn Out that I didn’t hear but from outside of the venue. They seemed a bit out of place for this show’s line up. The next band up was Midnight Eye, a great local metal band that really started the riff fest that the rest of this show would be. The band’s frontman/guitarist, Simon, is a friend of mine and he set up this show, along with many others around the area. If you want to keep up with the awesome DIY metal shows he puts on you can join his Metal Squad Party Force group on Facebook (here) to be sure you get invited to them all. I don’t have photos of Midnight Eye from Sunday because I hung out at the bar to watch the Skins game while Midnight Eye played and I’ve shot them several times before anyways. However you can see older photos I’ve shot of them here. They were good and it looks like they’re starting to get a more consistent line up now. After they played the Richmond based Battlemaster slayed the place with their Dungeons & Dragons themed thrash metal. Their songs were about things like displacer beasts and cursed boots of perpetual dancing which might have been a bit too nerdy for most in attendance to understand (however I did play some 2nd Edition AD&D back in the day and I got most of their references I think). Regardless of their lyrical content the band can really shred and they were really fun to watch play. You may recognize their vocalist, Andy Horn, as being the recently departed original frontman of another Richmond band, Cannabis Corpse. You could tell he was having fun up there and it was a good show for the band’s first time in DC in about 5 years. Battlemaster’s set was a good lead in for the final band of the evening, Vektor.

I’d never seen Vektor live before and while they are coming to Empire in late October, they’ll be playing a shorter set I’m sure since they will have three bigger bands playing after them (more info on that show here). So that meant the chance to catch them do a full headlining set was a don’t miss opportunity. The band’s main man, David DiSanto, looks like Morbid Angel‘s Trey Azagthoth circa 1990. He was even wearing a cut off Morbid Saint shirt! He also had various metal parts and what seemed like a grate and a circuit board on his guitar which totally fit with the band’s futuristic lyrical imagery. Did I mention they totally killed the place? Vektor has some awesome riffs and the shred factor was off the scale at this show. I like their recorded music but hearing it live just added another whole level of energy and excitement to the songs. They didn’t have a set list for the show so after a few songs they just took requests from people in the audience for what to play next, a sure fire way to please any crowd. I really can’t say enough about how good they were live, just total face melting thrash! If you’re into thrash metal and you missed this show then you fucked up big time. However there’s another great thrash show happening this weekend: The area’s wildest live thrash band, Warchild, will be chugging beers and thrashing people’s faces off Saturday the 22nd at DC9. You can get more info on that show here or give the band a listen here (I recommend the song Every Position, that song rules!). It’s great to see such quality bands playing the area so be sure to get out to some of these great metal shows and support the scene you’re a part of!

Battlemaster:

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Peter Sims of Battlemaster

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Battlemaster at RAS Hall

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Battlemaster at RAS Hall

Vektor:

Vektor at RAS Hall

Vektor at RAS Hall

David DiSanto of Vektor

Vektor at RAS Hall

David DiSanto of Vektor

David DiSanto of Vektor

Vektor at RAS Hall

Vektor at RAS Hall

David DiSanto of Vektor

Erik Nelson of Vektor

Frank Chin of Vektor

Morbid Angel ticket give away

Death metal legends Morbid Angel are finally coming back to Washington DC and and you can win a free pair of tickets to the show on Monday, September 24th, 2012 at the Howard Theatre. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment at the end of this post Morbid Angel at the Howard Theatretelling me which metal band you’d like to see come to the Howard Theatre next! On Friday, September 21st at 5pm EST I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to get the free pair of tickets to the show. Be sure to enter with a valid email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. If I don’t hear from you in 24 hours then I’ll pick another winner to get the tickets. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any email lists or anything like that, I hate spam too. If you enter more than once then all of your entries will be disqualified. If you simply can’t wait to see if you win the contest you can get tickets from The Vault here for $25 (or you can get them from Ticket Master here but they have higher service fees).

Morbid Angel headlined day three of Maryland Deathfest back in May and they dispelled any notion of the band going soft following their poorly received release of Illud Divinum Insanus in 2011. They put on a killer show playing tons of their classic hits however they didn’t do a full tour. If you missed them at MDF (or even if you were there but want to see them again) then this is your chance to see one of the true legends of American death metal live and at a venue with a great sound system no less. As if that wasn’t good enough reason to go you will also get to see Swedish black metal band Dark Funeral provide direct support on this tour. It will be their first US tour with their new vocalist Nachtgarm and I’ve got to admit I can’t wait to see how he does fronting Dark Funeral. There is also support on this tour from Grave, an old school Swedish death metal band from the days when “Swedish Death Metal” referred to bands like Entombed, Unleashed, Hypocrisy and Dismember. The opening band for this tour is VadimVon, an up and coming death metal band from South Carolina. All this at the Howard Theatre, a new venue in DC that is just around the corner from the 9:30 Club (and just as easy to get to). Bottom line: this show is going to kick serious ass! So listen to these tunes by the bands playing, enter the contest in the comments and I’ll see you at the show!

Primordial, While Heaven Wept and Cormorant at Empire

Primordial‘s tour came through town and Wednesday the 12th of September found me back at Empire in Springfield, Virginia just two days after seeing Obituary, Broken Hope and Decrepit Birth there (see my post on that show here). The first band I saw Wednesday was Cormorant, a sort of proggy, melodic metal band from San Francisco. They played a long set but since there were no local openers for this show I suppose they had the time to. They were pretty good live and I liked how they mentioned that one of their songs, Blood On The Cornfields, took place in Virginia as it was about Nat Turner’s slave rebellion and subsequent execution in 1831. Like the other bands on this tour their songs were long, but they kept it interesting and I wasn’t bored at all. The second band to play was While Heaven Wept, which is loosely based in the Northern Virginia, however some members live outside of the area. They drew the biggest crowd of the night probably due to their friends coming to see them play since this was their first area appearance in many years. I’m not sure how to describe their sound, it had some elements of power metal and prog and even some thrash and goth parts. I didn’t mind the music so much but frontman Rain Irving’s voice just didn’t do it for me. I’m sure there are some people that really like that style of clean singing but personally, it isn’t my thing. I’ve got a video of them from this show posted below so you can make up your own mind. It should also be noted that, according to the Metal Archives, While Heaven Wept’s guitar player Tom Phillips was once a member of the NSBM band (that stands for National Socialist Black Metal, aka Nazi black metal) Grand Belial’s Key. I refuse to cover or promote bigoted bands on this site and I don’t think While Heaven Wept are a bunch of racists but I thought it should be noted that at least one member of the band has ties to that nonsense. I don’t know the guy personally and maybe he has changed his ways, or perhaps the Metal Archives are simply incorrect but that’s the info I have.

UPDATE: Tom Phillips replied in the comments below, which I will quote here as well, to clarify his association with GBK and I’m inclined to believe him. I hope this makes things more clear for everyone.

Woah dude. Let’s get something clear immediately; yes, I was once involved with the first version of Grand Belial’s Key backing them up on keyboards…this was during the demo era, which was strictly LaVeyian/Anti-Christian Black Metal; that version of the band ended in the early 90′s when Lord Vlad left to join Ancient…the band was done/over/defunct. Fast forward several years and Gelal formed a new version of the band that had more extreme views and lyrical content. I personally had nothing to do with this 2nd incarnation, and it should be noted that While Heaven Wept is neither religious nor political in any way at all; all of our lyrics for the past 23 years are based upon real-life experiences and emotions – and it would be greatly appreciated if this were made clear. Metal Archives does not know or tell the whole story, and while I am proud to have been part of one of the first American Black Metal bands, neither myself nor anyone in WHW have anything to do with NSBM or fascism of any kind. – Tom Phillips

Anyways, let’s move on to talk of the headliner…

Primordial is an Irish folk/black metal band that has some truly epic songs that, to me at least, really separates them from the less serious mead chugging bands that seem to be dominating the folk metal genre these days. Primordial’s set list (see it here) featured a lot of material from their latest album, Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand, which was fine by me since I love that album. This was my first time seeing Primordial and the band’s frontman, A.A. Nemtheanga, was a true showman. He kept the audience constantly into the show and he seemed to always be up to something on stage, be it posing dramatically or walking right up to the audience and sharing the mic. Unfortunately the crowd thinned out considerably after While Heaven Wept finished playing when most of their local friends left. Sucks for them because they really missed a hell of a performance by a band that doesn’t tour the US very often. The show ended on a very high note with the entire crowd going crazy and singing along with the chorus line on their closing song, Empire Falls.

I’ve posted lots of photos and a few videos of each band that played the show below. Some of you might have noticed that Arkansas based doom metal band Pallbearer was playing at the Rock & Roll Hotel the same night Primordial was at Empire. I knew I couldn’t make it to both shows on the same night so I caught Pallbearer at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia last Saturday (the 8th). They were very heavy live but if you asked me which show was better now that I have seen both I would definitely have to say Primordial. September is a busy month full of some great metal concerts so be sure to check the upcoming concert calendar, get out to a show and support the scene you’re a part of!

Cormorant:

Nick Cohon of Cormorant

Matt Solis of Cormorant

Arthur von Nagel of Cormorant

Arthur von Nagel of Cormorant

While Heaven Wept:

Tom Phillips of While Heaven Wept

Rain Irving of While Heaven Wept

While Heaven Wept at Empire

Rain Irving of While Heaven Wept

Scott Loose of While Heaven Wept

Jim Hunter of While Heaven Wept

Primordial:

Primordial at Empire

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

Ciáran MacUiliam of Primordial

Primordial at Empire

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

Pól MacAmlaigh of Primordial

Primordial at Empire

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

Obituary, Broken Hope and Decrepit Birth at Empire

Monday night, the 10th of September 2012, the Carnival Of Death Tour came to Empire in Springfield, Virginia. It was the second stop on the tour and while the Tampa, Florida based old school death metal band Obituary was headlining, I was more excited to see the return of Broken Hope. This was their first run of shows since breaking up over 10 years ago!

While Jungle Rot and a couple of local acts started the show I didn’t get there until just before Decrepit Birth played. They’re a California based death metal band that totally worships Chuck Schuldiner’s Death. In fact, if you’re a Death fan and you haven’t checked this band out you’re doing something wrong! They introduced a new drummer at the show, though I didn’t catch his name, and Derek Boyer was noticeably absent as well, but they still put on an entertaining show. Broken Hope was next and they were brutal as all hell! Their legendarily deep voiced vocalist Joe Ptacek killed himself in 2010 so they have Tom Leski of Gorgasm doing vocals now and he was great up there. He quickly dispelled any question about if he’d be able to do those guttural bellows. They were incredibly heavy and it isn’t every day you see a death metal band that crushing live. I’ve got a couple videos you can see below that I shot that night, including one of my favorite song of theirs, Felching Vampires.

Last up was Obituary, one of the legends of the Tampa Bay death metal scene. I tend to think of Obituary as sort of the AC/DC of death metal. Like AC/DC, their songs are fairly simple and don’t have a lot of variation between them, but they are very good at the one thing they do. If you like one Obituary song you’ll probably like them all and seeing them live isn’t going to change your opinion of them if you don’t. That all said I do like Obituary, but I have seen them in better form than they were that Monday night. For starters they are playing as a four piece since apparently Ralph Santolla isn’t playing guitar for them any more. This left Tony Peres, who is normally the rhythm guitarist, to do all the guitar work and he simply skipped over most of the guitar solos. Add to that the fact that vocalist John Tardy just didn’t seem that excited to be performing. His brother, drummer Donald Tardy, actually had more charisma and did a better job of pumping up the crowd from behind the kit. For the most part John looked old and tired on stage and seemed to be just going through the motions. I’d have maybe understood this more if they’d been touring a month already but this was just the second show of the tour, and the first outside of their home state. They can’t be that tired already can they? Anyways, the crowd didn’t seem to notice much as the mosh pit was going wild throughout Obituary’s set. They played a lot of older material and actually changed the backdrop a few times during the show as the set list moved to different eras of the band’s history. Even with the lackluster performance the songs have a certain groove that still holds up live and it was a fun show, but it certainly was not Obituary at their best. I’ve got a couple videos of their performance that you can watch at the end of this post if you want to judge for yourself. Stay brutal everyone and remember to get out to some metal shows and support the scene you’re a part of!

Decrepit Birth:

Bill Robinson of Decrepit Birth

Bill Robinson of Decrepit Birth

Decrepit Birth at Empire

Matt Sotelo of Decrepit Birth

Bill Robinson of Decrepit Birth

Decrepit Birth bass player

Decrepit Birth drummer

Broken Hope:

Jeremy Wagner of Broken Hope

Jeremy Wagner of Broken Hope

Tom Leski of Broken Hope

Jeremy Wagner of Broken Hope

Broken Hope at Empire

Shaun Glass of Broken Hope

Broken Hope at Empire

Broken Hope guitarist

Tom Leski of Broken Hope

Tom Leski of Broken Hope

Obituary:

Trevor Peres of Obituary

John Tardy of Obituary

Trevor Peres of Obituary

John Tardy of Obituary

John Tardy of Obituary

Obituary at Empire

Three Year Anniversary

Today DCHeavyMetal.com turns 3 and it wouldn’t ever have been possible if it wasn’t for all the metal heads in this area. I am rather proud of myself as there are so many blogs out there that start and stop before running this long. I never thought when I started DCHM that it would end up changing my life but it certainly has. I’ve met so many cool people because of this site and it is you all who make this site worth doing. You read this site, tell your friends about it, shake my hand and say thanks at shows, and even tell me when I screw things up on the site, be it minor grammatical errors or bad/old info on the concert listings. It all helps make DCHeavyMetal.com something better than I could have ever hoped. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to continue to improve the site and spend most of my free time making it kick even more ass. Right now I’m in the middle of the slow process of completely revamping the Venues page. When it is done all the info on it will be updated and it will look more like the Upcoming Concert Calendar‘s new look. It will also include info on other local metal related businesses like record stores that specialize in metal and local guitar repair shops with employees that are metal heads. I’m also working on a deal with the Howard Theatre to give away tickets to their upcoming metal shows so hopefully one of you will be winning tickets to see Morbid Angel soon.

There’s another change coming to DCHM, and I think it’s a big step for the site. I’ve been thinking for a while about posting some album reviews on the site, however, I personally don’t like writing album reviews. So I’ve decided to let someone else start writing some for DCHM. I’ll have a formal announcement about that later but expect to see, at least at first, only material by local bands being reviewed here. I think Pig Destroyer’s new album will be the first review but again, some of the details are still being ironed out. The site keeps me very busy as it is with the constant updating of the calendar and you may have noticed some long gaps between posts on the site this summer. Those were mostly due to my free time simply being overwhelmed with the work I need to do on the site just to keep it up to date. Hopefully letting someone else post some album reviews will help break up those gaps between my posts. It’s kind of scary to me to give up some of the writing control as up to this point everything on DCHM (photos, videos, writing, reviews, concert listings, etc..) has been written or shot by me. But I’d like to see the site get even bigger and it is getting to the point that I simply can’t do it alone. Please don’t ask me if you can start contributing to DCHM, if I want you to do so I will ask you. I’m working on setting up a mailing address that local bands can send material to for review but nothing is final yet so you’ll have to wait for that info to be posted when it is solidified.

I’m looking forward to seeing DCHeavyMetal.com evolve into something even better than what it is now but it still takes help from you guys. If you’d like to kick a few bucks my way you can always do so via Paypal by sending any amount money to DCHeavyMetal@Gmail.com (or just clicking here). I promise to only spend the money on things related to the site, and maybe beer. But most of it will definitely go to things like hosting, concert tickets, upgrades to my cameras for concert photos, and restocking merch. Even if ya can’t help out financially helping spread the word to your metal head friends always helps too. Thanks to everyone for making the past three years the most metal three years of my life! Keep it heavy and remember, support the scene you’re a part of!