Every year here on DCHM we put together a year end post but instead of making silly lists attempting to linearly “rank” art I like to ask a bunch of the people involved in the Washington DC, Baltimore and Northern Virginia area’s metal scene two questions: what was your most metal moment of 2014? and, what was your favorite album of the year? The answers are as varied and diverse as the people that make up our scene. This is one of my favorite posts every year and I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. As we look forward to more incredible metal moments in 2015 take a few minutes to read about some of the best of 2014, and of course feel free to add your own in the comment section.
Kim Dylla runs the metal clothing business Kylla Custom Rock Wear but is probably best known now as Vulvatron, the new female member of GWAR.
Favorite album of 2014: Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry by Blut Aus Nord
Most metal moment of 2014: My most metal moment of 2014 would probably be breaking my rib on stage at the Baltimore Soundstage when GWAR played the last show of the GWAR Eternal Tour there on December 13th. It has been an insane honor for me to be a part of GWAR, a band that has meant a lot to me and are very close friends of mine, as well as this general area for many years. After a 52 date tour we got to close the adventure with this show in Baltimore and I was very excited because so many of my friends from the DC metal scene would be there. It was my first time performing in front of them in many years since the demise of my old band, and what a thrill to perform with GWAR! At the end of our set I battle Mr. Perfect and we defeat and dismember him. Some of his parts are soft and made of foam, others are structural stilts and made of hard fiberglass. I usually elbow drop and leg drop these parts for theatrical purposes, and let’s just say I aimed improperly with full force. I still had to sing one more song and somehow managed to power through it without much stage movement. When I finally went to the doctor and explained how I broke the rib I realized it was pretty fucking metal. Ironically he was a GWAR fan as well!
Kim Dylla performing as Vulvatron on Dec 13th in Baltimore
Aaron Deal is the bass player for one of Washington DC’s biggest metal bands, Darkest Hour.
Favorite album of 2014: Once More ‘Round the Sun by Mastodon
Most metal moment of 2014: I got lucky this year and got to play some of the biggest, best, and most metal venues in the DC area… Jiffy Lube Live, 9:30 Club, and Empire, in that order. I had never played Jiffy Lube Live before we did this summer on the Mayhem Fest tour, and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to play a venue with a name like that? But what made it especially metal for me personally was my bass. I got a couple of new basses from ESP during the tour, a sunburst one and a black one. I can’t really get into black guitars so I sent it off to a friend to have it repainted my favorite color, pink. When we got into town on August 3rd, the day of the Virginia show, I came home to pick up the bass from my house and played it that day and everyday since then. It has quickly become my favorite bass, but that show at Jiffy Lube Live was the first day I ever played it!
Chicken Man, aka Chris Penrod, is the guy you see at many of our area’s metal shows wearing a full body chicken suit while he crowd surfs and destroys the mosh pit.
Favorite album of 2014: Miserable by Bongripper
Most metal moment of 2014: My most metal moment of 2014 was seeing Eyehategod at the Pinch in DC on July 10th when Iron Reagan opened up for them. It was hot as ballsack with easily 200 people crammed in there. I knew it was metal as fuck when I went to crowd surf and as soon as I went up, I kicked the ceiling.
Sean Saley is the drummer for the legendary doom metal band Pentagram.
Favorite album of 2014: For Those Which Are Asleep by The Skull
Most metal moment of 2014: This is a tough one. One standout moment was how metal it got when all the punk kids came out. Pentagram played a show at American University in DC on to around 400 people on April 19th and, though it was a booze-free, all-ages show that was heavily promoted in the punk community, we could not have asked for a better reception and a crazier crowd. The front row was pushed halfway onto the (low sitting) stage, it was all beautifully intimate, and seldom have I ever seen heads bang harder. Truly a great show…
…But, honestly, I think my most metal moment for 2014 actually came very late in 2013. It was just so damned metal that the impression lasted well into ’14. My girl Annie and I headed to Baltimore in November to see Sweden’s In Solitude, who were opening for legendary black metal band Watain. After In Solitude’s set, Annie and I wandered over to the far end of the bar, an area that is separated from the backstage area by a heavy curtain. As we’re moving in to order drinks, a rank smell hits our noses like a brass knuckled fist. We looked at each other like, “What the fuck is that smell?” It, quite literally, smelled like everyone surrounding us simultaneously shit their pants. Just putrid. After a few minutes of wondering whether sewage was flowing from the bar taps, Watain took the stage and, mystery solved, as they brought two huge, ripe, well-past-their-expiration-date pig heads and splorched them down onto inverted crosses at either end of the stage- where they continued reeking up the whole place. After speaking with Sean “Pellet” Pelletier, US manager for In Solitude (and Pentagram), I learned that Watain had been carrying the two pig heads in their equipment trailer for two weeks and that show was the last night of the tour. He also told me that the smell helps them play better and enjoy the show more. Now that is fucking metal.
Blake Harrison is the knob twister and hype man for Pig Destroyer as well as the unofficial mayor of Baltimore.
Favorite album of 2014: Longhena by Gridlink
Most metal moment of 2014: My most metal moment this year was probably Gwar-B-Q and after the passing of Gwar vocalist Dave Brockie, we all knew this would be a special one. I picked up my beautiful traveling companion (whom I was courting) and we headed south, looking forward to the fun ahead. There happened to be an accident approximately every mile on 95 South, so weaving off and on between 95 and Route 1, we slowly picked our way towards Richmond. Finally, after 5 hours, we got to the Red Roof Inn that Pig Destroyer had stayed the previous year when we played, called some peeps and headed into Richmond proper to do some drinking and catching up. At Ipenema we ran into Rob and Frank from Metal Injection, Tony from Iron Regan/Municipal Waste/JRS (for all you old school heads), my buddy Mark and Jason from Suppression. After a couple more cocktails we piled in Mark’s car and headed to a house party where the main event was everyone drinking moonshine from a mason jar. After too much of this behavior, we called it a night and headed home to rest.
Arriving at Hadad’s Lake the next day, August 16th, I had one goal in mind: Meet Ice T. Nothing, I mean nothing, could deter me from that goal. I met up with friends, started hanging and drinking all the free beer we could, when a couple I had just met said “you want to meet Ice T? Come with me.” I had heard that Ice T was a Pig Destroyer fan, and after many failed attempts on security’s part to eject us, we photobomb-ed him and his crew and I said “Yo Ice, you ever heard of the band Pig Destroyer?” He looked up at me, and thought for a second and said “No, that’s a dope name though.” There was so much else going on that weekend, to list it all would be a boring read to most, but I got to see some killer bands, meet Tesco Vee and Dez Cadena, hung with Juan Garcia from Evil Dead, and other great friends, Travis, Jim, Tony, Jason, Rob, Ken, Jeanna, Ashley, Brett, Tannin, Dave (I still have the red mark where you slapped my chest… Fucker), Mark, Will, Rich, Alex, Andrew, and I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting, and last but not least Lindsey. What a great time, but fuck… Meeting Ice T? Now that’s metal.
Bobbie Dickerson is the promoter for Black Rose Metal Heart Promotions and co-founder of the Flight of the Valkyries metal festival.
Favorite album of 2014: Karma Sown by Iris Divine
Most metal moment of 2014: It feels like 2014 has been one incredible metal moment after the next. I dubbed the Iced Earth, Sabaton, ReVamp, and A Sound Of Thunder show at Empire on April 21st the “Holy Shit Everyone Is Here” show. The bar was packed with literally everyone from our local scene and I was constantly running into friends every time I turned around. Every band on the bill was incredible! Plus I got the opportunity to rock out watching Iced Earth from the green room upstairs overlooking the whole bar. May 30th brought one of the best attended shows I put on this year, the Face Melting Friday: Drink Your Face Off edition with Sekengard, Dogs & Day Drinkers, Testosteroso, Cab Ride Home and Ralph wasn’t just a show, it was a full on party! On October 14th I brought Betrayer F.T.M. (from Colombia) to Baltimore. Despite it being a Tuesday night (notoriously the worst night of the week for shows), the turnout was really good and the camaraderie among Betrayer F.T.M., Visceral Violation, Metanium and Gateway To Hell made the night all the more memorable! The guys from Betrayer were having such a great time, they signed the door to the Sidebar in silver sharpie before departing. Finally winning tickets to and meeting Devin Townsend at Ram’s in December was a huge metal fangirl moment for me and definitely a highlight for 2014. That man is just amazing! Too many great memories this year to pick just one!
Steve Jones is the brewer at Baltimore’s Oliver Brewery which makes, among other tasty beers, the officially licensed beers for the doom band The Sword including Winter’s Wolves and Sea Of Spears.
Favorite album of 2014: The Conjuring by Wo Fat
Most metal moment of 2014: 2014 was a great year… I got to see some great gigs including childhood heroes such as Judas Priest, Kiss and Raven. Hooked up with the amazing Wo Fat and brewed The Black Code and Noche del Chupacabra in their honor and of course continued our relationship with The Sword. If I had to choose one “event” it’d be the sold out show by The Sword at the Rock and Roll Hotel on February 21st which we jointly “sponsored” with our friends at DC Brau. The Sword were the band that got me back into metal when I caught them live at Ottobar in 2006. Nothing gives me as big of a thrill as having “Winter’s Wolves” pouring at a Sword show. I got to the venue early to set up and got to hang with the band and watch the soundcheck. The whole pre-show vibe was great, so many of my friends were meeting up before the gig. The show was an ass kicker… I was down in front sweating my ass off and seriously, nothing beats having a pint of Winter’s Wolves in hand when the first chord of that song rips your face off! Magic!
Steve Jones (right) with Kyle Shutt of The Sword
Richard Johnson, aka The Grindfather, is the main man of the Northern Virginia based grindcore band Drugs Of Faith and he also runs the ‘zine turned blog Disposable Underground.
Favorite album of 2014: Longhena by Gridlink
Most metal moment of 2014: I’ll go with the experience of folks appreciating a Godflesh cover my band did for a tribute compilation. This was before the new Godflesh full-length album (which has appeared on several best-of-2014 lists) hit the shelves, but the song we picked was off the last record Godflesh did before they broke up, Hymns. We only played it live twice, once in Baltimore, MD, and once in Richmond, VA. A person at each gig came up to me after we played and said, “Cool Godflesh cover.” It’s a cliché, but that made rehearsing the song and playing it live worth it. Although the boys in Godflesh distance themselves from being categorized as metal, I’ll call this my most “metal”
moment of 2014!
Matt Rice is the frontman of the local metal band Yesterday’s Saints.
Favorite album of 2014: The Satanist by Behemoth
Most metal moment of 2014: Mayhem Fest seems to be an annual staple for me and this year the band my friend Andrew Grevey plays bass in, Wretched, was on the tour. I was talking to Andrew on my way to Mayhem Fest’s Jiffy Lube Live stop on August 3rd and he asked me to help them set up the official after party that Wretched was responsible for throwing that night. I went into scramble mode to help them get a Karaoke DJ for the “White Trash Karaoke Party” and with literally minutes to spare I secured “Super Dave” from Manassas to come do it. The party went on as a great success and despite bearing witness to Lonestar of Darkest Hour singing “Mr. Roboto” cross-dressed up as a drunk and pregnant trailer hooker was quite a spectacle, the most metal moment came as the party was winding down. I was talking to George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, vocalist of Cannibal Corpse, about singing Karaoke. I had been given heads up that George likes singing Hank Williams III songs and I tried to get Super Dave to bring some for George to belt out. George told me that would have been great but he also would have enjoyed doing some John Denver too. Then George began to sing, with a clean baritone voice, a John Denver song to the few of us still there. He really has a nice, clear, powerful (yeah imagine that) voice. That was pretty amazing and my most metal moment of the year: Corpsegrinder singing a John Denver song.
Lauri Lindqvist is better known as DCHM album reviewer Tal around here although you can read more of his writing on his blog In My Winter Castle.
Favorite album of 2014: Hymns for the Broken by Evergrey
Most metal moment of 2014: This year, I came out as trans, started using a different name, and asked people to start calling me “he” instead of “she.” One of the first places where I transitioned socially was within the metal scene, because that was one of the places where I felt most at home and most comfortable in my masculinity, and also because as a trans guy with waist length hair, it’s pretty much the only place I can pass easily.
On October 7th I went to see Within Temptation at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore. I was there with another trans person who was soon to become very important in my life. I had considered WT’s 2014 album, Hydra, a transition soundtrack of sorts because so many of the songs spoke to the fears and triumphs of someone taking the risk of really being their true self, and so headbanging to those songs in a live setting with a transgendered friend at my side was incredibly meaningful. But then, Sharon den Adel (WT’s vocalist) made the night, when in introducing “Stand My Ground,” she came out in support of LGBT rights. She talked about how things are changing in the world and then said that people should be whoever they want to be, “gay or straight or whatever you are, whatever religion…” It gives me chills even now thinking about it – it was such an empowering moment. It may well have been the first time a major international band took a stand on the stage in support of LGBT rights – it was certainly the first time I heard such a thing. Not only that but as vague as “whatever you are” is, it is also open-ended and inclusive. The variety of sexual orientations and gender identities only starts at gay, straight, and trans – there are infinite variations, and I like to think that Sharon’s words were intended to include and support all of us, whatever we may be, however we may identify.
Maybe best of all, the place broke out in wild cheers at her words. It was so amazing to know that the metal scene – here, and in international bands like WT – has got my back, and those of all my LGBT friends and family.
Hydra was tied with the album above as my pick for album of the year, and I could just as well have told the story that goes with Hymns for the Broken as my most metal moment. But I decided WT’s story was a bit better, and that the other album that spoke deeply to me and got me through some tough times should be honored as my favorite album of the year.
Metal Chris is, well, me! I’m the main writer, editor, calendar updater and dark beer drinker of this very website, DCHeavyMetal.com
Favorite album of 2014: The Living Ever Mourn by Nightfell
Most metal moment of 2014: I’m not one to get star struck too often but when the opportunity arose to interview original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward for DCHeavyMetal.com I’ll admit I was taken aback a bit. Not only did Black Sabbath birth heavy metal but they’re also my favorite band. On May 9th and 10th Bill Ward came to Annapolis, Maryland to exhibit an art project he was involved with, one that incorporated his drumming but in a visual medium. In addition to being a metal head I’m also a big fan of artwork so this was the perfect opportunity for me to land the interview to help promote the project to the area’s metal heads. I did a ton of prep work, carefully crafted tons of questions, recorded the interview and did a massive amount of editing to remove all the ums and stutters we both made. In the end it all paid off, the interview was my best to date and it was picked up by several major heavy metal news outlets like Blabbermouth and Loudwire. All of that was great and all but the best part was getting to meet Bill Ward at the art exhibit and somehow convince him to wear a DCHeavyMetal.com shirt, the one that parodies the Black Sabbath Vol. 4 album cover. Not only was this my most metal moment of 2014, but probably the most metal moment of my life! I’m not sure how I’m ever going to top that one!
That’s me (right) with Bill Ward of Black Sabbath