How Atlas Brew Works became the most metal brewery in America

Back in September 2012 I was handing out flyers outside the Howard Theatre after Kreator, Accept and Swallow The Sun played a show there. As fate would have it there was another guy there flyering for a metal night event at the brewery he worked at. You guys know I’m always interested in metal related events in the area and so I quickly struck up a conversation with him. Little did I know at the time that I’d just met someone who would quickly become one of my best friends in both the local heavy metal AND craft beer scenes. That’s how I met brewer Will Cook. We quickly began working together to bring metal heads together over craft beer at events at Port City Brewery in Alexandria, Virginia. We couldn’t have bands play there but we did have people send in requests for metal songs to play over the speakers and I’d contact a bunch of the venues in the area to get tickets to upcoming metal shows to give away to people that showed up. These free events were a hit and we got lots of metal heads from all around the area to come bang their heads over pints. However, Will and I were always frustrated with not being able to actually host bands to play live. We did a few events at the Pinch to get around this, but it still wasn’t the same as having metal bands play at a brewery. When Will ended up working at Fair Winds Brewing in Lorton, Virginia, we continued the metal nights there and had bands like King Giant, Yesterday’s Saints and Gloom premiere new music at these events. The place was farther away than Port City though, which made it harder for people in DC or Maryland to get to the events. Then in 2016 Will began working at Atlas Brew Works in the Ivy City neighborhood of Northeast Washington DC and that’s when everything came together.

Flyer for the first metal night at Port City

I was excited when Will told me that Atlas was interested in continuing to host our metal night events. We held a few events there in 2016 but it was the DC Heavy Metal Holiday Party in 2016 that we decided was going to be the first time we tried to book actual bands at the brewery. We were still figuring things out and I remember giving away upcoming concert tickets at this show between bands. There was no stage yet so the bands played on pallets we stacked as a makeshift stage. Genocide Pact was the first band to play there and Gloom finished out the two band bill. The place wasn’t sold out but enough people showed up and paid to get in to the show that we saw that this was something that could work. Things started fairly slowly at first but when local concert promoters started booking shows there as well things really started to take off. Hasan of Ripping Headaches was the first to ask me about putting his own metal shows there and in April 2017 he put on his first of many metal shows at Atlas when Thantifaxath headlined the brewery. Hasan and other outside promoters like Jordo & Tommy of Crowbars Up, Evan from Perdition Booking/Maryland Deathfest, Adam from Savage Party and Mary from Shadow Woods Productions, and more recently Lauren from Homesick Promotions and Shamla from Metal Teresa Productions, (and probably others I’m forgetting) have all brought incredible bands to Atlas Brew Works since then, far more than Will and I could have done on our own.

Flyer for the first metal show at Atlas Brew Works

In fact, on June 20th, the Irish death metal band Zealot Cult will be headlining the 100th metal show at Atlas (details here)! There are other breweries around the country that have, and continue to, host metal shows. I’ve seen a few at Hardywood and Champion down in Richmond, and Three Floyds has metal bands play their Dark Lord Day festival every May, but I don’t think there’s another brewery in the country that can claim that they’ve hosted anywhere close to 100 heavy metal concerts. Not punk shows, not indie rock shows, not dude with an acoustic guitar in the corner doing covers shows, but actual brutal, loud, fast, heavy metal shows. That’s something really special we’ve got here in DC and I hope people realize how lucky we are to have something like this happening in our area right now.

Flyer for the Atlas Brew Works Benefit Show

Through all of this Atlas Brew Works has become a central hub for our area’s metal scene, the closest thing the DC area has to Brooklyn’s legendary Saint Vitus Bar. The staff has truly embraced the local metal community, not just to sell beer or fill the place on otherwise slow nights, but they actually enjoy being a part of the local metal community. It isn’t uncommon to see staff members wearing shirts of metal bands that have played the venue in the past and several of them are even in their own metal bands too. They treat the bands well even when turn outs are less than optimal and Atlas has put money into the venue for upgrades to the stage, the sound system and making sure they have all the necessary licenses and such as well. All of this is why I’m proud to plug the Benefit For Atlas Brew Works show going on this Saturday, June 15th, at the brewery. They’ve put a lot of money into supporting our metal scene so Hasan and the Crowbars Up crew has joined forces to put together another great line up for this benefit show that will let us all give back to the venue that has given our area’s DIY metal scene a home. The bands Blood Spore (death/doom) and Basilysk (death metal) are coming down from Philadelphia to play this show and two locals who have played Atlas a lot, Myopic and Foehammer, round out the bill. The suggested cash donation is $10 for this show and doors open at 7pm. Further details can be found on the Facebook event page for the benefit show here. This will be Atlas’ 99th metal show and I think it is definitely long past time we gave something back to the brewery. I hope to see many of you there, it’s sure to be another fun night at the most metal brewery in America!

Castle coming to Atlas Brew Works

This Wednesday night DC Heavy Metal is very proud to bring Castle to Atlas Brew Works for a night of shredding riffs and craft beer! Also on the bill is Faith In Jane and Witchkiss. You can check out the Facebook event page for this show here. I love booking at Atlas because they’ll have great beer on draft, the staff is totally into supporting metal, and of course Fred will be there with those tasty meaty and vegan tacos. I don’t book a ton of shows these days so when I go through the effort to do so I really try to get a solid line up. I think it is safe to say this line up is stacked! Here’s a little info on each of the bands so you can check them out before the show.

Castle is one of my favorite bands from the West Coast and I’m excited to bring them back to Washington DC. You may have seen the SF Bay Area based band at Maryland Doom Fest in 2018 and/or 2016, but this is their first DC show since they played the Pinch in 2015. They’ve got a killer new album, Deal Thy Fate, that came out in October and you can give it a listen/buy it here. They always put on a fun live show and I remember seeing how their high energy live show really woke up the audiences at both of their Maryland Doomfest appearances.

Castle – Evil Ways

Faith In Jane is is from Thurmont, Maryland, and they have been gaining a lot of fans due to their great live performances. Their psychedelic stoner jams will be a great fit on this bill. Be sure to listen to their album, Countryside, which they released in December.

Witchkiss is the opener from Hudson Valley, New York. They play a big, loud, atmospheric style of doom metal that will set the tone for the rest of the night. Be sure to check out their full lenght, The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes, released in March 2018 below.

Thanks for reading to the end of this shameless self promotion. I really am excited to see these bands live and I hope that if you can’t make it out Wednesday night that you at least take the time to check these great bands out.

Malokarpatan coming to Atlas Brew Works

Malokarpatan at Atlas Brew Works

This Friday, March 23rd, Atlas Brew Works is hosting another killer metal show. This time the headliner is Malokarpatan, a black metal band from Bratislava, Slovakia. Who the hell is Malokarpatan you ask? They formed in 2014 and released their debut full length, Stridžie dni, in 2015. Malokarpatan really started perfecting their sound on their sophomore album in 2017, Nordkarpatenland. The band starts with a more simplistic style of black metal that is based on a speed metal foundation reminiscent of bands like Venom and Midnight. Then they blend that with Slovak folk elements and the result is a truly unique sound. This show at Atlas is going to be a rare chance to catch them perform live in our area. Also on this bill is touring support band Negative Plane. They’re form New York and play a strange style of black metal that uses surf rock elements and somehow they pull this off without it sounding silly. Local support comes from Erlkonig, a Baltimore based black metal band that shares several members with Genevieve. The opening band is Voarm, a black metal band that has a more traditional sound. Despite the show being at a brewery it is open to all ages. There’s more info on the Facebook event page here. So come out this Friday night and check out a unique black metal show at Atlas Brew Works!

Malokarpatan – V okresném rybníku hastrman už po stáročá vyčína (In the provincial pond, a water goblin has been raging for centuries)

Negative Plane – Angels of Veiled Bone

Erlkonig – Demo 2017

Voarm – Dissolution Descension