Pagan Science beer release at Oliver Ales

Pagan Science by Oliver Ales

If you’ve ever wanted to day drink with Metal Chris of DCHeavyMetal.com (and honestly who the hell hasn’t wanted to?) then this Saturday is your chance! He will be at the Oliver Ales brewery in Baltimore this Saturday, October 15th, from noon to 5pm for their release of the Pagan Science double IPA. As usual Metal Chris will have some metal concert tickets to hand out, including pairs of tickets to see Helmet (on 11/7) and Napalm Death, The Black Dahlia Murder and Pig Destroyer (on 11/13) both at the Baltimore Soundstage! Best of all the event is free to attend and it costs nothing to enter to win the tickets!

So what exactly is this Pagan Science beer you ask? It is an 8.5% DIPA showcasing mosaic hops that is inspired by the sophomore album by the Austin based doom/psych band The Well. The album Pagan Science is released this Friday on Riding Easy Records, then the beer Pagan Science is released at Oliver Ales on Saturday, and to top it all off The Well will be playing the Metro Gallery on Sunday! The event is free to attend so if you’re in the Baltimore area on Saturday stop by Oliver Ales, try the Pagan Science beer and if you’re lucky you’ll end up with a free pair of tickets to an upcoming metal show too!

Be sure to check out the Facebook event page here: http://www.facebook.com/events/168758763570900/

Give Pagan Science a listen right here!

Opeth and The Sword ticket give away

Opeth and The Sword at the Fillmore Silver Spring

The legendary Swedish prog metal band Opeth is touring with Texas based doom metal masters The Sword which comes to the Fillmore Silver Spring on Friday, September 30th, 2016! We’re so psyched to see these two great bands together that we’re giving away a pair of tickets to this very show to one of you lucky DCHM readers! These bands are from two very different subgenres of heavy metal so to enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite heavy metal subgenre is. From traditional to funeral doom metal to crabcore to brutal slam sci-fi tech death metal, any metal subgenre is valid as long as it is your favorite! On Tuesday, Sept 27th at 5pm EST the contest will close and I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Live Nation for $35 here.

Opeth have been one of the leading bands in the progressive metal world since they released their debut album, Orchid, back in 1995. The band’s 12th studio album, Sorceress, is being released on the very same day as this show. That means we’ll be some of the first to hear these new songs live, as well as some of the band’s older classics from throughout the years as well. But let’s not forget the opening act on this tour, The Sword. Normally a headliner in their own right, The Sword will be opening shows on this tour with their catchy brand of doom metal. It’s not every day you get to see two great bands from such different subgenres on the same bill so this is not a show to be missed. Check out these videos from the bands below and tell me what your favorite heavy metal subgenre is!

Opeth – The Wilde Flowers

The Sword – Lawless Lands

Opeth – The Grand Conjuration

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats ticket give away

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats at Howard Theatre

Labor Day has come and gone, summer is over and it’s back to the real world after a long weekend. Not everything sucks though! This Thursday, September 8th of 2016, the UK based stoner band Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats are playing at the Howard Theatre (details here)! For you loyal DCHM readers that check in regularly, we’re doing a short running 24 hour contest to give away a free pair of tickets to this show! To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite concert of the summer was. If you didn’t get out to any (what?) then you can tell me which concert you’re most looking forward to. At 5pm EST on September 7th, this contest will close and I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Ticketmaster for $20 here.

That’s right, this contest is only open for 24 hour so don’t wait to enter! Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats have never played in Washington DC before so if you’re into stoner and doom riffage with some good, old fashioned serial killer obsession thrown in you can’t miss this one. Also on the bill is the rockin’ Danava and the psychedelic The Shrine opening. Now check out these sick Uncle Acid videos below and tell me what your favorite concert of the summer was!

Mind Crawler

Run Away Girls

Melody Lane

Black Sabbath at Jiffy Lube Live

I’ve been to literally hundreds of concerts through the years but there has always been something special to me about seeing Black Sabbath play live. When the band’s final tour, dubbed “The End,” came to Jiffy Lube Live on Sunday, August 21st it would be the last time they would play in the greater Washington DC area. Black Sabbath are the fathers of the metal genre and my favorite band, but they’re also so much more than that. They’re one of the few bands that every time they play, no matter how many other people are there, no matter how close or far I am from the stage, I always feel like they’re playing just for me. They’re the reason I am a metal head today, and probably the reason a lot of you are too.

I have a lot of memories seeing Black Sabbath play Jiffy Lube Live (formerly named Nissan Pavilion) in the past. The original Reunion Tour, when Ozzy Osbourne rejoined Black Sabbath again, which I never thought would actually happen, started its US leg there back in 1997. That’s right, we were the first in the US to see Black Sabbath on the Reunion tour. That was one of the early Ozzfests and I got my first tattoo at that concert to commemorate the event, the letters O-Z-Z-Y on my left hand knuckles. Ozzy played a solo set with his band and then came out and did a full set with Black Sabbath right after, I’ll never forget it. The only original Black Sabbath member missing from that tour was drummer Bill Ward on drums, he was tied up with other touring commitments at the time. Ward did complete the original line up when he performed with the band in 1999 when Black Sabbath again headlined Ozzfest, a farewell tour the band called The Last Supper Tour. Despite this they came back to play for us at Jiffy Lube Live/Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia, again in 2001, 2004 and 2005. Black Sabbath was forced to change their name to Heaven And Hell when the late Ronnie James Dio returned on vocals, and this version of the band also played here in 2008 on the Metal Masters Tour. When Black Sabbath released their album 13 in 2013, their first studio album with Ozzy on vocals since 1978, they toured to support the album and again played Jiffy Lube Live. Now, on another final tour (which, judging by their ages, seems pretty likely to actually be their last this time), Black Sabbath once again played for us.

It rained earlier in the day but it let up in time for the tailgaters to start pre gaming in the parking lot. I missed the opening band, Rival Sons, because they weren’t even a metal band and really shouldn’t have been on the bill to begin with. At the end of their set I did hear them thank “Bristow,” I guess not realizing that very few people at the venue were actually from Bristow. When Black Sabbath finally took the stage around 8:45pm I was excited. Hell, who isn’t excited when their favorite band plays? The short intro video ended and that iconic opening riff to the song “Black Sabbath” immediately demanded everyone’s attention. I had pretty decent seats, in section 102 on the aisle on the Tony Iommi side. Not lower orchestra but still I had a pretty good view and I was right by the sound board. They played a great set of older classics, though they left some big ones off. No “Sweet Leaf,” no “Supernaut,” no “Electric Funeral” (despite the Shepard Fairey designed tour poster heavily quoting and referencing that song, I still bought one for $40 anyways). Nothing at all from the albums Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage. Most surprisingly, their set list didn’t include even a single song from 13. They did play a few songs that weren’t really hits such as “Dirty Women,” “After Forever” and “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” (including the Wasp intro). Every song on the set list besides “Dirty Women” came from the first four albums but it didn’t really matter what songs they played, the riffs just keep coming with Sabbath.

The band doesn’t have the energy on stage that they used to of course. Even when Ozzy played those back to back sets in 1997 (was it really almost 20 years ago?!?!) he had more energy on stage than he does now. He had trouble singing in key Sunday night and even flubbed a few lines here and there, most glaringly missing the classic “I am iron man” line at the start of “Iron Man.” The video monitors had a slight delay, and half the time they used so many psychedelic effects you could hardly tell what they were showing. Other times they focused way too much on Not Bill Ward drummer for hire Tommy Clufetos, the only “member” of the band nobody at the show had actually bought a ticket to see. His extended drum solo during the Bill Ward drum solo song “Rat Salad” seemed to be a slap in the face to Ward and his fans. Geezer Butler was great on bass, no surprise there, but it was nice to see the guy’s still got it. He was getting some sick tones out of that bass too. And Tony Iommi, even after all these years, mutilated fingers and battling back from cancer, he still plays everything so damn smoothly live. I swear he could play those songs just as well in the dark. There were still a few new touches he threw in, like the bonus intro part at the start of the band’s perennial encore song, “Paranoid.” There’s a reason he is nicknamed the riff master and the night’s set was a showcase of some of his most classic riffs played to perfection.

This wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen Black Sabbath, but it was a great show. It really had me thinking about all the times I’ve seen them before, all the people I’d seen them with and the different places in life I was at each time. Black Sabbath wasn’t the first metal band I liked, I already had a few Metallica and Megadeth tapes and the like when I traded for a copy of Black Sabbath’s best hits album We Sold Our Souls For Rock ‘N’ Roll, but that album is what changed me from being a casual music fan to a die hard metal head. While Black Sabbath played songs from that album I thought about the day I first listened to it, I still remember. And I thought about how cool it was getting to interview and then meet Bill Ward in 2014, certainly the number one highlight of my time working on this very blog. I was hoping the show would never end because I didn’t want to deal with the cold, hard fact that I’ll never get to see them perform live again. But reality has a way of always winning out and time waits for no man. After the show ended the band all took a bow and Ozzy’s daughter Kelly came out on stage and shot a short video of the audience still going wild. I talked to a lot of people before, after and even a few during the show. Friends old and new, strangers, people who knew me from this website, random people crammed in line next to me while we waited to buy merch, drunks in the parking lot, everyone there to see Black Sabbath for one last time (or maybe even their first time). I had a great time and yeah, I’m bummed that I won’t have any more great times at Black Sabbath concerts, but I’m grateful that I got to see the band that started it all perform one last time for us and just for me.

Thanks for reading this. Below I’ve posted a few videos I shot at the show. I didn’t have a photo pass and these were all shot on my phone. I think the sound quality came out pretty good though. I hope you enjoy them!

Black Sabbath – N.I.B.

Black Sabbath – Dirty Women

Black Sabbath – Paranoid

Baroness ticket give away

Baroness at Howard Theatre

Baroness is coming to the historic Howard Theatre on Friday, August 12th, 2016! They’re touring with the excellent doom metal band Pallbearer. and it is sure to be a killer show! We’re so excited about this show that we’re going to give away a free pair of tickets to one of you lucky DCHM readers. In keeping with the chromatic theme Baroness uses to name their albums, to enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite band or album with a color in the name is. At 5pm EST this Tuesday, August 9th, 2016, the contest will close and I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Ticketmaster for $25 here.

Baroness is one of those bands that has some pretty good records but gawdamm they’re great live. Despite half of the band departing after their tour bus crashed in 2012 (thankfully nobody died), founder John Baizley has managed to keep the band not only together but in top form live. Baroness released Purple in December of 2015 but they’ve yet to play any of it in Washington DC, that is until this show. And let’s not forget the mega heavy Pallbearer who are also playing this show. The band’s sound is just like what the name would suggest, bleak, slow and heavy. This is sure to be a great show that you won’t want to miss, on a Friday night no less! So let me know what your favorite band or album with a color in the name is (my choice is Black Sabbath, both the band and album!) in the comments below and check out these videos of Baroness and Pallbearer.

Baroness – Shock Me

Baroness – Take My Bones Away

Pallbearer – Watcher In The Dark

Review of The Pale Haunt Departure by Novembers Doom

Band: Novembers Doom
Album: The Pale Haunt Departure
Release Date: 8 March 2005
Record Label: The End Records
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XIV: 4:10 Friday at Edison Lot B

The Pale Haunt Departure by Novembers Doom

This review of an 11 year old album is part of our ongoing coverage leading up to Maryland Deathfest XIV. I let my writers pick an album by a band that isn’t as popular as some of the bigger names at the fest and write about it in the hopes of getting some more people interested in seeing them at MDF. DCHM writer Tal put together this thoughtful piece on Novembers Doom. You can see DCHM writer Buzzo Jr’s MDF pick here. Stay tuned as I’ll be posting the Maryland Deathfest XIV Survival Guide in just a few hours!

Although I love Novembers Doom, I find it really hard to listen to The Pale Haunt Departure, the Chicago based band’s fifth full-length album which came out in 2005. Pioneers of the death/doom genre, they actually started as a death-thrash band called Laceration in 1989, but by the 1995 release of their first full-length, Amid Its Hallowed Mirth, they had renamed themselves and changed to a trudging doomy sound, sometimes melodic but always dripping with despair. In the early 2000s they reincorporated a more energetic death metal sound, and now their current sound ranges from heavy riffs and growled vocals that sound surprisingly like Swedish melodeath, to lamenting clean vocals, morose guitar melodies and thick doomy riffs characteristic of their early albums. In terms of sound, I actually prefer 2007’s The Novella Reservoir, where they perfect the melodeath sound that they brought in on The Pale Haunt Departure. But The Pale Haunt Departure strikes an emotional chord for me which is hard to escape, no matter how painful.

The first Novembers Doom song I heard was “Autumn Reflection,” which remains one of their most popular songs to this day (all these years later, it’s still the third result in a YouTube search for Novembers Doom, with over 630,000 views as of this writing). I first heard this song when I was just starting my (still ongoing) recovery from post-partum depression, and my relationship with my young daughter was in shambles. The chorus cut me to me core:

I thank the heavens above
For the angel beside me today
The guardian of my sanity
The one who will save my soul

I thought, Damn. This is it. If I don’t get this right, the rest of life isn’t worth a thing. It hurt like hell but it also inspired me to keep picking myself up out of the mayhem and trying to be a better parent, when it was the hardest thing I could possibly do. When I found out in an interview that vocalist Paul Kuhr wrote the song about his own daughter, that only made it more poignant. I can’t believe he says he “catches shit” for writing this “weak” song, by the way. Emotionally I find it quite heavy, and it does have some musical heaviness too.

“Autumn Reflection” is probably the slowest song on the album, though, with no harsh vocals. It does feature some very distorted and heavy guitars during the chorus, a stark contrast to Paul Kuhr’s haunted vocal delivery. There’s nothing weak about those thick guitar riffs, which create a wall of gloom that Paul’s hopeful vocals try to surmount. Toward the end of the song, as Paul sings, “I am stronger now, since you came to my life,” the hopeful feeling prevails (mostly) with a melodic guitar bridge and piano segment that are at once sad and uplifting.

The song after this on the album, “Dark World Burden,” is quite a change, with fast, groovy melodeath riffage. As I alluded to before, The Pale Haunt Departure was the album where Novembers Doom added more of a death metal sound to their previous ponderous and contemplative doom sound. The album starts with this crisp, fast drumbeat and a churning, energetic riff—the eponymous first song is more death than doom, also featuring growled vocals throughout. Novembers Doom used harsh vocals earlier, but they were extra-low and drawn out doom vocals, whereas these are faster and more aggressive melodeath harsh vocals.

The second song, “Swallowed by the Moon,” has more of a slow moody sound with dramatic spoken vocals, although there are also commanding death metal growls. This is another song that seems to deal with failure in parent-child relationships:

Will you remember that I tried my best?
Will you remember the father I was?
Once again the daylight fades, and I’m swallowed by the moon
Will you look back and smile for me?
Will you remember me when I have gone?

The song isn’t completely slow, though–it’s more a mix of melodeath bits, growls and moments of faster heavier guitars, and doomy bits, a mixture that characterizes most of the album.

Prior to The Pale Haunt Departure, Novembers Doom had a lot of line-up changes, but around the time TPHD was released, things started to stabilize. They’ve since changed drummers and bassists, but the guitarists Larry Roberts and Vito Marchese have been with Paul, the only remaining original member, since the early 2000’s. Actually, according to another interview, Larry Roberts was apparently the driving force behind the band’s shift to a more death metal sound.

Most of the other songs on The Pale Haunt Departure have a strong death metal vibe, with fast heavy riffs and growled vocals, but they also have their doomy moments—ominous or despairing spoken vocals, darkly churning or melancholic or dreamy melodic guitars, the crushing but ponderous pace of “The Dead Leaf Echo.” Failure in relationships continues to be a theme, as shown by the chorus from that song:

All I can do, is look the other way, and pretend that your face held a smile.
Not to see your sullen eyes, staring past my soul, into the darkness of night.
I feel I’ve failed you, when we both know, I never had the chance, to say hello.

It’s not easy listening—for me personally, many of the lyrics on this album bring back the time when I was left alone with my daughter, the sinister specter of depression and the strain it has put on our relationship. But I think it would be worse to forget these things—to forget about the angel by my side, how far I have come and the work I still have left to do. I may have lost the paradise of my innocence, but salvation may still be possible. I hear it in the thick and doomy yet uplifting guitars in the last song on the album, “Collapse of the Falling Throe.” The lyrics, however, are much darker than the music would suggest.

And in spite my emotional turmoil, I’m stoked to see Novembers Doom at MDF, where they’re playing Friday at 4:10pm in the Edison Lot. Metal is not an easy listening genre; sometimes it can be quite horrendous. This wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been at a show and had difficult emotions come up. But the very reason doom appeals to so many people, the unique mix of heaviness and sadness that made Novembers Doom one of the foremost U.S. death/doom bands, is the cathartic feeling of facing your inner demon and being able to set it aside. Also, after years of fandom I’m stoked to finally get this chance to see the band live. Despite being from Chicago, Novembers Doom doesn’t seem to tour the U.S. much – they’re bigger in Europe and seem to spend more time performing there. If you’re a fan of heavy music with deep feeling then this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Autumn Reflection:

The Pale Haunt Departure:

Dark World Burden live:

Review of The Obsessed at the Black Cat

Last night, Friday the 13th of May 2016, the old school local stoner band The Obsessed “reformed” at the Black Cat to kick off their comeback headlining tour. This isn’t the same line up of The Obsessed that performed at Maryland Deathfest XI in 2013, only Wino remains from that line up. In fact until recently this version of The Obsessed had been the latest incarnation of Spirit Caravan. Dave Sherman stuck around on bass and shared vocal duties in this version of The Obsessed (he had only played with Wino in Spirit Caravan before) however this was drummer Brian Costantino’s first show with the band under either name. The Obsessed might more aptly be called Spirit Obsessed or some other similar mash up as their set list consisted of both Spirit Caravan and The Obsessed classics.

The opener for the show is a personal favorite of mine, Karma To Burn. They’re from the hills of West Virginia and play a very catchy style of rock/metal somewhere between desert rock and stoner with a big helping of that mountain folk twang added. They are almost exclusively an instrumental band and their songs are simply titled numerically in the order they are written. I’ve seen them several times and despite line up changes they were as tight as ever with those catchy hooks and riffs that go up and down all night. They were a great band to start this show off.

Karma To Burn

Karma To Burn

The next band was Atomic Bitchwax, a more traditional stoner band from New Jersey. People seem to go crazy for this band but I’ve got to say they were my least favorite of the night. They had some cool riffs and grooves throughout but the bass was really muddy and the songwriting didn’t put all those cool parts together as well as some bands do. Stoner metal isn’t the hardest music in the world to play so songwriting ability really sets the top tier bands apart, unfortunately these guys just aren’t there. They weren’t terrible though, they definitely had some energy on stage, but by the time they were done I was ready for something else.

Atomic Bitchwax

Atomic Bitchwax

That something else came in the form of this new version of The Obsessed. I had seen Wino and Dave Sherman perform as Spirit Caravan at Hardywood Brewery in Richmond, Virginia back in October of 2015. While I had a great time at the show they played for two hours plus and by the end it was just too much Spirit Caravan for anyone but the most die hard of fans. However at the Black Cat the newly dubbed The Obsessed played a much tighter set with more cohesion. The mix of songs by both bands was a cool change up and the set was about 1 hour and 10 minutes or so, keeping it from going on too long.

The Obsessed

Wino with The Obsessed

The Obsessed songs have a bit more energy than Spirit Caravan, some of the drum beats are almost punk rock in nature and many of the songs are upbeat. This makes sense considering The Obsessed was originally playing around the area during the rise of the DC punk scene. In fact it was Ian MacKaye that introduced Wino to the guys in Saint Vitus years ago. Anyways, The Obsessed played an excellent set that kept the audience hooked all night. I even got video footage of a brand new song, “Be The Night,” that Wino said would be on an upcoming album. Apparently the band has played this song as Spirit Caravan before but I guess it is one of The Obsessed’s songs now. I hadn’t planned on writing a review of this show but it was just too damn good to ignore. This was the start of a long tour for them, it was fitting that it kicked off here in DC. I left super pumped and I can’t wait to see them again.

The Obsessed

The Obsessed

I’ve posted a few videos below of The Obsessed (including the new song “Be The Night”) and at the end a photo of their set list.

The Obsessed – Be The Night

The Obsessed – Freedom

The Obsessed – Sacred (Spirit Caravan)

The Obsessed – Skybone

The Obsessed Set List

The Obsessed Set List 5-13-16