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 Awake by Lord

Band: Lord
Album: Awake
Release Date: 18 March 2016
Record Label: heavy Hound Records
Buy on CD ($9.99) or digital ($7) from: Bandcamp

Awake by Lord

Lord is a local band that I’ve been a fan of for some time here at DCHM so I’ve been excited we’re finally getting more songs from them. The following review is from DCHM writer Buzzo Jr who certainly has his opinions about the release. Be sure to give the songs a listen at the bottom of this post.

The Fredericksburg, Virginia, based stoner/sludge outfit Lord returns with their newest full length album Awake, following up their sophomore release Chief from 2011. The band has seen a few lineup changes in the past five years; with drummer Steven “Sven” Sullivan being replaced by Kevin Marimow, and Helena Goldberg (also of Virginia stoner/sludge band Akris) handing bass duties over to Chris Dugay. Lord’s third full length outing has them sticking with the familiar southern sludge they’ve been known for.

In a good amount of cases, an album’s production can be the key element that will make or break the listening experience. Lord’s newest full length is unfortunately a prime example of the latter. Awake has all the elements necessary to make a great sounding stoner/sludge album, but all of those elements are muddled by the album’s overall audio production. The first thing I noticed about the production was how raw it was. Now, raw production can work very well for sludge metal in some cases. Bands like New Orleans’ Eyehategod and England’s Iron Monkey utilize raw production to accentuate the harsh and nihilistic feel of their music. But with sludge bands like Lord who incorporate more melodic and psychedelic elements into their sound, an extremely raw production on the album will negate any of the effect they may have been going for. The guitar and the bass are the first two casualties of this. The riffs on all of the tracks lack a great deal of the punch that they had on Lord’s first two albums which is disappointing seeing as they had the potential to be absolutely crushing if not for the way the mix drowns them out, and the bass lines are almost inaudible for a majority of the running time. The guitar solos also take a hit; with all of the melody and feeling of them sapped away by how muddy the end result is. The drumming suffers from similar issues, with the pounding drumbeats we heard on their first two albums being replaced by a heavily muffled sound that really takes away from the overall experience. It’s definitely not as bad as Lars Ulrich’s tin can monstrosity from Metallica’s St. Anger album, but it’s definitely not the best I’ve heard from Lord.

The element that is most negatively affected by the raw production are Steven Kerchner’s vocals. The vocals on Awake alternate from multi layered mid ranged howls, low grunts, and high pitched screams. A glaring difference from the previous album Chief is the lack of the clean and melodic vocals that former member Helena Goldberg supplied; giving a contrast to Kerchner’s harsher vocal styles. The variety of Kerchner’s vocal deliveries is unable to overcome the fact that for most of the time the vocals on the album are drowned out by the other instruments and the raw haze that the production puts on the record. Out of all the vocal styles that Steven alternated between, his high pitched scream is actually the one that ends up sounding the best, due to it being the one that was able to cut through the rest of the instruments and become fairly audible in comparison. The one track on this album that did stand out to me however was “The Great Communicator;” an all acoustic track that showcases a great deal of southern influence in the guitar playing, along with a great vocal performance that sounds much better than on any of the other tracks, mostly due to the fact that there are fewer elements in the song, thus allowing the echoing vocals to create a hazy atmosphere that resonates along with the bluesy strumming of the acoustic guitar. “The Great Communicator” is a standout example of the potential the rest of Awake had, and hopefully they can learn from this and release a much better record next time around. However, I am very interested in seeing these songs performed live, as it’s likely that they will translate far better in a live setting. I’m sure “The Great Communicator” will be a great track to bust out at the midway point in the live show to bring in a more mellow tune. [Editor’s Note: Lord will be playing in Fairfax, Virginia, on Saturday, May 14th. Details here.]

Third time is unfortunately not the charm for Lord’s newest release, and if you are looking to get into them I would recommend that you start off with their Chief album instead (get it here). Here’s to hoping that Lord go back to the great production of their second album and give us a quality fourth release in the future.

Review of Arc by Agoraphobic Nosebleed

Band: Agoraphobic Nosebleed
Album: Arc
Release Date: 22 January 2016
Record Label: Relapse Records
Buy on CD ($11) or digital ($6) or vinyl ($19) from: Bandcamp

Arc by Agoraphobic Nosebleed

Locals Agoraphobic Nosebleed have been very active lately. They recently started performing their first live shows at various festivals around the world (including their first ever live performance at last year’s Maryland Deathfest). Now they’re working on putting out a series of EPs that each feature a different band member’s musical tastes. When I heard the first of these was going to be a slower, more sludgey album I knew that DCHM writer Buzzo Jr would be perfect to review it since he is a fan of both grind and sludge metal. What follows is his take on the first studio recording of this new era for Agoraphobic Nosebleed. And don’t forget to stream a track from it at the end of this post!

Grindcore legends Agoraphobic Nosebleed have been delivering hyperspeed audio assaults fueled by manic riffs and machine gun tempo drum machines since the early 90’s. The band have since experimented with harsh noise, power electronics, and crossover thrash. Their experimentation continues with Arc, the first in the series of EPs the band is releasing that will each have a separate style representing a different member’s musical taste. Driven by vocalist Kat Katz, Arc is definitely a major departure from the ultra fast grind/crossover style Agoraphobic Nosebleed is infamous for, and instead is a slow, heavy, 3 song slab of sludge metal. If this was your first time listening to them, I’m pretty sure you would be quite surprised to learn that this is the same band that released Altered States of America; a frantic 100 song EP clocking in at only 20 minutes.

Arc gets the ball rolling with “Not a Daughter,” a relentlessly groovy track that at some points sounds almost upbeat with its swaying, southern feel. I don’t think anyone has ever dared to use the term “catchy” to describe an Agoraphobic Nosebleed song, but I’ll be damned if I can find a better description for the bluesy, pulsating riffs that guitarist Scott Hull unleashes here. Hull, also of local grindcore band Pig Destroyer, has flirted with slower, doomy material in the past on some Agoraphobic Nosebleed tracks and with Pig Destroyer’s Mass & Volume EP, but on this album it seems as if he’s actually been in at least 3 secret sludge bands. The riffs here are something I would expect from seasoned sludge veterans like Jimmy Bower of Eyehategod or Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins. The mid paced grooves of “Not a Daughter” soon give way to the next track, “Deathbed.” Any sense of slight optimism that may have been heard in the first track are now all but gone, with the pace coming to a slow dirge that creeps along with a spiteful sonic intensity. Agoraphobic Nosebleed has always been instantly recognizable for their use of incredibly fast drum machine blast beats, giving their early releases an almost machine like feel to them. Scott Hull’s programming skills have vastly improved throughout the years however, and on Arc the pounding drumbeats feel completely organic; at times I almost completely forgot that Agoraphobic Nosebleed didn’t have a drummer. The methodical pace of the drums on this album show that Hull definitely knows what he’s doing. Hull also handles the basswork on all of the tracks, and while not as exceptional as his guitar work, the flowing basslines on all of the tracks provide a great backbone to the rest of the music. The EP soon comes to a close with “Gnaw”, a mammothly crushing track filled to the brim with slow, sinister riffs and tormented screams. Vocalist Kat Katz is front and center on this album, with her howling screams and low growls echoing along with Scott Hull’s brilliant guitar and drum work. Kat is no stranger to doom and sludge, as many will remember her amazing vocals from her time in local doom band Salome. While not exactly a replication of past work, it’s great to hear Kat’s amazing vocals alongside slower material once again. Apart from the major change in tempo and number of songs, another huge change that listeners will notice about Arc is the subject matter of the tracks. You won’t find any songs like “Dick to Mouth Resuscitation” or “Druggernaut Jug Fuck” on here. The morbid comedy of past Agoraphobic Nosebleed tracks are instead replaced with much more personal tone. The lyrics on Arc are all written by Kat Katz, and revolve around her dealing with the death of her mother who suffered from schizophrenia. The intense personal meaning in the songs gives even more weight to them; with the emotional severity adding to the bleak tone the album already conveys.

The band is planning to release the rest of the EPs later this year, and I’m pretty psyched to hear how they differ from this and all of the previous Agoraphobic releases. Those of you who were expecting just another hyperspeed offering of grindcore may be disappointed, but if you’re open to a band experimenting with vastly different musical influences, and are a fan of slow, Black Sabbath worshipping tunes, then this is for you. Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s Arc is a major departure from the sound we know them for, but it’s proof that experimentation can bring forth great results. For those still sad about Salome breaking up (myself included) this is a great way to appease your need for more local sludge driven by Kat’s peircing howls. Definitely give this album a listen and don’t miss Agoraphobic Nosebleed when they play their first ever local headline show at the Black Cat in May!

Black Label Society ticket give away

Black Label Society at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Zakk Wylde and his band Black Label Society, along with Phil Anselmo and Down, are coming to the Fillmore Silver Spring on Sunday, May 4th, and since this show looks so damn good we’re giving away a free pair of tickets to it! To enter: leave a comment on this post telling me which band at this show you’re the most excited to see! Also appearing with BLS and Down is Devil You Know and the Butcher Babies. At 5pm EST this Friday, April 25th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to receive two tickets to the show! 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 right now for $43 (after fees) from Live Nation here.

Zakk Wylde is best known for being Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist for many years but his personal band, Black Label Society has made a name for itself by following their motto: strength, determination, merciless, forever. Their acclaim is no surprise when you’ve got a guitar player as talented as Zakk is! But let’s not forget Down, the New Orleans band that Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo currently rages in. Their southern style of stoner/doom/sludge is a perfect pairing with BLS. Also appearing on the tour is Devil You Know, the Los Angeles based band featuring Howard Jones of Killswitch Engage on vocals. The opening support for this stop on the Revolver Golden Gods tour comes from the Butcher Babies. Be sure to check out these killer new tunes by all the bands playing the show and tell me what your favorite band on the bill is in the comments!

Black Label Society – My Dying Time

Down – We Knew Him Well

Devil You Know – Seven Years Alone

Butcher Babies – Smell A Massacre

Metal Show Of The Week: Agrimonia

Who? Agrimonia
When? Tuesday, November 26th
Where? Black Cat (map)
How much? $12 cash at the door or on Ticket Fly

Two DCHM posts on the same day? Well there’s a really cool show coming up on Tuesday and I just couldn’t let it go overlooked. That’s why this week’s Metal Show Of The Week is Agrimonia at the Black Cat on Tuesday, November 26th! Agrimonia is an excellent band from Gothenburg, Sweden that just put out their third full length, the excellent Rites Of Separation, last spring on Southern Lord Records. Although Gothenburg is associated with melodic death metal acts like At The Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity the band Agrimonia doesn’t fit in that category at all. They play a really dark version of sludge metal that has some energetic highs and heavy lows. Also on the tour is Take Over And Destroy (TOAD for short), a blackened sludge band from Phoenix, Arizona. They’ve got an old school sound with some catchy riffs and you’re going to want to be sure you get there early enough to see them too. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that there are any locals on this date of the tour. So head on over to the Black Cat and check out Agrimonia before you travel the next day (or await visitors) for Thanksgiving. Please note that this all ages show is in the downstairs back stage of the Black Cat and NOT the upstairs main stage. I’m keeping this post short today but be sure to check out the songs below, they’ll surely do more convincing that I can with words!

High On Fire Ticket Give Away

High On Fire

High On Fire headlines a killer line up at the Rock & Roll Hotel on Tuesday, November 12th and because DCHeavyMetal.com loves getting people out to great shows like this one we’re giving away a pair of tickets to the show! To enter just tell me which band playing the show you want to see most, and why, by leaving a comment on this very post. At 5pm EST this Friday, November 8th, a winner will be chosen 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 Ticket Fly for $20 here. Now a bit more info on the bands.

Oakland’s High On Fire was started by guitarist Matt Pike shortly after the break up of his previous band, the legendary doom band Sleep. Don’t think High On Fire is all doom and gloom though, their sound is more high energy with catchy sludge riffs. Also on tour is Kvelertak, a favorite band of mine that blurs the lines between punk, black metal and rock and roll. Plus they put on one of the wildest shows you’ll ever see. Kvelertak is from Norway and their song lyrics are all in their native tongue but it doesn’t matter if you know what they’re saying or not because they bring killer riff after killer riff! Music is the universal language after all. Opening up this leg of the tour will be the Doomriders. This Boston based band is led by Nate Newton (also of Converge and Old Man Gloom) and they really shred. You may be noticing something tying all these bands together: they all play some sweet riffage! This show is going to be crazy and there is literally nowhere else better to be on a cold Tuesday in November. Now check out these awesome tunes by the bands below and let me know which one you’re most excited to see at this show.