Metal Show Of The Week: Pelican

Who? Pelican
When? Saturday, November 2nd
Where? DC9 (map)
How much? $15 cash at the door or on Ticket Fly

I won’t lie, there’s a ton of great shows coming up in the next week (and beyond) on the DCHM upcoming concert calendar. Dying Fetus/Exhumed, Watain/In Solitude, Orange Goblin, Finntroll… but this week’s pick for metal show of the week goes to a gig that’s a bit more obscure. Chicago’s Pelican is headlining a show at DC9 (right by the 9:30 Club, Velvet Lounge, etc…) this Saturday, November 2nd, and if you don’t know who they are you should check come them out. They’re an instrumental band and they’re not particularly brutal by any means. In fact they’re often labeled as post rock, though they did play at Maryland Deathfest back in May. They’re not overly soft like some instrumental bands though, they’ve got some big riffs in there and they really jam out live. They just put out a new album, Forever Becoming, this month and I’m pretty excited to hear them play some material off of it, particularly the song Deny The Absolute.

Pelican isn’t the only band worth seeing on this bill though. Coliseum is from Kentucky’s punk scene though they’re not your typical punk band. Their songs are actually really well put together with riffs that are very catchy. When I saw Coliseum play a Deathfest after show back in May they were super energetic on stage and they should be a perfect warm up set before Pelican. Coliseum will also be selling tour posters for that look like this so bring a few extra bucks to snag one (or some other merch). There’s also a local punk band called Highway Cross opening the show. I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of them before but they remind me of Fugazi some. You can check them out here and be sure to listen to the tracks I’ve posted by Pelican and Coliseum below as well. I hope to see some of you at the show, it should be a lot of fun!

Review of Akris’s Self-Titled Album

Band: Akris
Album: Akris
Release Date: 24 September 2013
Record Label: Domestic Genocide Records
Buy from Bandcamp (digital) for $9.99: Here
Buy from Blue Collar Distro (CD) for $9.99: Here

Cover of s/t Akris release

DCHM album reviewer Grimy Grant gives us another album review, this time for the self titled release by Northern Virginia natives Akris. Usually I embed a couple of songs for you to listen to at the end of the post but the only place I’ve been able to find their music streaming is here at the Obelisk where you can stream the entire album. Try opening it in another tab and give it a listen while you read Grimy Grant’s review below.

Blasting their intense bass riffs out of Frederick, Virginia, Akris has released a full-length for 2013 named after themselves: Akris. Helena Goldberg performs the bass and vocals – you can see her on the Akris band page giving the mic due punishment. What comes through the headphones in this album is a bit of Burning Witch via riot grrrl – a kind of noisy, punk-y, jazz-y rock that “creates an avalanche of bass and drums, with a layer of celestial noise on top” (from their own bio). Metal Archives lists them as stoner/sludge metal but I feel that they strive for way more than just that. The fact that they have different “multi-instrumentalist[s] and noise provocateur[s]” in addition to a drummer, Sam Lohman, is a testament to their striving to be more than just drum-and-bass sludge metal. As further proof of their eclectic roots, they are listed under their Bandcamp as “noise rock”, “hardcore punk”, and “blues”, all of which are comparable to Akris’ sound but also different.

As cool as that may be, the experimental, compositional music of this album was hard for me to enjoy. Akris leaves a weird taste in my mouth – not a bad taste, just weird enough to not make me want to go back too often. The sound of Akris to me comes off as if they rushed the release of the album, resulting in a lot of technical glitches. “Fighter Pilot”, the opening track, starts with about 5 seconds of dead space followed by some confusing bass notes that changed the pace of the song several times. It may have been intentional but comes off as amatuer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – at times in the album I enjoyed the fuzziness of the songs – but it does cause some songs to leave a funky taste in the mouth.

The fuzzy, clunky bass is a kind of ode to punk and riot grrrl music. I mention riot grrrl only because Goldberg’s vocals remind me of Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna a bit. It also resonates similarly to Kylesa’s guitarist-singer Laura Pleasants. Goldberg’s voice alternates between lullaby-like harmonies and screaming on all of the tracks. Even so, while it sounds heavy – very heavy, in fact – the guitar riffs tend to be repetitive by the third or fourth track. Akris does better overall in the vocals department. Goldberg’s voice stays with me after every song as a beautiful but deadly thing, both harsh and melodic. In “Fighter Pilot”, after the bass settles down and her voice comes through clearer, it makes the song enjoyable, or at least easier to wrap my brain around.

Akris definitely does the job right for a sludge band by being utterly depressing despite having some rough edges. Every song, while ignoring the context, is a bummer. There’s a fascination with the spiritual and other-worldly going on, too. An example of this is in the track “Row of Lights”. Goldberg sings of how she “Went to the mountain/ To find my escape” which resulted in her looking into the sky and the moving stars. The imagery fits more with a sludge song and I liked the bass breakdowns despite it being a bit similar to the other songs. As in much of the album, there is a balance between the fierceness of Goldberg’s voice and the slowness of the bass. “Row of Lights” keeps that crazy funeral march of bass and drums just enough to keep my heart from racing too much. “Riverbed” creates a funeral bass riff coupled with a dual harmony from Goldberg. It’s a kind of darkened farewell song talking about how her “heart is broken, beneath the riverbed” followed by Goldberg screaming “what happened to us?/ Why?” in a kind of frustrated cry to the dark river she’s beneath. Despite the clunky bass it has a way of blotting out any happiness in the room and drives home its message. The unusual harmony and composition pay off in these songs well.

The flipside of the experimental noise is that it sometimes hurts the songs. The following song after “Riverbed”, “Vomit Within” has disjointed harmony along with some stranger lyrics that I wasn’t able to make too much sense of: “There is a place inside my head/ That opens up when I am dead” followed by mentions of a shadowy figure. Piecing together how the lyrics of this song play with the rest of the “Vomit Within” caused some head scratching. Is the opening and the “shadow” that Goldberg sings about what we’re vomiting into? The metal name of the song just clashes too much with the sweet singing for it to make sense for me. It’s also hard to follow at about four minutes into the song when a male voice joins her (possibly a member of Admiral Browning) and the song gets weirder and more disharmonious. I love weird stuff, don’t get me wrong, but this just rubbed me the wrong way. All the parts were there for a great song like in “Riverbed” but they just didn’t pace well and it sounds unfinished.

Akris would be a great live band and I’d love to see them perform. In the studio, there is too much thumping, rusty Sunn amp bass distracting me from the rest of the songs. There are moments I found myself nodding to the rhythm though, and I feel that the technical glitches would go forgiven in a live setting, particularly in a DIY venue. At Hole in the Sky, Corpse Fortress, or Girl Cave there were some great bands that took the experimental route. At those shows I remember descending into each house’s basement, someone turning the lights off, and hearing some blasting, out of this world noise. Those are happy memories and I feel transported to those basements when I listen to Akris. I don’t remember anyone, including me, caring about glitches or the content of songs – it was more about the moment. Time has made me a grown-ass man now so maybe that’s my problem with this (feel free to digi-hurl old man jokes/rotten tomatoes at my Twitter handle @jgrantd – I don’t get a lot of traffic on Twitter as it is). Akris aims at a higher goal of doing something compositional and creative with their work – something that I gather from their band bio on their page. While it’s hard to get into at times I still like how they are trying something new. And Akris should be commended for their bravery in doing the unusual without being afraid of occasionally sounding off.

Kvelertak ticket give away

Kvelertak at the Rock And Roll Hotel

The wild Norwegian band Kvelertak will be playing their first ever concert in the Washington DC area when they come to the Rock & Roll Hotel on Sunday, May 19th, 2013. The last time they headlined a US tour the closest they came to the area was Philadelphia so I drove up there to see them. They were totally insane live and well worth all the driving! I want to make sure as many people get to check this band out as possible so this week on DCHeavyMetal.com we’re giving away a pair of tickets to a lucky reader of the site. To enter just tell me why you want to go to this show in the comments section at the end of this post. At 5pm EST on Friday, May 17th, 2013, the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to get the free pair of seated tickets to the show. If I don’t hear from the winner within 24 hours then I’ll randomly pick another person to get the tickets, however please don’t enter if you know you can’t go. Be sure to enter with a valid email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, win or lose 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 can’t wait to see if you win the tickets, or the contest is already over when you read this, you can buy them for $15 from Ticket Alternative here.

Kvelertak is a rock/punk/metal band from Norway that packs every song with tons of high energy riffs. Hell even their transitions are catchy. They have found the perfect blend of rock, punk, thrash and even black metal and if you don’t get excited listening to these guys you might not have a pulse! They put on a great live show that you won’t want to miss and this show is a perfect chance for us in the DC area to finally see them live. All of their songs are in Norwegian but it doesn’t matter if you know the language or not cause music this great is the universal language! Check out the animated video of their song Blodtørst (which means bloodlust in Norwegian) posted below and watch the blood flow! Also on this tour is the Toronto based punk rock band Cancer Bats and the Savannah, Georgia sludge metal trio Black Tusk. The local support is provided by Black Clouds, a dark and moody rock band with a great light show. Now watch these videos by each band playing this show and give me your reason for wanting to go to this awesome show. It shouldn’t be hard to think of one!

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!

Hull at the Cellar Door

Last night I got to see the New York City based sludge metal band Hull play in the cramped basement of the Cellar Door in Annandale, Virginia. The show was epic, possibly the best show I’ve ever seen in a basement! The space there is very small and the bands are always right on top of the crowd, sometimes even IN the crowd. I heard someone ask one of Hull’s band members when the last time they played a room that small was and he answered that they never had. Local support for this show was Auroboros and Akris. DIY shows are great and we’re lucky to have some venues like this in our area to put these kinds of shows on. I felt lucky to be in attendance. I’m not going to do a full review of this show but I did take some photos of the last two bands that you can see in this post. Unfortunately I didn’t get close enough to shoot any of Akris. The photos are unedited with Photoshop or anything like that, you see them just as they came out of my camera, and you can click on any of them to see them larger. Stay metal everyone and until next time remember, support the scene you’re a part of!

Auroboros:

Auroboros at the Cellar Door

Auroboros at the Cellar Door

Tommy Parry of Auroboros at the Cellar Door

Rob Moore of Auroboros at the Cellar Door

Brian Blickle of Auroboros at the Cellar Door

Auroboros at the Cellar Door

Hull:

N. Palmirotto of Hull at the Cellar Door

S. B. Dunn of Hull at the Cellar Door

N. Palmirotto of Hull at the Cellar Door

N. Palmirotto of Hull at the Cellar Door

C. Laietta V of Hull at the Cellar Door

Hull at the Cellar Door

S. B. Dunn of Hull at the Cellar Door

S. B. Dunn of Hull at the Cellar Door

S. B. Dunn of Hull at the Cellar Door

Hull at the Cellar Door

Hull at the Cellar Door

S. B. Dunn of Hull at the Cellar Door

N. Palmirotto of Hull at the Cellar Door

Ben Bones’s Birthday Bash Ticket Give Away

On Tuesday, July 24th of 2012 there is going to be a birthday metal concert/party at the Red Palace for Ben Bones, the head of security at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Luckily Ben has some great musical taste as the night’s line up will be Balaclava from Richmond as well as locals Auroboros, Borracho and Above The Silence. You don’t have to know Ben Ben Bonesto go to this kick ass show though, you just have to be 21 or older. Since Ben is a friend of mine and I like you all so much, DCHeavyMetal is going to be giving away a free pair of tickets to this rare metal show at the Red Palace. All you’ve got to do to enter is leave a comment on this post telling me which of the bands playing you want to see the most (you can pick more than one if you’d like). Be sure you enter with an email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win, and as always I won’t put you on any email spam lists or anything like that. On Friday, July 20th, 2012 at 5pm EST I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all the valid entries to win the tickets. If you are under 21 please don’t enter because even if you win this contest they still won’t let you in the door. There’s more info on this show, including set times, on the DCHM upcoming concert calendar here. Also, the artwork with the woman on the sofa will be printed on posters that will be for sale at the show for about $5. [UPDATE: Turns out the posters will be given away for free upon entry, first come first served.] The artwork is by El Jefe Design, a local company who does great work. I’m pretty psyched for this kick ass line up and seriously, what else do you have to do on a Tuesday night? Get your ass out to this!

Auroboros

But wait, there’s more! This show is also the EP release show for my friends in Auroboros and the winner of the tickets will also get a free copy on vinyl that is signed by all of the band members as well as a digital download of the EP. The prize will be awarded at the concert so please don’t enter if you cannot attend. Even if the Auroboros guys weren’t friends of mine I’d recommend you pick this up because it sounds great! I pretty much have to mention that the band features ex-members of Baroness and Salome, but the pasts of its members isn’t what makes a band great. It’s the songs and Auroboros really comes through big on those. Check out the song Tired Grip from the new EP below and see for yourself. You can pick up the EP on vinyl from Australopithecus Records right here for $13 (includes a digital download) or get a digital copy in the format of your choice for just $3.50 from the band’s Bandcamp page here. Of course they’ll also have copies for sale at the show.

What the hell are you reading this for? Enter the contest by leaving a comment below!