2010 Recap, 2011 Preview

2010 has been a hell of a year here for this blog. It’s been the first full year I’ve had this site going, and it’s been getting bigger and better! I’ve reviewed 32 area concerts this year, all with pics and videos. I got a new camera this fall and am finally shooting with a Nikon DSLR to get better pics on DCHeavyMetal.com This December I’ve held the site’s first two contests, giving away tickets to a couple metal shows at the 9:30 Club. There will be another in February giving away tickets to see Apocalyptica for their stop there in March. I tried getting two interviews on the site, but apparently I’m not good at getting people to talk to me when they say they will. Maybe I shall try this again in 2011. I did manage to get the Downloads page up and running, lots of free local metal there for anyone to try listening to. I also had one of my posts picked up on Blabbermouth (and a few other news sites). I had Ozzy post the link to one of my videos on his Facebook and Twitter pages, and even found myself quoted on Wikipedia. Most of all, I have gotten a hell of a lot more support from people than I ever thought I would, and the readers of this site have kept me motivated to keep working on it. I do everything on here myself, writing reviews, shooting photographs and video, buying concert tickets, updating the calendar and other pages, but it’s all worth it to help support the metal scene in the area here.

Speaking of which, the metal scene here has also had a great year! The first Blood & Fire Fest really kicked off a wave interest in local metal acts in the area. Many venues are holding regular metal nights, the State Theatre in Falls Church, Balls Bluff Tavern in Leesburg, So Addictive Lounge in Herndon, the Ottobar in Baltimore, and we’re also starting to see more and more metal shows at venues that never really had them before. The Velvet Lounge has been hosting more metal gigs, often of local acts. Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Vital Remains and Devourment played the Rock & Roll Hotel for what was by far that venue’s heaviest concert ever. Bourbon Street in Baltimore has been booking a lot more metal acts, and I saw Slayer and Megadeth at the 1st Mariner Arena, their most metal show in a long time. Hell, even Ozzy showed up on the National Mall for the Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear. There’s also been a few local acts that are really starting to get noticed outside of the area, Salome and Periphery both had very good years by putting out great releases that have really gotten them widespread attention. Also, Ilsa was recommended by Fenriz of Darkthrone on his metal blog (here) this year too. All these things show that metal is on the upswing in general and in the DC area in particular. Sadly, it wasn’t ALL great news though. The very talented local doom band Ol’ Scratch broke up, which sucks. There was that rather ridiculous incident at Maryland Deathfest where the bass player for D.R.I. got on stage during Watain‘s set and was swiftly taken down by the members of the band, mid-song. And for some reason when local grindcore act Magrudergrind had a free album put out that was sponsored by Scion, everyone called them corporate sell outs and they seemed to get a lot of heat for that. Not really sure why people are complaining about getting something for free, who gives a shit if a car company put their logo on it, it doesn’t change the music. There was also the incident at DC9 after an Agnostic Front concert this autumn that left someone dead, allegedly at the hands of DC9 staff. I’m not sure what happened there at all, the police seemed to have announced information to the press before it was even verified, and that seemed to put the Ethiopian community into a frenzy. I just hope the best for the club and the family of the victim. Lets hope nothing like that happens in DC again in 2011. On a more positive note, we did see the merging of the two venues The Red & The Black with The Palace Of Wonders to create the new Red Palace. This new space has really opened up and is a great place to see a show, hopefully they’ll book more metal gigs too.

In the overall, non-local metal scene, there were a lot of great albums, too many for me to even attempt to get into all of that here. And I don’t do those year end best of lists because they’re arbitrary and you can make up your own mind about what albums kicked ass this year. However, there were some interesting stories in the world of metal in 2010. I think the biggest story was that the big four of thrash, Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, shared the stage together for the first time. Unfortunately, these concerts were all at festivals in Europe. It would be cool if they toured the US together, though Slayer Megadeth and Anthrax already did in 2010. There were several bands who released their first album in a long time this year, some being better than others. Fear Factory released their first album in 5 years, Mechanize, after an awkward break up period. The Crown got back together and put out their first album in 7 years, Doomsday King. October Tide put out A Thin Shell, their first album in 11 years. Atheist, who has been reunited and touring for a couple years now finally put out their first album in 17 years titled Jupiter. And of course there was the Autopsy reunion at Maryland Deathfest in May. This lead to their first release in 15 years, an EP titled The Tomb Within. It’s pretty awesome and has everyone excited about the full length that is supposed to be coming out in 2011. We also saw Decapitated tour the US again this past year, the first time since their awful bus wreck in 2007, though the band has only one of the members from before the accident left. There were two albums put out by so called black metal super groups this year, The Underworld Regime by Ov Hell as well as the excellent Monument To End Time by Twilight. There were several bands who called it quits this year, I think most notably Isis, Abscess and Xasthur. There are probably more that I’m not thinking of though. Unfortunately there were some deaths in the metal family this year, I believe the most notable were that of Ronnie James Dio and Peter Steele. There was also the story about Nergal of Behemoth‘s fight with leukemia and his successful attempt at finding a bone marrow donor match (more info here). It was pretty amazing to see how much he spread awareness of the need for bone marrow donors with his situation. If you told me a year ago that metal’s most heartwarming story of 2010 would involve Nergal I’d have called you an idiot, but here we are. I hope he has a swift and full recovery. There was also some overly dramatic bullshit that played out in the metal press, I think the biggest story in that category this year has to go to Mike Portnoy quitting Dream Theater to play drums in the unlikely choice of a band Avenged Sevenfold (later to be booted from A7X, ask for his DT job back and be turned down, more info here).

Looking ahead to 2011, I don’t know what the biggest stories will be, the best albums and tours, but I do know the biggest metal event in the area, hell all of North America, will be Maryland Deathfest IX in Baltimore in May. This year it expands to four days! Some of the highlights for that will be sets by Neurosis and Exhumed as well as the reunion of Coroner and rare appearances by various metal bands from around the world and from almost every metal sub-genre. There’s also Immortal coming to Sonar in February, their first area appearance in many years. The Black Cat will be hosting two metal shows in January, headlined by Jucifer and Kylesa. Pretty cool for a venue known for indie, punk and alternative music. The State Theatre in Falls Church will be hosting it’s first ever metal concert that’s not part of the regularly occurring Mandatory Metal series. That show will be King Giant headlining with Death Penalty and Throwdown Syndicate opening. The Flight Of The Valkyries Festival will be in Baltimore again some time in the fall and there should be the 2nd annual Blood & Fire Festival at some point this year too. Local doom legends Pentagram just signed with Metal Blade records and considering they were playing some new tunes the last time I saw them, they’ll probably have a new album out in 2011. So there are already a lot of things to look forward to in 2011 if you’re a metal head in the DC area.

Now I’d like to thank a few of the people who have helped me out and been especially supportive to me this year. Marie and Dave and Jaxx Nightclub, Alan Margazano and the State Theatre, Leila Regan-Porter of Ticket Alternative, TI and the guys in King Giant, Steve Miller of Loculus, all the guys in Apothys, Leah Potok at the 9:30 Club, Lars from Inverted Umlaut, and especially my mom, who not only helped me out with the new camera but has been really supportive of the site from the beginning. Check out her cool photography and Photoshop blog (here) if you’re into that stuff. And most of all thanks to all the readers of this site, the bands who have played shows and/or helped me spread the word, anyone who has bought a shirt or asked for a sticker or told a friend about DCHeavyMetal.com or bought me a beer at a gig. It’s you guys that have helped this site and this metal scene grow and that’s great because it’s you who the site is for. I probably forgot some people so don’t get pissy with me if you weren’t mentioned. This post took forever to put all these links in, so I hope you click a few you find interesting. I added a few of my favorite pictures (not used in previous posts) and videos from 2010 for your viewing pleasure. I’m hoping that 2011 will be an even better year for the blog and heavy metal in the greater Washington DC and Baltimore area as well, and I have a good feeling that it will.

Ozzy live from the 10th row! I always love seeing Ozzy.

First Autopsy gig in 15 years!

I shot the first footage of this brand new song by DK, first new song since 1986!

Entombed singer rips up a bible on stage in this one.

Incantation covering Black Sabbath in tribute to RJD

This was the first time Fear Factory ever played this song live

Division shredding out a killer Metallica classic at the State Theatre

Final song of the tour, the bands got crazy on this one

Apothys at Blood And Fire Festival, killer!

First US concert ever for Melechesh, I waited years to see them live!

2009 Wrap Up and 2010 Preview

First I would like to say that I’m not going to do an obligatory top 10 list of albums of the year nor decade. It’s rather pointless and I doubt anyone cares about my favorite albums of the year and whatever arbitrary numbering system I’d assign them. That said, there were a lot of good metal albums put out this year, and if you’re looking for some metal to check out that you might have missed (the real purpose of all those top 10 lists) here’s some for ya. A new Black Sabbath Heaven And Hell album, The Devil You Know, that had music as good as the cover art. I’m a sucker for anything with Tony Iommi on guitar though, so maybe I’m a bit biased. There were some stand out albums in various metal sub-genres, like Anaal Nathrakh‘s In The Constellation Of The Black Widow, PsyopusOdd Senses, Monoliths & Dimensions by Sunn O))), Shrinebuilder‘s self titled album, the unpronounceable ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ by Arckanum, the Blue Record by Baroness, Black Cascade by Wolves In The Throne Room, Winter Hours by Tombs, Dark Castle‘s Spirited Migration, Existence Is Futile by Revocation, Urgehal‘s Ikonoklast, Syrach‘s A Dark Burial, Hypocrisy‘s excellent A Taste Of Extreme Divinity, Milorg by Vreid and the totally underrated A Pyre Of Lost Dreams by Black Wreath. If you can’t find something new to check out from all that, well, you’ve got similar metal taste to me, congrats.

2009 also had some great come back albums, Unanimated‘s In The Light Of Darkness, Alice In ChainsBlack Gives Way To Blue, Immortal‘s All Shall Fall, Beherit’s Engram, Pestilence‘s Resurrection Macabre, Goreaphobia‘s Mortal Repulsion and Asphyx‘s Death… The Brutal Way all lived up to fan expectations (for the most part, can’t please everyone of course). I really liked the new sound Samael has on their Above album, not really a come back or return to form, but they are definitely worth listening to again after years of screwing around with an industrial sound. 2009 was a huge year for thrash. There were albums released by 80s thrash legends such as Slayer‘s World Painted Blood, Megadeth‘s Endgame and Kreator‘s Hordes Of Chaos which led the way for a neck spraining mob of newer thrash band releases such as Skeletonwitch‘s Breathing The Fire, Blood Tsunami‘s Grand Feast For Vultures, Warbringer‘s Waking Into Nightmares, Mantic Ritual‘s Executioner and Havok‘s Burn. And while it’s not a metal sub genre in and of itself, there were quite a few good instrumental albums out this year that I found myself listening to a lot, the self titled Animals As Leaders album, Russian CirclesGeneva, Pelican‘s What We All Come To Need, Dysrhythmia‘s Psychic Maps and Scale The Summit‘s Carving Desert Canyons are all worth listening to. There weren’t too many releases from the local DC metal scene this year, but there were some of note. There was a new album from Dying Fetus titled Descend Into Depravity, Hatred released Burning Paradise, Gravewürm released Funeral Empire, Ol Scratch released The Sunless Citadel, Magrudergrind released a self titled album and there’s also the previously mentioned Animals As Leaders instrumental album.

Now that’s not to say there weren’t any duds though. Without a doubt the biggest disappointment of 2009 had to be Reveltaions Of The Black Flame by 1349. This album is hardly even black metal any more, hell, there’s a fucking Pink Floyd cover on it. It was co-mixed by Tom Gabriel Fischer of Celtic Frost, which a lot of people seem to think was a big reason it stunk, but he wasn’t the one writing the songs. The record is uninspired, the songs are not well thought out and for a band with Frost, one of the best drummers in all of metal, they squander his abilities. I can handle bands trying something new and changing their sound, and I can deal with slower and more abstract music, but this let down of an album is up there with Cryptopsy‘s wet turd The Unspoken King and Metallica‘s self titled “black” album. Another disappointment this year was the Root Of All Evil album by Arch Enemy. I really like the older Arch Enemy material and was hoping this album would make newer fans more familiar with the pre-Angela songs, thus allowing them to add more of these songs to their live set. Sadly this album of re-recorded songs will probably not do well with newer fans because, honestly, it stinks. It’s over produced to the point of a loss of all emotion, energy or intensity. It sounds like a band just going through the motions like a bunch of robots. The new Suffocation album, Blood Oath, was a bit of a let down to me too. For a band that is known for having revolutionized the death metal genre, basically merging brutality with technical musicianship, their new album goes for a simplified, catchier sound that just isn’t on the same level as their older material.

Now lets get past 2009 and take a look at what 2010 has got coming up for us. Fear Factory has reunited with a new line up (including Gene Hoglan on drums) that could be interesting. Their new album is to be titled Mechanize and should be out in early February. The new black metal ‘super group’ of sorts, Ov Hell, has their debut album, The Underworld Regime, out in early February also. The Crown has reformed with almost all of the original members back, but they have a new guy on vocals, Jonas Stålhammar. Hopefully they’ll have a new album out this year (or at least tour). The infamous Varg Vikernes will have a new Burzum album, Belus, out in the spring, his first release since being released from Norwegian prison for the murder of Mayhem‘s guitarist Euronymous. Darkthrone was recording in the fall so they should have a new album out soon. Japan’s Sigh will have a new album out on January 19th titled Scenes From Hell. This will be their first album with their female vocalist/saxophone player, Dr. Mikannibal and I’m curious what this already bizarre sounding band will come up with next. Overkill will have their new album, Ironbound, out at the end of January. Greece’s Rotting Christ has a new album, Aealo, out February 15th. Borknagar will have a new album, titled Universal, out in late February. Early March will see the release of Dark Tranquillity‘s new album, We Are The Void (I guess the album cover artist is a fan of goatse). Catamenia says their new album will be out in the spring, and Watain says their new album will be out by the summer. The reunited Atheist said they would record their first album of new material since 1993. Autopsy is reunited so maybe if we’re lucky they’ll put out some new material too. Local band Misery Index should have a new album out in May and hopefully Modulus will make their newly finished album, Perfection Through Manipulation, available to the masses soon.

As far as metal concerts in 2010, the biggest story by far is going to be the festivals with the big 4 thrash bands all playing together, but so far these are just scheduled to be festivals in Europe. Of course everyone is hoping a tour with Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax will come to the states, maybe these European fests are just to test the waters, see how well the bands work together before they all decide on a true tour. The reformed Decapitated should make their way to the US to tour at some point (one would think). Hypocrisy has said they have gotten their US work visas approved so they should be setting up another tour soon. Surely several of the bands with upcoming releases that are mentioned above will be touring to support their new albums in 2010. There’s already several tours scheduled to come by the DC area, which you can find out about on my Upcoming Concerts page. The biggest will of course be the Maryland Deathfest in May but there’s still plenty of of good shows before then too. Of course venues like Jaxx and Sonar will have their share of metal shows coming to the area, but there are also some gigs coming to less likely venues in 2010, like the Black Dahlia Murder at the Rock And Roll Hotel and Jucifer at the Black Cat. Hopefully they’ll get good turn outs and the venues will continue to host more metal shows.

Thanks for having read through this marathon of a post, it’s almost done, you’re in the home stretch. I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I’m hoping I’ll still be running this blog and get to write another one of these year end wrap ups next year. I recently got rid of that ugly old logo but I still want to work on the site’s appearance more and possibly buy a URL to redirect to here so I can make like bumper stickers with an easy to remember web address that doesn’t end in “wordpress.com”. I’d also like to propose a resolution to all the other music bloggers, commentators, critics, etc… out there. Stop calling metal bands “the mighty”! Really, it’s stupid and half the time you say it about lame ass bands like “the mighty Dragonforce” or some shit. There’s plenty of adjectives to describe metal bands with that actually make them sound distinct from every other metal band on the planet, like brutal, technical, atmospheric, minimalist, energetic, grim, thrashy, etc… Seriously, stop it with “the mighty” crap unless you want to start calling every non-metal band “the pussy”. Come to think of it, that might actually be a pretty awesome trade.

Well, that’s about it. I probably won’t have another post until some time in January unless something interesting before then really needs a post about it. I will keep the Upcoming Concerts page up to date, and I’ll continue to keep an eye out for any new torrents for the Downloads page. I should be going to see Behemoth at Jaxx in early January so I should have a review of that up if nothing else before then. I guess if you’ve got any questions, suggestions or requests for things you’d like to see on DC Metal in the new year, or if you just want to tell me how much the site (or me) sucks, leave a comment below.