2012 Recap, 2013 Preview

2012 has been a hell of a year here at DCHeavyMetal.com, in the area’s metal scene, and in the world of metal overall. As usual around this time of year, I like to make a post with a wrap up of the things that have gone on throughout the year, or at least those that I can remember. This year has been DCHeavyMetal.com’s best year by far for site traffic and numbers, and that is all thanks to you who keep reading this site and telling your friends about it. DCHM requires a lot of my time, and I don’t get paid for this, so if you want to donate some beer/camera gear money to me you can do so via Paypal (even if you don’t have a Paypal account) by going here.

In 2013 I’m planning on overhauling the venues page to have totally updated and more detailed info, and have it look more like the upcoming concert calendar. And be sure to check out more upcoming album reviews from DCHM’s new album reviewer, Sniper Dan. I’ve already got my 4-day all inclusive ticket to Maryland Deathfest, so keep an eye out for me there in May. Of course this year the Washington Post Express Night Out asked my opinion on the 2012 installment of MDF here back in May. In February 2012 the Washington City Paper wrote an article about me here. I had some of my photos appear in places besides DCHM this year too, including my photos of Ghost, Mastodon and Opeth at the Fillmore in the DCist here and my shots of Slayer, Motorhead and Anthrax from this year’s Mayhem Fest at Jiffy Lube Live in the Vinyl District here. However, nothing was as awesome as seeing one of my photos of Cannibal Corpse on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC during their coverage of the RNC in Tampa. You can see that at 4:52 into the video clip posted here. I seriously doubt there are many heavy metal concert photographers that can list political news channel MSNBC in their publishing credits!

In 2012 a lot of local metal bands put out albums, too many for me to really even list (and I’m sure I’d accidentally leave someone off the list!) but even cooler there were 12 local metal bands that put out music videos this year! I’m not talking shitty live footage on an iPhone videos, I mean real music videos. I’ve put all 12 of them together here. 2012 also saw the legendary local doom metal band Pentagram part with their guitarist, Victor Griffin. Their last US show with him was fittingly at the Fillmore in Silver Spring in September which I reviewed here. Back in January of 2012 the Springfield, Virginia venue Jaxx changed ownership and is now officially known as Empire. Unfortunately the Red Palace on H Street is shutting down on January 1st of 2013. I think the most bizarre local story, and one that certainly seems like it is straight out of The Wire, is the one about how Baltimore’s venue Sonar was shut down. In the Summer of 2012 the club’s principal owner, Daniel McIn­tosh, was arrested (and convicted in early November) on drug distribution charges stemming from allegations that he was selling massive amounts of marijuana through the venue. He’s now awaiting sentencing in April with a mandatory 10 year minimum sentence. You can get all the details on this crazy situation here. Don’t worry though, the new owners of the venue, which has apparently been renamed Paparazzi Club, will still be hosting Maryland Deathfest there. No word yet on if they’ll be hosting any other metal shows though. The Howard Theatre, which re-opened in April after millions of dollars in renovations, hosted its first four metal shows ever this year, and the U Street Music Hall, a venue that normally houses DJs and dance parties, hosted its first metal show this year as well when Onslaught and M-Pire Of Evil played there.

As far as national stories in the world of metal, I’ll try to recap them here. I think the biggest story in the metal press this year was probably about Randy Blythe, the lead vocalist for the Richmond based band Lamb Of God. While the band was touring Europe he was arrested upon entry of the Czech Republic for an incident involving a fan that jumped on stage at their concert there in 2010 and then died after being kicked off the stage. He was incarcerated from June 27th to August 2nd, when he was released on bond. He is currently getting ready for his trial which will begin on February 4th. Nergal, frontman of the Polish blackened death metal band Behemoth, is facing blasphemy charges in his homeland for comments made about the Catholic Church and the bible, details of that are posted here. Kyuss Lives also found themselves in court, eventually being forced to stop using their name. They have no renamed themselves Vista Chino and you can read the details of that here. Black Sabbath announced that their long awaited full length album with Ozzy Osbourne back on vocals would be delayed while guitarist Tony Iommi battles with lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. He seems to be doing better now so hopefully the album will be out in 2013 with a full US tour as well. Unfortunately, it looks like the band’s original drummer, Bill Ward, will not be participating. This year saw metal record label Roadrunner Records deal with severe cutbacks after being acquired by the Warner Music Group. The label’s offices in the UK, Canada and The Netherlands were all completely closed and the label’s founder, Cees Wessels, stepped down as CEO. The label Hydra Head Records announced here that it will be shutting down as well. The always outspoken Peter Dolving posted a very informative rant on Facebook here about why he left The Haunted a second time this year. Definitely worth the read to all fans of The Haunted and At The Gates. Cattle Decapitation dropped off the Autumn Apocalypse Tour after their vocalist Travis Ryan was punched by Chris Barnes, vocalist of the headlining act Six Feet Under. Details on that are posted here. Long time Suffocation drummer Mike Smith left the legendary death metal band back in February, more details on that here. Nightwish also had a line up change, though theirs was mid-tour after their vocalist, Anette Olzon, wrote a post on her blog that the band didn’t like. Details on that split are here. I think the scariest moment of 2012 was when the tour bus carrying the band Baroness fell 30 feet off a bridge in the UK. There were several injuries but luckily nobody was killed. The details of that are posted here.

Well that last paragraph lists a lot of grim shit that happened this year, but there were some more upbeat events as well. Anthrax’s cover of the Joe Jackson song “Got The Time” was used to wake up the Mars rover Curiosity one day this year, making it the first metal ever song played on Mars! Details on that are posted here. The Anti-Defamation League wrote the band Hatebreed a letter of apology after one of the league’s directors wrote an article for CNN’s website listing Hatebreed as a “white power” racist band. It’s not every day you get defamed by the Anti-Defimation League! Details on that are posted here. There were two super gross metal videos that came out this year, one by Rwake for their song “It Was Beautiful But Now It’s Sour” which is posted here. The other is by Cattle Decapitation for their song “Forced Gender Reassignment Surgery” which is posted here. Gwar revealed their new guitarist this year, Pustulus Maximus here and they are currently working on a new album. We also saw a new album by Soundgarden, King Animal, their first in 16 years. There was also the much anticipated new Wintersun album Time I, the follow up to the band’s highly regarded self titled debut that was eight years in the making. Local grind act Pig Destroyer put out Book Burner, their first full length since 2007. Former Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis put out a solo album this year, Plains Of Oblivion, that was well regarded by fans. God Seed, the remnants of the version of the black metal band Gorgoroth that included King Ov Hell and Gaahl, FINALLY put out their first album this year, I Begin. And after the return of guitarist Jon Levasseur, Cryptopsy put out a self titled album this year that *gasp* wasn’t some sellout bullshit like their last one. Oh and we must not forget that Broken Hope has reformed and said they will be recording a new album. Convulse also reformed and is putting out their first new material in 18 years, which you can hear some of here. I’m sure there’s more but this is what I remember. Now on to the only award I’ll be issuing for 2012…

This year there were a lot of people competing for the coveted Lars Ulrich Award (that I just made up) for being the biggest asshole in metal. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth made so many uninformed and sometimes even bigoted comments in the press this year that I’m not even sure where to begin. How about when he blamed President Obama for supposedly staging the shootings at the Aurora, Colorado Batman movie and the Sikh temple in Wisconsin to pass gun control laws (here). Or maybe when he said he is against gay marriage and supports Rick Santorum for President here. Or perhaps when he said starving women in Africa should “put a plug in it” here. Then there was the outburst by Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate just minutes before playing their show in São Paulo, Brazil on April 14th. He punched and spit on several band members while they were on stage just before the curtain was drawn to start the show. He kicked over drums and other equipment and delayed the show considerably, and when they finally did start playing he continued to spit on the other band members, in front of all the fans, during the show. You can read all about it here. And of course there was Mitch Lucker, the vocalist for Suicide Silence who, after his wife begged him not to leave the house and drive drunk Halloween night, proceeded to kill himself while riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle drunk at night, leaving his five year old daughter without a father. More details on that here and here. Still, I think the biggest asshole in metal award for 2012 has to go to Ronnie Radke. Sure he’s had his troubles in the past, including being kicked out of his band Escape The Fate in 2008 after being sentenced to two and a half years in prison. He is back with a new band, Falling In Reverse, but he still can’t seem to stay out of trouble. In August he was arrested for beating his girlfriend and then in October he became so furious with the audience at his own concert at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey (If I told them once I told them a hundred times to put Falling In Reverse first and puppet show last!) that he threw several microphone stands into the crowd, injuring two audience members. You can read more about it here. Injuring your own fans, on purpose, definitely takes being an asshole to another level.

Thanks for reading all of this! I know that was a big sea of text up there so I’m going to leave you with a few of my favorite photos that I shot at concerts in 2012 to give your eyes a break. You can also check out my post where I asked 17 of the area’s metal heads what their most metal moments of 2012 were here. If you can think of something I should have mentioned in this post but failed to, feel free to mention it in the comments at the end of the post. Stay metal everyone and let’s make 2013 the best year for metal in the Washington DC, Baltimore and Northern Virginia area ever!

Amber Valentine of Jucifer
January 21st at the Black Cat in Washington, DC

“Dixie” Dave Collins of Hail!Hornet
February 7th at the Black Cat in Washington, DC

Andy Laux of Warbringer
March 13th at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC

Mantas (ex-Venom) of M-Pire Of Evil
April 8th at U Street Music Hall in Washington, DC

Murat Dirlik of Caltrop
April 19th at Fat Tuesdays in Fairfax, Virginia

Papa Emeritus II of Ghost
May 9th at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland

Dragged Into Sunlight
May 26th at Maryland Deathfest at Sonar in Baltimore, Maryland

Nag of Tsjuder
May 26th at Maryland Deathfest at Sonar in Baltimore, Maryland

Peter Hyde of Whitehorse
June 15th at Golden West Cafe in Baltimore, Maryland

John Haughm of Agalloch
July 28th at Empire in Springfield, Virginia

Scott Ian of Anthrax
July 29th at Mayhem Fest at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia

N. Palmirotto of Hull
August 25th at the Cellar Door in Annandale, Virginia

September 5th at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC

September 12th at Empire in Springfield, Virginia

September 16th at RAS Hall in Washington, DC

Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral
September 24th at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC

Kirk Windstein of Down
September 30th at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland

Coady Willis of Big Business
October 3rd at DC9 in Washington, DC

Scott Hull of Pig Destroyer
October 19th at the Ottobar in Baltimore, Maryland

Simone Simons of Epica
October 23rd at the Howard Theatre in Washington DC

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death
October 26th at Empire in Springfield, Virginia

Jeanne Sagan of All That Remains
November 2nd at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland

Adversarius of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult
November 18th at El Caracol Bar in Silver Spring, Maryland

Michael Shrives of Biipiigwan
November 30th at Casa Fiesta in Washington, DC

Corpsegrinder of Cannibal Corpse
December 1st at the Rock & Roll Hotel in Washington, DC

David Davidson of Revocation
December 7th at Empire in Springfield, Virginia

Black Table
December 15th at the Cellar Door in Annandale, Virginia

Mlny Parsonz of Royal Thunder
December 17th at DC9 in Washington, DC

Most Metal Moments of 2012

2012 is coming to a close and I thought it would be fun to reflect on some of the cool shit that’s gone on in the DC/Baltimore/Northern Virgina area’s metal scene this year. Rather than try to compile a list myself I decided to ask a bunch of people involved in our area’s metal scene in one way or another to do it for me! I asked some musicians and fellow music writers and a bunch of other people too, from record store owners to beer brewers to concert promoters. Each person was asked two questions: What was your favorite metal album of the year? And what was your most “metal” moment of the year? The answers I received were as diverse as the people I asked and I suggest reading all of them if you’ve got the time.

Richard Johnson, aka The Grindfather, is the main man of the Northern Virginia based grindcore band Drugs Of Faith and he also runs the ‘zine turned blog Disposable Underground.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Koloss by Meshuggah
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: Arriving at the Pig Destroyer record release show in Baltimore in semi-dapper attire, I was invited backstage to go over details on Kat Katz (from Agoraphobic Nosebleed) and mine’s guest vocal slots in the Pig Destroyer set. The question as to whether I should wear my blazer on stage came up, with two voting for and two against.
When JR Hayes [vocalist of Pig Destroyer] introduced me onstage, I came on with the blazer to keep the opposition guessing, and slipped out of it. Scott Hull [guitarist of Pig Destroyer] immediately seized the moment and insisted on wearing it during the song I was singing. In other words, he stole my thunder.
When Napalm Death came around with Municipal Waste, Exhumed and Vektor, I wore the same blazer to the tour stop at Empire in Springfield, Virginia. I ran into Barney Greenway [vocalist of Napalm Death] soon after getting into the club, and, as a man of taste, he complimented me on it.
That blazer is metal!

Josh Schwartz is the lead guitarist of the Northern Virginia based power metal band A Sound Of Thunder and will gladly debate anyone about what is or isn’t considered heavy metal!
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Stalingrad by Accept
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: In September my band, A Sound Of Thunder, gathered a bunch of fans and friends at Omega Studios in Rockville, Maryland to record gang vocals for our new album and EP. We brought the “Thunder-Choir” into the main recording room (the big one that they use for orchestras) and arranged them in a big circle, with everyone facing inward. Everyone was set up with headphones and mics. When we got to the gang vocals for our song “Queen of Hell”, our producer Kevin Gutierrez called over our lead singer, Nina Osegueda, and had her stand in the center of the circle. He then directed everyone to summon their inner demon voices, and we proceeded to record the whole group chanting “hail, queen of hell” over and over again. If someone had walked into the building at that moment, they would have thought they’d discovered a coven.

Chris Penrod is better known to DC and Baltimore’s metal concert going regulars as the Chicken Man. Any time a brutal band comes through the area you’ll find him wearing his full body chicken costume while he’s tearing it up in the mosh pit and crowd surfing.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Reign Supreme by Dying Fetus
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: I’d have to say my most metal moment of 2012 was at Maryland Deathfest during Suffocation’s set. The crowd was in a complete and utter frenzy, Frank Mullen [vocalist of Suffocation] was on his A-game, and the icing on the cake was nailing that hardcore dancer in the center of his face with my left fist.

Chicken Man at Maryland Deathfest X in May 2012

Will Cook is assistant brewer at the Alexandria based craft brewery Port City Brewing Company and is the man behind the occasional Metal Night events held there. Follow him on Twitter at @PCBCBrewMetal
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Phantom Antichrist by Kreator
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: During a weekend blitz in mid-November, I actually had a continuous slew of metal moments that started with area metal-heads converging on my brewery during Metal Night to drink beer and listen to heavy metal. That night I met dozens of cool like-minded metal heads and beer lovers including band members of Yesterday’s Saints and A Sound of Thunder. The one and only Metal Chris helped me pull-off this event by giving away tickets to local metal shows and merch from the mighty King Giant! That night was an awesome sight and sound to behold! The very next day I went to see Sylosis, Hatebreed, and Lamb of God play at the Fillmore in Silver Spring. Before the show, I got to meet fucking Hatebreed! To top it all off, my great friend Steve—fellow Jarhead and rabid metal head—drove all the way down from Connecticut to join the chaos all weekend!
The most un-metal moment of 2012: When some asshole walked off with the seven-string guitar belonging to Yesterday’s Saints guitarist Witt Black. They had to cancel the show.

Evan Harting is the co-founder and co-organizer of the annual Maryland Deathfest held in Baltimore over Memorial Day Weekend every year. MDF has become the biggest underground metal festival in the US and draws bands and fans from all over the world.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Effigies Of Evil by Hooded Menace
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: My good friend Dave Tedder died this year, and it crushed many people in the metal community. He wasn’t in a band or anything, but he was loved for being one of the most genuine, kind-hearted, and selfless people in metal, among many other great qualities. I’d have to say that the most metal moment for me was when people from all over the country converged onto Baltimore for his service, which consisted of only long-haired, bearded and metal-patch covered vest wearing folks. The service ended with everyone’s horns in the air and yelling “Hail Dave Tedder”, followed by a marching band leading to a nearby music venue, where metal bands played and people gathered to celebrate the life of our fallen friend. It was great to see everyone come together like that.

Todd Ingram, aka TI, plays guitar in the Northern Virginia based southern metal band King Giant. They’re playing at Empire on Sat, Jan 26th (details here) and you’ll be there if you like good times!
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: The Hunt by Grand Magus
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: September 30th at The Fillmore Silver Spring – It was Pentagram’s last tour of the US with original guitarist Victor Griffin. The crowd was electric and Pentagram was delivering a hot set full of favorites. They launched into “Relentless” and during the intro [Pentagram’s vocalist] Bobby Liebling seemed to be stumbling around and then started to unbutton his pants. I was thinking, “Oh no… this could all go horribly wrong right now.” But much to everyone’s surprise, Bobby delivered his Magic Mike moment and ripped down his pants to reveal what I can only describe as red pajama bottoms with Flying Eyeball graphics on them. It was hilarious. The crowd responded with a roar of approval. It was the epitome of a great Pentagram show, the band rocking out and Bobby bringing his own quirky, decidedly unserious sense of humor to DOOM Metal.

Bobby Liebling drops trou at the Fillmore in September 2012

Kim Dylla runs Kylla Custom Rock Wear where she creates custom clothing that you have probably seen worn on stage by members of bands such as Slipknot, Machine Head, Watain, Death Angel, Dragonforce, Dimmu Borgir and more! She can even make you custom clothing to wear on stage or to just bring out your inner rock star.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: With Hearts Toward None by Mgła
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: Alexi Laiho [of Children Of Bodom] and I got locked into Harborplace Mall in Baltimore 15 minutes before he was supposed to go on stage at Ram’s Head Live. Alexi is a dear friend and client of mine, and we went to Hooters for dinner before the show. It took forever to get our food and we lost track of time, realizing shortly after we received our entrees that he was supposed to play in just a few minutes! We threw some money on the table and ran through the mall to the opposite end near where I had parked. The mall was undergoing renovations and we got all the way to the other side to realize the door we had come in was locked. We frantically ran up and down the hallways and every exit door we found was locked. We finally had to go back to Hooters and have someone let us out the staff exit onto the balcony. At this point there were 5 minutes remaining until show time. We ran to my car, and I was driving so fast that I failed to notice that the street I had pulled down by the back of the club was one way. A car was coming straight at us, and of course it was a cop car! I fishtailed up into a driveway across from the buses, assuring everyone watching that I had taken good care of their star. Whoops! Luckily the Baltimore cops have better things to worry about than people driving recklessly the wrong way down one way streets.

Toby Gomez is the man behind the Monthly Metal at Balls Bluff concert series showcasing local, regional and national metal bands each and every month at Balls Bluff Tavern in Leesburg, Virginia.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Dark Roots Of Earth by Testament
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: In August my mother broke her hip and I, being her only full time “care giver,” was scheduled to be out of the country during her recovery. My band at the time, at least one member, didn’t share my zeal for never selling tickets and loving to play shit bars and small audiences and I was getting some really shitty emails. My most metal moment was choosing my mother, family, and the girlfriend that was helping me to be a nurse and a father over a band that I was not good enough for (not my opinion). My most metal moment was picking Monthly Metal at Ball’s Bluff and the scene that I love over part of a band that thought they were too good for it. My most metal moment was standing by what I have always said I believed in and cared about, kicking three years of lyric writing and performing to the curb. All that and taking my daughter to her second Iron Maiden show.

Mark Hensch is a Washington Times digital editor and freelance reporter writing about heavy metal, MMA and D.C. nightlife. Check him out at MMADieHards.com and ThrashPit.com.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Book Burner by Pig Destroyer
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: My most metal moment in 2012 was seeing Pig Destroyer play a record-release show in October. Taking place in their hometown of Baltimore, the crowd was rabid, the energy furious. As far as sets go, it violently summarized an extraordinary career in grind metal. Every song, old or new, was played with mastery of craft. Watching the band cast their magic was like seeing Michael Jordan race towards a slam dunk. It was at that level. As a long-time fan, it was a memorable experience witnessing heavy metal history firsthand.

Pig Destroyer at the Ottobar in October 2012

Pat Trainor runs the Arlington based metal record label and distro Australopithecus Records.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Sickness Will Pass by Stoneburner
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: A few friends and I went up to Baltimore in September to see The Atlas Moth and Altar of Plagues [play upstairs] at the Ottobar. After the show we were hanging out front talking to The Atlas Moth guys when they realized the short bus they tour in was blocked in by a van belonging to the shitty power metal band playing downstairs. Altar of Plagues had 20 minutes to get to the bus station to catch a bus up to NY where they were flying out of. Next thing I know there are two drunk (and remarkably tall) members of an Irish black metal band in the back of my car and we’re having a discussion on gun violence in America while I’m navigating through Baltimore to the bus station!

Josh Sisk is a photographer who shoots all kinds of bands around the Baltimore and DC area, including tons metal bands. You can see some of his work here. He’s also recently become the heavy metal columnist for the Baltimore City Paper.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Vanitas by Anaal Nathrakh
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: It’s hard to pin this one down… Seeing Sunn O))) play in an opera house at the stroke of midnight in Raleigh? Watching a kid crowd-surf while eating a slice of pizza at A389 Fest [at Sonar]? Slipping in blood while taking photos of Ghoul? No… the most metal moment for me in 2012 had to be at the end of Maryland Deathfest, under the overpass. I had stepped out to see what things were like out there, ran into a guy who was bare from the waist up and covered in cuts. I asked if he was okay, he said “I’m okay but I think my car is dead.” I looked over and realized that his car looked like the Hulk had jumped up and down on it. The whole cab was smashed in, smooshed down like a huge weight had been dropped on it, glass everywhere… and I was like “Shit, man, who did that to your car?!” and dude looked up at me (he was getting medical attention by this point) and said “Who did that to my car? I DID!”

Hannah Clancy-Thompson works as a promotions/new media assistant at Relapse Records. She also works with various unsigned local metal bands through her Baltimore based management company Break Open Management.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Autotheism by The Faceless
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: One of my favorite metal moments was at Maryland Deathfest this year: As usual, the weather was gloriously hot… So hot that you had to alternate Gatorade between beers to survive. I was helping out the sales team at Relapse Records’ merchandise booth, drenched in sweat. Finally, Electric Wizard came on stage around 9:30 pm and we could relax and watch their set. Wouldn’t you know it but that was the moment for the heavens to open and pour with rain. “Cover the vinyl” we yelled as we ran back to the tent drenched again, but at least the merch was saved.

Brandon Skall is one of the two co-founders of DC Brau, the first beer brewery actually inside Washington DC since 1956. They make some great craft beers and often have some pretty metal beer names and bottle label artwork.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Timing Of The Void by Eagle Claw
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: We were sponsoring the recent The Sword/Eagle Claw/Gypsyhawk show at Rock & Roll Hotel. I had not heard of Eagle Claw before the show. I was standing up front with John Solly from Solly’s U Street Tavern. Eagle Claw took the stage and proceed to play an incredible seven minute long opener of just killer instrumental madness. Then the second tune… no vox. As they started the third song I leaned over to Solly and said, “I think were about to get a whole set of instrumental metal!” We did. It ruled. Oh yeah and also when I puked all over Rory from Warchild at Ice Co. That was pretty metal too.

Lars Gotrich writes about heavy metal, and some less heavy genres of music, for NPR. You can check out his full list of 2012’s top metal albums on NPR by going here.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Sorrow And Extinction by Pallbearer
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: Jucifer at the Black Cat on January 20th – What is it that compels Jucifer to tour with a literal wall of amps like they do? It’s both empowering and limiting at once, with a volume and intensity like no other, but what band wants to to ride along for that set-up? In the end, it’s Jucifer’s passion that gets the best of them, spreading the distorted sludge gospel. But on the Friday night that D.C. literally froze over, the nomadic duo played to a small, yet devoted crowd at the Black Cat. I don’t remember what was going on in my life, but I NEEDED THIS SHOW. My entire being and thus my entire body raged to every downbeat, literally slamming my torso to the stage. At one moment, Amber Valentine and I locked eyes/spirits/hair. My body was in pain for a week.

Jucifer at the Black Cat in January 2012

Rockin Ruby is the managing editor at Underground Web World, a website that focuses on underground culture such as metal music, biker culture, science fiction art, photography and tattoo art.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: As Above, So Below by Angel Witch
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: So you want to know my most metal moment of 2012? Well I must say this was definitely a tough one to choose because there were many awesome events this year. I’m going to have to narrow it down and say my most metal moment was from Maryland Deathfest. This year’s lineup of bands were the best I’ve ever experienced, mainly because I’m a huge fan of the metal classics. Seeing bands like Hellbastard, Artillery, Morgoth, Morbid Angel, Morbid Saint, Anvil and October 31 on the bill (which were the main bands I wanted to see) really made the year for me. The highlight of the festival was being able to meet [vocalist] Pat Lind from Morbid Saint right after his performance. After 20+ years, they still kick ass! I thought I would never see this band live. Seeing [Morbid Saint’s album] Spectrum Of Death played live in its entirety was a dream come true.

Jo Gonzales runs Black Mess Records in Baltimore, a record store specializing in extremely underground heavy metal from around the world. They’ve also got patches and other merch that you just can’t find anywhere else in the area.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: The Doom Skeptron by Desecresy
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: Hmmm that’s a tough one there were so many!!! I mean Maryland Deathfest had an array of fantastically ridiculous as well as crucial not to be missed metal moments… I mean Pentagram from Chile slayed as well as well as Bethlehem and of course Sargeist!!! But what destroyed all else was seeing Imprecation from Texas play with Mortem from Peru at El Caracol in Silver Spring!!! That was truly the most metal moment of 2012 for me!!! Thanks to Chris of DCHM and keep an eye out for some releases due out in 2013 on Black Mess Productions!!! WE also have a few killer shows in the works for 2013!!!

Simon Callahan books DIY metal shows in Washington DC and manages to get some great underground bands from around the country to play with top local metal talent through his Metal Squad Party Force. He also plays guitar and sings in his band Midnight Eye.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Eremita by Ihsahn
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: I saw and played a bunch of great shows the past year, but the most metal moments for me were probably: getting to do sound and fog for Sunn O))) when they played the Black Cat; falling off of the couch while hanging out with Nashgul after their show at Ras Hall (and asking them impressively annoying drunk questions, like whether they understand sarcasm or listen to Judas Priest); and playing at JR’s in Philly, with Rubbish, a.k.a. “the worst band in Philadelphia.” Oh, and my band also drove to play a Richmond show in a hybrid while eating sushi, so I guess that kind of negates everything metal I mentioned here.

2011 Recap, 2012 Preview

2011 is coming to a close and it has been another great year for DCHeavyMetal.com! The site has been growing and I’m glad I’ve made it through another calendar year of running this site and I have to say thanks for all the support I’ve gotten from the metal community here in DC. None of this would be worth doing if it wasn’t for all the awesome bands and fans in this area and you guys have made it so that after over two years I’m still as excited as ever to be running this site. This year I was lucky enough to see some of my work appear in other places online as well, including guest posts I wrote on MetalUnderground.com and Heavy Uber Alles. I started writing about international metal on SceneTrek.com and I’ve had my photography appear in lots of places, including on NPR’s website and TBD.com and MetalSucks.net. I was also allowed to guest host an episode of the pirate radio show Inverted Umlaut and pick a play list made up of all local metal bands. Probably the coolest thing Apocalyptica during my Metal Marathonfor me was having the Washington Post Express do a small piece on me and the site back in May. I’ve also had a new shirt design made with art by Joshua Brettell, the drummer for local death/doom metal band Ilsa. Shirts are for sale now for $12, find me at an area show to get one. I should have a bunch for sale at the merch booth for the King Giant show at Jaxx on January 21st if nothing else. Back in March I had my Metal Marathon where I went to 11 metal concerts in 9 consecutive days, that was intense. And this year I went to over 100 concerts total, the first time I’ve ever done that in a single calendar year. I got to see a lot of great bands play and hang out with a lot of cool people at many venues all around the area. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do 100 shows in a year again, but I can at least say I did it once in 2011!

This post isn’t just to review 2011 for my site though, there were a lot of interesting stories in local, national and international metal this year. One of the first that comes to mind is all the venue changes that have gone on in the area. The legendary Fillmore opened up a new 2,000 capacity venue in Silver Spring and they have already held a few metal shows. A new venue opened in the inner harbor area of Baltimore as well, the Baltimore SoundStage. The State Theatre in Falls Church has been expanding its upstairs balcony to hold more people, you can see a shot of the unfinished construction here. Jaxx in Springfield, Virginia, the long time metal stronghold in the DC area, has new owners taking over in 2012. They also recently purchased Alley Katz in Richmond, and have renamed that venue Kingdom after a renovation. They have remained quiet so far on their plans for Jaxx but you can expect to see some changes there in 2012. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you up to date on that. There were a couple closings as well, Bourbon Street in Baltimore closed, though the staff seems to have mostly moved to the new Baltimore SoundStage. In what is probably the most tragic venue closing of 2011, the Corpse Fortress in Silver Spring, Maryland was shut down after five years and the residents of this awesome DIY house were all evicted at the end of September. I saw a lot of great bands play there, touring and local, and it really is a blow to the local do it yourself music scene, metal or otherwise. So Addictive Lounge, which had been having weekly metal nights on Mondays in Herndon decided to turn into a full fledged gay bar seven days a week and so they no longer hold local metal shows. However there are a few venues that have started hosting metal shows as well. The DIY house Cellar Door in Annandale has been getting bands occasionally. There is also the unlikely venue Asefu’s, an Ethiopian bar in the U Street area of DC, which has been hosting some local metal shows lately. The Quarry House Tavern in Silver Spring has also held some matinee metal shows on the weekends. Old Firestation #3 in Fairfax City has been hosting a few metal shows as well. Golden West Cafe has also been getting some great doom and sludge bands coming through Baltimore. Of course this year we had that whole fiasco with Sonar in Baltimore ‘shutting down’ Steve Von Till of Neurosisabout three weeks before Maryland Deathfest was to be held there. Luckily it turned out to be just a big, and very public, management tantrum. The venue reopened in time for MDF but they sure looked bad. That wasn’t the only story involving Maryland Deathfest in 2011, which isn’t surprising considering the festival has become not only this area’s but also North America’s biggest non-touring metal festival. The Neurosis outdoor performance this year right after a thunderstorm that almost canceled their set was just incredible. And the mysterious Swedish band Ghost played their first ever US show as the final band on the final day of Maryland Deathfest this year. Sadly there was a bad situation that ended up with security guards spraying random people in attendance with pepper spray after their set which made the otherwise awesome festival end on a sour note. There were also issues with the video footage that had been shot at Maryland Deathfest, much of which is explained here, and apparently there will not be a Maryland Deathfest The Movie for the 2011 festival. However, there is a movie coming out that some of you old school metal heads in this area might find interesting. No, not a sequel to Heavy Metal Parking Lot, that already came out this year as Heavy Metal Picnic. The now defunct DC concert venue The Bayou has a documentary film about its history coming out soon and you can see the trailer for it here.

There were a lot of interesting stories in metal this year, from the hilarious to the bizarre to the downright tragic. We saw the big four of thrash metal hold their US shows, the closest one to us being the performance at Yankee Stadium in New York City that was so awesome that a guy in a wheelchair was crowd surfing. And way back in January of this year Jef Whitehead, aka Wrest, the man behind the one man US black metal bands Leviathan and Lurker Of Chalice, was arrested for criminal sexual assault and aggravated domestic battery for allegedly attacking his girlfriend, including sexually assaulting her with a tattoo gun (details here). He has denied all the charges and even put out a new Leviathan album that seems pretty obviously to be directing anger at her with the title True Traitor, True Whore. In January we also heard Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King of Slayerthat Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman became infected with a flesh eating bacteria, necrotizing fasciitis. He had to sit out most of Slayer’s shows this year because of it, including their big four shows. He seems to be making a full recovery though, because, as he put it, “Satan had my back.” In July the lead singer for Life Of Agony, Keith Caputo, announced that he was transitioning into life as a woman and should be referred to as Mina Caputo now. It takes a lot of strength to come out in the metal world, and while I’m not a fan of Life Of Agony’s music this did lead to another one of my favorite quotes in any interview this year when Mina stated, “just because I’m wearing a skirt doesn’t mean I don’t got big balls.” And who can forget the bizarre story of the bass player for Coheed And Cambria getting arrested for armed robbery after holding up a pharmacy in Boston just before the band performed there live (check it out here if you want the details). There were also two big stories this year about how people find and share music, including metal. Namely Spotify coming to the US and Google Music starting up, the latter of which has made it so any band, regardless of if they have a label or not, can get their music in the Android Marketplace for a one time fee of just $25 (info on that is here). There was also the story this year of the big Chaos In Tejas fest announcing their 2012 line up and afterwards people started noticing there were some bands with nazi or other racist ties on the bill, namely Nyogthaeblisz, Black Witchery and Disma (get more details on this here). This led to an uproar on the festival’s Facebook page and several other bands set to play the fest started threatening to pull out if those bands weren’t dropped from the festival. All three are now off of the fest, however it should be noted that both Black Witchery and Disma are on the lineup for Maryland Deathfest in 2012 and nobody seems to be saying a thing about that. In what has sadly becoming surprising, Metallica actually did something cool when they held four 30th anniversary concerts in San Francisco. They played some brand new tracks for fans as well as bring in a slew of guests to perform with them, including people like Glenn Danzig, King Diamond, Ozzy Osbourne and even Dave Mustaine, among others. It’s cool they did something for the fans for once. In 2010 it was announced that Nergal, the main man from the Polish blackened death metal band Behemoth, had been diagnosed with leukemia. He raised a lot of awareness for the need for bone marrow transplants, and in January 2011 he was released from the hospital after being the successful recipient of one. In October 2011 Behemoth even did a small tour in Poland, the band’s first live shows since Nergal was hospitalized.

Sadly not everyone in the metal world fared as well this year and some people were lost to us. Cory Smoot, the most recent person under the Flattus Maximius costume as a member of the gory shock metal band Gwar, had heart problems and passed away at the age of 34 while on tour with the band in early November. This story touched a lot of people in this area since Gwar are Richmond, Virginia natives and also because he left behind a pregnant wife. A benefit show is being held for them on January 7th in Richmond, info on that is here. There was also Seth Putnam, the main guy behind the always overly offensive grindcore band Anal Cunt, who died in June at the age of 43 due to heart failure. In March Mike Starr, the original Alice in Chains bassist, was found dead in his home at age 44, apparently due to a lethal combination of Xanax and alcohol. He had been on VH-1’s show Celebrity Rehab in 2010. There was also the death of Phil Vane, one of the original members of the English band Extreme Noise Terror. He died from a stroke at the age of 44 after being one of the founding members of not only ENT but of the entire crust sub genre. Just last week David Gold was killed in a car accident at age 31. He was the main guy behind the Canadian black/doom band Woods Of Ypres. I’m sure there are others I have forgotten to mention so feel free to make note of them in the comment section below if you’d like.

There were also some long running bands who broke up this past year as well. There was the above mentioned Anal Cunt and Woods Of Ypres of course. Also God Dethroned Henri Sattler of God Dethronedfrom the Netherlands decided to finish the band after 20 years, well they still have to play on the 70,000 Tons Of Metal cruise in January but that will be it for them. The Bay Area band Ludicra broke up just as they seemed to really be gathering steam which reminds me of Salome‘s demise last year. Long time Swedish death metal act Dismember broke up after 23 years in the scene. Back in May at Maryland Deathfest we got to see the New York based death metal band Skinless play their final live set ever after having been together since 1992. There were also some major line up changes in a few bands that didn’t break up, at least not yet. I think the biggest has to be K. K. Downing, guitar player and founding member of Judas Priest, leaving the band in April after over 40 years with the band. Also in April the Seattle based Nevermore announced that their guitar player, Jeff Loomis, was leaving the band as well as long time drummer Van Williams. Both had been in the band since the band’s first album and Nevermore is currently on hiatus though vocalist Warrel Dane insists they are not broken up. The Tampa, Florida based power metal band Iced Earth saw their lead singer, Matt Barlow, leave the band for a second time in March. However Iced Earth didn’t miss a beat and quickly recruited Into Eternity vocalist Stu Block into the band. Swedish black metal band Dark Funeral saw long time members B-Force, Dominator and Emperor Magus Caligula all leave the band in 2010 but it wasn’t until 2011 that the band started filling these gaps. Dominator decided to return on drums, Zornheym replaced B-Force on bass, and after 15 years with Magus on vocals the band has found a new vocalist in Nachtgarm from the band Negator.

This year there were a few bands who got back together as well. Those who Coroner at Maryland Deathfestattended the final day of this year’s Maryland Deathfest got to see Coroner play a headlining set. This was the Swiss technical thrash band’s first US show since reforming in 2010 after a 14 year break up period. After the fallout of the aforementioned Nevermore, Sanctuary has been reformed by the remaining members of Nevermore. There was also the two song performance by Swedish death metal band Bloodbath as an encore at the Opeth and Katatonia show in Baltimore back in early November. The so called super group only played at one show on that tour, and we were lucky that it was the one in Baltimore! Not really a reunion but his return to metal in general, we got a solo album by Demonaz who has pretty much been absent from the metal world in any major role since he left Immortal in 1997 due to tendinitis so bad that it prevented him from playing guitar. Another sort of return this year was ICS Vortex putting out a solo album as well after having been booted unceremoniously from Dimmu Borgir in 2009. Lets just say that album was a lot better than the last Dimmu album, though that’s not saying much. Also this year there was the return of Kyuss, who played both the 9:30 Club in Washington DC and Rams Head Live in Baltimore. The band has all the original members back, except for the glaring lack of Josh Homme on guitar. It’s not too surprising as I’m sure he is making much more money with the Eagles Of Death Metal, Them Crooked Vultures and Queens Of The Stone Age, though it’s a bit of a let down for the fans. There has also been news that Pepper Keenan has rejoined Corrosion Of Conformity, so I hope to hear him on a new album with them in 2012. This year we also saw the return of Polish death metal band Decapitated, sort of. In October 2007 Decapitated at Jaxxthey were in a horrible bus wreck while on tour which killed their drummer and put the vocalist into a coma. The band broke up but guitarist Vogg recruited all new members to reform Decapitated and this year they put out a new full length as well as went on tour, including a stop at Jaxx in October. Some musical returns are hardly worth noting but are too big of a flop to not mention, such as the first album by death metal legends Morbid Angel in 8 years, also their first album with David Vincent in the band since 1995. It was not what anyone expected, and not in a good way. I mean there are bad albums and then there are albums that make you just wonder who the hell heard this crap and thought it was worth putting out? I’m still not convinced it was the worst metal album of the year though. I mean, Lou Reed with Metallica‘s album Lulu is pretty damn awful as well, but I guess you sort of expected that before you heard it. Let’s just hope 2012 has nothing close to these two stinkers in store for the metal fans out there.

There were some good metal releases this year of course. I don’t write “top 10” album lists or whatever because I don’t really like ranking music (or art in general) as though it is a competition. However, I’d like to just note that we had new material by a lot of bands from this area (this isn’t a complete list but I tried to remember everyone!). DC’s doom legends Pentagram put out Last Rites, an album surprisingly good considering how long this band has been around. Mike Schleibaum of Darkest HourThere was The Human Romance, a new album by DC’s biggest metalcore band Darkest Hour. Deceased put out Surreal Overdose in 2011 to show that they’re still going strong for over 25 years. Dying Fetus put out an EP of mostly 90’s death metal band covers called History Repeats this year. Maryland’s most famous djent band, Periphery, also put out the Icarus EP this year to tide fans over until they release two full length albums in 2012 (more on that below). If you really like them I recommend checking out the instrumental Baltimore based band Balor’s Eye who put out their debut as a self titled EP this year. Aurora Borealis put out surprisingly good melodic black metal effort this year, even though it seems to have gone mostly overlooked for some reason. They’re even giving it away as a free download (here), what the hell else do you want people? On the more grindy side of things Drugs Of Faith put out a really good album, Corroded. Local death/doom band Ilsa put out a split with Sweden’s Hooded Menace this year as well, totally crushing. Local stoner act Borracho released their debut full length this year as well, titled Splitting Sky. And Polkadot Cadaver, made up of members of the broken up band Dog Fashion Disco, put out their second album this year and have started touring nationally to support it. Baltimore band Bet The Devil put Iris Divine at the State Theatreout their self titled debut as well in 2011. Death metal band Visceral Disgorge put out their debut album, Ingesting Putridity, in 2011. And last but not least there was the progressive band Iris Divine who put out a full length album this year. So if people think this area’s metal scene is dead or simply doesn’t exist they’re just not paying attention because that’s a hell of a lot of metal output there!

Well that’s my recap of what happened in 2011, and as if this post wasn’t long enough already, I’ll tell you some of the things you can look forward to in 2012. As far as this site itself goes, I’ve got some awesome new contests coming up where I’ll be giving away tickets to see Graveyard, Ghost, King Giant and Lamb Of God, and those are just in January! I’ll also be doing some interviews with some people I hope you guys find interesting. I’m going to try to keep this different than the typical ass-kissing promo interviews on every other music website but actually ask some questions people want to know the answers to. I also plan on revamping my venues page with even more info on each venue, and possibly even adding a section with contact info for various small venue promoters so you can get in contact with them to set up shows much more easily.

As egotistical as I’d like to be, there’s plenty more to be excited about in the world of metal in 2012 besides what is going on with my site. I think the biggest story of all has got to be that all four original members of Black Sabbath have reunited and announced not only a full world tour, but a new full length album as well. Rick Rubin is producing it, and while he has an extensive history of producing all kinds of music, he was behind the board for Slayer’s classic Reign In Blood album though more recently he has produced Metallica’s 2008 album Death Magnetic. It certainly has the potential to be a horrid album or a great one, and I’m sure no matter what there will be people who claim either side, but it’s still pretty amazing that they’re putting a new album together now after over 30 years. Another big story is that grind legends Terrorizer will be putting out a new album. However David Vincent has been added to the band’s line up and I really hope he doesn’t make them sound like modern Morbid Angel. Local grind act Pig Destroyer has been rather quiet since their 2007 album Phantom Limb, but I’ve heard that Misery Index drummer Adam Jarvis has been added to the line up so hopefully we’ll finally hear some new material from them in 2012. Locals King Giant have their King Giant at Jaxxsophomore album, Dismal Hollow, coming out in January and they’ll be holding a CD release show at Jaxx on the 21st for that. The line up for that show is great and I’m glad they’re going to be holding another contest on DCHeavyMetal.com to help promote it. Djent band Periphery has announced that they’ll be putting out not one but two full length albums in 2012. The first is a concept album titled Juggernaut that is tentatively scheduled for release in May. Not much info has been told about the second album, however it has been announced that is it not a concept album and is scheduled for release in November. Baltimore’s Knives Out have an album scheduled for release in February titled Black Mass Hysteria. Local power metal act Nina Osegueda of A Sound Of ThunderA Sound Of Thunder is supposed to put out a full length this year, titled Out Of The Darkness, a follow up to their 2011 album Metal Renaissance, so keep an eye out for that. In what seems to be a bit strange, the band Control Denied, formed by Chuck Schuldiner of Death fame and broken up after his death in 2001, will have a second album released in 2012. It is to be titled When Man And Machine Collide. Apparently it is the album Chuck had been working on when he died so I’m not sure who ‘finished’ it and it sort of stinks of the kind of cash grab that is usually reserved for Elvis and 90s rap fans. Oh and remember how I mentioned above that I hoped there wouldn’t be an album as bad as either the latest Morbid Angel or Metallica efforts? Well, Morbid Angel has decided to put out a double album of dub step remixes of their 2010 album, Illud Divinum Insanus. Seriously, after all the backlash they got they thought THAT would be a good idea? There’s a couple tours coming in 2012 I’m already excited for. Lock Up, featuring members of bands At The Gates, Napalm Death, Dimmu Borgir and too many more to list, was supposed to make their US debut at Maryland Deathfest in 2011. They had last minute visa issues and so didn’t make it into the US. However they now have a full US tour scheduled and they’ll be playing in Baltimore in February. I’m also excited to see Hail!Hornet and Zoroaster play at the Black Cat in February the same night as a screening of a movie about heavy metal in the south, aptly titled Slow Southern Steel.

Well, thanks for getting to the end of the post, it’s been a damn long one and it took me what seems like forever to pull all these links together. 2011 has been a hell of a year and 2012 looks promising already. If you’ve got any suggestions for the site or you noticed something I totally overlooked that should have been mentioned above go ahead and mention it in the comment section below. Stay safe everyone and remember if you’re out partying this New Year’s Eve, the entire DC area (including the Maryland and Virginia suburbs) has free cabs from 10pm to 6am. Just call 1-800-200-TAXI or check out the Sober Ride program’s website here. Stay metal everyone, go out and see some metal shows and support the scene you’re a part of!