Torche ticket give away

Torche at DC9

Here’s a quick contest for you readers who check in regularly here on DCHeavyMetal.com. Florida’s Torche is bringing their thunder pop to DC9 this Thursday. I’m giving away a pair of tickets to one of you on Wednesday 9 November 2011 at 6pm EST. All you’ve got to do to enter is tell me which song you’d like to hear them close their set with in the comments below and I’ll pick a winner at random from all the valid entries using Random.org. Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Also, this show is ages 18+ only, so if you are under 18 you are not eligible. Even if you win they won’t let you in the door, so please don’t enter if you are a minor. If you don’t know any of their song titles you can check out the set list I photographed when they played at Jaxx back in March on the right and pick one from there.

Torche plays a sort of stoner metal and rock hyrbid that is full of great riffs, and they are really fun to watch live. This show should be a lot of fun! They’re playing with the London based band Part Chimp, as well as the regional acts Regents and Chumps. Hell, even if you don’t win you should come out to this show, it’s going to be a blast! You can get tickets from Ticket Alternative right now for $12 here, the price goes up to $14 the day of the show.

DC Metal Spotlight On Metal Underground

I was asked to write a guest post for one of my favorite metal news websites, MetalUnderground.com, and it went live on the site today. They have a weekly column called Unearthing The Metal Underground where each post explores a different area’s underground metal scene. They asked me to write the one about underground metal in Washington DC and let me pick three bands to go into detail about. I chose to write about Ilsa, Midnight Eye and Borracho for this post, however if the post gets a decent response they said they might let me write another about Northern Virginia or Baltimore or even another DC post. So feel free to leave a comment there or share it with people on Facebook or something if you enjoy it and maybe I’ll get to help expose more of our kick ass local acts to a national audience! You can read the post on Metal Underground here:

http://www.metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=72050

Also of note, I had one of my recent videos of Clutch playing a new song at the Red Palace posted on Blabbermouth.net on Saturday, you can check out that post here:

http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=163735

And one more thing, and it’s totally unrelated and is really just shameless promotion hardly related to my site, but some good friends of mine have been in a non-metal rock band for years and I have finally convinced them to play a live gig. I got them booked at the Velvet Lounge this Wednesday, the 28th of September and I certainly recommend checking them out. They hit the stage at 9pm, and are playing with the Megaphone Barons and Electric Grandmother (bands I admittedly don’t know much about). Again, they’re not metal but they are a damn good band, and they have three guitar players! You can check out the event’s Facebook page here but even if you can’t go feel free to check out the Garage Hoppers on Facebook here. Ok, I think that’s enough blatant non-metal promotion for one post. Stay metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!

Recap of Clutch and Suplecs gigs

On Sunday the 18th of September I had two shows I was trying to catch live. The first was a special free show that the Frederick, Maryland based band Clutch was holding at the Red Palace. This show was listed as a special five song acoustic set that was part of a promotional “release party” for their own beer, Clutch Dark Sour Ale, from New Belgium Brewing. The show was originally scheduled for Monday August 29th but it was postponed due to Hurricane Irene. This night everything seemed to work out ok though. The people from the Colorado based craft brewery, most famous for their Fat Tire Amber Ale, were mingling in the audience who had gathered. I have bought a few of the Clutch beers already, and they’re actually pretty damn good. They’re dark but with a sour taste that builds up the further you get into the 22 oz bottle, sort of like how some spicy foods’ heat builds up with the more of it you eat. It’s not a fruity sour though and is not actually very sweet at all (which I think is a good thing). I recommend trying it if you can find yourself a bottle. At this concert however, they were selling the bottles for $20! I still had a bottle in my fridge at home that I bought for $7.99 at Total Wine so there was no way I was going to fork out that much cash just to drink one at the Red Palace. Hell, even Clutch’s Neil Fallon said on stage that he was drinking a competitor’s beer.

Clutch at the Red Palace

The show started with the one of the guys from New Belgium Brewing taking the mic on stage and introducing the band as well as presenting them with the bottle that had serial number 10001110101. That’s the name of one of the songs on Clutch’s 2005 album Robot Hive/Exodus. The guys then went into their setlist, starting off with and “acoustic” version of The Regulator. While guitarist Tim Sult played an acoustic guitar, they were all using pick ups, pedals and amps, so don’t think this performance was something like those old MTV Unplugged specials. What made the show cool was that the Red Palace only holds about 200 people, and Clutch is a band that usually plays much larger venues, they had just played at the HFStival the day before at Merriweather Post Pavilion. However this night the band played their five song set and pleased the crowd by having Tim plug in his regular guitar before playing a new song, apparently titled Newt. They played a few more songs, sort of a best hits style thing with songs covering their back catalog and ending with Elephant Riders. In all they played for about an hour and it was a fun show and a great chance to catch Clutch up close.

Clutch at the Red Palace

When Clutch had finished I didn’t linger around for too long since I had another show to catch at the Velvet Lounge. I made a stop at the 9:30 Club‘s basement bar for a quick bite to eat just before they closed their kitchen. Apparently they had some Mexican band playing upstairs named Molotov, but luckily the 9:30 Club has a separate door on the side of the building you can enter the bar at if you don’t want watch the show. The bartender down there was wearing a Clutch shirt and he said he was pissed he had to work that night because he had wanted to see the show at the Red Palace. Anyways, I had a nice panini and an organic oatmeal stout and then I walked around the corner to the Velvet Lounge.

The Velvet Lounge had a pretty sweet line up this evening. They haven’t been getting a lot of metal shows of note lately but this one definitely stood out on their calendar. The headliner was the New Orleans based sludge band Suplecs and they were touring with the Columbus, Ohio band Lo-Pan. Shows at the Velvet Lounge tend to run late but even so I missed the first band on the bill, Weed Is Weed from Maryland. The band has two former Spirit Caravan members in its ranks, Dave Sherman and Gary Isom. I hope to catch them another time. The first band I saw play at the Velvet Lounge that evening was Lo-Pan. I’ve never seen a band’s lead singer stand all the way to the back of the stage before. I mean way back, he was even behind the drummer. Despite their strange stage positions, they were pretty good live. They made for a good opener act on this kind of tour. They wrote their set list on pages torn out of some porno magazine, certainly the most graphic set list stationary of the night.

Lo-Pan at the Velvet Lounge

After Lo-Pan finished their set local act Nitroseed performed. Typically an instrumental band, they played several of their songs with lyrics at this show. I’d never seen them live before but I was very impressed, certainly worth checking out if you see them listed as an opener at an upcoming show. Also, it turns out their drummer, Phil Adler, also plays in the local doom band Wooly Mammoth. Their music had some good energy and they kept the momentum rolling forward throughout their set. They finished up and the last band of the night was next, Suplecs.

Nitroseed at the Velvet Lounge

Suplecs is from New Orleans and they mentioned many times between songs that they were excited to be playing in front of a DC audience as they were big fans of the DC doom metal scene. The band was good live, they had some high energy parts but also slowed it down for a few songs. Their songs really had a dynamic range to them that many sludge bands simply don’t have. This kept the show interesting and fresh throughout their set, which is a really good thing after watching three bands with a similar sound earlier in the evening. They mentioned that this was the first time they played their song Pissing In The Wind on the East Coast. They closed their set with a cover. After all their praise for DC’s metal scene I thought for sure they’d play a Pentagram or Spirit Caravan song, or something similar at least. Nope, they played Working Man by Rush. Totally out of left field if you ask me. It was ok but really didn’t seem to fit into their set that well. Regardless, I will definitely go see them again if they come through the area another time, and you should too!

Suplecs at the Velvet Lounge

If you’d like to see more images from the bands I saw that night you can see them on my Flickr page here. And be sure to check out all the videos below of Clutch, Nitroseed and Suplecs. The first four are Clutch. The first one is acoustic and the second is their new song. The last two videos are of Suplecs, the last of which is their Rush cover. Thanks to the guys in King Giant for the beers and thanks to you for reading all of this. Stay metal everyone!

Clutch acoustic:

Clutch’s new song:

Clutch with extended drum solo:

Clutch with guitar solo:

Nitroseed:

Suplecs:

Suplecs covering Rush:

Recap of Black Skies gig at the Cellar Door

This isn’t a full review but a fairly quick recap of the house show I went to on Tuesday the 6th of September 2011. It took place on one of a string of rainy nights at a DIY venue I had been meaning to get to for a while, the Cellar Door. This is not to be confused with the historic Cellar Door venue that was in Washington DC from 1965 to 1981. They have nothing to do with each other besides the name. The house in Annandale, Virginia that I was at did in fact have a cellar door and the bands used it to carry equipment to and from the basement area that they were performing in. I looked around a bit, the basement wasn’t very large but it was good enough for a house show. The walls weren’t really decorated down there, other than an old Dysrhythmia show poster hanging by one thumb tack on the wall. Upstairs there was a small bar that was covered in merch, which one of the houses’ resident cats was relaxing on. There was also a back deck area but I didn’t really go out there because I don’t smoke any more and it seemed kind of crowded. The people there were nice and even though I didn’t show up with anyone else I found plenty of people to talk throughout the evening between bands. They also had an interesting collection of books on shelves and stacked around the main living room area covering all kinds of subjects like art, fantasy, politics, science and other stuff as well. I didn’t really thumb through anything but I did see a few people doing so. A hat was passed around for donations to the bands. There was no official cover charge for the show, just an understanding that you’d throw in a few dollars to help support the bands. The people hosting the gig were cool and offered me a burger fresh off the grill and a beer from the fridge, though I had just eaten at Five Guys before the show. Had I known I would have skipped it so as to get there in time for the first band, Ancient Astronaught, which I missed entirely.

The second band to play, and the first I got to see, was Trade from Toms Brook, Virginia (that’s out west a bit past where 66 hits 81). They were a sort of rock/stoner band and I wouldn’t call them bad but they didn’t really stand out much to me and their songs didn’t seem to have a lot of variation. They were a good start for the evening though, and they gave me a chance to practice shooting in the close quarters of the basement.
Trade at the Cellar Door

The next band up was Black Skies from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They’re a sort of sludge/stoner band and these guys had some crazy energy going. You could tell it was going to be a fun set when Kevin Clark started playing his guitar with his teeth during the first song! The three piece played exciting songs and the dual vocals from Kevin as well as bass player Michelle Temple worked really well. The basement got pretty damn hot while they played though and I had to put my camera away eventually because the lens was fogging up. Definitely my favorite set of the night.
Black Skies at the Cellar Door

The next band to play was the local act Akris. I’ve been meaning to catch them live for a while but for one reason or another I hadn’t gotten the chance to until this evening. They are also a three piece with a woman on bass, but the similarities pretty much ended there. For starters the drummer was more prominent in the band’s sound because there was no guitar player. The band’s sound was much more raw as well, but that’s not a bad thing. There also seemed to be a bit of a punk edge in there. And if you weren’t up front you might not have realized the third member of the band, Jon Simler, who was sitting on the floor fidgeting with various DJ tools. For the most part you couldn’t really hear what he was adding to the music, except during the occasional break between bass lines. The audience seemed to enjoy Akris a lot and there was even a semblance of a mosh pit in the crammed basement area they were playing in. Their set ended just before midnight and their performance was a great way to end the show.
Akris at the Cellar Door

This was the first time I’ve been to the Cellar Door. I’ve known of a few previous shows there but schedule conflicts have kept me from showing up in the past. After seeing such a fun show, and with the Corpse Fortress shutting down at the end of September, I wanted to write something here to draw some attention to this place, one of the few DIY venues in the area that will still host metal bands. The basement is smaller than the Corpse Fortress but the place isn’t trashed as much either. No, it’s not going to replace the Corpse Fortress but it is an example of someone else helping to keep the local DIY scene alive. You can be sure that I’ll post more of the Cellar Door’s upcoming shows on the Upcoming Concerts Calendar as I hear about them (you can also find info on the last Corpse Fortress show on Sept 24th there). For more info on local DIY venues and concerts (metal or otherwise) in the DC area I highly recommend regularly checking out Dirty City Shows at http://inyrbasement.tumblr.com. You don’t have to pay a $15 Ticketmaster fee on top of a ticket price to see a great metal show in this area. You might not get all the crazy stage lighting but you won’t pay $7 for a Budweiser either. Go out and see bands, not just the ones you are in or your friends are in, but check out new bands and see if you find something new you like. Get out and support the scene you’re a part of!

Review of Proclamation gig at the Ottobar

On Tuesday the 9th of August 2011 there were several metal shows all around the area, quite odd for a random Tuesday. Queensrÿche was playing the 9:30 Club, Emmure was headlining a 14 band concert for the All Stars Tour‘s Baltimore stop at Sonar, and there was also a rare metal showcase at Jammin Java featuring local acts Iris Divine, A Sound Of Thunder and Timelord. However, I skipped all of those and decided to head up to the Ottobar in Baltimore to see Proclamation, a black metal band from Spain. I wasn’t too familiar with them but I figured this will probably be my only chance to see them play live and I’m not one to turn down seeing an obscure black metal band perform live. There weren’t a lot of people at this show though, maybe around 50 by the time the headliner was playing. The bands didn’t seem to mind and played very well regardless.

I get out of work kind of late in the summer and getting to shows in Baltimore on weekdays usually means I’m going to have to miss an opener or two, and this night was no different. I knew I’d probably miss the local opening act, Extermination Angel, but the other three bands on the bill were all touring bands. The first of those scheduled to play was Thantifaxath, a black metal band from Toronto. Apparently they were held up at the border and not allowed to enter the US (something to do with goat heads in their belongings I heard) so they weren’t on the bill. Instead excellent local Baltimore doom act Oak played. I got there just as they were finishing though, which kind of sucks because they’re really good but I’ve seen them before so I wasn’t that upset. When I arrived the door price had been lowered to $15 (even though the Ottobar website listed the show at $18 and said it would increase the day of). A nice surprise though they should have mentioned this and the line up change on their website. The next band up also has quite a mouthful for a name, Abazagorath, who are a black metal band from New Jersey. I’d never heard of them before but they put on a decent show. My main problem with them was their vocalist, a guy who goes by the stage name Nihilist. He seemed to spend half his time on stage hanging out back by the drummer, often not even looking forward at the audience. The vocalist didn’t have a great voice for black metal either, and I saw him reading lyric sheets he had placed on the stage during several of their songs. They were playing some new material for the first time during the set so perhaps that’s something of an excuse but it still isn’t something I expect from a touring band. The guy just seemed unprofessional and hell even the bass player had better stage presence than he did, the guy was decked out in spikes and leather. Regardless, this is black metal and the vocals aren’t the most important part of a band’s sound in this genre. The rest of the band was pretty good and they had some decent songs that got a mosh pit going for a while. There wasn’t a lot of variation in their songs but their sound was good enough that it wasn’t a bad thing really. One of the guitarists was playing an eight string guitar which is kind of weird for a black metal band and seemed a bit unnecessary. I wouldn’t have gone to just see them but they were a good support act on a black metal tour like this.

Next up was the headliner, Proclamation from Madrid, Spain. They’re a three piece black metal band and as far as I can tell this was their first US tour and this was the final stop on said tour. I hadn’t ever heard of them when this tour was announced and I checked out a few of their songs online leading up to the gig but they didn’t seem to stand out that much to me. I found them much more entertaining live I must say. Their songs weren’t overly long, they didn’t try to be ultra dramatic and epic, and their vocalist knew all the words (even while playing guitar). They were just straight up, pissed off Satanic black metal and they were pretty good at it. The band’s drummer really punched it the entire night, the guy just didn’t slow down! He was quick and really kept the pace and energy levels high for their entire set. On top of the relentless drumming, Proclamation had some great guitar riffs in there too. Several songs built up brutal momentum very well and their assault on the ears was quite an energy boost on this Tuesday night. There were no big surprises in their sound but they had just enough variation to keep their songs interesting and I can’t say I was bored at any point during their set. They all came out with sort of corpse paint on, they had black make up on their eyes but no white face paint underneath. They all had necklaces on with various things hanging off of them, bones and upside down crosses and the like. They played 15 songs and they all drank from their beer bottles almost in unison immediately after each song ended. They didn’t really address the audience between songs, other than to bark out the next song’s title. They played a Sarcófago cover and that seemed to please the largely Latin American crown. Otherwise Proclamation kept it straight forward, heavy and blasphemous. No frills and no big surprises but certainly high intensity throughout their set. They did not perform an encore after their set, even though the audience wanted one.

I’m glad I decided to check Proclamation out. The show was worth the drive to Baltimore, even on a week night. I’m going to have to go back and give their studio material a few more listens because I really enjoyed them live. Proclamation won’t change your opinion of the black metal sub genre nor blow your mind, but if you’re into black metal I recommend seeing them if you ever get the chance. As usual I posted photos of both Proclamation and Abazagorath (click their respective names to see them) and I posted some videos from the show below as well. The videos are all pretty dark but you should at least be able to hear the bands alright. I really need to get a new video camera but I don’t see that in my financial forecast any time in the foreseeable future. Feel free to donate one to me, ya know, for Satan or something.

Review of Liturgy gig at DC9

The Brooklyn based black metal band Liturgy played a gig on Tuesday the 5th of July 2011 at DC9 and even though I was running a fever I still headed up there to catch them play. I’m glad I did as it was an entertaining show, even if I was feeling as sick as a Cerberus. I was running a bit late getting there, and apparently a third “band” had been added to the lineup but I didn’t see them play. I heard it was a few guys with laptops and synthesizers or something and that sounded awful so I didn’t even want to go upstairs to find out more. It’s bad enough DJ nights are taking away more and more booking spots at venues, apparently now they’re creeping into the opener slots as well. Anyways, the next band was called Dope Body, from Baltimore. To put it bluntly, they were awful. They weren’t particularly heavy, certainly more rock band than metal. Their songs were highly repetitive which wouldn’t be awful if they were playing something more interesting than chopsticks. The vocalist had a lot of stage presence and was moving all around the stage but when the band announced they still had a few more songs left to play I decided to go downstairs and sit for a while. I was really feeling sick by that point and this band just wasn’t doing it for me at all.

After a short while I moved upstairs again to see the band I came here for, Liturgy. Liturgy is a fairly controversial band in the metal world. The thing that seems to make them the most controversial is that they don’t adhere to what metal heads expect of a black metal band, and they do that on purpose. They don’t wear corpse paint or spikes or any of the other stereotypical black metal imagery. It should be noted that not all “true” black metal bands like that stuff any more either, many saying it’s been over done. I can’t remember the last time I saw any of the old “inner circle” black metal bands wear corpse paint on stage, other than Immortal that is. Yet Liturgy is often labeled as hipsters though I didn’t see any skinny jeans or ironic tshirts. Maybe I’m not up to date on what constitutes being a hipster these days. (Please don’t bother explaining in the comments, I don’t care). Regardless of appearance, Liturgy is black metal with a lot of atmosphere and progression. They’re comparable to bands like Wolves In The Throne Room, Krallice and Weakling in that way, though they have their own distinct sound. They’ve got a bit of indie rock aesthetic in there too, though not in that Alcest shoegazey way. Their older material was definitely more rooted in black metal but now they’re starting to drift away into something different, something that is their own. Honestly, their music simply isn’t as dark as most black metal bands, but that’s not to say it isn’t bleak. The music often goes from dark and brooding and elevates itself to something lighter, and sometimes back again. The band’s main man, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, has angered many in his interviews with his views on metal and it’s community. But live, the guy seemed extremely soft spoken. When he was playing his music and screaming into the microphone during the songs it seemed like he was letting it all out. When he did speak between songs he spoke so softly, sort of mumbling, that I could hear people in the audience asking what he had just said. Not what I was expecting at all from the guy who’s words have pissed off so many in the underground metal world. They played several songs from their new album (see the concert’s setlist here) and they fit in well with the older material that was in there as well. The vocals were highly reverbed and their songs went through slow progressions, sometimes almost seeming to stall if it wasn’t for the band’s drummer keeping everything moving so well. He kept the show moving long and he really stood out to me live. My fever broke midway through their set and I started sweating all over the place but I didn’t mind, the songs kept me captivated for their entire set. By the time they finished I was sweating profusely but I was feeling better, surely it was Liturgy’s take on black metal that helped me transcend my illness, if even just temporarily (I was back to being sick the next day).

The audience wasn’t your typical black metal crowd, but that’s totally fine by me. It’s nice to see people outside the typical metal ‘clique’ going to see metal bands. I did recognize a few faces and a few of you came up to say hi and that you like reading my site, that’s always awesome and I often don’t know what to say and start rambling incoherently. There was a good sized crowd for a Tuesday, especially considering it was the night after a major holiday and at a venue that rarely gets metal bands. I really enjoyed watching Liturgy play that night and I’m glad I got to see them start off their tour that night. If you’re someone who thinks black metal must be kvlt and fit into some rigid standard to be “true” then you’re not going to like these guys. If you think black metal only means the ultimate in blasphemous and unholy music, again, you’re not going to enjoy Liturgy. If, however, you’re interested in seeing a band experiment with what black metal is and can be, I highly recommend checking them out. It was an interesting ride and I can’t wait to see them again, hopefully I’ll be feeling better for their next area appearance.

I gave away a pair of tickets to this concert and now I’m giving away a pair of tickets to see Torche at the Rock & Roll Hotel on Saturday the 16th of July, be sure to enter here. Now check out the videos below that I shot at this concert. The lighting is really dark but the audio should be OK if you want to hear how they sounded.