Interview with Sean Doolittle of the Washington Nationals

Most of the people I interview on DC Heavy Metal are in metal bands but when I found out that one of the Washington Nationals is a fellow metal head I just had to reach out and try to get an interview. Sean Doolittle found time in his busy schedule to record this interview with me on March 20th, 2018. We mention a metal playlist he put together for the Nats players and you can see that in iTunes here. Sean and his wife, Eireann Dolan, also work with several charities that involve military veterans and while he talks about one of them in the interview, a lack of comprehension on my part led me to not mention another that he works with, High Ground Veterans Advocacy. This organization helps train veterans to professionally advocate for issues that benefit veterans. If this is your first time at DCHM be sure to visit our calendar of all the upcoming heavy metal concerts in our area here and if you’d like to check out more of my interviews you can do that by going here. You can listen to the entire 35 minute interview with Sean Doolittle by clicking the orange play button below or you can download it as a 49mb mp3 here. The entire interview is also transcribed below, as usual my words are in bold. Bonus metal points if you read along while you listen!

This is Metal Chris of DCHeavyMetal.com and today I’ve got a special guest on the phone with me, Sean Doolittle of the Nationals. In addition to being a metal head, Sean is also a closing pitcher on the Nats. He attended college at the University of Virginia, was drafted by the Oakland A’s who traded him to the Washington Nationals in July of 2017 just a couple weeks before the trade deadline last season. This will be Sean’s first full season with the Nationals and the team’s home opening game will be on Thursday, April 5th against the New York Mets. Now Sean, I first found out that you were a metal head a couple of weeks ago when my friend Lars Gotrich over at NPR @’d me in a retweet of a playlist you posted on Twitter that was full of metal songs that you played for the rest of the team during practice. You had a wide range of bands on there from old classics like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden to newer bands like Khemmis and Power Trip. I could tell right away that you are really into metal. So to get started here can you tell me how you first got into listening to heavy metal?

Oh man I guess I was introduced to it by my dad. I remember when we were kids I was playing Little League or travel baseball as early as 8 or 9 years old. When we would be going to the games in the minivan we would be blasting Black Sabbath or Ozzy Osbourne or AC/DC or Metallica and that was my introduction to it. That was a lot of the music that my dad was into and [on] those long car trips playing travel baseball that was pretty much all we listened to and then as I got older I really started to branch out from there and explore a lot of really different kinds of metal.

Sean Doolittle of the Washington Nationals

Sean Doolittle photo courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club

I saw that you had some heavier stuff on that playlist like Death and At the Gates. Do you get into a lot of death metal bands?

Yeah I do. So like, a little about that playlist. We have these big portable speakers at practice that we take out onto the field with us and the strength coach will essentially tell a guy the day before, “hey put together a playlist for practice tomorrow” and it’ll be playing over the speakers as we’re going through our day on the field. And I had politely declined like three times because I was like I don’t think anybody is really going to want to hear this. I don’t know if guys will be able to really get that much done in practice with their faces melting off or if they’re headbanging and they miss something the coach just said or something like that.

Haha.

So I tried to make it like a crash course. Like an introduction to metal starting with Black Sabbath and Judas Priest in the late 70’s and early 80’s, kinda going through thrash and New Wave of British Heavy Metal and then being in Florida right now for spring training I had to make sure that I put Death on there. I kind of go through phases of different kinds of music that I listen to but Death and Obituary are two of my favorite death metal bands and I always come back to [them] so I had to make sure that Death had a spot on that playlist for sure.

Now I noticed you didn’t have any black metal or grindcore on there. Are those genres you don’t really like that much or you just figure that might be too much for the other players to handle?

A little bit of both I guess. I don’t really dabble in grindcore too much. Agoraphobic Nosebleed, which is just one of my favorite combinations of words to say, their earlier stuff was really grindcore but the most recent release that they had…

I think it was called Arc, yeah.

Yeah. That was extremely my taste. That was really cool. I’m not exactly sure what subgenre that would fall into but black metal… that playlist was an intro to it but Tribulation. I love their new album [titled Down Below]. That would have been a worthy addition to the playlist but no I would say I tend to spend more time with thrash, death metal and doom metal probably.

So what is your favorite subgenre of heavy metal then?

Heh heh. It rotates man. I’ll be honest I was spoiled. I played six years in Oakland and the bands that came out of the Bay Area that were all from right around there. That Bay Area thrash sound, obviously Metallica, Testament and Death Angel and Exodus, I was spoiled over there and I got really into some of that stuff but it rotates. I come down to Florida and for the first like half of spring training I was listening to a lot of Death and Obituary and Monstrosity and Malevolent Creation, you know that Tampa scene in the early 90’s. It also kind of depends on what I’m doing at that time. If I have to do a workout or if I’m trying to get cardio in I might listen to different things. I guess my tastes are really all over the place.

So I also noticed you had a couple of bands [on the playlist] with ties to our area like Periphery and Animals As Leaders. So are there any other bands from around here that you’re into?

Yeah I love Periphery. I’ve actually been listening to one of their side projects, Haunted Shores.

It’s like instrumental right?

Yeah it’s all instrumental. I really like it, I’ve been listening to that a lot during spring training. The other DC band, the Agoraphobic Nosebleed EP that we talked about, Arc, I listen to that a lot. I listen to, I don’t know how to say it because I’ve never heard it pronounced, is it Ilsa?

Yeah, Ilsa.

Yeah. That new, heh, Corpse Fortress, which I think is a amazingly good metal name for an album.

So there’s a story behind the name of that album actually. There used to be, in Silver Spring, a little DIY house show venue and bands coming through on tour would play the basement of this place all the time and it was called the Corpse Fortress. And I think one or two of the guys from Ilsa actually lived there back then and at some point the landlord found out and kicked everybody out kind of thing. But there’s probably a good four or five years there where I saw some awesome bands play there that later were getting signed to these labels and stuff and Ilsa is one of them. So it’s kind of a nod to the local metal heads here I think. That they named it Corpse Fortress. That wasn’t a coincidence I’m sure.

That’s awesome actually. That’s a really cool story. That makes me like it even more. I’ve been playing it nonstop for the last week but that’s really cool.

So Bryce Harper has been seen hanging out with the local rapper Wale before. Is there anyone from the DC area music scene that you’d go hang out with, maybe catch a show at the 9:30 Club or something?

Shoot man, any of those guys from those bands that I just talked about. I have talked a very little bit with Mark Holcomb of Periphery and would love to cross paths with them at some point. The guys from Animals As Leaders are one of my favorite groups. I’m not a morning person but in the morning I’ll get to the field, I’ll throw on some Animals As Leaders and just go really get lost in my morning routine, my stretches and some of the exercises that I have to do every day. It’s a really good way to start my day. But no man, any of those guys from those DC bands it would be really cool to hang out with or have them out at the field or something. That would be really neat.

Well I do know a few of those guys so maybe I’ll pass it along. Hopefully they’ll read or listen to this interview anyway, haha. So before you were on the Nats you were with the Oakland A’s for several years and every metal head knows of the Bay Area’s famous thrash scene like we were already talking about bands like Metallica, Testament, Exodus, Death Angel, Forbidden, all these bands came from there. So while you were out there did you ever get to meet any of the members from any of those classic thrash bands?

Yeah I did actually. I got to meet the guys from Metallica a couple times because I’ve used Metallica‘s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” as my intro song since 2012, since my rookie year. You know at the time I just felt like there was a cool connection between Metallica and the Bay Area, especially an older Metallica song like that and we also had another pitcher in our bullpen, he came out to [another Metallica song] “One” so we had a couple guys with Metallica songs that were pitching back to back in the later innings of the game which was really cool and the crowd would headbang. They had this kind of choreographed headbang dance that they did to the song which was really neat but I ended up getting to meet them a couple times. One time they did a show in Berkeley at, I believe it was Amoeba Records, for Record Store Day. They played a full set in this record store. They threw up a stage in the corner and they closed the place down. It was tough to get into. I had to pull the Major League Baseball player’s card to be able to get in but I’ve gotten to know their manager a little bit and he’s become a really good friend and he’s hooked me up more than once and I really appreciate it. So they play this show for maybe like a couple hundred people and then they threw this party at the house they used to live in, I believe it’s [in] El Cerrito, over by Berkeley. They found the house they used to live in when they were first starting out in the early 80’s and they paid the people that live there now to kind of take it over for 24 hours and then they redecorated it like it used to look and there were a bunch of people there that they were friends with, especially early on in their careers but it was such a surreal experience. My wife and I were there. I brought another teammate of mine along and kind of just tried to stay out of the way for most of the night and just watch but I got to meet the guys from Metallica were there and that was really cool. I also got to meet Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel from Machine Head which was really cool. They’re big baseball fans and they came to several games and we had Robb’s son and his Little League team, we had them out and had them on the field one day before a game. That was really, really cool. Robb hooked me up with one of his signature guitars which is one of the coolest things I’ve ever been given. So yeah, like I said, I was pretty spoiled in the Bay Area but I’m looking forward to learning a lot more about this DC metal scene.

Sean Doolittle Bobblehead

Bobblehead photo courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club

On Friday the 13th of April the Nationals play a home game against the Colorado Rockies. The first 25,000 fans that enter the stadium will be getting a bobblehead of you, and don’t get me wrong that’s pretty cool, but in 2016 when you were on the A’s still they gave away a lawn gnome of you that had you throwing the metal horns and wearing a black Metallica shirt and when you pushed a button on it it would play segments from “For Whom the Bell Tolls” which as you said was your intro music. Now how did that come about?

Hahaha. That was really cool man. That was a fun project to work on cause they let me have some input on the design of it and I said I wanted something different and they said “well what about something that had audio?” The fans had really taken to my intro song. Like I said they had this really cool kind of headbang. Oakland has a group of fans in the bleachers who got really into it and kind of made a thing out of it and so they wanted to tie that in somehow and in order for me to be wearing a Metallica shirt we had to get permission from the band to wear it so that was the beginning of getting hooked up with Metallica and meeting their manager. I ended up being able to go to their headquarters in San Rafael and kind of get a behind the scenes look at their metal laboratory/hang out which was really, really cool. Yeah and like the beard, the ginger beard that they threw on there had almost like Troll Doll hair. This thing was really cool. The bobblehead that they have now, the Nationals one, it, heh, it’s eerie how much it looks like me. I was involved a little bit in the process of making it and this one, I’m in a Nationals uniform and it doesn’t have noise but it’s so well done I hope people don’t give it to their dogs as like a dog toy or something like that. Haha. I hope they at least find a spot for it on their desk or something.

Well I’m wondering, do you think there’s a way we’ll ever get something that metal for the Nats to give away?

I hope so man, I hope so. Man the fans in DC have really welcomed me and they’ve supported me so much. I feel like I’ve played here for a really long time. When I come into the game now and they play the intro song they have these bells that look like they’re ringing on the video board. They’re starting to expand that and kind of take it and run with it a little bit and you know the fans I think if I can continue to pitch well and they continue to like me, then yeah we might be able to come up with something like that. Something a little bit different and a little bit more metal.

Yeah it seems like metal, slowly but surely, is starting to become something a little more visible in the sports world and hopefully the rest of the world. Did you happen to catch the Hungarian figure skater Ivett Tóth at the Olympics cause she came out in a studded leather battle jacket with a back patch on it for her performance at the Olympics and was skating around to “Back In Black” and “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC and I’m not a huge fan of figure skating but that was pretty amazing I thought. Do you think there’s anything about heavy metal that some athletes would really be drawn to?

That’s actually awesome. I did not know that about the figure skater but as soon as we’re done here I’m probably going to YouTube it. I think there’s a lot of parallels between metal music and sports. When my playlist was playing there were a lot of guys that this was new to them, right? They [had] never really heard any I guess extreme metal and they were like “well why do they sound so angry? This song sounds exactly like the song before it. What is going on?” The more you listen to it the more you can get a feel for the vocals and you can actually hear the lyrics and you can learn what they’re singing about and a lot of the songs there’s a substance to the lyrics, right? They’re telling a story or there’s some kind of social commentary there or there’s some weight maybe behind it. And then as far as the instrumentals go, the music itself, being able to play that fast or that loud or multiple guitar parts interweaving or overlapping over each other or the drum parts, that’s what sports is all about. You have all these moving parts that come together and they fit perfectly together and it forms a really cohesive product at the end and you spend a lot of time right on the verge of being out of control but you still are able to do all these really specific, really intricate movements. I think there’s the team aspect. If you’ve got one of the musicians in the band that’s not pulling his weight [it’s] gonna bring the quality of the music down. Same thing is true in sports. I feel like there’s a lot there. It also just gets me a little bit more fired up than some other kinds of music.

I know Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson is a big fan of music and now that he’s retired he’s taken up photography including something that I love to do which is concert photography. He’s shot bands from several different musical genres including some metal bands like Slayer, Lamb of God and Judas Priest to name a few. Have you ever met the Big Unit and if so have you ever asked him about his tastes in metal at all?

I’ve never actually met him but a few years ago in spring training I was at a concert that he was at, working. He was there to take pictures of it. You talk about like your two interests at the center of a Venn diagram I have Randy Johnson Hall of Fame pitcher taking pictures of this concert that I was at. It was an All That Remains concert in Tempe a few years ago and it was just really cool. His work is really, really good but because he’s so tall, he’s 6’10” he kind of sticks out you know? During the show it was funny to see him. He would all the sudden just appear and like rise up from above the drum kit and take a picture and then slowly just kind of crouch back down behind it. And then you wouldn’t see him for a little bit and then [during] the next song all the sudden he would pop up from behind the amplifiers on one side of the stage and you were like, “oh my god there he is again” and then he would go back down and then he would come out in front of the stage and shoot and it was just funny because we were watching the show, right cause I was with a group of baseball players, and we were watching the show but we were also mind blown by the fact that Randy Johnson was taking pictures like this and we were trying to figure out where he was going to go next. We were off to the side of the stage before the show and he was walking around back there. I didn’t want to bother him. We didn’t want to like fanboy and bother him but it was funny to watch him interact with members of some of the other bands that were there and wonder if they really had a concept of who this guy was. They might know that he played baseball before but do they really know that this is one of the best pitchers of all time? It was really neat.

Sean Doolittle of the Washington Nationals

Sean Doolittle photo courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club

So do you know any other Major League Baseball players that are really into heavy metal?

There’s a few that I’ve played with over the years. There was a team that I played with in Oakland in 2012 and ’13 that had some pretty serious metal heads on it. A guy named Travis Blackley. He’s an Australian and he was into all kinds of metal. He gravitated a little bit more towards some of the bands from his home country. Parkway Drive and bands like that and we had another Australian guy in the bullpen, Grant Balfour, and he was super into heavy metal. He was the other guy that used a Metallica song to come out from the bullpen. Pat Neshek, he’s with the Phillies now but he was a metal head. John Axford, I played with him in Oakland. Now he’s in camp with the Blue Jays. He’s a big metal head. He was actually helping me with my playlist. He was making sure that I put Meshuggah and Sepultura on there. Those were bands that he played a lot in the weight room when we were in Oakland together so there’s a handful of us out there. We’re kind of few and far between but it’s a good fraternity for sure.

So when you did play that playlist at that practice did you make any conversions? Did any of the other players actually find a band or two that they really liked or anything like that?

You know, ummmm… not really haha. Like I said the playlist was kind of in chronological order and as we got towards some of the songs that I had put on there from the mid 2000’s, I had a Slipknot song on there, I had a Disturbed song on there, a Killswitch Engage song, an All That Remains song. Some guys recognized that stuff. I put a Volbeat song on there and a Five Finger Death Punch song on there. Those are bands that get played in the weight room right now. Actually we had a pitcher last year, and he’s still on the team now, a guy named Ryan Madson, who came out to a Khemmis song last year so I put a Khemmis song on the metal playlist and guys liked that. They seem to like when they can clearly understand the words and would prefer clean singing to some of the screams and the growls but we get some heavier stuff that plays in the weight room but it’s usually in the vein of a Volbeat or Five Finger Death Punch or Disturbed or something like that. I kind of took it to the next level and definitely blew some people’s minds.

So when do you usually listen to music anyways? Sort of like driving in the car or is it mostly when you’re working out or doing warm ups or when do you like to listen to music?

Yeah it’s mostly when I’m around the field. In the weight room I’ll put my headphones on and when I’m doing my warm up before practice or working out after practice or getting in some kind of running I feel like I gotta have my music to get me through some of that stuff. Right before the game I actually go the complete opposite direction and I’ll meditate and put on something like instrumental. I’ve realized, maybe I’m getting older but, I’ve realized that I pitch better when I’m a little bit calmer and if I get super jacked up before the game sometimes I take the mound and I’m a little bit over amped but then right after the game while the adrenaline is still flowing I’ll put it back on to do whatever post game stuff I have to do or if I pitched that night a lot of times I have to work out or do some kind of arm exercises to kind of shut it down after I throw. So I mean, pretty much when I’m at the field but one of my favorite things to do, my wife can attest to this, is just to throw my headphones on, grab my laptop and just sit on the couch and listen to music. I’ll have the tv on but I obviously can’t hear it and whether I’m on iTunes or Spotify, just trying to find new bands. I like listening to new stuff that I haven’t heard before and kind of exploring a little bit and that’s one of my favorite things to do. Calm down and just maybe get away from baseball for a little while and just listen to music.

Sean Doolittle of the Washington Nationals

Sean Doolittle prefers Metallica

I’ve got a few typical metal questions that I’d like to ask. I think I know the answer to the first one but who do you prefer, Metallica or Megadeth?

Metallica, hahaha.

So what do you think about in Black Sabbath? Do you like Ozzy [Osbourne] or [Ronnie James] Dio better?

Ozzy just because that was kind of the original and that was also what I heard first. You know like how whatever you hear first is kind of like the thing that you associate it with the most whether that was actually the thing that came first or not. So I love Dio and I made sure that I had some Dio on that playlist but I have to say Ozzy.

Alright so how about with Anthrax? Do you prefer Joey Belladonna or John Bush era?

I haven’t gotten into Anthrax and I’m from New Jersey. I’m from close to where they’re from. I need to get on the train. So actually I’ll flip this on you and ask, where should I start with their catalog? Cause that’s part of the problem is that I don’t know where to start and it feels pretty overwhelming. If I’m gonna start, where should I start with?

I think most people would say Among the Living is probably where you would start with Anthrax.

Ok.

That’s sort of their classic album. When they play an album straight through it’s usually that one.

Ok.

Now currently they’ve got Joey Belladonna back in the band so that might be part of it too cause I do not believe that he does the songs with John Bush. John Bush is now the singer for Armored Saint so he’s still doing stuff too just not with Anthrax.

Ok.

Another question then is, what’s the best metal concert you’ve ever been to?

Oh man, uhhhhh… let’s see. I don’t get to as many as I really would like to because we travel so much and in the off season I tend to be a little bit of a homebody and just kind of recharge my batteries for a couple months but in 2016 I saw Corrosion of Conformity and Lamb of God at the Fox Theater in Oakland and that was awesome. That was really cool. That was actually the last one that I’ve been to, geez Louise, so I would probably say that one. I got to talk to Randy [Blythe, vocalist of Lamb of God] after the show which was really cool to just even meet him. That was really awesome.

What was your first metal concert then?

I didn’t go to a metal concert for a while. The first one I went to was, I think it was in 2012. I went to a show in Tempe called The Ghost Inside. I went with aforementioned Travis Blackley, a teammate of mine who was on the A’s, we were on the A’s together and yeah we saw The Ghost Inside and Stray From The Path. I guess that’s hardcore, post punk hardcore, whatever you want to call it but it was heavy and it was fucking awesome.

Do you play any instruments?

No I don’t. I, heh heh, want to but I played the piano growing up and I played it all the way up into high school but shoot, I don’t even think I could do that any more. I don’t even know if I could still do music but no I don’t play any instruments. I don’t really have that much rhythm.

Alright so what’s your all time favorite band then?

All time favorite band, I have to start with Metallica and from there I don’t know man like you could ask me this question next week and it could be totally different but the ones that I come back to the most, I would say, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Death, Machine Head and Meshuggah.

Alright, alright. That’s a pretty good selection there.

Yeah I think that would be my top five but after it a disclaimer, subject to change.

So what’s the most influential album to you? You know everybody’s kind of got an album that really just means something to them or changed the way they looked at music or something like that.

For me I think it’s Metallica‘s Ride the Lightning. I know this is turning into a Metallica podcast and I apologize for that.

It’s alright man, it’s alright.

That was the first album that I bought with my allowance money when I was a kid. I remember if I was like shopping with my mom and I was good I got to go to the music store. I think I bought it when I was in maybe fifth grade, no seventh grade. It was seventh grade. I had some friends in school that liked Metallica and I had listened to the black album [officially Metallica‘s self titled album] a lot. My dad would play it in the car and stuff but I wanted this one. I was super drawn to the album artwork and I remember I bought it. I’d never heard it before. I just thought it looked really cool and I knew it was Metallica so I wanted it. I bought it. I brought it home. I put it in my boombox in my room and I pressed play and the [first] song opens with acoustic guitars. And I was like, “oh shit. I bought the wrong album. What is this? I don’t understand” and keep in mind I’m in the seventh grade. I’d never heard “Fight Fire with Fire” before and they start with these hauntingly beautiful acoustic guitars and then all the sudden this thrash just hits you right in your face and I was like, “yes! Yeah, this is what I need!” and then by the end of that evening my parents were throwing stuff at the ceiling cause I was playing my music too loud in my room.

Cover of Ride the Lightning by Metallica

Cover of Ride the Lightning by Metallica

Hahahaha. That was one of my first metal album purchases as well. I remember showing it to my dad being like, “hey I’m going to buy this, ok?” and I remember him flipping it over to look at the songs on the back and I was like, “there’s no way in hell he’s going to let me get this album with these songs like ‘Fight Fire with Fire’ and ‘Trapped Under Ice’ and things like that on it” and he read them over and he’s like, “alright, you can get it” and I was like, “oh no way.” I just remember being so excited that he even let me buy it, you know with my own money but still. And I found out years later that the real thing he was looking for at that time was he just wanted to make sure the songs weren’t all about sex. You know he didn’t mind that there was some electric chair on the cover of this thing and it was called Ride the Lightning so somehow I ended up getting that and I played the hell out of that tape. It was one of the first tapes I had that actually wore out from how many times I’d played it.

That’s awesome. And it didn’t have the parental advisory warning on the front.

Exactly.

So like how bad could it be, right?

You talked about it a little bit earlier but I’d like to know how do you find new music, new metal bands to check out? Do you have certain websites or magazines or what do you use to find new stuff?

I read Decibel. I’ve found a lot of stuff on there but really one of my favorite things to do is on iTunes, I’ll go to the iTunes store and they always have albums in the metal genre section. There’s albums that are featured, there’s new music, new releases and I’ll just click on one and I’ll start listening to it and then depending on how I’m feeling I’ll go to related and scroll down and check out other bands that are either related or other songs that people bought. You know, people who bought this also bought this, and just kind of check it out and the next thing I know I’ve gone down this metal rabbit hole where I’m listening to stuff I’ve never even heard of before and then sometimes I’ll Google an album to look at for review to see is this really as good as I think it is? But most of the time I just bounce around iTunes for hours listening to different stuff that I’ve never heard of before or I’ll start with an album I have in my library and go from there. It’s a good way to kill three or four hours.

Yeah I do some similar stuff like that. I’m always digging for new stuff too. So what have been some of your favorite albums of late, in the last say year?

Let’s see I really, really, really liked the new Power Trip album. I guess that came out last year.

Yeah, Nightmare Logic, that’s a great album.

I thought 2017 was a really good year for metal. I have no idea what other people thought about it but the newest Pallbearer album, Heartless, I really liked. The Haunted came back with a new album that I really liked, Strength in Numbers. I played the hell out of that. I don’t listen to a ton of new stuff. A lot of the stuff I listen to is older. I played those three a lot. I know Obituary had a new one last year that I thought was really good. Thy Art Is Murder, I liked that one. Dear Desolation I think it was called. Fit for an Autopsy, Jersey guys. I’m originally from New Jersey so I like that one a lot. Those are ones that I listened to quite a bit.

Now you’re saying you were from New Jersey before. You’re down from like the Philly area right? So you probably grew up a Phillies fan and now you’re on the Nationals. How’s that going? Hahaha.

It’s awesome actually but one of the coolest things is now I share a bullpen with Ryan Madson who we talked about before. He was a really big part of those Phillies teams in ’08 and ’09 that went to the World Series so now to play with him, to share a bullpen with him and learn from him everyday is such a cool experience. By the time those teams, they went to the World Series, I was already in the Oakland Athletics minor league system but growing up in the Philly area and having friends from there and having been a Phillies fan before I got drafted I was paying attention to it and I knew how much that run that they made mattered to Phillies fans and the city of Philadelphia and stuff like that so for that part of it to come full circle was really cool and I finally got to play in Citizens Bank Park last year for the first time since I was in high school. I played in a high school tournament that we got to play one game at Citizens Bank Park but to be able to play there in the major leagues was, it was really cool. It was one of the only stadiums I hadn’t played in in my career and I get goose bumps just thinking about it. It was really a special experience.

You also are a UVA grad. You played for the Cavaliers there before you were drafted by the A’s. So I have to ask, how are you doing with that UMBC win the other night?

Hahahaha. Oh man. Hey this is good. Let’s see it took like 40 minutes to get to bringing that up so I appreciate that because there have been several people, mainly my teammates, that could not wait to bring that up. I’m doing ok. I’m doing ok. The second half it was so ugly that I think I went through all of the stages of grieving in the last ten minutes of the game and by the end of it I was like alright. I watched the UMBC game the other night cause I wanted them to win. I think objectively it would have been a really fun game to watch if you weren’t a UVA fan. I just feel for the coach, Tony Bennett. I feel for the seniors on that team for all that they’ve accomplished in their careers at UVA. They won 31 games and they won the ACC regular season and conference tournament but at the end of the day this is probably what’s going to define them and I just feel for them man. I feel for them but, shoot, there’s always next year and if anything it just shows how lucky we are to have Tony Bennett as a coach. The guy running that program has handled it better than [I] could have ever hoped for. You never think that’s going to happen but that’s sports.

Yeah I was actually at a metal show, the night of that going on, in Baltimore. So you know the people up in Baltimore were pretty excited about that. Nobody believed it was happening.

Haha. Oh my gosh. It was happening. Heh heh. It happened. Oh man. Sheez. Yeah I bet Baltimore was going nuts. It was probably a different vibe than my apartment. I was pacing around for two hours.

Operation Finally Home logo

Now there’s something more serious I’d like to talk with you about. Doing research for this interview I quickly discovered that along with being a metal head and a major league pitcher you’re also quite the philanthropist. In June of 2015 the A’s had a gay pride night which apparently got a lot of backlash from some of the team’s fans and you and your wife bought hundreds of tickets to that game and donated them to local LGBTQ groups. In November of the same year you two hosted 17 families of Syrian refugees for Thanksgiving dinner and you’ve done things like publicly denounce Donald Trump after his awful “grab them by the pussy” comments and you work for a charity that helps veterans called Operation Finally Home. Now I come from a Navy family myself and I’d like you to tell me what this charity does for veterans.

Ok so Operation Finally Home is an awesome charity that, they’re based in New Braunfels, Texas, kind of near San Antonio, and they help military families all over the country and they build mortgage free, brand new homes for wounded veterans and their families or families of the fallen. What’s awesome is they take into account the needs of the veteran, whether it’s the mother or the father of the family, and if there’s any specific things that they need for the house, if it needs to be wheelchair accessible or something like that. That way they’re not getting a house that’s retrofitted or something that’s been lived in already. They get a brand new house. A couple things that really stand out to me is the way that they get the community involved in the process of building of the house because they go into these communities, these towns across the country, and they find local contractors and builders and workers that are willing to donate their time or their materials so that they’re all kind of invested in welcoming this family into their new home and into their community and seeing the way that these families go from serving their country to serving their community, becoming really involved in some of the community activities that they have going on. This is like the biggest thing that they could have possibly taken off their plate is having a place to live. Having a new home. And it’s been amazing to keep in touch with some of these families and to see how involved they get in their communities and how much that they take this opportunity and make the absolute most of it and it’s a great organization. We’ve worked with them for several years and every Christmas my wife and I, it’s one of our favorite things to do. We go shopping for a couple of these families so that their first Christmas in their new home is a little bit more special and extra memorable and we make sure that there is plenty of presents under their tree and just let them know that there’s people that are thinking about them and with everything that they’ve been through we just want their first Christmas in their new home to be everything that they envisioned that it could possibly be. They’ve worked with a handful of families in the DC area as well and we’re looking forward to getting involved with them and doing some more stuff with them cause they’re really a special group.

Do you know how people can donate or other ways they can help this group?

Yeah you can go on Operation Finally Home‘s website and you can get a bunch of information there. You can check out projects that they have around the country. They have a map that shows some projects that are currently in progress and you can see if you can get involved or help out with any of those. You can donate on there. So I would just say check out OperationFinallyHome.org and you can learn a lot more about it there. One of the cool things that they do is they always surprise the family in like a weird way when they’re least expecting it. They might think that their surprise is that they got to go to a Houston Texans game or something like that and then the next thing you know they find out, while they’re at the game, they get surprised with the news that they’re getting a new house and to see their reaction to see how much it means to them, it’s pretty heavy stuff and it’s a good example of just how special of an organization it is.

Well I know it’s easy to talk about respecting and supporting veterans but you and your wife Eireann really do walk the walk and I do respect you a lot for that. So that’s pretty much it for my questions here. Thanks for taking the time to do all this with me. I know you guys had a spring training game today and I’m sure you get more and more busy as the regular season approaches. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the metal heads and the Nationals fans in the DC area?

Heh heh. No man just that I’m looking forward to getting back to DC and I’m looking forward to a fresh start to a new season and the Nats fans have been so welcoming to me and my wife since we’ve come over. We can’t wait to get back to work. I appreciate you having me on. I appreciate you letting me talk about Operation Finally Home and both my wife and I come from military families so veterans issues are something that are very, very important to us [and something] we try to stay involved in so we’ll probably be doing some more of that stuff this year as well.

Alright man. Well thanks again for coming on here with me and let’s hope the Nationals have another great run this year.

Thanks man. Thanks for having me.

Alright, take it easy.

Metal and Beer collide!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but lately the worlds of craft beer and heavy metal have really been colliding, even more than they usually do. Last week the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) was held in DC. It’s a multi-day conference that is held in a different city each year and this year DC hosted it at the convention center. Craft brewers from around the country attend to take seminars and learn about new techniques and equipment they can brew with, as well as learn about how to better market their beer and other things like that. That’s great if you’re a brewer but for the rest of us CBC coming to town means a ton of side-events at bars and breweries in the area as our city hosts all these out of town brewers. Many breweries brought beers that normally aren’t distributed in our area but thanks to DC’s awesome beer distribution laws they can be sold in DC during the festival. That’s why so many bars had tap take overs from out of area breweries last week and so many of the specialty beer stores had beers from breweries that we never usually see around here.

Aside from exotic beers at Churchkey, Meridian Pint, Jack Rose and other places with CBC related events, there were a couple of metal shows during CBC week as well. DC Brau’s 6th anniversary happened to be during CBC week so they put together a one off show with Baroness at the 9:30 Club on Wednesday, April 12th. The band put on a great performance and played many old songs since 2017 is the 10th anniversary of their first album. I had a photo pass and got to take a few shots right up front and you can see them below. Click here to see the full set on Flickr. I even made a couple into animated gifs!

John Baizley of Baroness at the 9:30 Club

John Baizley of Baroness at the 9:30 Club

Pete Adams of Baroness at the 9:30 Club

Baroness at the 9:30 Club

John Baizley of Baroness at the 9:30 Club

The following night, Thursday the 13th of April, I put on another metal night with my partner in crime Brewer Will over at Atlas Brew Works. We had live metal bands, concert ticket give aways, a lot of great beer and a ton of fellow metal heads in attendance. The Denver based black metal themed brewery Trve had three guest beers on tap and Atlas had some of their most “metal” brews pouring as well including The Emprosator, a doppelbock named for a Russian Circles album, HaSaWoDo, a saison named after the Bongripper album Hail Satan Worship Doom, and their collaboration with Champion Brewing made for Decibel Magazine, the Decibeer DIPA. Lots of brewers from outside the area (in town for CBC of course) stopped by including the gang from Metal Monkey Brewing in Chicago and Jester King in Austin. Lord, Cavern and headliner King Giant all put on excellent performances and you can catch a bit of each of their sets, and hear the guys in Lord and King Giant talk about their gear and rigs, in the below video that Guitar Guru Network posted on YouTube, shot entirely at the event. If you just want to see to the parts of the video with the bands performing live then skip to when Lord starts at 16:20, Cavern at 24:11 and King Giant at 46:25.

When CBC ended the beer and metal collision continued! On Monday, April 17th, another metal show came to Atlas Brew Works. Canadian black metal band Thantifaxath headlined the venue with local support by Myopic and Sickdeer. After talking to one of the mysterious and anonymous members of the band, I came to find out that he was also a beer brewer by trade! It was a really good turn out for a Monday night and Thantifaxath put on a hell of a show too. Below is a short clip I shot of them at the show.

However the biggest beer and metal event ever held is going to be in Philadelphia this weekend when Decibel Magazine holds their first ever Metal & Beer Fest! This isn’t just a fest with some metal bands and some random breweries, Decibel has done a really good job of finding metal bands with ties to beer and breweries with ties to metal for this festival. For instance you’ll notice Khemmis is on the bill. Their drummer, Zach Coleman, is a brewer at Trve, which also happens to be a brewery pouring at the fest. Then there’s Panopticon on the bill, a band that masterfully blends black metal with bluegrass and has only ever played live once before. The band’s sole member, Austin Lunn, is also a brewer at Hammerheart Brewing in Minnesota, which is named after the classic 1990 album by Bathory. Municipal Waste is also on the bill and their drummer, Dave Witte, while not a brewer does find employment at the Ardent Craft Ales brewery in Richmond. Cigar City Brewing will be at the fest pouring their beer Divine Blasphemer, a smoked porter named after a Municipal Waste song.

There will be plenty of other beers with tie ins to metal at this festival as well. DC’s own Atlas is bringing HaSaWoDo, the aforementioned Bongripper tied in beer. Three Floyds, a brewery that has made official beers for many metal bands including Amon Amarth, Municipal Waste, Cannibal Corpse and Obituary, will be bringing their Permanent Funeral pale ale, named for a song by Pig Destroyer. Burnt Hickory Brewery will have their beer Charred Walls Of The Damned with them, named after the metal super group of the same name. Mikkeller, a brewery from Denmark, will have their Mother Puncher beer with them, named after a song by Mastodon. Trve is bringing their Nazareth IPA, named after the lyric from the Sleep song “Jerusalem.” Dave Mustaine of Megadeth will be at the fest on Saturday pouring his A Tout Le Monde beer from Unibroue (specifically from 5pm to 6:30 and 8:45 to 10). As you’ll notice some of these bands, like Sleep, Municipal Waste and Pig Destroyer, are actually playing the fest! Along with the bands like Khemmis and Panopticon that actually have brewers in them, this fest really is something special. It’s not a metal fest with lots of beer. It’s not a craft beer fest with some bands playing. It truly is a beer AND metal fest. To say I’m excited is an understatement, this is a festival for my two favorite things! I’ll be attending the fest with a press pass so check back for my coverage after I recover from what I can only imagine will be the bangover of a lifetime. This is all thanks to Adem Tepedelen, the guy who writes the excellent column Brewtal Truth in Decibel that covers the intersection of beer and metal. He is one of the first to focus on the relationship between beer and heavy metal music and without him this fest would probably never have been conceived in the first place.

If you can’t make the fest don’t worry! There’s still a lot of metal and beer tie ins to come. DC Brau has announced that they’ll be brewing another batch of their Savor The Swill beer, brewed with the guys in local band Darkest Hour (and named after the DH song “Savor The Kill”) that will be re-released this summer, including at the Darkest Hour concert at the Rock & Roll Hotel on July 14th (details here). Also, Thou and Cloud Rat are playing a show at Atlas Brew Works on June 26th (details here). I’m not sure what else is to come but as the worlds of metal and beer become more intertwined you can bet on one thing: metal heads that are craft beer lovers have a lot of good things to look forward to!

Most Metal Moments of 2015

Happy New Year everyone! As we look forward to another great year of metal be sure to read about the most “metal” moments of 2015 in the words of 11 of the DMV area’s biggest metal heads.

Blake Harrison is the knob twister and hype man for Pig Destroyer and the bird brainiac behind Hatebeak
Favorite album of 2015: Qliphoth by Cloud Rat
So I’d been laid off most of 2015 and because of said “paid vacation” courtesy of the state of Maryland, I had more then enough time to see plenty of shows. Seeing Wake three times this summer was pretty awesome, I saw Maruta and ACxDC twice, but the thing that sticks out the most was Agoraphobic Nosebleed‘s live debut at Maryland Death Fest. Playing to a sold out club (you couldn’t stack another body in there), the excitement was high and from the first note the crowd exploded into a frenzy adding to the overall experience. Definitely one of my favorite bands absolutely slaying their first live performance.

Dominique Cytryn Promoter for Nova Metal Booking and editor/graphic designer for Hallowed Pages Zine
Favorite album of 2015: Songs from the North by Swallow The Sun
Most Metal Moment of 2015: This year has been very generous to me. I started booking and promoting shows earlier this year in April and so far it’s been a very interesting experience. At first I never thought I would ever end up putting together shows or doing much of anything at all this year, but the severe lack of music in the NoVA area really started to bug me. I love our scene and the people in it; I’ve met many wonderful friends and seen a lot of cool bands, but I’d say my defining moment was the last show of this year this December on the 12th. It seemed like everything was going wrong that night- two of the bands I had booked had decided to drop off (one of them the night of) and I was freaking out. Luckily all of the members of Croatoan just happened to be at the show and they offered to play a set. Everyone who played that night was truly amazing and despite what happened it was one of the best shows I have put on. I’m grateful for the wonderful people in our community and the talented musicians and artists that inhabit it. All the people that came out and the bands that did their job really made that show special.

Steve Jones is the brewer at Oliver Ales
Favorite album of 2015: Vænir by Monolord
Most Metal Moment of 2015: Its been a great year with Oliver Ales finally transitioning to the new brewery. Once again I’ve managed to brew several batches inspired by/named after the music that I listen to in the brewery. Shortly before we left the brewpub forever I got a message from Steve of the doom band Destroyer Of Light asking about the beer I’d made in tribute to fellow Texan rockers Mothership and Wo Fat. Seemed like an opportunity too good to pass on, especially as their tour with Godhunter was bringing them to Baltimore so after a few emails it was decided, I would brew “Destroyer of Light.” The best fucking beer name in my humble opinion! I made a black (and yeah, I’m talking BLACK) smoked ale. Destroyer of Light (the band) rolled into town, came and hung out at the Pratt Street Ale House and drank Destroyer of Light before heading up Charles Street to shred at the Depot. Beer! Metal! Metal Beer! Awesome evening, metal as fuck!

Steve Jones with Destroyer Of Light

Steve (2nd from left) with Destroyer Of Light

Kim Dylla runs the metal clothing business Kylla Custom Rock Wear
Favorite album of 2015: Exercises in Futility by Mgła
Most Metal Moment of 2015: My most metal moment of 2015 would have to be watching Demoncy and Tsjuder live at Maryland Deathfest this year. The MDF lineups just keeps getting better and better. I’m not sure how Evan and Ryan do it, but they manage to top themselves each year. This year I was lucky enough to host one of my favorite Norwegian black metal bands, Tsjuder, before the festival. If you haven’t heard their 2004 album Desert Northern Hell, you need to. Their new album Antiliv is equally heavy hitting, and to watch them deliver some of the best black metal out there live on the big stage at Rams Head Live was an incredible experience. Honorable mention goes to “Anti (Auntie) Christian” for managing to pull off the mad scientist hair with corpsepaint. Adding to that evening was watching Demoncy’s amazing performance prior to Tsjuder’s set. I have been following Demoncy’s music since the days when I listened to nothing but underground black metal demos, and their sound retains that cult and satanic intensity that originally drew me in. Ixithra’s stage presence really left a lasting impression on me as well.

Matthew “Buke” Buchan is co-hosts the WeAreMetalheads.com podcast
Favorite album of 2015: Sleep at the Edge of the Earth by Wilderun
Most Metal Moment of 2015: After 2014 where I had an extremely hard time trying to come up with a year-end list 2015 was full of amazing music and events top to bottom. In May I attended my first Maryland Deathfest that I now regret missing years prior where over two days I was able to see bands like Primordial, Blood Red Throne, Serpentine Path and Amorphis. But my highlight of the year was being lucky enough to be able to cover the GwarBQ for the Metal Heads podcast with Brewer Will and my cohost George Washburn. We arrived in Richmond around 9:30am and had our first interview with the band Troglodyte. For those who aren’t familiar think bigfoot lore meets Cannibal Corpse. Sounds bad ass I know! After Troglodyte I spent the rest of the day chugging back beers and interviewing members from Municipal Waste, Mutoid Man and Goatwhore. When I thought the day couldn’t get any better I rounded a corner and ran into Phil Anselmo. Phil, through his work in Pantera, is who I credit getting me into metal. So the 15 minutes I spent talking football with Phil was the thrill of a life time. George, Will, and I capped off a fun GWARBQ with an interview with Beefcake the Mighty if Gwar. It was the weirdest interview we had ever conducted but we laughed the whole way through it and I’m still not sure we got a question answered.

James “Balor” Barile plays guitar in the band Khaotika
Favorite album of 2015: Exercises in Futility by Mgła
Most Metal Moment of 2015: To me the most metal moment of 2015 was witnessing the return of Black Metal Militia tour to the Baltimore Soundstage and finally with fucking Mayhem! Due to visa issues they couldn’t enter the US for the last tour with Watain. This time the tour had Rotting Christ tagging along too. Seeing these three tyrants together back to back was one of the most surreal experiences I could’ve hoped for.

Renee “Lusty Corpse” Tapia runs LCnK Promotions which puts on local metal radio shows and metal events
Favorite album of 2015: Methods of Disposal by Bound By The Grave
Most Metal Moment of 2015: 2015, the year of the goat, was a very metal year. Insane concert line ups, wild mosh pits and I met many great friends who became family to me. But my most memorable metal moment happened to be a metal gathering my partner Kaos and I threw in an attempt to bring our metal community even closer. We had this idea to do the first DMV metal community gathering and we pulled this off in just two weeks. We saved up every penny to buy food and beer. The outcome of the party amazed us, way more people came then we expected! And they brought in more food and alcohol! We had metal heads of all ages come through and the love was so strong. Every one had a great time, the music was great, we had a mosh pit with a bonfire close by on one side and a deep ditch on the other, luckily no one got seriously hurt in this killer pit of doom. This party was in a residential area so cops did show, but did not complain that we made noise past noise curfew or had pyrotechnic bottle rockets shooting off our homemade stage. Can’t wait to do it again in 2016

Metal Party!

Renee (front row, 2nd from right) at the DMV metal gathering

Will Cook is a brewer for Fairwinds Brewing and co-host of the Brutality At The Brewery metal nights we hold there.
Favorite album of 2015: Psychic Warfare by Clutch
Most Metal Moment of 2015: When Gwar and Battlecross, two bands that I love, played the 9:30 Club in November a new friend Shannon got me on the guest list and then backstage to hang out with Battlecross. I’d met them years ago but I was pleasantly surprised they remembered hanging out at my previous brewery. The next day the band came to my new brewery and hung out for several hours drinking beer, eating mac n’ cheese pizza (yes that is a real thing), playing disk golf and corn hole (Gumby and I won!) and generating calamity. I have to say that the dudes in Battlecross, and their staff are the most down to Earth and humble metal guys. It was a great time and very metal.

Lauri Lindqvist is better known as DC Heavy Metal album reviewer Tal around here although you can read more of his writing on his blog In My Winter Castle.
Favorite album of 2015: Under the Red Cloud by Amorphis
Most Metal Moment of 2015: There were a lot of cool moments this year. I finally saw Nightwish live after being a fan for 12 years. I finally got to mosh to Ensiferum‘s “Into Battle.” I got a photo with Jonas Ekdahl of Evergrey which made my girlfriend squeal. But the most metal moment of all was when I got to take my seven-year-old daughter to see Russian folk metal band Arkona at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore. Arkona is my daughter’s favorite band after Hevisaurus and Sekengard, and one of my all-time favorite bands. Arkona’s vocalist Masha Scream is one of my metal idols. I was a little sad that I couldn’t mosh for her since I had to stick by my kid, but it was more than worth it. Unfortunately Arkona went on so late that my kid was exhausted by the time they came on – but she was rocking out in the first row to Helsott right before them, so I know I have a little folk metal fan in the making. She stayed awake long enough to pump her fist for Arkona’s first few songs, and then spent the rest of their set asleep on my shoulder – in the fifth row!

Yaniv Kaufmann is DC Heavy Metal album reviewer that goes by Buzzo Jr despite his hair being rather short these days.
Favorite album of 2015: Psychic Warfare by Clutch
Most Metal Moment of 2015: My most metal moment of 2015, and probably one of my most memorable moments of the year overall was definitely seeing Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s first ever live performance at Maryland Deathfest. I’m a major grindcore freak so I had been waiting for this moment ever since it was first announced that they would be headlining the Baltimore Soundstage at Deathfest. I also met up with Chris Penrod, the Chicken Man, beforehand and we decided to each drop a tab of acid. Funnily enough, the set began with an audio sample of Hunter S. Thompson describing his affinity for the chemical compound. The show was one of the craziest events I had been to in a while. The pit was absolutely insane, stage divers were flying left and right, and the multi-colored strobe lights combined with ANb’s music all made for one hell of a trip. Also, someone in the crowd had somehow managed to bring in a 5 foot tall inflatable dick that people were throwing all over the venue much to everyone’s amusement. It eventually ended up finding its way onstage; hitting Richard “Grindfather” Johnson in the face, and it was pretty entertaining to see Rich hold it up above his head and shout “Shove it up your ass!” before throwing it back into the crowd. Between having one of the most terrifying/exhilarating acid trips I can recall, and seeing one of my favorite bands play their first live set, I can say that this was hands down one of the most metal moments of the year for me.

Metal Chris is the guy that runs this website!
Favorite album of 2015: Shadows by Valkyrie
Most Metal Moment of 2015: I’ve gotten to do some pretty awesome stuff because of this website but this year getting to interview Tom G. Warrior of Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and Triptykon was particularly stand out. Most of the interviews I do on DC Heavy Metal are recorded over the phone but since Triptykon was in town I got to interview Tom in person. I met him at the hotel he was staying at the day after Triptykon played MDF and his manager had reserved the office that is usually for business meetings. The manager left us alone and I conducted the interview in a small, windowless 8×8 room with just a table, Tom, myself and my recorder between us. You can’t ask for better conditions to conduct an interview under. Tom was very forthcoming and answered any of my questions, nothing was off limits, and the chance to talk to him about everything from heavy metal to his relationship with HR Giger to the protests in Baltimore around that time resulted in one of my best interviews yet and is something that I’ll never forget.

Electric Wizard ticket give away

Electric Wizard at Baltimore Soundstage

You may have heard that Electric Wizard is returning to Baltimore, this time to play at the Baltimore Soundstage on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015. And you may have heard that this show is already sold out. These things are true but we here at DCHM wanted to give everyone one last chance to get into this show so we’re giving away a pair of tickets to one of you lucky readers! To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what was the best sold out concert you’ve ever been to. At 5pm EST this Friday, March 20th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. Be sure to enter using a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner within 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. This is your last chance to get Electric Wizard tickets so don’t put it off!

Electric Wizard last played in Baltimore in 2012 as a headliner at that year’s Maryland Deathfest. It was the UK based stoner/doom metal band’s first time in the US in many years. They’ve finally put out a new album since then, last year’s Time To Die, and now they’re finally coming back to the US for a tour. This will be our area’s only stop for the tour and as you can imagine, it sold out pretty quick. The opening band for the tour is actually a local band from our area, Satan’s Satyrs. The throwback band has become a favorite of the guys in Electric Wizard, so much so that Satan’s Satyrs bass player Clayton Burgess is now also playing bass for Electric Wizard. If you’re looking for a night of down tuned fuzzy riffs then you don’t want to miss this concert! This show is going to seriously kick some ass so check out these videos by the bands playing and leave a comment below telling me what your favorite sold out concert was!

Electric Wizard – Satanic Rites Of Drugula

Electric Wizard – Black Mass

Satan’s Satyrs – One By One (They Die)

Behemoth and Cannibal Corpse ticket give away

Behemoth and Cannibal Corpse at the Fillmore Silver Spring

When two of the titans of death metal have a tour coming to our area you know we get excited here at DCHM. And when we get excited about a show we like to get as many people out to it as possible. So this week we’re giving away a free pair of tickets to see Behemoth and Cannibal Corpse at the Fillmore Silver Spring on Monday, March 2nd, 2015. To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me the name of your favorite death metal band. At 5pm EST this Friday, February 27th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. Be sure to enter using a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner within 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Live Nation for $35.50 here.

Last year Poland’s Behemoth put out one hell of a come back album with the release of The Satanist, quite an accomplishment considering, Nergal, the band’s mastermind, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010. After a successful bone marrow transplant he has recovered from cancer and is ready to bring his musical vision on The Satanist to stage for us. As if that wasn’t enough, the kings of gorey death metal, Cannibal Corpse, will be co-headlining this tour as they terrorize audiences (and stir up brutal mosh pits) with their songs about murder, zombies and violent torture. In addition to that we’ll also get the chance to see two up and coming death metal bands from Sweden as Aeon and Tribulation open up the show. That’s a ton of death metal for one bill, will you be able to survive? Be sure to check out these videos by each band below and tell me what your favorite death metal band is in the comments!

Behemoth – Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer

Cannibal Corpse – Kill Or Become

Aeon – Aeons Black

Tribulation – Apparitions

1349 ticket give away

1349 at Empire

When it is cold and snowy outside the time is right for some Norwegian black metal and as luck would have it Norway’s 1349 will be coming to Empire on Tuesday, February 24th to spread their unholy black metal gospel in our area. Inspired by the snow outside today we’re giving away a pair of tickets to this very show to one of you grim and frostbitten DCHM readers. To enter: just tell me the name of your favorite metal album to put on when it snows. At 5pm EST this Friday, February 20th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. Be sure to enter using a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner within 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Ticket Fly for $17 here.

1349, named after the year the black plague came to Scandinavia, has been around since the late 90’s bringing their aggressive black metal to fans worldwide. This tour is to support their latest full length, Massive Cauldron of Chaos, and will be our area’s first chance to hear them play some of the new material live. In addition we’ll get to see the spazz out brutality of Origin, a death metal band from Kansas. Lately they’ve been known to have their fans break out in massive pillow fights in the mosh pit during their sets. Also on the tour is Wolvhammer from Minneapolis, who plays some filthy blackened sludge metal. Local support for this show will be from Yesterday’s Saints, who just released their debut full length, Generation Of Vipers, and Cladonia Rangiferina, a black metal band with several Empire employees in their ranks. That’s a hell of a line up to chill you to the bone this February. Be sure to check out these awesome videos by bands playing the show as you leave a comment telling me what your favorite metal album to listen to when it snows is.

1349 – Sculptor Of Flesh

Origin – Absurdity Of What I Am

Wolvhammer – Writhe

Yesterday’s Saints – The Recruitment

Local metal studio releases in 2015

If 2014 showed me anything it’s that our area’s metal scene is very much alive and well. I’m often hearing a lot about what releases local bands have coming out so I’ve put together this post with updates on many of the DMV’s local bands and what they’re planning on releasing in 2015. I can’t say it’s all inclusive so if you know about more local releases feel free to leave info in the comment section. It’s an exciting time to be a metal head in the DMV area right now so let me tell you why…

For starters, two area bands have already released albums this year. Snakefeast and Periphery. On January 6th Baltimore based Snakefeast released The Pythoness on local label Grimoire Records. Their sound is an interesting combination of sludge metal with black metal and jazz elements and the inclusion of a cello and saxophone certainly gives them a unique sound. You can stream the album (or buy it for just $5) on Bandcamp right here.

Locals Periphery pretty much wrote the book on the djent style of prog metal. Juggernaut, released on January 27th, is the band’s most ambitious release to date. It’s a double album, one disc named Alpha and the other Omega. While it may not be the beginning and the end of metal releases in our area it does show the band returning to form after their bizarre release of Clear last year where each song was written by a different band member and unsurprisingly lacked cohesion. The band is on Sumerian Records so don’t be surprised if they turn up on some big tours Sumerian is involved with this summer like Mayhem Fest or Summer Slaughter. Check out the music video below for the song “Alpha.”

On February 3rd, that’s tomorrow to those of you reading this post when it’s fresh, Northern Virginia based Yesterday’s Saints will release their debut full length, Generation Of Vipers. The 11 track concept album is lyrically written like an opera with different acts and tells the tale of the Devil himself. You can give it a listen on Soundcloud here and you can order the album on Bandcamp here and we’ll be posting a review of it tomorrow as well.

Generation Of Vipers by Yesterday's Saints

The Vomiting Dinosaurs are a kind of goofy death/grind band from Winchester, Virginia and they’ve got a full length coming out on Grimoire Records on February 10th. The album is titled Worship The Porcelain God and you can listen to a couple tracks from it on Bandcamp here.

Worship The Porcelain God by The Vomiting Dinosaurs

Doom legends Pentagram are finishing up their next full length to be put out on Peaceville this summer, according to this Facebook post. With Victor Griffin back in the band anything is possible, and their previous album, 2011’s Last Rites, was really well put together so let’s hope they can keep the creativity going on this one.

Baltimore’s Noisem might be young, I don’t think any of them are even old enough to drink yet, but they’re really taking off. They’re a throwback to the early 90s death/thrash sound, have some fun riffs and they put on a good show. So far they haven’t released anything really groundbreaking musically but that may or may not change on their upcoming release this year, which they begin recording in February. Noisem has garnered a lot of attention since they’ve been the opening act on the last two Carcass US tours and their vocalist, Tyler Carnes, was on the cover of the April 2014 Decibel issue (along with members of Carcass and Gorguts). Noisem is signed to A389 Records in Baltimore and the band has to know everyone is wondering what they’ll put out on this next release now that everyone is watching.

Valkyrie from Harrisonburg, Virgina, has signed a deal with Relapse Records and will be putting out a full length album on the label some time this spring. The band features members of Baroness and Earthling but has a sound all their own so don’t sleep on this one.

Dave Sherman (of Spirit Caravan and Earthride fame) and his 420 friendly band Weed Is Weed will have a five song EP released later this year titled The Bong Remains The Same.

Local southern metal band King Giant had several injuries to members of the band after the release of their last album, Dismal Hollow, back in 2012. The band is looking to make a big come back this summer with the release of their third full length which was recorded and mixed by J. Robbins (who has worked with bands such as Clutch, The Sword and Wino in the past).

Northern Virginia based A Sound Of Thunder must live in a recording studio (you jealous Wintersun?) since they’ve put out at least a full length every year since 2011. 2015 will be no different and we can expect another full length of original material in late spring/summer from them. ASoT is also working on an EP release due out late this year that will consist entirely of covers of songs the members of the band love.

Sludge/doom band The Osedax has been a bit quiet since two members recently left the band however a lot has been going on behind the scenes. The band’s original drummer, Kevin Grevey, has returned to the band, which is now a three piece, and they’ve recorded a new album, titled Titan’s Lament, which will be out on Dullest Records in the spring.

Titan's Lament by The Osedax

DC based death metal band Genocide Pact (featuring two members of local grind band D.O.C.) will have a full length out in the first half of 2015 on A389 Recordings.

DC based stoner band Borracho is going to be releasing a split LP with a band outside of the DMV area in May or June. It will have three new original Borracho songs on it, which you can hear live previews of at their upcoming shows at the Velvet Lounge (2/19) and the Pinch (3/20). UPDATE: Ripple Music, the label putting out the split, has released more details (here) and announced that the other band on the split will be Atlanta’s Volume IV (not a Black Sabbath cover band, they write originals). I’ve added the cover here too.

cover of the Borrocho & Volume IV split

The crusty death/doom band Ilsa is going to put out a new full length on A389 in March, they’ve been playing some of the new material live at their recent shows and it has sounded awesome so far. This will be their second album on A389 Recordings and their first with new guitarist Tim (who was in a band with several Ilsa members years ago).

Grethor is a local death metal band whose name means Hell in the fictitious Klingon language from Star Trek. We reviewed their last EP back in 2013 (here) but now they’re looking to release a new EP titled Cloaked In Decay in the spring.

Black metal band Dispellment has finished recording their debut album (according to this post on Facebook) though there currently is no release date while they search for a label for a proper release. Apparently a three song demo of material from the album will be available sometime soon though.

Wings Denied, a proggy band in the vein of Periphery, was formed by friends attending American University. Their vocalist, Luka Kerecin, was in the US on a student visa that has now expired but they are working on getting him back over here to record another album with him some time this year.

Stoner band Caustic Casanova has signed with Retro Futurist records, a label run by members of the band Kylesa. They’ve got a not-yet-named full length in the works that should be released in the late spring or early summer.

Doom band Foehammer has their debut album, which is self titled, coming out on April 7th on Grimoire Records (vinyl via Australopithecus records). The three piece will be going on tour this summer to support the recording, and you can hear a preview track from it right here.

Foehammer s/t

Baltimore based stoner band Sixty Watt Shaman will go into the studio to record some time in the first half of 2015. This will be the band’s first recorded material since reforming, and will be their first release since 2002!

Death metal band Gloom is hitting the studio in February and they’ve got a new guitar player in the band now too. I’m not sure when the new release is expected exactly but they definitely have something in the works.