Support Music And Charity At Once

Today, Friday the 4th of August, Bandcamp is donating the entirety of their 15% share of all sales on their website to the Transgender Law Center. The benefit runs until midnight Pacific time, which is 3am for us on Eastern time. You can get more info on Bandcamp’s benefit here. If the benefit is over when you read this but you’d still like to donate, or you’d just like to donate directly to TLC, you can do that here.

This means anything you buy on Bandcamp will help support TLC as well as the bands you buy from. Because of this I thought I’d throw together a list of some of the best local metal I’ve found on Bandcamp this year, as well as a few other metal bands outside of the area that are actively participating in today’s benefit here. If you’d like the full list of the 200+ bands and labels that are participating, metal and non-metal alike, you can see that here.

Who Do You Think We Are? by A Sound Of Thunder

First up it should be noted that locals A Sound Of Thunder are actively participating in the benefit and for today only they are selling a “trans pink smoke” double vinyl variant (limited to 100 copies) of their covers album Who Do You Think We Are? for $25. The album will also be available on CD ($18) and digital formats ($8) for the first time. They have previously only been available to those who participated in the crowd funding campaign, however the CDs and digital downloads of the cover album will only be available publicly today. You can find all formats on Bandcamp here.

Chicago based Immortal Bird isn’t really a local band, though their vocalist, Rae Amitay, did go to high school in Fairfax, Virginia. Today they are also donating $1 of any Bandcamp sales to TLC, in addition to Bandcamp’s donation. I highly recommend their 2015 album Empress/Abscess which is just $7 digitally on their Bandcamp here.

Some other non-local metal bands that are participating include Ghoul who are donating all sales Friday and Saturday to TLC. You can download their latest album Dungeon Bastards for $7 here.

Massachusetts based thrashers Lich King put out a killer album this year in The Omniclasm and you can download it from Bandcamp for $10 here. Lich King is donating all of their proceeds from Bandcamp today to the benefit.

The Brazilian/Italian operatic metal band Ruins of Elysium has made a point of standing up for LGBT rights (just check the lyrics to their song “The Birth Of A Goddess” for starters) so it makes perfect sense that they’ll be donating their share of all Bandcamp sales today. Check out their latest album Seeds Of Chaos And Serenity which is available for download for $11.88 on Bandcamp here.

Immortal Bird and Ghoul and Lich King and Ruins of Elysium

If none of that stuff floats your boat feel free to scour the list I’ve made below of some of my favorite local metal albums on Bandcamp of 2017. You can help support a local band and the Transgender Law Center when you buy any of these today!

Alluvion – Psyche/Stoner from Fredericksburg, VA. $5 gets you their 9 track album .​.​.​Of the One Consciousness that released in May here.

Alluvion and Ashes of Mankind

Ashes of Mankind – Death/thrash metal from Baltimore, MD. $6.66 gets you their 8 track album A Scene in Hell that was released in May here.

At The Graves – Doom/sludge from Annapolis, MD. Just $1 gets you a download of their 8 track album Wrecked that was released in late July. You can also get it on CD or cassette for $6 each. Digital and physical versions are all available here.

At The Graves and Blood Mist

Blood Mist – Sludge/stoner metal from Baltimore, MD. $5 gets you a download of their 5 track self titled album that was released in February. You can also get it on CD for $7. Digital and physical versions are both available here.

Cab Ride Home – Thrash metal from Northern Virginia. $10 gets you a download or the CD version of their 11 track album Crash The Gate. Released in April, this is the band’s final album since their vocalist, Danica Roem, is now running for a delegate seat in Virginia. Digital and physical versions are both available here.

Cab Ride Home and Earthling

Earthling – Thrash metal from Harrisonburg, VA. $7 gets you a download of their 6 track album Spinning in the Void that was released in July here. This album shreds guys, highly recommended! Features Alan Fary who also plays in Valkyrie.

Full Of Hell – Death/noise from Annapolis, MD. $6.35 gets you a download of their 11 track album Trumpeting Ecstasy that was released in May. You can also get it on CD for $8.74. Digital and physical versions are both available here. This has been one of the most talked about albums from our area this year and it lives up to the hype!

Full Of Hell and Inhumation

Inhumation – Death metal from Frederick, MD. $6 gets you a download of their 6 track EP Ontogenesis that was released in April. You can also get it on CD for $8. Digital and physical versions are both available here.

Lord – Sludge/stoner from Fredericksburg, VA. $7 gets you a download of their 6 track album Blacklisted that was released in May. You can also get it on CD for $10. Digital and physical versions are both available here and they also have some packages that include tshirts with Mark Riddick art.

Lord and One Slack Mind

One Slack Mind – Stoner/groove metal from Washington, DC. $8 gets you a download of their 10 track album Both Sides Against the Middle that was released in July. You can also get it on CD for $10. Digital and physical versions are both available here.

Pain Tank – Grind/death metal from Northern Virginia. $8 gets you a download or the CD version of their 13 track album 97​,​901​,​726 Confirmed Kills. Released in March, the album’s name is meant to be the total number of fatalities in all wars that the USA has been involved in. Digital and physical versions are both available here.

Pain Tank and Sickdeer

Sickdeer – Black metal from Washington, DC. $7 gets you a download of their 7 track album The Wretched of the Earth that was released in March. You can also get it on CD for $10. Digital and physical versions are both available here and you can read the review of this album on DC Heavy Metal right here.

Sloth Herder – Grind/black metal from Frederick, MD. $5 gets you a download of their 14 track album No Pity, No Sunrise that was released in March. You can also get it on CD for $7 or cassette for $6. Digital and physical versions are all available here.

Sloth Herder and Virginia Creep

Virginia Creep – Stoner/Indie from Washington, DC. OK so this one actually came out in October of last year but it didn’t show up on my radar until this year. It features JR Hayes of Pig Destroyer as you’ve never heard him before, so that alone makes it worth listing here. $2.99 gets you a download of their 3 track self titled EP, just go here.

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.

Had to get some footage of Thantifaxath playing The Bright White Nothing at the End of the Tunnel.

A post shared by Metal Chris (@dcmetalchris) on

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!

Review of Awake by Lord

Band: Lord
Album: Awake
Release Date: 18 March 2016
Record Label: heavy Hound Records
Buy on CD ($9.99) or digital ($7) from: Bandcamp

Awake by Lord

Lord is a local band that I’ve been a fan of for some time here at DCHM so I’ve been excited we’re finally getting more songs from them. The following review is from DCHM writer Buzzo Jr who certainly has his opinions about the release. Be sure to give the songs a listen at the bottom of this post.

The Fredericksburg, Virginia, based stoner/sludge outfit Lord returns with their newest full length album Awake, following up their sophomore release Chief from 2011. The band has seen a few lineup changes in the past five years; with drummer Steven “Sven” Sullivan being replaced by Kevin Marimow, and Helena Goldberg (also of Virginia stoner/sludge band Akris) handing bass duties over to Chris Dugay. Lord’s third full length outing has them sticking with the familiar southern sludge they’ve been known for.

In a good amount of cases, an album’s production can be the key element that will make or break the listening experience. Lord’s newest full length is unfortunately a prime example of the latter. Awake has all the elements necessary to make a great sounding stoner/sludge album, but all of those elements are muddled by the album’s overall audio production. The first thing I noticed about the production was how raw it was. Now, raw production can work very well for sludge metal in some cases. Bands like New Orleans’ Eyehategod and England’s Iron Monkey utilize raw production to accentuate the harsh and nihilistic feel of their music. But with sludge bands like Lord who incorporate more melodic and psychedelic elements into their sound, an extremely raw production on the album will negate any of the effect they may have been going for. The guitar and the bass are the first two casualties of this. The riffs on all of the tracks lack a great deal of the punch that they had on Lord’s first two albums which is disappointing seeing as they had the potential to be absolutely crushing if not for the way the mix drowns them out, and the bass lines are almost inaudible for a majority of the running time. The guitar solos also take a hit; with all of the melody and feeling of them sapped away by how muddy the end result is. The drumming suffers from similar issues, with the pounding drumbeats we heard on their first two albums being replaced by a heavily muffled sound that really takes away from the overall experience. It’s definitely not as bad as Lars Ulrich’s tin can monstrosity from Metallica’s St. Anger album, but it’s definitely not the best I’ve heard from Lord.

The element that is most negatively affected by the raw production are Steven Kerchner’s vocals. The vocals on Awake alternate from multi layered mid ranged howls, low grunts, and high pitched screams. A glaring difference from the previous album Chief is the lack of the clean and melodic vocals that former member Helena Goldberg supplied; giving a contrast to Kerchner’s harsher vocal styles. The variety of Kerchner’s vocal deliveries is unable to overcome the fact that for most of the time the vocals on the album are drowned out by the other instruments and the raw haze that the production puts on the record. Out of all the vocal styles that Steven alternated between, his high pitched scream is actually the one that ends up sounding the best, due to it being the one that was able to cut through the rest of the instruments and become fairly audible in comparison. The one track on this album that did stand out to me however was “The Great Communicator;” an all acoustic track that showcases a great deal of southern influence in the guitar playing, along with a great vocal performance that sounds much better than on any of the other tracks, mostly due to the fact that there are fewer elements in the song, thus allowing the echoing vocals to create a hazy atmosphere that resonates along with the bluesy strumming of the acoustic guitar. “The Great Communicator” is a standout example of the potential the rest of Awake had, and hopefully they can learn from this and release a much better record next time around. However, I am very interested in seeing these songs performed live, as it’s likely that they will translate far better in a live setting. I’m sure “The Great Communicator” will be a great track to bust out at the midway point in the live show to bring in a more mellow tune. [Editor’s Note: Lord will be playing in Fairfax, Virginia, on Saturday, May 14th. Details here.]

Third time is unfortunately not the charm for Lord’s newest release, and if you are looking to get into them I would recommend that you start off with their Chief album instead (get it here). Here’s to hoping that Lord go back to the great production of their second album and give us a quality fourth release in the future.