Sleep ticket give away

Sleep at the 9:30 Club

We promised two great contests this week and now here’s the second one! The masters of stoner metal riffage, Sleep, are going to be making a rare appearance in Washington DC on Sunday, June 26th at the 9:30 Club and you don’t want to miss it! We’re going to give one of you lucky DCHM readers the chance to win a free pair of tickets to this sure to sell out show. To enter just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite stoner band of all time is. At 5pm EST on Monday, April 4th, 2016, the contest will end I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. Be sure to use 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 in 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 just $30 here.

Sleep is known for their incredible ability to summon a very Black Sabbath vibe through some of the fuzziest stoner riffs out there! Guitarist Matt Pike spends most of his time in High On Fire these days and this Sleep “tour” only includes 7 North American dates, so getting to see Sleep in DC is a rare thing indeed, something that hasn’t happened in a decade. The the opener for this show is a perfect choice! Richmond based Windhand play some of the catchiest slow riffs in the modern doom metal world which blend perfectly with vocalist Dorthia Cottrell’s haunting voice. Now check out these videos of the bands below while you tell me in the comments what your favorite stoner band is!

Sleep – Dragonaut

Windhand – Orchard

Maryland Deathfest XII Recap – Part 2

Part 2 of my Maryland Deathfest XII recap will cover the final two days of the festival, Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th of May 2014. You can read part 1 here where I cover what happened on Thursday and Friday of the fest. If you’d like to see more of my MDF photos you can do that here.

If Friday was the black metal day of the fest I think Saturday was the thrash metal day with performances by Sacrifice, Tankard, Sarke and Dark Angel all on the schedule. However I decided to get start the third day of Maryland Deathfest with helpings of grindcore and whiskey shots at the Baltimore SoundStage. I caught the Czech band БУТ perform first and they were pretty good. Their set was short, as grind sets tend to be, but they were fun. The next band I saw was Sick/Tired from Chicago. These guys were impressive with how terrifying their sound was. The audience wasn’t exactly huge yet at the SoundStage at 3:30 in the afternoon but they still brought it anyways. After they played I took a short boozing break before heading over to see Nocturnus AD at the main grounds of the Edison Lot.

Nocturnus AD is a spin off band of a now defunct death metal band from the early Tampa Bay, Florida scene known simply as Nocturnus. I remember these guys mostly for an album their classic 1990 album The Key. Apparently a few Nocturnus members secretly copyrighted the name Nocturnus then kicked out drummer/lead vocalist Mike Browning, the only founding member left in the band. Mike Browning then formed a band called After Death and together with the members of this band they performed for us at MDF as Nocturnus AD. It appears that they knew most people wanted to hear them play songs from The Key and they played the album from start to finish then closed their set with a crowd pleasing cover of the Morbid Angel classic “Chapel Of Ghouls.”

The next band to play was the German thrash band Tankard. These guys had a lot of energy on stage and musically they are beer fueled party thrash, basically the old school version of Municipal Waste. The audience reacted well and if nothing else Tankard gave us a good excuse to cool down with a few beers during their set.

Tankard:

Sacrifice was the next band to play and I was excited to see them. This was the Toronto thrash band’s first show in the US since 1993! They had their entire line up back together and they didn’t disappoint. Sacrifice expertly played their aggressive songs and I thought that this was the show that Coroner should have given us when they performed a rather lackluster headlining set at Maryland Deathfest in 2011.

Sacrifice:

The next band to play the Edison lot was Sarke. Originally started as an eponymous solo project by the band’s bass player, they’re more known for being fronted by Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone fame. Sarke is called black/thrash but they aren’t really as fast as bands like Aura Noir and Abigail. Their sound is pretty straight forward and cold. The band didn’t play the full amount of time they were allotted but I don’t think most people minded since for their final song, after covering Celtic Frost, they did what everyone watching the show hoped they do: cover a Darkthrone song. For those who don’t know, Darkthrone refuses to play live so Nocturno Culto performing “Too Old, Too Cold” with Sarke at Maryland Deathfest is about the closest any of us will come to seeing Darkthrone live.

Sarke:

It was getting ominously dark by the time Unleashed hit the stage. One of the first death metal bands from Sweden was called Nihilist and after a few legendary demos they parted ways with Johnny Hedlund and reformed as the band Entombed. Johnny Hedlund didn’t disappear though, he quickly formed Unleashed, a death metal band that over the years has gotten more and more into viking history and mythology. I tend to think of modern Unleashed as the more authentic version of Amon Amarth. It’s not every day you get to see one of the founding Swedish death metal bands play in America and while Unleashed’s set was pretty damn good, they didn’t play anything off of their legendary debut album Where No Life Dwells, which was a bit of a bummer. I realize they want to get people into their more modern material, and it actually is really good stuff overall, but some fans only know that album and even just a one or two WNLD tunes in the set list would have been nice.

Unleashed:

Next up was Saturday’s headliner, the long awaited return of Dark Angel. The band appeared with their complete Leave Scars line up, including the Atomic Clock, Gene Hoglan behind the kit. Their set list was a good mix of songs from each of their four albums. Dark Angel really put on a great show, despite the dim stage lighting and light rain that began midway through their set. Ron Rinehart’s voice was in good form and he did well on the Don Doty era songs too. They had a lot of energy, especially for an older band, and I think they really fed off the strong audience reaction. They ripped through their final song of the night, “Perish In Flames” and I could have watched them for another hour if they’d have played that long. Dark Angel was definitely my favorite performance of Day 3 of Deathfest.

Dark Angel:

After Dark Angel played I headed over to Rams Head Live to see Schirenc. They’re named after Martin Schirenc who is also known as Don Cochino, guitarist/vocalist of the Austrian band Pungent Stench. Originally billed as The Church Of Pungent Stench they were apparently forced to change the band’s name due to a court order by other former members of Pungent Stench. Regardless, Schirenc played a set consisting solely of old Pungent Stench material. I enjoy their bizarre take on death metal which has a macabre sense of humor to it, and I recognized several songs in their set list, but with only one member there it just wasn’t the same and it felt about as authentic as watching a modern “Guns ‘N’ Roses” concert.

Pungent Stench:

I walked the block over to the Baltimore SoundStage to catch their headliner, Excruciating Terror, a grindcore band from Los Angeles. This was something of a reunion show for the band which released all of their material in the 90s. They’re also noted for being the first band that Fear Factory and Divine Heresy guitarist Dino Cazares was in, though he was not part of the line up this night. Simply put, Excruciating Terror lived up to their name. Their songs, while short, were intense and ferocious bursts of grind and their energy level was through the roof. The audience went crazy of course and after their performance I was a sweaty mess as I walked back to Rams Head Live.

Excruciating Terror:

The final band to play Maryland Deathfest XII on day three was Asphyx. They’re a death/doom metal band from The Netherlands fronted by the legendary Martin van Drunen. Their old school approach to death metal combined with their muddy riffs and Martin’s on stage charisma was a hit with the Deathfest fans. Their set list covered crowd pleasers like “We Doom You To Death” and “Death The Brutal Way” but I think the highlight for me was hearing them play their crushing song “The Rack,” an old favorite of mine. As they finished I headed back to the hotel knowing that Sunday was going to be a marathon of excellent metal that I would need my rest to make it through. We can’t have the guy who writes the MDF Survival Guide not surviving can we?

Asphyx:

I arrived at the Edison lot early enough on Sunday to catch the first band of the day, Windhand. They’re a female fronted doom metal band from Richmond that I’ve been a fan of since their days of playing basement shows. It was just awesome seeing them on that big outdoor stage with all that power behind their ultra heavy riffs. They’re definitely one of my favorite rising bands these days and their performance was one of my top favorites of all of this year’s Deathfest.

Windhand:

The next band to play was Bongripper, and instrumental band from Chicago that plays, you guessed it, stoner metal. I wasn’t really familiar with them going in but they were really great live, definitely a surprise find for me as I tend to avoid bands with names focused on drug use. They played a solid thirty minute set that didn’t seem to have any downtime between songs and Ronald Petzke’s aluminum necked EGC bass guitar really brought the heavy to their songs. At one point the Chicken Man was held up high in the crowd holding a banner that read Hippie Killer, the title of one of Bongripper’s albums.

Bongripper:

Back on stage B of the Edison lot the Portland based sludge metal band Graves At Sea took the stage. I didn’t love these guys as much as the previous two bands, they were tough acts to follow though. I didn’t think they were bad, just nothing outstanding I guess. Some people were really into them though. I ended up wandering off to buy more merch midway through their set.

Graves At Sea:

The next band to play the Edison lot was Maryland’s very own Misery Index. The local death/grind band was the first high speed band of the day and they really woke up the audience. It was great to see Jason Netherton playing with the band again, the sole founding member was absent the last time I had seen Misery Index play. He seems to have turned over much of the vocal duties to Mark Kloeppel but the band was still really tight live and as usual, very fun to watch.

Misery Index:

Next the Maryland Deathfest audience was treated with a rare appearance by Pseudogod, a blackened death metal band all the way from Perm, Russia (although Impurath of Black Witchery was filling in on bass). They took the stage covered in blood and really brought the brutality. Their set was an unforgiving aural beating which seemed extra intense in the sun’s unrelenting heat. Their devastating set closed with a cover of “Blood War III” by French black metal band Antaeus (who happened to play Maryland Deathfest in 2013).

Pseudogod:

After Pseudogod played it was time for Wrathprayer, a blacked death metal band from Chile. They were ok I guess but didn’t stand out to me that much after the intense set by Pseudogod. The three piece didn’t seem accustomed to performing on a big stage either as they didn’t move around much up there and seemed a bit awkward. I think they would have been better on a smaller stage. After four or five songs I figured I had gotten the gist of what they do and I decided to hang out in the back more and get some cold beer.

Wrathprayer:

The next band to play was the two piece black metal band Inquisition. Originally from Colombia they are now based in Seattle and they’ve become pretty popular in the past few years. However there’s a bit of controversy around them of late for possibly being racists and honestly it’s a bit ambiguous whether they are or aren’t. They have some catchy songs and the crowd seemed really into them but I hung out in the shaded picnic table area after I finished shooting them cause I’m not clear if they’re bigots and it’s really not worth my time figuring it out when I can just move on to something else.

Inquisition:

Soilent Green took the stage next and this was something of a reunion show for the band who hadn’t played together in several years. Based in New Orleans, several of their members have moved onto more famous bands such as Eyehategod, Crowbar and Goatwhore. They play a mix between sludge and death metal that comes across much more catchy than you’d probably expect that to sound. The audience went crazy for them and you could tell the band really fed off that energy.

Soilent Green:

After Soilent Green played I made one of those tough decisions you’re sometimes faced with at Deathfest. I decided to skip seeing Gorguts, who I had just seen with Carcass a month prior, in favor of heading over to the Baltimore SoundStage to see Death Toll 80k. They’re a grind band from Finland and while I didn’t really know what to expect of them I figured this was my one chance to ever see them live. My gamble payed off, they were fucking great live! Intense, brutal and fun is how I’d describe them. They were probably my favorite band of those that I saw at the SoundStage during MDF and though my feet were sore walking back to the Edison lot after their set there was no doubt in my mind that the pain was worth it.

Death Toll 80k:

It was a total shift in gears when then next band I saw was Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats from England. They play a very catchy, and fuzzy, style of 70s inspired stoner metal. This was their first US show and a lot of people had come just for the chance to see them. They were really fun live, full of energy on stage and those infectious riffs sounded great booming out of those big speakers. Even Deathfest needs a bit of down time to let everyone catch their breath and Uncle Acid was the best chill out music you could ask for.

Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats:

Next up was the Swedish band Candlemass. I’ll admit I’ve never been a fan of their gothy doom sound which often has power metal elements to it. They were pretty entertaining on stage though and their new vocalist Mats Levén seemed to be a hit with the fans who were getting their first chance in years to see Candlemass perform live in the US. I ended up leaving early to try to catch Australian grind band Pneumatic Slaughter at the Sidebar. Unfortunately we were told at the door that they had dropped off the bill (I later caught up with their vocalist, who is also the vocalist of Whitehorse, and asked why they pulled out and he said they had told the MDF promoters several weeks prior that some of the members wouldn’t be able to play). A bit of a bummer but not the end of the world. I wasn’t very excited to see the doom metal turned goth band My Dying Bride headline, even if it was their first US appearance since 1997, so I headed over to Rams Head Live early.

Candlemass:

After a bit of down time New York City based Mutilation Rites played a short but sick set of black metal. The audience was pretty sparse but they still brought the heavy for the entire time they were allotted. If you missed them don’t worry, they’re playing at the Pinch in Washington DC on July 14th (more info on that here). The band was pretty tight live and handled the big stage at Rams Head Live well.

Mutilation Rites:

Next up was the first of two bands from New Zealand that I’d see this night. Diocletian plays very aggressive blackened death metal and uses a lot of medieval military style imagery as well. This band wasn’t fucking around though, they brought the punishing riffs with almost nonstop rage. Diocletian also played at the Edison lot early on Saturday before I arrived but they were given this set as a bonus because Mitochondrion couldn’t get into the country. Both of Diocletian’s guitar players were wearing Mitochondrion shirts on stage in recognition. Anyways, I ended up leaving a little early because I wanted to catch a bit of the headliner a block over at the Baltimore SoundStage.

Diocletian:

Over at the Baltimore SoundStage the legendary Brazilian thrash/hardcore band Ratos de Porão was causing a ruckus by the time I walked in! People were going crazy stage diving, crowd surfing and just losing their shit. Formed in the early 80s the band, whose name translates to Basement Rats, still has two members from those days with them, and the drummer has been there for over 20 years now too. I first became aware of this band when I was in high school because Sepultura covered their song “Crucificados Pelo Sistema” but I never figured I’d actually get the chance to see them live. While I didn’t really know most of their material it didn’t matter because it was just damn fun watching the band and the audience just go crazy together. At one point between songs their bass player requested the audience boycott the World Cup (which is taking place in Brazil right now) stating that it is just a big scam for the rich to make more money while ignoring the country’s poor. He’s probably right but this is America, we’re already boycotting soccer with our apathy toward the sport.

Ratos de Porão:

After leaving the sweaty Baltimore SoundStage with a big grin on my face I returned to Rams Head Live to see Ulcerate. The New Zealand based three piece tech death band puts out some great albums but they’re simply incredible live. Their drummer, Jamie Saint Merat, steals the show and rightly so, he very well may be the best drummer in all of metal right now. I didn’t mind missing part of their set because I had just seen them at Empire the night before Deathfest started, but even so their performance was no less jaw dropping the second time around.

Ulcerate:

Next it was time for the final band of Maryland Deathfest XII, Immolation. I felt bad for them having to play after Ulcerate, there was no way they were going to top that. The old school New York Death Metal band had a very influential album in 1991 called Dawn Of Possession and the highlight of their set for me was when they played “Those Left Behind” off of it. It seemed like the band didn’t want Deathfest to end any more than the audience did as they played right up to the 2am cut off time. Finally Maryland Deathfest XII had come to a close.

Immolation:

I can’t stress enough how much fun this year’s Maryland Deathfest was. As usual there were tons of great bands as well as metal brothers and sisters to watch them all with. Security was excellent this year, they treating fans with respect while also not escalating situations. They all deserve high fives for their good work this year. The MDF organizers will be announcing the bands for next year’s festival soon so keep your fingers crossed that your unrealistic metal concert wish list will become a reality.

Review of Soma by Windhand

Band: Windhand
Album: Soma
Release Date: 17 September 2013
Label: Relapse Records
Buy from Bandcamp (digital) for $9.99: Here
Buy from Relapse (CD, vinyl) starting at $10.99: Here

Cover of Soma by Windhand

We’ve got a new album review by Grimy Grant and this time he’s writing about the new album by the Richond based doom metal band Windhand. I know, I know, Richmond isn’t technically within the area that DCHM covers however they’re too close, and too damn good, to just skip over. If you haven’t heard Windhand before be sure to stream the songs at the bottom of this post and give them a listen as you read the following review.

There is a murky world that is a little bit of our own but also belongs to some kind of secret, far-away dungeon where ghosts wail and guitars sing a sad, creeping harmony. This is what Windhand constructs in their albums with Soma being this year’s addition to the collection. A lot of the same great elements are here as in their full length from 2012. Dorthia Cottrell’s vocal work imbues each song with a haunting feel while Parker Chandler (also from Cough), Asechiah Bogdan, and Garrett Morris deliver consistent, Sabbath-y guitar licks that wash over you in waves. Meanwhile, Ryan Wolfe shudders the earth with slow, pounding beats from the drums. When I listen to their work I can almost sense the smoke and fog rising from the ground. It’s everything that a doom super-group should be but in the form of a few local creatives in nearby Richmond, Virginia.

While listening to Soma I couldn’t help thinking about their 2012 album, Windhand. Both have interesting sounds that add flavor to the album. Windhand opened with summer storms rolling in the background, cicadas buzzing in the air and only a single pair of footsteps tromping through an outdoor field. It then digresses a bit by breaking away from the occult drama and even featuring some laughter and unintelligible banter from the band at the start of one track. Soma, in comparison, is far more into the natural and occult roots of the band’s material. The focus seems to be more on the music in this album and lacks the casualness found in Windhand. The band, too, seems to bring more precision to their craft, both in the mixes of the songs and the tightness of their sound. It feels like a perfect second act in their catalog.

Soma lurks in the shadows and stares straight into the darkness, never once looking back and occasionally popping up briefly to rock out. There is more punch to each song than in Windhand, something that I appreciate a lot yet at the same time I strangely find myself missing some of the slower songs in their debut. “Woodbine” for example, starts off immediately in the middle of a strong, harmonizing guitar jam and chorus-like background vocals. Lyrically it’s mesmerizing – the vocals sound like a ghost drifting in and out to entice us to “Go on and love what you are”. By definition, a soma refers to all “non” parts of the body, the soul, the psyche and the mind, as well as an intoxicating drink used in Vedic rituals (Webster’s). “Woodbine” gets its name from a type of vine, also called Virginia Creeper, that blooms mostly in late summer and early fall. So there are intricate levels of metaphor, and symbolism that make “Woodbine” something I can go back to again and again. Like the layers of meaning and imagery for the song, the guitars, vocals, and percussion work together in a dark harmony.

As I already mentioned, the band sounds better on Soma. Embedded in the songs is the occasionally sighing, occasionally roaring voice of Dorthia Cottrell. Cottrell really shines on this album, like in the fourth track “Evergreen”, which breaks from the electrical buzz of guitars, transitioning into an almost all-acoustic folk song. Cottrell comes into focus in the sound mix with her voice sounding clearer than on any other song on the album. The mix on “Evergreen” produces a dual vocal harmony that is a beautiful, artistic edge that I hadn’t heard from Cottrell before and shows off her range. It’s a great change in the pace of the album that seems a bit hard to swallow at first but then gradually builds back into the doom-y feel from the rest of the album. Most stoner and doom albums I listen to now have brief acoustic breaks – such as Valkyrie’s “Wolf Hollow” from their debut full-length Valkyrie. “Evergreen” goes a step further by embracing the musical form of the ballad, giving it a voice as well as pretty acoustics. I found it an interesting choice although some might think it’s too different from the rest of Soma.

“Boleskine” wraps up the album with an ode to Aleister Crowley’s “Boleskine House” – a house in Scotland near Loch Ness where he wrote several books on occult rituals (a fun bit of trivia: it was also owned briefly by Jimmy Page). The song is the longest recorded by the band – going over 30 minutes and features theater-like sound effects accompanied by almost twangy, Western-ish guitar work. It’s long and seems to kind of go on without ending, though, and I didn’t like it as much as the rest of the album’s songs, but I still enjoyed how it took me to a different zone of the Windhand world. However if there’s something that I love the most about this album – and quite possibly the band – it’s the focus on nature and not just occultism. In fact, I should have put my cards on the table at the beginning of this review and mentioned that I am a huge fan of Windhand’s style of doom metal. There is something about Soma that is both mesmerizing and horribly frightening. There is something syrupy and obsidian flowing beneath the surface.

It’s a great moment to see a band such as Windhand evolve their craft into something superior. Stoner and psychedelic rock seem to be reaching an apex now with so many throwback and psychedelic bands coming to the fore. Valkyrie, Doomriders, Kadavar, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Bloody Hammers, Saint Vitus, to name just a few, all released albums in the 2012 or 2013. This means there are good and bad albums as each group scrambles to put their hat in the ring. Windhand is releasing Soma almost a year after their previous self-titled debut yet it seems like they’ve spent a lot of time with it. Not only are they throwing down crushing notes, they are also building into their songs so much imagery that it’s almost overwhelming. I feel like this album has all the atmosphere of a good black metal album coupled with doom metal’s slow-motion pace. At the core is what I love the most about this album and Windhand: that they really seem to give it their all, even if that means depressing or scaring the rest of us.

Woodbine:

Orchard:

Updates And Concert Photos

Sometimes it seems like I run a shit load of contests on here and not much else. While I’m constantly working on updating the Upcoming Metal Concert Calendar the actual written posts haven’t been coming up as much lately. I have plenty of excuses like car trouble and getting sick and march madness, but I have gotten so far behind on some things that it is a bit ridiculous. I just recently finished going through all my concert pics from January, and I’ll post some of them below with a few notes about the shows they were at. You can of course click those images to see more of those bands. There are still more contests coming up soon. I love giving away free concert tickets and other stuff to the readers of the site and I hope I can continue to do so for a long time. There have been a lot of great performances by some of the area’s local acts this year and a few have even put out some high quality music videos. I did a post on that in February that you can read here though now there is another to add to the list, the below video for A Sound Of Thunder‘s song Murderous Horde. They’re having their CD release show this Saturday at Empire (formerly Jaxx).

This Sunday, April 1st (no joke!) a local black metal band, Fuchida, will be performing live for the first time at the Black Cat of all places. The venue is mostly known for appealing to the indie rock and alternative scene and I’m hoping there is a good turn out for this show so maybe they’ll consider hosting more extreme metal bands. You might be thinking that there are already places for local metal bands to play live in this area but how many of them aren’t pay-to-play? This is a local metal act headlining a show at an area venue that doesn’t make them sell tickets or sign a contract that involves them giving the venue money. We should be supporting that, even if we don’t know what the band sounds like yet.

The following Sunday, April 8th, there is another venue in Washington DC that will be hosting a metal show that doesn’t usually have them. The U Street Music Hall is normally home to dance and techno music (sort of filling the void left when Nation closed). They’re hosting their first metal show on this Sunday night, the old school UK thrashers Onslaught and a band you may not recognize by name, Mpire Of Evil, that features two ex-members of the legendary Venom. Not only that but they even play some Venom songs in their set list (details of their first show on this US tour here). The venue is said to have a great sound system (you just know those electronica DJ guys are good at setting up speakers) and it isn’t very often you get to see 80s thrash metal in a club with a great sound system set up. And really, when are you going to get to hear live Venom classics sound better than this? One of the venue’s owners even posted to Twitter (here) that he’d like to see more metal shows at the U Street Music Hall so I hope a good amount of you come out to show it is worth it! To make this all even sweeter, DCHeavyMetal.com will be giving away a pair of tickets to this show next week, so keep an eye out for that.

Another thing I’d like to mention is that this month, March 2012, has been DCHeavyMetal.com’s best month ever in regards to total hits. You people who read this site, even if it’s just for the calendar, who spread the word to your friends, passed along the link of Facebook and Twitter, or even just stumbled upon it with Google, have made it worth all the work and time it takes me to run it. I don’t really make any money doing this (I do sell a few shirts here and there) and I refuse to put any paid ads on the site so if you’d like to donate a few bucks to the site you can send money via Paypal to the email address: DCHeavyMetal@Gmail.com Any donation is appreciated of course and will be put towards either making the site better or paying my way to get into more metal shows. Now, on to the photos…

Jucifer
I saw Jucifer back on Friday the 20th of January 2012 at the Black Cat and as always they put on a great show. This husband and wife duo truely live the lifestyle as they tour the country in their RV bringing their brand of sludge metal from city to city 12 months a year. And if you couldn’t tell from the mountain of speakers in this photo, they take the wall of sound thing quite literally. Be sure to see them next time they come through the area and bring ear plugs!

King Giant
The next night, Saturday the 21st of January was a big night for Northern Virginia’s metal scene. One of the area’s biggest bands, King Giant, was having their CD release show for their sophomore album, Dismal Hollow. On top of that, this was the grand re-opening show for Empire, the new name of the venue formerly known as Jaxx. Not my best night of shooting photos but I mean, with a line up of Auroboros, The Crimson Electric, Borracho and King Giant, it would have just been wrong for me to not be drinking beer and whiskey all night. I shot a couple videos that night including the one below of King Giant playing Pistols And Penance off of the album. I also added a photo below showing some of the interior changes they have made at the venue if you haven’t seen them yet.
Empire (formerly Jaxx)

Hail!Hornet
Tuesday the 7th of February found me at the Black Cat again, this time to see southern sludge metal band Hail!Hornet play on the back stage. There was a showing of the film Slow Southern Steel at the beginning of the show, a movie about heavy metal in the American south, but I missed that. The Atlanta, Georgia based psychedelic sludge band Zoroaster played after they did with a really trippy light show, and finally Hail!Hornet took the stage and killed it. They’re a band featuring members of Buzzov•en, Alabama Thunderpussy and Sourvein so you knew they were going to bring some great filthy sludge metal and they didn’t disappoint.

Windhand

Now I’ve got to skip a few bands because I simply haven’t gotten to sorting all of their photos yet. The above image is of Dorthea Cottrell of the Richmond based doom band Windhand when they played at St. Stephen’s Church in Columbia Heights on Saturday, March 3rd. I won’t write much about that show here because I did a review of it covering all four bands who played it here.

Warbringer

On Tuesday March 13th I found myself at the 9:30 Club to see California thrash act Warbringer and Floridian power metal band Iced Earth. I had been given a photo pass for that show, though for some reason it was only valid for Warbringer’s set. To add to my frustration I was feeling sick and while it was cool too see Warbringer play on a bigger stage, I just wasn’t up for Iced Earth by the time they played. When Iced Earth’s new singer, Stu Block of Into Eternity fame, started making juvenile sexist comments about giving the shocker to the women in the audience I decided I’d had enough and took my infected self home.

Alcest
I’m skipping over talking about an excellent Dysrhythmia show I saw in Baltimore here but I wanted to mention last night’s Alcest show at DC9. They put on a excellent performance of a set list made up of mostly their new album’s material. It did go on a bit long I thought, but it was still a pretty great experience. The lighting was pretty dim though making it hard to take photos, and the fog machine was jacked up the entire show making it even harder to get any great shots. Because of this I decided to make some animated gif images from some of my series of shots. I did see Alcest open for Enslaved in September last year so you can see some higher quality images of the band I shot by clicking the gif if you’d like.

Well, that’s all for now, thanks for reading DCHeavyMetal.com and if you’d like more updates on things like when local bands are making announcements or area venues and media have things to say about metal be sure to check out DCHM on Facebook and Twitter (your choice, I post most things to both). Keep it metal everyone and remember, support the scene you’re a part of!

Review of Windhand at St. Stephen’s

On Saturday the 3rd of March 2012 I headed over to Saint Stephen’s Church in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington DC to catch a great line up of metal bands. And while drinking wasn’t allowed at the venue this wasn’t some sort of Christian rock concert, upside down crosses and other metal standards were on display on stage throughout the night. The excellent Richmond, Virginia based doom band Windhand was touring with Natur and Pilgrim and this was the DC stop. To make the show even better DC’s own death/doom masters Ilsa were on the bill as well. Midnight Eye was supposed to open the show but they had to drop off and were replaced by Satan’s Satyrs, a Northern Virginia based sludge/stoner type of band. $10 for 5 bands is normally a pretty good deal on most nights, but this was a killer line up that gave back a lot of quality metal for your buck. That was $10 well spent!

Satan’s Satyrs was the first band up. The crowd was pretty sparse during their set but people were still coming in. The trio were decked out in bell bottoms and played a throwback style of stoner/sludge metal though it had quite a bit of energy as well. The problems with the PA system were a recurring issue throughout the evening and their set was no different. They were loud in the large square rec room space though the faster parts of their songs sounded pretty muddy. This wasn’t the band’s fault, the sound just wasn’t great that night. However it wasn’t bad enough to ruin the music overall and their performance was still entertaining, especially for a last minute add on.
Satan's Satyrs

The next band to play was Pilgrim, a three piece doom band from Rhode Island. I was unfamiliar with them but they were pretty good live. They were very heavy and most of their songs were slow paced. They weren’t very flashy but they played some quality tunes, often times just slowly grinding along. They finished their set with a faster paced song that was pretty cool as well. Apparently this was their first tour and this was a good showing.
Pilgrim

The next band to hit the stage was Natur, a sort of thrashy metal band from New York City. They had a lot of energy on stage and I was really blown away by how well the executed live. Lots of catchy memorable riffs and wailing guitar solos with some solid song structures that tied it all together. I couldn’t hear the vocals for most of their performance from where I was standing. However things seemed to get sorted out a little bit by the end of their set and honestly they were so fun live the poor sound quality didn’t come close to ruining it for me. I was very impressed by these guys to say the least.
Natur

Next on stage was Windhand, one of my favorite underground bands from Richmond. They are a really heavy doom band with a woman on vocals but this is no girl power gimmicky band. I’ve seen them perform a few times before but this was certainly the biggest of those shows as far as attendance is concerned. The whole of Windhand were in great form for this show. Their sludgy doom even brought a few onlookers from the square dance event going on in another section of the church. My only complaint was that the set seemed too short, and judging by all of the applause I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wishing they had played longer.

Windhand

Locals Ilsa played last. They’re one of the leading bands in Washington DC’s underground metal scene and they were spotlighted in an article in the City Paper last week (here). They play a very crusty style of death/doom metal that isn’t particularly technical but is incredibly crushing. Their sound is dirty and full of great riffs and they got the biggest mosh pits of the night during their set. Ilsa plays pretty regularly around the area and they seem to always put on a good live show. This time they mixed up the playlist a bit and I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen Ilsa where they didn’t play their song Frostthrower. It’s usually a staple and often their closer. I’m glad they aren’t happy just staying put with what they have already done so well and they’re willing to keep moving forward and keep things fresh. The vocals were basically inaudible from where I was standing in the front but the songs are still pretty awesome on their own anyways.
Ilsa

In all this was a great show with a lot of quality bands. It sucks that you can’t drink or order food there, but it also makes it so that some of the younger fans who can’t get into the 21+ shows can get out and see killer line ups like this when they happen. The sound left a lot to be desired but really, I’ve heard worse at plenty of local “professional” venues as well. The lack of any real back stage means the members of the bands are out in the audience (or behind the merch table) most of the night which means anyone can go up and talk to them, which I think is pretty cool not only for the fans but also to help build up a band’s fan base on a more personal level. This wasn’t the first show I’ve been to at St. Stephen’s and if you hear of a good show coming there you shouldn’t hesitate to go, just be sure you eat before you get there. Thanks for reading all of this, and while the winter has been a bit slow around here I hope to have more concert reviews up this spring and summer. Also, be sure to check out (here) the newest contest running on DCHM right now where you can win quality seated tickets to Rammstein in Baltimore AND Iron Maiden/Alice Cooper in Northern Virginia and tomorrow I will be posting a new ticket contest as well. I do love giving away stuff to the readers of this site. Stay metal everyone and remember, support the scene you’re a part of!

Mega Sized Metal Concert Recap

Recently I’ve not been able to write as many concert reviews as I’d like to. I’m considering doing some shorter ones in the future. Believe it or not, my average concert review takes me 10-14 hours to put together. I have been going to a hell of a lot of shows and that just makes things back up a bunch and it can be hard to even get through just sorting through all my concert photos. However, I’ve been to some great shows since my last concert review, the Cavalara Conspiracy show review I posted back on October 14th, and I thought I’d just post a few pictures, videos and notes from those shows to give you an idea of what has been going on with live metal in this area from my point of view. Each paragraph below is about a different concert so you can skip ones ya don’t care about and move to ones you find more interesting easily. You can click any of the pictures below to see more of my photographs of the same band, and I’ve added some of my videos from the shows that I shot them at in this post as well, though as always I’ve got more on my YouTube page here.

On Friday, October 14th, 2011, I drove up to see Wabringer and Landmine Marathon at Sonar in Baltimore. This was Warbringer’s first headlining tour and while they are one of my favorite bands of the modern wave of thrash metal, I really wanted to see Landmine Marathon play. I’d never seen them before but had heard they were good live. Their vocalist, Grace Perry, was on the cover of the always controversial Hottest Chicks In Metal issue of Revolver magazine in 2009, but I didn’t care about any of that. She was absolutely ferocious on stage, really a sight to behold regardless of her gender or hotness or whatever. At one point she told the audience they better start moshing harder or she’d jump off the stage and kick everyone’s asses, and you believed it when she said it. Warbringer was fun live as usual, they played Living In A Whirlwind so I was happy. This was also the first time I’d seen them play anything from their newest album, Worlds Torn Asunder. Vocalist John Kevill did a stage dive into the audience at the end of the show. Lazarus A.D. played between those two bands but I don’t really care for them so I took that time to drink a couple Lancaster Milk Stouts in the other room. They’re delicious and Sonar has em in bottles at the bar, highly recommended when you’re thirsty at Sonar!
Grace Perry of Landmine Marathon

Warbringer

The next night, Saturday the 15th of October 2011, I found myself back at Sonar to see a black metal band from Singapore, Impiety. However, as a late addition to the bill I got to see a band I’ve been wanting to see for years, Ohio’s black/speed metal act Midnight. They came out in the executioner’s hoods that they’re known for and just shredded the place. They’re a fierce three piece and their sound reminds me of something of a cross between Motörhead and Darkthrone. After their awesome set Impiety hit the stage drenched in pig blood, and man did it stink like something awful. The pit was fierce for their entire set and the band never let up either. It was really a great show I’m glad I didn’t miss it. Considering where they’re from, who knows if you’ll ever be able to see them play around here again.
Midnight

Impiety

On Monday the 17th of October 2011 I found myself at Jaxx in Springfield, Virginia to check out local power metal band A Sound Of Thunder play support for the Swedish power metal band Sabaton for the final show of their tour. The audience was thin this evening, Dream Theater was playing at the Warner Theatre the same night and I’m sure that had an effect on the turn out. However A Sound Of Thunder put on a solid set and kept the audience’s attention. They were a good warm up act for Sabaton. I’d never seen Sabaton before, and honestly I’m not that familiar with their music, but I’ll tell you they were entertaining as hell to watch live. You could just tell that the band was having a lot of fun playing for the audience and even though the turn out wasn’t huge the people who were there really gave a lot of energy back to the band. They played a prank on their new temporary bass player when the rest of the band started playing a song they hadn’t taught him to play. It was a really fun experience from a band I didn’t really know what to expect from.
Nina Osegueda of A Sound Of Thunder

Sabaton

Skip ahead to Friday the 21st of October and I was at a kick ass Deceased show at Comet Ping Pong in Washington, DC. The opening acts were two I really enjoy, DC’s own stoner band Borracho and Richmond’s doomy/sludge band Windhand. Borracho went on first and they didn’t start until after 10pm. They put on a good show and the audience that came to see Deceased, different than the normal stoner band crowd, seemed to be into it. Next up came Windhand. This band is HEAVY and this set was no different than usual. Finally Deceased hit the stage well after midnight. Deceased has a lot of ties to the DC area, originally based out of Northern Virginia they are the kind of band that draws people out of the woodwork when they play in the area. It was good to see such a big crowd for them. They didn’t have a bass player, which made their sound a bit tinny and took some getting used to. King Fowley used to play drums but now was just doing the lead vocals, and he was having a lot of fun with the audience and even came out into the crowd a couple times. I got home really late that night, but it was worth it!
Borracho

Windhand

Deceased

Sunday the 23rd of October, 2011, I went on a road trip up to Philadelphia to catch a band I’d been wanting to see for several years, Kvelertak, play at Johnny Brenda’s. When I got there the Georgian psychedelic sludge metal group Zoroaster was playing and I saw them do a couple songs. Skeletonwitch, a thrash band from Ohio, was after them and they put on an energetic show, they’re definitely a better live band than when I saw them in April 2010. Not that they were bad then, but they’ve definitely got their live show down better now and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them doing a headlining tour sometime soon. Finally Kvelertak, the Norwegian punk/metal band I drove all that way to see, was up and they put on a hell of a wild show. There was a lot of stage diving and beer drinking and the show just had a crazy amount of energy going on. It was definitely worth the 6 and a half hours of driving there and back that night, so much fun! Hopefully they won’t skip the DC area on their next tour. Also, I met two other people, who didn’t know each other, who had both come up from the DC area for this show. That was kind of cool.
Skeletonwitch

Kvelertak

On Thursday the 27th of October I went to see a Sepultura cover band made up of members of various local bands, namely Disciples Of Christ (D.O.C.), Drugs Of Faith, Magrudergrind and Mind As Prison. This was at a small Ethiopian restaurant and bar called Asefu’s just a couple doors down from DC9 in Washington DC. Local guitar shredders Midnight Eye opened the set up and they were awesome as usual. They played a cover of Megadeth‘s classic Rust In Peace that was pretty slick as well. Local band Auroboros was next to play. They’re a great live band, with ex-members of Baroness and Salome in the group you know it’s just a matter of time until they really take off. During their set the drummer got caught in the fake spider webbing while playing, he even lost a stick to it, haha! The Sepultura all stars played next and while their set was mired with some technical difficulties at first, it was a lot of fun. I was a huge Sepultura fan in high school so it was cool hearing them play some of those old classics. They only played about four or five songs though, I wished it had lasted another hour! The final band of the night was Inter Arma from Richmond. Sadly a lot of people left after the cover band played but they played a powerful set regardless, I’m glad I stuck around to watch them.
Midnight Eye

Auroboros

Sepultura cover band

Inter Arma

I had another stop at Jaxx on Sunday the 30th of October 2011 to see Decapitated play. There were a lot of other bands playing this night, however I only saw the final three bands. Italy’s Fleshgod Apocalypse came out in their tuxedos and really got the mosh pit going, including a few guys in drag for Halloween that were in there. Next up was the California based tech death band Decrepit Birth. I really like this band a lot. They remind me of the band Death a lot, but with a more modern sound. Their vocalist, Bill Robinson, is a bit of a head trip but he really got the audience into the show. At one point he held up a copy of their latest CD and told the audience anyone could have it if they took it from him. This caused a wave of people to climb over the railing onto the stage and Bill kept pushing them back to stage dive onto the audience. Then came the headliners, the Polish death metal band Decapitated. This band had a tragic bus accident on October 29th 2007 while on tour. Their drummer was killed in the wreck and the vocalist was critically injured. Decapitated broke up for a little while, though guitarist Vogg decided to get them back together, with all other members of the band being new, and put out a new album back in July titled Carnival Is Forever. However, this band just isn’t the same, it was almost sad seeing them play. Spheres Of Madness, their closing song and most famous, just wasn’t the same, it was almost like seeing a cover band play it. Combined with their short set, they only played for about 45-50 minutes, they were a let down. I’m glad I got to see them a few times before their accident. Also of note, this was their final show of the tour and on the return flight their airplane had to make an emergency landing with no landing gear. The story with video of the landing is posted here. The band is fine but damn, maybe they should start walking when touring.
Fleshgod Apocalypse

Decrepit Birth

Decapitated

On Tuesday the 1st of November, 2011 I went up to Baltimore to see Opeth play at Rams Head Live. Their set was a rather laid back performance, even by Opeth’s standards. Their new album, Heritage, has no harsh vocals on it, and this tour was certainly to promote that album. The show was fun, and being that it was the last show of the tour the guys were kind of goofing off a bit. They let the audience in a short singalong to the chorus of Harvest at one point, and had a few pranks going on stage throughout the night. However the highlight of the evening was the encore. Members of the opening act that I didn’t get there in time to see, Katatonia, joined Mike Åkerfeldt and Martin Axenrot of Opeth to reform the Swedish death metal super group Bloodbath! They played two songs, Soul Evisceration and Eaten, in a very rare public performance by Bloodbath. Mike hinted that they might be back together for real, though he didn’t say if that meant a new album, tour or if it was even definite. Their short and brutal encore set was quite a contrast to the Opeth show that had gone on just before it. This was the only concert of the tour that Bloodbath made an appearance at, and I felt very lucky to be in attendance. Definitely one of my concert highlights of the year! You can see video footage of Bloodbath’s performance (not shot by me) posted here.
Opeth

Bloodbath

The next night, Wenesday the 2nd of November, found me in Baltimore again for the first show of tour by the infamous Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. When I got there the show was running a bit behind schedule though and I saw the end of Abigail Williams‘ set. Then the polish blackened death metal band Hate performed. They were pretty good if not overly original, sort of like a Behemoth junior. I have to say their guitarist had some of the worst corpse paint I’ve ever seen though. Then the Norwegian melodic black metal band Keep Of Kalessin played. I watched a couple of their songs but soon found myself in the next room drinking Lancaster Milk Stouts again. Keep has gone down hill in my book over the years, now they seem to be a sort of singalongy kind of band and they’ve lost the bite I enjoyed of their older material. Finally Mayhem was up next, their first area appearance since they played at Maryland Deathfest in 2009. Vocalist Attila Csihar came out looking like some sort of satanic vampire and it was awesome! He’s known for his wild stage costumes but this was just over the top. The band played a kick ass set heavily loaded with material from their classic albums De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Deathcrush and it got the place going crazy. There were tons of fights, even a woman got thrown out of the show for being to crazy in the pit, it was intense! I got some bruises but it was worth it to get some awesome shots of one of metal most notorious bands.
Hate

Keep Of Kalessin

Mayhem

On Sunday November 6th, 2011 I was at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland to watch Death Angel, Testament and Anthrax play there. However there was a problem with the photo passes that night and rather than risk leaving my camera in my car where it could be stolen, I had to head home after I already had my tickets in hand. Very frustrating let me tell you. I still haven’t been inside the new venue, I hope they get things straightened out next time. I really wanted to have some photographs up for you guys from that show, and have a nice big concert to end this long recap on but sadly, no dice. I might do more of these long recaps in the future, if you people like or don’t like them let me know. I’ve got a lot more metal shows to go to coming up and this might be a good way to try to cover more of them, starting with Torche tonight at DC9. Also, I should have some shirts with my new t-shirt design on them for sale very soon so keep your eyes peeled for that. They have new Abe Lincoln artwork drawn by DC based metal band Ilsa‘s drummer Joshua Brettell and they look awesome! Thanks for reading DCHeavyMetal.com, stay brutal everyone!