Wednesday, July 28, 2010

THE BODY, Atakke, Bad Dream, Curandera played the Acheron

200 words for Terrorizer Mag:

Providence, RI is rapidly becoming a hotbed for doom activity; local heavy weights Sin of Angels, Howl, and now The Body have been laying it down low and keeping it dirty for years, and are finally getting some attention for it. To kick off an extensive US tour, The Body recently played at Brooklyn’s Acheron (a practice space turned DIY show spot) with a trio of NYC’s best underground bands – the powerviolent sludge fiends Curandera, psyche-doom-elic 70s rockers Bad Dream, and thrash/death hellraisers Atakke, whose spitfire of a frontwoman Chloe Puke had the crowd going mental. The true highlight of the night was the out-of-towners, though. With sweat pouring down their bearded faces and shining off of faded tattoos, the two men of The Body hammered away at our eardrums and showed no mercy, hauling out riff after sludge-infested riff of murderously heavy doom and bowing to the crowd’s demand for an encore.
Waves of feedback, creepy samples, and a no-nonsense, head’s-down-keep-playing approach made their set all the more enjoyable and even more intense than a spin of their excellent new LP All Of The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood, could have prepared us for. Doom or be doomed.

Photo by Samantha Marble - check out more sick shots and an extended show review here:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

COFFINWORM/Vaste Burai/Wizard Eye - 8/13 PHILLY

I am REALLY EXCITED for this show :) Come support the bands and Doomed to Suffer in the City of Brotherly Hate:

August 13, 2010 @ 06:30pm - Doomed to Suffer Presents: *note: THIS IS AN EARLY SHOW! 7-9PM!

This band is fucking AMAZING. Vicious nihilistic sludge with a blackened bent and syrupy Southern discomfort. Death, doom, destruction, and an insane live show. On tour from Indiana, new record out on Profound Lore. One of my favorite bands!

Brutally down-tuned two-piece on tour from Texas!

Philly's best psychedelic doom warriors.

at The M Room
15 W. Girard Ave
$8 / 21+ with ID

DEVOURMENT Didn't Take My Bait

I wanted to get them talking shit about deathcore, but instead they had to be all diplomatic. Bah humbug. Keep an eye out for an excerpt on Noisecreep sometime soonish.

Interview for Noisecreep
w. Kim Kelly

Congrats on signing with Relapse! How did that come about?

MM- They contacted us a couple of years back about doing an exclusive t-shirt design and we just kind of stayed in close touch with them ever since. A couple of the Relapse guys caught us live a few times and were impressed with our performance I guess, and pretty much approached us at one of those shows and said they were interested in us. We were definitely interested in Relapse we well as it seemed like a logical progression so they patiently waited for us to be free from our previous contract and the rest is history.

You’re heading off to Europe in support of 2009’s Unleash the Carnivore, and will be hitting some pretty major festivals. Have you played over there before?

MM- Yes, we had a successful headlining European tour in 2007 with Viral Load and Despise, and it was an amazing experience. So this will be our second full tour there, which we will be doing with Cerebral Bore. These will probably be the biggest fests we have ever played, especially Partysan and Brutal Assault.

You’ve got a US tour coming up quick as well, and will be heading out with Cattle Decapitation as well as a handful of newer bands. How do you think your fans will react to a band like Knights of the Abyss or Burning the Masses?

MM- Hard to say really, as this will be our first US tour so everything will be a very new experience for us. We have played in the US before but very few cities so it will be exciting to see how it goes. I’m sure all of the bands on the tour will do great and have a lot of fun.

Devourment are one of the most well-known brutal/”slam” death metal bands out there, and have undoubtedly inspired countless others. It’s not much of a stretch to assume that many of the modern deathcore bands have taken some cues from your ultra brutal approach. What do you think of deathcore and your theoretical influence upon it?

MM- Well I can’t really speak for any bands, I mean it would be pretty arrogant to assume any band is influenced by us just because it’s a similar style. We didn’t invent that style so who knows. I personally don’t listen to much deathcore or whatever, but I have no problem with it, each his own. Shit I ripped off a Van Halen song on Anal Electrocution.

Do you see deathcore/metalcore as gateway drugs to the real underground metal scene, or as something to be ignored/condemned/stamped out? It seems like many metalheads take the latter stance. Do you think the generation gap between younger deathcore fans and older death metallers is part of that?

MM- I honestly don’t waste my time or energy giving a fuck what other people talk about or care about. I always have my Reign in Blood CD close by. If it skips, that’s when I get fucking pissed.

Do you feel that the death metal scene lacks unification?

MM- Yes.

What five records are you listening to the most right now?

MM- As far as new albums,
Misery Index: Heirs to Thievery
Immolation: Majesty and Decay
Dying Fetus: Descend into Depravity
Cannibal Corpse: Evisceration Plague
Skeleton Witch: Breathing the Fire
I always have my old school death and thrash CD’s close by as well, but I do listen to other music, not just metal.

Cheers for the interview, see y’all in NYC!

Awesome, thanks a lot!


For a bunch of embarrassing pictures of us, check out the original post:

Writer Kim Kelly has completed her (epic) journey on the road with the Summer Southern Burn Tour aka the indomitable team of Zoroaster, Black Tusk, and Dark Castle. She kept a diary along the way, revealing the first part a few weeks ago, and now the conclusion! (below) - BBG


June 26th - San Francisco, CA @Thee Parkside

We had a hella short drive over from Oakland to San Francisco, so we all splintered off and made the most of our semi-free day. Black Tusk, Zoroaster Dan and I hit up Nation Burger for breakfast, then Dan and I drove over the Bay Bridge (twice - thanks, GPS) in search of records and decent grub. Every time I find myself in the mighty Amoeba Records I know I'm going to drop a bundle, and Dan is an even worse vinyl nerd than I am; he had a fucking stack of at least ten slabs of vintage country/rock'n'roll, while I was just stoked to find Blasphemophager's 'Nuclear Empire of Apocalypse' on picture disc and grab the new Thou/Moloch split alongside a couple Skynyrd and Scorpions tapes for the van. He split to go check out the barbecue that everyone else had been chilling at all day, and I met up with my friends Erin and Kyle and Andrew from Black Tusk for Thai food (he got green chili catfish - you can take a boy out of ol' Dixieland, but you cannot take ol' Dixie from a boy), then after wandering around Haight-Ashbury for awhile, Andrew and I headed over to the venue to kill time at the bar before load in. Everyone else moseyed in about an hour later, and people started piling in shortly thereafter. Tonight fucking slayed - packed house, good sound, a rad promoter (Whore for Satan rules) and a bunch of great friends came out. I was particularly stoked to see my friend Arthur von Nagel from Cormorant and his adorable lady Amber, and a bunch of Zoroaster's buddies kept things lively. We ended up staying with the latter after the show, and tried to grab a few hours of sleep post-party, pre-drive. Thanks for showing us a hell of a good time, San Francisco! This show was just the morale boost we all needed; tempers were flaring and spirits were sagging pretty low up until this one.

June 27th - Chico, CA @Coda Café

Black Tusk's merch babe Chloe (who screams bloody gore in NYC's Atakke) grew up in San Francisco, so when we woke up the next morning she took us out to her favorite burrito place, and to Whole Foods to stock up on van food. I can't stress enough how important it is to stop at grocery stores on tour. The nonstop menu of gas station munchies, fast food, and Waffle House starts to take a heavy toll after a couple weeks, and it's cheaper, too - a box of granola bars and some apples costs about as much as a Big Mac, bro! We've been trying to eat healthy on this run, but finances, time, and general laziness makes it pretty hard. Generally, Rob and Ben will eat any deep-fried monstrosity they can get their hands on while Stevie and I scrounge for Cliff Bars and string cheese (though I did see Ben eat an orange the other day, and swore it had to be a mirage). Living like this makes us even more appreciative of venues like the Coda Café in Chico that made it a point to offer up some decent food when we rolled up. We were there for a pick-up show that'd been added to fill in a day off, which ended up being a pretty laid-back affair. It didn't hurt that the Dark Castle and Zoroaster crews were already in a great mood after having spent a few hours that afternoon drinking beers and swimming in a wonderfully cold river a few miles from the venue; many thanks to Brandon from The Makai for taking us there!

Coda Cafe is small and cozy, with a palate-pleasing menu of gourmet pizza and an appreciative crowd of locals who trickled in once the first band started playing and stuck around 'til the not-so-bitter end. The second local band, The Makai, were fucking awesome - their unholy amalgamation of doom, black, and death metal was executed with merciless precision and unfolded throughout the course of one epic thirty-minute song. Keep an eye on these guys! Their drummer also pulls double duty in Mammoth Tora, the weirdo surf rock band that closed out the night once the touring bands had done their thing. Good show, good vibes, good times!

June 28th - Portland, OR @Satyricon

The drive from Chico to Portland was absolutely beautiful, but hellishly long. This tour's been littered with 8+ hour drives, which has given us all a lot of time to catch up on reading and fight over music selections. We alternate between Stevie's iPhone, my laptop, and the radio, which yields a pretty ridiculous mishmash of sounds that no one can ever agree on. Stevie likes slow, depressive stuff, Ben's a firm advocate of dirty Southern gangsta rap, I'm an elitist prick, and whenever Rob's driving he wants to hear something rockin', which doesn't work well when my laptop's plugged in. "Do you have any Metallica?" "Fuck that." Saint Vitus' Born Too Late starts wailing out of the speakers. "I need something I can sing along to!" Okay. Mercyful Fate goes on repeat for the next couple hundred miles. "Don't Break the Oath, motherfucker!"
Portland's a wonderfully weird city surrounded by breathtaking natural surroundings and populated by a bunch of our good friends, so we'd all been looking forward to this show for awhile. Chloe and I snuck off to Voodoo Donuts before the show for some maple bacon bars and picked up a dozen (chocolate on chocolate and decorated with pentagrams!) to celebrate James (drums, Black Tusk)'s birthday later that night. The Satyricon is an all-ages venue with an adjacent bar, where my friend Zack from the insanely awesome Nux Vomica happened to be bartending and hooked Andrew and I up with some free drinks. It's always surreal to see young kids wandering around, but the bassist of the killer local band Tenspeed Warlock had brought his ten-year-old son to the show and the kid was a total badass! Our buddies Mike and Aaron from YOB came out to hang, and Nate Carson from Nanotear put us up in his awesome house afterwards. A night to remember (for some of us, anyway; a couple of us got into a fight with Jim Beam and Johnny Walker, and lost. Badly). As Athon said, "Girl, you lost your knees!"

June 29th - Seattle, WA @Funhouse

After enjoying a lovely (hungover) breakfast with Nate and some friends from Subarachnoid Space, another long, scenic drive deposited us at the Funhouse in Seattle - right under the Space Needle! This is a pretty merch-heavy tour, and the merch crew has had a hell of a time fitting our assorted bags and boxes into the smaller bars/venues. I'm already dreading trying to fit all three of our setups into the miniscule merch area at the Khyber in my 'hood. The three of us (me, Chloe, and Zoroaster's road dog Nick) took over the joint's lone pool table and laid out our wares, reveling in the luxury of having an actual space for all of our stuff. The Funhouse was one of the raddest venues we've encountered so far. In addition to the merch corner, they had plenty of room for gear, a cozy backstage room, and a basketball hoop outside, where Steven from Kreation Records fucking rocked all of us!
The metaleros in the opening band, Sin Dios, unleashed some high-quality black/death metal fury, but had a sense of humor, too - at the end of their set, the singer cracked "There are a lot of bands from the South playing tonight. We're from the South, too - South of the border!"
Our original plan was to crash with Stevie's friends in Galder and Grey (two killer Seattle metal bands) but we and the Zoros ended up staying with Steven (an old friend of Dan's) at his tricked-out doom mansion instead. His record collection was about as jaw-dropping as one would expect from the guy that runs one of the bets metal/stoner rock record stores on the planet (he had a Deathspell Omega 4xLP box set that still haunts my dreams). Dude had a SAUNA in his bathroom, and you bet your ass we all crammed in there and sweated out the toxins we'd accumulated during the past two weeks of hard-livin' and hard-drinkin' (there was a LOT of sweat!). We stayed up 'til 5am listening to Om records, drinking port wine, and appreciating Steven's hookah. Totally surreal, and totally awesome.

June 30th - Boise, ID @Red Room

We showed up late and had to rush to load in during Pussygutt's set, which was a damn shame because from what I heard, they were fucking awesome. Our dear friends Darcy Nutt and Chad Remains had set up the show for us, and their badass stoner doom band Uzala played second. They are seriously one of my favorite new doom bands; imagine a run-in between Electric Wizard and Saint Vitus with a foxier Jinx Dawson on vocals. So good! Unfortunately, time constraints and set up issues resulted in all three touring bands having to cut their sets short, which no one was too pleased about. Despite the stress, it was a fun show, and the band dudes had plenty of fun scoping out the drunk college chicks stumbling around outside afterwards (apparently, drunk sorority broads love taking pictures with heavily tattooed metal dudes!). The Dark Castle crew ended up at Darcy and Chad's place and stayed up late listening to Saint Vitus records and catching up before crashing hard.

July 1st - Salt Lake City, UT @Club Vegas

We woke up to a homemade breakfast and hung out with Darcy, Chad, and their kickass daughter before heading to their tattoo shop, Chalice, to take a look around. Darcy's work is absolutely unbelievable - there's a reason she's such a well-known, well-respected tattoo artist (and is the sweetest little lady you could ever meet, on top of it!). She hooked Stevie and I up with some gorgeous new jewelry (1" plugs for me, carved wooden weights for her) and showed us around the shop before we had to hit the long road to Salt Lake City. Before we left, we discovered a seriously injured cat curled up outside their shop; Chad made a few frantic calls to local animal shelters, and the couple ended up taking the poor kitty to an animal hospital after we'd left (they called to let us know that the cat was going to be okay!). We got to the club a little late again, loaded in, scarfed down some pizza, and settled in to watch the two locals. Los Rojos laid down a short set of Southern-inspired rock, and Invdrs (not a typo) screeched through some EyeHateGod-worshiping swamp sludge before Dark Castle thundered onstage. Gentry from Eagle Twin came out to hang and check out Dark Castle's set, which was definitely cool. The crowd wasn't huge and everyone that came up to the merch table said they'd loved the set but were too broke to buy anything (hot tip: don't come up to me and cry about not having money while holding the beer you just bought. Fucking dweebs). We all crammed into two hotel rooms, watched some Metalocalypse, and crashed out early in anticipation/dread of the 9+ hour drive to Denver the next morning

July 2nd - Denver, CO @Larimer Lounge

One of the most difficult parts of touring is creating and maintaining a positive balance between tons of very different personalities. Oftentimes, personalities, plans, and opinions clash, and clash hard, and it can get mad ugly trying to negotiate a solution. This morning was one of those times for our camp. Things eventually worked themselves out, but for awhile, shit was pretty apocalyptically awful. This has been a really tough, stressful tour for a number of reasons, and it's taking its toll. The fun and positivity always comes back, though; at the end of the day we're all good friends working and playing music together and it's that love that keeps us sane (or something like it). A long drive and shitty load-in (showing up late and frantically trying to steer the entire contents of our van through a crowd of nonplussed hipsters is never a great way to start a show) put a damper on our arrival, but a good turnout and plenty of hang time on the patio smoothed things over; fair enough, Colorado.

July 3rd - Kansas City, MO @Riot Room

Kansas City was lame, but at least we had a baller hotel room to come back to at the end of the night. Dan Zoroaster is truly the King of Priceline!

July 4th - St. Paul, MN @Turf Club

We spent our Fourth of July cooped up in a van with the windows down to save the engine from overheating and rolled up to the Turf Club just in time for a deadly evening heat to set in. Jesus fucking Christ, it was hot! The venue was cool (it had a photobooth, at least) and some of our friends from Wolvhammer came out to hang, but the crowd was what you'd expect on our nation's birthday. Also, I swear the green room was fucking haunted. The "backstage" area was down a rickety flight of stairs, in a dank basement with a secret closed-off bar in the back and way too many dark corners. I don't think any of us were man enough to stay down there more than few minutes! A very dapper gentleman with full-on face tattoos gave me a wink, though, and drinks were cheap, so the night wasn't a total bust. In addition, HeathHammer's dog RULED, as we discovered upon trudging into the apartment he shares with his lady and Rob from Battlefields (who came stumbling in at an ungodly hour, fresh from working the Dillinger Four-th of July show downtown). Crashing with friends always trumps staying at hotels, especially when they live with awesome friendly beasts.

July 5th - DAY OFF

To make up for our aborted Fourth of July, we decided to stop at a hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, halfway between St. Paul and Chicago and have a barbecue. Needless to say, we left the joint in an absolute shambles. All the madness, blood, and mayhem that went down later that night can be traced back to a single event - Nick and Andrew returning from Walmart with a grill, tons of food, three cases of beer...and a gigantic jug of rum. Hotel security kept creeping in and giving us the hairy eyeball, but since none of us were actually doing anything wrong, they couldn't do a thing, and were forced to leave us to our own devices. Imagine twelve heavily tattooed/pierced people jumping around a pool and swigging beers in the hot tub, periodically wandering off to check on Athon's grilling techniques and ducking back inside when it started to rain - and repeating the entire spectacle for about four hours. After they closed the pool, we ended up at the hotel bar, then up in our rooms, and then things got really fucked. Someone ended up nearly slicing his thumb off, a hole got punched in a wall, earrings were lost, more booze was drunk, people disappeared and reappeared, shit got broken, and, after witnessing just a fraction of what was going on, instead of kicking us out the dudes at the front desk seemed genuinely worried about us. Our theory is that they thought we were actually a big deal famous rock band and were totally cool with us trashing their hotel. We found out later that they'd moved every other guest off of our floor because of noise complaints, and left us alone (which was probably the worst idea they could've had, but hey, at least no one ended up dead.) Most of the crazy stuff happened before midnight, proving that day drinking is NOT good idea, no matter how much rum you've got to finish.

"What's up, bitches! I found the secret entrance!" - Rob Dark Castle

July 6th - Chicago, IL @The Empty Bottle

Chicago rules, and we have a ton of friends out there, so it was no surprise that tonight's show was a fucking blast. Bruce from Yakuza was behind the bar and dudes from Nachtmystium, the Atlas Moth, Lord Mantis, Indian, Twilight, and Blood of the Tyrant came out to hang, and the crowd was killer. The lady behind Metalcakes showed up with 'Black Tusk cupcakes' soaked in SoCo and studded with pecans, which were happily devoured (thanks again!). Chloe Puke has been doing guest vocals with Dark Castle almost every night by this point, and Stevie's been singing "Spirit Molecule" with Zoroaster, so it's turning into quite the family affair. We all ended up going separate ways after the gig, which as per usual led to some confusion the next morning when half of Dark Castle was across town with Zoroaster and the rest of us were at The Atlas Moth World Headquarters in the 'burbs. It's impossible to keep track of eleven other people, but even keeping tabs on the rest of our van is a constant struggle!

July 7th - Newport, KY @Southgate House

This was hands-down the biggest surprise of the entire tour. I expected Newport to be a let-down after the awesome time we'd had in Chicago, but the Southgate House show was absolutely amazing. The staff was super nice, tons of kids came out including some old friends of Black Tusk's (shout out to Mollie Hatchet!) and we were kept busy at the merch table all night. The only bummer came right before Dark Castle's set, when Stevie discovered that her guitar had finally succumbed to a crack it had sustained during their last European tour. After trying in vain to make it work, she had to quickly borrow Andrew Black Tusk's axe to get through DC's set. Dark Castle have had THE worst luck on this tour, but they still manage to bring it every damn night.

July 8th - Pittsburgh, PA @31st St. Pub

Everyone's always told me that Pittsburgh sucks, which seems a little harsh. I fully expected to be proven wrong tonight, but no such luck. After choking down the worst wings in the world (seriously. Nick got his money refunded, they were that bad) we rolled over to the venue and did what we do. Pittsburgh is a pretty lame town, but at least its local bands are super nice. We hung out with Vulture all night after seeing them dredge up some seriously nasty sludge - their drummer, Kelly, was one of the coolest people we met on this tour. The show itself was pretty weak, and there were some money issues with the promoter afterwards ($120 for catering? Really? I didn't realize a couple pints of fried rice and some bottles of water were that expensive, bro) so we were happy to get out of there.

July 9th - New York City, NY @The Studio at Webster Hall (pics from that show)

If you think parking in Manhattan is a nightmare, try parking a fifteen passenger van (or a van with a trailer) in the middle of the street, climbing up a flight of stairs carrying a bass cab, and weaving your way through a crowd of hipsters and Jersey Shore extras to toss your gear on the sidewalk and hope nothing goes wrong. Welcome to hell - and welcome to loadout at Webster Hall. The show was fucking awesome (presented by the always rad Rich Hall and Brooklyn Vegan), the joint was totally packed, tons of friends came out to rage and our buddies in Hull started things off with a bang, but once it was over, everything went to hell. Loadout was a nightmare, bad decisions were made, mass confusion enveloped our entire party, tempers flared, words were said, and almost everyone left angry. Everyone except the two members of Dark Castle ended up at Duff's in Brooklyn, where the indomitable Jimmy Duff took us downstairs to a private room, plied us with beer and whiskey, and told us stories about the crazy goings-on that that room had seen (he also pointed out a pair of Peter Steele's prison boxers...). A late night got later and later - I'm still surprised Ben and I made it back to my place without encountering any more trouble. A great night with an awful ending.

July 10th - Philadelphia, PA @The Khyber

And, one day away from the end of tour, the stress and animosity that had been building up over the past month came to a head, and Team Dark Castle hit rock bottom. The madness and poor planning of the night before caught up with us once one party made its feelings known to another party, and an explosive, heated argument broke out when we got to the van. Total bullshit. Most of the van ride was spent in silence, punctuated by Ben and Andrew's colorful commentary on the New York passersby. By the time we got to Philly, most of us were in a good mood, and things sort of worked themselves out by mid-show. Turnout was good, a ton of my buddies came out to hang, and the bartender was very liberal with free drinks, so spirits were a bit higher by the end of the night. We crashed with my friend James in his enormous house and tried to mentally prepare for one last battle.

July 11th - Harrisonburg, VA @Blue Nile

Last day of tour. We all knew we were one day away from going home, so everyone just went with the flow and enjoyed ourselves.. There were some real characters in the crowd that night, but they added a certain something to the atmosphere (except the one broad that came up to my table and started yelling at me for trying to sell her "lithographs"). Black Tusk made a point of thanking the road crew (love you boys!) at the end of their set, and to the small but rabid crowd's delight, hauled out an older song as an encore. A few good friends made it out (always a pleasure to see Brandon from Cough), and there was no stress, no drama, just good tunes, good vibes, and a lot of bromantic goodbyes. After spending a month living, eating, playing, and fighting with one another, you can't help but start to miss your tour family as soon as their headlights fade into the distance. Luckily, all three bands tour like motherfuckers, so make sure to catch Black Tusk with Fu Manchu next month, and see Zoroaster and Dark Castle with Nachtmystium and the Atlas Moth in September!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Also, I just got back from a month-long tour with Zoroaster, Black Tusk, and Dark Castle, the latter of whom I was slingin' merch and haulin' gear for. I documented our travels and travails in a tour diary for Brooklyn Vegan. Here's part one.

June 15th - Birmingham, AL @ the Nick

The first day of tour is always madness, especially when you wake up late and still have a thousand things to get ready. After merch, equipment, loading, and the procurement of the other roadie, Ben, Team Dark Castle ended up leaving two hours later than anticipated, and still got to Birmingham before the Black Tusk or Zoroaster bros. After eight hours of Panhandle scenery punctuated by gas station stops and Rob's freestyling up front (3 6 Mafia never fails!), we were pretty stoked to get to the Nick and slam down a couple drinks at the rickety old bar. With a ceiling plastered in old flyers and promo photos and a bar staff that was just oozing with Southern hospitality, the Nick seemed primed to deliver a good time. The crowd wasn't huge but were crazy enthusiastic; Dark Castle had the biggest audience of the night, but Zoroaster had the most energetic. I never thought I'd see the day that dudes in Blacklisted shirts would be picking up change to "Spirit Molecule," but there's a first time for everything. Dark Castle hauled out two new songs, opening with an untitled number then dropping "Seeing Through Time" like an atom bomb halfway through their set. Cheap drinks, killer sets from Black Tusk and Zoroaster, and a reunion with our good friend Jamie rounded out one hell of a first night of tour. The 3:30am Waffle House run and Black Tusk/Dark Castle slumber party afterwards was just icing on the cake.

June 16th - Memphis, TN @ Hi Tone

Thanks to Black Tusk bassist/throat Athon's good ol' boy charm, we checked out of the hotel late enough to keep our collective hangovers at bay, stopping at Waffle House again on our way out (expect to hear plenty more about this particular establishment from here on out). We had a short drive to Memphis, and took advantage of the extra time to stop at one of the sketchiest grocery stores I've ever seen (and I live in West Philly!) and load up on van food. As soon as we and Zoroaster met up at the Hi Tone, a dilapidated-looking building hunkered down next to a couple check casing joints and a gas station, it started pouring rain. It rained, and rained, and rained; load-in was treacherous to say the least. Inside, though, it was rock'n'roll paradise, with good food at the bar, ample space to set up our merch fortress, and plenty of room for gear and hanging. The show started late, with local boys Galaxicon throwing down some cool spacey doom (think Minsk, YOB, Atlas Moth) held down by a killer drummer/vocalist. The rest of the show went smoothly, and we sold a ton of merch. This time we cuddled up with Zoroaster and headed out early the next morning on Dan's goading.

June 17th - Breakdown in Van Buren, Arkansas

After bidding farewell to the Georgians, we hit the road and were making great time when all of a sudden, the van started acting weird. We had no idea what a nightmare this would turn into, but quickly realized - shit's not right. Ben took a look and offered up suggestions, so we'd try one thing, go for a bit, break down, repeat, repeat. Eventually the van died completely by the side of the road somewhere in Arkansas. We managed to flag down a nice lady who gave us a jump then took us over to the closest autobody shop to try and resolve the issue. They towed the van back to Larry's Wrecker in Van Buren, AK and fiddled around under the hood while we sweated and worried outside the shop. It became apparent that there was no way we were making the Oklahoma City show that night, so Dark Castle called the promoter and other bands and let them know what was up. Fast-forward a few hours, and the four of us had finally given up for the evening, retiring to a nearby Motel 6 to do laundry and try to get some sleep. Before we crashed, we decided that a beer or three was necessary, and headed off down the road on foot to find a watering hole. To our absolute horror, we discovered that, of all the places in the world to break down, we'd done it in a dry country! Thankfully we ended up at a Chili's that was inexplicably allowed to serve us (overpriced) booze, and Rob had his first Long Island Iced tea, so the night wasn't a total bust.

June 18th - Day 2 in Van Buren

We woke up early and, with fingers crossed, went down to check on the van. Good ol' Larry had determined that the problem lay with the van's computer, so after graciously refusing to charge us for the hours he'd put in under the hood, he took the van (with Stevie) over to a Dodge dealership to get it looked at. In the meantime, Rob, Ben and I settled in at, yep, Waffle House for a long wait. Our kindly waitress Diana took a shine to us and helped speed the time along by regaling us with stories of her moonshine makin' days and slipping us virgin tequila sunrises. As she was leaving after her shift, she offered to take us out for a beer in the next county over, and we figured - why the hell not? We ended up at The Branding Iron, which was everything you'd expect from a bar in Fort Smith Arkansas - Confederate flags everywhere, methed-out locals laughing at my accent and playing AC/DC on the jukebox, antlers and light-up Miller signs on the wall, pool tables, grizzled old bikers, makeup-caked old hags, and our dear sweet Diana, who slipped us a joint before she went home. Another local gave us a ride to the Continental Motel down the street, where 45 bucks got us two beds (with moth-eaten sheets), some 70's era décor, and access to a teeny-tiny pool ringed by leering residents. It was shadier than anyplace any of us had ever stayed at before; we were too skeeved out to leave the premises after dark, so we ordered Domino's and crashed early, hoping against hope that we'd finally make it out of that godforsaken speck the next morning.

June 19th - Austin, TX @ Emo's

We got out of there as fast as we could the next morning after we picked up the van, and somehow managed to escape. We passed through Oklahoma (through Cherokee and Choctaw territory, and, to my immense delight, Muskogee) and headed into Texas,, bound for Austin. We got there on time, loaded out, and were reunited with all of our long-lost tourmates and a few old friends as well. Austin is a fucking awesome town for live music, and we had a blast being there. That was a messy night; we all started out with six drink tickets apiece and went from there. Dark Castle got a crazy response, Black Tusk are endlessly entertaining, and I couldn't be more excited about seeing Zoroaster bring the hammer down every night for the next month. We made out like bandits on merch that night, and stayed up way too late partying after hours, before all twelve of us squeezed into a room and crashed out at stupid o'clock.

June 20th - Day off - Lubbock, TX

Breakfast at Denny's, then more van trouble. This time it was the water pump - when it rains, it pours! After spending a frantic hour searching for an open auto repair joint in Texas on a Sunday morning, in Texas (mission: nearly impossible), we struck gold, and spent the next four hours waiting, hoping, and scumming up the Firestone lobby. Repairs finished, we got back on the road and headed west to Lubbock, TX where our friend Paul from Absu had offered to put up all three bands. We rolled in around eleven and immediately commenced barbequing, drinking, and heavy metal singalongs until the wee hours.

June 21st - Albuquerque, NM @ Burt's Tiki Hut

"Being in a band is like having four girlfriends. Except you can't fuck 'em, so it's no fun!" - Andrew, Black Tusk guitarist/vocalist.
Burt's Tiki Hut was uber-kitschy and plastered with tropical doodads, the bartenders mixed their drinks strong, and the bar itself packed full of crust punks in cowboy boots (seriously). Definitely a weird spot, but Dark Castle's set went down a storm, Zoroaster had every head nodding in stoner bliss, and Black Tusk - well, Black Tusk put on even more of a show than usual, without even trying. A very drunk, very friendly girl in a very short skirt clambered onto the stage during their set and started dancing around, shaking her ass and whooping into Andrew's microphone through at least two songs. The crowd (and the band!) ate it up, though she was smart to hop down before Andrew could kick her off for stomping all over his pedals.

June 22nd - Scottsdale, AZ @ Rogue

Arizona is absolutely gorgeous, at least if you're driving through the forests and mountains around Phoenix. Scottsdale is considerably less exciting. The first band slipped by without us really noticing, but the second, Via Vengeance, was absolutely mind-blowing! A one-man doom project that absolutely filled the room with pummeling, engaging doom, tinged with death and filthered through a thick layer of sludge, and made simultaneously playing guitar, drums, and vocals look effortless. Truly impressive. Dark Castle ran into major technical difficulties during their set when they discovered that there was only one power outlet available for the entire stage, but persevered. Zoroaster and Black Tusk brought it as always, though the crowd was less than impressive. These middle of nowhere shows are starting to wear down our morale.

June 23rd - Ramona, CA @ Mainstage

What a DEBACLE, in every sense of the word. Things started off fine, with a legit venue and hospitable staff, but by the time the first local band went on, it became apparent that something was wrong. The crowd war barely there, and made up entirely of the two beyond goofy locals' high school-aged friends, who promptly cleared out as soon as the second one got offstage. There were about seven people left during Dark Castle's set, and once they finished (after dealing with a dickhead sound guy) it came out that the owner of the club was canceling the rest of the show - before Zoroaster or Black Tusk could play. The handful of fans who'd come out for the touring package were bummed, but not as bummed as we were; seriously, who does that? The show was clearly not promoted at all, and the money situation was a mess. Note to booking agents and bands: do NOT every play this venue, unless you're in the mood to get royally screwed.

June 24th - West Hollywood, CA @ Viper Room

LA is a weird town. We got in early and spent some time wandering around the Sunset Strip and drinking a whiskey or two at the Rainbow (sadly, no sign of Lemmy or any glam-rock casualties at the bar) before dealing with the absolute clusterfuck that was load-in. The Viper Room is a cool joint, but very small and with very strict rules; we had barely any room at all (like, two feet or so of the bar) for merch and had to share a bunch of equipment and leave our gear outside until fifteen minutes before each band played. Annoying, but it was still a good show and a few rad friends from Metal Blade and Decibel came out to hang. We only got a couple drink tickets apiece, but since it was LA, where everyone is almost someone and likes to prove it by buying you drinks, we managed to party pretty damn hard. Zoroaster rolled off to stay in their friend's porn mansion (hello, LA), Black Tusk spent the night at a rest stop, and we ended up crashing in Ben's friend's living room

June 25th - Oakland, CA @ Metro

Six or so hours in California traffic later (I'm surprised Rob didn't lose his mind), we got into Oakland way earlier than expected, and killed time wandering around the neighborhood and waiting for the promoter to get in touch and let us know what the hell was going on, 'cause no one else had any clue. The venue, the Oakland Metro Operahouse, looked like a total DIY spot, but once the staff showed up and opened the doors, we discovered that it was quite the opposite - a full-on theatre, with a bar, backstage, tons of room for merch, and a really cool atmosphere. The promoter and staff were awesome and incredibly hospitable (the way to a band/road crew's heart is paved with free beer and hot meals) which made up for the attendance. There was definitely a crowd, and plenty of people bought merch and got excited about the bands, but the high door price and nature of the venue (according to a friend of mine who lives there and runs shows out of his basement, Oakland's more of a DIY house show kind of town) dragged the turnout down. Zoroaster and Stevie from Dark Castle have been plotting to do a song together for days, and finally made it happen tonight when she hopped up onstage during "Spirit Molecule" to do guest vocals. It was an absolutely hypnotic performance, and one that I believe they're planning to repeat. During Black Tusk's set, the crowd showed more energy than they had all night, including this crazy tweaker dude that was going nuts and even attempted an ill-fated stagedive. Luckily for him, the stage was only a few feet high...


I originally wrote this for Brooklyn Vegan but haven't seen it posted yet. Once Fred gets it up I'll add a link, but until then, enjoy the madness that went down.

MDF isn’t just a concert, it’s an event, as any of you who have made the pilgrimage down to Baltimore to bask in the glow of this heavy metal mecca can attest. “America’s Biggest Metal Party of the Year” has been besmirching the perpetually befouled streets of Brawltoscore for almost a decade, and this year’s edition (the eighth!) boasted the kind of lineup that had heshers the world over popping sweatpants boners. Headlined by the freshly exhumed death metal gods Autopsy and packed with top-of-the-line bruisers like Entombed, Incantation, Pentagram, Watain, EyeHateGod, and literally dozens more, this year’s incarnation might have been the best yet. Now if only they’d managed to get Bolt Thrower back here…

So on Thursday, May 27th, I packed a couple friends and way too much booze into my little white car and headed down a day early to catch the preshow. we’d seen PLF and Gride brutalize a house show in West Philly the day before, but decided we couldn’t stand to miss Birdflesh or General Surgery. Best decision that could’ve been made! We rolled up right as PLF stalked onstage and pierced the sound barrier with their don’t-give-a-fuck Texas grind, then caught Iron Lung’s always killer, hellaciously heavy two-man powerviolence assault. Bouncy grinders Birdflesh left their usual summer dresses and makeup at home (bummer) but they made up for it by donning silly hats and kicking copious amounts of ass. The highlight of the night was definitely General Surgery; their attractively blood-splattered butcher ensembles complemented their gory Necroticisms like fine wine. Plenty of bands rip off Carcass, but I’ve yet to see one that does a better job of it than General Fucking Surgery!

Day 1 of the actual fest served as a warmup for the chaos that was to come. The main event (fucking Autopsy!) wasn’t for a good long while, but my party managed to drag ourselves into the sunlight in time to soak in some of Brooklyn’s heaviest, the blackened downward spiral doom of Tombs. Then a quick dash outside to check out a few songs from cryptic Aussie black metallers Nazxul, who made their US debut with the sun beating down on their berobed shoulders and melting corpsepaint (poor chaps).

Due to flight disruptions both Sadistic Intent and Possessed (well, same thing) were forced to fly in the next day, so a little reshuffling ended up placing Watain inside. I got down with Malignancy’s caveman NYDM for awhile but missed Watain (preferring to keep the memory of their first blood-drenched US tour fresh and morbid) and apparently missing out on seeing the surly Swedes thoroughly beat down Harald, the high-spirited bassist of crossover legends D.R.I, when the latter ran onstage during their black metal rites. Dick move, guys – we know, you’re grim, WE GET IT.
I did catch some of the revitalized Gorguts lineup, and while I personally could care less about widdly technical stuff, the legions of fans pressed shoulder to shoulder against the barricade and screaming their lungs out clearly begged to differ. For many people, this band was their sole reason for attending, and thankfully, LeMay & Friends put on a killer show for them. The band debuted some new material as well, which got more than one tech geek’s panties wet! The band I personally came out to see that day was Coffins, who slowly and joyfully (judging by frontman Uchino’s perma-grin onstage) laid waste to the stage with slabs of fetid, doomy, creeping death metal. I’d have killed to see them play again, but was luckily spared the homicide conviction when some crusty handed me a flyer for an aftershow with Coffins, Massgrave, and Oak. Fuck yeah!
D.R.I. picked up the pace with their vintage punked-out thrash riffs, hauling out the hits and spurring on a neverending circle pit. seemed to have recovered nicely from his Watain encounter, and the whole band just radiated energy – you could tell they were having a good time, and so were we. The medley of classic covers they ran through was the icing on the cake – “Master of Puppets,” “Into the Void/N.I.B.”, Iron Maiden’s “Running Free, and“Holy Diver” and “Heaven & Hell” for our dearly departed Dio.

Once the shouty security guards had herded us all out of the parking lot, I collected my crew and headed off to the aftershow, which ended up going down in a squat at the top of three rickety flights of stairs. The organizers of the show were running pretty “punk-tual” so shit ran mad late, with Coffins playing to a sparse but ravenous crowd as the sun rose behind them (I am trying so hard not to make a “Land of the Rising Sun” joke here). Massgrave ground us into a pulp and Oak brought the blackened hammer of doom down hard, but the night (and morning) belonged to Coffins.

Day 2 was stacked so hard it made Jenna Jameson look flat. I somehow made it in time to catch a few songs from Mexican death squad The Chasm (so underrated; look them up) then ran in to catch my beloved Jucifer, who, even with a much smaller setup than usual (I only counted about six amps!) managed to absolutely overwhelm an entranced crowd with choice cuts off their latest record, Throned in Blood. I spent all day running around like a maniac – lots of conflicts and near-conflicts, but I managed to at least wander through almost every band I cared about. After Jucifer’s set, I peeked in on Sadistic Intent. A few rehashed proto-death riffs later, and I was over it; Jeff Becerra came out halfway through to do some Possessed songs (they did a “combined” set) but I was long gone by then, ensconced inside the venue getting my groove on to the mighty Impaled, who are one of the most consistently fun/brutal live acts I’ve ever seen. Aussie grind’n’roll terror squad Blood Duster swaggered onstage and promptly spat out a rollicking set of corpse-raping classics like “Knee-Deep in Menstrual Blood,” “Piss Stomper,” and “Kill Kill Kill,”, pumping up the crowd and giving the least fucks of any band that weekend. Wicked.

Fifteen minutes before Melechesh were due to hit the stage for their first-ever US performance, I passed by mainman Ashmedi in the hallway, stopping to give him a quick hug and tell him I was stoked to be seeing them play again. “Fifteen minutes?! Shit, I’d better get onstage,” he sputtered, hurrying off. Turns out the whole band were running a bit late, which wasn’t helped by the seemingly endless intro music that blared out at the rapidly sunburning crowd. Once they were on, though, they were ON, as their trademark slithery Middle Eastern melodies wove through viciously blackened riffs like poison asps. Melechesh threw down a memorable set and got a good reaction, though their lollygagging cut their set short enough to get ‘em yanked offstage before they could play “the hit” – the criminally catchy “Rebirth of Nemesis.” Bummer! Cozying up to the stage for Incantation right afterwards soothed the pain, though, as New Yawk’s heaviest hauled out riff after time-honored riff of down-tuned, pummeling old-school death, unveiled a new song or two, and stopped to pay tribute to two deceased legends with Death and Dio covers.

Grind gods Repulsion were all business, tearing apart Horrified like a pack of rabid wolves. Marissa Martinez from Cretin came out to shred on a couple songs, and hearing “Festering Boils,” “The Stench of Burning Death,” “Maggots in Your Coffin,” and “Black Breath” blasting across the entire festival was an unholy revelation. They even played a fucking Venom cover! I’ll never listen to “Schizo” the same way again. Repulsion were an incredibly hard act to follow, but Asphyx forged ahead, laying down track after track of vintage Swedish death (the brutal way) and leaving plenty of aching eardrums in their wake. And really, how can you not love Martin van Drunen? Everything dude touches turns to black gold. I bailed on their last few songs to fight my way through the gathering horde and get a spot near the stage for Autopsy. This band was a major draw for damn near everyone at the fest, myself included, and to our great relief and inescapable glee, they DESTROYED. Chris Reifert is a masterful frontman, even from behind the kit, and that sound – that fucking sound. Many try to sound like Autopsy, but no one comes close to replicating the sheer primitive genius behind songs like “Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay,” “Embalmed,” “Severed Survival,” “Slaughterday,” “Ridden With Disease,” Service for a Vacant Coffin,” and world-ending closer “Charred Remains.” Far from seeming tired or mechanical like so many other reunited bands do, Autopsy were on fire, enlisting the tall man Danny Lilker to hold down the low end, and Reifert’s immortal gurgle is as nasty as ever. They recently announced plans to record a new record and play more shows, so it’s really true – Autopsy have risen!

How do you follow Autopsy? You cover Dio, I guess. , Deceased covered “Stand Up and Shout” during a characteristically ornery and fast-paced set. King Fowley was as over the top as ever, pretending to maul his cohorts between chestnuts like “Night of the Deceased” and “Shrieks from the Hearse.” Reunited by grime and crust , the Swedes of Wolfbrigade stormed the stage with their raging d-beat assault, breathing new life into the flagging circle pit and sending bodies flying with “Hour of the Wolf,” “No Future,” and “Basic Urge to Kill.” Up the punx!

Portal were the last band to darken the stage that evening, and darken it they did, swathed in black robes, masks, and hangman’s nooses. Their oppressive, twisted take on bottomless black/death was even more intense and suffocating live, drowning out everything else around them and laying a blight upon all who listened. I still think they sound like Conqueror on downers, but ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. A hellish way to end a long, hot day.

Day 3 was brutal, in more ways than one. I made it back to Sonar just in time to catch what I thought would be the last few minutes of Rompeprop’s set. They inexplicably played an extra half hour, though, which gave me ample time to bounce around and circle it up for everyone’s favorite Dutch pornogrind goofballs, absurd toilet flush vocal effects and all. These dudes are literally the most fun live band I’ve ever seen – and you can’t argue with lyrical poetry like “I Am the Dolphon Blowhole Fucker” and “Dislokating Purple Stoma.”
Crucifist were, musically speaking, as tight, dirty and mean as always, but their stage presence could use a little work. Ditch the robe, panda paint, and crucified cat skeleton, dudes – just keep grinding out those sweet black/thrash/punk/filth riffs and leave the dressup to the Scandinavians,. Speaking of which, the Somberlain-loving Swedes in Necrophobic played outside, which meant their leather daddy getups and corpsepaint looked way sillier than their razor-sharp melodic black/death metal deserved. Black metal just doesn’t work in the sunlight.
Distorted Delta blues, on the other hand, holds up just fine, as veteran sludge warriors EyeHateGod cruised through a loose, murderously heavy set of classic cries for help from Dopesick/Take As Needed For Pain , throwing in a new jam or two to remind us that they really are working on new material (I swear! They promised to have it out by spring!). Mike IX was in high spirits and Jimmy Bower’s face was lit up like a Christmas tree as they and the boys proved once again that EyeHateGod are fucking back, and they ain’t goin’ nowhere.
I ignored Pestilence because they are boring (truth hurts) and bummed around ‘til it was time to ping-pong over to Pentagram (with Victor Griffin back on the axe) who gave us what we wanted, slow and sleazy. “Forever My Queen,” “Relentless,” “20 Buck Spin,””Sign of the Wolf…” oh yeah, baby. Even if it was the exact same set they’ve been playing for the past year or so, Bobbly Liebling’s still alive, which is an impressive enough feat that I don’t feel like I can hate on ‘em.

I also caught a glimpse of Nirvana 2002. Technical difficulties shortened their set to a half hour and I still don’t see what all the hype was about (sorry, BBG) but what they did (old-school Swedish death), they did well. Entombed were a bit of a letdown as well, going through the motions as they knocked out a bunch of their so-so “death’n’roll” songs before closing with the essential “Left Hand Path. Obituary, on the other hand, proved they’ve got plenty of mileage left in their swampy Florida death grooves, pulling out a lot of new material alongside the eternal “The End Complete” and “Chopped in Half” and a pointless drum solo (seriously, stop it) before ending with the one-two punch of “Slow Death” and “Slowly We Rot..”

The three and a half seconds I caught of Magrudergrind sounded pissed as usual, but the considerably longer span of time I got to spend with Capitalist Casualties gave ‘em a run for their money. Fast, hard, relentless, and punk as fuck, Cap Cash tore it up and burned it down. I’d never heard of crusty hardcore OGs From Ashes Rise before MDF (sorry, BBG) but ended up being well impressed. They somehow managed to wake up a roomful of hungover, beaten-up metalheads, get ‘em to throw all their energy into one last circle pit of death, and closed out the show on a sky-high notes. D-beat uber alles.

See you next year, Sonar. Let the recovery (and detoxing) begin…

Sunday, July 18, 2010

July already?

This year's been flying by! I've been MIA from this thing for ages (sorry) due to a massive life change or three and the busy bee status that came with 'em, but you can expect to see a bit more posts on here from now on. For now, here's some stuff I've been jamming hard (alongside the Lil Wayne/Birdman collaboration. So good!).

Favorite Records of 2010 (so far)

The Wounded Kings - Shadow Over Atlantis (I Hate)
Coffinworm - When All Became Nothing (Profound Lore)
Church of Misery - Houses of the Unholy (Rise Above)
Thou - Summit (Gilead Media)
Ludicra - The Tenant (Profound Lore)
Wolvhammer - Black Marketeers of WWIII (Init)
Amebix - Redux (Profane Existence)
Encoffination - Ritual Ascension Beyond Flesh (Ritual Death)
Dispirit - Rehearsal at Oboroten (demo)
Ramesses - Take the Curse (Ritual)

Favorite Songs of 2010 (so far)

"Glory To The Gods on the Highest" - Sabbath Assembly - Restored to One (Ajna Offensive)
"Strip Nude for Your Killer" - Coffinworm - When All Became Nothing (Profound Lore)
"Clean White Void" - Ludicra - The Tenant (Profound Lore)
"Arise" - Amebix - Redux EP (Profane Existence)
"Red Eyes, Black Skies" - Black Tusk - Taste the Sin (Relapse)
"Black Hole" - Zoroaster - Matador (Ei)
"Swarm Intelligentsia" - Kerasphorus - Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust Dawn (Nuclear War Now!)
"Atlantic Light" - Altar of Plagues - Tides (Profound Lore)
"Beginning of the End" - Panopticon featuring Rob Miller (Amebix) - Collapse (Lundr)
"A Curse" - The Body - All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood (Aum War)