Friday, May 11, 2012

INTERVIEW: New Zealand's Ulcerate

If music were a form of spiritual possession, then New Zealand's Ulcerate provides the incantation that provokes it.  Dark, doom-laden, crushing and relentless, Ulcerate performs the death metal that makes the terms "death" and "metal" seem severely lacking in descriptive powers. Every metal band says they want to be brutal. Ulcerate deliver brutality in abundance. And then they deliver some more.

Ulcerate's current line up includes Paul Kelland (Bass, Vocals), Michael Hoggard (Guitar), William Cleverdon (Guitar), and Jamie Saint Merat (Drums). They were gracious to reply to some of my interview questions via email.

What can we expect to hear on the set list? 
We’ll be doing an even split of material from our last two albums The Destroyers of All and Everything is Fire. There might be a track from Of Fracture and Failure if we’re in the mood.

What other shows will you be doing while you are in North America? 
We’re doing seven U.S. and Canadian side-shows leading up to MDF - Philadelphia, NYC, Boston, Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto and Rochester. All the shows are with our French buds Svart Crown. Brooklyn’s Tombs are along for the first three dates. (These dates are listed on the Ulcerate official web site.)

Will you have any special or unusual items for sale at MDF?
We will have our last two albums as well as a few different shirt designs available.

Any special greetings for your fans? Anything else we would know?
We will see you in a few weeks - we’re all really looking forward to finally setting foot in North America!

Ulcerate plays the 2012 Maryland Deathfest on Sunday afternoon, May 27. However, they will also play at Kung Fu Necktie on Friday, May 18 as part of the above mentioned mini tour.  So if you love them, it's definitely worth the short drive up I-95 to Philadelphia catch them pre-MDF.

Countdown to MDF X: (14) Rwake

Rwake sounds like the sweet phrase you might  mumble to your lover early in the morning, meaning something like, "Are you awake?" Rwake the sludge band from Arkansas, makes the R silent, and simply says it "wake."  But this group is anything but silent, sounding more like a massive behemoth trudging through the swampy backwoods of a forgotten landscape destroying everything in its path. And that's a good thing.

Conceived in 1996, this six piece orchestra of doom includes Jeff Morgan on drums, B. running the moog/vocals/samples,  Kiffin Rogers on guitar, C.T. on vocals, Gravy on guitar, and John-Judkins on bass. There are elements of  Rwake that remind me of Amebix, of Mastodon,  of the Allman Brothers Band, and of nothing I have ever heard before. There is something twangy and definitely Southern about their groove, though I can't quite put my finger on it.  Maybe it is just the pace. They don't seem like they are in a rush to get a song over with, but more likely to enjoy playing around the riff for a while.

This group writes progressive, complex and meditative music. Newer 11-minute missives like "It was Beautiful but Now it is Sour," rise to desperate crescendos and then descend into depths of despair. Earlier recordings like "The Cat and the Snake" tread more within the confines of traditional doom with buzzing distortion and a heavy plodding beat. Lyrically, they remain philosophical and apocalyptic.

Rwake perfoms at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest on Sunday afternoon, May 27.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Doom rockers Iron Man to play first Canadian show May 12

This weekend, Maryland doom metal godfathers Iron Man travel to upstate New York and then Ottawa, Ontario for their first-ever Canadian gig. Friday night finds them at The Downtown Quarterback in Endicott, NY and Saturday, they will share the stage with Blood Ceremony for the All That is Heavy II festival at Mavericks.

The current lineup for Iron Man includes Alfred Morris III, who has lead the band for more than 20 years, bassist Louis Strachan who joined in 2007, vocalist Dee Calhoun who joined in 2010 and drummer Jason "Mot" Waldmann, who started playing with the band officially in January 2012. Waldmann also took the drum throne during the group's last performance of 2011 on November 5 when the group played a benefit show with many area doomsters and the legendary Pentagram.

"It is a great honor to be invited to play the All That's Heavy festival," said Morris. "Iron Man has never played in Canada! It will be so much fun to see all of our fans. They probably thought they would never get the chance to see us, but the wait is finally over!"

Vocalist "Screaming Mad" Dee Calhoun echoed Morris' enthusiasm about the group's first show for our neighbors to the north.

"Speaking on behalf of the band, it's always a thrill to be asked to play a show like this, with so many other great bands. Speaking for myself, I'm beside myself, as this will be my first show that's not on U.S. soil. This is the realization of a dream for me," Calhoun said.

Canadian radio show host and promoter Derek Bradshaw seemed almost as  excited about the festival as the iron men were. A huge Iron Man fan, he and his wife Jenn host the show Crossing Boredom on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa.

"I thought that the only way I would ever see Iron Man was to buy a plane ticket and make a trip somewhere they were playing in the U.S." said Bradshaw. "Unbelievably, almost one year later, after getting up enough money together to fly to Las Vegas to see Iron Man, here they are travelling to Ottawa Canada only 30 minutes from my house! We are so lucky, because this is Iron Man’s only Canadian date!"

Bradshaw is also impressed with caliper of performers arranged for the All That Is Heavy II festival.

"We have such an excellent line up this year for All That Is Heavy II. Local (Ottawa) bands Loviatar and Monobrow begin the night. Then it’s Revelation (Baltimore, MD), Blizaro (Rochester, NY), Iron Man (Baltimore, MD) and we finished off the evening with Canada’s powerhouse Blood Ceremony," Bradshaw said.

Tickets to All That is Heavy II can be purchased at the door for $20 or $15 in advance from Vertigo Records, Birdman Records or The Record Shaap.

Friday night's show at The Downtown Quarterback features rock/alternative band Mobday (Endicott, NY) and Break of Aggression (also of Endicott), who describe themselves as Southern Metal. $5 at the door.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

INTERVIEW: Getting irresponsible with Cough

Among the slowest, sludgiest and doomiest bands to play the 2012 Maryland Deathfest is Richmond, Virginia's Cough. They take the stage Sunday afternoon, May 27. And I would say they have the right attitude about the whole point of the festival.

"Looking forward to the party! We're gonna be around for the whole fest so let's get irresponsible," said bassist Parker Chandler.

The music of Cough expresses anguish, despair, and utter misanthropic ennui to the nth degree. Just when you think drummer Joe Arcaro has slowed the pace down as slow as it can go and still be a rhythm, he loses another beat. Parker might average three notes a minute on his bass and guitarists David Cisco and Brandon Marcey can sustain a tone for as long as they like, so don't hold your breath. Vocals are plaintive and desperate.

Don't let me give you the wrong impression, however. This is powerful, cathartic, and expressive music. They take their time developing the groove and then work around the riff until you can't take anymore. It's not speed metal but its not boring either.

Chill out and check out some of these tunes. They have a 40 minute set at MDF. Cough's average song is 10 minutes long, so they will probably only play three or four songs. But what will be on their set list?

"Without giving too much away, we plan on playing a song we've never played live. Other than that, it's all up in the air," Parker said in an email.

Cough has shows scheduled before and after MDF. "We're playing at The Bell House in Brooklyn with Yob on May 23rd. After MDF we start a tour with Dragged Into Sunlight that will take us down to Austin for Chaos in Tejas," he said.

And don't forget to stop by their mech table while you are shopping for your 1000th black band t-shirt.

"We've got some beer coozies. We'll also have some vinyl copies of our first record and our split with The Wounded Kings," Parker said.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Countdown to MDF X: (16) Nausea

Grind core band Nausea from Los Angeles will play the main room of Sonar at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest on Sunday evening, May 27.  Although Nausea self-describes as grind core, to me they sound more like a hardcore punk band. Their vibe is definitely an old school, fun, circle-pit inducing kind of thing. Earlier recordings exhibit more of a death metal influenced.

Nausea is comprised of founding members Oscar Garcia on guitars and vocals and Eric Castro on drums, and two new members, Leon del Muerte on guitar (Exhumed/Murder Construct) and Alejandro Corredor on bass (Dia de los Muertos). Nausea were kind enough to reply to a few questions that I sent them. Here's what they had to say. 

What will be on the set list?

The setlist includes music from pretty much every release, from "World Downfall" to "Images of Abuse" tracks. We have new songs, but we'll wait to play them until they are ready and released.

What other shows to you have scheduled either before or after MDF?

Right after MDF,  on Wednesday, May 30, we have a show in LA's Black Castle with the mighty Nasum, Landmine Marathon and Early Graves. On  October 27, we go to Mexico City to do a show with our friends in Anarchus. Hopefully next year we can play some summer shows in Europe and a couple East Coast dates.

Will you have any special items for sale at the deathfest?

We have some new cool shirt designs for MDF.

Do you have a special message for your fans?

Thanks for sticking around all this time, GRIND ON!

Check out these Nausea songs! I particularly like the one from the older demo.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

INTERVIEW: Noothgrush packed for a European tour

Before their Saturday appearance at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest, Oakland, California’s Noothgrush will complete a short tour of Europe. Guitarist Russ Kent and drummer Chiyo Nukaga were kind enough to take a few minutes answer some questions before they left the country.

What recording material will you be focusing on for your set list?
RK - A wide range of songs from our discography.

Any new songs?
RK - No, we haven't been writing, just preparing for upcoming shows.

What has been your most memorable show experience?
RK - There's a lot... Tours with Seized and Corrupted were loaded with riotous times.

What are your future plans, such as recording or other projects?
RK - Right now we are just getting back into playing together and doing some of the amazing things we've been offered. We have some riffs and ideas that will (I hope) lead to new songs and ultimately a new record but we're taking one step at a time here.... we're all very busy "adults" now, you know.

Are you doing any other shows either before or after MDF? And if so, where and with whom?
CN - Right before MDF X, we will be on tour with Alderbaran in Europe. (See dates for the Procession to Extinction tour here.) We're also playing on the Southern Lord's Power of the Riff fest on June 21 in San Francisco and June 22 in Santa Cruz, Ca.

RK - We hope to be back on the East Coast later in the Summer for the Southern Lord Festivals but that isn't in stone yet. We will also play the 305 Festival in Miami in July.

Will you have any special or unusual items for sale at MDF?
RK - Yes, in fact, we will! A split 5" with Suppression that was supposed to be released years ago was Finally just pressed by Fuck Yoga and it comes with an actual puzzle. It is completely fucked up! We will also have some new t-shirt designs and vinyl of all the recently released and re-issued items.

Any special greetings for your fans?
RK - Yes! It has been a long time since we played on the East Coast. The interest and support we have gotten from those who love our music after all these years is beyond belief. We are very pleased to be playing again and we are working hard to make sure that you get exactly what you want to hear from us and delivered in an appropriate manner.

What has been your most memorable show experience?
RK - There's a lot... Tours with Seized and Corrupted were loaded with riotous times.

What are your future plans, such as recording or other projects?
RK - Right now we are just getting back into playing together and doing some of the amazing things we've been offered. We have some riffs and ideas that will (I hope) lead to new songs and ultimately a new record but we're taking one step at a time here ... we're all very busy "adults" now, you know.

And anything else you want to add?
See you all at MDF!!! We can't fucking wait! 


Read the previous Metallomusikum profile of Noothgrush here.

What to get your heavy metal mom for Mother's Day

Acid Queen Jewelry
Every mom is special and so her mother’s day gift should be special, too. If your mom is also a metal head, like me, then it’s can be special challenge finding that thing that reflects her interests as well as her style. The obvious gift for the heavy metal woman is the latest recording of her favorite artist, but why not be more creative? Here are five great gifts besides music for the heavy metal momma (or grandma!)

What mom does not love jewelry? You will find a delightful assortment of custom-designed, hand-made earrings and necklaces at Acid Queen Jewelry, located inside Black Mess Records at 3853 Falls Rd, Baltimore MD 21211. Jewelry designer Alex Camacho creates designs using iconic heavy metal imagery: pentagrams, inverted crosses, skulls, stones and bones galore. Custom orders are available. Mention this article for a 10 percent discount.

Some mothers like to cook. Heavy metal mom’s like to cook recipes from their favorite musicians. You will find these in the book Mosh Potatoes: Recipes, Anecdotes, and Mayhem from the Heavyweights of Heavy Metal by Steve Seabury. Seabury’s book is a collection of dishes contributed from some famous and infamous names in metal. Each dish comes with a back story that any metal mamma will want to read while she’s mixing up a batch of Star Cookies from Dave Ellefson of Megadeth, for example.

If mom’s already a great cook but just could use some cooler cooking implements, try this awesome cheese shredder from Gama-Go. She can shred with the best of them on this flying-V guitar shaped metal grater. Gama-go also makes a devil’s horn barbeque turning fork and a guitar shaped spatula. Cooking has never rocked so hard.

For new moms, Mother’s Day is extra special. Help them celebrate their new mommy status with baby clothes, diaper bags, maternity wear and lots more from My Baby Rocks. These items sport logos from bands like Pantera, Motely Crue, the Sex Pistols, Kiss, The Misfits and many others. Why be a mundane new mother when you can be a metal one?

Extend the fun of Mother’s Day from Sunday until Monday night by taking mom out for a few brews a Metal Monday at the Ottobar, 2549 North Howard St., Baltimore 21218. For $9, mom can drink all she can handle and listen to a variety of current and older metal songs from every possible subgenre. You can even challenge mom to a game of pool. You will probably lose.

Have some extra cash and really want to splurge on your mother? Send her on a heavy metal cruise! There are no less than three heavy metal-themed cruises in existence and there are probably more in the works. Check out Barge to Hell (departing Dec. 3, 2012), the Metal Mayhem Cruise (departing Dec 7, 2012) or 70,000 of Metal (departing Jan. 28, 2013). Each ship departs from Miami and cruises through different parts of the Caribbean. These cruises are not cheap. All-inclusive tickets run $1,000 or more. But it will be an experience your metal mom will never forget.