Friday, August 3, 2012

Autopsy comic set to drop in time for Halloween

When you think of the pioneering death metal band Autopsy, what comes to mind? Sheer brutality? Crushing riffs? Chris Reifert's frightening ability to sing AND blast beats so fast that no metronome could keep up? That their mosh pit will dismember you? Their performance at this year's Maryland Deathfest was phenomenal. What else do I need to know?

Apparently when reflecting on Oakland, California's death metal godfathers, you also should be thinking: comic books.

Vince Brusio (left) with Chris Reifert at MDF. 
I recently received an announcement from the president and publisher of E-Comix, Vince Brusio, (based in Sykesville, Md.) that come this Halloween 2012 you will be able to possess your very own copy of "Autopsy: Feast For A Funeral." The work will be the company's second self-contained comic book. Imagine finding this in your trick-or-treat bag.

I am not a huge reader or collector of comic books, but the news intrigued me. I had had a KISS comic book back in the day, and I suppose comics and rock do go hand in hand. The announcement went on to say that the company's first title was "Dying Fetus: Supreme Violence." How did I miss this? Dying Fetus has a comic book too? I felt completely out of the loop.

According to Brusio's release, members of Autopsy learned about the comic book project at MDF: "Shown the cover and told the plot for the book at the 10th Anniversary Maryland Deathfest, Autopsy gave the green light for the project, which brings to life their brand of doom in a ferocious full-color nightmare."

Ok, so what's the story about?  "The comic book tells the tale of college kids who make a terrible mistake. One for which they must suffer, and pay in blood,"  Brusio's announcement states."  When they play with stolen property at an impromptu field party, they open a doorway that allows spirits into our material world. A rescue is planned, but none of this is made known to a rival biker gang that doesn't appreciate their turf trampled on by strangers. Seeking vengeance, the gang approach an old abandoned house to wreak havoc on their party crashers, and learn too late that once the door to Hell is opened it can't be closed."

From the comic "Autopsy: Feast for a Funeral"
Wow, the only thing this plot is missing is an adorable talking Great Dane. But seriously, if the gateway to hell is going to be opened by anyone it is going to be the fault of a bunch of hapless college kids who piss off a biker gang. It's just a matter of time.

Where does Autopsy come in? Well, they seem to have served as the inspiration. Read on.

"Autopsy have driven the hearse to bring death metal to the mases since the late 1980s," Vince Brusio remarks. "It was a natural fit to fuse their brand of music with a grisly ghost story. So we took the cover image of Severed Survival, expanded on it, and developed a story that takes place on Halloween night. It’s pretty gory stuff. As it should be.”

Autopsy are reportedly excited to be party to this madness. The announcement quotes Reifert: “It was great to meet and chat with Vince at the Maryland Death Festival. We’re damn excited about this, and know it will be a real killer when it's done!”

E-Comix is a new company founded just this year with the intent of merging music and comics to, as Brusio states, "create self-contained 'done-in-one' books that, in turn, are repurposed for lines of merchandise sold both online and in retail distribution, as well as concert venues.

I hope to lay my hands on a copy of "Autopsy: Feast for a Funeral" at some point and also wish Vince luck in fusing these two still relatively underground media. Let's see some black metal bands represented!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Taurus: the band, not the astrological sign

Stevie Floyd and Ashley Spungin. Photo by Mary Spiro
My astrological sign happens to be Taurus. It is also the astrological sign of the two members of the band Taurus: guitarist Stevie Floyd and drummer Ashley Spungin. Not that it means anything really, it just is what it is. I don't really put much stock in astrology; it's mostly a bunch of bull (pun intended) and should only be viewed as entertainment.

Sun signs aside, last Saturday, my husband (still getting used to saying that) and I made the annoyingly long trek to Empire (formerly Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia to see Taurus. We were primarily there to see Agalloch, of course (more on that in another blog post), but I was curious about Taurus. I am always curious about two-piece bands. How do they make it sound like enough is going on for it to be anything?

Anyway, there are at least three bands out there called Taurus so it took a while to find the right one.  Taurus has only been together a few months, but you may know guitarist Stevie Floyd from her work in another two-piece outfit called Dark Castle. There are many elements of Dark Castle in Taurus, only now the components are shaken down, concentrated and stuffed into a smoking pipe.

Stevie Floyd of Taurus. Photo by Mary Spiro.
Prior to the show, I had a chance to chat with the Aesop Dekker the drummer for Agalloch. He remarked how much fun they'd been having touring with Taurus and that I should find their set "terrifying." The use of the word terrifying was not far off.

I knew Taurus would be something that had to be experienced live. I had listened to their recording on Bandcamp and found it somewhat confusing. What was going on here?

Once the band took the stage, I knew that any recording of this group was going to be a weak facsimile of the living, breathing entity that is a live Taurus performance. From the moment they started, I pretty much could not take my eyes off of them, especially Stevie, whose vocals emanated from some place deep inside of her, like a restless spirit trying desperately to strip off the last bloodied membranes of its mortal coil.  Ashley's relentless and unforgiving beats propelled the riffs unfurling from Stevie's guitar into deadly streamers of doom that spiral down around you and encase you entirely. As they played, a strange film showing images of bleeding sliced pomegranates and exotic characters performing ritualistic actions flickered on the screen behind them.

Now all the music I had heard on the Bandcamp site made sense. The duo executed the recording note for note, beat for beat, including sampled sound clips between each passage. I made sure I picked up a copy of their hand-made EP before I left the club so that I would have something by which to refresh this sensation.

But I must emphasize: Taurus must be experienced live. Listening to the EP in isolation of the context of a performance might leave you feeling flat. Like listening to the soundtrack to a favorite Broadway musical, you will hear the notes and words but you don't really get the full effect until you see the costumes, watch the movement of the actors and feel the drums beating against your chest.

Taurus definitely is not for everyone. But if you listen with open ears and an open mind to their experimental, doomy, sludgey riffs, you may be transported, body and soul, to another dimension without (or with, if you prefer) the use of chemical enhancements. I encourage you to watch a live Taurus performance. You may not love it; but you won't avoid being affected by it.

With the understanding that the recording pales in comparison to the live performance, you can hear the EP Life by Taurus below.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

At last, new music from doom legends Iron Man

Good things come to those who wait and Iron Man fans have waited a year and a half for a new recording from their favorite Maryland doom band. The new EP entitled, att hålla dig över, features four crushing tunes that the band has only just started to perform live. The EP is now available for pre-order from the band's website ( And no, I don't know what the title means either. Google Translate was not able to decipher it.

Calling all of this music "new" is a bit misleading here, since at least one of the songs has been brewing in the mind of guitarist Alfred Morris III for some time. I was particularly excited to see the tune, "On the Mountain," included in this offering. The group has been including this song in their live sets, and it really leaves the crowd charged up.

Another new song "Quicksand,"  was premiered on the Canadian radio show "Crossing Boredom" on CKCU (93.1 FM). Hosts Derek and Jennifer Bradshaw interviewed Iron Man's vocalist Dee Calhoun. Canadians are in love Iron Man. Yeah, I don't understand that either.  But those Canucks went bathsalt crazy for the doom pioneers during their show in May at Mavericks in Ottawa. You can hear the full interview, along with a lot of other cool metal songs and the Bradshaw's adorable Canadian accents here

Other new songs on the EP include "Crucified" and "Suffer the Children." This recording features the band's current line up of Morris on guitar, Louis Strachan on bass, Calhoun on vocals and Jason "Mot" Waldmann on drums. Check out a preview video for the whole EP below. 

The doom metal quartet also has a number of live gigs scheduled for the east coast, beginning this Saturday, Aug. 4 at Wilcom's Inn in Monrovia, MD. Joining them are Against Nature and guitarist Jason Barker, who will be presenting an acoustic set.

Other upcoming Iron Man shows include:

Friday, Aug. 31: The Acheron with War Injun, Earthen Grave and Kin of Ettins. Located at 57 Waterbury Street (Brooklyn), New York, NY. 

Saturday, Sept. 1: Geno's Rock Club where Iron Man and Revelation support the Maine's Orge. Located at 625 Congress Street, Portland, ME.

Sunday Sept. 2: Stoner Hands of Doom, this four-day festival begins Aug. 30 but Iron Man will close the fest on Sunday night. The SHoD fest happens at  El 'N' Gee Club, located at 86 Golden Street, New London, CT. For a complete listing of bands click here