Decibrity Playlist: Aaron Stainthorp​e (My Dying Bride) (Part 1)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, November 8th, 2012

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We’ve been lucky enough to have the likes of Shane Embury, Greg Mackintosh and Anders Nyström tell us about records that related in some way to each of their bands’ studio albums. This time around, Aaron Stainthorpe (that’s him on the far right) combed through My Dying Bride’s discography (including the quintet’s eleventh and latest, A Map Of All Our Failures) to tell us about a record he was listening to while writing/recording each one. As he described, “They have not necessarily influenced the sound of our recording, but they’ve made life in the music world very much worth living and I thank them all for that.”

You can read the first half of Aaron’s picks below while listening along here. We also streamed four songs from Map last month, which you can check out here.

As The Flower Withers (1992) :: Bathory’s Under The Sign Of The Black Mark
This was their third album and a masterpiece, in my opinion, of extreme music. As black as hell and as mean as strangling puppies, it took hold of me and has virtually never been off my playlist since! A bloody classic!

Turn Loose The Swans (1993) :: Celtic Frost’s Into The Pandemonium
With a crossover of gothic/doom and death metal as well as swathes of the avant-garde, the Swiss trio wasn’t afraid to break with tradition on this opus, going against all popular music at the time. It was a huge hit with fans of all things dark.

The Angel And The Dark River (1995) :: Dead Can Dance’s The Serpent’s Egg
I’ve loved this outfit for years and this is still the all-time best for me. It has all the elements you’d expect from them all wrapped up in one very neat bundle. If you don’t own this LP, you have not properly understood music!

Like Gods Of The Sun (1996) :: Candlemass’s Nightfall
THE greatest doom LP of all time. A classic and without doubt an influence on me both musically and personally and with hand on heart I can admit that I don’t think My Dying Bride would be here today if this record didn’t exist!

34.788%…Complete (1998) :: Swans’ White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity
It’s abstract, noisy, weird and beautiful and I love it to death. Gira has an amazing voice and his provocative delivery and twisted lyrics blend perfectly with the layers of cascading music that make up such a passionate LP.

*Stay tuned for the second half of Aaron’s picks next week!

**Order a copy of A Map Of All Our Failures here.

***We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:

Early Graves
All That Remains
Bison B.C.
A Life Once Lost
Fight Amp
Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander)
Vision of Disorder
Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Rush (Part 1) (Part 2)
Shadows Fall
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Meshuggah
Barren Earth
Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)

v.03/170 (Farsot) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Wednesday, November 7th, 2012


How instrumental was the faux-documentary/film The Hellstrom Chronicle to the making of Insects?
v.03/170: The film wasn’t that essential on our musical concept, but it surely influenced the overall lyrical concept on Insects. Its abysmal mood and the menacing close-ups of actually small creatures give a special kind of impression which helped to form pictures in mind about a matter which is relatively unusual reason for a threat. But threatening is fear and can release existential fears. And this is essential for our lyrics and music at all.

Was Insects first framed with music or did the lyrical direction come first? Curious which informed which as it pertains to the album.
v.03/170: For Insects we started—in difference to IIII—with writing the music. But in early process we started to develop a thematic carpet, to have a hint what the music should sound like. We intended to get some apocalyptic atmosphere, which could be combined with different lyrical themes. The one it finally became rose, out of the nearly finished instrumental structures.

I think Insects is a massive improvement over IIII. It’s more nuanced. The music has impact. Did you seek to improve or was it evolution of skill taking place?
v.03/170: Well, that’s not that easy to say. As a musician you will always try to improve your skills. But it’s not just about forthcoming in handling your instrument, but also the further development of mind. So during the writing process of Insects our musical taste has widen a lot which is a huge influence on everyone’s contribution to this album. So mental evolution is what makes us go ahead. Everything else would be stagnation.

The riffs on Insects are massive. It’s sort of the perfect storm of cool/different riffs, the right tones, and riff placement. I gather special attention was made to riffs, guitar tones, and dynamics.
v.03/170: Do you play the guitar yourself? [Laughs] Everyone who talked to us noticed different advancements. Be it drums, bass, vocals or even guitars. So, I suppose with a closer look on each instrument itself you will see that there was an overall improvement of every single part and in unity of course. The band itself got stronger by growing together.

How important are theme repetition, contrast, and control to Farsot’s music making?
v.03/170: The elements you mention are all essential for our music. The squeamish application and aimed placement are an indispensable part of our tracks. The weighting is more intuitive than calculated, but at all each of those elements needs the other ones to unfurl its full effect. Just for example: with a silence before, a loud part seems much louder.

I feel like Insects is near-perfectly edited. Was there a lot of trim work during the compositional phase?
v.03/170: It has more than one cause that the successor of IIII needed about four years to be released. We’re very self-critical about our work and just want to release an album when we’re really convinced about it. So, there’s a permanent reviewing of the songs, we’ve tested many of them live-suitability before recording and that includes a permanent reviewing and changing of structures or even the trim work you mentioned. So, the short and only answer can be: Yes!

I really like how the album progresses as a collection of songs. It can (and should) be experienced as a whole or as individual songs. “The Vermilion Trail”, “Empyrean”, and “Like Flakes of Rust” could be representative of Insects as standalone tracks. Can you comment on album progression and individual song diversity?
v.03/170: Our first thought when writing an album is the flow of all songs and some kind of continuous thread running through. But this time, different to its predecessor, the songs of Insects weren’t meant as a single song with some splitting markers between. Each song should stand for itself and should have a unique character, a different musical proposition, but at the end when listened to in combination the borders should melt and the album should be recognized as a unit.

I hear a lot of Mayhem (vocals) and Enslaved (rhythms, chord progressions) on Insects. Were certain songs meant to play homage to the Norwegians or happy accidents? I’m referring directly to “Perdition” and “Empyrean”, respectively.
v.03/170: It’s a big compliment to be compared with such great artists like Mayhem and Enslaved, but the parallels happened more or less by chance. We won’t ever deny the influence those artists had to our musical taste and maybe also into our play itself, but we’re no cover band and also don’t try to copy riffs or even complete passages consciously. But if during writing process of a song some part sounds like being in the veins of some greater act and fits perfectly to our concept, we surely won’t force avoiding the parallels. We will more try to give it a suit which fits to our sound.

Two of the album’s standout tracks are instrumentals: “7” and “Somnolent”. Are they meant to be eyes of the storm, so to speak? “7”, in particular, is wonderfully tranquil, which, in many respects, is opposed to the caustic approach of its direct neighbors.
v.03/170: There’re many ways to interpret the meaning of those instrumental parts. The one you speak about is just one. Stay open for more possibilities—maybe in the context of the lyrics… Who knows?

The ending to “The Vermilion Trail” is brilliant. The theme/riff repetition/alternating percussive patterns, the Hellstrom narration clip and then the bass-heavy noise coda have an apocalyptic aura to them. That you segue “The Vermilion Trail” into the monolithic front-piece to “Withdrawl” is goddamn icing on the sonic cake.
v.03/170: Well… Thanks. The end of “The Vermilion Trail” used to be completely different to what it’s now. It was one of the first tracks that was completed, but the end was always an unloved child, which we were never really happy about. It had some ‘Satyriconesque’ riffing and wouldn’t fit to the rest of the album. But we recorded it on our first studio sessions. When we came back to finish the recordings, we told the engineer to throw away the end and we played a loop of the rocking part instead and gave him the droning samples, etc. He looked at us with huge eyes and asked us if we were really sure about that. What you tell us here shows up. That it was the right decision.

What do you want people to take away from listening to Insects?
v.03/170: At first, we want everybody to take a time-out from life, daily routine and thoughts. Man shall realize that there’s different things than just hurrying from one date to the next. One should take time to dive into a deep complex matter, which doesn’t just have to consist in material ways. On the other hand he should always be aware of thinking to be the main species on this planet. There’s always something that’s bigger and mightier than oneself. That’s not to [be] interpreted in some religious or spiritual way.

A friend of mine commented on the production. Actually, how great it is. It’s warm, dense, yet there’s a surprising amount of clarity. Compared to IIII, it’s is huge step forward. What went into the recording, mixing, and mastering? Did you have “example” recordings for reference points?
v.03/170: You may understand this as a caesura to IIII, whose production was cold and clear with a kind of mystical density. We’ve gone a step away from the black metal typical type of sound, so in music as well as in the way to represent it. We had a clear view in mind to keep it dry and direct, no distant instruments or vocals—a more intimate atmosphere, but still with the ability to lose oneself within the music. There were no examples at all, but we knew the previous works of our engineer, Markus Stock, and with a bit of own experience in recording we got a result which we’re pleased with.

It seems like Farsot thrives on minimalism. From the obscure band photos to the sparse text inside IIII and Insects is the band more from the ‘music do the talking’ school or is it a reaction to the overabundance of hyperbole in metal? Black metal, in particular.
v.03/170: Maybe it’s a bit of both. We want that people first listen to music. We want to show them, that individuals don’t count in our band, but the band at all as a unit. We never dealt with signs, cliches, big meanings or occult spiritualism. We leave that up to others, who are really in that matter. We’re definitely too reasonable for such themes.

It’s my personal opinion that while Farsot borrows elements of forebears—some more noticeable than others—you’ve crafted the quintessential black metal album. Maybe the most important black metal album in the last 10 years. It pretends nothing. Rather, it portends only what the listener is able to conjure during and after exposure. That’s dastardly evil, right there.
v.03/170: Thanks a lot. I suppose, it’s not a secret but almost forgotten, that there’s much power in imagination which we unlearn to use more and more. Watching a movie presents us everything clear to screen, but reading a book can build worlds in your head and lets you forget that there are letters. Maybe that’s a step back which we shouldn’t miss to take—whether in the world of written word neither in music. Just trying to leave the mind blank that there’s room for recreation.

** Visit and like Farsot on Facebook.

STREAMING: Troubled Horse: “Another Man’s Name”

By: adem Posted in: featured, heavy tuesdays, listen On: Tuesday, November 6th, 2012


We offer this as more of a geographic reference than a musical one, but if you’re curious about the origins of Troubled Horse, you need look no further than the the same Swedish town, Orebro, that spawned both Graveyard and Witchcraft, who coincidentally have new albums just out or on the way. The Witchcraft connection actually is even a little more pertinent as Troubled Horse features three members of the original Witchraft line-up, one of which (bassist Ola Henriksson) is still a current member.

But Troubled Horse is its own beast, so to speak. Like the above-mentioned acts, there is a heavy retro vibe to the band’s Metal Blade/Rise Above debut, Step Inside, which is slated for a November 19 release. However, while they may share a member with Witchcraft, their musical aesthetic is more akin to the garage-rock and ’70s-inspired hard rock stylings of Graveyard. Influences-wise we’re talking the early stuff like Pentagram, Sir Lord Baltimore, MC5 or Dust. It’s all about nonstop grooves, bluesy riffs and a frantic rhythm section. Nicke Anderssson probably loves this band.

And so do we, though as far as extremely extreme music goes, Troubled Horse are on the less extreme end of the spectrum. But, man, do they have great songs. Step Inside is loaded with track after track of classic-sounding hard rock, each with a killer chorus. Case in point, is this dandy little number, “Another Mans Name,” which we are premiering for you today.

You can hear another track, the first single, “One Step Closer to My Grave,” and also pre-order Step Inside here.

Look What I Did…In Prison

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, November 6th, 2012


The long-awaited follow-up to Look What I Did’s fantastic 2010 everything-and-the-kitchen-sink kaleidoscope of smart-as-fuck chaos metal Atlas Drugged is nearly upon us and if the below exclusive stream from the larger “epic rock opera” entitled Zanzibar III is any indication these Nashville boys continue to raise virtually every aspect of their game — musical, lyrical conceptual. And that truly is saying something.

“In this episode-slash-song, the protagonist of the opera, the centaur Sebastian, is locked away in Zanzibar’s jail, plotting his escape,” vocalist Barry Donegan says. “We have recently made arrangements with an indie label to release Zanzibar III on vinyl. Expect specific release details in the coming weeks.

A more in-depth explanation of the track is available here. Friend these dudes on Facebook and check out some of their hot video accompaniment over at YouTube.

EXCLUSIVE STREAM | Maveth “Hymn to Azael”

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, November 5th, 2012


According to those gentle, God-fearin’ souls at, Maveth—transliterated from Old Testament Hebrew and translated into English—is defined as: “death, dying, Death (personified), realm of the dead; death; death by violence (as a penalty); state of death, place of death” . . . And my, how that is apt, because Finland’s Maveth are pretty much the epitome of death metal.

That’s a bold claim, but don’t just take our word for it. Thanks to Dark Descent Records, you can judge for yourselves, just click below to preview the faith-warping “Hymn to Azael”, taken from and typical of the zero-light death metal found on Finn’s forthcoming debut album, Coils of the Black Earth. It is a head-spinning, disorientating, bleak, monochrome, sulfurous anti-hymn; the sort of track you’d demand of a band fronted by a dude who calls himself Christbutcher and plays old-school death metal in the Stockholmer-esque Cryptborn, too.

Coils of the Back Earth is released right in middle of Advent, December 15th, presumably in an attempt to spoil the mood in the run-up to Jesus’ birthday; but come on, let’s enter into the spirit of things: it’ll make the ideal Christmas gift for the death-head in your family. It’s available on black or splattered vinyl, and CD. It’s kind of a bummer that it didn’t come out sooner—like Incantation’s similarly blasphemous and awesome Vanquish in Vengeance, Coils of the Black Earth runs the risk of missing out on Album of the Year Lists, etc. when it should be trumpeted from on high as one of the most exciting death metal debuts of this or any other year.

Coils . . . is old-school, kinda echoing the sort of atmosphere that fellow Finns Demigod made a career of. But it’s more than just an hour-long throwback to 1992. Some have described Maveth as blackened death metal, and those of you familiar with Of Serpent and Shadow or and Impious Servant might agree. You can check out a few mp3s here.

You can (should) pre-order Coils of the Black Earth HERE. Whether you hear them as blackened-death, straight-up old-school death metal or whatever, Maveth are 100% guaranteed to repel carol singers, Mariah Carey, and all that miscellaneous goodwill to all men bullshit that makes the Holiday season such a drag.

Maveth on Facebook
Dark Descent Records

Coils of the Black Earth cover art by Daniel Desecrator

Subscribe to Decibel for the Exclusive AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED Flexi Disc!

By: mr ed Posted in: featured, flexi disc On: Monday, November 5th, 2012


Last year, we waged war on Christmas with possibly our most infamous flexi disc to date: Agoraphobic Nosebleed‘s 11-tracks-in-four-minutes Make a Joyful Noise. Well, the unkind grinders are back to stuff your frozen corpse with even more holiday cheer! For their second-annual Decibel holiday flexi, ANb have concentrated all their good tidings into one epic, brand new wood-chipping blast: future caroling classic “Merry Chrysrmeth.”

Arriving on festive green-on-white plastic and featuring the demented talents of Scott Hull (Pig Destroyer), Richard Johnson (Drugs of Faith), Katherine Katz (ex-Salome) and Jay Randall, “Merry Chrystmeth” will be available exclusively to subscribers. So, ensure that your subscription begins with Santa’s wrath by signing up before 9 a.m. EST this Wednesday. Strictly for the naughty; nice need not apply.

STREAMING: General Surgery “Like An Ever Flying Limb”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, November 5th, 2012


The quote, “This is a good place to start where we left off”, seems appropriate for death metal outfit General Surgery. The first new material since 2009′s Corpus In Extremis: Analysing Necrocriticism effort, Like An Ever Flying Limb—yes, that’s a nod to Hall of Famers Dismember—follows in the gory, early Carcass-like footsteps of General Surgery’s previous output, and there’s little to complain about.

Sure, we are still stump deep in the group’s recent “binders full of death metal and goregrind” in the shape of A Collection of Deprivation, but new material from the Swedes is always welcome, especially considering they’re not the most prolific outfit to come out of land of ice and snus. So, with five tracks spanning a total of 11 blood-splattering minutes Like An Ever Flying Limb is naturally comfy on an old-school gatefold 7″ davenport (1000 copies on orange; 100 on clear) not housed on some silly polycarbonate plastic disc. Sorry, CD folks. Unless Relapse Records is fucking with us, which is entirely possible given their history of chicanery.

OK, time to dial up the desktop speakers and drown your daytime worries to General Surgery. Oh, and one more thing. Like General Surgery on Facebook. They actually post stuff.

** General Surgery’s Like An Ever Flying Limb is a kick-ass 7″ that’s available 11/7/2012 through Relapse Records. It’s orderable HERE. Or, you can see what that Carcass after-project, Blackstar, was like. The former is the better option.

For Those About to Squawk: Waldo’s Pecks of the Week

By: andrew Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Friday, November 2nd, 2012


Howdy ho, your boy Waldo here with all the shit that’s set to spew.

Rarities, remixes and covers, OH MY! ISIS are releasing Temporal, a posthumous collection that contains unreleased demos, remixes and some videos. This is the type of thing that really appeals to fans only. Spanning their 13-year career, this isn’t a good starting point for new fans, but more of a stab at nostalgia. It’s 14 songs, and five videos, and is a pretty cool collection if you like this sort of thing. From Mosquito Control to Wavering Radiant, there’s a little bit of everything, so it more than likely won’t disappoint fans of the band. It’s pretty hard to review this sort of thing because it’s not really new material. Nothing too crazy or mind-blowing, but nothing that shows a glaring lack of judgment on the part of the band. I dunno, uhhh… 5 FUCKING PECKS.

obi wan

The medical masters of mayhem are back at it with with a five-song EP to remind you that they still worship Carcass. GENERAL SURGERY throw Like an Ever Flying Limb into a meat grinder and spit it your “general” direction. This had to be recorded in a morgue; it’s got an echo-y quality that can only be the natural reverb of a room once filled with corpses. Starting out with a fast-paced grinder, this opens fierce and doesn’t let go in it’s 11 minutes of pure, unadulterated gore. This is a bloody mix of Swedish death and goregrind, and reminds you of that constantly. My only question: Why just an EP? Hopefully it’s a brief stepping point, one to remind you that they are still around and are continuing. Kudos. 7 FUCKING PECKS.

DRAGGED INTO SUNLIGHT take crust, sludge, death and some twisted version of psych, toss it into a blender and bring us Widowmaker. This has all kinds of stuff, and yet doesn’t come across genre-hopping. There’s some downright creepy moments on this, but it still maintains a nasty noise. Part 1 has a haunting guitar solo, recorded at a snail’s pace, but is still brutal. These tracks meander, but with a point; even when it’s slow, there are moments in the background that continue to hold the listener’s attention. This is beaking heavy, and you can tell these dudes are pissed. If this sounds interesting to you, it should be–this band is treading some bold waters, but they pull it off effortlessly and pummel your beak in the dirt. Check it out. 9 FUCKING PECKS.

My old-school peck is actually being re-released. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY re-release Eye for an Eye, and they needed to. This and the attached Six Songs With Mike Singing have been out of print forever; check this punk, crust and sometimes metal hodgepodge of crossover greatness.

Mitch Lucker: 1984-2012

By: Posted in: featured, RIP On: Friday, November 2nd, 2012


Suicide Silence seemingly started playing shows out of the blue, and quickly ascended to headliner status and gigantic tours. In 2007, I saw them lugging gear outside of a small club as they prepared to open early in the evening for Nile. In 2009, they had moved up the ladder and were second on the bill at the Carcass reunion gig. Many of the younger fans went batshit crazy when Lucker took the stage.

Things never slowed down. In 2011, I interviewed Lucker for another outlet as the band was cusped on mainstream success with their album The Black Crown. It almost cracked Billboard‘s Top 25 the week it was released. We talked about his struggles with an anxiety disorder, getting a million fans on Facebook (they’ve since added a million more and change) and critics of the band. He was frequently distracted by his unruly dog. He’d been on the road since 2003, and you could tell that it wasn’t always the easiest life, even if you’d grown up on the bus.

Lucker died Thursday morning after a motorcycle accident on Halloween. He was only 28 and a young father. He doubtless had many more tour miles and records in his future.

Metal fans tend to segregate into fiefdoms and tribes. We’re picky and opinionated, and often don’t know what to do when a band becomes a household name. But a loss in the extended family is still a loss. While I never got into Suicide Silence’s music, I will always give it up for someone willing to give up stability and–in many cases–their health to go on the road and entertain fans of often marginalized music. Lucker banged his head and whirled his neck so much that he was in chronic pain and frequently referred to surgeons. That’s commitment.

I talked to a friend once after a death, and he relayed a story he heard from Buddhist teachings. The essence: a student asks his teacher what he wishes for him and the teacher replies: “Parents die. You die. Your children die.” When the student seems aghast, the teacher reminds him that if these things happen, it means life has progressed as it should. Lucker’s passing leaves a young daughter without a father, parents without a son. All the best to his family and friends in these challenging times ahead. Rest in peace and safe travels, Mitch.

Share your condolences with the band here.

*photo by Jeremy Saffer

Autumn Screams Doom Recap – Sidebar Tavern, Baltimore – October 26 +27

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, live reviews On: Friday, November 2nd, 2012

ASD cover pic

This year’s pre-Halloween weekend marked the beginning of (hopefully) a new Baltimore tradition:  the Autumn Screams Doom two-day festival.  As coordinator/originator Dan Petruccelli tells it, he hopes ASD will “bring old school doom and new school doom together.  There’s so much each one brings.”  He noted the periodic fluctuation of the audience’s mean age as newer bands traded stage time with longer-running projects.  His intention is to introduce each fan base to the other valid and vibrant art form in the hopes of creating a more multifaceted doom community.

As an inaugural outing, ASD1 was a curious and rather humble beginning.  The drive to Baltimore was sunny and riotous with the fall colors that lined the highways; very little of those surroundings screamed much about doom at all.  The show itself was plagued by cancellations and tucked into a east Baltimore hardcore hole in the wall called the Sidebar Tavern, and on Saturday night there was a vegan food cart selling chili cheese dogs that included no actual chili, cheese, or anything recognizable as a hot dog.  That said, the results were pretty damn tasty and the dude did a booming business.  The Sidebar offered a comfortable, supporting-the-scene feel to the proceedings, and the bands were all happily approachable and duly enthused about their part in the weekend.  These are their stories.


Few are the bands that can maintain high levels of badassery once the cowbell and tambourine come out, and Foghound are not one of the few.  Raucous and stoner-y, their introductory set was the first slip sideways in a weekend that proclaimed doominess but often leaned in other directions.  I got a chance to talk to the band members throughout the evening, and I enjoyed their increasing drunkenness as Geoff periodically reintroduced me to Chuck on four separate occasions.  Oh, and thanks lots for the Strongbow – a drink I wouldn’t have bought myself but totally dug in the moment.


Washington, DC’s Ilsa played slower and more fucked up than Foghound, but it didn’t feel like doom so much as Why-the-fuck-is-there-an-audience-for-my-metal-disintegration music.  Ilsa unequivocally ruled the nine o’clock hour with slicing feedback, wicked layers of distortion and granite-drilling vocals all played at head-grinding volume.  I had not listened to Ilsa’s albums before.  I assure you that will change.


The women of Brooklyn trio Mortals delivered their punk-shot black maelstrom with brutal earnest, with neither guitarist having near as much fun as drummer Caryn Havlik, whose hair whipped about as wildly as her tireless arms.  The denim draped over Inquisition and Midnight t-shirts absolutely set the tone for a rather undoomy but suitably harsh set.


Borracho blazed up from the District to bring the thickening crowd a taste of their psychelicious swamp-sexy blues thud.  The buzz word for the next 40 minutes was Groove (and “buzz,” I suppose).  After the set, one of the dudes confessed a concern about such a laidback sound following the last couple bands:  “You can’t make love to that stuff!”  The vox were cool but unnecessary; kickin’ it to that sweet melodic riffitude was all the audience could have wanted.


Massachusetts trio Elder shoved the 70s hard rock influences front and center, with their head-nodding jams and sonorous guitar leads and solos.  Their songs connected harder and the guitar work blossomed in prettier patterns that we had heard all evening.  While the band was not slated to close out the first of ASD’s two nights, they certainly deserved the spot.

 Saturday evening set a far more appropriate scene, with pre-Sandy cloud cover suffocating the sky with such uniform density that the gibbous moon was a muted spectre in all that bleak iron gray.  Swamphog led off the evening with some oldster bass riff rock.  I’ll let you check out Urban Dictionary for a dicey definition of the band’s moniker, since my own inner censor won’t allow me to type it here.  A minor equipment issue shortened their set a bit, but neither the band nor the still-sober attendees seemed to mind.


Wizard Eye’s guitarist Erik exhibited both dreads and hot lickology all the way down to the floor, and the whole stoner sludge routine filled the bar with phantom weed tokes and hints of mellow trips to come.  The band proved to be equally adept at throwing open the throttle and raging wicked fast as the set progressed.  Erik’s theremin work added a fourth dimension (and a third eye) to the music.  At this point in the evening, I worried that I had heard the best the weekend would offer.  While I wasn’t entirely wrong, I’m glad I stuck around for more.


As the eighth band of the weekend, Baltimore hometown boys Oak were the first seriously doomy band of the bunch.  Lingering, lumbering Richter-ready chords and death-croak vocals tore into the night, rearranging faces and the evening’s expectations.  Had the evening continued in such a horrific vein, the Sidebar would have been the epicenter of a new system of caverns bored musically through Baltimore’s underground.  To my mild disappointment, it did not.


Appearing after the convincing Oak were recently de-drummed Eerie from New Hampshire.  Without a percussionist to anchor the scene, Eerie existed as a Spinal Tap-like line-up of four guitarists, all of them long-locked and goateed and three of them shirtless, keeping moderately successful time with an unhurried drum machine and each other.  It was a minor rock ‘n’ roll nightmare that never quite relented until the set was over.  Slow, heavy… next.


Throughout the weekend I spotted several Windhand tees, which made me wonder what I was missing.  When the band took their places during the back half of Saturday night, I found out.  The Richmond, VA quintet laid down that female-fronted mystical occult shit, all thick and burly.  Anybody into that scene would have rolled in it; Windhand have serious game, and they go for the throat with every riff attack.


After two nights of loud basement bar entertainment, I wasn’t sure I had the stamina for another pair of bands, but War Injun rolled in at just the right time.  They played the show without their vocalist, which they constantly apologized for but needn’t have done so.  While repetition and doom are inseparable bedfellows, War Injun shift musical thoughts every few measures to keep their riffs from going stale.  They revved up a two-guitar assault like the frowniest biker gang there ever was, with drummer J.B. Matson pounding the kit like it was an ornery Glen Danzig effigy.  Their brand of chunky doom was soul-pleasing and neck-fatiguing.


Last up… fucking Revelation, man.  The visual presentation merited attention all on its own:  bassist Bert Hall, Jr. wielding an instrument designed to actually look like a real axe, and guitarist/vocalist John Brenner wearing a shirt with a picture of a dude playing guitar on it!  As the kids would say:  “Woah… Inception!”  Revelation wrapped the weekend by blurring all the lines we had walked through a dozen sets; everything is both rock groove and doom crawl, nothing is exclusively one or the other… In fact, maybe this is the lesson we were meant to learn.  After decades of genre subdivisions and nitpicky differentiation, the piano man was right all along:  it’s still rock and roll to us.