Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CD Review: GHOST TOAST Out Of This World

GHOST TOAST
Out Of This World
Inverse Records
To be released June 7, 2017
I definitely want to hear more from Ghost Toast. I was very impressed by the powerful guitar, strong bass, as well as hard hitting drums. The cello adds a kick ass touch. I thought all of the Out of This World album was well written/composed with the perfect balance of slower tracks and hard hitting heavy tracks. Some of the tracks, such as Last Man, with the bits of speech have somewhat of an end of days feel, which fits well with the music in my opinion. I definitely like the high energy sound Ghost Toast has. -Deanna Revis

Track list:
1. Ka Mai
2. Gordius
3. Alia
4. The Dragon's Tail
5. Minotaur
6. Kaia
7. Last Man
8. Ishvara
9. Pawn of Fate

Video Review: VOID INN I Can Hope

VOID INN
I Can Hope (Official Video)
Butoh performer: Marco Nektan
Director of photography: Jakov Simovic
Editor: Milos Kasalovic
Production: JK Videos
After watching this video I can honestly say I would love to see more from this band. I really liked the way it was done in black and white with only flashes of members of the band. That, in my opinion, was a great way to do a heavy metal video. It gave you somewhat of a feeling of a horror film, but at the same time you just kind of questioned the sanity of the individual. It also seems as if you can feel his pain, suffering, and sadness as it drives him insane. I really like this one because watching the video and listening to the lyrics, I could feel his screams. The strong female vocalist backed by an outstanding band makes this video and sond one I will be sure to recommend. Void Inn formed in 2010. Influenced by Danzig, Megadeth, Metal Church, Metallica,Judas Priest, and more. Members are Jelena Vujanovic-lead vox, Sinisa Pejovic-guitars, Kaspars Gringregs-drums, and Enrique Hanijosa-bass. -Deanna Revis

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Psychic Interview: MARIE BARGAS

Interview with psychic/radio host MARIE BARGAS

I contacted you through author/playwright Tony Sokol who I recently interviewed. How long have you been acquainted and are there any projects you and he have worked on together?
Tony and I should have met in the early 90's. While he was doing Vampire Theatre I was on camera as the first "Vampire Expert" for Entertainment Tonight around the buzz for Coppola's Dracula. When he contacted me for Alt Variety in April 2016, we found that connection and he first used me in a quote for his article on Anne Rice in Den of Geek. Since then we became fast friends since we have so much in common. He has quoted as an expert on the occult and metaphysics in his Den of Geek coverage for such shows as "Penny Dreadful," "Game of Thrones" and "Salem" to name a few. Professionally, we are also a good fit because before I became a Celebrity Psychic I was the PR for a Beverly Hills Couture Accessories Designer off and on for 15 years and specialized in getting clothes on the red carpet with Oscar Winners and Nominees. Both of us have built careers on celebrities and pop culture content, but privately we're both "bats" so to speak and have a simpatico in that respect. Our "incubator" Entertainment 2morrow hatched "Hollywood Tomorrow" which was broadcast last year in November on NBCs EXTRA WEEKEND EDITION. On that broadcast I predicted that Moonlight would win best picture and it did. Tony is my personal "Psychic Whisperer" and has been extremely instrumental in promoting me and keeping me grounded since I'm a triple air sign. Musically, we connect because I am the first wife of Oscar Winning, Emmy winning record producer John King aka King Gizmo of the Dust Brothers. John won the Oscar for scoring FIGHT CLUB and a Grammy for producing Beck's ODELAY. Although I lived and breathed in another area of the music biz, as you know that is a very small fraternity of insiders and I felt safe in getting close to Tony because he's real and raw and I knew he wouldn't use me just for my connections. We're real friends and that is so important to me because I have so few. People try to use me for my contacts and connections all the time. With Tony I'm a respected partner, friend and bestie. In this world full of fakes and users that means a lot.

How much info did you provide on Vampire Theatre when it was featured on Entertainment Tonight?
I didn't cover it all beyond a mention. At the time I think Tony and I actually spoke once or he heard me on the answering machine but we never connected. He dealt with ET in NYC and let them on a merry chase. I think that's why they did the whole segment on me. I was the protégé of Greg Bismark aka RAT BASTARD who was the King of the Goth Scene at the time. We thought of ourselves as aristocrats. Years later Greg was confirmed at the hereditary heir to the title of "Baron Von Bismarck" but for me he will always be Le Barone. He worked at Pan Pipes Magickal Marketplace during the time it was owned by Fairuza Balk. I worked at 20th Century Fox so I was not out of the bat cave, however, Greg took great pride in knowing that I was chosen as the Vampire Expert from castings done on both coasts. Back then I was thinner and gorgeous. Ah ... that's showbiz. In the scene I was "Claudia" to Greg's "Lestat." I believe that Greg was in high position at the Ordo Templi Orientis. I am not at liberty to discuss what kinds of magick he taught me although you can venture to guess. New York was another planet for us or at least for me. Greg was also an actor at the time who had just starred in a horror movie and I was working as an executive assistant to a Vice President at a studio so vampires, magick and entertainment were part of the mix. Greg kept me protected and isolated from the rest of the scene. He took care of me in so many ways. I believe that Greg and Tony could have been counterparts on both coasts. While the wars were raging I was hidden, protected and safe. Today I look back on those days with an appreciation for how protected I was. I never thought I'd meet Tony who is of course your "Armand" because as you know Armand destroys Claudia. Funny how things worked out don't you think? Claudia and Armand are now besties. Last year it was fun connecting with Christopher Rice. He's definitely on our list to interview because of the book and the TV series.

Did you meet Fairuza Balk when she was the owner of Pan Pipes Magickal Marketplace? If you saw The Craft, how accurate was it? Was there more realism or sensationalism? What was the nature of your work with 20th Century Fox?
I met Fairuza Balk in passing during the early days of Pan Pipes. She was friendly, but aloof because of her star status. The Craft was about 50% real and 50% Hollywood, but the interest in witchcraft exploded onto the radar because of it. I love that movie because it brings back so many memories. I was an executive assistant at 20th Century Fox. It was a dream job for this kid right out of film school.

What quote of yours did Tony Sokol borrow when he penned his article on Anne Rice?
"Only the genius of a woman exorcising her own demons could have created a vampire rock star to whom the modern woman would willingly offer her tender throat,” Marie Bargas, aka King, who was the Vampire Expert on Entertainment Tonight in the nineties, said after an impromptu interview. "Akasha's unbridled madness is an aphrodisiac to Lestat until he is figuratively under her feet and he becomes the Shiva in supplication to her Kali."
"Our love affair with the handsome Trickster began with Rice's Vampire Lestat and continues today with Marvel's Loki. Generation after generation, we swoon at the embrace of the bad boy who cannot be reformed, because we know intuitively know that he is better in bed," Bargas told us. "The bite of a vampire and the commingling of pain and pleasure is penetration in a world teeming with limp dicks."
At the time of the interview Tony and I were just getting to know each other and I presume that he published my comments without taking out a single word because they were provocative to say the least. From then on we've had some pretty interesting conversations. As a Kashmir Shaivist and psychic, my love affair with the Dark Lord Shiva, who in my experience is THE Vampire God was reflected in my words. I love God, more deeply and more intensely than any nun in a convent.

How extensive has your research been on Shiva? How much knowledge have you gathered through your research?
Shiva, otherwise known as the "outlaw," is the benevolent Destroyer who is worshiped at midnight in graveyards by his most extremist cults. The long haired muscle bound Lord of Yoga (Yogeshwara), Lord of Tantra, Creator/Preserver/Destroyer has been in my life since day one. I was born on the first day of Navaratri (dedicated to Kali) and came out of a near fatal car accident with a scar in the shape of a crescent moon and a star on my left hand. His favorite consort Kali is a vampire goddess created from the Divine Feminine in order to "suck the life" out of demons in order to protect humanity. In my faith the vampire queen is a savior and redeemer not a monster or an outcast. Kali is celebrated for her capacity to destroy and Shiva adores her because she is fierce. Classic depictions of the pair show Shiva laying prone underneath her feet, but the misinterpretations of this have a decidedly Western, misogynistic viewpoint. I was taught that he is laying underneath Her in order to calm her rage. Magickally, the image is very similar to the diagram of an electric circuit. Shiva is the grounding and Kali is the active energy once grounded that produces light and POWER. Shiva is inactive in this dimension unless and until he is "mounted." And then their sexual union transfers His powers of creation to Her and she returns that Power to him in order to "give him life." But in my view, lacking a penis She penetrates Him with her fangs ... and he loves it. In His form as the wrathful Bhairava He has fangs himself. Together they are a remarkable vampire God and Goddess. Their sexual union because of the intensity of the exchange of energy is palpable and trans-formative every single time. Kali's body is an alchemical vessel that transforms whatever she takes into Herself whether it be the blood of demons or the semen of her consort into something else of Her own creation. The metaphor resonates in the collective unconscious.
In the context of the modern world where men are emasculated by anti-depressants, anxiety and over stimulation by free internet pornography women long for an erection that isn't fueled by Viagra in order to realize their inner Goddesses whether they admit it or not. The Vampire Goddess, Mistress of Time, Lady of Death is the ultimate femme fatale who is the sexual Stepford Wife of the Destroyer ... and yet ... Shiva is faithful, devoted, appreciative and supportive. She is His Equal and He not only loves Her for what She is, He celebrates Her. I have to admit that months after Tony and I had that conversation I left my boyfriend of 8 years and have since moved on to another committed relationship. Tony has that effect on me. He influences me. He's my "Psychic Whisperer."
I'll tell you a funny story. Weeks ago, my current flame who I'll call "Blue" had an out-of-body experience after trying to repair a vape cartridge filled with grade A Sattiva. He's got a prescription of course. After the Sativa saturated his fingers and hands he literally felt himself leave his body. When he woke me up at 3:00 am he was babbling about seeing a tall blue guy in the astral and complaining about a huge unblinking eye in the middle of a vortex in the ceiling of our living room. Blue is not magickal in the least. He has Buddhist leanings, but he grew up Christian. It did not surprise me that he saw Shiva because we have a fully charged black Shiva lingam from Mt. Kailash in the altar in the living room. A lingam in this case is a black stone representing the phallus of Shiva. Admittedly, I worship an erect black dick. Haha. Back to the point ... It was up to me to literally "mount" him and bring him back to reality ... and then I told him ... very gently ... that he had seen a God ... uh huh ... things get pretty damned interesting at my house. Anyway Tony was the first to comment that I've been subliminally calling Shiva to enter "Blue" by giving him that nickname months ago because of his blue eyes. And Tony also reminded me that marijuana is a typical offering to Shiva. Things like that would slip through the crack if I didn't have Tony around.

Have you heard many stories about out of body experiences similar to the account you described above?
I've never heard of an out of body experience happening quite like what happened to Blue. There were several mitigating factors. I work regularly from home so the "portal" to the other dimensions is very accessible. And I have a fully charged black Shiva lingam on the altar. And finally, although cannabis is used in the worship of Shiva the typical way of imbibing it is in a drink made with milk and honey called Bhang. I've never heard of anyone going into trance because of topical exposure, but I guess there's a first time for everything. Please note that we only buy top shelf so I'm sure that the concentration of THC was above average.

Where do you usually shop for the ingredients used in your Shiva rituals? Do you go to local herb shops in the village?
In Los Angeles there is a wealth of East Indian groceries and markets. I also live near Artesia which is a substantial East Indian Community. My prize which is a fully charged Shiva Lingam from Kashmir was purchased from the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple in Tarzana.

Tell the readers about the radio program you’re going to be doing with Tony Sokol, Magick Lab Academy which will air on Spiritualists Online radio. How was it born and what do you plan for it?
By popular demand Magick Lab is shifting gears and focusing on the non-secular mechanics of manifestation, preservation and disintegration with an emphasis on spell work that is fast, easy and brings desired results. Magick Lab is friendly to all spiritual paths based on the premise that there is no “dark” or “white” magick and that all Gods, faiths and practices lead back to one. The bigger purpose of Magick Lab is to unite the community, not separate it based on conflicting ideologies. Magick Lab teaches us that the nature of any magickal work is solely dependent upon the intent, karma and spiritual motivations of the practitioner. The force or the energy itself is neutral.
Likewise, the formulas for manifestation are represented in many paths and many cultures. Magick Lab simply distills these formulas into basic elements that work universally. You do not require an extensive background in the occult or witchcraft. You do not require experience in working with “The Secret.” Since Magick Lab is non-secular you are not required to convert or believe in anything that you don’t believe in, hence the name “Magick Lab” vs. “Goddess … or Temple of …” Magick Lab makes magick accessible to everyone.
Magick Lab is non-secular because the basic formulas for manifestation, preservation and disintegration are present in almost all religions and spiritual paths. But, instead of recognizing the similarities our current society chooses to recognize the differences. This causes separation, strife and war. The purpose of Magick Lab is to strip away the boundaries between each of us so that we can come together as one. In this way Magick Lab strives to encourage peace and unity within the magickal and mystical communities.

Who are the first interviews you featured on SOC Radio? How much information were you able to share with your listeners?
Our first interviewee is an old friend who aside from being a very talented hoodoo man is a rising reality show star. Caiza del Shadeo is a pseudonym. Like me is half-in and out of the broom closet. Our premiere broadcast was in karma because in the "Magick Lab" system is checking the balance of your "karma bank." I teach that karma works like a bank account. Magick demands that we make "withdrawals." If good karma earned equals the amount of the withdrawal then magick is successful and there is no blow back. If good karma is lacking then you can become "overdrawn" which causes spiritual and magickal "late fees" and penalties.
Our second broadcast featured astrologer James David Wade in a discussion of the impact of the Venus Retrograde.
Artist and art curator Lisa Derrick, the ex-wife of Lee Arenberg, guested on our last show with Madame X. The two magickal practitioners, Lisa is (OTO among other things) and Madame X is vampiric had a meeting of the minds. The highlights included readings that I did for both women on two different decks. I have Lisa and Angel Oracle reading and Madame X got a reading from the Vampire Deck. And the readings ignited a discussion of the connection between the Divine Feminine Archetype "Babalon" and the emanations of Shakti, or She with 10,000 Names.

What’s this about a live chat show you will host on the Paranormal News Network?
Chickie Haute approached me to do a live show. I was inspired to do more on camera work because I have found that I connect better with my audience. Interestingly enough our first show exhibited a lot of orb activity I believe because I was under magickal attack. As you can see from the news stories about it the blue diamond for me was SHIVA. Shortly afterwards AMMA came to town and as I was watching her perform a fire ceremony that same blue aura appeared around her which confirmed for me that AMMA is a living saint. My protégé, Kolika Elle Kirk, guested on my second show. Aside from being a very talented witch Kolika is a gourmet chef who owns the Pistachio Bakehouse in Kansas City, Missouri. My plan is to continue to develop her media persona as a Kitchen Witch. I created the FB group "Witchcraft and Wellness" originally for Ed Fitch (author, Magickal Rites from the Crystal Well). Kolika has excelled at being the admin by combining her knowledge of the craft with her practical knowledge of cooking and nutrition. She helped heal her mom of cancer with nutrition!
As you can see, in this part of my life I am fulfilled by empowering young people, most notably witches/wizards who are in the mainstream arts: music, acting and even cooking to name a few. These young people incorporate "magick" with their talents in ways that are palatable for mainstream consumption. I'm very proud of them. They're my "kids.”
Kolika and I have known each other for at least a decade give or take. She is an amazing, powerful little witch. I'm so proud of her. She helped cure her mother from cancer by cooking her super nutritious meals. She was a natural at cooking school. Pistachio Bakery her own business is doing well.

Tell the readers about your work as a medium and how you have grown in this field since you started. How did you first get started as a medium, and how have you been mentored through The Spiritualists Online Circle of Mediums?
I've been a reluctant medium for the past twenty years. I am openly and unashamedly a "chicken shit." In the past couple of years I've matured enough to confront the dead on common ground instead of fleeing at the first sign of phenomena. Through my show at The Spiritualists Online Circle of Mediums I am being mentored which is something that I have needed since day one. These days when I pulled the "Death" tarot card in a reading, it's like the "Bat Signal" and within minutes or hours a spirit will reveal itself to me. The only thing is, I could really use my own sleek black "batmobile" these days. Now that I've said it, let's play a game and see how long it takes for my ghosts to deliver. You hear that guys? I'd be more amenable to being a medium with a black convertible Miata. "So Mote it BE." I began quite unexpectedly after my car accident and scared myself silly for years. Julie is just beginning to mentor me. In the meantime the dead insist on speaking.

What is "The Horsefly Chronicles” and what is your role and history with it? What subject matter is being discussed on the show?
I am the new consultant. In the past few weeks I've uncovered links to UFO's/Annunaki, the fact that the house is near a recorded ley line and the connection between the Ancient Egyptian connections is reinforced by the presence of two pyramids only thirty minutes away.

What predictions have you made in print or on TV that came true? Were these predictions about performing artists, actors or athletes?
I predicted that Kim Kardashian was going to have a meltdown I week before Kanye lost his mind and I predicted that Moonlight was going to win the Best Picture Oscar.

How do you see yourself evolving spiritually and professionally within the next three years? Are those goals within your reach?
Aside from being a celebrity psychic I would like to continue my career path as a producer/writer for TV.


-Dave Wolff

Monday, May 22, 2017

CD Review: HAZE OF SUMMER Znoi

HAZE OF SUMMER
Znoi
Soundage Productions/C.D.M. Records
Available in digital and CD format
One listen to Haze Of Summer’s debut recording Znoi is enough to make a clear point of it being black metal, however there are notable conceptual differences that widen the spectrum of extreme music and cross more boundaries. The first is the collection of band photos are not what you would expect, the next has to do with the overall concept. While most black metal bands use conceptual settings of autumn and winter, Haze O Summer chooses conceptual settings not normally associated with the genre (though I’m sure there are exceptions). The band is based in Podollsk, Russia, a country where presumably there are brutal winters not seen in the U.S. So you would expect vast plains of snow drenched nature, tall and majestic mountains in the distance, and maybe even the cry of a wolf or two. If this is the imagery you’re anticipating, you’re in for a surprise as the harmonious phantasmal guidelines of black metal are turned on their heads. By first impressions the six compositions included on Znoi depict the season of new life when everything is reborn in glory and splendor, continuing through a sweltering summer. I don’t consider this a detriment to the band or their range of view, as we know there are no restrictions on what artists can do with extreme music. I can see where Haze Of Summer may have been coming from during their time spent devising and developing this concept. Znoi have been a logical progression if the band views fall and winter as a period of slumber for the old gods and religions after they were overwhelmed and suppressed. Perhaps Znoi is a narrative representing the cycle of nature in which everything ‘dies’ to return to life in due time. As the age of one god wanes, the age of many returns from the darkness to inherit the light. I’m thinking a bit much of John Boorman’s 1981 movie Excalibur; this is basically what I was reminded of as soon as I was immersed in the experimental rawness here. I found myself wanting to know more about the concept of this opus. I suspect there is much more to this narrative since each song depicting the months has a divergent tone. As the lyrics are printed in Russian I can’t readily describe the complete story, so you’d have to contact the band to know more. All you have until you hear from them is a lyric video for the final track August which has subtitles in English (produced by Good Pictures). This promotional clip is worth checking out alone for its perceptions of nature and the insight the English translation gives you into their concept. The expanse of the Russian landscape hinted at earlier is present, with intimate images and breathtaking shots of the night sky. The song is a fitting conclusion for the album as it calls for one more celebration before autumn appears on the horizon. Writing strings, keyboards and atmospheric sections is nothing new for black metal, but Haze Of Summer figure out how to present those instruments to complement the songs in new ways of their own. Adding spoken word sections and other instruments such as those used in techno pop recordings are elements you wouldn’t expect to work in metal, but Haze Of Summer pull it off surprisingly well. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. March
2. April (feat. Lazar from Arkona)
3. May
4. June
5. July (Anno 2205)
6. August

Saturday, May 20, 2017

EP Review: EPOCH OF UNLIGHT Foreshadows

Independent
Memphis, Tennessee’s Epoch Of Unlight is one of the first U.S. black metal bands and one of the bands who were interviewed for the January, 1997 debut issue of Autoeroticasphyxium. This issue is long out of print along with the next five issues, but other interviews included Curse, Insatanity, Blood Storm, Murder Junkies, Abazagorath, Exhume Distribution and Endemoniada Zine. Drummer and founding member Tino LoSicco (also of local bands Ash of Cedars and Incineration) was on board since day one and represented the band in their interview. Their earliest lineup as a death metal/grindcore band was named Enraptured. A self-titled demo was recorded and released in 1993 before they switched to Requiem a year later. Though nothing was released by the band at that time, they added black metal to their death metal/grindcore roots and became Epoch Of Unlight. E.O.N. released three demos, two EPs and three full lengths besides appearing on a split EP with Goatwhore (during which time they were signed to NY’s The End records), then stuck with gigs in the southern region of the U.S. and working on demo material for the next decade. 2015 saw their new EP Foreshadows which can be streamed at Bandcamp with three older releases (the 1996 EP Within the Night, the 1997 demo Black & Crimson Glory and a demo of the 2001 album Caught In The Unlight). E.O.N. has also kept the same lineup since ‘94 (Lo Sicco, guitarist/vocalist Jason Smith, guitarist John Fortier and bassist Joe Totty); their only lineup change was adding a new lead vocalist in 2016. This is an intense release balancing black metal, thrash, melodic death metal and a bit of traditional metal, with inventive arrangements. Having played together for many years the band is comfortable working together and familiar with each other’s musicianship. And yes the lyrics are at their Bandcamp page. The verses and choruses are kindred in tone to those written by Darkthrone, Immortal and Ancient from 1993-98, being highly descriptive in their darkened tales, while the music provides strong visuals. Wrath Of The Cryomancer instantly drew me into its narrative making me eager to see how it would turn out. This quality of the music and lyrics grows with The Möbius Path (Numerus Bicallis!), Night Hunt and ...Of Feral Eyes. All Light Dies (In The Hyper-Naught) ends the EP on a perfect note. Certainly a triumphant return for the band, and check them out on Youtube as well as Bandcamp. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Wrath of the Cryomancer
2. The Möbius Path (Numerus Bicallis!)
3. Night Hunt
4. ...Of Feral Eyes
5. All Light Dies (in the Hyper-naught)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

CD Review: AFTERMATH Killing The Future

Touting themselves as “one of the original crossover bands of the 1980s,” Aftermath from Chicago, Illinois were active from 1985 to 1996, disbanded and reformed in 2015, I wonder why I hadn’t heard of them in the eighties, but I recently discovered several bands from that era while surfing on Youtube and there are likely many more I was unfamiliar with back then. After reforming they fortunately decided to re-release their debut demos (Demo #1 from 1985 and Killing The Future from 1987) for a new generation of thrashers to release their pent-up frustrations to, under safer conditions than letting it out in the street. During the time they were active Aftermath has refined their old school aggression a few times, forging new avenues for it classified as “proto crossover thrashcore speedcore,” “dark technical progressive experimental thrash metal” and finally “dark progressive experimental thrash.” No matter the incarnation, they remained faithful to their shared vision from their first practice. It remains to be seen how their dedication will pay off thirty years after they got together. At any rate, the re-release of their first two demos on Killing The Future is a blast from the past you’ll want to hear if you appreciate pure in-your-face thrash metal fire. This is not the kind of band you heard of on MTV, they were the band you read about in Metal Forces and other fanzines like Metal Core and Nightmare, corresponding with them through snail mail. Their similarities to D.R.I. and Wehrmacht on the second demo are obvious from the start, as they were recorded when Stateside thrash and hardcore bands began pushing their limits of volume and velocity, and the level of dexterity to which they could take their songwriting. When Will You Die and Meltdown from Killing The Future '87 have breakneck speed, spot on musicianship, precise time changes and relentless vocals. As I listen I also wonder how U.S. thrash metal would have turned out if more bands like this were active and fewer tried to go mainstream. These songs will convince you how far they went to show the talent and ability required to play thrash. The only band active when Aftermath started was S.O.D. but other thrash and thrash-core bands I am reminded of include Cryptic Slaughter, Lethal Aggression, Ludichrist and Carnivore, all bands that took that much needed next step. The songs on Aftermath's 1985 demo (including Sentenced To Death and Revenge) are a little more similar to early thrash/hardcore, slightly less blast than the second demo but the guitars, drums and hardcore elements do much to push them along. I would also recommend checking out Eyes Of Tomorrow, a full length released in 1994. It was recorded in 1988 but it's release was delayed due to financial reasons. Two songs from this album are uploaded at Shadowkingdom Records' official Bandcamp. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. When Will You Die? (Killing The Future, 1987)
2. Going No Place (Killing The Future, 1987)
3. Chaos (Killing The Future, 1987)
4. Meltdown (Killing The Future, 1987)
5. War For Freedom (Killing The Future, 1987)
6. Sentenced To Death (Demo #1, 1985)
7. Revenge (Demo #1, 1985)
8. Shotgun (Demo #1, 1985)
9. The Aftermath (Demo #1, 1985)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

EP Review: OPERA AT THE MASSACRE From The Deepest

Independent
Opera At The Massacre is a melodic death metal-core act founded in Mexico in 2011. Don’t let their postmodern melody fool you, this band is as crushing as any purist death metal band and don’t rely on subtlety to make their point. From The Deepest is their debut EP released in 2016; for an intro and three songs it’s weighty and compelling enough to reflect the adherence to bombast and heaviness generally shared by Mexican underground bands. OATM boasts a female vocalist who readily holds her own alongside her male counterparts from her home country or elsewhere. It would be hard-pressed not to be attentive to her throaty, gravelly growl while attending these tracks; you might even suspect her abilities go beyond many male DM vocalists (excepting accomplished elders such as George Corpsegrinder, Glen Benton or Will Rahmer). If this is still an issue with some genre fans Rubi Rodriguez eradicates any doubt, delivering the most durable vocals I’ve heard from a woman since I listened to Lori Bravo and Nuclear Death on their Wake Me When I’m Dead demo. Taking in what the band brings to From The Deepest indicates why such vocals are needed for it. Firstly the piano intro On The Way for its haunting overtones sounds like it could have been composed for a goth metal or black metal album. Slaves In Agony with its lead harmonies, crunch, groove and aggression, exhibits range of influences conveyed with equal fervor. On this song Rodriguez demonstrates a singing voice as well as an ability to procure a guttural roar. From The Deepest comes together with Reviving The Corpse and The Punishment Of False Suffering, on which their groove/thrash sensibilities are developing agreeably. One drawback is that the Bandcamp uploads of these songs aren’t accompanied by the lyrics, which can be a disappointment to some who need to read along to get the whole package. I will make one concession that this can get in the way when listening to a band. I believe on the other hand that experienced vocalists in extreme music can perfect their diction to match their brutal style. With practice Rodriguez has the potential to develop her approach if people listen closely enough.   -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. On The Way (Intro)
2. Slaves In Agony
3. Reviving The Corpse
4. The Punishment Of False Suffering

Monday, May 15, 2017

CD Review: RUNNING DEATH DressAge

Punishment 18
The earliest moments of DressAge make it apparent that Running Death retained their years growing up with Iron Maiden, particularly from Killers to Powerslave, and even more so growing up with Megadeth from 1986 to 1990. Those bands delivered performances of high energy, energy the German thrashers emulate more than adequately. One might think this is something like how Megadeth would have sounded if they hadn’t made the occasional mainstream friendly effort later in their career. It may be slick, melodic and polished but DressAge is thrash with sufficiently strong ties to its roots, unconcerned whether people find it too excessive, too grating on their nerves. Aside from the fact that no band emerging from Germany can emulate the working class atmosphere Destruction, Sodom and Kreator captured on their demos and early vinyl releases but at least some of it exists in the pounding drums and frenetic guitars here. These elements are as extravagant as you can expect from a band determined to prove that substance overcomes style and passion overcomes hype. One complaint I have from listening is Simon Bihlmayer’s vocals sound too close to Dave Mustaine, and this tends to take me out of it, but the progressions show the band gradually coming into their own. The bio with the digital download said the band bring rock influences into the cuts. When I heard some now and then, they mostly serve to enhance the album’s total aggression rather than diminish it. At the same time, quality thrash metal has always survived on its purism and if a thrash band knows how to write and compose properly, softer rock influences are not needed. Running Death do a fine job proving you don’t have to completely change to grow as a band. Their biggest strength is still in their connection to the early and mid-80s. -Dave Wolff



Track list:
1. Courageous Minds
2. Dressage
3. Delusive Silence
4. Heroes Of The Hour
5. Duty Of Beauty
6. Numbers
7. Beneath The Surface
8. Anthem of Madness
9. Safety Second
10. Refuse To Kill

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Video Review: SPECTRA*paris Star Bubbles

From their new full length "Retromachine Betty" released May 12 (Dependent Records)
Music, Lyrics and Arrangements by Elena Alice Fossi (incl. a fragment taken from Mike Oldfield's "Moonlight Shadow", performed by SPECTRA*paris)
Production and mixing: Elena Alice Fossi, John Fryer and Hal Bergmann
It’s been a while since I followed SPECTRA*paris and I happened across their new promo video by chance, so I decided to discover what my thoughts would be about it. I first discovered the band’s electro-industrial-ambient-goth-pop from a live clip of their song Spectra Murder Show recorded in Sweden in 2009. Contacting vocalist Elena Alice Fossi I listened to various CDs, singles and videos including Spectra Murder Show, Carrie Satan, Dead Models Society and Christmas Ghouls. All these were refreshingly out of the ordinary for their tech-noir themes. The band always displayed a certain proficiency for merging guitars, keyboards and programming into a wall of sound that is both visionary and ominous. As an aside, the same can be said for Fossi’s other projects like Kirlian Camera whose conceptual theme has slight but noticeable differences (check out their cover of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb). Star Bubbles gave me an idea as to where SPECTRA*paris is going conceptually in 2017. An exodus from their previous outings, it still has guitars as an important part of their sound but leans closer to multiple keyboard and electronic tracks. What sets it apart is an ageless vintage feel returning to MTV’s early days with videos from Buggles, Devo, Peter Schilling and Planet P, years before Headbangers’ Ball and Beavis & Butthead. In those days MTV was pushed as music’s next evolutionary step, but unfortunately bands were left behind and videos banned for content for the sake of political correctness. Star Bubbles in contrast represents what MTV would have been without playlist screenings. The imagery is undeniably retro with memorabilia dating to the 50s and the ‘80s, robotic musicians, walls adorned with vinyl albums, quasi-futuristic microphones lit from the inside and androids coming to life. This is part of a larger narrative which, according to Dependent Records, is a time machine traveling back to one’s youthful discovery of music and the lifestyles that embodied them. Fossi becomes a cyber Eve taking you to revisit sampling the forbidden fruits of those times, transforming them into a science fiction film with elements of THX-1138, A Clockwork Orange and The Matrix. Retromachine Betty just came and you can contact the band or their label for ordering information. -Dave Wolff

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fest Organizer Interview: JB MATSON (MARYLAND DOOM FEST)

Interview with JB MATSON (MARYLAND DOOM FEST)

How did you get started as owner and organizer of Maryland Doom Fest?
I have been part of and influenced by the Maryland Doom scene most of my life and have organized several events. I decided it was time to showcase the current, up and coming talent this region has to offer, giving these underground acts exposure as well as the opportunity to share the stage with well-known bands. The outcome of our first fest back in 2015 led me to realize this effort was to continue and grow with each successful event. 2017 will be our third installment. Each fest hosts 35-45 bands over a three day period but we have added a pre-fest show this year, making it four days of doom! 41 bands total this year with only (10) minutes in between each set provides constant listening heaviness.

Who were the first bands of the Maryland doom metal scene you listened to?
I actually grew up in the same neighborhood (Wheaton) as The Obsessed and Asylum (now Unorthodox) but wasn’t really introduced to the doom scene until I moved near Frederick, Maryland and became close friends with the members of Internal Void. Internal Void initially got me addicted to the doom metal scene and the genre as a whole.

What attracted you to Internal Void’s style of doom metal when you met them?
I met those guys while abusing alcohol at some party. When I first heard them play live I knew I had been introduced to the real definition of HEAVY metal. I was hooked on doom from that point forward.

Where can Internal Void’s work be downloaded and purchased? How much material is available from them?
Internal Void has a Facebook page and dozens of videos on Youtube, both of their produced tracks and live footage. They have an expansive discology with the only lineup changes being of their drummer(s).

Which of Internal Void’s Youtube videos would you suggest watching? How many drummers have they worked with and how is their current drummer working out?
Any Internal Void video would be good but my personal favorites are tracks off the Standing On The Sun EP. They have had five drummers total and were not an active band for several years recently. They did however reunite this past summer to play The Maryland Doom Fest 2016, bringing back Eric Little (the original drummer) to play a few songs. I don't want to speak for the band but I believe that was their last and final performance. The Maryland Doom Fest has had multiple bands reunite within their ranks.

How would you rate Standing On The Sun as a doom metal album?
In my personal opinion it is amongst my all-time top 5 doom albums. I have been listening to Internal Void for over 39 years and still slap that CD in regularly.

How big is the local doom metal scene? Do you support it because of insufficient zine and webzine coverage?
The Maryland Doom Fest currently has multiple "followers" on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. We have an information website, www.themarylanddoomfest.com. The doom scene has always been underground unfortunately. Just recently has this scene become somewhat noticed with Sleep, Electric Wizard, and the Black Sabbath reunion(s). There has been an overwhelming amount of doom erupting from Maryland over the decades. I felt the Doom scene needed some well-deserved and overdue exposure.

I have noticed how many doom metal bands are influenced by Black Sabbath to some degree. Why do you think so many are inspired by them?
Two words. Tony Iommi. His guitar sound and riffs are what shaped the future of doom metal in my opinion. Musical influence can influence in many forms but I really believe that both psychedelic classic rock and punk rock (believe it or not) play a huge roll in the doom genre.

Did you catch Black Sabbath’s reunion tour? How do you feel that they’re retiring after over forty years?
I did not catch any of their shows as I have reserved feelings about the whole Bill Ward and Sharon drama. I don't want to get too into that controversy but I'm a huge Bill Ward fan and I think he should have been involved in that tour to some degree.

What roles do you believe punk and psychedelic rock had in shaping doom metal?
When the Maryland doom scene erupted in the 80's, such bands as Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, and Sex Pistols were prevalent and had a huge impact on both musicians and fans during that period.

What punk and psychedelic rock elements have most doom metal bands incorporated?
I think the best example would be the early days of The Obsessed when Vance was their front man. Their live performances were doom metal with a heavy side of punk.

How much do you think doom metal has progressed since The Obsessed and Trouble?
Almost zero. The growth and awareness of doom metal is similar with to watching a cactus grow. That is the primary reason I host The Maryland Doom Fest. People need to know what they've been missing. I can tell you that the musicians that play doom metal have the talent to play any genre but the love for doom is a unique, almost spiritual feeling.

How long have you been organizing events? What events were you involved in before Maryland Doom Fest? How did you go about spreading word?
A majority of the larger events I hosted were benefits for brothers and sisters in the doom community. For promotions, I use several avenues but rely mostly on word of mouth of both current and past patrons. Mark and I still post flyers around the area (in record / music stores and venues) trying to capture those who are not social media friendly.

What inspired you to host a yearly fest after those benefits? When you began booking for Maryland Doom Fest, how many bands were interested in a spot?
The vision was to showcase local underground talent while at the same time giving these bands the opportunity to share the stage with bigger, well known acts and play in front of a large crowd. The same day that I announced the inaugural event, I had an outpouring of bands contacting me to be a part of it. The entire lineup was assembled in less than two weeks’ time. This has quadrupled since 2015. We have not experienced the 2017 fest yet but we have enough bands interested that we could assemble the 2018 lineup right now.

Did it take long to find a venue to host Doom Fest? Did you spread word by passing out fliers or promoting on social media?
Café 611 has been a venue that I had booked multiple other smaller shows at in the past and has been the perfect venue for The Maryland Doom Fest for the past two years and will be the spot for the 2017 fest. I posted a few flyers at local music stores and at a few gigs but primarily relied on social media for promotions. Friends of ours in Norway that come to our fest annually also helped by passing out flyers at the Roadburn Festival in The Netherlands.

Does promoting the fest on social media help bring more fans to your events?
Without a doubt. Social media is our primary promotion tool in conjunction with word of mouth from attendees of prior years' fests. To date I have not seen a negative review of The Maryland Doom Fest (and I hope I didn't just jinx that). Most attendees and fans rave about their experience at our fest.

Are your friends from Norway visiting your fest musicians or fans you correspond with?
They are fans. Huge fans of the scene and what we are accomplishing with our fest. Their enthusiasm shown at our first fest was undeniable and we look to them for their insight and approval. We consider them part of our team for sure.

Describe the pre-fest show you’re putting on to coincide with Doom Fest.
The Pre fest party is a colossal start to a four day weekend of doom consisting of local favorites - Valkyrie as the headliner, Beastmaker from Cali, Pilgrim from Rhode Island, other locals Weed Is Weed & Borracho, Sweet Heat (formerly Balam) and Chicago's Spillage. This is a part of the event not to miss! Weekend Pass holders get into the Pre Fest Party for only $10!!!

Who were some of the bands that reunited to perform at Doom Fest? How well were they received when they played?
Asylum (Unorthodox) - all original members, Outside Truth, Earthride (2017) and Mind’s Eye to name a few. All the bands have had huge receptions. Each of these bands have Facebook pages where you can learn more about them.

How much information does Maryland Doom Fest’s website provide?
Our website is strictly for information regarding the upcoming fest. Merch, lodging, sponsors, lineup, tickets, contact info, etc. We have a Facebook official page that offers much more info in regards to the fest and Maryland Doom in general.

What were the requirements bands had to meet for a spot? Which of the bands that contacted you had the most potential to draw an audience?
All the Maryland Doom Fest bands are selected by myself and my partner Mark Cruikshank. Many of the bands we hire, we are already familiar with. Others send us their music to hear and we choose the bands that have obvious talent.

Who appearing on the fest are you familiar with, and how do you decide which bands are sufficiently talented?
We are familiar with at least 75% of this year’s 42 band roster. Ultimately, Mark and I assemble a list of our personal favorites of bands we are currently fans of, or bands that sent us submissions for possible lineup consideration. Then we narrow the lists down based on this analogy.

Explain what Doom Fest Brew is and how it is made?
It is a dry hopped English IPA with around 6% alcohol content brewed exclusively for our festival by Oliver Brewing Co. in Baltimore, Maryland. We will have both cans and on tap available at all four days of this year’s event. We will be releasing the art for the can labels soon! Everybody must try it.

What gave you the idea to brew your own beer? Did you approach Oliver Brewing Company for production and distribution?
Mark Cruikshank: The story behind getting involved with Oliver Brewing Company is that shortly before the first Doom Fest in 2015. I had gone to see The Sword play in Baltimore. At that show they were selling a beer that Oliver had made as a tribute to The Sword. They named it Winter's Wolves after one of their songs and sold it on tap with commemorative pint glasses. I bought it...it was fantastic. After that I did a little research on the brewery and found out that the head brewmaster there is a big fan of doom metal. Then shortly after the first Doom Fest when JB and I began discussing sponsorships I decided to ask them outright if they'd sponsor us. They said yes and we've been developing our relationship ever since then. In 2016 we sold an Oliver Brewing Company beer on tap at the venue during the show and it went over very well. This year they are brewing a new beer for us and canning it for limited distribution just before and during The Maryland Doom Fest 2017. We will have a special event at the brewery when the beer is ready for release that will include live performances of at least one or two bands that are playing Doom Fest this year. That's it in a nutshell. The beer will be a dry hopped English IPA ... around 6% av.

Would you market Doom Fest Brew on a larger scale or is it exclusively for the fest? Do you know any companies that might be interested in helping market Doom Fest Brew?
Currently it is exclusively for our fest but I would love to see sales grow. It is a fantastic beer! This venture is still in the novice stages but that is definitely the plan. Oliver Brewing is equally excited about our beer and its reviews. This year we will not only have it on tap but also canned. We are super stoked about that! The 2017 beer release event is June 3 at Oliver Brewing Company. It will be a great, family friendly party with local doom band CAVERN playing live. Cavern is also playing at The Maryland Doom Fest 2017!

How did you hook up with Fanny Shamer? Are you seeking to expand your management?
Fanny is a longtime friend and supporter of the local scene. She has experience in hosting some large doom shows such as Cleavage Of Doom and the Jason McCash (The Gates Of Slumber) benefit. She also had roles in the assembly of the infamous SHoD fests. The GoS were a killer doom band from Indy that unfortunately lost their bassist, Jason McCash, in a tragic manner. The benefit was to raise money for the family he left behind was titled True Templar of Doom and was held in 2014. The remaining GoS members continued on under the band name Wretch, who will be playing the Maryland Doom Fest this summer. A couple grand was raised for Jason's widow. Both The Obelisk and Hellride Music covered the event.

Has GOS/Wretch appeared at the Maryland Doom Fest previously or is this summer going to be their debut appearance?
This will be the first time we have had Wretch at the fest and we're super excited. Wretch will be doing Gates of Slumber material as well as new material for us in June. We can’t wait!

What is the S.H.O.D. fest which Sharmer has had a hand in putting together? How did The Stoner Hands of Doom get started, and how much of a crowd did it draw each year?
The Stoner Hands of Doom shows were a doom festival that lasted about a decade. The Maryland Doom Fest is carrying the SHoD torch. Rob and Cheryl Levey started SHoD and kept it going until 2013. It was sadly missed and I started Maryland Doom Fest in 2015. The SHoD crowds were always packed and now the same awesome fans have migrated to The Maryland Doom Fest events.

You hired the Reverend Jim Forrester as official MC. How many events was he involved in before he became the MC for Doom Fest? In what ways does he fit as your official MC?
He's the perfect fit for the job. Perfect personality, and he's well known in the doom scene. Rev Jim has been in multiple bands but is best known for being the bassist in now defunct Sixty Watt Shaman. He is currently the bassist in the rising band - Foghound. The Rev is a unique, charismatic individual. He is one of the nicest people you will ever meet and he has a heart bigger than Texas. When I considered having an MC at our events, Jim was the first guy that popped into my mind. He obliged when I asked him and killed it at Maryland Doom Fest 2016. Don't let the large skull and crossbones tattoo on top of his bald head scare you!

How active was Sixty Watt Shamanabd while Forrester was playing with them? Do they still have material available?
If I'm not mistaken, they toured, opening up for Black Label Society. I believe you can still find their material online although the band is defunct. 
How recently did Foghound get together? Do they plan to release any demos before the year is out?
Foghound has been together for five years, two releases. And they’re currently working on release number three with Frank Marchand. It’s set for a fall release on Ripple Music. EVERYBODY needs to check out Foghound.

Are you considering plans to record a full festival for a DVD release or social media streaming? If you were to decide on this, would you do so with your own equipment or hire professionals?
Currently we record all acts of the fest and they can be viewed individually on YouTube. We have been discussing a DVD since our inaugural year in 2015 but there is a lot of red tape involved with releasing material from forty-plus bands. It's still on our radar however.

Would a CD compilation of the bands from Maryland Doom Fest be on your roster for new projects of the year?
A compilation of the fest has been my desire since year one but has proven to be rather difficult in regards to permissions, royalties, agents, and distribution. It will happen eventually but I’m not sure how soon. However we will still continue to offer all of the footage from the fest on YouTube following the event.

In the years to come would you want Maryland Doom Fest to be a major event similar to Hellfest and Wacken? Is this a goal you will be able to achieve?
The bigger the fest becomes, the more exposure the bands receive. In my attempt to bring awareness to the doom scene, I can only hope that this festival grows and grows! I hope to have the American Roadburn so to speak.

PROMOTIONAL LINKS:
Official website: www.themarylanddoomfest.com
Twitter: @MdDoomFest
Instagram: @marylanddoomfest

-Dave Wolff