Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Black Tar Prophet, Crawl (GA), Brother Ares, Sovereign at Springwater 12/8/12

Alright, now that this semester's ass has been properly kicked (3.7 GPA for the term, bitches!), it's time to get back into the swing of things and actually post some updates.

First, a quick recap/apology. After venturing out to the Owl Farm on a Thursday and then going to Bobbaroo on the Saturday afterwards, I went to see Brother Ares, Clorange, Bell Witch, and Loss at The End the Monday after. I'm sorry I didn't get a full writeup done, but after seeing 14 bands/3 shows in 5 days, my brain was worn out. I told it to come up with something clever and interesting to write, and it came back with "meh." So here's a quick recap:
-Brother Ares ruled. More on these guys later.
-Clorange have a new lineup! Drummer Colin is now in an instrumental prog group Montezuma Fire Machine, whom you should definitely check out. I'm not sure what happened with the other guitarist or bassist, but things seem amicable between former and current band members from what I can tell. New bassist Brian Jones fits the bill nicely, and drummer Derek Martin (formerly of Whitechapel, interestingly enough) rounds out the sound. Stream their brand new album Instinct here, and be sure to pick up hard copy at a show. The artwork looks rad.
-Bell Witch are a pair of bros with the most ridiculous dreadlocks I have ever seen. The bassist's are ankle-length. The duo play some incredibly heavy doom metal, with the drummer growling into the mic while the bassist fingered his 6-string bass. Check out their brand new record here.
-Loss are local heavyweight death doomers. These guys are starting to blow up huge; they're even playing Maryland Deathfest next year. I know bassist Jon Anderson better as "Ichabod" from his days as a local DJ on his late-night metal radio show "Out Ov the Coffin." Guy has good taste, and though I'm not 100% sold on funeral doom, they killed it. Stream their stuff here.

Finally! Glad I got that off my chest. Now on to the reviews of the current show. First off, let me say for how shitty it is, Springwater can actually be kind of cozy. It's a bit smaller than a lot of venues, but I actually happen to like that about it, especially for doom: with a smaller area, you get more of a "crushing" effect from the low end. This is especially important for the first act of the night, Black Tar Prophet. These guys have had a bit of a shakeup as well. Erik from doomigos Archrduid was recruited to play drums in September, and guitarist Mark left the band midway through October, though he has recently posted online that he will be coming back in 2013. This left Greg on a (3-string) bass (complete with new pickups made by Alex from Clorange), Erik on drums, and an impressive speaker setup.
These guys are becoming a staple of Nashville doom. Despite musical chairs on who plays what, they've somehow managed to retain the same simple but effective grooving and crushing recipe for no frills, no bullshit doom metal. The rumble from the pair of shoulder-high was definitely palpable; I felt it in in my skin as much as my ears. They played slow and loose, sounding like Electric Wizard, Sleep, Om, and even High on Fire stripped down to the the most basic level. Elemental doom metal: doom in its quintessence. Doom straight, no chaser. Skeletal doom. If you're sick of reading these crappy descriptions, listen for yourself right here!

Crawl are newcomers from Atlanta, GA. And when I say "new" I mean they've been in other bands, but they just played their first show at the end of November. You wouldn't know it from their playing though, as these guys kick ass.

Bassist Tyler Akers made it hard to get a clear picture

Sonically, they hit you like a vat of warm gravy. Their sound oozes over you and you love every goopy minute of it. Eric Crowe's guitar sounds like chewing gravel, and Tyler's bass playing is the asphalt chaser, all while keeping the molasses-choked groove alive. Interesting story about the bass position, they were having trouble finding a someone to fill the spot. After not having much luck, they asked me, but I gratefully declined since I'm still working on my undergraduate degree and not ready to move to Atlanta. I'm not sure how many bass players they went through, I heard they at one point had an ex-member of Malevolent Creation (!!), they settled on Tyler Akers. What a good choice! This guy can not only play, but his bobbing and weaving and nearly hitting me in the face with his headstock adds a lot of stage presence to the band. Eric's main vocal style is similar to Mastodon's or Black Tusk's, and really fits the style. There were times that he went for a higher pitched scream that I thought sounded a bit pinched and maybe a little forced at first, but didn't bother me overly much. Their overall sound was fantastic, but I especially liked the two closer tunes "Pilldust" and "Nigredo." Pray to your doom gods that they record and release these, because they were fucking epic. These southern sludgeateers have a bright future ahead of them, especially the near future: their split with Black Tar Prophet is available for pre-order! In the meantime, stream their demo right here.

Third up was my friends Brother Ares. What can I say about these guys that I haven't said already? They rule. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Prior to the show, a bouncer for the bar named Stefan (Stephan? Sorry for any misspellings!) was telling me about how much of a tone expert Blake is, and how these guys really aren't like anybody else in the area. I couldn't agree more. Whether its grunge, sludge, doom metal, or even noise, this two-piece (who are staunch on their two-piece-hood, so don't even try to join) do it like nobody else. If you're looking for doom with intrigue, atonal/feedacking solos, and lots of bird metaphors, then you'll love Brother Ares.
Check out their last release below, and look for an upcoming full-length release "The Aviary" as well as a split with Knoxvillers Billy Castro!

Last up was Sovereign from Murfreesboro. I met some old partiers from Kentucky when I went to see Hail!Hornet back in the spring, and one of the guys I met was Jimmy from the Kentucky Sovereign. Just to be clear, this Sovereign is not that Sovereign. That Sovereign covers Five Finger Death Punch. This Sovereign kicks ass.

Sovereign: brought to you by smoking!

End of set drum upending shenanigans!

Blake from Brother Ares nudged me during their set and said that these guys sounded like Kyuss worship at its finest. That definitely rings true, but these guys have a bit more of a sludge and even hardcore edge than Kyuss. This comes as no surprise, seeing as most if not all of the members live in one of the craziest houses in Murfreesboro, Avalon. In my only venture to the 'Boro, I went to Avalon at a friend's behest. I had no idea what I was getting into. That house show looked like something out of a music video. The place was packed, and everyone was getting their drink and their smoke on. The bands themselves were nuts, with names like Bottletosser, Actual Nuns, and Haldol. In the middle of one of Haldol song, all of a sudden the mosh pit just fucking swarmed this big muscular guy, and got him to leave the house. Someone was talking to him, I'm not sure what they said but the whole time the big guy's eyes were bugged out huge. The police eventually came by and just said to the guy that if all the people at the party wanted him to leave, that he'd better leave. It turns out that the guy had called singer and guitarist Renan Tormin from this band the N-word, which is silly considering isn't even black, he's South American. Anyway, sorry for the digression, I've just been looking for a reason to post that story for months.

In any case, these guys are rad. They draw inspiration from sonic titans such as Electric Wizard, Orange Goblin, and Weedeater, but it felt like they added a touch of skater punk into the mix to give the sound its own flavor. The vocals were mostly shouted and screams, but a few cleaner-voiced parts added some tasty variety to the mix. A lot of it was a bit more uptempo than I usually expect when this much fuzz is coming from the cabs, but these guys do it well, with madman Austin Kimpel banging away on drums, mostly while being egged on by bassist Josh Scott. Overall, really great stoner metal with hardcore influences. Would see again, in a heartbeat.
Check out their album released in August.

At last, blog post complete! Look for a "Best-of" list from some esteemed members of the local metal community coming in the next few weeks!

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