Live review: Pam and Mark Schaff
Photos: Pam and Mark Schaff
After a 5 am wakeup and a nearly seven hour drive, we checked into our hotel in Frederick, Maryland, then headed to Cafe 611, home to the Maryland Doomfest 2016. It’s hard to believe that over the next three days we’re going to be witnessing performances from some of the most legendary guys in doom. From Wino and The Obsessed, Eric Wagner and his band Blackfinger, Victor Griffin (Pentagram) performing with Place of Skulls.
Just these three men alone are such a huge influential part of the doom metal scene. When you first arrive at Cafe 611, the thought runs through your head that this can’t be the place for a music festival. A small bar with a stage a foot off the floor and room for about 250 people. This is not your typical fest, and It turns out this is a great venue for it. Up close and personal with your favorite bands is the only way to see what happened over the weekend. Thirty one bands over three days. We couldn’t wait for it to get started on day one!
Having to be a band that kicks off a festival can’t be easy. But Black Urn, a doom/sludge band from Philly, had no problem pulling it off. Vocalist John Jones, guitarists Ryan Manley and Jordan Pierce, drummer Tim Lewis, and bassist Alex Onderdonk were one of the heaviest bands of the first night, and we loved seeing them start the fest with a great performance. Check out their new EP ‘The Pangs Of Our Covenant’.
This band from California, toured their way to the Doomfest supporting their latest release ‘Shaman’s Path of the Serpent’. A blend of melodic desert rock and sludgy doom metal, guitarist/vocalist Kyle Stratton, bassist John Chavarria, and drummer Jeff Tedtaotao, gave early goers a performance that left you wanting more. This band hasn’t been around long, but from their performance, they’re soon to get a large following.
Admiral Browning is a band that’s been in the Maryland doom scene for quite a while now. This band is known for it’s instrumental music, but have been experimenting with adding vocals to their sound. The band is comprised of members guitarist Matt LeGrow, bassist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis and drummer Tim Otis, and if fans of the Doomfest didn’t know them before the show, they do now.
Coming into the festival, Demon Eye, was a band we didn’t know much about. After their performance, they had completely blown us away. They have such a great sound and they played a set comprised of hook filled riffs and catchy lyrics. Singer/guitarist Erik Sugg, guitarist Larry Burlison, bassist Paul Walz and drummer Bill Egan are definitely a band on the rise. Immediately after their set we made a beeline to the merch booth and bought some vinyl, which has been been on heavy rotation in the Schaff household since we got home from the Doomfest. we can’t wait to hear more from these guys in the future!
Pale Diveine took the stage with members vocalist/guitarist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey (both are currently in the band Beelzefuzz) and bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis who had played earlier in the night with Admiral Browning. While this group is not a full time act, they sure played as if they were. They closed out their set with the Bobby Leibling penned song ‘Dark Night’ as treat for fest attendees.
Ruby The Hatchet
My first interaction with Ruby The Hatchet, came in the form of an embarrassing fangirl moment with singer Jillian Taylor, when we both walked out of a stall in the ladies room at the same time. I blurted out ” OMG your the singer for Ruby The Hatchet” to which she replied “Nice to meet you my name is Jillian, I’d shake your hand but I just peed”. Lucky for me she was very nice and gracious. Ruby The Hatchet is a band we were really looking forward to seeing at the fest, and their performance did not disappoint us.
The band is made up of vocalist Jillian Taylor, guitarist Johnny Scarps, bassist Lake Muir drummer Owen Stewart and organist Sean Hur, This psych/doom band from New Jersey mixes a heavy fuzzed out guitar sound along with stellar organ playing. When all are combined with the haunting yet beautiful vocals of Jillian Taylor their sound is truly amazing. They started their set with the song ‘Heavy Blanket’ off of their most recent full length album ‘Valley of the Snake’. We hope to catch them again real soon.
The Unholy Behemoth
The Maryland Doomfest was Castle’s tenth stop on a lengthy North American tour which stretches until the end of September, supporting their forthcoming album ‘Welcome To The Graveyard’, set to be released on July 15th. Castle was another band we were really looking forward to seeing at the fest and lived up to our expectations. This three piece from San Francisco, California shows why they were nominated for a JUNO award for metal/hard music album of the year for 2013. Guitarist Mat Davis, drummer Steve Abeyta , and vocalist/bassist Elizabeth Blackwell had the crowd at the Doomfest bangin their heads to their brand of occult themed doom metal. This is a band that just simply crushes it live, do yourself a favor and try to catch them on this tour, you won’t regret it.
The Doomfest crowd started to pack in to Cafe 611 when hometown guys J.D. Williams (vocals), Kelly Carmicheal (Guitar), Adam Heinzman (bass) and Brian Goad (drums) of Internal Void took the stage for their one hour set and rocked the packed house with heavy guitar and smoking vocals. Putting on an energetic performance for the crowd from beginning to end. Original drummer Eric Little came out and played a few songs from Internal Void’s 1993 album ‘Standing On The Sun’, which was the first time the original members have played together in 23 years.
With Apache Blood
Utopia Of Daze
The Devil In Drag
Window To Hell
The newly reformed The Obsessed closed out day one of the Doomfest with an absolutely crushing performance. These guys are firing on all cylinders, and standing there watching The Obsessed perform was a truly surreal experience. We were standing directly in front of Scott “Wino” Weinrich, his intensity while playing guitar is something I can’t explain. It’s almost like he becomes a man possessed. Wino, who is a legend in this genre, showed us why he’s held in such high regard from his peers and fans.
Dave Sherman is a great bassist and performer, he is such a talented musician, and seeing him perform The Obsessed songs was magical. Drummer Brian Costantino’s playing complimented Dave and Wino perfectly. You can see why Dave and Wino love playing with him so much. They even played two songs that will be on their new album ‘Be The Night’ and ‘Sacred”. They are currently in the studio working on an album, and we can’t wait for them to release an album of new material since they just signed a deal with Relapse Records.
The Obsessed are ready for world domination. Be sure to check out the conversation we had with bassist Dave Sherman earlier in the day. He explains why it was the right time for Wino to get The Obsessed back up and running.
Protect & Serve
Be The Night
A World Apart
As day one came to an end, we realized how lucky we were to see so many great bands in a single day. But there would not be much rest, and in less than 12 hours we’ll be back for another 12 bands on day two.