Live review: Pam and Mark Schaff
Photos: Pam and Mark Schaff
You never know what night is going to be the best at the Maryland Doomfest. Each day brings a slew of great bands to and from the stage. And day two for this year was no different. This was stacked up to be one of the best fests yet, and day two was ready to get started and prove itself to be one of the top nights we’ve been able to see here. We had a bunch of bands on this list that we’ve been waiting to see for a while, and there were some of our friends and favorites that we couldn’t wait to see again.
Starting off day two was Maryland’s own Gary Isom (Unorthodox, Pentagram, Spirit Caravan, Shine), and his new band Electropathic. We were anticipating our first chance to see them and they didn’t disappoint us. Ronnie Kalimon (drums), Zak Suleri (bass), and Eli Watson (guitar) round out the band and they ripped out a great set of the classic Maryland doom sound that started the day off right.
Next up was Pittsburg, Pa’s Molasses Barge. This was our first glimpse of this band and we definitely liked what they did on stage. Bringing a hard rock/ doom metal sound just south of their hometown, Brian “Butch” Balich (Vocals), Amy Bianco (Bass), Chuck Forsythe (Guitar), Justin Gizzi (Guitar) and Wayne Massey (Drums) did a great job in the second slot of the day. Joining them on stage during their set was Dee Calhoun to perform an Iron Man song, a touching tribute to another doom legend lost this year, Alfred Morris III, who will never be forgotten.
Shadow Witch jumped on stage next and brought their self-described stoner grunge/ heavy psych from Kingston, NY. We loved what we heard from this band. Had some great flow to the songs and vocalist Earl Lundy was fun to watch throughout the set. We grabbed a vinyl for the newest album ‘Disciples Of The Crow’ which came out in 2017. David Pannullo (bass) Doug “dougy beans” Thompson (drums) and Jeremy H. Hall (guitars) sounded great and impressed us for our first shot at seeing them live.
Texas doom band Doomstress was next to take the stage on day two. This band is one that we were waiting to see for a while now, and they didn’t let us down with their live show. Great riffs and heavy tunes were the order for Doomstress Alexis (bass and vocals), Brandon Johnson (guitar and backing vocals) and Tomasz Scull (drums). Be sure to check out their first full-length album ‘Supernatural Kvlt Sounds The Second Rite’, we got a vinyl copy at the fest and it kicks ass!
The Age Of Truth
The hard-hitting band The Age Of Truth hit the stage with heavy riffs and showed the fest crowd how they rock in Philadelphia. They had a great sound and Kevin McNamara (Vocals), Mike DiDonato (Guitar), Scott Frassetto (Drums) and William Miller (Bass) played a killer set that set Cafe 611 on fire. Their album ‘Threshold’ was released in November of last year and it is heavy as hell, and just plain kicks ass! Be sure to check it out, and get out to see this band anywhere they play.
Texas natives Switchblade Jesus were next, and to say we were waiting for this chance to catch them would be an understatement. We love these guys and have been listening to the band for years now, and our first chance to see them play gave us a long-awaited end. And they brought the heavy with them from Texas! Admittingly, we thought we would hear more of that southern metal from the self-titled kickass album, but they went the way of the heavier split that came out last year ‘The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter 7’. We recommend anything this band does, and we mean HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! We hope they get out towards Buffalo soon because we can’t wait to see them again!
Foghound’s return to the Doomfest stage was one of those moments that you were waiting to see, but at the same time, we knew that something would have to be said about the tragic loss of Rev Jim Forrester before they took the stage. Dave Benzotti took some time to give some emotional words before giving way to the band. Once they were onstage, the band did as expected, and tore up the place. Bob Sipes (guitar and vocals), Chuckrock Dukeheart III (drums and vocals), Adam Heinzman (bass) and Dee Settar (guitar and vocals) make up this kick-ass band. They have a few great albums out there, and they have a new one in the works that’s due out in September titled ‘Awaken To Destroy’, that we can’t wait to hear. They did some new tuning on this night though and just makes us want to hear the new album even more. As always, anything from Foghound is a must listen, and the band is a must see live!
The post-rock band Cavern was up next. This duo of Stephen Schrock (Drums) and Zach Harkins (Guitar) rocked the crowd here and had this really killer sound for a pair. Another Maryland band, these guys formed in 2012 and have three killer albums out. A self-titled album (2013), ‘Tales Of Ruin’ (2014) and ‘Outsiders’ (2015). We missed a chance to catch the band in Buffalo earlier this year, so it was great that we got a second chance and they killed it on night two of the fest. Looking forward to seeing them again.
For the second year in a row, The Watchers came to the fest and kicked ass at Cafe 611. We love this band, and they always sound great. Their newest album, just coming out earlier this year, titled ‘Black Abyss’ is another gem from the guys. Hard, heavy and full of riffs. And they do the same on stage. Tim Narducci (Vocals), Jeremy Epp (Guitars), Cornbread (Bass) and Carter Kennedy (Drums), know how to rock with the best of them. The bands first album ‘Sabbath Highway’ is no slouch either, and both albums from the band come highly recommended. Check them out whenever you can, we will for sure!
Back for the second year in a row, and bringing the best pure Maryland Doom you’ll find anywhere, was Earthride! This band knows doom, and they show it every time we see them. The local hometown guys always give a great show, and never let us down when it comes to heaviness and riffage. Greg Ball (Guitar), Aaron Lewis (Bass), Eric Little (Drums) and doom legend Dave Sherman (Vocals) took the crowd to the next level with an amazing performance on this night. They put the hammer down and never let up for the entire set. As always for these guys, we can’t say enough that you need to get out and see them play whenever you have a chance.
We’ve been lucky enough to see Castle numerous times over the last couple years. This is one of those bands you just can’t see enough. If they came around once a week, we’d be there. So getting the chance to see them again at the fest was perfect to us. And as per the usual for the band, they kicked ass! Never disappointed after they leave the stage, they let it all hang out up there. We stood front and center for this one, like always when Castle is playing. They just announced signing with Ripple Records and the release of their fifth album due out on October 19th titled ‘Deal Thy Fate’. We can’t say enough that you hit the pre-order for this one as soon as it’s up. And when they hit the road to support it, we hope they don’t leave out Buffalo!! We can’t wait to see them again!
Closing out night two was a band we hadn’t seen in a few years in Windhand. We had to cancel a trip up north to Toronto to see them the last time they came close to us, as we were glad they made it back to the Doomfest for the first time since the first year. And as usual, they were loud and heavy. Dorthea has one of the greatest doom metal voices you’ll find, and they heavy riffs just pour out of the amps in that slow sludgy goodness that crushed the doomfest crowd. Their split with Satan’s Satyrs came out in February 2018 and was a crushing continuance of the bands sound. They prove with each album that they are one of the top bands of the genre. A new album is due out on October 5th titled ‘Eternal Return’ and should be ordered as soon as it goes live to do so. Catch them when they come near you, but be sure to bring the earplugs, you’re gonna need them!
When day two ended, it concluded one of the heaviest nights we can remember at the fest. Some of our favorite bands got on stage and powered the night to new heights and levels. The customary 2 am food with the sounds still ringing in our ears, and then to bed, only to be too excited sleep while waiting for the next day anyways is what the fest is all about. And the lineup for day three, well we weren’t too sure, but it just could be one of the best days the fest has ever put on stage. Grab some sleep, because tomorrow is gonna be another killer day on the Doomfest Stage!