Ketchup Day: Misery Signals, Cormorant, Incantation, Ruby the Hatchet

 
I remember one year in elementary school — it might have been fourth or fifth grade — when our teacher would occasionally come in and draw a ketchup bottle on the chalkboard. This was an indication that it would be a “ketchup day” or “catch-up day”: where we wouldn’t have any new lessons that day, but could use the time to get current on homework assignments or whatever else we needed to do.

Looking back as an adult, that sounds an awful lot like a scene from the movie Bad Teacher when Cameron Diaz’ character would show her class videos all day because came to school hungover. But in any case, today’s going to be a ketchup day for some recent news items that have come across the VOS editor’s desk …

 
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Cormorant – Earth Diver (2014)

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CormorantEarth Diver (self-released, 08 April 2014)

 

Well, sleep-walking my way to the bus this morning really felt like a reality check. Tuesday mornings are generally pretty tough anyway, but following a week and a half of vacation, it just makes it that much harder. To be clear, I’ve been back to work and back to “the real world” for several days now, but today I’m really feeling like “Oh yeah, I forgot how much going to work sucks, I could really use a vacation.”

Speaking of which, how was my vacation? It was nice, thanks for asking. I’ve learned that they don’t call Florida “The Sunshine State” for nothing, everything is way too bright there, and it was some god-awful temperature (well above 80° every single day — in the middle of March!!) and the humidity was nearly unbearable. But on the plus side, I did see all sorts of fascinating nature and wildlife — especially birds. There were birds everywhere, fancy exotic kinds I’d never seen outside of a zoo or even some I’d never seen anywhere. For example, the little guy pictured below, who I encountered in a mangrove swamp while hiking through a place called Bailey Tract on Sanibel Island.

 

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Withering Light / Barghest – Split (2014)

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Withering Light / BarghestSplit (self-released, 18 October 2014)

 

I had alluded to this at least once before, but isn’t it interesting how black metal seems to be the only genre that has been indelibly associated with a specific climate and time of year? This art form that had its roots in the thrash and death metal of the early 80s, got twisted into something more harsh and unforgiving by bands in such disparate locales as England and Brazil — but really was given the unique characteristics we associate with it today, when it had again been transformed in the hands of a bunch of Norwegians in the early 90s. Ever since then, thinking about black metal almost invariably conjures images of a “land of ice and snow”: some of the areas that have developed pockets of practitioners within the genre have included Norway and Sweden, the American Pacific northwest and midwest, Canada, New York and New England — and Louisiana.

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Today we’re discussing a pair of bands who are based in a state that is well-known for having hurricanes and Mardi Gras celebrations; Cajun and Creole culture and some of the biggest sludge metal bands in the world; and of course, for inventing Tabasco sauce. But one thing nobody associates with Louisiana is frigid, wintry weather. Nevertheless, these bands both manage to produce a convincingly bleak, black atmosphere, imbued with plenty of interesting twists like you’d expect to hear from many of their counterparts from further north: Barghest (Baton Rouge) and Withering Light (Hammond).

 

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Happy (Belated) New Year!

Cheers!

* Happy National Day (for those who live on the island of Menorca)!

 

* Happy Feast Day of Saint Achilles the Confessor (for those who follow the Eastern Orthodox Church)!

 

* Happy Birthday to Benjamin Franklin “The Guy on the Hundred Dollar Bill,” James Earl Jones “The Voice of Darth Vader,” comedian Andy Kaufman, bassist Andy Rourke, boxer Muhammad Ali, actress Betty White, FLOTUS Michelle Obama, and singer Eartha Kitt!

 

* Let’s also commemorate the passing of music producer Don Kirshner, chess player Bobby Fisher, and former U.S. president Rutherford B. Hayes!

 
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If you can’t tell, I’m sort of reaching here, for any sort of a special occasion or commemoration to celebrate today. Since we’re now so long past the beginning of the year, I feel stupid saying “Happy New Year!” to you. But 2013 is still relatively new (and the majority of it is still yet to come), so I guess it really doesn’t hurt to still wish you a happy one.
 
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Well Holy Crap… Cormorant Bassist/Vocalist Arthur von Nagel Exits Band

Once again, let me just say, holy crap…

 

 

It is with great deference and gratitude to our fans and supporters that I announce my departure from Cormorant. After the overwhelming reception for Dwellings and national tours with longtime personal heroes, I feel fortunate to end this chapter of my life on a high note. Nick, Brennan, and Matt will continue to write and perform as Cormorant with my full support. The albums we created together were very personal to all of us, and I know the music they are composing now is of the same passion and honesty. I cherish our time working together, and I wish them the best.

I am taking a break from music to pursue my career in video games—another lifelong passion. Since May of this year, I have been at Telltale Games, hard at work on The Walking Dead episodic adventure series. Contributing to the game’s development has afforded me artistic fulfillment I never thought possible professionally. Thanks to the many colleagues I count as friends and projects I care deeply about, I look forward to going to work every morning for the first time in my life.

I have nothing but the most sincere thanks to our fans. You are incredible. From the Lebanese diehard metalhead who smuggled his contraband Metazoa CD in from Saudi Arabia, to the gentleman of indigenous Australian descent who wrote to tell us how profoundly “The First Man” had affected him, knowing that we’ve forged a connection with people through our music is the most gratifying. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to perform for our fans across the US this year. Meeting you all in person was a true pleasure. I only regret that a worldwide tour wasn’t possible!

I’d like to thank the sound engineers and producers who made us sound our best, the publicists and journalists who wrote so beautifully about us, the visual artists who brought our music to life, the promoters who included us on such wonderful bills, and the bands with whom we shared the stage. While I have always taken great pride in Cormorant’s independence, so much of the band’s success is owed to your support. I look forward to attending future Cormorant shows from the other side of the stage.

Arthur von Nagel, November 2012.

 
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What To Do In Pittsburgh Tonight (6 September 2012)

 

Allure of the Earth Productions presents…

While Heaven Wept (exclusive Northeast headlining show!)

with Argus and Vermithrax

 

at The Smiling Moose

1306 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh (South Side)

 

Thursday 06 August 2012 | 9:00 pm | 21+ only | $10

 
Well folks, it’s finally here — the show everyone’s been talking about all summer long! You can catch the epic melodic doom majesty of While Heaven Wept in their only headlining appearance (as they prepare to join Cormorant and Primordial for a string of dates, beginning tomorrow night — more info here)!

A couple of heavy hitters in the local scene (Argus and Vermithrax) will be kicking things off tonight, so you won’t want to miss this one!

 

Allure of the Earth – While Heaven Wept, Argus, Vermithrax video flyer from Jim Pitulski on Vimeo.

 
Grab your tickets here, then RSVP right here.

Cormorant Are Touring All Over the U.S.! (Well, not ALL Over…)

Regular readers of this blog (or the occasional random Googler) will already be familiar with my feelings on Californian blackened progressive metal band Cormorant. For anyone else who might be unaware, here is a brief overview of their discography which I wrote upon the occasion of their most recent release, Dwellings, back in December.

Knowing that this DIY band manages to put together strings of tourdates fairly infrequently, it’s always a big deal when they announce some shows. However, when I saw Primordial (Irish black-metal-turned-blackened-doom-metal, of whom I’m also really really fond) announce a jaunt through the eastern U.S., and Cormorant’s name appeared on the poster too, well I almost passed out.

Unfortunately, on closer inspection (and with helpful guidance from Cormorant bassist Arthur von Nagel), I realized that these two bands — along with the epic/melodic doom band While Heaven Wept — were only playing most of the dates listed.

While Pittsburgh’s Smiling Moose bar is shown in the image (see below), the asterisk next to that date, according to the legend at the bottom, means “WHW only”.

I’ve heard that that literally means “WHW only”… I’ve also heard (from Bandsintown, and later from Primordial themselves when they shared that event) that Primordial would indeed be playing Pittsburgh that night. Later, Primordial’s wall post was deleted, although the Bandsintown event remains. And the dude from Meatmeadmetal tells me that Metal Blade has confirmed there will be no Primordial.

What a huge fucking mess — I have no clue what’s happening. Opening bands at the Pittsburgh date will also include two local greats, Argus and Vermithrax. Those are both worth seeing, and if you like While Heaven Wept, then there’s another plus. Go check out the show, maybe Primordial will show up, maybe they won’t. Maybe fucking Black Sabbath will reunite with Bill Ward for one night only and play a secret show at The Smiling Moose. I wouldn’t be surprised by anything at this point.

Personally, I can’t help feeling a good bit of disappointment at the absence of Cormorant; however, Cleveland is only a few hours away, so ‘Burgh-area fans may want to keep that possibility in mind… or possibly Rochester or Philadelphia, if you’re feeling especially adventurous.

 
Anyway, here is the tour poster, in all of its bewildering confusingness, followed by a full list of dates:

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