Through an otherworldly conjuration of heavy guitars, soothing dissonance, and textural space, Holy Fawn invoke music from seen and unseen corners and crevices of the wilderness. Like an ancient culture exalting the sacred spirit of nature, the music mirrors the onset of night in the woods, a delicate push-and-pull of ominous sonic omens and blissful vocal calm. The Phoenix quartet—Ryan Osterman [guitar, vocals], Evan Phelps [guitar], Alexander Rieth [bass], and Austin Reinholz [drums]—hint at such sorcery in their chosen moniker. “We wanted a name that was going to represent the sacredness of nature,” says Ryan. “In a lot of instances, a fawn is representative of psychic abilities, connections, premonitions, and otherworldly influence. It’s relatable, because of a lot of the lyrical content is paranormal or based on nature. Then, nature will fuel music, and music will fuel our fascination with the vantages of nature.” Existing within the same musical ecosystem, the members started jamming in 2015. They bonded over a similar aesthetic. It’s informed by minimalist indie films a la the documentary Horizon and the stark simplicity of literature, including Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and No Country for Old Men. Evan notes, “Those books stuck with me because they’re really heavy on imagery and description with little dialogue. They made me realize I could paint a world in my head with very few words, which is what we try to do.” These gatherings eventually gave birth to their independent EP debut Realms. Throughout the next three years between intermittent gigs, the group hunkered down and recorded their first full-length album Death Spells. The ten songs assumed a wild spirit by juxtaposing untamed noise with sweeping melodies as if untethered to the reason, rules, and logic of the civilized urban world and beholden to an internal compass. The title proved apropos. A quiet launch landed Death Spells in the hands of a few tastemakers during 2018, and it took up residence in the minds of fans and critics alike. Stereogum lauded it as one of the “Top 50 Records of 2018.” New Noise described it as a “sonic adventure,” and Heavy Blog Is Heavy called them, “wholly unique.” Additionally, they earned the fandom of Thrice’s Riley Breckenridge and Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe who promised, “listening from top-to-bottom will take you on a trance-inducing journey.” In 2019, it receives a proper full release on Triple Crown Records. This new phase begins with the music video for opening track “Dark Stone,” which completes a triptych begun by previous visuals for “Arrows” and “Drag Me Into The Woods.” “I want listeners to make a personal connection with Death Spells,” Ryan leaves off. “When I was a kid, I’d pick up a CD, go home, take out the artwork, and literally digest the album. It’s how I listen to music today and how I hope others might experience our band.” “The album is meant to be heard like that,” concludes Austin. “It’s laid out to be loud and in-your-face with a million thoughts going through your head. You’re questioning yourself. Then, it’s calm. It’s unpredictable.”
A Giant Dog is raucous ear candy culled from the hook-driven melodies of Slade, the glammy swagger of Marc Bolan, the morbid fantasy of Killer-era Alice Cooper, and the unpredictable wit of Sparks. These songs are by, for, and about the losers, freaks, and outcasts. The lonely. The terminally horny. Boozehounds and party animals.
The band Saajtak, based in Detroit (Jonathan Barahal Taylor, Ben Willis, Simon Alexander-Adams) and Brooklyn (Alex Koi), makes futuristic music that synthesizes a wide range of genres—often in ways that seem to clash against each other, always in service to the song. The band has quietly made music in Detroit for the better part of a decade, collaborating with members of clipping. and sharing bills with Xiu Xiu, Ava Mendoza and Greg Fox. Koi sings and writes lyrics; Taylor plays drums, Willis bass; Alexander-Adams contributes keyboard and electronics. But to individuate their contributions does the music a disservice. Saajtak sounds, feels, like a living, breathing organism, for which recordings don’t present definitive documents as much as they reflect songs at given points in their lives. The members of saajtak have performed or collaborated with esteemed artists such as Shara Nova [My Brightest Diamond], Meshell Ndegeocello, Jonathan Snipes [clipping.], deadmau5, Morley Kamen, Theo Bleckmann, Joan Wasser [Joan As Police Woman], Marcus Elliot, Pope.L, Ragnar Kjartansson, Sterling Toles, MC Kadence and more. After four independently-released EPs, saajtak will be releasing their highly anticipated debut album, For the Makers, on American Dreams on June 3, 2022. Saajtak’s compositions are rooted in collective improvisation; their first release, spectral [ drips ], collects several free improvisations. The band was recording music live for a full-length debut when the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic pressed pause on their principal way of making music. In response, the band began working on new music remotely, in increments of eight days. Every two days, members would trade songs, gradually sculpting them into final iterations. Willis recalls putting on his headphones as he began recording bass: “The layers that Alex, Simon, and Jon had begun to craft engulfed me like a wave, filling me. I was suddenly surrounded by my friends.” Over time, the music organically cohered into an album, bringing together influences as wide-ranging as Richard Davis, Meredith Monk and Melvins. Koi’s lyrics balance narrative and enigma, incorporating several perspectives within a song in an approach she calls polyphonic narrative. “I like to imagine how personas might converse in worlds with varying levels of familiarity and skewness,” she explains. “What we receive are relationships that flow between splintery and harmonious, and that contain both ecstasy and affliction. There’s a big thrill in all this, when nothing can be apathetic.”
L.A. Witch’s self-titled debut album unfurled like hazy memories of late night revelries in the city center creeping back in on a hungover Sunday morning. Guitarist/vocalist Sade Sanchez purred and crooned over jangling guitar chords, painting pictures of urban exploits, old American haunts, and private escapades with a master’s austerity. Bassist Irita Pai and drummer Ellie English polished the patina of the band’s vintage sound, adding a full-bodied thump and intoxicating swing to the album’s dusty ballads, ominous invitations, and sultry rock songs. The album had an air of effortlessness, like these songs were written into the fabric of the Western landscape by some past generation and conjured into our modern world by three powerful conduits. The band readily admits that L.A. Witch was a casual affair and that the songs came together over the course of several years. That natural flow hit a snag when the band’s popularity grew and they began touring regularly, so a new strategy became necessary for their sophomore album, the swaggering and beguiling Play With Fire.
It is undeniable that we live in uncertain and troubled times, a period of which this pandemic we’re struggling through is but the latest and perhaps most evident aspect. Life is increasingly complicated and burdens seem to get harder and harder to carry with each passing year, so the need to seek solace and to take refuge in things that you know you can count on becomes more and more urgent. Well, dear friend, put down those burdens for a little while, because Monolord have got your back.Ever since 2013, when the dormant power of the Monolord became too much for a simple boogie rock band called Marulk – featuring a certain Thomas V Jäger and Esben Willems respectively on guitars/vocals and drums already – to contain, that this Swedish trio’s almost endearingly relentless dedication to The Riff has been something you can count on, almost as sure as the sun that rises every morning above your head. Thomas and Esben joined bassist Mika Häkki, and ever since then they have been compelled by the power of the riff, with no time for any frills like line-up changes or inane experimentations just for the sake of it. Theirs is a higher calling, a purer statement of intentions. After all, their bandname is “a paraphrase of an unspeakable name of an unspeakable entity that not even we dare to mention,” as Esben explains. And if you don’t like that description, Thomas has another suggestion: “make one up, and it is true!”Do not think, however, that just by having a well defined sound and by making the riff their raison d’être, that you have them all figured out by default. A Monolord song might feel like a bridge troll that grabs you by the shoulders and just shakes you until it’s done, but that troll has a great record collection and knows how to move and groove. The four records the band put from 2014 to 2019, while clearly belonging to the same canon, all have their own distinct personality and vibe, and all echo their own nuance. Thomas cites Entombed (above all), Slayer, Type O Negative, The Hellacopters, Goatsnake and a bunch more as stuff he hears in his songwriting, while Esben admits struggling with compiling lists of influences that end up being 9000 names from AC/DC to Zeal & Ardor. Monolord walk all over the making-the-same-record-over-and-over pitfall with the same carefree ease with which they, well, fire out chunky, fuzzy riffs that somehow never sound like the last one. Or the next one.
Transcendent Events presentsThrillkillerThe RevivedRandom BattlesKaren Culi $15 Adv. / $20 DoorAll Ages Join the Maryland Music Family!Baltimore Local Music (Transcendent Events)Text TRANSCEND to 77948 for show updates.#YouBelongHere Maryland Music is Awesome.
Maryland Folk Metal Festival VIMaryland’s premier folk metal festival featuring folk, viking, melodic, pirate, pagan, fantasy, symphonic and more styles of metal from around the world.Featuring: Sekengard, Dzo-nga, Goblin Hovel, Primeval Well, Wythersake, StumpTail and Forever Autumn
Fatal Impact Events & Booking Present: REVIVALA Night of Dark Trade and Dark Music