January 12th, 2013 | 1 Comment
Artists: Black Tar Prophet & Crawl
Album: Split CD
Starting off with the show I saw with these bands at The Springwater in Nashville, we walked in early to the very dimly green lit dive bar’s back room. The seats in the couple of booths were ripped, it was small, it was gritty, and it was a great setting for the barrage of noisy, sludgy, doom metal to come. There were four bands, but we were there for Black Tar Prophet and we were eager to catch Crawl as well. The Black Tar Prophet guys, a three string bass and a drummer at this point, did what seemed to be a two second sound check and soon entered an instant wall of dark psychedelic metal sound. A very captivating set, it went nonstop as though it was but one song, whether it was or not. Then as suddenly as it began the amp is turned off and the set is abruptly over. Next up was Crawl, a three piece band from Atlanta GA, they opened up with a sample over the PA system then they came on hard and strong. The singer opened his mouth into a raspy grinding scream and we were off again with a very mobile bass player and animated group of guys in general. Admittedly, I did have to take an important phone call about 2/3 thru Crawl’s set, but I hung out with the guys from both bands after their sets, very cool people. I would highly recommend seeing either of these bands if you get the chance, I know I would jump at the chance anytime we were in the same area. On a side note; I actually saw BTP play an abbreviated set at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn about a month earlier, yes you heard me right, they blew the doors off the best little Honky Tonk on Lower Broadway in Nashville for a benefit for a fallen friend.
The CD, which I immediately pre-ordered after the show and eagerly awaited, did NOT disappoint. There are only three tracks, two by Black Tar Prophet with a combined length of 15:40 and one track by Crawl that is 18:20. There are no vocals and they aren’t needed, it’s just a super thick, sludgy soup of great slow, “stoner”, doom metal. This is the dark counterpart to all those hippy major tone light shows in the late 60’s. Sludge is a perfect word to describe too; it is the sound equivalent to that thick mud or quicksand that won’t let go of your foot with each step, the kind that if you finally manage to escape you certainly lost your shoes in the process. As I write this, I am on the fourth go around on repeat today, and it has not lost its magic yet. The production quality is excellent, crisp and clear, the album art fits perfectly with the feel of the album and it is just all together put together as well as any mainstream record I have ever bought. I am also anxiously awaiting the earlier demo from Crawl, which I understand is closer to what I experienced at the show, and will be looking to order Black Tar Prophets album “Note to Nod” as well (which I have heard and is excellent). This is the good stuff folks, its quality talent, its self-produced, and its uninfluenced by outside ideas; leaving it just pure and full of the intended emotions. It has beyond gotten my vote, go pick it up while supplies last. While you’re there pick up everything else they have too, it is all great stuff that I have seen.
I had the chance to ask the guys a few questions for further insight, and got much better answers than I bargained for. So, for your further enjoyment, meet the bands. They are (in no particular order); Eric Crowe (Crawl: Guitar/Throat), Tommy Butler (Crawl: Barbaric Blasts aka-Drums), Tyler Akers (Crawl: Low-end Assault aka-Bass), Greg Swinehart (Black Tar Prophet: Bass/Noise), Erik Fenris(Black Tar Prophet: Drums). I would like to thank the members for giving me their time with the correspondence and answering my questions, it really adds so much.
How about a little background info… When/what got each of you into playing music? Do you play other instruments other than what you play in these bands?
Eric: Music has always been around me. Growing up, mom would play a lot of Elvis and I would play her old 45′s all the time. It was Corrosion Of Conformity’s “Dance Of The Dead” video where I knew I wanted to play guitar for real. I had gotten a guitar for Christmas when I was like 16 and was on and off with it, but when I saw and heard the heavy chug part towards the middle of the video, I was sold on Pepper Kennan and the dream to play and be as cool as him someday!
I’ve messed with synth and drum machines, but have been known to play instruments incorrectly for the sake of creating noise.
Tyler: I started playing music about 4 years ago while I was still in Collage. It was a means of getting into something different and soaking up some free time while feeling productive. It wasn’t long after I started that I came across the stoner/doom music scene around Atlanta and from that point on I was engrossed in that style of music. Feeding off a love for Neurosis and Electric Wizard I started the band Blasted Goat as a guitarist and we’re still going. Most of the guy’s in that band I met in Collage, so our sound is an interesting mix of Collage rock/Stoner/Sludge metal. This past Summer I really got interested in learning the bass and pursuing a project that would allow me to explore that instrument further, and I also wanted to expand my playing into a darker, more atmospheric setting, hence my reasoning for joining Crawl. It’s a tad comical that when I went to try out for their bassist, it was actually the first time I’d played bass in all honesty. These guys are a perfect fit for the kind of music I’ve always wanted to play, and I’m lucky they took the chance to add me to their line-up.
Tommy: I started playing drums in church when I was nine years old and was in my first band traveling, playing live at age ten. Been doing it off and on ever since.
Black Tar Prophet:
Greg: I started messing around in early middle school on guitar, with a little peavey rage 158 practice amp, and a fake strat “called a gtx”, then onto drums. I always wanted to at least know half ass how to play other instruments. What got me into playing music? I lived in a shit-hole town (Albany, GA). In high school we all said fuck everything, quit school and jammed all day at my friend’s house. We all formed bands of all genres. At the time Acid Bath and the Morbid Angel album “covenant” were continuously listened to.
Erik: I was a band kid in school and I started playing guitar when I was 14. Since then music has been the only thing in my life I’ve never had to think about, so I keep doing it. Guitar is my main instrument; I played and did vox in another Nashville doom outfit called Archdruid
Eric: There is a distinct drive and power in doom that you can’t find in other genres of music, not in the same way. Plus doom in itself covers so much ground based on how you feel, traditional, funeral, sludge, experimental & even “stoner.” In high school, I was into metal, mainly thrash and death metal, but started to get really bored with it. The whole scene just became stagnate and a competition of who can play the fastest, blah blah. I ventured more into grindcore / sludge type bands, (Cattlepress, Brutal Truth, Nasum, Dystopia, Grief) even did vocals for a grindcore band, Social Infestation. Even then, I was looking for more extreme music. I ended up finding noise and harsh electronics (Merzbow, Masonna, Bastard Noise.) As I have transitioned through all sorts of music, I find home in Doom. It has soulful feeling and grit, it can bring you down or make you wanna rock out.
Tyler: Doom is an interesting genre, in that you run across a lot of variations in the kind of sound people imagine it to be. Everything from Black Sabbath/Candlemass to Bongripper/Sunn 0))) could fall into that category, if you’re into categorizing things anyway, but they all have a unique sound and that’s a testament to how broad the genre can be. I think above all else, the genre really strikes a chord with human nature in general, and lyrically is less about appealing to meaningless or tasteless plots and more about delivering a raw emotional impact that can really unsettle a person, but also inspire them in a way. I feel like its a very ‘true’ and transparent way of delivering musical ideas, relying less on gimmicks and more on reality.
Tommy: I love the heaviness of doom/sludge metal, plus I suck at double bass. I like different styles of metal, but I feel doom has more raw emotion and feeling especially when mixed with elements of drone and noise.
Black Tar Prophet:
Greg: I’m not good at categorizing genres. I’ve always been into extreme metal and noise. Death/black metal/power violence/goregrind/pornogrind, hardcore(not karate kicking shit). But I couldn’t play that shit on drums haha. I tried for years. With the Black Tar Prophet stuff, whether I’m on drums or bass. I feel it. I bought old heads and cabs and to build this massive dirty sound i had in my head. I can’t afford tubes. So I just use solid state. In the beginning when I was playing drums. I just played standard solid drum patterns with a lot of accents on the changes, nothing technical. The genre reeled me in from listening to everything from metal/punk/grunge. I like disturbing noise and music that has a “Fuck You” attitude.
Erik: Because Doom is just so damn heavy.
I immediately noticed a lack of vocals on all tracks, Eric I saw you sing when I attended the show… I believe this album is pretty complete without, but are there plans to use vox on future projects?
Eric: Absolutely! Rise. Feast. is more of an amplified drone type piece and adding vocals just didn’t seem to fit the over-all feel to me. There are times when vocals are needed and times when they aren’t, and even moments when the voice should just be used more like an instrument to add a feel or texture to a song, like at the end of “Freedom At Dawn” off the demo where I did throat singing as an added drone and texture.
Tyler: It’s likely that future drone/atmospheric endeavors will include vox, but that’s entirely dependent on the situation and what idea we want to get across. If vocals serve the atmosphere we’re creating, then they’ll be there. I think a lot of projects (this is especially true for modern music, I’m looking at you Country/Pop) rely too heavily on vocal performances and forget that every piece in a band is an instrument with a voice just as emotionally endearing as a humans.
Tommy: We have vocals on a majority of our songs. Sometimes the emotions and dynamics we are trying to convey are done with an instrumental. Doing this while mixing different styles keeps us from limiting ourselves in what and how we write and compose.
Black Tar Prophet:
Greg: I like not having vocals in what we are doing. If there were any, I’d call Eric Crowe. Haha
Erik: We never specifically decided not to use vocals, but we wanted to let the music speak for itself.
Besides taking over and dominating the world, what do you hope and plan for 2013 to take your music?
Eric: I’d like our music to be received by the ears and hands of the right folks. People that will dig it and can relate to what we are doing. We hope to play a festival in Europe, that’s one of our big dreams. We are also looking for possible labels that could get behind what we are doing.
Tyler: Crawl is still very new, and considering what we’ve managed to accomplish in such a short period I’m very much looking forward to the future. Its still early in the new year, but we will be working on an EP release soon.
Tommy: We hope to play more shows and get this machine rolling. Hopefully continue to grow as a band and as musicians, and of course melt faces and brains.
Black Tar Prophet:
Greg: I just want to play shows, get more gear. Discover new bands, Record later this year. I know we plan on finally getting our merchandise together. We plan to have shirts printed, patches, maybe some hats.
Erik: Excited to take the show on the road and start playing shows in other cities. We are looking into putting out a full length and getting shirts made.
Anything else you wanted to let people know? (I’m sure there are interesting insights or important promotional blurbs to throw out there.)
Eric: There is a high possibility of the split being re-released on vinyl. We are still discussing the details at the moment, but it’s definitely in the works. Crawl is also working on material and details for a split with COMPEL from SC. Hopefully this will be something a bit different from the norm, but we’ll see.
Tyler: We’ve got some great shows coming up in the near future so everyone keep your eyes open.
Tommy: Our plans are to keep writing and playing. We have some recording ideas I think are cool and exciting. We are currently planning to record an EP in the spring along with some concept ideas for hopefully summer and fall. I am stoked for what 2013 and the next few years has in store for us.
Check Crawl out:
Black Tar Prophet:
Greg: Well first, thank you for taking the time to come out and listen to both the live and recorded versions of both bands. Me and Eric Crowe of Crawl go back far. We met in ‘98 when he was frontman/vocalist of social infestation. Great musician as well as a great artist/promoter/ and friend. We (Black Tar Prophet) are going to try to hit the southern states again, as well as add some Midwest dates in too.
Erik: Get high and bang your head.
Written by rnzmag
r/n/z magazine is a d.i.y. style magazine focusing on arts,activism,native american rights,and social justice. with a soundtrack of real country and roots music.
Filed under: Concert Reviews, Featured, Interviews, Music, Music Reviews, People, Uncategorized · Tags: Black Tar Prophet, Crawl, Doom Metal, Doom music, interview, review, split ce, Wylde Bill Jackey
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