REVIEW: Skeletonwitch “Serpents Unleashed”/Brooklyn Brewery Fire and Ice

THE RECORD: Skeletonwitch Serpents Unleashed Prosthetic Records 2013

Skeletonwitch hasn’t needed to do much to become one of my favorite bands. Constantly touring and releasing new records, they’re always working hard and just seem to show up all the time with new stuff. Their latest album, Serpents Unleashed is out now on Prosthetic Records and continues their trend of putting out fantastic albums of thrash metal gold.

Serpents Unleashed is unrelenting from the beginning. They don’t start slow and elevate to a high level, they start off at the top from the beginning and don’t stop until the record is over. I think a lot of the energy on this one has to do with the aid of producer Kurt Ballou of Converge. The sound shows that he works really well with the band to maintain their sound and clean it up a bit. Polished? Maybe. Just so the guitar riffs are crystal clear to the ear though.

The guitar riffs are so amazing on this record. Check out “Blade On The Flesh, Blood On My Hands”, and “Burned From Bone”. So face-melting, and actually pretty catchy too. The mix is perfect in the way that it allows these to stand out.

I think that’s what’s awesome about Skeletonwitch. They put out great records that sound professional, but you know you can still see them and thrash the hell out at their live shows.

Okay, I guess it slows down a LITTLE on “More Cruel Than Weak”, the last track. It’s just so you can give your head a break from banging it though, and it brings you back to speed pretty quick.

I would be remiss not to name drop one more time- Baroness’ John Dyer Baizley, who did the stunning artwork for the cover. There aren’t really any bands that Baizley has done the art for that I don’t enjoy (that includes Flight Of The Conchords!). Serpents Unleashed is just another excellent piece from his portfolio.

The band itself doesn’t quit either. It seems like they are always touring, but the great thing about the ‘witch is that they mix it up with the bands they play with. I’ve seen them three times; with Kvelertak (ON A BOAT!), with Havok, and with Ghost. All those bands are pretty different from each other, but the crowd always loved them because they put on such a great show. I’m looking forward to catching them on tour in Spring 2014 with Amon Amarth!

THE BEER: Fire And Ice- Brooklyn Brewery- Brooklyn, NY

The brewmaster’s reserve collection is hit or miss to me; I loved There Will Be Black, but Fiat Lux was just so so. Maybe they just need to give all their beers brutal, metal-sounding names and I’ll like them. Case in point, Fire and Ice. It’s a deliciously smoky porter. I often shoot for the sweeter side of the porter and stout spectrum, but sometimes a crisp, dry porter just hits the spot. Fire and Ice knocks it out of the park. Don’t be mislead by the style it says on the label of oatmeal porter. The ingredients do include rolled oats, but everything else, like the hop profile (Fuggle, Willamette, and East Kent Golding) makes this brew deliciously smoky with a touch of bitterness. At 7.2% ABV it’s right in the middle of the scale, which is nice to see in a sea of so many super-strong stouts and porters this time of year.


I always feel inclined to pair metal albums with pretty dank beers. When you’re rocking out to an intense, heavy record, you need a beer of equal caliber to go along with it.

The description on the Brooklyn Brewery website sounds like it could fit in a Skeletonwitch song too:

When the world gives you darkness and Ice
We put a Fire into your glass and give you warmth and light

While the beer isn’t that accessible in stores and bars since it’s from the brewmaster’s reserve series, it’s super accessible, easy to drink, on the palate. Yes, it’s intense and big, but it’s surprisingly drinkable. Much like Skeletonwitch- their sound is in your face, but they are a blast to see live and so much fun to listen to.


The Halloween Mix: Fall Beer and Music Pairings

So while I wait patiently for new records to fall in love with (I honestly have not been jazzed about any new releases enough to write a review in awhile), I’ll do something I love. Besides writing about beer, I love making mixes. While tapes and even CDs are starting to go away as formats, there still is something to be said about a collection of songs that mean something. These are my 5 favorite Halloween songs, paired with some of my favorite pumpkin or autumn beers. Enjoy!

“Black No. 1”- Type O Negative/Southern Tier Warlock

My number one pick for a Halloween song is the quintessential Type O track, “Black No. 1”. I love Type O Negative, and of course with all their references to Nosferatu and Goth culture, I have to rock out to them even harder around Halloween. “Black No. 1” is off their 1993 record Bloody Kisses. This album celebrates its 20 year anniversary this year, so what better time to dust it off and listen to it?

I’m pairing one of my favorite bands with one of my new favorite beers. I didn’t think Southern Tier could top the delicious Pumking, but they did with Warlock, a pumpkin stout that tastes like the darker, evil twin of that tasty pumpkin pie ale.

“Halloween”- the Misfits/Dogfish Head Punkin

Can’t have a Halloween mix without your old pal Glenn Danzig, right? “Halloween” was released as a 7-inch single on All Hallows’ Eve 1981, and later on the Legacy Of Brutality collection in 1985. Who doesn’t love thrashing around a good “bonfire burning bright”, with PUNKIN faces in the night? I wanted to pair the most punk rock track on this list with this totally punk rock pumpkin ale from Dogfish Head. It’s a brown ale, but with pumpkin, brown sugar, and spices, it’s a great seasonal drink. Despite the fact that it’s 7% ABV, it feels much light enough to finish in the short length of the average Misfits track.

“Dead Man’s Party”- Oingo Boingo

Like the Misfits and Type O, I’ll add another Halloween essential to the mix: Danny Elfman. His compositions from movies like Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas are as familiar as the films themselves around All Hallow’s Eve. Elfman fronted Oingo Boingo from 1972-1995, and the title track of 1985’s Dead Man’s Party is a favorite for all Halloween parties, whether you’re dead or alive.

I’ll pair this older favorite with a new beer that I love: 2Roads Brewing’s Roadsmary’s Baby. There are plenty of pumpkin beers out there, but this one stands out with its rum-barrel-aged sweetness. It’s 6.8% alcohol but drinks very easily.

“Time Warp”- Richard O’Brien/Rocky Horror Picture Show

“Time Warp” is a classic Halloween song. It doesn’t feel like Halloween until I’ve done the Time Warp at least 4 times. In that way, I picked a classic Oktoberfest ale to pair with it. Paulaner goes back a little earlier than Rocky Horror, 1810 to be exact, for the first ever Oktoberfest in Munich. I find the Paulaner Oktoberfest to be a little darker than some of the others out there, with that tasty roasted malt flavor.

“I Put A Spell On You”- Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

It’s one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 “Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”. The performance is ridiculous but still musically awesome. Isn’t that what Halloween is about? A chance to be ridiculous no matter if you’re a serious musician or not.

I paired Screamin’ Jay, who was born in Cleveland, with a delicious beer that was too. Great Lakes Brewing puts out their Nosferatu imperial red ale, which is a nice change to see amongst all the pumpkin-heavy beers this time of year.

Single And A Pint: Dance, Charlatan!/ST Hop Sun

Single And A Pint pairs a new song with a new beer I’ve recently tried.
This week is a single which I’m pretty familiar with, from a band I know well from the area, Dance, Charlatan!. Kyle, Mark, and Pete make up the indie rock trio from Wallingford, Connecticut and did a little Q&A with me. Check out their song below and then see what they have to say about upcoming shows and their favorite craft beer!
THE SONG: “Held At Bay”, Dance, Charlatan!
THE BEER: Hop Sun- Southern Tier Brewing Company
Picture taken by Now Beer This at Now That’s Class, Cleveland OH.
I’ve been looking for Southern Tier’s Hop Sun all summer(not that hard, mind you), and only found it on Labor Day weekend, generally the last party weekend of summer. It’s a wheat beer, but it has enough hop flavor on the finish to attract someone like myself who often shies away from sweet-tasting wheat beers. Crisp and lemony, I do wish I had tried this beer with more summer weather to spare. I drank this one from a bottle at a punk rock club where I didn’t want to risk breaking glassware, so I can’t comment on this brew’s appearance.
As far as a pairing goes, Hop Sun would definitely pair well with seeing Dance, Charlatan! live. They have a ton of energy on stage that radiates into the crowd, and new audience members are often left pleasantly surprised at what they just heard. In that way, I was pleasantly surprised with this beer, and it’s light enough to go with a set of dancing!

You have released a single, “Held At Bay”. When can we expect an EP or full-length album from you guys?

Soon! We’re going back into the studio as soon as possible. We hope to have an EP out in autumn.
Where did you do the recording for this single?
The single was actually recorded at a church/recording studio in Trumbull, CT. The drums were tracked in the room where the sermons take place. It was weird. But it was mixed and mastered at Adorea Studios in Hamden. Where we’re planning on recording our next project.
Photo from Dance, Charlatan’s Facebook.
I know you guys are all pretty busy, but what is the likelihood for a future tour?
We would love to plan a tour eventually to promote this EP. It’s just a matter of finding the right time and another band to join us. Definitely not ruling it out.
You guys have recently played at some local craft beer bars, specifically The Outer Space and Knuckleheads. What’s the Dance, Charlatan craft beer of choice?
Kyle: I’ve been really into the Coffeehouse Porter by BBC lately.
Mark: I’m really into 668, but I got my hands on some Ghandi Bot last night and it was beautiful.
Peter J: Yin Stout by Evil Twin Brewing.
If you could sit down and have a beer with any musician who would it be?
Kyle: Tough question. I’d like to have a beer with Debbie Harry from Blondie. She seems fun.
Mark: Hmm. I’m thinking Yannis Philippakis of Foals. Seems like pretty a cool dude.
Peter J: Dave Grohl. He’s out of his mind in the best way and he’s a huge influence.
What does Dance Charlatan mean anyway?

It doesn’t really mean anything in particular. We really liked the word “charlatan”. It means an impostor or a swindler. Then we thought we should give that charlatan a command. And what’s better than dancing?

I can’t think of a better response than that. You can find out where to dance to the Charlatan by following them on Facebook and Twitter

Nerding Out With W00tStout

Basically, if you want something to be cool, pair it with a beer. I think that’s the point of this blog. Even things that explicitly exude nerdiness get cool when they collaborate with a beer. Case in point, the latest from Stone Brewing Company, the Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout.

“Oh, you love the thing that I love? Let’s love it together!”

-Wil Wheaton

I tried it on draft this weekend at the Outer Space. It’s probably not the beer of choice to drink at 2 in the afternoon, but it needed to be tested and time was of the essence. I was thrown off by the “partially aged” description. Upon research, I learned that one quarter of the batch was aged in bourbon barrels. So the beer did not have such an intense bourbon flavor, which was just right since there were so many different flavors at work.

It pours the color of dark chocolate, with a short, deep tan head. It is nutty, from the pecans that it is brewed with. Slightly sweet, mildly toasty. Although I had it on draft, I would be interested to pick up a few bottles for aging.

At 13% ABV it’s a bit of a monster. Fellow Outer Space drinker Sean C. says, “W00tstout is a destroyer. I think that is the strongest beer I’ve ever had.”

Wil Wheaton is best known for his role on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He is also a fellow blogger whose musings you can check out here.

Drew Curtis created the website which provides weird, funny, and interesting news from around the Internet daily.

What would I pair this brew with? Well, I would probably have to say one of my favorite bands, Rush. Like Stone, Rush has been putting out solid material for years. Like Wil Wheaton and Fark, Rush has definitely developed a strong following in the “geek” community (I’m putting it in parenthesis because I really mean the AWESOME community). In the end though, craft beer lovers come from all walks of life and personalities. The more people that practice good beer-drinking habits the better it’ll be for everyone else, so drink up, and try the w00tstout if you see it on draft or in a bottle.

REVIEW: Mark Mulcahy “Dear Mark J. Mulcahy I Love You”/Elm City Pilsner

I like to focus the spotlight on local music and beers whenever possible. This week’s review is a record I love lately, from Mark Mulcahy, who was a prominent figure in the New Haven music scene in the 80s and 90s.

THE RECORD: Mark Mulcahy- Dear Mark J. Mulcahy I Love You– Mezzotint 2013

Dear Mark J. Mulcahy I Love You is the songwriter’s first record in 8 years, with his last LP being 2005’s Love Is The Only Thing That Shuts Me Up. I was thrilled to hear that Mulcahy was making new music again. Although many of my older friends from the New Haven area knew him personally, my first memories of his music are from Polaris, as the soundtrack to the Nickelodeon show The Adventures Of Pete And Pete. It was one of those shows that was created for children, but had an appeal to young and old alike. I think that the same can be said for Mark Mulcahy’s music. While I know his music differently than people who are older than me, there is a similar feeling for it that we share.

The record’s first single, “She Makes The World Turn Backwards” has some gang vocals that make me think of what I’ll be doing when I see him live in a few weeks at the Spaceland Ballroom.

I love the ridiculous little things at the beginnings of songs too. “Let The Fireflies Fly Away” starts off with Mark complaining to a waiter about a frog in his soup. I like the beginning of “He’s A Magnet” as well, with the “Oh yeah!” which for some reason just sounds a little silly and fun.

“My Rose Colored Friend” is one of my favorite tracks on the CD. The harmonies on “all he wants is a straight story from somebody” are so warm and summery, that make it feel like you’re listening through a pair of rose-colored headphones. I love the lyric, “You’re my rose colored friend- I see everything through you”.

“Bailing Out On Everything Again” has some of my favorite lyrics as well, such as “I’ve fallen in love with things I hated”. Musically it features synth-keyboards on it, which with the reverb on the vocals, are almost reminiscent of being at a carnival. Although the record has a lot of simplicity in its guitar and drum prevalence, I like the other orchestration in it as well.

To me, this record harkens more to my favorite solo-Mulcahy LPs, 1997’s Fathering and 2001’s Smilesunset. Lead by jangly guitars and drums, I Love You is a wonderful pop record, just in time for listening to while sitting outside on the porch. Maybe a better description, for myself at least, would be that this is a grown-up answer to the musical adventures I had as a kid listening to Polaris and Music From The Adventures Of Pete And Pete.

THE BEER: New England Brewing Co.- Elm City Pilsner

Pours a golden yellow color with a thick, frothy head. It’s definitely easy to pour this one a little too strong and have it overflow. Once it settles though, it’s a nice looking beer if you’re drinking out of a pilsner glass. It’s just as good out of a can though, which is a quality that New England Brewing Company does with most of their beers. It’s really nice to be able to take such delicious beers on the beach or in venues that don’t allow glass.

All the ingredients are German, so it has a lot of qualities of a traditional pilsner, such as pilsner malts and Hallertaur hops.

It’s a tasty, session beer at 5% ABV. Definitely a lawnmower beer, super refreshing after a day spent working outside.


I wanted to choose a local beer for this pairing, which is not an easy task. As proud as I am of the huge growth of craft breweries in Connecticut lately, I must admit that I do not love all of the beers that I taste. However, I do know their is hope since new breweries are popping up all the time, as older ones are perfecting the craft. Anyway, I chose the Elm City Pilsner for this pairing. The beer’s name comes from the nickname of the city of New Haven, and I thought it would be a perfect pairing with a musician who is so well-loved in the Elm City.

The light beer goes well with this light-hearted pop record. Want to pair it for yourself? The Outer Space will be serving it up, along with over 70 other delicious craft beers, when Mark Mulcahy plays the Spaceland Ballroom on July 10th. I am really looking forward to this show, as it showcases a two other groups of musicians from New Haven as well, the Mountain Movers and the Backyard Committee. Jounce will also be playing, which features Danny Tamberelli, who starred on the show that made me and the rest of America love Polaris, The Adventures Of Pete And Pete. Click the flyer for ticket info!

REVIEW: Blood Ceremony “The Eldritch Dark”/ Wychwood Hobgoblin

THE RECORD: Blood Ceremony- The Eldritch Dark- Metal Blade 2013


One of my very dear friends got me into this band over the weekend and I am so glad he did.

The female lead vocals from Alia O’Brien give a refreshing contrast to the heavier riffs, but are definitely powerful. It kind of creates the imagery of a witch singing spells, to go along with the subject matter of the songs. I keep forgetting I’m not listening to Jethro Tull record at some points, but it’s not a bad thing.

“Faunus” is about the Roman god of the forest, plains, and field. In Greek mythology, he is Pan, the flute-playing satyr of the wild. Flute-playing? Sounds like a Tull reference to me. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

“Goodbye Gemini” starts off with a beautiful, soft flute before it takes off with a very rockin’ riff, and moves into a guitar-driven chorus with lyrics about sorcery.

The title track “The Eldritch Dark” has a very prominent organ part in it, which gives the song a very grand sound to it. It also has some awesome guitar riffs as well, which add a lot of fun to the grandeur of it.

They toured in 2009 with Electric Wizard, another metal band that pays homage to HP Lovecraft and black magic. They also have a strong female in the band, in guitarist Liz Buckingham. It’s always nice to see more women in the metal world, but especially so in the darker, doomy, stoner-metal bands that I love so very much.

One thing I do have to admit- with a name like Blood Ceremony, I did expect this band to be harder. But they are nonetheless dark in their lyrics, and definitely not short on rock.

THE BREW: Wychwood Hobgoblin- Oxfordshire, UK


I wish I could find more Wychwood beers around my area because I have really enjoyed the two styles I have tried. I also think their packaging is really great as well. I especially like the fantasy-based artwork on the labels, as well as their flying witch logo.

The beer I picked for this review is Wychwood’s most-brewed beer- Hobgoblin. This beer is an ESB, one of my favorite styles that I feel like I don’t see as often as I like. It’s dark and slightly sweet on the finish, with strong tastes of caramel malt.

They call it a “strong dark ale”, but at 5.2% it’s just slightly over the cusp of being a session beer. I don’t really care about the semantics in this case, though. I simply think it is a delicious beer. I love that for a beer with somewhat low ABV, it’s also a bit heavier, and has plenty of flavor. The slogan for this beer says it all: “What’s the matter Lagerboy, afraid you might taste something?”


Although Blood Ceremony is from Canada, they definitely channel all the best parts of Bedfordshire’s Jethro Tull. Therefore, I thought it fitting to choose a British beer to go along with it. The fantasy and mythology that is Wychwood Brewing’s claim to fame goes along great with The Eldritch Dark.

If you need any more persuasion, the first song on the record is even called “Witchwood”, albeit with a different spelling. I had to pair them!

They are currently on tour in support of Kylesa, with White Hills and Lazer/Wulf.

REVIEW: Ghost “Infestissumam”/CBC Sgt. Pepper Farmhouse Ale

THE RECORD: Ghost B.C. Infestissumam 2013 Loma Vista Recordings

File:Ghost - infestissumam cover.jpg

The Ghost abides. Sure, some people might seem skeptical of a band that is mostly anonymous and wears hooded clergy-style robes on stage. Maybe it’s a gimmick, maybe it’s campy, but I love the ridiculousness of it. After Opus Eponymous came out in 2011, I wondered how the band would top it. Luckily I did not have to wait long, and 2013 has brought Ghost’s second full-length record, Infestissumam.

The title and first track starts off almost as a Gregorian chant, with a choir of vocals that would not sound strange in a large gothic cathedral. Soon, the wail of guitars comes in and the familiarity of the previous record comes in.

Carnival-sounding organs are found on several tracks on this record, including track two, “Per Aspera Ad Inferi” and the single “Secular Haze”.

In some ways, Infestissumam is not as heavy as Ghost’s previous record, but it’s definitely not any less awesome. I get a psychedelic vibe from it, which is especially prominent on the 7+ minute rocker “Gheleh/Zombie Queen”. Reminds me of a few obscure, experimental records from the 60s I probably have floating around somewhere.

and of course, there’s plenty of Satanic references to be found on this record. Single “Year Zero” namechecks a variety of monikers for the Dark Lord himself with the opening lines,

“Belial, Behemoth, Beelzebub,
Asmodeus, Satanas, Lucifer”

The video for this song is pretty awesome, albeit not safe for work. It features some interesting and artistic shots, as well as a good amount of nudity. I actually had trouble finding an uncensored version on Youtube, so you can check it out on Metal Insider after the jump below.

>year zeroI love that the band maintains their anonymity as well, with the band members only known as Nameless Ghouls and dressed in robes, and the lead singer going by the name of Papa Emeritus II and donning pope regalia. Papa even campaigned for Pope this year. I voted for him, of course, and the “Clergy” thanked me for my participation in the papal enclave. Speaking of the Clergy, their Facebook posts are worth checking out as well, specifically the way they thank audiences (“Children of ____”) for a great show (“worship”).

All in all, Ghost continues to be an incredibly fun band to listen to, and this record does not disappoint for sure.

THE BREW: Cambridge Brewing Company Sgt. Pepper- Cambridge, MA

What a crazy beer. I tried this for the first time last week and was blown away by it. The first taste is entirely different from the taste that you get after you’ve been sitting on it for awhile. The initial taste is refreshing and lightly malty.The flavor you get at the end of the bottle or pint is downright spicy, verging on uncomfortable depending on your tolerance for that sort of thing. It pours a dark amber-gold out of the bottle and has a very dry mouthfeel.

This beer is brewed with four different types of peppercorns; black, green, white, and pink. All of those different peppers have very specific flavors on their own. When added to the pot of Pilsner, CaraVienne, and Rye malts, with Magnum and Spalter hops, it produces a very unique result.


Like Ghost, some might think this beer is taking flavors a bit too far, and perhaps a gimmick. However, also like Ghost, this beer manages to pull it off because it is well done. This is a great example of the farmhouse style, and for someone like myself who is fairly picky about saisons (and metal to be honest), I think it is a great one.

I suppose I could go out on a limb and say that the spicy heat from the pink peppercorns on the finish is similar to the fire and brimstone of Beelzebub’s backyard, but I won’t.

Plus, the label on the bottle automatically makes a it a wonderful pairing with a record. It has a turntable surrounded by psychedelic orange and pink flowers on it, which is sounds the setting of where I’ll be playing the copy of Infestissimum that came in the mail recently! On blood red translucent vinyl, of course.

Ghost had added additional tour dates for the summer, including one in Connecticut, which will take place Saturday, July 27 at the Webster Theater in Hartford. An added bonus? Skeletonwitch will be opening up for them! Click here for tickets.

REVIEW: Volbeat “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies”/Shiner Bock

Volbeat comes from Copenhagen, Denmark, but I think their sound is straight out of a Texas rockabilly bar, with some very metal guitar work. Makes sense, since former Anthrax member Rob Caggiano is now in the band and produced their latest record.

THE RECORD: Volbeat Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies 2013 Universal

File:Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies Album Cover.jpg

I think this record definitely has appeal with a variety of music lovers, from punk rockers to metal heads, even Metallica, whom the band opened for when they came to Denmark a few years ago.

“Room 24” is probably one of the heaviest tracks on the record. As it should, since it features vocals from King Diamond. The guitar work is absolutely face-melting on this one and the drums sound like a stampede. However, a few songs later is a surprising cover of Young the Giant’s “My Body”. Even if you’re not into the original, Volbeat’s version is pretty awesome. Michael Poulsen’s soaring vocals take this cover to a different, heavier level that rocks pretty hard.

“Lonesome Rider” is a total rockabilly treat, and features vocals from English singer-songwriter Sarah Blackwood. The contrasting male-female vocals work really well in this song, and kind of exemplify the title of the album.

“Doc Holliday” similarly starts off with a western-swing-sounding guitar that gives it a folk vibe, but then they turn up the badass a bit and it gets a lot heavier.

All the punk rock hooks give each of the tracks a certain catchiness and make Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies an incredibly fun record.

THE BREW: Shiner Bock- Spoetzl Brewery- Shiner, TX

I’ve heard a lot of reviews of this beer which say it’s overrated, but I disagree. It’s not trying to be anything crazy, it’s just a simple, good-tasting bock that’s available all year round. For a bock, it’s fairly light in color. Some sweetness, a little bit of caramel. A light head when you pour it into a glass that doesn’t linger too long. Certainly not as heavy as the classic German bocks, but then again, you can’t necessarily drink 3 or 4 of them in a row comfortably either.

THE PAIRING: This album calls for an easy to drink and easily accessible beer. Shiner Bock isn’t outstanding, but it’s definitely easy to find depending on what state you’re in, and certainly easy to drink. With a 4.4% ABV, it’s a session beer that you can have a few of if you’re seeing Volbeat live or listening to the album a couple times.

REVIEW: Clutch “Earth Rocker”/ Sierra Nevada Blindfold

I’m always excited when I can post a review that you can check out live shortly after! Clutch will be playing in New Haven at Toad’s Place this month with Orange Goblin, and you can bet that you’ll hear some gems off their new record, Earth Rocker.

THE RECORD: Clutch- Earth Rocker- 2013 Weathermaker Music

I guess touring with Motorhead can do certain things to you. While I can’t say for certain if the guys in Clutch are downing a fifth of Jack Daniels a day, they did put out another fantastic record.lemmy

Okay. So Earth Rocker is not much unlike Clutch’s other records. But with a band that’s the epitome of maximum rock and roll, consistency isn’t a bad thing. This record sounds especially tight. It was produced by Machine, who has worked with Clutch in the past on  2004’s Blast Tyrant. He’s also worked with artists ranging from Shootyz Groove to Lamb Of God.

Title track “Earth Rocker” gets things started, but the second track “Crucial Velocity” really exemplifies what to expect on this record. A chorus hook you can yell along with, and plenty of head-banger-worthy riffs. “DC Sound Attack” takes off with that characteristic-Clutch harmonica and keeps it moving with a pounding beat on the bell of the cymbal.

Vocalist Neil Fallon put it best when he described the album’s “LP” length:

“I think there’s something to be said about the fact that you’ve got a side A and side B, and it still translates when you listen to those albums on CD. Whether you’re listening to Paranoid or Dark Side of The Moon, when you listen to the tracks one through ten, there’s a bit of a plot arc. I think we were cognizant of that when we were putting this thing together.”

Since this is an analog beer blog after all, I couldn’t agree more.

I think this is also the coolest album artwork they’ve had on a record as well. With a futuristic-looking totem, it exemplifies that the band is rocking into the future while maintaining their familiar sound.

Clutch and myself both turn 25 this year, and I can only hope that I’ve rocked half as much in my quarter-century of being alive as they have as a band.

THE BREW: Sierra Nevada Blindfold Black IPA- Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, CA

This is apparently a Beer Camp beer, and although I wasn’t there this year to give it a run for its money, I have to give these campers props. It’s a super solid IPA. It pours a deep black-brown with a fluffy head. I drank it out of a chalice so I think it looked especially nice, although it looks perfectly fine in a shaker pint too. Black IPAs rock because I often find them to be easy drinking while still maintaining a lot of flavor. With an ABV of around 7%, it’s no session ale, but it’s very certainly a very drinkable bang for your buck.


Although Clutch does in fact have their own beer, I have not tried it yet. So I’ll be pairing it with Sierra Nevada’s newest IPA, Blindfold. It’s dark and can rock with the most metal of us, but it’s got a sweeter, delicious side too that draws you in like Clutch’s harmonica-driven hooks.

If you want a solid IPA, go Sierra Nevada. If you want solid rock and roll, go Clutch.

And as Clutch says, “If you’re gonna do it, do it live!” I think so too, and I’ll be at there show on April 16th. Get your tickets at the Toad’s Place box office or online.

REVIEW: Kvelertak “Meir”/Sixpoint 3Beans

I’ve been looking forward to writing this review for awhile now. I got into Kvelertak a few years ago when their first self-titled record came out and I fell in love with them. Now they have a new one out and they’re back to melt some faces!

THE RECORD: Kvelertak Meir Roadrunner Records 2013

Wow, just wow. Oh wait- before you put this record on, you might want to get a better look at the artwork. If it looks familiar, it’s another stunning piece from the wonderful John Dyer Baizley, the painter who is also the vocalist and rhythm guitarist of Baroness. It’s not just in the artwork that Kvelertak collaborates with a prominent member of the metal community; Meir was produced by Converge’s Kurt Ballou, whom the band toured with last fall.

Kvelertak is one of the most fun metal bands in my book and their latest release does not disappoint. The album opens with “Apenbaring” that has a killer riff that starts off a little slower, but quickly brings in the vocals with full force. The fast, blast-beat punctuated tempo continues to go strong in “Spring Fra Livet”. The songwriting is something just about everyone, or at least everyone reading this beer blog, can relate to- being hungover and “getting your ass home” as frontman Erlend Hjelvik puts it. The title translates to “run for your life” in Norwegian, and I’m not sure if they were thinking of “Run To the Hills” by Iron Maiden while writing it, but I can’t help wonder if it crossed their minds.

“Bruane Brenn” has got more upbeat rock and roll aspects to it, while still maintaining that punch-to-the-gut feeling found when the double bass pedal kicks in. There is a video for this song as well which you can see below- and features child-versions of all the band members.

They even named a song after themselves on this record. “Kvelertak” is the last track on the record and keeps it slow and heavy for the end. The last few seconds end it abruptly, which only make you hungry for more.

Every song is hook-laden, whether it’s a chorus or a riff, or something else that will get stuck in your head all day. The lyrics are again all sung in Norwegian, but it definitely has yet to stop me from singing along anyway.

The sound of this record is not much different from the previous one, but in this case, that’s a great thing. Now that they’re on Roadrunner Records, this record will definitely grab the attention of people that might not have been on the radar of the first one.

THE BREW: 3Beans Coffee Porter- Sixpoint Brewing- Brooklyn, NY

I think coffee and beer have a lot in common, actually. The way the senses all come into play to discover the taste profile and different aromas involved work similarly when tasting beer and coffee. So I’ve found coffee beers to be among the most complex of styles. That said, Sixpoint has a really winner with this one. Some may argue, but I love that their beers are in cans. They’re different than your average tallboys too- the can itself is skinny, and I think that really works well for 3Beans in particular since it brings to mind caffeine or coffee drinks that might come in the smaller, skinny can.

It’s a big beer, ABV-wise, at 10%. However, it’s incredibly smooth. I have generally drank this beer more often from the can than on draft. But it pours like a cup of black coffee, with a thin, cream-colored head. Smells like your favorite coffee shop first thing in the morning. Subtle carbonation, it’s definitely a nice end-of-the-night beer to enjoy, although I think it’s perfectly drinkable any time.


To be honest, my dream pairing with this record would be with Kvelerbrau, a one-time beer that was made for the band for a show they did in Vienna. But since it seems that I won’t be able to drink it anytime soon, I went for the delicious 3Beans. Like Kvelertak, Sixpoint is a fairly new (formed in 2004) brewery that’s doing big things quickly. The fact that they brew in cans makes their beers easily accessible and much safer to consume at a metal show. I broke my nose last time I saw Kvelertak but I’m certainly happy that it was not from getting hit in the face with a pint glass.

It’s an easy beer to drink, but definitely packs a punch from the high ABV. I think that describes Kvelertak pretty well too- catchy hooks that are easy to get in to, but with a heavy, in-your-face quality.

The band will be touring this spring with the Cancer Bats and Black Tusk, which is going to rule. Check our tourdates here.