I, VOIDHANGER RECORDS
PRESENTS







 



CHOWDER
PASSION RIFT
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FORMAT:
CD    CATALOG N. IVR-011

1.  Mysterioid  (02:47)

2.  The Innsmouth Look 
(03:42)
3.  Salt Creep 
(04:56)
4.  Passion Rift 
(18:18)
5.  Insidious 
(04:40)
6.  Head Full Of Rats 
(01:40)
7.  Mazuku 
(03:31)
8.  Custody 
(11:00)

Total time 50:34

Josh Hart : 6 and 12 string guitars, synthesizers, mellotron, theremin
Doug Williams : bass guitars, taurus pedals, electric cello
Chad Rush : drums

CD in jewelcase with 8-page booklet. Released June 26th, 2012

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CHOWDER is the amazing creature of Josh Hart, a true veteran of Maryland's doom metal scene, having played bass with seminal bands like Asylum, Unorthodox, Revelation, and - more recently - Earthride. With him, the acrobatic rhythm section of Doug Williams and Chad Rush. For CHOWDER, Josh Hart has switched to guitar and keys, with which he writes and plays twisted, dark riffs of doom with a progressive approach.
After the eponymous debut EP produced by John Brenner of Revelation, CHOWDER are ready to take the doom metal scene by storm with "Passion Rift", their first and all-instrumental album.

A rollercoaster of deep emotions and dark Lovecraftian visions played with sublime technique to please those into The Obsessed, The Hidden Hand, Revelation and the most adventurous sounds of doom. The sleeper has awakened...
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AVAILABLE NOW AT OUR STORE

 



AN OVERVIEW
BY JOHN BRENNER OF REVELATION

Since 1992, guitarist Josh Hart and drummer Chad Rush have been writing Chowder’s music, bringing together their early exposure to doom metal, progressive rock, and hardcore. Although he originally played bass in Maryland metal bands Revelation and Unorthodox, Hart took to the guitar for writing his own material. Once original bassist Joe Ruthvin left the band for MD doom stalwarts Earthride, Chowder remained in limbo until finding bassist Doug Williams. Doug came to Chowder from the hardcore scene's Next Step Up, a band that would feature at different times all three current members of Chowder. The band recorded demos in the 90s, but it wasn’t until 2007 that Chowder recorded their debut EP, released on Bland Hand Records.

Immediately after recording the EP, Chowder’s ambitions broadened and deepened. Taking their unique vision even further, they wrote a new song, titled “Passion Rift,” which would become the epic title cut for their first full-length album.
Nearly two years in the making, “Passion Rift” encompasses everything that makes Chowder a great band: off-kilter arrangements, abrupt time-changes, memorable melodies, creepy dissonances, top-notch songwriting, performances, and arrangements, and a true passion for making heavy music. Tastefully strewn throughout the record are analog and digital keyboards, cello, and various samples and sound effects, giving a texture to the songs that grows more rewarding with each listen.

Songs such as “The Innsmouth Look” and “Head Full of Rats,” with their forward-rushing, unrelenting progressive metal, sit next to atmospheric pieces such as “Mazuku” and “Mysterioid,” in a mix part hardcore, part Lovecraft, and part autobiography. And then there is the epic title cut “Passion Rift,” as big in its scope as “Hemispheres” (Rush), a journey through a landscape at times peaceful, tense, melancholic, aggressive, and nightmarish. This is music that communicates something important, and it does so without lyrics or vocals.

Born in hardcore, bred on metal, and nourished by prog, Chowder’s all-instrumental music allows Josh’s precision arrangements and heavy guitar playing, Chad’s technical yet propulsive drumming, and Doug’s deep bass anchoring to rattle walls and turn heads.

 

        






 


 
THE INNSMOUTH LOOK
 

 HEAD FULL OF RATS



 

        

                                       







PASSION RIFT  (I, Voidhanger Records - 2012)
CHOWDER -
EP (Bland Hand Records - 2007)

 

        









CHRONICLES OF CHAOS
Review by Chaim Drishner

There's almost nothing more pretentious in the realm of modern music than to record an all-instrumental album. Nowadays, the attention span of the habitual listener is so short that one has to record something virtually mind-blowing in order to make a human actually listen carefully. The problem only amplifies when it comes to heavy metal music and its end consumers, who are, more often than not, people of younger ages; the technologically obsessed, brain-washed, hollow-eyed, stimulation-addicted people of today's iGeneration.
I'm not sure how much an album such as _Passion Rift_ would appeal to the above mentioned humanoids, but if you're not affiliated with them, chances are you're going to love it. That is, of course, if slow-paced, aggression-free, stoner metal is your cup of poison. Chowder strips down stoner rock/metal, freeing it from any charade or costume, and focuses on powerful, hazy, southern-drenched redneck doom metal with an abundance of interesting ideas.
At times almost improvisational, jazz-oriented structureless structures, the music is surprisingly dynamic. The keyboards add a certain mystique to the rhythm guitar oriented body of music and the drums are monstrously loud and vivid.
_Passion Rift_ is a fine album to listen to either as background music or as a contemplative tool of sorts. It does offer some odd, fresh and bold melodies that are a welcome addition to the stagnating pool of conservative -- if not orthodox -- world of underground metal. This bold album offers a daring, exceptional and rewarding listening experience. Alien and unique, even dark at times, _Passion Rift_ has its own color and its very own, singular voice. Bolder still is I, Voidhanger Records, a label with big enough a pair of balls to dare and release an album that, according to today's standards, is virtually a commercial suicide.
Think of Rush playing sort of progressive, instrumental stoner doom metal with an inherently mysterious, wretched vibe, and it would not be too far removed from the truth. Or better yet, think of Earth's _The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull_; if you liked that album, there's a good chance you would love _Passion Rift_.
Anyone seeking something good yet different in the current state of affairs, underground or otherwise: I'd strongly suggest you give this album a try. It's at least as good, if not much better, than the plethora of drone/sludge/stoner mumbo jumbo offered by too many clueless musicians. If you have ever thought stoner/doom metal has nothing more to offer to the world, _Passion Rift_ will most likely change your mind.
[7 out of 10]

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COSMIC LAVA
Review by The Klaus Kleinowski

For a while it looked as if 'Passion Rift' had never been released due to several reasons, but luckily I, Voidhanger Records has realised that it would be a shame if CHOWDER's debut album would fall into oblivion. I see it the same way, because from the moment when guitarist Josh Hart (Earthride, ex-Unorthodox, ex-Revelation) had sent me the rough mixes of 'Passion Rift' it was quite clear to me that this album must see the light of day. But basically, I dig CHOWDER since the 2007 release of the self-titled MCD (review here). This is because my interest for the Maryland heavy rock/doom scene does not decrease, because still I think it's the most fertile ground for heavy music. This statement is substantiated by 'Passion Rift' that is riddled with creativity, musical enthusiasm and technical finesse.
CHOWDER combine progressive rock with doom and heavy rock, but that's not all. Due to Josh Hart's past (if you want to know more, here's an interview with him) there's also a bit of hardcore in the mix which provides additional energy. The amply use of synthesizers, Mellotron and others effects imbues the whole with a magic that is lyrical, mysterious, and passionate by turns. 'Passion Rift' features eight tracks whereby the 18 minutes long title track is the centerpiece of this album. In particular the first part of this track is very strongly reminiscent of Josh Hart's former bands Revelation and Unorthodox which is not a bad thing. But also in other areas one notices that an album like this can only come from Maryland. Despite the technical tricks, 'Passion Rift' is warm-hearted, emotional and easily accessible, mainly because of Josh Hart's virtous performance. Vocals are not necessary because CHOWDER manage to transport plenty of different feelings with their instruments.
Doug Williams is an incredibly gifted bass player who is able to play any style with conviction, but drummer Chad Rush (the last name says it all) is well-versed too. Too bad, that both left CHOWDER. Fortunately, they have been replaced by two veterans of the Maryland scene: drummer Ron Kalimon (The Well, Asylum, Unorthodox, ex-Iron Man, ex-Internal Void) as well as guitarist John Brenner (Revelation, Against Nature). Any questions? It only remains to hope that the new CHOWDER lineup will record another full-length, because that would be more than fantastic. Finally, I want to mention that the album has been produced by Josh Hart and John Brenner who, in my view, have done some excellent work on 'Passion Rift' just like James Plotkin, who is responsible for the mastering. Overall, it's a magical album, never missing a beat, almost supernatural in its cohesion and musicality, fitting in with the burgeoning heavy progressive genre but also carving a niche of its own. And if you dig the heavy bands from Maryland like me, then it's a must!

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THE SLUDGE LORD
Review by The Sludge Lord

Chowder are a superb and quite rare Doom Metal Band. They are purely instrumental that blends Psych Rock, Prog Rock and Doom Metal to highly original effect.
Chowder have been around a long time. Since 1992 and they have finally got round into releasing their brilliant debut album – Passion Rift. An 8 song and 52 minute mind expanding Doom Metal trippy odyssey that pays homage to great bands past and present. Mainly Sabbath and Rush.
The talent behind Chowder is not in doubt as they feature Josh Hart from ace doomsters – Earthride. This is a band who have taken a very long time to release their longly awaited debut album.
Has it been worth the wait? Fuck Yeah. It has. This is an album I can’t praise highly enough. It’s an original slice of Doom Metal Brilliance that is very hard to ignore.
Passion Rift has been getting praise all over the place and it’s not hard to see why. It just flat out rocks from the start with the high amount of riffs it has up its sleeve.
Mysteriod and InnsmouthLook set the scene up for this very cool and spooky album that has a very cool Jazz/Experimental feel. It’s not Jazz Music per se just it has the progression of an experimental jazz song.
But back to Doom Metal territory. If you’re a fan of Rush then your going to love it as Chowder are very big Rush fans from the sounds of it. But do it in their own unique style.
Chowder is a band full of amazing musicians. All each playing their part in delivering a beautiful blast of Instrumental Doom Metal. It really is quite refreshing to hear a band trying to do something different and succeeding. And Chowder do this from the word go.
It’s brilliantly produced to show the band’s talents to perfection. Especially on the 18 minute plus title track – Passion Rift. All I can say about this track is – WOW and WOW. This track is what takes the album into classic realm territory. It starts with a cool Rush/Mastodon type riff but give it a minute or so before it explodes into a life of it’s own.
For this track just put your volume up full blast, Sit back and get ready for a wild ride that only Chowder can deliver. Other great tracks to check out are – Head Full Of Rats, Insidious and the sublime 11 minute epic – Custody.
Look I can go on and on telling you how brilliant this album is. If you want more evidence just check the outstanding reviews all over the net. This is an album that is pushing all the right buttons and should confirm Chowder as one of best Instrumental Rock bands out there regardless of any genre.
This is a perfect introduction to this brilliant band and I urge you all to check them out now.
Amazing and Highly Recommended.

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SATAN OWES US MONEY
Review by
Gulo Gulo

Amis de l'anguleux, comptez-vous ! Les ceusses qui gardent toujours malgré leur propre grimace de réaction un petit quelque chose de spécialement affectueux, ou un chien de leur chienne, pour les disgrâces cavalclaudicantes de Trephine, Loincloth et Tarantula Hawk, autorisez-vous un entrechat de gaieté. Lovecraft, ce n'est pas nécessairement - oh, j'aime beaucoup beaucoup Tyranny, Evoken et Aarni, n'allez pas vous méprendre - mais ça n'est pas que pachydermisme visqueux, couleurs tombées de cieux et réverbérances impossibles. Chowder redonne la parole  aux parquets qui craquent et à la pénombre qui se niche entre leurs lattes ricanantes, aux horloges qui grincent de malveillance, à la poussière dans les rideaux balourds et hors de proportions, à l'aigre et à l'âcre. A la manière de Necrovation, récemment, plus crânement et dans un genre autrement plus kermesse aux ciseaux, Chowder affiche sur ses traits, avec la modeste application qu'on est en droit d'attendre d'un artisan ébéniste qui joue dans Earthride et Revelation, la noblesse évanescente des dégingandements non-euclidiens et de la filandre métaphysique, fait honneur en somme à Erich Zann et à sa démente scie, traduite ici sous les doucereux dehors d'un vieux rock progressifumiste aux étranges lumières d'été de par-delà les antipodes du cosmos, qui fait miel les pluies les plus aigrelettes de riffs caprins autant que caillés pour la plus grande gloire de Pan - et rend accessoirement fou dans la plus grande et liquide béatitude à bandana, bien entendu. Parce que, n'est-ce pas, Lovecraft c'est aussi le cauchemardesque ravissement pastoral venu de chez Machen, la menace insoutenable comme le miroitis d'un mirage - et les chiches mots de franche sinistrerie pour la toute fin, avant de claquer le couvercle de la boîte.

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METAL WAVE
Review by
Carnival Creation

Di difficile inquadratura musicale, “Passion Rift” del trio statunitense dei Chowder porta a compimento un lavoro eccezionalmente valido che andrebbe analizzato e vissuto più volte, specialmente per quanto riguarda gli amanti del Progressive Rock.
Uno stile veramente convincente fa il suo capolino fin dalla prima traccia, “Mysterioid”, surreale e da trip ma è con “Salt Creep” che la vera anima Prog inizia a venir fuori sempre e comunque immersa in un bagno di Sludge-Doom Metal mai violento e mai fine a se stesso.
Strutturalmente ci troviamo di fronte a qualcosa di molto ragionato e tecnicamente debitore anche di band come Tangerine Dream quanto ad atmosfere ma non me la sentirei di escludere i lavori più “easy listening” dei Coil.
La proposta musicale resta perennemente ancorata ad un Progressive Doom rigidamente strumentale, ricco di sperimentazioni a lunghissimo raggio frutto di una strumentazione d’eccezione: compaiono moog, theremin, taurus pedals, violoncello elettrico, sintetizzatori vecchia scuola e chitarre a 12 corde utilizzate in modo non inflazionato per un risultato che, a me personalmente, è parso più che interessante benché mi renda conto che tutto ciò è ben lungi dal poter essere considerato quantomeno commerciabile.
Tuttavia i nostri non sono certo gli ultimi arrivati e il prodotto che hanno confezionato possiede un suo valore, brilla rispetto alle tante release del genere pubblicate da artisti dei più disparati per cui non me la sento di sconsigliarvelo.
A buon intenditore poche parole. Potrebbe davvero piacervi se siete il tipo di persone che amano le sfide sonore.
[75 out of 100]

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THE RIPPLE EFFECT
Review by Swedebeast

5 years between two releases can be really damaging for a band especially if they are too dependent on ever-changing musical trends. For Baltimore's Chowder that is not a problem at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. They have made great progress from their excellent self-titled EP from 2007 and are simply going from strength to strength. Whereas the great EP was more of a rocking in-yer-face release Passion Rift expands and enhances Chowder's enormous talent and creativeness
The band is a three-piece and consists of Joshua Hart - guitars, synths, mellotron and theremin; Doug Williams - bass guitar, taurus pedals and cello; Chad Rush - drums and they play heavy, doomy,  technical, progressive, dark and instrumental rock. This mixture of styles, their ability to keep the songs well-structured AND rock out at the same time is what makes Chowder such a great band. Playing instrumental music is like walking on a fine line, it doesn't take much to make it sound overindulgent and pretentious. But when done right it is amazing and that is what Chowder are...amazing!
Chowder's creativeness both musically and literary is apparent already in the opener Mysterioid. They immediately embark on the journey through this horror story they have composed. The band use only electronic instruments on this one and that works perfectly in building up the eerie and frightful atmosphere Passion Rift conjurs and all I wait for is for Chtulhu to rise up and wipe me from the face of the Earth.
Next the band kicks into gear with Innsmouth Look, a doomy apocalyptic tune that excellently continues the rise of evil forces from the bottom of the ocean. I get the feel of being on a ship out at sea trying to get away from the horrors that are coming.
And this is how Passion Rift plays out. I'm alone on a vessel racing across a vast ocean from an unseen terror rising from the depths of the waters and it is quickly closing in on me. The songs takes me through all spectres of emotions this terror is putting on me; some are heavy and doomy dealing my anger and resilience against what's facing me; some are slow acoustic pieces depicting solitude and reflectiveness upon the impending doom. Others, like the title track, covers it all.
Chowder has with this album created a fantastic horror novel akin to anything H.P. Lovecraft ever wrote. Why is that? Well as I have already mentioned they take me as a listener through what feels like a perfect horror story. And many parts of their creation has a great Lovecraft-feel to them. After all, the second song, Innsmouth Look, is to me a direct reference to his fictional town called...Innsmouth.
However, I'm straying from the subject though my friends. In order to accomplish an album like Passion Rift you need technical prowess and song writing skills of the highest order. And Chowder have this in abundance. Chad Rush keeps it all together behind his drums and although he makes it sound so easy and simple, he plays some really difficult stuff and upon closer scrutiny he is a beast. Doug Williams backs him up excellently on the bass guitar but is not afraid to step out of the box and venture off on solo excursions and weird cool time signatures. And Josh Hart brings home this narration with amazing guitar playing and extremely well-executed synth work. How he makes it all work I don't know but he sure does a fantastic job!
If more bands could/ would make albums like this you could close down the movie business and discard audio books because Passion Rift surpasses just about any horror movie I have ever seen. And audio books seem redundant to me now. Why have someone read a novel when you can listen to this album and be affected a million times over without words??? People...Passion Rift is an amazing album and you are foolish not to buy it and listen to it and get taken away on the best musical and literary journey you have ever experienced!
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

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HEAVY WORLDS
Review by Giulio Valeri

I Chowder sono il nuovo progetto musicale di Josh Hart, figura di spicco del panorama doom americano in giro ormai da venticinque anni, e “Passion Rift” altro non è che il primo full-lenght di questo trio di Baltimora.
Dopo due brani di “riscaldamento” in cui si respirano riuscitissime atmosfere da B movie degli anni settanta e che hanno il compito di dare il benvenuto all'ascoltatore, Hart e soci iniziano a dimostrare realmente di che pasta sono fatti da “Salt Creep” in poi, iniziando a regalarci tutto quello che ha l'aria di essere un lavoro musicale coi fiocchi. Ascolteremo quindi soluzioni chitarristiche memori dei migliori Rush, che non smetteranno mai di essere rincorse da un prepotente e implacabile lavoro di basso. Il tutto è ulteriormente arricchito dal buon lavoro dietro le pelli di Chad Rush e dalla ricerca sonora resa possibile dalle tastiere, che viene a tradursi con sintetizzatori dal sapore fantascientifico, hammond, moog vari, e quegli archi dal suono vintage tanto cari agli Opeth. Ad ogni singolo strumento viene poi data l'opportunità di esibirsi in virtuosismi che finalmente non sembrano mai peccare di stucchevolezza o di uno sfoggio di tecnica del tutto gratuito, contribuendo così ad arricchire l'ottimo tessuto atmosferico senza snaturarlo.
L'intro del brano “Insidious” dimostra inoltre la voglia di non prendersi sul serio pur proponendo della musica di una certa profondità, altro chiaro elemento di maturità artistica che in questi ultimi tempi sembra esser andato perso nella maggior parte dei casi.
I Chowder non fanno certo rimpiangere le formazioni prog più gettonate appartenenti al passato, sia per qualità compositiva, sia per ricerca sonora, e vengono a rappresentare un'ottima scelta per tutti i nostalgici del prog che troppo spesso arrivano a lamentarsi di come il mercato odierno sia privo di realtà degne di nota, a volte per partito preso.
“Passion Rift” dimostra come questa formazione sia capace di coniugare il doom a soluzioni d'avanguardia, avendo ben presente la tradizione passata, senza che la loro proposta risulti paradossale o forzata, ma del tutto naturale e meritevole di attenzione.
Se siete di larghe vedute e non correte a gambe levate di fronte a un intero cd strumentale (è questo il caso del disco qui recensito), dove sono presenti anche tracce dal minutaggio piuttosto elevato, fareste meglio a non ignorare questa release. In caso contrario, non sapete cosa vi perdete...

[8 out of 10]

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THIS IS NOT A SCENE
Review by Chris Ward

Might be a short review this one.  Not due to any negative connotations but because Passion Rift, if you were to describe it to somebody who may not know what Chowder are all about, is basically an instrumental, stoner/doom album and when you’ve got no lyrical or vocal content to comment on then that’s pretty half of your usual output missing.
Like previously stated, that isn’t meant to be a negative comment or any way to water-down what Chowder have done here because this really is an album that speaks in other ways.  Thriving on dynamics and atmospherics the album opens with the relatively short ‘Mysteroid’, a trippy, spaced-out voyage through… something.  But whatever it’s supposed to mean the vibe is one of Hawkwind-style atmospherics before the crushing guitars of ‘The Innsmouth Look’ rev up and take you somewhere else.  Those electronic phaser pulses are still there but relegated to background noise as the chugging main riff and clattering drums contrast against the other effects going on as the track builds in dynamic layers.
But this is nothing compared to the gargantuan title track.  18 minutes of instrumental doom riffage that veers from other-worldly ambience to full-on metal intensity that seems to glide by on a flurry of perfectly executed time-changes that don’t ever take you out from the moment.
Not really an album for the uninitiated, Passion Rift is the perfect blend of technique and feel.  The raw and fuzzy production gives the impression of a garage-jam but once you get past that the progressive-style playing hooks you in even further, mixing loose psychedelics with some truly impressive technical flurries that bring to mind a myriad of modern quasi-prog metal such as Mastodon or latter-day Iron Maiden.
So, instrumental stoner/doom – you’ll either know by that description whether it’s for you or not.  But even if it doesn’t sound like your thing, at least give it a try because you might find something within its expansive soundscapes  that makes your ears perk up.
[7 out of 10]

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CROSSFIRE METAL
Review by Joxe Schaefer

Dieses Review beginnt mal mit einem Ritt auf dem Zeitstrahl. Vor zwanzig Jahren gründet sich in Maryland dieser Doombatzen. Basser Josh Hart, der von Bands wie Unorthodox, Earthride und Revelation bekannt sein dürfte, bringt es mit seinen Chowder erst in 2006/2007 zu einem Demo und einer Mini-CD. Im Jahre 2010 beginnt die Arbeit an einem Song namens „Passion Rift“, der letztenendes achtzehn Minuten lang wird und auch den Titel des Debütalbums stellt. Josh bedient bei Chowder die Gitarre und auch Synthesizer. Nach einem mystischen Intro ertönt „Innsmouth Look“, mit Einlagen von Synthies wie in alten Horrorfilmen. Ihr staubig trockener Instrumentalsound, vielleicht mit einem Touch Core, kommt experimentell bis proggig, findet auch Mellotron und E-Cello Verwendung. Bei dem dargebotenem Ideenreichtum fallen die vielen Wechsel im Tempo kaum auf. Der Dreier aus Baltimore schafft mit diesem Album, ohne Gesang für reichlich Abwechslung zu sorgen, und den Spannungsbogen aufrecht zu erhalten. Für dieses Album sollte man sich schon eine Tüte zeit nehmen, doch auch der oberflächliche Interessent wird erkennen, dass hier Tiefgründigkeit vorherrscht, die ergründet werden will.
[7 out of 10] 

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ARISTOCRAZIA
Review by Dope Fiend

All'interno della scena Doom, il nome di Josh Hart non è tra quelli totalmente sconosciuti: il polistrumentista americano è infatti colui che manovra il basso negli Earthride ed è stato in forza anche a formazioni come Revelation e Unorthodox.
Il progetto Chowder nasce nel 1992 ma è soltanto nel 2006 che debutta con un demo e un EP autotitolati per poi giungere, nel 2012, all'uscita del primo full, "Passion Rift".
Il nostro buon Josh, coadiuvato da Doug Williams al basso e Chad Rush dietro le pelli, questa volta si fa carico dell'utilizzo di chitarre, sintetizzatore, mellotron e theremin in questo album che la label nostrana I, Voidhanger ha saggiamente deciso di produrre.
L'apertura è affidata ai risvolti astrali ed onirici di "Mysterioid" che, con la sua inebriante aura ritualistica, ci trasporta in un altro mondo, nel mondo rarefatto e inquieto dei Chowder, un mondo in cui non potremo più utilizzare la realtà a cui siamo abituati come parametro di paragone.
Al pari di un caleidoscopio, il disco è estremamente sfaccettato e pezzi come "The Innsmouth Look", "Insidious" e "Head Full Of Rats" sono caratterizzati da un approccio devoto al versante più classico, oscuro e penetrante del Doom, il quale viene allungato con splendidi inserti lisergici; come avremo modo di comprendere, nonostante lo stile del trio rimanga sempre piuttosto "semplice", l'eclettismo compositivo è evidentemente una componente fondamentale nel songwriting del gruppo.
I momenti più particolari ed interessanti sono sicuramente rappresentati da "Salt Creep" (che pare avvalersi di un'anima decisamente vivace), dalla lunghissima titletrack e da "Mazuku": le strutture sono indiscutibilmente un retaggio degli anni Settanta e si dispiegano grazie ad intrecci di divagazioni legate al Rock progressivo ed occulto e ad elettrizzanti momenti più muscolari, senza comunque mai tralasciare del tutto un incedere pesante indubbiamente debitore al Doom in senso stretto.
Ora tento di farvi capire un po' meglio di cosa io stia parlando: immaginate un grosso calderone in cui siano stati frullati Rush, King Crimson, Reverend Bizarre, Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, qualche pizzico dell'aura nera dei Coven, lievi rimandi al primorde movimento Dark, psichedelia e alcuni momenti di aridità Stoner... ecco, ora potete esservi fatti un'idea di cosa troverete in "Passion Rift".
Dubitate che un simile guazzabuglio di influssi musicali possa essere combinato senza risultare disomogeneo e poco coerente? Certo, sulla carta non è di certo un groviglio semplice da gestire ma i Chowder amalgamano il tutto con naturalezza e, ascoltando la conclusiva "Custody" (facilmente segnalabile come una sorta di summa della proposta), sono convinto che ve ne renderete conto.
Una piccola avvertenza: il disco è del tutto strumentale (se escludiamo un paio di brevi samples vocali) e, pertanto, richiede una certa attenzione all'ascoltatore oltre che, naturalmente, una predisposizione ad assimilare sonorità che comunque sono "pesanti" per loro natura. Forse l'utilizzo di un cantante che rafforzasse e incentivasse l'esplosione dei pezzi avrebbe potuto aiutare ma, personalmente, ritengo che "Passion "Rift" sia ottimo anche così.
Thumbs up, bella prova, ragazzi!

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FROM THE DUST RETURNED
Review by Autothrall

Chowder is not Josh Hart's first waltz in the doom ballroom, having put in many years in acts like Earthride, Revelation and Unorthodox; but it might just prove his most interesting and distinct when viewed against the other projects he's worked with. Formed far back in the 90s, and admittedly rather slow and sparse in its recorded output, the trio (also featuring drummer Chad Rush and bassist/cellist Doug Williams) became more active in the past 5-6 years, releasing first a demo and EP, and later recording the material for this album in the year 2008. So, already Passion Rift might seem a few years out of place, but frankly it takes such a fresh perspective on its composition that it's nonetheless timeless and compelling, because there's really little else I can think of that sounds quite like it...
Take an instrumental/stoner rock act like Karma to Burn and then amplify its inherent range of dynamics, then add in spaced-out elements like a Mellotron, multiple synthesizer waves and more eclectic and exotic instruments like a theremin, Taurus pedal, and cello. This is more or less the broth from which the sound is formed, and then splayed out in varied and fascinating riffs that keep a listener's attention regardless of the fact that there are no lyrics or vocals involved (apart from an occasional sample, like the Futurama bit used in "Insidious"). Individual tracks range from brief, extraterrestrial visions ("Mysterioid") to massive flights of atmosphere and primal ambiance (the 18 minute "Passion Rift"), and yet the album's sheer dramatic tension seems quite fluid and intact despite its jarring and oft disparate ambitions. Best of all, the riffs on this thing are fucking beastly, like the Primus meets Fu Manchu explosion "SaltCreep" or the darkened, twisting sludge bruiser "Custody" which closes out the album. Hell, some of the raw, explosive context of the writing even reminded me of wild Japanese schizo/funk/rock soundtracks to cartoons like Sakigake! Cromartie High or FLCL. Maybe a little Flower Travelin' Band alongside the Sabbath and Hawkwind.
The guitar tone and loosely 'jam' aesthetics remain consistent through the entirety, but otherwise they play with a lot of rhythms and tempos that are as often punishing as they are psychedelic, pissed off as they are progressive. I found myself wondering throughout Passion Rift if I would have preferred a vocal presence, and am left relatively undecided. I can't think they would hurt any, especially a unique, aggressive voice, but at the same time their absence doesn't really hinder the music all that much, due to its reflexive and relatively free form nature. Chowder feels like a cockfight between the whimsical and darkly-mannered, and it's served well by a bright, bold production that doesn't sacrifice its jamming and driving ethics for excess, overdubbed plasticity. I can't say that every single riff here sticks, and occasionally the transitions will seem a little sporadic for their own good, but as someone who has suffered so much samey stoner/desert rock, sludge and doom, this trio has so much going for it that they're bound to impress anyone seeking a more transcendental variety betwixt these niches. Passion Rift is fun, frivolous, and ferocious, both in looks and sound, and I hope we'll experience more of this project in the near future.

[8 out of 10]

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METALSHIP
Review by Dark Pimousse

Remarqué après la sortie de leur EP éponyme Chowder en 2007, les Américains ont mis pas moins de 5 ans pour nous proposer cet album: Passion Rift. Fortement inspiré par des groupes comme Pentagram ou Saint Vitus, limité la musique de Chowder à cette seule influence serait une erreur puisque le groupe y ajoute des touches de rock progressif et de jazz. Recette originale et qui maitrisée, peut faire des merveilles.
L’introduction de l’album est surprenante, très expérimentale et dissonante, Mysterioid porte bien son nom, entre mystère et êtres venus d’ailleurs. On enchaîne rapidement vers des morceaux alliant parfaitement rock et doom métal. Bien sûr, les influences citées plus haut saute à la figure, notamment par le seul son des guitares, mais le tempo plus allant du rock permet de donner une dynamique aux morceaux.
Comme pour faire un pied de nez à toutes les règles établis par le rock ou le métal ou la musique en générale, Chowder mélange allègrement toutes les influences possibles et chose surprenante et rare dans le métal, le groupe n’a pas de chanteur. Cet absence est réellement déstabilisante, non pas que la voix soit indispensable car la musique du groupe est complexe et riche de variations, mais on s’attend toujours, au détour d’un accord, de voir débarquer un chanteur avec une bonne grosse voix rocailleuse.
Chaque morceau possède sa propre identité, avec des passages de purs rock pour Salt Creep ou Insidious, des parties plus expérimentales pour Mazuku et une influence plus doom métal pour Innsmouth Look. Certains morceaux et notamment Mazuku, sont proches des musiques de bande originale de film d’épouvante, le groupe en joue en intégrant des passages d’actions (rire démoniaque dans Mazuku, coup de fouet et lamentations dans Custody, ou propos d’un animateur radio dans Insidious).
Passion Rift est le morceau exprimant le mieux les différentes influences de Chowder. Une jolie ballade à la guitare classique pour commencer, des riffs de guitares plus lourds pour poursuivre, avec une accélération du tempo et des inclusions de parties électro pour pimenter le tout. En même temps, le morceau dure près de 20 minutes, ce qui laisse le temps au groupe de s’exprimer, passant aisément d’un style à un autre.
Ne cherchez pas ici de structure couplet / refrain ou même pont, la musique a repris ces droits et les instruments laissent libre cours à leur imagination. Les guitares mènent la danse, amenant chaque variation, chaque changement de thème, elles sont ici les reines du royaume de Chowder. Un album original, 100% instrumental, par un groupe surprenant!
[4 out of 5]

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STEREO INVADERS
Review by Thiess

Amate i viaggi lisergici, i tramonti dalle sfumature ricche e dai contorni che inebriano i sensi? Non lasciatevi sfuggire allora gli statunitensi Crowder, progetto attivo dal 1992, ma che pare essere arrivato direttamente dagli anni settanta. Le loro vesti hanno il profumo infatti del Rock e del Dark prima maniera, con cadenze che scandiscono un Doom primordiale, e non ancora completamente metallico. In tutto ciò, non mancano allitterazioni Progressive, fonosimbolismi che si intrecciano creando inaspettati sviluppi. Il full-lenght è interamente strumentale, e richiede una certa attenzione, se non altro per la moltitudine di colori ivi proposti. La produzione è perfetta, così che i suoni abbiano la giusta resa, in un contesto esoterico ed elettrizzante. La notte avanza, evocata da un tramonto che per inerzia, ne esalta i contorni. Ne siamo ammaliati, e se anche lo spettacolo è già stato visto e rappresentato da altri, non possiamo che premiarne la ricercatezza.
[7 out of 10]

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AUX PORTES DU METAL
Review by Florenty

Vingt ans d'existence. Et le premier album sort cette année. Chowder s'est laissé le temps avant de se lancer dans le format long. Une démo et un EP ont déjà vu le jour, mais à part ça difficile de trouver la moindre info sur ce groupe mystérieux venu du Maryland.
On entre dans ce Passion Rift par le bien nommé Mysteriod, tout en nappes de claviers mouvantes et inquiétantes. Arrive ensuite Innsmouth Look, premier morceau lourd et poisseux, doom jusqu'au bout des riffs, avec de nouveau des sons de claviers bien organiques, qui confèrent une saveur particulière au son de l'album. Chowder est un projet instrumental, aucune voix ne viendra se poser sur les pistes. Déstabilisant sur les premières écoutes, on se rend rapidement compte que tout est déjà là, inutile d'en rajouter. Les trois gaillards de Baltimore visitent un peu toutes les facettes du doom, en passant du très lent au plus énergique, certains morceaux allant même jusqu'au sludge du Mastodon des débuts, en moins technique. Salt Creep illustre cet aspect, avec sa structure évolutive, ses solos méchamment tordus et ses petits intermèdes jazzy, le tout accompagné de cette ambiance vaguement nauséeuse aux claviers. La pièce maîtresse de l'album est Passion Rift, qui du haut de ses dix-huit minutes vous emmène (et moi avec) dans un voyage en plein coeur de l'essence du doom. Le son est puissant, lourd, la basse ronflante à souhait. Les claviers se font mélancoliques, la tristesse mélangée à la rage et le tout malaxé, mélangé, pétri sur ces dix-huit minutes intenses et finalement vite écoulées. Les dernières minutes sont plus angoissantes, oppressantes même, le ton monte, Chowder se fait menaçant et on assiste à une parfaite démonstration de la maitrise des ambiances. Après ce morceau monolithique, le reste de l'album parait un peu fade. Le tempo est plus rapide, les riffs plus rentre-dedans, la baffe Passion Rift est tellement puissante que le revers semble trop doux.
Passion Rift est un album réussi. Pas de doute là-dessus. Mais il atteint son apogée trop tôt, et perd de l'intensité suite à cela. En espérant ne pas avoir à attendre vingt ans pour le suivant...
[15 out of 20]

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OBLIVEON
Review by RB

Doom Metal kann für sich genommen schon eine anstrengende Sache sein, doch zu einer noch anstrengenderen Sache avanciert Doom als Instrumentalversion. Chowder gibt es bereits seit gut zwanzig Jahren, doch erstmals 2006 gab es auch physisches Material zu bestaunen. Zugegeben, so ganz auf Doom gepolt sind die Amis dann doch nicht, denn ’Salt Creep’ rockt und geht auch vom Tempo her gut ab. Das Überstück des Albums ist natürlich der Titeltrack, der seit 2010 gewachsen und gereift ist und sich auf eine Länge von über achtzehn Minuten ausgedehnt hat. Eingangs denkt man nicht an einen schleppenden Doom-Song, sondern erkennt eine gewisse Ähnlichkeit zum Gitarrenspiel von Bon Jovis ’Dead Or Alive’, doch nach zwei Minuten kommt das erste Break und das Stück nimmt eine andere Richtung ein. Weitere drei Minuten wird galoppierend Fahrt aufgenommen, nach einer weiteren Minute ziemlich abgebremst und es findet ein Übergang zu einer melodischen Gitarreneinlage statt. Hier liegt auch ganz klar die Stärke des Albums, denn „Passion Rift“ ist ein riffgewaltiges, melodisch mitreißendes und generell abwechslungsreiches Album, bei dem die Gitarre in der unterschiedlichsten Form im Vordergrund steht. Drums und auch Synths sind notwendiges - aber eben auch nur - Beiwerk, die der ganzen Chose aber zusätzliche Elemente verleihen und ein anstrengendes, weil instrumentales, Album etwas auflockern. Für Gitarrenfreaks sicherlich einen Versuch wert, zumal sich das Ergebnis wahrlich hören lässt.
[7 out of 10]

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AVE NOCTUM
Review by Reverend Darkstanley

The best southern stoner doom is intense in a way that makes some death metal bands sound like a Sunday afternoon spent on thebowling greenwith your grandparents. It feels like the heaviest of prog metal bands has been taken over by the spirit of drug-fuelled 1950s jazz. Just why anyone would want to inflict added levels of difficulty when engaging with such an already psychedelic art form is beyond me. But they do. Like, scary, man. I imagine their brains must be held tightly together by chicken wire so they don’t fall apart every time an extra heavy bass line falls. But I digress. Back to the beginning, anyone that has experienced the southern vibes of (highly recommended) Earthride will be familiar with the deep down and dirty bass rock of Josh Hart. Here he takes up the guitar, the mellotron and the theramin as well and travels to another level. For those who don’t know the mellotron is an early sampling keyboard and the theramin is a weird electronic musical instrument invented almost a century ago that you play without touching. And if you think that’s wild then the next 50 minutes will have your eyes rolling backwards in your head.
This is the first full release and Chowder mashes together Rush, layer upon layer of 70s proggie vibes, a bit of Sabbath thrown in at the edges, and enough spiralling guitars and earth tremoring bass chords to have every fan of bands from Earth to Reverend Bizarre chowing down. There are no words other than the occasional movie clip and no easily digestible hooks thrown our way. But, unlike many instrumental albums that have come my way, Passion Rift is never so dense or self indulgent as to make it impenetrable. What they do is mash together what sounds like the best out-takes of several months worth of jamming sessions into a confident eight tracks. At times this is pretty straightforward and more about the elongated breaks and soulful guitar work that you expect from the genre.  Things take off nicely with the title track. But then the final 15 minutes seem to pull together all the experimentation that you feel Chowder really embarked on this trip fest for in the first place. This is not for the instrumentally unaware. But fans of the genre will definitely want to tuck in.
[8 out of 10]

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DOOMMANTIA
Review by Doommaniac

Player of guitar, bass, synthesizers, mellotron, theremin, and all-round genius Josh Hart has played in bands like Unorthodox, Revelation and Earthride so with a pedigree like that you would expect to hear something special....and here it is. 'Passion Rift' by Chowder is one of the most mind-bending instrumental albums to be released this year. Hart is joined by bassist Doug Williams and drummer Chad Rush whose surname will be of interest once you hear this album because if you can imagine an instrumental doom metal version of Rush you would be getting close to the sound of Chowder. I am loathing to use the word "progressive" but there is no way around it, this is a proggy album but mixed with doom and given a 70's horror movie atmosphere. Quite frankly, I can see a lot of people having a hard time listening and simply "wont get it."
This full length album has amazing production and outstanding musicianship; there is elaborate drumming with very interesting time-keeping techniques. There is also amazingly dynamic guitar and keys while the rumbling to sometimes cutting bass attack is Geddy Lee kind of stuff go insane. The album starts with 'Mysterioid,' 'The Innsmouth Look,' and 'Salt Creep,' three tracks that pulverize the senses with jagged guitar work, gorgeous keyboards that wash over the top of everything and give the songs a unique feel. Meanwhile there is also dynamic shifts, doom riffs, and polyrhythmic drumming that is incredible and then you get treated to the multi-layering of melodies which are stunning at times. The band is very old-school metallic at times, like an early Voi Vod but without the crappy production of the early 80's.
If there is a point in the album when all the prog-rock noodling is a bit testing, it is the title track which comes up next in the album. While the first three tracks are shortish tracks, title track 'Passion Rift' goes on and on for over 18 minutes. Sounding like Rush, King Crimson, Voi Vod and any number of Maryland doom and stoner bands, this track also combines grooves and drones so to suggest this epic is adventurous would be an understatement. It is a great track, but is it too long you ask? Well yes it is, I do feel compelled to skip to the next track usually about half-way through but having the prog-rock tendencies that I do have, I usually manage to make the distance but it is a grueling, exhausting musical journey. The next track 'Insidious' starts with a sample that partly sums up this album - "Alright, it’s Saturday night, I have no date, a 2-liter bottle of Shasta, and my all Rush mix tape, let’s rock!" However this is when it begins to stop rocking for me personally...
The album doesn't go downhill, the quality of the songs don't diminished either. It is just 30 odd minutes into this album and it becomes very same-sounding. In-fact 'Insidious' with its 80's hardcore punk groove is the last track where anything really different happens. The album picks up my interest again in the last track called 'Custody' which sounds like a doom-metal version 'Rush's "Cygnus X-1" but done....like I say very doomy. One thing about this album is the heavy passages are not that heavy at all and the doom riffing parts are a little boring. The prog passages is where the album reaches its high-points and I really appreciate the ominous old school sounds of the mellotron. This is easily my favorite instrumental album of the year so far but some of you readers may have to be in a certain mood to appreciate this brand of instrumental progressive doom. It is an acquired taste but you will be better off for investigating this intriguing release from Chowder.

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RAW NERVE
Review by Chris Kee

I know some people turn their backs when instrumental albums are mentioned, but anyone who walks away from Chowder’s debut full length album is doing themselves a colossal disservice. There is just so much to take in, so much to enjoy throughout this amazing record.
The band’s doom roots are very much in evidence (guitarist Josh Hart served as bass player for both Revelation and Unorthodox) but they have been blended with a truly progressive outlook. The album opens with the unnerving horror film vibe of ‘Mysteroid’ before the sprawling doom riffs of ‘Innsmouth Look’ take over, but it is with the following two songs that Passion Rift really comes into its own. ‘Salt Creep’ ups the pace and moves the band into Rush territory with its flurrying riffs and scampering rhythms. This is a song of many moods and many movements that really shows off the abilities of appropriately named drummer Chad Rush. Then what can I say about ‘Passion Rift’? This title track contains more than an entire album’s worth of absorbing atmospheres and complexities within its boundaries. It opens with a single acoustic guitar with shadowy hints of a Southern slinkiness about it that slyly slides into tones more sinister, before some monolithic doom riffs take centre stage. From there this truly epic musical exploration grows and develops smoothly, naturally, organically through so many different chapters – and each one utterly captivating. At one moment synths are rising up like mist through the sound, creating a new dimension of atmosphere, at another the ghost of Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ is invoked through some classic riffs and inspirational drumming. And that’s only the first four songs! I haven’t even got round to mentioning the haunting tones of ‘Mazuku’ or the driving energy of ‘Head Full Of Rats’...
You will not miss the presence of vocals for one second when you’re lost within the wonders of this album. Words are wholly unnecessary as the music says everything that needs to be said with stunning power and clarity. Take up the challenge and explore the world that Chowder have created within their music, it couldn’t be more rewarding.

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METAL MUSIC ARCHIVES
Review by Time Signature

I have been introduced to a bunch of really interesting progressive doom metal bands this year, and especially Memory Driven, Sorrows Path and Barren Earth made a big impression on me. To this group I can now add the American trio Chowder, whose debut album "Passion Rift" is something else.
Central to their sound are the heavy beats of more traditional doom metal along the lines of Saint Vitus and Pentagram, which means heavy rocking, but not ultra slow, tempos and more defined riffs rather than a reliance on droning notes. But the eight instrumental tracks in this album reach far beyond the already very flexible boundaries of modern day doom metal, and the album features elements from both alternative rock and progressive rock with a slight touch of jazz and sludge as well.
Thus, many of the tracks on the album contain numerous shifts and changes, and you can also expect spaced out intermezzos featuring mellotrons and theremins (actually, the very first track - the aptly titled 'Mysteroid' is a pretty spacey affair which immediately hints that this is going to be a different doom metal experience). Some of the tracks are more uptempo and more straight ahead with 'Head Full of Rats' being more straight ahead and 'Salt Creep' and 'Insidious' being more quirky. The title track and 'Custody' are both epic in song length and feature a number of different sections and changes and impressions (but with the heavy riffs being the most compelling ones), and, while shorter, 'The Innsmouth Look' is no less heavy and feature perhaps some of the most crushing riffage on the entire album. To this, we can add the atmospheric and darkly mellow 'Mazuku'.
There is no doubt that the trio's level of musicianship is superb. The drumming style is energetic and has a jazz-like organicness to it, while the bass is rock solid and has a nice fat and round sound to it. The guitar work is pretty interesting. Riffwise, it has a Tony Iommi-like heaviness and groove to it, while, leadwise, it captures the same type of dynamism that trademarks Steve Howe's characteristic style of playing.
Heavy and doom-laden, yet organic and progressive, Chowder's 'Passion Rift' is a musical experience any fan of progressive doom and sludge metal shouldnot miss out on.

[4,5 out of 5]

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SEA OF TRANQUILLITY
Review by Kim Jensen

Every now and then you come across some really incredible releases from unique bands, whose music is so compelling that you click with them immediately. Passion Rift by the American trio Chowder is, for me, one of those releases.
Essentially, Chowder is a doom metal band with what seems to be a very clear inspiration from Pentagram and Saint Vitus. However, rather than just reproducing the doom metal of their predecessors (not that there is anything wrong with that), Chowder have their very own quite unique take on doom metal, as they include elements from progressive rock and jazz rock into their style. Central to their sound are well defined hard rocking riffs, which appear just as frequently – if not more frequently – as the droning notes that otherwise characterize doom metal.
Each track on the album is an entity unto its own, and the compositions are very dynamic and, for the most part, quite complex with the straight-up metal-rocker 'Head full of Rats' being the exception. Building on the heaviness of doom metal, Passion rift is nonetheless very varied in tempo, and never gets boring. Moreover, the listener is treated to several changes, twists and turns in most of the songs on this album, and a couple of songs are even truly epic.
So yes, this is a cerebrally oriented type of doom metal with a lot of thinking behind it, but, at the same time, the eight tracks on the album are incredibly expressive and offer a variety of different moods throughout the album. Fans of all things cult will also be happy to know that in addition to standard rock instrumentation, the album also features mellotrons, theremins, cellos and taurus pedals, which means that there are several really spacy moments to look forward to.
The level of musicianship is impeccable, and the listener is treated to rock steady riffage and Yes-like guitar leads as well as organic and jazzy drumming combines with a driving and energetic bass. Even if one does not like metal, the album is worth checking out just for the sake of admiring the skills of these musicians.
If you are in the mood for some groovy riff-driven, yet progressive and challenging doom metal, then do not hesitate to invest in this brilliant album.

[4,5 out of 5]

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HATEFUL METAL
Review by Aceust

Die amerikanische Doom-Gruppe CHOWDER wurde zwar bereits 1992 von Josh Hart, den man womöglich von EARTHRIDE, UNORTHODOX oder REVELATION her kennt, gegründet, doch erst 2006 kam man dazu, die erste Demo zu veröffentlichen. Nach sechs weiteren Jahren gibt es nun mit Passion Rift das Debütalbum.
Passion Rift ist ein abwechslungsreiches, riffgewaltiges und instrumentales Doom-Album mit leichtem Hang zum Progressiven. Klassische Doom-Strukturen mit einer Vielzahl an satten, gut gespielten Riffs bilden zwar das Fundament auf dem alles fußt, doch lassen es sich die Drei nicht nehmen, zwischendurch, gern auch mal beiläufig, etwas andere Töne anzustimmen. Ab und zu sind unter anderen eben auch Synthesizerklänge zu hören, wie etwa in Myterioid, der Einleitung oder dem direkt folgenden The Innsmouth Look. Das Ganze wirkt dann mysteriös und vielleicht gar ein wenig psychedelisch was mich dann an UFOMAMMUT erinnert. Aber solche Momente sind selten und nur ein Element der vielschichtigen Strukturen. Passion Rift ist ohnehin ein lockeres Album, das nicht so sehr auf instrumentale Brachialgewalt als vielmehr auf feine, schöne Riffs und Melodiebögen sowie speziellen Samples, die aus irgendwelchen Filmen zu stammen scheinen, setzt.
Passion Rift ist ein intrumentales Doom-Album das einfach Spaß macht. Es gibt viele wunderbare Melodien zu hören, bei denen nicht nur das Gitarrenspiel Freude macht sondern auch die sehr gut zu hörende Bassgitarre, die hervorragend abgemischt wurde und perfekt mit dem Gitarrenspiel harmoniert. Sehr schön ist zudem auch die Vermischung von traditionellem Doom mit modernen respektive progressiven Elementen. Allerdings muss man sich für die Scheibe schon etwas Zeit nehmen, da es CHOWDER ruhig angehen und es keine effektheischerischen, aufgebohrten Passagen gibt,die kurz aufhorchen lassen. Stattdessen besticht das Album durch ein konstantes, hohes sowie abwechslungsreiches Niveau.

[8 out of 10]

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EXCLAIM
Review by Chris Ayers

Previous stints playing with Unorthodox, Revelation and Earthride have instilled bassist Josh Hart with the power of Maryland's doom gods as he switches to guitar and keyboards for his newest musical endeavour, the ill-named Chowder. Cut from similar cloth as Minneapolis' Zebulon Pike, this power trio (Hart is joined by bassist Doug Williams and drummer Chad Rush) choose a vocal-less, progressive tack, reinforcing their path with Theremin and Mellotron. The Rush comparisons come quickly, as the 11-minute "Custody" resembles Rush's "Cygnus X-1," in a parallel universe – not to mention that the drummer's surname is, indeed, Rush – right down to the spiralling finale. Featuring a sample from Futurama's Fry extolling the virtues of his all-Rush mixtape, the rumbling, Karma to Burn-ed "Insidious" and neighbour "Head Full of Rats" are total riff-fests of start-stop tempo shifts and wild, Peart-like polyrhythms. The brooding "Mazuku" takes synth cues from "The Trees," via Hold Your Fire, while the Mellotron of "Mysterioid" blatantly conjures late '60s King Crimson. "The Innsbrook Look" reprises said Mellotron underneath mammoth, Wino-esque doom chords, but the 18-minute title track combines all these disparate elements, plus '70s horror flick soundtracks into a desert-prog epic performed by Kyuss and conducted by Robert Fripp. Not only will Passion Rift perplex even the most stalwart prog martinets, but it will also spawn a nation of Chowderheads banging along in approval.

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DESTRUCTIVE MUSIC
Review by Luke Hayhurst

From Baltimore in the United States of America comes one of the most unique Metal bands to have graced the pages here at Destructive Music! “Passion Rift” marks the bands debut album and is the follow up to the “Chowder Demo” and the “Chowder EP”. Their art work I’m sure you’ll agree is a master piece, a collection of weirdness that stands out a mile and works completely as art work for an album, and let me tell you, the music that Chowder produce is very much of the same quality and traits.
The first point to be put out there for you is that despite the fact that Chowder are very much a Doom Metal band, with very much Doom Metal like nineteen minute songs in places, they are also in fact entirely instrumental, apart from the song introduction that features “Fry” from “Futurama” rambling about his massive bottle of Shasta and his all Rush mix tape, classic quote and a great inclusion to the album for comedy value!
Another epic thing to note about Chowder is that they utilize electronic interludes and under-tones to break up the Metal and add variety and depth to proceedings, and not only do they do this with style but said electronic interludes sound like they have been taken straight from George Romero’s 1978 Zombie classic “Dawn of the Dead”. Truly intense and strange and vastly entertaining. Chowder’s riff-age is extremely confident and Doom like, it flows superbly and melds one song into the next. The end result is that “Passion Rift” is mysterious, entertaining, exciting and extravagantly unique!
[9 out of 10]

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STEREOKILLER
Review by Shostakovich

Got my hands on this, on a nice coincidence, on the same day that Google had a pretty extensive working digital Moog synth as the logo on the main page. Very fitting indeed. I even tried to play along on repeated listens. It sucked, but was pretty fun. Anyway, I digress.
Finally seeing a full length Chowder record getting released is along the same lines as finally hearing "Chinese Democracy" after 20 years of promises, except without the wasted money, shitty music and massive amounts of schadenfreude. The band has existed, more or less, since the early 90's as a part time project of Josh Hart and Chad Rush, veterans of numerous Baltimore area metal and hardcore bands. Rumblings of the band can be traced back to around the time of Spectre, a similar band of Josh and Chad's, but with Rich Newberger on vocals. Since then, through various demo releases, Chowder has slowly gained an audience via twisted and dark instrumental progressive doom.
An EP released in 2006 showed a band comfortable with pushing boundaries that should seem easily pushed, but are still not seen too often. Bone rattling heaviness is not something often associated with bands influenced by Rush, and unique progression is too often unused in the traditional Sabbath doom scene, which means that Chowder's sound is still pretty fresh 6 years later with the release of "Passion Rift".
The full length yet again sees increased production quality and outstanding musicianship, as well as extreme consciousness regarding tone, attacking dynamics and aggression. No better example than "Insidious", a spastic and complex ride through the hills of all aspects of music itself. Through all the tracks, Doug Williams' bass lies under everything, coming through with a murky, watery uppercut, like the grunts of some Lovecraftian Deep One. Another great aspect is Josh's chord and harmony choices. Where many bands are content driving the song by rotating back and forth to low end brown notes, Hart will often harmonize the heaviest moments with unusual layers of notes and melodies, which actually adds to the sinister nature.
Highlights are constant. "Head Full Of Rats" brings a punkish Black Flag/Bl'ast! boogie groove. "Mazuku" begins sounding like a demented version of "Diary Of A Madman". "The Innsmouth Look" at times sounds like if you played an instrumental Rush record at half speed. All four distinct passages of the lengthy title track stand out. But for my money, nothing touches the finishing move of "Custody".
Part of Chowder's trademark sound, aside from jagged riffs and offtime chord shifts, is layers of pedals and synths, and some of the best moments come simply from the groan of a Taurus pedal floating not so gently under the band, or the creepy low end sounds of an old school mellotron.
This is a great record to clear your schedule out for and blast as high as you can stand, or better yet, clamp on the headphones for.

[4,5 out of 5]

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HELLRIDE MUSIC
Review by Jay Snyder

I swear my first attempt at writing an introduction for this record came out as all code. There were words, numbers, symbols, and ancient languages I couldn’t get a grip on, so I just decided to start this thing over. Ok, alright, you got me. I’m fuckin’ lying, but really the music did have THAT kind of effect on me. Chowder’s Pythagorean mixture of prog, doom riffs, horror soundtrack keyboards, and Wild Men from Borneo time signature shake-ups left me lying as a limp pile, of boneless gunk in the corner of my bedroom closet. As a wise man I know once said, “You’re going to have to lay down after listening to this,” and I can’t think of a better sentence to sum up the experience of a good Chowder session. Passion Rift is the band’s flagship, LP offering after an immaculately recorded EP release. Literally two years in the making, this record showcases the intense keyboard layering and tactically nuked guitar antics of Maryland doom, low-end lord Josh Hart, with bassist Doug Williams and drummer Chad Rush (his last name couldn’t be any more fitting here) taking on a Lee/Peart agenda of rhythmic nitroglycerin. Grab a spoon, scoop up a hearty serving of explosive Chowder, and let’s blow our fuckin’ heads off, shall we?
Opener, “Mysterioid” almost gave me a heart attack on my first listen during a nighttime drive through the shitkicker streets of Springdale where the cops prowl every corner in hopes of catching easy, liquored up prey. The vibe of the song perfectly encapsulates the environment in which I gave the album its first dedicated listen. As the dim lights of long forgotten street lamps beam down on a beat up old Ford Ranger’s rolling wheels, the essence of horror seeped into my head; ambient, clean guitar chords plucked with the intent of simulating a serial killer’s sociopathic thought processes kept me checking behind the seat for unseen assassins, while Josh’s multi-tracked keyboards (both digital and analog…and trust me…all fuckin’ sorts of creepy and freaky) act as the bloody knives that are waiting to end your life. It gives way to the Dagon destroying doom and Lovecraftian prog-rock overtones of, “The Innsmouth Look,” a piece that builds itself up carefully and craftily; Hart enters the fray with the kind of crunchy, doom-minded riffs that could only come from Maryland, his rugged display of riffsmanship working in effortless tandem with Williams’ pronounced, completely clean low-end swagger and Rush’s seamless mixture of hard struttin’, pocket timekeeping and elaborate snare fills. Washes of keyboard integrate atmospheric grace and the aforementioned stalk n’ slash, soundtrack vibe into the band’s many dynamic shifts; downtempo doom lurches switch course at the flick of the rudder into rough waters swelling with intensely, moody lead guitar passages and solo chops in the song’s tidal, beach devouring second half, the song ending with a sample of smooth, crashing waves.
“Salt Creep” comes in and basically tells Mastodon to go back to the progressive rock university and try again. This one’s got more starts and stops than the Port Authority bus line, Hart channeling the tricky phrasings of Piggy and Lifeson with his barrage of greasy, gliding melodic note progressions transforming into hard rockin’ grooves at light-speed Armageddon. He gets plenty of backup from his rhythm section, Chad’s rapid cymbal ghosting and polyrhythmic flash providing a constantly busy lockdown allowing Doug room to go into 5-finger overdrive one minute, or drop down into a doom-y groove the next (like he does so deftly at the 2:20 mark). But oh lordy, I’m not quite forty does this track turn into the fuckin’ audio equivalent of a Salvador Dali surrealist painting after that. Dissonant runs of riffage and creeping, horror score keyboards come in after that, each player given an ample and equal chance to shine betwixt technically astounding and confounding displays of upper tier musicianship; Josh letting rip with a vintage guitar solo that practically defines old school prog in the midst of the tempest, Rush going ape on every single piece of his kit, Williams diving into smooth licks far beyond my technical comprehension…I mean, holy shit, this is good stuff…like Rush, Voivod’s Nothingface, “Buzzard’s Churp, and the winding song structures and power doom of Revelation’s Never comes Silence all rolled into an Oak tree sized pinner.
The title track could almost be an album by itself! At 18 minutes in length, the band leaves no stone unturned in their quest of composing the ultimate prog/doom overture. This one is almost set up like a classical piece of music with several distinct movements. Sweeping acoustic guitar lays the foundation with a sprawling, distinctly southern feel; the enriching arrangement of Hart’s unplugged axe dissipating in a puff of riff-y, churning Wino/Flood influenced slow doom grooving. Melodic leads and keyboard hymnals punch through the riffing as the slothful doom takes on an upbeat, rocked-out visage that’s just vibrating with trippy, playful lead/riff shake-ups which triggers Rush to spice things up with foot tapping snare fills against Williams’ soulful, bluesy lunges. Josh busts out a silky solo that snaps the song forward into hyperkinetic, progressive madness; stop/start rhythmic changes, whirlwind solos, ominous synth drone and a doom riff finale literally bend the tune over, and give it a big boy’s ass spanking, thusly turning this piece into an entirely new man by the time it has finished growing up in front of our very eyes. “Insidious” opens up with what might just be the best sample and most telling sample ever put onto a recorded album, “Alright, it’s Saturday night, I have no date, a 2-liter bottle of Shasta, and my all Rush mix tape, let’s rock!” And rock Chowder does, plowing like a runaway wagon train through a villa of Indian tee pees on the run from heaving doom grooves, crazy Rush-like guitar/rhythm breaks, and frantic guitarpeggios (when you run out of fresh words, make ‘em up I say!). The band abides by the same rules on “Head Full of Rats” minus the sampling, but plus extensive lead lickage of the most rock n’ rolling caliber known to man that practically runs throughout the entire length of the song. A brief moment of respite is provided in the ambient clean chording of the guitars; backwards sound loops, and crystalline keys of “Mazuku,” giving us a much needed breather before “Custody” winds things down with 11 minutes of hallucinatory doom, prog, carnival keyboards, and mystical jam tactics.
Will there be a better instrumental record than Passion Rift this year? Hell no and a handshake is my answer (and yes, the new Karma to Burn is great, but I like this even more)! Chowder have come full-circle with a record that both sticks to time honored traditions and bravely challenges them. The songs, performances, and boulder tough John Brenner production come together to create a sound like no other. That previous EP was only a hint at what Chowder is capable of, Passion Rift is a proud capitalization on years of hard work. If you like classic prog and instrumental music in general and don’t buy this, you’re a damn fool! Highly recommended for adventurous listeners who enjoy a headful of deep, dark space.

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CROSSFIRE METAL
Review by Joxe Shaefer

Dieses Review beginnt mal mit einem Ritt auf dem Zeitstrahl. Vor zwanzig Jahren gründet sich in Maryland dieser Doombatzen. Basser Josh Hart, der von Bands wie Unorthodox, Earthride und Revelation bekannt sein dürfte, bringt es mit seinen Chowder erst in 2006/2007 zu einem Demo und einer Mini-CD. Im Jahre 2010 beginnt die Arbeit an einem Song namens „Passion Rift“, der letztenendes achtzehn Minuten lang wird und auch den Titel des Debütalbums stellt. Josh bedient bei Chowder die Gitarre und auch Synthesizer. Nach einem mystischen Intro ertönt „Innsmouth Look“, mit Einlagen von Synthies wie in alten Horrorfilmen. Ihr staubig trockener Instrumentalsound, vielleicht mit einem Touch Core, kommt experimentell bis proggig, findet auch Mellotron und E-Cello Verwendung. Bei dem dargebotenem Ideenreichtum fallen die vielen Wechsel im Tempo kaum auf. Der Dreier aus Baltimore schafft mit diesem Album, ohne Gesang für reichlich Abwechslung zu sorgen, und den Spannungsbogen aufrecht zu erhalten. Für dieses Album sollte man sich schon eine Tüte zeit nehmen, doch auch der oberflächliche Interessent wird erkennen, dass hier Tiefgründigkeit vorherrscht, die ergründet werden will.
[7 out of 10]

 

        

    







HELLRIDE MUSIC
Interview by Chris Barnes

Chowder is the long-running project from East Coast Doom legend Josh Hart (Earthride, Unorthodox, Revelation) and colleagues Chad Rush (percussion) and Doug Williams (bass). Truth be told, It’s really tough to nail down Chowder’s particular sound given the trio’s diverse influences… it’s dark and definitely progressive in that early Rush sort of way, but is offset with Goblin-like soundscapes and NYC Hardcore leanings. I haven’t heard anything quite like it. Despite my trouble in describing Chowder’s output, theres little doubt that it’s exceptionally hard for the listener not to get sucked into Chowder’s uniquely heavy maelstrom. The band just released its incredible debut, Passion Rift to rave reviews. Hellride spends some time with Josh discussing both the band and his storied career as a mainstay in the DC Doom sound.

Josh Hart, famed DC Doom musician, talented tattoo artist and founding member of Chowder… it’s a pleasure to type to you, sir! Not only is it cool to have the opportunity to collect your thoughts around your prodigious musical creativity, but it’s even cooler just because I’m a genuine geeked-out fanboy. I mean, take a look at your friggin’ resume as a critical component in legendary bands like Unorthodox, Revelation, Earthride and now Chowder as another project… man, that is good stuff! You’ve been in heavy music for the long haul… what about it appeals to you to keep it going for so long? It clearly isn’t money, which makes you a musician’s musician. Is it the camaraderie? Or creative catharsis? What gets you to plug in year after year?

Hey Chris! Thanks for your kind words man. Not sure I deserve all that praise but it feels good to read it for sure. The long haul? It really doesn't seem that long but I've been playing in bands for over 25 years so I should probably just come to grips with it. The appeal is in all of those things. Yeah, I'd say a big part of it is social. It feels pretty damn good to be in a room full of friends and strangers who are all mostly on the same page about music and are generally happy to see you. It's tough to recreate that elsewhere in my life and these days with the little social time I have to explore it's nice to see everyone under the same roof enjoying themselves. Having a vision of what I've always wanted to do with Chowder has certainly kept me writing and creating over the years even when things haven't been productive otherwise. Sometimes it's as simple as hearing some new/old music that inspires me to pick up my guitar or fire up a synthesizer. When that happens and I come up with something I really dig it makes me want to explore those ideas as far as possible and that means rehearsing, performing and recording. But who am I fooling? I just like to make stuff and then show everybody. "Look what I can do!" Creating music is very self serving. I think that subconsciously or otherwise it's a way of seeking validation in an otherwise indifferent and uninteresting society.

Wow, no one can fault you for being unflinchingly honest in a world lousy with bullshit artists. I like that you just laid it down like that – “look what I can do!”. Very cool. So tell me a bit about your Chowder project – it’s definitely not another Sabbath-by-numbers deal. On the surface, it sounds like a culmination of all the styles you dig personally. I know you’re an avowed Hardcore fan, and from your work previous work, definitely Doom and Prog. Chowder seems like an amalgamation of that. How close… or how far away am I from your intent with my premise? How about the ‘horror movie soundtrack’ aspect of the {i]Passion Rift[/i] record?
That's pretty much what Chowder is, a mixed up mess of different kinds of music. I guess I'm lucky to have grown up where I did because I was exposed to some really diverse local music in my teens. The first show I ever saw that wasn't a big concert was The Obsessed and Black Market Baby in College Park. That show made a huge impression on me because it was so visceral compared to the big arena rock I grew up with as a kid. I mean there were guys like Wino and Victor Griffon walking around looking like these crazy undead metal dudes mixing it up with all the scary looking punks and skinheads. I was 15 years old and had never really been to the city much so I wasn't really prepared for all that. I remember these kids started slam dancing and the bouncers at the place were going to throw them out and Wino stopped the song and starts yelling at the bouncers, "You're not throwing my friends out! No fucking way!!" That shit left an indelible mark on me. I was so impressed by that! And then the music! Both bands were so stripped down of all the smoke and mirrors but rocked harder than anything I'd ever heard. Anyway, I started to dig in and discover all these new wild bands with my friends and started going to metal and punk shows as often as I could. I gravitated toward hardcore during most of high school but I discovered so much more after I graduated. I started writing my own music but wasn't really able to find anyone to play with that worked out. Frederick was a small town back then and there weren't many musicians that wanted to play whatever weird hardcore/metal hybrid I was coming up with. It was pretty frustrating and when John Brenner mentioned Bert was leaving I jumped at the chance to audition for Revelation. I wanted to jam so bad and playing with them was really appealing yet intimidating. I mean these guys really knew their instruments and I was totally unskilled at playing a bass like that. Luckily it worked out and I learned a ton from John (and later Dale Flood) who heavily influenced what I started writing on my own. Man, I'm getting kind of long winded here. To make a long story short I started writing music without any particular reference point in mind. I stopped writing hardcore and metal songs and just started writing. Since then and along the way I've been exposed to a lot of great, fantastic and unbelievably good music and that all comes out in the wash. I hope it sounds as natural as it feels to write and play. If something I'm working on starts to lean on Black Sabbath too much for example I'll try to rework it by throwing in some dissonant chord or weird progression to bring it away from that. Sometimes it works and other times it ends up in the junk pile. Then of course when I'd bring it to rehearsals Doug and Chad would put their respective spins on it and it goes to yet another place. I've been really lucky to have guys like them to work on this material with. I'm sure some of Chowder's music is derivative and it's not written to be, but in the end I know who writes my checks. I don't know about the horror movie thing. I do really love Tubular Bells (we used to play it between sets before we went onstage) and the Kubrick soundtracks so maybe that creeps it's way into a thing like "Mysterioid". I'm just attracted to things that make me think "This would terrify me if I was on LSD."

What a cool evolution there – from DC-based fan boy to actually being in a band onstage. I like that that The Obsessed gig really blew off some conceptual blinder for you… you could embrace multiple genres of music, you discovered that you didn’t have to pigeonhole yourself into one particular scene. It made enough of an impression on that you’re doing the same thing today, a whole ass-load of years later. Very cool. I take it Chad and Doug are as equally open minded as you and that plays a significant part of your collaboration? Or am I getting this all wrong?
Well it was weird back then. It took me awhile to figure out that you could be into everything at the same time. There was a lot of division between metal and hardcore and lines were drawn... which was completely stupid as we know today but I was a knucklehead of a kid. When I finally did embrace that it opened everything up real wide creatively.
Chad and Doug are a blessing to this band. Both of them are overflowing with chops and completely open minded musically. The three of us came from similar backgrounds in punk and metal during different eras. I met Chad in the early 90s through my friend Rich Newberger who sang on the Spectre demo. That was the first thing Chad and I recorded together back in 1994. I think Brenner has it on the Bland Hand download page. Rich suggested that I might want to check Chad out as a drummer since we'd been trying to put something together for years. We clicked right away and wrote the song "Liverhead" the first time we played together. I think he was looking for something a little less conventional than what he'd been doing as well. Although we didn't take it very seriously we always had such a good time playing this stuff and kept doing it over the years. Doug came to us through a Baltimore based hardcore band he and I were playing in during the late 90s called Stout and all three of us played in a band called Next Step Up at different times. Doug was always talking about music outside of hardcore with me and had a great appreciation for players like Les Claypool and Victor Wooten but also for really extreme metal. He hadn't really been exposed to much of the doom metal or progressive rock I was infatuated with but loved everything I played for him. It just made sense to ask him to join when Chad and I started to get serious about playing shows and recording. All of us appreciate technical ability in music and also melody but our favorite bands only cross over occasionally. Mutual understanding of the influences in a band is great stuff but in some ways it can pin down your sound too. Like, I'm really the only Rush nut in the band so if I would bring something to the table that stinks of Hemispheres- worship it still works because they're not going to approach it like a Rush song because they're probably not hearing whatever thing I'm subconsciously ripping off. The only real common thread between the three of us is our love for New York hardcore and early death metal like Entombed, Napalm Death and Obituary. Outside of that it's an extremely mixed bag. So yeah I think you're right on there Chris. If it weren't for Chad and Doug's diverse musical tastes what we were able to compose wouldn't be as interesting as I think it is.

So I think it’s safe to say that the unique musical chemistry that happens musically between you, Chad and Doug is the reason why Chowder works so well. When it comes to writing and deciding what went on the record and in what sequence, was that a collaboration of chemistry as well? Or are you more the Steve Harris or Tony Iommi of the band where you have the last say?
Well I wouldn't call it a dictatorship if that's what you're implying. Haha. Not at all. I always make suggestions during the writing and recording. If anyone was hard set against anything I would've backed off as I have plenty of times with Chad over the years. There was a riff that I wanted to use for the ending of "Night Of Time" (from the self titled EP) that Chad hated. I fought and fought for it but he wouldn't give so I finally did and the ending you hear there is what we agreed on. I still think my idea was better! I did handle all of the decisions during post production of Passion Rift though. Chad moved to Oregon so he wasn't around to argue with me and Doug was okay with it. .I took some of John's advice of course as he was producing the album with me but mainly it just came together pretty smooth without much headbutting. There never needed to be a Harris/Iommi running the show. I consider myself very lucky that those guys wanted to play this shit so I wouldn't ever attempt to control their opinions. I'll just argue about it until I lose. Luckily that never happened with Passion Rift.

Damn, I was hoping for some two fisted tales of in-studio squabbles. Ah well. So you’ve had some time to soak in Passion Rift post-production. How do you guys feel about the end product now? Is this the ultimate musical statement from Chowder or is the best yet to come? How do you prioritize Chowder amongst your other musical activities?
I think everyone is pretty satisfied with the end result. John and I butted heads a little over having it mastered but I think in the end it came out better than a lot of modern recordings and isn't squashed dynamically. I like the mastering job. I really couldn't be happier with the production. I always feel like I could've played better, maybe wrote a couple more solos or something and not been so lazy on certain aspects. Scott Move did an amazing job with the art and Francesco Gemelli put it all together very nicely as well. Basically, everyone feels pretty solid about it and the reviews have mostly been positive and that definitely strengthens my confidence about the whole project even more. If this was the last release with the Chowder name stamped on it I would be satisfied. I could put it to rest happily knowing that I finally accomplished my goal of releasing not just a full length of my music but what I think is a pretty damn good representation of my aesthetic. I feel very thankful for that. Unfortunately it isn't that easy. As soon as this album came out I guess it kind of lit a fire under me to start writing and I've been jamming with Ronnie Kalimon (Asylum/Unorthodox/Internal Void) for over a month now working on some new material and relearning some of the older songs. Nothing is set in stone yet but I'm happy to explore this again and to see where it goes. I'm still not sure if Doug will be joining us on bass but if he doesn't I have a good friend and extremely competent musician who wants to step in. If that works out then what comes next will be a very interesting collaboration and the thought of playing this music with a different rhythm section is pretty exciting if not intimidating. Right now the only other music I'm involved in is Earthride and we never rehearse so that doesn't interfere with anything else I might get into.

In terms of the artwork… I thought you might have done it given it’s ‘tattoo’ style, but then again my perception may be biased because I know what you do for a living. Besides playing bass and hooking, that is. HA! No, seriously… what about the artwork? Is it a concept you gave Scott to flesh out on his own or is that all his handywork? Looks a bit esoteric… any meaning behind any of it you feel comfortable sharing?
The bass playing and hooking is just for extra cash to pay my internet bills. You should try it! The art was my concept but I wanted Scott to roll with it. He comes up with some really mysterious designs that tend to avoid the conventional "goat worshiping in the woods" shit. I knew his interpretation would be cool and I'm way too lazy and uninspired to draw anything that isn't for work. The idea behind it is pretty simple really, you're fucked the moment you're conceived. Chris, you're a good father so I know you understand what it means to want to do everything for your children to protect them from all the vile shit they're destined to encounter in life. The irony is that our parents can damage us just as bad if not worse than the outside world. Without getting too personal or pretentious I'll say the cover is supposed to represent the decent into chaos that starts at the beginning of a person's life. Boo hoo.

You nailed it. I worry for my kids every minute of every day and in the end, I’ll probably screw them up more than the ebb and flow of life’s various tragedies. I’m cool now, but as soon as they become teenagers, I know I’m in for a backlash. Josh, I want to thank you for your time and efforts on this interview, much appreciated. It’s was great learning more about your Chowder project and even more satisfying to learn just how passionate about it you are. Any last words for us?
Just thanks to you and Hellride for giving some of us a home on the internet and supporting ours and so many other bands who don't really have much of a voice even in the underground. Ever since I joined this site years ago it's become a part of my daily routine. I hope anyone interested in Chowder will take a chance on us and order the CD and join us on facebook.com/chowderdoom for updates and such. Hopefully we'll see everyone at some gigs in the near future! It's a good time to be alive. Watch Jaws and drink Shasta.

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THE OBELISK
Interview by Steph LS

Maryland trio Chowder are one band whose pedigree and lineage give you absolutely no context for what they sound like. Some bands, you know what you’re getting just by who they hang out with, but when you consider that guitarist Josh Hart cut his teeth playing in early incarnations of Revelation and Unorthodox — both names of formidable contribution to Maryland’s doom scene — and that he’s currently a member of Earthride, well, that kind of sets you up to think doom, or at very least some derivation thereof. On their long-in-arriving debut full-length, Passion Rift, Chowder defy almost every expectation you could put on them while still also using guitars.
The album, released by I, Voidhanger Records, is entirely instrumental and blindingly varied musically, bouncing hardcore rhythms off wild off-time changes and the kind of progressive technicalities that only true fans of Rush seem to be able to make gospel. There are elements of heavy riffing to be found here and there, but not enough to really ally the band to one genre or another. They never rest that long, and even ambient pieces like “Mazuku” or the opening “Mysterioid” have more to them than they might at first seem to, with Hart adding layers of synth, mellotron and even theremin to the mix of effects and drones.
Comprised of Hart alongside bassist Doug Williams (also cello) and drummer Chad Rush, Chowder began in 1992. It wasn’t until 2006 that the band released a demo through Revelation guitarist/vocalist John Brenner‘s Bland Hand Records, and Passion Rift has been another six years coming beyond that, so when it came time for listening to the album (streaming a couple tracks here), I had plenty of questions about how it was made, when and what were the band’s motivations.
As you can see in the following Six Dumb Questions, Hart had plenty of answers. Please enjoy:

Take me through the history of the band. It seems like Chowder was always in the background while other projects were the main focus. How has working with Chad changed over the years? Did you always know you wanted to keep the band instrumental?
Chad and I started writing music together while I was still in Revelation, back in 1992 I guess. A mutual friend thought we might be on the same page and it clicked pretty early. We wrote a few songs around that time but just sort of always considered it a sort of side-project as I was busy playing bass with Revelation and then Unorthodox soon after. In 1994 we managed to get into a studio and record four of the tunes we’d been screwing around with over those couple of years under the name Spectre that I clipped from my favorite Revelation song. Our friend Rich Newberger sang on three of those songs and his brother Steve played bass. It was pretty exciting to hear that stuff recorded because it was so weird for the time period. I don’t think many people we played it for really knew what to make of it then. That lineup kind of fizzled out and Chad and I continued to write a ton of music after I split with Unorthodox. It was one of those periods when you’re just spilling over with ideas, like every time I picked up my guitar I was writing a keeper riff or something. Sadly, we could never flesh out a lineup to play live and just kind of floundered over the years.
Back then I thought we wanted a singer as well and that was really tough because I was super-picky and there weren’t many people around that really fit what I expected. So we just hammered away as a three piece, Chad, myself and Joe Ruthvin on bass who left to form Earthride with [Dave] Sherman and Eric Little. It was always easy to write with Chad though, we both had a somewhat eclectic tastes so nothing was ever really a contention idea-wise. I’d bring something to the table and we’d both get really excited about it and try out best to form it into something unique. I remember laughing our asses off at some weird riff that just seemed so ridiculous but by the time we’d evolved it into a song it felt really, really cool and fresh. That was even before we started to implement synths and other post-rock effects. Chad‘s talent for irrational timing was really exceptional and allowed me to just go with whatever crazy thing came up. As far as being instrumental goes, like I said that wasn’t the plan but I was always into that kind of thing from the early math rock bands like Buzzard and King Sour to the obvious Rush and ‘70s prog tracks where the bands just busted loose for a song or two.
I think the thing that made me say, “Screw it, we don’t even need a singer,” was this Asylum tape I used to just play constantly that was a whole 45-minute side of songs without vocals. That was my favorite thing out of all the Maryland “doom” bands and it was funny because when I started playing with Unorthodox, Dale [Flood] and I used to joke about him not singing anymore and just going that route. By 2006, when John Brenner and I were booking the Doom or be Doomed fest in Baltimore and the idea of Chowder playing was on the table, I was comfortable with the idea of just playing the music and started to write with more self-indulgence and less conventional structure. I felt the addition of all the synths and mellotrons could keep things interesting enough that some kind of vocal wouldn’t be missed. Ultimately, I really don’t have anything to say to these people listening that they haven’t heard 1,000 times before anyway. I know as I get older I get kind of burned out on hearing the screaming guy wailing at me about his inner tumoils and emotions or whatever book he/she just read.

When was the material on Passion Rift written? What’s the writing process like?
The album is all over the place. “Mazuku,” “Salt Creep,” “The Innsmouth Look” and “Head Full of Rats” all go back to the ‘90s. The rest of it was written for the album between 2007-2008. I think it’s a good mix and some of our best material. I purposely kept it off the 2007 EP we did with Bland Hand Records to save for a full-length if it ever happened. I’ll usually bring riffs or whole songs to the other guys and we build on it from there. Sometimes I’ll have specific ideas about what the drums or bass do, but mostly it’s very loose and we just sort of design the song together based on a rough outline I’ve come up with. Playing with guys who really know their chops is a huge comfort when coming up with ideas. We developed a kind of language over time to communicate ideas back and forth. Like, “Try one of those sizzle drop, slap runs” and Doug would know what I was referring to. Most of the descriptions aren’t really words though and are just sounds. DUN DUN DUN dee doo DUN dddeeeeiin!!

One thing the album seems to do is balance different styles. The songs have a lot from prog, more than a bit of hardcore and some doom in them. When you started putting together the demo in 2006, how clear of an idea did you have of what you wanted to do stylistically? When you’re writing when does something start to take shape as a Chowder song?
I know that no matter what I write that these guys can play it and they’re up for trying it out which is the beauty of this band in my eyes. There’s never been a conversation about what we should sound like or, “is this new song really us?” I know we’re not breaking any new ground here but the idea has always been to just write what sounds good, what feels right. The demo was actually recorded in 1997. John Brenner released it for download on his Bland Hand Records label around 2006. No, it’s never been clear. I’m so heavily influenced and have been by so many different kinds of music and bands that it’s nearly impossible to write within a style on purpose, if that makes any sense. Like if you were to tell me to write a straight doom metal song, I would have trouble. Same goes for anything else, punk, hardcore, rock. Everything seems to channel through some screwy filter and come out all twisted up. If I’m writing, it’s a Chowder song. If I start playing something on the guitar and it sounds like it could be a potential Earthride riff, for example, I usually have to change some element about it to make it fit. Music loses its power when it tries too hard to capture a certain vibe or sound. If you can easily stuff my band into a genre then I’m probably not living up to my full potential as a musician.

 When in the recording process for Passion Rift were the samples, keyboards, mellotrons, theremin added? How much of that stuff comes from experimenting in the studio and how much is thought out beforehand?
Most of those things were recorded after the basic guitar, bass and drum tracks. There are a few parts in the there that were recorded with me on synth with the bass and drums at the same time though. Any part like that was written and rehearsed long before we booked recording time. The track “Mysterioid” was written almost entirely in studio with only the main synth notes worked out before. It and “Mazuku” were both intended to be production pieces only so we had some room to mess around with them in there. Adding a bunch of different things, getting out of hand with it. Everything else is written. Anything you hear in the other songs was worked out ahead of time at home and at rehearsal. We were very lucky to meet Jim Rezek through our engineer Mike Potter. Jim has the nicest vintage synthesizer and keyboard collection I’ve ever seen and was entirely open to the idea of us coming to his house and recording some tracks on his equipment.

What are some of the differences for you between playing guitar in Chowder and playing bass in Earthride? Are there things the two bands have in common, or is it a totally different experience?
Laziness. In Earthride, I’m able to lay back a good bit and stay in the pocket with Eric, which was something I missed while playing all this wacko, technical music for so long. I can just live out my Geezer Butler fantasy while relaxing up there and groove to the massive heaviness. With Chowder something is coming down the pipe at all times. A chord or key change, a solo, something to trigger on the pedals. It requires a shitload of concentration and I’m going to go so far as to say it isn’t much fun. When we’re playing that material live and we nail it, it’s very rewarding but I’m not so sure it’s worth the panic attack I’m about to have about every 30 seconds attempting it. I totally get why bands like Rush and Genesis simmered down on that shit over the years. It wasn’t just for the sake of selling records! And those guys are WAY better at that stuff than we’ll ever be. I gained a hell of a lot more respect for what bands like that accomplish in a live setting trying to be fancy like them. Ultimately, it’s two different experiences, both rewarding though. I have loved playing other people’s music because each one taught me something new that I’ve taken with me and implemented in writing my own songs or how to behave (or not). Joining Earthride was almost a no brainer anyway because I went to high school with those guys. We’ve been friends a long, long time. Hell, Eric and I were in our first band together with Kelly Carmichael from Internal Void back in 1985. So it feels like home. Chowder feels like a draconian P.O.W. camp in Siberia…only less smiling.

What’s next for Chowder? Will you guys do shows, and would you be able to recreate all those layers of keys and effects in a live setting?
Well, things are a little weird these days for us. Chad moved to the West Coast a couple years ago and seems to be happy doing what he’s doing out there. I have however started rehearsing and writing some material with Ronnie Kalimon from Asylum/Unorthodox/Internal Void and things are going nicely. Doug has expressed interest so I’m hoping he’ll be available to join us soon and we can start moving forward. I’m not sure what will actually come out of it. My desire would be to play some shows, maybe a fest or two and most importantly record something new. I’d pretty much given up on anything happening at all as it was a true struggle to get this record onto a label and released and then with Chad moving it was looking pretty grim. Anything at all is a bonus. Everything we’ve recorded is done so in a way that it can be reproduced live aside from the obvious production tracks. There are parts on “Passion Rift” and “Custody” where the guitar drops out and I take over on the keyboards which we were also doing live. Anything that plays concurrent with the guitar is done by Doug on the Taurus pedals or triggered by me on Roland PK-5 midi pedals from an E-MU Vintage Keys synth. It’s a nightmare, let me tell you. I look like a fat, dancing idiot up there trying to nail all that stuff at the right times. During our last few shows I would be thinking, “Never again, never again,” but somehow we always ended up there doing it again. Must be the loads of girls that come out to see us.

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TEMPLE OF PERDITION
Interview by Steph LS

A bit more than 3 weeks without any interview in T.O.P. (last one was with The Disease Concept), this is the 1st time this happens since its creation in April 2011 !!! For a little while, I have several bands in mind that I'd like to do like Elder and Sigiriya but I must admit that I didn't feel motivated and/or inspired lately, until I got two weeks ago the fantastic debut album of CHOWDER "passion rift"... a true sudden impulse like you've only 2 or 3 per year!!! Lasting about 50 minutes and revealing hidden treasures at each listening, this instrumental affair is filled with everything a TRUE Doom addict would expect, could it be in terms of heaviness, melodies, tempo-changes, tightness, creepy moods... all envelopped in a progressive and propulsive manner that is pretty unique for the genre and  believe me (if -like me- Instrumental stuff is usually not particularly awakening your enthusiasm) there's really not a single second where the lack of vocals is felt.
If not done yet through my previous post on the band which was announcing this release, I recommend you to read the overview by Revelation's John Brenner which is far more consistent, fair and precise than mine. Let me just add that this album will be assuredly in my top ten of 2012; of course judge by yourselves but I honestly think that CHOWDER deserves your immediate attention.
Now let's go with the long experimented Joshua Adam Hart, founder and compositor of the band (actually in Earthride too, but also ex-member of Maryland pioneers Revelation and Unorthodox) a very interesting and sincere guy who made this one, one of my fave interviews ever published here for the blog... thanx man for your good words and attitude.
 
It’s a bit surprising to read that you’ve been writing material for CHOWDER for about 20 years, does it correspond with the time when you left REVELATION ? you recorded demos in the 90’s but what did decide you to push things further after so many years with an ep in 2007 and then the album (while you were still active with Earthride)?
I started writing material for myself before I joined Revelation and it constantly evolved over the years. I remember John and I messing around with some of the riffs that ended up on the demos Chowder released later on. I've always written my own material even if it didn't correspond with whatever project I've been in at the time. If I was to write music with Revelation or Earthride or whoever I'd certainly keep their sound in mind when doing so. In Chowder I write for myself. When John and I started to discuss what became the Doom Or Be Doomed festival in Baltimore in 2007 he suggested that Chowder play even though we hadn't jammed together for almost 6 years. I contacted Chad about giving it another run and he was interested. I also contacted Doug who I was playing in a hardcore band with called Stout. I knew he had really eclectic tastes like we did and is a monster of a bass player. When he agreed we started rehearsing old songs and it just snowballed from there.
 
This is a question that you certainly have to answer often, but why did it take almost 4 years to “passion rift” to come out ? I see a few similarities with War Injun’s history about that, a 1st album which took a very long time to come out and finally released by an obscure European label, yours being Italian, theirs being Portuguese… how did you find the deal with I-Voidhanger Records?
 I'll be candid here. There are a lot of reasons it took so long to release. First, I was extremely OCD about a lot of things in the recording process. The rhythm guitars, drums, bass and some keyboards were done in only 2 days. But a lot of the extra recording and mixing took forever to get right. Also, Chad moved to Oregon in late 2008 and that kind of took the wind out of my sails about the whole project to be honest. Things were steamrolling along and that just kind of halted my ambition. To make matters worse I was in the process of moving back to my hometown of Frederick from Baltimore and got entrenched in a nasty custody battle for my son which consumed almost all my time and energy until late 2010. Around that time John Brenner and I began remixing the album and finally got it to the point that we were both happy with the result (John deserves a medal for dealing with me on this project). Then I started sending mixes to some labels to see if anyone was interested. Black Widow from Italy were the only one who responded and I thought we were almost there but it turned out they weren't interested in a completely instrumental album. Fair enough. Coincidentally, War Injun and Chowder both owe a great debt to Chris Barnes and his Hellride Music forum. In late 2011 John Brenner made a thread on there discussing his frustration that Chowder, Cyrus and Blizaro weren't receiving the attention he thought the three of our bands deserved and soon after I received an email from a poster there named Len from the Netherlands who contacted Luciano of I, Voidhanger Records and suggested us to him. Luciano was interested right away and made it very easy to get the ball rolling. I believe War Injun's story is very similar to ours in that someone posted on Hellride asking about what happened to them and next thing you know...results! Long live Hellridemusic.com!

The booklet mentions that the album was recorded in summer 2008 by Mike Potter but also that there’s been some additional recording, mixing and production done by you and John Brenner (from Revelation)… was it for some complementary arrangements, how did that exactly happen?
 John produced Passion Rift with me from the beginning and was invaluable in his assistance and guidance through the entire recording process. After we recorded the basic tracks with Mike Potter we reconvened at John's home studio in Baltimore and did many overdubs including lead guitars, acoustic guitars, Moog Prodigy, digital synthesizers, theremin and percussion. I had expressed interest in using a real Mellotron to record those parts on the album so when the other overdubs were complete Mike Potter put me in touch with a local musician named Jim Rezek from the long running progressive band Iluvatar. Jim has the largest collection of vintage synthesizers, Mellotrons and organs I've ever seen and he was very friendly and open to the idea of us coming to his house to record some additional overdubs. That might have been one of the coolest experiences I've had musically, it was like a museum in there. Anything and everything was at our fingertips and it was very hard to not go overboard and clutter the album up with synths. I stuck to using an original Mellotron M400 and a 70s Model D Minimoog. I completed a few other things on my own at home on my computer like the introduction and closing sample mashups of "Custody". That was all done in Audacity. The song "Mazuku" was recorded by me at home as well with the exception of the acoustic guitar, Moog and bells done at John's. So all in all it was a very convoluted recording process but I couldn't be happier with the results and am in a great debt to everyone who took time out of their lives to help this record get made.
 
The cover has been done by Scott Simpson from UK, one could consider it as representative and harmonious with your music : aesthetic, tentacular, tortured, beautiful, mystic… what was the idea behind it, was it related to a precise theme ? This is pretty rare but it has the particularity to not mention the band’s name and album’s title (ok it would have been pretty hard to place them !), was it a precise recommendation made to Scott S.?
Scott rules. He's a very good friend and one of the few people who knew exactly where my head was at when I wrote some of these songs so that made it very easy for us to work together on the concept art. If there is a theme to the art or the album it's of innocence that descends into darkness. I think my only idea was the fetus to be the central idea and for it to be surrounded by chaos and Scott ran with the rest and did a bang up job. The logo would have distracted from the symmetry of the artwork. That was Luciano's call and he was right to release it that way. I think it adds a kind of mystery to the entire package.

I know you’re yourself a tattoer, did you ask him to take care of the cover cause you loved particularly one or some of his works as a tattoer/drawer?
I've been a fan of Scott's art for years and he was my first choice when Voidhanger and I started to discuss the booklet design. Luciano was also very into what Scott does and we both agreed his art would be the perfect visual style to fit the music. I'm very pleased to see Scott getting the recognition he well deserves as an artist and also now as a tattooer. Tattooing is such a strange art form where everyone is constantly running around trying to copy what each other is doing based on public demand instead of trying to develop their own strengths. Scott's very lucky that his art is immediately recognizable and that so many people are open to letting him do what he does best on them. It's hard for me to imagine just how intense his tattooing is going to be in ten years.

I’ve seen on your FB page that you recently tattoed a woman’ ass, is that a pretty delicate and unusual demand ? does it make some important difference to you to tattoe for exemple the hairy arm of a guy or some more sensual parts of women bodies?
Haha, well yeah it's not something you do everyday. I assume you're referring to the Japanese bodysuit I'm working on. In the tattoo business you're pretty much stuck working with the canvas you're given. I mean I'm able to refuse anything I'm not comfortable with but that's almost always a case of it being on a part of the body that the pigment won't hold during the healing process or when someone very young wants a ridiculous tattoo on their neck or hands or something. My job is to put on the best tattoo I can and it matters very little if it's on some hairy biker's chest or on an attractive female client. I have to maintain my professionalism at all times but I will say that some days are better than others!

The overview from John Brenner about the album is totally faultless (precise, sincere, authentic) but there’s one point that I feel debatable when he says some songs are a mix part HC, part Lovecraft and part autobiography … I know you guys also have an HC background but I would not totally agree about that HC reference, except maybe the roughness of the drums/bass section at times, how do you feel that it’s materialized in Chowder’s music ? Another thing that also surprised me is the reference to Godlfesh on your FB page!?
I think the kind of hardcore John is referring to is more of the heavy metal influenced style that Chad, Doug and I have a background in. Not so much Discharge or Minor Threat as maybe Sheer Terror or Breakdown from New York although I love all kinds of punk and hardcore. Negative Approach, Poison Idea and Bad Brains to Dag Nasty, The Damned and Agnostic Front. I love it all! While I'm not sure how much of that kind of stuff makes it's way into Chowder's music a song like "Head Full Of Rats" is certainly heavily influenced by the Santa Cruz, California band Bl'ast! and I guess in turn, Black Flag. Mike Neider and Greg Ginn's guitar playing is as much an influence on mine as anyone else's and similarly the NY band Crawlpappy was an obsession of mine for years. What Guy and Ian were doing on the later Fugazi albums too and of course Quicksand. Doug and I both spent 10 years in a Baltimore hardcore band called Stout. Doug still plays in Stout in fact. A lot of what we wrote in that band has a lot in common with metal bands like Celtic Frost and Obituary. Godflesh is one of my absolute favorite bands and have also influenced just about everything I've done. Justin Broaderick is to heavy metal what HP Lovecraft was to literature. I think you can probably make parallels to them in a song like "Custody" or "The Innsmouth Look" or so I've been told. The lines get blurred a lot when you're influenced by so many different kinds of sounds over the years.
 
Back to the “autobiography” part, logically this would be felt in the 2 longest songs “passion rift” and “custody” which are the most deep, epic and introduce lots of different moods from peace and melancholy to tense and fright… how could you explain that specifical part which is moreover only perceptible through the music and not through any lyrics ? Do you think that in some way your music reflects your feelings towards “life with passion” expressed on the first pages of the booklet ?
Well again, like Scott, John knew what kind of place I was in emotionally when I wrote those songs and what was going on in my life and my desire to attempt to capture that in the music. I'm not sure if it was successful or not because it's just music and it's going to feel different to anyone who hears it. The song "Passion Rift" is most likely what he's referring to. Without going into too much depth on the subject and boring potential readers to death, I was going through a really hard time with being separated and an impending divorce which I knew would lead to hardships for my son. The quotes in the CD booklet reflect that loosely. Utlimatley, when you strip away all the pretense from the title track it's just another cliche, broken hearted love song. Hopefully the only one I'll ever write. "Custody" on the other hand had nothing to do with the custody case I went through as the song and title were made over a year before that happened. The thought of it was certainly always present though and if you're one of "those" people I suppose you could read into it as some sort of portent or warning. It did turn out to be 11 minutes exactly and according to Chris Barnes 11 is a Thelemic number for "Magick" but I'm not really into all that hocus pocus unless it's by Focus. I wrote the song and the title after Scott Simpson and I visited the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC in late 2007. He was over for a holiday and wanted to see some sights in DC. I suggested that museum as I'd never been. It was a life changing experience for me. All the years of learning about it in school and seeing the films didn't prepare me for the reality there. I became borderline obsessed with The Holocaust and read and watched everything I could find the time to for almost a year. I think the song was my way of getting that shit out of my system somehow. The title came from the idea of being owned and not only that but being the despised property of such a malevolent entity like the Third Reich was. Writing about oppression in culture is hardly anything new but I guess "Custody" is just my spin on it. It's hard to imagine not having the freedoms that I probably take for granted more often than I should. Man, I bet you're sorry you asked this question now.
While being pretty different from the “usual” local sound, your music still reveals some nice Maryland DOOM caracters, is it something that you feel irremediably rooted in your heart and soul?
I don't know, I definitely know what you mean by "local sound" but I think to put all the bands from Maryland in one box is doing them a disservice. I think there's a great diversity between bands like Asylum, Internal Void, Revelation, The Obsessed and Pentagram and I don't think there's much in common between bands like Earthride and Admiral Browning and Wretched. They're all heavy and write with melody but I think that's a common thread that goes back to being influenced by music from the 60s and 70s as well as each other. I mean two of my very favorite bands Penance and Blood Farmers share these same things but are from Pittsburgh and New York. I can hear what you're describing in bands like Torche and Elder too. I think it's just the juxtaposition of melody with dark riffs. I think it's a romantic notion to accredit a certain sound to one place but realistically it's just another way to classify and contain. Either way that kind of sound has had a profound influence on what Chowder does. My playing in Revelation and Unorthodox taught me whatever chops I have, that's for sure. Spending time in any band, you're going to take something away from it and being a huge fan of both of those before I joined just strengthens that.
About the progressive aspects of your sound, John makes a comparison with Rush in his overview which I can’t deny but my knowledge in progressive stuff is very limited, is there any other significant references that count for you ? Are long titles necessarily more conducive to the introduction of progressive elements?
Yeah the Rush influence is heavy throughout I suppose. I think it was more apparent on our EP though. Rush and Jethro Tull were the gateway drugs to progressive rock for me. When I was writing the material for Passion Rift I was really into the Italian scene of the 1970s, especially bands like Museo Rosenbach, Il Balletto Di Bronzo and Semiramis. Those guys were on their own plane of existence over there. It's a shame some of them aren't given the respect the UK bands have gotten. I'm sure it's easy to hear King Crimson and Genesis on the record too. My love for them is no secret either. I'm a total fanboy. Camel and Gentle Giant! Oh and Radim Hladik's guitar playing. He was in a Czech band called Modry Efekt who released 3 Yes meets fusion albums that just cook. I wish I could play guitar like him. So fluid and unrelenting. Like Al Dimeola with a soul. The early Anekdoten, Anglagard and Landberk records. Trettioariga Kriget, also from Sweden! Frank Zappa is my all time favorite musician though and even though it's impossible to be audibly influenced by someone so prolific and inimitable it's in there somewhere. I could go on and on and on about prog but I hope to have sex with a live woman at some point in the future so I'll quit while there's still time. I'm not sure titles have anything to do with music but I guess it can help to paint a picture for people in the way that genres do.
What do you think about people who pretext the absence of vocals to justify the fact that they don’t get much into your style?
I'm absolutely ok with any reaction to our music. I make a lot of jokes about negative reviews and stuff but really it's fine. If you had more bandwidth I could go on and on about all the bands I dislike for whatever psychotic reasons I have, so I get it. If there are people who prefer music with vocals then that's fair play. They'll listen to something else. I get it all the time and it's held us back in some ways I suppose but that's life. I made the decision to do it this way and I'm sticking to it. I like the freedom to experiment with song structure and to write anyway I want without having to think about room for vocal lines even though some of it would probably sound cool with the right singer. Bottom line is some people will like it and some won't. I prefer to spend my energy thinking about the ones who do and why instead of the opposite.
 
This would of course imply some technical adaptations but is there any possibilities to see CHOWDER on stage in the future ? Sure you’re playing live with Earthride, but aren’t you sometimes tempted to share a bill with some other local bands friends (which I presume are pretty numerous!) and would be delighted at the idea to play with Chowder?
It's always possible. It's been tough since Chad moved to think about continuing on with a new drummer as he was the only person I ever played these songs with over all the years. We had such a strong connection and it's going to be tough to rebuild that again with someone else. I have been jamming a little with Ronnie Kalimon from Asylum/Unorthodox/Internal Void and he's a fan of the album and wants to work on Chowder with me. I think that between us and hopefully Doug if the stars are right, we can produce some interesting music together and maybe get it out there live. It's going to take some hard work but we're not in any hurry. I'm currently more focused on writing new material to be honest and I think if we do manage to perform then a large portion of our sets will be new material with a couple of older pieces mixed in. That's my vision anyway. We'll see where it goes from here. The "Passion Rift" lineup actually played out quite a bit between 2007-2008 and we did the entire EP, plus the songs "Passion Rift" and "Custody" in their entirety complete with keys and samples. "Salt Creep" and "The Innsmouth Look" were almost always in the set as well. Playing live with Chowder is pretty hard work for me though with all the changes and synths and samples that need to be triggered. It's not a walk in the park and that takes some of the fun out of it. When we have a good set it's very rewarding but if there are a lot of mistakes on my part (and there usually are) I get very frustrated and depressed about it. Maybe we'll do Ramones covers next time.
 
Do you feel excited with this release of “passion rift” and consider this is a kind of new beginning for the band and more personally for yourself ? or is it a kind of conclusion of all those years composing for yourself aside your other bands?
It could go either way at this point Steph. I'm absolutely excited to see this album come out after all the hard work and periods of doubt and despondency. I think it's a really good album and probably the best I can do. If this was my swan song I could live with that happily. But again maybe there's more to come that will shadow what we've done here. I just don't know what to expect and have no expectations. I know I'm stoked to have this out to help exorcise some of the demons from the past. It really became like an albatross at times too so now I can just relax and move on to whatever happens next.
 
Thanx a million Josh, add something you feel important that I may have forgotten and please give your last words to “la jolie France”!!!
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak about these things Steph, very kind of you. People, do your homework, dig in and find something obscure. Everything you could ever want musically is out there. Don't settle for what the big labels are jamming into your ears. Stop copycatting other bands. Don't believe everything you read in Terrorizer Magazine. Blood Farmers, Penance, Revelation...listen to them. Doom culture. Do the right thing. Bernie Wrightson. Frank Frazetta. Richard Corben. Lovecraft and Howard. Robert Moog. Sherman Hemsley. Merci la France pour me donner le Magma!

 

        

                                               







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