Forming The Void, Sumokem and more at Division Brewing (2018)

Division Brewing (Arlington, TX)

Forming The Void, Sumokem, Wooden Earth, Masster
  This past Saturday I made a 430 mile round trip to see a metal show. […]
By Dave Nowels
October 20, 2018

  This past Saturday I made a 430 mile round trip to see a metal show. Why? Well, it was likely my last chance to catch SUMOKEM live this year, as well as my first chance to see FORMING THE VOID live. There were other more obvious reasons at play as well, such as it was a Saturday night, no one was playing locally and I was bored. So, a road trip it became, and I'm glad I was able to do it. It was a night of great music.

The event was held in Arlington, TX, just outside of Dallas. Division Brewery hosted the event, though the actual performances were held in an adjacent building that houses a retail operation called Panel By Panel/Growl. Essentially a split shop, Panel By Panel caters to fans of comics while Growl holds down the music side of things. It's a really interesting concept, and a cool shop that I definitely recommend checking out if you're in the Arlington area. The night's festivities were presented by Purple Sludge Productions, who deserve a lot of credit for presenting a quality line-up of bands and ensuring things proceeded in a timely and hassle-free manner.

 Opening the evening's music was MASSTER. Performing as a four-piece band, these guys from Dallas laid down some impressive jams, while utilizing some cool visuals on screen. They were a new band for me to discover, and unfortunately I didn't know any of their songs or titles. Fortunately, they have songs available via Bandcamp, ( and I'd highly recommend checking them out. As the Stoner/Doom/Psychedelia scene grows I really hope to see this band make their way closer to me as I'd love to see them again.

   Next up, was WOODEN EARTH also hailing from Dallas. A Stoner metal trio featuring Griffin Thomas on drums and vocals, Devin Moreno on guitar and Lee Ryan on bass.   A new-ish band, they've been playing some of their first live sets this year. They put on a really fun riff heavy set, showcasing some superb chemistry in the making.

Moreno absolutely slays on guitar, and it's always amazing to see a drummer/vocalist with the skills to pull off both tasks. Thomas has those skills. No slouch himself, Ryan held down the low end keeping the trio grounded and our ears ringing. They impressed, rolling through nearly 10 songs in their short set, including a nice cover of "21st Century Schizoid Man" to open their set. Other highlights for me included "World Exit", "Mouthbreather" and "Waves of Smoke", all of which can be found on the band's Bandcamp page,

  I had multiple folks in the audience tell me that WOODEN EARTH are "the" band to see right now. I'd say that's a fair assessment, and that they're definitely on to something. Add them to your list of new bands worth checking out.

  This was my third time this year seeing SUMOKEM. There's only a handful of bands I'm willing to drive a couple hundred miles in the car for, but they're one of them. As is usual, they didn't disappoint. The Little Rock Arkansas Doom/Sludge lords even managed to wreck havoc on the house sound system by tripping a fuse near the end of their first song, "Khizer".


After a brief delay, they launched back into "Warning" and "Tisayac" from their album "Guardian of Yosemite" on Cursed Tongue records. If you have yet to hear that album, I insist that you stop what you're doing and do so immediately. In all certainty, it's one of my absolute favorite releases of the past few years. A concept album, it's simply a masterpiece of Progressive Sludge/Doom innovation. It's not like anything you've heard before. It's haunting, melodic, riff heavy, and executed to perfection.

Made up by Jacob Sawrie on vocals and rhythm guitar, Drew Skarda on drums, Tyler Weaver on lead and Dustin Weedle on bass, the band also featured two new songs. The aforementioned "Khizer", as well as "Parak-Dar". I saw these two new songs performed earlier in the summer, and was really blown away with how much they've developed and grown in the span of a couple months. Both of these songs are long epics and they promise to be centerpieces of the new album currently being readied for a future release. I'm pretty excited for this new album, yet despite my enthusiastic encouragement, the band insists it won't be out this year. So, look forward to 2019 and seeing SUMOKEM in top form and raging with another album of epic proportions.

  In the headline slot this night was Louisiana's FORMING THE VOID. Also a four piece, the band include, James Marshall on vocals and rhythm guitar, Shadi Omar Al-Khansa on lead, Luke Baker on bass and Thomas Colley pounding his beautiful vintage drum kit. Primarily highlighting their exceptional album "Rift" which dropped earlier this year, they also worked in a bit of their previous album "Relic".

 I was most excited to hear the material from "Rift" as it's easily a contender for my top 10 albums of the year list. How could it not be? The album is a swirling tapestry of colors and sound that simply rocks as hard as anything I've heard this year. The band absolutely nails that feel live as well. "On We Sail" was an obvious highlight of the evening, with it's powerful riff and catchy vocal hooks, it's simply a damn fine song.

FORMING THE VOID play with definite passion and drive , giving those in attendance everything they've got. None more so than guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa. In a genre that's usually hell bent on bouncing the riff against your skull like a hurled brick, Shadi attacks your skull like a precision strike. His notes hit you so fast and precise, you're still trying to figure out the last one as another registers. This is a guitarist that plays from his heart and hopes you recognize it.

Collectively, there are so many layers of sound in what this band presents, it's just massive. One moment there's a FLOYD feel, the next a SABBATH or ZEPPELIN inspired riff and every now and then a perfectly placed Middle Eastern vibe dropped in. All surmised, it's like an interdimensional cosmic gravy. Marshall's riffs and soaring vocals rise above all else, while Shadi's leads twist and turn, in and out. All while Baker and Colley plow forward through the maw like a celestial heartbeat. It was fascinating to observe, and over all too fast.

 So yeah, the night was definitely worth the long car trip and not getting home until 4am. For talent like this put together by Purple Sludge Productions, I'd do it again, no questions asked

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