Chris Lodge, front, Sean Carver, center, Michael Harrold, back, of Albany’s Dog Head. (Special photo)
ALBANY — Just a few songs into their seminal album “Master of Puppets,” heavy metal titans Metallica, drawing from the imagery of an HP Lovecraft horror story, drudge up an unthinkable, almost unimaginable creature and dare listeners to “face the thing that should not be.”
The band never lets listeners know what this thing is, but through lyrical imagery it could best be described as an abomination.
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And that is precisely what local metal standard bearers Dog Head are planning to unleash Saturday night at Albany’s Oglethorpe Lounge; an “Abomination.” Or, more specifically, the band’s aptly titled debut EP.
Long seen as a musical abomination, save among a select group of metal-heads in the Good Life City, heavy metal music had lurked behind the shadows of popular music, only occasionally embraced by the larger majority thanks to a few passing fads like Metallica’s “Black Album” or the quasi-metal of the early ’90s grunge scene.
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By and large, however, the love of bands like Slayer, Megadeth, Sepultura, Iced Earth, Opeth and countless others, has only existed within small, tight-knit groups of like-minded metal-heads who have quietly carried the torch, though well out of the public eye.
In recent months, local bands like Albany’s Dog Head have gained new fans and support from an ever-growing group of music fans that is once again ready to proclaim love for all things heavy.
For brothers Jason and Chris Lodge, who serve as Dog Head’s principal songwriters and singer and guitarist, respectively, the newfound support has come as an almost total surprise.
“I’ve always been into metal and have played in different bands over the years,” Jason Lodge said during a recent interview. “They never really got big because most people around here aren’t into metal. We play that kind of music because that’s what we love. With this band, we started playing and before we knew it we were getting asked to play all the time and there were crowds at our shows. We didn’t expect to get as popular as we are.”
The brothers attribute a lot of that popularity to local venues like the State Theatre and the Oglethorpe Lounge and, more specifically, to Allison McCorkle, who handles bookings for the Oglethorpe and has been a champion of the band.
“It’s happening because of things like Allison putting her neck out there and letting us play,” Jason said. “She’s done so much for us.”
Despite all the attention and growing popularity that has seen the band booking dozens of regional shows in places like Columbus and Tallahassee, the guys in the band haven’t lost sight of their humble beginnings and the long time it has taken them to reach this point.
Dog Head was started in 1995 by Albanians Gene Seybold and Martin Fischer, and over the years the band has seen numerous lineup changes and slight changes in sound.
The current lineup started to come together when Jason Lodge, who had been playing with other local metal bands over the years, came on board to add vocals to the band’s demos in October of 2011. His younger brother, Chris, followed suit a month later, and things began to pick up quickly.
Based on the strength of those recordings, the band started receiving requests to play live shows. Due to Seybold’s responsibilities at work and at home, the band leader turned full-time vocal duties over to Jason Lodge and wished the band his best, vowing to support the group and one day return should circumstance allow.
With Seybold no longer in the lineup, rhythm guitarist Fischer (the band’s only original member), the brothers Lodge and bassist Sean Carver pressed forward, playing gigs with a drum machine and building a loyal local fan base. With the addition of full-time drummer Michael Harrold, the band found it’s groove, some momentum and the start of its signature sound.
“When we had the drum machine, we sounded more industrial, which really wasn’t the kind of stuff most of us liked,” said Chris Lodge. “When Michael joined, we kind of changed our sound and started to play the kind of music we like.”
Oddly, playing the kind of music the band members were really into meant they didn’t have a sound that fit nicely into any of the typical metal sub-genres: thrash, death metal, power metal, black metal, hardcore. And because the members all prefer different styles, that was reflected in the songs on “Abomination.”
“I call us a ‘genre-buster,’” Chris Lodge said. “There’s elements of everything. You can hear lots of bands in Dog Head, but you don’t hear Dog Head in other bands. I think we sound unique. I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘You guys remind me of this band.’”
Jason Lodge concurs, saying the only comparison he’s every heard related to the band’s sound is that he was told one time that he sounds like Max Cavalera of Sepultura and Soulfly fame.
To outsiders, much of what goes on in metal circles seems strange, but to the the millions — like the Lodge brothers — who consider themselves metal-heads, heavy music, the musicians who make it and the fans who love it constitute something akin to a tribe, usually initiated at an early age.
“I’ve always been into heavy music,” Jason said. “I used to steal my dad’s Black Sabbath records. Then I got into classic stuff like Iron Maiden and then bands like Bathory, Cradle of Filth and Children of Bodom. I like the really heavy, dark metal. I despise country music, outside of David Allen Coe, and I think pop is repetitive and boring.”
Much like his older brother, Chris fell in love with heavy music at an early age, thanks to his big brother, and was particularly drawn to the classic thrash of the early 1980s from bands like Megadeth and Metallica and European power metal bands with clean vocals and epic song structures.
“I was about 15 at the time, and my big brother and a guy named Chris McCorvey gave me my first metal CD,” Chris Lodge said. “That’s pretty much all I wanted to listen to. I’ve pretty much devoted all of my musical energy to metal.”
The fruit of Chris’ and the rest of the band’s musical energy is on full display on the “Abomination” EP, and the band is excited to present it to faithful fans Saturday at the Oglethrope Lounge EP release party.
To help the band celebrate the occasion, Dog Head have invited fellow metal bands Invert the Idols, Last True Evil and Shadow Priest to join them in amping up what is sure to be a metal-hungry crowd.
“We really try to make our live shows something to see,” said Jason Lodge. “It’s theatrical, and we lay it out there for the fans. It’s going to be a good time.”
The band is hoping the EP will be well-received and that it will help boost the profile of local record label Darktusk Records, which is releasing “Abomination.”
The band is also joining other metal acts later this summer at the Summer Chaos metal show being presented by Darktusk Records at the State Theatre.
With five other metal acts joining the band at that event, it’s further proof of the growing popularity of heavy music in Albany.
“There’s a great metal scene in Albany,” said Jason Lodge. “We’re really excited to be a part of it and glad to see it growing.”
The EP release show at the Oglethorpe is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. There is no cover charge.