“Tonight at 11 … DOOM!” That’s the thunderous opening line from Spiritual Shepherd’s 2014 debut The Monkey’s Paw, hitting you like a furious punch to the dome. The rest of the 44-minute EP is all-instrumental, and filled with sludgy, fuzzed-out guitars and crashing percussion reminiscent of classic Sabbath and the psychedelic, stoner melodies of Sleep.
“It’s not everyone’s genre,” says guitarist Sean Van Haitsma. “But Spiritual Shepherd is that perfect bridge for people who don’t really know the genre. We’re not the heaviest kind of doom, but we’re not the slowest.”
With no vocalist on board, members Van Haitsma (guitar), Omar Alvarado (bass) and Ian Henneforth (drums) have plenty of dark, swampy terrain to explore. When Haitsma, a 22-year-old Vegas native, started Spiritual Shepherd three years ago, the band took whatever gigs it could land—from “reggae shows to Christian shows.” Recently the trio has been playing bigger gigs, first opening for Castle in March, and now, Chicago doom band The Atlas Moth at the Bunkhouse on May 14.
Van Haitsma hopes that the trio’s atypical, atmospheric brand of doom metal will continue to draw listeners—and show them “that not all doom bands are trying to be the evilest thing out there. We want to see how far we can go. We still can be heavy, but we can throw jazz, blues, psychedelic … whatever we want, really. It’s basically one giant jam band, but we try to keep the doom aspect in there.”
On top of playing better gigs, Spiritual Shepherd is also working on a more cohesive, polished album. “We tried to mix [The Monkey’s Paw] as well as we could but it still kind of came up rough,” Van Haitsma says. This time, Henneforth and Alvarado are further into their degrees (both are enrolled in audio programs), and the upcoming album is being recorded at the Art Institute of Las Vegas, where Henneforth is a student.
Spiritual Shepherd opening for The Atlas Moth, Found in Fiction. May 14, 8 p.m., $10. Bunkhouse Saloon, facebook.com/spiritualshepherd.
Speaking of doom metal, popular Vegas outfit Demon Lung will release new LP A Dracula on June 16 on Candlelight Records. Produced by Portland’s in-demand metal wizard Billy Anderson (Sleep, Melvins, Neurosis), the eight-song album is based on Juan López Moctezuma’s 1978 Mexican horror film Alucarda, which tells the story of two orphan girls living in a convent who become possessed by the devil.A Dracula is up for preorder at bandcamp and manicmusiconline.
Acoustic three-piece My Fair Rosalie will host a no-cover release party for debut EP Fall In at the Bunkhouse on May 7, with additional performances from Kella Bo Bella and Maxwell Fresh. The soulful four-song EP features Kevin Alberto on guitar/vocals, Jacklyn Murphy on cello/vocals and Alex O’Brien on drums, and was recorded by Black Camaro’s Brian Garth. It’s available now through bandcamp.com.
Local garage-rockers The Psyatics have released a self-titled second LP. Featuring former Yeller Bellies members Rob Bell (bass/vocals) and Jimmy Krah (drums), plus Jack Ball (guitar), The Psyatics returned with a 16-song followup to the band’s 2013 debut Oderint Dum Metuant (which translates to “Let them hate, so long as they fear”). The Psyatics is available at cdbaby.com.