Ecryptus, the Dark Side’s original Sith metal lords, emerge from the shadows with ‘Rancorous’

ECRYPTUS: (left to right) Allen Keller (Lord Tenebris), Danny Ryann (Dan Solo), Justin Brown (Lord Abraxas), and Mike Michalski (Lord Crypt). Photo by Emily Harris.



A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, an early incarnation of the group now known as  Ecryptus was born as a melodic death metal band hellbent on exploring the blackened depths of the cosmos. It was the early aughts, and the group’s singer and guitar player Mike Michalski took lead of this ragtag band of thrashers who knew from the beginning that they wanted to do more than write what he calls “pretentious love songs to Satan.”

One day, while wandering around the annual sci-fi and fantasy Sodom and Gomorrah that is Dragcon the group came face-to-face with an ancient order of Force-wielding rockabilly punks with a penchant for theatrics—Grand Moff Tarkin. Featuring Atlanta artists and underground impresarios Jim Stacy and Shane Morton, GMT pushed the Star Wars theme to the extreme, with an array of spot-on costumes, props, and a legion of stormtroopers to do their bidding.

In an instant, Ecryptus emerged with an arsenal of wholly new and sinister Star Wars-themed black metal to serve the Dark Side.

“Grand Moff Tarkin did their thing with unapologetic campiness,” Michalski says, “but we wanted to make serious songs and treat the source material how many bands treat Tolkien. So we thought, how can we hint at the Dark Side of Star Wars without getting completely sued?”



In 2008, Ecryptus unleashed the Astral Crusades EP, breathing life into the group’s campaign for Darth metal supremacy with songs such as “Imperial Revenge,” “Abandon All Hope,” and “Execute Order 666.” More than a decade later, the “Rancorous” b/w “Execute Order 666 MMXVIII” 7-inch summons a supernatural whirr of cosmic grind, making their transformation to the Dark Side complete.

“Ecryptus,” according to Star Wars lore, was the name of the cavern deep below the surface of the planet Korriban where the ancient Sith species first encountered the Dark Side of the Force. Most of the songs the group has recorded and played live deal with the more horrific scenarios that are woven throughout the Star Wars canon that people only familiar with the films might have never thought too deeply about: being sentenced to death by Rancor, being frozen in carbonite, enslaving an entire planet of wookies, and so on.

“Rancorous” opens with a mighty roar before a spiraling assault of blast beats and demonic incantations rise over searing guitar leads that burn with the heat of Vader’s red lightsaber. On the flipside, “Execute Order 666 MMXVIII” resurrects what has become Ecryptus’ unofficial anthem with a new recording, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Astral Crusades’ release. The song chronicles Anakin Skywalker’s perspective of executing Emperor Palpatine’s “Order 66” to slaughter the Jedi. “Making the Emperor say “666” was fun,” Michalski says.

The line up at the time of recording the “Rancorous” single featured Michalski, aka Lord Crypt, performing alongside bass player Lord Tenebris, born Allen Keller of Degradations, drummer Dan Solo, aka Danny Ryann (ex-Gigan), and guitar player Ryan Lamb. Lamb moved to Orlando shortly after the songs for the 7-inch were recorded. Lord Abraxas, aka Justin Brown (ex-Synapse Defect), now plays guitar.

The 7-inch arrived pressed on a multi-hued galaxy of vinyl colors: Cauterized Saber Wound, Mace Windu Purp Surp, Ghrey Rey, Opening Crawl Rotten Banana, Gamorrean Guard Mucus, Sarlacc Puke After Trying To Digest Boba Fett, Luke’s Lame-Ass Saber, and Dagoba Green.

Ecryptus. Photo by Emily Harris.

Live, the group takes the stage sporting sith-corpse paint, robes, armor, Dragoncon-acquired lightsabers, and their friend Scara Slayfield wearing her best “Hutt Slayer” Princess Leia outfit, serving drinks to the stage, and adorning the monitors.

The group recently finished recording material for a new EP that’s due out in the Spring of 2021. More recent Ecryptus songs draw inspiration from the expanded universe—characters from Star Wars comic books, novels, and video games.

The forthcoming EP is tentatively titled Kyram Beskar’gam, and, if you watched the The Mandalorian—and you know you did—you already know the title is Mando’a for “Death Armor/Metal.” The new EP will feature songs with titles such as “Cauterized Saber Wound Massacre,” “Planetary Enslavement,” “Compulsion to Disintegrate,” and “Digested over 1000 Years.”

“With each new release, we give in to our anger,” Michalski says, “and become more the Dark Side’s servant …”

In the words of Darth Vader, “You don’t know the power of the Dark Side!”

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Entertainment: ‘Voyeur’


The Howling, The Beyond, Driller Killer, Evil Dead 2, The Legend of Boggy Creek, Slumber Party Massacre, Fright Night, The Fog

If you were breathing oxygen in the ‘80s, merely mentioning these titles stirs up memories of youthful fascination, elation, and terror while staring at the artwork for these horror classics of the VHS era. “Voyeur,” the second single from Entertainment’s forthcoming Horror parts 1 and 2 EPs, pushes this aesthetic nostalgia to a deeper and darker place within the imagination.

As vocalist Trey Ehart explains, “‘Voyeur’ is probably the most direct reference on the EPs to being bored and young in rural suburbia, and spending time absorbing horror movies and skate tapes from the local VHS rental store.”

“Voyeur” falls on the heels of Entertainment’s previously released single, “Maggot Church,” and taps into a more severe sense of urgency before diving deeper into the rabbit hole of hazy and cinematic ambiance. Tom Ashton of the March Violets unfurls a rich, goth-tinged production, as Ehart’s heavily affected voice drives the song’s unhinged melancholy and dreamlike vibe with lyrics such as: “video stains my eyes,” “dreams returned too late, screams in the gages of youth,” “show me ways of new desire,” and “static shivers so strange.”

“Each lyric glamorizes the impact of being exposed to a life and music outside of mainstream culture with over saturated practical effects, unnecessarily gratuitous glimpses of nudity, and underground soundtracks,” Ehart says.

The song’s constrictive and alluring melodies grow increasingly more pronounced in the Candelabra Cage Match mix, which comes courtesy of Beta Machine’s bass player Matt McJunkins, who also performs with Puscifer, A Perfect Circle, Eagles of Death Metal, Poppy, and more.

Keep an eye out for the video, directed by John Breedlove of Hip To Death to arrive soon.

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John Densmore of The Doors on ‘The Seekers’

It’s the people one encounters along the way that turns any trip into a journey.

On Wednesday, December 16, the iconic drummer John Densmore joined me for an A Cappella Books exclusive Zoom chat discussing his latest memoir, The Seekers: Meetings With Remarkable Musicians (and Other Artists).

Densmore is the former drummer for the late great Los Angeles psychedelic rock group the Doors. With The Seekers, he reflects on a lifetime spent crossing paths with greatness. From artists such as Elvin Jones to Joseph Campbell, Patti Smith, the Dalai Lama, Willie Nelson, and John Coltrane, his own mother, and more, The Seekers is a rumination on the knowledge that Densmore has gained through various remarkable encounters, and an exploration of his own relationship with art, music, and humankind.

Press play above.

Click here to read an interview with Densmore discussing his previous book, The Doors: Unhinged.

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Emily Marie Palmer & Jeffrey Bützer: ‘Rebekka’


Jeffrey Bützer and Emily Marie Palmer have released a new single titled “Rebekka.”

The song finds Bützer and Palmer embracing an elegant folk-pop sound that serves as an invisible soundtrack that’s loosely based on The Ballad of Jack and Rose, a film about a daughter that has an unhealthy relationship with her father. As Bützer explains, the song’s protagonist is “raised in a former comune and has really only been around him for her entire life, and, more or less, falls in love with him. I didn’t want to write a salacious incest folk song, so I kept the mood and changed the intent.”

The song features Bützer playing guitar alongside vocalist Palmer, backing vocalist A. R. Palmer, piano and guitar player Lionel Fondeville, Eric Balint playing vibraphone, and cello player Kristin Haverty. The group weaves together a rich tapestry of ethereal, cinematic chamber pop that tells a story that is as tragic or as wistful as whatever the listener brings to the music. The cover art is courtesy of filmmaker Guy Maddin.

Jeffrey Bützer (left) and Emily Marie Palmer. Photo by Ken Lackner


If Palmer looks familiar, you probably recognize her from her roles as Isabel on the rebooted MacGyver series, or as Betsy in season 3 of Cobra Kai—teenaged John Kreese’s love interest. Check out her previous singles “Holy Magic,” “For Beauty,” and “Two Brothers.”

“Rebekka” offers the first glimpse at a new eight-song full-length album, titled Bedrooms, due out later this year.

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Kevn Kinney’s Free Parking: Elvis & Bowie stories Friday, January 8

For this Friday’s Free Parking live stream, Kevn Kinney is diving into a set of mostly loosely veiled topical songs from throughout his career—Drivin N Cryin songs such as “With The People,” “The Innocent,” “Scarred But Smarter,” “Another Scarlet Butterfly,” and more.

As the flier suggests, there is something of an Elvis and David Bowie-related theme this week. It’s Elvis and Bowie’s birthday, so settle in to hear stories about Kevn’s trips to Graceland over the years, high adventure in Memphis, maybe a Sun Records medley, and stories of crossing paths with the Thin White Duke himself.

It’s free to tune in and watch via Drivin N Cryin’s Facebook page, and it’s a pay-what-you’d-like type of deal. Music starts up at 8 p.m. Eastern.

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SOULd OUT ska reggae explosion w/ DJ Mrs. 45 at the Star Bar January 16

Dirty South Booking.

DJ Mrs. 45 makes the trek from South Carolina for an evening of spinning classic ska, reggae, and soul 45s, in the basement lounge at the Star Bar.

The music starts up at 9 p.m. and the records will spin till midnight. Wear your mask and bring your dancing shoes!

$5 at the door. Saturday, January 16. 9 p.m.

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West End Motel: ‘New Years Day’


Happy New Year! West End Motel kicks off the new year with a new jam, appropriately titled, “New Year’s Day.”

Singer and co-writer Tom Cheshire offers up some intel on the song’s words and meaning:

‘Well New Year’s Eve has always been a celebration of just another year being alive, and this year it rings truer than ever. Yesterday, my friend Rob Kincheloe sent me a text saying ‘Happy New Year, if you’re alive you won.’

With ‘New Year’s Day,’ I wanted to write a love song, with a sense of humor in it, and a sense of hope. We always talk about these New Year’s resolutions but they only seem to last a week or two. That’s why there are lyrics in the verse like ‘I know I’ve made mistakes but this time we’re gonna be great,’ and ‘Talk to me on New Year’s Day, I’ll find a place for us to stay,’ and ‘This year is for me and you, all the things that we’re gonna do.’

I also wanted it to be a nod to ’70s soul. I was channeling Motown and the Jam when I started writing it. But Ben Thrower, who wrote it with me, said without realizing it we were flirting with the sounds of early E Street band.

Either way, I love the way it came out. I love the New Year’s horn riff that Ben Davis plays at the end. I guess it is a celebration of being alive and maybe finding love again.’

“New Year’s Day” is the fourth single from West End Motel’s ongoing campaign to roll out a new single each month till Spring. After that, they’ll turn around the fourth proper West End Motel full-length album.

Check out the previous singles:




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Kevn Kinney’s Free Parking: Christmas Special

Tune in to Drivn N Cryin‘s Facebook page on Christmas night to catch Kevn Kinney performing live in his attic! Kevn is a pillar of Atlanta music. He has the stories and he has the songs that place a sometimes rugged, always poignant spin on the past as well as the here and now.

The music starts at 8 p.m. He’ll plays some Drivin N Cryin classic cuts, some deep cuts, a few newer numbers, some solo joints, and maybe even a cover or two.

It’s a pay-what-you-want type of deal.

In the meantime, press play below to hear my April 2019 podcast interview in which Kinney talks about reconnecting with Drivin N Cryin’s first LP, the group’s most recent album, Live the Love Beautiful, and looking within himself to find true happiness.

John Densmore of the Doors on ‘The Seekers’

John Densmore photo by Jeff Katz.


It’s the people one encounters along the way that turns any trip into a journey.

With his latest memoir, titled The Seekers: Meetings with Remarkable Musicians (and Other Artists), John Densmore, the former drummer with the late great Los Angeles psychedelic rock group the Doors, reflects on a lifetime spent crossing paths with greatness. From Elvin Jones to Joseph Campbell, Patti Smith, the Dalai Lama, Willie Nelson, his own mother, and more, The Seeker is a rumination on the knowledge that Densmore has gained through various remarkable encounters, and an exploration of his own relationship with art, music, and humankind.

On Wednesday, December 16, at 7 p.m. Eastern, Densmore and I will talk via Zoom about playing drums in one of the greatest psychedelic rock bands of all time, and the characters with whom he has crossed paths.

A Cappella Books hosts our conversation. Tickets are limited to 100 guests. Head over to A Cappella’s website to pre-order a copy of “The Seekers,” which includes a bookplate signed by Densmore, along with your private invitation to sign in to our Zoom chat. Your access code will arrive via email from A Cappella Books a day ahead of the program.

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