Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Today marks two years since the passing of one of my best friends and most sincere musicians I've ever known: Dakotah Rhodes.
The first time I met these goons was when the band went by the name of Vovchanchyn. I still can't pronounce that name. They opened up for some beatdown show at The Subculture and were totally unphased by the fact that they had just been blindly stared at and walked out by the crowd who were awaiting opportunities to punch each other in the face to random variations of open chugs. I really don't even remember what we talked about that night but I just remember hitting it off immediately with these Westmoreland County terrorists.
After recording and self-releasing several demos and EPs, the band would go on to release 3 full lengths which were more proper representations of what the band would ultimately become. It was fun to watch these guys continually growing from show to show. Unfortunately the final time I got to see the band perform was whenever I got them an opening slot for Pig Destroyer at the Altar Bar to a sold out room. It was the first time I got to see these guys completely destroy a room full of metalheads who were nearly entirely won over by the end of the set. It was at this point that I felt the band was truly onto something that was going to transcend the southwestern PA heavy music scene.
While the core members of the band all contributed equally to the project it was Dakotah who was the sole guitarist and creative force that drove the band to be the most consistently evolving band in Pittsburgh. Initially starting off as an amateur-league Creation Is Crucifixion worship project, the band eventually took on a life of it's own blending in countless elements of all forms of heavy music. Of course many would make the obvious connections with the black metal influences the band was taking towards the end of their run but Dakotah dug so deep into the realms of heavy music that he would somehow manage to find the one sick riff on a Kittie album and draw influence from it.
Dakotah is the kind of guy who, after hours of everyone hanging out at my place, would stick around for several more digging through my CD collection asking to hear what certain things sounded like or buying things at random from my distro because he had a good feeling about them. His dedication to music is exemplified in the truly indescribable sound of the band which genuinely fails to fall into any sort of mold or expectations. Equally as likely to be into Hatebreed as he was Bible Of The Self, he truly was the definition of a music fan.
Whether it was the right-handed guitar played upside down, the octave pedal set-up that allowed him to play both guitar and bass parts simultaneously or the hand-crafted drum set put together by Chooch ... everything about this band was unique. Equally evolving with the music and live arrangements were the vocal stylings and shenanigans by frontman JR who could range from prototype gutterals to a somewhat disturbing black metal-esque shriek.
Live Demo 2009
Refusing to allow their musical legacy pass on along with Dakotah, the remaining members of the band forged ahead with their new project by the name of Nullum. Paired up with the main creative force behind Kamikabe, you can check out their video (which also served as a tribute to Dakotah) here...