This show was about everything a local show ought to be, and a frickin' incredible time for seven bucks. It may well be the best show in Sputnix' history, but this is quite likely because the top three bands on the bill are more than ready to go on to much bigger and better things. At this level, they're mostly doing this sort of thing to keep in shape -- or should be.
Doors was not stupid early, so I had time to drive home and get changed before heading in to Salem, then hang around on the sidewalk for a bit chatting with various people before going in. Because of this stupid review compulsion, I feel guilty if I miss a major part of any band's set.
The Four Horsemen [4/7]
These guys have definitely taken a step up from the last time I saw them, though they're definitely the 'openers' on this bill in terms of overall effect -- and a lot of the focus this time was on their guest guitarist. However, this made a cool and interesting snapshot of the way in which bands rise out of the morass of a local scene, by either breaking up or slowly aggregating the best players of bands that do. The Pantera-worship is still extremely obvious, and the singer still oddly lacks presence, but these are redressable issues. This band is good and getting better, and becoming more original will necessarily come with writing more original material.
Another good band being held back by various factors, I had not heard these death-doomsters before, but was glad to see them put on a cool show. The guitarist has a few more good ideas per song than can always be structured in, and won't exactly be auditioning for Atheist real soon, the bass sound was often buried, and the vocalist had a tendency to sound like Rapid Charlie when doing his clean parts, but it was still a good set of some interesting music, probably the most in my normal underground line of the night.
Kenny was referring to these guys as the Priest/Manowar of the night before they went on, though I have little idea of where he got this from: their sound is a lot more in the line of early Pantera (the 'early' part of their career that the band ever actually acknowledged) or a more brutal Megadeth. They put on a killer set, but it was a little cover-heavy, especially given the talent that they obviously have, but they picked a nice diverse selection of material (seriously, who does "Tornado of Souls" when they play Megadeth?), and kicked ass on that as well.
This really points up one of the biggest advantages of going to local shows; by necessity, you're going to get at least two or three bands that really should be headlining gigs like this or doing local support for national tours -- if you're in a serious local band, you prefer bigger gigs, but will do just about any show to stay in shape. We got a total of three headliner-level performances out of this show, again for basically pocket change.
Some people in the crowd were feeling sorry for Ravage, having to follow Indignation, but this reckoned without the band, and without the fact that these guys were the only outfit on the bill with a record contract at the time. They started off a little slow as Al's vocals got properly dialed in (Pyad had had some problems with the board as well), but eventually wound up and blasted out a strong set of their characteristic power/thrash that got everyone up and moving. The Spectral Rider material sounded great, and the Damnation stuff at least as good, though they're still working up that record. They're not quite ready for the True Metal stage yet, but if they can get some decent label support in Europe and keep making good music, I would not be surprised at all to see them up there early in the day in '09 or '10.
My Pet Demon [7/7]
DAMN. There were a few rough parts, mostly in "Raise The Flag", which as a new song is necessarily somewhat under-rehearsed, though still overall killer; for the most part, though, they were dead on, and when MPD is dead on, they are dead fucking on. The set built in intensity straight through, even past the closer and into the first encore that I can remember them playing since they were headlining my basement. For this they even kicked out "Self Destruct", sandwiched in between "The Trooper" and "Demons Are Forever", even though that song isn't supposed to exist any more. The last two tracks also saw probably the first two crowdsurfers in Sputnix history, which given that the place can hold maybe 100 people, absolute tops, is kind of amazing. A lot of this rating may be the fact that I was basically on top of the stage, flailing and thrashing around into members of the other bands on the bill, also going nuts, burning out energy I didn't know I had left, but this is what local shows do, and it's what makes them special; even in a tiny hall that used to be a Russian bingo room, when nobody on the bill is basically getting paid at all for their music and bands will give away shirts for no reason, just to build scene, we both audience and musicians can synthesize that unbeatable high that you can't get from anything but music. We all know each other, either personally or within three degrees of separation, and thus we can all completely sell out, no need to impress anyone and nobody is going to be fooled.
The next step, of course, for MPD is a real record deal, and it's clear that they're aiming in that direction, especially given the amount of professionalism that is going into the writing process for the new demo (still not recorded, but they played like half of it). Depending on perspective, they're either a companion piece or perfect antidote to the current metalcore trend, and that can't help but be a positive; they've got enough crossover points to appeal to the trend crowd, but their metal roots go deep and they will be around long after this, and the next, trend wave rolls back out. I have to dupe Metal Inquisitor and Spellbound's debuts for Kenny, and probably pack along Hellion and Armageddon's contact info as well. It's too bad that I don't actually know anyone in the business in Germany, but the least I can do is share my knowledge of how the scene is, and where in the business they should look first.
I also found out from Kenny that Maiden will be playing in Boston after all, so I need to get moving on tickets, and from Garret (Bat Cuntry) that Anal Cunt is actually doing a show at the Middle East next Sunday. Gotta see if I can get down for that, for the experience if nothing else. My jacket got a fair share of comments again, but probably more than it deserved; Pat had his kutte on as well, and that has the potential to be substantially cooler if he does a little work on it. From the first three bands on the bill I picked up three new demos (unfortunately, I couldn't wrangle a copy of Spectral Rider); reviews will be forthcoming in with everything else acquired on the weekend.