Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fear Factory with Suffocation, Hypocrisy, and Decapitated [Worcester Palladium, 11/17/2006]

If you live with a reasonable drive of central New England and missed this show, your loss; front to back, this was one of the best gigs I can remember.

It was a good thing that I was uncertain when doors were (thanks, random RTTP poster with incorrect information!), as I ended up leaving for this show a few minutes after 5, and needed every minute of it to get down by doors, allowing me to get down right on the railing (not exactly front and center, but I had to get a beer to wash the stale hard taste of car-filtered air out of my mouth -- this was some hard driving from 128 onto the Pike). I wasn't hugely up for Decapitated, but it'd be cool to see them up close, and I would have no chance of getting a decent spot for Hypocrisy (well, without throwing elbows around like a dick) if I didn't. Fortunately, they didn't disappoint, and set the tone strongly for the underground portion of the bill to come.

Decapitated [6/7]:
As with practically every opening band at the Palladium, their sound was a little off, but they made the best of it and also turned the crowd around. The energy was a little low at first because it was only the real diehards who were down front, but it built steadily through the set thanks to an extremely solid performance. Some of this is probably due to the music; Decapitated's style is built around fairly avant-garde guitar leads, without a rhythm guitar to help the bass set up the riff structure, and this can be tough to get into live until you get a feel for how they're playing it tonight, and they didn't have quite the PA support for their ridiculous technicality that Suffocation did, which confused the music a little until the soundboard got them somewhat dialed in. The pit was fairly calm, but those of us who were up front were into it, and overall this was a kickass performance that should have been better. "Should have been better" solely because it should have been longer; they got barely half an hour, which is one of the leading arguments for the contention that I'm going to make at the end of this review.

Hypocrisy [7/7]:
This is what I came for, and Peter et al delivered more or less exactly as anticipated. Their sound was better than for Decapitated, but this may have been more of an artifact of style; Hypocrisy is strongly groove-oriented rather than focusing exclusively on technical fireworks, and this demands somewhat less out of the PA setup. Of course, I was in the fourth or fifth row (from the stagefront, I was right on the rail but spread out wide to the side stage right) and thus getting most of the sound straight out of the backline rather than from the PA, which was going mostly over my head, but still. The set was pretty much greatest-hits material (as listed below, no "Carved Up" or "Buried" and nothing off Fourth Dimension), but when you have only 45 minutes to distill a 15-year career into, you'd fucking better play greatest-hits, or your fans are going to throw eggs at the headliner's tour bus for screwing them out of their favorites, and they'll blame you. Still, of course, it was incredible; I mean, come on, it's fucking HYPOCRISY. I'm still hoping to see them at Wacken one of these years (probably this year or next given their history with the fest), but this was still a tremendous, tremendous experience.

Hypocrisy's setlist:
Fractured Millennium (surprised they didn't open with War Path, it's a badass opener as well as from the current record)
Adjusting The Sun (pit went bananas from the first riff)
Osculum Obscenum (only pre-Abducted song)
War Path
Roswell-47 (lots of people singing on this one)
The Final Chapter (no idea why they didn't swap this and Knife, it's just about the best death metal set closer ever written)
Let The Knife Do The Talking (new song, so the crowd didn't wholly catch on to the "kill...kill...kill..." bit right away)

Suffocation [7/7]:
There were slightly fewer people down front for them as opposed to Hypocrisy, but this just meant more room for the pit. People were going balls-out; on a couple songs there were at least two independent pits going on, including at least one basically in the front row. I spent about a quarter of the set facing basically into the crowd, acting as a shock absorber to keep people from being thrown into the railing. Good times. Also, Suffo's sound was FUCKING UNBELIEVABLE, incredibly thick and sharp, probably the best and cleanest that I've heard live, and at least the best that I can remember. The band was really on their game, and Frank, pressed for time (again, same situation as Hypocrisy, they got about 45 minutes), at last kept his jabbering between songs down to a reasonable level. The only pick points on this one were that at the start, the bass was a little too loud and Terrance Hobbs' guitar wasn't really cutting through on his solos on my side (he was stage left most of the show), but they fixed this and gave Mike a little more power on his toms, and all was good. Actually, all was FUCKING INCREDIBLE, but that's what happens when you give a great band on a peak night great sound and an enthusiastic crowd.

During some of the more psycho parts, I and a few other people were helping prevent someone's kid brother -- looked like 11 or 12 -- from getting totally killed by the encroaching pit. There were a couple other kids in the floor crowd as well, which was cool, though unusual, as it really calls into question the sanity of the people who brought them in there. We don't need security standing on the stairs, next to a sign that says "You must be THIS tall to go on the floor", but for the sake of common sense, if you're gonna bring a kid onto the floor at a brutal show, GET THEM ON THE DAMN RAIL! From the first row, they can see the band without us six-foot, 250-pound behemoths in the way, and they additionally are in significantly less danger of getting seriously injured by someone breaking through the pit wall, or trampled accidentally by someone trying to keep the wall where it's supposed to be. By all means, bring your sprogs and younger siblings to the show, but don't put them in the middle of the floor until they've gotten their main growth spurt.

Funniest moment from Suffocation: Frank calls out shout-outs to the other bands on the bill. "All the way from Poland -- DECAPITATED!!!" The front of the house yells a lot. "Our good friends from Sweden -- HYPOCRISY!!!" The front of the house yells more and throws the horns a lot. "We are from Lon Giland Noo Yawk, and we are SUFFOCATION!!!" The front of the house yells a lot and throws the horns some more. "And coming up, FEAR FACTORY!!!" A giant roar goes up from the BACK of the house, and some people up front clap some.

Fear Factory [5.5/7]:
This ought to give the lie to any developing impression that national headliners automatically get great scores just for showing up. A seven is a seven is a seven, whether by a local band at a local show or an international legend headlining Wacken, and this set, despite being by a recognized band headlining a major club, would still have pulled a 5.5 whether it was delivered at O'Brien's or on the Party Stage. If I had to pick three words to describe this set, they would be "competent", "loud", and "boring"; some of this is probably lingering aftereffects of the underground portion of the bill, but seriously, Decapitated played a couple songs that were themselves more technically challenging than Fear Factory's entire set. Hell, HYPOCRISY played some songs that were more technical than Fear Factory's entire set, and they're hardly known for being bruisingly technical as a death metal band. Of course, music need not be technical to be good, but Fear Factory here was trying to play nontechnical music while still coming off as technical and brutal by virtue of pure volume. Unfortunately, they were too loud for the hall and crushed their actual sound, while still not managing to cover up the fact that Christian would go for minutes at a time without changing his fingering, just changing where on the neck his hand was. If I could actually be bothered to learn to play Fear Factory songs, even I could do that; emulating the other instrumentalists on this bill would require a significant talent transplant and approximately five thousand years of practice.

The pit was nice and turbulent for Fear Factory, but I wasn't in it, and there was precious little especially appealing about their set. It was well-executed, and the band was on their game, but the standard of execution here is necessarily lower because the songs are a lot easier to play. It was still a good performance, but it followed a long night of balls-out incredible performances by the nominal openers, and necessarily felt like somewhat of a letdown. This leads into the contention in the next paragraph, but first it must be mentioned that before going on, they played Iron Maiden's "The Number Of The Beast" in its entirety. Nu-metal is officially dead and buried; I thought they were going to just steal the Vincent Price intro, but no, they stole Iron Maiden's thunder and their complete whole classic to get the crowd up for them. I was singing along and lolling inside, much the same as the other undergrounders around me who had pulled up onto the carpeted area to give the FF fans the floor.

The core contention here is that Fear Factory maybe shouldn't have played this at all. Granted, I'm not sure that either Suffocation or Hypocrisy could have filled the Palladium on their own, and there isn't really a club between that and the Middle East in size for them to play in Massachusetts, but as far as Hypocrisy's catalog goes, there's a lot of stuff that just plain got left out, and the way Suffocation was just crushing along, they could have gone on for two hours and no one would have really cared. This was a kickass show, but it would have been flat incredible with one or two local openers, Decapitated getting 45 minutes, and Hypocrisy and Suffo coheadlining at about an hour each, flip a coin while the local guys are going on to decide who's closing the show. The lesson of course out of this is to PUMP UP THE FUCKING UNDERGROUND, so that a tour like this is economically viable. Continue supporting brutal music, and make sure the bands know that we want them to stay heavy, stay underground.

Even so, it's fairly admirable of Fear Factory to put together a package like this; it shows both their confidence in their own ability to control the attentions of their fans, to provide a good experience so that their people will still see them as a highlight even when they get technically shelled by the support, and their continuing commitment to the brutal underground, because no matter how much they try to call themselves "heavy alternative", it's still metal fans buying their albums. As Seth Putnam's said in the past, "face it, you're a metal band". Fear Factory are facing up to this, and also showing some integrity by paying back dues to the brutal bands who were around with them when they got their start. Good intentions didn't necessarily make their set any better, but they deserve credit for it all the same.

Working hard on the second book, which is going to be less metal but more brutal; next show is probably Blind Guardian due to family holiday commitments.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hirax with Mouth Sewn Shut, Random Acts of Violence, Hirudinea, and Reverend Grundarr and the Unholy Trinity [Middle East, Cambridge, 11/12/2006]

Two shows in one weekend is a lot for an old dude who still has something fucked up with his back, as well as a book to write and a shitload of Chinese homework to do, but it got accomplished, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. Katon needs to start having better judgement about promoters so that Hirax can stop having 60% of their tour cancelled, so that everyone can get a chance to experience something like this.

Of course, the show didn't start out nearly as smooth as it finished. This was a Sunday show, and not everyone has the ability to just take the next day off and rock out, so the hall (downstairs, there were some punk/core/emo [no idea] bands playing upstairs) wasn't completely full, and most of the openers played to pretty much a handful of fans. The overall turnout for the openers was similar to Saturday at the Skybar, but with the vital difference that many more of us in the audience here, in both absolute and relative terms, were not in bands on the bill.

Reverend Grundarr and the Unholy Trinity [5/7]:
Maybe it was the better sound from the music-hall (as opposed to bar) PA, maybe it was because I wasn't half as drunk, or maybe because they were opening up the show rather than following Swashbuckle, but these guys sounded a lot better here than they did at O'Brien's two weeks ago. Unfortunately, this is somewhat restricted information, because the number of people in front of the stage watching them was somewhat desperately limited. After I got down to the front, becoming the fifth audience member, I was going to say something about it being okay to start, now that there were more people in the audience than onstage, but didn't, because I don't really know any of the band members personally, and the only thing worse than playing to a next-to-empty floor is when the next-to-empty floor is also making smartass comments. They persevered, though, showing off the diversity in their writing and composition that often tends to get fuzzed out by the sound equipment of the venues they normally play, even some Bay Area touches that I didn't recall being able to pick out on their CD, and we responded on par with the complement of Henry Rollins' old maxim: if a band, no matter how small, is there playing a show and rocking out, you have a responsibility as an audience to rock hard as well, to show appreciation for their hard work. More people came down during the set, and it had to be counted as a success, but this isn't really the kind of band that's best seen behind a huge metal railing; despite the debits to sound clarity, it's probably better to catch them somewhere where they can set up on the floor in the middle of the audience.

Hirudinea [5/7]:
I could say that this band put together a strong set of blackened death/thrash, but then someone would certainly say that this statement actually doesn't carry any information at all. Both parts of the above are certainly correct; Hirudinea's sound is mostly thrash with a few death metal turns and some black metal shadings, but just saying so doesn't really give any indication of what this makes them sound like. It probably helps to note that their current release is the A side of a split with Watchmaker, and that they covered the Cro-Mags and some early Mayhem in this set with about equal power and punch. They have good execution and intensity, and their overall sound is plenty cool, but they seemed to need just that little more on their original stuff to make them really stand out. Maybe it's on the CD (which I haven't listened to yet, that's on the plate for tomorrow), or maybe it's still ahead; regardless, these guys are playing good brutal thrash right now, and it's quite worth going up front for if they're opening a show you're at. The only disappointment was that they had to stop right after doing "Deathcrush"; it felt like they were only just getting fired up.

Random Acts of Violence [6/7]:
These guys have played a lot of shows with My Pet Demon, but I somehow hadn't managed to actually see them before this show. In contrast to the rest of the bill, including the headliners, they showed off a much more melodic thrash style, more "North Shore" than "South Shore", which has got to be one of the silliest scene splits out there. It wasn't just the change of pace that set these guys apart; there were some serious skills being shown off here, in the context of a bunch of good music. Their CDs are also on deck for tomorrow, at which point I'll have made a significant knowledge turnaround on yet another "should know more but don't" band; if you don't know these guys yet, you should also do likewise.

Mouth Sewn Shut [5/7]:
Abstractly, these guys were pretty cool; brutal hardcore changed up with reggae, which at least is different and which in this case was executed pretty well. Concretely, though, you really have to wonder what the HELL they were doing on this bill, as they had almost nothing in common with either the headliners or the other local support. They were a nice oddity and had some good music, but they felt a little out of place here, and didn't really endear themselves to anyone by running over their scheduled timeslot and pushing Hirax later. This is a band that you really have to see yourself to decide an opinion on; their mix of the intense and the laid back will appeal to some people, but others will hate it with even greater intensity.

Hirax [7/7]:
If you've got an illustrated dictionary (to pull out and mock people with when they go back to that old stereotype of metalhead == retarded), and it doesn't have a picture for AWESOME, Aaron has plenty of pictures from this set that you can print out and just paste in next to the definition; almost anything will do. Seriously, this set was something to behold; not as packed down front as this hall was for Vital and Dismember last month, but this just gave the pit more room to be absolutely insane, and the front row was still so thickly stuffed that Katon was able to surf out off the railing on several occasions. The band's intensity and firepower was further amplified by some deft showmanship; the thrash metallers were full up for a rare Hirax date from the start, but they lit a royal fire under the hardcore segment with a punishing cover of "Hostile Territory", and in doing so got everyone's energy up even further. The end of the set -- until the encore, where we had to stop and roar the band back onstage -- was kind of a blur mostly from that point, as I was banging around, throwing moshers -- including this little ~40-year-old-guy who could teach any dozen Palladium tough guys a thing or two about totally insane thrashing -- back into the pit, and much more feeling the music than listening to it. Still, AWESOME. Opeth, you lean back and listen; Hirax, you charge forward and feel. Rumor is that the band will be coming back around "soon", or maybe just "next year", and it's not totally impossible that someone in Rhode Island could get a backline and some axes together for the band and get the Providence date on the 16th uncancelled; whatever the opportunity that avails itself, you should take advantage and check these guys out.

My stack of patches that I still haven't put on my jacket increases; I got one of Hirax's good (as opposed to the more common "crummy plain cloth") patches in addition to the Barrage of Noise EP, and may have time to sew it up on Friday before Hypocrisy (yes, Suffocation and Fear Factory are nominally above them on the bill, but my jacket should speak amply for my mind on the matter), if I'm not doing Chinese homework or typesetting the book. This'll be the only show next weekend; someone's getting up a gig at Mark's on Saturday, but there is officially No Fucking Way I miss Michigan battle Ohio State effectively for the national title. GO BLUE!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Accursed with Revocation, Extinction Agenda, Graveheart, and Mechannibal [Skybar, Somerville, 11/11/2006]

O'Brien's in Allston is, effective Monday, closed until February for renovations/deshittification, so the Boston scene has to find another hole to hibernate in for the winter. If Saturday night is any indication, the Skybar will do just fine. Of course, any bar that sells beer at reasonable prices and will put up with people crowding the floor with equipment would probably do just as well; it was the bands, not the venue (though it definitely has its attractions, described later), that made this show so awesome.

For once, the drive in was reasonable, and the directions were pretty much ok...modulo having to get through Harvard Square, which as always is messily arranged, and having to guess my way around the rotary at the end. I got in a little after doors, but this turned out not to matter so much because the bar's sound guy was late, and the show was delayed a little, letting me drink down a couple beers, soak up the atmosphere, and catch the Michigan score, which I'd missed due to Chinese class. Next week may be rough due to such factors, but class gets out at 4, and there's a bar like, right next door to BLI.


Mechannibal [5/7]:
This was one of their first shows, and it showed to a certain degree as they started slow, but finished strong. People on RTTP have been comparing their grind-thrash sound to all kinds of bands, but for me, the consonance was strongest to something like early Hirax and/or classic Napalm Death. Short, riff-driven, highly focused songs with a lot of power, though the band is clearly still working on their identity. With further development, they could be really good, though it's by no means a lock that every promising new band will achieve that promise. The guitarist/vocalist of Reverend Grundarr and the Unholy Trinity is on the drums here, and quite impressive; unfortunately, they don't have anything recorded yet as far as I know, but they're really just getting their footing as a band, and this may change in coming months. Good stuff, good set.

Graveheart [6/7]:
Formerly Blistered Earth, this band not only pulled off a very cool and tight set of thrash, but also really pointed up several things about both the genre and how to listen to it in this kind of setting. While this band is most simply described as thrash, "blended thrash" may be more accurate; a lot of their sound is inherited from NWOSDM and its descendants, but it's strongly mixed with a thick dose of the old Bay Area sound. The result is really cool, but the way to get it, at least for the present, is live only; they're going to be doing their first recording this coming week. I should have asked about any Blistered Earth material that they need to unload, but they were really impressive here and I'll probably at some point be seeing them again.

Of course, it was only this impressive because I recognized early that you have to watch the guitarist's hand action if they're playing a solo and you're standing in front of the rhythm guitarist, a problem throughout here with two-guitar acts. The solo guitar really needs to be turned up to slice through the riff that the rhythm guitar and the bass are laying down, but a lot of the time in a small venue, where the PA is getting totally ruled by the musicians' cabs, it just doesn't happen. This is where CDs make a difference, and let you know who you need to be burned up about them not getting support slots in larger halls.

Extinction Agenda [5/7]:
This band was noted as "German-influenced thrash" on the flyers that I saw, and the early Kreator sound was apparent from the first riff -- as if the singer's Tormentor shirt wasn't enough of a giveaway. (If there's another Tormentor that has never had Mille Petrozza in their lineup, let me know, but this is my context.) This was some good stuff, but unfortunately they also had a few organizational problems with their arrangements that were also reminiscent of some of Kreator's first work. It was a good set despite the slack or weirdly-structured parts, and this may just have been a down night for them, but for me this is no more than a suspicion: I haven't seen them before, and I wasn't able to get a CD. This is all my fault, though, because instead of immediately hunting down the band to get their demo, I went next door for some Chinese food, and by the time I was in merch-buying mode, they had gone back to New Hampshire.

These are the principal advantages of the Skybar over other venues: unlimited reentry, and a decent Chinese restaurant next door. Of course, I should have eaten before drinking rather than after, but at least it worked out. I devoured my zhongguatsai and got back in plenty of time for Revocation.

Revocation [6/7]:
If you want, you can call this a 6.5. This was an even better performance than two weeks ago, with a much better and cleaner guitar sound, despite Dave snapping his D string in the middle of the second or maybe third song. He finished the song, swapped out for his backup axe, and continued to devastate. As before, it's no coincidence that members of this band consistently wear Dark Angel shirts to their gigs; the influence is strong, but it is consistently getting more difficult to talk rationally about Revocation without mentioning the A-word. You know, the A-word from Florida that's irrationally awesome and ends in "theist". Of course, they're not quite at Atheist's level yet, but the influence is obvious, and the degree of development, even from their recent demo, is similarly undeniable. Definitely a band to watch; they debuted a new song without lyrics at the end of their set, and if this is an accurate foretoken of their next recording, it's going to be really stellar.

The Accursed [6/7]:
Though they weren't as technically outstanding as Revocation, they definitely brought a long share of intensity in their mix of thrash and melodic death, though things were a little slack at first. This was probably because most of the crowd was either outside or on their way home after Revocation, but a good number did make it back in and thrash it up. It was a good performance, with a lot of participation from the guys who'd traveled up from New Bedford for them in the front row, including a special-guest performance on guitar, giving one of their guys a break for a song. It was a cool set, but it did necessarily lose something to the hometown heroes; I still picked up their merch, as they were one of two bands with stuff generally available, and I had already picked up basically one of everything from Revocation two weeks ago.

Hirax tonight with another strong slate of local openers; review will be up tomorrow or so, and the book will probably be finished by Wednesday.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm not in Metal Church's new video

Back at the start of the day on Saturday at Wacken 2006, Metal Church shot most of the footage that went into their new video for "Mirror Of Lies". I was in the front row and did a nice gonzo grimace into the handheld camera that they had walking through the photo pit, but did not make it into the final cut. Just the way it goes, ya know?

This weekend may generate a record two show reviews -- make that will, because with Hirax cancelling 60% of their tour, there's slim chance that I'm going to see them in the near future if I don't crack my back into shape from the local show tomorrow and get down to the Middle East Sunday.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Celtic Frost with Goatwhore and Frozen [Worcester Palladium, 11/5/2006]

Taking a break from working on the book to post this one, partly because I need to make sure that it gets done, and partly because I twisted up my back Saturday and aggravated it at the show, making sustained concentration a little difficult. I'm half-done, and still going to try to get 3 or 4 thousand more words today; I may post a sample chapter here later.

Doors were a little later for this one, so the roads were more or less clear coming in, and I got in actually ahead of doors....which just meant more sitting around, waiting for the bands to go on. Maybe because it was Sunday, or maybe because they are just egregious nits, the Palladium jacked their beer prices up (or just ditched the specials), which sucked mightily. What is the point of charging $5.25 at an event where everything else is in round dollars again? You're just busting up the bands' merch earnings, never mind also encouraging people to bring flasks in with this dickish nickel-and-diming.

So, content with my tour shirt and poorly manufactured superstrip (there's got to be a good reason why this one cost an order of magnitude more than Reverend Grundarr's similarly underfinished patch that I picked up at their release show which is not based on assumptions that Celtic Frost fans are suckers) and discontent with my oddly overpriced Sam, I sat around where I usually do, and my kutte happened to draw the attention of some of the guys in Temeluchus, who gave me their demo (number 15 out of 50). Take heed; even if you're not really anyone in the scene, if you have a really well-built jacket, people may occasionally give you free stuff. The CD is fairly good, some nice ritualistic black metal (as far as I can piece out, this is 'true black metal' with slow tempos and keyboards), so if you're also one of those people who have Death's intro to "Freezing Moon" from the Live in Leipzig set memorized and tend to croak it out whenever anyone asks you about black metal preferences, you ought to look it up.

After a longish while, the bands started. At first, this was not immediately percieved as a good thing.

Frozen [5/7]
Despite the name, the show they were opening, and the fact that they had a keyboardist, this was not a black metal band. They certainly sounded like it in the first song, though, at least on the true black metal axis of "mix sucks and you can't fucking hear anything". Fortunately, not only did the sound board get them dialed in by the second or third song, but they got stronger going through their set. Their sound is a little hard to define, probably because it's still in the process of formation, but let's go out on a limb and declare these guys one possible direction of post-metalcore. At the start of their set, this was pretty unambiguous, as they came off as either a heavy band trying to cover Killswitch Engage, or Killswitch somehow trying to play underground metal. As the set drew on, though, a sound a lot more reminiscent of Evergrey started to emerge, until it was ludicrously obvious by the last song. Prog-thrash is the next step out of metalcore when you take it in the metal direction, but it's still somewhat unclear whether the band is actually trying to move out from under the umbrella. This became a good set after starting rotten, but with the balance of the bill the way it was, it's not immediately obvious how these guys got this slot. Their sound being what it was, it's understandable to have them opening for Celtic Frost, but maybe not so much for Celtic Frost and Goatwhore, where the sound was leaning heavily to black/death, and these guys had barely a sliver of death metal in their sound.
These things are true: the lead guitarist is a beast on the frets, even if he sometimes comes off a little underused, and if Jon Schaffer is looking for someone who sounds more like Matt Barlow to take over for Tim "can't write lyrics without pounding his face repeatedly with a brick" Owens, he needs to give this band's singer a call. The resemblance was almost a little disturbing at times, though there are a hell of a lot worse models to take after among singing vocalists.

Goatwhore [5.5/7]
I hate giving out split ratings, but this one had to go here for reasons described below. I went down to the floor just as they were starting up, and from there got a much better view of the band -- and of the bassist and guitarist's spiked shin guards, which actually didn't look overdone in context. When black metal enters into the equation, the standards of ridiculousness get shifted ever so slightly, but they're still there, and the costuming is most often excused by the quality of the performance around it. Goatwhore did a very solid job, kicking out a thick set of black/death blasts that hearkened back to the Greek black metal school that came from Celtic Frost more directly, rather than the Norwegian scene that took its cues from Bathory and now dominates the idea of black metal. Things got pretty turbulent for them, though I managed to stay mostly out of it -- my back was binding up, and there were relatively few enough people that those who wanted to mosh had a fair degree of open space to do it in without getting anyone else involved.
Now, the difficulty with the split rating. Goatwhore put out a very strong, very solid set, but it was also very even, without too many real sharp points where the band really jumped out and hit you in the face. It was a very good performance, though not quite great, and thus I find myself splitting hairs on the score. Most people with sense, though, will know enough to chuck ratings as more than an excessively quick summary. The final takeaway is that this band is quite good live, though still nothing real revolutionary.

Celtic Frost [6.5/7]
I floated around for a while on this fucking score as well, because this was an unevenly great performance that, while it met my expectations, didn't really meet everyone else's. CF on this date was slower, doomier, and slightly more pedestrian than most people seemed to anticiplate, and they didn't do an encore either, despite the degree of yelling done across. It was still a good performance, and the crowd got absolutely insane on some of the faster old material -- "Into The Crypt of Rays" was the definite high point of the night -- but people seemed to expect the old CF without considering either how Monotheist sounds, or the stuff that Tom G.'s been doing since the band was last really active. The doom plod and neo-gothic sounds have always been an integral part of Celtic Frost, and this is mostly what we got; the rawness of their first couple records doesn't really resonate with the band members now 20 years older. It was, within a few degrees, basically the same set that we got at Wacken, and just as well-delivered...though what was delivered wasn't exactly what was expected. I was also on the floor for CF, but further back due to larger numbers of people.

It was, all in all, a decent night out, though a little expensive and the venue was out of line with how they set their beer prices up. Unlike the recent Palladium shows that I've been to, this wasn't thoroughly packed, which may have contributed to the lower energy level in places. Not totally awesome, but still decent, and if you go to a lot of shows, you're going to get a few that are basically just kind of there. Still a cool time, but I'm probably not going to be raving about this one to random people.