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.
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.
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.
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.