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.

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