Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Random Acts of Violence with Revocation, Deadlikedeath, and Medicine 4 Tim [Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, 12/8/2006]

Sharp people who were actually there will go "wait, that's not the order, not the way it was on the bill or the way that you usually do review titles". Well, there's a reason for that, which will become clear as we look at the way the bands actually went down.

On getting in, I was struck really by how small this room is; despite being full way over capacity (194 yeah right) when I was down to see Sigh in 2002, I was almost sure that it was bigger. What the hell ever, it doesn't really matter. The order was somewhat surprising when considered in the abstract, but there are some concrete reasons why Revocation had to go on first.

Revocation [6/7]:
I'm not doing fractional ratings for this show (or any others that I can avoid), and so this stays a 6 rather than going up to a 7. Revocation still continues to get better and better every time I see them (so far, at about even two-week intervals), and with the newly finished "Ducttape and Buttrape" (the instrumental they debuted at the Skybar last time), they have enough material to do a full set of "7" material....albeit an extremely short set. To fill out their playing time, it's "5"-level stuff, and while this stuff is by definition solid, it comes off as down next to the absolutely brilliant stuff they're doing the rest of the time.
If you like thrash metal or prog-death, live in New England, and haven't taken it upon yourself to see these guys, you are missing out. To describe their sound accurately, I have to pull from my full range of cult knowledge: bits of Believer, Cynic, Atheist, mid-period Kreator, Imperium, and Converge all showed up last night, but it takes an experienced ear to discern the ingredients out of the surface impression, which is a totally original and totally awesome blend of basically everything good in technical metal since about 1985. Dave continues to pull out one or two guitar tricks that I didn't think were even possible every set, and Anthony continues to tease people with his occasional Choy/Patterson breaks when you'd normally expect him to be laying down rhythm behind Dave's soloing.
Bonus props to Anthony for his Out of the Dark... shirt -- I thought I was like the only person on this continent who had that EP.

So if these guys are so incredibly awesome, why are they opening this bill of local bands? The reason is simple: Phil is also on drums for RAOV, and as he has not yet been completely replaced with robot parts, he still needs to rest up between sets, and for as long as possible. He battled triumphantly through both sets, but if Revocation had gone on next-to-last, as they probably would have if they didn't share members with anyone else on the bill, about two hours behind the kit playing almost ceaselessly fast thrash metal would probably have taken an undue amount out of him.

Medicine 4 Tim [5/7]:
There's an unwritten rule in the NFL whereby black quarterbacks are compared only to other black quarterbacks, and white wide receivers only to other white wideouts, no matter how stupid or wrong the comparison is, or if there's a player whose attributes more closely match the guy with the exception of skin color. If we didn't have a similar "Female Vocalist Rule" in metal, it would be possible to state that this band sounds most like Pantera with a few gimmicks. Unfortunately, what people expect is more "Holy Moses crossed with Crisis". This is less true, but with so few female-fronted bands out there, comparisons are few and far between. M4T's style, apart from the bagpipe intro that their drummer blew while everyone else was setting up (usually a bonus for a Boston band, but here a little out of place because they didn't expand on it or anything), was somewhat mainstream-influenced thrash, not real technical or especially brutal, but still solidly delivered. The kilts, scally caps, and bagpipes suggested that there might be some trad-Irish influences at work, but there wasn't much to be heard after the intro. The weirdest part of the set, though, was when the vocalist took off her vinyl fetish-nurse costume and stripped down to a silver-lame' bikini top and hot pants. Again, some people may have found this hot, but to me it was just plain bizarre....though this may just be personal taste; 'skinny' is not a sell point on this end.
It seemed like their set got cut off short, either because they ran out of material or for some other reason; no idea over here. It just felt cut off is all, and this is probably accurate because of the circumstances that showed up later during RAOV.

Deadlikedeath [5/7]:
The organizers of this event, these guys played a nice, long, set of Boston hardcore that was just fun enough to take the edge off the length of it. Those more into hardcore probably enjoyed this a lot more, but for me, who's never been particularly into this scene, the set seemed to drag on a bit. It was uniformly well-executed, but there's only so many hardcore songs that I can stand to hear in a row, and DLD went over that number by about 3 or 4 on this set. Are they playing, though, for some git in a Hypocrisy jacket with Judas Priest studs on the shoulders? Hell no, and my personal reaction to this set shouldn't have a bearing on the assessment of the quality of the music that they delivered.

Random Acts Of Violence [7/7]:
Yes, this set was as good as advertised. The edge over Revocation here comes mostly from the general energy level, on stage and in the crowd. Where Revocation tries to blow your mind Atheist-style with technical brutality, RAOV mostly follows the Bay Area pattern of subordinating technicality to the groove, and just plain writing incredible songs, and the result is that it's easier for people to get into and get moving to. It certainly helped that the sound guys got their guitar sound right, because a lot of what they do depends on trading leads, and if the lead isn't cutting through the rhythm, a lot of stuff can get lost. Fortunately, almost all the leads cut straight in as they were supposed to, and the effect was truly transformative. There are still more than a few touches of their old hardcore style in their sound, but it's melded in with their melodic thrash attack almost seamlessly, providing just the right amount of color and shading to their sound. The next time these guys do a show with My Pet Demon, go, and watch out, because it's going to be a battle royale of melodic thrash leads, and neither band is going to be satisfied with coming off second best.

When you add it all up, it was a great show, especially for nine bucks, even if the mids were a little scooped set-order-wise. I picked up a RAOV shirt and buttons from them and Revocation, partly to support the bands and partly because I realized on Thursday while putting the Celtic Frost strip on my kutte that I had lost my Motorhead pig at Blind Guardian, and I needed something else to put in its place on the waist strap. The buttons are a temporary solution while I try to track down some similarly impressive chunk of tin from Slayer or someone, but will be moved up onto the collar and pocket areas once the new pin is in. These guys are awesome and deserving of a place on the jacket, and since neither band has put out patches (hint hint hint), buttons are how it has to go. They also look cool, which certainly doesn't hurt.

Next show is Bodom, Amon Amarth, Gojira, and Sanctity on Saturday, and then I'm going to China. This is much less fun than it sounds, trust me.

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