Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hekseri with Revocation, Witch Tomb, Volatile, and Mortalis [Great Scott, Allston, 2/13/2007]

This should have been up earlier, but with the storm and all, this was kind of a tough week. Driving on ice sucks.

Despite the high marginal cost of this show in terms of driving effort and nearly brewing up my car skidding in a snowstorm, this show was worth the hassle; the bands kicked ass, and I didn't get towed, get frostbite, or actually bang into anything on the way back.

I thought I was getting in about on schedule, as it wasn't snowing yet, but I somehow got turned the wrong way round getting off Storrow Drive and had a time of it finding Comm Ave again. I still like Boston; I just get really exasperated with driving around it at times. I ended up parking about 6 blocks away from the venue in one of the few zones that didn't threaten interlopers with towing, and got down to the club probably close to the start of Mortalis' set.

Mortalis [5/7]
I think I saw most of their set -- set times were shortish and pretty uniform -- and they gave a good impression, doing some cool groove-death. This band is still developing, but they've definitely got their feet under them in terms of skills and riffage. Though they were probably the least immediately different band on this lineup, they still put up a good performance and left a positive impression. I'm bummed that I didn't catch their whole set, but hopefully I'll get a chance to see them again -- and at that time, they'll hopefully have something recorded.

Volatile [5/7]
You don't see too many bands, especially on this continent, playing primal thrash metal with high vocals. The best comparison for this band is probably "3 Inches of Blood except not a gag"; the rediscovery by modern thrashers of the first wave of power metal -- King Diamond, Grim Reaper, Helloween, Grave Digger, etc -- and the accompanying realization that done right, this stuff can be pretty cool. They opened up with Slayer's "Tormentor", setting the stylistic tone; it's always cool when people cover stuff off Show No Mercy, though I'm still waiting for someone to do "Evil Has No Boundaries". This was a fairly loose set, but still well-performed and fun to thrash along to, even if they didn't dust off their Grim Reaper to close with.

During the set break, I talked with Dave from Revocation and got the approximate location of the basement gig they're playing on Friday. It sounds like a cool show, and I'm almost not sick any more, but whether I get down is going to depend a lot on the conditions of the roads. If the various DPWs involved get their shit together, it's a definite possibility, but if the storm hangs around or the state/city halfasses things, I won't be crazy about taking on 93 and Storrow under such conditions. (I didn't end up going...more due to still being sick than road conditions.)

Witch Tomb [5/7]
Another cool set, and it was definitely interesting to see the band still set up in burnt cork and sunglasses despite the change of scenery to a much larger and better-maintained bar (the last time I saw them was about the last show that DeeDee's had). The innate black metal vibe from the surroundings was gone, but the band's own black metal spirit soldiered on and put on a cool performance. To my ears, the sound system here didn't quite treat them as well as DeeDee's' necro setup, but this might have had as much to do with where I was standing at each venue as anything else, and it was still a cool set. It felt a little short, but this was the only point that could really be picked in an overall good performance.

Revocation [6/7]
Hooray, Just Another Awesome Revocation Set. Dave didn't throw any new guitar wrinkles into this one, but the total performance was great enough that they weren't really missed, and he's also leveled up his stage banter, providing more lulz around the totally sick thrash epics. There were some calls for "Mother Man" during their set, showing that I'm not crazy, and other people also can't help thinking of Atheist when hearing these guys. The Atheist-driven elements were especially prominent in this set, so it's more understandable why people should start yelling for it now. They were discussing adding some Unquestionable Presence material to their repertoire with some of the people who had been calling for it after the set, and while I'm sure they'll do a decent version of any song or songs they end up working up, having seen Atheist, there's not a lot of stuff that you can do from Atheist without having two guitars to play the two guitar lines. The more new stuff that Revocation gets together, though, the more they construct and develop their own vision of that same idea of technical insanity, so it's a moot point: either they spend time working up some Atheist, or they put that time into originals and parallel evolution takes them on the same path, to the same levels. The awesomeness is the same regardless.

Between Revocation and Hekseri, I got my last beer of the night, a Pabst, and the regret was immediate. Contrary to my prior perceptions, I'm still not healthy enough again to get away with drinking stuff that's not nach dem Reinheitsgebot. Aus mit schwulen "Wasser mit kunstlichen Biergeschmack", wir wollen echtes reines Bier! Given my Tankard spree of late, I'm really questioning why I didn't just correct the bartender. Fucking chemicals.

Hekseri [6/7]
Megan's protestations to the contrary, this was not the worst set that Hekseri's ever done. Of course, it could have been better, but this is largely an intellectual conclusion; I've seen Jason play with them, and he wasn't there last night, so obviously it would have been better had he been on hand slaughtering his bass. However, I can't really think exactly where those lines might have gone that would have resulted in an obvious improvement. As a three-piece, Hekseri feels perfectly balanced between black and thrash metal: on this gig, as of late, they seemed to favor their thrash side more, but the treble-high focus of the sound without the bass guitar kept the black metal vibe current. It wasn't the best set I've seen from them, but it certainly wasn't the worst either, and in any case it was a cool take on their sound.

I wanted to hang around, but environmental factors pulled me away; I had to get back north before the snow turned the highways into skating rinks. I collared the ten-dollar parking fee that the BPD left on my windshield (cheaper than some garages), then made my way back. I nearly achieved my objective; just after getting into Danvers, I came out of about the last technically demanding turn on 128, then went slaloming for about 100 yards or so; fucking climate iced the road and then put snow down on top of it. Unlike last year, I didn't spin out or hit anything; this was greatly aided by the fact that the closest car was about half a mile behind me when I hit the skids, but it's all improved technique (or, more likely, improved luck) that I kept the nose facing forward and was able to recover as soon as I slowed down enough that the tires would bite again. This was not fun and put a bit of a damper on the night, but I didn't damage myself, my vehicle, or anything else, and did manage to make it back in one piece.

Much more of a buzzkill was only getting 3 hours of sleep before I had to get up, play car tetris, and go to work...hopefully, this junk will clear off and this won't be a problem for either Revocation this weekend or God Forbid onTuesday. It's a shitty time for a show, but at least the Middle East is pretty accessible, and I'll get to see them, Arsis, and Goatwhore again -- and get one of those "The Real Black Metal" shirts, both for the cool factor and potentially to wind people up with at 1349. Of course, this is is presuming that they notice it under a jacket that currently has four Immortal devices on it, plus a bunch of kit from Sigh, Mayhem, Celtic Frost, and Dissection.

I went through my parents' basement over the weekend with a fine-toothed comb and found my old demos; there's like 80 minutes of crummy music on those, so now all I need to do is get a MD player, and I can convert them into crummy digital files, potentially to be released as a long and terrible CD-comp. Of course, I haven't listened to them in forever, so I'll have to do that, along with probably some post-prod cleanup, before I make the decision on whether to inflict them on anyone else.

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