Thursday, May 24, 2007

Watain with Angelcorpse, Nachtmystium, Cold Northern Vengeance, and Witch Tomb [Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, 5/13/2007]

Despite leaving a little late and getting backed up on 128 going down to 93 for some bizarre reason, I managed to make it in right about doors, which was a definite positive seeing that given the size of the upstairs and the profile of the bands on this bill, this show was a definite risk to sell out, and I didn't have a ticket. While this was good luck and good practice, it turned out not to matter so much, because actual entrance was delayed by about ten minutes or so; I paid and got banded, then spent the intervening time skimming lemon bits out of a hefeweizen. It's been a long time since I was in Germany, but I persist in the belief that it's a good idea to call doors Einlass to remind the venue that that's when you lass the people ein, and I just can't understand the compulsion to throw fruit wedges in a perfectly good unfiltered beer. WAT ISS DAT FA KACKE?!?

Soon enough, though, they did let us in, and there was time enough to go rummaging for some obscure records at the merch table before Witch Tomb went on. I wasn't initially quite sure what all I got, but if they're selling it at a show this cult, it's almost certain to be cool. (It was, nearly all of it.)

Witch Tomb [5/7]
Despite the fact that this is the same score they've gotten both other times I've seen them -- I don't remember these things so hard so I can just experience the show as it happens and then react to it later -- this was a definite step up for Witch Tomb, both musically -- they've added a fourth member to do effects and second guitar, and the overall sound from the rest of the band is up a notch in general domination as well -- and visually, as Cody's no longer the only one blacked up. As remarked before, it's a cool difference from normal corpsepaint, and in this case it worked especially well with the setup of the venue; four filth trolls in a hellcave howling hate at the world. Of course, all the presentation in the world wouldn't help if the music underneath wasn't cool; as it is, this was a really good set, with some Enslaved touches that I hadn't previously heard/noticed in their crushing necro assault, and I'm definitely looking forward to that coming split with Martyrvore. The set ended a little weirdly, with them throwing a filth-befouled Bible into the audience and then walking off as the effects guy wound out the outro, leaving people unsure as to whether they should cheer yet or not, but it was a kickass performance and a sign of more cool things to come.

Witch Tomb brought Devin from December Wolves up on stage for one song; my ears were still adjusting and I didn't catch what band he's with now, and I also probably lose True Points en passant for admitting that I didn't recognize the song. I can live with this; I've already recognized that not picking up various December Wolves records when I could have was one of the more significant mistakes I've made this decade.

Cold Northern Vengeance [6/7]
Cold Northern Vengeance playing "A Past Forgotten" [7/7]
Fortunately, this show was too cult to be disturbed by leftextremists. And if there were any in attendance, they were likely shown the error of protesting this band by another great set from CNV. The sound here was better than at Mark's, giving the music fuller rein, and the result was definitely impressive. All of CNV's material is really strong, some of the best stylistic succession to the less necro side of the Black Circle done outside Norway, but there are few more sublime experiences in this genre than CNV on a good, solid night like this doing "A Past Forgotten" through good PA. The song eats almost half their set time in a slot like this, but every second's worth it. If you live in New England and pass on their shows, either out of ignorance or because somebody's been lying to you to the effect that they're a political band (which they're not), you need to get your head turned around and come out to see them.

Between the local and touring parts of the bill, I hit the merch table again and picked up a pair of cassettes as well as two Watain patches, which were as well-finished and well-manufactured as you'd expect from a European band. It's a good thing I've got that ultralight that I'm working on, because both patches are too cool not to feature, and there's a limited number of feature slots left on my main jacket. BLACK METAL MILITIA!

Nachtmystium [6/7]
Someone described this band as "psychedelic black metal" since the last time I saw them, and the description does fit at least a little, even with the more necro sound that they were driving here. Overall, they still inherit strongly from Celtic Frost (if not as strong as Goatwhore), but the sharper and more malevolent sound helps them step forward on their own, and to really good effect. This was probably about the best set I've seen from this band, who I've now seen three times in the last month and a half. If this keeps up and Nachtmystium becomes the next on-every-show band after Goatwhore now and Krisiun a couple years back, I don't think anyone's really going to complain.

Angelcorpse [6/7]
I was pretty sure that they were the headliners going in, and it was written up as such on the set times, and they definitely kicked out a headliner-quality set of graveling black/death metal. The sound was tight and focused, more so than you might expect from a band that took most of the last seven years off, and the most prominent death metal elements of the night also drew them the most significant moshing. When they finally closed up, people were still yelling for more; if, as on one of the previous dates, Watain ended up canceling this one, people would have been disappointed, but also would have to be honestly satisfied with the bill so far and Angelcorpse's dominating performance.

Watain [7/7]
Watain, though, did show up, and also showed that there was a reason that they were headlining beyond "we lugged all this stage-dressing crap over from Sweden and it takes too long to clean up". There were a lot of banners and backing props, but the music taking place in front of them, necro but still complex and driving black metal inheriting most strongly from early Dissection, was the real attraction, delivered with straightforward power and conviction. The Dissection influence was made a little more solid towards the end of their set, with a superb 'cover' of "The Somberlain"; 'cover' quoted because more of this band (at least the live lineup) has been in Dissection more recently than any competitor, and in not only heritage but in spirit they're probably the most suited to carrying on Jon's legacy (with, hopefully, less suicidal crazyness). They promised to return -- and given the response from the packed house here, this isn't by any means out of the question -- but more preferable would have been just returning to the stage to do, say "Thorns of Crimson Death" and a couple of their own songs as an encore, but unfortunately at this point the club put the lights on and started encouraging people to evacuate out the back door into the street. Oh well. The immediate general thought was that this sucked, but it was just a small touch of venue bullshit that didn't materially affect the result of a really great, kickass show.

Before I went down, I ran into Ken (MPD); the new record is finished and mixed, and I'm definitely amped up to hear it. Hopefully, it'll be out presently and they'll gig aggressively behind it; My Pet Demon is good stuff, and people beyond the salting of metalheads that we've got on the North Shore need to find out about them.

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