The traffic wasn't so bad going down, so I got in around doors. However, Aura of Aquila, who were originally also on this show, had to drop, so I ended up sitting around reading Somber magazine and drinking beers for about an hour. I studiously avoided Jeremy's table as long as possible, because I wanted to be sure I could support the touring bands, and I have this tendency to be completely broke after browsing through Oak Knoll's goods for any length of time. In the end I gave in, but limited myself to four CDs and Abnormality's demo, leaving enough wallet padding to get CDs from both touring bands (and a shirt from Wolven Ancestry) and still have almost enough to cover expenses for Nile. Zircon was set up by then, and shortly kicked things off; by this time, I could have nabbed a beer with the crew at the Lucky Dog, left at the technical doors time, and still got in with time to spare, but of course, there was no way to know that.
They had the shortest set of the night, though not by a whole lot, and they definitely laid out a prime cavalcade of pounding black metal. The death influences seem more subdued every time I see them, but they're definitely still there, no matter how exactly-close they sound like Immortal on certain songs. (This may be an artifact of just seeing the originals like two weeks ago, but so be it.) Scott's guitar was pushed down a little in the mix at times, but overall the sound was killer, and the presentation excellent; this night had some pretty awesome black metal coming down out of the frozen north, but Zircon more than held their own here on their home ground. This is what's really great about DIY tours; you get three to five bands who should all by rights be touring as openers for much bigger acts and putting the fear of obsolescensce into them, right up close for a pittance.
Of course, there's the added tarriff of supporting the touring bands, but you get cool music and swag on the exchange, and they get the money to go to the next gig. If you're feeling reluctant, just remember: next time it might be your friends that just drove 300 miles to play a gig to 20 people on a Wednesday.
Nefastus Dies [6/7]
I wasn't certain how this bunch would work out without a bass player, but the result was admirably done, coming off with a strong Ukranian influence from the treble-high sound and both the relative prominence of the keys and how they were used. The fusion of east-European styles with other recognized currents in Canadian extreme music is really unique and fortunately came off well; the band seemed a little down at the lack of movement and energy in the audience on their first American show, but both sides warmed up to each other (definitely by "Failed Suicide Attempt", which was fucking sick but unfortunately isn't on their current/forthcoming album, which the goombahs who miss them on tour will have to wait till December for and I'm listening to right now), and the bulk of the set was as cool as could be desired. They're going to be distributed by Candlelight in the future, so if you miss on this band, it's your own fault.
I was thinking during each of the touring bands that they'd fucking destroy on a lineup with some of our other New England BM acts; Nefastus Dies teamed with Witch Tomb would leave a swath of devastation in their wake, and Wolven Ancestry alongside Cold Northern Vengeance would be similarly spellbinding. The oddity of Zircon not being included in these calculations, despite actually opening this show and doing a kickass job, was striking, but I quickly realized that this was only because in the black metal caption this part of the country has what might be termed "an embarassment of riches". Seriously, there are a lot of very good bands in this area, all across the black metal spectrum (which, of course, goes only from "very black" to "extremely black", but that's wider than it sounds).
Wolven Ancestry [6/7]
Six corpsepainted Canadians doing a credible job of giving the impression they're from 15 degrees further north and 90 further east, Wolven Ancestry pulled from the roots of the Norwegian scene (a lot of early Emperor and Satyricon) while adding their own mix on top and around, finally presenting something that might best be described to the layabouts who didn't come out as a blacker Borknagar or a a rawer Moonsorrow. The comparisons, of course, are tenuous at best, because this band is working a fully-developed and relatively independent pagan black metal sound that fits in with their Norwegian forebears but still is distinctly of this continent. As mentioned, with CNV they might start a new ice age, but here they were pretty damn awesome, and even without their nailed cover of "Mother North", they'd still have been the best band of the night, despite the technical problems. It was a slim margin, though, but this is because this was such a damn uniformly high-quality show.
I cleared out almost immediately after they wrapped up, though; I wanted to make sure they were actually closing up because I didn't want to miss anything, but I still had to go because it was still an hour and a half to drive back in order to get the three and a half hours of sleep I totalled before going in to work today. It was a high-quality show, and as such I have no regrets, but the exhaustion unfortunately means that I won't be able to repeat the trek tonight for Metal Thursday; those who didn't go out last night have no excuses, since it's Summoning Hate (formerly Downfall, but still Boston's best South American death metal band) and Mortalis with touring doods from Connecticut and Florida. I'll be on my couch nursing sprains from soccer while sewing two more patches on my rig and watching the MLS Thursday ESPN game; next show on my docket is on Friday, with Nile and Chthonic headlining over an impossibly fluid bunch of locals. The prospect of selling enough tickets to cover three to four (Daath is definitely on, Devildriver may do a couple songs since they're stuck with the same tourbus) Ozzfest-level nationals on the same night as Porphyria and Goreality are playing a camp-in show an hour or two further north has driven a lot of the area's better death metal bands off this bill, so I'm feeling a little wary of this total lineup, but the upside of expecting an undercard to suck is that the surprise of hearing one or two good bands you didn't know about before is the more pleasant for it. And, of course, there's friggin' NILE and CHTHONIC at the end of the chain, so they could open with Maniac Mattox and the show would still be cool.