I might have gotten out of work a little earlier, but as it turned out, despite the congestion coming out of Boston and having to stop for gas on the Pike, I managed to get in before the first band started. I didn't know it at the time (as detailed later), though, but that didn't matter a whole lot; I got an unduly-expensive 1516-style beer to go with this otherwise inexpensive gig, and a good place to stand and probably not get hurt.
Skeleton Witch [5/7]
The only band I hadn't heard anything from before, these guys seriously impressed; the fusion of black and thrash metal was well done and fully worthy of a slot with the surrounding bands. Having them open the show might be a little dubious, given how cool their stuff was, but they did happen to be the only out-of-area band besides the headliners, which makes it a little more understandable. Though they had a lot of cool music, there were a bunch of parts where the riffage felt kind of undifferentiated; this is a common pitfall with underground thrash, though, and it's more likely that they'll continue to improve in the future rather than just staying at this level.
After their set, I joined in the huge lineup in front of their merch table to get a CD and a shirt...and a sticker and beer hugger because they were short change. It's cool; better to support bands than not, and a skull wearing a beer hat will make even the most tasteful and correctly-brewed beer super-kvlt. Surprisingly, there was a general shortage of kutte parts on sale at this gig; I got another Waste patch to put on the ultralight, but neither Skeleton Witch nor Toxic Holocaust had anything even screened. This is too bad, and kind of illogical; these bands appeal almost exclusively to people who build jackets, so it's pretty weird that they're not selling kit to be pinned/lashed/painstakingly hemmed and stitched onto such jackets after the gig.
Toxic Holocaust [5/7]
Coming out of the merch deck, I couldn't really get forward for this band, but this was okay; it's not a huge hall, and Sodom-reworking is decent even without the risk of knee damage. I didn't especially pick up on the D-thrash influences on Hell On Earth, but live, it was extremely obvious; mostly drawing on early Sodom with some Kreator for flavor, this was a decent and intense set of material that, in principle, I've seen several times now done better by its originators on larger stages and occasionally closer. This isn't anything against Toxic Holocaust; this was a killer performance featuring some new stuff that hasn't been recorded yet, and it does need to be borne in mind that the German thrash bands that they're building from either don't sound like this any more (Kreator) or don't generally tour the US (Sodom).
Before these guys started, I thought that I'd missed their set or something; I'd seen the guys around the venue during Skeleton Witch, but figured that since I got in like 40 minutes after doors, they'd played a short set and closed up early, but then they set up and came out -- as local openers, after two of the bands that were on the tour. There are several potential reasons for this; the cynical one is that half the band is also in Converge, making them probably the most high-profile band playing. More concrete, in view of later events, though, is the possibility that they went on before just the Waste in order to allow the two touring openers, who would be even less likely to have a driver/tour manager, to load out and hit the road to the next gig early, since there was some fierce weather coming through. Whatever the reason, they played next to last, and there was enough crowd shift that I was able to move up almost to the edge of the pit, with the eye of sticking there through the end of the show. In the intervening time, Doomriders played a decent set of doom- and punk-influenced thrash that, if I recall correctly, was better by a bit than their set at Metalfest last year, but not by a large bit. Almost alone among the bands on this bill, they showed some variation in tempo and sound, but mostly stuck to their vision of fast, semi-crossover thrash. It was pretty good, and, honestly, I can't think of another Massachusetts band with the right sound and enough visibility to play as sole opener on a bill like this. (Sure, Volatile would work, but they're probably not even on Scott's radar at this point.)
While Doomriders were pretty well-matched to this bill, they'll be a better fit opening for Danzig next month as announced. I don't know if I'll be going to that; it's probably in Rock and Shock, and there's several other really good gigs elsewhere around then. And, also, there is no guarantee that Glenn will get punched out on stage by some hardcore dude whose band will afterwards be remembered solely for said kapow. ;P
Municipal Waste [6.5/7]
When you go to a Municipal Waste show, you have a fairly good idea of what you're going to get: old-school crossover thrash, sick circle pits, pileups, injuries, and dudes crowdsurfing on boogie boards. Only the last was missing, as the surfers and divers had to go it unaided, perhaps because of the dickish Middle East security taking the band's boards away back in February. They got most of everyone's personal favorites (among mine, no "Guilty of Being Tight", but yes, "Drunk As Shit", "Sweet Attack", and "I Want To Kill The President"), and for those who missed something, there was no shortage of opportunities to work out aggression up front. Nobody dove off the upper balcony (though one kid was ejected for attempting), which was probably just as well, as there were a bunch of people just diving off the stage who were being unevenly caught and sliding in weird directions down to the floor; fortunately, injuries were minimal and most people just had a thrashing good time. When they finally turned the lights back on and started getting the doods who flowed over the barrier on "Bangover" to jump back down off the stage, though, it was barely ten o'clock, and there are probably others out there besides me who thought it might have gone on for a few songs more. The set kicked ass, but as always, you always want more.
In this instance, it was a mixed bag; from about exit 12 on the Pike, I drove into an occasionally stupid-violent downpour coming back. In addition to my usual gripes about driving in the rain, my wipers were streaking and reducing visibility even further. This, in a word, sucked, but I came through with a whole skin and undamaged vehicle, and once I got north of the 93 cut-in on 128, it was pretty much down to mist. If the show had gone on longer, maybe the storm would have passed through my route entirely by the time I had to drive it -- or maybe I'd have been in the thick of it longer. One way or another, despite the slowness due to water falling in sheets and stopping for late eats -- in addition to the stress of driving, I'd come straight down from work and didn't really eat anything before doing to -- I still made it back narrowly before midnight, in plently of time to rest up and prepare to do another long-drive show tonight.
That one's in Taunton; here's hoping I can find the place based on the current directions, and that it won't be so choked coming down through Boston as it used to be when I was regularly going down the South Shore. With the bill that they've got, though, I should be able to see a significant fraction of Mortis Deveia, The Accursed, and Revocation no matter when I show up -- and when they're not playing, Abnormality is also cool, and getting on this show in itself speaks well of D.I.E., who I haven't heard yet.