Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Pet Demon with Only Ash Remains, Indignation, Rend The Veil, Rohirrim, and The Turn [Haverhill Elks, 9/21/2007]

If you live south of Manchester and north of Lynn, between Route 3 and the ocean, you could do a hell of a lot worse than keep up with South Central, who put together a really good bill for this show and looks to have the right ideas and the right business sense to keep good music coming back to this venue, which has a lot of potential. A nice big room with all-ages admission and a full bar, the Haverhill Elks is exactly what the underground in the North Shore and the Valley needs, and for the next couple months, there's a really good show in about every three weeks.

I got in early due to some confusion about when doors was, but used the time profitably -- results to be seen in this space in October -- and got in as the bands were setting up.

The Turn [5/7]
I hadn't seen this band before, but was not tremendously surprised when they came out and played some hardcore -- albeit hardcore that would fit in well at a show where half the bill was composed with northeast-Mass metal bands. This means heavily NWOBHM-inflected, though probably from different influences, and while this probably makes them too poppy or "posi" for the xPunchxYourxFacex crew and the like, they played some decent music, especially starting off the evening's entertainments.

Rohirrim [6/7]
This was billed as a double-release show, but apparently MPD's CD hasn't got back from the production facility yet; hopefully they'll have them in by the next gig. Rohirrim, on the other hand, did have their debut record available, and did a strong job of advertising it with a really killer set. Despite the Wolverine mask that Brandon started the set wearing, their performance was mostly serious and thoroughly dialed in. Rohirrim are one of the few bands on this continent, at least that I've heard, to really get viking metal; most of the material they did in this one is best described as a slightly different take on classic Enslaved, though "A Grevious Gift" is heavily suggestive of Einherjer -- even the part that was announced as a break for people who really like Type O. They've come a long way since I saw them early this summer, and it's going to be really cool to see them at Welfare Records with a more extreme surrounding bill.

I got their CD, of course, but haven't listened to it yet; I've got a crapload of stuff to do before I go to Finntroll tonight, and Monday isn't going anywhere.

Rend The Veil [4/7]
I'm not much of a hardcore fan, but I do know what a clipped amp sounds like, and I can accordingly say with a fair degree of confidence that this set would have done better and been better received if they guitarist hadn't had his amp clipped out too high for his speakers. Personally, I thought it sounded terrible in several spots, and good when he was using settings that did not get the signal mutilated, but if he actually likes the clipped-over tone that they opened and closed with, more power to him. The band played a decent set of by-the-numbers HC, and seemed a little disappointed that a giant arena opened up in front of them with no one to fill it. They probably do much better and have much better crowds when they play with all hardcore bands instead of half-hardcore, half-metal, but that's a hazard of them playing shows like this -- and doing shows like this without getting more of the doods who saw them with Killing Kings the previous night to come over and support.

Another reason that a huge void opened up is the presence of ninjas. When you have a metal pit, as happened during all of the metal bands on this gig, and get mostly doods pushing each other around, more people will jump in. When you have three guys throwing spin kicks and doing somersaults, your pit will be those three guys, and if they get tired or go get a beer, nobody will go in the pit, because they don't want to get kicked in the face. The way to fill in a pit like this is either a) don't book bands that draw ninjas or b) draw more ninjas if you're going to going to book HC bands that play dojocore. The idea of splitting a bill half-hardcore, half-metal, is a good one in the abstract, but you need to draw more hardcore fans to make it work, or book different bands so that the ones who come will also go in the center, unafraid of losing teeth.

Indignation [6/7]
It's moving by fits and starts, but in this set Indignation played, if I remember correctly, more originals than covers, which is a definite step forward for them. I've written elsewhere about the unique way that this band has developed from hardcore into power/thrash metal, so it may not be necessary to repeat; what should be repeated is that if you're in the area, this band is not to be missed; mostly for the music and the pure power of their delivery, but also because one of their sets is probably the only place in the world that you're going to see girls grinding on each other to somewhat obscure Megadeth songs (yes, most casual fans don't know "Tornado of Souls", and yes, that's an injustice, but we have to deal). They went back to their oi! roots on their last song, but through the whole of their set, there wasn't really anything that wouldn't appeal to both the hardcore and metal audiences in attendance, which is how it should be.

I got a sticker from Justin of their PBR logo, and I'm uncertain what to do with it; it'll probably go on the men's room wall at the Palladium early at the Municipal Waste gig next week. The HC-rooted thrash revival is the people who need to hear Indignation who haven't yet, and a Peeb logo over the john is the way to catch their eye.

Only Ash Remains [4/7]
This was the promoter's band, and the cynical out there might conclude that the sole reason that they got on the bill was that the guitarist was the one who set it up; this fortunately was not the case. Their set consisted mostly of run-of-the-mill metalcore, but it was executed strongly and with a proper sense of itself, so nobody there who was into this style of music could have been disappointed. I'm not crazy about it myself, but the execution was solid, and they definitely deserved their slot.

My Pet Demon [6/7]
Though they got cut off at the end by a little bit, this set still kicked a lot of ass. As mentioned, they didn't have CDs available yet, but they did play a bunch of stuff off the forthcoming record, which still seems to be as cool as anticipated. "Raise The Flag" was killer, and got a nice pileup from the crowd; their blues-based thrash attack meshed well with the surrounding hardcore lineup, which bodes well for future gigs here, especially the next on the slate, on the 12th. They closed with a novel change, putting Kenny on drums to bring Matt out for vocals on "Fight For Your Right", and didn't give in to the few voices needling them to play old stuff -- which they're probably quite glad to let slip out of memory.

All in all, a cool gig, and I'll probably be up again in three weeks. I wasn't able to get MPD on disc, but all this means is that we'll have to wait a little longer to get the new stuff -- some of which hasn't been done live yet -- and visually confirm that I got into the thankslist.

This weekend, I also incidentally dug up the remaining portion of my old cassette tapes for review and potential posting; in addition to typical juvenalia like Silverchair's debut and Diabolus In Musica (which doesn't suck as much as advertised), this includes Medieval's only label recording (AFAIK) and a first-run copy of The Number of the Beast. Rare and out-of-print stuff may be converted and up here; all in good time, and probably after November. I've got two rather ambitious projects lined up for ~130K words estimated, and not only will this kill the whole month, going through the research materials will take most of October as well.

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