I got a little late start, but still got out in good time due to the lack of traffic and managed to get good parking despite the all-day horror convention. This meant that I could get right up front (relatively speaking) for Unexpect, and didn't miss any of their set. They were the only band that I had any interest in that I hadn't seen before, and like everyone who'd heard In A Flesh Aquarium, I was really curious to see how they could bring that insanity of sound live.
Of course, the answer to that is "frenetic and precise"; against all logic, the band threw up a dense wall of sound with amazing execution and surprising fidelity for a technical opening band at the Palladium. Of course, the ridiculous intricacy lost a lot of the crowd, but this would happen with just about any bill they could open; most people can't keep up with a sound like this, and there were a lot of people here to see Mushroomhead. They'd do a lot better at the Middle East rather than opening a gargantuan hall like this at half-full, but they'd have to play in front of, like, Finntroll and Solefald, because that's the sort of demented black metal that's going to give them an audience that'll be into their sound. I like them, and if you like complex post-black metal, you ought to too.
I picked up their prior record to ...Aquarium and a patch from their merch dude; I got lucky in that they still had a small-size patch available, because even though they were going to let me get the larger size for the same price, there isn't really anywhere that I could put it on my rig. As it is, I'll probably be able to fit it in somewhere, especially as I've got to do a fair bit of design to get my new Old Wainds patch on somewhere that doesn't suck.
They came off as a little more metalcore than black-metal-and-rockish on this outing, but still put up a fundamentally decent performance. I'm not a huge fan of this sound, but it's still good music, and a decent time. I may not be into them, but there were a lot of people at this gig who were, and there's nothing to complain about with good metal.
I was down front for these guys, because while the atmosphere couldn't be better than the last time I saw them (in an icy rain at Wacken '05), I could get a hell of a lot closer. This is the advantage of American club shows; most of the time, you can see bands from right up front if you really want to, without elbowing through a space measured in hectares and packed like a sardine tin. Their set was really short (or so it seemed -- music this good really makes the time fly) and balanced towards their later stuff, but still relentlessly good overall. Naglfar may not have thoroughly separated themselves as a leading original force in black metal, but they execute extremely well, and on a mixed bill like this, a great set of doctrinaire material is always going to be well-received.
I stayed up front, because either Dark Funeral or Lordi would be up next; I didn't especially care about either, but seeing either from up front would be a good time. As it turned out, Lordi was next, which was good all around; even if I see them in Europe, it will not be from the first couple rows, and I've already seen Dark Funeral from closer at Mark's, so I could go back.
If Unexpect knocked the crowd for a loop, Lordi plonked them one up over the Monster seats. There were a lot more people in the house, and they had basically no idea what they were going to be like; the monster suits and melodic hard rock, coupled with a few technical difficulties, led to a lot of "GWAR! GWAR! GWAR!" and "You suck!" in the early going. As the band continued, they won over some people, and others stopped caring, so the reaction got a little better, and a big part of this is that the music got better as they went on. In addition to the obligato closer ("Hard Rock Hallelujah"), they also did the infinitely better "Devil Is A Loser", but unfortunately not "Supermonsters"; still, I got to see Lordi from effectively the front, and to observe that the "tall" guys in the band are mostly that way because they're in twelve-inch platform boots. That they're able to stomp around stage in such, play music at a high level of execution, and convert at least part of a hostile crowd says a lot about their professionalism. Unfortunately, Lordi is still a band to see live rather than hear on record; apart from a song or two, they, like KISS before them and unfortunately unlike GWAR, have very few attractions besides the stage spectacle.
Now that I was sure that there weren't any more bands I needed to see from up front -- I didn't care about Dark Funeral and wasn't going to submit myself to Mushroomhead in order to see Type O from no closer than I'd seen them this summer -- I hit the head, got my jacket picked over by these girls who were for some reason in the men's room line, saw Crazy Dan in corpsepaint, flyered the urinals with some Hell's Headbangers junk, and got a last drink before heading back down. It wouldn't be a big Palladium show if the bathrooms weren't completely insane; at least there was re-entry so they weren't completely full of smoke.
Dark Funeral [5/7]
If there is a more boring black metal song than Dark Funeral's "Open The Gate", I want to hear about it. I don't necessarily want to hear it, though; DF has a couple decent songs, but is largely about the most boring black metal band that I have ever seen. They execute well, and they do have those flashes of quality, but most of their sound is extremely doctrinaire, and it really seems like every other word in the lyrics is "Satan". The sound was better overall than when I saw them up in New Hampshire, and they had, as mentioned, some decent songs, but the main function of this set was to be better than Mushroomhead. This is not hard, but it's definitely more the band's speed than to try and catch Naglfar.
I sat down for most of this band, incidentally with some of the guys from Dreaded Silence and crew, until Nick knocked over somebody's trash cup by accident and we had to wait until the NEPGM flyers soaked up the liquid and we could sit back down. On principle I stand and watch all bands, every song, but this principle is safely discarded when you're talking about a "band" that a) steals gimmicks from Blue Man Group (viz. the water-topped drums on the stagefront) and b) has spinners on their bass drums. I am seriously not making this up. The actual music was pretty terrible, crummy enough that even ten and more years ago, when I was still in high school and a lot more willing to headbang to Korn and Sevendust than I am now, I probably wouldn't've gotten into it, but the sound was even worse. Much like when Fear Factory was in last year, they overdrove the loudness to compensate for a lack of technicality, and the resulting noisefest was just absolute crap. Contrary to the singer's protestations about what you get when you go to a metal show, this was not "metal shit". This was instead only "shit metal", and all the loudness in the world cannot compensate for that.
For the impression that more loud is necessarily more metal, I blame Motorhead; they've done a lot of good, but this is one bit that is not. Metal often is better loud, but loudness is not necessary, and excessive loudness is a debit. A good metal band is just as able to play a kickass set through practice amps in a coffeehouse as through three-story PA stacks to acres of fans at an open-air. More importantly, it's possible to be loud without sounding like shit. I've been on the fence in front of PA banks that are responsible for filling those infields without incurring hearing loss or getting a damaged sound, and every single other band at this gig had at least a decent sound, with only a few feedback squeals; that Mushroomhead sounded this bad, and was this overdriven, indicates that they were deliberately mixed to sound this way, and that this is what the band and their fans actually wanted. Raise your hands if you're surprised that a second-tier nu-metal band and the people who like them have an impeded sense of what's musical or what sounds good.
In front of us, there was this guy jumping around and dancing, despite the fact that we were not on the floor. I liked some nu-metal back in the day, so I was prepared to cut him a little slack. Then he turned around; in addition to his bald spot, his face made it clear that he was somewhat over 30, and thus at least in the neighborhood of five years older than me. There's little enough excuse for anyone to like nu-metal in this day and age; those who are older than me and liked in back when it was actually current have no excuse at all. If you were born prior to 1980, and were thus older than 14 or 15 when you first heard Korn's self-titled, and like or liked nu-metal anyway, feel free to explain yourself and try to change my mind.
Type O Negative [7/7]
In some ways this wasn't as special as the set I saw at Wacken, but if it wasn't as good an experience, it was probably a better musical performance; the band was more together and Peter was less impaired, probably due to no jetlag and more bodymass. He's still thin, but he's looking a lot better than he was this summer. They got a nice long set, slanted more towards their gothic stuff than thrash (probably the environment), and leavened with a lot of new material. The stage presentation was basically flawless, and the result was a stellar musical and overall experience. Great stuff; here's hoping that we can catch another performance like this with a little more uniform undercard.
I should have grabbed a bunch of Zircon flyers on the way out to pump Metal Thursday at Welfare Records tonight, but did not, being more focused on getting home before I fell asleep driving or something -- the show didn't get out till like 2, and I was already on short rest after the gig Friday. It's probably ok, though; Aura of Aquila will be pimping their set, and should put up a cool enough performance to make our North Shore doods make the drive out. That should be a good 'uniter' show; between the four bands, there's Worcester, Connecticut, North Shore, and South Shore represented, and that'll hopefully lead to more cross-region shows in more areas and more cross-pollination, which is always better for the scene.