Friday, March 14, 2008

a late show review and some bad news for procrasinators

Later on in this post, some content about the recent Embryonic Devourment gig at O'Brien's, but first, a brief comment: as predicted back last year, W:O:A '08 has officially sold out. This sucks for everyone who doesn't have a ticket but was thinking of going, but it's good news for me: my ticket's value will sharply appreciate, maybe even faster than it had been earning so far -- according to exchange rates, I've "made" about $15, or a little less than 10%, by buying when I did based purely on its face value in euros versus the dollar.

It remains to be seen how many Wacken tickets were bought en bloc by Americans looking to speculate in the foreign exchange market, but it will probably be a low number, because even though this was about the soundest investment you could make -- the value of the dollar was virtually guaranteed to continue to drop, and the festival, especially this year, was basically guaranteed to sell out -- it still sounds really stupid.

Sexcrement with Embryonic Devourment, Dismal Lapse, and Composted
O'Brien's, Allston, 3/12/2008

It had been, at this point, a long fucking time since I'd been to a show, and I was feeling somewhat down due to various personal issues, and significantly because I'd missed Goreality at Metal Thursday the week before, as well as the sole installment of the Benefit For The Advancement of Dudes that I've been in town for on the weekend. It was well and truly time for some death metal; no qualifiers, no ancilliary crap, no bullshit. Just brutal music, sick topics, and large people in black shirts hitting one another. There's a purity in it, but that's a digression for another article; writing show reviews on their own is pretentious enough in assuming I actually have something to say.

I stumped the two miles in from my regular car depot in good time, and managed to get a beer before Composted started. More than anything I was surprised by the turnout: this was a Wednesday night gig featuring some relentlessly straight-up brutal death metal, but the place was packed, maybe in the neighborhood of a hundred. It was quite certainly the largest bunch of people that I've ever seen in O'Brien's, and a definite contender for the most people I've yet seen at a DIY show. What's more, most of them stuck around all the way through, so it wasn't just Composted's non-musical elements that brought them in...or if it was, their musical elements definitely pulled them in after the hook was struck.

Composted [6/7]
Short descriptions of this band have been fairly succinct, if non-musical: "GWAR for /b/tards", "retards", etc. To a certain degree, this is fair; they wear silly costumes, engage in performance art, and their drummer has a Pedobear suit on order. However, like GWAR, they also have an immense amount of musical ability: the pedigree of this band includes (among others) Terminally Your Aborted Ghost, The Body Farm, Bane of Existence, and just about every powerviolence band that has ever formed in the Boston area. (Even if Rich is mostly there to do demonstrative eating, he still does do backing vocals, and also presumably influences their direction.) Said direction is a combination of a lot of slammy threads, and at least at this show, it produced a killer final result; if you took off the duck masks and took away the baked goods, Composted would still be a kickass band. However, they'd be less visually interesting and a lot less likely to weird out touring bands -- this was the first gig that they've done with significant out-of-New-England participation in the lineup, if I recall correctly, and the Californians were at least at first a little confused as to how and why this band was playing killer slam-death and simultaneously smashing cupcakes on their faces.

Dismal Lapse [5.5/7]
The first of these bands with the unenviable task of "follow a local supergroup that wears costumes and does antics" was this three-piece, who had a few equipment issues but still delivered a really good set of technical death metal. Dismal Lapse started out a little flat, but they improved over the course of the set despite (allegedly) the guitarist's head dying on him about midway through. They weren't quite as brutal, maybe, as some of the other bands, and they were a little frustrated with the crowd not moving for them, but they put out a quality death metal set, and I was more than a little bummed that I wasn't able to purchase any recordings off them (Deepsend Records will have an EP from them in the near future - put it on your list, definitely at least to DL if the band isn't coming to your area for you to check them out live), though their tour shirt was still pretty damn cool.

Note for those who are somehow both plugged into this scene and behind on current happenings: Dismal Lapse used to be called Bled, but had to change their name due to legal pressure from what the band referred to as "a bunch of emo queers". I'll take the band at face value, because in every other aspect of their performance and attendance they appeared to be stand-up dudes, but there are still some points of suspicion: first, Dismal Lapse is a better name than Bled, even if their Bled logo did look really cool, and more importantly, second, "Bled" is short by like eight words of typical emo band names. Maybe it's different in California, but here in New England you usually see emo/screamo douches Our Band's Name Is Actually A Complete Sentence opening up for stereotypical metalcore combo Three Word Name....and then someone swings from the drop ceiling rails and the police show up and close the venue.

Embryonic Devourment [6.5/7]
Insidious Decrepancy dropped off this tour for personal reasons, leaving this outfit as the last touring band of the night -- the "keep Allston hipsters around for the nationals" rule seems to have stayed in effect from the last time I was down at this place, though "Allston hipsters" may have a different definition when it's Sexcrement closing up -- and those who were staying around mainly to see their friends in the last band definitely got a prime earful of kickass death metal out of it. While not as slammy as the New England bands, ED definitely took the brutality up a notch, and interstingly worked in fairly seamless transitions of spoken-word verse between songs; hella different, but still a killer overall effect, especially considering how good the music was surrounding it. There wasn't a lot of crowd motion for them, either, but by this time, it looked like the nationals had the measure of the audience, and since there was a lot of cheering and other general approbation, they didn't seem to mind so much. Their merch was done up at a high level, really good production values for a tour hitting mostly or totally DIY venues, and it was also justified in that a lot of people did spring for it; mine's about the best shirt I've picked up this year, in terms of total design and execution. The conclusion is that the band knew their music would bring a lot of people over to the merch stand rather than the bar, and it made sense to do thoroughly kickass design and presentation to close the deal on that volume of sales.

Sexcrement [6/7]
As per last time I saw these guys here, the pit went apeshit for them; even though I moved back some in preparation for their set, I was still catching and tossing people most of the way through, as well as sweeeping up shards so that those who fell down wouldn't be diving onto a bunch of broken glass. Normally, the micro-shelves around the pillars in the middle of the floor at O'Brien's are perfectly functional for holding drinks, and if everyone had just been slugging back PBRs, there wouldn't've been a problem, but glass bottles, pint glasses, and vigorous moshing do not mix well. There was a fair amount of breakage, but we had it under control. The band also kept it fairly under control: the music was cool, if not quite at the same level as last time, and Adam, despite the audience plying him with at least two tequila shots and a couple beer cans -- on top of what he may have had before the band started -- managed to keep his dick in his pants. Their set was a little short, or at least, so it seemed, but didn't lack for activity, interest, or quality death metal, to say nothing of progressively more incoherent stage banter. I was planning to pick up one of their "Music You Fuck To" shirts, but was unfortunately out of money at this point: supporting the touring bands, plus picking up an obligato Broken Hope record and some other stuff, had chunked up nearly all of my wallet contents that weren't committed to paying the garage fee and purchasing food for the rest of the week. I'll see them again, though; maybe not next week, as I can't do the next-day-off thing needed for a proper show in Providence due to jury duty later in the week, but some other time, as a band this good and well-supported doesn't usually just strike the tents and give up.

The trip back wasn't that difficult, either on foot or by highway, despite exhaustion and nearly 2 liters of rotten beer, but it hit hard afterwards; hence this thing is late. Next show is probably going to be Autumn Above (likely not reviewed), then Metal Thursday with a bunch of doom bands...and then Metal Spring Break looms large in the following weekend.

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