After missing a total of four shows over the previous weekend thanks to a major injury about an hour before Vital Remains' first show of their current tour was due to start, I was anxious to get back into action, and it was thus that I armored up my bad knee for the drive out to Worcester; Metal Thursday is usually a good time, and this was a pretty exceptional lineup. Of course, this was all nearly knocked into a cocked hat when I ran over someone's thrown tread doing 70 while trying to pass a semi on the Mass Pike; said mat of rubber and steel was lying folded up in the middle of the center lane, and bounced like hell as I hit it -- there was no report or jerk from the wheels under me, but when you hit something big as those speeds, assuming that there's no tire damage is kind of stupid. Fortunately, there was a rest stop within a couple miles, and I didn't feel the tires deflating on the way, so I could spend five minutes punching rubber and comparing the left (hit) and right (didn't) sides in a lighted parking lot rather than on the shoulder with occasional traffic screaming past at relatavistic speeds. The verdict was no flats, and I continued on, losing only about 10 minutes and fortunately zero tires.
I didn't get to Ralph's till about 9:30, but didn't end up missing anything; one of Dreaded Silence's guys was late coming down, so the start time got pushed back and Revocation switched slots with them to open. I got a beer, got on the hook for a couple records from Oak Knoll, and picked up Gwynbleidd's CD; I declined a shirt at this point, but picked one up later. If, though, they'd have mentioned anything about sounding more than a little like Primordial up front, I'd've saved time and they'd've got their second ten faster.
This was debatably the best set that I've seen from these guys, which is really saying something; they were absolutely on top of their game, even when Dave accidentally rocked his cable out of his jack, and the new material -- in addition to the old stuff, even going back to their earliest days as Cryptic Warning (they opened with "Snakestrike" in a new and improved form) -- is absolutely ace. "Age of Iniquity" hit like a ton of bricks, perhaps not least because there's an extended section that really sounds like a reworked Imperium song (I think "Messiah Mask", but I'll have to go back and check), magnified, of course, and refocused into Revocation's existing and evolving style. Empire of the Obscene is really looking like it's going to be one of the better albums of the year, even with Diminishing Between Worlds already in the books. Hopefully, it'll see a decent label release as well as the band's private distribution, but with no signing announcement, either Revocation haven't inked with anyone yet or they're keeping it seriously close to the vest.
Even before Revocation went on, Dan and some of the other guys from Dreaded Silence were grousing a little about having to follow them; not seriously, but still recognizing that it's kind of difficult to get up after these guys and be confident about making an impression. The singer of Gwynbleidd made similar remarks on stage when they came up, and while both subsequent bands definitely put up really good sets, the atmosphere points out something about Revocation that is probably a strong contributing element to their success: even though they're often so good as to seriously intimidate other bands, they're by and large ego-free about where and when they play in the setlist, and have not, as far as I can recall (or can know, not being directly involved in booking anything), ever pushed to go on later when taking an earlier slot would help another band. This generosity may, of course, be made possible by being so intimidatingly good -- even if Revocation played at 4pm on the second stage at Mark's (provided, of course, that the entire band huffed a vanfull of crazy-stupid gas and somehow ended up on a Mark's bill), they'd make enough of an impression that people'd be jawing about them well into the touring portion of the bill -- but being sozial is something that other bands remember, and in some if perhaps slight degree helps them get shows.
Dreaded Silence [5.5/7]
lol Dreaded Silence moar liek Dreaded Sentenced amirite lol
Ok, now that that is out of the system, on to the more serious comments. While this was the most Sentenced-like performance I've seen out of the band (in the prior two shows, they displayed a little more range of Scandinavian influences), it was also the best, so far, and their ability to capture the Amok sound and do something that stands on its own (as their material does) as well as drawing from the past is in itself impressive. They started out a little rough, but quickly hit their stride, and delivered a really good set that would have been a standout most other nights; fortunately, the Metal Thursday crowd is pretty much uniformly able to recognize that one band being ridiculous has no effect on other bands being really good.
When DS closed up, it was pushing on towards midnight, and my ability to keep standing throughout was starting to wane. Even with the brace, that knee was still damaged, and standing even remotely near the front while Chris (Zircon and also organizer) and Crazy Dan were flying around all over the place was a little risky. Topped with exhaustion and how late things were going to have to go if I stayed to the end, it was at about this point that I started to think about pulling before the headliner.
If you missed this band's set and spent any portion of last night whining about how all American bands are the same, and how it sucks that bands like Primordial don't tour here barely ever, you need to punch yourself in the face repeatedly. First, because you're a wanker who didn't go out to support a good show, and second, because in not supporting this show, you missed a killer set from about as close a band to Primordial as we have in this country. Gwynbleidd's sound draws on other elements as well (some nice chunks of Katatonia and Daylight Dies interwoven to good effect), and the result is thoroughly their own, but the base of their sound is the same Gaelic black metal as inspires Alan and the bhoys. The doomy, folkic, aggression was much welcomed as the clock slopped around past midnight and fatigue and drunkenness started to get the upper hand over adrenaline, but the crowd -- at least those who remained up front, not intimidated by the basically uncontained pit. This was an excellent performance, with enough material not on Amaranthine to make those who have this record very enthusiastic about the prospect of another EP or album down the line -- and those who didn't turn out ought to be disappointed in themselves for missing it. I'm bummed enough that I missed them the last time around (in September), but I think I was in Texas at the time and couldn't do much about it.
When I got my shirt off them afterwards, I stopped to talk a bit, but somehow forgot to mention Rohirrim, who would complement these guys really well on a bill like this, but who due to the provenance of their origin, always seem to be stuck out of place on grind shows. It's a match that ought to happen eventually, but it's more of a promoter's lookout to get such bands together than mine or theirs.
Shirt in hand and wallet more or less empty, I checked myself over: past 00:30, knee wavering, and an hour and a half plus fill-up time remaining to get home -- and an actual commute in the morning to not kill myself driving. Regretfully, I hit the stairs; no Joe Stump tonight, but while I was impressed with his virtuosity the last time out, the degree of variety in his stuff left something to be desired, and if I had to pick out one of these bands to miss, his would probably have been the one anyways. I felt like crud bailing before the end, but it's better than ending up in bloody chunks on the road this morning, and given that my knee's nowhere near completely healed, three bands out in Worcester is a fair challenge of its own. The Symphony X show tonight is looking sold out, so it's a nice relaxing weekend of resting up and potentially camping -- and then pure chaos Monday night in Haverhill as what seems like every slam band in New England gets together to chuck Terminally Your Aborted Ghost out onto the road for their reunion tour.