Early-week shows are always kind of tough; people are back at work or school after the weekend, and are just caught up in the grind rather than seeking to actively escape it. This may have been the reason that this show wasn't as well-attended as it ought to have been, but it also may well have been a strong reason why TYAG wanted to do start their tour with three fairly-local shows early in the week, both to get the bugs out in front of the home crowd, and also to hit into the first leg of their travels on a weekend. As it was, this was a good show that would have been better with more doods, but still was about as good value as you could get for eight bucks on a Monday night.
Since the show was starting kind of early, I had to go right up from work, and got up to Haverhill about a quarter past six. I figured I'd miss a band or two, which would suck, but as it turned out, the music hadn't started yet, and I was able to wolf down my overpriced ghetto pies outside and get in with time to spare. Eventually, a DIY show will start on time somewhere, but until then, people stuck in traffic can relax a little.
Brutal #2 [5/7]
I hadn't seen this band live previously, but I did remember not being terribly impressed with their demo; this, though, was recorded nearly a year ago, and they've come a long way in the intervening time. They haven't yet set themselves apart as one of the top death metal bands in this area, but as the rest of the bill will show, this is wicked hard considering the depth of the New England scene, and they put on a solid, bruising set regardless. They've got a lot of ability, and the way it's being used has definitely improved since their last recording; whether they continue to push it up, or continue to play good meat-and-potatoes death metal, they'll continue to provide good music and good entertainment regardless.
From a certain perspective, Archaeon has more potential than any other band on this bill. Of course, that perspective has to also admit that they were about the rawest band of the night (this being about their third show, if I recall correctly), and to a certain degree it did show in their performance. Less slammy than the surrounding bands, they set forth a strong set of highly insular brutal death metal that unfortunately was marred by a couple hitches where everything wasn't quite together yet. I like their style a little more, in general, than the slam-death offered in the main here, but they also hopefully impressed the other attendees enough with their chops that people will look for them on bills once they've got a little more experience and a little stronger sense of themselves as a band.
It was about here that I did the merch bit; I picked up an Archaeon shirt as well as a tour shirt and a kutte part from TYAG, and talked with Mark a bit; he recognized me from RTTP and OH NOES MAI COVER IS TEH BLOED. :roll: Well enough; it's hard to be anonymous when you're regularly in attendance at gigs where there's often only a handful of people not in one of the bands on the bill. I was also cursing my mostly empty wallet; I wanted to pick up a Composted shirt, but was running out of belt space and, not having seen Proteus before, didn't know what if anything I'd need to drop on them.
This was a splendidly killer set, with a sound that only TYAG really approached in its absolute diversity; as though Neurosis won a battle with half a dozen slam-death bands and carried away their breakdowns as trophies. At times, when they were locked in and going on for minutes at a time, it seemed like their set consisted entirely of one huge breakdown, and while this was not really the case, even if it had been, they definitely raised the slam break to the level of a high art. They had a few issues with the bass, but they were mostly corrected before they interrupted the run of the set, and the band succeeded in imposing their will on the crowd regardless. The set felt a little short; the set lengths on this gig were fairly short generally, to pack six bands and four stage changes (Composted and TYAG, for obvious reasons, use all the same gear) into four hours, but a really good set always feels shorter than it is.
At this point I picked up Proteus' CD, and was officially out of useful cash. Another $20, and I could have swung shirts from both them and Composted. I'm not sure whether to blame the need for Epic Leg Armor, or just the fact that I need to eat food, but regardless, it's pretty bogus.
Dysentery was also in top form, and more so than when I last saw them, showed off their chops in addition to slam as well as the subtle technical demands that are still present when they're just dug in and blasting. Of course, this may be due to being that much closer to the band, and actually seeing their whole set as much as anything, but their music flowed together smoothly, and as before, also hit like a house to the face. There may not have been as much movement as they might have liked, despite the contributions of the Proteus guys, but a likely explanation is that Will was kind of constrained by having to hold onto the mic and do vocals, and thus couldn't flip out as much for his own band.
Those expecting to see the visual spectacle that this band's presented in the past may have been let down; this was Composted Lite, with no costumes or props, probably because 3/4 of the band was going to be spending the next 3 weeks living out of the back of a van as Terminally Your Aborted Ghost. They were also down to a four-piece, with Eliot switching to bass, and this did have a material result, as the sound wasn't as thick or dense as when I saw them at O'Brien's with two guitarists. Even without gimmicks and with a less dense sound, though, Composted did put up a strong set, and quite as funny as expected. There was a little more fan participation in this one than the last time, probably because the stakes were lower and people just had to sit down for the intro rather than risk getting baked goods all over themselves. Unfortunately, my knee didn't bend all the way and I also failed at even sitting down. Fortunately, this was the sole piece of fail manifested during this show.
Terminally Your Aborted Ghost [5.5/7]
The score stuck onto this performance illustrates the problems -- and, actually, a signal critical failing -- of trying to attach an arbitrary number to a holistic experience. I was really impressed by TYAG musically, but their skills and sound couldn't quite erase a bunch of purely incidental stuff that cut into the experience; namely, Mark breaking a string and the room energy (the band less so, even though 75% of them had just done a full set as Composted) slowly running down towards the end. Fortunately, this all is stuff that the band will work out as they get back into touring mode; they'll be more solid as they work with and get used to a regular setlist, and Mark's too much of a pro to regularly go breaking strings, and in most cases, they won't be playing on a Monday night mostly to people in other bands on the gig, and their real abilities will cut through more significantly. On hearing these guys, it's clearly apparent why they've had such a high profile despite an extended period of inactivity; their sound represents a fairly perfect fusion of hardcore, grind, and death metal actually done right, and blending in a bunch of stuff that most bands combining those genre buckets will never think to include. Despite the technical difficulties, this was a really good musical performance, and if you see them on this current run, whether at one of the remaining New England dates, somewhere else in the country, or on the last day of the tour in Yonkers with Vital Remains and Monstrosity, you're quite likely to have an even better time of it.
The music over and the venue nearly empty, I stumped my way back to the T lot to get home, and thankfully avoided further injury en route. Four hours of quality death metal - not at all bad for a Monday night.