This show took a long and torturous route to get where it is from wherever it started, and if I recall correctly, wasn't even initially on this date, but at every step of its evolution, it was a solid bill and a sure promise of a good time, and this it definitely turned out to be.
The last lineup change was Blessed Offal dropping off, and not getting replaced, and while this was kind of a downer in that I didn't get to see them, I was able to get moving a little later and still make it down to the venue in plenty of time. There were already a few people on hand, but this show was one that filled up gradually as it went on, rather than starting off packed and dropping down as in a couple other gigs I've seen here. The bands set up (two at the same time, since Die On The Steps is kind of modular gear-wise), I drank some beer and watched some baseball and wrestling, and eventually dropped a fair bit of change on obscure music, and presently the show got underway.
Die On The Steps [5/7]
This one-man project was a late add to the bill, with even the band unsure of how exactly it'd translate live. Fortunately, the answer to that was "really well"; a guy singing over a four-track playback of mostly synth instruments is not automatically the most successful opener to a black metal show, but Die On The Steps pulled it off well. There was a fair bit of post-punk/darkwave to be heard as well as the black metal and oi elements, with the ultimate product being an interesting fusion the likes of which you really have to see at a show like this to get at all. The world needs more bands like this, though maybe playing fewer Skrewdriver covers, even if "this isn't a political project, it's a personal one". Of course, who the hell am I to talk -- I not only knew all the lyrics to "Hail The New Dawn", but sang along nearly all the way through, me and the giant Metalheads Against Racism patch on the shoulder of my featherweight kutte.
The good stuff continued with Herugrim's first Mass show, and about their second or third overall, which may have set a new high-water mark for the overall quality and awesomeness of a two-song set. Rising from the ashes of several prior black metal bands and drawing inspiration from the rawly epic early works of Borknagar and Enslaved, they poured about half an hour into two songs and made it abundantly clear that this particular style isn't an exclusive preserve of European bands. Though this performance was really good, it wasn't perhaps quite their optimum setting; think about it: Cold Northern Vengeance, Herugrim, and Aura of Aquila, maybe Wolven Ancestry and/or Ancient//Master in the picture as well, up in an adirondack on some mountain in New Hampshire, big pagan bonfire a ways back, a gas generator for the PA set back in the woods to keep the noise from cutting through, towards the end of October as the frost comes in. It could happen -- probably won't, but still could.
Witch Tomb [6.5/7]
This was one of the better outings I've seen from Witch Tomb, and given how good they've been in the past, this is definitely saying something. Their black/death chaos was dead-on and graveling, the samples that they had been working in previously now seamlessly integrated with the sound. Herugrim left them a high standard to match, but they did manage to overtop it, and if the set seemed a little short at the end, it was probably either just club rules or that the audience just didn't notice the time passing for the music. I still haven't run across their split with Martyrvore, but that's no excuse for those who don't have it yet not to run down Mocking Jehovah from the band or other fine distributors of underground music.
The festivities concluded, I stumped off on the two miles back to Cambridge and the car park. Maybe I should bite the bullet and learn to park closer, but the exercise is a nice bonus, and the 40 minutes or so gives me a little leeway in when I need to safely stop drinking; otherwise, I'd just have to hang around at the pub after the show to dry out before heading home, and past experience shows that I generally stop drinking at a bar only when I leave said bar, and breaking this habit when buzzed and hanging around with a bunch of metalheads who may only have to walk home doesn't look to be an especially successful endeavor.
Next show's tonight, a fundraising gig for Autumn Above before they do their first East Coast tour, and after that, probably Metal Thursday next week. If you know me IRL, catch me at one of these gigs, I'm trying to move my brother's Iron Maiden ticket since he isn't going next Friday. More WOE TO YOU O EARTH AND SEA for the rest of us!