There are probably a million and one slam-related puns that could be made on this show, even setting aside the ones that Composted made from the stage. Let it suffice to say that this was a kickass Metal Thursday, and one at which a ridiculous amount of slam was passed out.
That being said, there is no guarantee that the author's purely vestigal sense of humor will be able to refrain from making slam-related jokes further on in this review.
Getting in to this iteration of New England's best regular concert series was a little tougher than normal; the DPW apparently decided that Thursday evening was a grand old time to tear up large parts of 128 and the Pike for resurfacing. The drivers trying to use the road did not agree, and as a result it was getting a little late when I finally pulled in to Ralph's; fortunately, the bands hadn't started yet, and I was able to unwind a little -- including picking up a couple interesting records from Oak Knoll -- before they did. Unfortunately, this was because Archaeon had to drop, which was kind of a bummer. I was also a little surprised to see the way the running order sorted out, with the touring band on next-to-last; on the other hand, they probably took one look at Composted's past history and shrewdly said "yeah, we're not going to try and top a local supergroup that dresses up in costumes and still plays good music, we'll take the next-to-last slot and get our van packed up earlier."
In their last show under this name, Burial, veterans of long standing (thirteen years under this name, or since several members of Archaeon, who were scheduled to open, were last in kindergarden), put up a quality set of death metal bridging the gap between Suffocation-style brutality and the slam that would dominate the rest of the bill. Some of their material wasn't the most inspired, and their slam breakdowns definitely came off the third best, but this was a solid outing of death metal that should have eminently satisfied any brutal death fan in attendance. Unfortunately, they didn't have any merch, probably looking ahead to the name change, but they're definitely a band to watch out for.
There was a decent interval for set change between the bands, but as Covenance went on, the show changed gears sharply, from trad-brutal-death plus slam to slam plus hardcore. The floor got more violent, and the breakdowns a little better managed, but the main difference was in style rather than total level of execution. They may not have been quite as on as their antecedents in Dying Fetus and Misery Index, but this was still an awesome slab of slam/grind/death that would have easily overpowered most other bills even in this style. They're on tour for the next couple weeks, so if they're at a bar near you, go and get your ears blown out.
Too much of Covenance's merch is free for a band touring in an era of $4.20/gallon gas. Their CD is free, which was cool, but I'd've gladly dropped 3 to 5 bucks on the seven-inch (also free) in addition to the ten for the shirt. They're to be applauded for their DIY dedication, but sometimes you do need to eat food too, and metalheads certainly won't begrudge good bands for charging reasonable prices for good music.
Composted has probably never heard of Rapid Charlie, and will no doubt be slightly saddened by the fact that they are not absolutely the first band to introduce pool noodles to heavy music. However, Rapid Charlie's knifers and conductor never put their noodles to as good or violent use as the audience did here, which is probably due to having a very special crowd, one that is as fine with turning a dead beachball into a keffiyeh as with whipping people with it, and one whose first instinct on seeing a stray flipflop in the pit is to beat themselves in the head with it. Composted, as might be inferred, was in luau gear on this outing, but still as usual passed out simply retarded amounts of slam. They've really got the interplay of breakdowns and pileups down to an exact if chaotic science, and if Rich spent less time destroying food with his forehead in this set, he spent more of it as a real co-vocalist, a uniformly positive turn for an already killer sound. This was not a perfect set overall, but it's easy to see how someone could get that impression if they were downstairs at the start when the sound system decided that Eliot's bass was just bringing too much slam, and decided to stop working for him. Once this was ironed out, yeah, it's hard to think of how it might have gone better, especially since they had the time at the end to grind through a couple unreleased TYAG (RIP) tunes.
The low point, if there was one, of this set was towards the end, where one of the girls in the pit collided with Crazy Dan when she wasn't expecting to and munged up her knee. Fortunately, the injury wasn't so critically bad that the bar had to call for the SLAMbulance. (See, I told you; no escaping the horrible slam jokes.)
I picked up a bunch of stickers from the Rev for the Sonderwerbeaktion Wacken; now to make up a sales pitch to convince Europeans to check out metal photography from the Americas. Unfortunately, Composted was pretty much out of stickers, so I'm not carrying over any bandmerch yet; fortunately, this means I still definitely have space. I was at a friend's wedding this weekend, so no shows, but there may be one or two this week before the last declared opportunity on the 27th.