Blame my laziness more than the Fourth and assorted pileups for the lateness of this review; nevertheless, it's done now, because this week has some cool show content on a close schedule.
Attending this Metal Thursday was a more stress-free proposition than usual, as I didn't have to go to work on Friday. The holiday weekend, unfortunately, probably adversely affected turnout, as this wasn't really a peak night for attendance, but those who did come out saw a pretty killer show. As Eyes Sewn Shut set up, I talked a bit with the MPD guys, pawed through Oak Knoll's distro and picked out a couple CDs, and also weirded out Jeremy and Blue by laughing at a disclaimer written in German on the back of a CD with the rest of its external text mocked up in Hebrew (Nazibands FTL; nix koennense sogen, allerlei trotzdem erkannt). I didn't pick this one up (obviously), but did end up with a demo from Covenance (next time's headliner) and a NEDF flier -- need to find out more about Providence in order to find out how much of the fest -- weekend right after Wacken -- I can make it down for.
Presently, the bands started, first those who I'd seen before.
Eyes Sewn Shut [4/7]
I'd seen these guys a while back at Mark's, which was a place not conducive to optimal performances by, really, any band. They got, if I recall correctly, exactly this score, but didn't demonstrate, as they did here, as much why this should be the case. ESS did a decent set, but the whole was not greater than the sum of the parts; the individual performances were strong from each member, but the songwriting wasn't really up to the same standard, with, as before, the Pantera cover at the end of the set coming through the strongest. This was a basically entertaining performance, but it was overshadowed by the bands that followed them, and if they don't develop further and differentiate themselves from other death/metalcore bands that can't stop thinking about Pantera, this situation may repeat on further gigs, which likely isn't the outcome the band is looking for.
My Pet Demon [6/7]
The following things, the Worcester crowd should understand from this set to not be past their "Expiration Date" here on the North Shore:
1) Hockey hair.
2) Neil Young a la balls-out.
3) Kickass melodic thrash metal.
This probably graded out a little lower, but a 5.5 here is not really worth opening up the legended Split Score Keg of Worms; what matters is the impression that MPD made outside their core catchment areas, and this was pretty good. Sticking only with material from the last two records (as might be expected), they did their half-hour-and-more with a minimum of downtime, and until Pat's bass started cutting out during their final song, free of technical difficulties. Unfortunately, if you're going to have issues with bass functionality, about the last song you want it in is your Iron Maiden cover, which did run down the mood a little bit. They had an uphill struggle here out of market, on a bill that didn't really flow to their strengths, and a slightly depressed turnout, but they pulled it off, and hopefully made a good and lasting impression.
Our Final Chapter [6/7]
The short and highly inaccurate version of this band is "Connecticut hardcore in a Metal-Thursday-style spin pit with Hydra Head"; much of their stuff was fairly direct, but very well-finished musically, and while they had the first major crowd motion of the night, those who weren't thrashing themselves out had a lot of technical tricks to enjoy along with the slamming breakdowns. The newer material was really good (though maybe a little whacked out -- 9/11 wasn't an inside job, even if the tragedy's been cynically exploited for political ends since), and their upcoming record is definitely worth watching out for if the live performance is a fair representation.
Smite The Righteous [5/7]
The show wound up with these guys, who've been zu Gast here a couple times, though as yet not when I was down. They started off simply but effectively and stayed true to form throughout the chaos down front; New England NWOSDM in the style of bands like Beyond The Embrace before they decided to be Metallica, Life In Vain, The Accursed, and innumberable others, maybe up to the level of Shadows Fall. There's nothing wrong with this when it's done well, and this was done well enough for good times, bruises, and broken glass that fortunately we were able to get under control before anyone fell into it. They didn't have any demos or anything available as I saw, which was a shame; they came out at that "cool but not especially memorable" level, and it'd've been good to get a second look at them on record, where I could give full attention to the band rather than having also th worry about getting wiped out by doods flying around and slinging themselves off poles.
As the music died, I checked myself for injury -- no joint problems despite not wearing my brace to this one, and no bleeding from the feet after using my fat soles to pre-mop the shattered pub glasses. Other pit-wall dents were too minor to mention, and it was one in the morning after seeing a bunch of cool bands and thrashing to some cool music; how Metal Thursday goes, and this was definitely a good one.
The show calendar is a little confused upcoming; I'm definitely down for Revocation at O'Brien's Wednesday, but whether or not I go to At The Gates is kind of up in the air. I'm glad that Wacken is coming, and that I'll see them there regardless of the plans of my non-metal friends for this weekend. We'll see.