Tuesday, September 23, 2008

hail hail the Celtic discounts

In addition to a nice win at Killie on the weekend and a fitting domination in their League Cup opener today, there is some extra-good news out of Celtic Park: the super-awesome old away kit is on sale to clear inventory to make space for the weird yellow ones. Unless you, like, have a bowler hat implanted directly in your brain and you never take off your Rangers shirt because it's signed by everyone from your local UDA cell, you should agree that the "Iggle green" shirt is wicked awesome, and with slow shipping, it'll get to your door in two weeks for about $30.

If enough people buy these shirts, maybe the club will a) realize that the new away uniforms look silly, even with the positive quote under the collar, and b) use the extra money to buy a new left defender when the transfer (kind of like free agency) market opens up again in January.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Helloween with Gamma Ray [Worcester Palladium, 9/20/2008]

There will be some who will slag on me for going to this show; call me a pussy, or a poser, or some such shit because I went to see these bands rather than Deceased and their local support. These people, though, were probably not at the grindcore combine Friday night, and if they were there, they didn't see as close to as a full-on classic Helloween reunion as we are likely to ever get, especially in North America (see below).

I got out with plenty of time to spare, and ran into an old Landsmann going in; once inside, I headed for the rail through the largely empty floor. Things would fill in later, but getting in early definitely had its advantages.

Gamma Ray [7/7]
A disadvantage, though, was that I was on the rail drinking my beer and waiting for the long part of an hour before these guys went on. The advantage, of course, was that I got a top-class Gamma Ray set essentially at contact range. Unlike the last time they were here, they didn't do the full version of "Rebellion In Dreamland", but they did do "Heaven Can Wait" and "Heavy Metal Universe", plus all their festival-scale fan-participation stuff, in a hall that was filled up and actually allowed for it. Kai didn't hit all of the high notes on the records, but the performance was incredible regardless, and if they only did one song on their encore, it was after nearly and hour of normal set, and it was "Send Me A Sign", in the which process I really felt like I'd break my own neck headbanging.

Some time, someone needs to interview Dan Zimmerman rather than Kai, and at that time ask him something along the lines of "given how heavy the start of 'Empress', which you wrote. is, how come Freedom Call is uniformly so, um, poofty?" Seriously. By a significant margin, Gamma Ray had the best regular set of the night, and the authentic, hard-hitting heaviness had a lot to do with this. (The rest was having significantly more really good material, but that'll be as it may.)

During the break, I got another drink, hit the head, and picked up a Gamma Ray shirt; $25, so US bands charging more are officially on notice. I'd previously been a little peeved about the $40 asking price for tickets ($35 plus bogus "convenience" charge), but now, after Gamma Ray's actual set, I was just fine with going home after the stellar headliner-caliber performance, like I'd missed two locals and another touring band upstairs or something while waiting on the rail. Anything we got out of Helloween was going to be purely bonus.

Helloween [7/7]
This is based largely on their encore, which is also treated as a separate set below. The main part of their set was strong enough, and we got a lot of Keys material, but there was a lot stronger of a correlation between those two points than the band might have liked. You listen to the singles off the recent discs, half In Flames and half Schlaeger, and then the old stuff, and it becomes crystal clear that this band peaked ridiculously early, back in 1988, and while half of this is probably that no one else has materially surpassed the Keeper of the Seven Keys records with regard to inaugurating a power metal epoch either (okay, HammerFall's Glory to the Brave, but that CD is a lot less good than it is influential), half is that Kai Hansen wrote all the good music, and they picked Kiske over him and got the band in this mess themselves while Hansen's been doing awesome metal with pure integrity ever since. This was a decent Helloween set, but as implied from the foregoing comments, it was about to become superlative, probably the best that we're likely to get in the modern era.

HelloweenoRay [7/7]
Ingo Swichtenberg has passed on out of this world. Michael Kiske is so far away musically from the rest of the remaining lineup as to make a reunion of the living Keepers members impossible. But Jericho -- that's something else. The acrimony of the original split made it hard to contemplate, but it was still at least possible. And 'possible' became 'actually happening' as the techs dragged a fourth mic out, putting the lie to the venue ops who had turned some of the lights on. I was expecting the reunion. What we got was something entirely different.

Dan Zimmerman was out in the bus packing up his kit and making sure the local meth fiends didn't steal his cymbals or something, but every single other member who'd been on stage to this point came on back, Dirk and Markus doubling up the low end while Sascha and Henjo traded leads, Kai and Weiki ripping up their fretboards and rubbing shoulders, chatting like they haven't been moderately estranged for most of the last 20 years, and Andy Ders trying, occasionally in vain, so find somewhere to stand that didn't have a headstock flying through it. The world's best eight-member German power metal combo cranked up "Future World" and "I Want Out", to massive acclaim and backing vocals from a thousand or so fans; this was technically Helloween playing, but not Helloween the band as they currently are. This was Helloween the history, the idea, the manifestation on a stage in North America of the fundamental idea of German power metal: fast, heavy, singalong, melodic, and overall fun. If you missed it, you probably wouldn't appreciate it -- and if you did, where the hell were you, this didn't sell out or anything.

At the end of it all, it was a nice swift swing back north; next week's somewhere betweeen two and four shows, depending on if I go to Apocalyptica and this punk show Friday or just the metal gigs on the weekend. We'll see.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wendol with Atakke, Ramming Speed, Man The Conveyors, and Unholy Goatfucker [Democracy Center, Cambridge, 9/19/2008]

Originally, this was supposed to be the middle show of a three-day stand, but that was before the Mass. DOT/DPW decided that it would be a smart thing to close the ramp onto the Pike from 95 on Thursday night. I got spun around, missed the northbound entrance, and said fuck it, by the time I fight through the southbound backup again, fuel up, and drive out to Worcester, Summoning Hate will probably be closing up. Not a good time; fortunately, I got down to this show without state or commercial interference.

I left directly from work because this was billed as a 7pm show; I got in on time, but, as per the last time I was at a gig here, the bands weren't quite there yet. The locals were loaded in, but the touring bands were still inbound; traffic was apparently really tough from New York on up, but despite the later start, none of the sets really felt cramped for time. During the intervening time, I pretty much hung around and killed some time by reading through a couple zines; Boston anarchists and a prisoners-rights group. Some people might not be comfortable having a 9 to 5 job, then showing up at an underground grind-thrash show held at an all-purpose radical clubhouse, but think about it; if you believe in the idea of the underground, it's better to take money out of the corporate system and put it into the underground, rather than refrain from doing so because you're afraid of going to cult shows.

Soon enough, though, the bands went on, and concerns of ideological economics were pretty much put aside.

Unholy Goatfucker [5/7]
This band's changed up their lineup, I think, since I last saw them back at the Midway, but the change has definitely been for the better; the sound, at least, was a lot better here, allowing the content of the music to come through. In principle, this isn't anything new; however, if you consider it old hat, you probably have even more records issued on Head Not Found and Napalm between 1995 and 1998 than I do. Unholy Goatfucker's sound hearkens back to this era of the solidification of the Norwegian black metal sound, somewhere between Gorgoroth's early stuff and bands like Twin Obscenity and Obtained Enslavement. It's at least superficially odd to hear on a bill like this -- the long-noted correspondences between black metal and punk rock notwithstanding, the sound'll fit in a lot more seamlessly when they play with One Master and Witch Tomb at the end of the month -- but still cool to hear. We're still waiting for some recorded material, but the live stuff is good as it is, and having a classic-Norweigan-sounding, corpsepainted black metal band around definitely increases the already-strong diversity of the New England black metal scene.

Man The Converyors [5/7]
With the initial wait resolved, the bands came fast and clicking. Man The Conveyors came out with a ripping set of thrashed-up grind that got the crowd moving. They had had some turmoil (allegedly, I picked this all up at the show, so there's no prior information or sources outside the band) since their last tour, but from this set, it looks like they've got their feet back under them, and definitely with enough punch to provide good entertainment for anyone into grindcore.

I picked up their CD after their set, after rehydrating, and in the booklet there's some nice explanations of the lyrics alongside the actual texts. As noted alongside one of the songs, too often radical politics becomes a scene-points contest, and there's little education to go with the advocacy; this is a good step in the opposite direction, which is kind of necessary given that people tend to gut-level oppose progressive changes until someone explains to them exactly how they benefit when everyone benefits.

Ramming Speed [6/7]
How is a bat like a pterosaur? When you answer this question, you can also answer how this band is like, say, Tankard, twenty-five years earlier. The combination of punk, hardcore, and melodic metal now sounds almost perfectly like the thrash revival, but it's convergent evolution in this case, and the result is that they're probably the most likely of the Boston party thrashers to take their sound to that higher level. Here, the execution was top-notch, and so was the response; in addition to the requisite moshing, there were also a couple abortive attempts at crowdsurfing, and, of course, you had metalheads, punks, and crusties of all stripes (patches ranging, for example, from Infest to Asbestos to Amebix to Iron Maiden to Sodom to Pungent Stench) banging along. The touring bands made a strong case for themselves, but it could also be equally argued that Ramming Speed put up the best set of the night.

I picked up their CD from Ricky after they closed up, and since they're going on tour for most of the next six weeks, I have a fair margin to review it (as I ended up not promising Jonah because I suck at replying to email) before they start calling me a hoser. Watch this space.

Atakke [6/7]
The NYC half of the traveling bill was up first, and they hit like a ton of bricks. I love the hell out of early D-thrash (in this case Kreator, Sodom, and Holy Moses -- and their actual sound, too, not just the singer's gender), and Atakke's fusion of grindpunk into their
Ruhrpott influences kicked a hell of a lot of ass. The floor may not have been as strictly nuts as during Ramming Speed, but the total area thrashed over may have been larger. This set felt a little foreshortened, but the music was good enough that it didn't really hurt. Definitely a band I've got to watch in the future, especially since they're based relatively close.

I meant to pick up their 7", but I declined to between sets; I'd have to either hold onto it through Wendol's set, or put it in my back pouch, and in the first case, someone would probably run into it, and the second, I'd almost certainly lean on it without thinking and break it in half. Supporting bands is good an sich, but I actually have a record player and hence wanted to also listen to the disc in question. Unfortunately, by the time that Wendol finished, they'd already packed their merch up; maybe order, maybe next time.

Wendol [6/7]
From melo-thrashing black metal to thrash-grind to re-evolved party thrash to grindpunk D-thrash, this show ranged all over the map genre-wise, and the final act was no exception. Wendol had a couple difficulties with the PA early, but once they hit their groove, there was no denying the quality of their nearly 50-50 mix of death metal and grindcore. They changed up straight-up death and straight-up grind section by section and track by track, but kept both integrated into a single sound; an impressive compositional feat, but if it didn't kick ass as well, it would have been for naught. Fortunately, everything worked, and this was a strong set right up to the point where the curfew came in; like Coffins the last time, they got a real encore by genuine popular demand versus the venue. Unlike Coffins, though, this felt like a fully fleshed-out set; like them, though, it was a worthy capstone to a quality show.

With the early curfew, I was able to get back home by a little after midnight, even counting time spent chasing down Wendol's guys for merch; they got in late and didn't have time, as alluded to above, to get set up before they had to set their gear up and start playing. This was their split CD and a large patch; there's a space for it on my least-built vest, but I'm not sure where yet. Next gig's tonight with Gamma Ray and Helloween; after that, things are a little up in the air.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Impaled with Phobia, Kill The Client, Illogicist, Maruta, and Defeatist [Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, 9/9/2008]

Eighteen bands in six days is a hell of a lot of death metal. Fortunately, this concluding segment to the very-long-weekend that began with Boarcorpse on Thursday was just as eminently worthy as the previous two.

Because the show was a bit of an early start, and I was concerned that I'd miss bands as well as waste gas if I went home, I worked a little late, then drove right in; it ws a little bit of an early start, but between traffic and other built-in delays, there wasn't that much latency between when I got in and when the bands started. Unfortunately for my wallet, there was almost precisely enough time to find the one Sear Bliss DVD in the Pathos table, which predictably looted 15 bucks from my wallet and immediately handed the money to Dwyer before jumping into my vest pocket and zipping itself in. Beware black/death metal with trombones; they'll jump you and make you purchase them.

Defeatist [4/7]
Defeatist opened the proceedings with a decent, fairly standard-form grindcore set. As I'm not really a grindcore fan, there wasn't a lot in it that really stood out for me, but the execution was front-to-back solid, at least; grind basically is as grind is, so those who were here for the more grind half of the bill probably dug the hell out of this band. Other mainly-death-metal-fans, maybe not so much, but it was a decent set, and I'm sure that nobody minded their presence or anything.

Maruta [5/7]
I missed this band at the NEDF because I was a goober and didn't go to the first day, and while people who'd seen them earlier ranked this set below their prior performance, it was still a nice sharp deathgrind outing. Sure, they don't have a bassist, but they seem to be getting along just fine without one; the guitarist showed a lot of chops using his seventh string to build low-end while not letting the lower notes dominate over what he was doing on the higher strings. Solid grind, with nice tech chops on top; good stuff.

They had jacket parts, so I ended up picking up a patch in addition to their CD; it'll take some arranging to place and sew it in to maximum effect, but it'll look pretty cool as a finished product. Now I just need to get those other parts from Hell's Headbangers and order that Celtic badge...

Illogicist [5.5/7]
These guys put out a good set, but in any other city, it probably would have rated substantially better. Why? Because in Boston, we have Revocation, who do basically everything that Illogicist do in the line of tech-death, only better and at bar shows like, every other week. This isn't a knock on Illogicist, who played some great tunes, but just an assessment of bad luck that they may have had with their audience selection. If you could get past the "wait, Dave and Phil are down here in the audience, so how are they on stage too?" angle, this was a good set, and if they brought coals to Newcastle, at least it was some nice coal that contrasted well with the grind-heavy balance of the bill.

Kill The Client [6/7]
Nothing but high-quality, straight-from-the-shoulder grindcore. Where Phobia and Maruta did some balance of deathgrind/grind-death (yes, there is a difference, though you may need to own all of Carcass' demos on tape and the entire Swans back catalog to determine exactly what) and Defeatist had a fair salting of death elements, KTC just went straight for the throat with loud, violent, grind. The motion started to pick up in the crowd at this point, maybe because there were more people in, and likely partly because the vocalist dived off the stage a couple times to get things brewing himself. In addition to the rampage through their own material, they also did an Infest cover, which I didn't recognize because the top patch on my main jacket is from Running Wild. (If you're concerned that you may be automatically disqualified to comment on grindcore, don't worry; you already are. Fortunately, nobody cares.)

Phobia [6/7]
It's been a while since I actually listened to the one Phobia record that I've acquired over the years, but though I couldn't recognize any individual songs, the overall sound, grind with a ferocious death punch, was completely familiar. The band killed as could be expected, with the final result being the best grind set of the night, a hard mark given the competition, but seriously, this is Phobia, and excellence is expected. Were this just a grind tour, and they the headliners, I doubt that anyone would have been bummed about this as a headlining set -- though a pure grind tour involving fewer bands would also likely mean longer sets for everyone, and a couple more tunes couldn't've hurt here.

Impaled [7/7]
Impaled, though, crushed all; part of this is that my tastes play into their thrashed-up death style, and part of it is that they kicked ass on a lot of strong material over a nice meaty set. The uniforms were a touch gimmicky, but like other costumed bands that I could mention, they were having fun with it, though perhaps a little subdued to avoid rubbing any of the 'no fun - no mosh - no core' crowd who might have showed up at this show the wrong way. (Though, seriously, who believes in that stuff and goes to a show with Phobia this high on the bill? No idea.) As might be expected when you have six bands and a hard 12:15 curfew, their set was a little shorter than most people might have wanted, but they recognized the time limitations and announced that they were skipping the "let's pretend to walk off the stage lolz" bullshit, and just going straight into the encore portion of the set. Good music, and better honesty; I'm sure that most metalheads would gladly put the planned-encore phenomenon to death in order to get another song in the three minutes the band usually spends jacking around waiting for the crowd to make enough noise.

Alas, shows at the Middle East have to stop the music right on 12:15, so this one did have to come to an end. I headed north and made good time, assisted by not hitting anything; come Saturday, I'll be back down for Wargasm's reunion, but until then, just resting up.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Carcass with Suffocation, Necrophagist, Dying Fetus, 1349, Rotten Sound, Beneath The Massacre, and Veil of Maya [Worcester Palladium, 9/5/2008]

The reunion tour of the summer came around and fulfilled all expectations; I'm still nearly knocked out from exhaustion and such, but even if there hadn't been Summoning Hate et al on Thursday night and Impaled coming on Tuesday, this would be well sufficient for any weekend.

I took a half day from work, and as later comments will show, probably should have just taken the whole day off. Regardless, I had plenty of time to get fueled up and into the Palladium on time. Since I didn't particularly care about Veil of Maya, and because the gig started so early that most people were still at work, I didn't have much difficulty picking up a couple (very expensive) shirts from the merch stand. The weak dollar is probably as much to blame as greed; if you could buy anything in England with twelve quid, maybe Carcass would be a little more sanguine about a $25 price point.

Veil of Maya [4/7]
The most ill-matched band to this bill (well, maybe next to 1349), it's difficult to see even why they're touring with Dying Fetus. They weren't any better or more interesting than their previous appearance at the NEMHCF, and probably the best part of their set was that most of the ninjas got their energy out doing backflips in the empty pit, and didn't go injuring people during the later bands. This was the sole band of the night where I was, seriously, scratching my head wondering how people get into this kind of music; repetitive riffs and unineteresting composition. Maybe it's a moshing thing, but more people were more violent for the next band, and I thought that was why old thrash metal was coming back anyway.

Beneath The Massacre [5/7]
This, on the other hand, was a nice set of straight-ahead mosh music. Beneath The Massacre does not do a whole lot of variety, but fast, dense, tight, deathcore, they do in spades, and they do it very well. I'm not a huge fan of this style without the other adornments of, say, a Dying Fetus, but the execution here was absolutely dead-on. I was up in front of the mixing stand, but it sure looked like those on the floor were enjoying the hell out of the band. Good stuff, even if just for the technical aspect.

Rotten Sound [6/7]
I really can't explain how this band didn't get more of a reaction than they did. The singer's accent was a little dense, but they were still the only 100% grindcore band opening up for Carcass, and people had been thrashing mightily just before they went on. Maybe a different audience; Rotten Sound did a hell of a good performance, and while there was some moshing, this set downstairs at the Middle East -- or, seriously, upstairs here -- would have been a sea of flying bodies most of the way through. Alas, most of the kids who came for Heartwork have no idea who Trap Them are, so the reference and the shirt were probably for naught.

On the other hand, it seemed like everyone who is in a metal or grind band in New England turned out for this -- namedropping said bands individually would take up probably more space than several actual review entries -- and they definitely did pick up on it.

1349 [5/7]
Aborted dropped or didn't show up or something, so 1349 got slightly longer after a slightly longer wait, and from where I was standing made the most of it. I don't know whether they've developed since I last heard them, or if it was just the soundboard fucking up again, but I didn't recall them having so many black-and-roll tunes previously. It made the fit with the rest of the bill a little better, but they're 1349, not Vried, and their more directly chaotic black metal personally came off better.

Dying Fetus [6.5/7]
I really had to go back and check -- did I really never see Dying Fetus before? Well, I missed them at NEDF, and they were touring last fall and I had to go to Texas, I think, rather than seeing them at the Middle East. Before that, I was probably in Germany and before that, in Michigan and/or dead broke. Not so hard to believe after all. I'm not as into DF as the other bands remaining, but this was a great, powerful set, showing off a lot of death-grind punch and a good amount of variety in its application. Good stuff -- now I've just got to remember to go see them when they come around with a headlining slot.

At the conclusion of their set, they told people to stick around for Necrophagist; on one level, this was cool, because there had been a lot of uncertainty about the lineup -- a kind of Champion's League of death metal, with all the early angst about who was going to make it through the qualis -- and it wasn't concretely established that Necrophagist was going to play here, period. On the other hand, it was concerning -- how in the hell does Necrophagist play after Dying Fetus in North America, even supporting Carcass? I mean, I'm much more into Necro than DF, and it sounds weird even to me.

Necrophagist [7/7]
The new drummer's no Marco Minneman, but was definitely up to the standard of their previous material. Naturally, the set as a consequence wasn't as stunning as their headlining appearance at last year's Summer Slaughter, but merely up to their previous standards of ridiculous technicality. This was a top-class set of tech-death, but as good as the band was, even better was the announcement from Muhammed that there's going to be another Necrophagist album, and that they'll be back next year on Summer Slaughter. The tour's less important -- even though it assures that unlike this year's iteration, the package will unilaterally be worth seeing -- than the notice that the preeminent Turco-German musician of his generation isn't ready to trade in his guitar for an AutoCAD workstation just yet. As good as this band is, whenever Muhammed decides that he's going to get on with the rest of his life, it'll be a sad day, but the knowledge that we'll get at least another full-length out of them, plus the as-yet-unnamed Suicmez/Minneman collaboration that's in the works, is a definite positive.

Suffocation [7/7]
I hit the floor at this point, taking advantage of the change in style to get down on the rail. Doing otherwise with a bad knee would be little short of suicidal; as it was, I saw relatively little of Suffocation as opposed to listening to them while keeping a weather eye on the crowd to keep myself and those around me from getting totally wrecked. The music was ripping as usual, including a brand new song from the forthcoming record, which sounded as supremely finished as you'd expect from a Suffocation composition, even though they're still working on the disc in question. Frank also provided a nice sense of history, referencing their past swings with Carcass back in the early '90s, and Suffocation provided an eminently headliner-quality set of slammingly brutal death metal. Killer stuff, but the best was still to come.

Carcass [7/7]
This was what we'd been waiting for since the reunion was announced, and for those who remembered how successful Heartwork was for the band, there's no way they came away disappointed. (Those who somehow forgot shouldn't be chastised too severely; this was, after all, 15 years ago.) This was a longer and slightly deeper set than they did in Germany, but -- perhaps because I had that prior experience, or perhaps because Ken didn't fly over to make a special appearance as he did at Wacken -- in some way not quite as amazing. This was still, of course, Carcass, and ripping through a bunch of killer material as though they'd never been gone, but just great, rather than historically great. The only unfortunate part was, as usual, that they didn't go on longer, but "A Night with Carcass" might have been a harder sell for a band that's been out of commission for 15 years than a conventional tour like this.

Finally, the stage techs rather than the band came out to break the backline down as the autopsy footage rolled, and it was time to head home. It wasn't until after I got onto 128, though, that getting less than three hours' sleep after Summoning Hate the night before (viz "trap show" comments way back up at the top) really started to hit, and I didn't have enough of C.W. McCall's "shot[s] of black C" to make it back reliably without running the car into anything. Luckily, my work is on the way back, so I could take a detour to get an "hour of Zs" in the parking garage and recharge. Well, 30 minutes, but it was enough, and I'm still alive, and if it wasn't absolutely the best show that it could possibly have been, you can't honestly argue with the quality of the actual performances involved.

There's been a fair bit of grousing around some of the circumstantials here, stopping just short of suggesting that Carcass is doing this reunion mainly for the money; high merch prices, most of the set from their mst popular works, et cetera. Those burned up about this should bear the following two points in mind:

1) Every reunion of a successful band after a long layoff is to at least some degree driven by economic factors. Every single one, from Black Sabbath on down.
2) This reunion would not have happened if Holger Hubner had not sat down with Jeff, Bill, and a suitcase containing one million euros, and said "It's yours if you get the band back together and play Wacken and Bloodstock".

The last is a paraphrase, sure, but there have been too many rumors of the million-euro guarantee floating around in the last two years to overlook it entirely. Just from Jeff's commentary in the limited windows that I've seen the band, it's pretty clear that the band is still not terribly happy with the Swansong material and how that record turned out, and that they're not tremendously comfortable with going on as Carcass without Ken Owen in the mix. Instead of grousing about commercialism, people should instead be happy that Carcass is going out and executing with professionalism, passion, and artistic integrity in the middle of what is a fundamentally commercial endeavor. It's possible to do a bad reunion if the band is solely stuck together for the cash, but the Carcass guys still actually like one another, and can still go back to those early days in Midlands clubs while they're on stage, even if it's 20 years on, and they're playing in the US to, largely, people who were in elementary school when Symphonies of Sickness was being written. I'm not crazy about paying 30 bucks for a shirt either, but if this tour doesn't math out as a commercial prospect six months ago, they don't do it, and the band is drinking beers with Ken right now, counting the payoff from the summer's festivals, and there's no Carcass reunion for us in North America. Those who were there got a hell of a lot more Carcass than anyone thought they'd ever get even five years ago, and even if this is all the Carcass we get for another fifteen years, there's a hell of a lot of quality in their performance here to last, Kommerz or no Kommerz.

Next gig is probably Impaled -- who will probably never be accused of commercialism -- and after that Wargasm -- another reunion, but probably with a significantly smaller profit motive -- both at the Middle East. For now, I'm just recovering, and just glad there's no shows I have to feel bad about missing.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Summoning Hate with Hirudinea, Parasitic Extirpation, and Boarcorpse [O'Brien's, Allston, 9/4/2008]

More than either a tuneup show for Carcass -- or a trap show, depending on your perspective -- this was an excellent reminder of why we like death metal so damn much, a vindication for the concept of living close to a metro area large enough to do diverse DIY shows, and a mighty fine time for a Thursday night that for once didn't involve driving to Worcester.

As usual, I mis-estimated how long it takes me to walk from Cambridge to Allston, even on a bum leg and with traffic, so I ended up getting in well before the bands started; this was a decent opportunity to sit around, drink beer -- well, PBR -- and get bored with the lack of action or entertainment value in the Giants-Redskins game. When you're not emotionally invested in an American football game, it's a little easier to see how little of the time spent watching it is spent watching live game action rather than slow-motion replays of players you don't care about. At least in a soccer game that you don't care about, there's something going on all the time, even if relatively little of it translates directly into scoring.

Also, a bunch of old white people were having some kind of party in Minnesota that they kept cutting away to. Seriously, what the hell is that.

Boarcorpse [5/7]
Fortunately, the bands started, and Boarcorpse provided a more than adequate opening. Their lineup for this gig, one of their first if I recall correctly, was the same as when the band was called Ouch, but it's definitely clear that this band is a different animal. They still don't quite have it together to the point that they'd probably like to, but the experimentation was more focused and brutal here, the material tighter, than on the demo that I'd gotten from them last year. This was a solid if short set of somewhat grindy death metal with a few modern-rock touches; good stuff, and as this band continues to develop and get a feel for their sound, they'll likely continue to improve.

Parasitic Extirpation [6.5/7]
Yes, this was total Suffocation-worship. However, when a band can pull off Suffocation's dense, technical brutality and really do it well, they're worth listening to, and seriously, the next time Suffocation plays a local bar show for seven bucks, I'll be there with bells on. Seriously. I will straight up sew those little Christmas jingle bells onto my rig in strategic locations in order to emphasize correctly how awesome such an occurance would be. On topic, this was not quite as slambolic as might be surmised from seeing current Dysentery and Proteus members in the lineup, but even those who may have come down solely for the slam couldn't've gone away unhappy with the output. It may have been by a narrow margin over the two to come, but PE did put on the best set of the night.

Hirudinea [6/7]
I hadn't seen Hirudinea in like forever -- actually, since 2007, probably in like June at the Skybar, which feels like it's been dead and gone for ages, but what the hell -- and initially wasn't sure if they'd changed their lineup around, until, of course, they kicked it up with some good old raw grindblack, and I stopped caring in preference to just enjoying the music. The phrase "locked up with a Burzum tape" is overused as a throwaway signifier for bands that use lo-fi droning and want to add some underground cachet, so there has to be another way to express how strongly the black metal portion of Hirudinea's sound is rooted in Burzum's and Darkthrone's demo phases, while still pointing up that they use this sound to create really cool music. I don't listen to enough grindcore to capture the other sources in the mix, but any time you have a band opening up with riffs that sound cribbed from Kreator's "Phobia" and "Bomb Threat", this should be sufficient. The sound seemed a little low for them throughout the set, but nothing was buried, and the mix allowed every instrument to come through....except the backing vocals, which kind of got lost in places, probably due to equipment issues with the mic.
This set also felt foreshortened; at a DIY show, especially one where load-in and load-out have to go through the crowd and through one door, there's not a lot of room for cracking the whip, and Boston apparently has a 12:15 curfew to keep these gigs from running longer, but the quality of all the bands on this one really makes you yearn for those slightly longer opening slots on national shows, and also for a venue outside the city where the bands can get to play a little longer.

Summoning Hate [6/7]
The crowd had dipped a little after Parasitic Extirpation, an unfortunate side effect of having a nice diverse show like this, where bands draw largely from different bases, on a Thursday night when most people have to work in the morning, but came back up as the Summoning Hate crew arrived in full force. The band rose to the occasion as well; this was the first time that I'd seen them since Juan left and they added the second guitar, but the sound was still thick and thrashy, and definitely up to prior standards. Their set seemed to run a little longer than the bands that preceded them, but still felt too short, despite the tons of thrash-death that they put out, including a couple tunes with Juan back on vocals at the end. Good music, a good bit of movement, and a great cap-off to a great night.

On my way out I hit the Parasitic merch table as Blue was packing it up, and picked up some pins and a Dysentery sticker; because I was more concentrating on the two miles I'd have to walk to pick my car back up, I didn't notice that one of the pins didn't have any actual pin in the back. This isn't much of a problem, though, as I still did get a couple complete ones, and better I take the un-assembled one than someone who only takes one and then finds they can't pin it anywhere. Next, tonight, is of course CARCASS! -- and Necrophagist and 1349 and Dying Fetus and Aborted and allegedly Rotten Sound as well, but the real draw is the scousers slinging the Tools of the Trade once again.