I'd skipped two shows due to work commitments (part of the reason that this review is so colossally late) -- and depression at Celtic crashing out of Europe -- earlier in this week, so this one was pretty much de riguer. It didn't hurt that it also packed a hell of a lineup, and allowed me to avoid going out locally and running into people back in town for Thanksgiving and/or reunions that I had little interest in seeing.
I left a little late due to working on some other junk, but managed to get in to Boston and stumped over to O'Brien's while the bands were still setting up. It was fairly crowded; Saturday show with a lot of good bands will do that, and there was a decent amount of time to hang out, stretch out, and drink chemicals.
Summoning Hate [6/7]
There are a lot of people who complain about NEDM being all slam these days, and far too many of them just sit on their asses and whine, instead of going out and supporting this band. Summoning Hate's old-school attack may not be as complicated as the other bands on this bill, but holy crap is it heavy, and you're not a fan of the likes of Obituary and Master, you really need to take a look at yourself and try to figure out exactly why you're in death metal, anyway. The songs that they pull Juan back in for may be borrowed finery, but they do a good job with them, and their original material is pretty killer as well. The night did only get better from here, but listening to this set, that wouldn't've been a rational expectation.
David later promised me that they'd have patches out sometime in the nebulous future, but we'll see if this materializes; there was a fair amount of Milwaukee's Purest Biotropic Reactant in play at that point, but doing patches would be in-character for the band, and their logo is pretty freakin badass.
I thought they'd added a bass player recently, but I was wrong; fortunately, Abnormality proved that they still don't need one, with probably the best set that I've seen from them. Their low end sounded stronger, and the riffs were still ridiculously complex, for a killer total effect that set the stage for the bands to come. This would have been a killer headlining set in any other circumstance, but here it was just the second of four -- we have an embarrasment of riches as far as death metal goes in Boston, so go to local gigs and enjoy it.
Those not in the Boston area can check out Abnormality via their song "Visions" on Rock Band 2 -- and if you like torturing yourself, you can actually try to play it. The track is generally rated "impossible", which is the way technical death metal should be in a rhythm game, and cleverly positioned (Malika, the vocalist, works for Activision) to achieve maximum exposure from the band via YouTube videos of people killing themselves to beat it on Expert.
This must have been Leave Your Bassist Home Day; I swear that Abnormality announced that they'd got one, and then Goreality, who normally do have a four-stringer in the lineup, came out without theirs. I was initially concerned about this, as what really drives Goreality is the mixture of that absolutely punishing low end with the ridiculous technicality of the guitar lines, but Steve and Mark stepped it up here, and if the rhythm section wasn't as thick and overpowering, the sound wasn't any thinner for it. I'd rather see this band with a bassist than without, but they fully earned this mark even as a four-piece, and that they're able to do such a great set with an integral part of their sound removed is truly mind-blowing. They set a high bar for Mortal Decay to follow, and if they got the exposure that they deserve, they'd be setting that bar for the death metal scene as a whole.
Unfortunately, the number of people who stuck around for their set was a little diminished. Part of it may be people getting into Abnormality from the game, then not wanting to stick around late, but part of it was people leaving to catch the last train to wherever. Part of this is fail on the part of Boston, which needs to keep its public transit open later, but part of it is people needing to buck up and buckle down -- seriously, you go to a DIY bar show and miss Goreality and Mortal Decay? Sure, the first two bands are plenty of value for your seven bucks, but this was some of the best death metal of the year, and missing out on it would've sucked.
Mortal Decay [7/7]
From New Jersey, but frequent visitors to this region, Mortal Decay demonstrated why Boston loves them (and hence, why they love Boston). This was a ripping set of technical brutal death metal that united a lot of elements present in the three bands that had opened up, but also did take it to a higher level, as hard as that is to believe given how good the bands had been to this point. Shit also got brewed up in the crowd as well; Malika and Juan, along with a few others, finally managed to get people moving enough to start a classic O'Brien's pit (one with a pole in the middle), and only a few containers got broken, and nobody injured. Things were running a touch late, so the lights were on for curfew when they finally closed up, but I don't think there was a single metalhead left in the building who actually wanted them to pack up. Seriously, it wasn't even one in the morning! On a Saturday! Bogus is what it is.
Of course, the bar had to close, and threw everyone out, so it was time to beat feet back across the bridges, then get lost in Boston because I fucked up the Memorial Drive approach, but one way or another I got home, and one of the better local shows in recent memory went into the books. Next is a bunch of thrash bands at this same place on the 15th, then not too much until the turn of the year.