Friday, March 20, 2009

Dysentery with Sapremia, Deconformity, and Dhoulmagus [Ralph's, Worcester, 3/19/2009]

Going into this one, I felt pretty relaxed; I got out of work in time to get home and unwind a bit before coming in, then the traffic was bearable all the way out along the Pike. Shortly after Framingham, though, this all went to shit as I realized that I had come this far without my knee brace. There are Metal Thursdays that you can go to with bad knees and no brace and not have it matter; anything with Dysentery on the bill, though, is decidedly not in that subset. This was going to be interesting, and potentially also extremely painful, but that's the way things go sometimes.

Anyway, I get in, drink some beer, browse Blue's distro box, get formally introduced to Jim (Boarcorpse) and Drew (Dysentery, Parasitic Extirpation, ex-Proteus, etc), and soon enough the bands go on, with me being careful to stand somewhere not directly in the line of fire.

Dhoulmagus [4/7]
This band had chops, and some interesting riffs, but also only 60 percent of their intended membership, and not really enough material to cover the length of time they played. They sounded a little raw, but while I initially chalked this up to the band's presumed inexperience, it's also quite likely that this was a forerunner of the sound problems that would continue through the rest of the bands. I'm interested to see how this band continues to develop, especially with a filled-out lineup, but this set of standard-form death metal done between guitar and drums was pretty much an appetizer for the rest of the night. Not a bad performance, and not a bad introduction, but stuff would get better from here.

To put some forerunning speculation to rest, this band's name is pronounced "DOOL-maggis", to rhyme with "ghoul haggis", which would be an interesting name for a goregrind band from Perthshire. Allegedly, this is also the name of a boss in some Dragon Quest game, so it is to the band's credit that they're not using the weaboo pronunciation, though it would have been funny to hear that from the stage. Overcaffinated exhausion; putting bizarre non-sequiturs into post-Metal Thursday posts since 2007.

Deconformity [5/7]
With a drastically revamped lineup, this was the second time I've seen Deconformity on this stage and the third time total. This may also be the last time, as they've been variously reported as thinking about a name change to reflect the changes in personnel. The sound issues aside -- a lot of feedback that didn't fit with what the band was trying to do with their lead-heavy technical brutality, plus some persistent problems bringing the guitars forward enough -- this was a good set, though it felt a little foreshortened, maybe due to lack of prepared material, maybe due to me losing track of time thanks to beer and good music. Josh (Strappado, Neuraxis, ex-Sexcrement, etc) is at least a sidegrade relative to Mike, and it should be interesting to see what this band does going forward, as they always had a lot of potential, but have been historically limited by lineup issues. This was some good stuff when it cut through the PA mess, and a good time overall.

After their set, one of the guitarists was going through the crowd barking their CD for five bucks. I picked up a copy because a) it's cheap, b) I support bands, and c) barking, rather than setting up a merch table and hoping people walk over, is not something you regularly see. Would bands get more sales this way? Would they eventually rub people wrong by going up to everyone individually and hitting them up to buy a disc after every set? There's a balance to be struck here, but it's interesting to see people selling rather than just putting their stuff out for purchase.

I'm doubly interested to hear this CD, because, as odd as it sounds, I have heard nearly nothing good about it, and most of that from the band themselves. As I recall, they were deeply dissatisfied with the production on it; any time a band frankly discusses problems with their work, it piques your interest, both for their honesty and to see what they're not happy with, and how that meshes with what they deliver live. Of course, I might have the wrong demo /album in mind, and I'm one of those weirdos who actually liked the original mix of Enemies of Reality, so it might turn out to be badass after all.

Sapremia [6/7]
This was one of those sets that really reminds you why you love death metal, and why you go to shows like this. It wasn't perfect, but it was still a dominating performance of straight-from-the-shoulder brutal death metal. You immediately can see why Sapremia's been around as long as they have, with the simple but never simplistic intention of just delivering quality, punishing death, no frills, no compromises. If there was any cause for complaint, it was that they didn't play long enough; another song or three would have kicked ass, but set times are ultimately set times. This set also saw probably the peak of pit action by volume, for reasons that will be discussed fuller when we get to Dysentery, and probably the best soundboard treatment of the night.

This was kind of odd, because the sound at Metal Thursday is usually really good, and Deconformity and Dysentery were kind of sloppily handled, maybe Dhoulmagus as well, but not having heard them before, I'm not sure that I can discriminate relative to their usual sound. The guitars were low in the mix, feedback was an issue rather than an effect, and both Sapremia and Dysentery saw major PA dropouts, Dysentery just with Will's mic, but Sapremia with everything, every channel. Maybe the sound guy was having an off night, maybe he just needs to fix his equipment and/or cabling, but something got screwed up here, and to their credit the bands soldiered through and did decently despite the circumstances.

Dysentery [6/7]
Somewhat oddly, a void opened up down front going into Dysentery's set. The void didn't last long, but it was never quite as full of flailing bodies as the band would have liked. Despite some mic issues and the lack of insane mosh, Dysentery put up a kickass set of locked-down slam-death with a decently acceptable amount of "friendly violent fun" (original Combat pressing of Fabulous Disaster picked up last weekend ftw) in front of them. As mentioned, the guitars were a little low, but the breakdowns cut through as needed, and if it wasn't the best Dysentery set I've seen, it was still a damn good one.

One of the more prominent features of this set (apart from the normal ten-ton pile of USDA Grade A slam, that is) was the mostly empty pit and Will's continued frustration with it. The reason for this is patently obvious: Dysentery have become victims of their own success relative to pit action, and there are only so many people who think they can survive in a Dysentery pit, there being fewer of those at Ralph's on a Thursday than perhaps there might be in other contexts. If I had working joints (or, failing that, two braces equipped), I might have joined in rather than just keeping people from running into poles, but I'm a 6'3", 275-pound behemoth who is not likely to take permanent damage from getting run into by Chris or Crazy Dan, and whose head is far enough off the floor that getting Allen-Chenned by the similarly huge dude in the scally cap is probably not a concern. Dysentery have put up an admirable history of epic pits, but an inevitable effect of that is that people look at the huge and the crazy warming up during their soundcheck, and think to themselves "I have to work tomorrow, do I really want to go to the ER tonight? Better stay at the bar where the chance of getting punched in the head is a little lower." O'B's on a Friday or Saturday night, out.

Dysentery also could concievably have gone on a little longer, but this show, like all good things, had to end, and I made my way out with my jacket stuffed with CDs. I of course then immediately lost all metal points when I did the retarded yuppie remote-unlock-to-find-the-car thing, but's a black car in a dark parking lot full of black cars, what the fuck was I supposed to do? On the way back along the Pike, I again noted the Higgins Armory Museum billboard that I keep forgetting to mention -- "Death Metal Was So 1080s". The confluence of Suffocation on the History Channel plus the Palladium taking over as the extreme metal venue in Massachusetts means a lot of people are going to be going east on the Pike after shows, and a fair chunk of them will point at this billboard and go "dude, that's right, that medieval war museum's in Worcester, we gotta go check that out sometime". Good idea, and it's good to see that our still somewhat marginal subculture has some kind of ripple effect.

Next show is probably next weekend, a black/thrash matinee at the Midway after French class; tonight with Runaway High and the last song or two at Autumn Above's pilot taping gig at the Wonderbar in Allston tomorrow don't count...though you should probably go to AA if you're in Boston and not doing anything between 1 and 4 in the afternoon.

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