One of the signal reasons I like festivals is that I normally have to go to shows by car. Thus, at Wacken, and at NEMHF (except for this year because I dawdled and couldn't get a room at one of the five hotels within walking distance) where I can go to the show on foot, and at NEDF where I have a decent cooling-off period built in, I can drink to levels between "comfort" and "to excess" without endangering anyone but myself on the way back from the stagefront. Since Boston has public transit still running on Saturday nights after this matinee show got out, I could and did similarly go all out, only having to walk about three to five blocks on either side of the rail network. This, along with the fact that there were some seriously good bands on the bill, made this gig pretty awesome.
I got down a little after anticipated start due to some rail delays; I was coming from French class in Kenmore and had to backtrack to Park (because the Green car I picked up wasn't going all the way to GC), then across to Downtown to get the Orange line to JP. However, the Goatfuckers hadn't started yet, so I went to the burrito place next door to get some eats and missed about two songs because they apparently had to raise and slaughter the cow to make the meatballs out of or something.
Unholy Goatfucker [5/7]
As noted, I heard about the first third of their performance through the wall, but what I saw out of them for real was pretty damn good. This band keeps coming in at this score, but this outing here was probably the best I've seen from them, and the way they keep moving from strength to strength leaves you with the impression that they're going to make some major noise outside the area one of these days. There are still a few points of cliche to their sound, but on the whole it's done so well, and it's such a good style, even when it's being derivative, that you can't help but get into it. I should probably stop talking about Obtained Enslavement until I listen to the records from that band that I have again, but if you've discovered bands of that ilk, from the Norway of that time, that largely went undiscovered, you'll discover them again with Unholy Goatfucker and be damned glad of it.
Because I was missing their set, I went right in instead of eating the food I bought, so after finding that the place was still packed to capacity -- that's right, a matinee black metal show in Boston sold out, so keep crying, scene elitists in other places, your tears are a delicious part of our complete breakfasts -- and there wasn't going to be anywhere to unwrap it, I went outside and so missed explicitly getting one of UG's demos. I later found one off the floor, but I'm not sure what kind of condition it's in, so that's something to watch out for next time.
I hadn't heard this band before, and was pleasantly surprised. While they didn't really separate themselves out from their influences, it's definitely not usual to hear a band that inherits half from Cold Northern Vengeance, half from Sigh, and on a song by song basis at that. The combined effect was really cool, and as they move forward, this should lay the groundwork for some really interesting music. As it was, we got a set of Arising Dungeon Cult following mixed with b-sides from Infidel Art, and at least I enjoyed the hell out of it; Vaettir did justice to their influences with good music and good execution, and as they mesh more, this is going to be another must-watch.
I moved around here a bit, partly because the bar area was overly packed, part in order to try and hear a little better; pretty much, it's only the vocals and maybe the drums going through the PA. Guitars and bass just come straight out of the cabs, which saves on micing, but also makes where you stand important depending on the angle that the band has their speakers pointed.
Bog of the Infidel [5/7]
I could sum this band up as "a less creative Bethlehem", but that would give the wrong impression; there's a lot of Bethlehem in Bog's instrumental sound and especially in the singer's screechiness, but if you're not familiar with Bethlehem and particularly with what they've done since S.U.I.Z.I.D., you may not be familiar with exactly how far you can go and still be less creative than Bethlehem. Bog of the Infidel hew more towards the doctrinaire sound from Dark Metal and Dictius Te Necare, but (or, accordingly) put forward some quality black metal. I did get one of their demos, and will be digging it in the next review block; this was a quality set, even if the sound did start a little overdriven for the PA, and it'll be interesting to get another sample from this band to see where they're going and how they develop.
Summoning Hate [6/7]
This band was on the third-from-last show I saw, but there's been some substantial change since; Dave's no longer behind the skins, and the Avilas have recruited Seth (ex-Ascendancy, Hekseri, Herugrim, etc) to pick up from here. Also, the second guitarist cut his hair, so you might forgive the casual observer for thinking that there's been more substantive change than there actually was. This only lasted until the band actually started playing; while this wasn't quite as strong as some of the SH sets I've seen recently, it was still a solid and well-finished outing. Seth's recently taken some heat for his playing allegedly coming apart when the tempos start to increase, but if such happened here, it didn't noticeably hold back the band. The thrash-death break was well received amid the surrounding black metal, and as noted the execution was quite good; we'll have to see, going forward, if they get up to further heights once Seth gets some more practice with the material.
Wow. It's not absolutely certain how much of this is the band leveling up, and how much is ancilliary contribution from the fact that, as alluded to above, I was swilling five-dollar Guinness like water throughout this show, but you can't deny that this was a thoroughly dominating performance. At the start there were some problems with the bass, but these were quickly remedied, and black metal got promptly bent forward and backward all over the damn place. This wasn't a perfect set, but it was so freaking good that I can't really justify giving it a lower mark. We really have an embarrasment of riches in New England when it comes to black metal, and Ipsissimus' complex melodic attack is as much a part of that as Witch Tomb's raw violence and CNV's Thelemic drone. So damn good. If you live between Boston and NYC and haven't see this band, you're doing it wrong.
The Ipsissimus merch table set itself up on the section of bar-cum-divider that I was sitting at before and after Summoning Hate, so I got to talking with Ryan (guitar) about all kinds of stuff, from shows -- the Wolves In The Throne Room gig he's putting up that I may have to knuckle and drive three hours to, and the Walpurgisnacht one he's trying to put up, provided that he doesn't have to beat up the headliners for declining (bands not named here, to avoid shaming them and to maintain the surprise should things go right, because it's a pretty "wow" combo to be able to get for a one-off) -- to headstocks...and how with an older axe with the old super-pointy BC Rich Widow (he had a new seven-string with the short-horned Beast headstock for this gig) he'd once slashed open the singer of Capharnum's hand. This is DIY, and in the course of it, yes, you do learn the weirdest things.
Of course, even at at free-drinking matinee show, things have to close up, as there are "last trains" and such that one has to avoid missing to make this sort of thing work. And so it was that I hit the road, got mostly soberish by the time I got back to North Station, and got processed to head north without incident, either from general aggro or by accident from the hordes of Villanova fans on the way out of the Garden and into the Final Four and the history books. Next gig's out in Worcester for this week's Metal Thursday; on this note, said concert series is continuing to be successful, as Chris is now getting, it seems, every other Thursday rather than just the first and third of every month. More Metal Thursdays mean more guaranteed nights of 20-40 excess patrons drinking and tipping for four hours in Ralph's upstairs; it's a pretty simple calculation for them to continue to allow the ritual to expand until it starts drawing less per night than other uses of the space -- and with Chris continuing to book top-quality bands across a wide variety of metal genres, this isn't going to happen any time soon. Bands don't get overexposed, the series doesn't fall into a rut of just attracting only the same people every time, the potential audience stays large, and with enough ebb and flow that people never feel they have to show up just to support, and Metal Thursday continues to be an artistic and commercial success for everyone involved, which is hellishly rare in the underground, even if 'commercial success' occasionally just means 'not in the red this week'.