Sunday, May 31, 2009

Every Shirt LXIII: Abacinate

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shirt: Abacinate
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2008
provenance: festival/band

Technically, this shirt is festival-sourced, since I got it at NEDF 2008, but it's also band-sourced, since I got it from the band rather than from one of the label vendors. The band themselves were the better of the two non-New England acts that I saw; this year will hopefully involve more -- through the basic means of going to both days and staying more or less the whole time.

Speaking of festivals, my gear-out is basically done for Wacken/Party.San this summer, and as last year, I'm going to be able to lug over small merch for any band who wants their shit given away in Germany. All that remains is to post this where someone's actually going to read it, then actually go to shows in order to pick up any wares I may need to peddle.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Every Shirt LXII: Dissection - Reaper longsleeve

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shirt: Dissection longsleeve
size: XL (EU)
vintage: 2005
provenance: catalog

Ordered at the same time as yesterday's shirt, this one is a little larger, and has the distinction of being the first shirt I wore to Wacken. This turned out to be quite prudent, not having a jacket, as the weather was quite shitty by turns in 2005, and despite my general distaste for long sleeves, being able to pull them down was useful in a few instances.

This was also the only shirt I wore at Wacken 2005, which by the time I got back to the Dresden streetcar system, had me seriously concerned that I was going to get arrested for causing a public disturbance just by sitting there and stinking. Subsequent years have been less vile, but subsequent years also have not included a six-hour inter-city train ride after Hamburg.

Wolves In The Throne Room with A Storm of Light, Krallice, and Phantom Glue [Great Scott, Allston, 5/21/2009]

Being concerned about traffic and stuff from the jam-up the day before going to Thrones, I left straight from work; the drive in was easier, but after that, the combo of the walk down from Cambridge to the Green Line and the actual train over meant that I got over only about 20 minutes before they started letting people in. I hung out, got berated by Aaron for not doing MDF (which I should have, seriously, barring all the Life Crap over the past two weeks; the outdoor stage shots looked awesome), fundamentaly disappointed Robin by passing on Lair of the Minotaur at PA's on Friday (and the hits keep coming; I got to miss Testament on Sunday, then Ravage and Summoning Hate Wednesday, Razormaze Thursday, and Composted and Dysentery Friday as side effects of this stupid move), and generally did my part to gunge up Allston. (Not like it needs the help, but still...)

Soon enough, though, the bands finished soundchecking and the club let the throng -- and yes, it was getting up to legitimate throng levels by this time -- inside. I got a beer or so down, legitimized my cyberstolen copy of Two Hunters, picked up a tourshirt, and got in position for the first band.

Phantom Glue [5/7]
Bù xi hùan
Ma tse dùin
Ok, that's a little brutal, a bad transliteration, and not even a legitimate Chinese poetic form, but it's the sort of thing that comes up when a band overstays its welcome, you're on the clock, and also a couple beers in the hole. The music was decent, if a complete and total Mastodon clone (see doggerel couplet above) and ill-matched to the rest of the bill, but this ended up with a lower score on the initial take than recorded here due to the band playing too long. Both too long for the content of the music offered, and over their actual allotted time -- this is the on-the-clock aspect that will become important later.

This band may also merit looking askance at because they set their drummer's kit up front rather than in the back, but she didn't sing, introduce the songs, or even count off all that much. This may be her band, but if so, drop the change on a Phil Collins headset and lead the band, so you don't come off as HAY GUISE WE HAZ A CHIXOR IN TEH BAND WE CAN HAZ FANS NAO PLZ.

Krallice [7/7]
First take: Colin Marsden's in this band and not playing bass? What the hell? Second take: a band in which Colin isn't needed on bass is going to be pretty damn cool. And so it was; as anticipated by the Krallice record I picked up at Dysrhythmia, this was an epic set of musically involved but still fundamentally harsh black metal that fit with the headliners hand in glove. By this time, the show was about sold out, and if the bulk of the sell was hipsters for the headliners (which it wasn't really, looking back), we also got this set as a less-expected bonus, and a continuing reminder of the soul of black metal.

Afterwards, I picked up a shirt and continued my string of project leading by not buying Marsden band records from the Marsden band actually on the present show. This meant a death-metal record from the bassist and drummer's other project rather than the other options; I can wait till Arctopus comes around to pick up the new Dysrhythmia, and the circle will be complete.

A Storm of Light [6/7]
As discussed in other outlets, this band includes a member of Neurosis only under one of the looser constructions of "member of band"; Neurosis' live visuals dude plays the guitar in ASoL, but also brought his video compositional skills to the table in delivering an impressive multimedia experience in which the music was the most significant, though by no means the sole salient, part. Said music was black-tinged doom (again, in the line of Neurosis), fitting well into the bill but also presenting some stylistic difference; they'd likely have done just as well the night before with Thrones, but the Middle East upstairs doesn't really have the equipment or environment to support what they were doing over top of the music.

At this point, I moved back in the venue. The setlist over the bar had Wolves playing 11:45-12:45, but this was already runing late. I was hoping to see at least one song, but had a hard limit in terms of the last train back, which was going to show up across from the venue around 12:20. So I moved back, so that I could stay around as long as possible and get out as quick as possible, with the smallest possible disturbance.

Minutes ticked by, and the clock moved past midnight. At about 10 past, Wolves In The Throne Room started up.

Wolves In The Throne Room [NR]
I hate giving NR instead of scores. What I hate more, though, is leaving shows six minutes into the headliner's set to avoid being stranded. Bogus. Wolves, though, were dead-on in the limited time that I saw them, decidedly on-course to top the bands that had gone on previously and give those who had gotten into this sold-out gig something to lord it over their friends about. Unfortunately, I can't put a score to this feeling with any kind of pretense at objectivity or accuracy, because I walked out the goddamn door halfway through their first song.

I did make that last train, but barely; had I bit the bullet and parked in the area, I could have saved 4 bucks in trains and 6 in parking, exactly enough to pay the inevitable $10 ticket from the BPD for parking illegally. A wash? Maybe not, maybe so.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Every Shirt LXI: Dark Tranquillity - Damage Done

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shirt: Dark Tranquillity - Damage Done
size: XL (EU)
vintage: 2005
provenance: catalog

This shirt is another of those picked up in Germany, but it's from a little earlier in the year than the last mentioned. It also happens to be practically skintight, and is one of the smallest technically-XL shirts in my inventory. It appears in a scurrilious photo from Germany that was deliberately not used as a profile shot here for a reason.

The move is completely done, and I have no class tomorrow, so at long last, the review of the Wolves In The Throne Room show will go up sometime between now and Sunday.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Every Shirt LX: Rumpelstiltskin Grinder

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shirt: Rumpelstiltskin Grinder
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2006
provenance: festival

This shirt was acquired at the Relapse table back at Metalfest 2006, when I still browsed tables other than Oak Knoll and Deepsend -- and, coincidentally, when said tables had records that I was interested in hearing or merch from bands I liked. I still haven't seen this band live, and I still don't have their second album, which I think came out a while ago, but the first is cool enough, and this is a pretty good shirt.

When these guys started to gain notice, there was not really a thrash revival as we understand it today. This, plus the fact that their name and a bunch of their song titles were pretty weird, especially in the context of a band that musically liked Nuclear Assault and DRI a lot, gave rise to the suspicion that this was being done purely for the lulz, which is a bad impression to make as a metal band. Hence the badass chorus, and the back of this shirt: "NO! We're not fucking around!"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Every Shirt LIX: Thrones

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shirt: Thrones
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2009
provenance: band

The last in this three-day burst of shirts from last week, this one comes (despite the absence of any tour dates) from the jaunt that Thrones did in the first half of 2009. The shirts they had back in '02 were debatably cooler, but if I remember correctly, this is markedly less hipster, which, all support-music-not-rumors considerations to the side, is still an important attribute for a metalhead. Also, I was broke in 2002 and not enormously disposed to buy stuff from bands other than Sigh, who were sold out of shirts by the time they got to Boston, so this is kind of a moot point in the last analysis.

I didn't think to ask Joe what the hell the animal head in the center of this shirt was, and even if I had, I would not have done so in order to avoid stamping 'TOOLBAG' indelibly on my forehead. It probably evokes the Thundercats for a lot of people, with other strong indications of a bear (c.f. "Nuts and Berries" and "Oso Malo" from the Sperm Whale collection/LP) or maybe a pig, but also a possibility of an ill-defined lion, which was also a theme of the shirts available seven years ago. Or maybe not; exhausion and drink can do funny things to you, even more so when passed through a time filter deep enough that every single molecule in your body has been replaced.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Every Shirt LVIII: Wolves In The Throne Room

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shirt: Wolves In The Throne Room - Black Cascade tour
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2009
provenance: band

As the tour info and year indicate, this shirt is from me not seeing the band at Great Scott during Laugh At K. Because He Is Moving Apartments During MDF Run-Up Week '09, which is described in a review that is still not typed in yet. I'm pretty sure I like the old logo better, but since this is not really a band that tours a lot, I felt I kind of had to get something with the date that I was at on it. This turned out to be prescient, as the band got stuck in Providence and didn't end up playing the third of their New England dates, which I was considering driving down to as a make-up for this one.

Said review will be entered as soon as my brother and I finish cleaning up our old apartment to hand it back over, as at that point I'll get back home in a state other than 'dead'; posting during the day is of course impossible because my boss is on vacation this week and my workload is effectively doubled. Depending on how the managerial situation gets straightened out, there may be some handwringing about Celtic (regrettably, only runners-up in the world's-tallest-midget competition that is the SPL this year) as well.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Every Shirt LVII: Krallice

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shirt: Krallice
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2009
provenance: band

This one comes from the band's gig with Wolves In The Throne Room (review forthcoming, I swear, probably tonight) last week in Allston. This set would probably have been one of the highlights of the night regardless, but for me it turned out to be the top highlight, period, because I hate driving in Boston and the T hates operating trains much past midnight, because apparently a lot of their trolleys turn into pumpkins or something after that point.

Wacken has their running order out, but not with actual times yet. This is bogus, but notionally there aren't that many conflicts, and as the date approaches, this should get filled in.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Every Shirt LVI: Hypocrisy - Virus

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shirt: Hypocrisy - Virus
size: 2XL (EU)
vintage: 2005
provenance: catalog

Ordered in Germany and brought back over, there's a lot of wear on this shirt, but it's a firm indicator of just how much use it's seen. It's cut decently big, which helps, but most of the reason is that it's a Hypocrisy shirt, and Hypocrisy is awesome, and the front graphic is a very good translation of probably their most balls-out cover since The Fourth Dimension. The interior art on Abducted is still better, but the front cover, maybe not so much.

Every Shirt LV: Krisium - Assassination

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shirt: Krisiun - AssassiNation
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2006
provenance: band

This one was picked up the first time I saw Krisiun, supporting Morbid Angel at the first big show I went to after getting back from Germany. It's seen a fair bit of service, but as far as the design goes, I think I prefer the Southern Storm one that I got this March when they came around with Destruction.

This shirt is from Saturday, but is up late because one of my friends got married last night and I then had to finish up moving today. The WITTR show review is done on paper and will also get posted in time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Every Shirt LIV: Decrepit Birth - Diminishing Between Worlds

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shirt: Decrepit Birth - Diminishing Between Worlds
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2008
provenance: band

This one dates back to just about the first show of '08, or at least the first major one; they opened up for BDM on a bill that, at least per my excessively undergroundized perspective, seemed to be playing in reverse. I'm not sure if they had the record that this design is from at that gig yet, or if I legitimized my internet copy later, but I do recall that Bill was kinda confused at some points of the process that resulted in the shirt purchase. I stuck on, though, and made sure I only got back the change I was due; bands can get bent around however they like, but it's up to us to be conscientious when this might interfere with them getting the props and/or business that they deserve.

Of course, he might just be bad at math...but then again, even a singer in Decrepit Birth will probably get acquainted with various ways to split up 13- and 17-counts into 4/4, and with messing with how numbers fit together.

Every Shirt LIII: Dismal Lapse

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shirt: Dismal Lapse
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2008
provenance: band

Picked up on their tour with Embryonic Devourment in early '08 (Insidious Decrepancy was supposed to be in the package as well, but the dude packed it in and went home before they got to Boston), this is a cool shirt from a cool band, even though at the time it was easily overshadowed by Embryonic's merch, which will come along later.

The band didn't have the EP that this design is the cover to out at the time, but based on their solid performance, I made a point to pick it up. Any death metal fans out there who don't have it should do likewise: another strong argument in favor of buying any random Deepsend release ahead of anything on another label of similar size. All small labels have good bands, but Deepsend, it seems, actively restricts their roster to the completely awesome. It's a good move: not only does it bolster profits (more stuff from good bands sells than from stuff people don't like), but building this kind of identity is a definite boost to any band that gets on the label, because if Deepsend signs them, they must be worth listening to.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thrones with Ehnahre, Summerduck, and Spacetrain [Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, 5/20/2009]

After actually moving stuff, I managed to get my act together in time to burn down 128, get stuck in the current terminal neckdown of 93 as the government wisely fixes the existing roads with their stimulus money instead of building new ones, but makes up for it with extra stupidity in closing them when people need to drive on them, and get to the venue a little before doors. Of course, this is aided and abetted by the Middle East being right next door to the lot I use; WITTR tonight will involve going straight from work despite the similar 9pm start.

Spacetrain [4.5/7]
"A hardcore band's rhythm section playing Sabbath covers" is probably too succinct and unfair, but it's close enough; this combo of bass and drums did a decent set of Sabbathy groove material, but even as a bassist myself, there's only so much that you can do with this set of instruments and this general style. If they added guitars, they'd just be another loud doom band, but at least at this point, they aren't really getting out of being a loud doom band by not having a guitarist.

Summerduck [5/7]
The flyers billed them as "slow and loud", which they definitely fulfilled; the least metal of the bands on this gig, they had a more indie-doom sound, like you might get from the Mountain Goats if John Darnielle had spent more of his formative years listening to Neurosis and Motorhead and less to Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. Good stuff, thick, stone-heavy, and packing a fair amount of dissonance.

Ehnahre [6/7]
They've slimmed down as a band since the last time I saw them (admittedly, like a year and a half ago), and without their former trumpeter, their sound is significantly more grind than doom; it's a pretty even trade overall, and it fit in better in this context, giving a nice shot of fast aggression and about the only guttural vocals of the night right in the middle of the bill. Their set ended, at least from my perspective, a little abruptly; maybe this is expectations versus constant set times, but this was a cool set that could definitely have gone on a couple more songs without anyone minding.

Thrones [7/7]
Since Joe had disagreed with me about how good his performance was with Sigh here back in '02 (in the course of which conversation I stuck to my guns, but made an ass of myself in other ways, doubtless), I was looking forward to a performance of equal or greater magnitude. We got it; this was less raw and aurally vicious than back then, but the overall effect (as well as the material selection) was comparable. I can't really compare this to someone into noisy music seeing Thrones flat cold and unsuspecting, but it was a killer set all the same, and should have gone on substantially longer than it did. Blame that on Boston; Joe turned the set over to feedback right at 12:15 and hied himself to his merch table, knowing that the club was going to turn the lights on and start chucking people. Boo curfews, moar Thrones.

Next gig is of course Wolves In The Throne Room at Great Scott tonight; in addition to the handful of CDs that I got from the bands here, I also came away still pretty sure that I didn't see Converge on that Sigh date. For one thing, even in 2002 there's no way they would have gone on before Warhorse, and for another, the dude that Ben and I left in charge of WBOR while we drove down was about the world's biggest Converge fan, and would definitely have killed us if we'd seen them while he was doing my show.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Every Shirt LII: Withered (red)

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shirt: Withered - red Memento Mori
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2006
provenance: band

I got this shirt when I saw these guys open for Grave, Vital Remains, and Dismember back in the fall of '06. The main driver was their performance at Metalfest that year; though they were pretty good on this gig, they were definitely overshadowed by the rest of the bill. Also, it's a red shirt; how the hell many of those are there out there? All I need to do is stay way the hell away from William Shatner while wearing it, and I should be fine.

In other news, Ramming Speed is now on Candlelight. So I have an extended reprieve to continue being lazy and not publishing the writeup I did of Brainwreck before it gets re-pressed for all territories. In the last three months, this is now three Boston-area bands whose names start with the letter R getting signed to relatively major labels. Who's next? Razormaze? Rampant Decay? Rohirrim? Will bands whose names start with other letters start getting Scooby-Doo to write up their press packs? The world waits rapt.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Every Shirt LI: Iron Maiden - Powerslave

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shirt: Iron Maiden - Powerslave
size: XL (EU)
vintage: 2006
provenance: catalog

This shirt was in with the Nuclear Blast order that I did after getting back to the US, along with several others. It was probably the least necessary of them, as I eventually ended up getting a slightly revised version of this cover off their '08 tour, but I had no way of knowing that at the time. More importantly, Powerslave was the first Iron Maiden record I ever owned, and is still up there with Number of the Beast, Brave New World, and No Prayer For The Dying among personal favorites. (Hey, I did say personal favorites.)

This is a bad week to be moving. I missed both Sayyadina and Pigsty/Jig-Ai last night due to being sick, then Misery Index tonight due to catching up on moving shit. If I move quick like a bunny rabbit, I'll be able to catch Thrones tomorrow and hopefully Wolves In The Throne Room Thursday, but then have to lug junk around again on Friday instead of going to Lair of the Minotaur. Moving sucks balls, but especially in the Northeast the week leading up to MDF.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Every Shirt L: Celtic Frost

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shirt: Celtic Frost - Monotheist
size: 2XL (US)
vintage: 2006
provenance: band

A rather simple and stripped-down design featuring the album graphic on the front and the tour dates on the back, this one was picked up at the Worcester stop on their latest tour, along with the patch that I probably complain the most about on my main jacket. It's ok to just silkscreen your logo onto a roughly-cut piece of denim; a lot of DIY bands do it, and I have a lot of these patches on my rig. What they don't do, and what's not ok, is to charge $5 for it. If you want to ask real money, you make a patch with real production value.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Every Shirt XLIX: Atheist

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shirt: Atheist - Roger Patterson memorial/reunion tour
size: XL (EU)
vintage: 2006
provenance: festival

This is one of my favorite shirts, not because it's excessively comfy (it's small, and cut ridiculously short even with less gut than I have today), but because it memorializes a great musician, one of my favorite bands, and probably the best single musical performance that I've ever seen, in metal or outside.

The shirt dates from the 2006 W:O:A; I remember precisely which merch stand I got it from, what side it was on, the difficulty making myself understood over the first bands' soundcheck. This may be due to it being early in the day and in advance of nearly all the beer, but I also remember nearly every moment of Atheist's set, which I spent pounded up against the front rail, head practically in the speakers, because when a truly great band gets back together, you do what you have to to get the most out of them, and make the sacrifices that you need to make. There are other Wacken highlights -- snorting fire and thrashing in the bar for Dissection and Kreator in '05, adventures with Mudman in '07, the epic nine-hour railstand of '08 for Hatebreed/Carcass/ATG/Kreator, various infield bar escapades and howling at the moon in the campground -- but Atheist, from where I saw them, was by far the best of these, the highest high, one of those special stars-align moments that really makes you remember why you love this kind of music so much. When I put this shirt on, I think back to it, and that's enough to make it a permanent fave.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Every Shirt XLVIII: Insomnium

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shirt: Insomnium - Above The Waking World
size: 2XL (US)
vintage: 2007
provenance: band

Despite the additional modifier above, this is still my only Insomnium shirt, acquired on to date their only US run, supporting the album this one is based on and also Katatonia. Of course, it hopefully won't stay that way; they promised to be back again, and hopefully, as demanded then, they'll headline.

Most of the folks there probably hadn't heard much from the band previously; I had, but I forget whether first from their actual promos/records or via Alex "Warheart" Otto (Words of Farewell). What the hell ever; it's an open question, and close enough that I can plug his band without being completely conspic......damnit.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Every Shirt XLVII: Nachtmystium

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shirt: Nachtmystium
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2007
provenance: band

Odds are that I picked this one up at the Middle East after seeing this band in support of Watain, which was perhaps the most epic non-festival performance of that year. However, I also saw them a couple other times, on Metalfest and also at Mark's supporting 1349. Regardless, this is a pretty killer shirt design, perhaps more TRVE KVLT BLACK METAL than the band's occasional detours into black'n'roll and psychedelia may strictly warrant.

There was a mild kickup around the end of last year about them being potentially NS -- they aren't -- but even if they were, I wouldn't delist or destroy this shirt, as the one actual NSBM shirt in my collection will demonstrate, whenever the hell I get that far down in the pile for it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Every Shirt XLVI: The Haunted

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shirt: The Haunted
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2001
provenance: catalog

Picked up at the same time as a bunch of other shirts, this one has been around since college, and I actually wore it out to Metalfest '03, which was the first time I saw the band. I'm still not sure that this wasn't also the best performance I've seen from them; Dolving is a stellar vocalist and a better frontman, but for some reason I just like Marco's style and delivery more. This also remains the only Haunted shirt in inventory, despite seeing them several times since; for that I'm not sure that I have a clear answer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Every Shirt XLV: Amon Amarth

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shirt: Amon Amarth - With Oden On Our Side
size: 2XL (US)
vintage: 2006
provenance: band

This one was picked up at their gig in December '06 supporting Bodom, which was the first time I'd seen them indoors, and the second overall. This was also the last time that they had a supporting slot on a US tour; they've been back twice since headlining, and if things hold true to form, they'll be back again headlining sometime this year. However, it's a cert that I'm going to see them again before the year's out, regardless; outdoors....and with the Jomsvikings.


Soon enough, I'm going to be done moving into my new place and able to mass out my gear for this summer. As with last year, it's highly likely that I'm going to have a significant amount of space in my gear for small merch to promote bands; we'll see how much gets dumped on me between then and the end of July to actually have to transport over.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Every Shirt XLIV: God Forbid

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shirt: God Forbid - The Real Black Metal
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2007
provenance: band

This is the shirt mentioned earlier that would bear on why God Forbid is worth defending. Unfortunately, the reason is the back design, which does not show up well in this format; this is the moderately famous "Real Black Metal" tour shirt, with, as you can see, Africa behind a Dimmu-style pentagram on the front, and the band members' heads shopped over black metallers' bodies on the back, complete with warnames (Byron = Negrodamus, Dallas = General Zod, John =, etc). It's not just mocking black metal, it's also taking the piss out of themselves, and the idea that they merit special treatment as "black" metal.

What's more interesting is that on Earthblood, there are a lot of sections that show strong influence from the Norwegian second wave. So, oddly enough, God Forbid is now more black metal than they've likely ever been before, though Dallas' defection makes them, by the standards of this shirt, only 50% black metal by volume.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Every Shirt XLIII: St. Pauli

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shirt: FC St. Pauli "zweitklassig"
size: 2XL (EU)
vintage: 2007
provenance: catalog

This shirt is rather easily dated to 2007, from Metaltix, and probably in the same order as my '08 Wacken ticket and other assorted junk. It is not technically from a metal band, but an absurdly cult (though decidedly not kvlt) German fitba club. A quick look at the history of FC St. Pauli will attest as to why this one is mixed in with the metal shirts rather than sequestered out with the shirts from less-political and less-confrontational American sports teams (I own zero non-match-ready Celtic shirts, hence their absence; also, lack of Celtic shirts -- due to deliberate action by the club -- bearing the word "Fenians" or positive references to certain three-letter nationalist groups).

The German legend below the club crest reads "we are second-class". This is a humorous reference to the fact that a lot of the rest of Hamburg sees many St. Pauli fans as second-class citizens, and that they had finally, at the end of the '06-'07 season, got back into the second division (stretching it, but kind of like the D1 Championship relative to the FBS (bowl-eligible level) in US college football) of the national league after several years in the regional leagues.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

NEMHF 2009 - day 2 [Worcester Palladium, 4/18/2009]

And now, the second part of the NEMHF 2009 report.

Don't Actually Go To The Festival Day

The number of bands I was actually interested in on the second day of this year's fest was somewhat restricted; nevertheless, I still saw a bunch, on the idea that you never discover a good band when you skip their set because you think they suck. It didn't exactly work out that way, but it was an entertaining time and I got more value out of my second-day ticket.

Unholy [4/7]
I heard this band as I was doing my last merch run; decent, but not superlative hardcore that may grade out higher for genre fans -- and lower for those into the Finnish doom band of the same name, especially if they think bands should do more research before picking a fairly generic name.

Book of Black Earth [5.5/7]
I wasn't super impressed with them when I saw them supporting Watain, or with their record, but glad I went downstairs for them here. This was a good set with a frickin huge sound, showing the band moving in the direction of Nachtmystium....or Doomriders on a huge Satyricon kick. Some people may bitch about the future of black metal, but no band is responsible for who they influence, and these guys are still playing good music.

After dropping my stuff at the hotel, I ran into them coming the other way and gave some appreesh; they probably thought it was insincere given the circumstances, but it was fully meant, and yes, I did see them. I got back in, after getting lunch off the eats truck, a little earlier than intended, and found the running order in disarray. Oh well; better to stick, though, from now on.

The Ghost Inside [5.5/7]
This band put up some nice SoCal hardcore, with a solid performance, but didn't really break free of the mold at any point. The floor liked them enough to pile up at several points, which is a distinguishing mark of good HC; though I prefer a little harder, this was still a good time.

Suicide Silence [5/7]
A surprise add, but nothing surprising or particularly novel in the set. It seriously felt like each breakdown was preciselt the same as the one before, which kind of befits this band as the ne plus ultra of their style. They're closer to death metal than their imitators, but the new song, not so much; decidedly weaker in comparison to the rest of their material.

If you were here and thought some mainstage band's sound was fucked up, it was probably the drum micing. The cymbals were all but gone for Suicide Silence's set, and subjects of extensive hotfixing throughout Thy Will Be Done.

Thy Will Be Done [5/7]
The new material they rolled out here sounds pretty much exactly the same as the old stuff; well, old for this name, not going back to when they were Kobalt or anything. This was a decent metalcore performance, but it's bands like this that really make you glad of the short setlists rather than cursing them.

Back en route to the head and the bar area, I saw Doc (God Forbid) joking with a female friend, telling her he was going to get her tossed for stalking him or the suchlike. This is the cool fan-participation part of the fest; in addition to this and the BoBE encounter above, I saw members of Suffocation and Withered in the audience on Friday, just thrashing out and hanging around like anyone else. We are they and they am us.

In addition to Metalfest at the Palladium, this was also the first of a two-date stand by the current incarnation of the Grateful Dead at the hockey arena down the street, and as a result the hippies were out in full force. I got solicited like twice to buy the Bhagavad-Gita by some epically confused Krishnas -- what part of "No Jesus, No Beast" do they think doesn't also apply to their fairytales? Ok, maybe they just don't listen to Immolation, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't.

Iwrestledabearonce [4.5/7]
If this band is serious, their level of success is a biting indictment of a certain segment of the underground. If, however, they're not, and are subtly trolling the world of Myspacecore, they are the best troll band since Composted, and a lot of dudes are going to be stammering declamations that they knew it was a gag all along. Maybe they are for srs, but coming out jamming to "Final Countdown" with your singer in a Furby costume kind of argues against that. There was some irony in these guys following Thy Will Be Done; the sound in their riff portions was often similar, whether for the lulz or not. We'll see how they go; not really sure they're good enough to pay attention to without the gag portion.

Austrian Death Machine [5/7]
If these guys were serious, we would be right fucked. Fortunately, though, this outfit is a supergroup built out of a piss-take project from the singer of As I Lay Dying (or "As I Lay Crying", as "Ahnold" apparently says on their record, which is probably more apt), and even if the music is pretty pedestrian and the gags not as funny as Composted, it's certainly better than the alternative.

Tim (AILC -- okay, AILD) commented that they hadn't rehearsed at all going into this show, and it showed; Ken Susi spent the entire set with his axe at his waist rather than behind his head. Alternately, maybe he woodshedded his parts solo and re-learned how to play in a more normal position so as not to take attention away from the dude in the Governator kigurumi. (Warning: link unrelated and not safe for sanity.)

All Shall Perish [5.5/7]
If they'd gone on longer, this might bump up higher, but that's the breaks at this festival. Here, just full-on brutal HC/metalcore, but when this style makes you go "already?" instead of "finally!" when they announce that they're closing up, you know they're doing something right. Yeah, "Hatebreed Junior" maybe, but Hatebreed isn't playing this year.

Winds of Plague [5/7]
Though this deathcore band wears their death metal influences on their sleeves (viz prominent Morbid Angel and Nile quotes in this set), they were never really able to generate separation for themselves as a band. The sound may have had something to do with it -- not cutting as strong as on the bands preceding and following -- but the responsibility's got to come back to the music, in the end, to overcome the PA and present the band as worth paying attention to.

An egregious pick point about this band, because I am a wicked language nerd. They are apparently weeaboos, as they have samurais and Japanese characters all over their shit. Despite this, they insist on transcribing their name into kanji not as [Winds of Plague], but [Wind] [of] [Plague]. To paraphrase Morbo, JAPANESE DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT. So, instead of "Winds of Plague", Aggressive Dogs, for example (also on this fest, but I didn't realize it until after their set), would read "Plague of Winds"....and probably laugh at them, which is about deserved.

Emmure [4/7]
No Hatebreed allusions on this band; Hatebreed is more interesting than this and not as clunky. You can't question the CTHC commitment in wearing a hoodie in the freaking sauna that was the downstairs at this point, as the singer did for about three-quarters of their set, but commitment on its own does not write interesting music.

Municipal Waste [7/7]
There wasn't to this point, a single set that on its own would stand above the rest and justify the $80 ticket. This was it: Municipal Waste killing it while dressed as hippies (purchased from the fan faire surrounding the Grateful Dead caravan) and staying in character between songs, Tony climbing on top of a speaker stack and stripping to his underwear, then yanking it up into his crack and dancing around to "Bangover". This bout of comic insanity shows why the Waste continue to be originators, not imitators, and the rock-solid musical performance paints them as a true crossover band rather than merely revivalists. If you missed this set, you missed Day 2.

God Forbid [6.5/7]
They finally have a new goddamned record out, and for a shortish set, this was a hell of an intro to it. Dallas was out (probably for good and allegedly as a result of some epically failing internet drama), but ably subbed for by Kris from Darkest Hour, and the rest of the band continued at the expected high level of a solid performance of the first order. Yes, it probably wasn't abstractly better than some of the other hardcore/metalcore sets here, but I'm a fan, and beyond that, God Forbid has survived into the age of Suicide Silence and Job For A Cowboy for a reason. I like this band, but even at an intellectual distance, they did a hell of a set here that ought to go a significant way towards confirming their cred with other people.

Children of Bodom [6/7]
Again, too fucking short of a set, and there were some phasing problems between Alexi and Janne (likely, blame the PA again, as ever in this building), but at least they kept mostly good songs in. This needs some clarification -- mostly good songs from the perspective of someone who still likes the band, but somehow has continually avoided owning anything later than Hatebreeder. Metalfest strikes again -- more on-the-same-page-ness and another half hour of time would have been fucking balls.

At this point, it's reasonable to note that I bailed, each night, with two bands including the nominal headliner remaining, and have spent much of these last two posts bitching about short set times and the multiplicity of bands that suck; bearing these factors in mind, it's fair to ask why I still go to this fest, when MDF is only marginally more expensive and more requiring of time off from work. I have problems with this too, sometimes, but the final answer seems to be that I am a New England metalhead, and this is my festival too. Yes, NEDF is more 'ours', but that doesn't make this fest any less so. I wish that the bands were better, or that there were fewer of them (and better, obviously), that this was outdoors with a $30 camping fee instead of indoors with a godawful hotel bill, that the organizers would make an effort to keep the schedule on schedule, or to notify people when and how it gets fucked up, but when all is said and done, Scott et al do a decent enough job of bringing in bands from all over, and manage to make money off it in the bargain, which ensures that this fest, as with any fest, can continue.

This is not, as they hype themselves, the best metalfest in the world; it's not even the best of its type, as With Full Force is in every way a functioning superset of this festival, plus all of the enhancements wished for above, but it remains the best multi-spectrum metalfest in the US. Someday, MDF or maybe NEDF will move outside and displace it as the best unilaterally; Built To Last is already better among hardcore/punk fests indoors. Until then, though, NEMHF will remain in its place of preeminence, and I will probably keep going...and as befits people in my demographic, the old dudes in kuttes who automatically reject anything that doesn't sound like Kreator, probably keep grousing about it.

Status update, because I forgot to do it before:
Total points Friday: 74.5
Average Friday: 5.32
Total points Saturday: 68.5
Average Saturday: 5.27
Festival total average: 5.3

Again, if you skip the bands that you don't like and the ones you do don't get jobbed, this is actually a pretty decent festival...but now that MDF has announced that their mainstage is going to be outside, I'm bummed that I didn't give this a pass and go down for that one. Of course, I've got to move apartments this month and I think my buddy's getting married that weekend, so I wouldn't be able to go anyway, but still. The only caution is that once you go to one of these, you're going to turn into an insufferable git like me who has problems associating 'festival' with anything that isn't also 'open-air'.

NEMHF 2009 - day 1 [Worcester Palladium and Chasers, Worcester, 4/17/2009]

The wait of the better part of a month is over; below follows the first part of this year's NEMHF report. The second will follow when I finish transcribing it.

Good Bands Day

Friday at the NEMHF distinguished itself this year by packing in nearly every band playing the festival that I was interested in seeing. Yes, this meant that I effectively paid 34 bucks to see God Forbid, Municipal Waste, and Book of Black Earth on Sunday, but the organizers do a good job in salting good bands from both metal and, presumably, hardcore into both days so that people with wide interests have to bitch, bite the bullet, and see both days.

I went over shortly after doors opened, because I wanted to be sure that I caught Psycroptic; there was still a huge lineup going all the way down the block to Chasers (site of the third stage, new this year and a pretty good idea), but it was processed quickly, and in no time I was up past where Frank, Terrance, and Derek from Suffocation were standing around hanging out (you really forget how short most of these guys are, especially Frank and Terrance, when they're up on stage playing monstrous skull-destroying death metal), past the people passing out free Monster energy shots (no thanks, I can drink Jaeger and listen to Exodus), and through the rigamarole into the venue.

After a quick swing through the merch area, not buying anything yet, I went down front, onto the rail, and just in bloody time, because, as usual, the schedule had gotten fucked up and the first goddamned band on the schedule had missed their slot. Instead of low-expectationscore, I got....

Psycroptic [6/7]
This set was too short, and too early in the day. Nevertheless, the band crushed, and I got to see them from nearly contact range. They certainly didn't feel like it was barely past noon, and a fair amount of the energy from the stage made it out into the audience as well. The tour that they're currently on has them well-matched as support for Suffocation, with their marginally more technical and correspondingly less slammy take on brutal death, but the organizers did the band -- and New England death fans -- a disservice by putting them on so far in advance of their package's headliners. Everyone actually in the building dug the hell out of them, and the sound was good for them, unlike the last Aussie band to practically open the fest, but the floor wasn't full here, and they deserved better than that.

xThe Warx [4/7]
I did my serious merch run after this, and this band, a hardcore act from I think Jersey, were playing while I spent way too much money at the Deepsend and Oak Knoll tables and snubbed the major labels like some kvlter-than-thou twit in a ridiculous jacket covered in I-go-to-German-metal-fests-and-you-don't patches. OH WAIT.
The music was decent, pretty well-executed but not world-shaking, and even if I have a hard time sometimes understanding why people make this kind of brutal HC their primary listening interest, it wasn't actively bad.

After cairning the morning's CDs back at my hotel, I came back in time for...

Withered [6/7]
Though this set lacked the bizarre mystical overtones and undertones of the first time I saw them (downstairs in this building), it was probably the best set I've seen from them since. This was raw, kvlt, black-doom at about its best; the last record wasn't super inspiring, but maybe I've got to go back and take another run or so through it. Hella good, though one of the few spots of this kind of music at a metalfest that can really be 90% described as "Shadows Fall with some really big error bars". If you missed this, BoBE on Sunday, and Shroud of Bereavement, you saw pretty much zero of the fest's even peripherally doomish music.

I got interrupted during this band by a call from work that I only even caught by accident. People from my work occasionally bitch about getting called on vacation, but this is because they make themselves somewhat available; when I'm on vacation, I'm pretty much dead unreachable and in some cases may not be in a fit condition to give a coherent answer. This was lucky: I felt the phone ring, I could walk outside, and I wasn't drunk at the time. At Wacken or Party.San this summer, or if I'm in the middle of paddling across the Oresund, this may not be the case.

Burning Human [5/7]
This band provided some pretty good deathcore, all things considered, though I can't say that I was that pumped up about the singer's constant exhortations to "go make some enemies". That's like, the opposite of what pits are or should be about: the facility to absolutely burn out all your aggression in a context where that's accepted, so that if you punch your friend in the face, he'll still get the next round at the bar, or if you clip a total stranger, they won't follow you out to the parking lot and pull out a bicycle chain. Battle without casualties or consequences, as long as you're sozial about it.

Trap Them [6/7]
I'd been meaning to see this band for a while, and even in this experience, wedged way at the back, the payoff was worth the wait. Complete badass grind like a brick to the face, exactly the kind of music you want to see upstairs at this fest, but apparently the packed crowd wasn't being brutal enough, as the singer kept cussing the front out for not moving enough. Maybe it's just the audience; I'll stay on the lookout for these guys at the Midway or the Democracy Center....and be sure to pick up a second knee brace before going down.

Here I went downstairs to be sure to catch Toxic Holocaust, though I really shouldn't've, because in the process I ended up missing Decrepit Birth for After the Burial, which is the kind of thing you do if and only if your purpose in doing so is to be down front for the siqq mosh khed. Seriously, would it kill Scott to set up a whiteboard or two, or failing that, set up a Twitter feed to dump updates into? Either way, dudes would be better appraised of what's going on, and in the second case, we would also have a clear indicator of who needs to get punched in the face.

After The Burial [4/7]
Man, I thought the era of biting Swedecore was over. Apparently not, at least not at this festival. These guys had some nice execution, but pretty much zero originality. Moving a little closer, I was able to count pegs -- these guys were slinging 8-string guitars, but not really using them effectively. Maybe that's where the nu-metal impressions (viz Keith Bergman's "evil jump ropes") in my notes came in.

Toxic Holocaust [6/7]
This is NEMHF, so the organizers can't really bring in Sodom, Sarcofago, or Motorhead; hence these dudes. This was a pretty damn ripping set, likely better than the last time I saw them, despite being downstairs rather than up, and being criminally pinched for time. Fortunately, Toxic Holocaust is a D-thrash band, so when faced with short set times, they just play shit faster to fit songs in, and get debatably better results.

Later on at night, Joel grabbed me and gave props for my Wacken strips -- he's one of the few who has ever noticed them first, or that there's a serious stack going on there. I have no witnesses or recordings, though, so I'm not going to go on some kuttentraeger ego trip bragging about how the main dude of Toxic Holocaust thinks my jacket is awesome. OHWAIT.

Here, I switched buildings in order to catch Shroud of Bereavement over on the third stage, which was in a bar on the other side of the back parking lot. This was a good idea in theory, but the setup inside was kind of fucked. Fortunately, despite the weird staging and the radical differences between their sound and everything else booked into this stage, there were more people in the audience (lead by Juan Untombed/ex-Summoning Hate) than on stage by the time Shroud started.

Shroud of Bereavement [5/7]
There's really only so much that you can do with two songs in 20 minutes, which was going to be a pitfall for this band in this context in any case. The performance was decent, despite some spotty sound from the PA and the complexities of having like eight people, including several new members, on stage with monitors set up for basically a hardcore band; they should have gotten longer -- and will at the Metal Thursday three-year anniversary -- but did well with what they had despite the weird fit. They should have flyered this set during and/or after Withered; eh, c'est la vie.

After this, and of course giving the band appreesh because seriously, were the flatcaps going to cheer for a doom band?, I went back over to the main building and commenced waiting through bands I didn't like in order to see bands I did.

Whitechapel [4/7]
This band, like perhaps too many on this bill, was solid in their execution but actively tiresome to listen to. In the balance, this was pretty average deathcore, but not quite the Whitebeltchapel implications that get tossed around a little too easily.

The Haunted [6/7]
In a sense, they were just going through the motions, probably exacerbated by the restricted set time. This was probably the least good of the times that I've seen the band, but it was still, as evinced, a cool performance; the rest of the band may be in drill-for-half-an-hour-and-go-drink mode, but I'm not sure Peter Dolving even comes with this setting. He was on his game as usual, anti-rockstar rockstar in full cry, and also rolled out a couple bizarre anecdotes of what it's like to be in a band with fans, and how the fans really do keep the bands going. Maybe kinda had to be there.

Autumn Burns Red [4.5/7]
Well, I guess if you can't get In Flames or Killswitch, these guys are next on the central casting list, like how Dolph Lundgren picks up the roles that Arnold tosses back to his agent with only the ejaculation "Schrott!" Moderately formulaic metalcore with melodic leads; if this band did not exist, this festival would spontaneously generate them.

OK, that's not super fair. However, the preponderance of metalcore-nach-deathcore-nach-metalcore on this bill had me seriously questioning, at several points, why I keep coming. I don't mind, and often dig, the actual hardcore bands when they bother to book them, and as a metalhead would prefer a hella lot more real metal, but this puree of genres is something, at least for me, to endure rather than get up for.

The Acacia Strain [5/7]
Gloriously content-free as always, and though they seemed pinched for time, Vincent still got off a few good bon mots. There is nothing to this band but breakdowns, but even at that, they've got some damned good breakdowns.

Napalm Death [6.5/7]
There's an upside to short songs in a setting like this, obviously, as you can pack more of them into the requisite shitty setlength. The smashed though a strong set of both old and new material (not much from the experimental middle period before Nasum held their feet to the fire again), and "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" sounded just about the best I've heard it. Good all around.

Suffocation [6.5/7]
Despite the shorter time, this was a filled-out as well as balls-out set, which saw Frank in a seriously wacky mood ranting between songs, and a fair slice of new material. It sounded, surprise surprise, a lot like a lot of other Suffocation, but just as finished and crushing as the rest of the performance. The new record's not going to be some kind of breakout, but if you dig Suffocation or just love death metal, it'll definitely be worth a spin.

Every Shirt XLII: Tankard - We Still Drink The Old Ways

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shirt: Tankard
size: 2XL (EU)
vintage: 2005
provenance: catalog

Ordered and delivered while I was in Germany, this shirt features a fat ugly cuss with a brimming beer glass on the front, and the slogan in the title on the back: Reinheitsgebot 1516. Pure Tankard, down to the last drop. I have a surprising amount of Tankard gear for someone whose primary residence is in North America, but this is, for the most part, the one that sees the most use.

It's a little odd considering that Tankard, and also many of their fans, are "beer-gut enabled", that their shirts are uniformly cut small. This one is probably the smallest 2X I own that wasn't bought in Asia, and the other two shirts further down in the pile are close-cut as well. Seriously, Gerre should try putting some of his band's merch on sometime.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Every Shirt XLI: W:O:A Black Stage 2005

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shirt: W:O:A 2005 Black Stage "alt" design
size: XL (EU)
vintage: 2005
provenance: festival

This shirt, though there's no explicit indication of the year, is from Wacken '05, where it was an alternate design for the Black Stage, incorporating prominent pentagram and upturned cross elements. This makes it Wicked Metal, and since I also picked up a longsleeve with the full lineup, I didn't feel any pressure to get something from the Black Stage with individual band names (including, that year, Dissection) on it.

Since this was while I was living in Germany, I also got one of these as a souvenir for my brother, so there's at least one more of these in the US; if you spot one on a tall drink of water out in the Pioneer Valley, it's probably him.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Every Shirt XL: Withered

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shirt: Withered
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2008
provenance: band

I had to go back and check; this rather basic shirt comes from the third time I saw this band, in this case opening for Watain at the Middle East. Somehow, this doesn't stick out as much as the other one (forthcoming), which is extremely red and tends to get itself noticed.

The middle-of-the-road aspects of this shirt, in some ways, match that of their last record, though they continue to bring it live. One suspects that, straddling genres as they do, Withered, like God Forbid, is a bulletin board band: that people talk shit about them because they don't fit a particular set of expectations, but they soak it in, and continue to produce excellent music that continues to defy easy classification.

And yes, I did just defend God Forbid. There is a shirt coming up next week, I think, that will make this point clearer.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Every Shirt XXXIX: Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life And Death

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shirt: Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life And Death
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2006
provenance: band

Acquired back on the band's tour on this record, this shirt is pretty much your basic album-cover-front, tour-dates-back experience; a decent shirt, and I'm glad I have it as a piece of personal history, but definitely not worth the $35 that the band was charging for it at the time. No shirt is worth that much, period. As a fraction of cost-of-entry it's a deal relative to other bands, but this is because Iron Maiden charges like $50 for seats and scalpers throw on a 100% premium after the hockey arena sells out in 15 minutes. Stuff like this is why absolute magnitude, not just relative, is still important.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Every Shirt XXXVIII: Samhain

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shirt: Samhain
size: XL (US)
vintage: 1998
provenance: retail

Access to automotive transportation meant one simple thing (ok, many things, but one thing in this context); that I could go out and buy whatever I could afford without having to rely on anyone else, or, as was actually the case, on pinpoint timing, waking up at 5 AM, and having four to six hours to do the there-and-back-again. This shirt comes from the summer in which I finished high school, started working, and started listening to Slayer. At the time, I wasn't strictly qualified to wear it, having only one Danzig record, but the intervening decade or so has kind of taken care of that.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Every Shirt XXXVII: Primordial

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shirt: Primordial
size: XL (EU)
vintage: 2009
provenance: band

Though the shirt is clearly of European origin (you can check the tags for this), this one was picked up on the first date of Primordial's first real US tour, which has been quite a while in coming. The silver print used on this, as well as the other option (which had tour dates on it, but a less compelling front), recalls CNV's recent shirts, which will be gotten to later. Put this up to a harmonic convergence if you like, but the two bands would be really well-matched to tour with each other -- as long as both sides were kept under heavy guard to prevent factional hooliganism. Politically, the two are mirrors set fairly close together, but the whole England-fanboy/Irish-nationalist thing kind of fucks everything up.

It is nowhere stated, but highly likely, that the warrior figure with the oddly-barbed spear on the front of this shirt is Cuchulainn, which may make the "where is the fighting man" quote (excerpted from "Empire Falls") on the back just subtly political, at least for unreconstructed 26+6=1ers like me.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Every Shirt XXXVI: Swashbuckle - Back To The Noose

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shirt: Swashbuckle - Back To The Noose
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2009
provenance: band

Acquired on their first US Paganfest (on this shirt, scribbled out in favor of PIRATEfest) stop, this fairly blinged-out shirt stands in sharp contrast to the white-ink minimalism of the one that I (and seemingly every third metal dude in New England) got a couple years back when they were playing clubs with less total square footage than the stage at the Palladium. It works, though; if piracy's about anything, it's about stealing tons of gold and then blowing it all on ale and whores.

There are a few people with their noses out of joint that this wasn't, top to bottom, as deep and intelligent and spiritual a show as might have been foretokened by the presence of Moonsorrow and Primordial. These people need to face the brutal reality that fun = moshing = ticket sales, and thus promoters are going to do what they need to to make bills commercially viable -- and seriously, it's not like the other bands, or what anyone in the crowd was doing during them, materially affected said heathens, or what anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex took away from them.

changing categories

All of a sudden, the band I have seen most often is no longer a local band. Ok, sure, technically, Revocation is still from Boston, but getting signed to a 'major' is kind of a game changer. This is great news for Dave, Anthony, Phil, and all of us who've supported them, from yesterday all the way back to the Cryptic Warning days -- I wouldn't exactly put myself in that group, as I actually missed the set they did under that name at Sputnix in '02 (way back when the front entrance was still a normal people entrance and bands set up against the back wall), just picked up the demo after.

Sum total, go see them at Church on the 10th if you can, and if not, see them with Quo Vadis and buy their new record, so Relapse will reissue Empire. If/when you get merch options, guys, Empire cover back patch DO WANT -- but as a concession to reality I'll take shirts and rely on my own firm hand with sewing paraphrenalia.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Every Shirt XXXV: Death

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shirt: Death - 100% Pure Organic Metal
size: XL (US)
vintage: 1999
provenance: retail

This shirt was bought at retail probably around the same time as the Emperor shirt from earlier, towards the end of summer 1999. Death was still active at this point, but I missed their final tour; even with HammerFall opening, you go to see epochal bands because you never know when illness (as in this case) or simple insanity (see Dissection) is going to shut down your options.

This shirt also played a weird but yet significant part in my professional development; I did my first CS class in the fall of '99, and wore this shirt in to the first exam. One of the freshmen in the class, out of the blue, started ripping on me for the slogan on the back -- it didn't make sense until I realized that he was nervous and freaking out, and the fact that I wasn't, despite having no prior programming experience (copying programs line-for-line out of the back of C64 magazines doesn't count), indicated that my competence with this shit was not completely illusory. The last decade of my life has pretty much borne out that impression.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Korpiklaani with Primordial, Moonsorrow, Blackguard, and Swashbuckle [Worcester Palladium, 5/1/2009]

Behold the power of the internets; the first proper US tour for any of these bands, and the biggest real-metal room in New England between half and three-quarters full. And worth it; this turned out to be a pretty epic show.

Because I wanted to see Swashbuckle again, and at a range that would matter, I left again directly from work and got in shortly after doors. Because the tour organizers decided to backline everybody (a smart decision that more tourmanagers should look into; it saves gas, space, and time, and virtually eliminates the possibility of shit getting stolen since you can just cycle guitars and cymbals in and out of the green room and have everyone drag their own shit out to the vans/buses at the end), this meant about an hour of downtime before the music actually started. This was enough time to do beer and merch and still get way ahead on the rail, where I hung out, shot the shit with various peeps, and chuckled at the illuminated inflatable palm trees.

Swashbuckle [5.5/7]
This may have been their first time back in New England since that infamous show at O'Brien's; they did a mini-tour with Revocation (at least 2/3 of whom were on hand as guestlist/roadies), but I'm not sure it ran this far north. Nevertheless, they got a nice reception as soon as the board got them properly dialed in, despite being by far the thrashiest band on the bill and debatably the heaviest. The new material is pretty good, and I'm looking forward to their Nuclear Blast debut – fuckin A, doods, right on!

Before the band went on, the security was laughing at their inflatable stage set and mocking as though the band was going to be poncy Jack Sparrow disciples. In the break after them, several of the secus who were ripping on them the most had ordered up to the merch stand for shirts. That's how you define a musical tour-de-force – emphasis on force.

Blackguard [5/7]
Les enfants de Bodom must have been taken. These Canadiens were pretty good, and well-matched to the headliners, but their early-Bodom-following style wasn't the most differentiated in the world; Equilibrium's middle-of-the-road sound without their epically expansive compositions. It was good music, overall, but it ran on for a bit longer than might really have been optimal; nevertheless, they pretty much had to play in this spot based on the structure of the rest of the bill, and competitive pressure from the other bands will push them to improve as this tour goes on.

I got a CD from them, but not a shirt; haven't listened yet, but the cover looks like a reference to La Maudite – and if the record's half as good as MPD's song of the same name, it'll nearly be worth the $20 I dropped on it. Srsly, dudes, this is 2009, you're supposed to sell your CDs cheap at shows and pocket the extra the record store would have made.

Moonsorrow [7/7]
There is something seriously going on with Trollhorn/Henri that he keeps not coming to the US with the bands he's in. First Finntroll, now Moonsorrow; the silver lining in this, though, is that Moonsorrow, like Finntroll, appears to be perfectly capable of knocking out an ace set without him. They only played five songs, and even at that, the set only ran about 45 minutes....which is about half as long as a five-song Moonsorrow set might take in the optimal case. Still: amazing, epic music, the crowd thoroughly into it, a good balance of new material and old, blacker, stuff; not the absolutely optimal set, but fuck was it good.

Primordial [7/7]
My first time seeing this band without dirt under my feet: neither as magical as that first outing in the tentstage in '05, nor as straightforwardly powerful and transformative as this summer on the Party Stage, but still, an eminently worthy Primordial set, covering basically the same core of material that they did the last time I saw them.

Empire Falls
The Golden Spiral
As Rome Burns
The Coffin Ships
Gods To The Godless
Heathen Tribes

Six songs, 45 minutes again; it's how this band rolls, and though this was debatably the third best of the three times that I've seen them, it was still so good as to tremendously overpower nearly all of the people who, due to the band having played exactly one show (last year's Heathen Crusade) in the US before this, had never seen them live. Primordial is a transformative band live or on record, and you do not forget the first time you see them.

Korpiklaani [6.5/7]
Korpiklaani had a tough act to follow, but they followed it up as only they can: by sheer obliviousness, the distinct selling point of their particular brand of deer-camp humppaa metal. It was a fun time, but there was certainly also a certain intellectual disjunct; Primordial leaves throwing up shadows of diaspora, genocide, nationalism, post-nationalism, tribalism, and post-corporatocracy, and then a bunch of Finns start bumping the bass and squeezing an accordion. The new material sounded fine, if completely indistinguishable from their old stuff; "Wodka" is going to be an infield favorite on a par with "Beer Beer" and "Happy Little Boozer", for sure. They also had a couple breaks of pure open-bow Finnish humppaa, which maybe nobody else recognized as such, but people dug all the same. Despite the thick language barrier (vice the singer's impenetrable accent), people certainly got into it; as much dancing as moshing, as odd as it looks and seems. Even up here in New England we aint got nothin agin a good ole-fashion barn dance on a Frid'y night, 'long's it's a band we done importered from Finland up on stage a-sawin th'fiddle.

After a good long show made smoother by the large-scale backlining, the venue eventually put the lights back up and things had to be over. This is going to be one of the standout shows of the year when all is said and done, and if you missed it, especially if you haven't seen Primordial before, those who were there are going to be scoffing at you at some point in this conversation.

Every Shirt XXXIV: Nevermore - This Godless Endeavor

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shirt: Nevermore - This Godless Endeavor
size: XL (EU)
vintage: 2006
provenance: festival

This shirt dates back to Wacken '06, where I picked it up from the merch stand sometime around seeing the band perform just about the best set I've seen from them. (This may be small sample size, but still they rule.) You'd never know from its current condition; through no fault of its own, as this cover is a pretty awesome design, this one percolated down to the bottom of the shirt stack, and by the time that it was pulled out in the setup of this project, had been compacted to a square-folded thickness of less than a quarter inch. If each shirt weighs about .75 pounds, and there are 30 sitting on top of it, well...that'll smash cloth pretty frickin flat.

Nevermore is also playing this year's W:O:A; we'll see if a) they have a new record out or b) if another shirt is in the cards.

Every Shirt XXXIII: Dark Tranquillity - Terminus

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shirt: Dark Tranquillity - Terminus
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2007
provenance: band

I picked this up from the band on their last US tour, in support of Fiction (before said record was out) and of The Haunted. I can't remember a lot about that show; I went essentially right from the airport getting back from Texas out to the gig, and was kind of in a haze; just disconnected bits and pieces. This may have contributed to me not getting the album this shirt is from for a while; the shirt similarly is a bit of a haze, and has languished in the bottom of my shirt pile for a long time.

Review from last night may be up in a bit; no idea when I'm going to finish the Metalfest piece.