Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vuvu-Verbot = Kommerz-Kot

If more proof was needed that Wacken is turning into (or, perhaps, has already become) a complete Kommerz-Fest, one need look no farther than this ban on vuvuzelas. (Yes, it's in German. L2read native language if you're planning on going to this, or any other, festival, which should be the only case in which you should care.)

Vuvus are annoying. Nobody is going to contest this. But the proper metal response is for other metalheads to take the horns off the people blowing them and break them, punching the hornblower in the face if necessary. The risk of getting punched in the face and your plastic trumpet broken should be a sufficient deterrent to keep people from honking on them at night, or during bands, or whatever.

There's a peripheral argument to be made that they'd be unnecessarily annoying to the villagers, but the plain fact is that the year-round population already has to deal with a very large and very loud heavy metal festival all week, and a few plastic horns are not going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back. No, this is just what it appears to be, an unnecessarily intrusive decision that cuts down on DIY expression in favor of a managed corporate experience. This is summer 2010. There's going to be a certain number of idiots with vuvuzelas at bloody well everything for the next several months or so, until it gets old, and a sufficient number of people get punched for it or get their vuvus broken by annoyed people around them. Wacken should not be an exception, and to the extent that this is just being called out for emphasis, vuvus should just be confiscated and junked going into the infield just like, um, pretty much every other single foreign object that somebody might get thwacked with.

The only purpose of this announcement is to hate on people being jerks with plastic doomhorns. And those of us in the Publikum can handle that fine on our own, thanks.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sewer Goddess, Nightbitch, and Nachzehrer (supporting Midnight with CNV, Witch Tomb and Martyrvore also) [Anchors Up, Haverhill, 6/19/2010]

I'd been waiting for this show for quite a while, and by all reports it lived up to its billing for those who stayed for the duration. Unfortunately, much to my chagrin, I had to bail for a decent if ultimately run-of-the-mill party that resulted in a miserable hangover in addition to missing more than half of the bands on the bill.

I got up a bit early despite having to do some other errands on the way, and the gravel lot by the venue was great craic as might be expected, something that continued on throughout the gig because, utterly as expected, cramming 40+ people into Anchors Up on a hot summer night turns the place into a sauna. Much fun was had by all, with the new addition of the wooden fence and gate at the top doubtless contributing. I'll keep an eye peeled for Jesse/Carmine's crew at Wacken this year; it's good to know that even if, as I suspect, this is going to be my last year at that particular fest, there's going to be people from this area carrying the flag forward.

The gig didn't start anywhere nearly as early as planned, but people had a good enough time hanging out waiting for the bands to get in, and Nachzehrer got things rolling soon enough.

Nachzehrer [6/7]
They were a little off the pace from the last time I saw them, but some of that can probably be put off to the PA setup, and the rest down to natural variance. Nachzehrer set out a quality performance of hammering black thrash that provoked the most floor movement of the three bands I was able to stay in for: some of that is that the musical style fits it more naturally, but you also have to credit the band for playing well in that style, and also the singer getting out on the floor (as before, so it's not entirely because of the very limited stage area) and getting things going.

After Nachzehrer closed up, I hit the merch table area to see if I could do some financial-supporting, because I was going to skip out before half the bands on the bill played, likely, and was feeling guilty about it. I picked up some Sewer Goddess and Witch Tomb stuff; nobody else had anything out yet, and I had no idea how I'd managed to not buy Crippled Messiah up to this point. Seriously, I go to enough Witch Tomb (and associated bands) gigs; how did that even happen?

Nightbitch [5.5/7]
I was really interested to see this band, largely because Ryan (aka His Emissary) has a rather distinctive approach to guitar composition that, at least in Ipsissimus, results in an immediately distinct sound....and one that it's difficult to immediately see meshing into a "rock" context. Mesh it did, despite a somewhat weird start that occasionally sounded like Roger Waters fronting a No Prayer For The Dying-era Iron Maiden (seriously, that's what the guitar tone sounded like, though the identification isn't quite as anorakish as it sounds, because I actually like that record and regularly listen to stuff off it). As the set went on, though, the sound got more unified and more rockish, though, as observed elsewhere, anyone using the Motley Crue definition of "sleaze rock" has, to turn a reference appropriately on the band's final song, another thing coming. (No, they did "Never Satisfied", but same band, still counts.) Good stuff, any way you cut it.

It will be interesting to see how this band goes forward, with Ipsissimus coming off hiatus and a "special announcement" in the works that has probably been spoiled for anyone who saw the flyer for that band's gig supporting Destroyer 666 in Providence. I'm not going to add to the spoilage here, just note that anyone, really, should have seen this coming after picking up The Three Secrets of Fatima, and will withhold congratulations until the band makes it official.

In this break, I pawed through a couple distro tables and came up with, among other stuff, a Bestial Mockery record and some tapes from Vault and Revenge, which I need to get a working tape player again in order to use. It's for this reason (and, also, already having the demo on CD) that I didn't get one of Nachzehrer's tapes; also, other people may appreciate having the mag version more than I would, and I owe it to them to give them that chance, in addition to not using the word "Pokemans" in reference to the way they assemble their music collections. Srsly, I buy worn-out Iron Maiden recordings mostly because they say "Harvest" on the back, I'm nobody to judge.

Sewer Goddess [5/7]
I could have cut out before this combo started, but remembering back to January, I was pretty sure that they weren't going to go more than 10 or 20 minutes. Ten minutes was what we got, but it wasn't a completely optimal ten minutes, as I'm sure the band will be the first to agree. The crowd was more up for it than earlier this year; some maybe knowing more what to expect, but others more drawn in by -- at least as I remember by comparison -- a much more accessible set. The hate and spite were still there, but not as much of the deliberately and aggressively unlistenable that is the serious draw to this kind of music. Hence the rating, where the prior performance wasn't; some of this is probably intentional to play this selection in this venue, on this bill, and some of it was probably due to outside factors.
Those there no doubt noticed Paul CNV hopping up on stage at times and communicating with the band, and the negative body language that followed; no bad blood or drama here, though, just the extremely unfortunate reality of the HPD being on the prowl, and the venue ops not wanting their show space closed down. This cut down on, presumably, the selection available as well as the volume: the point of this kind of industrial music is to synthesize something creative and independent out of a lot of very loud and very threatening noises, which happen to be the kind of noises that attract cops, who aren't much for the way of standing still and letting the synthesis form. In a different environment, Sewer Goddess will be less restrained; here, the constraints applied to the sound made it less exhausting, and should have led to a longer set, but that wasn't possible either.

At this point I cut out, missing, regrettably, Martyrvore, Witch Tomb, Cold Northern Vengeance, and Midnight in order to show up at my brother's moving-out party, which ended in the aforementioned miserable hangover (protip: don't pour Irish cream liqueur onto a "base" of cheap industrial-chemicals beer, and especially don't eat uncooked shit ravioli after). Really, really, not sure it was worth it, and I need to make it up to the bands involved at some point in the future. For CNV, the most I can do is a hearty hail; they're leaving for their Euro tour in the near future and won't be getting back till about right when I leave to go over.

I picked up some Darkwor CDs to pass out overseas from the band at this gig; there's still space left, but that as well as time to get stuff into my pack is running short. Next show is Metal Thursday tonight, and after that there will be a calendar of remaining opportunities.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Faces of Bayon with Vaporizer, Wizardry, and Orim [Ralph's, Worcester, 6/17/2010]

I ended up missing out on the moved Eyehategod show on the Tuesday before this, mostly due to work commitments, but also due to a troublesome trend; if you look back at the two previous shows written up here, you'll notice that the dates involved are also the dates on which the Celtics lost in the Finals. Nights on which I had to sit home, they won. I clearly SHOULD have gone down to the Cambridge Elks for that gig, then, because the Celts ended up losing that night (indicating that I wasn't the jinx), and it was by all reports amazing, but I did still have work stuff to deal with that would have made it difficult.

The upshot of all of this is that if the Celtics were still going to fuck it up while I was sitting home, I had no excuse for not going out to a good show and ignoring the basketball. I was going out to this one anyway, but ignoring the game, as well as the buildup via going right from work, turned out to be the adaptive path. The last I saw, the score was in the single digits, and then coming out, I was on a lingering doom metal contact high and not bothered. I got in with decent timing, and it wasn't too long before Orim started things off.

Orim [5/7]
The first of four bands on this bill that I hadn't seen yet, these guys started a little shaky, but solidified, presenting a solid if somewhat derivative set of good old USHM roughly along the lines of Ravage. Orim had a little more in the way of Iron Maiden in the vocals, and a little more reliance on low-ended riffing to set up their songs, but clearly are coming out of the same American tradition, which is cool and more than a little impressive when you consider that the great balance of new ideas in power/traditional metal has been coming out of Europe over the last 15 years. They didn't have anything recorded yet, but will allegedly have a demo out in the near future; something to watch out for, even if only to see how this band, which is either relatively new or has been extremely insular in western MA for the last five years, develops this sound.

Wizardry [5.5/7]
Though these guys have cut down to a power trio from the five-piece listed on their current CD, they haven't cut down the sound much if any; this was a full-throated set of roaring metal building on about equal parts archetypal/stereotypical stoner doom and USHM in the Manowar-inherited-via-Slough-Feg style that (IMNSHO) we don't see enough of in this kind of music. The material, even more than the performance, seemed to get stronger as the set went on, so it's going to be interesting to see how these guys develop, and how they sound on record with the current lineup.

In addition to their self-titled record, I also picked up a bunch of matchbox-sized Wizardry promo cards to take overseas. With a month or so still to go before I ship out, New York is nearly as well represented in the grab bag of stuffs as New England; that's liable to change going forward, though, and it's certainly not like the bands aren't eminently deserving of the exposure.

Vaporizer [7/7]
Wow. Just unreal. To the extent that "doomcore" actually exists, this band are in the first echelon. There was a lot of hardcore in this mind-blowing set, but at least as much doom metal; this may be me just having watched the DVD that came with Deaf To Our Prayers again, but the total experience here was like nothing so much as if Heaven Shall Burn grew up filling their heads with Southern Lord's roster rather than Regain. A complete full immersion of thrashing doom, this also saw the most floor motion of the night; maybe not up to the very high standards of peak Metal Thursday moshing, but this was a doom metal night, and the crowd was both slightly different and less disposed to hit one another than on that'd be in for a more death/thrash/whatevercore bill.

These guys didn't end up having anything recorded available, so I got a shirt instead, and felt bad about the difficulty they went through digging out something in XL. More relevantly, people need to start paying more attention to Vermont, and to do more to bring bands out of there; there's a significant amount of good music, even just going on random gigs from the past year or so, that has developed in relative isolation because the state happens to not be strongly connected to the coastal belt. The major population centers are further north even than Maine, and the road network sucks with regard to getting people to Manchester, Worcester, Springfield, and Albany. It'd be more natural to play out more in Montreal, and from there the other populated parts of Canada, but someone put a national border and a language barrier in the way. Vaporizer's been putting some decent runs of dates together, so they may be over this hurdle, but people interested in interesting new metal bands might be well advised to check out the land of hippies and maple syrup.

Faces of Bayon [6/7]
This is pretty much letter-perfect as to what I want to hear, personally, when I listen to doom metal: fewer Sabbath structures and more of the pounding low end death metal at glacial tempos a la Cathedral's first album. By far the slowest and heaviest band of the night, this resulted in less floor motion, but built into a punishing set of moderately epic proportions that put a convincing capstone on a solid, well-rounded night of diverse perspectives on doom. Pure quality; their coming gig with Sin of Angels, no slouches in the dirty-and-excruciatingly-slow department themselves, will be a molten glass deathmarch of the first order.

Things eventually closed up, and people found out that the basketball game had gone the wrong way, but that was immaterial; this was a stellar show and a free and easy drive back, no matter how dead I ended up being the next day, which contributed to the lateness of this writeup. The last one should be done shortly, and then the one from either Abnormality or Hivesmasher, depending on how that coinflip goes, this weekend.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Obliteration with Led to the Grave, Nekromantheon, and Nachzehrer [Church, Boston, 6/8/2010]

I missed most of the pre-MDF go-round due to being on call, but here we go for the post-festival iteration, which was the first show of this year's Collect Merch For Foreign Aid bit. I took a little longer driving in than I reckoned on, but still got the car cached in good time to hike down. Early, even; though this was advertised as 7pm doors, the bands didn't really get cranking till 9ish, which gave a decent opportunity to drink up, dread the Celtics underperforming again, and browse the merch tables. When the bands started, though, they took focus in commanding fashion.

Nachzehrer [6/7]
This was the first time I'd seen these guys in a "venue" venue (defined, completely arbitrarily, by having a stage area more than 12" elevated from the rest of the floor), and the better P.A. definitely helped out the cause. With this kind of hearing, the band's mix of influences becomes a little clearer; primarily a first-wave black metal band, from before that genre had fully speciated out of thrash (listen to Bathory's The Return again, like I've been doing lately, for support on this), but one that uses the Emmet Brown cheat now and again to bring in elements from both black and thrash metal that, were this 25 years ago, would be anachronistic. Since this is 2010, though, anachronism doesn't apply; thankfully, even the thrash revivalists (some of whom, yes, are actually in this band) around here don't hold one another to standards of being "period". If the sound didn't work, people wouldn't get into this band. The crowd response matched up to the performance, though, particularly on some of the more epic new stuff that didn't make it onto the Black Thrash Ritual demo, making sure that things were kicked off in style.

I picked up the aforementioned demo, along with some other kit, in larger amounts than other people were getting with a view to handing it out overseas. As has been advertised, this service is open to all bands who think that Wacken and/or Party.San attendees might be interested in their music, until I run out of space in my pack.

Nekromantheon [6/7]
I hadn't heard either of the Norwegian bands on the bill before, but I've listened to enough and diverse enough music from Norway over the years not to have any set expectations. Nekromantheon showed another side yet again, playing a powerful, kickass set of thrash metal heavily referencing Slayer and Sodom. If this is Scandinavia's style of thrash revival, then MOAR PLZ; the band was here, in all likelihood, mostly because 2 of the 3 guys are also in Obliteration, but they made a strong case for their own music as well. Maybe some of that was down to the instrumentation; personally, there is no bass tone in the world like that of a Rick with the pickup guard removed, but if you're going to play this kind of thrash metal, you're also likely to be the kind of bassist to get, by hook or by crook, a neck-through Rick and attack it with a screwdriver if the last person to won it was so remiss as to leave it in factory-delivered condition.

I wanted to get a record from these guys (and, of course, Obliteration as well), but unfortunately -- or perhaps not -- they had no merch. This sucks for us, but it also means that they sold completely out of whatever they brought over for MDF. Bands obviously want not to be sold out of stuff, especially underground ones from other continents that probably aren't going to be back over for a while, but they'd rather run out of stuff a show too early rather than have to pay air freight for half a box of stuff they didn't sell.

Led To The Grave [5/7]
The last time I'd seen this band was in here as well, though they were a little better matched to this bill, which was thrashy to one degree or another throughout, than opening for Dysrhythmia. If I remember correctly, these guys have changed up their membership in that time as well, which maybe as much as the placement accounts for the perceived improvement. Their sound's also solidified, reminding me of nothing so much as My Pet Demon, if their primary influence had been Exodus rather than Megadeth. The more brutal/underground dimension to their melodic thrash material may give them more legs than the aforementioned band; we'll see, but they did a good job in what might have been a tight slot allowing the Norskies time to rest up between sets.

I picked up their debut record, and a few other things from the Ragnarok table, since I wasn't able to support the touring band(s). This included a record from Aras that is worth other people checking out; it's decent music, and the risk taken by putting out Iranian kvlt material in pro packaging deserves support as well.

Obliteration [6/7]
If you're wondering where the first-wave death metal sound of Death and Obituary got to, this is pretty much the answer, or a significant component thereof. If this sound is the next to be revived, these guys will be out in front; if not, they'll continue to play quality music in a somewhat rare style for those that, like on this night, are either the true underground for it or willing to go out for solid shows even if they haven't heard the bands involved before. The audience was up for it as well; I rarely get decleated, but here, smashed into the wall and half covered in beer before the third song was out. And really, would you have this style of death metal any other way? Good music, and I really need to dig up their recorded output, since everything they lugged over (as alluded to above) was apparently devoured by the hordes in Maryland.

In time, though, the lights went back on, the band allowed only one song for an encore (and a legit encore, which is the only kind you get at this level, making it all the better), the Celtics fucked it up (continuing a disturbing precedent), and we got shooed out by the venue staff, for, for me, the long hike towards homewards. Another solid Church show, another solid gig put up by Robin/Ammonia. Long may it continue.

Work, other commitments, shows, and getting distracted by the World Cup is the reason this one is late, and the two behind it in the queue will be late as well, but they should be getting out in the near future...especially since I'm on call this week and not really able to go to midweek gigs.

Monday, June 07, 2010

festivals are go + comparison

Yup, tickets are in, and the solicitation is out on RTTP for people to give me their stuff for export, but there's an important difference. I only ordered my Party.San ticket last Monday, and pretty late at that, so one week chronological turnaround is like lightning. Wacken, by contrast, took most of a month, as a look back at February and March's entries will indicate, largely because it came with all this crap:

The two catalogs and the pile of Burger King coupons weighed so much that they had to send it by parcel post, in bubble wrap, which was ridiculous. It's a fucking ticket, the important part (ticket + invoice) can fit under a single first-class stamp. And that's exactly what the Party.San orgas did, as seen below:

One envelope at standard airmail rates, one ticket, one invoice, one promo card, and less than one week in transit. It's simple, it's faster, and it just plain works.

The natural conclusion is to extrapolate from this, or to infer that this comparison is being put up here for a reason, to associate Wacken with corporate bloat and unnecessary padding and expense, while Party.San is presented as efficient, heads-in-the-right-place, and still living by DIY. Of course, that'd be overreaching; you'd actually have to be on the ground for both festivals to develop that thesis to any degree of rigor.

More importantly, the Party.San ticket still has Koestriker as a main sponsor, so black beer in the morning continues for another year. East Germany, still made of awesome.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Parasitic Extirpation with Boarcorpse [O'Brien's, Allston, 6/3/2010]

I had a tough choice on the night between this and a very good black metal show out in Worcester, but this won out because, naturally, Parasitic does not put out a new album every week, and there is no shortage of good black metal shows in east central New England. I'm also starting to get to be more under the gun in terms of going to DIY shows in diversity and in numbers, to build up my stock of promotional materials before the Euro festival tour.

Thus instead of driving out to Worcester to see four bands, I drove into town, threaded my way through the exodus out of MIT's graduation, and hiked over hill, dale, and a couple bridges to get over just as the bands were starting to load in. The music wasn't going to be on for a while yet, but part of O'Brien's renovation a few years back included putting A/C in, which is a plus as spring bleeds into summer and Boston begins to resemble an open-air steam bath, and the beer was inside, not outside.

An hour, four CDs including Casketless, some disappointing Jozy Altidore news (if he can't play, we're going to have problems scoring against England, risking putting another major tournament in the "embarrassing failure" category), a crappy, disinterested start to the NBA Finals (not enough Boston games to win it if this is how the refs are going to call things in LA), and several cans of mildly beer-flavored industrial chemicals later, everyone was set up and soundchecked, and it was time to go.

Boarcorpse [6/7]
If this is a future indicator, then Boarcorpse have solidified, from a nebulous tech/weird act back in the Ouch days, into a committedly death metal tech-death band, but fortunately without losing the bizarre creativity that's been in from the beginning. This was a good performance from a dynamic and still-improving band, truly masters of Death Metal Technique. (Wait, what do you mean that's not what those initials stand for?) In some parts the total sound wasn't the clearest, but on DIY shows, as usual, a lot of that is going to be a function of where you're standing relative to the (usually non-mic'ed) amps, and by listening carefully I was still able to track in on whichever instrument wasn't coming through immediately. They've allegedly got a split coming out sometime in the future with Scaphism and Composted -- one to watch out for, for sure.

During the intermission, the basketball game had not gotten any better, so it was doubly good news when the headliners fired it up.

Parasitic Extirpation [6.5/7]
Sooo many slams.....and seriously, so much other good material as well. The Suffocation influences are still unmistakable, but Parasitic have moved beyond their antecedents, and also the other various bands that this supergroup formed from, in producing well-rounded, slammy, grooving death metal at a uniformly high level of execution. This was a near-perfectly turned performance that got a decent crowd response as well, despite most of the material coming off the new one and necessarily being a little unfamiliar to the audience. The next time out, at least in this area, that won't be the case; Casketless is a solid fucking record that the band moved quite a few of on this show, and it's going to be a regular guest in local CD players for a while yet.

Unfortunately, though, the band ran out of material up against the bar's closing time, and had to stop playing. Not only was the show over, but the Celtics had lost in a disappointingly petering-out fashion; fortunately, the quality of the performance we got lingered, making the walk back significantly easier.

Next show is tomorrow at Church; kvlt bands from Norway plus some worthy locals. I've also put in for my Party.San ticket, and while it hasn't arrived yet, I'm continuing to pester bands for extra stickers to hand out; eventually, the mails will get their job done, and I'll have full pockets of stuff to pass out to all and sundry.