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.
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.
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.
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.