Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Woods of Ypres with Frozen, Hirudinea, and Dreaded Silence [Ralph's, Worcester, 7/15/2010]

Late, but here it goes; at least one more show and hopefully two (noted below) before shipping out.

I got to go home from work before this one, though it did end up being some extra driving, but the Pike was clean all the way out and I got in with plenty of time to spare. Woods had a seriously extensive merch desk out, but I held fire for the time being, to be sure the locals got the support they deserved as well and also to get a better idea of what in this giant pile of stuff was going to be heading out the door in my pockets.

Dreaded Silence [5/7]
These guys started up a little rusty -- maybe enhanced by P.A. issues, the balance seemed a little weird at the start -- but got it under control and put out a quality set of depressive death metal, much as they did more regularly back a couple years when the band was more active. They were a late addition, covering for Anticosm (same tour as prior shows where their vehicle issues were documented), so a little rust is to be expected; hopefully, moving on from a good outing here and the release of Life Hangs Motionless recently, they'll play out some more and get their profile back up again.

Afterwards I picked up their first EP, which they'd been out of, apparently, when I was seeing them more regularly back in 2007, and tried to get some spare flyers (advertising the Life Hangs Motionless demo, available for free from the above link on the band's site, which has not prevented the typical Russian channels from repackaging it, in a display of mentalness verging on plain idiocy) from Doug to hand out overseas. Instead, he sent me a color PDF of the flyer, and now, 10 quick copies later, I have 40 semi-glossy color flyers to paper around at Wacken, with the opportunity to make more if needed. And since the entire festival is going to be wireless-enabled, some people may be able to pick the demo up and put the flyer down for the next passerby. Technology destroys (wireless internet at a metal open air? everywhere? are you fucking shitting me?), but also rebuilds.

Hirudinea [6/7]
Another band that I don't see nearly as often as I should, these guys fit oddly into the bill as it shook out without Anticosm, but for everyone there for music, an sich, not the sake of a uniform experience, more than made up for it with a powerful, blasting set of intense blackened grind. One of the great things about this concert series, and likely a significant factor in why it's now closing in on its hundredth edition (as well as threatening to take over just "every Thursday" at Ralph's) is the job that Chris (et al) does in getting in bills that are diverse week to week and well-balanced internally, but that would only be half-achieved if the bands involved didn't execute at the high levels that they do. This wasn't Hirudinea's usual audience (bands aside; both of the other locals have plenty of members between them who'll go out for grind or generally DIY shows) for the most part, but their performance was strong enough that it should have convinced at least a few of those who were down for the more melodic bands to dig up some of their recordings.

Frozen [5.5/7]
It'd been a while since I'd last seen Frozen, so their lineup changes coming into this one may have been more than just the new guitarist that I noticed. Fortunately, though, the change(s?) didn't seem to hold them back any, with this being a good solid set that leaned a little more towards Symphony X in its fusion of the heavy and the progressive, though still keeping a lot of the Evergrey elements that've dominated my ideas of this band since I first saw them almost four years ago. It wasn't quite a peak performance, but it it was a good set regardless, and it'll be interesting to see how the band continues to develop if they get into another active phase and release some new material.

Woods setting up. Your Ontario flag is just an amp-scrim rag. No, that's offensive, and not even funny either.

Woods of Ypres [7/7]
Wow. That's pretty much all that can be said; a top-class set from a very good band that, at this point, finally seems to have a lineup that's real, complete, and stable, as well as a firm handle on how they're going to get about it going forward. This was their first tour through this area, which meant that David got the usual guff for mispronouncing "Worcester" the first couple times (out-of-area folks: it's probably closest to "wistah", but if your band is touring through here or the Wheelchair or the QVCC, give a try with "worr-chester" or "woo-ster" first, us Massholes like correcting outsiders and it's less lame than most other forms of stage banter), but the Greyhounds got a few shoutouts as well from the crowd; probably not many places outside Canadia where that would be the case. The set covered material from Woods' whole history, with the expected heavier emphasis on the new record; still, there was plenty of stuff off the other ones, with the new lineup pushing the stuff from the second and third albums a little heavier, and the material from the first disc in a doomier direction. The result was a diverse yet unified set of crunching but melodically structured music that both impressed and got the floor moving, not to Dysentery standards by any stretch, but a hell of a lot more than most people might think possible from a set that, among a significant amount of other Woods II material, put both halves of "The Sun Was In My Eyes" back to back. I'm going to, of course, have to go back over seven months' worth of gigs to be categorical, but there have not been a lot of DIY sets this year (at least that I've been to) that have gotten to quite this level.

After the venue ops turned the lights on, closing out the encore (which actually felt like a legitimate encore, that the band were done, but left their gear onstage in the off chance that we'd cheer them back up, and if not, oh well, stretch out for a bit and then start tearing down), I had to make a couple hard decisions about what swag not to pick up, then hit the road more or less skint. Good show; here's hoping the locals are coming back onto an active cycle, and that Woods will be back with a new record sooner rather than later.

I had to miss two gigs due to unplanned contingencies, but there's at least one more show and potentially two before I hit the skies. If I can get out to Metal Thursday tomorrow, I will; if not, there's always Friday's nonstop melee. There's been a good response so far, but there's still room in the pack for more.

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