Monday, October 04, 2010

Composted with Dysentery, Scaphism, Boarcorpse, and Abnormality [Church, Boston, 10/3/2010]

Because I was a little late coming down, I bit the bullet and actually drove-in-Boston enough to park by the venue for this one. With baseball season over, this was almost surprisingly easy and cut out what would have been a bastard-long hike, which came in useful later on.

Anyway, I got in with time and spots behind the restaurant to spare, got some beers, and was ready when the bands started ahead of the announced schedule, in order to fit in everyone before the hard midnight curfew.

Abnormality [5.5/7]
In some ways Abnormality seemed almost like a new band in this outing, though I hadn't really seen enough of them in the previous four years to make that assessment with any degree of confidence. I was concerned that Mike leaving might take them down a peg, but this hasn't really happened; Abnormality is still just as technical, maybe a little more riff-focused and a little more melodic, but still crunching out kickass brutal death metal. It's still a little weird, almost, to see them with a bassist after so long without one, but Josh fills out and solidifies the sound, allowing the guitarists to concentrate on other things while he puts in the low end. (This has been your promotional message from the Bass Players' Mutual Benefit Society for the day.) The set was a little short -- the first four bands had to shoehorn themselves into 30-minute sets to make the timing work, so this is going to be pretty consistent across bands on this gig -- but pulled heavily from their upcoming EP, which is really looking like one to watch out for.

I was talking with Juan Untombed and some other people in here, and he mentioned that Boarcorpse had a new song built on black metal. I was a little skeptical about this -- even for Boarcorpse, that's a little out there -- but lo and behold, in the middle of said band's set, a song that comes out with straight-up Emperor riffs before blending them back into more typical weird tech-death. This is the last time I doubt Juan on something, provided he's functional enough to say words.

Boarcorpse [6/7]
This was Boarcorpse's last show as Boarcorpse has been, at least as long as they've been Boarcorpse, maybe even a little longer, and what a way to go out. In Terrence's last show out front, they smashed out a heavyweight-champeen performance of odd, challenging, brutal, and generally awesome material, including some new stuff from the forthcoming split with Composted and Scaphism, which is allegedly going to master this week. Perhaps impermanence adds coloring, but a set like this doesn't really need that enhancement; Boarcorpse has killed it like this before, they killed it here, and they will hopefully kill it in the future with Mark out front, who is a talented vocalist and class doer of odd things in his own right. A band this good doesn't often become not-good by amicably swapping one good musician for another, but they do change; if you missed this set, you missed the closing of a chapter, but there's no reason not to get onboard with the next iteration of this band as well.

Scaphism [5.5/7]
A good, solid, if a little short, set of meat-and-potatoes death metal from greater Worcester's favorite band of RAEP RAEP RAEP fetishists; this is about their metier, as far as I've seen them to date. Their brand of crushing, chunky death metal may not lend itself to the sort of performance that I'm likely to pick out as a particular high, but if they continue to keep up the quality and the consistency, people will continue to pack in for their sets and continue to respond well to the music. Over the sample space that I've seen from them, this was about an average Scaphism performance; it's just that the average outing you get from Scaphism is wicked good.

Dysentery [6/7]
Solid music, violent floor. So let it ever be. On the musical side, the band continued the trend of the past couple shows, unifying in the new material off the forthcoming-in-the-indefinite-future new record with stuff going back as far as the Excruciatingly Euphoric Torment split; the balance on this one was about 1/3 "old", 1/3 "new", and 1/3 ...Past Suffering..., all strongly integrated. Whenever the new one's out, it's going to be a hell of a crusher. The floor, though, didn't hit maximum violence; some people may have been intimidated by those who were throwing themselves around, some people may have been saving themselves for Composted, and the standards used may just be unrealistic. Is it even possible to make a pit that Will is going to be scared of? I've seen the guy in action, and don't believe that he'd be scared of any floor action that wasn't also indistinguishable from an armed gang fight. As pointed up before, though, this may be the problem; appropriately-violent pits scare people off, which leads to an empty front, which leads to people jumping around more, which eventually hits the local maximum of violence again. Local maxima are just rare.

Composted [6/7]
Some people, on seeing the relative decrease in antics and corresponding increase in ballistics-grade slam, might be motivated to shed a bloody little tear, with a sniffle, in the belief that Composted is growing up. Other people who are paying more attention will note that Mark still did this entire set in a banana suit. The current state of Composted can be most easily likened to the intro to "Sausage Cathedral": direct and to the point, but still relentlessly weird to the point of dada. There will be more antics, in other places that will mind the strewing of baked goods and inflatables less; what should be taken away from this set is that what's been true since the beginning of Composted is if anything even more true now: if you strip off the antics, you still have a very good and very funny slamming death metal band. The audience was up for it, with Aaron Hivesmasher (who's owned up to it under his own name elsewhere, so I can go ahead and be specific here) filling the air with empty pint cans, and a full, active pit that was at times almost as weird as the band on stage. With tanking the dudes and ladies flying around, and with trying to flip the glass shards back out of the killzone (unfortunately, not all of them or not in time to keep the dude who was moshing in his bare feet, having kicked off his flipflops, from stepping on them), there was never a dull moment for me in this set.

Glass shards? Yes, glass shards:


Way back, when I was working in a line of business that made products that could kill people in any number of disruptive ways by accident, the EHS (Environmental Health & Safety) folks continually drummed it into everyone who had direct contact with a tool that accidents always have priors. This isn't strictly true, but it is most of the time: more accurately, because accidents are a combination of random chance and an unsafe environment, it is overwhelmingly likely that if you look at an accident, you're going to find a distinct pattern of unsafe situations and near-misses that in hindsight should have warned people that something bad was going to happen. Because I was stuck in traffic coming home (DPW can GTF, closing down 93 to one lane, even at midnight), I had time to go over the night mentally and work out the priors.

What happened: a little after midway through Composted's set, a particularly active mosher threw or swiped an empty pint glass off a table at the edge of the pit. The glass flew through the air about 10 feet without hitting anyone and crashed on the floor, where it shattered. The active ingredients in this one are a violent pit and the presence of glassware.

Near misses: I was pretty certain at the time -- before the glass actually hit the floor here -- that I'd heard another glass bite the dust in between two songs immediately before the break incident. It didn't appear to be in the pit area, but I'm pretty sure I heard breakage somewhere. More concretely, during Scaphism, a girl in the pit (which was not real violent) got knocked into, spilling her drink out of its glass vessel and all over her. No glass hit the floor here, but that's why it's a near miss, not an accident.

Environment generally: There was a lot of glassware on small and high tables near the pit at this gig. With the pits being as violent as Dysentery and Composted pits can get, people likely didn't want to keep holding onto their drinks after finishing them, and it's a hell of a lot shorter to duck back and put the glass on a table rather than lugging it back to the bar. Glass in the pit is always going to be a risk, but a glass that's sitting on a table is a lot more likely to hit the floor than one that's in someone's hand or pocket.

Does any of this exculpate the person who ultimately put the glass on the floor? No, not at all; at the minimum this was a reckless move that could have for real killed somebody, which if intentional makes it even worse. However, looking at this situation and realizing that we'll never be able to completely stop crazy people at the door, it's possible to try to reduce potential injury risk just by moving the bar tables back behind or at least level with the sound desk on shows like this where there's going to be a lot of crowd movement. Even if glass piles up on tables, if they're not on the edge of the pit, it's less likely that they'll end up in the middle of it. And even if people carry pint glasses into the pit, it's less likely, if they're holding onto them, that they'll get swiped/snatched away and end up on the floor.

We'll see how and if this gets implemented; a response of "no metal shows" or "no glass drinking vessels" is not warranted and is complete overkill even from the basic EHS perspective.

Amazingly, this writeup isn't completely late; hopefully, this trend continues over the coming five-day block of shows, where, circumstances permitting, I'm out at four venues over each of the five nights Thursday to Monday seeing bands. Hopefully that comes together; a nice block of music before I go on call, then transition into prepping for Hong Kong.

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