Monday, December 13, 2010

[Scaphism] with Led To The Grave, Coffin Birth, Nachzehrer, Untombed, Forced Asphyxiation, Nocuous, and Sauriel [Midway, J.P., 12/12/2010]

This is stupidly late due to end-of-year congestion, me working on other stuff, and general laziness. With effort, it's not going to happen again.

The first show at the renovated Midway since they finished expanding it, there was a little uncertainty surrounding this going in, since it was set up as a nine-band show, eventually dropping to eight. There was a fair bit of snark floating around in advance about this -- for why, look back at the days of Mark's Show Place -- but things stayed mostly on schedule, the bands were good, and the crowd was decent despite the rain, go date (Sunday afternoon-evening), and the small venue; apart from Tony the Yeti's baws, there won't be many who were at this who'll have cause for complaint.

If I recall correctly, it wasn't long after settling in, watching the Pats plug away at the Bears -- oh halycon days where the good team in this matchup was still on course to a conference final -- and getting a beer or two in at the new wraparound bar, that the bands started up, as they kind of had to given the size of the bill.

Sauriel [5/7]
A newer band featuring guys who've been around for a while (most prominently in The Accursed and Withered Sun/Graves Over Autumn, but older heads will remember Inflicted as well), this was a departure for those who, based on antecedents, might have been expecting Gothenchusetts-styled material. While black metal was an important contributing influence to NWOSDM, this was a more straightforward black metal performance; a little formula maybe, but not totally, and well-delivered regardless. "At the Heart of the Nightside Eclipse" isn't completely unfair, but the emphasis should be on the quality of the execution.

I picked up their demo, which was pretty much of a piece with their live performance: good, solid music, well-delivered, but not completely differentiated yet. It's going to be interesting to see how this band develops; the members may not have the kvltest credentials in the world, but they do have a good track record in delivering quality music.

Nocuous [5/7]
I hadn't heard or seen this band before; they're apparently mostly a studio project, so this is not super surprising, but more active bands is always better than the alternative, especially more active decent bands. They had a really, really, weird turn at the start, with most of their first song eerily evocative of old Heaven Shall Burn (think Whatever It May Take, not the demo with the Bolt Thrower ripoff title where they were an actual hardcore band). I actually like HSB (ohnoes, skelp aff my Black Witchery and Holocauso patches), so this was cool, especially in application, and whatever the actual intention or influences, it definitely set up the rest of the set, a solid outing of nice lead-driven thrashy black metal, really well. Definitely a band to watch out for, even considering the plethora of newish and newly-active black metal bands in eastern New England lately.

Forced Asphyxiation [5/7]
At this point the sound changed up a little, going over to death metal rather than black. Forced Asphyxiation maybe dragged a little in parts, but still provided a lot of quality grooving death metal, and took a step up from the last time I'd seen them back in April. This set also put forward a less generic and more developed sound from them; it's going to be cool to see where this goes once they get something recorded -- or more likely, I bodge up and get ahold of said recording, since it's been like three months since this show.

Untombed [5.5/7]
While not as lightning-in-a-bottle awesome as that April gig, this was still as killer as you'll expect from this band, despite being down to one guitar from two. (Not sure if this is a one-off thing or if it represents an actual lineup change; we'll see how they line up next time out.) The sheer death metal power evolved despite the limited instrumentation was remarkable, overshadowing the fact that Dave (Vicious Insanity, formerly behind the skins for Summoning Hate) spent most/all of the set as a second vocalist. This was a cool wrinkle that isn't seen a lot in death metal around Boston, but while it added to the band, it never distracted from the smashing that the instrumentalists were laying out.

Nachzehrer [5.5/7]
The bill swung back over to black metal without dropping quality or missing a beat in this set from Nachzehrer, who were still as raw and thrashing as ever, but mixed in some dual-leads as well. As previously noted, neither black metal nor thrash metal in Boston has any especially active "scene police" (well, that wouldn't get roundly laughed at by this audience, anyway), and if you've got guitarists this good, you might as well use them. The result was good here, and it's going to be cool to see how twists like this make it into the sound of future recordings. Black Thrash Ritual was a good demo, and the new songs they've brought out since have been a solid step up from there.

This is so late that in the interim, Alex (Razormaze) has left the band (amicably, SMNR), been replaced, and his replacement has trained up to the level that the band's able to get out gigging again.

Coffin Birth [5.5/7]
This was, amazingly enough, the first time I'd seen this band, who have been around in New England long enough and prominently enough that the Canucks with the same name don't have name priority. They haven't been super active in the last couple years, but they do play shows; just not, as it's happened, ones that I get to. The fan on the floor seemed more to blow Anthony's hair back than for ventilation (despite being the Midway, this was December, and the larger room meant more air movement and less stiflingness), but you pick up habits like that touring with Belphegor. Silly staging pick points aside, the black metal that these dudes kicked out was nice and grim, and probably, on balance, the best set of the night on what was a really good and balanced bill.

Indeed, if all you look at are the largely arbitrary numbers (done at the show for marginally less arbitrariness), the bill looks even more balanced. This is what happens, though, when you get a lot of good local bands to play on a big bill: the overwhelming likelihood for each and every band is that you'll get a good set rather than a halfassed or epic one. If the highs were lower, so were the lows higher; no wasted time at this gig.

Led To The Grave [5/7]
Making the turn back from black metal towards Scaphism's grind/death was LTTG, still kicking out solid if not spectacular brutal thrash. They've solidified a little since I saw them previously, and they got a lot of good movement on the floor, but the music is pretty much in the same place it's been since February of '09. It's still good thrash metal, and people will still dig it, but they're one of the few bands on this bill who I have multiple data points for that appear to be standing still. As noted, this information's potentially three months out of date, but since they're not on either Bobfest or No Life, another sample is not in the immediate offing.

Unfortunately, while the show had stayed mostly on schedule, there was a certain amount of slippage that had to be expected from DIY. I left before Scaphism, regrettably, as I would have missed my train connections otherwise. This means that I missed their set, and also that I can't comment firsthand on the incident where Tony got kicked in the balls. Didn't see it, unwilling to draw conclusions or make a statement on the politics or logistics of it. Fortunately, no permanent damage appears to have occurred -- either to his organs or to the cohesiveness of the Boston scene. "Alcohol, cause and solution to life's problems" appears to be the watchword, and internally, maybe some Afterschool-Special learning experiences, but being uninvolved, it's not for me to spell those out. SMNR, as above.

This is finally out, and there is one more archaic show review in the pipeline. Then two months of nothing, and then I write up tonight's Born of Fire if I don't die of pneumonia hiking back in the rain. Shit is getting back on track. Also, I'm writing/recording for a new Coelem thing, which when it gets done will get a bandcamp if the new shit turns out to be not absolutely horrible.

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