Friday, May 13, 2011

Destruction with Heathen, Warbeast, Panzerbastard, and Razormaze [Church, Boston, 5/12/2011]

The early start on this one combined with me getting out of work later than I thought, and a huge amount of traffic, for some unexpected synergy; instead of throwing the car in Cambridge and hiking in, I bit the bullet, drove down Beacon dodging cyclists, scooters, and assholes who leave their BMW in the middle of the street with the blinkers on while they fuck off and do something else for an hour and a half, and parked decently close to the venue since the Red Sox were out of town and the garages south of the Pike weren't charging rates that need to be put on an installment plan. It was a much shorter hike getting over, and if it was $6 more expensive than just parking down back, I also didn't have to negotiate the Church parking lot, which is like a Korean highway except all just sitting in one place. I paid my way in, got a beer around the extremely incongruous regulars/softball team, picked up Razormaze's most recent EP, and was up in place by the time the band got going.

Razormaze [5/7]
I hadn't seen these guys in a while, and in the interim they've taken their game up a definite level. Of newer thrash metal bands from Boston, they've always been the most prone to being written off as "just thrash revival", but while their sound is still strongly rooted in Bay Area classics (a lot of Exodus and a fair measure of Dark Angel -- in tone if not in attitude or subjects -- as it came off on this hearing), there were more signs from this admittedly wicked short set that they're starting to assert a style that's not as easily pigeonholed, and one that can be asserted as definitely 'Razormaze' as opposed to 'dudes who like Testament a lot'. The band's core competency, as before, is playing good thrash metal in a readily familiar style, but when you're opening for Heathen and Destruction, you need to go beyond that a little or risk getting written off completely, and to their credit Razormaze did go that extra notch up.

I also got, unexpectedly gratis, a new mini-strip patch from Razormaze with their new logo, to go with the old logo I got the first time I saw them and the intermediate logo as seen on the CD. Regression towards evil? See below:

Panzerbastard [5.5/7]
After checking back, I hadn't seen Panzerbastard before, but the check is understandable, as I'm pretty sure that I've seen every member (except maybe Keith) playing with at least two other bands. The music, though, needs no introduction or pedigree: tar-sludge thrashpunk'n'roll with touchpoints in every thrash, sludge, or grind band you could care to name, or, more succinctly, Motorhead dropped an octave and even more dubiously civilized. People had been thrashing around for Razormaze, of course, but this is where the pit started to get seriously violent, culminating as they covered Celtic Frost's "Usurper" to close.

They bastards didn't have any merch out, probably as a side effect of selling through everything they'd done up previously on their recent UK tour; instead, I picked up stuff from Heathen and Destruction, and ended up talking extensively with Mike Nachzehrer about a bunch of things, including their upcoming EP, their shows with Nocturnal (there) and Abazagorath (at PSOA, oh well) in the coming weeks and months, and the difficulties of getting Germans to remember things when drunk. Technically, I gave die Nachgezorene a head start on the official RFM, but 1) who cares and 2) I seriously doubt I'm going to run out of pack space.

Warbeast [5.5/7]
Though, as people generally somewhat expect from Texas bands these days -- and to be fair, as promised by the prominent mentions of Phil Anselmo's production role on, um, everything not printed on fabric they had available -- these guys had a few Pantera echoes, most of the set was solid thrash metal in line with the German and secondarily Bay Area traditions. (If I'd known in advance that multiple members of this band had been in Gammacide, this would be self-explanatory.) This was a solid set, maybe not overtopping the locals, but we tend to have some pretty good bands in the Boston area, and the opportunity to go out, open for Heathen and Destruction, and give a good account of yourselves does not come easily or instantly.

I picked up their current record on vinyl after the set wrapped; I was thinking about CD, as it'd've been a lot easier to manage, but as far as I could make out, vinyl was a better deal from the band's perspective, on margin as well as the "actual dollars we get back from carting this stuff around" dimension. This also meant taking a step or two back for the last two bands, but I saw Destruction from contact range a few years back, and seeing Heathen at any depth was something that I wouldn't've expected at all a couple years ago.

Heathen [6.5/7]
A "7" set from Heathen includes "The Goblin's Blade", at least personally. This one didn't, but also, at a very immediate level, it is fucking stupid to bitch about any aspect, at all, of a Heathen set performed live in 2011, especially one featuring "Open The Grave", "Death By Hanging", and a large measure of new songs from a new album that largely measure up to and fit in with the band's previous ouevre. The takeaways from this set should be as follows, in order of importance:
1) Heathen is still playing
2) Heathen is still awesome
3) Heathen is still putting out quality new music after nearly two decades, "breaking the silence" as it were DURR HURRR HURRRR.
The crowd got turbulent in places, but for a lot of people, there was as much or more value in just standing, banging, and listening to Heathen live, at last, and the band delivered. Class, class set.

Destruction [7/7]
As with Master in this space, Destruction's set was marked by technical difficulties and a lot of imprecations from the vocalist/bassist against the club's equipment and overall setup. Schmier's frustrations notwithstanding, though, this was an absolutely graveling set of thrash metal that is probably the best outing I've seen from Destruction, definitely the best since that Middle East gig linked a few paras up. Despite international fame, three decades in harness, and a four-digit guarantee, at heart Destruction is still a dirty, violent, down-to-earth DIY thrash band, thriving in spaces like this as much if not more than festival infields. The band might not have been able to hear themselves, but what we on the floor heard was an excellent set well worth the $25 ticket. Some people might have balked at paying that for a bar show, but when a bar show includes kickass performances from Heathen and Destruction as well as solid outings from the openers, you dig yer haun intae yer feckin poakit.

When the club put the lights up, foreclosing on the possibility of any further encores from Destruction, I beat feet out; not too long back to the garage and the surprisingly helpful payout machine, and then back the hard way to the highways north. Though this is late, at least it's done -- and none too soon as, the pre-MDF stretch is coming in.

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