With the earlier start (and the lurking threat of a sellout), I had an earlier start coming out, and thus a bit more traffic. Regardless, I got out in good order, and in to the bar just as November's Doom was closing up their soundcheck. I picked up a beer and restrained the urge to pour the contents of my wallet out entirely over the Oak Knoll table; Jeremy always has a great selection -- and this time, a brand new Black Harvest record -- but there were four touring bands this time, and I wanted to be sure I could support as needed.
Faces of Bayon [5/7]
Whether it was because they were opening, or just because Matt'd had his gall bladder out the day before, this wasn't quite as ripping or as powerful a set as I'd seen from the band last time. The brutal, crushing, glacial doom was the same, and the heaviest doom on the bill this night, but maybe not as violent in pushing the nails through your boots and into the floor. They're putting out a new record at the end of June; with a headlining slot and hopefully none of the band recovering from surgery, the record release show will hopefully see them step up again.
Goddamn Zombie [4.5/7]
The last crowd reaction to that I recall as comparable to this band that I can recall is Graveside Service at the Skybar four years back. This is appropriate, because with two guitars, no other instruments, costumes, stage dressing, and extensive playback, this band is like the other half of Graveside Service (at least as they were four years ago). And like GSS, this band is probably too weird and not metal enough to get a uniformly good reaction from the serious (and, frankly, occasionally SRS BSNS) metalheads at a show like this. Their nifty cover of Death's "Zombie Ritual" and the "it's not murder, it's just meat" refrain aside, it's hard to argue that this band wouldn't do a hell of a lot better with a more gothic audience than the one they had here. They had some decent moments, but the unenthusiastic reaction was pretty much warranted; when you've got two vocalists and your entire rhythm section on playback already, there's just no excuse for having vocals on playback while one of the vocalists isn't singing.
Much more Opethy than the last time they were around (which shook out more like Primordial), Gwynbleidd executed a top-class set of melodic doom metal that really got the audience going again after the dip; this was the first set of the night that wouldn't've been out of place on the really stellar outing the night before. A lot of the set came off the new(ish) record, Nostalgia, but they didn't slack on the older material for either volume or quality, closing with "Awakening" off Amaranthine to huge acclaim.
All of the following should be easily corroborated by anyone else who showed up. It's not at all influenced by the fact that the Gwynbleidd guys are cool dudes who gave me a free shirt (naw sized for my frame, but I'll find a good home for it) and a large stack of stickers to take over on the festival tour. I got some stickers off them for that purpose by request; the unsolicited, much larger, extra stack was just bonus.
Woods of Ypres [6.5/7]
Probably down in significant part to being a lot more balanced, across all four-and-a-half records, than the last time, this was a better Woods set than I've seen since last year, and in its diversity and strong black metal components the best set of those on offer here tonight. Omitting "Ontario Town" (shock horror) and changing up the selections from Woods I and Woods II, the band continued to demonstrate their strength in depth as well as the virtues of the current record and the current single that they effectively released at this gig. If this band comes by and you miss them, you're missing out; they're on a hardcore touring binge, but with this variety in the set, you're going to miss great performances of classic songs.
Also, bring your wallet. Dan maintains high standards of quality in design and manufacture in Woods' merchandise, but this comes at a cost. It hurt not having the $40 for the "whoodie" they had on offer, and it hurt forking out $20 for the new single, but this is $20 for a new, limited, hand-numbered, Woods 45 on clear vinyl, signed by all the band members, and with an enclosed coupon for a free download of the new tracks, so you don't need to dig out the USB cable for your turntable to get them into a portable format. That's what you call "improving the value proposition". The music is also pretty cool, so buy the record, provided they have copies left when they come by your town.
November's Doom [6/7]
By this time, weighted down with only three hours' sleep between shows, I was approaching dead on my feet. Fortunately, the band was far from it, smashing out a strong and consistent set of precisely-machined death-doom. The setlist was built strongly around the new Aphotic record, but also pulled in a fair measure of older stuff; I've never been super into this band, so while I can't attest to how they did on really early material, they hit my personal high points off The Pale Haunt Departure and sold the new one pretty well. Tremendous music and an entirely worthy capstone to Metal Thursday's anniversary mini-fest.
Somehow, I managed to get home in one piece and neither stabbed nor arrested while out on the booze Saturday; that and paying two nights' worth of sleep debt Sunday is why this is a little late. Next gig is probably Destruction provided it doesn't sell out; my Party.San ticket should get in shortly, and when that's in and the tour's planned, there'll be a formal RFM.