Having narrowly avoided getting stuck on a difficult production ticket, I got out of work in decent time to get out to Worcester, aided by the fact that the roads were empty and I was on the correct side of 93. Time saved, and gas saved too, especially since I'm going to be doing this again tonight; as tasty as Goreality + Composted looks, the onramps to 93 were already closed at the end of last night, making getting in to Boston, for the rest of the summer, an exercise in insanity and overloaded back roads.
That aside, I got in with plenty of time before the bands started; enough time to get some beer down, read up on the print version of the anniversary article, and check out the merch set up. Unfortunately, Ipsissimus' Metal Blade debut isn't out yet (and I've had Three Secrets... since buying it off Ryan opening for Watain with his leg in a cast), and Ravage didn't have their Metal Blade record with them; I eventually got a Ravage patch and missed on the new Ipsissimus shirt, leaving chagrined at not supporting bands.
These guys have taken a significant step forward since December; their sound's now a lot more developed if still not super cleanly-fused, and the excellent venue sound -- consistent across bands, where this hasn't always been the case lately -- really helped them showcase this to the full extent. I wasn't able to pick up their demo, but strongly advise doing so for anyone who's better at cornering band members than I am; as soon as they grind and fill the joints in their sound smooth, this is music that Nuclear Blast will eat up like candy.
A really good indicator that a band's doing something at least really original is that nobody can decide who they mostly sound like. Other people noted Opeth or Carcass as main points of comparison, and I'm about to disagree with them and introduce a ridiculous influence stew below. Nocuous is basically a Witchery-type band, despite not really sounding anything like Witchery at all: they bolt together elements of thrash, black, and death metal and make it sound consistently cool. They do first-wave Swedish-death melodics and structures in the vein of late-'90s Hypocrisy, they drop in Slayer and Immortal breaks, and they do occasional breakdowns. It's not as finished as Witchery yet, but if you like that band's first two records and thought that what they were doing was a super awesome idea 10 years ago, Nocuous will have good results for you when they eventually put out a full-length and demonstrate that true full-fusion extreme metal is still a good idea in the present day.
While this was the "local" night of the five-year-anniversary show complex (tonight features multiple bands from over a thousand miles away), it still bears noting that half the bill was nationally signed. Ravage's had some difficulties since getting signed to Metal Blade (like getting stuck in Oregon when their van essentially fell apart like the cop cars in the intro to Castle of Cagliostro), but didn't show it in this performance, which was as good as they've done in a long while. Fitting in with the anniversary theme, they brought out some real old ones, as well as some off the new disc that they hadn't done live before -- and as usual they ignored the twit yelling about "Wyvern".
While tonight is pretty much all doom -- albeit different species of doom, to be sure, and that involves partially reclassifying Woods and maybe also Gwynbleidd -- this gig went fusionthrash->power->black->death, really showing off the diversity, not just the top-class performances, that have made this series great and contributed significantly to its success and popularity. Normal Metal Thursdays don't really sort out like this; you'll usually get "mostly thrash, but different kinds of thrash", "mostly death, but different kinds of death", or "black, but different kinds of black" nights, but what's important is that Chris never gets into a rut where it's, say, all death metal for three months straight. Part of it is a deliberate decision by the organizers to not book the same bands too often, but part of it is also the diversity in styles and sheer numbers of heavy local bands in New England that the series can range all over the map stylistically and still draw well two and three weeks a month.
Because I missed the Black Anvil show this past weekend (due to a sudden attack of utter motivation deficit), it has been literally years (well, two of them) since I saw this band last. For context, here are some bands I saw at least twice in the intervening time: Psycroptic (Australia), Moonsorrow (Finland), Korpiklaani (also Finland), Kreator (Germany), Voivod (Canada), Vader (Poland), Exodus (California), Napalm Death (England), Woods of Ypres (boondocks Canada). Connecticut is apparently wicked far away. They more than made up for it, though, with a howling, hammering performance of jamming true black metal that, for those who have not participated in the mysteries and are waiting for Metal Blade to get off their duffs, approximates what FSBM (Former Soviet Black Metal, so I can lump Drudkh in with Old Wainds) might sound like if the lands between the Dneister and the Volga were more like Vermont. There was a high bar at this show due to every single band bringing their A-game, as the narrow range of large arbitrary numbers pasted after their names suggests, but Ipsissimus edged out the rest, and will, if Metal Blade sees fit to kit them out with a van not entirely composed of compressed rust despite their previous for same, likely be evolving similar satanisms in more places around the United States soon enough.
Whether Chris intended it or not, Crazy Dan was up on stage MCing the event (and why not, since he was on the flyer?), which provided nearly as many laughs as the bands and stage crew got the set changes going as he passed out critical collisions in the pit. In a night of many speeches, Chris' was probably the best considered and most complete, Adam's the most philosophical, trenchant, and suitable for rebroadcast (if someone actually videoed this, gies the youtube link so I can spam it), but Dan had probably the most minutes, and definitely the most lols per minute. Happy St. Pedro's Day!
Scaphism also benefited from the thick, dense venue sound; it's either that, potentially changing guitarists, or just not seeing them in six months, but they've definitely taken it up a level and provided a class set of less complicated but absolutely slammerific death metal that saw, if not the first, at least one of the very few crowdsurfers I've seen at Ralph's, in addition to the absolute and total pit chaos that's pretty much expected for a mosh-friendly band at the end of a very good night. Via more new material, time taken for Chris's speech, and Exhumed's "Coffin Crusher", there was less in the set about rape than there's been in the past, and nobody got kicked in the balls. Of course, they may have misjudged their audience, vice Tony introducing "Slowly Digesting...": "It's a sad commentary on modern society that we get a more positive response for rape than for Star Wars." "Slowly Digesting..." of course, was absolutely pulverizing, and saw no worse response (if not better) than any of the other songs in a very good set; even if Scaphism is going from Oor Raep Band to Oor Crêpe Band (Composted may have something to say about that, though), they're going to continue to see this kind of good response as long as they continue with the top-class aural brutalization.
By the time things wrapped up, it was pushing 2 AM, and I still had to work in the morning. Futile half-assed attempts to pick up Nocuous' demo failed, and I got moving back onto the roads; hell of a night, and do it again the next day. I got into Metal Thursday long after it'd been established, but I've been about fairly consistently, modulo actually being in the state, for much of the last four years, and the experiences I've had have been thoroughly worth the valediction. Hails to Chris, Sam, Kate, Steve, the bar staff, and all the other ragers and bands who've made it so; part 2 comes tonight, or, if I end up locked out without a ticket, it'll go without me and I'll go up the long roads to Haverhill and try to catch Vattnet and Astronomer.