On the way out to this rather awesome show, as I got onto 290 from the Pike, I saw, ominously stretching back towards Worcester, the westbound side of that highway at a dead stop. I've gotten gun-shy about construction due to my commute being across the 93-95 interchange (and thus wrecked by knock-on effects of the Fast 14), so I was cautious about this, but, crucially, I didn't take a look in the rear-view to see what exits were blocked. This will show up again later.
Regardless, I got in to the venue in decent time, drank up, and watched Wormwood Prophecy get their gear in order. It's not often that you see DIY bands touring with their own lights, in-ear monitors, a guitar rack for their axes and a trolley to lug stuff around with, but there you go. It took a while getting all of this set up, but eventually, everything was dialed in, and the touring band kicked things off.
Wormwood Prophecy [5/7]
You see a bunch of young guys with good gear out on the road these days, and you automatically think "thrash revival"; fortunately, Wormwood Prophecy was anything but. Their composition was a little lacking in places, but they brought a lot of energy and good chops, earning a good positive response from the crowd, and quite a bit more motion than you normally see with an opening act. Some people might want to dock them points for originality, but that's priced in; I don't listen to Children of Bodom past Hatebreeder either, and if bands want to play high-energy blackened melodic metal that stripmines Something Wild and said other record for riffs, so much the better. If these guys are touring with all this hardware this young, they've got the necessary drive and ambition to take their composition up a notch going forward, and when that happens it's better to have a band aiming at the limelight built on classic Bodom rather than the modern turn-the-crank version.
Wormwood Prophecy closed with a Katy Perry cover that few people recognized and some suspected the band had made up out of whole cloth to excuse a poppy song. Not the case, but those of us who've seceded from pop culture weren't missing much, as even for a pop song, the original is kind of crap.
Infera Bruo [6/7]
First gig, my eye. If this is a baseline of what to expect from Infera Bruo, the other third-wave black metal bands of New England better start looking over their shoulders. Fusing turn-of-the-century Emperor and Enslaved in a storm of electronic noise, but also starting to evolve a sound not strictly dependent on either, Infera Bruo put out a solid set of a limited number of expansive but still fairly raw black metal compositions. "Expansive", actually, may undersell the band a little; the guitarist blew out his D string midway through a song, continued until reaching a break where he didn't have much to do, swapped to a backup about as that part was finishing, and then had his original axe back re-strung and roughly tuned by one of their guys at the end of the song. I'll definitely be looking out for this bunch on future gigs, watching out for them to record something as well.
In about here, I picked up a Wormwood Prophecy shirt and demo; I can take the hit on the shirt, and decent bands that make the trek up from Jax deserve the support. I also wheedled a couple extra demos out of them for overseas distribution; most of that allocation is still going to New England bands, but five CDs in sleeves isn't going to hurt any, and it's not like I don't have weird extras from Gwynbliedd and Morne already affecting the total balance.
If there's a band out there that sounds more like Amon Amarth than these guys do, it must be Hegg and Mikkonen's horde themselves. This is both a good and a bad thing; bad because for the life of me I can't see how Weregild gets any traction at all, but good because Amon Amarth does not tour the states every month, and seeing Weregild provides a significant fraction of that experience, one would hope, significantly more often. Seriously, the resemblance in tone and song structures is so close as to almost be a cover band -- not like this is a bad thing, though; as noted, there is generally not enough well-executed live deathviking music with melodic leads out there in this part of the world, and if you aren't in serious danger of banging your neck in half listening to "Journey through Musphellheim", you need to definitely re-evaluate why the hell you go to metal shows, or even listen to this music generally. If this is Weregild's ceiling, I don't think the band, or their audience, will have any complaints -- and if they kick on and end up doing something different and more independent of their influences (or even broader to take in, say, Unleashed's thrash/punk tempos or Mithotyn's more developed melodics), still better.
It was with great anticipation that I picked up Excrecor's EP here; I'd been waiting four years for this, and was stunned to get it for free. This also vindicated itself in the CD player on the way out; Synchronicity is a solid fucking record.
There's a lot of room for change in four years; in that time, or at least in the change of venues from a couple pallets at the back of Mark's to the regionally-renowned Ralph's PA, Excrecor's opened up their sound substantially, weaving in more developed leads and a greater range of influences. The base of a Hypocrisy-like bridging of the first and second waves of Swedish death is still there, but so's a nontrivial measure of late Carcass, as well as a dose of more blackened metal, resulting in the first band on this bill that I don't have an immediate and easy point of direct comparison to. Ultimately, the labels don't matter; Excrecor is a solid, hard-hitting, technically developed death metal band that knocked out a nice, longs, solid set here, and are worth a listen on future bills, or just on record if that's the only way you can get ahold of their stuff. The floor wasn't as violent for them as for Weregild, but they still got a strong response, and near everyone hanging about in front of the stage after they finally got called time on.
Since the show had started late, and had its times slip further as DIY set times often do, Excrecor were pushed to start and pushed to close; when I checked on my phone at the end, it was well past 1 AM and I still had an hour and a half of driving to finish off...or so I thought. I hit the road, and found out to my chagrin that the connection from 290 to 90 was closed. Dead closed. The road needed the repairs, sure, and the full moon through the clouds was pretty awesome, but the detour around on back roads to go further south and then back north to switch to the other side of the highway and use that onramp added about 20 minutes to the trip. It was past 3 by the time I got home, but somehow I cycled, got to work without dying, and wrote all this up without passing out.
I'm on call this weekend, and thus probably at neither gig tomorrow; next is accordingly Dysentery at the Midway if I can swing it, or Abnormality at O'B's if not.