I was getting a little eye fatigue on the way out to this; charging hard on various fronts had been the order of the day, so I was still incompletely recovered from Humanity Falls the night before. What worked to cut down on it, though, was the car's AC, which boded ill for the gig itself. The Palladium is always wicked hot, especially in the upstairs, and especially for a death metal show with a lot of motion in the audience.
I got up just about doors, which meant only about a 15-minute wait or so at the end of the line. This was necessary because the Palladium has previous for being nebulous about what actually "doors" means, and since I'd gotten my ticket off Black Trip back at Destruction, I wanted to make sure I at least saw them. After getting processed in, I got a beer, looked over the merch selection, and found myself a decently close spot on the floor where my Old Person knees wouldn't end up getting absolutely killed.
Black Trip [5/7]
The sound was pretty good to these guys, and while they have a host of structural debits that I'll get into in a sec, they put out a decent performance that brought me a lot closer to being able to concretely describe their sound. With crunchy death grooves and a lot of prog/power metal influences in the guitar leads, Black Trip resemble nothing so much as a less blended, less-finished endZone, though that is a hopelessly impenetrable reference because nobody listens to Russian metal that isn't NSBM, and fuck-all nobody was listening to Russian music at all at the turn of the century when these guys were actually active. There's promise for this kind of music, but not in slots or on bills like this. Black Trip didn't really match in with the rest of the bill soundwise, which explains the lukewarm reception they got from the audience, and they didn't really appear to have a handle on the time demands on their set; despite nearly running over their slot, it looked like they were cut off midway through relative to expectations. This, though, like the better blending of their heavy and melodic influences, is something that should get better with experience.
The only really major sticking point in this set was at the end, when they called out for noise for every single band on the bill except Sexcrement. This is really, really bad form; it might be just honest tunnel vision, but when you're one of two local openers and ignore the other one to call out for appreesh to yourselves and the touring bill, it looks like you're trying to get over on them, and this is a bad idea generally -- but especially when the band getting dissed by omission is as high-profile as Sexcrement. It's not just being a long-running, fun, well-liked band that includes members of other well-liked bands and leading promoters; Sexcrement is pretty much the one band that people ask me about first when I'm on the road overseas, after they find out I'm from New England. It's bad form anywhere, on any bill, to single out bands by omission, no matter how well or poorly they played, but in this case, that omission might have specific and significant negative consequences, and they could have easily been avoided by going "oh yeah, and SEXCREMENT!!!" in response to the audience yelling "what about Sexcrement?!"
Sexcrement also got a pretty short set, as expected from opening, but handled it in a simple and effective way: they came out, set up, and fucking killed it straight across. Their fairly simple, always solid grooving slam-death battered the audience and got the pit nice and proper violent. Though they cut against the more tech-oriented grain of the bill, they were effective and enjoyable, and that ultimately is what playing live comes down to. Killer.
The sole disappointing thing about this outing was that when I went up to hit the merch deck, Sexcrement was sold out of the XXX Bargain Bin EP. Bad luck, but a good lesson: when good bands put something out on their own hook, go see them and get a damn copy, because it's going to sell out and not get re-pressed sooner rather than later.
Abysmal Dawn [5.5/7]
Maybe it was the sound -- which was kind of inconsistent here, good for some bands, less good for others -- but for whatever reason Abysmal Dawn didn't really translate live. A lot of the more technical stuff from their Leveling the Plane of Existence record either didn't end up in the setlist or, more likely, didn't make it through the mix, leaving them sounding like a less-varied Immolation. This was still a good set, with enough of the music making it through to get the crowd into it, but it could have been better, at least according to the recorded evidence, with a better presentation.
Speaking of that recorded evidence, I went up for the third time after Abysmal's set to try and purchase it, but they still didn't have their merch desk manned. I did get a copy a little later on -- which bore out the impression I got, live, of technical parts that should have been there getting lost or buried -- but with the heat and attendant attrition, they may have missed out on some sales to people who wanted to support the band, but packed it in early for whatever reason.
Vital Remains [5.5/7]
The course of the last few years has not been kind to local perceptions of Vital Remains. This was the third time I've seen the band, and for the third time, an almost completely new lineup. Tony is still there, of course, and Scott's been retained on vocals, but with new members in the other three positions, seeing Vital again under these circumstances can approach seeing Vital again, for the first time. They got off to a very, very, rough start, though this was probably due to bad house sound, as they improved steadily through the course of the set to close with "Dechristianize" as completely expected. Vital are still a good band, and I still like "Dechristianize" and "Hammer Down The Nails", but the former song and how the band has developed since the album of the same name came out really emphasize the huge effect that one hit can have on a band's career. Vital is, catalog-wise, an extremely deep and varied band, but nowadays, practically all of their set is done to emulate "Dechristianize" in sound: tons of speed, a lot of blasts, thick riffing and relatively clean leads over the top. I still like what they do, but I continue to hope against hope that the next Vital show I go to -- hopefully the "fest" on the 23rd -- we'll finally get to hear "Forever Underground" again, or "Isolated Magick", period, as I don't remember them playing said song back in '06.
Despite having them down in the notes from some Metalfest or another, I apparently haven't actually seen this band before, as Jason (Mucopus, ex-Skinless) claimed that they hadn't been to this building since 2002, and I'm not sure that I recognized the members from previous "Origin" sets. Regardless, good sound, great execution, and a wall of triggers so fast and pervasive that they might as well have connected the drums directly to a strobelight allowed Origin to completely pulverize the crowd, and comprehensively meet and surpass expectations. Jason's a good addition, solid on vocals and with tons of character and presence; most of the mad stagediving and crowdsurfing is down to the music, but some of it surely was amped up by his persistent insistence on the DIY ethic and removing the gulf of the raised stage and front fence. In a venue like this, it isn't really "our stage too"; the bodybuilders in white shirts and walkie-talkies will still eject people if certain lines are crossed. But the thought still counts.
This was a strong set, but those fuckin' triggers, man. Doin' ma nut in. I can understand that this is kind of what Origin does, and like and appreciate the other stuff they do regardless, but the conversion of the drumkit into, effectively, a wicked loud metronome is the chief reason why I don't own any Origin records past Echoes of Decimation. I should, abstractly, listen to more of their stuff and see if there's more variation lately, but the content of this set kind of argues against doing that. I can take Origin a set at a time, or in that specific 25-minute dose, but more, like the triggers themselves, seems like overkill to these old and crabbit ears.
In between Origin and Hate Eternal, I, like about 40% of the crowd, got the hell out of the main room, ending up in the much cooler foyer while others ducked outside for a smoke or some fresher air. People had been doing this earlier -- when I originally went forward for Sexcrement, the heat in the moshpit area was like there was an oven open at shin level -- but this is where it really started to reach critical mass. The venue had the fans/AC going, but the system couldn't move enough air fast enough to deal with the body heat of 300 or so furious thrashers packed in at close quarters and running around like madmen. This didn't affect the bands -- on stage, you're pretty much melting all the time just from the lights -- but would have an unfortunate effect on the audience for Hate Eternal.
Hate Eternal [6/7]
This was one of the better sets I've seen from Hate Eternal in this building, but the issues that've plagued them here in the past were still evident as they, like a lot of the bands on this bill, got jobbed by the soundboard, losing a significant amount of clarity. This, as the foregoing observations indicate, is kind of a bad thing for technical death metal where lines need at least occasionally to stand apart rather than get smashed together, but the debit wasn't uniform, and the band's material, even muddied, is still strong enough to get through. Unfortunately, people were continually slipping out from the half-hour mark on; this set didn't deserve it, but with the heat being what it was, eventual fatigue was probably inevitable. Count me among the weaklings; I made it to two songs from the announced end before slipping out. I saw most of a very good Hate Eternal set, but missed out on not only the closer but any encore, which sucks. More training definitely needed; the requirements are different, and I'll be benefiting from "festival mode", but you need to be able to handle the heat in order to be able to do open airs.
The upside of leaving early was that I didn't get killed on the way home, and I've bounced back and marginally trained up enough to realistically look at three shows in four days over the weekend, starting with Truckfighters tonight. The merchpack is getting closer to its limit as well.