Monday, October 24, 2011

Impiety with Nachzehrer, Obsidian Tongue, and Blessed Offal [Ralph's, Worcester, 10/20/2011]

Despite getting stuck in a little late at work and the concern that this would end up packed, I got out in good order and over to Ralph's just about doors. There was a while till the bands started, but with a bill likely to draw this well, better safe than sorry.

Blessed Offal [5.5/7]
While this probably wasn't the best show I've seen from the band, it was probably the best-sounding. The Ralph's sound carried every instrument forward in good balance, really bringing out the blacker elements of their sound, which hasn't come forward as much in the past but was really obvious here. It seemed like they were running out of steam a bit towards the end of the set, but this was a dropoff from 'great' to 'really good'. This band has really established themselves on the last year or so as now one of the legit top Boston death metal bands, and they're only going to keep improving.

Marcus' beat-to-fuck China in front of Impiety's banner captures the dirt-level don't-give-a-fuck-ness of the balance of the bill.

It was about here that I did most of my merch, deciding against the Impiety shirt (in favor of a patch and about the most expensive CD-EP I've ever run across) because it would kick too big a hole in what I had in my wallet. One day, I'm going to remember to get loaded up cashwise before going out to see bands from far away on infrequent tours, but that day was not this time out.

Obsidian Tongue [5.5/7]
This was probably the best set I've seen from this band, as they continue to overcome their limited numbers with creativity and cabinet buildout. There were still a few sticking points that show they don't have all the answers yet, but they were greatly outnumbered by long stretches of the sublime. OT aren't quite yet in the top rank of black metal bands locally -- mostly due to intense competition -- but if any two-piece outfit can get to that level, they will.

Obsidian Tongue jamming with the lights on. Ralph's doesn't always render blue inside.

Having spent less than all my goddamn money on Impiety, I was able to pick up Blessed Offal's CD (having honor, I didn't rip the one that I brought over this summer), and at least pay for an Absu ticket off Nachzehrer, which by the time this is getting written up, is already in the post. Result.

Nachzehrer [6/7]
A strong return to form for Nachzehrer, though for the pessimistic, Nachzehrer playing at all, with all the members they had at the start of the month, might alone have qualified for that. Their thrashing black metal set things up well for Impiety, but more importantly was a kickass outing in its own right, and on any other Metal Thursday would have capped off a good and varied night of the contending definitions of NEBM. They justified their relative place on the bill, as much as that ever means at the local level, but in fairness all the locals were pretty close to this level in setting the bar for our guests.

Nachzeher keeping on rolling.

At this point, I was out of money thanks to grabbing a Hollenthon record off Bill Zebub's distro that I wasn't sure even existed, but Bobby, settling an old debt unprompted, set up my last drink of the night, something heavily alcoholic in a tall glass that didn't end up screwing up the drive home. Double result.

Impiety [7/7]
Of course, you don't haul over from Singapore (or, ok, well now, Italy), even just Shyaithan alone, to play slapdick shows. The stand-in sidemen held up well, and the result was a kickass and undeniably true Impiety set that justified the late hour, the long haul, and the room packed brimfull of damn near everyone in blackish metal in New England. When bands that don't tour play out, you go, because when they do play, they destroy.

Impiety tuning up.

More setup.

Shyaithan faces the audience.

After "Blood Ritual Defamation" led into "Torment In Fire" and the deliciously unlistenable tones of Anton Maiden took over the PA, it was time to split, dead skint but rich in music and experience. That part where I had only three bucks in my pocket prevented me from getting out to GWAR on Friday, but even I don't have infinite resources, and after I discovered that I was confused about the openers (I blame the Impaled guys for lying about the band's origin, Creepsylvania != Bulgaria, so obviously Ghoul != Corpse, despite the marginally similar logo, or maybe this is something that only morons get confused about), the Thursday night show was definitely more of an attraction. After the nine billion Halloween shows this coming weekend, next real gig is probably next Thursday....and then like every night in the first week of November, there's a Palladium show. Hello Mayhem, Cynic, Exhumed, and Anthrax (headliners, in that order, Sun thru Tues and Friday), goodbye cash.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Faces of Bayon with Led To The Grave, Forced Asphyxiation, and Demoralizer [Ralph's, Worcester, 10/13/2011]

This time around, I successfully had enough other shit to work on that getting out, fed, and over on time involved a pretty minimum amount of latency. I got out to Ralph's shortly after doors, but didn't have to waste a whole ton of time aimlessly browsing the Ragnarok distro table while waiting for the bands to start, and unlike last week, it was only one beer from inside to first notes.

Demoralizer [5.5/7]
If deathcore wasn't already a word -- and, more importantly, a deadly slur -- it would be appropriate to coin it for this band. I hadn't seen Demoralizer before, probably because they tend to play doomier and/or more hardcore bills than I tend to go to, on balance, but they kicked out a solid, chunky set here of violent, aggressive music drawing for both its riffs and intonation from death metal and from hardcore. Juan afterwards compared them to Autopsy, which I can definitely see]: old-styled death metal flavored with punk and grind vitriol. Though the vocalist nearly started a nerd fight bantering with Tony over, of course, Star Trek vs Star Wars, it was mostly the music that stayed violent for this set, early as it was in the night. This was a good performance, though the style isn't one that I'd necessarily go hunting a full bill of, and I'm definitely going to watch out for this band in the future.

On the vital question of Star Wars vs Star Trek, which is on course to be come the irrepressible conflict of the Boston scene, pitting the blue of the Federation science officers against the gray of, um, AT-AT walkers, let's go with that rather than those trade-alliance-space-Fu-Manchu-mandarins from The Phantom Menace, the answer is clear: both lose, because the fortress planet of Iserlohn is composed largely of liquid metal armor that would absorb, then out-radiate, the energy blast of the Death Star (fucking conductor physics, how does it work), and the reconfigurability of its weapons systems, both the Thor's Hammer and the normal gun emplacements, means that it could easily concentrate enough firepower to punch a hole in a Dyson sphere (which if you want to get really technical pretty much need to be made of tissue paper in order to be remotely resource-efficient, but whatever). Your humble author nerdfights for keeps, with the power of embarassingly deep kvltness.

Forced Asphyxiation [6/7]
FA, as entirely expected, smoothed those disputes out by getting the bill back on track with strong, traditional brutal death metal on traditional subjects: weed, corpses, weed, violence, mayhem, and yeah, a few songs about marijuana. For all the "Terrifying Hydroponic Carnage" label they put on their stuff, and for all the ease that people in the scene around here have in referring to any Force Asphyxiation song as being about weed, the signal change in this set was the relative lack of songs about pot (ok, "relative lack" here means "not every song is about weed", but still), despite getting more runtime than I think I've seen from them before. The band's songwriting is developing as surely as their execution; it's not that songs about weed are bad, or that there isn't a lot of room for other death metal subjects to get hackneyed, but constraint in lyrics leads to constraint in music, and the more varied topics Forced Asphyxiation puts into the lyrics, the more variation they're going to put together in the music. This was a good strong performance from a band that has every sign of continuing to develop; they're not quite in the top echelon of NEDM yet, but they're getting there, and the tour that this show kicked off is only going to help.

As mentioned, FA were out on the road for most of 19 days supporting Led To The Grave after this, so I bought a shirt to support and because it was pretty cool. The "most of" in there is because of how LTTG routed the tour; they quite sensibly started with three dates in Worcester, New Bedford, and Boston and will wind it up with a homecoming show out on the Cape; taking advantage of population density and an active local scene to add more dates at the start and end of a tour isn't cheesing, it's smart planning, as the bands get some shakedown days in front of presumably understanding audiences to work the bugs out and get used to playing out every night. The fact that it makes a more impressive itinerary without adding more days of sleeping in a van without showering is a side benefit.

Led To The Grave [5.5/7]
As noted back a bit, doing this tour is a challenge for Led To The Grave that they're going to have to meet eventually in order to decide how they continue as a band. On the evidence of this set, there's every indication that they're at least prepared to make that step up. There were still more than a few moments of "yeah, we've heard this before", but more of "wow, this is really cool" then previously. There is not as much unbroken ground in thrash metal now as there was 20 and 25 years ago, just due to the passage of time, but LTTG did show some signs here of at least differentiating themselves from those replacement-level associations. More of the stuff on the new EP is more different, and just better, than the stuff on their first record, and their live execution continues to improve. The difference between them and their nominal support is not quite as large as the granularity of the arbitrary numbers pasted here suggests, and other people might have marked their cards differently. This was one of the stronger sets I've seen from this band and a good tour kickoff; we'll see where they stand when they get back.

Already having a shirt in my belt and mindful of the giant piles in my closet, and also wanting to get a listen of the band's new stuff, I picked up the Sent To Burn EP from Led To The Grave and through a miscommunication got the Extreme Audio Gangbang split-7" as well. No problem with either of those; the EP is a decent enough record and the split includes not only one of LTTG's better songs, not available elsewhere, but also tracks from Dead Languages in what felt like a better presentation than I've heard from them on CD, and Macerated, whose demo from way back is probably at the bottom of a pile or something. Very cool.

Faces of Bayon [6/7]
In Which A Headliner Plays Four Songs, And Nearly Gets Yelled At For Running Over. As noted previously, Faces of Bayon have a habit of writing extremely long and grindingly heavy tunes; this set was about half of the meaty parts of Heart of the Fire, plus "So Mote It Be" after Matt confirmed that they had the time for one more. One more ten-plus-minute song might have been pushing it a little, but the band pushed it as well; relentlessly solid execution here as on any time I've seen this band. My personal preferences in doom may be coloring perceptions somewhat (first Cathedral record only or you're a false), but it's pretty undeniable that Faces of Bayon consistently produce solid, well-executed, heavy-as-fuck metal whenever given the opportunity. Killer stuff.

Following the close-up of festivities, I dumped my remaining wallet contents on the Ragnarok table, picking up stuff from Dormant and Abaroth, both of which proved their mettle on the drive home. I'm on call now, but tomorrow, Impiety's bringing the wrath to these trembling halls: if I miss out on that, not only do I miss probably my only chance to ever see Impiety, but there might not be a Ralph's left for another Metal Thursday.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Necronomichrist with Summoning Hate, Excrecor, and Ramius [Ralph's, Worcester, 10/6/2011]

As is apparently becoming usual now that I've cleared a lot of backlog and reduced my load of busywork, I left too early due to a lack of stuff to stay occupied with in the office, flew over the highways due to a lack of traffic and roadworks (at least on the way out, coming back was another story), and got in well ahead of technical doors, nabbing an early beer downstairs and killing some time while staying out of the way of the bands setting up. Round about 9 I actually headed in, picking up another drink; due to the long drive, I tend to monitor consumption per unit time pretty strictly when I'm out here, which indicates how stupid-early I got in. Maybe I need to start playing KoL again to kill time.

Anyway, the bands loaded in and soon enough got started.

Ramius [5/7]
This was apparently their first show ever, and it kinda showed via the lack of material; four songs prepared, total, even if they were pretty good songs. Soundwise, the best description of Ramius is pretty much late-period Death, without the LIMIT BREAK and run through some more modern filters. Their approach to death metal is obviously rooted in said band -- "Omegaton" is substantially cribbed from "Crystal Mountain", which they went on to play immediately after it -- but like most bands just starting out, they don't quite have the chops to handle the whole thing. There's nothing wrong with this, of course -- there's no shame, as a guitarist, in not being Chuck Schuldiner, just as drummers should take no heat for not being Gene Hoglan or bassists for falling short of Steve DiGiorgio -- and it's good to see bands challenging material and styles like this, but they're not quite there yet. Still a good set, despite the limited material and the down tempos on some of "Crystal Mountain", and there's every indication that they'll get better as they gain more experience as a band.

For reference, the band pronounces their name as "RAY-mi-uss" rather than "RAH-mi-oos", probably because unlike their mascot, they're not themselves Lithuanian.

Excrecor [6/7]
Another set, another great performance from Excrecor. Some people may want a caveat here, that the author is a hardcore Hypocrisy fan and his experiences may not match the mean, but I assert that someone who does not dig Carcass, mid-90s Hypocrisy, and occasional 1997-vintage In Flames digressions hammered into a seamless and originally-developed whole is not someone who is even at death metal shows. They did a couple of new ones here, off the record that's still under development, and if the material they brought out here is a representative indication, that's also going to be a solid fucking record, in the vein of Synchronicity if not better. We may have occasional blank spots in our coverage of the full death metal spectrum in New England, but we've got some really good bands in the range that we cover.

In here I picked up my last beer, and a bottle opener from Necronomichrist. My Coctopus one is still holding up pretty well, but since I already had Excrecor's last record and wasn't up for a shirt, there weren't a whole lot of merch options at this show. Eventually, that opener will break unrepairably, and I'll have a backup on hand.

Summoning Hate [6.5/7]
Between the sound, the volume of material, and the total execution, this was one of the best if not the absolute best set that I've seen from Summoning Hate. This is a pretty significant mark given how many good sets I've seen from this band over the last five years, but this was a nice long set of killer material well-delivered, which also saw one of the few legitimate mosh pits (as distinct from "dudes stand in a circle while Dan thrashes around from wall to wall") I've seen at Metal Thursday lately, and some vicious hardcore dancing on the breakdown at the start of "Decimated". They brought out a new one amid some technical difficulties -- first Juan's guitar cables not working, then Juan and Alex keeping in synch with each other and Chris -- but these weren't enough to suppress the mass coolness of that song, let alone drag down the set as a whole. Simply killer.

Perhaps more significant than how good this set was is that Summoning Hate is apparently writing (more) new material, which suggests the possibility of new recordings sometime in the non-distant future. This band is and has been awesome, but they haven't recorded/released anything since they were going by Downfall, and even that's been out of print for years. This is one of the better death metal bands in Boston, but there's not really a lot of evidence that can be presented for that argument without seeing them live.

Necronomichrist [5.5/7]
The band's a little rebalanced since last time, which has had a definite effect on their sound. By going down to one guitar and bringing the keyboards more forward, they now sound less like Vital Remains b-sides and more like turn-of-the-millennium Hypocrisy covering Vital Remains b-sides. Dumb and snide jokes aside, this was a good solid performance, even if listening to that s/t the whole way out colored my impressions of what the band was working from. Necronomichrist is also working on a new record, and the newer stuff that they did here is a clear step both up and forward from the last CD: it's more developed, a little more technical and better-composed, and at least in this presentation significantly less Vital-influenced. As with, really, all of the bands on here, when they bring that one out eventually, it's definitely going to be one to look out for.

Necronomichrist closed up and/or ran out of material around one, and I beat feet for the exits. After waiting through most of "Until The End" for the windscreen to defrost, I headed out for the highway, and that would've been the end of it if I hadn't run into Milo randomly at the McDonald's at the Natick rest stop. I essentially communicated the above on SH's set, though without the frustrated whining about the lack of recorded material. We'll see what they have for that show on the 15th as regards any more new stuff, or fewer fillips on the on they rolled out tonight; I go on call next weekend, but that O'B's show is worth packing the phone and bending the rules.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

(Kallathon) with Nachzehrer, Deathamphetamine, Axeman, Katahdin, and Ramlord [PT-109, **REDACTED**, 10/1/2011]

Earlier in the day, I'd been hiking around Boston, picking up some stuff from Armageddon and having some interrelated adventures that would have both positive and negative results. The negative was that due to insufficiently hardcore socks or insufficiently repaired boots, I ended up with a two-euro-sized blister on my heel that was on the verge of turning into a two-euro-sized hole in my foot. The positive was that, stopping to fix that on the steps outside the Museum of Science, I ran into two Brits as I was getting up who commented on my Tankard hoodie. This led to a brief exchange of information, not only about the record shop I was coming from, but the gig I was going to, and while Dave and Emma didn't end up coming out, it's always good, in a new city, to find out where the metal stuff is -- and Armageddon and PT-109 (the exact address I didn't provide and can't remember, having forgotten it as soon as I memorized the navigation) are pretty damn good as regards record stores and DIY venues, respectively.

Having gotten back home, I stupidly didn't dress the hole in my foot before heading in again; some of this was time constraints, but a lot of it was just the casual disregard for life and limb that I normally go with. I cached my car and stumped over, and despite the wounded-bird limp, got over well ahead of doors and had to hide out for a bit before eventually holding the door open for Ramlord and getting on inside. Bad timing is worse on DIY venues; most of the time, you're locked out, and then have to not be seen for a couple minutes to avoid pulling aggro.

Eventually, of course, I got in and hanging out, and should have paid for, well, something at this point, but Mike Nachzeher ended up comping me their cassette that was being released at this show and refused my fiver to get in. As with prior incidences, I tried not to let this color show impressions; $5 is not a lot to pay for a show of any kind, especially a good one, and the money I saved here ended up getting recycled towards the unexpected touring bands, so things kind of worked out in the end.

Ramlord [5/7]
I hadn't seen these guys before, but from their merch setup, they have some member overlap with Ultra//Negative, which kind of showed in the music. Looking much more like a crust/punk band than a black metal combo, they smashed out raw, mostly simplified black/crust in line with that punk ethos. This kind of apparent "crossover" would have been impossible a few years ago, but in modern days punks have also figured out what the historians of black metal noticed as soon as Norway started diversifying: black metal is punk rock with an escape hatch, where you can play raw, brutal, violent music, then develop that into more melodic or more rarefied avenues without losing the raw DIY audience that shows up to gigs like these. Ramlord took a couple of these turns, of course, bringing in touches of punk, hardcore, and third-wave in various places, but still of course to good effect. Ramlord is nothing resembling a standard black metal band, bridging several scenes with those elements, but whether you define them as more black metal or more punk, they're a pretty good one, regardless.

That this opinion was shared by the audience here was made obvious by the conditions of their merch stand later; by the time I hit them up, they were out of Ramlord music, so I ended up nabbing an Ultra//Negative tape and a couple Ramlord buttons. Maybe not quite patch-level -- and I'm running out of space regardless -- but still cool.

Katahdin [5.5/7]
Katahdin sounded notably better than previously in this space, even beyond me just being in the building for their whole set. They kept the raw sound of the room, but were either more in tune or more consonant than before, producing a better final effect. They're still short a bassist, but in only a technical sense: Katahdin works fine without a bass player, and I'm pretty sure that nobody actually missed that dimension here.

Axeman [6/7]
I was running low on beer on this point, and thus pretty well oiled, so I wasn't immediately sure which of the several possible Black Twilight Circle bands that had been discussed as late adds to this bill was actually playing. I recognized some of the dudes from Volahn way back, but that's hardly a definitive indicator given the rat's-nest member pool of this group of bands. As it eventually came out, this was Axeman making a rare live return, and the violent, hard-hitting black metal they provided meshed in well with the rest of the bill. There were some comments made about excessive space-rock-isms on some of these bands after the fact, but Axeman's guitar tone didn't sound that way at all: either it wasn't, or the long-suffering PT-109 PA system was hitting critical levels of abuse.

It was wicked packed at this point, and on after, so I wasn't able to go get what ended up being a Volahn tape and patch until much later (after Nachzehrer had stormdetonated like, the entire venue, but that's a story that's coming in a few grafs). Mostly for a lack of Axeman merchandise and a lack of familiarity with the totality of the BTC catalog rather than any special preference; I want to support the bands, I know I like Volahn, and when I eventually manage to corral a working tape player that won't destroy its inputs, I want to have a souvenir of this show that I'll determinatively dig listening to.

Deathamphetamine [5.5/7]
This was about the drunkest and most hardcore set I've seen out of Deathamphetamine, digging back to older material from before my acquaintance with the band as well as more modern stuff. Despite guest spots all over the set from Mr. Evan Williams, they stayed solid and on point for most of the set, including some other special guest appearances from Eric from Katahdin on bass to cover some Poison Idea, and Mike from Nachzehrer on Mel Gibson well, pretty much everywhere. DIY, motherfuckers. The crowd was starting to get earnestly violent as well, aided by more space, allegedly from "tourists" vacating since one BTC band didn't immediately follow the other.

Nachzehrer [5/7]
As befitting the nominal headliners of a release show at a DIY space, Nachzehrer set things off immediately, and to devastatingly chaotic effect; it could be argued that this was maybe too devastating and too chaotic, because Mike's movement, and later the crowd's reaction, generated a host of human and environmental casualties in its wake. This was still decent, despite the loss or effective loss of a couple members at several points, and cabs getting punched over and stuff; full credit to Alex, Paul, and Erik for pulling things through and keeping things locked down under some trying conditions. Nachzehrer have definitely played better than this, and may have preferred this set to go down differently than it did, but they still put up a decent representation of their sound to those people who may have come along for the touring bands despite the circumstances.

Despite the risk of getting branded a tourist, I had to bail at this point; I had to ferry my brother to a race in New Hampshire in five hours, and I was having a tough time standing up thanks to the hole in my foot. It hurt to miss Kallathon, but not as much as soldiering on with a huge undressed wound and crashing into a tree in the morning would have. I limped out, picked up my whip, and headed home for a brief nap before the alarms went off again. About the drama subsequent, I'm keeping mostly schtum as it's none of my goddamned business. What can be observed is not much more than this: there are a multitude of ways to do DIY music. The bands that are successful, either at the DIY level or in breaking out of it, tend to sooner or later get everyone on the same page as regards how the band's going to approach DIY. Those that don't tend to end up on the casualty lists. We'll see which way this Wendepunkt weht.

Next up, Metal Thursday -- and enough training at work tomorrow that I really ought to be able to get that out on schedule. There's still technically a hole in my foot, and I've still got the same boots on, but fucking duct tape, how does it work.

Here Is Your Goddamned Infernal Combustion Archive Link

I refer to Infernal Combustion far too much for a satirical webzine that published most of its relevant numbers more than a decade ago. This is because Keith Bergman and Mark Tinta put together some awesome writing in an era in which there was a lot less stuff on the internet, and it's had some staying power. This is where that Amon Amarth copypasta comes from, as well as what I'm referring to when I talk about Hypocrisy and Gamma Ray wrecking a hotel room, or attribute certain guidelines on music to King Fowley. ("...[I]f it's not on vinyl and I don't own the band's backpatch, it's probably homosexual!") So go read it, and whine that the Wayback Machine folks have the later, Roadrunner/Blabbermouth-aegised content stored under a different hierarchy.

Also, if you got here from a misformed phpBB URL wrapper for a picture on a site for Ukranian prostitutes, please leave a comment explaining how that even happens. I get referrer spam all the time, but seldom is it this obviously sketchy or this functionally impossible.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Sapremia with Engorged, Avernus Ortus, and Seax [Ralph's, Worcester, 9/15/2011]

The program on this Metal Thursday shows that the organizers are true, deep, Motorhead fans; the construction of this program was simple and direct: Seax and death (metal). After the weekend, I wanted to see the aforementioned on a proper stage, and by no way was missing Engorged on probably their last gig ever. So out it was, getting in a little early as the roadworks were less severe than anticipated, and unwinding a little before the bands went on.

Seax [5/7]
What they gained in the larger stage set, they kind of lost in immediacy; Seax handled themselves well, but they've got to work a bit on the logistic side of things. The music was good, but the set wasn't as strongly organized as it should've been, and they got cut off at the end for running over their allotted time. Nevertheless, they got a full death metal crowd screaming along to "High On Metal", and definitely should be satisfied with that result.

Side note: it is by now out of line for anyone, let alone some shithead with an interblag, to use the "p" word in relation to Carmine, but dude, diving down to make faces at the camera where the music doesn't demand it is exactly what Def Leppard were doing when it was coined. Aint sayin, just sayin.

Avernus Ortus [6/7]
We do not have death metal like this in New England, really, and this is why even in the modern internet age where anyone can be influenced by anyone anywhere, bands still need to tour. A.O (Crowleyism not really warranted, but I have to suck up to Ipsissimus somehow) smashed out a direct and ruinous set of punishingly technical brutal death metal, utterly unconcerned with any other style or influence. The various slamming, thrashy, and bestial styles of death we have around in eastern New England are cool and all, but there's also a need, at times, for this kind of direct and uncompromised brutality, and it's good to see that it's still alive and kicking elsewhere in the underground.

Unfortunately, they didn't have anything for sale; they got a good enough response, though, that they'll almost surely be back, and hopefully packing some CDs or shit, because this was seriously good music.

Engorged [6/7]
In addition to being their second gig in 17 years, and their last gig ever, this was also Engorged's inaugural performance in their hometown; there was no Metal Thursday 20 years ago when they were getting started, and though you'd never know it now with how well Ralph's and Oasis are doing, by the existence of the Wheelchair, and the fact that the friggin Palladium is in town, it was at one time impossible to book metal in Worcester. Go fig. Regardless, they of course killed it, perhaps even overtopping their Bobfest set, to a crowd more or less evenly split between old heads who'd followed them to Boston and Newport back in the day, and folk who were in grade school when they broke up. The circle's complete, and if you missed these two sets of essentialist 90's death metal, you've got to be satisfied with Fires of Old and Faces of Bayon -- well, that or spam NWN until they agree to rerelease their demo to shut you the fuck up.

Sapremia [6/7]
Last in line, Sapremia up from Jersey, and as much as Lou talked about the difficulties of following three bands killing it in such strong and diverse ways, they were able to pull it off, with their characteristic grooving brutality following naturally on from Engorged -- as you'd expect from a band of the same era that's been reunited and active for a while, moving forward -- and bridging the gap towards Avernus. This was where the crowd got its most turbulent, Dan at one point getting flipped completely over, and the band got into the act as well, dragging Chris on stage to play some bass (unrehearsed live, but dood was in Zircon, so of course he had it drilled down) on one of their tunes so that Lou could take some turns in the pit between verses. All in all, a killer capstone to an awesome night.

After Sapremia closed up, it didn't feel that late, maybe just because this had only been four bands and I was still in festival mode from Bobfest. Regardless, I split, and true to form it was like 2 in the morning before I got home. Work's been ruinous since, but the worst is temporarily over.

Bobfest day 3 [O'Brien's, Allston, 9/11/2011]

Whether it was the later start or mini-festival mode, I was up and ready for another day of Bobfest well in time, getting in early to a nearly empty O'B's. The crowds were down on the day; no big headliner, and it was a Sunday show, but still, these were good bands, and those who missed it or didn't stick around for the duration missed out. This is a festival; you pay the same at 2pm as at two minutes to midnight, so you might as well come down early and get value for money.

Seax [5.5/7]
"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
It's long been a contention of mine that a performance is a performance, whatever venue it's in, and that such performances are directly comparable across the whole spectrum from arenas to DIY basements. The corollary to that is that bands need to approach every set that way, whether they're headlining the True Stage or opening up for the proverbial puppet show. On this evidence, Seax at least have the latter half of that covered. They were playing to me, Wren, the sound guy, the doorman, the bar staff, and whichever half of Dry Heave happened to be inside at any point in time, but you could have transplanted the band's actual performance out to any stage in the world without it feeling out of place. The self-conscious may wince at this kind of acrobatic, ceaselessly old-school heavy metal being delivered with such passion in such an empty room, but you cannot do this kind of music without that passion, even in this setting, and be able to deliver it with the necessary fire on the open-air stages of the continent. Maybe Wacken isn't waiting for these guys, but if they can keep it up, Headbangers Open Air is definitely a possibility...and probably more what they're aiming at anyways.

It was still a little early, but I took the time now to get dinner rather than waiting around till when the bands would get thicker and more personally interesting. If you're ever at an all-day event at O'Brien's where there's no barbecue (which Born of Fire and the TDB guys like to do when they do longer events), I highly recommend Asia Wok. They do a decent likely-vegan but still carnivore-palatable mapo tofu, and the bar staff will let you chow down inside with your beer as long as you aren't spilling shit everywhere.

Dry Heave [5/7]
I'm not really sure that I can immediately rate hardcore, but this was a decent set to eat dinner to, and pretty good even with that filter. The music was mostly brutal and punchy in the vein of Hatebreed, but still good enough in that frame -- and let's face it, Boston hxc likes brutality and heaviness, so it's not like this is a barrier or anything -- that I was quite bummed that I wasn't able to get ahold of their demo. Maybe I'll see them on a mixed grind bill sometime, maybe I'll actually bestir myself and pick it up off the internet. So geht's.

Jack Burton vs. David Lo Pan [5.5/7]
If you've been ignoring this band because of their somewhat silly name, you're wrong. Fix it immediately. (And if this is the same band that's now billing themselves as Lo Pan, you have even less of an excuse.) JBvDLP was easily the best of the local bands I hadn't heard before on this festival, mixing killer, vicious grindcore with doom and Motorhead touches to awesome and devastating effect. You need to know about this band, and get ahold of their material if/when possible.

Haxen [5.5/7]
Das handelt nix um Schweinshaxe, das ist black metal. (Naja, Schweinshaxe sind ein bisschen Krieg, aber seit Nargaroth ist alles Krieg.) This was a good set that is not worth idiotic German old-man-jokes, in the most part a near-perfect read-down of early Burzum and Emperor that leveraged the slightly messy room sound to good effect. They've got some room to grow, but they've already established their place as one of the cooler black metal bands in eastern New England.

Because I have a general southward limit of about the Pike, or at least the lower 128 belt, as regards going to shows, I'm late to the party on this, but to the extent that anyone outside the region actually reads this, any black metal band from Rhode Island is getting to be categorically worth a second look. Between Haxen, Bog of the Infidel, WIWC, and yes, even Graveside Service (did you know Scott from Xasthur once recorded some bass tracks for them? NO WAY THAT IS A REVELATION THE BAND DOESN'T CEASELESSLY NAMEDROP HIM EVERY TIME THEY'RE MENTIONED ON THE INTERNET), RIBM is much better than any such geographically-limited subscene really has a right to be, and these and other bands from the state deserve the attention they're getting.

Finisher [5.5/7]
Continuing in the line of good sets from good bands I hadn't seen before, Finisher set out a strong performance of grinding, occasionally manic doom metal. They might have blended in a little better the day before, with Elder and Phantom Glue on the program, but appearing here pumped up the diversity on the day for Sunday, which ranging from Seax to Composted and JBvDLP was already pretty wide.

As alluded a while back, I did successfully pass the "dino metal" idea on to Mark. No idea if they'll actually do anything with it, but it's out there.

Composted [6/7]
As should have been expected from a festival performance on this date, Composted stepped it up with their gimmicks, FOR FREEDUMS. This was killer outing of slams, even if the soundboard didn't fully deliver their Hulk Hogan, TA:WP, and Lee Greenwood samples, and the balance of props was just enough to get the band's essence across without impeding the delivery of the music under the time constraints involved. Though they've been playing out less lately, Composted still has it, and will be making weird noises for the foreseeable future.

Witch Tomb [6/7]
Nae Strep Cunt, nae Witch Tomb. Regardless of juvenile bitching about lineup changes, this was a kickass set of Witch Tomb's characteristic alienating black metal, but the distance between this band and other Beckwith Bros. projects (see also Hirudinea) is kind of decreasing. Still, good, and we'll see what develops.

I and probably most other people in the Boston metal scene would rather that these bands all continued on their separate axes, but if what happens instead is a convergence and an eventual resolidification, under that name or something else, of something approaching the Completely Dehumanized-era December Wolves lineup, we would probably be ok with that.

Engorged [6/7]
Back from seventeen years off, without any sign of missing a beat. (Of course, I don't have direct points of comparison, because the last previous show this band played, I was probably standing on a parking lot holding up a trumpet as a shortarse Sicilian DI yelled at me, because that was what I was doing for most nights in the last half of 1994.) Nearly everyone in the band is still active in the scene, of course, but not playing music this remorselessly fast, brutal, and technical, really recapturing that essence of 90's death metal from this region; some grooves foreshadowing slam that probably filtered up from Long Island, and a light blackening in places reminiscent of how Vital was evolving next door in Rhode Island. Absolutely straight-up killer.

Fires of Old [6/7]
I hadn't seen this band in a while, but the differences and changes are all for the positive, much like the metastasis of spikes and barbed-wire on their now nearly-unhandleable main mic stand. Cutting down to a three-piece (and, incidentally, a functional subset of Engorged) has definitely sharpened the sound, and the more Primordial-esque elements are both new and to good strong effect, improving the music and setting them apart from others in New England. The only debit was the set length; festivals do that, but I really need another headlining outing from this band. Kickass.

At this point, it was getting late, I had work in the morning, and a two-mile hike in front of me; I stepped out, giving KYOTY a pass. That hurt, even of itself because this is a good band we're talking about here, but more so because I ended up getting back home shortly after midnight, even with that hike and pounding across the highways. I probably could have stuck, and failing to fails it. Regardless, I got turned around, and back into the swing of work without killing myself. Festival successfully negotiated; onsite accommodations and Thur-Sat might have made it go better, but as noted, that's not the way fests work on this continent....yet.