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.
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.