Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Abigail Williams with Nachzehrer, Dysentery, and Mythology [Ralph's, Worcester, 1/31/2012]

Not being a Thursday, I didn't have as much cleanup to do at work and as a consequence got bored faster and started out earlier. I accordingly got out earlier, chawed the fat with various dudes from the Boston-area openers, drank an extra beer, and in all ways killed more time than absolutely necessary while the bands got set up to go on. Soon enough, though, Mythology was ready, and things got rolling.

Mythology [5.5/7]
The intervening weeks have done the band good; Mythology came out faster, tighter, harder, and better than last time; there were a few desynchs and a couple places where the sound might have used another guitar to keep the rhythm churning, but this was a step up from last time and definitely within the margin of error as regards replicating the power that they present on record. In the first slot, they didn't have the time for as long a set, but kept it vital, with a new song or two in the mix with the stuff from The Impaler, and matching up pretty well. Chris/Gallows expressed the hope that the next time they came back, they'd have a new record out; hopefully, this is more from "we've got it mostly written and will be recording in the immediate future" and less from "we've played here twice in the last 30 days, Chris is gonna put us on OFF THE LIST for like two years". There is, as often noted, kind of an oversupply of good metal bands in this part of the country, and the MT orgas do try to rotate through them as consistently as they can, but there are a lot of Metal Thursdays and MT-branded shows in the calendar, and it's not impossible that Mythology might be back before the leaves fall, especially if they can get a new record done and out by the end of the summer.

In the break, I picked up two records from Abigail Williams, because I wanted to support the touring band, was not down for vinyl, and without listening to their current iteration was not going to endorse them by adding to my shirt pile. At least one of these records was a critical mistake. I haven't listened to the other one yet. More on this further down.

Dysentery [7/7]
Whether despite or because of the fact that they were singularly ill-matched to the rest of the bill (Drew noted beforehand that "this is the grimmest show we've played on in, like, ever"), Dysentery came out with all guns blazing and smashed up the crowd with an explosive, near perfectly-pitched set of tooth-shattering slam-death. Yes, this was completely the wrong audience, and yes, the pit action was so pitiful that Will didn't even bother hectoring the crowd to move around more, but the actual musical performance delivered was complete top class. Via almost perfect lock-in between the band members and skullcrushing levels of absolute volume, Dysentery imposed their will on the audience and left people if not rapt in awe, at least too stunned to resist. The skill and professionalism levels in this band are at just ridiculous levels for a band that still has not quite gotten out of the regional DM underground; expect sets this killer when you see them, expect pit violence on a completely different level, and expect that Internal Devastation and more touring with more performances this good will get Dysentery more national sooner rather than later.

I did get shirts from Dysentery and Nachzehrer, via the perpetually attractive combo of 1) band is killer and 2) design kicks ass. I have far too many shirts and need to purge them in the intermediate future, but as long as good bands keep putting together cool designs, I keep getting stuck buying more of them.

Nachzehrer [6.5/7]
Nachzehrer's sound is really and immediately different when cut down to a four-piece, and there were parts in this set where the absence of Erik's guitar was really, really felt. That being said, though, the material that they brought out was so strong that even with the reduced instrumentation, the quality eventually cut through. The 4/5ths of the band present executed damn well, and covered their misses equally well, allowing the writing and composition to do the talking. "...on the shores of Sheol" may not have made it onto the split with Ipsissimus, but if it's a representative sample of that recording session, that only speaks better for the material that is going in, which will hopefully get these thrashing black satanisms into more ears. Class set even under-strength, and the prospect of performances this good with the band's full complement is something to be looked forward to for metalheads along the Yankee part of the 95 corridor.

Before going on to hear about Abigail Williams, it may be worth checking in with my assessment of the band from five years ago, almost to the weekend.

Abigail Williams [6/7]
Score is not adjusted for apparel; if you want to, then THAT'S A FUCKING 50 DKP MINUS!!!, to mix nerd memes. In contrast to everything that had been bruited about previously in regards "symphonic" black metal, what we got was for the most part a Forest Stream cover band influenced heavily by Agalloch, WITTR, and Drudkh. The Cascadian bands don't tour often, and Drudkh and Forest Stream don't tour the US at all, so having this style come by is welcome, but everything Abigail Williams did in this set was so obviously a remanufacturing of that period of Russian black-doom as to make the performance less a set for appreciating and more for cutting apart to see which riffs came from Radigost and which were more like Painful Memories or Mental Home. People who don't happen to have been steeped in this particular subscene might have found this performance less of an academic exercise, but an extremely unscientific sampling of such individuals (sample space=people snarking in the show thread on RTTP post-facto) finds that these people tend not to like Forest Stream as much as I do, which makes it basically a wash.

As briefly alluded to above in a couple places, this performance bore no resemblance to how they were in '07, and also almost no resemblance to how they originally reinvented themselves on record. The following was stuck to the front of my copy of In The Shadow of A Thousand Suns:

For the bad at reading blurry writing, that last sentence, which reads "For fans of Dimmu Borgir & Emperor.", is the only part of this sticker that is remotely true for the record it was pasted on, mostly because anyone willing to put up with a subpar remake of Covenant's Nexus Polaris album is probably into Emperor and Dimmu. More important than the lack of quality or any kind of interesting material is the fact that this midpoint shows that the band have now reinvented themselves twice (provided the sample from this gig sticks, and was not just a response to getting the fear relative to their ability to outdo Mythology and Nachzehrer). This is like Spinal Tap talking through their transition from skiffle group to Maiden-in-all-but-name, but at least their taste is improving. In '07, they were a subpar Sacrilege, and by dint of this record they were a second-rate Covenant sometime before the end of 2008....and now, at the turn of 2012, they make a passable synthetic Forest Stream substitute. I'm not holding out any great hope that In The Absence of Light will be good or even interesting to listen to (if nothing else, any surprise will be pleasant), but I'm at least glad I got it to get another data point in.

I managed to successfully avoid to crashing into anything in the pea-soup fog coming home, but it's up in the air as to whether I'll make it out to actual Metal Thursday tomorrow. I should, in the abstract, but concretely this is determined by a multivariate equation involving exhaustion, gas levels, and spare cash. We'll see what's next.