Minimally impeded by traffic, I got out to Worcester pretty early, but still more or less on time, enough to unwind, notice the B's had gone a further two up since I left the sub shop back in the 128 belt, and start drinking before the bands went on.
With what felt like a longer, and an indisputably more developed set than last time, Lore took a big step forward here in terms of both quality and metalness. The band's focus was a lot more apparent, and if it's still amenable to easy description, you're not going to go wrong with a band that is basically Behold... the Arctopus with both more prominent post-hardcore roots and a tighter hold on Atheist (and to a lesser extent, the rest of the first wave of art-death). There's still room for improvement, if you can tell that the guitar's prone to filling stuff in with doublet progressions through moderately obscure scales, or that a few riffs (such as bands like this have them, anyway) in "Black and White" are cut almost pattern-exact from Arctopus material, but they're definitely on the right track, and there's so much raw talent obvious in the band that further development is pretty much guaranteed. Depending on the particular direction, they may get more or fewer metal bills in the future, but this is definitely a band to keep an eye on.
This turned out to be "underrated band makes large improvements night", as will be seen in the rest of this post, only breaking down slightly on the headliners.
Their first show was pretty decent, but Ramius have only taken it up from there. This set presented a convincing picture of a band that have their feet thoroughly under them, and have the potential, at least, to make some significant waves. The Death references that characterized that prior show have been pared back, both by song selection and by changes to the material; those that remain still feel forced, but more importantly less consistent, as the bulk of their set was going in a completely different direction, a slightly less technical and more atmospheric blend of modern death metal, like if Hypocrisy spent a lot more time listening to Kalmah, or vice versa. There are still some rough edges, and with a band this new it's not yet set in stone which way they're going, let alone going to go, but the potential is definitely there. Very good stuff if they can keep it going, hammer the burrs out, and get it on record.
In the interest of completeness and the futile pursuit of objectivity, it should be noted that the arbitrary number pasted next to the band name does not include adjustments for a 95% pitch-perfect Primordial cover. "The Coffin Ships" is fairly long and pretty tough, but ultimately it's still a cover, and a pretty obvious one at that. (Other bands wishing to pander to openly biased fenians in the audience may wish to consider "The Soul Must Sleep" or "Death of the Gods", then reconsider based on the fact that this song saw the largest audience outflow of any single point in the night.)
Other people in the audience shouted at the start that it didn't matter, but it certainly did: 3/4 of Excrecor turned in a good, solid performance, but one that was undermined by the fact that their bassist wasn't there. The band remains good enough, and good enough at songwriting, that they were able to overcome a lot of the deficit, but ultimately Excrecor writes their stuff for two guitars, one bass, and a drumset, and expects that it's going to be performed that way as well. It's good for the band that said material is good enough to mostly survive not being performed that way, but out in the audience most people, even those who most loudly wonder what bass players are for, even, would probably rather that it was. This was still a good performance, and in any metal band, yes, you are going to get the rhythm guitar line doubling up the bass a fair bit of the time, but the improvement Excrecor's made over previous outings was masked by being under-strength.
In here I did basically all of my merch; no Excrecor shirts on offer, so I picked up a swack of BotG stickers for a nominal fee, mostly for the purpose of passing out this summer. RFM coming, seriously.
Blood of the Gods [5.5/7]
The specious pointscore may not pick it up, but BotG continued the general improvement wave, smashing out a full, rounded set of their characteristicly dense, sludgy, punk-infected death-grind. The crowd, for whatever reason, didn't respond as strongly as might have been anticipated, but the music itself was still crushing, and delivered with what seemed like more energy than I've seen from the band previously, likely from actually having a stage big enough for everyone to move around on; I haven't seen them this high off the floor, or with proper space for a five-piece, since they opened for Morne last year, and back then it was like 1 in the afternoon. Solid, solid stuff, and the sooner they get another record together the better.
Show concluded, I beat feet for the highway and managed to get back in what I thought was good order. Family turbulence and being on call this week have delayed this, and will cause me to miss Summoning Hate tonight, but everything is wrapped up in time for Bobfest.