The sun was still going down as I headed out, and the light wasn't completely gone by the time I got into Ralph's. Summer is a'comin' in, arise, arise. Despite the less familiar environment, this wsn't actually all that early, and despite the three-band (declared) lineup, it wasn't too long before Crypter snuffed out the candles at their merch stand (fire safety: wicked metal) and hit the stage.
Since last time, Crypter's solidified a little, gotten somewhat more uniformly thrashy, and ditched their hand-drawn scrims. The result was a concrete step up; they still have a couple issues with riffs feeling pasted together, and some songs are significantly better composed than others, but the band's also starting to assert a sense of self beyond the fusion of their interests, and they're also not really following on from the rest of the thrash revival except via echoes of Witchaven. While those Angelenos are fusing Dark Angel with Mayhem, Crypter's take on that influence pull is more of adding Damned In Black to early Death, and the blend is a little smoother at this point when it was before. When they finally get to the point of having stuff recorded, it's definitely going to be something to watch for.
Fallout from the war. (I can do this, the drummer in question is filling in and was wearing a Title Fight shirt.) Despite a modest six-piece kit, Crypter's drummer played with stick-destroying violence through their whole set. There are pieces of at least four and perhaps as many as five drumsticks on the floor; on the last song it looked like he was playing on one hand with the butt end of a stick he'd smashed the tip off of.
I was interested to see how Seax was going to sound with a second guitar, but literally 30 seconds into "Need For
PeenSpeed", Mick blew a string out, and didn't get back up and tuned until the end of "Molten Iron". There were other technical difficulties -- blown strings, a stage barely big enough for five members with these energy levels, toilet paper, the worst and lamest pun exchange in the history of the world, and an audience obsessed with yelling "PENIS" over any lyrics or title that it would scan against -- but Seax came through them without anyone smashing their headstock off or getting punched. The second guitar, as usual, thickens up the sound, allowing Matt more room to drop critical bass bombs all over everything instead of just sitting in to keep the rhythm going while Hell solos. It wasn't the smoothest of outings, but it was a hella kickass performance, and there's every expectation that Seax will continue to improve as they work over more of their old stuff for two guitars.
Mick gets jumped into Seax, for values of 'jumped' to include 'covered in toilet paper'. This, like the penis jokes, started during Crypter and reached its apogee here.
Old James [6/7]
Aggressor was supposed to be playing this originally when they were on tour, but when that tour was cancelled due to another tour supporting Annihilator back in Canada, the half of the band that isn't in Old James and hadn't booked an off-date in Boston at Bobfest two days previously didn't bother coming down. The Stephensons, though, came out regardless and smashed through a class set with their new project as long as they were going to be driving back anyways, including a couple Aggressor songs despite the minor problem of the bassist not actually knowing the material. Graham, though, is a badass and was able to play off Brian's changes, aided by the fact that if it's thrash metal, an open E is often an acceptable default. The Old James stuff came off better, southern- and alt-tinged thrash reminiscent of what a lot of bands were doing at the turn of the '90s: never explicitly following Faith No More, Pantera, or Alice In Chains, but definitely picking up on the strands that went into these bands at that time. It was cool stuff, if in significant contrast to the leather-and-spikes speedthrash on the rest of the bill and that we'd gotten on the Aggressor cuts.
Graham reading Brian's hands to try and figure out what comes next in "Million Dollar Slaughter".
Old James, though, is kind of a new band, and ran out of material after about six or seven tunes, after which it became kind of a jam session, rotating members out over a devolving sequence of "Graham learns songs off Kill 'Em All in the process of playing them live" until it ended up with him jamming along to "Motorbreath" with 3/5 of Seax. The Old James/Aggressor set kind of gave up the ghost at this point, but with six minutes left and all the members in the venue with their (or kind of their) gear, there was still time for...
Sonic Pulse flipping out and flailing all over the place.
Sonic Pulse [4/7]
To an even greater extent than the tail end of Old James, this is where things truly got to basement show levels. Sonic Pulse, featuring members of Seax and Skull Hammer, killed off the last six minutes of the night in an orgy of toilet paper, balls-out moshing, and disorganized, under-practiced speed/thrash metal that did improve as everybody got warmed up and the audience got distracted cleaning each other out in the pit. This is probably an absolutely unrepresentative sample of the band, but that's yet to be seen, probably in another month or two when they're actually ready to start playing out for real.
As Sonic Pulse stopped, the staff started throwing people out, and I hit the road. The recovery was a little tough, but I should be back in fine fettle for Engorged tonight -- provided that my aversion to Great Scott keeps me out of seeing Revocation, the late-breaking other option.