Friday, June 01, 2012
Black Trip with Ravage and Iron Will [Ralph's, Worcester, 5/17/2012]
Being on a vacation burn -- not going anywhere except "not to work" -- I got the chance to start a little later out to this, but between one thing and another, mostly the longer trip and less dense traffic, got in about the usual, with the bands starting later as there were only three on the bill. You'd think, especially on a CD release, that fewer bands would still imply a normal start, and then the releasing band doing a longer set to play most of the new record down and/or get their friends to sit in for covers and other shenanigans. This turned out not to be the case, partly because Black Trip was only putting out a 3-song EP, and partly because it took a while for all the members of Iron Will to actually get down to the venue. It basically balanced out, though, as all of the bands got at least adequate sets when they finally started playing.
Iron Will [4.5/7]
I'm not sure if they've tweaked the lineup since last time (I would go with 'yes', since the potentially-new bassist is also the new bassist in Ravage, who I'm not sure I've seen twice in a row with the same bass player since 2003; if the Firicano brothers found a reliable bassist who digs power metal, it stands to reason they'd try to get him into this band as well), but Iron Will has taken a step forward in the intervening. Some of this is just general tightness, but more of it is Tony improving his elocution; the dude sounds a lot more pro now, and a lot less like a guy from the block in Revere, which helps with bringing in an epic feeling to some of their more expansive stuff. However, the songwriting is still pretty much where it was: second-run and consistent across songs to the point where it gets samey and hard to separate. Iron Will brought it technically, and their cover of Witchfinder General's "Friends of Hell" was well-done as well as well-received, but their material continues to be that of a second-rank local trad-metal band: another reminder of just how fucking hard it is to even get up to average.
Iron Will driving on.
The set breaks on this night were pretty short, partially a function of the later start and partly due to Iron Will and Ravage backlining, which basically eliminated the need to change mic positions, let alone move gear around. It was still enough, though, to pick up another beer and nab a short stack of Sonic Pulse promo cards to take over.
As is pretty much usual for Ravage, this was another good solid set, with yet another new rhythm section. Dan and Rich held it down well, and this may have been the motivation for doing a fair amount of old stuff, as well as their Metal-Blade-era material -- even going so far as to resurrect "Wyvern", which not only pleased the old fans, but also neatly cut out my usual avenue of being "Play Old Shit!" Guy. This in some ways was more solid of a set than I've seen from Ravage since they signed to Metal Blade, so hopefully the lineup sticks, and the label gives them another shot that doesn't involve their van simultaneously disintegrating.
Al gets out from behind the kit as Nick rips it up on "The Shredder".
On the subject of bands getting unexpectedly signed to major labels, congrats to Vattnet Viskar on getting picked up by Century Media -- and on getting their formerly in-joke-ridden metal-archives page fixed. Like Pilgrim, this may end up being too much too soon, but the band does have the chops for it, and if they can kick merely Liturgy to fuck, it'll be a uniform upgrade.
Ben ripping it.
Black Trip [6/7]
After the last time here, I was quite skeptical about how Black Trip was going to do headlining this one. Fortunately, though, they've used the intervening time well, and they put together a well-finished, well-rounded set that didn't overrun the set time or overdrive the sound system, both areas where they've had issues in the past. This one, like the three-song EP they put out at this gig, was a little more power-metal-influenced than they've been in the past, but their former death metal crunch is still there and still firms up the sound. Black Trip is not quite where they want to be yet, but they're moving in that direction, and the full-length that is scheduled to follow on from the current record, if they continue to improve, will get them a lot closer.
As on prior gigs with multiple north-of-Boston bands, this one saw another song added to the library of Manowar covers I've seen live, as Black Trip brought up Al and Tony from the openers to guest on "Thor (The Power Head)". The crowd got into it, as did I -- if I want to hear "Guyana" or "Mountains" off that record, I'd have to have my own band, which is a long way of saying "not going to happen".
In time, though, Black Trip wrapped up, I dropped a couple bucks in the box of CDs while grouting out the record (free, at least on this gig, so there's no excuse not to pick it up), and I hit the road back, getting back in fine condition with minimal caffeine interference. Not having to work in the mornings gets you that -- and then coming back to work with a vengeance makes stuff like this terminally late.