Thursday, June 28, 2012
Machinage with Sonic Pulse, Endless Decay, and Red Blade [Ralph's, Worcester, 6/21/2012]
In the morning, it was already nuclear-blast-furnace hot, but I picked up my normal rig rather than the sleeveless one as I headed out the door regardless. The festival trip is approaching, and this too is training, because on the plains of Germany, there's no AC and there's nowhere to hide. After finishing the fucked-up sub that I did not give the place adequate grief for, I threaded my way out through the normal summertime net of lane closures and idiots with no idea of where they were going, and despite the obstructions and late start, managed to get up to Ralph's and in just as Red Blade was getting started.
Red Blade [5/7]
I initially didn't recognize this band from last year; they've improved significantly in the interim as well as, I think, changed their lineup a little. There's less of the 'radio' about them, and more of an anti-cult-cult early-'90s sound reminiscent of a saner Scatterbrain (or, ok, a less hxc-driven Ludichrist) in its balance of punk, thrash, and rock elements. Some of the music isn't the most developed, and the set started to drag a little at the end, but on the whole this was a cool set from a decent, still-improving band in a terminally underfilled niche. Good stuff.
Red Blade rocking out.
Sonic Pulse's band-branded Mortal Kombat cabinet. Later, there was an offer from the band of a free CD (a $10 value) to anyone who could beat them at the game. Some audience members would win a round occasionally, but for the most part, Dan and Dave were completely owning dudes' faces off, as entirely expected.
Endless Decay [5/7]
Coming off the Cape and being fitted out with several Led To The Grave members, Endless Decay didn't really sound anything like LTTG at all, working a sound instead reminiscent of The Haunted, Corporation 187, and Carnal Forge from back in the days when we (ok, just me actually) thought the New Swedish Wave of Thrash Metal might be a thing. The result was a good, solid, set of death-tinged, hardcore-inspired thrash metal in a style that's not seen a lot around here. This isn't Chris' main band, but it's still going to be cool to see how they develop from here, and when they get something recorded -- only shirts on this gig -- that's definitely going to be worth a look.
Shirtless Decay battles the ceaseless and suffocating heat of the upstairs.
Sonic Pulse [5.5/7]
In the process of finishing and putting out their album, Sonic Pulse have improved over that last almost-set, but the generally splashy, head-on feel remains. Their material's a lot more technical with the full band, but at this point they are not quite at the level of their icons in Gamma Ray or Tankard: writing-wise, they're a lot more reminiscent of early Metal Inquisitor, who would in truth not be a bad model to follow for developing this kind of power-thrash fusion. They got a strong response from probably the largest crowd of the night, despite a shorter set -- this is where the members' extensive experience comes in, keeping the set restricted to exactly just the material they're ready to slay with.
Whether this is more speed or more power metal is largely in the "Eye of the Beerholder".
There is a fine line between criticism and shittalking, and I try to stay on the right side of it by not making personal criticisms of musicians. This being said, though, Dan and Carmine, no matter who is on stage and who is in the audience, need to stop trading "puns" right now. Seriously. These have been uniformly among the worst "jokes" in the history of the universe, tortured to an extent that would make Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo call the Hague crying. The levels of stupidity involved are customer-ticket-grade, and I get enough of that at work as it is, thanks.
Ever since 1985, it has been the lazy person's get-out to compare any Brazilian band, from Abrasion to Krisiun, to Sepultura. Machinage should act as a good test case for filtering out idiots in this regard; while thay did have some Sep parts -- and did cover "War For Territory" to great effect -- these weren't more pronounced than the Pantera elements in a set that drew its thrash influences most prominently from Megadeth and Kreator in about that order. Despite some problems with Fabio's vocals -- he was losing his voice, so tip the band so they can get some cough syrup as well as food -- they thoroughly justified the long trek with a high-class thrash set that improved as it went on and got the crowd thrashing like mad despite the boiling heat. The Wall of Death that Ricardo tried to set up on the dropped-in break from "Walk" wasn't entirely successful, but this was more down to a lack of absolute numbers than anything else -- an on balance, it was probably the only part of the set that didn't thoroughly meet its success criteria.
Machinage set it off, as the Rev's flash goes off for some actual adequate lighting.
After picking up a Sonic Pulse CD to replace the one I'd mistakenly been comped (I know Aaron and I are both bearded dudes who work in IT, but that's where the similarity ends; I have about 100 pounds of excess meat and an armored jacket, and he has a camera), it was time to hit the road, getting back in decent order to quick-cycle for the next show the next night. This too is training.