Friday, August 03, 2012
Obsidian Tongue with Neldorath, Vulkodlak, and Grue [O'Brien's, Allston, 7/28/2012]
Most of this Saturday was spent driving around various places picking up extra equipment for the coming tour; the weather was bright and clear as you'll get in a New England summer. This done and a couple hours spent puttering around the house and cooking the remaining contents of the fridge, I didn't notice that by the time I needed to head in to Boston for the show, a torrential rain had blown up. This made driving a little slower, but the roads on this route were at least large, wide, and well-maintained, which made it a little easier than the historical parallel....which actually isn't much of a parallel because this rain, while difficult, was not snorkel-bad. Indeed, it had lightened up substantially by the time I got in to the city, stowed the car, and started in on the hiking portion. The rain on the hike over kept things a little cooler, and also provided a decent dose of "also training"; I'd done hot weather with the pack strapped up, but in Germany in August, you're as likely to get torrential rain, so it was good to get some practice on wet roads. Not all that much, though, because the distance to O'B's remains about as short as ever, and I still ended up one of the earlier patrons in the building.
This was the first time that I'd seen Grue in person (well, on stage); this is a new two-man third-wave black metal combo from Dave of Summoning Hate/Untombed fame and Morgan from Unholy Goatfucker, and both that newness and the members' strong experience showed off here. The execution was top-notch, but the songs, at least at this point, had a lot of the structural deficits that Obsidian Tongue had at first, which appears to be a kind of necessary teething process as guys accustomed to writing for what we usually think of as "full bands" get used to the restricted instrumentation. The riffs in that material, though, in spite of the underfinished or occasionally disjointed way they stack together, holds out the promise that when those issues are resolved, Grue has a fighting chance of catching up to the headliners here. Balanced neatly between violence and melancholy and subtly loaded with undertones and harmonics reminiscent of early Borknagar and turn-of-the-century Enslaved, Grue's music has a lot of the sublime about it, and while they're cool to listen to right now, there's the potential to be extremely impressive once these guys finish deciding how they need to arrange their writing for maximum effect.
A Grue in the light? That's unpossible!
Set breaks at this gig consisted of three things happening in any order. 1) Get new beer. 2) Go outside to cool down. 3) Dave comes by and promises that he has Grue tapes for export. I did eventually get said tapes at the end of the night, and wasn't planning on leaving without them, but Dave of course had other stuff to do and other people to hang with over the course of the night rather than making up export packs.
After seeing the parade of dudes in NYDM vests going in and out carrying gear, it was a little surprising to see this band line up and start playing as only a two-piece. Member absences are no rare thing in the underground, even when it comes to underground touring, but this turns out to be most of Vulkodlak, and despite being down to just drums and guitar (this was kind of a theme for the night) they managed to mostly carry off the material. Their spiky death-tinged black metal wasn't the most diversified or original in the whole world, but they generated a good performance with what they had, pulled up in closing by a fast, violent, cover of Sodom's "Blasphemer". Pretty good stuff; hopefully, they'll be back, and in greater numbers.
Vulkodlak committing "Rites of the Equinox".
I apologize to anyone (mostly Mike Kleptocracy, maybe also the Rev) who I provided with false information on this band. This is not the same band as the Vukodlak who put out Darkest Autumn ten years ago, despite the practically identical spelling of an extremely uncommon word and the fact that they were touring with another NYDM band from Pennsylvania. That other L is significant, and they are legit 100% from Alabama. Support real hinterlands extreme metal (see also), not gimmick rednecks.
Neldoreth continued on with the two-member theme, albeit not nearly as effectively as any of the other bands, and without a drummer (points may be related). With live members consisting of a vocalist, a (second) guitarist, and a hell of a lot of playback, they put up an oddly-sourced set of unexceptional blackened death metal that was at times difficult to watch (playback guitars are ok, but the live guitar should lead the playback rather than fill in behind it, always always always) and due to the volumes needed for the band to hear their drums out of the PA, occasionally impossible to listen to. Their set basically read their Invert Christ CD straight down (if in different order), and though it improved a little at the end, the only way this band is going to make any significant improvement is to get more non-digitized members in.
All of Neldoreth. Seriously. The first draft note on this set read "bring your whole band", but this is as much of Neldoreth as there ever is in one building at the same time.
Obsidian Tongue [6/7]
The evolution continues; another Obsidian Tongue set close on the heels of this one ten days ago, but with a fairly substantial reshuffle of the (four-song) setlist, taking a different side on Volume I. At this point, it's barely worth noting when this band does something excellent, but they continue to get better and better on each successive date. If, as this show seems to indicate, restricted instrumentation/membership is going to be a coming thing in third-wave black metal/black metal generally, Obsidian Tongue are clearly at the forefront of it, and we around Boston somehow continue be able to see them do their alchemy on a $7 ticket. Brendan's (joking) comments on "fuck you bassplayers fest" ((jokingly) disappreeshed by actual and frustrated bassists alike) aside, this set was essentially one long, uniform, high that only offended by eventually drawing to a close.
As implied, this one did finally finish, at which point I got Neldoreth's record (at 25 minutes, and less than 20 of original music, not such a great deal for $12, but bands that have the guts to tour still need the support) and picked up tapes from both Grue and Kleptocracy, then headed out across the bridges again, the rain completely gone. Another one down. Another day closer to the tour.