Friday, November 30, 2012

Nocuous with Demoralizer, Dark Was The Night, and Alcoholicaust [Ralph's, Worcester, 11/29/2012]

After a long layoff, I bit down and got back out to Ralph's for this one, despite a bit of surrounding work chaos; from my lookout it wasn't the most appealing bill in the whole entire world, but a decent metal show is a decent metal show, and it was still something.  Due to that layoff, I messed up the timing and got in well before the bands started; I looked over the distro tables and generally hung out and acclimated to the strange new atmosphere.  Ralph's, in the months that I've not been inside, has finished building the wheelhouse-style sound booth at the back, and has demolished the old familiar sound booth with the dishwasher foundry plate on it that was formerly in the middle of the floor.  In terms of renovations, this is not a patch on O'Brien's a couple years ago, but has about the same effect in terms of opening up usable floor space.

Eventually, Alcoholicaust corralled their drummer and got set up, so I could give up on the architectural criticism and go watch bands.

Alcoholicaust [4.5/7]
Up from Connecticut, I'd heard of these guys before, but not seen them live; what they brought, despite or maybe because of the lack of a live drummer, was a mixture of death and black metal reminiscent of old God Dethroned -- or maybe Enthroned at Obituary's tempos and compositional reach.  The density of the programmed drum tracks and the lack of anything really expansive in the music made for a restrictive and kind of rote impression, but at least there weren't a lot of desynchs, which is a continual risk whenever one of the members is an audio file that can't react to what the other guys are playing.  All in all, ok, and certainly better than Neldoreth, but should they come back, I'm pretty sure the band is also hoping to come back with a live drummer and some more developed material.

Alcoholicaust roaring about zombies.  Drummers are apparently an endangered species in Bristol.

Dark Was The Night [5/7]
I didn't know initially, but this is the band that Seth, ex of Ascendancy, Summoning Hate, Hekseri, and many other Boston-area bands is now drumming for; as such I was definitely interested in what they were going to present.  What they presented was, in some ways, a band with a thoroughly split personality over two songs: the first two were muddled, overly-dense, self-satisfying, intellectually-sterile prog-thrash of the worst sort that the end of the '90s could offer, and then they switch to "When The World Breaks Down" and "Dawn" (the latter using a pair of 8-string guitars to great effect), and it's like a whole other band, one that is awesome and progressive rather than progressive and annoyingly tiresome.  If they can continue to follow on in the latter vein, mixing dynamics, melodics, and varied tempos into their fusillade of technicality, this is going to be a band that a lot of people will have to pay attention to, and even this restricted sample was pretty damn cool.

DWTN rip down a wall of riffage.

It should be apparent that, like Alcoholicaust, DWTN was short a member from their desired setup; the bands were joking around a little later about swapping the one's bassist for the other's drummer.

DWTN equip their 8s for "Dawn".

Demoralizer [5.5/7]
Demoralizer, of course, I had seen somewhat recently, and they delivered pretty much exact to expectations, with a fifteen-song set of mile-a-minute grindcore interspersed with a couple of slam chugs.  It had, as usual, all the subtlety of an out-of-control gravel truck, but the ruinous speed and complete abandon that they approached the performance with was a definite blast of fresh air after the relative restraint of the bands preceding.  The floor did not see a whole lot of motion -- maybe people are still adjusting to the booth move and haven't got full moshpit prioproception yet -- but it was a little more than immediately previous, and the floor was pretty near full up.

Demoralizer get cranked up to start their barrage.

In this break, I checked Demoralizer's CD offerings and found out I'd picked up the demo they had back earlier in the year, so I hit the distro stand.  In addition to the still-requisite new Borknagar and cult reissues from CNV and Graveland, I also picked up some interesting scuttlebutt in relation to potential tours coming into the area from further reaches....but with Josh waiting on routing confirmation and still locking down details on venues (and presumably guarantees) with the bands, I'm not going to leak anything before confirmation.  That's a matter for another night.

Nocuous [6/7]
Looking back, I've seen this band a lot less often than I thought I had, which is probably due to how often End comes up in my CD rotation, and how the title track and "Wash All The Corpses Away" seem to get into every mp3 collection I make for travel or whatever.  We got the former as an encore, but not the latter, in a still of-course strong, crunchy, and diverse set that pulled in a lot of stuff off the forthcoming Prophecy -- and if your ears didn't perk up immediately at the idea of a new, presumably full-length, Nocuous record, you weren't at this show, and you haven't been paying attention to the band generally.  The rockstarishness of using stage fans (albeit a little more democratically than Coffin Birth) and the silly things they did to Reuben's hair were quickly plastered over by Nocuous' classic mix of punch and crunch, which was a little further evolved here than on prior samples.  The basic idea, of doing Witchery's meld of black, death, and Slayer elements with a completely different selection of stuff from black metal, death metal, and Slayer (Nocuous is still the only band doing Show No Mercy screams, which reflects poorly on every other band claiming to be influenced by Slayer), remains the same, but time and possibly member change have put a different spin on it.  Regardless, the band completely killed it, got an encore due to popular acclaim, and left approximately everyone there unsatisfied that the new record wasn't out yet.

Nocuous lay it down -- with Reuben's hair laying remarkably flat, for a ginger standing over an electric fan set on high.

Eventually, as noted, Nocuous had to close up, and I hit the road immediately, as I had a bunch of stuff to do for work in the morning, and even getting home at two, as I did, was going to be cutting it close.  Those work obstructions and close-cutting will feature next week as well; I should be able to escape my work holiday do in time to catch Abnormality, even if I miss Weregild or Witch King, but between work, class, and baking commitments Sonata Arctica and their keytar trolling on Friday is probably a bridge too far.  Sorry Gennaro, maybe next time.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Septic Flesh with Krisiun, Melechesh, Ex Deo, Inquisition, and Untombed [Middle East, Cambridge, 10/15/2012]

.....and just like that, I finished up my second on-call shift in three weeks and came clear till the solstice.  This was written near on a month ago, but work got in the way, and then a bout of violent depression at missing first Suffocation, then Deiphago for work reasons.  So it goes.  Hopefully, more in the pipeline in the six weeks ahead.

It had been far too long since I had been able to get out to a gig, for a variety of reasons, and despite the deadweight on this bill, and the thorough well-poisoning that Septic Flesh had done in advance, there was more than enough reason to get out of work quick and over for the early start.  Due to good old insane congestion on 93, I rolled up a little after doors, so there was no line, but there was still Untombed and everyone else's good buddy Rafe out front, and he ended up having an extra ticket, which saved me five bucks on the inbound, and probably a little time.

Untombed [5.5/7]
Thanks to this, I got through the patdown before Untombed had gotten too far into their set, and I saw a long slice of a damn class performance.  The band keeps improving, and the Middle East PA let them show off the full capabilities of their sound.  There was a little trickery -- see Dave standing in the lens flare in a gas mask -- but the main point of Untombed remains, as ever, the straightforward provision of solid, brutal, grooving but not over-slammy death metal.  Good stuff, and despite the black metal balance of the bill, an excellent opener.

Untombed roar out of the gates.

As referenced above; Dave cosplaying as one of the dudes from Kommandant.

I went forward for Inquisition because space opened up, and I wanted to get the best possible experience I could in a shorter slot.  Just not falling asleep wasn't going to cut it.

Inquisition [6.5/7]
Inquisition's set did end up significantly cut, but I was in the first/first and a halfth row for all of it, and what we did get was choice.  It balanced a little newer, but they did still get everyone fist-pounding along to "Empire...", and the split of folkic melodies, evil drone, and storming true black metal hit exactly the damn spot.  The great attraction of Inquisition right now, though, is not really any of that, nor their purist devotion to Satanism, so much as that the whole sum of this is that the band is basically the band that Immortal has not been able to be for most of the last 15 years: not overshadowed by an epochal record, or bound by "line between clever and stupid" with regard to their paint, attitude, and presentation.  If Inquisition has an ATHOW on the way, we will cherish these intimate sets in small clubs -- and if not, we'll be getting even more of them.  Either way, win.

Inquisition stirring the pool.

Dagon delivering some croaks.

Starting the intro into "Empire...."

I moved back for Ex Deo, because they had been weighed and found wanting on a previous occasion.  Some may blurt out here, BUT U R WOP HOW CAN U HAET ROM, but in truth, my blood is far more, by volume, of that of Boudeicia, Hermann, and Saladin than of the Caesars...that and this band is basically modern Kataklysm doing Gladiator cosplay, and my feelings on that topic are well known.

Irony?  The eagles on Ex Deo's Roman standards are pretty obviously the same as the ones we saw on American flags in school every day growing up, which would make an interesting commentary on American military dominance and national decline, if there was the faintest suggestion that this band was self-aware, let alone politically-aware, enough to do this intentionally.

Ex Deo [5/7]
While they didn't play anything especially gripping or interesting -- justifying my decision to cut out in the middle for a food break -- Ex Deo did put on a decent show and delivered a high-test, professional, set.  Mauricio is no longer capable, it seems, of playing good or interesting music, but he is a goddamn professional, on stage as well as booking these tours, and the execution here was as high as anticipated.  Decent escapist fun, but the band is lucky that their boss is also about the most competent and professional booker/tourmanager operating in North America, or they would have no chance, on the merits, of getting onto bills like this, or getting this kind of audience.

Ex Deo receives the acclaim -- but not the salutes -- of the audience.  Amazingly, everyone here kept their right arms from doing socially obnoxious things, even when this band gave them ample excuse to troll.  Standards are slipping.

Melechesh and forward again; I'd been on the rail at Party.San, of course, but here would be still closer.

Melechesh [7/7]
Most of the set was not quite at this level, and in truth there was not a ton of separation between them, Inquisition, and Krisiun to come.  However, they ended in grand, aggressive style, pumping out a pure fury that got them up to the mark; not a bad impression for the first US tour.  The material was heavily biased towards their newest record, but I'm not sure how much off Sphynx, let alone As Jerusalem Burns... people would have recognized anyways.  Should they come back, they'll do better keeping the whole level high, but their attitude and intensity in delivering what has always been class and deep as well as violent music can stand no complaints.  Killer.

The hood only lasted for one song here too....

....but as shown, it isn't the same guy.

Ashmedi bows his guitar with a drumstick for some interesting sounds.  Only one intro with this, but it was pretty cool.

I stuck for Krisiun, as I'd never actually seen them this close in a room this small.  The only space that compares is the Palladium upstairs, and the front there is an audio killzone as well as permanently hogged by kids and other tryhards.  No chance of that in Cambridge.


Ok, for real; Moyses tuning up.

Krisiun [6.5/7]
Krisiun, of course, delivered, with the immense sound, ceaseless brutality, and undying professionalism that has made them legends (as well as punchlines) for fifteen years.  They don't look it, and the performance is even less weighted by years on years of small rooms and violent crowds.  They built on the openers, who had some motion, but really took the pit up to another level, as expected from the first actual death metal band since Juan and co. packed up to let the touring bands on.  Some people may have left due to it being a Monday night and Septic Flesh's disastrous prior performance in Providence, but Krisiun sent them out the door with a legit headliner-quality set that, even without the last band, was eminently worth the admission price.

Brutal music demands brutal lensflares.

Alex gives ceaseless appreesh to the crowd.

Cameraman getting stuck in; several of the bands on this one were filmed, so watch out for a DVD from this tour, either independently or bundled with the physical release of their next albums.

Ultimate devastation.

I was also a little worn, and backed up in order to bail if necessary, but I wanted to give Septic Flesh a fair shake.  They got it, though as Melechesh might say, mene mene tekel upharsin.

Septic Flesh [5/7]
I tried not to be influenced by the bad reviews from attendees and supporting bands on the PVD gig.  The thing was, I could see exactly where they were coming from.  Playback Flesh put together a decent bit of execution, but it was so overwhelmingly from the sound board as to make the band's presence on stage of questionable necessity.  I can understand the economics -- especially coming from Greece -- of not paying for a live keyboard player, but when you have string lines that are not being played by guitarists for lack of a goddamn pedal, it is really, really pushing it.  They're probably better on record, where the playback element isn't as disruptive, but so is Therion, and Therion isn't going to draw me to a headlining tour either.  Septic Flesh were not terrible, but in the last analysis every single band on this bill put up better results...and that's not where you want to be as a headliner.

Septic Flesh concelebrate "The Great Mass".

Eventually, Septic Flesh stopped without degrading their score any further, and I hit the road, eventually getting this posted more than a month after the gig in question.  Hopefully, this won't hold for coming shows...which I also hope to actually, like, get out to between now and the end of the year.