Monday, April 30, 2012

Superchrist with Nightbitch, Panzerbastard, and Rampant Decay [Ralph's, Worcester, 4/24/2012]

For the second week in a row, Metal Thursday (expansion pack) come on a Tuesday to fit the schedule of a touring band, and I duly went out, getting in in one piece after successfully not hitting either the freshly shredded truck tires around the 146 interchange, or the guy who slipped off the lamppost and fell into the street by the Worcester PD headquarters.  This also turned out to be in enough time to browse through Superchrist's distro box, for good and ill; I had to break my long-standing rule on generally not buying anything (like 12" vinyl) that cannot be jammed into my coat until the end of the gig, but I had to do it in order to pick up the reissue of The Lord Weird Slough Feg's first album, which you really do not just walk away from and assume a copy will still be in the bin after four hours in the company of the kind of people who come out to a Superchrist gig.  I bit the bullet, nabbed it plus a Barbatos live disc and Headbanger on CD, then decided that as long as Rampant Decay hadn't started yet, I could just go bung the records in the trunk and not have to worry about carrying them around for the rest of the night.  It's a little false, for weird and unrealistic definitions of false, but it worked, and I got back in in time for RxDx to start.

Rampant Decay [5/7]
Despite the circumstances, Rampant Decay stepped up and smashed out a characteristically violent, explosive set of their patented dirtbag-oi/crust/powerviolence blend.  In comparison to past samples, this one was more punk-driven if a little reduced, and the set kind of wore down in places, but some of this is likely not having a live bassist (or second guitar) in the ranks for this one, putting more of the weight on Pat, some of it may be that the drummer sliced his hand up before the show (though I'm the wrong person to ask about drumming issues), but a lot of it is likely the height of the stage; typically, bands like this don't play a lot of gigs this high up and this far from the audience.  Rich was still stalking around like a madman, pushing his damnedest to get that energy out to the floor, but in some ways it doesn't feel quite like a Rampant Decay show if people aren't actually getting pushed over.

In the process of picking up some gear off the band later (no shirt, but last year's CD-EP, the new split with The Kruds, and a pile of stickers for distro), I realized that the info I'd been giving was out of date: it's a lot closer to three months than four that I shove off for the festivals for the last time.  That RFM is still out there, and is going to get more publicized.

Panzerbastard [6/7]
It was Superchrist on tour, but it was Panzerbastard who probably got the most action on the floor, grinding out a punishing set of their lows-heavy thrash'n'roll.  They changed up the lineup a little -- Bobby was out, allegedly on account of Fresh Kill practice -- but kept the violence rolling through both old stuff and new.  Keith didn't smash anything up this time (well, aside from me after I got up too fast and clocked him one on the chin with my shoulder armor, but that was before the show started), but the band laid glorious waste to the eardrums of all and sundry.

Andrew wins tonight's edition of None So Kvlt.  Seriously, Infernal Majesty?  I almost wish I'd had more free time in Canada (as opposed to sleeping and point-to-point drivetime) to confirm how few people even in Canada listen to Infernal Majesty.

Nightbitch [5.5/7]
I hadn't seen this band in ages, and in the intervening time they'd dropped Phil, whose characteristic vocals had been one of the major hooks for the band initially, so it was going to be interesting to see how they handled themselves as a three-piece.  The result was pretty cool, if a little constrained; Nightbitch continues to be not your average doom band, and more strongly connected to the roots of the style in occult '70s rock, but the feel on this set was of more that they could still do with these members.  This was a cool set even with the subdued feel; maybe just needs more runtime and more strippers, but cool music all the same.

Superchrist [6/7]
Over the course of this set, Superchrist kept up a super-high level of energy with absolute consistency.  The audience responded to their rocked-up Motorhead grooves in similar fashion, keeping things pumping and violent start to finish.  There were a lot of songs that kept in that internal consistency -- Superchrist songs tend to sound like other Superchrist songs with fairly small degrees of separation -- but the point of this set, and of bands like Superchrist, is a lot more to make party than to produce something for contemplation, and party is what they delivered, in spades.

Eventually, though, the party had to wind up, and after an audience-enforced encore, I picked up a shirt and Holy Shit from Superchrist and breakables off Rampant Decay, then hit the road.  I managed to get back right at 2, but as usual work prevented anything getting finalized on this front for too long.  Next was Inquisition, hopefully documented faster.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Engorged with Scaphism, Coathanger Abortion, and Demoralizer [Ralph's, Worcester, 4/19/2012]

So after appropriate deliberations and some rather unnecessary construction delays -- it's not as bad as it was five years ago, but warm weather still means that 290 starts turning more or less useless after dark -- I decided on and got out to Ralph's for this one rather than in to Great Scott for Revocation.  Tennessee is farther than Virginia, and Coathanger Abortion relatively less prominent than Cannabis Corpse, so there was a little more attraction in the non-local bands on this one --especially since I ended up missing their Sunday gig via exhaustion and typhoon warnings.

With the roadwork, I ended up in just about 9, well enough time to check out the merch options and such before the bands started playing.

Demoralizer [5/7]
As per last time, but possibly a little sharper, Demoralizer smashed out a short but quality set of crunchy grindcore flavored with prominent death metal elements.  The band seemed to wind down a little as the set went on, but with the energy that's required for their stuff, and the still-visible (ok, only when the bassist had his pants down) damage remaining from Bobfest the previous weekend, this is readily understandable.  This was still a good, solid, set, though, as attested to by the speed at which their few demos disappeared by the end of the night.

In here I did most of my local merch; I planned to get an Engorged shirt to go with the Scaphism shirt/CD tour pack, but ended up not sticking around long enough or not pulling the trigger fast enough.  Oh well; not like this band, having revived, is likely to imminently go away.

Coathanger Abortion [6/7]
Actual reactions after their set: "Wow, I thought Tennessee kind of sucked!" "Apparently, except for Coathanger Abortion!"  Anyone who thinks New England isn't as short-sighted and parochial as anywhere else, if not more so, has not lived here.  Regardless, this was as intimated a balls-out kickass set of grind-tinged brutal death metal; Robby introduced them as "Southern-fried death-grind", but any kind of gimmickry was thankfully absent, the sound filling out, despite the lack of a bassist, in the vein of a more technical Lividity or a less slammy Suffocation.  They played right up to the available limits, and got a good strong reaction from the crowd; hopefully, the same was the case in Boston yesterday.

After ChA wrapped up, I ended up picking up not a shirt (on the double false premise that I'd have to find belt real estate to sling an Engorged shirt through, and that I'd be seeing them again in less than a week), but did get their current record as well as a Lividity CD they had out for distro, one of the guys in the band having filled in for Lividity live on some recent tour.  I also picked up a decent pile of stickers for Ausstrahlung; the intent is to concentrate on New England bands, but good under-recognized music from elsewhere is worth promoting as well, especially when there's a sonic and member tie-in with Lividity, who as noted in the past are huge in east Germany for no single concrete reason.

Scaphism [6/7]
The kickoff show for their current tour, this was a solid, pumping, set with a huge hometown crowd response.  They stuck mostly to the Festering Human Remains material, but did pull in some "newer" stuff...which since it's been in the setlist for the better part of a year, is a lot better described as "wasn't finely tuned enough to make it onto the CD when it was recorded", but whatever.  They "closed" with "Slowly Digesting....", as they tend to do -- and then ended up doing another song about rape afterwards because they had time left, and also because rape and Star Wars, it is the meat and drink of this band.

I had put the hanzi for the arbitrary number pasted next to the band name above on my wrist, and collected the impressions that made the basis of the writeup, before I cut open the pro shrinkwrap on Scaphism's new record, so this is the last observation on the band that is indisputably uncolored by the self-satisfied ego boost of getting into the FHR thankslist (under another alias (hence probably for overseas promotion), don't look for this one).  They'll be back from the road on the 30th, so start looking at the writeup from that show for signs of corruption and observer-compromise.

Engorged [5.5/7]
Wenn Altmeister, aus dieser sicht weniger Meister, mehr alt.  This was still a good set, but as down as I've seen from Engorged since the reunion.  Some of it may be the novelty wearing off, but I don't think so; in this case, they had the difficult task of following a really prime Scaphism set under conditions where their guitar solos weren't cutting through the mix reliably.  They did get people pumped up with "In League With Satan" at the end, but we've had better sets, overall, from Engorged, and likely will again in the future.

Virginal bleeding during Engorged's setup.  The blood and stage dressing was a nice touch, even if it was a little directly reminiscent of Fires of Old.

Engorged also finished up fairly late, as least as far as Metal Thursdays have been ending recently, and there were limits on how far past one in the morning I was going to stick and wait to be able to pick up a shirt.  Another time; in the present I hit the road, got back in time to get to sleep by 3, and would have been able to roll on into the Sunday show if everywhere I went on Saturday (Record Store Day and El Clasico, who knew) had not been dehydratingly full of people.  As it is, Superchrist tomorrow and then probably nicht till Inquisition.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Old James with Seax and Crypter (and kind of Sonic Pulse) [Ralph's, Worcester, 4/17/2012]

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.

Crypter [5/7]
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.

Seax [6/7]
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.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bobfest V day 1 [O'Brien's, Allston, 4/14/2012]

One way or another, I overcame some bad decisions to get over to the venue mostly in time, and battled most of the way to the end; I had to sacrifice the second day due to recuperation time, but it's better to get through this now rather than in four months. I'm not in festival shape yet, and now, rather than bumming my way through central Germany, is when to realize this and start getting back into fighting trim. If I'd been tenting locally rather than having to drive, I'd've finished, then taken a lot of day 2 in as well, but the principles are important enough to deserve the emphasis.

The specific principles, of course, are pretty easy. 1), don't start drinking Guinness on an empty stomach at 11AM after boozing the night before. 2), don't sesh it up at the fitba bar if you have anything else you need to do the rest of the day. Especially when there's a lag between the FA Cup games and the Spanish league kickoffs and people start sending rounds around out of sheer boredom.

I ended up leaving the Phoenix only a little later and a little drunker than planned, and the hike over the bridges was easy enough, so I got more or less straight in -- despite getting my steel taken off me at the door, which was unnecessary but absolutely correct -- and saw most of Barren Oak's set. I was kinda bummed to miss Set, but them, I'll likely have another shot at seeing sooner.

Barren Oak [5.5/7]
As noted, I didn't get the whole of Barren Oak's set, but what I was in for was quite good, definitely proving the proposition that black metal -- if, admittedly, droning third-wavey black metal -- can be carried off by bass and drums as well as drums and guitar. The shorter set and shorter exposure within that set may have helped with the focus -- if some stuff was repeated from the start, I wasn't in the building initially to hear it -- but on balance this was a good performance that I'd rather have heard more of; hopefully Alex can get another drummer sorted in the near future (this was the drummer's last gig before leaving) and continue on with the project. Fuck black metal, hail black metal!

In here I went and picked up dinner off Asia Wok again, and managed to get back and ensconced in the corner with my chow before Rozamov started up. I could probably have picked better food for avoiding exhaustion later (this ended up being 16 hours of activity and about 10 beers iirc on an Irish breakfast, a vegan mapo tofu, and a grilled cheese sandwich), but this also is a lesson for the future.

Rozamov [5/7]
I hadn't seen this band before, and accordingly went in with absolutely flat expectations. They turned in a nice but kind of undiversified set of good, functional doom metal that kept the audience grooving, even if it didn't break down a lot of barriers. It'll be interesting to see how and where they develop from here, but at this point Rozamov're still just one among many good heavy-doom bands in the area.

Dead Languages bent the doom flow back in more of a grind direction, turning in a solid set that ultimately came off a little unfulfilling. They might have used more runtime, and some of it was the band sticking closer to the songs as structured rather than letting their energy out, but both cases are probably on the same root cause; as Dawn mentioned later, they're working out a new drummer, and while he was able to learn the set right quick, there's always going to be a bedding-in period replacing members. Dead Languages' material still kicks ass, and it'll be more surprising if they don't kick on from here and take it up a notch in the near future than if they do.

It was probably in here that I got yelled at for looking like I was nodding off at the bar, and headed outside to cool down. Apologies to the O'B's staff; in the future, I'll eat better and spend less time swapping blackout stories with Ethiopian dudes before all-day shows.

Coming back in, most of Faces of Bayon were setting up for what would ultimately not be a Faces set, in a slot other than where they were scheduled originally. Their drummer's having some health issues (get well soon) and wasn't able to play, so Matt and Ron shifted their timeslot around and brought over this project, which was a drone/noise experiment that drew enough from Faces of Bayon's sludgy, atmospheric, funeral-doom side to retain ratable metal content. The band, obviously, would much rather have played as Faces of Bayon, and the audience would probably rather have seen that performance, but the Lazar House material was a cool interlude outside the main run of the bill, and definitely cool to be able to see live.

Between the near-sellout crowd and the general environmental heat (summer decided to come to Boston this weekend), it was flat boiling inside, so between sets from here on it was out to the sidewalk to chill down, sing random stretches of Blind Guardian songs, and see the members of the new Coffin Birth (headlining this show) lineup meet each other for the first time. Festivals, how it is.

KYOTY [6.5/7]
This performance was the highlight of the night -- at least as long as I could stay -- and compensated by its awesomness for reinforcing the fact that I should have been kicking myself around the block for missing them last time. KYOTY (Keep Your Opinions To Yourself, formally) laid down a set of deep and punishing instrumental doom metal that definitely benefitted from the band's atmospheric tweaks -- lights off, supplemental lighting under the bass drum -- but would probably have been 90-95% as cool in a random parking lot in bright sunlight. The band delivered at a next level on both composition and volume, and pretty much crushed everything in front of them. Should you have missed them here, or on other occasions, you should be kicking yourself as well.

I hadn't seen this band in the last six months, and in the meantime they've taken several solid steps up: the practice of a near-three-week tour, and also bringing in Tom from Soul Remnants on second guitar. Adding the second guitar has really taken up the power of the band to another level, working more malice and violence into the more diversified and matured songwriting. Forced is still mostly about weed, and most of their best and best-received material is still about weed, but they're closer to Cannibal Corpse than Cannabis Corpse, developing as a generalist brutal death metal band rather than a one-note novelty act. They're also developing into a seriously, seriously good death metal band; when they eventually get a record out, or even a demo that wasn't recorded live, it's going to be essential for eastern New England, and pretty much an automatic pickup should you see these guys on the road.

Hessian (PA) [6/7]
They got their fog cut off, and their candle snuffed, but the Pennsylvanian Hessian didn't need these to set up a smashing first-class set of blackened thrashing music. Those outside Boston, or those less stuck into our underground, would probably liken them to a blacker Skeletonwitch rather than to Nachzehrer, if they'd had more members in common with Razormaze longer, but the first comparison misses out on a nontrivial degree of the power that this band delivered. As much as I like the Maine Hessian, it's hard to see, on the evidence of this set, the eventual epic mask bout for the name going any way but south. (Whether you disagree, or think that it'd easily go to one side or the other, the verdict's the same: you have more of another Hessian to go listen to.) As shown on this sample, Hessian do tour around on the East Coast, so if you miss this band by accident, or worse, by intent, it's going to go on your permanent record.

After Hessian, I was pretty much beat, and flipped a coin to see whether I'd try to tough it out for Alekhine's Gun and Coffin Birth, or head off and get some sleep, then try to come back in for day 2. It came up "head out", and so I did, stumping the long way back and managing to avoid falling asleep on the drive home. Unfortunately, Celtic lost in the Cup on Sunday, I got bummed out, then lost out to heat and motivation when it came time to decide how the hell I was getting in to Radio. Regrets by the score, but lessons learned -- and hopefully in time for a thick stretch of shows coming, with Aggressor tonight, Engorged Thursday, Dysentery Sunday, Superchrist next Tuesday, and Inquisition next Saturday, with another Metal Thursday in the mix as well. That RFM means I have to do better getting to shows -- and doing better at getting to shows means I'll be more effective getting the gathered materials out come August.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012 - The Final ChapTour RFM

This is the RFM (Request For Merch) for the 2012 summer festival tour. There are significant differences between this and prior years due to itinerary changes.

Partly because I've soured on the festival and partly because I didn't get a ticket before it sold out (the first contributing to the second), I'm not going to Wacken this year. I'm starting at Party.San and continuing on to Summer Breeze, which pushes out the deadline a little and decidedly changes the complexion of the stuff I can take over.

This is because Party.San is a wicked, wicked DIY festival. I've described it in the past as "the world's biggest basement show", and based on the experience of last year, it is entirely possible that I will clear out everything I carry over before leaving the P.SOA festival grounds. Virtually everyone you meet at Party.San is into underground metal, many of them are in bands, and the appetite they have for new DIY stuff from odd corners of the globe is almost insatiable. This means that as long as I have stuff to distro, it needs to be stuff that will be in demand at Party.San. Some will probably survive to Summer Breeze, but I don't want to tell people "sure, I've been giving stuff away nonstop for the last two days, but now all I have is pop stuff you won't be interested in." Stuff that I could push hard at Wacken and take advantage of a large population to overcome the low chances of successful distro will not fly here.

So here is the deal. This is Germany, land of Defeated Sanity, Bethlehem, Desaster, Ahab, and Metal Inquisitor. If I see your band at a local show, you are probably OK for export. Give me your stuffs. If I haven't seen your band yet, for whatever reason, check the Party.San lineup and see how many bands' fanbases you'd likely appeal to. If you think you'll fit in, send me a link to a recent sample of your stuff (you can do this in the comments on this post), and I'll check it out. OMG ELITISM. If you don't like it, strap up a pack and do a ritual about itget on a plane yourself.

Space is expected to be limited. I actually went over the limit last year and had to repack some stuff. The upside of that is that I do have a bunch of surplus paper CD sleeves in case I get stuff in full-height or half-height cases. First come first served, no vinyl, no buttons unless you have nothing else, and please try to avoid sending shirts. Contact info already on your stuff or space for me to write it on very preferred. Give me your out-of-date, your mismatched, the dregs of your merch bucket yearning to breathe free. Should I not manage to hand everything out, any surplus will be returned (unless you're like, "no, leave this in the bathrooms in the Munich airport if it comes to that, we don't want it back").

This will be updated periodically as the deadline - end of July - approaches.

UPDATE 2012-06-05: first tentative show schedule:

Jun 10 (Sun) - SIX FEET UNDER / "Worcester Deathfest" - the Palladium (Worcester, MA)
Jun 11 (Mon) - Spitting Black, Composted, Deathamphetamine, Dick Move - Midway Cafe (Jamaica Plain, MA)
Jun 14 (Thu) - Born of Fire: Scaphism, Blood Of The Gods, I Am The Trireme (PA) - O'Briens Pub (Allston, MA)
Jun 21 (Thu) - Metal Thursday CLXVII: Machinage [BRAZIL], Sonic Pulse, Endless Decay, Red Blade - Ralph's Diner (Worcester, MA)
Jun 26 (Tue) - IRON MAIDEN, Alice Cooper - Tweeter Center (Mansfield, MA)
Jun 30 (Sat) - BLACK PYRAMID, KYOTY, HESSIAN AND WARM - Ralph's Diner (Worcester, MA)
Jul 25 (Wed) - FEAR FACTORY, VOIVOD, Cattle Decapitation, Misery Index, Revocation, Havok - the Palladium (Worcester, MA)
Jul 26 (Thu) - Metal Thursday: Mausoleum [PA], Engorge [NJ], Blessed Offal +TBA - Ralph's Diner (Worcester, MA)

I probably will not make all of these, and more will be added.  There will be an actual new update post at the start of July with the schedule from that point on.

Blood of the Gods with Excrecor, Ramius, and Lore [Ralph's, Worcester, 4/5/2012]

Minimally impeded by traffic, I got out to Worcester pretty early, but still more or less on time, enough to unwind, notice the B's had gone a further two up since I left the sub shop back in the 128 belt, and start drinking before the bands went on.

Lore [5/7]
With what felt like a longer, and an indisputably more developed set than last time, Lore took a big step forward here in terms of both quality and metalness. The band's focus was a lot more apparent, and if it's still amenable to easy description, you're not going to go wrong with a band that is basically Behold... the Arctopus with both more prominent post-hardcore roots and a tighter hold on Atheist (and to a lesser extent, the rest of the first wave of art-death). There's still room for improvement, if you can tell that the guitar's prone to filling stuff in with doublet progressions through moderately obscure scales, or that a few riffs (such as bands like this have them, anyway) in "Black and White" are cut almost pattern-exact from Arctopus material, but they're definitely on the right track, and there's so much raw talent obvious in the band that further development is pretty much guaranteed. Depending on the particular direction, they may get more or fewer metal bills in the future, but this is definitely a band to keep an eye on.

This turned out to be "underrated band makes large improvements night", as will be seen in the rest of this post, only breaking down slightly on the headliners.

Ramius [5.5/7]
Their first show was pretty decent, but Ramius have only taken it up from there. This set presented a convincing picture of a band that have their feet thoroughly under them, and have the potential, at least, to make some significant waves. The Death references that characterized that prior show have been pared back, both by song selection and by changes to the material; those that remain still feel forced, but more importantly less consistent, as the bulk of their set was going in a completely different direction, a slightly less technical and more atmospheric blend of modern death metal, like if Hypocrisy spent a lot more time listening to Kalmah, or vice versa. There are still some rough edges, and with a band this new it's not yet set in stone which way they're going, let alone going to go, but the potential is definitely there. Very good stuff if they can keep it going, hammer the burrs out, and get it on record.

In the interest of completeness and the futile pursuit of objectivity, it should be noted that the arbitrary number pasted next to the band name does not include adjustments for a 95% pitch-perfect Primordial cover. "The Coffin Ships" is fairly long and pretty tough, but ultimately it's still a cover, and a pretty obvious one at that. (Other bands wishing to pander to openly biased fenians in the audience may wish to consider "The Soul Must Sleep" or "Death of the Gods", then reconsider based on the fact that this song saw the largest audience outflow of any single point in the night.)

Excrecor [5.5/7]
Other people in the audience shouted at the start that it didn't matter, but it certainly did: 3/4 of Excrecor turned in a good, solid performance, but one that was undermined by the fact that their bassist wasn't there. The band remains good enough, and good enough at songwriting, that they were able to overcome a lot of the deficit, but ultimately Excrecor writes their stuff for two guitars, one bass, and a drumset, and expects that it's going to be performed that way as well. It's good for the band that said material is good enough to mostly survive not being performed that way, but out in the audience most people, even those who most loudly wonder what bass players are for, even, would probably rather that it was. This was still a good performance, and in any metal band, yes, you are going to get the rhythm guitar line doubling up the bass a fair bit of the time, but the improvement Excrecor's made over previous outings was masked by being under-strength.

In here I did basically all of my merch; no Excrecor shirts on offer, so I picked up a swack of BotG stickers for a nominal fee, mostly for the purpose of passing out this summer. RFM coming, seriously.

The specious pointscore may not pick it up, but BotG continued the general improvement wave, smashing out a full, rounded set of their characteristicly dense, sludgy, punk-infected death-grind. The crowd, for whatever reason, didn't respond as strongly as might have been anticipated, but the music itself was still crushing, and delivered with what seemed like more energy than I've seen from the band previously, likely from actually having a stage big enough for everyone to move around on; I haven't seen them this high off the floor, or with proper space for a five-piece, since they opened for Morne last year, and back then it was like 1 in the afternoon. Solid, solid stuff, and the sooner they get another record together the better.

Show concluded, I beat feet for the highway and managed to get back in what I thought was good order. Family turbulence and being on call this week have delayed this, and will cause me to miss Summoning Hate tonight, but everything is wrapped up in time for Bobfest.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Rememberance of Antique Pictures

(Note: no Oathean content in this post. One of my few regrets from South Korea.)

In the process of cleaning up my antediluvian phone, I found a bunch of pictures from this show, when I apparently had the idea of adding grainy and overly-dark images to these piles of inaccurate and often ill-informed words, an idea that did not survive the 2010 summer tour. Having completely forgotten that I had taken these pics while overseas, I didn't add them to the original post at the time, and now, eighteen and more months later, adding them in there would guarantee that they'd be seen by exactly no one. (So wait, why am I doing this any differently?) Anyway, almost two years out of date and crappy to start with, here they are.

Mowgli flipping out. (Yes, also Wren.)

Necronomichrist setting up.

In more presently relevant news, this:

Tickets are in; formal RFM will go out in a week or so once I get it written.

Seax with Amadis, Avernus Ortus, and Krakatoa [Ralph's, Worcester, 3/29/2012]

Despite some non-promising-looking construction and nearly getting crunched by a semi coming off the Pike, I got over in decent order and not too long before the bands started. It was getting towards the end of a long day that had started earlier than anticipated, so I was a little ground down, but this rapidly took care of itself as the venue started to fill up in earnest and the first bands went on.

Krakatoa [5/7]
Someone is going to have to eventually make up a real word for this band's style of modern-God Dethroned black/melodeath mix, as the conventional ones are running a little short, and there's no shortage of modern bands playing around with the style. "Extreme metal" gets kicked around, but I refuse to redefine a term this general to the stuff in that subclass that isn't strictly black, death, or grind...and a lot of the bands claiming the label are not exactly extreme in any real sense. This was a decent set of decent music, if a little handicapped by technical difficulties. Most of those, though, arose from the PA trying to manage Steve's borgbass; hopefully, they'll be back with demos, where this won't be an issue.


They were more matched to the rest of the bill originally, before In Human Form dropped and Seax filled in, but didn't let their accidental odd-duck status stop them from delivering a punishing set of positively slam-hostile technical brutality. Even when it would be easy and consonant to dig in and chug away, Avernus refuse the temptation and do something brain-breakingly hard. It is flat awesome, and if you wish that Hate Eternal was less accessible or that Goreality occasionally played outside New Bedford, this is definitely a band to watch for.

Attendees agreed; at the conclusion of A.O's set, there was a short and sharp run on their demos -- which were conspicuously absent last time -- so immediate as to suggest Necrophagist at NEMHF '06. Said record is definitely worth it; not quite up to their live presentation, but still a kickass chunk of death metal, promising nothing but good things for whenever they get enough good songs written and perfected to get up to a full-length.

Amadis [6/7]
The amount of black leather on stage was a little over the top, and so many songs about heavy metal was just unnecessary. But Amadis is just so fucking good that this set was never going to end up anywhere else ratingswise. Lightly progressive but mostly traditional, this came out as a straight scream-n-shred-fest that got the floor nice and turbulent for the first time; you'd generally expect more mosh for the preceding death metal band out of a Metal Thursday crowd, but as noted this bill ended up pulling in a more trad audience -- and more importantly, it's very seldom that bands before the third have a drunk enough audience to get major motion. Flat killer all the way around.

No armor, no top hat, but still silly. The highlighted area is either a sporran or a lace-up codpiece.

Seax [6/7]
The power of experience; Seax were able to carry a headlining set of all originals and neither over- nor under-run the allotted slot. The band continues to ride that fine line between clever and stupid; their old-school ideas never coming off as dishonest, but with the band acknowledging that this is a nostalgia trip rather than 1982 itself, and that they might as well have somee fun with it. The trolls who were promoting this gig on New England's premier metal sitesource for dicks and abortions by bamming up the easily-excited Carmine, and anyone else who gave this one a pass, missed not only a pretty killer set of stripped-down old-school speed metal to cap off Avernus' underground fundamentalism and Amadis' Priest channeling, but also said frontman rubbing his spandex-covered dick all over the front row. This may have been the first non-ironic use of spandex pants by a local-level Massachusetts metal band in the last 20 years, but as long as Seax carry on, it's not likely to be the last.

Matt, not wearing spandex and not rubbing his dingus on people, but still "Living Above The Law".

It felt a little early leaving, but exhaustion kicked in hard despite getting back a little before 2 AM. That pushed this writeup out from Friday -- and then four discs' worth of Party.San history arrived on Saturday and delayed it further. I can has foreshadowing?