Thursday, April 11, 2013
Absu with Hæthen, Bog of the Infidel, Nachzehrer, and Hræsvelgr [Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, 4/9/2013]
As noted, I missed out on Living Colour on Friday (and got stuck at work till like 9 on a production ticket anyways, so not much loss), but I clubbed the recalcitrant client I was working with into submission, got stuff organized, and managed to get in to Central just about actual doors. There was probably a little too much standing-around time, but estimating traffic loads on a midweek relatively-early date in Boston is kind of a crapshoot, and boredom and awkwardness is kind of the price I pay for knowing I'm not going to miss bands. I got an early start on drinking that would be valuable later, browsed around the Bog/Nachzehrer table after it got set up, and found some decent real estate to watch the first band from as they started, remarkably, about on time.
A better 'grade' on this set might be "incomplete"; New England is a competitive area for black metal bands and metal bands generally, and these guys probably showed something, in the process of getting booked, that was noteworthy beyond the broad-strokes Inquisition-cloning on display in this set. Still, though, that no-vocals, drone-heavy Inquisition cloning is what we got, and while the material did improve over the course of the set, it was not strong enough, on the whole, to carry the full runtime with just drums and one guitar. There are some good ideas here, but Hræsvelgr are going to need better material, better equipment (to break up the drone via some more variety in guitar tone), or just a better ratio of members to empty stagefront in order to improve them and carry them off. There was some discussion later that they'd been down a member, which hurts any band but especially one that drops from a three-piece to a duo; hopefully, the next time out, they'll be up to their full complement and be able to present their music as intended.
It was probably in this break that I started in on merch and stuff; I did take a couple pictures, but unwilling to throw elbows to get down front -- most of these bands, I have seen and will see in smaller venues where this isn't a problem, and I already did the "see Absu from contact range" thing -- in a large dark room, none of them came out, which is hardly surprising. No loss; the blurry, too-small pictures included with these writeups generally come out even less essential or useful than the ill-informed and occasionally flat-wrong words that accompany them.
After a while as a four-piece, Nachzehrer are back up to their full historical complement, for a pretty good result, despite the fact that they appear to still be bedding Morgan in at this point. His style's different from their prior guitarists, so some shakedown's expected, but this has the potential to go in a really cool direction. This set ran out a good bunch of recent music in a relatively straight-down fashion; some of that's the member change, and some is probably due to the fact that the Nachzehrer guys booked this show under their prod-company avatar, and thus had to avoid getting rofltanked in order to make sure things kept running smoothly. Regardless, sober(ish) Nachzehrer still has access to the same ripping black-thrash as the more lubricated version, and if this set wasn't as splashy as normal, it was probably a little more locked-in. Good stuff, and it's going to be really interesting to see how this lineup writes and records going further.
In here I flooded my hat in the bathroom sink for the first time. I was conscious of the last time I saw black metal bands in here, and while there is no danger of falling asleep to Absu, overheating is definitely a thing. I should have swapped rigs, since there's nothing to train for this year, but everything's obvious in hindsight.
Bog of the Infidel [5.5/7]
This was also a more straight-ahead performance from Bog than I've seen in the past, and one that resonated with a lot more of the second-wave-German stuff that they have in their arsenal, at least as opposed to what I can recall hearing from them recently. With both locals that I'd seen before having what felt like a slightly-off night, I started to suspect either the soundboard not dialing each band in exactly (locals for the most part get to take what they're given here), or just me being worn down from the heat. Regardless, even Bog with an engine governor is good Bog, and good black metal, and as the set went on, more of their better leads cut through, for an impressive end burying "The Corpse of God".
It was probably in this break that I did my main merch, which turned out to be Bog's surprisingly-excellent Live At AS220 -- that Bog of the Infidel is good should surprise no one at this point, but this is a really, really, good live recording, in terms of both consistency and fidelity, made by a black metal band in a DIY club -- a few hemmed, woven Nachzehrer patches (now, to figure out where to put them...), the current Absu tour shirt, and issue #1 of Codex Obscurum, which you should buy at your local DIY show if you're in eastern New England, or at your better-record-store-Andrew-knows-people-at elsewhere. The staff include most of the smartest-funniest people in eastern-Massachusetts DIY metal, who you've probably heard on record with Panzerbastard/CNV, Composted/TYAG, Dysentery/Parasitic Extirpation, Herugrim, Sexcrement/Neuraxis and a bunch of other bands, and who between them are responsible for almost everything insightful or lulzworthy that has ever been posted on RTTP. It is definitely worth at least the $2 cover price, and since actual paper zines are both cool and a lot of work, this endeavor deserves support.
Hæthen, up from Philadelphia, had the benefit of a slightly better and sharper sound than the bands that preceded them, but seemed to take a step back material-wise. This was still a good set, but not entirely memorable, especially not leading immediately in to Absu. They had a little more third-wave in their sound than any of the other openers, which isn't in itself a bad thing, but droning third-wave, as opposed to blastbeating second-wave, needs a lot more support from composition to get to the same levels of immediate audience engagement. These guys do tour into the northeast fairly often -- I missed them recently with Negura Bunget in Worcester -- so it's quite likely that I'll get another look at their sound sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately, this sample is all I have to go on for the time being. After putting another bunch of water in my hat, I picked up their current release on cassette and CD, reasoning that I could keep the cassette for neatness and collector value and actually listen to the CD, since I don't have a tape player at present that I trust not to destroy stuff. This didn't work out; the CD has readability issues which also make it a nice piece of artwork rather than a useful music vector, and I get to go scrounge around the internet to see if someone else has managed to get it to work long enough to rip and package the contents. Is what it is; this isn't the first DIY release I've had problems getting to scan correctly.
While this didn't hit all the highlights of that set at Party.San -- your average club show is better than your average festival, but slam-bang on the rail beats the hell out of nearly everything indoors -- it was longer, it covered more material, and in the end supplied a packed house with a full portion of damn good Absu songs. The band was locked-in and on-target despite a slightly later arrival to the venue and a limited soundcheck, and the well-tuned sound stacked well with the vicious thrashing aggression of the music to latch onto the audience and keep them held through nearly all of the 68-minute (as announced by Proscriptor, who was in rare form for insane banter and awe-inspiring random screams between songs). Being satisfied with "Never Blow Out The Eastern Candle", I kind of have a low bar for seeing Absu live these days, but those who need more convincing got theirs on "Stone of Destiny", which saw Proscriptor come out from behind the kit to do lead vocals in a fluffy buff coat, in addition to more damaged-amp-feedback-inspired screaming. At the end, the lights stayed down, and folk stayed in the room for the potential of an encore, but that was ultimately not forthcoming, the hour being late and Cambridge curfews being what they are. After 68 minutes of Absu, though, you don't really need an encore, no matter how much you want the onslaught to continue.
After the lights came on, I peeled, collected my ride, and headed north; this one took a little longer to organize due to some work commitments, but hopefully those won't hold back the writeup of tonight's speed/thrash timecapsule. Will Seax be in spandex? Will Hessian have more merch with cooter on it? Only time can tell.