Friday, April 05, 2013
Lore with Atlatl, Mairin and Baliset [Ralph's, Worcester, 4/4/2013]
This was only one of several shows on for this date, for a fairly even mix of quality; yet another argument for the scene around here, at least when everyone brings their A-game at the same time, as among the best in the world. This one picked up my attention for several reasons, but most of it came down to being on a bit of a prog/djent kick lately (seriously, you will not find a better single dollar to spend on the internet than minimum-pricing Deathmøle's Fear of Black Horses EP) and not having been out to Worcester for a while. Due to the latter, I mistimed the ride out again, and despite stopping for food, car cleanup, and gas, I still got in well before nominal doors, and got to spend enough time browsing the Wicked Music table to drop entirely more than I probably should have on old Vried and Immolation records. Eventually, Baliset got set up and ready enough to start playing, and save my wallet any further non-band-related damage.
I had heard a lot about this band, but not actually seen them live to this point; while they were debatably the least metal of the four on offer, they ran out a strong and incredibly diverse set of heavy-ish progressive-ish material that took as much from Nightingale (or, more likely, Camel, Wishbone Ash, and that band's other 70s-prog points of departure) as it did from Maudlin of the Well. Despite ranging all over that map, the band managed to keep their songs together and connected most of the way through; to the degree that there was a debit on the performance, it was that Greg's frequent tuning breaks occasionaly confused observers as to whether he was tuning because his backup guitar was broken (since it was), or just because Baliset tends to use like five guitar tunings per song just in normal practice. It's not Maudlin of the Well by any stretch of the imagination, but Baliset is and remains the best way to see those kinds of ideas brought forward in heavy music around Boston.
Baliset sets up. I didn't know that Shannon from Avariel was doing live female vocals with Baliset before coming down, but if I had, that would have been an extra inducement. Without that vocal line, which has been flagged as studio-only in the past, the music would be weirdly empty in a lot of places, and the material gives her a lot more and more consistent opportunities to use her whole range than, oddly, her own band does.
Greg equips an e-bow for an extreme choke-up.
In from Ohio, these guys started strong, complex, and aggressive while simultaneously accessible, then lost their way a little bit going back to their older stuff. Said older stuff was still pretty good, but less focused and a little more obviously Opeth-cloney, while the newer material has echoes of as if Meade's Army was written for conventional guitars. (Ok, enough with the Deathmøle, but this is a badass album and thus solid praise.) The band's going in the right direction, and they're good enough to make a damn good impression on the road as it is, but the best is still to come from these guys. Very good stuff, and hopefully they'll be back with a full-length.
Lloyd rips it; note that Dan still had his shirt on at this point.
Greg comes up to play his solo from "Inside A View".
In this break, Chris' wife started handing out bacon cupcakes to everyone in the venue. As terrible an idea as that might sound on the face of it, they turned out damn good; with a denser, drier cake body that was more scone or biscuit weight and a cream-cheese frosting that was less frosting and more cream cheese, the result was a savory rather than sweet confection that balanced, rather than fought with, the crumbled bacon on top. Bringing weird ideas to successful fruition through smarts and solid planning -- like, say, doing a nearly-all-DIY metal night for closing in on 7 years and 200 consecutive outings -- must run in the family.
I'm a little uncomfortable putting an arbitrary and usually-wrong number next to this band, because I remain insufficiently convinced that Atlatl is a metal band at all, rather than a mildly-djenty indie/post-rock outfit with occasional harsh vocals. If they're a metal band, they're about the happiest and most resolution-obsessed member of the genre that I've come across; complex chords all over the place, but they resolve themselves regularly, rather than stirring down into a sea of pulsing tension that requires a breakdown to release. They made some good music, and put it together into a fun set, but all that is good is not necessarily metal, and the iron maxim remains: neither adding heavy guitars to a piece of music, nor removing them, can change its fundamental character...and the guitars at issue here weren't even really that heavy. Good stuff, but I'm not sure how many metal bills they'll get on going forward.
Atlatl shaking it up.
On hearing this set, I had to go back and double-check the previous two assessments to make sure that I was still talking about the same band. A lot can change in a year, and what has changed with Lore is that they have almost completely discarded the Arctopus angle previously evident for a more focused, violent, direct, and live-performance-friendly collision of Atheist and Scatterbrain. This should be all the explanation required as to why this was a complete badass set, but some people, for whatever reason, need the fusion of free jazz and technical death metal explained to them as a good thing. Full of densely-knotted brutality, with all three musicians occasionally playing independent lines at once, Lore also allowed their songs to breathe and move with soul, exactly as far as necessary and always within the general structure -- except that one time when they didn't and just did a John Zorn-vs-Jimi Hendrix breakdown. I've allegedly missed a bunch of Lore gigs out here, but this is as good a place as any to come back in on their development, and it's about time that people more than five blocks from their jamspace started to pay attention.
Lore blasting the audience.
The lights went up about one AM, and I hit the road, still having to work the next morning, and got home about 2:30 after an extensive caffeine assist. I missed the chance to go see Living Colour with a bunch of the work crew, but as I said when thinking I was putting in for tickets, I'd rather see Scatterbrain or Fishbone from that era and scene, and I damn near as saw Scatterbrain with a side of Atheist last night. Onward; Absu and pure black madness next Tuesday.