Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Master with Hate Storm Annihilation, Summoning Hate, Ramius, and Abstruktor [Sammy's Patio, Revere, 4/19/2014]

So despite hiking myself into the ground in the morning running around getting the last stuff for China, I drove out to this (not confident in making three train and one bus connections coming back) and after a short period of "what the hell is wrong with highways not going anywhere in Revere, man" I got to the venue, stowed the car further away than I had to, and hiked down along the beach.  Sammy's is located right on the water, so during the offseason (i.e., when it is too cold for guidos to LIKE A CHAMP all over the beach) there's tons of easily-accessible free parking for those who don't come in by the immediately adjacent Blue Line stop, and inside, beer is cheap and you're right on top of the band.

I picked up some stuff from Master, including a physical copy, at long last, of the Fuckin' Death demo, and then browsed the Wicked Music distro table.  This was a good and a bad thing; my wallet ended the sequence a hell of a lot lighter than it started, but there was a copy of Cancer's To The Gory End involved, and if you walk away from a copy of that record at an old school death metal show, you will not generally come back and find it again.  Front pockets armored up with death metal old and new (including Decrepit Birth's Progeny and the new Cynic, which is the first metal record of any stripe I've seen with commentary from the New York Times on a sleeve sticker), I got a beer and watched Abstruktor finish setting up.

Abstruktor [4/7]
I had not seen this band before, but in a way I had: over the course of a long set, what they provided was a lot of league-average, poorly-differentiated thrash metal that did not go much beyond "we like early Metallica a lot".  For the most part, it was pretty well executed technically, and the several lapses in keeping in time might be down to the lack of monitors (which Paul from Master would complain about later) and/or breaking in a new guitarist (Brendan also of Black Mass), but other bands didn't have these issues, and they might easily have been forgiven if there was more there here.  Abstruktor are an ok band, but didn't really offer anything in this set that couldn't have been replaced, in the general "melodic thrash also-rans" sense, by staying in and listening to my Blessed Death record.  Actually, I should have done that anyway and still gone out on time; "listen to Blessed Death" is usually a good choice regardless of the circumstance.

Abstruktor doing their thing.

Ramius [5/7]
Ramius got back to the death metal that most of the audience came here to see, and offered in their five songs a solid, lyric, and for the most part well-finished performance, despite opening with "Omegaton" again, which still starts off with that riff cut directly out of "Crystal Mountain".  Monitor circumstances notwithstanding, this was still about as good as set as I've seen from this band, and while it's good that they're continuing to develop, it's not quite so good that they still, after all this time, sound the most focused, confident, and dominating when they're playing other people's stuff.  The scene's as demanding of originality as of quality, and it would be awesome to hear Ramius originals that they kill as hard as they did on "Pull The Plug" this time out.

Ramius detonate the Omegaton.

In here I got another beer and attempted to support the local bands who had merch out without adding needlessly to my shirt piles, and failed it.  I can understand, in the presence of the internet, the reluctance of local bands to charge for demo burns, but it would be really nice to drop some cash, every now and then, and get something tangible that isn't going to get worn twice and then go in the SVdP box in eight months.  And if you must loss-lead all your stickers/demos/printed patches, then ffs, have a tip jar.

Summoning Hate [5.5/7]
In the too-long intervening time since I last saw this band, Juan has come back on at least shared vocals, bringing one of Boston's longest-running old-school death metal bands back almost full circle.  Marco still has a lot of the vocals, and still executes them pretty well, but much of their old stuff was written for one vocalist without an axe over his shoulder; Juan's lack of instrumental responsibility makes the delivery that much more guaranteed, and the dude still has one of the best sets of death metal lungs east of the Hudson.  At times it was a little crowded with five dudes in the limited stage space, and the member shift and shorter set time meant that a bunch of good stuff they frequently have done in the past got cut from the setlist, but this was still a killer set from some killer dudes who have been killing it for quite a long time.  That Brutality shirt on Juan in the picture down there isn't a reissue.

Juan and the Avilas, back together for the first time (well, in my experience) in a long time.

Hate Storm Annihilation [5/7]
On tour out of Chi-town and sharing Master's kit, Hate Storm Annihilation put on a thoroughgoing brutal death metal tech demo that shook out maybe a little short in the composition department, but excellent in every particular of execution.  The songs as such did not hang together on much beyond brutality, or in large part separate themselves from each other, but in this style, that can become secondary to Craig's heroic seven-string evocation of several more musicians and Konstantin's flawless blasting battery all around the kit.  This band is not going to end up at the NEMAHF (running concurrently with this show) at any point, but technical mastery and a brutal attack is always going to be accessible and in-demand for underground death metal audiences.  Another axe might help them evolve in composition, along either the lines of Decrepit Birth or Gigan, but Hate Storm Annihilation clubbed us pretty well into submission and definitely justified the haul out from the Midwest, even as they are.

Hate Storm Annihilation fan the flames with a relentless barrage of notes.

Nervochaos was supposed to play in here, but weren't able to get the work visas needed for the tour.  This was a bummer, but with them off and one of the original four local openers dropping and not being replaced, a seven-band bill got cut back to a much more normal and hospitable five.  This is about the limit for normal shows; much more, and you're starting to trend back towards Mark's territory and people claiming that their overbooked, early-starting club show is a "festival".

Master [6.5/7]
We're all getting older, and the bloom is off the rose; this set didn't quite come up to Master's previous Boston-area gig, but it was pretty fucking good, and a hell of a lot better than most of the band getting turned back at the border.  They played more new stuff on this go-round than then, but also more old stuff, including "Cut Through The Filth", which I'd never run across before, DIJTB II being super out of print and one generation before even I started following that comp series, and despite the carping from Paul about not being able to hear the vocals due to the lack of monitors, the sound was pretty much dead fucking on.  This was the one band that the floor really filled in for, and when dudes weren't knocking the mic stands over thrashing out, it combined with the primitive PA setup and the older Death Strike tunes to really emphasize the down-and-dirty DIY feel.  Sammy's is pretty fuckin' DIY in any case, combining the exterior of a warehouse show and the interiors of Anchors Up with a Revere Beach boardwalk bar, but Master ripping up most of the old grimy parts of the Boston death metal scene in a floor filled with equal parts band and audience is about as close as you're going to get to a basement gig on any show you pay money to get into.

Paul Speckmann, the best beard in death metal, the rest of Master, and a bunch of Boston dudes.

Eventually, though, they closed up, despite the tired crowd getting a second wind after "Pay To Die" and demanding encores, including some weirdo who wanted to hear "America the Pitiful".  When it was clear that no more was in the offing, I wound my back in and headed out home, which ended up taking like twice as long as it ought to have, through random back streets in Medford, Somerville, and Winchester, because I am bad at not getting lost all the time.  Fortunately, I didn't have much to do on Easter, and was able to get this down and dusted.  Unless I by some miracle manage to go to Cloudkicker (volume of hipsters in Allston and being on call at the time suggest not), this is the last show, and thus the last writeup, before I try to go to east Asia and do a bunch of fundamentally very stupid things.  We'll see if that works, and if I come back in one piece...and not in a pine box.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Aborted with Pyrexia, Totality, and Forced Asphyxiation [Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, 4/1/2014]

As a quick look down the page will show, I have been out to approximately fuck-all shows for way too goddamned long.  I was sick for Destruction and on call for literally goddamned everything else, in a shit cascade of bad luck that will continue for Metal Church and Carcass, because of course it does.  This one, though, I was not on call for, so I gave Chinese a pass on the night and went out to see some fuckin death metal.

I got down wicked early, as it turned out, and probably should have taken the bus in instead -- same time, less expense -- but was out of practice, especially with the Middle East's ridiculous definitions of 'doors' to include 'like an hour and a half before the first band can be reasonably expected to start'.  In the meantime I drank a couple beers, caught up with some dudes I hadn't seen in a while, and generally chilled out.  Doors trickled from 7:00 to 7:30 to nearly 8, and eventually I did get in (other people's concerns about potential sellouts and lack of advance tickets being completely chimerical), got the latest CD off Pyrexia, and picked up another beer because jeezo, this was dragging on and getting hot.

Forced Asphyxiation [5/7]
It'd been along time since I'd gotten out to a gig, period, but longer still since I'd last seen Forced, who appear to have straightened out whatever rumored issues were hanging around them and have definitely filled out their sound via adding another guitarist.  The board wasn't super kind to them at the start, but this is kind of an occupational hazard of opening gigs, and the sound guy got them dialed in after about a song and a half, with fairly minor effects on flow.  Forced is continuing to develop their no-holds-barred style of brutal but minimally slammy death metal, at times getting more technical, at times picking up some black metal tropes, and throughout, almost completely about weed.  That's going to continue to be go-to gag for lazy reviews of these guys, but seriously, we give a pass to bands all over the map whose songs are all uniformly about murder, and there's some good fuckin death metal under here.  This was a good set, and the start of an extremely active floor on the night.

Forced roaring through some weed puns.

Afterwards, I got another beer and had a couple mostly-apologetic words with some hen mei de xiaojie who I'd been catching rather than tanking for, because I make a lot better wall than a window; this show had a good mix of people, but quite a few dudes like me pushing two meters, and the sadly normal lack of height sorting that you kind of get at gigs.  The normal solution for short people is to go forward, but when people are mixing it up right from the very first local opener, on a Tuesday night, it occasionally deters the smaller end of that spectrum.

Totality [5/7]
Totality continued the battering, laying out a solidly brutal but still committedly technical set featuring Jarret's 8-string upgrade.  As noted to a couple people (including some from Romania and France), Totality is probably, right now, the best techy death band in Boston; some of that is a lack of competition (seriously, you have Replacire and then a struggle to classify either Abnormality or Parasitic as distinguishably "Boston-based" when their members are spread out all along the coast), but a good chunk of it is on the band themselves, who continue to do interesting, technical things without getting totally up their own ass about it and still continuing to kick ass.  There's a next step that they still have yet to take, but they've improved in execution and diversity since the last time I saw them, and eventually some of this newer material should make it onto record to testify.

Totality shred the audience.

Here I got another beer and looked at the local bands' tables; unfortunately, I owned basically one of everything Forced Asphyxiation had out already (I don't go to as many shows any more, but I've still been to too many local shows), and Totality had one new shirt design and zero new records.  I already have far too many shirts, and I've been making a conscious effort to have fewer; I know they're better and more reliable value for bands, but at a certain point, if I can't trade it for Annihilation or Yn Gizarm gear in China, it's going to sit at the bottom of a pile in my spare room for six months at a time.

Pyrexia [6/7]
Somehow, despite being aware of their existence since forever, I had never actually seen this band; a long, thoroughly hammering set of classic slam-tinged NYDM definitely remedied that.  They're a little closer to the likes of Deeds of Flesh (turned over Age of the Wicked, saw Unique Leader, was 0% surprised) or Mortal Decay than Suffocation or Malignancy, but ultimately that just helps the synthesis, a concise distillation of most of the things that were going on in brutal death metal in the I-95 corridor from '95 to '05.  Both their new stuff and old tunes as far back as "Sermon of Mockery" got a great response, and while the floor kept it going on the brutal pace that the openers had set, there was enough room that Eric could spend the start of a song riding around the pit on dudes' shoulders.  Whatever you expect from an upstairs show, the scene and bands have at least the possibility to surpass it.

Pyrexia in a rare standing-still moment between songs.

After Pyrexia, because I had to drive home and thus stop drinking beers at some point, I mostly just picked up their other two records and an Aborted shirt that turned out to be not the one I wanted, because it was out of stock (at least in fat-dude sizes) already.  Five days into the tour, with most of North America, including a five-date run across the friggin Canadian prairies ahead of them.  From one point of view, this is a good thing; the last thing bands want to do is have merch left over at the end of their run.  From another, it's not: Belgians, especially with an American in the band now, should have the expectation that North Americans will be a little bigger/fatter, generally, even death-grind fans, than Europeans.  In picking the CDs up off Pyrexia, I talked a little with the guys; they were wicked impressed with the turnout and activity on a Tuesday night, and similarly impressed with the news that it's not out of the question to get 50-75% of these numbers at Roggie's or O'Brien's for three or four local bands.  It's not all the same people, and it's not uniform, obviously, but this gig was maybe 100-120 people, a little short of the max upstairs capacity, and it's not unknown for local/DIY shows to fill up the 75-person rooms they play at.  As previously noted, the scene around here is pretty damn good.

Aborted [6.5/7]
As good as the bands before them were, Aborted definitely took it up another level.  Due to an unlucky mix of cancellations and (if I recall correctly) oversleeping at festivals, I hadn't actually seen these guys before; this set definitely made up for lost time.  Their grind-flavored death blasted the room absolutely flat, inspiring about the fiercest pit action that I haven't seen members of Proteus and Dysentery involved in; North American floors remain more ferocious than their Euro equivalents, but the set definitely picked up a European coloring from other elements, from the melodic leads laid over everything to the roided-up ned in the Real Madrid shirt laying people out.  (Disclaimer: Andrew is a friend and not a ned, nor, as far as I know, actually on chemical gym supplements.  This doesn't matter when you're getting body-checked by some 6'/240lb meat tank.)  The beatings continued straight up to the venue curfew, over a short encore led in by a minimum of bullshit, and if nobody had really had enough by the time the lights went up, nobody can rationally claim to have gotten shortchanged by this set.

Sven churns the pit.

After the show, I picked up Aborted's new 7" (if you carry breakables on you at a death-grind gig, you are light in the brains and heavy in the wallet), then bailed.  The fact that I'm right up Mass Ave now made the run back easier, and I got in early enough not to be too affected the next morning.  Work and other commitments, though, pushed this writeup out; hopefully, I'll get the Satan gig at the conclusion of this on-call shift reported on faster.