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 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.
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.
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.