It’s A Double Header! Face To Face at the Brighton Music Hall and Corrosion Of Conformity in Saudi Iraqistan Downstairs

I’ve been getting lazy with writing, and that’s all your fault, so let’s get down and dirty, then shower together after.

I’m gonna go ahead and say that on June 17 of our Lord’s year 2012, I went to one of the most unique shows I’ve ever been to.Yes, this is keeping Lights in consideration, who is electropop, a genre which I haven’t experienced much of, but c’mon, how many people can say they’ve seen a band play an acoustic set of an album they absolutely never have touched live before? You’ve got a double whammy of unusual circumstances which add up to a show you’d be a fool to miss, mainly because Face To Face’s best album is Ignorance Is Bliss, bar none. Stripping away their Punk sound for a more Alternative approach, it was a lot more accessible, but did get a bit of flaming from lamers. Some of those same lamers actually showed up, having grown warm to the album, so that was good to see. Opener Nat Rufus was a nice blend of Against Me!/Rise Against styled punk with a little bit of a country spice thrown in, all done acoustic for good measure. His music has been featured on Sons Of Anarchy, so it’s pretty badass. Face To Face took the stage soon after, and it’s quite clear from the start that they’re chill guys before they’ve even said a word.

So that shitty cellphone picture is just what I saw the whole set; two guys playing their hearts out in a terrible venue because they love us. Sersiously, the Brighton Music Hall has no decoration, and I’m betting it did when it was still Harper’s Ferry. No matter, they sure were a bright light in the murky water that seems to be that venue’s concert line-up. Though I digress. It was up-close and intimate, with myself being second or third from the front and intently watching Trever and Scott’s fingers glide across their guitars, occasionally stumbling, as humans are wont to do, but that’s all part of the stripped down, organic nature of transferring punchy electricity to the once breathing wood. The highlights were my favorite, Everyone Hates A Know-It-All, Lost,  and Maybe Next Time. Primo cuts from primo beef. Another advantage of this show being at such a small and intimate venue is I got to meet Trever, shake hands, express gratitude at playing such a wonderful album in full, etc. Check it out!

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Oh yeah, my idioteque phone decides to delete pictures instead of saving it like a smart phone because I make one small slip-up. Well, at the very least I still have the memory.

Now this here show I wasn’t expecting to be too off the wall, since it’s the Middle East, a venue that has become infamous in my mind for its almost telepathic no mosh policy. Why the fuck wouldn’t you move when Gaza‘s on, dammit? Inb4 jokes about Gaza being in the Middle East.

Putting the fear of no God into a Godful nation.

Hailin from SLC, Utah, these punks make Sludgecore interesting. The trick is to add some angular mathematics, a healthy dose of schizophrenia, and a genuinely formidable sound/stage presence combo that’ll make the nonbelievers sing “Hallelujeracunt!” while devolving into an orgy of violence. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, this venue is full of squares, and if you’re looking to punch someone in the nose, go to the Palladium. It’s still great to see that Jon’s mannerisms have only gotten more insane, with him at a few points abandoning his microphone to infiltrate the crowd and bellow from within, and even before that he had jumped down into the crowd area to get more of a “punk rock vibe goin'”. Attaboy.

DESSSSTROOOOOOOOOOOY YOOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

While many audience members looked confused or scared at Jon prowling around menacingly while the band continued to blast their warning message to everyone’s unready ears, I and the other Gaza fans took delight in knowing what would happen. From dragging his microphone along the ground to create an odd homemade doomy ambiance to him sounding like a raving, drunken preacher denouncing the world’s ills, it had all the hallmarks of a great Gaza performance. The only problem was that about 5 out of however many attendees seemed to enjoy being touched, pointed at, yelled at, or generally graced with the chest of (since Jon’s always taller than everyone) a monster. The new material promises to be as punishing, if not more so than previous outings, and if they ever do decide to go soft, it’d still sound like fellow Sludgecore band Imbroglio’s ugly little sister on heroin mixed with gunpowder for extra kick.

Following these titans were a relatively smaller band, both in size and I dearly hope influence, Black Cobra. Since they drove me damn near to drowsiness with a lack of actual songwriting dynamics and also-ran performance in general (or maybe their songs actually were that badly written), then I’ll make my review the same. Suck it. And the guy in the white Baroness shirt who was actually into that band can suck it too. I’d assumed they’d be boring because of their name, and it saddens me to know I was right.

Torche broke the monotonous smoky fuck cloud created by the cobra with their mixture of heavier than thou Sludge Metal and a poppy sensibility that can only come from being from the flowery state of Florida.

It’s a guitar party, and you’re invited.

Torche have somehow found the exact right balance between heaviness and melody, perfected by similar bands such as Canada’s Bison B.C. and Boston boys The Proselyte. Just note how this song here, with the assistance of some neato effects, goes from being a moderately heavy Stoner Metal number to sounding like a depth charge in your speaker.

Like frosting on a supple cake, they know how to perfectly accent their songs with interesting elements so you actually feel like you’re participating in the listening experience. People reacted well to Torche, as they’ve been here several times and have built up a small but dedicated base in Boston, including some non-Metal folk, which just goes to show their versatility. Here’s to hoping Torche keep up the great work as the superheroes of Stoner Pop.

Raleigh’s own Corrosion Of Conformity have been around a long time, and can actually claim that the birthing of Crossover Thrash and some of the popularity of Sludge Metal belongs to them, which one of their new songs, The Doom seems set on demonstrating.

They’re also dirty mothafuckas.

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They just put out a new album, and recently came around recently in support of Clutch, who are also dirty old men who like their drink. If you’re from the South, it’s impossible to be Edge. C.O.C. might be some low-down dirty dogs, but their music is actually quite technical and dare I say… mildly Proggy, and is nowhere near as lazy as a good dose of Southern heat normally puts bands anywhere below Virginia. With this odd combination of technical Crossover and groovy Sludge, one who’s not all too familiar with them may just look in awe at how they can stand with their bodies being about 65% liquor and dirt, and then be awed at how they seamlessly go from one style to another.

It’s clear how they got to be so influential, because it causes a reaction in the vagina of every lesbian. A couple of girls who I’m sure had never seen each other before that night decided to bust out some PG-13 action for all to see. It was… peculiar to say the least, but there were no children around to complain, since this band’s for grown folk. Go see them and hopefully you’ll score too.

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ALBUM REVIEW: CHELSEA GRIN

Evolve – (Artery Recordings)

 

CHELSEA GRIN, a deathcore outing from the land where fun goes to die (also known as SLC, Utah), has grown (in)famous since their Cesarian section birth in 2007, which divided the Extreme music listening world in two camps: Those who loved CHELSEA GRIN and dug their chugtastic formula, and those who wished an untimely death upon GAZA’s fellow townsmen. I remained impartial, since they haven’t proved themselves worthy of capital punishment, just court jesters in the realm of Deathcore. Boasting two albums and an EPs all in 5 years leads to a lot of rushing, recycling and no time to actually, y’know, write good songs. A challenger by the name of Jason Richardson, hailing from Progressive Deathcore contemporaries BORN OF OSIRIS has joined the ranks, playing guitar better than Ziggy. Could this be the redemption this band needs to go from drab to fab? Could the title of this EP be a  sign that they’re done writing the same breakdown over and over, and are willing to push their limits to uncomfortable, but ballsy places? Let’s begin, and mind your head.

The Second Coming” opens up with some cheesy strings, and a breakdown that sounds as though it was written for BORN OF OSIRIS’ newest release, The Discovery. In fact, the keys, synth accents, and twinkles that decorate the breakdowns like hood ornaments on a tank are telltale signs that Mr. Richardson had a lot of say in how this album was written. It’s almost a note-for-note clone of something that came from BORN OF OSIRIS’ more forgettable tunes, but that’s still a major step up for CG, who were once content to write the wimpiest breakdowns known to deathcore. Speaking of breakdowns, I’d be a fool not to mention that those have actually improved vastly. Where they were once monotonous interrupted chugging, on this track they allow more room for the low end to come in and provide punch. I always said CG would be better if they wrote heavier breakdowns at least. Maybe they read my Christmas letters.

Up next is the track that was released as a promotional tidbit to get everyone excited, “Lilith“. Having heard this when it came out, my feelings were mixed, as this track starts out directly aping their peers SUICIDE SILENCE in every arena, from the vocals to the tempo of the riff and drums that kicks in at about 50 seconds. It’s a bit of a drop in quality for the time being, until Alex’s clean vocals came in. Yes, you heard that right, and if you hadn’t already checked it out, do so at once. Like their pals in ALL SHALL PERISH, BRING ME THE HORIZON, and EMMURE, they’ve decided to break the vocal monochromaticism and inject some soul. Surprisingly enough, they’re not too bad, and the sweep behind them is well written, and not stolen from an earlier song, like so many of them are. Overall, they were wise to put this track out first, even if it doesn’t display the proficiency they keep locked away tighter than a Mormon virginity.

S.H.O.T.” immediately opens with a jumpdafuckup, proving old habits die hard. Shortly after that nonsense they come back to the BORN OF OSIRIS worship, only to run headfirst into another everybody-fuckin’-bounce, and repeat as needed for pain. CHELSEA GRIN have always liked to tease with being able to play their instruments but then subsequently ignite a bro mosh. This track toggles from melodic technical noodling to wifebeater chugs. Take my pick as to which I liked better.

The opening breakdown to “Confession” sounds like it was written for them by a collaboration between No Time To Bleed-era SUICIDE SILENCE and OCEANO. Pure laziness takes the stage here with some left/right trade-offs and a of sweeping behind the plainly bored breakdown. Following that is what I swear is a splice from the beginning riff of AFTER THE BURIAL’s “Berzerker”, and then another uninspired frat boy chug. Remember, kids, CHELSEA GRIN are actually decent musicians, they’re just part of this ADHD generation. I’m only reviewing an EP, but it feels like that moment in the middle of an album where the band seems painted in a corner of their own good ideas. Vocalist Alex’s vocals aren’t usually particularly good, but it feels like he’s half-assing this song. I can practically hear them phoning in their lunch order by the end.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is CHELSEA GRIN’s pop song (quite literally), and once again, we’ve made The Discovery our main course, gentlemen, and women. Can’t forget the women, that’d be sexist. From this track I get an odd J-Rock vibe, namely bands like D’ESPAIRSRAY and PHANTASMAGORIA, as well as that of a Christcore band by the name of FOR TODAY when they start getting hymnal. It gets a bit repetitive at around the 3 and a half minute mark and if it were shorter, it’d be a perfect celebration of their… evolution. After that is a remix of “The Human Condition”, which is a track I never particularly cared for, and if anything it just sounds even worse, so not exactly essential listening. I suspect they only threw it in so the album would end on a heavier note, but sometimes, like the time honoured sport of coitus, it’s better to go out soft.

THE VERDICT: Ripping off others more talented that are in their field and stumbling on gold is what some do best. Just ask Jim Theis.
 

Thug Lyfe.

 

 
GRADE: B

ALBUM REVIEW: ANCIENT VVISDOM

A Godlike Inferno – (Prosthetic)

ANCIENT VVISDOM, pronounced ‘Wisdom’, unless you’re German. This here be the semi-acoustic project of Jake and Nate from INTEGRITY, along with Justin from a band named IRON AGE, which I haven’t heard yet. With this supergroup-esque gathering of guys from some well-respected Crossover Thrash/Hardcore bands, you’d be forgiven for assuming this project would be a brainchild that shared at least some trace of DNA. What we have here is, in the parlance of our times, a curve-ball from hell in the form low-key paeans to the “Dark One” ideal for a drinking circle with wild woodsmen around a fire rather than a circle of moshers.
“Alter Reality”
As I mentioned earlier, with members hailing from Metallic Hardcore bands, one would be fooled into thinking this is one of those “calm before the storm” tracks. After all, this album is called “A Godlike Infucken’ferno“, so it’s gonna be a firey hellstorm of blazing riffs, machine gun double bass, and larynx punishing shouts, correct?
Instead you’re treated with some softly sung, yet eerie vocals over a steady mid-tempo guitar riff. To use a clichéd word, haunting lyrics take the stage, and soon after comes an electric guitar playing a riff that you’d probably hear on the radio had it not been accompanied by lyrics that are definitely a bit too Pagan for your local Rock Block.  Some odd metallic clanking chimes in with the electric guitar almost like pickaxes hitting iron or a sword being forged, along with a sort of marching drum cadence to seal the deal as far as the militaristic vibe goes.
“The Opposition”
Continuing along in the wooden direction, we have our second in a line of 8 songs about challenging God to a rock’n’roll showdown and being damn proud of being a sinner. This one’s a tad bit heavier than the last, with a bit more of a stomp’n’clap set-up. Where the last was a march to a battlefield, this is a rallying cry to Lucifer, unabashedly Satanic with lyrics like “Hail to thee, God of the Underworld/I sing praises to thee, and I suffer no more.” Not exactly grade-A poetry, but it gets the message across. Boasting a larger hook than “Alter”, this comes across as a hit single gone to the dark side.
“Necessary Evil”
A bit more of a dusty, sun-burnt country vibe opens this track, with a little bit of tambourine giving an out-of-place celebratory feel. The atmosphere just screams abandoned old-Western town, and I dig how well they managed to capture both the spooky and accessible, making combining them look easy. If BIGELF didn’t employ weird accents and made morose country, this is probably how it would come out. Completely eschewing the electric guitar this time, it maintains an organic body throughout, allowing the rumble of bass drums to resonate all the more clearly.
“Forever Tonight”
What could this track possibly sound like? Folksy acoustic guitar driven Blues rock with lyrics about Satan and the occult? Perhaps, but let’s not jump to conclusions, and move on to uncovering Atlantean ruins.
“Lost Civilization”
This song makes no bones about opening up with a rockin’ riff and a plodding drum beat. My one complaint about this otherwise very catchy and well-done track is that the lyrics are so base that you’d be better off ignoring them. If you can get past that, then you may enjoy your reward of the first guitar solo on the album, which comes as a pleasant surprise after the release was starting to drag into the Doldrums of monotony and tunnel visions of Satan. Too bad it’s the track that’s written in such a way you want to sing along. Even though it’s half a minute shorter than “The Opposition”, which is the longest track, it feels like it drags on for a couple too many.
“Devil Brain”
Oh Satan, how I missed you for five minutes. This song continues the hard rockin’ formula of the last one, and with even cheesier lyrics, and a cheddar-drenched title. I really hope they didn’t just run out of ideas for good songs near the end of the album writing process, because that would be a huge disappointment. The chorus riff reminds me a little of the main riff from GEORGE THOROGOOD’s “Bad To The Bone”, so I get some odd imagery of Satanic biker gangs.
“VVorld Of Flesh”
Another guitar solo, though nowhere near as bombastic as that on “Lost Civilization”, opens up under some chilly acoustic noodling. The vocals on the chorus kind of hearken to another Doomy rock’n’roll band, GHOST, with the same chilling effect. ANCIENT VVISDOM’s strength is in the slow and brooding songs, though there is some heavy riffing and pounding drums, but it’s never allowed to rev up too high for its own good. Around the 3 minute mark the song speeds up a bit, and manages to not topple over itself. Another searing solo, this time piercing the heavens! Starts strong, ends strong, is strong, like Mother RRRussia.
“Children Of The Wasteland”
With a completely mellow closer, a real ‘one sad man and his guitar’ feel takes over for the conclusion. If COREY TAYLOR were a better musician, this is the song he could’ve written for SLIPKNOT’s Vol. 3 album instead of the excessively wimpy “Vermilion Pt. 2″.
THE VERDICT: A strong release with a lot of potential, with room for improvement, mainly in the lyrical department.
GRADE: B+
The VVisdom is all in the facial hair.

Redneck From Hell Presents: The Contortionist At Rocko’s in Manchestaw, Namshawfudamshaw

The following occured on May 23rd, but time is relative when intoxication and sleep are your hobbies.

Gee, isn’t it oodles of fun when your gang of metal ruffians goes to a predominantly hardcore show and gets jumped by asshole skinheads for simply attending? Despite this happening, and one of my buddies actually getting his head split open as a result of said asshole skinheads, The Contortionist rocked it. Due to the circumstances surrounding the show, I’m only reviewing a few of the local bands, since much of my night was devoted to dealing with some real mofuckas. Also, the bands I’m skipping are all generic djent-core and sound exactly the same, so whatever.

Don’t worry too much about the missing bands, as they mostly sucked anyway.

As Tyrants Fall is one of two local openers I will be reviewing. This band was the eye of the storm: a bright, shining, not completely-horrible band in an ocean of two-stepping and arm-flailing. The band plays technical death metal on the verge of being technical deathcore. I didn’t hear anything that I remembered afterwards, but in the moment the guitar lines and vocals were fun. The problem is that following the eye comes more storm. The bass was inaudible, and the drummer was honestly really out of sync with the rest of the band. It may have been an off day for him, as he’s very tight on the band’s demo, but I can’t praise him here since he was just so off his game at the show. Truth be told, most of the audience didn’t react to the band since they were more metal than hardcore, and there were only really one or two parts per song for the sillies to hop around and pretend to throw bowling balls. Alright, I guess.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

This band is like if you mashed together Necrophagist, Emmure, and GG Allin: Technical guitars, lots of breakdowns, and sloppy as fuck. 5.5/10

Pathogenic wins most improved award from me. This band just keeps on getting better and better every time I see them. They canned the clean singer, which is HUGE. I hope with heavy corn syrup. -Ed. That guy murdered every song he popped up on, he had no stage presence, and running the risk of being mean, kinda looked like a Godzilla-sized crying baby every time he opened his mouth to pop out a few notes. Even better, the material seems to have been altered, and old songs flow better than ever, while the new songs have a distinct Death-gone-djent feel, which is frankly, pretty cool. They have a commanding presence onstage, and their technical prowess would probably make your mother squirt. I can’t believe this is the same band I saw at Black Xmas 2 years ago. Just unbelievable.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

If Pathogenic continues in the direction they’re headed, they will achieve something big. 8/10

The first band on the touring bill was Your Memorial, and while the music they played wasn’t my style (technical/melodic/djenty hardcore), they were entertaining in their own right. I’m sensing a theme here. -Ed.  The guitars had some interesting parts amidst TONS of beatdowns, and the drums were fun, if not spectacular. The singer actually surprised me by being solid as fuck. Let’s face it: good vocalists are as easy to find in the modern hardcore scene as a diamond in my shit after a week-long Popeye’s binge. Note to self: Eat more Popeye’s, invest in a sifter. -Ed. This guy, for whatever reason though, pulled off a style that was halfway in-between hardcore and death metal that was more hateful and vitriolic than 90% of vocalists in the scene. However, here is where I go into full-on rage mode. It is becoming seriously tiring to see bands get up on stage and give big ups to their deity of choice. I do not give a fuck. It’s getting ridiculous how many of these bands stop their set to go on a preachy rant about how awesome religion is. To all bands that do this: Good for you, you like God. You know why your music sucks? Because you think your worship lyrics are more important than the music they’re set to. I have never found a religious band that doesn’t suffer from this. They stop acting as musicians, and instead begin to play pastor. After they finish their fucking sermon, the fans all cheer and hug or some shit, claiming “those dudes are so brave; it’s so hard to say that if you play heavy music.” No, it’s not. It’s not fucking brave, it’s not fucking cool; if you think that, then stick your penis in a toaster oven. Kirk Windstein is religious, and he doesn’t pull that kinda shit. Crowbar puts music first. And they’re awesome. Your Memorial doesn’t, and as a result they are a generic and faceless metalcore band with some potential. Start thinking as a musician, not a preacher, and you might get somewhere.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

As much as I hate what this band stands for (putting religion before music), they played alright, and DID have potential. They are technically competent. They can’t write a song to save their lives. The vocalist is good. The bassist is inaudible. I like and hate this band in about equal amounts, so I should give them a 5, but that feels a little low, so we’ll call it a 6 on the fucking silly 1-to-10 scale. There you have it. 6/10

The Plot In You was fairly tight. Honestly, if I was blind, besides the fucking stupid, whiny, off-key, emo singing bits, you could have told me Your Memorial was still on and I probably would have believed you. This is boring, generic metalcore. And if it’s called something else now, I’m still going to call it metalcore because that’s what it sounds like: a singer who is halfway between metal and hardcore, guitars that alternate between hardcore breakdowns and two-step riffs, and metal At the Gates-style rip-offs. Drums are technical and tight, but generally boring. I really enjoyed nothing about this band. As mentioned before: Basically sounds like Your Memorial with one or two distinguishing factors (stupid singing bits and a weak shout). Also pregnancy. -Ed.  You could say they get bonus points for not stopping the set to talk about God, but I’m not gonna reward them for NOT doing something. Also, fuck the stupid hatemoshing fans that were targeting metalheads (these fucks actually targeted a dude on fucking crutches. Disgusting.). This band sucks.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

I kind of hate this band. Actually, I totally do. 3/10

Now, up to this point, it may seem like the show was a waste of time and money, given that the one band that scored higher than a 6 had just played at Metalfest, a show that I was at. Actually, The Contortionist did too, but they got timefucked. 20 minutes for a prog metal band? Come on. The Contortionist really do something special and unique to themselves, though. If power had went out after the first song, it would have been worth the 14 dollar price of admission. I’m an occasional reader of Decibel magazine (the only major metal publication worth a damn), and during a review for The Breathing Process’ last album (I don’t remember the actual reviewer, but if I did he would get a shout out for being way better than I fucking am) they said something very wise, that I completely agree with as both a musician and a listener. I can’t recall the exact wording because I’m a useless drunk, but it was along the lines of “There comes a time in every band’s career where they evolve from playing a genre of music to playing music.” The Contortionist has only one full length album, and they have done that. Their song choices were fairly obvious, but frankly it didn’t matter. This band PLAYS. They know what the fuck they’re doing, and they command a fucking stage. The new material sounds amazing, by the way, even though it completely stumped fans of The Plot In You, who stood around looking puzzled. Almost all the other bands onstage sorta just sleepwalked through their sets. The Contortionist actually looked confident as fuck and proud. And why not? The songs they play are expertly crafted with the utmost care–you know they put effort into this shit, whereas, The Plot In You, for instance, just kinda throws notes together. This is getting long-winded though, so I’m going to wrap up: This band deserves to be on a bill with bands they actually fit with (let’s say The Faceless, Cynic, Animals as Leaders, Between the Buried and Me–something like that). They deserve to play to people that care about the music as much as them. This band is going somewhere big, and if they don’t, it’s the result of people being idiots. No fault of their own. Amazing.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

Come on. Fucking DUH. 9.5/10

Oh yeah, sorry for not being silly enough in the Contortionist portion of this review. I guess I’m a douchebag. Go fuck yourself. Already there. -Ed.

–Redneck from Hell

Maryland Deathfest X – Over The Hills Came The Bottles Of A Thousand Drunks: Sunday

On this most final of days, a mixture of emotions welled up in my dying heart: I was at once sad to see it all end so quickly, yet at the same time I wanted nothing more than to be back home on a normal eating schedule.I missed out on Backslider due to group dawdling, but I caught wind of their set not being particularly great anyhow, so I probably didn’t miss much. In addition to them putting on a mediocre performance, apparently the promoters of MDF didn’t realize that Backslider’s entire discography adds up to just about 10 minutes, and still gave them a half hour with which to roughly hew the faces from the attendees. Coke Bust, being none the wiser to the schedule and how important it is to adhere to it, started a bit early, so it’s good I showed up early.

The ideal drummer outfit includes short-shorts.

Coke Bust aren’t exactly a Grindcore band, but their intensity, song lengths, and love of the blast might have some fooled. They’re Straight-Edge and quite proud of it, so don’t let that be a turn-off, since they’re probably one of the best Hardcore bands I’ve discovered in recent times. The set probably only lasted about 8 minutes, but anyone who knew how to dance did so accordingly, because time is money for a band who pride themselves on keeping it short and sweet, giving any band after them time to dick around during set-up. I greatly enjoyed every second of it, with this DC outing pumping out some of their sweetest tunes, including No Authority, Deathbed, Degradation, and Another Fucking Problem. I am a satisfied customer.

Up next were Australian grinders, Agents of Abhorrence, who have drawn comparisons to the legendary Discordance Axis, and you’ll see why if you give both a listen.

It was loud, dirty, and at times surprisingly harmonic, which is the kind of brain-bending stuff I like in my Grindcore. Not to say the old way isn’t great too, but a little experimentation is always great, and not just for your sex life. I’m sure these guys don’t hit up the US very often, since Australian bands who aren’t Parkway Drive have a hard time getting big, much less the support for tours, so for anyone who missed this half-hour of power, shame.

Still dealing with blows of exhaustion after going all-out for Coke Bust, I basically sat through Cough and Rwake‘s sets, taking in the Sludgy mayhem both unleashed in a row. Note to all: When exhausted, keep in mind that this kind of music will counteract any rest you try to get if you’re sitting too close to where it’s being played. After the latter finished, I dragged myself into the sunlight to catch Church Of Misery, Japan’s bluesiest serial-killer obsessed Doom outfit.

Someone please photoshop a Head & Shoulders logo over this

You would never believe the amount of Hardcore dancing that went down during this set. It was damn ridiculous that any went down at all, to be honest. Blame it on spillover from fans of the two opening bands of the day, I suppose. The dickery of the crowd did little to diminish the quality of the music blasting from the stage, luckily, with pounding grooves and early 70s psychedelia colliding with Hideki’s schizophrenic delivery, ranging from Rock’n’Roll howls to hellish growls and pained screams.

The band didn’t miss a beat the entire time, despite looking stoned out of their minds, but for a band of their type, it must come with the territory.

Keeping in line with the Sludge/Stoner/Doom theme of the Sabbath day was YOB, who are in my personal running for one of the heaviest bands out there.

The dancing weirdo trend must have caught on for YOB, since some people were picking up some dropped change during some of the sludgier parts of the three songs YOB played. Successfully enjoying their ethereal brand of Stoner Doom (some call it “stoom”) involved a little meat dodging, but no matter. YOB played two tracks off the new release Atma, which seems to be even larger and more crushing than previous effort The Great Cessation, which I thought impossible. They seem to be actively trying to one-up themselves with each release, and that’s the mark of dedicated musicians. Also, it is indeed pronounced like “Yawb”.

YOB’s sound can only be described as celestial bodies waging war by colliding into one another, so if that sounds like your thing, do it up. The final song they played was The Mental Tyrant from The Great Cessation. Not one of my favorites from that album, as I would have preferred The Lie That Is Sin or the title track, but it’s YOB, so it promised to be epic regardless. Seeing only three songs seemed much too short, so I hope to catch them headlining a tour soon.

Right after YOB’s last note I fought my way outside and towards the stage where Suffocation was already in the process of laying waste to the crowd.

The Slap-Chop is a go-go

This set was quite special amongst the 3 other times I’ve had the pleasure of catching them (two of which were in their home state of New York), in that they played a set consisting mostly of old songs and stuff they either don’t play often or haven’t played in over ten years. The whole set was a trip back in time, with the most recent tracks being Cataclysmic Purification from Blood Oath and Abomination Reborn from the 2005 s/t. They even played a couple tracks off Despise The Sun, which was a real wowser.

Another difference between this set and all the others is that long-time drummer Mike Smith has stepped down (again) to make room for Dave Culross of Despise The Sun fame, which probably explains the heavy leaning towards the old, and two tracks from a release he kinda helped create. Guy seems to be growing his hair back, and looks weird as hell. I was almost getting used to him being bald, but the curly moptop deal he’s currently sporting makes him unrecognizable to say the least.

Happy late birthday to the broccoli head.

Frank’s banter was classy as usual, with talk of him wishing he could be in the army just to kill people, and how the sun’s a bastard and screwed him over, it’s the story of everyman. The crowd was violent and I think I witnessed a few injuries, and a man walking around with a bleeding eye was swinging wildly at anyone he came in contact with. Great success was had. Saint Vitus followed on the opposite stage, and so did a cloud of magic smoke.

Never look a wild Wino in the eyes.

Saint Vitus have been delivering some of the fuzziest, bombed out, bluesy Doom this side of the Atlantic for just a decade less than the masters Black Sabbath, which is still a damn long time, and considering that Saint Vitus is officially making a return like a slow, stoned phoenix from resin laced ashes, they’ve proven their tenure shall be grander and more enduring. Weinrich and co. playing back-to-back with Electric Wizard is a scientific formula made to get people goddamn high, and nothing more, but good music was involved, so the crowd willingly fell for it.

My only gripes with this set were that Wino’s voice wasn’t as powerful as it is on record (possibly due to lack of ridiculous reverb) and this is my own fault, but I didn’t recognize a great deal of the songs. Though I was hoping dearly that they’d either play Zombie Hunger or their self titled song, I still enjoyed the slow, brooding heaviness that is 34 years of smoky doom come back from the grave. Weinrich proved to be an able frontman even after all these years, surprisingly encouraging the moshers during their set, and saying “Fuck the pigs”. A man after my own heart.

Not one to stand all the way in the back during Electric Wizard‘s set, I made my way down to the other stage during the last few songs, and I learned that pot doesn’t always mellow people out.

The true stoner witch

To say that Electric Wizard don’t play the US often is to say that not all homeless people are in a dire situation. Due to a combination of legal issues and hating the weed over here, they seldom make the flight to the land of baseball and saturated fats. It just makes it all the more urgent that one be willing to make the journey to see them if they feel generous enough to blaspheme our shores.

The mark of a phenomenal performance is the intensity of the crowd, and there was no shortage of passionate movement. Even before the band officially began, it was already a roiling mass of flesh and po t. Allow me to describe the scene: countless plumes of smoke, frenzied eyes, ravenous inhalation of intoxicating fumes, humans taking flight, mentally and physically, all at once, it was a raging no-sided war and a joyous dance, a tribute to mother nature and her greatest green gift. The ultimate aftermath; a desert plain of broken plastic and misshapen aluminum, lakes of spilled alcohol and mounds of ash. A lost shoe as well.

I needed a good sit-down afterward, so I was almost praying they wouldn’t encore, and got lucky. God exists after all, but must be angry at Bethlehem for stealing the name of a holy land and playing something called “Dark Metal”, which to me comes across as some weird kind of Black Metal that hints at Gothic, Symphonic, and Doom elements. After that was Mortuary Drape, who I’ll check out later, decent Death Metal. Can’t you tell I’m just about done posting? I can, so fuck off. Until I have the strength to review a project named Amish Noise, goodnight.

Maryland Deathfest X – Hot Town, Crusties In The City: Saturday

My my, ’twas a scorcher and several quarters! I, even with my great resistance to heat, had to remove my jacket out of fear of death, so I don’t see how everyone in patch jackets or several layers of accumulated filth managed to fare any better. On this day I woke up a bit late-ish, so I missed the first couple bands, no biggie, I hadn’t heard much of anything from any of them, but I definitely was not missing Dragged Into Sunlight.

Dragged Into Sunlight are what you get from combining the pure nihil of Anaal Nathrakh with the dirtiness of Lightning Swords Of Death and a healthy kick of drug-addled Sludge a la Buzzov*en, and you’ve got one of the heaviest Black Metal bands you’ll have the displeasure of hearing.

They kept the room as dark as their music, with only everpresent blood-red lights and flashes of white light during the blasts, and a well-placed candelabra was conducive to a great atmosphere.

It may have just been all the sweaty men inside the Sonar and the humidity, but the air just felt heavy and close to unbreathable during their set. The pounding drums didn’t help either, quite literally rattling my chest a bit with every hit. Nothing to complain about here, as they did their job well with not a single hitch. Immediately after their set was over, I ran outside to get some air, and lo and behold, Hellbastard was playing.

One of the OG bands of Crust Punk/Crossover Thrash, they probably helped invent the name with their Ripper Crust release. I didn’t know they existed until I saw they were playing at MDF, which I should probably be ashamed to say, since these guys kick some major ass. All the way from the UK, and never quite realizing the success or at least recognition a band as legendary as they are has done little to sour their spirits, apparently, as they played their unique brand of Punk fuelled Thrash for a very eager crowd of dirty moshers. It was fucken crazy how wild people went for them, and also how much their frontman (aptly named Scruff) hates commercial Punk Rock. Knowing how little most bands comment on it with an “out of sight, out of mind, don’t see it, don’t exist” attitude, Scruff directly called out all the Green Days of the world by attacking the neck of his guitar, shouting “This is more Punk Rock than any of those bands will ever be!” You tell ’em, old dog. Hellbastard’s MDF appearance has set the stage for them to finally get the word out that angry music has been around for longer than most of us like to think. Just ask Amebix.

After Hellbastard I was feeling the effects of the heat and either stayed inside or just mucked about outside, taking in whatever happened to be playing. I can’t exactly properly review a band who I know dick about and only saw several glimpses of their sets, and that happened a lot today. I do wish, however, that I saw the chicken suit guy get kicked by Black Witchery‘s frontman, as that may have been the most interesting thing to occur during any of the Black Metal bands’ sets this whole fest. Let’s move along to Morbid Saint, a band you probably already hate due to their name and logo if you haven’t heard them yet and are anywhere near as judgmental as I about the covers of books.

In the mist, dark figures move and twist!

I thought I had them all figured out as some random lame Thrash/Heavy Metal band intent on boring my socks off, but a pleasant surprise came in the package of some decently heavy Deathrash, with speed enough to incite many a furious pit session. Colour me surprised, old bastards, I actually enjoyed this one. Not much to say other than they played their album Spectrum Of Death front to back, track to track, ass ta ass, and I can’t say I disliked it. During their last song I found it proper to take a jog to the other outside stage where Deviated Instinct was setting up the cannons with which to bathe us all in grease and crust from the same mass of land Hellbastard hails from.

Somehow I had managed to overlook the fact that they were playing MDF until Thursday, so this was a pleasant surprise. I had begun listening to them a few months ago, and kinda liked their approach to Crust Punk, as it involved a good heaping of Death Metal, mainly in the vocals. Live, Leggo amplifies the growls tenfold, ditching any of the punk sensibilities in his vocal work, which gave me the impression that he was too drunk to remember any of the lyrics anyway. True as fuck.

As with Hellbastard, the dirtiest, dreadlockiest, faded clothing-iest of the showgoers came out in masses, lending a nice aroma of human filth to the air and completing the ambiance. While Deviated Instinct may not have had nearly as many moshers per capita, it probably had the most violence and people actually seeking to cause others harm, with several people actively shoving others to the ground in fits of anger. Of course, what better way is there to enjoy music made by people who look depressed and/or angry for most of their onstage tenure? Their disgust for mankind is apparent in their music, and if you don’t feel the same, it’s probably not for you. If you’re looking for a band that doesn’t hate people and is actually one you might like to meet, check out Anvil.

Mountie uniforms soon to come.

Now I know what you’re thinking, that I actually like Anvil. The sooner we move past this foolish notion, the better. Anvil’s story is highly unfortunate, but for all the wrong reasons. They were overlooked in the 80’s, much like thousands of other Speed/Heavy metal bands of their time, yet I don’t see Iron Angel making a documentary about how success evaded them like the scattershot that is the music industry. Anvil like to claim that they deserved to be big, and they got their damn wish, but I don’t see why. They’re too cheesy even for the time they came out. The frontman’s stage presence is nothing short of Jimmy Fallon-esque, and their songs are on cerebral par with Manowar. Yet they’re so puppy-dog adorable and friendly almost feel bad and don’t dislike them, just pity them for actually thinking their music is damn important. I noticed that they actually seem to have some heavy distortion, so I wish they actually used that more often, since they have promise to be a heavy and interesting band, but are too stuck on making sure people validate them as musicians to write cool songs. It was a sight to see, with the audience’s applause coming largely from pity rather than genuine appreciation for Anvil’s presence. They were out of place, and Artillery wasn’t. Fucking Artillery, felt more at home at Maryland Deathfest, and they’re in the neighboring kingdom to Anvil as far as Metal subgenres go. That’s fucked. 

Let’s fast forward to Brujeria, who were easily one of the most fun bands of the night. Scratch that, they were, and I’m a massive knobgobbler for suggesting otherwise.

Brujeria’s superhero comic book backstory is that they are some drug cartel warlords from Mexico, yet only two or three of the members are actually Mexican. Among their ranks are Jeff Walker from Carcass and Shane Embury from Napalm Death (who I poked earlier in the day, not so friendly of a guy), who are pasty as British gringos can get without being albino, as well as the ex-drummer of At The Gates, among many other bands. Which leaves the two vocalists and the bassist, who I’m not too sure about but am too lazy to look up. Gollee, the turnout for people hailing from Hispanic countries (flags and all) was enormous, though I swear I didn’t see about 97% of them at any other point during the whole of that weekend.

This led to the vocalists telling jokes in Spanish, many of which I did not get, but laughed anyway cos I’m a hugely xenophobic asshole who thinks Spanish is a hilarious barbarian language (human humour for ya), and the songs were all in Spanish too, only one of which I actually know the lyrics to, having loved it since I was 13 years old.

The rest was all a confused jumble of sex, Satanism, drugs, and hating immigration/racist assholes, from what I can gather. The circle was nonstop during all of their songs, especially Colas De Rata, which I kinda knew, so I risked life, limb, and soul. The whole set was a non-stop blast of spicy Grind with a sense of humour to make Crotchduster take some notes en Español, including a song called Consejos Narcos, which seems to be about what drugs to do and what not to do.

¿Marijauna? ¡Sí! ¿El polvo? (lit. the powder) ¡No!

Fun stuff. The icing on the cake was their corruption of the Macarena to feature lyrics about drugs, cleverly entitled Marijuana. (¡AYYYYY!) At this point, the laughter and joy faded into apprehension as Morbid Angel set up. And believe me, they took long enough to drain all the mirth, with an extra half hour or so of waiting while some shite orchestral backdrop that I guess was supposed to be “so evyl and synystyr” played, in which a lot of people simply got fed up and left. I, wanting to witness any potential rioting should they have played any of the awful songs from the newest sacrificial offering, stayed firmly planted.

Hint: They didn’t.

Clothes from the “Goth” Bargain Floor since 1984

Morbid Angel actually played a pretty decent set. Surprised? I am too, but then again, I’d have been surprised if they went either way, since I was intent on remaining neutral in case of fire. They did play a few new songs, but they were the subpar stabs at Death Metal, not the unforgivable Nudustrial prank abominations. I guess Dave’n’crew aren’t that dumb, but here’s my main gripe with their stage act: Can David Vincent just speak to the crowd like human beings and not like he’s some sort of Demonic warlord? He’s lost that privilege since he thought Fruity Loops was a productive choice for an Extreme Metal album by a band that has up til this point been using real instruments, but I digress. He was corny as hell, to be frank, with his introduction to the song Nevermore being the typical “If someone fucks with you for being different, swear at them” kinda deal. He could’ve addressed the guy who was illegally walking along the highway and subsequently was chased by cops, but chose instead to consciously ignore it. Blown that opportunity out the water? At least play the good stuff, which they did. They did something strange with the song Immortal Rites, which is off Altars of Madness. Take a listen below.

Now that song was fine, but they done fucked with it by adding warbly clean vocals during the bits that should have been intimidating all of their own. Singing “Moooooooorbid” is not cool, D-Vince, it’s just silly.

Other than that, they seemed to have left the songs as intended, but I wouldn’t know about the second half, since I went inside to sit down and watch Tsjuder‘s set, having had my fill of the angel. They were pretty decent. Like most of the other Black Metal bands, they were painted up, but had more oomph to their sound, so they managed to keep my interest. Not too long after that, came the Spanish wannabe pathologists, Haemorrage, in their true bloody form.

Just a boring night out for Luisma

Woo doggy, lemme just say I’m surprised no one brought a scalpel to this set, because apparently the audience was full of surgeons and pathologists eager to crack open a warm one. It’s times like these I dearly wish I had brushed up on the source material, but like Nasum last night, they’re Grind, and every song is fucken awesome. These guys are the gorier sort, both visually and thematically, always sporting medical garb suspiciously covered in blood, and Luisma looking like he just swam in the river Styx. He got a little hungry during the set and was handed a fresh baby to devour.

He’s quite the leg man.

Haemorrhage are basically a Carcass clone, but like many of their type, they bring a unique spin on it. I’m gonna go with Exhumed and some of the more Rock’n’Roll influenced Carcass songs, only a bit more groovy and with more vomitous vocals. And to think they nearly kept the name Devourment.

With the security spraying water on the crowd periodically, the aerobics were prolonged into the witching hour, where Winter crept onto the scene, burying the joyous celebration of gore in layers of permafrost and rubble from dead civilizations. Allow me to present to you the two stages of their frontman’s stage presence.

Vocals

No vocals

This is by no means a complains, as one doesn’t go to see Winter and expect pyrotechnics or crazy guitar flip tricks. One goes to see Winter in the hopes that they’ll be lulled into eternal swamps of low end, merciless distortion, Tartarean bellows, and expugnisively slow and heavy rhythms, if they can even be called such, due to their lack of shape and speed. Only negativity surrounds the premier Death/Doom metal act, with every aspect of this NY three-piece doing their utmost to make it uncomfortable. Apocalyptic, with no hope for the future, no chance of leading into Spring, only into darkness.

With the members and the music moving at the speed of a wounded, frostbitten Arctic beast, it made for a great end to the night’s festivities. Boasting only one album and one EP, and influence on countless bands (namely the mighty Coffins), they have a lot of weight to drag around, and I’m glad to have been there to be pummeled. Tomorrow shall be the last of this string of MDF posts, which has been extremely taxing on me physically because I’m not used to working this hard. Now to go regain the pounds I’ve lost.