Norway is empty and the vikings are here. Nervous Condition, Hivesmasher, and Eluveitie

Distort Til Deaf Gig 63: Nervous Condition, Cauldron, & Stagger @ Trouble Ahead

I’m feeling lazy so I’ll sum up the Nervous Condition show in three sentences, one for each band.

Stagger: Shortest set I’ve ever seen, call it Doomviolence.

Cauldron: Slayer on coke, not to be confused with the Trad Metal revival band from Canada.

Nervous Condition: Shovey womyn-fronted hardcore.

Gutter Choir CD Release (that foiled the end of the world) @ The Great Scott

First I shall start off by saying that Gutter Choir is an absolutely fantastic release by the boys in ‘Smasher. They’ve truly outdone themselves with this record. Despite the production being a tad bit too clean (particularly the less filthy version of “Vomitouch”), it’s explosively technical, yet not afraid to get its claws steeped in gore. Though it does clean up after itself fine. But I’m not here to review the album, as I missed that chance when 2013 rolled around and it would just be silly now. If you like The Red Chord, Discordance Axis, and/or Pig Destroyer (ideally all three), and you haven’t checked these guys yet, you’re fuckin’ up.

Opening this feast was Astronomer, a heavy Hardcore band leaning a bit on spacey post-rock influences that add some much desired atmosphere. If you’re into shit like Northless or Nights Like These’s second album, Sunlight At Secondhand, give ’em a listen-see.

Next up was Vattnet Viskar, whose name and aesthetic scream Norway, but really they’re from Namshaw.

To say Vattnet Viskar are atmospheric would be quite underwhelming. It’s certainly “walk in the woods, but beware of wolves” music, with effects to create the feeling of a wide, oceanic expanse that is at once beautiful to witness, and yet frighteningly reductive of the human ego. It’s a wall of noise (quite possibly one of the louder bands I’ve seen), but moving away from the stage was not an option. Roaring vocals from the abyss, ethereal yet at once material guitars, and gracefully handled drumming all came together to make something quite sublime in nature. It also helps that they’re really down to earth, humble guys, no pretense. For fans of Wolves In The Throne Room (obv.) and those who wish that Alcest had more balls.

After VV were Family, who I must admit I wasn’t a big fan of musically, if not mainly because songs that could have been quick bursts of Mastodon-y rock’n’roll inflected Heavy Metal were drawn out to 5-6 minute territories, and began to grate a bit on the senses. They were energetic, I’ll give ’em that, but condensation is needed.

At last, the coup de gras and world-savers extraordinaire, Hivesmasher, pissing off bees since 2007.

Since their debut album “Ascension Into Dismal Stages”, Hivesmasher’s been a decently large force in the New England Metal/Hardcore scene. I’ve probably seen them around 9 or 10 times, which just goes to show how much work they’ve put into getting themselves out there as a band. Since they’ve been playing setlists comprised largely of songs from Gutter Choir in the years leading up to its release, I say it’s about damn time. Tracks like “Vulture Assassin”, “En Route To Meatland”, and “Send Me To Satan” (sans the half hour of ambient noodling and “Everlong” cover) needed to be heard on record, along with some other sluggers like “Bye Bye Baby” and “Can Of Awesometism”.

Signing with Black Market Activities was certainly a good move, as was attending this here grand opening to proving 2012 nuts wrong. Damn near went deaf, I say, but I already sold my soul to rock’n’roll and may as well also give them my ears.

Eluveitie & Wintersun @ The Royale

I haven’t seen that many dorks in forever. I really haven’t. Go to a Folk Metal show and count guys that look like fauns, it’ll really knock you out. I mean, damn. Lots of ugly mugs.

Opening this heathen’s playground was Germany’s Varg, a pronouncedly anti-racist band, though I suspect this is only because a certain mister Vikerness shares a first name with them. They’re also anti-pedophile child fuckers, which is cool too.

While they may be like Turisas in that they all look like Darth Maul cosplayers with a Nordic touch, they’re a different beast musically. They are “brutal”, you see. They play an accessible form of Black Metal tinged with some Death Metal, no accordions to be found here. Of course, to further this warlike aesthetic, they askled the crowd where the viking warriors are, because “dorks and nerds” would have gotten a slightly weaker turnout of enthusiasm. It wasn’t bad, but it could have used a bit more chunky heaviness, because in order to claim Viking status, you must be rapists, but only of grown-ups.

Up next was Wintersun, in a very TIMEly fashion. Hah. I kill myself.

Always Jari’s more serious outing, since I consider Ensiferum more goofy Viking Metal songs to get drunk and bop people with inflatable Medieval weapons to, Wintersun’s a band that you either enjoy or take a nap to. Boasting long songs that blend Folk, Death, Black, and Power Metal that are mini epics in and of themselves, postponing an album’s release for 6 years, and going on their first ever U.S. tour is the ideal crucible for some excitement among the longhaired and nerdy.

Of course, you’d be quite let down if you had been wanking for years about a full dose of Time, only to find that it’s just one of two installments. Dirty Finns, always finding ways to fuck you over. It’s the same deal as Norther hiring a  new frontman just to die. Can’t win with the Finns.

So anyway, Wintersun’s set was fantastic, verging on bombastic. The band played new stuff that was massive, and oldies but goodies that have been bouncing around for nearly a decade, totalling up to less than 10 songs in all. It seemed so short at the time, since they’re well-crafted enough that you’re not checking your watch and considering buying a gun.

Eluveitie headlined this show, which was an unforseen complication on everyone’s part.

Eluveitie have made a career of sounding like middle-era In Flames  swapped out techno/electronic fiddling in favour of real fiddling, a hurdy gurdy, several flutes, and female voices. While certainly not an intrinsically bad idea (I do enjoy them and had a blast when they played in Worcester a couple years ago), it does have an expiration date, and I smell something sour. On this tour they played Helvetios in full, which explains why many of the songs sounded just like this.

A few songs in I found myself praying for “Inis Mona” or “Of Fire, Wind, & Wisdom”. Anything to break the growing monotony that was setting in as a terminal disease of endless flute solos and Gothenburg riffing. It shouldn’t be an endurance round of “how many songs can we stomach that have the exact same jumpdafuckup riff”, but an actual musical journey, which is one that our Celtic friends have forsaken in place of some fancy shades. The real highlight was when members of Varg sans war paint came onstage, dived a few times, and had a few beers. I see they got more enjoyment out of goofing around than I did idly standing and realizing that Eluveitie has been doing the exact same thing since the demo days.

I suppose it can be blamed on the fact that I’m not as big into Folk Metal as I once was, which was not a great deal back then either. But the days are over where I would sperg out to Korpiklaani or get pumped about possibly seeing Tyr. It’s a greasy horror show of bad teeth and bad hair. Maybe one day I can enjoy it again, but that will require getting smashed, so 6 more months until I dance ’round a campfire to Svartsot!

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