Lofty Goals//Low Places: Lord Almighty @ The Wreck Center

Metal shows aren’t supposed to smell like perfumed concert halls, they’re supposed to smell like cigarettes and stray kitties. And the piss of the aforementioned stray kitties. Which is why the Wreck Center, which fits that description neatly(?) with its run-down atmosphere and greenhouse qualities is the ideal locale for music made by degenerate fuck-ups for degenerate fuck-ups, at least two or three of whom are rocking Neighborhood shit shirts (local respect woowoo). If you buy your own beer and don’t get drunk enough, at least 5 other people will hand you some backup cans to keep your mana running high. Speaking of high, you’ll also get smoked up at least once or twice. Bad place to be if you’re edge, actually.

 

Far from edge, Norwood’s Deathstate soundchecked with vocalist Dan Roshin drumming —and quite well, may I add— with a nip and a can of PBR. Great way to set the tone for what was to come, as their fusion of elements from The Faceless’ dark carnival tech-death, Cattle Decapitation’s brutal grind grooves, Eyehategod’s evil blues, and some Mike Patton-esque clean vocals made for a musically engaging set that spurred on the first rolly-swivel chair mosh I can remember seeing in my years of going to shows. And the fact that I’ve seen a guy circlepit in a wheelchair —twice— before I’ve seen a rolling-chair throwdown in a space like this is one for my mental record books.

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Following a metallic bastardisation of advanced musical techniques were a roiling, churning sea of heavy sound waves provided by Heptagua, who do the small band/big sound approach with only two members. Try and stop people from throwing down when most of your songs go no faster than glacial melting pace, since sludge is about 80% breakdowns if you’re liberal minded enough.

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As you may guess, it went from hot enough to make you sweat to simply sweaty within minutes. One particularly rowdy attendee couldn’t seem to stop throwing elbows to save his own life, or the lives of those catching them in the chest/face, for that matter, myself included. His other antics included lightly slapping everyone as he circled the pit, and running back and forth like an out of control Pong ball, using the walls and the people standing against them as paddles ad infinitum. I didn’t sense any malice, only stupidity as he failed to realise that some people don’t enjoy being hit even if they’re “asking for it” by being next to the pit. I guess he got the “violence and chaos” he sought, even if it was almost all self-created.

 

I’ll spare you the ongoing drama and just tell you that this guy spent the second half of Heptagua’s set and the whole of INTHESHIT’s set arguing passionately about why he shouldn’t have been ejected from the venue, and sneaking back in through one of the many entrances only to be rebuffed and start the whole process over again. He was finally allowed back in for Lord Almighty, and fortunately did seem to have calmed down, if not just a little bit so he wasn’t attacking people with cameras in their hand or trying to flatten bystanders.

 

Continuing the actual review: INTHESHIT’s schizo grind never fails to get that murderous impulse inside every human to stir, if not fully awaken, because fast and heavy music is the sountrack to murder on par with your least favourite rapper. Vocalist Ian’s guy-trapped-in-a-safe-underwater-rapidly-losing-oxygen style meshes seamlessly with the hardcore on amphetamines drumming of ex-Today Is The Day/Anal Cunt drummer John Gillis, the dual guitar attack of Eric (NSF) and Seth, and the mostly inauduble (but I’m sure it’s also lethal) bass of John Belmonte, also of NSF. A strange soup of tempos that ceaselessly bubbles and threatens to spill over into the part of your mind that enjoys melody, the ease of their demanding performances certainly gives credence to the name of their 2013 EP Born To Kill. Born to blast, more like.

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Closing up shop temporarily in their own camp, Lord Almighty’s brand of progressive black metal hasn’t been active for very long. Their Metal Archives page shows that they formed in 2013, and what year is this? They have thus far only released one EP, though its half-hour running time gave them adequate material with which to flesh out a whole set and cap off this exploration of all things heavy just right. It’s a shame that their ‘back to the woods’ Black Metal is taking a (hopefully) brief hiatus, but if anything, they at least brought a little beauty to the dilapidation. The olfactory profile of the Wreck Center on this night in particular not only was home to the aroma of evaporated perspiration, weed/cigarette smoke, B.O. and fumes of spilt alcohol, but a welcoming and hospitable space for people that like to just get loose with friends and strangers alike when something rockin’ is playing, and that’s good enough for us. Come back soon, Lord Almighty.

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Substance(s) Consumed: 1 nip Jim Beam, at least 3 beers, 1 or 2 bowls. It gets hard to remember these things.

Pics by Zana. She rules: I think she is Nosir Idontlikeit but I can never be certain in this quantum reality.

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Third Time’s The Charm: Maryland Deathfest, Thursday and Friday

It finally happened. I had a good, no, GREAT time at Maryland Deathfest. Would’ve been better if I could have seen Garm’s unibrow rustling in concentration, but still, fun. Absolutely free of poorly thought out drinking binges, interpersonal drama, God, and other messy things that prevent you from living like a human, I’m glad to report a success story where I not only saw most of the bands I cared to see, but also was fuckin’ FIERCE in , goddamn. Lookin’ and feelin’ good are only two parts to the complex and variable happening that is America’s biggest metal/hardcore party of the year, but it’s easy to forget that when you’re crying and/or puking, and I’m glad to say I only did the latter once, and it was a party puke making room for more party as opposed to an “I hate myself and will try not to do this again” puke. Awesome. Now let’s talk about some shit.

Thursday

There’s not much to say bandwise about Thursday, because fuck New York traffic. Slapshot got it right, they shouldn’t apologise for that shit. Just take a look at this monstrous eyesore I got treated to at the Port Authority station.

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A motherfucking Cake Boss Café. Reaffirms misanthropy like little else. The icing on this cake of fuck is the presence of televisions airing the damn show to the lobotomised patrons. And don’t get me wrong: my brief sojourn to Times Square allowed me to bear witness to a lot of other unspeakable horrors including a strip club/body sushi bar/steak joint (unholy!) but it pains me to even think of the massive overcrowding and overstylised tomfoolery that is that den of iniquity. It takes 30 minutes to get out of that gods accursed necropolis, even with clear traffic, so avoid at all costs all the time. Now that I’m done bitching about long bus rides (and it was long), I’d like to take a moment to give a HUGE shoutout to a certain Peter Willis for setting me up with a couch to crash on the entire MDF weekend, via couchsurfing.org. Highly recommended if you can’t afford a hotel or just don’t want to deal with one anyway. This guy saved my life, and unfortunately I didn’t think to get a picture with him, but here’s his dresser clandestinely snapped pre-cleanup because he’s a party animal.

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To Baltimore natives, Modelo and Natty Boh are water, and Strong Bow Cider is their apple juice.

So without further ado (and I’m not even sure about the ado), I made my sweet little way to the Ram’s Head, and I must say it’s a tad fancier than I would have thought, being called Ram’s Head. I had in mind a bar shitty enough to be Deathfest material, but that was only the bowels. The outside has a fancy ass fountain with lights that make it look like Vegas or someshit. Too cool, dude. And it’s near the most brutal Holocaust memorial you’ll ever see.

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Isn’t that fucking metal? And not just because it’s cast in iron or whatever, but because it’s a bunch of bodies burning, twisting, writhing, and melting in spiritless agony. Forever. Fuckin’ rad. Boston’s glass tubes full of steam can’t compare.

Appropriately in the mood for Coffins after some rituals near this most blesséd monument to misery, I stepped face-first into the sludge.

The embodiment of dark, slow and heavy, and a direct genetic predecessor to Winter’s death/doom monstrosity, Japan’s Coffins is a contender for one of the most disgustingly oppressive metal bands out there. And they’re actually good at what they do, too. The distortion serves not as a cover-up for being shitty musicians (they aren’t), but creates that foreboding grave-like atmosphere we sick fucks need to feel alive. Now one member heavier after moving Ryo from drums to frontman and getting a new stickman during the making of their punishing new album The Fleshland, they brought out plenty of hits from the hellish Buried Death, my personal favourite (though suspiciously missing “Cadaver Blood”, why?). You’d be amazed at how fast a crowd can get moving even though the music runs like a tank draped in human bodies. Easily one of the more brutal pits of the weekend. Nearly lost my shit —as in my possessions, as you know I went ham— but it was totally worth it. “See you tomorrow”, Bungo or Ryo quipped as they signed off, with a smile.

Following with another hard C to the jaw, Nawlins’ own Crowbar came up to the plate and delivered sorrowful Southern sermons to our congregation of freaks.

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There they were chugging along dutifully onstage, I’m looking at guitarist Matthew Brunson as the blues flowed freely, and suddenly there’s a scrawny-looking guy feeling the fury of Kirk Windstein’s foot to his face. Now everyone’s mind is in “what the fuck?” mode for a moment, and conflicting accounts of the “what” rose faster than weeds outside a shitty project building. Apparently a fan got onstage, got tackled by security into Kirk, which then prompted Kirk’s “what the fuck” mode, and subsequently a violent reaction that was probably not needed, in light of the whole Randy Blythe kerfuffle. Despite this hiccup, however, they finished their set like gentlemen, and all was well. No clue what happened with the guy that undoubtedly still has a shoeprint in his forehead, but I hope that wasn’t the highlight of his weekend. I mean, aside from that, the set went well. I made a man of myself by throwing the shit down during “Cemetery Angels” in a goddamn blue miniskirt. Get on that level, chumps.

Switzerland’s Triptykon was supposed to headline, but due to the sudden and tragic death of band friend and artist, H.R. Giger, and the subsequent scheduling of his funeral, they couldn’t make it, though the MDF XII shirts tell a different story.

Friday

Good Friday indeed! Oh the wonderful tales I could tell you about successfully defeating homophobia by simply walking away from loudmouthed dumbasses, or I could just review bands, which is a better idea, actually.

So, this is the second time I’ve seen New York’s Castevet here at Deathfest, and like their hometown, I’m not sure why it’s considered such a hot item, even though it has elements that I like. I enjoy their post-hardcore tendencies more than their Black Metal ones. Weird, ain’t it? I would have stuck around to hear more of Mgla (who are doing far more interesting Black Metal, straight as a shot of Beefeater), but I wanted to A) familiarise myself with the walk to and from the Baltimore Soundstage, because I would end up going back and forth. A lot. Like, more than a kid at a Gorilla Biscuits show, or someshit. Why do they do this to us instead of using the perfectly good former Sonar Compound for a shitshow, the only attraction being that beers were $3 rather than $6? Fuck logic.

Anyhow, yes, Creative Waste from Saudi Arabia, pretty decent. They’ve got the novelty factor of being one of the only known Grind bands from that country for obvious reasons, though they could stand to be more creative in the years to come. They’ve got potential, however, and it’s sweet they could make it out to the US and do stuff. After a bit of getting wasted, I walked back to check out Ruins Of Beverast, and I honestly found their brand of Teutonic Black Metal a tad dull. I swear one of their songs was repeating the same section over and over and over and over until I finally realised it, and then, as if to fuck with me, suddenly it changed. Is this what it’s like having a bad trip just to snap back into reality and find your loved ones dead? No? Completely off-base? I mean, I like atmosphere and all, but I didn’t come to Baltimore to be lulled to eternal slumber. That’s what got me in trouble the last two years.

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This picture with Fizzle D-Dizzle happened at some point around that time, because Ruins of Beverast is the soundtrack to a selfie break.

Following that was Necros Christos, and I must say, golf claps to having the most evil sounding bands play in the bright Baltimore sun. The irony was lost on nobody, I hope. They were decent enough, I remember, but nothing truly stuck out. Yep, the drought of interest was alive, but luckily Lake ACxDC was nearby to quench my thirst for some hard-hitting PV. Since it was still early in the day and not everyone had warmed up, you can guess that the pit was live, but not entirely lit up. Their caustic mix of standard Powerviolence and wacky fun-loving Grindcore makes for some good Christkillin’ tunes, indeed.

A second helping of Coffins was on the menu, and boy was I hungry for more topsoil.

Legit, Coffins could have played all four days and I’d have no problem with that at all. This time around they played more of their “fast” songs, meaning those with more mid-paced tempos, and even “No Saviour”, featuring some blastbeats, which, in my Coffins listening experience, is quite a rare treat. This, however, only proves that the band is not a one-trick pony, and is capable of devastation at several different speeds. Efficiency is terrifying; just ask the Nazis. Not a band to repeat themselves too much, the only returning tracks were “Evil Infection” and “Altars In Gore”, the latter of which made the dance floor shine. With sweat. And beer.

Turning 30 just last year, Norway’s Taake has never been in the U.S., because playing shows in America is not Black Metal, or something. Hoest even decided to wear a robe rather than go balls-out, which would make more sense, given that the weather’s pretty nice around those parts at this time.


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Controversy about telling someone to “go suck a Muslim” —something Creative Waste would probably not appreciate— and all other bullshit that has lead to people falsely pinning the NS tag on them, Taake is probably one of those bands that you hear about more than actually hear. Having exposed myself to some of their music, I can say with certainty that it is good Norwegian Black Metal, and controversy be damned; those riffs are ice fuckin’ cold, son. I’m not terribly familiar with much of their music aside from the hilariously awesome banjo solo on “Myr” from Noregs Vaapen, but I hope this means that they can come back sometime without me having to pay hundreds of dollars. Also, I saw this dead bird on the sidewalk, and someone had removed it by the time I went back out of the Lot.

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They didn’t take the dog shit, though. Guess that would’ve been gross.

Having to dash in the midst of the fog to catch the almighty Capitalist Casualties was a painful, but necessary decision for me to make. If I even missed a minute of their set, I probably would have missed two or three songs, and that is, I assure you, not entirely an exaggeration.


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Think the singer and bassist don’t look PV enough? Here’s their guitarist:

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Now THAT right there is the face of fastcore.

Blistering, impossible hailstorms of insane start-stop tempos, rapid-fire vocals and scathing guitars that straddle the line between an all-out Thrash attack and condensed hardcore ferocity, and I suppose you’ve noticed that I’m fanboying so hard I can’t even stop using ad-words. I’ll be up front and say Capitalist Casualties was one of the main draws for me this year, alongside Coffins. With a 40 minute timeslot, I estimated that they’d play at least 10 songs that I knew. I overshot it by three or four songs, but still, good enough. The fact that they played “Selfish Parochialism” nullified the fact that they didn’t play “Violence Junkie”, or more from their split with Man Is The Bastard, but I seriously can’t even bitch, because when else am I gonna see Capitalist Casualties on the Beast Coast? Geekin’.

The madness was far from over, as Italy’s grind virtuosos Cripple Bastards were up next to ruin any semblance of a face remaining from the previous assault.

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Ranging in styles from faithful three-chords-and-the-truth punk rock to blasting grind, to fret-melting death metal, Cripple Bastards are certainly not short-sighted in their brutality. I’d know what they talked about if I spoke Italian, but I get the feeling that it falls in line with socio-political vitriol, as grind is wont to do. From Assück to Discordance Axis to early Extreme Noise Terror, grind has many flavours, and Cripple Bastards brings a whole plate of goodness to the genre. Just thinking of Italy makes me hungry because I’m fat. Speaking of fat, I got a free Yeungling from some guy.

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Best 6 bucks never spent.

After my lower back was adequately punished by Punx Aerobics 101, I took yet another long walk (and it got longer every time) back to Edison to catch At The Gates, no big deal.

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Alright, so I lied, pretty big deal. At The Gates is only one of the most legendary Melodic Death Metal bands that actually still plays Melodic Death Metal. Who does that shit anymore? Not In Flames, I can tell you that much, even though I love them to death. But yeah, to see the fucking pit surge during “Terminal Spirit Disease” is like a breath of fresh air for MeloDeath. Some dude even got into the circlepit with a camera in hand, and somehow it didn’t get broken. What a man. He’ll put a baby in me one day. The most pleasant surprise of the set: they actually played “The Beautiful Wound”. Holy shit; I thought I was the only person that cared about that song for some odd reason. Killer doesn’t begin to describe it. With fear, I kiss the burning AWESOME.

Following that with the atmospheric as hell black/death/doom two-piece meal Bölzer made for an odd contrast, but it was pretty chill, despite being given the distinct feeling that I had been launched into empty space.

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Not much I can say about these guys, unfortunately, but they’re good, so check ‘em, if you want. I saw this guy’s jacket, too.

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California’s most likely to be sued for medical malpractice, Impaled, however, was what my ears had their hearts set on at that hour. I intended to catch some of Enthroned, but they took too damn long to set up, and ironically enough, Impaled also were taking ages to set up, and thus started ten or fifteen minutes late. But fuck it, it’s Impaled playing The Dead Shall Dead Remain, in full, with dudes dressed as doctors, Hæmorrhage style, crowdsurfing/moshing in ‘blood’-spattered lab coats and surgeon masks. To add fuel to the spiritual bonfire of Bacchanal celebration, the infamous MDF Party Brigade struck suddenly with a bunch of glowsticks, inflatables, and other goodies, as you can sorta see here.

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One second, it’s just Impaled playing, the next, it looks like someone turned on a garden hose that shoots little plastic things you should never, ever, ever, eat.

I drank with the doctor you see in this picture, he’s pretty chill. I already forgot his name, though, because whiskey. And this little cute alien dude, even though this picture is from Saturday.

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All hail Dollar Tree, for it is America, and America is good.

Then I went and caught some Incantation, and I must say they’re not quite as slow as I expected, since I believe some of their members had been in Disma, and lemme tell ya, that band’s pretty slow. I kinda liked it, but would have preferred if vocalist John McEntee (also known for his work in Mortician and live stints in Immolation) didn’t insist on trying to sound “evil” even though song titles like “Emaciated Holy Figure” do that well enough. Sounded like a damn cartoon goblin. How brutal. Not shittalking, it was just ridiculous, being referred to as “sick fucks” two or three times in a 10 minute span. Good night.

 

When Bad Pigs Do Worse Things. Animals Killing People @ The Dragon Cat’s Den

Yep. I’m not reviewing like 6-10 punk shows, fuck you; I barely remember the finer points of most of them amid the whirligig coagulating sensations cascading into my cortices on a weekly basis; d-beats, blasts, breakdowns, skank parts, beer, and surfing constellations, all meld together in one big lump of “why the fuck would I review all of these shows”, because there are only so many ways to say “This show was cool and punks moshed in a tiny space for 10 minutes and I liked it”. I’m not sorry for anything. Here’s a list of the bands I remember seeing, and the first word or phase that comes to mind because this is journalism.

Suffer On Acid (jazz), Draize (what?), Nuclear Special Forces (special alright), Pornstars For Romney (American hustlaz), Triple Thick (really?), Decrepit Existence (suck it, Jew), White Pages (speed), Jake & The Infernal Machine (needs oil), Funeral Cone (traffic hearse), Spitting Earth (hot), Ancient Filth (nasty), The Little Richards (not the Ramones), Eel (nice firecrackers!), Animal Mother (röööäär grrrl), No Tomorrow (AAAARRRGH!!), Flaccid (huehue), White Line Fever (drugs?), Cleansing Wave (filth), No Sir I Won’t (rebelz), Discipline (queercore babes), Crusty Craig (not really a show but fuck it), Disciples Of Christ (hmm), and Human Bodies (I may be playing with them soon)

Good job, humans. Keep rotting in the slave new world, and not necessarily in that order.

So, now that that’s all out of the way, let’s talk about Metal for a change. It’s been a long time since we’ve done that, hasn’t it?

Ah, I missed DIY metal shows. Kinda like DIY punk shows, but with less studs and 40s, and I guess more hornéd finger gestures. It had been a long ass while since the last I was at this cozy xth floor spot. So long, in fact, I nearly went a floor too high up, that’s how long. But I will make no complaints nor cracks of the climb, because I already did enough of that last time. I’m not a man to recycle humour. Often. I only do that when a particular joke is really good, which sometimes they are, but even then I just feel dirty inside. But enough of this palaver; let’s get this show on the road.

So, to confirm my suspicions, Coffin Birth has changed. A lot. I remember checking out their album The Miracle Of Death some years back, and it was more of a melodic black thrash workout that wasn’t entirely as professionally put together as major acts like Skeletonwitch, but then not on that savagely brutal level like Witchaven —though they’re still witches, make no mistake—, and not really in the middle either, so I dunno, go listen to it and form your own opinion, why don’t you? It’s good stuff. I haven’t heard any other studio outings by them since, but they seem to have taken a turn for the entirely different. I wasn’t sure if I simply misheard them last at the Monster Shop (R.I.P.[?]), but they have become a death metal band. I don’t bring you this news with despair, it’s just a fact. They sound good, albeit a little generic, so in my heart I yearn for “Arise From Damnation”, can’t they see? Maybe not, because I’m shy and haven’t sent them a passionate letter about it.

Forced Asphyxiation came next to sandblast our faces or something with their death/grind mix, and it was more enjoyable than I would have assumed. Forgive me for saying, but many metal bands in the local scene are dryer than the pieces of chicken in the KFC bucket that most people save for last. I don’t know what they’re called, and they’re not (usually) gross, but they’re not preferred snacking material. I’m glad to report that Forced Asphyxiation is not this, so I’ll probably actually go see them sometime if they happen to be playing a show I know won’t actively bore me or something. Here’s to you them being a good band. I’ll just drink to it later.

Boy am I glad I brought my guitar to this show for no reason. This is a random segue to pad out the post, by the way, because I decided it appropriate to delay the bad news. You’ll see why soon if you’re unfamiliar with what happened that fateful Dragon Caturday evening. In between bands’ sets, I filled the time by making idle discussion with people as foolish as I am (who else would go to an illegal BYOB metal show in a run-down part of Boston?) and assumed the role of the night’s bard, because that’s what beer does. Makes you want to recite poetry and all other manner of thespian shit. Granted, it was difficult to hear my strumming beyond a 3-foot radius of self-indulgent minstreldom and cigarette smoke, but a true artist doesn’t stop because their efforts are ridiculous.

I was also mistaken for a member of Animals Killing People because I guess being a brown guy with a guitar can do have that effect. Though truth be told, I can see where the basis of his error lay, as a former member of theirs, Eston Browne —now in Humanity Falls, who are rad as fuck—, was about my skin colour, so what can you do? Them’s the breaks. Speaking of breaks, this one’s over.

New York’s Animals Killing People put on a fairly fly set of some brutal death metal inflected grind, complete with croaked vocals that sounded like a dying swamp monster from a Star Wars flick. Original trilogy, mind you, excepting Return Of The Jedi, where almost every non-humanoid above Ewok level sounded just silly. Not quite as hilarious as Japan’s Jenovavirus, not quite as frightening as Spain’s Wormed, but a happy medium of plain fun meets gore and inhumanity á la Brodequin with less phlegm. What a beautiful sound. On par with Corelli’s Christmas Concerto.

To give a visual of their pro-animal/anti-human stance (they are a vegetarian band, dontchaknow), there were some grisly projected videos of macabre happenings. The overlay of a bird pwning the shit out of some guy’s face was interesting enough to warrant attention, but sadly obscured the video, so I’m not sure what was killing what, but the flesh sure was flying this way and that, much like the technical-but-tasteful riffs. They were nice enough to post it online for anyone wanting to see the unveiled barbarity, so enjoy, sick fucks.

And speaking of mixed bags, the mothafuckin’ cops busted up the muthafuckin’ show. Mutha. Fucka.

I must now take a moment to stand —sit, rather, because that more accurately reflects what I do when I type these things— in amazement of the sheer insurmountable odds which resulted in the police presence at this particular event. This show took place on the xth floor. Of a random building in South Boston. Where the only other occupants with any true presence seem to be the liquor store on the first floor.

Who. The fuck. Called the fuzz?

Now, please tell me that someone in Composted isn’t secretly at the behest of the bacon, because apparently they’ve had a string of poor fortune with sudden cases of swine flu, and at this rate it almost certainly won’t be the last. To add insult to injury, Animals Killing People was allowed to finish their set, albeit with slightly less loud guitars, and if they promised to wrap up at 11:00. These conditions requiring some reluctant compliance, we suffered no repercussions other than the sour taste of defeat, for Boston’s slam-silly superheroes were once more foiled. Not to mention a heavy heart for yours truly, who had been expecting to see Composted after so long a divorce from their bestiality tips and totally un-metal costume-wearing, Cosby spouting antics. Next time, maybe. Til then, I’ll deflect sobriety and try to bring you the hottest news from the frontlines of metal warfare. Präz Azathoth.

I guess now’s as good a time as any to insert some absurd tradition to sort of “post-script” these reviews, so I’ll tally how many substances I put in myself to not feel the weight of reality as prominently. Let’s see how long this lasts, because I break all of my promises.

1 40 oz. bottle of Colt 45, 1 morbidly chode-esque can of Foster’s, 1 12 oz can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, a single hit off a doobie, and a lot of cigarettes.