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.

Third Time’s The Charm: Maryland Deathfest XII: Saturday & Sunday

Saturday
Ramen is truly some food of the gods level shit. I subsisted on all of Friday and most of Saturday with the aid of four of these magick squares. Only a dollar each at —you guessed it— Dollar Tree. Stock up for the apocalypse. And find this guy.
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Ramen unfortunately couldn’t help Diocletian’s very evil brand of blackened death be more than an okay attempt at the sound of canned hell. Dark, swirling riffs and blasts ringing from bottomless pits is cool, but variety is severely lacking. Entrails, however, came to save my life —or end it, rather?— with their sticky, sweet old school Swedish Death Metal, complete with a logo that looks suspiciously like Entombed’s.
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Ladies.
Spain’s Machetazo brought yet more evil to the fore with their wicked gore/death inflected grind, en Español.
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Hearkening to bands like Regurgitate and fellow countrymen Hæmorrhage, they seem  uninterested in being unique (and with Grind, that’s quite a feat), just brutal, and they’ve certainly succeeded in that regard.
God Macabre, yet another group of old school Swedish Death infantrymen long forgotten, made their first appearance in the U.S. here, and probably was in the top three bands most likely given to old ladies if they asked fest-goers what “concert” they were heading to.
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With only one full length to their name, The Winterlong, you could probably guess the setlist, plus a cover of a Carnage song. Forget which one, but it was damn near heartwarming when vocalist Per Boder smiled in delight when the crowd reacted positively to the name of their fellow deathheads. “I guess they’re not so underrated after all.” You bet’cher ass, bud.
When one thinks of progressive death metal, Florida’s Nocturnus (A.D.) should ideally be what comes to mind alongside acts like Pestilence, Atheist, and Death, though admittedly I hadn’t heard of them until I saw their name on the line-up. Playing their seminal album The Key in full, Nocturnus prove that synths don’t necessarily have to end up sounding cheesy when used alongside brutal music.
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Vocalist/drummer Mike Browning (ex-Morbid Angel) seemed to be having loads of fun blasting and growling simultaqneously for such uplifting tunes as “Standing In Blood”, “Lake Of Fire”, and even a special cover of “Chapel Of Ghouls”, how rad’s that shit, homie? I think they even played a Death cover, but I could just have been imagining it. Setlist.fm isn’t helping my case.
The original Speed Metal Drunks (who’s Municipal Waste?) in Germany’s Tankard were clearly not hammered enough; they could still play their instruments. The crowd was one-upping the fuck out of them, however, with a beer-soaked circlepit despite the blazing sun cooking them through. Songs about zombies, and beer. Party. It’s fun stuff, though not the absolute greatest that thrash, has to offer, nor is it the best that humour has to offer, but these krazy Krauts won’t fail to get a chuckle or headbang out of you.
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Finally taking my non-drunk self to the Soundstage to catch DropDead for my third or fourth helping this Gregorian year, I first caught Sweden’s d-beat heroes in Victims. They play a version of the genre that reminds me of Martyrdöd, with more melody than is normally allowed, and less ear-fucking distortion, though weren’t quite as captivating as I would hope. Had they played it straight Swedish and aped Anti-Cimex or even Finnish contemporaries (all Scandinavians are the same, right?) in Riistetyt and Kieltolaki, I dare say they’d be more what I was seeking. DropDead, however, are consistent in their delivery, combining crust punk, powerviolence, and d-beat cooked the right way; raw and still bloody.
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Between socio-political and generally ‘wake-the-fuck-up’ rants came short but intense bursts of distilled punk fury, very rarely going below speeds safe to drive on the highway. The setlist seems to have changed, as they are including more new material that, while less speedy than the material of old, still has its fangs, yellowed with age but reddened with new blood as they press on. There was a special guest appearance, but I’m not sure if I’m allowed to even mention it, though I will mention that they played a cover of Siege’s “Drop Dead”, and as an extra spiffy bonus, a cover of “It’s Not What It Seems To Be” by fastcore/powerviolence legends Lärm. Sweeeet,
With Nocturno Culto finally bringing his drunk ass to America only to not play in DarkThrone was a disappointment to many, but I suppose Sarke is the next best thing. Who knows, maybe Fenriz’ Red Planet will stop by to play material fromEngangsgrill in a few years.
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At least the crowd hungry to hear one song, any song by DarkThrone got their wish, sorta, since they played a ‘cover’ of “Too Old, Too Cold”. Clearly the case since Nocturno is never seen without a leather jacket. A weird mix of black-ish metal, normal-ish heavy metal, death rock, and whatever else Nocturno deems the right thing to do these days, it was interesting, but c’mon. DarkThrone. Not gonna stop saying it ‘til it happens.
True Norwegian Viking Death Metal warriors in Unleashed were something. Among my main draws to the fest this year, it’d be wrong to say I was disappointed, but underwhelmed is the word I’ll go with since their set was noticeably lacking in the glorious potential they are capable of.
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Having a staggering 11 full-lengths of Nordic praise, and my having only heard 5 or 6 of them in full (not counting the ...Revenge demo), I knew there were gonna naturally be some songs I wouldn’t know well enough to fistpump to. However, the lack of “In Victory Or Defeat”, “Warriors Of Midgard”, and prime material from As Yggdrasil Trembles was distressing. To add to the discomfort, they stretched out some songs by at least two or three minutes (“Death Metal Victory” count: 8+), thus cheating themselves and the audience out of more songs. It sucks that happened, but at least Johnny Hedlund brought out a Viking drinking horn, and the predictable happened. My diagnosis: they were drunk. To Asgaard, their brains flew.
Next up were Dark Angel, who’ve probably got more riffs in a single song than an entire Bolt Thrower album (or two), arrived to show us that indeed, time does not heal, because Thrash is a lifelong disease.
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Now recovered from a spine injury that left him unable to move, much less sing, Ron Rineheart is now back in action, and the L.A. Caffeine Machine is once more abrew. With speeds equal to or greater than that of even the fastest cuts on Sepultura’s Arise, it’s a wonder how Dark Angel never got up to the Big 4 instead of Megadeth, who stopped being Thrash after Killing Is My Business. Oops. They’re as virile and potent as 14-year old sperm after all these years.
Following U.S. fast with U.K. fury were Extinction Of Mankind, who, while not a founding band in crust (having formed in ’92), are as important as acts like Deviated Instinct and Hellbastard when assigning blame to old British guys spreading this filth. Their particular style is that popularised by acts like Misery; slow-churned Thrash infused riffs, barked vocals, and a steady beat to break down the walls of establishment. Naturally, the scent of unwashed dreads is the only perfume to adequately accompany such sounds, what with their LPBaptised In Shit, and all. I saw them again in someone’s basement a few days later, but don’t expect a review of that.
I took a little nap during L.A.’s Excrutiating Terror, who weren’t all that painful, nor scary, to be honest. It was decent grindcore, though not too much of a racket, so I caught a few Zs before heading over to catch the real death metal bastards in Asphyx, because what the fuck is a Schirenc? I’d have liked to have caught “Shrunken And Mummified Bitch” live, but The Church Of Pungent Stench would be a much more sensible name, aye? Or even Pungent Stench A.D., in keeping with what seems to be an MDF tradition? Whatever.
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So, The Netherlands’ Asphyx, fronted by one of the few aside from John Tardy who can audibly sneer while growling, —is this a blonde thing?— Martin van Drunen belted out classics like “M.S. Bismarck” and newer ballistics in “Deathhammer” with equal ease and aggression, and the band are no slobs either.
Come to think of it, Hail of Bullets should play next year. Just a thought.
Sunday
The soreness had began to set in by this time, yet my body had no say in preventing further torture. There was yet more on the plate for this exercise session from hell. Luckily for my muscles, a one-two-three heavy handed slap of stoner/doom in the form of Windhand, Bongripper and Graves At Sea was how the Sabbath day was to begin. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the former two bands practiced and recorded stoned and played sober?
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Theorising.
My next gym coaches in Misery Index, however, demanded a few proverbial pushups, despite the lack of shade. How cruel of them to play “Traitors” when they know that it’s impossible for me to stand still during such a thing.
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The new track(s) from the newest opus The Killing Gods were business as usual; brutalising politically conscious death/grind the way Misery Index has delivered it to their hometown of Baltimore and the world for 13 lucky years. I’m assuming they all walked home after Deathfest, since they probably live up the street.
Pseudogod, they existed, and Wrathprayer from Chile played Blackened Death Metal that was surprisingly not too generic, though little stuck out in particular from their performance. The wizardly dissonance of Colombia’s (now based in Seattle, WA) Inquisition was much needed following these two noble, if not uninspiring acts.
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Dagon’s trademark croaks take some getting used to if you’re not already into that thing, which I found out some years ago when I first heard “Those Of The Night”. I thought, “How the fuck are these Black Metal vocals? Weak shit, kid”, and fell in with the camp that didn’t enjoy the Popeye With Throat Cancer treatment. However, with time, I came to see them as an integral part of their sound, as important as the spiraling, dark melodies and atmospheres that blanket their deceptively simple aural landscapes. The tastefully militant blasting and appropriately placed groove sections provided by drummer Incubus are done well enough to the point that variety is not of great concern. Dagon even had the foresight to have two mics set up so he wouldn’t simply stand in one place the entire time, and that somehow made it a lot less likely to be bored while watching their ministrations. Clandestinely keeping you titillated since 1989.
A smorgasbord of Louisiana’s most metal featuring members of Goatwhore, Crowbar, and Eyehategod, Soilent Green are an unexpectedly well-done mixture of blues-tinged sludge metal and blasting deathgrind. I’d go so far as to say they’re one of my ‘favourites’ among bands I had gone in not expecting to be good, much less pretty darn good. Makes for good BBQ eating soundtracks. Because, y’know, the South. Following them were the French-Canadian band voted least likely to have anything to do with gore or guts, Gorguts, who are equal parts surrealist staircase-to-nowhere artists and death metal.
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Reanimating “Orphans Of Sickness” from The Erosion Of Sanity (complete with slamdown) and “Inverted” from From Wisdom To Hate, Gorguts shows that they’ve not gone entirely soft on us. That is, if you consider the fact that they’ve run with the avant-garde angle from Obscura onward going ‘soft’. Opening with two songs from Coloured Sands as if to say “now that we’ve got that out the way”, they proceeded to blow some minds the way they have been for a quarter century. Damn, they’re old. Luc Lemay’s cheesy but charming stage banter will tell you that much. Why isn’t he my uncle?
Yet another fuzzy treat for my unaware ears were Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, who got my vote this year for the category of “Why Is This Band Playing Deathfest?” in the same way Anvil did two years ago. Good old fashioned psychedelic doom rock worship aside, they should seriously consider changing their name to Sharp Dressed Man: The Band.
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Sure beats the hell out of Bigelf as far as semi-metal 70s hard rock goes. Just out of curiosity: why do none of these bands ever wear ‘normal’ clothes?
And now came the apex of sadness: Having to abandon the truest Sabbath worshippers in Sweden’s Candlemass after their opening song, “Mirror, Mirror” to go catch Japan’s legally insane grind outfit Unholy Grave at the Soundstage. Mats Levén of Therion fame handling vocals and the fact that I missed “At Gallows’ End” just makes me want to cry forever. Ancient dreams of an alternate reality where this was an easier choice. Almost makes me wonder; was it worth it? I don’t like to ask myself these questions, because regret is an unproductive state of being.
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The misery continued with the U.K.’s masters of the maudlin, My Dying Bride, with frontman Aaron Stainethorpe sporting a newly shaved dome after my only having ever known him with perpetually soggy lachrymose locks.
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Sadly (word choice?), “Deeper Down” and “My Body, A Funeral” didn’t make it onto their setlist, and I’m woefully (word choice?) unacquainted with much of their discography, though “The Dreadful Hours” and “Turn Loose The Swans” rang somewhat familiar. Hymns to never ending grief, complete with the mourning, sobering sound of a violin, though unfortunately (word choice?) no rain to complete the ambiance. If it can rain during Neurosis, Electric Wizard, and even Pelican, why no appropriate weather this year? You sicken me, skies. To compound my consternation, I noticed the beginning sign of an oncoming suckfest; that sensation of having a patch of permanently dry skin at the back of your throat, the messenger of death, the common cold. It only got worse from there.
All sordid business with the Edison Lot now done, I had a hot date with the Soundstage and Ratos de Porão, who play fucking fast.
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Brazil’s Ratos don’t play no bossa nova, fool. It’s balls-to-the-wall with no breaks at all crossover thrash meets the rawer (or rawwwwwwrrrrrr) sounds of 80s hardcore. Think Suicidal Tendencies in their Join The Army days if they took more cues from Charged G.B.H.’s City Baby Attacked By Rats, with thrashcore beats that threaten to become blasts, and you’ve got an approximation of how this beast sounds. Pure energy and speed, but always on the right track, like a studded train full of crusties hitting you with a fist made of metalheads. Someone eventually decided that a trash can would have more fun near the pit, and the result was a lot of beer cans and empty food containers on the floor that was once just covered in beer and sweat.
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Perfect way to cap off the Soundstage skullduggery.
Meanwhile at Ram’s Head the progressive death metal Kiwis in Ulcerate serenaded all present with positive vibration songs such as “Confronting Entropy” and “Clutching Revulsion” from their newest opus Vermis.
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Packed full of enough angular riffs to make your head spin, and heavy enough to make it flatten itself, they and Immolation provided an ideal closing combo for this year’s Maryland Deathfest. Emphasis being on the death, Yonkers’ Immolation packs a firestorm of riffs that haven’t died down in over 28 years as a band. From their debut Dawn Of Possession to their most recent Kingdom Of Conspiracy, all eras were covered as they burnt the fest to ashes.
Post-Deathfest Shenanigans
Yours truly got kicked out of a hotel (rather, kicked himself out) because someone decided smoking a cigarette in the hallway was a good idea. To be fair, I tried to help them by putting it out, but what’s common sense?  Some people just can’t hang, and those people are hotel security. Oops.
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Then on the walk ‘home’ I found some people being obnoxious and singing random metal songs at the top of their lungs on the front porch of a hotel. Naturally I go over and join them. I found some beers and a girl that’s sexually attracted to snakes or someshit, and she stole the inflatable dinosaur that the guy dressed as a doctor during Impaled’s set gave me. Presumably to fuck it.
Then I drank with said doctor and he showed me the horror show that was his hotel bathtub. Thing was a mess of fake blood and empty beer cans. We drank some whiskey for our faces and peaced out. He had a D.R.I. cigarette case, which was rad.
Thrashers, meet your king, passed out on the steps of said hotel at 6 in the morning. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still hungover to this very day, because that kid was literally drunk the entire weekend. And I saw him a lot (he was in just about every pit at Edison), so you know I’m not bullshitting.
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Then, just in time for me to get onto a cold 4 hour bus to New York and a subsequently cold 4 hour bus to Boston, my cold reaches fruition, and I die in my seat. Somehow I came back to life to write this review, and all I can say after this glorious headbanging, circlepitting, beer drinking, weed smoking, not-drug-doing, skirt-wearing, awkward-socialising weekend is: Fuck the common cold. Maybe I’ll do this again next year.

Take off your thinking caps, it’s time for Forest Of Remorse – Lashed To The Altar Of Fornication

Let’s get stupid up in this piece. Or not, because it’s hard to decide when dealing with Forest Of Remorse, a band that can only be described as “coming from New England”, with members from Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, though they convene in NH, so let’s just say Namshaw. So, Forest Of Remorse is a Death Metal band from Namshaw, and this is their EP, boasting 5 songs of sonic headfuckery that doesn’t know what to do with itself, but will punch you in the mouth and then saw you open. If you smell a track-by-track treatment, you’re correct.

Opening this pus-filled cadaver, one is immediately treated with “Atlas Resolve”, and immediately given a good idea of what to expect from the rest of the album. Starting out with some Technical Death Metal to rip your nose off, it then descends into a massive slamdown that’ll open up the pit, before a surprisingly melodic injection followed by a catchy jazzy djent section. It’s as if Devourment began jamming with Intronaut, pretty cray. In step with slam tradition, the song ends with a shovel beatdown of distorted, damn near sludgy crawls, backed by RJ’s sewer gutturals and Blake’s earthsplitting drums. It’s time for hyperbole, so put your thinking caps back on.

World Of Industry, oh man. What is that sound RJ makes after the circlepit section? It’s like the female vocalist from Despise You having an aneurysm. After that the music takes an odd turn, becoming a windmill-headbangable blast-beat and tremolo section, followed not by a slam, but a groovy pseudo-breakdown and a return to the semi-thrash. It continues in a fashion that sort of fizzles out, but it maintains some heaviness, though a megaslam would have really sealed the deal.

Every great EP needs a throwaway track, and the backwoods boiz in Forest do just that in Chicken Lover. It reminds me of Thou/EyeHateGod type sludge, but instead of screeched or even growled vocals, a symphony of clucks, yipping, and X-rated dirty Southerner howls for your chicken fucking pleasure. Makes me hungry to no end, I tell ya what.

Frail is an old track, re-animated from Forest Of Remorse’s salad days of being a doom/deathcore band, but given a little more vitality from RJ’s vokills. It’s certainly a crowd pleaser, much to Blake’s chagrin, who regards it as a prose unworthy fecal nightmare. Okay, that’s not true, but he’d prefer that it be a little more complex, or something. I’m not getting paid for this so I don’t care. It does end in a grindy freakout that would please Fused-era The Red Chord lovers, so that’s also an option.

Ritual Penetration just may be one of the best tracks on the EP for its sheer simplicity and heaviness, following the kooky opening that makes it truly stand out. So, next time you’re at a party and somehow forget the track’s name, you can just say it starts like “doo-dee-doo-doo-dee-doo-dee-doo-doo”, accounting for pitch, of course. But anyhow, this track is bottom-heavy to the max. Chris and Alex dispense with notions of technicality for the greater part of the track, and slam til they can’t slam any harder while RJ voids himself of his pancreas. If you tryna git ignant in the pit, this is your dream track. Despite the relentless chugs, RJ keeps it fresh by not allowing his vocals to become a single monotone slime monster purr, and Blake’s drumming is of course, rhythmically tight but not unremarkable.

Serotonin Hell brings back some of the technicality that was showcased more in the beginning of the EP, and has a catchiness that you can shake ya ass to, but watch yourself. It’s not the most interesting track, but you can tell the boys put some actual songwriting into this one, though that’s not to say the others are poorly written. The ending slam, I feel, could have been much heavier and de-tuned, but the melody on top of it was a nice touch and brought some balance, so perhaps it would have sounded silly otherwise.

And that there is my take on this EP that’s been bouncing around for a few months. It takes me forever to do a lot of things, even if I like them. Something’s very wrong. All I’ll say in closing is that this is a very promising start for the band, and despite some obvious recording quality limitations and some songs that could use improvement as far as structure, it’s a damn fine release that’s good for ages 8 and up.

The Verdict: More Popeye’s.

Grade: B+

ALBUM REVIEW: STRONG INTENTION

Razorblade Express (PATAC Records)

Give them the Maryland seal of quality while the ink’s still wet, fellas, because that state can do no wrong as far as quality extreme music. From the Deathgrind virtuosos MISERY INDEX, to the indomitable DYING FETUS, and the fast growing Hardcore act COKE BUST, it’s safe to say that STRONG INTENTION will naturally follow suit and be awesome. the only thing I’d change about this release is the cover art, but that’s a rant I’ll save for someone more judgmental than I. SI have been around since the mid-nineties, but mysteriously haven’t gotten as big as their  aforementioned contemporaries. Something went highly amiss, as their mixture of CHARLES BRONSON/SPAZZ style Powerviolence with the new-school Thrash sound that’d find a home on the latest TOXIC HOLOCAUST joint, alongside a hearty dose of Southern fried Sludge should have hooked this godless country by the nose.

This EP immediately opens up with its title track, a Sludgy number with Mike Williams of EYEHATEGOD infamy performing the bulk of the vocals. It dips in and out of a Thrashcore inflected MAGRUDERGRIND vibe, which is honestly something I didn’t think that Mike Williams would ever sign up for, being accustomed to muggy, heroin induced grooves that can only be properly born south of Virginia. Mike’s on top form as far as sounding angry and acrawl with various diseases, so this change of speed actually suits him, and I’d like to see him (and any other willing Southern Metal vocalists) try it more often.

“Messiah Whore” begins immediately with the musical equivalent of artillery rounds entering your home while you sleep. Here they also showcase a bit of Death Metal influence as well as their dirty brand of what I’ll dub Grindviolence, with punishing blasts and sporting a riff that sounds not unlike some I’ve heard on EXHUMED’s Anatomy Is The Destiny. The breakdown is highly reminiscent of some I’ve heard by MISERY INDEX, which is not odd, as bands in that area seem to swap sounds as bored teenagers sexually transmitted infections.  A solid track overall, and probably one of the standouts.

“Holes In The Wall” boasts a more straightforward Crossover style; think of the vocalist of BANE if he jammed with the band members of PUNCH and MUNICIPAL WASTE. The riffs that kick in at the very end are probably the most melodic thing to happen on the album, as they point towards SI’s ability to lock into killer grooves.  I was a bit sad to see this track end so abruptly, as it promised a bit more variation from a mental nailbombing, but instead leads to the next track.

Mike Williams appears also on “3rd Space Gorilla Generator”, which is a title that shall give me nightmares for years to come. Pure DADA. This one’s a bit more by the numbers Hardcore, with the vocals being more like Jay Randall of AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED. Aside from a small Sludge section where Mike steps up to the mic to howl in pain, it’s pure circle-pit mayhem.

“Rat Factory” continues the vocal tradition of the last track, which gives me the impression that either the vocalist’s larynx morphed over the course of the EP, or someone else stepped in due to an unfortunate neck-related incident. Curious indeed. This track is the second shortest, but packs a helluva punch, with a breakdown at the end that could knock down buildings.

“Slaughter Intelligence” is quite similar to the last track, but ends much more abruptly at only 54 seconds as opposed to “Rat Factory”s even minute. It makes me almost go against my very instincts, which aren’t a fan of the slow, 3-4 minute down-tempo tracks that Hardcore influenced bands usually toss in, often at the end of their releases, but this band actually made me hunger for one. Yes, EPs are short, but this was almost demo length, and was the equivalent of being given a handy when you expected whole night in Paris. That was gross, and I sincerely apologize.

The Verdict: It becomes more of a teaser than an actual appetizer for an album, but overall it’s still a sweet treat from the balmy climes of Maryland.

GRADE: A-

Lost Boyscore: Death By Stereo at The Great Scott

It’s not every day I see a band I’ve known about for over 6 years. It’s also not every day that I study up on said band 3 days prior to the show, since that coincides with my discovery of the aforementioned show. A series of coincidences later, here I was listening to three albums by said band to try to at least know what more to expect, having only heard one song by said band for the previously mentioned period of 6 years. If I can make that any clearer, I’m God.

For this here tour, which is apparently the first time they’ve been in Boston in over 3 years, Death By Stereo has been genial enough to drag along the Mathcore supergroup-ish outing RETOX from their region of SoCal. These miserable fucks are headed by Justin Pearson of faslegrind warriors The Locust and Some Girls, the soundtrack to your plane crash. Opening this here festival of rock-against-establishment was local -Core crew Jack Burton Vs. David Lo Pan, which I can’t even say fast in my mind without tripping a bit.

JBvDLP did little wrong in their performance, and as I am quite new to them I can find nothing to critique about how they play without sounding like a right jerk, but something seemed a bit off and I found myself almost wishing they’d be done faster than they ended up being. They wrote songs in a somewhat predictable fahsion, with some dissonance, oddly timed breakdowns that consisted of more than one chord, 2-step parts, etc., but the build of their tunes was a tad bit lanky and dare I say, not muscular enough to hold its own in a live setting. On record they sound fabulous, but on record I’m not waiting for bands I’m actually excited to see.

Up next were RETOX, whose sole existence is to fuck eardrums in a fashion achievable by the most thuggish of decibel use.

Short songs, and even shorter tempers make the bulk of this band’s aesthetic. With their vitriolic mixture of Powerviolence, Grind, Mathcore, and a measure of sardonic wit through good humour and malicious intent, they’re not a band for normal people. But of course, if your band is fronted by the same guy in The Locust, expect it to sound like your Converge wrestling with Trap Them in a washing machine, all refereed by The Dillinger Escape Plan circa Calculating Infinity. Oh yes, it’s a headfuck, but they keep it organized enough that it’s oddly catchy.

RETOX are clearly not interested in writing mosh music, with the crowd more content with watching Justin’s lithe, almost wispy form contort, slither, and find odd ways to force air out of his lungs than causing one another injury. RETOX is a big fan of feedback, as is evident in the above video, and made sure that it sounded like a chainsaw committing seppukku rather than a computer undergoing cellular mitosis. Needless to say, it was damned loud, if the dithyrambic clatter of four men shapeshifting between angular Hardcore to borderline noise is your game, please investigate, and mind your ears.

Death By Stereo, as I mentioned before, is a band I’ve known of for a long time, but never felt an urge to investigate. I made a huge mistake there, and as a result was not ready for a band that actually seems to enjoy every second of playing live.

Now, allow me to preface the actual review of their set (which was awesome, by the way) with Efram and co’s drunken antics. Mainly Efram, but there was scandal on the hands of the other members as well.

• Efram claims that Van Halen stole “Panama” from a song that they wrote called “Boston”, which is only about 15 seconds long. If you ever needed an excuse to hate David Lee Roth, that’s it right there.

• Efram is secretly defending America from the horrors of “Post-Piano Screamo”, which was birthed in Germany by the unholy We Butter The Bread With Butter. The band’s holy water for this most egregious offence to music was a liberal dose of Slayer’s “Raining Blood”. Cross my heart and hope to die when I say it seems his crusade is waged in vain, as the unspeakable Sisyphean curse of Synthcore has already made its way to our shores in the form of Attack Attack!, Abandon All Ships, and Design The Skyline.

• The entire band except for a single guitarist and drummer Mike got off the stage to order drinks while still playing, at which point Efram stood on a stool with a full shot glass while he sang the rest of the song.

            ›› On that note, Efram and bassist Robbo repeatedly got off stage , the former of which grabbed and buddied around with people, regardless of how much they actually seemed to be enjoying the show, the later bumping into everyone within a two-yard radius of the stage.

• Efram grabbed a broomstick in one of these trips off stage and broke the head off on an overhead beam, at which point he tossed the lonely stick down in the middle of the crowd.

• Efram offered oral sex to the first man to buy him a beer.

• Efram frequently two-stepped and windmilled with a velocity that could remove the trunk from an elephant, often dangerously close to other human beings. Luckily no one was injured.

• Efram said Henry Rollins was Black Flag’s worst singer, and admitted that since they both live in California, he could easily be murdered by the giant himself.

It goes on and on. Wikipedia didn’t lie when they said DBS’s live shows are energetic, oh no they did not. With a small group of people out of the approximately 30 or so that were actually in the venue who sung their hearts out and hopped excitedly as the band belted out their paeans to liberation, it became obvious that they are one of the last standing great Metalcore bands. And I mean Metalcore as in a true fusion of Hardcore Punk and legitimate melodic Metal riffing inspired by Sweden’s legion of Melodic Death and Iron Maiden alike. They were one of the bands that actually spawned a lot of the common tropes associated with Metalcore, but it seems everyone’s forgotten who they should thank. If their reawakening in the form of this tour proves anything, it’s that Metalcore isn’t always a misnomer.

What I lacked in knowledge of lyrics, I made up for in appreciation for being able to see a band that I’d always thought had a pretty cool name, as well as having one of the angriest songs I’d heard for a while, entitled “You Mess With One Bean, You Get The Whole Burrito”. Always made me hungry, that title. Death By Stereo are one of those forgotten legends that inspired countless bands but are lucky to get even cursory mentions and play in front of a small audience in a neighborhood whose venues smell like spilt beer on a good night. Good music sometimes just doesn’t hit it big. Actually, scratch that, it almost never makes it big. That’s why Green Day plays in Gillette Stadium and most of the Powerviolence bands from the 90s are defunct.

If you get a chance, even if you don’t know them well, go out and see this band. They’re quite friendly, and care more that you enjoy that show than if you know all their songs word-for-word.That’s the positive thinkin’ that got me a picture with Efram and Dan “The Man With The Handlebar Mustache That Is Straight From An Era When Strongmen Were A Thing” Palmer!

I have also been awarded the distinct honor of having the best shirt of the night, so fucken ace night overall. I just wish I weren’t the only person under 21 there.

Maryland Deathfest X – Preshow Power And Violence: Thursday

I’m sure I have now experienced something like the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca or a trip to Africa. It was hot, dirty, dangerous, and invigorating all the same. You feel like home in that place, even if the road and destination are fraught with potential dangers and complications. Those things don’t matter when you’re at Maryland Deathfest, because if you can simply sit in the parking lot and still have a blast just watching all the interesting people walk by and talk to those who are either tanked, injured, stoned, or just that special kind of crazy. So before I actually delve into the bands that played, since I only had a 3-day, I’m gonna ramble about my experiences just being there.

Let me just state for the record that if you’re at all interested in Punk, Metal, Hardcore, or any of their various offshoots, this is a trek you need to make at least once while it’s still happening. Baltimore is a beautiful city, though the people in it are all nutter buggers, so try not to get raped, stabbed, or dragged into the wrong party is all I can say. Always roll with a crew 10 niggaz deep, 6 at minimum. Get there while it lasts, because while there is a low risk for a murder or serious injury, I’m sure that the non-rock’n’roll folks in Baltimore would love little more than to see crazy bullet belt Satan worshipping spikey brats not crawling around their town one weekend a year. Though I must question how they haven’t wised up to the fact that every year for the last 10 years, there’s been some huge gathering of Rock’n’Roll kids in their town, and still have to ask what we’re doing. I blame it on widespread amnesia and easy access to crack. The further down south you go, the more lit up the adult video stores are, and your chances of running into a legitimate Red Light District, complete with a Hustler Club, increase exponentially. It’s a bit refreshing to see that the sordid underbelly is not quite the underbelly, but exoskeleton of everyday life in this city. With one or two murders a day, a city’s definitely got to show unwary travelers the places they’d like to skirt around.

As for the atmosphere of Baltimore at the time, just seeing so many people in a city at once who at least shared something in common with me was probably one of the most unreal experiences I’ve yet to take in. Just being able to stand outside the Sheraton where I was staying and be able to stumble across gaggles of people who shared musical interest without having to look very far is something that must be seen to be believed. Being only a few blocks away from the epicentre of a common goal of enjoying yourself and some of the finest music to grace this blasted blue ball was a gift that was worth way more than the $150 admission. You had your long-haired Metalheads wearing the usual black shirt and random pants, your Thrashers with the bent back bills, bullet belts and patch jackets, Black Metallers with insane jackets blanketed in Satanic filth, fuzzy Crusties with their dogs and shirts that they seem to have worn down to a fine sheet of bare cotton, dogs left unattended by the aforementioned crusties, old school Metal/Punk dudes that had seen it all since before many of us even learned to draw breath, people that didn’t even appear on the outside to be into metal or punk, a guy in a chicken suit, etcetera etfuckencetera. I really need to go to this more often, it’s just phenomenal how many different crowds come together without the animosity that occurs at your random local gigs.

On Thursday, I simply sat outside the Sonar, nothing more, just drank in all the different people and whatever they were wearing or not wearing. I talked to people from my town, people from Chi-Town, people from all over the damn place, all with their own unique look and feel, all with backstories and unique tastes. From the Mexican punk kids covered in patches from all the spectres of politically dissenting simplicity, to the guys who showed up in little more than a Metal t-shirt and jeans but were still fascinating, to PowerDave, the insaniac of a retro Thrasher, you got a vibrant rainbow of people to hang out with. Watching the front doors of the Sonar never gets tiring, with people flooding in and out constantly, with things to say about every band, be they good or bad. I hear Agalloch absolutely killed it, and EyeHateGod were no slobs either, having played Sister Fucker loud enough to hear clearly from the lot across the street. I’ve heard no reports about the other bands, nor do I care, because if I wasn’t there, I can pretend it never happened and be happier that way.

Post-show parties never failed to bring in some interesting people, whether it was them doing coke, bringing some herbal remedies, or brew fit for kings, it was a nightly sampler of indulgence good for the soul. Be careful, however, to find your limits. I’m going to stay as far back from mine as possible, so as to avoid blacking out and not remembering the wicked dumb things I say the next day and having to clean up after myself alone. Despite a few technicolor hiccups on Wednesday night, all went well in the Bacchanal celebrations of Metal might. I am aware I’m taking too long to write these damn reviews, but fuck you, I do things at my own speed.

Despise Women, Love Whores. EyeHateGod at Club Lido/Wonderland Ballroom

Damn, the dudes were out of control by the time this ended. Too bad I couldn’t see the aftermath, but I’m guessing this place will start enforcing a drink minimum and put up “No Hardcore Moshing” signs. Thanks NOLAners!

Fresh Kill

Cry more, milk drinker!

Fresh Kill is what AndrewBastard fools around with when bored with PanzerBastard. And I gotta say, I think PB is a bit prettier, but I can see why he also likes doing this thing. It’s kinda grindy, kinda… I forget, but it’s grindy. Maybe some Death Metal was in there too somewhere. Vocals I wasn’t too crazy about, but they had a nice thick sound that I didn’t entirely dislike.

Raw Radar War

“So I clotheslined him, like this!”

I admire the guys’ intensity, but I literally nodded off during their set a few times. Call it exhaustion, whatever.

Livver

NUH

Now here’s a band I wish I could’ve fallen asleep for.  Livver are boring as a soul patch on a glass of milk, and insist upon themselves at every turn similar to such a facial growth on a faceless object. I don’t even know what kind of style these guys were going for, but I’ll just call it Groovebore. Groove rhythms with an attempt here and there at Thrash and -Core, and it’s about as bland as it sounds. Bereft of melody, catchy rhythms, or even somewhat good sound, there were no redeeming qualities to this set in my eyes. The bass was holding the guitar’s head underwater so it blubbered sheepishly, and the drummer packed no punch at fuckin’ all. I’m gonna stop before I get mad.

Tombs

I Can Hear Neither Of You, Yet I Still Wilt Inside

Tombs is known for sounding like their name describes: Massive, cavernous, and dank.

Combining the rawness of Black Metal, the intensity of Hardcore, and the sheer heaviness of Doom/Sludge, Tombs is definitely not a band you can mosh to, but with as great a formula as they have nailed down, it hardly matters. That and I still seem to have difficulty knowing the songs, though Vermillion did stick out as familiar, and I think they intentionally screwed with one song’s riffs so that it sounded a bit different. Or I’m just paranoid. Either way, it was great to see that they have recruited another guitarist, adding yet another layer of shimmering yet dense anti-matter to their compound of heavy.

The only crowd action you’ll see at a Tombs gig is the occasional drunk guy who’s a little too enthusiastic, and maybe Irish, but you weren’t expecting to get laid anyway, were you?

Doomriders

Well the sign behind me doesn’t show a joint, so I’m still in the right!

Reminds me a lot of The Proselyte, who I saw not too long ago, and are also local boys. Doomrydaz plays a hearty blend of Stoner/Sludge/Groove Metal with a nice helping of Punk, and seem to like skateboards.  Apparently the crowd does too, because once that word was mentioned, the circlepit didn’t quiet down until the song was over.

Holy hell, skaters love their Rock’n’Roll. Aside from the set seeming to drag on for an eternity due to impatience and a shortage of time in which to enjoy EyeHateGod, it was quite fun and full of energy, a nice shot in the arm after Livver had personally sucked all the fun out of Revere as a whole.

EyeDateMaude

Dey don’t call it da Green Room fa nuttin’!

Fuck, now I know why people get so excited to see EyeHateGod. Not just because they’re a legendary Sludge band in the same league as Buzzov*en, Weedeater, and most recently Thou, but they will get you fucked up in no damn time because they’re encouraging your ass to go haywire. If only, if only it hadn’t taken them so damn long to set up, though someone did make a Seth Putnam related wisecrack which made it all worthwhile, but still, only getting to enjoy 20 minutes of EyeHateGod felt like buying a timeshare.

There was a full fledged exchange of blows to the face, some hardcore throwing down, and I was offered a piggyback ride form a guy who liked my Pig Destroyer shirt. Sadly, I was sober, and a few sips of beer and minimal exposure to haze from the Green Room did nothing to change that. Sucks not being a lightweight at times. Definitely must get listened on more eyeDon’tLikeJesus’Dad, since I’ve been bouncing around the NOLA Sludge greats and still haven’t made full-body contact with the titans. Hell, I’ve listened to more Death Doom, which EHG is directly responsible for than them themselves. Fufufufbbgf.

Up next, another foray into dirty beer soaked basements full of men wearing vans, flannels, and hats, presented by Ramlord, Condensed Flesh, and Ancient Filth. Pigs go home.