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.

The The The The The. Between the Buried and Me at the Palladium

How does one classify Four Loko? It’s certainly not beer; it tastes far too good for that. It’s not vodka; it’s got the telltale fizz and lack of gasoline aftertaste. It’s certainly not whiskey because it doesn’t taste like hellfire. I’ll just say that it’s the blood of Dionysus and leave it at that. Boy, is it good. Especially if you haven’t eaten, then it just goes straight to your damn face.

So in the entirely wrong mindset I went to see Between The Buried And Me. In a familiar moment of brilliance I realised that every band on this tour has the word ‘the’ in their name. Wow. The definite article is king. Some grammarian make a punny joke about that. I digress.

There was no question about my attendance with this one right here. I had the funds, I had the time, and I still have a huge space in my heart for these North Carolinian wizards whose music is like off-Broadway musicals meet Opeth meet Pink Floyd meet Cave In meet João Gilberto meets Dream Theater if they were good meets Botch meets Freddy Murcury. It’s a clusterbomb/fuck of influences that all somehow manages to make writing 20 minute songs excusable in my mind.

But for the openers, because a good review is chronological, should the universe allow me to experience it in such a fashion, and it normally does. The Safety Fire from London (like you didn’t assume they were already, because I sure did and I was right) were an okay primer for what was to come. They play a relatively inoffensive kind of prog metal meets metalcore and some poppy-esque sensibilities. This we call ‘djent’, usually, but some people would rather me not. If I see a duck, I’ll have to call it a hang-glider, which I suppose is technically correct if you feel like a duck while hang-gliding. Don’t be obnoxious to wildlife.

They’ll drink to that.

After that little musical handy wrapped up, The Contortionist, now officially rollin’ [blunts] with Mike Lessard of fellow progressive and high-minded –in both ways– Last Chance To Reason, stuck entirely to their mindblowing new album, Intrinsic, which just about raised the bar on everything they’ve done on Exoplanet, which was marvellous in its own right. It’s like if elevator music were heavy, but in the best way one could possibly mean it. Simultaneously light, airy, and melodic, yet crushing at a moment’s whim, without the gaps and awkwardness that could come from a lesser band trying to transition from asteroids colliding to doing heroin on an armchair. Hearing “Cortical” live was just too good of a treat, and I hope that while they bring back the oldies on future tours, they keep dazzling my ears with their introspective steaze.

The Faceless have dropped into odd territories with their latest album, Deconsecrate, and have essentially become the fat fedora atheists (FFA’s) that one oft encounters vomiting pseudo-intellectual babble onto a forum somewhere, and making themselves hard to agree with even if you share their general viewpoint. I’m all for hailing science, but I wouldn’t write a song or make a shirt about it.

Come on.

But despite this, I’ll always still hold a soft spot for The Faceless on the basis that their first two releases were just sooooo good. And “The Eidolon Reality” was a pretty killer track before it was fucked with until the chorus was so unrecognisably cut up by the dull blades of an overzealous audio technician that it is now the audio equivalent of Joan Rivers’ face. And in that statement I believe I am somehow implying that there was ever any good to be found in JR’s mug to begin with. Other than that, I just found myself patiently appreciating the actually heavy parts of the new songs and revelling in nostalgia during “Coldly Calculated Design” and “Xenochrist”, but still sad to see a band I once obsessed over become just an auxiliary band that will play second hurdy-gurdy to something I’m actually stoked on.

And how could one not be stoked on Between The Buried And Me, who are probably one of the three metal bands out of North Carolina that aren’t sludge or doom?

Busting out the entirety of Parallax 2: Future Sequence? Why yes, I’ll come down and peep that right quick.

There’s no such thing as a ceiling when it comes to BtBaM’s sound. It will always continue getting weirder, and the concepts progressively more spacey. They are spacemen. At least I say they are. It’s a marvel that they do this without prolonged exposure to LSD and/or shrooms or just really potent weed.

Regardless of nonexistent narcotics, they’ve still got grandiose compositions swirling around in their collective head, with enough artistry as warrants growing a scraggly beard and maintaining a mellow aura despite the music being a mad mix of progressive death metal, hardcore, and cosmic soft rock textures that would send any lesser man cackling into a garret. Scoff with thinly veiled derision if thou may, but taking this whole (awesome) new album to the face in a live setting has just reminded me how much I love these guys. From the metallized surf of “Bloom”, to the powerbombing breakdowns of “Telos”, the epic headbang territory of closer “Silent Flight Parliament”, etc. etc. I’m going to not nerd out, here. It was a good show (great show, even), and we’ll leave it at that.

And Fizzle.

Wacky Band Tuesday: Akphaezya

And now for something completely different. Or rather, something I haven’t done in a while, thus creating an illusion of difference as I go about my textual ministrations. I present,Akphaezya, France’s finest in Avant-Garde Gothic/Progressive Death Metal/Funk/Blues/Lounge Jazz/Swing/Salsa/Big Band since Deathspell Omega, or “Eklektik Metal” as they call themselves. With a female vocalist/pianist by the name of Nehl Aëlin to boot, for all you uncultured cuntswabbers out there.

Yes, Akphaezya have all that, and they manage to sound fine while doing it. I found out about these guys whilst perusing Metal Hammer, back when I found Metal Hammer worth perusing, which is no longer the case. They gave it a low score of 5/10, saying it had no focus and lacked direction. Well kindly screw yourself Union Jack, because yes it does take a bit of time to wrap one’s mind around initially, but it’s not all that confusing when you give it a good listen. The problem with professional Metal reviewers is that they can’t give deserving Progressive albums the right score since they’re too busy circle jerking over familiar names to give new or obscure ones a listen, unless they happen to specialize in that field.

Having read Metal Hammer’s review and being an impressionable youngster with a deathwish, I looked them up, and I was pleasantly surprised at what I heard. It wasn’t a jumble of noise that attempted to be Mister Bungle on er… whatever drug you want to insert because I’m sure Mr. Patton and Co. have done it all. Chrysalis is actually quite well-crafted, going effortlessly from grand piano interlaced Metal of an unidentifiable genre, simmering down to a piano, drums, and bass, before exploding into a flurry of tremolo picking, blasting, and growling that only lasts for a few seconds, and then back to the melodic Progressive Metal and then negligently (though beautifully) clambering into a number that could easily climb the Latin Music charts if they built a whole song around that, then settling into a sleazy 30s nightclub tune, all in a minute and a half out of the total 6 minutes of the song.

Akphaezya is the result of throwing Arch Enemy, Angizia, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Moonlyght, and Gonin-Ish into a cement mixer. Angizia and Gonin-Ish are, in case you’re unfamiliar with them, two Avant-Garde Metal bands who put more focus on piano than heavy guitars, thus lending themselves comparisons to the band at hand. Holy balls, and they’re coming out with a new album soon, which, judging by the new song, promises to be just as good, if not better than Anthology II. And I’ve still no clue why their debut is entitled Anthology II, which is supposedly going to be a series of five, but that just adds to the colour I suppose. Now I’m gonna brush a banana with a squirrel.