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.

Melt-Banana at the Sinclair, and Death Angel at the Middle East because I got there late

Art, man. That’s all I could think of.

I mean, damn, Neptune. That’s some art rock right there for ya. Imagine if The Boredoms were even more profoundly disturbed? Neptune is an appropriate name for them, as some of the more atmospheric and groovy passages bring to mind the gaseous cerulean winter waste of the aforementioned celestial sphere. It sounded like music made for garbage disposals with a taste for Mike Patton’s Pranzo Oltranzista, which was essentially an experiment with musique concrète that could be what an alien would consider good fuck music. I didn’t hate it, I was just a little disillusioned by the sheer ART of it all, what with the weird for weirdness’ sake home-made instruments, which included (but were not limited to) a guitar that seems to be made of little more than a few wires and transducer thingamabobs, a keyboard that appeared to have been made with an old lunchbox, and hip attachments that, when struck with a bowstring in a similar manner to a viol, will produce an abhorrently eldritch sound.

These men walk among us. It was interesting.

Next were a band that was somehow less weird even though they’re called Brain Tentacles and consist of a saxophonist and a drummer. At least Neptune had sort of a guitar, drums, and keyboard setup. However, since it appears the dudes in Brain Tentacles are wicked into metal, brah, they actually pulled off some pretty straight sounding Shining/Ihsahn-esque prog experiment with enough extreme metal tinges to make you nod aggressively at points. More catchy grooves to be found, and Gunface of The Red Chord (R.I.P.) made a guest bass appearance for the last song. Handsome guy hardcore hairstyle, well-maintained beard, and later-era Ulver shirts are the new black (metal).

And to top off this Dada sundae were Melt-Banana, though in a more adorable and lightweight duo format, consisting of the core members:  singer/squeaker Yako (also in control of the drum tracks and non-guitar effects) and guitarist Agata, and a short wall of speakers that made the lack of a drummer seem completely normal, as all the thump and thud was still there.

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That glowing thing is I suppose the device that controlled the audio fireworks. The setlist was (predictably) made largely of songs from the new album, Fetch, with some oldies tossed in like grenades of familiarity. Notable in my mind were the more recent “Chain Shot To Have Some Fun” off the catchy Cell Scape, the punk-meets-glitch of “Cat Brain Land” from Bambi’s Dilemma, and a handful of noiseballs from the artgrind classic, their debut Speak Squeak Creak. You can bet this was at least as crazy as when I saw them last at T.T. The Bear’s. A constantly undulating mass of excitable humans who had stood in wait since the beginning of the show to get ripshit. And how could one not wish to thrash about in response to the blasting, beeping, scratching, crashing dithyramb of constructed noises like a demolition of a nightmarish acidscape? Art, man.

As for the next one, I was busy making jam from sound waves up until I arrived in time to catch the later half of Revocation‘s set, smack in the middle of “Invidious”, and then coasting from “Dismantle The Dictator” to a lofty end at “No Funeral”. And all were at peace.

Then came 3 Inches Of Blood to make war with everyone’s brains, concentrating mainly on the newer material that sounds much more rooted in the epic and grand stylings of ‘Maiden and ‘Priest (who else?), rather than the raging power metal of their earlier releases. If anything, they found a way to make their songs even catchier than before, which I couldn’t have fathomed was possible.

Damn.

“Deadly Sinners” and “The Goatrider’s Horde” are the classic and mandatory tunes, of course, but the new tunes weren’t at all frightening or offensive, so I feel it was well worth the experience.

Snowcapping this event were Death Angel, who I haven’t familiarised myself with aside from tracks off The UltraViolence and Relentless Retribution. I know, I fucked up. So I was underprepared, and the only song I recognised was “Truce”. But hey, it was good to see one of the underrated titans of thrash in a cozy venue at the very least.

Thanks for the ticket, Scott!

Run, Weeaboo Faggit, Cry. Dir en grey at the Paradise Rock Club

So that’s three of my favorite bands I’ve seen thus far: Dir en grey, BtBaM, and In Flames. We’re rolling along well, kids. All I need to knock out now are Linkin Park and Slipknot, and my life is complete.

But then again, I shouldn't be making this desire public.

So Dir en grey have been around for quite a while, making quite the (un)pleasant racket in their homeland of Jay-Pan before finally getting a little recognition worldwide with VULGAR, an album as screwy and J-Rock as it was Westernized angst in the form of Nu-Metal. Fortunately for them and the homophobic wizards they could’ve potentially lost as a fanbase, they stopped dressing like such

and have opted for a more conservative palette of black.

With less bawdy attire followed less bawdy music. don’t get me wrong, I’m hugely in love with all their material, even when they were one of the many novelty J-Rock/randomly Alt. Metal acts scratching for the surface, since they happened to be the best. Nowadays, they certainly aren’t fuckin’ around, and their last couple of albums will have you know that with a quickness, with Uroboros and Dum Spiro Spero taking them in a direction more Mr. Bungle/Opethean.

So this has been my second time at the Paradise(third technically, since Amon Amarth sold out and I hadn’t bought a ticket beforehand), and once again, was not expecting violence. Though considerably less than Volbeat earlier in the year, it seems a few Diru fans that weren’t in mallgoth/weeaboo attire are fuckin’ pissed and want to punch things. I don’t blame ’em, really, as Dir en grey’s direction has been shifting more towards Death Metal/Deathcore, with Kyo gaining deeper growls, Shinya busting out a few blastbeats, and the guitars being noticably downtuned and playing more rhythms akin to breakdowns and Doomy trudges. It’s gotten heavier than yo mama, and it’s gotten meaner.

It should be noted that there were a few people, some that I knew, some I didn’t, that were certainly under psychedelic influence, which may not be the best idea for your sanity when watching Dir en grey’s frontman Kyo contort and caterwaul eerily for two minutes. It may or may not have helped that once familiar songs Tsumi To Batsu and Obscure have been redefined and warped inside-out to become something entirely unrecognizable, making them more unsettling than they already were, and that was already at a good level of unsettling. Much like the revamp of Hydra from Macabre to -Hydra 666- on the Dozing Green single, it’s an inversion of what you thought Dir en grey were before.

While Diru are still far from a legitimate metal band(one look at their crowd would tell you that), they’re certainly interested in continuing on this new dark direction. Kyo’s gaze seems to sweep like a beam of fire, commanding the audience to see how fucked and insane he is, promising that he’ll drag you down, and that one day, he will fuck your parents. Even not-so-heavy crowd favorites Kasumi and Kodou felt different in the charged atmosphere Diru created with their newer material, including the juggernaut Reiketsu Nareba from Uroboros that seems to be like a schizo running with scissors amped up on coke. Of course, they had to play The Agitated Screams Of Maggots, which has some of the best/worst Engrish ever penned by this quirky quintet, including gems like “It’s black flag motherfucker!” and “I rape your daughter on your grave!”. Not sure if the former is an odd shout-out to Henry Rollins and co. being an inspiration to the band, but stay classy as always boyos.

When the ending kicks in, cover your face and run away.

So that was about how it happened, in the most chronological fashion I could manage, having no care for the chronology. I’m just glad I got to see Diru, and I’m kinda sad that they didn’t play more from Withered To Death, but oh well. Arigatou gozaimasu, and a merry fuck you.