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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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.

This is Baghdad, not L.A. A review of -Nomadic- by Fallujah.

Most know Fallujah as a modern tech-death band. Some people like them. Some people don’t. I am decidedly ambivalent. “But Sean,” you ask, peering at me from across a diner table while a waiter hands me some French toast because I have a munchie attack and you’re drinking free water like a fish because you’re poor and I won’t share, “What’s there not to like about Fallujah? They’re kinda like The Faceless, Born Of Osiris, and Animals As Leaders in one burrito of musical prowess that’s lilting, atmospheric and yet surprisingly heavy. You hatin’?” Frankly, I’m still not sure what to think even though I have attempted to listen to their first full-length Harvest Wombs, and all I could say was “Well that was cool, but where’s the meat?” I must ask Fallujah if they’re low-level chefs because they continue to feed me soup.

And as much as I like soup, I enjoy a substantial meal more. Fallujah have melodies that can stir the heart, but it’s trite and flashy in the end, intended to be so fanciful rather than convincing. Just because you can use big words, write atmospheric passages and layer on the sweetness like a killer ice cream cake, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily fit for daily consumption, but just a once-in-a-while treat to remind you that it exists and is readily available for cheap. Fallujah just don’t impress me, and -Nomadic- is thus far not really changing my opinion. The fact that this is a three song EP and the second song is just a synth’n’sample pisstake that does nothing more than massage your ears isn’t becoming of their talent with actual instruments. It’s a good track for easy listening, but until they make an easy listening release, it’s just there taking up space on your computer for no reason.

It’s no more captivating than the better moments on their official debut Harvest Wombs, and I’m sad to say that their blackened deathcore EP Leper Colony sounds more groundbreaking by comparison to what they’re doing now. Hell, the fact that they managed to take frosty black metal blasting and integrate modern hardcore elements (read: breakdowns and circlepit parts) without making them too corny was a much more ballsy experiment than waxing cosmic/aethereal and hoping for the best. Too many bands of their type exist, and I’m drowning.

The Verdict: Mehllujah

Grade: C

Hey Bob, What’s Up? An interview with Bob Meadows of A Life A Lost

When you guys first started out in 1999 where did you guys expect to be about 10 years from that point?

I guess I just expected to be more on a different train of life, y’know? You don’t really expect ever to start a band with a bunch of kids and then eventually it kind of unravels and unfolds into something 13 years later. It’s just kind of a surreal experience in a way. But man, it’s pretty awesome, I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. Actually, a lot of other friends of mine are moving along, moving past, and kind of starting these new lives and here I am, still chasing down this thing, this dream that I call music. It’s pretty wild, man, I never really expected it all.

Right. So what are some of you guys’ main influences, and what are some artists or bands might be surprised shaped your sound?

You can hear the Black Sabbath and the Meshuggah influence for sure, but in the An Ecstatic Trance record there’s definitely other influences we’re pulling from, anywhere from Fela Kuti, and Ti Peyi A, and Orchestra De Polyrhythmo from North Africa, to the German Krautrock scene, bands like Can, Kraftwerk, Aman Duul, things like King Crimson. Anything within that little hiatus that we took where we ended up exploring a lot of different things in music. It’s always been an interest of mine with music; the more obscure, the more different and weird it was, the better it was for me, that’s kinda what I got off on. Being able to pull from those influences, and finally being able to let it hang on my sleeve, it’s a pretty cool thing, it’s definitely very unique, and I definitely think we’ve developed a unique sound with the An Ecstatic Trance record.

Let me ask you something that I’m sure most people probably ask you; What are your attitudes on the “djent” craze, as many cite you guys as innovators of polyrhythms in Metalcore and related genres. Have you any love for bands like Periphery and After The Burial that are expanding on that formula?

I don’t have any feelings towards it. I’m not really interested in that music. When I listen to music, I kinda wanna be floored. When I was younger, when I was 19, that kind of music would be more appealing to me. But since I’m older now, I find more satisfaction in something that’s more soothing, and it’s not really soothing. I hear it all the time, people referring to us as a band in that scene, and I agree to a certain extent, but there were bands before us that were doing it, and there are bands that are still doing it, and those bands deserve more of the credit. When we started doing it, we didn’t do it to fit into a “scene”, like these other bands, these younger kids are doing, but the youth of America is a very impressionable group of individuals, and they feel the need to be able to fit in somewhere. Maybe this new “djent” thing is the new Deathcore, the new Pop Punk or the new whatever. It is what it is, it’s popular, those dudes can play. Misha’s a cool dude; I don’t like his band, but I think he’s a cool dude. I can be friends with someone and not enjoy their band, and that’s the case here. The After The Burial, Born Of Osiris guys, I really don’t know them. Michael Keene, Evan Brewer, those guys in The Faceless, awesome dudes, but I just can’t get down with the tunes, y’know? Doesn’t make me less of a man, but more of an individual, I guess.

Yeah. I noticed you guys were selling a shirt that says “Drop Acid, Not Bombs”. Is this a hint at some of the creative process behind “An Ecstatic Trance”, since there are a lot more psychedelic influences, as you may have mentioned before?

You can look at it as that. One of the main things was to explore that world of music, like psychedelic rock, I definitely think we’ve succeeded with this, and it’s definitely a great introduction to unravel into something that’s gonna be bigger in the future with our sound. With hallucinogenics, there are only two of us that sorta dabble in that, haha. I think it was more like a goof shirt. We had this Rolling Stones rip-off tee goin’, with some dude with fucked up teeth, and we were like “We should totally put an acid tab on his fuckin’ tongue, just throw in “Drop Acid, Not Bombs”, it could be funny”. So we ended up doing it, and I think the design turned out pretty good. And it’s funny, the people that actually come up and buy this shirt, they’re so weird, haha. We had t-shirts of a “World Bong”, something like that, and we were on tour with Norma Jean. We printed the shirts on yellow, red and green, kinda like a Rastafarian, Jamaican color scheme going on. Then you had these impressionable youth, the Christian kids buying the shirts because of the colors, not necessarily knowing what was going on with it. But if it’s funny, it’s funny, it’s fun to be in a band and do shit like that. But yeah it’s more of a goof, haha.

Since you guys recently replaced half the band and have been experimenting with some new sounds on your last two sounds, some fans have expressed that they’re not entirely happy with the direction you’ve taken. Do you have anything to say to them?

Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. There are kids that don’t like my band now that probably really love Periphery and After The Burial. That’s the beauty of being a person, you’re entitled to your own opinion, likes and dislikes, and shit, man, if you don’t like my band, you don’t like my band! That’s fine, just don’t base that on my character as a human being. I’m sure my conversations are ones of humour and also interest. If A Great Artist is the record you wanna hear, you can pop that on while you’re driving and punch the steering wheel. But if you’re coming to our shows, that’s what to expect: We’re gonna play what we just put out, what we believe in. An Ecstatic Trance is that record we believe in at the moment.  When we go into the studio to do more things, that’s what you can expect. You’re either with us or not with us, it’s no sweat off my ass, y’know?

Yeah. Going on with that previous question, do you believe you’ll ever make another album like A Great Artist or Hunter, or has the musical environment in the ALOL camp and the general Metal/Hardcore scene has changed to the point where you have to leave those concepts behind?

We were never a band to repeat anything or fall into sequence, or an order when it comes to writing music and songs. We had a very large gap of aggression between A Great Artist and The Iron Gag. It’s a small gap, but there’s progression nonetheless. Once you step back and rewrite something like that it’s regressing in a way. For us to constantly evolve and grow as people, I think the only thing we can do is continue to move forward and develop on sounds that we created in records past. You may see me doing another band in the vein of the older stuff, but never in replication. I would say the likelihood is very slim at this time, haha. But you can never really rule out the elements of pure brutality and heaviness mixed in with the music.

Alright, this is probably the most important question you’ll be asked within the next 6 months: Was math your favourite subject in high school, and if so, what type?

I actually like math a lot. I like algebra. I wasn’t a geometry guy, but number solving, shit like that was always a big interest of mine, haha.

Alright, well thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview, Mr. Meadows, and I hope you guys have much luck in your future endeavours: tours, albums, stuff like that, and I hope to see your band again, hopefully with a crowd that’s more energetic?

Ah, see, that shit never really matters to me. I think that it slowly morphed from people going crazy like it was with A Great Artist and with Hunter. With Iron Gag you saw people just more there to experience the show, experience what we’re doing, and that’s actually kinda cool. It takes the Metal that we’re writing and evolves it so that you can sit back and enjoy it whether you’re a fuckin’ stoner, you’re drunk, you’re a cokehead, you’re fuckin’ trippin’ on acid, or you’re straight-edge. You can step back and watch the show, enjoy the show for what it is, and that’s the place where Doug and I are trying to take the group now, make it a live experience, not just an experience for the record.

Hmm, that’s actually a pretty good way to look at it. Well, once again, thank you very much, and I wish you luck.

Thank you very much, bro.

I Lack A Sense Of Purpose: In Flames at the House of Blues, 10/3/2009

I pledged to myself several months ago that I wouldn’t put this off any longer, mainly cos life is uncertain and if I have to wait ’til next October… well frankly I don’t know if I’ll die or not. So before some punk decides to run up and smoke me with a Mac 10 as I walk home, I’ll write this account of what can be called my first showgoing experience, excluding Madonna, because what can I really say about that? It’s Madonna, nothing mindblowing happened, and someone probably did coke backstage, but that’s all speculation. Since In Flames is playing the House Of Blues again soon, it seems appropriate to dredge up this tale of naïvetè, with no holds barred.

Since this was my first ever Metal show, I could say with certainty that I was almost breathless at seeing so many people with the same musical taste as me gathered in one place at the same time. So many heathens bearing the logos of their favourite bands, most Satanic, cryptic to anyone not in the crowd, or just blatantly offensive. I wore my Behemoth shirt, because it was probably my most extreme at the time, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t wear it with some amount of pride, despite getting it at Hot Topic. Looking across the street and making fun of the “normies” going to see the Red Sox game is always a great pastime for those waiting to get beer spilled on them and violently collide with sweaty men for a few hours. It’s a fair cop, I suppose, spending some hard-earned cash from an extra-cirricular program to buy pain, tinnitus, and morning-after soreness in the neck, back, and legs enough to make waking up a Herculean task.

After marvelling at all of the other black-shirted monstrosities surrounding me, I inched my way toward the door, practically shaking with excitement. At the time, I hadn’t heard much by The Faceless, but I was stoked for 3 Inches Of Blood, In Flames, and most of all, Between The Buried And Me. Hell, I watched their Silent Circus bonus DVD with live footage twice just to get in the right mood. Of course, not being battle-ready and pit hardened, I was nowhere near as adept at any of the manœuvers I had witnessed in some live footage I had seen, but more on that later. It’s hilarious.

When I finally entered the venue after being felt up by the ever-so-friendly security, I was just barely able to contain myself. I immediately half-ran, half-walked up to the massive stage, taking in the sheer immensity. Here I was, after listening to this music for years, finally getting a chance to see how it’s done in real life. I made a five-minute friend, which is exactly how it sounds: You meet someone, you complement one another’s shirts, tell them who you’re there for, talk about the bands on your shirts, and drift off into something else until the band begins sound-check and it becomes too loud to hear normal speech.

It was this very occurrence that cut my engrossing Buckethead conversation with Andrew short, since The Faceless were revving up and about to blow a Tech-Death load all over our faces. Note that in lieu of the professionally taken pictures that I normally post, they shall all be photos I took with my then incredibly inept cellphone, complete with the streak effect that comes with poor motion capture.

 

At that time, Planetary Duality had just recently been released, so naturally they based their setlist mainly in that album. Having only listened to “Leica” and “An Autopsy”, and not even being particularly learned in those, I wasn’t quite prepared for all of the action. Sensing air turbulence behind me I wheeled around to witness people throwing down madly to the breakdown sections. I was simultaneously enthralled and frightened, having never seen it in person. A veritable sea of flailing fists and legs I decided wisely to not entangle myself in. I was immediately sold, especially after hearing the tastefully melodic “Sons Of Belial” (the clean vocals were a big plus), the evil Carnival tinged “Legions Of The Serpent”, and of course, the energy displayed by both the band and the crowd. I stole Planetary Duality a few days later, and became a fan. I showed my appreciation by immediately going to the merch table… and buying an In Flames tour shirt.

Up next were Speed Metal freax 3 Inches Of Blood, bringing to the table lots of loud noises and songs about battle with various mythical creatures and non-Metalheads.

 

I went in without a terribly great knowledge of 3 Inches Of Blood’s discography, and if asked today how many songs by them I even moderately know, that number would be only several higher. However, one doesn’t need to know the songs when going to see 3 Inches, but just be prepared to run in circles for the duration of the set. It was at this point I can say that I had my first collaboratively Metal experience in the real world, being a part of the Goatrider’s Horde, brandishing tooth and fist against the indomitable forces of mainstream pop culture. It was a glorious dithyramb of Heavy Metal debauchery, marred only by my losing the In Flames shirt in a circle pit. Luckily I have that same shirt, though a few sizes smaller than I originally bought, through an act of charity by Christian, my best friend at the time who was with me, which I thank him endlessly for.

With spirit undampened due to Between The Buried And Me setting up, I took my place in the crowd, virtually shaking with the anticipation of being able to witness my favourite band.

 

Upon hearing the opening notes of “All Bodies”, I instantly ran into the pit, colliding with any knave foolish enough to be in my way. I was embarrassingly green when it came to moshing of any kind, so I aped the techniques of those around me, including an uncannily Godawful floorpunch. Realizing the silliness of it all, I went back to shoving people. The great thing about Between The Buried And Me is that there’s no shortage of people to sing along to the clean sections with. “People of the stars” we are indeed.

Selkies: The Endless Obsession made an appearance, and I damn near cried. My favourite band playing my favourite song? Pinch me, Mister Ho, I think I huffed too much propane. The only real downer was that people continued moshing to the outro solo. Thus, I learned that some BtBaM fans are not exempt from being as stupid as everyone else. Their then new song Obfuscation was played, which made me a little sad at the time, but since it was a good enough song, I went along with it and watched the band in their fine-tuned ministrations. Tommy leapt around the stage, never once losing energy or spirit, and the crowd reacted in kind. Paul and Dustie’s dual guitars wrapped around one another with the majesty of the Caduceus, and Blake’s drumming resounded in my chest as it never could on record. It was a sensory heaven, aside from the smell of spilled beer and fat man sweat.

The Foam Born series was where my burgeoning mosh-warrior re-awakened and slew some more posers. White Walls made me tingle from start to finish, especially when the entire crowd chanted “Get. Out. Of. This. Closed. Off. Cir. Cle.” In unison. It was at this moment I realized the power that comes from seeing such a great band live. Sure, you can imagine it, but nothing beats being there. By some amount of luck I managed to not be knocked out during the ending breakdown, since it was a veritable tempest of frenetic rushing in and out of the areas quickly becoming safe and unsafe. There was nowhere to hide, and it was great.

It seemed almost impossible that In Flames could live up to my favourite band, even though they were my second favourite. Now they are my third, following Dir En Grey after a rather shameful bout of conduct, what with releasing Sounds Of A Playgound Fading… Whatever, the fact of the matter is, they played, and it was fun.

 

After a set-up time that even I could tell was somewhat abnormal, they launched into “Cloud Connected:, which caused the entire venue to jumpdafuckup. Quite a good time, at least in my mentality at the time. I shouted along every word, since it was quite simple and I listened to it frequently for a quick fix of headbanging action. Looking back, I realize now that a lot of the moshing during the set was completely incongruous to what was being played. Sure, faster songs like “Drifter” and “Pinball Map” can get a circlepit treatment, but the choruses of “Come Clarity” and “Alias”? Makes me want to place my head upon the nearest brick wall for not knowing that was a silly thing to do. The oldest song they played was “The Hive”, which I am certain some sucka MCs thought was a cover of “Right Side Of The Bed” by glamcore stalwarts Atreyu. My generation fails me.

I may not have the same amount of respect for In Flames’ more recent output now, but I’ll be damned if Anders isn’t an entertaining frontman. He cracked jokes, complemented shirts, and was all around a showman at heart. Guitarist Niklas Engelin, presumably taking a break from Engel, was filling in for Björn and sporting a cheesy Red Sox shirt, which begs the question as to whether he wore the shirt of a local sports team at every stop. Björn at that time in the process of being kicked out of the band for being a drunk fuck. We’ll miss ye, as you were the only thing keeping the band from making Sounds Of A Playground Fading. But it is too late. Oh, it is far too late…

By the time the set was nearly over I was almost dead tired from running in circles, pleading to the gods they wouldn’t play “Take This Life”, because by that time I had figured that a huge circlepit would break out and joining would be mandatory. Take a guess as to what happened? Oh yes, I was quite thirsty afterward, that’s for sure.

This concludes this stroll through memory lane, I hope you hated it. I still look fondly upon this event in my mind and almost shed a tear. No, not because it’s a sentimental thing, but because I was such a damn dork. Imagine me floorpunching in a Behemoth shirt with some shitty worn-out Adidas. Time to go drink to my newfound awesomeness.

In all seriousness (kind of), this show may not have been logistically the best I’ve ever attended, but the fact that it served as my gateway into all the countless others I would go on to see at the Palladium, assorted Allston basements, and even as far as Maryland Deathfest, it’ll remain on top for some time to come. Until next time, where I’ll review something that happened relatively recently.

Would You Believe Me If I Told You There Actually Wasn’t Any Legitimate Deathcore There? Summer Slaughter at the Worcester Palladium

The following is a joint review between Redneck From Hell  myself, That Metal Dude. A combination of colors not to be trifled with.

Red: This year’s Summer Slaughter had no real deathcore. Like, fucking really. Well, that’s not entirely true; the second stage consisting of only local bands had some deathcore, but locals don’t count anyway.

Black: Do they ever?

Red: This year we had female-fronted Scottish slam, drunken blackened thrash, greenery-influenced prog, a couple bad djent bands, and a whole bunch o’ death metal, including the godfathers of gore, the mighty Cannibal Corpse. I largely stuck to the main stage due to a lack of quality bands upstairs, though I was disappointed to miss Dysentery’s set, which coincided with The Contortionist. Fuck. I’m kind of finding it difficult to make jokes.

Black: I got one for ya; Autotheism. ZING.

Red: This is gonna be a boring-ass review.

Black: That’s the can-do attitude we’ve come to embrace.

Red: This show was so good, I feel like poking fun at it would be akin to sawing off a unicorn’s horn, using it to stab the mythical beast in the throat, and proceeding to sodomize it post-mortem. Wait, never mind.

Black: In short, Summer Slaughter this year was great, as usual. Some bands were a bit off their mark, including some that I enjoy, which is bound to happen, but if you walk into shows expecting perfection, you’d be better off buying and drinking Smirnoff like the worthless bladder you are.

Red: Cerebral Bore was up first, and this merry bunch of Scottish brutality-bringers opened up the show with a sick sort of glee.

Though they only were allowed 20 minutes to slam around the stage, they brought some serious energy to the venue.

Black: These Scotch sots may not be quite vital on record, but live, it’s something to see.

Red: Simone has some unfuckwith-able brutal vo-killz, and the “for a woman” thing doesn’t even apply. She can hold her own with the best of ‘em. Arch Angela ain’t got shit on Cerebral. Though the band’s songwriting can be a bit schizophrenically unmemorable, the material comes across incredibly well in a live setting, so much so that the actual songs they’re playing stop mattering–the real draw becomes the violence that’s created in this band’s destructive wake.

Black: As mentioned before, they know how to put on a damn show. They were the opening downstairs band, which is a tough spot especially for a band whose just starting to find a fanbase in recent times. If anything, the 20 minute appetizer serves more to entice, like a snake charmer, minus the snakes.

Red: Bonus points for not doing the whole “LOOK AT US WE HAVE A GIRL SINGER” thing. Even more bonus points for naming their band after a weapon from Turok 2. Even fucking MORE bonus points for the ultra elephant stomp at the end of their set. What a way to kick off a show.

Red’s Verdict: Eee Pee Oppa Pee, 8.5/10

My Verdict: Would repeat the experience, with more violence.

Red: Following Cerebral Bore’s 24 year party dungeon, I went upstairs in the hopes of catching the first few minutes of Dysentery, but alas, they weren’t on yet and I headed back down to see The Contortionist.

Funny how this shit works, because I had never seen the Contortionist before this year…and their Summer Slaughter appearance was the third time I witnessed their brand of green-friendly spaceprog since this April. This was my personal favorite of their three sets, even though they obviously had more time on their headlining tour. They got 25 minutes, playing two new songs (“Causality” and “Geocentric Confusion”) and two old songs (“Flourish” and “Oscillator”).

Black: If I had my way, I’d have them squeeze in “Contact”, with a hearty rude finger-gesture to the set-times. However, I’d personally never seen them play “Flourish” live, as far as I recall, so that was a tasty treat to take home that night. The new songs weren’t exactly mosh-fodder, but they show how The Contortionist have grown as songwriters, and have nowhere to go but up as far as quality material.

Red: I’ve already detailed Contortionist sets for BMD, so I’ll keep this short–the mix was better, they were tight as fuck, and “Geocentric Confusion” was fucking incredible live, particularly the second half.

Red’s Verdict: There’s No Way The Bassist Wasn’t Stoned, 9/10

My Verdict: For solutions, look to the pipe.

Black: Up next were proud Carcass-worshippers Exhumed, who clearly have a bone to pick with the deceased.

It’s almost criminal to stick a band of Exhumed’s tenure with a 20 minute set, which was just enough for 4 or 5 chainsaw-to-the-face style songs about messing around with unearthed corpses. The audience was mysteriously sparse, despite the band’s history as intense performers despite their frequently shifting line-up. I’m guessing some upstairs band probably offered everyone free water, candy, and sex, thus, that sounded more enticing than a disembowelment. Whatever the cause, a lot of people missed out. After their set I was given the honor to interview frontman Matt Harvey, so stay tuned for that, as it has yet to go live.

My Verdict: Not enough viscera for my liking. More akin to dissecting the long-dead than a fresh cadaver, but it was still fun.

Red: I only caught about three of Exhumed’s songs, so I’m not going to review that, though the three songs I saw were energetic and fun goregrind. Rather than stay for their set, I opted to head upstairs to catch Formless, a local tech-death act featuring internet “sensation” Annie Shred on guitar.

Though they were VERY shreddy (unsurprisingly), they seem to lack a distinct sound of their own, largely aping tech-death champs Spawn of Possession, The Faceless, and Necrophagist. The drummer was the weak link–he messed up noticeably a few times, which appeared to piss off the bassist. Gotta love onstage tension! The harsh vocalist was decent, but far too low in the mix, and Annie’s clean vocals were technically sound but didn’t seem to fit the music. They’re a band with lots of potential, clearly more than most local tech-death acts, but I would venture they’re overly confident in themselves, and fairly naïve in the songwriting department. That said, it was enjoyable watching the guitarists do their dual-shreddage thaaaaang. Give ‘em a few years, and they may emerge as a band to watch.

Verdict: I Mean, I Guess It Was Good For A Local Act, 7/10

Change of pace time arrived with Goatwhore on the main stage. I didn’t mosh for the Satanic drunks, simply because other than “Carving Out the Eyes of God” I’m not that knowledgeable with their tunes.

Black: Here’s a summary of all their songs; two-step riffs, but BLACK METAL.

Red: Looked like a fun pit, though. Oh yeah, just a side note–pits were mad fun all day long because there was a distinct lack of throw-downers. Why? Because there was GOOD FUCKING MUSIC present. Anyway, back to the topic at hand; Satanic drunks, Satanic drunks. Goatwhore’s brand of blackened thrash was fun enough that I’m now going to give their discography an extensive listen–them and Skeletonwitch seem to be the leaders of modern thrash these days, and I’m not complaining. They put on kick-ass live shows, and let’s face it–who in metal doesn’t have a little love for some serious bible-bashin’?

Verdict: Who Needs God When You Have Beer? 8/10

My Verdict: Very meh. But then again, if they don’t take themselves seriously, what with spikes glued on protective sporting gear, should I?

Red: Back to the land of death metal.

Black: Ah, so that explains the acrid odor of burning flesh.

Red: Arizona’s Job for a Cowboy once again put on a class-A show, with all the members giving energetic and inspired performances, playing a handful of their best songs.

The setlist included the false-start of “Entombment of a Machine” into “Embedded”, “Imperium Wolves”, “Unfurling a Darkened Gospel”, “Children of Deceit” and the live monster “Constitutional Masturbation”. I gotta say it, though–for once these guys got the audience they deserved–full of honest to goodness death metal fans rather than core-kids. It’s really pointless for Job to hitch onto a deathcore bill at this point in their career, since it will only piss off the audience when they don’t play Doom material. They haven’t been deathcore since the aforementioned debut EP. Regardless, they were impressive as always, and judging by the pit violence, I’d think it’s safe to say they even managed to convince a few lingering elitist skeptics of their quality. A vicious performance. A top-notch set from a top-notch band.

Verdict: I Guess Children of Deceit Sorta Has a Breakdown, 9/10

Red: I heard way too much of Veil of Maya’s set. Fuck that band.

“To drop that filthy bass, or not to drop.”

They have a few good songs, but goddamn. When you use a computer to program your kick drum so that you don’t actually have to play triplets, fuck yourself. When you can’t play your own songs, fuck yourself. When the above negatives apply to your band and you still call yourself “prog”, DOUBLE fuck yourself. When many of your popular songs are simply variations on the exact same riff you’ve been playing your entire career, fuck yourself. When I find myself wondering about when The Offspring is gonna get around to recording another decent album because you’re so goddamn boring, get the fuck off the stage and let someone with real talent step up.

Black: Even though I really do like Veil Of Maya, and have seen them a couple of times before this, and greatly enjoyed those sets, I’m inclined to agree with Redneck on this one. The sound: Horrid. The breakdowns: Muddy. The bass drops: Like someone dropped an enormous cotton ball over the speakers. Overall, very disappointing set. The songs they chose weren’t even their really good ones, and the main amusement was the sampling of the “browwrrr brrnt, browwrrr der nee nee ner nee nee ner ne” kid. Even the -core kid crowd seemed to be faltering with forced enthusiasm as they tried their damnedest to have fun, so I know it’s not just me that saw VoM struggling to stay on form.

Red’s Verdict: Ass. I got no joke. 2/10

My Verdict: Dishonourable. I choose death.

Red: Unfortunately, when Veil of Maya did get off the stage, they were replaced by an only slightly better band.

Periphery is actually pretty talented musically, but they have a few crippling problems.

Black: Preach brutha.

Red: For one, they fall into the common trap of focusing on technical skill more than songwriting–forgivable in some cases, but not here–I’ll get to why in a bit. Secondly, their vocalist is the biggest pile of steaming horseshit since that American Idol reject released his own record.

Black: Which one? Hohoho.

Red: Like, seriously, this guy just isn’t good at anything. He tries to do menacing harsh vocals, but they come across like a whiny toddler, his voice is so weak. He tries to do powerful (at times soaring) cleans, but they wind up sounding like a worse version of Linkin Park…which is pretty fucking hard.

Black: While I do enjoy Spence’s vocals,  I think pulling them off was the most impressive part of their set. That’s not saying much, as the song choices for the night were rather weak, in my eyes. Had they played “All New Materials”, the bouncy “Letter Experiment”, or even their ballad-esque “Jetpacks Was Yes!”, I would have gotten more enjoyment out of it.

Red: This is where the songwriting issue comes in. Notice how I mentioned that Cerebral Bore had a similar problem with songwriting. The difference is that Cerebral Bore deals more in sounds and feelings than shit that’s gonna stick in your head–they just want to crush your skull in. Periphery aims to write choruses and melodies that refuse to leave your steel trap, but they utterly fail. It’s almost like they’re trying to be something better than they are. I don’t know, but I’m bored writing about them. The lead guitarist should just find another band, basically.

Black: Maybe instead of shelling out cash for big fancy tour buses emblazoned with their faces and Jackson logos, they oughta work on setlists that make one excited to see Periphery, and not just an opportunity to say “I saw Periphery”.

Red’s Verdict: Ohhhh You Know I’m Whining, Baby 5.5/10

My Verdict: Let those emotions hang out, but not too far.

Red: Thankfully, the lame part of the day ended when Periphery finished their set. As soon as the last note of their weaksauce performance, I headed to the floor to get a good spot for The Faceless.

Having last seen them co-headline Summer Slaughter two years ago with Decapitated, I was expecting the world, given that they SLAYED that show.

Black: Up until this point, they’d been slaying more than the eponymous Vikings in Iron Maiden’s song Invaders.

Red: Well, they didn’t exactly give me the world, but it was a decently sexy set nonetheless. They leaned heavily on material from Planetary Duality–a damn near masterwork–playing “Coldly Calculated Design”, “Legion of the Serpent”, and “Xenochrist”, all of which are fantastic tracks. They ended their set on a strong note, with Akeldama’s “An Autopsy”. All this is well and good, and per usual they nailed this material.

Black: In hindsight, their tapping so readily into Planetary can almost be seen as an apology for what was to follow.

Red: The two songs they played from the upcoming Autotheism record left me slightly concerned though. One of the two they played, “The Eidolon Reality” has been out for quite some time, and it’s a fine track in its own right, and when we first heard it over a year ago, it seemed like the perfectly logical direction for The Faceless to go in following Planetary Duality. However, the other song they played, “Deconsecrate”, was…disconcerting, to say the very least. This track has no songwriting to speak of, basically moving between ultra heavy tech-death and SUPER airy clean sections for its entire duration. Flow is nonexistent. It kind of sounds like The Faceless really wants to be Opeth. The death metal sections are fine out of context; they’re your classic Faceless tech-death. Hell, there’s even a pseudo-slam thrown in there. The clean sections, on the other hand, are as fucking disturbing as A Clockwork Orange.

Black: The new album is having us on the floor with the old in-out. Real savage.

Red: Pre-programmed keys and soft drums play in the background while Michael Keene sings boring vocal lines. Michael Keene is an amazing guitarist, no doubt, but shit–he sang more than he played guitar on this song, and let’s be real here. Singing is not his strong suit. His cleans work fine on tracks like “Coldly Calculated Design” and “Sons of Belial”, but on “Deconsecrate” they are far too prevalent and display his weakness in that department. All that being said, this is a show review, not an album review.

Black: That shall come in a little bit, my droogies.

Red: “Deconsecrate” is only one song out of 6-song set…and everything else was of the quality we expect from The Faceless. Also notable is their new harsh vocalist, who performed extremely well–both technically and in terms of leading a crowd. Let’s hope that “Deconsecrate” is just a misstep, because this band is obviously capable of delivering the goods.

Black: The crowd mirrored the apprehensiveness of the band, in a way. There wasn’t quite the same amount of energy, despite the old songs being played down to the nail with their ferocity and (pardon the pun) coldly calculated precision. However, with the recent release of Autotheist and the spotlighting tomfoolery during “Deconsecrate’s” clean sections, it’s clear that Michael Keene has usurped frontman power from the new baldie. If his ego gets any fatter they’ll have the rest of the band play offstage.

Red’s Verdict: I Guess They Ditched the Legion of the Serpent In Favor of the Emotional Metal Guild, 8/10

My Verdict: They’re headin’ down a dark road.

Red: Between the Buried and Me played a set that was essentially perfect, unsurprisingly. Would anyone expect any different from them at this point?

You’ll just keep waiting for them to fuck up.

Really, the only things you can find to bitch about are song choices, and that’s all a matter of opinion anyway. I definitely sprouted half a chub when they came onstage and instantly busted out “White Walls”, their fourteen-plus minute closing epic from 2007’s Colors, a song usually saved for the end of the set. I heard some complaints about there being more material from Colors than The Great Misdirect in their set, but I really didn’t care–I didn’t really need to see “Obfuscation” or “Disease, Injury, Madness” again (though it would have been nice), and “Fossil Genera” was a fucking awesome way to end the set. They played a new song called “Telos” from the upcoming Parallax II record, and it came across well enough to make my half-chub go into full-on woody mode–even if it was obvious that it has some sort of lead in track that was absent from the set. Really, I don’t know how you can complain about Between the Buried and Me’s live show at this point. Even if you’re not a fan of their music, there is no denying that they are at the absolute top of their game, musically and artistically–and they’ve been there for a while, too. Even with legions of imitators, no one can accurately capture what the legendary BTBAM is all about. There’s nothing else to say really, except the band really should apologize to everyone else for being to damn good to compete with.

Black: Ah, sheer radiance, as usual. Unlike the other 6 times I’ve seen BtBaM, I sat in the balcony and watched from above. It’s kind of surreal, watching them do their work while sitting still instead of running around like I’ve accidentally had a hit too much of acid. They had a nice little light-show set up, which I probably would have missed had I decided to punch people during the heavy parts. The set-list relied entirely on long songs, all of them being at least 10 minutes. Having an hour to complete their set, they played “Sun Of Nothing” and  “Spectral Reflections” in addition to those that Redneck mentioned. In all, I need not say more, since BtBaM’s hands down one of my faves, and it’s always a treat seeing them.

Red’s Verdict: All The Vaginas Left After BTBAM’s Set, Dude, 9.5/10

My Verdict: Prismatic bursts of luminous harmony? Sounds nice.

Red: And then there was Cannibal Corpse.

If you think you like death metal, but don’t like Cannibal Corpse, then you’re just lying to yourself. Everything about their live show is fucking brutal bliss.

Black: With nary half a brain to spare between most of the participants in said brutal bliss, one can easily be swept up in the fervor and forget that CC is proud of being the walking Death Metal cliché.

Red: Admittedly, the band has set into a routine with their live shows somewhat, with certain classic tracks being a set necessity and all, but come on. This is a band who has lived through every single change and alteration in the scene, never even coming close to following a trend or doing anything other than playing death metal the way it should be played. With fucking vengeance. They aren’t playing music to you, they’re playing music at you.

Black: Honestly, I felt that way for the first third of their set. I’m not sure if it was just me or if the knob twiddler at the soundboard had some settings up a bit too high. And pardon me if I’m wrong, but “Make Them Suffer” was supposed to be a bit faster than the speed they played it at. Granted, their drummer Paul is recovering from back injuries, so the fact that he’s powering through it at all gets major props.

Red: I moshed fairly viciously to Cerebral Bore, Job for a Cowboy, and The Faceless, but man–Cannibal is the only band that made me go completely insane and smash shit with no acknowledgement of safety for either myself or those around me. My previous 16-year old self may have jumped in the pit for just about any death metal band that played, but I’ll admit that four years forward I’ve slowed down a bit. Cannibal Corpse is one of maybe three bands that can bring me back to that totally insane rage-filled place where no fucks, only beatings are given. This is a band made up of guys as old as my father, so maybe that’s why when Corpsegrinder says he will kill you if you don’t mosh, you fucking believe him. They played the obvious singles from the new Torture record, “Demented Aggression” and “Scourge of Iron”, the latter of which may have been the heaviest song of the entire day in terms of sheer mass.

Black: Ever had a bag of cannonballs put on your chest? That’s what it felt like.

Red: They played both modern favorites (“Make Them Suffer”, “Evisceration Plague”) and golden oldies (“Covered with Sores”, “Born in a Casket”), and they careened wildly through every single one of them. They dedicated “Priests of Sodom” to the women, with Corpsegrinder proudly announcing that if the females failed to scream loud enough, he would find every single one of them, drag them into an alley, and bum-rape ‘em. All in good fun.

Black: Just say yes to fisting.

Red: When the band got to the end of their set and it was time for the ending two-parter of “Hammer Smashed Face” and “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled” there was an air of vicious nostalgia permeating The Palladium. This was the last chance to create chaos, violence and confusion. To bring the bloodshed. The band sure did, and so did we. It was absolutely fucking triumphant to see this classic band absolutely nail a set after 20+ years and more albums than most death metal bands release in an entire career. There is no other band like Cannibal Corpse in metal. Bands come and go, try and fail. If you see them and do not obey every order given, they will kill you.

Black: I’ll be the first to admit I had a lot of fun at the expense of the hare-brained mosh antics perpetrated by the greater collective of Deth Mehtuhl guys in the pits, but there’s no denying that CC touched on some magick formula that, if changed, would be grounds for immediate firing from the music scene at large. Like AC/DC, Motörhead, and Iron Maiden before them, they’ve found a sound and songwriting style that works with an audience of enthusiastic drunken idiots to play it to, and the rest is history. To say nothing of the impossible heaviness they’ve maintained over the years, and being surprised that I’m just now seeing the ‘Corpse in action, I enjoyed every blood spattered minute, if not mainly because the folks that take it to the heart have some of the best mosh faces this side of the Berlin wall.

Verdict: Too Perfect To Be Real. 10/10

My Verdict: They’re ugly, simple, and stupid, just like much of the audience. Ideal conditions for their disease to spread.

By Redneck from Hell and That Black Metal Dude. Your grandmother was a whore.