Well it’s been a while since I’ve written a concert review on here. I’ve admittedly been a bit hesitant due to issues surrounding my last one. I didn’t stop going to see metal shows and in this post I hope to start getting caught up on these concert reviews. In fact, this is going to be part one of a three part series of mega concert recap posts that should have me kicking it into high gear. This one will review metal shows I went to in late November through the end of December of 2012. Part two will cover January 2013 and part three will cover February 2013. Concert reviews are fucking back baby! And of course you can click on any of the pictures below to see more of my photos from that band. Now, on to the recaps…
We’ll start with the High On Fire show all the way back on Black Friday, the 23rd of November at the Rock & Roll Hotel in Washington DC. The first band I saw that night was Primate, a grind band featuring Bill Kelliher of Mastodon on guitar and Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth on vocals. They were ok as far as grind goes. The highlight of their set for me was their cover of Black Flag‘s Gimme Gimme Gimme. Next up was the death/black metal band Goatwhore from New Orleans. They’ve got some mosh friendly riffs and all but they’re pretty damn generic and I can’t think of one thing about their sound that is unique or distinctive. They’re an OK opener I guess but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them. Headliner High On Fire, led by Matt Pike of Sleep fame, came out ready to play and just tore the place up. The show became a sweaty mosh pit and their dirty sludge tunes sounded killer this night. They ended their set with my favorite song, Snakes For The Divine. That song has such a catchy opening riff! This show was a great metal way to spend Black Friday.
A week later, on Friday, November 30th, I found myself at Casa Fiesta in Washington DC for a bit of a mish mash of a show. There were a couple of local hardcore bands opening that I didn’t see. The first band I got to see was Biipiigwan, a sort of blackened sludge band from Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. They were good and created an interesting yet energetic atmosphere. Next up was Sofy Major, a noise metal/hardcore band all the way from France. I really enjoyed their set. It was energetic and dirty and I thought the songs had a lot of variation. The last band to play that night was Midnight Eye, a local metal band with clean vocals, though the guitar wizardry is the true highlight of this band. They write some damn catchy riffs and combine it with some very proficient guitar playing. I heard some of their new material live for the first time at this show and it blew me away! I can’t wait to hear studio recordings of the new songs.
The next night, Saturday, December 1st, I was back at the Rock & Roll Hotel in Washington DC’s H Street corridor. The first band I caught that night was Hour Of Penance. They’re basically Italy’s version of Behemoth. If you like Behemoth you’ll probably like them too. Not the most original band, but they were a pretty good opener for the brutal line up this show had. The next band to play was Maryland’s own Misery Index. Since they’re a local band I’ve seen them a ton of times, though unfortunately this was the worst performance I’ve seen from them. Misery Index’s frontman and bass player, Jason Netherton, was not on the tour because he had been working on something for his PhD. That absence caused Mark Kloeppel to take over on bass and handle most of the vocal duties as well. This really thinned out the band’s sound and while they gave it a good go, it just wasn’t up to par with crushing shows I’m used to from Misery Index. Headliner Cannibal Corpse never disappoints and while I’ve seen them too many times to count over the years I never get tired of the insanity of their live show. Their lead singer, Corpsegrinder, is basically the living embodiment of Nathan Explosion, vocalist of the fictitious band Dethklok on the Cartoon Network tv show Metalocalypse. Quite the charmer, he dedicated the song Priests Of Sodom to all the women in attendance who “take it up the ass.” Corpsegrinder always gets the moshing going and even called upon the Chicken Man to lead the pit at one point. And the pit was rough for this show, just like it should be at a death metal concert! At one point I saw some kid, maybe 10 years old, stumbling around the mosh pit looking for a hat he had dropped. I pulled him out of the pit and alerted security, nobody seemed to know where his parents were. The kid didn’t even have ear plugs. Parent Of The Year award goes to somebody for that night. Anyways, the show was great, they played a few newer songs but kept the set to mostly songs from throughout their history, ending with the usual Hammer Smashed Face and Stripped Raped And Strangled.
The following Thursday, the 6th of December, I drove up to Baltimore to see Vomitor and Negative Plane play at Golden West Cafe in Baltimore. It should be noted that Golden West Cafe has a good beer selection for beer snobs as well as some great food (with many vegetarian options) and their kitchen is open late. The first band to play was Extermination Angel, a thrash/death metal band from Baltimore. I had seen them before but it had been a while. They never wowed me in the past but apparently they’ve been practicing a lot because they really sounded better than I remember them being. I was impressed, and it’s always nice to see local acts improving over time like that. The next band to play was Negative Plane, a black metal band from New York City that has something of a surf rock vibe to their guitar riffs. They were really good live. Their unique sounding riffage kept them interesting throughout their entire set and I think I enjoyed them more than the headliner. Not that Vomitor was bad. They are from Brisbane in Queensland, Australia and have been a force in the obscure underground death metal scene for years. I felt very lucky to get a chance to see them play live. Their set was brutal and gross (as you’d expect from a band named Vomitor) but their songs don’t have a whole hell of a lot of variation and after a while you kind of knew what you were going to get from each song. Still, they really got the crowd going and they were definitely worth the drive up to Baltimore.
The next night, Friday, December 7th, a day that will live in infamy, I headed over to Empire (formerly Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia to catch The Faceless. When I got there the Haarp Machine was playing and it only took me about 10 seconds to realize this was not something I could sit through. I headed to the back “Alchemy Room” at the venue and waited for Revocation to play. They were worth the wait, as always. Boston based Revocation is such a damn good band live. Their songs are fun and jam packed with catchy riffs. They’re pretty fun to photograph as well because of all the goofy faces and poses various band members make while they play. The Faceless was the final band to play. They’re a pretty talented band that made a name for themselves with their very catchy tech death sound however they seem to be moving into a more progressive style, particularly on their latest album, Autotheism. They’re pretty complex and can take a few listens to fully digest what they’re doing. They’re a talented band and their songs are pretty deep, but I still think Revocation was the better live show.
On the following night, Saturday, December 8th (third show in three nights for those who are counting) I headed out to The Lab in Alexandria. The Lab is a rec room for some church that is across the street. As such, there’s no food and definitely no booze there. Regardless, it is a decent sized space with a nice big stage. This night I went to see a DIY death metal show with all local bands. I missed the first band, Shotgun Surgery, but I am glad I caught the second. Annandale’s Gradius is a death/grind band that has been getting pretty good. The band is really starting to get tight and you can tell it is from a lot of practice. The next band to play was Short Bus Pile Up. They’re a gore obsessed death metal band with song titles like Urethral Myiasis, Fecal Matters, Gagging On Dick and Ball-Peen Beating. Their sound is as brutal as you would expect it to be. They came up from Fredericksburg, Virginia to play this show and they definitely brought it. In fact, for the third show in three nights, I again thought the direct support band was better than the final band to play that night. Visceral Disgorge headlined this show. They’re a death metal band from Baltimore that is along the lines of Aborted and Dying Fetus. That kind of slamcore death metal isn’t really my favorite style of metal as I feel it’s been really overdone at this point, but they weren’t bad at it. They did get the pit raging and people seemed to really enjoy it. Apparently two of the members of the band are leaving so hopefully they’ll find replacements and keep the band moving forward. In all it was a pretty killer DIY death metal show.
It wasn’t until the following Saturday that I went to my next metal show. This time it was a DIY house show at the Cellar Door in Annandale, Virginia. The place is tiny but I’ve seen some killer bands there so I can’t complain. A black metal band from New York/New Jersey named Black Table was coming down to play the basement at the Cellar Door. When I arrived I found out that two bands from Louisiana were added to the show at the last minute. Sweet, bonus metal! The first band I saw was Mailbomber. They’re a two piece sludge from upstate Louisiana and they were alright. A good start to the show but not the high point of the night. The next band to play was Solid Giant, a sort of stoner/doom band from New Orleans. They were more polished than the previous band and I really liked them. I hope they come around to a place with a better sound system some time, I’d really like to hear them on a proper stage. The next band to play was Black Table. They have a woman who does vocals as well as play guitar however I thought their drummer stole the show. He was really punching it and putting some real force behind those songs. They were a good show and definitely worth coming out to see. Gradius played at the end of the show but since it was getting late and I had just seen them the weekend before, on a real stage no less, I took off just a couple songs into their set.
Two days later, on Monday, December 17th, I was at DC9 in Washington DC’s U Street Corridor to see Royal Thunder. They’re a female fronted quartet from Atlanta that sort of straddles the line between rock and metal. I had seen them in October at the Pig Destroyer album release show in Baltimore, but they seemed an awkward fit on that bill. However this setting was much better for them and they really killed it that night. Their sound is sometimes dirty, sometimes bluesy, sometimes catchy, and always pretty damn fun to listen to. Also, I have a funny story about this show. A friend of mine, who doesn’t go to a lot of concerts, was at the show with me and had her jacket tied around her waist. While the band was mid-song we were standing in front of the merch table, which Royal Thunder always has decorated with tea candles. At one point I looked over at my friend and saw a stream of black smoke raising up behind her and I quickly realized she was on fire! I quickly alerted her to the situation and helped put her out. She wasn’t hurt but the jacket was ruined. Hilarious!
The following night, Tuesday, December 18th, I went to Empire in Springfield, Virginia to see Battlecross play on the final night of their tour. The tour was supposed to have Abiotic on it also but they had dropped off at some point due to mechanical problems with their touring van. I missed the first local opener, Animas, but I did get there in time to see locals Yesterday’s Saints put on another good performance. They’re sort of a melodic death metal band with vocals that alternate between clean and harsh. Also, their drummer makes some of the funniest faces while he’s playing. They’ve got some really catchy songs they’ve been playing for a while but I’m definitely ready to hear their new studio material, it should be out soon I think. Battlecross is a thrash metal band from Detroit who has a lot of youthful energy on stage. They were pretty fun to watch, even with the crowd being pretty thin for this show they still put their all into their performance. You could tell these guys were having fun playing together. They’re signed to Metal Blade and I could see them on a tour in the future with some other up and coming thrash acts like Sylosis and Holy Grail.
As you have seen above, at this point I’d been to a lot of smaller shows and by the time Xmas rolled around I was ready for a bigger show. So on Wednesday, December 26th I went back to Washington DC’s U Street Corridor to see Clutch play at the 9:30 Club. The show was sold out but I got there early to be sure I could see the legendary Wino perform his solo set. Yep, that Wino, the guy who fronts Saint Vitus and has been in a ton of other important doom bands. This show was different though, just him with an acoustic guitar and a microphone. His solo stuff is nothing fancy but it is personal music that is often very heavy in subject matter. I really like his album Adrift and it was great to see him play some of those songs live. Dave Sherman, a local musician who was in Spirit Caravan with Wino came out and performed a song with him to end the set. The next band to play was Saviours, from Oakland, California. I didn’t like them at all and I found their music to be extremely generic. Each song seemed like a rip off of another greater band’s style. One song sounded like The Sword, one like Motörhead, one like Black Sabbath, and so on. The crowd seemed to like it though. The next band to play was Mondo Generator, a band led by Nick Oliveri who is most noted for playing bass in Queens Of The Stone Age and Kyuss. They were alright however like most of the spin-off bands from Kyuss, it makes you wish you were actually listening to Kyuss. The place was packed by the time Clutch hit the stage. This was the first show of the tour to support their upcoming album, Earthrocker. As such they came out of the gate fired up and the audience loved it. They played several songs from the upcoming album and they blended in to the set list (see it here) seamlessly with the older classics they played. I particularly enjoyed hearing the new song DC Sound Attack being played to a full house in DC. In all it was a great show and I’m hoping for a similar experience at their show in Baltimore with Orange Goblin in April.
The final metal show for me of 2012 was seeing Black Clouds and Warchild play at the Rock & Roll Hotel on H Street in Washington DC. Black Clouds played first, they’re a mostly instrumental three piece from DC. They’re an atmospheric and very dark band that is more rock than metal really. They have a cool light show setup and they’re the kind of band that sucks you in early keeps you entertained the whole show. Their final song has a recorded spoken word part that is read by Neil Fallon, frontman of Clutch, that ends up with him repeating “everything is not going to be ok” over and over like a broken record. Next up was DC’s wildest metal band, Warchild. These guys sound like Kill ‘Em All era Metallica and party harder than Municipal Waste. Their catchy riffs get the pit going early and their vocalist, Rory Sheridan, came out on stage in a full Santa costume. These guys can’t keep their clothes on though and soon enough the entire band was showing off their extensive tattoo work on their upper bodies. Santa had gifts for those in attendance and pulled people out of the audience to open individually gift wrapped beers that were immediately chugged on stage. Warchild is always a great band to see live and I don’t hesitate calling them the most fun of any local metal band to see live. I highly recommend going out of your way to see these guys play if you ever get the chance.
Well, that’s it for part one of my big ass recap of this winter’s metal concerts. Well, at least the ones I’ve been to. I hope you enjoyed reading this and I’m excited to get back into writing about all the great metal shows that happen in this area. Be sure to check back next week for a new ticket give away and hopefully part two of this winter concert recap series. Stay metal everyone and remember, support the scene that you’re a part of!