On Tuesday the 9th of August 2011 there were several metal shows all around the area, quite odd for a random Tuesday. Queensrÿche was playing the 9:30 Club, Emmure was headlining a 14 band concert for the All Stars Tour‘s Baltimore stop at Sonar, and there was also a rare metal showcase at Jammin Java featuring local acts Iris Divine, A Sound Of Thunder and Timelord. However, I skipped all of those and decided to head up to the Ottobar in Baltimore to see Proclamation, a black metal band from Spain. I wasn’t too familiar with them but I figured this will probably be my only chance to see them play live and I’m not one to turn down seeing an obscure black metal band perform live. There weren’t a lot of people at this show though, maybe around 50 by the time the headliner was playing. The bands didn’t seem to mind and played very well regardless.
I get out of work kind of late in the summer and getting to shows in Baltimore on weekdays usually means I’m going to have to miss an opener or two, and this night was no different. I knew I’d probably miss the local opening act, Extermination Angel, but the other three bands on the bill were all touring bands. The first of those scheduled to play was Thantifaxath, a black metal band from Toronto. Apparently they were held up at the border and not allowed to enter the US (something to do with goat heads in their belongings I heard) so they weren’t on the bill. Instead excellent local Baltimore doom act Oak played. I got there just as they were finishing though, which kind of sucks because they’re really good but I’ve seen them before so I wasn’t that upset. When I arrived the door price had been lowered to $15 (even though the Ottobar website listed the show at $18 and said it would increase the day of). A nice surprise though they should have mentioned this and the line up change on their website. The next band up also has quite a mouthful for a name, Abazagorath, who are a black metal band from New Jersey. I’d never heard of them before but they put on a decent show. My main problem with them was their vocalist, a guy who goes by the stage name Nihilist. He seemed to spend half his time on stage hanging out back by the drummer, often not even looking forward at the audience. The vocalist didn’t have a great voice for black metal either, and I saw him reading lyric sheets he had placed on the stage during several of their songs. They were playing some new material for the first time during the set so perhaps that’s something of an excuse but it still isn’t something I expect from a touring band. The guy just seemed unprofessional and hell even the bass player had better stage presence than he did, the guy was decked out in spikes and leather. Regardless, this is black metal and the vocals aren’t the most important part of a band’s sound in this genre. The rest of the band was pretty good and they had some decent songs that got a mosh pit going for a while. There wasn’t a lot of variation in their songs but their sound was good enough that it wasn’t a bad thing really. One of the guitarists was playing an eight string guitar which is kind of weird for a black metal band and seemed a bit unnecessary. I wouldn’t have gone to just see them but they were a good support act on a black metal tour like this.
Next up was the headliner, Proclamation from Madrid, Spain. They’re a three piece black metal band and as far as I can tell this was their first US tour and this was the final stop on said tour. I hadn’t ever heard of them when this tour was announced and I checked out a few of their songs online leading up to the gig but they didn’t seem to stand out that much to me. I found them much more entertaining live I must say. Their songs weren’t overly long, they didn’t try to be ultra dramatic and epic, and their vocalist knew all the words (even while playing guitar). They were just straight up, pissed off Satanic black metal and they were pretty good at it. The band’s drummer really punched it the entire night, the guy just didn’t slow down! He was quick and really kept the pace and energy levels high for their entire set. On top of the relentless drumming, Proclamation had some great guitar riffs in there too. Several songs built up brutal momentum very well and their assault on the ears was quite an energy boost on this Tuesday night. There were no big surprises in their sound but they had just enough variation to keep their songs interesting and I can’t say I was bored at any point during their set. They all came out with sort of corpse paint on, they had black make up on their eyes but no white face paint underneath. They all had necklaces on with various things hanging off of them, bones and upside down crosses and the like. They played 15 songs and they all drank from their beer bottles almost in unison immediately after each song ended. They didn’t really address the audience between songs, other than to bark out the next song’s title. They played a Sarcófago cover and that seemed to please the largely Latin American crown. Otherwise Proclamation kept it straight forward, heavy and blasphemous. No frills and no big surprises but certainly high intensity throughout their set. They did not perform an encore after their set, even though the audience wanted one.
I’m glad I decided to check Proclamation out. The show was worth the drive to Baltimore, even on a week night. I’m going to have to go back and give their studio material a few more listens because I really enjoyed them live. Proclamation won’t change your opinion of the black metal sub genre nor blow your mind, but if you’re into black metal I recommend seeing them if you ever get the chance. As usual I posted photos of both Proclamation and Abazagorath (click their respective names to see them) and I posted some videos from the show below as well. The videos are all pretty dark but you should at least be able to hear the bands alright. I really need to get a new video camera but I don’t see that in my financial forecast any time in the foreseeable future. Feel free to donate one to me, ya know, for Satan or something.