Saturday the 17th of November 2012 was a pretty metal night in the DC area. Two different venues had sold out metal shows that night: The Sword at the Rock & Roll Hotel and Lamb Of God at the Fillmore Silver Spring. While I’m sure they both would have been worth reviewing, I found myself at a Latino pool hall in Silver Spring for a tr00 and kvlt black metal show. There were four bands from outside of the area at this show, including the headliner, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, which came all the way from Germany to play in this dive.
Although El Caracol Bar has put on a few metal shows in the past this was my first time stepping foot in the venue. The pool tables had all been pushed out of the way and two of them were being used as tables for merch display. Throughout the night I found myself dodging the low hanging lights hovering above where the pool tables had been. The walls had several posters of women in bikinis advertising beer and various plaques for what appeared to be pool tournaments, an odd setting for a black metal show. There is a stage towards the front of the venue which had been built out of plywood and particle board. To keep the audience off the stage they put three metal poles across the front of it, one on each side and one centered, that were tethered with two plastic coated steel cables. However, the shoddy craftsmanship of the stage would be an issue later in the evening. I did order food at one point, and let me tell you it was very authentic and quite delicious. Their beer selection wasn’t anything to brag about. They don’t have any taps so everything is in cans or bottles. Their best beer was Guinness but most people were drinking quart sized Corona bottles. The place doesn’t seem to have any policy for cutting people off and there were some people that were dangerously drunk at the show. I’m not even talking about just shit faced, but people that had actually drank themselves into a stupor and could hardly stand, much less walk. I had one such drunk come up to me and explain he had come to the show looking for a fight. Then, in his alcohol infused haze, he began trying to trick me into arguing with him. Eventually a few of his friends pulled him away from my table but damn that was annoying. I did see the guy involved in several fights later in the night but he was never kicked out. Hell, other than the armed security guard outside the door checking IDs, there was no real security inside the venue. There is another black metal show that will be there on Saturday, December 15th (details here). It’s an all day “festival” headlined by Black Witchery. I doubt I’ll go though because spending the day avoiding fights and trying to protect my camera in the mosh pit at an event that will start serving booze when the doors open at noon with no cutting people off sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.
The first band to play was Damnatum, a new band from Queens in New York, although apparently some of the members are of Colombian descent. They had a goat skull on stage with a few candles burning. There wasn’t much stage lighting other than a blinking neon Miller Light sign on the wall by the stage, so the show was pretty dark. There was a fog machine too, but it wasn’t used too heavily. These guys were ok. They had a couple songs I liked but many that just seemed fairly typical for underground black metal. They played a long time, longer than was necessary, and when they ended at around 9:30pm I could tell this was going to be a long night. The next band to play was Nachzehrer. This Boston based band was a bit more thrashy than any of the other bands that played, but still very black metal. Their vocalist had a very energetic stage presence and was fun to watch. This was the first band the audience started “moshing” to. I use the term moshing very loosely because rather than do the typical mosh pit style of ramming into each other the audience, most of whom had a very low center of gravity, would shove each other as hard as they could with both hands, almost throwing each other. They would ricochet off of each other in the pit and go flying wildly into the audience or the barrier at the front of the stage. Not ideal for shooting photos in but it was pretty fun to watch. Their set was shorter than Damnatum’s and seemed to be a good length, stopping before it got overly repetitive. The next band to play was Agrath. They’re from New York City and feature a couple members of Negative Plane. Normally they’re a three piece band but they were playing with a second guitarist which made their total four. I’m not sure who that guy was but he did have a sticker for the racist NSBM band Absurd on his guitar, classy. Regardless, I still thought these guys had the best songs of the night (you can see their set list here). Their sound was certainly more professionally put together than the previous two bands and they had more variation in their songs than the headliner did. This was still raw, underground black metal but you could tell they had worked hard on polishing the songs and executing them live. They were also the first band to wear corpse paint on stage. I really enjoyed their show and the people in the pit seemed to agree with me.
Finally it was time for the headliner, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, to play. They all came out with elaborate corpse paint on and you could tell they were gearing up for a most unholy black metal spectacle. They had giant, black inverted crosses on stage near the drum kit, an ornate chalice full of (fake) blood, and tons of leather and spikes. Low lighting and a fog machine helped set the grim mood. Onielar, the band’s frontwoman/guitarist, has very long hair that hangs well past her waist. She emerged from the fog raising the chalice and holding upside down a Jesus nailed to the cross prop to start the show. The audience immediately went into a frenzy and began pushing each other so hard I felt like I was in a war zone up there trying to take pictures. Midway through the first song someone was pushed into the cables so hard it completely ripped out the support pole on the right of the stage, bolts and all. The cheap particle board the pole was bolted to was still attached at the base, the wood itself simply couldn’t take the stress and it broke. This resulted in a drunken member of the audience/mosh pit falling onto the stage on his back and the big speaker stack there actually fell over and landed right on him! Members of the sound crew quickly moved in to pick the equipment up, push the guy off stage and try to keep anyone else from falling onto the stage, with mixed results. The band wasn’t shaken and kept playing through all of the chaos. After the first song ended Onielar asked that the audience try to stay away from the stage so they could keep playing for them. Unsurprisingly, considering that all the earlier announcements to the audience from the stage had been in Spanish, the audience didn’t listen at all and as soon as the next song started they were just as violent as before in the pit. Luckily some of the people in the front row started locking arms and formed a wall for the rest of the show that kept most of the moshers at bay. Throughout all of this the band members had all been spitting (fake) blood on themselves and the audience, a ritual that continued for every song of their set. Their sound was pretty aggressive and cold, as is typical of most black metal of this nature. They didn’t have a lot of variation in songs though and after a while many of the songs started sounding the same. There were a few that stood out though and they seemed to be spaced in good places in the set (you can see their set list here). Right as the pit’s energy would start to die down they’d get the frenzy going again with a sick riff/blast beat combo. About midway through their set a few people started trickling in from the Lamb Of God show, which had already ended. Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult’s blasphemous set ended abruptly and the band walked off stage. As the fog cleared you could see a stage that had been left in ruin and covered in so much fake blood you might have thought an animal had been slaughtered there in some sort of Satanic ritual.
This show was definitely insane and pretty fucking fun to be at. It sucks I couldn’t be at the other two sold out shows that night, I can’t be everywhere at once, but I’m betting I was at the wildest show of the three. It’s pretty awesome that DC sold out two different metal shows this night and this third show was pretty well attended too. I didn’t shoot any video, it was far too dark in there for my camera to do that, but I did get some still photos of all four bands which you can see below. Also, thanks to everyone who came out to the Port City Brewery‘s second metal night the Friday night before this show. The place was packed and a total success so there should be another one coming up. It’s great to see so many people coming out to so many different metal events in this area. Keep it up everyone and continue to support the scene you’re a part of!
Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult: