Big Ass Recap Of Winter 2012 Concerts

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.

Primate:

Goatwhore:

High On Fire:

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.

Biipiigwan:

Sofy Major:

Midnight Eye:

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.

Hour Of Penance:

Misery Index:

Cannibal Corpse:

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.

Negative Plane:

Vomitor:

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.

Revocation:

The Faceless:

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.

Gradius:

Short Bus Pile Up:

Visceral Disgorge:

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.

Mailbomber:

Solid Giant:

Black Table:

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!

Royal Thunder:

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.

Battlecross:

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.

Wino:

Saviours:

Mondo Generator:

Clutch:

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.

Black Clouds:

Warchild:

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!

Corrections House Ticket Contest

Corrections House is something of an under the radar super group (more on that in the next paragraph) and they’re playing at DC9 on Thursday, January 24th! DCHeavyMetal.com is pretty stoked about this show and since we’re lucky enough to get one of their first live performances in our city we decided to make it even better and give away a pair of tickets to one of you lucky readers! To enter just leave a comment on this post telling me why you want to go. At 5pm EST on Wednesday, January 23rd I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. Be sure to enter using a valid email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any email lists or anything like that, I hate spam too. If you enter more than once then all of your entries will be disqualified. If you can’t go, aren’t sure if you can go, might get called in to work that night or anything else, then PLEASE DON’T ENTER! The winner is being picked the day before the show and I just don’t have enough time to try to contact another winner if you find out you can’t go and I want to make sure the winner is someone who will be there. If the contest is over when you read this or you simply can’t wait to find out if you win the contest you can buy tickets from Ticket Alternative for $10 here.

Corrections House is a new band with members from diverse backgrounds in the metal world. The band is make up of Scott Kelly of Neurosis fame, Mike IX Willaims from Eyehategod, Sanford Parker of Nachtmystium and Bruce Lamont of Yakuza. For this show they’ll all be doing solo sets spanning the realms of experimental, spoken word and acoustic performance art and it will end in a big jam where they all play together as Corrections House. I’m not really sure what to expect from this show but you can bet it will be interesting if nothing else. There’s a promo teaser clip below you can listen to for a sample of Corrections House. The opening act for this show will be DC’s own Tone. They’re an instrumental band that isn’t really metal but is really good and definitely worth getting there early enough to see play. Now check out these videos and enter the contest below. Good luck!

Corrections House:

Tone:

One Inch Giant at DC9

Last night I saw the Gothenburg, Sweden based stoner band One Inch Giant perform in Washington DC at DC9 between two great local acts, Borracho and Auroboros. The turn out wasn’t great but the bands still all put on solid performances. Borracho and One Inch Giant are both heading up to the Stoner Hands Of Doom festival this weekend in Connecticut and this was one of their warm up shows as they hit the road for the big fest. Borracho’s vocalist, Noah Greenberg, is out of the area for a while but they’ve still been playing as a three piece and their set is mostly instrumental, but I love instrumental bands so that’s not a bad thing to me. Plus their killer riffs are what you should be focused on anyways! One Inch Giant was fun, their singer even did a motorcycle dance during one tune and their bass player had a Suffocation shirt on. Not something you usually see guys in stoner bands wearing but that was pretty sick. I’ll keep this post short but you can check out my photos from last night below. You might recognize the first band, Auroboros, from my last post as they played with Hull last weekend as well. Now check out these shots and get out to some metal shows to support the scene you’re a part of!

Auroboros:

Auroboros at DC9

Jake Smith of Auroboros at DC9

Auroboros at DC9

Brian Blickle of Auroboros at DC9

One Inch Giant:

Filip Åstrand of One Inch Giant at DC9

One Inch Giant at DC9

Filip Åstrand of One Inch Giant at DC9

Filip Åstrand of One Inch Giant at DC9

Filip Åstrand of One Inch Giant at DC9

Gabriel Lugo Méndez of One Inch Giant at DC9

Gabriel Lugo Méndez of One Inch Giant at DC9

Filip Åstrand of One Inch Giant at DC9

Axel Berglund of One Inch Giant at DC9

Axel Berglund of One Inch Giant at DC9

Gabriel Ek of One Inch Giant at DC9

Gabriel Ek of One Inch Giant at DC9

Borracho:

Tim Martin of Borracho at DC9

Steve Fisher of Borracho at DC9

Steve Fisher of Borracho at DC9

Mario Trubiano of Borracho at DC9

Borracho at DC9

Updates And Concert Photos

Sometimes it seems like I run a shit load of contests on here and not much else. While I’m constantly working on updating the Upcoming Metal Concert Calendar the actual written posts haven’t been coming up as much lately. I have plenty of excuses like car trouble and getting sick and march madness, but I have gotten so far behind on some things that it is a bit ridiculous. I just recently finished going through all my concert pics from January, and I’ll post some of them below with a few notes about the shows they were at. You can of course click those images to see more of those bands. There are still more contests coming up soon. I love giving away free concert tickets and other stuff to the readers of the site and I hope I can continue to do so for a long time. There have been a lot of great performances by some of the area’s local acts this year and a few have even put out some high quality music videos. I did a post on that in February that you can read here though now there is another to add to the list, the below video for A Sound Of Thunder‘s song Murderous Horde. They’re having their CD release show this Saturday at Empire (formerly Jaxx).

This Sunday, April 1st (no joke!) a local black metal band, Fuchida, will be performing live for the first time at the Black Cat of all places. The venue is mostly known for appealing to the indie rock and alternative scene and I’m hoping there is a good turn out for this show so maybe they’ll consider hosting more extreme metal bands. You might be thinking that there are already places for local metal bands to play live in this area but how many of them aren’t pay-to-play? This is a local metal act headlining a show at an area venue that doesn’t make them sell tickets or sign a contract that involves them giving the venue money. We should be supporting that, even if we don’t know what the band sounds like yet.

The following Sunday, April 8th, there is another venue in Washington DC that will be hosting a metal show that doesn’t usually have them. The U Street Music Hall is normally home to dance and techno music (sort of filling the void left when Nation closed). They’re hosting their first metal show on this Sunday night, the old school UK thrashers Onslaught and a band you may not recognize by name, Mpire Of Evil, that features two ex-members of the legendary Venom. Not only that but they even play some Venom songs in their set list (details of their first show on this US tour here). The venue is said to have a great sound system (you just know those electronica DJ guys are good at setting up speakers) and it isn’t very often you get to see 80s thrash metal in a club with a great sound system set up. And really, when are you going to get to hear live Venom classics sound better than this? One of the venue’s owners even posted to Twitter (here) that he’d like to see more metal shows at the U Street Music Hall so I hope a good amount of you come out to show it is worth it! To make this all even sweeter, DCHeavyMetal.com will be giving away a pair of tickets to this show next week, so keep an eye out for that.

Another thing I’d like to mention is that this month, March 2012, has been DCHeavyMetal.com’s best month ever in regards to total hits. You people who read this site, even if it’s just for the calendar, who spread the word to your friends, passed along the link of Facebook and Twitter, or even just stumbled upon it with Google, have made it worth all the work and time it takes me to run it. I don’t really make any money doing this (I do sell a few shirts here and there) and I refuse to put any paid ads on the site so if you’d like to donate a few bucks to the site you can send money via Paypal to the email address: DCHeavyMetal@Gmail.com Any donation is appreciated of course and will be put towards either making the site better or paying my way to get into more metal shows. Now, on to the photos…

Jucifer
I saw Jucifer back on Friday the 20th of January 2012 at the Black Cat and as always they put on a great show. This husband and wife duo truely live the lifestyle as they tour the country in their RV bringing their brand of sludge metal from city to city 12 months a year. And if you couldn’t tell from the mountain of speakers in this photo, they take the wall of sound thing quite literally. Be sure to see them next time they come through the area and bring ear plugs!

King Giant
The next night, Saturday the 21st of January was a big night for Northern Virginia’s metal scene. One of the area’s biggest bands, King Giant, was having their CD release show for their sophomore album, Dismal Hollow. On top of that, this was the grand re-opening show for Empire, the new name of the venue formerly known as Jaxx. Not my best night of shooting photos but I mean, with a line up of Auroboros, The Crimson Electric, Borracho and King Giant, it would have just been wrong for me to not be drinking beer and whiskey all night. I shot a couple videos that night including the one below of King Giant playing Pistols And Penance off of the album. I also added a photo below showing some of the interior changes they have made at the venue if you haven’t seen them yet.
Empire (formerly Jaxx)

Hail!Hornet
Tuesday the 7th of February found me at the Black Cat again, this time to see southern sludge metal band Hail!Hornet play on the back stage. There was a showing of the film Slow Southern Steel at the beginning of the show, a movie about heavy metal in the American south, but I missed that. The Atlanta, Georgia based psychedelic sludge band Zoroaster played after they did with a really trippy light show, and finally Hail!Hornet took the stage and killed it. They’re a band featuring members of Buzzov•en, Alabama Thunderpussy and Sourvein so you knew they were going to bring some great filthy sludge metal and they didn’t disappoint.

Windhand

Now I’ve got to skip a few bands because I simply haven’t gotten to sorting all of their photos yet. The above image is of Dorthea Cottrell of the Richmond based doom band Windhand when they played at St. Stephen’s Church in Columbia Heights on Saturday, March 3rd. I won’t write much about that show here because I did a review of it covering all four bands who played it here.

Warbringer

On Tuesday March 13th I found myself at the 9:30 Club to see California thrash act Warbringer and Floridian power metal band Iced Earth. I had been given a photo pass for that show, though for some reason it was only valid for Warbringer’s set. To add to my frustration I was feeling sick and while it was cool too see Warbringer play on a bigger stage, I just wasn’t up for Iced Earth by the time they played. When Iced Earth’s new singer, Stu Block of Into Eternity fame, started making juvenile sexist comments about giving the shocker to the women in the audience I decided I’d had enough and took my infected self home.

Alcest
I’m skipping over talking about an excellent Dysrhythmia show I saw in Baltimore here but I wanted to mention last night’s Alcest show at DC9. They put on a excellent performance of a set list made up of mostly their new album’s material. It did go on a bit long I thought, but it was still a pretty great experience. The lighting was pretty dim though making it hard to take photos, and the fog machine was jacked up the entire show making it even harder to get any great shots. Because of this I decided to make some animated gif images from some of my series of shots. I did see Alcest open for Enslaved in September last year so you can see some higher quality images of the band I shot by clicking the gif if you’d like.

Well, that’s all for now, thanks for reading DCHeavyMetal.com and if you’d like more updates on things like when local bands are making announcements or area venues and media have things to say about metal be sure to check out DCHM on Facebook and Twitter (your choice, I post most things to both). Keep it metal everyone and remember, support the scene you’re a part of!

Alcest ticket give away

Listen up folks, there’s a new ticket contest on DCHeavyMetal.com! This time you can win a free pair of tickets to see the French shoegaze/black metal band Alcest play at DC9 on Thursday 29 March 2012. To enter just leave a comment on this post telling me why you are excited to see this show. At 5pm EST on Tuesday the 27th of March a winner will be picked at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. Make sure you enter in a valid email address you check regularly when you submit your comment so I can contact you if you win, though it doesn’t need to be in the comment itself. Don’t be a jerk and enter multiple times or I’ll disqualify all of your entries. And please don’t enter if you can’t make it to the show. If you don’t want to wait to see if you win or this contest is already over when you read it, you can get tickets from Ticket Alternative here for $12.

Alcest at Jaxx

Alcest is probably the most famous of the bands who have started meshing black metal with the atmosphere of shoegaze and when I saw them open for Enslaved at Jaxx last September I was very impressed with their performance. They just put out an excellent new album, Les Voyages de l’Âme, in January so this set should feature some of that new material including the song you can hear in the video at the end of this post. The supporting act on this tour, deafheaven, fits perfectly on this tour since they play a similar style of music, though they are based out of San Francisco. There are two local support bands playing as well. One is Black Clouds, which, from the one song they have on their Facebook page, sounds like a pretty straight up shoegaze band. And the local act that will be opening the show is Auroboros, one of the DC area’s best up and coming metal bands. They’re not atmospheric like the other bands on this line up but they’re really great live and you’d be stupid to miss getting to this show early enough to see these guys. All around, this is a great show coming to one of the smaller venues in the city, DC9, at 1940 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 which is located about a block away from the 9:30 Club. Now check out this latest video by Alcest and enter the contest!

Reviews of three Swedish concerts in one week

So this past week I saw three Swedish bands headline concerts in a row. I saw In Flames play on Saturday 14 January 2012, Graveyard play on Monday the 16th and Ghost play on Thursday the 19th. This was total coincidence as these bands aren’t label mates or anything like that, they just all happened to hit the area at once. So which of these bands kicked the most ass during this mini-Swedish invasion? Read on and you’ll find out.

Saturday the 14th saw me heading up to Baltimore for the first big metal show of the year in this area, In Flames playing at Rams Head Live! In Flames is probably the most famous of the Gothenburg, Sweden based melodic death metal bands from the 90s (other acts include At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity, among others). In Flames is also sort of like Metallica in that their first few albums grabbed them a devoted fan base that was then completely turned off to the band when they changed their sound and found commercial success. Their 2002 release Reroute To Remain is akin to Metallica’s self-titled album (or the “black album” as most people call it) in that it greatly expanded their fan base but completely alienated most older fans with the simplified songs and flashy production. The band has been very successful though, and the reason they are playing Rams Head Live instead of smaller venues like Sonar or Empire (formerly Jaxx) is due to that change in sound. In 2010 the band’s founder, Jesper Strömblad, left In Flames which now has no original members. This didn’t deter them as the summer of 2011 saw them release their first album without Jesper, Sounds Of A Playground Fading, the album which this tour was promoting.

The audience at the show was a bit rowdy; they are the kind of band that draws metal heads as well as non-metal heads to see them. This often means that some people in attendance see the show as “the rare concert I go to that I can get crazy at cause it’s a metal show” which is cool to a certain extent but I wasn’t loving that as In Flames started their first song, Sounds Of A Playground Fading, and I was hit in the back of the head with a drink someone had thrown from the balcony. Got my camera wet and if I wasn’t so focused on getting some decent shots of the band I’d have been much more pissed about that. I saw drinks being thrown throughout the show, so it wasn’t just me either. Anyways, their set list was heavy on material from the new album, the first three songs were the first three tracks off of it. People who are fans of only their pre-Reroute To Remain material didn’t miss much, the only songs they played from before that were Swim from Clayman and The Hive from Whoracle (I shot video of them playing both of these songs, as well as The Quiet Place, that you can watch at the end of this post). I’ve also posted a photo of the entire set list here. The sound mix at the venue wasn’t great. The volume was very low for a metal show and the bass seemed to drown out a lot. It’s like the guy mixing it thought all metal bands want to sound like Korn or something, haha. Seriously though, the guitars, and particularly the keyboards, were hard to pick out of the mix at times because the bass drown them out. The stage lighting was really awesome though! The band was heavily backlit with lots of big lights and enshrouded in a lot of fog which had a cool looking effect. The band’s performance was alright. Nothing too wild or phenomenal really but not bad. Vocalist Anders Fridén made sure to high five and fist bump most of the crowd surfers though he does this thing where he bends over and screams into the mic like ten times per song. It was fine at first but after a while you’re sort of thinking, c’mon man get another move or two. Between two songs he made a comment about how it is hard making money on music sales now and he was glad so many people came out to the show to support the band. The band did well and seemed to enjoy performing, and the new guitarist, Niclas Engelin, especially had a lot of energy up there almost like he was trying to be sure he won fans over to his replacement of Jesper. I sure think he did! They ended their set with Take This Life and they did not play an encore. Overall it was a decent show, for fans of the modern In Flames at least. Old school fans who are bitter would not have liked much about the show but that isn’t really a surprise. You got what you thought you were getting at this show, there were no big surprises, and that seemed to be good enough for most people in attendance.

Two nights later I found myself at DC9 to see the Swedish rock band Graveyard play. Between songs they said the show was sold out though I’m not sure if that’s true or not. It was pretty crowded so it might have been. The opening act was supposed to be Daniel Davies, the son of Dave Davies who is famous for being in the Kinks, but he canceled at the last minute and was replaced by a band called Black Cowgirl. I didn’t get to the show in time to see them though, but I did catch some of the set by the other support band, Radio Moscow. They were a bluesy rock band with some interesting guitar work. Just a few days prior a video went around on the internet (here) of the guitar player and vocalist, Parker Griggs, throwing his guitar into the drum kit in the middle of a song. The drummer got up and threw the guitar right back at Parker and it hit him in the face so hard he needed stitches. This was on the same tour that was in DC this night, and while both the drummer and bass player had been quickly replaced, you could still easily see the cut on Parker’s forehead. Their set wasn’t bad, a good opening act really. There was a delay at one point in their set when one of the amps blew. It took several minutes to find another one and get it up on the stage. They played some more afterwards though and while I enjoyed them I was ready for the headliner.

Graveyard, also from Gothenburg but not related to the melodic death metal scene there, is a throwback hard rock/metal band that sounds right out of the 70s, however they’re a newer band and have only put out two albums. In the spring of 2011 their sophomore album, Hisingen Blues, was released to much critical acclaim in the underground music press. Honestly it took me a few listens to really get into it, but it grew on me and I was excited that they were finally coming to the States to support the album. I’m glad I gave the album an extra chance because seeing these songs played live was simply awesome! The band was really on point this night and put on a great show. If you were there that night you didn’t just see a good band play some good songs, you got a rare chance to see a good band really coming into their own as they hit their stride. They stepped up to the plate and really hit it out of the park, even with Joakim Nilsson having problems with the strings on his guitars. He swapped them out quickly and didn’t take much away from the set by doing so. Since the band only has two albums they played most of both of them. As most tight bands do, they played their songs with quicker tempos even faster live really tearing through songs like Buying Truth and RSS. That’s not to say their slower songs didn’t stand out as well. Their performance on Uncomfortably Numb, a personal favorite of mine, was executed perfectly coming across with a lot of power for such a personal song in a room of so many people. Satan’s Finest also sounded great and got quite a reaction from the audience. Graveyard stopped at the end of their set but the crowd didn’t budge so they played a three song encore, finally ending their 80 minute set with the song Hisingen Blues. I’m sure there will be more good things coming from these guys and I’m betting they will be playing a larger venue next time they play the area. They’d be great on a tour with someone like The Sword. This was simply a great show and one of the best I’ve been to lately. It was a hell of a way to spend a Monday night!

Three days after Graveyard played it was time to head to the Rock & Roll Hotel to see Ghost, from Linköping, Sweden, play there on Thursday the 19th of January 2012. This show was definitely sold out as they had a big sign on the door saying so. The band was not allowing any cameras to be used, not even on phones, which, as a photographer, I find to be really annoying. There was a bit of a snafu with the label getting me my photo pass and while some of the venue’s staff knew I was OK’d to shoot there some of them didn’t and they told me part way thru to stop shooting, even though they let me in with my big camera. Whatever, miscommunication happens sometimes and I did still get a shot that I liked. I arrived in the middle of the set by one of the openers, Blood Ceremony. They’re a female fronted doom band from Toronto that some people were really getting into at the show. Vocalist Alia O’Brien busted out a flute during some songs and really it just wasn’t my thing, though I was never a Jethro Tull fan and they were definitely a big influence on Blood Ceremony. Ghost hit the stage around 10:30pm, which seemed a bit early to me for a show in DC. The band of course came out in full costumes including masks hiding their faces. Their main gimmick is that nobody really knows who is in the band Ghost as they always hide their identities and mask their voices in interviews. The lead vocalist, who goes by Papa Emeritus, comes out on stage wearing a mask with skull face paint and an elaborate evil cardinal costume. It’s all a bit over the top but whatever, they have some catchy tunes that are a bit of a throwback to old psychedelic bands and definitely Mercyful Fate as well. However even on the record Papa’s vocals are not nearly as high pitched as King Diamond. This night was no exception either, Papa was not hitting his high notes, he wasn’t even trying to. Instead he’d just replace them with a similar, but lower pitch, note which leads me to believe he was either sick or his voice wasn’t doing so well singing every night on tour. I had seen Ghost perform at Maryland Deathfest back in May and he was hitting his notes then, so I know he can do it. I guess this just wasn’t his night. The sound mix at the venue didn’t help much either, the keyboards were non-existent in the mix throughout most of the set and the vocals needed to be turned up several times as well. I could see one of the roadies giving signals to the guy at the sound board (I was standing in the part of the crowd directly between them) and they were having a lot of communication problems as well. At one point you jarringly heard the keyboards get pushed up to the mix way too high, it was almost like they didn’t sound check before the show and were just trying to figure it out as the show went on. Ghost stuck it out and instead of throwing a tantrum on stage they kept playing. They only have one album out so they don’t have a lot of material. They did perform their haunting rendition of Here Comes The Sun by the Beatles, a Japanese bonus track that they did not play at Deathfest. Towards the end of their set the sound did get better. Their closing song, Ritual, sounded pretty good actually, aside from Papa’s weak vocals. Luckily Ghost is the kind of band people love to sing along with and it helped cover some of the faults with his voice. Also, during the same song they brought out communion wafers and I guess wine or something and maybe five or so people in the front row ate them from Papa Emeritus’ hands. That was pretty corny and not as awesome as when Lord Worm would feed people live worms from the stage during Cryptopsy shows. Anyways, I was hoping Ghost might play some new material as I have heard the band has been working on a second album before they started this short 13 date tour. They didn’t play anything new and the set only lasted about 45 minutes, intros and all. That was rather short for a headlining band and left me feeling like it was a bit of a cash grab but what can ya do, they ran out of songs. The venue kept the lights down for a minute or two then suddenly turned them back on with house music over the speakers to end the night in a rather anticlimactic way. This show could have been a lot better, and the no photo policy forcing the venue’s bouncers to constantly be pushing through the sold out crowd, jarring your attention to let them pass every time you started to actually get lost in the show, didn’t help at all. They will be opening on a tour with Opeth and Mastodon in May that will hopefully come through this area and I really hope they put on the kind of performance I know they are capable of then. The metal fans in DC deserve it!

Well, that’s the three Swedish concerts I saw last week. Graveyard was certainly my favorite performance of the three Swedish bands but I’m glad I got to see all three of them play. Thanks for reading another long concert review post. As always you can see more of my concert photography on my Flickr page here or you can jump to the set of In Flames pics here or Graveyard pics here. Now check out the three videos of In Flames that I posted below. I didn’t shoot video at the other shows because the lighting was too poor, well that and Ghost had that crazy photo policy so I wasn’t going to push it. Stay metal DC and go out to a heavy concert!

Ghost and Graveyard ticket give aways

Ghost and Graveyard isn’t some crappy Dungeons & Dragons knock off, they’re the names of two awesome Swedish bands that are coming to DC next week! Graveyard is playing DC9 on Monday the 16th of January and Ghost is playing the Rock & Roll Hotel on Thursday the 19th of January. To celebrate this mini Swedish invasion DCHeavyMetal.com is giving away a pair of tickets to each concert! All you have to do to win is leave a comment at the bottom of this post naming which band you’d like to see most. You can choose both bands if you’d like, however you can only win a pair of tickets to one of them. At 5pm EST this Saturday, the 14th of January I’ll pick two winners, one for each concert, at random using Random.org. The winners will each get a free pair of tickets to the concert they chose. Be sure you use a valid email address you check regularly when you enter so I can contact you when you win, however the address does not need to be in the post itself. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any annoying email lists to spam you. Please note that the Graveyard show is ages 18+ only so if you are under 18 please don’t enter for that show because winning tickets here still won’t get you in the door. If you didn’t win or simply don’t want to wait, you can buy tickets to see Graveyard for $10 each here or to see Ghost for $15 each here. Both bands have a sort of throwback sound to their music, and they both kick ass, so I couldn’t hold a contest for just one of them! Keep reading for more info on both of these great concerts and remember you can click any of the band names and it will link to a site that streams their music so you can check them out.

Graveyard has caused quite a buzz in the underground rock world with their second album, Hisingen Blues. The album came out in the spring of 2011 but this is their first US tour supporting it. It’s full of catchy riffs and hooks and it should be pretty awesome getting to see some of these songs played live. They are also playing with Radio Moscow, a psychedelic blues band from Iowa and Daniel Davies who is the son of Dave Davies of the Kinks. This is his solo band but he has also been a member of Year Long Desaster and Karma To Burn. If you’re still not convinced to see this show, check out this video to hear the title track off of Graveyard’s second album:

Ghost is a mysterious band that took the underground metal world by storm when they released their first album, Opus Eponymous, in early 2011. They have a clean vocal delivery, something between Blue Oyster Cult and King Diamond, and they play a fairly simple, yet very catchy, style of music. The band members have never made public their true identities and always wear masks on stage with their singer, Papa Emeritus, in a full on evil pope costume. They are said to be working on a new album so maybe we’ll be lucky enough to hear some new material at this show. Ghost has only ever played two concerts in the US before this tour, one of which was their performance last year at Maryland Deathfest, and they had to drop off a tour with Enslaved and Alcest that came to Jaxx in September due to visa issues. Now they’re headlining this US tour and they’ve brought two good bands with them. Blood Ceremony is Toronto based doom band with a female vocalist who also plays flute in the band. The opening act is Ancient VVisdom (the W is really two letter V’s) from Austin, Texas and they play a very dark style of rock. Listen to the Ghost song Ritual if you haven’t heard them before (or even if you have!):