Another Mega Sized Concert Recap

Well, I haven’t posted any concert reviews lately, but as usual I’ve still been going to lots of concerts. Things have slowed down a bit here in late December concert wise but this is normal since bands don’t usually like touring during the holidays. I’ve been to some great shows since my first mega sized concert recap. I’ve set each show as a separate paragraph so if you don’t care about a particular gig you can easily skip to the next one. And of course all the band names will link you to a place you can stream that band’s music. Click on any picture to see more of my photos of that band as well. Now, on to the awesomeness that is going to see metal shows in the DC area.

On Saturday the 12th of November 2011 I headed out to the Velvet Lounge on U Street in the District. Warchild was headlining a show and I had heard they were good live, though I hadn’t gotten a chance to see them yet. I got there right when their set was starting and the upstairs of the Velvet Lounge was absolutely packed! I’ve never seen it that full before and it’s cool so many people came out to see a local metal band play there. Warchild is a thrash metal act who likes to party hard. Everyone in the band was shirtless and sporting lots of tattoos. The vocalist, also from the 80s throwback rock band Rattler, told everyone in attendance to not hold back and stage dive and crowd surf as much as they wanted. The audience complied and people were even hanging from the fan in the middle of the room, just going nuts. They brought some people on stage to pound beers in a beer bong and even had two guys race to see who could smash the a can of beer open on their head and then drink it the fastest. And you thought Municipal Waste was a party thrash band, this show was crazy. They played a solid thrash set and ended it with a kick ass cover, with plenty of crowd participation, of Metallica‘s old school classic The Four Horsemen. Such a great show, I can’t wait to see them live again. Highly recommended!
Warchild

Beer Eating Contest

The following Thursday, the 18th of November, I went to the Black Cat in Washington DC to see Fu Manchu play. The opening act was the Austin, Texas based three piece Honky. Somewhere between hellbilly and stoner, they were a pretty solid opener. Their bass player is JD Pinkus who is better known for having played in the Butthole Surfers. They had some hilarious song titles and subjects, which you’d expect more from a humorous grind band. My favorite was their song about masturbating at work called Gittin’ It. They were fun and obviously didn’t take themselves too seriously and they made for a good opener for Fu Manchu. On the final song of Honky’s set Fu Manchu guitar player Bob Balch came out to play a tune with the band. Fu Manchu is one of the main influences in stoner rock and metal, and most of their songs deal with modes of transportation like souped up cars and skateboarding. They had played the upstairs main stage at the Black Cat in September of 2010 but this concert was in the smaller back stage downstairs. The place was pretty crowded when Fu Manchu hit the stage, but the crowd wasn’t too rowdy. They started the set off with a few of their 90s classics before launching into this tour’s main draw, performing their entire 1996 album In Search Of… straight through. They walked off stage for the encore thing and came back to play a couple more songs, finally ending the set with King Of The Road which was still stuck in my head as I drove home. King of the road says you move too slow!
Honky with Bob Balch

Scott Hill of Fu Manchu

On Tuesday the 29th of November I found myself at the Cellar Door in Annandale, Virginia to see the Chapel Hill, North Carolina based band Black Skies play. There were four bands playing that night but I only caught two of them. The first band that I saw was Admiral Browning, a Frederick, Maryland band that was formerly an instrumental band with four members. To my surprise, at this show they had vocals and only three members. A bit of a change, and although I have a fondness for instrumental metal bands, the vocals fit in to place with the rest of the music. They were entertaining but the main reason I came to this show was to see Black Skies again. I saw them play back in September and they blew me away. This show was no less exciting. Even in the tight basement of the Cellar Door they just burst with energy. They’re the only band I’ve seen someone play a guitar solo with their teeth in a basement, and I’ve seen them do it twice now! I ended up buying a poster and it came with a free download of their debut album, On The Wings Of Time. This is a band worth checking out and I can’t wait to see them play in the area again.
Admiral Browning

Michelle Temple of Black Skies

Skip ahead to Sunday the 11th of December and I was at Jaxx to see the notorious Norwegian black metal band Mayhem again. I had seen them on the first show of their tour in Baltimore on November 2nd, but now they were back in the area playing the final show of their tour. The set list was the same as the first show, however vocalist Attila Csihar had a different costume on (he is known for having a wide range of stage costumes). This time he did not have any fake blood, and he held a skull in his left hand for the entire set. The audience seemed much more dead than the crazy pits that happened in Baltimore a month before, and the band didn’t seem to get into the show as much either. Being the final show of the tour they were probably a bit worn out. The audio mix at Jaxx wasn’t as good either. Overall I wouldn’t say the show was bad, it just wasn’t great, and the Baltimore show definitely felt more like a real Mayhem show. The fog machine was on thick all night though, and camera conditions weren’t optimal, however I still got a few decent shots and Mayhem even posted one of my photos from this show on their Facebook wall.

Mayhem

The following Thursday, the 15th of December, I found myself at the Black Cat once again, this time to see the killer line up of The Body, Zoroaster and Black Cobra. The first band to play was The Body, a two man doom band from Rhode Island (though I hear they are relocating). They set their gear up in the middle of the flood of the Black Cat’s back stage area and just played there on the ground, with the audience around them. They were very loud, a theme that would recur throughout the night. After they played Zoroaster took the stage. They’re a psychedelic sludge metal band from Atlanta, Georgia. They have a really trippy vibe while being heavy as well. They had a bunch of lasers shooting around not just the stage but the entire room and it looked pretty cool. Midway through my favorite song of theirs, Odyssey, the power abruptly cut out and the lights came back on for a few minutes before the band finished their set. Then came the headliner, Los Angeles, California based Black Cobra. They’re a sludge metal duo and their latest album, Invernal, is heavy as all hell. They ended up playing every song off of it, though not in order, as well as some of their older songs mixed in. A truly crushing set, it’s amazing how much heavy just two people can make. Take note all you folk bands with like a dozen members, these three bands on this tour had just seven total members between them, and they kicked major ass. Sometimes less really is more.
The Body

Zoroaster

Black Cobra

The next night, Friday the 16th of December, I went to the Velvet Lounge to catch a show I spent a good deal of effort promoting here on DCHM. Borracho was headlining an album release show, the official launch of their LP Splitting Sky. However, there were other bands who played before them. First was a band from Glen Echo, Maryland called Rezin. The guys seemed nice and all but I have to say they weren’t very good. Most of the crowd who had assembled had left by the time their set was over, and honestly I can’t really blame them. The band was very monotonous and they just didn’t do it for me, or apparently that many other in attendance. They didn’t seem to fit with the two other acts on this bill either. However, the next band to play, Kingsnake from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was simply outstanding on stage. They played a style of stoner that was almost southern, though rather dark as well. They had fine tuned their songs and obviously put a lot of effort into practicing them as well. It was a great performance by a band I didn’t really know anything about going in. After they played I got up on stage and swore at the audience about giving out free shit, and then Borracho started their set. The guys were on point this night, really putting on a great show. I’ve seen them a few times this year and this was definitely my favorite of their performances. Before I’d always seen them open for someone so it was great getting to see them play a full length set live for once. Also, it was a good turn out for the second metal show in a row at the Velvet Lounge, which is awesome. Hopefully they’ll continue to let us metal heads take over their spot on U Street more often on the weekends.
Rezin

Kingsnake

Borracho

On Saturday the 17th of December I went to my third metal show in as many days, this time to see locals Ilsa and Midnight Eye play with two Harrisonburg, Virginia bands, Earthling and Orthrus. They were playing at a small Ethiopian bar, named Asefu’s, that is just a few doors down from DC9 and the U Street corridor. I got there as Midnight Eye was setting up though I really only saw their first song. However, it was a brand new song and it was pretty sweet! I went a few doors down to eat dinner (I was starving) and came back while Orthrus was playing. The thin venue was packed and so I watched the show from the doorway and didn’t take any pictures (the band wasn’t facing my direction anyways). Regardless, they were pretty awesome. They play a sort of catchy black/thrash with death metal style deep vocals. Next up was Earthling, a band I had seen before at the now defunct Corpse Fortress back in March. They were just as fun to see live and I had forgotten how catchy I their tunes are. The final band of the night was DC’s own masters of doom/death metal, Ilsa. They have a dirty and crushing sound, very raw and primal and yet still very listenable. Some of their songs slow almost to a halt but the intensity never wanes. Ilsa is always fun to see live and this show was no different. However, at the end of their set they also played a new song for the first time, titled Man Made Monsters. Lucky for you who missed it, I’ve posted video of both Midnight Eye’s new song and Ilsa’s new song below. You might not be able to see much but you can at least hear them well enough.
Earthling

Ilsa

Well that wraps up another mega sized concert recap. I have a couple more shows to see before the year is done. You might be wondering why I didn’t cover the Mastodon show at the 9:30 Club in late November, and that’s because I’m not a Mastodon fan. I wanted to see Obscura and Abysmal Dawn play on December 7th but the weather was horrible that night and I didn’t want to drive to Baltimore in it as I knew traffic would be bad (Kyuss played the same night in Balti as well). Also, my camera’s lens was damaged during this time period and I had to wait a few weeks for it to be fixed (wasn’t cheap either!). And no, it wasn’t damaged at a show. Next week I plan on posting a big recap of 2011, from the local scene to the biggest metal stories of the year and it will include a preview of 2012 as well. Until then be sure to check the upcoming metal concert calendar and remember, support the scene you’re a part of!

Review of Immortal Gig at Sonar

It’s not every day one of the “inner circle” bands from the infamous Norwegian black metal scene of the early 90s comes through the area, the last time was almost two years ago when Mayhem played Maryland Deathfest in 2009. So when Immortal came to Sonar on Sunday the 20th of February 2011 you just knew going in that it would be epic. To the best of my knowledge this was their first appearance in the area since I saw them play the now defunct Phantasmagoria record store in Wheaton, Maryland with Satyricon in March of 2000. They were only playing six concerts on this mini tour, and Baltimore was lucky enough to get one of them. They brought along Texas based black metal band Absu for the tour but there was no local support for this show.

Immortal has a certain duality in the metal scene, on one hand they’ve got a lot of credibility in the metal underground being that they’re one of the main second wave black metal bands, and through their band’s evolution they basically invented the blackened thrash subgenre of metal. That said, they’ve also been known to be one of the most ridiculous bands in black metal in regards to their image, laughable posing in photo shoots, things like witch hats and crab walks showing up in music videos, and a general willingness to embrace most of the idiotic image stereotypes of the black metal genre. Immortal has been called the Kiss of black metal but they’ve been able to keep a legion of fans by putting out albums with some damn good songs on them. Their original guitarist, Demonaz, had to leave the band due to severe tendinitis in 1997 and so bass player Abbath took over as guitarist. The band didn’t slow down until 2003 when they broke up for several years. They did get back together but they hadn’t played a concert in the mid-atlantic region since then until this evening.

When I got to the venue, about 10 minutes before the scheduled time for the doors to open, the line was already stretched around the block. All kinds of people from the local scene were there as well as people coming in from out of town and it sort of reminded me of when Carcass came to Sonar on their reunion tour in September 2008. Once inside I quickly staked out a spot as close to the front as I could and awaited Absu to start playing. I’d seen them in June 2009 at Jaxx but now they were a three piece, apparently this was just their second show as such. It didn’t hurt the fullness of the sound at all, but it did make it easier to see the band’s main man and lead vocalist, Proscriptor, play the drums. He’s quite a talented drummer with some unconventional drumming techniques that are pretty fun to watch live. For some unknown reason he had this sort of studded belt thing on as a headband, apparently some of Immortal’s image sense is rubbing off on him. He never dropped his “metal” voice while on stage even between songs and he kept the introductions entertaining too (check out his introduction to Four Crossed Wands in the video posted below to see what I mean). The band was in good form and was as good of a US based warm up act as there was going to be for Immortal though you could tell by the end of their set that the audience was ready for the reason they all came out this night.

Immortal sure took their time getting to the stage, finally arriving a good 45 minutes or so after Absu had finished. They played for at least 90 minutes and didn’t talk a whole lot between songs, but they didn’t really need to as their material stands on its own. Immortal was never one of the more political or religious of the Norwegian black metal bands, their lyrics mostly focusing on the fact that it’s damn cold in the north which isn’t really something to talk about between songs either. Their set list (photo of it here) had 14 songs and consisted mostly of songs from their latest two albums, 2009’s All Shall Fall and 2002’s Sons Of Northern Darkness. Totally awesome for the newer fans, but I was hoping they’d play a bit more off of Damned In Black and Blizzard Beasts. Still, it’s not like some bands where the newer material is just awful or something and considering how young a lot of the people in attendance were (at least up front where I was) it wasn’t surprising they’d play a lot of the newer material. The trio played very tight, the music was pretty energetic and the crowd went crazy from the beginning. When there were lulls in the music Abbath would strike a menacing pose and egg the crowd on by raising his arms and gesturing to keep the energy up. There were several crowd surfers throughout the night and during the song Grim And Frostbitten Kingdoms some dipshit threw a beer bottle on stage which caused the band to suddenly stop playing. Abbath got pissed and dared whoever threw it to come on stage, but they played on (I’ve got video of this below) and in fact seemed to have a renewed vigor through the rest of the song and into the next track, Withstand The Fall Of Time. They didn’t do any fire breathing on stage, which I was hoping for, but they did keep the corpse paint, leather, spikes and boots. There was a lot of fog used too, and Horgh, the drummer, was pushed so far to the back of the stage that you could hardly see him the entire night through all the fake smoke. He did not have his Satan’s Goalie Pads on though, haha. I really could have watched Immortal play another 14 songs but the show did end a bit after midnight after a pre-determined encore performance (hardly an encore when the songs are already on the setlist!).

It was a really fun show, and while Immortal didn’t play a ton of older material, it was still a bad ass concert. Absu was a great opening act too, though I wish they’d allowed a couple of the local black metal acts to open. I managed to work my way to the front row by the end of the show and got some photos that I’m really pleased with from there, and Abbath even posed a bit for me during their final song. You can see all my photos from this show on my Flickr page here. I also got 2 videos of Absu and 3 of Immortal that are all embedded below. The last video is the one with the beer bottle throwing incident, which happened about 1:20 in. Check them out and get ready for the next sure to be epic black metal show to come to the area, Rotting Christ, Melechesh and Hate playing Jaxx on March 9th. Oh yeah, and I’ve started a Facebook page for DCHeavyMetal so help me out and “like” the page (here) if you’re a fan of this site. Now, check out these cool videos.

Review of Psycroptic gig at Jaxx

While many people are returning home on the Sunday night following Thanksgiving, I found myself heading down to Jaxx again on the 28th of November 2010. Psycroptic and Keep Of Kalessin, the opening bands on Nile and Ex Deo‘s fall tour were playing a few extra shows without the headliners, and this was the date they came through the area. It wasn’t a long show, only four bands played, and it ended early at around 10pm. Pathology was supposed to be part of the touring line up, but they were involved in a major accident in November (more details here) that ended all touring plans for them. There wasn’t a huge crowd for this show, but that was sort of to be expected. It was still a lot of fun and I finally got to see Psycroptic play live.

The first band to play was local death metal act Orgy Of The Damned. I had seen them play before at the Blood And Fire Festival back in July. They’re still really young, most of the guys had black Xs on their hands. That’s fine though, as again their youthful excitement for the music comes through as a big plus in their set. They played Reanimator which was pretty fun to see live. It’s one of the songs they are giving away for free on my download page if you want to check it out. They also played a cover of the Cannibal Corpse classic Hammer Smashed Face that was pretty cool. In another cue taken from Cannibal Corpse, at the end of their set the vocalist, Jeff Wright, said he “lied” about them not playing Feces Fiend and they closed with that song. The next band up was another local act, Trihexyn. They’re pretty good, just not my kind of metal really. I knew what to expect since I’d seen them before at the State Theatre as part of the second Mandatory Metal night there. They rely heavily on using clean vocals which is something I generally am not a fan of (there are exceptions of course). They are pretty good and have well written songs that they play pretty well so don’t get me wrong here, I’m just not their target audience. They do switch to a more rough vocal style for some parts, and I do find that to be more enjoyable, but I seemed to be in the minority about a few things this evening anyways. Also, the bass player had pink hair, which was a bit weird too but hey metal isn’t supposed to be about fashion anyways (don’t tell that to Cradle Of Filth though!). I’ve got a video of them below so check them out, maybe you’ll like them more than I do.

The next band to play was Norway’s black metal band Keep Of Kalessin. I really didn’t like their newest album, Reptilian, and sadly (for me) their set was mostly made of material from it. It’s all about dragons which wouldn’t be so bad except there’s a lot of that clean vocal singing going on again. So yeah, I’ve become that fan of theirs, the guy who likes only the old stuff. I seemed to be in the minority about that because the audience was reacting well to their performance. And they did play Crown Of The Kings, which is one of their older songs that is totally awesome, but they didn’t play Come Damnation, which is my favorite song of theirs. Their set was only about 40 minutes or so, so I guess they were just doing the same basic set list of songs from their Nile tour, mostly just supporting their new album. I thought they would have played a bit longer, and while I figured they’d play a good amount of their newer material, I also thought they’d play some older stuff since they had the chance to play a longer set. They closed with Kolossus which is a solid song, so overall it wasn’t bad, just not my favorite material for most of the set.

The final band of the night was Psycroptic coming all the way from Tasmania. I’ve wanted to catch them for a long time, as they’re probably my favorite technical death metal band these days (Decrepit Birth is up there too though) and I’ve waited a few years now to catch them live. I didn’t see them earlier this year at Sonar with Nile because I knew this show was coming up and I’d rather go to the closer venue, for less money when they headline. They did play an awesome set, though again it was short. I enjoyed the show a lot and got so caught up with it that when it ended I was kinda mad I’d only shot video of two songs! For me the highlight of the evening was when they played (Ob)Servant, which is just a kick ass metal song. Really, all the songs they played are pretty damn sick. It was like they were putting on a tutorial how you do tech death! I was hoping that since they were headlining they’d play a longer set but they didn’t really. They didn’t play The Colour Of Sleep nor Alpha Breed, two of my favorite songs of theirs. Same as with Keep Of Kalessin, I really wished they’d taken advantage of the headlining slot to play a longer set and included more older material. Their vocalist was a temporary fill in on this tour while their normal singer was staying home to be with his newborn. He did a decent job, his stage presence wasn’t bad and he had a hell of a lot of energy up there, literally jumping around and helping to keep the audience excited. Really though, nobody goes to see Psycroptic because of the vocals, their guitar work is crazy and the drummer is pretty damn tight too. They didn’t have a huge crowd and Keep Of Kalessin seemed to have a larger audience when they played. That didn’t matter to me, I was there to finally see Psycroptic play, and other than the set being so damn short, they didn’t disappoint at all. And I’ve got the videos below to prove it, check em out: