Review of Grimscape ’14 at the Sidebar

On Saturday, July 26th I made it up to the first Grimscape at the Sidebar in Baltimore. The place isn’t very big, I think the max capacity is around 100 people, and most of the walls and pipes in the place are covered in the stickers of bands that have played there in the past. The stage is only a few inches tall and the lighting isn’t anything worth bragging about, but it’s a great spot for DIY punk and metal shows. This evening the Sidebar was hosting the inaugural Grimscape that will apparently become an annual event. It collected a bunch of mostly local black metal bands with the headliner, Pact, coming down from Erie, Pennsylvania, to play. Apparently Helgardh was supposed to be on the bill but for whatever reason they dropped off and were replaced by a band called Hex Temple. This was apparently Hex Temple’s first live show but I didn’t get there in time to see them. I did however get to see the next band, Antikosmos, who were also making their live debut at this show. They were entertaining for sure. Frontwoman Victoria Atkins commands the audience’s attention with her striking blonde hair and wild facial expressions, though she was standing on the stage behind a couple of the band members who were on the floor which obscured her from view at times. They played a Watain cover and a Bathory cover as well as a pair of originals. They’re still figuring out their own sound, which is mostly dominated by their influences, but that’s to be expected from any young band really. There was quite a large crowd there while they played and I think a lot of people came just to see their friends in Antikosmos perform for the first time.

After Antikosmos played Inverted Trifixion was set to play next. I was hungry though, and the Sidebar doesn’t serve food, so I ran out for a bite to eat at Joe Squared, hoping to make it back in time to catch the end of Inverted Trifixion’s set. Unfortunately I didn’t make it back that quickly as Dispellment was setting up when I returned. Dispellment is a three piece black metal band from Northern Virginia and they’re pretty damn good. Their style is fast and energetic and reminds me of something similar to Taake mixed with older Marduk. The band is well rehearsed and performs together as a tight unit. Although their songs are often punishing they do have room in there for some catchy riffs even a moderate black metal fan can appreciate. Their stage set up with deer antlers and various tree branches in addition to their messy corpse paint is pretty entertaining, and their bass player often walked right into the audience with a menacing look on his face making sure you couldn’t simply ignore Dispellment’s performance.

Finally it was time for the headliner, Pact. Unfortunately most of the audience that had been there earlier in the night had left by this point and it was a shame cause these guys were pretty sick. Their vocalist came out wearing a black robe with a big hood on it and some sort of bandage on his right hand. One of the guitar players had some crazy looking custom guitar that looked like the cover to Morbid Angel’s Altars Of Madness covered in a sickly ashen bile. These guys were also very well practiced and tight, you could tell they knew their material inside and out. Pact was the most aggressive sounding band that I saw at Grimscape combining a raw intensity with some unholy riffage that oddly reminded me of mid-90s era Dark Funeral at times. Their vocalist did a lot of hand gestures to the crowd and sometimes it almost seemed like he was practicing some sort of martial arts moves with his hands.

In all it was a great DIY black metal show and a great time over all. Thanks to Mary Spiro of Metallomusikum (and the curator of the Black Metal Baltimore group on Facebook) for getting the bands to come out, the turn out seemed pretty good so I’m betting there will be a second installment in 2015. Let’s hope more people (including members of the bands earlier on the bill) stay next time cause the later bands were great! I’ve posted some of my favorite photos that I shot Saturday below, but you can see all of them, and in full size, on Flickr here. Keep it metal everyone and keep on supporting the scene that you’re a part of!

Antikosmos:

Antikosmos at the Sidebar

Antikosmos at the Sidebar

Victoria Atkins of Antikosmos

Dispellment:

Dispellment at the Sidebar

Ikonoklast of Dispellment

Æþelwulf of Dispellment

Pact:

Pact at the Sidebar

Pact at the Sidebar

Pact at the Sidebar

Pact at the Sidebar

Deafheaven ticket give away

Deafheaven

San Francisco based atmospheric black metal band Deafheaven is touring this summer and they’ll be at the Rock And Roll Hotel this Sunday, June 30th and DCHeavyMetal.com is giving away a free pair of tickets to a lucky one of you readers. To enter leave a comment on this post telling me who your favorite black metal band from the US is. At 5pm EST this Friday, June 28th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If you can’t wait to see if you win then you can get tickets from Ticket Alternative right now for $12 here.

Deafheaven plays a rather hypnotic style of black metal that fans of Alcest, Wolves In The Throne Room and Krallice will enjoy, though they’ve put their own California style take on the sound. Their new album, Sunbather, takes the standard frozen wintery darkness commonly associated with black metal and does a full 180 with its imagery of summer heat, blinding sunlight and sunburnt skin. Give the album’s title track a listen on the YouTube video below. The song is 10 minutes long but it goes to a lot of different places in that time and is definitely worth the full listen. Also on this tour is Marriages. They’re based out of LA and not really a metal band but two of the members, Greg Burns and Emma Ruth Rundle, are both from Red Sparowes. The opener is a electonic/doom band from Baltimore named Curse. I’ve posted a song by each band below so give them a listen and tell me who your favorite USBM band is!

Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult at El Caracol Bar

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. Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult at El Caracol CafeThroughout 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!

Damnatum:

Damnatum at Caracol Bar

Damnatum at Caracol Bar

Damnatum at Caracol Bar

Nachzehrer:

Hräsvelg of Nachzehrer

Hräsvelg of Nachzehrer

Nachzehrer at Caracol Bar

Nachzehrer at Caracol Bar

Agrath:

Lord Thammuz of Agrath

Lord Thammuz of Agrath

Agrath at Caracol Bar

Agrath at Caracol Bar

Agrath at Caracol Bar

Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult:

Onielar of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult

Velnias of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult

Velnias of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult

Adversarius of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult

Adversarius of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult

Onielar of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult

Onielar of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult

Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult at Caracol Bar

Onielar of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult

Morbid Angel at the Howard Theatre

On Monday the 24th of September 2012 another heavy metal tour came to the Howard Theatre in Washington DC. This time the show was headlined by Morbid Angel, one of the most famous bands from the legendary Tampa, Florida death metal scene. The first band to play was VadimVon, a South Carolina based death metal band, however I wasn’t able to get there in time to see them. The first band I saw perform was Grave, one of the old school Swedish death metal bands. Before Swedish metal became associated with bands like At The Gates, In Flames and Soilwork there was a death metal scene there that rivaled the one Morbid Angel Tour Posterin Tampa at the time. It was led by bands like Entombed, Hypocrisy, Unleashed and Dismember. Grave is one of the few bands from that scene that is not only still around but has also stayed true to their sound. The only member of Grave that is left from those days is vocalist/guitarist Ola Lindgren and he showed the audience at the Howard Theatre that he’s still got it. The band put on a good show with a set list (photo of it here) that showed a pretty good history of the band, considering the time they had to play, as well as featuring a few songs of their latest album, Endless Procession of Souls. They got the pit really going on a few songs and hell, it was great to hear a set full of old school Swedish death metal! You just don’t get a chance to hear that very often any more. The next band up was another Swedish band, though this time of the black metal variety. Dark Funeral has gone through some line up changes since they last toured the US, most notably replacing their vocalist of 15 years, Emperor Magus Caligula. This was their first area appearance with the new vocalist, Nachtgarm, who is also the front man of the German black metal band Negator. While I wouldn’t say he was bad he certainly didn’t live up to the showmanship that Caligula had when on stage with the band. Dark Funeral has always been very apt at maintaining their image, everyone in the band comes out dressed like corpse painted orcs from Lord Of The Rings, complete with leather armor. Well, everyone except Nachtgarm that is, who was wearing one of those Shagrath style black metal dresses and looked more like he fit in a Behemoth video than with Dark Funeral on stage. Dark Funeral has never been the most original black metal band. Their sound is pretty typical of the genre and never really pushed any boundaries, though they do have a few rather stand out songs. The stage show has always helped to keep them from blending in with every other black metal band out there and I guess the new vocalist seemed to just detract from that. Again he wasn’t awful, he just didn’t seem to fit Dark Funeral that well. Perhaps after they record an album with him and he is performing some of his own material live he’ll have a better chemistry with them. Still, the band plays fast paced music and their closing song, My Funeral, got me pumped and ready for the headliner, Morbid Angel.

Aside from this year’s headlining appearance at Maryland Deathfest, Morbid Angel hasn’t played in the area since their show at Jaxx/Empire in April 2006 when they were first touring again because David Vincent had rejoined the band. Since that show they have only put out one album, last year’s dreadful Illud Divinum Insanus which was not only critically panned but also stained Morbid Angel’s reputation among fans. I had just seen another one of the big names from the Tampa scene, Obituary, play at Empire two weeks earlier (my review of that show is here) and they put on a lackluster performance so I was hoping Morbid Angel wouldn’t follow suit. Morbid Angel didn’t disappoint. They put on a brutal show playing many of their older classics. Their set list (photo of it here) had a lot of songs from their album Covenant, with most of the other songs being spread throughout the David Vincent era of the band. They did play one song, Bil Ur-Sag, from the album Formulas Fatal To The Flesh, an album David Vincent was not on. I’ve never seen them play a song with him before that wasn’t from his time with the band, so that was pretty cool actually. Trey Azagthoth did his thing on the side of the stage cranking out classic riffs and wild solos with his trademark long hair obscuring his face the entire show. While Morbid Angel played two songs from their most recent album they were at least two of the more “metal” songs from it. Tim Yeung did a good job behind the kit and Destructhor, playing rhythm guitar (but still had some solos) did a fine job as well, but really the main focus on stage was David Vincent. Morbid Angel is definitely a better band with him fronting them. Between two songs he did mention how he hated DC as it represented everything he hated about the way the world is run, but assured the audience this wasn’t any fault of our own. Definitely not the usual audience ass kissing you hear a front man blabber about whatever town he is in. In all it was really fun to see one of the legendary bands of death metal put on a killer show. My main gripe was that they didn’t play much from either Blessed Are The Sick or Domination but did play my two favorite songs of theirs, Maze Of Torment and Chapel Of Ghouls, and I’ve posted the videos I shot at the show of each song below. Well I hope you enjoyed reading this, now check out the pictures and videos I shot of the bands playing. Be sure to get your ass out to some of the awesome upcoming metal shows going on in the area and help to support the scene you’re a part of!

Grave:

Grave at the Howard Theatre

Ola Lindgren of Grave

Ola Lindgren of Grave

Ola Lindgren of Grave

Ola Lindgren of Grave

Tobias Cristiansson of Grave

Mika Lagrén of Grave

Dark Funeral:

Nachtgarm of Dark Funeral

Chaq Mol of Dark Funeral

Nachtgarm of Dark Funeral

Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral

Zornheym of Dark Funeral

Nachtgarm of Dark Funeral

Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral

Nachtgarm of Dark Funeral

Morbid Angel:

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

Destructhor of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

Morbid Angel ticket give away

Death metal legends Morbid Angel are finally coming back to Washington DC and and you can win a free pair of tickets to the show on Monday, September 24th, 2012 at the Howard Theatre. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment at the end of this post Morbid Angel at the Howard Theatretelling me which metal band you’d like to see come to the Howard Theatre next! On Friday, September 21st at 5pm EST I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to get the free pair of tickets to the show. Be sure to enter with a valid email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. If I don’t hear from you in 24 hours then I’ll pick another winner to get the tickets. 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 simply can’t wait to see if you win the contest you can get tickets from The Vault here for $25 (or you can get them from Ticket Master here but they have higher service fees).

Morbid Angel headlined day three of Maryland Deathfest back in May and they dispelled any notion of the band going soft following their poorly received release of Illud Divinum Insanus in 2011. They put on a killer show playing tons of their classic hits however they didn’t do a full tour. If you missed them at MDF (or even if you were there but want to see them again) then this is your chance to see one of the true legends of American death metal live and at a venue with a great sound system no less. As if that wasn’t good enough reason to go you will also get to see Swedish black metal band Dark Funeral provide direct support on this tour. It will be their first US tour with their new vocalist Nachtgarm and I’ve got to admit I can’t wait to see how he does fronting Dark Funeral. There is also support on this tour from Grave, an old school Swedish death metal band from the days when “Swedish Death Metal” referred to bands like Entombed, Unleashed, Hypocrisy and Dismember. The opening band for this tour is VadimVon, an up and coming death metal band from South Carolina. All this at the Howard Theatre, a new venue in DC that is just around the corner from the 9:30 Club (and just as easy to get to). Bottom line: this show is going to kick serious ass! So listen to these tunes by the bands playing, enter the contest in the comments and I’ll see you at the show!

Onslaught ticket give away

DCHeavyMetal.com has another chance for you to win some free tickets. After decades, the 80s UK thrash metal band Onslaught are on their first ever North American tour and they’re bringing along Mpire Of Evil, a new band with two former members of the legendary Venom. Mantas and Demolition Man even play some of those old Venom classics in their live set. The tour’s only area stop is this Sunday, April 8th, at the U Street Music Hall in Washington DC, a venue that generally caters to fans of dance and electronic music. To commemorate this first metal show at the venue, DCHeavyMetal.com is giving away a free pair of tickets to one of you Onslaught at U Street Music Hallmetal heads reading this. To enter just tell me in the comments below which band you’re more excited to see, Onslaught or Mpire Of Evil. You can get more info about each band in the paragraphs after this one. At 5pm EST on Friday the 6th of April 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 Fly here for $20.

Onslaught was originally a hardcore band that shifted to a thrash metal style early in their career. Don’t think they sound like D.R.I. though, they sound more similar to bands like Slayer and Kreator. Onslaught broke up in 1991 before ever having come the the US and now, after reforming in 2005, they are finally touring the states. Onslaught isn’t one of those old thrash bands who just puts out shitty new songs and plays a bunch of their old tunes live, they have some killer new material as well. Just give a listen to the song below, Born For War, off of their album Sounds Of Violence which came out in 2011.

Mpire Of Evil is a band that formed in 2010 and they’ve only got one full length album out, Hell To The Holy, and it was just released last week. Don’t worry though, you’ll be sure to recognize some of their tunes as former Venom members Mantas and Demolition Man perform some of the old Venom classic songs in their set list as well. That said, their new material isn’t bad either, and you can give it a listen on the video embedded below.

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!