Review of Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

On Tuesday, September 22nd of 2015, Ghost kicked off the first show of their US tour when they played the Fillmore Silver Spring, coincidentally the same day that the pope arrived in Washington DC. The mysterious Swedish band is always a spectacle to see live with their elaborate unholy church theme. While their catchy songs are on the lighter side of the metal spectrum, their live show has always been the main attraction for this band.

The only opening act at this show was Purson, a London based psychedelic rock band. I only caught the end of their set (there was a huge line to get into the show) but I wasn’t too impressed by what I did hear. The music was fairly standard for the style and not really that interesting to me. Vocalist/guitarist Rosalie Cunningham was wearing an extremely low cut, skin tight catsuit that certainly got her lots of attention for anything but her music. I couldn’t help feeling like I’d just seen the same shtick when Lucifer opened for High On Fire and Pallbearer at the Baltimore Soundstage last month.

Ghost is known for their stage set up which resembles the inside of a cathedral complete with an imitation stained glass backdrop. The band is anonymous so they all wear masks to hide their identities, a gimmick that has led to much speculation about who the band members actually are. The instruments in Ghost are all played by the “Nameless Ghouls” who were wearing metallic masks with devil horns and no mouths. The vocals are handled by Papa Emeritus III, an unholy pope with a skull painted mask on his face, long papal robes with upside crosses adorning them, and even a mitre (what most people call a “pope hat”) with the band’s logo emblazoned on it.

Ghost played for about an hour and a half, but that time went by pretty quick since they are so entertaining. They played eight songs off their newest album, Meliora (see the entire set list here). The songs have kitschy but fun openly satanic lyrics for the most part, and the entire audience sang along for most of the entire show. The music itself isn’t anything revolutionary, it’s fairly simple and straightforward but they do have some cool riffs in there and Ghost is really catchy overall.

The performance can best be described as broken up into two halves, the first half had five songs from the first album Ghost album, Opus Eponymous, and was the typical unholy church mass you might expect. For some reason they started the show off with the song “Spirit,” the rather lackluster first track off of Meliora. An odd choice since just two songs later they played “Ritual,” a song which has one of the best openings to get a crowd into a show that a band could hope for. Even the second song they played, “From The Pinnacle To The Pit,” would have been a better opener. There was also a short drum solo in the first half of the set, which was ok I guess but to a metal head that has seen some absolutely incredible live drum solos over the years it wasn’t anything that wowed me. If you have seen Ghost prior to this tour then you probably knew what you were getting for the first half of the show.

The second half of the show was a bit different than the first, and caused some controversy among the band’s older fans. There were still plenty of songs from Meliora in this part of the set, but no more tunes from the debut were played. Several from the second album, Infestissumam, were performed in the second half of the show though. The really defining thing that separated the first and second halves of the show was when Papa Emeritus III changed costume. He ditched the robes and mitre and came out in a much more form fitting jacket that looked like something a naval commander in the days of wooden ships might wear. I can understand the idea of trying to update and evolve the character of Papa Emeritus to keep it from getting stale, but I think the execution here was a miss. An evil twist on a more traditionally religious costume might have gone over better and kept with the unholy church theme. Papa’s voice also seemed to have more trouble in the second half of the show, he missed a few notes here and there, though he tended to recover quite well. There was a cool section that featured two songs being played acoustically. I rather enjoyed this as I had to miss their recent acoustic performance at the Sound Garden in Baltimore. At one point the Nameless Ghoul on keyboard duty stepped into the spotlight for a brief keytar solo, which was a bit ridiculous yet seemed to fit right in with the campy Ghost performance. There was an encore which featured several songs, including “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen,” a highlight of the show, and even “If You Have Ghosts” a track off their covers album. The 19th and final song of the set was “Monstrance Clock,” a catchy song that had the entire audience singing along to the chorus.

In all the show was a lot of fun. The first half was a more traditional Ghost show while the second half was a more modern take, even if didn’t quite hit the mark at times. Still, it’s good to see the band trying new things to stay fresh and relevant in a time where music fans have such short attention spans. Ghost is still a great band to get the uninitiated into metal concerts because they’re just so much fun live and that’s something both new and old metal fans can agree on.

The following photos were all shot by Metal Nick at the show, the first of hopefully many collaborations between Metal Nick and Metal Chris!

Purson:

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost:

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

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

Municipal Waste and Napalm Death at Empire

Friday the 26th of October 2012 was one hell of a fun night. Municipal Waste and Napalm Death were kicking off their co-headlining tour with Exhumed and Vektor at Empire (formerly Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia that night Poster for Municipal Waste and Napalm Death at Empireand you just knew a line up like that was going to result in an awesome night. Apparently a lot of you had the same idea as the place was pretty packed. It was probably the best turn out I’ve seen at Empire since the new management took over back in January.

There were a couple of local openers to start the show off but I didn’t get there until Vektor was just beginning their set. They play a futuristic tech-thrash that is pretty damn fun to watch live. Their songs are long but they go all over the place so you never feel bored listening to them. The crowd surfers were already starting during their set. I had seen Vektor headline a show in mid September (ready my review of that show here) and while they didn’t play as long of a set, it was still cool seeing them on a proper stage. Also, guitarist David DiSanto was playing a new guitar this time. After Vektor played it was time for Exhumed to unleash their gory death metal on the crowd. They were as fast and brutal as ever and they’re the kind of band you can tell is having a lot of fun on stage. They had their crazy chainsaw surgeon guy come out on stage a few times with his real chain saw that he was waving over the audience and they even had blood splatter onto some of the people up close when he pulled out a decapitated head. Exhumed opened their set with several songs off their latest album, All Guts, No Glory, but started playing older songs midway through their set. They ended their set with their classic The Matter Of Splatter which really had people going nuts in the pit. Two bands in and this show was already kicking some serious ass!

Napalm Death was the next band to take the stage. They’re one of the fathers of grindcore and have consistently put out good material since they formed 31 years ago (although none of the current members have been in the band prior to 1987). In addition to that they’re also known for being one of the best live bands in extreme metal. As they opened their set they showed that their age was not slowing them down a bit. I had seen them in May at Maryland Deathfest X but this time the audience was much closer up to the band and the setting was definitely more in your face. Hell, I even saw a guy in a banana costume stage dive during their set (photo of that below). Napalm Death’s vocalist, Barney Greenway, was as spastic as ever on stage, pacing back and forth between bursts of vocal rage and showing that he’s still one of the most ferocious live vocalists in metal. Their set contained mostly material from the past 10 years or so but they did sprinkle in some key tracks from older albums throughout the set. For some reason the band played their infamous Guinness World Record holding one second track You Suffer two times during their set, that was a new one. I didn’t love their latest release, Utilitarian, because a Napalm Death album with clean vocal parts just doesn’t sound right to me. Even so, when they played The Wolf I Feed, a song from that album, it still fit in well with the rest of the songs they played despite the clean back up singing. Napalm Death played a thoroughly brutal set from start to finish and the audience seemed to love every minute of it, myself included.

The final band of the night was Richmond, Virginia’s Municipal Waste. They’re a party thrash metal band and they’re known for having a totally wild live show. Most of the band’s songs revolve around binge drinking and partying and they readily encourage stage divers. However if you stay on stage too long you’ll get an atomic wedgie, which vocalist Tony Foresta explained by making an example of one lingering stage diver during the show. They got the crowd going from the start with their songs Headbanger Face Rip and Mind Eraser. Tony said that since the band had toured so much lately they wanted to change up the set list some. This included playing A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Destroyer) for the first time ever live as well as playing the first song Municipal Waste ever wrote, Thrashin’s My Business… And Business Is Good. You can see the full set list here. The band was a bit sloppy but it didn’t matter, they’re more about having fun than playing perfectly. Guitarist Ryan Waste was sporting a new custom guitar that had a body shaped like a big M and W. At one point Tony mentioned that he didn’t like most modern thrash bands, but that he definitely approved of Vektor. An odd opinion since Municipal Waste is one of the biggest modern thrash bands. The shred-fest went on for over an hour and the mosh pit went crazy all night. Crowd surfers and stage divers were a constant presence and I’m sure a lot of people were nursing bruises afterwards, but they were well worth it to be in the middle of all the fun. As usual, you can see my photos of the bands I was there for below. I didn’t get shots of all of the band members throughout the night because it was hard to move around the wild audience that close to the stage and I was not trying to damage my camera with all the crowd surfers over head either. I have some video footage of Municipal Waste as well but due to complications from Hurricane Sandy I haven’t been able to upload those yet. I hope to add them to the end of this post in a day or two. It was great to see such a good turn out for a metal show at Empire and I hope to see more of you out at metal shows soon to help support the scene you’re a part of!

Vektor:

Vektor at Empire

David DiSanto of Vektor

Frank Chin of Vektor

Erik Nelson of Vektor

Exhumed:

Bud Burke of Exhumed

Matt Harvey of Exhumed

Bud Burke of Exhumed

Exhumed chainsaw guy

Matt Harvey of Exhumed

Napalm Death:

Mitch Harris of Napalm Death

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Napalm Death at Empire

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Municipal Waste:

Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste

Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste

Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste

Ryan Waste of Municipal Waste

Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste

Ryan Waste of Municipal Waste

Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste

Pig Destroyer at the Ottobar

On Friday the 19th of October 2012 I headed up to the Ottobar in Baltimore to see Pig Destroyer perform at their album release show. Their new album, Book Burner, is their first full length release in over 5 years and anticipation for the album has been high not only in the DC area, which the band is from, but in the overall world of metal fandom. I missed the opening act, Wargames, though they’re a Baltimore based hardcore band so they’ll probably be playing in the area again soon. Royal Thunder was the first band I saw play. They’re a slow paced hard rock/metal band from Atlanta and while I didn’t think they were all that bad, they were certainly out of place on this bill. The crowd who showed up to see a spastic grindcore band wasn’t really interested in seeing a drowsy southern rock band with clean vocals. Royal Thunder, along with Pig Destroyer, is signed to Relapse. I guess they were just trying to get Royal Thunder more exposure by adding them to this line up but they really sucked the energy out of the place. Luckily the next band, Baltimore natives Necropsy, came to the rescue with their set and got the mosh pits started. They play some catchy death/thrash and they are really fun to watch live. They’re all pretty young, I’m not sure if any of them are over 21, but they are certainly worth checking out if you haven’t seen them yet. They’ll be opening the first day of Maryland Deathfest next May. The next band to play was Washington DC’s own Ilsa. I’ve seen them a ton of times and as always they brought the heavy, chugging riffage doused in crusty filth. They started their performance off by throwing stripper glitter on the people standing close to the stage and I have to say that was rather unexpected. Just when you think you’ve seen it all at a metal concert… Anyways, Ilsa was in really good form, mostly playing songs from their upcoming album Intoxicantations which is due out on Black Friday (Nov 23rd) from A389 Records. I’ve got the set list posted here if you’d like to see it. They didn’t play the song Frostthrower, a personal favorite of mine, but it didn’t matter, they’ve got a lot of great songs and you could tell the audience agreed. They were loving the weight of the band’s sound and I’m sure Ilsa won some new fans with their performance.

After Ilsa’s killer set it was time for Pig Destroyer. They don’t play a lot of shows in the area and there was a good sized crowd out for this rare appearance by the local grindcore legends. Vocalist JR Hayes (who I recently interviewed here) was rather jovial between songs then like a light switch he would just turn on his pent up rage and funnel it through his throat. He was like a caged wild animal suddenly set free into the confusing world with his microphone as his only weapon. Guitarist Scott Hull stayed pretty cool on the left side of the stage, grinding out his bizarrely unique riffs as the songs jarringly started and stopped. This was the first time I had seen Pig Destroyer with with their new drummer, Adam Jarvis (also of Misery Index) and apparently it was his birthday as well. Even after taking birthday whiskey shots on stage he still ripped through those crazy Pig Destroyer songs with total precision. The band doesn’t have a bass player but they do have Blake Harrison who basically “plays” some sort of DJ console making noises and adding clips and samples to their songs. Since a lot of what Blake does is basically prerecorded he spends a lot of time on stage essentially acting as a hype man by helping pump up the crowd and keep them into the show. There were also a few guest appearances during the set. Kat Katz (vocalist for the now defunct DC doom band Salome) performed vox on a few songs and the Grindfather, aka Richard Johnson of Drugs Of Faith, did some guest vocals as well. Pig Destroyer’s set list didn’t include a whole lot from the new album though they did play a cover of a Void song. You can see their full set list here. Overall it was a great performance by one of DC’s biggest bands and it was awesome to see them in a local venue. During Pig Destroyer’s set I was up front trying to get some photos and videos and, unsurprisingly, the crowd was wild, hyper and just violent overall. I’m lucky I didn’t damage my camera but I think it was worth it to get some straight on, close up shots from this rare show. The videos are all the way at the end, I hope you enjoy them. Until next time, stay metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!

Royal Thunder:

Mlny Parsonz of Royal Thunder

Royal Thunder at the Ottobar

Necropsy:

Tyler Carnes of Necropsy

Travis Stone of Necropsy

Necropsy at the Ottobar

Sebastian Phillips of Necropsy

Sebastian Phillips of Necropsy

Ilsa:

Ilsa at the Ottobar

Ilsa at the Ottobar

Ilsa at the Ottobar

Garrett of Ilsa

Ilsa at the Ottobar

Orion of Ilsa

Pig Destroyer:

Scott Hull of Pig Destroyer

Pig Destroyer at the Ottobar

J.R. Hayes of Pig Destroyer

Pig Destroyer at the Ottobar

Pig Destroyer at the Ottobar

Scott Hull of Pig Destroyer

J.R. Hayes of Pig Destroyer

Down at the Fillmore Silver Spring

On Sunday, September 30th of 2012 the New Orleans based southern/stoner metal band Down played the Fillmore Silver Spring. Also on the bill was the doom metal band Pentagram, the Texas based thrash metal band Warbeast and a blues rock band from Ohio called Mount Carmel. I had just seen a great doom and stoner concert with Saint Vitus and Weedeater at the Black Cat three nights before (read that concert’s review here), so would this show live up to it?

The first band to play was Mount Carmel, however I only caught about one of their songs. They did make an appearance on stage later in the night but I’ll get to that later. They’re really more of a throwback bluesy rock band and since this is a metal site I’m not too upset I didn’t catch enough to review them. The second band of the night was the heavy thrash band Warbeast. They’re from Texas and feature members of the old school Texas thrash bands Gammacide and Rigor Mortis. Warbeast seemed to get a good response from the crowd with their catchy riffs and flashy showmanship but they didn’t really do anything I hadn’t heard from a thrash band a dozen times before. The highlight of their set was when Down’s vocalist Phil Anselmo came out to do guest vocals on a song with them (my video of that is posted below). You could tell Phil was really trying to get the audience into Warbeast which makes sense because they’re on his record label, Housecore Records. Warbeast played a lot of material off of a yet to be released full length which was cool for their fans. Overall I thought they were a decent opener but as far as thrash goes they were pretty typical and generic. They just didn’t stack up to the Vektor show I had seen two weeks earlier (my review of that concert is here) and while their energy got the crowd pumped up they just didn’t seem to fit in with the other slower paced bands on the bill that night. The next band to play was the legendary doom metal band Pentagram who were originally based in Washington DC. It was announced (here) the day of the show that this would be guitarist Victor Griffin’s final US concert with the band as he will be leaving them, again, after their upcoming European tour to work on his other projects. While offstage the band’s vocalist and founder Bobby Liebling comes across as a man whose years of hard drug use have left him rather frail and weathered he showed that when he gets on stage he’s still got it. Like most of the older legends of the doom metal scene he knows heavy, depressed and weary, but he also has a quirky side that isn’t afraid to laugh at himself. If you had any doubts about this going in they were instantly dashed when Bobby dropped trou on stage to reveal some skin tight pants covered in eyeballs of various sizes. While I had a photo pass for the band’s first three songs he did this afterwards so I have no photos of said pants, although I have posted video footage you’ve got to see to believe of him wearing them below. The band really was in great form and played a lot of their older classics as well as a few from their latest album, 2011’s Last Rites. The biggest problem was due to no fault of their own as the microphone had technical issues throughout their set. It got so bad that Phil Anselmo walked out on stage and started yelling at the sound guy to get things fixed! Regardless Pentagram played their asses off and really showed that after all these years their material still holds up, their sound is still heavy and they’ve still got it live! Bobby walked around on stage like he owned the damn place and Victor, cool as ever, cranked out those classic riffs and even did some back up vocals on some songs. Had the show ended after Pentagram played it would still have been a great concert but next up was the headlining act, Down.

Down is a stoner band with a strong southern metal bent from New Orleans. They are often referred to as a “super group” since the band’s line up includes such notable musicians as Pepper Keenan of Corrosion Of Conformity, Kirk Windstein of Crowbar, Jimmy Bower of Eyehategod (on drums no less!) and Phil Anselmo of Pantera. Since the members have so many other band commitments Down doesn’t tour very regularly so when you hear they’re coming to town you should probably get off your ass and go because who knows when they’ll be back. That said, if you missed the show the band just released Down IV Part I: The Purple EP so perhaps a part two will be coming soon and Down be touring again in no time. Down started their set off with their song Eyes Of The South and followed it up with their latest single, Witchtripper. The song was just released twelve days prior to the show but already most of the audience seemed to know the words! Down’s frontman Phil Anselmo really had the crowd in his palm throughout the show and while the stage at the Fillmore isn’t small he had a presence that still seemed confined by it. His voice was cracking and going hoarse throughout the night plus he had more of the same microphone problems that plagued Pentagram’s set as well, but none of it seemed to matter much to the enthralled audience. At one point Phil pulled a teenager out of the audience and brought him on stage to headbang with him for half a song. Not because the guy paid extra for a special VIP ticket or was somehow friends with a band member, but just because Phil thought he was so damn metal looking! I actually have some video footage of that so if anyone knows the guy tell him to get in contact with me. Let’s not forget the dual guitarists of Down, Kirk Windstein and Pepper Keenan. The guys have a great chemistry on stage and even though Phil commands a lot of stage presence, and thus attention, Kirk and Pepper reminded everyone that this wasn’t just Phil’s band. Their solos were on point, their timing and exchanges precise and more than anything, you could just tell they were having fun performing for everyone. Down’s sound owes a lot to those dirty southern riffs they cook up and while there were vocal issues throughout their set the guitars were excellent all night. The band walked off stage for the pre-planned encore and came back to play three more songs. Hail The Leaf saw people openly smoking joints in the mosh pit but when Stone The Crow’s instantly recognizable opening riff started people really went wild with the moshing and crowd surfing. Finally Down played the song people had been requesting all night, Bury Me In Smoke, to close the night. They didn’t just play it though, they actually played a 10 minute plus version with members of Mount Carmel and Pentagram coming out to the point that I’m not even sure if any members of Down were playing any instruments by the end of the song! Of course there’s video footage of that below as well. Overall the show was a great performance by a great band that had the crowd moshing, singing along and just rocking out to some great music. Thanks for reading my review and be sure to check out all the photos and videos I’ve posted below. There are more great metal shows coming to the area (calendar here) so get out to some of them and support the scene you’re a part of!

Warbeast:

Pentagram:

Down:

Saint Vitus at the Black Cat

Thursday the 27th of September 2012 saw the Black Cat in Washington DC drawing a pretty good sized crowd for one of the legends of doom/stoner metal, Saint Vitus. This was the first of two major doom/stoner shows in just a few days as Down and Pentagram played the Fillmore three days later (my review of that show is coming next). However, the first band to play on this rainy Thursday night was Sourvein, a stoner/doom/sludge band that was a decent opener. They didn’t do anything that really stood out that much to me but they were heavy and fuzzy and made for a good band to open this kind of show. The second band to play was a three piece stoner band from North Carolina named Weedeater. Their bass player, “Dixie” Dave Collins, also does the vocals and he’s a pretty entertaining front man. When he wasn’t swigging whiskey from the bottle on stage he was giving all kinds of crazy cross eyed looks to the audience and stomping around his side of the stage. You may have seen him before in the bands Buzzov•en and Hail!Hornet but Weedeater was definitely his band and as such, they were a lot of fun to watch play. Their songs ranged from faster paced catchy riffs to slow plodding doom all with a bit of humor to them. Their closing song, the humorous yet epic track Weed Monkey, was a perfect showcase of their range and a great set up for the final band of the night, Saint Vitus.

Saint Vitus formed in the late 70s in Los Angeles as one of the first doom metal bands (after Black Sabbath of course). However it wasn’t until 1986 that their legendary vocalist, Scott “Wino” Weinrich would join the band. Wino has been in several other noteworthy bands such as The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Shrinebuilder, Premonition 13 and too many more to list, however he is most famous for his time in Saint Vitus. This is why the influential Saint Vitus got all the old school doom heads out to the show, as well as many younger fans. Saint Vitus put out a new album, Lillie: F-65, back in May and made an appearance at Maryland Deathfest that same month, however Thursday’s concert was the first time Saint Vitus had played any of that new material actually inside the District. They kicked off their set with one of the new album’s best tracks, Blessed Night, and played several more from the album through the night. They also played several older classics from the three old albums with Wino and even played a couple songs from before he joined the band. You can see the actual set list here if you’d like. Despite the band’s age they had great energy on stage. Guitarist Dave Chandler went crazy with the solos all night sometimes playing with his teeth or even behind his head at times. He really did a good job of bringing the crowd up while Wino’s painful lyrics and trademark weathered, raspy voice brought everyone back down. Towards the end of the set Dave Chandler even said that this was definitely the band’s best gig in DC and he thanked the audience for being so into the show. I guess that wasn’t good enough for him as he later jumped off the stage and played a solo while walking around in the audience! Saint Vitus eventually walked off stage and came back to perform two of the band’s most well known songs, Dying Inside and Born Too Late. I’ve got video footage of the entire encore, and some other songs too, posted below so check that out if you can handle the doom. My only complaint with the show was having to watch the band in that awful pinkish orange lighting the Black Cat has. It’s long past time they upgraded the lighting on the upstairs main stage and this show was just another reminder of that. Even so, Saint Vitus put on a killer show that night no matter how you look at it. Thanks for reading this post and be sure to get out to some of the great metal shows coming to the area to help support the scene you’re a part of!

Sourvein:

Troy Medlin of Sourvein

JC Fari of Sourvein

Troy Medlin of Sourvein

Sourvein at the Black Cat

Weedeater:

Dave Shepherd of Weedeater

Dave Shepherd of Weedeater

Weedeater at the Black Cat

Keith Kirkum of Weedeater

Dixie Dave Collins of Weedeater

Dixie Dave Collins of Weedeater

Dixie Dave Collins of Weedeater

Saint Vitus:

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Saint Vitus at the Black Cat

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

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