Recap of January 2013 Concerts

Welcome to part two of this three part series attempting to catch up on my concert reviews of all the shows I’ve been going to this winter. For this installment I’ll be covering all the metal shows I went to in January. You can read part one, which covers late November and December 2012, by clicking here. And remember, if you’d like to see more of any of the bands in the photos below, just click the image.

The first concert I went to in 2013 was when I saw Swaath on Sunday, January 6th at a new venue in Baltimore called Club K. The venue seems to normally host DJ dance nights. It is attached to a small Korean restaurant and while the space isn’t fancy, it doesn’t even have a stage, it works fine for the DIY punk, hardcore and metal shows they have started to book there. The walls are painted with neon patterns and random zebra images and there are four TVs hanging from the center of the room in the shape of a square that are tuned to some Korean TV channel. There’s a dance party style spinning ball that projects different color lights hanging from that and it never seems to turn off. The beer at the bar is pretty cheap, but nothing a beer snob would want to drink. It’s basically a dive bar mixed with an Asian dance club. Anyways, I drove up to Baltimore to Swaath play. They’re a new sludge band that is from Portland, Maine, but they weren’t the first band of the night. That was Baltimore locals Barbelith. They’re a black metal band and while they didn’t have a bass player and could be a bit tighter they had some cool songs and were pretty good overall. The second band was some hardcore band from Philadelphia named Congenital Death. I wasn’t very interested in them as I’m not much of a hardcore fan, While there are some exceptions they just weren’t unique enough for me to really get into. After they played it was time for Swaath and they didn’t disappoint. They play a sort of atmospheric sludge metal with some stoner and doom aspects thrown in too. I really enjoyed their set and it was def worth the drive up. The final band of the night was another Baltimore local, Ophidian. They weren’t bad though going on after such a strong set can be tough. Plus being a local and going on after the touring band meant a lot of people left after Swaath played. I hope I get to see them in a better setting next time.

Barbelith:

Swaath:

Ophidian:

Two nights later, Tuesday the 8th, I headed over to the Black Cat in Washington DC to check out Jucifer on the venue’s smaller back stage. I missed local openers LTW but I’m sure I’ll catch them again as they open a lot of shows these days. Jucifer is a duo made up of husband and wife Edgar Livengood and Amber Valentine. They tour around the country in their RV with no permanent address. They’re basically always on tour. They’re known for having extremely loud shows due to the wall of speakers they bring with them, which were stacked to the ceiling at the Black Cat this night. I’ve seen them play before but this set went on longer than usual, lasting around 90 minutes! Their fuzzy set went through hazy highs and rumbling lows and even had some quiet parts. You get sucked in early and after a while you just find yourself absorbed into their show as though you’re staring into the obelisk in A Space Odyssey. As a side note, I actually met my girlfriend for the first time at a Jucifer show at the Black Cat a few years back and while that wasn’t a date or something, we sort of see their annual early January shows as something of an anniversary. Because of that I decided to relax a bit at this show and I didn’t bring my camera, so I don’t have any photos of Jucifer from this show, however I’ve posted a shot I took of them at a previous show below.

Jucifer:

The following weekend I saw a DIY show at The Lab in Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday the 12th. The Lab is basically a rec room for some church but it has a nice stage and it holds a decent amount of people. I missed the opening band but to my understanding they aren’t a metal band at all but play some sort of electronic loops and such. The first band I caught was Grethor, a Northern Virginia based melodic death metal band. I had seen their drummer, Anthony Rouse, play with the now defunct Orgy Of The Damned. They had some cool songs but you could tell their frontman, Marcus Lawrence, was pretty new to this as he didn’t engage the audience much spoke in almost a whisper between songs. Still, that’s something that can be worked on. The next band to play was Cammo Shorts, a grind band from Manassas, Virginia that doesn’t have a drummer. The three piece was pretty damn entertaining with lots of funny song titles such as My Cammo Shorts, Your Girlfriend’s Floor and LSD Cures Cancer. They covered the Pantera song Good Friends And A Bottle Of Pills which was probably the catchiest song of their set. They were good though a real drummer instead of just programmed beats from a laptop would probably fill their sound out more. Still, they were my second favorite of the five bands I saw that night. The next band to play was Acrid, a three piece death/grind band from Hagerstown, Maryland. While they had an actual drummer these guys lacked a bass player and honestly I think it really made their sound suffer. I’d heard their music online and I actually thought that sounded a lot better than they did live. Maybe it was just an off night? I dunno. The fourth band I saw that night, tentatively named Lucid Dream (until the band members agree on something better, apparently) was more of a rock band than anything. I liked what I heard but unfortunately their set was marred with several technical difficulties, including one of their amp heads crapping out. They asked if anybody in one of the other bands had one they could borrow, but apparently everyone from the other bands was outside. This lead to an increased delay as they looked to find someone that could help them. They finally played another song then abruptly ended their disjointed set. The final band of the night, and the main reason I came out to this show, was Fortress, a doom metal band from Hagerstown, Maryland. Let me just say that these guys were very fucking impressive live. Absolutely epic, crushing, heavy doom. Very loud, very intense, at times very slow but they knew just when to pick up the pace to keep it from getting boring. They put one one of the best performances I’ve seen from a DMV area metal band in quite some time. I was literally blown away and I know I wasn’t the only person in attendance who thought so. I cannot stress this enough: if you ever get the chance, GO SEE THIS BAND PLAY LIVE!

Grethor:

Cammo Shorts:

Acrid:

Lucid Dream:

Fortress:

I didn’t get to another metal show until 12 days later, on Tuesday the 24th of January. That night I went to DC9 in the U Street corridor of Washington DC and saw the so called super group Corrections House play. The band is Scott Kelly of Neurosis fame on guitar, Bruce Lamont of Chicago’s jazz influenced metal band Yakuza, Sanford Parker who plays keyboards in Nachtmystium, and Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod is the frontman. The opening act was Tone, a DC based instrumental rock band. They not really very metal but they’re not bad if you like instrumental bands. Corrections House has a sort of weird live set up and the band doesn’t just come out and start playing. Instead each member gets a segment to do a bit of solo material, and various other members come in and duck out at various points. They also all wear the same black button down shirts with the Corrections House logo embroidered on the sleeves. Their entire set was about 80 minutes long, although the first 20 minutes were just Sanford Parker looping drum beats and playing samples. A such, I didn’t particularly enjoy the start of the set. It did get better when Bruce Lamont came in with his sax though that only lasted five minutes or so before Mike IX Williams started reading some of his poetry. The high point of the show was definitely when the entire band was performing together. Their sound had a very improvy feel to it but they all seemed to work pretty well together for the most part. Corrections House was unpolished though and Mike IX Williams had to read the lyrics because I guess he hadn’t memorized them yet. About an hour into the set Scott Kelly broke a guitar string and ended up borrowing one from someone in Tone. I didn’t know what I was getting into with this show, and it did take a bit to start rolling, however once they all got in synch together I thought the show was really entertaining and I certainly don’t regret going. I’m curious how they will sound in the studio if they ever record anything.

Corrections House:

Corrections House:

Corrections House:

Two nights later, on Saturday, January 26th, I was at Empire (formerly Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia for the long awaited return of local southern metal masters King Giant. Due to an injury in the band they hadn’t played since early 2012. They had a show scheduled in November to be a return to the stage but due to another injury to someone else in the band that date was pushed back until this night in January. King Giant always draws well, and this night wasn’t any different, though I know the fact that Graveyard was playing at the Black Cat the same night had to have affected the attendance at both shows somewhat. I’d have liked to have seen both but since I saw Graveyard at DC9 last year and I always like to support locals I decided to go to see King Giant. When I got there Richmond’s Fire Faithful was setting up. They’re a southern/stoner band but I wasn’t very impressed with their show. The crowd was still pretty thin when they hit the stage and perhaps that had something to do with it but they didn’t have much energy on stage at all. Their songs weren’t interesting enough be able to pull me in while hearing them the first time so some stage presence really would have helped. I liked the vocalist’s Windhand shirt though. Next up was Kingsnake from Philadelphia. I had seen them about a year prior at the Velvet Lounge and so I decided to hang back a bit and I didn’t get photos of them this time. Kingsnake is a very solid blue-collar metal band with some cool licks. Aside from their coincidentally similar names, they’re actually really a great opening act for King Giant as they have a very similar style without sounding redundant. Finally King Giant made the stage. There was a lot of fog this time and I was glad to finally see them playing live again. The place was pretty crowded by this point and you could tell all the members of King Giant were having fun playing in front of so many friends and family. At one point a bunch of people in the crowd all came out with fake handlebar mustachios in parody of King Giant’s bass player Floyd Walters and his iconic ‘stache. It really was a fun show and although King Giant’s sophomore album, Dismal Hollow, came out in early 2012 the songs from it still sounded pretty fresh since they hadn’t been played in a while. The show was a great welcome back to the stage for these guys. If you’re a fan of southern sounding bands like Down, Clutch and Alabama Thunderpussy then do yourself a favor and check this band out. They’ve got some great riffs you’ll get stuck in your head and songs that will stand the test of time. This isn’t some throwback band, they’re doing their thing and doing it damn well. King Giant is certainly one of the DC area’s best local metal bands and if you’re in this area and you’re sleeping on them then you’re fucking up big time.

Fire Faithful:

King Giant:

The sixth and final metal show that I went to in January 2013 was on the the last day of the month, Thursday the 31st. I traveled up to Baltimore to see Enslaved play at the Ottobar. When I got there the band Royal Thunder was playing, who, as stated in my previous post, I had just seen at DC9 the month prior. However this time they were missing their second guitarist and their sound was a bit thin because of it. Still, they put on a decent show and I thought they were a good prelude to the band I wanted to see the most this night, Pallbearer. Pallbearer is the hottest band in doom metal right now. Their debut album, Sorrow And Extinction, was released in February 2012 and is nothing short of excellent. The Arkansas based quartet plays some very downtuned, very slow songs with clean vocals. Unlike the clean vocals you hear from power metal bands that soar over the songs (think Dio and Iron Maiden), vocalist Brett Campbell has a very solemn and pain filled tone to his voice. These songs are often very slow and they take some patience to absorb, but there’s a reason that their album ended up in the top spot on many critics’ year end lists for 2012. This night they were very loud, even for a metal band. So loud that they were actually vibrating my camera’s lens enough to make it lose focus while I was trying to shoot them! The singer seemed to be having trouble hearing himself though and that made his voice sound a bit off. The audience was rewarded with a brand new song at the end of their set however and it crushed! I hear this song will be on an upcoming split from the band. After they played it was time for Enslaved, one of the old second wave black metal bands from Norway that has now turned into a progressive metal band. Personally, I liked the band the most when they were in that sort of transitional phase between being a black metal band and a prog band. They were unique then. They were this second wave band that actually learned how to play and wrote unique songs that were a blend of black and prog metals. Now they’re basically a progressive metal band and while they don’t write bad songs they just aren’t as interesting to me anymore. There’s other prog bands out there that are more interesting to me I guess. Enslaved’s live show was alright but having seen the set list I knew they’d play for about two hours, which was a bit long for me. Their set was plagued by technical difficulties which drained my patience and about an hour or so in I decided to start the long drive home. Unfortunately I got stuck in construction traffic which closed 95 South for a good 45 minutes so I should have just stayed longer! Oh well, I’m sure I’ll see Enslaved again, hopefully a bit closer to home if it’s on a week night.

Pallbearer:

Enslaved:

Well, thanks for reading this big recap of the metal shows I saw in January 2013. I hope to have my post covering February 2013 up next week, then I should be about caught up. Stay metal everyone and remember to support the scene you’re a part of!

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

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

Heritage Hunter Tour At The Fillmore Silver Spring Concert Review

Wednesday the 9th of May 2012 was a rainy day in the Washington, DC area, perfect weather for a mid-week, indoor concert. The Heritage Hunter Heritage Hunter TourTour brought the impressive line up of Opeth, Mastodon and Ghost to the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, that night and I finally got a chance to check out this venue. The venue itself has some pretty cool art and design on the walls, the collage of upcoming (and past) concert posters around the main floor’s elevator was pretty cool looking, and the paintings in the stairways were trippy to say the least. The venue is laid out similar to the 9:30 Club with a second floor that is cut out so you can view the stage from that level. This was my biggest problem with the venue however, as the lines of sight on the second floor were not good at all unless you were on the rail, and even then they weren’t great. They had some concrete ledge/steps sort of like at the 9:30 Club, however they are so far back that you cannot watch the show from there at all, and I’m over six feet tall so it isn’t like I’m just too short. This was one of the few poor design choices I found at the venue and luckily this show wasn’t sold out because that would leave a lot of people wishing they could see. There is a VIP section with seats and tables on the second floor as well, and these ring the second floor’s edge, though they certainly block the view for regular ticket holders. I guess that’s an option if you Fillmore Artwant to be sure you get a good view, however something seems just wrong to me about paying extra so you can sit down to watch a metal show. They had several working bars around the place, even the basement bathrooms and coat check, with no view of the stage upstairs, had a fully stocked bar. The venue’s sound wasn’t bad at all and the stage lights were really great, particularly during the first two sets. They have a food menu (see it here) which even has multiple vegetarian options. The bar’s prices aren’t any better than at the 9:30 Club. Alcohol prices weren’t posted anywhere, I’d assume to get people to not realize how much they’re spending until they get the bill at the end of the night. To give you an idea of their prices, I saw a bottle of Heineken poured into a cup for $7 before tip. Anyways, enough about the venue, let’s get to the bands.

The mysterious band Ghost was the opening act for the night. Their last stop in the area was a sold out show at the Rock & Roll Hotel on January 19th and the lead vocalist, Papa Emeritus, sounded very poor then and Papa Emeritus of Ghostcouldn’t hit his high notes. This wasn’t a problem at the Fillmore show at all and the band performed very well. Ghost is a very dramatic band on stage with Papa Emeritus making all kinds of poses that, as a photographer, are totally fun to shoot. Ghost’s theatrics also made them well suited to the bigger stage and the excellent lighting rig the Fillmore provides. Ghost really put on a great show and the 30 minute set seemed to fit them well as they played most of Opus Eponymous, their debut album and only release, in that time.

The second band to play that night was Mastodon, who is probably the biggest band from Georgia centralized sludge metal scene. They were Troy Sanders of Mastodonco-headlining this tour with Opeth, apparently alternating which band headlined each night and this night we had Opeth playing last. I’ll be honest with you here and admit I’ve never been a huge fan of Mastodon, though on this night it seemed like their set’s focus on their latest album, The Hunter, didn’t go over that great with most of the audience either. They played the 9:30 Club back on November 27th to promote this album already, so you’d think they could have changed up their set list a bit by now. Midway through their set it just seemed like more of the same and you could tell people were waiting to hear the classic songs that made them fall in love with the band. When they finally started playing some of their older material the crowd really got into the show, but by then they were wrapping up their set. Kind of a downer to end that way but at least they weren’t the last band playing that night.

The final band to perform was the Swedish progressive metal band Opeth. Well, they are certainly starting to lean further away from being a true “metal” band though they do still put on a good show. Their set list wasn’t much Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opethdifferent from the one they played at Rams Head Live in Baltimore back on November 1st, although this time there was no legendary Bloodbath performance to end the night. They did play a shorter set this time as well, only about an hour and fifteen minutes long, though honestly that was probably a good amount. Opeth’s set list also weighed heavy on their latest album, Heritage, which is a bit controversial among fans because it only has clean vocal singing with no guttural growling. This takes an element away from their songs, and thus the live show, as one of Opeth’s strengths has always been the seamless weaving of the lighter and heavier aspects of progressive metal. In fact, I’d say their manipulation of dynamic contrast is a large part of the band’s overall appeal and one of the things that makes their sound unique. Even so, Opeth writes very good songs and it’s not like they simply suck now, it just seems like something is missing. This was really notable when they played Demon Of The Fall, one of the few older songs they performed, which I thought was their best song of the night. That was the Opeth I wanted to see. Those days seem to be coming to a close and at the end of their set I still just wanted to hear them play Bleak.

In all the show was a lot of fun for me. I thought all the bands were relying too heavily on their latest output (I suppose Ghost can get a pass since they only have one release) especially considering they had all played the area to promote those albums. I’m not saying the bands shouldn’t play new material, but throw your fans a few bones here! At the end of the show I saw a curious thing, the staff at the Fillmore was handing out tickets, for free, to see the Saints & Sinners Tour with Emmure as well as tickets to see Meshuggah, Baroness and Decapitated, both of which will be at the Fillmore later this month. Perhaps they aren’t selling that well, I don’t know, but that was kind of cool. During Opeth’s last song I headed outside to hand out flyers for DCHeavyMetal.com. Several people tried to speak to me but in the flood of people walking by, and with my hands full of flyers, I simply didn’t have time to to talk. I didn’t want to come off as “too cool” or something and usually I love chatting with fans of the site so the next time you see me be sure to say hi.A Nameless Ghoul of Ghost Also, if you like the photos I shot in this review you can see the rest of my photos from this show, including shots of the set lists, on my Flickr page here (some of my photos were also used in a review of the show written by Catherine Lewis for DCist here). Until next time, stay metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!

Review of Cavalera Conspiracy gig at the Rock And Roll Hotel

I was excited to see the Cavalera Conspiracy play the Rock & Roll Hotel on H Street in Washington DC on Wednesday the 12th of October 2011. The Cavalera brothers, Max and Igor, were founding members of one of my favorite bands when I was growing up, Sepultura. Sepultura, the Portuguese word for grave, formed in Belo Horizante, Brazil, in the early 80’s and by the mid-90’s they had become one of the biggest metal bands in the world. They arose from nothing to sell millions of records, and while the band changed their musical style several times I always enjoyed their material. That is until Max Cavalera left the band in December of 1996. He started his own band, Soulfly, which I never cared a whole lot for. Igor continued on with Sepultura for another 10 years (during that time he was not on speaking terms with his brother Max) though their output simply wasn’t as high quality nor interesting without Max. When Igor left Sepultura in 2006 he began talking to Max again and eventually they decided to form a new band. They were originally to be called Inflikted but even with the alternate spelling another band had already taken the name. They decided Cavalera Conspiracy at the Rock & Roll Hotelto rename the band as Cavalera Conspiracy and title their first album Inflikted. I thought the album was great, however I thought their second album, this year’s Blunt Force Trauma, wasn’t as good though it does have a few songs that stand out. I knew this concert would feature a mix of some Sepultura songs as well as their own material and I was really psyched. The Cavalera Conspiracy has played Baltimore a couple times, but for various reasons I couldn’t get to those shows. I hadn’t seen the Cavalera brothers play together since their last US tour with Sepultura in 1996 and to say I was fired up for this show is a bit of an understatement.

The concert started at 7:30 but I wasn’t interested in seeing any of the opening bands, Otep, Earth Crisis and local support act An Obscure Signal. Luckily I walked into the Rock And Roll Hotel right as the Cavalera Conspiracy was taking the stage, perfect timing. There weren’t as many people as I had expected at this show, maybe about 200. This was their Igor Cavalera of the Cavalera Conspiracyfirst ever DC appearance people! Anyways, the main thing I noticed about this show was that the sound SUCKED. This was probably the worst sound mix I’ve ever heard at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Now maybe it sounded better by the soundboard, as is often the case with clubs, but this was a metal show dammit. We push to get up front and mosh and go nuts up by the band, not stand in the back staring at our feet wondering why nobody loves me like it’s some hipster band. I get the feeling they had someone who isn’t familiar with mixing heavy metal bands just come in and jack up the bass because, y’know, it’s a metal band. At first I was watching the show on the right side of the stage and I couldn’t even hear the other guitarist, Marc Rizzo. Midway through the set I shifted to the left side of the stage which was better but still not great. All of the videos I shot (you can see them at the bottom of this post) were taken from that area, and you still can’t hear Rizzo’s guitars very well. The high ends were almost completely washed out in the mix, it was terrible. Luckily I know most of their songs, and all of the Sepultura songs, well enough to fill in parts in my head.

While I had a fun time at the show, Max seemed a bit out of it. When the band was playing Sepultura’s classic song Territory, he walked off stage and into the dressing room for about a minute. He came back Max Cavalera of the Cavalera Conspiracytowards the end of the song and finished it up with the band. However most of the night he seemed a bit, I dunno, like he was mostly just going through the motions maybe. Marc Rizzo was having a blast and just exuded energy, Igor was smiling at the audience between most songs and even the band’s bass player, Johny Chow, looked really excited to be there. Max may very well have been sick though, the band canceled their New York City show the following night, though I haven’t seen an official reason as to why. Regardless, it was cool seeing the Cavalera brothers back in action together and hearing them play some old Sepultura songs. They even played Troops Of Doom from their first album in 1986! There was also a sort of mash up medley of Arise and Dead Embryonic Cells. Sadly, they didn’t play anything from the Beneath The Remains or Schizophrenia albums. The song selection of their non-Sepultura material was pretty good as well. The early part of the set included a lot of songs I would just call ok off their latest album, however they did play some of my favorites like Sanctuary and I Speak Hate later in the set. Max did constantly insist to the crowd to fuck the place up and mosh, and most of the time the crowd obeyed however the strongest audience reactions were for the Sepultura covers. At one point Max introduced some guy Cavalera Conspiracy at the Rock & Roll Hotelnamed Richie and said he was a new member of the Cavalera Conspiracy family, and the guy did the vocals for one song. I have no idea who he was but he was tending the merch booth after the show. After playing for about an hour the band walked off stage to do the encore, and it seemed like they were waiting for the crowd to start chanting but it resulted in a sort of awkward state for a minute or two. Cavalera Conspiracy has far too many syllables for an audience to chant in unison and some people were looking around confused about if the show was over. The band did come back to play two more songs though, the final song being Roots Bloody Roots.

After the show Marc Rizzo came out and took tons of pictures with any fans that wanted one. I spoke with him for a couple minutes and he said Marc Rizzo of the Cavalera Conspiracyhe wants to come back with his solo act soon. If you’ve never heard his solo material you really should, it’s a bizarre hybrid of metal guitar shred and flamenco style guitar that would probably sound like shit if anyone else tried to pull it off. His technical prowess really makes it work and his transitions are seamless. He has a few albums but I think The Ultimate Devotion is his best if you’re interested in checking his solo stuff out. Anyways, in all I had a fun time at the show but due to the poor mix it still left me wanting to see them again soon, hopefully in a better setting. It was still really cool getting to see the Cavalera brothers play together again, something a few years ago I would have never thought possible. There’s just something I love about Igor’s very primal and tribal style of drumming combined with Max’s pissed off, revolutionary vocals and guitars that will keep me a fan of theirs for life. I can tell this is going to be one of those shows where I now go and listen to a bunch of their back catalog for the rest of the week. If you’d like to see more of my photos from this show, check them out on my Flickr site here. And if you’d like to hear how shitty the sound was at the venue, just watch the videos that I shot below.