Another Mega Sized Concert Recap

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

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

Beer Eating Contest

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

Scott Hill of Fu Manchu

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

Michelle Temple of Black Skies

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

Mayhem

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

Zoroaster

Black Cobra

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

Kingsnake

Borracho

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

Ilsa

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

DC Metal Spotlight On Metal Underground

I was asked to write a guest post for one of my favorite metal news websites, MetalUnderground.com, and it went live on the site today. They have a weekly column called Unearthing The Metal Underground where each post explores a different area’s underground metal scene. They asked me to write the one about underground metal in Washington DC and let me pick three bands to go into detail about. I chose to write about Ilsa, Midnight Eye and Borracho for this post, however if the post gets a decent response they said they might let me write another about Northern Virginia or Baltimore or even another DC post. So feel free to leave a comment there or share it with people on Facebook or something if you enjoy it and maybe I’ll get to help expose more of our kick ass local acts to a national audience! You can read the post on Metal Underground here:

http://www.metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=72050

Also of note, I had one of my recent videos of Clutch playing a new song at the Red Palace posted on Blabbermouth.net on Saturday, you can check out that post here:

http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=163735

And one more thing, and it’s totally unrelated and is really just shameless promotion hardly related to my site, but some good friends of mine have been in a non-metal rock band for years and I have finally convinced them to play a live gig. I got them booked at the Velvet Lounge this Wednesday, the 28th of September and I certainly recommend checking them out. They hit the stage at 9pm, and are playing with the Megaphone Barons and Electric Grandmother (bands I admittedly don’t know much about). Again, they’re not metal but they are a damn good band, and they have three guitar players! You can check out the event’s Facebook page here but even if you can’t go feel free to check out the Garage Hoppers on Facebook here. Ok, I think that’s enough blatant non-metal promotion for one post. Stay metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!

DCHeavyMetal.com vs Inverted Umlaut

I was fortunate enough to be asked to guest co-host on the Inverted Umlaut pirate radio show/podcast last night for a special on heavy metal in the Washington DC area. DJ Young Padawan was really cool and let me pick the playlist too, which I’ve posted below. The show plays metal every Monday night from 9pm to 11pm on Radio CPR 97.5 FM on the radio dial if you’re in North West DC, or you can stream it from their website here (just click “listen live” on the right). If you missed the show last night don’t worry, they post every episode as a podcast the next day, and you can download the episode I was on by going here. Thanks to everyone who tuned in, I wish I could have played dozens more bands but I still think I got a good mix in the two hours I had. I tried to keep the playlist current and most of the songs are from the past year or two, some haven’t even been officially released yet. Check out the playlist below and feel free to click any of those bands’ names to find out more info on them, get more music from them, etc… Also, several of them are featured in my free local band downloads, which you can find version 1 here and version 2 here. Keep supporting our scene, there’s some great bands out there that are worth taking the time to check out.

Download the podcast here.

Playlist:

Oak – Saline

Pentagram – 8
Pig Destroyer – Loathsome
Animals As Leaders – CAFO

Deceased – The Traumatic
Loculus – Hacked Apart
Fierce Allegiance – Devil’s Knight
Magrudergrind – Incapacity Reigns/Stagnant/Heaviest Bombing

Balor’s Eye – Pissing Rainbows
Ilsa – Frosthrower
The Neologist – A Dress Rehearsal For A Funeral

Auroboros – Precarious
Division – Short Attention Span Society
Apothys – Venomcrest

King Giant – Burning Regrets
Wrnlrd – Moonlight Ride
Orgy Of The Damned – Feces Fiend
Gravewürm – Brought Before The Altar

Borracho – Concentric Circles
Hatred – Red Death

Wolfsschanze – Peering Through The Looking Glass Of Hatred

Metal Marathon – The Final 3 Days

Well this is the final post in my series covering my 11 metal concerts in 9 straight days, aka my Metal Marathon. Friday I finally got my car back so I could actually drive myself around to shows in my own damn vehicle, what a concept. This was good because the last three days of my Metal Marathon would see me going to four concerts that were each in a different venue.

The first show I was headed to was at Firehouse in Fairfax, Virginia to see a little known band from New York City called Meek Is Murder. Their debut album, Algorithms, wasn’t even out yet and I went into this show with no idea of what to expect of them musically. When I got there apparently none of the bands had arrived yet, so there was a bit of down time before the first act started. They were a local grind/experimental act named Gradius, I suppose after the old video game. They opened their set with an instrumental song I liked a lot. They all seemed to switch off doing back ups but the lead singer of the band was their drummer. He kept making faces the entire set while still pumping out some crazy beats and screaming too. They put on a highly energetic set and I didn’t mind the wait so much by the time they were done. Next up was the touring act Meek Is Murder. These guys were really something! I didn’t know what to expect but they played short songs with outbursts of raw brutality with some dissonant parts tying it all together. They seemed to play several songs all back to back and since I was not familiar with their material at all, it was hard to tell where one song ended and the next began, but that was ok, it worked well that way. There weren’t a lot of people there to see these guys, but it didn’t matter, they put on a killer show. The guitarist/vocalist Mike Keller was running around all over the place and at times I thought he might fall into the drum kit. The set ended a bit abruptly but it was certainly the highlight of the night for me. The next band to play was local grind act Drugs Of Faith. I had seen them play before, but the trio had a new bass player since then. Their set was about the same as I had remembered them, typical grind with a political bent. It wasn’t a bad set, but it was pretty hard to go up after Meek Is Murder that night. They did ask who was going out to the Dropdead show the next night in DC, which of course I already had my ticket for.

Saturday the 12th of March I headed to another venue I hadn’t been to before, St Stephen’s Church in Columbia Heights in Washington, DC. The headliner was the famous 80’s vegetarian power violence band Dropdead. Though I knew who they were the real reason I was there was to see some of the excellent local talent that was opening. Ilsa started the show off with a short but powerful set of their death/doom metal sound. It was a bit odd seeing them on such a big stage, but they pulled off their set really nicely. Their vocalist, Orion, still hardly looked at the audience, instead keeping his back to them most of the show. At least he didn’t puke anywhere this time! I’m pretty sure they played the same set on this night as they had when I saw them at the Corpse Fortress a few nights before (read about that here). The next band to play was Richmond’s Cough. They’re a doom band that really just crushes. They’ve got some very slooow parts that are just heavy as hell and they put on a really fun show too, lots of super slow motion headbanging. Great stuff and you like doom you should really check out their latest album, Ritual Abuse, if you haven’t already. The next band to play was a hardcore act that I was totally unfamiliar with named Wasted Time. They sure got the crowd going nuts instantly and there were big mosh pits and stage divers the rest of the night when they played. They weren’t really my thing though, just seemed like standard hardcore that didn’t stand out to me, but I’m no expert on the genre anyways. Apparently there were a few fights at the show during and/or after their set, and before the next band performed a woman who was helping to run the event told everyone that if people were drinking, doing drugs or fighting that shows would not be allowed to continue at the church. Someone else came up and gave a speech about voting for gay rights in Maryland and then finally DC’s best grindcore act, Magrudergrind, hit the stage! I’ve seen them a few times, including at Maryland Deathfest last year, but this was the best set I’ve ever seen them play live. They were even more energetic than usual and the band seemed like they were trying to outdo the audience at being out of control. Vocalist Avi Kulawy even did a stage dive into the crowd at one point (video of that below), eventually getting thrown back onto the stage just in time to start screaming into the mic again. The intensity was broken up once in a while between songs and Avi would talk about political issues, tho he didn’t make anything sound too preachy. In the end it was a great set and my favorite of the night. Next up was Dropdead, who was pretty entertaining but again, not really my thing. The vocalist was constantly moving about on stage and doing things with the mic cord, simulating hanging himself with it and swinging it around like a helicopter over the audience and other things like that. The songs were high energy and the audience seemed to eat it up, but I ended up leaving early to grab a (non-vegetarian) bite to eat.

Sunday the 13th of March 2011 was the ninth and final day of my Metal Marathon, but I had a double header lined up, and this time the venues weren’t just blocks away like they were on the first day in Richmond. First I was going to see Trap Them and Gaza play at Jaxx. The actual headliner for the show was The Red Chord but I didn’t care about seeing them and was going to see Apocalyptica at the 9:30 Club afterwards. The 9:30 Club had two concerts that day too, so the Apocalyptica show’s doors didn’t open til 10pm and there was also an opener. But I’m getting ahead of myself, first I got to Jaxx to see the new band To The Teeth open the show at Jaxx. I’d been meaning to catch these guys and I’m glad I finally got a chance to. Not really sure how I’d define them exactly, sort of a thrashy hardcore band (but not the chugga chugga breakdown kind) with some death metal elements in there too. They were pretty good for such a new band, I look forward to catching them again and recommend them to anyone reading this. The next band was another local act, this time a grind band named In Hell With Traitors. They had three members, a vocalist, a guitar player with fake blood dripping down his face and the drummer/backup vocalist who was wearing some bloody surgeon scrubs. They were ok for grind, they certainly had their violent outbursts and brutal riffs and all, but in the end they didn’t really stand out a whole lot to me. They were a good opener for this show though, and Gaza was up next. Gaza had been on the schedule as the second to last band but I guess Trap Them was going to play after them. Their singer is a very tall and lanky guy who seemed to pace around the stage like a caged daddy long legs. He had a suit tie wrapped around his head and enjoyed making lots of jokes about Christianity between songs. At one point he jumped off the stage without his microphone and walked around, not in the audience but behind them, while yelling out “there is no future in this” over and over. I’m not sure if that’s how one of their songs is supposed to start or if he was just spazzing out, either way it was something I hadn’t seen before. Gaza was good live, but next was the real reason I came to this show, Trap Them. Their latest album, Darker Handcraft, is just totally awesome and one of the best metal albums I’ve heard so far this year. These guys came out with a fire raging that never left during their entire set. They have some kick ass songs with various levels of brutal, catchy and just plain aggressiveness in each one. They were not easy to watch and just stand there and shoot pictures of. I really wanted to be running around smashing shit during their entire set (the Jaxx staff should be glad I was carrying cameras!). Their vocalist, Ryan McKenney was going nuts the entire show and even climbed one of the amp stacks during the set and continued to bark out vocals from up there. The drummer was getting so pumped he’d actually stand up during parts of songs while still playing and never missing a beat. The tunes were great, the performance was great and the energy was awesome, this was definitely one of the best sets I saw on my entire Metal Marathon. Sometimes you get lucky and catch a band when they’re at their peak both performance wise and with their material, and this was one of those concerts. When they finished I resisted the urge to run down the street kicking trash cans and instead headed out to get some food and then made my way to the 9:30 Club.

I got to the 9:30 Club a bit later than I wanted, but I still found great parking right by the venue and got my photo pass set and went into the show before they started playing. There was a three song limit for the photo passes, which means us ‘pro’ photographers have to be out of the photo pit when the third song is over. That’s kind of annoying but I think I got some great shots anyways. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen Apocalyptica so I had an idea of what to expect, a cello based band that plays metal covers as well as some original material (some with a vocalist, some without) and a few classical pieces as well. This show’s setlist was just that, with the original material focusing on the latest album, 7th Symphony, and a few singles. They had a different guy singing for them now, and there were only three guys playing cellos, they had four when I’d seen them in May of 2008. The band is nothing if not showmen, and they love posing for the audience as well as throwing their hair around like a helicopter, picking their cellos up over their heads and various other things to really get the crowd going. The main thing I’ve always liked about these guys are their covers. They played three by Metallica and two by Sepultura. It was funny how the audience all sang along to Apocalyptica’s version of the Metallica song One yet when they played the next song, Refuse/Resist by Sepultura, everyone seemed to stare blankly, haha. The show was entertaining, even during their original songs, which are the ones I tend to be the least interested in. After getting kicked out of the photo pit I shot several videos (Apocalyptica is one of those cool bands that doesn’t mind fans shooting video of them at the 9:30 Club) and I even shot their entire encore set, which you can see below. The show ended late but it was a great way to end my 11 metal concerts in 9 days Metal Marathon. My car broke down, I hitched rides to other cities, but I still made it to every show! I hope you guys have enjoyed it as much as I have on this adventure, it really was a fun experience not just going to all the concerts, but meeting people and overcoming the shit life throws at you to get to every concert. Perhaps I’ll do another one sometime, but until then you can enjoy these selected videos from the final three days of my Metal Marathon. If you like the photos scattered throughout this entry you can find more of those on my Flickr page, I even made a special set just for the Metal Marathon concerts here and I’ve got a lot more videos on my YouTube page here. I’m a bit behind on my reviews and calendar right now, but keep an eye out for an Agalloch concert review next. Stay metal everyone!

Metal Marathon – Days 4, 5 and 6

Ok, so my Metal Marathon posts are a bit behind, but I’m still going to recap them because the shows I saw during those 9 days were just too damn good. This is my second of three posts covering the 11 concerts and I’m going to recap the metal concerts I went to from Tuesday, March 8th 2011 through Thursday March 10th in this post. Three great shows, especially considering they were all in the middle of the work week.

On Tuesday I borrowed a friend’s car and drove to Silver Spring after work to catch a DIY show at the Corpse Fortress. The touring band was Earthling and they were playing with Baltimore based Revolta and the DC band Spine Buster. There was also a surprise set by Ilsa at the end of the night. Spine Buster had just started their set when I got there, and they were pretty entertaining but Harrisonburg, Virginia’s Earthling came out and just shredded for their entire set. They played what must have been the longest set of the night and it was high energy and just a lot of fun to be there for. I hope they play around here again because they really are worth seeing again. If you don’t believe me check out the thrashtastic video I’ve got of them at the bottom of this post. The video quality sucks visually but the audio is great and it’s a killer song! The next band to play was Revolta, a sort of punkish thrash band from Baltimore. I’d seen them a few weeks before at the Candlehaus with Fatal, though they had another guitarist then. Their set seemed a bit short this time, I think there were outside time constraints going on that were made worse since Ilsa was still yet to play. Ilsa did play a good but short set, I think it was basically a practice for their show coming up on Saturday opening for Dropdead (more on that show in my next post). I’m not sure why, but the band’s vocalist, Orion, started puking all over the floor at the end of the set. You gotta admit that it’s pretty damn metal to be barfing your guts out, mic in hand, while your band plays. I’m really glad that I wasn’t the one who had to clean that mess up! In all the show was a lot of fun and the venue was really laid back, even for a house show, and I got to talk to a lot of great people all night between sets. It was really a fun atmosphere and a great experience for my first show at the Corpse Fortress.

The next show on my list was Rotting Christ and Melechesh on Wednesday the 9th of March at Jaxx. If you go to a lot of metal shows in the DC area you’re going to find yourself at Jaxx sooner or later and fittingly this was the only venue I’d be at twice during my Metal Marathon. Some people complain about various aspects of the venue but at the end of the day, they are the only place in this area that will play any number of international metal bands and if it wasn’t for them I’d surely have seen a lot less of my favorite bands from Europe and even farther away. This night was a perfect example of this fact when the Greek band Rotting Christ headlined a show with Israel’s Melechesh. Two great black metal acts that happen to not be from Scandinavia. The tour also features the Polish black metal act Hate but they weren’t able to make it to this gig, the first show of the tour. When I got there Melechesh was getting ready to play and I quickly secured a spot in the very front. These guys are one of my favorite bands these days and I was really excited to get to see them again. They had played their first US concert ever at last year’s Maryland Deathfest (my extensive recap of that is here) and this night’s show at Jaxx was going to be their second US show. Their set at MDF had been cut short and they had a new album out since then too, so this concert’s set was longer and featured new material too. Simply put, they hit the stage and just killed it. Yeah I’m pretty biased about these guys but even most of the people I talked to afterwards said they also thought Melechesh had put on the better show. Their sound is certainly black metal but with a distinct middle eastern bent and they have some really catchy riffs that really make the sound work. That all said, Rotting Christ didn’t put on a bad show by any means. Their set was heavy with a lot of songs from their latest album, Aealo, which is ok but I think their album previous to that, Theogonia is the best of their 20+ year career. They did play several songs from that too, but the last time I saw them they were touring in support of that album and the setlist was just superior. They didn’t play much of their older material though. I was hoping they’d play some of their classics like Under The Name Of Legion and Sorrowful Farewell but I guess they’re trying to appeal more to their newer fans. I enjoyed the material they did play and combined with the set by Melechesh would say this show was definitely worth the price of admission.

Thursday the 10th of March was the sixth day of my nine day Metal Marathon and since my car was in the shop I found myself in need of a ride to see Atheist play at Sonar in Baltimore. Luckily one of my readers, a really cool guy named James (who I’ve run into at a few shows now after this night) gave me a lift in the pouring rain up to Charm City. This show was a bit of an odd line up. While I was there to see Atheist and catch opening act Revocation, I didn’t care about some of the metalcore opening acts, A Life Once Lost or Last Chance To Reason. This show was the first time I’d seen Revocation and they certainly come from the Galder school of on stage facial expressions. They were making all kinds of faces during their highly energetic set. I’d heard they were a good band live but even so I didn’t expect them to be that entertaining. They also played a cover of the Death classic Pull The Plug which is always a good way to get extra points from me. My only problem with their set was that they weren’t the last support act for Atheist. After they played A Life Once Lost hit the stage. I wasn’t familiar with their material but it seemed to be pretty typical metalcore, which I’m not a fan of and after a couple songs I’d heard enough and found my way to the bar for a beer I’d gladly enjoy out in the hall. After some good conversations out there, I went back in while Atheist was setting up to get right up front for taking some pictures. Atheist is a progressive technical death metal jazz fusion band. Yeah, that’s quite a description but pretty much sums them up. They were around in the late 80s/early 90s Florida death metal scene but broke up in 1994. They reunited in 2006 with guitarist Kelly Shaeffer sticking to just the vocals because he was unable to continue playing guitar due to some medical issues. I saw them play at Jaxx in July of 2009 but this time they had an album of new material, their first in 17 years, and this was the first tour that they’d be playing any of the new songs live. Luckily the new album, Jupiter, kicks ass and fits in with their older songs perfectly. The set was pretty awesome except for two things really, they skipped over Mother Man which was on the setlist, and their final song, Piece Of Time, was totally screwy due to technical difficulties. Those are my two favorite Atheist songs so that kinda sucked, but otherwise the show was great. They have a unique sound that fans of either technical heavy metal or jazz will enjoy, not just people who are fans of both. The band is really tight live and it sure is fun watching them play those kick ass tunes in person. The audience begged for an encore but guitarist Chris Baker came out on stage and said they couldn’t because of the technical difficulties they were having. Sort of a shitty way to end the night but what else could they do?

Well, that’s what I did on days four, five and six of my nine day Metal Marathon. You can read about the Metal Marathon plan here or about the concerts I saw on the first three days here. My next post will be covering the four concerts I went to in the final three days. So stay tuned to hear about my impressions on concerts by Meek Is Murder, Dropdead, Trap Them and Apocalyptica in my next post. Until then you can check out some of the videos I shot over days four, five and six of the Metal Marathon below or go to my YouTube page to see all of them. You can also check out my Flickr set here that has pics I’ve posted from this awesome string of concerts.

Review of Ilsa gig at Hole In The Sky

Sunday night, the 9th of January, I got to see my first metal show of 2011. The show was local death/doom band Ilsa playing with the lo-fi doom duo Olde Growth from Boston. There was another opening act, a new local band named Spirals but I didn’t get there in time to see them. I’d never been to this DIY venue in DC, Hole In The Sky, which just started hosting concerts in June of 2010. They seem to get more shows that are punk and hardcore, but they do get some metal too. Ilsa is a band that seems to bring metal to people who aren’t really the typical metal head. The audience was different than what you’d see at a typical Jaxx show, but a fan of metal is a friend of mine. The set up was interesting, you have to walk down an alley to find the front door which is rather nondescript, a small wooden sign above it lets you know you’ve found the right place. You go up a dark flight of stairs and open another door and you’re in what is basically the large common area of an apartment. Instead of a lot of furniture, they’ve got a nice open space set up in the corner for bands to play. The walls are covered in spray paint and other designs, and there’s a corner with a place to hang bicycles. They also have an outdoor rooftop that people can smoke on, but I didn’t spend a lot of time out there cause it was cold as shit. It’s probably much nicer in the summer though. There were a couple of the local neighborhood kids who had wandered in and were running around underfoot for a bit, even playing with some of the instruments between bands. A small table with merch was set up too. Someone came around asking for $5 donations to the show, but the exchange was very friendly. The place was pretty welcoming really, and while I didn’t really know anyone there, I did find a few people to strike up conversations with.

The first band to play was named Spirals, but as I said before they had finished playing by the time I got there. Olde Growth was setting up when I walked in, and I didn’t really know anything about them. Usually at these DIY shows there’s at least one touring band, and a couple local acts to help draw people to the show. Most of the money collected goes to the touring bands, even though the local acts tend to get the better draw. This might seem unfair, but ideally they are trying to help pay for those bands to tour, so people can see bands they wouldn’t normally get to, and ideally the local bands will be able to use the same network when they want to play in other cities. This show was no different, and since I didn’t know anything about Olde Growth other than what the flyer stated I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wouldn’t call them the best band I’ve ever seen but they were worth getting there early enough to watch. They are a very bassy doom duo. Their songs weren’t overly complex, but they did have a sort of epic feel to them. They really brought the tempo down to a crawl but still managed to bring things back up. The set seemed really short though, maybe the songs were long so it seemed that way, but I think they only played about four songs total. Still, it was a pretty entertaining set and they were a good act to play with Ilsa.

Ilsa was playing last, and they were the main reason I was there, and you could tell by the size of the audience that I wasn’t the only one with that sentiment. I’d been meaning to catch them for a while, glad I finally got a chance to. They’re called a death/doom metal band, but I think they’re more on the doom side of that with some sludge in there too. Whatever they are, they’re really heavy. They’ve made a name for themselves in the local DC scene, though they seem to be known more in the world of local hardcore fans than the typical metal circles. I think that’s starting to change as their latest album, Tutti il Colori del Buio, is starting to get noticed, and for good reason. The show was a bit different than their studio work. The songs are a bit dirtier sounding, and a bit more energetic live. The cleaner studio production gives way to a more raw vibe, and honestly I thought it was great. Plus really feeling that heavy distortion shake through you is just something ya don’t get from a recording. I enjoyed the songs that I recognized as well as the older material from their first album, which I don’t know. And while half the band had their backs to the audience most of the show, the crowd seemed pretty mesmerized by the performance. Really it’s not so much about the band’s stage presence as the sheer crushing sound they produce. Ilsa finished their set but they were talked into playing another song before calling it a night, which was pretty cool of them. It was a good show and I’m glad I made it out to see them play. They’re a great local metal act and I can’t wait to see them again, it was a hell of a lot of fun. If you haven’t seen them yet you should, they’re quickly becoming one of DC’s must see acts. I did get a few videos, posted below, one of Olde Growth and three of Ilsa, but they’re all pretty dark. The audio is decent, but Charred Resistors should have the audio from the entire show posted soon. I’ve got more pics on my Flickr page too. It was a great way to start off my year of metal concerts, a cool local act I’ve been meaning to check out in a venue I’ve never been to before. Lets hope the rest of 2011 is as fun.