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.

Metal Marathon – The First 3 Days

Well it’s Tuesday the 8th as I write this, and I’ve been to four metal shows in the last three days. I saw two metal fests in Richmond on Saturday, the Virginia Extreme Metal Festival at the Canal Club and A Rockin Massacre at Alley Katz, both are just blocks away and I walked back and forth between them all day. Sunday I headed up to Bourbon Street to see Cradle Of Filth and Monday night I was at the Metal Mondays/La Noche De Metal weekly metal spotlight at So Addictive Lounge in Herndon, Virginia. With seven more concerts in the next six days (starting tonight!), I just don’t have the time now to do full reviews of these shows, but here’s some highlights of my metal adventures the past three days.

As I mentioned in my last post, my car is not sounding good and Monday morning I brought it to the mechanic for what is going to be at least a few days worth of work (ugh!). Because it has been sounding bad, I got myself a ride down to Richmond on Saturday with the very cool Clinton Eickelberg, the bass player of local thrash act Death Penalty. His band was playing the Rockin Massacre at Alley Katz that afternoon so we left early to get there in time for the bands to load in. Everyone seemed to get there a bit late due to traffic but I think everything started pretty much to schedule at Alley Katz at least. The first band of the day I wanted to see was Loculus. They’re a pretty sick death metal band from Northern Virginia and they were playing second at the Canal Club. Their drummer is the new drummer for the legendary Pentagram, and their bass player will be touring with Wretched this spring, but that’s not what makes them cool. Their brutal death metal assault on the ears is! They played a tight but short set and when they finished I found myself headed up the street to catch Death Penalty who were just starting. Their set was pretty much the same as when they played at the State Theatre with King Giant in January (my review of that is here), though this time when they played a cover of Iron Maiden‘s The Trooper they had Nina Osegueda of A Sound Of Thunder doing vocals with them. After they played I headed back down to the Canal Club and talked with a few people and watched a few random bands. The schedule for the Virginia Extreme Metal Fest was not the same order as they had posted, so it was a bit crazy catching the bands I wanted to see. I ended up missing Ethereal Genocide, who I wanted to see, but I got to check out Hatred again at least. Then I saw a band called Blood Tribe which was a sort of metalcore band I didn’t have much interest in. I headed back up to Alley Katz after that and watched the last few bands there, A Sound Of Thunder, Chopper Trike Rebels and Division. A Sound Of Thunder vocalist Nina had recently been in a car wreck and she did a pretty good job of hiding how sore she was, though it you’ve seen them before you could probably tell she was a bit less crazy on stage than usual. Their set wasn’t bad though I noticed they had to cut off a few songs from their setlist to keep the show on schedule. That kinda sucked cause I wanted to see them play My Name Is Doom but that song was axed. I ended up bumming a ride back to NoVA from their guitarist, Josh Schwartz, at the end of the night so a big thanks goes out to him on trusting that I wasn’t a serial killer. Yes, I went down to Richmond not knowing how I’d get back, haha. The Chopper Trike Rebels were up next and while their guitarist had some pretty cool custom guitars on display through their set, the sound mix was pretty shitty and you couldn’t hear them that well. They had a LOT of fog on stage, and their singer ran around and had good stage presence but unfortunately the mix was too poor for me to fairly judge their sound at all. The final band of the night was Division who actually had a pretty good mix. They really killed it and while a lot of people had gone home by the time they played, it was worth sticking around to catch them. They’re a great local band and Catherine Lewis of the Washington Post named their latest album one of the top five local metal releases of 2010 (link here). In all it was a great day for two metal fests, I just wish the promoters/venues had worked together to make everything more cohesive. After Josh gave me a ride back up to the area I was really tired, that was a long day and I still had 8 more days of metal shows ahead!

Sunday I again needed help getting a ride out of town to a show, this time to Bourbon Street in Baltimore to catch Cradle Of Filth. One of my followers on Twitter, Sarah aka @murrainofswains, decided that I probably wasn’t a crazy murderer and gave me a lift up to the show with her. Really awesome of her and she had some cool stories about seeing music festivals in other countries and working with Iraqis. Neither of us had been to this venue before, but it was pretty nice. More deep than wide, they had a great lighting system set up and the stage was really high too. When I got there the venue couldn’t find my photo pass until luckily someone I’d contacted weeks ago came into the will call booth and got me set up. He told me they were only allowing the photographers to shoot from the photo pit for the first two songs, but after the band’s opening song, Heaven Torn Asunder, they kicked us all out! Not sure what happened there, I think perhaps the bouncers didn’t know the band’s material at all and since Cradle has long songs, they assumed when the first ended it was actually two songs. The lighting wasn’t great for shooting though and I felt kind of rushed since I got up front just as the band was heading on stage. After watching a couple songs from the side of the stage I figured I’d shoot some video for you guys and headed back into the crowd a bit. Their set was really great, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Cradle Of Filth show these days. I am not really a fan of their more recent releases and I kind of expected them to play a lot of their newer material. I was pleasantly wrong though as they played a nice mix of tunes from all eras of the band, even a couple from the first album. I saw them last about ten years ago at the 9:30 Club and that show was really over the top, contortionists on stage and some girl doing acrobatics from these rings hanging over the stage. The whole thing was sort of a goth circus. This show they turned down the ridiculous a lot. No goofy side show shit on stage but they did have their normal uh, costumes on and corpse paint and such. Dani Filth has a short hair cut, which while not really metal, it’s better than fucking neon blue dreads and crap like that. His voice isn’t holding up and he couldn’t scream like he used to though. He isn’t able to sustain for as long that high pitched scream he’s known for, but that’s bound to happen with age. He did still scream a lot though and the show was really entertaining, especially because of their great set list.

Monday the 7th of March was day three of my nine day Metal Marathon and I found myself getting a ride out to So Addictive Lounge in Herndon, Virginia for the weekly local metal showcase there called La Noche De Metal. I got there a bit late and missed the first band, Wolventhrone, apparently a black metal act. Next up was the band I came out to see, Wolfnuke, who are a pretty kick ass blackened thrash act that just doesn’t slow down on the energy level. Check these guys out if you haven’t already, great stuff and even better live. They probably should have played last though as they seemed to have the largest audience of the night and the longest set too. After they played another black metal act was up, Xeukatre. They’re a very raw black metal band obviously drawing from the Darkthrone school of keeping it “trve”. Their show was VERY dark, only a strobing set of colored lights on stage lit the room, which they also filled with smoke. I took a few shots but nothing too great due to those conditions. I think they were wearing corpse paint, and their drummer may have been a woman, but it was so dark you couldn’t really tell any of that. They’re so kvlt that their lighting is so dark that you can’t see their theatrics, haha! The last band of the night was Palkoski. They were the only band not from Maryland this evening and they’re a pretty good grind act. They were formerly a band called The Seventh Gate but they have since changed their format to a grindcore concept band where the lead singer plays the persona of his alter ego, a fictitious serial killer named Frank Palkoski and their live show is supposed to be a sonic representation of that. While some grind can get pretty damn stale by the end of a set these guys always keep it entertaining and mix things up a bit throughout the set. They aren’t the kind of band that’s going to stage dive and have lots of breakdowns, they’re going to basically shred your face off in raging bursts of aggression. They also set up a table with free stuff for anyone to take, and I got what appears to be a previously used flask with a bumper sticker on it with a bunch of nekkid dudes bound in duct tape on it, haha! It was another great Metal Monday at So Addictive and I’m glad I got to see such great metal for just $5!

It’s been a crazy first three days and I can’t wait to see how the rest of this adventure goes. My car is totally MIA right now but I’m doing my damnedest to keep this metal marathon alive! If anyone wants to give me a ride to Baltimore on Thursday to see Atheist at Sonar that would be awesome, please don’t rob/kill me and I promise the same in return (and I don’t mind chipping in for gas or whatever). If you’d like to help me buy beer/gas/fix my car feel free to kick a couple bucks my way via Paypal here. I’ve made a set of pictures on Flickr of all the shots I’m taking during my Metal Marathon and you can see those here, more will be added as I go to more shows. I’ve posted one video by each band I’ve seen so far on my Metal Marathon below but you can see the rest on my YouTube page here, I particularly recommend checking out the Cradle Of Filth videos as I think they came out rather well. So it’s three days down, six more to go!

The Metal Marathon Preview

So I put together this awesome calendar of upcoming concerts on the site here, which you hopefully already know about. By doing so I tend to know what metal shows are coming and when, who’d have thought? I knew back in January that March was going to be a crazy month for metal concerts, just so many good ones to go to! As it has come closer I noticed a nice stretch of several good metal gigs all in a row. It dawned on me that it could be possible for me to hit 11 metal shows in 9 consecutive days, the first and last days both having double headers. Do I dare? Fuck yeah I do, they don’t call me Metal Chris for nothing. I’m calling this test of my metal mettle the Metal Marathon. It will start on Saturday 5 March 2011 and end Sunday 13 March. During this time might fall a bit behind as far as updating the calendar goes. I’ll still be working my day job full time Monday through Friday and with that many concerts, pics and videos to upload, driving time and sleep, well, there’s only so many hours in a week! I’ll be sure to update the calendar as much as I can though. Now here’s a run down of what exactly the Metal Marathon will entail.

The first day of the Metal Marathon will find me in Richmond for two separate metal fests on Saturday 5 March 2011. The Rockin Massacre at Alley Katz and the Virginia Extreme Metal Fest at the Canal Club. Now I obviously won’t be able to see every band at both but I’m shooting to try to see at least Ethereal Genocide and Loculus at the Canal Club and Death Penalty and Division at Alley Katz. The two venues are only 850 feet away from each other and that’s easily walkable, so I’ll probably be going back and forth all day. I haven’t seen a list of set times for the Rockin Massacre yet, but VEMF has one here. I hope none of the bands I really want to see overlap!

The second day of the Metal Marathon, Sunday the 6th of March 2011, I’ll find myself driving up to Bourbon Street in Baltimore, Maryland to see Cradle Of Filth. I’ve gotten clearance for a photo pass to this show, so that’s cool. I haven’t seen Cradle since 2003, not sure what to expect. I might catch a bit of Nachtmystium if I’m there in time, but I’m not really a fan of theirs and I’ve seen them before too, so not the end of the world if I miss them. I have never been to the Bourbon Street venue, so it will be cool to check that place out.

The third day of the Metal Marathon, Monday the 7th of March 2011, I’ll be heading out to So Addictive in Herndon, Virginia for their weekly La Noche De Metal aka Metal Mondays which spotlights local metal acts every week. I’ve been a few times before and this line up seems to be one of their better ones, Wolfnuke really impressed me when I saw them there before, and Palkoski is entertaining grind, plus there’s two black metal bands I’ve not seen before so that should be cool.

The fourth day of the Metal Marathon will be Tuesday the 8th of March 2011 and will see me headed to the Corpse Fortress in Silver Spring, Maryland for a local metal DIY (do it yourself) house show. Revolta is a cool band I saw just recently play another house show in Fairfax, definitely worth checking out again, and there’s a couple other bands I’ve never heard of to check out too. Plus I’ve been meaning to hit the Corpse Fortress to see a metal concert there for a while now and this seems as good a reason to as any.

The fifth day of the Metal Marathon is the half way point, Wednesday the 9th of March 2011. I’ll be heading over to Jaxx to catch the excellent black metal line up of Rotting Christ, Melechesh and Hate. This is probably the concert I’m most excited about going to during the Metal Marathon, I’m a pretty big fan of Melechesh and this is just their 2nd US concert ever (I saw their first at Maryland Deathfest last year). Not every day you get to see bands from Greece, Israel and Poland all playing back to back. This is also my first stop at Jaxx, the only venue I’ll be going to more than once on my Metal Marathon.

The sixth day of the Metal Marathon is on Thursday the 10th of March 2011. I’ll be heading back up to Baltimore, though this time going to Sonar, to catch the death metal jazz fusion band Atheist play. I saw them at Jaxx in July of 2009 but that was before they released their new album last year, Jupiter, their first new material in 17 years! They’re playing with A Life Once Lost (aka I don’t give a shit) and the excellent Revocation, who I’ve been wanted to see for a while now. Also, local opening act Deranged Theory is playing, I hope I can get there in time to catch them.

The seventh day of the Metal Marathon is Friday the 11th of March 2011. There’s a band from Brooklyn, New York called Meek Is Murder playing the Firehouse in old town Fairfax City, Virginia. I don’t really know much about them other than one of their members was in The Red Chord for a couple years. Regardless, they’re playing with local grind acts Drugs Of Faith and Gradius and it’s just $5. Not a huge show for my Friday night during this whole Metal Marathon, but it should be fun regardless.

The eighth day of the Metal Marathon is Saturday the 12th of March 2011. I’ll be headed to St Stephen’s Church (yeah I know, I hope I don’t burst into flame upon entering) in DC to catch Dropdead play there. I do know who Dropdead is and while I realize they’re old school legends of hardcore, I’m really going just to see some of the excellent local talent that has been lined up for this show. In particular I’d like to see Magrudergind, Cough and Ilsa. I’ve never been to the venue but considering that it’s a church, and that Dropdead is (I think) straight edge, there probably won’t be a bar there or anything. Still, those awesome posters (drawn by Ilsa’s drummer Joshy) are going to be for sale there and you can be damn sure I’m going to get myself one.

The ninth and final day of the Metal Marathon is on Sunday the 13th of March 2011. I’m going to head back to Jaxx to catch local opening act To The Teeth play and stay for Trap Them also. The new Trap Them album, Darker Handcraft, totally destroys by the way, certainly one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. I really can’t wait to see them play some of that at Jaxx (please play Evictionaries!). Depending on the time, I may stay to see Gaza play also, but I don’t care about the headliner The Red Chord so I’ll probably head out and cross the street to the new gourmet burger place near Jaxx named BGR for dinner. If you’ve never been there you should check em out, they’re on par with places like Ray’s Hell Burger. Anyways, after that I’ll be heading into DC to the 9:30 Club to catch their late show, Apocalyptica. Yep, those guys, the cello quartet from Finland that plays Metallica covers and such (as well as original material too). I’m kind of betting that the Jaxx show will start early enough on a Sunday that I can make both with plenty of time to spare. Since there’s another show at the 9:30 Club earlier in the evening, the doors for the Apocalyptica show open at 10pm and there’s a local opener too. I’ve been given a photo pass by the band so I will be up in the photo pit (aka sitting in the very front between the stage and the audience) which sounds like a great way to uh, “wind down” in the home stretch of my Metal Marathon. By the way I’ve got a contest running (until March 6th) that’s giving away a free pair of tickets to this Apocalyptica show, you can enter here if you’d like.

In all, the Metal Marathon will be 11 different metal shows at 10 different venues over 9 straight days. My car has been acting a bit funky of late so hopefully it will hold up through all this and I can get to all the shows, particularly in Richmond and Baltimore. If you are going to any of those and wanna carpool let me know, I don’t mind throwing down for gas/beer. The tickets and entry fees for all these shows come to $144! Christ, you’d think I actually had the money to spend. You can donate to my metal crusade here via PayPal if ya feel so inclined. I’m not sure how I’ll end up updating the site while this is all going on, I’ll be busy and without a lot of free time but I’d like to get at least a few pictures up as I go along to keep people updated. Hopefully I’ll have a big wrap up post chronicling my adventure and possibly a couple full concert reviews from stops along the way too. March doesn’t slow down a whole lot for me though as I plan on seeing Torche, Agalloch, St. Vitus and Wormrot later in the month too. Of course there’s more info on all the concerts in this post listed on the Calendar Of Upcoming Metal Concerts. Wish me luck and feel free to buy me a beer if you see me at any of these shows as I won’t really have drinking money during all this, haha. Fuck yeah heavy metal!