After a somewhat disappointing show at the House of Blues, which I didn’t review for fear that it would come off as sounding too unprofessional, it was time for another outing to our favourite “slavic soul food” establishment for an evening of Death and Black Metal. We left my house early, expecting to encounter some traffic backflow with Mardi Gras impending. This proved not to be the case and we arrived much too early. After a round of accidentally eavesdropping on some inane blabber between the opening act and one of the venue staff, we decided to go ahead and head inside. Taking our usual space over near the merchandise table, I decided I would go ahead and buy my companion a shirt before the show started so I would actually be able to hear things instead of the usual communicating through grunts and gestures. I watched and laughed in a bit of an instance of techno-snobbishness as 1349’s merch guy unsuccessfully tried to run things from an HP laptop before finally giving up and switching to an android tablet. After the protracted wait came to a close, we decided to take a seat on a bench near the stage for the opening act, Wolvhammer.
Wolvhammer are a, according to Metal Archives, “Blackened Sludge Metal” band from somewhere up north. As Sludge Metal can be pretty thick in anti-christian themes already, I found the descriptor to be somewhat redundant. Being completely unfamiliar with their music before that night, they were a pleasant surprise. So, what does “blackened” sludge sound like? Well, like Sludge Metal with a little bit of tremolo picking thrown in for good measure. The band performed as a tight unit and every instrument shone through in the mix. As I looked around at the relatively thin crowd, I found it to be a bit of a shame that more people weren’t around to catch their set. As they moved their gear off of the stage, Abysmal Dawn immediately began their setup. At that point, we abandoned our seats in favour of standing to the right-front of the stage.
Abysmal Dawn are a band that I was familiar with in name only, mostly thanks to Spynal, before that night. Their brand of tightly executed Death Metal carried over well in a live setting, which is more than I can say for a certain famous band from New York that we had seen a few weeks earlier. The guitarists’ execution was flawless and the drummer was solid (I don’t think I heard a single botched fill). The only complaint I have is with those damn triggered bass drums. As a drummer myself, I understand the practice of triggering. Bass drums can get awfully blurry at high speeds, but why mute them to the point that you completely lose all sub bass frequency. That’s a diatribe for another time though. A couple of songs into their set, the crowd began to fill out. By the mid point, the first mosh pits of the night were breaking out. They mostly seemed to spring from one incredibly enthusiastic fellow in a denim vest. As their set came to a close and the band began tearing down their gear, I remarked to Spynal that I should have taken her recommendation and listened to them one of the myriad times she had recommended them to me over the years. Up next: Origin.
If you are a Metal fan that has not been living under a rock for the past decade or so, you are at least passingly familiar with Origin. While I didn’t find that their music carried over particularly well in a live setting, with it often blurring together and sounding like a dense wall of noise, it was most certainly an intense set. The crowd, which had seen a few mosh pits break out during the previous bands set, decended into full blown bedlam goaded on from the stage by the band’s front man. Stage diving was also actively encouraged. Seeing the size of one of the individuals preparing to dive, I decided it would be in my best interest to stand on the bench (he was shaped roughly like a werecking ball). Of course, in the end, the crowd ended up not catching him anyway. After an extended final song, during which the vocalist attempted to ride the crowd to the bar, get a beer, and then ride back without spilling it (which proved mostly unsuccessful), it was time for the headliners: 1349.
My companion is a huge fan of 1349, especially Frost, so it goes without saying that this is the entire reason we were at the show. Unfortunately, it seems Frost is still barred from entering the U.S., so the band peformed with a stand in drummer. I didn’t care for him, I found that he hit too hard and caused the drums to sound distorted through the P.A. The rest of the band was great. Decked out in full Black Metal regalia (spiked gauntlets, corpse paint, and the like), they peformed a blistering set that worked the crowd into a frenzy. I can honestly say that in my own opinion, Black Metal crowds seem a bit more active than Death Metal crowds. The pits during Goatwhore and Cannibal Corpse seem almost stationary by comparison. Their guitar tech was a bit of a raging prick though, routinely throwing his authority at the people standing stage right. We get it fella, you work for the band, you’re fucking awesome. I found myself hoping that he would somehow get thrown into the pit.
In closing, I would like to comment on something that I have witnessed at the last few concerts I have attended that I find to be particularly vexing. People on smart phones. You are at a concert that you presumably paid money to see, why the hell are you going to spend the entire show with your face buried in your phone reading your Facebook page? I first noticed it at the Down concert when some kid was standing next to me, right on the edge of the pit texting “dude, this pit is fucking insane” the whole time. How would you know? You haven’t looked up from your android all night? At the Behemoth/Cannibal Corpse concert, there was a fellow standing right in the middle of the pit texting the whole time. There were people in the front row staring at fucking LCD screens the whole time. I have to give kudos to “Corpsegrinder” for calling them out. Of course, at this particular show, Origin’s vocalist swiped his finger across one such fellow’s screen, messing up his text. Good move, man. Please, put your phones away. We Metal fans are precious few as it is, why would so many of you choose to ignore each other in favour of digital stimulation when at a gathering of your own kind?