Skeletonwitch – Magic Circle – Lich King – Black Mass: Live at Once Ballroom, Somerville MA

 

 Skeletonwitch – Once Ballroom, Somerville MA ghostcultmag

 

After a fairly quick work day and speedy drive to the city we are met with the universal issue when in any city , PARKING! But after spotting a Wookie known as Tim Ledin (also of Ghost Cult) and acquiring a spot we await the start of the show!

Slowly the intersection is flooded with metal heads like zombies at a mall, and slowly we all shamble in to the hopefully air-conditioned venue. For those who have not been to Cuisine en Locale AKA Once Ballroom there’s an upstairs bar to the left of the main door way and straight ahead is the main dance hall, both excellent for watching the bands and having beers. Upstairs obviously having the best vantage point to the stage aside from of course directly in front of the 3 ft high structure.

First band of the night probably had the youngest members out of all of them Black Mass. Brendan O’Hare and two cohorts make up a thrashing mad three-piece akin to Blue Cheer but of speed metal. Brendan’s vocals sound a lot like Max Cavelera and Chuck Schuldiner’s love child of sorts and back up vocals from the bassist really add dimension and punch to the already catchy vocal lines. Ending their set with the sing along of “East Coast Thrash” with a very easy line to remember with three magical words!

Up next is Lich King keeping the thrash train a moving and if you’re reading this and haven’t witnessed them live its like a mash-up of all the good things about Slayer and Exodus rolled in to one! I’m not a thrash junkie like many of my friends may be but sometimes every thing blurs together and in a flash its gone , sadly that was my experience with this band, not saying they are bad or aren’t deserving of praise just not this writers cup of tea, check them out for yourself and form your own opinion. maybe you’ll have something to show me or a song I should listen to that may really get my attention and I will become as big a fan as some of you readers.

Magic Circle is next to take the stage and start of with a quick jaunt of ‘Kings and Queens’ by Aerosmith song then almost as quickly diving in to the opening song of their set. Two more songs in I am bathed in riffage similar to St. Vitus or Pentagram and I am finally in my element and enjoying my self and being swooned by vocals very similar to the late great Ronnie James Dio being channeled from the other side, I was almost sad to see them end but now we enter the main event, the reason we are all here sweating , now .. it is time for THE WITCH!

Between sets people step out side to take a smoke break and that is where I happen to find Adam Clemans having a smoke and had a quick chat about the tour and whats in store on the set and whats in BOTH Wolvhammer’s future and the witch with Clemens at he helm and 2017 sounds promising.

What do I really need to say about this new line up of Skeletonwitch that hasn’t already been said? Yes, Chance is no longer the singer no he probably isn’t coming back to the band, but most importantly, yes Adam Clemens is the best fit for the band for the foreseeable future. Let me tell you why: because he is a new fresh face and well of ideas the band needs at this time. the band didn’t want a chance sound alike they wanted to try and move forward from his leaving and go in a new direction while still maintaining the Skeletonwitch sound, and I believe they’ve achieved that. although at first I wasn’t overly enthused about the choice after seeing Clemens works with the guys and the sound of the songs found on their new EP The Apothic Gloom (Prosthetic) Clemans fits perfectly among the blackened riffs the band had been writing.

Skeletonwitch - The Apothic Gloom EP cover ghostcultmag

Pulling put all the stops and playing a majority of The Apothic Gloom as well as some older material mixed in with fan favorites (with the exception of my favorite ” submit to the suffering” which Adam assures me is going to be on the set in October but they will not be coming to Boston…) an other notable change is guitarist Nate Garnette  has picked up on backing vocal duties which also adds to the songs as well as the performance. Sweating through the expansive set and a few beers later sadly the set is over and now begins the mad rush out of the building and back to our homes to try and make it home safe and to bed after an amazing week night show.
ANDREW FRANCIS

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Sam Black Church Documentarian Gives An Update, Film Due Next Spring

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Duncan Wilder Johnson (Bring The Knife, Thrashachusetts, solo artist), a fixture in the Massachusetts hardcore and metal scene, has provided an update on his long in the making documentary about the seminal Boston genre definers Sam Black Church. Entitled Leave Behind A Groove In The Earth: The Story of Sam Black Church, the film is due early next and sees some light at the end of the tunnel after eight long years and a successful crowd funding campaign. The activity surrounding the film has the band enjoying some time back in the limelight, with members promoting the documentary, and a dominating main stage performance at last year’s New England Metal And Hardcore Festival.

 

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Jet from Sam Black Church At NEMHF16 last April. Photo by Meg Loyal Photography

 

The official update from Kickstarter:

Alright y’all!

I know everyone is itching to see this thing. No one more than myself wants to see it out there in the real world! There’s a lot of moving parts and my office is covered charts, emails, and post-it notes as I attempt to get this thing off the ground.

Making an independent film, as an almost completely solo effort, is tough to put it mildly. My lawyer and I are working our asses off over here, creating the best Sam Black Church film we can!

One of the main aspects of the film is to show a 20-year arc of heavy music, especially from the Northeast. With that, we’ve successfully licensed music by Tree, Stompbox, Overcast, Killswitch Engage, and we’re in the midst of working on Shadows Fall and Unearth. All of the later recordings of Sam Black Church have been cleared.

Everyone who contributed to the kickstarted campaign should have received merch, above and beyond the DVD itself by now. That means T-shirts, hoodies, posters and the like. The DVD is in process. After all this legal stuff, we’ll be doing the final cut, audio mix, and authoring it. Everyone who contributed to the campaign will receive a DVD. It’s doubtful that there will be a retail version of the DVD in stores because of structure of the music licensing. We’re still planning on a premier, submitting to and screening at various festivals, a number of independent screenings especially in the Northeast, and ultimately a streaming/downloadable version after the festivals and independent screenings.

So, what’s holding it up?

Well, mostly it’s people not getting back to me. People not returning phone calls for months, constantly having to hound people to sign legal documents so I can show their face in the film, and also the sheer amount of work that’s going into this thing. There’s a lot of photographs, fliers, live footage, and interviews and all of them have to be okayed. I NEED HELP WITH THIS (see below).

As I’m going through this legal process, I’ve realized a lot of the film has to change. This is caused by people not getting back to me or because we didn’t have enough money to pay for a certain license.

Therefore, I’m re-editing many sequences within the film.

We raised a little over $20K in the Kickstarter campaign and I can’t thank you enough for supporting this project. If you’d like to continue to support the film, you can purchase Prints, T-Shirts, posters in this store: https://thrashachusetts.bandcamp.com/merch We can always use a few extra bucks.

Will The band perform?

Well, that’s up to the band. I know they loved playing the last two shows at the House of Blues and The Palladium. I also know that they want to play when the movie drops, perhaps with some other old bands from their era, which would be rad!

We’re aiming for a March release. Originally I didn’t think it would take this long to negotiate with record labels, bands, lawyers, and everyone in between, but that’s the reality of it.

To cause a March release, I’ll need some help. It’s not glamorous stuff, but it has to happen. Basically it’s tracking people down who own various intellectual property (videos, photographs, and what not) and getting their permission to use it in the film. If they don’t agree, then we have to replace it in the editing with something we can use. If you’d like to help, we could really use it. Just send me an email. Thanks.

Finally, for your patience and my gratitude to you all, here’s a sneak peak of the filmhttp://vimeo.com/113132173


Thanks for everything. Enjoy.

In Metal, Duncan

 

Sam Black Church on Facebook

Thrashachusetts on Facebook

On The Road…. with Unearth

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Unearth is currently riding high with the recent release of their new album Watchers of Rule (eOne). The band recently wrapped up the “Hell or High Wattage” tour with Darkest Hour, Origin, Black Crown Initiate and I, The Breather. That tour stopped off last month at The Worcester Palladium for the 11th Annual Rock And Shock Festival, where Unearth played a headline worthy set on the main-stage, being that they are truly a hometown band from nearby Boston. Meg Loyal caught all the chaos with her camera lens and she brings us this photo set.

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Make sure to catch Unearth starting next week on the road with their labelmates Crowbar and once again, Black Crown Initiate.

 

Unearth on Facebook

PHOTO SET BY MEG LOYAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Cynic to Embark on Second Leg of Headline Tour Soon

 

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One of the more underrated tours this summer so far that definitely should be getting a bigger buzz is the Cynic headline tour. On the strength of their excellent new album Kindly Bent To Free Us (Season of Mist) the band is embarking on coast to coast jaunt and taking with them some exciting bands to boot. Ghost Cult will be catching this tour in a few weeks near our HQ in Boston. Lucky for us Bostonians we have an abundance of great progressive music in this town with Berkelee School of Music and several prestigious local conservatoires. The second leg kicks off soon, so we will truly have a Prog Metal party in this town  on the night of August 9th.

 

 

Kindly Bent To Free Us was our Album of The Month for March this year. As Cynic main man Paul Masvidal told Ghost Cult in a wide ranging interview for the cover of Issue #16, Cynic was never intended to be a band that re-made their seminal Focus album over and over:

 

I mean it’s funny, because it’s the same attitude I have right now, the mindset I have right now, this is the same person that created Focus. They want us to to recreate a sound would have never happened had I not been this person. It contradicts the very nature of the band to try and play it safe, do something familiar, repeat a pattern, stay in a cocoon, of “we found a sound, let’s just recycle it”. That goes against everything this band represented. Especially at the beginning with Focus, we were going against the grain. Everyone was offended and everyone was confused, we had a really hard time back then. It took a while for people to come around and realize there was something there. And now they want to keep you in the same place. It’s the eternal dilemma that every artist goes through, that has a work that maybe it’s received well. It represents a time and place, and has a sort of historical reference, and people want to keep you there. They are forgetting, we change too. We evolve. Art is not a static thing. It is alive. The very nature of Cynic is to honor that process of being open and having skill as a musician, enough to develop a voice that keeps expanding and exploring. For me anything but that, would be the death of this project. It is all about a platform for freedom and exploration. Art is not a thing, it’s changing. That is how I view it. I can’t imagine it any other way.”

GC 16 front cover

 

Cynic is not to be missed live and still pulls out many an old gem live from the Focus era. In addition to drummer Sean Reinert, Cynic is joined by bassist extraordinaire Sean Malone who rarely has toured with the band, in spite of playing on every recording the band has made. Joining Cynic that night will be three other bands. The atmospheric, piano driven jazzy alt-rock of The Reign of Kindo will surely mellow out the crowd ready to rock out. Meanwhile Lesser Key will thrill fans of bands as diverse as Failure and Pelican. Lesser Key has among its ranks former Tool bassist/co-founder Paul D’Amour. And last and not least, local Boston prog metal heroes Protean Collective are opening the bill. They are still supporting their recent epic album The Red and the Grey and are calling your name if you like Scale The Summit and other modern prog bands.

 

 

 

Buy tickets to this show!

Cynic on Facebook

The Reign of Kindo on Facebook

Lesser Key on Facebook

Protean Collective on Facebook

Septicflesh – Fleshgod Apocalypse – Black Crown Initiate – Forced Asphyxiation: Live at The Middle East Downstairs

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On the same night in Boston when nearly a hundred people were hospitalized due to intoxication and drug overdoses at a trance show, the crowd at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA could only complain of short show. After a trade in bands and another band not appearing at the Cambridge stop, The Conquerors of the World Tour came down to just 4 bands: local opening band Forced Asphyxiation, mid tour replacement, Black Crown Initiate, co-headliner Fleshgod Apocalypse, and the masters of symphonic death metal, Septicflesh. After hearing that Necronomicon would not play on this night in Cambridge, the Middle East staff had the downstairs emptied and an hour was killed off as no replacement bands could be found on short notice. As some fellow metal heads in line were a little disgruntled over this news, the bill tonight would surely make up for this slight inconvenience.

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Starting the night off first was local band, Forced Asphyxiation. A “classic” death metal band with lyrics that ranged from smoking some sweet ganja to having an epic fight back in the medieval times. Small pits opened up from time to time to show appreciation for the band’s appearance as the Cambridge crowd was getting into the band more with each song. Unfortunately, Forced Asphyxiation’s set was shorter than most were hoping given the delayed start of the show. However, I am certain that for those locals who had not heard of this band before, became fans after this set. Next up was one of my most eyebrow raising bands of the night, Black Crown Initiate.

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Having taken over for Hour of Penance on this tour, Black Crown Initiate had quite the shoes to fill, and personally, I think they overfilled them. For those who may not know of BCI, and I was one of them, let me explain what this band sounds like. A melo-death band that plays with djent beats, a death metal lead vocalist with some of the deepest growls you’ve ever heard, and then topped off with jazzy sections and clean vocals from their bassist. I spent most of BCI’s set trying to come up with that sentence as I would lose myself in each song’s complex structure. It was extremely hard figuring out when one song would end and another would begin as each song would smoothly transition to the next. When done right, in this case it was, it can make for quite an experience both in a studio and, a little more challenging, during a live show. I am making it a personal goal to see BCI the next time they come to the Northeast US area as they had certainly left their mark on this warm June night.

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Next up on this great night in the heart of Boston was the six piece from Italy, Fleshgod Apocalypse. After hearing of this band a few years ago, and the hype that followed them, I made it a goal of mine to get around to listening to them. Up until this night, I failed miserably. Having said that, I think it was a good thing as this band literally made my jaw hit my sternum on a multitude of occasions. Coming into this show, I understood they were, as some put it, “a lot like Septicflesh.” The death metal outlook, orchestration, piano, and some operatic vocals immediately came to mind, but still I underestimated Fleshgod Apocalypse. All of the members of the band were dressed in old orchestra clothing that had been ripped and tarnished. Each member came complete with a very tasteful corpse paint, and when I say corpse paint I mean they looked dead with pale faces and dark sunken eyes, not trying to impersonate Kiss. Lastly, the two guitarists and bassist each had designs on the bodies of their instruments that made them appear to look like classical instruments with the wooden color and black clef marks. Each and every song that came out of the amplifiers and entered my ears continuously made me so angry that I never got around to listening to this band prior. Songs like ‘The Hypocrisy’, ‘Elegy’, and ‘Pathfinder’ had me itching for more and more as the set moved along and the crowd grew more and more hostile. The night for Fleshgod Apocalypse ended with the amazingly epic closer, ‘The Forsaking’, which left all wide eyed and mouths wide open in amazement at what they just witnessed. At one point, I turned to a friend of mine and proclaimed that I would go home, destroy my iPod, and start over with this band being the first to be uploaded. Just when I thought this night could not get any better, it was time for the main event.

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The foursome from Greece known as Septicflesh was here and ready to destroy what was left of the Middle East. Having just released their newest album, Titan, I was hoping for a few new songs and then a few goodies off of the past two releases. When the orchestration hit marking the beginning of ‘Vampire From Nazareth’, I knew we were in for a good night and so did the rest of the crowd behind me. The symphonic death metal gods played a great selection including: classics from Communion like ‘Anubis’, ‘Lovecraft’s Death’, and ‘Persepolis’ to favorites from Great Mass like ‘Pyramid God’, ‘A Great Mass of Death’, and the closer, ‘Five-Pointed Star’. The Cambridge audience was also blessed to hear two new tracks, ‘Order of Dracul’ and one of my favorites, ‘Prototype’. I was impressed to see how far Septicflesh have come in popularity these past few years as finally at my third show, this being the second headlining spot, the fans in attendance actually knew who they were. This time around, everyone around me knew most if not all of the songs and the accompanying lyrics to said songs. These guys have worked so hard to reshape themselves into the well oiled machine they are now and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Overall, this tour did have its changes and last minute cancellation/delays, but I was more than pleased to have been in attendance. One of my favorite bands today, Septicflesh, has started to receive the attention they deserve, Fleshgod Apocalypse smacked me right in the face for never listened to them prior, and Black Crown Initiate made a stand with their very unique style. I also can’t forget local openers, Forced Asphyxiation, now having seen them a second time since their opening spot with Aborted a few months ago, they have gained a fan in me! If you have yet to get out to this tour and a stop near you is coming up, I highly recommend you get a ticket, bang your head until your neck hurts, buy some merch, and enjoy one of the best shows you will see all year.

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Septicflesh Set List:

The Vampire From Nazareth

Communion

A Great Mass of Death

Order of Dracul

Pyramid God

Unbeliever

Prototype

Lovecraft’s Death

Burn

Persepolis

Anubis

Five-Pointed Star

 

Septicflesh on Facebook

Fleshgod Apocalypse on Facebook

Black Crown Initiate on Facebook

Forced Asphyxiation on Facebook

 

WORDS BY TIM LEDIN

PHOTOS BY CWS PHOTOGRAPHY