Twitching Tongues – Harm’s Way – Homewrecker: Live At The Middle East Nite Club

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The Middle East Night Club in Cambridge, MA continues to be a venue that holds some of my most memorable shows. November 27th would be another show I would not soon forget either but I am still undecided if it is a good memory or a bad one. On one hand, I was seeing Twitching Tongues, Harm’s Way, Homewrecker, and Malice at the Palace all for the first time. On the other hand, ignorant Merrimack Valley Hardcore kids who treat a show like a turf war.

As much as I enjoy having a free-rein on how I write for Ghost Cult, I do not abuse it. However, I need to get something off of my chest about the local opener, Threshold. First and foremost, on a musical stand point, they have that very typical hardcore sound that really does not blow anybody away, but at least they do an alright job with it. I clapped at the end of their set and almost walked up to the lead singer to shake his hand. He looked a little angry about something, I was assuming stress of being the opener and having to pack up the gear quickly. Little did I know, him and his cohort of thug friends were in the process of jumping one of my friends over pit drama. Yes, fucking pit drama. My friend got his lip split open and another friend of mine jumped in just to separate the four white trash scumbags from delivering anymore cheap shots. If you are reading this and book shows or are an owner of a venue in the New England area, do not book Threshold from the Merrimack Valley area in MA. They do not attract a crowd nor do they keep a crowd in-house because they would rather jump them after a set. If you want to fight, fight like a man, not a stereotypical brocore pussy. You are a disgrace.

Moving on. Fuming Mouth was up next which has become one of my favorites from the Boston scene. They have that nice balance between crust, hardcore, and metal that attracts everybody to the show. If you get a chance to see these guys crank out a quick 20 minute set, get to the venue early to catch them!

Malice at the Palace was up next on this night. As I only dabble in the world of hardcore, I was not aware of what this band was like. After a few songs it became apparent to me that these guys had a strong Slayer influence (nothing wrong with that!) and still kept the hardcore soul in their sound via the vocalist. I certainly will be keeping my eyes open for the next time this group comes around.

Up next was Homewrecker to which I kicked myself pretty hard learning I missed them at Maryland Deathfest this year. The Ohio natives were one of the outliers in the lineup as they are a powerviolence band who cater to fans of crust punk, grindcore, and me. Watching the hardcore kids stand around during chaotic passages of songs, looking confused easily made my night. Don’t be an idiot like I was at MDF this year, catch Homewrecker the next time they are in your area.

Harm's Way

Harm’s Way

One of my favorite found gems of this year, Harm’s Way, hit the stage next. To be completely transparent, this band was the whole reason I even wanted to come out to this show. Oh and of course the macho man fights continued during their set. Two fights broke out, the first actually cutting ‘Law of the Land’ short. The Cambridge crowd got a nice mix of newer tracks from Rust like ‘Amongst the Rust’ and ‘Cancerous Ways’. Some other tracks included opener, ‘Scrambled’ as well as one of my favorites, ‘Mind Control’. I will certainly be getting to more Harm’s Way shows in an effort to see more of them as eight songs was simply not enough for me.

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Finally, Twitching Tongues made their way to the stage to close out the night. This was my first time ever listening to the headliners and I was not ready for the clean vocals. I guess it was just a complete polar opposite as to what I had been listening to all evening and as to what I was expecting. The lead singer kept the crowd engaged as everyone crowded the front through the entire set shouting lyrics back into the microphone. That, to me, makes you a successful live band and I gladly tip my hat to Twitching Tongues.

WORDS BY TIM LEDIN

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The Atomic Bitchwax – Against the Grain – Goddamn Draculas: Live at the Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, MA

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As a creature of the night, matinee shows have always confused me. What do you do with all of that extra time in your day? What is sunlight? That was future Aleida’s problem, present Aleida’s only concern was checking out some live music at one of her favorite venues, but enough with speaking in the third person.

I would like to give a special shout out to the traffic of Cambridge for adding on almost another half hour to my trip. I managed to make in time for The Under’s last song and a half or so, but what little I saw was fantastic. If what I have listened to since then is anything to go by, then I have every right to be bummed out that I essentially missed their entire set. I won’t make that mistake next time and I encourage others to follow suit.

Up next were homegrown rockers Goddamn Draculas who stood out from the rest of the line up due to the lack of stoner-y grooves in their sound. They were a little more red-blooded rock and roll with a touch of the eighties thrown in. I wasn’t sure how I felt about them at first but repeated listens have them growing on me. At the very least, I find myself intrigued by their brand of rock and roll and that song ‘Raise ‘Em Up’ is rad. I could throw that track on repeat easily.

This is a story about love at first at first riff. The boys in Against the Grain really made a great first impression and left me wondering how the hell I hadn’t heard about them sooner. Imagine taking some stoner-rock and stabbing it right in the heart with a needle full of adrenaline. Those riffs and grooves were calling my name from the very beginning. Can we just talk about the voice on that singer of theirs, Chris Nowak? The man’s got some serious soul. It’s been a long time since a band so new to me has grabbed me by the lady-nads like that and I highly recommend seeing them for yourself.

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The Atomic Bitchwax has always been that one band that I’ve been wanting to see, but life always decides it has other things in store for me but not this time. I was supposed to be well out of state at a certain gathering of bizarre human beings in Richmond, VA, but last minute scheduling changes found me hanging around New England. Sometimes things just fall into place. It may have been a combination of sheer excitement and Chris Kosnik’s bass playing but I was in stoner rock heaven. If I’m to judge by the amount of hair flying around me, coupled with the applause, I’d say the crowd agreed with me. Studio recordings do not do this band justice. Yes, an album will still sound great, but it’s live where The Atomic Bitchwax really shine and have the chance to infect you with those grooves. You feel it in you bones and in your gut and listening to them after the fact simply cannot produce the same effect on a person. Get out there in the real world and see something amazing.

I may have missed this year’s GWAR-B-QUE, but it was an honor to spend an afternoon with some ridiculously talented musicians and I’m happy with how things turned out. As for future Aleida, she found herself at another show that very same night. All in a day’s work, kids.

WORDS BY ALEIDA LA LLAVE

Cancer Bats – Exalt – Gozu – Rozamov: Live at The Middle East Upstairs

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It’s Friday, you’re out of work, and everyone’s either at the bar or out on a date. What’s a girl to do? Make her way down to Cambridge, MA to catch a show at the Middle East Upstairs with her friends, obviously.

Homegrown trio Rozamov took the stage first. I was familiar with them in name, but not in sound. I’m sure fans of doom would have enjoyed them but things require a little more energy and variety to keep my short attention span engaged. It wasn’t until the final song in their set that I started to get into things. I don’t remember what it was called but I believed the band mentioned that it was going to be featured on an upcoming split so keep an eye out for that.

Gozu, Photo by Meg Loyal Photography

Also hailing from Boston, MA were my favorite surprise of the evening; Gozu. Again, I was familiar with their name but not their music. I can’t say enough great things about this band and I’m actually listening to their album Locust Season (Small Stone Records) as I write this. It’s some dirty, stoner rock that makes you want to knock back a few beers and maybe one of your friends. In my case, the evening involved a lot of shaking my friends due to my excitement and an inability to shut up about their bassist. So, business as usual, really.

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Exault, Photo by Meg Loyal Photography

Exalt brought their brand of metalcore to the stage next. I have never been much of a metalcore fan and as such, there were bits and pieces of songs that I enjoyed but nothing that I could really get into overall. It may prove to be a different story for fans of the genre. They were interesting to watch if anything and I can appreciate the hard work put into their performance even if it wasn’t really my thing.

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Cancer Bats, Photo by Meg Loyal Photography

Headlining this little shindig in the tiny show space were the one and only Cancer Bats. I had seen them three times before, as they have a habit of playing with bands I love, but this was my first time having the chance to see the boys headline their own tour in the US. Anyone who has had the chance to see the Bats live before knows that they always bring a lot of energy to their performances. Vocalist Liam Cormier is like a fire cracker in tight pants bouncing around the stage and it’s impossible to avoid getting swept along with him. The set list for the evening primarily revolved around songs in support of their latest release, Searching for Zero (Metal Blade Records). They play some of my favorites off of the album including ‘True Zero’, ‘Arsenic in the Year of the Snake’, ‘Beezlebub’, and ‘Buds’. I would have liked to have heard ‘Cursed with a Conscience’ as well, maybe next time. The set also included fan favorites such as ‘Bricks and Mortar’, ‘Hail Destroyer’, and everyone’s favorite Beastie Boys cover; ‘Sabotage’. I ran into a few bohabs during the course of the evening and even more made themselves known once the band’s tribute to Dave Brockie a.k.a. Oderus Urungus of GWAR, ‘All Hail’, began.

Cancer Bats, Photo by Meg Loyal Photography

Cancer Bats, Photo by Meg Loyal Photography

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Cancer Bats, Photo by Meg Loyal Photography

All in all, it was a great show. My main complaint was that Cancer Bats’ set seemed unusually short for a headlining band. I would have liked to have gotten at least another half hour out of them. The sound for the show in general was quieter than I would have expected as well but that may have been because there was another show going on downstairs at the same time. Apart from that, I’d say it was a job well done and now I get to go back to complaining about them needing to tour again until the next one!

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WORDS BY ALEIDA LA LLAVE

PHOTOS BY MEG LOYAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Terra – (untitled)

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To be honest, I hold a fairly high level of scepticism when someone passes me an album by a new band and declares, loftily, that “you will like it”. Like some kind of rabid Pavlovian dog, my defences go up, my cynicism kicks in and my brain invariably utters the phrase, with arch knowing: “Oh! I will, will I?!” I then usually spend the subsequent listening of aforementioned album looking for ways to give it a bit of a kicking. I know this is neither big nor clever but, well, it just IS.

I mention this because I come to this review not to bury Cambridge black metal outfit Terra, but to praise them. Reader, I need to eat my proverbial hat, cover myself in sackcloth and ashes and admit that the person who gave me the Terra debut album to review was bang on: I do like them. I like them a lot [see… Assoc Ed]

This debut album of dark, hypnotic black metal is three tracks long but three continents wide in terms of its vast creative canvas. For a debut album it sounds remarkably accomplished, almost timeless in its effect and it should, if there is anything approaching justice in the musical world, see them rightly applauded.

If you’re desperate for that critical pitstop of a pigeon-hole then I guess that this trio inhabit that strange hinterland called “atmospheric” black metal. Before any of you pedants cry out that this pre-supposes that there is black metal that ISN’T atmospheric, I use the phrase to shorthand that if you’re familiar with Winterfylleth, Wolves in the Throne Room or Skagos then you’re likely to have an immediate affinity with what these boys are all about.

The three tracks on this untitled début (Hibernacula) – ‘I’, ‘II’, and, yes, you’ve guessed, ‘III’ – are all, in their own ways, pretty damn brilliant. There is a raw determination in the vocals of singer Ryan Saunders; whatever trials and tribulations this man has been through, he has found an outlet for his pain and redemption that seems validating and almost valedictory. This personal journey of facing personal mortality is ably supported by some brilliant musicianship: dark, brooding basslines from Oliver Walton and some terrific, elemental drumming from Luke Braddick create an experience that ebbs, flows, leaps and soars through a panoply of emotions, textures and moods.

This is black metal without artifice or pretence but black metal with resilience and personal fortitude. Terra might only just be starting to set out their stall but what a stall this is.

 

8.0/10

Terra on Facebook

 

MAT DAVIES

Sleep – Earthless/Heavy Blanket Live at the House of Blues, Boston, MA

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I recently had the opportunity to catch Sleep for the first time while on their current tour when they stopped to play the House of Blues in Boston. I had been able to touch base with guitarist Matt Pike a few weeks earlier when High on Fire came through Cambridge as part of Converse’s Rubber TracksLive tour. According to Pike, the show had sold out, another four hundred or so tickets were released, and it sold out for a second time. Excellent.

The venue was just as packed as expected, however, I did not expect the number of hipsters that I saw. From where I was, it seemed like they may have outnumbered everyone else there. I also saw a sparkly fedora. It was strange, but interesting. The merch line was ridiculous and even longer than most of the ones that I got stuck in at the GWAR-B-QUE the week before. I was lucky enough to make it in and out in under ten minutes but there were quite a few that were standing in line for the majority of the show while merchandise sold out faster than I’ve ever seen before.

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Openers Earthless and Heavy Blanket (J. Mascius) took the stage together to play a good chunk of their EP In a Dutch Haze (Outer Battery Records) in one long instrumental piece. I have minimal knowledge of either entity outside of this single experience so I can only comment on them as whole. They were great and you really don’t need to use words when you can let the music speak for you instead.

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Onto the main event! With a set clocking in at two hours, this was basically “An Evening with Sleep”. I’m used to seeing Pike play the role of front man with High on Fire, but I was great to finally see Al Cisneros in person. I’m pretty sure I annoyed the people around me enough with my Pike related fangirling anyway though. I just about lost it when they played ‘Aquarian’. Pretty much anything off of Holy Mountain (Earache Records) makes me babble incoherently and that album made up roughly half of their set, including the crowd favorite, ‘Dragonaut’. Other honorable mentions go to ‘From Beyond’, ‘Sonic Titan’, and ‘Dopesmoker’. We were also fortunate enough to witness the live debut of the band’s latest single ‘The Clarity’ which had been featured as part of the Adult Swim Singles program for 2014. The only thing I would have asked would have been the addition of ‘The Druid’ to the set list. Listen, I’m pretty sure we all would have stuck around for a three or four hour long performance. Maybe we’ll have better luck next time. Until then, heed their call and follow the smoke to the riff filled land.

Sleep on Facebook

Earthless on Facebook

Heavy Blanket on Facebook

ALEIDA LA LLAVE