We were back at the Worcester Palladium for the massive fall tour co-headline tour of Municipal Waste and Napalm Death, with Sick Of It All and Take Offense as support! The venue had been home to the annual Rock and Shock all weekend, “3 days of Metal and Horror”. The weekend had already seen the likes of Korpiklanni, Eluveitie, Revocation, with locals like Vivisepulture, and Ice Giant (Day 1) and Day 2 was dominated by the folks over at Psychopathic Records with the Insane Clown Posse and all their friends as well, with a few local bands opening on the second stage upstairs. Continue reading
Southern Rock inspired punk/metal, 80’s Thrash Metal, a band comeback after twenty-three years, Trump decapitations, crack busts, and semen canons?! You, my friend, either just walked into your new neighbor’s apartment… OR a GWAR concert. Let’s pray for the latter and jump into the fray! The Paradise Rock Club. Legendary venue, tiny floor space, and a sold-out show. All the makings for a Sunday night show to share with everyone at the office on Monday morning. Continue reading
Do you like experimental jazz fusion with dizzying drum patterns and enough time signature changes to make any music theory student do their version of the happy dance? Then have I got a show for you! Chon with DOMi and JD Beck! Continue reading
Rocklahoma 2019. Three days in the sun, dust, and more sun over Memorial Day weekend (four days technically if you count the Thursday night pre-party). This was the 12 year of this annual festival and it was set to be one for the books from the get-go. Getting to this massive party was no small task on my part. Driving from New Hampshire to Oklahoma isn’t exactly a relaxing Sunday drive. Two full days of driving, two full-on tornadoes, and 1,700 miles later, I had arrived at my Air BnB in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Roughly 50 minutes outside of Pryor. Continue reading
Heading into the newly renovated Worcester Palladium, I didn’t really know what to expect. I have been coming to shows here for years, all the way back to 2005 to be exact. And to be honest, I had grown accustomed, even fond, of the “hole-in-the-wall” look of it all. Both upstairs and down. Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Septicflesh Set List:
The Vampire From Nazareth
A Great Mass of Death
Order of Dracul
WORDS BY TIM LEDIN
It was a chilly night in a quieter than usual Saturday in Cambridge Massachusetts. The Middle East nightclub sits on a welcoming strip of culturally diverse shops and restaurants. A perfect location for Protest the Hero’s Volition (Razor & Tie) tour; a multi-national and eclectic metallic offering.
For all of the shows I’ve been fortunate enough to attend in the New England area, this marked the first time I’ve attended a show downstairs at the Middle East. A basement venue that resembles the ultimate metal mancave or what Rocko’s in Manchester New Hampshire could have been if the staff actually cared. An hour between doors and the opening band afforded me ample time to down some economy brews and admire the not particularly well-lit, but intimate locale.
First up were Protest the Hero’s Canadian brethren in Intervals. For an unsigned band they’ve garnered lots of attention in progressive and tech-metal circles, especially with their latest release, A Voice Within. With the room starving for some live volume, the boys in Intervals were happy to oblige. Heavy 7-string palm muting was underway with tunes like ‘Alchemy’ and ‘Ephemeral’ starting the evening’s first mosh-pits. It was modern tech-metal or djent through and through; Tesseract shirts and Ibanez/Steinberger guitar interplay aplenty. Obviously talented players with a lot of stage energy, the only problem being the repetitive nature of djent. Midway through the set the songs began to feel repetitive. However things livened up again at the end of the performance when they jumped into songs like ‘Automaton’ and ‘Moment Marauder’ which featured some catchy melodies and riffs not unlike Periphery’s.
London England’s The Safety Fire sieged the stage next with their frenetic, noisy art-metal. Since I had missed out on their last North American trek, it was very satisfying to finally catch them tearing into live numbers from last year’s sublime Mouth of Swords (Inside Out). To the best of my knowledge The Safety Fire is considered progressive metal, but to be honest I wouldn’t know what to label them as. As evidenced by live flow of offerings like ‘Red Hatchet’ and ‘Huge Hammers’ their sound is metal one second and sometime that you’d find in Spin magazine the next. And I liked that. A lot, actually. Now that I had gotten a taste of their live sound, I’m ready for a proper headlining turn from these British upstarts.
At this point the Middle East was a sweatbox and I needed some more Pabst Blue Ribbon relief in order to properly enjoy the awesome that is Battlecross live. After refueling at the bar I took a spot front and center to take in Battlecross’ brand of “Blue Collar Thrash Metal” as close and loudly as possible. The bearded Michigan metal warriors did not disappoint. Guitarists Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala traded off blazing riffs and searing leads effortlessly. What I thought would be a very pro-progressive metal audience ate up Battlecross’ savage thrash stylings. Sure the argument can be made that they only have one speed (a very brisk one, thanks to former Black Dahlia Murder drummer Shannon Lucas holding down on drums), but is that really an issue when you’ve got most of the crowd buying what you’re selling? If you weren’t headbanging you were in one of the various circle pits that would break at the drop of a hat or raiding their merchandise booth. Audience reaction to pit-churners like ‘Kaleb’ and ‘Flesh and Bone’ was so raucous that frontman Kyle Gunther declared Cambridge to be the best crowd of the entire tour.
Protest the Hero faced the stiff challenge of following up Battlecross’ assault, but the Torontonians were up to the task. Armed with some truly respectable facial hair, Protest served their Dream Theater by the way of Botch sonic cocktail to a crowd that hung on to every word. The young Canadians burned through 12 songs in the span of an hour and ten minutes, ranging from Kezia era anthems like ‘Blindfolds’ to more recent stompers like ‘Underbite.’ Midway into their effort the many fans had forgotten about the “No Crowd-Surfing” policy and were attempting to join the band onstage. Having the best live-sound on the bill paid dividends as it showcased the band’s technical mastery and vocalist Rody Walker’s pipes. And speaking of Walker, his witty lyrics are only matched by his onstage banter. Walker maintained an easy charm with the crowd even though most in attendance were Bruins fans while he’s partial to his Toronto Maple Leafs. I mean if we can’t agree on how much The Montreal Canadians and Max Pacioretty suck, then what can we agree on really? Conversations on hockey and the integrity of modern Star Trek movies is how you make inroads to great international relations. They capped off their set with crowd favorites ‘Bloodmeat’ and for my money is their best song, ‘C’est La Vie.’
It was good night in Cambridge. Overall we got quality sets from great bands at a good price. If I had my way, Protest the Hero would have played for a little longer than an hour and ten minutes. And maybe I should’ve gotten a couple of more economy suds from the bar before calling it a night. But all things considered, a highly enjoyable time.
Words: Hansel Lopez
Photos: Chris Small of CWS Photography