Say what you will about his corpse paint and his knack for iconic promotional photography posing, but Abbath still has it. Most questions and doubts should’ve been settled by 2016s stellar Abbath, but we metal fans are fickle and panic-prone when it comes to new music. Turns out that after listening Outstrider (Season of Mist), Abbath was no fluke. After decades of working as a professional musician and penning several stone-cold classics with Immortal, Abbath still has plenty left in the tank. Continue reading
Let’s get it on the table – Godless Arrogance (Hammerheart) is well played and excellently produced with a good energy. Frontman J. Kruitwagen unleashes powerful, feral howls, and Koos Bos shines with a 36 minute holocaust from behind the kit. This is a decent black metal release with very obvious Gorgoroth and Immortal reference points.
However, for all its competency, like so many faceless corpse-painted albums before it, Godless Arrogance is pointless. It has no personality, no individuality and serves no real purpose. Not every album should, or can be boundary pushing, but sticking rigidly to a style and formula that has been stuck rigidly to for nigh on twenty years by countless others leaves them in the middle of an unspectacular and very large pack.
Black Metal is intrinsically a scene of contradiction – claiming rebellion and anarchy while entrenched in blatant retrospection and reverence to a select few hallowed reference points. But these days it’s a blunted rebellion, stunted by a refusal to move beyond a formula that was first laid down 25 years ago by Bathory and then refined and defined by Darkthrone, Burzum, Mayhem, Emperor et al.
Staring out the window wistfully, a half-grin plays on the lips as fond memories tickle the brain of a time when black metal was exciting and boasted creativity and diversity, when acts mutated and pushed boundaries. Sadly Godless Arrogance, for all its’ sonic strength and no matter how well played it is, lacks any desire to be anything other than just another black metal album. If they were alone in their Gorgoroth/Immortal worship, then I might think more kindly, but it’s over 20 years since Pure Holocaust (Osmose) and 19 since Antichrist (Malicious). The repetition of sound and style by Sammath and others is well beyond boring now.
On October 8th, 2014, In the Minds of Evil North American tour featuring Carach Angren, Abysmal Dawn, Inquisition, Septic Flesh, and headliners, Deicide, took The Webster in Hartford, CT by storm. It is not often that a tour package truly puts together from to opener to headliner a bill where every band brings out excitement in the audience. This tour, however, defied those odds and had every fan in attendance wanting more after the final note ended.
First up is symphonic black metal three-piece, Carach Angren. Coming into this show, I had not heard a single peep about this band or what they were all about. Sure, some of you may think that is ignorant and I should listen to the band’s work first. I, however, love the element of surprise and this band surely had the upper hand on my ignorant ears. Most of the set was dedicated to the latest album, Where the Corpses Sink Forever, with half of the songs being from said album. Personally, my favorite track played, entitled ‘Bloodstains on the Captain’s Log’, is off of the previous album that is entirely about The Flying Dutchmen legend. Upon doing some research, I found that Carach Angren albums are all concept albums, each about a different folklore/legend. This band will certainly be making their way onto my iTunes library in no time.
Another new band to me was up next on the bill, Abysmal Dawn. Awkwardly enough, I confused this band for Amberian Dawn which is a vastly different band. In my opinion, I think I made off a lot better with Abysmal over Amberian. I unfortunately do not have any of the song titles that played, but I am certain we got one song off the yet to be released album entitled Obsolescence (Relapse). If that song was just a taste of things to come, I will be sure to pick up the next release without a doubt. Abysmal Dawn rocked The Webster hard throughout the whole set with their aggressive yet groovy death metal which certainly left me wanting to hear more of what the LA foursome had to offer.
The celestial black metal two piece known as Inquisition had the middle of the card to play (which I was extremely excited for as they have become one of my favorite black metal bands out today). I figured with a new album out last year and minimal North American tour exposure we would get a good chunk of new material and we did. The set opened up with ‘Force of the Floating Tomb’ (yes I chanted “raise the chalice” with Dagon) and saw other new favorites ‘Master of the Cosmological Black Cauldron’ as well as the closing song, ‘Infinite Interstellar Genocide’. The Hartford crowd also got older tracks such as ‘Those of the Night’, ‘Nefarious Dismal Orations’, and ‘Command of the Dark Crown’. Overall, Inquisition got to play 8 songs in total over a 40 minute span which actually seems like a lot, but of course I could really go for a headline tour at some point by the next album’s release. If you have not checked this band out yet, the new album, Obscure Verses for the Multiverse (Season of Mist), was one of the best albums to come out in 2013 and I highly recommend it.
What better way to follow up the band that released my favorite album in 2013 then to have the next band playing be the creators of my favorite album of 2011! Septicflesh, who may be the greatest extreme metal band out there today, brought their A game as per expected with the creepy sounds of the Prague Philharmonic playing over the PA. I may have mentioned how good The Great Mass (Season of Mist/Prosthetic) was in 2011, but Septicflesh’s newest release that came out this year, Titan, is also a larger than life release from these Greek geniuses. Ironically, only two new songs made the cut for the set. Even so, the two choices were excellent choices with ‘Order of Dracul’ and ‘Burn’. Staple songs such as opener ‘Vampire From Nazareth’, ‘Communion’, and ‘A Great Mass of Death’ kept the fans head’s banging and bodies colliding in the pit. Typically, I have seen Septicflesh close their sets with ‘Five Pointed Star’. This time around, I actually got to see one of my favorite SF tracks as the closer, ‘Anubis’. I am happy to report that I sang along with the Sotiris vocal recordings over the PA while others just started at me like I had six heads.
To close out the night, The Webster attendees were greeted to a lengthy set list from the death metal icons themselves, Deicide. The set list contained a couple of select tracks from the newest release (‘Beyond Salvation’, ‘End the Wrath of God’, ‘Thou Begone’, and the title track, ‘In the Minds of Evil’). However, most of the remainder of the set list brought a ton of classic Deicide for fans ranging from as young as 17 to as old as 48! Some of the classics played were: ‘Once Upon the Cross’, ‘They Are the Children of the Underworld’, ‘Dead by Dawn’, ‘Dead but Dreaming’, ‘Trifixion’, and the set closer, ‘Kill the Christian’. The moment that I got the most excited (along with a lot of other fans around me) is when album track ‘Scars of the Crucifix’ was played. Something about that song live just brings out the crazy side in people which I absolutely loved. Front man/bassist Glenn Benton was in his usual form. He even got a good laugh out of the audience when he flicked a bass pick over to a fan, the fan missed it, and he exclaimed “Nice catch, Fuck Face!” Overall, this showing by Deicide was the best I have seen them yet and I am looking forward to the next time they come around.
Even though I was coming right from my day job almost two hours away, had a hard time finding parking with no cash on hand, and was a little nervous for my interview with Christos from Septicflesh (coming soon) this journey was very much worth it! This was also my first show at The Webster in Hartford and I have to say I certainly enjoyed the venue. I will definitely be making a return to Connecticut for the next big tour that does not make it to Massachusetts for sure. For now, I am going to catch up on my Deicide and Inquisition while growing my music library with albums from Abysmal Dawn and Carach Angren.
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