On the heels of their new release, You Won’t Get What You Want, and a constant flood of emails and ads promoting it, I decided to go to the sold out Daughters show at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA on March 12th. On paper this is a band that I would think would be interesting and some of the songs on their albums I found to be just that, interesting. Live, however, I found it to be a much different thing, at least for me, but definitely not for the hundreds in attendance who clearly had a good time. Continue reading
Many touring bands today enjoy their seldom “days off” while on the road. Every once in a while, a touring band will use these days off and turn them into one-off shows nearby to their trek. Abbath provided Boston with such an occasion, a day before the first official stop on the tour they were supporting. Add in a few solid local openers inside a smaller venue such as The Sinclair and you have quite the show for a Tuesday night! Continue reading
Not much in this life beats seeing some great bands play live, except for when you see great bands play live and it is the last stop on the tour. On March 24th in front of an eager Cambridge crowd at The Sinclair, Ecstatic Vision, YOB, and Enslaved brought forth a memorable show to close out the first quarter of the year. For me, I had never heard/listened to Ecstatic Vision, only recently started listening to YOB after they were announced for Maryland Deathfest 2015, and have become a big Enslaved fan over the years. To top it all off, this was the final stop on the tour and was curious to see what sort of shenanigans or special moments could occur. To be honest, I still can’t believe some of the things I saw and how ‘Isa’ by Enslaved is now ruined for me forever (in a good way of course).Ecstatic Vision, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
To start off the night on what turned out to be a great note, Ecstatic Vision rocked out and certainly made a vast amount of new fans in Cambridge, MA. The entire set I tried to place what I was listening to, and the best description I could come up with was Deep Purple with Rob Zombie during the White Zombie era on vocals. Naturally, this combination got me excited from the start of the set and straight through until the house lights came on. In a strange moment during one of the epic tracks in the set, Enslaved’s own Grutle Kjellson (lead vocals/bass) and Herbrand Larsen (keyboards, synthesizer, clean vocals) appears on stage to provide some manly hugs to the guys in Ecstatic Vision. Strangest of all was Grutle walking around in a t-shirt and his underwear. Due up next, doom titans, YOB.
Yob, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
Having only got around to really listening to the latest album from YOB and a select few other tracks, I had high hopes for their live performance. I am happy to say that my high hopes were met, and then some. Given the length of the available set time and the average length of a YOB song, I was not anticipating anymore than a few songs and more than likely one or two off the latest album. Turned out they played a total of four tracks, three of which came off of the new album. The set kicked off with ‘In Our Blood’ which shook the very foundation of The Sinclair and the souls of its guests. In a surprise turn of events, Grutle made his way out to center stage again where a spare microphone was waiting for him as he provided guest vocals for ‘Nothing To Win.’ This would not be the end of Enslaved’s appearances as Grutle, Herbrand, and the rest of the crew would come out and provide more manly hugs to the guys from YOB. It appeared YOB may have been done after just three songs, but Mike Scheidt announced they had time for one last song, ‘Burning the Altar.’ The threesome from Oregon had absolutely blown me away with their live stage presence and I am more than excited to catch them again at MDF this year!YOB and Enslaved, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
At long last, it was time for Enslaved to return to the stage, but actually play some music rather than provide comic relief. The set list from the long time extreme metal favorites was obviously in support of their latest release, In Times (Nuclear Blast), so a couple or so songs could be expected and then a few other songs sprinkled in. Off of the new album, the Cambridge audience got to hear ‘Thurisaz Dreaming’, ‘Building With Fire’, and the album title track, ‘In Times.’ On top of that, the set included a track from 8 other albums such as: Axioma Ethica Odini, Below the Lights, Frost, RIITIIR, and Ruun! Normally when I order a flight, I expect a couple of sample size beers for tasting. However, Enslaved truly put on a flight of their catalog for fans both new and old. Personally, I really enjoyed hearing some of the older tracks such as ‘The Watcher’ and ‘Fenris’. In case there was any question, yes, Grutle’s in between song banter and jokes were present and as funny as ever. Always nice to know that some bands out there today can still play some great heavy metal, but can avoid taking themselves so seriously and just have a good time. As most of the Enslaved fans could guess, the set ended with fan favorite ‘Isa’. However, the joke was on Enslaved at this point as members from both YOB and Ecstatic Vision rushed the stage playing pretending to play instruments unplugged. Also, and most notably, some members of the band and road crew were holding pieces of cardboard that looked to spell ‘Iza’ or someone had difficulty drawing the letter S. Then another Z came out, and then a P. Just when I realized that they had spelled out “pizza” (which is all I can hear now during said song now) some ladies from the merch tables came out on stage and started handing out pieces of pizza out to the crowd! This was certainly a first for me and I am not sure I will ever see anything like that again.Enslaved, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography Enslaved, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
Enslaved with YOB and Ecstatic Vision, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
It just goes to show you that not much can beat an Enslaved show, regardless of who comes with them. However, on this specific tour, I think the selection of support bands were damn near flawless. Also, I wanted to quickly mention my ever growing love for The Sinclair venue. I have been to this venue now for a handful of shows and the staff is always friendly, lighting/sound is perfect, and just the overall atmosphere just seems to really click. As for Enslaved, YOB, and Ecstatic Vision, I think the rest of the heavy metal world has a lot to cover at this point to bring such a diverse but entertaining group of bands together for a tour.
WORDS BY TIM LEDIN
Skeletonwitch continues up their climb up the modern metal ladder. They seem to be a band generally liked by many, with no real haters as far as I can tell. Their infectious combination of blackened thrash metal frames them as a crossover act for fans of many genres of metal. It doesn’t hurt that they are a tight live act and a lot of fun to see on stage. Waiting patiently for a legit headline tour, not just off dates here and there, the band promised to reward faithful fans with a deep set list. I rolled with Ghost Cult photog Meg Loyal, and we got there early, mingling with a lot of Boston Metaldom’s usual suspects.
Starting things off right was Black Anvil. They immediately ripped Cambridge a new hole from the jump with the lively, caustic stage show and brutal sounds. I was an immediate fan of their album Hail Death (Relapse) which is a modern masterpiece, and it took me by surprise as the venerable NYDM and NYBM scene, although historically great, hasn’t turned out a band that really captured my heart a long time. I think even the early crowd in the venue was shocked at how killer their set was. They played with the energy and power of a headliner and really inspired the early crowd to move around a bit and hurt each other. This is a band definitely on the rise, so don’t sleep on them.
Ghoul is always a lot of fun live and they were the perfect band for the middle slot on this tour. Our heroes from Creepsylvania always come to party with GWAR-inspired fake blood, and all kinds of crazy characters as a part of their performance. More than anything, Ghoul is a killer band with sick chops playing a fun take on a deathly take on old-school Bay Area thrash metal. There were circle pits galore, crazy breakdown and mass hilarity ensued. They definitely had their own core of fans in the house based on all the Ghoul merch being sported (fail!), and also bought and toted (good job!). It’s rare that you laugh as much as you headbang at a show. GWAR (RIP Dave Brockie) is one band that has always done that for me and Ghoul carries on that tradition to the hilt. Do yourself a solid and go pick up their latest EP Hang Ten (Tankcrimes) or any of their albums really.
Time to die for the Witch! The thing I like about The Sinclair is they do run a tight ship. The change over was fast and the band hit the stage with a quickness. There isn’t a bad place to watch the show from in the entire room and I had a good spot. I was interested to see if the crowd had any energy left at all since the Ghoul set was a non-stop mosh-pit frenzy. When Skeletonwitch opened up with ‘I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)’, their past go-to closer, it was a glorious moment. It can be hard for bands to break their own mold and change things up, so kudos to them for that. This was a portend of things to come with an excellent set list of “hits” and deep cuts they promised.
And what a set is was! The band brandished their musical might this time with a relentless performance that definitely had the mark of greatness. The fans drank, danced, headbanged and screamed along with every word. Chance Garnette and crew whipped the crowd into a frenzy with cut after cut from their repertoire. Chance paced the stage, inciting more and more fury from the pit and the rest of the crowd. Even up in the rafters, you could see people were feeling it too. This was an awesome night rushing towards an awesome finish; as the band closed out the night with mostly old-school tracks. On this evening if you were in the house, you knew you were witnessing one of the ascendant bands in the American metal scene. Hailz!
Skeletonwitch Set List:
I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)
More Cruel Than Weak
From a Cloudless Sky
Burned From Bone
Upon Wings of Black
Choke Upon Betrayal
Fire from the Sky
Stand Fight and Die
Beneath Dead Leaves
This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill)
Crushed Beyond Dust
Cleaver of Souls
Beyond the Permafrost
Baptized in Flames
Limb from Limb
Of Ash and Torment
Within My Blood
Skeletonwitch on Facebook
WORDS: KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES
This show was a tasty treat for the listening senses. It’s not often that every individual band on a bill brings different and complementary sounds. Usually you go to a show and expect most of the bands to either sound similar or just have no real logical flow as to the running order, or just be so disparate sonically that you’re wondering if the bands’ names were pulled out of a hat at random. With that being said, that was far from the situation here. Continue reading