Dream Theater 10-7-2016
Live At The Hanover Theater, Worcester, MA
All Photos By Matt Lambert/Trebmal Photography
It was fitting for me that my last real show of a busy, stressful 2014 was the Opeth – In Flames co-headline tour. Although both bands are now products of an older generations’ music scene, both bands still have some swerve in their steps and in the case of Opeth, they had one of the best albums of the last year. know a lot of my peers and friends were at Pig Destroyer on this night in Boston proper. Much internet squabbling was made over the preceding months about what fanbase was wasting their money on this night, by missing the other band. Plus, I had my special lady with me on this night, also an old-school fan, so date night in Woostah it was!
Seeing Red Fang in the opening slot shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. We get it wrong consistently in America; where we want all the bands to be the same style on every bill. I for one felt it was refreshing to have these rising stars in their own right on this tour. They also have a lot of fans in common based on the reception they got, playing a brief set of their best known material. Red Fang also leans a tad towards prog at times too, so I could totally see them come out of the blocks with their next album being an out and out Mastodon/Baroness/70s prog worship. They can pull it off too. Trust.
Morphing into a band with almost three distinctly different eras of a back catalogs at this rate, In Flames had a mostly excited crowd on their hands to see a set of their recent hits and singles. Although the pits were kind of weak looking, most people sang a long with newer material, showing that the fans that pay still count (record buyers, concert goers) more than haters . While older fans in the room sighed collectively at the fact that ‘Cloud Connected’ and ‘Trigger’ came back to back tonight, a signifier in the timeline when this bands’ sound changed forever, there were set high points. Maybe five percent of the crowd even acknowledged ‘Only For The Weak’ from Clayman. The band does what they want to clearly, oblivious to trends or angry fanboy wishes. Still, the band put on a fine show.
Finally it was time for Opeth. Considering the shared lighting rig, the change-over tonight seemed a bit overlong, but when they finally came on, it was all good. No real surprises in terms of performance, just flawless prog rock majesty. The audience seemed really keyed into Mikael Åkerfeldt tonight, they screamed with delight at him every time he took a solo or led a passage. Each member of the band really displayed their musical command in these longer-form pieces, and makes them more than just a front man with a vision and some other dudes, like many acts.
Even if modern Opeth albums have fallen out of favor with their original fanbase, when they started playing a track like ‘The Moor’ from Still Life the entire building shook with elation. It was a gem and make no mistake, Mikael can still growl amazingly, whenever he wants to. Other set list highlights were ‘The Drapery Falls’, the sublime and depressive ‘Windowpane’, and a brilliant version of ‘Deliverance’. When they jam that long ending start/stop riff at the end of a show, it is one of the best moments you could ever experience in rock or metal. The band had a five-minute standing ovation after they left the stage, but there was no encore on this night.
Opeth Set List:
WORDS: KEITH CHACHKES
Day 3 of Rock and Shock was underway by the time I arrived in Worcester. Rock and Shock, like all events at this venue is a big party type atmosphere. Especially when you run into all of your peers and scene regulars who make the shows here so fun. Some of my peeps were looking pretty rough from a few longs nights and days of metal and gore-tastic fun. I was feeling pretty fresh since I took it easy this year and only made it to day 3. As much as I am a fan of King Diamond and Overkill (a huge fan) I have seen The King before and the `Kill countless times, so I was good. This date of the fest has some amazing bands, but most notably The return of Life of Agony and GWAR‘s return to Worcester without Oderus Urungus (RIP Dave Brockie).
One of the downsides to the stacked bill on both the large downstairs stage and the smaller upstairs room was the over-lapping of band sets that took place. More about this in a bit. I showed up a little too late to see local stars in the making such as Conforza and Swarm of Eyes share the small stage along side of national touring bands such as American Shark and Thy Will Be Done. I caught some of their blistering set and I always wonder why these guys aren’t better known by now. I’m sure their new album is going to be killer. I also caught a little bit of Carnifex who is always solid and had a big showing of fans in the pit by the main stage.
Then came the consternation-having part of the day. Origin was to headline the small stage, which if you’ve ever experienced them live, you know how much fun they can be. However, playing at the exact same time was Origin’s Nuclear Blast label-mates Decapitated, fresh off the release of their amazing new album Blood Mantra. I went through all the stages of denial. How could this be allowed to happen? Two of my favorite bands competing for my attention. Them came the torn and angry stage. How the fuck did this happen? And the final stage, righteous indignation: this better never happen to me ever again!!! Seriously…. what the hell is my problem (a first world problem at that!). I tried to be pragmatic as ever, but there was no way to really see both bands. I watched the intro and the entire first song from Decapitated, which was face-melting fast! There was a huge crowd for them, but not too much of a pit for such a killer opening song as ‘Exiled in Flash’. As the second song started I turned on a dime and ran (or my approximation of running) upstairs to see Origin positively destroying the second stage. The tiny presentation just made them seem larger than life, awesome. On of the things that makes me crazy about Origin is how out of control technical they are, while looking like the barely break a sweat. One guy sweating was vocalist Jason Keyser who has really taken over and owned his spot on the mic. The pit action was non-stop and there were even some chubby vest wearing crowd surfers! Playing a mix of old and new tracks, the proved to be one of the best bands of the day, and can rival Dying Fetus as a live act any day. Towards the end of the set they had the fans do a river of death or a red sea of death or um, a chicken dance of death… I couldn’t tell. All I know is the entire floor of people bumrushed each other in a a cool new way I never saw before. Game. Set. Match. Origin.
With scant little time to spare I darted out of the building to hit the convention center briefly. I essentially did a victory lap in the venue and I have to echo the sentiment of my esteemed colleague Tim Ledin from his review, which is one must really earmark time to make sure to get over to this. It looked pretty amazing with horror movie stars meeting and mingling, tons of vendors, a horror movie film fest, live tattooing, and much more. My other motive for hitting the convention up was a brief but fun interview with Alan Robert of Life of Agony. Not so fun was the look of death stare Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein gave me as I interrupted, him, LOA’s Joey Z and Alan from talking to get my interview done. Thems the breaks when your a music journo folks! Sometimes you gotta risk a beatdown from a legend to get your story.
Finishing with Alan, I ran back in the venue to catch most of Darkest Hour’s set. With the newly shorn of his long locks, front man John Henry struck an even more imposing figure on the stage. DH is always a solid live band, if some days not spectacular. They never have a problem playing with any kind of bill and certainly brought out their heavy material playing between Decapitated and Dying Fetus. They definitely had their fans in the house, as they always do, but the rest of the crowd wasn’t feeling them as strongly as I have seen in the past.
Next was one of the highlight bands of the fest in Dying Fetus. I have spend many hours in the past espousing how brutal and tight the DF crew is live, so for a change of pace, I am going to just list some observations that I noted during their set.
No band has as many female moshers or crowdsurfers as them.
Trey Williams is perhaps tireless and flawless as a death metal drummer.
Even when Dying Fetus doesn’t play their “hit” songs, as a fan you are never left disappointed by what they did play.
I have never seen John Gallagher smile once. Ever.
Sean Beasley’s forearms look like giant butternut squashes, holding up a bass guitar.
There is almost no band except for Cannibal Corpse that is as good live in death metal.
Despite following that tough act in Fetus, Unearth came up like they owned the stage. The usual almost-hometown band schtick always works for them at The Palladium. This time was no exception. Their new material from their new album Watchers of Rule (eOne) was very solid and I think will surprise people with its throwback (hardcore metal, less metalcore) angle. At the same time, some of the fun Unearth has playing live seems to feel a little scripted to me these days. Maybe I have just seen this band too many times in the past. Could be. Still tuneful and entertaining.
For me seeing Life of Agony again was always going to be emotional, as it always is. I was most looking forward to seeing this band, before the fest happened. I was blown away by how many LOA heads were in the house, especially since to me they are such a quintessential New York metal band, and Worcester is spitting distance to Boston. I told myself I wasn’t gonna cry, but exactly three notes into ‘River Runs Red’ and tears were rolling down my face. I couldn’t really help it. I know a lot of people feel like LOA is an unknown commodity these days, but even the toughest hardcore dude from back in the day dare not front on the sanctified, emotive lyrics of this killer band. They played great considering they only had one show recently, a sell-out, comeback-type affair in New Jersey in September. They also chose an immaculate set list full of gems. I definitely lost it a few more times, most notably during ‘Bad Seed’, ‘I Regret’, and ‘Lost At 22’. Anyone in attendance could vouch for the fact that Mina Caputo’s spot on performance was the individual, musical highlight of the day. Part fiery blues shamaness, part rocking chanteuse, part hardcore hellion all grown up: she gave a chilling and inspiring display. Fans who are going to catch this act live in a few months time in Europe, I am jealous of you all.
Last and not least, it was go time for GWAR. With many Bohabs traveling far and wide (and local) to see one of the first shows minus the late great Dave Brockie, there was a lot of pre-fest talk if they should be touring at all without the visage of Oderus Urungus in tow. People asked me if I thought they have the right to go on. I say, yes, yes they do! For a full 20 minutes before the band took the stage, the crowd loudly chanted for the band and Oderus. Fans were already moshing and surfing with no band on the stage! Finally a sampling of ‘War Pigs’ over the PA got people a little under control. The reaction of the crowd was succinct: GWAR was back, and the death of its front man wasn’t going to stop people from wanting to get fake blood and jizz on them.
And they backed it up with an amazing show! Starting with the premise of a missing Oderus (and an appearance I was not ready for, of Oderus performing from outer-space via video) the entire troupe of scumdogs running through an intricate story of missing their leader, coping without him, everyone vying temporarily for his spot in the band, and finally, accepting his death. It was heavy, but I could not stop laughing or smiling until the end. Oddly enough the entire band seemed a lot more animated and mobile on stage with out the big guy there. New additions Blothar and Vulvatron were fine and it was killer to see Gor Gor too.
The end of the set, where they acknowledged his death was one of the deepest things I have ever seen in metal. They had a moment of silence for Brockie/Oderus and brought his sword on stage, with everyone taking a knee and bowing. Tears were flowing, including the band members who broke character for a few minutes of painful realism. With the singing of ‘The Road Behind’ nearly everyone in the venue was welling up and losing it. It was tough, but good a group to share this experience. Then after another brief silence the band celebrated their “breakthrough” of acceptance by playing their new cover song ‘West End Girls’ and calling it a night. It was a draining, but satisfying way to send out the show and night. Yes, it is not the same old GWAR and I hope in time they can go back to a more traditional type of show. At the same time, how many bands had to deal with this kind of loss and have done so well with it? The moral of the story is GWAR rules and even death can’t stop them.
WORDS: KEITH (KEEFY CHACHKES)
Day 1 of Rock and Shock 2014 had many doubters after Machine Head had canceled their tour which was to make their stop in Worcester, Massachusetts on this day. Children of Bodom and Epica were on this tour but were not able to make it out after the tour was canceled. Having said that, we were still offered a great day with Overkill taking over the headlining spot, Doyle from The Misfits and his “Rocking Dead” band playing a one off show filled with Misfits covers, as well as Battlecross who even after the MH tour was caput, still found a way to play for us. There were also a great list of opening acts before the day officially started with Swedish group, Avatar, and a sweet dose of technical death metal from Arsis. I wish I had more time to catch the local openers, but unfortunately the convention down the street at the DCU center sucked up a lot of time (fortunately not money).
In the small stage upstairs, the freak show look-a-likes in Avatar brought their unique personality and stage presence to a larger than expected crowd. Lead man, Johannes Eckerström, truly set the mood with his odd on stage antics including swinging his cane around and drinking straight from a gasoline container (please note: I am positive that he was not actually drinking gasoline). Fan favorites seemed to be ‘Let It Burn’ and ‘Smells like a Freakshow.’ This having been my first time seeing Avatar live, I am looking forward to my next experience. Possibly a headlining show with a bigger stage show perhaps?
Moving downstairs after a quick bite to eat, I put myself right on the barricade for tech death stars, Arsis. Lead guitarist and vocalist, James Malone, was on fire as per the usual. This was also my first time finally seeing Arsis (very delayed I know) so most of my time was spent staring in amazement at the fancy fretwork being displayed in front of me. However, crowd favorite ‘We Are the Nightmare’ hit towards the end of the set and that got my head banging the hardest it had all day. As if that wasn’t enough, we also got a cover song, ‘Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)’ by W.A.S.P. which certainly got the fans engaged with Arsis. I am certainly looking forward to seeing these Virginia Beach natives again with a longer set time of course.
Easily my favorite band to come out in the last 5 or so years hit the stage next, Battlecross. Unfortunate for this Michigan five piece not having their tour with Machine Head to go on, they made sure that they could still make it to R&S. The Worcester audience was treated to two songs off the previous album (‘Push Pull Destroy’ and ‘Kaleb’) while getting a steady dose of the latest material as well (‘Ghost Alive’, ‘Never Coming Back’, ‘My Vaccine’, ‘Beast, Flesh & Bone’). To close out the set, Battlecross made sure to go out with a bang with their cover of arguably Slayer’s greatest song, ‘War Ensemble.’ The pit grew into hysterics and ended the set chanting Battlecross. Before the band took their leave, lead singer Kyle Gunther (aka Gumby), reminded the Worcester crowd that they will return for a headlining show in December on a tour with the likes of Wretched. Also, Gumby may have spit out some news as he confirmed that after this late 2014 tour ends, the boys will be heading back into the studio to write their third album to follow up War of Will (Metal Blade).
Next up was Doyle of The Misfits with the “Rocking Dead” band behind him, playing Misfits tunes. The rest of the Rocking Dead consisted of Wednesday 13 (Murderdolls), Ace Von Johnson (Faster Pussycat), Kriz DK (Deadstar Assembly, Genitorturers), Alan Robert (Life of Agony) and Virus (Device, Dope, Lords of Acid) for this one time live show. Unfortunately I never got into the Misfits outside of a handful of tracks so I couldn’t be certain as to which songs they actually played. I did recognize singles such as ‘Last Caress’ and ‘Die, Die My Darling’ which got me to sing the vocals triumphantly. At one point in the set, Lamb of God vocalist, Randy Blythe, took the microphone for a song that he stated “is about being locked up in an international prison” which certainly is a statement in and of itself. Overall it was cool to know I was one of only a few people who actually saw this one time only performance.
Closing out Day 1 of Rock and Shock was thrash legends, Overkill. Having just released their newest album, White Devil Armory (eOne), I expected a heavy selection of new material. To my surprise, there were 3 selections off of the new album (‘Armorist’, ‘Pig’, ‘Bitter Pill’) and at least one selection off of 8 other previous albums! Fans of all ages enjoyed classics such as ‘Wrecking Crew’, ‘Hello From the Gutter’, ‘End of the Line’, and ‘Rotten to the Core’, while also digging newer tracks such as ‘Electric Rattlesnake’ and ‘Ironbound’. The in between songs banter from front man Bobby Blitz was at its best as per the usual, calling out Boston sports fans due to his love of all things New York and the rivalry between the cities. Bobby was also very active on stage running around like it was still 1986 which is always a delight to see as there is no one else like Mr. Blitz. Closing out the show saw typical closers with ‘Elimination’ and their ever popular Subhumans cover, properly titled ‘Fuck You!’, bring the audience at the Palladium to the climax of their day.
Having been to a few of these convention/festival weekends now over the past few years, I still cannot seem to get all the timing down to ensure I get to all of the bands and cover the convention. Having said that, I am glad I got to see the bands involved on this day of Rock and Shock. Overkill and Battlecross continue to put on some of the most energetic live shows today, I got to see Arsis and Avatar for the first times, and I was also lucky to catch the one time only show of The Rocking Dead super group. Even with Machine Head deciding to kick their tour to the curb, I firmly believe that this day worked out for the better anyways and it will be hard for future R&S band day lineups to beat this one.
WORDS: TIM LEDIN
Rock and Shock 2014 in Worcester, Massachusetts was arguably the best yet. Previously, R&S never had a great pre-party show that ever caught my eye. This year however, they put all the previous year’s pre-parties to rest. The sold out Worcester Palladium crowd was greeted to underrated opening band, Jess and the Ancient Ones, which set the scene of an occult ritual. This was only a prelude to the pre-party as the night concluded with an amazing show from the legendary, King Diamond. Having it been almost a decade since the King’s previous show in the area, the anticipation for his set to begin was almost unbearable. Before we get to The King, I believe Jess and the Ancient Ones deserve quite a good amount of praise.
Not ever listening to a single note that JATAO have recorded, I was very interested in what was so special about this band that King Diamond himself handpicked for his North American Tour. A fellow fan in the cramped pit filled me in that this band had a similar vibe to that of Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats as well as Ghost B.C. and other similar occult/psychedelic rock bands. His description was very accurate and only after half of the set was I finding myself in love with this band. The 70’s rock vibe mixed with Jess’s amazing vocals and her dance moves on stage really set the mood for what this night was all about. My personal favorite track was the 12-minute epic entitled ‘Sulfur Giants’ in the middle of the set. Not knocking any of the other tracks played (‘Prayer for Death and Fire’, ‘Astral Sabbat’, and ‘Casteneda’ to name a few) but this song gave me the same “Wow” factor as Blood Ceremony’s ‘Oliver Haddo’ does. Unfortunately we only got 6 tracks from Jess and The Ancient Ones, but it was a willing sacrifice for what was to come.
As soon as the crew on stage started setting up, a giant black tarp fell down from the ceiling and blocked our view. So as if the anticipation was bad enough, it just got worse. However, the long wait finally ended, the tarp fell, and slowly but surely each member of the band made their way up the staircase behind the drum kit. Finally, King Diamond, made his way up the same staircase, holding his cross-shaped microphone, made out of human bones, in the air. Then the evil ritual began as the first note of ‘The Candle’ was struck. Upside down crosses, a giant pentagram, and a creepy iron caste fence between the band and the crowd, made the atmosphere complete as the fans attempted to hit King’s falsettos (and failed miserably mostly). Fan favorites such as ‘Sleepless Nights’, ‘Eye of the Witch’, ‘The Family Ghost’, and ‘Welcome Home’ (complete with Gramma!) got the Palladium’s volume to ear deafening levels. Of course what would a King Diamond show be without a couple of tracks from Mercyful Fate? Well we got two tracks which made me more than happy. In fact, the entire floor started moving the instant the ever familiar riff to ‘Evil’ started and did not calm down until after ‘Come to the Sabbath’ ended. One of my favorite parts of the evening was when Gramma made another appearance during ‘Tea’ with, yes you guessed it, some tea in a tea kettle for King! It is without a doubt that the downside to this evening for all was after the 14 songs had been played and the night came to an end.
Overall, this night will be one of my favorite shows this year, let alone ever. King Diamond’s vocals were beyond what I expected out of the man who has been doing this for over 30 years and is a survivor from a triple bypass surgery. As equally as astounding is how great Jess and the Ancient ones ended up being. Sure some fans wanted Ghost or 3 Inches of Blood, but JATAO certainly made a statement on this night opening up for such a legendary name. I can only hope that when this new King Diamond album comes out (whenever that is) that I get the privilege of seeing him tour once more. If you were foolish enough to not attend or simply did not live close enough to a stop on this tour, then you best hope for a second chance.
WORDS: TIM LEDIN
Sometimes dreams do come true, and sometimes not so much. As much as I have been a supporter of Summer slaughter in all its incarnations, it has been some time since it really lived up to the billing of “The Most Brutal Tour of The Summer”. I even heard a NASCAR or WWE wrestling announcer’s voice in my head as I typed those words. Still, it’s the true to say that this tour has been lacking in the brutality department for a while and even though I rather enjoy prog and djent bands, and the “whateverthehellyoucallit” style of bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, something was lacking the last few summers. It was death metal and balls to be blunt. Well this year the tour got all its balls back and then some with an amazing lineup stacked pretty much top to bottom. A death metal fans dream to be sure.
Of course my life has a way of clusterfucking my plans over sometimes and so on the big day of the show I got waylaid by a bunch of BS things all happening at once. I ended missing a good half of the bands I wanted to see most, which had me in sick to my stomach to be honest. I hate missing any bands, let alone some amazing locals and bands I admire like Fallujah, Decrepit Birth, and Origin but that’s what happened. I showed up in time to see Goatwhore and heard a bit of their set before I had to run and interview Alex from Fallujah. He was so cool, that it almost made up for the BS I went through.
The first full band performance I saw was Thy Art is Murder and these guys are always excellent live. I actually enjoy them in concert, even more on record. Perhaps it’s because I think their explosive live act hasn’t fully translated to a recording for me yet. Nonetheless, they destroyed the stage, the pit was insane and the crowd of moshing hooligans were feeling it. I know some people griped about TAIM being higher on the bill than Origin, but believe me, they deserve the props they are getting.
The Faceless was up next and I have covered them a lot in my career. At one point it seemed like they were going to be a hybrid of Cynic and Meshuggah and be a legendary band. At times, they actually are. They were cursed by really setting the template for all the “Sumerian” bands to follow them on that label and others, similar to Unearth with metalcore. Still, on this warm August night, The Faceless reminded everyone in the room just how much ass they can kick when they want to. Playing a predominantly old-school set (for them) mainly from the Akeldama and Planetary Duality albums, they just crushed it. Geoffrey Ficco long ago came into his own as the front man of this band, but he left no doubt about his mastery of brutal vocals, his domineering stage presence, and his great sense of humor. Michael Keene as usual played great. He could smile a little less, but I guess he is allowed to feel smug based on what he created here.
Even after the last notes of ‘Zenochrist’ rung out from The Faceless, it was all about Dying Fetus. Fetus is as close to a religious experience as it gets for tech death. They are flawless live and possibly the best band in all of metal in concert. The reason being is they insane virtuosity coupled with their extreme style is just a perfect match for many fans of the genre. They were flawless on this night, true masters of the sick tempos and heavy grooves. They played a short (always too fucking short for me) set list of deep cuts and classic tracks. John Gallagher’s growl is only matched by his unrelenting guitar style. I can’t really believe I have only seen them headline one time ever, but it’s true. ‘One Shot, One Kill’, ‘Intentional Manslaughter’, ‘Justifiable Homicide’ were all mind-blowing! Trey Williams is almost underrated when you start listing the best drummers in death metal. He certainly is never mentioned by most within the first few names, but he should be. He is one of the few drummers in all of metal that can still play super fast double-bass, but still hit for power when he wants to. ‘Praise The Lord (Opium of the Masses)’ was a fitting closer, despite not getting to play ‘Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog’ (again). If I ruled the world, DF would be contractually bound to play that song every single show. And at my house on my birthday!
At last it was time for Morbid Angel to take the stage. I was impressed at how fast and pro their crew was getting set up with nary an extra soundcheck to be done or needed. The band came out to some fitting intro music before lighting up the stage with ‘Immortal Rites’. The band was on-point and note for note perfect. I know David Vincent and crew have had their well-documented missteps, but the band was fierce and played like they had something to prove. Actually they do, and that is they still deserve to be mentioned among the greatest death metal bands/legacy acts around. The set list choices were phenomenal. I think a lot of people forget how many killer songs and albums this band has produced. ‘Fall from Grace’, ‘Day of Suffering’, ‘Maze of Torment’, ‘Curse the Flesh’ and so many more were so good to hear! Trey Azagothoth is still an insane level guitar player and performer. I wish I was able to see more than his elbow, since he hung to his side of the stage mainly. The only guy I was less than impressed with was Tim Yeung (Divine Heresy, World Under Blood). Don’t get me wrong, Timmy can play his ass off. I’d just rather him skip the Tommy Lee worshiping drum stick twirling, and pointing crap. Dude, that shit is lame and you are not getting laid because of it.
Meanwhile, everything on this end of the night set sprang from the presence of David Vincent. Ring leader, demon master, king; he was not to be denied as he curated the set bit by bit. He kept his comments entertaining, but thankfully short. The guy is brilliant and was great at motivating the crowd to keep their energy up after a long day and night. As tonight’s performance indicates, the band is far from over, certainly can still deliver live, and are not to be trifled with!
Until next year Summer Slaughter
Morbid Angel Set List:
Fall from Grace
Day of Suffering
Maze of Torment
Vengeance Is Mine
Ageless, I Still Am
Curse the Flesh
Where the Slime Live
Blood on My Hands
Word of Shit (The Promised Land)
God of Emptiness
WORDS BY KEITH CHACHKES
It’s been a while since I went to a DIY show and the perfect, and maybe only, reason to rectify that came about on Sunday July 6th, when the collaborative project between Thou and The Body came to a place called “The Firehouse” in Worcester, MA. As is the norm with most DIY shows, this was not in a very safe part of the city by far, so I was glad that four of us drove in together. These kinds of shows are not my favorite things usually, since you just never know what you are going to get. That can be exciting for people I guess, but me? I just want a freaking bathroom, clean running water and one clear exit I can hop out of the second it looks like any sort of trouble. Call me a pansy, I don’t care.
Around 9:30pm the openers, Fórn, began their set. I saw them once before at The Middle East Upstairs and was really distracted by a combination of bad sound and the smell of electrical wires in their gear frying. I felt like they were too concerned with playing loudly than having any substance back then. This set was definitely musically stronger and lacked the overpowered sound of too many amps turned past 11 just because they had them. Instead it seemed like they were attempting to capture the sludge/doom sound by playing it instead of just blasting a slow riff and calling it sludgy. The microphone went out for two songs but other than that there were no problems and they sounded good.
With a quick changeover, Rozamov was next up and the night was moving right along towards the 12am curfew. For me, this was the first time seeing this band as a three piece and although I feel like they could use more guitar somehow, they totally held their own with the stripped down sound. They steamed through their set with intensity enough to keep everyone inside this quickly becoming oxygen poor room. Suffering through the now quickly rising heat and smell of sweaty arm pits, groins and asses (I may have thrown up in my mouth a little just typing that), the crowd was rapt and made no attempt at escaping the hot stench to the outside area.
I went for some air and was quickly followed by a room full of sweaty twenty somethings all either looking for cooler air or a puff of burning tobacco. During the swapping of gear and whatnot, a couple of people in attendance were apparently shot with BB guns by un-identified neighbors; such a nice part of town. One was shot in the head and one in the arm, but luckily nothing serious and apparently they got the BB’s out.
By the time Thou and The Body started to play it was clearly uncomfortable in there and had come close to about forty minutes before the curfew. I have seen both bands individually but had not even checked out the collaboration on-line so I was kind of blindsided by the experience. Was it heavy? That is a stupid question but it was that special kind of heavy that tugs at your innards just so. Not enough to lose control of your bowels but more than enough to make it almost impossible not to bob your head, stomp your feet and grind your teeth just a bit. There was a little of the electronic element The Body is known for as well as the punishing vocals you get from Bryan Funck of Thou and when you put that together with a bassist, 2 drummers and 3 guitars, you have a truly one of a kind set. I would have liked to have heard more of Chip King’s (The Body) vocals but from where I was it was barely audible and I would have been interested to hear the dichotomy of his signature wails with the shredded vocal style of Bryan. They closed the set with a Nine Inch Nails cover of “Terrible Lie” but sadly for me, I had just popped outside to get some air and missed the song. I was told it was amazing. Go see the collaboration if it comes near you. It was worth it and I am glad I braved the BB’s, the locals and the smell of moist, hot body stink to witness it.
Thou on Facebook
There is nothing like a dismal, cold, rainy spring night to put you in the mood for some progressive metal. Of course the atmospheric conditions screwed up traffic royally (and it might have also been the NHL playoffs in Boston at the time), and that wrecked many a commute out to Worcester, MA for this epic show. Usually I am out to the venue early to see people and chat with bands, but on this night it was a struggle for me and my girlfriend to get to the venue on time. By the time we got there there was an unprecedented double line around the venue, waiting in the rain, just for will-call. This caused hundreds of people waiting to get in to miss Kvelertak and the start of Gojira. What a bummer for us. Weather permitting or not, I’ll be early next time a show of this stature comes to town, since this was a near sell out. Never again.
So we go into the venue in time to hear Gojira’s second song ‘The Heaviest Matter of The Universe’, and it was killer. Gojira is a brilliant band and the place was absolutely enthralled with them. Commanding the crowd from center stage, Joe Duplantier was the absolute master of the moment on this night. The audience hung on his every word and movement, and this was best crowd I have ever seen for this band. The mosh pit looked brutal and everyone in the room was singing along to songs like ‘Backbone’, and ‘Flying Whales’. Joe’s brother Mario is just godly on the drums and the band was tight as can be in the short, but amazing set. Closing with ‘Oroborus’, Gojira reminded all in attendance that they are an upper-echelon modern metal band: harsh enough to satisfy the most stringent fan of brutal bands, but tuneful and progressive enough to earn respect. Gojira is a band that as Slayer found out recently, is nearly impossible to follow for even the greatest of bands.
The change over for Mastodon seemed to take forever, which was disappointing considering how sparse the stage set ups were. Still the show started early, and Mastodon hit the stage by 9:30. When the lights came up a roar let out, that signified that despite some unpopular (or popular depending on your tastes) turns in their career, a lot of people are still down for Mastodon. I was a little surprised the crowd filled in even more and had not thinned at all after Gojira. Meanwhile, Mastodon opened with the cool choice of ‘Hearts Alive’ which is not only a fine way to start the show, it added throwback feeling to the night. Crafting a slick set list of recent hits and old favorites, the band rocked all night long like the seasoned veterans they are. Usually as Brent Hinds goes, so goes the band. Tonight he was lazer-focused and brilliant, and the band followed suit. This made this one of the top times I have ever seen the band.
The band usually doesn’t waste time talking to the crowd until the end of the night. Basically they ran the through the set in a professional manner, mixing better known songs like ‘Crystal Skull’ with deep cuts like ‘Siberian Divide’ and ‘Naked Burn’. Some nights the bands’ ambitious writing causes the band to struggle to replicate the sound of their albums, but on this night everyone sounded strong as could be. Since they past the mid-way point in the tour, but Troy Sanders sounded especially great tonight, especially on his upper-register lines. Although a lot of fans were concerned with the set list ahead of the show, I thought this was one of the better set lists I have heard in the dozen plus times I have seen this band. Not only was there less reliance on the material from The Hunter (Warner Bros), for the first time ever, I felt that even without their best known songs such as ‘Iron Tusk’ and ‘March of The Fire Ants’, they were able to put on a satisfying, highly entertaining show. Bring on the new album and more tours, please!
Mastodon Set List:
Chimes at Midnight
Boston is well known for a bar where everybody knows your name. Worcester has a bar where not everyone knows you, but everyone knows if you are there, you probably love metal. Except one guy in a suit and tie, there with his date. I think they showed up by accident. Anycase, Metal Thursdays’ at Ralph’s Rock Diner is a local institution as an semi-intimate place to catch a show, and one I have partaken in too few times, living closer to Boston proper myself. Still, it was worth the trek out there to see a ton of cool friends (and some of the Ghost Cult crew such as Wren Leader and Hillarie Jason) to see Chicago’s Immortal Bird and some other killer bands as such a cool place.
Grue opened up the night with their evil sounding, mystery laden black metal set. Setting the mood just right, with a two-man affair, monks cloaks, and eerie sounds. From the start they barely spoke to the crowd, and just bludgeoned all in attendance with their songs; that’s how you do it right, folks! Precise beats dropped and blasts fell and shifted with interesting, uncomfortable tempo changes. The articulate rasp of the vocalist could rot the hearts of the kvltist of man, or woman. The guitars went back and forth from melodious and really catchy, to a sickening crust. Their songs were varied and their writing was much more mature than I expected, making me beam. Absolutely terrific, I became an instant fan. This is clearly a band on the rise in USBM circles, and I need to catch up on their new album Casualty of the Psychic Wars (Eternal Death Records), like yesterday.
Cryostasium was next and they are an interesting prospect, at first. They have a lot of releases out under this moniker, have been around over 15 years. Their combination of Neurosis sludge, avant-garde noise, and post-metal, post-hardcore heaviness is usually right up my alley. Unfortunately, even pulling in all of those influences together, requires a certain mastery these guys seem to lack. They were a little all over the place stylistically, and as a result some of the songs went from experimental to nonsensical quickly. Still, I liked where they fit in on this bill and I gave them every chance to win me over. Then at the end of the set the front man ragged out his band mates on the mic for continuing to play, after he thought the set should have ended. A total non-pro move. No excuses, just lameness. I was glad they were done at this point.
Immortal Bird went on third on this bill and the crowd was sufficiently amped. Front woman Rae Amitay (Thrawsunblat) attended nearby Berklee College of Music, so this show had a homecoming vibe of sorts. As the band began playing, I spied Rae off-stage, psyching herself up for what was to come, and readying for battle. When she finally jumped on the mic, the gruesome voice that sprang from her came from a truly primal place. Playing their harrowing songs full of equal parts blacked doom-grind and terror-inspiring death metal, the band pummeled away at their short, tight set. The songs came off of their excellent new EP Akrasia (Closed Casket Recordings), and the set had no filler, no jokes, and no covers. None were needed as it was straight to business. Rae prowled the stage, at times in-between vocal lines, looking pensive and calm; later giving way to more anguished expressions, and screams. She has a very clear growling voice and shows off cool technique for the lowest lows; never rushing herself or running out of air. The band was killer, highlighted by the crushing style of touring drummer Garry Naples (November’s Doom) in place of Rae herself, who played drums on the album. Bassist John Picillo’s killer tone and deft lines held it down, while touring guitarist Ryan Bruchert of Trials filled in admirably as well. Whether it was rabid riffs of ‘Ashen Scabland’ or the gruff bombast of ‘The Pseudoscientist’, this band slays live. Wren Leader even dubbed them blackened tech death, which I think is appropriate.As the outro of the latter track heard Naples bash away with abandon on some of the best power grooves I’ve heard in an age or two, I couldn’t come away more impressed.
Obsidian Tongue has almost become a black metal institution in these parts. Their brand of painstakingly crafted psychedelic influenced black metal has seen them become a fixture in the local scene and has garnered them fans in the underground USBM scene far and wide. Not only did they open for Agalloch when they played here, John Haughm made a guest appearance on their last album! That shows the kind of talent these guys have and why they deserve your respect. It’s takes a Sherpa-like patience to absorb their music, but that is also its reward. Guitarist/vocalist Brendan James Hayter and drummer Greg Murphy have a flair for the dramatic, but they can be heavy as hell too. Like a mosaic, their songs come together a piece at a time, creating a whole, only understood when its all over. Triumphant is another word I would use for this bands music too, as all kinds of feelings come to in the course of a set. ‘Into The Heart of Night’ is still my favorite song by the band, with its many changes and twists. Folk, black metal, thrash, doom, and even some slight power metal influences can be heard in about 10 minutes time. The thing is, with the long, complex structures, the songs somehow stay fresh and never feel over-wrought. At times vocally Hayter will remind you of Heri Joenson of Týr or his former band mate, the late David Gold from Woods of Ypres with his dynamic baritone voice contrasting his shrieks and howls. Murphy is an unbelievable drummer, who matches Hayter musically and emotionally with his drums. Their hour long set closed out the long night of metal in style.
Cryostasium on Facebook
Words: Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
Classic thrash metal hit The Palladium in Worcester, MA on November 1st, when the ‘Legends of Thrash Tour’ rolled into town with heavy hitters Overkill and Kreator headlining and support from the bands Warbringer and Rope. Sound awesome? Damn right it does but unless you knew there was a show going on at the same venue at its upstairs stage, you may have been a bit confused seeing all the scene-ster kids standing around outside, doe eyed, waiting to see some crap-core style bands. It made for an interesting mix of people outside until the whatever-core people figured out they had to enter through the side of the building.
Local band Rope opened the show and I had no clue what to expect. I couldn’t find much about them on-line and had never heard of them. I kind of assumed they were a thrash band based on the others in the line up, but they played a set of straight up metal with maybe a bit of a groovy thing going on in the mix. They sounded pretty tight and other than a few technical issues with some bass equipment, the set went over well for these newcomers. Next up was Warbringer, a thrash band out of California. Although many of the people there were hanging around by the bar, presumably waiting for the legends to hit the stage, the crowd that was on the floor seemed to love these guys. A really large pit started which seemed to reflect the raw energy the band had on stage.
So now, the lights go out for Kreator. By this time the venue was pretty full and the crowd had made their way towards the stage for some German style face melting. Now, I have seen them previously and I’d say they usually put on a good show but at times the sound has been off or something. Not this time at all. A few of my friends mentioned the same thing saying that this is the best they had ever seen them play and they sounded amazing. They opened up with ‘Phantom Antichrist’ and immediately I could tell this one was for the record books because this band was pulling out all the stops. The crowd went nuts for them and not surprisingly a huge circle pit erupted. The lights dimmed a bit towards the end of the set and when they came back up, Millie walked out still donning his Bauhaus shirt (awesome) and waving the ‘Flag of Hate.’ A literal flag.
Overkill came on an opened up with ‘Deny the Cross’ and Bobby Blitz was in tip-top shape. The last time I saw these guys was in February of this year, also at The Palladium in Worcester, but Bobby was so very sick that I was shocked that he even tried to do that show at all. In fact, right after the show Bobby had to be hospitalized he was so ill with pneumonia. Well this was a invigorated, healthy Bobby and there was no stopping these guys from destroying the crowd with everything they’ve got. I got “Blitzed” by a smiling Bobby right off the bat in the photo pit, receiving a solid 10 seconds of his middle finger in my face/camera during ‘Deny the Cross’ and Derek Tailor leaned over during ‘Electric Rattlesnake’ and with a smirk, he looked me in the eye and told me to ‘fuck off.’ I couldn’t tell who was having the better time honestly, the crowd, me, or the band. They ripped mercilessly through the set calling out for the ‘old school’ fans in attendance and generally kicked everyone’s asses.
Both Overkill and Kreator proved that they are better than ever and have more umph in them than bands 1/2 their age.
Words and Photography: Hillarie Jason