(Guest writer Ben Manzella attended the final show of the Oathbreaker-Cult Leader tour on August 7 in San Francisco and provides this review, with a few photos and some music streams.)
Outside a fairly non-descript art space, about 3 people began to line up. Along with 3 bands from around California, the night at Submission in San Francisco would feature Oathbreaker and Cult Leader. As we waited, suddenly a crew of about five people just walked right into the venue and we realized that we (the group who had already been waiting about 45 minutes or more) could actually go in. As I said, the venue was fairly non-descript, but this no-frills space was well-suited for the no-frills music that was set to be featured this night.
I’ll admit, because I was going in blind with the “local” support, I mainly watched their sets rather than try to get photos. And in all honesty, at least from a photographer’s perspective, that was probably for the best, considering the challenging lighting the venue offered.
(NCS writer Andy Synn attended part of the Bloodstock Festival in England last weekend and files this report, with his own photos.)
For various reasons I was only able to make it to the one day of Bloodstock Festival this year. Thankfully that one day happened to be headlined by the legendary Emperor, so I’m not massively complaining!
Due to some issues getting my new laptop (it’s lovely and shiny and I’m writing this column on it right now), I ended up running a little late that morning and so, after picking up my two companions, got to the festival site a little later than planned. As a result I missed out on both The King Is Blind and Shining (Nor), but was there in time to see Old Corpse Road bring their eloquent mix of dark folklore and blackened intensity to the Sophie Stage.
Last weekend (August 2-3) I spent two beautiful days in Denver attending the Denver Black Sky Festival. For someone who had never attended a metal festival of any kind before this year, I’ve had three great experiences in a row — MDF in May, Gilead Fest in July, and now Black Sky in August. I’d like to say I deserved it, but who would I be fooling?
The festival took place at The Gothic Theater and at Moe’s BBQ, both located in the same block on S. Broadway. I made the trip with three compatriots from Seattle, and we met my NCS comrade Badwolf from Toledo in what became an MDF reunion (and an unanticipated turning point for BadWolf’s life). We spent Saturday and Sunday at The Gothic, and missed some bands we ideally would have wanted to see at Moe’s, but had to make some tough choices.
The Gothic is a very cool, spacious, multi-level, vaulted-ceiling venue, with a wrap-around balcony on the second level, a big floor, and a great main stage with good lighting. The festival organizers set up a second stage opposite the main one, just in front of the bar at the rear of the floor. They called it “In the Round”, because its location enabled the audience to stand all around the stage; you could stand behind the second stage as well as in front of it (and you could also look down on it from the balcony above).
Adam Bartlett and Thou — photo by Shane Stornanti
Yesterday was the third and final session of the GILEAD FEST at the Masonic Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and it proved to be a day of megaton doom bombing mixed with strafing runs of blackened hellfire. It also featured two of the most emotionally searing moments of the entire festival and a final encore at the end of the night that was both surprising and eminently appropriate — and a whole helluva lot of fun.
Once again, the event was blessed with a beautiful day. Once again, the event planners and volunteer staff pulled everything off smoothly. Once again, all the bands I saw were wonderful — though I’m sorry to say that I spent so long toiling over yesterday’s report that I missed the first two groups, Northless and Alraune. We arrived not long before Seidr took the stage…
Seidr’s massive double album Ginnungagap was released by Bindrune last fall. It was the first of the band’s music I had heard, but it was enough — the chance to hear Seidr live was one of the paramount reasons why I made the trip to Oshkosh.
I thought the first day of the Gilead Fest in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was a blast, but holy shit, yesterday’s performances were off the charts. By “holy shit” I mean that shit before which you prostrate yourself and utter miserable prayers of thanks. And by “off the charts”, I mean dismembering, skull-splintering, bowel-perforating, synapse-severing, and occasionally entrancing.
The weather here in Oshkosh remains gorgeous. In between sets, the lure of the outdoors was irresistible (and would have been even if the lure of nicotine and tar hadn’t been part of the equation). Even during the sets, a soft breeze flowed through the windows of The Lady’s Parlor across the hall from the ballroom where the bands were performing, and it wafted through the open doors into that space like a balm from… Gilead.
The sunny disposition of the crowd continues to match that of the weather. It’s a chill group, like a reunion of old friends, even when the old friends had never met each other before. I had almost as much fun talking to people I’d only known over the internet before this weekend (including Adam Bartlett of Gilead Media, who made this whole wonderful thing happen) or had never met before, even over the ether, as I did listening to the music. And the event itself continues to run smoothly, like the well-oiled gears of a vast noise-making machine.
The three-day Gilead Fest organized by Gilead Media began yesterday in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, at one of the three locations pictured above.
The first night was indeed loaded with power, and by the end of the evening there was certainly plenty of work available for a coroner, but if you guessed the Oshkosh Masonic Center, give yourself a pat on the back.
(Guest writer Ben Manzella wrote the following review of the July 2 performances by Deafheaven and Wreck and Reference in San Francisco on July 2, 2014, and took the accompanying photos as well.)
A summer night in San Francisco typically means you can wear a jacket. As someone who grew up in the sunnier part of California (the Los Angeles/San Pedro area), I enjoy this fact. As the line began to form outside The Great American Music Hall, I started to assess the crowd from my point of view. It’s always interesting to see what kind of crowd is attracted to any show, but what do you get when the show consists of a pairing of noise/metal/experimental music (Wreck and Reference) and what is often described as the hipster darling of Black Metal (Deafheaven)?
Now before I go any further, don’t misunderstand me; I’ve been a fan of Deafheaven since their album Roads to Judah was released and I’m thrilled they’ve found a rare amount of success, especially in the times we live in. I won’t deny, though, that it’s not exactly your typical “uber-kvltist” that you’ll see at a Deafheaven show. But I digress — I have nothing but respect for the guys in both bands.
(Guest writer Ben Manzella wrote the following review of the June 6 performances by Meshuggah and Between the Buried and Me in L.A. and took the photos as well. The delay in posting the review is due entirely to the ineptitude of our pathetic editor.)
A Friday night was upon the metal loyal and ignorant alike in Los Angeles, and to pretty much everyone’s approval Meshuggah was in the building. It was the first date of the 25 Years Of Musical Deviance North American tour, and it was sure to be a night to remember. I had seen Meshuggah on the Obzen tour with Cynic and The Faceless, but I knew this night would have a different “feel” to it.
The whole night there was an atmosphere of coming together. Dino Cazares (Fear Factory) and Chris Broderick (Megadeth) were seated together at a table in the floor area of the Wiltern Theatre, chatting and enjoying a night out seeing some friends; metalheads of all ages wore the uniform sporting the more extreme side of metal, with Morbid Angel, Immortal, etc., emblazoned on their chests, and even some of the so-called”false” metal bands such as Five Finger Death Punch and Disturbed.
No matter your status, age, or even residence (in line for the wristband that allowed attendees to drink, I saw multiple IDs from out of state), we were all there for one purpose: to celebrate Meshuggah’s legacy as they possibly killed anyone with the slightest inkling of epilepsy in their DNA (the lighting for their set was insane!)
On to the music.
(In this post our man BadWolf reviews the performances of Carcass, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Gorguts at the Columbus, Ohio stop of the DECIBEL MAGAZINE TOUR, and the photos are his too!)
For the purposes of this review, let’s accept a false dichotomy: that there is a real and tangible difference between ‘mainstream’ extreme metal music, and ‘underground’ metal music. It’s a bullshit claim perpetuated by a self-important blogosphere and a sometimes-right-sometimes-wrong minority of metalheads with a serious penchant for nostalgia, but assume for a moment that it is true.
If so, then up until three years ago, the large package tour was exclusively in the domain of mainstream metal music. Mayhem, Summer Slaughter, and their progenitor, Ozzfest, are each the domain of the popular music industry. Even the Metal Alliance Tour falls into this trap to a lesser degree (mostly in its over-abundance of bands with too-short set lists).
The occultocrati’s sole entity in this realm has become the Decibel Magazine Tour, which year after year has presented solid and cohesive lineups that stand on the razor’s edge between critical acclaim and commercial viability. It was a bold move in 2012: when I caught that first Decibel tour (reviewed here), there was no guarantee it would happen again. Who could have predicted the way that the tour would break the careers of bands like In Solitude, or poise groups like Behemoth and Watain for the kind of massive album sales they’ve enjoyed since.
Behemoth, Goatwhore, 1349, Inquisition, Black Crown Initiate, and Drawn and Quartered performed at Studio Seven in Seattle on Saturday night (May 3, 2014). It was one of my most eagerly anticipated shows of the year. But I had a sinking feeling about it before the concert began.
I paid extra to get advance VIP tickets for myself and some friends (for what turned out to be a sold-out show) because they promised a meet-and-greet and early admission. An e-mail from the ticket-seller notified us that we needed to be at the venue no later than 3:45 for the meet-and-greet, and even earlier than that to pick up the tickets at will-call. This provoked groans, given that the show wasn’t scheduled to begin until 6:00. Of course, this was a metal show, and the odds were high that nothing would actually happen at 3:45, but we didn’t want to risk missing what we’d paid extra for. So we were there at 3:30. And of course nothing happened until 4:15.
In the meantime, we got soaked when the drizzling rain outside the venue became a downpour. And while shaking ourselves like wet dogs in a doorway we speculated that since this was the last stop of the tour, the promoters might have been having trouble waking up any of the musicians for the meet-and-greet. This suspicion was strengthened when we were finally ushered inside, to find obviously fatigued representatives from all the touring bands sitting along a long row of shadow-shrouded tables in the dark venue, waiting one-by-one to sign tour posters we were given at the door.