(Wil Cifer penned these reviews of three November shows in Atlanta, Georgia.)
Here’s a snapshot of metal onstage and in the flesh. Over the course of the past week I caught three different metal shows at three different venues with the genres spanning from industrial to thrash to black metal.
The first of these was almost on the periphery of what most might consider metal when Author & Punisher played The Earl, a hipster dive bar with a venue in the back.
We arrived just in time to catch the Portland duo Muscle and Marrow. Never really gave their last studio album The Human Cry the time to immerse myself in it, but their live show changed the way I think of them. There are metal elements to what they do, but I would not call them a metal band. Even then, of the three shows, I would say they were the most emotionally heavy band of the week. This was channeled in a very honest physical manner. Singer/ guitarist Kira Clark’s voice goes from an almost black-metal-like scathing scream to a vulnerable soprano. The duo implemented samples and layers of vocals triggered from a laptop off stage, but in comparison to Author & Punisher they were very organic.
(Andy Synn provides this report on the 2015 edition of Damnation Festival in the UK.)
It’s been a few years now since I last attended Damnation Festival, the annual celebration of all things dark and metallic hosted (as always) at Leeds University Student’s Union. But this year I knew I simply couldn’t miss it, as not only were a number of my favourite bands playing (hello Sólstafir, hi there Primordial) but also two bands I’ve been a fan of since their very first albums, but whom I’d never actually managed to see live before (The Ocean, Altar of Plagues).
Oh, and some band named At The Gates. Who are apparently pretty famous or something.
(Grant Skelton provides both an audio stream of his recent interview with Witch Mountain vocalist Kayla Dixon and a review of their show in Memphis on October 7.)
Witch Mountain are currently on the Blackest Of The Black Tour with Veil Of Maya, Prong, Superjoint, and Danzig. Prior to the band’s set at Minglewood Hall in Memphis on October 7, I had an opportunity to sit down with the band’s new vocalist, Kayla Dixon. We discussed vocal training, the band’s cover of Black Sabbath’s “Sleeping Village”, and progress on the band’s next album. Stream the interview here on Soundcloud, courtesy of Local X Radio (localxradio.com):
(Andy Synn attended the performances of Ulcerate, Bell Witch, and Ageless Oblivion in Nottingham, England, on October 11 and turns in this report, with his own videos of the show.)
Though my erstwhile compatriots may have been attending the sun and shenanigans of California Deathfest without me last weekend (seriously, where was my invite? I thought we were friends!?!) that doesn’t mean that yours truly was without suitably metallic diversions of my own, as I was lucky enough to bear witness to the titanic Death Metal maelstrom known as Ulcerate rolling through my town, leaving a trail of shattered lives and lacerated ear-drums in its wake.
The story gets even better though, as the New Zealend three-piece were accompanied on their pilgrimage of pain by gloom-heavy doomsters (and perennial NCS darlings) Bell Witch and uber-riff-mongers Ageless Oblivion (whose album Penthos I picked as one of my absolute favourite releases of last year).
Not only that but the venue they played, The Chameleon, is the sort of intimate, DIY place that packs a lot of character, and a frankly massive soundsystem, into a very small space, meaning there’s nowhere to hide from the overwhelming onslaught of sonic punishment unleashed by the bands.
You know how an explosion that occurs in an enclosed space is ten times more devastating than one that occurs out in the open? Well that sums up the night quite nicely.
(A long time has passed — two years and 11 months to be exact — since we last featured the writing of Kaptain Carbon at our site, but he has returned with this review of the first Shadow Woods Metal Festival, which took place on September 25-27, 2015, in White Hall, Maryland. All photographs in this post, most of which appear at the end of the review, were taken by Kaptain Carbon as well. Kaptain Carbon writes for Tape Wyrm (http://tapewyrmmetal.com/) and Hollywood Metal (http://hollywoodmetal.com/author/kaptaincarbon/) and also moderates Reddit’s metal subreddit r/metal.)
There were many things to be excited about at Shadow Woods Festival. First and foremost, it was a metal festival in a remote campground outside of Baltimore. While not the only outdoor metal festival, Shadow Woods offered an opportunity for America to mimic an event that Europe has done for decades. This was the inaugural event for a team of promoters and record labels who had little experience in hosting someting of this size and interest level. Second, the weather was supposed to be gorgeous and, for the cooling months of early autumn, in the low ’60s in temperature, a perfect time to feel the chill of heavy metal.
Upon arriving, the entrance to the camp was signaled by a printed flyer duct-taped to a cone, obscured by a bush. Another sign pointing in the direction of the festival was propped against a decorative bench in front of a remote house with a manicured lawn. Camp Hidden Valley usually plays host to numerous day camps for children, with its scariest events being schlocky haunted trails during Halloween. Other than that, Camp Hidden Valley offers educational programs for the Boys and Girls Club serving the greater Baltimore area. For the last weekend in September, however, more than 200 metal fans and adventurous spirits were sprawled throughout its 180 acres to celebrate darkness and fair weather chaos.
From last Friday through Sunday, October 9-11, 2015, I and two of my NCS comrades (DGR and BadWolf) attended the inaugural edition of California Deathfest in Oakland, CA, brought to us by the same good people responsible for the long-running Maryland Deathfest.
On Saturday morning I managed to scribble some notes and pull together a few photos from the first day of the festival (here). Though delayed for various reasons, this post will now focus on Saturday’s show, and before this week runs out I hope to prepare a feature on Sunday’s third and final day of the event.
(Andy Synn reviews the performance in London on August 5 by Ne Obliviscaris, Xerath, and Brutai).
This weekend it’s Bloodstock Festival here in the UK, and this is the first year in a long time I’m not attending (not even for a day), simply because the overall line-up just hasn’t grabbed me this time around.
That’s no criticism against the festival mind you, but simply an acknowledgement that the chosen headliners this year just don’t really do anything for me (though, to be fair, following on from Immortal and Emperor in previous years would be difficult for any bands). And while the undercard does have a solid handful of bands I absolutely love — Enslaved, 1349, Agalloch, Ihsahn, Ne Obliviscaris – I’ve already seen the first two bands put on career-defining performances at Inferno Festival this year, and I don’t expect an 11 am outdoor slot to do the sound for Agalloch any favours either (particularly not in comparison to their own stunning performance at Inferno last year).
So really it’s only Ihsahn and Ne Obliviscaris I feel like I’m missing out on.
Except I’m not… because two nights ago I got the chance to see NeO put on an absolutely mindblowing performance in London.
(Guest writer Ben Manzella interviewed Scott Kelly for a feature posted earlier today, and now we bring you his review of the show that followed the interview — performed in Madison, Wisconsin, this past weekend by Neurosis, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, and The Body.)
On this past Sunday, Neurosis played in Madison, Wisconsin, for the first time in about 19 years (from what I could find, at least). The last time they were here was as the opener for Pantera, and now on the cusp of their 30th anniversary as band, they headlined a theater in downtown Madison. This was my third time seeing Neurosis in as many years, but the excitement is always the same; if anything it was more exciting, as I had the opportunity to interview Scott Kelly before the show [published here]. But obviously, a show review is about the music, so let’s get to it.
(Wil Cifer attended part of the Rockstar Mayhem Festival stop in Atlanta on July 29, 2015, and has a few thoughts about what he witnessed.)
There is no news like bad news, and the inner webs are quick to let you know it. So it’s no secret that this year’s Mayhem Festival has been getting more than its fair share of anti-hype. Kerry King spoke out against the lineup, saying “you need talent to make people feel like spending that much money”. I’m not sure if that was a self-deprecating stab at his own band or he really feels like going out with some bands the high school kids seem to love is mandatory career suicide.
The Mayhem Fest co-founder has gone on record saying the metal genre is in trouble because there are not many younger bands that have headlining power and blames the older bands for not taking less money, like punk rock bands, in order to benefit the scene. So I was curious when I checked the tour out myself.
(DGR reviews a recent show from Sacramento, California, featuring Conducting From the Grave, Aenimus, Flub, Journal, and The Brotherhood of Ellipsis.)
It is rare these days for a show to line up perfectly with my schedule. It has also become rare these days that the guys in Conducting From The Grave, a group I’ve seen a whole bunch and reviewed for this site before, play live now, so the fact that the two lined up on a Friday felt like the planets aligning.
Conducting From The Grave just recently re-recorded their first EP Trials Of The Forsaken themselves and re-released it under the name Revival Of Forsaken Trials and were celebrating that fact. It was a ten-year anniversary show for that EP and one that also saw the reunion of some old band members to the fold for a limited run. Also on the docket for this show were The Brotherhood Of Ellipsis, Journal, Aenimus, and Flub — many groups I would be seeing for the first time, and that was exciting.
Unfortunately, Entheos had to drop off the bill as they had been a late addition to another tour and the routing made it impossible for them to make it. That was a bit of a bummer because they would’ve been exciting to see live — I get the sense they’re slated for big things. As it stood though, that night was still going to be an assault on the senses spread across five bands — with two of them being on very different ends of the instrumental spectrum.