(Last December, guest writer Johan Paulin compiled for us a wonderful feature on metal bands based in the relatively small town of Umeå in northern Sweden. Today he rejoins us with a lively show report from Umeå, along with photos he took at the event.)
While the rest of Umeå celebrated its inauguration as the 2014 European capital of culture (if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, neither do we), I headed out to the old slaughterhouse outside of town where Kvelertak, Spiders, and Håll det äkta were preparing to fuck shit up in a most royal of ways.
Truth be told, I was never really sold on Kvelertak’s eclectic mix of punk, metal, and Norwegian insanity. But their second album Meir had slowly warmed me over, and besides, given Umeå’s shitty geographical location, you’re pretty much required to attend whenever a foreign band shows up or have your metal license revoked.
Local band Håll det äkta started off the night with their nimble one-two bursts of hardcore smackdown, channeling both Refused’s first album as well as Gorilla Biscuits and Earth Crisis. With slightly silly lyrics in Swedish and a nasal singer, the band might seem like an acquired taste, but what they lack in vocal brutality they more than make up for with intense tremolo guitars, authoritative drum beats, and instantly mosh-worthy breakdowns that sent the crowd into a pit-frenzy. The band has a strong local following, and their dedication carried the band whenever they happened to lose the plot.
(Austin Weber turns in the following show report, and we are once again grateful to Nik Vechery for the kickass photos accompanying his write-up.)
A few weeks ago I worked with a Long Island based group named Cryptodira to premiere their new EP An Unmarked Grave here at NCS. So when I found out they had tour plans that included a date in my hometown of Louisville, I knew to call photographer Nik Vechery, and the plan was set to cover the show.
Nik, as usual, spent the night drinking piss-poor PBR’s while I imbibed some higher-class microbrews that I’ve previously enjoyed called Zombie Dust and Gumballhead. Both are made by Three Floyds Brewery based in neighbouring Munster, Indiana. Each beer has a strange hop that features a unique (to my tastebuds) mango aftertaste that is mouthgasmically sublime.
I also met one-time guest NCS contributor and frequent commenter This is The News aka Tom and his wife, who apparently also reads No Clean Singing. But enough about beer and interwebz-real-life collisions, there was a show after all. What follows is a live music assessment formed by yours truly, the hermit hornswoggler.
(My NCS comrades DGR and BadWolf paid me a visit in Seattle over the New Year’s holiday, and herein lies the tale of one of our nights together, as told by Toledo-based BadWolf. The iPhone photos are his, too. Sample music is at the end.)
It was Thursday, January 2nd, and DemiGodRaven’s face was getting a bit red. Islander turned to me, and said “he looks sick.” I swapped out his high-gravity IPA with my mellower lager—each beer, craft-made, sported enough hoppy bitterness to cleanse the palate of formaldehyde. Such is the style in Seattle.
DGR and I, being men of modest means, had saved up some scratch to spend our New Year’s week in Seattle at the NCS home base, which meant two things: live music and booze. At that moment it looked like the libations might take their toll on my fine Corvid co-writer.
Fitting, since we were drinking at The Pine Box, a Public House situated in what was once a morgue. The speakers played The Misfits, our server had a Rancid tattoo, and we were tipsy at 7pm. Perfect.
(Guest writer Ben, who last appeared on our site here, now returns with a year-end concert review from Orange County, CA, plus his own photos of the show.)
As I walked into the Observatory in Santa Ana on Saturday night, December 28, I didn’t really know what to expect. What do you get when a band like Neurosis decides to play an end-of-the year gig with openers like reunited punk band Bl’ast, Oregon men of doom YOB, and Los Angeles-based cellist Helen Money? Well, one thing is for sure, you get a diverse crowd. I was almost as excited to see the audience’s response to the artists as I was to see some of the artists playing, just to find out what kind of “vibe” would be produced in the venue. Anyways, enough muttering, on to the music.
If you haven’t heard of Helen Money, I truly recommend you take a listen. Alison Chesley, or Helen Money as she is known via her stage name, is a classically trained cellist, but don’t think she came out and played Beethoven for the crowd on Saturday evening (even though I wouldn’t have been upset if she had). Here are some press quotes found on her official website to give you an idea of the experience, since I’m still at a bit of a loss for words to describe what I encountered:
(In this post we present a show review by NCS contributor Austin Weber, with typically excellent photos by Nik Vechery and embedded music streams, too.)
While most of the metal community is familiar with the Louisville, KY one-man act Panopticon, many have not heard of another highly talented black metal act from here called Anagnorisis – although Austin Lunn was a big part of Anagnorisis for years before moving on to Panopticon, and even in his absence, Anagnorisis have grown and evolved into quite a formidable act. Their latest full-length, Beyond All Light, surprisingly showed up on many a year-end list, including Stereogum’s coveted metal list. So when I heard they were having a vinyl release show for that record, and that the line-up as a whole was going to be a trifecta of quality pitch-black madness along with one newcomer, I knew I had to contact Nik Vechery and cover the show.
What better way to ring in the new year than to absorb potent heaps of aural filth. Upon getting to the show way too early, the thought occurred to me that the bitter near-freezing cold was a perfect grim fit for the long night of black metal ahead. Through talking with fellow fans, Nik and I figured out we had competition, as Rhys Williams from Invisible Oranges and his photographer were covering the show as well. This is what it’s like when metal blogs collide — cue Powerman 5000! Consider as proof that Anagnorisis are a band worth following, that others besides me and my questionable taste wanted to cover the show as well.
(Our UK-based writer Andy Synn was present when Watain, Funeral Throne, and Coltsblood played Birmingham, England last weekend, and he delivers this report.)
Is there a better way to spend a Saturday evening than experiencing the metallic musical rituals of Satan’s own special cheer-squad, Watain? Maybe a few, but not many that don’t involve taking off your clothes…
As it stands, myself and my good friend Gary (both fully clothed) jaunted our way over to Birmingham early Saturday evening. Arriving a little earlier than we needed to (despite doors opening at 6:00), we dropped into a pub on the corner, and eventually found ourselves seated at a table right next to the headliners and their entourage.
Obviously we didn’t want to bother them – particularly since the group formed a tight knit and inviolable circle that exuded a certain “keep away from us” vibe – so we just decided to enjoy our beers and catch up. It was, however, interesting to see how far the band have co-opted the biker/gang mentality and look, everyone dutifully wearing their patches and “colours”. It works for them though. Watain (and their associates) have always been a “gang” – now it’s just more visually obvious.
(One of our most frequent commenters and the alter ego of Godless Angel, djneibarger, answered our call for guest posts with this show review straight from Lawrence, Kansas, and photos.)
My introduction to Morbid Angel happened in 1993 courtesy of the music video for “Rapture”, the opening track from their seminal album, Covenant. The ominous imagery and savage, hypnotic pulse served as my gateway drug to the death metal scene. And although my interest in the band waned after the departure of David Vincent, that legendary album is still as mesmerizing to me now as it was twenty years ago. When it was announced that Morbid Angel would be performing the album in its entirety and that the tour would be making a stop in my hometown, I knew I had to be there to witness it.
(Andy Synn reviews the concert delivered by Norway’s Satyricon and Taiwan’s Chthonic last weekend in Manchester, England.)
One thing I have learned this past week is that gigs in the US and the UK run on different time-scales. Whereas our American cousins like to start late and run long, more and more I’m seeing British gigs start early and run to a merciless time-scale.
I’m also seeing more and more shows without an “opener”, as such, relying on the main bands to provide all the necessary draw (a decision which makes clear sense in a lot of ways, as tonight’s sold-out crowd demonstrated).
Case in point – tonight’s doors opened at 7:00, and Chthonic hit the stage at 7:30 on the dot, proceeding to pummel us all with 30 minutes of streamlined melodic black/death metal, augmented by oriental keyboard orchestrations and some righteous Taiwanese ire.
(Our man BadWolf turned out for the Watain / In Solitude / Tribulation show in Detroit last month and provides these impressions, and some pics.)
A Watain tour always causes a ruckus, in more than one way: For one, the band always puts on a killer live show. For another, their use of live animal blood and much-publicized visa troubles, not to mention blasphemous musical content, have cemented Watain’s reputation as outlaws—and gotten them banned from more than a few venues in the process.
Their fall tour, however, got me especially excited, thanks to the addition of two perfect touring partners. Show openers Tribulation released a powerful black metal album in early 2013, one which blended the black-thrash sound Watain has popularized with psychedelic and film score elements. In Solitude played second fiddle, fresh off a Decibel cover, while supporting the recent release of their third album, Sister, which has already been called album of the year by a few metal journalists, particularly Adrien Begrand [http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/post—a-fond-farewell]. I think it’s pretty damn good, despite (or perhaps because of?) only containing clean singing.
(NCS contributor Austin Weber wrote the following review. All of the excellent photos are by Nicholas Vechery.)
While Circle Takes The Square are not wholly a metal band, they do have some heavy moments and enough metal influence to interest open-minded metalheads. I know some of our more eclectic readers probably like them or used to. I planned to bring previous NCS collaborator Nik Vechery in tow to take photos, though I arrived a bit later than him due to awesome traffic and found my way to Haymarket Whiskey Bar in the downtown area of Louisville, Kenfucky. Which of course led to numerous Jack and Coke’s for me, and plenty of piss-beer PBR’s for Nik. Several local bands played first followed by Circle Takes The Square who gave an exhilarating and adrenaline-filled performance.
Opening the show was a local band I’d never heard of, and upon seeking them out online could find no music to get a glimpse at what they might sound like. Except that there used to be a progressive metal band called Greyhaven that is pretty cheesy. This Greyhaven were a sort of noisy punk-rock meets quasi-metal group with occasional djenty chugs slicing overtop at faster tempos then you would normally hear in that style. It was gritty and frantic, and a decently interesting merger of sounds.