(Our long-standing supporter and guest writer Black Shuck turns in this report on the inaugural Blood of the Wolf Fest, which took place in Lexington, Kentucky, on Feb 22, 2014. All photos are by AnnSydney Taylor.)
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of experiencing the dark, mysterious ritual known as the Blood of the Wolf Fest. What’s that, you haven’t heard of it? That’s because this was the first one to ever take place. I’d be very suspicious if you had. (For any reader who had heard about it, take your scrying pool and begone, wizard. We’ll hold no truck with your starry-hatted nonsense here.)
This festival was the brainchild of those Kentuckian warriors of chaos, Tombstalker. Primarily organized by vocalist/guitarist Anton Escobar and bassist Chuck McIntyre, the lineup featured several bands from a group known as the Wolven Brotherhood. The Brotherhood was founded several years ago by Tombstalker and Dawn of Wolves (now Valdrin), when they released their split Cemetery Wolven Ritual (are you sensing a theme here?). The Brotherhood has now expanded to include many other bands from across the country. Presumably their collective subject material has also expanded to cover things that are not wolves, although I hold out hope that I will have a place there once my one-man black metal band, Death to the Three Little Pigs, gets off the ground.
Anyways, on with the fest. Note: All of the excellent photographs that appear here were taken by one AnnSydney Taylor. The festival poster and banner were designed by Lucas Ruggieri.
(Andy Synn provides this report on the recently completed UK tour by The Monolith Deathcult, Talanas, and Andy’s band Beyond Grace.)
So I’ve been harangued into putting together a short (relatively) report of the happenings and happenstances of our tour last month. Frankly, I’m not entirely sure where to start as I’m writing this now, other than to say that – despite the inevitable stresses that came about – I wish I was still on tour now. Playing a show every night, to new people, in a new place… well, that 30 mins onstage you get makes all the rest of it worthwhile.
DAY 01 – BRIGHTON, STICKY MIKE’S FROG BAR
My first piece of advice for any of you going on tour – try to get a good night’s sleep the night before you leave. Definitely don’t stay up late sending out digital promos and organising the launch of your new EP so that you only have time to get in 3 hours before having to go collect the van, drive it back to load your backline, then drive down to London (and then on to Brighton). Yeah, don’t do that.
(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.