(Ben Manzella wrote this review of the performances by Glaciers, King Woman, and True Widow in San Francisco on May 17.)
As the transition of spring into summer begins, it’s been a state of confusion within San Francisco. Yes, the light of day sticks around until 8PM almost nightly now; but the weather has been colder than average. This past Sunday, with the cold, came local bands Glaciers and King Woman opening for True Widow at Bottom of the Hill.
While all the bands had a rather fuzzed-out, doomy sound in their own ways, it was Glaciers who started the night and they definitely brought energy to the room.
(Our man Andy Synn was lucky enough to attend the second annual Incineration Festival in the UK and turns in this report, with videos.)
Let me preface this review with a quick round of thanks to the people who made the festival, and my presence there, possible.
My main thanks go out to Daniel of London Metal Monthly (for whom I also write on a semi-regular basis these days) for arranging my press pass and feeding my ever-expanding ego (though at no point did I have to utter the immortal words “do you know who I am?”… which was a shame).
I also want to thank Steve and Stephen for dealing with the masses of people queuing for wristbands and for sorting my access on the day itself, as well as for all their work behind the scenes in booking the bands, venues, crew, and everything else that must have gone into a mammoth undertaking.
However, they, along with Nimai, are only the names I know of the people who were involved. For an undertaking this big – one that’s only in its second year no less – there must have been a host of other helpers and organisers working alongside them. And although I don’t know their names, I thank them as well.
(Guest writer Ben Manzella returns to NCS with this review (and his photos) of performances by Inter Arma, Yautja, and Hornss in San Francisco on May 2, 2015.)
Saturday night in San Francisco; if this peninsula of a city doesn’t already feel crowded during the week, you feel it on the weekends. This weekend was interesting, though, considering that in one Saturday night you had to clearly define whether live music was your priority or instead stay in keeping with the modern culture and hype. Basically, sit at home or in a bar eating overpriced food for an overpriced event that ended up being underwhelming (the Pacquaio-Mayweather fight) or go see a metal show. For me it was never a question, the metal show was always going to win; but then it came down to which one?
See, 924 Gilman (a non-profit, volunteer-run, all-ages club beloved by the punk and hardcore scene) was hosting The Body and Full of Hell along with an assortment of what I assume was mostly local support, including Kowloon Walled City; Septic Flesh and Moonspell were incanting their darkness in Oakland; and then Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco (a bar turned venue as of almost 25 years ago) was hosting Inter Arma and Yautja with local support from Hornss. You see the choice I made.
(BadWolf reviews the Seattle date of the Decibel Magazine 2015 Tour, accompanied by exclusive photos taken by Madison Leiren, except where noted.)
This is the third of four annual Decibel Magazine tours that I’ve reviewed for No Clean Singing (I missed the third installment, featuring Napalm Death headlining, due to Maryland Deathfest. I’m not sorry). At this point in time, the mechanics of the tour itself — the way it interacts with coverage in the magazine, the way that the lineup is formed over time, and the way it is presented artistically — are becoming apparent to me.
Rather than simply assess the show I saw itself, it’s important to discuss these deeper factors, because Decibel Magazine wields a lot of market power in the United States, and the US remains the biggest music market in the world even though metal remains relatively unpopular here. In that respect, however, the tour is operating in an easy middle ground between what I would call respect for profits and respect for the metal zeitgeist. They do that by locking in headliners that already have clout and draw, but aren’t going to pursue metal as a full-time activity, and slotting openers who intend to make a career out of music. At least that’s how it’s worked for the past two years.
It seems as though 2014 was a prototype and 2015 was the first successful rollout of a set Decibel Tour formula. The recipe is as follows:
Life is so unpredictable. Some days, it just rains shit in torrents. Other days, it’s almost magical. I had one of those magical days — actually, a magical night — earlier this week (April 29), when Lago, Rhine, and Rat King played in Seattle.
The show was at the resurrected Funhouse, which has now occupied the lounge at El Corazon. Lago (from Phoenix) have been touring the West Coast, and their Seattle stop was the occasion for this event. I’m a big fan of the band, and have been really impressed with Rhine’s recorded music too, so I was very curious to see what both bands would be like live. In my case, Rat King was a complete unknown.
To start with a summation: All three bands were fantastic. And although this is ostensibly a show review (with photos I snapped using my phone), it’s also intended as an introduction to our readers (or re-introduction) to the music of these bands; I’m including streams of their most recent releases along with my comments about their live sets.
(Electric Wizard recently completed their first North American tour in over ten years, and Leperkahn caught their show at Chicago’s Metro on April 7. He provides these thoughts and photos of the event.)
I feel like I should start this off by saying that I’m really sorry that this is three weeks late. This school might have it in for me, but every once in a while I try to stick it to the man by neglecting work to do things like write this review.
Electric Wizard recently rolled through Chicago, as well as quite a few other cities across North America, bringing Satan’s Satyrs along as support. Unbeknownst to me at the time they announced the tour, this was the first time they had toured North America, barring a performance at MDF 2012, since 2002. This may explain why the Chicago show, as well as quite a few others, sold out quicker than I would’ve expected (granted, I’m used to a San Diego turnout, where almost nothing will sell out in advance, and you can comfortably buy a ticket for a show the day before).
(Andy Synn reports on the third day of Oslo’s Inferno Festival 2015 and provides photos. For Andy’s report on the pre-fest show last Wednesday, go here. His report on Day One is at this location and his Day Two review is here.)
The final day of a festival is always bittersweet. On the one hand you have all these new memories of the music you’ve experienced and the new friends you’ve made (that last point is conjecture, since I am, by nature, not the most social animal when confronted with large crowds of people), while on the other you know that, like all good things, even this must come to an end.
Still, on the plus side you’re also very much aware that you have one more day of music left, and in this case it was a day of (almost) unadulterated awesomeness…ness.
(Andy Synn reports on the second day of Oslo’s Inferno Festival 2015 and provides photos. For Andy’s report on the pre-fest show last Wednesday, go here, and his report on Day One is at this location.)
If there’s a better way to kick off another day at one of the world’s best metal festivals than by seeing Goatwhore, I’d like to hear it. Big riffs, big spikes, big attitude, the band positively ooze confidence and bleed metal, smashing through their set with almost reckless abandon.
Bassist James Harvey had a bit of a rough night, truth be told, early songs rendering his bass-lines as little more than a barely audible rumble, while snapping a string part way through the set forced the band to play a few songs without him entirely. Still, they persevered like the stalwart soldiers of Satan that they are, and on his eventual return Harvey’s lurching low-end was much more prominent.
(Andy Synn reports on the first day of Oslo’s Inferno Festival 2015 and provides photos. For Andy’s report on the pre-fest show last Wednesday, go here.)
The first day of the festival proper began (for me at least) promptly at 6:15 when Spellemann Award-winning Death Metallers Execration took the stage.
Down and dirty, with a hint of something creepy just beneath the surface, the band’s blending of rolling, Vader/Autopsy–style death-grooves, Behemoth/Watain-esque stomp and swagger, and touches of eerie, Morbid Angel-ish atmosphere – accentuated here and there by unexpected progressive touches, flashes of surprising technicality, and an undercurrent of lurching sludge – should, by all rights, be an awkward mix. Yet somehow they make it work, taking this amalgam of sounds and using it to whip up an absolute cacophony of ugly, unrepentant nastiness that’s also as infectious as sonic syphilis.
(Andy Synn took in the sights and sounds of the Inferno Festival on April 1-4, 2015, in Oslo, Norway, and this is the first of a multi-part report about his experience. Andy took the photos as well.)
Once again last weekend I was lucky enough to be able to attend Inferno Festival in Oslo, which this year is celebrating its 15th Anniversary, with a frankly flabbergasting line-up of bands that could almost have been hand-picked for yours truly, including some of my absolute favourites as well as a number of bands I’ve been dying to see live.
For those of you who are unaware, the Wednesday night always serves as a pre-festival “Club Night” and kick-off party, with a variety of different bands playing at different locations scattered around in relatively close proximity to the main venue. With the right pass (which, thankfully, included my fancy pink “Press” wristband) you can wander freely between the different places, picking and choosing what artists you want to see.
I decided (for reasons which will become clear) to focus my activities around the new Vulkan arena, and particularly the smaller Pokalen bar down in the lower level…