Tuesday, January 19, 2010. This is how the day began over Puget Sound (honest to God — I really saw this and really took this photo):
And this is how it ended at El Corazon in Seattle:
After starting off the New Year of live music last week with an ass-kicking show by DevilDriver, Suffocation, Goatwhore, and Thy Will Be Done (see our review here), your three NCS Authors took in the Evangelia Amerika tour two nights ago in Seattle — and the ass-kicking continued as Behemoth, Septicflesh, Lightning Swords of Death, and Those Who Lie Beneath took the stage at El Corazon. For our report, and a lot more of our amateurish concert photos like the one above, continue reading after the jump.
THOSE WHO LIE BENEATH
This Portland band (a local addition to the tour for the Portland and Seattle shows) dropped their debut CD, An Awakening, in October. As we wrote in early December, we thought it was the shit — an appealing blend of old-school death, the crushing breakdowns of deathcore, melodic death metal guitar stylings and solos, and tech-death instrumentation.
The dudes played a short 20-minute set as the crowd was meandering into the venue. It’s always tough for a band to be the lead act in front of a relatively small crowd that hasn’t yet been properly lubricated and warmed up, but even with that allowance, the performance was only so-so. The awesomeness of the album music just didn’t translate into an equally awesome live performance.
The distinctiveness of the recorded songs was somewhat lost in a muddy, fused wall of noise (saved periodically by some nice soloing from Taylor Danley), and Jamie Hanks’ gutteral vocals had a disappointingly monotonous quality. And as for stage presence, they seemed restrained and a little intimidated — whatever energy they were feeling just wasn’t communicating itself. The slowly growing crowd gave the local boys a nice reception, but this is a live act that needs the experience and practice of touring before their undeniable talent in the studio converts to memorable entertainment on stage.
LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH
This Los Angeles-based black metal band has produced a decent split EP with Valdur, they signed to Metal Blade late last year, and they’ve generated some positive critical response. So we were curious to see what the buzz was about.
Our reactions were decidedly mixed. NCS Co-Author IntoTheDarkness thought they “sucked balls,” that they sounded like they were playing one note for half an hour, and that he’d rather listen to Faith Hill. Co-Author Alexis thought the experience was “painful.” On the other hand, I sorta got into it. Sorta.
The music was dark, hypnotically atmospheric, evil-sounding, and heavy on the tremolo picking. The band is clearly trying to connect to traditional black metal. They got the fog machine going; they got the BM pseudonyms (Autarch, Roskva, Reverend Black, Thrudvang); and frontman Autarch has got the corpsepaint, spikes, and demonic howl working. But there was a pretentious, affected air about the live performance, and it didn’t help that the sound was cranked up to ear-bleeding levels and that the guitarist insisted on ending every song with pointless, piercing feedback.
I gotta give kudos to Thrudvang’s accomplished drumwork and to a crazy bass solo by the Reverend, but on the whole the music wasn’t memorable or particularly distinctive, and we didn’t miss ’em much when they left.
This blackened death metal band from Athens, Greece was formed three decades ago, broke up in 2003, reunited in 2007, and released a new album called Communion in March 2008. I listened to Communion for the first time early last year and was impressed.
My NCS Co-Authors weren’t familiar with the music. After a not-so-pleasant experience with Lightning Swords of Death, they awaited Septicflesh with some trepidation.
Man, was this a revelation for all three of us! Septicflesh was simply outstanding. Great technical skill, great stage presence, and very cool music — definitely grown from the roots of the black metal tree, but with some pronounced headbanging riffage and atmospheric melodies.
On most of the songs, the band was accompanied by recorded music — synthesizers and gothic choruses. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think about that, but I was swept away by the combination of dark beauty and power in the music. I’m definitely going back to Communion for more listening now that I’ve heard these dudes live. Six thumbs up!
I guess it goes without saying, but Behemoth is who everyone at El C came to see. So when Nergal and his mates walked on stage, they faced a ravenously hungry capacity crowd that went fucking nuts as soon as the band launched into “Ov Fire and the Void” — and the crowd response stayed in the red zone on the berserk-o-meter ’til the very end.
This was our first Behemoth show, and it was hugely entertaining in all the ways that count. These dudes have been doing this shit a long fucking time, and it shows. The sound was superb, the playing was tight and punishing, and you just couldn’t take your eyes off ’em. Scowling and stalking the stage, someone always in motion, these dudes are as aware of the visual importance of a live show as they are the music.
And speaking of visual impact: If truth be told, I think most bands in corpsepaint look kinda silly, but with this band and this music, it seemed completely in place and just very fucking cool.
The set list included not only songs from Behemoth’s superb 2009 album Evangelion, but also gems from older releases such as Demigod, Satanica, and Thelema.6. We also got an unexpected drum solo by Inferno about half-way through the set. It didn’t last long, but it was pretty fucking awesome. And from start to finish, Nergal’s vocals were extraordinary — I was really blown away by the sheer visceral power and intensity of his voice.
More theatrics: Before the last song, Nergal, Orion, and Seth spouted gouts of fake blood into the audience and finished off the set with gore running down their chins. Like the corpsepaint, that would have struck me as kinda cheesy if done by just about anyone else, but with this band and this music and the impact of almost an hour’s worth of preceding music, it was cool!
And then Behemoth played “Lucifer” as an encore, with Nergal donning a weird metal helmet/mask and (as shown below) all three of the dudes up front ending the night standing motionless, shoulder-to-shoulder, hammering out the song’s hypnotic final bars.
Most memorable song intro of the set: Nergal paused, took a deep breath, and said something like this: “We love touring America for many reasons. But one of the things we appreciate the most is that in America, free speech is one of the main principles! In Poland, we do not have this kind of freedom of speech. But we are in America now, and so I can say, ‘Motherfucking Christians to the Lions!!” (If you don’t know the meaning of that reference to restrictions on speech in Poland, read this.)
And now, here are some more of our amateurish photos of Behemoth in Seattle at El Corazon: