Aug 192011

I’ve decided that the best time to write a concert review is as soon after the show as possible, when the experience is fresh, when the emotions are immediate, when the music is still ringing in my head. The only downsides I can see are (a) I’m half-baked as I write this, and (b) I’m really fuckin’ tired. On the other hand, I’ve convinced myself that these may be pluses.

I saw THE POWER OF THE RIFF tour at a club called Neumos in Seattle tonight with some friends. The driving force behind this tour, which I think only has four West Coast stops (and somewhat different line-ups at each stop), is LA-based Southern Lord Records. It was a long night, and I didn’t see every band. Among other things, because tomorrow is a work-day, I couldn’t stay to see the headlining band, Winter, because they weren’t scheduled to start until well after midnight. But of the bands I saw, these made the strongest impression, in this order: All Pigs Must Die, Noothgrush, and Pelican.


Superior armageddon grindcore. Overheated and smoking, but even at their fastest, absolutely pulverizing with a compulsive groove. And it ain’t all speed. They downshift into lower gear in almost every song, and your throat seizes up, gasping for air, as they detonate sludge-bombs and then light things up again with grind rocketry. The band is as tight as a vacuum seal in outer space, and their vocalist is a magnetic presence, wielding the mic stand like a baton. I thought for sure he would cave in someone’s head before they finished their set. As one of my friends said, “it isn’t metal until someone gets hurt.”  (more after the jump . . .)

All Pigs Must Die, fuck yeah. A great discovery. Go ahead, listen to this.

[audio:|titles=All Pigs Must Die – Death Dealer]


Imagine this: You’re chained in an iron receptacle, and through vents in the bottom, hot paving tar slowly flows in. Inexorably, at a glacial pace, it covers your feet, it climbs up your legs, it reaches and passes the part of your body that does all the thinking, it covers your abdomen and your chest, your arms strain at their chains and you scream as the tar boils the flesh away until it reaches the empty cavity on top of your shoulders and pours into your ears, mouth, and nose, suffocating you in a blistering black agony. Your last sensations are the smell of your own incinerating flesh and the shrieking chants of this band’s vocalist.

That’s Noothgrush for you. Sick, sloooooow, sludgy, and ultimately irresistible.

[audio:|titles=Noothgrush – Oil Removed]

(Pelican posted this on their facebook page right about the time Noothgrush finished their set: “Good lord, Noothgrush are heavier than a knapsack full of anvils.” That about sums it up.)


Less sludge, more speed, more musical extravagance. Titanic riffs — yes, exactly, as catastrophic as the forces that sunk the Titanic — plus waves of ringing guitar melodies that lift you into the clouds. This band can be as heavy as any metal band you’ve heard, as compulsively headbangable in their rhythms as you’d desire in a wet dream, and yet they rise like a column of superheated air. No vocals. With music this stunning, they really don’t need ’em. I felt about as completely enveloped and carried away as I ever have at a metal show. Magnificent.

The performance was even more stunning given that the band was missing one of its guitarists, and had to enlist a dude named Dylan Thomas (I may be imagining this name — see (a) and (b) above) — to fill in. I feel like a fresh dog turd for not having listened to Pelican’s music in about a year. Yeah, I rationalize that with the explanation that I need to spend most of my listening time checking out new music. But really, fuck me. I’m listening to Pelican as I type this.

[audio:|titles=Pelican – Ephemeral]

  4 Responses to “THE POWER OF THE RIFF”

  1. I remember Noothgrush from AGES ago. Glad they’re still around!

    • I’d never heard of them before, undoubtedly because I’m not that knowledgable about the sludge/doom genre, but yeah, they do seem to have been around a very long time, though they don’t seem to tour frequently. They sure had a devoted following in the house last night.

  2. glad the show was good. thought about going, but all pigs must die was the only band i wanted to see. are you gonna check out part 2 of the power of the riff tomorrow @the highline? trap them, baptists, black breath…

    • I wish I could — it’s another solid line-up, and I especially want to hear Trap Them, but instead I’m going with a gang of rowdies to watch the Seahawks.

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