(This is Part 2 of a post by BadWolf reviewing the 2011 edition of OGREFEST in Lansing, Michigan. Check out Part 1 HERE.)
Here begin the veteran acts. Wastelander Guitarist/vocalist Xaphan dedicated their set to his 14-year-old daughter, who attentively watched from the side while wearing an Asking Alexandria tee shirt. Ah, the generation gap. She should be proud of her papa; his band is badass.
Wastelander plays to my personal weaknesses with their mixture of black metal, groovy thrash, D-beat/crust punk and just plain ballsy metal-rock with a lyrical focus on post-apocalyptic survival. They sonically recognize Motorhead as the inception of all extreme metal, and play music that would make Lemmy proud, with twists of Amebix, mid-period Bathory, early Venom and NWOBHM-y goodness sprinkled on top. They made me go ‘ooh!’ and headbang from the first second—as they always do.
Growled vocals, big chords, mechanical beats (they used to play with a drum machine) and hairy, sweaty swing made for a compelling forty-five minutes of hair flying. I cannot imagine anyone, be they kvlt-er, beardo, neo-thrasher, or ordinary metalhead, who is immune to the charms of Wastelander. Since then they’re released a split 7” with a band called Abigail. (Their 2010 debut album is Wardrive.)
(more after the jump)
Next up . . .
My opinion of Chicago’s High Spirits is already well-documented: I love them. Ogrefest ’11 was the beginning of that musical affair. After hours of high-intensity darkness and brutality, the harmonious and melodic NWOBHM-revivalism of High Spirits was a welcome change of pace. The band’s watchword was unity—the members of High Spirits played in matching black-and-white uniforms and sang as a group with harmony.
A cursory listen to High Spirits separates them from the growing ranks of retro-revival metal bands. Their songs are solid riff-and-chorus fueled packages of distilled forward momentum. I found it impossible, even in my exhausted state, not to fist-pump along. Chris Black is a sharp singer and also a pack leader when it comes to re-capturing the days when metal was unapologetically party music.
Every member of High Spirits is a great performer full of jovial audacity. It takes serious chutzpah to break a song down and go a capella in the middle of a mountain of death and doom bands. I was invigorated by singing along when the audience joined the gang-harmony of their self-titled song. Their new record, Another Night, has just been released, and I fucking love it.
High Spirits was necessary and vibrant, the last shaft of light before darkness fell and all hell started breaking loose.
[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/03-Full-Power.mp3|titles=High Spirits – Full Power]
Satyrasis, the pet project of Dave Peterman, the guy who runs Ogrefest, are one hell of an old-school death metal band.
This was the year Satyrasis cashed the check that the best moments of their first album wrote. That disc was a great big coulda-been, but has been in heavy iPod rotation anyway. It hinted at a fantastic and creative death metal band marred by poor execution. No more.
This year’s Satyrasis opened their set with a 15-minute prog-death epic that at times recalled some of the genre’s finest: Human-era Death, Immolation, The Chasm. Their riffage segued easily and logically from crushing intensity to more immersive and psychedelic soundscapes.
Their entire set followed suit with moments of musical tranquility and introspection as well as firebrand viciousness. Years of playing Rush covers and gigging alongside bands like Cleveland’s Deadsea have sharpened Dave and co’s chops into subtlety.
Satyrasis were this year’s most pleasant surprise. I need them to record that fucking death metal epic. I want to play it while doing donuts in church parking lots.
And next . . .
For those of you loving the old-school DM revival, Genocya is the band for you. Expect an interview with them and a review of their excellent new LP Ever Descent, which is 100% independent, and streaming at Bandcamp.
Every year there is one issue at Ogrefest—last year Satyrasis had to give up their set entirely. This year Lansing’s favorite sons, Genocya, were forced offstage after only four songs by a misunderstanding over start times. A shame. Genocya have been in the game for a good long while and have the kind of local credibility teenagers with pan-hair and emo jeans dream about. Their manual assistance also makes Ogrefest a possibility. If anyone deserved a full set, it was they.
But they have nothing to be ashamed of, because those four songs were absolutely disgusting. Speaking from experience, Genocya put more ‘oomph!’ in twenty minutes than Job For a Cowboy put in an hour. Fingers flew fast. Hair was everywhere (most certainly NOT screaming infidelities, just praising infidels). Fists holding cans of PBR were raised like sacred chalices. People knew the words and shouted them out—Genocya only need 4 songs to slay.
Dagon put on good shows with the effortlessness of a practiced trapeze artist and Ogrefest was no exception. I’ve written before aobut my tremendous love of Dagon’s music. Their album Terraphobic is one of my favorite Melodic Death Metal records.
I was nervous when I found out they would be premiering a new member. Fortunately, that member turned out to be guitarist Matt Trzcinski of Satyrasis. He and Chris Sharrock traded off blistering leads while performing their asses off. The pair even unveiled some tongue-in-cheek stage moves such as Immortal-esque crab walking and doing the wave (sports stadium style). Normally this sort of thing is a turn off to me, but Dagon have a levity to their music that suits this sort of behavior.
Dagon played an eclectic set with an old favorite (“To the Drums We Rise”) and a very killer cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Perry Mason.” They updated the song very well while playing to their strengths of powerful vocals and hooks. They also jammed on some songs from the then-unreleased Vindication EP. In a live setting some of the more subtle selling points like lyrics and guitar solos—things Dagon excels at—are lost in the rush, but are in excellent condition on Vindication. Expect a review of that, as well as a Dagon interview, in the future.
In the meantime, once again, sorry for the delay. Ogrefest is the best local metal show I’ve ever been to—hopefully some of you will make it out next year!