Welcome to Napalm Flesh! This week we have a review of the death metal assault that was last week’s Deicide show at the Complex. We also have reviews of new music from Angel Witch, Beneath The Massacre, Beyond Terror Beyond Grace and Cynic, as well as our weekly rundown of metal events.
On Friday, March 30, The Dreaming, Downfall with Torque and Wareye play the South Shore (21+). $10 gets you in, music underway around 8 p.m.
Also Friday, The Black Dahlia Murder headline with Nile, Skeletonwitch and Hour of Penance at the Complex. Advance tickets are $18, $20 the day of for the all-ages show in “The Grand” portion of The Complex. Doors open at 7 p.m.
On Saturday the 31, Burt’s (21+) hosts the reunion of Alcoholic Death with Truce and Dethblo. $5 gets you in, music at 9 p.m.
For the “chill-out” folks, Dwellers (you know, the band on the cover of March’s SLUG Mag) will play at Willie’s (21+), 10 p.m. Come out and welcome these locals back from their tour to SXSW.
On Sunday night, April 1, Kilby Court offers up a killer all ages show with Black Tusk and East of the Wall, with local support from Gaza, Loom and Merlin’s Beard – tons of music for $10, music at 7 pm.
Monday night, April 1, Burt’s (21+) hosts Witchburn with Riksha and Year of the Wolf. Tickets are $10, music at 9 p.m.
Deicide show review
On Friday night, March 23, The Complex welcomed a cavalcade of death metal in the form of the March of Death tour, featuring Lecherous Nocturne, Abigail Williams, Jungle Rot, and headliners and death metal heavyweights Deicide, fresh off their newest album, To Hell With God. As this was my first date with three of the four bands, I was, needless to say, fucking excited to be a part of such a brutally dark evening with such legendary musicians. I’ve had a curious fascination with Glen Benton for a lot of years, and Deicide is just one of those bands you have to see at least once.
When I got to the venue, I found out that Abigail Williams had not arrived for this show for some still-unexplained reason and they wouldn’t be playing the Salt Lake City show. But we soldier on! I must say I was surprised at the amount of minors that showed up—The Complex really wasn’t kidding when they said demand dictated they change the show to all-ages. The middle-aged lifers of the metal scene and the fuck-you-I’m-not-old semi-adults (like me) were easily outnumbered by the Hot Topic crowd. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, really—I just know the sound quality up in the bar, where the elder drinkers were corralled for protection of the young’ns, makes me want to cry into my watered down Jack and Coke
One honest thing I need to tell you, metal bands: I know everything’s super-serious and all, and the brutal music is the only thing that matters, but please, just twice a show, say your band’s name in a clear and audible voice. No demon growl, no hurried tone, and please god no rambling speeches about your career. At the start and finish of your set, just tell me what the fuck your band name is. You want people to find your music after they go home, right? Right. We’re all retards with ADD and we need you to help us love you, especially when you’re local dudes.
I say this because I had to look up the names of our local openers, Gravetown and Deicidal Carnage, and I would have been heartbroken if the interweb hadn’t yielded results, because both bands were fucking sick. They were surprisingly thick and vicious, so much so that I thought at least one of them was a touring act. If I had to pick, I would say Gravetown has the more polished sound of the two (and some blazing shredding!), but Deicidal Carnage was far from lacking in enjoyable death metal debauchery. Both sets went smoothly and the crowd showed a lot of love for these local hellions.
Next up was the extreme-metal setup from South Carolina, Lecherous Nocturne, a band I was only familiar with in passing, but whose reputation preceded them. And holy shit! My melted face is still not quite recovered from that set. I went home and looked up videos of drummer Alex Lancia because, fuck that guy, he’s superhuman behind the kit and I had to see proof. Their sound was atmospheric, thick as the stink off a corpse, almost sulfurous in continuous blasts. The technicality of their songwriting had me doubly impressed—just goddamn brutal through and through.
Before we delve into the next set, I’d like to hand out an award for Most Dreamy Hair in Metal, and I’d also like to close nominations for this award because the winner is Geoff Bub of Jungle Rot. It’s light, it’s curly, it’s clean and shiny, and when he pulls out the helicopter headbang, you are literally hypnotized. It’s a thing of wonder. Such was the unexpectedly delightful stage show when veterans Jungle Rot came out for their performance, and if Bub has the best hair in metal, singer Dave Matrise has the most intimidating scowl. After the unrelenting nuclear explosion that was Lecherous Nocturne, the slower-paced but just as heavy sound of Jungle Rot was a welcome transition, and it really highlighted the uniqueness in the group’s sound. They have that little smattering of melody and proto-groove that adds a taste of thrash to their sound and sets them apart from contemporaries. Onstage, they were commanding and connected to their music, if a little physically stiff when it came to wandering the stage. But Matrise’s grrrface was, no joke, scary as hell, especially put with his music. They got the biggest pits of the show going. Towards the end of their set, some subtle and classy gentlemen began to yell for Deicide from the bar, beginning a half-hearted chant of retards, to which Dave Matrise raised his middle finger and said “Fuck you too, this is our last song.” They actually played two more, which was awesome considering. I’ll never get how band guys put up with dickheads at shows without losing it.
Now, finally, the moment of the evening: the legendary Deicide. When they took the stage, I was stoked. I know I’d missed seeing them in their prime and nothing can replace that, but it was still pretty fucking cool to finally see them in their element. And yet when the music began, it was…underwhelming. There’s no question they’ve still got the musical chops—Benton’s scream hasn’t lost an inch, and Steve is just as fast as ever on his shiny-ass cymbals—but the whole thing just seemed phoned in. There was no anger or extreme emotional energy coming from the stage; hell, they all kept laughing to one another, I imagine at the fact that a whole new generation of pissed-off kids was still paying to hear them bitch about Christians. The Deicide in my memory actually has some passion. The Deicide on stage that night looked like four dudes playing songs they didn’t care about. It broke my black heart just a little. They covered a very wide range of their catalogue, playing such classics as “When Satan Rules His World,” “Serpents of the Light” and “Scars of the Crucifix” and from the newest album “Witness of Death,” “Save Your,” and “Hang In Agony Until You’re Dead.” After a bit, all the songs started to sort of blend together, and even the crowd’s energy dropped pretty quickly into the set. After the excitement of Jungle Rot, it was a more or less a letdown, and made me wish I’d not missed Benton in his furious, crazy prime. As headliners, they were subpar for sure, making no attempt to entertain but only going through the musical motions.
As Above, So Below
Metal Blade/Rise Above
Angel Witch = Saxon + Dianno-era Maiden + 1980s Angel Witch
The nascent NWOBHM scene had no shortage of progenitor metal rippers that, despite the most earnest of efforts, never really got their due and fizzled from consciousness. While Angel Witch was certainly one of 'em, their 1980 debut still gets an undisputed "classic" stamp among NWOBHM-files (and has seen re-release at least four different times) and the band has enjoyed a healthy cult status in the decades following their demise. Pitting driving proto-metal aesthetics against a dark, mildly satanic aura, 'Witch laid the blueprint for many of the metallic sub-niches to spawn in their wake. While As Above... showcases an invigorated modern lineup (featuring founding member Kevin Heybourne and Carcass vet Bill Steer as a live guitarist) it's still a throwback. Two tracks date back to 1983-84 sessions and some even farther back—by large, these old (written) cuts are the best. "Witching Hour" and "Guillotine" stand as the album's best they’re raw and galloping like the days of yore, riffs, shrieking and all the classic calling cards of metal's bygone era. "Into the Dark" captures a potent ’70s groove, sprinkling some diversity in the mix. The newer songs run a little stale (and the tinny NWOBHM production doesn't help) as "Upon this Chord" sounds muddled and cacophonous. "The Horla," though it tries not to be, is just a shitty power-ballad. In terms of aura and aesthetic, the band has still got it in spades and it's a shock some of these tracks never made it to the debut. When it comes to writing new songs with an old twist best to leave it to another band...like Ghost. As Above, So Below has classic scrawled across half of it, and they shouldn't mess with that formula—a mixed bag of old and new where the older style indisputably reigns supreme. –Dylan Chadwick
Beneath the Massacre
Beneath the Massacre = Black Dahlia Murder + The Faceless
Incongruous is a textbook display of technical death metal, and I don’t mean that to say it’s boring—far from it. This is an enjoyable circus of mayhem for the ears. The band isn’t breaking new ground as much as they are demonstrating how the fuck you write a great death metal album from start to finish. The melodic tones are dark, bitter and brooding like an old-school horror movie. Some of that fret-work is like a psychotic ballet interrupting the brawny blast-beats and hooking your ear for a closer listen. Titular interlude track “Incongruous” is a slow-but-crushing display: it’s hypnotizing, technical and strong. This is a band that has the technical aspect of performing solid death metal down to an art. With that challenge mastered, I would love to see them stretch into more creative, twisted realms on future albums, because that would make them unstoppable. –Megan Kennedy
Beyond Terror Beyond Grace
Beyond Terror Beyond Grace = Anaal Nathrakh + Portal + Neuraxis
Nadir is a creative conglomerate of death metal, black metal, grind and, to some extent, a bit of post metal. The feel of everything right out of the gates is of an album to be listened to in its entirety. Songs go from having little to no breathing room with well-beyond-intriguing tremolo type death/black metal riffing. Think of what many modern black metal bands do, but increase the bass and down tune the hell out of the main guitar and you have an idea of the tones expressed here. The first four tracks are intensely heavy, bleak and blackened in atmosphere—they’re the biggest success of Nadir. The closing three tracks start to meander into post metal realms—“The Blood of Time” is a perfect example with its more sedate atmosphere. Nadir is a weighted production, stark and enveloping—it’s enjoyable from second one to the last meager moments of the ambient closer “Pathea.” This is an insufferable but transfixing record that plays well for the lurkers for something a bit different in extreme metal. –Bryer Wharton
The Portal Tapes
Season of Mist
Cynic = a Sega Genesis and Barnes and Noble having a baby + Into Another + Jamiroquai + Portishead + that douchebag with a fretless bass + Sneaker Pimps
Lemme get this out right up front: this isn't metal. Not even remotely. If metal's a bloody rib-eye cooked and seasoned to salivary perfection then this Portal Tapes shit is a quivering mound of fermented tofu scramble. Not saying it's terrible (or great), but if you're looking for the hard jazz-death fusion of the debut you'd be better off looking elsewhere (up your ass? yuk yuk). Originally released in 1995, The Portal Demo was the "we're moving in a new direction" clarion call Cynic (in fact, "Portal" was initially a separate moniker for a separate side project), decidedly proggier and wholly more polarizing...but why give it the re-ish treatment when most fans (sans the ones in fedoras currently combing the 'tantric coffee brewing for one' books on Amazon) hated it the first time around? And why put it under the Cynic umbrella? Aruna Abrams' voice lends an air of ethereality (sorta Beth Gibbons-esuqe) to the mix, and the musicianship is accomplished through tinkling keys and noodley leads....if that wets your whistle. At best it coos like supermarket smooth-jazz and at worst like waiting-room muzak for a crayon colonoscopy (or Evanescense playing the Dade County Retirement Castle). Whatever. "Karma's Plight" and "Road to You" are solid jamz. I guess. Maybe. Don't drink the Kool-Aid. -Dylan Chadwick