Sunday, November 16, 2014

Concert Review: Horror Vacui, Bootblacks, Statiqbloom

Venue: The Acheron, Brooklyn, NY

This was a special show for me, as I was really excited to see Horror Vacui perform. I've been following them closely since their debut LP "In Darkness You Will Feel Alright" in 2012, and this is the first time they've toured the states. I have also sporadically been in contact with them since about the same time, so I was looking forward to actually meeting everyone in person (the whole band was super-cool and chill, thanks to them for putting up with me!). There is a review on this blog of the aforementioned debut, and there will be a review of their new LP for 2014, "Return Of The Empire" which will rank highly on my best of 2014 list, I reckon. Anyway, onwards!

First up was Brooklyn, NY's Statiqbloom, one of Fade Kainer's many projects. It seems every time I go to a show, he's performing with a new act! I am familiar with his projects Batillus, a killer doom metal band with heavy electronics (think Godflesh slowed down with Genesis P. Orridge providing gristly electronic noisy overlays); and Theologian (whose material I have to catch up on!), a noisy power electronics group of much industrial might. Statiqbloom might be my favorite of these projects, it sounds to me like 'Remission' era Skinny Puppy for its rhythms and hallucinatory nature, mixed with the harshness of Dive and a touch of Belgian EBM like Front 242 in the beats and bass lines. Fade always gets animated live, his vocals (whether augmented with effects or not) are commanding and he screams like he's excising some splinter from deep in his psyche. He is able to make laptop management, button mashing, and knob-turning look exciting and sexy the way rock and roll has affected playing the guitar. There was a projector show as well with some great imagery, black and white and just blurry enough to disturb, as you couldn't always quite tell what you were looking at. Furthermore, the imagery was occasionally more static-like, as in 'tv snow' lending a disorienting element that I appreciated. I certainly recommend seeing any of Fade's projects live, but especially this one!

Next up and also of Brooklyn, NY, were the Bootblacks. They brought a catchy darkwave/post-punk sound. The vocals were melancholic, reminiscent of Chameleons UK, Joy Division, and early Depeche Mode. The guitar was more noisy and deftly moved from lead to accent in the songs, I could sense some Bauhaus in there, especially in the noisy, proto-shoegaze finish at the end of the set. The drumming was original and also reminded me of Bauhaus, in that there was lots of variety in time-signatures; the drums were always as fast or as slow as they needed to be to propel the song but often did so in a rhythm less traveled. The real hook for me were the synth lines, also reminiscent of Joy Division but more-so New Order, mixed with early Depeche Mode yet again. The synth lines are very hooky, and seem to get their barbs in deeper each time I hear them, so listener be wary!

Finally, it was time for Bologna, Italy's Horror Vacui. Horror Vacui are a deathrock band in the vein of early artists like Christian Death and Fields of the Nephilim, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and early Bauhaus in that they still have punk aggressiveness and dirt along with excellent melancholy. Their sound is more desperate, sounding energetic and needing expression at any outlet rather than sounding desolate, cold and defeated. They feel more like a pressue valve demanding to let off steam rather than a broken, dead one. Too many 'goth rock' acts sound either too derivative or hopeless (which can still be good...) to capture the energy, the feeling of early Deathrock. Horror Vacui know EXACTLY what they're doing!  Their set was solid, including: "The Return Of The Empire" and "In Darkness," closing with a cover of Discharges' "Decontrol" that was quite impressive. The band played with much vigor and sounded great live, not an easy feat considering the layers of guitar effects and dual guitar approach, need for clear vocals (with their own effects) in the mix AND the fact that this was the last date in an intensive North American Tour. Drums were driving, bass was pounding, the guitars shimmering, and the vocals dominating. It would be hard to have more fun at a Goth/Deathrock show than seeing Horror Vauci as they are a great politically and emotionally aware melancholic punk rock that you can really move to! Definitely see them live and pick up ALL of their material if you like stuff like the Amebix, early Fields Of The Nephilim, Rozz Williams' Christian Death, Rudimentary Peni, and Chameleons UK with touches of early, 7" era Sisters of Mercy and early Killing Joke.

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2014*

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Concert Review: All Out War, Sworn Enemy, Living Laser, Recycled Earth

Firstly, I was disappointed that Boston's PanzerBastard couldn't play, but their bus broke down. Safe travels on the rest of the tour! I last saw them in late 2012, and they killed it, I've been a fan ever since.

Right, so about the acts that did play...  the show was at Brooklyn's The Acheron, a great venue for its variety. The sound is usually very good, always loud, and the staff I've encountered are friendly and down-to-earth. The venue is broken into a restaurant side and a venue side. The venue side is a bit narrow near the entrance ways, leading to frequent bottle-necking but widens near the stage. There is a separate toilet and bar on the venue side, which I think anyone who breaks the seal and comes back for more brew would find most helpful. It's kept me from pissing myself, I'll tell you. They keep a great rotating stock of micro-brew beer on tap, same for bottled and canned beer. They have food as well, but I haven't yet tried any. From what I've seen and smelled though, it is probably most excellent.

Recycled Earth, a NY hardcore band was my favorite act of the night, after All Out War. The hardcore elements such the ever-popular breakdown, but for the most part they sounded like an early demo from a Swedish Death Metal band that kept more punk influences. Their guitar tone was down-tuned, but throaty, and a bit buzzy, though not to Sunlight Studios levels. Overall, excellent super-heavy guitar sound which paired well with the bass. Very competent drumming and vocals. The breakdowns tended to be slower and more doomy, reminiscent more of Autopsy than, say, Agnostic Front.

Next was Living Laser, another hardcore band. They appeared about 10 years younger than Recycled Earth but played hardcore that sounded about 10 years older (Recycled Earth sounded like 1991 hardcore and Swedish Death Metal, Living Laser sounded more like 1981 hardcore punk). So, more accessible, simple sound and less unique tones and arrangements but very energetic.

Sworn Enemy is a NY hardcore band, and was up next. I'm not a huge fan of their material, it's a little too modern in its sound (guitar production, breakdown style, drumming styles) for my taste. They played very competently and knew how to rile up the crowd, so points for showmanship.

Finally, NY's premiere Metalcore act, All Out War! I have been a casual fan of All Out War for probably about 10 years now, and this was the first time I've seen them, so expectations were high. I must say, they delivered, and then some. This was easily the most intense show, the most brutal mosh pit I've experienced this year. What sets All Out War apart from the pack, at least for me, are the arrangements and the riffs; they balance out the breakdowns and the buildups with deft skill, the guitars are violently thrashy. Slayer wishes they wrote some of these riffs! All Out War have always been more nihilist and violent in their lyrics, to my knowledge, than the average 'metalcore' band. This band, like Philly's Starkweather, can best be categorized as 'metalcore' meaning a combination of 90's hardcore and extreme heavy metal, but each shows the possibilities and variety of the genre, rather than the similarities like so many others. By the way, check out Starkweather if you're unfamiliar, They tend wed more of a 90's Norwegian Black Metal riffing to their hardcore (which is also less breakdown-heavy and less predictable, uses more dark minor chord melodies too). Considering they were releasing material at the same time as, say, Thorns or Emperor, Starkweather seemed to reach some similar conclusions, through a different route, to extreme music. Anyway, back to All Out War! Their set was solid, including "Destined to Burn" and "Hypocrites of the Revolution." They played 4 or so songs from a soon-to-be-released EP which sounded INCREDIBLE. Probably my favorite material of theirs to date. These songs were much more Thrash Metal-oriented, leaning almost to proto-Black Metal sounds in intensity. There was less 'hardcore' leanings in the more stereotypical meaning of the term as applied to music subgenres. Instead, there was a pervasive sense of heaviness and inherent 'toughness' that really is the spirit of hardcore (as opposed 'the sound' of hardcore), in my opinion. The guitars seemed to have a darker tone too, though no effects or tuning changes were made, so either I imagined it or they just played their guitars differently. The songs were less predictable in arrangement so many of the fans didn't seem to know what to do. I banged my head mercilessly. I think this release has great potential to bring more metalheads into the All Out War fold, so I will probably be promoting it around my less hardcore-oriented metalhead friends to spread the bad word, heh.

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2014*

Recipe: Thermo Nuclear Devastation Of The Leftovers

*Photo copyright Sam Shockey, 2014*

This recipe is of my own design, inspired by Bristol, England's Onslaught. I had some left over soft maple-smoked goat cheese and plum tomatoes, so I decided to combine them into a snack inspired by the first demo of Onslaught, which I happened to be listening to at the time of my hunger pangs. I hope to bring you more original Heavy Metal-inspired recipes in the future, as my skills in the kitchen build. I didn't even have to conjure Mephistopheles to invent this one, so there's hope for me yet!

1. I took my last 3 pieces of whole wheat, multi-grain bread, toasted them lightly, slivered my tomatoes, placed them on top with some leftover scallions (don't overdo it, go lightly!) and evenly distributed the cheese, and sprinkled some olive oil. I placed it back in the toaster oven on about 375F for a few minutes until cheese started to brown very lightly at edges and tomatoes were warm and soft.

2. Served with some spring mix salad, coated in more olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. I mixed it thoroughly and had some baby carrots on the side.

Until next time, keep "treading the path towards death" of hunger!

*Recipe and photo copyright The Samnambulist, 2014*

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Concert Review: Samhain, Goatwhore, Midnight, YDi at Best Buy Theater, NYC 1st November 2014

Show: Samhain, Goatwhore, Midnight, YDi
Best Buy Theater, Manhattan NY, 1st November, 2014

YDi: YDi, with whom I was unfamiliar prior to this show, are a Philadelphia hardcore punk band. They formed in the early 80's and were at the forefront of the development of the genre and future, more extreme strains. They often draw favorable comparisons to Negative Approach, which I can agree with, however YDi (pronounced "Why Die?") are more aggressive, pissed off, and experimental in both their arrangements and guitar sound/effects. The whole band played solidly with vocalist Panther really bringing an incredible amount of energy. He wailed his woes from end to end of the stage, frequently throwing himself to his knees, stomach, back, etc., rolling about on the floor. I'm not sure how I've never heard of these guys before, but I can tell you I'm a fan now!

YDi quote of the night: (from Panther, vocals) Aaarrrgh!


Midnight: one of my favorite bands to emerge in the last 10 years, Midnight play a potent mix of Rock n' Roll and Heavy Metal best described as Venom meets Motorhead in their respective hey-days, with all the attitude, noise, and grime associated with both. Wondering how one stage could contain the fury of Venom AND Motorhead AT ONE TIME? The answer is that it cannot. Midnight consistently put on intense live shows with frontman Athenar often breaking equipment at the end of their sets. This performance was no exception. I've seen them three times now (including one where Athenar attempted to swing from the rafters), and each time they exceed my expectations. Midnight has two LP's to their name and a legion of splits and EP's. Their set was solid and included: Evil Like a Knife, Prowling Leather, Endless Slut, Black Rock N Roll, Lust Filth and Sleaze, You Can't Stop Steel, Satanic Royalty. I highly recommend catching this band live!

Midnight quote of the night: (from Athenar, bass & vocals) Best Buy Theater? I remember when I used to steal CD's from  that place. Now I just steal riffs.


Goatwhore: Another one of my newer favorite bands (yes, I have many), I've seen Goatwhore at least 6 times now, and they are also consistent for high energy shows. Frontman Ben Falgoust (also of Soilent Green) is excellent at rallying the crowd to move around. Their guitarist and main creative force, Sammy Pierre Duet was also in Acid Bath, who are easily in my top 5 bands of all time. As Goatwhore was also the first Heavy Metal band I ever saw live, they hold a special place in my heart. For readers in NEPA, you may understand why seeing ANY Heavy Metal shows at all in the area is difficult and seldom at best NOW, not too mention 10-11 years ago. All that nostalgia aside, Goatwhore deserve much higher praise for their music and live performance. They tour constantly and have it down to a science. They play an interesting and catchy blend of Blackened Thrash Metal with Death and Speed Metal riffs thrown in for good measure. Their lyrics have always been a strong point and are rather poetic and intelligent, along with tough-as-nails. Because of their many influences, love and mastery of the riff, and fuck-you-I'm-going-to-sound-how-I-want attitude, I can almost call them the American Darkthrone (if they pulled out more punk/hardcore influences and had more unique production they'd win the title). Their demo and first album are more influenced by Celtic Frost/Hellhammer mixed with the frostiness and rawness of the infamous 2nd wave of Norwegian Black Metal. As their albums progressed, Goatwhore upped the Thrash Metal elements and added some Death Metal ones as well,  sounding like they fell out of the 80's when the genres were not yet differentiated. What does all that mean? It means Goatwhore will pummel you with loud and vicious guitar licks that are mostly super fast with expertly-crafted tempo and style changes to keep you moving and breathless. This set consisted of newer material, including: Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed, Embodiment of this Bitter Chaos, Baring for Revolt, Apocalyptic Havoc. See them and experience why they command the legions of hell!

Goatwhore quote of the night: (from Ben Falgoust, vocals) Pump your fists in the air like it's a Judas Priest show in 1984!


Samhain: Named for the pagan Celtic ritual whose traditions live on to some degree as modern-day Halloween, this was the band of Glenn Danzig as he transitioned out of seminal and influential horror-themed punk outfit The Misfits into his solo project. Samhain was darker, heavier, and more experimental than The Misfits or Danzig's solo work. They've earned a legendary status in the Metal/Punk underground. This brief six date tour was to commemorate 30 years of Samhain, as their debut album 'Initium' was released in 1984. The band was short-lived in its original existence,  so this was quite a rare show. I was especially privileged to see the last day of the tour, which also happened to be on Samhain Day, November 1st, as it was traditionally celebrated. Samhain played their entire 'Initium' album front-to-back and were, of course, covered in blood throughout the show. The set also included Unholy Passion, All Hell, Kiss of Steel, November's Fire, Halloween II, Mother of Mercy.

Samhain quote of the night: (from Glenn Danzig, vocals) Elvis never put on this much blood for you!

This was a fantastic show all around, what a KILLER line-up, these are all high-energy bands with rabid fan bases. Samhain has wide appeal due to Danzig's many projects/incarnations over the years so the crowd was quite diversified, always a plus in my book! Sound was good up front near the stage, but some people claimed the sound was fuzzy in the rear, which I would believe from previous shows at Best Buy Theater. There was only 15 minute waits between sets which was appreciated, except for Samhain for whom we waited about 35 minutes. My thanks to the stage crew(s)!

*Reviews copyright The Samnambulist, 2014*