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*