They Are Who We Thought They Were
Bug Jar, March1
Between the second set and the headliner's, I posted the following to my Facebook page:
"Am shooting and reviewing a concert tonight. Headline act is 'Mutilation Rites.' They're next. One of middle act Ancalagon's guitarists' shirt featured a band called Goat Whore. Their closing song was 'Incestuous Incantation.'
Not sure why I forgot to invite my mom to be my +1."
Aside from the zinger line, the description pretty effectively sums up the evening's experience. I went in with low expectations, fully prepared to shoot and leave early. I enjoyed the show far more than I thought I would, and stayed to the end.
Opening act Enthauptung's half hour of grind and scream rhythm and drums featured local musicians Daniel Drexel (vocals/guitars), Joe Leising (guitars), Jason Roman (bass) and Dan Malanowicz (drums) who use maybe a bit more feedback distortion than makes for a good show - they spent a significant amount of time facing the amps behind them at the back of the stage giving the audience more of their back than could possibly entertain any but their girlfriends. The foursome's songs featured many tempo changes and some creative song-writing. Fortunately, the night's sound engineer kept the vocals under control and did not allow them to overwhelm the band. This stayed true for the duration of the show.
Of the three acts, Atlanta-based Ancagalon most closely fits the styles of metal I enjoy. Ajran's vocals could use some cleaning up, but it's not my band, and the screaming fit the night's theme. Ancagalon plays a brand of metal closer to thrash than death or black metal, sounding at times like early Annihilator, Slayer or Metallica, with plenty of other influences thrown in. Drummer Aladron, lead guitarist Kvasir and rhythm guitarist Gilmor craft a decidedly reminiscent style, while maintaining originality. Their songs, although screamed, did feature vocals closest to singing, with actually perceptable lyrics (at times.) The fact that when they announced the last song of their set was "Incestuous Incantation" nobody laughed conveys much about the band and the audience.
MutilationRites, the headliner whose album Harbinger I reviewed plays a black metal so fast that a lot of talent is lost when heard as an album. This music benefits from being experienced live. The skills of the George Paul on guitars and vocals, Justin Ennis on drums, guitarist Michael Dimmit and bassist Ryan Jones show through the frantic music much better than on the album. This may have been in part due to the engineer's mixing. On the album I reviewed the vocals were much more prominent. It was an experience hearing each band warm up. When the vocalists did their mike checks, the sounds they produced must be heard to be believed. If an asthmatic rhinoceros cleared his throat in a caverous tiled bathroom, he'd come close to approximating these sounds. I may have been the only person to find humor in this. Pretty much everyone else took it in stride.
Mutilation Rites' music features relentless speed, followed by more relentless speed at a different chord, backed by drums you'd swear could only come from a guy with three arms, followed by a new chord of more speed. Unlike their opening acts, they slowed rarely, if ever, for a skills break or to play with tempo. This style of music does encourage the development of a "pit" which featured the same 10 or so tall skinny dudes bouncing around and crashing into eachother with abandon at times. One of the prominent moshers was the lead singer/guitarist for opening act Enthauptung. Bearing a camera (insured) and lens (not insured) I couldn't participate; not that I could anymore. I'm old. At one point during the show I was fairly convinced the sound waves had shaken a couple kidney stones into places that caused pain. I'm just glad they didn't stay there.
All in all, the show was fun, if late (MR didn't go on until after midnight) and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The skill and passion of these musicians cannot be denied, and, while it's not for everyone, a good time was had by all.