Sunday, January 31, 2010

Castevet - Stones/Salts

Artist: Castevet

Title: Stones/Salts

Format: 7"

Color: Clear

Pressing History: 300 (1st press)

Label: Paragon Records

Review: There have been so many amazing black metal influenced bands coming out of New York lately such as Unearthly Trance, Tombs and Krallice. Add the simply jaw dropping Castevet to that fine group of bands. On their first official release, Castevet (featuring ex-Anodyne bassist J. Scott) offer two tracks on a clear colored 7". The first track, Stones, is dissonant and claustrophobic; blackened yet not quite black metal. The band is informed by both metallic hardcore and black metal. Their sound is busy and unrelenting. The hooks come but they don't last long which works wells since it makes the tracks fluid. The rhythm section is amazing but the only complaint I have would be the vocals which lack dynamics. Salts continues the blackened assault with a triumphant and melodic piece towards the end of the track. These guys are for real; they know what they are going for and they've achieved it. The packaging is minimalist (one page insert) but effective. At a mere 300 copies pressed, this release is highly limited and the clear vinyl just sweetens the deal. As for artwork, it's simple but fitting and it's my interpretation that the images match the song titles: the front image is of an icy and twisted wind swept plane (salts) and the back is an image of a gloomy rock face (stones). A fine release overall by yet another standout act from NYC. Music : 2 stars; Package: 2 stars. Overall: 4 out of 4 stars.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Live Review: Nile/Immolation/Krisiun at the Trocadero, Philly

Lineup: Nile/Immolation/Krisiun/The Dreaming Dead/1 other opening act
Date: 1/17/2010
Location: The Trocadero Theatre, Philadelphia, PA

Review: The night started off well with yet another trip to my favorite Philly eatery, El Fuego. If California style burritos are your thing, then you’ve come to the right place because El Fuego is simply outstanding! After my vegetarian black bean burrito with a negro modelo to wash it down, I fought the rain and lack of parking to Arch street in city center to find the Trocadero Theatre. It was worth the struggle just to witness the beautiful architecture and stained glass of this former ballroom and member of the NRHP. Built in the late 19th century, the building is a sight to be seen and has amazing acoustics that just don’t exist in today’s modern venues. Add decent beer on tap at the bar, and this show had high potential….

First up was a local deathcore act, the name of which escaped me. Not that it really mattered since their brand of new-jack death wreaked of style over substance. When not one but two members of your band have 3” gauges in your ears, you’re making a statement that says that you worship at the altar of The Acacia Strain, Emmure, etc. I applaud them for their enthusiasm and energy but please go home and listen to Left Hand Path, Need to Control and Considered Dead and then come back to me with a full report.

The deathcore was followed with a The Dreaming Dead, a melodic death outfit from LA. Consisting of a 1:1 ratio of men to women was refreshing, as was their sound. Lead vocalist/guitarist Elizabeth Elliot could give Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy a run for her money. Equally impressive was the basswork of Juan Ramirez, who built a technical framework that lifted the band to majestic heights. Many a long-hair in the front row reacted with windmill upon hearing their infectious and tightly played tunes. Needless to say I’m looking forward to seeing them again and potentially purchasing some of their material.

At this point I had at least two more beers in me (a Harpoon IPA and a Guiness, if my memory serves me correctly). To get through the Brazilian death dealers Krisiun’s set, I may have needed more alcohol. Not much has changed since I last saw them back in 2001: yes they are brutal, dark and super fast. But that’s about it. The shtick gets old fast, and even the dudes in the pit (including the guy wearing the mo$h mother fucker shirt) were staring at each other after a few tracks wondering if the song they were hearing was already played. Though his English may have improved a little, the front man exclaimed, “give the fuck up for your Immolation!” That was probably their most entertaining moment. The dry and tedious sound just exacerbated my anticipation for Immolation to take the stage.

A quick note about the crowd should be added too. Philly was definitely in effect that night and they brought their death metal fiends out of the woodwork. There was one dude who I though had an inverted cross burned into his forehead in praise of Glen Benton, but it actually turned out to be a dent in his skull! As for the pit, there is always a ‘pit boss,’ and tonight was no exception. The ruler of the pit award goes to a 6’4”, 250 + lb. American Indian dude who basically just pushed people out of the way. The circle pit went around him and he exiled those who got out of line back into crowd. Also worth mentioning were two dudes in the bar section (21+) who looked like Dieter from SNL with leather jackets and Megadeth and Amon Amarth shirts underneath, respectively. From their skinny wire rimmed glasses to their tight black pants, these guys wreaked of teutonic metal fandom. The best was their response to every band: gyrating disco-like dance with their hips shaking! Needless to say it was a sight to be seen.

Back to the music, NY’s Immolation stormed the stage next. It has been a while since I’ve seen these masters of true evil and brutal mastery. Their brand of anti-Christian hate filled death metal is always a treat in the live setting, and tonight was no exception. They were tight, technical and on point as was expected. A few new tracks off the upcoming album, Majesty and Decay, were performed to much applause by the crowd. Classics like No Jesus, No Beast and others were executed with finesse and expertise the likes of which could only be done by a world class death metal band. True hails to an amazing performance by one of the finest extreme acts to ever take the stage.

Finally the backdrop I’ve been staring at all night was embraced by the Pharaoh loving Nile. Since the last time I saw them, guitarist/vocalist Dallas Toler-Wade has shaved his head and Karl Sanders seems to have put on at least 50 lbs. Now that Don Decker of Anal Blast has passed away, Karl is a clear front runner for most rotund member of a death metal band. That aside, they performed well while playing many songs of all their albums and a few new tracks of Those Whom the Gods Detest. Drummer George Kollias (ex-Nightfall) particularly stood out with an outstandingly technical performance. His massive kit (I think I counted 7 toms) was put to full use a la Brandon Thomas or John Longstreth. Sanders’ considerable heft added extra bottom end to his thick backing vocals which came across very well. The incorporation of samples and Lovecraftian meets Egyptian effects from their laptop added to the dark atmosphere and enhanced their sound and stage presence. Overall they were excellent and did not disappoint.

The death was dealt well this evening, despite a few bumps in the road. Philly never lets me down, and tonight was no exception. The Trocadero was an amazing venue and I’ll jump at the chance to come back. Hmmm, is that a flyer for Voivod/Kreator/Nachtmystium I see…cheers!