My night began at The Draft Barn in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. This is one of many European style ale houses that have cropped up in the city as of late, and is clearly in the top tier. They have over 300 beers in bottle in addition to 30+ on draft, focusing on Belgian, German and eastern European brews. The food offerings include lots of sausages, schnitzel, and other Hungarian, Polish, and Romanian items in addition to standard American pub fare. I decided to go with a pint of Mother's Milk Stout while I reviewed the menu. It came down to either the gypsy steak or the pork special, and the bartender convinced me to go with the latter. Fortunately, it was a good choice. My plate was piled high with a giant slab of roasted pork on top of a fried potato pancake. This was topped with a generous heap of sauteed onions, mushrooms and pickles. Needless to say, the milk stout complimented the artery clogging dish quite well. Toward the end of my meal my friend Brian showed up and I ordered another pint. This time it was Captain Lawrence's Imperial IPA. My high hopes for this brew were dashed due to over the top citrus flavors and an overall lack of balance. I wanted more hop bite, but this was a floral hop, not an acorn hop. Tasting notes aside, it didn't stop me from finishing my pint while Brian wolfed down his chicken special (same as the pork special but with chicken). While eating it he exclaimed, "do you realize how unhealthy this is?" Yes, he cleaned his plate. Tummy's full and two rounds of beer in, we made our way over to the venue.
This was my first trip to The Bell House. The main venue area has super high ceilings with wood beams and chandeliers. This gives the place a sort of made to look old feel, but not in a bad way. Local favorites Krallice were up first. A few weeks prior I had the pleasure of seeing them perform at the House of Vans with Converge and Touche Amore. Despite a strong performance, they seemed out of place with the other bands on that lineup and the hardcore kids didn't seem to take to them very much (as would be expected). The sound in that huge venue is kind of washed out too, so that didn't help their intricate and challenging tunes. Tonight was a different story though. They were clearly in their element with the WitTR/Thou crowd, and the acoustics in the much smaller venue greatly enhanced the band's sound. They were captivating, focused and powerful as always. This band is not to be missed and very well might be NYC's best metal band at the moment. It would be nice to see Mick Barr's blackened moan mixed in with Nick McMaster's confident death growl more effectively. They tend to use either one or the other in each song. In the live setting, some of their most powerful elements are the dynamic changes. Nick's bass work tend's to follow it's own capricious path while the busy guitar work Barr/Marston compliment each other. Unfortunately, I have yet to purchase their new album, Diotma, but it is next on my list. Gilead Media recently pressed it on a sweet 2X12" 180 gram black vinyl. These guys are on the edge of becoming huge, and they should consider doing lengthy North American and European tours to take their act to the next level.
Sludge monsters Thou were up next. After heading to the merch area after Krallice, I ran into the drummer from Tombs, Andrew. We chatted for a while and discussed their recent European tour, which went over very well. I'm happy to hear that Tombs is getting the attention they deserve. As a long time fan of the band (and their previous bands, Anodyne and ASRA) it's great to see them become a success. Definitely check them out live and prepare to be crushed by the hammer of blackened punk! We caught the last half of Thou's set. These dudes are so prolific that it's hard to keep up. Some of their tracks were really aweseome (punishing groove fest) but it's not a good sign when the best one is a cover of Black Sabbath. The vocalist needs to change up his approach too since his blackened rasp gets monotonous over time. The crowd was totally into it though.
My final brew of the night was a pint of Six Point's Sweet Action. It was a very easy drinking bock and definitely a session beer; a perfect compliment for a night of metal. The headliners were now up. Prepare oneself to bathe in the glow of Cascadian glory emanating from Wolves in the Throne Room! Was there glory? Eh, not really. The only thing I bathed in was the pungent stench of patchouli oil, body odor and incense. It was as if a crusty, dread locked jam band played black metal. Don't get me wrong, I love Diadem of 12 Stars, though Two Hunters didn't do much for me. With their epic, majestic, melodic and lengthy tunes, I should have known that watching them perform would become an endurance test. Maybe if there were couches or chairs it would have been more enjoyable, but then i would have to fight back the urge to fall asleep. Krallice's tunes are of similar length, but they hold my interest the entire time.
Who would have thunk it, but locals Krallice stole the show! Despite this, do yourself a favor and support the WitTR/Thou tour if it hits your area. Be sure to have a cup of a strong cup of coffee while experiencing WitTR though...