Monday, May 19, 2014

Concert Review: Pig Destroyer / Weekend Nachos / Plague Bringer / The Lion's Daughter @ Reggie's Rock Club - 05.17.14

The Lion's Daughter:
Opening band The Lion's Daughter is a sonically impressive St. Louis group whose sound staggers somewhere between the dense, straightforward, neanderthalic anger of Early Graves and the black metal framed extreme accessibility of Deafheaven. I was actually pretty impressed with their set, more so obviously not having any preconceived notion or expectations. Bottom heavy Converge-like hardcore riffs de-evolve into anvil-dragging sludge doom, the whole thing stitched together with bursts of dissonant black metal riffing and percussion.  I don't know that much more about these gents, whether they're signed or unsigned or whathaveyou, but I know that their live sound was big and very professional, and also that it was well received given the rest of the more grind-pure bands on the bill. Kudos.
Plague Bringer:
The second act of the evening was Chicago-local Plague Bringer, an industrial/grind band established in 2002 that consists of one lead vocalist, two guitarists, and a drum machine that stands monolithically centered in the foreground like an ominous Mother Brain to it's prominent drones. Once my ears adjusted to the sharp guitar sound driven by the high-treble digital beats behind it (a severe contrast to the low-tone heavy Lion's Daughter before them) I thought to liken them to a much more conservative The Locust. While I admit to never hearing anything they've done in an album format, I'd say that the cuts they served up live on this fine evening painted very much between the lines of most other grind bands that function with a flesh and blood organism behind the kit. In other words there were no 10,000 beats per minute berserker-blasts that would best utilize the advantageousness of a machine helping you to do things with your music that you couldn't do with an aforementioned humanoid pummeling the skins, thus maybe allowing you to paint a bit outside the lines and offer something maybe a bit more edgy - kind of like The Locust! But again, I only experienced a very small amount of Plague Bringer, maybe a bit less than half of their library based on their two album discography, so what do I know really? I'll say god bless to anyone that perseveres in the sound they do for as long as they have and continue to enjoy doing it knowing there will be little to no fame, recognition, or monetary reward to their blood, sweat and tears. And while one member of the band seemed genuinely and refreshingly appreciative and really positive about being there in his between song ramblings and thank you's, I could have done without the lead singer telling the crowd to stop standing around like a bunch of "old ladies". Not that I'm pretentious or offended by any of that kind of shit, because hey - you're a front man I get it - you want to elicit the response in others that the music does in your head, but the crowd will move if your music moves them, plain and simple. It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine I suppose. You want ape shit? Play a show whose headliner has a smaller fan base or start writing different shit. But I hope you get there Plague Bringer for those haven't gotten it yet.
A moment of gratuitous bitching:
By this time in the evening I was beginning to ponder a whole bunch of shit. Am I getting too old for these kinds of shows? Did I want to stay on the floor front and center where I was or not? Is that dude over there really a chick? Is the guy in the electric wheelchair ten feet away from me next to the stage going to be okay when Weekend Nachos starts their set? Most of all, I was thinking about how emotionally and physically draining it is to sit through three opening sets of heavy doom and grind, and how difficult it is not to let it take away from the catharsis that should be in the adrenaline rush of when that headlining act that you came to see blasts into their first song. I get the idea of opening bands, everyone needs that exposure - that chance to play - that chance to allow people who have never heard their music before maybe get a chance in it's truest form - the live setting. But at this point I kind of wished it wouldn't be a whole bunch of more of the same at these shows. Give me some weird fucked up experimental noise bullshit, or a real somber drone thing going on, like the slowest parts of Earth or something. Because three heavy ass doom and grind band sets with grindcore and thrash played in between over the speakers during take down and set up really dulled my senses to what this kind of music is supposed to do in the short controlled burst of time it's supposed to do it. Maybe me and my vagina should have just come a bit later in the evening right? I just think there are a lot of people out there who miss the point, or maybe just don't get out of what this music can give by saturating themselves with it. I guess if everybody in the room thinks you're the asshole except for you it kind of makes you wonder. Or were there others? Never-the-less, despite all of that, getting lost in my own contemplations amongst the growing pungency of the Pig Destroyer signature beer 'Permanent Funeral' and the collective moistness of the crowd surrounding me, when Weekend Nachos hit the stage it all went away and I began to have fun.
Weekend Nachos:
Weekend Nachos took to the stage like a breath of fresh air through the carnage of a battlefield. Their energy, and more importantly, the vibe that they themselves seemed just as happy to be there as every flailing body in the pit pumped life back into my shitty and pretentious self. With an almost sardonic grin seemingly tattooed on his face, lead singer John Hoffman playfully stomped, bounded and jumped to the band's bass-heavy brand of sludge and hardcore between whole-body locked muscle spasms of spitting vocals during freight-train heavy blasts of grind. They were a blast.
Pig Destroyer:
Just before the headlining set a short 10 minute independent film based on the soliloquized ravings of a love-lorned man gone bent originally penned in the inlet of the Prowler In The Yard album by Pig Destroyer vocalist J.R. Hayes was premiered. It was a well done film and definitely a cool little addition to the evening, but like any movie you've seen that was inferior to the book, you tend to want to forget it after you've seen it, because the version in your own deranged little head is always better. When the flick ended Pig Destroyer took the stage. The impact of their presence was unfortunately slightly diminished by some brief audio hiccups during their first two tracks "Scarlett Hourglass" and "Thumbsucker" by a severely dialed down guitar tone. By the time they got to "Sheet Metal Girl" everything sounded just the way it was supposed to - better in fact with the addition of their new bassist to add to the bottom end. Between songs a visibly frustrated and pained Hayes confessed to the crowd that he had blown his voice out the night before, but it only added to the palpable strain each one of the songs spat forth, making each shriek, yell and bark make Hayes look like a rabid dog trying to barf up it's own lungs. Songs of three or four were bundled into quick buckshots between eerie audio interludes, mostly lifted from the interludes present on the albums themselves - allowing the band (and the crowd) a much needed opportunity to catch their breath as well as multiple build- ups-to-smash-downs through out the show. A live grind multiple orgasm if you will. Pig Destroyer covered the gamut in their onstage onslaught, pulling primarily from their last four releases. 'Cheerleader Corpses', 'Trojan Whore', 'Piss Angel', 'Terrifyer', 'Pretty In Casts', 'Rotten Yellow', 'Heathen Temple', 'Sis', 'The American's Head', 'Baltimore Strangler', 'Eve', and 'The Bug' all made their appearances and then some. The crowd went noticeably bananas for 'Hyper Violet' and 'Starbelly'. 'The Diplomat' was the one song encore - and the inhabitants of Reggie's  reacted appropriately as though this was going to be the one last big hoo rah for a very long time, after all it's been a good eight years since the last time Pig Destroyer rolled through the Midwest, who knows when the next time will be. I can knock this one off of my bucketlist. While I would have loved to hear some reworked cuts off of  '38 Counts of Battery' with a bassist, and definitely would have maybe shat myself a bit to 'Octagonal Stairway', the night was no less satisfying in their absence. Kudos to Hayes for soldiering through ripped chords, and the rest of the members for taking the time away from their real jobs and families to make their way out this far and giving us all a good dose of it. See you in 2022.

p.s.: The dude in the wheelchair survived just fine.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Album Review: Wormrot - Noise

I tried and I tried and I tried but I just never saw the potential greatness for Wormrot that a lot of other genre aficionado's were spouting when the band released there mid-level label debut 'Abuse'. I take that back - I felt the potential, but I didn't feel that album, or the one that followed it. For me it meandered a bit too much in the traditionalism of late-80's grindcore and lacked a certain unpredictability and off-the-wall intensity to it, and from what I have found in parallel worlds on the internet I'm the only one that felt that way (though admit to thoroughly enjoying the track 'Fuck...I'm Drunk). I think a lot of that had to do with the potential that I felt there. This band was sonically threatening, it was a perfectly designed killing machine, with all it's parts in the right place and a clip full of deadly ammunition locked and loaded, it was just aimed in the wrong direction and being used as a coat rack on a parade float locked away in a garage someone had forgotten about. In all honesty I probably wouldn't have given this new material a listen had it been a full album, but I thought I'd give the corpse one last forced breath....I'm sure glad I did.
Opener 'Loathsome Delusions' violently evolves from a single line of feedback into a bottom heavy hardcore stand-on-two-legs Weekend Nacho-esque chest thumper and then quickly into a frenzied tear-yourself-apart grindcore berserker attack before it all locks into itself and gallops off and through the drywall. It's like watching Cronenberg's 'The Fly' at warp speed. And before you collect your brain cells back together from the jarring they've just surprisingly endured and have a chance to soliloquy "what the fuck?!"  'False Assumptions' comes careening off the tracks, pummels you into the floor and rolls you into ground beef with industrial sized freight train cars in the form of blast beats. 'Outburst Of Annoyance' stands out in the middle of this EP with it's striding rhythms that finally break free from the rest of the album's sonic agoraphobia and violently dances in a perception of vast openness, feeling the rays of natural overcast light and breathing real air all too briefly before being snapped back into the gears of the complex teeth machine that is devouring everything in it's path. 'Breed To Breed' 's stop and go grind finds it's groove a third of the way through it's track and morphs into a trademark Nasum kill-bonanza, and 'Perpetual Extinction' is a schizophrenic aural assault that compresses several sub-styles of the genre into a final Death Blossum attack before the barrage of crazy-fists in the beginning of the album closer 'Many Funerals' churns into an almost valiant stride of desperation that fades out at the end. The production is top-notch, dare I say that it's perfect for the sound it's suiting. Low fist-to-brick bass drums and tight snares pepper distorted guttural bass lines and multiple vocal styles that morph more times than John Carpenter's The Thing on PCP (is there an underlying Sci-fi thing happening here?). It's essentially the same sound Wormrot have always had but finally put against a worthy opponent. Force this down my gullet with no label and I'd have never guessed it was them, but I'm sooooo glad to hear them do it, and soooo glad to experience potential met. Adding to the awesomeness is the short EP format which allows this batch o' tracks to do exactly what it - and it's entire genre - is meant to do and that's cattle-prod itself into your skull and scramble your brains, leaving you face down on the slaughterhouse floor catatonic and saturated with your own piss before you ever even knew where you were. To me, personally - I'll go out on a limb and say that these five tracks in this short format is damn near my idea of Grindcore perfection. I don't know, it just hit me that way - blame a recent lack of impressive new sounds in my catalogue or a vulnerability to the audio chaos from a long winter of listening to drone music - I'm just glad it's sites have been readjusted and it's out of the garage. I'm drained yet longing for more pummeling. A +++.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Album Review: Blood I Bleed - Split w/ Lycanthropy

Spoiler alert, I really dig Blood I Bleed - I mean not to the point where I'm hunting down information on the internet about their whereabouts between albums or desperately trying to compile a fund to get them overseas to play live, but more of an elevated heart rate/mini-boner kind of thing when I find out they have new material out. I don't know why - I mean I know what it's going to sound like, I don't necessarily need new songs to get my fix of their style, but I think I just really dig their approach to things. It's that high tone, high screech, high treble kind of grind that honestly feels more like the latest evolutionary form of punk music to me than what is passing for it in the mainstream. And dig the low, grindy bass my friends, it's the only thing that keeps this little berserker from pitch-tearing your eardrums into bicycle streamers. Light on the production and scrappy feeling, it's more the vibe of being skeletonized in seconds by a thousand little piranha than the thick and layered over-produced mainline heavy pummeling of fast pneumatic machines that similar genre bands with a bit more of a budget end up sounding like.
The 11 songs in under 10 minute set on this split with Lycanthropy are vicious and approachable, the trade of shriek to foaming bark aesthetic liken this batch of tracks to a gang of rabid badgers chained to a bike rack in Times Square. From the back and forth bag of wolverines-snarling on 'Octane Twisted' and 'Closer To His Grace', to the slow down and bounce of 'Bound Loose' - the songs are fast and grindy but sheened beneath the driving rhythm of powerviolence and injected with just enough skater-punk sounding playfulness to really give the music room to not only breathe, but also swing, spit and kick. There is an overabundance of musicians in extreme music who have spent so many years studying and honing in on their musical abilities that they try to lay their talents down in the studio only to have the end result sound feigned and off-the-mark in it's emotive catharsis because they never focused on the human side of the art, which is flaw and instinctiveness. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there are too many musicians trying to be angry and not enough angry people trying to make music - Blood I Bleed sounds like the latter. As though it would be easier to drive to the pawn shop and get a new guitar than to figure out how to change that broken fucking string, and god bless 'em for it. It hits the mark just right that I still haven't listened Lycanthrope's half of the split, but I'll get to it gents.