Katatonia at Irving Plaza with Caspian and Uncured

Throughout April I was able to see roughly a show or two a week as the spring tours continued to crop up.  I know comparatively speaking this is a relatively small number for those that go to shows almost nightly.  My need to be reclusive will always outweigh attending that many events, however my desire for the month to wind down was not due to my human tolerance diminishing but due to the fact that Katatonia was on the horizon.  It was a show with a lineup that was hard not to look forward to, as they were supported by Caspian and Uncured.

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Uncured

New York City natives Uncured kicked the night off and to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect.  While I had never seen them live I’d heard several friends speak of them, citing a high level of musicianship, but almost to a masturbatory level — comments I completely forgot about until they started playing.  Which makes it sound as if I didn’t enjoy them, but I did.  They are incredibly talented and anyone that sees them play will immediately hear it.  Despite their seemingly young age, they carry themselves in a manner most bands would do well to take a lesson from.  Poised with confidence but not toppling into arrogance, these guys ripped through an incredibly energetic set (which made them even more fun to photograph) and left what appeared to be a lasting impression on the crowd.

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Caspian

Second to play was Caspian, and you could tell everyone was waiting with bated breath for them to begin.  They have a pretty devoted following and with the unbridled energy they bring, you can see why.  These guys leave everything on the stage and really give it their all each and every time.  Between songs guitarist Philip Jamieson addressed the crowd and, much to everyone’s dismay, announced they would not be returning to NYC for awhile.  As one who tries to remain optimistic, I hope this means they’ll be working on new material.  They treated the crowd to five songs, but I can safely say we could have easily listened to five more.

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Katatonia

Closing out the night, Sweden natives Katatonia treated us to their signature blend of melodic metal – two words I never thought could go together as well as they do when these guys are the ones executing it.  I’ve always avoided this type of music but there is something about their sound that really penetrates the often surface level vibe I usually get and grabs ahold of me.  Perhaps it’s due to lead singer Jonas Renske, who sings with black hair draped forward and a voice which comes off as teeming with emotion, impossible to ignore and even more difficult to dislike.  Though some in the crowd were practically begging for older material, Renske politely declined in a jovial manner after responding to a crowd member’s exclamation of love.  They treated the crowd to a beautiful set that was roughly an hour and a half and included “Dead Letters” and “Criminals.”  On top of this they performed a three song encore, much to everyone’s delight.  

Check out the photos below!

-Skc Photo-

Uncured

 

Caspian
Katatonia

The Decibel Tour with Kreator and Obituary

Decibel certainly seems to have a knack for creating great tour lineups, my personal favorite being Behemoth and Abbath last year. Their most recent tour, which featured Midnight, Horrendous, Obituary, and Kreator is no exception.  While my need to pay the bills prevented me from seeing Horrendous and Midnight, I was extremely grateful to have arrived just in time to see Obituary.  The Theatre of Living Arts was packed full of sweaty bodies on that Friday night and the air hung like a humid jungle.  My hair isn’t nearly as long as half of the headbangers’ present and even I wanted to immediately put it up and off my neck, it was brutal.

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Obituary

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Obituary, and they still have the same incredible energy that they have always had – something that,  in my opinion, you either have naturally or you don’t.  As one of my favorite bands to come out of Florida (along with Bloodlet), I am glad that Obituary still has fun on stage after paving the way for many death metal bands so many years ago.  There is nothing repetitive or stagnant, the energy is as raw and fresh as the enormous beast-like circle pit they inspire.  At one point a crowd surfing gent came rolling off the top of the crowd and into a perfectly timed high-five from John Tardy, which left him grinning from ear to ear as he ran back and was engulfed in the pit once again.  They played some new songs from their recent self-titled LP, such as “A Lesson in Vengeance,” as well as classic favorites “Find the Arise” and “Slowly We Rot.”  

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Kreator

German thrash metalists Kreator finished out the night.  In late January they gave us Gods of Violence, and the crowd heard “Satan is Real” and “World War Now” amongst others.  We also heard some of their older material, as I’m sure many people were anticipating, such as “Flag of Hate” and “Pleasure to Kill.”  King Fowley of Deceased also joined the band onstage to perform “Total Death.”  

While Kreator’s music is not my personal favorite since I don’t find it terribly unique or earth-shattering, I do enjoy how engaging singer/guitarist Mille Petrozza is with the crowd.  He really gets everyone involved, whether it be shouting to hear the back of the crowd or getting the biggest circle pit going that the crowd can muster.  If it’s not to his satisfaction, he makes everyone do it again.

Check out the photos below! (Click on the images to open gallery)

-Skc Photo-

Obituary
Kreator

On the Turntable – Primal Rite ‘Sensory Link to Pain’

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This year’s St. Patrick’s Day left us with a little pot of gold in the new Primal Rite EP Sensory to Pain. The three songs on the EP immediately establish who the band is, where they came from and why they deserve a listen. Musically, it’s rich with 90s inspiration from the metal, punk and hardcore genres. Their sound encompasses so many sub-genres, even – I don’t expect they will ever be hurting for fans. The EP is a quick listen, they shred while knowing how to get in and grab your attention, but keep the songs long enough to sustain your interest. However, what really makes Primal Rite stand out from their predecessors are the vocals.

The vocals are guttural, tough and blissfully brutal. They’re also muddy, something I could imagine being a bit distracting to some listeners, but I am from the swamp so I dug it.  I will likely always have a hardcore kid inside me who hears a breakdown and a guttural vocal and wants to stand up and pound my chest, feeling like I am the most brutal of them all. This EP made me want to do exactly that, in an ideal world there would be more vocalists like Lucy just killing it and plowing past gender norms, inviting an accepting, open scene.

Primal Rite’s lyrics are truly an expression of real life and offer perspective, and because of this the power of the vocal track creates a feeling of unity, which in my opinion is the single purpose of any heavy genre. It’s unafraid to stare what’s ugly in the world in the face and say, we see you and we stand together.

Recommended Track: Primal Discipline

Grab the EP from Revelation Records here.

-Pygopagus-

On the Turntable – Crypt Rot ‘Embryonic Devils’

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About five months ago, I went to the Soundcloud page for Southern Lord Records to hear an early-release track from Crypt Rot.  I proceeded to listen to “Chapters of Torment” just about every day for the next couple weeks.  Shortly after, I learned they were playing at The Power of the Riff this past December in LA.  I was already scheduled to shoot the fest so I was excited to see these newcomers live.

As I said in my corresponding Power of the Riff piece, their set was the best way to open a festival, hands down.  To be honest, I was super bummed that more people didn’t get to see them.  Being the first band on the first day of a bill is tough, and doing so while being relatively new is even more tough.  Those of you that missed them really missed something special, but you can do yourselves a favor and catch their tour this coming summer.

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Crypt Rot at The Power of the Riff 2016

We’re finally coming up on the release of their debut album Embryonic Devils, and I was afforded the chance to hear it in full.  I have to say, from the opening track with the almost campy haunted house sound effects (squeaking door) to the closing track “Internal Organ Feast,” I was completely engrossed, and ended up listening to it three times on my way home without batting an eye.  In addition, the members of the band have names such as “Father Flesh” and “The Executioner,” so you should have a good idea of what you are getting into.  

The opening track, “Chapters of Torment,” which after five months I am very familiar with, rolls right into what has become my favorite track on the album.  I plan on catching these guys when they hit NYC in May and I have to say that if “Scaphist Waste” doesn’t inspire a pretty fierce pit, then in my opinion no song can.  It’s raw, fast, and just damn good, with Father Flesh’s vocals tearing through the song and super heavy riffs breaking things up and getting the head banging.

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Even when CR slow things down a little with “Pit of Morbidity” it doesn’t feel out of place.  If anything, I think it gives the band even more dynamic and proof of talent.  The addition of the vocals by Rotten Mistress is what takes this song from great to incredible.  She has the perfect voice to compliment the male vocals – both haunting and achingly beautiful.

There really isn’t a moment in this album when I think to myself, man, I’m kind of getting bored, or I wish this song had this or the album had that.  For a debut album, this is a solid starting point and I look forward to seeing where this crew from Ohio goes next.

Grab your copy through Southern Lord here

-Skc Photo-

Oathbreaker at The Studio at Webster Hall

Now that spring is beginning to thaw the ground here in NYC, it seems like tours are popping up as quickly as the daffodils.  One such tour we have watched snake across the states is Oathbreaker and Jaye Jayle.  We were finally able to catch them as the tour wound down and stopped at The Studio at Webster Hall on April 8th, joined by Brooklyn natives Sannhet.

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Jaye Jayle

Jay Jayle kicked the night off with their On the Road-esque bluesy blend of rock.  Cloaked in amber lighting on a stage that left little room for movement, you can really hear the southern roots so deeply threaded in their music.  I’ve always felt their music would be the perfect soundtrack to a gritty, adventure-filled and nicotine-saturated movie – indie of course, not the mainstream variety.  It’s a sound that reminds me of small towns and late nights spent on the porch with an acoustic guitar and moths fluttering around the light, especially when they were joined by Emma Ruth Rundle.

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Sannhet

Sannhet was second on the roster bringing their experimental metal from the borough next door.  Paired with their custom light projections, it only took about two songs before I felt like I was in an instrumental trance and gave my camera a break so I could just absorb their sound.  Although I am not overly fond of harsh strobing lights, the moments where the band was just wrapped in their light projection and flitting in and out of shadows made the change in tempo and the use of the strobes make more sense.  It’s an interesting juxtaposition of light to sound.

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Oathbreaker

 

Closing out the night was Oathbreaker, on their second-to-last tour date before I would assume they will return to their native Belgium.  In lighting akin to the type of dark blue you expect when nearing the bottom of the ocean, they took to the stage.  Singer Caro, whose fluttering draped garments give her a somewhat blurred and watery appearance began to softly sing to the crowd.  As anyone who is familiar with Oathbreaker knows, the moments of peace and tranquility her singing brings are short-lived as she and the band suddenly shatter the calm and tear right through the crowd who wait with arms open.  It’s a strangely beautiful balance.
Check out the photos below!

-Skc Photo-

 

Jaye Jayle
Sannhet
Oathbreaker

On the Turntable – King Woman ‘Created In The Image of Suffering’

I think one of the best things about being part of the SGM fam is the freedom that we have, since we answer to no one but ourselves.  We are a group of women from all walks of life who join here to try to create something new and different, if such a thing is still possible.  We don’t allow advertising on our site, so we can post about anything, in any form, and that is something I genuinely cherish.  So in that stead, we thought it would be interesting to offer a couple of simultaneous posts.  Below you’ll find two reviews of the new King Woman album Created In The Image of Suffering.  I have teamed up with Pygopagus to offer our thoughts on this album, and we decided to showcase how far-ranging our opinions on it were, sort of a dueling pianos review. Check it out!

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Thalia Gore’s Review

It seems like every time I hear about a band lately, they are from the Bay Area.  I have yet to check out the scene, but I’ve definitely been meaning to stop by to check out some shows and see what the vibe is like over there.  The most recent SF band to come up on my radar is King Woman, as they have just released Created In The Image of Suffering on Relapse Records.  

I was excited to check out this album as soon as I heard of it’s impending release and the corresponding video for “Deny.”  This marks the debut full-length album from Kristina Esfandiari and the album is laced with her own personal demons lingering in the dark, hazy sound this trio creates.  

The album starts off with “Citious” the digital-only track that was an album bonus.  This track runs roughly one minute and slowly eases you into King Woman’s sound.  As the second track, “Utopia,” unfolds, you are suddenly wrapped in a gauzy and distorted doom womb.   

I like the fact that Esfandiari’s vocals are even with the music, not above it nor far below, creating a seamlessly woven balance. I really appreciate how haunting she can sound between the distortion and echoes.  Like she’s caught somewhere in the afterlife and is kind of okay with being there.

Sadly the album starts to lose me at “Hierophant,” at which point things start to feel too repetitive.  A chorus is sung one too many times or a riff harped on a little too often.  I think they have great potential and a genuinely unique sound, but I think come their next album they should delve a little deeper into the editing process.  Overall I think this is a great debut and I will be interested to see how their sound matures.

 

Pygopagus’s Review 

King Woman unveils their debut full-length album, Created In The Image of Suffering, and I hand the veil back. The first track, “Citios”, the digital only bonus track slaps you in the face with its cringe-worthy vibe of an angst riddled teen, with nothing to complain about, who just discovered how to make something “artistic” in Garageband. It didn’t feel like a bonus it’s more of warning for the quality of the rest of the album.

You often see the adjectives, “breathy, hypnotic and ethereal” thrown around when referencing female vocals with a similar, super on-trend vocal style. This album strikes me as a high school band trying their best to emulate Chelsea Wolfe for a Battle of the Bands in the high school gym. It’s contrived, from their look, the album name, the sound –  it’s all a little too on the nose to work or feel authentic. The vocals sound lifeless and without the effects and layering wouldn’t be record-worthy. The music itself is slow, repetitive and hugely uninspiring. I was particularly frustrated with the mixing of the record in relation to the snare drum. It’s so sharp that it’s jarring compared to the rest of the heavily sedated sounds.

As I listened through each track, hoping that I was nearing an amazing moment that would change things around, I got more anxious and frustrated by how unpolished the album is. The lyrical content, vocals and instrumentation is uncomfortably elementary. The hip thing that I would expect them to do is take all of their weaknesses and try to spin them into an intentional sound, but it’s not even possible, it’s just a fact that it is unpolished.

Debuting an album is a huge deal, and the work required to achieve it should be applauded. The courage to put yourself out there as an artist is fucking terrifying and in a sense I hate that I am that person who’s shitting all over it. But the reality is the only thing I like about King Woman is their name. This is an over-saturated market, and one that is blossoming with tremendous talent that transports you to a different place. In order to break into the scene and leave a mark they have to discover and embrace their own unique sound, because there is nothing unique about this album.

Least favorite track “Worn.” Say ‘break the bread’ one more time and see what happens.

Grab your copy from Relapse Records on CD or vinyl.

Sunn O))) at Union Transfer – Submerged in Drone

If you’ve ever been to a Sunn O))) show, you know that the environment overall can feel a bit like being submerged – sinking down to the bottom of a body of water, the pressure building up in your ears and on your body.  It’s beautiful, other-worldly, and about as heavy as you can get.  That’s what I felt as I experienced them for two nights in a row at The Knockdown Center in New York and then at Union Transfer in Philly.  I must be a glutton for their sound, since I signed up for the exact same double-drone when I saw them in Florida about a year ago.  I think you’d be hard-pressed to hear, see, and feel an experience such as this and even for people that may not find this to be their cup of tea, I still would say suck it up and go experience it, it’s transcendental.

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Big Brave

Sunn embarked on this tour once again with support from Big Brave, who hail from Montreal.  I’ve tried numerous times over the last year to describe the sound of Big Brave and words always seem to fail me.  I end up mumbling out thoughts and adjectives and then disagreeing with myself, and wind up saying “just listen to them.”  Between the heavy, almost tribal drums provided by Louis-Alexandre Beauregard, punctuated by distant yet commanding vocals from Robin Wattie, this trio really has a sound that is completely their own and impossible to ignore.  My respect for them has grown each time I’ve seen them live. I also love how self-effacing and grateful they seem towards their fans and towards the members of Sunn O))) – it just seems like they take none of it for granted.

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Big Brave

After Big Brave’s set at Knockdown, a brief transitional period and an intermission long enough to allow the room to fill with fog, a singular figure could vaguely be seen shuffling across the stage to take his place at the microphone waiting in the center.  It was there, alone in a sea of fog that Attila began singing.  In the stillness that ensued, no one seemed to notice the rest of the band taking the stage, until the lights lifted ever so slightly and more shadows began to emerge.  Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson then joined in with their heavily distorted and reverberating guitars which I immediately felt all the way to my marrow.  

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Sunn O)))

The next hour plus was a meditative blur, and I found myself torn between taking pictures and just closing my eyes and letting the waves wash over me.   Also the realization that if it were me on stage, I would constantly trip on my cloak, eat shit, and embarrass everyone in the band.  While I may have cat-like reflexes by day, by fog I am a shuffling nightmare of tragedy who will most likely take anyone nearby down with me.  

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Sunn O)))

Somehow these cloaked figures have learned the navigational skills that will probably elude me forever, and seamlessly disappeared and re-emerged in the foggy shadows as various combinations of members held the stage.  As the fog began to dissipate slightly, with a gentle nudge from Anderson, Attila disappeared to prepare for the final act – one I can’t help but stand in awe of every time I experience it.  If you have seen the mirrored cloak and spiked crown, perhaps you understand where I’m coming from and can identify.  It’s basically a work of performance art and I try to photograph it as such, waiting for just the right movement of Attila’s laser-clad hand or the moment when everyone on stage has their hands and instruments stretched to the sky.   

Check out the images below! (Click on the image to open gallery)

Big Brave

 

Sunn O)))