Mayhem at The Theatre of Living Arts – A Dark Ritual

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, being neighbors with Philadelphia is rad.  Show in NYC sold out or on a date you can’t make it?  Go to Philly.  Of course, this kind of requires a car, and being a girl from a small town where my car equals freedom and escape, I refuse to part with mine.  So roughly a week ago, after a quick trip down 95 I found myself waiting for Black Anvil to take the stage at The Theatre of Living Arts, the smell of incense beginning to waft through the air.

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Black Anvil

I must say, I really enjoyed the variety of black metal that was on this bill.  I think balancing an all black metal show can be tricky but this was definitely a neapolitan-esque  offering.  Black Anvil kicked things off, and I for one felt completely blown away by their performance.  Their live performance has so much more depth to it than comes through on their new record.  While the music itself is not one of my top choices, I still got so much more of a feel for their style that night than I had by listening to the  album.  If anyone is on the fence about their new work, I highly recommend seeing them live.  That can be said for a lot of bands, but for me it was really a night-and-day difference.

Inquisition was next to play, and even aside from my fondness for corpse paint and theatrics as I’ve previously mentioned, I really appreciated how just two band members were able to make use of so much stage space and keep the audience interested.  Guitarist Dragon paced back and forth across the stage like a feral animal caught in a cage created by their large on-stage banners.  He has a reverberating voice with an otherworldly sound, and I’m not sure if it’s a natural quality or processed somehow but it kept my attention.  Combine that with Incubus’s ferocious drumming and you have a Molotov cocktail of sound in your face.  

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Inquisition

 

Closing the night out was Mayhem performing De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and the crowd pulsed with anticipation as the altar was set up by stagehands, prepared to be haunted by none other than Attila.  The band took to a darkened and fog-laden stage and began playing so suddenly it took me a few seconds of standing in awe of these cloaked creatures to snap out it and get my camera up and firing.  

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Mayhem

Those of you reading this may not know me all that personally, so perhaps when I tell you I got goosebumps when Attila came on stage you’ll think I’m blowing smoke up your dress.  I admit to  being an excitable person, but aside from that I really respect and respond to  musicians that have such an unwavering presence onstage.  Later, discussing the show, a dear friend of mine said  “his performance style seems like a masterclass in black metal; but everyone is better off seeing him perform rather than trying to imitate.”  He summed everything up that I had been thinking but could not form into a sentence, and to me this stands true no matter which band you see him perform with.

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Mayhem

Of course, as always, my main goal is to attempt to capture the most evocative moments visually.  From his enthralling dance with the candles in front of him, either curling his hands gently around the flames as if they are old friends or lovers or gnashing his teeth and lapping at them, to the moments he reaches from the darkness, clawing at the air and extending a hand to the heavens, perhaps knowing it’s somewhere he doesn’t belong.  Some moments I cannot capture – like the maniacal laughter you hear as Attila bounds across the stage and into the shadows, only to reappear looming over the shoulder of bassist Necrobutcher. – but if you have seen Mayhem, perhaps you have witnessed them.

Check out all of the images below! Click on the image to open the gallery.

-Skc Photo-

Black Anvil

 

Inquisition

 

Mayhem

Metal Blade’s 35th Anniversary Show at Belasco Theater – Los Angeles, CA

My brother and I went to the Metal Blade Records 35th anniversary show this past week. Between the performances and the crowd, it was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. The most unique part of the night began when I noticed The Pit, that swirling beast made of heads and arms common to any metal show – what made this one surprising was the overwhelming female presence, half of the crowd at least. They were tough, blissfully in their element, and owning it.

I was entranced. I followed them outside for a smoke break and introduced myself. I asked to take their portraits, and they were all so down and so nice! One of them was so excited she dropped her beer. I bought her another one, and we talked about music and beer and how it sucks when no one tells you you have lipstick on your teeth. The whole experience made me remember when I was a lot younger and would let all of my aggression out at shows like this. There weren’t a lot of girls in my local scene back then, so seeing these ladies effortlessly breaking gender barriers was inspiring. No one questioned it because they we were all the same: metalheads having a blast seeing some of the best bands on earth. I gleaned enough POWER from the whole experience to last me a while. All of this to say, I bow in my heart to these babes forever! Power house to the max.

-Jessica Nicole Collins

On the Turntable – Power Trip ‘Nightmare Logic’

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Power Trip is a band I wasn’t familiar with prior to hearing their second album Nightmare Logic, which will be released February 24th through Southern Lord.  I was instantly welcomed into the album with a wall of delicious distortion followed by what felt like stumbling into a wormhole that took me straight to an excitement and energy right out of none other than Metallica’s first studio record Kill ‘Em All.

The songs are short, exciting blasts of energy and aggression. This is a common format in this type of album, but often such short songs feel unpolished, rough or too meandering, like unfinished ideas. Power Trip’s great skill is their editing of their own work, which results in a gorgeous mix of classic metal, thrash and punk. As an added bonus, there are so many glorious guitar screams, the kind that I long for but can usually only find in fantasy metal!

Each band member is incredibly talented, and together they have created a much-needed throwback sound with a modern twist – it doesn’t seem like they are just cloning a sound that works. I am most impressed with the energy sustained throughout the album, it is consistent and combative and even more so it sounds like the makings of an incredible live show.

In my opinion, lyrics are something that many metal fans are too forgiving of, by implicitly not expecting much more than vague threats of violence and male chest pounding/dragon slaying/etc – but Nightmare Logic is not only refreshing in its sound, but also lyrically. The band provides us with anthem after anthem inspiring us to fight back against oppression. This genre is not normally my thing, but I cannot tell you how jazzed I am to have an album that serves as a great collection of songs with a purpose that couldn’t be more relevant!

Recommended Songs: The entire album from beginning to end

Grab your copy of Nightmare Logic on Southern Lord here.

Photo by Skc Photo

-Pygopagus-

Sumac, YOB, & Neurosis at Neumos

The nice thing about living in New York City, for SGM’s purposes, is that we tend to get a lot of shows passing through.  One could argue that the tradeoff is, say, Chinatown in the dead of summer and the stench of fish and garbage, large rodents and indestructible insects, and subway cars ripe with all sorts of heavy air and unpleasant odors.  But let’s not think about summer in the city just yet.

There are also times, however, when a band or bands do a short run of dates in other parts of the country and the tour looks so tempting that you find yourself on travel websites at odd hours of the night looking for flights to places like Seattle, Washington so you can see the trifecta of Sumac, YOB, and Neurosis at Neumos.  

Is this scenario hypothetical?  In this case no, that is exactly what I did.  My only regret being that I inadvertently stumbled upon that gross gum wall while I was wandering around Seattle.  Note to self, enticing stairs descending to pretty cobblestone streets don’t always result in mysterious Diagon-like alleys.  Sometimes they lead to a lot of people, mostly tourists, chewing gum, blowing bubbles and taking selfies while you awkwardly twitch in revulsion and try to push through while inexplicably holding your breath for no reason.

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Sumac

 

So yeah, Sumac, YOB, and Neurosis at Neumos.  It was really something I wanted to experience, especially having heard so much about Neumos as a killer venue.  Sumac played first and compared to when I saw them at Saint Vitus, I felt like the energy at this show and for this particular set was on another level.  Maybe Seattle feels like home and the vibe is different, but it was palpable.  I always like watching the dynamic between bandmates and seeing these guys joking like brothers onstage and playing such intensely dynamic music together was really endearing.  The entire set had a very climactic feel to it, and when they struck their last chord it was like being snapped back to reality after a deep meditation.  Even the gentleman next to me couldn’t help but smile, look over at me and say “Man, that was transcendental!”  I could not have agreed more.

Up next was YOB, beautiful YOB.  One of the most zen metal bands ever to exist.  It’s so clear they love what they do and they love being on stage sharing their music with all of us.  Bathed in a warm kaleidoscope of light, guitarist Mike Scheidt removes you from the venue and the crowd and brings you into a rhythmic trance with him.  The unique mixture of worldly sounds, sludgy doom, and distorted vocals all creates the ethereal experience known as YOB.  It’s a feeling few bands are able to accomplish so sincerely.

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YOB

Last but certainly not least, as we all know, was Neurosis.  I’m still kind of amazed at what a difference the venue made.  I’d never been fortunate enough to see Neurosis in a venue this size and it was really refreshing.  I could tell the crowd felt very connected to the band and hopefully the band felt the same.  A low stage also meant they were basically standing right in front of me, so close it was almost difficult to shoot at some points, which I found comical.  As I’ve  come to expect from Neurosis, their set was well crafted, with a natural ebb and flow.  Their recent anniversary show in San Francisco is still in the forefront of my mind as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, but this show was a close second.

Check out the photo below!

-Skc Photo-

Sumac

 

YOB

 

Neurosis

On the Turntable – Trevor Shelley de Brauw ‘Uptown’

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When I first gave Trevor Shelley de Brauw’s new album Uptown a listen I was writing a letter to someone, trying to decide whether to lie to explain away my bad behavior or tell the truth and own up to my failings as a friend. The music lulled me into this dark battle of my personal code of ethics vs. my urge to simplify life with a tiny lie. Instead, the music led me to acknowledge my actions and feel a whole lot of feelings about the ordeal. Trevor’s got a gift, in that he created a very powerful soundscape that perfectly served as the soundtrack to my personal dilemma that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Trevor, who’s most recognized for his work as a guitarist in Pelican, created a small but valuable piece of art with this album. I had a brief moment of being unimpressed with the simplicity of the songs and overall length of the album, but I dismissed those thoughts instantly when I realized how much these droning impressionistic sounds were making me feel. I was caught off guard when I saw one track titled, “Turn Up For What.”  I was eagerly awaiting that track so I could figure out what was going to happen but again I was pleasantly surprised by its quiet strength.

Uptown is the result of ten years of work and marks Trevor’s first solo album. He has always been a force to be reckoned with, but this album transcends genre and gives him the added badge of artist. While that may sound vague, he creates something so simple yet so complex. Something that could be applied to so many different types of art and could work so beautifully as a layer to each. I think this needs to be scooped up to be the soundtrack of a short film asap, but who am I to push my own agenda on such a fantastic solo project.

I don’t think this is an album that should be listened to song by song, I would recommend buying the entire album and putting it on in the background and observing what happens next!

Grab your copy of Uptown from The Flenser here.

-Pygopagus-

On the Turntable – Black Anvil ‘As Was’

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When listening to Black Anvil’s new album As Was, the great Pablo Picasso quote “Good artists copy, great artists steal” comes to mind. The most notable difference in this case is that I would not be so bold as to call Black Anvil great artists, more so I can’t get past how much their signature style sounds like a mash up of 15-second clips from various popular metal sub-genres. Because of this, I found myself desperately trying to find something I liked in each song, and the shining light in the whole album for me is the consistent delivery of Paul Delaney’s vocals.

His voice has a beautiful grittiness, with a perfect amount of rasp that really honors the black metal heroes of the past. I can see how many will view As Was as an exciting new record that beautifully pays homage to the greats! I would highly recommend this album to someone who’s just getting into metal, as it offers such a variety of styles in each song. Everyone needs a band like this to help them hone in on what exactly they like about metal and to provide them with a starting point to deep dive into their preferred sub-genre(s).

In an interview with Deaf Sparrow, the band said, “…These people do not know us, do not know what we are about, at ALL. I don’t need to make anyone else happy with what this band does. It’s not about pleasing the listener. If you are pleased, then great. If not, go fuck yourself. We could easily be carbon copies of other bands, but we still write what we want based on our reaction. Not that we’re this original band, to me we are, in the grand scheme we’re not. I think real recognizes real in the end of the day”. From that I get that they are inspired by the process of creation more than the final product, in that the lyrical content and journey to create the album is more important than the audience’s reaction to it. I respect the hell out of that, because this album is their chance as artists to express themselves and who am I to harsh their buzz?

The album really picks up steam at the fifth song, “As An Elder Learned Anew.” This song was the first that told a story I felt invited to be a part of. As a listener I want to be transported to a different time and place. I want to go on the journey with the band and I would encourage them to explore how they can express themselves and speak their truth by showing, not telling.

Recommended Songs:
“On Forgotten Ways”
“As An Elder Learned Anew”
“Ultra”

Grab your copy of As Was on Relapse Records here.

Rolling photo by Lani Lee.

Pygopagus-

Meet the Crew – Pygopagus

Pygopagus is a storyteller currently residing in Seattle, WA.  She spends her time feeling all of her feelings and helping incarcerated individuals to get back on their feet, all while envisioning herself as heroine on a horse wielding a mace in a Frank Frazetta-esque painting.

She has been the vocalist in a hardcore band, the drummer in a grind band and the creep behind some electro solo project. When missing being in a band, she enjoys doing hardcore vocals to 90s pop songs at karaoke. Her tastes are all over the place, but are all influenced by music that tells an emotional and visual story.

 

Forever Favorites

Isis

Dead Can Dance

Pantera (whatever, I’m from the South)

Weedeater

NC Hardcore circa 2000

 

Currently Obsessed With

Dead Can Dance

OM

YOB

Kamaiyah

6lack

 

Three Musicians to have a drink with

Roger Miller

Hank Williams

Lisa Gerrard + Brendan Perry