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No use crying over spilled blood: impressions of Watain in Brooklyn

One thing’s for certain in this world: If it’s a Watain show, there will be blood.

The Plan

Four of us planned to attend the Watain show June 15 at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar: my Metallomusikum podcast partner Derek, his significant other, Mandi, and Hope, a woman I had met when Watain played in Baltimore last November. In the weeks leading up to the event, we discuss what could possibly happen at this special one-off performance. Would there be carcasses? Would there be fire? Would there be blood? What would they do that would be so markedly different from other U.S. shows?

Two weeks before the show, I conduct a brief interview with Watain’s front man Erik Danielsson that provides some clues. He doesn’t want to give too much away, which is understandable. Still, it’s fun to speculate about what might happen. We are excited.

The Journey

Watain. Brooklyn Night Bazaar, June 15, 2014

Watain. Brooklyn Night Bazaar, June 15, 2014

The morning of the show, however, Hope texts to say she’s developed a fever and cannot go. We leave, literally abandoning “hope” for what, for all we knew, is the ushering in of the end of days. (But probably not.)

Turns out that Derek and Mandi are also sick with some kind of mucus-y plague but they are still on board. I dub the car Typhoid Mazda and vow to wash my hands at every chance. Driving to New York is no joke and not something I like to do, so Derek takes the wheel. We listen to music for the 5.5-hour journey, but they won’t let me listen to Watain. Apparently, that’s “not allowed;” just like it’s not OK to wear the t-shirt of the band you’ve come to see. Who makes up these stupid rules? I don’t like ‘em.

After an unnecessarily long service center break for snacks, numerous detours off the New Jersey Turnpike to avoid traffic jams, one raised drawbridge and about a million dollars worth of tolls, we arrive at our parking destination. We use SpotHero and park in a valeted garage because none of us have a clue about what parking near the venue will be like. Turns out the band Chvrches is playing for free in McCarren Park. This is part of the Northside Fest that the Watain show is also part of. But don’t let Chvrches’ kvlt “v” fool you kids –they play trashy hipster disco and desecrate Bauhaus songs.

Rounding the corner from the stroller-clogged park, we see the colorful walls of graffiti and broken glass strewn streets that create the pathway called Banker Street leading to the Brooklyn Night Bazaar. There’s a painted school bus with an animal skull on the dashboard. We are getting closer. There’s plenty of parking on the street here, but I don’t feel at all bad that we left Mandi’s new car with the nice parking garage attendant.

The first thing I notice when we walk up to the venue is that there are very few people waiting to get in. It’s 6:30 p.m. Doors are at 7 p.m. Where is everyone? The mood seems subdued. Was this impending doom? Hangover? Boredom? I’m not sure. I expected way more people by this point. But there are two opening acts, Kosmodemonic and T.O.M.B, and you know how people are; they skip the openers and then bum rush the people who have been there all night to try to get a spot on the rail. I hate people who do this.

Watain. Brooklyn Night Bazaar. June 15.

Watain. Brooklyn Night Bazaar. June 15.

As we approach the entrance, I see my friend Nick walking toward us. He seems particularly excited to tell us about the “sanitary” stations inside. There is no plumbing in the building, no running water. You use chemical toilets and you wash your hands at a plastic sink with a foot-pump operated water faucet. Well, all-righty then, I am not looking forward to that. We kill time chatting with friends, James and Matt, Annie and many others.

The Venue

At 7 p.m., they start letting people in, and the awing over the entrance gives me the sense that I am entering a huge circus tent. The Brooklyn Night Bazaar is a former functional warehouse turned into a Friday and Saturday night meet-space where pop-up vendors sell all kinds of goods from food to lingerie. There’s an arcade and even a mini-golf course inside. Once through the tented entry, we walk into a huge open room with the arcade to the right and show space to the left. Since tonight is Sunday, none of the usual vendors or clientele are here. Instead, black shirts and leather vests predominate. There are three bar stations, a burger vendor and the glow of pinball machines, where a handful of people are playing. A few picnic tables are scattered around.

At the very first picnic table sits pretty much every member of Watain minus Erik Danielsson. I can’t think of anything clever to say to them to introduce myself, so I just glance away quickly, which is wise because I have played the scenario out in my head, and it goes something like this:

I walk up to Alvaro Lillo and say to him and everyone at the table, “So hi, you guys are Watain, huh?”

Alvaro squints up at me and says nothing.

“Ehmm, that’s cool. See ya out there.” Then I back away, awkwardly smacking my forehead.

Fortunately, this scene does NOT play out in real life. We walk on past the band and survey the show space. Wow, well, this is pretty much not what I expected. The ceilings are low and the stage is tiny. For those of you familiar with Baltimore venues, I’d say the stage is about the size of the Ottobar’s but the rail funnels in toward the front instead of running straight across. The room itself is large, similar to the main room at the old Sonar but with a huge sound booth situated near the middle of the room. It’s tall enough to block your view if you get stuck behind it. I’m told the room can hold 1,000 people. By the end of the night, the room never gets more than half full.

We grab a burger and some waters. I buy the show specific shirt in white. Derek buys one too and puts it on. He gives his other shirt to Mandi. He’s going to need it later. People are milling about. It feels like an awkward middle school dance, only with a lot more leather and spikes.

Erik Danielsson of Watain. Brooklyn Night Bazaar. June 15.

Erik Danielsson of Watain. Brooklyn Night Bazaar. June 15.

At this point I meet several people I have only been able to chat with via email or on Facebook. It’s wonderful to put real faces and expressions and voices to images that you only have in your mind. I talk to “USBM” Zimmerman of T.O.M.B. I have wanted to see this Baltimore/Philly black noise project for nearly two years but kept missing them. I chat with Justin of Maine’s black metal wonder ZUD. He serves as a roadie for Watain. I have completed an interview with Justin about ZUD for this blog; you’ll see it soon. I meet Sick Rick, a feast for the eyes and ears with his decorative clothing, vampire teeth and gentlemanly drawl. I meet his lovely lady Lariyah who is sister to my friend Victoria and who, along with Rick and Vicky, are among the many devoted Watain disciples in attendance. And before the night is over I meet Will, a native New Yorker from Queens who loves both Watain and Frank Sinatra.

The Show

At about 8:00 p.m. Kosmodemonic takes the stage. Their music is hard to pin down. It’s more rock than the blackened doom metal they self describe as. It has a psychedelic vibe at times. I am not sure what I was expecting from them. Visually, there is nothing remarkable. I enjoyed their set but am not astonished. I’d see them again and will give them another listen to see if there is anything I want to latch onto. I just don’t feel like I am sufficiently familiar with their music to properly evaluate this performance under these circumstances.

T.O.M.B. at Brooklyn Night Bazaar June 15.

T.O.M.B. at Brooklyn Night Bazaar June 15.

At around 9:00 p.m., T.O.M.B begin their 23-minute set of black noise. T.O.M.B stands for Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemy, and that is an accurate description of what they deliver. One member of T.O.M.B. sits hooded with his back to the audience playing some kind of synthesizer. Their primary “vocalist” obscures his face with a netted mask but wears no shirt. The guitarist, a lithe woman in typical black metal garb complete with bullet belt, sports a scarf of heavy rotting bones. And their other sound manipulator/keyboardist/vocalist dresses in street clothes. He is the one I referred to as “USBM” Zimmerman, earlier. The vocals in T.O.M.B. are at times as dry as a desert wind, as deep and moist as a lowing cow and as menacing as a dictator. The overall musical vibe portrays hopeless, creepy, industrial decay. I thoroughly enjoy their meditative set, which includes eerie screams of a bowed guitar (Jimmy Page style!), maniacal keyboards and the audible destruction of bones. Cutting is involved. Blood flows fresh. The only distraction to their very obscure set is the idle chitchat of the audience. I want to stuff bloody socks in their mouths to shut them up. At the completion of their performance, the audience does not immediately clap. Maybe they just aren’t sure if the set is done. Maybe it went over people’s heads. Whatever. Fuck ‘em. I feel T.O.M.B.’s performance is a much better preparation for the Watain “ritual” than what Kosmodemonic brought.
The audience becomes impatient for Watain to begin. At this point, I see several Watain disciples (members of the official Watain fan club) with water bottles filled with a dark liquid. I am told it is fermented blood. I smell it. Hmmm, smells just like period blood. Now, I know what we were in for… but when?

Nick, a disciple, is standing nearby me. “I will be looking for you,” he smirks. “And Derek. Where is Derek?” I motion toward the center of the room and think to myself, Oh hell no! There was no way I am going to ride all those hours home smelling like a used maxi-pad.

Kosmosdemonic at Brooklyn Night Bazaar June 15.

Kosmosdemonic at Brooklyn Night Bazaar June 15.

At 10 p.m. exactly Watain marches onto stage. And they are glorious. I have seen Watain twice previous to this. Some metal heads criticize Watain because they seem to sound like one or another band that came before them. No matter. I like the band and will listen to a Watain album, start to finish, without wondering if they are “real” Satanists or posers or if they have “sold out” or whatever. I just enjoy them, plain and simple. I dig the riffs. They have some beautiful melodic parts. Their choruses can be catchy. And Erik Danielsson is a charismatic and earnest front man who is passionate about what he is doing. What’s not to appreciate here?

Two flaming tridents flank the stage but they are staying lit inconsistently. It’s obvious the ceilings are too low to let them blaze much higher. On stage, there is an arrangement of bones including a human shaped skull with large horns in front of the drums, but not like the altar with incense and blood filled chalice that I had seen at previous shows. There don’t seem to be any animal carcasses either, so the stench of death is minimal.

I position myself by the rail and hold on for the first three songs. But by the end of “Malfeitor” I have had enough of the two enormous hillbillies in plaid shirts that have somehow managed to drunkenly bully their way in front of me. Venue security is useless. I decide to pull out.

I spend the remainder of the show milling about the back of the room and at the bar on the opposite side of the room. I can still see OK and the sound is much better back here, but I feel somewhat left out. Maybe I should have held onto my spot. But it was also unbearably hot up in the mix of humans, so I decide to just groove to the tunes and enjoy myself alone.

The Blood

No sooner do I leave the rail than the band starts playing “Outlaw,” a song from the new album The Wild Hunt that features a tribal drums sounding segment. It is at this point that Erik picks up the horned human skull, moves to the front of the stage and swings a wide swath across the audience. A fan of blood spills out on those closest to him. Shouts and screams rise up. (Later someone reported that people got sick and puked, but I never saw it.)

The mechanical fans overhead catch the spray and create a misty cloud above the crowd. While this may seem like an extreme move to people who have never seen Watain, Erik has done this at every previous performance. It’s nothing new. I know there is more. I know the disciples are “armed”… but when would they strike?

The concert continues. Then I hear the starting riff of “All That May Bleed,” which sounds a little bit like Queen’s “Keep Yourself Alive.” And I believe, though I am not certain, that it is at the conclusion of the first chorus to this song, that Watain’s disciples, who were scattered throughout the bulk of the audience, opened those putrid filled plastic bottles and poured them out upon the crowd. If there’d been screaming when Erik spattered a few cups worth out on some heads earlier, an even greater lamentation goes up this second time around. Anyone near the bulk of the audience is covered.

Just then, I see a dozen or so people, mostly women, sprinting from the crowd toward the “sanitary” stations. Good luck with that, I think, since the water in those sink stands is limited.

Like the first time, the overhead fans catch the spray and scatter a fine red mist across the room. The rotted blood smell intensifies. Combined with the heat of the room, I can imagine some audience members must be feeling queasy. But the smell quickly dissipates. By the end of the song, I don’t really notice it anymore. In fact, I went and bought a drink at the bar during my favorite song, “Stellavore”. Om, nom, nom, star eater!

Matt, Mary, Derek and Nick. Photo by Annie.

Matt, Mary, Derek and Nick. Photo by Annie.

During what turned out to be Watain’s final song, “Holocaust Dawn,” I take a quick bathroom break. It’s a long song, and I can still hear it from the port-o-john. When I return, the spot where the performance space meet the food and drink space punches me in the face. The heat and smell are overwhelming. I stand there, on the precipice of chaos next to a pregnant woman who for some reason decided going to see Watain while pregnant was a good idea.

“I feel like throwing up,” she says.

I nod knowingly but discredit her as an accurate judge of actual disgust levels because, seriously, when doesn’t a pregnant women not feel like she could throw up?

And then suddenly, the show is over! I hope for an encore, but it never comes. They played for one hour.

The Aftermath

I stay near the entryway waiting for the rest of my party to pass by. I see more people I know, and many are pleased at the performance, ritual, concert or however you view it. My traveling companion Derek saunters up, his new white shirt, face and hair covered with blood. Mandi had wisely moved to the back before Watain even got going. Annie and Nick are equally baptized, as were Matt and James. Among the Watain disciples, there is a kind of euphoria. It’s been a long day for them, many of who had arrived early that morning to build the stage and help in other ways. They have just witnessed not only the band they love but also the fruits of their labor. I am happy for them.

Was this special? Was this the ultimate, uncensored, uncompromising Watain show I’d hope for? From my perspective, I’d have to say no. The space, the venue, short notice of the event, it just didn’t allow the opportunity to create the atmosphere I was expecting to see. If you have watched Watain’s DVD “Opus Diaboli,” you will have a better sense of what their full live ritual can be like, but this show and in this setting was not it.

Am I disappointed? Not at all. I like Watain. And unless something very crazy happens, I will continue to enjoy them.

If anything made this show unique, it was in the way that this particular performance engaged Watain devotees. It seemed to be an opportunity for them to rally around their favorite group and participate in a more hands-on way and in a more intimate setting than perhaps they have had the opportunity to before. And that, perhaps, was what Watain intended all along.

It has been said that Watain is not for everyone. And I agree; they are not everyone’s cup of fermented blood. If you don’t get it, they are not for you. Perhaps you are not the one, and it will be very obvious that you are not the one. But if you do get it, and you do understand, then this show was for you. And just for you.

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Horde of the Eclipse: blackened impurity from central PA

Friday night I ventured into the darkened back room at Guido’s Speakeasy in Frederick to see/hear Dweller in the Valley, Sloth Herder and Horde of the Eclipse. These three are among my favorite local black metal bands and so to have them all together was a treat. Today, I want to talk a little about Horde of the Eclipse, an atmospheric black metal band from Harrisburg, PA, and I am long overdue in writing about them.

Horde of the Eclipse (Photo provided by band)

Horde of the Eclipse (Photo provided by band)

I first saw Horde of the Eclipse in the cellar of a tattoo shop in Chambersburg, PA. That was a weird little show. The Guido’s show was also kind of weird: minimal lighting, no AC to speak of and a small but devoted crowd. I suppose that’s what you might expect at a black metal show in Frederick.

But even in that tiny room, Horde sounded really good. These guys capture some of the best elements of black metal bands I love, which include Abigail Williams, Agalloch, Setherial and even Horna and Xasthur. The melodies soar and are sometimes enhanced by keyboards, the rhythms are complex and varied (i.e., not just unrelenting blast beats), and the guitars shred. Max Shoop’s vocals are raw and visceral. It’s sometimes hard to believe that those hellish sounds are coming out of his wiry frame.

The songwriting with this band is superior, and every song possesses interesting, memorable melodies and transitions that range from thrashy rocking parts to lush meditative sections. Everything they’ve recorded is on BandCamp, so I encourage you to follow the direction this band is heading. Download it, most of it is free or name your own price. A split with Sloth Herder is in the works, so I will be looking for that.

I think Horde of the Eclipse could be a very big band, that is, in an underground black metal sort of way. Maybe they need a little more time to “ripen” and more time to make the right connections that will position them in front of the right audiences to make that happen. Until then, I will make every attempt to see them when they play.

Horde of the Eclipse is Max Shoop: Vocals/Guitar; Andy Sheaffer: Guitar; Keith Loboda: Bass/Backing Vocals; and Lucas Sweger: Drums.

Check out the gallery I shot (in near darkness) below:

Strange tourfellows: Skeletonwitch and Ghost B.C.

Well, it’s finally happened. I finally saw Ghost (B.C.)  And I blame it all on Skeletonwitch.

Ghost and Skeletonwitch made a stop at Rams Head Live on July 29 during a five city mini tour that grew out of the fact that the bands would cross paths on their ways to other places. Skeletonwitch are wrapping up a headlining tour across North America on their way back home to Ohio. Ghost, who hail from Sweden (by way of Hell), are making a few stops on their way to Chicago to play Lollapalooza. These two sharing a stage seemed like strange bedfellows musically, and I kind of didn’t want to miss it. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to go to every show that catches my eye, but thanks to the kind gentlemen in Skeletonwitch (specifically their official band spokesman Scott Hedrick) and the gracious folks at Prosthetic Records, I was able to go to the show and get a photo pit pass.

Everyone I know who is into metal seems to have an opinion about Ghost, and I am no exception. Ghost erupted onto the scene in late 2010 with their debut EP Opus Eponymous. These musicians didn’t come from nothing and no where, however. Ghost is reportedly composed of members of the two Swedish bands: synthrockers Magna Carta Cartel and death metallers Repugnant. They hide their identities. That’s part of their schtick. I get it. I’m willing to go along with the joke. (Hey, I love Dragged Into Sunlight, and I have no problem with them downplaying their identities.)

Ghost seems to engender a lot of strong reaction from listeners. Some hate them and say they are false, posers, manufactured etc. Some love them to the point of near fanaticism, as was evidenced by the handful of Nameless Ghoul wannabes who attended Monday’s show in costume.  Me, I just fail to succumb to the hype and certainly never thought of Ghost as metal, but I gave them a listen anyway.

Admittedly, Ghost’s tunes are catchy, easy to sing along with and danceable. Papa Emeritus’ vocals are sweet and almost soothing. Overall, it’s similar to a lot of popular rock. Muse or The Postal Service come to mind except with heavier guitars and more minor chords and more Satan. I have settled on the humorous faux subgenre of Satanic yachtrock to describe them.

But I kept hearing that Ghost’s live show was really great and that I should not write them off without seeing them in person. My stance in situations like this is simple: I like what I like, and I don’t have to give everything that seems almost universally accepted “a chance” just because people think I am somehow defective for not liking what they like. I reserve the right to reject a band without seeing their live show. But here I was, getting ready to see Ghost live.

Now, let me say something about Skeletonwitch, who have spent the last 10+ years building their fan base, slogging around in stinky vans, playing little clubs for whoever would listen. A strong constituency at Rams Head Monday night was primarily there to see Skeletonwitch, which made me happy.

I have seen Skeletonwitch three times now, and each time I like them more. My favorite show was a headlining performance at The Ottobar, because I think they relate well to a smaller crowds. Their guitarists shred, their rhythm section crushes, and Chance Garnette has one of the most evil sounding voices I’ve ever heard. He provides a black metal style of vocal that slices like a razor though a sweet double layer cake of death metal and thrash.

Skeletonwitch worked the larger room well and got the crowd whipped up enough to have some respectable crowd surfing going on. Since the upper levels of Rams Head were blocked off, the 600 or so attendees were forced into the smaller floor area in front of the stage. lending a more intimate feeling to the setting. They cruised through 11 songs, something from each of their four recordings and one new song from their forthcoming album, Serpents Unleashed, that was called “Burned From Bone.” The new album drops in October.

Skeletonwitch played for only 35 minutes, which was not long enough in my opinion. This show was going to get me home early!

I don’t know what I was expecting when Ghost finally took the stage. Smoke, fire? I don’t know. The last show I shot at Rams Head was Behemoth, Watain, The Devil’s Blood and In Solitude.  I am not sure anything could have prepared me for Watain live. There’s nothing to compare it to. Nergal and Behemoth command the stage masterfully. Even TDB is compelling live and, of course, blood soaked.

But the Nameless Ghouls just quietly strolled onto the stage and waited for their leader to arrive. You can’t see their faces so you don’t know if they are happy or sad or indifferent about being there.  After some build-up, Papa Emeritus II  took the stage with little pomp, though the crowd provided enough enthusiasm to make his entrance significant.

When I look at Ghost, mostly what I see is something kind of Halloween-ish. Something like the band that would play in a live-action Scooby Doo movie and turn out to be the bad guy gardener and his tricky henchmen. To me it is costume-shop theatrics framing well executed. but not very exciting, music. For comparison, KISS uses theatrics and costumes, but I am willing to listen to KISS without having to look at them. That is not the case with Ghost, at least not for me. The show’s the thing.

You see, there is something captivating about watching a grown man in an elaborate Pope/Skeletor outfit leading the audience in a Latin sing-a-long.  And, I did find my self head-bobbing along with their now familiar songs. After my three songs for shooting in the photo pit ended, I joined friends at the bar and watched the rest of the Ghost show near the Skeletonwitch merch table. At one point during the song “Year Zero”, I ended up doing a kind of hilariously fun Pulp Fiction-esque dance routine with a high schooler. But then again, I will dance to Carpathian Forest and Arckanum, and I don’t care who is watching (and laughing at me). I wished I could have understood some of Papa E.’s stage banter, but from where I was the sound was not clear and people were talking. A few folks were inspired to crowd surf, but that seemed rather unnecessary. And the shouts of “Hail Satan” from the audience were pretty funny.  I am sure the members of Ghost are also chuckling to themselves about that, all the way to the bank.

The bottom line about the evening is that I was highly entertained by both groups for completely different reasons. Skeletonwitch always puts forth 10,000 percent and delivered a satisfying performance for the headbangers with such musical integrity that you could feel it in your gut. And Ghost delivered a satisfyingly lighthearted performance that was fun and surprisingly warm, despite the Luciferian overtones. I can’t deny that I was touched by the fact that Papa E. reached out and took a fan by the hand. I am sure that person felt extremely blessed. In summary,  I didn’t hate Ghost, but I spent my merch dollars at the Skeletonwitch table. To each, her own I suppose.

Here are some of my best shots and a couple of videos. Enjoy.

REVIEW: Radamanthys – Eternal Judgment takes you to hell, but you’ll enjoy it

Radamanthys, a technical death metal four-some form Towson, Md. have finally released an official recording. You can find it at the end of this blog post, downloadable for free.

I say finally, because I first encountered these guys nearly two years ago and just figured it was a matter of time before they would be opening for important headliners and putting out their first full-length.

Image

Radamanthys

Well, life is funny and sometimes life gets in the way. Either way, their debut effort Eternal Judgment is a beautiful beast of a thing. It’s just four songs and clocks in a just less than 15 highly satisfying minutes. Radamanthys is Alex Conti on vocals and guitar, Mario Pareja-Lecaros on lead guitar, Basil Chiasson on bass and Dan Sullivan on drums.

Eternal Judgment follows a theme of traveling down into the dark underworld of Hades. The listener is invited along a path from which there is no escape. But it is also about tight musicianship, expert execution and classic death metal melodies.

“March of the Dead” launches the demo with militaristic drumming and searing guitars that foreshadow what’s to come. It goes straight into the title track with its piercing guitar leads and the first strains of Alex’s vocals. And oh good gracias those guitar leads. The rhythm section is on point. You will have to check the stereo again and again to remind yourself that you are not listening to much more experienced musicians.

“Tartanus” pops opens with some heavy King-Crimson-esque chords. The group’s technical savvy really shines in the complexity of this song. The final track “Asphodel Meadows” is amazing, building tension to about its halfway point when Alex cries out “Never to get away!”  In some ways, I feel like this track could be the halfway point of a full length, where the other half tells the story of how our dearly departed possibly escapes his final destination…or maybe he doesn’t.

Anyway, the demo is a brilliant effort for a young band. Hopefully, the people that matter will take note. I sent the band some questions. Here’s what they had to say:

How did Radamanthys come into existence?

Mario: So, since we started playing guitar we wanted to start a band. We use to jam at my house, brainstorming and getting our chops up. Our first incarnation featured Alex and me on guitars, Mo on vocals, Nick on bass and Mikey on drums. We had some disagreements on the bands directions, which led to the departure of Nick and Mikey who later went on to form Myopic. Basil joined us soon after, and I contacted Ari to play with us for the time being. This worked for a while, but we ran into problems with Mo mostly due to the travel distance since he came from Virginia. We brought Alex Hura to fill in vocals for a short period of time but ultimately decided to handle vocal duties ourselves Ari decided to focus on his other band Encrypted Sun. That led to recruiting Dan and that’s where we are now.

Who was Radamanthys (the character)?

Mario: Radamanthys has a few pieces of lore; he was one of the more just kings of Crete and upon his death was appointed a judge of the dead by Hades. He serves in the underworld determining what kind of punishment a person will receive and sending them to the appropriate area of Hades

Who writes the songs and what are they about?

Alex: I wrote most of the music and lyrics. Songs were then presented to the other band members who had free reign to alter their parts. Basil heavily edited the bass parts, I only wrote the basic framework. Sections with solos and leads were left blank to be completed by their respective players. The exception is “Asphodel Meadows” where Basil wrote the bass lead in the intro first, and I wrote a song around that.

The whole demo is a concept EP about descending into Hades to discover your fate in the afterlife. “March of the Dead” is supposed to be a literal march of the dead as deceased souls enter Hades and await their judgment. “Eternal Judgment” is about arriving at Hades and going through the process of being eternally judged. The songs refers to actual places and processes in Hades from Greek mythology such as crossing the river Styx lead by Charon on the ferry to the plains of judgment. It discusses the various realms of the underworld such as Tartarus (hell) and Asphodel (purgatory.) The chorus sums up the demo as we describe Radamanthys’ role and allude to everyone’s eventual eternal judgment. The next two songs are basic descriptions of the places mentioned in eternal judgment as you descend through Hades.

Here is the map I used for reference.

Where did the idea for this come from originally though, I mean for you to make this journey into songs?

Alex: Well, I wrote “Eternal Judgment” first and I realized there were all these cool places that we could elaborate on that were only briefly mentioned in the song. So I had the idea of taking a couple of these places and using them for other song. The melodies may have been already in the process, but I matched them on purpose. “Tartarus” has a very hellish feel, while the tapping riff in “Asphodel” has a very stagnant never-ending feel along with the creepy middle section with solos. That’s because, in a way, Asphodel is the worst of all, not painful but not pleasurable– “The Asphodel Meadows not of virtue nor sin.” We just did some research and tried to use of the information as best as we could and then along the way we made some stuff up on our own, because that’s really what mythology is.

What does the future hold for Radamanthys?

Alex: We will be promoting this demo as much as we can and try to get our name out to as many people as we can. Now that our demo is finished, we are currently looking for shows, and people should feel welcome to get in contact with us through our Facebook page for any show opportunities. We’re also possibly going to shoot a music video for one of the tracks!

REVIEW: Howl – Bloodlines, play Sidebar March 28

What are you doing Thursday night? You are going to see Howl at The Sidebar, that’s what. Why? Because they rock, and they have a new album out, and they drink Narragansett beer by the case, and I can spell Narragansett, which is in Rhode Island, which is where Howl is from.

ILSA, Spoilage and Dead Gods are also playing. All reasons enough. Now about this new record.

Howl

Howl’s new album Bloodlines further establishes the group as true heavy hitters in a metal market miasma dominated by snail’s pace funeral doom and core-of the week screamers. Blending blackened vocals, solid blues infused melodies with churning riffs and thrashy rhythms, Howl gives me everything I want in a metal band.

They have their doomier moments, true, but it also makes sense that this group has toured with Skeletonwitch and Red Fang, who keep the tempo upbeat and the drums pounding most of the time. I pretty much love everything about Bloodlines.

If you like groups like High on Fire, old Mastodon and Crowbar, Howl will appeal to you.

Record reviews are hard for me, so I will just give you some highlights. The second track “Midnight Eyes” roars forth and immediately assumes a thrash pace likely to get audiences moving. The chorus is headbang-worthy. This leads straight into another great song, “Demonic.” Great lyrics and memorable riffs. “One Last Night” almost has a post-metal melody, and I really like that, but it never strays from Howl’s mission of melting faces with those unrelenting power riffs.

“Down So Low” slows things down a bit to a sinister pace, with more baritone vocals coming through. “With a Blade” is among the most “doom-like” sounding songs on the album. No doubt the flavor-of-the-week kids will enjoy the fuck out of this down-tuned delight. Thankfully, “Of War” brings the tempo back up a bit. The slightly more progressive, Mastodon-y sounding “The Mouth of Madness” is also a slower track featuring death metal like chugga-chugga- guitar work and vocal harmonies.

There are some other songs on there; just buy Bloodlines when it comes out April 30. You won’t be sorry.

See you suckers tomorrow.

REVIEW: War Injun/Doomdogs 7" split

International penpals were once a method people had to learn about other cultures. Maryland’s War Injun and Sweden’s Doomdogs have created such a dialog with their new 7″ split released by Svart Records. In this case, however, it’s a dialog of doom.

War Injun describe themselves as power doom, though I’d put them squarely in the stoner rock category along with Pentagram and similar. This band is all about the riff delivered expertly by Kenny Staubs and Dave Morgan. Their rhythm section, which consists of JB Matson and Tony Comulada, lays down a crushingly heavy foundation for every song.

Their contribution to the split is the previously unreleased “Smokethrower” featuring former singer JD Williams. Vocal duties were recently filled by Jack Roemer (also of Tank Murdock and formerly of Dead Men Sway). During some recent live performances Roemer, no doubt by some shamanistic spell, has been able to make War Injun’s lyrics even more thunderous than they were with Williams.

“Smokethrower” is most definitely a rockin’ tune featuring rapid-fire verses halted by a more ponderous chorus. The varied pace adds drama.  The guitar tone is flawless, obliterating everything in its path. It’s a fitting swan song for Williams and a great showcase for the talents that remain in War Injun.

On the flipside, we have “Oceans of Despair” from Doomdogs, who  play somewhat more melodic doom, but their sound is definitely companionable with War Injun.  Vocalist Tomas “GG” Eriksson projects the lyrics with a kind of raw operatic flare over the powerful riffage provided by guitarist Christer Cuñat, whose solos are reminiscent of 70s blues-rock. The song features an extended funky jam segment with a fat bass and sizzling lead. The tune marches to its somewhat untimely end, whereupon the song seems to abruptly fall apart. Except for this unsettling conclusion, “Oceans of Despair” is a stellar response to War Injun’s call on the other side.  Former member Emil Rolof is featured on drums and Patrik Andersson Winberg on bass, who is set to perform his last gig with the group on April 6.

War Injun’s drummer explained that the split came about because the two groups were fans of each other music. “We actually hooked up with Doomdogs through Facebook,” Matson said. (Well, doesn’t everyone?)

The split has also become something of a promo for a Doomdogs/War Injun tour slated for late summer. And for War Injun, at least, it offered a means to transition into writing and recording with their new singer.

“We are nearly done with the writing process for our next full length ‘Left For The Wolves’, which will be released before August,” Matson said. “Jack is working out tremendously. War Injun is without a doubt, the most solid of a unit as it has ever been. We have already written five new songs with this lineup, and it’s the best music we have ever written. The 2013 Summer Tour starts August 2 in Fort Worth, Texas and continues through August 11 from Texas to Florida and then straight up the East Coast. Leather Nun America (California) are touring with us, and if all things work out, so will Doomdogs.” 

Check out both songs below. 

REVIEW: The Almighty Propagator of Doom and Despair, plus philosophizing with Ptahil

I like to imagine that somewhere in northeastern Indiana there lies a portal to the Underworld where the members of the Ptahil have set up camp to receive messages directly from their Dark Lord. I am probably not too far off, based on  the content of their most recent recording.

Ptahil, which in gnostic mysticism can also be spelled Fetahil, is described as the builder of the material world. Ptahil, the band from Fort Wayne, Indiana, is comprised of drummer/vocalist J. Mhághnuís and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist D. Luathca, and they have been building their world of chaos since 2009. They have created two demos, two EPs, one single and two full-length recordings in that time, the most recent of which, The Almighty Propagator of Doom and Despair, came out December 21, 2012 (defying a predicted Mayan apocalypse).

Ptahil

Both members have also been in and are currently contributing to several other musical projects. Currently, Ptahil is in the process of mixing a third full-length recording called Born Against with Wraith Productions and is slated for release in 2014. But let’s talk about the album at hand.

The Almighty Propagator of Doom and Despair roars forth like a swarming horde from the very first track, “Satanicus Sabbathicus,” which features pummeling drums and an almost industrial black metal atmosphere. Launched with backwards invocation, “Possessed by Death” transitions the listener to a much doomier plane of existence. I can imagine fans chanting along with the refrain here.

The third track “Blood, Semen, Shit”– well, that just about covers the entirety of human existence doesn’t it. This song is a bit more trashy and lyrically will make you “curse all life’s creation”.

Track four, “Mors Aut Libertas,” continues in the somewhat trashy vein. Here, Ptahil builds a wall of sound with heavy guitar distortion and drumming. Lyrically, I think this may capture Ptahil’s spirit. “And what magic was (sic) you trying to summon, stirring up men’s hearts to action? Revolution and change? This is paid in blood. Not by obliging the chains to bind you. Nor by giving up your spark. Raise your fire for All the Gods to see. For your soul to be free.”

“Pact with the Devil” returns to the doom and features some of the most melodic segments of the album. At times, it dips into psychedelic realms! This track trudges along, crushing everything in its path. It is among my favorite songs on the record.

The title track of this album clocks in at nearly 13 minutes, which is long for a black metal song. Yet this epic and multifaceted track builds and builds to a crescendo of rage befitting a title song for this recording. Lyrically, like most Ptahil songs, the themes are simultaneously obscure and evident. “What love can survive and flourish in this realm?” There is deep “gnosis” here, but many people will probably not want to dwell on the possible implications and will be content to simply bang their heads.

Like a freight train plummeting over a cliff, the album’s final track, “Hell Spells and Satanic Rituals,” moves at a break-neck pace and concludes in under two and a half minutes. The album ends with another backwards vocal. A malediction perhaps, rather than a benediction.

Overall, The Almighty Propagator of Doom and Despair will likely leave you satisfied and exhausted, like a good old-fashioned shag. That’s ironic, given the underlying theme of the record that reveals itself through the lyrics. This album may cause you to question your existence and purpose in this shadowy physical plane. That is a mighty accomplishment from little more than 45 minutes of music and should put this record on the watchlist of any follower of American black metal.

On the downside, I am not sure I like the way this recording was mixed (granted I know nothing about this process). I feel like the vocals, which are quite good, get lost under the music. The guitar work sounds indistinct at times. Listening on headphones helps.

I interviewed Mhághnuís via email. Here’s what he had to say about the band, the future and this recording.

What did you set out to achieve with this recording? 
Total freedom. To put into light the terrible instinct of human reproduction. As people go on, so goes enslavement.

Where was the recording done and what atmosphere were you trying to create. 
Ptahil does all our tracking at our temple/studio. For The Almighty Propagator… mixing and mastering was done here as well. We always try to bring an atmosphere of chaos to our releases. With this release, however, we wanted to bring a manipulated feel. This is what mankind is the best at doing, manipulation. Manipulating other living things. Manipulating the landscape, and nature. This is why the full release could be played both forward and backward. There are specific messages both ways in our own attempts to manipulate the listener to seek out their total freedom by any means necessary.

I heard the band was looking for a bassist. How is that going? 
Ptahil is D. Luathca and myself. We are looking for a third to make our magic stronger, at least for live rituals, but we have not found anyone who can both play the music and deal with what Ptahil is about. It takes more than playing the music perfectly. It is about making a specific pact.

I have not heard reverse recording in music for a long time. I suppose the only way you could listen to it would be to get it in vinyl and spin the disc in reverse. Why did you decide to use this?
Well, when this was originally being recorded, the plan was to release it on vinyl. However we did not give a fuck about time constraints, we just worried about doing the release how it felt it should be done. This led to the recording being too long for a standard vinyl pressing by two songs. Our record label (Wraith Productions) received the masters and did not want to exclude the two songs. So we opted to release it on CD. (You can find this and other Ptahil recordings and merch here.)

What plans do you have to tour in support of this record, and how will it be distributed? 
We have distribution in Europe through Code 7 with Wraith Prod. People can pick up the releases in stores in Europe. There is limited distribution in America however, (of course) Into The Void Records carries our releases in their store in St. Paul, Minnesota. You can get the releases in the mail through us and Wraith.
Ptahil will be playing THE DEVIL’S COVEN FEST at Station 4 in St. Paul on May 18. This so far is the ONLY show for Ptahil in 2013.

What is on the agenda for the upcoming year? 
Ptahil has another release finished and in the mixing stages titled, Born Against, which is to be released through Wraith. We also have 2+ more releases in the rehearsal recording stages. We will start tracking these songs during this year.
D. Luathca has a release recorded playing bass for The Lurking Corpses, which is set for release this year. I have also joined up with Demonic Christ for their two fest appearances for this year and look to be recording their new release this year as well.

Anything else you want to mention? 
Demonic Christ will be performing at Cathedral of the Black Goat Fest March 30 and Martydoom Fest June 29-31. Ptahil will be performing at THE DEVIL’S COVEN FEST at Station 4 in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 18. So if anyone hates my guts enough to take my life, there are your three chances.

REVIEW: Embers and Revelations, plus Weapon’s Monarch speaks

Weapon

What do you get when you cross the anti-religious themes of true black metal with the death metal aesthetics of Bolt Thrower and tinge it with the cultural undertones of Bangladesh? You get Weapon. (And yes, the name is trademarked; legally there can be only one.)

The first time I heard Canada’s blackened death metal group Weapon was shortly before the June 2012 Marduk show at the former Sonar in Baltimore. A friend had told me that Weapon were the only reason to go to the show. They weren’t the only reason to be there, but they sure were damn good.

From that time, I have gotten to know the band a little more, gone back and listened to some of their earlier recordings, and have kept in touch with the group’s vocalist and chief songwriter who goes by the name Vetis Monarch.

I have been listening to their latest recording Embers and Revelations since it was released in October 2012. Initially, I had fallen in love with the mystery and dark beauty crafted by their second full length, From the Devil’s Tomb. You can read more about my first encounter with Weapon here.

Now, months later, I feel like Embers and Revelations exceeds the intensity and excellence of this previous work. I am glad I waited to write my review.

The album slithers forth with the track “The First Witness of Lucifer.” With a relentless beat and chugging riffs, it’s an appropriate processional into the unholy aural onslaught to come.

The song “Vanguard of the Morning Star” offers devotees a perfect blend of black metal and death meal. Blast beats, tremolo riffs, a blistering lead and sinister growling vocals. “Crespuscular Swamp, Unhinged Swine” slows the pace down a bit to a death metal trudge. The track crushes its enemies and takes no prisoners.

The next track “Liber Lilith” stands out, maybe because of its memorable opening riff or its fist-pumping refrain. I can’t really post the lyrics about this “feral harlot; unchaste spirit” here, but rest assured, this song will creep under your skin.

“Grotesque Carven Portal” begins with some ethereal soundscapes and them moves into what might be called the “Weapon-sound,” as this group definitely has an identifiable progression of chords and musical themes that seem to reveal themselves, however subtly, in every track. (Maybe Vetis should look into trademarking this sound as well #joking.)

This instrumental quickly transitions into the roar of the title track of the album. At just under 4 minutes, “Embers and Revelations” packs a demonic punch, but I actually wish this song were a bit longer. It features a rally cry, which is sure to get audiences revved in a live setting, but it seems to lack the songwriting complexity that most of Weapon’s other songs possess.

The final two tracks are my favorite for this Weapon outing. “Disavowing Each in Aum” provides head-banging material for sure with raging rhythms and plenty of shredding, but it also offers up that subtle intricacy that Weapon does so well. The slower, more introspective sections of this song mesmerize.

The album’s final track, “Shahenshah,” will likely go into the group’s rotation of songs used as encores. Epic riffage, building tension and satisfying resolutions, Weapon gives it all to you here. In the song, Vetis Monarch sings the lyrics “O, archon, emperor, monarch, shahenshah -The luminous jewel on the acausal crown.”

The truth is, “Shahenshah” is this recording’s crown jewel and Weapon’s signature song to date.

Weapon’s third full-length album, Embers and Revelations, firmly establishes these warriors on the landscape of satanic metal bands to watch. I missed the sound of the sitar prominently featured in previous albums, so I invite you to go back and listen to Drakonian Paradigm and From the Devil’s Tomb and witness how Vetis Monarch and company have evolved to this point.

Here is what Vetis Monarch had to say about the band, his philosophies and this record:

How would you describe your personal philosophy, and how does it inform the music and lyrics of this latest Weapon recording? You seem to be a Theistic Satanist with Hindu underpinnings; is that how you would describe it?

In the most general of descriptions, I’d say that’s fairly accurate. On one hand, I can say I can say that I’m a Satanist and leave it at that; that’s the long and short of it, because to me, there’s only ONE kind of Satanism when you cut through all the red tape and unnecessary factions. But when talking on a more complex level, I can go further with what led me to my current belief system, what were the things I rejected, what culturally-leaning occult biases I absorbed and so forth. The Hindu / Eastern aspect is certainly a big part of it.

I thought your performance here in Baltimore back in June was very dynamic with good interplay between band members. Describe the chemistry of the band’s current line up and how that enhanced writing and recording this new record.

The three core members of the band – myself, Kha Tumos (bass guitar) and The Disciple (drums and percussion) – we are closer to age and grew up on similar bands. We have been playing for quite some time together now. Also, prior to joining Weapon, both of those individuals played in War March. So they already brought chemistry to the table, and then the three of us formed our own way of doing things and developed our own chemistry. The “new” guy Rom Surtr (lead guitars) is quite a bit younger and comes from a different generation, so of course there’s a gap when it comes to certain reference points and whatnot. But he caught on to our way of doing things fast; everything from understanding our sound, to camaraderie, sense of humor, et al – he’s there. In a lot of ways, understanding the aspects that DON’T involve the music are even more important, which Rom Surtr does. If there is no chemistry off-stage, it probably won’t translate on-stage.

What sort of experience or knowledge do you hope to bring to people when they listen to Weapon (other than kick ass blackened death metal that is easy to mosh to)? For example, what thoughts or emotions do you hope to provoke and why?

I am a huge advocator of reading lyrics, so for me it’s always fantastic when someone will write to me saying that certain Weapon lyrics inspired him / her to research further into a occult, historical or religious topic. That to me is pay dirt. A girl wrote to me recently that subject matter off ‘From The Devil’s Tomb’ inspired her to take Sanskrit courses in University. I thought that was very cool.

A good set of headphones and very little lighting should generate the best Weapon listening experience, I find. In a live setting we just like to see people get violent and hurt themselves / each other. This past summer when we were on tour, someone dislocated his knee from reacting too excitedly in the crowd. We encourage things like that.

Were there any particular challenges or triumphs in recording Embers and Revelations?

Between 2010 and early 2012 I had a lot of instability in my personal life, from getting arrested to being homeless – just one chaotic event after another, some of which I can’t get into due to legal reasons. Kha Tumos (bass guitar) had a lot of personal shit going on as well. Then about a year ago, we changed lead guitar players, which was just weeks before we had to go and perform at Rites Of Darkness in Texas – all very stressful, I’m sure you can imagine. We were questioning the band’s existence at certain points. Any sense of luxury or complacency that had manifested was quickly erased by fire and fury. The hunger came back and it really helped with the songwriting process. Embers And Revelations ended up being a lot more belligerent and malicious than I originally thought it could be.

Tell me about the cover art/artist.

The artist is Benjamin Vierling, an American painter. He has been with us since Drakonian Paradigm, and he really understands how we work. A modern-day genius, in my humble opinion. We provide him with rough ideas about the art we have in mind and the lyrics, and he comes up with these stunning masterpieces.

The Wheel of Fate is something that has been used throughout all the Weapon artworks. It appears on the Drakonian Paradigm cover image, under Lucifer’s feet. It appears again on the From the Devil’s Tomb image, between the inverted hanged man and the demon. Now it appears as the foundation of this image for Embers and Revelations. The Wheel is ever revolving, ever turning, and in the process, it crumbles…

The Tiger and the Wolf pertain to my dreams. Benjamin Vierling, the master and the genius, saw them flanking the Wheel in this manner: guardians, adversaries, and heraldic totems all at once. The daemonic skull has layers of meaning, being simultaneously an invocation, a conquering and a memorial. The red eye on the brow demonstrates profound vision; seeing beyond seeing! The crown is an allusion to the ‘Shahenshah’ – the King of all Kings. The star emblazoned on the crown of disillusion also has special significance; the serpents are also classic motifs, insinuating divine gnosis through venomous initiation.

I hear some of the same musical themes in Embers as I did in From the Devil’s Tomb. Can this new album be seen as a continuation of that story?

Most certainly. Every Weapon release is part of the same ongoing story. The songs on the albums themselves stand alone, in that, we don’t make concept albums; but the discography of Weapon is one singular concept. Weapon will always champion Satanism.

My current favorite track on this recording is “Disavowing Each in Aum”. What is it about?

Aum is Om and is of supreme significance in Hinduism. This symbol is a consecrated syllable representing Brahman, the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism – omnipotent, universal, and the foundation of all discernible life.

I believe that sociopaths and psychopaths are inherently missing the link to Aum, whether they are aware of it or not. They are void of that connection that links all living creatures to cosmic laws, both macrocosmic and microcosmic. The missing link is what separates the clay-born from the fire-born. I essentially wrote this song for criminals, sociopaths, psychopaths, invalids, outcasts, degenerates and lunatics of this secular world, who are raping the very tenets of godhood, thereby becoming gods themselves.

Likewise, what is “Shahenshah” about? References I found mention a Bollywood superhero! It’s a very cool song by the way, nice guitar solo there!

“Shahenshah” is a word that derives from Avestan meaning power and command, corresponding to the Sanskrit word kshatriya (warrior). The full, Old Persian title of the Achaemenid rulers of the First Persian Empire was King of Kings. It was a title of the utmost reverence, respect, adulation and fear for a lord above all. Of course, in our paradigm that is a direct reference to Lucifer / Shiva / Loki / Set / Pan, etc. This song is an all-encompassing piece about the Lord of the Left Hand Path and His ethereal decree upon and beyond the universe.

Anything else you want to share?

That’s all for now. All pertinent Weapon information can be found at www.weaponchakra.com.

Marduk brings black metal juggernaut to Empire

Marduk and friends played Empire in Springfield, Virginia on February 20. Here are my general impressions of this crushing juggernaut of sound that is probably coming to a town near you.

First off, it was grim and frostbitten outside and waiting in line for even two minutes was excruciating. I got in line at about 5:45 and doors did not open until after 6 p.m. Strangely, the first band had already started playing to a practically empty room. Empire, why do you do this stupid shit?

The first group Helgardh are from Bluefield, West Virginia. They performed in full corpse paint and presented very traditional old school style black metal. They sounded solid, especially the vocals, and I would have been happy to have seen their entire set. I didn’t notice any merchandise or demos at the merch table. But since they are regional, it’s likely I will get another chance to see them.

Next up was Deathwolf from Sweden, founded by Marduk’s Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson  who plays bass for this group. Musically the group was entertaining but I found the songs uninspired. I felt like I was watching a really competent biker bar band that might appear on an episode of Sons of Anarchy. The vocals were really strong though. Unfortunately, I was just not into the genre they were playing. They did seem to have a small following in the audience.

The Foreshadowing, a gothic metal group from Italy took the stage next, after what seemed like an unnecessarily long sound check. Again, the musicianship was excellent, but if I want to listen to the black metal version of Depeche Mode I will just listen to…um, no…I will just listen to Depeche Mode.  This band’s work has been nominated for all kinds of awards, so apparently people like them, but I find it incredibly hard to comment on a band that did not excite me. If I met them, I would say, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Inquisition from Colombia/Seattle was the main reason I drove 70 + miles in rush hour traffic to this show on a weekday night, and I was very excited to see them perform. They did not disappoint. There is something hypnotic about the way the drums, Dagon’s guitar and his reptilian-affected vocals come together, and I think the rest of the audience could feel it. I had watched several YouTube videos of live Inquisition shows and none that remember can capture the real deal. They sounded great, they looked great and they got everyone revved up! They played one of my favorite songs, Cosmic Invocation Rites. Evening complete.

Portugal’s Moonspell like to sing about werewolves, apparently.  At one point, I think the singer howled. I don’t know, whatever they were singing about, I thought they were really good. They also fall roughly into the category of gothic metal, but they exude so much aggression and power that it feels more like melodic black metal to me. The band interacted well with the audience, who seemed to love them. I would go see them again.

Marduk arrived on stage about 30 minutes later than the set times indicated, which made me realize that I was not going to be able to stay for their entire set.  (Some people have to work in the morning.)  The last (and first) time I saw Marduk was at the former Sonar in Baltimore. During that show, which was held on a Saturday night, the entire room was packed and quickly turned into a mosh pit. This show seemed to lack that level of vigor. Should we expect black metallaers to throw down on any night of the week? Heck it was only 11 p.m.  There was some moshing, but for the most part the audience was pretty inert. I think, although I obviously can’t get inside his head, that vocalist Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén was really frustrated by the lethargy. At one point I felt like he was chastising the audience for not being more metal or something.  At any rate, the sound for Marduk was horrible compared to how it had been for the other bands. From where I was standing I could  hear the bass and drums pretty well but the vocals were overwhelming. I could not hear Morgan at all, which was why I love Marduk.  So I moved to his side of the room. Better, but still pretty bad. So sad, I was. I can always listen to them on CD.

This was the very first day of Marduk’s second North American trip in support of their latest recording Serpent Sermon. I know the first few shows of a long tour are kind of like dress rehearsals, a chance to work out all the kinks and get things right for “more important” shows like Saturday night’s appearance in New York.  Still I thought all the bands brought their A-game to  Empire. I was annoyed that the sound didn’t work out for Marduk and was only just a little bored by a couple of the bands I wasn’t into. But at least I finally got to see Inquisition, who blew my mind, and I enjoyed Moonspell, who played the Barge to Hell cruise last December.

The rest of the dates for Marduk’s tour are listed below. After that, they take a little break and start their summer shows in Europe.

February 21 Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance
February 22 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
February 23 New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
February 24 Montreal, QC @ Club Soda
February 25 Toronto, ON @ Wreck Room
February 26 Millvale, PA @ Mr. Small’s Theatre
February 27 Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
February 28 Saint Paul, MN @ Station 4
March 1 Winnipeg, MB @ Osborne Village Inn
March 2 Regina, SK @ The Exchange
March 3 Edmonton, AB @ Pawn Shop
March 4 Calgary, AB @ TBC
March 5 Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre
March 6 Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
March 7 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
March 8 Oakland, CA @ Oakland Opera House
March 9 Los Angeles, CA @ The Vex
March 10 Tempe, AZ @ 910 Live
March 11 Albuquerque, NM @ TBC
March 12 Dallas, TX @ Tomcats West
March 13 San Antonio, TX @ Korova
March 15 Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
March 16 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade

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