VomitmantiK/Hellcrash/Goat Vomit Noise/Slaughter Messiah @ Freakout club

I’ve probably never seen as many concerts in a row as I did the last couple of months (at least after 2004), which is especially strange because I’ve also begun to appreciate them again whereas for years the titanic battle between couch and pain in the ass in the car had always ended in favor of the former. To be fair, all the last few concerts I saw had a percentage of interesting bands above 50 percent, and at least something to see on stage in terms of set design and presence. The night of Saturday was among them, with an interesting surprise as well. Usual urban location with a handful of scattered headbangers, a low turnout but unfortunately it was to be expected.

VomitmantiK

I will not spend many words on the wild and ferocious horde that is VOMITMANTIK because they recently released the CD on the label (allow me an invitation to buy a copy though), except that it was the first time I had seen them live outside of a rehearsal room. The keyword definition here is crude barbarity. VomitmantiK is a rough embryo that draws its strength from being primitive, from that atavistic, primal ferocity that embodies the instincts of the woods, the totemic bloodlust of ferocious beasts that feed on carcasses and entrails. Hammer and nails: simple tools for channeling instinct into massive, direct songs. Powerful and raw, as the genre must be.

Hellcrash

Here is where the evening took an unpredictable direction. I was imagining yet another Australian-like nostalgia product that might end up on the endless roster of photocopy bands on Iron Bonehead or Unspeakable Axe, but on the contrary, things went in a totally different direction. I had heard a few of their songs on the fly online in the past and was not particularly impressed, even after a quick review in the last few days to see if anything had changed.

Seeing HELLCRASH live, however, has been an entirely different matter. This group rocked the stage to fucking splinters. Even if my infatuation with thrash/speed metal wore off fast around 1992 when the genre had lost that raw polish that made albums by bands like Whiplash, Razor or Rigor Mortis timeless classics that still give me the sudden rush of twenty energy drinks, and honestly never came back despite various more or less pathetic revivals (don’t get me started on Earache bands). Yet, evidently, the magic in the genre is not gone forever because Hellcrash’s set was devastating. The arena that somewhat encapsulates all the obvious influences is Possessed and Venom but within the continuous shredding coexisted instances of Blood Feast, Exciter, Sadus, early Whiplash etc. It’s interesting to witness how simple things always work, at the end of the day you never get tired of eating bread after all. Square and precise, textbook stage presence, studs and leather, a drummer who crashed the skins like a poacher clubbing a baby seal, Becerra/Cronos-esque throaty vocals, spread-legged headbanging, and everything else that could serve the cause. If they pass through your area, don’t miss their show.

Goat Vomit Noise

GOAT VOMIT NOISE, on the other hand, is a very strange beast. If the first two bands took you into the comfort zone, here we are talking about somebody that manages to put together a unique compositional style even if clearly inspired in spurts by this or that other sound, a bit like what happened in the days of NEFAS, when you knew exactly the language, but could not recognize the words. The concert was airless the whole time, there is not a moment of melody or breathing in the whole set. It’s a bit like walking through some post-apocalyptic, gray, lifeless urban scenery, gasping for some air or fresh water. I had listened to some interesting things online before, but let me say that after witnessing this set I now believe that speaking of Black Metal this is one of the ten most interesting bands we have in this country right now. Having a look at the performance on stage, once again, allowed me to box the view into a whole different perspective. Goat Vomit Noise’s world has no color or hope. It is a finite, bleak black granite wasteland where the only life left is armored and covered with fangs. It is indeed an experience to follow the monolithic, inescapable flow through GVN’s circles of lifeless hell. Excellent.

Slaughter Messiah

I took no pictures of Slaughter Messiah because I left the room halfway through the first song. Uninspired, boring, and derivative second-grade black/thrash with riffs so overcooked and overdone you could grate parmesan on them and cook everything in the oven the day after an hangover. This is the kind of band I was mentioning above, that adds nothing to the music world. Which was doubly weird since they were headliners too. All form, no meat. Nice packaging and merch, but apart from that, there was nothing substantial to sink your teeth into.

Mythos demo 1993 on CD/LP/MC

Nuclear Winter records just announced a new pressing of the 1993 MYTHOS demo that was released back in 2009 on vinyl for the first time. This time you can also get in on CD and tape formats as well. I seldom publish this kind of news but old Mythos was so incredibly good they deserve some extra visibility if I can somehow help promote this old material.

Uraniavore Goatphago / VomitVulva / Sadomortuary, the (almost) perfect 2.0 post-pandemic gig

I’ve been working in IT most of my life and I am not extraneous to the concept of hacking which sounds better than “anally drilling out the reasons why some experiences do work while some others fail”. Yesterday’s concert was actually a big win for me and I will try to understand why did it work so well, and ultimately consider if this is the right dimension for post-pandemic shows.

My old friend Paolo from Coagulated rex bundled the ultimate Black Metal lineup for the night by sewing three top-tier barbwire unholy monstrosities with as much stage presence as infernal sound. Does this ring Black Metal, anyone?

The show was closed to random people, factually restricting the invitations to those actually interested in the show, which was partly a bureaucratic decision but nonetheless a strong message I could relate to, akin to what we did with the Nuclear the Abominations fest 2 years ago. The venue was small and clean, with astoundingly decent toilets, which is something I am graciously obsessed with: THANK you for letting me piss and shit without being hauled in a dimension out of Kapala-Tetragrammacide lyrics minus the aliens. Also, the beer served was quite good and not the usual shitty carbonated dishwasher water you get in bigger venues for ridiculous prices, which is another big thumb up.

On the downside, if I had to find a major flaw in the evening the overall sound was tragically confused. Given the chaotic nature of the music, the result was a giant wall of slurred noise in which basically you couldn’t understand half a shit. Which – at the end of the day – could have been far more tragic if the three bands had not been able to create that kind of suffocating atmosphere of combat shock: the fixed red lights, the stage set, the putrid energy reverberating in the air was really the perfect storm.

So was the shitty sound so much of a problem? Hell NO. Because Black Metal is never about the single riff, it’s about the overall EXPERIENCE. You listen to a Profanatica record, close your eyes and you’re taken to hell. But what about a show? Is it the same as listening to the same record at home? Nope. You go to a show to live some first-person experience and here I am answering myself from the latest grognard posts. Shows like the one I attended yesterday are the reason why shows DO actually still make sense today. It’s not just the music. You get a completely new dimension, like a 4-D cinema when you see something like that. You’re literally submerged in the music, INTO the songs. Eyes, ears, and skin, all harmonically convey the same message. It’s being alive and part of what’s going on in the moment. So no, the sound, shitty as it was, was just a part of the whole.

The second flaw one could point out is that everybody already knew each other, so it was basically a high-school meeting with band shirts. But is that a problem? Did the decision of a private party actually bar anyone from attending? Did id lack in (AH AH AH) “Inclusivity”? Well, you bet it did, ah ah. And you know what? Fuck it! Not because we’re elite, but because selecting dedicated people led to a perfectly balanced night where everyone was accountable for himself and his friends. Which is cool, because it did not really actually bar anybody to come, it just put some first-level funneling into the process. The people that were invited in turn consciously invited other people, there was a first-level connection with at least someone in the show, and I am certain if someone new to this music wanted to attend, nobody would have raised any objections. Despite what one might think, this is an open, welcoming environment, if you’re not a cunt. So no, this second objection doesn’t really work either.

Yesterday’s show was like being catapulted into Jacob’s Ladder under Pervitin.

Uraniavore Goatphago have been the first shock of the horrors of war when adrenaline first hits the brain. VomitVulva were the slaughter in the trenches, where shrapnel made your friends’ limbs fly and covered you in guts. Sadomortuary took the souls of the dead to hell, while the bodies afield were eaten by mutant Armageddon cannibals.

Uraniavore Goatphago

First time I see the awesome Uraniavore Goatphago and I was blown away bt the sheer static barbarity this duo manages to compress on stage. It’s the kind of brutal primitive violence of late Deranged turned black by the Blasphemachine. Horrific noise wall vibrating destruction.

VomitVulva

VomitVulva were the perfect choice to jump from the solid berm of the Uraniavore Goatphago directly into the thick of the carnage. The stage was filled with something that looked more like a narcos squad than a group of musicians. A chaotic mass of riffs, profanity, STDs, and shitty booze. This is what you need when you have to tie together the show.

Sadomortuary

And then, it was Sadomortuary again. The effluvia of the crypt solidified on stage like Ossorio’s blind dead at dawn. If we take away the new hipster nuance of the term “ritualistic”, it would be the right one to describe the interminable minutes of inevitable hooded DEATH that were punctuated by the band that in my opinion best represents Black Metal in this country today.

I don’t have much more to add, I hope that this evening will set a school and that there may be more such evenings. If so, I will gladly go back and get my bloated old ass out of the door.

Felsina Deathfeast, May 2022

An occasion like any other, after all, to get off my ass and get out of these four walls, even if lately even what once seemed like a regular weekend gives me the impression of being wrapped in a strange state of unreality.

About half an hour’s drive from the sewer where I live, this little concert was held with seven (in the end, due to bureaucratic problems, they ought to be six) bands, four of which would have been English-speaking (USA, UK, Australia, I already have a headache just thinking about the salad of accents).

As it happens, it was also an opportunity to take the cathartic satisfaction of seeing that the other old farts I’ve been sharing drinks with for thirty-plus years at concerts have aged as much as I have. The shows at the Freakout club generally share an incredibly urban imprint, at the same time homely and vaguely decadent, which I really like. The punk cesspool that opened nearby might not have been a blessing for the ease of parking, but more people mean more opportunities so maybe it was not for the worse.

Skulld

This is a band that puts me in a weird condition of indefiniteness. I never actually heard of them before so I was completely tabula rasa and without particular expectations, I was however hooked a minute into the first song by among the most interesting brutal Swedish Death songwriting I have heard on Italian ground, really the band set could have been impressive if it wasn’t butchered by an awfully terrible vocalist. I tried to selectively filter out the vocals in my mind and focused on the instruments and well, top-notch stuff in there. But those annoying wailings are there, nonetheless.

Honestly, it has nothing to do with stage presence. Profanal to name the first relatable band that comes to mind, did a fantastic job on the same ground. It is just a matter of lacking punch and anger – unforgivable in extreme metal – misplaced vocal lines – again, not in the early Kataklysm kind of craziness – and a general sense that the whole vocal track was taken out from another record. Someone might know that my musical background is way more rooted in punk and USHC than classic metal so no, I can’t tell it’s a matter of personal preference either. Replace the singer with somebody that can ROAR and we’d have a top-tier band that could easily be placed in a Stockholm 1991 playlist.

Hateful

Watching Hateful last week made me seriously consider the essence of time. Hand they come out in 1992 this is a band that today would be signed to Road-fucking-runner touring the world with some other 50-something musicians that ran out of ideas 25 years ago (or instead of them). But here they are keeping the true spirit of doing things PROPERLY, focusing in detail on lyrics, artwork, musicianship and everything else a professional band cares for. Despite a small stage accident and indecent sound, they managed to play flawlessly as usual, their own brand of traditional US-influenced early ’90’s Death Metal.

Thinking about it in hindsight, we are still talking about a genre that for a number of bands tending to zero is a source of something more than a weekend hobby, playing with heart despite it being just a huge (expensive) hobby is accepting the dimension of our era. Hateful is the band we still don’t deserve.

Cryptic Shift

Cryptic Shift has been a pleasant surprise, one of the few bands I have seen lately that manages to pull out something different from the usual Incantation clone with dripping logos drawn by Indonesian artists for a couple of rice bowls.

They might have been lucky in that their writing is quite clean but of all the bands that played that day they have been in my opinion the only ones for which I could actually discern what was going on. They have this surprisingly interesting chemistry that creates a lurid mix of horror and Death Metal, malignant vocals sometimes reminding of early Disharmonic Orchestra, but with more emphasis on the horrific sonorities. Most of the best Death Metal actually was created by reimagining horror movie soundtracks with brutal distortions, so it’s not a surprise everything here works so well. They sometimes go over the top Gorguts dissonance but just when you are about to get annoyed they twist and get back on track. Interesting job, I won’t buy a record but it works.

Bedsore

I have talked about this band before and I stand my case. Despite an unexplainable decade of mediocrity during the ’90s Rome has been pushing forward extremely skilled musicians and awesomely competent bands for 20 years in a row now, including these Bedsore which fall into an uncomfortable spot of technical almost space-wave-metal. Let me be honest, I don’t like them and I didn’t like their show but you must be deaf if you don’t concede this band can write an album that is a long intricate voyage through violet cosmos. Part Death Metal part prog insanity a la Oxiplegatz, their show was a cosmic trip woven on strings of etherealness and raspy vocals. Not my cup of tea, and the sound was utter shit, but a good choice for people that like to get lost in twisting chords.

Haunter

Could be three bands in a row with the same alternating “post” dissonance/arpeggio shifts are a bit too much for me, could be the place was so full I could not breathe, but I kinda skipped this set altogether. I am not the greatest freak for original ideas but I have heard half a gazillion songs in the last decade that combine the same elements over and over I feel nauseated as if I ate a bucket of white chocolate. Roar – solo – arpeggio – dissonant rewind – burst – dissonance, was fun for a while but I am full, thanks.

Suffering Hour

Profound Lore mates just like Haunter this band toys with the same ingredients but adds a pinch or two of out-of-place melancholic craziness typical of a certain breed of the late ’90s psych-core I did not entirely disdain back then. Still boring in a post-industrial way, I am beginning to understand that those who listen to this genre in recent years are looking for precisely this formula made of cold harmonies that can be traced back to an indefinite fusion of sounds associated with Black Metal and industrial. Once again we are out of my field, too much thought for my reptile brain.

ECTOVOID (USA): “Breathing Blackness” tape 2011 Unholy Domain

I was supposed to review these releases from the great label Unholy Domain, generous sly offered as promos by the label, a long ago. Better late than never, they say, after all.

I don’t know if it’s my tape deck that it’s getting decrepit and possibly oxidized in several components, but the sound on this tape is rather bass-heavy and confused. Which might fit, being a demo (or better, a repress of a demo originally on CD-r), but I definitely need to give it a try on a different set one day.

The tracks on this cassette are quite old and represent a rather immature version of the band, who in my opinion will give their best in their debut album on Hellthrasher the following year. I haven’t really followed their releases but it seems to me that the second album is a bit underwhelming. Here, as well as in the debut, the sounds are more similar to that of a certain Swedish Death Metal a la early Therion, but it is the vocals on this demo that will really give the best in the 2012 album.

Nothing particularly exciting, but worth a listen.

Two legendary discographies in the making

A collaboration between two of the most stalwart Italian labels who in spite of everything and inexplicably manage to maintain enthusiasm for such an unprofitable genre. Despise the Sun from the capital and Terror from Hell from the northwest join forces for these two discographies (only on CD I think, for the moment) of two bands that may be little known outside the underground environment of the early 90s.

Iconoclast came from my hometown and among their various releases include a 7″ on the famous Drowned records. Inspired by the Greek and English scene of the time, they played a type of Death Metal with vaguely melodic but malevolent overtones.

On Funeral Oration there would be no need for an introduction, Nicola Curry’s of Metal Destruction zone appear on legendary covers from the time and his fanzine is still a legend for those like me who devoured every issue. He’s still active as an artist today, by the way.

Get your copies either of the labels.

https://terrorfromhellrecords.bandcamp.com/

https://despisethesunrecords.bandcamp.com/