Friday, July 30, 2010

High on Fire, Priestess, Skeletonwitch @ Time to Laugh, Kingston, ON

July 21, 2010
When I first heard this show was coming to Kingston, I simultaneously came, shit my pants and suffered a minor heart attack. And that lasted for a good couple days. We're talking High on Fire playing a club show within a half hour drive from my front door. It doesn't get much better than that. Oh but wait! Look at the support! I knew it was gonna be a good time.
Thrashtastic rippage from Skeletonwitch started things off (well, for me. I missed the local opener) much to the crowd's delight. Between tunes, throat-shredding vocalist Chance Garnette engaged the crowd. He praised "old school fucking heavy metal!!", saluted the beer drinkers at the back, admonished the dudes standing cross-armed for being "too tough to have fun at a metal show," and implored Kingston to, until they return, "eat more fucking pussy!"  I'm glad my mom wasn't there. Performance wise, no disappointments. Well, I did wanna see them play "At One With The Shadows" but they only had a half hour set. I'm sure it woulda been the next song. Black/death thrash doesn't lend itself to much jamming per se so they kept pretty much to playing the songs as heard in recorded form. Which is to say, tight, precise and catchy. It was a half hour of fist pumpin, horn throwin, neck snappin, good times. They said they should be back around sometime in November. Sweet.
I own Priestess's first album, Hello Master but for some reason I never bothered with their second, Prior to the Fire. Until that is, I knew they were coming to town. I checked it out. It's good too! If you like catchy, 70's-ish hard rock. So upon realizing that I liked most of their tunes I was a little more excited to see the live show. Like Skeletonwitch before them, they played a tight set. They weren't flyin' all over the stage like the bands that bookended them but it was still high energy. Of course, they played their biggest hit, "Lay Down" as featured on Guitar Hero. And to my approval they played "Lady Killer". The first track off their newest album. However, I did miss a bit of it due to a very much needed pit stop. During their set they had a screen behind them showing some pretty trippy flowing images. Eventhough they wouldn't really be considered stoner rock, it really worked. The exploding blood cell and the psychedelic burning school bus were the highlights in my opinion. I didn't have very high expectations for Priestess but they exceeded what I did have. They impressed me enough that if the Montrealers were to come back as a headliner, I'll come out again.
High on Fire. High on Fucking Fire! In Kingston! I thought I would never see the day. One of my all-time favourite bands playing a small club basically right down the road. I was far from disappointed. It was incredible! One of the best performances I have ever seen. Guitar god Matt Pike, bass master Jeff Matz, and drummer extraordinaire Des Kensel were at the top of their game. The energy in the club was crazy. And it seemed the band really fed off that. Especially Matz. He put everything out there and left nothing behind. (except the setlist. I nabbed that.) Did I mention he uses his fingers? No pick. Right on! Every time I listen to a High on Fire album I marvel at how Matt Pike is able to play those guitar parts and sing at the same time. And still, after witnessing it in person, literally in my face, I still can't believe it. You add into that the seemingly effortless, room-shaking drumming of Kensel and you have an unstoppable force. A 10 tonne fucking Nuclear-power trio. The only other time I've seen HoF live was on the first SOTU tour. It was in some big warehouse type thing in Mississauga. There were a couple thousand people there. And it had a totally different feel. No comparison to the intimacy of a small club. I don't live near a major market and I don't get to see as many bands as I want to so seeing a band this big (in the underground) at a venue this small was really something special for me. As I said earlier, I grabbed the setlist. Spoiler Alert!! The set consisted of a really nice mix of old and new. Feel free to correct me ( I am HORRIBLE with song titles) but the only album not represented was The Art of Self Defense. I was kinda hoping they'd play "10,000 Years" but I'm not complaining. Anyway, here's the setlist.
Fire, Flood and Plague
How Dark We Pray (It was awesome!)
Hung, Drawn and Quartered
Rumors of War
Blood from Zion
Snakes for the Divine
Sweet set, eh? Granted, they could fill an hour with any collection of songs and I'd fuckin' love it. I was some kinda sweaty when it was all said and done. And it wasn't all my sweat. I am 99% sure some of Matt Pike's sweat dripped on me. (Yes, I've showered) I was headbanging like crazy and expected to be in an assload of pain the next day but it was really quite mild. I've been in more pain from sitting at my computer too long. Maybe Skeletonwitch and High on Fire just taught me how to do it properly!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

FUCK! I wish I could listen to music while I worked!

But I can't. However, I can email blog entries. The problem is, the details get lost between the breakroom and the floor. But I'm gonna do my best because I am FUCKING bored as shit and it's about 4am. I tried to read some Alice Bailey but I can't wrap my brain around that shit at this time of day/night. So, here's some stuff I've heard lately and whether or not I thought it sucked.

Integrity - The Blackest Curse: This is what I like about hardcore. Good hardcore comes from the gut and is loaded with passion. The vocals are too low in the mix though.

Defeatist: This is some angry shit. Abrasive as all get-out. Having a bad day? Throw this shit on and break some stuff. You'll feel better in no time.

Howl - Full of Hell: There was a lot of hype around this release. IMO it was warranted. It's like a giant marching thru the countryside leaving nothing but havoc in his wake.

Ozzy - Scream: Um, not as horrible as I had expected.

I'm too tired to think anymore.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Malebolgia - Requiem for the Inexorable

After listening to Howl before this, Malebolgia is quite the stylistic shift. While Howl lumbers, Malebolgia races. Fast and brutal death metal. At this point, I'm not really sure whether I like it or not. It's not bad really, but I don't know if it's really my style. The vocals are on the verge of pig squeel and seem amatuerish at times. The guitars are very precise but not very inspiring. The drums are ridiculous. In a good and bad way. They're probably the best part of the album but they are pretty over the top. All speed, all the time. The bass drums have to be triggered. If not, the dude needs genetic testing. To have fast-twitch muscle fibres that developed and that kind of endurance, he'd have to be a mutant. Given the speed of the snare sometimes (likely triggered too) my money is on half-hummingbird.
 Requiem for the Inexorable was an enjoyable listen but nothing that's gonna rise to the death metal heap.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Speaking of Smashing Pumpkins...

In my previous post I mentioned Smashing Pumpkins. It reminded me of a post (or at least a tweet) I wanted to publish a couple weeks ago. Here goes. I have an old van. It has a tape player. Sometimes I'll pick up tapes for a buck at a thrift store. The latest one I snagged was Smashing Pumpkins - Melancholy & The Infinite Sadness. I want my buck back. Correct me if I'm wrong but the CD version had 2 discs right? Well, there is only one tape. And it sucks. It's like they took every song with balls and dropped them. "Zero" and "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" are on it but that's about it. ("Tonight, Tonight" isn't all bad) It's so wimpy and slow and soft and horrible to fight through. I didn't recognize any of the songs so to get to the 2 afoementioned songs that I wanted to hear I had to listen to the rest of them. The tape started right AFTER "Bullet".

It's almost as much a waste of a dollar as the "digital cassette" version of Nirvana - Nevermind that I bought.  I should have taken that one out of the case and looked at it. Digital cassettes are not the same as tape and do not play in regular tape players.  I also bought a tape (can't even remember who know) but inside was a blank tape with a Scorpions album on it. FUCK! I learned my lesson.

Deftones - Diamond Eyes

I like my music aggressive. It doesn't have to be brootal or violent, just aggressive. i.e. No sissy vocals. But guess what, you're gonna find "sissy vocals" on a Deftones record. But in no way am I calling Chino Moreno a sissy. No way. Chino is just one hell of a vocalist. He can tear your ears new assholes as witnessed on "Rocket Skates" (Guns! Razors! Knives!). And he can make a song sensitive and emotional without sounding like a whiny emo (insert derogatory term of choice here). It's that balance that makes Diamond Eyes so great. Don't get me wrong, if these dude choose to just rip for a whole album, I'd be all over it. But that's not how they roll.
At times parts of the album remind of Filter, at times old-school Deftones and on "Sextape" it feels like are channeling their inner Smashing Pumpkins. And that just happens to be the song that gets stuck in my head most. Which is saying a lot because this record is ridiculously catchy. I've listened to 3 bands today since I listened to Diamond Eyes this morning and I can remember almost nothing about them. (Fleshgod Apocalypse, The Funeral Pyre and Hour of Penance if you're wondering) It think "Sextape" is permanently burned onto my brain.
I haven't listened to Deftones in a long time. At one time I could play all of Around the Fur on bass. But I don't recall being that fond of their post-White Pony output. However, after listening to Diamond Eyes a dozen times makes we want to dig out the old CDs and rekindle that flame. I might even dig out my old White Pony t-shirt. I might need a whole day for that though. Ah well, I'll just listen to Diamond Eyes while I search!