Whorrid: Local opener Whorrid was…..crappy. (You thought I was going to say “horrid”, didn’t you?) Actually I guess aside from the fact that they play a worthless style of death/thrash metal, there wasn’t anything explicitly bad about their music, but after their set, the band and/or their hangers-on were annoying drunken idiots smashing into people in the crowd for the rest of the night, so it’s so it’s hard to associate them with anything but “suck”.
Epicurean: My thoughts are the same as when seeing them at the Chicago Powerfest last year: good, creative melodic death metal songs, merged with some embarrassingly bad clean vocals. And it just wasn’t the same watching them without standing next to Matt Johnsen; I hadn’t realized what depth his intentionally off-key “harmony” caterwauling added to the experience. It seems really odd to me that I band like this is signed to a “real” label like Metal Blade. I guess maybe the label figured that once they were signed they could convince them to boot their singer, but that hasn’t happened yet. Too bad, because their songwriting does seem like it could be label-worthy.
Mantic Ritual: Oh god. Speaking of odd label signings, this local-opener-type tribute-to-80s-thrash-metal band somehow tricked Nuclear Blast into signing them? Even more bizarre, the band actually forgets to play cover songs, and instead plays their creative “originals”, such as “Death and Destruction” or “Murdered to Death”. Every single element is completely backward-looking, even down to the short-bangs/long-in-back haircut (super-mullet?) of the James Hetfield actor. For thrash, the songs aren’t the worst (the guitars have some melody at least), but none of them are anywhere near what Metallica or Megadeth were doing 25 years ago, so I really don’t see the point. It’s quite a shame Novembers Doom had to drop of this tour, that would have made a whole lot more sense!
Rotting Christ: These Greeks did their first US tour in their 20+ year history last February, and for some reason, I was an idiot and was too lazy to go out and see them. This was particularly stupid because they rank pretty highly on my favorite-bands list. I own five of their albums; only for 27 of the 468 bands in my collection do I own more than that. Since they’re hardly an up-and-coming buzz-band, I figured I missed my only chance, but for some insane reason they decided to do another trek through the US less than a year later. I suppose label-financed buy-ons from the opening bands might be one reason not to curse the existence of those bands/labels? About 100 people turned up, which is actually a little more than I was expecting with $30 tickets on a day where temperatures hit -17F, but in a ballroom that could easily hold 1000, it felt pretty thin.
Still, the guys did a good job, burning through a tight setlist with a minimum of bullshit. Frontman Sakis would even do some yelling at us away from the microphone, which was an effective way to add intensity; I don’t know if he always does this, or if it’s only at places where he can actually be heard when unamplified. The set was heavily, heavily focused on their latest album ‘Theogonia’, which is just fine by me, because it could actually be the best album they’ve ever done. The combination of headbanging grooves and pervasive keyboard (piped in) and guitar melodies means that all their songs come across really well live.
Sakis was wearing a shirt that simply said “X ? ?” across the front with no other text anywhere. I saw that at their merch table, so I figured I could simultaneously support the band and have a unique shirt that would let me pretend that I was in a fraternity (I later found that would be the “666” fraternity, which just makes it more awesome). Unfortunately, the versions for sale said “Rotting Christ” on the back and the sleeves, and since I’m not that guy, I couldn’t get it. Sorry guys!