This is the show I've been looking forward to all summer. However, it was also the show I almost didn't get to enjoy. Tickets had evidently been sold-out for weeks, which baffled me; that NEVER happens! I had also hoped to score an interview with Matt Pike for this blog, but sadly I never got a reply from his people. Ya missed out, bros! I had some good stuff cooking for you, but I understand.
I have the boys from Pallbearer to thank for my entry into the Casbah. I sat out front and asked the first group of grungy guys I spotted if they had tix. Out of sheer kindness, they made a quick call and got me on their guest list. Coolest fuckin' guys ever! Bought a shirt and left them a nice tip; if you boys are reading this, I would have gotten you guys a round of drinks, but every time I saw you, you all had a new glass. Next time!
The first band tonight was Lucifer (apparently Venomous Maximus would make it a latter date). This awesome British-German band brings the past to life. If you took a photo of them, you might mistake them for a psych rock act from the 70s. It's not even just singer Johanna Sadonis' occult themed fashion; the drummer is the spitting image of Robert Plant and the bassist is like a young Tony Iommi. If I had to compare these guys to another group, I'd have to say they're sort of a mix between Coven and Candlemass (not gonna be that guy who says "oh, they're just like Sabbath!"). Johanna's voice soars like a ghost over the dark riffs of Gaz Jennings-- who you might best know from Cathedral. Together they possess your soul and trap you under their spell. If psychedelic metal that's both familiar and fresh is your thing, then these guys had best show up in your crystal ball.
My new friends Pallbearer were up next. I had heard much about the band in the past but had not gotten the chance to hear them til this point. I had been told that they were the fresh young faces fighting to be the heirs of the doom metal kingdom.Would they live up to the hype? Well, hell yes! Pallbearer are a sonic hammer, bludgeoning you with sound so heavy and thick that only the strongest of men can hope to move. Their energy is overwhelming, yet the guys kept their composure. The audience was banging their heads and fists with intensity to match; it was almost as insane as a death metal show. Despite their weight, there is a surprising amount of melody; the band even incorporates three part vocal harmonies, which for some reason is hilarious to me. Kinda wanted them to just end a song with the three guys crooning.
Finally there was High on Fire. I've dug this band for a long time. Matt Pike is in my mind one of the most important guitarists of the past twenty-five years or so, so seeing him stride out on stage in all of his shirtless glory kinda made my jaw drop. He's kinda one of the major reasons for all new doom of these recent years. But forget the legend in my mind. The man on the stage was an absolute beast. They kicked things off with songs from their new album, including "The Black Plot" and "Carcosa". These new ditties are wildly good. "Death is this Communion" slowed things down but kept the insanity going. The craziest thing about doom shows and probably the most underrated aspect of this band is the bass. Jeff Matz is absolutely thunderous, his grooves blasting every bone in your body in perfect synchronicity with the drums and guitar. The bass vibrations were so powerful, I fear the blasts may have rendered my testicles a barren landscape. Sadly, I had to leave halfway through High on Fire's set. I had a doctor's appointment the next morning. I am still kicking myself in the ass over it, especially since I spied that the title track from Snakes for the Divine-- my favorite High on Fire album-- was on the setlist. It must have been beautiful.
If you can, definitely check these bands out on the road! High on Fire, Pallbearer, and Lucifer are definitely aural experiences you don't want to miss. I'm sure Venomous Maximus is gonna be killer too. Doom is coming your way!
Stay heavy, my friends!