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Caught In A Mosh: October 2009

| September 30, 2009

The Seven Wonders


Planet Metal can do no wrong. Fifteen months after launching, founder Chris Black (Superchrist, Pharaoh) has yet to put his label’s logo on a bad or even so-so album. Everything is gold. O.K., I haven’t heard PM001, Sentenced‘s “The Glow Of 1000 Suns/ Amok Run” 7-inch, but PM002 through PM007 are scalding. Wastelander‘s Wardrive was the label’s first full-length, and it’s a catchy-as-fuck mix of punk, thrash, and black metal. Zuul‘s “Air Raid/On The Run” 45 is a slab of throwback NWOBHM awesomeness (Zuul’s full-length, Out Of Time, arrives next month, and the Carbondale band plays Red Line Tap November 28th).

Kommandant’s Stormlegion is plain terrifying. Metal Fire From Hell is the only North American release by Japanese speed-metal act Hellhound, and Harbinger‘s (part of the crusty Lansing, Michigan scene that spawned Summon, Wastelander, Sauron, and Dark Psychosis) Doom On You is one of the best metal records this year. A label is doing something right when Nachtmystium (a reissue of 2004’s Demise with two Ildjarn covers) is its lowest-profile release.

Rotting Corpse Records proudly waves the metal flag from Chicago, too, though its output is more hit and miss, as a trio of spring/summer releases proved. It’s hard to understand why Templar is even on the label. RC prides itself in a dedication to extreme and underground metal, but this glammy, theatrical Australian band is a step away from Dope. At least Edsel Dope can sorta sing, though. That’s more than Templar frontman Dan Yohan offers, making the redeeming qualities few and far between on Dark Circus. Whorrid and Urn – two Chicago acts – are far better representations of the label. Whorrid offers little, if anything, new to death metal on Time Heals Nothing, but few bands do nowadays. Conviction is enough to please most fanatics, and the intent behind material like “American Graveyard” and “Pain Within” can’t be questioned. The purpose behind “bonus track” “Lap Dance,” a clumsy, industrial instrumental can be questioned, though. The best of the Rotting Corpse bunch is Urn’s Scribblings Of A Forgotten Soul. Folkish, symphonic metal isn’t indigenous to Chicago, which gives Urn a completely uninhabited place in the scene. Frontman/guitarist/songwriter Dominic St. Charles isn’t a great singer, nor does the album’s prison-riot concept always work, but he has an amazing knack for melody (“No Man’s Land”) and drama (“Hero Worship”).

OUT NOW: What the hell happened to 3 Inches Of Blood? That question is posed in the best possible way because Here Waits Thy Doom (Century Media) is glorious. The band’s catalog up to this? Not so much. 3IOB has been a band I’ve wanted to get into (loves me some sword-swinging, ale-swilling, and witch-hunting ) but never did because of, well, shitty music and all. Doom, however. is what the Canadian group strived for on past albums, though, ironically, it features zero original members. Coincidence? Either way, Cam Pipes now handles all vocal duties, and it’s a big improvement over his prior two-pronged attack with Jamie Hooper. Pipes’ falsetto can be too much at times, but no more than Hooper’s “rough” vocals were on older material. Not to kick a dude while he’s down (Hooper’s absence is due to throat problems and was supposed to be temporary, but he’s no longer listed on 3IOB’s Myspace page), though the band is far more capable of scream-along, fist-in-the-air, anthems (“Battles And Brotherhood,” “Rock In Hell,” Preacher’s Daughter”) sans Hooper’s screech. Two years ago people were calling 3IOB the new Judas Priest, which was (and is) ludicrous. But at least now comparisons to Priest, Mercyful Fate, and Accept aren’t completely unjustified . . . What the hell happened to Shadows Fall? That question is posed in the worst possible way because Retribution (Everblack Industries) is b-o-r-i-n-g. Six years ago I thought the Shads, not Lamb Of God, would be the big “breakthrough” band. After all, Shadows Fall’s 2002 and 2004 releases, The Art Of Balance and The War Within, were better than either of L.O.G.’s pre-major label efforts (New American Gospel and As The Palaces Burn). But in 2007, after L.O.G. recorded the album of its career (Sacrament), Shadows Fall got its shot at the big leagues with Atlantic and went limp. Threads Of Life wasn’t a bad album as much as just a watered-down version of all its other records. No longer a member of the Atlantic roster, the group sounds hungry again on “Still I Rise” and “Embrace Annihilation,” but the formula (how many acoustic interludes do you really need?) remains the same. And lame.

CURTAIN CALL: The Pearl Room is no more. The Mokena concert venue closed its doors for good in late August. Though it hosted many a good tour, there were lots of things to dislike about PR, chief among them the meathead security infamous for mistreating fans and musicians alike. Exodus frontman Rob Dukes stopped his band midsong at a February ’08 show to argue with guards about their rough tactics in dealing with people breaking the no-stagediving rule, and shit really hit the fan late last year when Macabre‘s Holiday Of Horrors show was cut short after Maggot Twat bassist Spam was allegedly assaulted by security over a spilt drink. The guards involved were fired, but the incident left a big ol’ mustard stain on Pearl Room’s reputation. A former member of the club’s management team told “Mosh” the security staff’s “take no shit” attitude eventually drove away customers.

Talent buyer Frank Mastalerz of FM Entertainment is one of the few people in the operation who deserves credit. He may have erred by booking shows that stood no chance of filling a 2,200-capacity venue (after Pearl Room closed, Doro‘s September show was moved to the 200-capacity Nite Cap, for instance, and this month’s Gojira gig to the 700-ish Logan Square Auditorium), but he did so in an attempt to establish Pearl Room’s reputation as a must-play metal club. His dedication to fans was genuine, which must have made it tough to see management do things like funnel shows that didn’t sell 200 advance tickets from Pearl Room to Capone’s, an inferior room – in every way – next door. This wasn’t like going from Riviera to the Vic, but like Metro to a Y.M.C.A. video arcade – no sight lines, a tiny stage barely a foot off the ground, and terrible sound. To top it off, concert goers were given no advance warning, but still paid Pearl Room prices.

Thankfully, Mastalerz and Future Entertainment continue to book heavy metal shows throughout Chicagoland, and that’s a good thing for the scene, a scene that will ultimately be better served without Pearl Room.

— Trevor Fisher

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Category: Caught In A Mosh, Columns, Monthly

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