I brought along my buddy Chris, who is rather new to slam and interested in learning more about it, who brought his girlfriend along. Also in attendance was another good friend who left somewhat early during the show in order to get reasonable sleep for the start of his work-week (wimp). Anyway, although Chris is very willing to delve further into slam, his girlfriend was previously unaware of our lovely genre, but I think the show might have been a good conversion for her. The venue was the Cambridge Elks Lodge on Bishop Allen Drive, and we thought it was supposed to open at 5, but it turned out the doors were at 6, and, indeed, when we arrived at 5:05, the bands hadn't even shown up to load in yet. So in true time-wasting fashion, we hit up one of the best local bars (Lord Hobo, of course) in the area and returned to the scene, where a massive crowd of dudes in black shirts was pouring in to the shoddy basement. Oh yeah, awesome setting for a slam event! Extremely ratty and run-down looking, this Elks Lodge has clearly seen better days, but these seedy environs would soon prove themselves worthy of a true beatdown.
Parasitic Extirpation was first up, and I was surprised to see Mallika of Abnormality grab the mic and begin to do her check along with the other members. Didn't know she was doing vocals for them these days but, then again, I don't really pay as much attention as I used to, admittedly. The band only played about 20 minutes (5 or so songs), but they were surprisingly good. I remember I had some criticism about their Knee Deep in Disease EP from way back in the day (2008, for the S-M OGs among you all), but overall, I didn't find the release bad, and tonight they were in rare form with big, pit-opening slams, Mallika tearing through the crowd while vocalizing all manner of ugliness and perversion, and fantastic drumming. The biggest letdown for this band were the absolutely stupid, pointless wanky solos that pervaded every single song with pretentious bullshit shredding. I hate crap like this; one second I'm listening to a great slam, then all the power is just sucked out and wasted on a song-dividing solo that doesn't improve the music in any meaningful way. Definitely looked like he was just playing them cuz they felt "cool", not because they were actually supportive of the songs. Also, the vocal mixing was poor, and could have been tweaked to make Mallika much louder, as she was fairly quiet and, though she looked powerful doing her thing, not much of that power was sonically conveyed. Then again, when I've seen Abnormality before, it's been almost the same kind of deal, so I don't know. Regardless, pretty great slams when they were happening, very varied and interesting drum-work, solid playing in spite of distracting solos, and very heavy, brutal sound. They got me moving several times, so that's cool, as I feel like I'm pretty slam-jaded in some ways.
Condemned... this band and I have an interesting past, one that happens to have begun with quarrel, though it led to eventual contentment. As one of those curmudgeonly people who found Desecrate the Vile to be an intensely tiring, one-dimensional release of boring slam-and-blast blur, I recall approaching Realms of the Ungodly with trepidation, both because the art and change in aesthetic direction seemed really cool and I was worried about them screwing it up, and because longer songs in the same style brought on a bit of a bitter taste. Luckily, they switched up their playing style a little bit, injecting some great atmosphere, and a lot of these aspects came together just great live. Angel's vocals were powerful and brutal, though a bit less gurgly/goofy than on albums, which was a disappointment. Forrest was blasting away intensely for the majority of the set, as they tackled most of the songs on Realms... (somehow leaving out "Submerged unto Phlegethon", which was just lame and unfortunate in my opinion... maybe something to do with the fact that another Phlegethon was there; Wormed's vocalist!), with a few from Desecrate... for good measure. Those were fine in the flesh, which I was satisfied with; I had a distinct feeling they would be, as their blurry and straightforward style works a lot better when you're not picking everything apart like with an album review. One of the best things about Condemned is that their slams are very unpredictable and often switch halfway through to a blasting section or similar change-up that can convincingly bewilder many troglodytic spinkickers in the pit, as was observed somewhat often during the entirety of their set. The slightly manipulative nature of their music worked very well in this basement-like atmosphere, and they had really great, heavy sound that filled the whole room. Angel was funny with his overwhelmed, end-of-tour banter between songs (my favorite moments included calling Infernal Revulsion "Infernal Convulsion", laughing and correcting himself, as well as when he couldn't read his own writing on the setlist attached to one of the cabinets and announced the wrong song before catching himself and commenting on it hurriedly), and you could tell he was just trying to bang songs out without much delay. It worked well with the hurried, semi-sloppy way the songs can appear to be constructed, especially apparent when Forrest's kick rolls or gravity blasts would go on just slightly too long or not long enough. Pretty killer set here, though I wish I had been closer for it.
|oh yeah I got Condemned's setlist too, fuck yeah|