Metal Alliance Tour Featuring Behemoth, 1349 and Goatwhore Blackens Austin's Texas Independence Fest
Band Photo: Behemoth (?)
Come And Take It Productions started Texas Independence Fest in Austin as a way to bring together friends and family in a celebration of Texas. Previous years featured performances by Down, David Allan Coe, Upon a Burning Body, Dixie Witch and many more. This year's festival saw a mix of local and touring acts. Wayne Static of Static-X and We Are The Riot (members of Coal Chamber) brought familiarity to the day's acts, while The Metal Alliance Tour featuring Behemoth, 1349, Inquisition, Goatwhore and Black Crown Initiate painted the afternoon sky black.
The doors to Emo's opened at noon and I arrived around a quarter to 2 in time to catch Denton, Texas melodic death/black outfit Tarim. According to a Come And Take It personnel, Tarim won Come And Take It's battle of the bands, which landed them on this spot. Ten hours is a lot of music to take in. This was my time to coordinate interviews times, but the band, playing material from "The Philosopher King," caught my ears and kept them. They definitely deserved to be on Emo's big stage, and would have proved a tighter fit to the evening's black out.
I missed Casket of Cassandra but caught the following band, Headcrusher. Former residents of Colombia , these deathly thrashers have become a staple in Austin's metal scene. The five-piece band often plays Come And Take It Production shows commonly held at the Dirty Dog Bar. Although this was the first time I caught their act on Emo's stage, it wasn't the band's largest crowd. Festival crowds brought in several times more people than the couple hundred watching the band's mid-day performance. It doesn't matter how many people watch this group; Headcrusher played hard and aggressive. Fans of Gothenburg-style metal such as Dimension Zero, Dark Tranquility and Carnal Forge take note of Headcrusher.
Texas Independence Fest started early and ended early, so it was nice to see one of the two tours begin at mid-day. We Are The Riot, a group from L.A. featuring Coal Chamber guitarist and drummer, Miguel Rascon and Mikey Cox, and bassist Andy Cole from tour mates Static-X. The band's Facebook page lists them as "Hard Rock." Singer Jimmy Trigger commented on how the band doesn't play death metal, which made the group stand out. A few fans of Coal Chamber checked out the band, but this was still too early in the day to command a large crowd.
Static-X's Wayne Static received a warmer welcome. Part of this was due to familiarity as his solo project played Static-X hits including the entire "Wisconsin Death Trip" album. "Push It" certainly fell on open ears as did other hits "Cold" and "Destroyer." As one of the leaders of the Nu Metal movement, Wayne Static was in top form when it came to crowd banter. He called for the crowd to applaud their black t-shirts and gave an ode to booze, which his helper (I think she was his helper) brought up on stage in a plastic cup. His group put on a strong performance--one worthy of early headliner, but the crowd energy had just begun to build.
Black Crown Initiate are newcomers, but sound like veterans. The band formed in 2012 out of Pennsylvania. Last year the group released its debut EP "Song of the Crippled Bull." According to a You-tube description, Black Crown Initiate played its first show just a few months ago. The band plays an eclectic mix of melodic death metal, prog and even experimental elements. From soft melodies to harsh death metal tones, it's easy to find a Opeth comparisons. However, where Opeth often repeats death metal segments, Black Crowned is all over the place. The band also plays more solos, tune their guitars deeper and play faster than their Swedish counterparts. Check out the "Stench of the Iron Age" to hear for yourself.
Inquisition's Dagon is a Colombian migrant. Much like Headcrusher, he made found greater acclaim for his music in America (Seattle, Washington). Although they started as a thrash band in the late '80s, Inquisition has been devoted to the art of black metal for twenty years. These days the band has more in common, sound-wise, with Immortal. Dagon's galactic voice shares characteristics with the great Abbath. The band throws their own form of snow at the listener--the freezing depths of outer space. Drummer Incubus played hard a fast, especially during rolls. If you love Immortal and don't mind hearing another take grab a copy of "Obscure Verses of the Multiverse."
Goatwhore's speed pickers, Sammy Duet and Nathan Bergeron frantically switched places on stage. Decked out in his usual attire of leather gloves and studded gauntlets, Ben Falgoust screamed the lyrics to material culled mostly from the band's last album "Blood for the Master." He also played furious air guitar. Many of the riffs he pantomimed were of the Celtic Frost variety including new track "Baring Teeth For Revolt" from their forthcoming album "Constricting Rage of the Merciless."
True Norwegian black metal is still a rare commodity in America. Some of these bands don the paint and play the music, but then change styles and leave the paint at home for Halloween. So when 1349 shows up with morbid black-and-white glowing grins and gauntlet spikes that look like railroad ties, you can bet the fans of this ghastly art form will get in line. While the attendance could have been greater, an estimated 3/4 capacity, 1349 was in top form. They were like a breath of scorching, hellfire-and-brimstone air. The orange and red hues from the stage lighting gave a sanguinary tent to each member. Banging their heads non-stop during the music, the band rested their necks during experimental interludes. The speed or experimental alone could get stale, but worked quite well when paired.
I'm constantly amazed at Behemoth's progression. Ever since I first caught their act in 2003, the band has improved tremendously as musicians and show men. When the lights went dark tonight, each member stepped onto the stage in their usual paint, but instead of wearing amour, this time they were outfitted in heavy robs. It only made sense, the band was on tour in support of "The Satanist." Nergal burned at the darkness with two fiery sticks. He turned around imitate the fire within a pyramid on the band's backdrop. This "fire starter" was the prelude to the first song and first track from said album, "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel."
Drums, especially the kick drums, sounded great and the band played tight. Most of their set was devoted to "The Satanist," but classics such as "Conquer All" and "Chant for ESCHATON 2000." The later track was the band's former set closer. It seemed as if this were the case tonight until the band took the stage to play the last track "O Father O Satan O Sun" from "The Satanist" with lots of fire, horns and "Eyes Wide Shut" style masks.
Kudos to Come And Take It Productions for securing such a great tour. The acts prior to the Metal Alliance Tour were a nice change of pace. Black metal from top to bottom would have resulted in repetitive evening. Make sure to visit MU in the coming days to read my live interviews with Goatwhore and Behemoth.
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