Pseudogod, Wrathprayer And Diabolical Messiah Bring Underground Death Metal To Austin's Chaos In Tejas Festival
The last three years I've reported on Austin's extreme music festival known as Chaos in Tejas. Some of the bands I witnessed include Autopsy and Winter. Last year, I attended four consecutive days. Although it took place for five days, May 28-June 1, this year, I didn't recognize a many name as the past three years. This may be because festival promoter, Timmy Hefner decided to tone it down a bit after last year's mega blow out of bands that included Benediction and Bolt Thrower.
While there were no classic British death metal groups on this year's bill, Hefner did, however, create a show of wicked underground proportions. Chaos in Tejas falls right after Maryland Deathfest, so Hefner has been successful in scheduling some of those bands to play his festival. This year, he was able to snag Russian black/death brigade Pseudogod and Chilean touring mates Wrathprayer and Diabolical Messiah.
Past Chaos shows featured spiked-haired crusties mixed in with metallic legions. This show wasn't as diverse, and most in attendance will surely applaud Hefner for keeping it "true." Besides local openers Morgengrau, who play an old school death metal style with lyrical topics such as war, the bands on the bill were of the raw, satanic, black/death, guttural sort. The small, dark confines of Red 7's indoor club were ideal for the fog machine that rolled on throughout the night. When the fog and stage lights hit just right, Pseudogod's pseudo corpse paint eerily glowed. Singer I.S.K.H. twisted his body in agonizing poses looking like a hybrid of Dead from Mayhem and Erik Danielsson of Watain.
For lack of a better term, every band was extreme somewhat to the detriment of this reporter. Much of my dismay stems from the murky mix of drums drowning out the guitars while most of the vocals were too guttural to discern what was being said. Three-piece Diabolical Messiah played fast with attention to bottom chords that brings to mind Incantation with quick leads. They were fun to watch perform music from "Satan Tottendemon Victory" and "Embrace the Advance of Victory", but I believe their set was slightly short due to technical difficulties. The drummer was an absolute beast who never relented. He even playing fills while the group switched out their guitars.
Austinites Morgengrau took the stage first before a small crowd of about 20 people. It was a shame they played in front of such a small crowd, as their set was my favorite of the night. I enjoyed watching front woman, Erika Tandy snarl lyrics while speed picking her guitar. The band played a mix of their "Extrinsic Pathway" and forthcoming material from Unspeakable Axe Records. Drummer Reba Carls tempered blast beats with hard-hitting pauses that led the small crowd into fist pumping unison.
Sacrocurse was the other local band, at least one of the members was from the area. The information I found on the band says members are from Mexico. They've released at least one album via Iron Bonehead and their "Unholier Master" CD found release via Hells Headbangers. The band's cosmology was like Wrathprayer and Diabolical Messiah in that they are an unholy trinity of members. The bassist and guitarist both wore menacing gauntlets and the band went straight for the throat in speed. They incorporated a lot of swift slides down their guitar's neck. The band reminded me of early raw/black death groups such as Beherit, Blasphemy and Angelcorpse. Also, the singer set up a merch table with a ton of cool t-shirts.
According to some of the fans in attendance, Wrathprayer, like Diabolical Messiah's performance tonight, suffered technical difficulties at MDF. Heavily distorted guitars and vocals with car-ramming drums partially defined this band composed of members wearing gauntlets, inverted crosses and even a satanic hood on the drummer. Another note of their set was how often the band assumed downward tempos.
Pseudogod's blend of speed and doomed rhythms helped the group stand apart from the night's pure barrage of speed. Many of the slower, bashing parts created rhythms that set into motion the crowd's heads and hands. That and the heavily echoing vocals of I.S.K.H. His posturing, frequently covering his face with the mic was an entertaining spectacle. It certainly helped the band relate its satanic/morbid lyrics (even though I couldn't make out a single word). His vocals were so deep and guttural, like listening to a much rawer version of Masse Broberg during his days in Hypocrisy. These guys only have one album, "Deathwomb Catechesis," but they managed to make their way from the other side of earth to be in America, so they'll probably gain a strong, cult following. Also of note was Black Witchery's Impurath played bass for the band.
Unless its Behemoth or Cannibal Corpse, death and black metal is a strictly underground phenomenon. Chilean and Russian satanic black/death pushes even deeper into the underground, so I didn't figure on seeing too many people show on a Wednesday night. Dismal early numbers, however, changed throughout the night and the crowd packed itself in front the stage. I can't give a solid number, but the club was at least 3/4 capacity. I can't say I'm a big fan of groups on the bill, but it was cool to see such rarities on one bill.
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