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Belphegor, Origin, Shining and Abigail Williams at Reggies Rock Club

Photo of Abigail Williams

Band Photo: Abigail Williams (?)

I always liked Belphegor since the first time I saw them live. So having them appear on a really solid tour package with Origin and Abigail Williams was a show which I absolutely had to see. It was my first time seeing them since I caught them with Keep of Kallessin back in 2011 as I spent 2013-2015 outside of the metal scene, first asphyxiating in absolute misery before returning to school to earn a degree.

The majority of the bands playing were black metal and while I could have worn a shirt for Immortal, Melechesh or Primordial, I chose to wear my Converge shirt. Nothing sticks it to the Wicker Park-dwelling beards and flannel crowd more than proudly wearing the shirt of the band responsible for the 2000s metalcore boom to a black metal show. I proudly felt like Homer Simpson wearing a Rastafarian hat at Lollapalooza.

The actual show started an hour and 45 minutes late due to a power outage. Luckily enough the people behind me were good for conversation. I mentioned being there for Origin and neither of them even heard of them before. I tried mentioning what they sound like while rattling off a bunch of names of technical metal bands which neither of them ever heard of before setting on describing Origin as, “Nile with Dragonforce riffs.”

So when the doors did open, that meant the show was going to run late and I had to settle for calling an Uber instead of taking the train back and therefore wound up paying more money than I would have spent paying for city parking. Which was beyond lame. I never learned what caused the outage and honestly, I didn't particularly care because power outages suck in general.

Blood Of The Wolf

Blood of the Wolf were one of two local openers. They were blackened death metal of the war metal variety which has never been my thing but Blood of the Wolf were particularly uninspired. All of their songs sounded the same to me to the point where I couldn't tell where one song ended and the next began. They have an album out but can't even get a record deal on the smallest of indie labels for a reason. I keep wanting to support local music but most local bands are unsigned due to Sturgeon's Law and Blood of the Wolf are absolutely part of the 90%.

Nucleus

Nucleus were a local death metal band. They weren't bad at all. In contrast to Blood of the Wolf, I was actually impressed by them. Their music wasn't instantly memorable but that's a problem with live music in general. They need to be on a bigger record label than Unspeakable Axe Records. I absolutely want to give them another listen since they did just release an album this year.

Abigail Williams

Abigail Williams were the first band on the tour package to play. I do remember catching them live once before but I'm not sure where. This time around they were just as good as I remember them being despite them becoming junkies requesting, “hard drugs” in their tip box. I guess that means that I caught them before the inevitable downfall considering how badly years of drug use have ruined Marilyn Manson's stage show. Hopefully Ken Sorceron will kick the habit and still put on the same sort of shows that Dave Mustaine of Megadeth is capable of now that he's been clean for a decade.

I never got the hate for Abigail Williams. People give them shit for starting off as a metalcore band but they're actually a legit black metal act. The problem is that the black metal scene is overrun with hipsters. As we all know, hipsters are as incapable of liking anything remotely impure as they are of having fun or drinking halfway decent beer. IMO, catch them while they're still good. They're only a three piece but still manage to kick ass.

Shining

You know that one friend of yours who tries too hard to be hip and edgy? That's Shining. Frontman Niklas Kvarforth burned himself on stage with a cigarette lighter since his arms were too bandaged from cutting on previous tour dates. Combine that with Niklas' back tat which is a Reichsaddler with the swastika replaced with a pentacle which just screams, “I want attention!” The problem is that type of behavior no longer shocks me. It feels like stuff that's already been done and is more adolescent than truly scary. A scary live band to me is Mgla who wear the type of masks that I associate with Daesh since I'm actually scared of terrorism far more than I am of cries for attention. Niklas is kind of like that twelve-year-old in Call of Duty who just discovered the word, “fag” and now thinks that he's the coolest person on Earth.

I'd honestly go easier on Shining if the music weren't black and roll as opposed to actual black metal. Black and roll is the Bud Light of black metal genres. For how hard Shining try to be edgy, their music isn't abrasive enough to match their image. Shock rock genuinely needs to sound as scary as it appears, otherwise it doesn't accomplish what it sets out to do. Even Deafheaven sound more kvlt. Shining isn't the black metal band who scare your parents. Shining is the black metal band whom your parents like.

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Origin

Now that the Guitar Hero fad is over, I'm seeing a lot more tech death and mathcore bands breaking up. Beneath the Massacre, The Chariot and Necrophagist are gone and The Dillinger Escape Plan are on their way out. So I'm glad that Origin are still around because technical metal bands are always the most interesting to listen to for me.

Jason Keyser sounded a lot like Randy Blythe on stage. He told me that he wasn't trying to change his vocal style but it's due to wear and tear from being on the road. That meant that my theory that Keyser and Blythe swapped vocal chords like Nicholas Cage and John Travola in Face/Off didn't actually occur. I still liked it since it made the songs sound different but in a good way. I still recognized the songs but they sounded different in a live environment which is what bands are supposed to do. I've always loved Origin and I do hope to see them again.

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Belphegor

I've always thought that Belphegor were ridiculous. They're the cheesy black metal band and they know it, injecting as much irony into their music as Blackthrone do but actually put effort into their music. That makes them the closest thing to Spinal Tap in real life that there ever can be but when it comes to actually playing their music, they get serious.

Helmuth Lehner toned down his Cobra Commander meets Gene Simmons stage presence a bit. Namely he stopped sticking his tongue out on this tour and is now mostly just a black metal Cobra Commander. If you like your black metal dead serious like Watain then they aren't the band for you. But if you can handle a band influenced by Susan Sontag's Notes On Camp then you'll love that they had a guy in a grim reaper costume on stage. If they didn't put on as good of a show as they did, I wouldn't have laughed half as hard. They also still played Bondage Goat Zombie which may very well be the epitome of metal cheese to the point where even Rhapsody would think it's silly. That's why I love Belphegor and hope that they never change.

All in all, it was a good show. I wasn't all that impressed with Blood of the Wolf or Shining but I still appreciated the other acts.

Dasher10's avatar

Matt is a freelance writer living in Chicago, Illinois and a metalhead since 1999.

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