Melechesh Steals The Kill From Rotting Christ In Chicago On The Apostles Of Darkness Over The Americas Tour
Band Photo: Abigail Williams (?)
Ahhhh, death metal. Until tonight I hadn’t been to a proper death metal show in a couple of years at least, if not longer, so when I opened the doors to Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago’s Near South Side, the stench of decaying flesh wafted into my wanting nostrils and refreshed my soul. Spiked gauntlets and shinguards, bullet belts, corpsepaint, unending blast beats, lots and lots of huge buckles, long black coats – all the pleasantries of a death metal show were coming back to me in trigged kick drum style as I boldly strode past the merch table. The Apostles of Darkness Over The Americas Tour was in town, and headliner Rotting Christ had brought along a bag of very special guests: Melechesh, Hate, Abigail Williams and Lecherous Nocturne. Unfortunately I had a sustenance occasion that precluded my arrival in time for Lecherous Nocturne, but the folks I chatted with said their tech-death was precise and heavy.
Abigail Williams was the first band I had the pleasure of partaking, and their melodic blackened death was well executed, sounding a lot like early Dimmu Borgir, back when Shagrath was happy with just a synthesizer. According to vocalist Ken Sorceron, the members of Abigail Williams were apparently hungover, and their five-song, 25-minute set consisted of all slower numbers with only short bursts of speed and blast beats scattered here and there. But that set list produced a cool vibe, as the open spaces played well with the big guitar leads. Bassist Gryph Wotawa seemed less hungover than the rest and was feeling his oats, as his bass was, dare I say, light and fluffy, flitting between the two guitars effortlessly. Wotawa at least earned his huge spiked shinguards and bullet belt - the others in Abigail Williams wore their spikes for show only.
Hate, just like their name, has a very simple operating procedure; corpsepaint, capes and costumes, and straight up death metal. Mid-tempo death jams alternated with tremolo and blast beats, and solos interrupted only a couple times. Hate is from Warsaw, Poland, and Chicago has the second most Polish people of any city in the world (after Warsaw), so Hate was particularly pleased to play this particular show, and it showed, as their performance was full of conviction and… well… hate. The easy highlights of their 35-minute set were the Grand-Canyon-huge grooves they laid down in practically every song - just absolute headbang central as the entire room got down with the windmill while the band’s instruments wretched Evander Holyfield-style haymakers upon our prostrate ears.
Melechesh, per the headline of this report, stole the show from Rotting Christ. Band leader Ashmedi is clearly more than just a metal guy – he is a metal artist. While the live setting certainly swallows some of the subtleties from Ashmedi’s carefully crafted “Sumerian Sonic Magick,” he and his mates - Moloch, Xul and Rahm - carefully tuned their instruments between every song (well, not Xul I guess, he plays drums), and Ashmedi even commented about his obsessive nature during one of the longer breaks. The music was still very intricate and very heavy, with “Ghouls of Nineveh,” off of 2010’s “The Epigenesis,” being the highest highlight; as the Sumerian melodies wove into the black metal fury the entire room subjugated their souls to Ashmedi’s metal mastery.
Rotting Christ obviously have dibs on being the house band for King Leonidas’ keg parties. The Grecian band started their set with some stylized clips from the motion picture “Troy,” showing Achilles and his myrmidons storming the Trojan beachhead, scored by Rotting Christ’s own epic intro. From there they ripped off an hour of heavily NWOBHM-influenced death/thrash, but after Ashmedi’s expansive imagination, they never stood a chance. Now don’t take this the wrong way - Rotting Christ played at least a dozen fist-pumping and horn-throwing charge-into-battle-anthems, and the crowd loved the militaristic rhythms, soaring leads and power chord riffs straight from Hetfield’s songbook. And when you look at Rotting Christ from that perspective, what’s not to like?
Death Metal is an easy genre to lose perspective on. When listening to studio albums for critical review or simple enjoyment, it is easy to nitpick and lose most death metal bands in a perceived sea of homogeneity. But seeing four excellent death metal bands live, the power and unique character of each band is readily apparent. Death never felt so alive.
Remaining Apostles of Darkness Over The Americas Tour
20 Mar 2011 St Paul MN Station 4
22 Mar 2011 Calgary The Republik
23 Mar 2011 Edmonton Starlite Room
25 Mar 2011 Seattle WA El Corazon
26 Mar 2011 Portland OR Howthorne Theatre
27 Mar 2011 San Francisco, CA DNA Lounge
28 Mar 2011 Anaheim CA Chain Reaction
29 Mar 2011 Los Angeles CA Key Club
30 Mar 2011 San Diego CA Brick by Brick
31 Mar 2011 Mesa AZ U.B.'s Bar
01 Apr 2011 Amarillo TX The War Legion Underground
02 Apr 2011 Tulsa OK Marquee
03 Apr 2011 Ft Worth TX Rail Club
04 Apr 2011 Austin TX Emo's Alternative Lounging
05 Apr 2011 Houston TX Walter's
07 Apr 2011 Tampa FL Brass Mug
08 Apr 2011 Atlanta GA The Masquerade
09 Apr 2011 Raleigh NC Volume 11
10 Apr 2011 Charlotte NC The Casbah
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