April 8, 2010
Tucked away in a sweet little venue of awesome called Daniel Street in Milford, Connecticut Thursday night raged a quadruple bill of U.S. and Canadian metal.
Unleashing a good four and a half hours of bad-assery were East Vancouver’s Bison B.C., San Francisco’s Black Cobra, Montreal’s Priestess, and headliners High on Fire from Oakland, California—a crushing bill that’ll be touring North America through May.
Bison took the stage promptly at 7:45 and wasted no time ripping into a 30-minute (to the second) maelstrom of fuck-yeah bloosy metal punctuated by d-beat forays and a swirl of sweaty hair and beards.
The quartet featured new songs from its upcoming Metal Blade release Dark Ages that reveled in the group’s crusty dual-guitar thrash. Guitarist and singer James Farwell made frequent trips into the audience of thoroughly tatted-up, hefty beardos for extended solos while second guitarist/vocalist Dan And finessed his own solos. Bassist Masa Anzai and drummer Brad Mackinnon laid down a dexterous rhythmic punch.
Sandwiched between Bison’s devil-horn majesty and the punk-flecked righteousness of Priestess was Black Cobra, a two-piece guitar and drum attack that, up to High on Fire’s undeniable epicness, stole the show. These two guys destroyed their set.
With roots stretching into sludge pioneers Cavity and Acid King, guitarist Jason Landrian and drummer Rafeal Martinez uncorked a 30-minute set of sludgey but agile riffs, howling vocals and an avalanche of punishing rhythms. Martinez fully nuked his kit with endless waves of fills that drove Landrian’s swampy riffs and, at one point, splintered his drumsticks.
By the time Priestess took the stage, it was immediately evident that, along with Bison, the Canadians clearly took the prize for longest hair and biggest beards. Outside of singer Mikey Heppner and drummer Vince Nudo, the Grizzly Adams look was in full effect.
Heppner, whose earlier punk band, the Dropouts, imploded after three-quarters of the members bolted to New York to form The Stills, led Priestess through a blistering set of Sabbath-tinged metal that pulled heavily from current album Prior to the Fire.
For this set, the audience oddly formed a semi-circle in front of the stage with nary a soul venturing into the void—except one, whose lonely but enthusiastic flailing drew the attention of Heppner. “Glad to see someone is excited,” he said.
The night, however, belonged to High on Fire. The crowd packed to the front as guitarist Matt Pike—late of doom legends Sleep—drummer Des Kensel and bassist Jeff Matz made their way through to the stage. Pike instantly drew the crowd’s focus as the band launched into awesomely-named Frosthammer from their latest album Snakes for the Divine. The band’s ferocious blend of Sab tweaked with Motorhead gripped the 150 or so in attendance in rapt attention.
Forget the crossroads, these guys are the house band for the ninth circle. "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” indeed.
Pike glared, growled and shook, twitching his way through exorcist solos while the frenzied crowd periodically erupted into a swirling circle of bodies. Kensel’s double-kick fills, along with Matz’s fuzzed-out rumble, kept a furious pace peaking with a double-atomic blast of Blood from Zion—from first album The Art of Self Defense—and the stabbing title track from Snakes for the Divine to close the show.
Another awesome Manic production.
[Images by Jon Contois]