Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Dynamic Duo

It was a good week for Old Metal in S.F.: First it was Schnitzel and then 3 days later it was:

Carcass / Death Angel / Suicide Silence
The Grand, San Francisco
March 26, 2009

Umlaut was shocked when Carcass announced another U.S. Tour on the heels of last year's trek. The band hasn't toured in over 10 years and now they won't go away; they're like Grindcore Zombies or something.

This was one of those ridiculous Metal shows with 7 (SEVEN) bands on the bill and a 6:30PM start... Fuck that! Umlaut stayed on his couch as long as possible and didn't arrive at the venue until about 9:15PM, so we were able to miss 4/5 of the support bands who would have annoyed me... but unfortunately we did see a couple of songs by the 5th support band (Suicide Silence), who are one of those annoying new Metal bands who do all of the annoying things that annoy me about all of those annoying new Metal bands... but I don't wanna come off sounding like too much of a jaded old Metalhead so I'll just leave it at that.


Local heroes Death Angel were amazing when I saw them last year, but since that triumphant night they had a significant personnel change with original bassist Dennis Pepa leaving the band in January. While this show was only a one-off appearance on the heels of a just completed Australian Tour, it was also their first hometown show with new guy Sammy Diosdado holding down the bottom end. Dude, it was weird seeing a white guy onstage with Death Angel after all those years of 100% Filipino ultra-violence... but that was forgotten once they started playing.

Death Angel are one of my favorite live bands.. The lads just come out and DO IT with no bullshit... They came onstage, played a slow buildup, and then SLAMMED into a Thrash Metal groove that got a pit going immediately... and The Pit didn't let up for the entire set. It was obvious most of the crowd were DA fans, but it was cool seeing some of the new Metal kids getting schooled in how Metal should be done. The set closing 'Kill As One' pretty much summed it all up, man. Also, seeing Death Angel after the annoying support band reminded me that the majority of the new Metal bands today simply do not have a clue about songwriting.. There, I said it.

Question: Who are THE most crushing band to emerge from the streets of Liverpool, England?? The Beatles? A Flock Of Seagulls? Badfinger? The La's? Ladytron? Echo & the Bunnymen? Frankie Goes To Hollywood?

Answer: None of the above. THE most crushing band from Liverpool is Carcass.

Given the fact that Umlaut missed most of their set last Fall, it made me happy that Carcass came back to town so soon. Jeff Walker is from the "foot on monitor" school of bass players, and it was cool he gave props to the Bay Area's Metal history in between songs and commented how Carcass had supported Death Angel in Liverpool years ago. Daniel Erlandsson was a good choice to fill in on drums for the Reunion Tour and I like his pounding work with Arch Enemy, but the guy is so robotic in his playing it's inhuman, but that does fit into the Carcass vibe. Of course, the band's main attraction is the twin guitars of Bill Steer and Michael Amott and it's easy for me to get put into a headlock by their crushing tone and fluid playing. For the second time in a week, I was angry that so many people were at home pushing plastic buttons on a fake guitar instead of standing next to me supporting legitimate Guitar Heroes... The harmonized guitar soloing in 'Heartwork' ranks right up there with my favorite 6-string moments.

The set was enhanced by an appropriate visual presentation to accompany each song, with some nice use of lovely archival autopsy and medical research footage; the band's name is Carcass after all. I think if fellow Liverpudlian John Lennon came back to life he'd want to play with Carcass, mainly because he'd be all decomposed and undead now. Maharishi's transcendental meditation wouldn't do him any good at this point, but some METAL surely would.

It was an interesting night of contrasts having an old school American Thrash Metal band and an old school British Grindcore band on the same bill; Thrash Metal's groove versus Grindcore's blast beats... but the thing both bands have in common is old school musicianship and stage presence. Total value for money, man... and a valuable history lesson for the kids in attendance. Yes, there will be a quiz. To quote Carcass: "Prolific food for thought.. Contrasting fed with force.. Abstraction so choking, so provocative.."

If you bought one of every Death Angel merch item you would have paid around $150. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Umlaut was back at Casa de Umlaut at 12:30AM; a surgically precise 3 hours of Metal with most of the fat trimmed off so that it was an all killer, no filler night... exactly the way I like it.

Click HERE to see Ray's Carcass pics from the show.

On another note, Umlaut recently received this e-mail from Chatty Kathy:

I've never heard of lots of the bands you write about but your blog is still really fun to read! It's like how I skim the obituaries every day. I didn't know these people, but once in a while there's an awesome obituary. Sometimes the peoples' lives weren't even that remarkable but obviously someone in their family is a very talented writer.

Best feedback ever.