Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Dark Granulating Satanic Mills

The Decibel Magazine 2014 Tour
Carcass / The Black Dahlia Murder / Repulsion / Gorguts / Noisem
The Regency, San Francisco
March 26, 2014

Tonight was one of those magical times when everything became one with The Metal.  The blessings from the Metal Godz began when I found a parking space that was literally only 70 steps (yes I counted..) from the venue's entrance.  Hail!   There was also zero Will Call drama and the Will Call person was a Murder fan.  Praise be..

Once inside I was disappointed that Noisem were already finishing up their set due to the early start time.  Sorry I couldn't get there earlier, guys... but the brutal 5 minutes or so of Noisem that I did catch was better than some full sets I've seen by other bands in recent times. Next time for sure.

I should mention that tonight was sold out, which gives me hope that (1) The Kidz actually like the good Metal bands and (2) The Kidz actually read the good Metal mags like Decibel.  Full disclosure:  Decibel is the only music magazine that Umlaut subscribes to... which means I pay for it in order to support.  Comps are for posers.

During the changeover, the bar / merch area of the lobby filled to capacity.  The Regency was packed tonight and it was kind of inspiring seeing so many kidz in the house but not as many of the regular Metal faces.  Maybe there really is a "Metal Scene" lurking in The Bay Area that embraces the present instead of simply clutching onto its glorious past after all.  I caught myself thinking "Where did all of these people come from?"  While it was cool seeing the tribe gathered, I was thankful most of the punters didn't seem to know about the bar on the other side of the lobby that was comfortably empty.  It's also the bar that serves the better beers.  I guess it's not a "secret" anymore... Ooops.

Gorguts obliterated The City By The Bay.  Not since the return of Voivod has a Canadian band made me bow down and made me avert my eyes to their greatness.  Technical.  Precise.  Progressive.  Aural density that was heavy as fuck.  My brain thanked me for bringing it into the presence of this thinking person's Metal sledgehammer. 


Gorguts are the type of crushing cerebral Metal band that keeps my jaded self from giving up on Metal.  I usually start feeling that way when I see a shite band like Five Finger Death Punch being hailed as today's "Metal Gods".  Thank dog for Gorguts and their unorthodox onslaught led by the virtuosos on the 7-string guitar and 6-string bass.  My favorite band of the night.

The Regency is the one local venue where you can completely escape the stage area in between bands by going through closed doors.  It's like being back in school and having recess in between classes.  This gives shows there a more social vibe than other spaces.  It's not the best space, or even my favorite space, but I've grown to enjoy seeing shows at The Regency much more in recent times.  Tonight was also a rare occasion when my Murder In The Front Row co-author Harald O. and I were in the same room at the same time.

 Murder Unmasked... and 'Shandi' was not in our setlist.

It was mind blowing that Repulsion were on the bill for only the San Francisco date; their highly anticipated set lived up to all of the expectations and history.  It was impressive how confident and blistering the veteran band was despite their limited recent live appearances compared to the other bands on the bill.  Also, the full circle nature of having them sharing the stage with Carcass in San Francisco of all cities was pretty damn cool, man.  The room was overrun with the vintage aural stench that Repulsion spewed one song after another... and the room reacted with crowd action worthy of such a legendary band.

As I mentioned earlier, tonight was not only a gathering of great bands but the atmosphere in general was on another level as well.  It didn't feel like this was just another generic Metal show.  I don't know if it's because I'm an old man, but more often than not at Metal shows it just feels like people are simply "there".  There's no underlying sense of a higher common cause; tonight was not like that.  Blame Decibel Magazine I guess.  It's how all Metal shows should feel like; a gathering of the tribe.

I've seen The Black Dahlia Murder around a half dozen times and I've never connected with them.  Part of it is probably because I have a hard time taking bands with more than 3 words in their name seriously; I'm just old fashioned that way.  However, the kidz love Black Dahlia and I decided before the show that I would embrace the night and watch every band which goes against my usual jaded self.  Anyway, three songs and I was out, but the kidz love Black Dahlia.   Not surprisingly, The Black Dahlia merch table had the longest line.

I love Bolt Thrower, but Carcass are England's greatest Metal band right now.  The most pleasant surprise of the night was that the crowd did not thin out after Black Dahlia as I expected.  Good on the kidz! Although it had only been 48 days since England's finest had last been on this very same stage, their set tonight was more triumphant and all conquering.  The classic 'Buried Dreams' made the first incision and it was a quintessential Carcass evisceration for the next 90 minutes or so. My favorite song of the set was the new 'The Dark Granulating Satanic Mills' with its infectious chorus of "Six, zero, two, six, nine, six, one". 


I also appreciated how Jeff Walker wore an Electric Light Orchestra tee onstage.  I'm at the point where I've seen Carcass close to a half dozen times now and tonight's set solidified them as one of my all-time favorite bands.  This year is a strange year already as my interest in Metal has flat lined (again) and it doesn't feel like it did 4 or 5 years ago when almost everything "Metal" was exciting to me again.  Yes, Umlaut is fickle but all the gratitude in the world to Gorguts, Repulsion, and Carcass for plugging the Metal side of my brain back in again at least for another night.  Metal is a war and not just a battle and it's one battle at a time for me right now.. Hope I die before I get old.

There was so much merch for sale, but if you bought one of every Carcass merch item you would have spent around $265.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag... but at least I only had to walk 70 steps.  Before my return to Casa de Umlaut, one thing led to another and I found myself parked on a San Francisco side street eating drive thru food after the Metal show.  How old am I? 

"No thanks.  I don't need any crack."

All show photos courtesy of the great Photo Ray!