|“The Sabbat” Texas Metalfest|
|Written by Chris Pineau|
|Sunday, 27 July 2008 10:31|
“The Sabbat” Texas Metalfest
4/26/03 Cardi’s, Houston, TX.
With: Hatred, Lacination, Crimson Massacre, Funeral Rites, Condemned, Adumus, Demontuary
Review by Chris Pineau
I know that this site is based in Washington, but I wanted to write this review to show y’all out your way that there is indeed good homegrown metal here in Houston—it’s not all just country kicker stuff or blues out here. Plenty of that anyway, not that that’s all bad, but still, there is life in our metal scene. This presented a good overview of what’s brewing out this way, a good mixture of black and death metal and even a hardcore band that opened the proceedings. Website URLs are given for the bands I could get them for.
Firstly, however, the owner of the venue threw things off considerably by arriving almost two hours late to even open the place, which had the bands who’d shown up for load-in highly annoyed. Apparently he is famous for this, according to one fellow I spoke to. Things didn’t get started til nearly 8:30, a direct contradiction to the promised early starting time of 7PM with doors at 6PM. Not a good start! That’s Cardi’s for you, though; it’s a good place to play with plenty of comfortable places to sit both upstairs and downstairs, good lines of sight, and an excellent sound system, but not very professionally run. It also doesn’t book quite as many metal bands as other venues in the area as local ‘bangers would like, but that’s a small quibble. That aside, my thanks to Funeral Rites guitarist Luis Carlos’ wife, Jessica, for setting up this show as well as she did, big props to her for a job well done!
Hatred kicked things off with a heavily “Roots”-era Sepultura influenced set that lived up to its name in that they did indeed sound thoroughly pissed off. The pint-sized vocalist/guitarist even sounded just like Max, which is both a good and a bad thing--he sounds convincingly angry, but needs to develop more of an identity. They still kicked up a hellacious racket for a three-piece and were obviously really into what they were doing, so I’ll give them points for that and for good stage presence. My advice to them is to work on the lyrics and song titles—what I could make out sounded very clichéd and tired, very simplistic A-B-C stuff. I’d also suggest working on making their songs sound more individual, as they tended to sound alike after a while. That diminished my enjoying the music more than I thought I would, as I don’t usually get into that metalcore thing. With some work, these guys could get somewhere.
Lacination are from San Antonio, TX and thoroughly bored me with their watered-down Immolation-style death metal. I don’t dig that rambling New York style of death metal to begin with, and this band did not convert me at all. The guitarists were awful and spent far too much time soloing in every tune anyway, to my eardrums’ displeasure. They also had a drummer who was more enthusiastic then he was tight or together, which bothers me—the drummer is one of the first things I listen for in a band. The tunes were wandering, disjointed affairs that had me wondering just what the hell the point was for every song, the vocals were weak and unconvincing growls, and I was NOT impressed. Next!
Crimson Massacre was up next and perked things up considerably with their raging and thoroughly Norwegian sound. They did a good job of invoking the spirit of the early Norwegian black metal bands (specifically early Dimmu Borgir, bassist Ghatanathoa told me) with their insane screeching vocals, trebly guitar roar with lots of intricate, spidery single-note riffing, and frantic drumming, but drummer Christhammer could have been tighter for my taste. Ghatanathoa also contributed some good growl/scream backing vocals and had good stage presence as well. I got a kick out of the spiked leather masks that the guitarists and drummer were wearing onstage that covered the lower halves of their faces—you have to see this to believe it. I thought they looked very cool and unique, but I had to wonder just how they could breathe! They even covered Emperor’s classic “I Am The Black Wizards” and did it justice with their intense version. They are a band definitely worth looking out for. www.crimsonmassacre.tk
Funeral Rites! After moving out here over two years ago and having to miss them virtually every time they played due to work or lack of money or finding out at the last second or after the fact, I finally got the opportunity to see them play! And it was worth it, too. Guitarist Luis Carlos was one of the first headbangers I met when I moved out here and has become a good buddy of mine in the scene—he is a very cool, very friendly guy who is very down to earth and deserves your support. And absolute pandemonium erupted when they hit the stage! FR are well loved out here and it showed. They were tight, had some of the best stage presence of the night, and their drummer, Steve Richardson, is a monster in the making. This was, unfortunately, bassist Pete Santos’ last gig with the band, and after three songs he bid an emotional farewell to the crowd. His replacement then joined the band onstage and proceeded to tear it up in style. Funeral Rites have a new CD out, “Heaven Falls Bleeding”, and they spotlighted a lot of new songs from it, including the monstrous “Blakened Ruins”, written by Luis Carlos. These guys are one of the best black/death bands in Houston right now; check ‘em out and tell Luis I sent ya! http://www.funeralrites.com
Condemned were up next and, well, I don’t usually get into Cannibal Corpse-type bands very much, but I ended up liking them more than I thought I would. And these guys reminded me quite a lot of that legendary band musically. The singer had great, wild-eyed presence and strong vocals and got props right away from me for wearing a Celtic Frost heptagram t-shirt. My biggest problem with this band was, again, rambling songs, and the drumming could have been a bit tighter, good though the guy was. This is one of the reasons I don’t like blast beats very much these days, aside from the fact that they’re played out; if you’re not that good, it will show when you go into that routine, and the results can be painful to hear. Minimal stage patter—the first thing out of the singer’s mouth was “Blood! Filled! Luuuuungs!!!” in classic Cookie Monster fashion. As I said, I ended up liking them more than I thought I would—they actually had a good mix and I could hear everything pretty well. Not my first choice to listen to, ultimately, however.
Adumus are another popular Houston black metal outfit, and really got things going the moment they started playing. Vocalist Cerberus alone was worth the price of admission—he wears full leather and chain mail armor and brandished a mike stand that resembled a spiked club as he stalked the stage screaming his little blackened heart out. Battle standards with their logo on either side of the drum riser added to the atmosphere, and they had virtually no pause between songs as they blasted through a nonstop barrage of hateful blackness. Drummer Ruben Elizondo is fantastic! He kept up the blasting without batting an eye, with impeccable technique, and his feet fly at roughly the speed of sound. They even had that wonderfully cold, trebly Norwegian guitar sound going, and the bassist (Charon) was right up there riffing away with the guitar player in classic Geezer Butler fashion. Are these guys really Mexicans? Hard to tell, they sounded so convincingly Norwegian.
Demontuary, from Austin, had a sweepingly epic feel to their long, involved songs, and the keyboards they incorporated into their sound actually enhanced the music as opposed to overbearing it. They even made some parts sound more intense, so more power to them for that. Straight ahead walls of guitar (with only one solo in the last tune) with very active bass lines and more screaming Wicked Witch of the West vocals made for a pretty nice effect, but the singer’s attempt at clean vocals in the first song made me wince a bit. Not a very exiting live band, but the music spoke volumes for them, so I’ll cut them slack for that, as I do for Krisiun. They, in fact, have what I think is a pretty decent take on Scandinavian blackness and I would check them out again if they play here again any time soon.