Sunday, January 29, 2012

Metal Massacre 2012: Acheron • Dismemberment • Prosanctus Inferi • The Conquering • Beneath the Sea - January 28, 2012 - The Shrunken Head, Columbus, Ohio

I guess I'm going to start this one completely out of chronological order and may well ramble a bit, too. It's not that I don't appreciate Acheron. I am thankful we have a metal act with some history and some heft right here close to home. I am thankful that they obviously undertook a labor of love to pull together a show like last night's Metal Massacre at the Shrunken Head because, for eight dollars, anyone in attendance got a hell of a lot of entertainment. That said, the headliners did not do it for me and, three or four numbers into their set, I hit the street.

Acheron went on last, of course, and the music was preceded by an inordinate amount of set dressing. Anti-Christian, anti-Muslim and anti-Judaism banners were hung just so, drugstore skulls were placed at the perfect angles and, in case anyone wasn't clear who was playing, an oversized Acheron banner was hung from the curtain rods. Before they hit the first note Acheron were sweaty from all of their interior design as well as their uniforms of long-sleeve black shirts, leather pants, cumbersome boots and enough metal spikes to make even Kerry King say really? A couple angry songs in they remembered that they needed to shred the Bible and the Koran, much to the crowd's delight. All of this is fine, I suppose, for a band firmly devoted to Satan but, in the end, they are a band and, at some point, the music has to speak for itself. It didn't. The loud, mid-tempo, repetitive churning echoed that from my recent listening to The Final Conflict and ultimately came across as just a misfocused, less dynamic alternative to a band like Immolation, who I have recently come to appreciate more and more, especially following a no-frills live set that delivered exactly where Acheron fell short. Simply put, the metal did not move me in any way aside from out the door.

do these pants make my ass look evil?
Back to the beginning, then. The Shrunken Head is apparently generally a Goth hangout and was a cozy bar atmosphere with a small stage in the corner. A cooler full of PBR tallboys screamed hipster! but didn't keep me from imbibing. The venue's website never did quite deliver on its promise of a ticket/t-shirt combo offer and merch was awkwardly placed in what I guess may be adjacent dining space but that was also used as an area for the bands to stage their gear prior to the show. It was cramped and difficult to browse so I gave up on that prospect early on. Still, I have to give props to the proprietors and bands for making a show like this possible at such a low price so it's hard to complain. The staff were all very pleasant and parking was free and easy along the streets outside. Sound in the space was very good and credit is due to the man at the board. Volume was appropriate but not overwhelming and each instrument was well-balanced with the vocals.

Beneath the Sea opened and were not half-bad. Pretty damn good, actually. They delivered death metal on an ambitiously epic scale and, when they hit their groove, were a lot of fun to hear. Visually, they need some work on stage presence and weren't as engaging as more well-seasoned acts. I have no idea how long the lineup has been together - it just seemed as though they weren't 100% comfortable with one another. Leads were a little underwhelming and the vocalist's dedication to death growls even during between-song crowd banter was a little odd. That said, if they had a record for sale, I'd buy it. If they were on a bill at any future show I attended, I'd make it a point to catch their set.

The Conquering followed and I was utterly confused by their horribly off-key clean harmonies and lack of anything approaching melody for a band supposedly offering nordic/black/folk metal. I spent most of their set trying to imagine punny descriptors for the band. We can't carry a Rune was all I came up with and ultimately opted to spend the time in line for the john to make room for more beer.

Prosanctus Inferi
despite the ululating and palpating the candles never went out
Prosanctus Inferi. Damn. God damn. Acheron should take a page from these guys' book. Jake Kohn, unencumbered by leather, spikes or banners, silently lit several small candles and, along with a fucking kick-ass bassist (who the hell was that?) and drummer Jeremy Spears, proceeded to spew forth a brand of blackened death metal so dense it nearly took my breath away, choked in the best possible way (you know, just short of a Hutchence-Carradine). They demanded pure focus. I kicked myself for not braving the narrow merch table to seek out a record and righted that wrong this morning by ordering Pandemonic Ululations of Vesperic Palpitations and the Red Streams of Flesh EP. There is a lot going on here and it begs for headphone listening and dissection. The band themselves emanated zero bullshit posturing and were still absolutely engaging in their musicianship. I had no idea there was something this powerful right here this close to home and will seek out another Prosanctus Inferi show as soon as possible.

soon you'll join them and the damned
Following the Prosanctus Inferi set I overheard a concertgoer I recognized from other local shows telling a woman, "There are two bands worth hearing here tonight. Prosanctus Inferi and Dismemberment." True to his word as well as my own prior experience seeing these guys live, Dismemberment did not disappoint. The crowd was obviously in-the-know and both Dismemberment and the preceding Prosanctus Inferi definitely drew the most bodies to the floor. And Dismemberment delivered. They tore through about a half-dozen numbers, drawing largely from The Condemned but also offering new material from their upcoming Denied Salvation EP. These guys are focused. They're having fun. But, most importantly, you can tell they're fans. They listen to metal, they watch metal, they know what makes metal and they have forged this into a damn-near perfect product.

Watching this band in a venue this small almost makes me a little sad. Because, before long, they will be huge. When the word spreads and people hear their music - and they will - these guys are going to require much larger spaces in which to ply their craft. This kind of intimate setting will be a thing of the past and it is almost difficult to absorb the experience fully enough to carry a memory that will deliver long after they're off playing Damnation, Sonisphere, et cetera.

All in all, another great evening of metal in Columbus well worth the 75-mile trek and worth many times the $8 fee. Thanks, as always, to the bands, the venue and the organizers for making something like this available. It is insane that music of this caliber is available relatively close to home and at a price lower than most fast-food. The only thing crazier is that there are not literally hundreds of people lining up to fight their way into these shows. Get off your ass and get out there - there's metal to be heard.


  1. Well well well, thanks for the words. I know, we are a small venue, but that doesn't stop me to try to deliver good shows. If it is packed, well that is good and gives the musician a good feel. A better feel than playing for 100 people at Outland or where ever, as it looks empty. PBR......oh how I do NOT like it. BUT! The smallest number of guests in our bar are so called Hipsters. You ALL drink it. Metalheads, Rockabillys, Punks, Goths (No we are NOT just a goth bar)! As i only have this one fridge, I have to fill it up with what people like. The Conquering played their set very well. The harmonics and disharmonics were played just as they have to be when it comes to northern folklore tunes. (I know that, as I grew up with them). But right. Dismemberment and all the others blew me away. Jake and his Prosanctus Inferi, Beneath the sea....all where good. Acheron. They have a long history in Black Metal and at that time, the hate, dress and behavior was what you had to do. I am glad that Acheron still delivers that. I hope I can set up a quick show and I promose the room situation in the smaller bar with the merchtables will be better. We are working right now on two rooms in the back for storage ! :) Thanks for coming and mentioning the show, and stay in touch to see the improvements. Slowely, but surely! Greetings, Andreas

  2. Thanks for the review, I'm the lead guitarist in Beneath The Sea, we have been a band for about 2 years, but just got our second guitarist last month....and that being said are songs are pretty rough to play. Our next show is with Overkill and Belphgor, maybe will schedule another and ofcourse all the bands rules, Prosanctus Inferi and Beneath The Sea played with Acheron in July. It was cool to finally hear Dismemberment and The Conquering live. Thanks for supporting local metal!-Matthew Draudt

  3. Andreas - Thanks so much for reading and leaving some comments! Overall, I was really pleasantly surprised with the venue and, again, the minor quibbles are easily overlooked when you consider what goes into putting on a show like this. As for musical taste, to each their own - regardless of what I like or dislike, I still am happy as hell there's an audience for metal overall (and am pleased at the variety within the genre).

    Matthew - again, loved you set overall and am really, really anxious to hear how you guys gel as a band. Drop me a line if you you get anything recorded and available for listening and I will be on the lookout for Beneath the Sea at future shows.

  4. We have a demo of our older stuff, I can give you one next show we're at, I also have some newer demo stuff me and a friend recorded.-Matt

  5. The show was kick ass. All the bands brought something to the table. It has been a while since Columbus had an event to promote extreme metal. You seem rather close minded when it comes to tbe music. THE CONQUERING did a good job dishing out some good beer drinking viking metal. And shall I remind you even Quorthon from BATHORY sang out of tune. But it still worked.

    As for your comment on ACHERON, are you crazy? Sure a few people left before they went on but the place was still packed. And if you would have stayed you would have seen they got the crowd more worked up than any other band. Seems like you focused negative more on their stage show and stage wear than anything else. Boring? I think not! And you should be punched in the face for saying they should learn something from PROSANCTUS INFERI. ACHERON stand on their own feet and for over 20 years these guys have be a part of the metal movement. Personally, my friends and I worship their Satanic music. Check out their youtube video, that is us singing along with them. ACHERON rules!

    So yes DISMEMBERMENT AND PROSANCTUS INFERI were great, but dont you dare put down THE CONQUERING our the mighty ACHERON! Metal comes in all kinds of styles.

  6. The post just represents my opinions - and thanks for sharing yours. I will pass on the punch in the face, though. Not everyone likes everything and I, frankly, didn't care for a couple of the performances. It's that simple. That said, I'm still grateful ALL these guys are out there making metal and, even if any particular act is not my cup of tea, I'm equally thankful they have fans that keep the genre going. Thanks for reading.

  7. This is Dan from The Conquering. I just wanted to say thanks to Andreas and the others on this thread who had such kind things to say about The Conquering. We had an amazing time playing to a crowd that was VERY into our set, and truly enjoyed all the other bands who played. It was an awesome night of metal. Good to see Columbus's local scene growing and coming together. That is all.

  8. Acheron owned that show hands down! The are kult and put 100% into all their shows. Seen them in Columbus 4 times and everytime they killed. You leaving early gives you no right to bash them. Musical taste depends on the person and personally I think yours sucks!

  9. Saw enough to know I didn't like it and that was enough. That said, glad you enjoyed it and am happy for you - and their fans - that they're around and playing these gigs. Just not for me. Thanks for reading and sharing your feedback.

  10. Your commentary is trite and puerile. It is more than okay to dislike a bands music; however berating them because they don't interest you on a personal level is something else altogether. Blogging reviews should contain suggestions, constructive criticism and the like, not some young pretentious metal fans worthless commentary; delete your blogger and get tumblr like the rest of the immature review debutantes have.

    Our reemerging metal community is about having fun, networking, enjoying the music; if not the music then the energy it provides.

    And no, I didn't like all of the music there, but the fact that people would stand on that stage and put their energy into what they do is very commendable.

    I hope Andreas continues to let metal bands play in his venue.


  11. I'll stay right where I am. Better yet, why not get your own blog and share your own opinions? Big world out there, lots and music (and lots of varying opinions) and there's more than enough room for multiple viewpoints. I write about what I experience, how it affected me and nothing more, nothing less. Thanks for reading, regardless.

  12. So how old are you? What is your favorite music? Are you religious? Just wondered since you really show your cards on this review. Poser!

  13. Dear Anonymous,
    I am 15 years old and a proud sophomore at Sweetapple Christian Academy. I love METAL - you know, Creed and even Nickelback. One of my friends even has a Mötley Crüe CD we play sometimes, so you can see I am no poser, that's for sure.