Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dismemberment • Malignant Christ • Skullbomb - March 17, 2012 - The Shrunken Head, Columbus, Ohio

Like tens of thousands, I spent St. Paddy's Day sick as hell. Except I didn't have a drop to drink. Some lousy springtime bug had me down at week's end. Still, neither hell nor high water could keep me from the Shrunken Head and the release party for Dismemberment's stellar new EP, Denied Salvation. The streets of Columbus were more crowded than usual with plenty of inebriated college types stumbling around in green but inside the Shrunken Head was a sea of black. This was my second trip to the venue and reaffirmed my first impression as a nice, cozy spot that left this metal fan feeling more than welcome. It was nice to see that the place hadn't descended into any kind of St. Pat's pandering and I was amused at the random groups of emerald-clad pub crawlers who would walk in the door, witness the scene and seem absolutely befuddled at the lack of tinted beverages or NCAA action. Superb.

the skull hath been effectively bombed.

Skullbomb opened the evening and I must admit that I was somehow asleep at the wheel the first time I caught these guys back in November opening the Exhumed show. They offer a tight, ultra-aggressive brand of thrash that was the perfect prescription for whatever was ailing me. From the first notes I was instantly engaged and loved every bit of their set. The evening's merchandise was exclusively Dismemberment and I was disappointed this morning in my failure to find any traces of CDs or downloads online. It may have been the more focused setting or perhaps it was an exceptional set but, after this second experience with Skullbomb, I can say they're a band for whom I would easily shell out cash for a record and for whom I would readily pay to see again.

this one is about driving nails
through labia...
I was intrigued by Malignant Christ as soon as I saw the stage being set. It was obvious fairly quickly that this was going to be a one-man show. Brandon Von and a drum machine took the stage and immediately unleashed a cold and calculated darkness that left me equally entranced and bewildered. Von demonstrated an impressive focus and an undiluted black metal that was a little unsettling in its iciness. I was immediately reminded of Prosanctus Inferi though there was certainly something to be desired in terms of stagecraft and presence. In the end, though, it was a fascinating set, enough so to send me online to research Von and his music and I would definitely be interested to see how this material would evolve when filtered through additional live musicians.

Dismemberment as headliners. Finally. This was only my third Dismemberment show but, as anyone reading this blog will know, they have quickly become an absolute favorite of mine both on stage and on record. For this performance, celebrating the release of Denied Salvation, they did not disappoint. True to their promise, the band tore through their entire recorded catalogue and sequenced the set exceptionally well. To the best of my recollection everything flowed in this order:

Dismemberment March 17, 2012 Setlist:
  1. Last Rites (Denied Salvation)
  2. Perpetual Malice (Denied Salvation)
  3. Possessed (The Condemned)
  4. Dementia Decay (The Condemned)
  5. Reap What You Sow (Denied Salvation)
  6. Cryptic Isolation (The Condemned)
  7. Triumph of Death (Plague) (The Condemned)
  8. No Peace on Earth, No Rest in Hell (The Condemned)
  9. The Condemned (The Condemned)
  10. Gateways to the Past (Denied Salvation)
  11. System to Rise (Denied Salvation)

I am hard-pressed to think of many other bands for whom every song they have on record would play well live. Dismemberment, so far, are one of those few. Each number was a highlight, seemingly flawlessly executed and the energy never flagged for what had to be an exhausting set in what had become very warm and cramped quarters. Still, if I had to choose knock-down, drag-out killer performances from the evening they would be the opener with "Last Rites" and J.D. Henderly's awe-inspiring bass intro, "Cryptic Isolation," still one of my favorites from The Condemned, and "System to Rise," which may have raged harder than any number in the evening, closing the show as ferociously as it closed Denied Salvation.

I made a point to stop between sets and double my Dismemberment wardrobe with another t-shirt as well as a physical copy of the Denied Salvation CD we were all there to celebrate and was also rewarded with a free pin and concert poster. Not a bad haul by any means for a mere sixteen bucks and the show, five dollars at the door, was criminally underpriced. The crowd was impressive, especially for a Saturday that merged the biggest drinking holiday of the year with a college basketball tournament, and the attendance was a testament to Dismemberment's massive talent and the mutual respect they've cultivated in the metal community. All in all, absolutely fantastic and, while we were all present to help the band kick off a brand-new release, I'm already anxious to hear whatever Dismemberment have planned next.


  1. I know it doesn't have much to do with your write up, but Dismemberment's logo on the shirt is hella cool.

    1. It is. On top of the music they seem to be pretty savvy marketers and I really dig the aesthetic of the merchandise and album art.