I don't know who opened. I'm not willing to go to the effort of enlarging the handbill to try to tell, either. A young corpsepainted crew, they offered music of the Hey, even I could play that variety (except, this time, I really could play that) and, while I give anyone props for having the balls to actually go up on stage and make the effort, their single-chord, tuneless death grind was totally lost on this attendee. The band had nothing to say between songs and never introduced themselves. They lost an opportunity to spread their name around but, in the end, it really probably didn't matter.
Beneath the Sea followed and have gelled substantially since my first experience with them. Matthew Draudt's lead presence is no-nonsense and, despite not knowing any of the material, it was easy to be swept up by wave after wave of riffage, concise, focused leads and a rhythm section that maintained a deadly undertow throughout, drawing in the audience like so many krill to appetize the insatiable kraken. This was masterful rock on an epic scale delivered in such a personal manner that it was impossible not to love Beneath the Sea. Add in a Slayer-themed finale and they more or less owned the evening.
This was my fourth Kingsblood show, my third time seeing them at the Alrosa and I have to be honest and say that I was spoiled by their recent appearance in support of Skeletonwitch. I know the Alrosa has stage issues and quality control in terms of sound has proven over time to be less than stellar. Add to that the absolute perfect vibe at the April 15th show and they set a bar that would be hard for any band to reach again. That said, Kingsblood are quickly on their way to residency as house band for my soul and, aside from dropping instruments and simply not performing, I do not know how they could disappoint me.
I have to confess that I had never heard a note of Black Anvil prior to their set and, afterward, don't have any particular snatches of songs stuck in my mind but, for the duration of their performance, they were absolutely compelling. I know of the band's hardcore origins and there is a distinct New York element to their black metal sound coated in a thin layer of sludge (and definitely tinted with a wink and nudge that says "we're not taking this shit too seriously"). The rhythm section owns the show and the manic bloodbath that was drummer Raeph was just fantastic as he flailed, grinning ear to ear and shouting the entire time. Bassist/vocalist P.T.D. maintained such an intensity that I found I had to make an effort to shift my focus to G.W.B. II to check out the guitar work. I love it when a three-piece is able to pull off a performance with a big sound and Black Anvil sure as hell accomplished that in spades. I guess I'll need to buy some records and see if I can remember what I heard.
I like Watain. I only own Lawless Darkness and, beyond that, have sampled a little of their backcatalogue via Last.fm but cannot pretend to be a massive fan. I really, really enjoy the melodic elements blended with their blackened metal and knew that, visually, they would deliver an interesting show as well. All that said, I am always skeptical when it comes to an overabundance of set dressing, make-up and all these props as, in the end, this stuff has to sound good, too. It did. Watain were also plagued with equipment issues and handled hiccups with atmospheric audio cloaked in darkness. Once they were rolling, they tore through close to a dozen or so tracks that, frankly, could have come from anywhere in their catalogue, I suppose, as much of what I did not immediately recognize sounded about just like what I already knew.
Their dour, disaffected posturing worked with the myriad of banners, skulls, iron, chains and inverted crucifixes that littered the stage though, after a while, each song started with their backs to the audience and/or a dedication like "to those who have pledged themselves to the dark!" seemed a tad tired. Any tedium gave way to a bit of excitement when an overzealous and intoxicated fan grabbed the band's multitasking inverted crucifix that also doubled as skull stand/incense holder (I'm gonna check IKEA for one for the living room) and said fan was immediately beaten down with same said crucifix by whomever was handling guitar duties (I'm still not clear on who tours with Watain as opposed to who records with Watain). The fan was escorted out, the band played on and I think some poor animal's skull was lost in the fracas (I am guessing the greater Columbus area may be minus one raccoon this morning). All in all, a relatively compact - if not slightly insubstantial - set but one that was fun nonetheless and well worthwhile.
The Alrosa Villa and Columbus Events Group always provide a well-choreographed succession of bands for a great price and, with bands like Beneath the Sea and Kingsblood, a level of local support that rivals the national acts above them on the bill. Thanks to the artists and all involved for another great evening of metal.