Friday, May 18, 2012

Watain • Black Anvil • Kingsblood • Beneath the Sea - May 17, 2012 - Alrosa Villa, Columbus, Ohio

Thursday night found me back at the Alrosa Villa for the third time in a year, primarily drawn this time for the Kingsblood EP release of A King Reborn. It was a five-band bill and also included Beneath the Sea, another local group I enjoyed at the Metal Massacre show in January of this year. A sunny evening - and Rock on the Range looming over the weekend - must have kept the crowds at bay as attendance, especially early on at the 7:00 showtime, was sparse. Merchandise was a little underwhelming with a handful of shirts available from the two top-billed acts but, frankly, with fewer disposable dollars than usual, I was satisfied to walk away with a nice Watain tee and a couple copies of the Kingsblood EP (you always gotta buy an extra and spread that gospel).

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. 
Celebrating the release of A King Reborn, Kingsblood offered up the entire contents of the EP as well as a more recent composition celebrating dragons. Specifically, killing them. It is a solid, solid set and the band as unit functions so well that I am always surpised to hear afterward that this or that went wrong, someone wasn't feeling well, et cetera as, from an audience perspective, it's all wonderful. The riffs are etched in stone, the rhythm is muscular, the leads communicate the ice and fire that fuel the Nordic themes and Alex Nida always delivers an engaging experience, involving the crowd and every time I have seen Kingsblood the set has ended with many more people on the floor than when it began. Thursday night's show was no exception. These guys are professionals and, frankly, are of a caliber that exceeds the slots in which they're placed. The power of the performance is undeniable. People pay attention because it's that good and, over time, it's only gotten better. I log at least 150 miles every time I want to see Kingsblood. I burn vacation hours to leave work in time to make the show. It's worth it. I'll keep doing it as often as I can. Following their current course these guys are only going to get bigger and to miss any opportunity to see them at this stage would be foolhardy.
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 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.


  1. Gay Review. All they talked about was Kings Blood and I dont know who they are. I'm accually more of a Beneath the Sea fan more than anything. I saw them before and they're awesome!!! \../ Other than that still a gay review of Watain and they're better

    1. Being as how it was a Gay Review, I focused most on Kingsblood because there are, like, five dudes in that band. Duh... Plus you missed an entire gay paragraph about Black Anvil - the drummer was shirtless, for heaven's sakes!

    2. You should focus nore on Watain because they are the headliners and so what if the drummer was shirtless. He was problly sweating. and so what if Kings blood has 5 members. I've seen better bands that had 6 members

    3. Thank You for your review of our show , Columbus Events Group Productions always tries to bring the Biggest names in Metal on the planet to The Capital City ! Yes , we also pride ourselves on working with the cream of the Columbus local Metal crop ! We just landed The Shockwave Festival , featuring FEAR FACTORY / VOIVOD and a host of others ! Other shows coming ... MARDUK / 1349 ...... MUNICIPAL WASTE / 3 INCHES OF BLOOD .......POWERMAN 5000 ...... GREAT WHITE ........I SEE STARS ..... and a HUGE Death Metal show to be announced soon !! Again Thank You for your review , and come introduce yourself next time your at a CEG show ! - Jeff Stokes & Mary Coffmon - CEG

  2. Thanks for being a Beneath The Sea fan, its always good to hear people enjoy our music and I love Kingsblood myself, we are playing with them for free at The Shrunken Head as well as The Conquering May 27th. And thanks gogmagoical for the review, really glad you dug us this time we always try our best

  3. I couldn't tell if it was Amon Amarth playing or Kingsblood, then I realized there wasn't a true crowd, which let me know it was the rip off of the two.

  4. Anonymous Internet Basement Trolls. Got to love 'em.

    As always, a good review, Gog. Hope to see you out for the free show that Matt is referencing on the 27th since the following Monday is a holiday.