First, the venue. Screamin' Willies sits far on the east side of Columbus (think east like "Pennsylvania") and, apparently, usually splits its time between hip-hop and country. The metal showcase occupied a country side with plenty of genre decor and a large floor that one must guess sees a lot of line dancing. Facades aside, it was a large room with lots of space to sit or stand, everywhere a good view of a decent-sized stage. The sound in the room was good though most acts seemed to suffer from some woes in the set-up department. Acts switched in and out quickly and everything seemed to move smoothly across over five hours of music.
|Jacob Shively / photo by gogmagogical|
Much like the hallowed Skeletonwitch, Dismemberment get stage presence and, most importantly, get what's right for their sound. There's no choreographed Tipton/Downing rocking nor immovable, emotionless monoliths such as Cannibal Corpse. Each member plays his role to perfection - be it J.D. Henderley's spiraling, increasingly manic spasti-sasquatch-tistic™ attack on the bass, Taylor Emerine's faceless, heartless abuse of the drums as if starring in a Bill Lustig picture, or the telluric currents of electricity flowing freely between the brothers Shively that would leave Nikola Tesla dumbfounded - each simply operate in what appears to be the comfort zone of someone fully engulfed in the moment of music. To witness this is a powerful, powerful thing and Dismemberment manage to pull this off every time I have seen them live.
|DISMEMBERMENT / photo by gogmagogical|
The polar opposite of Dismemberment, then, had to be VadimVon. In their defense, they're not a band I know nor a sound I gave any time to cultivate and perhaps it was just an off night. The two guitars never quite seemed to find a balance or groove that worked and the frontman played the disaffected role unconvincingly. The crowd never seemed to warm to them, either, with the set leaving the room largely motionless and underwhelmed, essentially killing the momentum Dismemberment had built.
Grave were up next. They're a band I know, not one I follow. They delivered a muscular, aggressive set that had the floor jam-packed - possibly with the biggest crowd of the evening - with a pit in full effect. VadimVon would be well-served to watch and learn as frontman Ola Lindgren was able to convey hostility while uniting the crowd to his cause without coming across as angry and alienated. Their sound was ragged in all the right places and the set lean enough to leave the listener wanting more. Indeed, I do, and some Grave will find its way onto my shelves in the near future.
|Dark Funeral / photo by gogmagogical|
Dark Funeral were a hoot. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Fully painted and outfitted, they of course recalled my recent experience with Watain, but they never seemed too dour. The band was constantly mobile, players shifting positions throughout each number, vocalist Nachtgarm was conversant and engaged and, yes, they did start a few too many songs with their backs to the crowd, but Dark Funeral seemed to be having fun, too. As with the best of current black metal, they struck a nice balance between melody and power. Having only dabbled in their discography online, I only recognized a few tracks, "666 Voices Inside," "Stigmata" and the relatively recent "My Funeral." All in all, they weren't nearly as theatrical as Watain (and, admittedly, they don't quite approach them musically), but for five corpsepainted Swedes playing a room decorated with a Budweiser Clydesdale, mechanical bull and lighted "Honky Tonk" sign, they pulled it off. It was also nice to see them interacting with fans after their set, actually speaking, smiling and posing for photos instead of sullenly retreating to a dark spot to sacrifice a possum and cultivate interesting odors.
|Morbid Angel / photo by gogmagogical|
|Trey Azagthoth / |