Rites of Darkness III -- San Antonio, TX -- December 9th-10th, 2011
Friday, Dec. 9th
Adorior (partial setlist)
Author of Incest
Birth of Disease
Gutters of Cum (new song)
Hater of Fucking Humans
The Inner Wolf
Vortex - 11724
From the Devil’s Tomb
Cacophony! Black Sun Dragon’s Tongue!
As I Behold I Despise
Succumb to Dark
Tears of God
Fear Obscurities from Within
Towards the Shrouded Infinity
Transmigration Beyond Eternity
Embrace the Darkness / Blood of the Perished
Slumber of Sullen Eyes
Inquisition (partial setlist)
Nefarious Dismal Orations
Astral Path to Supreme Majesties
Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm
Command of the Dark Crown
Cosmic Invocation Rites
Desolate Funeral Chant
Saturday, Dec. 10th
Midnight (partial setlist)
All Hail Hell
You Can’t Stop Steel
I am Violator
Unholy and Rotten
Black Rock N Roll
Violence on Violence
Black Witchery (partial setlist)
Inferno of Sacred Descruction
Ritual (Blasphemy cover)
Zemial (partial setlist)
Cries Behind the Golden Walls
March of the Giants
Full Moon Necrophilia
De Principii Evangelikum
Words as Weapons
Blood War 3
Gates to the Outside
Ok, so the much anticipated Rites of Darkness III had arrived and nearly half the original lineup was no longer on the bill, but I had my ticket and I was going to make the best of what was left. I arrived to Backstage Live about 30 minutes after doors opened, around 4:30 and I could hear Warmaster starting inside. Unfortunately it took about another 30 to get through the line and right after I got my wristband and made it into the venue Warmaster was done. Infernal Stronghold was the first band that I was able to witness and at this point I was amongst only 20 or so people watching what they had to offer, but within a couple songs they had drawn more of the crowd away from the merch tables and up to the stage. Infernal Stronghold is a crusty blackened thrash/punk band with a focus on the black when it comes to vocals and drumming. Following next was Ritual Necromancy, a young Portland-based Incantation-worship band, which is the style currently popular in the underground death scene. They throw in some doom riffs and different elements that give them potential to rise above their peers in the future. For now their filthy production and brutal live show will allow them to be a hotly watched commodity.
An Australian outfit featuring two members of the almighty Portal, Grave Upheaval plays a blend of psychedelic death/doom. They had the smoke machines going full blast during Grave Upheaval’s set filling the room with a thick fog. The density of the riffs mirrored the smoke in the room and in haze the stoners had free reign to add to the cloud. The venue turned on a ventilation system to clear the room a bit, but Dispirit kept the atmosphere down with doom laced black metal. This actually made for a great intro for the next four bands because from here to the end of the night things just kept getting better. At this point the guys from Weapon were at their table selling merch a people lined up quickly. When I made it to the front both designs of t-shirt in my size were sold out so I got a patch and CD.
Adorior stepped up and really set the tone for the rest of the night, brutality. Their front woman Melissa led the charge into battle with a full black thrashing death metal assault. Adorior was the first band of the night to whip the crowd into a real frenzy. They were also encouraging the crowd to drink heavily in their british accents between songs. This was Adorior’s first US performance, and if the reaction here was any indication this will not be the last. Hater of Fucking Humans garnered a massive roar from the crowd to close their set. “I LIKE TO MAKE THINGS SUFFER, BECAUSE IT MAKES ME FEEL ALIVE!”
Canada’s own Weapon was up next to make their first US appearance as well. The guys in Weapon tore into their set of ruthless middle-eastern influenced black/death metal, sounding flawless in the process. I give a lot of credit to the venue and sound guy for this show because the sound in there was great. The crowd seemed to be well versed with Weapon’s material and horns and fists were in the air throughout the set. Considering they are just north of us I really hope this starts them playing US shows regularly because they can more than hold their own.
Up next we had a little bit of a wait before Demigod, so I headed out to the parking lot to hang out a bit. I ran into a buddy of mine and met some kids who had flown in from Seattle and chilled outside and shot the shit for a while. Since people were blasting music out of their cars we did not hear Demigod start and when we walked back in they were already underway. After a couple tunes it was clear that they were not playing Slumber of Sullen Eyes straight through exactly, but it was still an awesome set nonetheless. The fact that these guys aren’t actively touring is a fucking crime because they were so tight and at home on stage. I actually rather enjoyed their order of song selection as closing with the song Slumber was a great cap to their powerful set.
Inquisition can be a divisive band in the metal scene as not everyone is on board with Dagon’s robotic croaking vocals, but the Rites of Darkness crowd was of course well versed in black metal and ate up every satanic offering this duo served. The kind of sound that Inquisition is able to create as a two piece is truly astounding. I personally feel that Dagon’s unique vocal style adds so much atmosphere to their incredible instrumentation and it sounds so evil, as if his passages are part of ancient chants to invoke the dark lord. After about a 50 minute set Inquisition ended the night at around 1:25am and I hopped in my car and pulled out before the drunk horde continued their party in the parking lot.
According to their Facebook page Saturday was slated to start earlier, at 3, to facilitate more bands on the second day. I left Austin around 2:30 and arrived a little before 4, but no bands had started yet. Everyone was mulling around checking out the merch of the second day bands and it wasn’t until after 5 that the first band took the stage. The first two bands of the day were both representing the Texas metal scene with grinders Pretty Little Flower up first. Those locals in attendance seemed familiar with PLF’s technical grindcore, which contained glimpses of Dying Fetus at times. Blaspherian was the next band to take the stage again representing Texas, but this time with a pure evil death metal. This is an old school riff feast with very few guitar solos, just dark intense riff after riff. If you like the idea of Immolation with slow crushing Obituary moments thrown in, check out this year’s release Infernal Warriors of Death from Blaspherian. More ‘new-old-school’ USA death metal was on next with Grave Ritual taking the stage. These Alabama based death dealers make you think Autopsy with their style of riffing. The audience seemed to be less familiar with these guys, but that didn’t stop Grave Ritual from getting everyone’s heads banging.
The next band nearly stole the whole show with their performance and that was the black speed metal attack of Midnight. These underground titans well deservedly achieved the largest crowd reaction/participation of the two days I attended. After a career of splits and EPs this year marked the long awaited first full length from Midnight and the audience was rabid for the new material. Stage divers and crowd surfers throughout the set and the whole place rocking out made me wonder why they didn’t play later with a longer set.
Adversarial are a Canadian band that play an old school influenced war metal style rooted in Morbid Angel and Mayhem. Unfortunately for them a large portion of the crowd retreated to the parking lot after Midnight to recover a bit, but these guys still put on a brutal show. Black Witchery took the stage cloaked in their standard black hooded robes to deliver some blasphemous black metal from Florida. Someone brought a bible from their hotel room and was tearing it to shreds in the pit and throwing it in the air like confetti from Satan’s birthday party. There were no smiles from these deadly serious pentagram wielding maniacs.
Things were running seriously behind schedule at this point and no set times were posted in the venue, so after waiting around without any new gear being set up we left the venue for a bit to grab some food. The rumors were running wild at that point about whether one of the headliners would not play. When we arrived back to the venue Cianide was into their set, which got cut down to about 35 minutes to make up some time. The old school Chicago death metal veterans in Cianide showed that they could not only keep pace with the younger bands, but also kick it up a notch; which is an understatement. Unfortunately we only caught their last two songs.
They finally posted an updated schedule and it seemed that Ignivomous got moved to Sunday. I would later find out that their bass player got arrested earlier in the evening and there was also a rumor that a member of Antaeus got a warning for pissing on the Alamo Ozzy-style. The previous running order had Zemial closing the night however it would now be a 90 minute Zemial set followed by Antaeus finishing things off. These two sets were two more first time US appearances.
The Greek black metallers of Zemial include some long winding passages in their songs that give them a progressive quality at times but this is Bathory influenced black metal at it’s core. They also have portions that are similar to early Absu and I’m not just saying that because their drummer is their primary vocalist. After over 20 years as a band it is great that they have finally come to the US. Their 90 minute set seemed to wear on the crowd after a while and as it neared 1 am it was clear that fewer people would witness the might Antaeus than watched Inquisition the night before.
After a relatively quick equipment set up and sound check we made our way closer to watch Antaeus from a good vantage point. The die hard fans that remained were treated to a set of hate filled black metal brutality. It was clear from the first song that Antaeus was on a mission to obliterate the memories we had of all previous bands. The corpse-painted 5 piece wearing black shirts, cargo pants and combat boots were both visually and audibly intimidating with frontman MkM stalking around the stage with cold dead eyes peering into the crowd. The pit opened up and was no longer the fun antics of the Midnight crowd, this was a violent affair. I stepped back and found a spot to headbang without the fear of flying fists or bottles. Alongside the kings of the genre these guys play with an intensity that sums up the focused evil that black metal is all about. They played right up until about 1:55 and then as quickly as they took the stage Antaeus was gone and the lights were on. Thus ended my Rites of Darkness experience as I did not attend the third day. If by some stroke of Satan there is another one I am not going to get tickets right away, that’s for sure.
Death and black metals are good.
Last edited by smearCampaign; 12-13-2011 at 01:23 PM.
Reason: added review; updated Demigod set