Venue: Mr. Smalls
Source: Yours truly
This gig report is rather belated (almost a week after the fact), but as it turns out, maybe it’s for the best. I have to say that the real reason for this has more to do with how busy I’ve been lately than any intentional delay in light of certain thoughts I have about the show, but as I said, perhaps it’s better that I waited – whatever the reason.
The reason I say this is that I had really mixed feelings when I left the venue last week, but after thinking about it some – as well as getting into some mild debates with some folks about what happened and what didn’t happen – I think I have a much clearer perspective on things today than I would have last week.
So enough rambling – here’s the skinny:
My brother and I made the two-hour drive from Cleveland for this show. Originally, the reason was that the mighty Behemoth
was playing with the surreal Watain
– a bill which is simply not to be missed. However, after the announcement that Watain
would not be joining the tour until a few shows later due to visa problems, we still felt that the fact that Nergal was taking the stage for only the second time in the U.S. since his well-documented battle with leukemia was reason enough to make the trip. Little did we know that there would be many other reasons the trip would be worth making as well.
So anyway, we did end up missing out on most of In Solitude
’s set – not that we didn’t try to make it in time, but basically because of the time we left and the amount of time it took to get there. Everybody we talked to said they were good, though. In the time between their set and the next, I started looking for familiar faces and spotted our very own RAZOR by the bar, so I went over and introduced myself. It wasn’t long before Moobys37 found us, and before we know it we had a little MS mini-meetup thing going on.
Soon afterward, The Devil’s Blood
started sound-checking, so we said our temporary goodbyes and picked our spots for the next act. Now since I hadn’t mentioned it before, now would be a good time to mention that this venue is actually an old church. This is an awesome factoid for two reasons – first, the high ceilings and wide-open aspect of the building made for a really good venue in terms of visibility and acoustics, but also the fact that a band comprised of bona fide card-carrying Satanists was playing their catchy brand of devil music on a stage which was likely located exactly where the church’s altar used to be was a nice piece of irony that added to the atmosphere in a big way.
As the eerie notes of the opening intro “Unending Singularity” rang out, the lights slowly came up just enough to reveal the band members – a bass player, drummer and no less than three guitarists – standing oddly erect and stark-still (they weren’t playing yet – this track was being routed through the PA), drenched in blood and staring blankly into the audience. Front man Selim Lemouchi had a particularly evil look on his face, as if he were trying to bore holes in the skulls of the audience with his eyes – he also had noticeably more blood on him than the other band members. As the drummer started playing and the guitarists began shredding, the group’s vocalist – the formidable Farida Lemouchi appeared from stage right and slowly approached the microphone. When she got there, she too took an oddly erect posture and waited with a look of extreme focus on her face for her vocal parts to begin. When she started singing, I was blown away. She’s good. Damned good (pun fully intended).
So as this powerful band of Satanists plowed through song after song of occult rock filled with lyrics focused primarily on their dedication to their faith, it became clear to me that these folks, like their friends in Watain
(whom I had seen last year at a particularly enlightening show) were on the stage as much for purposes of worship as they were for purposes of entertainment. At virtually no point did any of the band members address the audience, other than the obligatory but very short “thank you” at the end of the performance. Nevertheless, entertain they certainly did – or perhaps “stimulate” would be a better word – and even though their music in and of itself is something I would normally dismiss as being “not really my thing”, I was very glad to have seen their set, and can honestly say that they were one of the best surprises of the evening.
I’ve managed to piece together some of their set, based on some lyrics I was able to pick out and match up with a little help from Google, but the set list is rather cloudy for me between their first half-dozen songs or so and the closer, which was most definitely the memorable and highly contagious “Christ or Cocaine”. Here is what I was able to come up with:
The Devil's Blood
Unending Singularity / On the Wings of Gloria
Fire Burning (?)
The Thousandfold Epicentre
The Time of No Time / Evermore
(? I believe they played another song in here – maybe two?)
Christ or Cocaine
So after the above set, the MS crew re-grouped and shot the proverbial shit some more. It was during this time that I got to meet another member of this forum, the very metal BlackmoreOfBolwing.
We talked for a bit about upcoming shows, recently released albums that are awesome, and most of the other stuff you would expect a bunch of nerds who know each other from a metal-related discussion forum to talk about.
…and then it was time for Behemoth
Now, I normally try my level best to go into each and every show with no expectations whatsoever. However, try as I might to avoid it, I couldn’t help but think that this show was going to be simply incredible since it was only the second show of the tour (so energy levels would hopefully still be quite high), and considering how glad Nergal was just to be on stage doing what he loves most (a fact which he confirmed in no uncertain terms later on in the show).
But that’s the problem with expectations – and it’s exactly why I try to avoid having them.
Regardless, I find it pretty difficult to describe just how stoked I was when Nergal finally took the stage (fittingly, to a huge chant from the crowd of his name repeated over and over
). That alone was worth the price of admission and the two-hour drive. The rest was really just icing on the cake. They launched into “Ov Fire and the Void”, which may be what they’ve been doing for a while lately, but that didn't bother me. They could have been playing a cover of “Mary had a Little Lamb” for all I fucking cared. Regardless, they finished up with this monster and then launched into the first of three tracks of the night from the Demigod
album (which is their best – if you disagree with me, then clearly you are wrong). I was just so psyched I had to take a video of it with my crappy little point-and-shoot camera (which is all I took with me, since I figured I would be too jacked up for the show to be trying to videotape it, plus I wasn’t sure I would be allowed to do so anyway). The link appears in the set list below. I will also post links to a few other videos I took when I get them uploaded, but for now I’m not telling you which songs they are because I just feel like being a dick like that.
I won’t go through a blow-by-blow description of the set, but suffice to say that for me, it was a decent mix of material from their most recent album (four tracks), my favorite album (already mentioned) and a few old tunes. Sure, there could have been a few more old songs played. Sure, they could have played “Shemhamforash” or “Daimonos” instead of the others they played. Sure, it would have been awesome if they had played for three fucking hours…but the most important thing is that they showed up and kicked our asses for around an hour with a whole mess of awesome blackened death metal.
Speaking of which, without further ado, here is the set list:
Ov Fire and the Void
KEEPING IT OLD SCHOOL, BITCHES!
The Thousand Plagues I Witness
Alas, The Lord Is Upon Me
The Seed ov I
Decade ov Therion
At the Left Hand ov God
Slaves Shall Serve
Chant for Eschaton 2000
23 (The Youth Manifesto)
Also, there were some other high points worth mentioning. The light show was fucking FANTASTIC. They spent some serious coin on whatever gear they had on stage with them that night, that’s for sure. The lights were bright and intense, and they were cued really well to the music, which added to the heavy atmosphere big time. Normally I’m not a sucker for stuff like that, but this time I was really impressed. Also, the playing was very tight on all accounts. Inferno was a fucking madman as always. Nergal gave just about everything he could have, given his recent battles. Orion and Seth were beasts as well.
All in all, even though Watain
didn’t play and there were some other factors that weren’t quite perfect, it was a damned fine evening of Satanic occult rock, nerdy metal fans talking shop, and perhaps most importantly, a nice meaty slab of extremely heavy blackened death metal delivered by some of the best in the business, including a front man who recently looked death in the eye and said, “I’ll go when I’m ready, fucker. Now piss off, son – cuz I’ve still got a ton of shit to do.”