STREAMING: Rage Nucléaire “Endziel”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

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Informed by early Emperor, inspired by Anaal Nathrakh and motivated by long-ignored black metallers Mysticum, Rage Nucléaire might just be Canada’s best new black metal outfit. There seem to be too few from a country dubbed, “The Great White North”, but I digress. Anyway, the history of Rage Nucléaire surprises. No, the French-Canadians weren’t part of a cult black metal sect from the early ’90s or are they a group of evil younglings who’ve just discovered Lords of Chaos on their mom’s Kindle Fire. Actually, Rage Nucléaire is (de)composed of ex-Cryptopsy throatman Dan “Lord Worm” Greening, ex-Cryptopsy guitarist Steve “Dark Rage” Thibault, and mystery man, Alvater. That’s right. Some of death metal’s most celebrated (and reviled, in a good way, naturally) musicians have come together to form an unpretty—no synth reproductions of fjord vistas or dead cities—rendition of the evilest metal.

“‘Endziel’ is about a game of human chess, played in an urban setting (Endziel meaning end-game, or checkmate),” enthuses Lord Worm. “The idea of the urban setting comes from Charles Manson’s “Helter Skelter” bizarre notion of a race war (black vs. white). It’s simply another take on violence, as per Rage Nucléaire’s credo KILL-HATE-WAR-VIOLENCE.”

And Decibel‘s (un)fortunate enough to have landed a streamiere of new track, “Endziel”, from the group’s debut full-length, Unrelenting Fucking Hatred. Now, if you’re one to cast stones before you know what you’re throwing at, well, Rage Nucléaire can’t help sway you from your myopic position on what is/isn’t black metal. If you’re of an open brain, well, Rage Nucléaire is a welcome addition between the Rotting Christ, Ragnarok, and Revenge LPs you openly covet. But, hey, all you have to do is listen.

** Rage Nucléaire’s new album, Unrelenting Fucking Hatred, is out November 6, 2012 on Season of Mist. Pre-order the platter of controversial Canadian splatter HERE.

Fear and Loathing at the Great American Beer Festival

By: adem Posted in: featured, heavy tuesdays, liver failure, stupid crap On: Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

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For the majority of the nearly 50,000 people who bought their tickets to one or more of the Great American Beer Festival sessions (which took place in Denver last weekend) when they went on sale last summer, the opportunity to attend this massive beer tasting event is probably the pinnacle of their craft beer-drinking year. After all, there are approximately 2,700 brews to sample from every corner of the country. For these people, there’s no doubt that it’s about the beer. In fact, it’s easy to spot the serious ones. They’re likely wearing a pretzel necklace and special lanyard for holding their glass when they’re not drinking.

© Brewers Association

But the GABF is filled with all sorts of wackiness that is the result of thousands of people roaming a giant room while drinking constantly for hours. Well, the beer drinking obviously contributes to the wackiness, but plenty of festivalgoers arrive already primed to get their freak on. Dressing up is not discouraged. You get the ladies in revealing dirndls, dudes with foam domes, Zippy the Pinhead, pirates—we even spotted a pedicab driver dressed as Duff Man. For these festers, it’s apparently not enough to attend the session and get their fill of beer, they’ve gotta be part of the whole insanity.

Many of the breweries pouring at the event also contribute to the surreal environment. Over at Sierra Nevada we spotted four people sitting around a tiny bar under a psychedelic canopy drinking beer while they peddled furiously. And, no, we have no idea why. The beer we had consumed previous to this encounter didn’t, surprisingly, help with our comprehension. The festival’s weird orangey fluorescent lighting only made everything that much stranger.

There are also plenty of breweries—despite their notoriety, or perhaps, because of—that do nothing more than hang the generic sign that up that says their name and what they’re pouring. They don’t give out stickers or hang banners or have scantily dressed women pouring their brews, because they just don’t have to. The long lines that form in front of their booths are all the promotion they need. The old maxim that nothing draws a crowd like a crowd couldn’t be more true here.

And speaking of crowds and lines, these will be the biggest impediments you face while trying to navigate through between hundreds of booths. Well, that and whatever level of intoxication you’re operating on. We’re not exactly agoraphobic, but finding a bit of space to actually drink and enjoy the sample we just spent 20 minutes waiting for was an ongoing challenge. We were constantly asked if we were (or mistakenly thought to be) standing in line, even when we were 15 feet from a booth.

You’ve never seen a more bittersweet closing time than when one of the four-plus-hour sessions concludes. The serving pitchers are turned over at all the booths and no matter what sort of sob story you offer, not a drop more will be poured. The well-lubricated beer lovers shuffle toward the doors euphoric from their beer buzz, but also saddened by the inevitable end of this annual event. They’ll no doubt be back next year. Maybe dressed up as tap handle or the members of Devo.

Behexen’s Nightside Emanations: Full Album Stream

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Behexen Band

Finland’s Behexen have the good taste to traffic in occult black blasphemies, and the good sense not to bludgeon their audience, um, senseless.  Christian-slaughtering speeds certainly take their due, but Behexen take the time to smell the burnt-offering entrails, too.  The year 2012 finds the occult Scandinavian crew unleashing its fourth full-length recording in its sixteenth year of Satan-hailing, and Nightside Emanations is a killer.  Catch the whole album right here, and get to know “new” guitarist Wraath (he joined in 2009) and his perspective on Behexen’s past and future.

Behexen has an extensive history.  How have the band’s musical/philosophical goals changed over the years?

Vocalist H.Torog told me this: We have shed our skin after each release, and every time our form has become blacker, darker, sharper and more dangerous.  We have grown spiritually, and also we have been re-born again numerous times. We are not the same  persons as we were 20,  10 or 5 years ago.  We had climbed the tree of Daath and enjoyed its fruits.  We have awakened the sleeping serpent, which now reaches from its glowing chamber.  It has been 20 years with different eras and experiences, but now I feel it is a new beginning!

How have membership changes affected the sound or direction of the band?

Well as I am the newest member of the band I can’t say much about it. But in my opinion not much have changed as it is.  Horns, our drummer that has made all the music up until now, where me and Shatraug has contributed with some material. And on the lyrical side H. Torog has always written everything and focused only on one thing:  his spiritual work and the Left Hand Path. Maybe the only big change has been the focus and dedication which is stronger now than ever. But that’s my opinion.

Do you feel Behexen has musical brethren still active in the current metal scene?

Naturally we have a strong connection to the Nidrosian scene where I live. Also in Finland there are many great persons which I respect. But as a band I feel that Behexen stands alone.

What is the songwriting process like for a Behexen record?

Riffs are worked on at home and then brought to the rehearsal chamber were we put it together, listen and let the energies flow and see what happens. It’s never easy for me to talk about the creative process as it changes all the time. But naturally for this record the rehearsing was intense at times as I have to travel over to Finland for short periods of time and try to use the time there wisely.

How has recording Nightside Emanations been different from earlier records?

That I cannot answer as this is my first recording with Behexen.

How important is the makeup/clothing/prop preparation to Behexen recording or shows?

Very important as we consider every concert a ritual. Also live is where the music will come alive, where the energies flow and the music becomes not only an audible medium but also an visual one. We want to experience it with all senses, and therefore everything is thought through and prepared before a ritual.  It is where we burn with the Serpent’s Fire and spreads the venom of our Gods!

What ideas (either musical or philosophical) are interesting right now to you and influenced the work on Nightside Emanations?

This should be answered by H. Torog as he has written all the lyrics. But I know that Lillith has been of great important to this record.  But for myself I must say that the search inwards can be one of the most inspiring and horrible influences. I read different occult literature mostly connected to the Left Hand Path, I listen to different music also so I really can’t say that ONE idea or thought has influenced me. My well is deep and there are many different demons there.

What are your plans for the coming year?

Hopefully we will do a tour, but the only thing planned right now is the Nidrosian Black Mass in Belgium in February.  Also I think already now we will start to write some new material. The world is moving towards the end and what else can we do than to glorify it!?

Hail Satan!!

A Very Heavy Halloween III: Stallone Vs. Dane Cook & the Kings of Leon

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, listen, lists On: Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

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We’re about two weeks out from the release of American Baby, the driving, effervescent debut from ex-Torche/current MonstrO guitarist Juan Montoya’s instrumental metal outfit Stallone. Burly as their namesake, Limited Fanfare Records describes the EP as “riff oriented, drop-tuned melodies combined with an uplifting expression of aggressive energy” and that seems pretty spot on, though the exclusive stream of the track “Tight Like Tigers” below will give you all a chance to decide for yourselves.

In keeping with this month’s A Very Heavy Halloween theme Stallone also sent along a list of a few people who should die in a horror movie and how. Try to read it through all the headbanging if you can:

Dane Cook: He’s incredibly annoying….Mauled by to death by a werewolf while backpacking through Great Britain with Larry the Cable Guy, the friend nobody likes.

Kings of Leon: The band is playing on stage. They all get shit on by a flock of BIRDS and are pecked to death after complaining there are no plush towels or bird wranglers around.

Jerry Sandusky: He falls victim to the Children of the Corn…with an enormous cob of corn as the murder weapon!

Gene Simmons: This one has a twist…Gene is a very greedy bastard and has much covered all of the seven deadly sins at one time in his life. Imagine Gene and Paul as detectives in the desert on the hunt for a serial killer…they open up a mysterious box only to see a decapitated head copping Space Ace’s makeup.

Check out more over at Stallone’s bandcamp.

Photographer J.M. Giordano on Killer Angels, a death metal portraiture project

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, October 15th, 2012

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If you mention “gallery” and “death metal” in the same sentence we’re probably going to think Gallery of Suicide. Maybe this is a sign of the yawning chasm that exists between extreme metal and art/gallery culture, or maybe it’s just a deeply concerning hardwired word association.

But, if you think about it, aside from the occasional Norwegian black metal exhibition, extreme metal culture hasn’t exactly been rigorously, chronicled, curated and presented in galleries the way that say punk has, for example. Quite why, we’re not so sure. Maybe as a subculture, extreme metal – and in particular death metal – is more self-effacing, not so photogenic or aesthetically interesting to study. But Baltimore photographer J.M. Giordano might take issue with this; not only that, he might be in a position to can change things too.

Giordano’s Killer Angels: Faces of Death (Metal) project is a long-form photography project capturing death metal fans “in the moment”; in black and white, shot against a plain white background. Giordano has got few rules other than that his subjects have got to be at a show with their war face on. You can check out more photos and keep up to date with Giordano’s Killer Angels project here, and get in touch with him at his website. Here’s a little bit from Giordano on the inspiration behind the project.

Where did the idea come from to do a project shooting death metal fans?
J.M. Giordano:
I’ve been into metal since middle school, like nine or 10. My first t-shirts … I had two t-shirts my mother had to pry off my body, one was a Judas Priest Turbo t-shirt and Blizzard of Ozz by Ozzy Osbourne. I’ve always had an interest in metal. I’ve always had been into thrash metal at high school, more like S.O.D. and Anthrax because most of my friends were skaters. But Baltimore has a huge deathfest every year, and I’ve always been away. I’ve either had to work or I have been out of town. This year I was in town and I wanted to photograph it, but we’ve got a really good photographer in town, a guy called Josh Sisk (I think he shoots for you guys occasionally) and he owns live shots, he completely owns live shots. His live shots are amazing, and I knew I couldn’t mimic him. But at the time I was writing about Richard Avedon’s trip across the American West, and having wanted to take the subjects, the individuals he met, out of their surroundings so that they’d just be this cold, harmless, clinical look at the subjects with no background and no landscape. So I thought what if I take this [Maryland] Deathfest, take the kids and the bands literally out of the crowd or just off the stage, and not have any of that noise in the background and just shoot them straight on in a formal portrait. It just took off from there. I just got hooked.

Will you be shooting bands in this project or just fans?
J.M. Giordano: I’ve asked a couple of bands. There are two musicians who are in the pictures on the Tumblr; Shawn from Extermination Angel, and Peter from Whitehorse in Australia. Those were the two musicians I shot. I am going to New Jersey Deathfest next weekend, so I’m gonna see what bands I can get. But the thing with bands is that they’re so busy backstage, and obviously it’s power rock so a lot of them are exhausted when they are finished, and they don’t wanna be bothered. But I’m going to get there early and try talk to a couple of bands and do a more comprehensive look at death metal culture.

There have been a few photographic studies before, about Slayer fans, and Norwegian black metal: but you’re exclusively death metal. I didn’t think that we death-heads were that photogenic.
J.M. Giordano: Well, so far so good. Obviously it depends on the individual. But I am taking them out of the element of the crowd, y’know. I’m isolating the individual, focussing on them and seeing what I come up with. I mean, I had two guys in the series on the Tumblr and they would just not stop rocking. They just kept on, right in front of the white background and that’s perfect. It’s a good way to see the individual, and in the end they are portraits of people. You wanna relate to the person in the image by showing what they’re into.

What is your background as a photographer?
J.M. Giordano: Well I went to the UK, through Scotland on a photo project and was shooting modern Druids in the mid to late ‘90s, and then I went to Prague, lived in Prague for about five years, got my equipment nicked in London, then came back and picked up the camera again just trying to develop my style. I do a lot of conceptual photos. I do a lot of fashion, like boutiques, and I do a lot of editorial work. My influences are… Avedon, even without the white background, Tom Woods is fantastic, Bill Brandt, who is another British photographer, also Don McCullin, who was a very famous British photojournalist.

If anyone wanted to get involved how would they get in touch with you?
J.M. Giordano: Well I don’t have much of a travel budget. I mean this is definitely going to be a book. This isn’t a short-term project it’s going to go on for a year or two or for as long as it takes. You can put my email up if anyone wants to get in touch, but they have to be at a concert, though, that energy really has to be in the photo or you can tell that it’s bullshit. I mean, I really wanna pull these metal fans out of the crowd and say, ‘there you go!’

Are there any bands within the scene that you’d love to shoot?
J.M. Giordano: Oh I’d love to shoot Napalm Death, those guys have been hacking it out for like 30 years. They deserve a museum quality portrait just for their tenacity.

Web: J.M. Giordano
Killer Angels Tumblr

STREAMING: My Dying Bride “A Map Of All Our Failures”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, October 15th, 2012

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Although our European brothers and sisters in despondent doom may’ve had the jump on Decibel this time around, it doesn’t deter our dismal displays of adoration—check out their Hall of Fame record example—for the venerated My Dying Bride. So much so, we’ve got four songs from the Brits’ latest long-player streaming. These tunes of torment are very much in line with what we’ve come to expect from My Dying Bride of late. Slow melancholic guitar lines, paired up solemn violin lines, a tempered tempo and, of course, frontman Aaron Stainthorpe’s tragic tales brought to life by his withering, sometimes vicious vocals.

If it’s raining where you live, well, My Dying Bride’s four songs from A Map Of All Our Failures are an appropriate noonday downer. If it’s not raining where you live, well, it will soon. Trust us. We’re metal bellwethermen after all. Just hit play on the Soundcloud player when the clouds burst and thank us later.

** Visit and like My Dying Bride on Facebook.

** My Dying Bride’s new album, A Map Of All Our Failures, is out now on Peaceville Records. A multitude of formats in a variety of configurations are available HERE. If you’ve never ordered from Burning Shed before, well, they’re awesome. Better than Wild Rags back in the day.

STREAMING: Evocation “Illusions of Grandeur”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, October 15th, 2012

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Back in May, Decibel streamiered Evocation’s “Through The Darkened Peril” from the group’s killer demo/unreleased compilation Evoked From Demonic Depths – The Early Years. In that post, we gave a little background in why they mattered to a changing ’90s scene and how their 2006 reformation—an act of revenge, really—has given five dudes from Sweden a reason to live outside of changing diapers, going to a 9/5, and hitting the pub for a pint on a Wednesday night.

Now on their fourth full-length, Evocation has, in effect, made up generously for lost time in the ’90s. That new album, Illusions of Grandeur, is out now on Century Media Records, the group’s first for the label since signing over from German indie Cyclone Empire. Illusions of Grandeur maintains Evocation’s signature sound, but dials back the tempo for a smoother death metal experience. In fact, we had six-stringer Marko Palmén explain the main differences between Evocation’s newest and the group’s three previous efforts. Hit it Palmén! In B-flat, of course.

“I think the new album is the one which comes closest to the essence of what Evocation really is. We have scaled off the parts of Evocation which we felt didn’t hit the core of our sound. For instance, you won’t find any grind or blastbeats on this album. After analyzing our previous albums we just felt that those elements didn’t give anything for the Evocation sound. The key elements of Evocation have always been melodies, groove and hooks. However, it must also be mentioned that the new album is not less brutal than before. On the contrary, it contains more of fast 2-beats and double bass kick beats which add the necessary brutality.”

** Like and visit Evocation on Facebook.

** Evocation’s new album, Illusions of Grandeur, is out now on Century Media Records. Order it HERE. Or, go an listen to Asphyx. Not the Dutch death metal legends Asphyx. But this Asphyx from Germany. Note the fake smile on the Joker-like shorthaired German dude. Classic!

The Lazarus Pit: SOB’s What’s the Truth?

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, lazarus pit, listen On: Friday, October 12th, 2012

Into the pit?

Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love; stuff that’s essential listening that you’ve probably never heard of; stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for.  This week, we go overseas for some seminal grindcore – but not across the ocean you might think. Instead, we’re jetting across the Pacific to Japan to check out SOB’s sophomore release, What’s the Truth? (Rise Above).

I mean, if you weren’t expecting someone in the land of tentacle porn and extreme splatter flicks to be on the forefront of the most extreme musical genre, you clearly haven’t been paying attention. At the very least, you haven’t read Choosing Death, where our esteemed editor in chief namechecks Japan’s Sabotage Organized Barbarian as a major influence/peer of the almighty Napalm Death. For a band that was right on the cutting edge, though, they rarely receive any credit – maybe it’s because John Peel never played them? At any rate, they were just as good as Napalm or Extreme Noise Terror, but they didn’t have posh accents so you never really hear about them anymore.

Formed in 1983 as a more straight up hardcore unit, their sound had evolved into a punkier variation on grind by the time their 1987 debut, Don’t Be Swindle, was unleashed. As you may notice, that’s the same year that Scum came out (although obviously that record had some delays in its recording process), putting them right alongside the Birmingham collective – and don’t think that the Brummies didn’t take note. The two bands became friends, and even put out a split release in 1989. So even if Swindle still had a little too much hardcore in it for the purists, by the time 1990’s What’s the Truth? rolled around, SOB were well-versed in the gospel of grind.

If Don’t Be Swindle was such an early landmark, why am I covering the follow-up here, I like to think you are rhetorically asking yourself? Simple: the first Black Sabbath record may have been the one that blew open the gates for heavy metal, but relatively few people would argue that it’s their best. They honed their style over the first few albums, and it’s the same with SOB. Whereas the full-length debut consisted of 18 punk-influenced blurs, this one consists of 10 thrash-influenced blurs with some rad groove parts and Engrish gurgling. Terrible production, of course, but we expect no less (more?). It’s a pretty headbanging 20 minutes, one where they hit the sweet spot between grind ferocity and thrash metal musicianship while destroying everything in their path. Are the songs different enough that they’re worth running down individually? Not really, but their collective power is what’s important.

After this record, they put out the more death metal Gate of Doom and Vicious World, and then their singer threw himself in front of a train. Needless to say, that put kind of a cramp in their career. They went through a couple replacement vocalists, including Decibel columnist Kevin Sharp, but despite recording a couple more albums, never really regained their mojo. Still, their first few releases stand as exceptional examples of how to grind intelligently (and barbarically).

Brujeria Revisited: Surviving Mexico

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews On: Friday, October 12th, 2012

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When the idea was pitched for a Decibel exclusive oral history of Brujeria (November 2012, Issue #97), it seemed straight forward enough:  Get the maniacs behind one of the world’s worst-kept-secret bands to dish out a chronological breakdown of the life and times of White Cali’s most feared sonic terrorists.  The reality of weaving such a rich history together turned out to be far more tangled.  Wild stories about brief but important moments unfolded into incredibly detailed epics, while whole swaths of apparently seminal periods (recording Brujerizmo, the band’s now lengthy touring life) were swallowed by confusion and vague descriptions.

The history presented in the magazine is our most coherent representation of the band’s timeline but, as suggested, some of the more colorful tales have yet to be told.  Here is one such glimpse into Brujeria fever, as told by former core member Dino Cazares.

Dino: We played shows not in [Mexico City] but the outskirts, and they were some of the craziest, fucking scariest shows I’ve ever played.  Whatever opening band was on stage, they never got past half a song because the crowd just destroyed them by throwing bottles and beer cans and rocks at the opening band.  They didn’t wanna hear nobody else.  They didn’t give a fuck who it was.  I even told Brujo that we could play a huge, beautiful theater in Mexico but he always chose the most fucked up places to play.  On purpose.  I don’t know why, he just really wanted to keep it fucked up.

It kind of fucked us up because a lot of these places didn’t have dressing rooms, so we would show up and we’d have to walk through the front door with like ten thousand kids… we’d have to walk through the crowd to get to the stage.  There’s no back stage, no back door, nothing.  There’s not even a fire door; if the place catches on fire, you’re dead!  These are the kinds of places we were playing in.  I’m like, oh my god, here I am, I’m in Fear Factory and we’re playing nice places compared to this.

I remember that they had to basically part the Red Sea in order for us to get to the stage.  And they had – I don’t know, maybe 100 security guards – they’ve got these barricade-type things that were parting the [crowd], while we were in the middle trying to get to the stage, the whole crowd pushed and squeezed us.  And I was lifted up in the air, and I’m like fucking 275 lbs.  That was how much we were being squeezed.  I was freaking out, panicking like, “Fuck, we’re gonna die, they’re gonna crush us!”  Somehow somebody pulled me through and we made it.

They had to lift everybody up over the front barricade, and I remember Brujo got lifted up and he landed on the floor and he fucking hit one of the bars on the barricade and his fucking leg swelled up really huge so the show had to get delayed 45 minutes because they had to call the paramedics to come and look at his leg.  So the paramedics finally get there, they look at his leg, they said, “Okay, you’re fine, nothing is broken.”

[Meanwhile] those kids are going crazy.  Our crew can’t even stand on stage, because bottles and everything’s just flying [whooshing sounds].  [I’m thinking,] “Oh my god, we’re gonna fucking die.  I’m not gonna go out there.”  Most artists I know would be like, “Fuck no, we’re canceling the show.  We’re outta here.  There’s gonna be a riot.”  But Brujo’s like, “No they’re gonna calm down once we get out there.”  So we get out there:  [breathes audience applause sound].  We started playing and it was fucking insane.  No more bottles, no more anything.  I mean, I’m up on stage stepping on broken glass… and we’re not talking about little pieces, we’re talking about half-bottles broken with half of it sticking up at you.  Rocks, you name it was on stage, and here I am half the show trying to kick it off so I don’t step on things.

It was an experience that I couldn’t imagine.  And let’s say we played 20 songs, [and we said] “Goodnight!”  [The audience came back with] “Fuck you, assholes!”  They wouldn’t let [us] leave.  We came back and we actually played a few more song… we repeated songs, ‘cause they wouldn’t let [us] leave.  It was definitely an amazing experience.  I’m glad I was able to live to talk about it.

Live Review: PROTESTANT – SOYBOMB HQ, TORONTO, 10/5/12

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, live reviews On: Thursday, October 11th, 2012

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Having shows in one’s place of residence seems like such a big deal to most people. To an old fart like myself, going to see a band play in a basement or living room is as natural as going to see a band play at some place where overzealous security goons get way too familiar with my family jewels before I’ve even got through the front doors and where I’m expected to hand over money on top of the advertised price because a bartender with Grand Canyon cleavage just executed the arduous task of taking a bottle of beer or water out of a refrigerator. That’s just a couple of whines about clubs. Is it any wonder it’s sometimes preferable to attend a show in the admittedly cramped confines of someone’s house? Granted, it’s not the most orthodox way to experience “going to a concert, man” but some people still don’t and never will get the appeal, as is evident via this paraphrased exchange earlier during the day of Protestant’s Toronto debut:

Mrs. KSP: What are you doing tonight?
KSP: Going to a show in Toronto.
Mrs KSP: Who’s playing?
KSP: A band from Milwaukee called Protestant.
Mrs. KSP: (After religious denomination jokes) Where’s that happening?
KSP: I dunno, I think it’s in someone’s house downtown.
Mrs. KSP: What?! You’re going to drive all the way to Toronto to see a band play in someone’s house?
KSP: Yup.
Mrs. KSP: Do you know the people who live there?
KSP: Nope.
Mrs. KSP: So, you’re going to go see a band in some stranger’s house?!
KSP: Yeah…Hey, how long have we been married?
Mrs. KSP: A long time. Why?
KSP: Just checking because you’re acting like this is something new. You know it’s not your first day here, right…?

Sure, one of the negatives of going to a house show is that it sometimes feels like you’re intruding on some close-knit group of friends which kinda adds to the weirdness for already-socially awkward folks (like yours truly), but it’s all about seeing the band(s) I want to see, not trying to infiltrate some dumb social clique. In this instance however, Soybomb is unlike most other house shows I’ve attended or played in my time.

First, the setting. Located in one of the hip parts of downtown Toronto – which likely means once every inch of remaining space is swallowed up by condos and coffee shops and the area is fully gentrified, chances are Soybomb’s residents will be priced out of here in a couple of years – the place is an open-concept, loft-type apartment with high ceilings situated on top of a cycling shop. There’s a small half-pipe in what would normally be the living room and truth be told, this place is bigger than some clubs I’ve been to.

Second, there’s a “fully functioning” PA with speakers mounted on the wall behind where the bands play in the flat of the half-pipe with a small mixing board. They even play tunes between bands. With ample room, a BYOB option, though you could apparently purchase limited amounts of libations and vegan baked goods, this place is cool as shit, reminiscent more of a cozy VFW Hall than most venues you could care to mention. Yes, most people in attendance already seemed to know each other, but I can’t say there was any hostility directed towards first-time attendees like you sometimes experience at small gigs elsewhere. Not that this was “small” by any means for a house show. There were at least 125 people here, though that may seem “small,” it’s not really “small” if you know what I mean. Which I hope you do. I did run into Mike from Villipend and the irony of crossing paths with him at a house show in light of this made me regret not cracking jokes about him scouting for a new place for him and his lady to lay their heads.


[The photos I took at the show sucked, so I grabbed these from their Facebook page...top one was uncredited, the bottom one was taken by PW Moore]

Let’s not forget that Soybomb is relatively clean, especially for a place that hosts punk/hardcore shows and bands. Trust me, I’ve seen and played in some horrific punk houses in my time – places that would probably need to be put under the sort of impenetrable concrete tombs they buried Chernobyl’s reactors under before being demolished to make sure nothing untoward got into the atmosphere – and this place is the Royal Palace in comparison. Why, I remember a house in Tulsa that had the blackest toilet bowl I’ve ever seen on a white toilet and then there was the additional challenge of playing a show while trying to avoid stepping on the dead birds that happened to be on the basement floor.

Anyway, on to the matter at hand. Poor planning on my part meant that I ended up sitting through a couple of the opening bands. Maybe I’m a jerk for saying that, but I checked out the three openers on J. Bennett’s Interhole and knew I wasn’t going to be into any of ‘em, so I attempted avoidance tactics but failed miserably. Upon entering, I was confronted with two bands aping all that’s popular in extreme music as of late and having it loosely regurgitated as you could imagine: the D-beat part goes into the grindcore part which goes into the black metal part then the sludge part which is all fine and dandy if that’s your thing (and you like your music horrendously out of tune), but it’s not mine. So I sat back – more like did my imitation of holding up the wall – and watched the respective bands friends’ loose their respective shit and prove that, no matter how shitty their bands are, they have friends who’ll have their backs in any situation.

When Protestant take to the, erm, flat, it’s encouraging to see that they’re a quartet of mid-to-late 30s dudes. There’s probably something about a connection between underground music and DIY culture “lifers” to be written about here, but I don’t feel like getting all philosophical on anyone’s ass. I already knew Protestant as an balls-out awesome band from the Tragedy-His Hero is Gone-but-catchier school, but it added a little more to my experience knowing there’s some other advanced age action going on in the room. It was even more encouraging to see that they played with twice the energy of a band half their age. First thing worryingly tall bassist Jesse Smith does on the opening notes of the first song is leap an additional seven feet in the air, landing his epic punk rock jump on the slope of the ramp, almost snapping an ankle and taking out a couple patrons with his headstock in the process. The other members are no slouches either; drummer Brian Morrison’s face contorts into this half-orgasm, half-the guy from the cover of Vulgar Display of Power look as he blasts and anchors the material from their new Reclamation EP and the Stalemate album. What else is notable is how full and crushing they sound despite playing through less-than-top notch PA speakers and not even having everything mic-ed. They just plugged in, turned up and played and blew everyone the fuck away.

Afterwards, while scanning their merch – yes, there’s enough space for a merch area for all the bands performing – a conversation was struck up between them and I on the topic of being old, which then gravitated to other old guy topics like the original Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High TV series, cane and walker comparisons, the debate over glucosamine supplements versus aspirin for relieving joint pain and singer/guitarist Cory von Bohlen’s amazement that as old as I am, I still wear a size small (not all of these subjects were actually discussed – see if you can figure out which ones were).

There you have it: my long-winded of saying Soybomb awesome, Protestant awesome, go buy their music and, if you’re in the Toronto area, keep an eye out for any upcoming shows at this kick-ass venue.

http://protestant.bandcamp.com/

http://www.facebook.com/Soybomb.HQ