Venue: Blender Theater at Gramercy (New York, NY)
Opener: Merrimack, Mantic Ritual, Black Anvil, Nachtmystium
Label: Regain Records
After the rather intense happenings of last week I was almost thankful that there was a few days breather for me after the chaos experienced at the GWAR show. That was probably the wildest and most dangerous room I had walked into for a show in a long, long time (and remember that I was saying this after only seeing Municipal Waste a couple of days prior). Now with my composure regained and the fright of a moving barricade gone from my mind for the most part I was at the ready to welcome back the one and only Marduk who were back as they had promised us a number of months ago when they did those three East Coast shows. Their return was for a full length tour called the “US Plague Tour” and it found Nachtmystium, Merrimack, Mantic Ritual and Black Anvil setting up the night for them across the hapless cities of America. Like many shows in NYC tonight’s gig would have a local opened but we missed Dimention entirely and arrived just in time to see Black Anvil take the stage. Here is how the night progressed for any foolish enough to have missed it.
Black Anvil: Great powerful set, but I expected as much from these rising stars in the Metal scene. Black Anvil has been making some serious noise over the last few months and now have officially released their “Time Insults The Mind” debut CD on Relapse Records. The interesting thing about Black Anvil is in how some of the bands members were well known in the Hard core scene but I think that this is what adds to their appeal because it honed their skills for the crushing Black Metal that they play together. I didn’t snare their set list but can safely say that everything performed this evening can be found on the CD which is of the very highest recommendations. In the live sense this is a powerful band and they are winning over the often skeptical fans in droves. They are fronted by bassist Paul Delaney who assaults the instrument with cruel intent. His playing is powerful mind you, but he smashes the thing like it owes him money. Good luck guys, you will not be an early starting band for too much longer if the Metal powers that be are paying proper attention. Next up on the bill would be France’s own Merrimack.
Merrimack: From France doth the Black Metal hail and from the moment they hit the stage you could just feel the intense evil permeating around the venue. Make no mistake this was a Black Metal band tried and true and perhaps showed the masses that were now huddled together inside the Gramercy that you don’t have to be Norwegian to be worthy providers of the format. They are fronted by an intense inhuman being called Terrorist who was sporting enough spikes on his armbands to keep your local hardware store in business for a year. He growled and screamed the bands blasphemous message with a sense of intent that would frighten the hardest of individuals based on its ferocity and I had to say that for a band that was making their first ever quest to this region that they were going over rather well. There’s was a smart choice for the Marduk show and while the stage setting for them was at best “bleak”, the point was being driven into our heads musically like nails into a tree. Tonight would also be the first time that I saw an upside down crucifix affixed to a guitar body and this was not just paint but an actual small cross. I guess we should have expected things of this sort from a musician who goes by the name Perversifier. Merrimack’s newest album is entitled “Grey Rigorism” and be aware that this is the super extreme stuff in terms of the subject matter so if you are easily offended and worry that your music will turn you to the dark side you might want to proceed with caution if this band interests you. I’m confident that their very welcome reception tonight will find them returning soon. We’ve been getting some cool Black Metal shows over the past couple of years and I don’t see that process ending soon. Up next the guys in Mantic Ritual.
Mantic Ritual: It’s been awhile since I’ve seen these young stalwarts of the Metal way and since the last time that I caught them they have had a key change in their lineup. Gone is singer/guitarist and founding member Dan Wetmore and in his place handling both roles comes Dave Watson. The band was formerly known as Meltdown and delivers a quick-paced classic Thrash Metal sound that does over well depending on the show that they are performing on and while it appeared that some folks were buying into it this evening, I was also noticing many who could not care less about this genre being included in the larger Black Metal event that tonight was proving to be. I admit that I enjoy them but will also agree that I scratched my head at their inclusion on this one. The are signed to Nuclear Blast Records and their debut is entitled “Executioner” and it is a recording that was met with some serious approval insofar as it lauded how capable these lads were at defending the traditional faith and were perhaps among the new generation of Thrash bands greatest champion. They would perform with energy this evening but that has always seemed to be the case when I reflected upon the other shows I saw, but the question remains is will the dramatic switch in front man for a band that is still on the ever higher ladder of Metal success prove to be their undoing or their best move yet. Only time will tell, and one can also hope that they find themselves on more like-minded bills as opposed to ones like this where they are delivering their message to a crowd that is focused on one sound. Their Century Media Records contemporaries in Warbringer seem to be getting on every bill of that kind and one can only hope that the same luck befalls Mantic Ritual. I felt this set was good at best but also feel that I am still warming up to the roster change and was also more in tune with the Black Metal happenings of tonight. Keep rocking guys, and now a little Nachtmystium.
Nachtmystium: I would have to say that the last time that I saw Nachtmystium also happened to be the first time that I saw them and this was with a rather short set as opener for Opeth. I liked what I saw but didn’t manage to dig too much deeper into their unique blend of Psychedelic and Black Metal. This is an interesting band without question and vocalist/guitarist Blake Judd keeps you focused on their material every second of their set. Theirs was a great set to lead us into the darkness of Hell with Marduk because it was just different enough to remain special in our minds. While a Black Metal band for the most part, they are utilizing other genres to a great effect and bringing forth an entirely new vibe to this sound. They are now signed to Century Media Records and their latest release is entitled “Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1”. You’re not imagining the Pink Floyd album of the same name spelling of course with “Meddle” and as the band uses some Psychedelic elements this makes perfect sense at the end of the day. Their set would feature three songs from this release and some older material as well but oddly enough nothing came from the previous album “Instinct: Decay”. Perhaps they felt they toured that one to death and it was time to change things up. They would also deliver a cover of G.G. Allin’s “I Kill Everything I F**k” and sadly this set breezed by us way too fast. I would have sacrificed the local opener if it would have given us one more tune apiece from the main touring acts but that would not be how this worked out tonight. After a few minutes of deep breathes, the audience composed themselves as best as possible to be at the ready for the return of the Swedish Black Metal titans………Marduk.
Marduk: Fans might recall that Marduk was originally supposed to participate on the Blackenedfest that took place towards the close of the Summer but the ever worrisome VISA issues prevented the band from taking part in that show and instead found them coming over to visit the USA for three quick regional appearances. These shows featured both Withered and Black Anvil and were a great success but only truly whet the appetite of the Black Metal unfaithful who had waited for the band to return to their specific areas for so many years. With the paperwork in order the band did come back and it was not a false promise from these bringers of the Black Metal chaos who made sure that this trip was sooner rather than later. I welcomed this because there are far too many times where we hear “we will be back soon” and you never hear from the band again or wait a number of years for the shows to happen. Marduk was also back for the attack with their latest release of “Wormwood” available on Regain Records, the company that only recently had remastered their full back catalog and presented the fans with some extra material.
Named after a Babylonian deity, Marduk took the stage like a force of nature with lead singer Mortuus in full command of the proceedings. From the second they hit the boards this is an exciting Metal time and is akin to a rollercoaster moving at top speed in a straight path downhill based on just how out of breath you become while they do their thing. Needless to say Mortuus is an intense individual and almost regal in how he handles himself up there. The audience is hypnotized by his gaze and he holds you to task to respond properly for the message he is putting out there with the band and their music. It was interesting to find the band only choosing to deliver three numbers from the excellent “Wormwood” but in some views that makes sense based on just how long it had been since the band toured here. They would deliver material from both “Plague Angel” and “World Funeral” and even “Panzer Division Marduk” to name a few which in the end gave their audience a sampling of the best that they had to offer their Metal appetites. Despite their music going by the listeners in the audience so fast I had to say that I was impressed at the fourteen song rundown and felt that the entire evening was well worth the price that the fans paid to get in. I was also more firm in my belief that it was a good thing that they did not participate in that Blackenedfest and was confident that on any return for Marduk to the USA that it would need to be as a headliner. That is unless they are opening up a tour for Danzig or some other high commanding official in the Metal armies who easily will fill up a space like Roseland Ballroom, Nokia Theatre or larger. This show should have been setup for the Fillmore NY because that would have allowed a few hundred more Metal fans to get inside the place and not miss out. Perhaps next time, and you know that Marduk will not leave us hanging for that long after this run.
Oddly enough this was supposed to be my second to last heavy duty Metal show for the year as I was originally planning on seeing the Hatebreed gig that was scheduled for the coming Friday. A last minute change in how I get to participate in this stuff properly for your eager eyes found me no longer having this on my agenda and in the end I didn’t care because that meant that one more day of recovery from the mind blowing Black Metal show that was just delivered was possible. I would now have a full week to compose myself and close out the year with Classic Hard Rock legends Zebra. 2009 was a damn good year for shows and one had to wonder could 2010 raise the bar at all? Only time will tell.
Nachtmystium Set List:
1. Your True Enemy
2. Ghosts Of Grace
3. Cold Tormentor
4. Life Of Fire
5. Hellish Overdose
7. I Kill Everything I Fuck (GG Allin)
Marduk Set List:
1. With Satan And Victorious Weapons
2. On Darkened Wings
3. Into Utter Madness
4. Still Fucking Dead
5. Beyond The Grace Of God
6. Materialized In Stone
7. Phosphorous Redeemer
9. The Levelling Dust
10. Baptism By Fire
11. To Redirect Perdition
12. Steel Inferno
14. Panzer Division Marduk
Official Web Site: www.marduk.nu
Official Web Site: www.myspace.com/nachtmystium
Official Web Site: www.myspace.com/maticritual
Official Web Site: www.myspace.com/blackanvilny
Official Web Site: www.myspace.com/merrimackofficial