Despised Icon @ Blender Theater at Gramercy (2/25/2009)

Logo - Despised Icon

Artist: Despised Icon
Venue: Blender Theater (New York, NY)
Opener: Beneath The Massacre, Neuraxis, Plasmarifle, Carnifex & An Autopsy
Date: 2/25/2009
Label: Century Media Records

As far as February was concerned this was clearly a monster Metal fest even though it was bearing no official festival title but had a tour labeled as “The Montreal Assault Tour”. Headlined by Despised Icon, the show that found mostly Canadian talent also delivered the likes of Beneath The Massacre, Carnifex, Neuraxis, and Plasmarifle on the bill. Talk about an exciting Wednesday for the residents of the Big Apple Metal Community. The really affordable show would also give us a local opener called An Autopsy, but I would miss their set and arrive with my associates just before the guys in The Plasmarifle were set to perform. The night outside was rather chilly given the time of year, but inside would be hot based on the amount of music being dished out. The Metal year 2009 had started off strong in terms of shows it would seem as only days ago we had a thundering appearance by Meshuggah and ten days prior to this evening was a massive bill that offered up Soilwork, Darkane and many more. Having been present at those shows it was amusing to me to find myself hitting the third venue in less than two weeks as visits to the Highline Ballroom and Fillmore NY would soon lead me to the Blender Theater for this evenings happenings. Here is how the event went down for those who didn’t make the show.

The Plasmarifle: Hailing from Montreal like many of the bands tonight, the Plasmarifle was the first of the expected attractions tonight. The delivered short set of Metalcore meets Death Metal but with a little bit of Grindcore tossed in for good measure. The crowd was light in terms of numbers when the band was doing their thing but they sure didn’t let that stop them from giving those who swirled around in the couple of pits that begin to build. The band is an independent act and would be releasing some music on a label called Amida Records. If you like those three genres blended together and kept aggressive then you might want to check into them. Their debut release will be titled “While You Were Sleeping The World Changed In An Instant”. Neuraxis was coming up next and I was very interested in seeing them do their thing.

Neuraxis: Prosthetic Records’ own Neuraxis would be touring in support of their technical Death Metal masterpiece “The Line Between” and this was a very satisfying release based on the levels of technical intricacy that had been blended into the brutality and progressive style that the band possesses. They would hit the ground running and it appeared to me that many people were there for them as well and glad they arrived on time considering that they were the third band up at the plate. The release is a good one and I am convinced that those fans who wander the more Progressive side of their Death Metal would enjoy it quite a bit. There are cool drum parts and great riffs to enjoy all across the recording and what impressed me was how good it all sounded live. The band has been at their craft since 1994 which makes sense that there is tightness to their overall delivery and drive. I feel that the union of their sound and that of Prosthetic Records is a good match since they are sharing a roster with many bands that fall together well. Carnifex was coming up next and I had some additional background on them but not as much as I would have liked.

Carnifex: The last time I had known about Carnifex performing in the area was for the show with Obituary and Unleashed that blasted through back in the middle of 2008 and sadly I would not catch them that night. The fans of the two Death Metal legends did not leave me with a good impression about what they did but since I never really listen to everyone’s opinion without forming my own I took their views with a grain of salt. Signed to Victory Records, or as I refer to it the “home of grindcore/metalcore”, Carnifex hit the stage like a tornado with lead singer Scott coming off as a man possessed. He was really into the delivery of their material for this crowd and while the Neuraxis set had excited the crowd to some extent, the Carnifex one was really pushing the bar up a little higher and getting the movement to be a lot more intense in terms of the crowd. This was not Melodic Death Metal or Progressive stuff, and instead was a dose of brutality that was served up with purpose. Given how heavy and fast it was and how the band was acting on the stage I admitted some surprise to think those fans from the Unleashed show who told me that they didn’t enjoy them. I guess that in the end they were only there for Unleashed or Obituary and chose not to be open minded about anything else. Their Victory Records release is called “The Diseased And The Poisoned” and a number of tunes from their set came from this. I know that I will be looking into this album when I get the chance and I can safely say that had I listened to others that I might have missed them again. Let that be an example to all of the Metal heads that they would be better served in making their own judgment instead of opting for a herd mentality. Beneath The Massacre was next. Whew was this night picking up steam but then I took strong notice that there were not too many people milling about.

Carnifex Set: Slit Wrist Savior, Answers In Mourning, Diseased & The Poisoned, In Coalesce With Filth & Faith, My Heart In Atrophy, Lie To My Face

Beneath The Massacre: Another Prosthetic Records band and one I really enjoy who would be touring in support of two smoldering releases on the label. The first being “Mechanics Of Destruction” and the second, their latest slab of molten Metal “Dystopia”. There is no easy way to define the way that BTM does their thing except by saying it is numbing to the senses and literally rips a hole down into your very dark Metal core of being. It’s fast and technical and offers up a considerable amount of changes and on top of this one can rarely catch their breath when the band performs. They are a lot more intense that the headliners Despised Icon and based on the overall drive of their set, I was surprised that they would be direct support as opposed to the main act. The set was in your face which I expected to be the case and music came from both of their releases. The circle pits from the sadly minimal crowd were in full sway during the bands time on the stage and I was distressed to observe the kick-boxing twirling style of mosh activity. I’m clearly old school when it comes to the fact at how one rarely got hurt during the slamming and swirling, but that stuff does no one good. At points security removed those who they caught doing that so the fans might be best served by the information that this only causes an early end to their fun and leaves them on the street missing part of the show. That’s never a good thing in this economy if you asked me. I had to say that I was absolutely floored by the BTM set because it was such an angry section of music. You felt as if you were being knocked to the walls again and again as each of the notes came at you. When they were done the audience took a collective sigh of relief and some rushed to get water to replace that which they lost from their person during the moshing. It would be hard for Despised Icon to follow this set up all that easily but now it was time for them to do it.

Despised Icon: I had last seen Despised Icon perform during June of 2008 for the Summer Slaughter Tour that was headlined by Black Dahlia Murder and saw the likes of Vader, Kataklysm and Cryptopsy on the bill as well. The show was insane but I felt that the presentation of eleven bands with most performing for thirty minutes or less really took away something from the larger whole. It intrigued me to find that a Deathcore band was using two vocalists and while Alexandre sings slightly different from Steve, there is too much of a similarity in this genre for me to discern. Despite this critique of my own the band hit the ground running and were impressing me a lot more than they had managed to do on the Summer Slaughter gig. They are signed to Century Media Records and their latest album “The Ills Of Modern Man” has been receiving some praise and since the time that I caught them there seemed to be a little shift in the lineup. Gone was Al Glassman who had left the band to join rising stars Job For A Cowboy. Their new material would soon find us via the recording they are planning to call “Day Of Mourning” and despite the groove being a little slower than the ones we had just enjoyed with the two lead in bands, the crowd was digging what was going on. With two lead singers the band is one that consistently eggs on the crowd to participate in the gig and the audience does seem to respond to it. They are very animated in terms of their facial expressions and calls to battle and I had to say that I did like them a lot more this evening having been given the chance to enjoy a longer more well put together set. The band had also released their first ever DVD on Century Media Records called “Montreal Assault Live” and it was filmed in their hometown. It was nice to see a band from that region heading up a gig and bringing their fellow countrymen along for the ride. The down side would be the sense of “where is everybody” that I was getting from the overall lack of crowd.

Yeah, it was sad to report this, but there were maybe at best two hundred people in the venue for this one which was a shame since everyone who performed did such a great job. I don’t think it was a matter of lack of interest as much as it was the fact that we just had Meshuggah and Soilwork rumble through town over the course of two weeks and this coming Friday would be Cradle Of Filth who were touring with a highly anticipated Satyricon as their opener. I had to admit that I was rather psyched for this one myself even more than the headliner who I know I enjoy in concert. Given all of those shows in sequence and people being forced more often to pick and choose it was easy to see why we were not jammed in here this evening. I am sure that all of these groups will return in one sense or another so be sure to support them if you find them interesting. Now for some much needed rest and the preparation for Cradle Of Filth.

BTM Set List:
1. Society’s Disposable Son
2. Reign of Terror
3. Our Common Grave
4. No Future
5. Nevermore
6. Harvest of Hate
7. Untitled
8. Comforting Prejudice

DI Set List:
1. Furtive Monologue
2. A Fractured Hand
3. Immaculate
4. Warm Blooded
5. Sheltered Reminiscence
6. Ills of Modern Man
7. Sunset Will Never Harm Us
8. Retina
9. Fainted Blue Ornaments
10. In The Arms Of Perdition

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