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Witnessed

Cult Of Luna, Suffocation, Pelican, 2008

23/10/08  ||  The Duff

Where: Brighton, Illinois
When: The past four months, 2008
Venues: Concorde 2, Pearl Room, Engine Rooms
Why: Duh?
Countries: UK and USA

I know what you’re thinking, my bright little nuggets; “how the fuck do these three bands belong together? Well, two of them do, at least. I think I’ll have some marmite-on-toast and Ribena now, followed by masturbation. Now there’s three things that go hand in hand.” Well, I caught and raped the Cult of Luna show about two months back at Concorde 2, only to conclude the support acts weren’t up to much; then I captured and molested the Suffocation gig in Chicago about a month later, only to conclude the support act wasn’t up to much; then I harnessed and violated the Pelican gig about two weeks ago, missing supporting act Torche BECAUSE THE CONCORDE 2 FUCKED ME IN THE ASS AGAIN by re-allocating the gig to The Engine Rooms (Suffocation had been canceled last, according to Frank because of serious incompetence on the part of the venue’s management). Or maybe I just forgot where the gig was being played.

Cult of Luna

Having grown comfortable with this band’s latest and finding it just as fine a record as past offerings, I was looking forward to this event as primarily I wanted to discover how two of my three favourite post-whatever the fuck fucken hardcore deluxe with clean shit (nailed it) bands, namely Isis and shock CULT OF LUNA, would measure up alongside each other, the former being probably in my top-five ever, hmmmmmm, jugs with over-sized aureolas. The support act, Devil Sold his Soul, failed to encourage me to move on from the bar, so it was the Megalodon Swedes’ entry song, “Following Betulas”, otherwise known as “Surprise, bitches! The last track off our new album!”, that drew me into the venue.

Cult of Luna feat. Michael Jackson

The sound was phenomenal; one of the best I’ve heard coming from a professional live act – almost like on record in terms of clarity combined with a tenfold heaviness which makes one comprehend why they write music the way they do, riffs that unfortunately lose their potency in being transferred to CD; if ever a sub-genre needed to sound governing in a live setting, it would be post-whatever the fuck fucken hardcore deluxe with clean shit, and Cult of Luna definitely delivered on such an account, even during the sections with a diminished level of gain. I was most surprised to find Klas Rydberg (one of my heroes ever since hearing “Salvation”) largely absent, vocal duties predominantly being tackled by guitarist Johannes Persson; the guy didn’t sound far removed from the almighty “one set of testicles and a mouth-Rydberg”, so I had no complaints (initially because I was so transfixed by the wall of noise embodying the band’s live sound) – Klas made an appearance some halfway through, and his presence was welcome, if a little unnecessary due to the guitarist’s competence as a vocalist.

The rest of the tracks played were “Eternal Kingdom”, “Ghost Trail”, the couple of “interlude” tracks off the latest (receiving a couple of raised eyebrows and other responses like “wtf?!?!” and “lulz”), the halfway, heavy part of “Echoes” and “Leave Me Here” (the latter in its entirety), and a couple off “Somewhere Along the Highway”; as much as I praise the aforementioned album, I was a little gutted that absolutely no tracks off the first two records were played, but then the strength of this band live is such that even the mellower material off the band’s 2006 release complemented the overall setlist – their closing moment, the mammoth build-up that is (to the best of my recollection) “Dark City, Dead Man”, was truly glorious; I couldn’t have chosen finer tracks off of “Salvation” (the two most obvious choices), and they understandably have to promote the latest to the full extent allowed them before old-time fans like myself start scratching their asses and chiming “Wut’s goin’ on ‘ere, then?”, so in conclusion, this was an amazing show that obliterated both times I’ve seen Isis live. 10

Suffocation

This was my second time seeing Suffocation, but whereas before I was merely a casual fan, this time I idolized them for the death metal masters they are. The venue was The Pearl Room in Illinois, where I had previously witnessed Morbid Angel and Behemoth some two and a half years ago (where the now legendary debacle between Exodus and staff/security over the ejecting of some young kid for “unruly behaviour” took place); a reasonably large place, no doubt, made ever more apparent by the thirty people who turned up – I’m not taking the piss, for the almighty death legends; it’s a sad state of affairs. This was kind of a temporary thing for the opening act (who weren’t any way stimulating), but I estimate this figure only doubled at the very best when the New York squad took the stage.

Anyways, as for the show, Suffocation gave it their all; Frank Mullen sounds and performs in demonic fashion onstage, a trait offset by his comedic banter between songs. The guitarists in this band are unbearably gifted, but unfortunately for Guy Marchais, quite lopsided in terms of talent – Terrence Hobbs is an incredibly natural guitar player, untouchably so; his one fuck-up (a slightly mis-hit, climactic high-note in one of the solos) resulted in a brief pained expression followed by a frustration-fueled shredfest that went beyond the boundaries of the original solo, all completely on-the-spot and executed with a fearsome degree of precision.

One thing this show really brought to light was the strength of the new songs (the solos especially), as although I may be one to wish for the return of more complex structures to the band’s formula, live, each riff off the latest sounded absolutely huge. New-ish bass player, Derek Boyer, is an astounding asset to the Suffocation live-presence; all the right poses, metal spirit, long, golden, sunshine hair and spot-on musicianship combined make him fit in to meet with Suffocation’s professional standards, as if he had been amidst their ranks since the early days (even if he never will comprehend Frank’s harder-than-bullion combat stances). Mike Smith was restricted to a reduced kit, by the looks of things, and its hysterical how this didn’t limit him in the slightest – tight as fuck and a sound about as direct and loud as possible without drowning out the venue, the guy was the final piece to this performance of insanely high-grade proportions.

The tracks covered were “Abomination Reborn”, “Bind Torture Kill” (maybe one more off the new one), “Thrones of Blood”, “Depths of Depravity” (I think), “Torn into Enthrallment”, “Infecting the Crypts”, another track from “Effigy…” possibly, something off “Despise the Sun” (have yet to tackle this one, so can’t be more specific) and “Pierced From Within” as a closer – if my memory serves me correctly, they played nothing from “Souls to Deny”, and fuck knows why.

Suffocation

As for how incomprehensive (or just plain inaccurate, haha!) my recollections are, you know, I have things to do between the gig and concocting this beast of a literary piece, like jacking it and wallowing in self-pity amidst bags, and bags of Cheetos, laid out on my bed and ready for consumption, so tough shit to you for missing these shows in the first place.

The gig ended with seeing Mike Smith walk through a “No Entry” door, resulting in my friend Bill having the bright idea of walking through an unlocked door leading to a pool-hall of sorts in the concert room’s adjoining building (genius, I say; security, these days, for the rich and famous), where Suffocation were toasting to the caviar and fine wines laid out in their honour by the most accommodating hosts that are concert organizers. Upon our appearance, the rest of the band seemed to shuffle away, but Frank was decent enough to give us giddy little schoolgirls the time of the evening, talk about his whacky humor and why he’s so misunderstood when talking about making love to a woman using nothing but a hacksaw, no foreplay.

The night continued with me and my buddy gawking at all the jailbait (I’m getting just a tad long in the tooth, these days), verbally assaulting them for not having sufficiently fleshed out buttocks (cries of “GET ON A FUCKEN STAIRMASTER” resulted in meathead intervention – did my buddy deserve it? All he wanted were some beefy thighs to admire, thereby satisfying the pervert within us all); definitely one to remember – the band’s performance was aces, and meeting Frank was a plus (and I got Hobbe’s signature guitar pick), but not enough tracks from “Effigy…”, none from “Breeding the Spawn” and “Souls to Deny” (quite a minimal setlist, all taken into account), and a terrible opening band gives this an: 8

Pelican

I nearly missed the Pelican gig, not only because I’m not that big a fan and couldn’t be bothered to trek down to The Concorde 2, but also because of the venue change. The show ended up really altering my perspective of this band, as live, much like Cult of Luna, Pelican seriously come into their own; I haven’t heard a band really hit me this hard in the solar-plexus with slow-paced riffing since Neurosis or Crowbar, indicating that these bands really lose a lot transferring their material to disc. Some of the songs I had never heard before the event (having only listened to the full-lengths, and only being a casual fan), but so strong was their performance that I purchased everything else lacking from my collection, not wanting to take the risk of missing one song experienced from the show.

Bird band

The complaints are few; the sound was amazing (the close, personal, hot-as-hell venue certainly made things more interesting), yet I could only completely make out the one guitar; not the end of the road during the heaviest moments, but for the clean sections, I found a large chunk to be amiss. Secondly, the bass player and the second guitarist (the taller one) didn’t know how to headbang to their music properly, seeming to more awkwardly shake their heads out of time with whatever was being played (this isn’t a serious criticism – jokes, y’all). Great gig, even with the omission of Torche. 8

Note: Don’t know if this is all too important to any of you, but Pelican have just had all their gear swiped (Italians and crime? Who would’ve made the connection?), and so I figured it wouldn’t hurt putting up their PayPal e-mail (pelicanrobbed@gmail.com) in aid of getting them back on their feet. This band is incredible, and it would be a shame to see them go under, so support them if you can. I’ll just get off my high-horse, here…