Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Gathering of Madness, with Sarjan Hassan, W.I.D.B., Atomicdeath, Vault, Succubus, WWHIRR @Rumah Api

Shows at Rumah Api usually feature several bands that I'm overly familiar with, with a few thrown in that I haven't seen before. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth going, especially as I've seen a few of these bands almost monthly since my first appearance in April. Honestly, how many raw angry grindcore bands does one need to see in a lifetime? But there's always the nagging feeling that I may miss something crucial and original happening in my own backyard, so I drag myself away from my computer and suspend my natural disposition to hate everything for about 4 hours.

With Man and Manusia from Sarjan Hassan and Emi from Tools of the Trade, openers WWIHRR are something of a Rumah Api supergroup. Their guitar-less, bass-driven power violence and epic slow parts instantly recall Man is the Bastard/Bastard Noise. Throughout their set, religious-tinged choral music played in the background, adding an extra layer of subversion to their music. A good start and a pleasant surprise for a night that I assumed would hold few of them.

There's no end to bands worshiping at the Altars of Madness, and Succubus is among them. Their style of thrashing death is well worn, but since I'm usually disappointed by a lack of Malaysian death metal, I'll keep my complaints to a minimum. All told, their set was solid and extremely entertaining, even if they played each song like they were racing each other to the end. They ended with Merciless' classic "Nuclear Attack," so if nothing else I got to hear that live for the first time in my life. With a cassette that's destined to be plugged heavily on the NWN Boards, you might as well clear a space on your patch jacket for these guys now.

Right now one of the least appealing styles of music to me is thrash, especially when done by anyone who wasn't playing it prior to '92. Vault features members of Lobotomy and Nightwolf (thrash perm is still thriving), so clearly they love this stuff. But do the rest of us need it? They plough through all of the genre's cliches without adding anything new to the dialogue, and after a few songs I had heard enough to politely excuse myself.

It may seem contradictory that I'm so reticent about retro thrash, and yet I love Atomicdeath. I don't really have an explanation, except to point out there isn't another band in Malaysia doing quite what these guys do. As I looked around at the small crowd who are present for AD's set, I wondered how many people in the local scene realize how special these guys are, and what it'll take for them to break out. In addition to their anthems ("Zero Tolerance," "Forever Black Hell," "Kombat 666") they included two new songs, hinting that a more blast-heavy direction is in their future. I for one can't wait. And to think I almost skipped this show. Somewhere in Bloomfield, NJ, the president of the Atomicdeath fanclub is saying "I told you so."

If the amount of heckling during soundcheck can be used to measure an audience's interest, than anticipation was high for the first live appearance of WIDB ("What Is De Because", I don't get it either). They label themselves "death grind," but besides a vague similarity to Impaled and General Surgery at their gnarliest, actual grind parts were used sparingly and judiciously. More often than not, WIDB slow things down to a mid-paced stomp that lets the riffs breathe and the audience engage. With members of Malaysian veterans like Infectious Maggots and Carburetor Dung, their confidence and maturity is telling, and the dual guitarist/dual vocalist approach worked in their favour...even if the tiny Rumah Api stage doesn't lend itself well to such a large line-up. A good addition to the KL scene and the highlight of the entire evening. Plus, extra points for the singer's Napalm Death shirt can never have too many Napalm Death shirts.

Whenever headliner Sarjan Hassan takes the stage, two things can be expected: crossover and pandemonium. With the new(ish) stage monitor at Rumah Api, dog piles and stage dives were kept to a minimum, but that didn't dissuade the audience from dragging singer Man offstage in an attempt to carry him around the room. I'm sure it only got better from there, but I had to bail to catch the last train home. Somewhere in Bloomfield, the president of the SH fanclub (also president of the Atomicdeath fanclub) is shaking his head in disapproval.

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