Sunday, December 30, 2012

KL Death Devastation 12.29.2012

As much as I enjoy crust, grind, and avant shows, it was nice to finally hesh out at a full-on metal gig at Rumah Api. As pointed out to me by my buddy Metal Mike (president of the Atomicdeath and Sarjan Hassan fanclubs) the show was scheduled to run from "3 pm - Mental Funeral." Malaysia being Malaysia, I took only half of that seriously, showing up close to 8 pm and expecting mental funeral to happen before midnight.

Black Abyss were certainly "on that upside down cross dick," as the vocalist from Pretty Mouth memorably puts it, with multiple satanic symbols painted on their bodies. Not sure if that's really scandalous or blasphemous in a Muslim country [ol' JC is a pretty safe target here in Malaysia, where his followers number less than 10% of the population...just saying.] The plastic bullets on the singer's strap were a pretty good metaphor for the band: looking dangerous isn't the same as actually being dangerous.

If a venue's sound can be accused of prejudice, then Rumah Api's is definitely biased towards grind trios over 5-piece death metal bands. Hellghast from Singapore suffered through a muddy sound drenched with feedback and their guitars cutting out. What was discernable (besides a Vomitory cover) was death metal that's solidly in the old school vein, with hints of Swedish melody. Also noteworthy during their set: Faiz from Atomicdeath headbanging with a tote bag under his arm. Truly a "jejeje" moment.

Sandwiched between local heroes and visiting foreigners, and without a spot of panda makeup on them, there was the possibility that Succubus could have gotten lost in the cracks. With two of their members wearing Merciless shirts, and highlighting a Merciless cover in their set, there's no overthinking who or what they're trying to sound like. They've tightened up considerably since the first time I saw them and, powered by one of the best drummers in the scene, are already drawing a healthy buzz. Not bad for their third show ever.

Printing up shirts just for their 5 date Malaysian tour was a clear sign that Angelholocaust were excited to be in Malaysia; what's not clear is whether Malaysia was excited in return. The audience's standoffishness was unfortunate, but understandable: strange, dischordant black metal in the vein of Von or Beherit triggers more furrowed brows than banged heads. I can't say what they were doing is my thing; but I also can't say I entirely understood what they were doing. I did buy a shirt though.

Lavatory were the recent recipient of a harsh review in Terrorizer, which took a bat to the band saying they "have little to offer in the way of fresh ideas or interesting, leftfield spins on the music of their heroes." Ouch. While I myself have lost interest in new bands jumping onto the Stockholm bandwagon (I avoid old school fetishism in general), I have to say that Lavatory are nowhere near as bad or generic as that review makes them seem. Mixing Entombed, Dismember and Carcass certainly doesn't seem like much on paper, but they have the songs to back it up. That night, the vocals were reverbed to an unnecessary degree, possibly not just singing about Stranger Aeons but from them as well. They've got the chops and stage presence to make them a big deal in the region, but finding an identity separate from their heroes is in their best interests.

This wasn't the first time Argentinians Infernal Curse played South East Asia; I can't imagine touring the region is either cheap or easy for a band from South America, but being a two piece (with a member of Angelholocaust filling in on bass) certainly eases the logistics of travelling. Their records make them sound like the world's most satan-loving vacuum cleaner, but live (that night at least) they were simple and to the point, with their guitar tone had the hyper compressed tone of early Deicide. Throwing Sepultura's "Antichrist" into their set vindicated my suspicion that South American bands exist in a timewarp oblivious to any metal after 1987. There's an authenticity to Infernal Corpse that's hard to explain; but you don't travel half-way around the world to play primitive black metal unless you live for the stuff. Hope they come back soon.