Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Disgorge in Kuala Lumpur 8.18.2013

Jello Biafra once remarked that death metal "is the first form of rock music that has caught on with poor people over the world"; he also noted that the bands "sound more than a little bit alike." I'm not sure that fans in Malaysia would appreciate being lumped in with Jello's "poor people", but the sentiment is spot on, and seems to be especially true about "slam". What started off as a New York-centric style is now a worldwide phenomenon, with Suffocation's disciples popping up everywhere from Las Vegas to Laos. That all the bands seem virtually identical hasn't slowed its spread one iota; message board C.H.U.D.s can't seem to get enough gurgling vocals and palm muted chugging. I only recently warmed to the style but as someone always whinging about the death metal scene in KL (or rather, the lack thereof), I'm not in a position to be picky.

I regret missing PunahRanah, who are one of the better death/grind bands in the scene (actual songs!) and who I haven't seen since the end of last year. By the time I arrived, Sick Society were onstage and had a pit going - five people running into each other like bumper cars still counts, right? Despite ostensibly playing "brutal death metal", their songs occasionally betray that "Roots Bloody Roots" and "Territory" are probably closer to their hearts than any Devourment album...but that was probably true of their audience as well.

When I saw Flesh Disgorged at Singapore Deathfest, the cavernous hall and marble floor conspired together to make them sound like the world's most gore-obsessed cement grinder; the only way I could tell their groove parts from their blasts was when their singer leaped in the air. This time, the sound was clear enough to show that the Singaporeans aren't just fast, but ridiculously tight. They made sure to bring their stage gore with them, making me wonder what their white t-shirt budget is (because there's no way they're washing and reusing them, right?). Their setlist was almost as long as the headliners, but no one seemed to mind. Bloody good fun.

apparently my camera made this animated GIF. not really sure how or why.
Infectious Maggots are scene veterans, one of the few still playing shows. Seeing various Rumah Api mainstays watching reverently in the front row says a lot about IM's status in the scene, as did their vocalist's playful and relaxed banter. Their material doesn't sound dated even though the bulk of it was recorded in the 90's. At a time when most metalheads are victims of nostalgia for an era they didn't actually experience, it's always a pleasure to see an old band and not just one trying to be "old school".

Here's an honest admission: I know virtually nothing about headliners Disgorge, except that there's more than one band with that name. Between subwoofer-rupturing bellows, their vocalist paced back and forth as if he was in the middle of Hulking out. Despite his intimidating presence, his calls to "fuck shit up" sounded less like a demand and more of a polite invitation; but one the crowd was still eager to take him up on. Disgorge are as no-frills as brutal death gets; even their slam riffs go straight for the throat without the "ohhhhhhh shit" pandering that made deathcore devolve into self-parody so quickly. But their set was over way sooner than it should have been. I don't know, I thought all the kids climbing over each other to high five the band would have encouraged Disgorge to go for another 15 minutes at least. But after the obligatory single encore, they wisely slipped away before they could get mobbed by all the kids and their cell phone cameras.


Since most of the audience at the Disgorge show seemed to be new to the whole "death metal concert" thing, a few tips on etiquette:

• You don't have to hold hands in the circle pit. This isn't a Greek wedding.

• Attempting to crowd-surf and then headbanging while you're in the air only encourages the rest of us to drop you. Which we will do, because you're making our arms tired.

• Yes, I know it sucks that the promoters kept pushing you off the stage when you were up there headbanging with Disgorge, but people paid to see the band and not you. There's a stage for a reason. If you're up there longer than 10 seconds, you're just asking for a shove.

• Headscarf with skulls beats patch jackets in the KVLT sweepstakes any day.

Dreams of Consciousness can be found hulking out on Facebook.