Monday, October 15, 2012

Skeletonwitch, Black Tusk, Havok and Early Graves at The End, 10/14/12

Posted By on Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Please excuse The Spin if we sound uncharacteristically cheery today — we had unusually relaxing Sunday. We cleaned the flop house, roasted a chicken with apples and mashed potatoes, talked to our parents and topped it off with the only thing that could make us more serene and zen than all of that combined: a gawddamn metal show! It had been another one of those weeks in which the people that hand out paychecks expected The Spin to do some actual work — that keeps happening, for whatever reason. It sucks! And all of that actual work involved listening to aspirant singer-songwriters and active-rock hacks. We had basically hit our limit for bullshit music, bullshit people, safe-and-stale tunes and unsuccessful yet smarmy shitheads — thank God Skeletonwitch was bringing a four-band bill stacked with brutality to The End on Sunday night.

We arrived just in time to catch the end of Early Graves and a heavy ration of “You dudes missed some badass shit” from the assembled gang in front of The End. Apologies, we needed to stop at the grocery store to buy coffee — this shit don't write itself. Coffee writes it. Copious amounts of coffee and vitriol, and at that moment all of The Spin's inner vitriol was aimed directly at ourselves for being dumb enough to miss Early Graves — whose music is good and whose story is compelling. Honestly, we thought Havok was playing first, and we decided we could miss them because they misspell their name with a K — we have to draw arbitrary lines in arbitrary sand. Of course, whenever The Spin makes up ridiculous rules to explain our behavior, those rules are broken almost immediately: We caught Havok — K and all — and we gotta say, they were really good. So that makes us double-extra dumbasses.

Not to be confused with Mobb Deep's MC Havoc — not that you would, for obvious reasons — this Colorado quartet brought a classic thrash sound and at least five fanboys that bought T-shirts before the show and wore them all night. We know it's a metal show and there's a much higher "that guy" allowance than most, but really dudes, are you all going to be that guy? Haven't we all seen PCU? Anyway, despite the storm of "those guys" up front, we were mighty impressed by Havok's updated take on classic '80s thrash — especially the fact that their guitarist seemed to have mastered every move Dimebag Darrel ever used. And the smiles! Havok, like pretty much all of the bands, was all smiles all night. Which is nice, because The Spin hates being the only folks in a room who get the warm-and-fuzzies while people sing songs about death and dismemberment.

Also, did we mention that the crowd at The End was bigger than just The Spin and five of "those guys"? There was, like, a big crowd and shit — at least a hundred people when we showed up and a steady steam of arrivals for the rest of the night. It was a healthy showing that bodes well for all the shows we've got on the metal schedule over the next couple of months, and if the next couple of months go well, that means 2013 is going to be asses-to-elbows with good metal shows. You know what else makes The Spin happy? Seeing Savannah, Ga., three-piece Black Tusk — this is our fourth, maybe fifth BT show, and each time we're more impressed than the last. There's something about their distinctly Southern style of sludge mixed with touches of classic hardcore punk — think bludgeoning, Touch and Go-style hardcore, rather than the pretty-hair-and-tight-pants variety that the kids love these days — that brings joy to our hearts. Also, it seemed to send the thrash kids running for the patio. Which is fine, because as a friend of ours noted, the thrash kids smelled like sweat and floor cleaner.

Just kidding! Sorta.

Athens, Ohio's Skeletonwitch finished out the night with an epic set of blackened thrash — and, now that we think about it, why is every new variant of metal now “blackened”? Blackened doom, blackened thrash, blackened prog — everything is blackened. We guess that if you begin whipping the dance of the dead, blackened is the only logical, inevitable end. Hey oh! But seriously, if you're going to spend your Lord's Day out doing the Devil's work, make sure you've got Skeletonwitch onstage pummeling your puny, sin-ridden brain into an evil goo — those boys know how to put on an epic show. The set was heavy on tracks from their classic 2007 album Beyond the Permafrost — including a rare performance of their Adult Swim-endorsed “Bringers of Death” — and 2011's Forever Abomination, all of which induced some serious thrashing in the pit. Lead singer Chance Garnette was clearly stoked on the size and enthusiasm of the audience, asking, “Who says Sunday night shows have to suck?” before instigating another outbreak of furious headbanging. By the time all was said and done, we had a sore neck, ringing ears and a supremely serene feeling — the perfect reward for doing the Devil's work on the Lord's Day.

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Skeletonwitch, Black Tusk, Havok and Early Graves at The End, 10/14/12

Skeletonwitch, Black Tusk, Havok and Early Graves at The End, 10/14/12

By Diana Lee Zadlo

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