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Live Report: Belltower, Prostitution, and FLOODS in NYC

Black metal was the musical form of choice last Tuesday night at St. Vitus. Three NYC-based groups showcased their shadowy and wind-swept ways, taking turns amplifying and extending the raw and extreme musical style that blossomed most exceptionally in Norway in the early 1990s. Belltower headlined with aplomb and mystic energies. The band was celebrating its debut LP Hereafter, an honest and powerful throwback to those old Norway days. The record is focused, evil and loose: a righteous offering to the old gods.

FLOODS opened things up with a progressive working of blackened death metal. With that old Scandinavian-based sound at the heart of their tempo-fluxing songs, the band was able to draw things even with a sustained energy, opening pockets on the outside for their more extended sections. The rigid technicality the group weaved around was their center universe. Here, there was naturalness to their taste with things progressing excitingly. The quartet was lean and formidable, setting a flickering light for the pulsing night.

Then there was Prostitution who released the three-song rocker Egyptian Blue on October 10th. The band etched some brilliant colors with their progressive and glam-inspired black metal. They covered Van Halen, joked, and brought some flexibility to a pretty “seriously taken” form of metal. Guitarist Russ Cowen plays black metal for the fuck of it, I gather (he’s a refreshing variant to the standard cliché), and it works. He’s adept at tempo rolling and lighting riffing, as the trio (Jesse Adelson on bass and vocals, and drummer Jason Spence) coalesces around his nimbleness to stretch out and loosen things up. The group’s form is entirely fresh.

Finishing the night, Belltower was quick to edge things back to the hellish bottoms from which they birthed. The poised quartet forged modernity with historical resonance, setting things misty and sacred. The band plays with a real punk spirit, carrying their churning and overlapping density. Solos by guitarist Cameron Morris sprung out of the bleakness like beams of hope and light. Amidst the pummeling darkness, Belltower showed its special example: the ability to carry you through a nightmare offering glimpses of sacredness, perpetually searching for that unique way out. Their new album is an experience and a journey; it’s a forcible ride.

— Christopher Harrington

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