Live Report: Marduk, 1349, Withered, and Weapon in L.A.
It's difficult to revel in the dark when you're always bathing in the light – and such is the problem with Los Angeles. There's no such thing as a grim vibe here, ever. We have to create it ourselves. That's why thrash thrives and most black metal gets quashed as the setting sun reflects off the iridescent billboards.
The House of Blues is smack dab in the center of all the Hollywood fluff. Despite all this, I'm usually excited for metal shows here. But tonight's bill should have been far, far away from Taco Tuesday at the Cabo Cantina.
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Everyone was curious about Weapon. There was an endearing awkwardness to their first few minutes onstage; only half the band was in corpse paint and they had a few timing issues. After a song or two, they tightened up into a confident machine. Vetis Monarch's gruffness is real and that carries this band.
Withered were the least hyped on the bill, but they came out with a more polished offering – as if that means something when it comes to black metal. Deep within the black muck, they weave in the melancholy of doom and the groove of death. Dylan Kilgore and Mike Thompson both lend their growls for a dual attack. Their sonic balance lifted us to a small pedestal of safety before we plummeted again.
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The familiar reddish, swampy aura of 1349 withdrew me from my surroundings. I stepped into the pit in hopes of crowding my field of vision with that red glow. Looking up at the stage, everything snapped into place. Ravn's wirey frame can make him look like a scarecrow from hell, barking blasphemes from atop his perch. Below, we waited for the moment when we could bark along with him: I am abomination!
Some of us already knew about Frost's absence; others weren't expecting to see blonde hair behind the kit. With corpsepaint and frantic eyes, Job for a Cowboy's Jon Rice looked the part. 1349's blasting compositions make it impossible to ignore the drummer, and fucking hell, Rice never missed a beat.
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Marduk commanded attention, but relentless 1349 were tough to follow. Black metal interrupted too often with talking isn't as mind-numbing or as memorable as that which takes us away wholly, and forcefully, for the entire length of the set. It wasn't for Marduk's lack of energy, though. Mortuus threw himself into the classics. Evil and Devo reminded us why we were there. When Marduk were knee-deep in a song, they were uncompromising.
I made a valiant effort to exit the venue without losing my grip on the aura noir. After a show so heavily dependent on atmosphere, sometimes it feels right to go home right away, if for no other reason than to give inspiration an opportunity to knock.
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