September 18, 2017 Bloodshed Across America XXVII Tour Obliterates Gramercy Theatre, NYC 9-13-17
On Wednesday, September 13th, 2017, at the Gramercy Theatre deep in the heart of lower Manhattan, New York City, a black wind swept down with all the subtlety of a hurricane attacking an unsuspecting coastline. This particular storm, being comprised entirely of Black Metal, was never detected by conventional radar. Several hundred black-clad minions of the left hand path, however, saw it coming and arrived prepared. Bullet belts, check. Battle vests, check. Money for liquor, check. They did not need Anderson Cooper to tell them how to survive the Bloodshed Across America XXVII tour featuring Inquisition, Uada, Volahn, and Mutilation Rites. No strangers to The Big Apple, Inquisition brings forth their two-man racket once again in support of their 2016 Seasons of Mist released album Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith.
First up on tap were Brooklyn stalwarts Mutilation Rites. This band pulls no punches. Their presence in the underground is a well established one, and their sound always goes down a treat. From long blasting passages to breakneck headbanging parts, their delivery is always consistent and enjoyable. The hall, filling up in the usual dribs and drabs openers have to put up with, nevertheless was properly engaged to the spectacle at hand. Sharp, on point, Mutilation Rites never disappoints. As they exited, appetites were whetted for the next spell-casters to take the stage.
What came thereafter seemed to howl straight from an abyss. The hellish realm known as Los Angeles, by way of Mexico and Guatemala, bestowed the ancient rumblings of Volahn upon the thickening Gramercy crowd. Created by Vocalist and Lead Guitarist Eduardo Ramirez back in 2003, the band erupted into a swirling vortex of sound that could only be described as a superior manifestation of the Black Metal art.
Ramirez coaxed sounds from his guitar that almost made it sound like two different instruments, creating hair-raising whines on par with the caterwauling of some desperate, hungry predator threading the shadows of a benighted forest. His cavernous vocals seemed to come from elsewhere as well. Channeling the ancient gods of the pre-Hispanic Central American lands, the crowd completely ate it up. The band’s drummer played like a man possessed. On the bass guitar, Shataan ripped it up with aplomb, adding to the boundless energy of the performance. The whirlwind ended far too soon for those gathered. Having last released a full-length album, Aq, Ab, Al, in 2014, fans old and new will be eagerly awaiting a follow-up.
Surprisingly, against all reason, a pit never really opened up. The back-lit stage, its silhouetted minions faceless and black, perhaps demanded something we see less and less of in this modern age of instant gratification and boredom: complete unbroken attention. Drummer Trevor Matthews (Pillorian) put on a clinic of his own back there, riding the waves of melody and heaviness Uada has already mastered.
The sprawling, spectacular “Black Autumn, White Spring,” presented in all its glory, focused their blackened energy into one iconoclastic cone of darkness. The title track and the savage “S.N.M.” ensured that anyone who had not gotten down with Uada prior to this night would leave the hall as devotees of this superb American band.
Less relentless than a Marduk or a Mayhem, but fraught with kinetic urgency and an evil groove, their music truly is its own entity. Like occult spell-casters, the duo ratcheted up the blackness with cuts from across their discography. A pit at last opened up, with one or two people even deciding to crowd-surf.
“From Chaos They Came,” a cut from the latest album, instantly lanced the hall, followed by the reptilian advance of “Hymn to a Dead Star.” The inhuman throat of Dagon slit the night, as otherworldly as the nebular reaches of space. Swirling riffs and piston drumming heralded “Command of the Dark Crown.” Should serious, ritualistic Black Metal ever be this much damn fun? Inquisition’s spectacular use of tension in songs makes it hard to stand still and grimly watch. They ended their set with “Desolate Funeral Chant” and, again culling from their latest album, “A Magnificent Crypt of Stars” in all its neck-snapping fury. Absolute mastery by a band in the prime of its (un)life.
When the house lights went up, fans left happy. This lineup could have been called an embarrassment of riches, so dominant were all of the bands. A tour which launched on September 1st with a sold out show in Los Angeles, California, for those interested, it continues to pillage across the country now through September 26th. In 2017, Black Metal in America is entering a golden age of glory that makes the future look as bright as the music of these phenomenal bands is dark.
Photos by: Aintellin Photography