Friday, October 24, 2008

After seeing WATAIN I have the cleanest hair in town!!!

I'm not certain what manner of animal skull is pictured in the photo to the left. I'm guessing either lamb or goat. There were three others strategically placed around the stage. And any doubt one had as to the authenticity of said skulls was wiped away within about 20 seconds. There was no mistaking where that smell was coming from. They also had two candlesticks under each skull so once those were lit the smell really intensified. There was some incense burning as well but I think it was for purely ceremonial purposes. Nothing was going to be able to overpower the stench emanating from the skulls. So yes...Watain had, as promised, animal skulls. And they had blood too. But apparently not too much as the only appearance of it was when bassist/vocalist Erik Dannielson returned to the stage for the encore with a fresh coating on his face. Reports from other stops on the tour have the band pouring buckets of blood upon themselves before taking the stage as well as Erik spitting blood into the audience. So we got a toned down show from a sanguine standpoint. But the band more than made up for the lack of gore with their set. Local act Resigned to Fate started off the evening's festivities with a brief set that apparently is the band's last. There music was a blend of black metal and classic thrash. Their set started off promisingly before derailing into monotony, a trait that unfortunately befalls many bands of the genre. I'm not really sure why the band had decided to call it quits. With some guidance I could easily see them becoming a vital act on the national scene. Perhaps their lead guitarist was responsible. Of his numerous tattoos the most striking was the one that arced just above his navel:

BLACK METAL [except in Old English font]

That tattoo shows a level of commitment to a specific genre that I think many musicians would be unwilling to make. I seriously doubt that when Dwight Yoakum takes his shirt off at the end of the day that Mrs. Yoakum gets treated to "Honkytonk Country" emblazoned across his belly.

A visit to Resigned to Fate's page on Myspace offered zero clues as to why last night was their final show. I like to assume that it had something to do with a reluctance on the other four members of the band to get "Black Metal" permanently inked onto their torsos.

Resigned to Fate was followed by Book of Black Earth. This Seattle quintet played an uninspired set of blackened death metal. Repeated attempts by the band to get the assembled crowd to form some sort of pit resulted in epic fail. The crowd was clearly unmoved by these guys.

Atlanta's Withered graced the stage lit only by several orange lights placed at various points. The lighting provided the perfect accompaniment to the band's concoction of black, thrash, and doom metal. Things were finally taking a turn for the better.

Watain hit the stage hell-bent on validating their position as one of the top black metal acts in the world. The best black metal acts straddle the fine line between earnestness and parody. The corpsepaint and blatantly Satanic lyrics and imagery so often prominent can be hard to take seriously. And the names of the bands and members will have you doing Google searches to find out what obscure demon inspired this name or that name. Often one gets the impression that the band members are "in on the joke" and have their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks.

Watain seem to be 100% serious in their service to their dark lord. They're certainly one of the few bands whose members aren't resorting to "stage names". But more importantly Watain backs it up where it truly counts: these guys rawk!

Starting off with "Legion of the Black Light" - the blistering opening track from the band's most recent release Sworn to the Dark - Watain ripped through a set taken mostly from SttD but also covering the band's earlier works. The crowd, which had pretty much been lulled into a catatonic state by the opening acts, responded with extreme fervor. Watain returned the enthusiasm by never easing up. Their set was relentless and certainly helped by the new found sense of melody that they seem to have discovered with SttD [a style I refer to as black & roll].

But all good things must come to an end. Watain called it an evening after an epic rendition of "Stellarvore" that had the crowd screaming along:


It was the perfect way to end a perfect set. I left not only wanting to run home and listen to my Watain CDs. I left vowing to try to make it to Austin to see the band again tomorrow night [work pretty much precludes my being able to make it to tonight's show in Houston]. I also now have a couple more awesome shirts that are pretty much guaranteed to shock.

And that leads me to why I now have the cleanest hair in town. You know how your hair smells "smoky" after spending an evening in a smoky bar? My hair had a certain smell to it as well. I'm not really sure how to describe it. I suppose if it were to be a Glad Plug-In fragrance it would be called "Rotting Carcass". I washed my hair as soon as I got home. But upon going to bed I could still smell that unmistakable scent. So I took a full blown shower which apparently only temporarily covered it up as I awoke to that smell again this morning. It's like the b.o. the valet had in that episode of Seinfeld. It clearly had no plans on going away anytime soon. So another shower took place during which I washed my hair with some fancy schmancy shampoo as well as a dandruff shampoo. That seems to have taken care of the odor. But I'll tell you...when I look at the photos below I can pick up traces of it all over again. Aah...the memories!!!

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