Sunday, July 10, 2005

Hate Eternal, Krisiun and Into Eternity at the Red Room

I decided to go see Hate Eternal, Krisiun and Into Eternity at the Red Room (formerly The Drink) on Thursday, July 7. It was a last-minute thing, because the show looked like it wasn't going to happen—bands were dropping off the bill, generating rumours that the headliners wouldn't complete the western leg of the tour. The gig went ahead, though, minus Jungle Rot and All Else Perished. No great loss there, in my view.

Into Eternity were quite excellent, with twin leads from hell and the right amount of math to keep me interested throughout (i.e., lots). Lead singer Stu hails from Vancouver, and his parents were there to witness the spectacle. He's got a tremendous voice, with air-raid siren qualities to rival Bruce Dickinson and John Arch. Even better, the rest of the band can also sing, which means there's never a dull moment for both band and audience as the wheedling/growling/wailing/thrash/death/prog mayhem unfolds.

I'm not into Krisiun and their no-frills brutal death metal. I remember reading a live review of Kreator back in the day that described them as "Accept warped by the Chernobyl fallout." Well, if that was true, then Krisiun are like Kreator mutated by every toxic event in the two decades since. I'll admit that the Brazilian trio incorporate some catchy riffs here and there (that came across surprisingly well on stage), but if a band's intent is to be the fastest/heaviest, then I need some eccentricity to temper the po-faced punishment. The Brazilian trio don't offer much beyond plentiful blasting and dive-bomb soloing, but the crowd loved their brutal metal of death. Between-song patter included the obligatory "when in Vancouver" shout-outs to Blasphemy.

I came to check out Hate Eternal mainly because of Derek Roddy's ridiculous performance on their latest, I, Monarch. The man is a phenomenal drummer, a fact reflected by the cluster of drum nerds watching the show from the side of the stage. They got their money's worth. I watched from a distance for most of the gig, then wandered down for a closer look during their last number and saw some unbelievably fast fingertip blasting. Hate Eternal overall are less nutty than Morbid Angel (guitarist/vocalist Erik Rutan's former band), but maintain the elder group's dedication to disciplined, musicianly death metal. They didn't burn many musical memories in my brain (beyond the immediate impact of their instrumental athleticism), but H.E. were an impressive act to end an ultra-heavy evening anyway.

Next up, with any luck, will be Sounds of the Underground, with Clutch, Opeth, High on Fire and 856 metalcore bands.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I borrowed the Judas Priest "Metalworks: '73–'93" video from the Logans' house a couple weeks ago. It's your basic history of Priest, with an emphasis on promotional videos and assorted TV footage. The Rocka Rolla-era Old Grey Whistle Test segment is sterling, with the band sporting a gypsy/glam look, velvet-tressed and satin-dressed. Songs from the following handful of albums (lean times for our boys, even if they were hitting an artistic zenith) are featured via live footage from 1983.

Priest returned to the airwaves once the NWOBHM took hold. The real gems of the tape reside in this era, between 1980 and 1983. The video for "Living After Midnight" features Rob Loonhouse, the humble air guitarist-cum-folk hero who stole the 20th Century Box documentary on Iron Maiden's Early Days DVD. Here he is again, playing his cardboard guitar in a Judas Priest video—brilliant.

"Breaking the Law" uses the classic music-vid gambit of showing an authority figure succumbing to the liberating power of heavy metal. Halford and the band rob a bank (subduing customers and opening the vault by pointing their guitars at them), while the security guard on duty dons Rob Loonhouse's trademark reverse Flying V cardboard guitar and unconvincingly rocks out. Thus Priest make their getaway.

The real corker is the video for Point of Entry's "Hot Rockin'." The director stages a hilariously literal interpretation of the lyrics, so that when Halford sings the opening line—"I've done my share of working out"—the band are, yes, working out (shirtless) on a universal gym. Come chorus time, Downing/Tipton/Hill/Holland are showering, while Halford is in the sauna, ladling water over hot rocks. This is not the way to dispel rumours. For the rest of the song, the band take the stage, where their instruments and Rob's mike catch fire, so hot is the rocking.

Other than the clips from Heavy Metal Parking Lot later in the tape, the laughs stop there. Sure, there's more ludricrous crap, including the musical and visual nadir of Ram It Down's cover of "Johnny B. Goode," featuring stage divers, for godsakes, but the low-budget good humour has been replaced by cynical, business-driven misjudgements of a band desperate to keep filling hockey barns tour after tour.