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THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA: AXL’S POST-SCION REPORT

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scion rock fest atlanta

That I’m sitting here in the MetalSucks Mansion this snowy Monday morning has gotta be some kinda heavy metal miracle; as I type this, Anton OyVey, Rob Pasbani from Metal Injection, our friends from BITPOM.com, and a lot of other fine friends are still stranded in Atlanta due to the weather.

And honestly, there are worse towns in which to be stranded. To my shock, not only is the booze in Atlanta shockingly cheap, not only is the purp somehow completely fucking magical, but the city is about as chill as you could hope for. I kinda miss it already.

But enough wistful reminiscing. After the jump, get my thoughts on some of the best bands of Saturday’s totally excellent Scion Rock Fest!

Just to help you get a mental image of the layout: there were four stages – an outdoor, an indoor stage on the upper level of the venue (The Masquerade) called “Heaven,” an indoor stage on the lower level called “Hell,” and an indoor stage on the middle level called – you guessed it – “Purgatory.”

But the Purgatory stage was so small that seeing anything was a fucking headache – I managed to hear two or three songs by Rwake (who certainly sounded killer), but I couldn’t see shit and didn’t even try to see any other bands on that stage (How the fucking fuck did Coalesce get stuck there? What a waste.).

So: the day officially started for me with Kylesa. I was still half-asleep though from our previous night of partying ’til the sun came up (which I haven’t done in forever – when did I get so old?), but on the whole, the band sounded great, the crowd seemed really into it, and I look forward to seeing them again when I don’t seriously need a cup of coffee.

Torche went on late due to technical difficulties; as a result, I only got to hear a couple of songs before I had to move on. All I can really tell you is that even as a trio instead of a four piece, they sound way, way heavier live than they do on their albums- and they have a LOT of fucking energy.

But I really wanted to see Salome in Hell since I’d not yet had a chance to check ’em out live – and I’m really, really glad I did. O MetalSucks faithful: do not pass up an opportunity to see this band live. The friends we were with who weren’t familiar with the band were universally blown away by them, and especially vocalist Kat (who is also now a member of Agoraphobic Nosebleed); she’s probably just a few inches above being legally defined as a midget, but HOLY FUCKING SATAN, can she bring the noise. She alternately sounded like a demon taking a horrible shit and a crow drowning in acid; add to that her shaman-like stage presence, and you’ve got one of the most honest to God electrifying stage presences I’ve experienced in a long, long time. Expect great thing in this band’s future.

Baroness‘ set overlapped with that of Skeletonwitch; since I’ve seen the former live before, I opted to check out the latter. I’m not the biggest Skeletonwitch fan in the world, but front man Chance Garnette might be my new hero in life. “Smoke weed, eat pussy, ride a motorcycle, and LISTEN TO METAL!” he screamed as the intro to one song. Then, when the song was over, he added: “I forgot: DRINK BEER!” If that shit doesn’t tickle your funny bone, you must be legally dead. The band also played at least one new song, which was incredibly promising. If I split a little early, it was only because The Masquerade is a decaying, decrepit venue, and the floor in Heaven constantly felt like it was on the verge of collapse (in which case it would also kill most of the people in Hell, which was right below it); the giant circle pit felt like it was constantly testing the strength of the wooden floor, so it seemed like a good time to go get a beer.

Given the choice between weed and Withered, I chose weed. Oh well. I hear Withered killed it though; one friend classified them as “stoner death metal,” which is as apt a description of their music as you’re likely to hear. They’re one of those bands I actually like more live than on record; I’ll have to go see ’em again the next time they come through NYC.

Next up was the band I was really there to see: PIG DEFUCKINGSTROYER. This band doesn’t fucking tour, I somehow always manage to miss them when they play New York, and I was just so fucking stoked to see them… so of course they had technical difficulties and went on fifteen minutes after their set was scheduled to commence – and, consequently, only got to play a portion of their set. Granted, that portion ruled – songs like “Trojan Whore” and “Towering Flesh” were just fucking vicious, Scott Hull and Brian Harvey really can play all that shit, and I’m fairly certain that J.R. Hayes, who alternately stalked the stage in a circle and stumbled around like a punch drunk fighter inbetween fits of barking, is genuinely psychotic, or, at the very least, a true blue misanthrope who hates everything and everyone. In any case, I could have watched PxDx for another hour and probably still would have wanted more; I am seriously contemplating getting my ass to Maryland Deathfest just to see them again. Awesome. Totally awesome.

Now… Krallice. Holy fucking shit. I think Vince caught more of their set than I did, but along with the equally mind-blowing Wolves in the Throne Room, they might have done the best job of the day of capturing the beauty in decay, finding new nooks in the seemingly repetitive, and striking a balance between the murderous and the meditative. I just do not listen to these bands enough, a problem I now fully intend to remedy.

High on Fire pretty much sounded like High on Fire, and as you’ve no doubt heard by now, Nachtmystium didn’t get to play, which sucked a big hairy nutsack.

Neurosis killed. They sounded so much better than when I saw them in Brooklyn last year – just fucking HUGE. The ground was vibrating. It was beautiful and epic.

I did have to split early to meet up with Anton OyVey and see the band I think he was most highly anticipating, Greece’s Septic Flesh. I was pretty drunk by the time they went on, but they slayed. They sounded monstrous and brought so much energy to their set… the only thing that kinda sucked was that since they were playing at the same time as Neurosis, there was something like 30 or 40 people there to see them, the smallest crowd I saw for any one band the entire day. And people seriously missed out: this band brings it live.

I wanted to check out Converge but Heaven was full when they went on, and while my press pass would have allowed me entrance anyway, it would have meant a) ditching my friends without press passes and b) navigating the treacherous and clearly unsafe Heaven in a room overstuffed with people. Oh well. Not like I haven’t seen them before, or will never get to see them again.

And so my very long day ended with a ninety minute set from the almighty Mastodon. About 24 hours earlier I’d been watching Brent Hinds and Matt Pike drunkenly (and playfully) slap the shit out of one another and knock over a few tables at a bar called El Myr, but if Hinds was feeling the effects of some awful hangover, he didn’t show it. The guy has evolved into a full on guitar god, jamming on a twelve sting, jumping all over the stage like he was in Poison in the 80s. This band is huge for a reason: they completely deserve all their success, and they sounded more self-assured live than I’ve heard them before. New material, such as “Oblivion” and “Divinations,” sounds fan-fucking-tastic live (and I had no idea that drummer extraordinaire Brann Dailor also sings lead vocals on “Oblivion”). The band closed their set with three songs with Scott Kelly, which was just as amazing as it sounds.

WHEW! What a day. What a weekend! I’m still recovering. Holy shit, I hope we get to do this again next year.

-AR

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