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The arrival of June means that all the big metal bands are over in Europe playing the festival circuit, but this isn’t all a bad thing. For one, it means some much-needed R and R (that’s rest and relaxation, fuckos) after a hectic Spring show season. It also means more time to go to smaller shows; ya know, ones that aren’t in huge concert halls where beer costs $7, and ones that are in real places where actual real / non scene-kid people hang out. The DIY (by comparison) shows of late Spring and early Summer offer a welcome respite from the big headline tours of early Spring and the packaged, brand-sponsored traveling festivals of Summer. This weekend I went to see the debut of NYC’s Motheater — a wicked brew of southern soul and northern fury — and a four-headed best of underground metal at Pitchfork’s “Show No Mercy” show serie, featuring Salome, Woe, Black Anvil, and Snake Sustaine.

Moth Eater set the tone for a raging weekend on Friday night at Manhattan’s Ace of Clubs; the band combines sludgy, doom riffs with a Clutch-y blues rawk vibe and heavy, bellowed hardcore vocals. Think a darker Scissorfight minus the rednecks plus NYC grit. The songs the band has up on their MySpace page belie the tightness, groove, and guttural kick-your-mothafuckin’-assery the band had going on Friday night. It being the band’s first ever show, it was hard to know what to expect, but the men of Moth Eater brought their shit in HARD — all in the audience were sucked right in, bopping their heads to the groove, transfixed by the energy of the performers. Moth Eater know how to put on a rock n’ roll show, and I hope to see them soon on a stage where they can stretch out a bit more.

Sunday night brought me to the hipster mecca of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where a dedicated audience of 50 or so metalheads gathered for a solid lineup of underground metal. Snake Sustaine, featuring members of A Life Once Lost, hit the stage first with their Sabbath-on-a-bad-meth-rager brew of wicked stoner jams. With the band’s collective polish, full-bodied sound and twin-guitar soloing, they may have actually been my favorite band of the night. Recent Relapse signees Black Anvil were next; dudes are fucking FIERCE on stage and definitely win the award for most energetic performance. This is some heavy, dirty, crusty shit, and while it ain’t really the kind of thing I’d jam by myself I see the appeal of the band to those who prefer their metal dirty and raw at all times. Woe seemed like they had the potential to be a really interesting and engaging atmospheric black metal band, but I couldn’t tell; the guitar mix was muddled and it was hard to discern actual notes from the overall noise of the band. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and hope they sound better next time out (not for nothin’, what I’m listening to right now on their MySpace page sounds great!). As for Salome… there’s isn’t much to say about their transfixing frontwoman Kat (also of Agoraphobic Nosebleed) that Axl hasn’t already said, so I’ll add this about the band as a whole (Kat included): fucking epic. From glacially paced doom anti-breakdowns to frenzied, near-blast beat rushes of adrenaline, Salome took the audience for an intense and wicked 40 minute ride of complete motherfuck. That guitarist Rob Moore plays his axe through a guitar amp AND a bass amp accents drummer Aaron Deal’s sound all the more and makes the band as a whole sound positively huge.

This week: a sick Brooklyn Vegan / Black Bubblegum lineup featuring Doomriders, Zoroaster, Clouds, Javelina, Wetnurse, Howl and more! This Sunday, June 14th @ Club Europa in Brooklyn, and it’s only $12. See you there.


[Moth Eater photos courtesy of Ken Pierce of Piercing Metal]

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