Monday, September 28, 2009

Gathering of the Bestial Legion IV

Gathering of the Bestial Legion IV

Venue: The Iron Room, Los Angeles, California.

Date: September 26, 2009.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a show. I’ve seen so many bands over the last couple of years, so I’m trying to downsize a bit and pick and choose obscure bands to see when they come through town. To that effect, the fourth incarnation of the Gathering of the Bestial Legion show was anchored by a couple of obscure heavyweights that rarely, if ever, make their way to Los Angeles (Spearhead, Urgehal, and Destroyer 666). In addition, the esteemed Cosmo just moved into the area, so we had to hit up a show together as soon as possible.

The show was promoted (I think) by a fixture in L.A’s metal scene, a big guy with mutton chops whom I refer to as The Eternal Roadie (he can be spotted at the Knitting Factory, for example, helping set up each show). As the Knitting Factory is rumored to be closing down (I imagine that the bathrooms will simply be bulldozed), the choice of venue for this show was The Iron Room. Seemingly an old warehouse on the lot of a huge scrap metal yard in the middle of bombed out, industrial wasteland Los Angeles (part of a huge swath of the city where I simply do not go; think “Escape From New York” meets “Colors” with just a hint of “The Road Warrior” and you’re close), the Iron Room simply could not get any more “metal” (literally) as a perfect spot for this show. There was even a beer garden and a taco stand on the premises, along with industrial-strength port-o-potties, a hand rinsing station, and armed security (we only witnessed one altercation over the course of the evening as one drunken nitwit was hauled away in cuffs; he’s lucky that this wasn’t a school night). We arrived early to get one of the coveted parking spots on the lot.

The Iron Room setup consisted of two stages on opposite sides of the room. As one band would play, the next band would set up. As one band would end, the crowd would literally do an about face and rush to the other side of the room as the other band started up 30 seconds after the previous band ended (things would dramatically slow up, however, deep into the evening as they usually do at these sorts of events, more on that later).

At any rate, most of the openers were local area bands of greatly varying quality. First up right at 7pm were Daemonic, a trio lacking a bassist. Playing dark death metal sort of as an amalgamation of old Krisiun and Incantation, Daemonic were quite good over their half hour set. Not groundbreaking, but not bad, although they really need a bassist to give them some added heft. As soon as Daemonic ended, Ritual Torture started up on the second stage. These guys absolutely smoked with a blisteringly fast display of straight up death metal with a clear sound and a great deal of energy. A pit opened immediately and all of us were suitably impressed as Ritual Torture were regarded as one of the show’s highlights.

Also impressive were Unholy Lust with their display of old school, Slayer-esque death metal complete with bullet belts, leather studs, black spandex, a female bassist, you name it. Nicely done. Resuscitator were supposed to be next, but dropped off the bill for whatever reason. A half hour break ensued, instead.

Afterwards, the scheduling started to get a bit bogged down. The wholly boring Infinitum Obscure were up next, with an overly long intro, long songs lacking dynamics, and a long outro that noticeably pissed off The Eternal Roadie. After that, The Eternal Roadie became further agitated as Eyes of Noctum weren’t ready for their set. This outfit is noteworthy for the sole reason that front man Weston Cage’s father is a famous actor. Other than that, Eyes of Noctum are absolutely pedestrian and boring as Hell symphonic black metal (Sothis are infinitely more interesting, which says something). Most of the few hundred fans or so bailed out on them, and we went outside when they finally managed to get themselves in gear. Throughout the evening, we devolved in our referencing of the band. We started with Eyes of Noctum, Nicholas Cage’s son’s band, Eyes of Rectum, and, finally, just Nicholas Cage’s band. When they finally finished and we made our way back inside, I overheard someone mutter to his friend as he was walking out, “I can’t believe that we bothered to watch that.” Sums it up pretty well.

The main acts began with the U.K.’s Spearhead. Rip-roaring, straight ahead death metal with a grindcore edge was on display as Spearhead were firing on all cylinders. A great set with energy, although I suspect that most of the crowd was unfamiliar with Spearhead. The Chasm were next, and I must say that I find this band mediocre with their typical version of death/ thrash. They do have a strong following in Southern California, as was evident from the warm reception that greeted the band, but The Chasm are on the low side of second tier status in my opinion.

The monstrous Urgehal were next, and just had it all during the long set afforded to them. Corpsepaint, armor, all out blasts from Erik Renton (on loan from Sarkom), and a huge stage presence were all extremely effective as Urgehal easily brought down the house. The best performance of the night, by far.

Urgehal ended their set at 12:35am. The crowd was expecting a short changeover for Destroyer 666, but the crowd was getting noticeably antsy by 1:00am. Destroyer 666 take the stage as the crowd murmurs in anticipation, but bassist/ vocalist Warslut (correction: as pointed out, KK is guitarist/ vocalist) informed the crowd, rather nonchalantly, that they were merely doing line checks. This went on for fifteen minutes as the band would start a few notes periodically, and then stop with a waving of arms. They leave the stage at 1:15am, the house music starts again, and the house lights flicker on and off a few times. People are getting really pissed at this point with a number of people heading for the exits. We stuck around for five more minutes, and then decided to bail out. Whatever the reason for the huge delay, this was disappointing, to say the least. I had to drive to Santa Barbara for winery hopping the next morning, anyway.

So, there you have it. For the most part, the show was well done and Urgehal were more than worth it. Were we victims of poor planning, unavoidable technical issues, rock star attitudes, or what have you? Eh.

Pictures (the phone is back, sort of)

The Iron Room

After animated discussion, a few of us decided that this Giger-esque, rusted hulk of metal lying around the yard was a drill press...


Ritual Torture

Unholy Lust

The Gathering...



The t-shirt haul...

Damn! I forgot the video!

Ritual Torture

Unholy Lust



The winery...

I'm not sure what's next...


Invisible Oranges said...

Really nice account - that night was memorable in so many ways (for me, at least). Nice t-shirt haul, too. Looking forward to whatever we hit up next!

dschalek said...

Great show! Can't wait for the next one!