Thursday, February 21, 2013

Marduk, Moonspell, Inquisition, The Foreshadowing, Deathwolf, Helgardh - 2/20/13 at Empire, Springfield, VA

February has been so crazy, with a concert every week along with meetings and social and volunteer commitments, that if Moonspell hadn't been on this line-up, I probably wouldn't have gone. Marduk is great, but I've already seen them, and they aren't one of the five or so bands that I feel I MUST see every time they come around. I had never seen Moonspell before, though, and was very curious about them, so I went mostly to see them.

There was a local opener, Helgardh, but by the time I realized I should have headed to Empire early to see them, they were already playing or done. I stopped at Panera to eat, write and wait for S, and finally checked out the bands at the start of the line-up. The songs I heard by Helgardh sounded pretty good, solid quality black metal. I met two of the band members at the show and got a CD with a rough mix of three new songs, and they said the songs they have online are old, and these new ones are much better. The CD certainly sounded good - they had those nonstop black metal guitars, but sometimes more death metal like vocals and some other interesting things going on in the background.

When we got to Empire, Deathwolf was on, and we heard their last song. One of Marduk's guitarists is in this band. The one song I'd listened to (at Panera) sounded more rock-like, without the intensity of metal. They did sound heavier than I expected, but still had more of rock vibe; I wasn't really drawn to them.

I had heard of The Foreshadowing before, because they have in fact played them a couple times on XM radio, but I couldn't really recall what they sounded like. They started off with very heavy, metalcore breakdown-like guitars, but after that were mostly slow and doomy, with a few faster segments when the guitars and drums suddenly revved up. They had clean doomy vocals from a rather gothic looking guy. I wondered why two of the guys are bald, that's not metal. I liked them - I thought they had nice melodies and pretty good guitars.

I didn't know what to expect from Inquisition, besides having this vague hunch that it was a black metal band based on the logo. It was in fact a two person black metal band - a drummer and guitarist/vocalist. Their sound was fast paced and would have made me want to rush around or headbang frantically if I had had more energy. The guitar was weak at first, just a droning overwhelmed by the drums. The drums were actually interesting - they must have been using a variety of different sounds instead of just banging away like some bands do. After a few songs, the frontman called for the guitar to be made louder, and after that we could hear more of it - a dark low undertone with some pretty fast melodies over it, considering the guy was also singing at the same time. The vocals were unusual, with this croaking quality that reminded me of the lower tone of Mongolian throat singing. A great new find in my very limited knowledge of black metal.

Cutting back on the black metal intensity for a bit, the second to last band and the act that I really wanted to see was Moonspell, a gothic metal band from Portugal. At first, they were much heavier and more warlike than I expected, with fierce, battering guitars and drums. The singer wore a Roman-like helm for the first song, which made me think of Ex Deo. Despite the surprisingly intense guitars, there was a dark, gothic quality to vocals - a little harsh, but not brutal, very like the vocals of Deathstars - and often melancholy keyboard melodies were wafting over the heavier guitars. There was a lot of variation in their songs - some were slower and more gothic, others heavy and thundering, and still some full of racing black metal intensity. There was a pit for some songs, but overall the crowd was not as enthusiastic as for Inquisition.

On a side note, I spent about half of Moonspell's set staring at the bassist's hair. My daughter is mixed and will have hair just like that one day \m/

Sadly, by the time Marduk came on, I had run out of steam. I'm not sure if it was sleep deprivation, illness or depression (all of which have been affecting me lately) but by the time they started, I could hardly sit up on a stool. They were intense and fast, and I should have enjoyed them more, but I just couldn't. We left about 2/3 of the way through their set :(

Next show: unknown. It may be Wimme at the Kennedy Center :) I was planning on going to Nile, but I'm not a fan of Cannabis Corpse. Due to stress in my personal life, I've decided to limit myself to two concerts a month, so a show where I only like the headliner is probably not worth it compared to others where I like more of the bands :/

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