GIG REVIEW: FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, CARACH ANGREN & ABIGAIL WILLIAMS Live At Baltimore, MD
Dawn 'Mama Love' Brown
On a seasonably cold night in Baltimore, symphonic death metal was on the bill at Metro Gallery, yet another incredibly small venue created out of converted rowhomes in one of Baltimore’s main arts districts in Midtown. While it’s great that we have several established music venues offering an intimate concert experience, I don’t understand the thought process behind having a room that barely holds 250 guests with no staging area for the bands, basically forcing the bands to fight with patrons for space to get on and off the stage, nowhere to store equipment and no provisions for photogs, etc. With the front door blocked with incoming concert goers and various drum kits and equipment, we made sure to scope out all the exit signs. Just in case. Knowing what can happen in a packed room, i.e. Station Nightclub, it can be a little unnerving seeing the main entrance/exit blocked by throngs of people and amps and cabinets and endless rolls of cords and cables.
Despite these drawbacks, of which only a few seemed to be concerned, we were treated with an energetic and brutal show showcasing excellent musicianship, ear-piercing screaming vocals and an equally energetic and vocal audience. Up first was March to Victory, a group of guys out of Lancaster, PA. They have changed vocalists within the past five years and despite the crowd being thin and quiet during their set, MTV put on a great show. Following was Crawling Manifest, a five-man outfit out of Greensboro, MD. We’ve seen these guys before and it is apparent that they love being on stage, they have a good collection of original material and are a tight, up and coming band that I think we’ll be hearing more from in the future.
The first of the national acts on this night’s bill was Abigail Williams, a black metal band originally from Phoenix, Arizona. Named after a character from the novel, The Crucible, Abigail Williams has a brooding stage presence, all donning black hoodies with the hoods raised, of course. Ken Sorceron’s vocals screeched to mind-blowing levels, at times obscuring the subtle note variations in the backing guitar and bass. Their performance was relatively subdued, all guys sticking to their respective spots on the stage, given the small size thereof. Yet, the music they cranked out was brutal and the mosh pit reflected as much.
Up next was Carach Angren, billed as a symphonic black metal band hailing from the Netherlands. Complete with black and white stage make-up and some fairly interesting theatrical-wear, Carach Angren growled their way through a set consisting of a sampling from each of their four studio albums to date. The growling vocals and thick accent made it nearly impossible to discern lyrics or song titles; however, their overall offering was spirited and enjoyable, even for a fledgling fan not exactly familiar with their catalogue.
Finally, after an all-hands-on-deck style transition from the previous band, Fleshgod Apocalypse hit the stage. Also with theatrical make-up and period garb that looked to be Victorian in style, Fleshgod Apocalypse’s brand of symphonic death metal descended on the crowd like an anvil. It wasn’t until then that it became apparent that the piano that was on the stage all night was not just a prop. Interestingly enough, the piano of Francesco Ferrini, and his other orchestral accompaniments, blended seamlessly with the searing guitars of Cristiano Trionfera and Tommaso Riccardi, Paolo Rossi’s bass, and Francesco Paoli’s drums. The clean, combined with separate backing, vocals translated well in the live setting. FA’s epic qualities were on clear display, mesmerizing the crowd with intricate and thoughtful symphonic waves through a sea of soul crushing brutality topped with a horror flair which adds an even deeper dimension to the band. The orchestral aspect capitalizes on the technical writing on each level and was right there in your face making even some of the oldsters in the room (me) want to jump in the pit. They enjoyed a great response from the sold-out crowd. The formal name of the female operatic vocal singer appearing on stage could not be confirmed but she also had a great stage presence and added so much to the sound produced.
Despite the overall feeling of viewing a show packed inside a tin can, this show was loud, brutal and crazy. Abigail Williams live was a bit of a screech fest but, again, a great show for all involved. Both Carach Angren and Fleshgod Apocalypse bulleted out a death metal utopia that even had the neighbourhood vagrants hanging around outside. Had to be the music, right?