Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"Name One Band..." - Liege Lord Live at Webster Hall

Sunday's May 5th Liege Lord show at the Studio at Webster Hall in New York City was an excercise in light and heavy hearted truisms. Truism #1: I miss at least one band I want to see because of traffic at least every two or three shows I go to. I missed Cruciamentum and Evoken at last year's Martyrdoom festival, I missed Drugs of Faith at Maryland Deathfest two years ago... there's more on that list going back the past few years. Tonight, I miss Graeskul, from Long Island and a band I'd been wanting to see. Their name seems to be everywhere lately with a well circulated Demo tape and their brew of Thrash and subtle hints of Heavy Metal and Doom would have been a great primer for Liege Lord.

Pyramada was one or two songs into their set when we arrived and while their singer had a decent voice, styled after 90's Metallica, they stood out for not fitting on the bill at all. Graeskul, Retaliation and Liege Lord are decisively Metal. Pyramada are a Guns and Roses mixed with ReLoad-Metallica. There may be some slight Pantera influence but their riffs were borderline Metal at best. They are a decent hard rock band perhaps but concisely sub-par to mediocre as a metal band when paired on a bill with Retaliation and especially talent such as Liege Lord who would make practically anyone feel subpar. Truism #2: Too many bands get on shows that do their band a disservice by comparison to other bands on the bill. I don't know why they would WANT to be on the bill. They self-categorize as a hard rock band. Pyramada were decent musicians but they just had nothing to offer an audience that was there to see Speed Metal and good ole Power Metal as it was called back in the 80's.

After Pyramada, one of the most off-putting conversations I've ever had occurred with their merch girl / band member's girlfriend or wife. She made a B-line for my two friends and I. She asked us if had seen the previous band - which was obvious as we had been standing in that same spot the entire time. After responding with a simple affirmative she pressed us to buy one of the band's $10 Cds. We declined which elicted the following exchange:

"You don't want a CD? What did you think of the last band?" Hands on hips, her lips in a defensive snarl she responded with the bark of a newly birthed chihuahua.

"Honestly, I thought they were mediocre... not bad, not good..."

"Mediocre!?" She harummphed like a little girl being told she couldn't have a cookie until after dinner. "What do you know? Seriously, what bands play solos like that now?"

I could have retorted in several ways. I could have mentioned that there were at least five guitarists at that show that were accomplished guitarists that have, in the last several years, put out awesome albums with incredible lead work on them. I could have introduced Attacker's Mike Benatos who was at the show hanging out with drummer Mike Sabbatini. Both there to see Liege Lord, a band they were supposed to host in Philadelphia before having their show cancelled at Kung Fu Necktie. I could have pointed to Adam Tranquili, guitarist of Blood Feast who was there to perform with Retaliation and inserted a shout out to good friend Blood Feast's John Blicharz as well. Brohammer / Deceased guitarist James Danzo also was in attendance. Another possible example of a talented guitarist. Or I could have simply responded with a perfunctory "Well... Liege Lord is playing tonight, and their guitarists (Tony and Danny) are better guitarists than 97% of every other band in existence."

Instead I offered her an out... "You want me to name some bands?"

...and she met my check with a move that put her in mate. "Name one!."

I burted out Metal Inquisitor because I had been listening to last years Unconditional Absolution the past few days at home. "Who is that!?" I offer a brief history on the band and some of their major festival appearances at Keep It True and Headbangers Open Air (twice) and Bang Your Head and Wacken. She then walked away. Truism #3: If you don't know your shit, don't pretend to know your shit. You'll be called out on it. Truism #4: Trying to sell some merch and help out a band is great but when met with honesty, just nod and walk away, whether you agree or not. Getting into an argument over something as subjective as whether a band is good or bad or whatever is a lose-lose conversation. If you somehow are able to argue that your boyfriend or employer's band is actually good and accomplished, that person you just righted is still going to feel negatively towards that band because you essentially violated their sense of self-knowledge. If you aren't able to argue against the assertion, you get a whole anecdote posted about your argument on a blog like this and the band gets laughed at afterwards. Smile and nod. The customer is always right. I respect someone that has the courage to walk up to random people and try to sell them a band stuff that they are representing. Good job on that. Bad job on method. Truism #5: If you don't know your shit, then stick around for the band you're opening for and learn something. Pyramada left before Liege Lord came on (at least I didn't see them standing around anywhere).

Courtesy Tobi Resnik
Retaliation were a heaping pile of fun. Vocalist Terrie is a beast. One of the absolute best frontmen I've seen in the area. Full of energy, he does the Peter Steele / Carnivore stage presence perfectly and his movements are dead on with Pete's from what I remember from Carnivore's show at Lamours 6 or 7 years back. Their set was a great mix of Carnivore and Retaliation. Although they missed out on Male Supremacy due to time constraints after bassist Kevin Bolembach broke his E (!) string after the second song of their set. Memorable numbers include Angry Neurotic Catholics, Thermonuclear Warrior, Carnivore, God is Dead, Jesus Hitler, Sex and Violence and Technophobia. Basically anything from Carnivore would be awesome though leading us to Truism #6: My generation must learn to accept that Cover bands will be a necessity leading into middle age. With Jeff Hanneman's recent passing, Cover bands will be the only bands that will do right by the passing of those musicians we miss so dearly.

Liege Lord... where to begin. I never thought I would ever see Liege Lord live and they were excellent even if they didn't play one of my favorite tracks (Transgressor). Joe Comeau sounded great, looked relaxed and was spot on vocally though I did see some lyric sheets on the stage so perhaps he is still trying to remember all the lyrics from some of the back catalog. I don't think I saw him using them much though. He looked a little stiff on stage but as he got deeper into the set he seemed to loosen up a little. Either way, I didn't need their energy... I had enough of my own. Their setlist contained a great mix of Master Control material back to Freedom's Rise with a splattering of Burn To My Touch mixed in.

Fear Itself, Master Control, Feel The Blade, Eye of the Storm, Broken Wasteland, Dark Tale, Cast Out, Birds of Prey, Speed of Sound, Rapture, Kill The King, Vials of Wrath, Rage of Angels... They closed with Wielding Iron Fists. They included a short dual guitar tradeoff between Tony and Danny and a longer Drum solo by drummer Frank Gilchrest. Danny Wacker's spastic guitar antics were enjoyable throughout the night doing moves I would label such as "slapping the stick" and "flipping pancakes." Tony was more reserved but engaged the front lines with sheer ability and finger histrionics. Most interesting of the night was Joe Comeau's admission of a new album in the works. Truism #7: There is no need to teach old dogs new tricks when the tricks were awesome to begin with.

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