Wednesday, September 22, 2010 Reviews (Part 5)

Ana Kefr - Saturday, September 4th, 2010 - Whisky A-Go-Go

A Saturday night in Hollywood is always exciting, but a holiday weekend Saturday night is like one giant party. The night wouldn't be complete without drunken drama on a street corner or witnessing someone stumbling towards the windshield of an oncoming car! Tonight, Ana Kefr played at the Whisky A Go-Go, and people were lined up at the door to get in.

Downefall was the first band to play. There is always a certain level of admiration for the band that has the first slot of a show. It cannot be easy to be the ones who kick-off the evening and especially if tickets are still being checked at the door! Audience members hardly had a chance to allow their pupils to adjust to the darkly lit room and get used to the fact that they were now in one of the most historic venues in Hollywood- where some of the greats have once played. Downefall did not seem threatened by their situation and managed to stir up a fair-sized moshpit. They are a five-piece metal band from the bay area of Northern California. If you like bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Trivium, chances are, you will like what Downefall has to offer. In fact, they performed an A7X cover flawlessly, and had the audience singing along!

Gaining the privilege of backstage access to speak with the bands before and after their performances, Blistering approached Brendan and Kyle, the guitarists of Ana Kefr, and asked them what their thoughts were in anticipation for the show. Brendan stated that waiting to play is "like waiting for Christmas when you are a little kid." Kyle mentioned that the set for the evening's show is "fucking tasty." Interesting fellows! The air thickened with anticipation.

Pieces of Teeth, a metal quartet from Oceanside, California, have an amazing drummer and they also managed to get a moshpit moving after a little audience encouragement. While their sound consists of what one might typically expect from a metal show, the last song on their set had all heads bobbing. InSilence, the main support act of the night, have played at this location before, and if memory serves, have a decent following. During the performance, the members put forth abundant energy and enthusiasm.However, it is clear who the star of the night's show is: Ana Kefr. Before InSilence could even finish clearing their gear, a noticeably large crowd had piled in front of the stage. The crowd was strangely diverse, consisting of a balance of women, men, and all ages. Then, a tempestuous march unexpectedly exploded into "Tonight We Watch the Children Fucking Burn," and the show has begun.

Rhiis Lopez looked intensely intimidating on the stage with his boot propped up on a PA, talking down to the audience. Each song smoothly flowed into the next, and a long-time fan could detect slight variations from the recorded versions of each song. They even incorporated a saxophone into the beginning of "Avenue of the Queen!" Rhiis delivered part of "The Day that Guilt Turned White" with an amplified megaphone, and the bass player, Fonzy, signaled the queue to mosh by swirling his guitar neck around in the air. Ana Kefr also provided their fans with a special treat by playing "Truthless" live for the first time in over a year, and it was apparent that the crowd already knew the words because they were all singing!

After a brief introduction, there was an opportunity for the audience to take a break and simply listen while Ana Kefr played an emotional song called, "The Orchid." Rhiis leaned down to sing a few of the lines to an audience member. It was also noticeable that Shane, on the drums, has excellent timing and outstanding delivery. The final song for the night was "Avenue of the Queen," and everyone was more energetic than ever! At the end, the house lights went on, but the audience insisted on an encore. Alas, it was over.

Saturday, September 4th, was a glorious night to be in Hollywood. Some drunkards may not even remember, but there are many who will never forget. After the guys had a chance to catch their breath, Blistering caught Rhiis on his way out, and asked for his thoughts on the show. He said, "This may have been the last performance in support of Volume 1, and what a show it was! But if you thought that was intense, you ain't seen nothing yet."

Black Anvil - Triumvirate (Relapse Records)

[8.5/10] The word "triumvirate" means "any joint ruling by three men." The album, Triumvirate is a musical expression by three men, and according to the band's drummer, Raeph Glicken (or R.G.), "This record's all about us, and we want the record to kind of dictate the fact that it's about us three and where we're at now, and where we came from." The members of Black Anvil are from New York and only just formed in 2007. Triumvirate is their sophomore album and, like a cold beer on a warm day, it is quite tasty.

We are introduced to the album with, "What is Life if Life Not Now!" a song that addresses the uncertainty of life after death. This fast-paced song kicks off the album with an utmost brutality. The insect-like buzzing quality produced by the guitars, toward the end, is enjoyable. It is intimidating, hair-raising, and you feel lucky to come out of it alive.

"Dead and Left" currently represents this album online, and it is very well put together. It begins with a punch and is ruthless and unforgiving. The flow of the song sounds as though it is set to the repetitive rhythm of shoveling a dead man's grave, which seems very fitting. The completion of the grave digging is accompanied by higher-pitched fearsome guitar riffs and terrorizing roars.

"Crippling" and "Eliminate" serve as two interludes of the album. "Crippling" could prepare us for diving into a scary movie or might lay the foundation for a recurring nightmare! It is simple yet ominous. "Eliminate" must be aiming at setting the scene for a traditional tribal ritual or an execution. The drums create the mood for this track. These interludes are a refreshing veer off the norm, and illustrate the band's versatility. If aspects from these ideas were inserted unexpectedly throughout the other songs in the album, it would make for an even more brain-stimulating experience.

One of the best songs of Triumvirate is, "With Transparent Blood." The vocals sound like a ravaging demon and the guitars create a menacing presence. An ascending scream morphs into a growl, and emphasis on the double bass kicks the song into another direction. It slows down to a doom sound, and then the joint ruling by the three men is complete.

Each time songs from Black Anvil's Triumvirate reverberate through your eardrums, the songs seem to be continuously improving and stick to your insides like a piece of swallowed gum! If this thriving trio continues the way they have been, we should expect yet another album to be coming out in 2011, and we should be prepared for total annihilation.

Armagedda - I am (Agonia Records)

[7.5/10] Armagedda disbanded in 2004, but have released the EP entitled, I Am in September of 2010. It seems strange that a band that was only around for about five years would produce a never-before-released EP. One would think this is something that only legendary bands from decades past could get away with. Just as diehard fans began to heal the wounds from the loss of their beloved Armagedda, the scars are once again peeled open with bittersweet remembrance.

Armagedda, which translates to "Jehovah's Hell," produced music that is true to the nature of traditional Scandinavian black metal. It is raw, cold, and of poor recording quality. It is thought by many that traditional black metal is not meant to reach an audience, but meant only for the band's enjoyment. If this is true, why bother releasing an EP or album at all? Upon first impression, this screams, "Give us money."

Even though Armagedda is following tradition, the recording quality of I Am is terrible. It is mixed in such a way that the drums are nearly inaudible and sounds like it was recorded in someone’s garage. While it is admirable to stick to tradition, the drums sound like they might be doing something interesting in "Den Skirvna Eskatologin," and it is unfortunate that it cannot be determined whether they are or not. The guitar riffs are also very repetitive, which most likely follows suit to the black metal traditional style as well.

"De Vanhelgade" starts off with a long vocal belt accompanied by nightmarish guitars. The vocals are very raspy and sound as though coming from a mangled voice box! "I Am" is the best song on the EP, and has previously been performed in concert. It opens slowly with sounds of hopelessness and dread. It is definitely the climactic section of this release and I imagine could be played during the depressing scene of a movie where the main character has lost all hope and draws a final bath. Wrists slit into painless freedom. Do not combine this album with prescription medication or heavy drinking!

It takes a few listens before the message from the music can be heard over the poor quality of recording. You have to be in the right mood to listen to Armagedda, or else they will put you there. It is saddening to already know that Armagedda will not continue to progress after sharing I Am with the world, but who knows? Maybe one day, they will resurface from within the darkened chambers of the abyss and be resurrected.