Krallice, Infernal Stronghold, Concussion – October 7th – Shea Stadium, Brooklyn

I was there for the last wretched game at Shea Stadium in Queens, lost by the Mets in pathetic, soul-crushing style. Although that blue and orange monstrosity of memory is bulldozed and paved over, some masochistic music lovers in Brooklyn have adopted the name for their performance and recording space. Located in the same industrial isthmus as The Acheron, Shea Stadium inhabits a second floor loft and matches a decent sound setup with a cozy, lived-in and mostly unfinished atmosphere.

Concussion sound great on tape; their Dried Blood EP (available for free on BandCamp) is sweet mix of Gothenburg-spiced thrash and hardcore rage. In person they didn't sound quite as articulate, but every bit as powerful. Lead guitarist/vocalist Blake looks like a metal postcard from 1982 with his snarling delivery and bobbing mop. Bass player/vocalist Bones played so hard that he actually broke a string. In all my years of concert experiences, I've never seen anyone break a bass string. Members of the crowd were moshing as if seeking a concussion of their own. The PA speakers at Shea Stadium sit directly on the low stage and don't offer the fidelity of an overhead rig, but the band muscled through with style. Concussion are a force to be reckoned with, and I'm sure we'll be hearing much more from them in the near future.

Infernal Stronghold took the stage next with 40 oz. bottles of Olde English and Colt 45 in hand. Although I came late to the game, I'm a big fan of the band's 2009 full length, Godless Noise. Infernal Stronghold peddle over-the-top, blasphemous and crude black metal with thrashing punk overtones. Although the band hadn't played a show since May, they were surprisingly cogent, if not sober. Infernal Stronghold ride the absolute edge of madness, emanating chaotic mayhem from a stage that could barely contain them. The massive alcohol consumption didn't seem to affect the band's blistering attack, but the stage banter did degenerate into complete incomprehensibility.

Infernal Stronghold played a couple of excellent new songs, one of which I believe was called “Infestation Obsession Possession,” or some such absurdity. Vocalist and guitarist Eddie Chainsaw introduced another new track, purported to be about dying before the age of thirty, and followed it up with gratuitously powerful belches into the microphone. Godless Noise tracks like “A Dog You Call God” and “Fuck 'Thou Shalt Culture'” ripped just as hard as the recorded versions. As the band closed out the set, drummer R.B.D. signed off with “if you think the show sucked, you can eat our shorts.” Yes, Infernal Stronghold bring the good times and show you don't need corpse paint to be clowns. I'm quite looking forward to new music and further live performances from these guys.

Krallice are the rare band that engage your mind as much as your ears. A census of my CD collection would show that Krallice and Dimensional Bleedthrough have been played far more than any other albums on the shelves in the last year. No matter how many times I spin these things, I always become cognitively absorbed in the listening experience. On an emotional level, these songs evoke wistfulness and wonder, with stints of the raging empowerment good metal will engender.

The live Krallice experience is another thing altogether. With the exception of Colin Marston, I've got to know the guys in the band a decent bit; they're a relatively laid back lot. Put them on stage and they are transformed by the physical rigors of this music. The Mick Barr screaming death into the microphone bears little resemblance to the guy I know. My own reaction to this music is different in person. My head has no qualms about banging through an entire 14 minute song. Several times on this night, I suddenly became self-conscious of the air guitar I was involuntarily shredding.

Krallice hadn't played live in six months, but it didn't show at all. “Aridity” kicked things off with a shower of feedback and gargantuan swing before gliding across impossible planes of mutant melody. Lev Weinstein quickly settled into the absurd gait of the song that would last a quarter of an hour. His performance was a sight to behold unto itself, as always. Colin Marston and Nick McMaster sport swivel necks while tapping out arachnid patterns on their instruments. Mick Barr disappears behind a wall of hair and emerges only to emit inhuman shrieks.

Two excellent new tracks followed, one of which had never been played live before. The new songs frequently feel familiar, but also display new dynamic directions for Krallice. There's no indication the band will stop evolving their sound in the near future. This was followed by the impossibly complicated “Energy Chasms,” which shows off one of the rare bits of Krallice guitar work you might be inclined to call a guitar solo. Another esoteric new track closed out the set before the band was called back out for an encore by a chant of their name. The blasting brief might of “The Mountain” brought the evening to an end, with Nick McMaster howling into the microphone and possessed of demonic fortitude as he pounded out the hyper-speed bass lines.

After the show, Krallice packed up to ship out to the Fall Into Darkness fest in Portland. They don't have any upcoming tour plans that I know of. Let's hope we get that new album soon.

Suren of f.666 has an excellent set of photos from this show here.


suren said...

great review of the show dude. glad i got to meet you in person. till the next one!


These Seans said...

"Yes, Infernal Stronghold bring the good times and show you don't need corpse paint to be clowns."

HA! Brilliant!

This sounds like a great show, I haven't been to Shea Stadium yet

So pissed i'm out of the country and missed this. I love infernal stronghold, super cool guys as well. I've reviewed a few things on Chainsaw Justice if you're interested. Cool write up

also just put together this olde time grindcore comp (84-90)

Ugh, I loved Krallice's first album, and hearing them do Energy Chasms makes me sad as when i heard them last summer with WITTR at webster they sounded like shit, and seemed to be out of sync, not to mention i think the last album was trash. But jeez, this video is great, looks like they did themselves proper.

heard they were bad at MDF too, i skipped them knowing what to expect.

atanamar said...

@Suren - It was nice to meet you too. I'm sure I'll see you around quite a bit.

@Flesh Monolith - it was actually your year-end list and review of Godless Noise that got me into Infernal Stronghold, so thanks!

I've definitely had displeasing live experiences with Krallice, but I attributed it to poor sound rather than poor playing. Who knows, I could be wrong. I also dig Dimensional Bleedthrough a whole lot, but I can understand why folks would like it less than their first album.


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