[The entirety of the year's concert t-shirt haul is pictured above]
10. Flaming Tusk – Legion, Brooklyn, NY
I enjoyed the hell out of Flaming Tusk's debut full-length, and their live show delivered the cacophonous goods. The band made the most of a cozy Brooklyn hole-in-the-wall, pounding our faces into a ripe sludge. It also helps that they're an incredibly nice bunch of guys. Let's hope they regroup in 2011 for some further ass-kickage.
9. Black Anvil, The Absence, Ipsissimus – The Studio at Webster Hall, NYC
It was great to see Black Anvil getting the attention they deserve with a headlining hometown show. As expected, the Triumvirate tracks showered malevolent annihilation upon the crowd, and a raucous, drunken good time was had by all. This show was my first taste of Ipsissimus' impressive black metal machinations; I eagerly await their Metal Blade debut.
8. Altar of Plagues, Velnias, Castevet, Man's Gin – The Studio At Webster Hall, NYC
No moment of metal in 2010 was as cathartic as Altar of Plagues' first New York appearance. The band's atmospheric black metal was amplified in edge and emotion in person, melting away flesh and bone to leave a crowd of shattered, satisfied souls. Velnias' dark intonations were entirely entertaining, and Castevet delivered an awe inspiring set. Fantastic show.
7. Skeletonwitch, Withered, Landmine Marathon, Ipsissimus – Toad's Place, New Haven, CT
This line-up was well worth a road-trip, turning the tiny upstairs venue into a deathly cachinnating echo chamber. Each band gave a excoriating performance, buoyed by excellent sound and an absurdly intimate atmosphere. Withered made good on the glory of Dualitas, finally clicking for me in a live setting. My first Landmine Marathon experience was well worth the wait, and Skeletonwitch was reliably masterful.
6. Fuck the Facts, Magrudergrind, Defeatist, Atakke - Cake Shop, NYC
My first Cake Shop show was an incredibly fun grind gauntlet. Defeatist blew my mind, providing an absurd rhythmic beating. I finally got to see Magrudergrind do their thing in person, and the pummeling lived up to the hype. Fuck the Facts are quickly becoming one of my favorite bands, and they delivered an excellent set of utterly unique hybrid-grind glory. The Canadian crew capitalized on the crisp catchiness of their recent Unnamed EP; I'm a believer.
5. Wormrot, Defeatist, Mutant Supremacy, Psychic Limb and Curandera – The Acheron, Brooklyn, NY
Wormrot's second swing through NYC brought an absurd line-up. Mutant Supremacy, although theoretically out of place, dispensed the old school death with panache and drove home the excellence of Infinite Suffering. Defeatist's shock and awe grind attack left us with slack-jawed looks of amazement. Wormrot brought the precision and skill, translating a month on the road into a perfect execution of demented riffs and rage. By this point Arif had also perfected his barefoot, interpretive grind-dances. Goddamn, that was fun.
4. Gorguts, Portal and Krallice – The Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY
The reunited Gorguts blanketed Brooklyn with tech death ecstasy on this fetid, schweatty night, fulfilling my hopeless dream of ever seeing the band live. Portal sweat out an ocean of bodily fluids, ably embodying the whirling, otherworldly malevolence of Swarth. Krallice again rose to the occasion, proving they belong amongst the elite of extreme metal.
3. Immolation, Arsis, Disma – The Studio at Webster Hall, NYC
Ross Dolan and Bob Vigna are still the same incredibly nice guys I first met 15 years ago, and Immolation are still capable of churning out the finest death metal the world has to offer. This manic, intimate show produced equal parts unabashed smiles and uncontrolled headbanging. The Majesty and Decay tracks stood up with Immolation classics for a Christ-crushing experience. Propelled by the filthy cassette-borne death of The Vault of Membros, Disma's performance intensified the anticipation for their upcoming debut full-length.
2. Ludicra, Krallice, Castevet and Atakke – Europa, Brooklyn, NY
Nobody sounds quite like Ludicra, and nobody can match the unhinged insanity of this band on stage. Surrounded by her team of all-star musicians, Laurie Sue Shanaman ripped demons from her soul and flung them into the adoring pit of writhing bodies. This was the most absorbing live performance I witnessed all year, drawing me into a thoroughly engrossing vortex of catharsis and headbanging bliss. I got my first taste of Castevet on this night, and it was also my favorite Krallice show of the year; the excellent sound teased out all the intricacy and intensity I could desire from their music.
1. Wormrot – The Bowery Electric, NYC
Wormrot's first, impromptu show in the United States is a thing of legend. Fresh off a battle with visa issues, jet-lagged and unceremoniously added to an incongruous concert, the trio laid utter waste to New York City. This was the kind of show where everyone was smiling from ear to ear for one neck-snapping half hour of grind. Having my wife on hand added to the entertainment; the show offered her a brief and blinding insight into the meaning of grindcore. Wormrot proved that they are the real deal; purveyors of the mighty riff, spewers of psychotic gurgles, horsemen of rhythmic destruction, saviors of grind. Thank you for a night I'll never forget.