Novembers Doom + Woods Of Ypres - Worcester, MA, USA - May.6.2011
|Event:||Novembers Doom + Woods Of Ypres|
|Written by:||Jason W.|
Novembers Doom + Woods Of Ypres - Ralph's Rock Diner, Worcester, MA, USA - May.6.2011 by Jason W. (30)
Attending a gig at Ralph's Diner in Worcester, Massachusetts, is the kind of experience that redefines the casual, close-knit community of metalheads in the northeast of the U.S., and reminds me time and time again that the support of metal in this area is as enthusiastic as ever. I've been attending metal gigs here for almost two years off and on, and I can say it's quickly become my choice of local venues. To celebrate having five years of metal at Ralph's, they put on a two night celebration, the second being headlined by Novembers Doom and Woods Of Ypres.
Finally, after invariably making the hour long drive out to Ralph's alone, a friend of mine also joined me on the journey this time, ready to not only check out the venue, but enjoy the Diner's cuisine. Which, consists of four items: hamburger, cheeseburger, veggie burger, and chili. Menus? Not here. And yes, the bartender not only is the waitress here, but also is the cook, so let's just say you get a straightforward dining experience before a gig at Ralph's.
Intimacy and a stripped down listening experience is what I'd always had here, and upon heading upstairs, this night proved to offer that consistent Ralph's touch again. The stage is quite small here, adorned with faux curtains, devoid of any light show (they seem to either have a theme of "slightly blue" or "slightly red" for solid lighting - this night it was "slightly red"), and with sound tuned for balance and moderately loud volume without being overbearing. Unlike too many venues that make you feel like customers with money to burn, Ralph's again offered the feel of a place that's one you could easily see yourself coming to even when bands aren't playing at all.
Faces Of Bayon:
This is about as doom as it gets, and a great way to start off a night. The band has played numerous times in the eastern half of the state, but I'd never had the chance to see what they were all about. Just about two months until the band's debut comes out on Ragnarok Records, and let's just say I put my pre-order in the next day. Heavy, long movements of doom with some psychedelic edge, the riffs are defined and hypnotic without ever being too complex. With songs like "So Mote It Be," there's just the right amount of catchy melody to have it pulsating in your head long after the song's end, even upon first listen. Faces Of Bayon received a great response from the crowd as well, and I'm looking forward to their release party right back at Ralph's next month.
Okay, now this was a surprise, kind of like going to see a movie based fully on the title alone. After seeing a few of the guys walking around during the Faces Of Bayon set with zombie makeup and garb on, I had a feeling there would be a bit of humor going along with their set, and I was not disappointed. In fact, I'm really glad there was some ridiculous behavior going on here, because the music quality was hit or miss. No drummer, just prerecorded sounds for each song, and yes, there were props! Baby skeletons, and an unattractive, voluptuous blow up doll that I was hoping would get ripped to pieces by the end of the set, but sadly, it was not. I think I laughed more than I listened to the music, but one of the things about a live setting is entertaining the crowd, and these guys could have potential in that. I suggest adding an additional doll in the vein of Bianca from Lars And The Real Girl in the future for maximum potential.
Taking the stage with a subdued approach, Gwynbleidd quickly erased the humor mood and got the crowd's attention back to a serious listening mood again. More progressive, but with a large dose of melodic death and touches of black metal as well, the band were confident and musically intricate enough so that this is more the type of music to stand in silence and enjoy than run around to. The new track (I don't recall the band even saying it had a title) they played seemed the most interesting to me, but honestly everything from their Nostalgia album they pulled from was enjoyable, so certainly a band to keep following as well!
Woods Of Ypres:
How can you not enjoy a set from a band that plays tracks with titles like "By The Time You Read This (I Will Already Be Dead)"? Vocalist/guitarist David Gold made the most out of the sound system, hollering and bending the lyrics and riffs into all sorts of discordant yet pleasing combos, while the rest of the guys seemed to help fuel the fire that led to the temperature of Ralph's rising drastically throughout their set. I can't imagine listening to Woods Of Ypres casually, as after their set I felt like I'd just dug six feet into the earth with my bare hands, only to stab my finger into a moss-laden piece of wood just moments before finding a disintegrating letter written by someone claiming to be me. Solid set.
Easily one of the most anticipated sets of 2011 for me, Novembers Doom had just released their first video, "What Could Have Been," to their brand new album Aphotic hours before this gig. This certainly served to further up my interest in their performance, as it was the only thing I'd heard up until that point off the new disc. Of course, the band played several tracks off this, all of which had me confident that Aphotic already was a more satisfying album than the band's previous effort.
Vocalist Paul Kuhr offered some entertaining commentary throughout the set, from self-depreciating humor, sarcasm, and even lightly mocking bassist Mike Feldman along the way, calling him out as "The Voice Of Failure" at one point as a way to introduce the song. A response to the crowd's suggestion of playing "Swallowed By The Moon" was initially met with Paul's reply of "not playing that shit," only to have the band later on play it anyway in what I feel was Paul's best vocals of the night. From Sasha's energy behind the drumkit, Larry's invigorating enthusiasm on guitar, to Vito's pensive stance opposing him on guitar across the stage, the band played all the songs I'd have asked for (outside of a duet with Anneke Van Giersbergen, but, alas, she was nowhere to be seen in the venue to sing) that night, and did so with just enough downbeat seriousness to reinforce the personal nature of the lyrics as well. After over ten years listening to the band, I can say it was worth the wait to finally see it all live.
Many thanks go out to Chris of MT Booking and all the staff at Ralph's Diner for yet again a great event, and to each of the five bands. You all remind me that live music is still a cathartic experience that has few equals.
Disclaimer: All band photographs in this article are property of and ©Jason Wiesenbach, published for Metal Storm, released for use under Creative Commons, "cc by-nc-sa."
||Posted on 14.05.2011 by Music and the written word are two of my passions in life, so I figured, why not combine the two?|
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