20 November 2006

A Feast of Corpses

Metal Show: Special Report

Who: Necrophagist
When: ~6:30 pm, Wednesday, November 19
Where: Station 4, St. Paul, MN, USA

Like those Tasmanian Devils Psycroptic, German gore-noodlers Necrophagist are forced to tour with such wholy unworthy acts as Unmerciful and Cannibal Corpse. It was in this situation that I saw them at a dingy little metal club in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Station 4 is about as metal as a metal club can get, too. It's dark (the walls seemingly painted black), it smells of thousands of sweaty shows, and there are 10-inch diameter steel posts in the middle of the moshfloor, holding up the roof and just waiting to break faces. The building the club is in is nearly as bleak -- a nondescript 3-story warehouse with those windows made up of 12x12 panes, each blackened with years of grime. As I walked by one side of the building on my way to the end of the block-long line snaking out of the door, I heard blast beats and some gritty riffing coming out of the second story, probably from the practice space used by local legends Anal Blast. They're what I like to call sick-core (my term, though they're probably classified in some semi-official metal pseudo-genre I've just never heard of), playing nothing but songs about vomiting, defecation, menstruation, sex and small woodland creatures... sometimes songs involving all of the above, and other times songs about eating all of the above... 'nuff said.

Standing outside the club, the crowd seemed to be really pumped for the show.. but not for the headliners Cannibal Corpse. In fact, I didn't hear anyone yell, "CANNIBAL COOOORRRRPSE" in a bad attempt at a yelling growl. Instead, most people were there to see Necrophagist and the alright-but-not-my-favorite (though Chris P. has confessed to liking them) band Dying Fetus, while there were a few people pissed that we were still trying to get into the club when Unmerciful started their set. Honestly, I'm not sure what they were in such a hurry for.

By the time I got in the club, Unmerciful (so unmerciful were they that they made us suffer their noise) were three songs in to their six-song set. Compared to Necrophagist, Unmerciful were like 5-year olds beating on plastic buckets with sticks and blaring their Speak & Spells. When they announced they were playing their last song, some guys in front of me cheered that our misery would end.

Unmerciful (mercifully) hauled their junk off the stage and some house crew started moving around monitors, setting up a new drum set and running some cables. The guy sitting at the drum set started out the sound check and seemed to be a wizard in his own right, double-pedalling and blasting away. Then some other guy comes out to sound check a guitar... and immediately busts into Necrophagist's latest title track "Epitaph". Whoa! As it turns out, Necrophagist didn't really have any roadies and they were sound checking all their own instruments - not a common sight for a show of this caliber, even in a relative backwater like MN. So over the course of the next five minutes, we were treated to solos by everyone in the band, a really nice bonus!

Like a lot of European bands I've seen, these guys were relatively clean looking - they even had cut hair! No offense, America, but most of our death metal bands look like they live in the gutter. Necrophagist were really professional. Their playing so technical and so well-conducted, they didn't even have time to run around the stage jumping off of monitors like Angus Young. They were stony-faced and on a brutal mission to make us trip over our own feet while we feebly tried to keep time. At a few points during the show, some huge guy tried to get a mosh pit going, but then Necrophagist would shift gears and start spraying speghetti into the air while everyone in the pit lost the beat, or just stood in awe at the insane skills they were witnessing. Between the fifth and sixth songs, some guy turned to me and asked, "Who are these guys?!"

I don't remember the exact order of the set list, what with being in a complete fan-boy trance, but I believe they played the first seven songs from their latest release Epitaph, followed by a long-ish (6-8 minutes, so long for Necrophagist) song I'd never heard before. It's possible it was an unreleased song, or it possibly could have been something from their debut album that I just didn't recognize live (I'm not quite as familiar with that album).

During the last tune, I made my way over to the swag counter. Once there, I was informed that I couldn't buy a t-shirt yet because the band insists on selling all their own merchandise. After about 10 minutes, with a long line queued up behind me, Necrophagist's bass player finally makes it over to start selling stuff and I walk away with the first t-shirt of the night. In a bit of a divergence from the norm, their t-shirts don't have the name or cover of an album on them, but instead are adorned with some jagged, Giger-esque artwork and the name of a song. Mine was "Only Ash Remains". I was a bit disappointed at the lack of a tour t-shirt, as I consider those more valuable, but I was happy just to be able to see these guys play!

Just after picking up the t-shirt, Dying Fetus started to play. I hung around for one song, but my ears were shot, I was full from eating so much dead flesh, and I wanted to prolong my Necrophagist afterglow, so I head out to my car and fired up Epitaph for the drive home.

For those of you out in Blue-Skies-and-Puffy-Clouds country, there's still time to see Necrophagist. They'll be playing at 7 pm on Sunday, November 26 at Slim's in San Francisco.

Corpse meat + Jagged Noodles = Aphrodisiac

Next show
: Leaves' Eyes opening for Blind Guardian.

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