No dicks left alive. Not a single god damn one.
I promised my wife I would be home by midnight. She needed a good night’s sleep, and I would take care of the kids for the rest of the evening since she had to get up at 7AM for work. As Murphy’s Law goes, the best laid plans are usually laid to waste. And while I may suffer an excessive amount of reprimanding for my irresponsible act, I cannot deny that venturing out to The Meatlocker in Montclair, NJ on a random Friday evening in January was more than worth my while. Why you ask? Because I attended a stellar evening of musical entertainment that must be witnessed in order to be fully appreciated.
Despite living less than a half hour away from The Meatlocker, I had never been there before. I’d been meaning to get out there as some notable acts such as Maruta, Magrudergrind and Organ Dealer played there, and I missed them due to having adult responsibilities. The venue is a cozy basement-type place that is oddly placed in between two restaurants in the area. You wouldn’t know that music was taking place there unless you took notice of the obvious attendees hanging outside that were clearly not out for an evening of fine dining. Once inside, it was easy to see that this was a place where punk rock and metal had carved out a nice home for itself with stickers and black marker writings creating a charming wallpaper.
The proceedings started with local doom/noise/sludge act Sunrot. Rightfully so, because this show was billed as guitarist “Christopher Dovan’s Birthday Bash”. Since the man was the guest of honor, his band should go on first so that he could relax and enjoy the rest of the evening’s entertainment. A vast assortment of pedals could be seen laid across the stage floor, and when Sunrot began playing, you could hear each of their contributions to the overall sound. The first thing I noticed was that their sludgy guitar tone had to be produced from all that equipment lying on the floor. Strange loops of noise could also be heard underneath all the instruments. Vocalist Lex used every inch of the microphone chord to run behind the stage and into the crowd. Their set was short yet powerful and kicked off the evening on the right note.
Stage space was at a premium on this evening, but Sunrot made do.
My friend and I ventured outside to catch a breather and to grab some beer (Founders All Day IPA can be consumed in the evening as well). When we returned, Maryland’s Eyelet was all setup up and ready to go in a little corner on the opposite end of the venue. The immediate area surrounding them was already packed so we made our way near the main stage and watched from there. We couldn’t see the band from where we were standing, but Eyelet was delivering some very energetic and well executed screamo that would certainly impress any fan of the genre.
These two gentlemen are not having a disagreement, they’re just yelling into a microphone
Sandwiched in-between Bleak and HUSH’s sets was the one-man blackgaze outfit Planning For Burial. Again towards the back of the venue is where Planning For Burial was set up, and you could see a several amps with floodlights positioned on the floor. A laptop computer was also stationed next to the microphone, and with that, Planning For Burial got things going. It was during the week of this show that David Bowie had passed away, and the beginning of “Ground Control To Major Tom” was cued up to start off the set. That only lasted a short while before loud guitar, sonic soundscapes and screamed vocals came together to torture our ear drums. Percussion of any kind was noticeably absent, and by no means did that detract from the music being performed. Having never seen one person perform his music without at least one other musician alongside them, Planning For Burial definitely had no trouble capturing the audience’s attention and entertaining the onlooking crowd.
Planning For Burial? All you need is a shovel and this guy
Bleak’s set was a message to every dime a dozen deathcore band that is chug-a-lugging their way to mediocrity while vying for the crown of “heaviest band.” Watching these guys rip through a set shows that there’s a certain style and skill necessary to pull off the tact. And while their riffs reside on the lower end of the guitar, their attack is delivered in such a way that is both innovative and crushing. My tardiness in writing this paid off because they opened their set with the newly released “Simple / Bridge Burner” off their split with Crowhurst. This song immediately grabs your attention with an attack of chaotic dissonance that relentlessly pounds away while making you want to clench a fist and try to put a dent in the floor with it. The energy these guys play with was infectious as the guitarist and bassist swung their instruments around like a pair of wrecking balls. The drums smashed away with a devastating force that made you feel the impact with each and every blow to the drum kit. Since recording their debut album, We Deserve Our Failures, Bleak has been rejoined by their original vocalist, Michael Watson, whose screamed vocals are a very nice tonic to go along with Bleak’s low end rumblings. And since I started following them on Facebook, I must say that they are one of the hardest working bands in the underground right now. They seem to be playing shows quite often, and they’ve already released two splits so far this year. And that’s not all; they’ve just finished recording a new full length due out later this year. After seeing them play live, I’m now really looking forward to hearing their next album.
Bleak bringing the heavy, southpaw style
And that brings us to HUSH, who are mind, body and soul 100% invested in bringing their audience a true live experience. The six man demolition team comes with an entourage of two drummers, guitarist, bassist, an 8 string bass player, a vocalist and an unprecedented amount of amplifiers to fortify their brand of ugly, sludgy doom.
Nothing to see here, just a shitload of amps
From the moment they started playing, HUSH starting laying waste to everything in sight. As you might imagine, the amount of gear behind them produced an almost deafening wall of sound that resonated throughout the entire hall. The onlooking crowd nodded along with approval as the drum corps broke into tribal rhythms accompanied by sub zero bottom end; all bathed in a loud, muddy guitar tone. Charles Cure sounds like he is vomiting out his insides repeatedly as he reaches deep into the pit of his stomach to bark out all shades of ugly. Aside from saying hello and goodbye to the crowd, HUSH said nothing in between and instead jammed through their set continuously with almost no breaks. Early on in the set, one of the drummers broke a stick, but did not miss a beat as he quickly recovered and resumed pounding away. With their backs mostly turned away from the crowd, HUSH kept hammering away at their instruments as the music sought to slowly and methodically drain the life-force out of everyone within range of their uncompromising brand of harsh sludge-infused doom. If you want a taste of what all that is like, there’s a short clip of that right here for you to check out. If HUSH comes to an area near you, ditch the wedding you RSVP’d to, cancel your dinner date (or bring them along?), and weasel your way out of any binding commitments you have that day because this is a live performance that is not to be missed. There’s a reason we declared HUSH the best unsigned band in New York.
When all was said and done, it was 1:30AM, I was half deaf (I did not wear earplugs, my bad), and I was an hour and a half late. The wife and kids were sound asleep. I would be questioned in the morning and asked what time I got home. “12AM sharp, as promised,” I will say because it ain’t a crime if you don’t get caught.
Should any one of the acts featured in this post be playing at a venue near you, support them by going out, grabbing merch, and enjoying the show. If not, you can still click on the links to their Faceworld pages above and show your support that way. And if you have the opportunity to catch a show at The Meatlocker in NJ, definitely head over there. It’s a great place to catch a show where the atmosphere is civil and friendly.