None More Black: An Evening Worshipping at the Temple of Girra with Absu and Friends

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It was a Wednesday, and record temperatures were rocking the Bay Area. What could be better then high-tailing it over to Oakland to sweat it out with a bunch of local Black Metal bands and the mighty Absu? Nowt, that’s what.

March and April have been a busy couple of months for shows, but this was the one that I was most looking forward to. Once again, I braved the trek over to Oakland, which entails a forty-five minute walk, a fifteen minute BART trip and another fifteen minute walk. Well it should have been a fifteen minute walk, but the Oakland Metro Operahouse has moved and they never told me! By the time that I reached the venue, I was sweating like a pig and ready for a cold one. Thinking that I had timed my arrival to perfection, I was crying in my beer when I found out the first band wasn’t going to start for another half an hour. Five bands. On a Wednesday. First band on just after eight o’clock. Sheeeeit!

Opening up tonight’s festivities were Oakland’s Void Omnia. I’ve seen these guys before when they supported Mgła, so I made an extra special effort to leave the house early to catch their set. They play an orthodox style of Black Metal that includes plenty of melody and extended blasting sections, over which the vocalist emits deathly growls and demonic shrieks. While he’s a pretty entertaining character, bending so far backwards to growl that I thought he was going to topple, I spent most of the time watching the drummer. You always knew when he was going to unleash a barrage, as he would just tilt his head to the side and give it some. The venue was pretty empty at this point, but those present seemed to be getting into it (which at Black Metal shows typically means standing around gaping at the stage, and then nodding approvingly at the end of each song).

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Void Omnia

Next up was Hayward’s Xenotaph. As I watched them set up on stage, a six-foot inverted cross was planted front and center. I hadn’t heard the band before, so this was a slight hint about what to expect. Ok, a considerable one! It wasn’t long before four corpsepaint-wearing gentlemen took the stage to deliver a more discordant version of some decent second wave Scandinavian Black Metal. It was rather chilling stuff, but nothing was as frightening as the guitarist. Looking like a cross between Hester and Arnie, the dude was immense. That kind of physique doesn’t come from playing video games and dining at In-N-Out. Towards the end of their set, the vocalist held up what I can only assume were three religious texts, proclaimed something incoherent (to my plugged ears) about them, and promptly tossed them into the growing crowd. The books were torn to shreds by various members of the audience leading to the first comedic episode of the evening. Some turkey decided that it would be a good idea to set fire to some pages and wander amongst the audience with the burning sheets held aloft. Luckily, I was standing a little further back watching the spectacle unfold. When the flames finally reached his digits he was forced to drop the combustibles, and some fine ladies near the front were left to put their knee-high boots to good use by quickly stomping them out. I wish they had stomped him out while they were at it.

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Xenotaph

The bar was calling my name so I snagged a huge comfy chair near the ATM to rest my backside and replenish lost fluids. Now, it’s important that I mention that the comfy chair that I speak of is located behind the stage (the venue has a strange layout). So there I was, sitting and minding my own business, when I heard the first song by the next band, Oakland’s Akatharsia. Behold the second comedic incident. I got up and moseyed around the side of the stage to the front, where I was greeted to a sight most peculiar. There on stage was… well… uh… you get the picture.

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Akatharsia

While most of the crowd seemed to be either bemused or squirming uncomfortably, I spent the next twenty minutes or so, transfixed. To be honest, I wasn’t really listening to the music as I watched the vocalist twisting and turning, and generally behaving like a crazed eel. I guess they play a kind of punky, crusty Black Metal, but I’ll leave that for you to decide. Check them out.

After consuming the appropriate levels of hydration it was obviously time to hit the bathroom, so with beer in hand, I followed my nose. Proper toilet etiquette dictates that under no circumstances do you place your beer cup on the top of the urinal. Nope. You place it by the sink and then take care of business. Welcome to the third and final giggle. As I entered the toilet, I was at a loss as to where to place my cup because surrounding the sinks were the entire ensemble of Pale Chalice (SF) slathering on their makeup war paint. After having a quick chat with the band and taking a few pictures, I was forced to break toilet rule #666. Dammit. Anyway, somebody obviously forgot to tell Pale Chalice that they weren’t the headliners as they delivered a storming set, ripping through five-sevenths of Negate the Infinite and Miraculous in short order. This is my second time seeing them (the other one being their record release party at the OLD Operahouse), and both times they were super tight with some of the best sound I’ve heard in a live setting.

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Finally, it was time for headliners, and not a moment too soon I might hasten to add. You see, I’m old and I get all crotchety when it’s already past my bedtime, and every minute that passes is a minute less that I get to see of the mighty Absu. These black thrashing Texas titans need no introduction. If you’re not familiar with them, go and do your research (but start with this display of extreme agility). After a short intro track, what followed can only be described as an absolute annihilation. Opening with “Swords and Leather,” I had to wait three whole seconds for the mosh pit to engage and the first “stage jumper.” I use the term “jumper” as there was no way near a big enough crowd to support a full-on dive. Instead, after banging his head ferociously on stage for far too long, he meekly plopped back to the floor. He wasn’t put off though as throughout the night he was up and down more often than a whore’s drawers. Anyway, Absu crushed it all night long rampaging through a diverse selection of songs from pretty much all of their releases. When you’ve been in the business as long as these guys, delivering the goods just seems so natural. They displayed so much passion and presence that the crowd was just fawning all over them. While Ezuzu and Vis Crom are captivating to watch, strutting, banging and riffing like bananas, I found my eyes drawn to Proscriptor more often than not. I always knew that Proscriptor is unhuman but just seeing this beast live really rammed it home. How on earth he can play as fast and as technical as he does while singing at the same time is unbelievable. Mind = blown. I managed to catch about forty-five minutes of their set (damn late starts and five band rosters) as I had to catch the midnight train home, and when the interlude of “Prelusion to Cythraul” came on over the PA at about 11:45, I took it as a sign that I needed to duck out. I would have loved to stay longer but I left feeling satiated but wanting more. What a good evening!

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Here’s the setlist for you Absu nerds:

Swords and Leather
The Sun of Tiphareth
An Equinox of Fathomless Disheartenment
Girra’s Temple
The Cognate House of Courtly Witches Lies West of County Meath
In the Name of Auebothiabathabaithobeuee
Circles of the Oath
New Song (Solipsistic something or other)
Highland Tyrant Attack
Never Blow Out the Eastern Candle
Prelusion to Cythraul
Probably loads more….

Stay up to date with Void Omnia, Xenotaph, Akatharsia and Pale Chalice on Facebook.

(Photo Via)

  • Lacertilian

    Nice write up Stan, sounded like a fun night, as far as black metal gigs go anyway. I’m quite jealous you’ve been able to see Pale Chalice twice already, glad to hear their sound transposes well to a live setting too.
    Also, is that a Gloam shirt I spy in the Xenotaph pic you took? You’re seeing them again soon too, correct?

    • Dubs

      I see you’re using your new Admin priviliege to leave early comments on posts.

      • Lacertilian can broke the entire ToH site and I can’t be mad with him <3

      • Lacertilian

        At least you know I’ve read the actual post first, not like some of the jabronis we’ve had in here over the years.

        • siqq burnings

        • i liked it better when you were behind several hours, versus ahead.

          • Lacertilian

            Did it happen today?
            I just woke up and haven’t seen the other posts.

          • i jest, it’s good to see you real-time!

          • Lacertilian

            After just reading the other posts, I see that it did indeed happen earlier today. Hahaha, what are the chances?
            (Answer: “Too damn high”).

    • Stanley

      Locals supporting locals. Yep, gonna see them on Thursday, I might have to pick up one of those shirts.

  • Dubs

    Proscriptor >>>

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      Absu >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • I like Akarthsia’s sound. Also, you kinda look like that dude.

    • Stanley

      And that Dear Joseph is why I don’t wear cut off shorts and Doc Martin boots!

      • Dubs

        Dad shorts >>>

  • Haha, yeah man both times I saw Black Witchery some dork lit a bible on fire in the pit and security had to drag their asses out of the club. So stupid, it’s a great way to get the show canceled.

    Killer stuff man.

    • Stanley

      The dude didn’t even get thrown out. I don’t believe (apart from a couple of bouncers on the door) that there was any security.

      • Then keep the fire ablaze I guess. Still stupid though.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      That’s something I do not like. I’m religious and I would never go to a show with idiots lighting bibles on fire.

      • Stanley

        Religious or not, setting things on fire at a show is just dumb. Just ask Great White.

        • Dubs

          Unless it’s your guitar with your flaming hot riffs AYYYYYOOOOOO

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Or literally smoking riffs like Myrath (in their ‘Believer’ video).

        • Janitor Jim Duggan

          Exactly.

        • Óðinn

          Except they it themselves on fire with cheesy pyrotechnics. That is dumb.

          • Stanley

            Unless you are Rammstein with a big budget and skilled technicians, I’d stay well away from that stuff.

          • Óðinn

            Yes. You should definitely know what you’re doing.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Tiel Lieberman is also a trained pyrotechnician, so he knows what he’s doing.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            They shouldn’t have used pyrotechnics in a club that small. They’re also awful and will never live down what they did.

          • Óðinn

            You’re right. It was a bad idea. There were no sprinklers in the building and it was small. The bouncers stopped people from using emergency exits too.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            And the lawsuits after that whole thing got ridiculous. Even Pepsi got sued for fuck’s sake.

          • more beer

            100 people died. Of course the lawsuits got out of hand. But then again, no amount of money brings back your dead loved one.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            And low roof.

            Other bands play, GREAT WHITE KILLS!!!!!

          • more beer

            It is hard to believe they even had a small venue over capacity.

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls
    • Óðinn

      Meh. It’s a Metal Show. If people are gonna get their panties in a bunch about lighting a bible on fire…

      • more beer

        Or on the steps of a church!

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      And good way to get a felony arson charge.

      • more beer

        Some people have to live and learn.

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          Yup!

        • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

          Live and let die.

  • Molenaar handed me that Pale Chalice album and it blew me how professional and dynamic was the songwriting for a relatively new band.

    Good job, Stan!

  • So, did you wear your battle jacket? I remember it looking pretty dang tight.

    • Stanley

      Hell yeah! It’s had a good few outings.

      • Excellent!

      • Óðinn

        It’s seen battle.

        • Stanley

          Ha ha. Hail and kill!

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Hail! I really liked your write up Stan! Good work, sounded like a fun night.

  • Joaquin Stick

    Reading this is making me very sad that I haven’t gone to a show in like 8 months. Halfway between NY and Boston is the worst place to be, especially for weekday shows. Good read Satanly.

    • “Reading this is making me very sad that I haven’t gone to a show in like 8 months”.

      Did you moved to Venezuela 8 months ago!?

    • COAL ROLL

      Webster theater

      • Joaquin Stick

        I have seen a few sorta-interesting shows go through there, but nothing quite got me excited enough to venture there yet. I am sure I’ll cave and go soon though, even if it just for one opening band that I sorta like.

    • more beer

      That is kind of a no man’s land for shows.

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      I haven’t been to one in over 3 years, since I moved here (VA). Bands either come to Norfolk or VA Beach, which would take several hours on the bus (I don’t drive, and never have), or Richmond, which is halfway across the state.

      • more beer

        I haven’t been to a show in 2 weeks and that seems like a long time.

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          Imagine 3 years! My roomie invited me to Lunatic Luau in Virginia Beach, but the lineup is fucking horrible outside of Ghost. No way I’m sitting through 10 shitty bands just to see one band I kinda like.

          • more beer

            I wouldn’t do that either. What is that one of those shitty radio station shows?

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            How’d you guess? Yes, it’s sponsored by the local alternative station, which means there’s gonna be fuckloads of bros and meatheads there. Especially with Five Finger Death Punch as one of the headliners.

          • more beer

            Because it has a really stupid name like most every other radio station show. The station here has one of those too with a lot of the same shitty bands. There is no way I would ever go to that. Riot fest is here and I don’t go to that because there is way too much shit I don’t like. Last year I went to DRI instead and got a much better show. For 5 bucks.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            And a whole lot less hipsters than Riot Fest (especially the ones wearing their fresh, new Ramones shirts from Urban Outfitters, and idiots who wear The Exploited’s ‘Punk’s Not Dead’ shirts and can’t name one song). I heard Riot Fest used actually be good at one time.

          • more beer

            Yea but it isn’t anymore. Plus that was the same night Motorhead cancelled.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Was that the one he cancelled because the elevation was messing with his breathing? If so, that sucks even more, since that was your last chance to ever see them.

          • more beer

            I have seen them numerous times. I wasn’t going to go to that anyhow.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Probably best that you didn’t. Even if they didn’t cancel, Lemmy was already quitting after a couple of songs at that point, anyway. Twas a sad spectacle to behold in his final days.

          • more beer

            Yea i will remember him from the shows I saw when he was healthy.

  • I want to leave this for you Stan before I get ready to gear up here to ride home. Just ordered the vinyl of this the other day. Great stuff, maybe you’ll dig. It’s got a lot of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas moments. The riffs and guitars sound especially.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJpswey1Wi0&nohtml5=False

  • “Circles of the Oath”… are they covering Axel Rudi Pell now??
    great write-up @disqus_tkPTWDpIxX:disqus! Absu is a [very] good.

  • Owlswald

    Good write-up Stanley. Coincidentally, I’m headed to see Intronaut, Scale the Summit, North and He Whose Ox is Gored tonight (first show in ages). The Ocean was supposed to be in place of S.T.S but stupid visa issues caused them to cancel the tour.

    • Stanley

      “He Whose Ox is Gored”. We have a winner!

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      It’s official: I’m never saying “that really gets my goat” ever again, since it’s now being replaced with “that really gored my ox”. As people slowly back away and reach for their mace.

  • Waynecro

    Cool story (and photos), bro! It sounds like a fun evening–totally worth being out late on a weeknight. “Five bands. On a Wednesday. First band on just after eight o’clock. Sheeeeit!” I feel your pain. I went to a show on a Sunday night recently, only to discover the show started an hour later than I thought it did. All I could think was, “I’m old, and I have to get up early for work tomorrow. Why is there nowhere to sit?”

    • Owlswald

      This is my exact mindset tonight. Do they really have to cram that extra local band on an already 4 band bill? Seems counterproductive to only be able to play for 15 minutes to a quarter full venue but gotta take what you can get.

      • Waynecro

        One of the bands I had to sit through was Psychostick–a novelty band that sings joke songs about beer, boobs, and beards. That’s real cute and everything, but I didn’t agree to be out well past my bedtime on a work night for that shit. I’m just too old and too sober.

    • Stanley

      Why is there never anywhere to sit? Luckily I found a good spot that night.

      • Waynecro

        I didn’t find a place to sit down, but I was able to lean against the wall. That gave my back a break and helped me look totally cool and aloof.

      • more beer

        There is no place to sit there. After 3 days there at California Deathfest. I felt like a needed foot replacement surgery. Most of the venues here have someplace to sit. I am looking forward to another 3 days on my feet there come October. They only moved about a block away correct?

        • Stanley

          In the new location (which is only a couple of blocks away), there’s a small seating area near the front bar. I’m sure people will be fighting over the seats during Deathfest,

          • more beer

            That is better than what they had at the old venue.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      I don’t go to concerts with over 5 bands on the bill. I hate them because I don’t want to stay for the whole show sometimes

      • Waynecro

        I get that. The last time I went to the Summer Slaughter Tour, I was standing around for, like, eight hours. It’s a bit much.

    • brokensnow

      I fell asleep at the ohio metelfest. in some corner in the agora theatre.

  • JWEG

    I’m old and I get all crotchety when it’s already past my bedtime

    This reminds me of a BISON (B.C.) gig a few years back that was initially scheduled to go only to about midnight, but somewhere along the lines stretched out to way past then.

    The immediately-preceding band either vastly underestimated the length of their planned set (by about an hour and a half) or maybe BISON were late arriving but nobody wanted to admit that to the rowdy crowd so they just let those other guys keep on playing.

    BISON didn’t actually even take the stage until past midnight, by all reports, by which time I’d already given up and left for home. Mostly because the local bus Transit system stops running from downtown back to my part of Oak Bay at just past 11PM. I didn’t like the idea of an hour walk in the early A.M. after a 6 hour gig (assuming it ended at 2). Age probably had a lot to do with that. But so does just generally enjoying any opportunity to sleep for a full night.

    • pfk505

      Is it weird that I’ll be seeing that same band tomorrow night in the exact same city and hoping the same thing doesn’t happen as I have to get up for work at 6am?

      • JWEG

        I feel the only reason the gig would go way past midnight is if it starts later than planned, since Bison (and Black Wizard) are there to support Red Fang, not the other way around. I might think differently if the promotional flyer I saw said anything about co-headlining though.

        I wouldn’t totally quote me on that, but it has precedent: Distrikt was relatively strict about adhering to the planned time span – if not the time limit – for the last few shows I went to there.

        (I liked it a lot more back when it was Legends, though)

        • pfk505

          I’m not crazy about the venue or the bands, going because a friend wants to.. will duck out early if need be. Moderately excited to see Bison though.

  • Óðinn

    I’m late on this, I know. I was really sick this weekend. But Vince Neil is an idiot. it had to be said.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woMOoJPOPW4&nohtml5=False

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      I smell a lawsuit coming!

    • more beer

      They are both in Las Vegas to drink themselves to death!

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        Lol! Love the movie, and the book even better. John O’Brian is one of my favorite authors.

        • more beer

          It’s a great movie. Never read the book. But what else can those 2 be doing together other than that?

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            The book is even darker, and explains a lot that the movie doesn’t, namely why he chose to kill himself. Plus much of the plot is completely different.

            Lol, drinking is pretty much the only thing that’d bring them together, definite!

  • COAL ROLL

    Awesome

  • Phoenix of the House Tendies

    Seen Absu three times, the first when they were a four piece. They never disappoint.

    • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

      I missed them when they came thru here a couple weeks ago because wasn’t feeling great. Was on a Friday too. I regret my decision.

  • pfk505

    Saw Absu this past weekend and they fucking slayed

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    ABSU!!!!! ‘Nuff said!

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Great concert coverage. Nice work, Stan.