I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the crowd this past Friday at Santos Party House, knowing that a few of NYC‘s usual suspect-type show-goers had made their way down to Maryland Deathfest, which was also running this weekend, but by the time Orange Goblin went on, the place was packed, and even for Kings Destroy, who opened the night up at around 7:45PM, there was a good, eager crowd happy to soak up as much doom as possible.
In that regard, Kings Destroy completely delivered. I know I’m nowhere near impartial when it comes to these guys, having released their (fucking excellent) And the Rest Will Surely Perish album on The Maple Forum (the band still has copies for sale here), but they just keep getting better. Their new bassist was right in the pocket, and of all the times I’ve seen them, I don’t think drummer Rob Sefcik has ever sounded better. He kept the pacing of the songs down and gave Chris Skowronski and Carl Porcaro‘s guitars plenty of room to breathe, but still hit heavy and clean on the toms, adding no shortage of thunder to the proceedings. You could feel the air move.
They had one yet-unnamed new song on offer, which was their closer, and though vocalist Steve Murphy later told me they played it too fast, the track had a cool, later-Sabbath vibe that sat well next to album cuts like “XXY” and “The Mountie.” I dug it, anyway, but I guess that was bound to happen. Kings Destroy groove like few are bold enough to do in New York, and I’m even gladder to call them friends than I am to plug the hell out of their record every chance I get. They’re only getting better.
It was kind of a funny circumstance, but I’ve only been to Santos Party House twice now (this show and when Weedeater came through in February), and Brooklyn psych outfit Naam played both shows. The trio — who are on most if not all of the tour with Orange Goblin and The Gates of Slumber — had a synth organist on stage with them, and it really filled out their sound. They said he was doing a couple shows as part of the band, and Naam are a force on stage anyway, but this put them in a different league altogether, with guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lugar‘s tone being excellently complemented and filled out by the sustained organ sounds.
And as regards Naam, I can’t think of another way to say it: bassist John Preston Bundy has one of the best doombeards in NYC. That thing is good, and he clearly knows it. As Naam wound down their set with the epic title-track from their Kingdom EP, his vocals complemented Lugar‘s and the resultant swirl was even more visceral for the organ sounds. Naam was probably the odd band out among the three doomier acts on the bill, but if it bothered them, they never let on, and the hometown crowd — which unless I’m mistaken included a few family members who gathered around for pictures after their set — ate it up. I don’t think there was anyone there who needed convincing, but if there was, they were duly convinced.
I had been looking forward to seeing The Gates of Slumber since picking up their newest installment, The Wretch, at Roadburn and reveling in its doomly snail’s pacing. When last I saw them, it was in the small room under Webster Hall, and they were good then, but there’s no denying guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon is completely in his element rocking out mournful total-doom songs about drinking and losing at life. They were killer. Hard not to hoist a claw or two to such rampant musical misery.
The material from The Wretch was some of the strongest they played — that’s not to discount the impact of “The Ice Worm’s Lair” — and new drummer “Cool Clyde” Paradis has a clearly natural ability to play slow and still make it sound heavy. Between him and bassist Jason McCash, Simon had formidable backup, although maybe that’s underplaying their roles in the band a bit, since each third of the trio brings so much to the whole. Either way, their songs managed to sound empty and minimalist and still without actually being boring or inaccessible, and they showed that their latest lineup is their strongest yet.
And then, after three already killer sets, there came Orange Goblin. The foursome had been wandering through the crowd for most of the night, back and forth between backstage and the bar, the can, etc., and they came out introduced by AC/DC‘s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).” Santos was long since packed out, and it was more of a party (as the name of the venue would suggest) than a show by the time they were a few songs in. The songs from Orange Goblin‘s last album, 2007′s Healing Through Fire, went over especially well — “They Come Back” and “Harvest of Skulls” being high points — but even through classics like “Cozmo Bozo” and “Aquatic Fanatic,” frontman Ben Ward had the crowd eating from his hand.
There was a mosh pit, if a friendly, old-school-metal, “let’s all bump into each other and not throw punches,” one, and a single diver took the stage no less than four times, singing along with Ward and even once trying to grab the vocalist’s beer, which was where the line seemed to be drawn. As it’s become my motto for existence, “Some You Win, Some You Lose” was a special boon, guitarist Joe Hoare putting the song’s awesome main riff to good use for the crowd singing along to Ward. There was a three-song encore of “Time Traveling Blues,” “Quincy the Pigboy” and “Scorpionica,” all of which sent the audience apeshit, though maybe a little less so for the former, which is a slower cut. Nonetheless, Orange Goblin were amazing the whole way through.
It had me thinking back to the last time they were in town, in 2006 with Scissorfight at the now-showless Continental, and how even though they’ve only been back to the US once since then (for the Planet Caravan fest in North Carolina in 2009), their reputation has grown enormously. I recall the Continental being crowded, but nothing like this. Santos is a much bigger room, and it was full, so there’s no doubt the last couple years have brought well-spread word on their unique and boozy brand of mayhem. All the more exciting, then, to think what they’ll be able to accomplish with their next album. Ben Ward called the NYC show a “life-changing moment,” and maybe it was.
Orange Goblin was nonetheless headed south to Maryland Deathfest and then out for more shows with Naam and The Gates of Slumber, so once it was over, it was over. Someone suckerpunched Tommy Southard from Solace outside the venue, perhaps out of jealousy of Solace‘s last album, A.D. (which was my pick of the year in 2010), but I didn’t stick around to watch the drama unfold if there was any. With a long-enough drive back to Jersey, some late-night empanadas and subsequently my humble river valley ahead, I split out for the car, rife with the kind of energy only a really, really good night can provide.
I know this was a long one, but if you’re still reading, thanks for that. More pics after the jump.
The Gates of Slumber
Tags: Kings Destroy, Naam, New York City, Orange Goblin, The Gates of Slumber