It was going to take a bastard of a bill to make me crawl out from the rock I’ve been hiding under and go see a show at the Acheron in Brooklyn, but Friday night, that’s just what I got. The show began two nights in a row of Earthride, and boasted hometown ultra-doomers Archon and the similarly-minded ambient evil deeds of Connecticut‘s When the Deadbolt Breaks in the support slots. After sitting in traffic for approximately four hours to get from Central Jersey to the gig, I was in just the right mindset for Archon‘s screaming dirges.
I had four dollars to my name and spent them promptly on a can of High Life. Archon were already loaded in and ready to roll. The room — longer than it is wide, black-painted cinderblock or brick with drywall and cement floor, small stage and high ceiling — wasn’t full, but the turnout was decent given the probably five or six other shows happening down the block in Williamsburg. The dreadlocked/male contingent of Archon‘s vocalizing duo, Chris Dialogue, bassist Nikhil Kamineni and drummer Rajah Marcelo are all also members of Alkahest (album review here), so with vocalist Rachel Brown and guitarist Andrew Jude the only parties unaccounted for in that band, it was kind of like the two acts had merged on stage. Heavy as hell, either way.
Jude, who as I understand it writes most of the material, always seems to have one foot planted in Dopesmoker no matter the project he’s involved in — and that’s not a critique, since anyone who’s heard Archon‘s death/doom plod will tell you he’s doing more than merely aping the influence. Dialogue set up down in front of the stage on which the other four members of the band played and did the kind of thrashing around I’ve come to expect from his performances, his low growls and high screams sounding no less vicious for the physical exertion. His vocals and Brown‘s — mostly melodic, but with some screams in there as well — played off each other well, and though the bass seemed to be lost in the room through much of the night, there was sufficient low end to stand up to the multi-pronged assault.
That was true as well for When the Deadbolt Breaks. Like Archon, they’re a band I consider friends more than a group I’d be able to really review with total impartiality (which, as a concept, is a farce anyway), but I was glad to see them anyhow and hear Aaron Lewis‘ violent levels of volume. He and bassist Roman Garbacick shared screaming duties and, together with new drummer Rich Kalinowski, crafted a sound as foreboding as the band’s name. Kalinowski‘s china cymbal kept getting stuck up next to Lewis‘ Sunn rig, but he worked with it and it was far and away the best drumming When the Deadbolt Breaks has ever had. Lewis has been through a few rhythm sections and singers over the years, but with Garbacick and Kalinowski (sounds a little like a law firm), he has two presences in the band to complement his own.
One of my favorite aspects of Deadbolt‘s sound has always been the creepy parts. Lewis has always been patient in steering the band through these sections of malevolent ambience, and though the Acheron wasn’t ideal for Garbacick‘s heavy bass or Kalinowski‘s china, the black walls and forced-in sound did work with the psychologically disturbing elements of their approach. Of course, they contrast those stretches with hurtful sludge, so you have to take it with the context surrounding as well. At this point, I’ve seen and done shows with them so many times over the years I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite, but this might be the most together lineup When the Deadbolt Breaks have put together yet. Here’s hoping it sticks.
And it’s funny to think of it, but in a way, Earthride were the odd men out on their own bill. Archon and When the Deadbolt Breaks — whom Earthride vocalist Dave Sherman referred to as “Acheron” (the name of the venue) and “When the Deadbolt Strikes,” respectively — had enough similarities of approach between them to be cohesive, but throw in Earthride‘s more stonerly-directed riffing, laid back doom groove and always-charming (no sarcasm; see previous sentence) stage antics, and it was a whole different kind of heavy. Bassist Josh Hart and drummer Eric Little were even more in the pocket than at SHoD, and guitarist Kyle Van Steinberg, also of War Injun, busted into a few freakishly good solos. I’m not 100 percent, but I think they might also all have been stoned.
They opened with “Fighting the Devils Inside of You” from 2005′s Vampire Circus and moved into a few cuts from last year’s Something Wicked album, starting with the righteously grooving title-track and “Hacksaw Eyeball,” which Sherman noted was about the band’s hometown in Frederick, Maryland, and which underscored the point of how much Southern Lord missed the boat on not putting out that record. “Hacksaw Eyeball” might have been Sherman‘s best performance, taking the blown-out screams and cleaner choruses of the album version and bringing them to life, but I wouldn’t discount the riff-riding the frontman broke out for “Earthride,” arms stretched out in front of him, steering an invisible stoner rock chopper down I-95 to some freedom most of us will never see.
When they were finished, the crowd demanded another song, and with some discussion, they acquiesced. The place never really packed out, but it was clear that those who showed up knew why they were there. I left soon enough after they were done and headed back through Manhattan to pick up The Patient Mrs., who’d spent the evening among the ranks “occupying” Wall Street — and if you ever want a convenient metaphor for what our relationship is like, that’s it.
Like I alluded to earlier, it was the first of two nights in a row I’d be seeing Earthride. The second was at Asbury Lanes in the surprisingly built-up Asbury Park, NJ, where they were on the bill for (former) Solace guitarist Tommy Southard‘s wedding reception. I’d write about that too, but it seems tacky somehow to review someone’s nuptial celebrations, however much Shiner Bock I may have imbibed. Suffice it to say a good time was had by all (again), and Earthride delivered the doom as increasingly they seem to be the only ones able to do.
Many more pics after the jump.
When the Deadbolt Breaks
EarthrideArchon, Brooklyn, Connecticut, Earthride, Maryland, Maryland doom, When the Deadbolt Breaks