Photos: Nathaniel Shannon
For those who have been living under a rock for the last two months or so, purveyors of the dark arts 1349 have teamed up alongside the monolithic Tombs and the paranoid-schizophrenic four piece known as Full of Hell for a month long raiding party across the United States. While the tour itself is a little over half-way done, I had the chance to consume a number of beers alongside the ever-stalwart Nathaniel C. Shannon last week at Brooklyn’s infamous Saint Vitus and have my soul pillaged by the sheer sonic battery that is the Chaos Raids USA Tour. What’s most interesting about this tour – if you’re not familiar with any of the bands, trust me, it’s a stacked line up – was that each band brought something different to the table. A little bit of Black Metal, a little bit of head crushing Post-Metal and a glimpse of the future. So without further ado, let’s delve into my own experience on that bitterly cold and heavily intoxicated night.
Full of Hell is one of those projects that up until about a year ago wasn’t on my radar. I had the chance to see them perform over the summer at another local Brooklyn Metal haunt, The Acheron, and was immediately impressed with their live show. Since that encounter, I’ve been immersing myself in their sound with the enthusiasm of a junkie who just scored a bag of the purest white china. So it goes without saying that I was eagerly looking forward to seeing them for another round of abuse. In respects to their music, these dudes are leaps and bounds above so many other bands out there right now, in terms of how they are really pushing their band’s path of self-discovery. And what’s truly frightening when talking about them is just how young these guys are. I’m not meaning that as a derogatory statement, or looking down my nose at them because I’ve tasted the bitter fruit of being middle-aged. What I’m trying to say is that these four gentlemen are just really starting to hit their stride. They’re young, they’re hungry and they fucking mean what they do. They’ve gained a surgeon’s precision with their instruments and the ability to execute the sonic vision they want as a band. It’s safe to say that there’re a number of projects out there in the extreme metal circuit that really just play it safe. They find a certain hook or pseudo-identity, stick to it and pump out the same record or performance, over and over again. Full of Hell isn’t one of those bands. They’re digging deeper into the scorched earth that composes their scarred emotional states; truly revealing a terrifying sound that can’t be mimicked or made up.
In the live setting, Dylan Walker, their lead singer, is a stalking psychopath on the wooden stage. He exudes an almost too comfortable affinity with his position in the band; never going for the cheesy theatrics that a number of metal band singers employ, Walker flirts with the audience with bouts of gasoline-fueled rage and honest to god, straight loathing for this world. It’s easy to tell when a singer or a band just phones in a live performance. It can be entertaining to a degree. They know exactly what will elicit a response from the crowd. But it’s not enthralling. It doesn’t have the passion nor fury in which the music is based upon. And that is what’s truly dangerous about Full of Hell in the live setting – the level of uncertainty that comes forth from them. You’re walking straight into a tornado of razor blades and broken glass with these guys. One that is gaining steam and size with every record they put down and every show they play, and it showed just that, almost perfectly that night on stage.
After a quick step outside to permeate my lungs with carcinogens, followed by another round of gut-rot whiskey, it was time to settle in for Tombs. I’m going to be honest on this one here folks – I’ve been living in New York City for almost six years. I know Tombs resides in the county of Kings, Brooklyn, as do I. I’ve known about this band for what seems like ages now. Even more so, I have their albums. I’ve listened to them here and there. But there was something – most likely my particular tastes and emotional state – at the time where Tombs and I just didn’t click. After a brief discussion with a friend at the bar, where I divulged my indifference to them, I was swiftly informed that my head had been up my ass for some time due to my apathy. Apparently, Tombs are a band that fit my metal-criminal profile. With a revamped line up and the murmur of them playing some new material, I was instantly curious as to what was about to unfold in front of me. With that knowledge in hand, I squeezed my way into packed room and was actually getting excited to be re-introduced to this band. Which is where, for a moment, a defining memory of this show occurred not just for me, but a few other, special people.
As I cut through the crowd, I eyed a nice vantage point with a little extra breathing room straight ahead. A perfect spot to maintain while I digested Tombs’ set. I positioned myself in the best possible way and quickly realized one major, glaring problem. Next to me, swaying in all his absolutely shit-bombed glory, was a young man kid decked out in the standard, patch-filled leather jacket. In his left hand was a giant, abomination of a fucking sandwich. Which, from the looks of it, contained some abhorrent inbreeding of pastrami and, just maybe, cottage cheese. A sandwich that he couldn’t really figure out how to get into his mouth. But the real crime at this moment, was the bottle of Snapple’s Peach Ice Tea he was spilling all over the ground, clutched in his right hand. As the concept of being able to feed himself quickly spirited away from the registered perception of his life, I realized this was going to be a huge problem. In more ways than one. I don’t hold much in this world sacred. I suffocate myself on a fringe sub-culture that revolves around hate for humanity. But watching this young kid – who absolutely won the blue ribbon for being the most intoxicated person I’ve ever laid eyes on – waste one of my absolute most guilty pleasures onto the ground, was beyond heartbreaking. Listen, I’ve been wasted before. I’m a grown man who, as I’m sure you’ve figured out already, likes to saturate my very soul from time to time with a wee bit of beer and whiskey. I’ve had some rough nights. Nights that I’m not proud of even still to this day.
But as I watched this profane, hellish creature stuff his face and waste a substance I considered to be the utmost thirst quenching of all beverages, my heart begin to swell with annoyance. An annoyance that leads to the mounting physical need to just smash him over the head and be done with both of our misery. Karma, or maybe it was the ridiculous amount of liquor he had ingested, decided to intervene in his favor. As his struggles with keeping himself upright and the paradox of him wanting the sandwich, yet not being able to eat it mounted, his body revolted against him. A stream of throaty bile ejected forth from him, caking the ground in this night’s liquor-fueled mistakes. He had already been given a fair amount of room as everyone watched this human tragedy unfold. But there was no saving that jacket. Or Snapple bottle. As reality crashed into his life for a brief second, I actually felt a ping of sympathy for this kid. That is, until he arced up his arm and smashed the vomit coated sandwich onto the ground as if he were wielding Mjolnir itself. The earth-sundering, drunken declaration he had made reverberated throughout his very core. Those around him took another cautious step back. Not a word was said among any of those who witnessed this primal display of frustration. He drunkenly stared down at the end result of his Jackson Pollock, emesis-driven art, turned around and give everyone the middle finger as he walked out.
Oh yeah. Tombs? They promptly fucking laid waste to Saint Vitus after that fiasco. They were the highlight of the show, at least for me.
After another refueling session and one more expedition into the night, the buzz was finally reaching a bowling point in Saint Vitus. 1349, the Norwegian purveyors of carnage and chaos were about to ascend the stage and lay waste to this crowd. In almost every review of a Black Metal I’ve done for this website, I’ve taken some swings at this style of music. Especially the more typical, corpse-paint and Scandinavian-driven stuff. But the simple fact is, I love Black Metal. From the imagery, the themes right and down to the music – I love this shit. I still get that seventeen year old dork tingle across my skin when I see a band such as 1349 about to unleash a set of venom and spite-fueled blasphemy. I still want to throw my hand up into the air and rip heaven down piece by piece when I hear this shit performed in the proper way. More than any other genre of extreme music, Black Metal really skull-fucked my entire world the first time I heard it. It has something that no other category of music will ever have for me. It’s something that is intangible and indescribable to anyone but myself. I guess you love what you hate and vice versa.
But I’m digressing in a major way. The godless heretics mounted the stage as if it were their personal Destrier from beyond the cold confines of space and time. I’ve been to my fair share of concerts over my life. From basement shows containing the other bands and their Moms who drove them, to straight up stadium sized rock extravaganzas. Some good, some bad, and some absolutely awful. But fear not, 1349 delivered the goods that night. There was no unnecessary banter or Rock Star attitude from them. Just straight, utterly mercilessness metal. They showed and demonstrated to everyone in that room how hyper-speed Black Metal should be done.There’s a reason why everyone was here that night; a reason why 1349 are at this level of notoriety. Simply boiled down, they’re fucking hell unleashed in the live setting. On this one, I’m going to let the image capturing wizard that is Nathaniel C. Shannon sum up what these beasts of impiousness summoned forth on that bleak January night. If you’re one of those who has to feel the full brunt of this tour’s assault – be prepared. The line up assembled on this limited tour is fucking fierce. Prepare not just yourself, but your family as well, for the inevitable fallout which will occur when all three bands ride into your town.
FULL OF HELL