Jun 9, 2011
Megaton Leviathan, Northless, and Sleepbringer Destroy The Dojo ...
Last month I was lucky enough to catch an amazing doom metal show in Indianapolis, Indiana. The show featured Indy’s Sleepbringer, Oregon’s Megaton Leviathan, and Wisconsin’s Northless, all playing in a small box of a club called The Dojo. The Dojo has just enough “stage” room for one band’s amps to sit, which puts the performers on the floor, right in the mix with the audience. The effect is intimate, terrifying, or both, depending on who you ask. I took the following picture of a hole in the ceiling. The hole is significant because it was probably made by a guitar and because it happened to be right over where I was standing, at the back of the club. Obviously some serious metal happens at this place.
The show started with Sleepbringer, who put on an amazing technical display of prowess, despite supposedly being out of practice that night. The band managed to stay tight through all their odd time signatures, complex song structures, and pedal-board gymnastics. Their music was relentlessly dirge-like, from the church organ effects of the guitars to the bitter growls of the vocals. By the end of their set, they had set an appropriately gloomy atmosphere, and the whole crowd was bobbing in unison to the rhythm. My favorite songs were “The Pallbearer’s Lament” and “Eulogy” (available at Bandcamp on their latest album, Compendium).
The show closed with Northless, a blast of raw hatred and aggression. The band has been accurately compared to Sleep, EyeHateGod, and the Melvins. So obviously it was good. “Sink or Swim” is as heavy as sack full of cannonballs. The band manages to capture the slow, gloomy, primal sound of sludge while also bursting forth with the occasional fast, aggressive fill to keep the music unpredictable. Northless was worthy of their headliner spot, and their talent and aggression definitely put them on the map for me.
Though they were probably the least musically-talented of the three bands, Megaton Leviathan captured my attention the most because their stage show was unlike anything I have ever seen before. They employed visual spectacle like you might see in a Pink Floyd, Isis, or Tool concert, but they also brought their own unique presence to the stage.
human hair extensions, this band would be a gold mine. Most of the band looked like Celtic tribesman that someone dressed up in t-shirts and leather. The two guitarists were dressed in black, while the drummer and bassist showed some skin so that they could display all their Celtic and tribal tattoos.
First the band turned off the lights and set up their equipment by candle-light. Then the bassist—apparently the shaman of the group, began a bizarre ritual: he set up a guitar case in front of the drums, covered It with a goat-skin, and brought out an intricately-carved metal plate on which sat several candles, a smudging bundle of sage, and other mystical accoutrement. He lit the sage and began fanning the smoke across himself, each of his band members in turn, and the four corners of the venue. Meanwhile their visual artist set up a screen in the background and began projecting a slideshow of psychedelically-filtered images of skulls, soil, and barbed wire. The band did not say a word to anyone at any point during their set-up or performance, and the only vocals on the music were a few guttural syllables of who-knows-what language, ran through a bank of filtering that made the voice sound distant and alien.
Live Review By Aaron Connell, check out his blog at Art Room Melody.Com
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