Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Violence Warfare 2012 @ Doppel Kafe, 11.09.2012

Seeing as "Malaysian Time" is an established thing, I viewed the 4pm start time for this all day grindcore fest with suspicion. I decided to show up at 6:30 to be on the safe side. I mean, how far off could the actual start be? Two hours? Three?

Try six.

The tardiness was blamed on heavy rain causing traffic delays, but I get the sense that no one really took the advertised start time seriously - including, apparently, the promoter, who didn't show up til around 8pm. The staff at Doppel Kafe did their best to placate people that the show was, in fact, happening, when there was little evidence of it to be seen. In the meantime, the venue was taken over by a group of older Indian gentlemen who worked diligently to finish a bottle of whiskey and several cans of beer. Occasionally one of them would get up and extol the virtues of the BeeGees' "You Should be Dancing" to whoever was in shouting distance. It was awesome. I crossed my fingers that those old dudes would stick around and try some body surfing.

As members of the performing acts arrived to find the gig delayed, most killed time one floor below at the local mamak stall. Thinking about the number of cigarettes smoked while people waited, I began to wonder if the increasing lateness of KL shows is being orchestrated by Philip Morris and their local distributors just to increase sales. They seem to be the ones with the most to gain from people sitting around bored every week. Like the best conspiracy theorists, I have no proof. Just planting seeds...

When the show finally did start, it was up to the young 3-piece PunahRanah to kick it off. With their guitarist and bassist sharing vocals, their deathgrind is actually more thought out than songs like "Unholy Gut Defecation" would suggest. I was hearing a lot of early Brutal Truth even before their cover of "Walking Corpse" confirmed it. A mid-set turn for more deathly things was a welcome change - KL has more than enough grind bands, I figure, and not enough death metal. It's a shame that the guitars were buried throughout their set, but that was made up for by some stellar cymbal work on the part of their drummer. A good start after that interminable wait. 

Since School of Prison soundchecked with "Astrozombies" and two of their members brazenly wore Misfits shirts, this paragraph should write itself. So, let's try that: feel free to assemble the following phrases as they seem fit: "horror punk" + "Misfits covers" + "Danzig impression" + "well worn" + "non-essential but fun" + "oooooooooohhhhhh -oh -oh -oh" + "needs more devil locks."

Grind trio Diseksa ramped the violence quotient up considerably. Despite the "dis" prefix, their style is closer to the hypergrind of Insect Warfare (who they cover). A three-piece with just a drummer, single guitarist (also in Deforming Torture) and vocalist, they represented the "Rumah Api" style of grind that night. Their drummer had a gig the same night with Hatred Division, and two more over the weekend with Shitbox Noise; which may make him the hardest working man in Malaysian grind.

Ventrical reminded me of Agoraphobic Nosebleed with their short blasts of anti-song grind, but mostly I was impressed by how low their tiny singer could growl and how high he could jump. Despite the fact that they're one of the few local grind bands with an actual bassist, I was left wondering how many nearly-identical bands one small scene can support.

Compulsion to Kill were the only band in the lineup that I'd seen before, and I was keen to see them again. Down to a 3-piece from the last time (their other vocalist was sick, apparently), the level of experience between them and their Malaysian peers was significant. Playing off of the short stage and spurring the crowd to action, their confidence came through not just in their stage presence but also in their music. Looking forward to that split with Tools of the Trade.
If someone hadn't told me that Psychotic Sufferance have been around since the early 90's, I wouldn't have guessed it - most of their line-up is incredibly young. New blood keeps them going, I guess. Firmly on the crust/noise side of the grind divide, their longevity speaks volumes about their dedication to their genre. They don't lack passion or intensity; what they do lack is something to separate themselves from the pack, OG status aside. But seeing as half their line-up is also in Ventrical, maybe they just really, really love this stuff.

The sameness of the majority of the line-up was starting to wear on me, so Fadedface's throwback to 90's punk was a welcome escape (even if I did spend the majority of their set sitting down). Filling in for local punk heroes Carburetor Dung couldn't have been an easy task, but they pulled it off pretty well. As if in consolation to those disappointed with the line-up change, they ended their set with the Carburetor anthem "Boo Hoo Clapping Song," to the delight of the crowd. Watching kids in death metal and grindcore shirts singing and dancing to a 90's punk anthem is a sure sign of something, I just don't know what.

Grind has always had a performance art/noise element to it, and Agent Sundal dial it way up. If I were to try and understand their appeal, it would be along the lines of how some people preferred Sore Throat's glibness to Napalm Death's seriousness. (It should be pointed out though that Sore Throat are long gone and Napalm just released their 15th album). Without a discernable riff and drawing their set out way too long, it was a litmus test of "how much grinding noise can you stand?" In my case, not much. Still, masks make metal fun, right?

Headliners Proletar were in a class of their own that night. The grIndonesians (I will make that term a thing) know not to let genre fidelity get in the way of a good hook, and are just as heavy when they're heaving as they are when they're blasting. With their political bent ("George War Bush" is a song) and their bassist and drummer sharing vocal duties, they have an obvious appreciation for Nasum. For those who showed up early (ie "on time") and stuck it out to the end, this had to have been worth the wait.

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