Saturday, May 11, 2013

Gwynbleidd @ Public Assembly 5.10.2013

Back in 2007 I saw Gwynbleidd for the first time, sharing a bill with a friend's band. With their mix of early Opeth and Katatonia, I was pretty much a fan instantly. I can remember a time when it seemed I was the only one at their shows who didn't speak Polish; by the time they opened for Entombed a few years later their rep in the local scene was growing, and I wasn't the only one headbanging at the front of the stage. The last time I saw them, before I left NY in 2011, turned out to be their last show before line-up troubles put them on an indefinite hiatus. By some weird fluke it turned out they were playing their first show with their new line-up the same time I was back in NY for a buddy's wedding; the timing was too good. No two ways about it, the Metal Gods planned for this to happen.



Boston pretty much invented metalcore with Overcast and Shadows Fall, so it's understandable why Swarm of Eyes may hold breakdowns closer to their hearts than the rest of us. When they ditch the metalcore tics, they start to resemble something akin to a gnarlier Evocation, and are all the better for it. They've got the chops if not the big ideas, and with their laconic charm and New England humour, their time on stage is enjoyable.

It feels like Grey Skies Fallen have been around forever, and for the life of me I can't figure out why they aren't bigger.  Everything about their music seems designed to get Peaceville fans foaming at the mouth. Even their one-liners are delivered like eulogies: "We're going to speed it up a little, so you don't fall asleep." My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost are obvious influences, but rather than simply aping them, Grey Skies Fallen keep things interesting by adding elements of black metal to their maudlin doom. They end their set with a promise to be more active; let's hope the rest of the metal world notices.

Losing half your line-up including your lead singer would scuttle most bands, but Gwynbleidd were always a little different. They always stood apart from the rest of the NY scene, their folk-leaning black metal seeming more authentic due to their Polish heritage. Since this was their first show in two years, a little ring rust was to be expected; truthfully there were a few rough patches in the early moments of the set, but by the time they hit "Staring Into the Sun", Gwynbleidd hit their stride. It's obvious guitarist Michael is still growing into his new role as lead singer, and the new recruits may look like they were picked up at a Hydrahead warehouse, but they all acquitted themselves admirably. Welcome back, guys.

After seeing Gwynbleidd I shot over to the nearby Acheron, where Brooklyn's cool metal kids were gathered for Woe, Mutilation Rites and Mortals. (Usually you know the cool metal kids because of their chic retro patch jackets, but those seem to be on the way out...possibly because of things like this?). I was looking forward to seeing Mortals; just my luck the only show they played while I was in town was the same night as Gwynbleidd. Hopefully the next time I'm in town if Mortals and Gwynbleidd play the same night, it'll at least be at the same venue.

I missed the first two bands but luckily arrived in time to catch headliners Woe. At times their stripped down assault takes on an almost ENT-like urgency, black metal and power violence coalescing into one fast paintstripping assault. The list of bands doing the ultra nekro early Darkthrone thing is ever growing (strangely, Darkthrone themselves are no longer on that list) but these guys do it with convincing vehemence. Plus, as someone who remembers when USBM and NSBM were largely interchangeable, I found their cover of Aus Rotten's "Fuck Nazi Sympathy" incredibly endearing.

Two metal shows in one night, and two slices of vegan pizza between them? Don't ever change, Brooklyn.

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