Sunday, May 19, 2013

Vektor @ Blackthorn 51, 5.18.13

I hate "21 and over" shows. They were annoying when I was a minor, but as a hesher who's clearly marched past 30, it's aggravating to be asked for ID. Isn't my time ravaged face proof enough of my age? I have to be carded too?

So I was irritated that this show at Queens' new Blackthorn 51 club was advertised as strictly 21 and over; I was doubly irritated when I entered the club and discovered that most of the audience was clearly underage. Besides the tell-tale "x"s drawn on hands, I spotted a few moms waiting patiently for it all to be over. A tip for underage heshers: Going to a show with your mom is not metal (unless your mom is Doro Pesch). Tell her to pick you up when it's done, preferably at the end of the block. The kvlt black metal shirt you ordered on e-Bay has way more cred that way. [Though mom and I are probably in agreement that when the young heshers put their arms around each other for some synchronized headbanging, that shit is adorable].


I should have asked one of those moms what she thought of her kids playing in a band called Shitkill. They play meat and potatoes thrash (in case the flying V didn't make it obvious) but with enough updated elements to keep them interesting. Their youth does become apparent in the fact that almost all their lyrics feature some variation on "fuck you." Points for dedicating a duo of Slayer covers (At Dawn They Sleep/Necrophobic) to the late Jeff Hanneman - something I suspect happened at almost every metal show those weeks after Hanneman's death, but a classy move nonetheless. The ship has sailed on thrash revival (you knew it was in trouble when even Skeleton Witch started denying they were part of it), but between their chops and their youthful exhuberance, whatever these kids do next will probably be good.
And that was the night I fell in love with Carcinogen. How could I not? I'm a sucker for death metal rooted in thrash - think Ripping Corpse, but with a hefty Suffocation influence (duh, they're from Lawn Guyland) and a drummer who beats his snare like it owes him money. The circle pit was instantaneous, but a stone faced security lug quickly put the kibosh on any stagediving. The only reason I didn't go home in a Carcinogen shirt is that they didn't bring any. [Though I would have settled for buying the guitarist's sweet Demolition Hammer hoodie... I had no idea such a thing existed and now it's my favourite thing in the world.]

As much as I'd like to call a moratorium on thrash revival, I have to admit Vektor have a pretty interesting gimmick. Not thrash revival but Voivod revival? Leave alone the fact that Voivod just put out their best album in over a decade, it's a unique enough concept for me to belay my skepticism. And who wouldn't want a younger, faster, hungrier Voivod?

Except besides a kinship with Killing Technology's blistering speed and off-kilter rhythms, Vektor don't really sound like Voivod. Can I argue that Vektor have more in common with Coroner without being accused of simply being contrarian? [Probably not.] Which may be why I'm reluctant to paint these guys with the same retro-fetishist brush as, say, Aura Noir. More than most thrash revival bands, they capture the original spirit of thrash by striving to be forward thinking and unique. You can't play "sci fi thrash" and not have an eye towards the future, after all.
The audience's reaction is at times muted; ten minute songs and twin-guitar fret-blazing inspire more furrowed brows and thoughtful nodding than circle pits (in general, I prefer metal that stimulates your frontal lobe). Though as talented as the two guitarists are, the real star that night had to be their sick drummer. "Sick" as in "fast". Also, "sick" as in "stomach virus": Midway through a song, he started vomiting, but barely missed a beat. Fucking warrior. Give that man a pat on the back and some fucking Dramamine, stat. "Sci Fi or Die" indeed; this shit isn't for faint hearts or full stomachs.

Dreams of Consciousness was only kidding about not bringing your mom to a metal show; tell her to bake cookies and send them here.

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