After some personal commitments and lengthy delays in getting my videos to upload, here's our review of Friday night's Rivers of Nihil-headlined concert at The Rockstar Bar! Yes, this concert took place upstairs rather than the more extreme-friendly Algonquin Pub, but the locale worked out just fine for the impressive crowd on hand. I wouldn't say it was a sell-out, but metalheads made sure to cover the floor for the out of town bands, and they responded in kind all night long, which was extremely encouraging! Also, kudos to the bands for managing to preclude any lengthy delays!
Pillory in their first concert appearance in almost a year, so what should you know regarding their return? First, the guys have enlisted frontman Robert Sartini's Id Iota/Peach Thieves bandmate Blair St. John as their new bassist, replacing the relocated Jordan Leach. While more familiar as a drummer in less aggressive bands, Blair fit in fine with Pillory, and he has the bass chops to hang in this setting! Aside from the lineup change, Pillory largely picked up where they left off last summer, playing recent originals like "Angst of Existence", "Exhausted Incarnation", and (I believe) "Curse of Eternal Sin". Robert's Death-inspired vocals were ferocious as usual, and Bret Shuttleworth's drumming is as fast and technical as ever, but it would be nice to see Robert play some more guitar solos, and his between-song banter and demeanor is still too quiet and reserved, especially given Pillory's genre. Overall though, Pillory are back in fine form, and here's hoping for more soon!
Inferi, who set the bar high with their brutal onslaught! With songs from across their discography, and a nice selection from their new album "Revenant", Inferi had the crowd's attention from wire to wire, and attracted some of the best mosh pits I'd seen to this point at The Rockstar Bar (so far!) Vocalist Sam Schneider was capitvating and always keeping fans engaged amidst the devastation, and Malcolm Pugh's skilled guitar work was also a constant highlight! There was enough melody to go around, which helped keep things interesting , but I will say that their set did feel shorter than it really was, in part because they tended to play longer (and resultingly fewer) songs. Great set overall from Inferi, and you could argue that they stole the show on Friday!
Alterbeast, who were the band I was most familiar with going into the night, having discovered them on Pandora Radio a few years back. Touring in support of their new sophomore album "Feast" with songs like "Apex Night Eclipse" and "Flesh Bound Text" on the docket, their ferocious originals weren't as melodically sound as Inferi's, but made up for it in sheer viciousness and chaos. The crowd was surprisingly muted and scattered to start their set, but they made up for it in spades by the mid-point! Michael Alvarez's aggressive vocals and unique stage presence helped keep things moving, while new drummer Nathan Bigelow's drumming was a blasting highlight, and Andrew Lamb's guitar riffs were excellent throughout as well. Awesome to see Alterbeast live, and hopefully they keep up the solid work!
And finally, your headliners were Reading, Pennsylvania death metal quintet Rivers of Nihil, who rightfully got the biggest crowd and reactions of the night with their progressive, diverse, but ferocious brand of music on Friday night! My memory could be hazy, but I can't recall a circle pit of this size ever at The Rockstar Bar, let alone any wall of death attempts! Playing songs from across their three studio albums (including their new CD "Where Owls Know My Name") like "Death Is Real", "Old Nothing", and the crowd-involved "Sand Baptism", Rivers of Nihil brought the concert to a frenzy of a finish with highly technical and proficient performances, and singer Jake Dieffenbach made sure of that with his aggressive timbre, while Adam Biggs' showed off strong bass skill repeatedly, and the twin guitar attack was face-meltingly appropriate! You couldn't ask for a heavier finish, and here's hoping Rivers of Nihil and company come back down the road!
Overall, this was a great concert, and it's highly encouraging to see such a brutal extreme metal lineup of this high quality in the Soo, especially so soon after our 11th anniversary! Huge kudos to Live705 for booking this concert and for helping ensure a great turnout and fan response, and will this lead to more out of town extreme metal from them? You can check out our photos from Friday night at this link or via our Facebook page, and as for our videos, here's Pillory playing "The Passing", Inferi playing "Forged in the Phlegethon", Alterbeast playing "Throne of Maggots", and Rivers of Nihil playing "Monarchy"!
That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news, updates, and features this week! Thanks everyone!