Destroyer 666/Vital Remains/Baphomet’s Horns/Revocation @ Club Hell, Providence, RI, September 29, 2009

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By MetalGeorge Pacheco; Destroyer 666 photos by Jennifer Carman

To say that this evening of metal was highly anticipated ‘round these parts would be an understatement of epic proportions. From the day that this show was announced, I—and many other iron-clad souls—were practically salivating for this, Destroyer 666’s only New England appearance. The infamous Aussie death squad doesn’t make it to these shores all too often—barring the quartet’s recent, triumphant gig at Maryland’s Deathfest—so it was to be expected that this Tuesday evening event would be fairly packed, even for a work night.

Turns out my assumptions were proven correct, as the queue for Providence’s Club Hell venue—a killer place to see live music, Lemmy tell ya—was already fairly large a full half before doors were even scheduled to open…a clear sign of the debauchery to come. I, being of the parched persuasion, of course made a beeline straight for the bar area, but I noticed—over the first couple rounds—that the modestly sized venue was quickly filling up nicely as Boston’s death/thrash machine Revocation took the stage.

Standing triumphantly in the wake of their freshly released Relapse debut, Existence Is Futile, Revocation prowled the stage relentlessly for a three-piece, and guitarist/vocalist Dave Davidson, bassist/vocalist Anthony Buda and drummer Philip Dubois-Coyne seemed to psychically lock-step with each other, musically. Unfortunately, the trio faced some difficulties on the sound front, with Davidson’s rhythm work being all but lost in the mix, with only the man’s fret-shredding leads cutting their way through the dense static.

Technical difficulties aside, Revocation’s proved enjoyable simply based on the strength of the material. Existence Is Futile looks destined to score some primo slots on most critics’ year end lists, this scribe most definitely included among that lot. Next up were Connecticut black/war metal horde Baphomet’s Horns, whose name I’d seen in my travels, but hadn’t, as of yet, had the chance to check out. At this point, Club Hell’s sound problems were starting to sort themselves out (a bit too late to save Revocation, but c’est la vie), which made the quartet’s martial brand of black metal a bit easier to decipher.

Bringing with them a sonic attack similar to that of Canadian hordes Axis Of Advance and Revenge, the songwriting of Baphomet’s Horns sounded a bit simplistic to these ears, but more than poignant enough to bend the ears of style aficionados…that is, if originality isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. Still, I’ve heard worse; I’m just kind of over this Ray-Banned style of grim/true/real militarism. Or maybe I just feel that USBM is—more often than not—a hit or miss proposition.

Local heroes Vital Remains are no strangers to both “hitting” and “missing” when it comes to delivering the goods in the live performance. On this night, however, the Vital Remains collective offered up to Providence a fiery set of old school death metal; one which was welcomed rapturously by a supportive hometown crowd. What really leant this set some surprising validity was the strength of this live lineup. Even though Vital was down some core members, the band still managed to impress, which was a pleasant surprise.

Session vocalist Scott Wily particularly seemed to be gaining more confidence and comfort, after a hesitant initial start behind the microphone. Whether the fact that this was a hometown gig had anything to do with that is questionable, but Wily certainly seemed to have an approving crowd in the palm of his hand during both the performance and banter aspects of the gig.

While attempting to replicate six-stringer Dave Suzuki’s ripping leads might prove daunting for even the most accomplished death metal shredder, this Vital Remains live band did their best to do just that, and—more often than not—succeeded. Sure, their set seemed to drag a bit long after a while, but I’ll give them the hometown benefit of the doubt this time around, despite my admitted near-endless beef with the band’s penchant for writing material which is needlessly lengthy. On this night, Vital Remains lived up to their vintage reputation.

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Remember a few paragraphs ago, when I spoke of “debauchery?” Well, there are very few bands which can inspire relentless, reckless hedonism in the same way Destroyer 666 can; their very essence screams out the wild whirlwind in all of us. Owning the stage from first note to last, guitarist/vocalist KK Warslut and Co. pushed the rabid Providence crowd to the brink of the precipice and back, leaving no head un-banged, no fist un-pounded and no soul un-reaped by the maniacal, merciless onslaught.

The set list was a nice mix of new and old, with certifiable classics like “Australian and Anti-Christ” and “I Am The War God” sitting just fine next to newer killers like “Raped”, and “Black City-Black Fire”. Material from the band’s latest (and possibly greatest) LP Defiance also sounded great in the live setting, but it was the predictable set-closer of “The Eternal Glory Of War” which sent the frothing crowd into heavy metal overkill. Besieged by the band’s unstoppable force and raging violence, Club Hell’s sweaty, near-blissful microcosm of metalheads hit the proverbial roof with joy.

Imagine, then, the impossibly increased fervor which erupted when the band, blown away by the crowd’s diehard dedication, decided to return to the stage for an unplanned encore of “Satanic Speed Metal”. Total pandemonium? Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Destroyer 666 ruled all on this night, and methinks most black/death gigs for the foreseeable future will pale in comparison.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.