Goatwhore at Fitzgeralds, 9/15/2014
Photos by Nathan Smith
Goatwhore, Venomous Maximus, Demoniacal Genuflection, Legion Fitzgerald's September 15, 2014
Of all the days of the week, none are less metal than Mondays. The domain of alarm clocks and rent payments, Monday must necessarily be the sworn enemy of middle fingers and Jager shots. Nobody applies KISS makeup on a Monday. No one has ever gotten a skull tattoo on a Monday. If you're listening to heavy metal on a Monday, it's only because you listen to heavy metal every day.
It was these everyday-metal types who showed up to Fitzgerald's on Monday night, with not a part-timer in sight. The black-clad die-hards came to see Goatwhore, the long-running New Orleans headbangers who draw upon the entire, vast universe of metal to arrive at a sound forged in the rank heat of the Gulf Coast. But they were also treated to a fairly stacked bill of local talent on a night when, by all rights, they should have been at home in bed. And they weren't about to just stand around and clap politely.
Fittingly, perhaps, there was already a pretty powerful stench emanating from Fitz's men's room when Legion took the stage first. One of my absolute favorite local groups, Legion plays classic thrash with a few modern death-metal trappings thrown into the mix. As usual, their wrists were snapping like rubber bands as they chugged out gnarly, precise riffs and harmonies. It was my first time seeing the group with new lead guitarist Vinay Joseph, who showed off some terrific melodic soloing and heavy-metal enthusiasm.
By the time they made it through the whipping set-closer, "Imitations of Life," it was clear from the crowd's response that Legion's young metal attack continues to win them new fans wherever they play. Catch them soon and count yourself among us.
I had never seen the next band -- Demoniacal Genuflection -- before, but right away I noticed that they looked familiar. Especially Dobber Beverly, the outrageously fast and fluid drummer who wears large headphones onstage to keep all of the 32nd notes from spilling out of his brain through his ears. As near as I could tell, the group is identical in personnel to Oceans of Slumber, the local prog-metal wizards and HPMA nominees. The only difference is that Demoniacal Genuflection is far heavier and much, much more evil.
As with Oceans, DG was at their most eye-popping when Beverly was unleashed, blast-beating the holy Jesus out of his handsome kit and cascading into endless fills and rolls. Guitarists Sean Gary and Anthony Contreras certainly delivered their fair share of notes, too, but sounded best to my ears on their many harmonized sludge passages.
I may have missed the boat initially with these Demoniacal boys, but I can say with certainty that I'll get up to speed quickly. They were wicked.
The familiar faces from Venomous Maximus appeared next, practically a prerequisite for a big metal show at Fitz. The band's majestically wasted guitars moaned and throbbed through a set well-stocked with songs old and new, from "Path of Doom" to "Angel Heart." Venomous must be inching pretty close to a new album release at this point, but as they uncorked Gibson-powered throwback after throwback, it was clear that the future is not of primary concern to these guys.
"This one goes out to all the old-school rockers," front man Gregg Higgins dedicated one number. "I'm not talking about you -- I'm talking about your parents!"
Story continues on the next page.
If Venomous Maximus' doomed riffage produced a sound your parents could appreciate (or at least understand), Goatwhore's blackened shredding remains expressly designed to piss them off. A charge went through the crowd as the lights came down for the NOLA outfit, with the city's most dedicated metalheads revving up for the main event.
A Texas boy greeted them from stage left. Turns out War Master bassist Trans Am was filling in with Goatwhore while their low-end man celebrated the birth of a child. T.A. tried not to look too excited up there as he received a great many hearty high-fives and fist-bumps from fans and friends in the front row.
There was an awful physicality to the volume once Goatwhore finally cranked up. Axe-slinger Sammy Duet proved right away that one guitar is perhaps more than enough for extreme metal by bringing along four gigantic speaker cabinets, pumping out enough sound waves to ripple your cheeks.
As vocalist Ben Falgoust let the phlegm fly, a vicious pit broke free at last, scattering the timid to the battered pillars and posts of Fitz. Ecstatic metal dudes had plenty of room to pick up speed as they careened off one another. Never ones to be fucked with, a few of the metallic maidens in the crowd insisted on getting in on the moshing, as well, absolutely undeterred by the sweaty, hairy maniacs barreling towards them from all angles.
I'm not sure exactly which metal subgenre Goatwhore is supposed to fit into, and I don't care. Duet is a master of vicious thrash riffage, and Falgoust's elastic voice emulated an entire hell's worth of demons on older chestnuts such as "Nocturnal Holocaust." All that mattered on Monday night was that it was brutally heavy, and extremely loud. The crowd was getting off on it hard, headbanging as one.
Falgoust proved to be a great front man, brandishing his studded leather gauntlets and busting out some theatrical "metal" poses that were pretty fucking epic. No one up front who wanted a high-five was denied as the room came together solidly in their love for the satanic.
It was already Tuesday by the time Goatwhore shut the place down, but nobody started streaming for the exits. Metalheads hung around, chatting, drinking and smoking, reveling in the horrific afterglow. Monday had been vanquished at last, with a lot of help from some very large Randall amplifiers. Hell if that ain't reason enough to celebrate.
Personal Bias: Metal concert on a Monday night? Why yes, I was there.
The Crowd: Local scenesters and true believers.
Overheard in the Crowd: "That's the best fuckin' bass ever, dude."
Random Notebook Dump: If you can sleep fitfully with your ears ringing like fire alarms, you have earned the right to call yourself a metalhead.
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