Words by Brian O’Neill | Photos by Tashina Byrd
There was a pool of blood on the floor in front of the stage. This wouldn’t be remarkable except the crimson splattered puddle was congealing while the local openers were staggering off the stage.
You read that right: The local openers.
The bartender, upon hearing the news, shrugged and tossed some towels on the bar before going back to slinging suds. The vehement nonchalance made West Philly basement hardcore shows seem safe in comparison, and none of the touring bands have even set up their gear yet!
Nobody ever did figure out whose blood that was.
DC’s No/Más did nothing to calm the gathered masses. The fearsome foursome proffers a particularly fetid flavor of grindcore that owes more to hardcore than metal. Every song was about a minute and a half in length, propelled by crusty D-Beats on metabolic steroids. Vocalist Roger’s hoarse yelps couldn’t really be heard above the guitars and cymbals that strained the PA (calling it a PA is extremely generous), but it scarcely mattered. The point was pretty clear even if the words weren’t.
Genocide Pact also hails from the nation’s capital, but all similarities end there. The band settled into a growling groove of chugging mid-paced death metal, chasing away the speed freaks (they were likely outside smoking) and allowing everyone else to catch their breath.
Calling the set an intermission is kind of insulting, though, and not really accurate. Last year’s Order of Torment seemed a competent romp through Incantation-inspired groovecore death metal, but onstage, the band’s Bolt Thrower inclinations come to the foreground. This created a dirgy grind that satisfyingly sticks to your ribs.
Noisem concluded the evening by combining the best of both worlds – and a few outer orbiting moons for good measure.
It’s been four years since Blossoming Decay came out. In that time the band was signed by Relapse, underwent massive lineup changes that turned the five-piece into a trio, and was subsequently dropped by Relapse with nary a note released. Rebounding with new vocalist/bassist Ben Anft and a new deal with 20 Buck Spin, Noisem celebrated the release of Cease to Exist from the intimate Philly stage.
Being a three-piece is a good look for the multifaceted Baltimore grind merchants. Even on older material, there was clarity between Harley Phillips’ thrash-bash style and his brother Sebastian’s strangled riffs. The simplicity made for a more powerful sound with Anft’s thunderous bass adding even more heft to the sound.
With the new material, much of it debuted for the Philly crowd; it proved to be worth all the tribulations and time. Perhaps the death metal inclinations are pushed to the foreground, but with a high octane mix that benefits from the stripped-down nature of the new material.
The fact that Noisem came back from the dead with an album called Cease to Exist is likely not a coincidence. The record release show proved that what didn’t kill the band made them infinitely stronger.