MUSIC: The ‘Blackest of the Black’ tour smokes The Joint

    “This next song is about Say-tun!” rasped the shaggy, Captain Caveman-lookin’ dude in the sleeveless death metal T-shirt in between swigs of Budweiser, sounding kind of like a lawnmower running over a tin can. 
    And by “next song” he pretty much meant “every song.”
    Ohio thrashers Skeletonwitch christened the latest installment of the “Blackest of the Black” tour Tuesday at The Joint at the Hard Rock, opening the semiannual assemblage of dark metal bands that comes on like a solar eclipse.
    They kicked off the sweaty festivities in style, long manes whipping through the air as they churned out gruff, old school metal peppered with dueling melodic leads, thundering double-bass drumming and snarling vox that register like battery acid poured into your auditory canal.
    It was some righteously sinister stuff on an evening dedicated to heretical kicks. 
    With the exception of a so-so set from deathcore new jacks Winds of Plague – who attempt to distinguish themselves within that increasingly crowded subgenre with lilting guitar interludes and haunting keyboard passages, but still suffer a bit too much from heavy metal homogeneity – the show was quickly paced and largely fat-free.
    Norwegian black metal brutes Dimmu Borgir reveled in more antisocial behavior than your average prison cellblock.  
    “I am hatred, darkness and despair,” Dimmu frontman Shagrath cackled on the sweeping “The Serpentine Offering,” an equally malevolent and majestic tune that begins with regal horns before storming into an icy blast of gut-churning riffs and hooky blasphemy.  
    Flanked by video screens that displayed footage of blood spattered fiends, inverted crosses and topless chicks in chains, their stage covered in pentagrams with a backdrop of an evil looking goat lord with boobies, this bunch draped themselves in campy, over-the-top evil like some entrails-splattered George Romero flick come to life.   
    The band tempers all the relentless velocity and stentorian gargoyle speak with soaring, melodic vocals and they can actually play their instruments, which means they are roundly despised in the “kult” black metal underground.
    But to borrow a line from their fellow horror-obsessed deviants in The Accused, the band is still more fun than an open casket funeral.      
    And then there was Danzig, the man (Glen) and the band that bears his surname that’s responsible for the tour.
    Celebrating 20 years since the release of his first solo project, the beefy blues metal belter played tunes from each of his band’s eight albums – save for their much-maligned fifth disc “Blackacidevil” – in chronological order after a show-opening “Skincarver.”
    The mix always seem to be an issue at Danzig gigs – the vocals are startlingly loud and the guitars can sometimes lack bite, which is seldom the case on the band’s records – but Danzig is still impressively strong of voice, channeling Jim Morrison by way of the American punk underground. 
    Seeing as how Danzig’s most seminal albums are the band’s first three, the show was frontloaded with some of their most signature tunes – a frothing “Am I Demon” and “Twist of Cain;” the muscular groove of “Devil’s Plaything;” the slow-building dirge du jour “How The Gods Kill.”
    Later day cuts like “Lilin” and “Unspeakable” didn’t always hit as hard, but Danzig still punched the air and thrust his hips with hurricane force all the same, practically bursting out of his tight black shirt, backed by an ace band that included Prong singer/guitarist Tommy Victor (long one of the more underrated riffers in all of metal), Type O Negative drummer Johnny Kelley and former Samhain drummer/bassist Steve Zing.
    And to think, Glen Danzig is now 53 years old.
    Jeez, even ol’ Beelzebub had retired to Boca Raton by that age.                

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