Absu, Krieg, Ouroboros, Black Witchery, Noctuary and Infernal Oak
December 1, 2001
Sam’s Burger Joint
San Antonio, Texas
With underground metal lacking an official convention the yearly un- covering of filthy, degraded and intellectually unstable metal bands has to find whatever common ground it can, and this year in San Antonio’s “Sam’s Burger Joint New Music Compound” the hordes gathered with a lineup of epic proportions: Absu, Krieg, Ouroboros, Black Witchery, Noctuary and Infernal Oak among other local bands.
Infernal Oak played earliest and while much of their set became confused after a technical glitch became known, the performance was similar to their first celebrated appearance at the Atomic Cafe in Austin (thanks to Lord Ashteroth for that mini-festival). Covering in stocking caps they marched to the stage and performed dark, rock-n-rollish metal with a rhythmic surge to it like Celtic Frost meeting P-funk. The music needs some work and so does the stage show but in their nascent state both are intriguing enough to cause curiosity about future works from this band.
Noctuary kept their set compact despite its length, jamming songs back to back in order to fit them all in. Their metal while not visionary in concept or aesthetic is reasonable heavy metal in the Iron Maiden style, when the shrieking high black metal vocals and garnishments of extremity are removed. Drummer Rob Alaniz (formerly of Rise) gave a command performance of dexterity and precision, while both guitarists were impressive for middle experience players and are clearly proficient with mainstream styles.
Black Witchery was missed because the reviewer was elsewhere.
Krieg, with a volunteer tribe of luminaries from North American black metal bands to cover instrumental duties, was a revealing performance from Lord Imperial in which both the completely unleashed and irrational power of his screams and the design by which he accents tone in composition with his howls were exhibited. A handful of Krieg songs including the majestic crowd pleaser “Cold Wind Flame” were issued before a Von cover brought out the rage in audience and performers.
Ouroboros are a Canadian trio consisting of Sebazios Diabolus from Lust and two other musicians of his choice, all of whom were surprisingly competent considering how unsteadily they seemingly played. Their music was the most distinctive of the evening, using internal fills with abrupt self-conflicted breaks to balance phrases which used absurdist stalling and twitching motions to conclude. Often of a hidden melodic nature and sometimes random power chords thrown into pointless rhythmic filler, their music encoded all of its motion in texture and stopped as abruptly as it began, although each song seemed to have some unique form of harmonic shape.
Clearly what many were waiting expectantly, eagerly and even timidly for, the original Texas black metal band, Absu, entered the venue suddenly and went quickly to the stage for setup and performance. With a stoic new guitarist and their classic lineup in full form, the black metallers covered a brief sampling of their works from 1994 to the present before retiring after a brief encore. According to Proscriptor (drums) this was the band’s first concert in four and a half years, and follows his successful appearance at last year’s SOTNC with Judas Iscariot.
Absu is one of the most professional metal bands to be witnessed live. Proscriptor’s drumming and vocal performance is nearly unbelievable and guitarists are competent. The spooky bassist handled his parts well when manic depression did not overwhelm him. They are all excellent musicians who are weathering the storm of criticism, internal struggles and the usual constraints of musicianship and monetary need in conflict.
Infernal Oak are similar to hollenthon with less focus on keyboards and samples. There is not much else to say. They are nearly universally disliked among the black metal crowd for being more rock- n-roll and heavy metal in style than black metal, and this is a fair criticism. This band should stop trying to be underground and should market themselves to the same audience that enjoys Hollenthon, Girls Under Glass, later Pitchshifter, Ministry and Godflesh.
After the Absu event, an exhausted crowd fell back on the burgers, beers and soft chairs (and flirting with Dana Duffey of Demonic Christ) and since the hour had passed eleven many including this reviewer dissipated. While this was not the most polished or visible metal festival one could imagine, it was competent and accomplished its goals by bringing together bands in the scene without standardizing their concert appearances.
Sam’s Burger Joint