Saint Vitus, an up-and-coming rock- and metal-centric bar in Brooklyn, just celebrated its one-year anniversary with a string of fantastic metal and hardcore shows. Closing up the week-long celebrations were a pair of performances by black metal legends Inquisition, the best two-man black metal act operating today. I had neglected to visit Saint Vitus before for some dumb reason or another, but seeing Inquisition again was an absolute necessity. Catching their headlining set on the Saturday of Maryland Deathfest 2011 was easily one of the most energetic live performances I had ever borne witness to, especially going in with absolutely zero knowledge of the group or expectations as to how they’d perform. Granted, it’s easy to be blown away when you don’t have any expectations to begin with, but anyone who’s seen them live before is already familiar with the astounding amount of energy, ferocity, and talent that they bring to the table. This was not an occasion to miss.
Kicking off the festivities were local black-crusters Villains, whom I had caught twice before – earlier in the week supporting Chicago speed-thrashers Superchrist, and earlier in the month opening for the incomparable Midnight. Their dirty and scuzzy interpretation of thrash-infused black metal did wonders for getting the crowd amped. Much like The Cult Is Alive-era Darkthrone‘s crusty take on a black-thrash sound, they don’t really seem to give a shit about what’s “trve,” as long as it rocks face – and judging from the crowd’s reception, most everyone else was in agreement. I mean, how can you not rock out to songs with titles like “Land Hag,” “Crazy for Blowjobs,” or the perennial classic “Never Abandon The Slut Train?” It’s physically impossible. I neglected to catch Castevet‘s set, since linking up with old friends in town from parts unknown at the bar was more of an immediate priority, but after listening to their LP I’m pretty regretful about missing them. Like many black metal bands local to the New York City area, they aren’t content with operating under the genre’s original blueprint. They play a fusion of black metal and post-hardcore that works surprisingly well – think classic Darkthrone meets Fugazi. If a more emotional Krallice, a more mathy Deafheaven, or a less intolerably pretentious Liturgy sound good to you, you should definitely give their album Mounds of Ash a good listen.
While I was sitting at the bar and pounding down my fifth two-dollar beer of the night, I was talking with a new acquaintance who didn’t identify herself as a metal fan at all. She mostly listened to jam bands, she said, but Inquisition was a special case – she caught them live at a bar once, and was instantly enamored by their face-painted aesthetic, their catchy riffs, their command over the crowd, and their impossibly huge sound for such a minimalist lineup. It seems that everyone who experiences them for the first time – no matter their musical background – instantly becomes a fan, and by that metric there must have been a sizable inflation in the Inquisition Fan Club’s numbers that night. The band was in top form, hammering out early classics like “Those Of The Night” and “Nefarious Dismal Orations” along with paeans like “Cosmic Invocation Rites” and the magnificent doom-tinged “Desolate Funeral Chant” from their most recent album, Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm. The raw and traditional black metal they played, in the mold of paragons like Mayhem and Immortal, was a welcome performance after the rest of the night’s deviances from black metal orthodoxy – as much as modern USBM bands have distanced themselves from the genre’s beginnings, it’s always important to remember where you came from.
Soooo yeah, it was a good show! Every band I saw was in top form, the crowd reception was phenomenal (and I’ve got the bruises to prove it), and the venue was the perfect place to host such an unholy gathering. Inquisition tours pretty frequently, so it’s pretty easy to catch a show of theirs no matter where in the world you live. And if you’re not a fan of them, go catch a performance of theirs. You will be.