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  Black Witchery/Ares Kingdom/Scepter live at Café Lura, Chicago 7 February 2004
16 February 2004

Impurath of Black Witchery photo by Culggath Immortum Opinions are like assholes, and luckily, this show was full of both. "Quite unheadbangable," grumbled one guy during Black Witchery. "This is only the second riff they've played," laughed another during their last song. And these guys are both experts, believe me. But a band like Black Witchery uses chord progressions, not riffs, as currency. Nearly their entire set hung on a searing blastbeat backbone, and the result is a grinding black metal furiosity that far improves on the blueprints laid out by the likes of Blasphemy and Beherit over ten years ago. Whether you liked it for the whole 45 minutes (including one quickly-repaired train wreck) depends, I reckon, on whether you tried to headbang.
Ares Kingdom photo by Culggath Immortum
Thanks to the tested talents of guitarist Chuck Keller and a well-received demo/7" campaign, the crowd gave Ares Kingdom an eager and enthusiastic response right from the start. Heads banged and fists pumped, although I came away thinking that the band's more elaborate material would probably be best appreciated at home. The accomplishments of the guitarist and drummer, nevertheless, were obvious in real-time, and no one argued with the appropriateness or freshness of the Order From Chaos cuts.

Scepter gigs in any city are criminally few. The fact that they haven't played live in two years belies their command of the stage, their violence and force. Their new release, 2003's Fucking Metal Motherfuckers, was actually recorded in 2001 but held at an undisclosed location while Merciless Records dragged its feet on a release date. So tracks like "Do Unto Others as You Wanna Do Unto Them", "Slaveship", and "Metal Means Stupid" that were relatively new to the crowd had actually been under Scepter's (bullet) belts for quite a while. The result? Impossibly heavy and damn-near perfect renditions, one after another, the crowd hanging and banging on every massive chord. As inspired by Master and Celtic Frost as they are by 70s FM radio, each Scepter track is a precisely-judged hammer-blow to the head. The effort is in the craftsmanship and execution, both on record and on stage. While it's easy to appreciate what Scepter stands for (fucking metal, motherfucker), I'm even more impressed by their deliberate workrate and the restraint they show while dealing in such robust material.

At 2 a.m., I stood waiting for the bus, looking like a loser but feeling like a king, thanks to my roaring buzz, ringing ears, and great satisfaction. The bands, sound, and crowd all exceeded my expectations. This was a rare and special gig indeed, and there probably won't be one like it for quite some time.

Professor Black

9 bullets

photos by Culggath Immortum


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