words by Kim Kelly, intro by BBG, photos by Christopher Mumma & BBG
SXSW was a blast, but days before that the Scion Rock Fest shook the college town of Columbus, Ohio (March 13th) with it's mix of metal gods of the past (DRI, Cannibal Corpse, Voivod, Shrinebuilder, etc) and killers of today (Ludicra, Landmine Marathon, Yob, Thou, etc). The one-day fest was spread throughout four of the town's venue, meaning any one person could only see a limited amount of the full lineup. Luckily I went to Columbus with my own camera, two other photographers (Jessie Barber and Christopher Mumma), and crossed paths with writer Kim Kelly along the way. If there is a metal show worth a damn within hundreds (thousands?) of miles from Kim, she'll be there. Her version of the story along with half of the pictures from the day (the rest HERE), below...
Never Blow Out the Midwestern Candle
by Kim Kelly
After driving roughly six hundred years (okay, like ten hours, but still) and taking a detour to buy dirt-cheap diluted liquor at a quintessentially "Middle American" Walmart (we're talking mullets and camouflage at 11:30pm) my two travel companions and I arrived at the Hyatt Regency in "scenic" Columbus, Ohio. I'm a jill-of-some-trades with a black metal problem, Doug Moore scribbles for Metal Review, and Matt Moore plays in a million bands (Absu, Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, Woe) and was due to darken Scion's stage the next day as Vis Crom, so it's safe to say that if we'd encountered any vehicular mishaps along the way, there would have been a hell of a lot of angry Absu fans lined up to greet us. After depositing our various alcoholic accouterments in the room, we met up with the rest of the Absu crew and assorted members of Brutal Truth, Lightning Swords of Death, and Saviours for some well-deserved liver abuse.
Lightning Swords of Death at Bernie's
Absu were due to sound check at 2pm on Saturday, so we all piled into one of Scion's nifty band shuttles and headed off to Bernie's, where I ended up spending most of my day. Matt, Paul and I made it back from a falafel run just in time to catch LA black metal cult Lightning Swords of Death, who, as usual, were a fucking revelation. Low-down and dirty grooves slunk through the blackened stormblast that the Californian quartet unleashed, recalling the war metallic fury or Revenge as well as the Finnish filth of Horna, and some unnameable quality all their own. They played a couple tracks off their upcoming Metal Blade debut, The Extra Dimensional Wound, which is due to drop within the next few months, and from the sound of it, is going to SLAY.
Liturgy at Bernies
I ducked out as soon as Liturgy went onstage and hauled ass with BBG to the Circus venue to try and catch Baton Rouge sludge fiends Thou. If it hadn't been for a well-timed shuttle filled with Hate Eternal dudes, we'd have never made it, illustrating the fatal flaw in this year's design - the venues were just too damn far apart for easy access, despite the cadre of shuttles Scion kept running to and fro. We fought our way to the front just in time to catch Bryan Funck's first blood-curdling shriek. Though time constraints and airline fuckuppery limited the crushing quintet to a mere three songs, you bet your last swig of dixie whiskey that they were three of the heaviest, nastiest, loudest motherfucking songs that Columbus had ever seen.
After doling out a quick round of bear hugs to buds (and soon to be tourmates) Salome, dudes from Landmine Marathon, Brutal Truth, MetalSucks and a supremely chilled-out Rich Hoak (of Brutal Truth/Total Fucking Destruction), I high-tailed it back to Bernie's in a van full of Saviours and weed smoke and came crashing through the itty-bitty doors just in time to catch the last half of Brooklyn black metal bruisers Black Anvil (how's that for alliteration?). A devastating cover of "Dethroned Emperor" closed their brutally satisfying set, and made way for the band I'd personally based my entire trip around seeing - Ludicra.
Laurie of Ludicra. Such a crooner
I'd caught their sound check earlier, but seeing that compared to watching Ludicra live in full force is like comparing a gentle summer breeze to a roaring gale force wind. Laura Sue Shanaman and guitarist Christy Cathers are hands down one of the most entrancing vocal duos I've ever seen, trading off grating shrieks, floorboard-shaking lows, and Shanaman's airy, ethereal singing in perfectly harmony. They wove through several songs off their incredible new album, The Tenant, as well as a few older jams, as the crowd crept up as close as they could, like expectant children at storytime. Their performance was mesmerizing, frighteningly intense, and everything one could have hoped for. They're gearing up for another US tour soon - if they come within 100 miles of your town and you don't go, you're doing yourself a massive disservice (Catch them at Europa in NYC on 4/18).
"You guys can start anytime," boomed the sound guy's voice over Absu's intro music, lending a moment of unexpected humor to an otherwise deadly serious event. Fresh off a triumphant European tour and clearly still thirsty for blood, the newly minted core of the long-running Texan occult metal band went straight for the throat with "Swords and Leather." Driven by Proscriptor's devilishly technical prowess behind the kit and earth-shattering vocals, held tightly in check by the twin axe attack of Aethyris and Vis Crom and held down towards hell by Ezezu's low-end rumbles, classic cuts like "Highland Tyrant's Attack" and "Never Blow Out the Eastern Candle" as well as newer material ("13 Globes," "Nightfire Canonization") off their stellar self-titled 2009 release have never sounded so good. Even stifled by the cramped basement venue and held face-to-face with screaming fans, Absu sounded fucking magical, and provided a fitting finale for one hell of a day. Cheers, Scion Fest; you've done it again.
I spent a good bit of time at Bernie's as well, also taking in sets by D.R.I., Landmine Marathon (check them here), and Brutal Truth in addition to the band that I went all the way to Columbus for... YOB! Pictures continued below...
Lullabye Arkestra (by BBG)
Liturgy (by BBG)
Lightning Swords of Death (by BBG)
D.R.I. (by BBG)
Thou (by Christopher Mumma)
Thou (by BBG)
Black Anvil (by BBG)
Ludicra (by BBG)
Yob (by BBG)
Yob (by Christopher Mumma)
Brutal Truth (by BBG)