Absu in San Antonio
Absu are setting to embark on a string of East Coast dates that will include Europa on 11-11-11 (a BrooklynVegan/Order of The Serpent production). Tickets are still on sale. The "mythological occult metal" crew recently kicked things off in San Antonio on 10/22 at Bonds 007 Rock Bar. Adam Shragin's thoughts on the gig follows... - BBG
As far as Texas metal is concerned, Austin may have the venues and Dallas may have the pedigree (or Arlington by extension - R.I.P. Dimebag), but San Antonio has the devotion. The city is railroaded frequently by simps who think only Tejano and metal can get a foothold locally, and while that's not entirely true, it is a fantastic place to live if you're a fan of accordions and/or down-tuned guitars. The city's metal-ness is probably one of the reasons it was chosen by Absu for their one Texas date before they speed off to places as far flung as the Netherlands, Montreal, Brooklyn and Massachusetts for a selection of winter dates.
Though crystallized in 1990, Absu's self-described "mythological occult metal" has made a big impact lately with the release of this year's Abzu, their seventh studio album and the second release in a trilogy that will end with the undetermined birth of the final act, Apsu. For now, the energy surrounding Abzu's technical, thrashy strengths are enough to rally an entire mini-festival around, which is exactly what happened on this Saturday night. Eight dark acts banded together under the banner "The Blackest of Hate," with Absu installed as the headliners and guests of honor at SA's Bond's 007 Rock Bar.
Though the whole thing kicked off at 6pm, it was possible to show up later and still see a walloping cross-section of black metal and other sinisterly inclined sounds. Dallas' Ophian are a blackened trio with a guttural flair, and while the stage was weirdly bifurcated by a pillar (wtf?), we could at least watch bassist Forgotten One tear through fast-paced bass runs. The set ended with a "Hail Lucifer!" and the horns from the crowd went up for not the first or last time that night.
Muddiness and a knife-twist into clarity and cleanliness are part of the black metal experience, but any band playing live needs to be able to hear themselves, and the bands at Bond's all had to struggle with sub-par sound. The problem was made manifest with the six-piece, symphonic-leaning Torment Defined out of Dallas, a band that was clearly trying to find their comfort on stage. The overdose of guitars made it difficult to parse out what happening, and the keyboard - unfortunately reminiscent of the synthesizer sounds on Club Nouveau's "Why You Treat Me So Bad" - didn't help either.
Houston's dramatic and powerful Morbus 666 fared better, and lead man and bassist Grimlord (also of Bahimiron) was able to cull out everything in his vocals from a tortured shout to a curdled scream. The guitars alternately shrieked like birds of prey and then morphed into tough, chugging machines - this band has range. Colorado's Nightbringer were also a powerful, heavy-hitting beast, though their lack of a bottom end (three guitarists, no bass) seemed an odd choice. Regardless, the band were clearly synched up, and the mollifying screams and heavy tone enticed the biggest crowd of the evening so far.
Absu took to the stage at one in the morning, the smoke machines pouring over bar decorations including severed heads and an outstretched zombie - a paean to Halloween and metal that felt both appropriate and a tad silly. The band is led by the very busy Proscriptor McGovern, a musician who manages to put his peers to shame by matching his assault on the drums with screeched vocals. Dude has got to have some sort of Kenny G.-style breath control, and appeared to do the work of three players without so much as gasping for air. Newer additions to Absu Vis Crom (guitars) and Ezezu (bass and vocals) led the charge, and played rapturously well when they weren't distracted by the venue's shortcomings - "This sounds like fucking dog shit," was how Ezezu put it at one point, though the venue's obvious problems only got worse when his bass stopped coming through the speakers mid-song, only to reappear with all the finesse of a farty dubstep drop. Gamely, the band played on, though Absu's obvious unhappiness seemed to coat the rest of the performance. A dude picking a fight in the pit who had to be roped by the neck out of the bar by his shorter, wiser girlfriend also sucked out some of the remaining energy, and any compassion we felt for the beleaguered sound guys was obliterated when they came on the PA near the end of the set to tell us all to "clean up all of your shit" before the bar closed for good - Ezezu's expression at the interruption was nothing short of total pissed-off-ness. The rare pleasure of seeing Absu may have been obstructed in part by amateurish club antics and testosterone-ranging fools, but them's the black metal breaks, and Absu and guests managed to pummel regardless - though it may be some time before our favorite mythical occult metal step foot in that venue again.
More pictures from Bonds 007 Rock Bar and all tour dates are below.
Absu -- 2011 tour dates
11/10/2011 Strange Matter - Richmond, VA w/ Infernal Stronghold
11/11/2011 Club Europa - Brooklyn, NY w/ Infernal Stronghold
11/12/2011 Reverb - Reading, PA w/ Infernal Stronghold, In Ruins, Horde of the Eclipse, Cadaveric Spasm, Mortus, Polterchrist
11/13/2011 Wonderland Ballroom - Revere, MA w/ Infernal Stronghold
11/26/2011 Messe des Morts Festival - Montreal, QC
Australian Connexus Conjuration Tour: ABSU w/ Portal, Ruins
1/12/2012 The Globe - Brisbane
1/13/2012 Sandringham Hotel - Sydney @ Conjuration Fest
1/14/2012 The East Brunswick Club - Melbourne @ Conjuration Fest
1/15/2012 The Brisbane Hotel - Hobart