Live: Disfear's Ungodly Gallop
Oh my God the Chevy a monster
The sound that comes out of Tomas Lindberg's throat is only barely recognizable as human; it's incensed-demon shit, an asphalt roar that immolates everything around it. In person, though, Lindberg is almost hilariously human. Onstage at the Knitting Factory Wednesday night, he's a total ham: grinning huge, making willfully ridiculous rock-dude faces, blowing kisses after every song. Offstage, he happily mans the merch table all night while the rest of his band is nowhere to be found. Thanks to his time in Swedish melody monsters At the Gates, Lindberg is a death-metal legend, and he's not the only one in Disfear; former Entombed guitarist Uffe Cederlund joined up last year. But the crowd at the Knit isn't death-metal; it's grown-ass crust-punk, 29-year-olds who still rock the same dreadlocks and buttflaps they wore as teenagers and who still do the thing where you link arms and spin around in the pit. And Disfear don't play metal; they're a scuzzed-up D-beat hardcore band, and they've been around for forever. Lindberg replaced the band's original singer ten years ago, and he's plainly having the time of his life with this band. The crowd, when they're not opening up the biggest pit I've ever seen on the tiny Knitting Factory floor, are pointing at the ceiling and screaming Lindberg's lyrics back at him. Sometimes they're onstage. Sometimes Lindberg is on his knees shoving the microphone in people's faces. During the second song, a girl standing near me gets kicked out for swigging from a full-sized bottle of Wild Turkey that she'd snuck in. Shows like this are good for your soul.
Disfear's Live the Storm is already one of my favorite albums of 2008, a ragingly joyous tantrum-rock pastiche that marries Lindberg's hellish scream to VFW-Hall gang-chants and scummy Motorhead biker-rock riffs and the persistent D-beat stutter-thump drum-pattern. At the Knitting Factory, the drums basically never vary from that locked-in rush. In person, Disfear's songs sound as full-bore catchy as they do on record, and the choruses make my heart sing. The show came with basically no frills; there's not a whole lot of room for showmanship on the Knitting Factory stage or in this general realm of hardcore. Disfear basically has one song, and they play it over and over again. This is fine. Sometimes formula works. The rest of the band keep their heads down and hammer out the songs, Lindberg goofily roars away, and the crusties on the floor go absolutely ripshit. I don't think I stop smiling until I'm halfway home.
Boston sludge-metal power-trio Bloodhorse start off their set with a gut-stomping distorto-bass riff, the guitarist and drummer slowly adding accents to it until all three lock into a crushing, monolithic groove; I decided I liked them before they sang a note. When the vocals do kick in, they come from the bassist whose instrument is nearly half his size, and they're mostly a thuggish grunt, infrequently deployed. Doesn't matter. When you get into titanic Melvins territory the way this band does, vocals are essentially irrelevant. Way more important is the giant gong that sits behind the drummer even though there's hardly room for it onstage. At climactic moments, he dependably raises a giant mallet and lets it fall automatically, causing the reverberating crash that used to announce the villain's arrival in badly-dubbed kung-fu movies. I cackled with delight every time I heard it. Bloodhorse's songs are slow and heavy and pulverizing, and the soundman cuts them off when they announce they've got one more left to go.
One of the guitarists for the Brooklyn quintet Atakke keeps a Nausea sticker on his guitar, and he wears a worn-out Bolt Thrower shirt with the sleeves ripped off, which pretty neatly encapsulates his band's position, somewhere between thrash-revival bombast and crust-punk grime. They're all pretty young, they all have long hair, and they all bang their heads at the same time. They also boast, surprisingly, a female lead singer (not too many of them in thrash or crust), and her voice never quite varies from broken-trash-compactor screech. Except during the pretty great stomp-riff breakdowns, they play so fast that they only things audible on the Knit's crappy sound system are drums and vocals, which doesn't stop either guitarist from soloing constantly throughout. Like every other band on this bill, they're a lot of fun.