Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review - Waffenruhe - Stuka

Good evening everyone!

I have a new review that has been published at Heathen Harvest. The German band Waffenruhe just recently released a 3 track digital EP for download for free. Check out the review at Heathen Harvest, I'd be appreciative!

Da unten sind sie backbord unter uns... Stukas!
Los geht's, wir greifen an!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Concert Report: Rome, Worm Ouroboros, Daemonia Nymphe - Los Angeles 2015

On Friday April 10th Rome kicked off their California Campaign 2015 tour, with San Francisco-based Worm Ouroboros and Greek project Daemonia Nymphe as the opening acts. What follows is a document of this performance: my own record, thoughts and musings of the event complimented with photography by my girlfriend Michele Brittany.

I had the opportunity to see Rome perform on their first California Campaign back in 2012. This was their first performance here in the states, and it happened to be in the basement under a Yoga studio in Riverside, California. The heat was unbearable and we all sat on the floor between box fans that tried unsuccessfully to keep things cool. It was a surreal, but also intimate setting, as all the bands including Jerome and Rome would mingle. The experience did feel quite punkish, perhaps a D.I.Y. style.

Thus is it was imperative to see Rome on this tour performing at an actual venue, with a sound system and normal concert comforts and accommodations. The location was The Complex in Glendale, a city between Los Angeles and Pasadena. The building looked completely innocuous: a plain building with no signs or windows, right next to a framing business. If it wasn’t for a gaggle of metal fans waiting outside the door and Google Maps insisting the address was correct, we would’ve passed right by.

Outside The Complex, Glendale CA.

We took our place in queue and began the very important task that everyone does waiting in line: people watch and eavesdrop! Not many military or uniformed looking folks, most patrons in line and later inside looked to be legit-goths (not the Hot Topic variety), and metal fans wearing vests covered in patches. Standing in line and eavesdropping allows one to take in the musings of other attendees. According to the folks around us, apparently Death in June is the worst band ever and their concerts attract bears, and there has been no good horror films in over 20 years.

Though the doors were supposed to open at 9:00 pm, they actually opened at 9:30 pm. While the majority of the folks in queue ahead of us went to the bar, I shot straight to the merch booth to procure as much unique swag and CDs as possible, just in case they were in danger of selling out.

CDs, patches, vinyl and other goodies form all three acts for sale. 

Merrick Testerman, the voice and brains behind the influential (but sadly now concluded) Aural Apocalypse podcast was manning the booth solo, keeping up with the outstretched hands of cash wanting Rome hoodies and T-shirts. She was also the powerhouse behind coordinating Rome’s west coast tour as well, and she was front and center to ensure this performance went smoothly.

Since Worm Ouroboros and Daemonia Nymphe had not performed yet, they were not in the merch stall to handle transactions, so folks would have to wait until after their sets to buy their merchandise. In the meantime, I purchased a Rome patch, 2 Rome buttons, a T-shirt, a sticker, and the unlimited edition of A Passage to Rhodesia.

Setting the stage.

The venue was on the small, intimate side of the spectrum. Looking at the website for The Complex, it looks like it caters mostly to small bands and karaoke nights. The bar was easily half the space, with the other half being standing room for the stage and merch table.  The stage was already setup with chairs, speakers, many effect pedals, drum sets, and mic stands with white yuletide lights curling up them. The lights were purely for atmosphere during Worm Ouroboros’ set, however the equipment would actually wind up being used by Rome, who during one of their encores thanked Worm Ouroboros for the use of their instruments. It was a fine example of camaraderie between bands in the underground scene.

Lorraine Rath on bass

Worm Ouroboros took the stage at 10:00 pm, with Lorraine Rath stage right, Jessica Way stage left, and Aesop Dekker on drums in the back. The lightning of the venue was so dark, and the drums setup so far back that Dekkar almost became an invisible drummer.

Jessica Way

Rath and Way stood as two confident but introspective looking front ladies, eyes closed - deep in thought and mood. In contrast, Dekkar in the back was wailing on the drums, his hair a flutter and a huge intense grin on his face.

He was a wild man!

Aside from a few Youtube videos, I had not heard Worm Ouroboros before, so their performance was entirely new to me. This put me at the disadvantage because I would not be able to identify any of their songs (when I would later go and purchase a CD, Way would say the majority of the songs they played were from their Come the Thaw album). The best way I could describe their music is a shoegaze-folk version of The Minibosses doing their cover to the theme of Metroid. If this sounds negative, it’s absolutely not: the Minibosses are amazing and the music from the Metroid games are some of the best from video game music canon.

Rath also did the art and design for Come the Thaw

The introspective look, the walls of reverb guitar work, the illumination from the Yuletide lights and occasional sups of red wines the ladies would partake in all gave the performance quite the ambiance. Between songs they would adjust their instruments and effect pedals, and engage in a little light banter with the audience, but mostly remained reserved and soft-spoken.

Playing with passion

Worm Ouroboros put on a good show and I was impressed. I approach the duo at the merch booth after their set to congratulate their performance, express my appreciation for them coming down to the LA area and to purchase a copy of their Come the Thaw album. They had a vinyl version that looked simply beautiful, but alas I went with the CD format instead. Both Rath and Way courteously autographed the cover to my copy.

Evi from Daemonia Nymphe

Daemonia Nymphe took the stage at 11:00 pm. Michele and I had been extremely excited to watch this act perform after being wowed by their Youtube videos. Usually Daemonia Nymphe performs with a much larger crew, but as Spyros and Evi took the stage, Evi cheerfully expressed the uniqueness of their performance for the evening: it was their first performance in the states, first time in LA, first time performing as an acoustic duo, and the first time performing without their masks. This was going to be a rare treat for us indeed! Joining the duo was performance artist Denise, who was wearing a mask, and would be dancing and miming to the music.

Denise provided a theatrical element to the performance

Music-wise, Daemonia Nymphe nailed it, but they had so many factors working against them. The small stage simply was not enough room for all three of them. Denise negotiated around the microphone stands and chairs proficiently with her many routines, but I have a feeling with more space, she would have had more artistic freedom. Spyros had to contend with a mic stand that refused to stay steady and kept becoming loose and rotating away.

Spyros gets the microphone to obey (for now)

I felt sorry for the band when they put down their instruments and Evi informed the crowd they were going to recreate the sound of the forest. Evi would hum into her mic, Spyros on a wind instrument, and Denise blowing powder into the air. Conceptually, it looked nice, but the forest mood was not achieved, for their efforts were drowned out by the mummer and chatter of folks in the bar drinking and in the rear of the stage area chatting. Had this been in a normal theatre (with folks giving them both silence and attention), the effect would have been amazing, so I feel bad that the band was given the respect during this performance as they deserved. Daemonia Nymphe concluded their set with Spyros on bagpipes, which was a delight to hear.

Recreating The Forest

After their set, I approached Evi in the merch book and bought a copy of their Psychostasia album. Her proud face was beaming ear to ear and she said hello and wrote a Greek passage and autograph in the digipack, wishing me a happy and joyous life.

Evi was very courteous

The magic of Daemonia Nymphe

Rome took the stage at midnight. I didn’t think the stage area could get more full with patrons, but I was wrong. It was packed, shoulder to shoulder. Returning from the merch table to my spot in the front, I would politely say excuse me and pardon me. However, one person, whom I suspect may have been tipsy, was unable to keep his footing and fell onto another girl. I apologized profusely, and smiles and fist bumps were had by all.

Rome during their acoustic set

The configuration of Rome for this performance against their Riverside performance was radically different. Borrowing Worm Ouroboros’ instruments meant the upright bass I was privy to last time was missing. Patrick, who had played percussion in Riverside, was now on bass guitar. Tom the keyboardist was standing at his keyboard, rather than sitting with the keys on his lap, and ergo may have been more comfortable. Since Patrick was not on percussion, a new person was using the drum kit whose name eludes me.

Keeping the rhythm

Cheers, jeers, and shouting erupted as the band took the stage. The first half of Rome’s would be on electric instruments, with them opening with “The Accidents of Gesture” followed by “Der Brandtaucher”. The versions of these songs were definitely more rock oriented and sounded great, even when compared to studio versions. After a few songs, Jerome put away the electric guitar and brought out the acoustic to begin a new set. This acoustic set started with a brand new song, projected to be on the next album followed by a nice acoustic version of “Neue Erinnerung”. In fact, Rome would actually debut a second world premiere song in one of the ad hoc encores the band performed.

Patrick was also a crowd favourite

Sadly, nary a pair of knickers were toss on the stage

Jerome engaged in banter with the audience, with women yelling out “I love you”, to which he would reply back in kind. Between encores ladies would turn into hysteric cats, pawing at each other to steal the paper set lists. This ended amusingly when Rome returned for an encore, looked around for their set list, with Jerome asking who stole it. They had to hide their lists after that. Rome concluded their final set with the classic “Swords to Rust – Hearts to Dust”, with the show coming to an end around the 1:30 am mark.

At this point, Michele and I were exhausted and began our hour-long trek back home to Orange, with a quick stop to grab some soda lest we accidentally fall asleep while driving.  All three bands had performed well and were impressive, with both Worm Ouroboros and Daemonia Nymphe making me a convert to their music and Rome solidifying my adoration for them.

Official Links

Worm Ouroboros

Daemonia Nymphe


Aural Apocalypse

Michele Brittany

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Review - Legionarii - Europa Rex

Good evening everyone!

I have been attending Wondercon these past three days. It has been a blast, it's great to be attending the comic book conventions - supporting great writers, artists, cosplayers and small press folks. But on your feet for 3 days, your feet get pooped and your wallet drains.

Over the weekend, a new review got published at Heathen Harvest: Europa Rex by the martial industrial group Legionarii. You can read the review here:

So far, this album has been one of the most dissapointing release I've had to review at Heathen Harvest, it seems to have generated quite a stir. I think that's great! I hope yall enjoy it.