Happy Monday, everyone. Sorry about leaving you guys high and dry for articles the last few days, this show was actually the cause of that. Y'see, it was on a Thursday night, and the following weekend was the more or less mandatory recovery period for a really good show, so here we are. This review isn't going to be as long as it should be, because as per usual I ended up missing a couple of the bands, but I'll do my darndest. There's still plenty to talk about though, so let's get this underway.
After a little bit of parking confusion (yeah, Trenton sucks for parking, by the by), we got to the Championship Bar and Grille just in time to catch the first band, Centralia, wrapping up their sound check. I'll be honest, I had my doubts about this band at first, because they're old school, traditional black metal (basically Burzum wannabes), and the fact that their corpse paint was done with permanent markers didn't help either, but they actually turned out to be pretty fun. They were well aware that they were the first band of the night playing a tiny venue in the middle of the ghetto, so they didn't take themselves too seriously and just had fun with it, which made it more fun for everyone else. Many laughs were had, from the Sharpie corpse paint, to the frontman throwing his guitar and kicking over a bunch of drums at the end of their set, to all the between-song joking (my personal favorite was "This next song is called 'Satan's Dick Cheese'"), and they got to open up for a bunch of other rad bands, so in the end they still get bragging rights. Oh yeah, and I don't know how much this counts for but their bassist is a girl, so that's cool too.
After the scattered gear was cleared off the stage, Hadean Reign was up next. I'd heard a couple songs from these guys online and they were pretty cool, so needless to say I was quite interested to see them live. Unfortunately, their set ended up being pretty much the lowest point of the whole night, but not because of their music. They played just fine, but what I didn't realize was that while they do have cool riffs and solos, Hadean Reign also has a tendency to play breakdowns (and an occasional slam, but that's okay), and a few dancers showed up to do what they do best: make everyone else uncomfortable. When there weren't breakdowns the music was actually really heavy, but inevitably a breakdown would start and the same two kids would start cartwheeling and spin kicking, eventually running into both me and Mr. Mosh Rebellion himself. At first things seemed a bit tense because the one dancer got pushed away violently and eye contact was made, but the next time it happened I was the one who got kicked, and that's when the kid apologized and put up the white flag, showing that he was one of the few cool dancers who didn't want to hurt anyone. Maybe my pacifist stoner nature rubs off on others, who knows? After that the rest of the set went without a hitch; no fights broke out, the dancers started minding their surroundings more, and everyone was happy. Despite the breakdowns Hadean Reign still played some crazy shit, they're definitely worth checking out.
Next up was the band that I seem to be unable to shut up about lately, I Am the Trireme. The last time I saw these guys they totally killed it, so I had high hopes for them this time around. They didn't get quite as strong of a reception this time, but they still played great, and like last time they got the first real pits of the night going, even if it was only briefly. The highlight of their performance, at least in my opinion, was immediately after they played "I Am Many", when vocalist Jay Briscoe apologized to the audience for the obscene amounts of breakdowns in that song. I'm pretty sure a few kids actually got offended by this and walked out, but the rest of us laughed, cheered and applauded enthusiastically. If you want a taste of I Am the Trireme's stellar live performance, check out the video of them performing "Beyond the Waking World" and "I Am Many" here. Seriously, watch this video and tell me these guys don't have the potential to be the next Dimmu Borgir. Sadly the video cuts out just before Jay's apology to the crowd, but you still get to hear those two badass songs ("I Am Many" starts at 2:38).
After IATT wrapped up, it was time for the big bands to take the stage, and first up was Lecherous Nocturne, by far the heaviest band on the bill. From the second they started playing, it was nothing short of pure annihilation. They ripped though songs like "Just War Theory", "The Divine Wind" and "We Are As Dust" with ease, wowing us all with their insane riffs, furious blasts and throat tearing vocals. There wasn't really much moshing to speak of (this was a constant problem the whole night actually), but when they played their last song their vocalist Jason Hohenstein got the crowd worked up with something they called "Blood For Plastic". The objective was simple: mosh like a motherfucker nonstop for the entire duration of the song, and whoever the band deems worthy at the end wins a free CD. Needless to say a lot of people got into it at first, but it quickly came down to me and two other not-exactly-small gentlemen duking it out. Unfortunately my cardio isn't exactly up to snuff, so despite my valiant efforts I ended up throwing in the towel and someone else got the CD, but I'm still proud of myself for trying and going further than almost everyone else. Later on that night I actually got the opportunity to hang out with and talk to a few of the guys from the band, and as it turns out they're all very level-headed, laid back, funny guys with lots of great advice, be it about touring, playing your instrument or just life in general, so if you ever get the chance to talk to them be sure you do, they're great guys.
Once Lecherous Nocturne wrapped up to well-deserved enthusiastic applause, there was a heightened sense of excitement in the atmosphere, because it was Abigail Williams' turn to play. After an extremely drawn-out sound check, they finally started playing, and from the beginning to the end they absolutely killed it. As per usual there wasn't much moshing, save for Jay and Joe from I Am the Trireme doing their best to get a pit going throughout the set, but the crowd response was still enthusiastic to say the least. The band didn't play much from the In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns album, sticking primarily to the newer material, but that didn't do anything to hinder the deafening applause and chanting from the crowd. Ken Sorceron also worked the crowd really well between songs, talking about how it was Abigail Williams' first time playing in Trenton and how much better the vibe was than other venues like the Crocodile Rock in Allentown (and he's kinda got a point, it's pretty much impossible to find weed there if you don't already have any). After what felt like hours of headbanging and horn throwing, the band finally wrapped up to a thundering chant of "One more song, one more song". Sadly the time restraints didn't allow for an encore, but they still kicked plenty of ass and set the bar high for the rest of the night.
After Abigail Williams finished, it was high time for a smoke break and some fresh air, so we ended up missing Hate's set, but to be perfectly honest, other friends later remarked that they didn't play that well, and the band members were all corpse painted up so I didn't have very high expectations for them anyway. No disrespect to Hate of course, but it is what it is.
We did however make it back in plenty of time for Melechesh, a band that I was positively giddy with excitement for. Of course when I say we made it back in plenty of time, I mean they took so fucking long setting up and sound checking that we could have waited a good half hour more and not missed a single thing. But when they finally did start playing, the place was an absolute madhouse. They had the most pits of the night by far, and those who weren't moshing were either fist pumping (the cool way, not the gay Jersey Shore guido way) or headbanging like there was no tomorrow, myself included. The crowd response was so enthusiastic that Ashmedi himself remarked that it reminded him of the old days in the underground, which was naturally met with more cheering and an enthusiastic pit once the next song started. They played songs from all throughout their discography, which was good for me because I really only know a couple songs from their newest album The Epigenesis, so I got to experience more than just "Grand Gathas of Baal Sin" firsthand (although they did play that song as well, and it was awesome). By the time they wrapped up the whole band was all smiles just like everyone else, because there was an unmistakable feeling that we had all just made history together, our generation finally getting a taste of what the underground was like back in the good old days. Make no mistake, a Melechesh show is an absolute must-see.
After another break outside (complete with another deep, intimate conversation about life on the road with Lecherous Nocturne), I went inside to catch Rotting Christ's performance, but at this point exhaustion and headaches were starting to make their presence known, and whoever mixed the band's sound didn't do a very good job so they kinda sounded... well, I hate to say it, but terrible, so we ended up deciding to beat some of the traffic and head home. Maybe next time, RC. Either way, it was a great show, and many fond memories were made that night. I'll definitely be going back to Champs the next chance I get, and you should too if you're in the area. Check out all the bands I've mentioned here too, I may not have liked every single one of them but there's definitely a little bit of something for everyone on this lineup, so don't just take my word for it. Take care everyone, tune in for more later.