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Photo Gallery / Gig Review: HISSING with Infernal Coil, Radioactive Vomit, and Ceremonial Bloodbath at The Astoria, 7 January 2017

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What better way to begin our live coverage for the 2017 calendar year than a brutal dose of cavernous death metal at the Astoria?

Making its debut performance local act Ceremonial Bloodbath set the tone for the evening with an inexorable volley of consummate ferocity. The band’s riffage (and blistering solos in particular) recalls the earliest infernal exaltations of Slayer, accompanied by the sort of bleak guttural death vocals typical of the genre albeit with an occasional Araya-style wail piercing their dismal cacophonies.

Although the rehearsal demo released concurrent with Saturday’s show positions the band in the deepest reverberant pits of hell, the immediacy of live performance fully demonstrates the relentless savagery at which a recording can only hint.

Radioactive Vomit expelled a more diverse set than this reviewer has previously witnessed from the band, which for this show occasionally slowed its characteristic rapid-fire assault to a dismal crawl. The familiar shredding razor-wire tone remains intact however; so whether or not new material will permanently encamp itself in doomier territory remains to be seen.

Picking up the pace again, Idaho touring act Infernal Coil executed an impressive first Vancouver performance. Something about the band’s set vaguely recalls the live sound of Bölzer, though fleshed out as a quartet the overall affect may have been more akin to Rotten Sound. This marked the high point of the evening in terms of audience engagement and overall turnout (an earlier delay pushed back subsequent sets to the point that headlining trio Hissing didn’t unleash their brand of desolate auditory madness until approximately 12:20 a.m.), suggesting that the band already had a strong local following prior to its debut.

Seattle’s Hissing closed the show with a customary pummelling for remaining diehards. By now the band should be familiar to local fans of death metal as it ventured several times across the international divide last year; but what may be news even to those who have witnessed prior performances is that the band has also explored noisier soundscape territory (see the B-side track from “MMXVI”, a cassette released last year to commemorate the band’s ‘s tour with Sunn O))).) One hopes that new material will incorporate these forays into noise/drone territory in a more direct way, i.e. accompanying riffs, as it is one extremity of performed sound that is too often relegated to a malcontent corner on its own and the band is clearly skilled at crafting bleak, dissonant atmospheres. Either way, one hopes to see the trio return several times more this year.

(Click photos to enlarge)