Metal by the minute: Vital Remains + Gigan @ The Rave (3/26)

Photo of Vital Remains from MySpace

Photo of Vital Remains from MySpace

Words by Andrew Falk

The 26th of March, in the Year of Our Lord (Satan) 2009

8:48 AM – Vital Remains is more of a concept than an actual band. That’s a nice way of saying that I have no idea who is in the band right now and who’s going to be onstage at the Rave tonight. I know there’s one guy (Dave Suzuki) who plays both lead guitar and drums on the records, and he’s not touring with the band. Then there’s Glen Benton, one of the most recognizable faces and upside-down-cross-branded foreheads in all metaldom, who did the vocals on the last couple records. He doesn’t tour with them either. So that leaves Tony Lazaro, the band’s rhythm guitarist, and some other dudes who don’t play on the records. I’m just hoping for some unholy, blasting, shredding, Christ-hating death metal tonight, and I hope the players are up to the task, whoever they are.

10:35 AM – The real reason I’m going, though, is Gigan, one of the support acts. Their debut record was one of my favorites of last year and I’m interested to see how their futuristic, reptilian vibe translates to the stage. Some of the band members used to be in the death metal revolving door known as Hate Eternal, who curiously sound nothing at all like Gigan. I imagine they’re going to slay and I’m going to have disturbing alien abduction nightmares tonight. I can’t wait!

2:10 PM – There are some other opening acts tonight, specifically Burial Ritual, Carnal Befoulment, and Degradation Ceremony, none of whom I have ever heard. I believe they’re all Milwaukee-based bands. I hope they’re good. I am currently at work listening to Vital Remains’ 2003 album “Dechristianize” for the second time today. These riffs and solos are so sweet. I’m excited for them to blow my head off.

8:10 PM – Degradation Ceremony is indeed a local band, and a brand new one at that, formed in fall ’08. Their songs are filled with a lot of pretty varied parts, with some nice guitar interplay and a speedy drummer. You can still tell they’re kind of inexperienced, though. Keep your eye out, because I imagine they’ll be getting good fast.

8:33 PM – The vocalist from the last band just announced that Gigan isn’t playing tonight. Fuck! No reason is given.*

8:54 PM – The next band is Carnal Befoulment, a gory deathgrind band featuring the guitarist from the mighty Foetopsy, probably the best grind band ever to come out of Milwaukee. Carnal Befoulment’s individual members are all pretty great – the drummer’s fast, the riffs are mighty, and the vocalist has a wicked “squeee.” But the songs are all sort of the same, and the titles and themes (which were only distinguishable because of the spoken intros) are generic violent/gross-out stuff that anyone who listens to metal has been hearing since 1987.

9:41 PM – There are some people here wearing Insane Clown Posse shirts and makeup. I have no idea what’s going on.

10:14 PM – Oh god, one of the guys in the ICP gear is in Burial Ritual. He has black makeup handprints on his face and bald head. This band is horrible. I hate to write bad things about local bands, but these guys are asking for it – they are sloppy and their songs are generic and poorly performed. I had a bad feeling ever since I heard the bassist tuning by ear to the guitarist (doesn’t every serious guitar player have a tuner?), and then the guitarist made an on-mic joke about how this is their big hit, “The Tuning Song.” Groan-worthy. The less I write about this band, the better.

10:38 PM – Burial Ritual just asked the crowd if we want one more song or two. Many people yell “One!”

11:04 PM – Finally, Vital Remains! All my fears are for naught – the guys in the band are killing it. The vocalist, Scott Wily, has spiked gauntlets and gives the finger to the ceiling during a particularly anti-God lyric. Lead guitarist Eric Sagardia nails all the virtuosic sweep-picking arpeggiated leads while Wily air guitars behind him. Bassist Gator (just “Gator”) screams backup vocals and Tony Lazaro fills in the rest of the sound. And their insane drummer is apparently only nineteen. They announce that they had a couple guitars and 300 t-shirts stolen earlier in the week (why steal death metal band shirts?) and dedicate “Devoured Elysium” to the thieves and ask us to send bad vibes their way.

11:50 PM – Despite the Gigan cancellation, the whole Burial Ritual performance, and getting a full beer spilled on my jeans (that’s like six bucks), at last I feel like coming to this show was a good idea. Thanks, Vital Remains – keep on battling Christ and blasting brutal death. 

* I sent Gigan a Myspace message this morning asking why they hadn’t played and received a message back from guitarist/vocalist Eric Hersemann. He apologized and said that they were informed that the rest of the Vital Remains/Gigan tour was cancelled after Vital was robbed. Apparently Vital took a couple nights off then got back to the scheduled shows, and the band and promoter should have informed the venue.


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