My body is bruised and swollen, my voice is gone, I've got whiplash and above all I can't hear shit. This show was sick.
The Ultra Violet Social Club is a misleading name for a metal little gem of a venue located a stone's throw from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. It looks like a converted warehouse, and isn't much more than a little black concrete room with a stage at one end and a bar on the other. I came in as Vital Remains were setting up, having missed the first two acts: Sacrificial Slaughter, a group of nice guys from Corona whom I spoke with briefly, and Enfold Darkness, which I can't say I regret (a judgment made solely on their facial hair). Local heroes Warbringer were set to play after Vital, with Pestilence (who of course needs no introduction) headlining.
Vital Remains didn't make me wait long. The Rhode Island natives were the most theatrical of the bunch, with vocalist Scott Wily leading the venue in almost a moment of prayer as their intro track played, then breaking the calm with an explosive inquiry of "Where is your god now?" and shattering every cross in a 666 mile radius with the title track from Icons of Evil. I was too busy channeling the quintessence of Satan to count, but they continued with another four or five tracks, including Dechristianize (complete with the great intro from the album) and Devoured Elysium. You owe it to yourself and to Satan to see these guys live, and I'm not just biased because they pulled me up on stage.
Up next was Warbringer, the thrashers from my old stomping grounds down in Ventura County. They played a song or two from last year's Waking Into Nightmares but their set was mostly tracks from their debut War Without End with Total War, Shoot to Kill, At the Crack of Doom, and Combat Shock. People fuckin' love these guys and it's easy to see why; they put on a great show, with more energy than a nuclear meltdown. The crowd went insane, I was up front, close enough that a mosher impacting me from behind was enough for my skull to meet a tuning peg from guitarist John Laux's weapon of choice. I hope it leaves a scar.
The crowd swelled to maximum as Pestilence took the stage, opening with Devouring Frenzy which broke any necks that hadn't already been there for the previous bands. They had a great set, running through Horror Detox, Dehydrated, The Process of Suffocation, Hate Suicide, Resurrection Macabre and I believe Malleus Maleficarum / Anthropomorphia, including others. Their presence was grim and from the oldest of schools, Patrick Marneli has great presence and sounds in person exactly like he does on the records; if I hadn't been watching him I could have sworn he was being eaten alive by a swarm of locusts or dragged to hell by the white horseman himself. They said a quick goodnight at the end and departed the stage, but returned just as fast before announcing the final song: "OUT! OF! THE! BODY!!!" The survivors in the crowd just fucking lost their shit, tearing each other limb from limb as that timeless riff pulverized our remains into so much human salsa.
Sound quality was an issue throughout the night. The sound was full and meaty as fuck, but the bass drowned out the higher guitar notes (Warbringer had some good solos that I could only hear because my head with two feet from the guitar,) and even the vocals lost a bit of edge to the imbalance. Only so much acoustic quality can be expected from a tiny converted industrial building, but it was an unfortunate price to pay. Still, it was far from a dealbreaker, and the intimate nature of the show was priceless. This show fucking killed. If modern medical science can replace my eardrums by the time any of these bands come my way next, I'll eagerly sacrifice them all over again.
http://www.myspace.com/pestilenceofficial - http://pestilence.nl/