Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A View From The Pit: A Tale of Two Pits - Behemoth and Demon Hunter

A mere 7 days apart at the same venue were two shows that, while both containing bands of the heavy variety, they could not have been more different. The styles of the music that was played at the shows were different, one being of a black, death, and doom variety and the other lending more toward the melodic side of the metallic spectrum, they both brought the heavy with diverse methods. The first show was billed to be one of the most anti-religious affairs to ever cross this great nation with Behemoth, Watain, In Solitude, and The Devil’s Blood, and the ceremony that ensued more than lived up to its reputation. The second show was a send-off for Christian band Demon Hunter before they set off for a headlining run in Europe, and the atmosphere was starkly different from the week prior.

The big draw on the Decibel Magazine sponsored tour was Behemoth’s return to the US after lead man Nergal made leukemia his bitch. This made headlines all over the world and those of us Stateside could not wait for the triumphant return. First up on the night was another band taking part in the occult metal uprising that has been such a huge part of the underground as of late, The Devil’s Blood. The band doesn’t so much play shows as they perform ceremonies, with the hard thumping bass pounding the rhythm into your skull, the dexterous guitars of Selim Lemouchi, and the haunting vocals of Farida made the entire audience believers in their rites. Covered in blood, the band fully enveloped themselves into their ceremony and their passion flowed through the speakers and into our cold, dark hearts.

Next up with a shortened set because they were running late to the show was In Solitude playing their brand of heavy metal that is brash and all conquering. With such a short set there was little time for histrionics so they simply set forth to rock everyone’s asses off. Always moving, the band made sure that their riffage and soaring vocals would be sure to rev up the crowd. I definitely need to see these guys in a full set.

One of the most talked about bands in the live atmosphere is a band that brings fire, blood, and animal carcasses to just about every venue across the globe. Black metal virtuosos Watain came barreling through to perform a ceremony of their own and show the masses their love for Satan. Bestial, war laden, battle black metal is what they play and with corpse paint as their war paint Watain laid waste to everyone in their path. Erik Danielsson, the leader of the horde, made sure that the audience was fully aware of their intent on spreading a message of anger and freedom. Although there weren’t any animal carcasses, it was simply one of the most intense shows I’ve witnessed.

Finally, the band that we had all been waiting to see, a band literally back from death’s door, was coming to the stage. Polish blackened death metal heroes Behemoth were back and with a darkened stage with blue lights embossing the background, the band entered the realm of pure metal fury. Starting off with “Ov Fire and the Void,” the crowd was electrified and the band was full of energy that I had not seen in a long time. The power of Nergal’s vocals, the insanity of Inferno’s drumming, and the power of Orion and Seth drove the music to other-worldly domains. Playing songs from Evangelion, Demigod, and Satanica as well as the rest of their catalogue, Behemoth played songs for people that are fans of any step of the band’s career. The bottom line about their performance was that it was about power and freedom, stressing that we all need to stand up for ourselves, be strong, and strive for everything  we want in life. And I feel a better person for witnessing such an emotionally strong performance.

The following week a show rolled in that was simply different. Demon Hunter, the Seattle based Christian metal band was about to leave on a headlining run in Europe and they wanted to play one more show in Seattle for its diehard local fans. There were definitely some major differences in the two shows, while they were both packed to the brim with fans of heavy metal, they were definitely different. Instead of the bar being packed in between sets, which was the case at Behemoth’s show, I could walk right up to the bar any time I wanted for a refreshing PBR, my choice of drink for the night. And instead of people watching for the best and craziest band shirts that I normally look for at death metal shows, it seemed that 90% of the people there were wearing either Demon Hunter or Ed Hardy type shirts. Even though they were two different crowds, they were not any less fanatical and passionate about their favorite band. Demon Hunter took to the stage with a thunderous roar and fists raised to the heavens. Playing such older triumphant tracks as “Not I” and “Carry Me Down” as well as new tracks like “Life War” the band connected each audience member together and created a raucous pit that nearly rivaled that of Behemoth and Watain.

Even though there were two completely different types of bands those nights, two vastly differing ideologies behind the band members and crowds, there was no difference in the appreciation shown by anyone in attendance. I wish more people were open to giving either bands a chance even if they don’t agree with the intentions behind the writings. This writer, for one, has done such things and is not worried about how it looks on the outside.

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