(Live Review) EXHUMED + SUPPORT - Club Garibaldis, Milwaukee (Nov 19/22)
Greetings fans, readers, headbangers and Beard loyalists. After almost a month-long break, the Reviews Never Stop Tour hits show #46 and Bands #201-205.
Tonight, we are in Milwaukee Wisconsin at Club Garibaldis for a Little Johnny spectacular brought to us by our friend at RK Metal (the great Randy “No Fun” Kastner), and featuring: Exhumed, Vitriol, Escula Grind, Molder and Pigs Blood.
This collection of death metal and grindcore will feature our own maestro of mosh, The Peril of The Pit, you know him, you love him, (and you may even be on the waitlist for one of his trademarked caps), the one, the only, Little Johnny.
Tonight, everyone’s favorite manic orphan will be hip deep on the main floor throwing elbows and pit diving with the best of them, while your far more sanguine reviewer “The Beard” hides in the “way back” obscurity and attempts to chronicle the mayhem that will unfold over the next several hours. Thank you, Randy Kastner for looking out for The Beard tonight. A man my age could break a hip with this lineup.
All right, first up on the stage: the death/war metal sounds of Pigs Blood, touring behind their 2019 release A Flock Slaughtered.
Death metal and blast beats. Five-man group. Lyrics were mostly indecipherable, but, on some songs, the pacing (aside from the drums), was not super-fast, rather, there was a more mid-tempo heaviness and weight to some selections that made me pay more attention. Other numbers were much faster and well into the death metal genre. Johnny liked both the drummer’s frenzy and the singer’s death voice. The Beard is going 75/100. Johnny will likely be a higher grade.
Next up the death/thrash of Molder.
Hailing from Shorewood Illinois, Molder brought a strong mix of thrash (and even a touch of 80’s first wave black metal) to merge with their death sound. The whole, (at least for me anyway), was pretty positive in that lyrics were more understandable, and they reminded me of bands like Slayer, Bewitcher or Bat. Molder had an older genre look as well. I was thinking late 70’s era. The guitar player had a mix of 70’s era Tony Iommi and a Frank Zappa-like look. I enjoyed these guys and the fact they were local (for The Beard anyway) was a bonus.
Johnny was a little less into them, but, at least on the main floor, the standing head banging had begun, and the crowd was getting thicker. Randy Kastner (owner and CEO of RK Metal) told me he was hoping for a “sardine can crowd”. Only two bands in and we were well on the way as the venue continued to fill.
The Beard might have to give the Molder merch a once over. In the meantime, I’m going a solid 84/100. Cool set both visually and sonically.
The third band up is Escula Grind from New England. This band was able to jump on the tour after Hulder dropped off midway through. With only two weeks to prepare, this grindcore-style band fit in well with the punishing style of metal on this tour. Although The Beard has often stated unapologetically that grindcore is my least favorite style, it can be a fan favorite, so time to try and be a neutral reviewer. Let’s see what the crowd and of course Little Johnny thinks about it.
Okay, both female lead singer and female lead guitarist. Admittedly, having done no pre-search material, I did NOT see that coming. It’s like Joan Jett and Lita Ford got ultra-heavy. At the minimum it’s novel.
Songs were usually less than 2-minutes, with some at about 60-90 seconds (although to be fair some also were in the 3–4-minute range). Brutal death voice and definitely not The Beard's personal thing, but there is a market for this style, and they seemed well received by the large Milwaukee crowd. Johnny did finally get some mini pit’s going out there on the floor, but the room was pretty packed, and the songs were kind of quick for developing any full-scale Testament-style pit wars.
I was initially only going to give them a 73/100 as again grindcore is just not my thing, however, the crowd reception to them got stronger the longer they played, and their unabated raw energy ultimately boosted their numbers to 78/100. Johnny rated them several notches higher.
Fourth up was V.I.T.R.I.O.L.. Death metal from the West Coast.
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. Standard death metal, loud deep wicked voice, blasting drums, speeding heavy guitars. In short, all of Johnny’s favorite things. The crowd was a bit lethargic to start, (still coming off Escula Grind's set). That band was all energy.
Nevertheless, you’ve heard the phrase “a little child shall lead them?”. Well, apparently tonight, THAT child was Johnny at about song three. Stomping around, shaking his head and throwing elbows like an MMA fighter, Johnny got the crowd back up as they couldn’t help but follow his lead and begin to sail along on V.I.T.R.I.O.L.'s mighty blast beats.
The Beard likewise was lukewarm initially to the west coast death, but they grew on me, and by the end I was enjoying the manic crowd response. I’ll throw them an 80/100. Once again Little Johnny will give a much higher number.
At last, tonight’s headliners Exhumed: California’s death/goregrind masters. Cool shirts at the merchandise table, but now let’s hear the tunes and see the show.
This was the vocals of Cannibal Corpse or maybe Carcass meets the music of Slayer. Cookie Monster vocals abound as heavy fog eclipsed the stage. Guitars raced along like cheetahs drunk on Red Bull and the drummer pounded the bass beat like a coked-up hamster on his favorite wheel. Yep, I’m saying these guys were HEAVY and FAST!
Songs were also apparently crowd infectious as periodic pits exploded into being and quickly quelled again like whirlpools in a raging river.
The Cookie Monster vocals were nicely paired with an almost understandable counterpart which ultimately gave the songs strength, like a man talking to Satan back and forth. Maybe Exodus crossed with Carcass is a better comparison, I’m still figuring it out exactly. Either way, The Beard will just hold on tight and let the moshing hurricane surge around him while Johnny surfs the eye of the storm. Each of us to our own.
I will say at one point security had to get involved as the pit histrionics got a little too intense and a couple large fans had to be more forcibly separated. Randy Kastner (who never stops paying close attention during one of his events) was immediately on hand to quell the disturbance without disrupting the band's continued ability to perform. The only public remark from singer Matt Harvey was “It’s a death metal show, and it IS called slam dancing.”
The Beard WILL state, Exhumed makes their style work and the crowd response is both loud and visceral. Touring behind their new album To the Dead, Exhumed reminded the Milwaukee crowd they play “music to get murdered to”. During the encore, (a cover of Judas Priest’s “Living after Midnight”), there was even a guy with a fake chainsaw running around in the pit. Promoter Randy Kastner was unperturbed saying only, “That’s Macabre Dave.”
Now, although truthfully my vision was obscured by both the fog and a sea of moving humanity, to the extent that I more heard than actually saw Exhumed, perhaps that is how it should be. The screens behind them showed almost endless scenes of autopsies and surgeries, so I wasn’t pre-disposed to look real intently. I can say there was an excellent guitar solo containing a pretty on-point cover of Van Halen’s Eruption, and I am looking forward to Johnny’s take as I generally couldn’t spot him in all the fog.
In the meantime, from MY perspective, headliner show. headliner dough. Exhumed got the job done like a headliner and thus The Beard grades them a respectful 86/100.
This wraps it up for show #46 on the Reviews Never Stop Tour 2022.
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Until we Review again, this is The Beard & Little Johnny saying ... Horns up!!