With Shroud Eater and Holly Hunt
Presented by Speedfreek
Churchill's Pub, Miami
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Better Than: Not being "destroyed," "annihilated," "depressed," and "confused" on a Wednesday night.
In the Internet age, it is pretty much impossible for anyone with a computer to be surprised by a band. However, Corrections House -- a veritable supergroup of notable metal and experimental musicians -- has managed to keep info about what they do vague at best.
Yet despite this secrecy, the web buzz has been rampant with the sludge/stoner metal community, whose shared anticipation of performances and releases is based on the names of individuals involved alone.
The quartet features Bruce Lamont of Yakuza, Sanford Parker of Nachtmystium, Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod, and Scott Kelly of Neurosis. Now, a band featuring any one of these names would be worth seeing a hundred times. But all four of these individuals on stage at once ... How could the performance be anything less than a bacchanalian night of ripping post-Sabbath riffs and hulking hits?
However, what transpired last night on stage at Churchill's Pub wasn't the massive display of sludge and heft most were expecting. In fact, what the members of Corrections House brought to the 305 last night was most closely aligned with the interests of Miami's noise performance fans, and a completely unexpected (though none-the-less satisfying) detour into the realm of industrial beats, spoken-word performance, and psychedelic instrumental work.
Being that Corrections House information has been so vague, the openers chosen for the supergroup were Miami's keepers of sludge: Shroud Eater and Holly Hunt.
Shroud Eater opened its set with a somber funeral dirge of spaced-out guitar played over the thunderous clap of drummer Felipe Torres assaulting his cartoonishly large floor toms with a pair of orchestra mallets. The introduction carried on for just long enough to make the arrival of the group's well-loved churn of prehistoric sounding metal that much more impressive in its heft.
Along with the usual sonic warfare Shroud Eater is known for, the band performed a heap of fresh material last night that displayed an evolution of the trio's sound into something perhaps even scarier than the galloping riffs we have come to know and love. The thread of early '70s heavy psych that used to hide beneath the din of the band's vicious riffs has entered the limelight a bit more, affording the songs space to breathe and a dynamic intensity to the set. At one point in the evening, singer/guitarist/Queen of Pirates, Jean Saiz, was heard straight-up conjuring the likes of Satan himself over a looping storm of her guitar and bassist Janette Valentine's meandering fuzz-bass. Shroud Eater's performance last night was impressive, to say the least.
Next, after Holly Hunt's Gavin Perry had finished playing amplifier Tetris with his ever-expanding wall of speaker cabinets, he and drummer Beatriz Monteavaro let loose an unceremonious blast of subsonic mayhem that visibly frightened a crowd member standing in our vicinity. However, anyone that has borne witness to a Holly Hunt set certainly understands the audience's initial fear.
As Perry and the perpetually grinning Monteavaro worked through the lumbering sonic Goliaths that have recently begun to earn them a healthy following throughout the national sludge-metal community, heads banged slowly, eyes involuntarily shook in their orbitals, and the mystery of the sounds people have been blaming on secret Haarp weapons for years was finally solved.
The duo is already in the midst of recording a follow-up to the recently released Year One. And like the ladies and man of Shroud Eater, Gavin and Beatriz also dropping some new material into last night's set. For those wondering, the new songs are business as usual for the sludge-mongers, and we only hope that whatever poor studio has received the band lives through the tracking to record another day.
A short time later, the stage was cleared of Holly Hunt's gear and the building ceased shaking as a table of electronic gadgetry was set up where a drummer would normally sit and a baritone sax was seen curiously waiting in its case.
Eventually, Corrections House member Sanford Parker found his way to the table of effects pedals, microphones, and mixers where he began to weave a distorted and warped tapestry of pre-recorded and tweaked voices. A blanket of sputtering noise spread beneath the voices and for a long time, Parker remained alone on the stage, donning a black button-down shirt that featured the band's logo on a pair of shoulder patches while waiting for the crescendo of sound to welcome his bandmates.
To the side of the stage, Scott Kelly could be seen nodding away in a trance to the repetitive noise being created by Parker. Eventually, whether based upon a set amount of time or simply a compulsion to join the fray, Kelly stalked across the stage and picked up his guitar, adding a harder edge to the already gnarly and swirling cloud of sound. The two would soon be joined by Lamont, who proceeded to blow volleys of delayed and effected sonic ribbons from that waiting baritone sax. Finally, after an extended segue that followed each member's arrival and aural additions, Mike IX Williams found his way to stage and rifled through a pile of notebooks and scribblings, selecting lyrics on the fly with which to narrate the freeform mayhem.
"Will time forgive me?" asked Williams.
Throughout the marathon performance, Corrections House crafted a din that swelled from sonic apparition to mechanical chop-and-chunk, settled into Kelly singing of a sorrow-filled hymn that reminded us of a doom-infused Tom Waits song, and was rounded out by Lamont's incessant tweaking and melding of the sounds that he created with either his saxophone or voice through an array of pedals and effects.
The band's performance was as much a challenging war of sonic attrition as it was a unique moment in time that felt immediate and emotional -- all of the characteristics that denizens of noise and/or fans of the experimental so adore in a performance. The final ride to the end found Williams screaming in a state of pure catharsis over the explosive volume his bandmates created. We could not tell if the set came to a close deliberately, or if the sound system simply refused to take the abuse any longer. Williams thanked the audience, Kelly stood drenched in sweat and bewildered, and the rest of the band ceased their literally physical attack on the stage speakers.
With the International Noise Conference looming near, the set felt right at home on stage at Churchill's, particularly with the noise Svengali that is Rat Bastard working sound.
For Fans of: The early bit of the Swans discography, NIN, Neurosis, John Zorn on cough syrup.
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Personal Bias: Would have been just as satisfied by a set of the same people playing Sabbath covers.
Random Detail: Bruce Lamont used steel wool and a contact mike through a delay pedal. And now we've seen everything.