The sun was setting on the Goregrowler’s Ball V festival as it entered its third day, and while things didn’t entirely go as planned, this reporter still had quite an enjoyable time watching great bands with great friends. The schedule got switched around and there was a lot of overlap, so forgive me if any of these bands are presented out of order. That having been said, let’s get on with the final review.
The final day of the Ball got off to a late start, and resulted in more overlapping set schedules, which is any reviewer’s nightmare. As such, we only got to witness about half of Eviscerated’s set, although having seen them many times in San Antonio, this reporter can testify that they are always a blast in the live environment! Unfortunately, there were issues involving the sound, and the mic was cutting out and offering a very scratchy sound throughout many of the bands on the outside stage’s set. Nonetheless, all the bands involved played through the technical difficulties, and what we saw of Eviscerated was killer. The band serves as one of the staples of the “TXDM” movement, with blistering riffs and crushing slow sections and unintelligible vocals that are a far cry from anything deemed “mainstream” or “commercial”. As previously mentioned, however, the entire set was not witnessed, which is quite a shame. Thankfully, Eviscerated plays often enough that we’ll get to catch them again soon.
Pillcrusher (sometimes written as PiLLCRUSHER, presumably as a tribute to the ANTiSEEN, who at one point served as G.G. Allin’s backing band) served as the only doom metal band on the festival, and their bluesy, pentatonic take on stoner doom was greatly appreciated by this writer. Pillcrusher’s drawn-out displays of doom utilized a no-frills approach to riff worship, unleashing compelling tunes such as “It’s Time The Day Went Numb” (whose main riff would make even Tony Iommi jealous) and “Forever Green”, which put the “stoner” in “stoner doom”, as its name would suggest. While the guitar riffs are nothing to shrug at, the bass guitar is where Pillcrusher really shines, with wah-infused solos all over the place. Vocalist Beer Reebs (also of Hod) unleashed his usual croak, while accompanied by a rock-solid rhythm section that kept the groove going throughout the course of their set. Amongst a sea of brutal death metal bands, Pillcrusher’s presence was welcomed, and if slow, riffy doom is your type of thing, you absolutely must check them (and their San Antonio doom contemporaries, Las Cruces) out.
Flesh Hoarder has been gaining a massive amount of steam in the last few months. The band made their debut in late August opening up for Pathology (a show that this reporter regretfully had to miss – long story) and has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the TXDM scene, playing show after show to very receptive crowds. The mic problems were much less noticeable at this point in the show, and the band churned its way through a bludgeoning set that included many fan favorites, none of which are suitable for print. The ever-reliable duo of “Metal Mike” de Leon and Angel Tarin blasted out riffs and slams while the low end was supplemented by Jason Rodriguez. Drummer Rene Martinez, a ubiquitous presence in the TXDM scene was precise as per usual, and vocalist Nick Moreno summoned forth high-pitched shrieks and blasphemous growls, and appeared unfazed from his performance with Eviscerated not one hour earlier. Flesh Hoarder has been playing shows like they’re going out of style, so if you somehow haven’t seen the band yet, you will have the opportunity to do so in the near future, and you should definitely check them out.
Florida’s Extremely Rotten lived up to their name as they savagely sowed the seeds of visceral death metal that displayed a notable influence from bands like Cannibal Corpse, with song titles that obviously were inspired by the pioneers of death metal. The band’s current vocalist was unable to make the trip to Texas, so in his absence, Extremely Rotten got none other than Insidious Decrepancy’s Shawn Whitaker (also of Uncleansed and Viral Load, who played at the Goregrowler’s Ball as well) to fill in, and as expected of Whitaker, he provided quite an extra punch with his guttural vox and captivating stage presence. A highlight of the set came when Whitaker announced that the band had been confirmed for Las Vegas Death Fest midway through their performance, which was nothing if not cool. The band also included a Dying Fetus cover whose name I’m not sure is acceptable for print here, but was executed well and got heads banging, although I must confess it was strange hearing that song being covered by local favorites VBT, who have made it a staple of their live set, often introduced as “Urgh”. Extremely Rotten were a fine addition to the 2011 edition of the Goregrowler’s Ball, and hopefully this won’t be the last time we witness them.
The dreaded “festival fatigue” (that all-too-familiar condition where watching bands for six hours comes back to bite you in the form of extreme hunger) struck this reporter and friends hard about midway through the day, so we went out for some food and came back to watch Hot Graves rip through a solid set of blackened, crusty D-beat. The three-piece band was led by a bearded gentleman playing a hot pink guitar, which was certainly eye-catching as he cranked out speedy hymns that seemed to take heavy influence from bands like Venom, if Venom were mixed with a heavy dose of Discharge. The harsh vocal assault had a punk edge to it, although the vocal inflections were still metal to the bone, with an attitude of brash carelessness that could almost be compared to Motorhead envisioned through an extreme metal/crust punk fusion. The band cites Midnight (who will be performing at this year’s Rites of Darkness III) as an influence, and it wasn’t hard to hear the sonic cues taken from the Ohio extreme thrashers, although the band put their own spin on the “d-beat rock and roll” styling to create something quite interesting to watch. Here’s hoping that Hot Graves can roll through San Antonio within the next few years, since their performance was something to behold entirely.
For more info: A summation of the entire festival can be found here.