NOTE: This is part two of a three-part review of Day Two of the Rites of Darkness festival that took place in San Antonio several weeks ago. Part one can be found here.
The mysterious Adversarial took the stage next, churning out doomy death metal that clearly bore influence from “Onward to Golgotha” -era Incantation (this sentence, or some variation thereof, will appear multiple times over the course of the Rites reviews). From what was witnessed, it was a pulverizing set with a noted mystique about it – largely due to the band’s refusal to communicate with the audience, opting instead to let the music and atmosphere speak for itself – although we didn’t catch all of the set, so it cannot be reviewed in full.
We also missed Black Witchery, although catching Cianide more than made up for it. The purveyors of true doom/death metal put on one of the best sets of the night, with a devotion to bashing out down tuned, Celtic Frost-influenced riffs that were accompanied by everything from devilish d-beats to doomy dirges that were heartily well-received by the crowd. As opposed to the aforementioned Adversarial, Cianide’s take on doom/death appeared to draw roughly equally from the well of both genres as opposed to using the bleak atmosphere of doom metal as an enhancer to death metal, and the mixture proved greatly effective with highly satisfying displays of riffery that encompassed the best of all that is metal. The band bashed out one Hessian-friendly hymn after another, encompassed in a professional sensibility that was most admirable given the circumstances surrounding the festival (namely, time delays – at this point we were pushing curfew with two headliners still slated to perform – Ignivomous’s performance was moved to Sunday). The gruff vocals of singer/bassist Mike Perun perfectly fit the rough-around-the-edges playing of guitarist Scott Caroll, while drummer Andy Kuizin played off his bandmates work to lock into a solid groove that was simply bludgeoning. One could compare the sound to The Gates of Slumber playing Autopsy covers with a notable amount of “Morbid Tales” influence, especially in the power-chord infused riffs over aggressive beats. Ultimately, this was another one of those sets where just about everyone who enjoys true metal would have found something to enjoy, and missing it deserves a good amount of pity.
The Hellenic black metal deities known as Zemial were originally scheduled to perform after Antaeus, although due to a confusing schedule switch-around, they instead performed before the French lords of chaos. This reporter has heard conflicting accounts of the blame, so we won’t comment on them and instead review the performance on its own. The Greeks initiated with none other than “The Tears That Wet Gethsemane”, a strong piece that serves as an excellent representative of Zemial’s early material, recalling “Third Storm of Cythraul”-era Absu in its composition, although it should be clarified that Absu actually took influence from Zemial in this circumstance. The iconic “Sleeping Under Tartarus” followed, and from then on out, it was a massive (sixteen songs!) set filled with old and new material. Although there are consistencies in both eras of Zemial, it is safe to say that the earlier material has a more thrashy vibe that could be compared to bands like the aforementioned Absu, Nifelheim, and early Bathory, while later Zemial possesses a more epic feel akin to later Bathory. The band is led by drummer/vocalist Archon Vorskaath, who performed his duties well in a style similar to a less chaotic Proscriptor McGovern (albeit with a lower vocal tone), and his bandmates were similarly versed in their instruments, churning out riffs that were were occasionally harmonized. A particularly notable moment came in the form of Vorskaath addressing the crowd to thank them for getting the band to the United States, as there were apparently financial difficulties involved in bringing the band over that were resolved when generous fans pitched in, which should be commended.
The band closed out their ninety-minute performance with the classically raw “Full Moon Necrophilia” and left the stage to the accompaniment of “Remembering Those Lost” blasting from the P.A. Ultimately, it was an enjoyable set, although the consensus amongst this reporter’s friends was that ninety minutes was a little excessive when the threat of running past curfew loomed closer and closer. Fortunately, the next act was enough to completely decimate all previous expectations, so much so that it only seems fitting to describe their performance in an entirely separate section of this review, which can be viewed below.
For more info: This review is concluded here.