Hemoptysis and Landmine Marathon
Clubhouse Music Venue
January 7, 2011
Two of the Valley's best metal bands came together last night for a show that set the bar high for the local metal scene in 2011. Landmine Marathon and Hemoptysis put together a 1-2 punch last night that not only solidified their reputations as part of the Phoenix metal elite, but also brought some much-needed unity to a strong local scene too often fragmented by insular sub-genres.
Hemoptysis booked and promoted the show themselves, billing it a "CD preview" show. The band's debut full-length, Misanthropic Slaughter, is scheduled for a March 8 release. That just so happens to fall on a Tuesday (the day of the week typically reserved for new media releases), which would seem to indicate that the band is close to signing with a label, although the band has remained mum on that subject thus far. Whether they ultimately sign with a label or simply self-release the album, it's already likely to be a shoe-in as one of the best local releases of 2011 in any genre.
Hemoptysis opened with "Shadow of Death," which probably qualifies as their biggest "hit" thus far and is the only previously released song on Misanthropic Slaughter. The mix was a little rough on the first song, but the Clubhouse's sound guy made some quick adjustments and the remainder of the set sounded tight and well-balanced.
In keeping with the show's theme, Hemoptysis showcased several tracks from the forthcoming album, including the title track, "Hopeless" and "End of Sorrow." Hemoptysis is a welcome throwback to classic '80s thrash metal, with singer/guitarist Masaki Murashita trading riffs and intricate solos with guitarist Ryan Miller and belting out appropriately dark lyrics in his Kreator-rific screech. Drummer Travis Thune is a true metal disciple, keeping a precise, rapid-fire beat to form the band's low-end backbone with bassist Sunao Arai. The crowd showed its appreciation by forming a sizable most pit midway through the band's 45-minute set.
Hemoptysis might be a hard act to follow, but Landmine Marathon were certainly up to the task. After months of touring behind their latest release, Sovereign Descent, the band sounds like a well oiled machine onstage. This was my first time seeing the band since longtime drummer Mike Pohlmeier departed and was replaced by Andy York, and they didn't miss a beat (pun intended). The band showcased songs from all three of their albums, including grindcore neo-classics "Skin From Skull" and "Shadows Fed to Tyrants."
Vocalist Grace Perry continues to impress. Even after seeing Landmine perform several times, it's still shocking to see the petite, soft-spoken Perry shift into her seething, maniacal grindcore alter-ego onstage. She's able to turn it on and off at will, too. Even during the occasional between-song patter, Perry looks and sounds like the last person you'd expect to see at a metal show, let alone fronting a grindcore band, but when the music starts, she channels a deep, primal ferocity that leaves audiences slack-jawed. As talented as Landmine Marathon is as a band, it's Perry that makes them so fascinating. On the surface, the whole "ridiculously hot chick fronting an extreme metal band" thing seems like a gimmick, but when they perform, you quickly realize it's anything but.
Last Night: Landmine Marathon and Hemoptysis at the Clubhouse
Personal Bias: I think my preview of this show pretty much spelled out that these are two of my favorite local bands.
The Crowd: I'm running out of clever ways to describe metal crowds. Long hair, black T-shirts, throwing the horns, etc. You either get it or you don't.
Overheard: "If he doesn't play well, I'm gonna jump onstage and dick-slap him." -Erik Mason Sr. on the ramifications of a bad performance by Landmine Marathon guitarist Dylan Thomas. Fortunately for Thomas (and the audience), Mason's sword remained sheathed.
Random Notebook Dump: Spoke with Landmine bassist Matt Martinez before the show. He shared some stories from the road, including the unfortunate booking of a "white power" band as a local opener on one stop and their most frequently asked interview question. ("They always ask Grace what it's like to be a chick in a metal band, as if she has anything to compare it to.") Martinez also said that the band is writing songs for a new album, which certainly bodes well for Valley metal fans in 2011.