Half-assed Show Reports: Spectral Voice & Primitive Man @ Lee’s Palace

After a frigid walk that felt more like December than spring, my companion and I arrived at the venue just as the nights opener, Minors, were about halfway through their set. There were a decent amount of bodies in attendance already, which is nice to see after going to so many shows where the opening band has to wail away at an empty room. They played a good set, going through their own hybrid of hardcore and powerviolence with plenty of proficiency. Their most recent album was Atrophy, released last December, you can check that out below.

The second opening act was the three piece IRN. On stage they looked like a bit of a hodgepodge; the guitarist and bassist running a bit more Ozzy, the drummer a bit more current, but their set had no such inconsistencies. A steady slice from the tome of sludge, they belted out two solid bangers, good’n brawny riffs strung together with solid instrumental interludes.

As the next band began setting up under the harsh stage lights, I couldn’t help but notice a certain patina to their appearance. Tarnished bullet belts missing hardware, shirts and pants faded black-grey, matted locks running to thin and cracked leather boots. It was the look of a group of guys who did not see something as a scene but a lifestyle, haggard veterans of bleak noise who had been worshipping at the Scandinavian altar long before anyone gave a damn. I raised an eyebrow when they began laying out lit candelabras but as the fog machine began to wheeze up to pace and the drummer/vocalist asked for the stage lights to be not dim, but off (“All these lights off, as dark as it can be.”), my scepticism bled to respect as Spectral Voice took the stage.

Spectral Voice were a complete unknown to me before this gig and it did not take long into their set to have my rapturous attention. From within a smoky gloom, illuminated with the sickly light of sputtering candles, they blasted through their own take on the well-established death/doom mythos. This was no flimsy alloy of recycled steel. This was raw iron, wild mountain iron, forge-hammered into submission. Haunting melodies and demonic gurgling were tied together with deceptively muscular instrumentals and a very clear sense of direction. Their veteran appearance was outdone by their sound, showcasing a band that had taken years of worship and practice to hammer out something that could stand proud among its noble lineage. It was a mesmerising and masterful set, and one of the best surprises in recent memory.

Only one set of stacked cabinets remained on the stage, it was time for the neanderthal preachers of fear and despair to begin their sermon. It was time, for Primitive Man. While I’ve thrown around plenty of adjectives when talking about this band in the past they all pale in comparison to the actual force this band brings to the stage. After setting up with no fanfare or pretense, they paused briefly before launching into their humble trade of blowing the goddamn flesh off your shoulders. Lee’s has plenty of wattage at its disposal and Primitive Man were wringing out every screaming inch of it, elevating their sound beyond mere “deafening” to a level where it could shred earplugs like tissues – at some point through their set I realized my face was aching, a result of my timid cranium doing the best it could to prevent my internals from liquefying.

These are the real songs for the deaf, the physicality of sound used to berate your consciousness into accepting their putrid declarations of rage. Primitive Man puts out some strong records but seeing them live added so much more the experience. The added dimension of seeing them perform is not about an electric stage performance or off-grid instrumentals, it is about the sheer mass that a PA system humming at capacity gives to their music, something even the most robust of household speakers could never manage. Their set was a bellowing hurricane of obtuse noise and unpredictable speed, methodical assaults of low-end heft punctuated with sporadic frenzies of blast beats, like the death spasms of the last great leviathans. It was both awesome and hypnotic, a true presence of sound that existed beyond the figures on stage. As the final squeals of feedback faded from the venue, they gave the audience a heartfelt thank you before departing, seemingly glad that such a group of people gathered to suffer alongside them through the noise they had conjured.

With the sets done, the crowd began to filter out into the night. This was not a not a joyous and sweaty exit for most, more of a clammy lurch to freedom with the hope that the frigid air would help re-form something out of the puddle of dust residing in your skull. The next morning I woke up with a full-body ache and an existential hangover that brooded with me through the day, evidence of the physical and mental pummelling from the night before (Or I’m just getting old, but close enough). If you’re looking for a night of excitement I’d look elsewhere but if you want to see two of the top predators in the field flaunt their kills, you can catch them at the remaining dates listed below.

03/27 Montreal, QC – Bar LeRitz
03/28 Boston, MA – Middle East
03/29 Portland, ME – Geno’s Rock Club
03/30 Montclair, NJ – Meatlocker
03/31 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus Bar
04/01 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie (w/o Spectral Voice)
04/02 Washington, DC – Atlas Brew
04/03 Richmond, VA – Strange Matter
04/04 Atlanta, GA – Earl
04/05 Nashville, TN – The End
04/06 St. Louis, MO – Fubar
04/07 Rock Island, IL – Rock Island Brewing Co.
04/08 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
04/09 Denver, CO – Syntax Physics Opera

Assorted;

– The sound guy at Lee’s Palace has a bit of reputation for being blunt and standoffish but he is also one of the best in the city. The whole night sounded excellent, an impressive feat considering the musical fringes these bands operate in.

– I couldn’t finish this piece without mentioning the back patch that depicted a winged succubi performing fellatio on Christ while he hung from the cross. It was an image that would not have your grandmother clutching her pearls so much as her heart as she keeled over in shock. I can’t tell you what band it was for because I wasn’t trve enough to decipher the logo in time but regardless, it’s out there. Hide your grannies.

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