Lifetime Shitlist/Bädr Vogu/Sadgiqacea/Hivelords/Putrid Servant at Sidebar

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, August 16, 2014

On any given night, there is usually some type of show to go see in Baltimore. This was true a few weeks back, when I saw Subhumans Thursday night and then headed into the city the following evening for another must see lineup. Bädr Vogu was coming back through the area, and I had missed the Oakland crust/doom band last time they were on the East Coast. Initially the show had just been them and some locals, but Hivelords and Sadgiqacea happened to be in town as part of their tour on the same night so they were added to the lineup, which made this one I knew I had to check out.

I feel like I say this every time I write a live review, but it seems like every couple of shows I find another local band that I hadn’t heard before. This was once again the case, as Putrid Servant started the evening off. Although they formed several years ago as a three piece, the band is now a duo and recently started playing live shows again after a brief absence. They play fast and mid-tempo black metal that has a rawer sound, but do so with bass, keyboards, and drums which gives the material a different feel from a lot of the local acts in the genre that I’ve seen perform recently. Even when the keyboards fade out and it is just bass and drums, there is still a spacier sound to the instrumentals that gives a sci-fi/otherworldly vibe to the black metal base. Quite a few of the bands in this genre that I’ve seen from the local area seem to be so focused on recreating the traditional second wave sound that they forget to have distinguishable riffs in the process, which is why Putrid Servant really stood out to me. The combination of the standard harsh screaming and faster, chilling riffs with stranger keyboard/bass riffs that add a sci-fi feel works really well and each of the songs were different enough from each other to hold my attention. It was an impressive performance, and whole the band only has a little bit of recorded material I’m hoping they will have more to offer in the near future as I would like to support them.

Hivelords was up next, and they were on tour throughout the summer with Sadgiqacea (which current guitarist Evan Void is also a part of). I had found the band’s album Cavern Apothecary to be one of the better releases of 2013, as the way it was able to combine black metal and doom together into a terrifying and dense listening experience kept me coming back. I’m not sure of the specific reasons, but this tour featured a guest vocalist Ajax Stormwood from Ardent Vein. Although I haven’t always been a fan of bands using guest singers over the years, as sometimes it doesn’t feel like a truly accurate representation of what you hear in recorded form. But in Hivelords’ case, Stormwood was a perfect fit for their material and if you didn’t know he wasn’t their original vocalist it wouldn’t have been easy to figure out. All of the nuances of the recorded material transfers over perfectly, and the power of the instrumental work is amplified live as the waves of harsher sounds wash over you. Ajax looked downright terrifying throughout the performance, hitting all kinds of intense screaming/growling ranges and he looked like he might just tackle someone in the audience at any moment. If you haven’t heard these guys yet and like black metal, sludge, or doom that is downright intimidating at time I’d recommend checking Hivelords out both on record and live as they delivered one of the better performances I’ve seen recently. It also looks like I’ll have to check out Ardent Vein, as Ajax Stormwood is one hell of a front man.

Sadgiqacea was a band I hadn’t listened to before but had heard a good deal about, as their newest full length False Prism was met with a good deal of acclaim when it was released last year and they’ve played Baltimore a few times before and gotten a positive reaction. Seeing them live seemed like the perfect way to become familiar with their material, and I was not disappointed. For some reason I was under the impression that Sadgiqacea played some type of slower, sprawling black metal, and while there is some black metal influence to their music the style is closer to doom/sludge that builds slowly and then ramps up the atmosphere as it reaches its climax. They only played a few songs during their set but I was blown away by what the band had to offer, as the instrumental work is completely entrancing and when played at the higher volumes of a live setting it sucks you in and makes you give your full attention to what is happening on-stage. The mix for their set played a big role in this, and this was yet another band where the intimacy of a smaller venue like Sidebar definitely helped to leave a big impression on me. While the instrumental work may work in a considerable amount of melody and let the atmosphere build, the vocals skew towards the harsher side which works well and both members switch off throughout the songs. Although there seems to be more sludge/doom that is focused on longer arrangements than ever before, Sadgiqacea’s emphasis on melodic build-ups and intense climaxes with harsher vocals made them feel a bit different than some of the others out there and their performance was impressive. It’s clear that I missed out on False Prism last year and need to check it out to get up to speed.

Bädr Vogu’s debut full length Exitium made an impression on me in 2012, which was when it was re-released by Spanish label Memento Mori. The Oakland group had a sound that had a lot of the familiar elements I liked, but they were all put together in a way that stood out. Their core style takes sludge grooves and adds a healthy dose of crust punk and death metal influence into the mix, which not only makes them distinguishable sound wise but ensures that there are a lot of hooks to each song to draw you in. This was definitely true in a live setting, as the crunchier grooves hit you right in the chest and give the performance that much more intensity. Lead singer Sean’s vocal style is closer to death metal, as he has those low pitched growls that give way to gruffer screams and they complement the instrumental work perfectly. In addition to the songs from Exitium that I was familiar with, Bädr Vogu also played some material from their recently released cassette and it’s clear that they’re not only continuing to write songs that are fairly long but are able to justify these periods of time with arrangements that provide plenty of twists and turns. Like most sets that I really enjoy, it seemed like this one was over far too quickly and I would’ve been happy to watch them blow through their crust/sludge for another hour at least. Unfortunately this particular date didn’t seem to have been promoted a whole lot, so the crowd was fairly small, but I could tell that everyone who was there was into what these guys were doing. They continue to be a group that I think is able to offer the type of sludge that a lot of people are into without sounding like everyone else out there, and if Bädr Vogu comes your way you should check them out.

Baltimore locals Lifetime Shitlist finished the night off, and while I was a bit too tired to stay for their entire set I did manage to catch about three quarters or so. They’ve been around for a while now, as I remember seeing them open for GBH a little over four years ago. While their lineup has changed a bit since that point the group’s sound is about the same (although their current drummer also does vocals, which is something new). I’m definitely not complaining though, as they’ve always been able to provide the type of heavy hitting D-beat and punk sound that I like quite a bit. Over the years the songs have become a bit more distinguishable as well, and there’s a bit more differentiation from one song to the next. One thing that hasn’t changed is singer Dave Pennington’s extremely gruff pitch, which I’ve found to be one of those ranges that you can immediately identify. It’s one of the elements that drew me to Lifetime Shitlist back then and it’s still very appealing now. Considering how many local acts from three to four years ago have called it quits by now, it’s cool to see these guys not only still at it but have clearly continued to grow as songwriters and get better. Although I couldn’t catch their whole set they still have my support, and I think it’s time for them to start getting some more recognition outside of the local area.





Lifetime Shitlist-
Bädr Vogu-
Putrid Servant-

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