Satan/BAT/Extermination Angel/Cemetery Piss at The Metro Gallery

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, April 28, 2014

Last year marked 30 years since Satan’s debut album Court in the Act was released. Although the British heavy metal band never achieved the same level of notoriety as some of the bigger names from the country, they’ve maintained a steady cult following over the years. 2013 also marked the release of the band’s first new material since 1987’s Suspended Sentence, and while there have been a surge of heavy metal groups suddenly reuniting the resulting effort Life Sentence was definitely one of the better albums in recent memory. Between early and mid-April Satan embarked on their first ever tour of the U.S., which was really just five East Coast dates and a stop in Canada in Montreal rather than a countrywide tour. Thankfully Baltimore ended up being one of the stops, so I made my way over to The Metro Gallery to check out the show.

Cemetery Piss started the evening off with a black metal/thrash combination, and while I hadn’t seen the Baltimore locals I had heard plenty of good things about them. I knew that Adam Savage was the vocalist, and I’ve followed the bands he’s been in for a few years as both Vincent Black Shadow and Murder put on some great performances. While both of those acts may have skewed more towards the punk side, Cemetery Piss is definitely a metal band as their primary style pulls in the chilling fast paced riffs of black metal with some thrash and heavy metal breaks. It’s a familiar style, but there’s something about the way that the band pulls their various ideas together that made their material feel different to me. Rather than simply sticking with the denser black metal riffs for an entire song, the instrumental work would shift over to incorporate some thrash inspired moments and even some mid-tempo heavy metal grooves. Savage’s vocal style retains some of the punk snarl that I was used to hearing from him in the past, but he’s able to hit some harsher screams in this band that I didn’t know he was capable of. The vocals maintain this balance between slightly cleaner screams that are easy to understand and higher shrieks that are closer to the traditional black metal style, and this also helps to give Cemetery Piss a different sound than your average genre act. My first impression of this group was definitely a promising one, and they’re another noteworthy addition to a Baltimore music scene that has produced more standout bands than I can keep track of.

Extermination Angel took the stage next, and they were another local band I hadn’t seen in a few years. These guys have been around since 2007 and opened Maryland Deathfest back in 2012, so they’ve definitely been gaining notoriety. Since the last time I saw them the group had gone through some lineup changes and their guitarist also now performs vocals, but they’re still capable of making a strong impression on audiences. If you’re a patron of the local Baltimore music venues and haven’t caught Extermination Angel live yet, the best way to describe them is as a mix of heavy hitting old-school death metal with the occasional break into unrelenting black/death metal that is just a chaotic wall of sound. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of shows I have seen at The Metro Gallery that they always seem to be able to offer bands a pretty good mix, and this helped Extermination Angel quite a bit as their instrumental work didn’t completely drown out the vocals. What helps make these guys distinguishable from some of the others out there is their ability to mix all-out blasting with some slower breaks that highlighted individual riffs, as they were able to do this in a way that wasn’t overly predictable. There are plenty of groups out there that go for the old-school death metal sound or blasting black/death metal combination, but Extermination Angel has tracks that don’t all blur together and that makes them stand out in my mind.

BAT may have only formed about a year or so ago, but chances are good that you’re familiar with the three musicians that make up the heavy/speed metal band. The group brings together Ryan Waste (Municipal Waste, Volture), Nick Poulous (Volture, Parasytic), and Felix Griffin (Blunt Force Trauma, ex-DRI), and based upon each of their backgrounds you can probably put together a rough idea of what they sound like. I had been listening to BAT’s demo Primitive Age a few days prior to the show to get an idea of what they would have in store, and it only took one song to get me hooked. Since the demo only has five songs on it, the group not only played all of these tracks live but also threw in a new song and a cover of Motorhead’s “Speedfreak” that got the crowd going. I found out afterwards that this was one of the group’s first ever live performances, but you wouldn’t have known it watching them on-stage. All three of the members have great chemistry together and are able to play these fast paced songs with precision, letting the focus remain on the high flying riffs and Ryan Waste’s gruff vocals. At some point during the set I remember Waste saying he had been having some issues with his voice earlier in the day, but he sounded great during the performance and was able to offer the same type of in your face and rough vocal work that fans of Municipal Waste will be familiar with. BAT was a lot of fun to watch and felt like equal parts Venom, Motorhead, and a good helping of DRI and some of the other crossover thrash acts from the U.S. Hopefully these couple of shows were just the beginning and more people around the country have the chance to check this band out, as I’d like to see them continue onward and develop this project even further.

Shortly after midnight Satan took the stage, and proceeded to fly through a set that included old favorites from 1983’s Court in the Act as well as plenty of highlights from Life Sentence. One of the first things I noticed was that lead singer Brian Ross has maintained most of his vocal range in the decades that have passed since the group broke up in the late 80s. His main pitch is a bit gruffer compared to some of the other heavy metal singers out there, but he is able to head into higher falsettos that instantly grab your attention with their power. Vocals alone can’t carry a heavy metal band (although they can definitely ruin a live performance if the singer can’t stay in tune), and the rest of Satan were up to the task. Compared to some of the other NWOBHM groups from the same time period, these guys showcased a bit more technical ability and that was definitely still true of the material on Life Sentence. In a live setting the instrumentalists are able to perfectly replicate these tracks, and watching them fly through each of these songs without missing a note left a lasting impression on me. I can also appreciate the fact that they were given the time to shine too, as Satan worked the instrumental track “The Ritual” into their set and let the guitars take over. Sometimes reunited heavy metal bands can be hit or miss, as they don’t always have the same level of energy or ability that they had in their prime, but these guys put on a performance that didn’t let up for a single second. As far as this particular genre goes, I’m not sure I’ll see a better set this year and can only hope that Satan will return to the U.S. again soon for a lengthier tour so that more people will get the chance to experience what they have to offer.







Extermination Angel-
Cemetery Piss-

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