2009 October 30 @ Parkside, San Francisco, CA
If I liked this kind of music, I would call it a good set. It was metal, but hardly a genre that draws as much attention today that it may have about a decade or more ago. The music was well-played, but the vocals were really annoying. I just can’t appreciate vocalists who remind me of Rage Against The Machine, Korn, or Pennywise, and that’s kind of what they made me think of. Now, if you want to listen to these significant, yet passé bands and their barking singers, you only need to play to an old album that may have meant a ton to you in junior high — or go to a Divine Heresy show. I, for one, don’t want to hear any of it. Out with the old, and in with the new. I wouldn’t be so harsh if it weren’t for the fact that along with the band’s barking vocalist, after the set they went back to their merch area and promoted some clothing company that basically focused more on hot chicks than the band logo itself. I always imagine metal bands as being apathetic to marketing aside from the barebones essentials of saying, “Cool, thanks,” when someone purchases a T-shirt. This band may be a great group for a specific fanbase, but I can’t really speak for them. And seeing that most Divine Heresy fans left as soon as their set did, I think the music exists within a limited scope. Maybe I’m being harsh. Maybe there just wasn’t enough long hair and Satanism.
Secrets Of The Moon
So let us now move onto what I consider to be the metal highlight of the night, week, and even month. Secrets Of The Moon traveled all the way from Germany to present the most seemingly subtle, yet hard and forceful set that any lover of black metal could ask for. The band, with three men and one woman, were all dressed down. They looked the part but had no frills. As the set commenced, the vocalist, guitarist and bassist stood with their backs to the audience. Everyone got kind of excited about this. Even though we had seen their faces while they set up the stage, the element of mystery is still essential to the success of the show. While remaining very still, they played a slow, bleak melody. All I could see was their impressively long hair. By the time they faced the audience, the music was much faster, angrier, and very impressive.
Throughout the set, the music never strayed from a solid black metal foundation, though had its own imperative message to relay. The music was not simple, but it was certainly stripped down to what the band chose to relay to its listeners — which I believe can be unearthed in their lyrics. Though I don’t really know what they mean specificially, I am pretty sure these guys are disappointed with the state of humanity in more ways than one. Secrets Of The Moon are fast, sad, angry, Satanic and very polite on and off stage. They are also really good at headbanging in unison, and more than that, they are excellent musicians. The drummer, Thrawn Thelemnar, though using what looked to be the venue’s drum kit, displayed tremendous virtuosity. He didn’t waste his time with florid frills, but rather played very steady, yet complex beats. He had an endless supply of energy and even struck a pose for me to photograph him in. The other band members were talented as well. Secrets Of The Moon deserves reverence and support from the metal community. If you have a chance to see them as they continue their U.S. tour, I highly recommend checking them out and purchasing their latest album, Privilegivm.
I’m just going to dive in. Portugal’s Moonspell are so cheesy, but in such an epic way that I couldn’t stop gawking. I don’t know if I am crossing lines when I suggest that this band had some serious Latino machismo. When you add this to the inherent machismo seen in metal musicians, they exceed the max measurement on my macho scale. At this point in the evening, the audience was almost entirely Latino. They were yelling and cheering, they were chanting, they were arm and arm, screaming, “Te amo, man!” to each other and then moments later they’d start shoving each other around in a manly frenzy. Obviously, Moonspell has magical abilities, seeing that they were able to invoke this behavior in audience members who had previously been a docile, beer sipping crowd.
Moonspell are a big deal. In other countries, they fill much larger venues. They are pretty huge, and they represent a sizeable influence on contemporary metal. Nonetheless, they are still kind of cheesy. Unlike Secrets Of The Moon, Moonspell’s band members are exhibitionists. There wear wallet chains, eye liner, those weird goth/raver pants with the chain links hanging off of them, fingerless gloves, and headscarves. They do power lunges, they have emotional faces, they use synthesizers, and they have a preoccupation with the Roman Catholic Church. Moonspell had their own illuminating slide show/video superimposed on the wall behind them. The imagery plus their logo, which is a dark, sad and benevolent Mary figure cradling an animal skull, cements their probable attachment to metal music that challenges and subverts the roots of Catholicism. That’s totally cool… but the cheesiness was still integral to every aspect of the set. I honestly think that there’s no way this band isn’t good; it just has to be up to the fan. For your convenience, I have created a checklist to help you decide if Moonspell’s right for you.
1) Are you a teenager or a teenage angst-ridden adult?
2) Are you kind of goth, but still appreciate metal?
3) Are you a gamer and/or roleplayer?
4) Do you like wearing eye liner and making clinking sounds when you walk?
5) Do you like lunging while holding your hands in desperation up to the sky?
If you answered yes to any of the questions, this band’s for you.