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Heavy Enlightenment: Behemoth, Septic Flesh, Lightning Swords of Death @ Slim's, 1/17/10

January 18, 2010

I’m driving back to SF from LA on about 5 hours of sleep, which is actually pretty normal for me, but nonetheless it led me into a long span of introspection on the open road. What am I doing with my life? I’m on the final countdown for an age milestone….and I’m following bands around at an increasing rate. Will I ever settle down? Am I being silly? WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?????

Luckily the road ended and I had little time to change clothes and get to the venue for my second evening with Behemoth. I can’t wait to see the bands in my hometown venue, which is about a third of the size of the previous night’s House of Blues. I run into Photo Ray, who’s dealing with photo pass issues, and get into the long line. The two people who happen to get behind me I had stood with at last year’s Satyricon show, so we geeked out on how awesome it was to meet Frost. We identified the smallish bus out front as Behemoth’s- the woman working the door made a comment, ‘it’s smaller than most buses, but I think where they come from in Poland, you know, life is harder’. OK. Once inside, I was still able to procure ‘my spot’ at Slim’s….phew.

I enjoyed the Lightning Swords of Death set more than the previous night- probably because I saw the whole thing. The vocalist practically does a backbend as he growls into the microphone. But the star is probably the bassist, who has a pretty chaotic playing style, highlighted by his solo. Yes- a bass solo- that’s something you don’t see every day. I’m interested to see what happens with this band- they are getting great exposure from this tour, and I think they could benefit from a longer set at a smaller club.


I’m watching Septic Flesh set up since I can easily see behind the screen that descends at Slim’s between sets. Both Fotis and Inferno set up their own kits with a little assistance- it’s always amazing for me to watch that stuff being put together. I don’t know shit about drums, so it’s magic to me. The backtracks for the symphonic elements are queued up on a Mac sitting beside Fotis. The band comes out and they play a little of ‘Anubis’ to soundcheck, which is kind of weird to hear the song before it’s actually part of the set. The tech mic checks with his heavy Greek accent….LOVE that accent. And then it begins. It’s amazing how much more intimate this show was compared to the HoB show- even though Slim’s actually had a barrier up for it. The crowd was really going off for them- which impressed me since it seems like awareness for this band is kind of low. I was wrapped up in Seth’s graceful power again, and Fotis’ drumming…..though the guitarist blocked my view most of the time. Oh well. As I drummed along with my hands on the rail, I felt a fair amount of pain…..I’m bruised from doing so the night before. Didn’t stop me from continuing the rest of the night…..today I have swollen hands. Highlights were ‘Persepolis’, ‘Anubis’, and ‘Communion’.


Video from Bay Area Metal Scene:

Between the sets, I got a text from my mom: ‘are you ok?’ Oops, I forgot to call her in my rush home, and Sundays are the days when I’m supposed to check in. I text back, ‘sorry, I had two Behemoth shows this weekend, and I drove back and forth to LA’, to which she replies, ‘have fun!’. Yes, my mom knows Behemoth- I traveled to San Antonio, near where my parents live, to see Behemoth last year, and I showed her my photographs after. After the initial ‘Jamie, those guys are scary!’ reaction, she immediately justified it by saying that it makes sense that I’m into them because I was obsessed with Conan and He-Man when I was a kid. OK, I’ll buy that.

The vocalist for LSOD stands next to me by the stage- he’s operating the fog machine. The two guys behind me start chatting him up, and I’m eavesdropping on his thoughts on the LA crowd being better than SF for their set, when they usually encounter the opposite. They go on to chat about his satanic practice and theories, the tour, etc…it was an interesting conversation to overhear. The guys can see Inferno setting up his drums, and one of them asks me what happened to the paint. I let them know the corpse paint will still be there, no worries, they had it on last night. “You travel with the band?!” No, I travel for the band. Then I find out not only is it their first Behemoth show, but it’s one guy’s first show EVER. I start majorly tripping out on this, which embarrasses him. He’s 19, and he thinks I’m 22……which was great even if it was a terrible lie. Thank you for that.

A perk of standing where I always do at Slim’s is watching the band come up the stairs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s my favorite part of shows- that fleeting moment where the band is about to take the stage. There’s excitement, an element of the unknown, but a promise of the epic, and that moment is the crux of the evening.

As soon as ‘Ov Fire and The Void’ starts, I can’t believe how quiet it is. I mean, I’ve encountered this issue many times at Slim’s, but didn’t find it noticeable for the first two bands. But I could easily talk to the person next to me, which upset me a lot. Oh well, I’m glad the sound blew me away the night before.

Video from Bay Area Metal Scene:

So I’m getting into my zone when Nergal comes over to my corner of the stage and I got the stare. Now, I’m not one of those people who ever goes ‘he was looking at me!!!!’ or whatever, and Nergal does this to pretty much everyone in the front and center. But it had never happened to me before. And who knows, he could have been looking over my head. But the point is, that 10 seconds seemed like an eternity. I froze like a deer in headlights, I got goosebumps, and then I just cracked a big smile. And he nodded and walked back to the center. To gain composure, I thought of this. That’s his fiance….and that video makes me giggle. He did it again one more time towards the end of the evening, and it completely freaked me out. That’s when I realized that Behemoth has power over me.

I could see Inferno really well tonight. He makes the most hilarious faces while he’s playing- like he’s eaten something bitter. I don’t get how someone can be that coordinated and fast- his four appendages stay a blur. Also, he must be able to apply his paint really quickly considering he’s not wearing it when he’s setting his drums up moments before he comes out. And I don’t know what they use, but he wipes sweat off his face between songs and the paint stays intact. It’s just all a mystery.

I can barely look at Orion without blushing, so I didn’t really. However, in my line of sight for Inferno was often his bicep. At first, I thought he had a tattoo of Jason from Friday the 13th that was mostly obscured by paint. But upon closer examination I realized with about 90% certainty that it was HANNIBAL FUCKING LECTER. Silence of the Lambs is one of my favorite movies- I went to school with the original intention of being a Clarice Starling because I was so obsessed with the film. Anyway, I thought it was unbelievably cool- though when I excitedly told my girlfriend about it this morning I think she thought I might need to get my head checked.

Tonight Nergal did a lot more talking- instructing the crowd to spread the word of the band and metal, some anti-religion remarks, thanking everyone, and talked about this being the first proper Behemoth headlining tour. He did not tear up a bible tonight, however. This is one example of why I like to go to multiple shows….yeah, the setlist was the same, but the act, the place- it was all different.

While the Evangelion and Demigod songs are generally the best in the set, over these two shows I rediscovered my love for ‘As Above So Below‘. What a killer riff and beat that song has.

There’s a guy that comes over the rail, and Nergal reaches out his fist but the guy can’t reach it as security is putting him down. That guy fought to try to re-engage in that fist bump until security had to drag him out of there.

The set is ending. There’s a small break before ‘Lucifer’, and Orion is standing at the top of the stairs. This guy pushes past me to yell at him, ‘Orion is GOD’ over and over…..hahaha wow. ‘Lucifer’ is such an awesome final song- not only is it the last track on Evangelion– but the way they perform it is fucking epic. They have such an economy of movement- much of it is them standing there like statues, only their fingers moving to play. And they just stare. Compared to the opening chaos in ‘Ov Fire and The Void’, it’s almost like the set works backwards in energy from most….and I love that it is constructed this way.

I got sad the moment they left the stage. I wish I could go to more shows this tour, but their schedule is really short. I went and bought a poster, and contemplated sticking around to see if they came out at the end. But I decided that Behemoth might be a band I should never meet. There’s a part of me that- even though I’ve seen them sans make-up eating backstage at Mayhem– pretends they are inhuman, frozen in ice between sets and defrosted and unleashed upon the world to rock the stage in the evenings.

When I left, it was raining, and it fit the evening perfectly.

See Photo Ray’s pics here.

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