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The Mental Tyrant: Yob, Norska, Cormorant @ Down and Out, 9/20/12

September 22, 2012

Down & Out in downtown Los Angeles.

I’m loving living in LA. And I’m reminded of this tonight, as I drive from the sunshiny sprawling seduction of Hollywood to the gritty anti-glam of downtown. We round the corner of the Down & Out, and the entire street is full of production crew trucks. Typical.

The guy searching my bag asks me with a glint in his eye if I have anything freaky in there. I manage to say no while realizing that his definition of freaky and mine are probably much different.

Amidst the mug shot addled walls, Cormorant is already playing on stage. Their “anti-formulaic” metal transcends. I was so excited to see these guys again because they were a band I was just getting into as I moved away from their homeland, the Bay Area. Their music is pensive and contemplative: at times, it’s angry on a fundamental, evidence-based level, at others, romantic on a deliberate, life-meaning level. There is not an inkling of frivolity anywhere. And to add to the, for lack of a better word, epic-ness of their sound, I stood to the side in front of a giant fan that was dramatically blowing my hair all over the place.

Read the most articulate interview I’ve ever done with Cormorant’s Arthur Von Nagel here.

I had not listened to Norska before coming here, but I was immediately enthralled. I recognized the bassist as the same from Yob. Their sound: desperate, hallowed vocals over trudging doom, is like two sticky layers being pulled apart in different directions. I love that kind of conflict of sound. To me, doom metal is very visual. It always places me in a house haunted with horrible memories, and makes me trek down dark halls full of spider webs with one solitary bare bulb burning in my hand. But as a consequence of being in these halls, embraced by this music, I am commiserating. I am not alone.

The last time I saw Yob was in the strange setting of a SXSW showcase. They blew me away. Unfortunately tonight I didn’t have that sort of experience, but it was of no discredit to the band. The Down & Out stage makes it kind of hard to see once it gets crowded, the crowd had some strange, distracting individuals in it, and, nearing 1am, my brain was turning into a pureed pumpkin. That said, their set seamlessly followed what Norska had laid the foundation for. The entire thing reminded me of the book I’m finally almost finished with- House of Leaves. I was in a trance, one that was only broken by the bass going out at a critical moment during The Mental Tyrant (Part 2). A doom trio without bass is like someone turning the lights on before you’re ready in the morning. I always have a good time watching fans up front lose their minds, and this was aplenty this evening. Yob are tickets to religious experiences to many. I wish that I were able to buy one that night, but it wasn’t in the cards for me. Maybe next time.

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