Musket King, Skynoceros, & Greevace: Nov 20 in Charlotte
Driving to The Station (Charlotte, NC), I turned on SiriusXM, switching between Liquid Metal, Octane, and Ozzy’s Boneyard. The Melvins came on. Rage Against the Machine. Corrosion of Conformity. Mastodon. The title song from Venom’s Welcome to Hell, which I hadn’t heard in probably fifteen years. Celtic Frost, “Circle of the Tyrants.” Overkill, “Bring Me the Night.” Some of this stuff sounds pretty dated to me, but the nihilism, the self-loathing manifesting in such an unrestrained fuck you, that cathartic rage directed at the entirety of existence but nothing and no one in particular, it’s timeless. Is it any surprise that Satan would be adopted as rock’s patron antihero? Satan, the quintessential underdog, the rebel ousted from the kingdom by his autocratic sire. Rock and roll’s unofficial logo is a middle finger flashing at the father—the biological father, the theological father, and the father as a metaphor for the rules, mores, and assumptions we inherit through direct transmission and constant conditioning. More than anything, perhaps, rock music, particularly harder rock, is liberating as it invites us to transcend, even for a moment, the established order as it’s found its place within our own minds and lives, providing respite from the repetitiveness of earthly existence, the predictability of our obedient selves.
When I arrived at The Station, Musket King was halfway into their set. I could feel the bass throbbing in my sternum. The bass drum was like a sledgehammer in my ribcage. The volume and sheer intensity of the music felt like a wake-up call. This is a bass and drums-driven band. The two guitarists created walls of trebly and atmospheric sound, alternately grounded in compelling riffs and rapid strums; sometimes harmonizing with each other, sometimes playing the same parts. Musket King’s music is stentorian and aggressive, indicative of a band that has thoughtfully mined the thrash lineage, occasionally integrating sounds that reminded me of Zeppelin and hardcore punk, along with sprinklings of death metal reminiscent of a band like Carcass. Melodies and vocals displayed definite pop sensibilities; i.e., Five Finger Death Punch or Disturbed. Strong set, tight band, high energy.
Otis Hughes currently plays with three diverse bands (that I know of): M4Messenger (classic/hard rock), Poor Blue (blues/roots rock; read review here: http://nodepression.com/album-review/poor-blue-tradition-and-innovation), and Jason Herring & the Mystery Plan (retro/dream pop). Skynoceros, his latest involvement, certainly adds another approach to his repertoire, at times showcasing pop and pop-funk elements that reminded me of Jane’s Addiction or The Red Hot Chili Peppers, though this five-piece more consistently mines the dark and weighty psychedelia of Alice in Chains or Black Sabbath. Otis Hughes’ vocal, ranging from breathy to a raspy growl, reminded me at different times of Layne Staley, Axl Rose, Lemmy Kilmister, and, in brief passages, Chris Cornell. Skynoceros struck me as a guitar-driven band, dual guitarists mostly playing different and complementary parts—melodies, riffs, and alternate chordal voicings. This is a heavy act, yet one that integrates subtle textures and nuancing, more grounded in the hard-rock than thrash tradition, moving fluidly from the sludgy soundscapes of a group like Kyuss to the more progressive bents of bands like the quirky Primus or atmospheric Tool. Energetic show, instrumental and vocal range, intriguing lyrics.
The third band that played, the three-piece Greevace, is riff-driven and loud, at times hitting on progressions that reminded me of Pantera or the harsher elements of NIN (various tracks from Broken and/or The Downward Spiral). In terms of the “Big Four,” all of which came occasionally to mind during Greevace’s set, I’d connect this band more immediately to Anthrax or Slayer than Metallica or Megadeth. Ultimately they sound more “next generation” to me, perhaps drawing from bands such as Pig Destroyer or Vision of Disorder, though the singer’s vocal was consistently more melodic, reminding me somehow of a mix between Ozzy and Jonathan Davis from Korn. Greevace has a polished and distinct sound, as if they’ve played together for some time. Tight band, seamless set, dynamic instrumental interplays, especially for a three-piece.
When I got in the car, my head was spinning, both from the music and the two Red Bulls I’d consumed. I drove through the fairly empty streets of Charlotte with the windows down, the music off. I briefly considered turning onto Independence Blvd and driving to the beach, watching the sun rise in Wilmington. Then I was home. I crawled into bed and lay face-up for at least an hour, eyes wide open, snippets from the evening’s music pounding in my head. Eventually I fell asleep. When I woke, earlier than I would have liked, I recalled having a dream about snake-handling, staring into the eyes of these long, orange vipers. A man with bushy white hair, dressed in a white tuxedo, was yelling lottery numbers through a bullhorn. I’m pretty sure that a Morbid Angel medley was playing in the background. David Fincher, or David Lynch for that matter, couldn’t have choreographed the scene any better. Perfect ending to Nov 20, iffy way to begin Nov 21.