Sometimes, really good shows occur deep in the underground. For example, Profound Lore Records' recent acquisition of Atriarch and issuance of the band’s second album, Ritual Of Passing, has resulted in a small tour through the central and western states.
Officially, no other bands were in tow with Atriarch, but, Los Angeles, lately, has exhibited a plethora of excellent, up and coming acts across a myriad of genres. Backing up Atriarch at the strangely named Boom Tomb Room (actually, nothing more than an American Legion Hall in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles) were locals Pendulous, Iron Mtn., and Doctorshopper.
Due to unforeseen complications, my companions and I missed virtually the entire set from Pendulous as we walked in during the closing moments, but what I did hear seemed to be mildly pleasing stoner/doom. My curiosity was piqued, though, as I realized that Pendulous’ vocalist does double duty as the vocalist in Icon Of Phobos, a local black metal band that I happened to catch opening for VON at the Black Castle a few weeks back. Considering that Icon Of Phobos blew the doors off the place, investigating Pendulous further has risen higher on my priority list.
Playing for about a half hour or so, Iron Mtn. demonstrated a great deal of potential as Carlson quickly emerged as the best musician in the group. Iron Mtn. were also the easiest band of the night to photograph, by the way, as they happened to bring their own lights. No one else used any lights.
Playing for about a half hour, Doctorshopper started out very strong with interesting songwriting replete with variety and a dark atmosphere. However, wading deeper into the set, they became a bit monotonous with a feeling of “sameness” to both their sound and their repertoire of songs. I suspect, however, that with a bit more work, Doctorshopper’s take on blackened punk/sludge could be quite interesting.
The two albums differ in sound, with Forever The End being a haunting form of funeral doom with muted, reverb emphasized vocals. On the other hand, the recently released Ritual Of Passing sounds a bit like a blackened version of Celtic Frost combined with the sounds of deathrock band Christian Death.
Strangely, both versions of Atriarch showed up this evening, as a great deal of Ritual Of Passing was played, but wholly with the reverb laden vocals typical of those on Forever The End, a cacophony of deep howls and wails from vocalist Lenny Smith.
Atriarch were devastatingly heavy and, most impressive of all, the drums of Maxamillion really stood out as an anchor to the band’s live sound and atmospheric presentation. Maxamillion’s drumming is mesmerizing, an interesting mix of drone, off kilter time changes, and patterns that lend dynamic qualities to Atriarch, a quality that is hard to capture in funeral doom.
As mentioned, with the exception of Iron Mtn., this show was played in nearly complete darkness. A few photographers were using flash during various sets, but I did not out of respect for what each band was attempting to achieve. As a result, my best pictures are best described, to be kind, as “atmospheric.”