With nothing planned for Monday night I consulted Last.fm and found a black metal gig on in NoHo. I caught the subway down to Greenwich, browsed a record store where I nearly bought a Samantha Fox 12″, ate my customary slice of pizza and then headed off to the gig (no offers of cocaine though). After my usual trick of getting slightly lost, I persisted and finally found the Lit Lounge (partly due to the obvious metalhead out the front – thanks mate). Grabbed a beer and headed down the very steep steps into the basement where the bands play. The neo martial band listed was no longer playing (fine by me) so it was just two atmospheric black metal bands with locals Yellow Eyes playing their first gig and Vattnet Viskar from New Hampshire. I even got chatted up by the obvious metalhead who it turns out was the label owner who must have taken pity on me sitting alone like a Nigel.

The venue had comfy lounges which were nice but I was nearly drifting off to sleep after some late nights of boozing and getting lost on trains. There was an odd atmosphere at the gig which despite the Venom-like music on the PA was decidedly unmetal. Maybe this was the New York hipster black metal scene I had heard much scorn about. I felt out of place wearing a metal shirt and shorts but I’m the type of idiot who enjoys feeling like the odd one out so I was fine. As the night wore on I noticed the telltale thick hipster glasses and side parts and also people who looked to be friends with the band and were just waiting for the noise to be over so they could scuttle off to consider which olde timey moustache would suit them best.

Yellow Eyes played first for about 30 minutes which was merciful of them. The music had its moments but was predominantly long songs of fast tremolo black metal. They were let down by a crap drum sound (and somewhat crap drummer) but most of all by some woefully awful vocals. On the flight over I watched a Family Guy episode which had a skit about a seagull watching an Adam Sandler movie and ruining it for the rest of the crowd with high pitch squark/laughs. That was exactly what happened with the vocals and I couldn’t think of anything but the seagull every time he sang. He seemed to actually be squawking for a whole song which appeared to only have one word lines. He also lacked the force & conviction needed for black metal vocals. Overall pretty bloody average despite a few decent passages of music.

Vattnet Viskar were the headlining band and thankfully were much more interesting. They had mastered one of the main ingredients needed for atmospheric black metal – dynamics. Where Yellow Eyes just hammered along with no change until the end of the song, Vattnet Viskar used slower sections to great effect and also managed to build songs to climaxes. They were also more animated on stage which is always a plus. One highlight for my juvenile mind was that the drummer had a big Star Wars logo tattooed on his chest along with an X-wing fighter and a TIE interceptor. After probably 40 minutes they finished with the classic rock and roll cliche of feedbacking their guitars against the amp and the lead guy ripped his strings out (or tried to) and then stood there looking stupid for another minute while the other guitarist fiddled with pedals to make his feedback even more irritating. Personally I hate such pretentious and predictable endings to sets but I’m sure was “cathartic” for them or something equally wanky. Despite the ending I was impressed with their music and bought a record of theirs and thanked Star Wars drummer on the way out.

So I survived the hipster black metal assault and thankfully didn’t have to avoid telling obvious metalhead guy that the first band (and his new signing) were dogs bollocks.

On the walk back to the station I managed to twist my ankle badly which didn’t make the rest of the trip home much fun. It was nicely swollen the next day but I’ve strapped it and will continue my metal journeys with a slight limp.

PS. I ended up buying the Samantha Fox 12″ the next day as I couldn’t resist the raunchy cover! (plus I do love that song)

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