The 2014 Metal Alliance Tour: Behemoth, Goatwhore and 1349 @ The House of Blues, Hollywood. 4-5-14.
This epic pairing of black metal-ish bands from around the globe (Poland, USA, Norway and Columbia respectively) served as an early highlight for 2014. Even though I'm a huge fan of both Goatwhore and 1349, this night was really all about the return of Behemoth. Yes, it's been about 6 years since my last Behemoth show. I've always enjoyed the band live before, but somewhere around the release of The Apostasy, I started feeling like the band had hit a plateau. I stopped rushing to see them on every tour and then Nergal's epic battle with cancer took the band out of commission for a while. Long story short, this was my first time seeing the band in what felt like forever and I was curious to see how Behemoth 2.0 would deliver.
I'm glad to report that newly rejuvenated Behemoth did not disappoint. Supporting their new album The Satanist, their strongest album since 2004's Demigod IMO, the band damn near ripped the sold out House of Blues a new skylight. The band opened with "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel," and the capacity crowd went bonkers. Behemoth seem to have taken a cue from their black metal roots, you know...before they transitioned into a tech death juggernaut in the 2000s, since their new material is far more streamlined than their most recent albums but also, far more impassioned. Sure, Inferno isn't pushing tempos past the speed of sound on their new songs, but they still rock pretty hard. In fact, both the crowd and the band's energy level were higher than I've ever seen at previous Behemoth shows. The setlist might have had something to do with that, sandwiching fan favorites like "Conquer All" and "Christians to the Lions" in between the foot stomping/headbanging friendly jams off The Satanist. Hats off to Nergal and his merry men, dudes know how to put on one hell of a show.
Goatwhore and 1349 were cool as well even though they both had technical problems with their sound. 1349 was a blur of noise. That's kind of the appeal of their whirlwind black metal approach but the guitar was way too low in the mix and as much as I love the drums, I do like to hear other instruments also. I guess Frost was busy with Satyricon or had more visa issues, either way home boy wasn't playing drums with 1349 (yet again =/) but his replacement did a pretty solid job. I've never seen Goatwhore receive such a large and enthused reaction before in 10+ years I've been following the band. It seems that the streamlined rock n roll vibe of their last two albums has finally garnered them the fanbase they've always deserved. Sure I'd have loved to hear some more older jams in their set, but the crowd seriously loved the shit out of their performance. It almost seemed like THEY were the headliners at one point. Unfortunately, Sammy had some issues with his guitar that ate a few minutes of their allotted time and put a fat lull in the middle of their otherwise, high octane set. I was also bummed I missed Inquisition, but again, this night was all about Behemoth anyways.