Everyone loves a good story. Beyond a simple conveyance of information— stories educate, entertain, and most importantly, inspire our imagination. While there are many types of stories and almost as many ways to tell them, my favorite is a summertime classic; the scary campfire story. Elevated by spooky lighting, unfamiliar location, and smores-induced anxiety, morbid tales of hooks left in car door handles have been making kids wet their sleeping bags ever since people started camping for fun. Metal music is certainly no stranger to scary stories, but few bands are as adept at spinning gleefully gore-soaked yarns as legendary “Murder Metal” pioneers Macabre, who stopped in at Montreal’s L’Escogriffe this past Sunday after their headlining performance at Grind Your Mind Open Air Festival the day before.
While Drummondville grind freaks L’Habit me Suce le Moine were originally slated to kick off the evening’s entertainment, a last minute medical emergency ceded the opening slot to mysterious local trio Gorelvsh. I say “mysterious” because, despite my best “Old Guy on the Internet” efforts, I could not find any evidence of this band’s existence. This wouldn’t be strange if Gorelvsh had sounded at all amateurish or unsure, possible evidence of a relatively new group taking their first crack at playing live; however, the band I saw was comprised of highly talented musicians who were clearly very comfortable performing together. Blending Dillinger Escape Plan–esque angular complexity with punk snarl and groovy riffs reminiscent of Mutoid Man, Gorelvsh may not have been what the death metal/grindcore crowd at L’Esco were expecting, but they were one of the most fun and most unique local bands I’ve seen in a good while. Fellas, get a goddamn website (or please direct me to the one I was unable to find!).
Next up were Montreal death grinders Patent. While first impressions may have lead new listeners to think we were in for a furious, if straightforward, grind assault, Patent quickly proved they had more than a few tricks up their sleeves, delivering a kaleidoscopic mix of meat-and-potatoes brutality and audacious, proggy weirdness. Blistering blast beat passages would abruptly resolve into satisfying slam/deathcore-style breakdowns that would otherwise come off as a bit forced or overly obvious if it weren’t for the nuanced melodic intricacy supplied by guitarist Samy Ouazzani-Chahdi and bassist Simon Petit. Vocalist Maxime Brault’s tortured shriek was a superb accompaniment to Patent’s brand of fire and fury, but when he hauled out a tambourine and danced jauntily across the stage while the band broke into a mid-song funk jam, it was apparent these folks understood a fundamentally important truth; bring brutal is one thing, but if you’re not having fun, what the fuck is the point?
After a quick mission to A&W to refuel and cool down (the temperature inside of L’Esco in the summer typically rests somewhere between “fuck you” and “lol, you’re dead,”) I returned just as Macabre took the stage. The band began in traditional fashion with lead singer/guitarist Corporate Death (AKA Lance Lencioni) regaling the enraptured crowd with the gruesome, true crime details of the music to come before launching into “Zodiac.” For those unfamiliar, almost all of Macabre’s songs have a strong lyrical focus on real life mass murders and serial killers and contain historically accurate and highly disturbing details about their subject’s respective crimes. “Nero’s Inferno” details the Roman emperor‘s predilection for carving the genitals off of crucified Christians, while “Scrub a Dub Dub” details an account of Jeffery Dahmer showering with the bodies of his victims. What sets Macabre’s performance apart from other gore-obsessed metal acts like Cannibal Corpse or Exhumed is Corporate Death’s gleeful, campfire-style storytelling introducing each song, lending an air of morbid playfulness to the whole affair. Macabre also set themselves apart musically; while much of their material is informed by old school grindcore, death metal, and thrash acts like Cryptic Slaughter and Napalm Death, the band occasionally goes completely off-book with bizarre folk renditions of nursery rhymes like “The Cat Came Back.” The sizable crowd was into whatever Macabre had to offer; while there was certainly some moshing, most of the crowd seemed more content to headbang and sing along to their favorite songs. While the above description might cause you to write off Macabre as some sort of gimmick, songs like “The Iceman” and crowd favorite “The Hitchhiker” showcased the band’s considerable chops, especially those of drummer Dennis The Menace (AKA Dennis Ritchie).
As someone who considers themselves a storyteller, I appreciate music with a strong, evocative narrative, even if that narrative is wrapped in human entrails. And since I have been accused of occasional long-windedness in my telling of tales (waves nervously at Bucketlist editors,) I’ll leave final impressions of this show to local scene misanthrope Luke Orr;
“If you missed this show, you fucked up.”
Written by Jesse Gainer
*edited by Mike Milito