Thursday, August 23, 2007
Devotees of death metal have something to drool over on Monday at Jaxx. The club presents five purveyors of the intense speed, precision and all-around ghastliness that represents the emerging underground of extreme heavy metal music. Even those not inclined to spend the first evening of the work week being bludgeoned by blast beats might have their curiosity piqued by the peculiarity of the influences that the night's two headliners bring to the stage.
After all, how many opportunities are there to witness a band from South Carolina that has spent its entire career producing songs almost exclusively about Egyptian mythology, and a band from Taiwan that uses its country's native myths to make political commentary? The two groups, Nile and ChthoniC, are taking advantage of an off night from the current Ozzfest tour's second stage to rock Springfield.
Nile was formed in Greenville, S.C., in 1993, and under the leadership of songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Karl Sanders, the group has released five studio albums focused on ancient Egypt's religion, history and art with a decidedly death metal emphasis on stories of carnage and undead gods rising to seek revenge.
Despite such overwrought song titles as "Chapter of Obeisance Before Giving Breath to the Inert One Under the Presence of the Crescent Shaped Horns" and "Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks," Sanders seems to know his stuff and to be well studied on the Egyptian mythology. Nile's latest album, "Ithyphallic," was released last month.
ChthoniC (pronounced THON-ik) gets its name from a Greek word, meaning to pertain to the gods and spirits of underworld. The band, however, is 100 percent Taiwanese and is the first Asian band invited to participate in the annual Ozzfest. Banned in parts of China for its outspoken political views but very popular in Taiwan, ChthoniC -- led by vocalist Freddie Lim -- like Nile, focuses its lyrics on myths, but those of its own country.
The two bands have more in common than they don't (they respectively incorporate traditional Egyptian and Taiwanese instrumentation, for instance) but still come from two distinct subgenres of extreme metal. Nile's death metal is almost utterly devoid of melody with the genus's trademark growled vocals. ChthoniC embraces black metal's willingness to experiment more with melody and place a greater emphasis on the visual aspects of performance; the band members wear the subgenre's customary face paint.
The death and black metal subgenres are descended from the most extreme form of the speed and thrash metal music of the 1980s, as created by bands such as Slayer. The evolutionary principle is the idea that if fast and violent are good, faster and brutal would be better.
Monday's roster of opening bands includes local extreme metal bands Dead Syndicate, Azrael and Aeturnus Animus.
-- C. WOODROW IRVIN
Tickets are $22 in advance or $25 the day of the show. 703-432-7328 orhttp://www.ticketmaster.com. Jaxx is at 6355 Rolling Rd., West Springfield. For more information call 703-569-5940 or visithttp://www.jaxxroxx.com.