The Shop is a bit of a rare bird in North Davidson; like most of the local clubs it's nested in the remnants of the neighborhood's old textile area – in this case a repurposed warehouse – but there's an obvious lack of the sort of cookie-cutter gentrification that generally pervades the area. It's run by a co-op of locals, and boasts a distinctly eclectic feel that carries over to the venue's musical presentations. The Chop Shop was home to the closest date of Pittsburgh fantasy metal band Dethlehem's current tour, and, as this is an act I've been raving about for months, I simply had to go.
As I said, it was a very guitar-heavy bill. I missed most of both early openers' sets – GA's thrash-punkers Don’t Pet Hatchet and local doom outfit Stronghold Crusader – but did manage to catch a blistering performance by NIHM, a Buffalo NY-based 3-piece that relocated to Concord over a decade ago. This is a crew whose final number, a cover of the Beastie's "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)," was worth the price of admission alone.
Hitting all the high points of The Ghorusalem Codex, Vol 2: Of Magick & Tyranny – save, perhaps, its lengthy midpoint "Spelljammer" – the band ably combined swords and sorcery with elements of thrash and death metal to create the most epic concert experience this side of GWAR. With new lead vocalist Brutalitus the BloodBeard leading the charge cuts like "Circle of Deth" managed to turn a meager audience into a singular engine of boot-stomping D&D destruction. Overlord Brom's thunderous double-bass kept perfect pace among the screaming harmonics of axe-men Hildor and Bovice on joints like "Sky Palace of the Dragonriders," and guest keyboardist Allie Oxenblood (who also provided a third layer of vocal harmonies and a dash of fire eating) thickened up the mix nicely.
It was that rare event where the band on-stage and the gathering crowd both seemed to be enjoying themselves to the fullest. Many swords were swung, much alcohol was consumed and, hopefully, many t-shirts and custom dice were purchased.
tour in two weeks, but with upcoming stops in Ohio, Wisconsin and Maryland, I imagine many of you still have the opportunity to see them perform. If this brings them within driving distance, I highly recommend that you check 'em out. The sheer strength of their performance and their wonderfully outlandish stage presence is only outmatched by how truly personable the guys are while having drinks and snapping photos with the fans.
Big ups to my boys Seamonkey, Sean, Brad and Sy for kicking it with me at the show, and sincerest of thanks to the whole Dethlehem family for assuring that I and everyone else at the Chop Shop had a night of unabashed metal majesty.