A photographic account of heavy music in Portland, Maine
Geno’s is throwing a one-two punch this weekend.
Beginning tonight and continuing Saturday, the venerable institution is hosting two unmissable metal bills. First, a slew of out-of-towners bring the heavy. Then, Maine favorites Hessian and Holy Filth debut new material.
When it’s all over, the combined might of eight bands will have melted your face off. Stockpiling of canned beer, Tiger Balm, and Alka-Setzer is highly advised.
It’s a Boston invasion tonight as Morne and Xiphoid Dementia top a four-act bill with Ramlord and Mugwort.
This will be a first Portland appearance for Morne and Xiphoid Dementia, according to J. Morse (who is running the show under his label Last Mercy Emissions). Morne brings “apocalyptic doom,” while Xiphoid Dementia — a solo act by Egan Budd (head honcho of label Existence Establishment) — offers an “ambient/industrial soundscape,” Morse said.
Ramlord — New Hampshire’s finest band — is well known in these parts, most recently as openers for Mortals during their appearance earlier this month. Portland sludge trio Mugwort formed last summer from members of Older Men, Brother Terry, Horace and Swaath. Drummer Luke Scarborough said the band channels influences from Face Down in Shit, Neanderthal and, uh, DJ Screw.
Morne’s appearance marks the second time in 6 weeks that a Profound Lore artist has played Geno’s (Lord Mantis), which is largely coincidental Morse said.
“I’d like to say that [Geno’s] is becoming more of a destination but, in this case, this is the manifestation of a show that was to be with Morne, Sylvia and Swaath in August 2013. The show happened, but Morne unfortunately had to cancel due to their drummer’s impending knee surgery. Since then, Max Furst (bassist for Morne) and I have kept in touch via the internet. … Max got in touch in late summer and we planned this one out. So it’s been a long time in the making.”
Morse added that the show is co-presented by Grime Studios, which is in the midst of an ongoing fundraiser for a new location. There will be “freshly-printed Grime Studios t-shirts for purchase at this show,” he said.
The approximate set times are: Mugwort – 9:15-10; Ramlord – 10:15-11; Xiphoid Dementia – 11:15-11:45; and Morne – midnight-1 a.m.
Metal arrives from some far-flung locales Saturday when Natur and Ditch Witch land from NYC and Austin, Texas, respectively.
Due to the chronological structure of this concert preview, the lede has been regrettably buried. The real news is this:
Both Hessian and Holy Filth are debuting new material for Portland audiences.
Hessian guitarist/singer Angus McFarland said the band is working furiously on a followup to this year’s “Bachelor of Black Arts.” There’s already enough material for four songs, two of which have been completely fleshed out.
The band plans to debut “Hey Sister” — a song about a wayward nun’s confession to a priest — midway through their set Saturday. The song, which features vocal exchanges between McFarland and guitarist/singer Salli Wason, is a mixture of “Uriah Heep worship” and altogether unlikely influence.
“Billy Joel,” McFarland said. “The rhythm is inspired by ‘Big Shot'”
Hessian will also play “The Alchemist’s Blessing” — an older song that hasn’t been played live since bassist Dan “Legendary Lover” Rich joined the band last spring, McFarland said.
Holy Filth will be bringing a shit ton of new songs to Geno’s, according to guitarist/singer Ryan Curry. In recent months, the band has written eight new songs; four of which will be unleashed Saturday.
“[The] new stuff is less thrashy and way more riffy,” Curry said in his customary riff-speak.
The band recently finished a recording session at NEScom, including three songs for a “future split or EP.”
“We want something to have to show people where our riff spirits are at the moment until we pursue recording our first full length in 2015,” he said.
Saturday also marks the first time Holy Filth will play Portland with their new drummer Jay Cochran. Curry said the new lineup has been fruitful.
“Things with the new drummer have been going rifftastic,” he said. “Jay is more of a double-kick machine, where Ethan [Henderson] is a wild boy. Both [are] great drummers; Jay just fits the new musical direction.”
When asked if he had anything to add, Curry waxed philosophical:
Riffs are like babies. You must nurture them during all stages of growth until they prove themselves worthy of being set free upon Earth. Breathe deep and trust the riff. Let it fly, and may you soar into space upon its rifftual wing.
Portland, see you Saturday.