I have a philosophy about Sunday night shows. If I'm gonna skulk into work on Monday morning with a hangover, I'd better have a bangover to match. That way I know it was worth it. Superchrist, to put it succinctly, was worth it.
Local NWOBHM champions Lady Beast opened the show. Lady Beast is good, old-fashioned heavy metal with obvious nods to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, though singer Deb Levine's clean soaring vocal acrobatics bear a striking resemblance to Ronnie James Dio. I once saw someone bribe a karaoke DJ to let Levine sing after all the spots were filled for the night, which should give some idea of how incredible she is. The song "Lady Beast" was the highlight of a generally killer set – here's hoping their forthcoming record is self-titled, for the full "Black Sabbath"/ Black Sabbath/Black Sabbath effect.
The mini-showcase of Pittsburgh talent continued with Absyme. The three-piece combines the catchy thrashiness of Celtic Frost and the blasting brutality of Incantation -- plus they've got those hooks to keep you coming back for more, and an underlying groove that muddies the mind and could probably causes innocent maidens to falter -- if there was every one in attendance (hey-oh!). Abysme never fails to deliver a crushing, performance, but this was the best, heaviest showing by them I'd seen in awhile.
Despite the fact that they've been around for more than a decade, and boast a relatively extensive catalogue, I'd only heard a few tracks from Chicago's Superchrist prior to actually seeing them. However, they won me over with their punk-tinged motör-metal almost instantly. In a genre with its share of posturing, it's always refreshing to see a band playing bare-bones, bullshit –free heavy music, without losing an ounce of intelligence or badass awesomeness. Singer Chris Black may share Lemmy's husky intonation, but he projects a lucid air of not-giving-a-fuck that almost, almost makes Lemmy look like a high-maintenance rock star.
The band didn't make it through one song before drummer Ian Sugierski busted a snare head, and Black filled the brief lull by asking the midsize crowed how church was that morning. Most of Black's between-song banter was as smirkingly ironic and sharp as you might expect from someone with a record called South of Hell. If Superchrist was a high school student, it would be the dude in the leather jacket who never raises his hand, even though he knows all the answers. Highlights included "Beer Metal" –a song that seems to sum up Superchrist's ethos and – to my ears – a winking nod to Venom, and the sinister "Make You Famous," which is still stuck in my head. A great time was had by all – not even an unrelated near-bar fight could dampen spirits. The next morning, in addition to my aforementioned bangover, my face was a little sore from grinning.