Infernal Awakening and Casket Birth, Space Smoke Shop, Sunday, June 1

Joshua Levine

Casket Birth seems to have taken the most extreme sub-genres of metal as far as they can realistically go. The bass-less trio played one rant after another, mixing blast beats played faster than a programmed drum machine could reproduce and scooped-toned guitar lines that disintegrated into atonal white noise. Most startling were the vocals of Khaine (no last names allowed), not too far removed from black metal's standard bark but punctuated with more echo than most of King Tubby's records played concurrently. In tandem with the venue's dim lighting and overworked fog machines, Khaine reached the music's logical endpoint—a caged animal screaming into an abyss that wouldn't respond to or validate his anger, as an unmoved audience assumed the role of voyeurs. The inarticulate lexicon of metal-speak might call this the outraged ramblings against a society of nothingness. However, at a certain point the question is raised of whether this void creates bands like Casket Birth or do bands like Casket Birth create and flourish in this void? I do know that I've never witnessed a performer who appeared so completely and utterly alone as I stood just a few feet away from him.

One of Khaine's occasional between-song tirades was about how, at past shows in other venues, his band has been unfairly instructed to turn down the volume to appease bar customers. While I'm no expert in booking acts, it does seem unlikely that a group called Casket Birth would be accidentally booked at the local supper club, which means that they would normally be in a situation where they're preaching to their own choir. By the time the set ended with a haunting, markedly slow and unforgettable song, the audience was told to "stick around for Infernal Fucking Awakening," the contradictions found in Casket Birth's anger rendered it suspect.

Conversely, Infernal Fucking Awakening was one dimensional. A recent review of their new album focused on the band's "evil" sound, and boy, that summed Infernal Awakening up. It was evil how the band's set-up time was almost as long as their performance. It was evil how the bassist and frontman both put on matching spiked armbands simultaneously. The animal skulls adorned with pentagrams and lit candles on microphone stands and the Liberace-esque ivory tickling were very evil. I hope this band is comprised of actual Satanists, because fake devil worshipping would be clearly devoid of evil.

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