Every since they crept out of the shadows a decade ago, Uncle Acid and the deadbeats have done their best to at least stay partially hidden. Blood Lust put them into the metal community’s awareness and with good reason; dripping with dread and reeking of occultism, Kevin Starrs and company realized that while image is important, having well-written songs that have lasting power is critical to any band’s success. “Death’s Door,” “I’ll Cut You Down,” “Over and Over Again” all point to Starrs having dog-eared, well-worn copies of the early Sabbath records in his collection as well as more than a passing awareness of Sir Lord Baltimore and Blue Cheer. It’s worth noting that this was actually their second record; Vol. 1 was originally a micro-edition CDR and widely bootlegged until Rise Above released legit copies seven years later.
Four records later and they are still mining that territory and finding gold along the way. “Mt Abraxas” was a great opener, a doomy clarion call and the projected images of old horror clips and ceremonial debauchery fit nicely; I caught a still from City of the Dead but that’s it; any hardcore horror buffs who recognized other bits can spread their knowledge in the comments. Back to the band’s seemingly willful predilection for obscurantism, there was such little stage lighting that it took me a while to figure out that Starrs has overhauled the entire band since they last played Boston in 2015, but sonically it all held together just fine.
“Desert Ceremony” is probably my favorite song from them, the inexorable and unbending tempo of the drums portending a tale of preparing for the demise of mankind. Given the right kind of imagination and drugs, any number of horror films could be made from this song as inspiration. One song that slipped by on listens to The Night Creeper is “Slow Death” and it was also a highlight of the set. Slowing the pace and dropping the volume, the song resides in the same space of “Spirit Caravan,” on its face seemingly a slight throwaway but with repeated listening it reveals itself as one of the best songs on the record. Come feel the darkness.
King Buffalo were tour mates for this North American jaunt and this was the closing date for this run of shows. The trio from Rochester first landed on my radar screen when they opened for like-minded Elder at ONCE some years ago; that small overlapping region of a Venn Diagram where the circles are metal, psych rock and prog. The band has been busy of late, with two LPs, a 12″ and a live record issued since 2020, all self-released and in an array of pressing variants. (Both merch tables were busy all night). They did lean heavily on the newer material, especially with over half of The Burden of Restlessness played. For me it was a track from Acheron that hit the peak; “Shadows” was a standout track, the band slowly and deliberately building steam over the ten minutes. They reminded me also a bit of Black Pyramid, mainly in some of the vocal delivery and fans of All Them Witches will find much to like as well but King Buffalo are clearly their own creature.