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2002-05-04 IN – Fort Wayne - Sneaky Pete's

First of all, I must confess to making it to the show a bit late, so I only caught the last song from Fort Wayne heavyweights :: INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH :: I am however, somewhat familiar with the band's recorded work. On CD, the band's major influences appear to be Machine Head, Fear Factory, Pantera, older Sepultura etc. to give you an idea of the school of metal the band comes from. From what I saw though, they appeared to have done a great job in getting the audience worked up as a mosh pit was already visible! It was during the band's last song that I said to myself, "Damn... something tells me this going to be a HELL of a show!" Boy was I right. Even though the place wasn't exactly packed to the rafters, I could really feel the audience's energy building. I enjoyed what I saw and heard from INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH and will definitely see them live again if I get the chance. They thanked the audience for coming and for showing their support and then stepped off stage to give the next act time to set up.

I headed upstairs to the bar for a drink. You see, this was an all ages show therefore no alcohol could be consumed in the venue. Stupid American laws. Anyway, the show was in a place called "The Basement". Directly above the basement in the same building is a bar called "Sneaky Pete's". And Sneaky Pete's just happened to have NewCastle Brown Ale on tap this evening! :-) But, not to bore you with the details here, I had a beer or three and headed back downstairs for the next band.

And that band was :: PSYCHOTOGEN :: And boy, did PSYCHOTOGEN ever kick all our asses!!! Never having heard them, or even hearing OF them... I wasn't really sure what to expect. What I got was a technical, brutal, death/grind act that again, really kicked me in the fucking head!!!! The band hails from Baltimore, Maryland in the U.S. and contains a former member of death metal act Pessimist. According to the band's bio " imagine putting Atheist, Cynic and Nevermore in a blender with Dillinger Escape Plan, Morbid Angel, Nile, and Death; then add some Haldol and pure grain alcohol. Inject that black, sludgy mix directly into your veins... THAT is some idea of what is waiting for you!" Which I must say is probably a fairly accurate description, although the band definitely has a sound all it's own. The guys all commanded an awesome stage presence as well... no member stayed in one place for too long and the singer was a complete madman as he climbed amps and thrashed about. I watched and banged from the front row for a few songs, however had to move back a bit after my foot got stepped on by a bloodcrazed mosher! The band never ceased to impress not just me, but the entire audience! I thought it was pretty cool to look around and see some "normal" looking teenage kids, along with the kids in their Korn and Slipknot gear really getting into the band's performance. And who could blame them!? The drummer was tight, the bass playing fluid and very fitting to the band's music and the guitar riffs sliced through my ears like razor blades! And again, singer Rob was amazing as his vocal styles alternated between the really low death bellow/growl and a higher pitched snarl. His vocals at times sort of reminded me of Lord Worm (former singer for technical death metal faves Cryptopsy). At one point during the band's set, Rob commented on how impressed he was with the audience in Fort Wayne and how we'd given the band a better response than they are used to getting doing gigs in their area! They put on an extremely impressive performance, my only complaint being that they couldn't have played for longer than 45 minutes at the most and I for one, would have loved to have heard more. Death-heads and fans of heavy music in general, this is definitely a band to keep an eye on. My favorite tunes of their set were probably Death Of The Old Ways and Follow Me (Into Hell). They have information, CD's, and lots of other cool stuff at their website www.psychotogen.com Please do yourselves a favor and check it out.

After PSYCHOTOGEN's set, I stumbled back up to the bar to catch my breath, check out some girls and quench my thirst! I found it kind of funny as I was up there... they had a sperate band playing in the bar where the obviously non-metal patrons were this evening. While they had some pool players and barflys on the scene tonight, there was a total of about 3 people watching this band. 2 hefty ladies and some jabroni in a Metallica shirt. Go figure. And this band sucked first class, let me just say. Bunch of hippies doing Dave Matthews and Phish covers. All I can hope is that this band heard the sounds of hell the REAL bands downstairs were emenating! They probably all went home and cried about the metalheads downstairs outplayed, outclassed, and most of all outdrew them! But hey, they got heckled by a big kid in a Slayer shirt so at least they got some attention.

Anyway, after a bit more o' the Newcastle, I headed back downstairs for :: FOG :: !!! The band was still tuning up when I got down there, but it didn't take long before the smoke machine started, the lights dimmed to an eerie shade and Fog began it's black metal onslaught! And let me tell you folks, this band SLAYED tonight. I curse shame upon myself for having never seen them live before... due to the fact that they play black metal and hail from my hometown of Fort Wayne! They've done several shows here over the last year, however shit life circumstances (everything from car trouble to tornadoes) had prevented me from ever seeing them live before. And I was impressed. Totally. And I usually don't impress easy!! As a matter of fact, I would like to say just for the record that FOG is to my ears, the best American black metal band right now. I've heard them called "Emperor without the keyboards", but that doesn't do them any justice. The band definitely has a style all their own. And it is most definitely 100% METAL!!! These dudes don't wear corpse make-up. They don't bow to any pre-coceived black metal trends. And they don't fuck around. The smoke and the eerie lights helped their stage presence alot, almost giving it kind of a mysterious almost occult type of atmosphere. The band played for about an hour and again, DEFINITELY could have played longer. The band played material from their album Through The Eyes Of Night. I was able to stay pretty close to the stage for FOG and only had to move out of mosher's way a couple times. Hey, before you laugh the reason for that is I was wearing Birkenstock sandles as opposed to steel toed Doc Martins. I know... not very metal of me is it!? Anyway, back to the band's performance... it was absolutely crushing. FOG just destroyed!!! The band's material came over EXTREMELY well live (which doesn't always happen with alot of black metal bands) and it was faith affirming to observe the misguided Korn kids really getting into the black metal screaming at them from the stage above! FOG is a band I definitely look forward to seeing live again, PSYCHOTOGEN as well. However, this evening was truly FOG's night. The band showed us all why they were the headliners, the main event if you will. Their music spoke for it's self and I can't wait to hear their forthcoming new release due sometime this year. Until then, I would suggest that anyone who wants to hear some real American black metal from the best band doing it right now (I know the term "real American black metal" probably sounds weird, but bear with me) to pick up FOG's debut CD Through The Eyes Of Night. You won't regret it. Guitarist Atziluth Voluspa was especially cool as he hung out a bit after the show to talk to fans.

All in all a great night for metal here in the Fort! Let's hope shows like this are not so few and far between in the future. Hails to FOG, PSYCHOTOGEN and INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH for an excellent show!

story © Wade Conrad