On April 6, San Diego’s Brick By Brick was to host a legendary black metal band and an array of black metal acts as support. Without delving off too much, the black metal O.G.s known as Taake were set to play that night, however, for the second year in a row, they have had issues in our country. This time it was due to a different situation. This of course was rather disappointing and worrisome given how the current circumstances escalated quickly. As the bad news inevitably came, Brick By Brick was determined to not let the night die. Most of the original lineup remained with one difference… which the Klown will leave that as a surprise for now.
The night kicked off with one of Ugh Metal’s First Impression alumni Sicarius. It has been a while since Ugh Metal has gazed upon the black metal daggermen. In fact, it was nearly a year ago since Ugh Metal saw them last in the same scenario, and place, and under different circumstances. Despite the circumstances, Sicarius opened and they displayed a lax mood which was not a bad thing, it felt like they were performing a private show for a group of close friends. But once the house lights turned off, the dagger men were no longer messing around. Naturally, the collective treated us to some songs straight from their studio debut album, Serenade of the Slitting Throats.
Although the Klown has seen Sicarius before, for those who haven’t done so, the Klown will let you know that if you’ve never been to a Sicarius performance you probably should because Kurt Karcass is a spectacle in and of itself. If Karcass doesn’t catch your attention with his antics such as bashing the microphone on his head, he will come down from the stage and roam around the pit like a predator seeking its prey. This is something that will not only keep you attentive but focused. Before the Klown begins to talk about Empyrean Throne, frontman Andrew Knudsen joined in on the fun. Knudsen was decked out in his stage apparel and joined Karcass and Sicarius’s guitarist/backup vocalist/mastermind Argyris Malliaros, respectively, on vocal duties.
Sicarius revisited their very first EP Scorch The Earth and even busted out their tamest song in the album, “The Current.” As usual, the performance was great. Remember the lax mood the Klown mentioned? These First Impressions alumni displayed humorous moments to cap off their evening, well… Karcass did. Little did we all know that that would be Malliaros last appearance with Sicarius. Whatever happens, Ugh Metal wish Malliaros the best and hope to see him in the near future. We have a feeling that that won’t be the last that we’ll see or hear of him.
As Sicarius departed from the stage comically, the Klown shall now talk about Sicarius’s label mates, Empyrean Throne. Unlike Sicarius, these gents display black metal but in a symphonic approach but you knew that already, right? After all, the last time we saw them perform was for the Helheim show last year. Hell, even Andrew Knudsen had a chat with us back in December. The night kicked off when Knudsen donned his plague mask early on and spread some pontifical incense by swinging an incense boat in the Brick.
Unlike last time, Knudsen and the band no longer had prop issues and performed his theatrics with precision. Naturally, the collective performed from their current installment Chaosborne. In an effort to hype the crowd, Knudsen took his mic with authority and began to air the current black metal grievance, Antifa. Much like Knudsen did before with Sicarius, Malliaros joined in as a backup to Knudsen and did a stellar job riling up the crowd some more.
Although Knudsen’s frontman skills were on par, not all credit can be given to him solely. Guitarist Mike Brennan, also managed to take away a bit of the spotlight and even decided to join fans in the pit. Brennan hopped down with his guitar and shredded away in the pit and partook with the small mosh pit that formed around him.
As the black metal royalty cleared the stage, the trve Armenian mountain men took the stage. Unlike the last time we saw them, Highland was placed in the co-headlining spot, the Klown was low key excited to see them. the trio came back in style… sort of. Much like the Throne, the men from Highland spread some incense of their own to set the mood. This time around, frontman/guitarist Gevork Matevosyan went on without a hoodie and brought some memorable props which would please the self-proclaimed trve. No, not sacrificial goats, they messy! The Klown is talking about stand in the shape of upside-down crosses.
The Klown was glad to see that his excitement was justified because Highland delivered in a big way. Right from the start, the Armenian trio fired off strongly with “Abu Sindi” from their LP debut Loyal to the Nightsky and kept the night going with “Cimmerian Wave in Abysmal Space” from their 2013 debut, self-titled EP. Most importantly, it was the return of Matevosyan’s crazy eyes! Although not all credit can go to the frontman, the other guitarist and vocalist of the trio, Narek Avetisian did his part as well.
Aside from Avetisian wowing fans on his side of the stage, he traded spots with Matevosyan and would sometimes pump others up. Meanwhile the drummer, Michael Samerdjian, effortlessly destroyed those drums like it threatened to convert him to Christianity. Even as their time on stage was nearing towards its impending end, Highland finished strongly with “Nocturnal Deathstrike” and kept the crowd asking for more.
As it’s been established, Taake was supposed to be the headliner of the night which simply didn’t happen. Thanks to the quick thinking of the Brick By Brick, a replacement with the same prestige was contacted. So, with that in mind, as the guys from Highland retreated back to their black metal mountains, the merciless death metal band known as Sadistic Intent took the reins and entertained our mopey asses that night. Much like some collective gigantic names that the Klown has seen before, these gents required no effort to get a crowd’s reaction.
Once Bay Cortez took center stage he was immediately joined by guitarists Rick Cortez and Ernesto Bueno and the drummer Arthur Mendiola. Without a second notice, the Cortezes and Bueno struck their chords for the beginning of some death metal bliss. In an instant, the Brick went from clamored to fevered. Much like the Grinch’s heart, the pit began to brew and grew three times that night. The crazy part was that that was only beginning of the performance.
As the night progressed, the collective powered through their headbanging, mosh pit inducing set. The soft-spoken Bay took a breather, inquired about our well-being, and announced that they would take it old school specifically back to 1994’s Resurrection EP. Once that was announced, life reinvigorated back into the Brick like a jolt of lightning striking a battery back to life. As the night was ending, the quartet showed an act of charity not once but twice. How? As you may not be wondering, they performed two encores. The second was a real treat as Rick popped out from behind the stage exit and was taken aback by the audience chanting their name and begged for more. The Cortezes relented the plea, promised and played one more before calling it quits for the night.
The Klown didn’t know what to expect from the quartet as he’s never seen them live before. Although the majority in attendance really wanted to see Taake, Sadistic Intent was indeed the perfect substitute for that night. Most importantly, the group revitalized the old school fans in attendance and may have introduced themselves to a new generation of fans. The Klown just hope for two things, for things to blow over with Taake enough for them to come back, and for Sadistic Intent to come back again. Who knows? We may even get them both on the same bill someday. Don’t be a buzzkill, the Klown can dream, can’t he?