Pestilence/ Wetwork/ Necrodios @ The Mod Club, June 15 2010

Here is my review of the Pestilence/ Wetwork/ Necrodios show that took place at The Mod Club on June 15th 2o1o. You can check out the original here, along with some slightly-less-terrible-than-usual pictures.

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Metal shows are often surprisingly ineffable, almost liquid things when it comes to details like exactly who is going to perform and when. Last-minute (sometimes drastic) schedule changes are par for the course. The initial lineup for this show included Enfold Darkness, Wetwork, Vital Remains, and Pestilence. A few weeks before the show, however, it was announced Enfold Darkness would not make it over the border, and that local band Necrodios would perform in their place. By the time I arrived at the Mod Club, it was clear that Vital Remains were unable to make it to Canada either, resulting in a short, tight, three-band line-up composed of Wetwork, Necrodios, and Pestilence.

Despite the necessary lineup juggling, the vibe in the room was positive and friendly. While the rest of College street were glued televisions in bars all tuned to the World Cup, everyone in the Mod Club was pumped up for Pestilence‘s return to TO after nearly two decades. This palpable excitement was not surprising in the least. What did catch me slightly off guard, to my absolute delight, was the quality of the drumming I was privileged to enjoy. As it turned out, the gents behind the kit impressed me the most at this performance.

The night kicked off with Necrodios, the latest addition to the lineup. This Mississauga-based band made it clear throughout their performance that they were positively thrilled to be sharing a stage with Pestilence and Wetwork. They clearly gave all they had, imperfections and all. Their performance was fine, simple entertaining. Vocalist Jericho Asinas maintained harsh vocals while bantering with the crowd and introducing the band, which I always find quite funny. They did seem a bit out of place on the bill—or, rather, it seemed to me that they felt that they were, and so embodied that nervousness in their performance. Nerves aside, they were gracious performers who fulfilled their role as opening act adequately and admirably.

Next up were Wetwork, whose name comes from a translation of the Russian phrase “mokroye delo,” referring to an assassination or another job that has become bloody (or “wet”). Their name proved to be an accurate metaphor for their sound and style of performance—Wetwork are out for blood. Kristen “Doc” Parker is a curious frontwoman. Tall and imposing, even more so on stage wearing epic platform boots, her long dark hair takes on a life of its own, and she possesses one hell of a growl. She’s not incredibly energetic, striding slowly and carefully across the stage, languorously writhing, and making heavy eye contact with the crowd, but she is quite an arresting performer. However, it is Chris “Mezz” Mezzabotta who really steals this show. His playing is positively superhuman, though not in a mechanical, robotic way. Some excellent drummers, seemingly tireless, can seem as they they have absorbed the inhuman qualities of their kits, and seem made of metal and plastic. Mezz is profoundly physical; instead of taking on the qualities of his instruments, he transforms the drum kit into an extension of his body. He makes the kit seem made of flesh. It is completely riveting to watch.

I enjoyed the hell out of Pestilence’s set. Everyone in this band is a finely-tuned musical machine, and all played flawlessly. Super tight, their sound was thick and intense yet supple, almost elegant in its sophistication. I particularly enjoyed the songs they played from their first album, Malleus Maleficarum. It was very easy for me to surrender to their music being played so proficiently live; I had a bangover for several days afterwards. I also had a great time as part of this crowd. Everyone in front of the stage was thrilled to be a part of the show. At one point, the floor got a little bit crazy, and I found myself bodily lifted to safety by a couple of friendly neighbourhood metalheads. Who says chivalry is dead?

In terms of the performance, all three members who were part of the Pestilence line-up until 1994 (Patrick Mameli on lead guitar and vocals, Patrick Uterwijk on lead guitar, and Jeroen Paul Thesseling on bass) were quite static and reserved. They engaged in very little banter, simply announcing song titles, and also moved very little on stage, throwing off almost no energy. While the music was certainly enough for me to lose myself in, the music had to stand alone. The only exception to this was in the performance of young drummer Yuma Van Eekelen. While his stage presence is certainly helped by the fact that he looks like the goddamn Vampire Lestat, all cheekbones and shoulders, it is his drumming that is most extraordinary to watch and listen to. He loves it. He absolutely loves the physical act, the sensation of hammering away at his instruments. It’s a remarkable thing to see, someone in the throes of something they love. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, and am certainly looking forward to hearing the work that he lays down on the forthcoming Pestilence album.

Walking out into a night that was still warm, hearing people scream in every bar and from every open window (apparently the World Cup held most people’s attention that evening), my heart seemed to be thrumming to the beat of a double bass the whole long walk home.


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