Backstage Bar & Billiards
Las Vegas, Nevada
Monday May 16th, 2022
GOATWHORE / Sheer Cold / Foul Deformity / Hiding Outside / Volterrum
When I was making plans to move back to Las Vegas in 2016 I was living in Berwick, Louisiana. The small town exists on the east side of St. Mary Parish; where my mother grew up and was an hour to an hour-and-a-half away from either New Orleans or Laffeyette.
For more than six years I worked the graveyard shift at St. Mary Parish 911 Communications; and despite having a three day weekend I rarely had the opportunity to go out of town to see shows. Often shit would happen even when I’d make plans to go out of town.
For example; I was on my way to Baton Rouge when news of Trivium’s show was cancelled came over the radio. The show I was on my way to… So it was always regrettable to miss out on going to New Orleans for all the bands I loved that marked NOLA as home turf.
Goatwhore had to be the one that hurt the most. The guys of Goatwhore were sweethearts though according to the owner of Peaches Records; - a woman who had told me to call her ‘Mama’.
Fishy isn’t it? Something tells me this was an alias.
If you’re expecting this to turn into a story of meeting Ben Falgoust and Sammy Duet while I was sifting through the metal section of Peaches; I’m afraid that never happened. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of my heroes before but only ever in Vegas.
Meeting Sammy Duet in particular would have been all sorts of awesome back then; ‘cause I’m a dork and he’s held the axe for not just one but two of my favorite bands. The other being Acid Bath.
To go on a short tangent in my experience, Acid Bath is still well remembered in south Louisiana. Where I lived in particular; I’d talk to normies who’d known the band members or were fans of theirs in the early 90’s. Jeannie the Assistant Director of 911 and I would put “Scream Of The Butterfly” and “Venus Blue” on the Lighthouse bar’s jukebox. Also the woman in charge of my training Ms. Pat had a son who was friends with drummer Jimmy Kyle thus knew him as well. She wasn’t the only one either.
Despite living in the next town over for more than six years and knowing and or working with people who knew the man personally - spoiler alert; I never met Jimmy Kyle.
I tell you all this only to continue this story again in 2016 when my now wife tells me I’m going to write about extreme metal for ZRockR. Still, l maintain I was never actually asked to; but when my first assignment is Goatwhore what am I going to say to that? Sammy Duet cut his hand on his strings that night; and that was in the back of my mind when I was thinking of introducing myself. I’d wanted to ask if I could shake his hand but remember cut hand - not sanitary and dick move. Ask him about gear he used in Acid Bath; (remember I’m a nerd) specifically what - the settings of his pedals too? No, I got something more valuable that night. I learned that after six years of graveyard shift I was woefully out of practice in social interactions. Still am really.
Fast forward to 2022 and the wife mentions Goatwhore is performing at Backstage Bar and Billiards. What am I going to say?
“Babe it’s a Monday night I’ll be working.” Fucking no - I put in the vacation request the very next afternoon.
The first local act Volterrum is a band the wife and I have seen before albeit with a different line up. Most obvious violin is gone from the live show; whether it ever comes back again may be up in the air as far as I know.
What’s plain was that the first half of the set was pretty rough. Their singer seemed to struggle with some parts and a failing patch cable seemed to plague one guitar player. One of their early songs of the set I felt like another pass over creatively speaking as I felt some sections would have benefited from being palm muted and vice versa. Nerdy guitar shit I know.
I’m putting a lot of this down to post Covid jitters (for want of a better term) because the second half of their set was a vast improvement over the first. There weren’t any further issues with the singing I noticed and while the patch cable ended up failing again for a moment I would say Volterrum’s showing ended up being an overall success.
I dig their epic stylings and would recommend showing up early to their future gigs. Seen them before and knew they were good which ultimately was what made their slow start so baffling.
Also for the guitar players amongst you I highly recommend Ernie Ball’s flat patch cables - though there are other brands that make them. They save space on your board as advertised and there is far less tension on the jacks than normal premade patch cables of similar lengths when. Less prone to failure when used in tight spaces. I’ll only be using flat cables on my boards unless I ever go with a custom thin and soldered option in the future.
Right. Back to the show.
I’d never heard of Hiding Outside - (and what an odd name for any metal band) but I quickly recognized both their vocalist/guitarist and drummer from Casket Raider’s performance at Zia’s old Eastern location for Record Store day that Courtney and I went to see.
Immediately Hiding Outside also sounds and feels like an obvious continuation of Caskett Raider’s Black n’ Roll sound with a more death metal twist. I’m thinking of influences like Entombed and Obituary through the lens of Darkthrone.
Especially that crazy guitar tone that Jordan Kloepfer seems to get with a cosmetically fucked Epiphone Blues Custom amp sitting on stage with what looks like an iRig. Boss HM-2 vibes for days with a backline bought in a pawnshop. I certainly approve as someone who has regularly gone in search of such gems in pawnshops before.
I certainly came to appreciate Hiding Outside during their 25 minute set and I’ve bookmarked their Bandcamp page and so should you.
I’ve not seen every metal show but I’ve also never seen a local opener bring a drum kit larger and with more pieces than the national headliner.
With as crowded as this made the stage thank fuck Foul Deformity figured into their plans that they only needed so much space for the other two members to stand on either side of this drum kit that is taking it’s vitamins and saying it’s prayers so it grows up to be like it’s hero - Neal Pearl’s drum set.
No room for a bass player on the stage or the mix for that matter? Ask ‘Justice’ era Metallica for advice on what to do - or don’t. We all know the answer to that already.
I’m a death metal fan even if I’m not in love with brutal death metal; Foul Deformity does the sub genre justice. I’d like something more than ‘cup the mic’ vocals in future outings though there isn’t anything here to complain about otherwise. The intermix of the guitar work and drums is fun to watch. Also who else is playing death metal on a Fender Stratocaster? Obituary - but we aren’t here to talk about them.
Courtney has seen and shot photos for Icy Wind (I mean Sheer Cold) and I’ve seen these boys in other outfits. So if anyone is accusing me of favoritism just know that so much as putting the words death and core in the same sentence will have me rolling my eyes. According to my wife, vocalist Preston is well aware of my problems with the genre.
I don’t hate deathcore. I think the genre has more than some redeeming qualities but like metalcore before it a lot of focus can be put on the breakdown and a lot of time bands write some of the most contrived and boring bullshit imaginable. Thankfully I have more faith in Aurora Beam, excuse me Sheer Cold.
So rather than going to take a shit like I wanted to during the sets of a dozen metalcore and deathcore bands when I covered the first Las Rageous I settled in to watch Frost Breath. (Fuck!)
They are actually an excellent example of Deathcore. Preston has shown great capabilities as a vocalist in Gods of Hate and that’s not changed with this new(er) band.
All that said, I appreciate a reference to Pokemon in metal music. A live recording of “Destruction Ov Rayquaza” can be found online if you want in on that bit of fun.
That does bring up one bit of criticism… Cheers guys for picking a type that is super effective against dragons but that doesn’t change Ice-types are utter dogshit defensively. I should know. As much as I love Sneasel/Weavile in my playthroughs I’m one Machop using Low Kick away from fainting.
Side note: I just discovered that Sheer Cold is also an ice-type Pokemon move.
Onto the main event… I’ve made it obvious that I’m a Goatwhore fan.
Don’t tell Courtney but I’m one Discogs purchase away from owning each of their albums that have been released on vinyl.
As far as I’m aware ‘Funeral Dirge For The Rotting Sun’ has never had a vinyl release (What the fuck Rotten Records) but if anyone is trying to offload their copy of ‘Vengeful Accession’ please let me know.
I’m such a fanboy but I tried winning a contest put on to win Sammy Duet’s signature picks. To enter you had to comment on what your dream guitar is. I had two answers.
One being my ESP/Ltd Ninja-600 and while I don’t remember if the limited to twenty release of the SD-1 had happened yet (and fuck every one who bought one before I could) but I did know that Sammy had discussed a possible signature guitar in an interview with ‘Does it Doom?’ on YouTube.
So my second answer to ‘what’s your dream guitar?’ was a Sammy Duet signature Random Star. I wasn’t just saying that either.
Less than two weeks after the announcement of the SD-2 I offloaded two Orange amp heads and immediately special ordered the guitar. It was a grueling wait but I did get the guitar in my hands just over two weeks before this Goatwhore show.
My wife commissioned a fucking birthday cake in the shape of this guitar. Do I need to explain any further that I’m a fan of this band?!
Don’t tell Courtney but I have my eye on the Sammy Duet Dybbuk overdrive next.
So what do you think the Goatwhore fanboy thinks of the Goatwhore set? In my opinion it was as great as the Dive Bar set we went to years ago was. It goes without saying I think they’ve not lost their Nawlins swagger or skipped a beat since the start of the pandemic.
Truthfully I’m not objective enough to really review this show. In part it’s why it took so long to really gather my thoughts.
The other reason for the delay was as this show was less than a week after news of the passing of Trevor Strnad. I was even wearing one of my Black Dahlia Murder t shirts to the gig.
I don’t know for sure if Ben Falgoust and Trevor were good friends or not but the two bands do share a record label in Metal Blade so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they were at least friendly.
Standing up front as I was, Ben seemed to be seeking me out each time he’d high five people in the crowd and at the end of the set he reached down for a hug.
I got to talk with both Ben and Sammy for a few minutes each after their set was over and this was actually the first show I’ve gotten a guitar pick and I ended up with two. (A friend gave me one of the bass picks.)
I didn’t realize until the night was over how much I needed this show. Between the feelings brought up by Trevor’s passing, working my ass off, raising a newborn son during a pandemic, and trying not to smack a stepson who won’t stop screaming at players on Fortnite. I really needed this.
Some people say don’t meet your heroes. I say go for it just don’t be a jackass about it.
All live photos by Courtney Ware for ZrockR Magazine 2022, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.