There was a time when support acts were regarded as just that - very much the 'add on', the excuse to stand at the bar and have a chat with your mates while waiting for the main attraction for whom you had forked out your hard-earned cash. Support acts were a distraction. Happily, this is no longer the case, with many opening acts carefully chosen by the headliners to be part of the overall, complementary experience - and so it proved tonight.
With music journalism being a constant journey of discovery, turning up early to catch openers Blood Runs Deep truly was a revelation. Not having even heard a solitary note of the Swiss trio before they took to the stage this cold Saturday evening, they quickly impressed with their groove laden, sludgy, atmospheric, progressive, technical doom. Understandably a bit nervous when they started, their years of experience soon told and they quickly settled into their stride, as the audience equally quickly warmed to them and gave them a deservedly rousing reception.
However, as with all traditional support bands, BRD were only ever going to be an appetizer - especially when tonight's main course was a band fronted by a certain Sal Abruscato, drummer and founder of the legendary Type O Negative and mainstay of Life Of Agony. With a band that also features Seventh Void's Matt Brown and Johnny Kelly on guitar and drums (the latter also fulfilling the same duties with Type O), the level of expectation was tangible.
And the five piece - completed by third guitarist Eddie Heedles and bassist Eric Morgan - didn't disappoint.
Their triple guitar attack exploded from the venue's bass bins in a tsunami of sound, swamping the adoring clutch of fans gathered at the front of the stage as the band ran through their brilliant 'And Hell Follows With' album, albeit not taking the easy route of starting at track one and finishing at the end, but mixing it up to make the live set flow in a more fluid manner.
Ignoring constant calls for TON songs from a couple of hardcore fans in the corner, Albruscato obviously enjoys himself as he and his band mates run through pummelling versions of 'Devil In The Closet', 'Crows Descend Upon You' and 'Heroin Train', which is especially powerful and hard-hitting. By 'Pillhead', the constant requests are getting a bit annoying, but the frontman laughs them off by joking about his Brooklyn accent and not being able to understand what people are saying.
'Serial Killer' is suitably punky and violent, 'Die Alone' is soaring and majestic while 'Bath In My Blood' brings the set to an apocalyptic nerve-and guitar-shredding finale, with Matt Brown ending up with an unintentionally trashed instrument.
Albruscato has said that APHND is the pinnacle of his creativity: on the evidence of tonight's awe-inspiring performance, he certainly is an artist at the height of his powers.
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