With help from Divinity Compromised, Act of Destruction, and Avernis, Novembers Doom laid waste to The Cobra Lounge in Chicago on March 28, 2014. Having missed the last few Novembers Doom hometown shows I was determined to go even if I had to crawl the three and a half hours to get there, but the metal gods smiled and I got to drive. Leaving early from work, I hit the road and made great time to the windy city. Enough time that I was able to read some Batman comics to my grandson before the show.
I made it the The Cobra Lounge about 30 minutes after the door opened, not necessarily out of some desire to be early but out of pure desire to find a parking spot. When you live in the city and hit the venues you have to plan for parking, its the single most important thing next to the music. After enjoying a couple pints of Two Hearted Ale, I moved into the venue and on to Lone Star beer. Look, it was in a bottle, and it was cheap, and they were out of Old Style in can, what can I say.
My obsession with the “whys” of Lone Star beer was quickly diminished as Divinity Compromised took the stage to a nearly packed house. Immediately launching into a combination of power metal and lower end crunch on the doom metal spectrum of things. Whatever they were doing it worked. The crowd was engaged and with a venue this size, the energy between stage and band moves nearly faster than light speed. As they moved through their paces, the singer gets louder and better belting out notes that would make even Rain Irving and Matt Barlow sit up and take notice. It was a powerful opener from a band I have never heard of till now but rest assured they are in my memory.
Act of Destruction was next in the line-up and completely fooled me with some introductory type of riff. I heard the first few chords and was all set to settle into a Candlemass vibe band, this lasted only for a minute or two before they dropped into old school death metal. Dual growling vocals and top shelf riffing made this a totally cool act. The bassist was really engaged with the crowd giving a high energetic performance. Pure windmilling music start to stop and at the end I was not even disappointed there was no Candlemass vibe. Good music, great crowd energy, another band makes a great performance. Two openers and two great sets, its a real treat when you get this. Just ask my friend Matt about the opener at the last show we went to together, the entire audience was looking at each other and shaking their collective heads.
Next up Avernus, so far so good, and excitement was pretty high in the crowd. Alot of folks seemed to be acquainted with this band, always a good sign. Really unobtrusive sort of band, joking with friends during set up, they seemed really at home to be honest. All kidding aside, when they hit the opening notes the bottom just came out of the low end and we were in the presence of pure doom metal. A mix of slow to mid tempo style and vocals delivered in the style of Cobalt and Wolves In The Throne Room really was the topper. Sporting three guitars, the layers it added was absolutely incredible. Fancy bass work, and supurb skin work rounded out and perfect set for this band. I was so impressed with the quality of this set that I even tagged my friend Sander (you remember him) in that crackbook thing so he would remember the name for future reference. These guys need new material tomorrow if not sooner, I for one would line up for that release!
We are around midnight at this point, no one is leaving, but I have stopped the Lone Stars, drink responsibility you know! I made my way to the stage shook hands with Garry and Larry wished them a great set and let them get back to setting up and getting locked in. So this was the first time I got see Novembers Doom live and I was pretty damn excited, I made sure I was close to the front for this one. To the approval of the crowd they opened with ‘Drown The Inland Mere’ and they hit the stride right away, no warming up here, all down to business and sounding great.
Moving into ‘The Dark Host’ and ‘Harvest Scythe’ both off of Aphotic and favorites of mine. I was in a state of doom nirvana at this point. Those opening riffs of ‘Harvest’ always hit me in the chest and being so close to the stage it was a mind boggling experience. Paul, a hundred pounds thinner, had more energy than a kid on Christmas morning and to be honest he looked like he was having more fun. In fact, Garry, Larry, Vito, and Mike all seemed to be really enjoying themselves. It’s actually moving to see musicians having so much fun on stage it makes it all the more memorable experience. Novembers Doom then treated us to two new tracks ‘Bled White’ and Heartfelt’ with ‘Autumn Reflection’ in the middle of the two. Both tracks were extremely well received by the audience, and my thought was I need the liner notes now to read those lyrics for ‘Heartfelt’, they seemed pretty powerful from what I heard. I have always thought Paul an underrated lyricist, he has some amazing things to say.
They closed out their massive set with ‘For Every Leaf That Falls’, ‘Buried’, ‘Rain’, ‘Pale Haunt Departure’. Wow what a show, hell, what an evening. Three great bands and one of the longestest runnign doom metal bands in the United States, amazing music, amazing performances. The venue although a bit on the small side, which really allowed the audience to engage with the artists. Great facilities, thanks Cobra Lounge for hosting an amazing show.
I urge everyone to check out Novembers Doom if you have never listened, quality music through their entire discography. Check out the other bands as well, all great. Thank you all for a great night of metal music!