Though CMJ officially ended this past Saturday night, nothing could have been better* than marking its unofficial close than the metal- and rain-soaked festivities of Friday evening. First off, I attended a Slayer siesta hosted by Metal Insider and scored some fine Simon & Schuster swag courtesy of my favorite quipper, Bram T. And though I'd already been privy to hearing World Painted Blood, Slayer's forthcoming masterpiece, there was something really comforting about listening to it played loudly over a club's PA whilst sipping on free PBRs. Also previewed were "Playing With Dolls," a creepy cluster of vignettes inspired by WPB songs that'll be featured on the deluxe edition, and Gallows' short film, Grey Britain.
From there, the heavy hitters migrated into Chinatown to witness the showstopping Relapse Records/Brooklyn Vegan extravaganza. Headlined by Misery Index and featuring no less than seven of the label's finest, it was nonetheless difficult for the remaining acts to overshadow the opening salvo from PA's Gloominous Doom. "I can't even describe them, just go watch them," advised Relapse's Dave Ehlrich. And he was right.
Unable to pigeonhole Gloominous Doom into any genre, the best I can do is "bipolar-core." Punctuating their plentiful grinding riffs and bellowing growls were rhythms that evoked surf rock, ska, reggae and death metal. Quite unique, to be sure. What else, besides their erratic sound made them so memorable, you ask? Maybe it was their embrace and liberal usage of the Claw, ie: the Invisible Orange. Or perhaps it was the fact that vocalist Jeff Kruppenbach closed their set by playing a cowbell ON HIS PROSTHETIC LEG. I can't make this stuff up; this bud's for you, Jefe.
That finale was hard to top, but the rest of the bands did their best. Salome, Howl and Black Anvil all put on intense performances for the packed-in crowd, but for many, it was Revocation's blistering death metal set that stood out the most. Though I'd already witnessed them perform at a Tones of Death event a few months prior, the positive reaction to their label debut, Existence is Futile—plus the audience's crackling energy—really pushed the Boston trio over the top to triumph. Check 'em out immediately.
With all due respect to Misery Index, the free-flowing booze had taken its toll and I found myself upstair in Fontana's main room—in an impromptu therapy session with Ben from Metal Sucks (Ben Sucks?) and Earache Anthony—for the majority of their set. I mean, c'mon, how could they have possibly topped the cowbell moment?
And though CMJ's lineup this year wasn't its finest, there's still something to be said galavanting around NYC under the influence of free tequila, opening your mind to new music, seeing bands from all across the world, and meeting lots of new people to make out with. See you next year, fuckers!