With Day 1 of Migration Fest 2 behind us, I eagerly anticipated the next wave of acts to invade Mr. Smalls in Millvale.
Chicago fiends Immortal Bird busted the day open wide with their rumbling, baleful, almost groovy Mastodon/Goatwhore/EYEHATEGOD blackened sludge stomp, marking their territory and establishing a vibe like predators at the top of their primordial food chain.
Speaking of predators, Scorched, whom I caught before earlier this year, proved that man is the deadliest, lead throat Matt Kapa giving off a pro wrestler/neanderthal presence as he low- growled through stories of gore and flesh-eating excess. Guitarist Steve Fuchs regaled us in his downtuned, Entombed vs. Gruesome worshipful glory. Righteously headbanging with smart, groovy riffs and pinch harmonics, Scorched deserve to be at the top of underground bills a la Cannibal Corpse.
Hooded, masked Portuguese super-villains The Ominous Circle took hold of the flame next, filling Mr. Smalls with a dread borne of blackened death metal not unlike the mighty Behemoth or Mortuary Drape or perhaps Portal, lurching towards the tunnels of hell with their sinister, deeply arcane songcraft and musicianship.
More New York black metal followed in the form of Mutilation Rites who blazed down a a very Norwegian highway, channeling the old gods in brutal, sacrilegious, albeit riffier fashion with a slight technical death bent.
Southern bloodletters Deadbird invoked Crowbar and Life of Agony throughout a blistering, cavernous set that screamed of anguish and personal turmoil. Thoroughly electrified and weightier than a rhino, Deadbird sort of cleansed the atmosphere so to speak, washing away the soot left by so much black metal stylings to reveal truths that were once obscured.
Spirit Adrift instantly became my favorite band of the festival thus far, and I never knew a thing about them beforehand as they eclipsed Khemmis and beat them with their own weaponry. This kind of occurrence is one reason why I chased fate and bought a 3-day pass for Migration despite being unfamiliar with half the bands on the card. A perfect union of doom, power metal, and NWOBHM, Spirit Adrift wove Thin Lizzy circuits into machines built by acts such as Memento Mori, evoking bands as classic as Angel Witch and current as Magic Circle. Carving and melodic and egregiously heavy, I am now hopelessly under Spirit Adrift’s irresistible, irreversible spell.
Portland’s Mizmor served to us an interesting platter of statuesque blackened droning doom, building monuments of sound as if they were Boris or Earth slaving away in collaboration with Swallow The Sun. Agonizing and bleak, their set was a march into a shadowy afterlife fit only for the most lost of souls.
Urgent, dramatic, and compelling, Pelican pulled me ever further into a deeper appreciation for wordless metal music. At times highly cerebral, fiercely rhythmic, pounding, and beautifully turbulent, Pelican traversed so many metallic worlds, the tag “post-metal” applied to them was rendered inaccurate and meaningless to my ears as they mesmerized the audience with the entire history of heavy music as if they were time travelers. A dead amp almost cut short their set.
Krallice ended day two in elegant, glimmering fashion as a torrential downpour of rakish, mysterious avante-garde black metal pelted the onlookers, finishing this decidedly NYC-centric 10 hours authoritatively as it to prove their worthiness as headliners and uncanny players.
Day 3, I greet thee with open arms.