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Live Review: Ulthar, Summon the Destroyer, and Hatesong

Extreme Oakland trio Ulthar have been on the road for almost a full month leaving ear canals feeling like open sores. Last year’s Cosmovore debut was an offering of top-shelf diseased death metal from 20 Buck Spin that turned heads so quickly it snapped spines. That meant Indy Metal Vault took what felt like a group field trip to support Ulthar and local pit-stirrers Hatesong and Summon the Destroyer. Our contingent of beer-swigging superfans rolled into Black Circle ready for riffs, Tuesday morning’s certain bangover be damned. Check out the Vault’s collective thoughts below.

Hatesong

Dustin: Blackened, punky metal trio? Okay, you have my attention!! In all seriousness, it was a pleasure to watch Hatesong cut through the bullshit whilst Andre Toulon and his troupe of killer puppets waged guerilla warfare against the Third Reich on Black Circle Brewery’s state of the art VCR system. Being the most abrasive band of the evening, they were ironically the most relaxing. The fact of the matter is that it was still a Monday and everyone had to slog through it and whatever negativity that one may have absorbed throughout the workday, Hatesong evicted that shit from the vicinity like it owed them six month’s worth of rent.

Bryan: Damn! You can’t top that description. Hatesong popped up on my radar after the release of their EP, Unholy Shit last September. While I enjoyed it, I didn’t get hooked on the band until I saw them perform a few months ago. I feel like the black metal elements in their sound come out a bit more in their live performance, which is refreshing since our scene leans more towards doom, stoner, and more recently death metal. They’re a big reason why I wanted to go to this show because I was planning to record them using my new recently purchased AV equipment. But things kicked off a bit early, and I wasn’t able to get everything set up in time. These guys seem to be getting more buzz lately, so I’m sure I’ll get another opportunity soon.

Sean: I caught a Hatesong set at State Street Pub back in January, when I was a few weeks of transplanting to Indy. What really struck me was the dirty groove they mix into their reverb-soaked, stripped-down black ‘n’ roll. While vocalist/guitarist Brett Krout wears his Hellhammer influence proudly (on the only white T-shirt in the bar, nonetheless), their crusty assault firmly divides them from the myriad of half-assed bands trying to copy Apocalyptic Raids. After the show, they confirmed they played one unreleased song (“Ripping Death”) that focuses on breaking the chains of societal and religious indoctrination. I’ll be out early to support their set before Eyehategod in May and jamming Unholy Shit in preparation.

Spencer: Not only does Brett Krout’s attire show his influences as Sean mentioned, but the dude has a Motörhead tattoo on his skull and a King Diamond logo providing an unholy blessing upon his throat. If that doesn’t set the tone, I don’t know what would. Midnight is the first band that comes to mind for a reference point in terms of their style, but as Bryan mentioned the black metal influence is a bit more significant. Some of their riffs were straightforward rock that you could lock onto more easily, and Krout’s lead work was a blistering bit of fun to wake everyone up out of the Monday daze before the rest of the bands crushed them back into submission.

All photos: Pix Meyers Photography

Summon the Destroyer

Bryan: I’ve seen Summon the Destroyer perform numerous times, and they never disappoint. Being one of our top tier bands in Indy, they consistently bring their “A” game and always put on a brutal and energetic show. I’ve been digging their new stuff too along with their performance of Morbid Angel’s “World of Shit,” which was fucking jaw-dropping. Look out for my video footage of their entire set on our YouTube later this month.

Dustin: Well put on the brutality and energy of Summon the Destroyer’s performances!!! Saw them for the first time in 2014 and the vanguards of Circle City brutality have never lacked in quality. Kicking off their set with “Servility Glorified,” Summon the Destroyer weren’t at Black Circle Brewery to play Parcheesi. A solid 25-minute set that inspired a lot of nerve damage-inducing grimacing and Mr. Hyde-esque cackling. Classic tracks “The Divine Befouler of All” and “Dethrone and Immolate” have aged nicely alongside the band’s newer material such as “Sacrificial Possession” and “The Deathly Aura.”

Sean: “Thanks for coming out on a—what is this, a Monday? Fuck yeah.” Raising a Miller High Life to the work-week crowd, Brandon Howe’s deep speaking voice hints at the ferocious guttural growls that lay ahead. It was my first time seeing Summon the Destroyer, but they’d been hyped by the IMV crew. I was floored by their inventive riffs and precision, especially during the set’s flirtation with funereal atmospherics during personal-favorite “Sacrificial Possession.” Not only did their original songs (and Morbid Angel cover) crush, but I’d pay admission again just to see expressive drummer Don Curtis smirk and taunt his drums as he batters the kit.

Spencer: This was probably my fifth time seeing Summon the Destroyer and Brandon Howe’s vocals still never cease to amaze me. Cupping the mic be damned! Howe has unbelievable force behind his vocals and an uncanny clarity that makes comparisons to Frank Mullen completely fair. While Howe’s vocals are an absolute treat, there’s no denying that the dualling lead work of guitarists Scott Bronner and Mike Morgan was the highlight of the evening. Their ability to trade off on taking spiraling the songs into madness even had Bryan bouncing side to side to make sure he was filming the right person. I agree with my fellow vaulters that “Sacrificial Possession” is a high point that they hopefully never remove from the set. When that song drops into the slow part, you just want spike something into the ground.

All photos: Pix Meyers Photography

Ulthar

Dustin: Thirty seconds prior to the beginning of Ulthar’s set, multi-ball mode had become active on the WWF Royal Rumble pinball machine and in hindsight, being torn between increasing my skill at pinball and live fucking metal is a great problem to have. Eventually, the credits ran out, and I slithered my way over to the performance area to become ensnared by the trio’s anti-cosmic mummification of death metal. Performing 2018’s Cosmovore in its entirety, Ulthar delivered a mind-blowing experience that for reasons unexplained left me thinking about the color of spinal fluid. Collectively and individually, didn’t play their instruments so much as they subjugated them to their Lovecraftian will.

Sean: When Cosmovore roared into existence last year, I remember thinking it felt like blackened death metal directed by Re-Animator/From Beyond director Stuart Gordon. Dustin has the Lovecraftian angle covered as fuck, but I think that the director’s sense of jubilation amid the cosmic horror and gore relates to Ulthar’s live performance. The dueling snarls of Shelby Lermo (also of Vastum) and Steve Peacock (of Mastery, Pale Chalice, and others) brought unexpected fire to the opening passage of “Entropy—Atrophy’ and the mid-song tempo-shift of “Infinite Cold Distance.” Experiencing it live, the balance of all-out violence and starlit groove in “Asymmetric Warfare” elevated it to an easy favorite. After seeing drummer Justin Ennis blast for years in Brooklyn in Mutilation Rites and Tombs, it was a mini-homecoming having him scorch the kick pedal here in Indy. Here’s hoping whatever mutagens Ulthar’s music left in the air help me grow spore-spewing tentacles or a second row of teeth before their next visit.

Spencer: Maelstrom is the first word that came to mind as these three fine gentlemen kicked off their set. Ennis’ drums were pretty relentless, but any space they may have permitted was quickly filled by the speedy fingers of Peacock on bass. I was absolutely entranced watching him seemingly work every finger he had over that bass for the entire 40-minute set. The vocal approach was unnerving, as Sean mentioned, but the true spectacle of it was the variety it offered. The two howled, yowelled, bellowed, roar and screeched with the best of them only furthering the chaotic feel of the performance. Much like Dustin’s fixation on spinal fluid, I have no doubt the cosmic barrage of notes influenced my truly bizarre dreams later that evening…or maybe it was just the delicious Psuedo Sue Black Circle had tapped.

Bryan: I have to follow these guys? Great… I think our resident Pinball Wizard summed their performance up pretty well; it was a mind-blowing experience. Despite, not being as familiar with Ulthar as the rest of the group, I was stoked to see their performance after giving Cosmovore a few spins before the show. Like Sean and Spencer, I also was impressed by the vocal chops on both Lermo and Peacock, and the tradeoff was entertaining as hell to watch. Peacock slapped his bass around like it owed him money, and I’d gladly pay to watch him play anytime.

All photos: Pix Meyers Photography

All-in-all, the whole night was a rousing experience after the recent Editorial shakeups at the Vault, and it was awesome seeing so many of our contributors out on a Monday night. Black Circle continues to be a champion of our underground scene, and we’re eternally grateful for the work they put into these shows. Until the next time!

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