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Monday, February 08, 2016

Hail Santa VI VI VI! Seattle, Day 2

Picking up where I left off in my thoughts on Day 1 of Hail Santa VI, 2015, I have to say I think the lineup for Day 1 was more true to the Hail Santa "spirit". But Day 2 made itself heard loud and clear with me, and the more I look back, I want to see more! Here's the lineup for Day 2:

Saturday December 12th, 2015

I had partied pretty hard and talked to so many people on Friday that when Saturday came I was excited to see how it would pan out. Brainscraper kicked off the night with their awesome grind sound that I couldn't seem to recall before their set. Since 2014 I've seen them in 3 different contexts: house show, small venue, and at the Highline. I remember their sound being more black metal, but Saturday's set came out much more grind and speed influenced than I was expecting.

image from

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Maybe the black metal impression was left due to their band logo that seems to be trying to please everybody?  

Nevertheless, I left feeling surprised - in a good way! The singer, Fryburger, had so much energy and enthusiasm to be on stage for Hail Santa VI that I was constantly drawn back to what was going on stage, rather than side conversations. They were probably the only band that acknowledged that Hail Santa was going on that night, and I love that someone remembered! They truly set the mood for the second grueling day of Hail Santa VI! Which is bittersweet, as I just heard that they broke up after that show and shall not be playing again... bummer, I wanted to see them at least one more time.

Which leads me to the next local opening band, Rhine. At this point I was a bowl and a drink in, and as I shared a table near the back of the room I was experiencing very strong emotions. I'm talking way strong! First I'll talk about their sound (so much to talk about!). Rhine carried the torch in a soft, emotional, progressive rock fashion with professional stage presence and kind, grateful, and humble words between songs. My initial thoughts were "sounds like Tool", "reminds me of Muse", and "I like this part, it's pretty metal". My final thoughts were scattered, panicked, and somehow excited. I said it and I mean it; strong emotions - I was filled with confusion, delight, embarrassment, excitement, love, and hate - because I couldn't decide how I felt about this band! To this day I couldn't answer the question, "Is Rhine good?" (not to be confused with, "is Rhine any good?") without a long winded explanation and pondering of what one considers to be "good". I couldn't help but laugh at myself for literally fighting back tears as I sat, laughed, and listened to the kind, professional, prog-rock-meets-death-metal-interludes band in front of me. (Keep reading, I'm not finished!) I knew it would be hard to keep this section on Rhine nice and concise, but after reading Invisible Oranges' first impression blurb on them I was better able to formulate my thoughts, and came to this conclusion: 

Rhine - "An Outsider", 2016
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Rhine is a unique experimental project blurring the lines between highly segregated genres, including metal... 
They just aren't meant for Hail Santa.  

But they are totally worth checking out. I advise you to go see them live:
Feb. 20th Rhine (album release show), Odyssian, Ghostblood, Hexengeist @ The Kraken
Feb. 23rd Gravespell, Embryonic Devourment, Rhine @ the Funhouse

If you must listen before you go, or simply cannot wait until the end of the month to hear these guys, they just released their full-length digital album An Outsider on Bandcamp ( You might be confused, or ride a roller coaster of emotions as I did, but I certainly do not think you will be disappointed.

I guess I was riding the "inconsistent emotions" of Rhine's presence at Hail Santa, so Ghostblood left zero impressions on me. No disrespect, I just don't remember a single thing about them. Actually, I am mustering up one lingering thought: High School Battle of the Bands. In Seattle this probably means something very different compared to High School Battle of the Bands in Buttf**k, Alaska, but based on this one single impression I'd give this band an S, for "Satisfactory." I definitely plan on attending future shows to get a better understanding of their sound and aesthetic. 
Here's their info though: Bandcamp: , Encyclopaedia Metallum: , FB: .

So here's something for you.... As embarrassing as it is to admit, I had never heard Atriarch or Wolvhammer before December 12, 2015. I am a mature adult and accept all shaming consequences of not having done so.... That said, I am so grateful I heard them both for the first time live.  

Atriarch has that meditative quality that I have been satiating through YouTube sound clips of didgeridoo, singing bowl, and handpan players (for months and months now). They completely entranced me with their droney, almost goth-rock type vocals lain pillowy atop blackened doom bedding. Their screachy vocals are oh so "Cascadian black metal" delicious, too. I found their sound to be heavy, stark, and seamlessly composed.

Atriarch, 2014
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For me personally, I truly feel the branch of metal in which Atriarch resides is part of what I am missing for true self actualization. 

They come from Portland, OR and I am already mentally planning a short road trip to see them again in 2016. They have 3 full-lengths and a split out, so there's plenty to explore if these guys are new for you too. Enough talk. Go give them a listen! Go! Bandcamp: , Encyclopaedia Metallum: , FB: .

It's hard to follow an act like Atriarch. I remember thinking these exact words as Wolvhammer set up to play, but Wolvhammer wasn't far off from the mark Atriarch left. As the night was wrapping up, I said goodbye to those who were leaving, and stayed the rest of the show on my own. I remember that Wolvhammer entertained, and they entertained hard. I'm reading that they are described as "blackened sludge metal", and although I am not well versed in the ways of sludge, I'd say that is pretty accurate. On one hand, I kind of wish Wolvhammer had played before Atriarch, since Atriarch left me feeling completely and utterly satisfied with the entire night - in a state of zen. But, on the other hand, I'm glad they played last, because after their expulsion of energy and hard entertainment, I don't know if I would have appreciated both as much. These guys also did not seem to know what the whole "Hail Santa VI VI VI" show was about, and did not give a single shout out as a result, but they delivered for sure. I wish I had more to say on these guys, but after having my mind blown twice in one night, I'm not surpirsed I saved my brain energy for remembering the other acts. I'd listen for yourself as I really haven't divulged any information on their sound whatsoever, and I guess I apologize for this.
Metal Bandcamp has a review and a sound clip:
Encyclopaedia Metallum:

There we go! Day 2 Hail Santa VI VI VI! Overall both days were interesting, brutal (in all senses of the word), and full of surprises. Things I was most excited about: uhh, that it happened! I don't think the lineup was announced until 1.5 months before the show because of the issues with The Josephine and scrambling to find a new venue. Also, I'm stoked to walk away with a handful of new bands that I really dig, and can proudly say I saw live the first time I heard them. Last but not least, I was very excited to catch up with people I hadn't seen in a while, some even months. I go to shows for the music, yes, but also for the people. Music comes from people, and both those things energize me and inspire me on so many levels. I am truly grateful that so many people in the metal community were able to make it out!

Now, things I was not so excited about: it was not an all ages show. This happens, but like I said I'm glad the show still happened. I was also bummed about the lack of Hail Santa celebratory "essence", but that is probably just the chained up kid inside me trying to make itself known in the cold, bleak, less-than-enthusiastic air that is Seattle. Although it wasn't the Hail Santa I grew to know, these shows were a great end to an equally interesting, brutal, confusing, roller-coaster year full of surprises that was 2015! I can't wait to see what Hail Santa VII will bring us, but I'm sure everyone has taken a few notes on what they want to see, both new and traditional.


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