Last Night: At Odds With God, the Absence, Upheaval and Synapticide at the Culture Room


At Odds With God

The Absence, Upheaval, Kalakai, At Odds with God, Synapticide

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale

Better Than: Pushing down the biggest, baddest motherfucker in the mosh pit and stealing his beer.

Death metal is kind of like an orgiastic heathen ritual with more hatin’ and less tree-huggin’. It goes like this: A bunch of black-clad people with long stringy hair (all the better for flinging) show up at a venue to listen to a band (members of which are also black-clad and sporting long stringy hair). The band substitutes chanting and singing with growling and general carryings-on about blood, death, and how much the world sucks. Then, all those black-clad audience members form a circle and start inflicting minor physical abuse on each other in a pounding, euphoric, head-bangin’ way. Sometimes it's brutal and bad ass, but the rock gods love it.

Now multiply all that brutality by five to account for each of the bands—headliner the Absence, plus four openers (two of them, At Odds With God and Synapticide, are Fort Lauderdale-based)—who graced Culture Room on Saturday night with their angst, mad-crazy guitar riffs, and guttural, ear-splitting howls.

Synapticide front man Everett Barber ripped his shirt off and his sweaty torso gleamed from the stage like a sinewy beacon as he called everyone “fuckers” and tried to incite moshing. He growled and screamed the lyrics to songs like “Blood Lust Exquisite” (You know, happy stuff, about butterflies and shit.) At one point he cocked his finger like a gun and pretended to shoot himself in the face.

Next came At Odds With God, fronted by leather-clad Nina Saile, who, with cheek-puffing, primal screeching, growled out a plethora of songs from their “Earning Damnation CD. Also worth mentioning: At Odds’ guitarists (Diego Montoya and Alejandro Maya) impressively shredded the shit out of riff after head-bangin’ riff. Kalakai’s thrash-intensive set drew a shitload of scorned women into the mosh pit with a song called “True Love is Homicide” (or, every relationship I’ve ever been in).

Miami's Upheaval rocked hard, too (ever seen a bunch of short-haired guys head bang? Three words: phantom hair syndrome), but by then, both me and the guy with the leather jacket flung over his shoulder were getting antsy for the main act.

The Absence was well-worth the wait. Having had their bus, trailer, and MySpace page stolen by their ex-drummer (the guy selling their T-shirts told me this), these power performers had an extra amount of angry energy to expel onstage. The Room had been sparsely populated all night, but it filled out for the headliner and created a mosh pit so all-encompassing that I got body-checked at least twice and wound up with someone’s beer streaming down my leg. Front man Jamie Stewart violated the death metal social contract (performers must call audience members “fuckers”) by being startlingly gracious and politely asked us if we were tired. We answered with a resounding “no” and threw our hands in the air (index and pinky fingers extended) as our death metal orgy hit its explosive climax to the cadence of “Summoning the Darkness.” After nearly three hours of death metal and you’re still throwin’ the horns? That’s how you know you got the real deal.

Critic’s Notebook

Personal Bias: There’s nothing sexier than guys whose vocal cords sound like they’ve been put through a cheese grater.

Random Detail: During a song, the Odds With God front woman got her mile-long hair tangled up in her very ornate leather wristband.

By the Way: A lot of hot, midriff-barin’ goth chicks tend to show up at these sort of things and mosh with the best of them.

-- Tara Nieuwesteeg

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Jonathan Cunningham