Being a metal fan in 2017 can be both masochistic and rewarding. Trolls absolutely love to rip apart any and every band, leaving few survivors. The black metal scene is at war with white supremacist apologists and/or outright racists and then you have the diminishing-return corporate side where watered-down bands get pushed and rewarded the most by labels. Few actually extreme bands manage to connect and build a strong enough following to cross over with something resembling mainstream appeal. But six-piece Tennessee kings of deathcore Whitechapel have decidedly done just that.
Like “New Wave of American Heavy Metal” leaders Lamb of God, Whitechapel has refined and expanded their craft over time. I personally think some of the newer stuff with clean vocals on the recent Mark of the Blade album like the song “Bring Me Home” was more interesting than some of their more mono-lateral early material, if more nuanced and less intense of a barrage. Some people will only like the early stuff, however, as a certain destructive strain of metalheads are super-into one upping one another over who is the most edgy, brutal and purest fan. Anyway, if you love the earliest material of a band six albums into their career, Whitechapel are currently celebrating ten years since their debut The Somatic Defilement and will be headlining over seven other bands of lesser caliber at The Chance in Poughkeepsie on Friday, Nov. 17. Doors are at 7 p.m., but personally I would show up later when technical death metal band Entheos starts so you only have a four band bill to avoid serious ear fatigue.
I am not sure who Whitechapel will have on drums as their most recent drummer Ben Harclerode left the band recently to pursue his own happiness. Personally I would love to be in a Billboard-charting metal band, but who am I to judge? Whitechapel have always had an exploding drummer problem and managed to keep it together, so I am sure the show will be fine.
Coming up sooner and closer to home, post-punk art rock institution Pere Ubu are making a stop this Friday, Nov. 10 at BSP Kingston. Garage-rock howlers Young Skulls open and feature alumni from rocking acts like Chrome Cranks, Les Savy Fav and El Front. Expect the Young Skulls to be hitting the stage hard as they are stoked to open for Pere Ubu but also try to give every act a listen. The whole night ought to be a great spectacle of noise.
Pere Ubu is another watershed booking for the venue; with The Get Up Kids coming in December, it’s clear that very respected legacy acts are taking Kingston seriously as a tour stop nowadays. Tickets are available locally (cash only, no fees) at outdated: an antique café and Rocket Number Nine, both in Uptown Kingston. The show is 18+ and is $25 with an 8 p.m. start time.
In case you are not a super geek who spends most of the day on Twitter following politics, comic book culture and the intersections of politics and comic book culture, run to the movie theater and see Thor: Ragnarok tonight! It was really good. Cate Blanchett is amazing as Hela, probably the coolest villain in the Marvel movies yet. She is unimpressed by anyone and I am super here for it. The movie also is just plain fun, something the country really needs right now. I also am excited for Nazis to freak out when they realize the Norse Gods face becoming refugees.
The banter between Hulk and Thor is hysterical, Jack Kirby can be felt in much of the cosmic aesthetic and Valkyrie as played by Tessa Thompson steals almost every scene she is in (though her bisexual character doesn’t get any substantive bi representation in actual screentime). Still, this is one of the top Marvel films by far and is going to prove a huge win for the company setting them up nicely for the awesome looking and super anticipated Black Panther feature that is on deck. New Zealand’s Taika Waititi did a killer job and like Wonder Woman it shows what a comic book movie can do when not helmed from the same old perspectives. In related diverse sci-fi news, I am really looking forward to Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle In Time, which also looks amazing.
If there is any one theme this week it is that while the road may be bumpy, following your vision is the best thing you can do. Life itself is diverse and full of the potential to create magical moments. I hate seeing so much bigotry and fear in humanity when the whole sky above us is a vault of stars reminding us of our potential. Three cheers for entertainers, artists and everyday people who take the time to color outside the lines and capture what it means to really embrace their own freedom and sense of self-discovery, rather than giving lip service to “freedom” while pushing for uniformity, religious intolerance and oppression.