Walking around Philadelphia on Friday wasn’t so bad. The winter took the day off and temperatures were finally above freezing. I got into the city earlier than expected, as I somehow seemed to beat the I-95 northbound rush hour traffic. I spent some time having a couple drinks at MAC’S TAVERN, which is just down the street from A.K.A. MUSIC, where KRIEG was going to do a free in-store performance. The time drew near, so I made my way over. As the band was loading in and setting up their gear, I spent some time perusing the vinyl records. Their selection is wide and even includes some local bands. If you’re in the Philly area, you should definitely visit their shop and spend some cash. I know I did.
Covered by a black curtain and located in the very back of A.K.A. MUSIC is an empty space with concrete floors and brick walls. That was the “stage” for this intimate performance. While enjoying some free Narragansett beer (provided by A.K.A. MUSIC, THANK YOU!) KRIEG blasted into their set, starting with track two from The Black House, “Deviant.” The speed and rage in this song is a perfect opener and controlled everyone’s attention. The next songs in their set list were “Ambergeist” and “All Paths to God” from 2010’s The Isolationist. They refused to slow down, with Imperial (aka Neill Jameson of TWILIGHT and N.I.L.) delivering a tortured vocal performance. Imperial is a vocalist that you can easily see is fully enthralled in what he is performing; that what he recorded in a studio means just as much then as it does now. This is real, not some fake conjured up bullshit. Their nearly 20 year career can vouch for that.
KRIEG has gone through several line-up changes over the years, and I can honestly say that their live performance this night was tight and sounded great. Without fail, they served up some “Return Fire” followed by “Sick Winds Stir the Cold Dawn” and “Every Wound Burned” from Blue Miasma. The guitars cut through the air like a buzz saw, intertwined with hints of crust and noise. The bass was sludgy and thick, drums unrelenting and loud; each holding the fast rhythms without fail. This was the definition of a DIY show. No mics, no monitors, no stage, no frills. Just a raw, punishing display of KRIEG’s brand of black metal. Everywhere I turned, I saw heads banging and fans looking on in approval. For this to be a free show with free beer seemed as if we were all robbing the place.
“Fallen Princes of Sightless Visions” took us back to The Black House LP. The approximately seven minute long demented tune was my favorite of the night. The song varies greatly in tempo, vocal delivery, and emotion, which was executed perfectly by the quartet. The next one traveled further into the past with “Black Ash Snowfall” from 2002’s Destruction Ritual. The ninth and final song was an exclamation point on the night, as they performed the epic “Gospel Hand.”
Overall, this was a great performance in a very cool setting. It’s incredible to see a band that has existed as long as KRIEG play free shows this many years into their career. I believe that DIY, underground attitude keeps the true spirit of their music alive, and it was alive and well inside of A.K.A. MUSIC that night. On April 19, 2014, otherwise known as Record Store Day, KRIEG will release Isolation/Transmission, a seven inch record limited to 500 copies on orange vinyl. This is a release you don’t want to sleep on! The band also has various splits and cassettes lined up for release as the year rolls on, as well as Transient which is the title of their upcoming LP (release date TBA). 2014 looks to be a big year for KRIEG, and you should pay attention. I saw first-hand what they are capable of in a live setting and I know that these future releases will deliver or surpass expectations. If they haven’t been on your listening or live show radar, put them on it immediately. ~ETB
LIVE REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY ERIC THE BULL