How many death metal bands come to mind that you can dance to? Not headbang, not mosh, but really dance to. Well, there’s one more to add to that most likely meager list: France’s groove merchants Trepalium. They brought along a couple of like-minded extreme metal bands, in a hearty attempt to warm up the frozen crowd at the Boston Music Room, and by all accounts the band succeeded marvelously.
First, however, are the support acts, who unfortunately fail to leave an indelible mark. The first, simply called The Brood, deliver Insect Warfare-styled punk-infused grind to a crowd of devotees at the front, who egg vocalist Grunt on as he announces each song title in a gurgle. His Wormrot shirt is soon discarded, leaving the inked man to parade around on the floor trailing a cable, while his bandmates test the noise-making capacity of their instruments. Secondly, Brighton’s Hole In The Sky attempt to bring a tech-death flavor to the night, but due to the venue’s muddy mix, much of the tech is lost and what remains is a blur of Obituary-esque groove. Kudos to the guitarist for saving a pint of beer from falling over, but otherwise this isn’t really their night.
It is, however, a night for partying with Trepalium, and after a brief changeover the French troupe kick out explosively with ‘Moonshine Limbo’ from their latest EP [reviewed here]. Trepalium are loud, especially for those near the speakers, and it is almost physically impossible not to dance or headbang while they work through their boogies. Mercifully the sound issues of earlier seem miraculously resolved, and the brass sections that dotted the EP come through fine over the PA, as does the biting guitar tone of Harun Demiraslan and Nicolas Amosse. Drummer Sylvain Bouvier is a wonder on the drumkit, pulling out mind-bending rhythms in harmony with Ludovic Chauveau on bass.
However, the real fun starts with vocalist Cédric Punda (a.k.a. KK). Painted in ghoulish white paint, the spindly dreadlocked vocalist grooves around the stage like an ‘insane architect’, to quote one of their song titles, or a demented master of voodoo ceremonies. In this latter case, the crowd are the possessed: one particular guy wearing the band’s shirt would give the local dance group a run for their money with his legwork, while another insists on sticking the metal horns in each band member’s face, and several others are windmilling their hair in time to the grooves. Each song is greeted and bidden farewell with a hearty response, and we also admire’s Cédric’s humble nature between mumbled phrases about his lack of confidence in English. No matter, his growls and scats are phenomenal in each track, and it’s a wonder the man’s got vocal chords left by the time finale ‘Usual Crap’ rolls around.
Despite a dodgy sound system, tonight Trepalium provide a cracking evening of voodoo hoodoo. The band are teetering on the brink of much-deserved recognition in metal, and our fingers remain crossed that they return to the UK soon for another spot of moonlight and moonshine.