The Rickety Old Shack

Live Show Review: Abigail Williams — September 7th, 2018

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As is often the case, I will buy tickets to a show just to see one of the supporting bands and just cross my fingers and hope the other acts are good. I can't recall ever being disappointed with this method, but I guess there's always a chance. This time out, I picked up tickets to see Ghost Bath for a third time in roughly 2 years, and didn't even realise they weren't the headlining act. I thought that was a bit weird, given that I'd never heard of Abigail Williams and Ghost Bath are signed to a 'big' label in Nuclear Blast Records. It didn't truly matter, but the optics were a bit odd.

The venue was the same place as I'd seen Aborted earlier this summer, although the turnout for this show was significantly smaller. I was surprised by this, but then again I'm a bit of a hermit so I have no idea what the Hell else was going on in Ottawa that night or what the cool kids do. I showed up at 7:00pm sharp, which meant I ended up waiting a bit before the first band started. People slowly started to show-up, just as the show finally started. One of these days I'll remember to check the set times beforehand...

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Serene Dark was the first band, a local black / death metal act who also brought a guest singer with them. They had a good set, ripping through a bunch of buzzing, aggressive black metal with a lot of screaming. The one knock on the band's sound was the vocalist pretty much never took a break, which made every track sound fairly indistinguishable after a while. The band was tight and I'll make a point to check out their recorded work; not a terrible performance but I wasn't blown away.

Bandcamp link: serenedark.bandcamp.com

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Next up was another local group, a progressive mix of death metal and djent. Dissentient played a really groove-heavy set that I quite enjoyed, and I was surprised to find out that they have recorded material dating back to 2011 as all the members looked very young. The majority of their songs were instrumental, with a brief death growls in some passages. I'm going to deduct points since some of the fan support they brought didn't stick around for the other bands, but otherwise they were very good. I'd like to hear some newer material, given their most current EP is from 2013.

Bandcamp link: dissentient.bandcamp.com

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This is the part of the bill that confused me; Dopethrone were next, but I had them confused with one of the other illegible logos on the tour flyer. I thought they were called "Wolf Mother," only to later figure out that it read Wolvhammer — and they didn't play on this tour stop. I should have figured things out when they sounded like Gateways-era Bongzilla, but that realisation took a while to dawn on me. Dopethrone played a good set of filthy, dirty, blackened stoner metal. They even brought in a guest singer, a local friend of theirs who had her entire face covered in tattoos, which made for an interesting visual as she downed a couple of strong drinks and screamed her brains out. I don't listen to nearly as much doom or stoner metal as I used to, but this set hit the spot perfectly.

Bandcamp link: dopethrone.bandcamp.com

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Finally, we go to the reason I even left my hermit shack: the mighty Ghost Bath. Their set was, as usual, extremely tight and enjoyable. They went through the material I wanted to hear, including "The Golden Number" and "Thrones." It was a brief set, about a half-hour, so we only got a few songs, but they sounded excellent and experiencing the wall of sound Ghost Bath produces in the live setting is always great. I'm hoping to catch the band on a headlining tour again, so I can hear more material but otherwise I will continue to hand over my money every time they come through Ottawa. No complaints here, except about the brevity of their set.

Bandcamp link: ghostbath.bandcamp.com

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At this point, I was a bit confused. Some of that may have had to do with the number of beer I'd consumed, but who's to say. Abigail Williams took the stage, although at the time I still hadn't figured out that Wolvhammer wasn't on the bill, so I was under the impression I was watching Dopethrone — and that there was still another band to go. Regardless of all this, Abigail Williams proceeded to kick my ass with a virtually non-stop set of black metal awesomeness. A three-piece, the group filled the entire venue with smoke, never acknowledge the crowd, and ripped through a really solid set of material that flowed perfectly from one song to the next. Of particular note was their drummer, who absolutely destroyed the kit and featured very prominently in the sound mix. I'd never heard of the band prior to this — and it would take me a bit to figure out it was, in fact Abigail Williams I'd just seen — but they made a fan that night.

Bandcamp link: abigailwilliamsofficial.bandcamp.com

By now it's midnight, and I'm still thinking there's another band left... My beer-soaked brain didn't take too long to realise everyone was slowly leaving and the stage was being disassembled, not prepped for another performance. This was after I'd bought yet another tallboy of PBR, which I ended up consuming far quicker than good sense or taste would dictate and sauntered off to take the bus home. I arrived home without incident by 1:30am and had figured out the correct names of the bands I'd seen and considered it a great night out. My ticket was a great value, I didn't wake up brutally hungover the next day — despite my best efforts — and I've got a bunch of new bands to research and listen to. All told, another successful metal show.

—by Derek

Published: September 10th, 2018.