“Impure is the secret that all men speak
Impurity is the secret……”
~The Catechism of Depression, Mournful Congregation
It was one of those days where I never fully woke up, and I’ll admit that the drive downtown alone on the first chilly night of the year to listen to some of the most depressing music of all time was not at the top of my list of things I wanted to do. But as I walked into 5 Star Bar for this first time ever, and took in the awkward space and the small but in the know crowd, I remembered that it’s shows like these that are the foundation of my addiction to live music.
Every town I’ve lived in has this kind of venue…a space that seems to have hosted people who have gotten drunk and gotten laid within these walls for ages, but now, for some reason, a corner has been set aside for music.
Velnias’ black / doom metal hybrid soon filled the room, which, despite the impending fall outside, was growing hotter and damper by the minute. A true roller coaster of sound, the slower upward climb of doom would quickly be replaced by the freefall of black metal cacophony. This is a no frills band, and as I let the music take me on the ride, I only stopped to notice that one of the guitarists had such a murderous stare that if I saw him out on the lonely downtown LA streets I would be chilled to the bone.
I was legitimately frightened of how the Mournful Congregation set would make me feel. Their epic doom with vocals that seems as though they are crawling out of a pit of despair can do nothing but put you in touch with your darkest emotions. From Australia, I would have balked at the mismatch of their sound and my ideals of Aussies had I not recently visited there and found the people to be rather depressed in general. Mournful Congregation’s music is so cinematic and visceral, and it was easy to forget where I was that night. It kind of forced me into a montage flashback of a lot of dramatic scenes of my life over the past few years. As the songs played out, it was as if they reached into my soul and pulled out all the bad stuff and waved it in my face. It was the most unpleasant yet engaging music experience I’ve had in a while. As someone who’s very in touch with my darkest emotions, I can appreciate music that so perfectly reflects that.
If I had been left with that, you would have probably found images of a black camaro being dragged out of the LA river on the morning news. But it was as if satan’s version of divine intervention occurred that a band I had missed the night before…a band that I’ve heard more about in the last week than I’ve heard buzzed about a band in a long time…was tacked on as a closer.
False. There were only about 20 people left in the room, and if you weren’t paying attention, you would have thought she was one of us. As the band began to play onstage, it was like getting cold water splashed on your face. And then, the vocalist turned around at ground level and began screeching and growling into a mic. She immediately transformed from a mildly hipsterish looking gal into a witchy frontwoman who I immediately proclaimed fear and respect for. It was very reminiscent of the first time I saw Grace Perry perform with Landmine Marathon. The whole experience shook me straight out of the trance I had been put into before. By the end of their 20 minute set, I was able to push aside my suicidal fantasies and drive home to face another day.