SHOW REVIEW: Witchtrap, Hod, Sturmgewehr, Womanthrower at the Korova – San Antonio, TX 11/12/13

Contributed by Jake Holmes
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Although I’m almost always at weekday shows in the city of Austin, I usually can’t make trips to San Antonio shows from Sunday through Thursday due to work commitments in the morning.  For Tuesday’s show at the Korova, however, I had to make an exception to drive down to see Colombia’s black/speed metallers Witchtrap play their first show in the U.S. of A.  After an excruciating drive through rush-hour Austin traffic (which I know to expect every time I make the drive at that hour and somehow it still manages to infuriate me like it hasn’t happened a million times), I made a pit stop at a fine Jim’s establishment in San Antonio (SUPPORT!).  I caught up with an old friend from Killeen thrash metal band Hexlust, and headed to the Korova to catch an amazing show that I am happy to provide a complete account of below.  The show began with San Antonio thrashers Womanthrower (and yes, you read that name correctly).

Womanthrower is a very entertaining live band, with a heavy thrash metal sound that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  I’m usually not into thrash with lyrical subjects that focus on partying, but Womanthrower have enough conviction to pull the style off, much like ’80’s Portland thrash kings Wehrmacht. Their sound reminds me a lot of the first Carnivore album mixed with the second Carnivore album with a touch of Demolition Hammer (mainly in the guitar tone) for good measure, and anyone reading this column (or just happened to stumble upon my author bio on the site) should know that I support anything that sounds like Carnivore.  The band was playing as a four-piece tonight, as bassist Danny “Blackwolf” Luebben was playing guitar in Hod on the same night (more on that in a minute).  Nonetheless, the rumbling bass and powerful guitar filled out the sound in the room and also allowed the guitar solos to stand out against the solitary presence of the bass guitar.  Vocals, delivered by a character by the name of John Womanthrower, barked out exaltations to inebriation in a mid-range shout and often yelled out lyrics in a rapid-fire pattern.  The drumming was very energetic, complimenting the rest of the band and locking into a punk-thrash rhythm whenever the song calls for it.  Ending with “Beer, Sex & Violence” (an obvious homage to Carnivore), Womanthrower showed that they were a great fit for this show, especially as a last-minute fill-in for a band that had dropped.  Womanthrower plays San Antonio consistently, so if you dig thrash metal, you’d be wise to check them out.

With the conclusion of Womanthrower’s set, it was time for the Korova to bear witness to San Antonio’s purveyors of blackened violence, Sturmgewehr.  Sturmgewehr has gone through some lineup changes since the last time I saw them (which may have been the Rites of Darkness III prefest, although I had seen them many times before then) and they have added a second guitarist.  This second guitar greatly enhances their power in a live environment, and from the first song I was floored by how massive their onstage tone sounded now.  Sturmgewehr plays a mix of punk and black metal, with d-beats over inverted chords and shrieking vocals.  The bass tone is distorted and pick-driven, adding an extra level of sonic grinding into the Sturmgewehr sound, which as previously mentioned benefited immensely from the wall of sound that both guitarists were contributing to.  Although speedy d-beats were plenty, there were also a number of atmospheric slower sections that drew from the black metal side of the band’s influences.  The guitar chords contributed to the harsh environment of these sections, with the drums crashing away with precise and powerful technique to allow for headbanging.  Vocally, frontman Zach Daniels concentrates on a hateful rasp, screeching out declarations of misanthropy and anger which match the aura of Sturmgewehr’s music.  Closing with “Stoking the Embers of Woe”, Sturmgewehr’s set went by quickly but was nonetheless an excellent part of Tuesday’s lineup, bringing an aggressive touch that was greatly appreciated.

Black/death metal warriors Hod are always a good addition to any extreme metal show, and Tuesday’s show was no exception.  The five horsemen of metallic destruction played with violence and force (spot the Exciter quote) to a receptive audience that made its way up front to mosh and bang their heads.  This was also the second time a new song “Where Are The Demons?” was played, and with riffs that to my ears reminded me of the “In The Eyes of Ioladanach” period of Absu combined with the usual Hod touch, it was a great fit for the rest of the material that was played.  Bassist Trans Am (fresh off an inaugural tour with Houston death metallers War Master) delivered his speed-picked basslines to occupy the low-end of the sonic spectrum against the twin riffing of the guitars and clash of the drums.  The band closed with “Demoralizer”, which never fails to get a pit going, with its shoutable chorus and ending chant of “Are you wanting to die?”, ending the song in a manner similar to the immortal “Do you want to die?” line from Slayer’s “Postmortem”.  We’ve covered Hod many times over the course of this column, always with positive words, so we’ll move on to Witchtrap’s headlining set.

I am very pleased to report that the first Witchtrap show on U.S. soil was an absolute ripper of a time, consisting of an hour and a half of old-school black/thrash with a notable heavy metal influence.  To me, many of the riffs recalled a mix of “Show No Mercy”-era Slayer and classic Destruction, while some of the slower, more melodic moments brought Accept and Iron Maiden to mind.  It was an ideal blend of extreme metal with a classic metal mentality and the crowd absolutely loved it.  Witchtrap played a whopping seventeen songs, including crowd favorites “Ripping Torment”, “Dark Lord” (which resulted in an especially crazy mosh pit), and the first song Witchtrap ever wrote — the eponymous “Witchtrap”.  The sound was perfect all night long, with the bass, drums, and guitar blasting away in perfect sync.  Bass guitarist Enforcer had several show-stealing moments where the bass took the lead role, including the anthemic “Metal Army March” with a memorable vocals-and-bass verse.  Frontman Burning Axe Ripper’s vocals were akin to Schmier’s on Destruction’s “Infernal Overkill” album, and his guitar playing was electrifying, bringing songs like “Metal Mania” to another level with his skilled soloing.  It seemed as if Witchtrap also wore a good amount of Sodom influence on their sleeves, particularly from the “Obsessed By Cruelty” album, as evidenced by the patterns of the riffing and drummer Witchhammer’s pseudonym.  A select few mosh warriors dominated the pit for most of the performance, thrashing around at many faster parts of Witchtrap’s set (and there was certainly no shortage of speed through the ninety minutes), and the audience was also appreciative and clearly here for the music and not because it was “hip” or because they just happened to wander into the bar to drink.  In fact I saw more patch-adorned vests at this show than I have in quite some time, which is always a good sign at a speed metal show.  It looked as if the show was going to end with one of the band’s defining works, “B.L.M.D.” (which stood for “Blood Leather Metal Damnation”), but even after an hour and a half of visceral black speed metal, the crowd was still not done, demanding an encore that was provided in the form of “Pay in Blood”.  With this final metal hymn, Witchtrap left the stage and ensured that this would be a show that the audience would remember for some years to come.

San Antonio (and a select number of Austinites who made the trek — represent!) came out in force and welcomed Witchtrap with open arms, and I’d say it was an excellent first show in the US from an audience perspective.  For those who may not know, I lived in San Antonio for three-and-a-half years, and it was the main city where I went to local shows when I first started attending them.  As such, it’s great to come back to the city, see old friends, and thrash like a maniac. That having been said, hails and thanks to Witchtrap, Hod, Sturmgewehr, and Womanthrower for putting on killer performances, and to the legendary Hogwild Records and the Korova for putting the show on.  Additional hails go to Tomas Stench of Morbosidad and his wife for always having great patches for sale at shows, allowing me to snag an Obeisance patch to add on to my vest (which is pretty much out of real estate at this point, not that this is a bad thing).  This may have been Witchtrap’s “First Necromancy Over [The] U.S.” (as printed on their tour shirt which I am now a proud owner of), but let’s hope it isn’t the last.  See you around, San Antonio!

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jgsdm

Jake Holmes is a Central Texas heavy metal writer who lives by the pen and will (likely) die by the sword.  Originally from a suburban town outside of North Austin, Holmes moved to San Antonio during his college years.  After several years and thousands of miles driven to see shows in San Antonio and Austin, he returned to the Austin area due to his graduation and continued to see as many shows as humanly possible.  His interests include going to shows, blasting Carnivore as loudly as possible on the way to shows, and sleeping upon his return to his home from shows.  His “dislikes” include hearing loss, traffic, and unnecessary bonus tracks on album reissues.

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