Both of these projects are connected to the old school. Birth A.D. consists of members of Diabolus, Death of Millions, Krieg and other well-respected black metal acts. Goatcraft is a solo project of a former After Death musician who has participated in old school metal activities alongside Alan Moses of Glorious Times.
With that in mind, it would have been folly to miss either of these, and neither disappointed.
Goatcraft lit up the stage at Numbers with morbid soundtrack piano playing and blood-drenched standoffish indifference to the modern world.
The Numbers staff were running late and opened the venue an hour after its scheduled opening, turning away several groups who had come to catch the opening act. The staff quickly bounced back in order to open the four bars that decorate that ancient Houston venue, which is showing all of its age as it looks like the facility has not been maintained since its 1980s heyday. For these reasons, Goatcraft faced a smaller than average crowd.
The music of Goatcraft is best described as semi-improvisational horror movie soundtrack musics with the dynamics of death metal, like a cross between Ric Wakeman and a John Carpenter soundtrack with all the knobs kicked to the right. Goatcraft pianist Lonegoat created a 45-minute set of high-intensity theatrical piano atmosphere that left the crowd stunned.
Walking into a venue and hearing this music, both as a prelude and as a setter of the atmosphere, is vastly preferable to the ordinary introduction to a live show. In addition, the mixture of violent piano with an emphasis on brutal chromatic fills not unlike those in death metal and the underlying melodies that would perfectly accompany an eerie film made for an enjoyable musical event.
On the other side of town, at the White Swan, Birth A.D. loaded up gear to play a set of thrash. Thrash was music named after thrashers, or skateboarders (synonyms: skaters, hessians, threshers, heshers) and was a hybrid of metal riffs and punk songs: short, fast, alienated and cynical. What was different about thrash was that it did not accept political, religious or economic solutions but saw the world through a skaters-eye view, which was looking at things as they were experienced to see where they were defective.
Birth A.D. steps straight into the latter half of this tradition, from the irate years of the late 1980s when S.O.D. and D.R.I. dominated the world of thrash with their upgraded musical proficiency, slightly longer songs and mocking, intelligent lyrics.
In order to accomodate a scheduling snafu, Birth A.D. rushed the latter half of their set, but the songs are played at lightning speed normally. Guided by the voice of Jeff A.D. who spits out more words-per-minute than an Olympic typist, the band charges ahead with its simple but engaging fare that takes what was great about 1980s music and carries it onward into the present day and beyond.
The band debuted newer material as well. The newer songs make better use of Jeff A.D.'s singing voice, and show more variety in pacing and riff-writing. The new album, titled I Blame You, is being shopped to labels right now and will see release once a label signs this hard-working, self-promoting, humorous and energetic band.
For a Saturday night in the dog days of summer, as activities wind down in preparation for school and/or temperatures under 105 F, the appearance of Goatcraft and Birth A.D. was a massive event for the Houston metal scene and thankfully received by a legion horde of sweaty, bruised and bloody metallers.