"It's a good day to be a metalhead," declared the lead singer of Boston-based metal quintet Ramming Speed about halfway through their set at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn Friday night. One of his guitar players quickly added, "EVERY day is a good day to be a metalhead.
Ramming Speed was the second of three bands to hit the stage for the evening, and perhaps the only dyed in the wool metal band of the bunch. Opening band The Golden Grass, who were making their live debut, mine more of a classic rock/power pop vein, and headliners Windhand owe as much to spacey psychedelic rock as they do to the doom metal they're generally associated with.
The doom appellation may have as much to do with the scene from which they originate as it does to their sound - they hail from Richmond, Virginia, which is right next door to the Baltimore-Washington, DC doom metal scene. In truth, they have as much in common with heavy psychedelic bands like Bardo Pond as they do with any doom metal outfit, meaning they owe a debt as much to Hawkwind as they do to Black Sabbath.
Lead singer Dorthia Cottrell seemed like something of a reluctant frontwoman, spending most of their set either with her back to the audience or hunched over the microphone (which may be necessary to create the echoey effects of her vocals. The band's atmospheric dronily-distorted guitars hung like a cloud over Saint Vitus, with the reverby ending of each song bleeding into the start of the next.
For their part, Ramming Speed offered up an amalgam of styles, ranging from punk to death/grindcore to an Iron Maidenesque twin guitar attack. At times, they almost seemed like a postmodern, John Zorn-like approach to metal, cutting and pasting different styles into one song with unpredictable results.
The Golden Grass made for a quirkier start to the evening. A power trio with a microphoned drummer and a thick groove, they ran through a set of 70s style hard rock and pop, complete with wag guitar effects and moments recalling late-era Who.