I drove up to the wonderful Ottobar in Baltimore to catch a noise-rock double-bill so too-good-to-be-true that it was as if the lords of aggression themselves had forged it. I imagine these mighty creatures in their red-glowing cave, dipping their battle-scarred fists into molten iron, before plunging them into icy mountain rapids to cool and harden. The first fist of fury they named Keelhaul. The second they fastened to the end of a tree-trunk to fashion a warhammer; this they called Unsane. For decades these two mystic weapons of pummel made their way through the mortal world wrecking havoc on any and all who encountered them. Separated for many years by the fog of war, on Saturday night these two legendary forces reunited in a furious concert that stirred the blood and let slip the dogs of war.
Noise-rock is mostly about the musical expression of one thing: aggression. It isn’t pretty music, it isn’t nice. Noise-rock doesn’t ask politely and noise-rock never ever says “I’m sorry”. Noise-rock karate-chops you in the throat and knees you in the groin. Noise-rock throws you to the ground by your shirt-collar and pummels you with telephone books. It’s angry man music and it has been too damn long since this area’s tapped into the real old-school source of the stuff. The other night Boris and Russian Circles put on an amazing display of thinking man’s metal; at Saturday night’s Keelhaul/Unsane show you were too busy dodging blunt sonic jabs and throwing fists of your own to do much thinking. While you experience a post-metal show; with a good noise-rock show you are lucky to survive. Saturday night’s concert was so damn good I barely made it out alive.