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Jucifer, Royal Thunder, Noble Rust, Nigredo
January 2009

Text and photos by Frederick Noble

I like to see Jucifer about once every 2 years. More often and the shock of their sensory assault isn't as impressive. It had been a while, so degenerate CD and I trekked over to Lenny's. I hadn't heard of any of the opening acts, so I'd also get a bunch of entirely new experiences.

First up, assuming the poster on the door was accurate, Nigredo, standing in front of Jucifer's wall of gear already set up. If I remember correctly (I don't have my notes on me) they produced spacey, droney, relatively boring stuff. What surprised me about 'em is it took 5 guys to produce it.

A theme for the night seemed to be "interesting lighting." Nigredo sat in semi-darkness, whereas Noble Rust, the next act, had their lead standing in a spotlight face-on.

I don't remember liking these guys. The drummer is a regular bartender at Lenny's, not the friendliest of fellows, and the racket they produce matches his personality perfectly - rage with no apparent reason or purpose.

Royal Thunder followed, at least for half a song. Then their dramatic lighting - in this case, shifting lights behind the band - blew a fuse and they stopped. No, the amps didn't stop, the band did. Apparently they couldn't perform with merely a stage covered in candles, some dripping wax onto a cow skull. It wasn't dramatic enough without the backlighting so they quit until their lights were restored.

I'm all for a band trying to make the live show a full sensory experience, but I was reminded of a time when Spinal Tap were interviewed on a VH1 show and each member was asked what the greatest musical invention was. Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) answered, "Light."
"Light? Why light?" the interviewer asked.
"Because without light how would anyone know you're there?"

Once light was restored, Royal Thunder made up for their (I thought comical) moment of technical difficulty with an interesting mix of goth/hard/heavy/noise/metal - definitely worth seeing (or hearing, depending on the situation.) Heck, if you're a hippie/metal girl you can even dance to it.

Then the lights were killed entirely for Jucifer. A roadie or two, using little red headlamps, set up the gear. Amber, the guitarist and singer, snuck on stage in a black cloak, plugged in and soon the wall of speakers is humming, droning, screaming out more a sound than tune, something like a Lovecraftian call designed to summon a terrible beast with Amber seemingly already in a trance-like state before their dramatic lighting came up.

Then the creature Amber was summoning appeared, i.e. the drummer, Edgar. 

He assaulted the drum kit, grinning maniacally while Amber "sang", though with the mix from the wall of vibrating death behind them, it was impossible to discern even a syllable.

Live, they don't sound like much - "sludge metal" the kids are calling it these days. It sounds like a diesel locomotive amplified beyond its even normally thunderous volume. For me, seeing Jucifer isn't so much about enjoying it as much as surviving it. It's like standing on the edge of a precipice not for the view but for the sensation of being so close to the edge.

I suspect others feel the same way. The few fans brave enough to stand close seemed to chose an idol - Amber as sex on the left, or Edgar as death on the right.


Heck, I'd go see them every year or two just for the great photo opportunities. I had a tough time narrowing down my favorites (but then I like dark, grainy, blurry photos, obviously.)

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