The second installment of the Scion Rock Fest was another rousing success, with metal fans from all over the region making their way to Columbus for a day of free shows, courtesy of auto maker Scion. This year, instead of all the band's being conveniently on location -- as they were last year, at Atlanta's Masquerade Club -- we got four venues of varying sizes (from the cavernous Newport Music Hall to the shoebox-like basement of Bernie's Distillery) that were about a mile apart from each other, all along North High Street. The free shuttles helped (especially in the grim and drizzly weather), but there were still many logistical choices to make (which is the main reason you won't see any Voivod or Cannibal Corpse shots here).
Hopping on a shuttle back down the street, I got back into jammed Circus just in time to see Wino come out on stage and lead the band into a ripping cover of Blue Öyster Cult's "Hot Rails To Hell." (Incidentally, I'd seen Blue Öyster Cult play the previous weekend, but that wasn't on the set list.) Back to Skully's, I caught Acrassicauda, one of the foreign bands on the bill. Last year there were several imports from overseas (Boris, Tyr, Alestorm, 1349, Septic Flesh), but transportation and likely a more limited budget meant that more homegrown bands were featured this time around. Acrassicauda is Iraq's most famous metal band -- not a deep field, presumably -- and the now-Brooklyn transplants fused an original take on thrash metal with traditional Middle Eastern melodies.
Acrassicauda was just one of many of the myriad sub-genres on display at Scion, which included large helpings of black metal (Black Anvil, Lightning Swords, Absu), hardcore (vets D.R.I. and relative newcomers Trap Them), instrumental psych-metal (Pelican) and the feral-eyed uncategorizableness of Thou. For me, missing Shrinebuilder was not an option, so that meant that I stayed in Skully's from Pelican onward. Having seen Voivod deliver an excellent set the Friday beforehand in Worcester made that decision a bit easier, but that also meant foregoing Magrudergrind, Absu, Lucrida and Brutal Truth. Next time I need to find the clone machine.
The surprise of the day was how great Yob was. It was a very rare set (the Oregon doom-metal band had ground to a halt in '06 before slowly rising back to its prodigious powers with last year's release of The Great Cessation), and many festivalgoers made it a priority. The band fed off this energy to deliver a crushing mantra of blackened notes. Three and half songs clocked in at around an hour, and the jammed room was suffocated in their smothering blanket. Finally the über-group Shrinebuilder closed things out, featuring members of massively important bands like the Melvins (drummer Dale Crover), St. Vitus (Wino), Sleep and Om (Al Cisneros) and Neurosis (Scott Kelly) -- undoubtedly the Travelling Wilburys for the denim and leather crowd.
Shrinebuilder has released only a four-song 12-inch, so we could pretty much predict the set list, but the band also tossed out a great cover of Joy Division's "24 Hours." (Kelly called Joy Division the first doom band.) They also played a new song from an upcoming record, so despite everyone's other day jobs, it looks like they've reserved some space to keep this project going.