CONCERT REVIEW: Hulder – Devil Master – Worm – Necrofier Live at Thee Stork Club


The Bay Area is a funny place. In the three-plus years I have lived here I have seen countless great shows in venues large and small. When it comes right down to it, the best shows have been the intimate ones. The uncomfortable ones. The ones when you are right up against people to an unhealthy level, but you’re all feeling every moment of the music together, the ritual, the metal of it all. These are the unforgettable ones that are burned into my brain. Having never been to Thee Stork Club before, I can tell tonight was going to be one of those nights as I headed over for The Decibel Tour, featuring Hulder, Devil Master, Worm, and Necrofier.

Getting out to Oakland early via the BART, I made it to the venue in time to interview Christian from Necrofier, who was mad cool and really real. You can check that out at the Ghost Cult Magazine podcast here. We interviewed sitting in the patio of the club before it opened, and I got the quick lay of the land of the tiny but impressive space. Breaking out of there to let Christian have his pre-show ritual time, I went to grab a bite to eat, but not before checking out Econo-Jam Records across the street, definitely, a future place I will be obsessing about and sacrificing a lot of paychecks to Satan to buy some vinyl. Then I grabbed a very meh two slices pizza after being unable to decide on a better, healthier option. me these days.

Heading back over to the club ahead of doors I waited in line with the faithful flock of true metal fans and it was a lot of fun. Getting into the quickly filling up club, I met up with my photographer Amber, one of the shooters I work with out here, who has been awesome to work with for the last year at local shows. There was already a lot of smoke and atmosphere (props) in the room and the crowd was lively and diverse, which was nice to see. Oakland gets a really bad rap nationally, but honestly, every time I’ve been here, it’s been good times. I do miss Elbo Room and I am hopeful someone will start booking some metal shows again there soon.

First first up tonight was Necrofier, setting the bar high for the entire show by coming to the stage, and just blasting through their six-song set. Drawing from tracks from across their recorded output. They had a really huge band feel, performing balls out for every second of their time. The crowd went nuts for them, as sound blasted out of the tiny stage. Other than a couple of moments of rousing the crowd in between songs, they really didn’t say much, going about their set in a workman-like fashion and just blasting us with their icy riffs and screams!

Worm was up next and they are a lot of fun live. Kind of the more modern Black N Roll, Gothy Vampires-side of Black Metal, and not unlike a brutal Unto Others, less spooky. I felt like their front person was paying a direct homage to the OG of first-wave Norwegian Black Metal, Dead of Mayhem fame, in just a little bit smaller form. Great vocals, great aesthetics, and just a short number of tracks, but a killer set. The only downside is they played in almost total darkness and smoke. I really want to see more of this band going forward on tours such as this.

 

By this time in the night, the club had filled to full capacity, which usually stresses me out a little bit in the post COVID-19 world. But still, I persevered and found a little spot not too far from the front to enjoy the show, eventually working my way up in front of the stage with some familiar faces from the Bay Area metal scene. The sold-out show apparently left some people stuck outside, which just goes to show you the power of the draw of these bands. Shout out to the girl next to me up front who screamed into her cell phone to her friend: “B**** you better get here right away or call me back” because they stopped letting people in at that point.

Devil Master hit the stage like a band used to playing arenas. They had a grandiosity and a panache to their stage presence that’s hard to put into words or just did that would leave anyone the most cynical cult fan impressed. The last thing through their fantastic blackened repertoire, with thrash-inspired solos they had their own fans in the house and their urgent material inspired a little bit of moshing, the first of the night. I just have to shout out this band on every level for what they brought to the table. They were the most singular and different band of the night, which I appreciate because this genre sometimes has a lot of clones and all Black metal shows can feel samey to my ears.

Finally, it was time for Hulder. A lot has been made of this group and the amount of buzz they have generated for their new album Versus In Oath, out now via 20 Buck Spin. A solid to above-average album, but it’s also not my favorite among their output so far. However, I can see why people are fawning over them. Intended as a lone-woman USBM band on albums, Hulder assembled a terrific backing band that should really become part of the full-time act. They came to the stage again like all the other acts, saying next to nothing, not acknowledging the crowd and just kind of performing for themselves as much as anything else. Following “An Elegy” played on tape, they ripped open off the Band-Aid with “Boughs Ablaze” – and absolute killer jam to open the set. In stark contrast to the showmanship of Devil Master, the band performed with more restraint, letting the music do most of the talking, save for the expressive Hulder, herself. The highlights of the set were “Hearkern The End,” the title track of their new album, “Unholy Divine,” and “Upon Frigid Winds.” At this point in the final set of the night, I moved to out of the main front of stage, and into the bar area just to get some air and water. I watched the rest of the set from the back.

What an exceptional evening of underground metal. Almost everything about tonight was great, although the sound in the room wasn’t the greatest. Still, it was an exceptional show with no drama among the fans, fantastic staff in the club, a completely sick collection of merch being sold in the back, and of course, the bands on stage. Get yourself to The Decibel Tour 2024 to see these vital bands. I’ll definitely be back to you soon, Thee Stork Club, so please keep booking cool bands and tours of this caliber.

Get tickets to the remaining dates of the tour here:
https://www.decibelmagazine.com/events/tour/

 

WORDS BY KEEFY

PHOTOS BY AMBER BUCHANAN