Review: Denver Black Sky brings fine names in festering extreme metal underground to the Gothic

The Gothic Theatre on South Broadway in Englewood.

Image via Jake Tharan

The Gothic Theatre on South Broadway in Englewood.

Jake Tharan, Arapahoe Pinnacle Music Critic

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South Broadway’s famous Gothic Theatre hosted the third annual Denver Black Sky festival over the weekend for a grimy underground metal showcase.

The general masses will not see any names listed on the bill that are recognizable.

Some people won’t even be able to transcribe the band names when not typeset in a font that is easy to read.

Nonetheless, Denver Black Sky brings in the finest names from the festering extreme metal underground and packs them into the Gothic Theatre in Englewood for a night of crushing, sometimes dissolute music.

This year’s festivities included established legends and hometown heroes.

One of bands featured on the cold night was Havok, the fast-rising thrash metal band native to Colorado.

Each member of the band displays extremely impressive musical savvy, and attending one of their shows will give you a taste of the talent that Denver metal has birthed. Their guitar work is crisp and their song structures display a vintage-thrash taste highly reminiscent of old-school titans such as Exodus and Megadeth. Each song is full of finely-crafted riffs and hooks.

Their performance will make any Denver metal-head proud to hail from the same state as them.

The other two Denver bands on the bill were In the Company of Serpents and Khemmis, both of whom exhibit authentic doom metal. Think of ‘doom metal’ as the slow tempo, down-tuned riff creature of metal.

These bands conjure a thick wall of sound with memorable riffing, making it nearly impossible not to bang your head along with the rhythm. Both of these acts further back up the claim that Denver is home to thrilling metal bands full of talent.

The Gothic’s old school interior makes it one of the most visually appealing venues in the Denver area. The chandelier hanging over the dance floor is a great sight to behold when watching any band perform on stage.

For this installment of Denver Black Sky, a small stage was set up across from the main stage so there were no breaks in between sets. It was just rotating performances of continuous music – eardrums were not given any time to recover.

The headliners of the festival were Pig Destroyer and Skinless, the former displaying a frenetic grind-core style, while the latter performed a heavy slab of New York death metal.

Both bands have longevity in the metal scene and reduce the crowd to a pile of rubble by the end of the night.

As usual, the sound setting is a fine component of the Gothic Theatre.

Earplugs will certainly preserve your hearing at an event like this, but metal fans enjoyed the live mix of the performers on the bill.

Muddy production is a staple of bands like these. Clean tones, whether live or in the studio, aren’t required for bands that operate comfortably in the dark realms of the underground.

If you have been a resident of Denver for awhile, chances are you’ve seen a show at this venue. It is a hotspot for Denver music of all genres, never limited to local or national, always providing a superb live music experience.

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