Tubal Cain closes Art In and celebrates a new album of stark black metal

Saturday, February 29, Art In, 7 p.m. Info

February 29 is Art In’s last night in operation, which means that Madison is losing one of its most steadfast independent venues. The good news is that Madison has a pretty healthy mix of smaller music venues these days, but Art In has stood out these past few years for its almost freewheeling approach to booking, which brought in a wide variety of artists and audiences. At its best, Art In truly felt like a product of our gloriously messy music community, and by extension offered an important local venue for touring artists who might have otherwise skipped Madison. My favorite memories include a gloriously wacky release show for Lovely Socialite’s DoubleShark EP, the consciousness-scraping electronic assault of Rabit, an experimental sound installation from local duo Filament, a burst of funk from Wilder Deitz and band that seemed to take the whole audience by surprise, and an infectiously fun set just a couple weeks ago from the five young MCs of SupaFriends. So it’s some comfort to see Art In go out on a high note, hosting a release show for a new album from a very good and very fun Madison metal band.

Tubal Cain’s new album, Summon The Mist, is the band’s first release since bassist Bo Chrome Bones joined the founding duo of guitarist/vocalist Alex Drake and drummer/vocalist Kristine Drake. So far, Tubal Cain has been planted pretty firmly in the earliest and most stripped-down forms of black metal, incorporating some doomy undercurrents and the chunky swagger of Iron Maiden. In live sets and on the 2016 album Black Eden, the band balanced the chilling menace of the Drakes’ grimy screamed vocals and austere production values with the accessibility of meaty, concise riffs, and drumming that incorporates both punishing blastbeats and a healthy amount of swing. On Summon The Mist, the band expands on its sound just a bit, starting with a short instrumental, simply called “Intro,” that layers on synths and several mournful tracks of acoustic and electric guitar. 

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But aside from a few other touches here and there, like the high synth sweeps that accent “Welcome To Gehenna,” this record mostly sets out to enrich the band’s hard-hitting core. Tubal Cain’s riffs are as driving and dense as ever, thanks in part to Chrome Bones’ drilling bass performance, which simultaneously plays off of Kristine Drake’s double kick drums and Alex Drake’s cutting guitar. Especially on the pummeling “Battle Ass” and the tense album closer “Let’s Go To The Sabbath,” it’s clear that Chrome Bones has locked in mightily with what was already a full-sounding two-piece, playing relentlessly heavy but never overly rigid bass parts.

As is always the case with Tubal Cain, one of Summon The Mist‘s great strengths is the Drakes’ vocal pairing, a narrow but charismatic menu of growls and screeches. “Rebirth” is the best Kristine Drake’s paint-peeling rasp has ever sounded on record. Alex Drake’s slightly lower voice takes on a tormented, spectral dimension on “In The Tall Corn.” And the two share lead vocal duties on “Lycanthropix,” which was also released on an earlier seven-inch but benefits greatly from an all-new take here. Matt Jacobs of Ossuary and Jex Thoth recorded the album, and succeeds at capturing the core strengths of Tubal Cain while working in a few new sonic twists here and there. Ossuary, an excellent death-metal trio from Madison, will also be playing this final Art In show, as will DJ Heavy Eye and Milwaukee band Lost Tribes Of The Moon. 

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