Confessor, in preparation

A reviewer’s nightmare, turns out, isn’t having to write about a show that sucked; it’s having to write about a show that was so phenomenal that the only thing left to say is, “Damn, that rocked.”

That’s the position yours truly finds herself in—struggling to put into words exactly how good Confessor was Friday night at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre. Indeed, I’m wondering if I should cancel my vacation and instead go see Confessor a second time at next weekend’s Maryland Death Fest in Baltimore. Lord knows when this band might play again.

Two locals, Jonin and Parasite Drag (which includes Confessor bass player Cary Rowells), opened. Parasite Drag was especially notable for its Torche-meets-U2 heavy melodicism. But this was Confessor’s night, and considering the number of local old-schoolers in the audience, it was really a kind of metal family reunion. It was also a reunion that the band’s far-flung fans could take part in, as the show was webcast on Ustream.

Since Confessor hasn’t played consistently in years, Friday’s show served as a dress rehearsal of sorts for the Maryland Death Fest appearance. The non-stop practicing they’ve put in since agreeing to perform at MDF showed. An absolute machine, they came propelled by Steve Shelton’s mathematically precise drumming and punctuated by Scott Jeffreys’ soaring wail. When I interviewed Confessor’s original drummer, Jimmy Shoaf, for a story that appeared in last week’s Independent Weekly, he declared that Jeffreys’ real vocal power comes out when the band plays live. He was right: Jeffreys can still hit those arching notes nearly 25 years after they were first recorded.

The band’s set was heavy on the older, more complex material, with the plodding “Eve of Salvation” serving as a standout. A handful of songs from their 2005 reunion album, Unraveled, appeared, as well as a cover of “Endtime” by the band’s heroes, doom metal pioneers Trouble. The crowd was ecstatic—singing, fist-pumping, head-banging and moshing. Disappointingly, there was no encore. Confessor finished with their signature song, “Suffer,” and just walked off.

It looks like a trip to Baltimore is in order if you still want more.