When he was two years old, Cuban-born David "Dave" Lombardo immigrated with his family to South Gate, California, and was playing bongos at age 8. Shortly thereafter he played marching drum for his school band. By age 10, he had his first drum kit and learned to play by following along to Kiss songs. At age 16, he met guitarist Kerry King, and after recruiting other musicians, thrash metal band Slayer was born in 1981. Lombardo recorded seven albums with Slayer (although he quit the band three times, most recently in 2013) and has worked other projects and genres, including classical music and television soundtracks. His most recent project is Philm, a Los Angeles-based progressive rock trio formed in 2009 with guitarist Gerry Nestler and bassist Francisco "Pancho" Tomaselli. Philm's second album, Fire from the Evening Sun, was released on September 12, 2014.
At the Mercury Lounge tonight, Philm was a showcase for three musical architects. Left to right, Nestler, Lombardo and Tomaselli were positioned across the front edge of the stage. They spoke little even to each other; the music was the telepathic message. From the start, the polyrhythmic songs twisted and bent in nonconforming and unpredictable turns, not necessarily returning to where the song began. Pushing past all musical boundaries, was this experimental metal, was it extreme jazz, or was it cacophonic noise? The instrumental breaks dominated the set, and were a labyrinth, primitively raw and dangerously ferocious. Nestler muttered and growled as he played anarchic guitar leads, and Tomaselli intoned a deep, thick bass bottom. Inevitably, Lombardo shone as the fearless master, playing perhaps the most innovative and inventive drum patterns of his career. Monstrously aggressive and intense, yet shadowy, abstract and perplexing, Philm played some of the most complex progressive music to bleed the ears of heavy music fans.