(DGR bears witness to the May 18 performances in Sacramento of The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Faceless, Royal Thunder, and Journal.)
It’s been a bit of an odd concert season so far this year. I heaped tons of praise on the Sacramento music scene last year because it seemed like there was show after show, after show, hitting within the span of a few months, to the point that between seeing local bands and bigger acts I actually wound up doing something like seven shows in one month – which was fucking awesome. This year though, work has overtaken a lot of what I’ve been up to. The year has just devolved into an endless stream of overnighters on the job, which have insured that in the span of five months….I’ve seen a whopping three concerts.
This one in particular was very exciting because it meant I’d get to see The Dillinger Escape Plan again. I’d seen them once before with Mastodon, which was a very weird experience. That time it seemed like a lot of people were there because they wanted to hear that one song that Mastodon had on the radio, so something like Dillinger was going to sail right over folks’ heads. This time though, you had a crowd who really wanted to see them and were enthusiastic as hell about it — and no band can create a feedback loop of energy quite like Dillinger can.
Of course, there were other groups on the bill, and whilst I had no idea what I was in for with Royal Thunder outside of the basic description from their Facebook, I did want to see Journal (again) and The Faceless for the first time on this end.
(Our man in the UK, Andy Synn, witnessed a night of death metal fun in Manchester on May 15 and files this report, with video.)
Tonight’s show was courtesy of my good friend Gary of Bite Radius Designs, who recently did some work for Cephalic Carnage on their Crucifreak t-shirt design. Thanks to him we were both put on guestlist and got a chance to enjoy a night of heavy, techy, thrashy, grindy, pummelling death metal fun.
Opening band Fallujah were the youngest and most inexperienced band on the bill, but still gave it their best shot at warming up the steadily growing crowd. Unfortunately, although their spacey, technical death metal works incredibly well on record, it lacks a little something live.
The mix didn’t help their cause, with the rhythm guitar and bass almost entirely inaudible, leaving the band to contend with a mix consisting purely of vocals, leads, and drums. Thankfully, the proggy, cosmic guitar leads are one of the band’s biggest strengths and offer a captivating glimpse of the band’s future potential. They just need to work on a bit more of a distinctive identity for themselves beyond this one aspect of their sound.
(In this post Andy Synn reviews the final UK performance of Orange County’s Bleeding Through and provides his own very personal farewell to the band.)
So on Sunday, 21st of April, Bleeding Through played their final show in the UK. I was originally meant to be heading down to their London show on the Friday, but ended up spending the evening mildly hallucinating from some random illness I picked up, and so came close to missing the band entirely. Thankfully, although I wasn’t 100% by Sunday I was at least able to drag myself out and catch the band, performing the final date of this, their last-ever UK/Euro tour.
Now I realise some of you probably don’t like Bleeding Through, and whether that’s through a sincere dislike of what they do or because you simply wrote them off a long time ago, that’s ok. But I’ve been a fan for a long time now, ever since 2002’s Portrait Of The Goddess (I’m afraid I didn’t get in on the ground floor with Dust To Ashes, which probably makes me some kind of poser), and the announcement of the band’s impending dissolution definitely had me down in the doldrums.
So what I’m going to do here is to give my impressions of the gig, intercut with some video footage, followed by some final thoughts and feelings inspired by seeing the band for the very last time.
(In this post NCS writer BadWolf reviews a live show by A Life Once Lost, Author and Punisher, and Encrust last month, and Nicholas Vechery provides some killer pics.)
I was walking through JC Penny with a friend the other day—he had a gift certificate and wanted to spend it, which proved harder than we anticipated. Because fuck JC Penny. He decided to look through clearance dress shoes. He tried a pair on, put it back and said:
‘It fits alright but I don’t like that metal band on the top.’
To which I said.
‘I don’t think I’ve heard anyone use those two words literally like that in years.’
It’s easy to take the origin of metal, as a genre-describing-word, out of context. It’s become self-referential. Suppose your friend took a spill while skateboarding and cut his forehead open—you might see the blood streaming over his eye and say ‘that’s so metal,’ like the genre’s content. But really that’s not metal at all. Metal cannot bleed.
Metal is machine-music. It’s hard as industry. I cannot conceive of an acoustic metal band—unlike rock and roll, we need electricity and amplification to make metal. Though not necessarily guitars, but I’ll get back to that in a moment.
The Man Machine Tour, featuring A Life Once Lost, Author and Punisher, and Encrust, was an inspired lineup: not only did each band have its own distinct flavor, but each, in its own way, embodied those mechanical, industrial aspects of the genre.
(NCS writer Andy Synn has returned from Oslo’s Inferno Festival, held on March 27-30, 2013, and brings us a multi-part report of what he saw and heard, along with photos. This is the final installment. Check out the three previous parts here.)
Well here we are, the final day of the festival. With fatigue setting in (wallet-fatigue as well as physical fatigue) this was also – fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you chose to look at it – the day with the fewest bands who I really wanted to check out.
The first band of the evening I was lucky enough to see were underground black metal legends Hades Almighty (pictured above). Though the Norwegian triumvirate describe themselves on their website as “The heaviest black metal three-piece in the world”, after seeing them live I’m far more inclined to agree with the assessment of the immortal Metal-Archives and say that the group are more of a Progressive black metal band than they are a particularly heavy one.
Their distinctly old-school vibe is coloured and individuated by twisty-turny song-structures and liberal applications of atonal, semi-melodic riffs that strangely enough put me firmly in mind of American tech-thrashers Believer.
(NCS writer Andy Synn has returned from Oslo’s Inferno Festival, held on March 27-30, 2013, and brings us a multi-part report of what he saw and heard, along with photos. Check out the previous installments here and here.)
Day 2 of the festival had fewer bands I was particularly dying to see, so I decided to check out some different acts I’d never seen before, so as to make better use of my time and to fulfil my journalistic pretensions a bit more.
We decided to have a later start to the day, arriving in time to see Aeternus hit the stage and introduce the crowd (if any introduction was needed) to their twisted take on the darker side of the black/death metal aesthetic. Drawing liberally from all the various spheres of the metallic spectrum, the group performed like a well-drilled musical machine, though their focus on slippery shifts between styles meant that their live stage presence was a little more unassuming than most.
Though the band last played here 11 years ago, there was very little rust to be found on them, as they bled their instruments dry of every hypnotic riff and spiralling, dissonant lead they could wring out of them.
(NCS writer Andy Synn has returned from Oslo’s Inferno Festival, held on March 27-30, 2013, and brings us a multi-part report of what he saw and heard, along with photos. Check out his Opening Day report here.)
Kicking off the festival-proper at the early time of 17:30 Horned Almighty were like a veritable boot to the face of the assembled audience. Nasty, brutal, and brimming with feral punk aggression, the group come across as a bad-boy version of the Misfits, raised on black metal nihilism and death metal misanthropy, and kick up a hell of a racket, with a truly demolition-strength guitar tone. Material from across their four albums bulked out the set, with the strongest focus being on Contaminating The Divine and Necro Spirituals.
Frontman S. didn’t let the fact that the band were opening the festival proper intimidate him, spitting necrosadistic venom at the crowd with his spiteful, belligerent snarl, while the aptly-named Carnage on bass was a stalking, twisting revelation of spindly fingers and malevolent contortions. Give these guys a longer set and a bigger stage someone!
(NCS writer Andy Synn has returned from Oslo’s Inferno Festival and brings us a multi-part report of what he saw and heard, beginning with this post. More will follow in the days to come.)
So here’s how Inferno Festival works… though the event itself is a three-day affair situated at Rockefeller/John Dee, there’s an opening day on the Wednesday featuring an array of bands performing at a series of different venues around the city.
For the first time this year I was officially accredited as “Press” for the event, meaning I was invited to the Opening Party at the Rockefeller lounge, which kicked things off just before the various bars and clubs started the evening’s festivities. I have to say that I definitely appreciated the free beer (a rather bitter, but ultimately rather nice, Norwegian brown ale called Nøgne Ø) and free food on offer, as well as the opportunity to mingle with other attendees (hello to Liz and Lewis, if you’re reading this) and stalk various band members.
The party itself also had a couple of presentations explaining and extolling the history of Inferno and its connections with the Oslo metal scene and with the Indian metal scene with which it has steadily been building a relationship.
(photo credit: Brooklyn Vegan)
This is a journal of an impromptu musical experience that made me think of the ocean.
There is a venue in Seattle called The Black Lodge. Other than someone’s back yard or basement, it’s probably the most underground metal venue in Seattle. It’s BYOB and the calendar of shows spreads mainly by word of mouth. There was a show planned there for the night of March 26, but within the preceding 24 hours or so there was a change, and the bands scheduled to play there were added to a pre-existing line-up at a different venue, The Highline.
Not knowing anything about the original Black Lodge bill or about the last-minute change (the word did not reach my mouth), I was simply interested in seeing the bands who were already lined up for The Highline, which included Today Is The Day and Black Tusk. I showed up with two friends and discovered to my amazement that the first two bands I would be hearing were Ash Borer and Aldebaran (we got there too late to catch the opening act, Fight Amp).
I would have killed your mother to see those two bands had I known they were in town. Your mother was spared, and I got to see them anyway. It was an experience I’ll remember for a long time. I wish I had brought my camera, but like I said, this was an impromptu experience.
(DGR caught Testament’s tour in Sacramento at the end of February and turns in this report.)
It’s funny to think that every show review I’ve done for Testament has popped up on this site, so I guess it goes without saying that I really enjoy the band – especially since their last two albums have really helped to revitalize their sound and make them seem current instead of another thrash band just spinning their wheels. They have a huge amount of history attached to them, and I’ve always felt that they were a little overlooked whenever you heard stuff about the Big Four tours that were all the rage a year or two back.
You may also sense that I’m echoing sentiments from my last two show reviews for these guys, and those feelings line up with the fact that I have seen this band three times within the span of a year and will pretty much fork over cash any time they roll through town. I’ve gotten three different setlists and enjoyed myself every time, so that is why I found myself standing outside in downtown Sacramento at the end of February to witness one of the last dates of the hobbled yet still alive Dark Roots Of Thrash tour.
There were two local openers – both of whom opened for Kreator and Swallow The Sun when I saw them late last year, so the names should be a tad familiar – followed by the two bands left on the Dark Roots Of Thrash tour, so it was a relatively quick four band show. It was also the start to one of those lucky times when the stars aligned and I could do a two-shows-in-two-days-style weekend, with March 1st being the occasion for another show review that appeared here previously.