Your three NCS co-founders, plus friends, spent last night at Seattle’s Studio Seven having our eardrums shattered and our brains pulped by an amazingly good set of performances by four very talented bands. I’m not writing this in order to gloat about getting to see the show. You know how sometimes you get so enthusiastic about an experience that the first thing you want to do is call up or text a friend and tell them about it? Well, that’s sort of what I’m doing with this post, but I do want to report a couple of surprises (at least for me) that might be of interest.
I went to the show mainly to see Darkest Hour (despite the fact that I’ve seen them three times before), though I was also curious to see The Human Abstract. It turned out to be an eye-opening night — especially in the case of Born of Osiris and the music they played from their forthcoming third album. All four of these bands have new releases (the one from As Blood Runs Black debuts today), all four played songs from the new albums, and it was all . . . just . . . awesome.
Studio Seven has a simple layout: There’s a big concrete floor and there’s a balcony that includes a bar. The balcony hangs over much of the floor, with the leading edge not more than 30 feet from the front of the stage below. IntoTheDarkness and I got to the venue early and waited in line almost one hour in a cold wind in order to get a perch at the front of the balcony bar area, which gave us (literally) a bird’s eye view of the stage and what turned out to be a packed, roiling mass of humanity directly below us.
Of course, I forgot my fucking camera, but I’m not sure it would have done me any good since the stage was shrouded in smoke effects most of the night. (more after the jump . . .)
THE HUMAN ABSTRACT
I’ve still not listened to the entirety of this band’s new album, Digital Veil, despite the glowing review from Andy Synn in these pages and enthusiastic recommendations from NCS co-founder IntoTheDarkness. I’ve just never been a big fan of this band based on their previous music. But now, after last night, I get it.
The majority of the set consisted of music from the new album — they played “Holographic Sight”, “Complex Terms”, and closed the too-short set with “Digital Veil”, in addition to a couple of older songs. The new stuff just kicked my ass through the roof. As turned out to be true of all four of these bands, the playing was as tight as a vacuum seal, and the new songs stunned me (given what I knew of the band’s previous output) by their power, aggression, and physically convulsive rhythms.
The band is also a helluva lot of fun to watch. The sight of Dean Herrera windmilling his thigh-length dreads AND his guitar at the same time will stay with me, and I was also really surprised by the relatively new frontman Travis Richter. This reed-thin dude looks like he’d blow away in a summer breeze, but what comes out of his mouth has the power of a blast furnace. He’s also one of those guys who just smiles all the way through the set when he’s not singing (in that way, he reminded me of Dark Tranquillity’s Mikael Stanne). He looks like he’s having the time of his life — and he probably is.
AS BLOOD RUNS BLACK
After THA finished, I wondered how As Blood Runs Black could possibly compete. In a way, they couldn’t. The songs are less musically interesting, the musicianship less technically demanding. But that didn’t prevent them from massively rocking the house. Despite the band’s long hiatus, they clearly had a big fan base in the audience, and the pit went explosive.
It’s been, what?, five years since the band’s debut album, Allegiance. Now, it’s basically a new band, with guitarists Greg Kirkpatrick and Dan Sugarman and vocalist Sonik Garcia joining just last year. I haven’t heard the new album yet, but now I’m interested. The set was a mix of stuff from Allegiance and the new album (Instinct), and it was a blast of above-average deathcore madness.
The real highlight of their performance — what really made the set a success — was the new vocalist. Garcia is another small, rail-thin dude who likes like he’d blow away in a breeze, but he’s got fantastic stage presence and a huge voice. He was in constant motion, constantly exhorting the crowd — another dude who looked like he was having the time of his life, and his live-wire enthusiasm electrified the audience, too.
I don’t really have anything new to say about this band. They are simply one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen. They dependably deliver a riveting live show. John Henry‘s vocals are in a class by themselves, and in terms of instrumental performance, I really can’t think of another band that, man for man, is better on stage than Mike Schleibaum, Lonestar Carrigan, Paul Burnette, and Ryan Parrish.
I made the mistake of picking the wrong line at the bar after As Blood Runs Black finished, and by the time I got back to our balcony perch, I’d lost my place at the rail and for most of this set I was the third person back from the front, which means about the only band member visible on the stage below was Parrish, on his elevated platform with the drum kit. So, I watched him, and was blown away. And I focused on the music, since I could barely see what was happening on stage. Just a stunningly tight performance.
Fortunately, a couple of people moved away from the front balcony before the last two songs, so I wormed my way back up to the rail and got to see the finish — and was reminded all over again how much fun it is to watch these guys. John Henry and bassist Paul Burnette are in constant motion, Parrish is an absolute beast behind the kit, and even though Carrigan and Schleibaum don’t cavort as much as Henry and Burnette, they are such immaculate guitarists that it’s hard not to stare at them.
BORN OF OSIRIS
I wondered how, in a just world, this band could be headlining, with Darkest Hour in support (though maybe this is a co-headlining tour, with DH as the last act on other stops?). I was a fan of their debut album, The New Reign (because it sounded so different at the time), but I found A Higher Place to be disappointing. I saw them on tour a couple years ago after that second album came out, and I thought the live show was good but not great.
My comrade IntoTheDarkness has been listening to some of the tracks from the forthcoming album, The Discovery (due March 22 on Sumerian). He told me before the night started that I was going to be pleasantly surprised by the new music. And then, after Darkest Hour finished, he told me that as good as the night had been up to that point, the best was yet to come. In my mind, I called bullshit. To his face, I said something along the lines of, “Really? Are you serious?” And he was.
I would have a very hard time picking the best performance of this night, but I will say this: Born of Osiris was very much in league with Darkest Hour and The Human Abstract. They were, I dunno, 1000% better than I remember them. Another vacuum-tight performance instrumentally, and frontman Ronnie Canizaro’s live vocals and overall stage presence have become just awesomely good.
And here’s the main point I want to make about this set: The new music just kicks the living shit out of everything this band have done before. Seriously.
I hadn’t listened to the songs that are now streaming on the BOO Facebook and MySpace pages, so I wasn’t familiar with the titles, but I’m pretty sure I heard Canizaro announce “Follow the Signs” and “Two Worlds of Design”. Blazingly fast and powerful, with djent-style rhythms, catchy melodies, keyboard additions that do not annoy, and vocals that reminded me of John Henry’s. The shit caved in my head. If the new stuff sounds like this on the record, I will be very happy.
Of course, they ended the set with “Bow Down”, and by that point I was ready to bow down to Born of Osiris. I will be getting the new album ASAP.
Noisecreep is streaming that Born of Osiris song called “Two Worlds of Design” with a short accompanying interview. You can check that out here, or listen to the song on the player below: