(DemiGodRaven checks in with his review of last Friday’s show in the Sacramento, California, area headlined by Conducting From the Grave and featuring a slew of other Sacramento bands, and his review is accompanied by lots of video.)
Marking the first time in a while that I’ve made the trip out to the Boardwalk in Orangevale, last Friday’s show was going to prove to be an interesting one. We had Sacramento hometown heroes Conducting From the Grave (it seems like every band opening for them holds them in some sort of reverence), who were going on a small headlining tour before they made the jump onto the monstrous All Shall Perish/Fleshgod Apocalypse and other-bands-that-have-floated-my-mind tour, playing with a bunch of scrappy local groups and Fallujah.
Unfortunately Fallujah couldn’t make it due to some difficulties and likely ongoing troubles stemming from their van situation, so another group out of my old hometown area of Hayward/San Leandro (according to their band profile) was brought in as a last minute replacement, making this a show consisting largely of a bunch of scrappy underdogs. John Abernathy of Conducting fame would find himself playing a double set that night as part of a new, semi-all-star group (in terms of the local scene) — a blackened death project known as Soma Ras.
I was initially worried that I would make it to the show late after some traffic horseshit on the way there since the show was supposed to start at 6:30 and I came barreling into the door at 6:48. And the place was empty.
It was really weird, to say the least. Word must have gotten out about a later start time, because I was, for the first time, standing in an empty Boardwalk. I wound up killing that time BSing with various band members about new musical projects, new sounds, and the future of things. A lot of interesting perspective was provided but it is likely stuff you’ll learn in future interviews if you follow any of these guys.
I find it fascinating watching bands change, progress, and shift in sound between shows, so even though I had seen a couple of these bands before, I got the feeling that there had been some serious shift in the way these groups have been operating since then. I’ll ramble more about that as we get into specifics.
It looks like a group called RockHardLive has joined in on the fun of recording Sacramento live shows, so I’ll be using some of their videos when appropriate. At about 7:15 the show finally started with…
These poor guys basically got a last-minute notification to get their asses out there and play this show. They showed up and still put on a good show for a small, skeptical crowd and managed to win over some people. Their music is pretty well-polished metalcore by this point and reminded me a lot of a heavier Diecast (if you remember those guys), as they tend to hybrid a lot of the more radio-friendly aspects of metal with core elements. That said, I felt the songs they played were more well-written than the stitched-together-by-breakdowns messes that most local groups put forth now.
I found myself nodding along to some of the faster songs and even one that they decided to fill with blasts, because why the fuck not. The only thing I could really see bitching about is that the bassist and longer-haired guitarist stayed pretty stationary throughout the show. There was headbanging, but it was one of those things where you just want more life out of it. I can’t blame the shorter-haired guy since headbanging bald really sucks, but it seemed like there wasn’t as much spectacle out of that specific part of the live show.
The music was played well, but live shows tend to be two-parters — music and stage presence. They’ve got the music down pat, they just need a bit more life on stage for us to watch when they play. That said, give these guys a listen because I think they gave the next bands more to live up to than what may have been expecting.
The last time I reviewed this band, all I did was link to their music video and say that their live show was twenty or so minutes of that, with a pretty concise “Yep.” Nothing has changed, and I still don’t find myself really digging this band, though I don’t want to sound too disparaging.
How many groups do we really need with some permutation on the verb the noun name who have semi-ironic song titles and play spastic deathcore at best? They’ve found a following, I guess, since I last saw them in 2010 opening for Misery Index, and hey, they’re still going. For perspective, the two musical projects I was in lived for a span of about six months to two years. I guess if they called it quits now, they could at least hang their hats on the fact that they lasted longer than I did.
Rant aside, the live show was interesting for the fact that they didn’t have a bassist playing with them, which meant almost no low end at all. It basically turned everything into this really discordant jangly mess of guitars and screaming. Interesting from a listening perspective, but nothing to write home about. I guess if you’re a fan of just utter noise then you might find something appealing in the video above.
Beyond All Ends are another band who, at the moment, seem to be in a state of flux. When I last saw them they were part of the Slaughter Survivors tour, which was another show Conducting was on that lasted way too long. There has to be some sort of special circle of hell that involves standing in the Boardwalk for upwards of eight hours, whether you enjoy the music or not.
At the time, I thought that they were a band who were technically interesting but, like a lot of groups, were too prone to head into breakdowns and deathcore sections. However, they played this show sans vocalist, which makes we wonder about the direction this band will be headed in the future.
They performed three instrumentals and then invited the lead singer from Digital Underground (who also performs in Nightmare In The Twilight) on stage to perform vocals on two songs. He did pretty well and seemed capable as a vocalist, so good for him. They were probably the two least interesting songs in my opinion, but I’m picky as hell when it comes to music anyway, so we may have to chalk up these two songs to me being jaded as fuck.
Paint Over Pictures have been throwing themselves at the wall for a while now. They proclaim themselves to be Sacramento’s ‘southern metal band’. What that means? I have zero clue. I had secretly hoped that they’d spend the whole set just ripping off Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster, since that’s what I usually picture when I think of ‘southern’-core and what not. They didn’t. Instead, they’re a bit of a hybrid of modern day hardcore and radio rock.
They have two vocalists, one of whom is also the bass player. They’re a very fun, lively band to watch, but the music was a little hit and miss. I’d recommend giving them a listen to form your own opinion because hell, as I type this review, I’m still trying to formulate my own and I’m four days out from the show now. They do have a video for one song called “Love Like A Rattlesnake” that’s pretty fun, so give that a listen for sure.
That said, I would like to harp on the fact that the soundcheck took waaay too fucking long. Not to say it was specifically Paint Over Pictures’ fault, but this seems to be a recurring theme with the Boardwalk these days. They’ll have huge bills and great value in terms of providing lots of bands to see, but man, you sit through damn near a half-hour of set-up each time, so if the show starts at seven, by the time you’ve hit band number six out of eight you’re looking at midnight.
Thank god for the live video on this one, because I don’t think I can state this strongly enough: Soma Ras are fucking heavy. They showed up, and for it being their first official show, they fucking crushed it live, holy shit. I don’t even think the crowd knew what hit them for a large part of what was going on.
Let me rewind a bit and explain what Soma Ras is. It’s a collection of various members of of other Sacramento groups who have coalesced into a brutal death metal band. It’s basically one part Behemoth, one part brutal death, and then a smattering of the occasional core influence, mixed together into something monstrous. It was awesome to see, as every song just seemed to spin and whirlwind around the hallway that serves as the floor in the Boardwalk.
They seem to still be hammering out how to approach their live show, because in between songs, it seemed like they had some spoken-word pieces that were being read when they weren’t doing the usual “Hello Sacramento”. It is very cool in concept. That said, I did get a small chuckle out of almost every song being introduced with, “We are Soma Ras”.
Every time I see Awaiting The Apocalypse the first thought that goes through my mind is, “Holy shit, Awaiting The Apocalypse have been around for a while”. They never seem to age, and I think at this point, by the sheer act of a musician just being a resident of Sacramento, you have probably played a show with Awaiting The Apocalypse (I have). They’ve been part of our core scene for a while now and have amassed a following, but they have always seemed to be on the cusp of their big break. That said, these dudes are road warriors, and if the world were to end, would probably continue playing shows for the left-over nuclear bombs and cockroach overlords.
I have to say, the band probably want to kill whoever edited the video that they projected on the back of the stage during their show, because the audience was glued to it. It was very well done, alternating between clips from a bunch of different zombie movies (I was in the corner, so I only recognized The Walking Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, Land Of The Dead, and 28 Weeks Later) with their logo and the album name that provided the theme for this set, At War With The Dead.
The other problem they had was that people were losing energy fast, and I think that folks were just really tired. The whole crowd was on the dead side, which isn’t really normal for these guys. They still powered through it and played a good show. They’ve always been consistently brutal and solid, just a bit too heavy on the caveman side for me.
It was pretty much set in stone that I was going to be at this show when it first popped up. Once word got out that Conducting would be breaking out two new songs that night, it only served as further reason for me to power through. Needless to say, even though the video that I’ve linked from the RockHardLive folks is a little rough, I am very excited for their new stuff.
Conducting are one of those bands who seem to be capable of bending and morphing just about anything to fit their sound, which for a while has served to frustrate people who want to jam these guys into one discrete genre. I’ve seen everything from melodic to metalcore to progressive deathcore (which seems like an oxymoron to me).
The new stuff is definitely heavier than expected, and I like the fact they have placed an emphasis on experimentation and shredding the shit out of their guitars again. That second new song definitely caught my attention, as it started and stopped like a machine gun being fired. We even got some wah pedal being introduced into the end of one song, which is new for them.
The rest of their set consisted of old favorites from When Legends Become Dust and Revenants. They kept up their tradition of having a guest vocalist join them, too, by having the Soma Ras frontman pitch in for their one really heinous breakdown and chant in “Her Poisoned Tongues”.
They’re going to be jumping onto the All Shall Perish/Contortionist/Fleshgod Apocalypse tour here real soon, so go check it out. That looks like a really solid bill, and I’ll be up there when it comes to Sacramento in April, ready to give myself another two-day long bangover.