(DemiGodRaven reviews another recent show at The Boardwalk in Sacramento, and again uses the write-up to introduce music from a group of up-and-coming bands who might hook you.)
You know, sometimes the internet has a habit of inflating your sense of how popular you think a band really is. I say this mainly because lately it seems like we’ve become something of a heavy metal echo chamber in which one person says, “Hey! You should check this band out!” and then two more pick up on it, and so on. Surely, that means somebody must’ve picked up on it because everyone is talking about it.
Then you actually go to the show and it occurs to you that, yes, this is still a small local band show. It’s a group of guys busting their asses and slumming it out to try and get someone to pay attention to them, even if the big name on the bill couldn’t make it due to a family emergency (that’s 2 for 2, Fallujah, Sacramento remembers the dates that stand it up) and one of the other death metal bands couldn’t make it, so a smaller group had to step in. It’s a show that maybe fifty to sixty people made it out to, including the other bands.
There was a weird sort of hopeful energy, where no one knew who I was (well, except for the one guy who was playing that night who I played with in a band for about two months…) and they were just excited to have someone interested in what they were doing. It’s probably the most hipster and, ‘Oh you’ve probably never heard of them’ that I’ll ever get to be.
The internet is also amazing because it really does widen a band’s reach. Can you believe we had someone from Australia complaining in the comments for the Soma Ras demo review that they couldn’t go to this specific show? How strange is that? You have bands who have anywhere from 800 to 2000 likes on Facebook playing what should be a hometown show to a small crowd, yet you have people 3,000 miles away mad because they couldn’t see it.
Even though the crowd was the type you’d expect to see at a local show, things were still exciting and the bands gave it their best. It was fun in a different way to watch how each band, some just starting out, were operating. It was nice to have easy access to the front and, likewise, easily disappear for a bit. Not only that, but there was a nice perk to losing two bands on the bill: Each band got a longer set. So instead of it being 20 minutes and get the hell off the stage, the bands had time to breathe, or in the case of one…just play the whole damn EP.
The metal scene in the Sacramento area has become incredibly vibrant in recent years, and the fruits are just now starting to be harvested. There was some excellent music to be found here tonight, and all of these bands have the potential to go on and be huge…or be really underground and kvlt and still make great music.
Extirpate are a newer band operating out of Lincoln, California. For a while they were a two-piece group, but are now a three piece, consisting of a drummer, bassist, and guitarist/vocalist — the Nile format.
They were probably the most traditionally death metal of the night, and for being a relatively recent add to the bill after both Fallujah and Soma Ras had to drop off, they did well. It’s a little hard to keep track of what’s happening when your first exposure to a band is a live experience, and I will wholly admit that was the case here for me. Extirpate only had a pre-pro demo on their Facebook, so I was unaware of how they would actually sound live.
They do have some pretty solid grooves going, from what I could catch, and there’s definitely potential for these guys. The demo they have right now is un-mastered, and they were selling it for $3. They had a pretty long set list for an opening group and were headbanging pretty hard. This could be my sentimental side cheering for the underdog here, but I would recommend keeping an eye on these guys if you’re into death metal, because we may be on to something with these gentlemen. Unfortunately, I can’t fucking find music to link to, so like their Facebook and wait to see something from them in the future I guess?
Symbolik were probably my biggest bit of excitement for the night. I remember coming across them briefly back when they first released their EP Pathogenesis, but only when they were announced for this show did I really listen to it. Holy fuck, is it good. It’s got a heavy melodic death metal element to some otherwise hefty guitar shred and black metal fueled vocals.
These gentlemen from Stockton, California go fast as all hell and put on an exciting show. They seem to be grabbing people at every show, so I’m happy that I got to see them as early in their career as I have. The fact that they had a long setlist was awesome, because they basically just performed their EP the whole way through, mixed up a little bit so it was like Pathogenesis on shuffle…and their frontman screaming in my face. In a night with some very heavy and very diverse bands, they left an awesome impression.
Their EP is available for free, so give this Bandcamp embed a listen and download that shit . . . and if they ever get anywhere outside of the hellhole that is this valley of California, you should fucking go see them.
There’s always one sort of slightly ironic deathcore band at just about every show these days, and although these guys from Chico, California weren’t as bad as I expected, judging by the frontman’s tie dye wifebeater, they were just scraping up against that glass ceiling. They had quite a few people though, so I took advantage of my somewhat dislike of this style to hang back a bit.
They seem technically competent, but again, this style isn’t exactly my favorite. My brother had a ton of fun in their pit, so good on them there. I just hung back and hid behind a pillar. Give them a listen and see if you like them since I have to remain somewhat ambivalent. Best of luck to them, though — at least they’re not doing the LOL FUNNY SONG TITLES AND NOTHING BUT BREAKDOWNS bit.
If you aren’t aware of Journal by now, you should be. The picture above is probably the best representation of the concept-heavy instrumental trio’s live show that I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t taken at the specific show I was at, but it looks exactly how I remember it (minus the broken guitar strap bolt).
Journal are a group consisting of a drummer and two guitarists. With a layout like that, you know that this is one of those groups dedicated solely to absolute insanity on the instruments of their choice, and they deliver. They come from the school of Dysrhythmia and Blotted Science, where the whole setlist consisted of nothing but chaos on those guitars. They flew all over the place on those things to the point where it looked like an assault.
The fact that these guys moved around as much as they did is a testament to the mastery of their craft, because if your friend is one of those bedroom guitarists who might try to play this stuff, I guarantee you that if he’s like most, he’ll just be sitting completely still, laser-focused on that guitar (and you’ll still get the ‘Wait, ah, I fucked up, hold on…” every other measure anyway). When Journal play, it sounds like someone kicked a beehive, because it just flies all over the place.
One of the guys had to remove his guitar strap because the bolt on his guitar broke off, so he wound up taking a knee for half the show . . . which wound up causing half the crowd to take a knee as well. I didn’t, but I’m old and none of those assholes is writing about this show and I am, so I’m calling it even.
Journal now is a very different experience from their release Unlorja, which had them with a couple of vocalists from around Sacramento . . . and a bassist.
Bispora were the headliners of the night and wound up going on a little late. Also, it never occurred to me how cramped the Boardwalk stage can get until you see it with a giant drum kit, keyboard, and various other instruments in place.
We’ve talked about these guys a lot recently, as their EP The Cycle impressed the hell out of quite a few on this particular blogosphere. They’ve been hard at work on different music and took advantage of the night to actually film for a DVD. What they plan to do with it, I’m not sure. Maybe as a pack in for a physical release of The Cycle? Regardless, you’ll see me up front with a giant Abraham Lincoln (whiskey media represent!) T-shirt.
They played two new songs, which sound vastly different from the stuff they did on The Cycle and containing a lot more keyboard work and clean vocals. “A Surge Of Progress” was the first one and was interesting. It’s a little bit stuttery and it sounded like this was the premiere live, so as they play it more and more I’ll hopefully get a better grasp on it. “Peripheral” makes a much better first impression. This one and its loud ass keys make the whole song sound majestic.
Then they did The Cycle the whole way through, with the exception of “Chrysanthemum” due to some laptop issues. It worked for their intro but then screwed them over for the segue. That said, they still nailed the whole thing the whole way through, and I still wind up with the goddamn melody of that thing stuck in my head for days after. I have no idea what people were doing behind me, but I was rocking out pretty hard.
If you haven’t listened to these guys yet, check out the embed. It’s fantastic stuff. It has some light djent elements, but it’s mostly progressive metal with some Between The Buried and Me influence. It impressed the hell out of me, and I’m picky as fuck with my music, so if you’ve figured out whether or not your listening tastes are alongside mine, with as long as I’ve been writing, check this out and then see them live. I know they’re planning a mini-tour after this next Oroville performance.