LOCAL FOCUS: SEATTLE (THEORIES, TRANSIENT, SPACEBAG, RHINE)
As I announced a few days ago, we’ve launched a new series at NCS in which we’re inviting readers to submit pieces for publication with the goal of putting the spotlight on lesser known bands from the towns, cities, and regions you folks call home — whether in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world. For details about this project, go HERE.
Yesterday we posted the inaugural piece in this series by Grant Skelton (who had the idea for the series in the first place). Hot on the heels of that, I received a submission by Seattle resident Eric Bauer (who has his own blog — “High Defamation” — here). As it happens, Eric’s piece puts the spotlight on a Seattle band that’s one of my favorites — and they’re also a group of very cool people on a personal level.
But I thought, in keeping with Grant’s original idea, that a “Local Focus” piece on Seattle ought to include a few more bands, and so with Eric’s permission I’m adding three to this post following his own feature.
Since I live in the Seattle area, I’ve seen and heard a lot of heavy bands who I’d love to spotlight — Seattle is a hotbed of musical talent from across a broad range of metal genres. The few names that I’ve added after Eric’s piece were chosen hurriedly and randomly — which means there will undoubtedly be more of these Local Focus features on Seattle in the months to come, whether written by me, by erstwhile NCS writer BadWolf (who also now lives in Seattle), by Eric, or by one or more of you if the spirit moves you.
And so, we begin with Eric Bauer’s write-up on…
by Eric Bauer
I’m one of the few people I know who can claim I’m a born and bred Seattleite. I spent my childhood, teenage years, and a chunk of my early adulthood in Seattle before doing a “walkabout” in the desert for three years trying to find my place in the universe. And then I found my way, after all was said and done, back to Seattle, the only town I think I can ever truly call my home.
While likely best-known musically for birthing the grunge movement of the early 90’s, what many people aren’t aware of is that in past and present years Seattle (and the surrounding Pacific Northwest) has also been a small mecca for metal. Internationally heralded bands like Inquisition (who moved here from Colombia in the ’90s), Wolves in the Throne Room (from Olympia, the capitol city of Washington), Burning Witch, Sunn O))), the Melvins (from Aberdeen, an outlying city several counties away), Black Breath (technically Bellingham), long-standing and still going-for-broke Drawn & Quartered, and many other smaller local bands that have come and gone throughout the years have called this region home.
As a band, Theories are still relatively young in the grand scheme of things. They recorded and self-released their debut EP in 2012, opening for the reformed Nasum that same year. Since then they have played countless gigs with countless bands, from locals like Iron Lung to national acts such as Full of Hell and Dropdead, Heiress, and most recently Exhumed, Napalm Death, and Voivod. And they’re on a roll this year with an upcoming full-length debut, Regression, to be released on Metal Blade Records.
Having a sound that is best described as spastic death grind, their attack is focused and tight and always relentless. They echo aspects of early Dropdead, Siege, Terrorizer, and Repulsion, but still keeping the music inherently modern and, for all its illusory simplicity, surprisingly sophisticated.
Based on the current sample track, “Cycle of Decay”, Regression will be an all-consuming blast of unabashedly frenzied metal. It rips and tears sufficiently with equal measures of death and grinding blasts, married expertly by a band that have honed their craft well beyond many of their peers. The fact that Metal Blade had the guts to pick them up has definitely instilled me with a little hometown pride. Local boys in Washington haven’t made out this shockingly good since Richland’s The Drip were picked up by Relapse out of nowhere. I for one can’t wait for this full-length.
(Editor’s Note: Not long ago, a second track from Regression (“Shame”) premiered at Noisey, and so I’ve added that one below as well. Regression comes out March 24 and can be pre-ordered here.)
Assorted internet resources identify Portland, Oregon, as home base for Transient. That may be where the group started, but at least a some of the members, if not all of them, now make their homes in Seattle — so I’m including them in this post. They also make a fitting follow-on to Theories, not only because of friendships among band members but because Transient also churns out a slaughtering form of high-end death/grind.
Krysta Martinez (who’s also now the vocalist for Landmine Marathon) sounds like a wild animal, and the musicians behind her are as skilled as they are merciless. The music can tear you down, drag you through a pit of tar, and send you careening off the walls with equal aplomb. The band’s last release was their 2013 self-titled debut album. Check that out below, but be prepared for head trauma and electrocution.
Spacebag’s name my cause you to wonder whether to take the music seriously, as may their own description of their music (“party prog metal”), so let’s get that out of the way: You should take the music seriously — it’s wildly creative, exuberantly performed, and full of more technical whiz-bang than is strictly legal.
I saw Spacebag perform for the first time at a show in Seattle last fall headlined by Lesbian and Vektor (both of whom were also phenomenally good — as were two other local bands who deserve their own features). When Spacebag finished, I distinctly remember having a bug-eyed expression on my face along with a stupid grin.
Spacebag’s debut album Magnetic Struggle was released in 2012 (and it’s on Bandcamp), and as it happens they’ve got a new album named Pareidolia that they’re planning to release this year. Two songs from that album are available for streaming, and you can listen to them below — they’re wiiiiiiiiiiiild! (And if you don’t know what pareidolia, means, go here and find out).
Rhine was started as a a solo project in 2011 by singer/guitarist Gabe Tachell. Since then, the band’s ranks have been filled out by the addition of Alex Smolin on guitar, Carlos Delgado on drums, and James Porter on bass. This complete line-up is nearly finished recording a new 70-minute album.
Until that arrives, however, check out Rhine’s first album, which was created in 2011 back when Gabe Tachell did everything. The name of the album is Duality and it’s a red-hot blast of progressive death metal, both pavement-fracturing and head-spinning. Apart from the huge grooves and the brain-scrambling guitar work, the songs also periodically veer off in completely unpredictable directions that sometimes have very little to do with metal.
Gabe Tachell also has a versatile voice, as you’ll find out from even the first track on Duality.
Duality is itself more than an hour long, but trust me, you won’t lose interest. And I think if you listen to it, you’ll agree with me that it’s going to be very interesting to see what new sorcery Tachell and his mates have concocted for the next album.
“Theories” and “Transient” are very good!
Hopefully the Metal Blade release for Theories will really help spread the word about them, and I’m hoping we’ll get some new music from Transient before too much longer.
Enjoyed this list very much.
Thanks — glad you enjoyed what you heard.
Nice! Of your additions I’ve only heard Transient. I will definitely be checking out the others!
Thanks again for helping spread the word about Theories. We need to do this again. 🙂
lots of great stuff, i particularly like Theories and Transient 🙂
“Spacebag” and “Rhine” are very good!
Spacebag is an awesome new find – though I can’t say I expected what came at the end of “Ski Major”. Gonna have to check out Rhine and Transient more too.
I don’t normally go for grind…but Theories blew me away. There’s something in their sound that’s more honest and transparent than most other grind I’ve heard. It’s like they’re just playing their music without trying to one-up every other grind band out there. Very solid songs.
The riffs on Transient’s “False Philanthropy” make me want to smash something with a truncheon, or other blunt object. This is a positive assessment.
Spacebag’s stuff is really interesting. It has a jazzy chaos to it; seems like something that just happened rather than something that was written. Is all their stuff instrumental?
You were definitely right about the vocal versatility in Rhine. I checked out the first track, but will need to here more.
It’s really helfull………… I really like this page so much, so better to keep on posting! Thanks…