Life is so unpredictable. Some days, it just rains shit in torrents. Other days, it’s almost magical. I had one of those magical days — actually, a magical night — earlier this week (April 29), when Lago, Rhine, and Rat King played in Seattle.
The show was at the resurrected Funhouse, which has now occupied the lounge at El Corazon. Lago (from Phoenix) have been touring the West Coast, and their Seattle stop was the occasion for this event. I’m a big fan of the band, and have been really impressed with Rhine’s recorded music too, so I was very curious to see what both bands would be like live. In my case, Rat King was a complete unknown.
To start with a summation: All three bands were fantastic. And although this is ostensibly a show review (with photos I snapped using my phone), it’s also intended as an introduction to our readers (or re-introduction) to the music of these bands; I’m including streams of their most recent releases along with my comments about their live sets.
My only regret about the night is that there weren’t more people there to see and hear what I was lucky enough to witness. I’ve been to so many shows over the course of my ancient life that, truth be told, I no longer enjoy being packed like a sardine in a can at a sold-out show in a big venue. But I’m sorry that there wasn’t a bigger throng to give their energy to these bands, and I’m sorry more people didn’t get to have the pleasure I had as a fan.
It was a hell of a night, and it displayed one of the things about DIY metal bands of this quality that makes me proud to be a part of underground culture: They played so hard, so intensely, and so well, that you’d think they were in a packed arena. They didn’t phone it in just because it was a sparse audience. I’ve seen that kind of devotion to metal before, and I’ll see it again, but it amazes me every time.
My NCS comrade BadWolf was also at this show, and I think he shares my opinion about what we saw and heard. I’m glad I got to share the experience with him, and to meet some very cool people for the first time (including some of the musicians).
A bunch more photos appear at the end of this write-up — with apologies to Rat King because I got so caught up in listening to them for the first time that I forgot to take photos until nearly the end of their set.
Rat King are a three-piece outfit who make their home in the Seattle area, though two of the three members — the guitarist and bassist — are originally from Equador and haven’t been in Seattle that long. As mentioned above, I had no idea what to expect, but they grabbed me from the very first song.
All three are obviously very talented musicians, and like the other two bands on this night, their performance was impressively tight. The music is mainly instrumental and often intricate, anchored by a lead-heavy bass rumble and powerful, acrobatic drum rhythms. The bass plays an especially prominent role in the music, which is one of the cool things about the music — but certainly not the only cool thing. The sludgy riffs are counterbalanced by bursts of delicious guitar shred and by spiraling melodies that send your head soaring.
Rat King are a great new find, and I hope to see them on stage a lot more in the future.
Below, I’ve embedded the band’s debut EP. Rat King also have a new 7″ vinyl split coming out on May 9 with Warhead on Within the Mind Records. I’ll be a customer for that one.
I wrote about Rhine once before, in February (here). The project was started as a a solo effort in 2011 by singer/guitarist Gabe Tachell, and as far as I can tell, he’s solely responsible for the debut Rhine album, Duality.
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. If what I see on Facebook is correct, this complete line-up is nearly finished recording a new 70-minute album. And what I want to know is where in the fuck did Gabe Trachell find these people?
As I wrote when I first heard Duality, Rhine’s music is “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.”
It’s one thing to record this kind of adventurous, rapidly changing music in a studio. It’s another thing to pull it off live — and these dudes really pulled it off. I thought they were electrifying and I’d see them again in a heartbeat. (Which, I might add, those of us in the area will have the opportunity to do, because they will be opening for Sepultura at Studio Seven on May 14.)
Lago were the main draw of the night for me. Their debut album Tyranny was originally released on CD by Battleground Records in September 2014, but in March of this year Sweden’s Blood Harvest Records put out a vinyl edition (which I happily bought at this show).
The best word I can think of for Lago’s live set is “obliterating”. They sounded immensely powerful, a black raging storm of vicious death metal loaded with massive grooves and head-twisting riffs. Frontman Cole Jacobsen’s abyssal roars and bassist Garrett Thomas’s skin-stripping shrieks were both harrowing, and the riffs and rhythms in the songs hit like body blows. I had a serious case of sore neck syndrome the next morning, and I wasn’t the only vigorous headbanger in the audience — everyone was moving — and a couple of vigorous mosh pits broke out, too, even though we were few in number.
If you’re within reach of the remaining stops on Lago’s tour (or any future tours), I highly recommend you get your ass in gear and go see these executioners. You will definitely get your money’s worth. They’re scheduled to play in Salt Lake City tonight at The Bridge and in Denver on May 2 at The Marquis Theater.