Metal Marathon – Days 4, 5 and 6

Ok, so my Metal Marathon posts are a bit behind, but I’m still going to recap them because the shows I saw during those 9 days were just too damn good. This is my second of three posts covering the 11 concerts and I’m going to recap the metal concerts I went to from Tuesday, March 8th 2011 through Thursday March 10th in this post. Three great shows, especially considering they were all in the middle of the work week.

On Tuesday I borrowed a friend’s car and drove to Silver Spring after work to catch a DIY show at the Corpse Fortress. The touring band was Earthling and they were playing with Baltimore based Revolta and the DC band Spine Buster. There was also a surprise set by Ilsa at the end of the night. Spine Buster had just started their set when I got there, and they were pretty entertaining but Harrisonburg, Virginia’s Earthling came out and just shredded for their entire set. They played what must have been the longest set of the night and it was high energy and just a lot of fun to be there for. I hope they play around here again because they really are worth seeing again. If you don’t believe me check out the thrashtastic video I’ve got of them at the bottom of this post. The video quality sucks visually but the audio is great and it’s a killer song! The next band to play was Revolta, a sort of punkish thrash band from Baltimore. I’d seen them a few weeks before at the Candlehaus with Fatal, though they had another guitarist then. Their set seemed a bit short this time, I think there were outside time constraints going on that were made worse since Ilsa was still yet to play. Ilsa did play a good but short set, I think it was basically a practice for their show coming up on Saturday opening for Dropdead (more on that show in my next post). I’m not sure why, but the band’s vocalist, Orion, started puking all over the floor at the end of the set. You gotta admit that it’s pretty damn metal to be barfing your guts out, mic in hand, while your band plays. I’m really glad that I wasn’t the one who had to clean that mess up! In all the show was a lot of fun and the venue was really laid back, even for a house show, and I got to talk to a lot of great people all night between sets. It was really a fun atmosphere and a great experience for my first show at the Corpse Fortress.

The next show on my list was Rotting Christ and Melechesh on Wednesday the 9th of March at Jaxx. If you go to a lot of metal shows in the DC area you’re going to find yourself at Jaxx sooner or later and fittingly this was the only venue I’d be at twice during my Metal Marathon. Some people complain about various aspects of the venue but at the end of the day, they are the only place in this area that will play any number of international metal bands and if it wasn’t for them I’d surely have seen a lot less of my favorite bands from Europe and even farther away. This night was a perfect example of this fact when the Greek band Rotting Christ headlined a show with Israel’s Melechesh. Two great black metal acts that happen to not be from Scandinavia. The tour also features the Polish black metal act Hate but they weren’t able to make it to this gig, the first show of the tour. When I got there Melechesh was getting ready to play and I quickly secured a spot in the very front. These guys are one of my favorite bands these days and I was really excited to get to see them again. They had played their first US concert ever at last year’s Maryland Deathfest (my extensive recap of that is here) and this night’s show at Jaxx was going to be their second US show. Their set at MDF had been cut short and they had a new album out since then too, so this concert’s set was longer and featured new material too. Simply put, they hit the stage and just killed it. Yeah I’m pretty biased about these guys but even most of the people I talked to afterwards said they also thought Melechesh had put on the better show. Their sound is certainly black metal but with a distinct middle eastern bent and they have some really catchy riffs that really make the sound work. That all said, Rotting Christ didn’t put on a bad show by any means. Their set was heavy with a lot of songs from their latest album, Aealo, which is ok but I think their album previous to that, Theogonia is the best of their 20+ year career. They did play several songs from that too, but the last time I saw them they were touring in support of that album and the setlist was just superior. They didn’t play much of their older material though. I was hoping they’d play some of their classics like Under The Name Of Legion and Sorrowful Farewell but I guess they’re trying to appeal more to their newer fans. I enjoyed the material they did play and combined with the set by Melechesh would say this show was definitely worth the price of admission.

Thursday the 10th of March was the sixth day of my nine day Metal Marathon and since my car was in the shop I found myself in need of a ride to see Atheist play at Sonar in Baltimore. Luckily one of my readers, a really cool guy named James (who I’ve run into at a few shows now after this night) gave me a lift in the pouring rain up to Charm City. This show was a bit of an odd line up. While I was there to see Atheist and catch opening act Revocation, I didn’t care about some of the metalcore opening acts, A Life Once Lost or Last Chance To Reason. This show was the first time I’d seen Revocation and they certainly come from the Galder school of on stage facial expressions. They were making all kinds of faces during their highly energetic set. I’d heard they were a good band live but even so I didn’t expect them to be that entertaining. They also played a cover of the Death classic Pull The Plug which is always a good way to get extra points from me. My only problem with their set was that they weren’t the last support act for Atheist. After they played A Life Once Lost hit the stage. I wasn’t familiar with their material but it seemed to be pretty typical metalcore, which I’m not a fan of and after a couple songs I’d heard enough and found my way to the bar for a beer I’d gladly enjoy out in the hall. After some good conversations out there, I went back in while Atheist was setting up to get right up front for taking some pictures. Atheist is a progressive technical death metal jazz fusion band. Yeah, that’s quite a description but pretty much sums them up. They were around in the late 80s/early 90s Florida death metal scene but broke up in 1994. They reunited in 2006 with guitarist Kelly Shaeffer sticking to just the vocals because he was unable to continue playing guitar due to some medical issues. I saw them play at Jaxx in July of 2009 but this time they had an album of new material, their first in 17 years, and this was the first tour that they’d be playing any of the new songs live. Luckily the new album, Jupiter, kicks ass and fits in with their older songs perfectly. The set was pretty awesome except for two things really, they skipped over Mother Man which was on the setlist, and their final song, Piece Of Time, was totally screwy due to technical difficulties. Those are my two favorite Atheist songs so that kinda sucked, but otherwise the show was great. They have a unique sound that fans of either technical heavy metal or jazz will enjoy, not just people who are fans of both. The band is really tight live and it sure is fun watching them play those kick ass tunes in person. The audience begged for an encore but guitarist Chris Baker came out on stage and said they couldn’t because of the technical difficulties they were having. Sort of a shitty way to end the night but what else could they do?

Well, that’s what I did on days four, five and six of my nine day Metal Marathon. You can read about the Metal Marathon plan here or about the concerts I saw on the first three days here. My next post will be covering the four concerts I went to in the final three days. So stay tuned to hear about my impressions on concerts by Meek Is Murder, Dropdead, Trap Them and Apocalyptica in my next post. Until then you can check out some of the videos I shot over days four, five and six of the Metal Marathon below or go to my YouTube page to see all of them. You can also check out my Flickr set here that has pics I’ve posted from this awesome string of concerts.

Review of Psycroptic gig at Jaxx

While many people are returning home on the Sunday night following Thanksgiving, I found myself heading down to Jaxx again on the 28th of November 2010. Psycroptic and Keep Of Kalessin, the opening bands on Nile and Ex Deo‘s fall tour were playing a few extra shows without the headliners, and this was the date they came through the area. It wasn’t a long show, only four bands played, and it ended early at around 10pm. Pathology was supposed to be part of the touring line up, but they were involved in a major accident in November (more details here) that ended all touring plans for them. There wasn’t a huge crowd for this show, but that was sort of to be expected. It was still a lot of fun and I finally got to see Psycroptic play live.

The first band to play was local death metal act Orgy Of The Damned. I had seen them play before at the Blood And Fire Festival back in July. They’re still really young, most of the guys had black Xs on their hands. That’s fine though, as again their youthful excitement for the music comes through as a big plus in their set. They played Reanimator which was pretty fun to see live. It’s one of the songs they are giving away for free on my download page if you want to check it out. They also played a cover of the Cannibal Corpse classic Hammer Smashed Face that was pretty cool. In another cue taken from Cannibal Corpse, at the end of their set the vocalist, Jeff Wright, said he “lied” about them not playing Feces Fiend and they closed with that song. The next band up was another local act, Trihexyn. They’re pretty good, just not my kind of metal really. I knew what to expect since I’d seen them before at the State Theatre as part of the second Mandatory Metal night there. They rely heavily on using clean vocals which is something I generally am not a fan of (there are exceptions of course). They are pretty good and have well written songs that they play pretty well so don’t get me wrong here, I’m just not their target audience. They do switch to a more rough vocal style for some parts, and I do find that to be more enjoyable, but I seemed to be in the minority about a few things this evening anyways. Also, the bass player had pink hair, which was a bit weird too but hey metal isn’t supposed to be about fashion anyways (don’t tell that to Cradle Of Filth though!). I’ve got a video of them below so check them out, maybe you’ll like them more than I do.

The next band to play was Norway’s black metal band Keep Of Kalessin. I really didn’t like their newest album, Reptilian, and sadly (for me) their set was mostly made of material from it. It’s all about dragons which wouldn’t be so bad except there’s a lot of that clean vocal singing going on again. So yeah, I’ve become that fan of theirs, the guy who likes only the old stuff. I seemed to be in the minority about that because the audience was reacting well to their performance. And they did play Crown Of The Kings, which is one of their older songs that is totally awesome, but they didn’t play Come Damnation, which is my favorite song of theirs. Their set was only about 40 minutes or so, so I guess they were just doing the same basic set list of songs from their Nile tour, mostly just supporting their new album. I thought they would have played a bit longer, and while I figured they’d play a good amount of their newer material, I also thought they’d play some older stuff since they had the chance to play a longer set. They closed with Kolossus which is a solid song, so overall it wasn’t bad, just not my favorite material for most of the set.

The final band of the night was Psycroptic coming all the way from Tasmania. I’ve wanted to catch them for a long time, as they’re probably my favorite technical death metal band these days (Decrepit Birth is up there too though) and I’ve waited a few years now to catch them live. I didn’t see them earlier this year at Sonar with Nile because I knew this show was coming up and I’d rather go to the closer venue, for less money when they headline. They did play an awesome set, though again it was short. I enjoyed the show a lot and got so caught up with it that when it ended I was kinda mad I’d only shot video of two songs! For me the highlight of the evening was when they played (Ob)Servant, which is just a kick ass metal song. Really, all the songs they played are pretty damn sick. It was like they were putting on a tutorial how you do tech death! I was hoping that since they were headlining they’d play a longer set but they didn’t really. They didn’t play The Colour Of Sleep nor Alpha Breed, two of my favorite songs of theirs. Same as with Keep Of Kalessin, I really wished they’d taken advantage of the headlining slot to play a longer set and included more older material. Their vocalist was a temporary fill in on this tour while their normal singer was staying home to be with his newborn. He did a decent job, his stage presence wasn’t bad and he had a hell of a lot of energy up there, literally jumping around and helping to keep the audience excited. Really though, nobody goes to see Psycroptic because of the vocals, their guitar work is crazy and the drummer is pretty damn tight too. They didn’t have a huge crowd and Keep Of Kalessin seemed to have a larger audience when they played. That didn’t matter to me, I was there to finally see Psycroptic play, and other than the set being so damn short, they didn’t disappoint at all. And I’ve got the videos below to prove it, check em out:

Review of Loculus gig at Jaxx

Ashburn, Virginia based Loculus headlined a local metal night with openers Above The Altar and Apothys at Jaxx on Saturday the 20th of November 2010 and it was pretty damn awesome. This was the release party show for Loculus’ new EP, Sinew, which they were giving away copies of for free to everyone in attendance. Not only that, but it was a great showing of the local death metal community. There was a great turn out for such a late show with no national headliner and hell, I’ve been to Jaxx plenty of times to see touring bands with far less people in attendance. I’d never been to one of these “late” shows at Jaxx before, where they have one concert going on earlier in the afternoon/evening and another later that night, and this one seemed a bit disorganized, though that was no fault of the bands involved. Apparently the earlier show got out late, and while the first band of the late show was supposed to go on at 10:30, they didn’t hit the stage until 11:30. I talked to a few members of the bands playing after I got there and they not only had no idea when their sets would start, they didn’t even know how long they would be allowed to play if at all! Though once the bands did start playing, the show really was worth the wait.

By the time Apothys hit the stage you could tell the crowd was starting to get restless. Originally the band Shotgun Surgery was supposed to play, but they had to cancel and were replaced on the bill by Apothys a week or two before the concert. Apothys always seems to put on a good show live and this time was no exception. They kept the crowd fired up the entire set and the band looked like they were having as much fun up there as anyone in attendance. I noticed that they didn’t play Of Writhing Eyes, a killer song which they have been closing shows with the last couple of times I have seen them. I wonder if that was due to time constraints because the show was running so late. I had just seen them the previous Monday at So Addictive (my review of that concert is here) and while that show was kind of cool for it’s lack of a stage so the band really mingled with the audience, it was nice to see them up on a proper stage with decent lighting again. Sadly the camera I shoot video with had its SD card take a shit and the video I took of them playing Terminus at this show has some error that makes the file unplayable. I didn’t know this until I got home that night and the card also lost one of the videos I shot of the headliner, Loculus. Sucks but what can ya do?

The next band to play, Above The Altar, is a death metal band from Loudon with a lot of thrashy elements and even a few breakdowns giving them a sort of ‘core element to their sound. I had never seen them play before, but they were a good addition to the night’s line up, putting a bit of variation (but not too much) between the two other more standard death metal bands in the line up. Their songs were pretty well put together though they didn’t really grab me too much. Maybe if I was familiar with some of their material beforehand I’d have been a bit more into it. Their lead singer, Toby Gomez, was pretty entertaining with his banter between songs and he helped to keep the mood light between the heavy songs. By the time they ended their set it was getting late though and I was wondering how much time the headliner would have to play.

The next band to hit the stage was Loclus and it was already after 1am when they started playing! They had a big, professional banner with their logo and some artwork up behind the stage that must have cost a bit of money to have made. It was pretty cool looking though. Their guitarist, Steve Miller, had given me their demo a few months back that I really enjoyed, but I still hadn’t had a chance to catch them live yet. I’m glad I made it to this one as they were really on fire. You can tell they had put a lot of work into getting this show together and when they hit the stage it really paid off! They took the stage and really played a no-nonsense very tight set. This was some fast, brutal death metal and Loculus really killed it on the stage here. They were well practiced and they executed their material very well (from what I could tell at least). The drums were pummeling, the guitars were furious and the vocals were out of control. They didn’t talk much between songs, I’d guess that was partially due to the fact that time was becoming an issue this night. However, they did pause at one point to tell everyone to pick up a free copy of the four song EP they were releasing. The mosh pit was going strong the whole set and I think everyone in the room could feel the intensity of their performance. The worst part was that it was so short, they only played five songs, though I think if it was any longer they’d have run out of time for the venue to be open.

It was a great show, and while it wasn’t the first for Loculus it had a sort of debut feeling to it. If you were there and didn’t get a copy of Sinew for some reason, the band has said you can bring your ticket stub to their next concert (date and venue still to be determined as of this post’s writing) and they’ll give you a copy. It was great to see so many people come crawling out of the woodwork to a late gig for local death metal acts. It sort of reminded me of that first State Theatre metal show (my review of that is here) back in August where it was also cool to see how many people came out in support. These kinds of concerts, plus the Blood & Fire Fest, various weekly and monthly metal gigs starting at venues around the area, and the willingness of more and more local venues to host metal concerts are showing this scene really start to come together! I’m glad so many people came out, and glad Loculus not only set this show up, but really killed it Saturday night when everyone was watching to show people this isn’t all just hype. Metal in the greater DC area is on the rise! Now check out the videos from the night that my SD card didn’t corrupt below, and be sure to check back later in the week for my review of Sunday night’s Dying Fetus and Cannibal Corpse as well as the re-opening (finally) of the Downloads page on the site that will have free mp3 downloads of over 20 different local metal bands of various sub-genres.

Review of Katatonia gig at Jaxx

On Thursday the 7th of October 2010 I headed over to Jaxx to catch Swallow The Sun, Orphaned Land and headliner Katatonia play the final show of the 26 date Night Over North America 2010 Tour. Katatonia is a sort of doomy dark metal band from Sweden that, at least in recent years, uses clean vocals exclusively. Swallow The Sun is a band from Finland that actually fits on this bill rather well, though they do use mostly harsh vocals. Musically their sounds are pretty similar and I’m sure their fan bases has a lot of cross over. Orphaned Land is sort of the odd ball on this tour. They are an Israeli metal band with a traditional hebrew and arabic folk elements and themes. There were also a couple local openers, but I didn’t get there in time to see them. The place was pretty full, always nice to see a good turn out at Jaxx.

To start off, Swallow The Sun and Orphaned Land switched places in the evening’s band line up order, so Swallow The Sun played first. I’m not sure if this meant they had a shorter set though. I think this was probably a better order than if Orphaned Land played first, mostly because I think Swallow The Sun and Katatonia have similar sounds and putting the other band in the middle keeps the sound from getting stale. Swallow The Sun played a good set though, including my favorite songs of theirs, Falling World and Swallow (Horror Part 1). Before playing the song New Moon, which I’d always wondered if it was about those stupid Twilight books and movies, vocalist Mikko Kotamäki said that the song was in fact about them, but implied it was making fun of them. He said that “Vampires used to suck blood but now they suck cock.” When they played their song The Justice Of Suffering, Katatonia’s singer Jonas Renske came out after a couple minutes and sang parts of the song live. As a side note, I noticed he had a Bloodbath shirt on but when he came out with his band later he had switched to an Autopsy shirt. Anyways, Swallow The Sun was pretty good, and for a slower band than much of what I’m used to seeing live, they never had me feeling bored at all. Really they were a perfect opener for setting the tone for the rest of the evening.

The next band to play was Orphaned Land. Though I’d heard of them before from that Global Metal documentary, I wasn’t really familiar with much of their music. They certainly didn’t sound the same as the other two bands on this tour, and that’s fine. These guys have a more traditional approach to heavy metal, maybe you could call them thrash or very soft melodic death metal, but the real part that stands out is all the hebrew and arabic stylings. They certainly aren’t as fast or brutal as a band like Melechesh but they’re still definitely a heavy metal band with distinct middle eastern influences. Their set was pretty entertaining to watch, though a lot of it was kinda hokey audience participation stuff like getting everyone to wave their hands or hop in place like they were at a ska show. A few times members of I guess other bands or the crew came out on stage doing goofy shit. One time they came out wearing towels on their head mocking turbans and one guy had a green sock that was supposed to be a snake while another guy was the snake charmer with a horn thing made of tin foil. This sort of thing became a recurring theme throughout the evening, I suppose because it was the final show of the tour. That’s fine for the Orphan Land stuff that’s kind of goofy and upbeat anyways, but the distractions and interruptions got kind of annoying after a while during Katatonia’s set. Orphaned Land’s vocalist, Kobi Farhi, was wearing some white get up that looked like a baptismal frock or something. He was also barefoot the entire set which I found quite brave. It made me think of all the times I’ve seen stuff like Glen Benton spit on that same stage. At one point he said that in case the audience was wondering, he was in fact Jesus Christ and that he loves heavy metal. He then said “Mayhem is a great band” which I found to be quite an awesome statement from these guys, but I think Mayhem might be a bit heavy for many in the audience at this gig. The band was missing a couple members, most notably Shlomit Levi, the woman who does the female vocals on their records. They did play her parts from recordings a couple times during intros of songs, and I think Kobi sang the rest of her parts himself. Their upbeat middle eastern folk metal seemed to be quite a hit with the audience and you could tell that some people were here just to see them. In all, even though the set was corny and at times just goofy, it was still rather entertaining.

The final act of the night was the headliner, Katatonia. I hadn’t seen them since September 2007 and while their new album wasn’t my favorite of theirs, it did have a couple new songs I enjoyed. The first thing I noticed about their set was that one of the guitarists was new, as well as the bass player. Not the end of the world I suppose, but different. I hadn’t kept up with the line up changes apparently. The next thing I noticed was the sound was shit! I could barely hear the vocals over the instruments in the mix, and for many bands that’s ok but Katatonia is one of those bands where the vocals and lyrics add a lot to the music. Now I was close to the front and in the center, not always the best place for sound quality at a place like Jaxx where the speakers face straight out, but still, the audio was crap and I could see the bass player was having problems with his instrument which actually happened the last time they played Jaxx also. They did play for almost two hours though and the sound had gotten a bit better by the end of it, though the vocals volume was still low in the mix from where I was standing (check out the videos below to hear what I mean). Katatonia has a lot of I guess “sing along” type songs and people in the audience didn’t hold back, particularly on some of their more famous songs. For some reason they never play a favorite of mine, Deliberation, and always play the monotonously repetitive Soil’s Song every set, I’ll never understand that choice. They didn’t play much older material and the setlist focused mainly on their newest album, Night Is The New Day, with a few other songs thrown in from the previous two albums. This was certainly not a show for fans of their older, harsher material, but then, I think everyone knew that going in. They certainly have a catchier sound these days, too heavy to be rock, and too melancholy to be stoner or doom, it’s their own distinct sound, and it’s well polished too. Jonas has a great voice and his lyrics are always very personal, though sometimes you’d be fooled by a song’s atmosphere as to what the song is actually about. For example, Leaders sounds like a song about a break up or something at first but it seems to actually be a song about the traps of the record industry. Speaking of Leaders, that was their final song of the night and while I really do enjoy it, apparently members of all the other bands and crew on the tour decided to come out on stage shooting silly string and throwing balloons and even taping gay porn to one of the guitars while the band played. Kinda ruined the mood though they’d been doing similar stuff all night. I’ve got video of this song below also, so you can see what I’m talking about. There were some cool moments too, like when the drummer for Swallow The Sun, Kai Hahto, came out to play drums on Teargas, and their vocalist also came out to sing with Jonas on that song. And while the on stage antics were a bit distracting for some songs, and certainly taking away from the serious tone of a lot of the music, it was still kinda funny seeing a couple guys doing a Jewish dance in the middle of Ghost Of The Sun. At one point the band had everyone in the audience turn to the mixing board and sing Happy Birthday to the tour manager. At the end of the set Katatonia did the typical planned encore thing, which made the new guitarist decide to take his shirt off showing his “sodomizer” stomach tattoo, haha.

In all the show was a lot of fun, and you could tell the bands were having maybe more fun than the fans for this one! I can’t wait to see them again, though I hope next time they play a set with a more ‘best hits’ style setlist with material from their entire history. Oh and there was that wasted guy that wanted to start a fight with me. Of all the crazy metal shows I go to, it’s the bands ya least expect that people seem to want to fight. I mean really, Katatonia gets you violent? And no I did not fight him, call me a pussy if you want but I don’t hit. Anyways, he left the front of the crowd and I never saw him again so no big deal really. Enough about that, now go check out the videos I shot below!

Review Of Hate Eternal gig at Jaxx

Disclaimer: I’ve been rather busy and also gotten sick since this concert happened so I’m not going to do a complete review of the gig, and it’s late getting posted too so deal with it. It was Friday the 27th of August and I went to Jaxx to see Hate Eternal, Cannabis Corpse and Order Of Ennead play. There were some local bands that played first, but I didn’t get there in time to see them. I did hear that a band called the Dead End Kids performed some rap and so many people left the main room because of this that that they were having a problem with crowding in the hallway.

I arrived at the venue a few minutes before Order Of Ennead played, which was good because I certainly wanted to see them again. They’re a Tampa, Florida based death metal band, and their drummer is Steve Asheim of Deicide fame. I’d seen them open for Deicide a while ago, but it was good to see them standing on their own this time. They played a tight set and I liked it more than the first time I saw them. Partly because I caught the entire set, and also because I think they’ve practiced a lot more and gotten their sound really down. I guess I mean their performance just seemed more professional and polished. In all, a brutal way to start of the night, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Next up was Cannabis Corpse, a sort of joke band from Richmond. Their song titles are all parodies of Cannibal Corpse songs, but changed to make them about smoking pot. For example Skull Full Of Maggots becomes Skull Full Of Bong Hits. That said, their songs are not covers or Weird Al style humorous lyric swaps, they’re more thrashy really. You may recognize their bass player, Philip Hall, from the band Municipal Waste, though the stand out on stage was vocalist, Andy Horn. Even though Cannabis Corpse was the band I was least interested in seeing, he was by far the most entertaining person on stage all night. He was almost constantly moving around, making strange and funny expressions and hand gestures, and even doing things like stumbling around like a zombie on stage. He really kept their set entertaining to me, and he was good at getting the pit going too. Going into the show I thought they should be playing before Order Of Ennead but I think they were a good fit between the two Florida death metal bands. They were a nice change of pace and kept the show from getting monotonous. And even though they weren’t headlining, they finished their set with an encore song, the rarely played live Chronolith (video below).

The next band set to play was the headlining act, Hate Eternal. The other Florida death metal act on the bill, this three piece band is technical and relentlessly brutal. Vocalist/guitarist Eric Rutan is probably best known for his time spent in Morbid Angel, but Hate Eternal is his own baby. Most of their songs aren’t particularly catchy, but then you don’t go to death metal shows to grind on sluts all night do ya? No, you go to hear fast, brutal tunes with insane solos and gutteral vocals so you can let off some steam in the mosh pit. Hate Eternal delivered big time this night, and though the crowd wasn’t by any means the biggest I’ve seen at Jaxx, there were enough people there that the place didn’t feel empty. The band didn’t move around a whole lot on stage, tho Eric would walk to the edge of the stage in a few choice spots and get right up in the audience’s face which seemed to get people excited every time. The band was really tight and really crushed it, especially on songs like I, Monarch and King Of All Kings. They were definitely worth seeing and my ears loved the pummeling.

Well, that’s about it for my “short” review which seems to have gotten to a decent length now. The people at Jaxx were cool and didn’t give me any gruff for shooting video this night, so I shot a lot. The guys in Order Of Ennead actually posted links to their MySpace and Twitter feeds of the vids I posted of them, which is cool. Well, on to the videos:

Review of Fear Factory gig at Jaxx

On Thursday 3 June 2010 I headed out to Jaxx again to see Fear Factory play on their so called Fear Campaign Tour. I get off of work kinda late these days, and when I got to the venue I realized it was another early show at Jaxx. I got there about 9pm and Prong was finishing up their set, which meant the next band was Fear Factory. Luckily I really wanted to see them headline more than anything, so not the end of the world missing the openers. The only Prong song I know by name is that old Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck tune, which never interested me anyways. I do wish I could have caught local support band Loculus but they were on far too early for me to see them. Upon entry I spent a few minutes talking to friends of mine at the back bar, then as usual I headed towards the front of the pit to get some good shots of the band.

Fear Factory is a band I liked a lot when I was younger, their first two albums really kicked ass. They had a unique blend of metal with industrial tendencies. What I always found interesting about their sound is they really tried to write songs that sounded mechanical or robotic, not just write metal songs with repetitive keyboards and sound effects added to give it that industrial sound. Then the nu-metal fad hit in the late 90s and while I did like some of the songs on their 3rd album, Obsolete, you could tell the band was changing direction and not in a way I cared about. I didn’t really listen to them much for many years, though a friend of mine would always get their new stuff so I did hear some parts of albums I’d consider forgettable. Through sites like Blabbermouth I’d heard about the band breaking up and reforming and various other bits of drama involving their line up, until at some point I guess they just stopped being a band all together. A few years passed and their original singer, Burton C. Bell got back together with their original guitarist, Dino Cazares, and they got the band going again. Their current guitarist was moved to bass and then they added legendary drummer Gene Hoglan (whose complete credits are far too long to list here) who has been in a wide array of metal bands, from Death to Strapping Young Lad to Old Man’s Child to Testament to the Cartoon Network’s joke band Dethklok. The buzz around this new version of Fear Factory interested me enough to check them out again, and I’m glad I did. Their new album, Mechanize, released in February this year, wasn’t just a return to form from the days I enjoyed them, but they had a new energy and excitement to their sound that had been missing for a while. When I heard they’d be coming to Jaxx on their reunion tour I was excited, I certainly wanted to see this band again. The last time I saw them was almost exactly 11 years before, when they played on the side stage of Ozzfest in 1999, but this new album made them a must see for me after a decade of apathy on my part.

So there I was, up in the front waiting for the band to come on. They started early, a few minutes after 9:30pm, but when they came out the crowd was already excited. They started off with the title track off their new album, Mechanize. People enjoyed it but when they started playing the next song, Shock, the crowd was definitely into the show. I saw a few crowd surfers at this gig, and I don’t know if Jaxx security was being lax on purpose or just slow to the draw this night, but they weren’t kicking them all out as I saw some of them back in the audience throughout the show. The band came out with a good energy, Dino was singing along to the lyrics of most of the songs while playing his 8 string guitar and Burton was getting right up on top of the audience. This set list was certainly tailored to older fans like myself, as they only played 2 songs from albums between Obsolete and their newest. They played the first 4 songs from Demanufacture (one of the best A sides in metal from the 90s if you ask me) and the first 3 songs from Obsolete. They only played 1 song from their first album, Soul Of A New Machine, the overly repetitive yet still catchy Martyr. They said this was the 17th show on the tour and you could tell between songs they were starting to get a little tired as the show went on. At one point they did break for several minutes to thank the other bands, and as a kind of cool gesture they actually learned a riff from a song by each opening band and played it saying the band’s name. I was rather impressed by that and I wish other bands did that sort of thing. The break then continued as they brought out the vocalist, J Costa, from the opening act Thy Will Be Done to do a rather stupid Christopher Walken impersonation to introduce the members of Fear Factory. This really did eat up a lot of time in which they probably could have played another song, but I suppose they were just trying to take a breather. Sadly, they didn’t play my favorite song off the new album, Christploitation, but they did play another song from it for the first time ever live, Controlled Demolition (video below). Luckily they didn’t play their awful Gary Numan cover of the song Cars, which they had a video for that actually got rotation on MTV back in the day (and not on Headbanger’s Ball mind you). They did seem to feel guilty for playing the song Descent and claimed they were playing it for the women in the audience, but I thought it showcased a different side to their typical songwriting and wasn’t a terrible song to add to the set. Their show did seem to be running out of steam towards the end though, and Burton’s voice didn’t seem to be holding some of the notes as well towards the end of the gig. He seemed to be having trouble hitting higher notes as well as holding the breath to sustain longer notes. Still, they put what they had left in the tank into Zero Signal, a personal favorite of mine from way back when, and the crowd seemed to really enjoy it as much as I did. They closed the set with Replica and didn’t do the tacky staged ‘encore’ thing so many bands do. They apparently stayed after the show to sign things for people as I saw a line formed in the main concert hall long after the set was over, that’s always cool of the bands who do that. I had a lot of fun at this show, I wasn’t bothered by security about my camera at all, and they played a set list I really enjoyed. I could see how people who weren’t as familiar with the older material would have preferred a set with more of the material from the past decade, and again I really wanted to see Christploitation live, but I really can’t complain about the set list. They might be a bit older now but they’ve certainly got me interested in the next album they’ll put out and I wouldn’t mind seeing them again in a year or two, just hopefully with better openers, and ones I can arrive in time to see too!

Review of Dark Tranquillity gig at Jaxx

After work on Wednesday 12 May 2010 I headed over to Jaxx again for another metal show. Been there a lot recently, though that’s not a bad thing. This time I was going to see the Gothenburg band Dark Tranquillity. When I got there a parking spot right in front of the venue was open (no, not in front of the stores with the 30 minute parking signs, a real spot). When I got inside the band Threat Signal was on stage about midway through their set. I wasn’t too interested in them, and quickly made my way to check out the merchandise stands. As soon as they finished playing I headed up to the stage to try to get a good angle to get pix from.

The band came on stage a few minutes after 10pm, and people were ready. Ironically they used a “Projector” on the stage, and had interesting visuals on the backdrop throughout the concert. I prefer this method to the typical banner that most bands put up, as it it much more interesting to look at because it’s dynamic. This combined with the excellent lighting and just the right amount of smoke machine fog made for a very visually stimulating show. They made use of the entire stage and kept their wires, pedals and other equipment very neat and organized. This was probably necessary because the band really likes to move around on stage. I had a great time photographing them and while I often have to move about the audience to get good shots of the various band members that are on different locations on stage, they made it easy for me since they all moved around so much up there.

Ok, the visual stuff is cool and all, but how about the music? Well, I got a photograph of their setlist when they were setting up so I knew what to expect. Sadly, it didn’t consist of much from my favorite album of theirs, Damage Done. They did play Final Resistance though, so I can’t complain too much. Of the 15 songs they played 6 of them were from their new album, We Are The Void, and another 4 songs from their previous album, Fiction. They only played 1 song from before 1999, and they’ve been around since 1991. That’s great if you’re a newer fan of the band I suppose, though I’d have preferred a bit more of the older material in the setlist. Regardless, the band played well and it was a lot fun to watch them. Mikael Stanne has a great stage presence and really hangs right over the crowd for parts of almost every song, even letting fans scream into the mic from time to time. He didn’t talk too much between songs but did say they would probably be back next year. The sound mix wasn’t bad. The keyboards were almost non-existent from where I was standing (front and center) but that’s fine by me. It’s something that happens to a lot of metal bands, where the keyboards that get raised so highly into the mix on the album but are almost impossible to hear live. That’s fine by me though, as I really enjoy hearing the guitars carry the band more live. Also, the vocal style of the growls wasn’t the same as on the new album, another thing I think is good. I don’t really like how they sound on the new album, probably due to layering the vocals in the studio, but I think it made him sound too much like Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy. They played for about 80 minutes straight and luckily they did not do the typical rockstar encore thing. After the show Mikael came back on stage to pound a beer for some reason. Not sure what was up with that as I was already at the merch stand (bought a t-shirt from local opener band Apothys). Apparently the band members of Dark Tranquillity were going to head over to the merchandise area and sign stuff for fans, which is always cool when bands do that, but I didn’t wait around because I’m not that big on autographs.

I remember I’d heard years ago from a few people that Dark Tranquillity wasn’t a good band to see live, but trust me, whoever said that was lying. The last time I saw them I was really surprised on how good of a show they put on, and this time was even better (even if I didn’t enjoy the setlist as much). Though I didn’t have any problems this time, I did hear people in the audience grumbling about security bugging them about their cameras. Regardless, I did shoot two videos (of older songs) which you can see below. Also of note, this will be my last concert review until Maryland Deathfest. I should have a lot of pics and footage of that afterwards, and maybe some other surprises too.