Review of Existence Asunder by Terracide

Band: Terracide
Album: Existence Asunder
Release Date: 6 June 2014
Buy digital or CD for $10 on Bandcamp: Here

Cover of Existence Asunder by Terracide

Here’s another album review by Tal and you can of course read more of her writings on her personal blog In My Winter Castle. I’ll keep this short and let you get right into it.

It’s not too easy to find an epic melodic metal band that’s local to the DC area, so the debut full-length Existence Asunder from Washington, DC’s Terracide is a welcome addition. It’s an extravaganza of melodic guitar, alternating between aggressive melodeath riffs and high-flying power metal epicness, with a few proggy melodies thrown in for good measure. The album also brings more death metal thunder than their EP, Primordium, would have led one to expect. As for vocals, Terracide mainman Daniel Tidwell’s voice ranges from a low growl, to a harsh shriek, to harsh singing, to high clean vocals. To further muddy the waters, the album even forays into metalcore territory, with a touch of angst in some of the clean choruses and even a few breakdowns – but I can forgive them since it doesn’t sound out of place or detract from the melodic punch of the album. Who doesn’t mix half a dozen different genres these days anyway?

My favorite track is probably “Your Heaven’s Falling.” It’s actually one of the less melodic songs on the album, but it’s definitely the most headbangable. It starts off fast and thundering, gets really groovy for the chorus, and then revs up to circle-pit pace again in the second verse. Some other standout heavy tracks are “Halo Delusion,” with its epic melodic chorus anchored by rumbling growls, and “Stars Align” with its speedy melodic lead over very headbangable bass thunder. The more aggressive songs on the album put me very much in mind of Slaughter of the Soul era At The Gates, with their furious pace, the epic feel of their raging, melodic riffs, and the driving heaviness of their slower parts.

Other songs go more straightforwardly in an epic direction, notably “When Roses Bleed” and “Installation 04 (September 2552).” These songs include harsh vocals, but besides that they have more of a galloping NWOBHM or power metal sound even in their more forceful parts. The high, clean choruses, such as in “Installation 04,” certainly have a power metal flair, as do a few of the more flamboyant solos, such as two minutes into “Feed the Flame.” Another nice touch is the melancholy yet beautiful piano intro to “When Roses Bleed,” composed and played by guest musician Yoko Mada. It lasts for one third of the song and is so lovely that it brings tears to my eyes; it contrasts strongly with the charging energy when the speedy metal part of the song gets started.

The epic, power metally parts of the album tend to be songs from the band’s EP, such as “Installation 04,” and parts of “Mirrorborn” and “Forge of Empty Souls.” The songs that are new on this album have a much stronger death metal feel, with a Gothenburg sound in particular. I wonder what precipitated this change, though I for one can appreciate both styles. I sure wouldn’t mind if they continued to mix these sounds, as long as they keep dazzling us with melodic guitars, whether epic or thundering. I’m looking forward to hearing what this band will do next, and I’m excited to see how their sound and career will develop.

Your Heaven’s Falling:

When Roses Bleed:

Mirrorborn:

Review of Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Sunday the 13th of April 2014 marked the final night of the 2014 Decibel Magazine Tour and it was at the Fillmore Silver Spring. The headliner was Carcass, making their first DC appearance since reuniting in 2008, though they have played Baltimore twice since then. Each stop on the tour had a local opener and for this show it was Coke Bust, a straight edge hardcore band. I got there in time to see them but there was a problem with my photo pass at the box office and I didn’t get the pass in hand until Coke Bust had finished their set. A shame since I’ve seen them before but never on such a big stage. The second band to play was Noisem, a band of very young guys from Baltimore. I don’t think any of them are even old enough to drink yet. Noisem wasn’t another local opener though, they were on the entire tour, and as such they’ve certainly been getting a lot of exposure outside the area as well. They play a rather catchy style of death/thrash that’s a throwback to the 90s. Their vocalist Tyler Carnes was pretty high energy on stage, at least when he wasn’t fighting with the mic chord that was wrapped around the stage monitors. He jumped down into the photo pit area several times during his set, you may have seen me trying to avoid running into him while photographing him down there, and he ran up to people and would scream lyrics at them. This must have been pretty cool to people close up but for anyone not right in front, well, they probably had no idea what he was doing. Their set was good though and the band looked good on the Fillmore’s nice, big stage. A cover of Terrorizer‘s “Fear Of Napalm” with guest bass by Alejandro Corredor of Nausea was fun and gave Noisem’s regular bass player the opportunity to stage dive.

The next band to play was technical death metal band Gorguts. The Canadian band only has one member from its pre-reunion days, guitarist/vocalist Luc Lemay, but the band was always really his to begin with. For some reason he was off to the left of the stage most of the time, an odd place for a lead vocalist even if he was also playing guitar. Two members of the techy instrumental band Dysrhythmia, a personal favorite band of mine, are in Gorguts so I’m definitely a fan of the current line up. They were absolutely crushing on Sunday at the Fillmore. They are probably the most brutal band to ever play there and while Gorguts only played five songs, each one was performed expertly. They closed out their set with their classic song “Obscura” which was punishing. This is the band I was most excited to see at this show and they did not disappoint! Luc Lemay was manning the band’s merch table most of the night and was very friendly with fans, shaking hands and taking photos with them. If you missed their incredible set don’t worry, they’re playing the final day of Maryland Deathfest this year, Sunday, May 25th, and they’re playing on one of the big outdoor stages so tickets won’t sell out.

The next band to play was The Black Dahlia Murder, a melodic death metal band from Michigan that, I’ll admit, I’ve never really been a fan of. I’ve seen them several times over the years since they tend to play with bands I like but I’m not really familiar with their music. A lot of people seemed to really dig their performance but I just wasn’t one of them so this part of the show was, for me, used to talk to various people I knew that were there. This isn’t to say that their set was particularly bad, though I could have done without the “big titties” comment from vocalist Trevor Strnad, it just wasn’t my kind of music and it wouldn’t really be fair of me to judge their overall performance.

The next band to play was the headliner, Carcass. They played Maryland Deathfest last May as one of the headliners, but that was before they released their new album, last year’s Surgical Steel. Sunday night’s set list (see it here) was fairly similar to the one they played at Maryland Deathfest, except a few older songs had been removed to make room for several new songs. While Surgical Steel seems to have been well received by most fans, I didn’t like it at all so the loss of older songs in the set list for newer ones was a bummer for me. Overall the audience didn’t seem to mind and I suppose if you’re really into the new material this was your first chance to hear it live. The new song “Captive Bolt Pistol” certainly got a bigger mosh pit than “Exhume To Consume” did, and only hearing three songs from Necroticism: Descanting The Insalubrious was a bummer to me, but overall I got what I expected, mostly songs from Heartwork and Surgical Steel. I thought Carcass’ performance was much better here than at Maryland Deathfest where they seemed a bit rusty. Part of this might be due to the band having played so many more shows recently. Bill Steer and Mike Amott replacement not Bill Steer Ben Ash traded solos seamlessly and the band just seemed tighter overall this time. Jeff Walker sure talked a lot between songs and speaking with people after the show there seemed to be two sets of thought on this: some people loved it and found it very entertaining while others found it rambling and annoying. Sometimes he had some interesting or funny things to say about the band’s origins or the Chicken Man, but sometimes he said things that had me wondering why he was still talking. Like when he made a comment about how being vegetarian or vegan is a choice like being gay is (what?) and how the last time the band was in DC his only memory was of how confused he was by an overweight, black, lesbian Neo-Nazi at the 9:30 Club (again, what?). It didn’t take away from the show too much I guess but I certainly don’t remember him talking that much the last couple times I’ve seen them live. Anyways, even if this Carcass show wasn’t my ideal show, they did play material from every era of the band to at least have something in there for every Carcass fan. Plus a show like this brings out a lot of people and it’s always awesome running into so many familiar faces. Be sure to check out my photos and videos from the show below and feel free to leave a comment telling me about your experience at the biggest metal tour to come through our area this April.

Noisem:

Tyler Carnes of Noisem

Noisem at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Noisem at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Noisem at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Noisem at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Gorguts:

Luc Lemay of Gorguts

Luc Lemay of Gorguts

Kevin Hufnagel of Gorguts

Colin Marston of Gorguts

Gorguts at the Fillmore Silver Spring

The Black Dahlia Murder:

Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder

The Black Dahlia Murder at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Max Lavelle of The Black Dahlia Murder

Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder

Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder

Carcass:

Jeff Walker of Carcass

Jeff Walker of Carcass

Bill Steer of Carcass

Jeff Walker of Carcass

Ben Ash of Carcass

Bill Steer of Carcass

Dark Tranquillity ticket give away

Dark Tranquillity at the Baltimore SoundStage

Dark Tranquillity, one of the bands that formed the “Gothenburg sound” of melodic death metal, is coming to the Baltimore SoundStage on Sunday, February 2nd. We here at DCHM are giving away a free pair of tickets to the show to one of you lucky readers of the site and entering to win is easy! To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me who your favorite melodic death metal band is. Maybe it’s In Flames, Carcass, At The Gates, Soilwork or another band (I can’t list them all!). At 5pm EST this Friday, January 24th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to receive two tickets to the show! Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this then you can get tickets from Ticket Fly right now for $17.60 here.

Dark Tranquillity released their album Construct back in May but I’m sure they’ll be playing classic songs from their older albums like Damage Done and Character too. The Swedes aren’t the only band from Scandinavia on this tour though as Finland’s Omnium Gatherum will be bringing their own brand of melo death to the Baltimore SoundStage as well. There will also be support from LA thrashers Exmortus that you won’t want to miss. Local support comes from Pennsylvania’s March To Victory. Check out these videos by the touring bands and let me know who your favorite melodic death metal band is!

Dark Tranquillity – Lost To Apathy

Dark Tranquillity – Uniformity

Omnium Gatherum – The Unknowing

Exmortus – Immortality Made Flesh

Reviews of three Swedish concerts in one week

So this past week I saw three Swedish bands headline concerts in a row. I saw In Flames play on Saturday 14 January 2012, Graveyard play on Monday the 16th and Ghost play on Thursday the 19th. This was total coincidence as these bands aren’t label mates or anything like that, they just all happened to hit the area at once. So which of these bands kicked the most ass during this mini-Swedish invasion? Read on and you’ll find out.

Saturday the 14th saw me heading up to Baltimore for the first big metal show of the year in this area, In Flames playing at Rams Head Live! In Flames is probably the most famous of the Gothenburg, Sweden based melodic death metal bands from the 90s (other acts include At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity, among others). In Flames is also sort of like Metallica in that their first few albums grabbed them a devoted fan base that was then completely turned off to the band when they changed their sound and found commercial success. Their 2002 release Reroute To Remain is akin to Metallica’s self-titled album (or the “black album” as most people call it) in that it greatly expanded their fan base but completely alienated most older fans with the simplified songs and flashy production. The band has been very successful though, and the reason they are playing Rams Head Live instead of smaller venues like Sonar or Empire (formerly Jaxx) is due to that change in sound. In 2010 the band’s founder, Jesper Strömblad, left In Flames which now has no original members. This didn’t deter them as the summer of 2011 saw them release their first album without Jesper, Sounds Of A Playground Fading, the album which this tour was promoting.

The audience at the show was a bit rowdy; they are the kind of band that draws metal heads as well as non-metal heads to see them. This often means that some people in attendance see the show as “the rare concert I go to that I can get crazy at cause it’s a metal show” which is cool to a certain extent but I wasn’t loving that as In Flames started their first song, Sounds Of A Playground Fading, and I was hit in the back of the head with a drink someone had thrown from the balcony. Got my camera wet and if I wasn’t so focused on getting some decent shots of the band I’d have been much more pissed about that. I saw drinks being thrown throughout the show, so it wasn’t just me either. Anyways, their set list was heavy on material from the new album, the first three songs were the first three tracks off of it. People who are fans of only their pre-Reroute To Remain material didn’t miss much, the only songs they played from before that were Swim from Clayman and The Hive from Whoracle (I shot video of them playing both of these songs, as well as The Quiet Place, that you can watch at the end of this post). I’ve also posted a photo of the entire set list here. The sound mix at the venue wasn’t great. The volume was very low for a metal show and the bass seemed to drown out a lot. It’s like the guy mixing it thought all metal bands want to sound like Korn or something, haha. Seriously though, the guitars, and particularly the keyboards, were hard to pick out of the mix at times because the bass drown them out. The stage lighting was really awesome though! The band was heavily backlit with lots of big lights and enshrouded in a lot of fog which had a cool looking effect. The band’s performance was alright. Nothing too wild or phenomenal really but not bad. Vocalist Anders Fridén made sure to high five and fist bump most of the crowd surfers though he does this thing where he bends over and screams into the mic like ten times per song. It was fine at first but after a while you’re sort of thinking, c’mon man get another move or two. Between two songs he made a comment about how it is hard making money on music sales now and he was glad so many people came out to the show to support the band. The band did well and seemed to enjoy performing, and the new guitarist, Niclas Engelin, especially had a lot of energy up there almost like he was trying to be sure he won fans over to his replacement of Jesper. I sure think he did! They ended their set with Take This Life and they did not play an encore. Overall it was a decent show, for fans of the modern In Flames at least. Old school fans who are bitter would not have liked much about the show but that isn’t really a surprise. You got what you thought you were getting at this show, there were no big surprises, and that seemed to be good enough for most people in attendance.

Two nights later I found myself at DC9 to see the Swedish rock band Graveyard play. Between songs they said the show was sold out though I’m not sure if that’s true or not. It was pretty crowded so it might have been. The opening act was supposed to be Daniel Davies, the son of Dave Davies who is famous for being in the Kinks, but he canceled at the last minute and was replaced by a band called Black Cowgirl. I didn’t get to the show in time to see them though, but I did catch some of the set by the other support band, Radio Moscow. They were a bluesy rock band with some interesting guitar work. Just a few days prior a video went around on the internet (here) of the guitar player and vocalist, Parker Griggs, throwing his guitar into the drum kit in the middle of a song. The drummer got up and threw the guitar right back at Parker and it hit him in the face so hard he needed stitches. This was on the same tour that was in DC this night, and while both the drummer and bass player had been quickly replaced, you could still easily see the cut on Parker’s forehead. Their set wasn’t bad, a good opening act really. There was a delay at one point in their set when one of the amps blew. It took several minutes to find another one and get it up on the stage. They played some more afterwards though and while I enjoyed them I was ready for the headliner.

Graveyard, also from Gothenburg but not related to the melodic death metal scene there, is a throwback hard rock/metal band that sounds right out of the 70s, however they’re a newer band and have only put out two albums. In the spring of 2011 their sophomore album, Hisingen Blues, was released to much critical acclaim in the underground music press. Honestly it took me a few listens to really get into it, but it grew on me and I was excited that they were finally coming to the States to support the album. I’m glad I gave the album an extra chance because seeing these songs played live was simply awesome! The band was really on point this night and put on a great show. If you were there that night you didn’t just see a good band play some good songs, you got a rare chance to see a good band really coming into their own as they hit their stride. They stepped up to the plate and really hit it out of the park, even with Joakim Nilsson having problems with the strings on his guitars. He swapped them out quickly and didn’t take much away from the set by doing so. Since the band only has two albums they played most of both of them. As most tight bands do, they played their songs with quicker tempos even faster live really tearing through songs like Buying Truth and RSS. That’s not to say their slower songs didn’t stand out as well. Their performance on Uncomfortably Numb, a personal favorite of mine, was executed perfectly coming across with a lot of power for such a personal song in a room of so many people. Satan’s Finest also sounded great and got quite a reaction from the audience. Graveyard stopped at the end of their set but the crowd didn’t budge so they played a three song encore, finally ending their 80 minute set with the song Hisingen Blues. I’m sure there will be more good things coming from these guys and I’m betting they will be playing a larger venue next time they play the area. They’d be great on a tour with someone like The Sword. This was simply a great show and one of the best I’ve been to lately. It was a hell of a way to spend a Monday night!

Three days after Graveyard played it was time to head to the Rock & Roll Hotel to see Ghost, from Linköping, Sweden, play there on Thursday the 19th of January 2012. This show was definitely sold out as they had a big sign on the door saying so. The band was not allowing any cameras to be used, not even on phones, which, as a photographer, I find to be really annoying. There was a bit of a snafu with the label getting me my photo pass and while some of the venue’s staff knew I was OK’d to shoot there some of them didn’t and they told me part way thru to stop shooting, even though they let me in with my big camera. Whatever, miscommunication happens sometimes and I did still get a shot that I liked. I arrived in the middle of the set by one of the openers, Blood Ceremony. They’re a female fronted doom band from Toronto that some people were really getting into at the show. Vocalist Alia O’Brien busted out a flute during some songs and really it just wasn’t my thing, though I was never a Jethro Tull fan and they were definitely a big influence on Blood Ceremony. Ghost hit the stage around 10:30pm, which seemed a bit early to me for a show in DC. The band of course came out in full costumes including masks hiding their faces. Their main gimmick is that nobody really knows who is in the band Ghost as they always hide their identities and mask their voices in interviews. The lead vocalist, who goes by Papa Emeritus, comes out on stage wearing a mask with skull face paint and an elaborate evil cardinal costume. It’s all a bit over the top but whatever, they have some catchy tunes that are a bit of a throwback to old psychedelic bands and definitely Mercyful Fate as well. However even on the record Papa’s vocals are not nearly as high pitched as King Diamond. This night was no exception either, Papa was not hitting his high notes, he wasn’t even trying to. Instead he’d just replace them with a similar, but lower pitch, note which leads me to believe he was either sick or his voice wasn’t doing so well singing every night on tour. I had seen Ghost perform at Maryland Deathfest back in May and he was hitting his notes then, so I know he can do it. I guess this just wasn’t his night. The sound mix at the venue didn’t help much either, the keyboards were non-existent in the mix throughout most of the set and the vocals needed to be turned up several times as well. I could see one of the roadies giving signals to the guy at the sound board (I was standing in the part of the crowd directly between them) and they were having a lot of communication problems as well. At one point you jarringly heard the keyboards get pushed up to the mix way too high, it was almost like they didn’t sound check before the show and were just trying to figure it out as the show went on. Ghost stuck it out and instead of throwing a tantrum on stage they kept playing. They only have one album out so they don’t have a lot of material. They did perform their haunting rendition of Here Comes The Sun by the Beatles, a Japanese bonus track that they did not play at Deathfest. Towards the end of their set the sound did get better. Their closing song, Ritual, sounded pretty good actually, aside from Papa’s weak vocals. Luckily Ghost is the kind of band people love to sing along with and it helped cover some of the faults with his voice. Also, during the same song they brought out communion wafers and I guess wine or something and maybe five or so people in the front row ate them from Papa Emeritus’ hands. That was pretty corny and not as awesome as when Lord Worm would feed people live worms from the stage during Cryptopsy shows. Anyways, I was hoping Ghost might play some new material as I have heard the band has been working on a second album before they started this short 13 date tour. They didn’t play anything new and the set only lasted about 45 minutes, intros and all. That was rather short for a headlining band and left me feeling like it was a bit of a cash grab but what can ya do, they ran out of songs. The venue kept the lights down for a minute or two then suddenly turned them back on with house music over the speakers to end the night in a rather anticlimactic way. This show could have been a lot better, and the no photo policy forcing the venue’s bouncers to constantly be pushing through the sold out crowd, jarring your attention to let them pass every time you started to actually get lost in the show, didn’t help at all. They will be opening on a tour with Opeth and Mastodon in May that will hopefully come through this area and I really hope they put on the kind of performance I know they are capable of then. The metal fans in DC deserve it!

Well, that’s the three Swedish concerts I saw last week. Graveyard was certainly my favorite performance of the three Swedish bands but I’m glad I got to see all three of them play. Thanks for reading another long concert review post. As always you can see more of my concert photography on my Flickr page here or you can jump to the set of In Flames pics here or Graveyard pics here. Now check out the three videos of In Flames that I posted below. I didn’t shoot video at the other shows because the lighting was too poor, well that and Ghost had that crazy photo policy so I wasn’t going to push it. Stay metal DC and go out to a heavy concert!

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.