Animals As Leaders. Okay...I first heard of AAL when I really started listening/following Meshuggah. In 2011-2012ish, I read reviews that indicated a group called “AAL” was opening for them in Europe. As far as my opinion and dollar goes, anyone who is worthy enough to open for Meshuggah is worth paying attention to. I listened to a few of their more popular songs, such as “CAFO” and “Tempting Time,” and liked what I heard. Fast forward a few months to when Meshuggah toured the US in February 2013 and took AAL in tow. I saw Meshuggah three times that tour (Philadelphia, NYC, and Boston) and caught bits and pieces of AAL each time, and fell in love with them from that moment on, proceeding to see them do support for Summer Slaughter tour 2013, than twice on their own tour in 2014.
One thing that has always impressed me about AAL is the same sort of layout as another band I love, Primus, in terms of personality, style, and quite possibly, business practices. Tosin reminds me in so many ways of Les Claypool, the founder and “brains” of the band. He plays his instrument with a style that is very unique and specific to the sound and “package” the band is delivering.
Another noteworthy aspect about the band is their lack of vocals. While some metal fans may consider this move pretentious, it is smart not to lasso lyrics and/or a voice to music that is already so accomplished, as it would only do detriment to their art/style/message. Anyone into or looking to get into AAL should also check out an unfortunately defunct band called Spiral Architect. Their progressive sound and jazzy free-form style bear many similarities to AAL, although in my humble opinion, Spiral Architect's vocalist did not always compliment them.
That's another review for another day. On to the show itself.
While I missed Plini, I did manage to catch a little bit of the second support act, Intervals, who sounded as if they have been mentoring under AAL. Instrumental progressive metal, but not double digit length songs, with a tuning so similar to AAL, I thought AAL had already taken the stage. Once they finished their set and their equipment was cleared away, some Richard Cheese-type Christmas music began playing on the PA. While “’tis the season,” the way this ironic “happy” music clashed with what lay ahead was, for lack of a better word, amusing.
At approximately 9:05, the lights go down, with Tosin, Javier, and Matt assuming their respective positions onstage. The sitar notes at the start of “Arithmophobia,” opening track of AAL's new album “The Madness Of Many,” filled the venue, to be matched by the crowd’s roar of approval. The Indian vibe and sensibility of the track quickly gave way as AAL wasted no time doing what it is they do.
Quite often, Tosin would take a lead on guitar, spinning and riding off with a riff and give way to a calming bridge filled in by Javier, until he relented back to Tosin who would spiral off on another riff before concluding. Clearly a testament to their professionalism and confidence in one another, while the band was in action, there appeared to be little to no need to make visual or audio cues to one another. Whether they started a song or progressed to a new portion of the current song, each member remained on point. The lights took on a much more prominent role this tour, stopping and starting dramatically with the music, very akin to Meshuggah's lighting setup and techniques with dramatic color changes and spotlights reaching to the rear of the venue.
One aspect of the music on their new album I found specifically noteworthy are the introductions. Apart from the Eastern sensibilities of “Arithmophobia,” new song “Ectogenesis” begins with a keyboard sample very reminiscent of late-’80s/early ’90s synth, something Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails would have considered for Pretty Hate Machine. Tosin's guitar quickly mimics the beat while Javier’s twists and turns in a “solo” style that breathes, but unlike most progressive metal, is compact enough to not wear out its welcome. These newer songs, while not a dramatic change in style, hint at a possible evolution as far as their beginnings are concerned.
Classics such as “Tempting Time” were preformed flawlessly. However, the most shocking aspect of the night was that "CAFO," a staple of the seven AAL performances I’ve attended, was not performed. As disappointing as it was (a LOT disappointing, to some), it was also refreshing, as it may be a sign that AAL is moving out of their comfort zone, so to speak, not wanting to have to fall back on the songs that made them popular. Suppose Radiohead played “Creep” each and every single concert they performed. All passion for the song would be completely void, meaning would be lessened, and the fans’ expectations would be dramatically lowered. If nothing else, I believe AAL is doing us and themselves a favor by shelving their tried-and-true classic, at least for now.
- Chris C.
Saturday night began in August with the announcement of the Dillinger Escape Plan’s imminent breakup. There was much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth here at Metal Lifestyle, but the announcement of Dissociation and a final tour cycle around the U.S. that would hit both New York and Connecticut, the two states across which our team is currently spread, gave us reason to prepare rather than wallow in abject misery. Dissociation dropped in October to the same thunderous acclaim that meets anything from the Dillinger camp, but pitched to a more feverish, more pained frequency with the morbid understanding that this was it. Eleven songs and done.
Dillinger seemed tuned right into that. The album ends with the words “Finding a way to die alone,” and then deafening silence.
On October 15, our own Alex Brown had the chance to see them play the Webster Hall in New York City, and took it. His review was an omen of things to come, and it wasn’t the first. No joke: right up until doors opened at our own Webster (Theater, not Hall, but isn’t it kind of eerie?), the entire world seemed to be converging on this cold night in November. Footage emerged of Ben walking on crowds, of Greg surfing them, of the crowd and the band swapping places on the stage and the floor. Dillinger being Dillinger, but for the last time. Their tour photography became increasingly ethereal as the Hartford date approached, transforming them into silhouettes wreathed in fog and light, or capturing them in midair as if they belonged there. Dakota and Alex both dreamed about the show the night before. Alex Brown nearly missed his train to Connecticut. We met a group of Chicagoans in the venue as we waited through a handful of some of Connecticut’s best locals.
Every set was charged with anticipation. Every band shouted out Dillinger’s name at some point, often multiple times throughout. Cyperna, as always, played their moshy brand of metalcore with heart. They’re a gem waiting to be discovered, a reminder of everything that was fun about metalcore in the early-to-mid-00s. Dream of Scipio surprised us all with a tight, mature thrash sound that moves through several distinct segments per song. I was reminded of bands as diverse as Lamb of God, Lich King, and High On Fire, with whom Dream of Scipio share a honed sense of groove. Although there isn’t too much variety in the way of vocals, it was more than made up for by the sheer energy of the performance. It’s pretty clear this band should be playing much bigger stages than the Webster Underground.
In Depths & Tides incited the largest pits up to that point in the night with their deep, dark, and immediately identifiable atmosphere. Once fronted by Ben Duerr (Shadow of Intent), they’ve brought on Jake Maki to fill the void after Duerr announced his departure earlier this year. Maki proved himself a more than capable successor in seconds, riding IDAT’s massive, kinetic grooves like a pro. I’m not as familiar with them as I should be, but I was impressed enough by their performance to dive into their most recent album, Shroud, reviewed by Dakota a little while back.
Cryptodira put on an exciting, energetic performance, foreshadowing the mathcore histrionics to follow later that night. We caught them opening for Within the Ruins back in February, when they were a bit of an anomaly on the bill and played to a lukewarm crowd. Not the case here. While they’re a little less -core than the preceding acts, their twisted progressive metal borrows a lot from the unpredictable structures of mathcore and doubles up on the driving aggression. The response was much more enthusiastic this time around, and they concluded things on the second stage in winning fashion, garnering more applause than any of their predecessors.
The main stage opened shortly after Cryptodira wrapped up. We poured in. The energy was up in the venue, and the massive Dillinger Escape Plan flag looming behind the stage only heightened that feeling, reminding us of where the night was headed. For now, though, it was partly covered by a Cult Leader flag that signalled what was right in front of us. Acius got on and got off - “Please clap for us” - clearing a path for Cult Leader.
They turned off the lights and laid waste to the room. Lit from below, frontman Anthony Lucero filled the stage with his howls, flashing a Cursed backpatch to the crowd. As intense as they are on record, there’s no substitution for their live show. I don’t think I’ve seen a more pissed off set this year - like swimming upstream in a glass-crusher, there’s no escape from the all-consuming violence of their set, even for the band. Lucero tore up his jeans in a fit of rage and threw the pieces into the crowd. One of those has disappeared into Alex’s collection of show memorabilia, and will probably never emerge - it’s maybe the most appropriate reminder of the tension buzzing through the Webster’s main room, the sheer impatience.
Car Bomb plugged themselves into that energy and cranked the pits Cult Leader started to maximum frenzy. That thing seemed to fill half the room. Their drumkit looked like a small metropolis on stage and the music out-denses Dillinger at times, so much so that the band has to remain generally stationary, bent over their instruments to keep their musical Jenga tower together. This would normally bother me, but I was too busy trying to snap my neck to about fifteen odd-time riffs per second. We were close to exhaustion at this point, but the best was still to come. The Dillinger flag loomed. We soldiered on.
O’brother, without a doubt, was the surprise of the night. They threatened to steal the show right out from under Dillinger. I came across “Endless Light” earlier this year but was lukewarm on their “psychedelic Thrice” sound at the time. Who knows why. I was expecting to use their set as a breather, just hoping that it wouldn’t turn into the slog Tera Melos became when that band took the same penultimate spot on Dillinger’s last run through Hartford. O’brother took my reservations and tossed them out the window. They’re the kind of band that can make any sized venue feel like an acoustic set in your living room despite some apocalyptic volume swells, and while I could describe the highlights of their set - the driving grooves, the stunning falsetto notes, the bass guitar played with a bow (!) - it’s all something you should really experience for yourselves. If you see tour dates for O’brother in your state, go.
O’brother cleared out, and for the first time, the Dillinger Escape Plan flag was fully visible on stage. Fog billowed over the crowd, so thick up front that I could have lost sight of Dakota standing right next to me. LEDs flashed like lightning from somewhere deep on stage. The lights dimmed. The crowd pressed forward. Every shadowy movement drew screams and applause from the room. A low bass hum swelled over the next twenty minutes as the lights began to pulse, steadily at first and then faster, faster -
Then they were there.
“Limerent Death” started, the crowd surged forward, the rest of the show plays like a dream. Amid the acute claustrophobia; the flying bodies; the overwhelming stench of sweat and bad breath; the screams shorting out my ears; the elbows in face, my sides, and my neck; the terror of finding myself in the middle of a moshpit the size of Indiana with no idea how I ended up so far away from where I began; the giddiness of running into all my friends only to lose them again and again….
There are moments like the desperate chorus of “Symptom of Terminal Illness,” when I was sure I was going to die pinned between people twice my size. I remember “Hero of the Soviet Union,” when I took an elbow to the throat and had to mouth the words - “You smear your filth across the world!” - as I fought for air. I remember “Farewell Mona Lisa,” and people surfing over me in an endless stream of arms and legs. I remember Billy Rymer smashing the cymbals for about a minute straight before “Prancer” launched out of nowhere. It paused - and then that main riff hit like a missile. I remember the storm-calm of “Mouth of Ghosts,” Greg seated on an amp and belting those notes like Dean Martin in black denim. I remember the all-out war of “Sunshine the Werewolf,” watching Greg disappear behind Ben before he reappeared somewhere in midair and crashed down into the crowd. He disappeared again - I pushed someone out of my way - and there he was, resting on dozens of backs and arms. I grabbed the back of his head and together, we pushed him across the room and back. I remember the annihilating blow of “43% Burnt,” the way everyone in the room seemed to be swinging at something or going down.
Then they were gone.
On Friday, The Dillinger Escape Plan released the final installment of their over twenty year career, Dissociation. This LP truly serves as a reminder of who these guys are and why they are as important to avant-garde music as they have been, with pure technicality mixed in with some truly emotional moments. Since its release, Dissociation has been on constant play on my iPod. I love the LP and the band so much, I decided to go to their show the following day incredibly early, and by that, I mean some four and a half hours in advance. When the magic began… oh man, I am still feeling every bit of that show in my body. Of course, before Dillinger took the stage and unleashed their magic, there were three opening acts.
First up was the regional opener for the first number of dates on the tour, Bent Knee. These guys are really hard to describe, but their main genre is certainly some sort of art rock. There are tons of other genres thrown into the mix, including progressive and even jazz. Their music is really weird, and their performance was pretty kooky also. They didn’t do anything too insane live (especially for what was going to come in a few hours), but they were certainly having a good time on stage, so I was entertained pretty much through their entire set. They played a little longer than I expected, but towards the end, their set got crazier and crazier, so I really find no reason to complain at all. It’s really cool that Dillinger manages to score bands like Bent Knee on their bills, because while they aren’t exactly similar sound-wise, they certainly share the same ideas of what they want out of music, which I can completely appreciate.
Up next was Cult Leader, an incredibly heavy-duty metalcore band that came to be from the ashes of Gaza, who are by far one of my favorites in underground extreme music. I have seen the group before, so I knew what to expect, but was still able to love the hell out of their performance. They’re one of those bands that in a live setting is pretty much literally a wall of noise. You definitely need some earplugs to make sure you don’t go deaf. The vocals were pretty silent through the performance, which is apparently what they were going for, as vocalist Anthony Lucero asked the sound engineer to put down the vocals three times during the performance. This really didn’t take away too much from them, though, as their presence was nothing short of intense. They crushed through some 25 minutes before ending their set, and through the whole thing I found myself getting super into the performance.
Next up was O’brother. The easiest way to describe this band is a more atmospheric, more math-rock Thrice. While surely good, their set was certainly the one I enjoyed the least. This is mainly because the group was nowhere near as exciting as the previous two, as they were pretty still throughout the set. They had some pretty cool strobe lights going on, but overall I was more so just watching them and waiting for Dillinger to take the stage. I don’t want to take anything away from them musically though, as they are really good in that aspect. Honestly, they aren’t much of my thing, but I can appreciate what they do and dig some of it. If you like them, you should definitely see them live.
Next up, of course, was the band everyone in that room was waiting for. To summarize my feelings, I was seeing one of my absolute favorite bands for potentially the final time in my state. I was also seeing them without a barricade. Now, typically, Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom has one. However, for this show, I guess the band was able to get away without a barricade, which left me with a feeling somewhere between pure excitement and fear. This show could either be the greatest thing I ever lived through, or the worst. Nevertheless, the excitement got the best of me as the lights dimmed and the magic began.
They opened their set with the opener on Dissociation, “Limerent Death.” From the get-go, my friends and myself were thrust against the stage. However, it was nowhere near as bad as other shows I’ve been to. The group was doing everything they typically do live. Vocalist Greg Puciato jumped into the crowd. Guitarist Ben Weinman was jumping off cabinets. A fun time was surely ahead for the rest of the evening. After finishing “Limerent Death,” the group went directly into the intro to 2004’s Miss Machine, “Panasonic Youth,” a true staple of their set. This would lead into many other great tracks from the group’s pass discography, including “Black Bubblegum” and “Hero of the Soviet Union,” as well as brand new songs such as “Symptoms of Terminal Illness” and “Surrogate.” One of the more emotional moments of the night came when they played the second to last track off Dissociation, “Nothing to Forget,” which has surely some of the most depressing lyrics from the group. Despite these moments, the group was absolutely insane.
It is expected of Greg and Ben to be batshit crazy, but even their other guitarist, Kevin Antreassian, was getting really into it. Being on his side of the stage, he would come up to me a lot and allow me to touch his guitar and all that good shit. He would even jump into the crowd, which is a huge surprise considering that not even a year ago he was the one member who remained mostly stationary. I got to catch a guitar pick from him also, so fuck yeah. Before their encore, the group closed off with the intro to 2013’s One of Us is the Killer, “Prancer,” whics remains one of their most insane songs live. This part of the set ended with Greg going on the balcony of Webster Hall and jumping all the way down. Now, I know Greg is known for stuff like this typically, but keep in mind that the distance between Webster Hall’s balcony and floor is a lot bigger than most venues. Seeing him fall some 70 or so feet and getting caught was absolute eye-candy, and then their set ended… that is, until the encore.
They opened their encore with the outro track to 2007’s Ire Works, “Mouth of Ghosts.” This is a song I am certain they haven’t played since they toured for Ire Works, so hearing it live was a truly special gift. Nothing too insane happened during this song, but that was expected, considering the song is a slower one. However, nobody could prepare what would come next when they played “Sunshine the Werewolf.” Just a reminder: there was no barricade. So, during the break of the song, something like a hundred people, including myself and three of my friends, got on stage and just started partying with the band. This would continue through the finale of their set, the infamous “43% Burnt.” The show seriously went from one hundred to a million within a few moments, with people moshing and crowd-surfing over people on stage, and the members just jumping on top of everyone and having a blast. This is truly my favorite memory from a concert, period.
In brief...what is there really left to say? This was, without any question, the best fucking show I’ve ever been to. The Dillinger Escape Plan (with no barricade) can seriously not be topped in any circumstance. Every moment of this show was filled with pain, sometimes excruciating pain. However, no matter the pain, I truly had the time of my life screaming every song off with all my friends, and with that fucking climatic moment of the show, I could really not ask for more. If The Dillinger Escape Plan are playing your state and you do not see them, you are honestly fucking up immensely. I, for one, will also be seeing them on their final date on this tour at the Webster Theater in Connecticut. However, I will let my CT boys write a review for that one.
Long fucking live The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Photo: Matt Lyons
Full of Hell and the body “Collaborative Tour”
Gas Chamber Trenchgrinder
Earlier this year, modern powerviolence heroes Full of Hell released a collaborative piece with incredibly underrated drone metal act The Body, One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache. The LP runs about 31 minutes (not counting the two bonus tracks), and in those 31 minutes, both bands push out the heaviest and darkest material I’ve heard from either project to date. Both bands are known for their abrasive releases, so One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache is as angry and heavy as you would expect. It instantly became one of my favorite releases of the year and something I hoped I would be able to catch the bands perform live, together. As fate would have it, the band announced a collaborative tour, with support from Limbs Bin, Trenchgrinder, and Gas Chamber that came to New York City on September 9th, 2016.
The show opened up with noise artist Limbs Bin. The last time I “saw” this man, he opened up for New Jersey grindcore act Organ Dealer, and I missed the entire twenty-one song set because I was in the bathroom. Limbs Bin played that short of a set: twenty-one songs in five minutes. So when I walked into the show today, I made sure I didn’t have to go until the end of his set so I would actually get to see him perform. He started at about 8:57 p.m. and ended 9:03 p.m., so he played a minute longer than he did the last time I saw him. Despite his ridiculously short set, he was certainly one of the more interesting noise acts I have seen live. Living in New York and going to many shows like this, noise artists usually find their ways onto the bills and most of them are really not that interesting at all. However, I think the fact that this guy plays for such a brief period time, yelling his heart out over incredibly intense, harsh noise, makes him all the more enjoyable.
There was a long break after Limbs Bin, and when Trenchgrinder took the stage… it was quite disappointing. I don’t know if I was just more excited to see everyone else, but their set felt rather long, and they were certainly the least interesting out of the openers. These guys were a really average death metal band who really didn’t do anything remotely interesting the over thirty minutes they played. They weren’t offensively bad or anything, but it would have made no difference if they’d dropped off the show. Towards the end of their set, I was just waiting for them to get off stage so the show could continue. Not the worst band by any means, but just one that did absolutely nothing for me.
After Trenchgrinder was Gas Chamber. I have seen this band previously described as “progressive powerviolence,” which really intrigued me. Listening to them and seeing them live, I could not think of a better description. They play relentless, balls-to-the-wall powerviolence comparable to bands such as Dropdead or Man is the Bastard, but cut into these progressive rock breaks that recall bands like Rush or King Crimson. The thought of combining those two styles does not sound like it would work so well, but holy shit do these guys know how to combine them perfectly. They have two vocalists, one providing straight-up screaming vocals and the other a more hardcore-flavored style. The former also provides harsh noise for the band, which at moments gets really intense. Hell, when his microphone stopped working for a bit, I could still hear him screaming. Their guitarist also had a massive pedal board that was certainly not just for show, as he just went absolutely insane with it during their set. Their performance was nothing short of intense, and within the first minute of seeing these guys, you can see why The Body and Full of Hell brought these guys on tour. I made sure to snatch a shirt.
In between Gas Chamber and the headliners, I had to find some way to mentally prepare myself. The problem was, I really didn’t know how. One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache is loud enough as it is, but how was it going to be live? I seriously wondered whether my ears were going to blow out.
Then… it began.
I get really excited at shows. I’m the type of person who likes to yell lyrics into the microphone when it comes my way. I saw post-hardcore act Touche Amore the night before, but my mood at both shows were completely contradictory. I was constantly punching the PA speaker to let out some heat, but nothing could have prepared me for what was coming. Despite how brief the set was, in typical fashion for both Full of Hell and The Body, I was defeated by it. I felt like I was going through what those concert-goers in 1913 did when Igor Stravinsky performed “The Rite of Spring” because I felt so different from my typical self.
As soon as the title-track kicked off, I went absolutely insane. I felt like a completely different human being. I don’t think there has ever been a time I’ve felt so much anger and hatred just from hearing something so abrasive and chaotic. I’ve seen Full of Hell three times before, and The Body twice. Both acts live have always being nothing short of great, but together…it was something inhuman. The room was engulfed in the loudest wall of noise I’ve heard since I saw shoegaze act A Place to Bury Strangers in October 2014. On top of how loud it was, it was fucking heavy. The sludgiest parts of the LP shook the room. Seeing Full of Hell before, I know how intense of a performer vocalist Dylan Walker can be, and even on a completely packed stage, he was a fucking animal. There was one point in the set where they were doing some improv (at least that’s what it sounded like), and bassist Sam DiGristine decided to play some sax, and Full of Hell’s merch guy was just yelling.
As I finish up writing this, it’s been two hours since the show ended. My ears are still ringing. Do I have any regrets?
Hell. Fucking. No.
Baroness “Summer Tour”
Four years ago in July, Baroness released their double LP. Yellow and Green. That LP was almost single-handedly my soundtrack for the summer. I pretty much listened to it non-stop, and to this day, my favorite Baroness song is “March to the Sea.” At that time, I was a fifteen year old who just finished a pretty shitty sophomore year of high school who wanted nothing more than to see these guys. A month after, I thought my chances were cut off completely. On August 15th, four years back, Baroness was involved in a terrible bus accident that severely injured the band and kept their future on hold for quite a while. Despite making a full recovery, it would take me one day short of four years from that date to see them, and I almost didn’t go. It wasn’t that I hated the band or anything, it was just that I pretty much lost all my interest in seeing them, especially with so many other concerts happening during this summer. However, a friend really wanted to go, especially because doom rockers Pallbearer were on the bill, so I figured, why not? I drag my friends to so many shows, the least I can do is go to a show for a friend. Now that I went, I can say that I felt so stupid for even thinking about not going.
The night started at 8:00 sharp with Pallbearer. I was in the same venue, Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom, the last time I saw these guys, but I was also rather far away and with a very killjoy group. I was up against the barricade this time with a much more positive group of people. The band opened their set with “Worlds Apart,”the first song on their 2014 LP. They honestly could not have chosen a better opener. The song is very slow and builds through it’s 10 minutes, and with each moment, the crowd was feeling their slow, depressing vibe more and more. The band were surely feeling it as well, especially bassist Joseph Rowland who stood center-stage for the duration of their set just jamming out each song. Halfway through their set, Pallbearer told the crowd that they just finished recording their third full length, and proceeded to play a new, heavy banger that just filled the entire room. They would then play probably my favorite song off Foundations of Burden, “The Ghost I Used to Be. One of the friends I was with proceeded to cry her eyes out. It’s hard to blame her; the song was surely the most emotional song performed that night and was ten times more potent with the raw energy coming from the amplifier. The group closed with their debut LP’s opener, “Foreigner,” which truly summarized Pallbearer’s set. Emotional and heavy to the absolute fucking maximum.
So now this raises the question: could Baroness even top their opener? Pallbearer was really fucking solid, so it was hard to imagine how Baroness could follow up.
I did not expect Baroness to have such an energetic performance at all. From what I’ve seen, many sludge metal acts are tight performers but don’t really move around or anything, with the exception of The Ocean and Rosetta, who are two of my favorite live acts because of their heavy sound and incredible stage presence. Baroness, while maybe not as energetic as those two bands, still offers a ton to their performance. John Baizley is one of the most active frontmen I have seen playing an instrument, constantly trying to get the audience involved with the performance as much as possible. The band feeds off of the energy of the audience and vice versa. The band played Purple in it’s entirety alongside a few tracks off of Yellow and Green, including my beloved “March to the Sea,” Blue Record’s “The Gnashing” and Red Album’s “Isak.” Altogether, their set clocked in at an impressive 105 minutes. The band never slowed down or slacked off at all, pummeling through their set and completely acing the fuck out of it, with their lighting set to match each LP’s cover. The only complaint I truly have is that I didn’t get to hear their band-defining song, Blue Record’s “A Horse Called Golgotha,” live, but considering how amazing the rest of their set truly was, I guess I really shouldn’t complain.
This show reignited my love for Baroness, and I am so thankful for that. After coming home, I pretty much did nothing but listen to their records again. My fifteen year old self can finally rest peacefully knowing that I eventually caught Baroness live, and mark my words, I definitely will catch them whenever I can. Same goes for Pallbearer. August 14th, 2016 was truly a night for slow-burning heavy music that I will not forget anytime soon.
- Alex Brown
Yüth Forever “Forever and Ever” Tour
Barrier Darke Complex
The news of Yüth Forever taking an indefinite hiatus hits us pretty hard here at Metal Lifestyle, and it wasn’t a question that we’d be seeing this tour. At the time of the initial announcement, the closest date they were playing was Albany, New York, about a two hour drive. We were apprehensive about the the trip, but were all willing to make it. Luckily, the very next day, The Webster in Hartford announced the tour was coming through, putting it at a much easier twenty minute drive. It was also icing on the cake that Barrier and Darke Complex were on as support. Those three names are what we consider the “holy trinity” of this new metalcore scene, so expectations were high. Despite not knowing Bungler, I knew if they were touring alongside these bands, they had to be good. The addition of local acts Boundaries and Lowpoints promised a very solid lineup through and through.
Lowpoints kicked off the night with their downtempo style and beatdown vibes. They certainly had a set to throw down to. Trust me, I know. I took a fucking kick to the jaw literally out of nowhere, and this was only two songs in. I hung out in the back, not wanting to take another hit, and as the set went on, it became a little stale. The band certainly isn’t bad, it's just that the set was very much the like hearing the same song being played 5 or 6 times.
Boundaries kicked up after Lowpoints was finished and they certainly are one of the most recognizable beatdown bands in the local scene as they after this show were leaving for tour with Lowpoints. Watching from the back of the room their set was the most filled in up until Darke Complex took the stage a bit later, they played some unrecognizable maybe new material to start and dedicated their set to all of our long lost dead gorilla friend Harambe. Their track titled “Worm Den” is where the chaos really started to lift and stayed at that peak for the entire set. Dakota ended up going in the pit for the beginning half of their track “Sour Mouth” but that was it because he was afraid of all the 230+ pound men and didn’t want to be knocked on his ass, all in all they really got the crowd ready for the touring acts.
A friend I spoke to before Bungler’s set assured me they're like Every Time I Die, so I was immediately interested. As soon as they started, it became clear they are a powerhouse of a trio. With their vocalist using all the space of the room, and even sometimes the adjacent bar, it was the most lively performance of the night with him getting in just about everyone’s face, having a good time, and posing for pictures mid-set without missing a beat. But the band it's just a great live show. Their music is chaotic and blood-pumping.
Having seen Darke Complex a few years ago as Widow, I was so excited to see these guys again. The band had made it known that this tour was the last time they were playing Widow, and while we got those songs, we also got a taste of new music, and it sounds incredibly similar to new My Ticket Home. If you know us, then you know that's one of the biggest compliments we can give. These songs had such a strong and simple groove, raw vocals, and Darke Complex’s signature electronics. A nice addition to the set were the pre-recorded clips played between songs. They were mostly introductions, but the voice resembled Glados from the Portal games. It was different and cool. It’s also worth mentioning that after the show, we talked to the guys in the band and they said “Invertebrate” is in the new movie Nerve. It doesn’t look like a particularly good movie, but with this we all feel as if we need to see it.
Barrier took the stage next and their set was pretty much what I expected: mostly Eventide, with one or two songs from earlier works that I wasn’t familiar with. It was enjoyable, but nothing too special. Despite playing some bangers, the crowd stayed low key, probably resting for Yüth Forever, which is understandable. They played a tight five-song set that covered some of the better songs in their catalog, but unfortunately none of my personal favorites.
The moment we all had been waiting for was finally upon us. Yüth Forever stepped on stage and put a fucking cement block on the gas pedal. A furious start with “The Deep Six” awakened an angst in all of us, only to explode by the end with the huge bassy guitar work. The next 30 minutes were unrelenting chaos, which was only exaggerated being in front of the stage when there's two or three big dudes crowd killing. The set covered most fan favorites, from “Man of the Evening” to “Growing Pains.” A point of contention online was the very short setlist since it was posted by the band days before the tour began, but after speaking to guys before the set, we discovered they had someone filling in on drums and it all became understandable, albeit still fairly disappointing. After the set, I was no longer behind my keyboard saying, “Man, it sucks they’re not going to be playing such and such,” and was enamored with the set. More importantly, I was able to see one of my favorite bands ever for the last time (possibly).
If this tour has yet to come through your area, get ready to have an awesome time. If you missed this or it's not coming through your area, I’m truly sorry. If you’re in the position to make a rather long drive to catch this, do it. Am I biased? Yeah, Yüth Forever are one of the only constants in my ever changing favorites, but the other bands on the tour are still great and it’ll be hard to walk away having not enjoyed the show.
Prisms Review: Nails/Zao at Amityville Music Hall
While the biggest musical attraction in New England by far this weekend was the annual New England Metal & Hardcore Festival at The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts, the Amityville Music Hall in Long Island, New York was hosting a pair of back-to-back bruisers worth getting excited about on Friday night: powerviolence heroes Nails and metalcore veterans Zao. With support from NYC Headhunters, Barge, and Black Anvil, the Nails show easily constituted the heavier half of the night, but Zao, along with Jesus Piece and Old Wounds, put on a show every bit as entertaining that also doubled as a sneak-peek of Saturday’s NEMHF. All three acts were on the bill for Saturday.
Nails’s show was supposed to begin around 7:00 pm. We did everything we could to be there on time, but the three-hour drive and interstate traffic had us arriving at the venue almost an hour and a half later, by which time we’d missed...the very first opener, NYC Headhunters. I’m not sure what accounted for the delay, but we were pretty relieved to have missed so little. While Barge set up, we scoped out the music hall: a tiny, cozy venue split roughly down the middle between an open bar area and a stage/show floor. The merch tables were squashed way into the back of the bar area, across from the bathrooms, and the venue was packed almost to capacity.
Barge’s set was brief and heavy: primal grunts and shouts over churning beatdown riffs and simple drumming that got the floor moving. There was quite a bit of crowd participation, which was kind of surprising - the crowds tend to be lax in my area, but the reaction Barge elicited is the sort I usually associate with the last hour or so of a show. Partway through, they paused long enough for Barge’s vocalist to announce that they were “finally in Long Island, baby.” It seemed they’d been trying to play the area for some time and weren’t disappointed by the response.
Black Anvil were a bit of an anomaly on the setlist: more of a black metal band than their peers on either bill, they took the stage half an hour later in full corpse paint amid a surge of fog and blood-red lighting. They stuck to their instruments and engaged in very little between-song banter and spectacle, letting the music sell itself: exactly the sort of hypnotic, transportive black metal I enjoy most. There wasn’t much physical response from the crowd apart from some headbanging and horn-ups, but they were absolutely the center of attention while they played. I didn’t notice until close to the end of their set that they might have gone on a little longer than they were probably scheduled. Overall, I came away impressed.
Alex and I decided to step away from the floor after Black Anvil’s set out of a sense of self-preservation, which turned out to be a smart decision. A vast majority of the crowd had been biding its time to Nails, who are every bit as ferocious as they sound on record. They did all they could to stir up the floor, taunting the pit in appropriately incendiary fashion: “They tell me the east coast can’t slam-dance for shit!” before a Terrorizer cover was a particularly memorable line. A new song made it onto the setlist, too. If I’m not mistaken, it was the recently-released title track off of their upcoming full-length, You Will Never Be One of Us.
They ended their set on a very high note, and the crowd thinned afterwards, but not by as much as I expected. Most shifted over to the bar or stepped out for air while Jesus Piece prepared for their set, during which I wound up getting clocked in the eye. Although pretty different bands overall, what I said about Barge also applies to Jesus Piece: a simple, mosh-heavy opener that was able to reinvigorate the crowd for the rest of the show. It was approaching midnight by this time and they seemed to know it, because they got on and off without much fuss either way.
I wasn’t prepared for the verve and electricity Old Wounds brought despite having listened to them beforehand: they played as if they were headlining, taking command of the stage and even some of the pit. Their vocalist was on the floor as much as he was front and center, and he never quite seemed to stay in one place for long, feeding off of the crowd’s energy as he leapt and dove in and out of the stage lights. The highlight of their set was unquestionably “Rest In Piss,” which was prefaced with the most politically incorrect words of the night: “This next song is about a dream I had a few nights ago where I fucked Donald Trump in the ass in front of all his friends and family.” The closing breakdown raised absolute hell in the pit, and they left the stage hot for Zao.
And Zao delivered. Their discography-spanning set was the longest of the (long, long, long) night, packed with classics from every era as well as the pair of new tracks released a few months ago. Dan Weyandt’s vocals have always come across as almost too demonic for the band’s Christian bent, but I discovered firsthand how little the recordings actually capture of his tone and power. He didn’t let up for the hour or so they were on, and the rest of the band played with consummate professionalism: the same crushing, no-frills metalcore that has made them a respected and influential fixture in the subgenre’s ever-changing landscape, despite a revolving door of musicians and constant tweaks to their musical vision over the course of nearly twenty-three years in the business. Their closer, “A Last Time for Everything,” was particularly impressive since it ends with a steadily-decaying refrain of “The fear / the fear is what keeps us here / keeps us here,” giving the band plenty of space to ride the groove to its conclusion and Dan a final, protracted showcase for his industrial-strength pipes.
Although we missed out on NEHMF, I think it’s safe to say we got our money’s worth this year. The next time Nails or Zao tours near you, do whatever you have to do to attend - they don’t tour much, after all, but I can tell you now from experience that when they do, they make it worth the time and money.
Dakota’s Prism Review
‘68 and Idlehands
The Webster / Hartford CT
Local Support: Runamuk & Cyperna
’68 is one of those punk bands I always threw on in the background while I did work. They were nothing really special to me - that was, until last night. I was very on-edge about going to this show, seeing as it was on a Tuesday night and for bands that I didn’t ever really think much about. Alex and Brian both ended up convincing me to go and spend the night listening to quality music and to support our friends in Runamuk, who we ended up buying tickets from.
We got to the venue relatively early. It was completely dead except for the promoter and stage manager. Alex and I were the only ones there for a while. Brian wasn’t free until later that night, so he missed the first set. I grabbed my ticket and we waited around for a bit, realizing just how undeniably creepy and mysterious the Webster Underground is when it is completely dark and empty. We watched our friend Liam, Runamuk’s drummer, bang around on his kit a bit, but decided to get food to kill time until doors.
When we returned to the venue, it was closer to 5:45 pm. The doors were expected to open at 6:00, but once again, to our surprise, we were still the only people waiting outside. The show was beyond dead at this point, we thought, but it didn’t do much to affect our excitement to see ’68. The doors opened, we were let in, and during the lead-up to Runamuk’s set, we watched people slowly starting to flow in. When it came time for them to play, there were maybe 12-13 people in the venue, not counting security.
Runamuk made the $12 ticket worth it. They put on a stellar show and had such an amazing and unique sound that I did not expect despite having given their Bandcamp multiple listens. Once they got off stage we waited for Brian to show up and saw the next band, Cyperna, setting up. I had listened to one of their songs, “Destroyer of My Seed,” on their Bandcamp when I saw that they had been added to the bill and noticed that they were easily the “heaviest” band on the bill. I was excited.
They took the stage around 7:45-ish and killed it. The amount of energy they provided was incredible for a local band. Not to mention, they had free CDs and stickers at their merch table that we all grabbed - and, oh, they rip. I can’t decide what it was about Cyperna that stuck out to me, but their metalcore sound, their song titles (“Don’t Get Blood In My Crop Circle” and “Excuse Me, That’s Mine”), and sometimes their lyrics provided undeniable fun throughout their set.
Brian and I got a bite to eat from the concessions stand and I grabbed a drink as we waited for the first touring act, Idlehands, to start. Let me say that I was not expecting much from this band. I had listened to part of one of their songs on YouTube a few days before the show and didn’t feel it entirely, but their set changed my mind. I got a little bit closer to the stage for their set and watched these guys pile emotion and power into their set. Needless to say, don’t sleep on Idlehands, and don’t judge them from one song. For the“softest” set of the night, they set the bar pretty high. I would recommend seeing them whenever you get the chance if you dig the blues-rock aesthetic.
Last but not least, the almighty ’68 took to the stage around 9:15. They obviously had the biggest crowd but still nothing too impressive - understandable, seeing as it was on a Tuesday night. They played their staples and played the newly-released “You’ll Miss Us,” which scored a mic grab from the crowd. They put on the best show of the night by far with their stage presence and improvisation, and you can’t overlook the fact that they are a duo. If you for some reason missed ’68 on this tour or if it didn’t come to your state, they are going to be touring with Bring Me The Horizon in May, which is huge! You should make sure you don’t miss them again.
- Dakota G.
Prisms is where Brian, Alex, and Dakota give their unique, unfiltered perspectives on shows they attend together.