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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Punk As Fuck

This weekend was wack. On Friday, there was the kick-ass Metal show at Warehouse 21 (see previous post for details). Then there was a Punk Rock baby shower on Sunday (Congrats, Sophie and Jay!). And in between, there was this untitled epic concert on Saturday.  
It was a bizarre, mysterious show from the get-go. First of all, the concert didn't have a title. Then the venue was some creepy studio in the middle of a freaking industrial zone, and the owner of said studio is still of unknown identity. On top of all that Hills-Have-Eyes-esque atmosphere, I had never heard of the band Disasterman and I didn't know what to expect. Nothing is worse than paying five dollars for a show only to be disappointed, let alone in the backdrop of a damn Z-grade horror movie.

The crimson glow on the cinder-blocks was a constant reminder that I was quite literally in the red-light district. Thankfully, each of the bands rocked to high heaven, and somehow or another I survived, despite being drunk as a skunk and mind-altered in ways that, for legal reasons, shall remain undisclosed. What I will forevermore refer to as "The Truck And Tree Incident" played a major role in my mindset before the show even started, so let's break down the night into manage-able chunks, starting with Obelisk.

Ah, yes, Obelisk. I love these dudes to death, yet I still have difficulty explaining their sound. Their self-described "Party Sludge" is close enough. The Metal style is caustic, dance-able, energetic and brooding. The instruments are a little doom-y with a cool groove, and the vocals are intense as can be. I'm still not doing them justice, but I assure you that they put on one hell of a live show. They were the perfect band to kick-start the night.

The Elected Officials take righteous indignation, set it to the melody of playground ditties, and amplify it to high heaven. They embody hardcore, Punk-as-fuck, “Oi Oi Oi” music with a message. They hit the stage like a Molotov cocktail hits a skyscraper, conquering the venue with their wicked charisma. Rebels with a cause have never sounded so good.

Next up was Disasterman. I can't tell you enough how suspicious I am of duos. Prior experience has taught me that such ensembles are risky. However, my expectations (or lack thereof) were defied. To say I was "pleasantly suprised" is a drastic understatement. "Blown away" is a little more accurate. Rarely have I seen two dudes play with enough talent and energy to hold their own against full-size bands.

Headlining was Torn Between Worlds. These local legends are a taste of dirty, thrashy Death Metal at it's finest. Every show of theirs results in lethal mosh-pits. I'm sure at least one of my  head-injuries owes its existence to these guys. Their music is superb, but the mosh-pits are even better. The night ended with a bang, an immaculate conclusion to a concert such as this.

And on top of all that, there was booze, soda, and frito pies. Have you ever drunkenly devoured New Mexico food at a Metal show? Trust me, if you do, it will the best night of your life. This show was one for the books, no doubt. Five stars outta five.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Yet Another Concert, Yet Another Review

Friday, 1/27/12. Warehouse 21 hosted another Metal show. Rock concerts at W21, though frequent, are anything but routine. Here are the shenanigans that transpired last night:

First up was The Eden Betrayal, a Christian Metal group. Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, I myself am Catholic. I'm not a very good one, but I'm a Catholic all the same. As such, it was nice to see like-minded devotees defy stereotypes and rock out with the best of them. The breakdowns and occasional clean vocals were a testament to a contemporary incarnation of Metalcore. The Eden Betrayal was an excellent band to start the show on the right track.

Next on the set was Of All Forms. This group is good ol', unrefined Metal. In a local scene that prides itself on gimmicks, these musicians are a refreshing hiatus of one unadulterated genre, with very little theatrics. I'm not dissing genre-fusion, nor am I dissing theatrics. I love those things, but sometimes I don't want to be overstimulated. I just want to have the time of my life.

Hailing from Albuqurque, Vale Of Miscreation is high octane, energetic Death Metal. They are simultaneously harmonic and freakishly fast, with deep lyrics laden with social commentary. On top of all of this, VOM also featured thrashy bass riffs and a fussilade of machine-gun drumming. Their musical style is reminiscent of Death Metal titans such as Arch Enemy and Venom.

Headlining was Obelisk, one of the most popular Metal outfits in Santa Fe. Their compositions are reminiscent of old school Stoner Metal, but with heaviness to rival the likes of other contemporary musicians. The guitar riffs feature the kind of hooks that get stuck in your head, and the vocals are immaculate. As such, the night ended on a pretty good note. Four stars outta five.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Unholy Trinity: The Last Of Lucy

This is the final installation of Unholy Trinity, or the three most badass Technical Metal artsits. Hailing from Orange County, CA, the only appropriate choice to conclude this series, is the intricate psychosis known as The Last Of Lucy.

The Last Of Lucy is painstaking chaos. The mathematical insanity sounds something like a short-curcuiting robot overlord, or the soundtrack of dividing by zero. The vocals are screams and growls, a very raw and organic contrast to the otherwise technical style. The result is something like Rings Of Saturn clashing with Dillinger Escape Plan, then adding a modern Sludgecore twist. The audiovisual overdrive that characterizes TLOL is a catalyst for synesthesia, or the phenomenon of sensory overlap. If you're having a hard time imagining such a sensation, think of the last time you had a bad trip. Now imagine you could replay that awful moment backwards to hear satanic messages. That's TLOL.

In addition to their vivid, intense musical style, the band also boasts some of the coolest Metal artwork I've seen. Euphoric Obsession, their only full length CD, has a kick-ass design featuring sinister 'shrooms and the kind of freaky monster that appears when you eat one too many. Their merchandise is lurid and colorful, but not as cartoonish as, say, The Devil Wears Prada. The subtle hints of reality in their stylistic design make everything that much more surreal, and that much more disturbing. It's like blending MC Escher, non-Euclidean geometry, and an acid flash-back. Instead of method to their madness, there is a madness in their method. Love it to death, four stars outta five.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Unholy Trinity: Fields of Elysium

This is the second installation of a 3-part review, putting the spotlight on my favorite Technical Death Metal musicians. Today's post will feature the badassery that is Fields Of Elysium.

Metal, presumed dead since the  90's, has found its afterlife in Fields of Elysium. The atmosphere created by this Santa Fe based band is astronomical, as evidenced by such song titles as Decomposing Celestial Mass and Zeta Reticuli. Although they seem out of this world, the band brings everything down to earth with Sentient Worm and the all-too-human tragedy in Ramblings of Madmen. The dichotomy of celestial spectacle with earthbound profanity is reflective of the paradox which defines the band. Painstaking technical riffs portray emotional overdrive, madness turns into art, and even the sanctity of metal is tainted with jazz. However, this genre-fusion is not a mere gimmick. It a sincere innovation, saturated with the artistic intent to push musical limits.

This dedication eventually culminated into the collaboration with Dead World Syndicate,  and thus they produced their first studio album, Unraveling Arcane Dynamics. Since the 2009 release of this album, the band has prioritized the stage over the studio. Fields has used this time to their advantage, honing their already superb musical abilities. New tracks, including an instrumental piece, are to be released in the near future.

Meanwhile, Feilds is armed to the teeth with intense time signature changes, polyphonic sound walls, and compositional complexity to rival the best in the industry. While these elements are admired by other composers and musicians, the untrained ear may only hear insanity. But as the lyricists themselves so eloquently stated, " Listen to the ramblings of madmen, for they speak words of wisdom."

...Need I say it? Five stars outta five.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Unholy Trinity: Viraemia

This is a 3-part series in which I will review the best Technical Death Metal bands I've ever seen. In a genre as complicated and intense as this, it takes a certain X-factor to stand out against the crowd. The following bands have that type of talent, so let's start off by giving mad props to Viraemia.

Viraemia has fallen into a common rut, as many of their songs are indistinguishable. However, the trained ear or die-hard fan can differentiate each song, and since each composition is superb, it doesn't matter too much if they sound similar. The music consists mainly of intricate sweeping, relentlessly fast and brutal. The vocal style is guttural with low, deep growls. The lyrics are the crown jewel of the band, as they revolve around a medical theme. The gimmick of fucked up diseases and professional terminology lends a sense of realism to an otherwise over-the-top ensemble. In fact, the realistic themes make the whole experience that much scarier. The overwhelming intensity of Viraemia certainly isn't for everyone. I myself prefer to put their self-titled CD for a spin when I want to kill someone I hate, but I don't want to deal with a lawsuit. The alternative (or soundtrack) to homocide never sounded so good. Four stars outta five.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Monster Bash

Once more, I must apologize for my hiatus from writing, though in my defense, this particular digression was fueled by neither drugs nor laziness. Instead, I got my ass kicked in a mosh pit, and have been in recovery ever since. I'm mostly intact, sans a few teeth and higher brain functions, but otherwise alive and well. Let's take a flashback to that infamous night, the legendary Monster Bash of Warehouse 21.

The Advocates were mass-appealing funky rock in the vein of Rage Against The Machine. They played with enough charisma and talent to make most local rock bands envious, a feat even more impressive when you consider this was their first live show. On the other hand, being unknown, they didn't have a large audience, yet those who were present will probably become loyal fans.

    Next on the bill were local legends Grinkai, infamous Death Metallers who boast both brutality and musicianship. Although their music is of an abrasive, barn-burning variety, the distorted riffs hint toward some kind of catchy melody. The band has gained notoriety in the local scene for their unique brand of marketable psychosis. There's no one else like them, for better or for worse.And as usual, I loved every second of it.

    HN-88 claims to be kid-friendly, but they're really Blink 182 in disguise. Yet it is a thin veil, and I have come to expect innuendos, graphic violence, and other teenage shenanigans I know and love from 90's Pop-Punk. So they're not kid-friendly so much as a magnet for rebellious teenage girls, or burnt out Metalheads filling the void with guilty pleasures (such as myself).  It was like Vans Warped Tour all over again.

     Finally, Savage Wizdom took the stage. If you don't know who they are, either read more of my shit, move to Santa Fe, or download all their songs. It's worth it, trust me. It was during this last set that the pits got even more rowdy. I'm not entirely sure what happened, but I'm pretty sure people got knocked out cold and had to be rescued by their friends. On my end of the deal, I got a bloody nose, a few bruises, and though I can technically eat solid stuff, it hurts like hell. Guess I'll just have to consume liquids... *glug glug glug*

So, ultimately, there was Funk, Death Metal, Pop-Punk, and traditional Heavy Metal all in one night, not to mention hot chicks, booze, and grievous injuries. Hell yeah, can't wait 'til next year! Four stars outta five!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Metal

Sorry for the half-assed nature of my most recent post. I went on a Fear and Loathing-esque binge on everything and I've been in the recovery process ever since. That being said, don't get your hopes to high (heh) for this latest edition of my ramblings. In fact, on Friday December 30, I had the brilliant idea of treating a hangover with an energy drink infused with nitrous oxide. All these chemicals decided to turn against me at the least opportune time, as I had discovered too late that there was a Metal show scheduled that night. However, I was too enamored with the beauty of traffic lights to give a shit, and ran like hell to the venue. The wicked line-up featured Torn Between Worlds, Cassovita, and This Days Light. Each of these bands have been around forever, yet had undergone several line-up changes throughout the years. They're kind of like the local Deep Purples. At any rate, the show was truer than truth itself, and it went a little something like this:

Torn Between Worlds is a dirty, thrashy death Metal experience. Their music is accompanied by audio clips for intros, and they have amazing technical abilities. The vocals have brutality to rival the likes of Randy Blythe, and the guitars, while heavily distorted, are tempered by subtle hints of melody. Music of this caliber constantly inspires near-fatal mosh pits. Not for the faint of heart.

Cassovita,  Formerly comprised of five members, has streamlined down to a duo. Among the lost members were the vocalist. As a Metal fan and promoter, I am weary of instrumental arrangements, and even more weary of duos. However, their musical talent will always be exquisite, with or without vocal accompaniment. Still, having heard the band prior to their conversion to instrumental, I longed for the screams I knew and loved.

This Days Light are the very definition of heavy metal troopers. Instead of disbanding when their phenomenal vocalist had to move out of town, they stuck to their guns and borrowed lead singers when necessary. Although I doubt anyone can truly replace Roboit, the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the band is admirable. No matter who sings for them, they always put on one hell of a show.

It was a great night. I don't even regret the beast of headache I subsequently suffered. (Note of advice: Hangovers + Headbanging = Pain, but it's always worth it). Five stars outta five!