The The The The The. Between the Buried and Me at the Palladium

How does one classify Four Loko? It’s certainly not beer; it tastes far too good for that. It’s not vodka; it’s got the telltale fizz and lack of gasoline aftertaste. It’s certainly not whiskey because it doesn’t taste like hellfire. I’ll just say that it’s the blood of Dionysus and leave it at that. Boy, is it good. Especially if you haven’t eaten, then it just goes straight to your damn face.

So in the entirely wrong mindset I went to see Between The Buried And Me. In a familiar moment of brilliance I realised that every band on this tour has the word ‘the’ in their name. Wow. The definite article is king. Some grammarian make a punny joke about that. I digress.

There was no question about my attendance with this one right here. I had the funds, I had the time, and I still have a huge space in my heart for these North Carolinian wizards whose music is like off-Broadway musicals meet Opeth meet Pink Floyd meet Cave In meet João Gilberto meets Dream Theater if they were good meets Botch meets Freddy Murcury. It’s a clusterbomb/fuck of influences that all somehow manages to make writing 20 minute songs excusable in my mind.

But for the openers, because a good review is chronological, should the universe allow me to experience it in such a fashion, and it normally does. The Safety Fire from London (like you didn’t assume they were already, because I sure did and I was right) were an okay primer for what was to come. They play a relatively inoffensive kind of prog metal meets metalcore and some poppy-esque sensibilities. This we call ‘djent’, usually, but some people would rather me not. If I see a duck, I’ll have to call it a hang-glider, which I suppose is technically correct if you feel like a duck while hang-gliding. Don’t be obnoxious to wildlife.

They’ll drink to that.

After that little musical handy wrapped up, The Contortionist, now officially rollin’ [blunts] with Mike Lessard of fellow progressive and high-minded –in both ways– Last Chance To Reason, stuck entirely to their mindblowing new album, Intrinsic, which just about raised the bar on everything they’ve done on Exoplanet, which was marvellous in its own right. It’s like if elevator music were heavy, but in the best way one could possibly mean it. Simultaneously light, airy, and melodic, yet crushing at a moment’s whim, without the gaps and awkwardness that could come from a lesser band trying to transition from asteroids colliding to doing heroin on an armchair. Hearing “Cortical” live was just too good of a treat, and I hope that while they bring back the oldies on future tours, they keep dazzling my ears with their introspective steaze.

The Faceless have dropped into odd territories with their latest album, Deconsecrate, and have essentially become the fat fedora atheists (FFA’s) that one oft encounters vomiting pseudo-intellectual babble onto a forum somewhere, and making themselves hard to agree with even if you share their general viewpoint. I’m all for hailing science, but I wouldn’t write a song or make a shirt about it.

Come on.

But despite this, I’ll always still hold a soft spot for The Faceless on the basis that their first two releases were just sooooo good. And “The Eidolon Reality” was a pretty killer track before it was fucked with until the chorus was so unrecognisably cut up by the dull blades of an overzealous audio technician that it is now the audio equivalent of Joan Rivers’ face. And in that statement I believe I am somehow implying that there was ever any good to be found in JR’s mug to begin with. Other than that, I just found myself patiently appreciating the actually heavy parts of the new songs and revelling in nostalgia during “Coldly Calculated Design” and “Xenochrist”, but still sad to see a band I once obsessed over become just an auxiliary band that will play second hurdy-gurdy to something I’m actually stoked on.

And how could one not be stoked on Between The Buried And Me, who are probably one of the three metal bands out of North Carolina that aren’t sludge or doom?

Busting out the entirety of Parallax 2: Future Sequence? Why yes, I’ll come down and peep that right quick.

There’s no such thing as a ceiling when it comes to BtBaM’s sound. It will always continue getting weirder, and the concepts progressively more spacey. They are spacemen. At least I say they are. It’s a marvel that they do this without prolonged exposure to LSD and/or shrooms or just really potent weed.

Regardless of nonexistent narcotics, they’ve still got grandiose compositions swirling around in their collective head, with enough artistry as warrants growing a scraggly beard and maintaining a mellow aura despite the music being a mad mix of progressive death metal, hardcore, and cosmic soft rock textures that would send any lesser man cackling into a garret. Scoff with thinly veiled derision if thou may, but taking this whole (awesome) new album to the face in a live setting has just reminded me how much I love these guys. From the metallized surf of “Bloom”, to the powerbombing breakdowns of “Telos”, the epic headbang territory of closer “Silent Flight Parliament”, etc. etc. I’m going to not nerd out, here. It was a good show (great show, even), and we’ll leave it at that.

And Fizzle.

Run, Weeaboo Faggit, Cry. Dir en grey at the Paradise Rock Club

So that’s three of my favorite bands I’ve seen thus far: Dir en grey, BtBaM, and In Flames. We’re rolling along well, kids. All I need to knock out now are Linkin Park and Slipknot, and my life is complete.

But then again, I shouldn't be making this desire public.

So Dir en grey have been around for quite a while, making quite the (un)pleasant racket in their homeland of Jay-Pan before finally getting a little recognition worldwide with VULGAR, an album as screwy and J-Rock as it was Westernized angst in the form of Nu-Metal. Fortunately for them and the homophobic wizards they could’ve potentially lost as a fanbase, they stopped dressing like such

and have opted for a more conservative palette of black.

With less bawdy attire followed less bawdy music. don’t get me wrong, I’m hugely in love with all their material, even when they were one of the many novelty J-Rock/randomly Alt. Metal acts scratching for the surface, since they happened to be the best. Nowadays, they certainly aren’t fuckin’ around, and their last couple of albums will have you know that with a quickness, with Uroboros and Dum Spiro Spero taking them in a direction more Mr. Bungle/Opethean.

So this has been my second time at the Paradise(third technically, since Amon Amarth sold out and I hadn’t bought a ticket beforehand), and once again, was not expecting violence. Though considerably less than Volbeat earlier in the year, it seems a few Diru fans that weren’t in mallgoth/weeaboo attire are fuckin’ pissed and want to punch things. I don’t blame ’em, really, as Dir en grey’s direction has been shifting more towards Death Metal/Deathcore, with Kyo gaining deeper growls, Shinya busting out a few blastbeats, and the guitars being noticably downtuned and playing more rhythms akin to breakdowns and Doomy trudges. It’s gotten heavier than yo mama, and it’s gotten meaner.

It should be noted that there were a few people, some that I knew, some I didn’t, that were certainly under psychedelic influence, which may not be the best idea for your sanity when watching Dir en grey’s frontman Kyo contort and caterwaul eerily for two minutes. It may or may not have helped that once familiar songs Tsumi To Batsu and Obscure have been redefined and warped inside-out to become something entirely unrecognizable, making them more unsettling than they already were, and that was already at a good level of unsettling. Much like the revamp of Hydra from Macabre to -Hydra 666- on the Dozing Green single, it’s an inversion of what you thought Dir en grey were before.

While Diru are still far from a legitimate metal band(one look at their crowd would tell you that), they’re certainly interested in continuing on this new dark direction. Kyo’s gaze seems to sweep like a beam of fire, commanding the audience to see how fucked and insane he is, promising that he’ll drag you down, and that one day, he will fuck your parents. Even not-so-heavy crowd favorites Kasumi and Kodou felt different in the charged atmosphere Diru created with their newer material, including the juggernaut Reiketsu Nareba from Uroboros that seems to be like a schizo running with scissors amped up on coke. Of course, they had to play The Agitated Screams Of Maggots, which has some of the best/worst Engrish ever penned by this quirky quintet, including gems like “It’s black flag motherfucker!” and “I rape your daughter on your grave!”. Not sure if the former is an odd shout-out to Henry Rollins and co. being an inspiration to the band, but stay classy as always boyos.

When the ending kicks in, cover your face and run away.

So that was about how it happened, in the most chronological fashion I could manage, having no care for the chronology. I’m just glad I got to see Diru, and I’m kinda sad that they didn’t play more from Withered To Death, but oh well. Arigatou gozaimasu, and a merry fuck you.