Surfing Constellations with Between The Buried And Me @ The Royale

Let me just say first and foremost: I HATE THE ROYALE. I mean, it’s got fine shows (Converge, Title Fight, some shows I didn’t go to so I won’t list them, etc.), and the staff seems nice enough. But by Jove, the dance floor kills me; it’s a monument to fucked architecture and careless nightclub floor planning. Normally I can stand behind a pit, no problem, but it’s quite another thing to have to step down and find a safer locale, or get knocked down, which I’m sure hasn’t happened yet, miraculously. Harshes my mellow big time, bro. This show was sold out too, so you know it was sweaty and all kinds of precarious. Proceed.

Speaking of things I can’t stand, I’m sorry; I just can’t get into Ottawa, Canada’s The Kindred.

Yoinked with respect to Chris Romano, because I’m a thief with honour.

Just look at this picture, and I’ll give you 5 seconds to tell me why you should already be suspicious.

Okay time’s up.

The frontman’s pose; look familiar? Like perhaps that of the frontman of the band THEY WERE OPENING FOR!?!?!?!

Oh.

Shit. Thanks, Chris Martin, for involuntarily helping me illustrate elegantly my point.

Now, I’d be able to overlook this fact if the singer didn’t also have a markedly similar handsome-prog-metal-guy haircut that Tommy Rogers has, and also be in a band that sounds shockingly, nay, appallingly like BtBaM, Protest The Hero, The Contortionist (sans black-hole chuggz). Their main saving grace is that they’re not djent, but I’m still unmoved by their lack of creativity as far as writing songs with a tendency toward intermittency. Also, that “Eyya eyya eyya ehhh!?!” chant during Heritage just kinda annoys me, dunno why. Though I do appreciate that the frontman is willing to jump into the crowd not once, but twice, to bookend the energy level. Charisma ain’t all it takes, though, boys.

On to the part of the show that I paid for; Intronaut. More like IntroNUTS, because I was bustin’ em.

Mind Inversion? Sho u rite.

Heavy as a ten ton rock, smooth as a carven ancient megalith of strange, lucid stone. Intronaut’s ability to capture smooth jazzy sensibilities and fuse them with chunky polyrhythmic battering is universally liked, and that’s a fact. Though if you do dislike Intronaut, please tell me, I’ll just ignore you.

I’m not really huge into Post-Metal but Intronaut is one of those bands alongside perhaps Jesu that I can find myself getting the urge to jam. In fact, I was briefly but fiercely obsessed with their single “Australopithecus” off Prehistoricisms, which is rather ancient now, I suppose, so fitting title. They were genius then, and it seems they still are, even if they’ve dialed back the heavy element considerably and seem to be focusing entirely on clean vocals and expanding their more Gordian Knot/Cynic tendencies. Needless to say, I dig it, and I’ll be giving Habitual Levitations a good hard listen til my ears are burnished into sensibility. Maybe then I’ll quit listening to Papa Roach, because that rots my brain so much I can sometimes scarcely type these worfs.

They had lazers and fog, too, which made me wish I was high as fuck, but maybe then I’d enjoy it too much. I was happy to hear they pulled out “The Literal Black Cloud”, complete with some newly added cleans, because they’re hepcats now.

Giving us a menthol blast of blackened major key warmth was our favourite band to either pretend we’re not hip to the hype of, or suck the dick of unconditionally, or just fold your arms and scoff at while you busily put spikes into your kvlt battle vest. Obviously, you fall into one of these three extremes in a world of no moderation. Deafheaven.

Brooklyn Vegan worships seitan.

If My Bloody Valentine listened to Heretoir, they’d become Deafheaven. If a group of bored indie/punk kids got ahold of some Burzum records, they’d become Deafheaven. If you take acid and stare into a glass of Sex On The Beach while wearing an Oakland Raiders shirt, you will see with stunning clarity the colour scheme of Sunbather. And if you have an internet connexion, you won’t go a day without seeing that name. I suppose they know that their brand of harmonious, uplifting, shoegaze inflected post-black metal isn’t for those who take black metal as seriously as Catholics do, and they’re fine with that. The massive, surging pit is a testament to how stoked everyone is on them, if anything. Though I must say, less arm flailing during blastbeat sections would probably make more sense next time.

It’s amazing; George Clarke actually talked this time. I didn’t know he was capable of being anything other than an überfancy black-shirted black-gloved maestro when in front of 50+ people staring at him. He’s a nice guy, though, trust me. It is blissful.

And now; Between The Buried And Me. Gee, I guess I already posted a picture earlier, huh? Well, I suppose you can scroll up and we’ll pretend I actually have a clue in this life.

I suppose his marks time number 9 or 10 that I’ve seen these guys, and I don’t forsee it ever getting old. Let me not ramble nonsensically and just wonder why there’s a gigantic space bird thematically representing this prog flagship for this tour? I ain’t sure, but all I know is that Dan Briggs went from the most plain looking member to a straight up superhero.

Actually, the whole damn band seems to have just… evolved. Not just musically, because that’s basically a given if you dig their Wishbone Ash meets Cynic meets The Red Chord or whatever wacky triptych of seemingly incompatible music styles means to you. But they’ve all just shifted from dudes to superdudes.

“Selkies: The Endless Obsession” being the highlight of the set, the only party foul was when someone threw a bottle of water (accidentally or not, I’m not sure) at poor ol’ Dustie during “Obfuscation”, which made him stop playing as he checked to see if he would be electrocuted or if the guitar would continue working normally. As you can guess, since this isn’t an R.I.P. Dustie post, he continued playing, albeit with a slight “the fuck was that?” face for a few minutes as he continued to rock into the night. Welcome to Boston; it sucks, sorta. Okay, a lot. But it was a great show, and that’s all that matters, because I’m sentimental like that.

Substance(s) consumed: Sadly only one PBR, courtesy of Mike Gavin, who exists on the internet and apparently, real life. Cheers to that guy, motherfucker!

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.

Take off your thinking caps, it’s time for Forest Of Remorse – Lashed To The Altar Of Fornication

Let’s get stupid up in this piece. Or not, because it’s hard to decide when dealing with Forest Of Remorse, a band that can only be described as “coming from New England”, with members from Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, though they convene in NH, so let’s just say Namshaw. So, Forest Of Remorse is a Death Metal band from Namshaw, and this is their EP, boasting 5 songs of sonic headfuckery that doesn’t know what to do with itself, but will punch you in the mouth and then saw you open. If you smell a track-by-track treatment, you’re correct.

Opening this pus-filled cadaver, one is immediately treated with “Atlas Resolve”, and immediately given a good idea of what to expect from the rest of the album. Starting out with some Technical Death Metal to rip your nose off, it then descends into a massive slamdown that’ll open up the pit, before a surprisingly melodic injection followed by a catchy jazzy djent section. It’s as if Devourment began jamming with Intronaut, pretty cray. In step with slam tradition, the song ends with a shovel beatdown of distorted, damn near sludgy crawls, backed by RJ’s sewer gutturals and Blake’s earthsplitting drums. It’s time for hyperbole, so put your thinking caps back on.

World Of Industry, oh man. What is that sound RJ makes after the circlepit section? It’s like the female vocalist from Despise You having an aneurysm. After that the music takes an odd turn, becoming a windmill-headbangable blast-beat and tremolo section, followed not by a slam, but a groovy pseudo-breakdown and a return to the semi-thrash. It continues in a fashion that sort of fizzles out, but it maintains some heaviness, though a megaslam would have really sealed the deal.

Every great EP needs a throwaway track, and the backwoods boiz in Forest do just that in Chicken Lover. It reminds me of Thou/EyeHateGod type sludge, but instead of screeched or even growled vocals, a symphony of clucks, yipping, and X-rated dirty Southerner howls for your chicken fucking pleasure. Makes me hungry to no end, I tell ya what.

Frail is an old track, re-animated from Forest Of Remorse’s salad days of being a doom/deathcore band, but given a little more vitality from RJ’s vokills. It’s certainly a crowd pleaser, much to Blake’s chagrin, who regards it as a prose unworthy fecal nightmare. Okay, that’s not true, but he’d prefer that it be a little more complex, or something. I’m not getting paid for this so I don’t care. It does end in a grindy freakout that would please Fused-era The Red Chord lovers, so that’s also an option.

Ritual Penetration just may be one of the best tracks on the EP for its sheer simplicity and heaviness, following the kooky opening that makes it truly stand out. So, next time you’re at a party and somehow forget the track’s name, you can just say it starts like “doo-dee-doo-doo-dee-doo-dee-doo-doo”, accounting for pitch, of course. But anyhow, this track is bottom-heavy to the max. Chris and Alex dispense with notions of technicality for the greater part of the track, and slam til they can’t slam any harder while RJ voids himself of his pancreas. If you tryna git ignant in the pit, this is your dream track. Despite the relentless chugs, RJ keeps it fresh by not allowing his vocals to become a single monotone slime monster purr, and Blake’s drumming is of course, rhythmically tight but not unremarkable.

Serotonin Hell brings back some of the technicality that was showcased more in the beginning of the EP, and has a catchiness that you can shake ya ass to, but watch yourself. It’s not the most interesting track, but you can tell the boys put some actual songwriting into this one, though that’s not to say the others are poorly written. The ending slam, I feel, could have been much heavier and de-tuned, but the melody on top of it was a nice touch and brought some balance, so perhaps it would have sounded silly otherwise.

And that there is my take on this EP that’s been bouncing around for a few months. It takes me forever to do a lot of things, even if I like them. Something’s very wrong. All I’ll say in closing is that this is a very promising start for the band, and despite some obvious recording quality limitations and some songs that could use improvement as far as structure, it’s a damn fine release that’s good for ages 8 and up.

The Verdict: More Popeye’s.

Grade: B+

ALBUM REVIEW: BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME

The Parallax II: Future Sequence (Metal Blade Records)

BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME are a Progressive Metal band from Raleigh, NC, and what I can confidently call my favourite band. These guys have shown, through both timelessly innovative songwriting that draws from an endless bank of influence (THE BEATLES, PINK FLOYD, CYNIC, CEPHALIC CARNAGE, COUNTING CROWS, QUEEN, and DREAM THEATER to name a few), as well as a commitment to pushing their skill further with every release, they can do no wrong. Aside from the unfortunate mess that was “Roboturner” and a few adorable but lackluster covers on The Anatomy Of, BTBAM have yet to disappoint. So here we stand, the second part of The Parallax series, which shows BTBAM taking on a yet unheard ambition, where Hypersleep Dialogues played more as a continuation of The Great Misdirect, another solid release and a worthy follow-up to the groundbreaking Colors. Parallax II, like Colors, is a single piece of music artfully divided into many, and by Jove, it’s shaping up to be their most epic release yet.

BTBAM is one of those bands that won’t simply rest on their laurels and release album after album of the same material phrased differently. From the breakdown-laden and aggressive self-titled album, the dark and moody Silent Circus, the boundary-breaking and experimental Alaska, the grand and semi-operatic quality of Colors, the decidedly elusive Great Misdirect, and the odd but always welcomed Hypersleep Dialogues, they’ve refused to stick with just one sound, flirting with everything from Death Metal, Grindcore, Bossa Nova, carnival music, show tunes, Deathcore, and of course, Prog, to weave a unique sound that is undeniably progressive. No subject is taboo, no art form too odd, they can make it work. I have suddenly become aware of the fact that I’m borderline hyping this album, but fuck it, it’s living up to it so far.

The Parallax II is yet another splash of vibrance that is the ever-evolving portrait of BTBAM’s sound, from the BEACH BOYS-esque surf of “Bloom”, the punishing semi-Hardcore stomp near the end of “Telos”, the subtle callbacks to “White Walls” seamlessly embedded in “Melting City”,  the world-uniting joyous melodies of “Astral Body”, and of course, the ability to balance all of these elements and more is something BTBAM has proven themselves time and time again to be unfairly adept at. Tommy Rogers’ command of both singing and harsh vocals, perfected on Alaska, and improving even more since, betrays no flaw, to say nothing of his increasingly wacky keyboard textures that provide a bonus for the careful listener. Paul Waggoner and Dustie’s dual-guitar assault with dizzying solos, choppy rhythms, and superb note progressions borrowed largely from Eastern music proves to be one of their most stellar performances since Colors. Blake Richardson is able to change his drumming at the drop of a hat, providing both your punishing Metal/Hardcore rhythms and blasts, complete with complex jazz-influenced sections that demand equal parts creativity and focus. Last but certainly not least, Dan Briggs brings his trusty orange fretless bass to complete the picture, with both smooth rhythm as well as his own unique dynamics proving that not all bassists are just kinda there.

if I gush, it’s only because it’s worth gushing over. BTBAM have outdone themselves with this one. As SUM 41 put it, it’s all killer, no filler. Not a note here is misspent or misplayed, not a single song out of place, no heaviness off-putting, no melody too soft. This album, along with SIGH’s insanely layered Insomniphobia, THE ACACIA STRAIN’s impossibly heavy Death Is The Only Mortal, CATTLE DECAPITATION’s misanthropic Deathgrind masterpiece Monolith Of Inhumanity, and THE CONTORTIONIST’s mindblowing Intrinsic, to name a few, is definitely making 2012 one of the best years for extreme music, as far as I can recall. But then again, I’m not usually the most current person, which calls into question the validity of my making such a statement, but new BTBAM just about tops all else, so go buy it and be amazed. I have seen BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME every time they’ve come through my area, and they’ve been Godly every time. If you’re not into them for any reason, hopefully this album will change your flawed mode of thinking.

Spacin’ out.

The Verdict: Worship at the altar of Prog

Grade: A+
By Sean “That Black Metal Dude” Genovese

Would You Believe Me If I Told You There Actually Wasn’t Any Legitimate Deathcore There? Summer Slaughter at the Worcester Palladium

The following is a joint review between Redneck From Hell  myself, That Metal Dude. A combination of colors not to be trifled with.

Red: This year’s Summer Slaughter had no real deathcore. Like, fucking really. Well, that’s not entirely true; the second stage consisting of only local bands had some deathcore, but locals don’t count anyway.

Black: Do they ever?

Red: This year we had female-fronted Scottish slam, drunken blackened thrash, greenery-influenced prog, a couple bad djent bands, and a whole bunch o’ death metal, including the godfathers of gore, the mighty Cannibal Corpse. I largely stuck to the main stage due to a lack of quality bands upstairs, though I was disappointed to miss Dysentery’s set, which coincided with The Contortionist. Fuck. I’m kind of finding it difficult to make jokes.

Black: I got one for ya; Autotheism. ZING.

Red: This is gonna be a boring-ass review.

Black: That’s the can-do attitude we’ve come to embrace.

Red: This show was so good, I feel like poking fun at it would be akin to sawing off a unicorn’s horn, using it to stab the mythical beast in the throat, and proceeding to sodomize it post-mortem. Wait, never mind.

Black: In short, Summer Slaughter this year was great, as usual. Some bands were a bit off their mark, including some that I enjoy, which is bound to happen, but if you walk into shows expecting perfection, you’d be better off buying and drinking Smirnoff like the worthless bladder you are.

Red: Cerebral Bore was up first, and this merry bunch of Scottish brutality-bringers opened up the show with a sick sort of glee.

Though they only were allowed 20 minutes to slam around the stage, they brought some serious energy to the venue.

Black: These Scotch sots may not be quite vital on record, but live, it’s something to see.

Red: Simone has some unfuckwith-able brutal vo-killz, and the “for a woman” thing doesn’t even apply. She can hold her own with the best of ‘em. Arch Angela ain’t got shit on Cerebral. Though the band’s songwriting can be a bit schizophrenically unmemorable, the material comes across incredibly well in a live setting, so much so that the actual songs they’re playing stop mattering–the real draw becomes the violence that’s created in this band’s destructive wake.

Black: As mentioned before, they know how to put on a damn show. They were the opening downstairs band, which is a tough spot especially for a band whose just starting to find a fanbase in recent times. If anything, the 20 minute appetizer serves more to entice, like a snake charmer, minus the snakes.

Red: Bonus points for not doing the whole “LOOK AT US WE HAVE A GIRL SINGER” thing. Even more bonus points for naming their band after a weapon from Turok 2. Even fucking MORE bonus points for the ultra elephant stomp at the end of their set. What a way to kick off a show.

Red’s Verdict: Eee Pee Oppa Pee, 8.5/10

My Verdict: Would repeat the experience, with more violence.

Red: Following Cerebral Bore’s 24 year party dungeon, I went upstairs in the hopes of catching the first few minutes of Dysentery, but alas, they weren’t on yet and I headed back down to see The Contortionist.

Funny how this shit works, because I had never seen the Contortionist before this year…and their Summer Slaughter appearance was the third time I witnessed their brand of green-friendly spaceprog since this April. This was my personal favorite of their three sets, even though they obviously had more time on their headlining tour. They got 25 minutes, playing two new songs (“Causality” and “Geocentric Confusion”) and two old songs (“Flourish” and “Oscillator”).

Black: If I had my way, I’d have them squeeze in “Contact”, with a hearty rude finger-gesture to the set-times. However, I’d personally never seen them play “Flourish” live, as far as I recall, so that was a tasty treat to take home that night. The new songs weren’t exactly mosh-fodder, but they show how The Contortionist have grown as songwriters, and have nowhere to go but up as far as quality material.

Red: I’ve already detailed Contortionist sets for BMD, so I’ll keep this short–the mix was better, they were tight as fuck, and “Geocentric Confusion” was fucking incredible live, particularly the second half.

Red’s Verdict: There’s No Way The Bassist Wasn’t Stoned, 9/10

My Verdict: For solutions, look to the pipe.

Black: Up next were proud Carcass-worshippers Exhumed, who clearly have a bone to pick with the deceased.

It’s almost criminal to stick a band of Exhumed’s tenure with a 20 minute set, which was just enough for 4 or 5 chainsaw-to-the-face style songs about messing around with unearthed corpses. The audience was mysteriously sparse, despite the band’s history as intense performers despite their frequently shifting line-up. I’m guessing some upstairs band probably offered everyone free water, candy, and sex, thus, that sounded more enticing than a disembowelment. Whatever the cause, a lot of people missed out. After their set I was given the honor to interview frontman Matt Harvey, so stay tuned for that, as it has yet to go live.

My Verdict: Not enough viscera for my liking. More akin to dissecting the long-dead than a fresh cadaver, but it was still fun.

Red: I only caught about three of Exhumed’s songs, so I’m not going to review that, though the three songs I saw were energetic and fun goregrind. Rather than stay for their set, I opted to head upstairs to catch Formless, a local tech-death act featuring internet “sensation” Annie Shred on guitar.

Though they were VERY shreddy (unsurprisingly), they seem to lack a distinct sound of their own, largely aping tech-death champs Spawn of Possession, The Faceless, and Necrophagist. The drummer was the weak link–he messed up noticeably a few times, which appeared to piss off the bassist. Gotta love onstage tension! The harsh vocalist was decent, but far too low in the mix, and Annie’s clean vocals were technically sound but didn’t seem to fit the music. They’re a band with lots of potential, clearly more than most local tech-death acts, but I would venture they’re overly confident in themselves, and fairly naïve in the songwriting department. That said, it was enjoyable watching the guitarists do their dual-shreddage thaaaaang. Give ‘em a few years, and they may emerge as a band to watch.

Verdict: I Mean, I Guess It Was Good For A Local Act, 7/10

Change of pace time arrived with Goatwhore on the main stage. I didn’t mosh for the Satanic drunks, simply because other than “Carving Out the Eyes of God” I’m not that knowledgeable with their tunes.

Black: Here’s a summary of all their songs; two-step riffs, but BLACK METAL.

Red: Looked like a fun pit, though. Oh yeah, just a side note–pits were mad fun all day long because there was a distinct lack of throw-downers. Why? Because there was GOOD FUCKING MUSIC present. Anyway, back to the topic at hand; Satanic drunks, Satanic drunks. Goatwhore’s brand of blackened thrash was fun enough that I’m now going to give their discography an extensive listen–them and Skeletonwitch seem to be the leaders of modern thrash these days, and I’m not complaining. They put on kick-ass live shows, and let’s face it–who in metal doesn’t have a little love for some serious bible-bashin’?

Verdict: Who Needs God When You Have Beer? 8/10

My Verdict: Very meh. But then again, if they don’t take themselves seriously, what with spikes glued on protective sporting gear, should I?

Red: Back to the land of death metal.

Black: Ah, so that explains the acrid odor of burning flesh.

Red: Arizona’s Job for a Cowboy once again put on a class-A show, with all the members giving energetic and inspired performances, playing a handful of their best songs.

The setlist included the false-start of “Entombment of a Machine” into “Embedded”, “Imperium Wolves”, “Unfurling a Darkened Gospel”, “Children of Deceit” and the live monster “Constitutional Masturbation”. I gotta say it, though–for once these guys got the audience they deserved–full of honest to goodness death metal fans rather than core-kids. It’s really pointless for Job to hitch onto a deathcore bill at this point in their career, since it will only piss off the audience when they don’t play Doom material. They haven’t been deathcore since the aforementioned debut EP. Regardless, they were impressive as always, and judging by the pit violence, I’d think it’s safe to say they even managed to convince a few lingering elitist skeptics of their quality. A vicious performance. A top-notch set from a top-notch band.

Verdict: I Guess Children of Deceit Sorta Has a Breakdown, 9/10

Red: I heard way too much of Veil of Maya’s set. Fuck that band.

“To drop that filthy bass, or not to drop.”

They have a few good songs, but goddamn. When you use a computer to program your kick drum so that you don’t actually have to play triplets, fuck yourself. When you can’t play your own songs, fuck yourself. When the above negatives apply to your band and you still call yourself “prog”, DOUBLE fuck yourself. When many of your popular songs are simply variations on the exact same riff you’ve been playing your entire career, fuck yourself. When I find myself wondering about when The Offspring is gonna get around to recording another decent album because you’re so goddamn boring, get the fuck off the stage and let someone with real talent step up.

Black: Even though I really do like Veil Of Maya, and have seen them a couple of times before this, and greatly enjoyed those sets, I’m inclined to agree with Redneck on this one. The sound: Horrid. The breakdowns: Muddy. The bass drops: Like someone dropped an enormous cotton ball over the speakers. Overall, very disappointing set. The songs they chose weren’t even their really good ones, and the main amusement was the sampling of the “browwrrr brrnt, browwrrr der nee nee ner nee nee ner ne” kid. Even the -core kid crowd seemed to be faltering with forced enthusiasm as they tried their damnedest to have fun, so I know it’s not just me that saw VoM struggling to stay on form.

Red’s Verdict: Ass. I got no joke. 2/10

My Verdict: Dishonourable. I choose death.

Red: Unfortunately, when Veil of Maya did get off the stage, they were replaced by an only slightly better band.

Periphery is actually pretty talented musically, but they have a few crippling problems.

Black: Preach brutha.

Red: For one, they fall into the common trap of focusing on technical skill more than songwriting–forgivable in some cases, but not here–I’ll get to why in a bit. Secondly, their vocalist is the biggest pile of steaming horseshit since that American Idol reject released his own record.

Black: Which one? Hohoho.

Red: Like, seriously, this guy just isn’t good at anything. He tries to do menacing harsh vocals, but they come across like a whiny toddler, his voice is so weak. He tries to do powerful (at times soaring) cleans, but they wind up sounding like a worse version of Linkin Park…which is pretty fucking hard.

Black: While I do enjoy Spence’s vocals,  I think pulling them off was the most impressive part of their set. That’s not saying much, as the song choices for the night were rather weak, in my eyes. Had they played “All New Materials”, the bouncy “Letter Experiment”, or even their ballad-esque “Jetpacks Was Yes!”, I would have gotten more enjoyment out of it.

Red: This is where the songwriting issue comes in. Notice how I mentioned that Cerebral Bore had a similar problem with songwriting. The difference is that Cerebral Bore deals more in sounds and feelings than shit that’s gonna stick in your head–they just want to crush your skull in. Periphery aims to write choruses and melodies that refuse to leave your steel trap, but they utterly fail. It’s almost like they’re trying to be something better than they are. I don’t know, but I’m bored writing about them. The lead guitarist should just find another band, basically.

Black: Maybe instead of shelling out cash for big fancy tour buses emblazoned with their faces and Jackson logos, they oughta work on setlists that make one excited to see Periphery, and not just an opportunity to say “I saw Periphery”.

Red’s Verdict: Ohhhh You Know I’m Whining, Baby 5.5/10

My Verdict: Let those emotions hang out, but not too far.

Red: Thankfully, the lame part of the day ended when Periphery finished their set. As soon as the last note of their weaksauce performance, I headed to the floor to get a good spot for The Faceless.

Having last seen them co-headline Summer Slaughter two years ago with Decapitated, I was expecting the world, given that they SLAYED that show.

Black: Up until this point, they’d been slaying more than the eponymous Vikings in Iron Maiden’s song Invaders.

Red: Well, they didn’t exactly give me the world, but it was a decently sexy set nonetheless. They leaned heavily on material from Planetary Duality–a damn near masterwork–playing “Coldly Calculated Design”, “Legion of the Serpent”, and “Xenochrist”, all of which are fantastic tracks. They ended their set on a strong note, with Akeldama’s “An Autopsy”. All this is well and good, and per usual they nailed this material.

Black: In hindsight, their tapping so readily into Planetary can almost be seen as an apology for what was to follow.

Red: The two songs they played from the upcoming Autotheism record left me slightly concerned though. One of the two they played, “The Eidolon Reality” has been out for quite some time, and it’s a fine track in its own right, and when we first heard it over a year ago, it seemed like the perfectly logical direction for The Faceless to go in following Planetary Duality. However, the other song they played, “Deconsecrate”, was…disconcerting, to say the very least. This track has no songwriting to speak of, basically moving between ultra heavy tech-death and SUPER airy clean sections for its entire duration. Flow is nonexistent. It kind of sounds like The Faceless really wants to be Opeth. The death metal sections are fine out of context; they’re your classic Faceless tech-death. Hell, there’s even a pseudo-slam thrown in there. The clean sections, on the other hand, are as fucking disturbing as A Clockwork Orange.

Black: The new album is having us on the floor with the old in-out. Real savage.

Red: Pre-programmed keys and soft drums play in the background while Michael Keene sings boring vocal lines. Michael Keene is an amazing guitarist, no doubt, but shit–he sang more than he played guitar on this song, and let’s be real here. Singing is not his strong suit. His cleans work fine on tracks like “Coldly Calculated Design” and “Sons of Belial”, but on “Deconsecrate” they are far too prevalent and display his weakness in that department. All that being said, this is a show review, not an album review.

Black: That shall come in a little bit, my droogies.

Red: “Deconsecrate” is only one song out of 6-song set…and everything else was of the quality we expect from The Faceless. Also notable is their new harsh vocalist, who performed extremely well–both technically and in terms of leading a crowd. Let’s hope that “Deconsecrate” is just a misstep, because this band is obviously capable of delivering the goods.

Black: The crowd mirrored the apprehensiveness of the band, in a way. There wasn’t quite the same amount of energy, despite the old songs being played down to the nail with their ferocity and (pardon the pun) coldly calculated precision. However, with the recent release of Autotheist and the spotlighting tomfoolery during “Deconsecrate’s” clean sections, it’s clear that Michael Keene has usurped frontman power from the new baldie. If his ego gets any fatter they’ll have the rest of the band play offstage.

Red’s Verdict: I Guess They Ditched the Legion of the Serpent In Favor of the Emotional Metal Guild, 8/10

My Verdict: They’re headin’ down a dark road.

Red: Between the Buried and Me played a set that was essentially perfect, unsurprisingly. Would anyone expect any different from them at this point?

You’ll just keep waiting for them to fuck up.

Really, the only things you can find to bitch about are song choices, and that’s all a matter of opinion anyway. I definitely sprouted half a chub when they came onstage and instantly busted out “White Walls”, their fourteen-plus minute closing epic from 2007’s Colors, a song usually saved for the end of the set. I heard some complaints about there being more material from Colors than The Great Misdirect in their set, but I really didn’t care–I didn’t really need to see “Obfuscation” or “Disease, Injury, Madness” again (though it would have been nice), and “Fossil Genera” was a fucking awesome way to end the set. They played a new song called “Telos” from the upcoming Parallax II record, and it came across well enough to make my half-chub go into full-on woody mode–even if it was obvious that it has some sort of lead in track that was absent from the set. Really, I don’t know how you can complain about Between the Buried and Me’s live show at this point. Even if you’re not a fan of their music, there is no denying that they are at the absolute top of their game, musically and artistically–and they’ve been there for a while, too. Even with legions of imitators, no one can accurately capture what the legendary BTBAM is all about. There’s nothing else to say really, except the band really should apologize to everyone else for being to damn good to compete with.

Black: Ah, sheer radiance, as usual. Unlike the other 6 times I’ve seen BtBaM, I sat in the balcony and watched from above. It’s kind of surreal, watching them do their work while sitting still instead of running around like I’ve accidentally had a hit too much of acid. They had a nice little light-show set up, which I probably would have missed had I decided to punch people during the heavy parts. The set-list relied entirely on long songs, all of them being at least 10 minutes. Having an hour to complete their set, they played “Sun Of Nothing” and  “Spectral Reflections” in addition to those that Redneck mentioned. In all, I need not say more, since BtBaM’s hands down one of my faves, and it’s always a treat seeing them.

Red’s Verdict: All The Vaginas Left After BTBAM’s Set, Dude, 9.5/10

My Verdict: Prismatic bursts of luminous harmony? Sounds nice.

Red: And then there was Cannibal Corpse.

If you think you like death metal, but don’t like Cannibal Corpse, then you’re just lying to yourself. Everything about their live show is fucking brutal bliss.

Black: With nary half a brain to spare between most of the participants in said brutal bliss, one can easily be swept up in the fervor and forget that CC is proud of being the walking Death Metal cliché.

Red: Admittedly, the band has set into a routine with their live shows somewhat, with certain classic tracks being a set necessity and all, but come on. This is a band who has lived through every single change and alteration in the scene, never even coming close to following a trend or doing anything other than playing death metal the way it should be played. With fucking vengeance. They aren’t playing music to you, they’re playing music at you.

Black: Honestly, I felt that way for the first third of their set. I’m not sure if it was just me or if the knob twiddler at the soundboard had some settings up a bit too high. And pardon me if I’m wrong, but “Make Them Suffer” was supposed to be a bit faster than the speed they played it at. Granted, their drummer Paul is recovering from back injuries, so the fact that he’s powering through it at all gets major props.

Red: I moshed fairly viciously to Cerebral Bore, Job for a Cowboy, and The Faceless, but man–Cannibal is the only band that made me go completely insane and smash shit with no acknowledgement of safety for either myself or those around me. My previous 16-year old self may have jumped in the pit for just about any death metal band that played, but I’ll admit that four years forward I’ve slowed down a bit. Cannibal Corpse is one of maybe three bands that can bring me back to that totally insane rage-filled place where no fucks, only beatings are given. This is a band made up of guys as old as my father, so maybe that’s why when Corpsegrinder says he will kill you if you don’t mosh, you fucking believe him. They played the obvious singles from the new Torture record, “Demented Aggression” and “Scourge of Iron”, the latter of which may have been the heaviest song of the entire day in terms of sheer mass.

Black: Ever had a bag of cannonballs put on your chest? That’s what it felt like.

Red: They played both modern favorites (“Make Them Suffer”, “Evisceration Plague”) and golden oldies (“Covered with Sores”, “Born in a Casket”), and they careened wildly through every single one of them. They dedicated “Priests of Sodom” to the women, with Corpsegrinder proudly announcing that if the females failed to scream loud enough, he would find every single one of them, drag them into an alley, and bum-rape ‘em. All in good fun.

Black: Just say yes to fisting.

Red: When the band got to the end of their set and it was time for the ending two-parter of “Hammer Smashed Face” and “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled” there was an air of vicious nostalgia permeating The Palladium. This was the last chance to create chaos, violence and confusion. To bring the bloodshed. The band sure did, and so did we. It was absolutely fucking triumphant to see this classic band absolutely nail a set after 20+ years and more albums than most death metal bands release in an entire career. There is no other band like Cannibal Corpse in metal. Bands come and go, try and fail. If you see them and do not obey every order given, they will kill you.

Black: I’ll be the first to admit I had a lot of fun at the expense of the hare-brained mosh antics perpetrated by the greater collective of Deth Mehtuhl guys in the pits, but there’s no denying that CC touched on some magick formula that, if changed, would be grounds for immediate firing from the music scene at large. Like AC/DC, Motörhead, and Iron Maiden before them, they’ve found a sound and songwriting style that works with an audience of enthusiastic drunken idiots to play it to, and the rest is history. To say nothing of the impossible heaviness they’ve maintained over the years, and being surprised that I’m just now seeing the ‘Corpse in action, I enjoyed every blood spattered minute, if not mainly because the folks that take it to the heart have some of the best mosh faces this side of the Berlin wall.

Verdict: Too Perfect To Be Real. 10/10

My Verdict: They’re ugly, simple, and stupid, just like much of the audience. Ideal conditions for their disease to spread.

By Redneck from Hell and That Black Metal Dude. Your grandmother was a whore.

Redneck From Hell Presents: The Contortionist At Rocko’s in Manchestaw, Namshawfudamshaw

The following occured on May 23rd, but time is relative when intoxication and sleep are your hobbies.

Gee, isn’t it oodles of fun when your gang of metal ruffians goes to a predominantly hardcore show and gets jumped by asshole skinheads for simply attending? Despite this happening, and one of my buddies actually getting his head split open as a result of said asshole skinheads, The Contortionist rocked it. Due to the circumstances surrounding the show, I’m only reviewing a few of the local bands, since much of my night was devoted to dealing with some real mofuckas. Also, the bands I’m skipping are all generic djent-core and sound exactly the same, so whatever.

Don’t worry too much about the missing bands, as they mostly sucked anyway.

As Tyrants Fall is one of two local openers I will be reviewing. This band was the eye of the storm: a bright, shining, not completely-horrible band in an ocean of two-stepping and arm-flailing. The band plays technical death metal on the verge of being technical deathcore. I didn’t hear anything that I remembered afterwards, but in the moment the guitar lines and vocals were fun. The problem is that following the eye comes more storm. The bass was inaudible, and the drummer was honestly really out of sync with the rest of the band. It may have been an off day for him, as he’s very tight on the band’s demo, but I can’t praise him here since he was just so off his game at the show. Truth be told, most of the audience didn’t react to the band since they were more metal than hardcore, and there were only really one or two parts per song for the sillies to hop around and pretend to throw bowling balls. Alright, I guess.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

This band is like if you mashed together Necrophagist, Emmure, and GG Allin: Technical guitars, lots of breakdowns, and sloppy as fuck. 5.5/10

Pathogenic wins most improved award from me. This band just keeps on getting better and better every time I see them. They canned the clean singer, which is HUGE. I hope with heavy corn syrup. -Ed. That guy murdered every song he popped up on, he had no stage presence, and running the risk of being mean, kinda looked like a Godzilla-sized crying baby every time he opened his mouth to pop out a few notes. Even better, the material seems to have been altered, and old songs flow better than ever, while the new songs have a distinct Death-gone-djent feel, which is frankly, pretty cool. They have a commanding presence onstage, and their technical prowess would probably make your mother squirt. I can’t believe this is the same band I saw at Black Xmas 2 years ago. Just unbelievable.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

If Pathogenic continues in the direction they’re headed, they will achieve something big. 8/10

The first band on the touring bill was Your Memorial, and while the music they played wasn’t my style (technical/melodic/djenty hardcore), they were entertaining in their own right. I’m sensing a theme here. -Ed.  The guitars had some interesting parts amidst TONS of beatdowns, and the drums were fun, if not spectacular. The singer actually surprised me by being solid as fuck. Let’s face it: good vocalists are as easy to find in the modern hardcore scene as a diamond in my shit after a week-long Popeye’s binge. Note to self: Eat more Popeye’s, invest in a sifter. -Ed. This guy, for whatever reason though, pulled off a style that was halfway in-between hardcore and death metal that was more hateful and vitriolic than 90% of vocalists in the scene. However, here is where I go into full-on rage mode. It is becoming seriously tiring to see bands get up on stage and give big ups to their deity of choice. I do not give a fuck. It’s getting ridiculous how many of these bands stop their set to go on a preachy rant about how awesome religion is. To all bands that do this: Good for you, you like God. You know why your music sucks? Because you think your worship lyrics are more important than the music they’re set to. I have never found a religious band that doesn’t suffer from this. They stop acting as musicians, and instead begin to play pastor. After they finish their fucking sermon, the fans all cheer and hug or some shit, claiming “those dudes are so brave; it’s so hard to say that if you play heavy music.” No, it’s not. It’s not fucking brave, it’s not fucking cool; if you think that, then stick your penis in a toaster oven. Kirk Windstein is religious, and he doesn’t pull that kinda shit. Crowbar puts music first. And they’re awesome. Your Memorial doesn’t, and as a result they are a generic and faceless metalcore band with some potential. Start thinking as a musician, not a preacher, and you might get somewhere.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

As much as I hate what this band stands for (putting religion before music), they played alright, and DID have potential. They are technically competent. They can’t write a song to save their lives. The vocalist is good. The bassist is inaudible. I like and hate this band in about equal amounts, so I should give them a 5, but that feels a little low, so we’ll call it a 6 on the fucking silly 1-to-10 scale. There you have it. 6/10

The Plot In You was fairly tight. Honestly, if I was blind, besides the fucking stupid, whiny, off-key, emo singing bits, you could have told me Your Memorial was still on and I probably would have believed you. This is boring, generic metalcore. And if it’s called something else now, I’m still going to call it metalcore because that’s what it sounds like: a singer who is halfway between metal and hardcore, guitars that alternate between hardcore breakdowns and two-step riffs, and metal At the Gates-style rip-offs. Drums are technical and tight, but generally boring. I really enjoyed nothing about this band. As mentioned before: Basically sounds like Your Memorial with one or two distinguishing factors (stupid singing bits and a weak shout). Also pregnancy. -Ed.  You could say they get bonus points for not stopping the set to talk about God, but I’m not gonna reward them for NOT doing something. Also, fuck the stupid hatemoshing fans that were targeting metalheads (these fucks actually targeted a dude on fucking crutches. Disgusting.). This band sucks.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

I kind of hate this band. Actually, I totally do. 3/10

Now, up to this point, it may seem like the show was a waste of time and money, given that the one band that scored higher than a 6 had just played at Metalfest, a show that I was at. Actually, The Contortionist did too, but they got timefucked. 20 minutes for a prog metal band? Come on. The Contortionist really do something special and unique to themselves, though. If power had went out after the first song, it would have been worth the 14 dollar price of admission. I’m an occasional reader of Decibel magazine (the only major metal publication worth a damn), and during a review for The Breathing Process’ last album (I don’t remember the actual reviewer, but if I did he would get a shout out for being way better than I fucking am) they said something very wise, that I completely agree with as both a musician and a listener. I can’t recall the exact wording because I’m a useless drunk, but it was along the lines of “There comes a time in every band’s career where they evolve from playing a genre of music to playing music.” The Contortionist has only one full length album, and they have done that. Their song choices were fairly obvious, but frankly it didn’t matter. This band PLAYS. They know what the fuck they’re doing, and they command a fucking stage. The new material sounds amazing, by the way, even though it completely stumped fans of The Plot In You, who stood around looking puzzled. Almost all the other bands onstage sorta just sleepwalked through their sets. The Contortionist actually looked confident as fuck and proud. And why not? The songs they play are expertly crafted with the utmost care–you know they put effort into this shit, whereas, The Plot In You, for instance, just kinda throws notes together. This is getting long-winded though, so I’m going to wrap up: This band deserves to be on a bill with bands they actually fit with (let’s say The Faceless, Cynic, Animals as Leaders, Between the Buried and Me–something like that). They deserve to play to people that care about the music as much as them. This band is going somewhere big, and if they don’t, it’s the result of people being idiots. No fault of their own. Amazing.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

Come on. Fucking DUH. 9.5/10

Oh yeah, sorry for not being silly enough in the Contortionist portion of this review. I guess I’m a douchebag. Go fuck yourself. Already there. -Ed.

–Redneck from Hell