ARCHSPIRE, AUROCH, GROSS MISCONDUCT & EXCRUCIATING PAIN – 4th Annual Brutalfest Saturday May 12th @ The Astoria

First I must apologize for writing this review over a month later. Many things have come up, and as a result, our projects have been put on hold.

The 4th annual Brutalfest was held at the Astoria, which is located in the Vancouver downtown eastside. The outside of the venue can be sketchy at times due to people asking for money and other services and favors, but once inside, Continue reading

Obscura / Abysmal Dawn / Last Chance To Reason / Auroch @ The Rickshaw, November 16, 2011

This mid-week show ignited with our local Auroch. Their complementing dual guitars consisted of both guitarists taking on rhythm and lead roles at different times. I admired the smooth sweeping, but it was hard to hear some of the guitar solos. It was easy to hear the drums though. Seeing Auroch play with a bassist this time made for a fuller sound than the times I saw them without a bassist. Oddly enough, sometimes the guitar riffs got buried in the mix. Sebastian’s upper range guttural vocals sounded like they could have originated from a demonic bird. His low growls also conveyed energy.  There was noticeable feedback in Auroch’s second song. I also heard GSM interference from a cell phone. Should we turn our cell phones off at shows?

Last Chance to Reason was up next, and I somehow detected deathcore in their sound, probably due to their use of breakdowns. Bob’s clean vocals sounded as though they would be more suited to pop rock than to metal. Their lack of grit and their soft style caused them to feel out of place while the rest of the band was playing heavy riffs. There were some moments of guttural vocals though, and the guitars were quite audible for the most part. After a couple of songs in, one of the guitars suddenly had no audio. As the guitarist tried fixing his sound, the rest of the band went into some jam that lasted about 30 seconds or so. It sounded like they were playing some sort of funk rock. I think the drums sounded triggered. I could see a machine, but that may have been for the synthesizer. Overall, the electronic sound in the music was too much for my taste. I prefer a less computerized sound. And I have a feeling that the band may have been using samples and/or backing tracks because I could not see a keyboardist…then again, I may not have been tall enough to see one.!

The third band, Abysmal Dawn, consisted of death metal with deep guttural vocals and a drummer I found rhythmically interesting. The playing did not sound triggered to me. Their guitars played good rhythmic riffs, and the bass line’s notes were audible. The guitar solos had good variety as they did not always play super fast all the time. Sometimes they would hold out long notes with vibrato, and sometimes melodic lines were present in the lead guitar.

Finally, Obscura set the stage, and their songs displayed a both fast and slow tempos. Unfortunately, sometimes the vocals were hard to hear. And even though their music has a progressive and technical approach, Obscura’s melodic lead guitar as well as catchy riffs and motifs were still present. One notable song this evening was “Incarnated,” one of my favorites off their Cosmogenesis album. I could really hear the prog/death influence from Death in Obscura’s music. I recall hearing them make a joke about the new Morbid Angel album. Obscura’s drummer was good at incorporating complex rhythms, lending very well to the band’s progressive vibe.

Impiety / Tyrants Blood / Mitochondrion / Auroch @ The Red Room – Thursday, November 3, 2011

VanMetal members Jason Mills and Linda Lockwood waited outside of the Red Roomuntil just past 9:45 PM for their friend Anna to buy Linda’s ticket, so we ended upmissing Auroch’s set and could not hear much of it from outside the venue. Auroch willbe opening for Obscura on Wednesday, November 16 at the Rickshaw, so we will try tocatch them then.

We saw Mitochondrion’s entire set as they performed their blackened death songs.  Some of these featured slow tempos but not slow enough to qualify as doom. Therewas a bit of a technical problem with what appeared to be the drum machine, and as a result, one of the songs took three tries before it finally started. Despite that, we feel that Mitochondrion was professional and patient during this challenge. Some of the songs seemed to be stretched out for some reason; in addition, it was hard for us to distinguish one song from another, especially during the last few songs in the set.

We also saw Tyrants Blood’s set in its entirety. One of the strongest of the Vancouver metal bands, Tyrants Blood played a thrashing set complete with ripping solos and riffs as well as powerful vocal and stage presence. Clearly we weren’t the only ones who were amazed by them; we were headbanging with many other Tyrants Blood fans that night! We still don’t know how Brian Langley manages to juggle three or more different bands with his already tight schedule, but his energy is abundant in each of his performances. Bassist Vinnie Borden not only handled the bottom end but also added emphasis with his backing vocals, sometimes even taking on full verses.

Finally Singapore’s blackened death/thrash outfit Impiety arrived on stage with a short soundcheck teaser that included an excerpt from one of their songs, which caused the audience to think the set already started. The band walked off the stage for a few minutes, and then finally at around 12:45 AM, they walked back on stage and started their set for real this time. Please note that in the itinerary, Impiety was due to start at 12:15 AM. We were only able to stay for about four songs before having to leave in order to catch the second to last SkyTrain that departed Waterfront at about 1:11 AM.  This was disappointing as we were just getting into Impiety’s set, which our friends told us ended at 2:00 AM. Bassist and frontman Shyaithan delivered a black and thrash vocal style. We got a taste of their dual guitars’ slick lead and riffing; we wish we could have stayed longer to get more of it.

How do you Vancouver metalheads who use transit feel about attending shows that go on past the last train-–should the SkyTrain run later, or should the shows end earlier?


Titans Eve, Auroch, Unleash the Archers, Sacred Ally



Titans Eve / Auroch / Unleash The Archers / Sacred Ally @ Funky Winkerbeans.

1. Sacred Ally
I caught only about 2/3 of this set.  But I observed some thrashing melodic riffs and leads happening.  This band is from Calgary unlike the rest of the bands who played this evening.  I definitely want to check these out again.

2.  Unleash the Archers
This band really managed to get the crowd to go along with them–I saw the audience fist pounding and chanting along with the choruses.  And Britney really has an amazingly strong heavy metal voice.  Her vocal range is quite big too, from A below middle C to the high A that is one ledger line above the treble clef.  Guitar work was well harmonized between the two guitars.  Accurate tapping too.  Drummer really knows how to keep the groove infused by a variety of beats and fills, often alternating between half and normal tempo.  One trait of this band that I do not dig so much (and it’s just my opinion, really) is their use of breakdowns.  Don’t get me wrong–they actually do their breakdowns very well and keep them melodic.  I just don’t particularly enjoy -core elements.  But other than that, this band is solid.  I think their new album’s songs sound better live than in the studio–the studio is too clean and over-produced IMO…the vocals actually sound better without so much overdub of harmonies.

3.  Auroch
Lots of interesting unique stuff happening in these guys’ sound.  A vocalist who can pull off both guttural and strong clean vocals is a rare find these days; the only other band in town I could think of that has this is Aeterna (vocalist Ruddy is fully capable of soaring cleans and aggressive gutturals).  I would say the cleans of Auroch’s vocalist Cuillen were a traditional heavy metal style, though I cannot think of any comparisons to other vocalists at the moment.  I could hear some interesting dual parts in the two guitars; however, the direction was a little challenging to follow without the solid foundation of a bass guitar.  It might have even been enough to add keys, something that has bass in it…nonetheless, I was still able to enjoy the riffage from this band.  Both guitarists do mainly fast leads, and they do them well.  I would like to hear some slower leads with more melody, but then again, that may not be Auroch’s style.  Would be interesting to see what this band does on their upcoming works.

4.  Titans Eve
Here we have a thrashin’ establishment of VanMetal.  Anyone who is very familiar with the Vancouver local metal knows who Titans Eve are.  Catchy headbanging riffs and rhythmic vocals that get stuck in your head are parts of what make this band unique.  Their drummer Casey also needs no coverup–he actually plays what you hear…in other words, even though it’s fast, it’s all him, not some digital trigger.