126) Archspire Interview

Interview with Archspire in November 2011, their last local show before they embarked on the Decimation of Europe tour. We apologize for the poor lighting in this video; we tried to correct it using both brightness and gamma correction, but due to some video conversion issues, it ended up pixelated after the final export, so we left the natural dark lightning. Thanks for your understanding.

 

GHOUL/EVERYTIME I DIE/GWAR @ The Commodore Ballroom –Monday,November 7,2011 By Jason MIlls

I arrived on time with Kayla Mclean just before 8pm easily  making it before the first band could start.  Making it out to the front of the stage we could see that GHOUL’S drum kit was on stage ready  to go as well as their guitars balanced  against the amps and front stage speakers.

After a  fairly short  pre-show sound  check of GHOUL’S instruments,they  were ready to go,the four-piece oakland california thrash metal act features members from exhumed,impaled,wolves in the throne room and asunder among others. Having a short intro speech delivered by  their  hooded mascot,the  band came out and began a relentless  assault on the ears as they  performed with solid,catchy riffs and a great stage show which included a voodoo doctor with a fake chicken which then proceeded to  bite its  head off producing blood coloured water,which he also splashed onto the crowd and  had some for  himself aswell,i  got the fortune of  being sprayed in the face considering i was standing in front of him,as well a large robot came out which reminded me of a Rob Zombie act who  bopped  the band members on the head  causing them to pretend to fall while they  continued  playing solidly as well as giving their robot companion the finger  who even gave  on e of the commodore’s security men a bop on the head,which he played along with as well.  All in all Ghoul’s set was  very  well done  my only wish was that  perhaps the bass had been alittle higher.

Next up was  Buffalo,New Yorks metalcore/mathcore/punk band EVERY TIME I DIE,not to be confused with the COB song.  Now to be quite honest i really don’t like metalcore’s loud screamo vocals and to some extent the look these bands frequently use,i don’t mind the instruments usage in metalcore dare i say emo  bands  but the vocals ruin it for me personally.  I must ask though what are your thoughts on metalcore? What parts of the music do u like/dislike?  Please write back and let us know how u feel.

However that being said they did perform well without a hitch and vocalist keth Buckley as well as guitarists  jordan buckley and andy williams as well as filling in bass player stephen miccihe [who had been in the band prior to 2005] played and performed well and got the crowd really into their set,some had according to what i overheard come equally excited to see them.

Finally 26 year veterans of satirical thrash metal titans GWAR took to the stage at approximately 9:30pm. First off though i must give them well due respect and condolences to the band since guitarist cory smoot who played character Flattus Maximus since 2002,passed away,circumstances currently unknown,just prior to the bands crossing into canada at the manitoba border.  Our thoughts are with the band as well as coreys wife and family.  Throughout GWAR’S set,cory’s custom Flattus Maximus scheter guitar remained on stage in his memory.As well  vocalist Dave Brockie aka Oderus Urungus did say some words in rememberance of cory and dedicated the song metal metal land to him.Though it was odd and sad not seeing Flattus on stage with the rest,GWAR  did perform a great and highly entertaining set that only they could do,playing newer songs from lust in space and bloody pit of horror as well as other great songs like damnation under god,sick of you and others. Snooky,of jersey shore fame was the victim of the night as well. Overall GWAR did not dissapoint and as expected had the hordes of fans leaving dyed red and commodore staff quite a mess to clean up.  The set finished promptly at 11:30pm.

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?

Napalm Death / Golers / Zuckuss / Gross Misconduct @ The Rickshaw – Thursday, October 27, 2011

How fucking lucky I was to get half the day off from work to be able to attend this! And recently, I read in the Vancouver Sun that the Rickshaw has had improvements made to it, and that one of these was a better sound system. I immediately noticed the white sound panels in both the upper left and right corners above the stage.

We opened with Gross Misconduct. Crazy drummer John Kurucz assaulted the kit with complex rhythmic beats and fills. David London, frontman, belted out a mixture of thrash and death metal vocals. Check out his other band Sinned for a more brutal death/grind vocal approach. Jesse Brint, as usual, shredded on his Jackson axe, demonstrating his agility on the fretboard by playing melodically based lead work complete with tapping, artificial harmonics, and blistering runs. Gross Misconduct has a strong focus on song development, in particular with their use of fast blast beat tempos alternating with slow half-time sections, even clean guitars, as well as their strong sense of guitar harmonies. At times, I had trouble hearing David’s guitar leads; they were buried in the mix. I look forward to Gross Misconduct’s second CD release show on November 11 at the media Club.

Next we had Zuckuss, local death/grindcore act. Boss Jass drummed ridiculously fast, and no it was NOT triggered, at least I don’t think. Someone who is a drummer please clarify with me, or maybe I will ask Jass himself! Their bassist played some fast moving bass lines too. More lead guitar would have been appreciated, but that is not usually something that is necessary for grind anyway. I had trouble hearing the main vocals at times. I think the setup might have been having sound problems again.

The third band was Golers, local blend of thrash/punk/hardcore; this is a band that could fit in easily at either a punk show or a metal show. Charlie is able to pull off the high punk/hardcore vocals just as well as his lower thrash/death vocals. I like how the other band members occasionally did backup vocals, adding further emphasis. We interviewed Golers back in April, and they mentioned that they really enjoy crossover/thrash and “inbreeding” different types of metal.

Headliners Napalm Death took the stage, and man was I stoked to see them for my first time! There was a really bad audio glitch though–the bass frequencies were WAY too loud, in both the drums and the bass. This made it difficult to hear the guitars, and even the bass line was too boomy to hear its notes. None of the other bands on the bill had this much of a problem with their bass. Napalm Death’s bass was so loud and boomy that I actually had to move back, even though I normally prefer to be as close to the stage as possible. Barney’s vocals were sometimes hard to hear too. Despite the sound problems, Napalm Death still put on a decent show and played a mixture of old and new songs, and they even played stuff off their first two albums. I really hope they come back to Vancouver soon, hopefully with better sound.

Decapitated / Decrepit Birth / Fleshgod Apocalypse / Rings of Saturn @ The Rickshaw – Saturday, October 15, 2011

We started out with technical deathcore act Rings of Saturn. I seem to recall bassist Jeff Hughell playing a seven-string bass. Interesting to see that, though I still can’t figure out why a five-string bass is not sufficient enough for metal. There were some death metal parts to their set that I liked. But as a general rule, I usually don’t dig deathcore. They had some breakdown moments mixed with some death metal ones.

Next up was Fleshgod Apocalypse from Italy. They were all dressed in tuxedos. They had a classically influenced keyboardist, Francesco Ferrini, who contributed to their symphonic sound. Their guitarists, Cristiano and Tommaso, were virtuosic in their leads and filled them with sweeping, arpeggios, and melodic lines. Some of the backup clean falsetto vocals sounded a little too strained, but it was still uniquely interesting to hear clean singing over technical death metal riffs. Drummer Francesco Paoli played strategically placed fills over a triggered sounding death metal blast.

Decrepit Birth was the perfect opener for Decapitated. Both are technical death metal and have catchy riffs. They both have complex guitar leads, and their bassists play noticeably audible lines. Decrepit Birth played riffs that sounded like they were influenced by the band Death. And something about the sound of Decrepit Birth’s guitar riff harmonies was progressive. It was funny to see vocalist Bill Robinson share something delicious with the audience! ;) One problem with both Decrepit Birth and Fleshgod Apocalype’s sets was the lead guitars sometimes got drowned out. This is a problem that happens at the Rickshaw sometimes.

Decapitated played a mixture from their current album Carnival is Forever and also included some of their old classics such as “Spheres of Madness.” Seeing them live reminded me of how much I respect Vogg as a superb guitarist, just as I do with Dimebag. What I really dig about both of these guys is their dual duty lead and rhythm role as the only guitarist. Both these guys really have a good handle on the whammy, and they also play rhythmically complex riffs and ripping leads. As the only man on the guitar in their bands, they are capable of enriching the band both melodically and rhythmically. Vogg united some excellent skilled musicians to continue the task of Decapitated, even after the tragedy he faced with brother and past drummer Vitek in 2007. The new lineup played both the old and new songs with fast throbbing energy.

Opeth / Katatonia @ the Commodore – Thursday, October 13, 2011

Opeth

First let me tell you that my workplace would not allow me to use my vacation hours to attend this show because we were (and still are) short-staffed at the time. And who the hell would want to cover my night shift anyway? No one. So I ended up seeing only the last part of Opeth‘s set. I arrived at about 10:20 PM or so. And I was worried that the show was over, but the security told me that it is still going. When I got into the venue, it seemed very quiet…I didn’t even know that there was a show going. But sure enough, there was Opeth playing a really soft number. I was fine with that; after all, they are a progressive death metal band, or at least I thought so anyway. As long as the band complements their proggy sound with their epic death metal, I am cool with it. Opeth did not play any death metal stuff though. And I read that in their new album, Heritage, Mikael forgoes his gutturals and opts for clean singing only. I also read online that Opeth has departed from their death metal roots and are going more progressive rock.

I know that I should understand, and that it is up to the band to choose whatever direction they take, but I could not help but feel that Opeth no longer plays metal. There were so many non-metal fans that outnumbered the metalheads at that show. For nearly $50, I could have attended 5 local metal band shows in Vancouver. Oh well, at least I was still able to appreciate the musicianship at the show, and Martin Axenrot is still a very technical drummer. But where is the metal, Opeth?

Enslaved / Alcest / Junius @ the Rickshaw, Monday, October 10, 2011

I ended up missing Junius because I arrived late at the Rickshaw. Keep in mind that this evening was also Thanksgiving Monday; my friends and I ended up eating some Thanksgiving dinner prior to the show. I think it was more thanks to metal and great friends than anything else. So we were quite stoked to go to the show this evening, but we ended up finishing our dinner kind of late.

We walked into the Rickshaw at just after 8:30 PM, so we saw only part of Alcest‘s set. They played mainly slow tempo rock, similar to that of Katatonia’s recent works. I have heard this genre referred to as “depressive rock” or “shoegaze.” Neige sang mainly clean vocals with harmonies from other members of the band, but he still did some black metal styled guttural vocals. And surprisingly, I did hear a blast beat in one of the songs. I checked out some of Alcest’s music on my own just recently. They have some ambient works as well as some songs that sound like “happy black metal” to me. By that, I mean that the vocals and drums and riff patterns are black metal sounding, but instead of being in a minor key with fully distorted guitars, they are done in a major key with a lot of clean guitars with effects and some distorted guitar. One slight criticism I have about “shoegaze” music is that it gets very repetitive and not very dynamic; sometimes I feel like it could put me to sleep.

When Enslaved took the stage with their intro music playing in the background, there was so much bass in the mix that I was almost afraid that my heart would jump out. Despite that, I was still able to hear all the instruments for the most part. They played a good assortment of both old and new songs. Drummer Cato Bekkevold is very skilled, and I noticed his complex rhythmic cymbal work. The vocals were well-done; bassist and frontman Grutle Kjellson sang the main vocals while keyboardist Herbrand Larsen sang clean vocals, and one of the guitarists sang backup vocals too (not sure if it was Ivar or Arve, but one of them did it). Subtle vocal harmonies were present too. Enslaved is good at blending different sub-genres of metal, such as black metal, death metal, melodeath, thrash, progressive, and they even have some blues influences. One of the guitarists (I believe it was Ivar Bjørnson) had a lead sound that was reminiscent of David Gilmour. I like how Enslaved introduced themselves in a humorous way; Grutle introduced the rest of the band, and when Herbrand introduced Grutle, Cato played a bossa beat; I thought that was kind of funny.

So yeah, thanks Enslaved for playing on Thanksgiving Monday.

Death Angel / West of Hell / Villain Avian Symphony / Nylithia @ The Rickshaw – Sunday, October 9, 2011

My buddy Bart and I arrived at around 9:10 PM, and I guess we missed Nylithia because we did not see them. But I still caught some of the set of the Villain Avian Symphony. For my own taste, this band was too hardcore sounding overall. Their set featured electronic beat backing tracks, and I’m not really into electronic music either. They did, however, have some thrash riffs and drumming that were decent.

West of Hell was a combination of thrash and classic heavy metal. Bands that came to mind were Maiden, Priest, Pantera, and Metallica. I noticed some very awesome Halford like vocals; later on, I found out that it was Zimmers Hole vocalist Chris “The Heathen” Valagao who sang for West of Hell that night. Sometimes the vocals would cut out though–I think there may have been technical sound problems. And the lead guitar was drowned out at times, which disappointed me because the guitars were full of fast leads with occasional artificial harmonics that I really enjoyed.

Death Angel was just as I expected, an established bay area thrash band with catchy riffs, commanding vocals, and pounding drums. This was my second time seeing them. Sometimes the guitar solos were inaudible, and the vocals cut out too, just as in West of Hell’s set. The occasional vocal and guitar harmonies made for some interesting variety. I really dig the slap bass that Damien Sisson injected into some of his riffs. As usual, Rob Cavestany slayed with his exceptional work on the lead guitars, a recipe that involved generous heaps of shredding and whammying. I found it amusing how Damien was friendly enough to allow the dude standing of me to touch his bass strings while he was playing. I’m glad that this band decided to keep on rocking, despite its lineup changes and hiatuses.