666 Sunday: Sinned, Unleash the Archers, Death Toll Rising, Antecede – September 25, 2011

666 Sunday 2011

666 Sunday 2011

So here we had three death metal bands and one power melodeath band–interesting lineup, I must say! As long as it is all metal, it is all good to me. Antecede initiated the show with their death metal that retained its classic heavy metal roots–I could hear it in their riffing. After that we had Albertans Death Toll Rising–I bought their t-shirt that reads “eat shit and die” on the back. Other merch I bought was a CD/shirt combination package from Sinned, and a patch from Unleash the Archers. I thoroughly enjoyed Death Toll Rising’s fast brutal sound and was surprised that their drum set was still in one piece after abuse from Bryan Newbury, though if I remember correctly, I think their high-hat came apart at one point.

Unleash the Archers provided us with contrast this evening–they even admitted themselves while onstage, “We’re pussy metal!” With their strong power metal main vocalist Britney and occasional guttural vocals by their guitarists Brayden and Grant, they have the versatility to play with almost any metal band and are marked with being melodic, heavy, and catchy all at the same time. This was a better performance than the one they did at Funky’s prior to this–both the sound was better and Britney’s vocals were stronger. Finally we had Sinned close off 666 Sunday with their mind melting technical death metal. I probably lost a few brain cells after attending that show, but I still had enough left to recall headbanging like crazy to some mad death metal with a touch of grind.

North American Khaos 2011 in Vancouver – Thursday, September 22, 2011

Khaos Legions 2011

Khaos Legions 2011

This show was held at the Commodore Ballroom, and I spent $44 on the ticket, which was to be expected because I imagine that it is very costly to rent such a large venue.

Taiwanese Chthonic kicked off the evening with their melodic/symphonic black/death sound. Unfortunately, the excessive bass frequencies made it very difficult for me to hear the erhu, which is the Chinese instrument that their singer known as Left Face of Maradou played. The guitar riffs were also drowned out. Their guitarist, the Infernal, played some great solos though. I had trouble following the songs in this set, probably due to the poor sound quality. Again, it may have been due to the same issue with poor sound, but I almost thought I could hear a core sound in some of the songs–that’s not always a bad thing though; sometimes breakdowns can be effective devices in songwriting. The vocalist and keyboards were audible. I felt that Left Face of Maradou had great stage presence and addressed the audience appropriately between songs. In one of the songs, I found that a brief harmonized keyboard and guitar duo bit was interesting.

Up next was Skeletonwitch, and the first thing I noticed was how great their sound was–I could actually hear their guitars, and the bass was not too overpowering. Their thrashing guitar riffs were strong and incorporated dual leads and harmonized stuff. Both guitarists Scott Hedrick and Nate Garnette played fast and melodic solos. I ended up talking to their merch guy and bought a t-shirt from them. Chance Garnette’s vocals were kind of unique with the low, gargling sound that I grew to dig as the band continued playing their set.

DevilDriver then took the stage. I would like to mention that I am not really into their musical style, partly because of the core tendencies and the vocal delivery. To me, something about their sound is commercial/metalcore sounding, which may not be a bad thing if this is what the band is after. And in this set, the bass frequencies were once again too loud, and they drowned out the guitars. The core vocals by Bradley “Dez” Farfara sounded almost like scream-rapping. I hear people refer to this band as groove metal, and maybe it is because of the abundance of single note repetitive riffing that I noticed in their set. One thing that I do like about this band is some of the thrash tendencies, guitar leads, and and the heavy use of double kick in the drums. At one point, I thought I could hear keyboards but could not see any–it is possible that I was imagining things, or maybe they were using backing tracks. And I also heard a riff combined with a simple drum beat, and it sounded too much like industrial, which again is not my taste. But I’d like to commend their guitarist that shredded nice solos–not sure if it was Jeff or Mike who played them as I am not too familiar with the lineup.

Headliners Arch Enemy played a mixture of songs from the previous albums as well as from the current Khaos Legions album. In the first couple of songs, Angela’s vocals

were buried, but that improved shortly after. Toward the end, the bass frequencies were too boomy, and at one point the drums were overpowering the rest of the mix. All of the members of this established band displayed good stage presence. They were musically appealing with their signature Amott dual guitars and solid rhythm section in Daniel’s drums and Sharlee’s bass. Both Christopher and Michael were swift and fluid with their leads. I was able to hear Sharlee’s bass lines too, though I wish I could hear it better without so much boomy sound next time.

I was disappointed that Arch Enemy did not play their really old stuff, not even the stuff that was part of the rerecordings album The Root of All Evil. I was also hoping that they would play the one of my fave songs “Through the Eyes of a Raven” from Khaos Legions, but they did not. I guess they only have enough time to play so much. I was glad they played “Under Black Flags We March”, one of my other fave songs of the new album. Angela even held up a black flag with the band’s logo on it during that song, and I really dig the fills that Daniel did on this one too.

Surprisingly, the songs that I previously did not like actually lent well to a concert atmosphere–I could not help but sing along and headbang to them! Such songs included “Bloodstained Cross” and “No Gods No Masters.” The poppish guitar riffs combined with the melodic chord progression of the “Bloodstained Cross” chorus still won with the catchy vocals and lyrics. I still was not as much into “No Gods…” because again it was kind of poppy, but I was still able to appreciate it live, and I recall singing along with the chorus. So I would give it to Arch Enemy for being able to do something right–after all, I did pay a large dollar for this show and still appreciated the songs I usually don’t like!

Food was kinda expensive here. I wanted to buy veggie greens for $8 but I wanted to save money for a Skeletonwitch t-shirt, which was $30. And based on the quality of the food my friends ordered and ate, it looked like it would have been delicious. But I wish they had yam fries–now that would have hit the spot!

It is too bad that not as many metal shows are played at the Commodore anymore because it holds a LOT of people…I guess based on the above observations, it is too expensive for a lot of the lesser known acts to rent and too costly for the typical metalhead to fork out every time.

Entropia/Stiff Valentine/My Own Chaos/Corset @ The Media Club – Saturday, September 17, 2011

Entropia Sept 2011 Ticket Stub

Entropia

The show started with what was supposed to be the band Corset but instead, due to their singer having medical problems (this is what I heard anyway), it ended up being just Elgwen performing the songs solo and acoustic. Although this was not a metal act, I could still appreciate the strong vocals and solid songwriting. And I could even detect some odd time signatures at one point.

Next up was My Own Chaos. They experienced some technical sound problems at the beginning–I could not hear the guitarist, and the drums seemed to be too loud overpowering all the other instruments. Also the bass EQ was too boomy–it was hard to tell if it was due to the mixer or the amp settings or possibly something else. The main bassist, Eric Wolf, could not make it that night, so guitarist Alexandre Dubreuil ended up handling bass duties for the gig. And even though the other guitarist Oleg had his guitar turned up, the bass was still too boomy. Despite that, hearing the grit in Connie’s strong voice combined with the virtuosity of all the other musicians was still worth the ticket.

My Own Chaos is one of the strong performance bands in town, so check them out if you haven’t already.

The third band was Stiff Valentine, and I honestly have no idea why they were put on the bill. They certainly were not metal; they were more industrial/punk or maybe something else, but not metal at all. Many of the metalhead attendees left the venue to stand outside and smoke or talk during this set.

Finally we had Entropia, and as always, they played an energetic and convincing set of their brand of thrash. Since they write such catchy songs, I could not help but sing along and headbang. I recall their sound being decent considering that they were playing in a tiny venue. Darin managed to get his bass to have enough treble and bite to it so that every note was audible. It is possible that the sound person may have helped with this, but knowing Darin’s competence on the bass, he probably did something to the sound to make it EQ’d just right.

So here are some questions for you, readers–what do you think about the Media Club as a venue? And how do you feel about mixing non-metal acts with metal?

GRAVE in Vancouver – Sept. 15, 2011

Grave

Grave’s show was held at the Biltmore, and it consisted of the openers Pathology, Gigan, Blood Red Throne.

Pathology kicked off the night with their brand of brutal death. Jonathan Huber vocalized in an incomprehensible style of low growl-squeals that actually worked with the band’s overall sound. Dave Astor drummed insanely fast, though more variety in tempos and rhythmic patterns would have made it more interesting. Oscar Ramirez’s bass playing was solid enough but may have been more noticeable had their been another guitar playing rhythm; this would have allowed room for more creative bass lines. Speaking of another guitar, it would have allowed more room for the current guitarist to solo more since that guy can rip based on the little lead he did play that night. Metal Archives lists two guitarists, Tim Tiszczenko and Kevin Schwartz. I am uncertain as to which guitarist was on that night.

Up next was Gigan, and although it was very easy to hear their drummer, the bass frequencies in the mix drowned out the rest of the band. I could not hear the guitars very well, but it “looked” like it might have sounded good if it was audible. The vocals were easy to hear. I recall hearing a lot of effects on the guitar, and I found them to be excessive. To me, it sounded as though the music lacked flow, but maybe it’s because the live mix was poor. Perhaps I might check out their studio work to get a better idea of their sound.

Right before the headliners was Blood Red Throne, and the first distinct feature was their catchy riffs. Their band consisted of two guitarists (Død and Ivan Gujic) who played the occasional harmonies. Vocalist Vald performed a wide range of low and high gutturals. Oddly enough, Ivan looked like Dimebag Darrell, played a dean guitar, and was even wearing a Pantera t-shirt. He even shredded like Dime. Both guitarists actually shredded well, but I could not hear Ivan’s leads as well as I could hear Død’s.

Finally we had Grave, and I could hear a sound similar to that of Dismember, except a little faster, though that feeling of speed might have been due to the drumming. They even had Dismember bassist Tobias Cristiansson playing for them. From where I was standing, it was hard for me to listen to the band because I was on the outskirts of the pit and had my foot stepped on and shins kicked probably ten times or more. Not a problem though! There seemed to be some problems with the drummer not hearing the sound, not sure how that affected things sonically but it might have. I noticed a couple of times during guitar lead breaks that the volume level would be unstable–it would suddenly go really loud and then quiet again. The overall mix was actually quite clipped sounding. The moshers at Grave’s set moshed even outside of the pit. I really enjoyed Ola Lindgren’s vocal style that had a combination of shouting and gutturals which allowed the lyrics to be heard very well.

The time between sets felt about average, not too fast or slow, though I didn’t time it. This venue has a really nice stage with audience seating and standing areas. Too bad we could not have more shows here at the Biltmore, but I guess since a bus is required to get there, transit may be a factor. Coat check was friendly and definitely worth the $3 to keep my iPad secure. Security was firm and friendly too, did their job without being too intrusive. We’ll see when the next Biltmore show is! What do you think about this venue anyway?

[Live Music Review] Wed. Aug. 31, 2011 – Show at Red Room & Fri. Sept. 2, 2011 – Show at Funky’s

nihilate_31aug11

nihilate_31aug11

Wed. Aug. 31, 2011 – Show at Red Room Fri. Sept. 2, 2011 – Show at Funky’s (A comparison)

(Fri. September 2nd 2011 was Lokrendis, Kymatica, Fuse Breaker, GLIMPSE OF MUTINY @ Funky Winker Beans Vancouver BC (No Minors) 10 BUX 9PM – 1ISH doors at 8PM Presented by: NO BOLLOCKS EVENTS //)

On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, the Red Room featured the bands Nihilate, Lethal Halo, and Kymatica. It was refreshing to be able to hear such great sound live; the Red Room often has this.

I have seen Lethal Halo a few times, and I noticed this evening that the arrangements of their song structures had riffs changed–they became more established and confident sounding. Later on that evening, I talked to Emine Topcu, one of their guitarists, and confirmed with her after the set was over that indeed the band has touched up their songs with some fine improvements. It is always a pleasure to see bands that work hard, and not only by gigging and touring, but also by writing better songs and improving upon their existing repertoire too.

When Kymatica played that evening, I could hear all their instruments, including Anna Kuchkova’s keyboards, which was set to the acoustic piano sound for most of the time. I found that the piano sound worked to the band’s advantage–hearing and seeing someone actually play the piano skillfully for once and not just use backing tracks was a treat.

I was not too fond of Nihilate’s set. I recall it being very noisy sounding–not sure if it was due to poor sound quality or if maybe that is how they intended it to sound. I would have to see them again in order to make a more informed opinion.

A couple of nights later, Kymatica played again at Funky’s. I was a little disappointed because I could not hear their vocals very well and the piano was also drowned out. It also sounded almost as though there was unnecessary clipping that caused the riffs to be inaudible at times. But at least this allowed me to appreciate seeing their previous set at the Red Room where the sound was better.

At Funky’s on September 2, a band called Fuse Breaker played. They were not really metal but instead more hardcore. As far as hardcore goes, I’ll be honest with you: I’m not a big fan. It is not as musically appealing to me as metal is. A lot of the metalhead attendees ended up staying outside to smoke and talk during Fuse Breaker’s set. Also, Jason Mills, one of my friends who attended that show, has a few random comments that I will share on behalf of him:

The lead singer/guitarist looks like a cross between James Hetfield and a member of Hatebreed, the bassist looks like he’s from Stone Temple Pilots, and the drummer looks like Vinnie Paul drumming for a glam band (Jason M).

We also felt that Fuse Breaker’s songs were all very similar sounding to one another.

Jason and I were disappointed that the SkyTrain in Vancouver stops at around 1:15 AM, but a lot of bars are open until 2:00 AM. This resulted in us missing the last band, Lokrendis, on September 2 at Funky’s. And the reason we are not reviewing Glimpse of Mutiny is because we showed up late and missed their set.

Here are a few questions I have for you readers:

  • What do you think about mixing non-metal and metal bands on the same bill? Yay or nay? Why or why not?
  • Does it matter what the band looks like? How important is the visual aspect of performance to you?
  • And sound quality: which venues have the best sound quality, in your opinion? And how important to you is sound quality in live shows and in album recordings?
  • What do you think about the hours of our SkyTrain system?

[Live Music Review] THURS. OCT. 6, 2011 – ALONE AGAINST ROME / DATURA / BUSHWHACKER @ FUNKY WINKERBEANS

ALONE AGAINST ROME / DATURA / BUSHWHACKER

ALONE AGAINST ROME / DATURA / BUSHWHACKER @ FUNKY WINKERBEANS

Tonight I knew I was probably going to miss part, if not all, of the first band Bushwhacker’s set, because I ended up having to work until 10:00 PM and did not arrive until past 10:30 PM (damn work!). And that’s exactly what happened: I got to hear about a song and a half from Bushwhacker. I could hear a progressive influence to their sound in the last bit I observed from them. It was probably toward the end of a song when I noticed a passage that seemed too repetitive, but ostinatos do make good outros. So I could not really form a complete opinion on this set because I only got to hear a tidbit–I’d have to see an entire set of Bushwhacker next time. But I did get to hear a neat delay effect on their guitars done live (I recognized it from having heard their MySpace before). Amazingly enough, they came all the way from Whitehorse, Yukon, so props to them for playing in Vancouver.

Alone Against Rome is a band that I have heard of once or twice before. Their set was packed with thrash riffs, clean vocals, noticeable guitar leads/harmonies, and an impressively fast drummer. One thing that AAR’s set allowed me to appreciate was the surprisingly good sound at Funky’s tonight; I was actually able to hear each instrument in all three bands, but I especially enjoyed hearing it in AAR’s set due to their use of guitar melodies. I’d like to point out that the vocals sounded tighter and more in tune live “in person” this evening than on the live recordings on their MySpace.

The show ended with the band Datura. The first noticeable feature of this band’s set was that all of the songs were performed instrumentally with no vocals. That fact combined with the progressive sound reminded me of the band Dysrhythmia, except Datura was not as dissonant sounding as them. Odd time signatures and slap bass made for a complex sound in Datura’s set. However, as an instrumental band, they did not possess enough melodic lines in the instruments to make up for the lack of vocals. At one point, Datura had a guitar solo, but it was too quiet for me to hear above the rest of the band. This band is definitely more rhythmic than melodic, though they did use some interesting clean guitar chords every now and then (I’m not sure if the chords actually fit though…still trying to decide).

Overall, I am glad that I made this mid-week show tonight. It would have been more satisfying had I seen Bushwhacker’s full set, but hopefully the fact that there was a dedicated audience for them in Vancouver tonight would be enough to welcome them back here in the future.

~LL~

Datura – http://www.myspace.com/daturanelsonbc

Alone Against Rome – http://www.myspace.com/aloneagainstrome

Bushwhacker – http://www.myspace.com/bushwhacker

AUG.20, 2011 SHOW

Infernal Majesty

INFERNAL MAJESTY w/ "CORPSEGRINDER" Fisher / TYRANTS BLOOD / SINNED Aug.20

Sinned and Tyrants Blood were great openers.  Sinned has some technical death metal sound to them.  Tryants Blood has death and thrash sound.  But the problem I had at this show was that the guitars were not loud enough, especially the leads.  It made it hard to hear things properly.  But I still really dug both bands.  I’d say that Tyrants Blood and Infernal Majesty both had remarkable stage presence, thanks to frontman Brian Langley.   I consider him a friend of mine–good guy.  Check out his other band, Cradle to Grave.  Fucking awesome.  Anyway, Sinned has a versatile guttural vocalist David London who is able to go from squeals to low growls in the same phrase…and they have an amazingly fast lead guitarist Dennis.  All the bands this night had solidly powerful drumming, and that is what half made up for the lack of hearing the lead guitar…really, I have heard the sound better in other shows at the Rickshaw.  But my request would be to have a better soundcheck and gear once-over maybe.  I’d say that inviting George Fisher as a starring guest was a smart idea because  I could see how excited a lot of the fans got when he was up there.  He also gave a unique interpretation of the Infernal Majesty songs in his distinct Corpsegrinder voice.  The fact that he was on the bill was enough to pique a the curiosity of many, and it was definitely a creative choice to have him there.  Too bad that his mic was malfunctioning for some of the set, making it difficult to  hear him at times.

[Live Music Review] AUGUST 11TH (THURSDAY) SHOW: TITANS EVE / AUROCH / UNLEASH THE ARCHERS / SACRED ALLY @ FUNKY WINKERBEANS.

Titans Eve, Auroch, Unleash the Archers, Sacred Ally

AUGUST 11TH (THURSDAY) SHOW

AUGUST 11TH (THURSDAY):

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.