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?
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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.
Datura – http://www.myspace.com/daturanelsonbc
Alone Against Rome – http://www.myspace.com/aloneagainstrome
Bushwhacker – http://www.myspace.com/bushwhacker
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.
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.