Saturday, October 22, 2011

The mighty BISON BC return to Kingston!! (at The Mansion)

October 20th, 2011. The day Bison BC returned to Kingston, ON. It was almost 3 years ago when they last (and only?) played here.  I remember the day clearly. It was Saturday Nov. 8, 2008. I was supposed to work that night but luckily I took the night off. Righteous. Trouble is, it was my 30th birthday and my wife planned a party for me. FUCK!! But the party's at AKA! With Bison!! (shakes fists at sky)  This was shortly after Quiet Earth was released. That album (which made my Top 5 that year) greatly increased their recognition in the underground metal scene. When Dark Ages was released in 2010 it pushed Bison to an even higher level (#2) across the board and I figured my chances of seeing them perform live were done. Traveling to Toronto or Montreal isn't in the cards for me much anymore. (One show since the inaugural SOTU tour) But, BUT! The metal gods smiled on me. They brought Bison back to Kingston.
As always, I like to say a little something about the opening bands. Unfortunately, my capacity for coherent thought was hampered by the joint I smoked before I went in to the show. I'll do the best I can.
Severence led off the night. They also led off the last show I was at but I missed them. I was too busy trying not to totally freak out. (Advice: Kingdom of Noise does not recommend the use of high powered energy drinks and marijuana simultaneously) They weren't that bad really but I think my tolerance level was abnormally high. (he he, I said high) No, it definitely was. Whatever the case, I couldn't help but think they sounded like a mashup of say, Godsmack, Protest The Hero and The Black Dahlia Murder. In so much as a varied vocal style (I can't say range) and an apparent inability to play the same riff more than once in a row. At times it bordered on crabcore. One guitarist, whom I dubbed Stiffler due to both his appearance and personality, kept doing that fucking pigeon neck thing. I hate that. BANG IT!! He was probably doing that so his cockeyed backwards ballcap didn't fall off. FUCK! I guess my tolerance wasn't that high after all. In the most spot on appropriate moment of the day, the band announced they had one more song, then, while they were sippin' beers/adjusting hats/shouting Go Leafs Go!, the house music came on and they didn't get to play their last song. Severence. I almost laughed out loud but I feared if I started, I'd never be able to stop.
I wanted to write more about the next band, Ponderous Chain, than Severence but I think my high peaked during their set and I got lost in it. On the progressive side of death metal. Proficient without being overly technical. The vocals were that kind where he kind of just screams somewhat randomly. They don't follow the flow of the music. That's not uncommon these days and at least he didn't try and mix in too many clean vocals. Some, but not too many. They did have some "mosh parts" but they had just as many passages where they chilled out a bit and let the guitars wander. My buzz liked those parts. Lead Guitar was wearing an Opeth shirt which surprised me not at all. I could hear some influence. (Not that mess Heritage though) I wouldn't be surprised by an affinity for Meshuggah either. I would be interested to hear their stuff while sober. I was interested enough to extricate myself from the chair to get a better look so that's a positive for them. At one point during their set, I came up with a description of their sound that blew my mind. I didn't think I was capable of stringing together such a profound series of words. Dreams are made of that description. If there was a Pulitzer for phrases such as it was, I would have won. But, I totally forgot.
Toronto duo I, Emperor were in the direct support slot. While they weren't the best openers of the night, they did have to travel so I guess that's why they get it. I was having a very difficult trying to categorize this band. I still am really. Art-metal speed punk? indie-core? I don't know. They were well practiced and very passionate. They had PA issues a couple songs in, and the show was already running 30-40 min behind. I had started to come down and the loss of momentum bummed me out. I lost focus and just started people watching. Us metalheads are a weird lot.

Vancouver's Bison BC have become one of my favourite bands. Especially Canadian band. As intense and their recorded work is, I have heard their live performance notches that up a ton.  Their performance at The Mansion in Kingston did nothing to change that impression.  As with some of the great bands that I have seen, I can tell they are a touring band by the feel of the show. This is their arena. Not the studio. They didn't stick to note for note rehashings of the songs as heard on the CD. They could jam out passages, pulling the audience along, holding us above their heads waiting, waiting, and then slamming us against the rocks with fury. That's just the way they are. If Bison wants to just bowl you over they will. If they want to toy with you a bit first with beautiful instrumental passages before the destruction is wrought, they will do that too. It all makes for some pretty interesting headbanging. I'm sure some people were having fun at my expense as threw my body around in time with the onslaught. Said onslaught was quite varied as far as material goes. I'm a little rusty on Earthbound, and less so on Quiet Earth but I think they hit all three albums. My memory is horrible for song titles but I did remember a few. They played what might be my favourite Bison tune, "These Are My Dress Clothes" along with, I believe, "Slow Hand of Death". Dark Ages songs included "Melody, This Is For You" and "Stressed Elephant" as well as set closer "Fear Cave". The rest of the songs have been lost to broken synapses. It makes no difference to me what they played. It's all killer. Part of the problem might have been due to my positioning at the stage. I couldn't hear Dan's vocals at all. I might have been able to at the back but I was having way too much fun self-inducing whiplash in range of being brained by James' guitar. It was unfortunate there wasn't a better turn out for the show. However, I have resigned myself to the fact that Kingston as a city doesn't hold bands such as Bison BC in as high regard as I do.  Hopefully it doesn't deter these East Van road dogs from making their way back to the Limestone City. In less than three years would be nice too. Then again, I had no idea what was going on behind me. Nor did I care. I was RAGIN'!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oathbreaker - Maelstrom

You may remember my theory about the relationship of ad size to band quality. The bigger the badder. Well, a few weeks ago I was reading a George R.R. Martin novel and thought to myself, "Oathbreaker would be a cool band name". Literally minutes later, I open Decibel Magazine and a FULL PAGE ad for Oathbreaker is staring back at me. Oh great, not only did they steal my band name but they probably suck too. Thankfully, there are exceptions to every rule. And my theory is falling farther and farther apart.
I like the word maelstrom. I also like the word plethora. I get to use both in describing Maelstrom the album. Basically, the album contains a plethora of songs exhibiting a maelstrom of intensity which assaults the listener from all sides. There you have it! What? More words? Now? It's 6:30am! Fine.
I can't help but draw comparisons to Landmine Marathon but the similarity is really quite superficial. Both are fronted by a female who can scream her ass off and both can knock your socks off. But while Landmine can bring the doom and lean more towards the death metal end of the spectrum, Oathbreaker convey more of a hardcore feel. I can also hear some touches of black metal infusing itself in mix as well.  Also, vocalist Caro doesn't sound as much like Grace Perry as much as a hybrid of Angela Gossow and Dee Prescott of the now defunct I Hate Sally (who also happened to have some hardcore flavour).

I did read something comparing them to Converge which isn't terribly far off but Oathbreaker seem  a little more to the point. I've listened to it a bunch of times and I am still having a hard really putting words together to describe it. Intense and heavy hitting. Would be great live I imagine. Although I could do without the ballad at the end but it does feature a different side of Caro in which her banshee scream turns in to a very nice voice!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Napalm Death live in Kingston,ON Oct 3,2011 Review

This show was a shining moment for live underground extreme music in Kingston.  I've seen some great shows in town but we're talking about NAPALM FUCKING DEATH here people!! It doesn't get much more legendary for club shows in towns the size of Kingston.
But first, the openers.
Severance were the first band to hit b the stage this night. However, I was sitting in my car scarfing a veggie sub trying to satiate my munchies and letting my pupils return to a somewhat normal state. They are opening for Bison b.c. next week so maybe I will catch them then. I'll try and show up earlier and get my "veggie sub" out of the way before the doors open.
No Russian followed up. I believe I only missed one tune if any. And this is really all I have to say: Performing deathcore must be more fun than listening to deathcore. And I was stoned. They looked and sounded like a bunch of apes. Especially the vokillist. (That's how the kids spell it nowadays, right?)
Direct support came from a band called the Polidicks. This is the perfect band to play before Napalm Death. While a little more punk than grindcore, they held to the same ideals like anti-violence, human rights etc. At least from what I could gather from the between song banter. He was screaming enough I couldn't make out much else. And, I was still stoned. They said they hadn't been on stage together in two years but you'd never know. They were really tight. I think opening for Napalm might have brought out the best in them. The vocalist said at one point, "If you had told me 10 years ago when we started this band that we'd be opening for Napalm Death, I'd have slapped you." I am sure it was an honour and a privilege to share the stage with such a legendary band and obviously big influence on them.
Now what we paid for. Grindcore legends, pioneers and gods, Napalm Death.  Would the extreme music landscape look anything like what it does without Napalm Death? I highly fucking doubt it.  If you do doubt it, read Albert Mudrian's amazing book Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Then we'll talk.  Speaking of history, Napalm's set ran the gamut of their discography and beyond. Barney Greenway (whom I will fawn over momentarily) told us they were going to play "some really old shit, some really new shit and a bunch of shit from in between." During a quite extensive set, they played classics such as "Scum", "Suffer The Children" and "Nazi Punks, Fuck Off!" up to newer songs like "Life and Limb" all the while never showing their age at all. But wait! In addition to the songs we know and love, we were treat to two covers! The first was a Cryptic Slaughter cover and the second was a Siege cover. When Greenway said they were covering Siege, some kid who looked young enough he couldn't even vote, just about lost his shit with excitement. Good on ya, kid. But that's not all! According to Mr. Greenway himself, we were given a special treat. Being the first stop on the tour, they played "a brand new song, for the first time. Ever. Anywhere." The song was called "Quarantine" and if it is any indication of what the new album (that he said they just finished up) will sound like,it's gonna be bloody brilliant!
Having never seen Napalm Death live, I was amazed by Greenway. His signature bark was even more intense live. He performed like a man possessed. I loved it. He embodied the hardcore punk aesthetic and channeled his frustrations with the world into his screams. All the while pointing his finger so we knew we'd best be paying attention. At one point, while trying to think of how to describe his sort of build-and-release stage presence, I couldn't help but liken him to that neighbour that the kids used to torment. And you could see him getting more and more physically angry and frustrated. Holding it in, because they're just kids. But he just can't take it anymore and explodes into a tirade. The difference here is, Greenway's pressure buildup=>explosion was full-on right from the opening bell and happened between every line he sang. Glorious.
As electrifying as he was, we musn't forget the living legend himself, bassist Shane Embury. After watching him play, (and hearing him on countless recordings) I should just give up now. I'll never be that good. Nor would I ever be as good as drummer Danny Herrera or guitarist/backing screecher Mitch Harris. (Who looks a lot like my parent's old neighbour who works at Costco but shorter and with longer hair. Weird.) None of those guys let up the whole time. The whole band just clicks and delivers. I mean seriously, when Scum was released, I was still a few months away from turning 9 and I wouldn't be able to play with the kind of sustained intensity that these guys do. If you have the chance to take in this experience, fucking do it. They're touring across Canada RIGHT NOW! Get out to a show!
Legen.....(wait for it)......dary!

And yes. The played "You Suffer".

Friday, October 7, 2011

Inspired by Girls Who Don't Really Like Metal

Inspired by this article on Metal Sucks, I've preempted by Napalm Death live review to bring you a few words about girls and metal. At least from my perspective and opinion.
First, my wife doesn't like metal. She doesn't pretend to like metal. The only metal she likes is a couple Rob Zombie tunes and that's not even metal. Thankfully, she doesn't like Country Music either. Otherwise, I wouldn't have married her. So, I got to thinking, if I wasn't married what would I think of "metal chicks"?
a) Most of the young women I see at metal shows are too young for me anyway. I'm an old man now. More grey hair than black but not really because of age. With a hat on, I still get ID'ed sometimes. Anyway,...

Would I want to have a girlfriend/wife that loved metal as much as I do? I don't really know. On one hand, it would be really great to listen to Black Metal at breakfast, and Death Metal at dinner, Sludge at supper etc. I would have someone to watch my Immolation DVD with, a reason to get my old Sepultura VHS tapes out of the garage, and not have to listen to the crap on the radio all the time. But on the other hand, she would want to go to all the metal shows with me, right? Do I want that? Will she DD? Metal shows are kind of my escape. A night out by myself to let loose. I don't even have to drink or get high. I just rage. I end up sore for days but I have a good time. I don't go out and shoot pool or hang out a sports bar with my friends. I just go to metal shows. So, if my wife were to come to all those shows too because she was a "metal chick" what would I do? Not hang out at a sports bar alone, that's for sure.
If my wife liked all the same stuff I do, (metal, sports, sci-fi/fantasy, logging etc) would I find that sexy? Or would it feel like just having a female best friend that you sleep with? Ya sure, I get frustrated sometimes that I can't talk to her (or anyone really, I'm kind of isolated in terms of like minded friends) about the amazing new Krallice album, or how much I hate the Yankees, or Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series, or how I need a new chainsaw chain etc. but say she didn't LIKE the new Krallice album, then what would I do? I think this way, where I have my own shit, and she has hers, is better in the long run. Sure, I have to listen to Selena Gomez (kids) and Adele (wife) and I can't watch every Chicago Blackhawks game on tv but I love my wife just the way she is.
Besides, I don't know about other guys, metal nerds or not, but I am not automatically attracted to a woman just because she is wearing a Skeletonwitch t-shirt or has rad tattoos. It helps, but if she's not attractive, she's not attractive. Plain and simple. A musical preference isn't going to change that. Also, for me anyway, too much makeup is a turn off. And I see lots of makeup on the faces of the bodies wearing some of those shirts.
I guess what I am trying to say is, it would be cool if my wife liked metal. Just not as much as me.

As far as the article goes. I really hope it's tongue-in-cheek. Otherwise, it's bullshit. I believe women can love metal just as much as guys. I "know" lots of them. I see lots of them. Killing themselves in the pit with the rest of us. Girls don't voluntarily get beat up so guys notice them. That doesn't make sense. "Hey, I have a black eye and a bloody nose. Wanna make out?" No, thanks.
Granted, there ARE people, women and men alike that think it's cool to wearing Maiden shirts and the like without knowing anything about the band. To whom I would refer to this video.

Did I make any sense or did I just waste some of my precious time? Hey, whatever happened to Most Precious Blood?