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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Slayer -- Kansas City, MO -- May 13th, 2014

What can be said about Slayer that hasn’t already been beaten to death by millions of fans over three decades? They’re possibly the most universally loved (and loathed after a certain point) metal band all the world over, and it’s not such a far stretch to argue that Slayer is the most important and influential heavy metal band of all time. Last night, the loudest and fastest of the Big Four of Thrash Metal made their way to the Uptown Theater in Kansas City for a night of evil speed supported by crossover legends Suicidal Tendencies and one of the few bands to predate Slayer, the inimitable Exodus.

Opening the show to an already large and loud crowd was Exodus, the Bay Area band that, while coming to prominence at the same time as Metallica and Slayer, never quite reached the same level of popularity as their contemporaries. Perhaps that has put a chip on their shoulder, because Exodus comes out fast and doesn’t let up. Frontman Rob Dukes is a far cry from classic Exodus vocalist Paul Baloff, choosing to have a more harsh style of singing than Paul’s melodic style, but it works well – especially when performing later-era Exodus songs, such as the mid-paced thrasher “War Is My Shepherd.” Of course, Exodus’ most popular album is their first, “Bonded By Blood” and the majority of their 30-minute set was dedicated to that album. The crowd responded with lots of headbanging and huge circle pits. Exodus’ ode to the circle pit, “The Toxic Waltz” incited one of the biggest of the night. Their set was full of energy and was perfect to get the crowd ready for the upcoming bands.

After a surprisingly short changeover of only about 15 minutes, Venice Beach crossover lord’s Suicidal Tendencies took the stage. With vocalist asking, “Kansas City, what the fuck is going on around here?!” they launched into “You Can’t Bring Me Down” and spent their hour-or-so set providing the most melodic and fun music of the night. Suicidal Tendencies came from the California hardcore punk scene, so their music has a bit more in common with bands like The Dead Kennedys than Slayer, but their later-album songs introduced a great deal of thrash metal to their sound and caused a ruckus in the underground scene back in the 80s. Suicidal focused mainly on their second album “Join the Army” (Possessed to Skate, War Inside My Head) and their third album “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today” (Trip At The Brain, Pledge Your Allegiance). Suicidal Tendencies has slowly been climbing back into the public eye with a lot of touring and licensing of their songs out to various forms of media. They still bring an amazing skate punk/thrash show despite being around for over 30 years, and that alone is cause for moshing celebrations.

It seems like headliners Slayer never stay away from the Kansas City area for too long. Their last legitimate headlining US tour in 2007 was at Memorial Hall and their appearances on the Mayhem Festival in 2009 and 201 along with their co-headlining tour with Megadeth in 2012 all hit Sandstone (or Capitol Federal, Or Cricket Wireless, or whatever it is now) Amphitheater. Thankfully, it seems the Kansas City crowd hasn’t grown weary of Slayer just yet. On this particular tour, Gary Holt of Exodus was replacing the late, great Jeff Hanneman on guitars and Paul Bostaph, their drummer from 1992 to 2001, replaced Dave Lombardo behind the kit. Both performed their duties quite admirably and no one could really tell the difference. A huge difference, though, came in the choice of songs to perform. Slayer played 19 songs last night, but not a single song was released past 1991. The first five Slayer albums are almost universally proclaimed as some of the best heavy metal albums ever made, and to get 19 cuts off those is almost unheard of for Slayer in this day and age. Some highlights were undoubtedly “Chemical Warfare” and “Captor of Sin” off the 1984 “Haunting the Chapel” EP and “The Antichrist” and “Black Magic,” two rare cuts off their 1983 debut album “Show No Mercy.” It was a classic night for a classic band with a classic crowd in attendance.

Slayer:

1. Hell Awaits
2. The Antichrist
3. Necrophiliac
4. Mandatory Suicide
5. Captor of Sin
6. War Ensemble
7. Postmortem
8. Altar of Sacrifice
9. Jesus Saves
10. At Dawn They Sleep
11. Die By The Sword
12. Hallowed Point
13. Seasons In The Abyss
14. Chemical Warfare
15. Dead Skin Mask
16. Raining Blood
17. Black Magic
----
18. South of Heaven
19. Angel of Death

Suicidal Tendencies:

1. You Can't Bring Me Down
2. Trip At The Brain
3. War Inside My Head
4. Subliminal
5. Possessed To Skate
6. I Saw Your Mommy
7. Cyco Vision
8. Pledge Your Allegiance

Exodus:

1. Bonded By Blood
2. Piranha
3. Blacklist
4. War Is My Shepherd
5. The Toxic Waltz
6. Strike Of The Beast

Slayer: 9.5/10
Suicidal Tendencies: 8.5/10
Exodus: 8/10 
What can be said about Slayer that hasn’t already been beaten to death by millions of fans over three decades? They’re possibly the most universally loved (and loathed after a certain point) metal band all the world over, and it’s not such a far stretch to argue that Slayer is the most important and influential heavy metal band of all time. Last night, the loudest and fastest of the Big Four of Thrash Metal made their way to the Uptown Theater in Kansas City for a night of evil speed supported by crossover legends Suicidal Tendencies and one of the few bands to predate Slayer, the inimitable Exodus.
Opening the show to an already large and loud crowd was Exodus, the Bay Area band that, while coming to prominence at the same time as Metallica and Slayer, never quite reached the same level of popularity as their contemporaries. Perhaps that has put a chip on their shoulder, because Exodus comes out fast and doesn’t let up. Frontman Rob Dukes is a far cry from classic Exodus vocalist Paul Baloff, choosing to have a more harsh style of singing than Paul’s melodic style, but it works well – especially when performing later-era Exodus songs, such as the mid-paced thrasher “War Is My Shepherd.” Of course, Exodus’ most popular album is their first, “Bonded By Blood” and the majority of their 30-minute set was dedicated to that album. The crowd responded with lots of headbanging and huge circle pits. Exodus’ ode to the circle pit, “The Toxic Waltz” incited one of the biggest of the night. Their set was full of energy and was perfect to get the crowd ready for the upcoming bands.
20140513_193042
After a surprisingly short changeover of only about 15 minutes, Venice Beach crossover lord’s Suicidal Tendencies took the stage. With vocalist asking, “Kansas City, what the fuck is going on around here?!” they launched into “You Can’t Bring Me Down” and spent their hour-or-so set providing the most melodic and fun music of the night. Suicidal Tendencies came from the California hardcore punk scene, so their music has a bit more in common with bands like The Dead Kennedys than Slayer, but their later-album songs introduced a great deal of thrash metal to their sound and caused a ruckus in the underground scene back in the 80s. Suicidal focused mainly on their second album “Join the Army” (Possessed to Skate, War Inside My Head) and their third album “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today” (Trip At The Brain, Pledge Your Allegiance). Suicidal Tendencies has slowly been climbing back into the public eye with a lot of touring and licensing of their songs out to various forms of media. They still bring an amazing skate punk/thrash show despite being around for over 30 years, and that alone is cause for moshing celebrations.
It seems like headliners Slayer never stay away from the Kansas City area for too long. Their last legitimate headlining US tour in 2007 was at Memorial Hall and their appearances on the Mayhem Festival in 2009 and 201 along with their co-headlining tour with Megadeth in 2012 all hit Sandstone (or Capitol Federal, Or Cricket Wireless, or whatever it is now) Amphitheater. Thankfully, it seems the Kansas City crowd hasn’t grown weary of Slayer just yet. On this particular tour, Gary Holt of Exodus was replacing the late, great Jeff Hanneman on guitars and Paul Bostaph, their drummer from 1992 to 2001, replaced Dave Lombardo behind the kit. Both performed their duties quite admirably and no one could really tell the difference. A huge difference, though, came in the choice of songs to perform. Slayer played 19 songs last night, but not a single song was released past 1991. The first five Slayer albums are almost universally proclaimed as some of the best heavy metal albums ever made, and to get 19 cuts off those is almost unheard of for Slayer in this day and age. Some highlights were undoubtedly “Chemical Warfare” and “Captor of Sin” off the 1984 “Haunting the Chapel” EP and “The Antichrist” and “Black Magic,” two rare cuts off their 1983 debut album “Show No Mercy.” It was a classic night for a classic band with a classic crowd in attendance.
- See more at: http://millsrecordcompany.com/hell-awaits-slayer-live-kansas-city-05132014#sthash.X7AC0agb.dpuf
What can be said about Slayer that hasn’t already been beaten to death by millions of fans over three decades? They’re possibly the most universally loved (and loathed after a certain point) metal band all the world over, and it’s not such a far stretch to argue that Slayer is the most important and influential heavy metal band of all time. Last night, the loudest and fastest of the Big Four of Thrash Metal made their way to the Uptown Theater in Kansas City for a night of evil speed supported by crossover legends Suicidal Tendencies and one of the few bands to predate Slayer, the inimitable Exodus.
Opening the show to an already large and loud crowd was Exodus, the Bay Area band that, while coming to prominence at the same time as Metallica and Slayer, never quite reached the same level of popularity as their contemporaries. Perhaps that has put a chip on their shoulder, because Exodus comes out fast and doesn’t let up. Frontman Rob Dukes is a far cry from classic Exodus vocalist Paul Baloff, choosing to have a more harsh style of singing than Paul’s melodic style, but it works well – especially when performing later-era Exodus songs, such as the mid-paced thrasher “War Is My Shepherd.” Of course, Exodus’ most popular album is their first, “Bonded By Blood” and the majority of their 30-minute set was dedicated to that album. The crowd responded with lots of headbanging and huge circle pits. Exodus’ ode to the circle pit, “The Toxic Waltz” incited one of the biggest of the night. Their set was full of energy and was perfect to get the crowd ready for the upcoming bands.
20140513_193042
After a surprisingly short changeover of only about 15 minutes, Venice Beach crossover lord’s Suicidal Tendencies took the stage. With vocalist asking, “Kansas City, what the fuck is going on around here?!” they launched into “You Can’t Bring Me Down” and spent their hour-or-so set providing the most melodic and fun music of the night. Suicidal Tendencies came from the California hardcore punk scene, so their music has a bit more in common with bands like The Dead Kennedys than Slayer, but their later-album songs introduced a great deal of thrash metal to their sound and caused a ruckus in the underground scene back in the 80s. Suicidal focused mainly on their second album “Join the Army” (Possessed to Skate, War Inside My Head) and their third album “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today” (Trip At The Brain, Pledge Your Allegiance). Suicidal Tendencies has slowly been climbing back into the public eye with a lot of touring and licensing of their songs out to various forms of media. They still bring an amazing skate punk/thrash show despite being around for over 30 years, and that alone is cause for moshing celebrations.
It seems like headliners Slayer never stay away from the Kansas City area for too long. Their last legitimate headlining US tour in 2007 was at Memorial Hall and their appearances on the Mayhem Festival in 2009 and 201 along with their co-headlining tour with Megadeth in 2012 all hit Sandstone (or Capitol Federal, Or Cricket Wireless, or whatever it is now) Amphitheater. Thankfully, it seems the Kansas City crowd hasn’t grown weary of Slayer just yet. On this particular tour, Gary Holt of Exodus was replacing the late, great Jeff Hanneman on guitars and Paul Bostaph, their drummer from 1992 to 2001, replaced Dave Lombardo behind the kit. Both performed their duties quite admirably and no one could really tell the difference. A huge difference, though, came in the choice of songs to perform. Slayer played 19 songs last night, but not a single song was released past 1991. The first five Slayer albums are almost universally proclaimed as some of the best heavy metal albums ever made, and to get 19 cuts off those is almost unheard of for Slayer in this day and age. Some highlights were undoubtedly “Chemical Warfare” and “Captor of Sin” off the 1984 “Haunting the Chapel” EP and “The Antichrist” and “Black Magic,” two rare cuts off their 1983 debut album “Show No Mercy.” It was a classic night for a classic band with a classic crowd in attendance.
- See more at: http://millsrecordcompany.com/hell-awaits-slayer-live-kansas-city-05132014#sthash.X7AC0agb.dpuf

Friday, April 25, 2014

Iron Reagan -- Lawrence, KS -- April 24th, 2014

"We're going to play 37 songs, so we'll be done in about 15 minutes."

Iron Reagan may not have hit the 37-song mark Thursday night at the Replay Lounge in Lawrence, but they came close and had a rambunctious time doing it.

Iron Reagan is a four-piece crossover hardcore/thrash band from Richmond, VA featuring members of Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour. Their music is the aggressiveness of old-school hardcore bands like Spazz and Black Flag, but with the riffing and fun demeanor of current thrash bands, like the aforementioned Municipal Waste. The band was in good (and drunken) spirits for the whole show - only the drums were set up on the stage, everyone else was out on the floor of the Replay Lounge, sometimes even venturing into the mosh pit to perform. The band ripped through at least twenty songs in half an hour - maybe more - which included songs like "Eat Shit And Live," "Snake Chopper," and the 7-second opus "Your Kid's An Asshole," which the band performed twice in a row. In fact, Iron Reagan performed the first five songs from their recent 4 1/2 minute EP "Spoiled Identity." Vocalist Tony Forresta exclaimed heavy metal magazine commissioned them for something 5-minutes long to include with an issue of the magazine. "Most band's give them one song, we gave them 13." Near the end of the set, Iron Reagan performed a cover of "Don't Tread On Me" by Cro-Mags, and from the first note of that song, the Replay was a battleground for 90 seconds. Personally, I've never seen a venue go from mild enjoyment to complete and utter chaos in such a short time before. The band ended their set with Tony Forresta chucking his mic at the speaker, pulling down part of the Replay's ceiling and dismantling the drummer's kit in a true punk rock fashion. Certainly one of the most memorable shows the Replay has had in quite some time.

Touring with Iron Reagan is their fellow Richmond friends in Occultist. Occultist, with their two guitars and one extremely thick bass, had a much heavier sound that Iron Reagan - they play a very crusty style of death/thrash metal, almost like Amebix or even Extreme Noise Terror. Again, most of the band was set up on the floor and vocalist K.Z. was out in the crowd, pushing the punk's in attendance to start some moshing. Occultist had very heavy riffs and even some pretty impressive guitar solos - a great contrast to the simple (yet infectious) bands they were sandwiched between.

Opening the show was Vomit Assault, the crust warriors from Lawrence. Vomit Assault looks like they should play solely Discharge covers, but their sound was very unique - there were definitely its crust punk moments, but most of the songs (mostly 7 - 9 minutes in length!) had elements of progressive, sludge and heavy metal in them, including some pretty original melodies coming from the bassist and guitar player. They play both styles, metal and punk, pretty nicely, and not a whole lot of bands can do that. Interesting stuff from a great local band!

Iron Reagan: 9/10
Occultist: 9/10
Vomit Assault: 7.5/10

Iron Reagan included (some songs missing):

Mini Lights
Drop The Gun
Insanity Plea(se)
Walking Out
Paycheck
Snake Chopper
Tongue Tied
The Living Skull
I'm Regret
Zero Gain
One Shovel Short Of A Funeral
Cycle Of Violence
I Ripped That Testament A New Asshole
Your Kid's An Asshole (x2)
Don't Tread On Me (Cro-Mags cover)
Eat Shit And Live

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Earth -- Kansas City, MO -- April 1st, 2014

To the uninitiated, Earth would look like just any other band. A three-piece with a modest set-up, some members with a few tattoos, and introducing themselves to the crowd and politely asking people to not use flash, but encouraging them to record the show. However, Dylan Carlson and company make up one of the most influential underground bands of the 90s heavy rock/metal scene. On a chilly Tuesday night at the recordBar in Westport, the band trudged through seven songs in 80 minutes to a crowd that was receptive to the music when they weren't zoned out in the droning riffs.

Earth is, has been, and always will be firmly rooted in drone metal. But within that planting, they dabble around in riffing and beats that are more Boris than Sunn O))). Speaking of Boris, opening song "Old Black" from the 2011 album "Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I" is proof that Carlson's guitar playing and song structures have directly influenced the Japanese band, namely the album "Flood." The band switched back and forth between old and new songs, performing three tracks off their upcoming album to be released in July. They seem a bit more darn and ambitious than their past few albums, especially on the new track "There Is A Serpent Coming." The rest of the set featured "Coda Mestoso In F (Flat) Minor" from 1996's "Pentastar: In The Style Of Demons," albeit with a reworked intro. Carlson joked that it was the last album of theirs before this upcoming album to feature vocals. The trio also performed "The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull" from the same-titled 2008 release, and ended with "Ouroboros Is Broken," which was far and away the heaviest song of the night, which is saying something when it comes to Earth.

Earth seemed to have reworked all of their songs into a live setting. Take "Ouroboros Is Broken" for example. Originally a 20-minute drone piece on a 1991 EP, it was later re-worked into an 8-minute track in 2007, however it was much softer there. Live, the band seemed to straddle the line between the two song lengths, but performed the song heavier than it has ever been recorded. The same can be said for "Coda Mestoso," a groovy, drone-y piece on album but absolutely crushing live. It's the sign of a great band - rework the songs for a live setting that can make fans appreciate both the recorded and the live versions. Not every band can pull this off, but Earth do it easily.

Opening the show was local band Expo '70. They were a perfect blend of Kyuss and Earthless - at times being very catchy heavy stoner rock before melting into a huge, long, psychedelic metal jam session. I'd heard of the band before but never got around to checking them out, but I might just have a new favorite local opening band. I haven't been this impressed with a first listen to a local band in a very, very long time.

1. Old Black
2. There Is A Serpent Coming (new song)
3. The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull
4. Rooks Across The Gate (new song)
5. Coda Maestoso In F (Flat) Minor (with re-worked intro)
6. Badger (new song)
7. Ouroboros Is Broken

Earth: 9/10
Expo '70: 8.5/10

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Terror -- Lawrence, KS -- March 26th, 2014

It might be a cliche now but last night at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, hardcore music fans came together and became one big family. One giant, aggressive, moshing, stage-diving and smiling family.

The "Fuck The Message" tour landed at The Bottleneck in the midst of a cold and rainy evening, but that didn't stop the mass of hardcore fans from coming out early to see the first band, Expire from Milwaukee. Expire's music fit in perfectly with Stick To Your Guns and Terror - short, extremely aggressive songs that make for great crowd scream-alongs, and punishing breakdowns that induce slam dancing and stage dives. Their song "Abyss" had the biggest crowd reaction, with the crowd dogpiling on Expire's vocalist to sing along. If an opening band's duty is to warm up the crowd, Expire may have done it so well that they stole some energy from the acts that followed.

The next couple of bands had more of a meldoic take on hardcore music. The first was Counterparts from Ontario. Although their music is definitely a take on hardcore, it was focused more on melodic riffing and even contained some clean vocals - the only of the night. The crowd seemed a bit more subdued for Counterparts, especially compared to Expire, but there was a small contingent of fans up against the stage singing along with every song.

After Counterparts was the South Carolina-based Hundredth. Hundredth is a band that has blown up in popularity in a very niche-genre of melodic hardcore. Again, they performed with a lot of melody and more emphasis on riffing and vocals. They had a bit more reception from the crowd, especially on their final song "Desolate," which is probably their most straight-forward hardcore song. Lots of singing along and hardcore dancing for that one.

It's been a while since Los Angeles' Terror has been around these parts - they opened for Suicidal Tendencies in Kansas City back in 2008 and the 10 for $10 tour at the Midland with a myriad of bands, but that's it. Their reception was frenzies from before the first song even started. Frontman Scott Vogel is legendary in the hardcore scene for his crowd interaction, and that night was no different. Between songs, he'd get the crowd to move in, but made sure everyone knew there would be no violence and no fights tonight. "Friendly aggression" is what he called it. More than once, he reiterated that the stage was as much the crowd's as it was the band's, and the crowd took that to heart. During "Stick Tight" it seemed there were more people in the air stage diving than were on the floor at The Bottleneck. At one point, people were using the crowd-surfers near the front of the stage as launching points for their stage dives. It was truly insane, but everyone had smiles and were high-fiving and hugging each other throughout the show. Terror ripped through classic songs like "Out Of My Face," "Spit My Rage," and the old-school "Push It Away." It was far and away the most energetic, active, and absolutely crazy crowd that a Lawrence or Kansas City show has had in a very, very long time.

It was Scott Vogel's 40th birthday that night and he said that he believes in the power of hardcore. He believes that it can bring everyone together, no matter the race, religion, hair-length or anything else, and everyone can release some pent-up aggression for a couple of hours. It seems like Lawrence gave him the best birthday present he could ask for - a perfect hardcore show with the perfect hardcore audience.

Stick To Your Guns:
Diamond
Empty Heads
Against Them All
Some Kind if Hope
Bringing You Down
What Goes Around
We Still Believe
The Bond
Life In a Box
Such Pain
D(I am)ond
Built Upon The Sand
This Is More
Amber
Terror:
Out Of My Face
Stick Tight
Spit My Rage
Push It Away
You’re Caught
Live By The Code
Your Enemies Are Mine
Always The Hard Way
Keep Your Mouth Shut
Keepers Of The Faith
Hundredth:
Weathered Town
Carry On
Demons
Ruin
Free Mind/Open Spirit
Desolate
Counterparts:
Witness
(You Think You’re) John Fucking Locke
Slave
Outlier
Reflection
The Disconnect
Compass
Expire :
Bark
Anchor
Reputation
YDN
Anxiety
Spit It Out
Pretty Low
Abyss
Focus
Just Fine
- See more at: http://millsrecordcompany.com/caught-mosh-terror-live-lawrence-ks-03262014#sthash.kGKfl7x0.dpuf
 Stick To Your Guns:

Diamond
Empty Heads
Against Them All
Some Kind if Hope
Bringing You Down
What Goes Around
We Still Believe
The Bond
Life In a Box
Such Pain
D(I am)ond
Built Upon The Sand
This Is More
Amber

Terror:

Out Of My Face
Stick Tight
Spit My Rage
Push It Away
You’re Caught
Live By The Code
Your Enemies Are Mine
Always The Hard Way
Keep Your Mouth Shut
Keepers Of The Faith

Hundredth:

Weathered Town
Carry On
Demons
Ruin
Free Mind/Open Spirit
Desolate

Counterparts:

Witness
(You Think You’re) John Fucking Locke
Slave
Outlier
Reflection
The Disconnect
Compass

Expire :

Bark
Anchor
Reputation
YDN
Anxiety
Spit It Out
Pretty Low
Abyss
Focus
Just Fine

Terror: 10/10 (best crowd I've ever seen at a show)
Hundredth: 7/10
Counterparts: 6/10
Expire: 8/10 
Stick To Your Guns:
Diamond
Empty Heads
Against Them All
Some Kind if Hope
Bringing You Down
What Goes Around
We Still Believe
The Bond
Life In a Box
Such Pain
D(I am)ond
Built Upon The Sand
This Is More
Amber
Terror:
Out Of My Face
Stick Tight
Spit My Rage
Push It Away
You’re Caught
Live By The Code
Your Enemies Are Mine
Always The Hard Way
Keep Your Mouth Shut
Keepers Of The Faith
Hundredth:
Weathered Town
Carry On
Demons
Ruin
Free Mind/Open Spirit
Desolate
Counterparts:
Witness
(You Think You’re) John Fucking Locke
Slave
Outlier
Reflection
The Disconnect
Compass
Expire :
Bark
Anchor
Reputation
YDN
Anxiety
Spit It Out
Pretty Low
Abyss
Focus
Just Fine
- See more at: http://millsrecordcompany.com/caught-mosh-terror-live-lawrence-ks-03262014#sthash.kGKfl7x0.dpuf

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Between The Buried And Me -- Lawrence, KS -- March 7th, 2014

This isn't your grandpa's progressive music.

Between The Buried And Me headlined a progressive music package at the Granada Friday night that included three other bands that are continually pushing the package for conventional music, and ever pushing the "progressive" moniker to places it hasn't been before. A very full Granada Theater was extremely receptive of all four bands, filled with lots of singing, lots of moshing and lots of smiling faces.

The first band of the night was Canada's The Kindred. The Kindred is normally a progressive metal band in the vein of Last Chance to Reason and maybe even Protest The Hero. However, they were performing without their vocalist, so everything was instrumental. Their performance without vocals didn't take anything away from them at all, and actually might've even benefited them in some places. Definitely a modern take on progressive music, they combined the breakdowns and palm-muted riffing of djent with the technicality of guitar solos and keyboards to great effect. However, it seemed like without their vocalist, the music was catchy enough to stand on its own for a bit, but it was obvious the songs were written to have a singer carry it along. They didn't have the outrageous riffing or heaviness that Animals As Leaders has, but they could get there if they wanted to. A respectable first band of the night.

California's Intronaut was up next, and personally it was my first time seeing them since 2008 with High on Fire at the Bottleneck. They've changed since then, mellowing out a bit and really embracing the stoner and progressive sides of their music. Their half-hour set included mostly cuts from their latest album "Habitual Levitations." The song "Milk Leg" showcased their incredible bassist - he even had a couple of solo's during their performance. Definitely one of the highlights of the set. Overall, Intronaut was a different kind of heavy from the rest of the night, but their sound was very welcome.

There isn't a more polarizing metal band today than Deafheaven, but you wouldn't have noticed it at this concert. As soon as the band started their opening song "Dream House," the crowd barely let up with moshing and headbanging. At one point during the song, vocalist George Clarke hopped down into the crowd and everyone screamed along with him. Deafheaven's set comprised of material solely from their latest album "Sunbather," which took the metal music world by storm last year. Deafheaven is obviously influenced by shoegaze and post-rock bands such as Explosions in the Sky and My Bloody Valentine, but the majority of their sound is extreme, blast-beat laden and shrieked-vocals black metal that they do just as good as the Norwegian masters of the genre. George Clarke is one of the most impressive frontmen I've ever seen, not only from his impeccable black metal vocal abilities, but he was constantly bounding around the stage, acting like a man possessed. An explosive performance and the best of the night.

Between The Buried And Me are at the center of this new-school progressive metal movement, and they proved it Friday night by performing all of their new album, The Parallax II: Future Sequence, which has enough twists and turns to make even the staunchest of Dream Theater supporters' heads spin. However, for the uninitiated, playing through all of their latest album might be too much. "Parallax II" might be the band's most ambitious release yet, with interludes and movements-within-movements everywhere and music genres going from metalcore to death metal to pop music to everything in between in the span of one song. Luckily for BTBAM, they have some of the most talented musicians around today to keep things interesting for those not vested heavily in their music. Guitarist Paul Waggoner and bassist Dan Briggs provide enough jaw-dropping moments per song that is worth the price of admission alone. There were several moments during BTBAM's set that stood out from the rest, particularly the songs "Telos," "Lay Your Ghosts To Rest," and "Silent Flight Parliament." However, the encore performance of the brilliant "Sun of Nothing" from the equally brilliant "Colors" album further cemented it as maybe the best progressive metal song of the 2000's.

All in all, the lineup of this tour is proof that progressive metal is no longer just confined to Rush and Dream Theater and is quickly moving to the heavier side of things. Based on the performances from all four bands, that's undoubtedly a good thing.

BTBAM:

1. Goodbye To Everything
2. Astral Body
3. Lay Your Ghosts To Rest
4. Autumn
5. Extremophile Elite
6. Parllax
7. The Black Box
8. Telos
9. Bloom
10. Melting City
11. Silent Flight Parliament
12. Goodbye To Everything Reprise
====
13. Sun of Nothing

Deafheaven:

1. Dream House
2. Irresistible (over PA)
3. Sunbather
4. The Pecan Tree

Intronaut:

1. The Literal Black Cloud
2. Vernon
3. Harmonomicon
4. Milk Leg
5. The Welding

Between the Buried and Me: 7.5/10
Deafheaven: 10/10
Intronaut: 8/10
The Kindred: 7.5/10

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Amon Amarth -- Lawrence, KS -- February 9th, 2014

"Oden! Guide our ships
Our axes, spears and swords
Guide us through storms that whip
And in brutal war"

These lines from Amon Amarth's "The Pursuit Of Vikings" were chanted so loudly by a packed house at the Granada on Sunday night that people passing by the venue outside might have mistaken it for a Viking rally from Valhalla itself.

The Swedish melodic death metal band may just be the most popular and recognizable foreign death metal band right now, and the passionate crowd attests to that. From the second they took the stage to the last note of the final song, Amon Amarth had everyone at the Granada in the palm of their hand. Whether it was their punishing opening song "Father Of The Wolf," the subdued "Cry Of The Blackbirds," or the absolutely punishing "Destroyer Of The Universe," the five Norsemen on stage were greeted with plenty of headbanging, crowdsurfing and singalongs to whichever song they performed. It's a rare thing for a metal band to get such a raucous reception to both old songs and new. One of the biggest crowd reactions was from the title track of the band's 2008 album "Twilight Of The Thunder God" - the crowd just about sang half the song on their own.

Frontman Johan Hegg had a giant smile on his face every time a crowd surfer went over the barrier. At one point, a little kid came over the barrier and Johan just grinned and gave him a thumbs up. The guys in Amon Amarth might look like terrifying Vikings, but they just wanted everyone to have a good time. The band performed for over an hour and a half and hit songs from six of their eight albums and sounded perfect the entire time. One of the best pure death metal performances the Granada has seen in a long time.

For most people when this tour was announced, the support band Enslaved was the main reason to get excited. Norway's Enslaved doesn't tour the United States nearly as much as Amon Amarth, but it's a mystery why not. Starting off as one of the main bands of the second wave of black metal out of Norway (along the likes of Mayhem, Darkthrone, Satyricon, etc.), Enslaved now injects a healthy dose of progressive and psychedelic music into their music. It was evident on songs like "Death In The Eyes Of Dawn" and "Ruun" that the band has evolved so far from their beginning black metal stage. However, when the band played "Allfaðr Oðinn" off their 1992 demo Yggdrasil - older than many of the fans in attendance that night, they showed that they can still belt out fast, evil black metal with the best of them. Enslaved's performance was just magic. Maybe it was the inclusion of some clean vocals and keyboards or maybe it was frontman Grutle Kjellson's drawing of runes in the air during songs that just made them so fascinating to watch, but they were the best band of the night. Truly a sight to behold!

The lone American band on the tour was none other than Ohio's Skeletonwitch. Their brand of blackened thrash metal (with just about every other type of metal mixed in) served as the perfect combination to get the show kicked off at maximum speed. Their first album is a landmark of recent American thrash metal, but more recent songs like "Beneath Dead Leaves" and "Crushed Beyond Dust" show that Skeletonwitch only gets faster and heavier with time. Their set closer "Within My Blood" is also quite possibly the greatest closing song in live music history. A swirling torrent of riffs and headbanging - the type of metal to throw some beer to!

The sound was nearly perfect the entire night - everything was mixed great and was loud, as metal should be! All three bands put on amazing performances and left the crazy crowd satisfied. The town of Jayhawks left that night as true viking warriors!

 Amon Amarth (9:30 - 11:00):

Father Of The Wolf
Deceiver Of The Gods
Death In Fire
For Victory Or Death
As Loke Falls
We Shall Destroy
Runes To My Memory
Varyags of Miklagaard
Last Stand of Frej
Guardians Of Asgaard
Shape Shifter
Warriors Of The North
Destroyer Of The Universe
Cry Of The Blackbirds
War of the Gods
====
Twilight Of The Thunder God
The Pursuit Of Vikings

Enslaved (8:15 - 9:00):

Death In The Eyes Of Dawn
Ruun
Ethica Odini
RIITIIR
Allfaðr Oðinn
Isa

Skeletonwitch (7:30 - 7:58):

The Horrifying Force (The Desire To Kill)
I Am Of Death (Hell Has Arrived)
Burned From Bone
Sacrifice For The Slaughtergod
Beyond the Permafrost
From A Cloudless Sky
Crushed Beyond Dust
Beneath Dead Leaves
Within My Blood

Amon Amarth: 8/10
Enslaved: 9.5/10
Skeletonwitch: 9/10