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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
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