Contributing Writer: T. M. Iman
Another perfect Sunday wasted on watching a horrible Ravens game loss. I could have gone to the festival. I could have gone fishing. I could have had a day trip to Pennsylvania. I could have slow smoked a puppy. I could have went to the park. Instead, I went to the bar & wasted it on another humiliating Baltimore Ravens loss! To the goddam Cleveland Browns! At a home game!! Can anything save this day? Well, I do have all this housework to do. Maybe later. Besides, I’m still buzzing.
Phone rings. It’s my brother. “Hey dummy.”
“Hey ugly, what’s with you?”
“Ravens suck this year.”
“Yeah, I know. Whatchoo doing tonight?”
“Good, come down & meet me at Soundstage about 7, 7:30. We’re covering Atreyu tonight.”
“Atreyu, huh? Heavy!”
What better way to let of some steam than to listen to some angry metalcore!
So I went to my room, took off my purple and gold, put on my black and chrome, summoned an Uber and went to Mobtown’s biggest reason for tinnitus, Baltimore Soundstage, just in time for the melodic notes of the Devil’s favorite music to begin eating my soul away.
Yeah, I’m old school. Because immediately upon the second stanza, I notice this is another chick-fronted band. What is it with all these new metal bands that they must be fronted by a broad? Why does it seem every concert I go to these days has to have an opener that has a woman singer? It is certainly the latest fad in all heavy metal. A fad. You wnna metal band that stands out from others? Just put a babe in slutty make-up, fishnet and leather behind the center mic. It’s metal, so it won’t matter how she sings. Very few of these front-women are worthy of a Lita Ford. Yeah, I’m talking to you Evanescence.
Shauna Lisse of Malaki, however, is indeed worthy of such respect. I look forward to seeing her in Revolver’s 25 Hottest Chicks In Hard Rock & Heavy Metal one day. Her ferocious vocals make me wonder how she fits her lungs inside her tiny frame. The sound guy could have done a better job, as Lisse’s multi-octave voice had a difficult time coming through, noticeably pushing her to yell over the instruments rather than sing at times. After joining Malaki in August of 2014, Lisse left the quiet of Madison, Wisconsin for the loud rock lifestyle of a West Hollywood band that has constantly been performing and she seems to have fit in well. In that time, Malaki recorded & released their 3 song album The Blue and a recent performance at the famous Sunset Strip venue The Troubadour will be released on DVD October 20.
The entire band was heavy–very heavy– and they all performed with a great emotion full of metal spirit. Too bad they only did a 30 minute set; they left me wanting more. My only problem? The west coast sees Malaki perform often enough. We need them here on the east coast more!
Wovenwar Is a supergroup from San Diego California combining members of Oh, Sleeper and As I Lay Dying after…um…well…I won’t talk about that. Nope. Not from me.
Wovenwar was smooth, even with a bit of groove especially for metalcore, excellent melody and an awesome death growl from lead vocalist Shane Blay. Not surprisingly, Wovenwar sounds much like As I Lay Dying with a bit more of a deep, guttural beat.
If there is any complaint to nitpick, maybe Blay should watch how much he punctuates his lyrics with his karate chops. It’s very annoying. This ain’t an Atlanta Braves game, dude.
The energetic crowd loved this performance and the circle mosh proves Wovenwar rocked! They blasted! They killed! They…um, nevermind that last bit.
(So, do you really think that dude from AILD really tried to get his wife murdered?!?!)
I was surprised to find in my research that I had seen Unearth in my past. But why did I not recall them? Where in the back reaches of my mind could they be? I remember most everything that day.
It was July 30, 2011. Nissan Pavillion in Bristowe, VA.. Mayhem Festival. Headliners were Megadeth, Godsmack, and Disturbed. It was blazing hot that day with a UV index that could burn unprotected skin in minutes. Shade was snatched seconds after unoccupation. My hot water heater back home was on the fritz, but I was actually looking forward to a freezing cold shower when I returned to Baltimore. Too hot to drink beer, too hot to smoke a cigarette. Which worked because I was unemployed and broke at the time. I first experienced Trivium live that day on the Jägermeister Stage, and recall a great performance by Machine “Fuckin'” Head that was worthy of a Main Stage opener. Went to the show with a broad named Heather, who had the kindest sparkle in her eye, a sadness in her heart & the best MILF tits ever. After the show that night, we had a late night dinner at a greasy spoon diner in Fairfax, followed by a romantic detour past the scenic monuments & architecture of downtown Washington DC. To this day, the bitch still owes me for the price of that goddam concert ticket. Did I mention how hot it was that day?
When I saw Unearth again at Baltimore Soundstage, I understood why I had forgot about them. They are nothing worthy to remember. Every song sounds the same. Their overall stage presence has the air of an angry school boy with social issues; violent with no real reason backing why.
“Why did you break that, little boy?”
“Because I’m mad.”
“What are you mad at?”
When I must pick-up my co-worker, he describes the metal on my stereo as “angry music”. But I can see why listening to my favorite bands might make me want to pick up torches or pitchforks, raise a fist and yell at the town square. There is purpose backing such lyrical demonstration. Raise your fist & yell! Because of injustice, because of revolution, because of vengeance. Unearth is metaphorically & proverbially handing me a gun and telling me to shoot someone, but won’t say why I should. It’s violent, but I can’t understand why.
Trevor Phipps, unclean vocalist who resembles Cousin It “sings” with the graceful sound of a butter knife forgotten in a garbage disposal that is draining the last bit of soapy, murky dishwater. The drums were rythmic, but so fast in each song that all there is was fast playing just for fast drum sake. Think eppileptic seizures, rather than a riff. The guitars seem to want to be melodic, but their harmony is drowned out by a rythm section set to full automatic fire.
I understand here that I may be in the minority. Unearth had many fans at Soundstage throwing more horns than a Frederick County dairy farm. Perhaps I just don’t understand the appeal of Unearth. After 2 performances with nothing to really strike me about them, perhaps I’ll run into them again in a few years and forget about them.
Then came the time we had been waiting for; the return of Atreyu in Baltimore after years of absence. And their fans have been waiting.
And Atreyu delivered.
The show began with a song from their eponymous album Long Live, released just 3 weeks prior. Upon finish, road crew poured onto the stage to replace a bursted bass drum with a purpose of a NASCAR crew in Daytona.
And that was only Atreyu’s 1st song of the night!
If you needed more proof that Atreyu rocked thier best that they could, one only needed to hear the applause from fans, or those who could seemingly crowd surf all the way to Charles Street, or the crowd of horns and cellphones above the heads of the crowd, or the circle mosh that was like a Maytag washer stuck on the spin cycle. Atreyu promised their best performance and Baltimore gave Atreyu their loudest homecoming.
The biggest audience participation came when Atreyu performed the Glam Metal song “You Give Love A Bad Name” originally by Bon Jovi. Atreyu recorded this cover for their 2004 album The Curse. I may find it, oh, a bit odd that a metalcore band as great as Atreyu still play a Glam Metal song. Whatever the reason, you will never find a fan there that night that would call Atreyu “poseurs”.
Lead vocalist Alex Varkatzas sang unclean to drummer Brandon Saller’s clean vocals in a trade off that compares Linkin Park. Only heavy. With melody. And cool. Saller and bassist Marc McKnight tandemly pounded a deep Visigoth beat, while guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel traded awesome string play without stepping on each other’s toes. Together, they made their songs like Ex’s & Oh’s stand out in this live performance.
Long Live Atreyu indeed.