Concert Review – The Haunted @ the Opera House

Alright, in my tradition this week of writing reviews immediately after the show while slightly intoxicated I will say this, The Haunted fucking rule.  And it’s not just the beer.

Craig and I arrived at the venue around 8.  We were thinking we were gonna be late because there were no openers listed for this gig at all.  Napalm Death opened the last show, someone else the one after this, but no listing for Toronto, so we’re like “Maybe it’s just gonna be the Haunted?”. Not fucking likely.  We show up and there’s a band already on.  It’s Deathcore. Immediately recognizable (for me) as soon as I enter the venue.  (dugguhduhdunduhdugga… Roar Roar Roar Roar Roar… dugguhduhdunduhdugga etc.)  It’s was “The Bloodshot Eye”.  Female vocalist no less.  I must say, she had a decent growl.  The music left a lot to be desired though, maybe I just don’t get the Deathcore genre? What is so musical and creative about sounding like a formal metal genre?  I know it’s not-traditional by any sense (yet) but it’s still templated around specific pre-conceived musical ideas in metal.  So many Deathcore singers sound alike.  There are techniques that they use when growling which might as well be straight out of a Deathcore vocal theory textbook.  It’s just ridiculous and scenesterish sometimes.  Try something else, please.  This was only the beginning.

Our backs were getting tired leaning against this railing so I ask Craig “Wanna go up to the balcony?” and his eyes lit up with glee.   We soon find out the balcony is closed.  Due to what you may ask? You motherfuckers not knowing about the fucking Haunted and not buying fucking a ticket to this show! It was undersold, so they closed off upstairs to keep everyone packed together on the floor.  Makes the club seem fuller.  Makes sense.  So I continue to drink while The Agonist is setting up. Woe is me.

The Agonist is another Deathcore band from Montreal. However, they add melodic vocals for the majority of the chorus’.  How original. They were fairly tight, I maybe remembered 3 of their songs.  But the majority of the set seemed like they were going through the motions a bit, and the singer (another female vocalist), did the Deathcore thing, just like the last band, but seemed to have a built in switch for going into melodic singing.  She immediately transitioned growling into melody, which is quite difficult.  But I noticed she seemed to be tiring toward the end of the set, losing key a few times.   Also the growling almost always over-powered her singing parts.  I hope she can find her proper technique so she doesn’t lose her voice or damage her chords by blowing too much air on the growls, it can be fatal for a singer like that over time.   The Agonist has potential, I wish them well.

Craig and I had migrated to a table and hoped for the best with the next band.  Merauder are the culprits.  The New York natives blasted through their set with little issues, their music doesn’t really do it for me, but they were dialed in.  Anyone into the genre should check them out.

I predicted that my friend John would show up just as The Haunted were coming on stage, and he almost proved me right by appearing about 3/4’s of the way through Merauder.  We all shot the shit about Zombies for a while and then all of a sudden, the stage went dark.  It’s now time for The Haunted. What we had agonized in anticipation over for the last two hours.

All guns blazing, the Haunted blasted through the openers masterfully. I couldn’t help headbanging to pretty much everything.  The beer helped with that.  After a few tunes, John and I headed down to the pit, or just outside of it.   We were chuckling about this guy in a camo shirt who was just shit-faced. We had seen him air guitaring like crazy in front of our table near the back earlier, his girlfriend having nothing to do with him.  He had now made it to the pit with us and was attempting to cause human destruction anyway he could.  I imagine he was quite unsuccessful, other than the damage he had inflicted upon himself I’m sure, but at least this amused John and I.  All the while the Haunted were just ripping it up.  They interacted with audience members at the front of the stage, cracking jokes and generally just easing the tension in the room.  They really harnessed the energy from the crowd (cliche I know).  But they really did, they looked like veterans of the stage. They made the night worthwhile.

Towards the end of the show we encountered an unfortunate incident where John got blindsided by some drunk idiot from the pit and split his lip, but he sucked it up.  It’s the price you pay sometimes for decent metal.  It makes people crazy.  Maybe that’s a sub-conscious reason for me starting to do Muay Thai? Who knows 😉  This kind of marked the end of the evening for us, we went home wounded but grateful.  John even reminded me of his show coming up next Wednesday! I can’t miss that gig, his band Ball Harness is playing with Bison BC at the Annex Wreckroom and it is gonna be the shit!  I urge all of my readers to come check out some nice Canadian good o’l dirty Rock n Roll in downtown Toronto, and you will not be disappointed!

Until my next musical expedition, I’m going to fucking bed.

Jon

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Concert Review – The Rosebuds @ Lee’s Palace

After a bite to eat just down the street at Mel’s Delicatessan, we headed to the show hoping that we don’t hit a huge line-up and have to wait outside the venue for a while before the show starts.  As we approached the venue, it was deserted.  We have the right night right?  We aren’t completely absent minded are we? I check the tickets and the show is indeed tonight.  We wander towards the entrance and there’s a lone security guard waiting inside. Robyn and I casually head through the checkpoints and make it inside the venue, only to confirm our suspicions.  We are the only ones there.  So what do we do? We sit along the benches for a while, kind of examining the place.  It’s Lee’s, it has kind of an interesting mystique to it.  It’s a small venue in the city but it has a good character.  The few times I’ve seen shows there it’s always been memorable somehow.

But there’s no one walking around at all?  Where is everyone? Who booked this show anyways? I thought these guys were a great band? How come no one is coming to see them? Baffling.  Nick calls.  We let him know of the situation and decide a better course of action will be to head around the corner and kill off an hour or so over some rounds.  Green room.  At 10 to 10, we’re back at Lee’s.

The place has filled a little more since we first arrived, but still only contains maybe 30 people.  The mood is relaxed as we walk in, and the opening band is finishing their set.  We learn later that the bassist/programmer is also a performing member of the Rosebuds.  Unfortunately the band name escapes me, but the openers had a distinct ambient quality to their sound.  Very down tempo.  The moment I caught from them was quite beautiful.  Very precise in execution, and they harnessed every nuance of the sounds they were making, going from soundscape improvisation into a down-tempo, lyrical, folk-like crescendo to finish their set.  That’s all we saw, but it certainly excited the senses.

The Rosebuds hit the stage about 25 minutes later.  At first I was appehensive to see how they would handle such a small group, but they seemed comfortable.  They immediately came in with strong numbers, and engaging the crowd in between songs.  With a crowd this small it’s almost as if you need to talk to people one on one, and sometimes it seemed like that.  But it helped brighten the mood for everyone even more, and it seemed to translate to the band as well. They continued through their setlist well, their sounds were quite polished and well-rehearsed, and they continued candidly speaking with the crowd more and more throughout the set, which did great things for the atmosphere in the venue.  Towards the end of the set, members of the opening band began to participate and Kelly started to bring her instruments into the crowd to interact with the audience. This eventually broke down into an acoustic jam circle on the floor of the venue.  This brought everyone’s mood up.  Everyone in the venue got involved on the floor, and everyone sang along with the instructions from the band and danced in sequence together.  They played 3 songs like this to close the set and left everyone going home happy.   There are very few times that I get to experience such a candid performance from a band, and this was great fun.  It only helped me gain more interest in their music and I loved their attitude towards the show.  Entertaining people really is what live music is about and it was great to see a band interact with their fans on such an intimate level.  This was a show I wont forget.

The Rosebuds – Life Like

Look out for a live video from the gig coming very soon.

Jon

Music Review – Mastodon – Crack the Skye

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed anything so here I go. I’ll try not to be too biased with this one.

Mastodon are back again from near destruction with their latest ‘Crack the Skye’. I was in anticipation for this for many months dating back even to last year, this band had grown on me considerably since I first discovered them a few years ago, back when all I had of theirs was Leviathan.

The album comes on the heels of co-lead guitarist and vocalist Brent Hinds battle with a serious head-trauma injury sustained after an inebriated post-award show beatdown by Shavo Odadjian of System of a Down (allegedely). This caused Hinds to suffer from a serious case of vertigo and amnesia of the incident for about 8 months, forcing him to sit at home for the most part, only to compose with his guitar while he waited to get back to full health. This exile however, seems to have been of great assistance to the quality and creativity of this album.

I wont go into every track on the record but I will describe some significant ones.

Crack the Skye opens with the track Oblivion which is a solid-opener by their standards. It is somewhat taken-aback from previous offerings, reigning in the Thrash elements a bit and allowing for a more melodic and progressive nature, this is a recurring motif throughout the album. Brent said it best when he described the record as being their “Led Zeppelin 4”, as the bands seems to have taken quite a bit of an influence from the 70’s British Rock superstars, with lots more bluesy guitar solos and melodies.

Track 2 is the single “Divinations”. Another solid track which continues with what Oblivion started. This song has a great video too, with Hinds as the Abomonibal snow/cave man who kills and devours his band mates (who are the search crew for Hinds in the snowy mountains.) There’s nothing quite like Death by guitar.

The album continues with a constant momentum, progressive, melodic and heavy, with signature Mastodon riffs and chord progressions throughout. Although they take a few steps out of their usual realm, with the addition of keyboardist Rich Morris on several tracks who adds an interesting dynamic to their sound.

The lyrics on the album are said to be of concept, (which can be said of the music as well, most of the tracks seemlessly flow together.) They are supposedly primarily about Dailor’s sister Skye who tragically took her own life in her teen years, despite previous rumours that the album was a Rasputin concept. However I think they are isolated in certain songs, for instance ‘Crack the Skye’ obviously being about Dailor’s sister and ‘The Last Baron’ likely the to be referencing the Russian. The former track features guest vocals by Neurosis frontman Scott Kelly, returning again, previously appearing on their last album ‘Blood Mountain’. Along with Sanders & Hinds, drummer Brann Dailor is a large contributor to the lyrics of most, if not all of Mastodon’s albums and this one is no different. In viewing their ‘making of’ documentary he is seen working with both singers in the studio.

Mastodon have never had great vocal techniques on any of their albums, but ‘Crack the Skye’ is definitely their best yet in that regard. The same cannot be said of the instrumentals, which are masterful from all members.

With Brendan O’Brien behind the boards for the first time, he doesn’t seem to have tampered much with the band’s signature sound, and has done a good job maintaining the integrity of the songs.

Overall this is a great record start to finish, and the best Mastodon has ever done in my opinion. I can’t wait to check them out on tour this spring.

4.5/5 Stars

– Jon