Unearth / Darkest Hour / August Burns Red / Suicide Silence
Monday, October 15, 2007
The Croatian Cultural Centre
Vancouver, BC Canada
***Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland
This was a different bill for me as I had not heard any music from two of the four bands at all, plus I had to miss the headlinerâ€”Unearthâ€”altogether due to pulling double duty covering the later-starting Arch Enemy show at another venue across town. Suicide Silence is a relatively new band of very young guys from California whose deathcore assault parallels Job For A Cowboy and Despised Icon. August Burns Red is a Christian tech-core band hailing from Pennsylvania, while metalcore pioneers Darkest Hour and Unearth rounded out the bill.
Moved to the smaller of the two rooms (AKA the beer garden) in The Croatian Cultural Centre, the venue was quite full already as Suicide Silence hit the stage at 7:00PM. Suicide Silence is Century Media Recordsâ€™ latest golden child and their debut full-length, THE CLEANSING, which came out September 18th, became the highest-charting (#94 on Billboard Top 200 Chart) debut album by any artist on that label. The bandâ€™s brutally-heavy deathcore seems as far away as possible from Billboardâ€™s popular fare but somehow these guys left a historical mark with their gurgled vocals, grinding riffs and hyperblasting. Mitch Lucker alternates between pig squeals and guttural gurgles in his vocal delivery and as mind-boggling as it is how a human generates these sounds, they remain pretty standard for the genre. Guitarists Chris Garza and Mark Heylman provided lots of pinched harmonics and crunching riffs to please the metal crowd, while the rhythm section of Mike Bodkins and Alex Lopez locked into a seemingly endless string of breakdowns that had the hardcore contingent swirling their arms and punching the floor. Peppering the intros of their songs with clips from The Family Guy TV show was an instant hit with the mostly underage crowd who seemed well-versed in the bandâ€™s music. Myself, having only previously heard the now-banned-by-MTV track, â€œThe Price of Beauty,â€ went into Suicide Silenceâ€™s set blind but they are definitely one of the new buzz bands worth checking out for fans of Despised Icon and Job For A Cowboy.
SUICIDE SILENCE SETLIST
Bludgeoned To Death
The Price of Beauty
No Pity For A Coward
Destruction of A Statue
Next to passing experiences with Zao and Norma Jean at various shows over the years, my knowledge of the Christian metalcore genre is non-existent. I was definitely in the minority, though, as many in the crowd seemed to know every word of every song August Burns Red trotted out in their six-song, half-hour set. I was immediately taken aback as the band took the stage and convened around Matt Greinerâ€™s drumkit for an arm-in-arm, bowed-head group prayer. A dull hush fell over the crowd and a couple morons made smart-ass remarks but it was a bit surprising to see a metal band so openly display their faith on stage to a crowd. That aside, the band ripped through an energetic set drawn from their new album, MESSENGERS, as well as their 2005 full-length debut, THRILL SEEKER. Again, having never heard any of August Burns Redâ€™s music before this show, it is impossible to really comment with any depth on the songs. Still, even the uninitiated cannot deny the fact that Jake Luhrs is a charismatic frontman and fearsome screamer. â€œBack Burnerâ€ really smokes and â€œYour Little Suburbia Is In Ruinsâ€ boats liberal doses of technical guitar flair from Brent Rambler and JB Brubaker. Based on the crowdâ€™s reaction, these guys are definitely respected and if you can get past the overt religious overtones and focus on the music, they are without question an enjoyable and engaging live act.
AUGUST BURNS RED SETLIST
Your Little Suburbia Is In Ruins
The Eleventh Hour
The Seventh Trumpet
As one of the forefathers of metalcore, Washington, D.C.â€™s Darkest Hour started out way back in 1996, long before the glut of bands currently raping the legacy of the melodic death metal/hardcore hybrid today were even thinking about picking up a guitar. It wasnâ€™t really until the Swedish lineage of 2003â€™s brilliant HIDDEN HANDS OF A SADIST NATION, though, that the band really began to flourish. Along with Unearthâ€™s THE ONCOMING STORM, As I Lay Dyingâ€™s FRAIL WORDS COLLAPSE and Killswitch Engageâ€™s ALIVE OR JUST BREATHING, HIDDEN HANDS OF A SADIST NATION is a genre-defining album that quickly laid the groundwork for what metalcore is today. On Darkest Hourâ€™s latest release, DELIVER US, the band has become a finely-tuned machine, with John Henryâ€™s blistering vocal attack and Kris Norrisâ€™ searing melodic death-inspired leads. The band has become somewhat of a staple in our city having recorded DELIVER US and 2005â€™s UNDOING RUIN here in Vancouver and their live shows are typically well-received by the locals. Having seen Darkest Hour live several times over the past four years, the band was definitely in top form here. The small room was illuminated by blinding, front-facing spotlights and the platforms erected for Norris, Henry and rhythm guitarist Mike Schleibaum to stand on made the band seem bigger than life. â€œDemon(s)â€ is easily the bandâ€™s catchiest track yet with a sing-songy chorus and Schleibaumâ€™s infectious riff that saw the crowd respond accordingly. â€œConvalescenceâ€ and â€œSound The Surrenderâ€ were received warmly, as well. Henry introduced â€œThis Will Outlive Usâ€ by saying â€œthis one starts out with a blistering guitar soloâ€ and he was not joking as Norris laid down an exercise in shredding that led to a frantic moshpit. â€œDoomsayer (The Beginning of The End)â€ is melodic death metal at its finest and shows Darkest Hour is far from running out of steam. Sadly, HIDDEN HANDS OF A SADIST NATION was largely forgotten except for one track. â€œPay Phones and Pillsâ€ and â€œMarching To The Killing Rhythmâ€ would have fit nicely and who wouldnâ€™t want to hear Darkest Hour jam out on the epic â€œVeritas, Aequitasâ€? Another headlining gig shouldnâ€™t be too far off so weâ€™ll have to wait it out, I suppose.
DARKEST HOUR SETLIST
Doomsayer (The Beginning of The End)
Sound The Surrender
Stand and Receive Your Judgment
This Will Outlive Us
With A Thousand Words To Say But One
The Sadist Nation
Despite missing Unearthâ€”a major disappointmentâ€”due to the rescheduling of the Arch Enemy show from Sunday to Monday, this show was a nice warm-up to the evening. By 9:15, I was back in the car and on my way downtown for the higher-profile show but it was great to hear some new talent and see some familiar faces once again, too.
***Thanks to Jessica at Live Nation for the press pass.