Unearth / Darkest Hour / August Burns Red / Suicide Silence Live In Vancouver – October 15, 2007

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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 headliner—Unearth—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 Records’ 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 band’s brutally-heavy deathcore seems as far away as possible from Billboard’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 band’s music.  Myself, having only previously heard the now-banned-by-MTV track, “The Price of Beauty,” went into Suicide Silence’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.

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 Greiner’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 Red’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.  “Back Burner” really smokes and “Your Little Suburbia Is In Ruins” boats liberal doses of technical guitar flair from Brent Rambler and JB Brubaker.  Based on the crowd’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. 

Your Little Suburbia Is In Ruins
The Eleventh Hour
Back Burner
The Seventh Trumpet

As one of the forefathers of metalcore, Washington, D.C.’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 wasn’t really until the Swedish lineage of 2003’s brilliant HIDDEN HANDS OF A SADIST NATION, though, that the band really began to flourish.  Along with Unearth’s THE ONCOMING STORM, As I Lay Dying’s FRAIL WORDS COLLAPSE and Killswitch Engage’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 Hour’s latest release, DELIVER US, the band has become a finely-tuned machine, with John Henry’s blistering vocal attack and Kris Norris’ searing melodic death-inspired leads.  The band has become somewhat of a staple in our city having recorded DELIVER US and 2005’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.  “Demon(s)” is easily the band’s catchiest track yet with a sing-songy chorus and Schleibaum’s infectious riff that saw the crowd respond accordingly.  “Convalescence” and “Sound The Surrender” were received warmly, as well.  Henry introduced “This Will Outlive Us” by saying “this one starts out with a blistering guitar solo” and he was not joking as Norris laid down an exercise in shredding that led to a frantic moshpit.  “Doomsayer (The Beginning of The End)” 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.  “Pay Phones and Pills” and “Marching To The Killing Rhythm” would have fit nicely and who wouldn’t want to hear Darkest Hour jam out on the epic “Veritas, Aequitas”?  Another headlining gig shouldn’t be too far off so we’ll have to wait it out, I suppose.

Doomsayer (The Beginning of The End)
Sound The Surrender
Stand and Receive Your Judgment
This Will Outlive Us
Deliver Us
With A Thousand Words To Say But One
The Sadist Nation

Despite missing Unearth—a major disappointment—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.

Unearth—Official Site
Darkest Hour—Official Site
August Burns Red—Official Site
Suicide Silence—Official Site