August 1, 2006

Concert Review: Dragonforce w/ Between the Buried and Me, Metadox (July 31, 2006)

I have to say, Poughkeepsie is a lucky town. The past two years have brought great shows from bands on their day off from Ozz-Fest. Thank you to those bands who continue playing shows when they don't have to, giving us fans who cannot make it to the festival an opportunity to see you live. We really appreciate the opportunity to bear witness to your live performance. Last year brought Rob Zombie, who I am a big fan of, and Mastodon. It was my first experience with Mastodon, and it was a memorable one, they are one sick band. This year brings Dragonforce and Between the Buried and me, along with local act Metadox, to my town.

This show brought in the biggest crowd I have seen there since the Zombie show last August. I got there about 7:15 and took my place in the ever growing line to get in. I got past the security patdown and went inside. Metadox was two songs into their set by the time I got inside. I pushed through the crowd and found a decent place to get a view of the stage and settled in for the night.

I join Metadox already in progress. This is the second time I have seen them in their current incarnation. I will also admit to not paying terribly close attention to their performance here, but what I heard sounded very good. Over the past year they are developing into a strong local act. Their sound has gotten heavier, seemingly triggered by the lineup shakeup. Metadox was loud and tight, featuring a two guitar assault backed by a solid bass and drum unit. They have an Iron Maiden style base, and put there own stamp on it, bringing in a heavier, rougher angle. I couldn't get a real handle on the crowd, but the reaction seemed to be split. That didn't surprise me, as I overheard a few people in line outside commenting about the opener they'd never heard of. In any case, I like these guys and wish them the best, it has been fun watching them develop.

After Metadox's half hour set, the stage was quickly redressed for Between the Buried and Me. This was my first experience with this band, I had heard of them, but had never heard them prior to 9:11pm on 7/31/06. After their 45 minutes onstage, I can say that they are not for me. That isn't to say they are bad, I found a lot to like in what they are doing, what I would think to call experimental hardcore. While I wasn't enthralled by the music, I found the variosu elements to be very interesting. The drummer was fast, tight, and mixed in many interesting fills and clever transitions. In short, he is a good drummer, he takes chances and adds a lot of flavor to the overall sound. Then there is the guitarwork, there is a lot of leadwork, more than I am used to hearing in hardcore style music. Granted, my experience with hardcore is pretty limited, as it is not the first style I go to. Still, there was some very cool leads integrated into the songs, as well as an extended solo section where a lot of technical precision was put on display, but it was technique with feeling. Lastly, there is the use of keyboards, the lead singer also played the keys which were used primarily as intro/outros to the songs, but they sounded good and just added another dimension to the sound. It was an odd thing to see all of these elements combine into something that I did not care for, but it is good to see the experimentation.

Now, the primary reason for my attendance was preparing to melt the collective face of the audience. It was time for the mighty Dragonforce to take the stage and show us that they can do live what they do on CD. I was first exposed to the Dragonforce experience with their US debut release, Inhuman Rampage. That disk opened my eyes to a new player in extreme power metal. The speed, the intensity, I had to know if they could do it live. The answer to that is a resounding "YES!" I can't tell you the song names, but I can tell you that they are one of the most proficient and fastest bands that I have ever witnessed live. They came out at 9:35 and proceeded to rip through their songs and have a good time. The fact that they were having a blast was clearly evident, they were smiling, having fun with the crowd, leading us in cheers, and just playing their hearts out. Each of the band members had their moment to shine, trading solos between the two guitars and keyboards. The drums keeping a frenetic pace, never tiring, never wavering, a solid stream of drum bashing, it was sheer joy to have my head pounded in. After about 30 minutes, the band left the stage, but it did not last long as the keyboardist returned, by himself. He then had a highly comedic solo segment, again, the fun was clearly evident, not to mention the ability. Soon after, the rest of the band came back to the stage and the set continued. I do recall a few song titles in their set, "Storming the Burning Fields," "Revolution Deathsquad," and "Fury of the Storm." They did slow the set down for "Trail of Broken Hearts," which sounded fantastic. They closed their set with "Through the Fire and Flames," to a resounding ovation from the full house. They came back and played a three song encore, but I do not recall the song titles.

After the performance ended, we were expelled into the hot summer night, sweaty, exhausted, and thirsting for more. Dragonforce is an amazing band, technical ability, heart, and great songs. This is a band to experience live.

Overall, this was an excellent concert. Metadox did a good job getting things started, the next step in their development. Next up, Between the Buried and Me may not have floored me, but they had a lot to like. Finally, Dragonforce, simply a force to be reckoned with.


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