October 28, 2007

Concert Review: Unearth w/ Darkest Hour, August Burns Red, Suicide Silence at The Chance Theater October 25, 2007

It is interesting to see the different crowds that concerts draw. For example, in the past week I have attended this Unearth show and one headlined by 80's era thrashers Overkill. These two shows drew drastically different crowds even though they are both bound by the wide genre net of "metal." Age ranges, clothing styles, pit dancing (or lack thereof). There never appears to be all that much crossover, although it could be argues that the older acts will draw more younger audience members than the younger acts will draw from the older crowd. Okay, maybe it isn't that interesting, but go to enough shows and you will notice it as well. As for this show? Well, it started off mediocre and got progressively better. If you are into metalcore and the related subgenres (I lose track of all the divisions) you will definitely want to catch these bands when they come through your town.

Unfortunately, I got the door open time for The Chance Theater messed up. I wound up missing the local show-opener, a group called Dropface. I want to say I've seen them before, but I cannot recall for sure. I definitely recognize the band name. Checking out their Myspace page, I like what I hear but am now believing that I haven't seen them before. Hopefully I will get to see them at some point.

When I got inside Dropface was long gone and the next band was just about ready to take the stage. The time was 8:00 and I was ready for something a little heavy.

Suicide Silence came onstage and failed to impress me. Yes, the band was full of energy, which the crowd seriously fed off, but the music did not grab me. The band's name is pretty good and the music they played certainly made me wish for a little silence. Not that it was all bad, but there is only so much of this style of screaming that a guy can take. There were some riffs that sounded good, but overall there was little substance. The music on their Myspace page is better than anything I experienced live. I think the biggest blockade to my potential enjoyment would have to be the completely unintelligible screaming/growling. It came in two flavors higher pitched screaming and a deeper growl, neither one was any good, save for the fact that he can keep it up for an entire set, not to mention a tour. The sound could best be described as a fusion of death metal, grindcore, and probably a few other -cores. This is a band that I could not recommend, unless you are already a fan and by now you have likely written me off as an undesirable. Whatever, they failed to ignite much passion in me.

The next band up was another first experience. The band is called August Burns Red, and the music is some sort of -core, perhaps experimental metalcore? I don't know. Half the time I just make the terms up, whatever seems to sound right. There's too much divisive labeling going on anyway. Whatever you want to call them, there was no denying that they impressed. August Burns Red's music was heavy, diverse, and very tight. There was something about them that really got to me. I cannot say that they were great by any stretch, but there was definitely something about the heavy riffs, breakdowns, leads, and in your face energy that I really liked. Their set reached its peak with a cut from their latest album, The Messengers. The song is called "The Eleventh Hour." The song was easily the best one of the set, it offered up the most complete sonic experience of their half hour, and of the show so far. This is definitely a band to keep an eye on, and one I will definitely acquire some music from.

The further into the show I got, the better the music became. This is the sign of a good show. Well, sure, we would all want evey band to be excellent, or at least great, but if a show features a build up to the headliner paved with successively better performances, that's the next best thing.

The final opening act was Darkest Hour, a melodic metalcore act that I was first introduced to earlier this year when I reviewed their latest album, Deliver Us. It is a very good album, not exactly groundbreaking, but definitely worth the listen. Their live performance takes the album recording to the next level. Live music is easy to get into and Darkest Hour make it that much easier. Their set began the same way the album does. "Doomsayer" got the set off to a great start.

Their music is heavy and very catchy. The live versions of their songs were that much more addictive. The energy flowed freely between the crowd and the band, everyone feeding off everyone else. Three songs made it from the new album to the live setlist, making the number of songs I recognized, you guessed it, three. In addition to "Doomsayer" the set also included "Demon(s)" and the title track, "Deliver Us." Even knowing so few songs I was right there with the crowd, feeding the band with out cheers. They sounded great, crunchy riffs, driving drums, raw vocals, and some nice tandem soloing. Their music is not quite as inventive as August Burns Red was, but it was still one hell of a performance.

Last, but certainly not least was Unearth. I am a relative newcomer to Unearth (though not as new as I am to Darkest Hour). Prior to the show the only album of theirs I owned was III: Through the Eyes of Fire, now I own two having picked up The Oncoming Storm. Now there is a purchase I should have made long ago. It is a fantastic album that is only made better when you have the live experience to back it up. I have been lucky enough to have seen them, now, twice this year. Back in February I saw them open for Slayer at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center. They put on a sick show, but the February show has nothing on this one. The Chance is a considerably smaller venue, which is a plus. Now take the facts of a smaller, more intimate locale plus the headlining slot equal a much more intense show.

Unearth combine some serious heaviness with intense technical precision. A rather strong combination that puts them right near the top of the metalcore genre and a band that has to be seen live. The set included such cuts as "This Glorious Nightmare," "Zombie Autopilot," "Giles," and "Sanctity of Brothers." As good as all of those songs were, the live highlight came during "The Great Dividers" when Buz McGrath left the stage, made his way through the crowd and played will walking on the bar, merch table, and on top of a snack machine before returning to the stage for the final song, "Black Hearts Now Reign."

You know, this was a great show. It was loud, heavy, overflowing with energy and worth every minute. Yes, including Suicide Silence. If any of these bands come through your town, do not hesitate.

Set lists (all but Suicide Silence):

1. Giles
2. This Lying World
3. This Glorious Nightmare
4. Zombie Autopilot
5. Endless
6. March of the Mutes
7. Only the People
8. Sanctity of Brothers
9. The Great Dividers
10. Black Hearts Now Reign

Darkest Hours:
1. Doomsayer
2. Sound the Surrender
3. Demons
4. This Will Outlive Us
5. Convalescence
6. Deliver Us
7. With a Thousand Words to Say But One
8. Sadist Nation

August Burns Red:
1. The Truth of a Liar
2. The Eleventh Hour
3. Your Little Suburbia Is In Ruins
4. Composure
5. Back Burner
6. The Seventh Trumpet


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