Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Live Review: Rings of Saturn Tour, Dirty Dog, Austin, TX. 26.11.2014

Having recently dropped their new album, ‘Lugal Ki En’, Rings of Saturn has been on a tour across the US with As Blood Runs Black. The tour was kind enough to make a stop in Austin, TX. Only a mere 6 hours away, a plan was hatched to drive in, take advantage of special priced libations, and see what this “programmed metal” was really all about.

The show took place at the Dirty Dog bar, on infamous 6th street. This is the area home to all the hottest dives, bars, pubs, and delicious stick foods Austin is known for, and usually has a rocking party scene. Tonight, quite literally! With a $3 whisky sour in hand, I settled in to check out the crowd before the openers cranked up and took my attention away. Usual weird mix: Extremely attractive metal chicks with really awkward looking guys, huge bearded guys, ubiquitous ‘core tank tops, and too many skinny jeans. Normal so far.

Below is the set list for the evening, which Bury the Rod failed to show (full disclosure):

So, as the first band cranked up, I settled in, and upon hearing the first notes, prayed for the best….

TAKING ON POSEIDON: This sentiment I am about to espouse hung like a storm cloud over the show: Metalcore has been done to absolute death, and your terrible attempts at it simply dig the grave deeper by feet. I don’t need two guitarists playing muddled rhythm, down tuned, with absolutely no character or redeeming qualities. The bassist was okay, and outdid them both, while the singer wasn’t in the zone. He, with the band as a whole, were saved by a drummer who knew how to treat the skins, but I could have done without the clean vocals from him. He outclassed his fellows, however, and was pretty fun to watch. The performance took a turn to cheesy when the guitarists and bassist started doing a synced motion, that weird full body bob that core bands do. Like lackluster air squats, and then a kickspin to finish. I would bet they have better live performances, and would give them a fair chance; that night was a no.

A GOD UNKNOWN: Another ‘core style, Death Metalcore, I think, and it was only marginally better that TOP. Another band with a drummer/singer, they had a very similar sound and style, which is par for the course with these genres. However, in AGU’s favor, they had distinct guitar tones, and played more than just brutal chords. That alone brought the show up. They didn’t stand out from the crowd enough to really suggest looking them up, but they were entertaining enough to watch. The drummer was also really good at his job, handling vocals and technical drumming well.

*side note: the red light was on full for most of the show that night, so the pics aren’t going to be on the cover of Times Magazine anytime soon. They do get better though!*

Bury the Rod: No Show.

THE CONVALESCENCE: Okay, another mash up band, The Convalescence had pure Deathcore, with the facepaint of black metal or dimestore Mushroom Head. A damn fine show, they had a full lineup: 2 Guitars, Female Keyboard, Singer with a good set of pipes, a Bassist who kept the groove, and a Drummer who earned his keep that night. All were coated in white and black corpse paint, with matching regalia including black vests and heavy boots. The sound wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but they put on a hell of a show, with a pretty sweet crowd reaction going. They were typical heavy, with some great breakdowns and small solos, and none of the hallmark hokiness that their genre usually carries with it. The singer was adept at crowd control, getting reactions from the crowd most of the time. Only weak part was the backing vocals from the keyboardist, but this wasn’t due to her not being up to it, more like terrible sound mixing for her mic. Overall a fun band to go and check out, if you’re in the mood for something of that ilk.

THOSE WHO FEAR: Okay! A great band to bring in the middle of the set, and something wholly different, a Philadelphia hardcore outfit, and Christian no less, Those Who Fear put up a hell of a show! Hardcore bands tend to not really noodle around, preferring to utilize groove and power chords to beat the listener into a frenzy of spastic “dancing”. Overall, these guys did a damn fine job bringing the slam to Texas, first time ever I believe. Their set was pretty short, around the 20 minute mark, with great stage presence, some heavy bottom chink, groovy bass filling them out, and a sweet rock drum sound. The vocalist had a clear bark and commanding presence, great addition to the lineup. Definitely would be checking them out if they were in my area.

UPON THIS DAWNING: Now this is where things really kicked off! Upon This Dawning is from Italy, and they had a Technical Death Metal sound that absolute was beyond what came before. They came out fast, heavy, and not giving a fuck about what anyone was there for. The singer was like a combination of Jim Morrison on full heroin crossed with a Nurse from Silent Hill: Lots of slow, odd positions, with spastic, sudden, violent motions. If he were in the pit, you’d be right to be cautious. He had a very great, loud death growl, and the band were spot on with the sound and attitude, leaving the bar ringing after their songs ended. Upon This Dawning had a great set, with tons of crowd reaction, and several really good pits popping up. Check them out at your earliest opportunity!

RINGS OF SATURN: And then the moment of truth: Rings of Saturn popped up for sound check, and the crowd got smaller, but way denser, similar to a collapsing star. The band has been the eye of a recent storm because people want to hate on cool things, and they were lambasted by several sites and blogs because they use programs to make their music faster and heavier than mortal man can do alone. I do agree, usually, but that’s because most people like to make something brutal just because they can. RoS makes it heavy, fast, and nasty, because they damn well can almost play that shit live. They weren’t exactly note for note, but they were one of the fastest bands I have seen live, with both guitars lit up with magical tapping and sweeping fret work for a solid 30 minutes. It was amazing to watch, when I could, as the pit they summoned threatened the fundament of the bar itself. I usually stay out of the pits, but this was too good to miss close up. They sent us on a journey through an alien war with the armies of heaven and hell, and it was worth the bruises, beer spilled on me, and my shoes getting scuffed (Old converse Chucks, no worries). Their newest album, ‘Lugal Ki En’, is a must see for anybody who wants to experience the far horizons of extreme tech death.

AS BLOOD RUNS BLACK: Having also just released a new album, ‘Ground Zero’, As Blood Runs Black came out absolutely slaying! They balanced new material that not everyone may know with some classics out of their discography, and put the hurt on the bodies that came out to circle pit with them! This band absolutely put on a great show in the headlining spot, with some excellent guitar work, both with tone being crystal clear and capability to play some pretty sweet tunes, and bass wrecking shop on that Musicman, it was a devastating combination for the fans. Coupling a drummer who could destroy lesser men simply by flexing his double bass calves at them with  a singer who has vocal chops with the best of many modern bands, not to mention being way too cut for a metal guy (NOT JEALOUS!), they locked in a win for the night. It was also really fun to watch them get a wall of death going, with limited success. Completely due to crowd and space constraints, but it kind of happened. Worth the ticket price either way, ABRB and RoS killed the show that night, and wormed their tunes into my black little heart.

Words by: Hunter Young