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Archive for the ‘Baroness’ Category

[CANCELLED: May 30, 2020] Against Me! / Baroness / Drug Church

indexI had a ticket to see Against Me! on their “2 Nights / 4 Records / 48 Songs,” tour.

I was mostly interested in seeing Dilly Dally who was opening, but I thought it would be interesting to see Against Me! as well. My night was for the White Crosses/Transgender Dysphoria Blues albums.  I actually don’t know those newer albums (I have New Wave), but I was interested in hearing them.

This show seemed like a good opportunity to check them out

But the main reason I wanted to go to this show was for Baroness.

I saw ‎John Baizley play with Strand of Oaks a few years ago and he was a great addition.  I hadn’t heard his band, but I immediately had to check them out.  I really liked them.  Last year I got to see and meet Baroness at an in store performance at Vintage Vinyl, but seeing Baroness acoustic in a record store (as cool as it was) is nothing like seeming them as full band in concert.

Unfortunately their Philly stop was at the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest that had a good line up but sounded like a nightmare, honestly.  But when they set up the rest of their dates, they didn’t do Philly again.

I don’t know Drug Church, but I’ve read that their sound mixes hardcore punk with alternative rock and grunge.  I listened to their song “Avoidarama” (love the name) and I really liked it (it’s far more grunge than hardcore and no screaming vocals).  “Grubby” has a bit more punk elements, and I liked it too.  I hope they tour with them when this gets rescheduled.

This show in Stroudsburg is the closest their were coming and even though they weren’t headlining (double headliner, I guess) it was the best I could do.  I’ve never been to a show in Stroudsburg before and I was curious how the commute there would compare to Philly.  But I’ve heard the Sherman Theater is really nice.

Since this show was at the end of May, I was counting it as a sort of holding out hopes for shows to not get cancelled.  But better safe than sorry.

 

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[ATTENDED: June 11, 2019] Baroness

Baroness is, for the most part, the work of John Baizley.  There are others in the band, but there hasn’t really been any consecutive albums with the same lineup.  I first heard of John Baizley on March 10, 2017 when he was brought out as as special guest at a Strand of Oaks concert.

I thought Baizley was great at that show and I really liked his voice.  So I investigated and I discovered the wonder that is the prog metal of Baroness.  Baizley writes beautiful passages and tacks them onto brutally heavy metal.  His voice is a rich baritone and it all works perfectly.  I later found out that all of the art is done by him and that he has crafted some amazing heavy metal covers as well (here’s his art site).

In 2017, Baroness was between albums (their previous one came out in 2015, their new one is coming out in a couple of days).  But I listened to his older records and really liked them a lot.

They have recently toured for this new album, but the two shows they played near me were not ones I wanted to see.  In April they played the Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest which sounded like a terrible thing to go to, quite frankly (even if they were the headliners) –7 bands and all that beer, no thanks.  A few days earlier they were playing Starland Ballroom with Deafheaven.  A double bill I would have liked to see, but I was already seeing Voivod that night.

They announced a tour of the rest of the lands and I was a little bummed.  But then they announced this little acoustic tour to coincide with their new album.  I was planning on getting the album anyway, so to travel to Fords to get that record and to have Baroness play an acoustic show was a no brainer. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 10, 2017] Strand of Oaks

Back in December I saw Strand of Oaks at Boot and Saddle.  It was just Tim Showalter and Jason Anderson and they were great.  It was very intimate, it was the third night of a three night stint and everyone was loose and having fun.

At the show, they were selling tickets this March appearance at Union Transfer–which was going to be the whole band.  So I decided to get a ticket that night, for a good comparison.

While waiting for the band to come on, I wound up talking to a bunch of people who were huge fans.  I found out that his previous keyboardist was Eliza Hardy Jones who has since gone solo rather successfully–she was evidently at XPNFest last year, when we were there.  One lady told me that the last time she saw Strand of Oaks, Showalter stage dove right where she was standing (which is where I was standing).  The guy she was with said that last time he saw them, they opened with “Cinnamon Girl,” and they talked about how this was a hometown show and he would go all out–especially since the venue was far more filled than the previous time. (more…)

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may20014SOUNDTRACK: CRYPTOPSY-“Slit Your Guts” (1996).

cryptI had never heard of this band until I saw the song mentioned in the article.  The song is impossibly fast with speeding guitars, super fast (inhuman) drums and an indecipherable growl as vocal.  In other words, a typical cookie monster metal song.  And yet, there is a lot more to it and, indeed it took me several listens before I could even figure out what was happening here, by which time I had really fallen for the song.

There’s a middle section which is just as punishing and fast but which is basically an instrumental break–not for showing off exactly but for showcasing more than the bands pummel.  It has a short guitar solo followed by a faster more traditional solo (each for one measure, each in a different ear). Then the tempo picks up for an extended instrumental section.  The melody is slightly more sinister, but it sounds great.  There’s even a (very short) bass solo that sticks out as a totally unexpected (and fun) surprise.

Then the growls come back in, staying with the new melody.  The vocals are so low and growly that they are almost another distorted instrument rather than a voice.

After that there’s a lengthy proper guitar solo.  As the song comes to a close,  it repeats some previous sections before suddenly halting.  It’s quite a trip. And it definitely makes me want to hear more from them (whatever their name means).

[READ: April 14, 2014] “Destroy Your Safe and Happy Lives”

Robbins, who is a poet, but about whom I know little else, takes us on a sort of literary tour of heavy metal.  His tone is interesting–he is clearly into metal, like in a big way (at the end of the article he talks about taking his writing students to see Converge (although he doesn’t exactly say why)), but he’s also not afraid to make fun of the preposterousness of, well, most of the bands–even the ones he likes.  It’s a kind of warts and all appreciation for what metal is and isn’t.  many people have written about metal from many different angles, so there’s not a lot “new” here, but it is interesting to hear the different bands discussed in such a thoughtful (and not just in a fanboy) way.

His first footnote is interesting both for metal followers and metal disdainers: “Genre classification doesn’t interest me.  Listen to Poison Idea’s Feel the Darkness followed by Repulsion’s Horrified and tell me the main difference between hardcore punk and metal isn’t that one has a bullshit positive message and one has a bullshit negative message.”

But since Robbins is a poet, he is interested in metal’s connection to poetry.  And in the article he cites William Blake (of course), but also Rilke and John Ashbery and (naturally) Milton’s Paradise Lost, as well as Shelley, Lord Byron and Charles Baudelaire.  He talks about them not because they are cool poets, but because they have also talked about because of metal’s “most familiar trope…duh, Satanism, which might be silly–okay, its’ definitely silly, but has a distinguished literary pedigree”.  Besides, he notes that Satan has the best lines in Paradise Lost (and I note that just as Judas has the best songs in Jesus Christ Superstar).

But sometimes this Satanism turns into a  form of paganism which then turns into nature worship.  From Voivod’s “Killing Technology” to black metal’s romanticism of nature (sometimes to crazy extremes–but that’s what a band needs to do to stand out sometimes).  Metal is all about the dark and primordial, a”rebuke to our soft lives.”

And yet, as a poet, Robbins has some quibbles with metal: (more…)

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