Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Band: Oh Sleeper
Venue: Marquis Theater in Denver, CO
Date: October 1st, 2010
My buddy Tahoe and I ventured down to Marquis Theater in Denver to catch Oh Sleeper and A Plea for Purging. With only four bands on the ticket we were excited to see some extended sets, plus Oh Sleeper hadn�t been to Denver since they released Son of the Morning, and last time they came through they had to modify their set due to some of their equipment getting stolen the night before in Salt Lake City, so they didn�t play any new songs.
We were both under the impression that The Bled were headlining but that was not the case, Oh Sleeper headlined and I�m not sure they�re ready to be headlining. I�m a huge fan of Oh Sleeper but I was not overly impressed with Son of the Morning, I feel like When I Am God was a much better record, at least lyrically. Either way their set is comprised of mostly tracks from Son of the Morning and they just don�t incite energy live like the older tracks did.
Oh Sleeper opened with Son of the Morning, a great opener with tons of energy. The venue wasn�t packed but there were a good amount of kids still left after The Bled finished. Everyone pushed to the stage to sing along and even though we were down on the floor, we never really were in danger of any physical harm. I�m an old man these days so I like to stand right on the edge of the pit, but rarely ever go in. There wasn�t really a pit this night, either because the kids were worn out or because Oh Sleeper doesn�t really play breakdown-style music.
After Son of the Morning they went into New Breed. You could tell that Shane Blay has been improving on his singing, while its still not that great live, he�s much better than when I saw them last year on Scream the Prayer Tour. It�s got to be tough to sing on key with everything so loud, but he was close most of the time. The other change I was trying to pay attention to was the new drummer, Zac Mayfield. He was solid most of the night but he has some big shoes to fill, previous drummer Matt Davis was a beast and the drumming on the last album was crazy. With a new drummer on-board I was surprised to hear the band go into World Without a Sun, the track on SOTM that basically showed off Matt�s drumming ability. The song sounded good, but not nearly as tight as the recording (which can be expected).
Between each song Micah took a chance to talk, something that usually bores me, I prefer less talk � more rock. I would soon realize the reason for so much talk; the band only played 7 or 8 songs, not many for the headliner. Now they decided to go into some older material starting with Charlatan�s Host, one of my favorites. The song was building up to the best part, where the band cuts out while Micah screams �Let not my words be ripped from the mouth of a horror!� but just as we were all about to throw it down Micah stops the band to orcganize the Wall of Death. Total momentum killer and really just a poor decision; the Wall of Death is pretty lame and works best at the beginning of songs when everyone is already standing around, not during the middle of one of your best songs.
Anyway, after Charlantan�s Host they played the crowd favorite, Vices Like Vipers which went crazy. After that the band took a second to leave the stage and apparently get different guitars. Looking back I guess this was their �encore�, Reveries of Flight was playing as a track and Shane was still on stage and began singing the song. I really like this track and was pumped to hear it live. Lucas, the bass player, returned to the stage to encourage everyone to sing louder and the song began to build. Finally the entire band was back and ripping through the second half of the song. This led directly into The Finisher, a fitting closer to a set and had the kids realized that this was the last song maybe it would have been more chaotic.
After that the house lights came on and I looked at Tahoe, we both weren�t sure if that was it and I told him that they didn�t really have any more songs they could play, so I doubted they would play anymore. I was right; their set included 7 or 8 songs, almost 30 minutes of music. It seemed really short and even though they played well, it just didn�t seem like enough.
Earlier in the evening A Plea for Purging rocked the crowd with what turned out to be either the longest set, or just short of The Bled�s set. Plea, a four-piece now that guitarist Tyler Wilson has left the band to continue school and get married, filled out the sound really well considering there was only one guitarist. Later Blake confirmed that Tyler�s parts are synced with the click track but it was tough to notice since Blake handled most of the lead parts. Visually there aren�t many bands that can keep your attention quite like Plea, with lead singer Andy moving gracefully back and forth at the front of the stage, looking sort of like Kirby from Nintendo. Behind Andy you have bassist John Wand swinging his hair like a propeller for large sections of songs. It�s just crazy to watch. At one point Andy challenged the crowed to complete 300 stage-dives during one song, I think we failed miserably but it was fun to watch.
Andy also mentioned that it was some kid�s birthday and all he wanted for his birthday was a Wall of Death, so yes, for the first time of the night there was a Wall of Death. I don�t totally know all of the songs they played, but I�m certain they played Shiver, Golden Barriers, The Fall (Andy busted out a tambourine during this song), Malevolence, and The Eternal Female.
At least two of the bands mentioned that Denver was the biggest crowd yet on the tour which at first made us proud, but then looking around I was a little disappointed that other stops had less kids than this, since I don�t think there was all that many kids at the show in Denver. I wasn�t really into the other two bands on the tour; the opening band Let Live and also The Bled. A Plea for Purging is so good live and Oh Sleeper is definitely solid that if this tour stops in your neck of the woods you should check it out. It was less than $15 in Denver, and a chance to see Oh Sleeper live doesn�t come around that often.
SETLIST: Oh Sleeper
Son of the Morning
World Without the Sun
Vices Life Vipers
Reveries of Flight
1. Tell us a little about the band; the origins, the sound, previous bands…
We’re a spirit-filled hardcore band from dallas, we play hardcore with a little thrash, a heavy dark sound with a hopeful message.
2. what do you guys represent?
Spirt-filled hardcore. We have a lot to say, whether it’s how Christians are treated or what political issues bother us.
3. is there a responsibility that comes with being a “Christian band”?
Definitely. You never know who is watching (everyone). We try as hard as possible to be Christ-like.
4. the kids these days seem to be down with dance-beats and auto-tune, is there a scene/market for thrash hardcore?
Oh yeah, for sure. It’s one of the few styles of music that is real, so much music is just superficial. People like real music.
5. seems like there are more and more bands out there trying to make it these days with the digital age and DIY recording/touring, how do you guys plan to stand out from the crowd?
Well, as hard as it is to do right now all we can do is try to be real and hope that someone notices. It helps to be a part of Strike First, though.
6. how is the scene in Texas? seems like a ton of bands coming out of there, does that help or hinder you guys?
Help! The scene in Texas is thriving again and we are glad to be able to see it grow and possibly be a part of that. We have a tough scene a lot of good heavy music.
7. do you guys try to stay with the same characters on Mario Party, or do you like to switch it up?
SAME, I (chad) am always Wario. haha
8. there are a lot of preconceived notions about hardcore music and the scene, notions about drinking and partying, anger, violence. how do you guys deal with the dark side of hardcore?
Well, we are super accepting and loving, but we stay away from [the dark side]. We are very passionate about the issues we speak of and it might come off as angry but I have had it with a lot of issues and the Bible says the violent will take it by force, so we don’t sit and watch injustice we are going to stand up for issues and maybe even change hearts, God willing.
9. what song are you guys playing for your closer?
“Anthems”. But there might be a couple of surprising songs as a finisher, too. Come to a show and find out!
10. tell me a little about the lyrical themes and ideas behind the Anthems EP?
Anthems is really a bunch of themes tied into one album. “Creation” is about the birth of my son. ”Palerose” is a bash on politics song. ”Anthems” is about having something to say but also being willing to listen to others. ”Weight” is about not going through life all alone and relying on Christ.
11. tell us about the artwork for your EP, who created it? what’s the meaning?
The artwork was done by the Quiggle mastermind (Dave Quiggle). Actually we just gave him our lyrics and the name of the album and just let him have at it.
12. Do you guys have some tours planned for 2011?
Yes, we plan on a couple of small seasonal tours and a long summer tour.
13. what is the best way for fans to get a hold of you guys and chat you up? twitter? email? facebook?
All the social networks. We check them all. We’re on twitter but the members don’t run that, Rob does. haha
Friday, October 1, 2010
Once it was time for Underoath to take the stage, Tahoe and I found good seats in the upper balcony. Yes haters, I’m old and I am fragile, so I prefer to sit during shows if possible, and watch the young kids beat each other up. The Boulder Theater has a great balcony that isn’t too far from the stage and you’re able to capture the essence of the entire performance with good sound. Anyway, Underoath has quite the live show, with multiple light setups on the stage facing the crowd, and a huge projection screen the projects movie clips and slides throughout the show.
Underoath opened with “Returning Empty Handed” and I was instantly reminded of a Norma Jean show with the onslaught on my senses. My only complaint was that the stage was very dark for most of the show; it was very hard to see the guys in the bands throughout the evening. Earlier in the evening Blessthefall pointed out that there was no barrier and that kids should be stage-diving and sure enough, kids started running all over the stage with no problems from security. However when the kids started getting on the stage for Underoath, stage-hands were quick to discourage it, and for good reason since it was so dark on the stage that on misstep could be disaster.
It didn’t take long to see that Spencer would be handling most of the clean vocals. I was surprised at how well he did them too, they sounded great and a new fan of Underoath probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference between Aaron and Spencer. A few times throughout the set guitarist Tim Tague also added some clean vocals, but not nearly as often as Spencer. As for the drums, Daniel was excellent on his smallish 4-piece kit. The kit was noticeably smaller than the previous band’s, Between the Buried and Me, drumkit which featured two kick-drums and a gong. Daniel was thrashing away with a ton of energy and he was sporting what looked like an epic mustache.
The set was very organized with a break between each song. Some songs like “Casting Such a Thin Shadow” has specific video clips whereas other songs featured the same loop of clips shown throughout most of the show. Underoath play two new songs from their upcoming album coming out in October, and I was less than impressed with both of the songs. The music was alright, but the clean vocals by Spencer were terrible. There could be a lot that played into that so I’ll wait until the record comes out to really have an opinion. The band played a set heavy on Define the Great Line with 5 songs, with only one songs from Chasing Safety; “Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door” which was the encore song. “Writings on the Walls” had probably the loudest crowd response of the night besides the encore.
Near the end of the set Spencer took a minute to talk about his faith, saying that they did this music for Jesus Christ. He went on to say they didn’t want to put their beliefs on anyone, that everyone “should find what makes them happy and stick with it.” I’m not sure i’m totally on board with that statement but it seems to be a common statement from Christian bands that don’t consider themselves so much a ministry as a band of Christians, singing about their lives (which very much revolves around their faith when talking about Underoath). It was an impressive show, much better than the last time i saw them in Denver.
Setlist (as best as i could remember it):
Returning Empty Handed
Breathing In a New Mentality
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
Anyone Can Dig a Hole But it Takes a Real Man to Call It a Home
Casting Such Thin Shadows
Writing on the Walls
In Regards to Myself
Everyone Looks So Good From Here
Moving For the Sake of Motion
slower song w/Spencer on guitar ??
encore: It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door
- The Man Named Hell (4:17)
- Heavy Lies The Crown (3:23)
- Bring It Down (2:16)
- Take Me Home (5:24)
- Blood In The Gears (4:08)
- Dogma Enthroned (3:11)
- No Escape (3:59)
- The Crooked Path (3:36)
- Graveyard Of Empires (4:10)
- Diggin’ My Own Grave (5:42)
Blood in the Gears is the fourth album from Tennessee’s The Showdown, and their best work yet. So far the band has released four albums, the first two on Mono vs Stereo, then the last two on Solid State Records and all four have a distinct sound. The bands first record on Solid State , Backbreaker, was pretty good, almost a complete turnaround from their previous albumTemptation Come My Way, which featured more singing and almost no harsh vocals at all. Backbreaker was a much bigger and heavier sound, fitting in nicely with the rest of the roster on Solid State, but not making a huge impact.
Blood in the Gears is easily the bands most creative and dynamic work. AlthoughBackbreaker was heavy, not many of the songs were memorable and tended to drone on longer than they needed to be. Besides a few of the popular tracks, Backbreakerfailed to make a lasting impression. Blood in the Gears changes all of that. Each of the 10 tracks on this album have memorable parts, and the speed varies throughout the record from fast, thrash-style metal/punk to some slower rock/metal tracks to the closer which is an acoustic ballad that will make Bon Jovi fans proud.
There were a few member changes for this record, but original members David (vocals) and Josh (lead guitar) were still intact, and they added longtime friend/produce Jeremiah Scotts to play bass. The other half of the band came from Demon Hunter; Patrick Judge on guitar and Yogi Watts on drums. These changes played into the fresh creativity of this record, but i would credit the drummer, Yogi, with having the biggest impact. The drums throughout are solid, and Yogi’s already southern rock feel blends great with the direction that The Showdown have always been going. While there is plenty of fast-paced double-kick drums to make heavy metal fans happy, i think contrasting those fast songs against slower, rock songs like “Take Me Home” which has a late Metallica feel to it, helps the faster songs standout on their own. ”No Escape” is my personal favorite with it’s driving beat and 80’s guitar leads. The choruses throughout the album just seem so much better than previous albums, featuring crowd-friendly back-and-forth’s (“Blood in the Gears”) or slower breakdown choruses like “Bring it Down”.
Lyrically the album is themed around the consequences of empires in the history of man. Josh Childers states “…every empire falls, centralized power eats more resources than it provides so on a long enough timeline it always happens.” Songs like “The Crooked Path” and “Blood in the Gears” really touch on the problems with society’s need to consume and our failure to live outside of our culture’s expectations. While the lyrics are a little bit cliché and generic The Showdown are about having a good time. Some bands are so serious and almost militant that it’s great to see a band playing heavy metal and having a great time doing it.
OVERALL this is a really good album by The Showdown. Blood in the Gears showcases the creativity and energy the band is able to channel. Songs like “Heavy Lies the Crown” and “Bring it Down” will certainly be favorites of the fans, while “Diggin’ My Own Grave” and “Take Me Home” show us that The Showdown aren’t worried about being just another metalcore band, they’re southern roots really come out on this record. Blood in the Gears is a blast, The Showdown continue to give their fans a great time!
- Real Life Music (2:54)
- Snitch (4:06)
- Invade ft. J. Paul (4:00)
- Prognosis (4:21)
- No Worries (4:05)
- Covenant Eyes ft. PRo (3:56)
- Life 101 ft. Chris Lee (4:05)
- I Love Music ft. Sho Baraka (4:11)
- Limitations ft. Leah Smith (4:22)
- Yours To Own ft. Jimmy Needham (4:04)
- Apathy (Interlude) (0:51)
- Twisted ft. Lecrae, PRo, Thi’sl (4:52)
- Bear With You ft. Tedashii (4:37)
- Show’s Over ft. Mitch Parks (4:25)
- The Invasion (Hero) ft. Jai (5:37)
- My Lord (Bonus Track) (4:01)
Well I had to dust off the 12’s for this one. Trip Lee, of the 116 Clique, releases his third full-length album titled Between Two Worlds on Reach Records. This record is the kind of record that goes against the common belief that Christians make bad art;Between Two Worlds is solid throughout! Trip Lee’s vocal style is reminiscent of fellow southern rapper T.I., but that’s where the comparison ends; T.I. spent last year in prison while Trip Lee spent last year touring and spreading the Good News.
There are 16 tracks on the album, only one of which is an interlude. The rest are full-length hip-hop songs featuring guest work from Pro, Sho Baraka, Lecrae, Tedashii, Thi’sl, and even Jimmy Needham. The opening track, “Real Life Music”, is awesome! No need for an intro track the listener is greeted with some violins before the beat kicks in and Trip Lee’s smooth southern delivery lets us know that he’s “…back for the third time, you know where to find me; Hanging on the coattails of Christ who designed me.” Throughout the album Trip’s faith is bold and prominent, but it does not make the songs clumsy or gimmicky like some Christian music can be. These songs can slide effortlessly alongside most mainstream rap artists.
It doesn’t take long for Trip Lee to bring a little controversy; his second track is titled “Snitch”. The track features the term snitch throughout, a term that could possibly be the worst label someone can inherit, the label “snitch” is usually related to violience in darker walks of life. However, Trip’s goal in this track is to let people know that he confesses his sins to the Lord, then to his family, he’s snitching on himself. It’s a good track with a clever idea; however I’m not sure if people are comfortable calling themselves a snitch in public.
There are a few standout tracks on Between Two Worlds. “The Invasion” is probably the best track and it’s unfortunate that it’s all the way at the end of the album. The guest vocals by Jai are excellent. “Covenant Eyes” and “I Love Music” are fun songs, the former featuring a really cool sample of someone whistling (like at a girl) throughout that is pretty creative. “Twisted” features a few of my favorite rappers, Lecrae and Thi’sl, but the track lacks a powerful hook needed to make it a standout. “Invade” is another great track featuring strings and chill beat giving it an almost epic feel. The tracks produced by Joseph Prielozny (“Real Life Music”, “Invade”, “I Love Music”, and “The Invasion”) definitely standout as the better tracks on the album.
OVERALL this is another solid album from Trip Lee, Between Two Worlds is one of the best rap albums of the year. Not every track is a winner but as a complete collection there are definitely more highs than lows. Trip Lee continues to mature as a rapper and his career is only starting to take shape (he’s only 22 years old). The production quality on this album is on par with most mainstream productions and Christian rap as a whole continues to improve its street cred with albums like this. Buhlee Dat!
Title: The Way That We Fall
Release Date: 09/2010
1. We’re Not Coming Home
2. Feel My Heart
3. Nobody Makes Me Bleed My Own Blood
4. Look At Me Darlin
5. The Way That We Fall
The Suit release their 3rd studio album titled The Way that We Fall, a five-track EP full of catchy choruses and heavy breakdowns. The Suit, previously known as the Midnight Suit, label themselves as pop-punk/hardcore and this EP covers that well, plus more. Complete with punk-ish lead vocals reminiscent of NOFX, heavy scremo breakdowns, super catchy melody lines, gang vocals, dance beats, synth, and even hand-claps, this EP is sure to make almost anyone bop their head and tap their feet.
The Suit are all about having a good time, playing high-energy shows and writing music that makes the listener want to dance. The overall feel of this EP reminds me of the latest trendy genre being made popular by bands like Attack! Attack! With some electronic beats and synth added to a hardcore style band. It’s almost like party-core or something, but I have to admit that I have a soft-spot for music like this; it makes you want to dance and sing along and then pound the floor with a hardcore breakdown. Some might say it’s gimmicky, or cheap, or trendy, but if it’s done well it doesn’t matter and The Suit do it well.
The lyrical content focuses on struggle and tough times, and the songs are setup in a progression from good times to hitting rock bottom to healing and learning. The opening track “We’re Not Coming Home” is basically a celebration as the gang vocals chant “let this last forever as we stand together, hand in hand we sing”. Later, in the track “Look At Me Darlin’” the lyrics are honest and internal, “Look at me darling, I’m a train wreck and I’ll say that. I know we’re going down to the bottom.” At times the lyrics are pretty aggressive and angry and somewhat tough to swallow, but they’re honest and I’m sure a few listeners will be able to relate to similar feelings while going through tough times.
The last track, and probably the best track; “The Way That We Fall” is everything that the listener is looking for. This is the type of song that you end shows with, great singalong parts, great melody, totally upbeat and fun breakdowns. Even the synth behind the verse is great, reminds me of Reggie & the Full Effect. The lyrics speak of learning from your mistakes and moving on, something that we can all sing along to.
OVERALL this is a great EP, The Suit have successfully combined a few different genres of music to produce an irresistible sound. Each song has that pop-punk goodness with lyrics you can sing along with and relate to, and on top of that each song gives you a chance to throw down with well done heavy breakdowns. The Way That We Fall is not groundbreaking by any means, but it’s a blast, it’s infectious and will be enjoyed by listeners looking for a good time.