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Crowbar, Soilwork, Unearth Among Texas Revolution Fest's Ranks

Photo of Hatebreed

Band Photo: Hatebreed (?)

October 22, 2016-Texas Revolution Festival held in Austin is a festival run by promoters Come And Take It Productions.

I’ve covered a lot of Come And Take It shows for Metalunderground.com, including the spring version of the festival, Texas Independence Fest in 2015. That festival featured such bands as Between The Buried And Me, Vital Remains, White Chapel, COC, Death Angel and Cavalera Conspiracy. Tonight billed such artists as Hatebreed, Devildriver, Soilwork and Crowbar.

The Independence Festival was a three-day outing, while Texas Revolution was only one day. Both festivals were held at the same venue—Empire Control Room & Garage. The Control Room stage was an smaller, inside stage that held many of the lesser-known and local acts. Ringworm headlined that stage. The Garage is an outside stage that housed the headliners.

Wovenwar was the first band I caught at the early time of 1:30. The group just released its sophomore album “Honor is Dead” the day before on Metal Blade Records. They were a good representative of what the day had in store. Their sound was mired in breakdowns, brutish screaming and even some melodic clean voices. I can’t say the band did much for me. Their sound wasn’t that original and there were bands at the festival that did it much better.

Another Metal Blade artist, Battlecross played next and really raised the energy level. Having released it’s first record, “Pursuit of Honor,” for the Metal Blade imprint five years ago, the group is one of the labels best young acts. Metalunderground.com’s deathbringer has attested to the band’s live prowess. I first caught their set less than a year after signing with Metalblade in 2011. They played a Metal Blade Records showcase at South By Southwest. The group has a style that crosses the lines between thrash, melodic death metal and metalcore. Many of their riffs reminded me of early In Flames, a group the band has toured with. Their energy and catchy riffs made for a good set.

I missed most of Ion Dissonance’s set due to an interview I conducted with Kirk Windstein of Crowbar. Since I’ve spent most of my life in Michigan, I like to support Michigan-based acts. I watched Michaganders Battlecross earlier, but my belly rumbled during Walls of Jericho, so I decided to walk across less than a block, across Red River, and grab a slice of pizza from Hoboken Pies. What I did hear was particularly brutal. There are few women in extreme music that possess the aggression of Candace Kucsulain.

Devil You Know is a metalcore supergroup formed out of Los Angeles.. At the front is ex-Killswitch Engage singer Howard Jones. Ryan Wombacher of Bleeding Through and guitarist Francesco Artusato of All Shall Perish also play in the group. I looked forward to seeing Jones play again. I haven’t seen him perform since watching Killswitch at Mayhem Fest in 2009. Whether crooning harmoniously or wailing harshly, he has one of the best voices in metalcore. He didn’t show any sign of wear tonight. One of his most impressive performances came during a particularly fast song set off by Jones telling the crowd to get moving. They really had no choice once the blazing speed kicked in, complete with blast beats and speed picking. It was surprising to hear the band go full-on death metal with this song and Jones dug deep and unleashed a lung-tearing growl.

Crowbar came to town with their new album “Only The Serpent Lies” set to drop the following week. Kirk Windstein said he looked back to earlier material to write that album. While the group didn’t play anything from the record, they did play some classic material from their self-titled effort. They opened their set with a song that really jumped started their career, “All I Had (I Gave).” This song was featured on MTV’s Head Banger’s Ball and on Beavis and Butthead (the two made fun of the band’s weight.) They also played the first track from said album, “High Rate Extinction.” Speaking of old school, original bassist Todd “Sexy T” Strange rejoined the band after being away since 1999. He was in good form, his bass was like a canon. There were some parts rumbled the whole place, the biggest boom of the night.

Unearth opened with “The Great Dividers” from their Metal Blade debut “The Oncoming Storm.” I consider that album one of the best metalcore albums ever, so it was nice to hear this song with its anthemic lines “Take Over the World, Divide Our Home, Does Hate Mean Freedom?” They also played another song from the same album, “This Lying World,” which has buzzing string bends and a melodic finger tapping section near the end that leads into a super heavy breakdown. Just like Devil You Know a couple bands back, they brought out a song (not sure of the title) that pushed the tempo beyond their norm. The band has a great balance between harmonies and heavy breakdowns. Also, they’re very technical with good solos—some of the best finger play in the whole genre. They were entertaining to watch, jumping around, swinging their guitars around their necks. They certainly influenced that whole movement

Unearth’s current tour mates, Soilwork played next. They have emerged as one of the most popular bands in Sweden. While early material revealed a melodic death metal style, the death metal tag hasn’t really applied to most of their career. Nonetheless, the band has remained heavy, especially the vocals and melodic. These factors were on display tonight. In fact, I felt the group’s guitar play was the best of all bands. Their finger tapping, classical scales and harmonies were a joy to my ears. While modern metalcore has seeped into their sound, the group’s signature guitar style and keyboards distinguished them from many of the bands that played, especially on the inside stage.

Of Dez Fafara’s band, I prefer Devildriver over Coal Chamber. Devildriver is faster and heavier than Coal Chamber and I prefer the 2000’s metal style over the ‘90s nu metal fitting. Billed right before the headliner, Hatebreed, Devildriver produced one of the biggest pits of the night. Fafara has been singing metal for a quarter of a century, but he still has a strong voice. Like Soilwork, Battlecross and Unearth before them, Devildriver’s guitarists created tasty Swedish-style riffs. However, what made their set special was new drummer Austin D'Amond. D’Amond formerly played with Chimaira. Anyone who knows about Chimaira knows the greatness of their drums. From furious rolls to complex grooves, D’Amond’s drumming was spectacular.

Hatebreed are at the top of the modern hardcore scene. Jamey Jasta has become one of the iconic figures in metal today. Considering the band’s popularity, the abundance of fans sporting Hatebreed shirts didn’t surprise me. I’ve seen Hatebreed open for legends like Slayer, but this was the first time I caught them in the headliner position. Their grooves got the crowd moving in unison. Their energy was palpable. Fans really identified with Jasta’s simplistic-yet-empowering lyrics on songs like “This is Now.” I like some of the Slayer-ish breakdowns, but I’ve never been a fan of the group and that didn’t change tonight. Jasta’s voice seemed weak compared to singers like Howard Jones and Kirk Windstein. As stated before, their rhythms produced the desire effect on the crowd, but I preferred the speed and Swedish style of many of the bands that preceded them.

One of the things that originally captured my attention to Texas Revolution Fest was death metal veterans Malevolent Creation and Incantation. As Metalunderground.com reported, Malevolent Creation apparently broke up and were forced to cancel this tour, which meant those two bands were crossed off the bill. This was disappointing, but I enjoyed many of the bands. The lighting, sound and the fact that the fest ran on time and didn’t cut anyone short resulted in a good experience.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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