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Sounds Of The Underground Report From Vancouver

Photo of Lamb of God

Band Photo: Lamb of God (?)

On July 26, I got the chance to attend the Sounds of the Underground tour when they stopped in Vancouver, BC. The show was originally scheduled for the Pacific Coliseum but was moved to the PNE Forum, which is a lot smaller. My guess was that the ticket sales didn’t do very well.

Doors opened at 11am and All That Remains was set to take the stage at noon. Unfortunately, I missed All That Remains while waiting for the guestlist to arrive and caught NYC’s Madball halfway into their set. I had seen frontman Freddy Cricien perform in his street punk side project, Hazen Street, twice before and enjoyed their show. Although the two bands sound nothing alike, Madball’s hardcore music had the same amount of energy. Madball’s new album, Legacy, comes out August 2nd.

DevilDriver took the stage about 5-10 minutes after Madball left the stage. I rather liked the short time it took for them to set up the stage because waiting half an hour to an hour between bands really sucks. Anyway, DevilDriver recently released a new album, The Fury of Our Maker’s Hands. I’m not very familiar with DevilDriver’s music, new or old, and I only know the song “I Could Care Less.” They sound a lot like Coal Chamber, which would not be surprising seeing as how frontman Dez Fafara was in Coal Chamber.

A common complaint about the tour that I kept hearing all day was that there were too many hardcore bands on the bill and not enough diversity. I, personally, have never been a big fan of hardcore or metalcore and am unfamiliar with the genre. Bands like A Life Once Lost, High on Fire, Every Time I Die, Poison the Well and Norma Jean, although they each put on a great show, sounded too much like one another. That’s just my opinion and I’m sure hardcore listeners would probably disagree with me.

I missed Terror’s set to get food.

Vancouver’s very own Strapping Young Lad received a lot of attention and praise that day. The band was touring in support of their latest album, Alien, which came out in March and the only song I remember them play is “Love?” Frontman Devil Townsend’s talent stands out more than his hair. He can sing or scream and his death/thrash guitar work is amazing. Drummer Gene Hoglan, as some people have commented, is really a machine behind the kit. The band put on a solid, energetic and heavy show.

Next up was Orange County, CA’s Throwdown at 4:00. The band recently put out a new album, entitled Vendetta. I never really liked their hardcore music but their fans seemed to enjoy the show. The only song I recognized was “Forever.”

Gwar hit the stage at 5:15 and played for half an hour. These guys are notorious for their amusingly obscene stage shows and they are definitely one of my favourite bands to see live. Gwar dresses up in alien costumes while mutilating monsters and cheesy celebrities (including George Bush) and dousing the audience with enough fake blood and other bodily fluids to dye their skin and clothes pink and blue. The stage set up seemed a little less complex than their last headlining show here, probably because they didn’t have a lot of time to set too much stuff up. Near the end of their set, singer Oderus sprayed the crowd with fake blood coming out of his costume schlong.

Swedish progressive death metallers Opeth took the stage at 6:05. With their drummer, Martin Lopez, reportedly back home treating a rare blood disorder, SYL’s Gene Hoglan substituted in. This is the second time Vancouver has seen Opeth perform with Gene Hoglan. The first time was back in January of 2004 when the drummer was sick. Opeth definitely stood out from the other bands on the tour, playing songs like “Deliverance” and their new single “The Grand Conjuration,” off their upcoming release Ghost Reveries. One of the things I like about Opeth is that their songs are always changing and their 10-minute songs can sound like many shorter songs put together. I have seen Opeth twice and both times their sets have been relatively mellow. It isn’t really music you can mosh to, but more like something you slow dance to. The band consists of extremely talented musicians but I think they could have picked some of their faster, more brutal songs because it is a metal show after all.

Unearth took the stage 10 minutes after Opeth left at 6:45. I had seen these guys once in January when they opened up for Slipknot and they had impressed me with their catchy Swedish-metal-influenced riffs so I was rather looking forward to seeing them again. They’re like Killswitch Engage and As I Lay Dying rolled into one.

Clutch’s bluesy southern rock did not seem to fit in with the rest of the bands on the tour but it was nice to have something different like this occasionally, especially the cleaner vocals after so much screaming and yelling from the previous bands. They were interesting to see. Some people moshed while others danced. The vocals seemed to fit pretty well with their music. Some of the music seemed to have a psychedelic, stoner-rock-like sound (think Kyuss) to it.
I’m not very familiar with Chimaira and the only song of theirs that I have heard is “Sp Lit.” I have never seen Chimaira live before but someone had told me that they sucked. However, I found that it quite the opposite. They put on quite an intense show and their music reminded me of a more aggressive, thrashier, Pantera-influenced 40 Below Summer.

Lamb of God took the stage at 9:55. Having been there almost all day, I was extremely tired by then and left after taking photos of the band. I have never been into their music. Maybe because it’s too raw for my liking? I don’t know. Frontman Randy Blythe did seem a bit tired but the band still put on an energetic, brutal show.

Overall, it was a great show. It was nice to see most of the bands take their time to meet their fans when they did the meet-and-greets at their merch tables. Aside from complaints about too many hardcore bands, there were also rants about the lack of a beer garden and the quality of the sound of the PNE Forum. But it wasn't the tour's fault. Since most of the equipment was set for a stadium show, shoving them all in to the small Forum worsened the sound. There was just too much echo in the venue.

You can check out the photos for the Sounds of the Underground tour in Vancouver, BC in the photo gallery.

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12 Comments on "Sounds Of The Underground Report From Vancouver"

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deathbringer's avatar

Founder, owner & programmer

1. deathbringer writes:

That's funny, when I finally heard As I Lay Dying, I thought they sounded like a cross between Unearth and KSE. I think Unearth is a little more on the metalcore side of the spectrum and KSE probably the furthest from them (of the 3).

# Aug 1, 2005 @ 9:18 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
RememberMetal?'s avatar

Writer/Reviewer

2. RememberMetal? writes:

Can't argue with any of that.

KSE double the amount of vocal melody with each album (their first album having virtually none) so that assessment seems fair to me. I like KSE, good stuff. Unearth brings a more brutal thrashy sound which I like just as much however.

As for missing Terror, their so much like Hatebreed it's almost the same band. Most of the metal-core and melodic hardcore bands are indeed too similar. I've always had a soft spot for Poison the Well. They probably have the singer with the most range and they play with some subtle progressive elements as well.

SYL and Opeth are the main attractions for me....
It is kind of strange that Opeth didn't stroll out with all guns blazing. I caught them a few years ago and the intensity only slowed for one song, which I think maybe the band and fans needed. One complaint about this band is their kind of motionless while on stage, that mostly has to do with the singers dual purpose (guitar/vocals) and the degree of technicality of the music sort of strands the other members....They are not Slipknot.

What is there to say about Strapping Young Lad other than Townsend, Hoglan, Stroud and Simon should be gods over all they survey.

# Aug 1, 2005 @ 10:43 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
RememberMetal?'s avatar

Writer/Reviewer

3. RememberMetal? writes:

....deathbringers lucky I'd give my left big toe to go that show.

# Aug 1, 2005 @ 10:45 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
4. russell writes:

im sorry but this is one of the worst written reviews of all time.

# Aug 1, 2005 @ 10:56 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
5. bla writes:

darkstar's continued lack of insight and familiarity within the metal scene and sub-par eloquence and vocabulary produced, yet again, a boring uninspired review.

Darkstar hates metalcore, but thinks Unearth is cool......?

Comparing Chimaira to 40 Below Summer...?

DevilDriver is about as far from Coal Chamber as a band could possibly get while still having the same frontman.


cheers darkstar!

# Aug 1, 2005 @ 2:30 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
6. I AGREE WITH POST 5 writes:

i usually respect the musings of darkstar but it seems that his review of the show is severely lacking due to his disinterest in the genre. he seems to complain about the fact that is too much hardcore himself rather than relay the fact that the fans were complaining. i really doubt that much complaining was going on at the show because most of the fans that went were fully aware of the acts that would be performing. he seems to be the purveyor of the complaint and basically ruins any good aspect that his article may have had.

the one thing that i do agree with (i attended SOTU in phoenix) is that opeth could have played a much heavier set, being at a hardcore/metal fest. their set was full of talent, but so boring that large groups of people were booing them and chanting for them to leave the stage. they played 3 songs that really lacked the metal drive that everyone was waiting for.

i think that unearth was the surprise of the show. they really impressed me with their style and i am now a fan of theirs. it was a great show altogether but i wish that someone who actually enjoyed the genre would have written this review.

# Aug 1, 2005 @ 4:43 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
darkstar's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

7. darkstar writes:

I think I saw PTW at the Warped Tour 2 years ago. I don't remember much from that show and I have never really gotten into them.

RememberMetal? is right about Opeth being motionless on stage. They were so easy to take pictures of because they didn't move around the stage as much as the other bands did. When their singer talked, he seemed so calm and laidback while the other bands are all shouting and trying to get the crowd to form circle pits.

Hmm...russell, if you think that's the worst, then you obviously have not read my older ones. Hahaha.

bla, I don't hate metalcore. I do like some...just not a lot. I like Unearth's live shows but I don't really listen to them.

Ok, I didn't actually mean to compare Chimaira to 40 Below Summer like that because they don't really sound THAT similar to each other. But for some reason, Chimaira did remind me of 40 Below Summer. =P

As for the lack of familiarity with metal, yes, I admit that. It seems like everyone here has been into metal pretty much their whole lives. I, however, have only started getting into "real" metal maybe less than 2 years ago. But hey, I'm learning. That's why I'm here on this site.

Forgive me, I was rather out of it when I wrote that at 3am. Plus, I guess I'm used to writing lots of boring things, like lab reports. That reminds me, I should get back to writing a boring term paper. Yay.

# Aug 1, 2005 @ 4:44 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
darkstar's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

8. darkstar writes:

Oh yeah, for post 6, it's her. I'm a girl.

# Aug 1, 2005 @ 4:45 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
9. Marauder writes:

"the one thing that i do agree with (i attended SOTU in phoenix) is that opeth could have played a much heavier set, being at a hardcore/metal fest. their set was full of talent, but so boring that large groups of people were booing them and chanting for them to leave the stage. they played 3 songs that really lacked the metal drive that everyone was waiting for. "

They booed them?That's bullsh**.Those hardcore fags wouldn't know good music if it crawled up their ass.Sure, Opeth isn't gonna give the most intense show, but they do deliver great music.I guess you would have to know their songs to really enjoy their live show.They had the crowd wrapped around their finger when I saw them last year.AMAZING SHOW.

I think it's great that Mikeal doesnt scream out the song titles like every other f***head out there.Screaming out song titles is pretty stupid if you think about it.What"s the point?

I can't wait for the Bloodbath DVD to come out.It's gonna be strange seeing Mike on stage with a mic and no guitar.Bloodbath music calls for some crazy jumping around and sh**.

# Aug 1, 2005 @ 6:30 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
10. to post 9 writes:

the lead singer of opeth lacked any sort of personality or charisma that would make anybody who wasnt particularly enjoying the band, enjoy the show. he was monotone, slow, drawn out, probably lacking any vital signs ... he literally just mumbled his way through the set. not a single mosh pit. very few horns in the air. it was weak and lame. he sounded like a bad, slow, softly spoken vesion of ben stein. it was as if he didnt care that i was there, or he was there, or that any sort of state of existence was even happening. they were flat out BORING.

and it carried over to the music. the music was slow and drawn out and lacked any sort of passion. it was like a group of guys who got up on stage in the middle of a metal show and said 'watch us play classical guitar for 40 minutes' because it takes talent. WE ALL KNOW OPETH IS TALENTED, it takes a lot of skill to play their music and it also takes a lot of skill to turn such talent into a boring and monotonous 40 minute block of time that i wish i had never experienced.

# Aug 1, 2005 @ 11:21 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
metalthekid's avatar

Member

11. metalthekid writes:

I went to the SOTU show in Seattle, and I have to say that i am not the biggest Opeth fan, but even though their set was not the fastest or they didnt thrash around onstage, it seemed as though everyone there loved the set, they got one of the bigger ovations of the day. and their last song, i cant remember the name of it, something about demons in the mist or something, but anyways, that song killed the entire corwd, it was amazing.

the only major downpoint of the whole day was a life once lost's set. the crowd wasnt into it, the band didnt seem into it, some guys were mockingly headbanging in the middle of the "pit" and the lead singer saw that and was upset. he was saying stuff like, "who comes to a f***ing metal show and doesnt scream or move around at all." and he kept saying how he was just gonna go back to bed. it was horrible. i was wondering if anyone else had similar experiences?

overall, id say that the show was amazing and that if it comes around next summer i will probably be attending

# Aug 1, 2005 @ 11:40 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
12. Sidewinder writes:

I saw SOTU in Mountain View CA and it was cool, though there were less people than I thought would be there. Being a fan of all sorts of metal I do have to agree that a lot of the hardcore acts were a little too similar for my taste. I would've liked a little more variation in the line up. The other thing; a lot of fights in the pit when I was in there. A lot of clashes between hardcore dancers and moshers. Most of your moshers in the San Jose area are weightlifting bootstrapping Pantera/Slayer worshippers(myself included), and took the karate kicks and punches a little too seriously. I didn't really care as long as they didn't hit my nuts. Unfortunately a lot of the hardcore/metalcore kids lack in size and got pummeled by moshers. It wasn't much fun to get in the pit after that.

# Aug 11, 2005 @ 9:32 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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