Chimaira's Nothing Remains Tour Report From Baltimore, MD
Band Photo: All That Remains (?)
Despite being totally swamped of late, I could not pass up the Chimaira, Six Feet Under, All That Remains, 3 Inches of Blood tour that came to town on Sunday at Towson's Recher Theatre. Not only is that a great lineup and Chimaira are fast becoming one of my favorite bands, but I'd been wanting to check out the Recher Theatre, which I had heard so much about.
Just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, the Recher Theatre is about an hour drive from where I live, but then again, just about every metal show is about an hour drive for me. The venue was an old movie theater converted to a club/concert hall. As a result, it is fairly long and somewhat narrow. The acoustics and sound system were excellent, and even standing right in front of the speakers to get some photos, the sound was not unbearably loud. Given the low-traffic route to get to the club as well as the great sound and environment, the Recher Theatre has instantly become my favorite metal venue.
Arriving just as the line was dispersing and only a few minutes before the first band, 3 Inches of Blood, took the stage, I did a lap around the place, checked in with security about photo rules and grabbed a drink. The only down side I found to the venue is that they don't allow photographers (I use that term loosely when referring to myself) inside of the barrier, and being a long, narrow hall, it is difficult to get good photos of the bands on stage.
When 3 Inches of Blood took the stage, the crowd was already a decent size. This was a tour with four strong acts, even if two of them were relative newcomers to the scene. The first thing that struck me about 3 Inches of Blood was the fact that they had two singers on stage. This was interesting and while it didn't seem like two singers were necessarily "needed," it worked quite well for them. Having somewhat low expectations for them, I was pleasantly surprised by 3 Inches of Blood's sound and performance. I am not particularly a fan of the screaming style of power metal, nor of cheesy imagery of fantastic places and swordplay, but put to some killer riffage and thundering double bass drums, it is just fine by me. That is exactly what 3 Inches of Blood did and their execution as well as stage presence easily won me over. They had a decent mosh pit going and summoned a circle pit a couple of times.
You would have thought by watching 3 Inches of Blood play that they were the headliners and main attraction of the night - that's how good they were. The only downside to their performance was that they initially had some trouble getting the two singers' volumes equalized and that they didn't end as strong as they began, due to the last few songs having more of that fantastic imagery and a slightly less heavy sound than the first ones.
After a short setup time, All That Remains took the stage. They played style of metalcore that was more true to its hardcore roots and reminded me of Hatebreed at times, both in sound and image. Aside from the singer running around and screaming his heart out, their stage presence was very tame and subdued. But the crowd seemed to know their material and responded well to them. A decent-sized pit was going for most of their set, although it degenerated into only a few people shoving each other around after a while.
Musically, the band varied a lot for a hardcore band. Several songs had excellent grooves and change-ups as well as alternating screaming and clean vocals. Others were excessive stop-and-go or like an entire song-long breakdown, which did not appeal to me at all. A few songs into their set, singer Phil Labonte took off his shirt and evoked many cries of hysteria from the young girls in the crowd. Several more songs later, they played a song for which the video had recently debuted on MTV2. The crowd loved it, although I felt it was the worst song of their set, attempting to be too accessible to the mainstream. I found it too slow and lacking energy or real emotion. Overall, All That Remains' songs were hit and miss for me, and their stage presence was lacking after the spectacle of 3 Inches of Blood.
Death metal band Six Feet Under was up next. Chimaira has an interesting tendency to tour with some real extreme metal bands lately, such as Six Feet Under and then Behemoth and Morrtis on the upcoming Blackest of the Black Tour. I was curious how well they would be accepted by the crowd of primarily younger metalheads. For the most part, the reaction was good. There were so many hands and horns in the air that I could hardly take a photograph the entire set. There wasn't a whole lot of moshing, hover, as the pit remained dominated by shoving matches between a select few people.
While a lot of death metal can sound the same, some is very technical as well. Unfortunately Six Feet Under fell into the former category. While the speed was almost always fast, the double bass and fast guitars and growling vocals formed a certain monotony of sound. High points were the songs that had some good articulate and audible riffing and death metal grooves, as well as any song in which the vocalist did not invoke his ear piercing screech.
Chimaira were the headliners of this tour and when they finally walked onto the smoke-filled stage, they crushed the crowd with classic "Cleansation" from "Impossibility of Reason." They had the crowd jumping during the first song and a pit opened up once again when the jumping had passed. Chimaira's stage presence has continued to improve each time I have seen them live (four times and counting). Due to the stage configuration and constant smoke pouring out, I hardly saw drummer Kevin Talley once, however. That is a shame because last time I saw Chimaira live, he was a pleasure to watch behind the drum kit, and he managed to exude as much energy and be a part of the show on an already crowded stage. Likewise, I rarely saw keyboard/effects master Chris Spicuzza, who was pushed off to the right, partially behind the speaker tower.
With the addition of their just-released new self-titled album, Chimaira now have even more excellent material to work with. They played "Nothing Remains" pretty early in the set, but the new song that really shined was the second track off that album, "Save Ourselves." From the tight, fast riffing to the excellent solo work that reminded me of Testament's Alex Skolnick, and the many changeups, Chimaira is reaching new levels.
Chimaira played a good mix of songs off all three full length releases. Personally, I think they could drop a few of the songs off of "Pass Out of Existence" in favor of songs from the last two albums. After a little more than half a dozen songs or so, Mark stated that their time is about up and they only had one more song to play and the fans must decide whether it will be something old, something new, or something in between. "Something in between" undoubtedly won, as fans sought to hear "Power Trip," a sing-along favorite.
After some (deliberate?) deliberation, Mark decided they would play all of the choices. First they played "This Present Darkness" from their same-named EP, which was their pre-Roadrunner release. Next they played "Comatose," an excellent song from their latest effort. Finally, likely to no ones' surprise (or disappointment), they ended with "Power Trip." Still a young band by most standards, Chimaira demand respect with their stage presence and excellent repertoire of songs and they make a hell of a headliner.
With four strong bands on the bill, this is a tour you don't want to miss. You can still catch them on the following dates:
Aug. 24 Charlotte, NC - Tremont Music Hall
Aug. 27 Jacksonville Beach, FL - Freebird Cafe
Aug. 27 Tampa, FL - Masquerade
Aug. 28 Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Culture Room
Chimaira will also be heading out on the Blackest of the Black tour (with Danzig, Himsa, Mortiis, Behemoth and The Agony Scene) on the following dates:
September 30 - San Diego, CA @ SOMA
October 1 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint
October 2 - San Francisco, CA @ The Pound (outdoors)
October 4 - Seattle, WA @ The Premier
October 6 - Spokane, WA @ Big Easy
October 7 - Boise, ID @ Big Easy
October 8 - Bozeman, MT @ Valley Ice Garden
October 10 - Chicago, IL @ House of Blues*
October 11 - Detroit, MI @ Harpo's
October 12 - Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
October 14 - Niagara Falls, NY @ Dome Theatre
October 15 - Montreal, QC @ Le Medley
October 17 - New York, NY @ Nokia Theatre Times Square
October 18 - Providence, RI @ Lupo's At The Strand
October 19 - Atlantic City, NJ @ House of Blues
October 21 - Atlanta, GA @ Earthlink Live
October 22 - Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution
October 23 - Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live
October 25 - New Orleans, LA @ TwiRoPa
October 26 - Grand Prairie, TX @ Nokia Theatre
October 27 - San Antonio, TX @ Sunken Garden Amphitheatre
October 29 - Universal City, CA @ Gibson Amphitheatre
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