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Metal As Art Second Leg Hits Chicago: Great Bands, Small Crowd

The Metal As Art Tour had some good success on the first go round, with Hypno5e, Revocation and The Binary Code headlining clubs across the U.S. The currently running second leg features Starring Janet Leigh and Fallen Martyr as the touring bands, and they are supported by local metal outfits in each city. The 2nd leg hit Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago on February 17, 2010, and crushed an appreciative, but small, audience.

Local Chicago bands Plague, Beneath the Flesh and Empyrean Sky opened the show. The easy highlight was watching Empyrean Sky leader, vocalist and guitarist John Welborn extend and contract his stringy-long legs while pounding out riffs and croons. Empyrean Sky was most impressive from the three opening acts, combining a Maiden-esqe musical base with some intermittent blast beats, guttural vocals and progressive flights of fancy. The other opening band highlight was the guitarist for Beneath the Flesh, “Mega” Mark Harrison. He absolutely shreds and easily stole the show from the rest of his band mates. He did his soundcheck with riffs from Megadeth’s “Holy Wars” for fuck’s sake.

After the local acts, touring bands Fallen Martyr and Starring Janet Leigh jumped onstage. Fallen Martyr is a modern ‘core-ish band, with the alternating clean and growling vocals, heavy drumming (in this case from 18 year old phenom Jake Ford) and tons of guitar leads. Gabriel Luis and Michael Gerlach traded licks and punches all night, and only Ford was able to keep up with any type of ease. But the band had tons of energy, was quite appreciative and really sold it to the sparse crowd.

Starring Janet Leigh was the headliner and at one point vocalist Aaron Pozzer called the event “quaint.” That type of whimsy is a core element in Starring Janet Leigh’s music. They have a crushing, yet subtle technical jazz-death arrangement, but much of the nuance of the alternating modes was lost in the live environment. But that nuance was replaced by brute force and breathtaking jump shifts. The juxtaposition of easy jazz, experimental jazz and death metal was even more striking than on their debut studio album “Spectrum.” It was fascinating to watch Starring Janet Leigh easily churn out note after note and put together pieces from disparate origins.

The crowd for the local bands was small but enthusiastic, and it stayed sparse all night. A late show on a Wednesday, tough area and painfully cold Chicago winter night all conspired to limit the overall volume of attendees. That didn’t deter the five bands, as they tried hard, played well, and rocked out to a man. And it is a true shame that more folks didn’t get out to see this one; it is rare to get a chance to see good bands at small venues in such a personal, intimate setting. If you have an opportunity to get to any of the remaining Metal As Art tour dates (see below), do it – you won’t be disappointed.

Remaining Metal As Art 2nd Run Remaining Tour Dates:
February 20, 2010 - Grand Rapids MI (the Breakroom)
February 21, 2010 - Hamtrack MI, (Paycheck's)
February 22, 2010 - Cleveland OH, USA (Peabody's)
February 23, 2010 - Caledonia OH, USA (Allsports Liq'r Bar)
February 24, 2010 - Buffalo NY, USA (Broadway Joe's)
February 26, 2010 - Oneonta NY, USA (Foothills Pac)
February 27, 2010 - Burlington VT, USA (242 Main)
February 28, 2010 - Suncook NH, USA (Ground Zero)
March 03, 2010 - Danbury CT, USA (City Ale House)
March 04, 2010 - New York NY, USA (Fontana's)

bloodofheroes's avatar

Joel is indebted to his high school friend Joe B. for giving him "Kill 'Em All," "Ride the Lightning" and "Master of Puppets" for his 16th birthday. Now that he works from home for his day job at a small ad agency in Chicago, he can play those albums, and Meshuggah, as much as he wants.

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