Chimaira and Molotov Solution Rounded out Modern Metal Force at Emo's East
Band Photo: Chimaira (?)
Co-headliners Unearth and Chimaira, two bastions of the breakdown, threw down a modern-metal clinic at Emo’s East in Austin, Texas. Molotov Solution, a promising newcomer to Metal Blade Records, opened the show in fitting ground-and-pound deathcore fashion. Skeletonwitch seemed the odd man out, although their searing blend of blackened thrash proved a needed diversity. The package came sealed with a black licorice-tasting inebriation courtesy of Jägermeister music.
Molotov Solution offered an ogre-ish take on the night’s core theme. While the group has carved a much smaller niche in today’s metal scene than its co-headlining tour mates, Molotov Solution’s seven-year itch hardly qualifies the band as an infantile project, especially when compared to Unearth. While neither of Molotov’s Metal Blade output from the last two years (“The Harbinger,” 2009 and this year’s “Insurrection”) made much of an impression on this humble scribe—they appeared as another run-of-the-mill deathcore act—their booming live show was a different animal all together. Vocalist Nick Arthur’s projections were loud enough to invade Emo’s soon-to-be-defunct club across town, and pissed demeanor made naysayers (me included) take notice. Most impressive, though, was the staggering boom of Shane Slade’s bass.
Skeletonwitch followed Molotov Solutions cue with standup banisters showing their most recent album. These Midwest marauders highlighted material from said album, “Forever Abominations,” cranking out spellbound lead sprays such as “Reduced to the Failure of Prayer,” “Erased and Forgotten,” and “Choke Upon Betrayal.” “Beyond the Permafrost” and “Sacrifice for the Slaughtergod” showcased “Beyond the Permafrost” material, while “Repulsive Salvation” represented the “Breathing the Fire” album. The Ohio group certainly needed to push its latest abhorrent creation, but offered a good sample for older fans and a sort of premier for newcomers.
Skeletonwitch’s cauldron of death, black and thrash metal always brought to mind another band with a witch-crafted-title, Witchery. Seeing Skeletonwitch in a live setting only confirmed this comparison. The fingers of guitarists Scott Hedrick and Nate Garnette danced on their fret boards with a thrashing reverence more in line with Gothenburg than Los Angeles. Even though Skeletonwitch shares similarities to Witchery, Chance Garnette brought a greater variation of voice. Although they played a shorter set with significantly less wattage, Skeletonwitch made extreme transformations of style and pace—from pit-swaying thrash to apocalypse-enticing black blasting, that none of the other bands could duplicate. Skeletonwitch’s speed and enticing rhythms ruled the evening.
While Chimaira hasn’t dominated the new millennium metal universe like bands from their former label, Roadrunner Records, the group has collected a large, die-hard faction of fans.Anaheim and Detroit fans spoke of the band’s greatness during opening gigs for Danzig, but I watched the band with much less enthusiasm. During their 2001 performance, the group resembled Fear Factory light, which was partially due to the drumming by Andols Herrick—one of the more revered drummers from the past decade, although nothing really captured my attention enough to warrant a CD purchase. The “Age of Hell” lineup that comprised the night’s performance was without Herrick and other important members of the early cast, so this performance offered even less of an argument for my becoming a Chimaira fan.
Chimaira’s set was not without merit, though. Rob Arnold’s droning solos added an abysmal touch to the group’s chugging rhythms. Some of the thrashier sections even compelled me to bob my head a few times. However, I lost my attention after hearing breakdown after breakdown. Plain and simple: The band became boring after a while. Still, fans of the group were enthralled by early classics such as “Power Trip” and “Nothing Remains,” and mid-era set closer “Resurrection.”
While I’m not the go-to guy for metalcore on Metal Underground, Unearth is one of the few bands of this fold that I’ve always made pains to follow. These Bostonites possess energy unrivalled in this field, which is one reason they’ve risen to the top of the heap. The energy conveyed during Chimaira’s set got an anabolic injection during Unearth. To borrow a phrase from Pantera, Unearth was god damn electric! Singer Trevor Phipps dropped down into the photo pit, stuck his microphone in the crowd and brought the spirit of the small-club, East Coast hardcore that the massive stage lacks (great for pictures, though). Speaking of photography, guitarists Buz McGrath and Ken Susi were a blur to my lens, constantly switching places on stage and even taking the occasional-yet-expected jump of a tall speaker.
From superb guitar scaling to rich melodies and temple-vein-popping hardcore, Unearth took command of the crowd and never relinquished its grip. The group’s use of mean breakdowns done to repeated, crowd-empowering phrases is probably their greatest asset. “The Great Dividers” contains phrases with actual meaning in the post 911 world: “Divide our home/does hate mean freedom/take over the world/divide our home does hate mean freedom.” Other set highlights include “This Glorious Nightmare,” “The March” and “Zombie Autopilot.”
Unearth made plenty of room for new material from the “Darkness in the Light” album, which was the one negative aspect of their set. The new album has some of the group’s most mature compositions, but the over use of clean vocals really puts a damper on these songs. Past songs showed the group using clean vocals only during opportune times. In that way, Unearth has separated their selves from the Emo voices that mar this form of music. Possibly, they are trying to sell more records. Whatever, the case the new material arrived with cringing results.
Besides Chimaira’s redundant use of breakdowns and Unearth’s new-found-whiny glory, the show was a success. Fans comprised about half of the 1,700-capacity, which was enough to keep it from a suffocating, small club. Unearth, Chimaira and Molotov Solution share enough similarities of sound to keep continual interest, while Skeletonwitch presented something much different, which probably led to a new faction of fans. Jägermeister’s free posters and shot glasses were an additional plus.
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