Monuments live @ Cathouse
Contemporary metal is kind of an odd thing (by that I mean metal music made post ’06 say) because while there’s been something of resurgence in musicianship, recording quality and cross pollination of sounds its also true that plenty of bands are content to simply bolt ideas together and call it songs while relying on technological crutches As such I find myself forced to take the position of being slightly dubious when it comes to bands of this era. Some of them are doing it right and some of them are just about doing it. Tonight’s bill is kind of a mix of that. I’ll let you see if you can guess which band falls into which category. (If you can’t after reading this then I suggest you go back to School. Your close reading needs work.)
At this stage I’m not going to apologise for finding the HAARP Machine a bit of a joke. Part of it isn’t the fault of the band but the fans who have gotten so possessive judgmental or precious about the recent disintegration of three quarters of the band’s line up. Live the band seem decent but its hard to tell at this point what’s down to backing tracks, the band’s session line up for the tour or the actual quality of the music. So far as I can tell the band have no bass player this evening so those are certainly tracks. They’ve been augmented with an additional guitar but there are segments that are less than inspiring. At the end of the day I didn’t rate the actual album itself so perhaps I’ll never really be able to be objective about the songs in a live format, particularly given the line up shuffles.Full credit to former Periphery vocalist Chris Baretto though who is an impressive front man and vocalist and makes it seem as if he’s been fronting the band from day one. Though one out of four probably isn’t all that good even by Meatloaf’s standards.
After the Burial are easily the most popular band with the crowd tonight. I’m lost as to why. The band are clearly capable musicians who have their set rehearsed down to a tee (with the exception of actually running to stage time that is) but despite such displays of musicianship there’s not a decent song in sight. Well maybe there is but its hidden in amongst the near endless onslaught of incredibly knuckle headed, and knuckle dragging, breakdowns. To be fair, it certainly keeps the massive and constant pit happy so maybe it’s just that I’m too old to throw myself into the choreographed violence. But I’ve glasses so I think that’s acceptable right? In truth it is kind of hard to fault the band on anything other than a case of personal preference but a few more shifts in dynamics wouldn’t hurt them as some of the ideas become a touch repetitive, not that the crowd care, as the set goes on. Oh and those choreographed stage moves and the super ‘brootal’ growls are a touch cringe worthy if you’re over 18 lads. But again I’m just a grumpy old ginger guy in glasses? I can’t imagine they care what I think when they’re going down this well.
Monuments are stellar this evening. Uniquely they may be the only band of the original Djent scene (God, did I actually just type that? Fuck me.) who genuinely sound much better live than on record because they’re the most straight ahead. Monuments songs are based more on slamming and heavy grooves than they are layers, progressive arragements and atmospherics. It allows the band to throw themselves about with chaotic abandon while still being incredibly tight. In Matt Rose they really have found a gem of a front man, his time in the Drum & Bass scene has made him a master of crowd control and his unique voice by metal standards lends the band an edge, particularly in this bill. The new songs the band debut tonight sound much more exciting than any of the ‘Gnosis’ material, which is ageing better live than on record in truth, with a more chaotic edge and some exciting vocal arrangements. They’re the first band to bring out the crowd surfers tonight and once they start they don’t stop until the tide eases at the end of the band’s set. But perhaps they only stop in pure joy as Chris Baretto returns to the stage to add a novelty saxophone solo and ending to the band’s final song. Given how my feelings on ‘Gnosis’ have changed I was surprised to have enjoyed the band this much. But a great live band is a great live band. There’s no arguing.
Born of Osiris are proven headliners tonight (though again, stage times are important guys. Especially when you take to the stage almost 40 minutes late. Presumably there was a legitimate reason though). The band are tight, professional and slick but don’t lose that sense of spontaneity like After the Burial did. Musically the band are incredibly impressive, it’s a simply a shame that pre ‘The Discovery’ material is so naff and doesn’t allow the band to showcase this. On the other hand, the tracks from that album sound brilliant live. The progressive flair in musicianship and arrangement makes an excellent dynamic foil against the death metal elements and breakdowns that make up so much of their sound. ‘Follow the Signs’ and ‘Recreate’ are obvious stand out moments but the really impressive moment comes during the brief melodic interlude of ambient electronics where the band’s two vocalists display an excellent sense of performance and clean vocals. It’s an element to their sound they only briefly explored on ‘The Discovery’ but when they can pull it off live as well it makes you hope that its an element they explore more in the future. It gives them a sense of texture that sets them apart from their peers. Born of Osiris have begun proving they deserve respect as a genuinely classy band. It’s just a shame about those first couple of releases really.