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Sunday, 14 November 2021 08:56

DAFA Club 3rd Anniversary Party

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DAFA Club 3rd Anniversary Party 

November 13, 2021, Tianjin, China 

 

The big, shitty baby has finally turned three, and on this occasion, it has presented a diarrhea-filled diaper of bands representing the best Tianjin has to offer in terms of punk - with a few guests from neighboring cities, as is the custom. 

For this edition, eight bands were advertised on the poster, though due to the ongoing uncertain nature of your favorite virus, a few could not attend. Thankfully, highly anticipated acts Gum Bleed and Rectal Wench made it to the show, as they are only a train ride away, being from Beijing. 

The show started with local psychos Teddy. Its always a mystery as to what Teddys singer will be wearing on stage. I have seen him don butterfly wings and a pink ballerina dress, underwear and a gimp mask. This show nearly outdid all of those in terms of creativity, as Teddy - The Boys, as they like to be called became Teddy - The Good Boys, with the vocalist coming through the crowd with sneakers on his hands, on all fours, with a new gimp mask on his face - literally a human dog. Their set was equally rabid, with songs like Masturbation Master” and Noisemaker” allowing mosh pits to open up early and the temperature in the chilly DAFA bar to heat up significantly. 

The heat kept rising with the Beijing-based three-piece band Shochu Legion. The heavily tattooed frontman brought the heavy, crusty riffs which the crowd ate up - now in addition to skanking, started jumping on the stage and shouting lyrics into the mic to favorites like Mask” - which wouldnt be the last time this would happen.  

The next few bands acted more as breathers after the barrage of Teddy and Shochu Legion. Kids Factory played a fairly typical set. This band has been opening a lot of shows at DAFA and are improving with each performance.  

Up next were Gum Bleed, whom this crowd is not shy about showing their ever-loving support to. The classic Beijing punk band broke into Kiss Me, Im Punk” with the whole floor becoming a moving entity. The microphone was passed along generously, with many fans belting their hearts out to songs like Punx Save the Human Race.” Every Gum Bleed show at DAFA is a huge event, and this was perhaps their biggest showing, with many fans leaving the venue to go home, after, completely satisfied.  

Those who did stick around, though, as the clock went beyond midnight, were the filthy followers of Rectal Wench. The sickest band in China brought the blow-up dolls and even blow-up dinosaurs for this special appearance - not being at one of their own Filthy Parties, but still being filthy enough to want to shower afterwards. The overlord of filth first took the stage with a ski-mask and thong on his head before taking off his pants, unveiling fishnet tights. He put a cute little dress on and then got the fuck off the stage so Rectal Wench could take it. Without a drummer for this show, their sound was similar to when I first saw them back in 2013 in Beijing. This was a rougher, uglier Wench than usual. The blow-up doll was soon degraded and deflated, a shell of her former self. But as the story with their album goes, that is the point - the doll was trying to enslave mankind! The band played a new song this time entitled Furry” or maybe Furry Fucker.” Its good to know the nasty boys are writing in between Filthy Parties.  

A cake was brought onstage for the big birthday finale after Wench finished. Hours of punk and gore really brought out the appetite in people, and the patrons feasted while reminiscing about the good time they had. As they say, heres to a few. Heres to a few more. 

 

- Ryan Dyer 

 

A Lesson in Violence - Execution, Dressed to Kill, Mortality, Mr. Lizard

Sept 19, 2021, The Lotus Club, Tianjin, China

 

By Ryan Dyer

 

At the Lotus Club, the out of the way venue located in the far east end of Tianjin, a few lessons would be given to the metal community of the hulking sister city to Beijing. A lesson in thrash. A lesson in hard rock. A lesson in speed metal. A lesson in old school death metal. All together, it equated to a lesson in violence.

It was a day of incessant rain, which continued until the evening and carried over throughout the show. Thinking back on it in retrospect, the rainy city at night could be compared to the aesthetic of Blade Runner, which fits the 80s theme of this concert.

The soaking wet audience packed into the club and got dry enough while wetting their throats with beer in order to get ready for the show at hand. Mr. Lizard were the first to take the stage. This Tianjin band have been hitting the stages around the city for the past couple of years. The singer spent a lot of years in Australia and is heavily influenced by the likes of Metallica, but musically, they sound similar to Canadian rockers Danko Jones. They were a suitable opener for the rest of the visiting bands, who all came from Beijing.

Mortality is a new four piece band who worships at the alters of madness, bringing an old school death metal attack with nasty riffs and contaminated vocals. Like newcomers Crimson Flag or stalwarts of the scene, Ready to Die, they utilize female vocals to bring a different dynamic to brutal song structures you’ve likely heard many times before, but never get sick of.

The speed metal mania of Dressed to Kill has been revamped with a new singer, who brought a different dimension of power and dynamics to the songs recorded on their debut album Midnight Impulsion. This stop was somewhat of a homecoming, as many of DTK’s members were originally from Tianjin. A new song, “It’s Over” made an appearance tonight, which was originally written by their old singer about COVID, and reworked by the band to what it is now - a half ballad/half rocker. Other song highlights were the infectious “Midnight Comes Around,” “Rose of Kowloon,” and their anthem “Speed Metal Mania.” For fans interested in a little speed metal done with an oriental spin, pop in a Dressed to Kill tape.

Execution are the new prodigal sons of thrash in China. Their Bloodline EP is a furious slab of Bay Area thrash with enough fury to make any Vio-lence, Exodus or Slayer fan jump in the pit without any second thoughts. Their twin guitar attack brought both the beef and the beef shredder, with solos heavily influenced by Slayer (check the eagle tattoo on one of their arms). Two guitars can make the difference between Mr. America and Mr. Universe. Doing double duty tonight, the Mortality guitarist sat behind the kit for Execution, and rattled those skins like they owed him money. After playing through every song on their EP, the band brought out a surprise Metallica “Creeping Death” cover, which sent everyone home happy thrashers.

Plague Fest - Pest Productions 15th Anniversary Road Show

July 25, 20 Years Livehouse, Tianjin, China

 

Since 2005, Pest Productions has been the top label in China concerning black and dark folk metal. With the Plague Fest road show, Pest has put together some of the grimmest, darkest and most cutting-edge bands on its roster to celebrate both the label and the current breed of exceptional bands practising the dark arts in the country.

The Tianjin show was the last stop of the two-part festival run which began in May, meaning tonight would be the last stand - an all-out black metal assault from all the bands involved. Throughout the tour, the festival would have different bands playing each night, with some reoccurring acts bringing the star power to each show such as Frozen Moon.

One main difference in this event was the abundance of merchandise on hand - many of the shows I have attended in China offer few things to take home, but Pest Productions went all out, with t-shirts, bags, CDs and patches available. For promotion and merchandising, a band could do no wrong with Pest Productions in their corner.

The poster for the Tianjin show had Obsession listed as one of the bands, though it was The Illusion of Dawn who were the first to take the stage. A body caked in blood and the band members faces smeared in corpsepaint, TIOD are veterans of the black metal scene in China, being active since the mid 2000s. They revved up the audience from the get-go with primal riffs and depressive wails. During the penultimate song, members of the other bands from the festival took the stage for a duet. The final track, “Obscene Benediction” certainly made an impact, with audience members exchanging anguished, obscene screams into the microphone with the band.

I had seen Tianjin’s Bergrisar twice before on different multi-band shows, but these concerts usually had the band as the odd-band out. With the Plague Fest, though, Bergrisar are now right at home among their black metal brethren. Emerging late last year, the blackened death metal band has made an impression in a short time with their debut album and crushing live shows. They burst through tracks like “War” with unabashed fury, but with Bergrisar, there is time for old school ambiance as well. - when the bell comes out for “Prologue”, you know shit is about to go down. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” indeed.

Vengeful Spectre put out what I consider to be a black metal masterpiece with their 2020 self-titled debut album. The hype for them at this show was real, with many anticipating seeing just how the band would deliver in a live setting. Vocalist Fan Bo is also known for being the front man for Frozen Moon, who would play later in the night. With Frozen Moon, Bo’s stage costumes and eccentric, theatrical poses bring the band to the high echelon of live acts in the country. With Vengeful Spectre, he is no different, dressed in tattered robes with his face painted up like the band’s moniker. Unlike Frozen Moon, Bo’s demeanor with Vengeful Spectre is more menacing and merciless, matching the aggressive musicality of the band. The band played through the entire album, with songs like the hypnotizing “Wailing Wrath” bringing the tempo down to further transfix the in-awe audience.

After the life-altering spectacle that was Vengeful Spectre, it was time for the music to get back to its basics. Not burnt, not well done, but meaty, bloody, and raw, Throat Cutter, like their name, offered primitive poundings from a time of darkness. Three men on stage, their faces concealed by hair - possessed by the power of the riff. With Throat Cutter, singing was rare, with the odd scream into the microphone after two minutes of raw pounding - and the crowd loved it. At this point in the night, the crowd was getting anxious to do a little throat cutting themselves, and used the music as a fitting soundtrack to animalistic shoving and dancing.

The primordial grind of an earth lit only by flame continued with Acherozu who brought a dose of blackened thrash to the 20 Years Livehouse. The Shenyang natives don’t opt for the theatrics - being plain clothed without a trace of makeup on their faces. Their musical output, however, is painted fully black. “Sun Katana” is the slogan beneath their name, and the sharp bladed, war themed songs performed by the band gave those in the pit one more battle before the final act of the night.

Like label-mates Black Kirin and Zuriaake, Frozen Moon have built themselves up to legendary status within the Chinese black metal scene. Their genre-defying albums as of late such as the Legend of East Dan EP and enthralling live shows are something to behold, and for the band to play last at the final Plague Fest show, was fitting and respectable. With lit candles, a table with a skull on it as well as other mythical objects, the band slowly emerged from the darkness, ready to mystify and horrify. They broke into the chanty “Legend of East Dan” as the audience got a good look at the band - Fan Bo’s antler-mask gave him the appearance of a shaman possessed by several malevolent spirits. With each shrieked lyrics, his poses grew more maniacal. At one point, he acknowledged the table skull and did a sort of ritual before tossing Taoist Talismans into the crowd. The spell of Frozen Moon continued until they left the stage as suddenly as they appeared, much like apparitions. Did we just see that? Well, the photos prove that this was all real.

 

- Ryan Dyer

Sunday, 27 June 2021 09:49

One of Us IV

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One of Us IV

June 25/26, 66 Livehouse, Tianjin China

“You will never be one of us.” The Nails lyrics go through my mind every time I see the advertisements for the Chinese festival. Now in its fourth year, One of Us focuses on the thriving young crop of bands who are making huge waves in China. As the festival has grown, so has the number of days, with the festival now expanded to two, with seven bands playing each day.

Day 1

The first day of the festival proved to be the more eclectic of the two, with sprinkles of melody, hip hop and epic, cosmic metal mingling in with old school thrash and deathcore.

After the doors opened at the 66 Livehouse at 6:00PM, the first band of the night, Benetnasch, warmed up the crowd for what was to come. The new tower of cube video screens on the side of the stage made their first impression - showing that even indoor venue concerts can have pizzazz.

The spacey Cosmos were a captivating band to see this night. Founded in 2019, the music is full of oriental flavor and tangible atmosphere. The vocalist is truly a talented dude who effortlessly holds the audience in the palm of his hand through epic, ballad-like cosmic metal. Progressive music fans should take note of these cosmonauts.

Scarlet Horizon were next up and the crowd were absolutely stoked for the gorgeous deathcore masters. Festival veterans, Scarlet Horizon have played the last two years of the festival, and have the audience trained to their back-and-forth dance moves. Brutal, catchy, and beautiful, Scarlet Horizon are your band if you like visual kei infused with brutal breakdowns.

One of Us doesn’t only focus on the new breed of Chinese talent, as one of China’s oldest thrash bands, the legendary Suffocated made their presence felt next, showing the young studs just how its done. Their placement on the card was key as they provided a bridge between styles and were pivotal for interested fans who may only like thrash to check out the festival.

Korsion were the first of two surprises for the festival in terms of broadening its horizons and including styles which aren’t grounded in metal. Featuring a male and female vocalist and 80s looking sunsets on their video screens, Guangdong’s Korsion brought an upbeat, electric shock of a set.

The next surprise of the night was Leeyon, who truly broke the mold for what the One of Us festival is about. It wouldn’t be wrong to say this guy is a heartthrob, as his many fans in attendance can attest to, but it also wouldn’t be wrong to say he’s very talented. With songs including hip hop, emo and deathcore trimmings - one minute you’re reminded of Eminem and the next Bring Me the Horizon.

Awake Mountains represent the once silent and solemn mountains coming to life to inspire awe in the masses. The band was formed in 2017 and in just a short time, have proven to be headliner material with their made-for-TV form of accessible, emotionally driven metalcore. They were the perfect choice to end the versatile day 1 of One of Us, which featured some true superstars of the scene.

Day 2

The second day of the festival was a who’s who of Chinese core giants. The first four bands hitting the stage on this day are all smashing the barriers of heavy music in China and should be exposed more to the Western world. Well, I’ll try my best.

Hangzhou’s Lie to the Silence were the first to pummel the audience, and could be a headlining act on their own. Their use of symphonic backing tracks to their skin shredding form of deathcore is something I haven’t heard utilized in such a way. Truly a new sound that others may be copying if they get wind of this noise.

Leviathan have gone through many change-ups throughout the years, and while I haven’t seen their past iterations live, this one has to be by far the strongest. The sea god parted the pit and caused the good folks at the 66 Livehouse to crash together in a wave of death as they destroyed the stage like a raging ocean storm.

Straight from the streets and ready for a beatdown, Armed Conflict then hit the stage to put a kill-shot to anyone still standing after Leviathan’s set. The young fellows are masters at creating churning slam parts that slow to a crawl. If there is any slam band who could reach the heights of one Dark Prison Massacre, it’s Armed Conflict.

Guangzhou’s Horror of Pestilence were perhaps the most anticipated band of the whole festival. The musicality of this technical death metal band is simply staggering - like a symphonic plague. Apart from their heavy-as-hell side, they had the crowd lighting up their phones like Ozzy asking to see those cigarette lighters for the softer areas.

Another Guangzhou act, The Will on Kill provided a pivot in styles for night 2 of the festival. Now clearly in the metalcorish realm with clean singing and more melody than the wreckage of the last five acts, The Will on Kill captivated their many fans, having them screaming the choruses in euphoric fashion.

A bunch of droogs who opted to pick up some instruments rather than hang around at the milk bar, Clockwork Moon were by far the most melodic band of night 2, marking a much needed break in the heavy platter that came before them. The band was ethereal and dreamy - the perfect thing to listen to under a golden moon.

One of the longest running and strongest of China’s deathcore bands, Four Five started in Beijing in 2004. Throughout the years, their style has morphed - covering death core, djent, hardcore, new metalcore and more - and with each passing year, their legend has grown. After two long days, the fans, now worn out, were ready for one more fight with the dreadlocked veterans.

When all was said and done, the tired, but mostly wired crowd left the livehouse, knowing they’d just experienced a concert for the ages - maybe the concert of the year. What’s next for One of Us - a three day festival? An outdoor festival? I guess we will see next year.

 

- Ryan Dyer

Friday, 04 June 2021 03:33

One of Us - Star Chasers

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One of Us - Star Chasers

March 20, 2021, 20 Years Live House, Tianjin China

 

It was a night to showcase young heavy talent in China - as brought to you by the team who produces one of the biggest core-infused festivals in China, One of Us. Now in its fourth year, this one-off, entitled Star Chasers, was meant to test the waters for which band might be added to the festival later in the year.

The venue was the 20 Years Live House, which is a long train ride into the western area of Tianjin - not exactly within the inner city. I wouldn’t come here every day for a show, but for a special occasion like this, it was necessary.

Six bands would perform tonight - each being fairly new to the scene. While a few were local, others came from Beijing, Chengdu, Jinan and Shandong.

Up first were Beijing’s Artemis. They were notably the only band of the night to have a female member, and were the lightest of the bunch. Their use of clean, ballad like vocals made the band stand out as one which may actually rise above this metal scene and into the mainstream.

Imprison Heart made the trip from Jinan to play this festival and were warmly greeted by the packed house. The members are a fusion of styles - looking like a mixed bag of subcultures. Together, they create a formidable form of metalcore which was certainly suitable for this type of festival.

Knivesrain made the long trip from Chengdu to play the festival and were the most interesting band of the night for me - their sound is rooted in deathcore but borrows a lot of electronic elements. If those knives were a storm of lightsabers, you’d get a more fitting depiction of their sound.

Local rising starts Iron Throne were up next. In the past six months, they have shed many of their folk metal trappings for a brutal deathcore sound. A new logo, new members and a new mean streak have proved wonders for the band, who put on a boot stomping set which was until that point, the heaviest of the night.

Another local act who did play the One of Us festival last year, The Query, performed next. They have a sizable fan base within Tianjin, and play an impassioned form of metalcore which had the attendees raising their hands and singing along with pride.

The post-modern humor of Shandong’s Sexy Oldguys is beginning to make big waves in the underground grind scene of China. When I saw them before, they were two sexy guys with a drum machine. Now, they were three sexy guys (one wearing a lot of makeup) with a real beat to back the facetious brutality that only a few young dudes who call themselves old can bring.

 

- Ryan Dyer

Sunday, 11 April 2021 06:11

Filthy Party! Rectal Wench, Impure Injection, Globularcyst

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Filthy Party! Rectal Wench, Impure Injection, Globularcyst

April 10, DAFA Club, Tianjin China

By Ryan Dyer

 

Disciples of gore, grind, smut, porn and all things found in the sex shops or the sewer found their chapel with one of two special concerts put on by Chinese goregrind heroes Rectal Wench to celebrate the release of their new album, Judgment of Whore Labia From the Sewer Throne, out now via Splatter Zombie Records. The dildos and blow up dolls were set up around the bar while a single toilet was set up on stage, ready for the bowel movements to come from the performers who live and breathe this endearingly depraved way of life.

Shows like this have a history in China, with Gore Feasts taking place as early as 2013 - featuring bands like Rectal Wench, along with the now defunct Cave Have Rod, Ready to Die, and The Dark Prison Massacre. Cave Have Rod made it to the Obscene Extreme Festival in the Czech Republic, and the show tonight was like a mini version of the said grind event.

Newcomers Globularcyst were the first to take the toilet-christened stage. This “vomiting pathological goregrind band” have been studying the medical scribes written by Carcass, Disgorge, and Viscera Infest and dressed in doctor’s scrubs and Jig-Ai shirts, were a textbook example of new mutations within the Chinese goregrind scene, being a laxative for the rectal waterfalls to come later in the evening.

If The Dark Prison Massacre are heroes to Tianjin, then surely Impure Injection is the one man grindcore hero to Zibo. Without the extra man power of a drummer or bass player, Mr. Zhenfei Geng showed that just like his records, one man, one mind with enough sick skill is enough to satisfy the brutal needs of a smut-hungry crowd. When needed, audience members, such as a man dressed as a banana and the sexual scream-moans of a female grinder, added to his catchy compositions. His latest EP Gore in the North features a song dedicated to Rectal Wench entitled “Rectal Wench Has No Mandarin Name”, which means Chinese citizens have had to learn a couple of filthy English words to get into the headliners of the Filthy Party.

All three of these bands could very well be hits at the Obscene Extreme Festival, and the set by Rectal Wench very much conveyed the spirit of the festival, with blow up sex dolls, blow up sex aliens (with alien fucker written across their chests) and dildos of all shapes and sizes to be beaten on, thrown about or dry humped by the band and audience members throughout the performance. The band, wearing lucha masks, tore through a 20 song set that included tracks spanning their lengthy career. It really brought out the best in people - the guy dressed in a banana costume peeled himself free of it and the clothes came off entirely for at least one overly enthused audience member. The toilet on stage was like a throne, often sat on as carnage ensued around it. The filthy kingdom had come undone! At the end of the set, after classic tracks “Gore Gore Gore” and “King Anus”, the emperors of the kingdom of feces, Rectal Wench, took a minute to vomit into the porcelain bowl. The scene afterwards was like a crime scene of murdered blow up dolls and aliens, who sadly couldn’t make it to the Filthy Afterparty.

December 12, 2020, 66 Livehouse, Tianjin China

 

The first snow of the year appeared in Tianjin on this day and with it, five of China’s most esteemed metal acts came into town for the Golden Age Metal Festival. Unlike other recent festivals which had a few filler bands, the five here were all top quality acts which could, and have, headlined their own tours.

66 Livehouse was jam-packed by the time the first band of the night got on stage, 雪沉乐队. At the One Of Us III Metal Festival a few months back, they were the final band to play, meaning that after nine acts, the crowd was spent. Here, their brand of modern folk metal was the beginning of an avalanche of energy which didn’t let up all night. In particular, crowd favorite “乌木” ignited the crowd like a New Year’s firework.

Black Kirin have traded in a lot of the black metal aesthetic since the last time they came through town for high concept, dramatic storytelling under a blackened tapestry. Gone is the corpse paint but gained is a show that is all-encompassing, like a 45 minute drama or Chinese opera, only this story is that of some of the darkest times in China. An image I will never forget was as the band was band playing, on the video screen behind them (previously showing their “Nanking Massacre” video), an image that resembles a school photo of children slaughtered, while the choral voices of infantile spirits were heard accompanying the grieving shrieks of the vocalist. It was, in a word - powerful.

Zuriaake, meaning “Lake of Corpses” have created a mythology for themselves these past few years. Their costumes come across like Sunn O))) mixed with the first iteration of Ghost, though oriental. Their live show was ceremonious. First, tree branches with lanterns were set upon the stage. Then, incense was lit to set the mood. Then, the members, all dressed in ominous black robes and fishing hats, their faces concealed, slowly emerged to properly mystify the audience. A strange vial was opened and splashed upon audience members in the front rows about three songs in like a black baptism. Their brand of atmospheric black metal was much like the incense which permeated through their set - lingering and potent, and when they left the stage, it was as if a spell had been lifted. As I said before, tonight was the first time it has snowed heavily all year, and I kid you not, when going outside for some fresh air after their performance, it was coming down heavily right after their set. It was something magical.

Recently the Mongolian band The Hu have received a lot of attention due to their unique brand of folk metal - making some cheeky commenters claim to be proud of being Mongolian despite not being a native of the country. Their cover of “Sad But True” by Metallica has certainly aided the hype. However, I would argue that Nine Treasures are just as, if not better than The Hu. This Inner Mongolian band creates folk metal songs that are infectiously catchy, and utilize a lot of the same instrumentation (such as the morin khuur), and throat singing seen by their brethren up north. When the band broke into “Wisdom Eyes”, the audience became as unglued as a stable of horses after a wasp nest was tossed in it. Truly one of China’s musical treasures.

I had a few preconceived notions about The Samans before catching them at this show. I had only heard their track “Whale Song”, which has a chorus lifted from Linkin Park’s “Numb”, which left me feeling uneasy. As the final band of the night, and not knowing much about them besides this, they had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, the band stuck some ancient Chinese melo-death down my throat and relieved my ailments. The band has more in common with Rammstein or nu metal acts such as downthesun than Linkin Park. The vocals are rough and distorted, while songs like “Death March” and “Attila” have plenty of crunch in the riff department. Despite being quite heavy, they don’t forget about their culture, and the odd folk melody can be heard within the chaos. At this point in the night you’d expect the crowd to be tired, but during The Samans, the stage divers and crowdsurfers came out like gangbusters, giving one last go while covered in sweat before venturing out into the cold after the show, and to their ordinary lives the next day. As for this show - it was golden.

 

-Ryan Dyer

Tuesday, 01 December 2020 23:40

The Next Fest - 66 Livehouse, Tianjin China

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The Next Fest

 

66 Livehouse, Nov 1, Tianjin China

 

During the months spent isolated during the coronavirus outbreak, it seems promoters and bands have been busy. This new festival, entitled The Next Fest, is just one of the newer multi-band festivals popping up in China in the latter months of 2020. Each festival is fairly broad in a musical sense and has bands of different genres, which goes a long way in bringing in a larger group of fans. The Next Fest featured nine bands and took place at the 66 Livehouse in Tianjin, which is quickly becoming the go-to place for larger, but not stadium-sized, touring bands.

The first to perform was death metal act Bergrisar, who started off with an atomic blast in one of the heaviest sets of the night. These corpse painted fiends handed out blackened blastbeats like leftover Halloween candy.

Wearing Madball shirts, Six Four One embodied the spirit of NY hardcore with a set resembling a Bronx street fight. They demanded early walls of deaths as people still piled in the venue and then piled into themselves in a scene which was a crude contrast to the social distancing still going on in most of the world.

The one band I would say was the odd one out on this night was Cosmos. Dressed in loose robes and standing rather still on the stage, their prog soundscapes mixed with metalcore vocals was interesting but not very rousing for the audience. Still, their musicianship was appreciated with a rousing applause at the end of their set.

The Will On Kill is a band of strapping young lads who brought a contemporary deathcore pizzazz to the night. The name of the band bugs me every time I see it - shouldn’t it be The Will To Kill? Regardless, they brought a sublime, youthful aggression to the stage with demonic growls and well placed clean choruses.

Known for being the premier Chinese folk metal band, Dream Spirit arrived on stage in full costume ready to spellbind the audience. Since the last time I saw them there seems to have been a few lineup changes, but the classic sound of high quality folk metal was as clear as ever, which had the crowd celebrating like it was Chinese New Year.

Who said nu metal is dead? I didn’t know what to expect from Mega Soul, and when I heard they were nu metal, set my expectations a little low, but this band was truly punishing in a live sense and their new nu aesthetic was anything but hokey. True, they did have a few cliches like tormented vocals, and even did a tease for Korn’s “Blind”, but then tore into one of their original tracks which was like Mudvayne at their heaviest - the bass sound almost jumping out of the speakers and possessing the people in the pit.

Continuing with the nu bands of the night, a lethal dose of Chinese rap metal was what we got with Liquid Oxygen Can. Starting off with a freestyle rap, which led into a brutal breakdown, the band, with a skull logo surrounded by two bottles of what I imagine to be vodka (but could be baijiu) were equal parts street and sawmill. At the conclusion of their set, they had the hottest girls in the place (and a lone guy who wanted to boogie) get up on stage to dance to a final sickening outro.

A microphone stand decorated with horns and animal skulls was set up on the stage for the emergence of China’s oldest black metal band, Ritual Day. Introduced to the western world through Sam Dunn’s Global Metal, the band has been at it for 20 years now, ever evolving their craft with added traditional instrumentation, blackened atmosphere and on stage theatrics. The band, wearing their now iconic corpse paint, played their half symphonic, half thrash barrage set to an audience who looked on in astonishment.

The most break-neck breakdowns were reserved for the final band of the night, Awake Mountains. Another youthful deathcore ensemble who utilize clean vocals in areas, the band and especially the singer channeled western genre staples like Suicide Silence into their look and sound, while bringing some elements of originality such as spoken word sampling. The audience had been there for a long time, but I had to give it to these guys - their sheer energy woke everyone up like an adrenaline injection to the heart for one last showing in the pit.

 

-Ryan Dyer

Extreme the Dojo vol 32. Napalm Death, Eyehategod, Misery Index, Melt-Banana

March 5, 2019, Club Quattro, Osaka, Japan

 

By Ryan Dyer

 

Extreme the Dojo is a metal concert variety series in Japan which usually brings together three or four big name acts together in one show. Held in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo, the likes of Nasum, Obituary, Melvins, High on Fire, Nile, Municipal Waste, Behemoth, Pig Destroyer and of course Napalm Death have locked up at the dojos. Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals will take part in volume 33 of the series. Obviously, the forerunners of these events have great taste.

 

Volume 32 saw four huge underground acts together under one roof - Napalm Death, Eyehategod, Misery Index and Melt-Banana. In Osaka, it was held in Club Quattro - a livehouse which used to be a cinema on the 10th floor of a building in the center of Umeda, Osaka’s bar and club district. The show brought together a variety of different people - crust punks, veteran metalheads who have been to several dojos - sporting t-shirts from past events, a handful of foreigners and the odd three-piece suit clad business man. There seemed to be no sense of elitism in the crowd as everyone felt in place as they chatted among each other in the t-shirt line or smoke room before the bands started.

 

First up was Japan’s Melt-Banana, a legendary noise/grind/experimental project who would merit a trip to Japan alone. The band has had a long relationship with Napalm Death, touring with them and the Melvins on their 2016 tour. The two piece of Yasuno Onuki and Ichirou Agata best exemplify the feeling of walking around cyberworld districts like Shibuya or Dotonbori - a sensory overload of lights and sounds - high pitched chirping emanating maid cafe girls, and post-metal guitar bordering on hyperreal with programmed bass, drums and electronic blips and bleeps blanketing the audio canvas like a digital hot spring.

 

Ichirou, clad in a medical mask, utilized a deli tray of pedals while Onuki waved around her hand held beat sequencing device like a replicant sorceress through their half hour set, starting with “Feedback Deficiency” on through tracks from their latest highly acclaimed album Fetch, through their earlier efforts. “My Missing Link” is a suitable name for the experience Melt-Banana brings - obviously influencing countless female sung, hybrid bands since their inception, but by being based in Japan, a bit obscure unless a special occasion brings them overseas. The fans at Extreme the Dojo, however, seemed more interested in the foreign riff mongers who followed, and besides myself, I think only three or four other people bought Melt-Banana shirts. Maybe they had seen them too often and the novelty had worn off - but to me it was something of a revelation and homecoming. It was the right move to have Melt-Banana play first, as their jarring brand of music would no doubt alter the vibe brought by the next three bands.

 

Up next were Baltimore’s Misery Index, who after Melt-Banana, brought a more streamlined and straightforward ass kicking to the Japanese crowd. This was meat and potatoes without any wasabi. It is worth noting now that the sound quality at these Japanese concerts is absolutely top notch. The crunching riffs sounded crisper here than on CD, I dare say. The crowd was ready to throw down now as the band crushed through songs from their five previous releases before unleashing a new track from their upcoming Rituals of Power LP. Guitarist Darrin Morris wowed the crowd with showman like poses while the rest of the band grinded away. The crowd ate it up and chanted when appropriate, such as during their anti-anthems “Traitors” or “Heretics”. The band travelled several hours overseas for these few dojo shows, and made sure they made their mark on the audience, who were aching for more when all was said and done.

 

Now let’s slow the tempo down to the speed of sap dripping down a maple tree near Minoh waterfall. The Louisiana sludge legends Eyehategod took the dojo to an alter of feedback worship as the band played for a very eager audience who had not seen Eyehategod in Japan for a number of years.

 

Starting with “Lack of Almost Everything” and “Jack Ass in the Will of God”, the riffs and agitated screams of the band no doubt brought flashbacks to the older members of the audience of the legal days of mushroom usage in Japan. Mike Williams groaned on tracks like “Agitation! Propaganda” but between songs joked in jest with guitarist Jimmy Bower about how quiet the crowd were - as is custom in Japan. The crowd will applause enthusiastically once the song ends but won’t shout out like barbarians as the band preps for the next offering.

 

Their latest self-titled album was featured heavily, with “Parish Motel Sickness” and “Medicine Noose” appearing, with Bower raising his mic stand and cord like a makeshift rope before letting in to the lyrics of the latter. ‘This song is about fucking your sister,’ was the cue for “Sisterfucker (Part 1)” followed by its sequel. The set ended with the monolithic sludge jam of “Run it into the Ground” from their debut In the Name of Suffering and as the feedback faded, fans went to the bar for one more drink before as the Godfathers of sludge left the stage and the Godfathers of grind set up to destroy it.

 

Britain’s Napalm Death are no stranger to Japan, playing the Extreme the Dojo event before with Nasum and Pig Destroyer, as well as other small tours throughout their 30-plus year existence. They have a connection with the crowd and judging by the hype of the people there and number of t-shirts sported by the Japanese fans, were the act most wanted to see this evening.

 

“Unchallenged Hate” broke down the doors as an opening track. Pits immediately opened and the packed room suddenly folded in on itself like a sushi roll. Roarer Barney Greenway has the admirable quality of going from Tasmanian devil mode during tracks like “Smash a Single Digit” and “Everyday Pox” to civil humanitarian in his between-song speeches. He preached to the audience about peace, love and understanding - stating that every person on planet earth deserves to live a comfortable, happy life. And what is a happier time than experiencing the legendary Napalm Death slam through “Suffer the Children” and “Scum”?

 

From their latest compilation album, Coded Smears and More Uncommon Slurs came “Standardization” a track about ‘How the higher ups want to make every person completely stagnant and like everyone else’. From their latest LP, Apex Predator - Easy Meat, they unleashed “Cesspits” ‘A song about people dying in pits from making shit we don’t need. How fucking ironic.’ “You Suffer” and “Dead” were played consecutively, ‘Two very harmonious tracks’ quipped Greenway while catching his breath afterwards. The audience cheered politely before another pocket of silence - which brought fourth “Silence is Deafening”. When the last seconds of its crunchy breakdown ended, more silence, ‘How fucking appropriate’ laughed Greenway. The set came to a close with their cover of the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks - Fuck Off” and their classic “Siege of Power”.

 

‘We will be back in a few years - it’s like clockwork.’ Indeed, how the years condemn, but they also bring gifts like a grindcore family reunion with the Godfathers.

Thursday, 28 February 2019 11:36

Foreigner Live Review

Published in Live Reviews Written by

FOREIGNER

Molson Canadian Theatre
Hard Rock Casino, Vancouver, BC
Feb 23rd, 2019

 

“Standing in the rain, with my head hung low.
Couldn't get a ticket, it was a sold out show.
Heard the roar of the crowd, I could picture the scene.
Put my ear to the wall, then like a distant scream.
I heard one guitar, just blew me away.”

That guitar belonged to one of Foreigner's original founding members, Mick Jones, as he set out across Canada on Foreigner's Cold As Ice tour. This Rock Icon is also a record producer (Van Halen, Bad Company, The Cult, and Billy Joel) and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2013.

Thanks to Sonja, Amanda, and Nancy at the Hard Rock in Coquitlam I was able to get media access to the second of two sold out shows.  

The Casino is full of epic Rock memorabilia as I made my way towards the Molson Canadian Theatre (previously the legendary Red Robinson Show Theatre). This top quality venue has an open floor area for those wanting to get closer to the band, who provided a tight seven-piece Rockstravaganza on this night!

A giant disco ball hanging from the ceiling added to the nostalgic ambiance of the night, reflecting a hypnotic glow across the entranced audience. It was then the show kicked off with the songs Long, Long Way, Double Vision, Head Games and Cold As Ice. Cold As Ice had Mick Jones switching talent from guitar to keyboards.

Foreigner's singer (since 2005) Kelly Hansen delivered spot on vocals as he roamed into the crowd like a tiger in search of prey in his striped shirt and flowing rockstar scarf. Before launching into Dirty White Boy, he commented on how many beautiful Canadian women were in the audience and how many of them were with sketchy looking dudes.

This tour also marked the 40th Anniversary of the Head Games album and Foreigner even went back 42 years to their first song people ever heard on FM Radio and 8-Track Feels Like the First Time.

The stellar setlist consisted of other established hits like Waiting For A Girl Like You, Blue Morning, I Want To Know, and Urgent with cowbell and blazing saxophone solos by Thom Gimbel. He could have been father of the legendary oiled-up sax man from The Lost Boys.

A spaced-out keyboard solo got the room pulsating and clapping. Then a drum solo for the ages including the ol’ water on the drums trick. It looked wicked and sounded even better. Cue the giant gong that led directly into fan favourite Jukebox Hero. The starry eyed crowd erupted and sang along to every word. I'm looking forward to Jukebox Hero: The Musical. 

For the encore it was time to light up those cell phones for I Want To Know What Love Is as Foreigner was joined on stage by a high school choir from Coquitlam. The band ended the night with a scorching rendition of Hot Blooded.  After their final bows, the band thanked the audience for “Warming our hearts even though it's super cold outside.”

Rock 'n' Roll will never die thanks to places like The Molson Canadian Theatre at the Hard Rock Casino.

Thanks again to Sonja, Amanda, and Nancy! Keep on Rockin'!!!

Check out www.hardrockcasinovancouver.com for upcoming events such as Cheech and Chong on March 15th and The Lalas Burlesque Show on April on April 12th.

-Ira Hunter

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