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One of Us IV

Sunday, 27 June 2021 09:49 Published in Live Reviews

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

AU Vol. 17–4 Issue 100

Tuesday, 01 June 2021 00:00 Published in Volume 17

Absolute Underground issue #100 – 17 years in the making... our 100th issue!!! Featuring interviews with Juno Award winners Unleash The Archers, Cirith Ungol, Rat Scabies, Real Sickies, Skids, and Murray “The Cretin” Acton.

Also in this issue:

  • Wet Cigarette
  • Austringer
  • Osyron
  • Maitreya
  • Lycanthro
  • Cursed Blessings Records
  • Supreme Echo - Pandora
  • Pirates Press Records - Plizzken
  • Pure Punk - Sid Vicious
  • Untold Horror
  • Music Waste

One of Us - Star Chasers

Friday, 04 June 2021 03:33 Published in Live Reviews

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

AU Vol. 17–3 Issue 99

Thursday, 01 April 2021 00:00 Published in Volume 17

Absolute Underground #99 - 420 Issue!!! - Tommy Chong, Weed Olympics, Plant Tonix, Cannabis Corner, Turn Key Micro, Wollammo!, Titty Titty Bong Bong, Greenleaf, King Bong. Also Victoria’s Hardcore pioneers the NEOS.

 

Also In This Issue:

  • Vic City Rejects
  • Momy Fortuna
  • Belushi Speed Ball
  • Mikey Valentine
  • Cursed Blessings Records
  • Shred Session - Timmo Jak
  • Shadow Cabinet with Grayson Caligari
  • Snowy Shaw
  • D.I. - Casey Royer - Clinton Calton
  • Stomp Records - Rude City Riot
  • Powder Seekers
  • Gerry Jenn Wilson Memorial

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.

AU Vol. 17–2 Issue 98

Monday, 01 February 2021 00:00 Published in Volume 17

Absolute Underground #98 - Lockdown Love: Valentine's Day Covid Dating Advice Issue featuring exclusive interviews with Judas Priest's Rob Halford, Steel Panther's Stix Zadinia, and Deaner from FUBAR.

Also In This Issue:

 

  • Teenage Violets
  • Ape War
  • Malice Divine
  • Powder Seekers - Micah McGinnity
  • The Shit Talkers
  • Cevin Key
  • Manticore Kiss
  • The Peelers
  • Mediaslaves
  • Daemon Grey
  • JC Townsend
  • Thunder Queens

AU Vol. 17–1 Issue 97

Tuesday, 01 December 2020 00:00 Published in Volume 17

Absolute Underground #97 - Christmas Cancelled Issue. Dedicated to Logan's Pub aka The Tavern of the Damned (RIP) -
Featuring Love Letters to Logan's and photo and gig poster collages.

Also In This Issue:

  • Without Mercy
  • Citizen Rage
  • Doghouse Rose
  • Chris Spedding
  • The Waning Light
  • Refused
  • Cursed Blessings - Dragged In
  • The TV Dead
  • The Aggros
  • The Boys
  • Fang
  • Jayne County

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

The Next Fest - 66 Livehouse, Tianjin China

Tuesday, 01 December 2020 23:40 Published in Live Reviews

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

AU Vol. 16–6 Issue 96

Thursday, 01 October 2020 00:00 Published in Volume 16

Absolute Underground #96 - Halloween Freak Show Issue!
Featuring Clive Barker's Hellraiser & Nightbreed interviews with the cast. Jam packed with even more Ghoulies, Terrifier, Troma's Lloyd Kaufman, Monster Squad, and GWAR! We also talk to Kane Hodder of Friday the 13th & Hatchet infamy.

Also in this issue:

  • The Cabal Cut - Russell Cherrington
  • Nightbreed - Narcisse - Hugh Ross
  • Terrifier
  • The Damned - Rat Scabies - Paul Gray
  • Clive Barker
  • Doug Bradley - Simon Bamford - Barbie Wilde - Nicholas Vince
  • Artist Profile - Graham Humphreys
  • The Monster Squad - Andre Gower
  • Kane Hodder
  • Ghoulies - Luca Bercovici & Jefery Levy
  • Gwar - Pustulus Maximus
  • Lloyd Kaufman - #Shakespearesshitstorm

 

Copyright Absolute Underground 2011/2012. All rights reserved.

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