I traveled all the way to Lemoyne, PA to see this show at The Champ. The club is hidden away behind what looks like an automobile body shop and you have to pass beneath a couple of train track bridges. I was driving around like a stupid tourist for about half an hour trying to find it, but once I did, I will never forget where The Champ is. They host any number of live metal shows and will be hosting the 5th Annual Tryptophan Fest on November 29th. Here’s the lineup:
AWAKEN THE HIVE
If you love melodic, guitar driven death metal then AWAKEN THE HIVE will deliver live. The compositions had nice transitions and technical solos. I found myself thinking their live set would make a great album. The drummer was SOLID and the vocalist had a good set of lungs on him. This was a good, rev you up opening act and I think they should have been deeper into the lineup. Listen to their single “Bloodborn” and you’ll see why.
The lineup included the progressive and instrumental NIGHT. The songs were droning and atmospheric with a backbone of technical drums. Vocals could very easily be added to give another facet of interest. Their use of effects and feedback as an alternative to a human voice showed an experimental bent. I could not find them on Facebook, but they are worth a night out if you enjoy ANIMALS AS LEADERS or CHON. UPDATE: Thanks to James David Kibler, I was informed that KNIGHT is actually NIGHT and here is their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Night717
SINCERELY, YOURS is a Metalcore outfit and they are brave and brash. I wasn’t going to mention this band because they did not fit and they were very young. What do you do as a critic when you are faced with a set that is enthusiastic and full of good musicians, but the songs are all over the place? Tell them to tighten up their act and get more experience under their belts. Keep plugging at it until it falls into place. It’s rough out there so have fun like you did at this show. According to their Facebook, they’re doing just that so “Bravo!” for being serious about the music. \m/
GROSS EX MACHINA
GROSS EX MACHINA almost lost me on the first song and then it was as if a switch had been thrown on song two. Magically, they tightened up exhibiting progressive and post-hardcore elements with a horror ethos creating a brutal sound that switches on a dime to delicate experimental melodies. I’ve seen bands like this that need to prime the pump before they draw me in. Always stick around for the first three songs to give an act you’ve never seen before an opportunity to show their chops.
BLACK CROWN INITIATE
I was practically on top of the stage to see BLACK CROWN INITIATE. One word that describes their performance is MAJESTIC. The lead vocalist (James) emoted with mesmerizing passion and polished off some of the most intense technical death metal I’ve heard this year. Jesse, the drummer, had this insane swivel technique on the double bass that made his legs look like a blur. Andy just went crazy, hair and beard flying everywhere, and when he sang, you couldn’t tell he had a baseball in his face (see Metal Descent’s interview with him HERE). His clean vocals matched the crisp tones of his guitar so I was very impressed. Afterwards, James shared that he had been to the hospital for a heart glitch the night before and was taking it very easy on stage (??). I’m almost breathless wondering what he’d sing like in top condition because one of the members of the audience said, “Your vocals gave me goose bumps.” I agree and with Nick (bassist) and Rik (rhythm guitarist and harsh vocals) in the mix, BCI plays like a well-oiled, TDM machine. BLACK CROWN INITIATE will be on tour with CROWBAR and UNEARTH starting November 30th. You can check it out HERE.
RIVERS OF NIHIL
I’ve reviewed RIVERS OF NIHIL before. They are bad news in a good way. Their brutal death metal thrives on The Champ’s more intimate stage and being a Pennsylvania band, they attracted a host of die-hard fans that fed their magic. Everything about RIVERS OF NIHIL’s music is relentless with a garnishment of atmospheric guitar. You could tell by individual stage presences the type of music they played. The bassist’s hands were double jointed on the frets while the vocalist roared across the stage. The drummer laid it down thick and solid and off on stage left was the guitarist, whose fingers crawled like spiders and flipped knobs and switches to get the precise effect and tone that riveted the leather of each song together. RIVERS OF NIHIL are in Canada today and tomorrow and will then continue down the East Coast of the U.S. into December. You can check it out HERE.
And there you have it. I just want to put this out there, since I’m an artist myself. Please make a point to buy CDs and merchandise from the bands as they tour. Not only will you get a better deal (no shipping) but you get to connect with the very people who created the work. They get food and gas money for the tour. It’s not like back in the day when the record label footed the entire bill. These musicians are putting their own money and livelihoods on the line to bring music you love to your town. Stepping down from my soapbox.
Have you seen any of these bands on stage? Reader anecdotes are welcome in the comments. Share your stories with us!
I.O. Kirkwood is the Senior Live Music Editor for Metal Descent. You can read her personal blog HERE.