Chuck Schuldiner Project

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Surgeon, Sunrot, Devoidov and Dutchguts at Aviv

Aviv is a really fun place to see a show. It has that wonderful punk rock vibe that makes so much of the Brooklyn scene so great but manages to have excellent sound, a cheap bar and a relatively safe atmosphere. It's a venue that has managed to figure out the best of both worlds, which makes me sad that they will be closing down son. As with many nights like this it started at punk o'clock, in many ways only adding to the inherent charm of the venue and the show. There's something special about gathering with twenty five other punks and falling in love all over again.

First up were black metallers Surgeon on tour from Philadelphia. They came on and delivered the same sort of destructive madness that made their new record Beast Of Light such a hit. Surgeon understand the fundamental beauty of black metal, and though they seemed limited by the size of the stage they delivered a set that left me in awe. Their sheer compositional excellence shines through in a live setting and you start to get a sense for how goddamn talented these guys are. They hint at several types of black metal but manage to create something that is entirely their own - passionate and over the top.

Sunrot were at the end of a three day run with Surgeon, and despite their frontwoman losing her voice they managed to put on a killer show, brought forward by Lex's dynamic antics. There is something wonderfully huge about this bands sound, it's easy to get lost in their sound. They represent a great combination of punk rock aesthetics and sludgier, doomier frontiers. Sunrot move forward with a sort of antediluvian might, aware of their own humanity but willing to push boundaries in the name of punk rock. They are the sort of band tailor made for Aviv - they understand the genre can take us farther, but show that they will never forget their roots.

I had seen Devoidov years ago when they were still Pharaoh. Now they have another guitar player and a more evolved, far gnarlier sound. They were stunning to watch live, they represent a very exciting side of the sludge metal genre, beautifully orchestrated but also wonderfully sludgy. Their music is fundamentally jam oriented, but their understanding of riffs is truly exciting and hints at a band who could go on to do some amazing things. As is, they are a lot of fun to watch and suggest to me that Devoidov is exactly the next phase that Pharaoh needed to enter to start to achieve their full potential.

I hadn't seen Dutchguts last night but I'd heard a lot about them. I'm thrilled to report that they totally live up to the hype. This is the sort of fuzzy, dirty and fucked up rock and roll band who perfectly represent what their genre is all about. Tossing in a Motorhead cover to their set to liven things up you get the sense that Dutchguts are the spirit of punk rock. Sure some of the songs drag on, but with guitar tone this tight and riffs that juicy it's hard not to remain entranced by Dutchguts. Sure they went on late, but they fucked shit up anyway because their unique blend of stoner rock, hardcore and punk is what the underground feeds on.

And so the underground beats on - nights like these remind us that we can still have fun moshing with our friends, engaging in gang vocals and even taking group photos. Bands need floors to sleep on and shitty food to eat - that's part of how it's supposed to be and the people who run Aviv get that. It was a night that showed that despite the nihilism of the underground there is still hope and no matter what we can find a way forward, figure out the eternal pain we all suffer from and drink a few beers with our friends.

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Downfall Of Gaia - Atrophy

Holy shit, Downfall of Gaia have done it again. This is a band who can change the face of black metal, a band who take the beauty found in the music of groups like Deafheaven and Alcest and use that as a jumping off point for something far greater. The bands 2014 release Aeon Unveils The Thrones Of Decay was an absolute stunner and a major step forward for the band, especially with the addition of drummer Michael Kadnar. Atrophy sees another lineup change, this time with guitarist Marco Mazzola entering the fold. While this may not be as big a step forward as their previous release, Atrophy is still an absolute masterpiece.

It's hard for the modern black metal fan to not fall totally in love with Atrophy. This is a record that captures the beauty of the genres polemic but also pushes it far beyond. There is some incredible melodic content here, and of course the drums absolutely sparkle. The progressions here are the real highlight. There is a sense of forward motion and newfound dedication that you don't often find in this type of black metal. There is a very subtle sense of poetry here, sure Downfall Of Gaia is on the artsier side of the metal world, but the band manages to remain down to earth, creating music that rarely gets overtly pretentious but rather encourages full immersion.

Atrophy is an album that is easy to dive in to and hard to pull out of. It has a wonderful elegance to it that moves forward one beautiful step at a time. In many ways it feels like listening to a larger orchestral piece with every song representing a new movement. This is the sort of record that takes the entire genre up higher with it. It's an album that is full of delicious riffs and poignant progressions that will bring you to your knees and get you to raise your fist in the sky for what may be the future of black metal.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Civil War - The Last Full Measure

I'm not entirely sure how or why a bunch of Swedes, some of whom used to be in Sabaton decided to form a power metal band that sings about the Civil War, but what I do know is that it is utterly rad. The Last Full Measure is the sound of bold men going to war, running out triumphantly and getting shot down. This is an album that can't help but to charm, a record that is a blast to listen too and has all of the trademark bombast that has made so many fall in love with the band in the first place. This is war themed power metal at its finest.

It's easy to get into The Last Full Measure, after all, you have no end of big choruses, powerful solos and top notch arrangements. Civil War understand the underpinnings of power metal and it's exciting to watch them drive forward from song to song is delicious. The Last Full Measure is a logical step forward for Civil War but also one that shows us that there is a lot of growing left to do for the band. They have used this album as proof that they refuse to be written into a corner and instead will use potent riffs and tight rhythms to drive their way to victory. So sure it's anachronistic, but it fucking works.

The Last Full Measure has a high powered sense of fun that is going to keep you coming back. In a world where so much metal is super serious and part of a larger, darker reality Civil War just want to have a good time, raise their fists to the sky and show us that it's heavy metal or die. Power metal is like a refreshing blast to the past and a reminder that there still is hope in this crazy old universe of ours. Despite everything we can keep on keeping on and remember that no matter what, 1860's history can ring true and eternal.

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sons Of Balaur - Tenebris Deos

Gotta love the power of black and roll. It's weird how Season Of Mist, a label normally dedicated to more esoteric music has become one of the premier labels in the field - but I guess that's just how the cookie crumbles. So here were are, jamming a band with a song called "Succubus Slut" which is incredibly rad, delicately refined in the magic of vicious riffs and satanic might. There is a strange beauty to the balls out attack of Tenebris Deos and it hints at so much more to come from these rock and rollers.

I think what gets me about Sons Of Balaur is the sheer quality of the songwriting. Not only does this band understand the importance of a good riff, but they also know how to get songs that ebb and flow, that revel in a certain rock and roll debauchery but also show that these guys are far more intelligent than their iconography might suggest. This is a band who understand that black metal is the way forward and who stomp out tracks, one crushing chord at a time. The invoke many traditional black metal themes and seem to revel in the satanic madness. There is a beautiful intensity to Tenebris Deos that makes for a surprisingly fun listen you are going to want to keep coming back to.

Quite frankly - I could listen to Sons Of Balaur all day - they are just that kind of band. There is a certain bloody beauty to their sound that makes me want to revisit it time and time again, reveling in the murk. Tenebris Deos is vicious, but in many ways strangely transcendent. Songs like The Curse Of Bloodlust suggest to me that there is more to this band than meets the eye and watching them evolve will be a fascinating prospect. Sons Of Balaur might be the future of black and roll, but even if they aren't it's hard not to dig them.

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Darklands, Aneurysm, Tournament & Tower at Shea Stadium

Another night, another show, Bushwick is one of my favorite places to see a show - especially in that neighborhood around the old Acheron, that walk home certainly invokes the memories. As is - Shea Stadium is a very exciting little venue tucked away in one of the countless warehouse spaces that defines that area. So when you get the opportunity to attend the record release parties of two solid bands in one night, Tournament and the almighty Tower you start to see that you are on track for rock and roll salvation. 

Darklands where up first playing a wonderfully suburban brand of pop punk, unafraid to dip into vats of noise and worship the old masters. This is the kind of pop punk that captures the original spirit of the genre, it may not be quite as pissed off as some of their predecessors but that's okay. Instead we get music tailor made for VFW's and back rooms in alternative coffee shops. It certainly tapped into a bit of nostalgia in me. Though they didn't play for long it was hard not to vibe out to what they had done here and made me want to dive back into those old bands, to spin that Menzingers vinyl and look back on our collective youth. 

I was pleasantly surprised by Aneurysm who sound like what would happen if Clutch had debuted on Subpop in 1990 and wanted to be a hardcore band. What I'm trying to say is that Aneurysm exist at a perfect crossroads of rock and roll, hardcore and old school grunge. It's groovy and powerful but also vicious enough to keep you on edge. Aneurysm comprehend the burning magic of rock and roll in all of its formations and grow it in their own, very special and powerful way. This is a band who are riding a powerful wave of rock and roll and seem to be hinting at far better things to come in the very near future. 

The first highlight of the night was Tournament - though I'd never seen them before I was certainly impressed by their latest release Teenage Creature. They deliver some powerful and wonderfully dirty brand of rock and roll that can't help but to resonate. There is a very human pulse to Tournament's music and the deeper you delve into what they have refined the harder it is to turn away from their waves of sound. They draw you in and refuse to let you out of the otherworldly coffin they create. This is cleansing and pure rock and roll at its finest - destined to keep you on the edge of your seat and in love. 

Of course the true triumph of the soiree was Tower, the band who I am quite convinced were sent from the heavens to save rock and roll. This is a band who have the stage presence, the songwriting chops and the sheer manic energy to make the entire genre seem worth it again. In a world where rock and roll often seems flaccid and boring Tower come screaming out with wicked guitar solos, a vicious frontwoman whose voice fucking sparkles and a rhythm section that pushes harder than you thought possible. This is a band who invoke the true spirit of rock and roll, and if they sold their souls for rock and roll I wouldn't be surprised. People go apeshit over Tower and they might be the band to take this entire degenerate scene to a whole new level.

As I walked home I kept repeating to my roommate, "Holy fuck, wasn't Tower amazing?" jumping up and down, unable to contain my excitement. They are the most potent live band I have seen in years and overshadowed everyone else to grace the stage - despite very capable performances on all fronts. Shea Stadium was the perfect venue for this shindig, not only did it remind me of the first time I saw Tower at the Acheron, it also came apart at the seams, showing us that this Brooklyn scene will last for now and forever. 

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