support Unearth + Throwdown + Dååth
author AP date 17/09/09 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Heavy partying has seen to it that writing this review has been postponed from one day to the other for the best part of two weeks, but better late then never, here it is. Chimaira has never struck me as a particularly interesting band, albeit that the band's 2006 album "Resurrection" received much acclaim from me at the time. Still, given some of the other bands on the bill, experiencing it live didn't seem like a stupid idea. Unearth, after all, has been high on my list of bands to see for some time, and Throwdown put on a decent performance in San Francisco two summers back.


However, before either of those bands were going to tear the place apart, the evening's opening act Dååth had been given some thirty minutes to warm up the crowd. Despite the band's efforts though, there seemed to be little enthusiasm, with the majority of the crowd mingling at the two bars or sat on those famous railings than run along either side of the venue for a better view. Dååth's music is about as puritanical as metal can be: abundant double pedal drum rolls, dense, lo-fi riffs interrupted here and there by soaring guitar solos, and a vocalist rarely straying from his monotone screaming (on MySpace they are advertised as a progressive death metal band, but in truth the music is better dubbed heavy metal of the more extreme kind). As such the music did little to impress me, but a confident, dominating stage presence ensured that at least there was something to gaze at. What a shame that calls for mosh and circle pits were met with confused looks, because if there's one thing music like this is good for, it's instigating some furious fist-pumping, horns and pit-mania. Unfortunately this lethargy on the audience's part began to reflect on the band and dragged their moods down until it was clear that they simply wanted to get off the stage and migrate to the comfort and warmth of the tour bus outside. I cannot claim to have been well-entertained, but at least I wasn't gauging out my eyes or trying to pop my ear drums with a sharp needle. Decent, if somewhat discouraging performance.



Throwdown's entré was far more convincing. Thunderous applause and an influx of pint-wielding grizzlies from the downstairs bar provided a welcoming reception for these Orange County bad boys. Despite the fact that music like this, straight edge metallic hardcore as they call it, has a tendency to invoke all sorts of negative thoughts inside my head, Throwdown's straightforward chugga-chugga on speed actually sounds fun. It sounds metal as fuck. Lost of hustle and bustle on stage flowed over the barrier and before you knew it, the evening's first pit bulls were running in circles, shoving at each other. This of course meant that Dave wanted to be a part of the action, and consequently spent most of his time hugging the secure side of the crowd control barrier. All this while the remaining members of the band jolted their bodies and swung their instruments around like the professional act that twelve years of existence demands. Admittedly this band has never found its way to my playlists, and despite being unable to boast with fancy song titles in this review, the band's subtle nuances of groove together with the enjoyment in their eyes meant that at least I was able to appreciate music like this for probably the first time in my journalistic career. Very nice.



Now, Ken Susi's crew were the main event for me, both in obligatory terms and personal. That "Sanctity of Brothers" is simply a fantastic piece of metalcore, and to hear those inhuman seven-string melodies in a live setting was going to be, and indeed proved to be mindgasmic. Unfortunately my knowledge of the band's discography starts and ends with that song, so whatever other pieces of metalcore gold may have been lying therein I cannot vouch for. What I can vouch for is that we were handed our money's worth by a band that via all logic should have been headlining this tour. Unearth in a concert setting is a sight to behold - it incited bouts of rabid violence amongst the band's fans, which were then interspersed with lots of finger-tingling and air-guitar competitions when the super tight shredmania of misters Ken Susi and Buz McGrath took over. The intensity (and yet curiously the upbeat-ness) of the music transformed the venue into a sizzling sea of metal-hungry middle-aged men (believe it or not) pumping their fists and horns at Trevor Phipps' every spoken, screamed and sung word. Queue the finale, and most of the crowd spilled downstairs to seek more alcohol and remained there for most of the evening - which is a testament to my claims that Unearth should have been headlining this event, not Chimaira.



What I could say now is that at this point in the evening, my craving for alcohol had become so unbearable that I left after two songs and wrote a fictional, incredibly well-spun account of the rest of the show, but those would be blatant lies. Given Chimaira's, should I say lack of ambition when it comes to their moshtastic American motherfucker-metal though, not to mention the predictable bad boy delivery of it on stage, was not doing much to keep me from going. But to be fair, it was my general antagonism towards the band's uncompromising music that inspired those sentences, so what of the show itself? Chimaira are obviously very experienced and it shows, but why must the sound be mixed to promote nothing but bass, bass, and more bass. Why can other bands sound loud and extreme without sacrificing the color in their music? Then we'll put those grievances aside and notice that yes, Chimaira are apparently all the rage on the other side of the pond, but that the venue was half-empty as soon as "Resurrection" hit its final notes suggests that monotonous, brutal music just doesn't cut it here. Especially when the band prefers that static foot-on-amp stance while looking mean and menacing. Some diehard fans are going to crucify my balls for saying this, but Chimaira's performance was too pompous and unconvincing to win over those of us who were undecided as to what to say or think about the band's music. But while it wasn't very memorable, we'll give them points for playing it professional and getting what was left of the crowd sufficiently amped.


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