Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Valient Thorr - Junius - Howl -- Black Cat - Sep 21 2010

Howl - Tonight is metal night, but as I would see (and could partially predict) things are not always as they seemed. The opening band is the closest to pure metal. They play it in the doom style complete with two guitars, bass, drums and harsh deep vocals. There was only a brief solo or two with the focus instead being on power chords played at medium-fast to medium-slow speeds. A strong sound throughout and I was wise to have earplugs in from the start (courtesy of Earpeace. Write them at, they are great). The stacks of amps in Black Cat's smaller backstage was a good clue of what was to come. Ultimately, the band was a bit too unvarying to me, but they seemed like a nice foursome and warmed up the crowd well enough.

Junius - After adjusting to the blast of stage lights that greeted me with this band, I focused on another four-piece lineup with two guitars. The heavy rock beat is interesting with a touch more swing to it than that of metal bands. The vocals are soaring in a way that is reminding me far more of a prog band than a metal band. In fact, I am hearing a heavy similarity to Porcupine Tree. The song structure is not quite as complex, but the sound is strong and does have some psyche touches. Geeze, I even have a weird moment where I am hearing first-album era U2 if they wanted to take a stab at hard rock. This is fun and engaging. The band has a nice command of their sound and did an excellent job. I am hooked and will be back for more when they return.
Valient Thorr - Speaking of back for more... This is the third time for me seeing these wildmen from North Carolina. They appear to be a metal band, but are far more unique than that lazy label. They have a classic rock sound more out of protopunks like the MC5. In fact, even their latest album photo reminds me of an MC5 photo. The two guitarists blaze away trading leads and doubling or just engaging in ultra-fast riffing. The bass player pounds away with them and I had forgotten how good their drummer is. They are all very good and join the wild singer in moving all over the stage. Tons of energy is needed for this music and they have what it takes. My notes merely state: 21st Century Schizoid Band. The crowd can't help but get into this stuff. The material sounds even more punk than metal on this tour, but they have carved out their own space and work the magic that they are capable of. They seem to tour all the time and have supported other powerhouses like Motorhead and Mastodon and have won me over every time out. Perhaps the time begins for them take the top spot and invite interesting acts to open for them. It is working on this tour.
Back in the USA

Celebrities of the Night: Was that H.R. here tonight checking the bands out? Good to see him around and I hope to catch him at least one more time in life. And I also spot one of the guys running the Rock'n'Roll Hotel and the doorman at DC9. Is there some sort of convention going on? Good to see people who see a lot of music come back for more when it is this good.

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