notes from the coast: another Scion Metal Matinee

I like the Roxy but two days in a row? Seriously? Well, there’s a couple of reasons for this. First, I’m kinda sick like that. And second, FREE SHOW BY SCION!! (whom I’m beginning to seriously love!) This time around I got to see Lightning Swords of Death, Saviours and Midnight. You might be asking yourself, “who??” And yes, you would be excused for not knowing these bands, but this is exactly the kind of show I love, showcasing talented unknowns with a lot of potential (oh yeah, and it’s FREE!)

This show was supposed to start at 4pm but apparently there was some sort of generator malfunction so they had to wheel in a portable generator to help get the show going, finally around 5pm we were let in. Perhaps a ploy to send most of us scrambling to the bar?? Hmmm, well conspiracy theories aside, it really doesn’t take much to get me to the bar, but the one thing that struck me right away when I came in was the big line that formed immediately for the merch booth for Midnight, a band that admittedly I had never heard of. Seeing as I was there to see Lightning Swords of Death and Saviours this show was starting to get very exciting.

Lightning Swords of Death were first to take the stage. They are a black/death metal band from L.A. and though L.A. may not be a hotbed for black metal, this is one band that will soon deserve to be mentioned when you start talking about great US black metal bands. They do a fantastic job of mixing death metal style blasting and slower black/thrash breaks with raw buzz saw black metal riffs that all combine to create a suffocating, dark atmosphere in each of their songs. Singer Autarch‘s pained screeches and howls are less singing but rather more like an evil sermon being delivered and when you see him live it becomes much more apparent that he is trying his best to entice you down into the depths of hell with him.

Through the fog filled haze, the Swords commenced their black metal assault with serious conviction and power. With Autarch looking like a very young King Diamond without makeup and their bass player channeling his best Cronos impersonation, they blasted through mostly newer cuts from their excellent Metal Blade debut The Extra Dimensional Wound. Songs like Invoke the Desolate One and The Extra Dimensional Wound got the heads banging while older tunes like The Golden Plague got the horns held high. It was an excellent set and these guys do a great job creating an evil atmosphere, like a poor man’s Watain (without the stench!). I highly recommend checking this young talented band out because they are very underrated and I feel they have a promising future. And though The Extra Dimensional Wound just missed my Top 20 of 2010, I’ve been listening to it all week and now feel strongly that I slighted them, so if you haven’t heard this band, do yourself a favor and check them out now.

Next up, the stoner metal band Saviours. Though this seemed like an odd pairing, I was happy nonetheless to see this Oakland, CA outfit perform. I first saw them open up for The Sword (the stoner rock band) about 5 years ago when both were brand new. At the time I felt Saviours had a lot of potential and I really liked their first album, Crucifire, but didn’t feel they quite matched the standard of The Sword‘s brilliant Age of Winters. Fast forward 5 years and I now feel Saviours have surpassed The Sword and are what The Sword should have become. Their songwriting has improved every album and their stage presence is leaps and bounds ahead of where they were the first time I saw them.

As it were, Saviours took the stage and played mostly a set of new songs from a soon to come new album. And while it doesn’t do me much good for a review, it did get me fired up to hear what they’ve been writing. What I can tell you is that the new material sounds a lot more poised and mature and not in a bad way. There were a lot more dual guitar harmonies which were really melodic and stood out on the slower paced songs while the up tempo chargers were as energetic and headbangin as anything they’ve done. Saviours have always had a more traditional metal sound with a dual guitar attack in the vein of Maiden and old Fates Warning and it seems like their newer material is leaning more towards that end of the spectrum. I wouldn’t call them the best band around and they certainly don’t surpass bands painted from the same cloth like hometown mates High on Fire, but they improve with each album and I feel they certainly have the talent to develop into something really good. And though they may not necessarily be everyone’s cup of tea, I recommend checking out Accelerated Living and judge for yourself.

Last band of the day, Midnight, were finally set to play. They’re from Cleveland, which would help explain why I had never heard this band but I was very curious to hear them because it seemed like a lot of people were fired up to see them. In the bathroom I overheard someone mention them being a blend of Venom and Motörhead, which only heightened my anticipation, after all, that can never really be a bad thing. When they took the stage the whole floor opened up and bodies started flailing around as all three masked men hit the stage like a nailbomb. Yes all three were clad in black hoods and masks, reminding me of splatter thrash band the Ghouls, but the best part was they were just as exciting.

I really got into this band as they play that D-Beat/Crust punk style that I tend to go apeshit over and their energy and passion were through the roof. With song titles like Black Rock n Roll and Endless Slut I don’t think anyone was gonna mistake them for Opeth, but I thought the Venom/Motörhead description very fitting as their songs were short bursts of punk metal fury with the attitude and lyrics to match. And although I still think bands like Dishammer and Gasmask Terror do this kind of sound better, I will absolutely be on the lookout for Midnight‘s new album and look forward to hearing more from this evil bunch!