Shadows Fall w/ Bison b.c., Baptized In Blood, Nothing Left For Tomorrow @ The Opera House – Mar. 4, 2010

9 03 2010

Before I get into the meat and potatos of this review I offer you all a full disclosure; I am not what you might call a Shadows Fall “fan”. It’s not that I dislike them. In fact “Light  That Blinds” is one of my favourite Guitar Hero 2 tracks. I’ve even been known to keep a dusty copy of The War Within stored somewhere between the “R” and “T” sections of my music catalog. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what they do as musicians, it’s that I just don’t really care. One can only listen to something so many times without “getting it” before interest starts to wane, you know?  So when my boyfriend revealed to me that the ‘Shads would make their first headlining trek through Canada with Bison b.c. and Baptized in Blood my inital reaction was less “OMG SHADOWS FALL” and more “HOLY SHIT BISON B.C.!!!” There was no way I was missing the opportunity to see them live for the first time and Shadows Fall were just going to have to take a back seat.  Knowing that I would still have to take a journalistic approach to this review however, I made a vow then and there to evaluate each band with the same level of unbiased enthusiasm. When the evening in question finally arrived, I’m proud to say I (mostly) kept that promise.

Ontario’s Nothing Left For Tomorrow kicked off the evening with a loud growl from a darkened stage. Murmurs of “Wow, that’s a chick?” circulated as the light revealed frontwoman Yasmina and the band behind her. I had heard the band’s demo material on MySpace previously and was delighted to see that their performances were much improved in a  live setting. They played their brand of melodic death metal with a fury that seemed to impress the handful of people who bothered to show up early. Alternating between singing and growling, Yasmina belted out her indecipherable lyrics with confidence and aggression. Although tight and competent throughout, the shining moments were the brief ones where they slowed down and allowed themselves a chance to groove. With a few more years to hone their stage presence and find their own voice, this local band could move on to do great things.

Maybe it was the suspicious number of bros in flat billed hats lining the stage which made we wary of what Baptized In Blood were about to deliver, or maybe it was their decision to sign with Roadrunner Records. Whatever the reason, my worst fears were realized the moment I heard the first breakdown somewhere near the middle of the opening song. While breakdowns aren’t really my “thing”, the rest of the crowd didn’t seem to mind one bit.   Exchanging  simple head banging for full-out body thrashing and fist pumping, the floor was transformed into a pit of dude worship. While the whole band seemed to channel this energy, bounding about the stage , it was vocalist Johl Fendley who impressed me the most. Making his home at the edge of the stage helped him connect with fans, reaching out and singing with them at various points in the set.  In the end it was their Canadian boy charm which won me over much more than their music, but if you were already a fan there is no way you left disappointed.

Being somewhat of a dark horse on the roster, I wasn’t sure how this audience would take to Vancouver’s Bison b.c.. A jam band at heart, their style of sludge n’roll was quite a contrast from the hardcore thrash of Baptized In Blood. Regardless, I knew that the songs would translate well in a live setting and I was interested in seeing what they could do with a road worn 3 stringed bass and drum kit with only one tom. I didn’t have to wait long before the four piece made their entrance and settled into the opening groove of “Slow Hand of Death”. Thick layers of smoke erupted from the stage, leaving the audience with only scattered glimpses of beard and guitar. It could have been the small number of people in attendance, but it suddenly felt as if the Opera House had shrunk to half the size. The riffs were fuzzed out, monumental. The addition of three new tracks provided a feeling of exclusivity, like being invited to sit in on an impromptu jam session. Simultaneously dangerous and infectious, each track built upon the other and I couldn’t help but feeling like I was in Bison’s personal practice space, walls closing in and the ceiling slowly decaying above. It’s at this point, choking on riffs and smoke, that you want to run but don’t dare turn away. Instead you stomp and head bang and accept the inevitable Armageddon you’ve found yourself in the middle of. The band swaggers and pounds, falling over themselves, drunk on the crackling energy that is everywhere. Momentum builds to an explosive finale in the sing-along chorus of “These Are My Dress Clothes”, sweeping up members of the audience along the way. When it’s all said and done the band can’t walk across the stage without applause, sign of a crowd that’s grateful yet astonished by what the hell just happened.

So how do you follow a set like that? If you’re Shadows Fall frontman Brian Fair, you do it with a lot of beer. “Tonight is not just a show, it’s a PARTY!” he exclaims, making use of the small crowd and inviting everyone to the front to get down. Playing a set list consisting of mostly new songs, the band seems right at home on stage which is either a good or a bad thing depending on your point of view. While they do manage to deliver an ultra tight performance complete with signature solos, they also tend to look slightly bored while doing it. With the exception of  the ever charismatic frontman it’s almost as if they are just going through the motions, finishing a mundane job rather than living out their dreams on stage. Either way the fans seem satisfied and they show it by crowd surfing, mosh pitting and screaming along.

As for me, old habits die hard and my tendency to lose interest begins to surface by the third song. I have come to expect this from my relationship with Shadows Fall, each of us asking the other one to change. After tonight I can accept it for what it is; a casual flirtation with someone who is just not my type. Besides, I’ve already got a boyfriend and he’s at the bar sharing a drink and some laughs with the boys in Bison b.c.

Nothing Left For Tomorrowhttp://www.myspace.com/nothingleftfortomorrow

Baptized In Bloodhttp://www.myspace.com/baptizedinblood

Bison b.c.http://www.myspace.com/bisoneastvan

Shadows Fall  – http://www.myspace.com/shadowsfall

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8 responses

9 03 2010
Shawna

First off, I’ll start out by saying that I like your writing style. Second, I feel the same way about Shadows Fall. I just can’t really get into them.

Hopefully I’ll be able to join you at more concerts in the future, when finances permit of course! 😛

Keep it up Lady.

9 03 2010
metalmaiden7

You should help me write my review for Opeth, since apparently it takes me about 10 years to get one done, lol.

9 03 2010
Shawna

Ha Ha Ha! Alright! We’ll stay up till all hours of the morning together instead. I’m down!

9 03 2010
Nancy

Very good article and infomative. Looking forward to other views on other bands.

9 03 2010
metalmaiden7

Thanks! I’ll bet it’s especially informative for you mom 😉

9 03 2010
louzealand

Ah, Renee. You know what I like about this? I don’t even LIKE metal, or know anything about the metal world, and yet I am still intrigued. Keep this up!

10 03 2010
metalmaiden7

You and my mom both Laura, lol! Thanks for all of your support, it seriously means alot.

10 03 2010
Mandy

I agree with the last comment. I don’t even like metal but i really enjoy reading your reviews Renee. Your writing is really fluid and captivating. I can’t wait to read more….and maybe see you at work one day 🙂

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