Did you hear that thin, atonal whine last night? That was me, practising the world’s smallest violin. I got inspired by Rex Murphy’s report about Western Alienation on The National. Sharrup and join the country already.
Iced Earth with Children of Bodom and Evergrey at the Commodore May 14
Evergrey went over well despite some sludgy warmup act sound. CoB were just okay—the set was a carbon copy of their opening slot on the Nevermore tour. Their act carried a lot more impact on my first exposure. The guitar/keyboard “metalvishnu” duels were still entertaining, especially when you see how the crowd laps it up. Everyone loves solos, and the mania that CoB injects them with is worth experiencing. In between sets everyone made their own fun by singing along to Iron Maiden on the P.A. (Nearly every second person had a Maiden shirt on.) I expected Iced Earth to be a Nevermore-style disappointment, but they delivered surprisingly well. It helps that they’ve got Ripper Owens on board. He’s a proper heavy metal singer, just as Iced Earth are a proper heavy metal band. Despite their skill at fusing the key metal influences of the past 20 years (the epic heaviness of early Metallica, the speedy riffing of Slayer and Iron Maiden’s narrative songwriting and conceptual tendencies) their material becomes generic and indistinguishable after a while, much like a mixture of primary colours that produces a sludgy brown or black. Iced Earth don’t really have enough great songs scattered amongst their umpteen albums to sustain a 2-hour set. For a casual fan like me, their decision to “encore” with their 30-plus-minute Battle of Gettysburg piece was unfortunate, as they’d really run out of songs by that point. Playing what was essentially a second set was a bad move. It was all in one ear and out the other.
Avenged Sevenfold at Richard’s on Richards May 16
A gig for the hell of it, because I didn’t know any of the bands. Openers Noise Ratchet were terrible. I’d hope that kids these days would set their sights higher than Soul Asylum and the Goo Goo Dolls. Apparently not. A7x were ferocious all right, but they didn’t connect with me. Certain elements appealed—the twin leads, their self-assurance on stage, the dry ice. A7x are a crack outfit, no question. But it was a little pat, and as Smash noted, the kids in the band looked too clean and healthy to generate any true scum intrigue. It didn't matter how much ink they had or how much eyeliner they caked on. The pit loved A7x’s whole deal, singing along with every chorus. As Smash said to me later, "I can definitely see the appeal if you knew the tunes and lyrics." As it was, I just felt like a wallflower at a very loud party hosted by friends of a friend of a friend.