Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Alraune, Thetan, Dawn, 16, and Tombs at the Owl Farm

On Thursday, October 18th, I went and saw Alraune, Thetan, Dawn, 16, and Tombs at the Owl Farm. The Owl Farm is a new venue that opened up this summer out in northeast Nashville. It's meant on some level to be a successor to the Little Hamilton, which shut down not too long ago. I was never fortunate enough to make it out to Little Hamilton, so I was excited to see some of the bands associated with that scene, since they tended not to play too many other places around town.

On a metascriptive note, I've decided to change how I review live shows by deleting one element: the number out of 10 at the end. They just feel too slapped on there, too arbitrary, and too extraneous. I'd like to give 9s to every local band I ever see, because so many of them are so talented, but if everybody gets a 9, what's the point? Too often people look to the numbers to glean how I feel about a band, and that's not representative at all. So no more numbers, unless any of you feel strongly about them.

Anyway, first up at this show was Alraune. These guys feature members of Sky Burial, Yautja, Gnarwhal, Vesicus, etc., and they kick ass. These guys played fast heavy black metal. Really great, interesting stuff, with the bassist and both guitar players each contributing on vocals. I thought that the bassist (Jesse from Sky Burial, I think) had the strongest vocals out of all three. They had some cleaner and softer parts to break up the mountains of metal; the best quieter moment came at the end, when it really had an impact. My only complaint is the same one I'm starting to have with most local bands is the fact that they're vocals were often lost in the mix, and though I could see their mouths grimacing, I could barely hear their darkened cries. Also, I'm not sure if this was the venue or what, but the guitars sounded a little murky. This is a smaller complaint though; aside from these two minor issues, these guys were great. I'd put up a streaming thing right here, but these guys must be too kvlt for any of that nonsense. I can't find a single thing. So get your ass to a show of theirs, because these guys are good.
Update: streaming things!

Next up was Thetan. Despite being a  two-piece that consists of a drummer and a bass, these guys sound nothing like Om. If Alraune was murky in a detracting way, then Thetan was murky in just the right way. Bassist/screamer Dan Emery's wall of amps rumbled your guts at high speed. It's almost like these two tried the full band experience, got sick of it, and said "FUCK IT we can do this just the two of us!" And they absolutely can. The energy put forth by Dan was incredible. He wailed on that bass like it was a dog that had just chewed up his favorite slippers. Drummer Chad L'Plattenier is no slouch either; he kept up with Dan the whole way. Together, these two make you want to raise your fist and bang your head as fast as you can. Until the slow parts, that is. The heavy, sludgey bits were absolutely satisfying. These guys played through with zero banter, zero talking to the crowd, as if their sole focus was on playing and absolutely nothing else. There was no jokes, no bullshit, just fucking awesome fast and heavy music. And they don't give a shit about money. Their merch sign said "7" for $3, shirts for $I don't care." These guys are all badass and no bullshit. If you like Tusk or Trap Them, you'll love Thetan.

Next up was Dawn. When I did the interviews at the Hymen house in February Jesse Mowery talked about his band Dawn (albeit after my phone had stopped recording the interview), and the guys and girls from Fenris said they were an amazing supergroup of some of the best players in Nashville, so you'll imagine my excitement at getting to see them play. They feature Jesse on guitar/vocals, Jordan House (of Sky Burial and also played guitar earlier in Alraune) on bass, and Ivan Doerschuk (also of Sky Burial... christ, is this the supergroup or is Sky Burial?) on drums. Their sound is definitely hardcore, but it's not always straightforward. They'll be rocking along at a quick tempo, then throw an interesting time signature into the mix. Something to interrupt your headbangery and make you listen closer. The vocals were great, nice and intense. These guys are relentless, barely giving you time to think or breathe while they erupt dynamic, hard-hitting riffs. When they do slow down for a brief bit, your body will move with it whether you want to or not. Sludge interludes like theirs make me cream my pants. If you like Converge, High on Fire, or any metallic hardcore band, you will adore Dawn. I know I do.

Now it was time for the "big name" bands. 16 was up first. I'd heard about these guys a few years ago and I enjoyed what I heard, so I was looking forward to seeing them. They put one a pretty damn good show. Their vocalist was fairly animated, though I had trouble hearing him very well. The guitarist had a sweet setup, with a stack of amps behind him, and a big Orange cab off to left that he send a drier output to. He would often send a signal to only the far amp, and then send it to both to make big hits even bigger and meatier. Their riffs were slow, fuzzed out, and heavy. Really good stuff, apart from my douche-o-meter going off for a split second when Tyler from Alraune (and also Gnarwhal) came to help the vocalist with the PA system, and said vocalist backed away and said "Guess it's his PA guys..." to which Tyler gave a pretty good "What the fuck?" face. Still, a little blemish isn't enough to discolor this review. These guys have been sludging it up for many years, and they know what they're doing at this point. Crunchy, heavy stuff.

The last band of the night was Tombs. I'd heard a little bit of their stuff before, and everyone was pretty gaga over their album last year, but when I went to check them out I was pretty turned off by their 'Gossamer' video. Still, I thought I'd give them another chance, and even if they suck, all the other bands would be sweet. Man, what a difference a show can make! These guys were absolutely stunning. They were just so heavy and fast and just everything I could've hoped for. Much more black metal than that awful Gossamer video, and I loved every minute of it. The vocals were sick, and the tremolo-picked guitars lined up with the drums more precisely than maybe any band I have seen live. Now that I think about it, this was my first black metal show! I hope they're all this awesome, and fine-tuned. I had to borrow money from friends to get it, but there was no way I was going home without their Path of Totality LP. Stream it for yourself right here, and see what all this fuss is about. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Feels good to be writing again. Sorry for the lack of pictures; the ones I took before my phone died didn't come out at all. Look for my reviews of Bobbaroo (7 bands!!), and Loss/Bell Witch/Clorange/Brother Ares at the End coming soon!

1 comment:

  1. To note - The reason you couldn't hear Zack from Alraune's vocals is because he was singing through a broken mic! A unfortunate and common issue with DIY shows is the consistency and upkeep of their equipment is sometimes lacking. Luckily the Owl Farm was recently donated a nice stash of microphones and cables! Great local venue!