The Faceless and Revocation at The Beaumont Club, Kansas City – Nov. 29th, 2012

Revocation

Revocation

First off, the bill for this show was six bands deep – which a younger, more impressionable concert attendee might appreciate. Bang for your buck, right? No thanks. This simply means I’ll be up later on a school night AND I’ll be forced to listen to three local bands whose sets will be sabotaged by the house sound guy.  My solution? Eliminate the second part of that equation by showing up an hour and a half late.

I arrive in the middle of the Sicadis set, which is band #3. As expected, they may actually be decent, but all I can hear is a wall of distortion. I see fingers moving on the guitars, but the sound does not change. They were giving away demo CDs, which I picked up but haven’t listened to yet. Best of luck to you, Sicadis.

As The Haarp Machine sets up, I’m checking out the crowd. Death metal shows seem to draw a more civilized group than say, a Lamb of God or Slayer show. Especially with a technical death metal band headlining. Metal nerds abound, myself included. There’s always a couple of chuckleheads looking to knock people around regardless of who’s playing, but they’re few and far between.

I’m looking forward to The Haarp Machine, based on a couple of songs I’ve heard online. They have an interesting middle-eastern element to their sound, and their vocals (good cop/bad cop) are strong. The crowd is worked up for their performance as well. People flock to the stage during the sound check. Wait, what’s that, Mr. Sound Guy? Oh, you plan on ruining this set as well. Lovely. Vocals were completely lost in the mix. The lead singer is good, too, but he’s got no chance fighting through this wall of noise. All I can hear are drums and occasionally some guitars fighting their way through the aural mud. So sad. I promise to give The Haarp Machine a long listen when I have a chance to spend some time with their studio album.

Now for the big guns. Revocation! For the uninformed, Revocation’s lead guitarist and vocalist, David Davidson, is considered one of the best guitarists in metal today. They are fast and heavy, a mostly thrash sound with a sprinkling of death metal now and again. Surely the sound will be better, yes? Well…an improvement, but nowhere close to good. I apologize, I know these write ups always end up being indictments of sound engineers. But I can’t help it. It’s really frustrating to hear a good band’s set ruined over and over again. Anyhoo, Davidson is as advertised. Dynamic, energetic, and flamboyant. Lots of masturbatory, technically ridiculous solos. And the crowd loves it. Revocation’s set is a flurry of screaming, super fast riffing and relentless drums. It’s hard not to get into it, watching Davidson strut his stuff. Circle pits, metal salutes, beer is spilled. Well played!

Revocation wraps up and I am cautiously optimistic that this show will end on a good note. Revocation’s set was good, but I didn’t get that “cut through your chest like a chainsaw” guitar sound that I was hoping for. I experienced this when I saw Krisiun and Nile at the Beaumont last year, so I know it’s possible in this club. The Faceless have an opportunity to right the ship.

I’ve been a fan of The Faceless for many years. I think their first two albums are about as good as technical death metal gets. But their latest album “Autotheism” (sweet title) was a little disappointing, so this has dampened my enthusiasm a bit. But now I really need them to come through. If Revocation had blown me away, I would be okay with a mediocre Faceless set. But that didn’t happen, so I need The Faceless to reaffirm my faith in live metal.

As The Faceless take the stage, let me just wax poetic on technical death metal for a moment. Technical/progressive death metal is an odd bird. In many ways it closer to jazz than traditional metal in the song arrangements and experimentation, yet it can also be incredibly brutal. The practitioners are often among the most talented musicians in the industry, but probably sell the fewest records. Technical/progressive death metal bands are more concerned with playing a song perfectly and beautifully than putting on a flashy show. Case in point, The Faceless arrive on stage not in leather pants, sleeveless shirts and long, sweaty hair, but in button down shirts…nondescript gap jeans…the bass player is wearing a windbreaker. Wha? Only one guy has long hair, the rest are clean cut.

Oh, and apparently they employ highly capable sound engineers. Finally, the sound mix I’ve been waiting for. The drums are clean but thunderous. The guitars sound nimble yet the power chords are buzz saws when the need to be. The bass…well, who cares about the bassist. He’s wearing a windbreaker.

The Faceless absolutely destroy the joint. They are the perfect combination of Tom Morello-type virtuosity and freight train brutality. The vocals are curt and forceful, and they throw in some clean vocals on top in just the right places. I’m sixteen again, playing air guitar and drums and trying not to get stomped because I need to get up close. The set includes lots of stuff from the first two albums, which I appreciate. Even the new stuff sounds great live. At these moments, I get a little sad because I know that this type of music will never receive the type of respect that is deserves. When people hear the word “death metal”, they shut down. They know the cliché and they’re not interested in hearing more. I guess I should just be thankful that these bands can draw enough of a crowd to justify touring.

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~ by mikehill25 on November 30, 2012.

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