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Unearth/A Life Once Lost Live In Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Monday, June 26, 2006 @ 11:27 AM


Babylon, June 17, 2006

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First off, just because it's provided a much-needed alternative from the baggy pants suburban metal movement of the last 7 years, I still don't completely see myself as a metalcore fan. Occasionally you get some gems within the rough with Killswitch Engage, Born From Pain and early Shadows Fall coming to mind in particular. But it usually means searching through hundreds if not thousands of watered-down imitators of these bands alone just to locate barely a dozen that are even any good, never mind the countless millions of others who could easily buy At The Gates and the surviving members of Pantera their own island in the South Pacific if a copyright infringement notice ever made its way to court (I'd even go into great detail about the underage emo and sXe fans except they were surprisingly tame although riled up enough to see this show). In this case, I'd say about 2 of the 5 bands I saw on Saturday fall into that latter category. Initially this pre-Ozzfest show was supposed to feature 6 bands with the headliner being All That Remains who were the only reason I even bothered going in the first place but transportation issues meant that they had to miss this show which the tour's management was only too gracious to acknowledge AFTER everyone bought their tickets through a letter that was taped to the ticket booth. 6 bands for $22 - which would've worked out to seeing each band for maybe $2.50 each - sounded like a good deal with the best of intentions at the time but with that said, the show was far from a write-off.

90 minutes, 3 cranberry juices later due to immediately heading to Babylon after setting my running trail without bringing any ID to verify that I was over 18 years old, several games of those touchscreen online music trivia games and an improvised soundcheck riff of "Cowboys From Hell" later, the first band to take the stage was If Hope Dies from Auburn, New York. Musically they didn't exactly bring anything new to the table as far as standard metalcore and thrash goes but they exhibited some pretty decent overall musicianship and perhaps the band that did the most soloing in their music. Their most stand-out tracks would have to be "Anthem For The Unemployable", "Fear Will Keep Them In Line", "Burned Out" and a song dedicated to us metalheads to not take life for granted that I made out as "Time Isn't On Our Side" which has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones song of almost the same name although ever since the Agony Scene got away with a cover of "Paint It Black" it can go either way with this band. Incidentally their MySpace bio (but where else?) describes their music as sounding like everything to Van Halen to 30 babies queefing in a pool of tapioca pudding, so that's already way more cool than a cover of a Stones song you've heard 100 times on the radio.

http://www.ifhopedies.com/index.php

So far the momentum of decent metal and hardcore continues with Detroit's Walls Of Jericho who are female-fronted although their lead singer - in a retro outfit that would make Pat Benatar proud - was the last member to take the stage which made me think at first they were a four-piece. The music was a mix of standard classic hardcore and thrash especially in songs like "All Hail The Dead", "Revival Never Goes Out Of Style" and the new song "A Trigger Full Of Promises". Midway there were about 2 songs - specifically "Family Values" being the main culprit - that saw the band veer dangerously close to sounding like Otep which almost convinced me that the difference between both bands was the singer's hair color. They managed to rebound with a couple of punk rock-sounding tunes with "There's No I In Fuck You" being the track that got the most reception and stagedives. Which the band were encouraging all night despite the club's ban on the practice. Factor in some good crowd interaction and a couple of half-decent solos and so far you have 2 good bands in one night which can be pretty rare in the metalcore scene if not damn near non-existant. And unlike Otep you actually wouldn't have to pay the lead singer to sit on my face bareassed for me to approve of their music.

http://www.allhailthedead.com/
http://www.myspace.com/wallsofjericho

The second and final schedule change of the evening saw A Life Once Lost and The Red Chord change stage slots. Sorry, but I honestly couldn't tell the difference between either band other than that A Life Once Lost had the psychedelic lava lamp background screen during their set while their shirtless singer did his best Iggy Pop imitation on top of one of the monitors during "Vulture", the aptly-titled "Rehashed" and a half dozen other songs that sounded the same whereas The Red Chord had the singer doing his best Phil Anselmo imitation alongside a pretty pedestrian and almost convincing Louisiana accent despite the band being from Massachussetts during "Love On The Concrete", "Dreaming In Dog Years" and a dozen other songs that sounded the same. Both bands attracted some pretty fierce pits during their setlist but that's like bragging that you can recite the alphabet nowadays.....

http://www.alifeoncelost.com/

The funny thing about headliners Unearth is that this was actually the second time I've seen them live entirely by accident while waiting for another band that I enjoyed more only for that band to not show up due to transportation issues. As I recall, that day was in 2001 - at the same venue no less - when they did a show with Poison The Well, God Forbid and some forgettable local band. Poison The Well and Unearth - all but practically proclaimed as the second coming of Testament and Death Angel by a nameless ex-boyfriend of a former DJ - were at the time just above average at best and God Forbid didn't even show up, their tour bus having broken down just outside Montreal the day before the show. I even tried to review the show that day for KNAC but got backtracked with job hunting so it never happened. Anyway, 5 years must've done Unearth some good at least from the last time I've seen them live. The music's a bit more aggressive with more melodic overtones this time around which means you could actually tell one song from the other. "Zombie Autopilot" and "The Great Dividers" were easily recognizable and not just from KNAC occasionally playing them. Even the 2 new songs from their upcoming CD III: In The Eyes Of Fire - "Child"and the overdramatic but yet decent-sounding "This Lying World" - sounded promising and they played their closing song "Black Hearts Now Reign" with real conviction that got the crowd riled up enough to get the bouncers to step back a bit from the moshpit. Perhaps the song having been dedicated to Burning Inside for bringing them up to Canada for their first continental tour 7 years ago and the several fans who've supported them since had something to do with it.

And yet, while it wasn't All That Remains, it still rocked. Maybe the album might have some promise after all. Enough for me to expand the list of good metalcore bands by a bit anyway....

http://www.unearth.tv/html/index.php



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