Friday, September 14, 2012

Primordial, Vektor, While Heaven Wept, and Cormorant Concert Review

Primordial, Vektor, While Heaven Wept, and Cormorant on Thursday, September 13, 2012 at Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte, NC

It would be hard to ask for a better four band performance than what I saw last night. These were four bands with different styles, different approaches to music, different influences, and different personalities, but they all meshed together incredibly well. Despite the variance of each performance in regards to the others, and all the contrasting styles of music being played, all these bands seemed to belong with one another.

I'm going to start by saying that there's a review over on Metal Archives for
Metazoa entitled "A Life Changing Release." There's one passage that reads:

"This album is what I believe all modern metal bands should strive to create. It is an album that wears its influences proudly, but still forges its seal into the material, all the while creating something truly magical. This is a life changing album, and an effort that makes you excited about a young band's future. I will be watching these guys for the rest of their careers, and if this album is any indication, they will be making some of the best metal in a long time."

This was obviously written before
Dwellings came out, and Dwellings sort of stamped a seal of approval on the last sentence of this passage. I still don't know which album I like more, to be honest, or which album is better, but I'm not sure anything will top the first time I really sat down and listened to Metazoa. From the first notes on "Scavengers Feast" to the final acoustic melody on "Voices of the Mountain," it was a very special experience... my best Cormorant moment. And at that point I had virtually no hope Cormarant would ever make it this far east, so I could actually hear them live, and nor did I expect them to, but they did. And so did Vektor. And less than two hours from where I live nonetheless. There was no way I was missing this show. Even though I had to get up early the next morning to give a presentation in state & local politics about Wilkes County funding a water intake project at the dam which will eventually pipe water to the two towns in the county so the towns won't have to draw water out of rivers and spend tons of money running it through water treatment plants, there was no way I was missing this show.

I rode to Charlotte with a friend after she got off work and she got me in for free. She's grown to know the management at Tremont, and they treat her and her guests like royalty. Free drinks, free pizza, free admission... I've been to some venues where I was treated like shit, but this definitely wasn't one of them. She sat back at the bar the entire evening and watched from a distance, too tired to really enjoy the brilliance that was emanating from the stage between 8:30 and 1:00am. I however...

...Walked up to the stage just as Nemesis finished, so I'll have to exclude them from this review, because I didn't see them. Ten minutes after I walked in, or thereabout,
Cormorant took the stage. Their set was:

Scavengers Feast

Unearthly Dreamings

Now, keep in mind all these sets, excepting Primordial's, were abbreviated because Vektor was added to the line-up for this one night. This is a Primordial/While Heaven Wept/Cormorant tour. Vektor intersected them for this one night, so Cormorant definitely played a shorter set than they otherwise would have. But if they had to play three songs, I couldn't be more satisfied with these three. Of anything off Metazoa to hear, Scavengers Feast would be my number one choice. It's the first Cormorant song I ever heard, and it's burned further into the back of my mind than any other Cormorant song. So that's the perfect opener. And if I had to pick one song to hear off Dwellings it would be Unearthly Dreamings (followed closely by Funambulist), so I was completely satisfied with those two. But then Junta
. I wasn't expecting Junta, but GOD YES. Awesome song. If I remember right they started it off by tapping some symbols before a bass came in, and eventually it led into the actual song. It was kind of like an improvised intro. Maybe they had a little extra time to play with but couldn't play another song if they wanted to play Junta, so they improvised an intro? No sound sample at the 2:30 mark, and no sound sample during the intro of Unearthly Dreamings, but no biggie. Cormorant nailed it... very emotional music live. The guitar tone was dead on. At times Cormorant plays music you just start swaying to. It hits you down deep, which is the difference between good music and great music. A part of me wishes they could have played longer, but another part of me knows that a longer Cormorant set would've meant no Vektor. But actually...

While Heaven Wept
played before Vektor. They played:

Vast Oceans Lachrymose

The Furthest Shore
The Drowning Years

I came to this show to see Cormorant and Vektor. I was unfamiliar with While Heaven Wept and Primordial coming in, but While Heaven Wept was absolutely spectacular. I had no idea... what I've been missing out on all these years. Or maybe they're just this incredible live? I got this set from a friend of theirs who obviously knew the band's material, so I'm fairly confident it's accurate. While Heaven Wept played some of the most trance-inducing stuff I've ever heard live. The Furthest Shore, all fifteen minutes of it, was incredible. That guitar solo that went on and on and on in The Furthest Shore blew my mind. If you're like me and haven't listened to this band, see them live. They won't disappoint you. Now I'm going to take the time to actually listen to their music, and hopefully I'm not let down comparing it to the awesomeness that they are live. Their vocalist embodied everything that's right about music. Heart, passion, emotion, energy, strength... he absolutely killed it. He spent as much time on his knees as his feet. And he's obviously talented too. When I wasn't watching him, my eyes were transfixed on the lead guitarist, who was also a pleasure to watch. After While Heaven Wept, next up was...

. And they played:

Cosmic Cortex

Black Future
Tetrastructural Minds
Dark Nebula

Vektor is kind of like Cormorant in that they've put out two full-lengths, both of which are fantastic albums. Both
Black Future and Outer Isolation are brilliant. If I had to choose a favorite between the two, it would probably be Outer Isolation, and they played the best two songs off that album last night. Vektor's set was another winning set. It's nice to see bands play what you'd like them to. I've got to say, Vektor brought as much energy live as any band I've ever seen. The energy radiated from the stage throughout their set. I tried to give up headbanging a long time ago, but it's fucking hard when you're standing four feet from Vektor. These guys really brought it, like they always do from what I've heard. Awesome tone/sound, utter mastery of their material, great stage presence, awesome looking equipment (including the sparkling pink drum kit)... when you watch Vektor it's like you're in the early 1980's witnessing the beginning of the thrash movement (not that I would know from experience, but still...), that's what it feels like. It just feels so real. There's no new age thrash band that can do what Vektor did last night. At least not that I know of. All the solos were dead on. Not one second after that choppy guitar part kicked in at the 2:08 mark of Cosmic Cortex a pit erupted. A girl standing right in front of me with her boyfriend looked back at me with bewilderment in her eyes... with a "god, shit just got real quick" kind of look. Cormorant's guitarist was standing right in front of me during the first part of their set too, trying to avoid the madness in the center of the crowd. I can definitely understand the people saying Vektor's giving "performance of the year" type performances on this tour. Again, I wish this show had started about two hours earlier so all these bands could've played more. Around 11:30 or 11:45pm I'm guessing...

took the stage, and their set:

No Grave Deep Enough

Gods to the Godless
As Rome Burns
Lain with the Wolf
The Golden Spiral
The Mouth of Judas
Heathen Tribes
Bloodied Yet Unbowed

Gallows Hymn
The Coffin Ships
Empire Falls

And I'm not sure about this set. This is what it's been though, and I know their last song was Empire Falls. If anyone knows otherwise, let me know and I'll change it. Like I said, I don't know this band's material at all; I came into the show unfamiliar with them. But like While Heaven Wept, oh can they can perform live. Their lead singer was the best front man of the night. He did everything While Heaven Wept's vocalist did except longer. I was pretty tired by this point, so I watched at least half of Primordial's set with my friend back at the bar. Which was kind of a bummer, but I'd seen the bands I went to see. I got to watch the members of Cormorant, Vektor and While Heaven Wept come out of the backstage room in a single file line, all wearing corpse paint, storm through the crowd to the center of the stage and riot. There was a great atmosphere to this show. All the bands got along really well and supported and talked to each other. The drummer of Vektor was wearing a Cormorant shirt by the end of the evening. Of all the bands, I saw Primordial the least, but I didn't exactly hang around after the show. We left during Empire Falls to beat the crowd out.

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