I would have posted Monday, but I only spent sporadically intermittent moments online, as I was preparing for and then heading to a concert! The concert was for Otep, an artist I'm not sure many die-hard Black Metal fans enjoy. For this reason, this post will be in two parts: a review of the concert, and then a review of the newest Kathaarsys release.
One reason I love Metal: so few others in America do. So it's quite common to get a three hour show for 15 bucks a ticket (except for Tool... they're playing two shows at Redrocks, Colorado in a couple weeks, for $60-80. Every ticket was sold out in a half an hour! Guess I'm not going to that show.) So yesterday evening, we made our way to Grand Junction. The concert was at Mesa Theater, which is in a relatively "well-to-do" part of town: statues from local artists adorning the street, small ice cream and toy shops, lots of diners and fine restaurants. They frequently hold seasonal festivals in this district. Anyway, upon our arrival, we saw a few kids already in line. Stereotypical Metalheads: lots of black, some "Goth" clothes, bands shirts. Good crowd. But we hadn't eaten in hours, so we decided to stop in the cheapest diner we could find and grab a bite to eat. While waiting for our food, we stared at the passersby and speculated whether or not they were going to the concert. We decided anybody wearing black or with cool facial hair MUST be going. Which was, more or less, everyone, and basically true.
But I digress. Skip ahead a few minutes, getting indoors, walking around. My friends and I had found a place toward the back of the line. Somehow, by the time we got in, we were so far ahead of everyone else that we found a base up at the front, just before the moshing area. Two local bands were up before Otep: Sworn Us Under and Intertwined, both from Grand Junction.Sworn Us Under was up first, and they were actually pretty good. Their vocalist had an epic harsh vocals range, judging by what they played, and could also sing in tune. He held out some screams for upwards of 20, 30 seconds, which greatly impressed me, considering it was live! He also had better stage presence than the rest of the band, though they had great instrumentals, some emulating older Thrash, some more recent Death Metal. More or less a modern band emulating the "underground" styles. It sort of reminds me of Orphanage. They had a female bassist (I'm starting to get suspicious as to the number of female bassists I'm seeing nowadays, is the only reason that's really noteworthy. Otherwise I'm all for chicks in Metal!), and their lead guitarist was the only guy in the room with hair longer than mine, which I felt especially proud of, considering he's likely ten years my elder. I can see this band really maturing and becoming great in a few years.
The other supporting band was all right. Intertwined. They had some good riffs and drum fills, but I didn't like the vocalist too much. Just not my favorite style. One of their guitarists was absent for some unmentioned reason, so the vocalist's dad filled in. I was mixed with feelings of disgust: who invites their dad into their band? and feelings of respect: that old guy is pretty hardcore! But, then again, their music was quite normal, so he couldn't be terribly hardcore. Their other six-string player was fairly incredible. My not being a guitarist means I dunno much about the difficulty of what he played, but he had great stage presence, dancing around, playing extremely wide, jumping up and down, and without missing a beat.
Sworn Us Under's MySpace
Finally, the time for Otep arrived. I don't remember them coming out on stage, only their sudden appearance amidst flashing lights and this small, skinny, blond woman maniacally skipping out onto the stage.
Next thing I knew, I was one of hundreds with my fist in the air, screaming along to "Battle Ready". At various points in the show, Otep would disappear and come back out with a new mask. Otep is an incredibly intellectual person, abused when she was a child, and she's faced personal demons more than most - it leads to intense songs on crazy albums, and a darkly themed show. They played "Blood Pigs" and Otep danced around the stage with a (fake - she's not Ohlin and his crow, after all) pig's head, which I assumed was an allusion to Lord of the Flies (I can definitely see Miss Shamaya being big on allegories about man's savage nature).
I was amused by the amount of people being kicked out - one of which I later found out was the vocalist for Intertwined; otherwise, I would find people getting kicked out at a Metal concert quite insignificant ;)
I was overjoyed when the band members all adorned Guy Fawkes masks - an obvious and appropriate reference to the movie "V for Vendetta," one of my all-time favorites. Screaming "RISE, REBEL, RESIIST! Rise, Rebel, Make a fist, RESIST!" with your fist in the air, and at band members wearing Guy Fawkes masks, was deliciously appropriate and extremely gratifying.
The night wore on, more people got kicked out, some beer was spill'd on my friend, and Otep put out song after song. It was truly epic!
One of the best moments of the concert (in my humble opinion) was when they played Ghostflowers. This has always been my favorite Otep song - indeed, it was the song that showed me this wondrous band - and this show's version was no exception to its twisted beauty.
About two hours after they started, Otep announced homage to Kurt Cobain, and they played "Breed" to finish the show. And what a finish! "We could plant a house, we could build a tree!" is still stuck in my head - which is all right, 'cause it's a bloody great song! They finished as boomingly as they started (is boomingly a word? If not, I'm exercising my right as a philologist and inventing it!). All in all, definitely a fucking spectacular show.
A shoutout and thank you to Dio Musquiz Jr. for the fantastic pictures, more of which can be found on his Facebook.
Whew, this is a long one! Thanks for sticking with it if you've come this far ;)
I'm terribly in love with Kathaarsys. Every album they've done is extremely solid, well-written, a veritable masterpiece! For this reason, I will be reviewing them all in coming days. But for now, I needs must talk about their newest album "Intuition".
Jose Luis Montáns - Guitar/Vocals
Marta Barcia - Bass Guitar
Adrián Hernández - Drums
"Intuition" is a strange digression from their previous works. Sure, it's still got elements of Black Metal - but it also has strong elements of Death Metal, Power Metal, and Jazz. The cover, above, is absolutely beautiful! This album, though, is something else. Genre-crossing at its best, and it was something of a surprise to me on first listen.
The opening track, "Preconsciencia, Ciclo Iniciatico Vital," starts with an extremely fast guitar riff around a Blues Scale, then moves to something just a bit slower, but still with occasional fast picks up the scale, and with Marta's bass line moving quickly underneath. When the vocals come in, the guitar starts playing smooth chords. It all feels like real easy Jazz, and so far with not one hint at being a Metal record. Then BAM! You're onto the second track, "Consciencia, Duda-Apatia-Duda-Depresion," and the album is instantly Black Metal - pounding beats on the snare, hard, dark riffs, and screeching vocals. Then, not long in, it shifts again, where Jose starts in with high, clean singing, and the riffage becomes very epic. As quickly as it become Power Metally, it goes, once again, back to Black Metal, though with Jose growling sickly out at you - of course, it all gets brought back down to light Jazz again before the third song.
The entire album is like this! It weaves out of powerful blast beats and Death Metal stylings into easy Jazz that makes me feel as one in a well-to-do nightclub, through epic guitars all over the Blues Scales, some that sound Double Harmonic Minor, and tremolo picking. The bass sometimes plays the standard roots of each chord, and sometimes it plays a counter-melody with the guitar. Either that or the chords change so fast and so often and so sporadically that they sound as a melody.
After a couple songs with a ton of Metal, the middle part of the album seem to give way to feelings of Progressive Jazz. It takes it back to Metal generally very briefly, but very smartly, after a gradual and complex build-up, before breaking it back down (again and again!) to Jazz.
The 7th track recovers the Jazz straight into an epic Metal ballad-y sounding song, with heavy distortion, fast blast beats from Hernández, and fast bass aplenty. The 8th song, "Fugaz Esperanza" feels very folky at first, but then moves in a powerful direction to transition into "Recapitulacion da Dubida, Incomodidade, Incomunicacion e Confusión," a truly amazing song and the second longest song for this release. It's phenomenally chaotic - to say the least! Stylistically, it contains everything previously emulated on the CD, and moves around every few seconds or so.
The next to last song is slow and pretty at first - the vocals are mostly spoken word and the atmosphere is solemn. One almost thinks they're going to let the album fade out beautifully with this song and the next, but then these suspenseful clean chords start playing. They continue, and one wonders where they're going with it. They've done so much already on the album that they could let this new suspense go nowhere - I wouldn't blame them! Or go literally everywhere. But as they go on, I get this feeling that they're moving to something climactic and grand - so they do not disappoint! It builds and builds to this huge riff that comes with no almost no conventional transition - I think it's one of the most headbangable moments of the CD. Then it stops. The last track is an eerie outro.
Every track on this beautiful record is *eargasm* but the ones that particularly stand out (get ready, these are long titles and I feel it inappropriate to shorten them) "Consciencia, Duda-Apatia-Duda-Depresion," "Paralise, Fases Esquizoides, Locura Psicotropica Autoinducida," "Estraño e Contradictorio Intervalo de Lucidez," "Caos, Colision coa Realidade," "Recapitulacion da Dubida, Incomodidade, Incomunicacion e Confusión," and "Tristeza, Fracaso, Doce Tolemia e Final".
I could not pick a single favorite right now - maybe in time. For now, however, the whole thing blends wonderfully in my mind as a single musical entity. Indeed, the only way, sometimes, to know where one track ends and another begins is to simply watch the time - but I don't suggest this, at least on the first listen. Its being so chaotic, though, makes me slightly uneasy occasionally. It's unpredictable, always - and no one likes it when things don't go according to plan. Still, whether you're looking at it as a Jazz or a Metal fan, it's fucking genius. A tip 'o the hat to this Black Metal (?) trio from Spain!