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Concert Review - As I Lay Dying

Concert Review - As I Lay Dying

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Published by Daryl Darko Barnett
A concert review that I wrote last year for Ground Control Magazine (groundcontrolmag.com).
A concert review that I wrote last year for Ground Control Magazine (groundcontrolmag.com).

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Published by: Daryl Darko Barnett on Oct 19, 2009
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03/20/2011

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Concert ReviewTHROUGH THE EYES OF THE DEADHASTEN THE DAYALL THAT REMAINSAS I LAY DYINGSlim's - San Francisco November 28, 2007The writing on a t-shirt that a youth waiting in line for tickets to this nights show said it all; "EXHUMETHE WRETCHED BODY FROM IT'S TIMELESS SLUMBER". The death-roars that singers of metalcore and death metal bands use is the voice needed to awaken the dead. Tonight I was going to witnessa perturbed spectacle, an obvious oxymoron of musical and spiritual intrigue - a Christian death metal band (hard core genre-ists, please forgive me if you feel I am generalizing the use of this term). I'velistened to a variety of metal core and death metal bands over the past few years and actually enjoy thetechnical intensity and moods of gloom these orchestrations generate. I am by no means an authoritythat understands all that these musicians are trying to achieve with this music. That said, let me say thatafter this night of music I could discern a difference in the air from what it feels like to listen toChristian death metal compared to secular death metal.The evening started promptly at 7:31 with South Carolina secular deathcore band, THROUGH THEEYES OF THE DEAD. Honestly, I thought this was one of the most amazing opening bands I haveever seen perform. The precision that these band members use when moving around the stage and the power-inducing, low squat stances they take when they do guitar solos in unison sent virtual shock waves of intensity into everyone that watched them. I think they must channel their energy straight upfrom the core of the earth into the power chords and doom filled rhythms they send into the room of energy and mood hungry warrior fans. The four front members move with military precision across thestage with a fluidity that exhibits practice and a type of spiritual unity. Their set included the songs"The Deep Dark Skies", "To Wage A War", and "Pull The Trigger".HASTEN THE DAY came on stage at 8:12 with a much different energy and sound. They play a moremelodic form of Christian metalcore with two guitarists and drummer singing harmony and back up tothe death roar shouting of lead singer, Stephen Keech. In comparison to the orchestrated and precisestage movements of TTEOTD, these guys seemed sloppy and uncoordinated, lacking a focus of energyin their movements. Despite that, these long haired rockers got the crowd moving and raising their hands in salutes to one of the lords or the other. One thing that blew my mind was the guitarist that didthis extreme back bend while he soloed then pulled up straight and went into this maniac head banging- never losing a beat. Like he was possessed by some spirit! The flavor of sound in the air definitelytook on a sweet aroma. One lyric I remember being able to understand was "Why are you so afraid?What are you afraid of?" Another memorable line was, "I will fight this war forever, until I die!" Thenatives were getting into the spirit. The waves of the tide in the body of followers were gatheringstrength.
 
At 9:02 ALL THAT REMAINS took control of the room and brought the energy level to an amazingnew level. Lead singer Phil Labonte acted like a combination manic-reprobate cheer leader, coach,quarterback and circus barker, running and bouncing all over the stage. Thankfully his long-hairedguitarists were adept at extreme head banging. Otherwise I might have started to believe this band hadhip-hop influences, the way Labonte wore an over sized baseball cap and kept doing chest and armthumps to the crowd while he roared. Also amazing to me is that the audience knew the words to somany of ATR's songs. Labonte would shout out the names of songs so everyone could then join in withtheir own moderated death roar chants. Their set list included, "This Calling", "We Stand", "BecomeThe Catalyst", "The Air That I Breath", and "For Salvation". At one point he shouted out, "Do youguys like death metal? Well, we are NOT a death metal band." I assume this was an attempt to clarifytheir Christian influence although the amount of times he used the F-word expletive made me wonder.Another time he shouted out, "Do you know what a circle pit is? Then open this place the Fuck up!"That was all it took. The waves of the tide of the body of followers became tidal.There is something soothing about these doom-ish melodies. The darkness echoes with the pain wecarry in our bodies, our souls, our memories. There are times I actually feel moved to tears when thismusic loosens the things inside of me I no longer need to own or carry. With roars that would rattle the bones of the dead back to life I imagine that this is what Jesus' voice would have sounded like when Hecalled for Lazurus to rise from the dead. Is that a hidden intent of those that shout Christian death metalsongs? To awaken the dead in spirit from their slumber? I chatted with a man in the audience, Noah, amember of the Christian death metal band THE TRISTAR EMBODIMENT and he epitomized thisroaring voice as a "battle cry".At 10:16 the waves inside Slim's went tsunami. AS I LAY DYING came on stage and I becamewitness to the most professional stage presentation and refined (yet completely chaotic) performance Ihave ever seen at this venue. These men come on stage with a power and confidence I've never seen before. Truly, like warriors standing at the edge of a battlefield they wield their weapons of destructionand shout with voices empowered by a belief that they have already won this war.Tim Lambesis is a hulking presence, dark, but only menacing to his enemies. I kept having flashes of visions of "Eric Draven" (from the movie The Crow) in my mind when I looked at Lambesis stand talland brooding over the edge of the stage. Despite the fact that I was very familiar with their newestalbum, AN OCEAN BETWEEN US, had it not been for Lambesis announcing the titles of songs before singing them I was unable for the most part to recognize the songs. The volume they pumpedout in combination with the roars of the audience singing along inside of this small venue turned into amessy blur. Their set included "WITHIN DESTRUCTION", "THE DARKEST NIGHTS","FORSAKEN", "MEETING IN TRAGEDY", "I NEVER WANTED", "COMFORT BETRAYS","THE SOUND OF TRUTH", "94 HOURS" and closed with "MEANINGLESS". At the beginning of the last song Lambesis invited everyone to climb up on stage and sing along. Crowd surfing had beengoing on all night but now there was a flood of people climbing on stage, prancing, singing and leaping back into the crowd. One young woman even lifted her shirt and flashed the crowd!I wish I was younger and stronger and felt well enough to swim in the body of humanity with thecrowd during this performance - there was so much love and excitement in the room it was almosttangible in the air. I have never seen Slim's have such a full audience before and from my vista point inthe rear balcony I could not see an inch of space where people stood that did not vibrate and move anddance in accord with the power of this music and these lyrics. It seemed to me to be a modern versionof Christian revival meetings of old where the Holy Spirit descended upon the crowd and brought theminsight, healing and rebirth. This music, through the intent of these performers sets these people free.

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