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A Review of Local Bands Counter Clockwise, Cyanic, The Devil Himself, and Dimidium
Metal Night at The Cupertino Brit
Every once in a while I’m clearly reminded that I really need to get out more. This time the reminder came in the form of a visit to the bar Britannia Arms on a Saturday night in order to support the Bay Area’s local Metal bands. I could tell the night wasn’t going to be one of my top ten bestest nights ever pretty much from the moment I walked in and saw what the other females were wearing. See, I’d forgotten that going out to a bar is like going to a unisex brothel, only more expensive and less comfortable. I’m looking down at my t-shirt and jeans, inwardly thanking God that I’m not wearing anything with a comic book character on it, and wondering if I have anything in my closet tight, short, low, or sheer enough to look like I belong. Is there some sort of boutique I don’t know about that specializes in skank-wear and hoochie attire? My next observation was at how very small and soon-to-be very packed the entire place was. The bands didn’t have a stage so much as a tiny section in the back to set up, which I imagine was not ideal considering how much metal vocalists tend to move around during a performance. I was sure at some point someone was going to head-bang right into a table and die instantly. I could just imagine the eulogy; “He was so metal that it literally killed him…that’s how he would’ve wanted to go out.” It made me smile a little- that is until the first band started up and I began wishing that I was the one who could die instantly. Have you ever seen a guy and immediately just known with every molecule in your body that he is a complete and total douche? Some combination of what he’s wearing, how he carries himself, how much gel is in his hair, and how much he reeks of Axe body spray just telegraphs “douche” to your brain. That was my exact impression of the lead singer for the first band, Counter Clockwise; a group of guys hailing from Monterey CA. It’s rather unfortunate since the band as a whole isn’t all that bad, you just can’t tell because you’re too distracted by the tool in the very front in a bright-red button down shirt and an enormous pair of sunglasses he’s wearing… indoors…and at night. I think they were to protect his eyes from the imaginary spotlight he wants to hog, or maybe so he can’t see the expressions of boredom and disappointment on the audience’s faces. His look was lame and contrived, as were the bands lyrics, which makes me wonder if he is the one that writes them. Perhaps he does and with the sunglasses on so that he can’t see what he put down. All I heard was a bunch of empty and generic “metal” stereotypes put to music with virtually no real meaning behind them. To me they sounded very predictable, though not duly unpleasant, but like I’d heard it all somewhere before. Basically, it’s not like their music made me want to stick a pencil in my ear, it just wasn’t very impressive. I guess that’s something like a C-. The next band to take the non-stage was a group from Santa Cruz CA called The Devil Himself. Despite the rather cheesy name I think I may have enjoyed this band the most. For one
thing the vocalist actually had a pleasant voice- even while screaming. He was also appropriately non-douchey looking, as was the rest of the band. They made much better use of their bass player and drummer than the previous band and as a result, the songs had catchier rhythms and more of a multi-layered feel to them. I don’t know if I would exactly classify them as a “metal” band, though. The music certainly had parts that held a similar intensity to metal but overall it was more like a mixture of rock and grunge. I still dug it. The lyrics weren’t half bad, either. They certainly had more meaning behind them than a lot of bands I know of, and I kinda like the idea of a band that claims their music “glides along more than a few of the nine levels of darkness and punishment” and then has a song that’s basically a 5 minute long “f&%k you” to an ex-girlfriend. Feel that otherworldly bad-breakup darkness! My main complaint about The Devil Himself is probably that they have this faint arrogance about them. Some of their lyrics remind me of teenage poetry- full of pretentious inner-turmoil and describing issues they don’t fully understand yet still feel like they should have something to say about them. Or like comparing their music to a tour of the nine levels of Hell; an obvious reference to the “Inferno” cantica of “The Divine Comedy” by Dante. I should’ve expected as much from a band named “The Devil Himself” but I can’t help but find it annoying whenever someone refers to the Inferno knowing that 9 times out of 10 that person hasn’t even read it, let alone the other parts of the poem. But all in all I’d have to say that The Devil Himself is probably about half as good as they seem to think they are which is still pretty impressive. It left me in a good mood and hopeful that the bands would just continue to get better. Then Cyanic started their set and those hopes were smashed faster than a 15 year old anorexic chick doing tequila shots. Oh Cyanic… I really don’t even want to talk about this band from Gilroy. Pretty much the only things I enjoyed about them were the plastic heads decorating the drum set and the fact that their guitar player Alex Braslin was super-yummy and fun to look at. (Though he kept his shirt on the entire time, which was lame.) Other than that there was little that I found pleasant and really just wanted them to be done. If I had to say what bothered me most I’d have to go with the vocalist again, and again it was because the guy was a complete tool. I’d seen him walking around the bar wearing his sideways baseball cap with “wasted” written on the upturned bill and thought to myself: “Gee, I hope this guy gets punched in the nuts.” That’s the only punishment severe enough for someone who purposefully makes himself look so retarded in a public place, let alone a place where he’s about to perform. And it’s not like there weren’t plenty of guys walking around wearing things I wouldn’t even donate to Goodwill. There was one rather husky fella who I could swear was wearing black stretch-pants with pockets sewn on. Is there a term for the male equivalent of a camel toe? Ugh, it made me want to take two straws to my eyes strait up “Oedipus Rex” style. This was the kind of nastiness sprinkled throughout the bar and yet what’s-his-face from Cyanic still managed to stand out as exceptionally bad-looking. It only got worse when the band went up to play. The guy’s voice was as awful as his outfit and the songs seemed mainly to consist of him screaming into the mic at various speeds as low as
he could go while the rest of the band played as fast and as loud as they could go. There might have been words but I can’t say for sure. He also paced around the tiny “stage” area, rolled his eyes into his head, and did everything short of foam at the mouth while he was up there. I’m guessing it was to convey the intensity of the music but mostly it just looked fake and stupid. I can’t even tell you how talented the other band members are since Mr. Wasted’s moronic antics overshadowed them. What I can tell you is that you won’t find me listening to any Cyanic albums unless I become bulimic and need to purge. This brings us to the fourth and last band of the night, Dimidium from the South Bay. They were how I heard about the show at the Brit and pretty much the reason I went out so I was looking forward to hearing them. This was going to be their first live show in a while after a period of internal upheaval and member rearrangement and vocalist Todd Graham admitted to being a bit nervous. Well he could’ve fooled me since he appeared to be nothing but comfortable during the bands entire performance. In fact, I thought that out of all the bands of the evening he had the best rapport with the audience and Dimidium seemed to have the largest and most dedicated following. They also seemed like the most humble and gracious band, thanking the fans and the venue more than once for their support. They didn’t seem to take themselves too seriously, either; a trait I find more charming than anything else. They certainly didn’t play like they lacked any confidence in their music or abilities. All of the band members are clearly quite talented but I must say that the drummer, Tim Duffy, stood out a bit more than the rest to me. My personal favorite aspect of a song is usually a well played combo of drums and bass (“Superstitious” practically makes me drool.) For some reason it seems to flesh out the music in my mind, which could be why Dimidium felt at times like they were missing a little something. The bass didn’t really stand out to me at all and I had a hard time remembering if there even was a bass player. Maybe it’s just that the drums and vocals overpowered it, but then the other guitar players came through just fine so I don’t know. I do know that to me, missing bass is like a slasher flick with no sex; it can still be good if the other elements are well presented but it just doesn’t feel right. Um, did I basically just say that blood and gore and vicious murder feels wrong to me without sex involved? Wow. I really do have problems… Anyway, back to discussing metal bands! Dimidium’s lead singer’s voice was very nice, even during the whole metal band scream thing. I just wish he would actually use it a little more often since that’s a big part of what gives their music a unique sound. Or maybe he could learn to scream more than just the one note. He’s a total cutie, though and apparently I wasn’t the only person there thinking that. A fan must’ve said something because between songs he broke out with “Aww shit- I just got called adorable! That ruins our credibility!” which only succeeded in making him seem even more adorable. In fact the whole band is so easy on the eyes part of me was glad that I could barely see them through the mass of fans surrounding them. (It helped ensure I actually listened to their music instead of just watching them get sweaty.)
Another thing I liked about their performance, which is probably more of an insult to them than a compliment, is that they actually looked like they were enjoying themselves. I don’t know why there appears to be some unspoken rule in the world of metal that you have to look deadly serious or pissed off the entire time you’re on stage, but I think more often than not the musician ends up coming off as fake and dumb-looking (see Cyanic pictures above.) It’s possible to look intense without looking like a retard or giving the impression that you’re utterly miserable. And that would bring us to the conclusion of my night of local metal. When it’s all said and done I actually had a lot of fun for someone spending an evening in a bar without drinking. I learned some valuable lessons as well: Always have prostitute clothes somewhere in your closet just in case. Someone other than Corey Hart wears his sunglasses at night. Cyanic and cyanide are both equally toxic to the senses and should be avoided. The Devil lives in Santa Cruz (which makes a lot of sense when you think about it.) And dimidium not only means “half” in Latin but also that some band names are selected in the dumbest ways imaginable and are completely devoid of meaning. Until next time boys and girls, M.M.M. Dianthrax
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