Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Concert Review - A Sound of Thunder, King Giant, Blood Corps, Sons of Eddie - 6/8/13 at Empire, Springfield, VA

A Sound of Thunder is hands down my favorite local band, so I try to get out to support them whenever they can. They have a kickass vocalist with a powerful voice, lyrics that delve into all kinds of fantastic and dark corners of the imagination, a really talented guitarist, and best of all, they live up to their name and shake the walls when they play live. I missed their last cd release party and a lot of their recent shows opening for awesome acts like Doro, so I was determined to get out to support them this time.

When the show was first announced, I was about equally excited to see Terracide open for them. I got their demo a month or two ago at a show, and was stupefied by the epic melodic metal assault that assailed my ears. Sadly, they dropped off the show, and were replaced by an Iron Maiden cover band, Sons of Eddie. S wanted to see them, but we did not get there in time. (Although we did get from Arbutus to Springfield in less than an hour, as promised, using my secret route, so it's not my fault!)

Fairfax, VA band Blood Corps was on next. We didn't have time to check them out ahead of time, so we had no idea what to expect. When I heard them sound checking, the guitars sounded all right, but I heard the vocalist doing metalcore screams and started to get worried. But once they started, I actually really liked the clean vocals. On most songs, they had a bit of an old rock and roll feel, like Volbeat has, with touches of Iced Earth or Disturbed on a couple songs. The metalcore screams were bearable (it's mostly the emo-sounding clean metalcore vocals that I can't stand, and they only used those on one song, "Drawn Together"). The guitars were solid, heavy and kind of groovy, but also kind of slow paced and bland. Maybe it was the sound mix, though - I caught some hints of something more interesting going on. The band seemed to have co-leading guitars - there was a girl guitarist and guy guitarist, and they appeared to be switching off taking the lead. Their best song was definitely the last song, "Rockstar Mafia," which was faster and very groovy, and thundering when the drums picked up.The band held my interest, but didn't quite hook me - perhaps if there had been more going on with the guitars.

Next was King Giant from Arlington, VA. We had looked into them ahead of time and got the impression that they're a southern metal band, there's a bit of twang to their sound. They were more polished than Blood Corps, but not my type of thing. They did have some interesting guitar hooks, but mainly had a droning stoner feel, with a bit of country twang, and I didn't like something about the vocals. I spent a good deal of their set trying to figure out what it was and couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something along the lines that the vocals were neither clean or harsh, but kind of gritty. And for some reason that didn't do it for me. I did like the gravelly vocals at the start of "Appomatox," though. They seemed very popular with the crowd, but I couldn't get into them.

Not too long after, A Sound of Thunder came on. I was looking forward to hearing them play a headline set, and hoping to hear a bunch of songs from all their releases. Unfortunately, I was kind of disappointed in their set and their sound overall. They started out with "Queen of Hell," a charging, fist-pumping type of song, but Nina's vocals were too low, and so the song didn't sound as impressive as it could be. The vocals were fixed a few songs in, but the band was plagued with sound problems throughout the set. They played a lot of songs from the new album, which was perhaps to be expected at a cd release party, but I had hoped they would spend a little more time on their "classics." They played a few from the second album Out of the Darkness, and only "Blood Vomit" from their first full-length, Metal Renaissance (although, if I had to choose only one song that album to hear live, that would be the one!). They didn't play any from their demo, which was unfortunate because that has awesome songs like "Walls" and "Archangel" (Metal Wings/Wings of Steel) that sound great live (the other two songs on the demo are good, too, of course). A lot of the songs they chose had long instrumentals which dragged, although the solos were great - Josh can really shred. Overall the new songs seemed slower paced and more low-key, and with post-drunk tiredness kicking in, it started to get hard for me to keep focused. "Power Play" and "Reign of the Hawklords" were my favorites among the new songs, because they were the most energetic, with something of a power metal sound. But none of new songs (besides "Queen of Hell," if it had been louder) had the thundering power of songs like "Blood Vomit" and "A Sound Of Thunder" which made me fall in love with band. The new songs sounded better on the album though, partly because I could actually hear vocals and follow the story in songs like "I'll Walk With You" where that really counts.

There were probably about a hundred odd people there when King Giant went on, and most of them still hanging about when A Sound of Thunder started, but by the time they finished the crowd had thinned to about thirty or forty. Not sure why the crowd diminished so, but I felt bad for the band. Usually they put on a really killer show, but this time it seemed a little slow and dragging.

Next show: Killswitch Engage, Darkest Hour, and some other bands, on 6/12.

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