Technicality, sheer musical insanity and plenty of what the fuck moments, easily sums up went down Friday night in Walnut Creek, Ca. Well, of course I can elaborate further on the events that took place during the four band metal show at Red House Studios in Walnut Creek. Arsis, Allegaeon and Exmortus, are currently doing an extensive tour across North America and made a stop in Walnut Creek. Luckily for me Walnut Creek is not too far from where I go to college, so I was definitely not going to miss out on this show.
The opening band for the night was the Bay Area’s own Hysteria who were added onto the bill. I have seen Hysteria before about a year ago, surprisingly around the same time, open for Havok. This local metal band really does stay true to the classic heavy metal formula. Their lead singer who also plays a mean guitar gives the band a really distinct sound. He has great stage presence and knows how to the crowd going. Hysteria tore through a short, yet very energetic set, full of blistering harmonic leads and crushing riffs. For the first band of the night, there was a decent amount of fans and I really hope more Bay Area fans begin to embrace Hysteria. I think these guys just need to keep pouring out the metal energy, and eventually, they will get their name further out in the metal world.
The second band to take the stage was the extreme technical thrash/death group from southern California, Exmortus. Earlier this year the band released their third full-length album, “Slave to the Sword,” and have been touring non-stop it seems like since the album’s release. One cannot forget to point out this band’s amazing technical guitar playing abilities. The twin guitar attack of Exmortus really gives their music an extra kick in the pants, and it showed during their set. From the start of their set to the end, Exmortus looked enthusiastic up on stage and played their hearts out. David Rivera and Conan Gonzalez played some blazing lead guitar parts while constantly banging their heads. Bassist Aldo Bibiano and drummer Mario Moreno were a solid rhythm section that laid down plenty of thunderous jams for the lightening guitar shredding to take place. All four of these guys are tremendous up and coming musicians who know how to put on a killer show. One memorable moment during their set that really stood out, was when David and Conan put their guitars behind each other’s backs and played the other guy’s guitar. I thought they were insane shredders to begin with, but this behind the back dual guitar trick just unbelievable. The crowd was going nuts during the whole set and once the band finished their set, the ravenous metal loving concert goers wanted more. So, the band played one more song, which was a cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark at the Moon.” David put down his guitar and sang the song with plenty of passion channeling his inner Ozzy. Conan of course shredded his way through the metal classic and would have made Jake E. Lee very proud.
Now, the third band Allegaeon, I was not very familiar with and felt bad because I had pronounced their name wrong a couple times during my radio show when talking about this concert. This five piece Colorado melodic death metal band was a bit of a pleasant surprise, but also a bit of a repetitive random shred machine. Their singer was simply awesome and did a great job interacting with the crowd. If there are any young up and coming frontmen out there, the singer in Allegaeon can help give you some pointers. Just the way he carried himself onstage really showed how he cared about the music he was playing and the people he was playing for. The two guitar players were good and ripped through melodic scales like it was no big deal. However, after a couple songs I became tired of hearing the random shredding and finger tapping. If not for the main crushing head banging style riffs, I would have easily lost interest. I would say they are amazing musicians who have a singer that seems to be a natural perform, but the style of technical melodic death metal can carry on for far too long.
Arsis, the veteran melodic death metal band from the East Coast, was the last band to take the stage. By the time they began their set the crowd was beginning to get rowdy and the pit was getting larger. I was having to keep pushing people back in after they would fall chaotically out. Arsis is an amazing live act that just delivers precise technical musical abilities that one cannot sometimes begin to fathom. They played their first album, “A Celebration of Guilt,” in its entirety along with some other extreme metal songs. James Malone the singer and guitarist is an energetic frontman and even more ridiculously talented musician. He plays with great fluidity and can hammer out some ear shattering riffs. One could tell these guys have been playing for a long time and know how to melt the minds of melodic death metal fans. Towards the end of their set the band even played a WASP cover that was surprisingly good.
Eventually some of the drunks were beginning to fall down, but the crowd for the most part kept roaring and throwing the devil horns up in the air until the final song. Overall it was an enjoyable night of amazing musicianship that showed why metal bands are no musical schmucks. These guys can play their instruments and if you need proof, just catch one of these bands the next time they play your town. Trust me, your mind will explode from the constant shredding and technical madness. You have been warned...