Sunday, January 30, 2011

Kylesa, Rosetta, Fight Amp @ Santos - 1.26.2011

Boy was this a night to be a balding pearshaped metalhead in your thirties. Especially if you have a propensity for beards and horned rimmed glasses. You know what I'm talking about: HIPSTER METAL. The term actually makes me kind of sick, even if I do listen to a lot of those bands. Therefore, I suggest a new term for Baroness, Kylesa, and the like: The New Wave of Heavy Indie Rock. See? No more accusations of who's "troo" and who's not. Besides, the sensibilities of the bands in the "hipster metal" oeuvre match up better with 90's post-punk and alt rock bands than any period of metal, except maybe the 70's (and let's face it, punks and indie kids were always more partial to Motorhead and Sabbath than the likes of Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel).

I got in late, so I only caught the very end of the opening band, NJ's East of the Wall. A brief Youtube search shows that all I missed was more shoegaze/doom rock hybridization. Meh. I still have 3 Baroness albums that I keep promising myself I'll listen to, so East of the Wall will have to wait.

If I had to describe Fight Amp in one word, the word I'd use is "Unsane". And you should too, as the influence is fairly obvious. Of course, I have no problems with this as Unsane are one of the most under-appreciated bands in heavy music. Fight Amp are largely lacking Unsane's sheer abrasiveness, but successfully channel their rhythmic sensibilities. Hell, if even Entombed wanted to be Unsane for an album, who can blame these guys?

Rosetta were a revelation to me. Though I'm mostly bored with this type of earth shaking post-metal, Rosetta remind me of the best band in the style whose name doesn't end with "sis": Sweden's mighty Cult of Luna. Like Cult of Luna, Rosetta put their effects racks and echo pedals to maximum hypnotic evil use, before bringing the hammer down with huge waves of crushing sound. Though I couldn't hear a thing the vocalist was doing, his enthusiasm was laudable, and possibly the most thrilling performance of the night. Definitely a band I want to hear more of.

Credit to Kylesa for nearly filling up Santos Party House on the night of the much talked about "Thundersnow." I guess their music really strikes a chord with people. On their most recent album, they've taken their indie influence farther than they have before - some songs sound like Igor Cavalera jamming with My Bloody Valentine. Why they need two drummers to achieve this is beyond me, but the parts where all the band members started banging on drums made me wonder whether Sepultura are getting the appropriate royalties.

There were moments during Kylesa's set when I wondered how much of their appeal to the indie crowd was nostalgia for the days of Alt Rock past. As far as female singers go, Laura Pleasants certainly seems more Courtney Love than Angela Gossow, and the direction they've taken on Spiral Shadows is overly reminiscent of the fuzzed out sound of Seattle. Which leads me to believe that Kylesa (and indeed, most "hipster"/"post" metal bands) really belong more with indie rock than metal. Certainly at no point in their set do they reach the apocalyptic heaviness of Neurosis, or the sheer caveman barbarity of High on Fire or early Mastodon. Not that they're any worse for it; after years of metal bands watering down their severity to appeal to other audiences, it is nice to hear a band err on the side of heaviness even if their interests may lie elsewhere.