Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Within The Ruins, The Contortionist, I Declare War, Reflections, Don’t Worry I’m A Doctor, and From Concept To Chronicle – Part 2 of 2
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Station 4, St. Paul, MN

Due to the length, I’ve divided my review of this six-band bill into two parts. This is the second part featuring Within The Ruins, The Contoritonist, and I Declare War. Read part one for the reviews and pictures of Reflections, Don’t Worry I’m A Doctor, and From Concept To Chronicle.

Click on the photo to see more live pictures of I Declare War (22).

Seattle’s I Declare War was nothing short of brutal and intense. Vocalist Jamie Hanks set the tone at the start with an angry rant against humanity to introduce “Human Waste”. The band forged their way through half of their latest, self-titled album, including “Misery Cloud”, “March On”, “Weak Minds” and “The Dot”. Their slow, cranium-numbing death metal in the mold of Obituary went over well with the crowd, and they wrapped up their 30 minutes with “Putrification Of The Population” and “Malevolence”. I Declare War’s albums seem to elicit love or have, but their live show makes an impression whether you like them or not.

Click on either photo to see more live pictures of The Contortionist (27).

The Contortionist was the reason I was here, and they put on a phenomenal show despite the recent departure of vocalist Jonathan Carpenter before the start of this tour. Mike Lessard from Last Chance To Reason was brought in to sing for tours this spring and summer. Upon starting with the subdued “Holomovement” the crowd underwent a dramatic transformation to the point were everyone stood transfixed with attention and giving polite applause between songs. Mike, aside from doing a fantastic job singing, took over the stage, walking and running around while the band mainly stood still during the performance. The 40 minute set focused on newer material with six of the eight songs being from the Intrinsic album (reviewed here). After “Oscillator”, the new album was then represented by “Causality”, “Feedback Loop”, “Geocentric Confusion”, “Cortical”, and “Solipsis”. While the keyboard parts were pre-recorded, the band played nearly flawlessly with the same precision and dynamics found on their albums. The polite crowd response made it unclear how The Contortionist’s progressive music was going over with the much heavier bands on the bill, but the sustained chants of “One more song!” following the end of “Vessel” made it clear that the band won everyone over.

Click on any of the photos to see more live pictures of Within The Ruins (24).

If The Contortionist was a breather of sorts for the audience, co-headliner Within The Ruins brought the exhausted crowd back to life with an equally impressive set. From the opening strains of “Solace”, the entire band took command of the stage and was unrelenting in their execution. Guitarist Joe Cocchi was especially impressive as he stormed across the stage, only pausing to deliver ripping, technical solos throughout the show. Their new album, Elite, was emphasized with “Solace”, “New Holy War”, “I, Blaspheme”, “Feeding Frenzy”, and “Absolute Hell” taking up just over half the set. It was rounded out with a good selection of older material: “Versus”, “Controller”, “Invade”, and the closer, “Tractor Pull”. I really liked Within The Ruins, but the overuse (perhaps abuse?) of backing tracks, particularly guitars, has given me pause about whether they’re crossing a line. It was only about ten years ago that Dope was mocked as “Metal Vanilli” for arguably lesser transgressions. Unless there’s some type of enabling technological wizardry of which I’m not aware, hearing rhythm guitars during solos and what sounded like double-tracked, recorded guitars frequently during the show left me wondering how much of this show was pre-recorded. All of this seemed to go over the head of a crowd more interested in shoving and moshing, so maybe expectations and tastes have changed. This aspect of the show was disappointing for what otherwise was an outstanding performance.

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