When I first started writing live music reviews, it was metal shows or bust. Okay, that’s not quite true. I’ve always been a bit all over the place with the shows I go to but I definitely leaned more towards metal shows. There’s just a sense of energy you get from these shows that you can’t find anywhere else. Over the years, I have gotten further and further away from the scene. This wasn’t a conscious choice more than covering four to five band line-ups just became a lot and my music taste has definitely calmed down a bit over the years. As I stood at The Fillmore on Monday night witnessing the current metal scene absolutely destroy the venue, I couldn’t help but miss it and wonder why I started stepping away from this scene.
Before the show truly got started, Crystal Lake drummer Gaku Taura gave the quickly growing audience a drum solo that literally made everything in the venue come to a screeching halt. Whether it was just for a sound check or if the purpose of this drum solo was to catch the audience, it didn’t matter, it worked and, just like that, Crystal Lake (whose merch was upstairs in a corner) jumped into a thirty minute set that was intensely brutal. Personally, Crystal Lake was a standout act of the four-band bill due to the style. They had this perfect blend of metalcore and hardcore. The music, as mentioned, was brutal but it was the perfect kind of brutal that made you want to two-step at some times and push and shove your way through a mosh pit at others. I’ll be honest, Crystal Lake got the crap end of the stick when it came to merch table placement. Instead of being on the main level of the venue, their merch was hidden upstairs in a back corner but hearing vocalist John Robert Centorrino mention this multiple times throughout the already super short set got super old. That being said, it seemed to give him and the rest of the band the perfect amount of angst and aggression to give the audience an absolutely amazing performance.
Following Crystal Lake’s killer opening set was an absolutely insane set from Spite (whose merch was also upstairs but it wasn’t addressed multiple times in the set as it had been with Crystal Lake). I last saw Spite back in November of 2019 but that was forever and a day ago so I was stoked to get a chance to witness their perfection again. Spite is a deathcore band from California but they seem to have this cult-like following up here in the Twin Cities. This cult-like following is for good reason. This band, like the others that performed on Monday night, is pure metalcore and deathcore perfection. When it comes to Spite, it’s vocalist Darius Tehrani who really stands out to me and that’s because of his performance. He’s aggressive and, honestly, a bit intimidating to watch while performing but there’s this charisma and fun attitude that seeps through his intimidating stature from time to time. Although Spite’s set was a hair longer than that of Crystal Lake, it wasn’t enough for me. Watching Spite perform on Monday night sparked that love I have for the metal scene all over again and I can not thank them enough for that.
I was definitely excited for the entire show but I was super excited for the next band, Brand of Sacrifice. Although the last time I saw them perform was back in February at The Varsity Theater when they opened for We Came As Romans, I remember their set vividly and was ready to relive their power again. This Canadian band did not let me down. After walking out on stage to the Pokémon theme song, Brand of Sacrifice seemed to have the goal of leaving no survivors. It was quite the juxtaposition to have them walk out to such a fun track and then instantly switch gears and go into something that can only be considered sheer brutality but I was here for it. Much like that fateful night in February when I was introduced to this band, I was struck by the vocals. Kyle Anderson has this way of going from some of the deepest of growls to the screechiest of pig squeals in just the blink of an eye. Don’t get me wrong, this entire band is talented beyond belief and has unique and ear-catching tracks that stand out in a scene where things can start to all sound the same (there, I said it), but it’s Kyle’s vocals and overall performance that will definitely have me keep coming back to see Brand of Sacrifice each time they come to town.
The three opening acts were amazing and definitely set the stage for what was to come from the headliner. I’ll be honest, I’ve gotten a bit used to working shows with only two or three bands on the bill so, by the time the stage was being turned over for the headliner on Monday, my back was killing me and my bed was calling me but as soon as August Burns Red took the stage, that feeling melted away and I was instantly captivated by this tried and true band.
August Burns Red has been around for decades having gotten their start back in 2003. I remember spending days with their 2005 album ‘Thrill Seeker’ being played on repeat. Then everything changed. I was oblivious to any religious undertones when it came to the music I used to listen to when I was an angsty teenager. If it was loud and fast, I was into it. But then I started to hear things in the scene and it came out that August Burns Red may be a Christian band. Although they have never come out and said they were and have actually mentioned quite the opposite in interviews, I felt the need to stop listening to them. You know, to protect my Jewish heritage or something silly like that. It was silly and I feel like I missed out on years of keeping up with August Burns Red and other bands that I once fell in love with. All of this being said, Monday night’s performance may have been a ten-year anniversary for their album ‘Rescue & Restore’ but, for me, it was also a night of redemption and my way of almost apologizing to the band for turning my back on them.
Although it has been years since I really sat down and listened to August Burns Red, as soon as they took the stage on Monday night it was as if I was back in my teenage bedroom blasting their music as loud as my speakers possibly could. Sure, the songs weren’t familiar as I honestly haven’t spent any time with ‘Rescue & Restore’ which was being played from front to back but August Burns Red has such a distinct sound that I really didn’t care what song they were playing. They could have been playing Yanni covers and I would have loved it just the same. The amount of intensity this band can fit into just one track is insane. The way they dabble into the world of chaos but never fully fall in brings a sense of tension to their sound that I have always loved.
After the playthrough of ‘Rescue & Restore’, August Burns Red went on to play a couple of other tracks from their storied career. I felt like I was completely lost in their world regardless of what song they were singing. I know there was a lot going on in the audience like the constant stream of crowd surfers and the massive pit that took over nearly the entire floor but, throughout the set, I felt like it was just me, the band, and their music. I didn’t care what was going on around me and, after just a song or two, I had completely given up trying to keep track of how many crowd surfers were dumped over the railing. It was perfect to say the least.