Collapse, Swells, Barnacle, Reproacher and Clinging to the Trees at Blast-O-Mat, 4/30/11

Categories: Concert Reviews

Tom Murphy

With Barnacle, Reproacher and Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire
04.30.11 | Blast-O-Mat

The pedigree of Barnacle is fairly impressive (former members of Elucidarius and Ascaris and Nick from Cephalic Carnage), but the music stands on its own. If guys with genuine technical chops to burn decided to form a band that indulged every angle of excess in metal before shearing off the worst of it, they'd have a band like Barnacle. What we saw at this show toward the end was a kind of melodic doom-prog, like something Mogwai would play if it went completely metal and learned a thing or two from Converge.

Tom Murphy

Apparently not just high winds and fireworks come from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Actually, there's been a good, if not-as-well-known-as-it-should-be metal scene there for years. Cheyenne's Reproacher unleashed upon us a rumbling blasts of low end and eruptive vocals.

For much of the set, the lead singer was a one-man circle pit, and eventually a person or few from the audience joined in on the action. During "The Plan," the bass line transformed from a textured throbbing into an edgy, angular sound that cut through the other sounds being hurled toward us.

Tom Murphy

Finishing with "Thorn," a song, according to the singer, "about the incredible people in our lives which may include yourself." What followed in the wake of that pronouncement was doomy grindcore that threatened to spiral completely out of control like a dangerous machine. Sometime during the show, these guys told us they have a record coming out soon and that the band would be back at Blast-O-Mat on July 17. Unexpectedly good from the beginning, Reproacher kept getting better until the end.

Tom Murphy
Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire

The three-piece Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire somehow managed to be as hard hitting as ever. Its knack for taking atonal, dark, rumbley drones into something incredibly heavy, yet musical, is just one thing that has always set this band apart. Ethan McCarthy's feral wails articulate a heartfelt pain that, when combined with the music, seems to purge the anguish of having to get by in a world and society seemingly built to crush the human spirit -- and this trio is struggling against that essential despair by both embodying that feeling in sound and rendering it comprehensible.

During "Velveteen Walls," the bass line executed powerful swells with a creative use of sliding up the neck. What also became obvious is that JP Damron doesn't just lay down blast beats, which is difficult enough to do properly, he constantly brings in different percussive textures and truly creatively mixes up the rhythms in a way that is easy to miss if you're too focused on guitar and vocals.

At one point, during one of the newer songs, all three musicians together created a sound that conjured images of being in a big city just as a particularly potent tsunami hits and all you hear is the most colossal flood of water you'll ever hear in your life and you feel it in the ground in the air as you witness buildings in the distance collapse in the onrush of the wave. Maybe Clinging is simply a metal band but it is one that doesn't seem to play to impress with technical prowess, on which it is not short, but one that creates a powerful visceral experience for anyone in the room.

Location Info



2935 W. 7th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: General

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Ben Pitts the Viking Metal Shaman! Awesome.

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m b

Mentioning that one of the newest additions to Cephalic is in an opening band but no mention that the founding member of Cephalic is now presenting his new band, Collapse's first Denver show? Sheesh!


"Just when it seemed like hardcore was long dead and completely irrelevant"Dumbest thing I've ever heard. Hardcore is fucking thriving big time right now.


You must've missed this bit:

"This was the second ever show from Collapse -- its first being at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs a couple of months or so ago. So there was a bit more anticipation of getting to see the group. With good reason. From the beginning, Collapse, which features Zac Joe, formerly of Cephalic Carnage..."


I had a nice and tidily organized response to this claim, but then I realized that I'd be giving Mr. Murphy too much credit if I published it. Here are my two main points:

1. If Hardcore is irrelevant, then DIY music in Denver is also irrelevant, seeing as how the two things are intertwined in this city. Dozens of Hardcore shows happen every year in spots like Blast-o-mat and Rhinoceropolis, which help keep their doors open and ensure that this author's buddies' bands have a place to play. Thanks, Hardcore.

2. A claim that Hardcore is long dead or irrelevant is not only petty, pithy, smug, and stupid, but it's just downright bad journalism. Any rock critic worth his salt should know that Hardcore remains a vital part of the musical landscape in 2011 and will continue to do so. To rebuke this fact only serves to make a writer seem like he holds some sort of personal vendetta against an entire genre, which is one of the silliest and most pointless wars that I could ever think to wage...not that I would ever infringe on Mr. Murhpy's right to wage it, of course. Keep on fighting the good fight, big guy.

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