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