Of Modern Architecture w/ Vomitself, The Waning Light, and Truent at Biltmore Cabaret, 28 January 2017 (Photo Gallery / Gig Review)
We haven’t covered a lot of progressive metal shows but this lineup was so enticing that we jumped at the chance to catch the show.
There must be something going on in nearby Maple Ridge, as it continues to produce excellent new metal acts – Truent could very well give fellow ‘Ridge residents The Mountain Man reason to run for the hills: the band delivered an enthusiastic set of thrashy, heavy rock with strong songwriting, solid musicianship and energetic showmanship that, despite their rookie status, was on a par with that of the wilderness-loving Wacken Metal Battle Canada finalists.
Showcasing their debut album One Plague Shy of Utopia, The Waning Light‘s infectious whirlwind of psychogenic hardcore swept over the enthralled audience like a viral tornado. Compared to the band’s already strong set at Diecemberfest, Saturday night saw the quartet carry out an even more precise exercise in innovative progressive metal, regardless of the relative acoustic challenges of the Biltmore’s confined basement space.
Whether by the brute display of extreme metal or the extreme volume of its singer’s black metal banshee-wail vocals, Vomitself‘s audience was literally taken aback, viewing the performance several feet away from the foot of the stage. Figuratively speaking, a big-picture view from a distance is likely necessary to appreciate that the band’s songwriting and execution are clearly an inspired work in progress – wherever founding member Rory Watson’s musical focus may be fixed, the listener can only observe that his amorphous auditory landscape is still emerging. Despite a shaky rendition of “Ace of Spades”, one was reminded not of Motorhead but Burning Witch – the pre-Sunn O))) project of Southern Lord Records founders Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson – which, in hindsight, served as an early indicator of the innovative direction O’Malley and Anderson were to follow, and may suggest a similarly groundbreaking trajectory for Watson and company.
Despite singer Keaton Campbell’s visible struggles to repress the symptoms of a nasty cold (and admirably bouncing back after the first four songs), Of Modern Architecture played a striking headliner set. With dynamic songwriting at its foundation, the band’s technical prowess established a sturdy edifice of sound over the course of forty minutes that brought even the earlybird club kids to their knees in adoration.
Having covered Vancouver’s extreme music scene for a few years now, it’s a pleasure to see such a strong lineup of local acts each pushing the boundaries of their chosen genres and influences. That type of curation poses a challenge for promoters, granted; but one hopes that support from the music community will encourage these and other innovative artists to persevere (rather than defer to market demand for another cookie-cutter doom or thrash band), and persuade promoters to continue taking a chance wherever they can afford to include those unconventional creative acts which transcend the limits and challenge our expectations.