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The Heaviest of Metal

SHOW #32: Holy Grail with Royal Thunder and The Kick Ass at the Marquis Theater on 6/27/12

So I learned something last night, that something being that head banging isn’t nearly as effective if you have short hair. Now it should be noted that I learned this from observation rather than experience as I am not one to head bang. Hell, I’m not even one to head bump, at the most I’d sat that I head lightly brush. Perhaps I should have noticed this before but then, I don’t go to a lot of metal shows. You see it’s just that head banging loses a lot of the visual aesthetic associated with it if you have short hair. I have no idea why I’m telling you all this. Maybe it’s to let you know that I went to a heavy metal show last night.

Once again, full disclosure, I went to this show because a representative with one of the bands I’ll be writing about here (That being Holy Grail) contacted me about seeing the show and doing a post about it. That means that I was on the list and all officially journalistic and what not. I don’t think this fact colored my review but I still feel I need to make it known. Now, on to the music.

The Kick Ass

I don’t have a lot to judge these guys on because, due to a Rockies game, it was insanely difficult to find parking that didn’t cost a small fortune. The lack of parking made me a little later to the show than I wanted to be. As a result I only saw about two of these guy’s songs. They were really long songs though, so that should count for something.

This was an instrumental metal trio that consisted of a guitar a bass and drums. The guitar work was good but it tended to get over powered by the drums. Now comes the part where I say that I don’t know if I’m qualified to judge these guys. I don’t morally listen to this kind of music and I don’t know much about it, but in the end what they were doing didn’t really work for me. This is largely because I tend to be a much more lyrical listener than instrumental. For me, without words driving the song something is lost. It becomes difficult to determine the song’s structure and slowly everything begins to bleed together and sound the same. In a band with more instrument and more variety this can work but with simply a guitar, bass, and drums it’s hard for there to be much variety.

Not to say that they were bad, I enjoyed parts of everything I heard but I felt like the songs just went on for too long and that sameness of sound started to weigh them down.

According to their website they are on tour here for the first time in eight years, that coupled with the fact that their band name is also an oft used phrase means that I was not able to find a video of them performing live for you to watch.

Royal Thunder

I’m not sure if these guys are a metal band. They are definitely hard rock but their songs had this kind of slow build to them that I don’t really associate with metal music. To me metal is all about speed, a quick build, fast driving drums and blinding guitar riffs. In a way, for me, metal is like sprinting whereas these songs were more marathons.

I kind of liked the slow build structure of their songs and I felt like they always paid off with a lot of energy and feeling at the top of the crescendo. Unfortunately the sound mix wasn’t great and I couldn’t hear anything of the vocals so I can’t really say if they were any good. I heard snippets here and there but never really enough to judge them. The lead singer was on bass and see certainly seemed to be putting a lot of emotion into her performance which I like to see but I can’t really say if it paid off because I simply couldn’t hear her.

All in all I liked what I heard from them, they got my head bobbing and though they felt a bit angsty for my taste they performed with feeling which is something I always like to see.

Holy Grail

So, these guys were the reason I was at this show. I wasn’t overly familiar with their work. In fact, the only thing I’d seen from them was a music video for one of their songs that was up on youtube. It was hard to say if what I saw in the music video would translate to a live performance.

I’d never say that heavy metal is my favorite genre of music but I also wouldn’t say that I hate it. Music is music and music is good. Especially music that people pour themselves into and these guys put everything they had into their performance. They were energetic and frenetic, they played off the crowd and they banged their heads with reckless abandon. It felt, to a decidedly inexpert me, like the quintessential metal show. The guitars were fast paced, the bass was driving the drums were frantic and the vocals were spot on. That last bit was the best part of the show for me, the vocals were outstanding and they were exactly what metal vocals are supposed to be a bit raw a bit rough and powerful. In this quest that I’m on I hadn’t exactly planned to see any heavy metal but now that I have I’m glad it was these guys because they seem to embody what I see heavy metal as. Passion, power and precision. It was fun to watch, if wholly unfamiliar.

Now I wouldn’t say they made me a metal fan, I feel like it’s a music genre that I would never really feel at home with. I prefer my guitars light and acoustic, I prefer my lyrics folky. Metal is too loud for my sensibilities but I can appreciate it for what it is and I can appreciate a good performance in any genre and this was a good performance.

Vocal level isn’t great on this video but it’s one of the best ones I can find.

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