Concert Review: Antichrist Siege Machine, May 20, Lee’s Palace

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Let’s face it – with its connotations of evil and warfare, Antichrist Siege Machine is a great name for a metal band. And it’s also a fitting one as the Richmond, Virginia-based duo does perform with a certain machinelike efficiency, playing a relentless and brutally heavy set over the course of their relatively brief 25 minute set.

Touring behind their latest, the recently released Vengeance of Eternal Fire, alongside 1349, Spectral Wound, and Spirit Possession, Antichrist Siege Machine (ASM) put on an impressive show at Lee’s Palace on Monday night. Taking the stage to a soundscape composed of rumbling distortion, the duo went full throttle from the very first note and kept things at that level for the duration. Considering there’s only two of them in the band, ASM proved themselves capable of making quite the racket. It was especially impressive to watch drummer SB do his thing, especially when he was also taking on lead vocals at times while blasting away on the kit.

There’s not much in the way of subtlety or nuance in ASM’s music – just straight up brutality played fast and hard. They may have only played for 25 minutes, but they packed a lot into those 25 minutes and definitely made an impression on the crowd. 

Concert Review: Wayfarer, May 17, The Garrison

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With five years having passed since Wayfarer were last in Toronto, vocalist/guitarist Shane McCarthy took a moment near the beginning of their set to comment on how great it felt to be back in the city again before adding, “Let’s do some cowboy shit.”

Touring behind their latest, 2023’s American Gothic (which made #3 on Decibel Magazine’s Top 40 albums of last year), the Denver-based four-piece took to the stage at The Garrison on Friday night alongside tourmates Sonja and Valdrin. And the aforementioned “cowboy shit” was on display on this evening in both the band’s visual aesthetic (bassist/vocalist Jamie Hansen was sporting a bolo tie) and in their music, a mix of black metal and Western/Americana influences – the band has cited fellow Denver bands 16 Horsepower and Slim Cessna’s Auto Club as a couple of the non-metal acts who’ve inspired them. Live, the band’s performance is suitably epic, as sprawling black metal meets slide guitar and moody, cinematic passages.

After playing for roughly one hour, the band ended off their set with “False Constellation,” the closing track on American Gothic and, to my ears, the absolute highlight of the album. Lyrically, it’s an examination of American history and culture with lines like “You’ve got a shadow on your grave” and “A beaten tattered flag/Raised in honor of a dream/A memory/Of what had never came to pass” delving into the dark side of the American dream.

Real cowboy shit indeed.

Song of the Day: Beth Gibbons – Lost Changes

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“Lost Changes” is the latest single from Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, taken off her debut solo album Lives Outgrown. Check out the Juno Calypso-directed video for “Lost Changes” below.

Lives Outgrown is out today via Domino Records.

Concert Review: Esoteric, May 12, The Garrison

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When a band comes through your town on a tour that they’ve labelled “The Incessant Drone of Misery Tour,” it’s a fairly safe bet that they’re not going to be singing tunes about sunshine and lollipops. And sure enough, when UK funeral doom five-piece Esoteric took to the stage at The Garrison on Sunday night, there was a distinct lack of good-time party rock anthems. Rather, true to their name, the Birmingham band was instead offering up something a tad more, well, esoteric. 

Doomy, trippy, and most definitely heavy as hell, Esoteric offer up an interesting blend of crushingly heavy riffage and somewhat proggy psych elements in their sound, all of it delivered at a funereal pace. The band is currently touring behind their latest album A Pyrrhic Existence, their seventh, which came out back in 2019 via Season of Mist. It’s the kind of album that opens with a 27 minute track and just keeps going from there for 90 plus minutes of epic doom. After 30 years as a band, Esoteric have definitely mastered the art of the slow burn.

While Esoteric may not make the kind of music you’d throw on to get the dance floor moving, it definitely sets a mood and I will admit that there were more than a few times during their set that I found myself smiling and slowly nodding my head in approval to the music. So, I guess this is proof that (the incessant drone of) misery really does love company.

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