GIG REVIEW: The Return Of THE FACELESS With Special Guests At Baltimore, MD
Dawn 'Mama Love' Brown
On this unusually mild and humid November evening, a collection of people mingled in the hazy darkness of the Baltimore Soundstage anticipating a crazy show. A crazy show is what they got. Several distinct genres were on display with this mash-up of bands, both local and national acts.
The openers for the night’s festivities were all from the Maryland/Virginia areas sporting screaming vocals, solid drumming and driving guitars. Representing three different subgenres of metal, I Plead Insanity, Encasing Embrace and Silent on Fifth Street busted out energetic, if not exactly stellar, sets utilizing every inch of the stage. All three bands were very active and obviously very passionate about their music. Silent on Fifth Street was my favorite of the three. They had a tighter sound with better musicianship.
The first of the national acts for the evening was Toothgrinder, a five-man outfit out of New Jersey labelled as progressive metal. I’m beginning to really loathe labels as Toothgrinder really didn’t come off as such. Having seen a few of the band’s videos prior to this show, I can say that I liked the studio versions of their music rather than the live versions. The studio version sounded very organized, almost orchestrated. On stage, the same songs seemed to lack cohesiveness..
Rings of Saturn was up next after a lengthy intermission. They appeared to be having some technical difficulties on stage. Once they got it worked out, they kicked ass. Strong vocals and complicated riffs were the name of the game. Their set was pretty diverse, from recent songs like “Infused” to older tracks garnering a great fan response. They enjoyed a moderate pit with a few stray crowd surfers.
After the Burial followed with a renewed edge that melted faces throughout the room. Opening with Anti-Pattern, they killed it with the energy of a – With an 8-string lead guitar and a 6-string bass, they have a depth of sound unlike other bands. They are currently touring with session players after the loss of guitarist Justin Lowe, but are battling back with determination clearly displayed tonight.
Again, with the past four or shows I’ve attended, the crowd seems to thin when the headliner comes on. Seems odd. Regardless, The Faceless emerges and immediately captivates what is left of the audience opening with Coldly Calculated Design and then going straight into all three parts of Autotheist. Michael Keene’s guitar was practically on fire, Derek Rydquist’s vocals were brutal (mostly), Brandon Griffin and Justin McKinney, on bass and rhythm guitar respectively, rounded out the “death metal meets Rush” sound. Their set was also sampled from their various studio albums which also received a great fan reaction. The new single, “Spiraling Void”, came across as a progressive heavy metal jam of epic proportion. Closing with Xenochrist, The Faceless definitely showed Baltimore why they’ve enjoyed the following they’ve come to know.
Bottom line: Except for a few glitches, technical difficulties and off nights, this show was a progressive metal fan’s dream. Okay, maybe not a wet dream, but a dream nonetheless.