02/19/06 - In Flames, Trivium, DevilDriver, + Zao @ Le Medley, Montreal
A show with ticket scalpers hoarding tickets at 100 a piece just outside Le Medley is sure to be a big one. And such was the scene at In Flamesâ€™ latest visit to Montreal, on the heels of their brand new album, Come Clarity, placing on Billboardâ€™s charts with 20,000 sold in its first week of release. The demographics and support acts should be self-explanatory following In Flamesâ€™ recent surge in popularity, but show reviews are engaging both to writer and readers, so letâ€™s dive in. Thanks to Melissa and Steph at BCI [www.braveconcerts.com] for their hard work in making sure this show was a success. Many more amazing shows are upcoming, so check out their site for a list of the events. Pennsylvaniaâ€™s (some would say, finally) rising emoJesusmetalcore survivors of the nineties Zao [www.zaoonline.com] were blessed (pun intended) with a surprisingly-strong contingency of their own, in attendance bright and early to support their tattooed, screaming, fashionably-iconic purveyors of Christâ€™s message. Malign them all you want, but when Ringworm opened the Hatebreed show a couple of years ago at the same venue, few people even knew who they were. Loyalty and respect paid to a band, no matter what their stance, style, or appearance, is admirable. But back to my view on things. With comments on their myspace page declaring them â€œbest band of all time. best vocalist of all time. no question.â€, â€œGET UR ASS'S BACK TO ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!â€, â€œZAOOOOOOOO keep it upp man God Blessâ€, and perhaps the most inspiring of all, â€œYou not only look Pure, but you are Pure.â€ I was eager to witness what drastic transformation they underwent to become as godlike (pun intended) as they have become. Touring in support of their recent The Lesser Lights of Heaven DVD, Zao delivered much of the live material from The Funeral of God, their 2004 album which got the popularity ball truly rolling for them, although their vast discography of unique and heartfelt albums paved the path in quite visible fashion over the years. Their merch guy was checking his e-mail during their set. These dudes should read the Da Vinci Code and other related books by Dan Brown, lose their inspiration, and break up. But since Ferret have money to make, and the band still believes, this suggestion certainly will not be proposed by either label head; Haha, j/k, lol. Until then, keep filling kidsâ€™ hearts with hope and having fun on tour rocking out! Next up and seemingly even more anticipated were Coal Chamber V.2k6, more commonly known as DevilDriver [www.devildriver], a corporately-fabricated synthesis of all the â€œbestâ€ (read: most popular) aspects of heavy music, from starting-and-stopping, to half-time breakdowns, to black metal harmonics intended to capture as may fans seeking heavy music above the surface as possible (what? You mean to tell me thereâ€™s a below-the-surface??). And the fisherman said, â€œweâ€™ve got a big one here, reel her in!!!â€ which is exactly what DevilDriver did, from Dezâ€™s Anselmo-type chants of â€œweâ€™re gonna fuckinâ€™ kick your asses whether you like it or not!!â€, to the supposedly dEaTh-mEtAl sing-a-longs, to the (sic) merchandise with slogans on the back saying â€œRipping You To Shredsâ€ and â€œI Could Fucking Care Lessâ€, which adorned nearly 1/3 of the audience by the end of their performance (yes one of the designs was printed on cammo). The crowd lapped it up, proving clearly that, without the shadow of a doubt, these DevilDriver boys sure did their homework! We in the industry like to call it market research. Swallow and smile. Direct support for In Flames came from potentially THE most anticipated band of the night, the American Idol of emonu-metalcore bands and Roadrunnerâ€™s meal ticket in what is still called the metal scene for some reason, Floridaâ€™s Trivium [www.trivium.org]. The band that provided direct support to Iron Maiden in Sweden and is highly-billed on the upcoming UK Download Festival (where Gunsâ€™nâ€™Roses will headline) were in Montreal to be the karaoke machine on which the only albums played were Ember To Inferno and Ascendancy. And everyone was singing along. For the band whose hit single Dying In Your Arms performed superbly on radio (but only after the requisite edit treatment was administered), it was expected that Le Medley would transform into a metalcore choir of sorts for the forty-five minutes they were onstage. Following the release of their next album, they will be headlining the venue, and a couple of albums later at most, Centre Bell(e). From zeros to heroes in 60 seconds flat. We in the industry like to call it payola, or its politically-correct assistant, the marketing campaign. Iâ€™m getting their name tattooed on my right butt-cheek next week. Headliners In Flames [www.inflames.com], on the verge of pinning down a new fanbase after having essentially lost the majority of support it once received from the real metal audiences stemming from their last two sub-par albums of nu-emothrash, must have enjoyed the sight of a packed house which was eerily deficient when they played Le Medley last time (but ironically performed a set chock-full of classics). The new album at the time, Soundtrack To Your Escape, was more the soundtrack of In Lames or In Nu-Flames not being re-signed by Nuclear Blast USA than anything. Despite their over a dozen visits to Montreal over the years, this one probably had the most new faces, and with good reason. Their newest album, Come Clarity, is more a hybrid of Killswitch Engage-type anthemic metalcore and nu-metal bounce, with rushed-through thrash parts to keep whatever old fans are left oriented to the shadow of a band they currently are, than anything. But boy did it sell well upon release. Good for them and their modernized sound, good for Ferret who picked them up like they were a winning lottery ticket, and good for young fans who now have a favorite new band. Shhh! No one tell them that the band are a bunch of smelly, Swedish old men; they might not enjoy the music as much. Was this show review too long for you? Probably. Was this show too nu for me? Definitely.