Progressive metal fans are a dedicated bunch. The genre implies technical musicianship, massive build ups and extreme vocals. Amoung the most disciplined and talented performers of this style are the North Carolina based Between the Buried and Me who have consistently toured their dense and fierce material since 2000. Between one of the most capable set of modern touring musicians, the excitement of a dedicated crowd and the top notch atmosphere of the Commodore Ballroom, Saturday Night was a winner. Seldom can a concert goer expect as high a level of technical ability, enthusiasm and fantastic attitude from both performers and audience as the consistently strong four band line up.
All four bands who played in the evening played well executed progressive metal; while there were many similarities, the first group The Fire Safety, hailing from London, England, set a solid sweep-picking standard with a vocalist with a likeness to Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. The Fire Safety announced they were very happy to be playing their first show in Canada and that they were going to debut some new material.
The Contortionist continued the progressive metal spree with their dramatic vocal dynamics, pulling the audience from dark spacey progressive rises to coarse screamy vocals. With two vocalists, one clean, one metal, the Contortionist are spirited, technically able and an excellent fit on the bill.
The Faceless blasted their set with machine-gun style kick drums. The band features no bassist, two guitars and a relentless rhythm section with a thundering war drum quality. As with all of the opening acts, the standard for The Faceless was very high and their set was well enjoyed by the moshing audience. Both the opening performers and the crowd were in awe of BTBAM, either from pride of playing alongside such a respected band or just plain excitement of seeing one of the generation’s best metal acts.
While all of the acts were excellent examples of classical influenced metal exploring dark and heavy themes, BTBAM separated themselves from their peer musicians through high production stage setup, exceptionally clean transitions from lightning fast guitar scales to eerie keyboard atmospheres. True to their reputation, BTBAM are technical monsters; the band also shows exceptional talent at arrangements, giving their music a more orchestrated feel compared to other progressive metal groups. Two screens of interstellar and anatomy-based images complemented the precision and tight knit chemistry of the band who seldom stopped for breaks to address the crowd, understandable given the extreme demands of their sound.
Having played the Rickshaw Theatre a couple years ago, it is hard to imagine a more band more deserving of the upgrade to such a famous and high quality venue. With such technical musical ability, vision, and as dedicated and respectful fans as BTBAM, it was a perfect storm for progress metal. Between the Commodore’s top notch sound system, a highly eager audience and the unfathomably talented Between the Buried and Me, a pleased audience got a heavy dose of progressive metal.