OCTOBER 2nd 2015
UNEARTH

Review by Lana Muirhead
Photos by Peter Ruttan

PHOTOS: http://www.metaltitans.com/concertpics/unearth/

Any of you who cruise the metal scene would know that I’ve been to several shows in the last while at The Venue on Granville Street.  What many of you would not know is how excited I was for this particular night of rip-roaring vocals and guitar-shredding riffs. When I speak of “this particular night” I’m talking about the unreal ensemble of Unearth and Wovenwar, prequeled by AngelMaker and To The Wind (respectively).

It was sad to say that the crowd was as thin as it was, but regardless: all bands gave it their absolute best and tore up the joint. AngelMaker got the night going with some amazing speed metal/deathcore tracks. I couldn’t quite put my finger on where I’d seen them before, but I knew I was in for an eardrum pounding and man was I geared.  Fronted by two vocalists, Casey Tyson-Pearce and Mike Greenwood, the melodic doom duo screamed through the amps with stunning precision. The sextuplet is rounded out with Colton Bennett and Matt Perrin on guitar, Cole Rideout on bass and Jesse Price on drums. Being local boys (out of North Van) they already had quite the following and the following made a showing. If you haven’t checked these guys out yet but love a heavy bass-line, melodic (but deadly) guitar hooks and searing vocals a la Lamb of God and Cattle Decapitation (which Tyson-Pearce covers on Facebook), this is one of the best local discoveries of this year.  The band recently released their first studio album and have already made several re-orders on it as supply did not meet demand. They were humbled by the opportunity to share the stage with the likes of Unearth and Wovenwar and did not disappoint.

Following the ‘Maker was To The Wind; a Seattle-based 5-piece. To say that their energy could be rivaled is blowing smoke far too deep up the arse hole.  The set was emotionally charged and Tanner Murphy (vocals), Ryan Murphy (guitar), Brian Bernard (guitar), Tron Lauer (bass/vocals), and drummer Corey Lamb were non-stop.  I was not familiar with their music but noted elements of thrash/punk and grunge, along with what you’d expect from a metalcore band.  As a basis for comparison, they seemed to channel bands along the lines of All That Remains (minus some of the melody). However they want to be classified, they rocked it.  Well done southern brothers!

Next up was Wovenwar. As many of you readers likely know, Wovenwar was born of the unfortunate circumstance that was As I Lay Dying (R.I.P. for now) after the very public arrest of the former lead singer of the band, Tim Lambesis. Without beating a dead horse bloody, needless to say the metal community was crushed by the seemingly inevitable dismantlement of the band. Luckily for us fans, Nick Hipa (guitar), Phil Sgrosso (guitar), Josh Gilbert (bass) and Jordan Mancino (drums) were not ready to call it quits but were ready to distance themselves from the controversies of the past in the form of a change of lineup.  Instead, Hipa reached out to a vocalist friend by the name of Shane Blay (of Oh, Sleeper) and birthed Wovenwar.  To great reception, Wovenwar released a self-titled album in August of 2014.  

The electric performance in humble Vancouver put on by the group was without precedent.  The instrumental precision and Blay’s vocal prowess made for a great experience and was clearly a blast for the band itself.  They opened with “All Rise” trading the more scream-y AILD approach for one of melodic metal girth (you read that right: girth). The formula worked. “Death to Rights”, “Tempest” and “The Mason” were a few of the finely executed sets which put Wovenwar into one of my pockets of favourite live shows. All the guys on stage seemed to have had a great time and played like they weren’t going to make it to tomorrow. The crowd was ultra-receptive and (hopefully) made the gods of Wovenwar want to come back sooner than later.

Finally Unearth took to the stage. Again, although the crowd was not what you would expect for such a lineup, it roared for the metalcore mayhem that is their legacy. Trevor Phipps (vocals), Buz McGrath (guitar), Ken Susi (guitar/vocals), Nick Pierce (drums) and bassist Chris O’Toole tore open the crowd with the opener “Giles” off their third studio album “III: In the Eyes of Fire”.  The boys tore through the tunes with hardly a break except to thank their fans and dedicate “My Will Be Done” to them. A great collection of songs were chosen to demo their ever-expanding catalogue, including “The Swarm”, “This Lying World”, “Endless” and “Zombie Autopilot”.

For me, part of being at a live show is the interaction with the crowd and the quality of sound, cohesion, and energy brought by the band. I have never been more enthralled with a performance than I was with Unearth’s.  Phipps crouched down and bellowed at the crowd who itched to be within spittle’s reach of his larger-than-life presence. Every facet of the ensemble was spot on with no one member out-doing the other.  Having said that: I fell in love with about every beat off Pierce’s drum set.  He just nailed it and watching the sticks fly was almost orgasmic (P.S. thanks for sending me home with one!)

I left home figuring I would have a decent time at this show but I seriously did not want to go back to real life afterward. The quality of music and the dedication, love and showmanship of every band this night blew me away. I was (almost) happy to have the opportunity to shove my way to the front with little resistance where I ecstatically lived out those 5 hours of my life: but really I just wanted to set up camp and have Unearth light the fire. I sincerely hope they have the best of luck on the rest of the tour and that Vancouver ends up being a regular stop on whatever future tours go down. Ok, enough ass kissing. Truly though: a bloody good time.