Boy, I knew seeing NECROMANCING THE STONE was going to be a treat given the pedigree of its members, but I wasn’t expecting to walk out of the TLA with a new entry on my list of favorite live bands. As soon as they blasted out of the gate with “From Graves To Infamy”, I realized that NECROMANCING was going to be something different. Their riffs have the perfect mix of satisfying chunkiness and melodic flourishes to come off perfectly in a live setting, and it’s clear the crowd that night warmed up to them quickly. It wasn’t long before the audience heeded the exhortation of ARSIS’ James Malone, on guitar, and John Williams from BRIMSTONE COVEN on vocals, and whipped themselves up into the kind of circle pit you never see for the first couple of bands on a bill like this for the song “Crusher”.
Speaking of whom, I noticed very quickly that vocally NECROMANCING THE STONE comes off a lot stronger live than on the studio recording, where I thought the vocals of Williams were underserved in the mix. For those of you who had that concern (as I’ve seen in a few reviews) you’ve gotta catch them live! He was flanked by backing vocals from Malone and the guest bassist filling in for Ryan Williams, a lovely young lad by the name of Taylor Washington who plays guitar in the band PALADIN from Atlanta. Between the three of them, they provided a range of clean and harsh vocals that brought the studio versions of those songs to life.
I would be remiss, on the topic of James Malone, if I didn’t mention his AWESOME riffs and licks. Between him and guitarist Justin Wood (also formerly of BRIMSTONE COVEN), there was a constant barrage of killer guitar work unlike anything you might have expected from ARSIS’ material. There wasn’t a dull moment in the set and the solos he shredded through made me want to neck-romance his bone. Finally, credit has to be given to ALLEGAEON’S Brandon Park who filled in on drums, and brought his usual brand of propulsive, laser-precise playing to get every head in the house nodding continuously through the whole set. With ALLEGAEON’S Riley McShane joining in on final song “The Siren’s Call”, the rapport between the two bands was clear and a fun way to segue into the next set.
I’ve seen ALLEGAEON probably four or five times at this point, but the TLA is easily the biggest and nicest stage I’ve seen them on, and they brought a show to match it. Between sets, they played a snippet of “Master of Puppets” only for the vocals coming in to be those of SMASH MOUTH’S “All Star”. I have to admit, I laughed, and it’s always good to see the ALLEGAEON boys having a sense of humor outside of the music itself, which is more “Neuromancing The Stone” if you get my meaning.
As they opened up with the first song from latest album Proponent For Sentience, I immediately realized I was witnessing these guys having taken their craft to the next level. Both new vocalist McShane and touring bassist Andrew Grevey from WRETCHED were absolutely locked in and precise throughout the entire challenging set. The latter even handled a bass solo during the first song with practiced ease. With the sound from the TLA monitors, I’ve never heard the band sound better both in terms of playing and in the actual sound quality.
After storming through “The God Particle”, a pleasingly unexpected first album cut, the band got everyone clapping for the flamenco intro to “Grey Matter Mechanics”, which definitely added a unique flavor to the proceedings. Riley even started dancing a little bit, which brings me to the question of him as ALLEGAEON’S new frontman. Long story short, Riley brought everything you could want and more to the table, and even when he wasn’t singing he moved with a hypnotically rhythmic motion, like a conductor feeling and controlling the music flowing through him.
Despite their well-known goofiness off stage and the nontraditional elements of their music and performance, ALLEGAEON absolutely bring it live with thunderously heavy yet intricate compositions. Drawing from the well of their three stellar albums, songs like “Of Mind and Matrix” got the crowd riled up and moshing reached a fever pitch. I wish I could have joined them, but I had been feeling sick all night. That didn’t stop guitarist Greg Burgess, though, who looked like the walking embodiment of human misery backstage but was all ferocious roars and blistering precision live. Looking around, every head in the house was getting into it by this point, even those who clearly didn’t know the band, and they got even more so as fan-favorite “Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst” kicked in.
By the time ALLEGAEON finished off with their hit song from the previous album “1.618”, it was quite clear that no one wanted to see them go. And I didn’t want to go either! I lingered around the merch area as long as I could manage but finally had to leave, as fully satisfied as from any great show from the first two bands on the tour! If you haven’t gotten to see this tour yet, it’s worth it for these two bands, not to even go into the live powerhouses that are CATTLE DECAPITATION, GOATWHORE, and WHITECHAPEL (Stay tuned for our photo gallery on those bands!!).
LIVE IMAGES: SCENES OF MADNESS PHOTOGRAPHY
LIVE WORDS: INQUISITOR