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ConcertsClutch, Orange Goblin, Lionize, Scorpion Child-Salt Lake City, UT, The Depot

Posted on Saturday, March 30 2013 @ 07:34:37 CDT by Pete Pardo
Heavy Metal I can't believe how many excellent bands are rolling into town; even better, many of these bands are playing Utah for the first time or are returning after many, many years. I read the other day that Lamb of God announced a run of second-market shows. One of the cities in this market is Salt Lake City. I am always a little annoyed by the designation of second market. No, we aren't New York or Los Angeles, but the metal scene is big here--and growing. I would bet that many bands would attest that playing here is worth the time and the effort. Well, I won't go on. Most readers don't live in these parts anyway. We do get some damn good tours around here and, since our town is a little smaller, they usually play in smaller venues. So that's cool.

The thing I really liked about this show is that it showcases a perfect mixture of new and experienced talent. It also highlights the recent upswing of interest in big guitar rock, that 70s-inflected style that Black Sabbath perfected. It's interesting to me that this style is making a comeback, especially since it seems to be Swedish bands like Witchcraft (and many others) that are leading the charge. As with the resurgence of American blues music in the late 60s, it always seems to be European musicians that rediscover and make popular certain key musical sounds and styles.

The first act, Scorpion Child, from Austin, TX, suits this rising trend toward guitar rock perfectly. I've been hearing a lot about these guys lately and have no doubt that I'll hear much more in the future. They recently signed with Nuclear Blast and are releasing a debut album very shortly. With hope, they'll make a big splash and win a big audience. It helps that they are a genuinely talented band and are writing very strong songs. This is a band that has already risen to the top of their local scene and is poised to win the attention of a national audience. The best thing about Scorpion Child is that they play with that warm, distorted sound that hits that sweet spot between the ears. They don't imitate or pretend. These guys own the sound and strut about on stage as though they've been doing this forever. They sound fresh and exciting. Keep your eye on these guys because they are sure to make a strong impression wherever they go.

If Scorpion Child masters the sound of the past, Lionze captures its more soulful side by mixing the best of stoner style with something they call dark reggae. I was a little skeptical at first, wondering if their sound was too eclectic to engage the audience. I was dead wrong. These guys have taken a mixture of musical styles and blended them into something captivating and exciting. For lack of better words, their music is sweet and nostalgic, the kind that adds a little more swing, a little more swagger, to the overall sound. Their songs are very rhythmic, catchy, and funky and they sound great in a live setting. Moreover, they are a great band, filled with talent. The lead singer, Nate Bergman sings with love and affection for the music, his voice always soulful and lyrical and earnest. Lionize is worth checking out.

Orange Goblin hardly needs introduction. They are one of the biggest metal acts in England these days and are a great live band. In my interview with them before the show, they told me that they recently went professional and quit their day jobs. In a difficult market, this is a huge accomplishment, one that these guys should be able to carry off for a long time, especially if they continue writing albums like Eulogy for the Damned. It's amazing how a bunch of relatively young and fairly soft spoken guys could sound so big. Their latest album, Eulogy for the Fans captures their live sound perfectly, complete with flubs, forgotten words, and missed notes. I'm not saying these guys screw up a lot, I just mean that these guys just get up and play, not worrying about being overly polished or perfect. They get up and play, a style that is sincere and impressive. I was sad that they didn't play "The Fog," one of my favorite songs, but these guys have so many good songs that most people haven't heard, it's hard to get the set list just right. After seeing these guys, I thought to myself that the age of the rock star is over. Now we have cool, down to earth, guys who haven't forgotten what it means to be fans of the music. There's no pretense, no diva-like behavior, jus big and beefy heavy rock. Orange Goblin is awesome--everyone should have the chance to see them in action.

When Clutch finally took the stage, they brought a renewal of energy and passion, giving the fans reason to hang on for one more set. I had no idea how popular they were; having never seen them before (nor even heard much of the music), I didn't know what to expect. As they took the stage, a funk song ("I Need Some Money") played, a reminder of these guys roots and a clear indication of where so much of their inspiration comes (I mean the funk, not the need for money). Frontman Neil Fallon is a hoot. He jumps, gyrates, and gesticulates. He moves like a preacher possessed by the spirit of James Brown, the stage his pulpit and the music his Bible. The band, standing to the side, but not too spread out, sets the mood with their constant funk-infused beats. They are everything a funk metal band should be and serve as a stern reminder that bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers may be mostly faking it.

In short, this tour is definitely one for fans of hard rock and heavy metal who like the recent turn away from death and black metal. This is music for fans who like Gibson guitars (most of the bands tonight played SGs), drum beats that really mark out rhythms, and plenty of groove.

Carl Sederholm

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