This past Saturday presented ample opportunity to catch some new to these ears musical goodness and mix with the bearded jean-jacketed types as a rush of quality metal from straight up hardcore to complex violin-rich doom graced the stage of the Astoria. Thank God the ear protection was firmly in place.
Local four-piece Dungeons opened things up with a furious set that could have been doom or thrash metal, but it was hard to tell because they were a bit too big in sound for the space and some of the finer details drowned a bit in mix. However, it can be said that drummer Garret pulled out some incredible skills on the kit that left my already fuzzed head in a spin.
Vancouver’s Astrakhan were up next and led the swelling crowd on a punishing journey through tight complex rhythms held in place by a brutal bass and drum heavy shroud that was just awesome.
From the floor set up to the stage, Portland, Oregon’s Eight Bells turned the corner from brute strength metal to something more like expressionistic art metal with a gothic bent. With guitarist Melynda Jackson and bassist Haley Westeirner at the forefront, dressed in flowing white robes and drummer Christopher Van Huffel holding it down in back, Eight Bells played the balance between heavy and atmospheric, using electronic wails of feedback to add to the glorious wall of sound.
Headliners Subrosa from Salt Lake City were amazing. Melodic, euphoric, busy and blissful while keeping it down low and heavy as hell, Subrosa was one of the more interesting metal projects I’ve seen in a while. Flanked by two intense violin players, the band played with a sound that mildly reminded me of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, only heavier in bass and of a different sort of doomy darkness.
The lighting was a perfect cast of blue hue and didn’t change all night, which was perfect for what was onstage. The crowd was respectably attentive and you could tell that this was more than just a showing of technical skills and rowdy fans. I may have gone into this blind to all acts on board, but I left having understood the future of heavy music a little more.
By Nathan Pike
Photos: tiina liimu