Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Concert Review: Zoroaster, Black Tusk, Dark Castle & Via Vengeance at the Rogue

After listening to an advance of Zoroaster's forthcoming album, Matador, I felt fairly confident that the Atlanta power trio is going to make some serious waves in the indie metal world. After seeing them perform live last night, I'm all but convinced. This is a band that has the right sound at the right time to not only make the metal community take notice, but win over the oh-so-sought-after hipster demographic as well.

Zoroaster tore through a tight set of mostly new material, giving the small but appreciative weeknight crowd at the Rogue in Scottsdale more than their money's worth. Guitarist/vocalist Will Fiore is quickly becoming the doom metal answer to Billy Corgan, balancing monolithic, wall-of-sound riffs with a mix of effects-laden psychedelia and raw virtuosity. Bassist/vocalist Brent Anderson offset Fiore's harsh screams with almost monk-like chanting, giving the music a dark, sinister vibe, while drummer Dan Scanlan seemed to be having a blast with the much quicker pace of Zoroaster's new material.

Black Tusk, another Georgia three-piece, provided direct support for Zoroaster and put on a great show themselves. I hadn't had a chance to listen to them before last night's show, but after wrapping up a great set of original material with an old-school thrash/speed metal medley, I was inspired to buy one of their beer koozies from the merch table.

Dark Castle was the first of the three touring bands to take the stage. The Florida duo got off to a good start, but their set was marred by technical difficulties that seemed to sap the energy from both the crowd and the bands themselves.

I didn't get there in time to catch the first opener, but local one-man band Via Vengeance (drummer/guitarist/vocalist Shane Ocell) represented the Valley well with a half-hour set of proto-doom culled mostly from his forthcoming second album.

The crowd might have been small, but there were lots of familiar faces from the Valley metal scene in attendance, including members of Landmine Marathon, Greenhaven and Reverend Doom. After Zoroaster's set, it became obvious why so many musicians had shown up. Zoroaster is clearly a band's band. If that means they're destined to remain criminally under-appreciated like so many "band's bands" before them (Failure, Melvins), at least they can take solace in the admiration of their peers and perhaps even look forward to a lucrative reunion tour a couple decades down the road (Pixies anyone?).

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