In all my years going to shows, I’ve never seen a band “bottom out” the way Inanimate Existence did last night at Stamps. But don’t let my initial statement fool you. This story doesn’t end in failure and shame. It actually ends with a joyous victory and a very satisfying experience had by yours truly.
Last night, Inanimate Existence came to town with The Last of Lucy and Fields of Elysium. There wasn’t much hope for this show as far as turnout goes. The promotion could’ve been better, but it was there nonetheless and naturally, Vick and I did our part. Whenever an extreme metal show comes through town that we don’t see doing well, we strive to make the effort to get more bodies in the door. The last thing we want is great bands coming through Buffalo and leaving with a bad taste in their mouths.
Just before Fields of Elysium took the stage, we were fortunate enough to bear witness to Protopilot for the first time. They’re a local instrumental prog band who are flying a little too far under the radar for our liking. These guys are very entertaining. They combine shades of Dream Theater, Zero Hour and locally speaking: Divinex and WEAPONEX. If you’re into progressive rock/metal with impressive leads, cool riffs, a highly dynamic rhythm section and subtle electronica passages, you’ll definitely want to check these guys out. They only have 63 likes on Facebook, so do them a favor and give them a boost. They deserve it.
Up next, Fields of Elysium blew my mind. These guys sound nothing like they look if that makes any sense. At first glance, having never heard a song before, I was expecting brutal, fast tech death like Archspire for example. Instead, what I got was a multi-dimensional, versatile, technically savvy, yet definitively hook inspired ear-gasm. Fields of Elysium cast shades of Between the Buried and Me, Beyond Creation, The Mars Volta and Black Crown Initiate all in one. The vocals are incredibly diverse just on their own. The harsh vocals and clean vocals coming from all three string players is top notch. The string play is superb, especially the bass. The frontman uses a monstrous 7-string bass and utilizes it to its full potential while expertly and consistently delivering his powerful vocals. This band was truly special and was by far my favorite band of the night, since I’m more into the melodic spectrum of metal. It’s also worth mentioning that their guitarist/vocalist Quanah Lee manufactures his own guitars, including those played by the band. His company is called Quantars and they make some interesting stuff for guitarists to put it mildly, not just limited to guitars. Check them out.
The Last of Lucy came on next and just destroyed the place. I loved this band’s stage presence, especially that of the bassist. These guys go absolutely ballistic during their erratic parts and it’s needed in tech death. Too many tech death guitar players have to focus on their instruments the whole time, taking away from the performance, but not TLOL. They’ve mastered the art of brutal technical death metal with sporadic jazz-like sections, working in perfect harmony with a stage presence that is just as devastating. In a crowd of 15-20 people, it felt like they were playing in front of 20k. For those unfamiliar with the band, they most closely sound like BTBAM on their self titled debut, or the heavier, more chaotic material of Origin or Beyond Creation.
Finally, Inanimate Existence came up to close out the night, but instead of having a textbook set (which started masterfully, by the way), their laptop took a complete shit, depriving them of (presumably) their click track and backing tracks. They were only a 3-piece last night, so at least one full set of guitars was meant to be backtracked for their set, in addition to whatever samples they had intended to use for melodies/ambient passages, etc. This happened during either the 2nd or 3rd song, which was the title track of their new album, Underneath a Melting Sky. They attempted to restart the song a handful of times, but the laptop just kept pooping all over their efforts. This was when things got awkward. The bassist (who is simply amazing) started strutting around in his Cognitive tank top (also amazing), telling jokes and running off sweet bass licks to pass the time. This was right around the time I went back to the bar to get a beer. I sat down next to the bassist from TLOL, and he said exactly what I was thinking. He started calling, “RAW DOG IT! RAW DOG IT!” Thankfully, they decided to do just that. IE, in an effort to give the crowd some semblance of a full set, finished things out without the laptop. This limited them to certain songs, but honestly, as a raw 3-piece, they fucking killed it. I loved the last 3-4 songs they played. It reminded me of a time before every band started incorporating backing tracks into their sets. Granted, these things have their place and they are fucking cool. I mean, I’ve listened to most of IE’s new album by now, so I completely understand the need to convey things the way they’re meant to be heard. But in all seriousness, these guys would’ve pulled me in as a raw 3-piece had I never heard them before. I would’ve looked them up in a heartbeat based on that alone. It reminded me of seeing Psyopus at Broadway Joe’s for the first time and thinking, “What the fuck? Are you kidding me? This is amazing even though it’s drilling holes into my brain!”
So, there you have it. If you thought I was going to shit on Inanimate Existence, you were dead wrong. They turned things around in a heartbeat and made me a fan. Download their album, Underneath a Melting Sky and you’ll hear what I mean.