LIVE REVIEW : UNLEASH THE ARCHERS + DEAD ASYLUM
UNLEASH THE ARCHERS + DEAD ASYLUM + PYRAMIDION + THE MOUNTAIN MAN (Unleash The Archers + Dead Asylum album release show)
Rickshaw Theatre | Vancouver, BC
June 2, 2017
Vancouver's downtown east side; a colourful area of the city rich in history currently overshadowed by the large homeless population and the rampant drug problem that plagues its streets. Within the bowels of this neighbourhood with a bad reputation stands the iconic Rickshaw Theatre, a venue that has long been recognized as one of the best places for live music by the music lovers who call it their second home. The show held there on the 2nd of June was a perfect example as to why the Rickshaw has won the Whammy award for best local venue two years running. Hosting a lineup of local bands to celebrate the release of Dead Asylum and Unleash the Archers' new albums, local promotion company The Invisible Orange put on quite the show featuring The Mountain Man and Pyramidion as well as the two guests of honour. The Mountain Man was an entertaining death metal quintet with a maladjusted-acting singer at its helm. He ran his fingers through his hair, clutching at it, acting like he was straight out of his straight jacket while growling like a beast and added just the right amount of dramatic flare to ameliorate the overall performance of the already very good band. With no shortage of blast beats, colossal vocals, and rigorous riffs, The Mountain Man managed to thrill the growing audience and undoubtedly gained many fans to follow their hopefully long reign as kings of the death metal mountain. After being warmed up by a terrific band, the Vancouver audience was treated to another credit to our growing local music scene. Inspired by the myths and wonders of ancient Egypt, Pyramidion brought more of that relentless death metal Vancouverites know and love so much. A sort of Vancouver supergroup in their own right, Pyramidion contains music veterans from 5 different bands who all have advanced degrees in wailing hard. Performing their hearts outs for the local crowd, the guitars couldn’t have been heavier, the bass deeper, the vocals more aggressive, and the drumming more precise. Having a clear love for the art of being on stage, singer Kyle Scott covered every inch of that stage with an energetic act that tired me out just looking at him. The only sad part about Pyramidion’s performance was knowing that it would be the last time they would play a live show for a while, as announced on their Facebook page prior to last Friday’s show. Once the opening sets were well and truly over, the guests of honor were invited to take the stage. Dead Asylum, a death metal quartet who boasts a lineup of highly talented musicians took the Rickshaw by storm. Prior to Friday, I only knew Dead Asylum because of the stellar reputation of their drummer and all around heavy metal queen Sam Landa, but after seeing the show on Friday, I can understand what the hype around that band is about.
Thanks to my complete ignorance of the songs they played, the whole set seemed like new songs, but the headbanging spectators singing along with vocalist Mike Lister led me to believe that the band played more than songs off their new album Death Always Wins. Though I didn’t know them before that night, I sure regretted not getting acquainted with their music before. The frontman is a goofy man with more charisma than Ric Flair (though far less leathery) that made Dead Asylum’s entire set a hilarious treat. The most glorious song played by the four piece that night was “Inmate 666” off the band’s latest album. Sung with gusto by Lister and clearly amusing the rest of the band as well, the song was a hit and it has been stuck in my head since. A real earworm. The band bowed out after a long-but-still-not-long-enough set to make way for Vancouver’s prodigal children’s homecoming.
Unleash the Archers expectedly walked on stage to the perfect intro: the first song off their new album Apex. Though the full-length gift had only been out for hours, people in the first few rows were still singing along to “Awakening,” a true testament to the greatness of what was unleashed by the band on that day.
From the moment the lights bathed them in the glory they so rightfully deserve, the pride of the Vancouver metal scene electrified the spectators that were there to celebrate the incredible achievement that is the band’s fourth album. Playing the first song to perfection made the crowd’s rhapsody even more palpable, and by the time vocalist and Brittney Slayes opened her mouth to speak to the crowd, loud cheers and applause filled the room and drowned her out.
The 5 musicians must have been excellent students once upon a time as it seems they learnt a lot from galavanting on tour with world class musicians. Their live sound was more precise than I had ever heard them produce in front of a live audience. Slayes’ voice, always considered by myself and many others as one of the best in metal, was powerful and downright shiver-inducing, while the rest of the band played with a chemistry that I had yet to see from them. The genuine enjoyment that they displayed while playing was contagious, spreading to the enraptured crowd hanging to every note played by the band. The older songs like “Tonight We Ride” and “Test Your Metal” were expected to be played flawlessly by the young group, but “The Matriarch” and “Cleanse the Bloodlines,” two songs off the freshly-released album, were also played with the same level of excellence that has long been synonymous with Unleash the Archers’ live show.
With Slayes’ unparalleled voice and showmanship and the rest of the band playing with an unbridled passion more fiery than guitarist Andrew Kingsley’s hair, it was not surprising that the crowd demanded an encore. To every attendee’s delight, the quintet obliged before bowing out for the night. The crowd leaving the Rickshaw Theatre that night was ecstatic. Four bands braved hundreds of ravenous metal fans to show what they were made of and four bands delivered memorable performances to make the entire Vancouver metal scene beam with pride.
Photography courtesy of Goblin Photography