By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
This entire summer has been one crazy rollercoaster ride with so many twists and turns. First of all, Matt Martinez and I covered our first rock festival, Danzig’s first annual Blackest of the Black Festival. Second, we had the opportunity to attend a major heavy metal tour at the Forum in Los Angeles, Calif. Third, we helped christen the new House of Blues of Anaheim with a show headlined by Korn. Almost every show we made an appearance at has not been a disappointment. Last year, I was recovering from heart failure, so that screwed up my summer of 2016 concert going plans. Now, I have seen almost every heavy metal band that has come through Southern California. However, it was not over for Matt and me, for we went back to the House of Blues to watch French metal gods Gojira. Promoting their Grammy nominated album, Magma, Gojira took time out their touring duties with Metallica to bring the city of Anaheim some metal mayhem, with the help of Pallbearer and Oni.
The Canadian progressive metal group Oni opened up in a blaze of glory. The name “Oni” comes from Japanese folklore, a shape shifting monster that goes around spreading terror and pain. It is a name that suits their style of progressive metal. The band has built a reputation as the go-to opening act for many legendary metal acts. They have such a complex melody to go along with the fierceness of Jake Oni’s vocals. He has a way of reaching deep down into his guts, and brings up sheer intense roars. Lead guitarist Brandon White is wicked fast, picking at the strings and creating some beautiful solos. What really astounded me about Oni was John DeAngelis, the group’s xylosynthist. He has a synthesizer that he plays like a xylophone, giving the music its mystic sound. No other band has achieved this move, so it is awesome to see such a spectacle. Recently, the group released their sophomore album, Ironshore, and the fans have been receiving it very well, especially the lead single, “The Only Cure.” As soon as that song went into effect, I started headbanging with authority. I can see why many big bands would call on these guys to open up for them. Oni did its job, and got the fans’ juices going.
Full Oni slideshow Below:
It is all doom and gloom now, with Pallbearer stepping onto the stage. The natives of Little Rock, Ark., bring their brand of metal to any stage, and it tones everything down. This band has been on a role lately, with the release of Heartless, their first album to chart in the Billboard 200. Frontman Brett Campbell has a smooth voice to go along with his ultra-hip guitar solos. Pallbearer only played four songs in total, but because of the length of each song, the duration of their set came just over 30 minutes. Their first number, “Thorns,” was a 5 minute rocker that was jovial and their most rocked out song of the night. While this group does seem out of place on this tour, due to the fact that the other acts are fast-paced, I felt the connection they made with the audience. With songs like “Dancing in Madness” and “Devoid of Redemption,” it made me close my eyes, and enjoy the sonic atmosphere they were creating with their music. Mark Lierly brought some technical prowess to his drumming, while bassist Joseph Rowland and rhythm guitarist Devin Holt hammered down on the heaviness of the harmony. Pallbearer is the masters of their own destiny, and they belong on this tour.
Full Pallbearer slideshow below:
Smoke cannons aimed to the sky, shooting out clouds of smoke, Gojira have made their presence known. Frontman/guitarist Joe Duplantier roars with perfection as he infects the crowd’s ears with “Only Pain.” Many would think they are a new band, now that their popularity has skyrocketed in the U.S.A., but they have been around for over 20 years and are still as vicious as before. The majority of the songs come from Magma, but they did throw in a good mix of stuff from old records. Fans started to create huge mosh pits, but I like to call them “circles of death,” or “cyclones of mayhem.” All of their songs, from “Silveria” to “Backbone” and “Flying Whale,” were met with rallying screams of excitement from their fans. Joe’s brother, drummer Mario Duplantier, wailed like a madman when he crashed and banged the hell of his kit. He even got on the guitar while Joe got on the drums for an impromptu jam session. Lead guitarist Christian Andreu was a major shredder, riff after riff of insanity. Bassist Jean-Michel Labadie broke the mold with his ridiculously creative bass notes. Gojira even did a three song encore after the fans begged for more because they had too much energy to burn through. After performing a brief medley of Metallica covers, they ended the night with a cover of Sepultura’s “Territory.” It is funny because Matt and I saw Sepultura at the House of Blues in May, and Gojira treated us to some more Sepultura, that night.
Full Gojira slideshow below:
It was another fun evening where I was banged up, feet exhausted, and hair all messed up. I saw Gojira before in Los Angeles with Mastodon 3 years ago, and I have to say this show was way better. That is because they headlined it. This summer has been filled with crazy-ass concerts, and I would have to put this show in my Top 10 of the year so far. Oni helped wake up the fans’ inner metal demons, while Pallbearer played the grim reaper with their sorrowful music. The House of Blues of Anaheim has become my favorite venue to see a show, and they have all turned out to be spectacular. Gojira promises to return soon, but not soon enough for me. To Gojira, Oni, and Pallbearer, I salute you. Horns up!!!