Volume: Review – The Metalliance Tour – South Side Music Hall, Dallas, TX – 03/17/11
Two things to know about The Metalliance Tour: 1) Bring earplugs, the volume will destroy you, and 2) be very sure you pay attention to posted set times at all times. They are serious about getting bands on and off and so forth. Due to poor time management on my part, I succeeded in missing one of the bands I was looking forward to seeing last night. I thought surely they aren’t already finished, but alas, they were.
One of this years biggest metal tours kicked off in Dallas last night, as 7 acts from all different sectors of the genre came together for one bone-crushing night. And it was indeed bone-crushing. Unbeknownst to me, there was even an 8th band added last night, locals Turbid North, whom I narrowly missed while getting into the venue. So be sure to get there a little extra early in case you might have some more bonus metal coming your way.
Atlas Moth kicked the main part of the show off with their mixed bag of psychedelic influenced metal. Not a bad way to start the night off, mind you. This was followed by Rhode Island’s Howl, whom I was looking forward to seeing. I rather like their record, Full Of Hell, as any fan of early Mastodon should, and they delivered during their concise set.
This is where I fouled. Since it was promising to be a very long evening, my Birth School Metal Death counterpart and I decided to grab a quick bit in the complex’s restaurant. We could grab a quick bite and return in time for the majority of Red Fang. Was I ever wrong. Gone less than 40 minutes, the crew had broken down Howl, setup Red Fang, and they had played their entire set by the time we returned. Wow. These guys aren’t fooling around. I’d love to tell you this is my newest favorite live band ever – but unfortunately I cannot.
Following Red Fang was Kylesa. If I had two main reasons for this show, this would be the first. I’ve been digging on this band for quite some time now, and this was the first time I had gotten a chance to see them. Dual drummers, keys, a woman shredding guitar like I’ve seen no other woman shred since Nashville Pussy’s Ruyter Suys, more toms and a friggin’ THERAMIN(!) easily made Kylesa stand out among the other acts. They could have played 3 sets and I would have been thrilled. Their stoner/psych/sludge/crust metal hybrid was exactly what this show needed, and directly in the place it needed it. They were a definite highlight of the evening. DO NOT GO EAT WHEN THEY COME ON. Just a suggestion.
In all the years I have been attending shows, I have never run into Crowbar. The LA crew has played Dallas so many times I can’t even count. I’ve never been the biggest fan, but I was intrigued on how they’ve stuck around so long, and here was my chance. 45 minutes with them live and loud should tell me all I needed to know. My assessment: good, solid, heavy band with a clear-cut Dallas fan base. I would definitely go see them again.
Bringing us to what in my mind was the evening’s real headliner and second main reason for wanting to see this show – Saint Vitus. Playing these parts for the first time since 1987, the Wino led version of the band brought a no-nonsense approach to their show. If this tour doesn’t gain them new fans after such a long and storied career, I don’t know what will. 45 minutes of sheer stoner/doom metal power is bound to make a believer of anyone, and I am even more sold on them then before last night. This was the absolute delight of the evening, that is if doom metal can delight ones soul. I plead with you all, see Saint Vitus. If there is one reason to see this show, this Los Angeles quartet is it. Hands down.
After 7 brutal metal bands, we come to the finale. Helmet. This is the band I am most familiar with on this tour. I must have seen them at least 5 times during the first half of the 90’s – Meantime is one of my favorite records from that timeframe and considered the first real post-grunge classic. Therefore, I have never thought of them as a metal band. Ever. That moniker seems unfounded a bit, as they sounded like no one at the time, although I had people telling me they were a Pantera rip-off. Which, being intimate with both acts and their backgrounds, I always answered with a resounding “NO.”. When I heard they were taking the place of High On Fire, I felt the same thing – not a metal band. Heavy, but not metal.
Playing the entirety of that 1992 classic Meantime, Helmet allowed those of us in the crowd who loved that record to relive some fun times. The 90’s were fun, and much like the 80’s, the music of the time served as a soundtrack to the entire decade. Opening with Betty’s “Milquetoast” and 2 other newer tracks, the all too familiar rumble of “In The Meantime” violently shook the walls of South Side Music Hall. There are opening songs, and then there are the ones that just stood their ground, making themselves known. This is the latter. “In The Meantime” served as a statement as if to say “We’re Helmet, deal with us”, plowing through the entire album before relenting. Finishing their night off with another track from 1994’s Betty, “Wilma’s Rainbow” and Judgment Night’s “Just Another Victim”, Page Hamilton and crew proved themselves as worthy of headlining this tour.
Occasionally metal fans can be rigid in their ways. No new ideas, no new sounds, no new genres. A lot of them will only go see “their” band and split. We’re all guilty of doing this from time to time. But I implore you, if you go to this tour, stick around and see what some of the elder statesmen have to offer. You just might get turned on to something completely new to your tastes and find something you didn’t even know you wanted to find. And that’s a good thing.