The INDIEMERCH TOUR 2015 Sets Up Shop in Lawrence, Kansas
The Granada Theater – Lawrence, KS – 29 November 2015
Words and photos by Thomas Woroniak
It’s Sunday night and there’s a discernible buzz in the air at the Granada Theater as the Indiemerch 2015 Tour rolls into Lawrence, Kansas, and a crowd of metalheads has amassed in anticipation for an evening of diverse performances by some killer bands from the realm of extreme heavy music. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the second leg of the Indiemerch Tour features headliners The Black Dahlia Murder along with support from Goatwhore, Iron Reagan, Entheos and Artificial Brain.
New York death metallers Artificial Brain kick things off with a set of bludgeoning, dark death metal. Frontman Will Smith delivers some insanely deep death growls, as the rest of the band unleashes a full-blown aural assault from their most recent release, Labyrinth Constellation, featuring a unique blend of calculated chaos, seamless groove breakdowns, and a technical mastery that sets this band apart in the realm of rising U.S. death metal acts.
Among the highlights of tonight’s show, tech death metal newcomers Entheos take the energy up a level with a set of dizzying chops from their recent debut EP Primal, which you can check out on their Bandcamp page. The female-fronted quartet features vocalist Chaney Crabb, ex-Animals As Leaders drummer Navene Koperweis, ex-The Faceless bassist Evan Brewer, and A Loathing Requiem mastermind Malcolm Pugh on guitar. Frontwoman Chaney Crabb’s guttural growling on songs like “Chemical Flashbacks” and title track “Primal” is as menacing and powerful as any vocalist on the bill this evening. The technical prowess of Koperweis, Brewer, and Pugh is legendary on “Chemical Flashbacks” and “Form and Void.” If the chance arises, check this band out. You won’t be disappointed.
When Virginia’s Crossover/Hardcore masterminds Iron Reagan hit the stage the mayhem ensues as frontman Tony Foresta works the crowd into a sweaty frenzy. The relatively dormant audience snaps into action as an undulating sea of moshing madness erupts in front of the stage. Iron Reagan deliver a punishing, whiplash-inducing set of songs that combine an intriguing mix of thrash metal and hardcore punk, filled with concrete-splitting rhythms and neck-snapping beats. Songs like “I Won’t Go” and crowd favorite “Miserable Failure” resonate with kinetic energy and keep the crowd moving to the end.
After a brief pause for set changes and cigarette breaks, New Orleans’ extreme metal juggernaut Goatwhore execute a crushing avalanche of megalithic power riffs and pounding, groove-filled percussion during their set which includes several tracks off the 2014 full-length, Constricting Rage of the Merciless. Frontman Louis Benjamin Falgoust II resonates a snarling malevolence as he paces the stage like a caged animal during the double-kick assault of “Reanimated Sacrifice.” Drummer Zack Simmons goes full throttle with alternating blastbeats and thrash gallops on “Externalize This Hidden Savagery.” Closing the set with the classic thrasher “Baring Teeth for Revolt,” guitarist Sammy Duet shreds through to the end, leaving the crowd primed for the headlining act to follow.
With a new release under their belt in 2015, Michigan’s The Black Dahlia Murder unleash their technically precise and uncompromising style of melodic death metal on the eager Kansas audience with a blistering set that features some choice cuts off of their seventh studio album, Abysmal. After the brief string section introduction, the band launches into the flawless execution on opener “Receipt,” frontman Trevor Strnad alternates between his two signature growling styles. Despite his menacing and kinetic presence on stage, Strnad is quick to smile between songs as he conducts the crowd to get up and move. Drummer Alan Cassidy keeps a breakneck pace on “Threat Level No. 3,” while “Vlad, Son of the Dragon” showcases some intricate fretboard gymnastics from guitarists Ryan Knight and Brian Eschbach. TBDM’s extended set pulled no punches and left the crowd wanting more. Check this tour out if you have the chance! [separator style=”line” /]