The Sumerian Records 10 Year Tour rolled into the Granada Theater in Lawrence, Kansas on St. Patrick’s Day, and brought five of the label’s heavy hitters to the stage.
Unfortunately, the venue started the show early (seriously, venues, this is bullshit and it needs to stop happening; if you set a time and advertise it, adhere to it), so I was unable to catch Bad Omens and only saw a couple songs from Erra. I can confidently say, though, that Erra are not suffering from the departure of screamer Ian Eubanks. New frontman JT Cavey is a monster on stage, tearing effortlessly through both a brand new song and fan-favorite “Seven,” and his roars are stronger and far more distinct than either of his predecessors. If you’ll excuse the pun, the Cavey years may be Erra‘s best era.
Next up was After The Burial. Down to a 4-piece after the death of founding member Justin Lowe, this is their first major tour behind the new album, Dig Deep. They sound heavier than ever, and the new songs come across phenomenal live. The set highlight was “Aspiration” off 2008’s Rareform, which was dedicated to Justin and came across as a very emotional tribute.
The following act threw a bit of a curveball into things. Veil of Maya‘s vocalist, Lukas Magyar, was too sick to perform, but the rest of the band played a full instrumental set. Removing the guttural growls from these songs changes the feel of them completely. As strange as the situation was, and as disappointed as some fans had to be, seeing such a unique performance was actually the highlight of the evening. Veil of Maya are undeniably heavy, but stripping back the vocals allowed some of the more complex guitar melodies that often get buried in the thunder to shine through, and even the bass came across crisp and sharp. It was still something you could mosh to, but it was also very pretty. I know that isn’t a term often used to favorably describe a metal band, but there it is.
Headliner Born of Osiris has been on my bucket list for a while, and they bring a predictably brutal, but also predictable performance to the stage. The rhythms were on-point, the energy was there, the crowd was moving, but aside from keyboardist/backup vocalist Joe Buras, who would sprint from end to end on stage, dive into the crowd, and make for some incredible moments sharing vocal duty with frontman Ronnie Canizaro, the band seemed to be on autopilot (especially Canizaro, who was often up on the risers as close as he could get to the audience, but rarely seemed to be looking at the crowd). The performance was good, but it didn’t feel organic at all, and became much less exciting as Joe Buras started to wear out near the end of the set.
The evening succeeded as a showcase of Sumerian‘s best bands, and the variety within their label, as each band brought a very distinct brand of heavy music to the table. Had I seen opener Bad Omens this would likely be even more true, as they have far more of a punk element to their heavy metal, similar to Cancerbats or Every Time I Die. Some servings were tastier than others, but the label is certainly making a strong case for being the go-to home for the heavier side of metalcore.