With the sudden resurgence of metal over the past few years, an onslaught of live shows has descended upon the Ann Arbor area, three of which hit Metro-Detroit this weekend. The three tours totaled enough screams to make your head bleed from the ears and more tattoos than Bike Week in Daytona. Whether it’s the incendiary guitar solos of Unearth, the emotion-packed scream of The Used or the masked mayhem of Slipknot, this weekend had a little something for each metal niche.
Thursday brought the rising metalcore quintets Atreyu and Unearth to Pontiac’s Clutch Cargos. Acrobatic guitarists and pinch harmonics filled the air of the club as the crowd moshed to the finger-tapping guitar solos of up-and-coming guitar hero, Unearth’s Buz McGrath. Equally as stunning was Ken Susi, who leaped through the air flinging his guitar like a hula hoop.
Opening with “Bleeding Mascara,” Atreyu came out with guitar riffs that would make Metallica blush. Songs like “The Remembrance Ballad” proved that even ink-covered metalheads have a soft side.
The Taste of Chaos Tour with The Used, My Chemical Romance, Killswitch Engage and a slew of others rolled into Cobo Arena Friday night.
My Chemical Romance, fronted by the boisterous Gerard Way. Strutting on stage with fake cuts scarring his face, Way seemed to be ushering in another make-up infused pop massacre, but creative chord progressions and catchy riffs filled Romance’s set with an unexpected kinetic appeal.
The Used headlined the show, mixing songs from their latest release In Love and Death with older songs like “The Taste of Ink,” during their hour-plus set and concluding with a joint performance with My Chemical Romance.
Slipknot brought the weekend of metal to a close at the heaviest of the three shows. Shadows Fall and Lamb of God opened with similar sounds, but their live sets were surprisingly divergent. Shadows Fall’s set was near album-quality sound, but with the exception of vocalist Brain Fair flailing dreadlocks, they lacked any real stage flair. Lamb of God’s sound came out poorly mixed, but their maniacal demeanor evened out the unflattering live sound.
Closing out the performance was the disguise-laden, eight-member Slipknot. Easily the most visually appealing performance, the masked men theatrically bounced around as their percussion sets rose on power-lifts broadening the view of the mayhem. Spotlights, projection screens and strobe lights added to the aesthetic draw, but images shown on the screens seemed to hinder and distract from their performance instead of add to it.
Already missing one of their three percussionists due to a family emergency, it seemed both fateful and surreal, when Chris Fehn broke his leg jumping off the drum platform. Returning a song later, he battled through the pain, banging his modified keg drum while hobbling on crutches. Despite what seemed like eminent signs for a terrible show, the band raged on through a 90-minute set packed with songs spanning its nearly decade-long career.
With metal on the rise and new genre off-shoots springing up weekly, metal shows are pouring into Motown. From those stuck in an ’80s lead guitar filled world, to those seeking an emotionally infused ballad fest, there is a show for everyone. Bands pour in, and sound decibels hit their peaks as bands send out the common message, let eardrums ring.