Yeah, I know, ANOTHER earthtone9 review. Well, I rate the band. Plus it's been a while since I did my best to kill myself by getting to as many gigs as I can around the country. So it feels time to try and get back into the swing of it. So there'll hopefully be a few reviews from this tour.
Unfortunately though I missed first band Linea 77, hopefully that'll have been corrected by the time the tour is completed.
Which meant that I got in just as earthtone9 were wandering on stage. It may not be common knowledge, but vocalist Karl has lost his voice for the two weeks prior to the start of the tour - not the ideal preparation, and last night in Bristol they apparently only managed to complete 4 songs. But still they go for it, and tonight, although not up to a full length set, they manage to get through Grind + Click, Off Kilter, two new tracks in the awesome Tat Twam Asi and Alhpa Hi, Withered and I Nagual Eye. Initially, as you come to expect, the crowd is standoffish. There's a line of people against the barrier, then a safety gap before everyone else huddles at the back "Is this some quaint Yorkshire tradition?" enquires Karl "to stand with your arms folded at the back.". Nah, it's a quaint British tradition. The only time during the set that it can be noticeable that there's been a problem with the throat is when Karl says "we're playing a short set tonight, I've got a throat infection", which is kind of a giveaway, and during the first run through of the chorus of Tat Twam, though it's recovered superbly for the remainder of the song. And what a song. Looking around it's quite noticeable that it's the song that seems to pique people's interests. A few more brave the middle ground and move towards the front, heads nod appreciatively given that probably none of them have heard it before (it was only released two days ago). Alpha Hi is also a standout, the almost spiritual chant that runs through it feeling as effective live as on the EP. The sound is a little dodgy in places, the bass reverberates a bit much, though that's probably not helped by me standing right next to the speaker - well I had to make sure I didn't get crushed in the mayhem centre stage! But the bass is also rounder and thicker these days, adding more depth to the overall sound. Though the lack of guitar scrape in Eye ... of course means any points gained are automatically lost.
And so Kill II This. Probably should indicate that they're not the main reason for being at this, and any subsequent dates on the tour. They put on a solid enough gig, there's a noticeable difference in musical styles, K2T going for a more precise sound, almost Fear Factory like in places. And the problem that I had tonight, well there were a few. The name FF crept up a few times too many for my liking, the drums were so crisp and perfect in sound, that it made me wonder if they are triggered like FF probably do. In fact the whole sound was very crisp and clear. The other thing was the imagery on the backdrop kind of reminded of My Ruin a lot as well - so there were too many other band references jumping around. Not helped by playing an instrumental mid-set that sounded like a jam of numerous Pantera and Seps riffs. Good riffs, no question, but padding in the set. Then there's the inclusion of what is described as "a new track off our album. But not our track. A somewhat controversial cover. This is by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and is called Two Tribes". Sorry, absolutely nothing controversial about it whatsoever. It's cack. This isn't aimed at K2T, but it's just that this whole cover thing is so, so, SO BORING. Controversial? Doing a cover of Two Tribes? Not controversial. Suspect yes. Highly suspect. I mean, why on the album? Why live? It's done in a "straight" manner, not a jokey kind of version. Why do the labels have so little confidence. Why do the bands get talked into it? I mean, you're going to really, really tell me, that these bands, many of whom are saying how much they LOVE heavy stuff, angst stuff, and all that, have cried, sweated, bled over their latest creation, which is highly personal and all that business, then really do want to include someone elses track on there. It means so much to them - hit's you here (stabs at the heart). It means as much as everything else that is on the album. It means as much to play live as all the other tracks? There's no other "heavy" song that means enough to cover? It just doesn't sit with me. And again, it's this link. What are the bands that have done similar - FF, My Ruin, Machine Head, Coal Chamber. Can you see the link? Can you see what I'm getting at? Picking a 80s style pop song isn't controversial. It just feels like a feeble attempt to gain some kind of attention (success??). Not having the courage to go against the grain, to perhaps stand up against the labels, that's what to me feels controversial. Or hows about looking at LARD. The title track of the new EP is basically Ministry plays AC/DC with Biafra mimicking Bon Scott. Sure, it's a lambast of those styles and attitude, BUT the point here is this, if bands want to do this sort of thing, how about starting a parody trend instead of a covers trend.
Anyway, this all means that mid-set onwards loses momentum for me. There's those couple of tracks, plus a bunch of new stuff. The older tracks, the more familiar tracks such as The Flood are dished out towards the set. So I start to lose interest. The new tracks, such as Trinity, God On Drugs all follow the blueprint set down by the Deviate album, and I'm sure after a few listens they will embed themselves, but at the moment the set feels lopsided, and that it's being padded a bit - which I'm pretty sure it doesn't need to. They've got enough songs to choose from. I'm not really sure that they should do an encore either for Crucified. Feels like it would just be smarter to do it all in one, drop those couple of filler songs, and just go for the short sharp shock.