Megadeth / Earthtone9
Nottingham Rock City - September 8 1999
Hey, how you doing. Or hey, how ya doing. Or hey, wassup. Depending on which part of the world you're from. Or pretending to be from. Strap yerselves on. No sorry, I didn't mean that, it's way tooooo suspect. Strap yerselves in, this one is going to be a biggie. Trust me, I just hope I can remember everything I want to write.
First up is a mini rant. I dunno, is it just me, or when ever you've gone into a club have you ever seen a sign the following sign. Not the "the management reserves the right to refuse admission." Or, "Licensed to serve alcohol". I'm on about the one that says, "the management reserves the right to up the price of alcohol and rip off the punters in a right royal manner by charging 3 quid for a bottle of Newcastle Brown instead of the usual 2quid when a big name band is playing." Not that I would suggest that Rock City are in it for themselves as opposed to the rock. Oooo no, not me. I value my legs.
And as Chromedome 5 take the stage, I start to reminisce about the gig Earthtone9 played downstairs at the Disco II last year. Afterwards I sat on the step towards the back of the main dancehall upstairs talking to vocalist Karl. Conversation turned towards the main stage in front of us. I think I was on one of my familiar "UK bands should be playing there" rants. "What would you do if you played there?" I asked. "Shit myself" he replied. And for a man who therefore is shitting himself, he's doing it bloody impressively at the moment. Or maybe not. Maybe the new haircuts are a cover.
Inspite of the fact that Karl looks like the singer from Psycore (not a good thing), Simon the drummer is a dead ringer for Scott Ian from Anthrax, Oz looks like someone from a Charlie Chan film, Graeme finally doesn't look like Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap, and Jo I'm still working on. Earthtone 9 are fucking immense. They were built for this. And more.
I think one of the magazines in a review of their current album said
something along the lines of "if there's any justice in this world,
Earthtone9 will soon be headlining every festival this side of Dynamo". Damn right. As they take the stage, Karl utters the words "what do you mean I don't believe in God, I talk to him every day". Damn right. Because God has seen sense and decreed that Earthtone 9 are on the main stage in Rock City. Get used to it. Unless they sell out to the States, it's got to be a regular thing in the future. They then tear into Serpentine Placement from the new album. Despite the fact that they are lined up in front of the arsenal of Megadeth equipment, they seize the chance by the scruff of the neck. Some support bands are just that. Support. They look timid. They look scared. Place them in front of "legends" and you can see the piss and shit running down their legs. Not Earthtone 9. Tonight they own the place. They're up for it. It's a simple performance. But full of envegy, conviction, spirit.
Ultimately, it turns out to be everything Megadeth aren't. Sand is up, it crushes. I'm down the front, an unusual thing for me, but special occcasions warrant special deeds. Well apart from haircuts.
For the next 20 minutes they power through a selection from the two albums. I negual eye features a fucked up guitar scrape from the Oz. Ya git. He knows. Withered crushes. "The security are feeling overworked, please take a step back" says the Psycore singer. I take a look around. Tonight is utterly hypnotising. I hope this is what the rest of the crowd are feeling, otherwise you should hang your heads in shame at the sheer lack of response. Then just hang youself. They're attacking. They're uniform in their appearance. Tonight it's Earth against the world. The world never stood a fucking chance. If you like what the likes of Will Haven are doing, then you owe it to yourself to find out about Earthtone 9. Tonight they are quite possibly the finest hardcore metal crossover band in the world. And Tool had better watch out if they don't put something out soon.
In some ways it's like Megadeth all those years back. The music takes some work for your senses to adjust to it. They're pushing the edge with it all at the moment. And many people are finding it hard to adjust to and accept the new variations. Much like many "classic" metal fans found it hard to adjust and accept thrash. And now look at them.
But for all that, it's not perfect. No, I'll tell you why. You see, for it to become perfect, Earthtone9 need to be headlining places like this. Already they have the swagger about them. I've sat and tried to figure out what it is that sets a band apart, at least in my own mind. And I still don't know. It's just one of those "something" things. But already I can see in my mind the band playing hour long sets. Being able to mix into the set those more melodic epics that don't currently get played such O...O...O... and Ever You Say, just setting an ebb and flow to everything. The music does the talking. I tend to like bands that show energy on stage by means of physical movement, talk to the crowd. To pull off a captivating performance
in my eyes without the need to hurl yourself everywhere takes something special. Earthtone9 have it. Some bands obviously lend themselves to props, mechanical monsters and the likes. Some to the stage diving and crowd participation through that means. Others adopt the "don't take your eyes of the floor" tact. Earthtone9, well when I close my eyes I see an exotic lighting rig, projections. It's an accompaniment to the music, creating something that attacks all the senses. Well, maybe apart from smell. It's just an hypnotic sound and performance that they create. It's what they are made for. You can tell. Just take a look at the minimalist presentation of the CDs. You know that they could create something truly spellbinding. You may not have any idea what I'm on about, but I do, and trust me, it's one
of the best shows I've ever seen.
It seemed to go over most peoples heads. But I remain confident.
Pitchshifter had to work their way up. Me, I was fucking worried tonight as they walked on. And what right have I got to be? None. But I was also proud. And as each song pounded their way out, I was smiling a huge fuck off grin. Well huge grin for me at least. Earthtone 9 for me have the potential to be the most successful of the current "extreme" bands. Remember, Megadeth used to be extreme.
Tonight E9 took the crown and posed that Mustaine sneer right back in his face.
Oh yeah, and Megadeth were here.
Now I know most people were here for them. Hell you can tell that by the audience response. Whereas for Earthtone9 it was flat, for Megadeth it's exuberant. But how much is justified? Well, that depends on you doesn't it. They start up with Prince Of Darkness. I don't know it cos I've not listened to the band since Countdown .... But in Kerrang! they explain that they will start with it and play one more song from the new album. Oh yeah baby, cutting edge. It has the riff. It also has a taped intro and a techno style middle section. Hmmm. It exists. From there on in, it's basically a selection of choice hits. Holy Wars is up next. Cool. Technical metal. That riff. And they do the middle bit. You know. The acousticy middle east section. Marty, who is looking very Kirk Hammett with his new haircut, does the break. The hand raises to the air. Is it adulation seeking or relief at having pulled off the break? Doesn't matter does it? It's still stupid. It's arena. It's what Megadeth are after. But in the UK at leat, they ain't going to get there. Not now. Darkest Hour sees the new drummer (sorry, don't know the name, just know that he was in Y&T) showing off. When it was released it was a "head's down and fuck you". Now it's "wassup up and lick our ass". That's the whole thing that surrounds the performance. I mean,
how many people 10 years ago expected to see Mustaine with an acoustic guitar on stage? Sure, it's "evolution". Yeah right. It would be evolution if it wasn't for the fact they did 4 albums without this "evolution". Then metal died. And suddenly all these bands "evolve". Bollocks. Smells dodgy? Yeah. Smells like teen spirit.
But I can't really fault it. They are GREAT songs. There's no doubt about it. The like of Peace Sells just crushes. Symphony of Destruction has a mass singalong. Sweating Bullets is cool, well, without the "please scream for me" sort of thing. But it's the songs that are great. Not the performance. The songs stand the test of time. Bands degrade. There are times, like in A Toute Le Monde where I think MAIDEN with the guitar melodies being thrown out. I wonder if Mustaine will do "sing for me" in French tomorrow?
See, 10 years ago, when Megadeth were apparently being a shite support band at Hammersmith Odeon, Maiden were who they were trying to eradicate. Never forget, that for whatever Mustaine says about tonight, it's ultimately only a warm up. Tomorrow they start the European support slot with Maiden in France. A band who should frankly wipe the floor with them. And just about most bands around today. And I wonder if Megadeth will have agreed to a 25 minute support slot like Earthtone9 were given today? Hmmm. One rule for one, one for another methinks. If Megadeth can play a longer support slot with a band that plays longer headline sets than they do, then why can't Megadeths support bands get a decent length set?
They end with Peace Sells. I find Mustaine singing "what do you mean I don't pay my bills, why do you think I'm broke" these days to be a bit, well, it's not the same is it. They depart. They return. "I was really impressed with your singing earlier" says Mustaine. Anarchy in the UK starts. He repeats the statement as they break into the track. Well sorry, but "ANARCHY IN THE UK" is not, and has never been about a mass singalong. It's a great song yes but its not about this. It's a gripe I've had with the band for a few tours now. See, there was a time I looked forward to seeing them with a sense of excitement. Trepadation. Tonight, Earthtone9 rendered that useless for once and for all. They were good, but Earthtone9, to borrow a title from the
other new Megadeth song, and one that I've used way too many times in this review, "crushed em". They return to finish things up with Paranoid. A great song. A good band. Another cover. But that's not enough.
You see tonight it was like this, Planet Earth crushed Planet Mustaine out of sight.
And if you all ask kindly enough, I may, just may, let you in on what happened at Rock City and the sort of treatment they maybe afford support bands. But that's down to you.