Show Reviews


  • Kip Wingerschmidt

early man valient thorr

The ongoing revival of revivalist musical genres is often twofold for me — on one hand, I’m like, oh snap, this sounds like 1982 so much and that’s awesome (in the case of thrash metal), and on the other I can’t help but simultaneously recognize that’s it’s the freakin 21st Century and enough musicians/bands/genres have already made their mark stupendously so why are some folks hell-bent on recreating something that was done so well originally? (also in the case of thrash) Perhaps it’s one’s affinity with yesteryear itself (i.e. pure nostalgia for an era faded), maybe it’s the personal recollections of when said folks were all pimply and impressionable kids (as opposed to jaded grownup kids), or could it be that when certain people fell in love with music and/or a particular band/genre and they felt compelled to pick up an instrument and learn it well, their then-current context became the only style they felt/feel comfortable playing in?

I definitely go back and forth on the subject, as a great deal of throwback bands clearly play amazing f’n music, but if they aren’t doing anything (or are only doing very little) that is original in the artistic sense of the word, then unfortunately their music will inevitably become nothing but a novelty. Led Zeppelin fused together a few different genres and created a rock n’ roll sound that feels as fresh and raw today as it did way back when; I like to think that Tool and The Mars Volta have done the same thing in many ways (although hardly to the extent of the Zeppers), but judging from several of your comments posted yesterday as responses to Vince’s “who-do-ya-hate” experiment I know that many of you would completely disagree. We need more bands that push the envelope and strive to develop the next wave of a genre (or even subgenre).

You know this to be true.

So when I’m slapped in the face with bands that have co-opted a musical style that was so rooted in a past era, and seemingly want nothing more than to return to that era, I almost feel like I have to put on a different sort of thinking cap and use an alternative set of criteria in my assessment. If a given band hasn’t put in any effort to work at creating any kind of new sound, then how am I supposed to justify considering their music as much more than a tribute to “back then”? I’m hardly saying that current music needs to feel like it’s from the future — I just perpetually want to hear an evolution, forward steps in building upon the foundations of genres we grew up with. Carbon copies of yesterday’s music can be extremely cool and sound great and bring you back and blah blah blah, but ultimately won’t move the masses and don’t speak to this guy nearly as much as any artist or band attempting to do something different and new.


early manI was one of the first heralders of this band — first saw them when they were a frickin two-piece just starting out, and at the very least there was an energy in the playing and songwriting that almost transcended pigeonholing these guys as being simply a throwback band (although at that time the “genre-tribute” market wasn’t flooded in the same way as it has become in recent years so it wasn’t too too much of a consideration). Honestly never got too into Early Man’s recordings, but the live show blew my mind on a couple occasions, especially after they added a second guitar player. Their set last year at Europa even made my Top 7 Shows of ’07 List, but it was the legendary secret 3am CMJ show a couple years back that will live on in my mind as the band at its peak and the makings of something fresh in thrashy music.

However, during the band’s set last week, I couldn’t help but feel as though Early Man’s new focus is on nailing that 1982 sound and feel as closely as possible…and to their testament they basically hit it, which I’m sure any of the old school headbangers will appreciate to the nth degree…but that same replica-rawk goal made me think that Early Man may not be the leaders of the new thrash movement as I once expected, which brought a single tear to my eye right before I elbowed some bitch in the face. Yes, admittedly the live show has flashy old-school energy, swirling hair and hot key-bump guitar licks, and the meat-head moshpit crowd had no complaints…but people are talking behind closed doors, and they’re wondering…is all that enough?

I’m told that the band’s upcoming EP is a bit more “straight-ahead” sounding, as opposed to the more dynamic/musician-y songs and style they seemed to be cultivating, and while that idea does disappoint me somewhat, I am still holding out hope that the next full-length could be the future-forward thrash album we’ve all been waiting for. COME ON DUDES — I know you have it in you!! Bear in mind, I’m only being so hard on this band because I have had such high hopes for their future, and I fear that they may be taking unfortunate steps backward. Consider it constructive criticism for extremely talented metal musicians that ought have more to say than simply what’s already been said.

Any thrash-head should absolutely check Early Man out — no question. But as for me, they’re getting one more shot (following their upcoming EP), and it better be AWESOME.


valient thorrNow these motherfuckers have been around for a while, but this show was my first official taste of their spectacle. And when more than one beard onstage rivals that of Vince Neilstein’s own hairy tribute to Fidel, you know you’re in for something powerful.

Valient Thorr was truly a sight to behold — every member in the band seemed transplanted from a 70s cock-rock party, with at least four out of five of the guys wearing denim vests, and their infectious thunderous riffage was hard not to get into. The lead singer, Valient Himself as he’s called, stood in front of the other “Thorrs” and swaggered, spit, and yelped to no end. In between songs he ranted on about government conspiracies, alien abductions, and getting high (or at least trying to). And every single tirade ended with the same incendiary cry for support:


Dig this Wikipedia description of the band’s genesis:

The band landed their spaceship in North Carolina in 1957. They then left this time stream and came back to it (20 years later), having never returned to the same time stream more than once before. They hid a time machine near Virginia, and set off again to explore the past, and the effects of the Earth’s weather on the seeded Venusian babies, who would become the first “Earthlings”. They returned for a third time to this time stream in the year 2000. This time they became stranded on Earth because Walt Disney had stolen their time machine 21 years earlier. Also, according to this story, they are from Burlatia, which is located inside the planet Venus near the three ice rivers.

Sheesh…let it be forever known that any band that creates their own mythology gets points just for playing. YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT?!? I mean, come on–how often do you see an actual “show” put on by a band that is not afraid to freak the fuck out onstage and make people roll their eyes and pee their pants and belly laugh to no end, no matter the consequences…isn’t that rock n’ roll? Isn’t that art??? YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT?!?!?!?!?

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been a party to such madcap onstage shennanigans.

And the tunes are not half bad; every dude up there can really play his instrument and there are hooks aplenty (allbeit from 1974 in this case). For the spectacle alone, it’s worth your money the next time Valient Thorr lands their spaceship in your town. Take an extra couple whiskey shots for this one…


P.S. Honorable mention goes out to Monotonix, from Tel Aviv, Israel, who opened the show but we unfortunately missed due to my freakin Mom’s freakin bday dinner…I’m told that this band lights themselves/their equipment on fire; how could you not be down with that?


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