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METAL AS ART TOUR STORMS A STORMY LOS ANGELES: HYPNO5E, REVOCATION AND THE BINARY CODE, JANUARY 21st, 2010

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revocation live

“Welcome to the Band Explodo Tour 2010” announced guitarist David Davidson after two bouts of boner-inducing death/thrash mayhem from his band Revocation. Maybe that title didn’t carry the gravitas of the tour’s actual name, “Metal As Art,” but it was apt. Revocation’s van had broken down in Arizona earlier in the day, requiring a hasty switch into a rented minivan and the borrowing of much equipment; just a couple days into the month-long string of dates, their tourmates The Binary Code had totaled their own van. This particular gig had hot-potatoed around three other Los Angeles venues before finally resting at grindcore/metal haven The Blvd., and if that weren’t reason enough for audience members to give up, L.A. was in the midst of its worst rainstorm in years.

But metal’s for survivalists. Surely each of the three bands on the tour – rounded out by French experi-metallers Hypno5e – long ago accepted that suffering for one’s art is a prerequisite of induction into heavy metal’s spiny embrace. Despite the terrible vehicle karma all three acts launched themselves into their performances like they were playing for their room and board. Which they kinda were, considering that both The Binary Code and Revocation both asked the audience if they could offer a place to sleep that night.

The slight muddiness of the sound during The Binary Code’s set added a warmth that their surprisingly creative 2009 debut album, Suspension of Disbelief, lacked. You might not have predicted the band’s organic presence from the album’s mechano-destructo grooves, but there they were, turning those machine pummels into harsh tickles, infusing the weedly with an ever-present churn. These dudes physicalized their vise-tight chops, never letting a sweep-picked arpeggio overtake their overall dirty sound. The Binary Code totally earned the one dude that was moshing by himself the whole set.

In contrast, Revocation wore their shreddingness with pride. While far from simple, the Boston band’s music addressed two far more primal urges than their headier tourmates: the need to rock the fuck out and the need to bask in the glory of our superiors. So look. There’s not a single less-than-stellar musician in Revocation. Three dudes in the band (including a tour-only second guitarist) scream/growl. It takes a heavy metal village to hold down such catchily brutal (and brutally catchy) songs as tight as they had ‘em. But it’s clear that Davidson is the star here. Homie is the confident lead man that there are so few of in underground metal, volleying from nipple-hardening death riffs into the sexiest, most appealingly constructed guitar solos I’ve heard since Dimebag kicked it. Davidson obligingly walked forward as he soloed, taking advantage of his wireless guitar by strolling through the crowd and shredding amongst us. Revocation’s live show completely smoked the studio versions on the awesome Existence is Futile (2009) and the even awesomer, self-released Empire of the Obscene (2008). The multiple invisible oranges held aloft during the set suggested that the rest of the audience acknowledged it, too. That one moshing dude from the Binary Code set even started a wrestling match towards the end, testimony to Revocation’s sweet aural ambrosia.

If one band on the bill was aware of the name of this tour, it was France’s Hypno5e. Smiles were nowhere to be found. Interaction with the audience was minimal, as were live vocals. The band members marauded through the audience without relating to it. It was a strange metaphor for Hypno5e’s music, a desultory mix of dialogue samples, spacey interludes and disconnected heaviness. Like their debut Des Deux L’une Est L’autre, Hypno5e’s live show felt more like a heavy metal soundtrack than a set of songs. That wasn’t altogether unappealing, just a bit of a letdown after Revocation’s populist directness.

In between sets, the moshing dude sat at the bar. “Sorry for knocking into you earlier” he said, clutching three unopened Pabst tallboys to his chest. “It’s alright man, sometimes you gotta mosh” I replied. I had no idea who he assumed was going to drink all those tallboys – the dude hadn’t made many friends that night, throwing himself all over the place like a human pinball. He nodded his head in agreement. “Yeah, man. You gotta mosh.” That was the last time I saw him. Was he a casualty of war, or a guardian angel, keeping the spirit of metal alive? Either way, the Metal as Art Tour brought him out. And where he goes, so should you.

-SR

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