One of my absolute favorite things about writing for this magazine is the exposure to so many new bands that I may have never listened to before. Seeing bands perform live as my first experience with them and hearing their music as they intend solidifies my association with them and it emphasizes how personal the experience is. An intimate setting such as Gas Monkey Bar and Grill highlighted the feeling of connection between band and audience, with members weaving through the crowd and intermingling as one, and communication from audience to performer much easier than larger, more displaced venues.
Our arrival was heralded by the introduction of Azreal, an Australian thrash/groove metal act that wasted no time getting the show going. Jumping from an intro right to the track “Cease to Be”, the 4 piece brought their aggression and speed right out of the gate, with heavy riffing backed by rather visceral and distorted solos, raspy voiced vocalization, and drums beaten beyond viciously. Being their first time in Texas, the elation was visible on their faces as they continued through the set without missing a step, thrashing about and headbanging to different grooves and triplets almost perfectly in time. “It’s a bit of a groovy one, and we know Texas likes to groove” the vocalist stated, as they led into another track that sounded like it spawned from the time of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. As the set progressed, they slayed through songs such as “So Long”, “Victim”, “S.T.F.”, and finished out with “The Wait”, throwing their heads about and moving around with excellence presence. I was able to speak shortly with their drummer Chris after their set, a very approachable, kind guy who reinforced just how grateful and excited they were to be in the US for this tour, and how excited he was to try new food and meet fans.
Cease To Be
Fall to Pieces
Canadian extreme metal outfit The Agonist caught me off guard with how well I enjoyed them. Dark and epic, the technically proficient while simultaneously atmospheric metal music interwoven with powerful clean and distorted female vocals took over the venue quite viciously. I found myself so much more invested in the music than I’d realized that I completely forgot we were outside and that there were cars passing by, with people going about their lives and completely oblivious of the separate realm myself and other concertgoers had fallen into. Having just visited Dallas on tour with the mighty FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, the drummer, Simon McKay, took to the stage as an ambient intro played over the PA bearing a shirt of their design, explosively leading straight into the first song.
Vocalist Vicky Psarakis took the stage so powerfully that she seemed to have the attention of every eye, whirling her long hair alongside the music as she delivered an exceptionally powerful clean and distorted vocal performance alongside Chris Kells on bass. Opening their set without a moment’s hesitation, a recurring theme thus far, they performed a multitude of songs, including one from their latest release,”Five”, titled “The Anchor and the Sail”. Balancing both the technicality of their music and the looming darkness of the progressions, the music itself emitted quite a feeling of foreboding at times, yet not in a sense unenjoyable, but just right to make it a fun listen and wild ride throughout. As cool breeze came through the crowd, the wind kept the lengthy locks of every member billowing, fitting the prominent moments and accentuating them that much more. Arpeggios, blast beats, fast riffing and unique vocalization, The Agonist continued through their set to perform a few more tracks, such as “A Necessary Evil”, dedicated to a particular political figure that they described “everyone hates”, and closed out their excellent and refreshing set with track “Gates of Horn and Ivory” to the cheers of many.
The Agonist Setlist
You’re Coming With Me
The Anchor and the Sail
A Necessary Evil
Gates of Horn and Ivory