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REBELS WITH A CLUE!
By Tom Pharo
Two words: Radio fuckin' Rebellion!Ã‚Â In the event that you have been living in a cave, or you are just musically retarded, I will fill you in on what you've been depriving yourself of: real music by actual talented musicians.Ã‚Â Probably the single greatest lineup of any metal tour to date, Radio Rebellion brings grind, artcore, post hardcore and death metal straight to your face, rocks your fuckin' socks so hard they fly off (I went prepared, I didn't wear any), then stomps out your flaming skull with a pair of dirty Chucks.Ã‚Â And you couldn't have wished for anything better.
Originally set to headline was the laughable screamo outfit Silverstein, but after they couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do it, Norma Jean were asked.Ã‚Â They agreed, but not without a stipulation: The Jean gets to choose the opening acts.Ã‚Â Radio Rebellion's inaugural lineup just got a whole lot heavier.Ã‚Â With the unstoppable juggernaut of southern death rock that is Norma Jean now headlining, and support from Between the Buried and Me, art-metal dynamos Fear Before the March of Flames, and metalcore's latest firestarters Misery Signals, this diverse tour has it all.
"We wanted to pick bands that we liked but also that we thought deserved the attention," Dan Davison (drummer) from NJ told me.Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“This tour is unique for us because it's our first headlining tour in over 2 years and our first of this caliber, and we wanted to share it with them."Ã‚Â And who could blame them?Ã‚Â When it comes to metal bands that are doinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ it, doinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ it, and doinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ it well right now, it doesn't get better than NJ's openers.
Misery Signals blindsided metal in 2004 with their strong debut, Of Malice and the Magnum Heart.Ã‚Â They triumphantly return this year with more of their signature melodic metal on their latest release Mirrors.Ã‚Â Buzz surrounding their energetic live performances has made them one to watch for.
Fear Before the March of Flames artistically pissed into the wind (but were shielded safely by their non-stick creative ability) with their near-drastic change of sound on this year's The Always Open Mouth.Ã‚Â The spastic thrash of 2004's Art Damage was exchanged this time around for slow-driving emotive tracks evoking much more imagery than ever before, making you forget all about their prior yet amazing effortsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦almost.
With the experimental beats and effects taking a stranglehold, FBtMoF successfully navigate the troubled waters of creative expression, without leaving their fans behind.Ã‚Â If they can bridge the tiny gap between the old and new, and continue to deliver dangerously hyperactive sets (singer Flava' Dave was impaled in the face by a guitar in San Diego), they are sure to get a lot more attention.
On 2006's The Anatomy of..., Between the Buried and Me shows off their seemingly bottomless well of talent by flawlessly covering some of the hardest songs from the hugest bands, including Queen, Pantera, and Pink Floyd.Ã‚Â But, Between the Buried and Me is a metal band.Ã‚Â Death, grind, prog and thrash, with a touch of ambient atmosphere thrown in.Ã‚Â 2004 saw the arrival of BtBaM's 2nd major label release Alaska, a dark journey through the mind of vocalist/keyboardist Tommy Rogers, encompassed by the most intricate guitar phrasing and time signature changes I have ever heard, and rounded out by impossibly detailed drums that will wear out your rewind button.Ã‚Â Mere words cannot do them justice.
It all becomes clear when you see them live and they finally play everyone's favorite song: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Selkies: the Endless Obsession.Ã‚Â A song so amazing, that halfway through, the pit stops moving to join the other fixed eyes and ears, as the whole crowd begins to roar ever louder until finally erupting alongside the power-metal riffage and lightning fast guitar solo of the song's outro.Ã‚Â Don't be in the bathroom.Ã‚Â Mean guitars?Ã‚Â Check.Ã‚Â Insane drums?Ã‚Â Check.Ã‚Â Rugged vocals?Ã‚Â Check.Ã‚Â Balls to the wall live show that rocks the shit out of you?!?Ã‚Â BIG FUCKIN' CHECK!
When I heard Norma Jean's first album, Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child, I nearly soiled myself from the sheer heaviness.Ã‚Â One frontman replacement and 2 critically acclaimed albums later, Norma Jean has matured into a major force-to-be-reckoned-with in the music world.Ã‚Â Already well-respected in the metal community, Norma Jean has toured all over the planet and their fan base continues to grow.Ã‚Â You don't need commercials or a slot in the radio rotation, when people can't stop talking to each other about how fucking badass your band is.
This year's Redeemer is another blistering onslaught of twisting riffs, thundering drums, and powerful vocals that spark curiosity (Ã¢â‚¬Å“Joy and beauty rejected so many times/A world of hurt, a heart of false hope. - from the track Ã¢â‚¬Å“Songs Sound Much Sadder).Ã‚Â With a live production containing eerie videos, 2 giant walls of lights and speakers stacked erratically, and the addition of a percussionist to the band, the brutality of NJ is now cranked to 11.
But this tour isn't just about kickin' ass and taking names (written in blood).Ã‚Â It's a statement, a proclamation, a testament, if you will, to creativity and artistic integrity.Ã‚Â This tour has 4 bands that sound very different but share common ground: they have all received critical acclaim, sold tons of records and amassed huge, rabid fanbases without any regular commercial airplay on MTV or the radio.Ã‚Â Not an easy feat by any means in the unforgiving music biz, which proves how much talent and dedication these guys really have.
"We're not rebelling against radio exactly, we're just pointing out that we accomplished everything without their help, and also the fact that we aren't a cookie-cutter microwave band, like what's typically found there," Cory Brandan (singer) from NJ said.Ã‚Â "They (the opening acts) are all doing something different and we like that."Ã‚Â Maybe, just maybe, with Norma Jean and Co. paving the way, one day the masses will finally open up and accept this type of art into the mainstream, changing the face of commercial music and altering popular consciousness, catapulting us further into this relatively unknown music renaissance that is currently blossoming. Ã‚Â
Regardless of my wishful thinking, all that raw ability- combined with their relentlessly aggressive live performances and rigorous touring ethic- will eventually propel them all to the level of respect and recognition that they more than deserve.Ã‚Â This tour wrapped December 2nd, but these bands won't stop touring anytime soon.Ã‚Â Better go see them now, Grasshopper, for it will not be much longer until you need binoculars to get a peek.Ã‚Â As for Radio Rebellion, let's just hope the lineup is as ferocious in '07.Ã‚Â Maybe Cattle Decapitation could headline?