Article by Dave Wright
June 10 – US: WE(TW) / COHOL /КультураКурения
June 11 – Punisher / 哀嚎 / Avulsed
This weekend should prove gratifying for all those head-banging fiends out there. Friday opens with COHOL, a Japanese trio that creates more sound than seems possible for so few people. They will dabble in post-rock throughout the night but always return to that double bass heaven that metal heads crave. The night continues with КультураКурения, a Russian band that delves still deeper into post-rock melodies, which they then juxtapose with the lead singer’s haunting melodic screams. The audience may find themselves shoe-gazing while they mosh during their performance.
Saturday brings another impressive collection of metal bands that push the boundaries of what the word can mean. Punisher begins the evening with a performancethat will thrill fans of early Metallica. The guitar lines are impossibly fast and though they sometimes drift towards that Steve Vai video game sound, they tend to hold it right at the cusp and avoid plunging into the abyss. Second up is 哀嚎, a group that uses a grittier guitar sound and primal screaming to promote their core thesis, that human beings are the scum of the earth. At times the sound can be grating(think Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music) but they ultimately bring it back to the driving pulse that the audience is looking for. Spanish band Avulsed closes the night, a fitting nod of respect to a band that was first formed 25 years ago. Lineups have changed in the years since but the dedication to their craft has not; on their most recent EP, 2015’s Altar of Disembowelment, lead singer Dave Rotten’s guttural singing still perfectly complements the band’s impressive rhythms.
June 24 – 艾斯卡尔
艾斯卡尔 arrived on the scene over two decades ago with the release of his incredibly popular EP, 变法, and has been performing regularly across the country ever since. His most recent album was released just last November and doesn’t show much decline in ability, but rather an increased willingness to experiment with more modern conceptions and techniques. It may not be quite as jarring as when Dylan went electric, but listening to this album alongside his earlier work does make one wonder what caused the departure from his earlier style. By mixing his usual tribal rhythms with smooth contemporary bass lines and the occasional electric guitar riff to cut through the acoustic groove, he has given his music a certain depth and accessibility that may have been lacking before. On top of this new arrangement he still switches effortlessly between Mandarin and his native Uyghur tongue but, as with all great singers, one doesn’t need to understand in order to appreciate.
June 18 – 萬重
It’s a great month to be a metal head. One week after Aperture’s explosive two day session, 萬重 comes to Xi’an’s光音 16 club. While stylistically萬重 is a departure from the previous weekend as they incorporate more syncopated breaks into their music, they will not keep people blandly nodding their heads. Rather, this is a band that will maintain and build tension through pauses, not allowing the energy to dissipate. Make sure to get there early, as two popular local bands, 灵息 and Decayed, are opening.