TVD Live: Cleveland’s Finest BBQ at Peabody’s Concert Club, 9/30

Due to some of Cleveland’s finest weather (sarcasm) there was, in fact, no BBQ at Peabody’s last Friday. Some of the city’s finest bands were in attendance though. To me this show exemplified the subtle evolution of the Cleveland metal scene we’ve seen in recent times.

As the neanderthalic sounds of the last generation’s tough-guy metal fades away, and the monotony of the death-core scene becomes so much that if you’ve heard one break down you’ve heard ’em all, a melodic youth movement has really begun to come to power.

Every act had some emphasis on singing with the exception of Ruled by Reason, whose ever-present melodic guitar leads make them one of the defining bands in the scene. It’s clear that the talent being cultivated in Cleveland right now is not interested in rehashing the ideas of their forefathers. I’m sure the waves crashing onto the freeway off Lake Erie would have been enough to scare ticket sales away in a lot of places, but the loyal following of these talented young bands persisted. With the patio all but deserted due to howling winds and a wet, bitter cold, the crowd was shoulder to shoulder and every band got to do their thing for a full room.

Envoi had a solid set. They played well and it was clear watching them that the band writes material that pushes them to the limits of their abilities. This is particularly true of lead singer Dominic Frusteri (who though under the weather, performed well) and lead guitarist, David Tirpak. Most of their songs sounded pretty similar but overall it was a respectable showing for a very young band.

Okay, Along Came A Spider. Wow. Style worthy of a national act. Excellent stage presence and overall a very tasteful blend of of heavy and completely melodic metal. An array of talented vocalists and a well-rehearsed, professional set. This is one of those bands that might fly under the radar. There’s nothing too flashy about Along Came A Spider, just great execution of simple ideas.

Ruled by Reason clearly dominates every other band on the main stage in terms of technical ability. Jason Dean radiated intensity and although some loser in a Metallica shirt tried and failed miserably to contribute some vocals, you could tell Jason’s truly growing as a screamer. They opened with arguably the two best songs off their last release The Dawning of Distopia (“Dorsia,” “Look to the Stars”), laid down a new highly progressive track to an enthusiastic crowd, then closed with “The Last Prophecy,” a chill song that builds to a dramatic finale to close.

Brian Montgomery is clearly getting more comfortable on stage, rocking out to the more.. well, rockin’ sections and sending some young headbangers who were in attendance into a frenzy that almost made it seem like they were thinking “Hell yeah, our long hair is still metal, look at that guy!” Buy their album, buy their t-shirts, buy them beer—they were absolutely the best band to play tonight.

Skies of December. What a mess. Great potential, cluttered stage. Skies is capable of some serious epicness, let that underline any criticism headed their way here. I’ve been told they sound like Devil Wears Prada, but since I don’t listen to bands with fashion designers in their names I can not confirm this. Everyone in Cleveland you DON’T want to stand next to at a metal concert loves this band, and they showed it by displaying exactly why everyone but other karate dancers HATES karate dancers.

Honestly, they even seemed to hate each other half the time. Back kicks intentionally into the crowd, crowd surfers trampled, these guys ruined the set for everyone there who wanted to watch the band without getting bludgeoned in the head. Okay, I know I’m only talking about their shitty crowd, but the band LOVED it.

Back to the band. Weak singing throughout from both guitarists really killed any momentum this band built consistently throughout their set. Their technical ability goes as far as building up a solid intro/verse to the point where the crowd is really diggin’ it, then abruptly killing all momentum by going to a clumsy, poorly sung melodic section. Most of the crowd stopped moving (caring) during these points during their set, and there were a LOT of them. Following completely losing the crowd, they break down, winning back over their following of wannabe UFC fighters, the only thing they consistently did well. All in all this is a hard working band with potential that needs to stick to what they’re good at, because their entire catalog of music is completely overdone.

Even the best parts of their set were somewhat spoiled by the fact that both guitars, the bass, and the constant synth came together to sound like a room full of musicians playing the same riff at the same time, cluttered and indistinguishable. If they can revise their writing process and give their music some kind of flow and structure, Skies of December will be a band to watch. Overall. they are a hard-working band that needs to polish their material a bit and grow as songwriters.

Professionals. What else can you say about Affiance? This band is going to be the biggest metal act to come out of Cleveland in a long while and it’s easy to see why. With superb singing (that’s right singing, very few screams) that would make the likes of Rise Against envious, Affaince brought it. They were there to shoot a video, they were there to headline a packed show for a broad spectrum of Cleveland concert-goers, and they definitely knew it. I swear the crowd made more noise for the vocalists warm up then they did at almost any other point during the show.

Cleveland loves Affiance and Affiance loves Cleveland; that much was clear. I could hardly hear the band over the crowd singing along with Nostra Culpa as they filmed the video, and that’s a statement because they played LOUD. Dennis Tvrdik is a true front man, with enough charisma and skill to win over even metal-haters. His range is unprecedented within the genre and the guy just makes you wish you could sing like that!

There are no gimmicks here, relatively few break downs, nothing flashy but Tvrdik’s insane power metal yells. This is a solid band from top-to-bottom with an old-school style and new-school sound, what’s not to like?

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