Abriosis, Galgamex, Angry, Female Blue Balls at Funky Winkerbeans, August 3
I remember the first time I walked into Funky’s earlier this year, I thought – “Finally. I found it.” As a newly transplanted Ontarian without much of a clue as to where to go to get my metal fix in Vancouver, I stumbled upon Funky Winkerbeans (a.k.a. Punky Thrasherbalts; a.k.a. Thrashers; a.k.a. Awesome) by dumb, drunken luck. I love this place. Friday night was the kick-starter show for Abriosis’ Kill’ Em An Grill’ Em tour. They’re headed to Alberta and Saskatchewan to spread their decay, and they come back to BC to play Fernie (Aug. 17) and finish it off in Kamloops (Aug. 18).
Female Blue Balls (yup, that’s right) made a bunch of noise on stage for the handfuls of early comers. I think they accomplished their mission of leaving everyone dumbfounded and scratching their heads and beards wondering, “What… what was that? Was that something?” These experimental, generous, and apparently quite prolific young folk offer all their music for free on bandcamp, so go check ‘em out and get confused.
Angry took to the stage a bit after 10:30 p.m. with their new bassist who managed to stay on the ball for the (too) short twenty-minute set. Heath (vocals) welcomed us all and quickly proceeded to get into it, spitting and growling through an engaging, groovy and curveball-throwing collection of songs. The shirtless wonder’s delivery and vocal style is reminiscent of Mr. Bungle-era Patton, at times roaring in unbridled rage, then flipping to cleaner, yet just as powerful yell-singing (think Death By Stereo). Angry’s last tune capped their committed performance as Heath moaned a series of disillusioned death-groans which announced that, yes, it was all over.
Funky’s was filling up nicely by this point with a fun mix of thrashers, bangers, drinkers and stinkers. Fueled by some competitively priced brew, I got ready to witness Galgamex, which my buddy Andy and I decided was surely what you would call the Smurfs’ Gargamel were he a futuristic assault robot. It turns out Galgamex would clearly obliterate robo-Gargamel within a few seconds of battle. The thought that popped into my head as soon as these guys started playing was “Holy fack”. Chris’ vocals are just brutal and offensive in the best way possible. This guy was exhausted after the first few tunes (not that it slowed him down at all), which is a testament to the balls-out-ness of the whole group’s devotion to leaving it all on stage. I’m surprised Driscoll (drums) doesn’t pull something every show night with some of the drum acrobatics he whips out. Truly impressive. The ridiculously tight guitars (played by Daniel and Jordan) gave me an image of synchronized, speed-freaking robot spiders dancing on fret-boards, stopping on a dime, and dancing once more, never missing a beat.
The precise foursome was treated to several “Bass solo!” exclamations from the peanut gallery; there is no bassist. Ha. Two shredding, often mirroring guitars; one arsenal of drums; and one hilarious and vicious frontman (“I don’t have any good jokes, so… sorry…”) – that’s what makes up the beast they call Galgamex. Once you realize there’s no bassist and you really lend your ear to figuring out their sound, the bass support and accents created by Driscoll stand out and make his playing all the more remarkable.
If you haven’t had a listen yet, check out “Impaler” (nas…ty!) and other tunes right here.
Having squeezed every last drop of bile from their set, Galgamex gave way to Abriosis, fronted by none other than Alxs Ness (formerly of Without Mercy). Anyone mildly involved in Vancouver’s metal scene knows who this woman is, and it’s because of her extraordinary scope of vocal abilities and styles; her banshee screams are just as insane as her demon growls, and everything in between.
Abriosis sounds like the sountrack of choice for a torture chamber. It’s a calculated mix of death metal, grind, and even some polyrhythmic prog-metal bits. It’s evil music to one’s dirty little ears. The group hammered through a tight set of new and what can barely be called “old” stuff. They finished with “Scarlet Rapture” which is nothing if not outstanding.
The band is due to release a new four-song EP, Vessel, sometime this fall. They played all four songs on Friday – “Apochra”, “Crypsis”, “Vessel”(with its rolling death-march of a finish) and “Peering Into Oblivion”, or as I heard it, “Purrrer Urtah Lurburrviaaah”… close enough. This last one is quite the piece – based on plucky, starry-eyed bass-lines and cement-truck doom guitars, “Peering” floats off to weird little places that let you space out just enough so as to surprise you every single time the metal anvil comes back around to crush your skull.
I have to highlight Ryan McDonnell’s bass playing. Despite the aggressive nature of Abriosis’ style, his very exact technique leans on the side of restraint and lets you actually hear what’s happening in bass land. It’s not just a messy mush of low end as it is in so many other extreme metal bands. The clear tone (think Intronaut) allows for McDonnell’s proficiency and inventiveness to shine through, which heightens the already excellent Abriosis experience to an even higher level.
Keep your head down and your horns up!