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Live Report: Pallbearer, Royal Thunder, Inter Arma, Kings Destroy

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September strikes me as an excellent month for a tour. It’s not as hot as the summer, so band-guy swampass does not achieve the epic proportions that it might during July or August. It’s also warmer and less storm-prone than October, which matters if you’re driving a rickety van full of expensive music gear.

This particular September tour enjoyed another advantage: a cash infusion from Scion A/V. Scion’s largesse remains mysterious. It’s telling that nobody even considers the notion that Toyota is acting out of beneficence; modern metalheads have internalized punk rock’s suspicion of the corporate world.

I ran into Pallbearer’s Brett Campbell outside the venue (Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory), and he pointed out something that seems obvious in retrospect: while a few thousand dollars makes a huge difference to an underground metal band’s coffers, it’s chump change for an international car company. Toyota stands to gain little in the short term by cuddling up to the penniless metal crowd, but today’s heshers will become tomorrow’s middle-class consumers. Getting in on the ground floor with us is cheap. It’s a gamble, but for a company with an advertising budget that runs into the billions, it’s a gamble worth making.

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I was feeling under the weather during this show, so my recollection of it is a little scattered. Some impressions stuck with me:

-This tour’s lineup was stacked. It would’ve been even more stacked had Samothrace, who recently dropped an impressive sophomore effort (reviewed here not been forced to drop off the tour by a family emergency. Brooklyn’s own Kings Destroy gamely attempted to make up for their absence.

-I had never listened to Inter Arma before this show. They are really, really good—oily blackened doom with none of the frailty that often afflicts the style. I’m looking forward to their upcoming Relapse debut. Drummer T.J. Childers is a monster; I like how he lays down blastbeats beneath riffs that feel slow. Inter Arma’s songs feature lengthy instrumental sections, and vocalist Mike Paparo manages an impressive feat for a frontman: he gets out of the way gracefully.

-Sometimes you can tell that a (clean) singer knows what he or she is doing just by looking at them. Royal Thunder’s Mlny Parsonz knows what she’s doing. She moves her mouth closer to the mic for quiet lines and further away for loud ones, seemingly without thought. Parsonz has a true-blue rock goddess voice at her disposal. I’m burnt out on 70s-sounding bands with female vocalists, but it’s hard to feel jaded around such a talented musician.

-Pallbearer is way louder than I thought they’d be. Their recordings emphasize Campbell’s keening tenor, but in a live setting, the band’s massive wall of air dominates. It must be incredibly difficult for Campbell to hear his own voice onstage. He wandered off pitch during the band’s opening number before correcting for the din and delivering a moving performance.

— Doug Moore

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Photos by Greg Cristman

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