As any regular reader of this piece of webspace knows, I live near the eastern tip of Kentucky, near the border of West Virginia. This geological environment doesn’t typically attract metal acts, so I have to drive four hours in any direction to see a decent metal show. So imagine my surprise when I drove out to Louisville, KY for Born of Osiris‘ The Discovery Tour to end up in a shithole worse than my own home town. I’m talking destroyed trailer parks, several shady porn stores, bars, and strip joints PER STREET, and where the local metal venue doubles as a flea market, where not hours before the show, there was used furniture lined up in front of the stage where I was to be standing soon enough.
It was a charming place, and my fear of getting mugged was only second to how nauseated I still get prior to interviewing bands. I spent the hours leading up to showtime with two friends of mine, browsing what could have been bootleg DVDs, getting sick at White Castle (where we awkwardly shared our meal with a sheepish homeless man, who was rudely yelled at by an employee), and anxiously awaiting the arrival of French deathcore band Betraying the Martyrs, where I was to interview bassist Valentin Hauser (coming soon!). I’ve got to say, Betraying the Martyrs are one of the most humble and friendly bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Their live show decimates, but a little more on that later on.
Now, I wasn’t given one of those neat and coveted laminated passes or anything, but since I was in the venue before any of the band members and I was seen interviewing Valentin earlier, I just hung out in and around the backstage area and was never asked to leave. I meandered about, bouncing between watching Born of Osiris soundcheck to befriending the young local opening act of the evening, deathcore band Internal Affliction, who were out back anxiously gathering their equipment. Being on the inside really gave me a first hand look at what goes into production, and it’s not an easy task. This evening was to be riddled with technical difficulties, which was foreshadowed by Logic crashing on BoO’s Mac during soundcheck. I overheard a member of Carnifex (his name and position escapes me) chuckle, “this should be interesting.”
Interesting, it was. Meanwhile, Internal Affliction were still backstage on the edge of their seats. Their vocalist had flaked out, leaving them with only the band’s instrumentalists. What a bastard, I thought. What’s the thought process on bailing out of a show like this? “Hey guys, I know we’re opening for Born of Osiris tonight, but I just don’t feel like it, you know?” Completely unprofessional. I really felt for these kids; getting a break like this probably wasn’t easy, and to have it potentially crushed in front of them due to an unreliable vocalist must have been tough. They asked me if I could scream, but outside of my shower growling, I had no experience. They had eventually decided to scope out the crowd waiting out front and picked up some strange kid who looked sort of like Jacob Bannon to fill in the blanks of their act. The bigger names of the night seemed amused by the situation, with one tech offering to fill in for weed and money.
“I really hope they don’t suck,” I told my accomplices. “They’re pretty cool dudes, and I’d hate to say they suck on the internet.”
Still we continued our meandering, with the show delayed for nearly an hour due to some power issues. The crowd bustled in and Internal Affliction were set to go on. They were visibly nervous, with the fill-in frontman—who, I remind you, was given the sole job of making up lyrics and growling incomprehensibly when the music called for it—shaking from head to toe. They were off to an awkward start, but they actually didn’t do so badly, given the circumstances. Their drummer Nate Woods was the best part of the act, with some fairly technical playing going on behind that kit. Their bassist Clay Fillbach, once he started getting into it, was pretty fun to watch. Guitarist James Pevlor, while a pretty good guitarist, mostly stood in place with his foot up on the monitor. As for the fill-in vocalist… well, it probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea to go on as an instrumental group. Heavy on the breakdowns, but there was enough riffage involved to stand on its own legs, as well as one melodic Animals as Leaders-esque track tucked in. They should really emphasize that side of them more, but these dudes were only 15-16 years old; they can only go up from here if they stick with it and be picky about who their frontman is.
The band I was most excited to see for that night was definitely Betraying the Martyrs, and they certainly delivered their set flawlessly. They played a longer set than I had expected, with about half of their stellar debut album Breathe In Life represented, opening up with the powerful entrance that is “Liberate Me Ex Inferis” and included the tracks “Martyrs,” “Man Made Disaster,” “Tapestry of Me,” “Life is Precious,” and “Because of You.” Vocalist Aaron Matts was one of the most intense vocalists I had ever seen live. It was as if he was about to leap from the stage and harm me. A part of me was legitimately afraid of this man, even though I saw him doing kickflips around the venue not an hour prior. Victor Guillet’s keyboards were more present live than on the album, which had me unbelievably stoked. His vocal performance was spot on as well, albeit a bit low in the mix. Overall, one of the more excellent sets I had ever seen. What I wouldn’t give to see this band perform their album in its entirety. I met up with Valentin after the show once again and he asked me how I thought they did. He seemed sincerely grateful and happy that I had nothing but good things to say.
I was surprised to find out that the next band advertised on the bill, Structures, had dropped off the tour due to illness. I was both relieved and slightly disappointed, as not only did I want to see how their material translated to a live setting, but up to the point where I found out they were not in the building, I had been keeping a low profile in the off-chance they knew about my website and the scathing things I’ve said about their debut album. Oh well.
Carnifex are a band I’ve seen once before, but their straightforward deathcore sound—while there’s nothing particularly “wrong” with it—isn’t something I’m particularly into. The couple of members I did meet were extremely friendly and talkative, and they certainly can command a crowd and deliver their material quite well. Unfortunately, my neck was done for by the end of Betraying the Martyrs’ set so I was not ready to comply with vocalist Scott Lewis’ request that we move around a lot. The rest of the crowd however, were all about it.
Up next were another band I had seen previously, Veil of Maya. I had the opportunity to view their set from side stage, which was almost surreal, as Born of Osiris’ drummer Cameron Losch stood next to me to watch the band perform. Veil of Maya have always been a band that’s connected with me more in a live setting than on a recording, and they did not disappoint at all. Watching Marc Okubo play like he does with layering things through a loop pedal is really interesting, and everyone in the band just clicks together like a tight single unit, save for a slightly sped up “It’s Not Safe To Swim Today.” Once again, they didn’t play “Namaste,” which bums me out because I love that song to no end.
I had moved my way back into the crowd by the time Born of Osiris took the stage. Opening with “Follow The Signs,” the floor began to shake as the crowd pushed their way to the front. They have great stage presence, but their only downfall would be the aforementioned technical difficulties, which seemed to plague them. A cymbal on the kit kept tipping over, Logic crashed yet again during the opening of “Singularity,” and apparently, an amp had fallen over. These sort of things could ruin any show, but Born of Osiris handled it like champs. When they went off-stage, they looked pissed off and bummed out over all the malfunction, but while on-stage, they were definitely into the music and the crowd followed suit. Had it not been for the audible failure of Logic and the extra time between songs, you probably couldn’t tell anything was amiss. Regardless, they played a fantastic The Discovery-oriented set that, despite all of the difficulty, did not disappoint in the slightest. Even some of their earlier material that I’m not exactly a fan of (“Bow Down” in particular) are infinitely more fun when the band are there in front of you. I know that the band were extremely disappointed by how the night turned out, as they didn’t comply with the crowd’s request for an encore.
In the off chance that anyone in the band reads this, you guys handled it extremely well, and you definitely put on a good show. Rest easy guys; even on your perceived bad night, the trip to the seedy side of Louisville was well worth it, especially when you take into consideration that we were pulled over for speeding. I told you to go 55 when that cop was behind us, Stephen. Oops.
Born of Osiris’ headliner The Discover Tour has only just begun, and is a definite must-see. Check out the remaining dates on Born of Osiris’ facebook page.