Show Review: Vektor, Battlemaster, Earthling, Midnight’s Eye at Strange Matter; Sept. 15th
I was extremely excited to get Progressive Thrashers Vektor at the hipster hangout Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia in mid-Sept. Their brand of Voivod/Watchtower-influenced thrash caught my ear the first time I heard Cosmic Cortex, the 10 minute opener (!!!) to their album “Outer Isolation.” Not many bands can pull this off without sounding pretentious or boring.
Strange Matter is a bar in the middle of VCU; making it a excellent spot for a venue. As you walk in, you’ll notice the random arcade games in the back and a painted mural of random video game characters at the last supper. One game that caught my eye was the old Simpsons arcade game that I haven’t seen in at least 10 years. Good times. Beer prices and selection is fantastic as well (they’re the only place I’ve seen sell Colt 45 at shows). Also, $4 for Red Stripe is the way to go.
The first band of the night was Midnight’s Eye. The first thing I noticed about them was who their drummer was; Alex Tomlin of Battlemaster (more on him later). Midnight’s Eye played a brand that’s hard to categorize. The easiest way to describe is they’re a Thrash/Power Metal, with some hint of Black Metal to keep it interesting. I was thoroughly impressed with their set and look forward to seeing them again.
Earthling was next and honestly, they were alright. Nothing special but nothing offensive to the ears. However, they shined when they would go into a Stoner Metal groove randomly in their songs. If their set was like that the whole time, I would have enjoyed them a lot more.
I’ve been a fan of Battlemaster for years now but I haven’t seen them since they opened for GWAR and Skeletonwitch at Toad’s Place (now Hat Factory) back in 2007. A lot has happened to band since then; line up changes and Andy being the vocalist for the Death Metal group Cannabis Corpse for a while. Let me tell you something, the band sounded tighter than ever. Their mixture of Blackened Death/Thrash really shines in the Richmond local scene that’s infected by jackasses who rely on “dance moves” instead of playing their goddamn instrument. After their set (which was filled with new songs), I talked with Andy and he told me that they’re going to be recording very soon so be on the look out of their new album in the next few months.
The MVP of the night was Alex Tomlin, drummer for Battlemaster and Midnight’s Eye. This dude is unreal! Seeing him blaze through 2 sets that night convinced me that he’s easily the best Metal drummer in the Richmond area (if not the state of Virginia). If you don’t believe me, check out this video of Battlemaster playing at Rumors a few years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQjlhcahyiY
Vektor went on at around 12:30 to a pretty large crowd, considering what time it was. From the opening notes of “Cosmic Cortex” everyone’s eyes were on the stage. The band blazed through the whole set, executing their set flawlessly. If you’ve ever listened them, this is no easy task to do live. David DiSanto and Erik Nelson are two of the most underrated guitar players out today. Seeing them play was exciting and frustrating at the same time (due to me being a guitar player myself). The set was a mixture of new and old songs from both of their albums. I wasn’t familiar with their older material at the time of the show but was still impressed by their whole set. They tried a wall of death but only about 6-7 people did it. That’s what happens when it’s 1:30 at a show.
The whole show was a great experience. All of the bands sounds different but still fit in the same bill. I ended up getting Vektor’s album “Black Future” and a patch, along with a Battlemaster patch. Next time Vektor comes to the area, I will be there.