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Friday April 15th, 2022 at miniBar in Kansas City, MO
They Watch Us From The Moon, Existem, & Drifter

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Things are running way behind schedule here at Too Much Rock headquarters so we're just going to share some quick thoughts from this show. All apologizes to those slighted.

Drifter began the night. The trio is the project of guitarist Brodie Belt, bassist and vocalist Dean Edington, and drummer Joel Denton. But that's selling it short – there's also auxiliary percussion from both Belt and Edington, and a tonnage of curated noise from Edington. What kind of noise? Well Edington wore a shirt adorned with Dead Can Dance's 1984 debut album on it, so that kind of noise. Dark, eerie, beautiful. Those extraneous noises took the band past big riff sludge and instead became slowly-building and fiercely erupting post-metal in the immersive style of Neurosis. Yes please. The band is currently working on two albums, and I look forward to buying them both.

Existem followed. Last time I saw the band I wasn't sure what to make of them. This second helping didn't clear anything up. Metal. Okay. But progressive metal built from complicated passages highlighted by smart riffs and taps played by guitarist Brad Trinkl. But then drummer Matthew Chipman leans into his double bass pedal and hammers away at a very ugly-sounding crash creating a din guaranteed to appease any death metal fan. In these moments Trinkl switches to flat picking, matching the aggression. But there are also moments of clean guitar and clean vocals (both from Chris Gochis) that are treated as much more than palate-cleaning interludes. In fact, Gochis and five-string bassist Ben Chipman often build to anthemic climaxes that read more like Foo Fighters than Cannibal Corpse. In other songs, pre-recorded tracks provide orchestral elements and backing vocals, that when combined with the band's substantial pedal play, lift the quartet into shoegaze territory. Here, especially when Cochis growls his vocals, the band can be quite satisfying. Maybe next time I see them I'll piece it all together, or maybe the band is just the disparate parts that I've been able to mine.

The night ended with They Watch Us From The Moon. The Lawrence sextet has been through a number of changes since it started in 2018. A couple of names. A handful of singers. It's doom. Slow and repetitive. Heavy and relentless. I tried to find the art in the exceptionally loud band, but the trained lead vocals of Luna Nemesis and backing vocals of Nova 10001001 seldom escaped the gravity created by bassist Zakkatron, drummer Adryon Alin, and guitarists The General Shane Thirteen and R. Benjamin Black. Silly names? Maybe. But behind the cosplay and costumes and cartoony, extraterrestrial backstory are names you know from local bands you admire. But it wasn't the secret knowledge of R. Benjamin Black's true identity that brought me out to the miniBar. It was the band's oft-repeated "Cosmic Doom Opera" appellation. It was the commitment of the players. It was the band's reach for something different. Sadly, I just wasn't feeling it. Sensory overload perhaps. I tried to stand in the back of the room away from the LEDs that adorned the android Nova 1001001, away from the black light that revealed the alien veins of Luna Nemesis, and away from the perpetual crushing volume, but when I pulled out my ear plugs, I only heard white noise. Deafening white noise. Giving up, I packed up my camera early and decided to head home. It was only when I was outside of the room, halfway down the long staircase to the street, that I heard the advertised operatic vocals sitting on an undulating bed of guitars. Finally. I lingered there for a while, but ultimately the gravity of my own bed pulled me down the stairs and out the door.