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Underoath and Caspian – Phoenix Concert Hall, Toronto – April 19, 2016

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Photos and Review by Aaron Tamachi

www.underoath777.com

www.caspianmusic.com

This week Underoath returned to Toronto for the first time since they initially disbanded four years ago. Upon the separation, vocalist Spencer Chamberlain pursued his band Wintersleep, and drummer Aaron Gillespie continued his project The Almost while simultaneously drumming on tour with Paramore.  However, rumors circulating in November 2015 of a possible reunion tour and it was finally and officially announced, nostalgia grabbed fans by the throat and Toronto show was sold out, shockingly in under 3 minutes.

Despite their lack of intention to re-start this project, Underoath made this comeback in response to fan requests.  Appropriately titled the Rebirth Tour, the reunion not only marks the return of the band but also the 10-year anniversary of their release of They’re Only Chasing Safety.  To celebrate, Underoath brought along melodic rock band Caspian as their show opener, who played a fantastic set.   As such, fans were in full swing and chanting Underoath between bands, and exploded into a frenzy as Underoath came out swinging for the 21-song set.  It wasn’t long before The Phoenix made the transition from a music venue to a giant steam room.

Opening with Young and Aspiring and a top-notch production team, the stage lit up and Underoath was unstoppable. They sounded so crisp and refined that it was hard to believe the band had been apart for so long. UO almost flew through Down, Set, Go (which was said to never be performed live) plus Some Seek Forgiveness and Others Escape. UO did a variation on the soft, flowy tune, creating a more upbeat crescendo.

Following the completion of TOCS, the band left the blackened stage for a quick breather while a video played on the stage backdrop.  Then Underoath returned to the stage for the second half of the setlist with In Regards to Myself.   The crowd was rejuvenated and continued on with as much, if not more intensity than the first half of the show.  By then, the temperature inside The Phoenix felt as though it had reached 40C.  Eyes were stinging from the sweat rolling down foreheads and fans were tasting each other’s salty sweat as they partied shoulder to shoulder.

Every track on the album was played, right down to the interludes, and it was (and I totally risk sounding like an idiot saying this) brilliantly magical. Feeling the weight of 1400 people jumping up and down, screaming out the lyrics, and moshing with a friend (or a friend to be) with a band we grew up with, it was impossible to feel alone.

For me, this was absolutely the show of the year (quote me on this in Dec 2016).  Everyone needs to experience a show like this at some point in your life. We aren’t sure how long the band plans on touring, and I’m personally hoping that this brief instance isn’t going to be like the Alexisonfire “were back and not going anywhere but actually were not back together and you misunderstood what we meant” type reunion.  Truthfully, I’m hoping to see a couple albums, but I’m just happy I was one of the lucky attendees for this auspicious occasion.

After graduating with a degree in Media Studies and Journalism from the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto, ON, Alex has been covering pop culture events since 2009. He has covered major festivals like Osheaga, North by North East, Edgefest, and Heavy T.O and interviewed members of the Foo Fighters and Carlos Santana (who featured the interview in his memoir) and more. Alex has also spoken with filmmakers like writer/director Shane Black (Iron Man 3), writer George Pelecanos (The Wire, The Deuce), feature film directors, actors, stunt coordinators and more. His passion for film lead him to write original screenplays and even made the Second Round of the Austin Film Festival in 2019. He loves movies, music, reading, writing, and festivals of all kinds while he works on his next feature film spec script.

Album Review

The Eighty Six Seas – ‘Scenes from an Art Heist’ [Album Review]

Overall, this album does exactly what it sets out to do in encapsulating a fictionalized version of a famous art heist. Well done, The Eighty Six Seas!

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The Eighty Six Seas ‘Scenes from an Art Heist’ album artwork
The Eighty Six Seas ‘Scenes from an Art Heist’ album artwork

On February 23, 2024, The Eighty Six Seas released their first 11-track full-length album, Scenes from an Art Heist. Each track on this album is meant to represent a fictionalized story of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.

The first track sets out an eerie aura that aligns with the track’s title, a dedication to Isabella Stewart Gardner. The next song is a quick switch up from the first, with flighty strings and a whispered voice from lead singer Nick Stevens.

Moving on to track number three, “Coffee and Art,” you’ll hear a faster-paced, nearly techno piece that feels like caffeine hitting your bloodstream for the first time in the morning. Their next song, “Jenny,” is a piano-led ballad spotlighting Steven’s melancholy voice. With “Lonely Afternoon,” the track transforms back into the techno feel of “Coffee and Art,” but with a darker twist.

The next song, “Cat/Mouse,” sounds exactly as you’d expect—like a tense cat-and-mouse standoff, with the music accenting this push-and-pull dynamic. “Hey Little Bird” is more or less an instrumental, with occasional lyrics included, but it is clearly meant to be the interlude.

Moving on, we arrive at a track called “The Day I Die,” a techno piece with a fabulous crescendo after its quiet beginnings. Following that, “The Eighty Six Seas” provides its track, “Portrait of a Smuggler,” which quite literally encapsulates the feeling you have while walking through a park on a sunny day.

Next, we come to “Ghost in the Cityscape,” which has darker undertones, a sorrowful cello, and a slower tempo. The final piece is titled “Frames,” which will remind you of a love letter saying goodbye or a beautiful lullaby. Overall, this album does exactly what it sets out to do in encapsulating a fictionalized version of a famous art heist. Well done, The Eighty Six Seas.

Scenes from an Art Heist Track Listing:

1. For Isabella, March 1990
2. Scenes from an Art Heist
3. Coffee and Art
4. Jenny
5. Lonely Afternoon
6. Cat / Mouse
7. Hey Little Bird
8. The Day I Die
9. Portrait of a Smuggler
10. Ghost in the Cityscape
11. Frames

Run Time:
Release Date: February 23, 2024
Record Label: Independent

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Alternative/Rock

Glixen – “foreversoon” [Song Review]

On “foreversoon,” Glixen created a song where youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear,

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Glixen “foreversoon” single artwork
Glixen “foreversoon” single artwork

It’s been less than a year since Glixen released their debut EP, She Only Said, on Julia’s War Records. Still, the Phoenix shoegazers have already dug their heels into the DIY music scene and are heading out on an extensive US tour this year alongside the likes of Interpol, Softcult, Glitterer, and fish narc. Appearances at SXSW and Treefort will only further cement their reputation as a new band worthy of note.

To herald the busy year ahead, the band has released a new single, “foreversoon,” via the AWAL label, and it’s well worth a listen.

Says lead vocalist Aislinn Ritchie:

“‘foreversoon’ represents blissful moments of new love and intimacy. The song harnesses melancholy chords, layered with fuzzy red melodies and gliding guitars that pull you in deeper. I wanted my lyrics to feel like a conversation that expresses my infatuation and sensuality. Time is relentless and memories are fleeting, this song encapsulates those emotions forever.”

It’s a fair summation. Its youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear, think Ride, Curve and Slowdive, but with the fuzz cranked up possibly higher. Ritchie’s vocals certainly share that dreamlike quality of Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, and with many of those bands back on the road this year, perhaps the time is ripe to inject fresh blood into the genre.

Glixen, photo by Jesse Beecher

Glixen, photo by Jesse Beecher

Run Time: 3:43
Release Date: February 9, 2024
Record Label: AWAL Recordings

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Album Review

Blind Channel – ‘Exit Emotions’ [Album Review]

While ‘Exit Emotions’ (Century Media Records) contains many of the tropes from the golden age of nu-metal, it still feels refreshing. Blind Channel continue to move from strength to strength.

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Blind Channel ‘Exit Emotions’ album artwork
Blind Channel ‘Exit Emotions’ album artwork

Cast your minds back to 2021; it was a dark time for humanity, with the entirety of the world still gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, countries going in and out of lockdowns, and the entertainment industry being brought to its knees. Yet, in the midst of all of this, mankind fought on, with some events managing to take place. One of these was Eurovision, which has delivered, over the years, some incredible winners and given lesser-known artists global recognition. 2021 saw Måneskin take the crown, but on their heels was Finland’s own Blind Channel in sixth place with their song “Dark Side.”

The Finnish nu-metalers already had a handful of records to their name but it was Lifestyles of the Sick and Dangerous that contained their aforementioned Eurovision entry and made the world really sit up and take notice. With its mix of metal, hip-hop, synth and a touch of glam, it was a breath of fresh air from the European region better known for its output of, let’s say, the (much) heavier side of metal.

With Exit Emotions, Blind Channel now have their eyes focused on bigger things. Whilst they have broken through to the mainstream beyond their borders, it’s not enough for the six-piece, as they explore what it means to truly be on the global stage.

Exit Emotions kicks in hard with “Where’s the Exit,” with its distorted nu-metal beat laced with some techno elements followed swiftly by distorted vocals mixing rap and metal styles seamlessly. Dual vocalists Joel Hokka and Niko Moilanen bounce off each other in a symbiotic way, indicating how in tune with each other these guys can be. “Where’s the Exit” feels like it throws everything the band can portray at the wall from their varying influences, and while, on paper, a mix of metal, rock, hip hop, techno, and synth, if difficult to get right, Blind Channel nail it with absolute precision. Several songs on this record follow this formula, like “Deadzone,” “Wolves of California,” and “XOXO” (amongst others), and if the entirety of the record kept to this, whilst fun to listen to, it would run the risk of becoming samey. Thankfully, Blind Channel does mix things up throughout.

Blind Channel, photo by Christian Ripkens

Blind Channel, photo by Christian Ripkens

Keeping it Surreal” maintains a relatively heavy approach but dials it back a tad to give the hip-hop elements more of a chance to shine and deliver a more emotional element with the band, highlighting the surrealness of their current position. This is followed by the extra-emotional “Die Another Day.” The tune opens with a piano melody and slows the entire pace of the record, and moves into ballad territory. Hokka and Moilanen are accompanied by RØRY, ensuring the sensitive lyrics portrayed are emphasized to the max. Despite the relative negativity of the lyrics, the trio somehow makes this extra melancholy tune drive forward positive feelings.

Exit Emotions is a great follow-up to Lifestyles of the Sick and Dangerous, and although it contains many of the tried and tested tropes of what was delivered in the golden age of nu-metal, it still feels refreshing. The band has gone from strength to strength since their respectable placement at 2021’s Eurovision, which demonstrates they have lots more to offer than just their hit song “Dark Side.”

Read our interview with Joel Hokka and Niko Moilanen at last year’s Download 20.

Exit Emotions Track Listing:

1. Where’s the Exit
2. Deadzone
W3. olves of California
4. XOXO
5. Keeping it Surreal
6. Die Another Day
7. Phobia
8. Happy Doomsday
9. Red Tail Lights
10. Not You Bro
11. Flatline
12. One Last Time… Again

Run Time: 35:15
Release Date: March 1, 2024
Record Label: Century Media Records

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