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AFTERSHOCK 2019: Four Reasons Not to Miss Sacramento’s Massive Rock Festival

Headed to Aftershock in Sacramento and trying to figure out who to see? It’s a tough call, but we think Knocked Loose, Poppy, Bring Me The Horizon, and Tool should be on the top of your list.

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While the addition of PSL’s (Pumpkin Spiced Lattes) to many cafe menus across the country usually marks the end of summer, California’s Bay Area is just about to embark on the warmest part of the summer. Alert! This means that festival season is not over! The best is yet to come when Aftershock takes over Discovery Park at 1000 Garden Highway in Sacramento. This year the festival has extended from two to three days for the 2019 event and tiers of tickets are creeping closer and closer to selling out.

As with previous years, the 2019 edition of Aftershock boasts an incredible lineup of stellar musical acts, each worthy of everyone’s time. But with so many good groups, what should people actually spend their time seeing? While the answer to that question might be entirely subjective, we’re here to help narrow down choices by suggesting four bands that ought to be on everyone’s must-watch list. And, with that said, here are four sets we think should be on your weekend itinerary.

Sift through Catherine Patchell’s killer gallery of live shots from 2018’s festival:

Aftershock Festival @ Discovery Park (Sacramento, CA) on October 13-14, 2018

01. Knocked Loose
Day: Friday, October 11
Genre: Metalcore, Hardcore Punk, Beatdown Hardcore
Links: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

– While Knocked Loose is a band that I prefer to see in an intimate venue setting, any opportunity to see them is sure to bring a solid show. If you haven’t given A Different Shade of Blue a spin yet, stop reading this article and go do that right now. Seriously. This album is bound to land on many end-of-year top album lists. Their stop at Aftershock is the one chance the Bay Area will have to see them during their first tour to support the new release.

After one stream, this song is “Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory.”


02. Poppy
Day: Friday, October 11
Genre: Electropop, Synth-Pop, Ambient, Heavy Metal
Links: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

– After recently joining the Sumerian Records family, Poppy is a new name to the scene. Earlier this year a collaboration with Fever 333 brought her name into the house of more metal fans. The character has a strong focus on their internet presence and performance, so it will be interesting to see how it translates to a festival setting. Poppy is embarking on the “Threesome” tour across the U.S. with Bring Me the Horizon (who you can also catch at Aftershock) and Sleeping With Sirens for the month of October.

WTF!? Yep, Poppy takes off her “Scary Mask” and reveals one damn heavy tune!


03. Bring Me The Horizon
Day: Saturday, October 12
Genre: Metalcore, Alternative Metal, Alternative Rock, Post-Hardcore
Links: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

– Northern California did not get the opportunity to have a show in support of their newest album, amo that dropped at the beginning of the year. Aftershock will be the first chance fans in the Bay Area will get to experience some of the new songs. Bring Me The Horizon has continued to change and explore their sound through their last couple of albums, but their 2019 one marks a true shift in their discography and is sure to shake up their live performance.

Pretty easy to see why “Mantra” has garnered Bring Me The Horizon 22+ million views on YouTube:


04. TOOL
Day: Sunday, October 13
Genre: Alternative Metal, Art Rock, Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock
Links: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Because Tool. Because Tool is now on Spotify. Because TOOL JUST DROPPED THEIR FIRST ALBUM IN 13 YEARS. Because Aftershock is currently the only date on Tool’s tour calendar in Northern California as they begin to tour in support of the new album.

It’s new, but it’s TOOL. And “Fear Inoculum” is quickly racking up the streams.


So, there you go. Hope we have made your weekend selection process easier. If not, here’s the main line-up for your perusal.

Folk

Morning Bear Reveals Latest Single “A Simple Understanding”

John Runnels unveils the revival of his indie folk project, Morning Bear, with the release of new single, “A Simple Understanding”.

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Morning Bear

Denver raised and now Copenhagen based singer/songwriter John Runnels unveils the revival of his orchestral indie folk project, Morning Bear, with the release of a deeply personal and emotionally charged single, “A Simple Understanding.” Marking the band’s return after a six-year hiatus, Morning Bear’s latest offering provides an intimate glimpse into the mind of its creator, navigating through the profound challenges of loss, resilience, and self-discovery.

Characterised by highly dynamic compositions, Morning Bear’s music weaves together the calm and delicate stylings reminiscent of artists like Bon Iver and Jose Gonzalez, while embracing the complexity and depth akin to the Fleet Foxes and Sufjan Stevens. Featuring soaring vocals and unconventional arrangements, including cello, violin, piano, and more, Morning Bear crafts a textured landscape behind pop-influenced hooks.

The catalyst for Morning Bear’s resurgence lies in the transformative journey of band leader John Runnels, who, after facing a series of devastating events and losses, found solace and inspiration amid the chaos. The global pandemic, the loss of three close friends in separate tragedies, a severe injury, and battles with anxiety and depression marked a period of uncertainty for Runnels, but he emerged stronger and more resilient.

“A Simple Understanding”, a continuation of the first releases from Morning Bear after a long hiatus, showcases Runnels in an intimate and vulnerable performance, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. Released at the time of year where it is most difficult for mental health, John recorded this in a single, live take during a rainstorm in a small garage in a village outside of Andover, UK, and the song captures the raw emotion of Runnels’ struggles and experiences. The lyrics delve into themes of self-loathing and finding hope in the darkest moments of life.

He says “People are often their own worst critic. ‘A Simple Understanding’ speaks to the self-loathing you feel when you have hit rock bottom. How do we find something to hold onto when we’re in the darkest points of our lives?

Morning Bear invites audiences to join them, to embrace vulnerability and share the power of music to heal and connect. With echoes of early Bon Iver in its acoustic performance, ‘A Simple Understanding’ is a brutally honest and delicately executed piece of songwriting that is sure to resonate with listeners, John Runnels bears all in this captivating and emotionally charged offering that sticks.

Morning Bear "A Simple Understanding" single artwork

Morning Bear “A Simple Understanding” single artwork

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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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Metal

Silent Planet Bring Their “Superbloom Tour” to Worcester Palladium [Photos]

Silent Planet brought their “Superbloom Tour” to Worcester Palladium with support from Johnny Booth, Aviana, and Thornhill.

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Silent Planet on Feb 20, 2024, photo by Christina Altamirano
Silent Planet on Feb 20, 2024, photo by Christina Altamirano

Silent Planet brought their “Superbloom Tour” to the Worcester Palladium on February 20, 2024. They had Johnny Booth, Aviana, and Thornhill join them on this fun adventure.

I had no idea what to expect during Johnny Booth and was happy with the outcome. Johnny Booth is a five-piece hardcore band from New York. They performed a seven-song setlist with a few cuts like “2040,” “Full Tilt,” “Asymmetrical,” and “Deep Fake.” Johnny Booth stands out with their crushing melodies and multi-genre influences.

Following Johnny Booth was the Swedish alt-metal band Aviana. I had heard a few songs off Spotify, but I’ve never seen them live, and I loved every second of their time! The band wore masks and cloaks, so you can’t see anything under it. When they opened with “Rage,” the crowd chanted “Rage” with frontman Joel Holmqvist. Other songs were “Illuminate,” “My Worst Enemy,” “Oblivion,” and “Obsession.” This is definitely a band worth checking out!

Next was the Aussie alt-metal band Thornhill. If you know Thornhill, then you know you’re going to have a good show! They played eight songs, consisting of “Arkangel,” “Viper Room,” “Coven,” and “Casanova,” and closed with “Where We Go When We Die.” During their set, you can see fans all over having fun and dancing to the music.

Lastly, Silent Planet! The band incorporates a screen in the back for stunning visuals to accompany the songs being played. They performed mostly new songs off their latest album, Superbloom, and other beloved songs like “Panic Room,” “Native Blood,” and closed with “Superbloom.” Towards the end of their set, they did a jam session, which was fun to watch! During their encore, they performed their popular song “Trilogy.”

The “Superbloom Tour” is coming to a close this week. If you got to see it, then you know you got to go to an awesome show. Here’s to the next one!

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