Zeus, Labyrinth, Graves of Valor, Demonstration, Wretched
Tremont Music Hall
April 29, 2011
The Deal: I have had the privilege of witnessing the evolution of Zeus, an amazingly talented local metal band that has been around since about 2005. It all started way back in a practice space off of Brookshire Freeway where Ricky Culp and Sam Fleming practiced in separate bands. After a whole ordeal, Sam ended up sharing Ricky and the rest of Moustache Farm's practice space and established a friendship and admiration for each other's abilities. So they got together and constructed Zeus as a side-project that ended up being something amazing. From the moment these two boys began jamming out together, beautiful things happened. Guitar riffs became tech-ier than ever and the drumming, as sick as it comes. It took them awhile to secure all current members of the band: Brennon Campbell, Deucy Wayne and Adam Lane but as things fell into place, it was like witnessing the birth of polyrhythm. As each member became a part of it, the music got more technical and intense and as a result, they rocked harder and harder.
Within the past couple of years, Zeus got the opportunity to sit down and record an EP with notable producer, Jamie King (he was the guy that made Between the Buried and Me's records so freaking beautiful). From the moment they went into the studio, I was so proud of these boys for taking the leap. At the time, Ricky was my roommate and I was honored to hear the rough recordings develop into flawless tracks that sounded just as good as they do live. Jamie King certainly has a way of showcasing talent. The boys sat on the EP for a while, trying to figure out how they were going to go about releasing it. When they finally decided to do so independently, they scheduled their CD release show for April 29 at Tremont Music Hall with Labyrinth, Graves of Valor, Demonstration and Wretched as openers. I couldn't freaking wait.
The Good: Labyrinth was up first and they were heavy and brutal as shit. They played songs about being raped by trees and various other gruesome topics that drew everyone that was entering the building toward the stage. A circle-pit almost immediately formed and people slammed up against each other to the intensity that was before them. While all of their musicians are talented, I must say that their vocalist certainly has a range that displays his talent. He can scream from deep, dirty lows to shrill and demonic, instantaneously. I couldn't stop listening to the various octaves that came from his throat.
Graves of Valor was up next and while the band's style was a little bit sludgier, they kept the energy levels high. Within the first few minutes of its set, the pit reformed and heads started circle-banging like it was 1998 and Cannibal Corpse was playing. The vocalist stalked the stage back and forth like a fervid lion seeking his prey as shrill screams came from him. Although their drummer used triggers, he still displayed his abilities against the two guitars and bass that carried the audience into a frenzy of metal madness.
Caught in this frenzy, Demonstration took the stage and began rocking out for us. They had a different style as well, more on the thrashy side of things. With vocals more towards hardcore, howling in between screaming and integrating back-up vocals, they brought an interesting twist to what we had seen prior to them. Their group was composed of the same set-up we had seen before, two guitars, a bassist, drums and a vocalist, all of which were feverously playing their music. About mid-way through their set they played “Captain's Log” and dedicated it to those who had been around since the beginning of their formation. The entire crowd went nuts; screaming along and starting unruly pits that Tremont security certainly had their eye on. As their guitarists' hair whipped audience members that had gotten too close to the stage and the heavy breakdowns began, their vocalist hovered in the fan's faces, screaming his lyrics at them. Everyone loved it.
Wretched, again, brought the sickness immediately with their technical riffs and incredible enthusiasm for what they play. With their drummer veiled between two backdrops and shielded in the center by their bassist, their guitar players meticulously plucked at their strings as they simultaneously banged their heads. While I was sad to see their former vocalist, Billy Powers go, their new guy is a really good fit. Sincerely, it is hard to be disappointed by these boys' execution. They have it down-pat. Their breakdowns make you nod your head like you should be while their melodies take you on a journey into tech metal greatness. Their music is heavy and beautiful, moving the crowd so intensely that they reached towards to stage. Wretched has the uncanny ability to take you to the darkest of places then show you the light, utilizing their talents to the fullest. They were the perfect openers for Zeus' CD release set.
After Zeus set up its equipment, the lights went off and they disappeared. A television set placed on stage was turned on and low and behold, a VHS of kittens took the attention of the crowd as the theme to Mars Attacks beamed from the speakers. The crowd started chanting “Zeus” and before we knew it, when the music reached a marching score, the boys took their places and the audience screamed in delight. Instantaneously, Zeus began ripping it up, putting on a performance like none other. During breakdowns, their heads swung in sequence and overzealous front man, Brennon Campbell entertained the crowd as he screamed by swinging his mic around and getting on his knees during an epic belt, almost to the effect of Prince.
I must say that over the years, I have seen many guitarists, but Sam has perfected his circular head bang. He has it down to a science that makes you wonder how the hell he continues to play such intricate scores while jamming out so hard. The other guitarist, Adam, has his own method of appreciating his music, saucily fondling his guitar as if it was a dirty woman while bassist Deucy makes sweet love to his instrument, delicately plucking each bass string. Ricky is a beast on the drums. Looking at his gnarly facial expressions reminds me of the Muppets' Animal. His face looks ferocious as he pounds away at his skins. All in all, the music is sick and all the boys are entertaining. But by Lord, Brennon is seriously an eye-catcher, acting out his lyrics as if he were performing in some obscure avant-garde play. He flicks his tongue in between lyrics and waves his hands and dances like Elvis while he rubs his nipple with his spit. What's funny is, his lyrics are very deep. If you were ever to understand them or read them, you would want to know what is inside this kid's head. Very political and socially critical words project from his mouth but his actions tell us he is singing something ridiculous. Combined with the overlay of brutal melodies and rhythm, Zeus is mind programming at its best and most enjoyable.
The Bad: Although Zeus had a great crowd, a lot of people had left by the time they went on. I think it was because the other bands played longer sets than they were allotted, causing the show to get delayed. I just really wanted to see that room packed and even though it was full, it was kind of disappointing to see everyone had gone home and missed the headliners. At least they all bought CDs and t-shirts.
The Verdict: I am so proud of Zeus for coming such a long way and living their dreams. I feel so privileged to know such talented people that have an immense passion for what they do. The night's line-up was the perfect build-up to their set, each band bringing different styles but all equally brutal. If you ever get a chance to see any of these guys, especially Zeus, you should seize the night and jump on it because it is something everyone should witness. While you're there, pick up the new CD so you can take home the greatness. Quality music, quality entertainment, quality times.