RVA Shows You Must See This Week: January 31 – February 6

 In News

Saturday, February 3, 7:30 PM
Terror Cell (Photo by Nick Oukolov), Prisoner, Slaat, Septic Vomit @ Black Iris – $10-$15 donation
There’s a lot going wrong in the world today, from genocidal bombings killing thousands of children in the Middle East to the inflation crisis here in the United States. With something like 25,000 US citizens getting laid off from high-profile corporations so far this month, we can expect the pressure to make ends meet to just keep ratcheting up all around the city. One thing I have always loved about the independent music scene, though, is that it gives us tools to use in order to spread the word and make a real difference in other people’s lives. This show is being put together in that spirit, as a benefit for Matchbox Mutual Aid. Matchbox is a project being put together in Northside (just down the street from Fuzzy Cactus… and from my house) by the folks behind Richmond Food Not Bombs and RVA Community Fridges. The intent is to create a community space that can host free food events, group meal preparations, and other efforts designed to feed and care for those in need around our community. This Saturday, four bands from around the Central Virginia region will come together at Black Iris in order to lend their support to this project. It might not seem like all that big a deal, to go to a show like this, throw down 10 or 15 bucks and a can of food to see four bands dish out some harsh musical rage. But when you get a full crowd of people to do so, those donations can really add up. This is how people involved in the independent music scene have been funding the things they care about for decades. It’s a noble tradition, and one you can be a part of this Saturday night.

And don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty you’ll get in return. By now, I would hope you recognize the sheer brutality Terror Cell has on offer. This quartet has been laying down the ultra-heavy metallic hardcore around Richmond for a couple of years now, and really gave us a statement piece with their 2022 album, Caustic Light. I for one am eagerly anticipating new sounds from these folks, but right now the best shot you’ll get at hearing what they’ve got coming for us all is to see them live. Whether their set is full of new songs or consists of tracks you know well, you know you’ll get your head kicked in either way — in the most glorious of fashions possible, of course.

Meanwhile, Prisoner actually do have some new material on the way. Having undergone some significant lineup changes in the six or so years since their first LP, they’ve moved from the dark grinding hardcore of Beyond The Infinite to a more industrial-influenced sound that integrates guitarist Pete Rozsa’s work with his solo project, R-Complex, as well as the programming skills of synth player Adam Lake (formerly of Mass Movement Of The Moth). The result, documented on their upcoming sophomore LP, Putrid|Obsolete, has some major Neurosis vibes mixed into the classic Tragedy-style riffage Prisoner have been bringing us for the past decade now. As for Richmonders Slaat, their harsh, downtuned sound mixes grindcore and classic death metal elements to hit you with some noisy low-end heaviness. Charlottesville goregrind maniacs Septic Vomit, whose vocalist sounds like a gurgling sewer pipe (seriously, it’s brutal), should get things started in frantic fashion with some ripping blasting hyperspeed metal. It’s all gonna rule, and again, it’s for a good cause. Make sure you’re part of it.

Wednesday, January 31, 7 PM
Fit For A King, The Devil Wears Prada, Counterparts, Avoid @ The National – $29.50 (order tickets HERE)
Metalcore is a genre filled with a very specific type of band you don’t really see anywhere else, and this big metalcore package tour hitting The National tonight is topped by two different bands of that very specific type. Both are from relatively small midwestern cities — Fit For a King is from Tyler, Texas, The Devil Wears Prada is from Dayton, Ohio. Both come from Christian backgrounds; The Devil Wears Prada have distanced themselves from that background in recent years, but they’re touring with Fit For A King, who still retain strong associations with the Christian music scene, so make of that what you will. And finally, both bands mix heavy, powerful riffing with a strong focus on melody, integrating cleanly sung vocals and centering keyboards in their musical mix along with heavy guitars and pounding drums.

Ultimately, what makes bands like this work is their ability to hook you in with a powerful breakdown while also charming you with a catchy melody. If these elements aren’t properly balanced, it’s more like a peanut butter and onion sandwich than a PB&J (peanut butter & onion lovers, don’t @ me). Both Fit For A King and The Devil Wears Prada excel at this balancing act, especially at this point in their respective careers. TDWP’s most recent album was their eighth, FFAK’s was their seventh. Both were released in 2022, and both are every bit as catchy, moshy, and memorable as the records that put these bands on the musical map back in the late 00s and early 10s. If you spent your high school years moshing to “HTML Rulez D00d” or still treasure your beat-up CD copy of Creation/Destruction, you can rest assured that these bands are every bit as good today — even if everybody involved (including you) is carrying a few streaks of grey in their hair these days. Leave the mosh pit to the kids if you’ve gotta, but come to this one and rock out. You won’t be sorry.

Thursday, February 1, 8 PM
Armagideon Time, Dead Templeton, White Beast, Dead Billionaires @ Bandito’s – $10 
Remember earlier, when I was talking about horrible genocidal bombing campaigns happening on the other side of the world? Well, don’t get it twisted — even when the bombs aren’t falling outside your house, this terrible situation affects your community as well. And like the show we started the week talking about, this show is an attempt by several local bands to come together and do something about it, to make the world a better place. Specifically, this show is a benefit for the Kamal family, put together by the Richmond chapter of Students For Justice In Palestine. The goal of the fundraiser is to help Rasha Kamal, a Palestinian student currently studying in America, bring their family across the border from Gaza to Egypt, where they will hopefully be safe. You can get the details and contribute at the GoFundMe page Richmond SJP have set up, but that’s not all you can do. You can also go to this Thursday night show at Bandito’s.

Your ten-dollar contribution to the cause will bring you a powerful lineup consisting of heavy hitters from multiple Richmond scenes, all coming together to rock in support of a better world. At the top of the bill is Armagideon Time, an excellent band that pairs rapper BlackLiq (who sounds more like John Brannon than Zack De La Rocha here) with talented local shredders to make some killer rapid-fire political hardcore. Then there’s Dead Templeton, a name you may not recognize… until I tell you that it is a side project of Destructo Disk guitarist Gideon Kupka. This is their first actual show, even though they released an album of instrumental demos years ago. Word from Gideon is that the current form of the band is “kind of an experimental noise dance punk thing.” Sounds intriguing! I’m sure we’ll all enjoy hearing what that turns out to be. Bass/drum duo White Beast, who sort of remind me of Sebadoh circa Bubble And Scrape (don’t ask me to explain that reference), will contribute some grungy alt-rock sounds to this bill, and the evening will surely be better for it. And of course, the always reliable Dead Billionaires will offer us a full set of their own politically-informed alternative power-pop. Best of all, you’ll have a chance to eat a giant plate of Bandito’s nachos while hearing all of these killer sounds. And you know I’m all about that.

Friday, February 2, 7 PM
Work Wife, Renny Conti, Charm Offensive @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $15 (order tickets HERE)
I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, but it feels to me like the world of indie rock has taken on a decided twang in recent years. Even bands like Work Wife, a trio from the mean streets of Brooklyn, bring in influences that feel drawn from the sweeping landscapes of the midwest, or the bright fields of the south. On Work Wife’s first EP, Quitting Season — the cover of which features a snow-covered mini-truck on the edge of a forest — touches of everything from Wilco and REM to Hop Along and Waxahatchee come through. What’s more, Work Wife’s recent Audiotree session saw the core trio augmented with a pedal steel guitar. Their just-released new single, “Strangers,” features a banjo.

None of which is to say that Work Wife are cosplaying as country artists, or whatever. They definitely still retain the ability to crank up the guitar crunch and show that they retain connections with alt-rock and shoegaze sounds. But if you head over to Richmond Music Hall on Friday night after a long, hard week, you’ll get to see a band that creates an excellent soundtrack for relaxing on the front porch and watching the world go by. There’s plenty of indie-kid wistfulness and melancholy worked in there, too, which is only appropriate in light of the state of the world one month into 2024. Work Wife’s music will act as a soothing balm for what ails you this Friday night at Richmond Music Hall. And as a bonus, you’ll get sets from fellow laid-back Brooklynite musician Renny Conti, and by up-and-coming hometown indie faves Charm Offensive — who should finally be putting out a record soon. Get a preview of that Friday night, and enjoy a rad set of chill tunes from Work Wife. Sounds like a great way to end the week.

Saturday, February 3, 8 PM
Mr. Fang & The Dark Tones, Modal Citizan, GTI @ Another Round Bar & Grill – $10
This will be a fun one for all the old-school punks among us, especially those of you with more than a little bit of gothic blood running through your veins. Mr. Fang & The Dark Tones come from down Tidewater way, and evoke a lot of that early punk stuff that was pulling from 50s novelty singles, B-movie creature features, and surf-twang guitar pyrotechnics. On their latest EP, Movie Monster, five of the six songs end in exclamation points — songs with titles like “It’s Alive!” and “I’m Zombiefied!” If you miss the days of USA Up All Night and Saturday night creature features on channel 35, this band is gonna thrill you in much the same way the Cramps and the Misfits do. Musically, I’d say they’re closer to TSOL circa Dance With Me, or the first Agent Orange EP — twangy guitars, dark musical moods, and plenty of punk rock energy.

And so, you see, the show this Saturday night will offer the perfect excuse for those of us who haven’t yet bought a house out in Lakeside to head that way and enjoy a fun night of music outside the city limits for once. Another Round is always an awesome time, especially since the place has more firmly embraced its role as a stronghold for suburban metal. And while Mr. Fang and his Dark Tones are closer to horror-punk than metal, let’s face it — there’s a lot of overlap in that fanbase. All you metal dudes with old Pushead Misfits shirts in your closet, you need to hit this one up. Mr. Fang is bringing Virginia Beach band Modal Citizan with him, and their spooky alt-metal sound should definitely connect for the Another Round crowd. Local skate punks GTI will round out the lineup with some sounds that’ll click for anyone who wants some Faction/JFA style old-school ‘core sounds mixed in with their horror-punk. Don’t miss this one.

Sunday, February 4, 7 PM
Left Cross, Ruin Lust, Diabolic Oath, Goetia @ Bandito’s – $15
Time for some serious heavyosity to wrap up our weekend in rip-roaring style. This Bandito’s extravaganza will unite two bands from the region with two touring titans. Let’s start by talking about our very own local heroes, Left Cross. Now, I admit it — there’ve been times this band has slipped off my radar. Their first LP, Chaos Ascension, was over six years ago. And last fall, when they released a follow-up entitled Upon Desecrated Altars, I gave it a listen or two, wrote about a show of theirs at The Camel, then promptly forgot about it for a month while dealing with the confusion and stress of being a retail manager during the Christmas season. When I dug it back out in preparation for writing this blurb, I realized that I’d been sleeping on a truly excellent death metal record. If you, like me, miss the halcyon death metal days of the early 90s, when bands like Obituary, Morbid Angel, Deicide, and Death were releasing classic slabs every other month, this Left Cross LP will fill a hole in your soul you didn’t realize was there. And live, these guys never miss, so expect to be even further blown away once they hit the stage.

Of course, the two out of towners will certainly offer Left Cross some formidable competition. New Yorkers Ruin Lust are currently touring behind their latest LP, Dissimulant, which has plenty of old-school death metal energy of its own. It definitely feels a bit more European in influence to me — pulling from early Celtic Frost, Bathory, and maybe Sodom or Kreator more than those classic Florida bands I mentioned earlier. Regardless, this band is gonna knock you on your ass with their powerful thrashing metal madness. So, for that matter, will Portland’s Diabolic Oath, who are the most blackened of the bands on this bill, but keep the guttural intensity at a maximum nonetheless. Expect them to bring the swirling chaos during their set. And of course, the evening begins with DC’s own Goetia (whose logo took a significant amount of research to decode — talk about the early 90s being back). These folks should certainly appeal to those with a Scandinavian fixation. Song titles like “Christ Shadow” and “Cemetery Violence” would fit right in on a Marduk album from the late 90s, as would the throat-destroying screams, double-time riffs, and blasting drum noise these folks churn out. Basically, this night is going to rip and rage from front to back. What more could you ask for?

Monday, February 5, 7 PM
Pure Bliss, No Grave, Contact, Trace Amount @ Bandito’s – $10
Monday night at Bandito’s continues the hard and heavy trend set by Sunday night’s show. This time around, it’s New York-based quartet Pure Bliss leading the charge. With a name like that, you might expect hazy, sunny shoegaze mellowness, but what you’re going to get from Pure Bliss is basically the opposite. The fact that their new EP, The Age Of Judgment, features a hooded executioner holding a bloody axe on the cover should give you a good idea of what you’re in for with these guys. And while Pure Bliss are capable of picking up the tempo on occasion, their main stock in trade is heavy breakdown riffs that ride the line between hardcore mosh carnage and crawling sludge torture. If you can appreciate a bit of Autopsy or even Eyehategod flavor stirred into your Harms Way-style heavy hardcore, you’ll get a charge out of Pure Bliss.

The rest of the bill should also do well for you. First up of the three support acts is No Grave, who come from Ohio and may cause some confusion at first, since they were called Greater Vision until very recently. Indeed, the EP they put out last fall was released under that name. I guess they changed their name to avoid confusion with the long-running gospel group of the same name, and I don’t blame them — though, I must say, I had trouble googling them without stumbling over a million references to legendary gospel song “Ain’t No Grave.” Neither of these gospel references are going to prepare you for what Ohio’s No Grave unleash, which is a sound somewhat similar to that of Pure Bliss in that it focuses on slower, heavier hardcore riffage. However, No Grave definitely land somewhere closer to the brutal East Coast metalcore sound of bands like Shattered Realm or On Broken Wings than the sludgier vibe Pure Bliss conjures up. Regardless, though — you’re moshing. Two Richmond bands round out this bill. The first is Contact, who have a politically informed, heavy, yet subtly melodic sound that feels like it would have fit right in on New Age Records circa 1993. Trace Amount, the relatively new Richmond hardcore band who will get this whole shindig started, have a raw sound that mixes I Against I-era Bad Brains with the furious headstomp soundtrack of first-LP Hatebreed. Gotta love that, right?

Tuesday, February 6, 7 PM
Go Ahead And Die, Body Box @ The Camel – $25 (order tickets HERE)
Back when I was young, Sepultura was as heavy as things could get without turning into outright death metal. The Brazilian quartet took the aesthetics of classic 80s American and German speed metal and thrash metal bands and gave them a heavier twist, integrating Latin American percussion and hardcore breakdowns to create the groundbreaking classic 1993 LP Chaos AD. Not too long after that, frontman Max Cavalera departed from Sepultura, and the band soldiered on with a new singer. While I don’t hate the post-Max Sepultura, it’s undeniably not the same. By the same token, Max’s post-Sepultura band, Soulfly, has never hit the same fever pitch that Sepultura achieved for a few years at the dawn of the 90s. Some of his other side projects have come close, though. Before 2020, I would have said that the Max Cavalera project that came closest was Nailbomb. These days, though, I might just say Go Ahead And Die.

Go Ahead And Die, Max’s latest project, unites him with his son Igor Amadeus Cavalera (not to be confused with his brother Igor Graziano Cavalera, who was the original drummer in Sepultura) on guitar and bass, and drummer Johnny Valles, who previously played with Igor Amadeus in Healing Magic. Their new album, Unhealthy Mechanisms, is an exercise in thrash brutality, forgoing studio polish in favor of the raw, feedback-laced sound that, according to Igor, the band is best able to achieve when performing live in a crowded bar. That’s the situation Go Ahead And Die will be greeted by when they pull up at The Camel Tuesday night, and they’re sure to bring us a no-holds-barred performance full of thrashing metal power. Whether you’ve been following Max Cavalera’s work for 30 years or you just like it when bands are as fast, harsh, and heavy as possible, you’re sure to enjoy this Tuesday night performance from Go Ahead And Die. Be there.

Email me if you’ve got any tips for me about upcoming shows (that take place after the week this column covers -– this week’s column has obviously already been written): rvamustseeshows@gmail.com

Please consider supporting my Patreon, where I’m documenting my progress on two different novels and (sometimes) writing about music of all types. patreon.com/marilyndrewnecci

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