Sounds of the Underground Tour 2006

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Sounds of the Underground Tour has been running throughout the months of July and August (it just ended a few days ago in Los Angeles). On July 17th, the tour was in Columbia, Maryland and I was able to attend and check things out. We did three interviews: In Flames, The Chariot, and Horse the Band. All three are already up on the site and will be linked to at the end of this article for those who have yet to see them. Without further ado, here’s how our day went.

My photographer (Dan) and I got to the show early, so a line was starting to build up outside of the gate. One of the main purposes of this tour was to “unite the worlds of metal and hardcore music” in a sense and one could see that this was occurring based on simply by looking at who was standing in line. Although metal and hardcore kids don’t always get along, things seemed to be under control (at least for the moment). With time to spare, Dan and I headed to the ticket booth to retrieve our tickets and press credentials.

It was at the ticket booth that we encountered our first issue of the day. While my credentials checked out and I received my ticket and press pass (essentially all the press pass let you do at this festival was be able to take a camera in and take pictures of the bands), the venue initially had nothing for Dan. After a bunch of frantic phone calls and a lot of waiting, the venue was able to find Dan’s ticket, and we were all set. It was decided that since the press pass was nothing more than a chance to take pictures the two of us would switch off having it to take pictures of the different groups. The rule for this tour was that photographs could only be taken of the first three songs from every band, so due to time constraints, we weren’t able to get pictures of every single band.

The first band to hit the stage was Through the Eyes of the Dead, who did an excellent job despite the small turnout (it is unfortunate that they had to go first). TTEOTD is a mix between traditional death metal and metalcore, and so they mixed in well with the rest of the artists there. Most of their material was from their latest album, Bloodlust. During their set there was some isolated moshing, but the crowd wasn’t quite big enough yet to get enough going. It was during this first set that I realized how short each band’s sets were. All of the opening bands only got about 15-20 minutes each, with each band getting more and more time as it got closer to the headliners.

Next up was Municipal Waste, a group that was only on this day of the tour (most likely due to the fact that they are a semi local band). The band wasted no time in letting people know what they were all about, considering they displayed a large banner that said “Municipal Waste is gonna fuck you up.” The best way to describe their music would be a mix between classic Slayer-esque thrash and punk rock (the punk element came out in the vocals, which you could tell were very influenced by a lot of the punk outfits out there). Due to the fact that all of their songs were only a minute or two long, the group took some time out to fool around and even funnel some beer. While not the highlight of the day, the group wasn’t bad and was a nice addition.

Shortly after Municipal Waste finished, I had to start finalizing the times and meeting places for the three interviews that would be happening later in the day. Unfortunately, due to the number of phone calls I had to make, Dan and I missed seeing other local favorite Dog Fashion Disco. DFD has generated a lot of buzz throughout other music websites and magazines, and hopefully I will be able to catch their live show someday.

We not only missed Dog Fashion Disco, but also the majority of Horse the Band’s set. This was unfortunate, but we had a very good reason. The time of Horse’s set coincided with my In Flames interview. As the group went on Dan and I were escorted through the backstage area (where I caught some glimpses of some GWAR stage props) and back to the pond, which was dubbed the “artist’s relaxation area.” We then did our interview with Daniel Svensson, and then made our way back to the pavilion where Horse the Band was still performing. Dan and I had made it just in time to catch Horse perform “Cutsman”, and from that song alone one thing was clear: the band has a hell of a lot of stage presence. A lot of the crowd really got into Horse the Band’s set, although I did hear some of the metalheads complaining of how “gay” the band was later in the day.

After Horse the Band had left the stage, hardcore favorite The Chariot stepped up. Unfortunately, what should have been a strong performance was crippled by some technical difficulties (which the band later talked about in the interview I did with them). Although things started out alright, the sound quality didn’t hold out and haunted their already short set. At one point singer Josh Scogin even crawled under the platform that the drums were on, as if to escape all of the sound problems. A lot of the crowd may have said that The Chariot was arguably the weakest performance of the day, but this was mainly due to the sound issues (and also because death metal fans often seem to hate The Chariot).

Taking over after The Chariot was Behemoth, the death metal outfit from Poland. It was clear that a lot of the crowd had come to see this group, as the number of people standing near the stage had increased by a significant amount. All of the members had their faces painted, and their stage presence was felt by all. In the end though, although the group put on a solid performance and had good material, they were overshadowed by some of the later performances that were still to come.

Next in line was The Black Dahlia Murder, a group which I admittedly was unfamiliar with. This group continued the tour’s trend of having some excellent screamers, showing that their albums clearly aren’t overproduced. The group’s music has some extremely death metal vocals, but the instrumentals quite often jump between death metal and hardcore. Although their set was short, it was enough to peak my interest, and they’re definitely a group I want to keep tabs on in the future.

After The Black Dahlia Murder had finished playing, Dan and I set out to meet up with The Chariot’s manager Dan Owens in order to do the band interview. When we arrived at the group’s merch booth, Dan told us that the guys were hanging out backstage and were going to watch Converge, and that we would need to come back later. Terror had just taken the stage, so we headed back and watched them. In all honesty, Terror was the most hardcore band there (in the sense that their style of music is more traditional hardcore). They had great stage presence and their vocalist Scott Vogel bounced around the stage a lot (which made him rather difficult to take decent pictures of). The band’s new album, Always the Hard Way, was only days away from releasing the day of the show, so most of their live set was focused on material from this album. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that Terror was one of the highlights of my day, even if they weren’t what the majority of the crowd was there for.

Converge was the next band to take the stage, and did a fine job. A friend of Dan’s who had gone to an earlier SOTU show had said that Converge did a horrible job, but at this particular show they sounded pretty damn good. But overall, the band just didn’t have as much of an impression on me as they should have (which is likely why I am having trouble remembering specific details about their set).

After Converge was done, I headed back to The Chariot’s merch booth and was escorted back to the mess hall of sorts to interview the band. Once that was over with, GWAR was still on stage. I’ve never experienced GWAR live before, and it certainly is a sight to behold. The entire performance is one big stage show, with excellent heavy music to boot. Highlights of GWAR’s set included the killing of a George Bush look-alike during “War Party”, the unveiling of the giant dinosaur Gor-Gor, and a monster gushing out fluids from a fake penis. All the while, the crowd was constantly being drenched with various liquids and loving every minute of it. After GWAR’s set Dan and I took some time out to go chase Horse the Band down and interview their singer Nathan before heading back to see who was on next.

As if GWAR weren’t enough, death metal icons Cannibal Corpse followed up with an extremely performance. Perhaps it is because they have been around for so many years, but few of the bands on this tour had the stage presence that Cannibal Corpse did. The vocals were just as raspy and deep as on the group’s album, and Cannibal Corpse had the second largest crowd response (which had only been topped by the almighty GWAR).

Trivium was up next, and in my opinion they were the weakest band of the entire show. This isn’t to say that any of their material is bad, but the vocals just weren’t that great, and weren’t on par with how everything sounded on their album. For whatever reason everyone still liked the group a lot though, even if the clean vocals could’ve used a lot of work. They also covered Master of Puppets by Metallica, which I later found out that they play almost every single show.

The day was starting to wind down as In Flames took the stage, and all eyes were on them. The group was as tight as ever and mainly focused on their new material from the album Come Clarity, much to the disappointment of some of their longtime fans. Although they did play “Trigger”, the general consensus was that they could’ve thrown in one or two more old songs (although they have retired a lot of the older songs over the past couple of tours). Either way though, the group had an excellent set that showcased that they’ve still got it.

Sounds of the Underground came to an end with an extremely impressive showing from heavy-hitter As I Lay Dying. They played hits from their latest album such as “Confined”, some older songs, and even some newer material as well. If I remember correctly, AILD’s singer Tim said that a new album should be out sometime next year. Another cool element of the band’s stage show was that they had lots of flashing lights and they had multiple banners that they used throughout the course of their set. As they were the headliners, AILD got probably the longest set there, giving them time to play all of their hits and then some. All in all, it was a great way to end the night (although sadly they were unable to do an interview with us at the show).

Overall, the Sounds of the Underground show was an extremely solid one that had more standout bands than most tours can ever get together. All of the bands were heavy, which gave an overall common theme to the tour, and the fans seemed to appreciate it. Although the tour ran into the beginning of Ozzfest, those who chose to go to SOTU were most likely not disappointed. I know I wasn’t.

I would like to take this time to thank everyone that made it possible for Cosmos Gaming to cover all of the aspects of this show. First off, I would like to thank Brian Rocha and everyone else from Adrenaline PR as well as Kelli Malella from Metal Blade Records, who provided us with the tickets and press pass. Secondly, I would also like to thank the bands we talked to and their tour managers for helping us do the interviews.

Interviews:
In Flames- http://www.cosmosgaming.com/music/music-interviews/in-flames-interview/

Horse the Band- http://www.cosmosgaming.com/music/music-interviews/horse-the-band-interview/

The Chariot- http://www.cosmosgaming.com/music/music-interviews/the-chariot-interview/

Photos (Bands Listed in Alphabetical Order):

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