The Wayward/Imbroglio/Bleak/Rukut/Gloom at The Sidebar

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, May 19, 2014

A little over two weeks ago, I had the chance to check out Imbroglio when they came down to play Baltimore. The group had impressed me back in 2011 with their album Sleep Deprivation which blended fast chaotic grind with slower atmospheric sludge and doom, but I ended up losing track of them after that point. Imbroglio went through a period of break-up and reformed with a new lineup, which also included relocation from Syracuse, NY to Dayton, OH. It may have been a few years since I had last seriously listened to the material, but the chance to see it live was definitely worth it.

Washington D.C.’s Gloom started the night off, and while the turnout was fairly low (this unfortunately ended up being the case for much of the night, no matter how much promotion you do some nights people just don’t seem to come out) they didn’t let this stop them from delivering an intense set. While a lot of bands from the D.C./Baltimore area tend to be fairly well known locally but don’t always seem to make it past that stage, I’ve been seeing a good deal of buzz about Gloom on bigger blogs like MetalSucks which is always a good thing. As soon as they started playing I knew I was going to like their overall sound, as the instrumental work takes the sludge template and adds flourishes of melody and some straight up death metal sections. While the instrumentalists move through all of these different styles, vocalist Bill Calomiris is able to hit high pitched black metal shrieks and lower guttural growls. It looked like he was using all of his energy to hit all of these different ranges during the band’s set, but he was always able to pull it off and I was impressed with the versatility he is able to bring to the table. Gloom played a short but tight set that showcased some of the songs from their upcoming EP, and it was great to see that even though the base of their music is familiar they’re able to put a different spin on things.

Rukut was up next, and although this two piece has been around for several years now I hadn’t come across them before. Like Gloom, Rukut took a whole bunch of different styles and merged them together into seamless tracks. Their mix is a bit different though, as the base of the material is fast paced grind/thrash with much slower sludge breaks. What makes this works so well is the sense of unpredictability, as they would often start off with some of the slower grooves and then without warning launch into extremely fast paced assaults. Guitarist/vocalist Lew Hambley has a lower growl, and what stood out to me the most was how many words she was able to cram into such a short span of time while maintaining this very harsh, abrasive pitch. Drummer Chris Jones deserves a shout out as well, as rather than simply going for the simple slow pattern followed by blast beats it seemed like he was working some different fills and other ideas into the songs to break things up. Like Gloom, Rukut takes plenty of familiar elements and then twists them into something that has a feel of its own, and I was impressed with the way they were able to move between much slower and hyper-speed sections without missing a beat. Now that they’re living in the Baltimore area I expect I’ll be hearing about this group a lot more, and they already have a few shows lined up for the summer that I’m planning on checking out.

After Rukut’s set Syracuse’s Bleak took over. This was the second show they played on this particular day, as they did an afternoon set in Washington D.C. and then drove up to Baltimore for this show. I think it’s cool when bands are willing to do this, as it can’t be easy to deliver such intense performances twice in one day. I wasn’t that familiar with the group’s material but it didn’t take long for it to make an impression on me live, because as soon as they began I was hit right in the face with a wall of sound. Bleak reminds me of acts like Gaza as they have that sludgy hardcore sound that moves from super heavy grooves to fast breaks that hit without warning. If you check out the material the band has online before checking them out live you may notice that it sounds a bit different, as they’ve brought a new singer Skot SunCrusher into their lineup since releasing their most recent split. He fits right in with the bottom heavy sound though, as his screams and growls have some weight behind them and he really helped to up the overall intensity of the set. There wasn’t a whole lot of crowd movement due to the number of people, but I’d imagine if I was watching Bleak in a packed venue everyone would be going nuts. Hopefully they weren’t deterred by the turnout and will come back down this way, as I’d love to see them again.

While Imbroglio’s lineup has changed over the years, original member D.J. Gilbert has kept the band going so there were plenty of familiar elements that I could make out during their set. The group performed with their backs to the audience and proceeded to completely blow me away. Although the core of their music is the familiar grind/hardcore/sludge mix that has become quite common over the years, Imbroglio has a number of distinguishing elements. In between the walls of sound and all-out blasting it’s easy to make out some angular riffs that remind me of some of the earlier metalcore/mathcore bands (before the genre essentially turned into breakdown city), and there’s a bit more melody than you might initially expect. Sometimes this might just come in the form of a quick riff, but there were a few moments where the band slowed things down and delivered sludgier melodies that built up in atmosphere and these sections blew me away. Like most sets that have a real impact on the audience this one seemed to be over almost as soon as it began, but I was really happy to see that the songs that got me into Imbroglio translate over perfectly live and hear some newer tracks that I was unfamiliar with. It’s clear the current lineup has continued to add new elements to the band’s sound, and I’m excited to see where they go in the future.

Baltimore/Virginia locals The Wayward closed out the night, and took things in a completely different direction from the rest of the bands. Rather than going for crushing metal or grind, The Wayward has a sound that reminds me of 90s noise rock with a healthy dose of prog influences. It was definitely an interesting way to end the night, as the songs had plenty of twists and turns that when mixed with the spastic vocals of guitarist Nick Skrobisz gave the set a very different feel than I was anticipating. Some songs would go for a more traditional noise rock approach with angular riffs, while another might turn into an all-out prog jam between the instrumentalists, and that kept me interested in what the band had to offer. The Wayward has been together for over a decade, and I’m not quite sure how I hadn’t come across their material before but have been diving into it since this performance and found plenty to like. I’m curious what the others in attendance thought of their set as they were an interesting choice for this bill, but I definitely appreciated the variation and want to check them out again.





The Wayward-

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