- Robban Kanto via wikipedia commons
- If the impressive lineup for Avatar’s upcoming outdoor show isn’t enough to slake your appetite for metal, legend Devin Townsend will be performing an acoustic set.
The year has already been a strong one for Colorado metal fans, given the area touring stops by Venom Inc., Judas Priest and Electric Wizard, just to name a few. The coming week brings more great news for metalheads of all stripes — well, perhaps not one very particular stripe, but more on that later.
Swedish metal act Avatar is listed at the top of the marquee at the Black Sheep on Monday, June 10, and the “grease-painted... death/industrial/progressive” band (so described by critic James Christopher Monger) released their seventh LP, Avatar Country, in early 2018, which topped off at No. 2 on Billboard’s U.S. Independent Albums chart.
Avatar will be joined by a slew of support for this special outdoor show, including Dance With the Dead, ’68, Fall From Silence, Cull the Herd and Hell’s Circus. Of special note for many is an acoustic set by Devin Townsend, the Canadian multi-instrumentalist behind extreme metal act Strapping Young Lad and an ever-eclectic solo artist.
Townsend’s latest solo LP, Empath, was released in late March 2019. As the name perhaps hints, it’s a sprawling, colorful work that retains plenty of his signature heavy moments while also indulging in some pretty far-out flights of musical fancy. Gentle acoustic moments, ferocious blastbeats, skittering electronics and complex, jazz-inspired instrumental passages all coexist surprisingly seamlessly. The album features guest appearances from guitarist Steve Vai, former Frank Zappa collaborators Mike Keneally and Morgan Ågren, a full women’s choir (which sounds about 500 voices strong in Townsend’s sweeping production) and even, somehow, Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger. Who knew?
Elsewhere, at the Triple Nickel Tavern, you can catch a one-two punch of Southern black metal. The Louisiana-based Barghest and Texas-based Wyrm Chasm are currently in the midst of a monthlong combined trek across the country, and you can catch their alternately vicious and atmospheric sounds on Sunday, June 9.
Speaking generally of black metal, it’s an interesting genre — deliberately difficult and, at its core, repellent of anything remotely approaching mainstream appeal, but one that uses its harsh musical parameters to create infinitely compelling aural worlds for those brave enough to venture within. It’s also a genre that has been steeped in controversy since its inception, with a history of murders, suicides, church-burnings and, perhaps unsurprisingly for an art form concerned with extreme rejection of modern societal norms, extreme political ideology, namely neo-Nazism.
Of course, there are countless black metal bands not associated with neo-Nazism, including notable figures who have strongly and publicly disavowed it, but it remains a facet of the genre that can’t be denied. With a visible rise of fascist sympathies (particularly in online “discourse”) through the United States and Europe, what’s a black metal fan to do?
Well, enter Neckbeard Deathcamp. The band made its debut in 2018 with White Nationalism Is for Basement Dwelling Losers, a seven-track release that features songs such as “Incel Warfare,” “The Fetishization ov [sic] Asian Women Despite a Demand for a Pure White Race,” and “XXXL Obersturmfuhrer Leather Duster.” It’s fairly clear where the band stands on neo-Nazism, particularly its online manifestation. Their approach could possibly be bewildering if you’re unfamiliar with the minutiae of online white supremacists and their applications of “meme warfare” (yes, that is actually a thing) or the consciously lo-fi sonic approach to black metal. But, as with all good satire, the message ultimately tends to transcend the messenger, and Neckbeard Deathcamp succeeds in not only being brutally funny, but impressively brutal in their musical and lyrical assault.
In their brief lifespan, the group has already dropped five releases, including a split EP with Haggathorn. Their latest effort, So Much for the Tolerant Left, features guest vocals from Doom’s Denis Boardman and Bolt Thrower’s Karl Willetts. Neckbeard Deathcamp hits Bar-K with Theories, Dryad and Malevich on “The Free Speech in America Tour” on Saturday, June 8.
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