December 8, 2016 Asking Alexandria Dominate The Wiltern Los Angeles, CA 12-3-16 w/ Born of Osiris, I See Stars, After The Burial, Upon a Burning Body, & Bad Omens
To many heavy music fans, the name Sumerian Records is a household name. An independent company and more recent additions to the Heavy Metal music label world, since being founded in 2006, they have signed an impressive list of bands. Amazingly, it has been a decade since their formation, and in celebration, they are currently presenting America with the 10 Years in the Black Tour. Featuring some of their most popular acts, kicking off October 25th, the run was headlined by Asking Alexandria with support from Born of Osiris, I See Stars, After The Burial, Upon a Burning Body, and Bad Omens.
A killer and diverse lineup, they brought the fun to Los Angeles, California on Saturday, December 3, 2016. One of the label’s hometowns, the other being Washington DC, the hosting venue would be none other than Los Angeles’ The Wiltern. One of the final days of the lengthy tour, Asking Alexandria returned to The Wiltern once again with the magic of Vocalist Danny Worsnop reunited at the reigns after a brief hiatus to pursue other projects. An exciting revelation for fans, the other bands on the 10 Years in the Black Tour hold roots in Metalcore. In addition, they are all arguably the future generation of Metal, with the bulk of acts only existed ten years or less with varied stylistic approaches; notably mixing Progressive Metal, Deathcore, as well as the occasional heavy dabbling of EDM.
Starting the evening off right, early at 6 PM, was the relatively new band Bad Omens. Based out of the Los Angeles area, Bad Omens mix Metalcore with Hard Rock for a dark and ambient sound worth checking out. Currently supporting their exceptional self-titled debut album, the band consists of Vocalist Noah Sebastian, Guitarists Nicolas Ryan and Vincent Riquier, Bassist Joakim “Jolly” Karlsson, as well as Drummer Nick Folio.
Unfortunately, as is the case often for the first opener, due to the logjam of pedestrian traffic, many were still waiting in line outside the venue when they began. Unbendable, Bad Omens proceeded to break in the stage with their modern brand of Metal opening with “Reprise (The Sound of the End)” and “Exit Wounds.” A younger group, their skill level exceeds expectations and the lingering stench of emotion remains apparent after the fact. The two most common under developments with these younger bands in the genre is the lack of balance between the technical and emotional side. Bad Omens perhaps swayed slightly to the emotional side, yet their approach works very well. Carrying on to complete their set with “Hedonist,” “The Worst in Me,” and “Glass Houses,” Bad Omens already have a fanbase that seems to be growing at a rapid pace.
Next up, Texas-based four-piece Upon A Burning Body riled up the stage with their tough-as-nails brand of Deathcore and groove driven Metalcore. Made up of Danny Leal (vocals), Ruben Alvarez (guitars, backing vocals), Tito Felix (drums), and Joe Antonellis (bass), they are veterans of sorts at this point in their career. Having toured extensively and been featured on such festivals as Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival and Vans Warped Tour, they are known for their unforgiving live performances. Proudly promoting their latest album, Straight from the Barrio, Upon a Burning Body are honing their sound and direction.
Opening with “Red Razor Wrists,” Leal’s vocals possessed a decent range while always maintaining aggression and strength as Alvarez’s guitar followed through. Showing toughness and entertaining songs such as “B.M.F.,” and “Scars,” they received a positive reaction. Continuing on with “Pledge Your Allegiance,” the Texan themes and lack of fear kept the crowd’s interest. Even as those cards were laid on the table, newer song “Already Broken” seemed to have much more unique thought put into, showing the band’s growth. Wrapping up the set with well-known cuts “Texas Blood Money” and “Sin City,” Upon a Burning Body succeeded in completely rattling The Wiltern.
Out to steal the show, Minnesota’s quartet After The Burial were ready to go. Together now since 2004, the band dealt with the tragic death of co-founding Guitarist Justin Lowe in 2015. Regrouping and moving forward, they return in 2016 with the powerful new album Dig Deep, their first ever to peak at #1 on Billboard Hard Rock charts. More recently welcoming in new Bassist Adrian Oropeza in place of Lerichard “Lee” Foral, the band looked vital and determined as they took to the stage.
Starting out with “Aspiration” before “Your Troubles Will Cease and Fortune Will Smile Upon You,” Dan Carle’s drumming was a bold highlight as his Meshuggah-esque groove hit in such a progressively creative nature, pushed above and beyond the call of duty. Complemented by a light show of strobes, enhancing the tension and grabbing all’s attention, they played on with new cuts “Lost in the Static” and “Collapse.” At this point, there were silhouettes of flying beer and crowd-surfers in forefront of the stage while the guttural quality of Anthony Notarmaso’s vocals dominating the room and the riffage of Trent Hafdahl planting the seeds to the kingdom. A full and heavy sound, they raged through their set, wrapping up with “Anti-Pattern” and “A Wolf Amongst Ravens.” Sprinkling in new tunes, ranking heavy in the Djent movement, through the ups and downs, the time still seems to be now for After the Burial.
Moving on, sometimes the unexpected happens and a band of an odd nature wins over the hearts of their opponents during the heist. This was arguably the case for Michigan’s I See Stars. Originating in 2006, they seemed to be setting their own path of destruction with their new age genre Electronicore. Now five records into their career, including most recent offering, Treehouse, I See Stars offer one of the most diverse Core-based releases of 2016.
Coming onto the stage, Guitarist Brent Allen, Keyboardist Andrew Oliver, Drummer Jeff Valentine, and Vocalist Devin Oliver were met with a roar from the crowd. Basically, the radical blinking light show with dance party put the final touches on the mix of EDM and Metalcore as they lifted off with “Break.” With a random death vocal edge that definitely sells itself as a one of a kind phenomenon, they continued to mesmerize the audience with “Ten Thousand Feet” and “Running With Scissors” before the ambient “Calm Snow.”
As one of the only bands to have a live keyboardist, it definitely served as a saving grace for them since it would have lost much appeal if all backing tracks took over the scene. While the intensity of the lights made it almost impossible to make out any facial expressions, there was a fair air of care in the radiating and pulsating silhouettes corrupting the stage as they wound down their set with favorites such as “Mobbin’ Out” and “Murder Mitten.”
Onto the arguably heaviest and highest level of intensity band of the night, the time came for Born Of Osiris. From the Illinois area, Born of Osiris have been raiding stages in a full-frontal attack for some time now. Known for their engaging song structures, 2015’s Soul Sphere continued their progression, becoming their highest ranked album to date.
As one of the longest running bands of the 10 Years In The Black Tour, Born of Osiris felt right at home amongst their labelmates. Led by Vocalist Ronnie Canizaro, the band is rounded out by Guitarist Lee McKinney, Bassist David Da Rocha, Drummer Cameron Losch, and Keyboardist/Vocalist Joe Buras. Starting out with older songs like “Bow Down” and “Empires Erased,” the tight guitars cut through the room like razors.
Shifting gears to newer era material, the more atmospheric “Goddess of the Dawn” and “Throw Me in the Jungle” were wedged in before more brutality with “Open Arms to Damnation” as well as “Abstract Art.” Enjoying panning back and forth of old and new, the audience reveled in the finale that included the epic “M∆chine” and roller coaster ride of “Follow the Signs.” Their mix of Deathcore with the progressive tones lends to a fine ear, and while not everyone’s favorite flavor of Metal spawns out of them, much can be appreciated in the execution and experimentation Born of Osiris pursue.
Finally, the greatest unanswered mystery of the night was about to take its place with the recent return of Worsnop to Asking Alexandria. While being dubbed the 10 Years in the Black Tour, and the latest Asking Alexandria 2016 album, The Black, happens to be the only album Worsnop was not a part, the songs were excluded from the set list entirely, and rightly so. Reunited and ready to rock, the anticipation was extremely high in the moments before Worsnop, Drummer James Cassells, Bassist Sam Bettley, as well as Guitarist Ben Bruce and Cameron Liddell approached the platform.
Perhaps some long time fans remembered the Reckless and Relentless Tour back in 2011 where a younger Danny and Lead Guitarist Ben Bruce led the band in an entertaining Halloween night show held at The Wiltern. Five years later, a now shorter haired Worsnop returned with a much more refined approach. Definitely one of a kind in all aspects of vocabulary, his maturity level to let out emotions and connect with audience has grown tenfold, in addition to his singing to match Bruce’s growth as a guitar player.
That all in mind, from first moment the band took the stage, chants of Danny’s name were repeated, as if he were the only one worthy of the role as Asking Alexandria’s singer. Fittingly opening with “Welcome,” they wasted no time going into their most popular songs, following with “Dear Insanity” and “To the Stage.” Taking a moment to allow the room to catch their breath, the spoken word Reckless & Relentless track “Dedication” played over the speakers, acting as a lead into the emotionally drenched “Someone, Somewhere.”
Allowing Cassells a chance to unleash on his kit, the heaviness of “Run Free” came before a more Rock-vibed rendition of “The Death of Me.” Explicitly highlighted by Worsnop’s presence, he showcased the many aspects that make a good frontman, not just with getting the pitch perfect sound, but with natural charisma mixed with personal turmoil. Clearly a compelling figure, the songs meant that much more with him back behind the microphone as they continued with others including “Moving On,” “A Prophecy,” and “Not the American Average.”
Returning to rev up the audience one last time, Bruce and Liddell’s guitar work led everyone into “The Final Episode (Let’s Change the Channel)” as the audience chanted along “Oh my God!” Tearing it up with ultra tight instrumentation, the show came crashing to an end as “A Single Moment of Sincerity” came ringing in. Then, without warning, Worsnop stopped to address the audience, teasing them they were perhaps a little subdued. A challenge to get crazy, the floor broke out into chaos in the final few minutes of their set, making for a wonderful send off.
While, respectfully, Denis Stoff could hit notes and did a fine job with Asking Alexandria, the already established personality of Worsnop makes him fairly irreplaceable. This round of twelve songs led itself to a constantly musically maturing band. The question of why Worsnop has decided to return to Asking Alexandria remains unanswered, but there is no doubt the fans appreciate his comeback no matter what.Photo credit: Sarah Mankoff Photography