Photographs by Katrina Lat
The room is heated, more humidity than in the botanical gardens. Around the stage, hundreds of people pressing, tacitly acknowledging each other’s personal space, without giving an inch as they lean, shift and push forward. The lights go down. Five men explode onto the stage, seizing their instruments and with a brutal take no prisoners attitude launch straight into Yellow Teeth
A heavy guitar intro crashes over us multiplied tenfold when joined by the rest of the band. Rody Walker leaps into the opening verse with wild abandon
“Passing judgment with haste
and laying to waste those who stand” Yellow Teeth; Volition, 2013
Luke Hoskin’s heavy technical virtuosity soars over the metal soundscape created by his band mates. Adrenaline rises with the ascending cadence of progressive metallic chords. We surge forward. We are a congregation seeking enlightenment and we receive it via the dulcet soaring tones of Walker’s tale of pain and bloodlust from Sequoia Throne. His band-mates blast us with bloodthirsty chords and melodies, not mere accompaniment: this is a dance between principles. We, the audience, are part of it. We push, shove and sway mesmerized Like the music of our youth, this performance is virulent, angry, and driven, but the protest here, tempered by the awareness of adult challenge is purposeful, grown up, and strong. We are under attack from these instrumentals with their blazing guitar solos, and yet embrace the assault. Our confused and wear souls resonate with Walker’s music. It pours into us energizing our young exhausted bodies.
Then, a pause. Walker addresses members of the audience on the balcony; seemingly thinking it was his mother. The rest seems like a moment of utter confusion, and then we are hurled once again into the rock music melee that seizes us all by the throat and refuses to let go until the final chords of Skies, their final number.
We stand quietly and catch our breath. Sweat beading above angry brows, ears ringing, we come back to earth briefly. The venue’s canned music seems totally irrelevant, the light pop music drifting in the air. We stand, packed shoulder to shoulder, a wave of humanity, swaying listlessly. Suddenly familiar chords erupt from the same speakers as the opening lines of System of A Down’s Chop Suey! With tacit agreement we as one begin to sing along. The stage is silent; it is most surreal; the empty stage, the only prop we need. As the last chords die away we glance at one another confusedly. We’re hearing something vaguely reminiscent of nineties era euro trash techno. As if on cue the entire unified audience switches gears from metal head to raver. We sway to the beats, clapping aggressively. Lights flash once, twice, thrice and suddenly there appear five men. Bobbing and weaving, as if we ourselves are conducting a techno symphony we roar. August Burns Red has arrived.
Techno beats transition seamlessly into heavy distortion, an angry beast being unleashed. We are ready. A mosh pit is lashed into existence with the blistering chords and a high-speed drum blast of The Truth of a Liar. Jake Luhrs deep basso screaming extols us into frenzy;
“Allow what’s done to preach new insight to your life.
Hindsight is perfect vision.
The past is easiest to see.” Truth of A Liar: Messengers, 2007
As we thrash tirelessly, the new found restraint of adulthood is momentarily forgotten, we brazenly flaunt the anger of youth, screaming :
“You’ve got your whole life to lead
Wave goodbye to the past” Composure: Messengers, 2007
Accompanied by heavy guitars. JB Brubaker and Brent Rembler lead the congregation of metal moshee’s from a call and response into a breakdown that plumbs the depths of our souls. A brief lull in which Luhr thanks Toronto for the gift of our undying love breaks as he whips us again into a frenzy of motion and desperate movement. The night is a blur of motion and bloodthirsty sound as the room finds its rhythm. All to soon ABR performs the final song from Messengers to cheers and screams. Tired, we begin to mosh listlessly to the carefree beat of the opening bars of Redemption before once again being driven by a brutal breakdown and gut-wrenching beat. As chords cadence and the last held notes die out ABR makes a motion to leave the stage only to be promptly denied by us the audience. We cry and shout for more, demanding in our love. They choose to oblige as once again we dive into the chaos of sound until with our ears ringing to the final arpegiated tones of JB Brubaker (lead guitarist) we go into the night, simultaneously energized but exhausted.