Greg Anderson is known for a lot of things in the heavy metal world, especially his part in Goatsnake and Sunn O))). With the introduction of Southern Lord Records and the recent splash the label has been making in snatching up all the best up-and-coming metal bands, it seems that pretty soon he will be known for manning the label of all heavy labels. At leas, that is the way it seemed after Anderson’s aptly metal-named The Power Of The Riff tour — a collection of pure, unadulterated metal shows that blasted up and down the west coast. The Pacific Northwest has been churning out some healthy new blood into the metal scene, and was appropriately given two dates of audio destruction.

Seattle, WA
2011 – 08/18

Usually, I’m a bit reluctant to see this many bands in one show – let alone this many metal bands. Heavy metal is always something you have to be in the mood for – and for metalheads this is obviously not an issue – for the common man like myself, it can be. But with a line-up as stacked as this, I was pretty much contractually obligated by life to attend.

This The Power Of The Riff showcase was a perfect blend of old and new, with the lineup being reflected by the crowd’s age (though the 21+ tag locked out any potential 13-year-old metal fans that may exist out there in the city).

Winter and Noothgrush are two veterans of the doom metal industry, so when Noothgrush and Winter came out to plod through their songs, the older members of the crowd were in the middle of it, with long hair whipping violently about as the bands mashed skulls ever-so-painfully-slowly in the only style that doom metal knows how. Noothgrush guitarist Russel Kent announced that the last time he was in Seattle was in 1997 at the Velvet Elvis, to which he asked the crowd, “How many of you remember that place?” The crowd provided a smattering of cheers, with one response being on the tips of many tongues: “I was only five!”

Aeges, Masakari, and Alpinist represented the new blood of Southern Lord Records’ life. Largely made up of a much younger demographic, the bands played metal fused with hardcore, or hardcore fused with metal. Nowadays, it is tough to notice the difference. But when the breakdown is heavy and the d-beats are shredding your ear drums, who the hell really cares anyway? German youngsters Alpinist closed out their bombastic set with a slower post-metal song — a very different take from their three-headed vocal-driven shreddage attack.

And bringing it up for the people in the middle were the two veterans ALL PIGS MUST DIE and Pelican. Chicago instrumental-sludge stalwarts Pelican have been around for quite a bit, but compared to Noothgrush and Winter, are still are a bit green behind the eyes. Also, while ALL PIGS MUST DIE may have just released their debut full-length God Is War, the Massachusetts-based quartet includes supreme rage-howler Kevin Baker (The Hope Conspiracy) and master drummer Ben Koller (Converge). Falling in the middle, they also helped converged the two sounds distinctly brought by the different age groups. Pelican have mastered the art of sludge-driven instrumental music that plods along but still retains some hard-driving guitar melodies. ALL PIGS MUST DIE launched a flat out assault on the eardrums. Kevin Baker screamed and yelled into the microphone in the platonic form of rage, hatred, and anger.

Once the dust settled, there weren’t too many people left in Neumo’s. Seven hours of being screamed at will do that to you. But the people that stuck around for Winter’s set were true supporters of the cause. When all was said and done, day one of The Power Of The Riff was one of the more impressive showcases ever seen. Thanks, oh ye of the sludgy guitars, Greg Anderson.

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