Two of Christian metal,s forefathers, Demon Hunter and Living Sacrifice brought their brand of biblical carnage to The House Of Blues-Cleveland. But before the damage could be done, newcomers on the metalcore scene, The Advent, The Famine and Oh, Sleeper took the stage. It was uncanny however, that all of the bands that were on the bill are Solid State Records label mates – making this feel like a company picnic during the summer, but of course, this isn’t your normal outing with the boys from work.
Winston-Salem, N.C. natives, The Advent, kicked things off to a surprising ovation from the audience and started pummeling away with “Blackout” getting the fans riled up. They then dedicated their next song, “Hanging The Giants”, too all of the hardcore kids out there in attendance. Although they sounded sluggish at first, the people didn’t mind what The Advent had brought to their first ever stop in Cleveland. Before they went on to one of their final tracks, “The Cross”, they announced an alternative Christian church being introduced to The North Coast with Cleveland Hardcore Church (www.myspace.com/clevelandhardcorechurch and www.clevelandhardcorechurch.com.). This got folks cheering and perhaps could be like Michael Sweet of Stryper’s Metal Church out in California. They ended their set with more audaciously loud hardcore before leaving.
Up next were The Famine. Unlike The Advent, they had more death metal and thrash influence in their style as they continued the raucous that was already started. They ferociously shattered the stage performing tons of cuts from their debut release, The Raven and The Reaping, including “The South Will Rise” and “Cut From The Stone”. The people were moshing and yelling for more, giving these guys a warm Buckeye embrace. The Famine gave us something different tonight and hopefully they will return to town for another tour.
Oh, Sleeper rattled the cages of the Cleveland faithful hard with their brute-force of post-hardcore destruction. They rocked loud and got the room shouting, clapping and chanting for more. This group almost knocked out everyone in town with their metallic assault on the senses and kept the heads banging and the fists pumping with stuff like “The Siren’s Song” and “Vices Like Vipers”. Oh, Sleeper had a better time than their previous voyage through The Rock and Roll Capital of The World and hopefully it won’t be their last.
We’ve been waiting more than five years for this moment and now they’ve arrived as Living Sacrifice reunited and brought everything from their long catalogue of music to the masses. It was great to see Bruce Fitzhugh, Rocky Gray, Arthur Green and Larry Garvin back together and embrace this metalcore brotherhood that started the maelstrom that we have currently. They played everything from their 1991 self-titled debut to their last disc in 2003, Conceived In Fire, and the people ate it up like it was going out of style. Fans were also shouting out requests and weren’t denied. Fitzhugh also plugged their Web site (www.myspace.com/livingsacrifice) to promote their upcoming tracks for their untitled 2009 release and asked everyone to get a taste of the new stuff. There was definitely no rust coming from this group as they battered everybody into submission.
Finally, Demon Hunter graced our presence and went straight ahead into a slew of new cuts from Storm The Gates Of Hell. Ryan Clark and the boys rolled out single after single from their latest album such as “Storming The Gates Of Hell”, “Lead Me There” and “I Am You”. It was more like an arena show than a small club concert coming from the feeling that was in the place. They continued on with the new tracks such as “Carry Me Down” and “Fading Away”. Everyone from children, teenagers and adults sang each note amazingly verbatim as the boys in Demon Hunter bellowed them exuberantly. Although they played a ton of new hits, they didn’t disappoint the die-hard old school fans as they brought out “The Soldier’s Song”, “Not I” and “Infected” from The Triptich and their self-titled first release, revving up the entire slightly packed House Of Blues. Demon Hunter gave us more than 110 percent of themselves tonight and how they have such a bond with their people is almost like a religious experience. They didn’t shy away from either old or new that came to see them and this is how a band should treat their audiences.
Demon Hunter and Living Sacrifice rose to the occasion holding the torch high and mighty for all to see as the keepers of Christian metalcore’s flame while newbies like Oh, Sleeper, The Famine and The Advent showed them that they should be passed this phenomenal task for the years to come.