Published Aug 12, 2009The concept of offering ten good hardcore bands for $10 is absolutely spot on, but the subjectivity of what constitutes a good hardcore is always up for a rousing debate over spilt beers and saliva spatter at close range. Regardless, spending a Tuesday watching some up-and-comers in the scene, as well as some genre giants, was well worth it.
Toronto's Starring Janet Leigh were easily the first notable band to grace the stage, and grace was the key to their technical metal savagery. Guttural specialist Matt Nimmo left the crowd at 6's and 7's when he asked, "Who wants to hear some hardcore?" as SJL instantaneously ripped into their death metal-imbued, jazz-stinted music that certainly wasn't hardcore. However, it was a nice musical divergence during the night's repetitive tone.
War of Ages claimed to be a metal band — something that lead singer Leroy Hamp attributed to the fact that WOA has two bass drums — but breakdowns prevailed and the cloak of metalcore smothered their sound. Playing heavily from their '08 release, Arise and Conquer, the Pennsylvania five-piece slaughtered their way through a brief but inspired 20-minute set of hardcore rhythms and metal guitar riffin'.
The Ghost Inside's appearance onstage after WOA brought the beginning of a landslide of hardcore music. Their set was furious, menacing, and yet it lacked something captivating. They played heavily from Fury and the Fallen Ones, which didn't really call any attention to arms. Not until they played a new song towards the end of their set did things get moderately interesting.
When Terror took the stage it was refreshing to know that the West coast gods of hardcore were going to rip the Opera House a new two-zone. Vocalist Scott Vogel paced the stage, insisting that his band weren't cool, tough or above the crowd — everyone was just friends. After playing "Spit My Rage," Vogel began to turn into something more inspired, telling the crowd to pack things tight in the pit and getting hordes of people to dive from the stage like a Spanish soccer team does on a pitch. Arms flailed, legs kicked and bodies whirled. Terror's set was unstoppable.
Fresh off of the release of their latest album The Tropic Rot, Poison the Well brought a set that was excellently constructed with songs from the aforementioned album, as well as You Come Before You and The Opposite of December. PTW ripped out classic songs like "Slice Paper Wrists," "Crystal Lake" and "Ghostchant," and serenaded the crowd with their newer and more polite-sounding tracks "Cinema," "Antarctica Inside Me" and "Makeshift Clay You." For a band that's struggled with keeping a permanent roster, they played with the skill and cunning of a group that's been together for decades, never missing a beat or an opportunity to decimate the crowd with their sonic prowess. PTW were the ideal mix of hardcore and melody to end a night that had a ton of tough-guy turbulence, whirlwind leg whips and more crossed arms and ball caps than a G-Unit video.