Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage, Chicago (US)

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EARTHEN GRAVE / DIVINITY COMPROMISED / DEVIL TO PAY

Date: 10th August, 2013
Venue:
Mayne Stage
Ticket:
$15/20 (€11/15)
Promoter: n/a


EARTHEN GRAVE happens to be a hard-working band that is taking one step at a time, building a growing fanbase via the sincere and powerful live shows. So, it was time for Chicago’s finest classic Doom Metal band to reap the fruits of their effort by celebrating the release of its debut and self-titled album on vinyl via Ripple Records. Ok, the album had already seen the light of the day as a self-release but having it on vinyl could be easily considered as the sole reason to celebrate. It was a nice Saturday evening, so the one-hour drive to the wonderful Mayne Stage should have been a breeze, right? "No", is the answer and the reason was a concert hosted at Soldier Field that was enough to add 45 minutes on the traveling time. So, yes the stress kicked in high levels simply because we did not want to lose the DEVIL TO PAY set.

Anyway, we managed to enter the premises somewhere after the middle of DEVIL TO PAY set and realized that the Lakeshore Dr jam had also taken a toll to the attendance bringing a head-count to an approximate number of 70. And if you consider that almost everyone was standing at a safe distance from the stage, you’ll understand why I was initially disappointed. I say "initially" because the awesome stage set-up of the venue and the sweet sound did more than enough to compensate me. “Ten Lizardmen And One Pocketknife” sounded absolutely fantastic (love the leading riff) and it did not take too much time to convince me to take off the earplugs despite the fact I was in arm’s reach distance from the stage. Yeah, everything was loud but clear without any sign of saturation, something that is common in Metal shows. The high quality of the sound system delivered the riff driven “Already Dead” as Steve Janiak (also in APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE) preached the lyrics with his vintage and slightly harsh singing that may be hiding some southern influences. The almost Stoner “Naked Truth” with the killer guitar leads made me promise to myself to check again DEVIL TO PAY in a future concert because four songs were not enough at all. “Niflheim” from the 2006’s “Cash Is King” pushed the scales towards Doom Metal with the slower and ton heavy guitar work until the bass-driven break increased the tempo in a SABBATH-esque way, dropping the curtain the best way. Apparently the traffic jam took more from us more than just 45 minutes... Put DEVIL TO PAY in your to-check-list right away!

DEVIL TO PAY

Devil To Pay @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Devil To Pay @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Devil To Pay @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Devil To Pay @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Devil To Pay @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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It is true that DIVINITY COMPROMISED were aliens to the Doom Metal background of both EARTHEN GRAVE and DEVIL TO PAY but since they are also in Ripple Records and their debut album is already out, it was really nice having them in the billing. After all, most of the times some diversity is always appreciated. Without wearing my Doom Metal hat, I’ll say that “World Torn” has made a very good impression (check the album review HERE), even though the "Progressive" tag usually works like a turn-off for me. Still, I consider DIVINITY COMPROMISED as a US Power Metal band breathing pretty much the same air with BRAINSTORM, JACOB’S DREAM and, of course, SAVATAGE.

The band kicked off the set with “Children Of A Dead God” and it became obvious right away who would spend most of the time in the limelight. Yeah, Lothar Keller proved to be a confident performer and worked his arse off to get the crowd moving and I think in the end he did it. But the rest of the guys seemed to have chosen to stand in the dark with minimum participation in the onstage action aside from bassist who, in fact, did extremely well on the backing vocals. I mean during the guitar solo I wanted to see Jeff Treadwell stepping in the front to make his presence known, but he didn’t and that was a shame since he is a genuine shredder. Apparently Vito Marchese was not with the band that night, so Ben Johnson was in charge of the keyboards and the second guitar, so he has an excuse for being constantly on stage left for the entire set. And this is also the reason why there were pre-recorded parts, since it would be impossible for one person to be at two spots at the same time.

One song before the end, DIVINITY COMPROMISED paid their respects to one of their main influences by playing a cover take on SAVATAGE’s “Hall Of The Mountain King”. Musically the band did great but there is no way to match Oliva’s performance on this one, simply because he has branded this song with his trademark singing, even though Lothar did great adapting the vocal lines to his pipes. If I was the one to choose a SAVATAGE track, I’d go with something from the Zachary Stevens era whose voice is closer to Lothar’s voice. Anyway, this was a solid performance with  “The Guardians Of Ki” and “The Loyal Shall Inherit” as the highest moments of the set (aside from the SAVATAGE cover) and I believe DIVINITY COMPROMISED will do very well in ‘ProgPower USA”, especially if they spice things up their onstage presence.

DIVINITY COMPROMISED setlist:

01. “Children Of A Dead God”
02. “The Way Home”
03. “The Guardians Of Ki”
04. “When Myth Becomes Truth”
05. “Termination Sequence”
06. “The Loyal Shall Inherit”
07. “Hall Of The Mountain King”
08. “A World Torn Apart”

DIVINITY COMPROMISED

Divinity Compromised @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Divinity Compromised @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Divinity Compromised @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Divinity Compromised @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Divinity Compromised @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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There was already a nice buzz inside Mayne Stage and I think it’s fair to say that DIVINITY COMPROMISED had something to do with this. EARTHEN GRAVE have managed to attracted quite a crowd aside from the friends and family who are always present where the band is onstage. Right on schedule, the lights were dimmed and Rachel Burton took her spot on stage left. I have seen EARTHEN GRAVE with and without Rachel and even though in the beginning it felt I was watching a different band, the most recent performances have changed this impression. In fact, after every show I find myself thinking that "this was the best EARTHEN GRAVE show" until... next time.

The setlist opener was “Earthen Grave” and that was a perfect choice since its beginning comes like an intro until the powerful scream states "it's Doom time". Mark Weiner has walked many miles since the self-release of the debut introducing more power and character to his singing. As I said the sound quality was top notch, so the clean-guitar break with the violin lead was awesome. Rachel brings a lot to the band and to tell you the truth each and every time I am impressed by her passion playing Metal music taking under consideration her Classic music background.

Almost everyone had left the spots way in the back, so by the time “Beneath A Shovel Load” had kicked in, the front of the stage was nicely packed. Yeah, there was a friendly atmosphere and Mark’s easy-going attitude made it even better. After all, you simply cannot say ‘no’ to this big guy who puts his heart in every single note that comes from this mouth. Ron Holzner and the new drummer Chris Wozniak kept the rhythm tight as hell while the two axemen were doing their magic standing on the two sides of the stage. Although I have to admit that Jason Muxlow is still sitting on his spot almost drawn in the dark and rarely moves couple of inches. While trying to get a good photo of him, I started feeling like chasing sasquatch (just joking) because it was insanely rare to see him behind his hair... My personal favorite “Blood Drunk” (I love the vocal melodies here) passed the baton to “Titled World” and then the band apart from Rachel stepped off stage. We were up for a special treat that night, so Chuck Bontrager, and Rachel’s sister, Hannah, came onstage and blew us away with an awesome version on METALLICA’s “Master Of Puppets” and let me tell you that I got goosebumps during the violin solo served by Rachel. Keep in mind I have watched APOCALYPTICA live and this version was equally awesome!

The momentum gathered by the METALLICA cover climaxed with the great RAINBOW cover “Stargazer” that keep in mind is included in the Ripple Records' edition of the band’s debut. As expected, there was a lot of singing along and I saw many fists and Metal-horns raised in the air during the extremely catchy vocals during the chorus. The new song “Death Is Another Word...” was also included in the setlist and raised the expectations for the next EARTHEN GRAVE album while “Fall In” featured more sing along during the Ron/Mark chorus led part. The powerful combo of “Death On The High Seas” and “Dismal Times” did push raised the energy levels a little more (even though it was getting late at least in the US standards) so the two covers on PENTAGRAM’s and BLACK SABBATH’s “Relentless” and “Children Of The Grave” dropped the curtain into a most successful night that was a perfect fit to celebrate the re-release of the band’s debut.

The band stepped over the stage to greet as many people as possible especially in front of the merch-stand where the vinyl edition of the album was selling fast. Make a note that the vinyl edition of the album looks and sounds awesome and made the CD edition obsolete. Well done, guys!

EARTHEN GRAVE setlist:

01. “Earthen Grave”
02. “Life Carries On”
03. “Beneath A Shovel Load”
04. “Blood Drunk”
05. “Titled World”
06. Violin Solo
07. “Stargazer”
08. “Death Is Another Word...”
09. “Fall In”
10. “Death On The High Seas”
11. “Dismal Times”
12. “Relentless”
13. “Children Of The Grave”

EARTHEN GRAVE

Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Earthen Grave @ Mayne Stage (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Date: 10th June, 2012
Venue:
Mayne Stage
Ticket: $23 (€18)