Ah, Music City. Where else can you gather with all the single ladies and run this town with Beyoncé and Jay-Z on a Thursday, shake it off with Taylor Swift on a Saturday, and then beat the hell out of your closest hardcore friends somewhere in between on a Friday? Well, if you happened to be in Nashville, TN between August 23rd and August 25th you could have done all of those things, but if you were at the Gideon, Polaris, Varials, Chamber, Nothing Left and 30 Nights of Violence show at The End on Friday night, I doubt those other shows were high on your itinerary.
Bubbling just under the surface of a country music filled landscape that stretches from the record label offices of Music Row to the dives of Broadway, a tight-knit and thriving metal and hardcore community showed up at The End to throw down to a stacked lineup that kicked off with a last minute addition, hometown boys 30 Nights of Violence. Fists and feet were flying the second they began and the unsuspecting kids lining the stage quickly made their exit and cleared the way for the moshers to do their thing. 30 Nights of Violence’s ferocious set consisted of songs off their forthcoming EP which was announced in early August via their Instagram account @thirtynightsofviolence. They definitely set the tone and the bar for the brutality that was to follow and the crowd was more than eager to participate.
Up next was another fairly new band, Nothing Left, a hardcore band formed in late 2016 by brothers Ryan and Brandon Leitru after the disbanding of the band For Today, adding singer Danon Saylor from A Bullet for Pretty Boy, bassist Devin Henderson from Take It Back and drummer Alex Camarena from Silent Planet. Nothing Left immediately launched viciously into the title track off their debut EP, ’Destroy and Rebuild,’ with Saylor motioning to the pit to close in while he roamed the stage like a rabid dog. The band continued to burn down The End as it moved on to “Burn It Away,” a chugging, upbeat number that whipped the pit into a frenzy, a common occurrence throughout the night that never seemed to diminish, no matter how sweltering hot it became inside the ever-shrinking venue. Nothing Left feverishly marched through the entire ‘Destroy and Rebuild’ six song EP leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. I wasn’t sure how the crowd would have any energy left for the remaining bands, but I severely underestimated the potent combination of youth and testosterone. Go check out ‘Destroy and Rebuild’ by Nothing Left on your favorite streaming service, especially if you’re already a fan of the members’ other bands and that early fast paced hardcore sound.
Third on the bill was Nashville band Chamber, who, before their set, brought a warning to the crowd, “This is a Nashville hardcore show.” Meaning, if you don’t wanna get hurt, move to the back, and before they played a single note the windmills were spinning, the spin kicks were flying and the stage divers were airborne. I’m not quite sure how to describe Chamber’s sound. They reminded me of Code Orange . . . only faster and more violent. The vocals range from a shrill scream, courtesy of guitarist Gabe Manuel, to the guttural death metal growl of vocalist Sam Fleming. Chamber’s setlist consisted mostly of songs off their March 2018 EP, ‘Hatred Softly Spoken,’ but there was nothing soft about songs like “Severed” or “Vessel” and the hometown crowd still had the energy to match the violence coming from the speakers. Chamber’s EP is available on Spotify and Apple Music or online at bandcamp.com, search for “chambertn.”
Up fourth was Philly five-piece Varials, bringing their bruising flavor of metalcore to the stage, opening with “The New Damnation” off of their latest album ‘Pain Again.’ Varials is a band on the rise as part of this new wave of metalcore, alongside bands like Knocked Loose, Jesus Piece, Kublai Khan, Left Behind and Code Orange, just to name a few, and their popularity was apparent in Nashville as I spotted more than a few Varials shirts throughout the night. Of particular interest that may have gone unnoticed during Varials’ set was the addition of Lorna Shore drummer Austin Archey filling in for Sean Rauchut on this run of dates (for reasons I haven’t been able to discover). Side note, if you’re a fan of deathcore and superb drumming, check out Austin and his bands just released single “This is Hell.” Without giving the pit a chance to catch their breath, they moved onto another crushing track off their latest album called “Anything to Numb.” Varials continued with the brutal beat down of downtuned guitars and Travis Tabron’s staccato like vocal delivery with new songs “E.D.A.” and “Empire of Dirt,” which features Bryan Garris from Knocked Loose on the album. They wrapped up their seven song assault with the track “Savage” off their 2015 EP ‘Failure//Control’ and the crowd found another gear of insanity as body after body went flying from the stage. Varials hits the road again this fall with Counterparts, Being As An Ocean and Have Mercy beginning September 20 through late Oct. Check out their Facebook page @VarialsPA for a complete list of dates and make sure to check out a show if they come near your town if you enjoy your metalcore heavy and your ass being kicked!
Coming to the stage next was Australian metalcore band Polaris, who was playing the US for the first time during these August dates. Polaris’ song “The Remedy” had been receiving a lot play this spring and summer on SiriusXM and after picking up their November 2017 release ‘The Mortal Coil’ and their 2016 EP ‘The Guilt & The Grief’ I was stoked to be able to catch these guys live; however, due to complications in the visa process, guitarist Ryan Schneider was unable to accompany his bandmates to North America, so filling in was another Lorna Shore member, guitarist Connor Deffley. Leaning a little more towards the melodic side of metalcore and eschewing the overuse of breakdowns and downtuned chugging, Polaris’ set provided the now at capacity crowd a chance to breathe and let their guard down, as opposed to dodging right hooks and spin kicks. Launching right into “Lucid,” lead singer Jamie Hails led the crowd in the first of many singalongs with the catchy chorus “So here I am for what it’s worth, I spilled my blood against the earth, Just to see the world in color!” Next they played the only track off ‘The Guilt & The Grief’ in their set, “Regress.” By this point the mood and the energy of the crowd had shifted from full on mosh pit to bouncing and singing in unison but the intensity was still at peak levels. Polaris went on to finish their set with four other songs off their latest album, “The Slow Decay,” “Frailty,” “Consume,” and of course concluding with crowd favorite “The Remedy.” Polaris is currently part of a huge metalcore tour that’s in the middle of a month long North American run, opening for The Devil Wears Prada, August Burns Red and headliner/fellow Australians Parkway Drive, giving them what can only be positive exposure to a boatload of new fans across the United States and Canada and accelerating their already growing popularity amongst the metalcore community. These dates are apparently selling fast so make sure to grab your ticket if you intend to catch this tour that ends later this month. My prediction . . . look for Polaris to breakout and headline the US in the years to come.
Tired yet? No? Good, because Gideon, the boys (originally) from Tuscaloosa, AL, hit the stage next to extract every last ounce of blood, sweat and beer from the packed house. Gideon came out firing on all cylinders with “Freedom,” a track off their May 2017 album ‘Cold,’ which features Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed fame. You can clearly hear the Hatebreed influence throughout Gideon’s catalog not just musically but thematically as well. Gideon’s entire set was one big riff slugfest after another as they moved from “Calloused” into the up-tempo “Prodigal Son” before front man Daniel McWhorter took a moment to share his fondness for The End saying how he grew up playing there and the venue across the street, Exit/In. Gideon then continued the onslaught of heavy with “Survive,” “Bad Blood,” and “Pulling Teeth” much to the revived pit’s enjoyment. I don’t know where they found the energy six bands later but that’s the magic of Gideon’s stirring brand of metal. Like the lyrics from their next song, “Champions,” it inspires you get up when the chips are down and “seize the moment, all or nothing.” Gideon concluded the long night of sweaty savagery with one of their more popular songs, “Cursed,” which also happens to be the second song of the night to feature Bryan Garris from Knocked Loose. If you happen to find yourself in Australia in early November, Gideon will be alongside Thornhill supporting The Devil Wears Prada and headliner Polaris in their home country for a quick five date tour. Make sure to check out Gideon online via their social media accounts and on all of your favorite streaming services, but more importantly get out to a show and pick up some merch to ensure your favorite heavy bands can continue to make the music we all love for a long, long time!