The Metal Sucks/Metal Injection showcase at Europa on Wednesday night began with a towering set from Augusta, Maine’s Last Chance To Reason. The sextet brought their signature gamer-prog to bear on the still-amassing Greenpoint crowd, blasting through super complex arrangements, dizzying synth embellishments, and more odd phrases and tempo shifts than you could shake a stick at. After announcing that they’d recently signed to Prosthetic Records, vocalist Michael Lessard told the crowd, “We’re about to get really proggy on this one.” I was impressed by how much personality he was able to communicate in between songs while remaining hypnotizingly immersed during each one; I couldn’t help but find his movements gargoyle-like, stalking around the stage, his motions making it clear that every inch of his body was going into the diverse shrieks and sustained roars he produced. A vocal stylistic range like that sometimes makes you wonder how many people are actually inside that one body. Finally, before leaving the stage, they announced that Baptized In Blood had had to cancel their appearance due to some unfortunate “border control issues.” Their words, not mine.
Next up was This Or The Apocalypse, who reminded me a little of a way heavier and way less obnoxious Incubus, but probably only because vocalist Rick Armellino bears an occasional resemblance to that band’s frontman Brandon Boyd. Otherwise, the association does them a disservice. They put on a tightly executed set of occasionally groove-inflected metalcore, rife with blazingly fast sweep tapping guitar melodies. Armellino was well in command of the small stage, striking power poses and shedding layers as the set heated up, but he was by no means the only group member working to get the audience into it. The two guitarists and bassist accentuated certain tempo shifts with clearly well-practiced synchronized jumps, and the audience got right into it—of the three acts I saw, these guys were the only ones that got any sort of pit going on the floor.
The last I saw before having to split was an underpowered 40 minutes from Car Bomb. The composition was all kinds of interesting, with weird time signatures, unpredictable phrase lengths, and battering blast beat drumming. And their playing was definitely on point, registering some of the most impressive guitar solo work of the night, but frontman Michael Dafferner’s performance fell flat in contrast to those of the two preceding groups. Add to that testing out a bunch of new material, and the set got pretty tough to follow after the first few songs.
On the whole, the showcase was an interesting counterpoint to Tuesday night’s other Nevermore-centered metal showcase, with a much younger, rawer and less theatrical vibe. Maybe part of that is the difference between Murray Hill and Greenpoint, or the Gramercy Theatre and Europa, but it was cool to see what young, progressive metal looks like in such close contrast to the nostalgia-heavy old-school show of the night before.