Concert Reviews

Over the weekend: Moore, Blindfold the Devil, Born in Winter at the Gothic

Moore, Blindfold the Devil and Born in Winter
Friday, December 11, 2009
Gothic Theatre
Better Than:
A lot of metal shows I've seen.

Blindfold the Devil, a four-piece with the lead vocalist also playing guitar, kicked off its set with its speed/thrash metal sound, which contains more than a dash of early black metal. With vocals clearly inspired by Venom, the music also displayed some heavy Slayer influence. The bassist played Steve Harris-esque triplets, but could actually pull it off, and toward the end of the set, these guys played a song that came off like what can best be described as a thrash ballad -- not sure I've heard anything like that before. That said, mostly the vibe of this group was one of ex-hardcore kids exploring a style of music that challenges their collective musical abilities and they played it like they meant it.

I hadn't seen Born in Winter in years and didn't really recognize any of the band members. I'm pretty sure the singer wasn't the same vocalist for the act's latest album, but you don't judge the quality of a band based on such considerations. The current singer had a kind of soulful charisma to her delivery and stage presence, and she definitely engaged the audience and tastefully dealt with a friendly heckler with grace and dry wit. This outfit is also one of the very few metal bands with two female members. What struck me about the band's set is how yes, each member is skilled and even talented, but this is a band that plays well together and writes songs where there are no masturbatory instrumental displays. A lot of metal drummers, especially in a band as inclined to prog as this one, play too much, but Born in Winter's skinsman really had a feel for the dynamics of the songs, and added to them with truly tasteful flourishes and a rock solid rhythm. "Disappear" was the highlight of the set and the band clearly had fun playing it.

Moore opened with "Blood Rage" and impressed with its strong combination of rock and roll theater and its utterly impressive musicianship. Jim Moore was an oddly compelling frontman whose vocal style reminded slightly of Steve Souza of Exodus. Stylistically, Moore covered a lot of territory from power metal to thrash, doom and more straight-ahead material, but somehow I felt like I was seeing not just some forgotten, great, metal band of old but a solidly realized rock band. Halfway through the show, Moore played a fantastic cover of "Bark at the Moon," with Joe Johnson nailing that crazy Jake E. Lee guitar work. Johnson joked with us and otherwise engaged the audience with good-natured banter, but one thing that may not have been obvious to everyone is the fact that during the lengthier instrumental sections, he went behind the band's banner and let the musicians have the spotlight. The set would have ended, appropriately enough, with "Victory" but everyone, including everyone on stage, seemed to be having so much fun that Moore treated us to their cover of "The Trooper" for an encore.

Personal Bias:
I like any band that seems to care about sounding good.
Random Detail: Joe Johnson was wearing an old Bathory t-shirt.
By the Way: Jim Moore said they would be out at the merch booth after the show to sign anything. While this may be a bit of self-promotion it's also a nod to all those bands who are now famous that always did that after shows and were rightfully loved by their fans.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.