GSA Writer Contest, Entry #2: Five Bands You Have To See Live By Xander Harrison

Guest Column

Today, we continue our second annual writer’s contest, with the second of three entries we’ve dubbed worthy enough for publication and consideration by you, our readers.

We launched the contest last year because we are getting resumes all the time from people seeking employ with GunShyAssassin. Well, no one gets paid here, so we figured we’d just host another contest for aspiring writers who wanted exposure. Guys like Sean Harris, last year’s winner. The response to the contest — while not nearly as impressive as last year — was decent.

We’ve narrowed the field down quite a bit, and will be running one entry a day. Then, on Friday, we’ll ask readers to vote on the best entry in this year’s contest, which will weigh heavily in our final decision. Next up is Xander Harrison

Live shows are almost always great. And when people inevitably ask me, “What are your favorite bands to see live?,” I almost always get stuck. Each gig has its own ambience that is hard to categorize or rank. BUT! This is not why we’re here! I’m going to tell you what bands I have seen, that you need to see because every time I see them, a little more face melts off of my head. Of course, I could ramble for days about this, but here are my top 5 bands that you need to check out and see, if you haven’t already.

1. Devin Townsend
One of the most creative people in the metal world, you only need to watch the “By a Thread” and “Retinal Circus” DVDs to know that you need to go see this man play. The absolute lunacy that Devin’s shows contain, and not to mention a flawless repertoire of songs he can draw from, make him the top of my list. I am convinced that Devin is actually a god. I literally cannot say anything else. Go see that shit. Right now. Fucker.

2. Sabaton
War! Fire! Death! The kings of war-themed metal are also fantastic live, but we all expected that, didn’t we? I saw them with Eyefear, who are a local band from Melbourne — highly recommend you check them out, and Robban (Sabaton’s drummer) sung “The Book of Heavy Metal,” originally by Dream Evil, with Eyefear. I don’t know if that’s common practice for Sabaton, but it was fantastic. Joakim has an excellent stage presence, an even better voice, and just like most Swedish frontmen, is very sarcastic, and will tear down hecklers in a hilarious way. Cannot recommend Sabaton highly enough.

3. Lamb of God
These guys were my favourite band for years until Devin kicked them down to second, and when I finally saw them, they did not disappoint. From Randy’s obliterating vocals to Chris not even using a click track and still being an absolute beast, Lamb of God bring a presence that no band can equal. Combine that with the supreme riffage in all of their songs and you’ll be banging your head so hard you think it might snap off. Heavy as balls, a lot of fun, and just plain awesome, Lamb of God are at the top of their game, and you need to be able to see that live to truly appreciate it.

4. Psycroptic
Reppin’ Australia comes Psycroptic, our premier tech death band. Their vocalist Jason is a sweet dude to hang out with, and has a phenomenal voice. Joe Haley (leads and songwriting) never disappoints. The first time I saw them; even from Jason’s sound check I knew they’d be just as good live. And they did not disappoint. Lots of The Inherited Repression, as is to be expected, but then they played Scepter of Jaar-Gilon and I lost my shit. What a fantastic band. You love tech death? Get your ass down to one of Psycroptic’s shows.

5. Rotten Sound
Rotten Sound have a special place in my heart as the band that truly got me into grindcore. Fast, brutal songs with more than a dash of talent in all of the instrumentation, and yet, still catchy. As with all grind shows, the pits are vicious, and be prepared to have clothes torn. I walked away from that gig with the most massive rip from the ass of my pants down to my knee. Keijo Niinimaa is one of the nicest dudes in metal I’ve ever met. In fact, I bought my RS shirt from him during Obscene Extreme Oz, and previously my Nasum shirt when he sang for them during their farewell tour. One of the best grind bands out there, and one you should most definitely experience live.

You might not be into some of these bands, and that’s cool. You’re just wrong. It’s ok to be wrong sometimes. But these bands kick ass, both on recording and live, and I reckon you need to experience both to fully appreciate a band. It’s why I don’t trust people who say, “Oh, I don’t like going to gigs.” Pro tip: there’s something wrong with those people.

Hit them with a hammer.

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