CMJ week, as loaded as it is with high-quality concerts and not-to-miss bands, very often presents its attendees with difficult choices about which shows have to be seen and which ones can be passed over. Wednesday night, however, offered only one option to the metal fans attending this year’s iteration of the music celebration. Everyone in the know headed to Brooklyn, to a former brewery known now as The Wick, and packed the small brick building for Metal Insider’s showcase of pure talent and excellence.
Toothgrinder started off the night with a merciless set, plowing through the entirety of their new EP Schizophrenic Jubilee for the eager crowd. It took about four seconds for the first pit to form, and that pit lasted for most of their set. The Jersey-based progressive outfit was all over the stage, with lead singer Justin Matthews at one point climbing up a giant set of free-standing speakers and screaming his guts out while perched on top of them. It was an extremely impressive live show, and the audience was going wild over them. Schizophrenic Jubilee is out on November 4th via Spinefarm Records, but 50 lucky people in the crowd last night got it for free before its release. Needless to say, everyone else was jealous.
Black Crown Initiate continued the madness with their interesting brand of death metal. Let me first say that guitarist/clean vocalist Andy Thomas is the first person I’ve ever seen that can simultaneously headbang and beardbang, which was quite amazing to witness. Even more awesome, though, is Black Crown Initiate’s highly unique style. Imagine a traditional death metal band in the vein of Bloodbath that added Katatonia-style ambient passages into their music at various points, and it should give you an inkling of what Black Crown Initiate sounds like. The crowd was definitely into it, keeping the energy high during the quieter sections and totally letting loose when the death metal kicked back in. The only band that I’ve seen do anything remotely similar to this is Between the Buried and Me, and considering how big that band is, Black Crown Initiate is in very good company.
The two-man project known as ’68 followed. If you’ve never seen Josh Scogin perform live, you need to make sure you go to the next ’68 show that happens in your area. The former frontman of The Chariot has lost known of his skill for creating chaos while on stage. Even as just a two-piece band, ’68 rocked the stage just as hard as every other band on the bill. Displaying all of the acrobatics that he utilized in The Chariot, Scogin utilized the entire stage space and kept the crowd engaged from start to finish. ’68’s chaotic, progressive, and technical brand of hardcore needs to be seen to be believed, as the duo manages to almost perfectly reproduce songs from their recorded material in a live setting. The only thing that comes close is, of course, a live performance by The Chariot, and since that isn’t happening anytime soon, ’68 is a band that needs to be on your must-see list.
Incite closed out the night with a brutal set of their hardcore-thrash fusion. Richie Cavalera stalked around the stage menacingly, pointing out every person in the crowd that headbanged, threw horns, or otherwise got crazy. You could tell that he didn’t care if there were twenty people or two hundred people in the room – his intensity would have been the same. Playing hits from their entire discography, including some from their recently-released third album Up in Hell, the band’s whole set was a rager from start to finish. It’s somewhat surprising that the stage was still intact after Incite was done lighting it up.
2014 was a banner year for the Metal Insider CMJ showcase. The bar has been set very high for 2015, that’s for sure. What bands do you want to see playing our showcase next year? Let us know in the comments, and share your thoughts about how this year went! Thank you to The Wick, Spinefarm Records, The Syndicate, and CMJ for making Metal Insider’s showcase not only possible, but such a rousing success!