At The Alpine Ventura, Wednesday, October 10.

Southern California’s metalheads and hardcore enthusiasts gathered at the The Alpine Ventura Wednesday, October 10 for a full night of brutal riffs, speedy headbanging, and borderline chaotic circle pits. And with the impressive showcase of talent between all four bands (from the unexpectedly sensational openers to the always brilliant Unearth) audience members agreed; it wasn’t a show to miss.

It is a rare treat to find an opening band that can captivate and instantly raise the energy level in a packed venue as well as Suicide Silence did. The group, up-and comers from Riverside that successfully blur the lines between death metal, grindcore, hardcore, and doom, took to the stage in celebration of the release of their debut CD, The Cleansing. One song from the album (the hard and fast “The Price of Beauty”) vocalist Mitch Lucker proudly announced had already been banned from MTV. Suicide Silence brought a refreshingly inventive twist (complete with Family Guy quotes!) to an often times too closed-minded genre.

But probably the best surprise of the show was the evening’s second band, August Burns Red. Despite being clad in faux hawks and American Eagle polo shirts, their set was a blur of tight riffs, inventive chord progressions, and speedy beats that were impossible to keep from headbanging to. In the deliverance of their passionately complex performance, songs like “Backburner” and “The 11th Hour” were so powerful that they seemed to hang in the air well after the band left the stage. A great surprise, and what’s more, they were able to pull all of it off in flip flops.

Starting with new song “Doomsayer” and then diving face first into the explosive and more well known “Sound the Surrender,” Darkest Hour commanded the audience’s attention with a solid fist. With sincere intensity and technical skill, the band stirred the Alpine’s pit into a maelstrom of flailing arms and legs. Between the fast fingerwork of Kris Norris and the strong, epic ballads expelled by Mike Schleibaum, the richly layered and completely unstoppable guitar solos made their performance a serious force to be reckoned with.

As soon as the fake fog cleared and the stage lights revealed their highly-anticipated silhouettes, Unearth took the stage, and spawned an explosion of eager anticipation to erupt from the crowd. From the first tight-and-speedy chord in “Giles” to the audience’s roaring recitation of “This Glorious Nightmare,” the energy level in the Alpine was so high that guitarist Ken Susi even took to doing pushups between solos. Delivering a full package of finely-tuned brutality, Unearth truly outdid themselves with a sincere showcase of unparalleled and refreshingly un-mainstream metal with massive breakdowns that triggered the crowd surfers to fall like rain.

Aside from the 200 pound body slammers, Suicide Silence, August Burns Red, Darkest Hour, and Unearth certainly did their part in leaving all attendees with a fully satisfying dose of metal at its most inventive and inspiring - along with a fat lip to remember the night by.

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