Virgin Black – Epicurean – Urn


July 14th 2007 The Rock Nightclub – Maplewood Minnesota U.S.




review by Matthew Haumschild

all photos © by Matthew Haumschild

[The public use of these photos needs written permission]





I admit I arrived late. Cold Colours opened up the show but I wasn’t able to see them due to traffic.


            I haven’t seen a show now for a awhile, so I felt like an outsider going into The Rock Nightclub. Urn was just setting up as I got there. I went to the stage to check out all the gear. Everything seemed pretty standard to me, a-typical gear for an American band, Marshal amps, Gibson Guitars, Korg keyboards, and a drum kit that I had an unusual kick drum. Minutes later, Urn from Chicago started in on there set. The crowd was less than enthusiastic about the band being on stage for I was the only one standing and watching.

            To be honest, I wasn’t paying attention much. The music wasn’t very catchy. I can’t badmouth them because they didn’t suck, they just didn’t exactly stand out. They reminded me of the many local bands I’ve seen. The one part that did stand out was the drums. The drummer was probably the best drummer of the night. He had the skills of a professional drummer; all his drum fills were appropriate, efficient, played with precision, and technical. He is everything I expect in a professional touring band. I could easily see him with a band like Shadows Fall, Katatonia, Megadeth, or any major band to be honest. He’s not the drummer for Node by any means but he’s damn good. I  just focused on him the whole set for he was entertaining me more than the rest of the band was. The actual music was metal and the parts I did like were when the keyboards were blending in with the guitar work which made various parts in some of there songs more melodic, which is great but it wasn’t enough for me to buy a CD.

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            I’ve Seen Epicurean a few times, after all they are from Minneapolis . They recently got signed to Metal Blade Records and for good reason. This band was good. In my opinion, they could give most European bands a run for their money. Epicurean is a cross between an American sounding band and a European one. The guitar work was clearly European for there were many solos, melodic tandems ect. The vocals where clearly American. The tone would be there but no technique or any indication of any vocal training. Not that, that’s a bad thing it just stands out that way. The songs were played very fast, I would call this an American Melodic Death Metal band. Fast, furious and the songs sounded great too. I am actually surprised they’re not co-headlining. Considering what I thought of Virgin Black, Epicurean should have been.

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            Virgin Black is from Australia . Now, it’s not very often when a band from Australia tours. Especially to Minnesota with a band from Finland nonetheless. So yeah, I’m going to give them the time of day because of how far they traveled. I was curious too because the name of the band was cool. Everyone there was telling me on how amazing Virgin Black was, so I was anticipating a good show. After Epicurean got their giant drum kit off the stage, VB came on and the first thing that hit the speakers were, “Shhhh!” “Shhhh!, someone is dying.” My first thought was, yeah, this night is slowly dying. I soon realized that they were a “goth to the core” band. Artsy. They reminded me of Chaos Star (a band I reviewed a few years ago), they were atmospheric and dramatic. VB also reminded me of Aesma Daeva, very artsy. What I mean by artsy is that there wasn’t a standard formula in every song. It would be heavy one minute then quiet the next. The singing would vary from a deep death metal growl to operatic. It sounded good, but the set was boring. With every passing beat, I was waiting for them to get off the stage. I don’t have anything bad to say about them. But, when a band that plays this slow after a band that played really fast, lets just say it didn’t blend very well. I said it at the show, they would sound great on CD when I was in the mood to listen to them. But here, they were just really slow and dull. The majority of the crowd went outside during their set or they just simply left. I was going to stick it out for To/Die/For.


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            After much anticipation, I was ready to see To/Die/For, one of the few bands that has actually had an impact on my life. I saw them get their gear on stage, saw them perform at soundcheck, and watched the band go to the backstage area, shut the door, and I watched as they didn’t come back out. This was about 11:30pm.  Some people left, some didn’t, the die-hards like me weren’t going to leave until we saw them play. Around 1:00am they came out. If it were any other band, I would have left. I was pissed. A lot of people were mad. One of the fans I was talking to had driven 5 hours from Iowa just to them and they had to drive home to work the next day. According to one of the band members from a different group, it had something to do with money and with the promoter although that particular band member wasn’t specific. One of the guitar players came on stage and apologized. At this moment, they would really have to kick my ass for me to write anything positive about this experience. I stood there, with my arms folded. The band went into, “Too Much Ain’t Enough.” Where I unfolded my arms and proceeded to sing along and bang my head. They sounded good, real good, so good that they were in a class all by themselves. They were playing with instruments that didn’t belong to them. I noticed during sound check that the drummer had placed these mangled-looking hi hats on his hi hat stand and I was baffled. I’ve listened to two recordings with that drummer playing and it didn’t sound like he was playing with cracked hi-hats. It turns out, the whole drum kit is borrowed. This drum gear wasn’t allowed in because of customs and security. And both the guitar players and the bass player were using Epicurean’s gear. Even with borrowed gear the band still sounded brilliant. Some of the other songs the band played were, “Hollow Heart,” “Vail of Tears,” Sea of Sin,” “ Live In You,” “Farewell,” Little Deaths,” Dying Embers,” Jaded” (I think), “Liquid Lies,” and “Like Never Before.” I expected more songs. The band played a 45-minute set, which was shorter than Virgin Black who played for an hour, although it seemed longer.


            “Liquid Lies” was the highlight of the show. There was this undeniable energy on stage and with the 30 people left in the room watching. We were all just banging our heads and acting out. The singer was doing some things on stage I typically don’t see any lead singer do, which is actually dancing on stage. It was actually cool to watch. He was drunk, but it was entertaining anyway.


            In the end however, I felt kind of cheated. I was hoping that To/Die/For would have played at least an hour set. If they had came out sooner, they probably would have. I don’t blame the band entirely; there were other factors too. I think if they hadn’t played “Liquid Lies,” “Hollow Heart,” and “Little Deaths,” I probably would have wanted my money back. Granted, it was $10, which was ultra cheap for a show, but I really thought that the headliner would play a longer set. Not to mention, the band was absolutely brilliant live. That would have been one of the best shows I’ve ever seen if they had played two more songs. Would I see them again? Without question, absolutely but I would have to know that they were going to play a long set. To/Die/For is very addicting. In the past, after a show, I typically didn’t want to listen to the band I got done seeing, at least not on the way home. Not this time. I haven’t listened to anything else since.

Matthew Haumschild   16.07.2007 

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