Words by Sean Gonzalez | Photos by Jacki Vitetta
Bands doing full album tours are not a new thing. Norma Jean playing through a legendary release is not new either, having done a tour for O God, The Aftermath in full on tour and Bless The Martyr, Kiss The Child in full on select dates. Redeemer was the next logical album to play through, and a personal favorite release of theirs since being introduced to the band. Before that, Louisville, Kentucky quartet Greyhaven brought their unique blend of breakdowns, melodies and raw power to the stage. The band recently released their record Empty Black (which has a track by track right here). Including both “Echos and Dust” tracks was a highlight and they got the crowd interested immediately.
Toothgrinder played next and their intense groove metal and atypical time signatures was performed perfectly. Both of their releases, Phantom Amour (2017) and Nocturnal Masquerade (2016), are incredibly dynamic, offering plenty to find every listen. Their show included a mixed combination of tracks, really highlighting their talents with “The Shadow,” “The House (That Fear Built)” & “Let It Ride.” The guitar solo’s were wicked, the cleanly sung parts were soaring and the beatdowns were ferocious. The next act I have reviewed before and I feel genuinely the same about their set as I did the last time, except the crowd was even more incredible.
Gideon‘s first track “Cursed,” (usually featuring Bryan Garris of Knocked Loose) finally moved members of the crowd into a fury of hardcore dancing and moshing. Their pulverizing use of rhythmic breakdowns and howling screams was pure insanity for the crowd, amping them to new heights with each pumping attack. The drums were abrasive and kept everything nice and tight for songs like “Cursed,” “Freedom” and “Prodigal Son.” Hell yea.
The opening notes of “A Grand Scene For A Color Film” off of Redeemer began and I immediately threw a fit. It was really happening. The almighty Norma Jean took the crowd in Denver through an unrelenting and frantic release that debuted all the way back in 2006. The beauty of this record is the ability for the group to blend bombastic breakdowns with melodious part intertwined, like on the crushing “Blueprints For Future Homes” having those unique Cory Brandan-Putnam strained vocals mixed with the visceral yells during the stop and go’s of the guitars. A big highlight was the iconic “tonight the south is on fire!” breakdown that sent the crowd into another dimension of movement. Hearing it live in context of the album brought a lot more weight. It was nice to hear the vocalist’s input on the songs as well, naming “Like Swimming In Circles” as a favorite and adding an emotional story to “Cemetery like A Stage.” The ending track “No Passenger : No Parasite” has always been something I wanted to hear live and I think I transcended my body. Norma Jean did it. They really did. It was also wonderful to see a diverse crowd of people and ages sing, scream and move along to Redeemer. Thank you.