Words & Photos by Nathan Katsiaficas
Founded at a time when many large labels were folding, it’s impressive to see that 10 years down the road from its inception in 2006 indie label Sumerian Records is still going strong. Even cooler was the label’s decision to mark this milestone with a tour that boasts what is likely the most stacked progressive metal (i.e. “djent”) lineup that you will see this year. Headlined by Sumerian Records staple Born of Osiris, the package boasts support from two more Sumerian veterans, Veil of Maya and After The Burial, as well as label newcomers ERRA and Bad Omens. Beyond the killer tour lineup, it goes without saying that this tour, which sees the return of After The Burial following the tragic passing of guitarist Justin Lowe, is incredibly important to the ATB’s fanbase and I’m sure to the band itself. And if all that wasn’t enough to make you want to get out to a date, it’s also worth noting that this is ERRA’s first tour with their new vocalist JT Cavey (ex-Texas In July). In short: if you’re into the djent, this tour is like Christmas.
It is with that sense of excitement that I headed south to the colorful city of Worcester, Massachusetts and its historic venue The Palladium. Despite the cold and windy weather, fans turned out in droves early to catch local openers on the upstairs stage. The balcony was closed for this show, so things felt pretty packed in the crowd by the time metalcore act Bad Omens emerged on the downstairs stage. I wasn’t sure what to expect from their set as these guys are the newest of the act on the bill, but I was pleasantly surprised by the energy of their performance and frontman Noah Sebastian’s commanding stage presence.
Now warmed up by Bad Omens, you could almost feel the audience’s anticipation in the air for the next act, progressive metalcore up-and-comers ERRA. The band emerged and launched straight into “Alpha Seed” and “Rebirth” off of their 2013 release Augment. This was followed by new tracks “Drift” and “Luminesce” from their upcoming full-length Drift, which is due on April 8th. It was really cool to get to hear vocalist JT Cavey perform older fan-favorite songs for the first time alongside some of the newer material on their upcoming release. If there was ever any question of Cavey being a suitable replacement for former frontman Ian Eubanks, this tour will put it to rest–I for one was completely sold after witnessing him absolutely annihilate “Hybrid Earth.” My only gripe with ERRA’s performance was that their 6-song set was too short–I would’ve welcomed one or two more songs…alas, maybe next tour!
While ERRA had definitely upped the energy in the venue, it wasn’t until After The Burial took the stage that things really got wild. Even before the band had emerged the audience had begun a chant of the band’s initials, “ATB! ATB!” Their set started off strong with “Lost in the Static,” the first single from the band’s freshly released full-length Dig Deep. Technical difficulties forced them to pause after this first song, giving frontman Dan Carle time to regale the crowd with the story of how their merch guy earned the nickname “Shitnap” during a daring truck-stop adventure featuring the late Justin Lowe. As the Carle wrapped up his tale the crowd broke into another chant, shouting “Justin Lowe!” this time around. Perhaps now in better spirits from this tale, the audience proceeded to put the event staff to work during the next track, fan-favorite “Berzerker.” It was like a switch was clicked from off to on–all of a sudden waves of crowdsurfers were making their way up front. This continued through the rest of the set as ATB went on to play “Aspiration,” “Collapse,” and “A Wolf Amongst Ravens.” As the band left the stage and the lights turned back on, the crowd began chanting once again, this time for an encore.
Veil of Maya were on next and did not disappoint, delivering a crushing 11-song set that spanned across their discography. The band came out onto the stage to the opening track “Nyu” from 2015’s Matriarch, and proceeded to play the next four songs off that album before delving into a few older fan-favorites including “It’s Not Safe To Swim Today,” “Unbreakable,” and “Punisher.” While the previous set had seen a lot of crowdsurfing action, things got crazier during this set, with a several fans making several runs up to the front. As usual, the band was incredibly tight in their performance–frontman Lukas Magyar may have just joined on Matriarch but you wouldn’t know it from their performance, his energy and range make him a perfect fit with the band. This, coupled with the antics of guitarist Marc Okubo and bassist Dan Hauser made for one hell of an entertaining time.
At this point everyone had received their money’s worth, but the night wasn’t over yet, there was still the mighty Born of Osiris up next. While many bands would have trouble following Veil of Maya, the gentlemen in Born of Osiris were more than up for the challenge, bringing what might be the best performance I’ve ever seen from them. While they’re great musicians live, I’ve never known Born of Osiris to take themselves too seriously and tonight was no different, with keyboardist/backing vocalist Joe Buras riding around the stage on a hoverboard during the first half of opening track “The Other Half of Me” from 2015’s Soul Sphere. The band followed with a set that would include more new material including “The Living and the Dead,” “Illusionist,” and “Goddess of the Dawn” as well as fan-favorites “Machine” and “Divergency,” from 2013’s Tomorrow We Die Alive, and “Follow the Signs” from 2011’s The Discovery. As a long-time fan, the highlight of the set for me was hearing them play several older tracks from 2007’s The New Reign including “Empires Erased,” “Open Arms to Damnation,” “Abstract Art,” and the golden oldie “Bow Down.” Throughout the massive 16-song set, frontman Ronnie Canizaro and his cohorts looked like they were having a blast, and the crowd did too, especially when Buras took a leap down to the barrier to get up close and personal with fans. The night ended on a high note, with BOO closing things out with fan-favorite “Recreate.” The Sumerian 10 Year tour continues through March 18th (see remaining dates after the photos below). It’s definitely worth getting out to see it if there’s a date remaining near you!
Sumerian 10 Year Tour
2-Mar Tampa, FL The Orpheum
4-Mar San Antonio, TX Korova
5-Mar Houston, TX Walters
6-Mar Austin, TX Dirty Dog Bar
7-Mar El Paso, TX Tricky Falls
8-Mar Mesa, AZ Nile Theatre
9-Mar Los Angeles, CA The Roxy
10-Mar Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades
12-Mar San Diego, CA Soma
13-Mar Pomona, CA Glass House
16-Mar Denver, CO Summit Music Hall
17-Mar Lawrence, KS Granada Theater
18-Mar St. Louis, MO Fubar