Sirion Play EP Release Show At The Whisky

By Andrew Bansal
[Live photos by Karina Diane] 

February 7th 2014, The Whisky-A-Go-Go, West Hollywood CA: One of the hardest working bands in the Los Angeles metal scene, Sirion have steadily built up their local fan-following through a constant stream of well-selected gigs in and around the LA area during the three years of their existence, specially the year of 2013. They played as opening act to several bigger bands at venues on the Sunset Strip including the Whisky-A-Go-Go, and have made a progression successful enough to reward them with a headline show of their own at the Whisky. Judging by their extensive pre-show promotion, it was clear that Sirion put their entire efforts into this gig, deeming it as their EP release concert and besides themselves, they put together a great lineup of local bands that altogether promised to entertain everyone in attendance. 

Doors opened at 7:30 and the first band Discarnate Motions, which was more of a last-minute addition to this lineup (hence not featured in the event flyer), hit the stage at 7:45. This band played at the Roxy last year opening for Amaranthe, albeit under a different name ‘Sign Of Sirin’. They put on an impressive performance on that occasion, and were even better last night. The quartet seem to have naturally developed as a group of musicians. Their brand of extreme metal is hard to define or describe under a standard genre, but it consists of several elements that portray a combination of aggression and melody, and was well executed last night. The vocalist brought forth a great amount of energy and did a good job at laying down the lower-register and higher-pitched growls as well as clean vocals. His stage presence allowed his band mates to just focus on playing their instruments, which they were excellent at. The usage of the six-string bass adds an extra dimension to the sound as well. Even though the band played to an audience that was small in number at this point of the evening, their set was unanimously appreciated, and they will undoubtedly get better time slots in future gigs.

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Next up was blackened doom trio Ancestral Awakening, a lot different from the opening act. Their tunes mainly comprised long instrumental passages, with occasional low and high-pitched growls by the bassist and guitarist respectively. Three-piece bands require all members to shine individually and collectively when it comes to their on-stage musicianship, and this band certainly had that going for them, as these kids left no stone unturned in showcasing their talent. The trio succeeded in delivering a monstrous sound, and at times, their dark instrumental passages were reminiscent of Opeth in their glory days, which aptly puts the name Ancestral Awakening into perspective. Announcing the song titles in a growling voice was perhaps the only negative aspect associated with this set of theirs. Extreme metal doesn’t need vocalists announcing titles like that. In the humble opinion of this reviewer, they’re better off doing it in a normal voice and saving the growls for the songs themselves. But other than that, it was a very impressive extreme metal exhibition from Ancestral Awakening.

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The third band to hit the stage was Mutalisk, who started out with a fast-paced death/thrash metal tune, but then changed tempo altogether and brought out some very proggy jams, even though the death metal element was still largely intact. Based out of Ventura, this is another band that’s been playing local shows regularly. This time they came out with an almost completely different lineup, with three new members on guitar, bass and drums. Besides their technically efficient musicianship, they were the first band of the evening to bring a visual aspect to their performance with some funny stage antics and facial expressions, which provided a balancing touch to the dark, serious nature of their music. Ventura seems to have been producing some great musical talent in recent times, and Mutalisk is definitely one of them. Their new lineup gelled well together on stage, and extreme metal fans would be well-served to check them out.

Mutalisk - photo by Karina Diane

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As the show moved along smoothly with such excellent bands playing one after another and keeping the breaks between sets short, the crowd was rising in number throughout the evening, and by the time Legal Tender took the stage, the turnout here was commendable for an all-local show. Legal Tender provided a much-needed break from the avalanche of extreme metal created by the previous three opening bands, and athough not everyone in the audience appreciated their brand of metal, it was a refreshing change-up. Even before they began their set, two things were immediately noticeable; the fact that the band was playing their first show with new drummer Adrian Aguilar, and vocalist Jonah Nimoy donning a guitar. His new role as lead vocalist + rhythm guitarist had mostly positive repercussions. The two-guitar incarnation of Legal Tender looked and sounded better, even though it might have taken away the energy that Jonah brought as a frontman in past shows. He was bound into standing center-stage for the entirety of the set because of the guitar strapped to him as opposed to running all around the stage, but the new two-guitar attack more than made up for it. They played their ‘Lust In Demons’ EP in its entirety and ended the set with a fantastic rendition of ‘Mr. Crowley’ by Ozzy. They absolutely nailed it, specially Frankie Lindia who played the guitar solos to perfection. In terms of their songwriting, live performance and presentation, Legal Tender have what it takes to succeed, and all heavy metal fans in and around LA must attend one of their upcoming shows to find out why.

Legal Tender - photo by Karina Diane

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Set List:
01. Mark My Words
02. Street Walker
03. Lust In Demons
04. The Paradox
05. Black Market
06. Mr. Crowley (Ozzy cover)

Orange County-based Sorizon hit the stage as the main support act for this show. Amongst the six bands in this lineup, Sorizon have been in existence for the longest period of time with two full-length studio albums to their name and have played a large number of shows mainly in Orange County but some in LA as well. Just like every other band that played before them here, they brought something different in terms of the musical style, with a clear power metal vibe. Their vocalist was extremely impressive with his performance and showcased incredible range with awesome clean, high-pitched vocals typical of power metal bands, transitioning into equally well-delivered low growls. Fans of power metal would certainly find Sorizon to be right up their alley, as they carried out the style very well. If anything, they could do with a couple more faster-paced tunes to make the set more lively. Other than that, a great set.

Sorizon - photo by Karina Diane

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And finally at midnight, the headliners Sirion hit the stage, and following the completion of an epic intro played on the PA, they started off their set with the tune ‘Symmetrical’ off of their self-titled debut EP. By this time, fans gathered on the general admission floor were so eager to get involved that they started a mosh pit even before the song began, which was hilarious to see, specially for those with a vantage point from the balcony.

As expected, they played all four songs that made it onto the EP, but besides, there was a lot more on offer as the set lasted a good 70 minutes and Sirion treated the audience with some killer newer material which came across as equally good and clearly different from the ones on the EP. While the older songs have more of a straightforward melodic death metal vibe to them, the newer tunes incorporate some technical guitar wizardry and progressive song structures as well. Sirion left no one in any doubt about the fact that it was their show, doing just about anything and everything they wanted, including a generous outpouring of light sabers into the audience. Made out of foam and emitting red or blue light, these sabers raised the level of nerdiness in the atmosphere, and at one point there was a massively hilarious fight between bearers of the red and blue as they were parted into two sections and engaged into battle at the command of vocalist Biko Wright.

In addition to their own tunes, Sirion also brought forth a very entertaining cover of Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell’, and coupled with the flashing light sabers in the crowd, it created a very 80s vibe which was perfect for the song. The 11-song set ended with the song ‘Beyond The Depths’, and even though the crowd had thinned out slightly due to the late finish to the set, fans showed their gratitude towards Sirion for a greatly enjoyable evening. Free copies of the EP were offered to everyone in attendance.

Performance-wise, all six members of the band played their roles to perfection. With every show, they seem to get better and more confident of their own abilities, which also clearly shows in their stage presence and nature of interaction with the audience. While every other band laments the pay-to-play system in the Los Angeles metal scene, Sirion comes as one glorious exception, a band that has used the system to build a solid fan base and converted it into this successful EP release headline show. Regardless of whatever musical preferences one might have, Sirion is a band that guarantees a good time, and above and beyond the word of any reviewer, attending a Sirion show would be sufficient to vindicate that statement.

Sirion - photo by Karine Diane

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Set List:
01. Symmetrical
02. To The Howling Dark
03. Blackened Skies
04. Earthmind
05. Interstellar
06. Entropic Equilibrium
07. Rebel Yell (Billy Idol cover)
08. Put It In Your Mouth
09. Ghostbusters
10. Scary Vacuum (working title)
11. Beyond The Depths

Check out more photos from the show below. (Note: If you’re reading this on a device that does not support Flash, view the photos here)