Arts Desk

Photos: Atheist @ Jaxx

Last Friday night, Jaxx may have been the best place to find the highest concentration of absurdly talented musicians in the D.C. area. Florida legends Atheist, featuring a brand-new guitarist who made his debut at Maryland Deathfest, headlined a show full of technical metal bands and enough fast riffage, blast beats and time changes to make any metal nerd happy. Atheist was great, and visibly looser and more confident than their somewhat tentative show at MDF back in May. Their setlist drew from numerous albums in the band's discography, and other than an unfortunately-timed sound issue that marred "Mother Man" (from the classic Unquestionable Presence), the band was tight and seemingly flawless.

More words and images after the jump; an excessive number of photos can be found at the full gallery.

The highlight of the show for me was Psyopus, whose brutal mathcore was a completely different game from the rest of the bands on the bill, to such an extent that the crowd seemed largely bewildered by them. Psyopus plays the kind of music that inspires criticisms like "that's just complexity for complexity's sake," or, in the more eloquent words of the fan standing next to me, "that wasn't music; that was music getting raped in the ass." Be that as it may, I have a soft spot for twitchy, schizophrenic avant-rock and Pysopus' brand of nerdy metal was hitting that spot repeatedly.

Otherwise, Gnostic was a nice surprise, a new band featuring three Atheist members who are plying their trade in tech-metal that sounds a lot like, well, Atheist, but mixed with some jazzy Cynic-like influences and some modern hardcore vocals. The Agonist, playing Jaxx for the third time in about as many months, had their set sadly mangled by a poor mix that buried singer Alissa White-Gluz's vocals, which are the single aspect of their sound that really sets them apart. The Faceless are one of the better bands in the recent renaissance of young tech-metal bands; they tour seemingly constantly, and it showed both in the number of fans they turned out and in the tight, fun set they reliably deliver.

And now the photos. (More here.)

Atheist:

The Faceless:

Psyopus:

The Agonist:

Gnostic:

Local openers Condemn the Infected:

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