The Righteous Anger Tour
For Today / Man Of Sorrows / Saving Grace
4 October 2008
Parque El Llano, Oaxaca, Mexico
With three weeks travelling around Mexico to look forward to, I had done a little research to see who was touring at the time. A bunch of bands I’d seen at Bloodstock (Dimmu Borgir, Destruction and Helloween) were in the country, but never in the same town. Annoyingly there was an all day event the day we were flying back from Mexico City headlined by Nine Inch Nails and Stone Temple Pilots. Bumping into Trent Rezner in the lift of my hotel rubbed salt in the wound!
However, on wandering around the town of Oaxaca, we encountered a number of posters advertising a free concert entitled the “Righteous Anger Tour” in the local park the same day. The design and photos on the poster indicated that metalcore was likely the order of the day, so it was out with the town map and off to the show.
For a free show, a rather impressive stage had been set up in the park and a local band of school kids were bashing away on stage when we arrived. They were quickly followed by a much more proficient local band who’s name I never managed to obtain. However noting the timings, we made a quick stop back at the hotel to drop of our bags and return for the main bands.
Having identified For Today guitarist Mike from the poster, we discovered from him that the short tour of Oaxaca state featured two bands from the USA, but first up was New Zealand band Saving Grace.
Now having spotted the huge X on the shirt of vocalist xNikx (more clues there), it was pretty obvious that straight-edge hardcore was heading our way. However, when the three bands congregated around the drum riser for an on stage prayer, suddenly the penny dropped with regards to the “Righteous Anger” tour name. This was a Christian tour.
Now whilst this was my honeymoon, I am an atheist and had just got married with a non religious ceremony. This however does not preclude me from listening to music of other beliefs be they Satanic, Krishna or Christian. There is however a certain stigma in the metal world with regards to Christian metal and indeed many bands do not shout too loudly about their belief. My bet is that most at Bloodstock were completely unaware As I Lay Dying are Christian and hence were more bothered with them being Metalcore.
Back to the gig though and Saving Grace are a band that do not remain quiet about their beliefs. It’s hardly surprising as bands in this genre of heavy hitting hardcore do tend to ensure their message is clear in the live environment. Between each song guitarist xPigx took time to explain the meaning of each song, which was duly translated into Spanish for the audience by a young girl. When Saving Grace got into gear, their heavy Hatebreed like hardcore was a powerful force, but the long drawn out sermons, doubled in length by the translation, kept taking the wind out of their set. xPigx was not the last person today to proclaim he was not a musician but a worker of god. Whilst this preachy nature sat a little uncomfortably for me, and indeed, I could well imagine not have gone down well with anything but a partisan crowd in the UK, in a highly Catholic country such as Mexico, there were few issues.
Next up were Man Of Sorrows from San Antonio, Texas. There was a definite Hispanic link with this band, evidenced by frontman Damian Omen’s command of Spanish and Danny Naselli’s Latin percussion. Ploughing a heavy groove at time not unlike Soulfly or Ill Nino, Omen was the real differentiator that gave Man Of Sorrow the edge over the other bands today. At times delivering a furious roar, Omen easily switched into a strong melodic vocal not unlike Black Stone Cherry’s Chris Robertson. Even though I couldn’t understand his Spanish song introductions anyway, unlike the other bands Omen didn’t drag out his speeches and Man Of Sorrows got down to the business of rocking. With the biggest crowd of the evening and most receptive response, Man Of Sorrows certainly made friends in Mexico and of the three bands are the one I’ll be seeking a cd.
After another group prayer and with vocalist Mattie having stored his bible by his vocal monitor it was time for Iowa’s For Today to close proceedings. Visually the most lively band, For Today were bouncing around the stage from the start and it was a wonder guitarists Ryan and Mike were sounding so good. In fact Mike actually lost his guitar strap briefly, continuing to play the guitar on his knee until it was reaffixed. This was the metalcore I had expected, but aside from the crunching rhythms and barked vocals, both guitarists had impressive tricks up their sleeves with some nifty guitar runs. Whilst I was finding Mattie’s vocals somewhat one dimensional, this was enjoyable stuff, until Mike took the microphone. Whilst Saving Grace had lengthy descriptions of their songs, this was nothing compared to For Today. Mike’s sermon’s dragged on and on and in total seemed longer than the actual music played. This was a definite turn off and as a result we didn’t stay for the duration.
Man Of Sorrows