Complicated, skillful guitar riffs and technically-impressive drum licks filled the room as Car Bomb, Animals as Leaders (AAL) and Periphery took the stage last Thursday night at Playstation Theatre. The show on Nov. 9 was part of the Convergence Tour, co-headlined by the latter two bands and highly anticipated by fans.
Car Bomb, who are touring with the band for the first 12 of 24 shows, opened for the two giants of progressive metal. With aggressively fast guitar riffs and on-a-dime tempo shifts, the quartet managed to get the crowd moving. Members of the audience screamed along with the band, amplifying the guttural vocals of frontman Michael Dafferner. Joking with the crowd between songs and truly using the space of the stage, Dafferner became a presence who did not allow for one dull moment in the band’s 30 minute set. Short, ripping songs made the set feel much longer, however. The group’s intense vocal stylings and high-octane instrumentals created a very energetic foundation for AAL as they took the stage.
The instrumental-only sounds of AAL were a strong, but effective departure from Car Bomb’s stylings. Starting with the slow build and sitar-like guitar of “Arithmophobia,” AAL enraptured the crowd making the erupt in applause before the drums even kicked in. The band balanced a mix of songs from their entire discography, though 2016’s The Madness of Many was prominently featured. From the haunting 8-bit synth intro of “Ectogenesis” to the floatier, clearer finger picking and rolling cymbals of “The Brain Dance,” the band showcased their chops without faltering or sacrificing stage presence. Songs like “CAFO” and “Physical Education,” standards of the band’s repertoire, had audience members screaming, mimicking the guitar riffs a cappella and moving to the very familiar rhythms of the prog-metal staples. Towards the end of the band’s set, a guitar was propped up on stage so that guitarist Tosin Abasi could use it along with a second guitar he had in his hands (“We need more strings,” yelled members of the crowd). The controlled chaos of AAL’s music was mirrored by the audience through mosh pits and crowd surfers in the standing room of Playstation Theatre. The fervor of the crowd carried from AAL’s set to Periphery’s entrance.
The swinging strings of “Icarus Lives!” led the band into their set, setting the tone of punchy, hard hitting instrumentals for the entirety of Periphery’s performance.With a vocal component to their music, Periphery garnered more crowd participation than AAL, managing to increase the excitement of the crowd. The pop-punky vocals that were delivered seamlessly between singer Spencer Sotelo’s growls were echoed en masse by the audience. “Marigold,” “The Way the News Goes,” and “Mile Zero” were all accompanied by an impromptu chorus. Though Periphery’s vocal component provided another element not found in AAL’s music, their instrumental ability did not go unnoticed. The quick notes and biting guitar of “Omega” showed that the band was deserving of its praise as a pillar of progressive metal. Sotelo ended a night of aggressive moshing and screaming vocals with a message of peace before Periphery played themselves off with the slower, more heartfelt “Lune.”
“We got all the metal and anger out, so now we’re going to end the night with a song about love,” Sotelo said. “Because love is the most important thing in this life.”