Gig Review: Lux Terminus and Imminent Sonic Destruction


the prog mind

Photos courtesy of the extremely talented Kyle Finlan Photography.

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Two thousand nineteen started with a bang for me.  I was honored to get the chance to see such a fantastic show, that I’m not sure it can be topped this year.  Yes, I’m aware I’ll be seeing my favorite band, Riverside, in May.  If you know me, that should really give you an idea of just how impressed I was by the show on the 4th of January; featuring Ego, Lower 13, Imminent Sonic Destruction, and Lux Terminus.

It was a cold night on the east side of Cleveland.  I was just coming off a high with the Bent Knee/Leprous/Haken show late last year, and this Lux Terminus show was a bit of surprise, as I had only known about it for a few months.  I was accompanied by my young brother, Josiah, my go-to guy to drag along to shows when my wife is unavailable.  I was also happy to be able to meet Matthew Phillips, writer for Progressive Music Planet, for a great dinner before the show.  So, the stage was set, the prog fans had gathered, and we were ready for a tremendous show.

The show took place at The Foundry Concert Club in Cleveland.  The venue itself is rather small and industrial, but the sound ended up being rather good.  Their bar, too, is very clean and nicely tended.  For a metal bar in Cleveland, I was also happy that the restrooms were actually usable and functional.  That’s always a nice bonus for a metal show.

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EGO

The show began with a small local band called Ego.  The band was a bit fragmented, as Vikram and Matthew from Lux Terminus filled in to play bass and drums, respectively.  That said, the set was unexpectedly awesome!  The band plays a balls-to-the-walls classic prog metal.  When I say “classic”, I really mean that.  They sound similar to Queensryche, only proggier. 

The set was only about four songs, though they were long ones.  I couldn’t make out much of the lyrics besides something about blood and Nosferatu, and I honestly avoided looking at their band page online at the recommendation of a friend.  However, the music itself was heavy, emotional, and simply glorious; with humongous vocals and pealing guitar solos.  I was really impressed with what I heard, and the set was definitely fun.

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Lower 13

The next band up was Lower 13, another local Cleveland band.  They were definitely the odd balls in the group, being more along the lines of death and thrash metal.  I wouldn’t really call them progressive, to be honest.  That said, these guys really know how to play, and their set was loud and proud of that.

Their set was chock full of blast beats, technical guitar work, growling, and one of their mothers singing along to every word in the front row.  Some of the drumming, especially, was spellbinding and cinematic.  Though they had no keys, there were times that the drums added a whole new dynamic that just felt melodic in some strange way.  So, yes, these guys are really good at what they do.

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Imminent Sonic Destruction

The next band was one with which I am completely familiar, having seen them open for Pain of Salvation a couple years ago in Detroit.  Imminent Sonic Destruction put on a show that exemplifies their name in every way imaginable.  Yes, they are progressive metal, but their sound is almost more detailed and movement-based than you may think.

ISD offers truly outstanding guitar work that feels inspired, purposeful in arrangement, and interactive.  The waves of sound they produce powered through the crowd, offering two new songs and two songs off their last album, as well.  The new songs showed promised for the new album, which I expect later this year (according to Tony, their singer), and displayed a spacier, more atmospheric approach which I think is exactly what they needed in order to add more variety and deftness to their music.

ISD knows how to put on a show, for sure, and it’s more than just their music.  During the show, even just the interactions between band members and the building confidence that I am seeing in them have become signatures to their live performance style.  I’m very excited to hear their new album, and hopefully will see them again soon.

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Lux Terminus

Lux Terminus was the headliner, and the primary reason I was there that night.  The band promised to play their full debut album, “The Courage to Be”, in its entirety.  Now, this being my #2 album of 2018, I had really high expectations, but my expectations were completely blown out of the water.  The band played a set that I will never forget, and the show will live on as one of the best I have ever seen.

Vikram, Matt, and Brian took the stage with authority and confidence.  The sound mix had been perfected by this point, so Vikram’s keys were searing and bright, while Brian and Matt’s rhythm section offered a hefty, tremored contrast to them.  Yes, the album is just as good live as in the studio, and it flows with real power, color, and emotion.  You could see the emotion painted all over Vikram’s face, especially.

The highlights of the set include the bright “Electrocommunion”, the jazzy “Miles Away”, and my favorite from them, “Effusion”.  The latter hit with such force that I basically couldn’t move.  The epic title track followed and offered nothing short of fireworks as the guys produced more music than three people ought to be able.

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Two of the best moments came at the very end, however.  If you know the album, you know it ends with “Epilogue: Fly”, a vocally-led track that featured Anneke van Giersbergen on the studio album.  Subbing in for Anneke, however, was Vikram’s girlfriend, Lauren Nolan.  I hadn’t heard much of her singing outside some snippets online, and so I didn’t know what to expect.  The results were absolutely stunning.  Lauren laid down vocals that were perfectly performed.  She hit every note and exuded all the emotion you would expect for such a song.  As you can see in the video below, she really ended the album on a high note.

Also in that video, you will see a surprise cover of Toto’s “Africa” played by the band and sung by the crowd.  It may be the best cover of “Africa” I’ve ever heard, complete with some proggy twists thrown in for good measure.  It was a splendid ending to a phenomenal evening of fun, friends, and fantastic music.

And, so, the evening was a success.  One thing I noted about this show, especially compared to many other shows, is that the crowd changed with each band.  People came and left, filtering in and out of the bar.  However, when Lux Terminus took the stage, in surged a throng of people that ended up packing out the place.  Yes, some of them seemed like they haven’t been to a show in decades, so the dynamic that evening felt different than any show I’ve ever seen.  I was so impressed, for each and every band, at the people that came to support these bands.  Even Vikram’s father showed up to dance and be there for his son.  That means a lot to me.  It was a refreshing and promising start to 2019.

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the prog mind

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