If the Tuesday before was going into unknown territory, then this was going straight into the lion’s den. I’ve always been neutral to metal bands back at home and aboard. Of course like all kids, there was a phase of my life when Korn (just writing the name makes me cringe), Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, and Tool were are constant repeat in my portable cd player. But that was another time, another place. For the most part, I’ve avoided metal in Beijing like stinky tofu. At the festivals, perhaps I would wonder by the metal stage – but still I kept my distance. No way am I going to expose myself to that. But you start to talk to people and their love for the genre and you start to figure maybe there’s something there. So thanks to word of advice from my roommate, as well as BeijingDaze’s constant fandom, I found myself at Mao Livehouse, again, to catch Return the Truth, Unregenerate Blood, and New Yorkers Backtrack.
The first thing you notice about Return the Truth, is lead vocalist DJ, who, yes, is a laowai, and beneath all the trashing and growls, he seems like a stand-up guy. From a distance, you might mistaken metal (and all its subgenres) as hate-mongering, but it’s actually quite the contrary.
There’s anger in there for sure, but it’s an anger out of love and respect – a call to arms if you will. And the words coming out, well they’re not spoken but wielded, like a weapon. Musically, Return the Truth bring it – they’re a solid group of musicians, fast-paced, heavy, and together. As an intro to the hardcore scene, I couldn’t of asked for better.
Moms and pops, I give you Unregenerate Blood. Now, these guys know how to rock. The stamina these boys had – it’s staggering. I’ve always felt like metal music was very theatrical and man did they put on a show. From lead singer Leo jumping around like a dog after a bone, to the guitarists whose fingers moved like wildfire, changing chords and rhythm without missing a beat – all the while keeping up with each other – it’s just top motch.
Everyone’s a warrior out there, as you might be able to tell by my camera constantly going from one person to the next, like an ADD-stricken CS player. Speaking of which, this is one of those times I regret having a camera with me – this is music you need to get into, mentally for sure, but physically as well. This is moshing, ‘raging like an madman’ music – almost therapeutic to a degree.
Again, one of the most interesting dynamics of metal, particularly hardcore – is the honesty, honor, and truth (hence the name) in the lyrics and attitude. It’s about letting go, being yourself, and not taking shit from others. It’s a simple message for sure, but one that’s always just as important, then, now, here and there. And within the walls of China, those words resonate just a bit more I’m sure with many.
Last, came the New York hardcore band, Backtrack. I didn’t stick around too long, due to selling my soul to the devil one Saturday every month (ten straight hours with kids…yup) but they seemed prone to put on a good show, with more of a old school rock feel to them, and a singer far too Ashton Kutcher looking to be wildling out. And despite some early preconceived communication problems, they were soon pulling people onstage and whipping the crowd into action.
A much needed foray into metal and it’s close cousins, with the help of chaperones Return the Truth and Unregenerate Blood, I was mightily impressed and will most definitely be coming back for more in the near future. Perhaps 13 Club is next on the list. Check out some more videos below and stay tuned the next week (realistically, two weeks) for my interview with Unregenerate Blood.
Return the Truth