Chris Cavoretto

About Chris Cavoretto

Former owner and operator of an independent record label. Successful musician on a few accounts. Failed musician on most accounts. Horror lover. Unqualified critic.

Calabrese – The Shredder in Boise, ID USA (Sept 21, 2013) Gig Review

cala1Calabrese live show at The Shredder in Boise, ID USA (Sept 21, 2013)

As it says in my bio, I used to run an independent record label.  My goal with the label was to release horror-themed music mostly in the punk rock and metal genres.
Of course, on the independent level, you don’t have the money to release everything for every band you want to push.  To strengthen my catalog, I did distro for various bands and it didn’t matter where they were from.  One of those bands was Calabrese.

 
Calabrese are a horror rock band from Arizona consisting of three brothers – Bobby, Jimmy and Davey Calabrese.  When I came across them, they had just released their first full length album, 13 Halloweens.  The thing that stuck about about this band was that they weren’t a Misfits clone.  They had their own sound and they were good.  Everything was packaged well.  Great artwork, great sounding recording, great music, great merch… and somehow, given all of this, they let their sense of humor show through.  They’re not uptight assholes.  If you follow their twitter feed, ‘like’ their Facebook page, watch their music videos, you see they’re just having fun.  It’s pretty refreshing when you find a great band who isn’t a joke but doesn’t take themselves too seriously, either.

 
I started booking punk rock shows at a local club which gave my label a place to showcase itself and it’s catalog.  I booked a lot of out of town bands.  However, while I tried to get Calabrese in for a show, it never worked out.
They continued to release three more albums.  Each one sounding like Calabrese but always notching themselves up a bit.  I sold my label and eventually stepped away from music altogether.

 
cala3  After a couple years. I had various small conversations with the band through social media.  I kept telling them to come to Boise.  To be honest, I doubt they remember me doing the distro and haven’t put it together that I was that guy.  We didn’t know each other, we just had a small distro deal for a short time.  Finally, after about 9 years, they are releasing their fifth album, Born With a Scorpion’s Touch, and hitting Boise, Idaho on their tour.

 
I was running a little late to the show and, to be honest, I was kind of hoping to miss the first two bands.  Yes, I’m that guy.  I’ve seen and booked so many mediocre bands over the years that on the rare occasion I decide to go see a band, I don’t want to sit through other bands anymore.  With that said, the first band was still playing when I got there.  I’m not going to bore you with the details, the first two weren’t my thing.

 
Up next was Demoni.  These guys have been around for several years now and tour quite a bit.  When they took the stage, the whole mood for the night took a huge step in the right direction.  Singer/guitar player, Andy Agenbroad, was a little less (or maybe a lot less) than sober.  Somehow, after playing two hour-long sets earlier in the day, Demoni was still on top of their game.

 
They play a horror-themed blend of psychobilly and surf rock.  These guys have been around the block and it’s obvious.  Their guitar and bass tones were great and their drummer, Cody Chapple, had a great sounding drum kit.  It’s good to hear an opening band with good sounding gear.  On top of all of this, they play well.

 
cala5As is the case with most psychobilly bands, Demoni have an upright bass.  What sets them apart from so many of the other bands with these basses, though, is Ethan Davis learned how to play it really well.  He wasn’t jumping on top of it and throwing it around like a jackass.  He played it and he played the hell out of it!  I highly suggest you check these guys out (they’re on Facebook and twitter @demonipsycho).

 
Up next was finally Calabrese.  They took the stage like rock and roll legends.  Drummer, Davey, grabbed the mic and hyped up the crowd for a second before jumping behind the kit with the band exploding into Blood in My Eyes.  My only complaint at this point was Jimmy’s vocals sounded a little off key.  The music was tight though.
House of Mysterious Secrets was next and, again, they were killing it.  Jimmy asked for a little more vocals in the monitor and never had another problem from my standpoint.  Vocals were right on the rest of the night.

 
After She Hasn’t Been Herself in Years, the fourth song in their set, they took off the leather jackets.  Oh, did I mention they wore leather jackets for the first four songs?!  It was awesome.  They must be used to that Arizona heat because they didn’t have the least bit of an issue with how hot that had to have been.
Jimmy gabbed a comb and slicked back his hair, a-la Mike Ness.  They thanked everyone for being there and kicked into Saturday Night of the Living Dead.  This is one of my favorites of theirs.  It’s so rocking and so catchy and they were really in the groove from here on out.

 
They took it straight into Resurrection, another Calabrese classic.  The thing with these guys is that every chorus in every song is catchy.  You just can’t help but be into it.
They did play a few songs off of the new, as yet unreleased album, Born With a Scorpion’s Touch.  No one knew most of these songs, but they’re true to Calabrese form and are sure to be loved by all their fans.  The video for the song Born with a Scorpion’s Touch has been out for awhile now so that was the one new song that everybody knew and went extra crazy for.

 
cala2More classics were played flawlessly.  Midnight Spookshow, Shrunken Head Kids, Coffin of Ruins… all awesome.  I started wondering how they hit those higher notes they were singing with such ferocity.  Seriously, it was incredible how on-key they were.
They introduced each other for the crowd but Jimmy stole Bobby’s thunder when he knocked over the mic stand during his introduction and almost fell over.  I have no idea how it happened but it was pretty funny.  They, then, headed into another high point for me with The Dead Don’t Rise (check out the music video for this one!).

 
They got a little spiritual at one point and wanted to dedicate a song off the new album to “the big guy upstairs”.  No, not that guy… they were talking about Elvis Presley!  The song that followed was a “ballad”, for lack of a better term, called Evil Inside.  It wasn’t a sappy ballad, it was a rocking Calabrese ballad.  Bobby and Jimmy sang vocals together over Bobby’s distorted guitar.  Drums came in and hit hard.  Finally, Jimmy’s bass came in to finish the “ballad”.  I can’t urge enough that this isn’t really a ballad.  Just sort of a ballad-Calabrese-style because it was still completely rocking.  It’s going to be a high point on the new album, I can already tell.

 
After setting the place ablaze again with Vampires Don’t Exist, the band left the stage.  The lights died down as some interlude music played.  Then, less than two minutes later, Calabrese rushed the stage again and went full force on another four songs to close out the show with Violet Hellfire, Ghostwolves (another personal favorite), Backseat of My Hearse and Voices of the Dead.These guys killed it at this show. The Shredder was a great venue for Calabrese, as well.  Pinball, arcade games, a skate ramp and beer all in one location… it felt right up Calabrese’s alley.

 
cala4 Next time they head to your city, make sure to catch them.  They played everything phenomenally.  I didn’t hear a missed note.  Every riff, solo, bass line and drum hit was right on.  That’s really saying something for a band who doesn’t just stand there, as well.  They rocked hard all night long and it was obvious they had fun being up there.  Hands down, they are THE BEST horror rock band since Danzig-era Misfits.
9 and a half out of 10

Chris Cavoretto

Torture Garden – The Great Depression (Album Review)

tort1Torture Garden – “The Great Depression”

 

When I heard this was an avant garde doom album, I was intrigued.  When I found out the name of the band was Torture Garden, I thought, “great, this is going to be horrible.”  I seem to remember a not-so Savage Garden who shit all over the pop charts in the late 90′s/early 2000′s.

I must admit, my first listen was as a background piece while other things were going on.  My initial reaction was poor, but I heard some moments of promise.  I thought I’d give it another listen.

What I found is that this is a record you need to listen to.  It’s not background music.  It has a point and, had I not listened again, I would have never realized this. The opening track is very reminiscent of 1984 and “Big Brother”.  The whole attitude is very punk rock/anarchistic and tells us we should be questioning anything big media and money are behind.  This band has something to say and they say it.  It’s sometimes jumbled underneath layers of clean and distorted instruments, but they say it.

After the long opening, the second track, Pervert, slips in, almost undetected under the ambience of everything going on. My initial thought was I didn’t care for the whiny sounding vocals opening and closing the song.  We hit a big turn at about the 4:00 mark with unrelenting distorted vocals.  It’s not doom but it feels like we’re headed in the right direction.  Then, at about the 6:30 mark, we hit the doom riff.  This riff is great and would make 1970′s Black Sabbath envious.

Upon further listening, I realized how the vocals fit with the song as a whole.  You see, this track is against the raping of children.  You get the sense that the vocals set the whole mood from the victim’s perspective.  First, you have sadness and confusion, then you hit the anger and ultimate vicious release.  After that, when you come to the acceptance, you break down one more time and let everything hit you.  That’s what this track feels like to me.

In the fourth track, we meet the voice of “big business”.  It’s a story we all know well, but it’s told in a powerful way.  The ambience swells underneath as the track progresses and it slowly turns into the next track. This is where the album really picks up.  Mister Mammon brings forth an assault of distorted screaming and brilliantly layered acoustic and distorted guitars.  As the bass rumbles along, the drums really bring this song home.  Imaginative playing is an understatement.  Some seriously great drumming here.

tort2As this song ends, it seems to take forever, but when we finally reach Circuses Without Bread, the slow, brooding doom is in full force.  Great doom track here with megaphone-esque vocals. Hideous in Their Glory keeps the doom going but in the middle of this sludgefest, the little amount of vocals here are grating.  Grating in a bad way.  It’s reminiscent of a high school band’s first attempt at death metal vocals.  Luckily, the band carries us along this journey very well, keeping it slow, heavy and full of great doom riffs and the vocals in this song are very sparse.

From here, the album loses my interest.  There are flashes of greatness within the music but the vocals get under my skin.  A lot of droning, crying type vocals with the occasional high school death metal style I mentioned earlier. At this point in the album, I’m wondering why it’s so long.  When we hit track 10, Defying the Laws of Hell, it feels like we might get the band’s second wind.  Unfortunately, the track doesn’t really go anywhere and being this far into the album, it could’ve used a good kick start.  Maybe if it had transitioned into a powerhouse track next, it would’ve really pulled me back into it.  This isn’t what happened.  Instead, we get what would be some great music if I could get passed those clean vocals I can’t get passed.

When the final track hits, Mists of Time, is a pretty good track with the layers of acoustic and distorted guitars that I really like from this band.  A few more takes to get the acoustic playing in time a little better would have made it better for me.  However, this kind of keeps that raw edge, so maybe it’s better without doing so. Unfortunately, the clean singing on this album is way too over-dramatic for me to take and the album is just way too long.  Each time I listen, I’m done about half way through.  A five or six song would have been great.  I think the album has a place though.

I would think this band has legions of fans because they do what they do well.  For me it’s sort of like an anarchist My Dying Bride record with a dash of Pink Floyd and a whole lot of ambience and mood-setting.  If it weren’t for the length, I’d probably listen to this album a lot.  It has flashes of brilliance everywhere.  I highly suggest you don’t discount this album based on my negative comments but take the time to listen for yourselves based on my positive comments.  It hits hard and not everyone will share my views.

Verdict 6/10

Chris Cavoretto

 

You can check out Torture Garden at their bandcamp page HERE