Localized is a monthly showcase of local bands on the second Friday of every month at the Urban Lounge. This month we bring you the perilously odd combination of a death metal band playing with a Christian hardcore band and Gaza.
His Red Letters
The band had me meet them at In the Venue before a show. Three bands (Gaza, Clifton and His Red Letters) setting up for a hardcore and metal show is extraordinarily loud, so Matthew and I ventured into the back of the club until we found a spot wherein we could hear each other talking over the din.
Not only are all of the members of His Red Letters ridiculously young, but they’ve also only been a band together for a brief period of time. They formed in January of this year and began performing in April. This particular show which they are setting up for is actually the first show that they have played with other local bands. It is either the impending review by peers, or my own intimidating presence, which makes Matthew noticeably nervous.
“I think that smarter people know that hardcore is not metal; even if it’s metalcore, it’s not metal. But at first when people are getting into the music, it’s fine, and when they get more into it, they’ll realize that there is a difference between hardcore and metal,” Matthew says. I myself have been guilty of briefly confusing the two. I have yet to see His Red Letters play, so I asked Matthew what I would have seen had I witnessed an actual performance. “You would have seen four dudes who are really into what they’re about and having a lot of fun. We’re all Christians and we believe in God. That’s the main reason why we are a band. We live in a Mormon state, and a lot of people don’t know who God really is because of the Zion Curtain. We just want to play music and play what we believe.”
They’re band name is cryptic, or at least, I think it is. It refers to the way how, in many copies of the Bible, Jesus’ words are printed in red to distinguish them from the rest of the text.
“We aren’t here to come down and save everybody,” says Matthew. They certainly don’t seem that hubristic; instead, they take a soft sell approach. “We encourage people just to believe in something, and not to live an empty life. If you want to be straightedge, that’s cool—then be the best straightedge you can. We just want people to do something positive. We encourage people to visit vivalarevolution.org.”
Beyond This Flesh
When I arrived at Burt’s Tiki Lounge, Greta the bartender immediately directed me to the group of tall men in black T-shirts. When she said their band name, she deepened her voice ominously.
After a bit of coaxing and some swearing, they overcome their initial hesitancy and sit close to each other around a table. Nearly all of them immediately light up, and Jimmy, who is also smoking, commences a resonant hacking which continues unabated throughout the interview.
“Pure energy,” one of them quips to describe their performance. Another simply raises the horns. “A lot of kids with horns in the air.”
“We’re straight death metal. We get lumped into being a hardcore band because of the bands we’ve played with in the past, but we’re not hardcore at all. It’s straight metal—a lot of melodic guitars, heavy vocals, nice low end, drums are killer. We play fast; a hardcore band goes for the slow breakdown, whereas our songs are quick and then they’re over,” Jimmy says in between hacking. “People who don’t really like metal come to our shows and they leave knowing they’ve seen a good band, even if it’s not what they’re into.”
If they played their album, they say, you would think that they were from Norway. A more concise description of Beyond This Flesh would be hard to pen. They even look like they are from Norway in their dark clothing and with every member besides Greg over 6’1.
“I was into metal before I got into punk, back when I was 12 or 13 years old,” says Davey.
“Metal has stood the test of time. You’ve got grunge that comes and goes. You’ve got new-hype shit like the Vines, and that’s going down the drain. New pop-punk are now playing bigger clubs, as opposed to the big stadiums they used to play. Anyone who says they were into punk before metal is a liar. Metal is your roots,” Spence adds.
Throughout this, Cody picks occasionally at the skin on his arms, which is falling off in large pieces. It seems perfectly reasonable that Cody and Jimmy would be in a death metal band. I ask them what the best performance thus far in their career has been. They describe the night before at Lo-Fi, with Clifton, Black Dahlia Murder, Behemoth and them. “There were so many horns in the air,” they say.