Localized: Massacre at the Wake, Separation of Self and ViniA – July 2008

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SLUG’s Localized returns to the Urban Lounge on the second Friday of the month. For July’s show Massacre at the Wake, Separation of Self and openers ViniA will take the stage. Each band’s brand of modern American heavy metal will make the walls of Urban shudder on July 11.

Photos: Mitch Allen
Jason Cowell– Guitars
Shawn (Princess) Neilson – Vocals
Jason (Dart) Thompson – Drums
Josh Braun– Guitars
Alpeus (Sid) Bush – Bass

Massacre at the Wake are, in relative terms, a newer band. Although the band has been playing together for nearly two years, its members are not new to playing to the Utah metal crowd. The band describes their music as “110 percent” collaborative; every member’s input is important, and if one person doesn’t like the sound or direction, they retool the song or scrap the idea.
The band pulls influences from all over the map. Braun studied jazz at the University of Utah and its influence has subtly worked its way into Massacre at the Wake’s music. Cowell is proud of his age, and that fact that he has witnessed Utah’s metal and hardcore scene’s ups and downs since the days of Clear. He draws inspiration from the old-school hardcore and straight-edge styles.
Vocalist Princess says: “I listened to a lot of the nu-metal from back in the day; now I’m listening to a lot of death metal and black metal shit and that’s where I’m taking the vocal structure of this band.” In regards to his clean singing approach: “I can’t fucking sing to save my life, I don’t like to do it; I’d rather just yell. I’m just a poet who screams, I guess.” If you do venture to the band’s Myspace page, the guys say not to pay much attention to the demo songs they have posted. Their sound has evolved and said songs don’t do them justice. “It’s similar, but it’s more intense now; it has more of an old school hardcore sound to it,” describes drummer Dart.
“It’s also got a bit of the new style of … we like to call it ‘the chugga chuggas,’” says guitarist Jason. Expect the unexpected from Massacre at the Wake; their drive is more based in playing live shows and allowing that energy to feed their creative process.

Ricky Brandes – Bass
Steve Robertson – Guitar
Kajol Poulsen – Vocals
Chris Suitt – Drums
Doug Bigler – Guitar

Playing Utah’s scene for close to four years now, Separation of Self have developed a following with their distinct brand of modern metal. The band has retained all of its original members aside from their drummer, Chris Suitt, who joined in 2007. The tight-knit group shared insights on the current metal scene in Utah, past experiences and what they are all about. When asked to describe their sound the response came with no definite tag. Suitt says: “Heavy and melodic. All of our ideas [the bands] are mixed in, with the European sound like In Flames and Soilwork and the rhythm stuff like Meshuggah.”
Poulsen elaborated: “I’d just say metal. I’ve heard some people describe us as metalcore, but that’s just what I’ve heard, I wouldn’t know how to describe us.” The basic consensus was that Separation of Self is just metal.
Separation of Self is part of a growing community of bands in Utah who aren’t out to compete for bragging rights for being the best. They’re more concerned with building a scene.
Poulsen says: “We’ll go out to other bands shows, make friends, the next thing we know the following week they’re coming to our shows with all their friends.”
Separation of Self is part of a handful of bands that Club Vegas owner, Dusty Ash, has taken under his wing. The bands (including Massacre at the Wake) have a sort of unwritten contract to only play club shows at Ash’s venue, (all-ages shows are doable anywhere for the bands) and for the guys it’s a win-win situation.
“I think it’s helped us out a lot; I know it helps the club out too. If somebody likes the band and the only place to see them is Club Vegas, they’ll keep going there. That is kind of the idea behind it: make friends at the show who keep going back, and build the scene,” Poulsen says. The band describes their live show as being energetic with lots of hair, but also having room for improvement. One of the most interesting aspects of their local show is hearing the crowd become louder than Poulsen. Although it’s flattering that the band has gained such a large following, Poulsen states that the phenomenon still freaks him out.
Come check out Massacre at the Wake, Separation of Self and openers ViniA for only five bones at the Urban Lounge on Friday, July 11.