Seeing one of your favorite bands in an arena is always special, but the best shows always seem to be the small club shows. They are more intimate, the fan and band camaraderie is better, and you can really feel the energy from the stage. That feeling is exactly what Boise metalheads experienced Tuesday night at The Shredder when Canada’s Unleash the Archers and Sacramento’s Graveshadow rolled into town.
This show was destined to be special no matter what because it marked the live debut performance of Treasure Valley locals, Tulpaa, a band which has been brewing for two years and features some of the Boise’s most tenured talents. Describing Tulpaa’s sound is difficult because they blend so many sonic ideas together, including elements of dark moody ambience with black, doom, and even tinges of industrial metal. The sextet is fronted by vocalists Morkenna Fornjotsdottir and Raider Dean (Hatespell). The unique rhythm section is driven by drummer Marlon Roubideaux, percussionist Hannah Maddox, and bassist Dean Gehrmann (Kurgan Hypothesis). Steve Chavez handles lead guitar duties with Raider throwing in some rhythm guitar at times. As one might expect for any first show there were a couple of minor issues, but Tulpaa worked through the debut pains to deliver a strong and intriguing set. They opened the show with “Fires Die” and “Hallucinations” with Raider trading his growling vocals against Morkenna’s haunting and clean vocals. Maddox and Morkenna treated the crowd to an acapella duet on “Rotting in the Gallows”, one of the show’s stand-out moments. They returned to the blackened dissonant journey with “Manipulated”, “Irreparable Damage”, and “Drought”, with Gehrmann adding some of his own biting vocals to the latter two tracks.
Graveshadow jumped on Tuesday night’s show at the last minute, adding a huge punch to the evening’s festivities. The band is touring in support of its 2015 debut album Nocturnal Resurrection. Graveshadow’s sound is a combination of symphonic metal with nuances of power, thrash, and doom metal. Vocalist Heather Michele also throws in some death metal growls to balance her soaring clean vocals. Keyboardist Valerie Hudak added a cinematic atmosphere to the rhythm section of bassist Ben Armstrong and drummer Roman Anderson, and guitarists Will Walker and Aaron Robitsch brought the crisp and muscular riffage to bear. Graveshadow opened up with “Namesake” which is also their latest video. They also performed “Exhumed”, “Lycan Lust” (cause who doesn’t like songs about horny werewolves?), and “Blink”. If you are wise enough to buy the album, the latter track features a cameo from Primal Fear frontman, Ralf Scheepers. They closed the set out with their nod to Game of Thrones– “Blood and Fire”. If tearing a hole in the Shredder roof with their set was not enough, Graveshadow also helped make sure Unleash the Archers made it to Boise for the last night of the tour. One of the best things about touring bands is how supportive they are of each other.
Unleash the Archers are true road warriors. No sooner did they kick off the West Coast swing of their Northern Lights Tour in support of the new album Time Stands Still, than their van crapped out on them. With the help of friends, they wound their way through the tour, but ultimately had to leave most of their equipment in their trailer back in Medford, Oregon. For the final few dates of the tour they used Graveshadow’s drum kit and a pared down set up. If that were not enough, the band’s new bassist got hung up in Canada due to last minute visa issues. Still, Unleash the Archers forged on. So Boise found themselves the recipients of a truly unique performance for the final show, as the band performed as a quartet.
By the time UTA hit the stage, The Shredder was a 90 degree heavy metal sweat lodge. The band wasted no time getting the crowd spiraled up, tearing up the stage with four explosive tracks from Time Stands Still; “Frozen Steel”, “Hail”, “Test Your Metal” and “Tonight We Ride”. Vocalist Brittney Slayes attacked each song with her powerful vocals, lifting the crowd into a fist-pumping frenzy while drummer Scott Buchanan’s stripped down yet dynamic drum work propelled the band’s driving fury. The band dropped back to their 2011 offering, Demons of the Astrowaste to burn through “Daughters of Winterstone” then delved back farther to their 2009 debut, Behold the Devastation, to perform “The Ritual and the Reckoning”. Guitarists Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley were absolute shred monsters and their dual harmonies scorched the air like synchronized fretboard pyrotechnics. Truesdell also added some bite with his occasional death metal growls. The band closed out the show with “Dreamcrusher” and the anthemic, “General of the Dark Army”.
The entire show felt like a raucous weekend party rather than a Tuesday night event. Every band delivered a high quality set, and the Boise faithful gave the bands a solid weeknight turn out. If there is any complaint at all it would have been to hear a few more tracks each from our out-of-town guests, but even if they would have played for two hours each, we would probably still feel the same way.
Thanks to Tulpaa for a fantastic debut and to Graveshadow and Unleash the Archers for making the trek to end their tour in Boise. Lastly, as always, a huge thanks to Justin at The Shredder for his hospitality and for bringing great artists to town.