Posted by Todd Hamm
In many ways, Madraso seems to reject exposure: lengthy gaps between releases; a seeming aversion to radio friendly song aesthetic; hell, they even limited the release of their new album to vinyl (although you do get what looks like a burnt CD copy when the vinyl is purchased). On the other hand, they had this wicked album release party complete with an on site KEXP broadcast at the Sunset Tavern on a busy Saturday night. Oh, and they make some of the best hardcore music in the city. For Madraso all signs point to cult following.
The show was heavy--as is Van Horne--and the tunnel-like acustics of The Sunset, with it's low ceilings and long, angular entryway sent massive waves of sound crashing through the crowd and out onto Ballard Avenue where inexperienced show-goers could be seen cupping hands over ears and dejectedly massaging temples.
From the first chord of Mico De Noche's grinding, industrial strength drone, the stage was a constantly erupting body of heavy weight experi-metal and down-tuned psychedelia. While the music was acutely focused at times, the crowd appeared more than willing to let the bands wander off down whichever hard rocking avenue they saw fit. Second act The Ruby Doe's performance while energetic, came off a little less cohesive than the others--with a mixture of beautifully sung vocals and screaming that seemed a little unnecessary at times--they definitely sounded more Against Me than Metallica. Madraso also sounded a little punk in the realm of stoner metal, but comparison to bands like Mastodon and Kyuss would definitely make sense; their jagged guitar riffs over deep, rumbling bass lines built tension between crackling drum fills until finally boiling over with explosive denouement. The vocals were almost spoken word at times and shouted in unison at others, but rarely seemed to be the focus of the song, and always seemed to accent the instrumental mood at the time.
Listening to Van Horne at home late after the concert brought even more appreciation for the Madraso's live show. Moments that seemed chaotic during the set were actually calculated outbursts and sounded better and better with each listen. The time spent in the putting together of the album is evident in the complexity of the music and the care put into each hand painted album cover. Something a Seattle area metalhead can be proud of; well worth the price of admission.