,,,,,Guest review by Timothy Estabrooks
A metal show with only two bands isn’t the typical lineup, as fill-in vocalist Paulo Paguntalan of Long Island’s own Artificial Brain pointed out early in this weekend’s show at the Middle East in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But he also noted that meant he would get to go to sleep earlier, which is nice. As a concertgoer in my 30s, that’s a sentiment I could certainly appreciate. But first, there was some excellent metal for me to enjoy.
Artificial Brain was the undercard act for Richmond, VA sludge/doom/death/whatever metallers Inter Arma. The “Arty B” guys played very well and were exactly as tight as you would expect a technical death metal band of their caliber to be. As previously mentioned, they have a fill-in vocalist for this tour after parting ways with front-man Will Smith in September for personal reasons. Paulo filled in very well and provided some welcome quirkiness and comedic energy, from trying to start a “Yankees suck” chant with the Boston crowd (after pointing out that the band are Mets fans) to joking briefly about the new Dune film. My only complaint was that his vocals were almost entirely lost in the mix, especially when he stayed in the typical low death metal register.
Overall, the Artificial Brain performance was solid and heady. “Static Shattering” was a high point, and they also performed a couple songs from their new album coming out in 2022. The album has already been recorded and mixed with their former vocalist, so it was a little odd hearing the fill-in guy perform unreleased songs recorded with somebody else, but he consistently did a great job.
While Artificial Brain had a loose and fun stage presence, Inter Arma were all business. Instead of placing T.J. Childers’ drum kit in the background recess provided on the stage, they dropped it front and center. The stage was admittedly too small for this, but they absolutely made it work. Vocalist Mike Paparo stormed onto the scene like he was pissed off at the world and continued that energy throughout the entire set. The whole performance was exceptionally tight, while also having an abundance of chaotic energy. There were no breaks between tracks, with the transitions generally being occupied by Childers’ stunning drumming leading into the next song. Paparo jumped and screamed and flung his microphone cable around with aplomb and seemed 100% committed to the performance. And that’s to say nothing of lead guitarist Trey Dalton, who absolutely shredded with minimal fanfare while awkwardly relegated to a tiny corner at the edge of the stage.
Witnessing a DIY band like Inter Arma perform a flawlessly professional and emotive set in such a small venue was a rare treat. I had the privilege of being front and center in the crowd, and at many times Paparo was looming directly above me while shrieking his heart out. I was particularly impressed by his vocal range, and the entire band simply could not have been better. While Artificial Brain put on a great show, Inter Arma absolutely earned their spot as the headliners. We’re still early in the process of this tour, so it’s well worth it for any metalheads to catch a future date if they’re able.
Kung Fu Necktie
The Funhouse at Mr. Small’s
The Sanctuary Detroit
Reggie’s Rock Club
Asheville Music Hall
The Golden Pony