by Ryan Wasoba
Rugged sludge metal group Big Business headlined a healthily attended show at the Firebird last Friday. Those who arrived early enough caught sets from the Gorge and White Fire, two local groups which both experienced significant milestones on the same evening.
The Gorge has been pounding out thoughtful, proficient metalcore for a while now; its full length Prehistoric Relapse was one of RFT's favorite local records of 2011. The band recently parted ways with frontman Greg Davis, and Friday was its first show as a quartet with guitarist Phil Ring as its vocalist. Davis will be missed, but Ring handled his new duty honorably and the lack of a dedicated singer (and Ring's surplus of beard) seems to focus the Gorge's dynamic. Its instrumental passages are stunningly tight and slightly off-kilter, and the band has found a way to be subversively technical on its newer material. This results in songs that are not overtly showy, but would be nearly impossible for any other band to pull off. Fans of heavy music in all its incarnations: see the Gorge. This is about as much as I can endorse a band without resorting to all caps.
Friday was also the debut performance of White Fire, a local trio with traces of stoner metal and heavy southern rock. Having already recorded a more than adequate demo, the fresh band sounded confident; guitarist/singer Nate Berens has a thrashy growl to his voice and the band's bass tone is perfectly scuzzy.
The trio has some kinks to iron out, particularly in the intensity-dropping guitar solo department, but White Fire had a promising showing that points to a future with much headbanging.
Take heed. The Gorge is reincarnated and White Fire now exists. St. Louis metal just got heavier.