Music » Critics' Picks

Riddle of Steel with Rhythm of Black Lines

Friday, Aug. 10; Rocket Bar

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Riddle of Steel bassist/vocalist Jimmy Vavak always seemed like the math-obsessed muscle behind his old band the Five Deadly Venoms, so when word got out that he was getting back into the rock business, smart money had his new combo being ridiculously complicated and heavy as fuck. Instead, Vavak, drummer Ken McCray and guitarist/vocalist Andrew Elstner play it relatively straight on their new self-released CD EP. "Relatively" is the key word, though: The six songs do manage to take some twisting detours now and then, and some do feature whiplash-inducing time changes. Fortunately, Riddle of Steel emphasizes songwriting over technical prowess, resulting in a set of songs that holds its own against anything else in the Midwest's emo/indie/rock/punk scene. Riddle of Steel's shout-along-in-harmony vocal style and bright guitars bring to mind the late Braid, although the heavier bottom end recalls the type of bands that the Amphetamine Reptile label was putting out a decade or so ago. Add in the fact that Vavak runs the Rocket Bar, the best place in St. Louis for Riddle of Steel-ish bands to play, and it's no wonder the band has already made plenty of connections nationwide, done some touring and is set to appear on some nationally distributed compilations. Catch Riddle of Steel at the Rocket Bar (naturally), and find out firsthand what all the fuss is soon to be about.Also playing is Rhythm of Black Lines, from Austin, Texas, who recently released the CD Set a Summery Table on the Six Gun Lover label. A mostly instrumental trio, Rhythm of Black Lines plays a weird and cool style of punkish prog-meets-'80s-wave that stops just shy of veering into Rush territory (Moving Pictures-era, if that's an enticement).

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