Celebrating the upcoming launch of their ninth full-length album One Fire, aggrotech EBM magnates Combichrist brought the body beats to Club Red Mesa on Tuesday, April 9. Playing a full set to a packed house, veteran members Andy LaPlegua and guitar icon Eric13 not only debuted several tracks from the up-and-coming album, but also introduced fans to their new meat behind the beat Will Spodnick (@willspod for your Twitter & IG) from New York and Dane White from the House of Mouse…Orlando, FL (@dane_white).
The April 9 show was the first time Arizona fans would experience the band without the iconic dragged ‘n’ dentured appearance and stage tricks of long-time drummer Joe Letz. Letz is known throughout the music world for his outlandish appearances dressed as a skinny buxom school girl with a mouthful of apparatus and headgear, which contorted his face into a monstrosity that was only exacerbated by a messy wig, tattoos, and eyelashes on his cheeks. Joe will not only be missed for his neander-Thelma presence and behavior but also his skills in showmanship and his precision talent. But regardless of all the artistic accolades one can bestow, what I’m going to miss about him the most is standing around in the crowd and leaning up on the barricades eavesdropping on the newer male fans whispering, “Man, that chick is so hot,” to each other while they sip their beers and hope for eye contact.
Perhaps a little apprehensive about what was waiting after Letz’s departure, the Tuesday show line-up featured Will Spod and Dane White in the driver seats. Letz may be a tough act to follow, but Spod and White are new blood, and new blood always brings a sense of rejuvenation when a band has been around as long as Andy’s has. Having a flair for the dramatic must be a requirement on a resume to be a Cc member as both men rose to and met the precedent set by their predecessor. The amount of flash and flair that these gentlemen bring to the stage in their own rites carries on the Combichrist multi-sensational excitement. Between White and Spod there was certainly no lack of talent or entertainment from them, nor was there any love lost from the fans, who packed the club the same as they always do when Combichrist comes to town. Fans were so energized by the band’s performance that an encore was demanded (and they were not disappointed!)
While LaPlegua’s policy is to engage the audience with songs they know and love, there were several debut performances from their up-and-coming album, One Fire. In the past, Combichrist music has been made up of mostly motivational beat metal. However, this latest album showcases the evolution and progress of the band ironically by going back in time and revisiting the sounds of early Cc, yet with a more deft and debonair application. On this album, LaPlegua is like a mad chef (Norwegian, not Swedish) who goes back to his early cooking days and revisits the early recipes of his career, only this time with all the refinery and finesse that only experience can provide; it’s still the same dish, but there is more elegance, style, and substance to it. You hear him perform one of these new songs on stage for the first time, a song like “Hate Like Me”, and it sounds hauntingly familiar. Do I know this one? It sounds like I should know it, but at the same time it sounds new and fresh. It’s reflective and more flavorful, and while it’s a bit bolder than the band’s previous offerings, it fits in perfectly with the evolution of their identity and their progress as musicians. It’s grittier. It’s a bit more personal, but with more wisdom. And there’s more guitar. Sometimes to go forward, you have to go back, and when you hear these new songs that sound like old school, that is the quintessential Combichrist.
One Fire will be available in stores June 7, 2019. Album releases “Hate Like Me” and “Guns At Last Dawn” are available on Spotify. The One Fire tour is supported by California aggro guests Silver Snakes. The US tour continues until June 2, 2019 after which the band will begin the European leg of the tour.
**Note: Nick Rossi, who continues to be part of the Combichrist experience, was not present at the April 9 show in Mesa.
All Photos Copyright ©2019 JAM Vaughan (LivingDedGrrl™). Do not use without permission. Do not remove watermark.