Eugene Weekly : Music : 5.15.08

Loud, Hypnotic Musings
Triple metal crown

Dead Meadow,Ninth Moon Black (pictured), Middian 9 pm Wednesday, May 21 WOW Hall • $10 advance, $12 door

Much like scientific theory, music evolves slowly over time. The juggernauts of the past must be acknowledged and contextualized by every new generation of musicians. Where would modern rock music be without the bluesy, spaced-out leads of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath? Booming, fuzzy chords have lead bands down innumerable auditory canals, and for one night there’s a chance to see how three streams originate from the same musical body of water. Psychedelic rock, ambient metal and progressive doom: Dead Meadow, Ninth Moon Black and Middian play music with similar influences, music that varies in proportion and execution.

Headlining the show is L.A.’s Dead Meadow, on tour for their newest album of swooning psychedelic rock. Old Growth is hazy and full of soft songs and droopy vocals. There are fewer hooks than on previous releases, but the songs rock hard enough to satisfy fans of past releases. The band draws on earthy folk songwriting and warm blues guitar solos. Dead Meadow is one of those rare bands that plays familiar-sounding music in fresh, interesting arrangements. Take the song “I’m Gone” for instance — the band begins a hackneyed ballad then adds unexpected bass fills as the song progresses. Eventually a guitar solo kicks in at full volume and then lingers over a few measures of the last chorus. Over five albums, Dead Meadow has managed to teach an old genre new tricks

Ninth Moon Black plays ambient post metal. If you don’t know what that means, just think Enya for metalheads. The Eugene band’s eponymous debut album is a stunning arrangement of grove-oriented soundscapes. Keyboard noises and a rhythm guitar create a din of sound through which the lead guitar carves haunting melodies. The riffs are repetitive and hypnotic, the drums and bass tight and smart. “Anubis,” in particular, echoes internally long after the last note is played. Ninth Moon Black performs in front of a screen displaying disjointed or amorphous images and sometimes obscure movies. The use of a projector and absence of a vocalist heighten the emotional intensity of the music, making musical resolutions all the more cathartic.

Due to legal issues over their moniker, Eugene’s Middian will be playing its last show for an indefinite period. Their first release, Age Eternal, is epic, changing from quiet to loud, slow to fast, and back again, stealing over ten minutes at a time with nary a glance at the clock. At its heaviest — “Sink to the Center” — the band is a blue whale, a living Leviathan. At its most melodic — “Age Eternal” — the band is a Black Sabbath tribute band on good acid. This may sound like hyperbole, but Middian is easily one of the most versatile and creative bands making music in any genre today.

All three bands make heavy use of psychedelic guitar leads and trance-inducing rhythms. The night will begin with the heavy sounds of Middian, move to flowing groves of Ninth Moon Black and finish with the melodic songs of Dead Meadow. It should be one hell of a night.