Monday, December 17, 2012

Acaro arrives

Acaro playing earlier this month in Dallas (James Villa photo)

The coast-to-coast trek by Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall has to be one of the all-time great Masshole campaigns.

Shads and KsE helped kick start a metal revival both home and abroad in the late 1990s. Both bands fired up the underground and likewise made their marks on the mainstream with Grammy nominations and invites to play Ozzfest and the like. Both band are still going strong, as Shadows Fall this year released  “Fire From the Sky” (review here, while Killswitch returned to its roots by reinstalling Jesse Leach as its singer. This tour features Killswitch performing “Alive or Just Breathing”_ its breakthrough album made in 2002 with Leach, though he departed the band not long after its release_ even while new material has already surfaced since Leach rejoined  KsE in April at the New England Metal and Hardcore festival.

The Shads/KsE show brings the bands back to their original stomping grounds with a show Wednesday, Dec. 19, at Pearl Street night club in Northampton, MA, which, like other stops on the tour, is the kind of venue where the fans get up close.

For Acaro_ the third member of this Made-in-Massachusetts metal package_ these are some of the biggest shows it has played to date and marks the first time it has been part of a national tour. Guitarist Felipe Roa says things couldn’t be going any better.

“There hasn’t been a bad show for any of the three bands. We play small clubs usually, so while these are small shows for them, these are big for us, and we’ve been getting huge feedback from the audiences. And it’s great seeing how the crowds get right up there to Shadows Fall and Killswitch. Those guys can get right in and crowd surf if they what to,” Roa says.

Acaro is ready for this kind of attention. The band’s independently made full-length “The Disease of Fear” was picked up by Goomba Records for international release in October.  Acaro formed in 2008 with has some pretty familiar faces. Roa played in Chilean metal band Angor. Singer Chris Harrell was in Burn in Silence. Guitarist Chris Robinson played in Infinite Descent. Bassist Kevin Smith was in Bigfoot. And drummer Jay Fitzgerald was a member of Overcast alongside Shadows Fall singer Brian Fair and Killswitch Engage bassist Mike D’Antonio.

“Chris (Harrell) is friends with Jesse, and Jay has the Overcast connection, but those guys really believed in our music. That’s why they wanted us on this tour,” Roa says.

And Acaro is making music that qualifies as the next missive from Mass that’s going to blow open the national metal scene. The guitar work is crisp and anthemic, the rhythms relentless in a hard-core way, and the vocals come wrapped in a diverse mix of dread murmuring and death growls. The tunes on “The Disease of Fear” are tight-knit compositions, all dark and foreboding but peppered with memorable riffs and melodic hooks.

Even though Acaro put out the record locally in 2011, Roa says the band isn’t tiring of presenting the material, acknowledging that especially on a national tour these songs are “new” to every audience. This is a band clearly willing to put in its time, with Roa  saying when not on tour Acaro rehearses three times per week, playing “The Disease of Fear” from top to bottom _ twice.

“Before the tour we sat down and put together a set that we thought would have the best impact. So far it’s going over pretty well,” Roa says. “The key point to our live show is that we just throw it down.”

Roa says Acaro has felt the love in such unexpected metal outposts as Gallup, N.M., and Salt Lake City, UT. Even the California Metal Fest_ which was stacked with screamo bands_ gave Acaro a good response

“It was a lot of young kids and bands like Asking Alexandria. But a lot of people still checked us out even though we were old and stinky,” Roa says.

The only weirdness Roa had to speak of actually occurred on the day we caught up with him. The band was in Columbus, OH, scheduled to play in the venue where Dimebag Darrell was shot in 2004.

“It’s heavy shit,” Roa says. “We love him so much. It feels awkward. I’m just trying to stay away from the venue until the show.”

No such shit should be in the air Wednesday, Dec. 19, when this Masshole Extravaganza hits Pearl Street nightclub, 10 Pearl Street, Northampton Once Beloved is also on the bill and gets the concert going at 7:30 p.m. The tour then heads up to Maine on Thursday Dec. 20, for a show at the State Theater, 609 Congress St., Portland, ME.

Acaro will be back in Boston on Feb. 2 playing at Church with The Empire Shall Fall (Jesse Leach’s other project), the River Neva and bunch of other decent heavy bands.

“We’re going to write and release more material soon. We just need to decide how we want to put it out. We’re glad we did a CD last time even though people said nobody buys CDs any more,” Roa says. “We’ve sold more than 300 on this tour, so I think some people still do want CDs.”

Especially ones as good as “The Disease of Fear.”

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