Since I’ve moved to New Jersey nearly a year ago I truly don’t have many reasons to go back to New York City…for anything. Dead serious. So when I got an invite from Anaka frontman Jimmy Pallis to see them this past Saturday in Brooklyn, I couldn’t say no. It’d been close to two years since I last saw them at Gramercy Theater so I was a little overdue. Brief history for those of you who don’t know them: The band was started by Jimmy and his guitarist brother Peter in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in 2000. Since then Anaka has realeased five albums between then and last year, when they released The Unwavering, they’ve had their videos played on MTV (particularly “Rust And Jade” in 2004) and they even wrote a new theme song for The Ultimate Warrior when he made his brief return to wrestling in 2008.
But more important than any of that shit, they’re extremely loyal to their fans and you can tell that they love what they do. If Jimmy and Peter were both willing to drive to my neck of the woods a year ago just to sell little ol’ me a ticket that should tell you something. Jimmy also has a great memory, when he texted me he told me he remembered I was out of state now and offered to mail me my ticket. I forgot I even told him I was gone! Now that I think about it…maybe I told him when he was at my house last time.
Anyway, I’ve also wanted to check out the Black Bear Bar for a while now, just too bad that it had to be in the heart of hipsterland, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s times like this that I wish Williamsburg went back to being a hellhole – it’d probably be a hell of a lot more affordable than it is now. There’s literally real estate there that pricier than even Manhattan nowadays! So here’s how I’m going to do this: there were five bands on the bill and I don’t want to bore the shit out of you with one to two paragraphs on each band so I’m categorizing everybody in the groups, The Great, The Good and The Shitty. Let’s start from the bottom since that’s how the show seemed to progress anyway!
So the first band on was The Crimson Syndicate. The were loud, which did get me interested at first. The singer could growl like a motherfucker. The problems? First off, what is it with bands that have two singers both practically doing the same fucking thing?? It’s one thing to have two singers with completely different roles, like 3 Inches Of Blood did until 2008. Fuck, what’s the point at all? I used to like Scar Symmetry a lot and even played them on my radio show frequently. But when they decided to replace their departing lead singer with two guys I couldn’t help but place my head in my hands. Next, they turned out to be Deathcore. Enough said. Worse? They’re from Staten Island, home to guidos, guinea trash and lots of herion. There’s not a lot of great music in Staten Island – but there are lots of drugs!
The Last Alliance from Queens was next. I won’t be so brutal with them, at least they were tight and on point. But I have no patience for the power/progressive metal shit. Their guitarist did play some badass stuff at times and the singer has a hell of a set of pipes; I will not deny him his due credit. But the lyrical themes were so power metal that at times you could just taste the cheesiness. Another no no for me? Keyboards.
End All was the first band whose singer had a command over the audience. He had a lot of energy and his voice fit the music perfectly. The band’s music are a little more radio friendly than I’d normally go for but it still was heavy and it didn’t sound phony either. The rhythm section were great. The one thing holding them back from greatness? The guitarist. No, he didn’t suck at all – but his sound sure did. This guy has a Dean Razorback going through a Peavey and I’d love to understand how he can get such a weak sound out of that! It’s a shame because he could’ve easily cut through the band during his solos when the time came and, not that he was inaudible, but he just couldn’t cut through the mix. If you’re THE guitarist in a one guitar band there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to be heard. He was great but he should either work on the sound he’s getting out of that Peavey head or get an overdrive pedal to use just for solos, like an Ibanez Tubescreamer or a Boss Super Overdrive (I actually own both of these and love them!).
Proxima Control impressed me very much. It’s hard to describe their sound. It’s really heavy yet really melodic. At first I really didn’t understand the point of one guitar playing a standard six string and another playing a seven string until they played this one riff were the seven string player was cleverly using the low seven – tuned down to G – to make whatever his co-guitarist was playing sound even beefier. Just like that it all made sense because they weren’t doing that in every single song. That’s what you call a great ear for dynamics, knowing the right place and the right time for everything. It always makes all the difference.
The bassist probably impressed me more than anyone else in the band. Not only could he keep up with those fast tempos with his fingers, sometimes hitting multiple notes at once, he can even tap out the licks and cleanly go back to plucking without skipping a beat.
Anaka were the headliners here. No sooner do they get on stage did Jimmy yell out to the crowd “Brooklyn, New York! What’s our fuckin’ name?!?!” to the roar of the crowd. I was expect a full on moshpit like the one that got me pinned against the bar at Killarney’s, where I first saw Anaka back in 2012. My left quad hurt for two weeks after that night! At the end of this you’ll get a link to a playlist featuring a clip of their set as well as Proxima Control’s and End All’s sets.
The band were firing on all cylinders here. Jimmy looked real hyper up there. I don’t know if I gave him some of my C4 pre-workout and I just don’t remember or he was just amped up but he was wild up there. And the screaming was probably the most intense I’ve ever heard it. It’s not easy to keep up with after sixteen years so he had my respect there. What really caught my eye more than anything was Peter’s guitar. I was standing on his side of the stage and saw he had this gorgeous ESP guitar that resembled a cream Gibson Flying V, similar to Scott Ian’s new Jackson Signature V, but with EMG pickups instead of Duncans.
I had to know what the deal was. So I went up to him and he let me know that he’s officially signed to ESP’s roster and he bought that guitar directly from them. He even let me cop a feel, that neck feels nice. Too bad he’s lefty because I really wanted to try it. He also revealed to me that he’s now also endorsed by KHDK Electronics, you know, the pedal company co-founded/co-owned by Kirk Hammett. He had the Ghoul Screamer on his pedalboard as a booster for his Dual Rectifier. I have to admit, it had to be the thickest Pete’s tone has ever been.
Check out Anaka’s website from their music, facebook and upcoming shows, including North Music Venue in Long Island on July 29th.
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My next blog should be a review of Helix Nebula so stay tuned.