Putting two and two together

Luca Brasi plays with Dark Castle, Thunder Over Water and Monarch on Tuesday at The Atlantic.

Jana Miller/Special to The Sun
Published: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 3:34 p.m.

Can't say I'm a fan of the New Year's resolution.

It's basically a combination of two things: unrealistic fantasizing and lying to other people about making that reality.

But I do follow the ancient Babylonian version of the tradition, and hereby promise to return any farming equipment that I've borrowed in the last year. Although, I fear the ox has seen its last plow season. Sorry, Nabonidus.

The whole combo idea can get iffy sometimes. Exotic flavor Starbursts double as gerbil-house bricks. The entire Middle East is a crossover gone horribly awry. And need I say more than Hall and Oates?

It can work too, and I expect Dark Castle will tell you the same just before they prove it on Tuesday at The Atlantic, 15 N. Main Street, where they will play with Thunder Over Water, Monarch and Luca Brasi.

Placing Thunder Over Water, a decidedly low-tempo instrumentalist outfit, with metalheads and hard-core kids would seem quite out of place without the inclusion of fusioners Dark Castle.

They're a "girl and her man-child" duo that are taking the less-traveled metal road by mixing their sound with ambient elements common among much more low-key groups.

Frontwoman Stevie Floyd plays the crux role here, pulsing out vocals that would scare off a herd of wildebeest while taking care of all the string work - there's no bassist or backup to help. Her backer and drummer, Robbie, has only the drums to play, but that's no small task. He succeeds, wrapping around the guitar work to make a full sound and sometimes breaking off on his own with a speedy precision that can mesmerize.

This is the kind of thing you really have to hear yourself to appreciate, or even understand. The blend achieves beautifully dark soundscapes like a dark winter night in an English bog. If Mr. Holmes played a BC Rich instead of a violin, this would be his soundtrack. The fast bits of their performance hint classic black metal which, slowed down, makes for an emotive, if not simply trippy, sensation.

Plus, there's a good-looking lady metalhead involved.

What catches the eye about this show is the presentation element. Musical elements really bind the package together, instead of separating. What degrees differentiate the four groups are also commonalities.

Thunder Over Water is purely of the ambiance that Dark Water borrows.

Now, give me a little credit. I'm aware that most people don't have the patience and attention span for instrumentalism. I even have a little trouble myself some ... oh, look, it's a squirrel.

This band goes with the George Mallory approach, seemingly doing things with their instruments, because the capability is there. They by no means have a set sound. Some compositions are more rock 'n' roll than laid-back and their speed and timing can vary wildly - but without being totally out of place.

The refreshment factor is high as well, because a surprising share of music is narrowly rooted in composing around lyrics. Defecting from the vocal structure gives Thunder Over Water great freedom, which they use Jeffersonianly.

They also get major points for having a guy named Kyle in the band. Good show, namesake.

Monarch, if you haven't already guessed, is the other piece of the puzzle. If it weren't for their opposite's quality, this kind of metal would unbalance this equation.

I'll admit it's an entirely personal draw, but I just dig on this manner of metal. Vocals and theatrical flare like Norwegian death metal combined with a very Pantera-ish large American sound. Some people prefer their metal to be a straight-up smack in the face, but I like a good breakdown or two mixed in there.

Hey, I'm not that hardcore. I'll call you after I get my first flaming skull tattoo.

Good thing I don't have to be. There's no street-cred requirement for going out and experiencing yet another of music's many faces - particularly one so well-done.

People are still heading in and out of town right now, so available options are relatively slim. But, I'll not complain if 10 different shows in a weekend can be called "slim." There's some indie pop happening at 1982, 919 W. University Ave., tonight with The Deaf Children, Heidegger Heidegger, Fillmore East and Ashes in Arlington. On Saturday, The Atlantic has another mixed (but more subdued) rock and instrumental bill with The Get Down, Primates, Taylor Mott and a rare appearance by longtime local favorite Witness The Fitness. Not bad for a half-full city.

Reach Kyle at quieteidolon@gmail.com.

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