Get Lost With DIIV


DIIV play Music Box May 18, Observatory May 19, The Regent May 21; photo Sandy Kim

Are you ready to get your shoes on and your shoe-gaze on? Brooklyn’s DIIV (formerly Dive) are crossing coasts to bring you an ample dosage of the genre. They have three trips planned for SoCal starting May 18 at Music Box in San Diego, The Observatory in Santa Ana May 19 and The Regent in Los Angeles May 21.

DIIV is the creation of Beach Fossils guitarist Z. Cole Smith. And the two full-lengths by the band, Is The Is Are and Oshin, are very much saturated with guitar presence. Even though the album is rich with ethereal vocal tones and chords, the guitar workings surface above all of that creating a thick choir of melody.

One can get lost in the harmonious hum of both studio albums, and just before the monotonous seems to take a foothold within the progression of the songs, the texture of the music shifts into moments that will remind some listeners of Joy Division and Bauhaus, minus the atmosphere of darkness and depression that one can feel from those bands. No, DIIV is music for rocking on silvery fluffy clouds or for a smooth drive down the coast on a sunny day. That’s music perfect for tour dates in California, isn’t it?

DIIV; photo Sandy Kim

DIIV; photo Sandy Kim

There are harder hitting patches in the music giving it a groove and maintaining an indie-rock feel. Then there are sections that seem to fade into the background giving the sound an even more dreamy quality, which a shoe-gaze junkie would be fiending for.

The diversity in the compositions is something sure to take notice of with this band. I find it is not common and/or easy for most bands to keep a multi-genre title under their belt. Bands tend to be more one genre over another. Such is not the case here with the balance in the music that DIIV keeps steady.

There are even moments where the band’s shoe-gaze trips morph into psychedelic ones with artsy statics and noises to boot. But should it be that one had their hair in their face for too long or forgot where they were, the sound soon shifts again and takes the listener somewhere else.

The aspect of the music that seems to keep you in this lucid-dream-state instead of floating off into unconsciousness are the siren-like male vocals that softly sneak in on most of the tracks. They are wonderfully hypnotic and mantra-like at times.

For all the cold-floor-bliss-rockers lurking in SoCal, you can follow DIIV like a dead-head would follow The Grateful Dead for three nights. Although the last night is on a Sunday and may not give you ample time to come down off three doses of DIIV by the time you need to wake up for work Monday. Yet, you may enjoy extending that trip into a potential manic work week and choose to just relax while on the job.

Delain And Hammerfall Tour 2017 Hits SoCal


DELAIN and HAMMERFALL play The Whiskey A Go Go May 9 and The Grove of Anaheim May 10; promo photo

For all the melodic-symphonic and power-metal-heads out there in SoCal, the Delain and HammerFall tour will make stops at The Whiskey-A-Go-Go May 9 and The Grove of Anaheim May 10. The remainder of the U.S. tour encompasses 12 states and two tour dates in British Colombia.

Delain is a musical exploration into the realms of pain, sorrow, yearning and love. Many of the songs are graced by the elegant female vocal performances of Charlotte Wessels who ascended quickly within the Dutch group. She was basically an unknown when joining, but evolved to become a song and lyric writer for the band alongside founder and keyboardist Martijn Westerholt. Now she has 5 full-length releases under her belt and what was meant only to be a studio-band is now on tour.

The overall sound of Delain will appeal to both metal and mainstream fans due the well-blended collage of heavy guitars, synths and choruses. There is almost a new-age feel to the music that at the same time retains an edge and classy sense of aggression. That edge and aggression is created by the two axes in the band: Timo Somers and Merel Bechtold


HAMMERFALL; press photo

Hailing from Sweden, power metallurgists HammerFall tell a tale of perseverance. From their debut creation Glory To The Brave in 1997 and up until the band’s most recent full-length release Built to Last in 2016, the band has suffered a series of serious set-backs. Sickness and affliction have beset their rock and roll path: Shortly after the release of their 1998 album Legacy of Kings, vocalist Joacim Cans came down with a throat-infection so dire that he could no longer sing for most of the remaining tour dates that year.

Ironically, Cans was a “one-night-stand” vocalist replacing Mikael Stanne who was unavailable to sing for The Swedish Rockslaget contest in 1997. Cans’ performance helped to bring them into the semi-finals and that must have been enough to attract the attention of the German label Nuclear Blast which offered the band a four-record deal that same year. But alongside this success, Cans’ throat-infection then spread to the bassist, Magnus Rosen and then the whole of the band’s support crew.

The group was also subjected to more commonplace and less severe trials: Members quit and new members joined. Yet in 2002, another hammer fell on HammerFall: After the release of Crimson Thunder and while on tour, song-writer, guitarist, back-up vocalist and keyboardist Oscar Dronjak was injured in a motorcycle accident. Dronjak sustained minor injuries. But such impacted him enough to where he was forced to take a break that led to the inevitable cancellation of further tour dates.

With a band like HammerFall, the lyric: “It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll” could easily come to mind. And here we are in 2017, 20-years later, 15-band-members later, 10 full-length-releases and 27 ep’s/singles later and they are on tour again. These are some impressive achievements for a band that was intended only to be a side-project.

So, prepare yourselves for an intense wave of melodic-symphonic metal and a falling hammer of mid-paced, high-toned, folksy and ballad-rich five-star power metal! For fans of these genres, these are shows you don’t want to miss!