Getting ready to return to the touring lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to, Ohio-based Metalcore and Hard Rock group Beartooth presented fans with the next best thing to seeing them from the barricades. Bringing their new album Below (Red Bull Records) to life with elaborate visuals and booming sparklers, The Journey Below livestream reminds us what rock shows are all about in case anyone has forgotten.
Images of silhouette figures and ghostly forests surrounded by a veil of fog create an uneasy yet captivating aura before the band kicks into the album’s opening title track. From frontman Caleb Shomo’s fierce performance, you can tell he’s had a beast growing inside him – one that was ravenously fighting for release the past year and a half of not being on stage. He even whips out a guitar for the raging ‘Fed Up’ and blaring closer ‘The Last Riff’, making the deafening riffs sound even huger. Bassist Oshie Bichar provides key vocal elements as well with his vibrant harmonies and call-and-response lines he joins Shomo in. Their energies and tones were so in sync that they could have been connected as one mega-vocalist.
And the thrilling components coming from every angle don’t stop there. When a demonic voiceover introduces select new songs making their live debuts, it truly feels like you’re being taken on a journey “below”. The eerie dissonance and immense blast beats of ‘Dominate’ then pull you down further to a place that’s sure to leave your ears ringing.
Despite the show having a primary focus on the new record, they were able to fit a satisfying amount of old material into the set as well. Throwing it back to their 2014 debut album Disgusting, the band demonstrated their growth since then by playing ‘The Lines’, ‘Beaten in Lips’ and ‘Body Bag’ back to back at their fullest potential. While I was almost disappointed they didn’t include the fan favorite ‘In Between’, it was not long until they revealed they had saved it for later in the set, much to my nostalgic pleasure. Singing along was my instinctive response as soon as Shomo started singing the opening “whoas”, bringing me back to seeing them at Warped Tour in my late teens – and it’s even better with their newly evolved live setup and musicianship.
After the raucous ‘Bad Listener’, Shomo gives a sentimental speech about a rough past year and how cathartic it feels to be performing again. He goes into how rock and roll is the glue that holds us together during tough times like the pandemic, making for the perfect segue into ‘Disease’. The tenderhearted atmosphere continues as he sings the opening lines, “Is it taking over? Will it bury me? Or will clarity become the cure for my disease?”
Although Beartooth are known for their anthemic choruses that sound massive with a crowd chanting along (almost as if they were made specifically for live settings), the empty venue did not hinder their energy in the slightest. Having fans banging their heads and singing from the rooftops of their own homes was enough to keep the band overloaded with unfazed vigor. It takes blood, sweat and tears to make an online show feel this real and personal, but they pulled it off effortlessly. This was one performance that no concert-hungry Beartooth lover will ever forget.
Purchase and stream Beartooth music here: https://beartoothband.com/