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      Friday, December 1 saw the metal month kick off at Brick By Brick with a slew of talent. Thrash ensemble/shred worshippers Monarch from North County started the night off strong with wailing solos and fast hooks. Axemen Matt Smith & Casey Trask aren’t strangers to performing together but seemed to possess extra fervent chemistry during their duel leads. Drummer Adam West and low-end man Alex Pickard kept the tempos tight and loud. The recent release of their debut album Go Forth… Slaughter seems to have lit a fire in them that translated into a fun and vigorous performance.

      Fellow thrashers Raise The Guns subsequently presented their melodic approach to the genre. The band, also composed of skillful musicians, did well picking up where Monarch left off. Rather than going down the often-imitated route of retro thrash, Raise The Guns used technicality and lyrical choruses to give their music some modern flare. The quartet (aided by Monarch guitarist Casey Trask) were lively and well-rehearsed, however the vocals weren’t quite as dynamic as heard on their album War Of Attrition. Nevertheless, Raise The Guns contributed a solid set to the bill.

      Direct support act and San Diego favorites Eukaryst came out of the gate swinging. Technical shred and gnarly chords permeated the room while heads moved towards the stage. Eukaryst hasn’t been playing a ton of shows this year, so combining that with their already loyal draw gave them the evening’s most sizeable lineup. As it turns out, the newer songs from their self-titled EP provided some dynamic twists. This band is bona fide TUFF.

      Headliners Fallujah had an engaging presence, working the stage like touring and professional bands should. However the music didn’t leave much for me to sink into. I’d been informed extensively about their “ambient breaks, dude” but just couldn’t get into it. I wanted to like them, but the clunky song structures and overproduced effects made it difficult to go along for the ride. Regardless, Fallujah performed powerfully and closed out the night to an overall well-received show. Thank you Brick By Brick and Black Arrow Entertainment for putting it together!

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