Noctambulist, Sunless Eclipse the Rest in Boise

Noctambulist at the Shredder in Boise, ID, on 4.10.22

“Just remember what ol’ Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big old storm right in the eye and says, ‘Give me your best shot. I can take it.’ ” -Jack Burton, “Big Trouble in Little China”

The Shredder, Boise’s go-to club for brutal bands, came out of the pandemic with guns blazing. Tech/death-metal legends Defeated Sanity and Skeletal Remains dropped by late last month. Meanwhile, Inferi, Wayfarer, Bewitcher, Nite, Borknagar, Rotting Christ, Necronomicon, the Convalescence and Malevolent Creation will perform there over the next month.

But of all the bands playing the Shredder, Willowtip Records artists Noctambulist and Sunless are definitely, irrefutably, without question, the most recent. They visited the venue Sunday night.

Bad joke aside, both bands brought it. Their sets were short but by no means sweet (🤘), and the contingent of fans who attended stayed savored one of the best metal shows to hit Boise so far in 2022.

Denver’s Noctambulist took the stage early, around 8:40, in support of their July 2021 release, The Barren Form. The quartet describes their new songs as “a manifestation of depression, grief, anxiety and fear — a fitting theme for present day.” While the last five years could be construed as one long, rotten day, Noctambulist at least made it entertaining to witness their artistic interpretation of the seemingly never-ending misery. (It also helped that arcade games, a big ET doll and vintage posters for DIY bands line the venue.)

Vocalist Sean McConnell showcased his dedicated efforts to destroy his vocal cords. Andreas Tee’s layered guitar work created the illusion that he somehow multitasked with a second instrument. Ryan Hunter’s bass was so loud that it shook the stomachs and jawbones of those in attendance. And with long hair often covering his entire face, drummer Michael Nolan proved himself a master impersonator of Cousin Itt from the Addams Family.

But most impressively of all, Noctambulist transfixed the head-banging crowd with three epic songs, as opposed to the litany of 90-second spurts that most tech-metal bands prefer. 

Sunless at the Shredder in Boise, ID, on 4.10.22

One or two attendees left after Noctambulist’s all-out assault, but Sunless didn’t throw any shade on them during their own blitzkrieg of a set. The gargantuan, Gorguts-sounding Minneapolis trio played five of the eight songs featured on their October 2021 record, Ylem. With subject matter somewhat similar to Noctambulist’s Barren Form, Sunless describes the second chapter in their trilogy as “exploring new themes of displacement, fear, wonder and transcendence.”

That said, Sunless’ performance was hookier and even more dissonant than Noctambulist’s, even though it didn’t seem possible before Sunless went onstage. With succinct blasts, frequently but not jarringly abrupt time changes and guitarist/vocalist Lucas Scott’s abstemiousness prowess, Sunless delivered a surprisingly visceral sound. He wore a Nile tee, and one could see a clear line drawn from Scott’s tech-death shredding to that of Nile guitarist Karl Sanders.

While Sunday night’s sets by Sunless and Noctambulist clocked in around 35 and 30 minutes, respectively, the daunting amount of technical skill they packed into each song, with nary a misstep, was an awesome feat to witness. They looked that big old storm right in the eye, gave it their best shot — and succeeded.

Props to Scott for chatting after the show and handwriting this set list just for the Bad Penny:

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