Monday, April 20, 2015

New Music: Tattermask

Charlotte has come a long way for women in rock. When I first moved here for college in the mid `90s there were a handful of established female rock musicians like Hope Nicholls, Violet Strange, and a few others. But, even though I worked at a record store frequented by musicians, I wasn't running into girls like myself that wanted to start bands. Winston-Salem's Squatweiler came the closest to what I was looking for, which was a Southern answer to angry, punk-fueled riot grrrl.

Today the city is rich in female rock musicians from the folks that run Girls Rock Charlotte, who are fostering the next generation of female rockers to bands like Something Clever, Grown Up Avenger Stuff, and Tattermask.

The aforementioned metal five-piece kicks off Revolver Magazine's Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock Tour at Tremont Tuesday. The lineup also features female-fronted bands Flyleaf, the Agonist, Fit For Rivals, Diamante, and Falling For Scarlet. Yes, the sexist nature of singling out these ladies as "hot" is noted given that there's no hottest guys in hard rock tour. But if you dig female singers like I do, then a collection of these bands on one bill is a good thing. I've had bands tell me they've sometimes been told by promoters that they already have a "girl band" on a bill, so they don't need another, which I think is absolutely ridiculous. I want to see so-called girl bands and I think a lot of other people do too.

Tattermask recently released its "Carpe Noctem" EP. The 5-song collection includes the band's cover of Seal's "Kiss From a Rose" and four other original tracks. Tattermask specializes in catchy, hard charging metal with soaring theatrical female vocals reminiscent of Lacuna Coil and Evanescence. Obviously if they can cover Seal, they're a pretty versatile act and Amanda is a very capable vocalist.

The EP is stacked with memorable tracks. My favorite may be "Concern," which juxtaposes Middle Eastern guitar (maybe even sitar) with pummeling riffs and bass. "Better Off Alone" builds to a sing-along chorus while "Asylum" creates a menacing and haunting vibe that is fit for a horror movie soundtrack. It's capped with another memorable chorus and showcases the band's grasp of dynamics. Some metal bands just constantly hit you in the face with distortion and aggression, but it's the prettier, quieter parts that allow the heavier sections to rumble with even more force.

You can listen to "Carpe Noctem" here. And check them out early on Tuesday's bill. The show starts at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Tattermask seems like the perfect pick to open such a lineup. With talented players and a knack for writing and arranging, its on par with bigger national acts. Hopefully touring behind the EP will bring the group more national recognition.

(Photo: Scott Grube, Altered Ego Images)