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Metal band This or the Apocalypse roars through Champs in Trenton

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This or the Apocalypse 1This or the Apocalypse, a five man metal band hailing from Lancaster, PA, threw down at the backstage of the Championship Bar and Grill when they played a set on Friday night, October 4, 2013. This or the Apocalypse is the second national metal act from Lancaster to play at Champs year.

Currently touring as openers for Kansas City metal/electronica group The Browning, This or the Apocalypse has played at Champs many times.

“It’s a bit of a gem, really,” Rick Armellino, the band’s singer, told The VOICE in a recent interview, adding:  “A filthy little gem. It’s definitely one of the cooler small venues. They run it like a real venue and they really know what they’re doing.”

The band formed in 2005, and has since released one album on their own, as well as three other full length albums through three different record labels.

Last fall This is the Apocalypse headlined a tour in support of their album Dead Years. They have since played several other tours supporting bands like Bleeding Through and Alesana.

It’s not uncommon for bands to constantly want to play bigger and better venues on increasingly more prominent tours, but the members of This or the Apocalypse say they are happy with where they are right now.

“I think right now we’re at a place where we’re all content doing what we do, and it’s brought the most growth on that we’ve ever had. I just try to be happy doing this,” Armellino told The VOICE.

When it was almost time for This or The Apocalypse to take the stage the grotto-like backstage room was very still. Most of the crowd stood tentatively along the walls, leaving a gaping hole in the center of the floor. The lights were dimmed in the already gloomy hall and a few minutes later the band took to the stage to cheers and applause from their fans.

The moment guitarists Jack Esbenshade and Rodney Phillips shredded through the opening riffs to Hell Praiser, the hole in the middle of the room was overtaken by dancing fans, flailing their arms and legs wildly, colliding with everything in their path.

Much of the crowd collectively took a step towards the back of the room so to not to become collateral damage, but Armellino quickly objected.This or the Apocalypse 2

“What the fuck are you doing in the back?!” he yelled, before unleashing the song’s opening roar. Armellino got right in the middle of the crowd. With his mic in hand he weaved through the fans to herd them closer to the stage.

When Bassist Cody Canavaugh wasn’t leaping back and forth across the stage he was perched on a box overlooking the crowd, beckoning them to clap along with the beat.

One highlight was watching Armellino launch himself into the crowd only to have his fans hold him up as he finished singing the lyrics to A Damn Moment. “I know what it’s like/I know what it’s like/I know what it’s like/To give up.” Armellino beckoned while the hands of his audience suspended him above the room.

When the band began playing the final song of their set, Charmer, the opening track of their 2010 album, Haunt What’s Left, the energy in the room escalated to a new level.

As fans threw themselves at each other to the song’s furious guitar riffs, they managed to pull Armellino off the stage completely. He still managed to finish the song, and the set, a feat that was met with the thunderous approval from the crowd.

Ben Knudson, third year accounting major at Rowan University who attended the Champs gig said, “I’d never listened to This or the Apocalypse before the show and I was blown away by how energetic and tight their performance was.”

“They absolutely tore the house down, literally and figuratively as shown by the chunks of ceiling that fell to the floor,” said Nick Bonsanto, drummer for the South Jersey thrash metal band, Thrashole, who also attended. He added: “They truly represent the hardcore scene in what a band could and should be: solid, refreshing, intense and passionate.”

This or the Apocalypse has better musicianship than the average metal outfit. The wailing guitar leads can be heard cleanly over the punishing drum beats delivered by drummer, Aaron Ovecka. Each band member plays with great purpose creating a very full sound.

“I don’t go to Champs too often because I barely listen to metal these days, and I’m getting a little old to enjoy getting punched in the face by angsty high schoolers,” said Knudson, “But I had a lot of fun at the show.”

“I view what I do as entertainment. I try to keep a really good attitude about it.”  said Armellino. “As long as you’re doing your job well and are showing consistency and are gradually improving over time then you’re doing a good job.”

This or the Apocalypse puts on an impressive and impassioned performance. They make the crowd feel as though they are part of the show and don’t hesitate to get a little crazy. One of the most important things is that it’s easy to tell that the guys in the band are having a great time while they are playing, which makes the show all that much more enjoyable for the audience.

This or the Apocalypse continues their current tour until the middle of November and are currently working on a new record.

Correction: The bass player pictured is Cody Canavaugh, and not Matthew Marcellus. Canavaugh is a touring musician that is filling in for Marcellus while he is on a leave on absence. This has been changed in the body of the article.

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