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Coalesce re-coalesces for reunion tour

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Nothing new: Coalesce
  • Nothing new: Coalesce

Both doom-metal fans who bought the latest Sunn0)))/Boris split album and progcore kids with their Circa Survive and Mars Volta shirts would do well to look back at the mid-'90s and study the heavy-music pioneers who opened up the realms of hardcore and metal to more than just blast beats and breakdowns. Chief among those would be epic San Francisco band Neurosis, and following close behind is Coalesce, a legendary Kansas City quartet that has recently reformed for a reunion jaunt.

Like many mosh-pit bands of that era, Coalesce was swept up in the "metalcore" category, even catching the notice of U.K. grindcore progenitors Earache Records for an early 7-inch single. But the band soon transcended that niche, writing songs that continued to get ever heavier, longer and louder. The 1997 full-length debut Give Them Rope made a significant impact with kids looking to break with the conventional floor-punching scenario, and Coalesce did further split-releases with the likes of Converge, Napalm Death, Today Is the Day and Boy Sets Fire.

Yet all through this productive period, Coalesce failed to live up to its name. Rather than display unified fortitude, its members were constantly coming and going, though frontman Sean Ingram's growled, grizzly-bearish onslaught remained constant. Two Coalesce bassists -- Nathan Ellis and Stacy Hilt -- started The Casket Lottery, while drummer James DeWees switched to keyboards for tours with The Get Up Kids, New Found Glory and My Chemical Romance, as well as his solo act Reggie and the Full Effect. None of these projects sounded anything like Coalesce, and they distracted from the band's efforts to create new material.

One of Coalesce's best-known releases, in fact, wasn't even original music. 1999's There Is Nothing New Under the Sun was an album of Led Zeppelin covers -- not the coolest thing for a post-hardcore band to do at the time. (Though with the return of the classic-rock sound and the advent of cover groups such as Lez Zeppelin, it was probably prescient.)

After false starts in 2002 and 2005, Coalesce finally decided to, uh, re-coalesce. Founding guitarist Jes Steineger is back, along with Ellis. A new EP, called Salt and Passage, and a DVD package of 15 live shows are being self-released by the band, while intelli-metal bastion Hydra Head has pressed a remastered Nothing New.

Teen-agers who grew up on the Family Values and Ozzfest tours would do well to listen and learn about the quantum physics of hardcore.

Coalesce with Daughters, See You Next Tuesday, Once Nothing and Bearathon. 6 p.m. Mon., Aug. 20. Lawrenceville Moose, 120 51st St., Lawrenceville. $12. All ages. 888-690-9875 or www.bridgeportent.com

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